Oh, John. I write this knowing it will never reach you; yet I live in hope.
I have sponsored another expedition to find some trace of you and your men, though they tell me it is hopeless to continue to search. Perhaps they are right, but I shall never stop until I find some sign of you, e'en if it cost me every penny I posses.
I imagine you in the Arctic wastes of far-north Canada, perhaps in a tent of animal skins, living with some native tribe. You are warm and well-fed, and the children teach you their little games to pass the winter.
Do you wear furs and animal skins? Do you hunt with these people, and fish through the ice? do you think of me, and make plans to travel south somehow and find civilisation, that one day you might see me again?
I do not blame you, my dear John. I have heard stories of how very cold it is in Canada so far north. Perhaps it would be all but impossible for you to make your way back alone. Do any of your men survive? I hope they do. Their poor wives.
Inglefield will be leaving soon, on the Isabel. I have a good feeling about this expedition, John. I do. God willing, they will find some trace of you. I will not rest until you return to me - or I am brought some evidence of your death.
You may rest assured that I am not idle. I have been travelling a great deal with your dear niece Sophia. She has been a wonderful companion to me in the years you have been lost, as have the "old Arctics" that have been so kind as to brave the icy North to find you for me.
I am in Scotland often these days; the Orkney Isles are as close as I can be to you. It is deathly cold in winter, and I wonder if you feel the self-same chill in your bones.
And you know, John, if nothing else, these expeditions I have sent to find you have brought back such fascinating records of the Arctic. How I long to hear you read them to me in the drawing room by the fire!
God willing I will have news of you soon. For now, I will dream and hope.
Now I shall fold this letter and hold it to the candle flame. Whether in the Canadian Arctic or in Heaven I pray its essence will reach you.
There you are Anna! I hope you like it.
There used to be a really depressing documentary about the Franklin Expedition on youtube but I can't find it any more. :(