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present itself, and in collecting fresh stores of facts, such as we might find worthy of record, or to turn towards the south, and run for Norway, to visit the numerous ports of call along her coast, as we made for home. One weighty influence was ever present with us—the state of the weather, which, for some days, had been undergoing a frequent and steady change. The cold was setting in with unusual severity; the southerly wind was driving the ice nearer and nearer into the shallow bays, where the blocks were rapidly being cemented together by the formation of bay ice at their base ; corners where, in ordinary years, the water would have remained open and free from drift ice, were now choked altogether. To such a cause may be attributed the general condition of the season in these remote regions in certain years; and, as an instance of its effects, the greater degree of warmth in some summers in Iceland, when contrasted with others, may fairly be traced to the influence of a strong and prevailing southerly wind; naturally the corresponding increase of cold on the west coast of Spitzbergen would follow, and the interior would equally suffer from the cold blasts of air carried over the land from the frozen fiords. Subsequent events have proved that our opinion was well founded. This year the winter in northern Europe has been unusually mild, while the
SHALL WE GO NORTH ?
severe cold and protracted winter in America has testified to the correctness of our surmise.
It has been noticed also that when the wind in certain years has prevailed in the opposite direction, the results have been fatal to the harvests of the Icelanders. The state of the wind is therefore an object of the greatest solicitude to the inhabitants of that island. We are undecided then as to our next move. Το go
north has a kind of infatuation for us. quite unable to combat this inclination, and we are hardly willing to leave a coast so full of pleasurable recollections, though we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the risk of being caught and sealed up in some little out-of-the-way inlet by the formation of some strong barrier of ice in our rear, may happen at this season whon we least expect it, so sudden is the change of temperature. While we are deliberating, therefore, on what is best to be done, a rapid and quite unlooked-for change in the wind sets all our doubts at rest. A north wind gently fills our sails, and in the direction of home. At once our meditated plans are thrown aside, and the ship’s head is turned once again towards the south and England. At first the flutter of the breeze is hardly perceptible; then its gentle influence is more clearly felt as the sails fill, and the schooner begins to feel its pressure ; soon the welcome wind swells into a lusty gale, and we skim along at a pace that is something to feel, our keel ploughs through the surging waves, and the sea grows heavy with tumbling waves.
Fast as we go the hoarse wind drives the rushing water to madness, and we fly before the wild confusion that hurries up from the north. About our bows, the white crests of foam leap up like hounds at the throat of a hard pressed deer. At our stern the great billows tumble in their haste to engulf us, in their frenzied desire to swamp us altogether. Higher and higher the wild waves rise around us--the schooner is built for such a struggle. Her great breadth of beam abaft helps her to rise to the sea, and she spins along with the ease of a floating sea-bird ; such a wind is the delight of the seaman, secure in the staunchness of his ship. He watches every motion of his craft as she glides through the troubled waters. No sea-sickness now interferes with the true enjoyment of the crew: they have long since forgotten the experience they had of the rough seas to the north of Lerwick on our outward course, and they go about their various occupations with unmistakable enjoyment. On the 21st September we sighted the Shetlands once more ; for three days we had been unable to take the necessary sights for finding our position, and we were