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we are precipitated head-foremost into the water. Recovering from our momentary sensation of surprise and bewilderment, we look about for the seal. There she lies, however, dead upon a tongue of ice, and just beneath the surface; but for this platform beneath the waves, which is a rather common shape assumed by floating ice, it would have been a difficult matter to save one's self from drowning, owing to the heavy weight of our fishing-boots and thick clothing. As it is no worse, we grasp the flipper of our dead seal, and with no small difficulty she is stowed away on board the boat, and we slowly follow. A good pull back to the ship to keep up the circulation, and a change of dry clothing, terminates our first lesson upon Arctic ice-a lesson not easily forgotten; lat. 71° 29' N., long. 9° 29' W., temperature of water 31°, of air 32°.
The ice continues to head us since the 7th, and we determine to sail north. Here we obtain our first midnight observation of the sun, and find the altitude 6° 30', lat. 73.12. Up to this point we have been endeavouring to accustom ourselves to the want of darkness, and we now begin to enjoy its absence. The loom (Colymbus septentrionalis) being
being a fast swimmer and active diver, affords us some sport during the necessarily slow progress of our voyage. He requires to be hard hit, as the feathers are so
SHOALS OF SEALS.
thick and closely packed they seem to us to throw off the shot. His beautifully white breast and glossy black plumage greatly interested us, but for lack of the requisite materials for preserving the skins, we were unable to bring back specimens. The sailors enjoyed the flesh of these birds, but our cook did not give us the opportunity of testing its gastronomic qualifications. At 6 P.M. the fog lifted, and we had a fine view of Mount Beerenberg, bearing S.W. I S., at a distance of about eighty miles; the wind was from south-west, and the weather fine. Running with a light breeze along the edge of the floe in the fog on the 8th of June, the ice itself trending towards the north-east, we find ourselves suddenly surrounded by a large shoal of seals; they, too, are racing north, and, as they go, they turn inquisitive looks upon us, and then dash off into the wildest games ever contemplated by boys suddenly released from school, plunging head foremost into the waves; the young and old together rearing themselves half out of the water in their mad gambols, whilst a man seated aloft in the “crow's-nest” keeps constant watch upon
their movements, in the hope that the herds, growing weary of play, will betake themselves to the snowcovered ice, where they seem to enjoy the warm rays of the sun, as they roll over and over, and
gradually subside into a restless sleep, disturbed by the thought of hungry bears, ever on the watch for food, or the still more merciless seal-fisher, their more deadly foe. Now a small family party are seen to approach the ice, and after some preliminary investigations, they proceed to land. In a 'few minutes they are evidently in full enjoyment of their temporary rest; they lie stretched in the sun. A boat is lowered with great circumspection, and after a time the rapid report of fire-arms tells plainly that the seal-hunting has commenced in earnestthe fog is too heavy to enable us to see with what result; but the other boats are soon ready, and, taking with us a compass to find the bearings of the ship, which is only seen occasionally as the fog lifts for a moment, we push off in the direction of the firing party.
A bullet whizzes over our heads in dangerous proximity as we pull up, warning us that the sport is not without its dangers. All is excitement now, and we sit prepared for action. There ! the great head of a seal rises above the water close to the boat. We fire, and miss what might seem an easy chance; but the motion of the boat, always uncertain, renders the shooting of one not expert by practice, anything but reliable. Now the boat is surrounded with the seals, all eagerly gazing at the hunter, but