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other instance of the animal's cunning, we may mention that Byers once saw a seal upon the ice a short distance from the breathing hole it also uses as a means of escape in moments of danger. A bear, after seeming deliberation, dived under the ice, and thrust
paw through the hole, struck the seal a blow which killed it.
We perceive our bear stili lurking about at some distance, disappointed of a meal, and grown impatient at his failure. He runs hither and thither, dodging out of view behind every little inequality in the ice, and always coming nearer to the smouldering carcase. All this time the aspect of affairs about us wears a threatening look, and the wind rises rapidly; the ice comes upon us at a pace that is certainly alarming. We are about fifteen miles from the outer edge. Our lake, in which we fluat, is rapidly contracting, and although we cannot complain of the action of the wind upon ourselves, the falling barometer warns us of a gale on the outer verge of the ice, whose force
, is rapidly increasing. Some ice presses towards us from the southwards—a circumstance to be noted, as ice never comes in this direction unless driven by strong winds. The large pieces continue their course towards the south, heedless of the gale, drifting to certain destruction. Now the question grows serious—What shall
we do? Had we a steamer, there would be little difficulty in forcing a passage out, but this southerly gale may so encumber us with ice we shall find ourselves, after all, but farther away from the pack.
We do all that can be done. We press on all sail, and fight our way to the south-east. The trial is too much for us. The result is not as we had expected. Had we gone towards the north-east, or had we remained as we were, we might have done well; we certainly would have done better. Had we gone to the north-east, when we had the opportunity of doing, all would have been well with us. Had we even remained, the temporary difficulty would have adjusted itself; and our little vessel, under the shelter of some protecting “point-ends,” would have rested securely enough, while we could have found time to enjoy the pursuit of the game which abounded in the peighbourhood.
It happened otherwise. Experience, however laboriously obtained, is of no avail, if it is not accompanied with sterling common sense ; and we sail to the south-east, and fall into the open trap. We cannot get through, and the ice surges backwards and forwards for miles between us and the open sea. Large streams of ice scud past, and we tack through the best openings we can find ; the swell lifts the little vessel
aloft and brings her down upon a great piece of ice with a force which sends her shivering from stem to stern, but her stanch timbers are equal to the shock, and she seems none the worse.
Now we miss stays and make a stern board, losing our headway. This endangers our rudder, but it is stoutly built, and resists the hardest knocks. We get her round, and run at high speed between two blocks of ice that threaten to crush us up.
This danger being averted, there is a pause in which every heart feels grateful to a merciful Providence for an, escape so unexpected. We were now forced to, make fast to some ice, and in a short time we were in a sea of water as calm as a pond ; the ice closing us in on all sides was like a low wall opposed to the outside
Weary with labour and watching, our sleep is now only disturbed by an occasional trembling of the ship’s timbers as she gets a squeeze from the ice pressing upon her sides. For the next seven days we are beset. The men pass the time pleasantly enough with various extemporised games, and with keeping a good look-out for game. We go in quest of snow-birds, and one afternoon we see the curious and goodhumoured antics of a mother bear playing with her cubs. These savage animals are
animals are not devoid of tender affection towards their offspring in times of
DEEP SEA SOUNDINGS.
happy undisturbed repose, but when roused by cruel treatment they are ever ready to exert all their maternal instinct in defence of their offspring. It is during these seven days we devote ourselves to a scientific examination of deep-sea temperatures in the Arctic seas. An account of our operations is deserving of a chapter on that special subject.
“ Where the North Pole in moody solitude Spreads her huge tracts and frozen waters round.”
In the following remarks there are points respecting the temperature of the Arctic Sea, to which access is obtained through the broadest gateway to the North, i.e., that between Greenland and Norway, the portal of which is guarded by Spitzbergen. In the western portion, along the coast of Greenland, it is more or less blocked with ice, and the water is cold. In the eastern part, in the vicinity of Spitzbergen, there is warm water and an open sea at certain seasons of the year as far north as 81°, and in some years one or two degrees further. Nearly all the discoveries in these regions have been made by persons engaged in commercial enterprise ; so that, even when favourable opportunities offered, their interests restrained them from taking advantage of
In 1871 Mr. B. Leigh Smith made a cruise in his