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Cramped up, shut up, confined.
· Away they go, steadily and merrily for a time, and the driver has nothing to do but to sit still and enjoy the rapid motion and the keen bracing air, and look up at the merrily-dancing streamers, thinking how much better this is than to be cramped up in his hut, as he has been for so long. But presently the dogs put down their noses, as if they scented something in the snow, and the driver knows that now his troubles are going to begin. A reindeer or an arctic fox has passed there shortly before. The dogs smell its footsteps, and become furious to start off upon its track. If they are not well managed, they may overturn the sledge, and dash it to pieces.
If the master has time, he will indulge them in going after the scent, and so procure them a good meal, while he keeps the best for himself. But if he is in a hurry to get down to the shore of the frozen sea, for seals and bears, he must do his best to get them put off, and go steadily forward. He carries in his hand a short stick, which he flings now at this dog, now at that, and catches cleverly again; and he calls out sharply words and sentences which they all very well understand; but if it were not for the leader they would have their own way in spite of him.
The leader is by far the most intelligent and obedient dog of the pack. He attends carefully to his master's directions. He refuses, on any consideration, to be turned out of the right onward path. If the others threaten to be too many for him, he will even have recourse to some trick to induce them to follow his lead. He will, perhaps, pretend to smell again on the ground in another direction, and then turn round suddenly and begin to bark, as if he had discovered some new scent, and the other dogs believe him, and begin to follow him readily again.
But now the air suddenly darkens; the master feels alarmed to see some large, soft snow-flakes begin to fall. A storm is approaching; faster and thicker becomes the drift; and in this rackless, snowy desert, without road or tree, there is very great danger of losing his way. The stars, by which he knows how to guide his course, are no longer seen. If the leader cannot find his way to the hut, which is built at a certain distance for the shelter of travellers, all is lost; and before the sledge reaches so far, this hut is showed up, so that no human eye can discover where it is. But, by some wonderful instinct, the leader has found its place : he begins scratching with his feet, while he gives a peculiar bark, and the master knows that his life is saved. He searches for an entrance, manages to dig his way in, and lights a fire with the wood which he finds lying there. Himself and his dogs rest until the storm is over, and the stars once more shine forth. Away then, again, they go, without interruption, until they reach the coast, where master and dogs are equally delighted to dodge about after the seals lying in holes under the ice, or the prowling bears, who are watching to get hold of those very seals in order to make a meal of them, but who have now to turn and defend themselves. Well would the dogs like to remain here altogether; but that cannot be. They have a more wearisome journey before them than when they first set out, for now they will have a load to carry of skins, and blubber, and seal and bear flesh. But they have been well fed, and are in better condition, and less liable to be tempted off by a stray scent; so they make good way this time, and, to the great joy of their mistresses, reach in safety their poor huts again.
Emigrate, to go out of a country.
JOURNEY OVER THE FROZEN SEA. LABRADOR is a part of North America, where the climate is so excessively cold during the winter, that wine becomes frozen into a solid mass, and the very breath falls on the blankets of a bed in the form of a hoar frost. It is inhabited by a people called the Esquimaux, whose usual mode of travelling is as described in the previous chapters. The following is an interesting account of such an expedition, given by an Englishman who had emigrated to America :
Having occasion to visit Okkak, about one hundred and fifty English miles distant from Nain, my friend Samuel and I, with three other men, a woman and a child, left Nain on the 11th of March, 1782. It was early in the morning, with very clear weather, the stars shining with uncommon lustre. Our company were in two sledges. An Esquimaux sledge is drawn by two teams of dogs.
We were all in good spirits, and appearances being in our favor, we hoped to reach Okkak in safety in two or three days. The track over the frozen sea was in the best possible order, and we went with ease at the rate of six or seven miles an hour. After we had passed the islands in the bay of Nain, we kept at a considerable distance from the coast; both to gain the smoothest part of the ice, and to weather the high promontory of Kiglapeit. About eight o'clock we met a sledge with Esquimaux turning in from the sea. After the usual salutation, the Esquimaux alighting, held some conversation, as is their general practice, the result of which was, that some hints were thrown out by the strange Esquimaux that it would be better to return. However, as we saw no reason whatever for it, and only suspected that the Esquimaux wished to enjoy the company of their friends a little longer, we proceeded. After some time, the Esquimaux who drove the sledges, hinted that there was a ground swell under the ice. It was hardly perceptible, except on lying down and applying the ear close to the ice, when a hollow, disagreeable, grating, and roaring noise was heard, as if ascending from the abyss. The weather remained clear, except towards the east, where a bank of light clouds appeared,' interspersed with some dark streaks. But the wind being strong from the north-west, nothing less than a sudden change of weather was expected. The sun had now reached its height, and there was as yet little or no alteration in the appearance of the sky. But the motion of the sea under the ice had grown more perceptible, so as rather to alarm us, and we began to think it prudent to keep close to the shore. The ice had cracks and large openings in many places, some of which forined chasms of one or two feet wide; but as they are not uncommon even in its best statė, and the dogs easily leap over them, the sledge following without danger, they are terrible only to new-comers.
Elasticity, suppleness, flexibility.
As soon as the sun declined towards the west, the wind increased and rose to a storm; the bank of clouds from the east began to ascend, and the dark streaks to put themselves in motion against the wind. The snow was violently driven about by partial whirlwinds, both on the ice, and from off the peaks of the high mountains, and filled the air. At the same time, the ground swell had increased so much, that its effects upon the ice became very extraordinary and alarming. The sledges, instead of gliding along smoothly upon an even surface, sometimes ran with violence after the dogs, and shortly after seemed with difficulty to ascend the rising hill; for the elasticity of so vast a body of ice, of many leagues square, supported by a troubled sea, though in some places three or four yards in thickness, would in some degree occasion a waving
motion, not unlike that of a sheet of paper accommodating itsell to the surface of a rippling stream. Noises were now likewise distinctly heard in many directions, like the report of cannon, owing to the bursting of the ice at some distance.
The Esquimaux, therefore, drove with all haste towards the shore, intending to take up their night-quarters on the south side of the Nivak; but, as it plainly appeared that the ice would break and disperse in the open sea, one of the Esquimaux advised us to push forward to the north of the Nivak, whence he hoped the ice to Okkak might still remain entire. To this proposal we all agreed; but when the sledges approached the coast, the prospect before us was truly terrific. The ice having broken loose from the rocks, was forced up and down, dashing and breaking into a thousand pieces against the precipices, with a tremendous noise, which, added to the raging of the wind, and the snow drifting about in the air, deprived us almost of the power of seeing anything distinctly.
To make the land at any risk, was now the only hope left; but it was with the utmost difficulty the frightened dogs could be forced forward, the whole body of the ice sinking frequently below the surface of the rocks, then rising above it. As the only moment to land was that when it gained the level of the coast, the attempt was extremely nice and hazardous. It, however, providentially succeeded; both sledges gained the shore, and were drawn up the beach without difficulty.
We had hardly time to reflect with gratitude on our safety, when that part of the ice from which we had just now made good our landing, burst asunder, and the water, forcing itself from below, covered and precipitated it into the sea. In an instant, as if by a signal given, the whole mass of ice, extending for several miles from the coast, as far as the eye could reach, began to burst, and be overwhelmed by the immense waves. The sight was tremendous and awfully grand; the large fields of ice raising themselves out of the water, striking against each other, and plunging into the deep, with a violence not to be described, and a noise like the discharge of innumerable batteries of heavy guns. The darkuess of the night, the roaring of the sea, and the dashing of the waves and ice against the rocks, filled us with sensations of awe and horror, so as almost to