Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/75

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


by one, or by twos and threes, they came waddling gravely down to where it lay, examined it all over and as gravely waddled back, looking up into the explorers’ faces as if for some explanation of the meaning and purpose of the strange craft. They had, too, a queer way of extending their necks, rubbing their cheeks softly against the men’s furs, as if it felt good to them. The only thing they seemed disappointed in were the ship’s rations—these they would not touch.

“Leaving the whole flock grouped about the boat, the party pushed on to the dark shadow up the white slope. It was, as he had supposed, an overhanging cliff, its abrupt edge and slant forming a shallow cave protected from the glaciers and endless snows. As he approached nearer he could make out the whirling flight of birds, and when he reached the edge he found it inhabited by thousands upon thousands of sea fowl—a gray and white species common to these latitudes. But there was no commotion nor excitement of any kind—no screams of alarm or running to cover. On the contrary, when the party came to a halt and looked up at the strange sight, two birds stopped in their flight to perch on the mate’s shoulder,