Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/101

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VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.

On receiving a harpoon from a boat near us, the whale descended perpendicularly with prodigious velocity; but, on its returning to the surface, we could distinguish at a great depth, that it was coming in a direction towards the spot we had taken. Our undaunted harpooner thus cheered the crew, "give way, my lads, to pull upon her back; never mind yourselves." I was placed at the stern of the boat, which was very narrow, and was standing upon some loose, ropes. The whale arose with all the grandeur imaginable, making a column of water appear to boil around it, by its great bulk, and rapidity of ascent, at a boat's length from us. On raising, its monstrous head, and ejecting a loud and powerful blast, I fired a charge of small shot into it, as the only means in my power to contribute towards securing the prize. At the same time, the harpooner plunged his weapon up to the socket in its back, which caused the fish to make a most convulsive exertion to disengage itself, driving the boat with such extraordinary force against a piece of flat ice, that it was astonishing it was not dashed to pieces. From the insecure situation in which I was standing, having scarcely taken the gun from my shoulder, I was thrown by the effect of the concussion over the boat-steerer's oar, and fell upon the ice, but this fortunately being covered with snow, I received no injury. Instantly recovering myself, I attempted to regain the boat, but the fish had drawn it out of reach, so that I was left to make my observations, the whale being within a few yards of