Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/115

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VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.

by closing again, they should crush us to pieces. For the first time during this voyage, the Baffin had her progress arrested; not, however, for more than an hour and a half, but our situation, while that period lasted, was extremely critical, and prodigious exertions were used by the crew to free us from our icy prison. About seven o'clock in the evening, on entering a large bay, nearly surrounded by close-packed[1] ice, several whales were seen at different parts, near its verge; this gave to us all a joy, not easily described. Boats were instantly sent to the different stations appointed for them, there to wait for the re-appearance of a whale; one of the boats, and also the gun-boat in which I was, (the harpooner having recovered from his illness) were ordered to as favourable a spot as could be selected, and from which whales has just retired: it was the point of two contiguous small bays, commanding a good view into each of them; here we remained perfectly still, and narrowly watching for the appearance of our destined prey. This was to me a period of anxiety and expectation, that it would be impossible to describe. We had not been here long, when some whales were seen to rise at the opposite side of the bay, and two boats made a start, (that is, they rowed with the greatest rapidity) towards them; harpoons were thrown without success, and whether these

  1. A body of drift-ice of such magnitude, that its extent is not discernible; and the pieces of which, though near each other, do not generally touch.