sight which was presented on our approaching the spot. There were many hundred seals upon one piece of ice, and they literally covered its surface; some lying asleep at their full length, others playfully stretched in an infinite variety of postures: when the boats arrived within one hundred yards of them, the alarm was given, for some of a herd are always on the watch: they instantly reared themselves to give us a look, then hurried to the edge of the ice as fast as their inaptness for travelling would permit, and plunged into the water. The animals presented a whimsical scene of confusion as they tumbled about and overturned each other in the attempt to escape. The men in the boat wished me not to use my gun, stating that they had furnished themselves with clubs, with which they could kill plenty: but the agility of these amphibious animals eluded the activity of their pursuers, and was astonishing, considering the shortness of their legs, and the great exertion by which their movements were effected: only one was procured. On a piece of ice yet further, about twenty more were seen reposing; and, having now full as much faith in my gun as in the activity of the boat's crew, I singled out one of the handsomest, (marked by a bright arrangement of various colours,) that was marching away in double quick time, and lodged a charge of small shots in his black pug nose: thus he was easily secured; the boat's crew also caught one, after it had made great efforts to save its
Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/87
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VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.