The Esquimaux drove with all haste towards the shore, as it plainly appeared the ice would break and disperse in the open sea. When the sledges approached the coast, the prospect before them was truly terrific. The ice, having broken loose from the rocks, was forced up and down, grinding and breaking into a thousand pieces against the precipices, with a tremendous noise, which, added to the raging of the wind, and the snow driving about in the air, nearly deprived the travellers of the power of hearing and seeing any thing distinctly.
To make the land at any risk, was now the only hope left, but it was with the utmost difficulty the frighted dogs could be forced forward, the whole body of the ice sinking frequently below the rocks, then rising above them. As the only moment to land was that when the ice gained the level of the shore, the attempt was extremely nice and hazardous. However, by God’s mercy, it succeeded; both sledges gained the shore, and were drawn up the beach, though with much difficulty.
The travellers had hardly time to reflect with gratitude to God for their safety, when that part of the ice from which they had just now made good their landing, burst asunder, and the water forcing itself from below, covered and precipitated it into the sea. In an instant, the whole mass of ice, extending for several miles from the coast, and as far as the eye could reach, burst, and was overwhelmed by the rolling 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 darkness of the night; the roaring of the wind and the sea, and the dashing of the waves and ice against the rocks, filled the travellers with sensations of awe and horror, so as almost to deprive them of the power of utterance. They stood overwhelmed with astonishment at their miraculous escape, and even the heathen Esquimaux expressed gratitude to God for their deliverance.
The Esquimaux now began to build a hut with snow, about thirty paces from the beach, but before they had finished their work, the waves reached the place where the sledges were secured, and they were with difficulty saved from being washed into the sea. About nine o’clock all of them crept into the snow-house, thanking God for this place of refuge; for the wind was piercingly cold, and so violent, that it required great strength to stand against it.
Before they entered this habitation, they could not help once more turning their eyes to the sea, which was now free from ice. They beheld with horror, mingled with gratitude for their safety, the enormous waves driving furiously before the wind and approaching the shore, where with dreadful noise they dashed against the rocks, foaming and filling the air with spray. The whole company now got their supper, and having