After having suffered the misery and terror of this situation till six o’clock in the morning, they conceived some hope of deliverance by discovering the place of the sun through the clouds, which were become thinner, and began to break away. Their first care was to see whether the poor wretches whom they had been obliged to leave among the bushes were yet alive; three of the company were dispatched for that purpose, and very soon afterwards returned with the melancholy news, that they were dead.
Notwithstanding the flattering appearance of the sky, the snow still continued to fall so thick that they could not venture out on their journey to the ship; but about eight o’clock a small regular breeze sprung up, which, with the prevailing influence of the sun, at length cleared the air; and they soon after, with great joy, saw the snow fall in large flakes from the trees, a certain sign of an approaching thaw: They now examined more critically the state of their invalids; Briscoe was still very ill, but said, that he thought himself able to walk; and Mr Buchan was much better than either he or his friends had any reason to expect. They were now, however, pressed by the calls of hunger, to which, after long fasting, every consideration of future good or evil immediately gives way. Before they set forward, therefore, it was unanimously agreed that they should eat their vulture; the bird was accordingly skinned, and, it being thought best to divide it before it was fit to be eaten, it was cut into ten portions, and every man cooked his own as he thought fit. After this repast, which furnished each of them with about three mouthfuls, they prepared to set out; but it was ten o’clock before the snow was sufficiently gone off, to render a march practicable. After a walk of about three hours, they were very agreeably surprised to find themselves upon the beach, and much nearer to the ship than they had any reason to expect. Upon reviewing their track from the vessel, they perceived, that, instead of ascending the hill in a line, so as to penetrate into the country, they had made almost a circle round it. When they came on board, they congratulated each other upon their safety, with a joy that no man can feel who has not been exposed to equal danger; and as I had suffered great anxiety at their not returning in the evening of the day on which they set out, I was not wholly without my share.
The Passage through the Streight of Le Maire, and a further Description of the Inhabitants of Terra del Fuego and its Productions.