They were now opposite that part of the shore where it rose a perpendicular wall of rock towering a hundred feet above the sea, and offered no place of refuge. So they hurried on as best they could in the hope of rounding the walls and making land before the inevitable break came. Presently Aluktook shouted,
“Emuk! Emuk!”—the water! the water!
Bob and Netseksoak looked, and a ribbon of black water lay between them and the shore.
They lashed the dogs and shouted at them until they were hoarse, in a vain effort to urge them on. The poor brutes lay to the ice and did their best, but it was quite hopeless. In an incredibly short time the ribbon had widened into a gulf a quarter of a mile wide. Then it grew to a mile, and presently the shore became a thin black line that was soon lost to view entirely. They were adrift on the wide Atlantic!
They stopped the dogs when they realized that further effort was useless and sat down on the komatik in impotent dismay.
The weather had grown intensely cold and the perspiration that the excitement and exertion had brought out upon their faces was freezing. Snow squalls were already beginning and before nightfall a blizzard was raging in all its awful fury and at any moment the ice pack was liable to go to pieces.
THE MAID OF THE NORTH
“The’s no profit in this trade any more,” said Captain Sam Hanks, as he sat down to supper with his mate, Jack Simmons, in the little cabin of his schooner, Maid of the North. “I won’t get a seaman’s wages out o’ th’ cruise, an’ I’m sick o’ workin’ fer nothin’. Now there was a time before th’ free traders done th’ business t’ death that a man could make good money on th’ Labrador, but that time’s past They pays so much fer th’ fur they’s spoiled it fer everybody, an’ I’m goin’ t’ quit.”
“Th’ free traders don’t go north o’ th’ Straits much. Why don’t ye try it there, sir?” suggested the mate.
“Ice. Too much ice. I’ve been thinkin’ it over. Th’ trouble is we couldn’t get through th’ ice in th’ spring until after th’ Hudson’s Bay people had gobbled up everything. Th’ natives down that coast is poor as Job’s turkey, an’ they has t’ sell their fur soon’s th’ furrin’ season’s over. I hears th’ company gets th’ fur from ’em fer a song. Them natives’ll give ye a silver fox fer a jackknife an’ a barrel o’ flour, an’ a marten fer a gallon o’ molasses. But the’s money in it if a feller could get there in time,” he added thoughtfully.
“What’s th’ matter with goin’ down in th’ fall before th’ ice blocks th’ coast? Th’ Maid o’ th’ North is sheathed fer ice, an’ we could freeze her in, some place down th’ coast, an’ be on hand t’ sail when th’ ice clears in th’ spring, We could let th’ folks know where we were t’ freeze up, an’ we’d pick up a lot o’ fur before th’ ice breaks, an’ th’ natives’d hold th’ rest until we calls comin’ south. The’s a big chanct there,” said the mate, conclusively.