The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 117

above the other. We stood to the westward until the
fourteenth, in the hope of finding an entrance.

January 14.--This morning we reached the western extremity of the field
which had impeded us, and, weathering it, came to an open sea, without a
particle of ice. Upon sounding with two hundred fathoms, we here found
a current setting southwardly at the rate of half a mile per hour. The
temperature of the air was forty-seven, that of the water thirty-four. We
now sailed to the southward without meeting any interruption of moment
until the sixteenth, when, at noon, we were in latitude 81 degrees
21’, longitude 42 degrees W. We here again sounded, and found a current
setting still southwardly, and at the rate of three quarters of a mile
per hour. The variation per azimuth had diminished, and the temperature
of the air was mild and pleasant, the thermometer being as high as
fifty-one. At this period not a particle of ice was to be discovered.
All hands on board now felt certain of attaining the pole.

January 17.--This day was full of incident. Innumerable flights of birds
flew over us from the southward, and several were shot from the deck,
one of them, a species of pelican, proved to be excellent eating. About
midday a small floe of ice was seen from the masthead off the larboard
bow, and upon it there appeared to be some large animal. As the weather
was good and nearly calm, Captain Guy ordered out two of the boats to
see what it was. Dirk Peters and myself accompanied the mate in the
larger boat. Upon coming up with the floe, we perceived that it was in
the possession of a gigantic creature of the race of the Arctic bear,
but far exceeding in size the largest of these animals. Being well
armed, we made no scruple of attacking it at once. Several shots were
fired in quick succession, the most of which took effect, apparently,
in the head and body. Nothing discouraged, however, the monster threw
himself from the ice, and swam with open jaws, to the boat in which were
Peters and myself. Owing to the confusion which ensued among us at this
unexpected turn of the adventure, no person was ready immediately with
a second shot, and the bear had actually succeeded in getting half his
vast bulk across our gunwale, and seizing one of the men by the small
of his back, before any efficient means were taken to repel him. In this
extremity nothing but the promptness and agility of Peters saved

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Text Comparison with The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

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