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Winter Fury: The Longest Road Download


On the 23d we went on shore to pay another visit to theEsquimaux, who came down on the ice in great numbers to receiveus, repeatedly stroking down the front of their jackets with thepalm of the hand as they advanced, a custom not before mentioned,as we had some doubt about it at Winter Island, and which theysoon discontinued here. They also frequently called outtima, a word which, according to Hearne, signifies in theEsquimaux language, "What cheer!" and which Captain Franklinheard frequently used on first accosting the natives at the mouthof the Coppermine River. It seems to be among these people asalutation equivalent to that understood by these travellers, orat least some equally civil and friendly one, for nothing couldexceed the attention which they paid us on landing. Someindividual always attached himself to each of us immediately onour leaving the boat, pointing out the best road, and taking usby the hand or arm to help us over the streams of water orfissures in the ice, and attending us wherever we went during ourstay on shore. The day proving extremely fine and pleasant,everything assumed a different appearance from that at our formervisit, and we passed some hours on shore very agreeably. Abouthalf a mile inland of the tents, and situated upon the risingground beyond the swamps and ponds before mentioned, we found theruins of several winter habitations, which, upon land so low asIgloolik, formed very conspicuous objects at the distance ofseveral miles to seaward. These were of the same circular anddome-like form as the snow-huts, but built with much more durablematerials, the lower part or foundation being of stones, and therest of the various bones of the whale and walrus, graduallyinclining inward and meeting at the top. The crevices, as well asthe whole of the outside, were then covered with turf, which,with the additional coating of snow in the winter, serves toexclude the cold air very effectually. The entrance is towardsthe south, and consists of a passage ten feet long, and not morethan two in height and breadth, built of flat slabs of stone,having the same external covering as that of the huts. The bedsare raised by stones two feet from the ground, and occupy aboutone third of the apartment at the inner end; and the windows anda part of the roofs had been taken away for the convenience ofremoving their furniture in the spring. It was a naturalinference, from the nature of these habitations, that thesepeople, or at least a portion of them, were constant residents onthis spot, which, indeed, seemed admirably calculated to affordin luxurious profusion all that constitutes Esquimaux felicity.This, however, did not afterward prove to be absolutely the case;for though Igloolik (as perhaps the name may imply) is certainlyone of their principal and favourite rendezvous, yet wesubsequently found the inland entirely deserted by them at thesame season.


The different character now assumed by the ice, while itcertainly damped our hopes of the passage being cleared thisseason by the gradual effects of dissolution, confirmed, however,in a very satisfactory manner, the belief of our being in a broadchannel communicating with a western sea. As the conclusions weimmediately drew from this circumstance may not be so obvious toothers, I shall here briefly explain that, from the manner inwhich the hummocky floes are formed, it is next to impossiblethat any of these of considerable extent can ever be produced ina mere inlet having a narrow communication with the sea. Thereis, in fact, no ice to which the denomination of "sea-ice" may bemore strictly and exclusively applied than this; and we thereforefelt confident that the immense floes which now opposed ourprogress must have come from the sea on one side or the other;while the current, which we had observed to run in an easterlydirection in the narrows, of this strait, precluded thepossibility of such ice having found its way in from t




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