Page:Audubon and His Journals.djvu/416

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364
AUDUBON

under our rudder. The breeze was favorable, although we were hauled to the wind within a point or so. The helmsman said he saw land from aloft, but the captain pronounced his assertion must be a mistake, by true calculation. We breakfasted on the best of fresh codfish, and I never relished a breakfast more. I looked on our landing on the coast of Labrador as a matter of great importance. My thoughts were filled, not with airy castles, but with expectations of the new knowledge of birds and quadrupeds which I hoped to acquire. The "Ripley" ploughed the deep, and proceeded swiftly on her way; she always sails well, but I thought that now as the land was expected to appear every moment, she fairly skipped over the waters. At five o'clock the cry of land rang in our ears, and my heart bounded with joy; so much for anticipation. We sailed on, and in less than an hour the land was in full sight from the deck. We approached, and saw, as we supposed, many sails, and felt delighted at having hit the point in view so very closely; but, after all, the sails proved to be large snow-banks. We proceeded, however, the wind being so very favorable that we could either luff or bear away. The air was now filled with Velvet Ducks; millions of these birds were flying from the northwest towards the southeast. The Foolish Guillemots and the Alca torda[1] were in immense numbers, flying in long files a few yards above the water, with rather undulating motions, and passing within good gunshot of the vessel, and now and then rounding to us, as if about to alight on the very deck. We now saw a schooner at anchor, and the country looked well at this distance, and as we neared the shore the thermometer, which had been standing at 44°, now rose up to nearly 60°; yet the appearance of the great snow-drifts was forbidding. The shores appeared to be margined with a broad and handsome sand-beach; our imaginations now

  1. Razor-billed Auk.