Page:Yule Logs.djvu/68

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52
VENTURE OF THE "BERTHA" WHALER

"Perhaps," was the reply. "Would you both like it?"

"Rather! eh, Reggie! Wouldn't it be splendid to land on a real iceberg?"

"There are no sham ones here," said Mr. Cordell. "None 'made in Germany'! We shall find you one, I daresay," he concluded as he walked across to port.

"You shouldn't run risks, gentlemen," remarked Jackson, who was again at the wheel. "If ye get on, ye may never get off!"

The speaker never looked at the lads; he kept his eyes upon the ocean far ahead, and seemed as if he had been talking to himself in a low tone.

"Look," he cried suddenly, "there's a Christmas-box for you! That's a berg! See, yonder, to starboard bow."

"That!" exclaimed Reginald. "Why, it's flat, not pointed, as we have seen in pictures!"

"They is always flat in the Antarctic," replied the sailor. "They are square-looking, not peaky, down here."

By this time the hands had assembled forward to see the first berg of summer in the Antarctic. As the Bertha approached the drifting mass, it seemed to emerge from the light mist as a plateau of ice, at least a mile long and quite two hundred and fifty feet high; its breadth could not be at once estimated, but it seemed square. The summit was white and sparkling with snow, which was reflected sharply by the sunbeams, even painfully. The sides of the berg were caverned like cliffs; blue, and even green in places, against which the waves dashed with great force, leaping high up the ice, half way, at times, to the summit. The sea was roaring in the ice-caves, and presented a most magnificent appearance as it retreated, foaming and angry, only to attack the white walls anew.

It was magnificent! Splendid! Glorious! All the spectators were silent as the Bertha approached the berg.