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Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans by  Edward Eggleston

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A DINNER ON THE ICE

[135] AFTER two winters of cold and darkness, Doctor Kane made up his mind to leave the ship fast in the ice. He wanted to get to a place in Greenland where there were people living. Then he might find some way of getting home again.

The men started out, drawing the boats on sleds. Whenever they came to open water, they put the boats into the water, and took the sleds in the boats. When they came to the ice again, they had to draw out their boats, and carry them on the sleds. At first they could travel only about a mile a day.

It was a hard journey. Some of the men were ill. These had to be drawn on the sleds by the rest. They had not enough food. At one time they rested three days in a kind of cave. Here they found many birds' eggs. These made very good food for them. At another place they staid a week. They staid just to eat the eggs of the wild birds.

After they left this place, they were hungry. The men grew thinner and thinner. It seemed that they must die for want of food. But one day they saw a large seal. He was floating on a piece of ice. The hungry men thought, "What a fine din- [136] ner he would make for us!" If they could get the seal, they would not die of hunger.

Every one of the poor fellows trembled for fear the seal would wake up. A man named Petersen took a gun, and got ready to shoot. The men rowed the boat toward the seal. They rowed slowly and quietly. But the seal waked up. He raised his head. The men thought that he would jump off into the water. Then they might all die for want of food.

Doctor Kane made a motion to Petersen. That was to tell him to shoot quickly. But Petersen did not shoot. He was so much afraid that the seal would get away, that he could not shoot. The seal now raised himself a little more. He was getting ready to jump into the water. Just then Petersen fired. The seal fell dead on the ice.


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A Seal

The men were wild with joy. They rowed the boats with all their might. When they got to the seal, they dragged it farther away from the water. They were so happy, that they danced on the ice. Some of them laughed. Some were so glad, that they cried.


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Shooting the Seal

[137] Then they took their knives and began to cut up the seal. They had no fire on the ice, and they were too hungry to think of lighting one. So they ate the meat of the seal without waiting to cook it.


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