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When young Gregory came on the quarter-deck, no one was there except Jim Croft, a short, thick-set man, with the legs of a dwarf and the shoulders of a giant. He stood at the helm, and although no steering was required, as there was no wind, he kept his hands on the spokes of the wheel, and glanced occasionally at the compass. The first mate, who had the watch on deck, was up at the masthead, observing the state of the ice.
“How glorious!” exclaimed the youth, as he swept his sparkling eye round the horizon. “Ah, Croft! is not this splendid?”
“So it is, sir,” said the seaman, turning the large quid of tobacco that bulged out his left cheek. “It’s very beautiful, no doubt, but it’s comin’ rather thick for my taste.”
“How so?” inquired Gregory. “There seems to me plenty of open water to enable us to steer clear of these masses. Besides, as we have no wind, it matters little, I should think, whether we have room t