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watchful with anxious thoughts

Walton is anxious not just because his way is barred but because the icefield, in expanding, could easily crush the hull of his ship. That process, called "nipping," was a major danger to wooden-hulled boats in arctic regions.
From Elisha Kent Kane, The United States Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin (Philadelphia: Childs and Peterson, 1857), facing p. 120.
From Elisha Kent Kane, Arctic Explorations in the Years 1853, '54, '55 (Philadelphia: Childs and Peterson, 1856), facing p. 144.