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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ILLUSTRATIONS

CHAPTER I:
A JOURNEY OF SENTIMENT


CHAPTER II:
THE FATAL ERROR


CHAPTER III:
DUTY FIRST


CHAPTER IV:
A MAN'S GAME


CHAPTER V:
A PERMANENT MEMORIAL


CHAPTER VI:
WILL THE ICE TURN US BACK?


CHAPTER VII:
STORMY VOYAGE


CHAPTER VIII:
RETURN TO NORTHWEST RIVER


CHAPTER IX:
A CHIEF VOYAGEUR


CHAPTER X:
THE BEAVER IS A BAD RIVER


CHAPTER XI:
SOUNDING THE BIG LAKE


CHAPTER XII:
BREAD WITHOUT BAKING POWDER MAKES ME SICK


CHAPTER XIII:
I NEVER TRAVELS ON SUNDAY


CHAPTER XIV:
VIRGIN AS GOD MADE IT


CHAPTER XV:
FIRST PORTAGE


CHAPTER XVI:
TRAIL COMPANIONS


CHAPTER XVII:
MURDOCK'S RAPID


CHAPTER XVIII:
TRACKING THROUGH BOULDERS


CHAPTER XIX:
MARCH TO YOUR FRONT LIKE A SOLDIER


CHAPTER XX:
IT'S ALWAYS BAD LUCK TO TRAVEL ON SUNDAY


CHAPTER XXI:
WORST COUNTRY FOR GAME I EVER SAW


CHAPTER XXII:
BACK TO GET THE BAKING POWDER


CHAPTER XXIII:
DISASTER IN THE RAPIDS


CHAPTER XXIV:
TAKING STOCK


CHAPTER XXV:
GRAPPLING


CHAPTER XXVI:
INDIANS HAVE PLENTY OF HARD TIMES


CHAPTER XXVII:
THIS RIVER IS LIKE A BAD WOMAN


CHAPTER XXVIII:
NO RELIEF FROM WADING


CHAPTER XXIX:
HELL AND TWENTY


CHAPTER XXX:
BACKPACKING TO THE SUSAN


CHAPTER XXXI:
VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH


CHAPTER XXXII:
THE MIND WORKS CURIOUSLY


CHAPTER XXXIII:
RELIVING THE PARTING


CHAPTER XXXIV:
MARKING HUBBARD'S BOULDER


CHAPTER XXXV:
A NEW DISASTER


CHAPTER XXXVI:
THE HARDEST BIT OF TRAVELING I EVER DONE


CHAPTER XXXVII:
SOMETHING WORTHWHILE UP THERE IN THE HILLS


NOTES

PHOTO GALLERY

COLOUR SLIDE GALLERY

ADDENDUM TO
THIRD EDITION

COMMENTS ON THE
NAMING COMPULSION


BACK TO THE LABRADOR WILDS

 XII

BREAD WITHOUT BAKING POWDER MAKES ME SICK

At supper we ate the last of several loaves of bread, baked for us at the post by Gilbert’s wife, and when the dishes were cleared and the candle lighted, Gilbert prepared to bake a fresh supply.  Joking and laughing with the boys as he worked, he dished out some flour into the mixing pan.  Then he began untying bag after bag of the outfit and examining the contents of each.  He dropped out of the conversation presently and his face assumed a troubled expression.  Then followed a re-examination of all the bags he had just looked through, and he brought in the others from the woodshed for examination

“We forgot the baking powder!” he finally announced in accents that revealed distress.

“Forgot the baking powder?  Are you sure?” I asked.  I had been watching Gilbert, and already suspected this to be the case.

“Yes,” he answered dolefully.

“Are you quite sure?” asked the Judge.  “Have you looked through all the bags?”

“Yes, I’m sure ‘tisn’t here.  I’ve been through all the bags.”

“Then I suppose we’ll have to do without it.  I fancy baking bread without baking powder won’t be so bad, will it?”    It is characteristic of the Judge to accept the inevitable good-naturedly, to make the best of conditions, and to smile at disappointments.

Gilbert said nothing, but looked troubled.

“Something like hardtack,” I volunteered.  “It isn’t bad at all.  I’ve done without baking powder more than once.”

“It gives me heartburn when I eats it that way,” said Gilbert.

“I’ve had it to eat that way sometimes, but it makes me sick,” said Murdock.

“Whenever I eats breat[5] without baking powder,” said Henry sadly, “I feels weak and finds it hard to work.”

“Well, “ I asked, “what are we to do about it?  We can’t go back for it now.  We haven’t any baking powder, and it looks as though we shall have to make the best of the flour without it.  We have plenty of desiccated vegetables.  With them and pork and the fish and game we’ll get we could make out very well even if we had no flour.”

The boys were silent.  Flour, pork and tea are the staples of life with the Labrador trapper.  Flour comes first.  Deny him that in a palatable form, and he feels that half his living is taken from him.  Nothing will answer as a substitute, from his point of view.  He has no vegetables, and being unaccustomed to them it is quite natural that he does not take them into consideration as sustaining food.  With him flour holds the place that we of milder climes give to vegetables.  Bread in truth is the staff of life.

It is not strange then that our young men in reckoning that the supply of food we carried gave no consideration to the vegetables, and looked upon them as a luxury of little food value.  Flour, baked without rising , unless very thoroughly baked in thin wafers, is deemed more or less indigestible.  To be without good bread, was, therefore, from the standpoint of the three young men, to be without sufficient wholesome and sustaining food; and it was not difficult for me to sympathize with their position, though I was confident they would presently discover vegetables to be a very good substitute, when used with the hardtack we could make from the flour.

Stowed away in a little cupboard Gilbert presently discovered a small tin can partly filled in baking soda, and using a bit of this in lieu of baking powder, he proceeded with his baking.  The result was by no means a failure, though naturally the bannocks were very heavy.

The discovery of the soda gave us the means by which sourdough bread might be made, while the soda lasted, and if opportunity offered, we might, of course make salt-raised bread.  But necessity for constant traveling would deny us the time required to regularly make bread by either of these slow processes.

The men, squatting upon the cabin floor, smoked their pipes in silence.  It was evident deeper gloom had settled upon our camp than the gloom cast by the sputtering candle, whose fitful rays dimly lighted the swarthy faces of the young voyageurs, revealing them in serious contemplation.

Finally Judge Malone broke the silence with a laugh.

“Baking powder or no baking powder?  That is the question,” said the judge.  “Cheer up boys.  Is there any way we can get that forgotten baking powder and not lose too much time doing so?”

To the Judge the incident was amusing, if annoying.

“How would this arrangement answer?” I asked.  “William leaves to-morrow morning to return to Northwest River with the boat.  Let him as soon as he reaches the post get the baking powder and return here with it.  You had better get a canoe with which to return, Will, for it will be faster than the boat.  You’ll be light and you should be able to make the round trip in three days.  We’ll go ahead, and in a couple of days Murdock and Henry can cache their load and come back here to meet you.  If you get here first, cache the baking powder in the cabin so they can get it, and go back.  If they get here first, they’ll wait for you. We’ll probably make short days anyhow at first until Judge Malone and I get hardened to the work, and that will give Murdock and Henry a chance to overtake us.  But you fellows will have to keep going early and late to do it.  We will make out very well with the soda in the meantime, I’m sure.” 

“Fine!” exclaimed the judge, “Fine!  Don’t it strike you so boys?”

It did, and in this way the vexing problem was solved, mental gloom was for the time was dissipated, and our camp again assumed its cheerful atmosphere.

During the night the rain ceased.  In the morning the fog had cleared somewhat, but the sky was still heavily overcast.  While Gilbert prepared breakfast of fried rabbit and bacon, William Montague made ready for immediate departure.


Judge Malone (L) and Gilbert Blake in camp on the Beaver


 

[5] Breat" is not a typographical error. Wallace's spelling for bread is the way the Labrador trappers pronounced it. In his youth, Rudy Mauro often heard the pronunciation when trappers purchased their staples at the local Hudson's Bay Company store.

 

Next: Chapter XIII: I Never Travels On Sunday