required the best effort of Judge Malone and myself, hauling upon the
line, to propel the canoe. Gilbert, with his pole lashed to
the bow, guided it with infinite care, shouting to us now and again,
“hold!” or “go ahead!” He had just called “go ahead! after a
brief halt to get a better footing on the boulders, and we were pulling
with all our strength when the canoe was suddenly caught by
cross-current, careened, bottom in toward the boulders, the water swept
over it filling it with a rush, the powerful force caught the flat
surface of the bronze tablet from below, and in the twinkling of an eye
the tablet was lifted like a feather and was swept away together with
such of the outfit as was lashed with the same line that held the
tablet. Some of the bags we could see far down on the crest
of the waves. One fifty-pound bag of flour was thus carried
all the way to the quieter waters, above the mouth of the Charles Riley
River—nearly half a mile—before it sank in the eddy.
torrent had forced the canoe hard in against the boulders, with the
bottom against the bank, the top toward the stream. Gilbert
grabbed it and held the bow in, while Malone and I ran to his
assistance. Several articles made fast by lashings that did
not break, were removed, and the canoe lifted up upon the boulders.
was all over in a moment. “Then we stood and looked at each
other in speechless dismay.
tablet is gone!” said the Judge presently.
I said, “it’s gone!”
Hubbard’s pennant and flag are with it!” said I.
had brought that tablet all the way from New York and had cared for it
as tenderly as we could have cared for a child. The object of
our journey was to set in position upon the rock that guarded the
sacred spot where Hubbard died. Now, suddenly, without a
moment’s warning it had been snatched from us by the angry waters!
first it seemed incredible that the tablet and pennant were really
lost, and the discovery stunned us. For years I had dreamed
of the time when I might erect the memorial to my friend, and now when
the dream seemed on the point of realization I was rudely awakened to
the fact that it was not to be an accomplishment after all.
With loving thought and loving hands Hubbard’s admirers had designed
and fashioned the tablet, and had entrusted it to our care with the
confidence that we would place it finally in position. With
tearful parting and a sister’s love the pennant, a precious keepsake
and perhaps the last reminder of his college days, had been given into
our hands with the confidence that we should carry it to the spot where
his life work ended. With affectionate care we guarded and
watched the tablet and pennant through weeks of travel and vicissitude
only to have them snatched from us now, without a moment’s warning, by
the angry waters. There is little wonder that our loss fell
upon us with a disheartening effect—that we felt with its first
realization that we had been robbed of the object of our expedition,
and that the result of all our efforts had been lost with the
we had recovered from the momentary shock of the disaster, Gilbert
started down the riverbank on a run, leaping from boulder to boulder to
boulder, in anxious pursuit of our vanishing outfit, a bag of which
appeared at intervals, a dark smudge upon the foam-crested
waves. The Judge and I turned our attention to the things
that had already been saved. We carried the canoe to a safer
position upon the rocks. Upon examination we found it
uninjured, and this was a source of satisfaction. The
contents of the bags we spread in the sun to dry, and fortunately my
instruments and records were among these. The larger part of
the equipment, together with nearly all our provisions, had been
carried away; but during the afternoon we succeeded in recovering much
of the former, and practically all of the latter, discovering the major
portion of the packages in the slack water and eddies near the mouth of
the Charles Riley River, though one or two of the lighter bags were
found on the rocks nearly two miles below the scene of the
accident. In the course of this work of salvage, Gilbert
ventured too far from shore, in quest of an elusive bag, and was swept
from his feet. With presence of mind he lay limp, without a
struggle, until he found himself in slower water, where he was able to
gain the shore with no other injury than a bruised chest, the result of
coming in too intimate contact with a rock during his unpremeditated
trip through the rapid.
we realized the full extent of our calamity, we were stunned.
It was a heartbreaking occurrence. We did not care so much
for the loss of the outfit; we could improvise, and do without
that. But the precious bronze tablet was gone!
a thorough search of the river had been made for a considerable
distance below the scene of our mishap, and everything that could be
discovered had been rescued, we assembled our goods upon the boulders
near the canoe, and took account of our losses. These we
found not only included the bronze tablet, the flag and the pennant,
but also Gilbert’s rifle, our entire culinary and cooking
equipment—excepting one frying pan and one small tea pail, our best ax,
the pipe belonging to our tent stove, and some minor outfit.
interesting incident occurred in connection with the accident that is
worth mentioning. Judge Malone had placed his fishing rod,
which was assembled, in the stern of the canoe, the butt thrust forward
between bags at the bottom of the canoe, the tip extending back and
well out over the stern. The line was reeled in with the
exception of about two feet, and at the end of this a fly
dangled. At the moment the canoe careened the dangling fly
touched the water, a trout took it forthwith, and when the rod was put
ashore the trout was fast and well hooked.
Next: Chapter XXIV: