HOME

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

 XXIV

TAKING STOCK

We were naturally very much depressed by the loss of the tablet.  Gilbert, I think, felt it nearly if not as keenly as the Judge and myself.  He was steersman at the time of the accident, and he was disposed therefore to take upon himself more than his share of responsibility for what had occurred.  It seemed to us for the moment that we had been robbed of the object of our expedition.  For years I had dreamed of the time when I might commemorate Hubbard’s heroism by erecting a suitable and permanent memorial at the place where he died.  Suddenly, on the eve of what I had supposed to be the realization of my dream, I was rudely awakened to find that after all it was only a dream and not a fact, and my own deep disappointment may be imagined.

The Judge, however, with buoyant spirit and resourceful genius, rose quickly above the depressing shock with plans for the recovery of the tablet.  He believed it was not impossible to locate it with grappling; and should this fail, he was confident that a makeshift dam erected a few hundred yards upstream, where the river branched into two channels, would turn enough of the main current into the other and partially dry channel to permit us to find the tablet and recover it.  He was confident that a dam sufficient for our purpose could be built from the exhaustless supply of boulders at hand, and the timber not far away.  Gilbert believed so too.  I was presently won to their more cheerful view of the situation, and we pitched our camp in the edge of the nearby woods with highly stimulated hopes.

We were both physically and mentally wearied by the unusually strenuous efforts of the day, the afternoon was far spent, and it was decided that action upon the Judge’s engineering projects should be postponed until the following morning.  The Judge with his rod set out catch our supper while I built a fire in the woods, near the tent, and proceeded to write up my journal and field book, and Gilbert, wet, tired and bruised, sat down by my side to rest until supper time. Gilbert and I were thus engaged when we heard a slight movement in the bushes not far away and discovered a rabbit hopping out into the open space which surrounded the camp, and coming directly toward us.

“Where’s your shotgun?” Gilbert asked in a whisper.  A good supper was in sight. 

“Down on the rocks with the other things,” I answered, also in a whisper.

As Gilbert, alert with the hunter’s instinct, slipped noiselessly away in quest of the gun, the rabbit, not taking least alarm, hopped past me in the most leisurely manner, and directly behind it came another, and directly behind that one still another.  Evidently a rabbit convention was to be held somewhere in the vicinity.  The first two passed on and into the bush clearing without condescending to bestow so much as a glance upon me, but the third stopped on the opposite side of the fire, and not ten feet from me, sat up on his haunches, and deliberately looked me over, as though saying:

“Hello, stranger, where did you come from?”

He sat there for a full minute when he resumed all fours and in the same leisurely manner in which he had come, hopped away after his companions, and I could almost hear him say:

“Well, good bye.  Sorry to leave you, but I have an appointment in here with my friends.”

They were out of sight when Gilbert returned with the gun, and I was glad.  As acceptable as rabbit supper would have been, I would not have had the heart to have seen the last rabbit killed, for it had been so familiar and so trustful.  These were full-grown, though young, rabbits, which had not learned in their primordial wilderness to fear man.

Presently the Judge returned with a fine string of trout, one of which—and this was the largest caught by the expedition—weighed two and one-quarter pounds.  We had been catching, nearly every day, as many trout as we desired, but they were small. It has been my experience in Labrador that one finds the big ones only near the sources of the rivers, or near the river mouths at tidewater. Near the headwaters of the streams one finds the four and five pounders, and more than once I have landed six-pounders.

Labrador trout have a particularly fine flavor.  They are fat, healthy, hard-fleshed fish, and one may eat them day after day with keen relish, and without tiring of them.  Feed is plentiful, and the icy waters and environment are perfectly adapted to them.  This trout is identical with our eastern brook trout—salvelinus fontinalis.

Mice are the best lure for the big fellows.  I once found seven whole or partially digested mice in a single Labrador trout.  Neither Judge Malone nor myself, however, resorted to lures other than artificial flies in the whole course of our expedition.  We found them ever ready to respond to the fly, and by this more sportsmanlike method had no difficulty in supplying our needs.  It is interesting to mention that while in other years in Labrador I have found the best flies to be the brown hackle, coachman, cow dung, grey palmer, cahill or similar flies, in 1913 they demanded such flies as grizzly king, professor, Montreal or jungle cock.

That night the frying pan served as a common dish from which to eat our trout and sop our pork grease.  Three condensed coffee cans, holding a half-pint each, the rim trimmed smooth, did very well for cups.  Bent birchwood handles later wired on these cans converted them into excellent cups—about as satisfactory and serviceable camp cups, indeed, as I have ever used, for they possessed the advantage of handles that were always cool.

We had in our outfit two tins about nine inches in diameter and three inches deep, fitted with friction tops, which had contained milk powder.  One of these tins readily converted into a mixing pan, the other into a dishpan.

We also had a friction top tin can nine inches in diameter and ten inches deep, which originally had contained desiccated potatoes.  Three or four strands of copper wire twisted together and attached to the tin through holes punched close to the rim, one on each side, served as a bale by which the can might be suspended over the fire.  Thus the desiccated potato can became a serviceable cooking kettle.

The friction tops belonging to the two milk powder tins and the one belonging to the desiccated potato can were good enough plates.  We had carried no forks in our outfit—forks are a conventional luxury anyway, and quite superfluous in the wilderness.  Wooden spoons, whittled from birchwood, answered very well in lieu of metal spoons.  Hunting knives were the only table, cooking or utility knives necessary, and we were each supplied with one, as every man on the trail should be.

Improvising in this manner we found ourselves again in possession of a simple, but quite ample, culinary equipment, and the loss of our old ones caused no real inconvenience.

 

Next: Chapter XXV: Grappling