the evening of July 25, after crossing two more ridges and wide
stretches of intervening forest, we entered a burned region, and at
last from a hill top looked down to the valley of the Susan, the valley
which through ten years had been to me the Valley of the Shadow of
Death. We had come upon the valley nearly twenty miles below
the scene of Hubbard’s last camp, and almost at the point where
Gilbert, Donald Blake, Allen Goudie, and Duncan McLean had discovered
me in the snow in a helpless condition on November 1, 1903.
Gilbert pointed out, from our elevated position, the place where he and
his companions camped on the opposite side of the river, on October 31.
here,” said Gilbert, indicating a widening of the river, “is where we
crossed on the ice after we picked up your tracks in the
snow. When we cuts right down this side thinking we’d head
you off below, but we don’t find your trail, and we swings back in a
circle, and found you right there under that bank, bareheaded, and not
much clothes on you and in your stocking feet. Your skin is
just dried down over your bones, and it seems like there ain’t enough
of you left to keep living. After Donald and Allen went on to
look for Hubbard, and left Duncan and me to take care of you, I thought
you was going to die and I got scared.”
pitched our camp on an eminence overlooking the river, where the voices
of the rapids came up to us, reciting in rhythmic cadence their heroic
epic of the wilderness. I shall never forget the voices of
the Susan River rapids. To me they have a distinctive
intonation. I have heard many rapids speak in my time, but
these I think I should recognize if I were led blind into their
gentle rain was falling and the Judge went early to his blankets; but
Gilbert, silently smoking his pipe, and I, in reverie, sat still by the
campfire while a mist settled into the valley and spread over the
bare-burned, rugged hills, and night stole down upon the wilderness.
am with Hubbard again. I see him, fired by wholesome ambition
for discovery and buoyantly enthusiastic, as he begins his battle with
the wilderness in the valley which now lies before me. I see
him later ragged and half-starved, but with no abatement of enthusiasm
and never shirking duty, pushing on and on over unknown untrod wastes,
taking the brunt of the battle and always in the van.
is evening, and we are resting at our campfire, for the day’s work has
been hard. The fire is a big one, for the nights are frosty
now, and we have settled ourselves comfortably to bask in its
warmth. Hubbard is sitting, his knees drawn up and his hands
clasped around them, gazing silently into the blaze and
dreaming—dreaming of home I know, and presently he will speak his
thoughts, for there is no restraint of confidence between us.
His clothing is torn and tattered. He is bareheaded, and his
long dark hair reaches halfway to his shoulders. He has been
ill, suffering for several days from a weakening ailment, but has
uttered no word of complaint. Indeed I can recall now no
harsh or impatient word that I have ever heard him speak. As
I look at him I marvel at his fortitude, and his never failing
gentleness and patience, in the face of most disheartening obstacles to
overcome, and illness combined with privations to endure. He
has never failed in his manliness, and his courage has been
superb. He has never whined at fate or the ill luck which
beset him. I marvel too at his spirit, and unconquerable
spirit that impels him to constant action and will not admit defeat.
last he turns to me, as I knew he would, and says:
a hard fight, b’y, but when we get home we’ll laugh at it
all. I’ve been thinking of home a great deal to-day, and I’m
afraid I’ve been a bit homesick.”
then he talks of the home he is never again to see, of the loved ones
whose voices he is never again to hear, and of plans for the future
which are never to be realized.
time to turn in,” says Gilbert rising and knocking the ashes out of his
am suddenly drawn back to the present. The rapid is still
reciting its epic in rhythmic cadence. The fire has burned
low, and I follow Gilbert into the tent.
The boulder as found.
Fallen tree lies across the bed of boughs upon which Hubbard died.
XXXII: The Mind Works Curiously