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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

 III

DUTY FIRST

Before leaving New York a magazine had advanced Hubbard funds for financing his expedition, and had arranged for other funds to be advanced to meet personal obligations at home during his absence.  In consideration of this Hubbard had agreed to write for the magazine a serial perspective of the work of his expedition, and turn over to the magazine all photographs and other material collected by him in connection with the expedition.  His sense of honesty and upright dealing, and his conscience, demanded that he fulfill his contract and return value for what he had received.  Under these circumstances he felt obliged to go farther than safety warranted, and much farther than a less conscientious man would have gone.  He literally sacrificed his life to duty.

While the editor of the magazine Hubbard represented would never have countenanced the risks Hubbard took, and I am sure Hubbard realized this, still he felt it his duty to take the risks.  Even when he decided to retreat, I am satisfied it was because he could not reasonably ask Elson and me to continue farther.  He feared the material he had collected was insufficient.  He and I discussed the matter over many a campfire, when I always endeavoured to reassure him on this point.

In the early summer Hubbard had suffered frequently from a weakening illness.  This robbed him of much vitality, and when the days of severe stress came his strength failed him rapidly.  He never once complained.  Ragged, nearly barefooted, weak and starving, he encouraged Elson and me with words of hope and comfort.  While he staggered painfully along the wilderness trail he did his utmost to conceal his suffering that ours might be the less.  In later years, when I have faced discouragements, the remembrance of his sublime courage during the period of awful retreat has given me strength.

Sixteen pounds of pea meal was the only provision we possessed when we began the retreat.  We were driven to the direst straits for food.  When we reached the place where we had killed the caribou during the summer, we gathered the bones to boil for soup, and the other refuse to cook and eat.

When our retreat brought us to the point where we portaged into it on our inland journey Elson and I endeavoured to persuade Hubbard to continue down the river in accordance with the wilderness rules, “Stick to the water as long as it runs your way.”  We were too weak now to carry the canoe across the portage to Goose Creek, and I questioned whether we had sufficient strength to make the journey even to Grand Lake without its assistance.  Hubbard, however, decided to return by the same route that we followed inland, and to take no chances on an unknown river.

So we abandoned our canoe, and with light packs set out for the Susan River without it.  I have believed until last summer that had we continued down the river in our canoe Hubbard’s life would have been spared.  Now I am satisfied that had Hubbard hearkened to Elson and me none of us would have survived.

On October 17 Hubbard collapsed.  He had expended the last remnant of his strength, and could walk no farther.  We were at the head of the Susan River Valley when this calamity occurred, one hundred miles from the post at Northwest River.

On the shores of Grand Lake, a few hundred yards from the mouth of the Susan River, and fifty miles from our camp, there was a trapper’s cabin.  This was untenanted when we entered the country, but natives at the post had informed us that trappers would occupy it during the winter.

In our weakened condition it was impossible for Elson and me to carry Hubbard, and after consultation it was decided that Elson should attempt to reach the cabin, and if he found men there lead them back to the relief of Hubbard and me.

Early in the summer we had abandoned, some twenty miles below our camp, a bag containing a few pounds of wet flour.  I was to accompany Elson as far as this, find the flour if possible, give Elson a portion of it to help him on his journey, and return to Hubbard to await assistance.

We were encamped at this time on the north side of the Susan River, just opposite the point where Goose Creek tumbles into it over a fall.  Our campfire was built against a big rock.  Our tent was pitched directly before it, with the front thrown open to receive the heat which the rock reflected.  I broke boughs for a bed, and that night, while Hubbard and Elson slept, sat watch to keep the fire ablaze, for the weather was raw and Hubbard was now sensitive to the cold.  These details have a particular bearing upon our present story.

             In the morning the rain was falling accompanied by a cold northeast wind.  Elson and I piled wood for Hubbard to use upon the fire during my absence.  Then we filled our large kettle with water and placed it, with our cooking utensils, where he could easily reach it, near the fire.  He had a good supply of tea.  We left with him also our oft-boiled caribou bones and a piece of caribou hide, our only remaining food.

Elson and I were to travel light.  Each of us carried half a blanket, which was to serve as our only protection at night.  The remainder of our outfit consisted of tea and matches, and slung at each of our belts a cup and a ten-inch barrel, single shot, .22-calibre pistol.  Elson also had a small tea pail.

At Hubbard’s request, after our preparations for departure were completed, I sat by his side, as he reclined in the tent, and read aloud the fourteenth chapter of John and the thirteenth of First Corinthians.

As Elson and I entered the forest, a little way below the camp, I turned and looked back.  The tent stood in white silhouette against the dark, dripping fir trees, and the fire blazed against the big rock, but Hubbard, within he tent, could not be seen.  I was not to see the rock again for ten years, and I was never again to see Hubbard alive.

At midday we halted in a driving rain to make tea.  I believed we had no food, but Elson produced a half-pound package of pea meal.  Hubbard, he told me, had reserved it for a vital crisis, and gave it to him that morning while I was absent from the tent.  Where is there another instance of a starving, dying man giving the last morsel of wholesome food he possessed to others?  It was characteristic of Hubbard’ self-sacrificing heroism.

That night the rain turned to snow, but the next morning the weather cleared, and on the second night from camp—October 19—we found the flour.  It had been transformed into a spongy mass of green and black mold.

At dawn, on October 20, Elson and I parted in a driving snowstorm. The weather had grown bitterly cold .  Winter had come.

 

Next: Chapter IV: A Man's Game