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Lure of the Labrador Wild, The

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<SPAN NAME="chap24"></SPAN> <H3 ALIGN="center"> XXIV. HUBBARD'S MESSAGE </H3> <P> Out voyage from Labrador to Newfoundland was uneventful, and on Tuesday morning, May 17th, the Aurora steamed into St. Johns Harbour. I was on the bridge with Captain Kean when we passed through the narrows, eagerly looking to see if the ship was there that was to take us home. To my great satisfaction the Silvia was at her wharf, and George and I lost no time in presenting ourselves to my old friend Captain Farrell, her commander, who was engaged on deck when we arrived. He literally took me to his arms in welcome, and like everyone in St. Johns showed me the greatest consideration and kindness. Bowring & Company, the owners of the Aurora, placed at my disposal their steam launch and such men as I needed, to aid me in the transference of the body from the Aurora to the Silvia, and they would make no charge for either this service or for our passage from Cape Charles to St. Johns. </P> <P> On Friday morning, May 20th, the Silvia sailed from St. John's, and one week later (Friday the 27th), with her flag at half mast, steamed slowly to her dock in Brooklyn. </P> <P> It was a sad home-coming. Scarcely a year before, Hubbard, light-hearted and gay, filled with hope and ambition and manly vigour, had stood by my side on that very deck as together we waved farewell to the friends that were gathered now to welcome George and me back. I thought of how, when we were fighting our way across the desolate wilderness, he had talked of, and planned for, this hour; and thought of his childlike faith that God would take care of us and lead us safely out. And then I asked myself why George and I, whose faith was so much the weaker, had been spared, while Hubbard, who never lost sight of the religion of his youth, was left to die. I felt that I was the least deserving. And I lived. And Hubbard died. Why? I had no answer to the question. That was God's secret. Perhaps Hubbard's work, in the fulness of His plan, had been completed. Perhaps He still had work for me to do. </P> <P> We laid him to rest in a beautiful spot in the little cemetery at Haverstraw, at the very foot of the mountains that he used to roam, and overlooking the grand old Hudson that he loved so well. The mountains will know him no more, and never again will he dip his paddle into the placid waters of the river; but his noble character, his simple faith, a faith that never wavered, but grew the stronger in his hour of trouble, his bravery, his indomitable will&mdash;these shall not be forgotten; they shall remain a living example to all who love bravery and self-sacrifice. </P> <P> The critics have said that Hubbard was foolhardy, and without proper preparation he plunged blindly into an unknown wilderness. I believe the early chapters of this narrative show that these criticisms are unfounded, and that Hubbard took every precaution that could occur to a reasonable mind. Himself a thorough student of wilderness travel, in making his preparations for the journey he sought the advice of men of wider experience as to every little detail and acted upon it. </P> <P> Others tell how fish-nets might have been made from willow bark "after the manner of the Indians," and describe other means of securing food that they claim men familiar with woodcraft would have resorted to. The preceding chapters show how impracticable it would have been for us to have consumed our small stock of provisions while manufacturing a fish-net from bark; and how we did resort to every method at our command of procuring food. Unfortunately we fell upon a year of paucity. The old men of the country bore witness that never before within their memory had there been such a scarcity of game. </P> <P> But by far the most serious criticism of all, to my mind, is that against the object of the expedition. It has been said that, even had Hubbard succeeded in accomplishing everything that he set out to do, the result would have been of little or no value to the world. In answer to this I cannot do better than to quote from the eloquent tribute to Hubbard's expedition made by his old college friend, Mr. James A. LeRoy, in the magazine issued by the Alumni Association of their alma mater. </P> <P> "Editorial wiseacres," says Mr. LeRoy, "may preach that such efforts as Hubbard made are of no great immediate value to the world, even if successful. But the man who is born with the insatiable desire to do something, to see what other men have not seen, to push into the waste places of the world, to make a new discovery, to develop a new theme or enrich an old, to contribute, in other words, to the fund of human knowledge, is always something more than a mere seeker for notoriety; he belongs, however slight may be his actual contribution to knowledge, however great his success or complete his failure, to that minority which has from the first kept the world moving on, while the vast majority have peacefully travelled on with it in its course. The unpoetical critic will not understand him, will find it easy to call him a dreamer; yet it is from dreams like these that have come the world's inspirations and its great achievements." </P> <P> Without any trace of the finicality that so often is pure morbidity, Hubbard was the most conscientious man I ever knew, a man who was continually thinking of others and how he might help them. Doubtless some will see in his brave life's struggle only a determination to win for himself a recognised place as a writer and expert upon out-of-door life; but those who were privileged to enjoy his intimacy know that the deep, underlying purpose of the man was to fit himself to deliver to the world a message that he felt to be profoundly true&mdash;a message that should inspire his fellow-men to encounter the battle of life without flinching, that should make them realise that unceasing endeavour and loyalty to God, their conscience and their brothers are indeed worth while. He died before he reached the goal of his ambition, but I do not believe that his message was undelivered. </P> <P> Only men that have camped together in a lonely, uninhabited country can in any degree comprehend the bond of affection and love that drew Hubbard and me ever closer to each other, as the Labrador Wild lured us on and on into the depths of its desolate waste. "The work must be done," he used to say, "and if one of us falls before it is completed, the other must finish it." His words ring in my ear as a call to duty. I see his dear, brave face before me now. I feel his lips upon my cheek. The smoke of the camp-fire is in my blood. The fragrance of the forest is in my nostrils. Perhaps it is God's will that I finish the work of exploration that Hubbard began. </P> <BR><BR><BR><BR> <pre> End of Project Gutenberg's The Lure of the Labrador Wild, by Dillon Wallace
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