“I’ll be rare careful of un, sir.”
“Very well, see that you are. Be ready to start, now, at daylight, Monday.”
“I’ll be ready, sir.”
Bob’s delight was little short of ecstatic as he strode out of the office with his rifle.
The next day (Saturday) “Secretary Bayard,” with voluminous comments and cautions in reference to the undertaking, the Eskimos and things in general, helped him and the two Eskimos that were to accompany him put in readiness his supplies, which consisted of hardtack, jerked venison, fat pork—the only provisions they had which would not freeze—tea, two kettles, sulphur matches, ammunition, and a reindeer skin sleeping bag. The Eskimos possessed sleeping bags of their own. Blubber and white whale meat, frozen very hard, were packed for dog food.
An axe, a small jack plane and two snow knives were the only tools to be carried. This knife had a blade about two feet in length and resembled a small, broad-bladed sword. It was to be used in the construction of snow igloos. The jack plane was needed to keep the komatik runners smooth.
Instead of the runners being shod with whale-bone, as in many places in the North, the Eskimos of Ungava apply a turf—which is stored for the purpose in the short summer season—and mixed with water to the consistency of mud. This is moulded on the runners with the hands in a thick, broad, semicircular shape, and freezes as hard as glass. Then its irregularities are planed smooth, and it slips easily over the snow and ice.
Finally, all the preparations were completed, and Bob looked forward in a high state of excited anticipation to the great journey of new experiences and adventures that lay before him to be crowned by the joy of his home-coming.
But a thousand miles separated Bob from his home and danger and death lurked by the way. Human plans and day-dreams are not considered by the Providence that moulds man’s fortune, and it is a blessed thing that human eyes cannot look into the future.
AT THE MERCY OF THE WIND
In the starlight of Monday morning Akonuk and Matuk harnessed their twelve big dogs. Fierce creatures these animals were, scarcely less wild than the wolves that prowled over the hills behind the Fort, of which they were the counterpart, and more than once the Eskimos had to beat them with the butt end of a whip to stop their fighting and bring them to submission.
The load had already been lashed upon the komatik and the mud on the runners rubbed over with lukewarm water which had frozen into a thin glaze of ice that would slip easily over the snow.
Mr. MacPherson gave Bob the package of letters, with a final injunction not to lose them when at length the dogs were harnessed and all was ready. Good-byes were said and Bob and his two Eskimo companions were off.