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Mina Benson Hubbard

Friday morning was warm and bright. It seemed wonderful to be having so much fine weather in Labrador, and not a fly or mosquito as yet. The one nuisance we had met was mice or lemmings. They had been busy with my hat in the night, and when I came to put it on that morning I found there was a hole eaten in the crown and a meal or two taken out of the brim. There seemed to be thousands of them, and they ran squealing about everywhere, great fat fellows, some of them as big as grey squirrels. The ground was so perforated with their holes that it reminded one of a porous plaster.

LAST DAYS TOGETHER

Friday, October 9th. - We got up good and early. Only tea we had, expecting when we got to our rapid to have something to eat. After going about 2 miles we came to our old camp where we camped on our way up where we had a goose that Mr. Hubbard had killed. I also had killed one. We went ashore to see if we could find some of the old bones. We gathered all we could find and ate them all.

Mr. Hubbard said, "I often have seen dogs eating bones and thought it was pretty hard lines for them, but it must be only fun for them."

Beyond this point our progress was slow and difficult. There were days when we made less than two miles, and these were the discouraging days for me, because there was ever hanging over me the thought of the necessity of reaching Ungava by the last week in August - if I meant to catch the ship there. However, by poling and tracking, by lifting and dragging the canoe through the shallow waters near the shore, or again by carrying the entire outfit over the sand-hills or across boulder-strewn valleys, we won gradually forward.

It was still raining Tuesday morning, and camp was not moved till afternoon, when we crossed the river. Though smooth here, it flowed with fearful rapidity, and in midstream carried the canoe, as if it had been a feather, at locomotive speed. Three-quarters of a mile above where we crossed the course of the river bent away to the east, and we could see the water leaping and tossing in a wild rapid as it came round through the opening in the hills. I had a great wish to see the fifteen miles of it which flows between this point and Seal Lake.

It was well for me that a mind at rest, on at least one very important point, was my portion that night, else the nightlong fight with the mosquitoes had been horrible indeed. They seemed to come out of the ground. When despair of getting any sleep had taken possession of me, I turned with such calmness as I could muster to the task of killing them off. By diligent application I hoped in the end to secure a little respite. To interest myself I began to count my kill; but when it had reached one hundred and fifty, and yet they came, I gave it up.

I awoke on Friday at 2.30 A.M. The morning was clear as diamonds, and from the open front of my tent I could see the eastern sky. It glowed a deep red gold, and I lay watching it. An hour later the sun appeared over the hills touching the peak of my tent with its light, and I got up to look out. The mists had gathered on our little lake, and away in the distance hung white over the river.

Gilbert was busy getting wood and preparing the breakfast. Soon I heard him at the door of the men's tent saying, "All aboard."

"Any mosquitoes this morning, Gilbert?"

The day following no one was astir early. I think no one slept much. I could hear from the other tent the low hum of the men's voices far into the night. Mosquitoes kept me awake. About 2 A.M. I got up, lighted my candle, and killed all I could find, and after that I had a little peace, but did not sleep much. It was then growing light.

It was the sun that did it, or else it was a scheme on the part of George and Job to work in an extra pudding. However that may have been, we found ourselves on Wednesday morning not yet on Lake Michikamau, and we did not reach it until 5.15 P.M. that day.

We had not reached our haven too soon. Almost immediately the wind rose again, and by noon was blowing so strong that we could have done nothing in any part of Lake Michikamau, not to speak of crossing the upper end in a heavy south wind. Around the point I did not find things look as I expected. It was only a very shallow bay, and where we looked for the islands a long, narrow point of land stretched out from the west shore to the northeast.

Tuesday morning, August 8th, dawned clear and calm, and Gilbert came forth to light the fire, singing: "Glory, glory, hallelujah! as we go marching along." Yet before the tents were taken down the wind had sprung up from the southwest, and it was with difficulty that the canoes were launched and loaded.

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