You are here

قراءة كتاب Labrador Days Tales of the Sea Toilers

تنويه: تعرض هنا نبذة من اول ١٠ صفحات فقط من الكتاب الالكتروني، لقراءة الكتاب كاملا اضغط على الزر “اشتر الآن"

‏اللغة: English
Labrador Days
Tales of the Sea Toilers

Labrador Days Tales of the Sea Toilers

No votes yet
دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

south the following morning. My own vessel was in the same plight. We had more work outlined that we must do than the already forming ice promised to give us time to accomplish. To send poor Nancy untended to sea in a schooner was simply to sign her death-warrant. Indeed, I had small hope for her life anyhow.

Our hospital was on the coast of Labrador, and the remorseless Straits of Belle Isle yawned forty miles wide between it and the nearest point of the island home of most of our friends. One belated vessel, still waiting to finish loading, lay in the harbour. She expected to be a week yet, and possibly ten days if the weather held bad. An interview with the skipper resulted in a promise to carry the sick woman to her harbour if she were still alive on the day of sailing, or news of her death if she passed away.

Joe had no alternative. He certainly must go on, for he had nothing for the winter with him, no gear, and no way of procuring any. So it was agreed that Nancy should be left in our care, and, if alive, should follow by the schooner. Only poor Nancy was undisturbed next morning by the creaking of the mast hoops and the squealing of the blocks—the familiar warning to our ears that a vessel is leaving for sea. For she lay utterly unconscious of the happenings of the outside world, hovering between life and death in the ward upstairs.

To whatever cause we ought to ascribe it does not much matter. But for the time, anyhow, our arrangements "panned out right." The weather delayed the fish vessel till our patient was well enough to be moved. Ten days later, sewed up in a blanket sleeping-bag, Nancy was painfully carried aboard and deposited in a captain's berth—again most generously put at her disposal.

And so once more she put out to sea.

It was not until the next spring that I heard the final outcome of all the troubles. Nancy had arrived home in safety, with only one hitch—her kit-bag and clothing had been forgotten in sailing, and when at length she reached her harbour, she had had to be carried up to her home swathed only in a bag of blankets.

Such are but incidents like head winds in the lives of the Labrador fisher-folk; but those who, like our people, are taught to meet troubles halfway look at the silver lining instead of the dark cloud. As for Joe himself, he is still unable to get into his head why these events should be of even passing interest to any one else.


"Spin me a yarn, Uncle Eph. I'm fairly played out. We've been on the go from daylight and I'm too tired to write up the day's work."

"A yarn, Doctor. I'm no hand at yarns," said the master of the spick-and-span little cottage at which I and my dogs had brought up for the night. But the generously served supper, with the tin of milk and the pot of berry jam, kept in case some one might come along, and the genial features of my hospitable host, slowly puffing at his pipe on the other side of the fireplace, made me boldly insistent.

"Oh, not anything special, Uncle Eph, just some yarn of an adventure with your dogs in the old days."

Uncle Eph ruminated for quite a while, but I saw by the solid puffs he was taking at his pipe that his mind was working. Then a big smile, broader than ever, lit up his face, and he said slowly:

"Well, if you're so minded, I'll tell you a yarn about a fellow called 'Sally' who lived down our way in my early days."

At this I just settled down comfortably to listen.

Of course Sally was only a nickname, but on our coast nicknames last a man all his life. Thus my last patient, a woman of forty-odd years, trying to-day to identify herself, explained, "Why, you must know my father, Doctor. He be called 'Powder'—'Mr. Powder,' because of his red hair and whiskers."

Sally's proper nickname was apparently "Chief," which the boys had given him because he had been a regular "Huck Finn" among the others. But in young manhood—some said it was because "Marjorie Sweetapple went and took Johnnie Barton instead o' he"—somehow or other "Chief" took a sudden "turn." This expression on our coast usually means a religious "turn," or a turn such as people take when "they sees something and be going to die"; it may be a ghost or sign. But this turn was neither. It was just a plain common "turn."

It had manifested itself in "Chief" by his no longer going about with the other boys, by his habits becoming solitary, and by his neglecting his personal appearance, especially in letting his very abundant hair grow longer than fashion dictates for the young manhood of the coast. That was the reason some wag one day dubbed him "Absalom," which the rest caught up and soon shortened to "Sally." In the proper order of things it should have been "Abe." Wasn't Absalom Sims always called "Abe"? There was obviously an intentional tinge of satire in this unusual abbreviation.

Whether it was due to the "turn" or not, the fact remained that at the advanced age of four and twenty Sally was still unmarried. He lived and fished and hunted mostly alone. No one, therefore, had much to say of him, good or bad. In its kindly way the coast just left him alone, seeing that was what he wished.

As the years went by it happened that hard tunes with a scarcity of food struck "Frying-Pan Tickle," the hospitable name of the cove where Sally was reared. Fish were scarce, capelin never struck in, fur could not be got. This particular season every kind of fur had been scarce. A forest fire had driven the deer into the country out of reach. The young bachelor seals, called "bedlamers," that precede the breeding herd on their annual southern whelping excursion, and normally afford us a much-needed proteid supply, had evidently skipped their visit to the bay; while continuous onshore winds made it impossible in small boats to intercept the mighty rafts, or flocks, of ducks which pass south every fall. As a rule the ducks "take a spell" feeding off the shoals and islands as they go on their way, but the northeaster had robbed our larders of this other supply of meat, which we are in the habit of freezing up for spring use.

In spite of the ice jam, packed by the unfriendly winds, the men had ventured to set their big seal nets as usual, not expecting the long persistence of "weather" that now seriously endangered their recovery.

The time to move to the winter houses up the bay had already passed, and so the men at last thought best to go on and get them ready and then come out once more to haul and stow the nets and carry the women back with them. The long-delayed break came suddenly at last, with a blue sky and a bright, calm morning, but alas! no wind to move the packed-in slob ice. So there was no help for it but to get away early on shanks' pony, if they decided to go on; and that would mean they would not "reach down" before dark. There were only three of them, but they were all family men: Hezekiah Black, called "Ky"; Joseph Stedman, known as "Patsy," and old Uncle John Sanborne. They got under way bright and early, but the weather clouded up soon after they left, and a puff or two of wind should have warned them all under ordinary circumstances to abandon the attempt, or at least to branch off and take shelter in the "Featherbed Tilt" before trying to cross the White Hills.

As it was, Uncle John decided to adopt that plan, leaving the younger men,