Chapter V. England Visited
THE Hordens left England in 1851; they wished to go home for a few months in 1864. We shall all agree that they had earned a holiday, but it was not any yearning for "rest and change" that caused them to return. Children had been born to them, and three were then at an age at which it was desirable that they should go to English schools. Horden planned, therefore, to leave Moose by the ship of 1864, and to reach England in the October or November of that year.
The coming of the ship with its cargo of food, of clothing, of merchandise, and of news was always eagerly looked for by Europeans and natives alike. It was expected all through August. When the 23rd, and the latest known date for its appearance had gone, despair began to be felt. Something had happened; they would have to get on as best they might for twelve more months. But some hoped.
Yet September passed, and there was no ship. October came, and then on the 7th, in the midst of a fearful storm, they heard, "the report of large guns at sea."
"The ship's come!" was the cry.
The people slept that night in pleasant anticipation of joy on the morrow.
But the morrow brought disappointment. The guns came from a schooner sent from York Factory to break the bad news. The Moose ship had been wrecked within the bay, and little save the letters had been saved.
The ship of 1865 fared better, but she too had been in perils, had been injured by the ice, and had to be patched up at Moose before the return voyage could begin. When fairly afloat it was soon clear to the Hordens that the voyage would be a very different one from their first. His own account of the early dangers is, as usual, vivid:--
"We left Moose with a fair wind, which took us in safety over our long, crooked, and dangerous bar; but we had not proceeded above half a day's sail before a heavy storm came upon us. Dangers were around us, the dread of all coming to Moose Factory, the Gasket Shoal, was ahead; the charts were frequently consulted; the captain was anxious, sleep departed from his eyes. We are at the commencement of the straits; we see land--high, rugged, barren lulls; snow is lying in the valleys, stern winter is already come; it seems a home scarcely fit for the white bear and the walrus. What are these solitary giants, raising their heads so high, and appearing so formidable? They are immense icebergs, which have come from regions still farther north, and are now being carried by the current through Hudson's Straits into the Atlantic Ocean. The glass speaks of coming bad weather, the topsails are reefed, reefs are put to the mainsail; and now it is on us, the wind roars through the rigging, the ship plunges and creaks. Night comes over the scene; there is no cessation of the tempest; it howls and roars--it is a fearful night! One of the boats is nearly swept away, and is saved with difficulty; we have lost some of our rigging; one man is washed overboard, and washed back again. The sea breaks over the vessel, and dashes into the cabin; but One mightier has said, 'Hitherto shalt thou come and no farther.' By the morning, the morning of the Sabbath, the wind had abated."
The voyage which began in this way continued to be one of weariness. But at last they reached home, and were able to spend some months amidst familiar scenes at Exeter. The old objection to missionary work was now no longer felt by Horden's father, and both parents now found themselves fully in sympathy with the son's work in life.
Having placed some of their children at school, and obtained a little of the rest so well earned, Mr. and Mrs. Horden went back to the field in 1867. This time they approached their desolate home from the south, travelling by steamer and rail as far as Montreal, and then covering the last 1200 miles in canoes. For Horden himself this would not have meant much hardship; but Mrs. Horden had her two youngest children with her, and for them the long journey was not without its dangers. The party had, of course, to camp out at night, and occasionally the canoes reached places where all the passengers bad to land whilst "portages" were made. But they reached their destination safely, and were warmly welcomed. They returned in time to be of help to their neighbours in a winter of great scarcity and hardship.
Mr. Horden was at once plunged into his former occupations, and added to them a new one. A harmonium had been provided for the little church at Moose, and he learnt to play it.