by Washington Irving
Hypertext Meanings and Commentaries
from the Encyclopedia of the Self
by Mark Zimmerman




IN THE COURSE of occasional visits to Canada many years since, I
became intimately acquainted with some of the principal partners
of the great Northwest Fur Company, who at that time lived in
genial style at Montreal, and kept almost open house for the
stranger. At their hospitable boards I occasionally met with
partners, and clerks, and hardy fur traders from the interior
posts; men who had passed years remote from civilized society,
among distant and savage tribes, and who had wonders to recount
of their wide and wild peregrinations, their hunting exploits,
and their perilous adventures and hair-breadth escapes among the
Indians. I was at an age when imagination lends its coloring to
everything, and the stories of these Sinbads of the wilderness
made the life of a trapper and fur trader perfect romance to me.
I even meditated at one time a visit to the remote posts of the
company in the boats which annually ascended the lakes and
rivers, being thereto invited by one of the partners; and I have
ever since regretted that I was prevented by circumstances from
carrying my intention into effect. From those early impressions,
the grand enterprise of the great fur companies, and the
hazardous errantry of their associates in the wild parts of our
vast continent, have always been themes of charmed interest to
me; and I have felt anxious to get at the details of their
adventurous expeditions among the savage tribes that peopled the
depths of the wilderness.

About two years ago, not long after my return from a tour upon
the prairies of the far West, I had a conversation with my
friend, Mr. John Jacob Astor, relative to that portion of our
country, and to the adventurous traders to Santa Fe and the
Columbia. This led him to advert to a great enterprise set on
foot and conducted by him, between twenty and thirty years since,
having for its object to carry the fur trade across the Rocky
Mountains, and to sweep the shores of the Pacific.

Finding that I took an interest in the subject, he expressed a
regret that the true nature and extent of his enterprise and its
national character and importance had never been understood, and
a wish that I would undertake to give an account of it. The
suggestion struck upon the chord of early associations already
vibrating in my mind. It occurred to me that a work of this kind
might comprise a variety of those curious details, so interesting
to me, illustrative of the fur trade; of its remote and
adventurous enterprises, and of the various people, and tribes,
and castes, and characters, civilized and savage, affected by its
operations. The journals, and letters, also, of the adventurers
by sea and land employed by Mr. Astor in his comprehensive
project, might throw light upon portions of our country quite out
of the track of ordinary travel, and as yet but little known. I
therefore felt disposed to undertake the task, provided documents
of sufficient extent and minuteness could be furnished to me. All
the papers relative to the enterprise were accordingly submitted
to my inspection. Among them were journals and letters narrating
expeditions by sea, and journeys to and fro across the Rocky
Mountains by routes before untravelled, together with documents
illustrative of savage and colonial life on the borders of the
Pacific. With such material in hand, I undertook the work. The
trouble of rummaging among business papers, and of collecting and
collating facts from amidst tedious and commonplace details, was
spared me by my nephew, Pierre M. Irving, who acted as my
pioneer, and to whom I am greatly indebted for smoothing my path
and lightening my labors.

As the journals, on which I chiefly depended, had been kept by
men of business, intent upon the main object of the enterprise,
and but little versed in science, or curious about matters not
immediately bearing upon their interest, and as they were written
often in moments of fatigue or hurry, amid the inconveniences of
wild encampments, they were often meagre in their details,
furnishing hints to provoke rather than narratives to satisfy
inquiry. I have, therefore, availed myself occasionally of
collateral lights supplied by the published journals of other
travellers who have visited the scenes described: such as Messrs.
Lewis and Clarke, Bradbury, Breckenridge, Long, Franchere, and
Ross Cox, and make a general acknowledgment of aid received from
these quarters.

The work I here present to the public is necessarily of a
rambling and somewhat disjointed nature, comprising various
expeditions and adventures by land and sea. The facts, however,
will prove to be linked and banded together by one grand scheme,
devised and conducted by a master spirit; one set of characters,
also, continues throughout, appearing occasionally, though
sometimes at long intervals, and the whole enterprise winds up by
a regular catastrophe; so that the work, without any labored
attempt at artificial construction, actually possesses much of
that unity so much sought after in works of fiction, and
considered so important to the interest of every history.


                           CHAPTER I.
Objects of American Enterprise. Gold Hunting and Fur Trading.
Their Effect on Colonization. Early French Canadian Settlers.
Ottawa and Huron Hunters. An Indian Trading Camp. Coureurs Des
Bois, or Rangers of the Woods. Their Roaming Life. Their Revels
     and Excesses. Licensed Traders. Missionaries. Trading
Posts. Primitive French Canadian Merchant. His Establishment and
    Dependents. British Canadian Fur Merchant. Origin of the
   Northwest Company. Its Constitution. Its Internal Trade. A
          Candidate for the Company. Privations in the
  Wilderness. Northwest Clerks. Northwest Partners. Northwest
    Nabobs. Feudal Notions in the Forests. The Lords of the
   Lakes. Fort William. Its Parliamentary Hall and Banqueting
              Room. Wassailing in the Wilderness.

TWO leading objects of commercial gain have given birth to wide
and daring enterprise in the early history of the Americas; the
precious metals of the South, and the rich peltries of the North.
While the fiery and magnificent Spaniard, inflamed with the mania
for gold, has extended his discoveries and conquests over those
brilliant countries scorched by the ardent sun of the tropics,
the adroit and buoyant Frenchman, and the cool and calculating
Briton, have pursued the less splendid, but no less lucrative,
traffic in furs amidst the hyperborean regions of the Canadas,
until they have advanced even within the Arctic Circle.

These two pursuits have thus in a manner been the pioneers and
precursors of civilization. Without pausing on the borders, they
have penetrated at once, in defiance of difficulties and dangers,
to the heart of savage countries: laying open the hidden secrets
of the wilderness; leading the way to remote regions of beauty
and fertility that might have remained unexplored for ages, and
beckoning after them the slow and pausing steps of agriculture
and civilization.

It was the fur trade, in fact, which gave early sustenance and
vitality to the great Canadian provinces. Being destitute of the
precious metals, at that time the leading objects of American
enterprise, they were long neglected by the parent country. The
French adventurers, however, who had settled on the banks of the
St. Lawrence, soon found that in the rich peltries of the
interior, they had sources of wealth that might almost rival the
mines of Mexico and Peru. The Indians, as yet unacquainted with
the artificial value given to some descriptions of furs, in
civilized life, brought quantities of the most precious kinds and
bartered them away for European trinkets and cheap commodities.
Immense profits were thus made by the early traders, and the
traffic was pursued with avidity.

As the valuable furs soon became scarce in the neighborhood of
the settlements, the Indians of the vicinity were stimulated to
take a wider range in their hunting expeditions; they were
generally accompanied on these expeditions by some of the traders
or their dependents, who shared in the toils and perils of the
chase, and at the same time made themselves acquainted with the
best hunting and trapping grounds, and with the remote tribes,
whom they encouraged to bring their peltries to the settlements.
In this way the trade augmented, and was drawn from remote
quarters to Montreal. Every now and then a large body of Ottawas,
Hurons, and other tribes who hunted the countries bordering on
the great lakes, would come down in a squadron of light canoes,
laden with beaver skins, and other spoils of their year's
hunting. The canoes would be unladen, taken on shore, and their
contents disposed in order. A camp of birch bark would be pitched
outside of the town, and a kind of primitive fair opened with
that grave ceremonial so dear to the Indians. An audience would
be demanded of the governor-general, who would hold the
conference with becoming state, seated in an elbow-chair, with
the Indians ranged in semicircles before him, seated on the
ground, and silently smoking their pipes. Speeches would be made,
presents exchanged, and the audience would break up in universal
good humor.

Now would ensue a brisk traffic with the merchants, and all
Montreal would be alive with naked Indians running from shop to
shop, bargaining for arms, kettles, knives, axes, blankets,
bright-colored cloths, and other articles of use or fancy; upon
all which, says an old French writer, the merchants were sure to
clear at least two hundred per cent. There was no money used in
this traffic, and, after a time, all payment in spirituous
liquors was prohibited, in consequence of the frantic and
frightful excesses and bloody brawls which they were apt to

Their wants and caprices being supplied, they would take leave of
the governor, strike their tents, launch their canoes, and ply
their way up the Ottawa to the lakes.

A new and anomalous class of men gradually grew out of this
trade. These were called coureurs des bois, rangers of the woods;
originally men who had accompanied the Indians in their hunting
expeditions, and made themselves acquainted with remote tracts
and tribes; and who now became, as it were, peddlers of the
wilderness. These men would set out from Montreal with canoes
well stocked with goods, with arms and ammunition, and would make
their way up the mazy and wandering rivers that interlace the
vast forests of the Canadas, coasting the most remote lakes, and
creating new wants and habitudes among the natives. Sometimes
they sojourned for months among them, assimilating to their
tastes and habits with the happy facility of Frenchmen, adopting
in some degree the Indian dress, and not unfrequently taking to
themselves Indian wives.

Twelve, fifteen, eighteen months would often elapse without any
tidings of them, when they would come sweeping their way down the
Ottawa in full glee, their canoes laden down with packs of beaver
skins. Now came their turn for revelry and extravagance. "You
would be amazed," says an old writer already quoted, "if you saw
how lewd these peddlers are when they return; how they feast and
game, and how prodigal they are, not only in their clothes, but
upon their sweethearts. Such of them as are married have the
wisdom to retire to their own houses; but the bachelors act just
as an East Indiaman and pirates are wont to do; for they lavish,
eat, drink, and play all away as long as the goods hold out; and
when these are gone, they even sell their embroidery, their lace,
and their clothes. This done, they are forced upon a new voyage
for subsistence."

Many of these coureurs des bois became so accustomed to the
Indian mode of living, and the perfect freedom of the wilderness,
that they lost relish for civilization, and identified themselves
with the savages among whom they dwelt, or could only be
distinguished from them by superior licentiousness. Their conduct
and example gradually corrupted the natives, and impeded the
works of the Catholic missionaries, who were at this time
prosecuting their pious labors in the wilds of Canada.

To check these abuses, and to protect the fur trade from various
irregularities practiced by these loose adventurers, an order was
issued by the French government prohibiting all persons, on pain
of death, from trading into the interior of the country without a

These licenses were granted in writing by the governor-general,
and at first were given only to persons of respectability; to
gentlemen of broken fortunes; to old officers of the army who had
families to provide for; or to their widows. Each license
permitted the fitting out of two large canoes with merchandise
for the lakes, and no more than twenty-five licenses were to be
issued in one year. By degrees, however, private licenses were
also granted, and the number rapidly increased. Those who did not
choose to fit out the expeditions themselves, were permitted to
sell them to the merchants; these employed the coureurs des bois,
or rangers of the woods, to undertake the long voyages on shares,
and thus the abuses of the old system were revived and

The pious missionaries employed by the Roman Catholic Church to
convert the Indians, did everything in their power to counteract
the profligacy caused and propagated by these men in the heart of
the wilderness. The Catholic chapel might often be seen planted
beside the trading house, and its spire surmounted by a cross,
towering from the midst of an Indian village, on the banks of a
river or a lake. The missions had often a beneficial effect on
the simple sons of the forest, but had little power over the
renegades from civilization.

At length it was found necessary to establish fortified posts at
the confluence of the rivers and the lakes for the protection of
the trade, and the restraint of these profligates of the
wilderness. The most important of these was at Michilimackinac,
situated at the strait of the same name, which connects Lakes
Huron and Michigan. It became the great interior mart and place
of deposit, and some of the regular merchants who prosecuted the
trade in person, under their licenses, formed establishments
here. This, too, was a rendezvous for the rangers of the woods,
as well those who came up with goods from Montreal as those who
returned with peltries from the interior. Here new expeditions
were fitted out and took their departure for Lake Michigan and
the Mississippi; Lake Superior and the Northwest; and here the
peltries brought in return were embarked for Montreal.

The French merchant at his trading post, in these primitive days
of Canada, was a kind of commercial patriarch. With the lax
habits and easy familiarity of his race, he had a little world of
self-indulgence and misrule around him. He had his clerks, canoe
men, and retainers of all kinds, who lived with him on terms of
perfect sociability, always calling him by his Christian name; he
had his harem of Indian beauties, and his troop of halfbreed
children; nor was there ever wanting a louting train of Indians,
hanging about the establishment, eating and drinking at his
expense in the intervals of their hunting expeditions.

The Canadian traders, for a long time, had troublesome
competitors in the British merchants of New York, who inveigled
the Indian hunters and the coureurs des bois to their posts, and
traded with them on more favorable terms. A still more formidable
opposition was organized in the Hudson's Bay Company, chartered
by Charles II., in 1670, with the exclusive privilege of
establishing trading houses on the shores of that bay and its
tributary rivers; a privilege which they have maintained to the
present day. Between this British company and the French
merchants of Canada, feuds and contests arose about alleged
infringements of territorial limits, and acts of violence and
bloodshed occurred between their agents.

In 1762, the French lost possession of Canada, and the trade fell
principally into the hands of British subjects. For a time,
however, it shrunk within narrow limits. The old coureurs des
bois were broken up and dispersed, or, where they could be met
with, were slow to accustom themselves to the habits and manners
of their British employers. They missed the freedom, indulgence,
and familiarity of the old French trading houses, and did not
relish the sober exactness, reserve, and method of the new-
comers. The British traders, too, were ignorant of the country,
and distrustful of the natives. They had reason to be so. The
treacherous and bloody affairs of Detroit and Michilimackinac
showed them the lurking hostility cherished by the savages, who
had too long been taught by the French to regard them as enemies.

It was not until the year 1766, that the trade regained its old
channels; but it was then pursued with much avidity and emulation
by individual merchants, and soon transcended its former bounds.
Expeditions were fitted out by various persons from Montreal and
Michilimackinac, and rivalships and jealousies of course ensued.
The trade was injured by their artifices to outbid and undermine
each other; the Indians were debauched by the sale of spirituous
liquors, which had been prohibited under the French rule. Scenes
of drunkeness, brutality, and brawl were the consequence, in the
Indian villages and around the trading houses; while bloody feuds
took place between rival trading parties when they happened to
encounter each other in the lawless depths of the wilderness.

To put an end to these sordid and ruinous contentions, several of
the principal merchants of Montreal entered into a partnership in
the winter of 1783, which was augmented by amalgamation with a
rival company in 1787. Thus was created the famous "Northwest
Company," which for a time held a lordly sway over the wintry
lakes and boundless forests of the Canadas, almost equal to that
of the East India Company over the voluptuous climes and
magnificent realms of the Orient.

The company consisted of twenty-three shareholders, or partners,
but held in its employ about two thousand persons as clerks,
guides, interpreters, and "voyageurs," or boatmen. These were
distributed at various trading posts, established far and wide on
the interior lakes and rivers, at immense distances from each
other, and in the heart of trackless countries and savage tribes.

Several of the partners resided in Montreal and Quebec, to manage
the main concerns of the company. These were called agents, and
were personages of great weight and importance; the other
partners took their stations at the interior posts, where they
remained throughout the winter, to superintend the intercourse
with the various tribes of Indians. They were thence called
wintering partners.

The goods destined for this wide and wandering traffic were put
up at the warehouses of the company in Montreal, and conveyed in
batteaux, or boats and canoes, up the river Attawa, or Ottowa,
which falls into the St. Lawrence near Montreal, and by other
rivers and portages, to Lake Nipising, Lake Huron, Lake Superior,
and thence, by several chains of great and small lakes, to Lake
Winnipeg, Lake Athabasca, and the Great Slave Lake. This singular
and beautiful system of internal seas, which renders an immense
region of wilderness so accessible to the frail bark of the
Indian or the trader, was studded by the remote posts of the
company, where they carried on their traffic with the surrounding

The company, as we have shown, was at first a spontaneous
association of merchants; but, after it had been regularly
organized, admission into it became extremely difficult. A
candidate had to enter, as it were, "before the mast," to undergo
a long probation, and to rise slowly by his merits and services.
He began, at an early age, as a clerk, and served an
apprenticeship of seven years, for which he received one hundred
pounds sterling, was maintained at the expense of the company,
and furnished with suitable clothing and equipments. His
probation was generally passed at the interior trading posts;
removed for years from civilized society, leading a life almost
as wild and precarious as the savages around him; exposed to the
severities of a northern winter, often suffering from a scarcity
of food, and sometimes destitute for a long time of both bread
and salt. When his apprenticeship had expired, he received a
salary according to his deserts, varying from eighty to one
hundred and sixty pounds sterling, and was now eligible to the
great object of his ambition, a partnership in the company;
though years might yet elapse before he attained to that enviable

Most of the clerks were young men of good families, from the
Highlands of Scotland, characterized by the perseverance, thrift,
and fidelity of their country, and fitted by their native
hardihood to encounter the rigorous climate of the North, and to
endure the trials and privations of their lot; though it must not
be concealed that the constitutions of many of them became
impaired by the hardships of the wilderness, and their stomachs
injured by occasional famishing, and especially by the want of
bread and salt. Now and then, at an interval of years, they were
permitted to come down on a visit to the establishment at
Montreal, to recruit their health, and to have a taste of
civilized life; and these were brilliant spots in their

As to the principal partners, or agents, who resided in Montreal
and Quebec, they formed a kind of commercial aristocracy, living
in lordly and hospitable style. Their posts, and the pleasures,
dangers, adventures, and mishaps which they had shared together
in their wild wood life, had linked them heartily to each other,
so that they formed a convivial fraternity. Few travellers that
have visited Canada some thirty years since, in the days of the
M'Tavishes, the M'Gillivrays, the M'Kenzies, the Frobishers, and
the other magnates of the Northwest, when the company was in all
its glory, but must remember the round of feasting and revelry
kept up among these hyperborean nabobs.

Sometimes one or two partners, recently from the interior posts,
would make their appearance in New York, in the course of a tour
of pleasure and curiosity. On these occasions there was a degree
of magnificence of the purse about them, and a peculiar
propensity to expenditure at the goldsmith's and jeweler's for
rings, chains, brooches, necklaces, jeweled watches, and other
rich trinkets, partly for their own wear, partly for presents to
their female acquaintances; a gorgeous prodigality, such as was
often to be noticed in former times in Southern planters and West
India creoles, when flush with the profits of their plantations.

To behold the Northwest Company in all its state and grandeur,
however, it was necessary to witness an annual gathering at the
great interior place of conference established at Fort William,
near what is called the Grand Portage, on Lake Superior. Here two
or three of the leading partners from Montreal proceeded once a
year to meet the partners from the various trading posts of the
wilderness, to discuss the affairs of the company during the
preceding year, and to arrange plans for the future.

On these occasions might be seen the change since the
unceremonious times of the old French traders; now the
aristocratic character of the Briton shone forth magnificently,
or rather the feudal spirit of the Highlander. Every partner who
had charge of an interior post, and a score of retainers at his
Command, felt like the chieftain of a Highland clan, and was
almost as important in the eyes of his dependents as of himself.
To him a visit to the grand conference at Fort William was a most
important event, and he repaired there as to a meeting of

The partners from Montreal, however, were the lords of the
ascendant; coming from the midst of luxurious and ostentatious
life, they quite eclipsed their compeers from the woods, whose
forms and faces had been battered and hardened by hard living and
hard service, and whose garments and equipments were all the
worse for wear. Indeed, the partners from below considered the
whole dignity of the company as represented in their persons, and
conducted themselves in suitable style. They ascended the rivers
in great state, like sovereigns making a progress: or rather like
Highland chieftains navigating their subject lakes. They were
wrapped in rich furs, their huge canoes freighted with every
convenience and luxury, and manned by Canadian voyageurs, as
obedient as Highland clansmen. They carried up with them cooks
and bakers, together with delicacies of every kind, and abundance
of choice wines for the banquets which attended this great
convocation. Happy were they, too, if they could meet with some
distinguished stranger; above all, some titled member of the
British nobility, to accompany them on this stately occasion, and
grace their high solemnities.

Fort William, the scene of this important annual meeting, was a
considerable village on the banks of Lake Superior. Here, in an
immense wooden building, was the great council hall, as also the
banqueting chamber, decorated with Indian arms and accoutrements,
and the trophies of the fur trade. The house swarmed at this time
with traders and voyageurs, some from Montreal, bound to the
interior posts; some from the interior posts, bound to Montreal.
The councils were held in great state, for every member felt as
if sitting in parliament, and every retainer and dependent looked
up to the assemblage with awe, as to the House of Lords. There
was a vast deal of solemn deliberation, and hard Scottish
reasoning, with an occasional swell of pompous declamation.

These grave and weighty councils were alternated by huge feasts
and revels, like some of the old feasts described in Highland
castles. The tables in the great banqueting room groaned under
the weight of game of all kinds; of venison from the woods, and
fish from the lakes, with hunters' delicacies, such as buffalos'
tongues, and beavers' tails, and various luxuries from Montreal,
all served up by experienced cooks brought for the purpose. There
was no stint of generous wine, for it was a hard-drinking period,
a time of loyal toasts, and bacchanalian songs, and brimming

While the chiefs thus revelled in hall, and made the rafters
resound with bursts of loyalty and old Scottish songs, chanted in
voices cracked and sharpened by the northern blast, their
merriment was echoed and prolonged by a mongrel legion of
retainers, Canadian voyageurs, half-breeds, Indian hunters, and
vagabond hangers-on who feasted sumptuously without on the crumbs
that fell from their table, and made the welkin ring with old
French ditties, mingled with Indian yelps and yellings.

Such was the Northwest Company in its powerful and prosperous
days, when it held a kind of feudal sway over a vast domain of
lake and forest. We are dwelling too long, perhaps, upon these
individual pictures, endeared to us by the associations of early
life, when, as yet a stripling youth, we have sat at the
hospitable boards of the "mighty Northwesters," the lords of the
ascendant at Montreal, and gazed with wondering and inexperienced
eye at the baronial wassailing, and listened with astonished ear
to their tales of hardship and adventures. It is one object of
our task, however, to present scenes of the rough life of the
wilderness, and we are tempted to fix these few memorials of a
transient state of things fast passing into oblivion; for the
feudal state of Fort William is at an end, its council chamber is
silent and deserted; its banquet hall no longer echoes to the
burst of loyalty, or the "auld world" ditty; the lords of the
lakes and forests have passed away; and the hospitable magnates
of Montreal where are they?

                          CHAPTER II.
Rise of the Mackinaw Company. Attempt of the American Government
to Counteract Foreign Influence Over the Indian Tribes. John
   Jacob Astor. His Birth-Place. His Arrival in the United
States. What First Turned His Attention to the Fur Trade. His
Character, Enterprises, and Success. His Communications With the
   American Government. Origin of the American Fur Company

THE success of the Northwest Company stimulated further
enterprise in this opening and apparently boundless field of
profit. The traffic of that company lay principally in the high
northern latitudes, while there were immense regions to the south
and west, known to abound with valuable peltries; but which, as
yet, had been but little explored by the fur trader. A new
association of British merchants was therefore formed, to
prosecute the trade in this direction. The chief factory was
established at the old emporium of Michilimackinac, from which
place the association took its name, and was commonly called the
Mackinaw Company.

While the Northwesters continued to push their enterprises into
the hyperborean regions from their stronghold at Fort William,
and to hold almost sovereign sway over the tribes of the upper
lakes and rivers, the Mackinaw Company sent forth their light
perogues and barks, by Green Bay, Fox River, and the Wisconsin,
to that areas artery of the West, the Mississippi; and down that
stream to all its tributary rivers. In this way they hoped soon
to monopolize the trade with all the tribes on the southern and
western waters, and of those vast tracts comprised in ancient

The government of the United States began to view with a wary eye
the growing influence thus acquired by combinations of
foreigners, over the aboriginal tribes inhabiting its
territories, and endeavored to counteract it. For this purpose,
as early as 1796, the government sent out agents to establish
rival trading houses on the frontier, so as to supply the wants
of the Indians, to link their interests and feelings with those
of the people of the United States, and to divert this important
branch of trade into national channels.

The expedition, however, was unsuccessful, as most commercial
expedients are prone to be, where the dull patronage of
government is counted upon to outvie the keen activity of private
enterprise. What government failed to effect, however, with all
its patronage and all its agents, was at length brought about by
the enterprise and perseverance of a single merchant, one of its
adopted citizens; and this brings us to speak of the individual
whose enterprise is the especial subject of the following pages;
a man whose name and character are worthy of being enrolled in
the history of commerce, as illustrating its noblest aims and
soundest maxims. A few brief anecdotes of his early life, and of
the circumstances which first determined him to the branch of
commerce of which we are treating, cannot be but interesting.

John Jacob Astor, the individual in question, was born in the
honest little German village of Waldorf, near Heidelberg, on the
banks of the Rhine. He was brought up in the simplicity of rural
life, but, while yet a mere stripling, left his home, and
launched himself amid the busy scenes of London, having had, from
his very boyhood, a singular presentiment that he would
ultimately arrive at great fortune.

At the close of the American Revolution he was still in London,
and scarce on the threshold of active life. An elder brother had
been for some few years resident in the United States, and Mr.
Astor determined to follow him, and to seek his fortunes in the
rising country. Investing a small sum which he had amassed since
leaving his native village, in merchandise suited to the American
market, he embarked, in the month of November, 1783, in a ship
bound to Baltimore, and arrived in Hampton Roads in the month of
January. The winter was extremely severe, and the ship, with many
others, was detained by the ice in and about Chesapeake Bay for
nearly three months.

During this period, the passengers of the various ships used
occasionally to go on shore, and mingle sociably together. In
this way Mr. Astor became acquainted with a countryman of his, a
furrier by trade. Having had a previous impression that this
might be a lucrative trade in the New World, he made many
inquiries of his new acquaintance on the subject, who cheerfully
gave him all the information in his power as to the quality and
value of different furs, and the mode of carrying on the traffic.
He subsequently accompanied him to New York, and, by his advice,
Mr. Astor was induced to invest the proceeds of his merchandise
in furs. With these he sailed from New York to London in 1784,
disposed of them advantageously, made himself further acquainted
with the course of the trade, and returned the same year to New
York, with a view to settle in the United States.

He now devoted himself to the branch of commerce with which he
had thus casually been made acquainted. He began his career, of
course, on the narrowest scale; but he brought to the task a
persevering industry, rigid economy, and strict integrity. To
these were added an aspiring spirit that always looked upwards; a
genius bold, fertile, and expansive; a sagacity quick to grasp
and convert every circumstance to its advantage, and a singular
and never wavering confidence of signal success.

As yet, trade in peltries was not organized in the United States,
and could not be said to form a regular line of business. Furs
and skins were casually collected by the country traders in their
dealings with the Indians or the white hunters, but the main
supply was derived from Canada. As Mr. Astor's means increased,
he made annual visits to Montreal, where he purchased furs from
the houses at that place engaged in the trade. These he shipped
from Canada to London, no direct trade being allowed from that
colony to any but the mother country.

In 1794 or '95, a treaty with Great Britain removed the
restrictions imposed upon the trade with the colonies, and opened
a direct commercial intercourse between Canada and the United
States. Mr. Astor was in London at the time, and immediately made
a contract with the agents of the Northwest Company for furs. He
was now enabled to import them from Montreal into the United
States for the home supply, and to be shipped thence to different
parts of Europe, as well as to China, which has ever been the
best market for the richest and finest kinds of peltry.

The treaty in question provided, likewise, that the military
posts occupied by the British within the territorial limits of
the United States, should be surrendered. Accordingly, Oswego,
Niagara, Detroit, Michilimackinac, and other posts on the
American side of the lakes, were given up. An opening was thus
made for the American merchant to trade on the confines of
Canada, and within the territories of the United States. After an
interval of some years, about 1807, Mr. Astor embarked in this
trade on his own account. His capital and resources had by this
time greatly augmented, and he had risen from small beginnings to
take his place among the first merchants and financiers of the
country. His genius had ever been in advance of his
circumstances, prompting him to new and wide fields of enterprise
beyond the scope of ordinary merchants. With all his enterprise
and resources however, he soon found the power and influence of
the Michilimackinac (or Mackinaw) Company too great for him,
having engrossed most of the trade within the American borders.

A plan had to be devised to enable him to enter into successful
competition. He was aware of the wish of the American government,
already stated, that the fur trade within its boundaries should
be in the hands of American citizens, and of the ineffectual
measures it had taken to accomplish that object. He now offered,
if aided and protected by government, to turn the whole of that
trade into American channels. He was invited to unfold his plans
to government, and they were warmly approved, though the
executive could give no direct aid.

Thus countenanced, however, he obtained, in 1809, a charter from
the legislature of the State of New York, incorporating a company
under the name of "The American Fur Company," with a capital of
one million of dollars, with the privilege of increasing it to
two millions. The capital was furnished by himself   he, in fact,
constituted the company; for, though he had a board of directors,
they were merely nominal; the whole business was conducted on his
plans and with his resources, but he preferred to do so under the
imposing and formidable aspect of a corporation, rather than in
his individual name, and his policy was sagacious and effective.

As the Mackinaw Company still continued its rivalry, and as the
fur trade would not advantageously admit of competition, he made
a new arrangement in 1811, by which, in conjunction with certain
partners of the Northwest Company, and other persons engaged in
the fur trade, he bought out the Mackinaw Company, and merged
that and the American Fur Company into a new association, to be
called the "Southwest Company." This he likewise did with the
privity and approbation of the American government.

By this arrangement Mr. Astor became proprietor of one half of
the Indian establishments and goods which the Mackinaw Company
had within the territory of the Indian country in the United
States, and it was understood that the whole was to be
surrendered into his hands at the expiration of five years, on
condition that the American Company would not trade within the
British dominions.

Unluckily, the war which broke out in 1812 between Great Britain
and the United States suspended the association; and, after the
war, it was entirely dissolved; Congress having passed a law
prohibiting the British fur traders from prosecuting their
enterprises within the territories of the United States.

                          CHAPTER III.
  Fur Trade in the Pacific- American Coasting Voyages- Russian
Enterprises.- Discovery of the Columbia River.- Carver's Project
to Found a Settlement There.-Mackenzie's Expedition.- Lewis and
Clarke's Journey Across the Rocky Mountains- Mr. Astor's Grand
Commercial Scheme.-His Correspondence on the Subject With Mr.
Jefferson.His Negotiations With the Northwest Company.- His Steps
                to Carry His Scheme Into Effect.

WHILE the various companies we have noticed were pushing their
enterprises far and wide in the wilds of Canada, and along the
course of the great western waters, other adventurers, intent on
the same objects, were traversing the watery wastes of the
Pacific and skirting the northwest coast of America. The last
voyage of that renowned but unfortunate discoverer, Captain Cook,
had made known the vast quantities of the sea-otter to be found
along that coast, and the immense prices to be obtained for its
fur in China. It was as if a new gold coast had been discovered.
Individuals from various countries dashed into this lucrative
traffic, so that in the year 1792, there were twenty-one vessels
under different flags, plying along the coast and trading with
the natives. The greater part of them were American, and owned by
Boston merchants. They generally remained on the coast and about
the adjacent seas, for two years, carrying on as wandering and
adventurous a commerce on the water as did the traders and
trappers on land. Their trade extended along the whole coast from
California to the high northern latitudes. They would run in near
shore, anchor, and wait for the natives to come off in their
canoes with peltries. The trade exhausted at one place, they
would up anchor and off to another. In this way they would
consume the summer, and when autumn came on, would run down to
the Sandwich Islands and winter in some friendly and plentiful
harbor. In the following year they would resume their summer
trade, commencing at California and proceeding north: and, having
in the course of the two seasons collected a sufficient cargo of
peltries, would make the best of their way to China. Here they
would sell their furs, take in teas, nankeens, and other
merchandise, and return to Boston, after an absence of two or
three years.

The people, however, who entered most extensively and effectively
in the fur trade of the Pacific, were the Russians. Instead of
making casual voyages, in transient ships, they established
regular trading houses in the high latitudes, along the northwest
coast of America, and upon the chain of the Aleutian Islands
between Kamtschatka and the promontory of Alaska.

To promote and protect these enterprises, a company was
incorporated by the Russian government with exclusive privileges,
and a capital of two hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling;
and the sovereignty of that part of the American continent, along
the coast of which the posts had been established, was claimed by
the Russian crown, on the plea that the land had been discovered
and occupied by its subjects.

As China was the grand mart for the furs collected in these
quarters, the Russians had the advantage over their competitors
in the trade. The latter had to take their peltries to Canton,
which, however, was a mere receiving mart, from whence they had
to be distributed over the interior of the empire and sent to the
northern parts, where there was the chief consumption. The
Russians, on the contrary, carried their furs, by a shorter
voyage, directly to the northern parts of the Chinese empire;
thus being able to afford them in the market without the
additional cost of internal transportation.

We come now to the immediate field of operation of the great
enterprise we have undertaken to illustrate.

Among the American ships which traded along the northwest coast
in 1792, was the Columbia, Captain Gray, of Boston. In the course
of her voyage she discovered the mouth of a large river in lat.
46 19' north. Entering it with some difficulty, on account of
sand-bars and breakers, she came to anchor in a spacious bay. A
boat was well manned, and sent on shore to a village on the
beach, but all the inhabitants fled excepting the aged and
infirm. The kind manner in which these were treated, and the
presents given them, gradually lured back the others, and a
friendly intercourse took place. They had never seen a ship or a
white man. When they had first descried the Columbia, they had
supposed it a floating island; then some monster of the deep; but
when they saw the boat putting for shore with human beings on
board, they considered them cannibals sent by the Great Spirit to
ravage the country and devour the inhabitants. Captain Gray did
not ascend the river farther than the bay in question, which
continues to bear his name. After putting to sea, he fell in with
the celebrated discoverer, Vancouver, and informed him of his
discovery, furnished him with a chart which he had made of the
river. Vancouver visited the river, and his lieutenant,
Broughton, explored it by the aid of Captain Gray's chart;
ascending it upwards of one hundred miles, until within view of a
snowy mountain, to which he gave the name of Mt. Hood, which it
still retains.

The existence of this river, however, was known long before the
visits of Gray and Vancouver, but the information concerning it
was vague and indefinite, being gathered from the reports of
Indians. It was spoken of by travellers as the Oregon, and as the
Great River of the West. A Spanish ship is said to have been
wrecked at the mouth, several of the crew of which lived for some
time among, the natives. The Columbia, however, is believed to be
the first ship that made a regular discovery and anchored within
its waters, and it has since generally borne the name of that
As early as 1763, shortly after the acquisition of the Canadas by
Great Britain, Captain Jonathan Carver, who had been in the
British provincial army, projected a journey across the continent
between the forty-third and forty-sixth degrees of northern
latitude to the shores of -the Pacific Ocean. His objects were to
ascertain the breadth of the continent at its broadest part, and
to determine on some place on the shores of the Pacific, where
government might establish a post to facilitate the discovery of
a northwest passage, or a communication between Hudson's Bay and
the Pacific Ocean. This place he presumed would be somewhere
about the Straits of Annian, at which point he supposed the
Oregon disembogued itself. It was his opinion, also, that a
settlement on this extremity of America would disclose new
sources of trade, promote many useful discoveries, and open a
more direct communication with China and the English settlements
in the East Indies, than that by the Cape of Good Hope or the
Straits of Magellan. * This enterprising and intrepid traveller
was twice baffled in individual efforts to accomplish this great
journey. In 1774, he was joined in the scheme by Richard
Whitworth, a member of Parliament, and a man of wealth. Their
enterprise was projected on a broad and bold plan. They were to
take with them fifty or sixty men, artificers and mariners. With
these they were to make their way up one of the branches of the
Missouri, explore the mountains for the source of the Oregon, or
River of the West, and sail down that river to its supposed exit,
near the Straits of Annian. Here they were to erect a fort, and
build the vessels necessary to carry their discoveries by sea
into effect. Their plan had the sanction of the British
government, and grants and other requisites were nearly
completed, when the breaking out of the American Revolution once
more defeated the undertaking. **

The expedition of Sir Alexander Mackenzie in 1793, across the
continent to the Pacific Ocean, which he reached in lat. 52 20'
48", again suggested the possibility of linking together the
trade of both sides of the continent. In lat. 52 30' he had
descended a river for some distance which flowed towards the
south, and wag called by the natives Tacoutche Tesse, and which
he erroneously supposed to be the Columbia. It was afterwards
ascertained that it emptied itself in lat. 49 degrees, whereas
the mouth of the Columbia is about three degrees further south.

When Mackenzie some years subsequently published an account of
his expeditions, he suggested the policy of opening an
intercourse between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and forming
regular establishments through the interior and at both extremes,
as well as along the coasts and islands. By this means, he
observed, the entire command of the fur trade of North America
might be obtained from lat. 48 north to the pole, excepting that
portion held by the Russians, for as to the American adventurers
who had hitherto enjoyed the traffic along the northwest coast,
they would instantly disappear, he added, before a well regulated

A scheme of this kind, however, was too vast and hazardous for
individual enterprise; it could only be undertaken by a company
under the sanction and protection of a government; and as there
might be a clashing of claims between the Hudson's Bay and
Northwest Company, the one holding by right of charter, the other
by right of possession, he proposed that the two comparties
should coalesce in this great undertaking. The long-cherished
jealousies of these two companies, however, were too deep and
strong to allow them to listen to such counsel.

In the meantime the attention of the American government was
attracted to the subject, and the memorable expedition under
Messrs. Lewis and Clarke fitted out. These gentlemen, in 1804,
accomplished the enterprise which had been projected by Carver
and Whitworth in 1774. They ascended the Missouri, passed through
the stupendous gates of the Rocky Mountains, hitherto unknown to
white men; discovered and explored the upper waters of the
Columbia, and followed that river down to its mouth, where their
countryman, Gray, had anchored about twelve years previously.
Here they passed the winter, and returned across the mountains in
the following spring. The reports published by them of their
expedition demonstrated the practicability of establishing a line
of communication across the continent, from the Atlantic to the
Pacific Ocean.

it was then that the idea presented itself to the mind of Mr.
Astor, of grasping with his individual hand this great
enterprise, which for years had been dubiously yet desirously
contemplated by powerful associations and maternal governments.
For some time he revolved the idea in his mind, gradually
extending and maturing his plans as his means of executing them
augmented. The main feature of his scheme was to establish a line
of trading posts along the Missouri and the Columbia, to the
mouth of the latter, where was to be founded the chief trading
house or mart. Inferior posts would be established in the
interior, and on all the tributary streams of the Columbia, to
trade with the Indians; these posts would draw their supplies
from the main establishment, and bring to it the peltries they
collected. Coasting craft would be built and fitted out, also at
the mouth of the Columbia, to trade, at favorable seasons, all
along the northwest coast, and return, with the proceeds of their
voyages, to this place of deposit. Thus all the Indian trade,
both of the interior and the coast, would converge to this point,
and thence derive its sustenance.

A ship was to be sent annually from New York to this main
establishment with reinforcements and supplies, and with
merchandise suited to the trade. It would take on board the furs
collected during the preceding year, carry them to Canton, invest
the proceeds in the rich merchandise of China, and return thus
freighted to New York.
As, in extending the American trade along the coast to the
northward, it might be brought into the vicinity of the Russian
Fur Company, and produce a hostile rivalry, it was part of the
plan of Mr. Astor to conciliate the good-will of that company by
the most amicable and beneficial arrangements. The Russian
establishment was chiefly dependent for its supplies upon
transient trading vessels from the United States. These vessels,
however, were often of more harm than advantage. Being owned by
private adventurers, or casual voyagers, who cared only for
present profit, and had no interest in the permanent prosperity
of the trade, they were reckless in their dealings with the
natives, and made no scruple of supplying them with fire-arms. In
this way several fierce tribes in the vicinity of the Russian
posts, or within the range of their trading excursions, were
furnished with deadly means of warfare, and rendered troublesome
and dangerous neighbors.

The Russian government had made representations to that of the
United States of these malpractices on the part of its citizens,
and urged to have this traffic in arms prohibited; but, as it did
not infringe any municipal law, our government could not
interfere. Yet, still it regarded, with solicitude, a traffic
which, if persisted in, might give offence to Russia, at that
time almost the only friendly power to us. In this dilemma the
government had applied to Mr. Astor, as one conversant in this
branch of trade, for information that might point out a way to
remedy the evil. This circumstance had suggested to him the idea
of supplying the Russian establishment regularly by means of the
annual ship that should visit the settlement at the mouth of the
Columbia (or Oregon) ; by this means the casual trading vessels
would be excluded from those parts of the coast where their
malpractices were so injurious to the Russians.

Such is a brief outline of the enterprise projected by Mr. Astor,
but which continually expanded in his mind. Indeed it is due to
him to say that he was not actuated by mere motives of individual
profit. He was already wealthy beyond the ordinary desires of
man, but he now aspired to that honorable fame which is awarded
to men of similar scope of mind, who by their great commercial
enterprises have enriched nations, peopled wildernesses, and
extended the bounds of empire. He considered his projected
establishment at the mouth of the Columbia as the emporium to an
immense commerce; as a colony that would form the germ of a wide
civilization; that would, in fact, carry the American population
across the Rocky Mountains and spread it along the shores of the
Pacific, as it already animated the shores of the Atlantic.
As Mr. Astor, by the magnitude of his commercial and financial
relations, and the vigor and scope of his self-taught mind, had
elevated himself into the consideration of government and the
communion and correspondence with leading statesmen, he, at an
early period, communicated his schemes to President Jefferson,
soliciting the countenance of government. How highly they were
esteemed by that eminent man, we may judge by the following
passage, written by him some time afterwards.

"I remember well having invited your proposition on this
subject,*** and encouraged it with the assurance of every
facility and  protection which the government could properly
afford. I considered, as a great public acquisition, the
commencement of a settlement on that point of the western coast
of America, and looked forward with gratification to the time
when its descendants should have spread themselves through the
whole length of that coast, covering it with free and independent
Americans, unconnected with us but by the ties of blood and
interest, and enjoying like us the rights of self-government."

The cabinet joined with Mr. Jefferson in warm approbation of the
plan, and held out assurance of every protection that could,
consistently with general policy, be afforded.
Mr. Astor now prepared to carry his scheme into prompt execution.
He had some competition, however, to apprehend and guard against.
The Northwest Company, acting feebly and partially upon the
suggestions of its former agent, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, had
pushed one or two advanced trading posts across the Rocky
Mountains, into a tract of country visited by that enterprising
traveller, and since named New Caledonia. This tract lay about
two degrees north of the Columbia, and intervened between the
territories of the United States and those of Russia. Its length
was about five hundred and fifty miles, and its breadth, from the
mountains to the Pacific, from three hundred to three hundred and
fifty geographic miles.

Should the Northwest Company persist in extending their trade in
that quarter, their competition might be of serious detriment to
the plans of Mr. Astor. It is true they would contend with him to
a vast disadvantage, from the checks and restrictions to which
they were subjected. They were straitened on one side by the
rivalry of the Hudson's Bay Company; then they had no good post
on the Pacific where they could receive supplies by sea for their
establishments beyond the mountains; nor, if they had one, could
they ship their furs thence to China, that great mart for
peltries; the Chinese trade being comprised in the monopoly of
the East India Company. Their posts beyond the mountains had to
be supplied in yearly expeditions, like caravans, from Montreal,
and the furs conveyed back in the same way, by long, precarious,
and expensive routes, across the continent. Mr. Astor, on the
contrary, would be able to supply his proposed establishment at
the mouth of the Columbia by sea, and to ship the furs collected
there directly to China, so as to undersell the Northwest Company
in the great Chinese market.

Still, the competition of two rival companies west of the Rocky
Mountains could not but prove detrimental to both, and fraught
with those evils, both to the trade and to the Indians, that had
attended similar rivalries in the Canadas. To prevent any contest
of the kind, therefore, he made known his plan to the agents of
the Northwest Company, and proposed to interest them, to the
extent of one third, in the trade thus to be opened. Some
correspondence and negotiation ensued. The company were aware of
the advantages which would be possessed by Mr. Astor should he be
able to carry his scheme into effect; but they anticipated a
monopoly of the trade beyond the mountains by their
establishments in New Caledonia, and were loth to share it with
an individual who had already proved a formidable competitor in
the Atlantic trade. They hoped, too, by a timely move, to secure
the mouth of the Columbia before Mr. Astor would be able to put
his plans into operation; and, that key to the internal trade
once in their possession, the whole country would be at their
command. After some negotiation and delay, therefore, they
declined the proposition that had been made to them, but
subsequently despatched a party for the mouth of the Columbia, to
establish a post there before any expedition sent out by Mr.
Astor might arrive.

In the meantime Mr. Astor, finding his overtures rejected,
proceeded fearlessly to execute his enterprise in face of the
whole power of the Northwest Company. His main establishment once
planted at the mouth of the Columbia, he looked with confidence
to ultimate success. Being able to reinforce and supply it amply
by sea, he would push his interior posts in every direction up
the rivers and along the coast; supplying the natives at a lower
rate, and thus gradually obliging the Northwest Company to give
up the competition, relinquish New Caledonia, and retire to the
other side of the mountains. He would then have possession of the
trade, not merely of the Columbia and its tributaries, but of the
regions farther north, quite to the Russian possessions. Such was
a part of his brilliant and comprehensive plan.

He now proceeded, with all diligence, to procure proper agents
and coadjutors, habituated to the Indian trade and to the life of
the wilderness. Among the clerks of the Northwest Company were
several of great capacity and experience, who had served out
their probationary terms, but who, either through lack of
interest and influence, or a want of vacancies, had not been
promoted. They were consequently much dissatisfied, and ready for
any employment in which their talents and acquirements might be
turned to better account.

Mr. Astor made his overtures to several of these persons, and
three of them entered into his views. One of these, Mr. Alexander
M'Kay, had accompanied Sir Alexander Mackenzie in both of his
expeditions to the northwest coast of America in 1789 and 1793.
The other two were Duncan M'Dougal and Donald M'Kenzie. To these
were subsequently added Mr. Wilson Price Hunt, of New Jersey. As
this gentleman was a native born citizen of the United States, a
person of great probity and worth, he was selected by Mr. Astor
to be his chief agent, and to represent him in the contemplated

On the 23d of June, 1810, articles of agreement were entered into
between Mr. Astor and those four gentlemen, acting for themselves
and for the several persons who had already agreed to become, or
should thereafter become, associated under the firm of "The
Pacific Fur Company."

According to these articles, Mr. Astor was to be at the head of
the company, and to manage its affairs in New York. He was to
furnish vessels, goods, provisions, arms, ammunition, and all
other requisites for the enterprise at first cost and charges,
provided that they did not, at any time, involve an advance of
more than four hundred thousand dollars.

The stock of the company was to be divided into a hundred equal
shares, with the profits accruing thereon. Fifty shares were to
be at the disposition of Mr. Astor, and the other fifty to be
divided among the partners and their associates.

Mr. Astor was to have the privilege of introducing other persons
into the connection as partners, two of whom, at least, should be
conversant with the Indian trade, and none of them entitled to
more than three shares.

A general meeting of the company was to be held annually at
Columbia River, for the investigation and regulation of its
affairs; at which absent members might be represented, and might
vote by proxy under certain specified conditions.

The association, if successful, was to continue for twenty years;
but the parties had full power to abandon and dissolve it within
the first five years, should it be found unprofitable. For this
term Mr. Astor covenanted to bear all the loss that might be
incurred; after which it was to be borne by all the partners, in
proportion to their respective shares.

The parties of the second part were to execute faithfully such
duties as might be assigned to them by a majority of the company
on the northwest coast, and to repair to such place or places as
the majority might direct.

An agent, appointed for the term of five years, was to reside at
the principal establishment on the northwest coast, and Wilson
Price Hunt was the one chosen for the first term. Should the
interests of the concern at any time require his absence, a
person was to be appointed, in general meeting, to take his

Such were the leading conditions of this ascociation; we shall
now proceed to relate the various hardy and eventful expeditions,
by sea and land, to which it gave rise.

* Carver's Travels, Introd. b. iii. Philad. 1796.
** Carver's Travels, p. 360.
*** On this point Mr. Jefferson's memory was in error. The
proposition alluded to was the one, already mentioned, for the
establishment of an American Fur Company in the Atlantic States.
The great enterprise beyond the mountains, that was to sweep the
shores of the Pacific, originated in the mind of Mr. Astor, and
was proposed by him to the government.

                          CHAPTER IV.
Two Expeditions Set on Foot.- The Tonquin and Her Crew.- Captain
   Thorn, His Character.- The Partners and Clerks - Canadian
Voyageurs, Their Habits, Employments, Dress, Character, Songs-
Expedition of a Canadian Boat and Its Crew by Land and Water.-
Arrival at New York.- Preparations for a Sea Voyage.- Northwest
   Braggarts. -Underhand Precautions- Letter of Instructions.

IN prosecuting his great scheme of commerce and colonization, two
expeditions were devised by Mr. Astor, one by sea, the other by
land. The former was to carry out the people, stores, ammunition,
and merchandise, requisite for establishing a fortified trading
post at the mouth of Columbia River. The latter, conducted by Mr.
Hunt, was to proceed up the Missouri, and across the Rocky
Mountains, to the same point; exploring a line of communication
across the continent and noting the places where interior trading
posts might be established. The expedition by sea is the one
which comes first under consideration.

A fine ship was provided called the Tonquin, of two hundred and
ninety tons burden, mounting ten guns, with a crew of twenty men.
She carried an assortment of merchandise for trading with the
natives of the seaboard and of the interior, together with the
frame of a schooner, to be employed in the coasting trade. Seeds
also were provided for the cultivation of the soil, and nothing
was neglected for the necessary supply of the establishment. The
command of the ship was intrusted to Jonathan Thorn, of New York,
a lieutenant in the United States navy, on leave of absence. He
was a man of courage and firmness, who had distinguished himself
in our Tripolitan war, and, from being accustomed to naval
discipline, was considered by Mr. Astor as well fitted to take
charge of an expedition of the kind. Four of the partners were to
embark in the ship, namely, Messrs. M'Kay, M'Dougal, David
Stuart, and his nephew, Robert Stuart. Mr. M'Dougal was empowered
by Mr. Astor to act as his proxy in the absence of Mr. Hunt, to
vote for him and in his name, on any question that might come
before any meeting of the persons interested in the voyage.

Besides the partners, there were twelve clerks to go out in the
ship, several of them natives of Canada, who had some experience
in the Indian trade. They were bound to the service of the
company for five years, at the rate of one hundred dollars a
year, payable at the expiration of the term, and an annual
equipment of clothing to the amount of forty dollars. In case of
ill conduct they were liable to forfeit their wages and be
dismissed; but, should they acquit themselves well, the confident
expectation was held out to them of promotion, and partnership.
Their interests were thus, to some extent, identified with those
of the company.

Several artisans were likewise to sail in the ship, for the
supply of the colony; but the most peculiar and characteristic
part of this motley embarkation consisted of thirteen Canadian
"voyageurs,"who had enlisted for five years. As this class of
functionaries will continually recur in the course of the
following narrations, and as they form one of those distinct and
strongly marked castes or orders of people, springing up in this
vast continent out of geographical circumstances, or the varied
pursuits, habitudes, and origins of its population, we shall
sketch a few of their characteristics for the information of the

The "voyageurs" form a kind of confraternity in the Canadas, like
the arrieros, or carriers of Spain, and, like them, are employed
in long internal expeditions of travel and traffic: with this
difference, that the arrieros travel by land, the voyageurs by
water; the former with mules and horses, the latter with batteaux
and canoes. The voyageurs may be said to have sprung up out of
the fur trade, having originally been employed by the early
French merchants in their trading expeditions through the
labyrinth of rivers and lakes of the boundless interior. They
were coeval with the coureurs des bois, or rangers of the woods,
already noticed, and, like them, in the intervals of their long,
arduous, and laborious expeditions, were prone to pass their time
in idleness and revelry about the trading posts or settlements;
squandering their hard earnings in heedless conviviality, and
rivaling their neighbors, the Indians, in indolent indulgence and
an imprudent disregard of the morrow.

When Canada passed under British domination, and the old French
trading houses were broken up, the voyageurs, like the coureurs
des bois, were for a time disheartened and disconsolate, and with
difficulty could reconcile themselves to the service of the new-
comers, so different in habits, manners, and language from their
former employers. By degrees, however, they became accustomed to
the change, and at length came to consider the British fur
traders, and especially the members of the Northwest Company, as
the legitimate lords of creation.

The dress of these people is generally half civilized, half
savage. They wear a capot or surcoat, made of a blanket, a
striped cotton shirt, cloth trousers, or leathern leggins,
moccasins of deer-skin, and a belt of variegated worsted, from
which are suspended the knife, tobacco-pouch, and other
implements. Their language is of the same piebald character,
being a French patois, embroidered with Indian and English words
and phrases.

The lives of the voyageurs are passed in wild and extensive
rovings, in the service of individuals, but more especially of
the fur traders. They are generally of French descent, and
inherit much of the gayety and lightness of heart of their
ancestors, being full of anecdote and song, and ever ready for
the dance. They inherit, too, a fund of civility and
complaisance; and, instead of that hardness and grossness which
men in laborious life are apt to indulge towards each other, they
are mutually obliging and accommodating; interchanging kind
offices, yielding each other assistance and comfort in every
emergency, and using the familiar appellations of "cousin" and
"brother" when there is in fact no relationship. Their natural
good-will is probably heightened by a community of adventure and
hardship in their precarious and wandering life.

No men are more submissive to their leaders and employers, more
capable of enduring hardship, or more good-humored under
privations. Never are they so happy as when on long and rough
expeditions, toiling up rivers or coasting lakes; encamping at
night on the borders, gossiping round their fires, and
bivouacking in the open air. They are dextrous boatmen, vigorous
and adroit with the oar and paddle, and will row from morning
until night without a murmur. The steersman often sings an old
traditionary French song, with some regular burden in which they
all join, keeping time with their oars; if at any time they flag
in spirits or relax in exertion, it is but necessary to strike up
a song of the kind to put them all in fresh spirits and activity.
The Canadian waters are vocal with these little French chansons,
that have been echoed from mouth to mouth and transmitted from
father to son, from the earliest days of the colony; and it has a
pleasing effect, in a still golden summer evening, to see a
batteau gliding across the bosom of a lake and dipping its oars
to the cadence of these quaint old ditties, or sweeping along in
full chorus on a bright sunny morning, down the transparent
current of one of the Canada rivers.

But we are talking of things that are fast fading away! The march
of mechanical invention is driving everything poetical before it.
The steamboats, which are fast dispelling the wildness and
romance of our lakes and rivers, and aiding to subdue the world
into commonplace, are proving as fatal to the race of the
Canadian voyageurs as they have been to that of the boatmen of
the Mississippi. Their glory is departed. They are no longer the
lords of our internal seas, and the great navigators of the
wilderness. Some of them may still occasionally be seen coasting
the lower lakes with their frail barks, and pitching their camps
and lighting their fires upon the shores; but their range is fast
contracting to those remote waters and shallow and obstructed
rivers unvisited by the steamboat. In the course of years they
will gradually disappear; their songs will die away like the
echoes they once awakened, and the Canadian voyageurs will become
a forgotten race, or remembered, like their associates, the
Indians, among the poetical images of past times, and as themes
for local and romantic associations.

An instance of the buoyant temperament and the professional pride
of these people was furnished in the gay and braggart style in
which they arrived at New York to join the enterprise. They were
determined to regale and astonish the people of the "States" with
the sight of a Canadian boat and a Canadian crew. They
accordingly fitted up a large but light bark canoe, such as is
used in the fur trade; transported it in a wagon from the banks
of the St. Lawrence to the shores of Lake Champlain; traversed
the lake in it, from end to end; hoisted it again in a wagon and
wheeled it off to Lansingburgh, and there launched it upon the
waters of the Hudson. Down this river they plied their course
merrily on a fine summer's day, making its banks resound for the
first time with their old French boat songs; passing by the
villages with whoop and halloo, so as to make the honest Dutch
farmers mistake them for a crew of savages. In this way they
swept, in full song and with regular flourish of the paddle,
round New York, in a still summer evening, to the wonder and
admiration of its inhabitants, who had never before witnessed on
their waters, a nautical apparition of the kind.

Such was the variegated band of adventurers about to embark in
the Tonquin on this ardous and doubtful enterprise. While yet in
port and on dry land, in the bustle of preparation and the
excitement of novelty, all was sunshine and promise. The
Canadians, especially, who, with their constitutional vivacity,
have a considerable dash of the gascon, were buoyant and
boastful, and great brag arts as to the future; while all those
who had been in the service of the Northwest Company, and engaged
in the Indian trade, plumed themselves upon their hardihood and
their capacity to endure privations. If Mr. Astor ventured to
hint at the difficulties they might have to encounter, they
treated them with scorn. They were "northwesters;" men seasoned
to hardships, who cared for neither wind nor weather. They could
live hard, lie hard, sleep hard, eat dogs! - in a word they were
ready to do and suffer anything for the good of the enterprise.
With all this profession of zeal and devotion, Mr. Astor was not
overconfident of the stability and firm faith of these mercurial
beings. He had received information, also, that an armed brig
from Halifax, probably at the instigation of the Northwest
Company, was hovering on the coast, watching for the Tonquin,
with the purpose of impressing the Canadians on board of her, as
British subjects, and thus interrupting the voyage. It was a time
of doubt and anxiety, when the relations between the United
States and Great Britain were daily assuming a more precarious
aspect and verging towards that war which shortly ensued. As a
precautionary measure, therefore, he required that the voyageurs,
as they were about to enter into the service of an American
association, and to reside within the limits of the United
States, should take the oaths of naturalization as American
citizens. To this they readily agreed, and shortly afterward
assured him that they had actually done so. It was not until
after they had sailed that he discovered that they had entirely
deceived him in the matter.

The confidence of Mr. Astor was abused in another quarter. Two of
the partners, both of them Scotchmen, and recently in the service
of the Northwest Company, had misgivings as to an enterprise
which might clash with the interests and establishments protected
by the British flag. They privately waited upon the British
minister, Mr. Jackson, then in New York, laid open to him the
whole scheme of Mr. Astor, though intrusted to them in
confidence, and dependent, in a great measure, upon secrecy at
the outset for its success, and inquired whether they, as British
subjects, could lawfully engage in it. The reply satisfied their
scruples, while the information they imparted excited the
surprise and admiration of Mr. Jackson, that a private individual
should have conceived and set on foot at his own risk and expense
so great an enterprise.

This step on the part of those gentlemen was not known to Mr.
Astor until some time afterwards, or it might have modified the
trust and confidence reposed in them.

To guard against any interruption to the voyage by the armed
brig, said to be off the harbor, Mr. Astor applied to Commodore
Rodgers, at that time commanding at New York, to give the Tonquin
safe convoy off the coast. The commodore having received from a
high official source assurance of the deep interest which the
government took in the enterprise, sent directions to Captain
Hull, at that time cruising off the harbor, in the frigate
Constitution, to afford the Tonquin the required protection when
she should put to sea.

Before the day of embarkation, Mr. Astor addressed a letter of
instruction to the four partners who were to sail in the ship. In
this he enjoined them, in the most earnest manner, to cultivate
harmony and unanimity, and recommended that all differences of
opinions on points connected with the objects and interests of
the voyage should be discussed by the whole, and decided by a
majority of votes. He, moreover, gave them especial caution as to
their conduct on arriving at their destined port; exhorting them
to be careful to make a favorable impression upon the wild people
among whom their lot and the fortunes of the enterprise would be
cast. "If you find them kind," said he, "as I hope you will, be
so to them. If otherwise, act with caution and forebearance, and
convince them that you come as friends."

With the same anxious forethought he wrote a letter of
instructions to Captain Thorn, in which he urged the strictest
attention to the health of himself and his crew, and to the
promotion of good-humor and harmony on board his ship. "To
prevent any misunderstanding," added he, "will require your
particular good management." His letter closed with an injunction
of wariness in his intercourse with the natives, a subject on
which Mr. Astor was justly sensible he could not be too earnest.
"I must recommend you," said he, "to be particularly careful on
the coast, and not to rely too much on the friendly disposition
of the natives. All accidents which have as yet happened there
arose from too much confidence in the Indians."

The reader will bear these instructions in mind, as events will
prove their wisdom and importance, and the disasters which ensued
in consequence of the neglect of them.

                           CHAPTER V.
Sailing of the Tonquin. - A Rigid Commander and a Reckless Crew.
- Landsmen on Shipboard.- Fresh-Water Sailors at Sea.- Lubber
   Nests. - Ship Fare.- A Labrador Veteran- Literary Clerks.-
  Curious Travellers.- Robinson Crusoe's Island.- Quarter-Deck
Quarrels.- Falkland Islands.- A Wild-Goose Chase.- Port Egmont.-
Epitaph Hunting.- Old Mortality- Penguin Shooting.- Sportsmen
Left in the Lurch.-A Hard Pull.- Further Altercations.- Arrival
                           at Owyhee.

ON the eighth of September, 1810, the Tonquin put to sea, where
she was soon joined by the frigate Constitution. The wind was
fresh and fair from the southwest, and the ship was soon out of
sight of land and free from the apprehended danger of
interruption. The frigate, therefore, gave her "God speed," and
left her to her course.

The harmony so earnestly enjoined by Mr. Astor on this
heterogeneous crew, and which had been so confidently promised in
the buoyant moments of preparation, was doomed to meet with a
check at the very outset.

Captain Thorn was an honest, straighforward, but somewhat dry and
dictatorial commander, who, having been nurtured in the system
and discipline of a ship of war, and in a sacred opinion of the
supremacy of the quarter-deck, was disposed to be absolute lord
and master on board of his ship. He appears, moreover, to have
had no great opinion, from the first, of the persons embarked
with him - He had stood by with surly contempt while they vaunted
so bravely to Mr. Astor of all they could do and all they could
undergo; how they could face all weathers, put up with all kinds
of fare, and even eat dogs with a relish, when no better food was
to be had. He had set them down as a set of landlubbers and
braggadocios, and was disposed to treat them accordingly. Mr.
Astor was, in his eyes, his only real employer, being the father
of the enterprise, who furnished all funds and bore all losses.
The others were mere agents and subordinates, who lived at his
expense. He evidently had but a narrow idea of the scope and
nature of the enterprise, limiting his views merely to his part
of it; everything beyond the concerns of his ship was out of his
sphere; and anything that interfered with the routine of his
nautical duties put him in a passion.

The partners, on the other hand, had been brought up in the
service of the Northwest Company, and in a profound idea of the
importance, dignity, and authority of a partner. They already
began to consider themselves on a par with the M'Tavishes, the
M'Gillivrays, the Frobishers, and the other magnates of the
Northwest, whom they had been accustomed to look up to as the
great ones of the earth; and they were a little disposed,
perhaps, to wear their suddenly-acquired honors with some air of
pretension. Mr. Astor, too, had put them on their mettle with
respect to the captain, describing him as a gunpowder fellow who
would command his ship in fine style, and, if there was any
fighting to do, would "blow all out of the water."

Thus prepared to regard each other with no very cordial eye, it
is not to be wondered at that the parties soon came into
collision. On the very first night Captain Thorn began his man-
of-war discipline by ordering the lights in the cabin to be
extinguished at eight o'clock.

The pride of the partners was immediately in arms. This was an
invasion of their rights and dignities not to be borne. They were
on board of their own ship, and entitled to consult their ease
and enjoyment. M'Dougal was the champion of their cause. He was
an active, irritable, fuming, vainglorious little man, and
elevated in his own opinion, by being the proxy of Mr. Astor. A
violent altercation ensued, in the course of which Thorn
threatened to put the partners in irons should they prove
refractory; upon which M'Dougal seized a pistol and swore to be
the death of the captain should he ever offer such an indignity.
It was some time before the irritated parties could be pacified
by the more temperate bystanders.

Such was the captain's outset with the partners. Nor did the
clerks stand much higher in his good graces; indeed, he seems to
have regarded all the landsmen on board his ship as a kind of
Iive lumber, continually in the way. The poor voyageurs, too,
continually irritated his spleen by their "lubberly" and unseemly
habits, so abhorrent to one accustomed to the cleanliness of a
man-of-war. These poor fresh-water sailors, so vainglorious on
shore, and almost amphibious when on lakes and rivers, lost all
heart and stomach the moment they were at sea. For days they
suffered the doleful rigors and retchings of sea-sickness,
lurking below in their berths in squalid state, or emerging now
and then like spectres from the hatchways, in capotes and
blankets, with dirty nightcaps, grizzly beard, lantern visage and
unhappy eye, shivering about the deck, and ever and anon crawling
to the sides of the vessel, and offering up their tributes to the
windward, to infinite annoyance of the captain.

His letters to Mr. Astor, wherein he pours forth the bitterness
of his soul, and his seamanlike impatience of what he considers
the "lubberly" character and conduct of those around him, are
before us, and are amusingly characteristic. The honest captain
is full of vexation on his own account, and solicitude on account
of Mr. Astor, whose property he considers at the mercy of a most
heterogeneous and wasteful crew.

As to the clerks, he pronounced them mere pretenders, not one of
whom had ever been among the Indians, nor farther to the
northwest than Montreal, nor of higher rank than barkeeper of a
tavern or marker of a billiard-table, excepting one, who had been
a school-master, and whom he emphatically sets down for "as
foolish a pedant as ever lived."

Then as to the artisans and laborers who had been brought from
Canada and shipped at such expense, the three most respectable,
according to the captain's account, were culprits, who had fled
from Canada on account of their misdeeds; the rest had figured in
Montreal as draymen, barbers, waiters, and carriole drivers, and
were the most helpless, worthless beings "that ever broke sea-

It may easily be imagined what a series of misunderstandings and
cross-purposes would be likely to take place between such a crew
and such a commander. The captain, in his zeal for the health and
cleanliness of his ship, would make sweeping visitations to the
"lubber nests" of the unlucky "voyageurs" and their companions in
misery, ferret them out of their berths, make them air and wash
themselves and their accoutrements, and oblige them to stir about
briskly and take exercise.

Nor did his disgust and vexation cease when all hands had
recovered from sea-sickness, and become accustomed to the ship,
for now broke out an alarming keenness of appetite that
threatened havoc to the provisions. What especially irritated the
captain was the daintiness of some of his cabin passengers. They
were loud in their complaints of the ship's fare, though their
table was served with fresh pork, hams, tongues, smoked beef, and
puddings. "When thwarted in their cravings for delicacies," Said
he, "they would exclaim it was d-d hard they could not live as
they pleased upon their own property, being on board of their own
ship, freighted with their own merchandise. And these," added he,
"are the fine fellows who made such boast that they could 'eat
dogs.' "

In his indignation at what he termed their effeminacy, he would
swear that he would never take them to sea again "without having
Fly-market on the forecastle, Covent-garden on the poop, and a
cool spring from Canada in the maintop. "

As they proceeded on their voyage and got into the smooth seas
and pleasant weather of the tropics, other annoyances occurred to
vex the spirit of the captain. He had been crossed by the
irritable mood of one of the partners; he was now excessively
annoyed by the good-humor of another. This was the elder Stuart,
who was an easy soul, and of a social disposition. He had seen
life in Canada, and on the coast of Labrador; had been a fur
trader in the former, and a fisherman on the latter; and, in the
course of his experience, had made various expeditions with
voyageurs. He was accustomed, therefore, to the familiarity which
prevails between that class and their superiors, and the
gossipings which take place among them when seated round a fire
at their encampments. Stuart was never so happy as when he could
seat himself on the deck with a number of these men round him, in
camping style, smoke together, passing the pipe from mouth to
mouth, after the manner of the Indians, sing old Canadian boat-
songs, and tell stories about their hardships and adventures, in
the course of which he rivaled Sinbad in his long tales of the
sea, about his fishing exploits on the coast of Labrador.

This gossiping familiarity shocked the captain's notions of rank
and subordination, and nothing was so abhorrent to him as the
community of pipe between master and man, and their mingling in
chorus in the outlandish boat-songs.

Then there was another whimsical source of annoyance to him. Some
of the young clerks, who were making their first voyage, and to
whom everything was new and strange, were, very rationally, in
the habit of taking notes and keeping journals. This was a sore
abomination to the honest captain, who held their literary
pretensions in great contempt. "The collecting of materials for
long histories of their voyages and travels," said he, in his
letter to Mr. Astor, "appears to engross most of their
attention." We can conceive what must have been the crusty
impatience of the worthy navigator, when, on any trifling
occurrence in the course of the voyage, quite commonplace in his
eyes, he saw these young landsmen running to record it in their
journals; and what indignant glances he must have cast to right
and left, as he worried about the deck, giving out his orders for
the management of the ship, surrounded by singing, smoking,
gossiping, scribbling groups, all, as he thought, intent upon the
amusement of the passing hour, instead of the great purposes and
interests of the voyage.

It is possible the captain was in some degree right in his
notions. Though some of the passengers had much to gain by the
voyage, none of them had anything positively to lose. They were
mostly young men, in the heyday of life; and having got into fine
latitudes, upon smooth seas, with a well-stored ship under them,
and a fair wind in the shoulder of the sail, they seemed to have
got into a holiday world, and were disposed to enjoy it. That
craving desire, natural to untravelled men of fresh and lively
minds, to see strange lands, and to visit scenes famous in
history or fable, was expressed by some of the partners and
clerks, with respect to some of the storied coasts and islands
that lay within their route. The captain, however, who regarded
every coast and island with a matter-of-fact eye, and had no more
associations connected with them than those laid down in his sea-
chart, considered all this curiosity as exceedingly idle and
childish. "In the first part of the voyage," says he in his
letter, "they were determined to have it said they had been in
Africa, and therefore insisted on stopping at the Cape de Verdes.
Next they said the ship should stop on the coast of Patagonia,
for they must see the large and uncommon inhabitants of that
place. Then they must go to the island where Robinson Crusoe had
so long lived. And lastly, they were determined to see the
handsome inhabitants of Easter Island."

To all these resolves, the captain opposed his peremptory veto,
as "contrary to instructions." Then would break forth an
unavailing explosion of wrath on the part of certain of the
partners, in the course of which they did not even spare Mr.
Astor for his act of supererogation in furnishing orders for the
control of the ship while they were on board, instead of leaving
them to be the judges where it would be best for her to touch,
and how long to remain. The choleric M'Dougal took the lead in
these railings, being, as has been observed, a little puffed up
with the idea of being Mr. Astor's proxy.

The captain, however, became only so much the more crusty and
dogged in his adherence to his orders, and touchy and harsh in
his dealings with the passengers, and frequent altercations
ensued. He may in some measure have been influenced by his
seamanlike impatience of the interference of landsmen, and his
high notions of naval etiquette and quarter-deck authority; but
he evidently had an honest, trusty concern for the interests of
his employer. He pictured to himself the anxious projector of the
enterprise, who had disbursed so munificently in its outfit,
calculating on the zeal, fidelity, and singleness of purpose of
his associates and agents; while they, on the other hand, having
a good ship at their disposal and a deep pocket at home to bear
them out, seemed ready to loiter on every coast, and amuse
themselves in every port.

On the fourth of December they came in sight of the Falkland
Islands. Having been for some time on an allowance of water, it
was resolved to anchor here and obtain a supply. A boat was sent
into a small bay to take soundings. Mr. M'Dougal and Mr. M'Kay
took this occasion to go on shore, but with a request from the
captain that they would not detain the ship. Once on shore,
however, they were in no haste to obey his orders, but rambled
about in search of curiosities. The anchorage proving unsafe, and
water difficult to be procured, the captain stood out to sea, and
made repeated signals for those on shore to rejoin the ship, but
it was not until nine at night that they came on board.

The wind being adverse, the boat was again sent on shore on the
following morning, and the same gentlemen again landed, but
promised to come off at a moment's warning; they again forgot
their promise in their eager pursuit of wild geese and seawolves.
After a time the wind hauled fair, and signals were made for the
boat. Half an hour elapsed but no boat put off. The captain
reconnoitered the shore with his glass, and, to his infinite
vexation, saw the loiterers in the full enjoyment of their
"wildgoose-chase." Nettled to the quick, he immediately made
sail. When those on shore saw the ship actually under way, they
embarked with all speed, but had a hard pull of eight miles
before they got on board, and then experienced but a grim
reception, notwithstanding that they came well laden with the
spoils of the chase.

Two days afterwards, on the seventh of December, they anchored at
Fort Egmont, in the same island, where they remained four days
taking in water and making repairs. This was a joyous time for
the landsmen. They pitched a tent on shore, had a boat at their
command, and passed their time merrily in rambling about the
island, and coasting along the shores, shooting sealions, seals,
foxes, geese, ducks, and penguins. None were keener in pursuit of
this kind of game than M'Dougal and David Stuart; the latter was
reminded of aquatic sports on the coast of Labrador, and his
hunting exploits in the Northwest.

In the meantime the captain addressed himself steadily to the
business of his ship, scorning the holiday spirit and useless
pursuits of his emancipated messmates, and warning them, from
time to time, not to wander away nor be out of hail. They
promised, as usual, that the ship should never experience a
moment's detention on their account, but, as usual, forgot their

On the morning of the 11th, the repairs being all finished, and
the water casks replenished, the signal was given to embark, and
the ship began to weigh anchor. At this time several of the
passengers were dispersed about the island, amusing themselves in
various ways. Some of the young men had found two inscriptions,
in English, over a place where two unfortunate mariners had been
buried in this desert island. As the inscriptions were worn out
by the time and weather, they were playing the part of "Old
Mortality," and piously renewing them. The signal from the ship
summoned them from their labors; they saw the sails unfurled, and
that she was getting under way. The two sporting partners,
however, Mr. M'Dougal and David Stuart, had strolled away to the
south of the island in pursuit of penguins. It would never do to
put off without them, as there was but one boat to convey the

While this delay took place on shore, the captain was storming on
board. This was the third time his orders had been treated with
contempt, and the ship wantonly detained, and it should be the
last; so he spread all sail and put to sea, swearing he would
leave the laggards to shift for themselves. It was in vain that
those on board made remonstrances and entreaties, and represented
the horrors of abandoning men upon a sterile and uninhabited
island; the sturdy captain was inflexible.

In the meantime the penguin hunters had joined the engravers of
tombstones, but not before the ship was already out at sea. They
all, to the number of eight, threw themselves into their boat,
which was about twenty feet in length, and rowed with might and
main. For three hours and a half did they tug anxiously and
severely at the oar, swashed occasionally by the surging waves of
the open sea, while the ship inexorably kept on her course, and
seemed determined to leave them behind.

On board the ship was the nephew of David Stuart, a young man of
spirit and resolution. Seeing, as he thought, the captain
obstinately bent upon abandoning his uncle and the others, he
seized a pistol, and in a paroxysm of wrath swore he would blow
out the captain's brains, unless he put about or shortened sail.

Fortunately for all parties, the wind just then came ahead, and
the boat was enabled to reach the ship; otherwise, disastrous
circumstances might have ensued. We can hardly believe that the
captain really intended to carry his threat into full effect, and
rather think he meant to let the laggards off for a long pull and
a hearty fright. He declared, however, in his letter to Mr.
Astor, that he was serious in his threats, and there is no
knowing how far such an iron man may push his notions of

"Had the wind," writes he, "(unfortunately) not hauled ahead soon
after leaving the harbor's mouth, I should positively have left
them; and, indeed, I cannot but think it an unfortunate
circumstance for you that it so happened, for the first loss in
this instance would, in my opinion, have proved the best, as they
seem to have no idea of the value of property, nor any apparent
regard for your interest, although interwoven with their own."

This, it must be confessed, was acting with a high hand, and
carrying a regard to the owner's property to a dangerous length.
Various petty feuds occurred also between him and the partners in
respect to the goods on board ship, some articles of which they
wished to distribute for clothing among the men, or for other
purposes which they deemed essential. The captain, however, kept
a mastiff watch upon the cargo, and growled and snapped if they
but offered to touch box or bale. "It was contrary to orders; it
would forfeit his insurance; it was out of all rule." It was in
vain they insisted upon their right to do so, as part owners, and
as acting for the good of the enterprise; the captain only stuck
to his point the more stanchly. They consoled themselves,
therefore, by declaring, that as soon as they made land, they
would assert their rights, and do with ship and cargo as they

Beside these feuds between the captain and the partners, there
were feuds between the partners themselves, occasioned, in some
measure, by jealousy of rank. M'Dougal and M'Kay began to draw
plans for the fort, and other buildings of the intended
establishment. They agreed very well as to the outline and
dimensions, which were on a sufficiently grand scale; but when
they came to arrange the details, fierce disputes arose, and they
would quarrel by the hour about the distribution of the doors and
windows. Many were the hard words and hard names bandied between
them on these occasions, according to the captain's account. Each
accused the other of endeavoring to assume unwarrantable power,
and take the lead; upon which Mr. M'Dougal would vauntingly lay
down Mr. Astor's letter, constituting him his representative and
proxy, a document not to be disputed.

These wordy contests, though violent, were brief; "and within
fifteen minutes," says the captain, "they would be caressing each
other like children."

While all this petty anarchy was agitating the little world
within the Tonquin, the good ship prosperously pursued her
course, doubled Cape Horn on the 25th of December, careered
across the bosom of the Pacific, until, on the 11th of February,
the snowy peaks of Owyhee were seen brightening above the

                          CHAPTER VI.
Owyhee.- Sandwich Islanders- Their Nautical Talents.- Tamaahmaah.
-His Navy.- His Negotiations.- Views of Mr. Astor With Respect to
  the Sandwich Islands- Karakakooa.- Royal Monopoly of Pork.-
Description of the Islanders-Gayeties on Shore.- Chronicler of
the Island. -Place Where Captain Cook was Killed.- John Young, a
Nautical Governor.- His Story.- Waititi - A Royal Residence.- A
Royal Visit - Grand Ceremonials.- Close Dealing- A Royal Pork
         Merchant- Grievances of a Matter-of-Fact Man.

OWYHEE, or Hawaii, as it is written by more exact orthographers,
is the largest of the cluster, ten in number, of the Sandwich
Islands. It is about ninety-seven miles in length, and seventy-
eight in breadth, rising gradually into three pyramidal summits
or cones; the highest, Mouna Roa, being eighteen thousand feet
above the level of the sea, so as to domineer over the whole
archipelago, and to be a landmark over a wide extent of ocean. It
remains a lasting monument of the enterprising and unfortunate
Captain Cook, who was murdered by the natives of this island.

The Sandwich Islanders, when first discovered, evinced a
character superior to most of the savages of the Pacific isles.
They were frank and open in their deportment, friendly and
liberal in their dealings, with an apt ingenuity apparent in all
their rude inventions.

The tragical fate of the discoverer, which, for a time, brought
them under the charge of ferocity, was, in fact, the result of
sudden exasperation, caused by the seizure of their chief.

At the time of the visit of the Tonquin, the islanders had
profited, in many respects, by occasional intercourse with white
men; and had shown a quickness to observe and cultivate those
arts important to their mode of living. Originally they had no
means of navigating the seas by which they were surrounded,
superior to light pirogues, which were little competent to
contend with the storms of the broad ocean. As the islanders are
not in sight of each other, there could, therefore, be but casual
intercourse between them. The traffic with white men had put them
in possession of vessels of superior description; they had made
themselves acquainted with their management, and had even made
rude advances in the art of ship-building.

These improvements had been promoted, in a great measure, by the
energy and sagacity of one man, the famous Tamaahmaah. He had
originally been a petty eri, or chief; but, being of an intrepid
and aspiring nature, he had risen in rank, and, availing himself
of the superior advantages now afforded in navigation, had
brought the whole archipelago in subjection to his arms. At the
time of the arrival of the Tonquin he had about forty schooners,
of from twenty to thirty tons burden, and one old American ship.
With these he held undisputed sway over his insular domains, and
carried on intercourse with the chiefs or governors whom he had
placed in command of the several islands.

The situation of this group of islands, far in the bosom of the
vast Pacific, and their abundant fertility, render them important
stopping-places on the highway to China, or to the northwest
coast of America. Here the vessels engaged in the fur trade
touched to make repairs and procure provisions; and here they
often sheltered themselves during the winters that occurred in
their long coasting expeditions.

The British navigators were, from the first, aware of the value
of these islands to the purposes of commerce; and Tamaahmaah, not
long after he had attained the sovereign sway, was persuaded by
Vancouver, the celebrated discoverer, to acknowledge, on behalf
of himself, and subjects, allegiance to the king of Great
Britain. The reader cannot but call to mind the visit which the
royal family and court of the Sandwich Islands was, in late
years, induced to make to the court of St. James; and the serio-
comic ceremonials and mock parade which attended that singular
travesty of monarchal style.

It was a part of the wide and comprehensive plan of Mr. Astor to
establish a friendly intercourse between these islands and his
intended colony, which might, for a time, have occasion to draw
supplies thence; and he even had a vague idea of, some time or
other, getting possession of one of their islands as a rendezvous
for his ships, and a link in the chain of his commercial

On the evening of the 12th of February, the Tonquin anchored in
the bay of Karakakooa, in the island of Owyhee. The surrounding
shores were wild and broken, with overhanging cliffs and
precipices of black volcanic rock. Beyond these, however, the
country was fertile and well cultivated, with inclosures of yams,
plantains, sweet potatoes, sugar-canes, and other productions of
warm climates and teeming soils; and the numerous habitations of
the natives were pleasantly sheltered beneath clumps of cocoanut
and bread-fruit trees, which afforded both food and shade. This
mingled variety of garden and grove swept gradually up the sides
of the mountains, until succeeded by dense forests, which in turn
gave place to naked and craggy rocks, until the summits rose into
the regions of perpetual snow.

The royal residence of Tamaahmaah was at this time at another
island named Woahoo. The island of Owyhee was under the command
of one of his eris, or chiefs, who resided at the village of
Tocaigh, situated on a different part of the coast from the bay
of Karakakooa.

On the morning after her arrival, the ship was surrounded by
canoes and pirogues, filled with the islanders of both sexes,
bringing off supplies of fruits and vegetables, bananas,
plantains, watermelons, yams, cabbages and taro. The captain was
desirous, however, of purchasing a number of hogs, but there were
none to be had -The trade in pork was a royal monopoly, and no
subject of the great Tamaahmaah dared to meddle with it. Such
provisions as they could furnish, however, were brought by the
natives in abundance, and a lively intercourse was kept up during
the day, in which the women mingled in the kindest manner.

The islanders are a comely race, of a copper complexion. The men
are tall and well made, with forms indicating strength and
activity; the women with regular and occasionally handsome
features, and a lascivious expression, characteristic of their
temperament. Their style of dress was nearly the same as in the
days of Captain Cook. The men wore the maro, a band one foot in
width and several feet in length, swathed round the loins, and
formed of tappa, or cloth of bark; the kihei, or mantle, about
six feet square, tied in a knot over one shoulder, passed under
the opposite arm, so as to leave it bare, and falling in graceful
folds before and behind, to the knee, so as to bear some
resemblance to a Roman toga.

The female dress consisted of the pau, a garment formed of a
piece of tappa, several yards in length and one in width, wrapped
round the waist, and reaching like a petticoat, to the knees.
Over this kihei, or mantle, larger than that of the men,
sometimes worn over both shoulders, like a shawl, sometimes over
one only. These mantles were seldom worn by either sex during the
heat of the day, when the exposure of their persons was at first
very revolting to a civilized eye.

Towards evening several of the partners and clerks went on shore,
where they were well received and hospitably entertained. A dance
was performed for their amusement, in which nineteen young women
and one man figured very gracefully, singing in concert, and
moving to the cadence of their song.

All this, however, was nothing to the purpose in the eyes of
Captain Thorn, who, being disappointed in his hope of obtaining a
supply of pork, or finding good water, was anxious to be off.
This it was not so easy to effect. The passengers, once on shore,
were disposed, as usual, to profit by the occasion. The partners
had many inquiries to make relative to the island, with a view to
business; while the young clerks were delighted with the charms
and graces of the dancing damsels.

To add to their gratifications, an old man offered to conduct
them to the spot where Captain Cook was massacred. The
proposition was eagerly accepted, and all hands set out on a
pilgrimage to the place. The veteran islander performed his
promise faithfully, and pointed out the very spot where the
unfortunate discoverer fell. The rocks and cocoa-trees around
bore record of the fact, in the marks of the balls fired from the
boats upon the savages. The pilgrims gathered round the old man,
and drew from him all the particulars he had to relate respecting
this memorable event; while the honest captain stood by and bit
his nails with impatience. To add to his vexation, they employed
themselves in knocking off pieces of the rocks, and cutting off
the bark of the trees marked by the balls, which they conveyed
back to the ship as precious relics.

Right glad, therefore, was he to get them and their treasures
fairly on board, when he made sail from this unprofitable place,
and steered for the Bay of Tocaigh, the residence of the chief or
governor of the island, where he hoped to be more successful in
obtaining supplies. On coming to anchor the captain went on
shore, accompanied by Mr. M'Dougal and Mr. M'Kay, and paid a
visit to the governor. This dignitary proved to be an old sailor,
by the name of John Young; who, after being tossed about the seas
like another Sinbad, had, by one of the whimsical freaks of
fortune, been elevated to the government of a savage island. He
received his visitors with more hearty familiarity than
personages in his high station are apt to indulge, but soon gave
them to understand that provisions were scanty at Tocaigh, and
that there was no good water, no rain having fallen in the
neighborhood in three years.

The captain was immediately for breaking up the conference and
departing, but the partners were not so willing to part with the
nautical governor, who seemed disposed to be extremely
communicative, and from whom they might be able to procure some
useful information. A long conversation accordingly ensued, in
the course of which they made many inquiries about the affairs of
the islands, their natural productions, and the possibility of
turning them to advantage in the way of trade; nor did they fail
to inquire into the individual history of John Young, and how he
came to be governor. This he gave with great condescension,
running through the whole course of his fortunes "even from his
boyish days."

He was a native of Liverpool, in England, and had followed the
sea from boyhood, until, by dint of good conduct, he had risen so
far in his profession as to be boatswain of an American ship
called the Eleanor, commanded by Captain Metcalf. In this vessel
he had sailed in 1789, on one of those casual expeditions to the
northwest coast, in quest of furs. In the course of the voyage,
the captain left a small schooner, named the Fair American, at
Nootka, with a crew of five men, commanded by his son, a youth of
eighteen. She was to follow on in the track of the Eleanor.

In February, 1790, Captain Metcalf touched at the island of
Mowee, one of the Sandwich group. While anchored here, a boat
which was astern of the Eleanor was stolen, and a seaman who was
in it was killed. The natives, generally, disclaimed the outrage,
and brought the shattered remains of the boat and the dead body
of the seaman to the ship. Supposing that they had thus appeased
the anger of the captain, they thronged, as usual, in great
numbers about the vessel, to trade. Captain Metcalf, however,
determined on a bloody revenge. The Eleanor mounted ten guns. All
these he ordered to be loaded with musket-balls, nails, and
pieces of old iron, and then fired them, and the small arms of
the ship, among the natives. The havoc was dreadful; more than a
hundred, according to Young's account, were slain.

After this signal act of vengeance, Captain Metcalf sailed from
Mowee, and made for the island of Owyhee, where he was well
received by Tamaahmaah. The fortunes of this warlike chief were
at that time on the rise. He had originally been of inferior
rank, ruling over only one or two districts of Owyhee, but had
gradually made himself sovereign of his native island.

The Eleanor remained some few days at anchor here, and an
apparently friendly intercourse was kept up with the inhabitants.
On the 17th March, John Young obtained permission to pass the
night on shore. On the following morning a signal-gun summoned
him to return on board.

He went to the shore to embark, but found all the canoes hauled
up on the beach and rigorously tabooed, or interdicted. He would
have launched one himself, but was informed by Tamaahmaah that if
he presumed to do so he would be put to death.

Young was obliged to submit, and remained all day in great
perplexity to account for this mysterious taboo, and fearful that
some hostility was intended. In the evening he learned the cause
of it, and his uneasiness was increased. It appeared that the
vindictive act of Captain Metcalf had recoiled upon his own head.
The schooner Fair American, commanded by his son, following in
his track, had fallen into the hands of the natives to the
southward of Tocaigh Bay, and young Metcalf and four of the crew
had been massacred.

On receiving intelligence of this event, Tamaahmaah had
immediately tabooed all the canoes, and interdicted all
intercourse with the ship, lest the captain should learn the fate
of the schooner, and take his revenge upon the island. For the
same reason he prevented Young from rejoining his countrymen. The
Eleanor continued to fire signals from time to time for two days,
and then sailed; concluding, no doubt, that the boatswain had

John Young was in despair when he saw the ship make sail; and
found himself abandoned among savages;-and savages, too,
sanguinary in their character, and inflamed by acts of hostility.
He was agreeably disappointed, however, in experiencing nothing
but kind treatment from Tamaahmaah and his people. It is true, he
was narrowly watched whenever a vessel came in sight, lest he
should escape and relate what had passed; but at other times he
was treated with entire confidence and great distinction. He
became a prime favorite, cabinet counsellor, and active coadjutor
of Tamaahmaah, attending him in all his excursions, whether of
business or pleasure, and aiding in his warlike and ambitious
enterprises. By degrees he rose to the rank of a chief, espoused
one of the beauties of the island, and became habituated and
reconciled to his new way of life; thinking it better, perhaps,
to rule among savages than serve among white men; to be a
feathered chief than a tarpaulin boatswain. His favor with
Tamahmaah, never declined; and when that sagacious, intrepid, and
aspiring chieftain had made himself sovereign over the whole
group of islands, and removed his residence to Woahoo, he left
his faithful adherent John Young in command of Owyhee.

Such is an outline of the history of Governor Young, as furnished
by himself; and we regret that we are not able to give any
account of the state maintained by this seafaring worthy, and the
manner in which he discharged his high functions; though it is
evident he had more of the hearty familiarity of the forecastle
than the dignity of the gubernatorial office.

These long conferences were bitter trials to the patience of the
captain, who had no respect either for the governor or his
island, and was anxious to push on in quest of provisions and
water. As soon as he could get his inquisitive partners once more
on board, he weighed anchor, and made sail for the island of
Woahoo, the royal residence of Tamaahmaah.

This is the most beautiful island of the Sandwich group. It is
forty-six miles in length and twenty-three in breadth. A ridge of
volcanic mountains extends through the centre, rising into lofty
peaks, and skirted by undulating hills and rich plains, where the
cabins of the natives peep out from beneath groves of cocoanut
and other luxuriant trees.

On the 21st of February the Tonquin cast anchor in the beautiful
bay before the village of Waititi, (pronounced Whyteetee.) the
abode of Tamaahmaah. This village contained about two hundred
habitations, composed of poles set in the ground, tied together
at the ends, and thatched with grass, and was situated in an open
grove of cocoanuts. The royal palace of Tamaahmaah was a large
house of two stories; the lower of stone, the upper of wood.
Round this his body-guard kept watch, composed of twenty-four men
in long blue cassocks, turned up with yellow, and each armed with
a musket.

While at anchor at this place, much ceremonious visiting and long
conferences took place between the potentate of the islands and
the partners of the company. Tamaahmaah came on board of the ship
in royal style, in his double pirogue. He was between fifty and
sixty years of age, above the middle size, large and well made,
though somewhat corpulent. He was dressed in an old suit of
regimentals, with a sword by his side, and seemed somewhat
embarrassed by his magnificent attire. Three of his wives
accompanied him. They were almost as tall, and quite as corpulent
as himself; but by no means to be compared with him in grandeur
of habiliments, wearing no other garb than the pan. With him,
also, came his great favorite and confidential counseller,
Kraimaker; who, from holding a post equivalent to that of prime
minister, had been familiarly named Billy Pitt by the British
visitors to the islands.

The sovereign was received with befitting ceremonial. The
American flag was displayed, four guns were fired, and the
partners appeared in scarlet coats, and conducted their
illustrious guests to the cabin, where they were regaled with
wine. In this interview the partners endeavored to impress the
monarch with a sense of their importance, and of the importance
of the association to which they belonged. They let him know that
they were eris, or chiefs, of a great company about to be
established on the northwest coast, and talked of the probability
of opening a trade with his islands, and of sending ships there
occasionally. All this was gratifying and interesting to him, for
he was aware of the advantages of trade, and desirous of
promoting frequent intercourse with white men. He encouraged
Europeans and Americans to settle in his islands and intermarry
with his subjects. There were between twenty and thirty white men
at that time resident in the island, but many of them were mere
vagabonds, who remained there in hopes of leading a lazy and an
easy life. For such Tamaahmaah had a great contempt; those only
had his esteem and countenance who knew some trade or mechanic
art, and were sober and industrious.

On the day subsequent to the monarch's visit, the partners landed
and waited upon him in return. Knowing the effect of show and
dress upon men in savage life, and wishing to make a favorable
impression as the eris, or chiefs, of the great American Fur
Company, some of them appeared in Highland plaids and kilts to
the great admiration of the natives.

While visits of ceremony and grand diplomatic conferences were
going on between the partners and the king, the captain, in his
plain, matter-of-fact way, was pushing what he considered a far
more important negotiation; the purchase of a supply of hogs. He
found that the king had profited in more ways than one by his
intercourse with white men. Above all other arts he had learned
the art of driving a bargain. He was a magnanimous monarch, but a
shrewd pork merchant; and perhaps thought he could not do better
with his future allies, the American Fur Company, than to begin
by close dealing. Several interviews were requisite, and much
bargaining, before he could be brought to part with a bristle of
his bacon, and then he insisted upon being paid in hard Spanish
dollars; giving as a reason that he wanted money to purchase a
frigate from his brother George, as he affectionately termed the
king of England. *

At length the royal bargain was concluded; the necessary supply
of hogs obtained, besides several goats, two sheep, a quantity of
poultry, and vegetables in abundance. The partners now urged to
recruit their forces from the natives of this island. They
declared they had never seen watermen equal to them, even among
the voyageurs of the Northwest; and, indeed, they are remarkable
for their skill in managing their light craft, and can swim and
dive like waterfowl. The partners were inclined, therefore, to
take thirty or forty with them to the Columbia, to be ernployed
in the service of the company. The captain, however, objected
that there was not room in his vessel for the accommodation of
such a number. Twelve, only, were therefore enlisted for the
company, and as many more for the service of the ship. The former
engaged to serve for the term of three years, during , which they
were to be fed and clothed; and at the expiration of the time
were to receive one hundred dollars in merchandise.

And now, having embarked his live-stock, fruits, vegetables, and
water, the captain made ready to set sail. How much the honest
man had suffered in spirit by what he considered the freaks and
vagaries of his passengers, and how little he had understood
their humors and intentions, is amusingly shown in a letter
written to Mr. Astor from Woahoo, which contains his comments on
the scenes we have described.

"It would be difficult," he writes, "to imagine the frantic
gambols that are daily played off here; sometimes dressing in red
coats, and otherwise very fantastically, and collecting a number
of ignorant natives around them, telling them that they are the
great eris of the Northwest, and making arrangements for sending
three or four vessels yearly to them from the coast with spars,
&c.; while those very natives cannot even furnish a hog to the
ship. Then dressing in Highland plaids and kilts, and making
similar arrangements, with presents of rum, wine, or anything
that is at hand. Then taking a number of clerks and men on shore
to the very spot on which Captain Cook was killed, and each
fetching off a piece of the rock or tree that was touched by the
shot. Then sitting down with some white man or some native who
can be a little understood, and collecting the history of those
islands, of Tamaahmaah's wars, the curiosities of the islands,
&c., preparatory to the histories of their voyages; and the
collection is indeed ridiculously contemptible. To enumerate the
thousand instances of ignorance, filth, &c., - or to
particularize all the frantic gambols that are daily practiced,
would require Volumes.

Before embarking, the great eris of the American Fur Company took
leave of their illustrious ally in due style, with many
professions of lasting friendship and promises of future
intercourse; while the matter-of-fact captain anathematized him
in his heart for a grasping, trafficking savage; as shrewd and
sordid in his dealings as a white man. As one of the vessels of
the company will, in the course of events, have to appeal to the
justice and magnanimity of this island potentate, we shall see
how far the honest captain was right in his opinion.

* It appears, from the accounts of subsequent voyagers, that
Tamaahmaah afterwards succeeded in his wish of purchasing a large
ship. In this he sent a cargo of sandal-wood to Canton, having
discovered that the foreign merchants trading with him made large
profits on this wood, shipped by them from the islands to the
Chinese markets. The ship was manned by natives, but the officers
were Englishmen. She accomplished her voyage, and returned in
safety to the islands, with the Hawaiian flag floating gloriously
in the breeze. The king hastened on board, expecting to find his
sandal-wood converted into crapes and damasks, and other rich
stuffs of China, but found, to his astonishment, by the
legerdemain of traffic, his cargo had all disappeared, and, in
place of it, remained a bill of charges amounting to three
thousand dollars. It was some time before he could be made to
comprehend certain of the most important items of the bill, such
as pilotage, anchorage, and custom-house fees; but when he
discovered that maritime states in other countries derived large
revenues in this manner, to the great cost of the merchant,
"Well," cried he, "then I will have harbor fees also." He
established them accordingly. Pilotage a dollar a foot on the
draft of each vessel. Anchorage from sixty to seventy dollars. In
this way he greatly increased the royal revenue, and turned his
China speculation to account.

                          CHAPTER VII.
Departure From the Sandwich Islands.- Misunderstandings- Miseries
   of a Suspicious Man.- Arrival at the Columbia - Dangerous
Service. - Gloomy Apprehensions- Bars and Breakers.- Perils of
   the Ship. Disasters of a Boat's Crew.-Burial of a Sandwich

IT was on the 28th of February that the Tonquin set sail from the
Sandwich Islands. For two days the wind was contrary, and the
vessel was detained in their neighborhood; at length a favorable
breeze sprang up, and in a little while the rich groves, green
hills, and snowy peaks of those happy islands one after another
sank from sight, or melted into the blue distance, and the
Tonquin ploughed her course towards the sterner regions of the

The misunderstandings between the captain and his passengers
still continued; or rather, increased in gravity. By his
altercations and his moody humors, he had cut himself off from
all community of thought, or freedom of conversation with them.
He disdained to ask questions as to their proceedings, and could
only guess at the meaning of their movements, and in so doing
indulged in conjectures and suspicions, which produced the most
whimsical self-torment.

Thus, in one of his disputes with them, relative to the goods on
board, some of the packages of which they wished to open, to take
out articles of clothing for the men or presents for the natives,
he was so harsh and peremptory that they lost all patience, and
hinted that they were the strongest party, and might reduce him
to a very ridiculous dilemma, by taking from him the command.

A thought now flashed across the captain's mind that they really
had a plan to depose him, and that, having picked up some
information at Owyhee, possibly of war between the United States
and England, they meant to alter the destination of the voyage;
perhaps to seize upon ship and cargo for their own use.

Once having conceived this suspicion, everything went to foster
it. They had distributed fire-arms among some of their men, a
common precaution among the fur traders when mingling with the
natives. This, however, looked like preparation. Then several of
the partners and clerks and some of the men, being Scotsmen, were
acquainted with the Gaelic, and held long conversations together
in that language. These conversations were considered by the
captain of a "mysterious and unwarranted nature," and related, no
doubt, to some foul conspiracy that was brewing among them. He
frankly avows such suspicions, in his letter to Mr. Astor, but
intimates that he stood ready to resist any treasonous outbreak;
and seems to think that the evidence of preparation on his part
had an effect in overawing the conspirators.

The fact is, as we have since been informed by one of the
parties, it was a mischievous pleasure with some of the partners
and clerks, who were young men, to play upon the suspicious
temper and splenetic humors of the captain. To this we may
ascribe many of their whimsical pranks and absurd propositions,
and, above all, their mysterious colloquies in Gaelic.

In this sore and irritable mood did the captain pursue his
course, keeping a wary eye on every movement, and bristling up
whenever the detested sound of the Gaelic language grated upon
his ear. Nothing occurred, however, materially to disturb the
residue of the voyage excepting a violent storm; and on the
twenty-second of March, the Tonquin arrived at the mouth of the
Oregon, or Columbia River.

The aspect of the river and the adjacent coast was wild and
dangerous. The mouth of the Columbia is upwards of four miles
wide with a peninsula and promontory on one side, and a long low
spit of land on the other; between which a sand bar and chain of
breakers almost block the entrance. The interior of the country
rises into successive ranges of mountains, which, at the time of
the arrival of the Tonquin, were covered with snow.

A fresh wind from the northwest sent a rough tumbling sea upon
the coast, which broke upon the bar in furious surges, and
extended a sheet of foam almost across the mouth of the river.
Under these circumstances the captain did not think it prudent to
approach within three leagues, until the bar should be sounded
and the channel ascertained. Mr. Fox, the chief mate, was ordered
to this service in the whaleboat, accompanied by John Martin, an
old seaman, who had formerly visited the river, and by three
Canadians. Fox requested to have regular sailors to man the boat,
but the captain would not spare them from the service of the
ship, and supposed the Canadians, being expert boatmen on lakes
and rivers, were competent to the service, especially when
directed and aided by Fox and Martin. Fox seems to have lost all
firmness of spirit on the occasion, and to have regarded the
service with a misgiving heart. He came to the partners for
sympathy, knowing their differences with the captain, and the
tears were in his eyes as he represented his case. "I am sent
off," said he, "without seamen to man my boat, in boisterous
weather, and on the most dangerous part of the northwest coast.
My uncle was lost a few years ago on this same bar, and I am now
going to lay my bones alongside of his." The partners sympathized
in his apprehensions, and remonstrated with the captain. The
latter, however, was not to be moved. He had been displeased with
Mr. Fox in the earlier part of the voyage, considering him
indolent and inactive; and probably thought his present
repugnance arose from a want of true nautical spirit. The
interference of the partners in the business of the ship, also,
was not calculated to have a favorable effect on a stickler for
authority like himself, especially in his actual state of feeling
towards them.

At one o'clock, P.m., therefore, Fox and his comrades set off in
the whaleboat, which is represented as small in size, and crazy
in condition. All eyes were strained after the little bark as it
pulled for shore, rising and sinking with the huge rolling waves,
until it entered, a mere speck, among the foaming breakers, and
was soon lost to view. Evening set in, night succeeded and passed
away, and morning returned, but without the return of the boat.

As the wind had moderated, the ship stood near to the land, so as
to command a view of the river's mouth. Nothing was to be seen
but a wild chaos of tumbling waves breaking upon the bar, and
apparently forming a foaming barrier from shore to shore. Towards
night the ship again stood out to gain sea-room, and a gloom was
visible in every countenance. The captain himself shared in the
general anxiety, and probably repented of his peremptory orders.
Another weary and watchful night succeeded, during which the wind
subsided, and the weather became serene.

On the following day, the ship having drifted near the land,
anchored in fourteen fathoms water, to the northward of the long
peninsula or promontory which forms the north side of the
entrance, and is called Cape Disappointment. The pinnace was then
manned, and two of the partners, Mr. David Stuart and Mr. M'Kay,
set off in the hope of learning something of the fate of the
whaleboat. The surf, however, broke with such violence along the
shore that they could find no landing place. Several of the
natives appeared on the beach and made signs to them to row round
the cape, but they thought it most prudent to return to the ship.

The wind now springing up, the Tonquin got under way, and stood
in to seek the channel; but was again deterred by the frightful
aspect of the breakers, from venturing within a league. Here she
hove to; and Mr. Mumford, the second mate, was despatched with
four hands, in the pinnace, to sound across the channel until he
should find four fathoms depth. The pinnace entered among the
breakers, but was near being lost, and with difficulty got back
to the ship. The captain insisted that Mr. Mumford had steered
too much to the southward. He now turned to Mr. Aiken, an able
mariner, destined to command the schooner intended for the
coasting trade, and ordered him, together with John Coles, sail-
maker, Stephen Weekes, armorer, and two Sandwich Islanders, to
proceed ahead and take soundings, while the ship should follow
under easy sail. In this way they proceeded until Aiken had
ascertained the channel, when signal was given from the ship for
him to return on board. He was then within pistol shot, but so
furious was the current, and tumultuous the breakers, that the
boat became unmanageable, and was hurried away, the crew crying
out piteously for assistance. In a few moments she could not be
seen from the ship's deck. Some of the passengers climbed to the
mizzen top, and beheld her still struggling to reach the ship;
but shortly after she broached broadside to the waves, and her
case seemed desperate. The attention of those on board of the
ship was now called to their own safety. They were in shallow
water; the vessel struck repeatedly, the waves broke over her,
and there was danger of her foundering. At length she got into
seven fathoms water, and the wind lulling, and the night coming
on, cast anchor. With the darkness their anxieties increased. The
wind whistled, the sea roared, the gloom was only broken by the
ghastly glare of the foaming breakers, the minds of the seamen
were full of dreary apprehensions, and some of them fancied they
heard the cries of their lost comrades mingling with the uproar
of the elements. For a time, too, the rapidly ebbing tide
threatened to sweep them from their precarious anchorage. At
length the reflux of the tide, and the springing up of the wind,
enabled them to quit their dangerous situation and take shelter
in a small bay within Cape Disappointment, where they rode in
safety during the residue of a stormy night, and enjoyed a brief
interval of refreshing sleep.

With the light of day returned their cares and anxieties. They
looked out from the mast-head over a wild coast, and wilder sea,
but could discover no trace of the two boats and their crews that
were missing. Several of the natives came on board with peltries,
but there was no disposition to trade. They were interrogated by
signs after the lost boats, but could not understand the

Parties now Went on shore and scoured the neighborhood. One of
these was headed by the captain. They had not proceeded far when
they beheld a person at a distance in civilized garb. As he drew
near he proved to be Weekes, the armorer. There was a burst of
joy, for it was hoped his comrades were near at hand. His story,
however, was one of disaster. He and his companions had found it
impossible to govern their boat, having no rudder, and being
beset by rapid and whirling currents and boisterous surges. After
long struggling they had let her go at the mercy of the waves,
tossing about, sometimes with her bow, sometimes with her
broadside to the surges, threatened each instant with
destruction, yet repeatedly escaping, until a huge sea broke over
and swamped her. Weekes was overwhelmed by the broiling waves,
but emerging above the surface, looked round for his companions.
Aiken and Coles were not to be seen; near him were the two
Sandwich Islanders, stripping themselves of their clothing that
they might swim more freely. He did the same, and the boat
floating near to him he seized hold of it. The two islanders
joined him, and, uniting their forces, they succeeded in turning
the boat upon her keel; then bearing down her stern and rocking
her, they forced out so much water that she was able to bear the
weight of a man without sinking. One of the islanders now got in,
and in a little while bailed out the water with his hands. The
other swam about and collected the oars, and they all three got
once more on board.

By this time the tide had swept them beyond the breakers, and
Weekes called on his companions to row for land. They were so
chilled and benumbed by the cold, however, that they lost all
heart, and absolutely refused. Weekes was equally chilled, but
had superior sagacity and self-command. He counteracted the
tendency to drowsiness and stupor which cold produces by keeping
himself in constant exercise; and seeing that the vessel was
advancing, and that everything depended upon himself, he set to
work to scull the boat clear of the bar, and into quiet water.

Toward midnight one of the poor islanders expired; his companion
threw himself on his corpse and could not be persuaded to leave
him. The dismal night wore away amidst these horrors: as the day
dawned, Weekes found himself near the land. He steered directly
for it, and at length, with the aid of the surf, ran his boat
high upon a sandy beach.

Finding that one of the Sandwich Islanders yet gave signs of
life, he aided him to leave the boat, and set out with him
towards the adjacent woods. The poor fellow, however, was too
feeble to follow him, and Weekes was soon obliged to abandon him
to his fate and provide for his own safety. Falling upon a beaten
path, he pursued it, and after a few hours came to a part of the
coast, where, to his surprise and joy, he beheld the ship at
anchor and was met by the captain and his party.

After Weekes had related his adventures, three parties were
despatched to beat up the coast in search of the unfortunate
islander. They returned at night without success, though they had
used the utmost diligence. On the following day the search was
resumed, and the poor fellow was at length discovered lying
beneath a group of rocks, his legs swollen, his feet torn and
bloody from walking through bushes and briars, and himself half-
dead with cold, hunger, and fatigue. Weekes and this islander
were the only survivors of the crew of the jolly-boat, and no
trace was ever discovered of Fox and his party. Thus eight men
were lost on the first approach to the coast; a commencement that
cast a gloom over the spirits of the whole party, and was
regarded by some of the superstitious as an omen that boded no
good to the enterprise.

Towards night the Sandwich Islanders went on shore, to bury the
body of their unfortunate countryman who had perished in the
boat. On arriving at the place where it had been left, they dug a
grave in the sand, in which they deposited the corpse, with a
biscuit under one of the arms, some lard under the chin, and a
small quantity of tobacco, as provisions for its journey in the
land of spirits. Having covered the body with sand and flints,
they kneeled along the grave in a double row, with their faces
turned to the east, while one who officiated as a priest
sprinkled them with water from a hat. In so doing he recited a
kind of prayer or invocation, to which, at intervals, the others
made responses. Such were the simple rites performed by these
poor savages at the grave of their comrade on the shores of a
strange land; and when these were done, they rose and returned in
silence to the ship, without once casting a look behind.

                         CHAPTER VIII.
Mouth of the Columbia.- The Native Tribes.- Their Fishing.- Their
   Canoes.- Bold Navigators- Equestrian Indians and Piscatory
Indians, Difference in Their Physical Organization.- Search for a
    Trading Site. - Expedition of M'Dougal and David Stuart-
Comcomly, the OneEyed Chieftain.- Influence of Wealth in Savage
Life.- Slavery Among the Natives.-An Aristocracy of Flatheads.-
   Hospitality Among the Chinooks- Comcomly's Daughter.- Her

THE Columbia, or Oregon, for the distance of thirty or forty
miles from its entrance into the sea, is, properly speaking, a
mere estuary, indented by deep bays so as to vary from three to
seven miles in width; and is rendered extremely intricate and
dangerous by shoals reaching nearly from shore to shore, on
which, at times, the winds and currents produce foaming and
tumultuous breakers. The mouth of the river proper is but about
half a mile wide, formed by the contracting shores of the
estuary. The entrance from the sea, as we have already observed,
is bounded on the south side by a flat sandy spit of land,
stretching in to the ocean. This is commonly called Point Adams.
The opposite, or northern side, is Cape Disappointment; a kind of
peninsula, terminating in a steep knoll or promontory crowned
with a forest of pine-trees, and connected with the mainland by a
low and narrow neck. Immediately within this cape is a wide, open
bay, terminating at Chinook Point, so called from a neighboring
tribe of Indians. This was called Baker's Bay, and here the
Tonquin was anchored.

The natives inhabiting the lower part of the river, and with whom
the company was likely to have the most frequent intercourse,
were divided at this time into four tribes, the Chinooks,
Clatsops, Wahkiacums, and Cathlamahs. They resembled each other
in person, dress, language, and manner; and were probably from
the same stock, but broken into tribes, or rather hordes, by
those feuds and schisms frequent among Indians.

These people generally live by fishing. It is true they
occasionally hunt the elk and deer, and ensnare the water-fowl of
their ponds and rivers, but these are casual luxuries. Their
chief subsistence is derived from the salmon and other fish which
abound in the Columbia and its tributary streams, aided by roots
and herbs, especially the wappatoo, which is found on the islands
of the river.

As the Indians of the plains who depend upon the chase are bold
and expert riders, and pride themselves upon their horses, so
these piscatory tribes of the coast excel in the management of
canoes, and are never more at home than when riding upon the
waves. Their canoes vary in form and size. Some are upwards of
fifty feet long, cut out of a single tree, either fir or white
cedar, and capable of carrying thirty persons. They have thwart
pieces from side to side about three inches thick, and their
gunwales flare outwards, so as to cast off the surges of the
waves. The bow and stern are decorated with grotesque figures of
men and animals, sometimes five feet in height.

In managing their canoes they kneel two and two along the bottom,
sitting on their heels, and wielding paddles from four to five
feet long, while one sits on the stern and steers with a paddle
of the same kind. The women are equally expert with the men in
managing the canoe, and generally take the helm.

It is surprising to see with what fearless unconcern these
savages venture in their light barks upon the roughest and most
tempestuous seas. They seem to ride upon the waves like sea-fowl.
Should a surge throw the canoe upon its side and endanger its
overturn, those to windward lean over the upper gunwale, thrust
their paddles deep into the wave, apparently catch the water and
force it under the canoe, and by this action not merely regain
III an equilibrium, but give their bark a vigorous impulse

The effect of different modes of life upon the human frame and
human character is strikingly instanced in the contrast between
the hunting Indians of the prairies, and the piscatory Indians of
the sea-coast. The former, continually on horseback scouring the
plains, gaining their food by hardy exercise, and subsisting
chiefly on flesh, are generally tall, sinewy, meagre, but well
formed, and of bold and fierce deportment: the latter, lounging
about the river banks, or squatting and curved up in their
canoes, are generally low in stature, ill-shaped, with crooked
legs, thick ankles, and broad flat feet. They are inferior also
in muscular power and activity, and in game qualities and
appearance, to their hard-riding brethren of the prairies.

Having premised these few particulars concerning the neighboring
Indians, we will return to the immediate concerns of the Tonquin
and her crew.

Further search was made for Mr. Fox and his party, but with no
better success, and they were at length given up as lost. In the
meantime, the captain and some of the partners explored the river
for some distance in a large boat, to select a suitable place for
the trading post. Their old jealousies and differences continued;
they never could coincide in their choice, and the captain
objected altogether to any site so high up the river. They all
returned, therefore, to Baker's Bay in no very good humor. The
partners proposed to examine the opposite shore, but the captain
was impatient of any further delay. His eagerness to "get on" had
increased upon him. He thought all these excursions a sheer loss
of time, and was resolved to land at once, build a shelter for
the reception of that part of his cargo destined for the use of
the settlement, and, having cleared his ship of it and of his
irksome shipmates, to depart upon the prosecution of his coasting
voyage, according to orders.

On the following day, therefore, without troubling himself to
consult the partners, he landed in Baker's Bay, and proceeded to
erect a shed for the reception of the rigging, equipments, and
stores of the schooner that was to be built for the use of the

This dogged determination on the part of the sturdy captain gave
high offense to Mr. M'Dougal, who now considered himself at the
head of the concern, as Mr. Astor's representative and proxy. He
set off the same day, (April 5th) accompanied by David Stuart,
for the southern shore, intending to be back by the seventh. Not
having the captain to contend with, they soon pitched upon a spot
which appeared to them favorable for the intended establishment.
It was on a point of land called Point George, having a very good
harbor, where vessels, not exceeding two hundred tons burden,
might anchor within fifty yards of the shore.

After a day thus profitably spent, they recrossed the river, but
landed on the northern shore several miles above the anchoring
ground of the Tonquin, in the neighborhood of Chinooks, and
visited the village of that tribe. Here they were received with
great hospitality by the chief, who was named Comcomly, a shrewd
old savage, with but one eye, who will occasionally figure in
this narrative. Each village forms a petty sovereignty, governed
by its own chief, who, however, possesses but little authority,
unless he be a man of wealth and substance; that is to say,
possessed of canoe, slaves, and wives. The greater the number of
these, the greater is the chief. How many wives this one-eyed
potentate maintained we are not told, but he certainly possessed
great sway, not merely over his own tribe, but over the

Having mentioned slaves, we would observe that slavery exists
among several of the tribes beyond the Rocky Mountains. The
slaves are well treated while in good health, but occupied in all
kinds of drudgery. Should they become useless, however, by
sickness or old age, they are totally neglected, and left to
perish; nor is any respect paid to their bodies after death.

A singular custom prevails, not merely among the Chinooks, but
among most of the tribes about this part of the coast, which is
the flattening of the forehead. The process by which this
deformity is effected commences immediately after birth. The
infant is laid in a wooden trough, by way of cradle. The end on
which the head reposes is higher than the rest. A padding is
placed on the forehead of the infant, with a piece of bark above
it, and is pressed down by cords, which pass through holes on
each side of the trough. As the tightening of the padding and the
pressing of the head to the board is gradual, the process is said
not to be attended with much pain. The appearance of the infant,
however, while in this state of compression, is whimsically
hideous, and "its little black eyes," we are told, "being forced
out by the tightness of the bandages, resemble those of a mouse
choked in a trap."

About a year's pressure is sufficient to produce the desired
effect, at the end of which time the child emerges from its
bandages a complete flathead, and continues so through life. It
must be noted that this flattening of the head has something in
it of aristocratical significancy, like the crippling of the feet
among the Chinese ladies of quality. At any rate, it is a sign of
freedom. No slave is permitted to bestow this enviable deformity
upon his child; all the slaves, therefore, are roundheads.

With this worthy tribe of Chinooks the two partners passed a part
of the day very agreeably. M'Dougal, who was somewhat vain of his
official rank, had given it to be understood that they were two
chiefs of a great trading company, about to be established here,
and the quick-sighted, though one-eyed chief, who was somewhat
practiced in traffic with white men, immediately perceived the
policy of cultivating the friendship of two such important
visitors. He regaled them, therefore, to the best of his ability,
with abundance of salmon and wappatoo. The next morning, April
7th, they prepared to return to the vessel, according to promise.
They had eleven miles of open bay to traverse; the wind was
fresh, the waves ran high. Comcomly remonstrated with them on the
hazard to which they would be exposed. They were resolute,
however, and launched their boat, while the wary chieftain
followed at some short distance in his canoe. Scarce had they
rowed a mile, when a wave broke over their boat and upset it.
They were in imminent peril of drowning, especially Mr. M'Dougal,
who could not swim. Comcomly, however, came bounding over the
waves in his light canoe, and snatched them from a watery grave.

They were taken on shore and a fire made, at which they dried
their clothes, after which Comcomly conducted them back to his
village. Here everything was done that could be devised for their
entertainment during three days that they were detained by bad
weather. Comcomly made his people perform antics before them; and
his wives and daughters endeavored, by all the soothing and
endearing arts of women, to find favor in their eyes. Some even
painted their bodies with red clay, and anointed themselves with
fish oil, to give additional lustre to their charms. Mr. M'Dougal
seems to have had a heart susceptible to the influence of the
gentler sex. Whether or no it was first touched on this occasion
we do not learn; but it will be found, in the course of this
work, that one of the daughters of the hospitable Comcomly
eventually made a conquest of the great eri of the American Fur

When the weather had moderated and the sea became tranquil, the
one-eyed chief of the Chinooks manned his state canoe, and
conducted his guests in safety to the ship, where they were
welcomed with joy, for apprehensions had been felt for their
safety. Comcomly and his people were then entertained on board of
the Tonquin, and liberally rewarded for their hospitality and
services. They returned home highly satisfied, promising to
remain faithful friends and allies of the white men.

                          CHAPTER IX.
   Point George- Founding of Astoria- Indian Visitors.- Their
   Reception.- The Captain Taboos the Ship.- Departure of the
      Tonquin. - Comments on the Conduct of Captain Thorn.

FROM the report made by the two exploring partners, it was
determined that Point George should be the site of the trading
house. These gentlemen, it is true, were not perfectly satisfied
with the place, and were desirous of continuing their search; but
Captain Thorn was impatient to land his cargo and continue his
voyage, and protested against any more of what he termed
"sporting excursions."

Accordingly, on the 12th of April the launch was freighted with
all things necessary for the purpose, and sixteen persons
departed in her to commence the establishment, leaving the
Tonquin to follow as soon as the harbor could be sounded.

Crossing the wide mouth of the river, the party landed, and
encamped at the bottom of a small bay within Point George. The
situation chosen for the fortified post was on an elevation
facing to the north, with the wide estuary, its sand bars and
tumultuous breakers spread out before it, and the promontory of
Cape Disappointment, fifteen miles distant, closing the prospect
to the left. The surrounding country was in all the freshness of
spring; the trees were in the young leaf, the weather was superb,
and everything looked delightful to men just emancipated from a
long confinement on shipboard. The Tonquin shortly afterwards
made her way through the intricate channel, an came to anchor in
the little bay, and was saluted from the encampment with three
volleys of musketry and three cheers. She returned the salute
with three cheers and three guns.

All hands now set to work cutting down trees, clearing away
thickets, and marking out the place for the residence,
storehouse, and powder magazine, which were to be built of logs
and covered with bark. Others landed the timbers intended for the
frame of the coasting vessel, and proceeded to put them together,
while others prepared a garden spot, and sowed the seeds of
various vegetables.

The next thought was to give a name to the embryo metropolis: the
one that naturally presented itself was that of the projector and
supporter of the whole enterprise. It was accordingly named

The neighboring Indians now swarmed about the place. Some brought
a few land-otter and sea-otter skins to barter, but in very
scanty parcels; the greater number came prying about to gratify
their curiosity, for they are said to be impertinently
inquisitive; while not a few came with no other design than to
pilfer; the laws of meum and tuum being but slightly respected
among them. Some of them beset the ship in their canoes, among
whom was the Chinook chief Comcomly, and his liege subjects.
These were well received by Mr. M'Dougal, who was delighted with
an opportunity of entering upon his functions, and acquiring
importance in the eyes of his future neighbors. The confusion
thus produced on board, and the derangement of the cargo caused
by this petty trade, stirred the spleen of the captain, who had a
sovereign contempt for the one-eyed chieftain and all his crew.
He complained loudly of having his ship lumbered by a host of
"Indian ragamuffins," who had not a skin to dispose of, and at
length put his positive interdict upon all trafficking on board.
Upon this Mr. M'Dougal was fain to land, and establish his
quarters at the encampment, where he could exercise his rights
and enjoy his dignities without control.

The feud, however, between these rival powers still continued,
but was chiefly carried on by letter. Day after day and week
after week elapsed, yet the store-house requisite for the
reception of the cargo was not completed, and the ship was
detained in port; while the captain was teased by frequent
requisitions for various articles for the use of the
establishment, or the trade with the natives. An angry
correspondence took place, in which he complained bitterly of the
time wasted in "smoking and sporting parties," as he termed the
reconnoitering expeditions, and in clearing and preparing meadow
ground and turnip patches, instead of despatching his ship. At
length all these jarring matters were adjusted, if not to the
satisfaction, at least to the acquiescence of all parties. The
part of the cargo destined for the use of Astoria was landed, and
the ship left free to proceed on her voyage.

As the Tonquin was to coast to the north, to trade for peltries
at the different harbors, and to touch at Astoria on her return
in the autumn, it was unanimously determined that Mr. M'Kay
should go in her as supercargo, taking with him Mr. Lewis as
ship's clerk. On the first of June the ship got under way, and
dropped down to Baker's Bay, where she was detained for a few
days by a head wind; but early in the morning of the fifth stood
out to sea with a fine breeze and swelling canvas, and swept off
gaily on her fatal voyage, from which she was never to return!

On reviewing the conduct of Captain Thorn, and examining his
peevish and somewhat whimsical correspondence, the impression
left upon our mind is, upon the whole, decidedly in his favor.
While we smile at the simplicity of his heart and the narrowness
of his views, which made him regard everything out of the direct
path of his daily duty, and the rigid exigencies of the service,
as trivial and impertinent, which inspired him with contempt for
the swelling vanity of some of his coadjutors, and the literary
exercises and curious researches of others, we cannot but applaud
that strict and conscientious devotion to the interests of his
employer, and to what he considered the true objects of the
enterprise in which he was engaged. He certainly was to blame
occasionally for the asperity of his manners, and the arbitrary
nature of his measures, yet much that is exceptionable in this
part of his conduct may be traced to rigid notions of duty
acquired in that tyrannical school, a ship of war, and to the
construction given by his companions to the orders of Mr. Astor,
so little in conformity with his own. His mind, too, appears to
have become almost diseased by the suspicions he had formed as to
the loyalty of his associates, and the nature of their ultimate
designs; yet on this point there were circumstances to, in some
measure, justify him. The relations between the United States and
Great Britain were at that time in a critical state; in fact, the
two countries were on the eve of a war. Several of the partners
were British subjects, and might be ready to desert the flag
under which they acted, should a war take place. Their
application to the British minister at New York shows the dubious
feeling with which they had embarked in the present enterprise.
They had been in the employ of the Northwest Company, and might
be disposed to rally again under that association, should events
threaten the prosperity of this embryo establishment of Mr.
Astor. Besides, we have the fact, averred to us by one of the
partners, that some of them, who were young and heedless, took a
mischievous and unwarrantable pleasure in playing upon the
jealous temper of the captain, and affecting mysterious
consultations and sinister movements.

These circumstances are cited in palliation of the doubts and
surmises of Captain Thorn, which might otherwise appear strange
and unreasonable. That most of the partners were perfectly
upright and faithful in the discharge of the trust reposed in
them we are fully satisfied; still the honest captain was not
invariably wrong in his suspicions; and that he formed a pretty
just opinion of the integrity of that aspiring personage, Mr.
M'Dougal, will be substantially proved in the sequel.

                           CHAPTER X.
  Disquieting Rumors From the Interior.- Reconnoitring Party-
Preparations for a Trading Post.- An Unexpected Arrival - A Spy
   in the Camp.- Expedition Into the Interior- Shores of the
Columbia - Mount Coffin.- Indian Sepulchre.- The Land of Spirits-
Columbian Valley- Vancouver's Point.-Falls and Rapids.- A Great
  Fishing Mart.- The Village of Wishram. - Difference Between
Fishing Indians and Hunting Indians- Effects of Habits of Trade
  on the Indian Character.- Post Established at the Oakinagan.

WHILE the Astorians were busily occupied in completing their
factory and fort, a report was brought to them by an Indian from
the upper part of the river, that a party of thirty white men had
appeared on the banks of the Columbia, and were actually building
houses at the second rapids. This information caused much
disquiet. We have already mentioned that the Northwest Company
had established posts to the west of the Rocky Mountains, in a
district called by them New Caledonia, which extended from lat.
52  to 55 deg north, being within the British territories. It was
now apprehended that they were advancing within the American
limits, and were endeavoring to seize upon the upper part of the
river and forestall the American Fur Company in the surrounding
trade; in which case bloody feuds might be anticipated, such as
had prevailed between the rival fur companies in former days.

A reconnoitring party was sent up the river to ascertain the
truth of the report. They ascended to the foot of the first
rapid, about two hundred miles, but could hear nothing of any
white men being in the neighborhood.

Not long after their return, however, further accounts were
received, by two wandering Indians, which established the fact
that the Northwest Company had actually erected a trading house
on the Spokane River, which falls into the north branch of the

What rendered this intelligence the more disquieting was the
inability of the Astorians, in their present reduced state as to
numbers, and the exigencies of their new establishment, to
furnish detachments to penetrate the country in different
directions, and fix the posts necessary to secure the interior

It was resolved, however, at any rate, to advance a countercheck
to this post on the Spokan, and one of the partners, Mr. David
Stuart, prepared to set out for the purpose with eight men and a
small assortment of goods. He was to be guided by the two
Indians, who knew the country and promised to take him to a place
not far from the Spokan River, and in a neighborhood abounding
with beaver. Here he was to establish himself and to remain for a
time, provided he found the situation advantageous and the
natives friendly.

On the 15th of July, when Mr. Stuart was nearly ready to embark,
a canoe made its appearance, standing for the harbor, and manned
by nine white men. Much speculation took place who these
strangers could be, for it was too soon to expect their own
people, under Mr. Hunt, who were to cross the continent. As the
canoe drew near, the British standard was distinguished: on
coming to land, one of the crew stepped on shore, and announced
himself as Mr. David Thompson, astronomer, and partner of the
Northwest Company. According to his account, he had set out in
the preceding year with a tolerably strong party, and a supply of
Indian goods, to cross the Rocky Mountains. A part of his people,
however, had deserted him on the eastern side, and returned with
the goods to the nearest Northwest post. He had persisted in
crossing the mountains with eight men, who remained true to him.
They had traversed the higher regions, and ventured near the
source of the Columbia, where, in the spring, they had
constructed a cedar canoe, the same in which they had reached

This, in fact, was the party despatched by the Northwest Company
to anticipate Mr. Astor in his intention of effecting a
settlement at the mouth of the Columbia River. It appears, from
information subsequently derived from other sources, that Mr.
Thompson had pushed on his course with great haste, calling at
all the Indian villages in his march, presenting them with
British flags, and even planting them at the forks of the rivers,
proclaiming formally that he took possession of the country in
the name of the king of Great Britain for the Northwest Company.
As his original plan was defeated by the desertion of his people,
it is probable that he descended the river simply to reconnoitre,
and ascertain whether an American settlement had been commenced.

Mr. Thompson was, no doubt, the first white man who descended the
northern branch of the Columbia from so near its source. Lewis
and Clarke struck the main body of the river at the forks, about
four hundred miles from its mouth. They entered it from Lewis
River, its southern branch, and thence descended.

Though Mr. Thompson could be considered as little better than a
spy in the camp, he was received with great cordiality by Mr.
M'Dougal, who had a lurking feeling of companionship and good-
will for all of the Northwest Company. He invited him to head-
quarters, where he and his people were hospitably entertained.
Nay, further, being somewhat in extremity, he was furnished by
Mr. M'Dougal with goods and provisions for his journey back
across the mountains, much against the wishes Of Mr. David
Stuart, who did not think the object of his visit entitled him to
any favor.

On the 23rd of July, Mr. Stuart set out upon his expedition to
the interior. His party consisted of four of the clerks, Messrs.
Pillet, Ross, M'Lennon, and Montigny, two Canadian voyageurs, and
two natives of the Sandwich Islands. They had three canoes well
laden with provisions, and with goods and necessities for a
trading establishment.

Mr. Thompson and his party set out in company with them, it being
his intention to proceed direct to Montreal. The partners at
Astoria forwarded by him a short letter to Mr. Astor, informing
him of their safe arrival at the mouth of the Columbia, and that
they had not yet heard of Mr. Hunt. The little squadron of canoes
set sail with a favorable breeze, and soon passed Tongue Point, a
long, high, and rocky promontory, covered with trees, and
stretching far into the river. Opposite to this, on the northern
shore, is a deep bay, where the Columbia anchored at the time of
the discovery, and which is still called Gray's Bay, from the
name of her commander.

From hence, the general course of the river for about seventy
miles was nearly southeast; varying in breadth according to its
bays and indentations, and navigable for vessels of three hundred
tons. The shores were in some places high and rocky, with low
marshy islands at their feet, subject to inundation, and covered
with willows, poplars, and other trees that love an alluvial
soil. Sometimes the mountains receded, and gave place to
beautiful plains and noble forests. While the river margin was
richly fringed with trees of deciduous foliage, the rough uplands
were crowned by majestic pines, and firs of gigantic size, some
towering to the height of between two and three hundred feet,
with proportionate circumference. Out of these the Indians
wrought their great canoes and pirogues.

At one part of the river, they passed, on the northern side, an
isolated rock, about one hundred and fifty feet high, rising from
a low marshy soil, and totally disconnected with the adjacent
mountains. This was held in great reverence by the neighboring
Indians, being one of their principal places of sepulture. The
same provident care for the deceased that prevails among the
hunting tribes of the prairies is observable among the piscatory
tribes of the rivers and sea-coast. Among the former, the
favorite horse of the hunter is buried with him in the same
funereal mound, and his bow and arrows are laid by his side, that
he may be perfectly equipped for the "happy hunting grounds" of
the land of spirits. Among the latter, the Indian is wrapped in
his mantle of skins, laid in his canoe, with his paddle, his
fishing spear, and other implements beside him, and placed aloft
on some rock or other eminence overlooking the river, or bay, or
lake, that he has frequented. He is thus fitted out to launch
away upon those placid streams and sunny lakes stocked with all
kinds of fish and waterfowl, which are prepared in the next world
for those who have acquitted themselves as good sons, good
fathers, good husbands, and, above all, good fishermen, during
their mortal sojourn.

The isolated rock in question presented a spectacle of the kind,
numerous dead bodies being deposited in canoes on its summit;
while on poles around were trophies, or, rather, funeral
offerings of trinkets, garments, baskets of roots, and other
articles for the use of the deceased. A reverential feeling
protects these sacred spots from robbery or insult. The friends
of the deceased, especially the women, repair here at sunrise and
sunset for some time after his death, singing his funeral dirge,
and uttering loud wailings and lamentations.

From the number of dead bodies in canoes observed upon this rock
by the first explorers of the river, it received the name of
Mount Coffin, which it continues to bear.

Beyond this rock they passed the mouth of a river on the right
bank of the Columbia, which appeared to take its rise in a
distant mountain covered with snow. The Indian name of this river
was the Cowleskee. Some miles further on they came to the great
Columbian Valley, so called by Lewis and Clarke. It is sixty
miles in width, and extends far to the southeast between parallel
ridges of mountains, which bound it on the east and west. Through
the centre of this valley flowed a large and beautiful stream,
called the Wallamot, which came wandering for several miles,
through a yet unexplored wilderness. The sheltered situation of
this immense valley had an obvious effect upon the climate. It
was a region of great beauty and luxuriance, with lakes and
pools, and green meadows shaded by noble groves. Various tribes
were said to reside in this valley, and along the banks of the

About eight miles above the mouth of the Wallamot the little
squadron arrived at Vancouver's Point, so called in honor of that
celebrated voyager by his lieutenant (Broughton) when he explored
the river. This point is said to present one of the most
beautiful scenes on the Columbia; a lovely meadow, with a silver
sheet of limpid water in the center, enlivened by wild-fowl, a
range of hills crowned by forests, while the prospect is closed
by Mount Hood, a magnificent mountain rising into a lofty peak,
and covered with snow; the ultimate landmark of the first
explorers of the river.

Point Vancouver is about one hundred miles from Astoria. Here the
reflux of the tide ceases to be perceptible. To this place
vessels of two and three hundred tons burden may ascend. The
party under the command of Mr. Stuart had been three or four days
in reaching it, though we have forborne to notice their daily
progress and nightly encampments.

From Point Vancouver the river turned towards the northeast, and
became more contracted and rapid, with occasional islands and
frequent sand-banks. These islands are furnished with a number of
ponds, and at certain seasons abound with swans, geese, brandts,
cranes, gulls, plover, and other wild-fowl. The shores, too, are
low and closely wooded, with such an undergrowth of vines and
rushes as to be almost impassable.

About thirty miles above Point Vancouver the mountains again
approach on both sides of the river, which is bordered by
stupendous precipices, covered with the fir and the white cedar,
and enlivened occasionally by beautiful cascades leaping from a
great height, and sending up wreaths of vapor. One of these
precipices, or cliffs, is curiously worn by time and weather so
as to have the appearance of a ruined fortress, with towers and
battlements, beetling high above the river, while two small
cascades, one hundred and fifty feet in height, pitch down from
the fissures of the rocks.

The turbulence and rapidity of the current continually augmenting
as they advanced, gave the voyagers intimation that they were
approaching the great obstructions of the river, and at length
they arrived at Strawberry Island, so called by Lewis and Clarke,
which lies at the foot of the first rapid. As this part of the
Columbia will be repeatedly mentioned in the course of this work,
being the scene of some of its incidents, we shall give a general
description of it in this place.

The falls or rapids of the Columbia are situated about one
hundred and eighty miles above the mouth of the river. The first
is a perpendicular cascade of twenty feet, after which there is a
swift descent for a mile, between islands of hard black rock, to
another pitch of eight feet divided by two rocks. About two and a
half miles below this the river expands into a wide basin,
seemingly dammed up by a perpendicular ridge of black rock. A
current, however, sets diagonally to the left of this rocky
barrier, where there is a chasm forty-five yards in width.
Through this the whole body of the river roars along, swelling
and whirling and boiling for some distance in the wildest
confusion. Through this tremendous channel the intrepid explorers
of the river, Lewis and Clarke, passed in their boats; the danger
being, not from the rocks, but from the great surges and

At the distance of a mile and a half from the foot of this narrow
channel is a rapid, formed by two rocky islands; and two miles
beyond is a second great fall, over a ledge of rocks twenty feet
high, extending nearly from shore to shore. The river is again
compressed into a channel from fifty to a hundred feet wide, worn
through a rough bed of hard black rock, along which it boils and
roars with great fury for the distance of three miles. This is
called "The Long Narrows."

Here is the great fishing place of the Columbia. In the spring of
the year, when the water is high, the salmon ascend the river in
incredible numbers. As they pass through this narrow strait, the
Indians, standing on the rocks, or on the end of wooden stages
projecting from the banks, scoop them up with small nets
distended on hoops and attached to long handles, and cast them on
the shore.

They are then cured and packed in a peculiar manner. After having
been opened and disemboweled, they are exposed to the sun on
scaffolds erected on the river banks. When sufficiently dry, they
are pounded fine between two stones, pressed into the smallest
compass, and packed in baskets or bales of grass matting, about
two feet long and one in diameter, lined with the cured skin of a
salmon. The top is likewise covered with fish skins, secured by
cords passing through holes in the edge of the basket. Packages
are then made, each containing twelve of these bales, seven at
bottom, five at top, pressed close to each other, with the corded
side upward, wrapped in mats and corded. These are placed in dry
situations, and again covered with matting. Each of these
packages contains from ninety to a hundred pounds of dried fish,
which in this state will keep sound for several years.** (Lewis
and Clarke, vol. ii. p. 32.)

We have given this process at some length, as furnished by the
first explorers, because it marks a practiced ingenuity in
preparing articles of traffic for a market, seldom seen among our
aboriginals. For like reason we would make especial mention of
the village of Wishram, at the head of the Long Narrows, as being
a solitary instance of an aboriginal trading mart, or emporium.
Here the salmon caught in the neighboring rapids were
"warehoused," to await customers. Hither the tribes from the
mouth of the Columbia repaired with the fish of the sea-coast,
the roots, berries, and especially the wappatoo, gathered in the
lower parts of the river, together with goods and trinkets
obtained from the ships which casually visit the coast. Hither
also the tribes from the Rocky Mountains brought down horses,
bear-grass, quamash, and other commodities of the interior. The
merchant fishermen at the falls acted as middlemen or factors,
and passed the objects of traffic, as it were, cross-handed;
trading away part of the wares received from the mountain tribes
to those of the rivers and plains, and vice versa: their packages
of pounded salmon entered largely into the system of barter, and
being carried off in opposite directions, found their way to the
savage hunting camps far in the interior, and to the casual white
traders who touched upon the coast.

We have already noticed certain contrarieties of character
between the Indian tribes, produced by their diet and mode of
life; and nowhere are they more apparent than about the falls of
the Columbia. The Indians of this great fishing mart are
represented by the earliest explorers as sleeker and fatter, but
less hardy and active, than the tribes of the mountains and
prairies, who live by hunting, or of the upper parts of the
river, where fish is scanty, and the inhabitants must eke out
their subsistence by digging roots or chasing the deer. Indeed,
whenever an Indian of the upper country is too lazy to hunt, yet
is fond of good living, he repairs to the falls, to live in
abundance without labor.

"By such worthless dogs as these," says an honest trader in his
journal, which now lies before us, "by such worthless dogs as
these are these noted fishing-places peopled, which, like our
great cities, may with propriety be called the headquarters of
vitiated principles."

The habits of trade and the avidity of gain have their corrupting
effects even in the wilderness, as may be instanced in the
members of this aboriginal emporium; for the same journalist
denounces them as "saucy, impudent rascals, who will steal when
they can, and pillage whenever a weak party falls in their

That he does not belie them will be evidenced hereafter, when we
have occasion again to touch at Wishram and navigate the rapids.
In the present instance the travellers effected the laborious
ascent of this part of the river, with all its various portages,
without molestation, and once more launched away in smooth water
above the high falls.

The two parties continued together, without material impediment,
for three or four hundred miles further up the Columbia; Mr.
Thompson appearing to take great interest in the success of Mr.
Stuart, and pointing out places favorable, as he said, to the
establishment of his contemplated trading post.

Mr. Stuart, who distrusted his sincerity, at length pretended to
adopt his advice, and, taking leave of him, remained as if to
establish himself, while the other proceeded on his course
towards the mountains. No sooner, however, had he fairly departed
than Mr. Stuart again pushed forward, under guidance of the two
Indians, nor did he stop until he had arrived within about one
hundred and forty miles of the Spokan River, which he considered
near enough to keep the rival establishment in check. The place
which he pitched upon for his trading post was a point of land
about three miles in length and two in breadth, formed by the
junction of the Oakinagan with the Columbia. The former is a
river which has its source in a considerable lake about one
hundred and fifty miles west of the point of junction. The two
rivers, about the place of their confluence, are bordered by
immense prairies covered with herbage, but destitute of trees.
The point itself was ornamented with wild flowers of every hue,
in which innumerable humming-birds were "banqueting nearly the
livelong day."

The situation of this point appeared to be well adapted for a
trading post. The climate was salubrious, the soil fertile, the
rivers well stocked with fish, the natives peaceable and
friendly. There were easy communications with the interior by the
upper waters of the Columbia and the lateral stream of the
Oakinagan, while the downward current of the Columbia furnished a
highway to Astoria.

Availing himself, therefore, of the driftwood which had collected
in quantities in the neighboring bends of the river, Mr. Stuart
and his men set to work to erect a house, which in a little while
was sufficiently completed for their residence; and thus was
established the first interior post of the company. We will now
return to notice the progress of affairs at the mouth of the

                          CHAPTER XI.
Alarm at Astoria.- Rumor of Indian Hostilities.- Preparations for
             Defense.- Tragic Fate of the Tonquin.

THE sailing of the Tonquin, and the departure of Mr. David Stuart
and his detachment, had produced a striking effect on affairs at
Astoria. The natives who had swarmed about the place began
immediately to drop off, until at length not an Indian was to be
seen. This, at first, was attributed to the want of peltries with
which to trade; but in a little while the mystery was explained
in a more alarming manner. A conspiracy was said to be on foot
among the neighboring tribes to make a combined attack upon the
white men, now that they were so reduced in number. For this
purpose there had been a gathering of warriors in a neighboring
bay, under pretex of fishing for sturgeon; and fleets of canoes
were expected to join them from the north and South. Even
Comcomly, the one-eyed chief, notwithstanding his professed
friendship for Mr. M'Dougal, was strongly suspected of being
concerned in this general combination.

Alarmed at rumors of this impending danger, the Astorians
suspended their regular labor, and set to work, with all haste,
to throw up temporary works for refuge and defense. In the course
of a few days they surrounded their dwelling-house and magazines
with a picket fence ninety feet square, flanked by two bastions,
on which were mounted four four-pounders. Every day they
exercised themselves in the use of their weapons, so as to
qualify themselves for military duty, and at night ensconced
themselves in their fortress and posted sentinels, to guard
against surprise. In this way they hoped, even in case of attack,
to be able to hold out until the arrival of the party to be
conducted by Mr. Hunt across the Rocky Mountains, or until the
return of the Tonquin. The latter dependence, however, was doomed
soon to be destroyed. Early in August, a wandering band of
savages from the Strait of Juan de Fuca made their appearance at
the mouth of the Columbia, where they came to fish for sturgeon.
They brought disastrous accounts of the Tonquin, which were at
first treated as fables, but which were too sadly confirmed by a
different tribe that arrived a few days subsequently. We shall
relate the circumstances of this melancholy affair as correctly
as the casual discrepancies in the statements that have reached
us will permit.

We have already stated that the Tonquin set sail from the mouth
of the river on the fifth of June. The whole number of persons on
board amounted to twenty-three. In one of the outer bays they
picked up, from a fishing canoe, an Indian named Lamazee, who had
already made two voyages along the coast and knew something of
the language of the various tribes. He agreed to accompany them
as interpreter.

Steering to the north, Captain Thorn arrived in a few days at
Vancouver's Island, and anchored in the harbor of Neweetee, very
much against the advice of his Indian interpreter, who warned him
against the perfidious character of the natives of this part of
the coast. Numbers of canoes soon came off, bringing sea-otter
skins to sell. It was too late in the day to commence a traffic,
but Mr. M'Kay, accompanied by a few of the men, went on shore to
a large village to visit Wicananish, the chief of the surrounding
territory, six of the natives remaining on board as hostages. He
was received with great professions of friendship, entertained
hospitably, and a couch of sea-otter skins prepared for him in
the dwelling of the chieftain, where he was prevailed upon to
pass the night.

In the morning, before Mr. M'Kay had returned to the ship, great
numbers of the natives came off in their canoes to trade, headed
by two sons of Wicananish. As they brought abundance of sea-otter
skins, and there was every appearance of a brisk trade, Captain
Thorn did not wait for the return of Mr. M'Kay, but spread his
wares upon the deck, making a tempting display of blankets,
cloths, knives, beads, and fish-hooks, expecting a prompt and
profitable sale. The Indians, however, were not so eager and
simple as he had supposed, having learned the art of bargaining
and the value of merchandise from the casual traders along the
coast. They were guided, too, by a shrewd old chief named
Nookamis, who had grown gray in traffic with New England
skippers, and prided himself upon his acuteness. His opinion
seemed to regulate the market. When Captain Thorn made what he
considered a liberal offer for an otter-skin, the wily old Indian
treated it with scorn, and asked more than double. His comrades
all took their cue from him, and not an otter-skin was to be had
at a reasonable rate.

The old fellow, however, overshot his mark, and mistook the
character of the man he was treating with. Thorn was a plain,
straightforward sailor, who never had two minds nor two prices in
his dealings, was deficient in patience and pliancy, and totally
wanting in the chicanery of traffic. He had a vast deal of stern
but honest pride in his nature, and, moreover, held the whole
savage race in sovereign contempt. Abandoning all further
attempts, therefore, to bargain with his shuffling customers, he
thrust his hands into his pockets, and paced up and down the deck
in sullen silence. The cunning old Indian followed him to and
fro, holding out a sea-otter skin to him at every turn, and
pestering him to trade. Finding other means unavailing, he
suddenly changed his tone, and began to jeer and banter him upon
the mean prices he offered. This was too much for the patience of
the captain, who was never remarkable for relishing a joke,
especially when at his own expense. Turning suddenly upon his
persecutor, he snatched the proffered otter-skin from his hands,
rubbed it in his face, and dismissed him over the side of the
ship with no very complimentary application to accelerate his
exit. He then kicked the peltries to the right and left about
the deck, and broke up the market in the most ignominious manner.
Old Nookamis made for shore in a furious passion, in which he was
joined by Shewish, one of the sons of Wicananish, who went off
breathing vengeance, and the ship was soon abandoned by the

When Mr. M'Kay returned on board, the interpreter related what
had passed, and begged him to prevail upon the captain to make
sail, as from his knowledge of the temper and pride of the people
of the place, he was sure they would resent the indignity offered
to one of their chiefs. Mr. M'Kay, who himself possessed some
experience of Indian character, went to the captain, who was
still pacing the deck in moody humor, represented the danger to
which his hasty act had exposed the vessel, and urged him to
weigh anchor. The captain made light of his counsels, and pointed
to his cannon and fire-arms as sufficient safeguard against naked
savages. Further remonstrances only provoked taunting replies and
sharp altercations. The day passed away without any signs of
hostility, and at night the captain retired as usual to his
cabin, taking no more than the usual precautions.

On the following morning, at daybreak, while the captain and Mr.
M'Kay were yet asleep, a canoe came alongside in which were
twenty Indians, commanded by young Shewish. They were unarmed,
their aspect and demeanor friendly, and they held up otter-skins,
and made signs indicative of a wish to trade. The caution
enjoined by Mr. Astor, in respect to the admission of Indians on
board of the ship, had been neglected for some time past, and the
officer of the watch, perceiving those in the canoe to be without
weapons, and having received no orders to the contrary, readily
permitted them to mount the deck. Another canoe soon succeeded,
the crew of which was likewise admitted. In a little while other
canoes came off, and Indians were soon clambering into the vessel
on all sides.

The officer of the watch now felt alarmed, and called to Captain
Thorn and Mr. M'Kay. By the time they came on deck, it was
thronged with Indians. The interpreter noticed to Mr. M'Kay that
many of the natives wore short mantles of skins, and intimated a
suspicion that they were secretly armed. Mr. M'Kay urged the
captain to clear the ship and get under way. He again made light
of the advice; but the augmented swarm of canoes about the ship,
and the numbers still putting off from shore, at length awakened
his distrust, and he ordered some of the crew to weigh anchor,
while some were sent aloft to make sail.

The Indians now offered to trade with the captain on his own
terms, prompted, apparently, by the approaching departure of the
ship. Accordingly, a hurried trade was commenced. The main
articles sought by the savages in barter were knives; as fast as
some were supplied they moved off, and others succeeded. By
degrees they were thus distributed about the deck, and all with

The anchor was now nearly up, the sails were loose, and the
captain, in a loud and peremptory tone, ordered the ship to be
cleared. In an instant, a signal yell was given; it was echoed on
every side, knives and war-clubs were brandished in every
direction, and the savages rushed upon their marked victims.

The first that fell was Mr. Lewis, the ship's clerk. He was
leaning, with folded arms, over a bale of blankets, engaged in
bargaining, when he received a deadly stab in the back, and fell
down the companion-way.

Mr. M'Kay, who was seated on the taffrail, sprang on his feet,
but was instantly knocked down with a war-club and flung
backwards into the sea, where he was despatched by the women in
the canoes.

In the meantime Captain Thorn made desperate fight against
fearful odds. He was a powerful as well as a resolute man, but he
had come upon deck without weapons. Shewish, the young chief
singled him out as his peculiar prey, and rushed upon him at the
first outbreak. The captain had barely time to draw a clasp-knife
with one blow of which he laid the young savage dead at his feet.
Several of the stoutest followers of Shewish now set upon him. He
defended himself vigorously, dealing crippling blows to right and
left, and strewing the quarter-deck with the slain and wounded.
His object was to fight his way to the cabin, where there were
fire-arms; but he was hemmed in with foes, covered with wounds,
and faint with loss of blood. For an instant he leaned upon the
tiller wheel, when a blow from behind, with a war-club, felled
him to the deck, where he was despatched with knives and thrown

While this was transacting upon the quarter-deck, a chance-medley
fight was going on throughout the ship. The crew fought
desperately with knives, handspikes, and whatever weapon they
could seize upon in the moment of surprise. They were soon,
however, overpowered by numbers, and mercilessly butchered.

As to the seven who had been sent aloft to make sail, they
contemplated with horror the carnage that was going on below.
Being destitute of weapons, they let themselves down by the
running rigging, in hopes of getting between decks. One fell in
the attempt, and was instantly despatched; another received a
death-blow in the back as he was descending; a third, Stephen
Weekes, the armorer, was mortally wounded as he was getting down
the hatchway.

The remaining four made good their retreat into the cabin, where
they found Mr. Lewis, still alive, though mortally wounded.
Barricading the cabin door, they broke holes through the
companion-way, and, with the muskets and ammunition which were at
hand, opened a brisk fire that soon cleared the deck.

Thus far the Indian interpreter, from whom these particulars are
derived, had been an eye-witness to the deadly conflict. He had
taken no part in it, and had been spared by the natives as being
of their race. In the confusion of the moment he took refuge with
the rest, in the canoes. The survivors of the crew now sallied
forth, and discharged some of the deck-guns, which did great
execution among the canoes, and drove all the savages to shore.

For the remainder of the day no one ventured to put off to the
ship, deterred by the effects of the fire-arms. The night passed
away without any further attempts on the part of the natives.
When the day dawned, the Tonquin still lay at anchor in the bay,
her sails all loose and flapping in the wind, and no one
apparently on board of her. After a time, some of the canoes
ventured forth to reconnoitre, taking with them the interpreter.

They paddled about her, keeping cautiously at a distance, but
growing more and more emboldened at seeing her quiet and
lifeless. One man at length made his appearance on the deck, and
was recognized by the interpreter as Mr. Lewis. He made friendly
signs, and invited them on board. It was long before they
ventured to comply. Those who mounted the deck met with no
opposition; no one was to be seen on board; for Mr. Lewis, after
inviting them, had disappeared. Other canoes now pressed forward
to board the prize; the decks were soon crowded, and the sides
covered with clambering savages, all intent on plunder. In the
midst of their eagerness and exultation, the ship blew up with a
tremendous explosion. Arms, legs, and mutilated bodies were blown
into the air, and dreadful havoc was made in the surrounding
canoes. The interpreter was in the main-chains at the time of the
explosion, and was thrown unhurt into the water, where he
succeeded in getting into one of the canoes. According to his
statement, the bay presented an awful spectacle after the
catastrophe. The ship had disappeared, but the bay was covered
with fragments of the wreck, with shattered canoes, and Indians
swimming for their lives, or struggling in the agonies of death;
while those who had escaped the danger remained aghast and
stupefied, or made with frantic panic for the shore. Upwards of a
hundred savages were destroyed by the explosion, many more were
shockingly mutilated, and for days afterwards the limbs and
bodies of the slain were thrown upon the beach.

The inhabitants of Neweetee were overwhelmed with consternation
at this astounding calamity, which had burst upon them in the
very moment of triumph. The warriors sat mute and mournful, while
the women filled the air with loud lamentations. Their weeping
and walling, however, was suddenly changed into yells of fury at
the sight of four unfortunate white men, brought captive into the
village. They had been driven on shore in one of the ship's
boats, and taken at some distance along the coast.

The interpreter was permitted to converse with them. They proved
to be the four brave fellows who had made such desperate defense
from the cabin. The interpreter gathered from them some of the
particulars already related. They told him further, that after
they had beaten off the enemy and cleared the ship, Lewis advised
that they should slip the cable and endeavor to get to sea. They
declined to take his advice, alleging that the wind set too
strongly into the bay and would drive them on shore. They
resolved, as soon as it was dark, to put off quietly in the
ship's boat, which they would be able to do unperceived, and to
coast along back to Astoria. They put their resolution into
effect; but Lewis refused to accompany them, being disabled by
his wound, hopeless of escape, and determined on a terrible
revenge. On the voyage out, he had repeatedly expressed a
presentiment that he should die by his own hands; thinking it
highly probable that he should be engaged in some contest with
the natives, and being resolved, in case of extremity, to commit
suicide rather than be made a prisoner. He now declared his
intention to remain on board of the ship until daylight, to decoy
as many of the savages on board as possible, then to set fire to
the powder magazine, and terminate his life by a signal of
vengeance. How well he succeeded has been shown. His companions
bade him a melancholy adieu, and set off on their precarious
expedition. They strove with might and main to get out of the
bay, but found it impossible to weather a point of land, and were
at length compelled to take shelter in a small cove, where they
hoped to remain concealed until the wind should be more
favorable. Exhausted by fatigue and watching, they fell into a
sound sleep, and in that state were surprised by the savages.
Better had it been for those unfortunate men had they remained
with Lewis, and shared his heroic death: as it was, they perished
in a more painful and protracted manner, being sacrificed by the
natives to the manes of their friends with all the lingering
tortures of savage cruelty. Some time after their death, the
interpreter, who had remained a kind of prisoner at large,
effected his escape, and brought the tragical tidings to Astoria.

Such is the melancholy story of the Tonquin, and such was the
fate of her brave but headstrong commander, and her adventurous
crew. It is a catastrophe that shows the importance, in all
enterprises of moment, to keep in mind the general instructions
of the sagacious heads which devise them. Mr. Astor was well
aware of the perils to which ships were exposed on this coast
from quarrels with the natives, and from perfidious attempts of
the latter to surprise and capture them in unguarded moments. He
had repeatedly enjoined it upon Captain Thorn, in conversation,
and at parting, in his letter of instructions, to be courteous
and kind in his dealings with the savages, but by no means to
confide in their apparent friendship, nor to admit more than a
few on board of his ship at a time.

Had the deportment of Captain Thorn been properly regulated, the
insult so wounding to savage pride would never have been given.
Had he enforced the rule to admit but a few at a time, the
savages would not have been able to get the mastery. He was too
irritable, however, to practice the necessary self-command, and,
having been nurtured in a proud contempt of danger, thought it
beneath him to manifest any fear of a crew of unarmed savages.

With all his faults and foibles, we cannot but speak of him with
esteem, and deplore his untimely fate; for we remember him well
in early life, as a companion in pleasant scenes and joyous
hours. When on shore, among his friends, he was a frank, manly,
sound-hearted sailor. On board ship he evidently assumed the
hardness of deportment and sternness of demeanor which many deem
essential to naval service. Throughout the whole of the
expedition, however, he showed himself loyal, single-minded,
straightforward, and fearless; and if the fate of his vessel may
be charged to his harshness and imprudence, we should recollect
that he paid for his error with his life.

The loss of the Tonquin was a grievous blow to the infant
establishment of Astoria, and one that threatened to bring after
it a train of disasters. The intelligence of it did not reach Mr.
Astor until many months afterwards. He felt it in all its force,
and was aware that it must cripple, if not entirely defeat, the
great scheme of his ambition. In his letters, written at the
time, he speaks of it as "a calamity, the length of which he
could not foresee." He indulged, however, in no weak and vain
lamentation, but sought to devise a prompt and efficient remedy.
The very same evening he appeared at the theatre with his usual
serenity of countenance. A friend, who knew the disastrous
intelligence he had received, expressed his astonishment that he
could have calmness of spirit sufficient for such a scene of
light amusement. "What would you have me do?" was his
characteristic reply; "would you have me stay at home and weep
for what I cannot help?"

                          CHAPTER XII.
Gloom at Astoria- An Ingenious Stratagem.- The Small-Pox Chief. -
  Launching of the Dolly.-An Arrival. - A Canadian Trapper.-A
   Freeman of the Forest- An Iroquois Hunter.- Winter on the
               Columbia.-Festivities of New Year.

THE tidings of the loss of the Tonquin, and the massacre of her
crew, struck dismay into the hearts of the Astorians. They found
themselves a mere handful of men, on a savage coast, surrounded
by hostile tribes, who would doubtless be incited and encouraged
to deeds of violence by the late fearful catastrophe. In this
juncture Mr. M'Dougal, we are told, had recourse to a stratagem
by which to avail himself of the ignorance and credulity of the
savages, and which certainly does credit to his ingenuity.

The natives of the coast, and, indeed, of all the regions west of
the mountains, had an extreme dread of the small-pox; that
terrific scourge having, a few years previously, appeared among
them, and almost swept off entire tribes. Its origin and nature
were wrapped in mystery, and they conceived it an evil inflicted
upon them by the Great Spirit, or brought among them by the white
men. The last idea was seized upon by Mr. M'Dougal. He assembled
several of the chieftains whom he believed to be in the
conspiracy. When they were all seated around, he informed them
that he had heard of the treachery of some of their northern
brethren towards the Tonquin, and was determined on vengeance.
"The white men among you," said he, "are few in number, it is
true, but they are mighty in medicine. See here," continued he,
drawing forth a small bottle and holding it before their eyes,
"in this bottle I hold the small-pox, safely corked up; I have
but to draw the cork, and let loose the pestilence, to sweep man,
woman, and child from the face of the earth."

The chiefs were struck with horror and alarm. They implored him
not to uncork the bottle, since they and all their people were
firm friends of the white men, and would always remain so; but,
should the small-pox be once let out, it would run like wildfire
throughout the country, sweeping off the good as well as the bad;
and surely he would not be so unjust as to punish his friends for
crimes committed by his enemies.

Mr. M'Dougal pretended to be convinced by their reasoning, and
assured them that, so long as the white people should be
unmolested, and the conduct of their Indian neighbors friendly
and hospitable, the phial of wrath should remain sealed up; but,
on the least hostility, the fatal cork should be drawn.

From this time, it is added, he was much dreaded by the natives,
as one who held their fate in his hands, and was called, by way
of preeminence, "the Great Small-pox Chief."

All this while, the labors at the infant settlement went on with
unremitting assiduity, and, by the 26th of September, a
commodious mansion, spacious enough to accommodate all hands, was
completed. It was built of stone and clay, there being no
calcarcous stone in the neighborhood from which lime for mortar
could be procured. The schooner was also finished, and launched,
with the accustomed ceremony, on the second of October, and took
her station below the fort. She was named the Dolly, and was the
first American vessel launched on this coast.

On the 5th of October, in the evening, the little community at
Astoria was enlivened by the unexpected arrival of a detachment
from Mr. David Stuart's post on the Oakinagan. It consisted of
two of the clerks and two of the privates. They brought favorable
accounts of the new establishment, but reported that, as Mr.
Stuart was apprehensive there might be a difficulty of subsisting
his whole party throughout the winter, he had sent one half back
to Astoria, retaining with him only Ross, Montigny, and two
others. Such is the hardihood of the Indian trader. In the heart
of a savage and unknown country, seven hundred miles from the
main body of his fellow-adventurers, Stuart had dismissed half of
his little number, and was prepared with the residue to brave all
the perils of the wilderness, and the rigors of a long and dreary

With the return party came a Canadian creole named Regis Brugiere
and an Iroquois hunter, with his wife and two children. As these
two personages belong to certain classes which have derived their
peculiar characteristics from the fur trade, we deem some few
particulars concerning them pertinent to the nature of this work.

Brugiere was of a class of beaver trappers and hunters
technically called "Freemen," in the language of the traders.
They are generally Canadians by birth, and of French descent, who
have been employed for a term of years by some fur company, but,
their term being expired, continue to hunt and trap on their own
account, trading with the company like the Indians. Hence they
derive their appellation of Freemen, to distinguish them from the
trappers who are bound for a number of years, and receive wages,
or hunt on shares.

Having passed their early youth in the wilderness, separated
almost entirely from civilized man, and in frequent intercourse
with the Indians, they relapse, with a facility common to human
nature, into the habitudes of savage life. Though no longer bound
by engagements to continue in the interior, they have become so
accustomed to the freedom of the forest and the prairie, that
they look back with repugnance upon the restraints of
civilization. Most of them intermarry with the natives, and, like
the latter, have often a plurality of wives. Wanderers of the
wilderness, according to the vicissitudes of the seasons, the
migrations of animals, and the plenty or scarcity of game, they
lead a precarious and unsettled existence; exposed to sun and
storm, and all kinds of hardships, until they resemble Indians in
complexion as well as in tastes and habits. From time to time,
they bring the peltries they have collected to the trading houses
of the company in whose employ they have been brought up. Here
they traffic them away for such articles of merchandise or
ammunition as they may stand in need of. At the time when
Montreal was the great emporium of the fur trader, one of these
freemen of the wilderness would suddenly return, after an absence
of many years, among his old friends and comrades. He would be
greeted as one risen from the dead; and with the greater welcome,
as he returned flush of money. A short time, however, spent in
revelry, would be sufficient to drain his purse and sate him with
civilized life, and he would return with new relish to the
unshackled freedom of the forest.

Numbers of men of this class were scattered throughout the
northwest territories. Some of them retained a little of the
thrift and forethought of the civilized man, and became wealthy
among their improvident neighbors; their wealth being chiefly
displayed in large bands of horses, which covered the prairies in
the vicinity of their abodes. Most of them, however, were prone
to assimilate to the red man in their heedlessness of the future.

Such was Regis Brugiere, a freeman and rover of the wilderness.
Having been brought up in the service of the Northwest Company,
he had followed in the train of one of its expeditions across the
Rocky Mountains, and undertaken to trap for the trading post
established on the Spokan River. In the course of his hunting
excursions he had either accidentally, or designedly, found his
way to the post of Mr. Stuart, and had been prevailed upon to
ascend the Columbia, and "try his luck" at Astoria.

Ignace Shonowane, the Iroquois hunter, was a specimen of a
different class. He was one of those aboriginals of Canada who
had partially conformed to the habits of civilization and the
doctrines of Christianity, under the influence of the French
colonists and the Catholic priests; who seem generally to have
been more successful in conciliating, taming, and converting the
savages, than their English and Protestant rivals. These half-
civilized Indians retained some of the good, and many of the evil
qualities of their original stock. They were first-rate hunters,
and dexterous in the management of the canoe. They could undergo
great privations, and were admirable for the service of the
rivers, lakes, and forests, provided they could be kept sober,
and in proper subordination; but once inflamed with liquor, to
which they were madly addicted, all the dormant passions inherent
in their nature were prone to break forth, and to hurry them into
the most vindictive and bloody acts of violence.

Though they generally professed the Roman Catholic religion, yet
it was mixed, occasionally, with some of their ancient
superstitions; and they retained much of the Indian belief in
charms and omens. Numbers of these men were employed by the
Northwest Company as trappers, hunters, and canoe men, but on
lower terms than were allowed to white men. Ignace Shonowane had,
in this way, followed the enterprise of the company to the banks
of the Spokan, being, probably, one of the first of his tribe
that had traversed the Rocky Mountains.

Such were some of the motley populace of the wilderness, incident
to the fur trade, who were gradually attracted to the new
settlement of Astoria.

The month of October now began to give indications of approaching
winter. Hitherto, the colonists had been well pleased with the
climate. The summer had been temperate, the mercury never rising
above eighty degrees. Westerly winds had prevailed during the
spring and the early part of the summer, and been succeeded by
fresh breezes from the northwest. In the month of October the
southerly winds set in, bringing with them frequent rain.

The Indians now began to quit the borders of the ocean, and to
retire to their winter quarters in the sheltered bosom of the
forests, or along the small rivers and brooks. The rainy season,
which commences in October, continues, with little intermission,
until April; and though the winters are generally mild, the
mercury seldom sinking below the freezing point, yet the tempests
of wind and rain are terrible. The sun is sometimes obscured for
weeks, the brooks swell into roaring torrents, and the country is
threatened with a deluge.

The departure of the Indians to their winter quarters gradually
rendered provisions scanty, and obliged the colonists to send out
foraging expeditions in the Dolly. Still the little handful of
adventurers kept up their spirits in their lonely fort at
Astoria, looking forward to the time when they should be animated
and reinforced by the party under Mr. Hunt, that was to come to
them across the Rocky Mountains.

The year gradually wore way. The rain, which had poured down
almost incessantly since the first of October, cleared up towards
the evening of the 31st of December, and the morning of the first
of January ushered in a day of sunshine.

The hereditary French holiday spirit of the French voyageurs is
hardly to be depressed by any adversities; and they can manage to
get up a fete in the most squalid situations, and under the most
untoward circumstances. An extra allowance of rum, and a little
flour to make cakes and puddings, constitute a "regale;" and they
forget all their toils and troubles in the song and dance.

On the present occasion, the partners endeavored to celebrate the
new year with some effect. At sunrise the drums beat to arms, the
colors were hoisted, with three rounds of small arms and three
discharges of cannon. The day was devoted to games of agility and
strength, and other amusements; and grog was temperately
distributed, together with bread, butter, and cheese. The best
dinner their circumstances could afford was served up at midday.
At sunset the colors were lowered, with another discharge of
artillery. The night was spent in dancing; and, though there was
a lack of female partners to excite their gallantry, the
voyageurs kept up the ball with true French spirit, until three
o'clock in the morning. So passed the new year festival of 1812
at the infant colony of Astoria.

                         CHAPTER XIII.
  Expedition by Land.- Wilson P. Hunt.- His Character.- Donald
  M'Kenzie.- Recruiting Service Among the Voyageurs. - A Bark
Canoe.- Chapel of St. Anne.-Votive Offerings.- Pious Carousals, -
   A Ragged Regiment.-Mackinaw.- Picture of a Trading Post.-
Frolicking Voyageurs.-Swells and Swaggerers.- Indian Coxcombs.-A
Man of the North.-Jockeyship of Voyageurs- Inefficacy of Gold.-
Weight of a Feather- Mr. Ramsay Crooks- His Character.- His Risks
Among the Indians.-His Warning Concerning Sioux and Blackfeet.-
   Embarkation of Recruits.- Parting Scenes Between Brothers,
        Cousins, Wives, Sweethearts, and Pot Companions.

WE have followed up the fortunes of the maritime part of this
enterprise to the shores of the Pacific, and have conducted the
affairs of the embryo establishment to the opening of the new
year; let us now turn back to the adventurous band to whom was
intrusted the land expedition, and who were to make their way to
the mouth of the Columbia, up vast rivers, across trackless
plains, and over the rugged barriers of the Rocky Mountains.

The conduct of this expedition, as has been already mentioned,
was assigned to Mr. Wilson Price Hunt, of Trenton, New Jersey,
one of the partners of the company, who was ultimately to be at
the head of the establishment at the mouth of the Columbia. He is
represented as a man scrupulously upright and faithful his
dealings, amicable in his disposition, and of most accommodating
manners; and his whole conduct will be found in unison with such
a character. He was not practically experienced in the Indian
trade; that is to say, he had never made any expeditions of
traffic into the heart of the wilderness, but he had been engaged
in commerce at St. Louis, then a frontier settlement on the
Mississippi, where the chief branch of his business had consisted
in furnishing Indian traders with goods and equipments. In this
way, he had acquired much knowledge of the trade at second hand,
and of the various tribes, and the interior country over which it

Another of the partners, Mr. Donald M'Kenzie, was associated with
Mr. Hunt in the expedition, and excelled on those points in which
the other was deficient; for he had been ten years in the
interior, in the service of the Northwest Company, and valued
himself on his knowledge of "woodcraft," and the strategy of
Indian trade and Indian warfare. He had a frame seasoned to toils
and hardships; a spirit not to be intimidated, and was reputed to
be a "remarkable shot;" which of itself was sufficient to give
him renown upon the frontier.

Mr. Hunt and his coadjutor repaired, about the latter part of
July, 1810, to Montreal, the ancient emporium of the fur trade
where everything requisite for the expedition could be procured.
One of the first objects was to recruit a complement of Canadian
voyageurs from the disbanded herd usually to be found loitering
about the place. A degree of jockeyship, however, is required for
this service, for a Canadian voyageur is as full of latent tricks
and vice as a horse; and when he makes the greatest external
promise, is prone to prove the greatest "take in." Besides, the
Northwest Company, who maintained a long established control at
Montreal, and knew the qualities of every voyageur, secretly
interdicted the prime hands from engaging in this new service; so
that, although liberal terms were offered, few presented
themselves but such as were not worth having.

From these Mr. Hunt engaged a number sufficient, as he supposed,
for present purposes; and, having laid in a supply of ammunition,
provisions, and Indian goods, embarked all on board one of those
great canoes at that time universally used by the fur traders for
navigating the intricate and often-obstructed rivers. The canoe
was between thirty and forty feet long, and several feet in
width; constructed of birch bark, sewed with fibres of the roots
of the spruce tree, and daubed with resin of the pine, instead of
tar. The cargo was made up in packages, weighing from ninety to
one hundred pounds each, for the facility of loading and
unloading, and of transportation at portages. The canoe itself,
though capable of sustaining a freight of upwards of four tons,
could readily be carried on men's shoulders. Canoes of this size
are generally managed by eight or ten men, two of whom are picked
veterans, who receive double wages, and are stationed, one at the
bow and the other at the stern, to keep a look-out and to steer.
They are termed the foreman and the steersman. The rest, who ply
the paddles, are called middle men. When there is a favorable
breeze, the canoe is occasionally navigated with a sail.

The expedition took its regular departure, as usual, from St.
Anne's, near the extremity of the island of Montreal, the great
starting-place of the traders to the interior. Here stood the
ancient chapel of St. Anne, the patroness of the Canadian
voyageurs; where they made confession, and offered up their vows,
previous to departing on any hazardous expedition. The shrine of
the saint was decorated with relics and votive offerings hung up
by these superstitious beings, either to propitiate her favor, or
in gratitude for some signal deliverance in the wilderness. It
was the custom, too, of these devout vagabonds, after leaving the
chapel, to have a grand carouse, in honor of the saint and for
the prosperity of the voyage. In this part of their devotions,
the crew of Mr. Hunt proved themselves by no means deficient.
Indeed, he soon discovered that his recruits, enlisted at
Montreal, were fit to vie with the ragged regiment of Falstaff.
Some were able-bodied, but inexpert; others were expert, but
lazy; while a third class were expert and willing, but totally
worn out, being broken-down veterans, incapable of toil.

With this inefficient crew he made his way up the Ottawa River,
and by the ancient route of the fur traders, along a succession
of small lakes and rivers, to Michilimackinac. Their progress was
slow and tedious. Mr. Hunt was not accustomed to  the management
of "voyageurs," and he had a crew admirably disposed to play the
old soldier, and balk their work; and ever ready to come to a
halt, land, make a fire, put on the great pot, and smoke, and
gossip, and sing by the hour.

It was not until the 22d of July that they arrived at Mackinaw,
situated on the island of the same name, at the confluence of -

lakes Huron and Michigan. This  famous old French trading post
continued to be a rallying point for a multifarious and motley
population. The inhabitants were amphibious in their habits, most
of them being, or having been voyageurs or canoe men. It was the
great place of arrival and departure of the southwest fur trade.
Here the Mackinaw Company had established its principal post,
from whence it communicated with the interior and with Montreal.
Hence its various traders and trappers set out for their
respective destinations about Lake Superior and its tributary
waters, or for the Mississippi, the Arkansas, the Missouri, and
the other regions of the west. Here, after the absence of a year,
or more, they returned with their peltries, and settled their
accounts; the furs rendered in by them being transmitted in
canoes from hence to Montreal. Mackinaw was, therefore, for a
great part of the year, very scantily peopled; but at certain
seasons the traders arrived from all points, with their crews of
voyageurs, and the place swarmed like a hive.

Mackinaw, at that time, was a mere village, stretching along a
small bay, with a fine broad beach in front of its principal row
of houses, and dominated by the old fort, which crowned an
impending height. The beach was a kind of public promenade where
were displayed all the vagaries of a seaport on the arrival of a
fleet from a long cruise. Here voyageurs frolicked away their
wages, fiddling and dancing in the booths and cabins, buying all
kinds of knick-knacks, dressing themselves out finely, and
parading up and down, like arrant braggarts and coxcombs.
Sometimes they met with rival coxcombs in the young Indians from
the opposite shore, who would appear on the beach painted and
decorated in fantastic style, and would saunter up and down, to
be gazed at and admired, perfectly satisfied that they eclipsed
their pale-faccd competitors.

Now and then a chance party of "Northwesters" appeared at
Mackinaw from the rendezvous at Fort William. These held
themselves up as the chivalry of the fur trade. They were men of
iron; proof against cold weather, hard fare, and perils of all
kinds. Some would wear the Northwest button, and a formidable
dirk, and assume something of a military air. They generally wore
feathers in their hats, and affected the "brave." "Je suis un
homme du nord!"-"I am a man of the north,"-one of these swelling
fellows would exclaim, sticking his arms akimbo and ruffling by
the Southwesters, whom he regarded with great contempt, as men
softened by mild climates and the luxurious fare of bread and
bacon, and whom he stigmatized with the inglorious name of pork-
eaters. The superiority assumed by these vainglorious swaggerers
was, in general, tacitly admitted. Indeed, some of them had
acquired great notoriety for deeds of hardihood and courage; for
the fur trade had Its heroes, whose names resounded throughout
the wilderness.

Such was Mackinaw at the time of which we are treating. It now,
doubtless, presents a totally different aspect. The fur companies
no longer assemble there; the navigation of the lake is carried
on by steamboats and various shipping, and the race of traders,
and trappers, and voyageurs, and Indian dandies, have vapored out
their brief hour and disappeared. Such changes does the lapse of
a handful of years make in this ever-changing country.

At this place Mr. Hunt remained for some time, to complete his
assortment of Indian goods, and to increase his number of
voyageurs, as well as to engage some of a more efficient
character than those enlisted at Montreal.

And now commenced another game of Jockeyship. There were able and
efficient men in abundance at Mackinaw, but for several days not
one presented himself. If offers were made to any, they were
listened to with a shake of the head. Should any one seem
inclined to enlist, there were officious idlers and busybodies,
of that class who are ever ready to dissuade others from any
enterprise in which they themselves have no concern. These would
pull him by the sleeve, take him on one side, and murmur in his
ear, or would suggest difficulties outright.

it was objected that the expedition would have to navigate
unknown rivers, and pass through howling wildernesses infested by
savage tribes, who had already cut off the unfortunate voyageurs
that had ventured among them; that it was to climb the Rocky
Mountains and descend into desolate and famished regions, where
the traveller was often obliged to subsist on grasshoppers and
crickets, or to kill his own horse for food.

At length one man was hardy enough to engage, and he was used
like a "stool-pigeon," to decoy others; but several days elapsed
before any more could be prevailed upon to join him. A few then
came to terms. It was desirable to engage them for five years,
but some refused to engage for more than three. Then they must
have part of their pay in advance, which was readily granted.
When they had pocketed the amount, and squandered it in regales
or in outfits, they began to talk of pecuniary obligations at
Mackinaw, which must be discharged before they would be free to
depart; or engagements with other persons, which were only to be
canceled by a "reasonable consideration." It was in vain to argue
or remonstrate. The money advanced had already been sacked and
spent, and must be lost and the recruits left behind, unless they
could be freed from their debts and engagements. Accordingly, a
fine was paid for one; a judgment for another; a tavern bill for
a third, and almost all had to be bought off from some prior
engagement, either real or pretended.

Mr. Hunt groaned in spirit at the incessant and unreasonable
demands of these worthies upon his purse; yet with all this
outlay of funds, the number recruited was but scanty, and many of
the most desirable still held themselves aloof, and were not to
be caught by a golden bait. With these he tried another
temptation. Among the recruits who had enlisted he distributed
feathers and ostrich plumes. These they put in their hats, and
thus figured about Mackinaw, assuming airs of vast importance, as
"voyageurs" in a new company, that was to eclipse the Northwest.
The effect was complete. A French Canadian is too vain and
mercurial a being to withstand the finery and ostentation of the
feather. Numbers immediately pressed into the service. One must
have an ostrich plume; another, a white feather with a red end; a
third, a bunch of cock's tails. Thus all paraded about, in
vainglorious style, more delighted with the feathers in their
hats than with the money in their pockets; and considering
themselves fully equal to the boastful "men of the north."

While thus recruiting the number of rank and file, Mr. Hunt was
joined by a person whom he had invited, by letter, to engage as a
partner in the expedition. This was Mr. Ramsay Crooks, a young
man, a native of Scotland, who had served under the Northwest
Company, and been engaged in trading expeditions upon his
individual account, among the tribes of the Missouri. Mr. Hunt
knew him personally, and had conceived a high and merited opinion
of his judgment, enterprise, and integrity; he was rejoiced,
therefore, when the latter consented to accompany him. Mr.
Crooks, however, drew from experience a picture of the dangers to
which they would be subjected, and urged the importance of going
with a considerable force. In ascending the upper Missouri they
would have to pass through the country of the Sioux Indians, who
had manifested repeated hostility to the white traders, and
rendered their expeditions extremely perilous; firing upon them
from the river banks as they passed beneath in their boats, and
attacking them in their encampments. Mr. Crooks himself, when
voyaging in company with another trader of the name of M'Lellan,
had been interrupted by these marauders, and had considered
himself fortunate in escaping down the river without loss of life
or property, but with a total abandonment of his trading voyage.

Should they be fortunate enough to pass through the country of
the Sioux without molestation, they would have another tribe
still more savage and warlike beyond, and deadly foes of white

These were the Blackfeet Indians, who ranged over a wide extent
of country which they would have to traverse. Under all these
circumstances, it was thought advisable to augment the party
considerably. It already exceeded the number of thirty, to which
it had originally been limited; but it was determined, on
arriving at St. Louis, to increase it to the number of sixty.

These matters being arranged, they prepared to embark; but the
embarkation of a crew of Canadian voyageurs, on a distant
expedition, is not so easy a matter as might be imagined;
especially of such a set of vainglorious fellows with money in
both pockets, and cocks' tails in their hats. Like sailors, the
Canadian voyageurs generally preface a long cruise with a
carouse. They have their cronies, their brothers, their cousins,
their wives, their sweethearts, all to be entertained at their
expense. They feast, they fiddle, they drink, they sing, they
dance, they frolic and fight, until they are all as mad as so
many drunken Indians. The publicans are all obedience to their
commands, never hesitating to let them run up scores without
limit, knowing that, when their own money is expended, the purses
of their employers must answer for the bill, or the voyage must
be delayed. Neither was it possible, at that time, to remedy the
matter at Mackinaw. In that amphibious community there was always
a propensity to wrest the laws in favor of riotous or mutinous
boatmen. It was necessary, also, to keep the recruits in good
humor, seeing the novelty and danger of the service into which
they were entering, and the ease with which they might at anytime
escape it by jumping into a canoe and going downstream.

Such were the scenes that beset Mr. Hunt, and gave him a
foretaste of the difficulties of his command. The little cabarets
and sutlers' shops along the bay resounded with the scraping of
fiddles, with snatches of old French songs, with Indian whoops
and yells, while every plumed and feathered vagabond had his
troop of loving cousins and comrades at his heels. It was with
the utmost difficulty they could be extricated from the clutches
of the publicans and the embraces of their pot companions, who
followed them to the water's edge with many a hug, a kiss on each
cheek, and a maudlin benediction in Canadian French.

It was about the 12th of August that they left Mackinaw, and
pursued the usual route by Green Bay, Fox and Wisconsin rivers,
to Prairie du Chien, and thence down the Mississippi to St.
Louis, where they landed on the 3d of September.

                          CHAPTER XIV.
St. Louis.- Its Situation.- Motley Population.- French Creole
Traders and Their Dependants.- Missouri Fur Company- Mr. Manuel
  Lisa. - Mississippi Boatmen. -  Vagrant Indians. - Kentucky
Hunters - Old French Mansion- Fiddling- Billiards- Mr. Joseph
  Miller - His Character- Recruits- Voyage Up the Missouri. -
   Difficulties of the River.- Merits of Canadian Voyageurs.-
Arrival at the Nodowa.- Mr. Robert M'Lellan joins the Party- John
Day, a Virginia Hunter. Description of Him.- Mr. Hunt Returns to
                           St. Louis.

ST. LOUIS, which is situated on the right bank of the Mississippi
River, a few miles below the mouth of the Missouri, was, at that
time, a frontier settlement, and the last fitting-out place for
the Indian trade of the Southwest. It possessed a motley
population, composed of the creole descendants of the original
French colonists; the keen traders from the Atlantic States; the
backwoodsmen of Kentucky and Tennessee; the Indians and half-
breeds of the prairies; together with a singular aquatic race
that had grown up from the navigation of the rivers  -  the
"boatmen of the Mississippi;- who possessed habits, manners, and
almost a language, peculiarly their own, and strongly technical.
They, at that time, were extremely numerous, and conducted the
chief navigation and commerce of the Ohio and the Mississippi, as
the voyageurs did of the Canadian waters; but, like them, their
consequence and characteristics are rapidly vanishing before the
all-pervading intrusion of steamboats.

The old French houses engaged in the Indian trade had gathered
round them a train of dependents, mongrel Indians, and mongrel
Frenchmen, who had intermarried with Indians. These they employed
in their various expeditions by land and water. Various
individuals of other countries had, of late years, pushed the
trade further into the interior, to the upper waters of the
Missouri, and had swelled the number of these hangers-on. Several
of these traders had, two or three years previously, formed
themselves into a company, composed of twelve partners, with a
capital of about forty thousand dollars, called the Missouri Fur
Company; the object of which was, to establish posts along the
upper part of that river, and monopolize the trade. The leading
partner of this company was Mr. Manuel Lisa, a Spaniard by birth,
and a man of bold and enterprising character, who had ascended
the Missouri almost to its source, and made himself well
acquainted and popular with several of its tribes. By his
exertions, trading posts had been established, in 1808, in the
Sioux country, and among the Aricara and Mandan tribes; and a
principal one, under Mr. Henry, one of the partners, at the forks
of the Missouri. This company had in its employ about two hundred
and fifty men, partly American and partly creole voyageurs.

All these circumstances combined to produce a population at St.
Louis even still more motley than that at Mackinaw. Here were to
be seen, about the river banks, the hectoring, extravagant
bragging boatmen of the Mississippi, with the gay, grimacing,
singing, good-humored Canadian voyageurs. Vagrant Indians, of
various tribes, loitered about the streets. Now and then a stark
Kentucky hunter, in leathern hunting-dress, with rifle on
shoulder and knife in belt, strode along. Here and there were new
brick houses and shops, just set up by bustling, driving, and
eager men of traffic from the Atlantic States; while, on the
other hand, the old French mansions, with open casements, still
retained the easy, indolent air of the original colonists; and
now and then the scraping of a fiddle, a strain of an ancient
French song, or the sound of billiard balls, showed that the
happy Gallic turn for gayety and amusement still lingered about
the place.

Such was St. Louis at the time of Mr. Hunt's arrival there, and
the appearance of a new fur company, with ample funds at its
command, produced a strong sensation among the I traders of the
place, and awakened keen jealousy and opposition on the part of
the Missouri Company. Mr. Hunt proceeded to strengthen himself
against all competition. For this purpose, he secured to the
interests of the association another of those enterprising men,
who had been engaged in individual traffic with the tribes of the
Missouri. This was a Mr. Joseph Miller, a gentleman well educated
and well informed, and of a respectable family of Baltimore. He
had been an officer in the army of the United States, but had
resigned in disgust, on being refused a furlough, and had taken
to trapping beaver and trading among the Indians. He was easily
induced by Mr. Hunt to join as a partner, and was considered by
him, on account of his education and acquirements, and his
experience in Indian trade, a valuable addition to the company.

Several additional men were likewise enlisted at St. Louis, some
as boatmen, and others as hunters. These last were engaged, not
merely to kill game for provisions, but also, and indeed chiefly,
to trap beaver and other animals of rich furs, valuable in the
trade. They enlisted on different terms. Some were to have a
fixed salary of three hundred dollars; others were to be fitted
out and maintained at the expense of the company, and were to
hunt and trap on shares.

As Mr. Hunt met with much opposition on the part of rival
traders, especially the Missouri Fur Company, it took him some
weeks to complete his preparations. The delays which he had
previously experienced at Montreal, Mackinaw, and on the way,
added to those at St. Louis, had thrown him much behind his
original calculations, so that it would be impossible to effect
his voyage up the Missouri in the present year. This river,
flowing from high and cold latitudes, and through wide and open
plains, exposed to chilling blasts, freezes early. The winter may
be dated from the first of November; there was every prospect,
therefore, that it would be closed with ice long before Mr. Hunt
could reach its upper waters. To avoid, however, the expense of
wintering at St. Louis, he determined to push up the river as far
as possible, to some point above the settlements, where game was
plenty, and where his whole party could be subsisted by hunting,
until the breaking up of the ice in the spring should permit them
to resume their voyage.

Accordingly on the twenty-first of October he took his departure
from St. Louis. His party was distributed in three boats. One was
the barge which he had brought from Mackinaw; another was of a
larger size, such as was formerly used in navigating the Mohawk
River, and known by the generic name of the Schenectady barge;
the other was a large keel boat, at that time the grand
conveyance on the Mississippi.

In this way they set out from St. Louis, in buoyant spirits, and
soon arrived at the mouth of the Missouri. This vast river, three
thousand miles in length, and which, with its tributary streams,
drains such an immense extent of country, was as yet but casually
and imperfectly navigated by the adventurous bark of the fur
trader. A steamboat had never yet stemmed its turbulent current.
Sails were but of casual assistance, for it required a strong
wind to conquer the force of the stream. The main dependence was
on bodily strength and manual dexterity. The boats, in general,
had to be propelled by oars and setting poles, or drawn by the
hand and by grappling hooks from one root or overhanging tree to
another; or towed by the long cordelle, or towing line, where the
shores were sufficiently clear of woods and thickets to permit
the men to pass along the banks.

During this slow and tedious progress the boat would be exposed
to frequent danger from floating trees and great masses of drift-
wood, or to be impaled upon snags and sawyers; that is to say,
sunken trees, presenting a jagged or pointed end above the
surface of the water. As the channel of the river frequently
shifted from side to side according to the bends and sand-banks,
the boat had, in the same way, to advance in a zigzag course.
Often a part of the crew would have to leap into the water at the
shallows, and wade along with the towing line, while their
comrades on board toilfully assisted with oar and setting pole.
Sometimes the boat would seem to be retained motionless, as if
spell-bound, opposite some point round which the current set with
violence, and where the utmost labor scarce effected any visible

On these occasions it was that the merits of the Canadian
voyageurs came into full action. Patient of toil, not to be
disheartened by impediments and disappointments, fertile in
expedients, and versed in every mode of humoring and conquering
the wayward current, they would ply every exertion, sometimes in
the boat, sometimes on shore, sometimes in the water, however
cold; always alert, always in good humor; and, should they at any
time flag or grow weary, one of their popular songs, chanted by a
veteran oarsman, and responded to in chorus, acted as a never-
failing restorative.

By such assiduous and persevering labor they made their way about
four hundred and fifty miles up the Missouri, by the 16th of
November, to the mouth of the Nodowa. As this was a good hunting
country, and as the season was rapidly advancing, they determined
to establish their winter quarters at this place; and, in fact,
two days after they had come to a halt, the river closed just
above their encampment.

The party had not been long at this place when they were joined
by Mr. Robert M'Lellan, another trader of the Missouri; the same
who had been associated with Mr. Crooks in the unfortunate
expedition in which they had been intercepted by the Sioux
Indians, and obliged to make a rapid retreat down the river.

M'Lellan was a remarkable man. He had been a partisan under
General Wayne, in his Indian wars, where he had distinguished
himself by his fiery spirit and reckless daring, and marvelous
stories were told of his exploits. His appearance answered to his
character. His frame was meagre, but muscular; showing strength,
activity, and iron firmness. His eyes were dark, deep-set, and
piercing. He was restless, fearless, but of impetuous and
sometimes ungovernable temper. He had been invited by Mr. Hunt to
enroll himself as a partner, and gladly consented; being pleased
with the thoughts of passing with a powerful force through the
country of the Sioux, and perhaps having an opportunity of
revenging himself upon that lawless tribe for their past

Another recruit that joined the camp at Nodowa deserves equal
mention. This was John Day, a hunter from the backwoods of
Virginia, who had been several years on the Missouri in the
service of Mr. Crooks, and of other traders. He was about forty
years of age, six feet two inches high, straight as an Indian;
with an elastic step as if he trod on springs, and a handsome,
open, manly countenance. It was his boast that, in his younger
days, nothing could hurt or daunt him; but he had "lived too
fast," and injured his constitution by his excesses. Still he was
strong of hand, bold of heart, a prime woodman, and an almost
unerring shot. He had the frank spirit of a Virginian, and the
rough heroism of a pioneer of the west.

The party were now brought to a halt for several months. They
were in a country abounding with deer and wild turkeys, so that
there was no stint of provisions, and every one appeared cheerful
and contented. Mr. Hunt determined to avail himself of this
interval to return to St. Louis and obtain a reinforcement.

He wished to procure an interpreter, acquainted with the language
of the Sioux, as, from all accounts, he apprehended difficulties
in passing through the country of that nation. He felt the
necessity, also, of having a greater number of hunters, not
merely to keep up a supply of provisions throughout their long
and arduous expedition, but also as a protection and defense, in
case of Indian hostilities. For such service the Canadian
voyageurs were little to be depended upon, fighting not being a
part of their profession. The proper kind of men were American
hunters, experienced in savage life and savage warfare, and
possessed of the true game spirit of the west.

Leaving, therefore, the encampment in charge of the other
partners, Mr. Hunt set off on foot on the first of January
(1810), for St. Louis. He was accompanied by eight men as far as
Fort Osage, about one hundred and fifty miles below Nodowa. Here
he procured a couple of horses, and proceeded on the remainder of
his journey with two men, sending the other six back to the
encampment. He arrived at St. Louis on the 20th of January.

                          CHAPTER XV.
  Opposition of the Missouri Fur Company.-Blackfeet Indians.-
  Pierre Dorion, a Half-Breed Interpreter.- Old Dorion and His
Hybrid Progeny- Family Quarrels.- Cross Purposes Between Dorion
     and Lisa. - Renegadoes From Nodowa.- Perplexities of a
Commander.- Messrs. Bradbury and Nuttall Join the Expedition.-
   Legal Embarrassments of Pierre Dorion.- Departure From St.
Louis.- Conjugal Discipline of a Half-Breed.- Annual Swelling of
   the Rivers.-Daniel Boone, the Patriarch of Kentucky.-John
   Colter.-His Adventures Among the Indians.-Rumors of Danger
Ahead.-Fort Osage.-An Indian War-Feast.-Troubles in the Dorion
            Family.- Buffaloes and Turkey-Buzzards.

0N this his second visit to St. Louis, Mr. Hunt was again impeded
in his plans by the opposition of the Missouri Fur Company. The
affairs of that company were, at this time, in a very dubious
state. During the preceding year, their principal establishment
at the forks of the Missouri had been so much harassed by the
Blackfeet Indians, that its commander, Mr. Henry, one of the
partners, had been compelled to abandon the post and cross the
Rocky Mountains, with the intention of fixing himself upon one of
the upper branches of the Columbia. What had become of him and
his party was unknown. The most intense anxiety was felt
concerning them, and apprehensions that they might have been cut
off by the savages. At the time of Mr. Hunt's arrival at St.
Louis, the Missouri Company were fitting out an expedition to go
in quest of Mr. Henry. It was to be conducted by Mr. Manuel Lisa,
the partner already mentioned.

There being thus two expeditions on foot at the same moment, an
unusual demand was occasioned for hunters and voyageurs, who
accordingly profited by the circumstance, and stipulated for high
terms. Mr. Hunt found a keen and subtle competitor in Lisa, and
was obliged to secure his recruits by liberal advances of pay,
and by other pecuniary indulgences.

The greatest difficulty was to procure the Sioux interpreter.
There was but one man to be met with at St. Louis who was fitted
for the purpose, but to secure him would require much management.
The individual in question was a half-breed, named Pierre Dorion;
and, as he figures hereafter in this narrative, and is, withal, a
striking specimen of the hybrid race on the frontier, we shall
give a few particulars concerning him. Pierre was the son of
Dorion, the French interpreter, who accompanied Messrs. Lewis and
Clark in their famous exploring expedition across the Rocky
Mountains. Old Dorion was one of those French creoles,
descendants of the ancient Canadian stock, who abound on the
western frontier, and amalgamate or cohabit with the savages. He
had sojourned among various tribes, and perhaps left progeny
among them all; but his regular, or habitual wife, was a Sioux
squaw. By her he had a hopeful brood of half-breed sons, of whom
Pierre was one. The domestic affairs of old Dorion were conducted
on the true Indian plan. Father and sons would occasionally get
drunk together, and then the cabin was a scene of ruffian brawl
and fighting, in the course of which the old Frenchman was apt to
get soundly belabored by his mongrel offspring. In a furious
scuffle of the kind, one of the sons got the old man upon the
ground, and was upon the point of scalping him. "Hold! my son,"
cried the old fellow, in imploring accents, "you are too brave,
too honorable to scalp your father!" This last appeal touched the
French side of the half-breed's heart, so he suffered the old man
to wear his scalp unharmed.

Of this hopeful stock was Pierre Dorion, the man whom it was now
the desire of Mr. Hunt to engage as an interpreter. He had been
employed in that capacity by the Missouri Fur Company during the
preceding year, and conducted their traders in safety through the
different tribes of the Sioux. He had proved himself faithful and
serviceable while sober; but the love of liquor, in which he had
been nurtured and brought up, would occasionally break out, and
with it the savage side of his character.

It was his love of liquor which had embroiled him with the
Missouri Company. While in their service at Fort Mandan, on the
frontier, he had been seized with a whiskey mania; and, as the
beverage was only to be procured at the company's store, it had
been charged in his account at the rate of ten dollars a quart.
This item had ever remained unsettled, and a matter of furious
dispute, the mere mention of which was sufficient to put him in a

The moment it was discovered by Mr. Lisa that Pierre Dorion was
in treaty with the new and rival association, he endeavored, by
threats as well as promises, to prevent his engaging in their
service. His promises might, perhaps, have prevailed; but his
threats, which related to the whiskey debt, only served to drive
Pierre into the opposite ranks. Still he took advantage of this
competition for his services to stand out with Mr. Hunt on the
most advantageous terms, and, after a negotiation of nearly two
weeks, capitulated to serve in the expedition, as hunter and
interpreter, at the rate of three hundred dollars a year, two
hundred of which were to be paid in advance.

When Mr. Hunt had got everything ready for leaving St. Louis, new
difficulties arose. Five of the American hunters from the
encampment at Nodowa, suddenly made their appearance. They
alleged that they had been ill treated by the partners at the
encampment, and had come off clandestinely, in consequence of a
dispute. It was useless at the present moment, and under present
circumstances, to attempt any compulsory measures with these
deserters. Two of them Mr. Hunt prevailed upon, by mild means, to
return with him. The rest refused; nay, what was worse, they
spread such reports of the hardships and dangers to be
apprehended in the course of the expedition, that they struck a
panic into those hunters who had recently engaged at St. Louis,
and, when the hour of departure arrived, all but one refused to
embark. It was in vain to plead or remonstrate; they shouldered
their rifles and turned their backs upon the expedition, and Mr.
Hunt was fain to put off from shore with the single hunter and a
number of voyageurs whom he had engaged. Even Pierre Dorion, at
the last moment, refused to enter the boat until Mr. Hunt
consented to take his squaw and two children on board also. But
the tissue of perplexities, on account of this worthy individual,
did not end here.

Among the various persons who were about to proceed up the
Missouri with Mr. Hunt, were two scientific gentlemen; one Mr.
John Bradbury, a man of mature age, but great enterprise and
personal activity, who had been sent out by Linnaean Society of
Liverpool to make a collection of American plants; the other, a
Mr. Nuttall, likewise an Englishman, younger in years, who has
since made himself known as the author of Travels in Arkansas,
and a work on the Genera of American Plants. Mr. Hunt had offered
them the protection and facilities of his party, in their
scientific research up the Missouri River. As they were not ready
to depart at the moment of embarkation, they put their trunks on
board of the boat, but remained at St. Louis until the next day,
for the arrival of the post, intending to join the expedition at
St. Charles, a short distance above the mouth of the Missouri.

The same evening, however, they learned that a writ had been
issued against Pierre Dorion for his whiskey debt, by Mr. Lisa,
as agent of the Missouri Company, and that it was the intention
to entrap the mongrel linguist on his arrival at St. Charles.

Upon hearing this, Mr. Bradbury and Mr. Nuttall set off a little
after midnight, by land, got ahead of the boat as it was
ascending the Missouri, before its arrival at St. Charles, and
gave Pierre Dorion warning of the legal toil prepared to ensnare

The knowing Pierre immediately landed and took to the woods,
followed by his squaw laden with their papooses, and a large
bundle containing their most precious effects, promising to
rejoin the party some distance above St. Charles. There seemed
little dependence to be placed upon the promises of a loose
adventurer of the kind, who was at the very time playing an
evasive game with his former employers; who had already received
two-thirds of his year's pay, and his rifle on his shoulder, his
family and worldly fortunes at his heels, and the wild woods
before him. There was no alternative, however, and it was hoped
his pique against his old employers would render him faithful to
his new ones.

The party reached St. Charles in the afternoon, but the harpies
of the law looked in vain for their expected prey. The boats
resumed their course on the following morning, and had not
proceeded far when Pierre Dorion made his appearance on the
shore. He was gladly taken on board, but he came without his
squaw. They had quarreled in the night; Pierre had administered
the Indian discipline of the cudgel, whereupon she had taken to
the woods, with their children and all their worldly goods.
Pierre evidently was deeply grieved and disconcerted at the loss
of his wife and his knapsack, whereupon Mr. Hunt despatched one
of the Canadian voyageurs in search of the fugitive; and the
whole party, after proceeding a few miles further, encamped on an
island to wait his return. The Canadian rejoined the party, but
without the squaw; and Pierre Dorion passed a solitary and
anxious night, bitterly regretting his indiscretion in having
exercised his conjugal authority so near home. Before daybreak,
however, a well-known voice reached his ears from the opposite
shore. It was his repentant spouse, who had been wandering the
woods all night in quest of the party, and had at length descried
it by its fires. A boat was despatched for her, the interesting
family was once more united, and Mr. Hunt now flattered himself
that his perplexities with Pierre Dorion were at an end.

Bad weather, very heavy rains, and an unusually early rise in the
Missouri, rendered the ascent of the river toilsome, slow, and
dangerous. The rise of the Missouri does not generally take place
until the month of May or June: the present swelling of the river
must have been caused by a freshet in some of its more southern
branches. It could not have been the great annual flood, as the
higher branches must still have been ice-bound.

And here we cannot but pause, to notice the admirable arrangement
of nature, by which the annual swellings of the various great
rivers which empty themselves into the Mississippi, have been
made to precede each other at considerable intervals. Thus, the
flood of the Red River precedes that of the Arkansas by a month.
The Arkansas, also, rising in a much more southern latitude than
the Missouri, takes the lead of it in its annual excess, and its
superabundant waters are disgorged and disposed of long before
the breaking up of the icy barriers of the north; otherwise, did
all these mighty streams rise simultaneously, and discharge their
vernal floods into the Mississippi, an inundation would be the
consequence, that would submerge and devastate all the lower

On the afternoon of the third day, January, 17th, the boats
touched at Charette, one of the old villages founded by the
original French colonists. Here they met with Daniel Boone, the
renowned patriarch of Kentucky, who had kept in the advance of
civilization, and on the borders of the wilderness, still leading
a hunter's life, though now in his eighty-fifth year. He had but
recently returned from a hunting and trapping expedition, and had
brought nearly sixty beaver skins as trophies of his skill. The
old man was still erect in form, strong in limb, and unflinching
in spirit, and as he stood on the river bank, watching the
departure of an expedition destined to traverse the wilderness to
the very shores of the Pacific, very probably felt a throb of his
old pioneer spirit, impelling him to shoulder his rifle and join
the adventurous band. Boone flourished several years after this
meeting, in a vigorous old age, the Nestor of hunters and
backwoodsmen; and died, full of sylvan honor and renown, in 1818,
in his ninety-second year.

The next morning early, as the party were yet encamped at the
mouth of a small stream, they were visited by another of these
heroes of the wilderness, one John Colter, who had accompanied
Lewis and Clarke in their memorable expedition. He had recently
made one of those vast internal voyages so characteristic of this
fearless class of men, and of the immense regions over which they
hold their lonely wanderings; having come from the head waters of
the Missouri to St. Louis in a small canoe. This distance of
three thousand miles he had accomplished in thirty days. Colter
kept with the party all the morning. He had many particulars to
give them concerning the Blackfeet Indians, a restless and
predatory tribe, who had conceived an implacable hostility to the
white men, in consequence of one of their warriors having been
killed by Captain Lewis, while attempting to steal horses.
Through the country infested by these savages the expedition
would have to proceed, and Colter was urgent in reiterating the
precautions that ought to be observed respecting them. He had
himself experienced their vindictive cruelty, and his story
deserves particular citation, as showing the hairbreadth
adventures to which these solitary rovers of the wilderness are

Colter, with the hardihood of a regular trapper, had cast himself
loose from the party of Lewis and Clarke in the very heart of the
wilderness, and had remained to trap beaver alone on the head
waters of the Missouri. Here he fell in with another lonely
trapper, like himself, named Potts, and they agreed to keep
together. They were in the very region of the terrible Blackfeet,
at that time thirsting to revenge the death of their companion,
and knew that they had to expect no mercy at their hands. They
were obliged to keep concealed all day in the woody margins of
the rivers, setting their traps after nightfall and taking them
up before daybreak. It was running a fearful risk for the sake of
a few beaver skins; but such is the life of the trapper.

They were on a branch of the Missouri called Jefferson Fork, and
had set their traps at night, about six miles up a small river
that emptied into the fork. Early in the morning they ascended
the river in a canoe, to examine the traps. The banks on each
side were high and perpendicular, and cast a shade over the
stream. As they were softly paddling along, they heard the
trampling of many feet upon the banks. Colter immediately gave
the alarm of "Indians!" and was for instant retreat. Potts
scoffed at him for being frightened by the trampling of a herd of
buffaloes. Colter checked his uneasiness and paddled forward.
They had not gone much further when frightful whoops and yells
burst forth from each side of the river, and several hundred
Indians appeared on either bank. Signs were made to the
unfortunate trappers to come on shore. They were obliged to
comply. Before they could get out of their canoe, a savage seized
the rifle belonging to Potts. Colter sprang on shore, wrestled
the weapon from the hands of the Indian, and restored it to his
companion, who was still in the canoe, and immediately pushed
into the stream. There was the sharp twang of a bow, and Potts
cried out that he was wounded. Colter urged him to come on shore
and submit, as his only chance for life; but the other knew there
was no prospect of mercy, and determined to die game. Leveling
his rifle, he shot one of the savages dead on the spot. The next
moment he fell himself, pierced with innumerable arrows.

The vengeance of the savages now turned upon Colter. He was
stripped naked, and, having some knowledge of the Blackfoot
language, overheard a consultation as to the mode of despatching
him, so as to derive the greatest amusement from his death. Some
were for setting him up as a mark, and having a trial of skill at
his expense. The chief, however, was for nobler sport. He seized
Colter by the shoulder, and demanded if he could run fast. The
unfortunate trapper was too well acquainted with Indian customs
not to comprehend the drift of the question. He knew he was to
run for his life, to furnish a kind of human hunt to his
persecutors. Though in reality he was noted among his brother
hunters for swiftness of foot, he assured the chief that he was a
very bad runner. His stratagem gained him some vantage ground. He
was led by the chief into the prairie, about four hundred yards
from the main body of savages, and then turned loose to save
himself if he could. A tremendous yell let him know that the
whole pack of bloodhounds were off in full cry. Colter flew
rather than ran; he was astonished at his own speed; but he had
six miles of prairie to traverse before he should reach the
Jefferson Fork of the Missouri; how could he hope to hold out
such a distance with the fearful odds of several hundred to one
against him! The plain, too, abounded with the prickly pear,
which wounded his naked feet. Still he fled on, dreading each
moment to hear the twang of a bow, and to feel an arrow quivering
at his heart. He did not even dare to look round, lest he should
lose an inch of that distance on which his life depended. He had
run nearly half way across the plain when the sound of pursuit
grew somewhat fainter, and he ventured to turn his head. The main
body of his pursuers were a considerable distance behind; several
of the fastest runners were scattered in the advance; while a
swift-footed warrior, armed with a spear, was not more than a
hundred yards behind him.

Inspired with new hope, Colter redoubled his exertions, but
strained himself to such a degree, that the blood gushed from his
mouth and nostrils, and streamed down his breast. He arrived
within a mile of the river. The sound of footsteps gathered upon
him. A glance behind showed his pursuer within twenty yards, and
preparing to launch his spear. Stopping short he turned round and
spread out his arms. The savage, confounded by this sudden
action, attempted to stop and hurl his spear, but fell in the
very act. His spear stuck in the ground, and the shaft broke in
his hand. Colter plucked up the pointed part, pinned the savage
to the earth, and continued his flight. The Indians, as they
arrived at their slaughtered companion, stopped to howl over him.
Colter made the most of this precious delay, gained the skirt of
cotton-wood bordering the river, dashed through it, and plunged
into the stream. He swam to a neighboring island, against the
upper end of which the driftwood had lodged in such quantities as
to form a natural raft; under this he dived, and swam below water
until he succeeded in getting a breathing place between the
floating trunks of trees, whose branches and bushes formed a
covert several feet above the level of the water. He had scarcely
drawn breath after all his toils, when he heard his pursuers on
the river bank, whooping and yelling like so many fiends. They
plunged in the river, and swam to the raft. The heart of Colter
almost died within him as he saw them, through the chinks of his
concealment, passing and repassing, and seeking for him in all
directions. They at length gave up the search, and he began to
rejoice in his escape, when the idea presented itself that they
might set the raft on fire. Here was a new source of horrible
apprehension, in which he remained until nightfall. Fortunately
the idea did not suggest itself to the Indians. As soon as it was
dark, finding by the silence around that his pursuers had
departed, Colter dived again and came up beyond the raft. He then
swam silently down the river for a considerable distance, when he
landed, and kept on all night, to get as far as possible from
this dangerous neighborhood.

By daybreak he had gained sufficient distance to relieve him from
the terrors of his savage foes; but now new sources of inquietude
presented themselves. He was naked and alone, in the midst of an
unbounded wilderness; his only chance was to reach a trading post
of the Missouri Company, situated on a branch of the Yellowstone
River. Even should he elude his pursuers, days must elapse before
he could reach this post, during which he must traverse immense
prairies destitute of shade, his naked body exposed to the
burning heat of the sun by day, and the dews and chills of the
night season, and his feet lacerated by the thorns of the prickly
pear. Though he might see game in abundance around him, he had no
means of killing any for his sustenance, and must depend for food
upon the roots of the earth. In defiance of these difficulties he
pushed resolutely forward, guiding himself in his trackless
course by those signs and indications known only to Indians and
backwoodsmen; and after braving dangers and hardships enough to
break down any spirit but that of a western pioneer, arrived safe
at the solitary post in question. * (* Bradbury, Travels in
America, p. 17.)

Such is a sample of the rugged experience which Colter had to
relate of savage life; yet, with all these perils and terrors
fresh in his recollection, he could not see the present band on
their way to those regions of danger and adventure, without
feeling a vehement impulse to join them. A western trapper is
like a sailor; past hazards only stimulate him to further risks.
The vast prairie is to the one what the ocean is to the other, a
boundless field of enterprise and exploit. However he may have
suffered in his last cruise, he is always ready to join a new
expedition; and the more adventurous its nature, the more
attractive is it to his vagrant spirit.

Nothing seems to have kept Colter from continuing with the party
to the shores of the Pacific but the circumstances of his having
recently married. All the morning he kept with them, balancing in
his mind the charms of his bride against those of the Rocky
Mountains; the former, however, prevailed, and after a march of
several miles, he took a reluctant leave of the travellers, and
turned his face homeward.

Continuing their progress up the Missouri, the party encamped on
the evening of the 21st of March, in the neighborhood of a little
frontier village of French creoles. Here Pierre Dorion met with
some of his old comrades, with whom he had a long gossip, and
returned to the camp with rumors of bloody feuds between the
Osages and the loways, or Ayaways, Potowatomies, Sioux, and
Sawkees. Blood had already been shed, and scalps been taken. A
war party, three hundred strong, were prowling in the
neighborhood; others might be met with higher up the river; it
behooved the travellers, therefore, to be upon their guard
against robbery or surprise, for an Indian war-party on the march
is prone to acts of outrage.

In consequence of this report, which was subsequently confirmed
by further intelligence, a guard was kept up at night round the
encampment, and they all slept on their arms. As they were
sixteen in number, and well supplied with weapons and ammunition,
they trusted to be able to give any marauding party a warm
reception. Nothing occurred, however, to molest them on their
voyage, and on the 8th of April they came in sight of Fort Osage.
On their approach the flag was hoisted on the fort, and they
saluted it by a discharge of fire-arms. Within a short distance
of the fort was an Osage village, the inhabitants of which, men,
women, and children, thronged down to the water side to witness
their landing. One of the first persons they met on the river
bank was Mr. Crooks, who had come down in a boat, with nine men,
from their winter encampment at Nodowa to meet them.

They remained at Fort Osage a part of three days, during which
they were hospitably entertained at the garrison by Lieutenant
Brownson, who held a temporary command. They were regaled also
with a war-feast at the village; the Osage warriors having
returned from a successful foray against the loways, in which
they had taken seven scalps. They were paraded on poles about the
village, followed by the warriors decked out in all their savage
ornaments, and hideously painted as if for battle.

By the Osage warriors, Mr. Hunt and his companions were again
warned to be on their guard in ascending the river, as the Sioux
tribe meant to lay in wait and attack them.

On the 10th of April they again embarked their party, being now
augmented to twenty-six, by the addition of Mr. Crooks and his
boat's crew. They had not proceeded far, however, when there was
a great outcry from one of the boats; it was occasioned by a
little domestic discipline in the Dorion family. The squaw of the
worthy interpreter, it appeared, had been so delighted with the
scalp-dance, and other festivities of the Osage village, that she
had taken a strong inclination to remain there. This had been as
strongly opposed by her liege lord, who had compelled her to
embark. The good dame had remained sulky ever since, whereupon
Pierre, seeing no other mode of exorcising the evil spirit out of
her, and being, perhaps, a little inspired by whiskey, had
resorted to the Indian remedy of the cudgel, and before his
neighbors could interfere, had belabored her so soundly, that
there is no record of her having shown any refractory symptoms
throughout the remainder of the expedition.

For a week they continued their voyage, exposed to almost
incessant rains. The bodies of drowned buffaloes floated past
them in vast numbers; many had drifted upon the shore, or against
the upper ends of the rafts and islands. These had attracted
great flights of turkey-buzzards; some were banqueting on the
carcasses, others were soaring far aloft in the sky, and others
were perched on the trees, with their backs to the sun, and their
wings stretched out to dry, like so many vessels in harbor,
spreading their sails after a shower.

The turkey-buzzard (vultur aura, or golden vulture), when on the
wing, is one of the most specious and imposing of birds. Its
flight in the upper regions of the air is really sublime,
extending its immense wings, and wheeling slowly and majestically
to and fro, seemingly without exerting a muscle or fluttering a
feather, but moving by mere volition, and sailing on the bosom of
the air, as a ship upon the ocean. Usurping the empyreal realm of
the eagle, he assumes for a time the port and dignity of that
majestic bird, and often is mistaken for him by ignorant crawlers
upon the earth. It is only when he descends from the clouds to
pounce upon carrion that he betrays his low propensities, and
reveals his caitiff character. Near at hand he is a disgusting
bird, ragged in plumage, base in aspect, and of loathsome odor.

On the 17th of April Mr. Hunt arrived with his party at the
station near the Nodowa River, where the main body had been
quartered during the winter.

                          CHAPTER XVI.
Return of Spring.- Appearance of Snakes.- Great Flights of Wild
  Pigeons.- Renewal of the Voyage.- Night Encampments.- Platte
    River. - Ceremonials on Passing It.- Signs of Indian War
Parties.- Magnificent Prospect at Papillion Creek.- Desertion of
Two Hunters.An Irruption Into the Camp of Indian Desperadoes.-
Village of the Omahas.-A necdotes of the Tribe.- Feudal Wars of
    the Indians.-Story of Blackbird, the Famous Omaha Chief.

THE weather continued rainy and ungenial for some days after Mr.
Hunt's return to Nodowa; yet spring was rapidly advancing and
vegetation was putting forth with all its early freshness and
beauty. The snakes began to recover from their torpor and crawl
forth into day; and the neighborhood of the wintering house seems
to have been much infested with them. Mr. Bradbury, in the course
of his botanical researches, found a surprising number in a half
torpid state, under flat stones upon the banks which overhung the
cantonment, and narrowly escaped being struck by a rattlesnake,
which darted at him from a cleft in the rock, but fortunately
gave him warning by his rattle.

The pigeons, too, were filling the woods in vast migratory
flocks. It is almost incredible to describe the prodigious
flights of these birds in the western wildernesses. They appear
absolutely in clouds, and move with astonishing velocity, their
wings making a whistling sound as they fly. The rapid evolutions
of these flocks wheeling and shifting suddenly as if with one
mind and one impulse; the flashing changes of color they present,
as their backs' their breasts, or the under part of their wings
are turned to the spectator, are singularly pleasing. When they
alight, if on the ground, they cover whole acres at a time; if
upon trees, the branches often break beneath their weight. If
suddenly startled while feeding in the midst of a forest, the
noise they make in getting on the wing is like the roar of a
cataract or the sound of distant thunder.

A flight of this kind, like an Egyptian flight of locusts,
devours everything that serves for its food as it passes along.
So great were the numbers in the vicinity of the camp that Mr.
Bradbury, in the course of a morning's excursion, shot nearly
three hundred with a fowling-piece. He gives a curious, though
apparently a faithful, account of the kind of discipline observed
in these immense flocks, so that each may have a chance of
picking up food. As the front ranks must meet with the greatest
abundance, and the rear ranks must have scanty pickings, the
instant a rank finds itself the hindmost, it rises in the air,
flies over the whole flock and takes its place in the advance.
The next rank follows in its course, and thus the last is
continually becoming first and all by turns have a front place at
the banquet.

The rains having at length subsided, Mr. Hunt broke up the
encampment and resumed his course up the Missouri.

The party now consisted of nearly sixty persons, of whom five
were partners, one, John Reed, was a clerk; forty were Canadian
"voyageurs," or "engages," and there were several hunters. They
embarked in four boats, one of which was of a large size,
mounting a swivel, and two howitzers. All were furnished with
masts and sails, to be used when the wind was sufficiently
favorable and strong to overpower the current of the river. Such
was the case for the first four or five days, when they were
wafted steadily up the stream by a strong southeaster.

Their encampments at night were often pleasant and picturesque:
on some beautiful bank, beneath spreading trees, which afforded
them shelter and fuel. The tents were pitched, the fires made,
and the meals prepared by the voyageurs, and many a story was
told, and joke passed, and song sung round the evening fire. All,
however, were asleep at an early hour. Some under the tents,
others wrapped in blankets before the fire, or beneath the trees;
and some few in the boats and canoes.

On the 28th, they breakfasted on one of the islands which lie at
the mouth of the Nebraska or Platte River - the largest tributary
of the Missouri, and about six hundred miles above its confluence
with the Mississippi. This broad but shallow stream flows for an
immense distance through a wide and verdant valley scooped out of
boundless prairies. It draws its main supplies, by several forks
or branches, from the Rocky Mountains. The mouth of this river is
established as the dividing point between the upper and lower
Missouri; and the earlier voyagers, in their toilsome ascent,
before the introduction of steamboats, considered one-half of
their labors accomplished when they reached this place. The
passing of the mouth of the Nebraska, therefore, was equivalent
among boatmen to the crossing of the line among sailors, and was
celebrated with like ceremonials of a rough and waggish nature,
practiced upon the uninitiated; among which was the old nautical
joke of shaving. The river deities, however, like those of the
sea, were to be propitiated by a bribe, and the infliction of
these rude honors to be parried by a treat to the adepts.

At the mouth of the Nebraska new signs were met with of war
parties which had recently been in the vicinity. There was the
frame of a skin canoe, in which the warriors had traversed the
river. At night, also, the lurid reflection of immense fires hung
in the sky, showing the conflagration of great tracts of the
prairies. Such fires not being made by hunters so late in the
season, it was supposed they were caused by some wandering war
parties. These often take the precaution to set the prairies on
fire behind them to conceal their traces from their enemies. This
is chiefly done when the party has been unsuccessful, and is on
the retreat and apprehensive of pursuit. At such time it is not
safe even for friends to fall in with them, as they are apt to be
in savage humor, and disposed to vent their spleen in capricious
outrage. These signs, therefore, of a band of marauders on the
prowl, called for some degree of vigilance on the part of the

After passing the Nebraska, the party halted for part of two days
on the bank of the river, a little above Papillion Creek, to
supply themselves with a stock of oars and poles from the tough
wood of the ash, which is not met with higher up the Missouri.
While the voyagers were thus occupied, the naturalists rambled
over the adjacent country to collect plants. From the summit of a
range of bluffs on the opposite side of the river, about two
hundred and fifty feet high, they had one of those vast and
magnificent prospects which sometimes unfold themselves in those
boundless regions. Below them was the Valley of the Missouri,
about seven miles in breadth, clad in the fresh verdure of
spring; enameled with flowers and interspersed with clumps and
groves of noble trees, between which the mighty river poured its
turbulent and turbid stream. The interior of the country
presented a singular scene; the immense waste being broken up by
innumerable green hills, not above eight feet in height, but
extremely steep, and actually pointed at their summits. A long
line of bluffs extended for upwards of thirty miles parallel to
the Missouri, with a shallow lake stretching along their base,
which had evidently once formed a bed of the river. The surface
of this lake was covered with aquatic plants, on the broad leaves
of which numbers of water-snakes, drawn forth by the genial
warmth of spring, were basking in the sunshine.

On the 2d day of May, at the usual hour of embarking, the camp
was thrown into some confusion by two of the hunters, named
Harrington, expressing their intention to abandon the expedition
and return home. One of these had joined the party in the
preceding autumn, having been hunting for two years on the
Missouri; the other had engaged at St. Louis, in the following
March, and had come up from thence with Mr. Hunt. He now declared
that he had enlisted merely for the purpose of following his
brother, and persuading him to return; having been enjoined to do
so by his mother, whose anxiety had been awakened by the idea of
his going on such a wild and distant expedition.

The loss of two stark hunters and prime riflemen was a serious
affair to the party, for they were approaching the region where
they might expect hostilities from the Sioux; indeed, throughout
the whole of their perilous journey, the services of such men
would be all important, for little reliance was to be placed upon
the valor of the Canadians in case of attack. Mr. Hunt endeavored
by arguments, expostulations, and entreaties, to shake the
determination of the two brothers. He represented to them that
they were between six and seven hundred miles above the mouth of
the Missouri; that they would have four hundred miles to go
before they could reach the habitation of a white man, throughout
which they would be exposed to all kinds of risks; since, he
declared, if they persisted in abandoning him and breaking their
faith, he would not furnish them with a single round of
ammunition. All was in vain; they obstinately persisted in their
resolution; whereupon, Mr. Hunt, partly incited by indignation,
partly by the policy of deterring others from desertion, put his
threat into execution, and left them to find their way back to
the settlements without, as he supposed, a single bullet or
charge of powder.

The boats now continued their slow and toilsome course for
several days, against the current of the river. The late signs of
roaming war parties caused a vigilant watch to be kept up at
night when the crews encamped on shore; nor was this vigilance
superfluous; for on the night of the seventh instant, there was a
wild and fearful yell, and eleven Sioux warriors, stark naked,
with tomahawks in their hands, rushed into the camp. They were
instantly surrounded and seized, whereupon their leader called
out to his followers to desist from any violence, and pretended
to be perfectly pacific in his intentions. It proved, however,
that they were a part of the war party, the skeleton of whose
canoe had been seen at the mouth of the river Platte, and the
reflection of whose fires had been descried in the air. They had
been disappointed or defeated in the foray, and in their rage and
mortification these eleven warriors had "devoted their clothes to
the medicine." This is a desperate act of Indian braves when
foiled in war, and in dread of scoffs and sneers. In such case
they sometimes threw off their clothes and ornaments, devote
themselves to the Great Spirit, and attempt some reckless exploit
with which to cover their disgrace. Woe to any defenseless party
of white men that may then fall in their way!

Such was the explanation given by Pierre Dorion, the half-breed
interpreter, of this wild intrusion into the camp; and the party
were so exasperated when appraised of the sanguinary intentions
of the prisoners, that they were for shooting them on the spot.
Mr. Hunt, however, exerted his usual moderation and humanity, and
ordered that they should be conveyed across the river in one of
the boats, threatening them however, with certain death if again
caught in any hostile act.

On the 10th of May the party arrived at the Omaha (pronounced
Omawhaw) village, about eight hundred and thirty miles above the
mouth of the Missouri, and encamped in its neighborhood. The
village was situated under a hill on the bank of the river, and
consisted of about eighty lodges. These were of a circular and
conical form, and about sixteen feet in diameter; being mere
tents of dressed buffalo skins, sewed together and stretched on
long poles, inclined towards each other so as to cross at about
half their height. Thus the naked tops of the poles diverge in
such a manner that, if they were covered with skins like the
lower ends, the tent would be shaped like an hour-glass, and
present the appearance of one cone inverted on the apex of

The forms of Indian lodges are worthy of attention, each tribe
having a different mode of shaping and arranging them, so that it
is easy to tell, on seeing a lodge or an encampment at a
distance, to what tribe the inhabitants belong. The exterior of
the Omaha lodges have often a gay and fanciful appearance, being
painted with undulating bands of red or yellow, or decorated with
rude figures of horses, deer, and buffaloes, and with human
faces, painted like full moons, four and five feet broad.

The Omahas were once one of the numerous and powerful tribes of
the prairies, vying in warlike might and prowess with the Sioux,
the Pawnees, the Sauks, the Konsas, and the Iatans. Their wars
with the Sioux, however, had thinned their ranks, and the small-
pox in 1802 had swept off two thirds of their number. At the time
of Mr. Hunt's visit they still boasted about two hundred warriors
and hunters, but they are now fast melting away, and before long,
will be numbered among those extinguished nations of the west
that exist but in tradition.

In his correspondence with Mr. Astor, from this point of his
journey, Mr. Hunt gives a sad account of the Indian tribes
bordering on the river. They were in continual war with each
other, and their wars were of the most harassing kind;
consisting, not merely of main conflicts and expeditions of
moment, involving the sackings, burnings, and massacres of towns
and villages, but of individual acts of treachery, murder, and
cold-blooded cruelty; or of vaunting and foolhardy exploits of
single warriors, either to avenge some personal wrong, or gain
the vainglorious trophy of a scalp. The lonely hunter, the
wandering wayfarer, the poor squaw cutting wood or gathering
corn, was liable to be surprised and slaughtered. In this way
tribes were either swept away at once, or gradually thinned out,
and savage life was surrounded with constant horrors and alarms.
That the race of red men should diminish from year to year, and
so few should survive of the numerous nations which evidently
once peopled the vast regions of the west, is nothing surprising;
it is rather matter of surprise that so many should survive; for
the existence of a savage in these parts seems little better than
a prolonged and all-besetting death. It is, in fact, a caricature
of the boasted romance of feudal times; chivalry in its native
and uncultured state, and knight-errantry run wild.

In their most prosperous days, the Omahas looked upon themselves
as the most powerful and perfect of human beings, and considered
all created things as made for their peculiar use and benefit. It
is this tribe of whose chief, the famous Wash-ing-guhsah-ba, or
Blackbird, such savage and romantic stories are told. He had died
about ten years previous to the arrival of Mr. Hunt's party, but
his name was still mentioned with awe by his people. He was one
of the first among the Indian chiefs on the Missouri to deal with
the white traders, and showed great sagacity in levying his royal
dues. When a trader arrived in his village, he caused all his
goods to be brought into his lodge and opened. From these he
selected whatever suited his sovereign pleasure; blankets,
tobacco, whiskey, powder, ball, beads, and red paint; and laid
the articles on one side, without deigning to give any
compensation. Then calling to him his herald or crier, he would
order him to mount on top of the lodge and summon all the tribe
to bring in their peltries, and trade with the white man. The
lodge would soon be crowded with Indians bringing bear, beaver,
otter, and other skins. No one was allowed to dispute the prices
fixed by the white trader upon his articles; who took care to
indemnify himself five times over for the goods set apart by the
chief. In this way the Blackbird enriched himself, and enriched
the white men, and became exceedingly popular among the traders
of the Missouri. His people, however, were not equally satisfied
by a regulation of trade which worked so manifestly against them,
and began to show signs of discontent. Upon this a crafty and
unprincipled trader revealed a secret to the Blackbird, by which
he might acquire unbounded sway over his ignorant and
superstitious subjects. He instructed him in the poisonous
qualities of arsenic, and furnished him with an ample supply of
that baneful drug. From this time the Blackbird seemed endowed
with supernatural powers, to possess the gift of prophecy, and to
hold the disposal of life and death within his hands. Woe to any
one who questioned his authority or dared to dispute his
commands! The Blackbird prophesied his death within a certain
time, and he had the secret means of verifying his prophecy.
Within the fated period the offender was smitten with strange and
sudden disease, and perished from the face of the earth. Every
one stood aghast at these multiplied examples of his superhuman
might, and dreaded to displease so omnipotent and vindictive a
being; and the Blackbird enjoyed a wide and undisputed sway.

It was not, however, by terror alone that he ruled his people; he
was a warrior of the first order, and his exploits in arms were
the theme of young and old. His career had begun by hardships,
having been taken prisoner by the Sioux, in early youth. Under
his command, the Omahas obtained great character for military
prowess, nor did he permit an insult or an injury to one of his
tribe to pass unrevenged. The Pawnee republicans had inflicted a
gross indignity on a favorite and distinguished Omaha brave. The
Blackbird assembled his warriors, led them against the Pawnee
town, attacked it with irresistible fury, slaughtered a great
number of its inhabitants, and burnt it to the ground. He waged
fierce and bloody war against the Ottoes for many years, until
peace was effected between them by the mediation of the whites.
Fearless in battle, and fond of signalizing himself, he dazzled
his followers by daring acts. In attacking a Kanza village, he
rode singly round it, loading and discharging his rifle at the
inhabitants as he galloped past them. He kept up in war the same
idea of mysterious and supernatural power. At one time, when
pursuing a war party by their tracks across the prairies, he
repeatedly discharged his rifle into the prints made by their
feet and by the hoofs of their horses, assuring his followers
that he would thereby cripple the fugitives, so that they would
easily be overtaken. He in fact did overtake them, and destroyed
them almost to a man; and his victory was considered miraculous,
both by friends and foe. By these and similar exploits, he made
himself the pride and boast of his people, and became popular
among them, notwithstanding his death-denouncing fiat.

With all his savage and terrific qualities, he was sensible of
the power of female beauty, and capable of love. A war party of
the Poncas had made a foray into the lands of the Omahas, and
carried off a number of women and horses. The Blackbird was
roused to fury, and took the field with all his braves, swearing
to "eat up the Ponca nation"- the Indian threat of exterminating
war. The Poncas, sorely pressed, took refuge behind a rude
bulwark of earth; but the Blackbird kept up so galling a fire,
that he seemed likely to execute his menace. In their extremity
they sent forth a herald, bearing the calumet or pipe of peace,
but he was shot down by order of the Blackbird. Another herald
was sent forth in similar guise, but he shared a like fate. The
Ponca chief then, as a last hope, arrayed his beautiful daughter
in her finest ornaments, and sent her forth with a calumet, to
sue for peace. The charms of the Indian maid touched the stern
heart of the Blackbird; he accepted the pipe at her hand, smoked
it, and from that time a peace took place between the Poncas and
the Omahas.

This beautiful damsel, in all probability, was the favorite wife
whose fate makes so tragic an incident in the story of the
Blackbird. Her youth and beauty had gained an absolute sway over
his rugged heart, so that he distinguished her above all of his
other wives. The habitual gratification of his vindictive
impulses, however, had taken away from him all mastery over his
passions, and rendered him liable to the most furious transports
of rage. In one of these his beautiful wife had the misfortune to
offend him, when suddenly drawing his knife, he laid her dead at
his feet with a single blow.

In an instant his frenzy was at an end. He gazed for a time in
mute bewilderment upon his victim; then drawing his buffalo robe
over his head, he sat down beside the corpse, and remained
brooding over his crime and his loss. Three days elapsed, yet the
chief continued silent and motionless; tasting no food, and
apparently sleepless. It was apprehended that he intended to
starve himself to death; his people approached him in trembling
awe, and entreated him once more to uncover his face and be
comforted; but he remained unmoved. At length one of his warriors
brought in a small child, and laying it on the ground, placed the
foot of the Blackbird upon its neck. The heart of the gloomy
savage was touched by this appeal; he threw aside his robe; made
an harangue upon what he had done; and from that time forward
seemed to have thrown the load of grief and remorse from his

He still retained his fatal and mysterious secret, and with it
his terrific power; but, though able to deal death to his
enemies, he could not avert it from himself or his friends. In
1802 the small-pox, that dreadful pestilence, which swept over
the land like a fire over the prairie, made its appearance in the
village of the Omahas. The poor savages saw with dismay the
ravages of a malady, loathsome and agonizing in its details, and
which set the skill and experience of their conjurors and
medicine men at defiance. In a little while, two thirds of the
population were swept from the face of the earth, and the doom of
the rest seemed sealed. The stoicism of the warriors was at an
end; they became wild and desperate; some set fire to the village
as a last means of checking the pestilence; others, in a frenzy
of despair, put their wives and children to death, that they
might be spared the agonies of an inevitable disease, and that
they might all go to some better country.

When the general horror and dismay was at its height, the
Blackbird himself was struck down with the malady. The poor
savages, when they saw their chief in danger, forgot their own
miseries, and surrounded his dying bed. His dominant spirit, and
his love for the white men, were evinced in his latest breath,
with which he designated his place of sepulture. It was to be on
a hill or promontory, upwards of four hundred feet in height,
overlooking a great extent of the Missouri, from whence he had
been accustomed to watch for the barks of the white men. The
Missouri washes the base of the promontory, and after winding and
doubling in many links and mazes in the plain below, returns to
within nine hundred yards of its starting-place; so that for
thirty miles navigating with sail and oar the voyager finds
himself continually near to this singular promontory as if spell-

It was the dying command of the Blackbird that his tomb should be
on the summit of this hill, in which he should be interred,
seated on his favorite horse, that he might overlook his ancient
domain, and behold the barks of the white men as they came up the
river to trade with his people.

His dying orders were faithfully obeyed. His corpse was placed
astride of his war-steed and a mound raised over them on the
summit of the hill. On top of the mound was erected a staff, from
which fluttered the banner of the chieftain, and the scalps that
he had taken in battle. When the expedition under Mr. Hunt
visited that part of the country, the staff still remained, with
the fragments of the banner; and the superstitious rite of
placing food from time to time on the mound, for the use of the
deceased, was still observed by the Omahas. That rite has since
fallen into disuse, for the tribe itself is almost extinct. Yet
the hill of the Blackbird continues an object of veneration to
the wandering savage, and a landmark to the voyager of the
Missouri; and as the civilized traveller comes within sight of
its spell-bound crest, the mound is pointed out to him from afar,
which still incloses the grim skeletons of the Indian warrior and
his horse.

                         CHAPTER XVII.
Rumors of Danger From the Sioux Tetons.- Ruthless Character of
  Those Savages.- Pirates of the Missouri.- Their Affair with
Crooks and M'Lellan.- A Trading Expedition Broken Up.- M'Lellan's
    Vow of Vengeance.- Uneasiness in the Camp.- Desertions.-
Departure From the Omaha Village.- Meeting With Jones and Carson,
   two Adventurous Trappers.- Scientific Pursuits of Messrs.
Bradbury and Nuttall. - Zeal of a Botanist.- Adventure of Mr.
Bradbury with a Ponca Indian. -Expedient of the Pocket Compass
and Microscope.- A Messenger From Lisa.- Motives for Pressing

WHILE Mr. Hunt and his party were sojourning at the village of
the Omahas, three Sioux Indians of the Yankton Alma tribe
arrived, bringing unpleasant intelligence. They reported that
certain bands of the Sioux Tetons, who inhabited a region many
leagues further up the Missouri, were near at hand, awaiting the
approach of the party, with the avowed intention of opposing
their progress.

The Sioux Tetons were at that time a sort of pirates of the
Missouri, who considered the well freighted bark of the American
trader fair game. They had their own traffic with the British
merchants of the Northwest, who brought them regular supplies of
merchandise by way of the river St. Peter. Being thus independent
of the Missouri traders for their supplies, they kept no terms
with them, but plundered them whenever they had an opportunity.
It has been insinuated that they were prompted to these outrages
by the British merchants, who wished to keep off all rivals in
the Indian trade; but others allege another motive, and one
savoring of a deeper policy. The Sioux, by their intercourse with
the British traders, had acquired the use of firearms, which had
given them vast superiority over other tribes higher up the
Missouri. They had made themselves also, in a manner, factors for
the upper tribes, supplying them at second hand, and at greatly
advanced prices, with goods derived from the white men. The
Sioux, therefore, saw with jealousy the American traders pushing
their way up the Missouri; foreseeing that the upper tribes would
thus be relieved from all dependence on them for supplies; nay,
what was worse, would be furnished with fire-arms, and elevated
into formidable rivals.

We have already alluded to a case in which Mr. Crooks and Mr.
M'Lellan had been interrupted in a trading voyage by these
ruffians of the river, and, as it is in some degree connected
with circumstances hereafter to be related, we shall specify it
more particularly.

About two years before the time of which we are treating, Crooks
and M'Lellan were ascending the river in boats with a party of
about forty men, bound on one of their trading expeditions to the
upper tribes. In one of the bends of the river, where the channel
made a deep curve under impending banks, they suddenly heard
yells and shouts above them, and beheld the cliffs overhead
covered with armed savages. It was a band of Sioux warriors,
upwards of six hundred strong. They brandished their weapons in a
menacing manner, and ordered the boats to turn back and land
lower down the river. There was no disputing these commands, for
they had the power to shower destruction upon the white men,
without risk to themselves. Crooks and M'Lellan, therefore,
turned back with feigned alacrity, and, landing, had an interview
with the Sioux. The latter forbade them, under pain of
exterminating hostility, from attempting to proceed up the river,
but offered to trade peacefully with them if they would halt
where they were. The party, being principally composed of
voyageurs, was too weak to contend with so superior a force, and
one so easily augmented; they pretended, therefore, to comply
cheerfully with their arbitrary dictation, and immediately
proceeded to cut down trees and erect a trading house. The
warrior band departed for their village, which was about twenty
miles distant, to collect objects of traffic; they left six or
eight of their number, however, to keep watch upon the white men,
and scouts were continually passing to and fro with intelligence.

Mr. Crooks saw that it would be impossible to prosecute his
voyage without the danger of having his boats plundered, and a
great part of his men massacred; he determined, however, not to
be entirely frustrated in the objects of his expedition. While he
continued, therefore, with great apparent earnestness and
assiduity, the construction of the trading house, he despatched
the hunters and trappers of his party in a canoe, to make their
way up the river to the original place of destination, there to
busy themselves in trapping and collecting peltries, and to await
his arrival at some future period.

As soon as the detachment had had sufficient time to ascend
beyond the hostile country of the Sioux, Mr. Crooks suddenly
broke up his feigned trading establishment, embarked his men and
effects, and, after giving the astonished rear-guard of savages a
galling and indignant message to take to their countrymen, pushed
down the river with all speed, sparing neither oar nor paddle,
day nor night, until fairly beyond the swoop of these river

What increased the irritation of Messrs. Crooks and M'Lellan, at
this mortifying check to their gainful enterprise, was the
information that a rival trader was at the bottom of it; the
Sioux, it is said, having been instigated to this outrage by Mr.
Manuel Lisa, the leading partner and agent of the Missouri Fur
Company, already mentioned. This intelligence, whether true or
false, so roused the fiery temper of M'Lellan, that he swore, if
ever he fell in with Lisa in the Indian country, he would shoot
him on the spot; a mode of redress perfectly in unison with the
character of the man, and the code of honor prevalent beyond the

If Crooks and M'Lellan had been exasperated by the insolent
conduct of the Sioux Tetons, and the loss which it had
occasioned, those freebooters had been no less indignant at being
outwitted by the white men, and disappointed of their anticipated
gains, and it was apprehended they would be particularly hostile
against the present expedition, when they should learn that these
gentlemen were engaged in it.

All these causes of uneasiness were concealed as much as possible
from the Canadian voyageurs, lest they should become intimidated;
it was impossible, however, to prevent the rumors brought by the
Indians from leaking out, and they became subjects of gossiping
and exaggeration. The chief of the Omahas, too, on returning from
a hunting excursion, reported that two men had been killed some
distance above, by a band of Sioux. This added to the fears that
already began to be excited. The voyageurs pictured to themselves
bands of fierce warriors stationed along each bank of the river,
by whom they would be exposed to be shot down in their boats: or
lurking hordes, who would set on them at night, and massacre them
in their encampments. Some lost heart, and proposed to return,
rather than fight their way, and, in a manner, run the gauntlet
through the country of these piratical marauders. In fact, three
men deserted while at this village. Luckily, their place was
supplied by three others who happened to be there, and who were
prevailed on to join the expedition by promises of liberal pay,
and by being fitted out and equipped in complete style.

The irresolution and discontent visible among some of his people,
arising at times almost to mutiny, and the occasional desertions
which took place while thus among friendly tribes, and within
reach of the frontiers, added greatly to the anxieties of Mr.
Hunt, and rendered him eager to press forward and leave a hostile
tract behind him, so that it would be as perilous to return as to
keep on, and no one would dare to desert.

Accordingly, on the 15th of May he departed from the village of
the Omahas, and set forward towards the country of the formidable
Sioux Tetons. For the first five days they had a fair and fresh
breeze, and the boats made good progress. The wind then came
ahead, and the river beginning to rise, and to increase in
rapidity, betokened the commencement of the annual flood, caused
by the melting of the snow on the Rocky Mountains, and the vernal
rains of the upper prairies.

As they were now entering a region where foes might be lying in
wait on either bank, it was determined, in hunting for game, to
confine themselves principally to the islands, which sometimes
extend to considerable length, and are beautifully wooded,
affording abundant pasturage and shade. On one of these they
killed three buffaloes and two elks, and halting on the edge of a
beautiful prairie, made a sumptuous hunter's repast. They had not
long resumed their boats and pulled along the river banks when
they descried a canoe approaching, navigated by two men, whom, to
their surprise, they ascertained to be white men. They proved to
be two of those strange and fearless wanderers of the wilderness,
the trappers. Their names were Benjamin Jones and Alexander
Carson. They had been for two years past hunting and trapping
near the head of the Missouri, and were thus floating for
thousands of miles in a cockle-shell, down a turbulent stream,
through regions infested by savage tribes, yet apparently as easy
and unconcerned as if navigating securely in the midst of

The acquisition of two such hardy, experienced, and dauntless
hunters was peculiarly desirable at the present moment. They
needed but little persuasion. The wilderness is the home of the
trapper; like the sailor, he cares but little to which point of
the compass he steers; and Jones and Carson readily abandoned
their voyage to St. Louis, and turned their faces towards the
Rocky Mountains and the Pacific.

The two naturalists, Mr. Bradbury and Mr. Nuttall, who had
joined the expedition at St. Louis, still accompanied it, and
pursued their researches on all occasions. Mr. Nuttall seems to
have been exclusively devoted to his scientific pursuits. He was
a zealous botanist, and all his enthusiasm was awakened at
beholding a new world, as it were, opening upon him in the
boundless prairies, clad in the vernal and variegated robe of
unknown flowers. Whenever the boats landed at meal times, or for
any temporary purpose, he would spring on shore, and set out on a
hunt for new specimens. Every plant or flower of a rare or
unknown species was eagerly seized as a prize. Delighted with the
treasures spreading themselves out before him, he went groping
and stumbling along among the wilderness of sweets, forgetful of
everything but his immediate pursuit, and had often to be sought
after when the boats were about to resume their course. At such
times he would be found far off in the prairies, or up the course
of some petty stream, laden with plants of all kinds.

The Canadian voyageurs, who are a class of people that know
nothing out of their immediate line, and with constitutional
levity make a jest of anything they cannot understand, were
extremely puzzled by this passion for collecting what they
considered mere useless weeds. When they saw the worthy botanist
coming back heavy laden with his specimens, and treasuring them
up as carefully as a miser would his hoard, they used to make
merry among themselves at his expense, regarding him as some
whimsical kind of madman.

Mr. Bradbury was less exclusive in his tastes and habits, and
combined the hunter and sportsman with the naturalist. He took
his rifle or his fowling-piece with him in his geological
researches, conformed to the hardy and rugged habits of the men
around him, and of course gained favor in their eyes. He had a
strong relish for incident and adventure, was curious in
observing savage manners, and savage life, and ready to join any
hunting or other excursion. Even now, that the expedition was
proceeding through a dangerous neighborhood, he could not check
his propensity to ramble. Having observed, on the evening of the
22d of May, that the river ahead made a great bend which would
take up the navigation of the following day, he determined to
profit by the circumstance. On the morning of the 23d, therefore,
instead of embarking, he filled his shot-pouch with parched corn,
for provisions, and set off to cross the neck on foot and meet
the boats in the afternoon at the opposite side of the bend. Mr.
Hunt felt uneasy at his venturing thus alone, and reminded him
that he was in an enemy's country; but Mr. Bradbury made light of
the danger, and started off cheerily upon his ramble. His day was
passed pleasantly in traversing a beautiful tract, making
botanical and geological researches, and observing the habits of
an extensive village of prairie dogs, at which he made several
ineffectual shots, without considering the risk he ran of
attracting the attention of any savages that might be lurking in
the neighborhood. In fact he had totally forgotten the Sioux
Tetons, and all the other perils of the country, when, about the
middle of the afternoon, as he stood near the river bank, and was
looking out for the boat, he suddenly felt a hand laid on his
shoulder. Starting and turning round, he beheld a naked savage
with a bow bent, and the arrow pointed at his breast. In an
instant his gun was leveled and his hand upon the lock. The
Indian drew his bow still further, but forbore to launch the
shaft. Mr. Bradbury, with admirable presence of mind, reflected
that the savage, if hostile in his intents, would have shot him
without giving him a chance of defense; he paused, therefore, and
held out his hand. The other took it in sign of friendship, and
demanded in the Osage language whether he was a Big Knife, or
American. He answered in the affirmative, and inquired whether
the other were a Sioux. To his great relief he found that he was
a Ponca. By his time two other Indians came running up, and all
three laid hold of Mr. Bradbury and seemed disposed to compel him
to go off with them among the hills. He resisted, and sitting
down on a sand hill contrived to amuse them with a pocket
compass. When the novelty of this was exhausted they again seized
him, but he now produced a small microscope. This new wonder
again fixed the attention of the savages, who have more curiosity
than it has been the custom to allow them. While thus engaged,
one of them suddenly leaped up and gave a war-whoop. The hand of
the hardy naturalist was again on his gun, and he was prepared to
make battle, when the Indian pointed down the river and revealed
the true cause of his yell. It was the mast of one of the boats
appearing above the low willows which bordered the stream. Mr.
Bradbury felt infinitely relieved by the sight. The Indians on
their part now showed signs of apprehension, and were disposed to
run away; but he assured them of good treatment and something to
drink if they would accompany him on board of the boats. They
lingered for a time, but disappeared before the boats came to

On the following morning they appeared at camp accompanied by
several of their tribe. With them came also a white man, who
announced himself as a messenger bearing missives for Mr. Hunt.
In fact he brought a letter from Mr. Manuel Lisa, partner and
agent of the Missouri Fur Company. As has already been mentioned,
this gentleman was going in search of Mr. Henry and his party,
who had been dislodged from the forks of the Missouri by the
Blackfeet Indians, and had shifted his post somewhere beyond the
Rocky Mountains. Mr. Lisa had left St. Louis three weeks after
Mr. Hunt, and having heard of the hostile intentions of the
Sioux, had made the greatest exertions to overtake him, that they
might pass through the dangerous part of the river together. He
had twenty stout oarsmen in his service and they plied their oars
so vigorously, that he had reached the Omaha village just four
days after the departure of Mr. Hunt. From this place he
despatched the messenger in question, trusting to his overtaking
the barges as they toiled up against the stream, and were delayed
by the windings of the river. The purport of his letter was to
entreat Mr. Hunt to wait until he could come up with him, that
they might unite their forces and be a protection to each other
in their perilous course through the country of the Sioux. In
fact, as it was afterwards ascertained, Lisa was apprehensive
that Mr. Hunt would do him some ill office with the Sioux band,
securing his own passage through their country by pretending that
he, with whom they were accustomed to trade, was on his way to
them with a plentiful supply of goods. He feared, too, that
Crooks and M'Lellan would take this opportunity to retort upon
him the perfidy which they accused him of having used, two years
previously, among these very Sioux. In this respect, however, he
did them signal injustice. There was no such thing as court
design or treachery in their thought; but M'Lellan, when he heard
that Lisa was on his way up the river, renewed his open threat of
shooting him the moment he met him on Indian land.

The representations made by Crooks and M'Lellan of the treachery
they had experienced, or fancied, on the part of Lisa, had great
weight with Mr. Hunt, especially when he recollected the
obstacles that had been thrown in his way by that gentleman at
St. Louis. He doubted, therefore, the fair dealing of Lisa, and
feared that, should they enter the Sioux country together, the
latter might make use of his influence with that tribe, as he had
in the case of Crooks and M'Lellan, and instigate them to oppose
his progress up the river.

He sent back, therefore, an answer calculated to beguile Lisa,
assuring him that he would wait for him at the Poncas village,
which was but a little distance in advance; but, no sooner had
the messenger departed, than he pushed forward with all
diligence, barely stopping at the village to procure a supply of
dried buffalo meat, and hastened to leave the other party as far
behind as possible, thinking there was less to be apprehended
from the open hostility of Indian foes than from the quiet
strategy of an Indian trader.

                         CHAPTER XVII.
Rumors of Danger From the Sioux Tetons.- Ruthless Character of
  Those Savages.- Pirates of the Missouri.- Their Affair with
Crooks and M'Lellan.- A Trading Expedition Broken Up.- M'Lellan's
    Vow of Vengeance.- Uneasiness in the Camp.- Desertions.-
Departure From the Omaha Village.- Meeting With Jones and Carson,
   two Adventurous Trappers.- Scientific Pursuits of Messrs.
Bradbury and Nuttall. - Zeal of a Botanist.- Adventure of Mr.
Bradbury with a Ponca Indian. -Expedient of the Pocket Compass
and Microscope.- A Messenger From Lisa.- Motives for Pressing

WHILE Mr. Hunt and his party were sojourning at the village of
the Omahas, three Sioux Indians of the Yankton Alma tribe
arrived, bringing unpleasant intelligence. They reported that
certain bands of the Sioux Tetons, who inhabited a region many
leagues further up the Missouri, were near at hand, awaiting the
approach of the party, with the avowed intention of opposing
their progress.

The Sioux Tetons were at that time a sort of pirates of the
Missouri, who considered the well freighted bark of the American
trader fair game. They had their own traffic with the British
merchants of the Northwest, who brought them regular supplies of
merchandise by way of the river St. Peter. Being thus independent
of the Missouri traders for their supplies, they kept no terms
with them, but plundered them whenever they had an opportunity.
It has been insinuated that they were prompted to these outrages
by the British merchants, who wished to keep off all rivals in
the Indian trade; but others allege another motive, and one
savoring of a deeper policy. The Sioux, by their intercourse with
the British traders, had acquired the use of firearms, which had
given them vast superiority over other tribes higher up the
Missouri. They had made themselves also, in a manner, factors for
the upper tribes, supplying them at second hand, and at greatly
advanced prices, with goods derived from the white men. The
Sioux, therefore, saw with jealousy the American traders pushing
their way up the Missouri; foreseeing that the upper tribes would
thus be relieved from all dependence on them for supplies; nay,
what was worse, would be furnished with fire-arms, and elevated
into formidable rivals.

We have already alluded to a case in which Mr. Crooks and Mr.
M'Lellan had been interrupted in a trading voyage by these
ruffians of the river, and, as it is in some degree connected
with circumstances hereafter to be related, we shall specify it
more particularly.

About two years before the time of which we are treating, Crooks
and M'Lellan were ascending the river in boats with a party of
about forty men, bound on one of their trading expeditions to the
upper tribes. In one of the bends of the river, where the channel
made a deep curve under impending banks, they suddenly heard
yells and shouts above them, and beheld the cliffs overhead
covered with armed savages. It was a band of Sioux warriors,
upwards of six hundred strong. They brandished their weapons in a
menacing manner, and ordered the boats to turn back and land
lower down the river. There was no disputing these commands, for
they had the power to shower destruction upon the white men,
without risk to themselves. Crooks and M'Lellan, therefore,
turned back with feigned alacrity, and, landing, had an interview
with the Sioux. The latter forbade them, under pain of
exterminating hostility, from attempting to proceed up the river,
but offered to trade peacefully with them if they would halt
where they were. The party, being principally composed of
voyageurs, was too weak to contend with so superior a force, and
one so easily augmented; they pretended, therefore, to comply
cheerfully with their arbitrary dictation, and immediately
proceeded to cut down trees and erect a trading house. The
warrior band departed for their village, which was about twenty
miles distant, to collect objects of traffic; they left six or
eight of their number, however, to keep watch upon the white men,
and scouts were continually passing to and fro with intelligence.

Mr. Crooks saw that it would be impossible to prosecute his
voyage without the danger of having his boats plundered, and a
great part of his men massacred; he determined, however, not to
be entirely frustrated in the objects of his expedition. While he
continued, therefore, with great apparent earnestness and
assiduity, the construction of the trading house, he despatched
the hunters and trappers of his party in a canoe, to make their
way up the river to the original place of destination, there to
busy themselves in trapping and collecting peltries, and to await
his arrival at some future period.

As soon as the detachment had had sufficient time to ascend
beyond the hostile country of the Sioux, Mr. Crooks suddenly
broke up his feigned trading establishment, embarked his men and
effects, and, after giving the astonished rear-guard of savages a
galling and indignant message to take to their countrymen, pushed
down the river with all speed, sparing neither oar nor paddle,
day nor night, until fairly beyond the swoop of these river

What increased the irritation of Messrs. Crooks and M'Lellan, at
this mortifying check to their gainful enterprise, was the
information that a rival trader was at the bottom of it; the
Sioux, it is said, having been instigated to this outrage by Mr.
Manuel Lisa, the leading partner and agent of the Missouri Fur
Company, already mentioned. This intelligence, whether true or
false, so roused the fiery temper of M'Lellan, that he swore, if
ever he fell in with Lisa in the Indian country, he would shoot
him on the spot; a mode of redress perfectly in unison with the
character of the man, and the code of honor prevalent beyond the

If Crooks and M'Lellan had been exasperated by the insolent
conduct of the Sioux Tetons, and the loss which it had
occasioned, those freebooters had been no less indignant at being
outwitted by the white men, and disappointed of their anticipated
gains, and it was apprehended they would be particularly hostile
against the present expedition, when they should learn that these
gentlemen were engaged in it.

All these causes of uneasiness were concealed as much as possible
from the Canadian voyageurs, lest they should become intimidated;
it was impossible, however, to prevent the rumors brought by the
Indians from leaking out, and they became subjects of gossiping
and exaggeration. The chief of the Omahas, too, on returning from
a hunting excursion, reported that two men had been killed some
distance above, by a band of Sioux. This added to the fears that
already began to be excited. The voyageurs pictured to themselves
bands of fierce warriors stationed along each bank of the river,
by whom they would be exposed to be shot down in their boats: or
lurking hordes, who would set on them at night, and massacre them
in their encampments. Some lost heart, and proposed to return,
rather than fight their way, and, in a manner, run the gauntlet
through the country of these piratical marauders. In fact, three
men deserted while at this village. Luckily, their place was
supplied by three others who happened to be there, and who were
prevailed on to join the expedition by promises of liberal pay,
and by being fitted out and equipped in complete style.

The irresolution and discontent visible among some of his people,
arising at times almost to mutiny, and the occasional desertions
which took place while thus among friendly tribes, and within
reach of the frontiers, added greatly to the anxieties of Mr.
Hunt, and rendered him eager to press forward and leave a hostile
tract behind him, so that it would be as perilous to return as to
keep on, and no one would dare to desert.

Accordingly, on the 15th of May he departed from the village of
the Omahas, and set forward towards the country of the formidable
Sioux Tetons. For the first five days they had a fair and fresh
breeze, and the boats made good progress. The wind then came
ahead, and the river beginning to rise, and to increase in
rapidity, betokened the commencement of the annual flood, caused
by the melting of the snow on the Rocky Mountains, and the vernal
rains of the upper prairies.

As they were now entering a region where foes might be lying in
wait on either bank, it was determined, in hunting for game, to
confine themselves principally to the islands, which sometimes
extend to considerable length, and are beautifully wooded,
affording abundant pasturage and shade. On one of these they
killed three buffaloes and two elks, and halting on the edge of a
beautiful prairie, made a sumptuous hunter's repast. They had not
long resumed their boats and pulled along the river banks when
they descried a canoe approaching, navigated by two men, whom, to
their surprise, they ascertained to be white men. They proved to
be two of those strange and fearless wanderers of the wilderness,
the trappers. Their names were Benjamin Jones and Alexander
Carson. They had been for two years past hunting and trapping
near the head of the Missouri, and were thus floating for
thousands of miles in a cockle-shell, down a turbulent stream,
through regions infested by savage tribes, yet apparently as easy
and unconcerned as if navigating securely in the midst of

The acquisition of two such hardy, experienced, and dauntless
hunters was peculiarly desirable at the present moment. They
needed but little persuasion. The wilderness is the home of the
trapper; like the sailor, he cares but little to which point of
the compass he steers; and Jones and Carson readily abandoned
their voyage to St. Louis, and turned their faces towards the
Rocky Mountains and the Pacific.

The two naturalists, Mr. Bradbury and Mr. Nuttall, who had
joined the expedition at St. Louis, still accompanied it, and
pursued their researches on all occasions. Mr. Nuttall seems to
have been exclusively devoted to his scientific pursuits. He was
a zealous botanist, and all his enthusiasm was awakened at
beholding a new world, as it were, opening upon him in the
boundless prairies, clad in the vernal and variegated robe of
unknown flowers. Whenever the boats landed at meal times, or for
any temporary purpose, he would spring on shore, and set out on a
hunt for new specimens. Every plant or flower of a rare or
unknown species was eagerly seized as a prize. Delighted with the
treasures spreading themselves out before him, he went groping
and stumbling along among the wilderness of sweets, forgetful of
everything but his immediate pursuit, and had often to be sought
after when the boats were about to resume their course. At such
times he would be found far off in the prairies, or up the course
of some petty stream, laden with plants of all kinds.

The Canadian voyageurs, who are a class of people that know
nothing out of their immediate line, and with constitutional
levity make a jest of anything they cannot understand, were
extremely puzzled by this passion for collecting what they
considered mere useless weeds. When they saw the worthy botanist
coming back heavy laden with his specimens, and treasuring them
up as carefully as a miser would his hoard, they used to make
merry among themselves at his expense, regarding him as some
whimsical kind of madman.

Mr. Bradbury was less exclusive in his tastes and habits, and
combined the hunter and sportsman with the naturalist. He took
his rifle or his fowling-piece with him in his geological
researches, conformed to the hardy and rugged habits of the men
around him, and of course gained favor in their eyes. He had a
strong relish for incident and adventure, was curious in
observing savage manners, and savage life, and ready to join any
hunting or other excursion. Even now, that the expedition was
proceeding through a dangerous neighborhood, he could not check
his propensity to ramble. Having observed, on the evening of the
22d of May, that the river ahead made a great bend which would
take up the navigation of the following day, he determined to
profit by the circumstance. On the morning of the 23d, therefore,
instead of embarking, he filled his shot-pouch with parched corn,
for provisions, and set off to cross the neck on foot and meet
the boats in the afternoon at the opposite side of the bend. Mr.
Hunt felt uneasy at his venturing thus alone, and reminded him
that he was in an enemy's country; but Mr. Bradbury made light of
the danger, and started off cheerily upon his ramble. His day was
passed pleasantly in traversing a beautiful tract, making
botanical and geological researches, and observing the habits of
an extensive village of prairie dogs, at which he made several
ineffectual shots, without considering the risk he ran of
attracting the attention of any savages that might be lurking in
the neighborhood. In fact he had totally forgotten the Sioux
Tetons, and all the other perils of the country, when, about the
middle of the afternoon, as he stood near the river bank, and was
looking out for the boat, he suddenly felt a hand laid on his
shoulder. Starting and turning round, he beheld a naked savage
with a bow bent, and the arrow pointed at his breast. In an
instant his gun was leveled and his hand upon the lock. The
Indian drew his bow still further, but forbore to launch the
shaft. Mr. Bradbury, with admirable presence of mind, reflected
that the savage, if hostile in his intents, would have shot him
without giving him a chance of defense; he paused, therefore, and
held out his hand. The other took it in sign of friendship, and
demanded in the Osage language whether he was a Big Knife, or
American. He answered in the affirmative, and inquired whether
the other were a Sioux. To his great relief he found that he was
a Ponca. By his time two other Indians came running up, and all
three laid hold of Mr. Bradbury and seemed disposed to compel him
to go off with them among the hills. He resisted, and sitting
down on a sand hill contrived to amuse them with a pocket
compass. When the novelty of this was exhausted they again seized
him, but he now produced a small microscope. This new wonder
again fixed the attention of the savages, who have more curiosity
than it has been the custom to allow them. While thus engaged,
one of them suddenly leaped up and gave a war-whoop. The hand of
the hardy naturalist was again on his gun, and he was prepared to
make battle, when the Indian pointed down the river and revealed
the true cause of his yell. It was the mast of one of the boats
appearing above the low willows which bordered the stream. Mr.
Bradbury felt infinitely relieved by the sight. The Indians on
their part now showed signs of apprehension, and were disposed to
run away; but he assured them of good treatment and something to
drink if they would accompany him on board of the boats. They
lingered for a time, but disappeared before the boats came to

On the following morning they appeared at camp accompanied by
several of their tribe. With them came also a white man, who
announced himself as a messenger bearing missives for Mr. Hunt.
In fact he brought a letter from Mr. Manuel Lisa, partner and
agent of the Missouri Fur Company. As has already been mentioned,
this gentleman was going in search of Mr. Henry and his party,
who had been dislodged from the forks of the Missouri by the
Blackfeet Indians, and had shifted his post somewhere beyond the
Rocky Mountains. Mr. Lisa had left St. Louis three weeks after
Mr. Hunt, and having heard of the hostile intentions of the
Sioux, had made the greatest exertions to overtake him, that they
might pass through the dangerous part of the river together. He
had twenty stout oarsmen in his service and they plied their oars
so vigorously, that he had reached the Omaha village just four
days after the departure of Mr. Hunt. From this place he
despatched the messenger in question, trusting to his overtaking
the barges as they toiled up against the stream, and were delayed
by the windings of the river. The purport of his letter was to
entreat Mr. Hunt to wait until he could come up with him, that
they might unite their forces and be a protection to each other
in their perilous course through the country of the Sioux. In
fact, as it was afterwards ascertained, Lisa was apprehensive
that Mr. Hunt would do him some ill office with the Sioux band,
securing his own passage through their country by pretending that
he, with whom they were accustomed to trade, was on his way to
them with a plentiful supply of goods. He feared, too, that
Crooks and M'Lellan would take this opportunity to retort upon
him the perfidy which they accused him of having used, two years
previously, among these very Sioux. In this respect, however, he
did them signal injustice. There was no such thing as court
design or treachery in their thought; but M'Lellan, when he heard
that Lisa was on his way up the river, renewed his open threat of
shooting him the moment he met him on Indian land.

The representations made by Crooks and M'Lellan of the treachery
they had experienced, or fancied, on the part of Lisa, had great
weight with Mr. Hunt, especially when he recollected the
obstacles that had been thrown in his way by that gentleman at
St. Louis. He doubted, therefore, the fair dealing of Lisa, and
feared that, should they enter the Sioux country together, the
latter might make use of his influence with that tribe, as he had
in the case of Crooks and M'Lellan, and instigate them to oppose
his progress up the river.

He sent back, therefore, an answer calculated to beguile Lisa,
assuring him that he would wait for him at the Poncas village,
which was but a little distance in advance; but, no sooner had
the messenger departed, than he pushed forward with all
diligence, barely stopping at the village to procure a supply of
dried buffalo meat, and hastened to leave the other party as far
behind as possible, thinking there was less to be apprehended
from the open hostility of Indian foes than from the quiet
strategy of an Indian trader.

                         CHAPTER XVIII.
Camp Gossip.- Deserters.- Recruits.- Kentucky Hunters.- A Veteran
  Woodman.- Tidings of Mr. Henry.-Danger From the Blackfeet. -
Alteration of Plans.- Scenery of the River.- Buffalo Roads.- Iron
Ore.- Country of the Sioux.- A Land of Danger.-apprehensions of
   the Voyageurs.- Indian Scouts.- Threatened Hostilities.- A
  Council of War.- An Array of Battle.-A Parley.- The Pipe of
                     Peace.- Speech-Making.

IT was about noon when the party left the Poncas village, about a
league beyond which they passed the mouth of the Quicourt, or
Rapid River (called, in the original French, l'Eau Qui Court).
After having proceeded some distance further, they landed, and
encamped for the night. In the evening camp, the voyageurs
gossiped, as usual, over the events of the day; and especially
over intelligence picked up among the Poncas. These Indians had
confirmed the previous reports of the hostile intentions of the
Sioux, and had assured them that five tribes, or bands, of that
fierce nation were actually assembled higher up the river, and
waiting to cut them off. This evening gossip, and the terrific
stories of Indian warfare to which it gave rise, produced a
strong effect upon the imagination of the irresolute; and in the
morning it was discovered that the two men, who had joined the
party at the Omaha village, and been so bounteously fitted out,
had deserted in the course of the night, carrying with them all
their equipments. As it was known that one of them could not
swim, it was hoped that the banks of the Quicourt River would
bring them to a halt. A general pursuit was therefore instituted,
but without success.

On the following morning (May 26th), as they were all on shore,
breakfasting on one of the beautiful banks of the river, they
observed two canoes descending along the opposite side. By the
aid of spy-glasses, they ascertained that there were two white
men in one of the canoes, and one in the other. A gun was
discharged, which called the attention of the voyagers, who
crossed over. They proved to be the three Kentucky hunters, of
the true "dreadnought" stamp. Their names were Edward Robinson,
John Hoback, and Jacob Rizner. Robinson was a veteran
backwoodsman, sixty-six years of age. He had been one of the
first settlers of Kentucky, and engaged in many of the conflicts
of the Indians on "the Bloody Ground." In one of these battles he
had been scalped, and he still wore a handkerchief bound round
his head to protect the part. These men had passed several years
in the upper wilderness. They had been in the service of the
Missouri Company under Mr. Henry, and had crossed the Rocky
Mountains with him in the preceding year, when driven from his
post on the Missouri by the hostilities of the Blackfeet. After
crossing the mountains, Mr. Henry had established himself on one
of the head branches of the Columbia River. There they had
remained with him some months, hunting and trapping, until,
having satisfied their wandering propensities, they felt disposed
to return to the families and comfortable homes which they had
left in Kentucky. They had accordingly made their way back across
the mountains, and down the rivers, and were in full career for
St. Louis, when thus suddenly interrupted. The sight of a
powerful party of traders, trappers, hunters, and voyageurs, well
armed and equipped, furnished at all points, in high health and
spirits, and banqueting lustily on the green margin of the river,
was a spectacle equally stimulating to these veteran backwoodsmen
with the glorious array of a campaigning army to an old soldier;
but when they learned the grand scope and extent of the
enterprise in hand, it was irresistible; homes and families and
all the charms of green Kentucky vanished from their thoughts;
they cast loose their canoes to drift down the stream, and
joyfully enlisted in the band of adventurers. They engaged on
similar terms with some of the other hunters. The company was to
fit them out, and keep them supplied with the requisite
equipments and munitions, and they were to yield one half of the
produce of their hunting and trapping.

The addition of three such staunch recruits was extremely
acceptable at this dangerous part of the river. The knowledge of
the country which they had acquired, also, in their journeys and
hunting excursions along the rivers and among the Rocky Mountains
was all important; in fact, the information derived from them
induced Mr. Hunt to alter his future course. He had hitherto
intended to proceed by the route taken by Lewis and Clarke in
their famous exploring expedition, ascending he Missouri to its
forks, and thence going, by land, across the mountains. These men
informed him, however, that, on taking that course he would have
to pass through the country invested by the savage tribe of the
Blackfeet, and would be exposed to their hostilities; they being,
as has already been observed, exasperated to deadly animosity
against the whites, on account of the death of one of their tribe
by the hand of Captain Lewis. They advised him rather to pursue a
route more to the southward, being the same by which they had
returned. This would carry them over the mountains about where
the head-waters of the Platte and the Yellowstone take their
rise, at a place much more easy and practicable than that where
Lewis and Clarke had crossed. In pursuing this course, also, he
would pass through a country abounding with game, where he would
have a better chance of procuring a constant supply of provisions
than by the other route, and would run less risk of molestation
from the Blackfeet. Should he adopt this advice, it would be
better for him to abandon the river at the Arickara town, at
which he would arrive in the course of a few days. As the Indians
at that town possessed horses in abundance, he might purchase a
sufficient number of them for his great journey overland, which
would commence at that place.

After reflecting on this advice, and consulting with his
associates, Mr. Hunt came to the determination to follow the
route thus pointed out, to which the hunters engaged to pilot

The party continued their voyage with delightful May weather. The
prairies bordering on the river were gayly painted with
innumerable flowers, exhibiting the motley confusion of colors of
a Turkey carpet. The beautiful islands, also, on which they
occasionally halted, presented the appearance of mingled grove
and garden. The trees were often covered with clambering
grapevines in blossom, which perfumed the air. Between the
stately masses of the groves were grassy lawns and glades,
studded with flowers, or interspersed with rose-bushes in full
bloom. These islands were often the resort of the buffalo, the
elk, and the antelope, who had made innumerable paths among the
trees and thickets, which had the effect of the mazy walks and
alleys of parks and shrubberies. Sometimes, where the river
passed between high banks and bluffs, the roads made by the tramp
of buffaloes for many ages along the face of the heights, looked
like so many well-travelled highways. At other places the banks
were banded with great veins of iron ore, laid bare by the
abrasion of the river. At one place the course of the river was
nearly in a straight line for about fifteen miles. The banks
sloped gently to its margin, without a single tree, but bordered
with grass and herbage of a vivid green. Along each bank, for the
whole fifteen miles, extended a stripe, one hundred yards in
breadth, of a deep rusty brown, indicating an inexhaustible bed
of iron, through the center of which the Missouri had worn its
way. Indications of the continuance of this bed were afterwards
observed higher up the river. It is, in fact, one of the mineral
magazines which nature has provided in the heart of this vast
realm of fertility, and which, in connection with the immense
beds of coal on the same river, seem garnered up as the elements
of the future wealth and power of the mighty West.

The sight of these mineral treasures greatly excited the
curiosity of Mr. Bradbury, and it was tantalizing to him to be
checked in his scientific researches, and obliged to forego his
usual rambles on shore; but they were now entering the fated
country of the Sioux Tetons, in which it was dangerous to wander
about unguarded.

This country extends for some days' journey along the river, and
consists of vast prairies, here and there diversified by swelling
hills, and cut up by ravines, the channels of turbid streams in
the rainy seasons, but almost destitute of water during the heats
of summer. Here and there on the sides of the hills, or along the
alluvial borders and bottoms of the ravines, are groves and
skirts of forest: but for the most part the country presented to
the eye a boundless waste, covered with herbage, but without

The soil of this immense region is strongly impregnated with
sulphur, copperas, alum, and glauber salts; its various earths
impart a deep tinge to the streams which drain it, and these,
with the crumbling of the banks along the Missouri, give to the
waters of that river much of the coloring matter with which they
are clouded.

Over this vast tract the roving bands of the Sioux Tetons hold
their vagrant sway, subsisting by the chase of the buffalo, the
elk, the deer, and the antelope, and waging ruthless warfare with
other wandering tribes.

As the boats made their way up the stream bordered by this land
of danger, many of the Canadian voyageurs, whose fears had been
awakened, would regard with a distrustful eye the boundless waste
extending on each side. All, however, was silent, and apparently
untenanted by a human being. Now and then a herd of deer would be
seen feeding tranquilly among the flowery herbage, or a line of
buffaloes, like a caravan on its march, moving across the distant
profile of the prairie. The Canadians, however, began to
apprehend an ambush in every thicket, and to regard the broad,
tranquil plain as a sailor eyes some shallow and perfidious sea,
which, though smooth and safe to the eye, conceals the lurking
rock or treacherous shoal. The very name of a Sioux became a
watchword of terror. Not an elk, a wolf, or any other animal,
could appear on the hills, but the boats resounded with
exclamations from stem to stern,"voila les Sioux! voila les
Sioux!" (there are the Sioux! there are the Sioux!) Whenever it
was practicable, the night encampment was on some island in the
center of the stream.

On the morning of the 31st of May, as the travellers were
breakfasting on the right bank of the river, the usual alarm was
given, but with more reason, as two Indians actually made their
appearance on a bluff on the opposite or northern side, and
harangued them in a loud voice. As it was impossible at that
distance to distinguish what they said, Mr. Hunt, after
breakfast, crossed the river with Pierre Dorion, the interpreter,
and advanced boldly to converse with them, while the rest
remained watching in mute suspense the movements of the parties.
As soon as Mr. Hunt landed, one of the Indians disappeared behind
the hill, but shortly reappeared on horseback, and went scouring
off across the heights. Mr. Hunt held some conference with the
remaining savage, and then recrossed the river to his party.

These two Indians proved to be spies or scouts of a large war
party encamped about a league off, and numbering two hundred and
eighty lodges, or about six hundred warriors, of three different
tribes of Sioux; the Yangtons Ahna, the Tetons Bois-brule, and
the Tetons Min-na-kine-azzo. They expected daily to be reinforced
by two other tribes, and had been waiting eleven days for the
arrival of Mr. Hunt's party, with a determination to oppose their
progress up the river; being resolved to prevent all trade of the
white men with their enemies the Arickaras, Mandans, and
Minatarees. The Indian who had galloped off on horseback had gone
to give notice of the approach of the party, so that they might
now look out for some fierce scenes with those piratical savages,
of whom they had received so many formidable accounts.

The party braced up their spirits to the encounter, and
reembarking, pulled resolutely up the stream. An island for some
time intervened between them and the opposite side of the river;
but on clearing the upper end, they came in full view of the
hostile shore. There was a ridge of hills down which the savages
were pouring in great numbers, some on horseback, and some on
foot. Reconnoitering them with the aid of glasses, they perceived
that they were all in warlike array, painted and decorated for
battle. Their weapons were bows and arrows, and a few short
carbines, and most of them had round shields. Altogether they had
a wild and gallant appearance, and, taking possession of a point
which commanded the river, ranged themselves along the bank as if
prepared to dispute their passage.

At sight of this formidable front of war, Mr. Hunt and his
companions held counsel together. It was plain that the rumors
they had heard were correct, and the Sioux were determined to
oppose their progress by force of arms. To attempt to elude them
and continue along the river was out of the question. The
strength of the mid-current was too violent to be withstood, and
the boats were obliged to ascend along the river banks. These
banks were often high and perpendicular, affording the savages
frequent stations, from whence, safe themselves, and almost
unseen, they might shower down their missiles upon the boats
below, and retreat at will, without danger from pursuit. Nothing
apparently remained, therefore, but to fight or turn back. The
Sioux far outnumbered them, it is true, but their own party was
about sixty strong, well armed and supplied with ammunition; and,
beside their guns and rifles, they had a swivel and two howitzers
mounted in the boats. Should they succeed in breaking this Indian
force by one vigorous assault, it was likely they would be
deterred from making any future attack of consequence. The
fighting alternative was, therefore, instantly adopted, and the
boats pulled to shore nearly opposite to the hostile force. Here
the arms were all examined and put in order. The swivel and
howitzers were then loaded with powder and discharged, to let the
savages know by the report how formidably they were provided. The
noise echoed along the shores of the river, and must have
startled the warriors who were only accustomed to sharp reports
of rifles. The same pieces were then loaded with as many bullets
as they would probably bear; after which the whole party
embarked, and pulled across the river. The Indians remained
watching them in silence, their painted forms and visages glaring
in the sun, and their feathers fluttering in the breeze. The poor
Canadians eyed them with rueful glances, and now and then a
fearful ejaculation escaped them. "Parbleu! this is a sad scrape
we are in, brother!" one would mutter to the next oarsman. "Aye,
aye!" the other would reply, "we are not going to a wedding, my

When the boats arrived within rifle-shot, the hunters and other
fighting personages on board seized their weapons, and prepared
for action. As they rose to fire, a confusion took place among
the savages. They displayed their buffalo robes, raised them with
both hands above their heads, and then spread them before them on
the ground. At sight of this, Pierre Dorion eagerly cried out to
the party not to fire, as this movement was a peaceful signal,
and an invitation to a parley. Immediately about a dozen of the
principal warriors, separating from the rest, descended to the
edge of the river, lighted a fire, seated themselves in a
semicircle round it, and, displaying the calumet, invited the
party to land. Mr. Hunt now called a council of the partners on
board of his boat. The question was, whether to trust to the
amicable overtures of these ferocious people? It was determined
in the affirmative; for, otherwise, there was no alternative but
to fight them. The main body of the party were ordered to remain
on board of the boats, keeping within shot and prepared to fire
in case of any signs of treachery; while Mr. Hunt and the other
partners (M'Kenzie, Crooks, Miller, and M'Lellan) proceeded to
land, accompanied by the interpreter and Mr. Bradbury. The
chiefs, who awaited them on the margin of the river, remained
seated in their semicircle, without stirring a limb or moving a
muscle, motionless as so many statues. Mr. Hunt and his
companions advanced without hesitation, and took their seats on
the sand so as to complete the circle. The band of warriors who
lined the banks above stood looking down in silent groups and
clusters, some ostentatiously equipped and decorated, others
entirely naked but fantastically painted, and all variously

The pipe of peace was now brought forward with due ceremony. The
bowl was of a species of red stone resembling porphyry; the stem
was six feet in length, decorated with tufts of horse-hair dyed
red. The pipe-bearer stepped within the circle, lighted the pipe,
held it towards the sun, then towards the different points of the
compass, after which he handed it to the principal chief. The
latter smoked a few whiffs, then, holding the head of the pipe in
his hand, offered the other end to Mr. Hunt, and to each one
successively in the circle. When all had smoked, it was
considered that an assurance of good faith and amity had been
interchanged. Mr. Hunt now made a speech in French, which was
interpreted as he proceeded by Pierre Dorion. He informed the
Sioux of the real object of the expedition of himself and his
companions, which was, not to trade with any of the tribes up the
river, but to cross the mountains to the great salt lake in the
west, in search of some of their brothers, whom they had not seen
for eleven months. That he had heard of the intention of the
Sioux to oppose his passage, and was prepared, as they might see,
to effect it at all hazards; nevertheless, his feelings towards
the Sioux were friendly, in proof of which he had brought them a
present of tobacco and corn. So saying, he ordered about fifteen
carottes of tobacco, and as many bags of corn, to be brought from
the boat and laid in a heap near the council fire.

The sight of these presents mollified the chieftain, who had,
doubtless, been previously rendered considerate by the resolute
conduct of the white men, the judicious disposition of their
little armament, the completeness of their equipments, and the
compact array of battle which they presented. He made a speech in
reply, in which he stated the object of their hostile assemblage,
which had been merely to prevent supplies of arms and ammunition
from going to the Arickaras, Mandans, and Minatarees, with whom
they were at war; but being now convinced that the party were
carrying no supplies of the kind, but merely proceeding in quest
of their brothers beyond the mountains, they would not impede
them in their voyage. He concluded by thanking them for their
present, and advising them to encamp on the opposite side of the
river, as he had some young men among his warriors for whose
discretion he could not be answerable, and who might be

Here ended the conference: they all arose, shook hands, and
parted. Mr. Hunt and his companions re-embarked, and the boats
proceeded on their course unmolested.

                          CHAPTER XIX.
The Great Bend of the Missouri- Crooks and M'Lellan Meet With Two
  of Their Indian Opponents- Wanton Outrage of a White Man the
Cause of Indian Hostility- Dangers and Precautions.-An Indian War
Party.- Dangerous Situation of Mr. Hunt.- A Friendly Encampment.
-Feasting and Dancing.- Approach of Manuel Lisa and His Party -.A
Grim Meeting Between Old Rivals.- Pierre Dorion in a Fury.- A
                       Burst of chivalry.

ON the afternoon of the following day (June 1st) they arrived at
the great bend, where the river winds for about thirty miles
round a circular peninsula, the neck of which is not above two
thousand yards across. On the succeeding morning, at an early
hour, they descried two Indians standing on a high bank of the
river, waving and spreading their buffalo robes in signs of
amity. They immediately pulled to shore and landed. On
approaching the savages, however, the latter showed evident
symptoms of alarm, spreading out their arms horizontally,
according to their mode of supplicating clemency. The reason was
soon explained. They proved to be two chiefs of the very war
party that had brought Messrs. Crooks and M'Lellan to a stand two
years before, and obliged them to escape down the river. They ran
to embrace these gentlemen, as if delighted to meet with them;
yet they evidently feared some retaliation of their past
misconduct, nor were they quite at ease until the pipe of peace
had been smoked.

Mr. Hunt having been informed that the tribe to which these men
belonged had killed three white men during the preceding summer,
reproached them with the crime, and demanded their reasons for
such savage hostility. "We kill white men," replied one of the
chiefs, "because white men kill us. That very man," added he,
pointing to Carson, one of the new recruits, "killed one of our
brothers last summer. The three white men were slain to avenge
his death."

Their chief was correct in his reply. Carson admitted that, being
with a party of Arickaras on the banks of the Missouri, and
seeing a war party of Sioux on the opposite side, he had fired
with his rifle across. It was a random shot, made without much
expectation of effect, for the river was full half a mile in
breadth. Unluckily it brought down a Sioux warrior, for whose
wanton destruction threefold vengeance had been taken, as has
been stated. In this way outrages are frequently committed on the
natives by thoughtless or mischievous white men; the Indians
retaliate according to a law of their code, which requires blood
for blood; their act, of what with them is pious vengeance,
resounds throughout the land, and is represented as wanton and
unprovoked; the neighborhood is roused to arms; a war ensues,
which ends in the destruction of half the tribe, the ruin of the
rest, and their expulsion from their hereditary homes. Such is
too often the real history of Indian warfare, which in general is
traced up only to some vindictive act of a savage; while the
outrage of the scoundrel white man that provoked it is sunk in

The two chiefs, having smoked their pipe of peace and received a
few presents, departed well satisfied. In a little while two
others appeared on horseback, and rode up abreast of the boats.
They had seen the presents given to their comrades, but were
dissatisfied with them, and came after the boats to ask for more.
Being somewhat peremptory and insolent in their demands, Mr. Hunt
gave them a flat refusal, and threatened, if they or any of their
tribes followed him with similar demands, to treat them as
enemies. They turned and rode off in a furious passion. As he was
ignorant what force these chiefs might have behind the hills, and
as it was very possible they might take advantage of some pass of
the river to attack the boats, Mr. Hunt called all stragglers on
board and prepared for such emergency. It was agreed that the
large boat commanded by Mr. Hunt should ascend along the
northeast side of the river, and the three smaller boats along
the south side. By this arrangement each party would command a
view of the opposite heights above the heads and out of sight of
their companions, and could give the alarm should they perceive
any Indians lurking there. The signal of alarm was to be two
shots fired in quick succession.

The boats proceeded for the greater part of the day without
seeing any signs of an enemy. About four o'clock in the afternoon
the large boat, commanded by Mr. Hunt, came to where the river
was divided by a long sand-bar, which apparently, however, left a
sufficient channel between it and the shore along which they were
advancing. He kept up this channel, therefore, for some distance,
until the water proved too shallow for the boat. It was
necessary, therefore, to put about, return down the channel, and
pull round the lower end of the sand-bar into the main stream.
Just as he had given orders to this effect to his men, two signal
guns were fired from the boats on the opposite side of the river.
At the same moment, a file of savage warriors was observed
pouring down from the impending bank, and gathering on the shore
at the lower end of the bar. They were evidently a war party,
being armed with bows and arrows, battle clubs and carbines, and
round bucklers of buffalo hide, and their naked bodies were
painted with black and white stripes. The natural inference was,
that they belonged to the two tribes of Sioux which had been
expected by the great war party, and that they had been incited
to hostility by the two chiefs who had been enraged by the
refusal and the menace of Mr. Hunt. Here then was a fearful
predicament. Mr. Hunt and his crew seemed caught, as it were, in
a trap. The Indians, to a number of about a hundred, had already
taken possession of a point near which the boat would have to
pass: others kept pouring down the bank, and it was probable that
some would remain posted on the top of the height.

The hazardous situation of Mr. Hunt was perceived by those in the
other boats, and they hastened to his assistance. They were at
some distance above the sand-bar, however, and on the opposite
side of the river, and saw, with intense anxiety, the number of
savages continually augmenting, at the lower end of the channel,
so that the boat would be exposed to a fearful attack before they
could render it any assistance. Their anxiety increased, as they
saw Mr. Hunt and his party descending the channel and dauntlessly
approaching the point of danger; but it suddenly changed into
surprise on beholding the boat pass close by the savage horde
unmolested, and steer out safely into the broad river.

The next moment the whole band of warriors was in motion. They
ran along the bank until they were opposite to the boats, then
throwing by their weapons and buffalo robes, plunged into the
river, waded and swam off to the boats and surrounded them in
crowds, seeking to shake hands with every individual on board;
for the Indians have long since found this to be the white man's
token of amity, and they carried it to an extreme.

All uneasiness was now at an end. The Indians proved to be a war
party of Arickaras, Mandans, and Minatarees, consisting of three
hundred warriors, and bound on a foray against the Sioux. Their
war plans were abandoned for the present, and they determined to
return to the Arickara town, where they hoped to obtain from the
white men arms and ammunition that would enable them to take the
field with advantage over their enemies.

The boats now sought the first convenient place for encamping.
The tents were pitched; the warriors fixed their camp at about a
hundred yards distant; provisions were furnished from the boats
sufficient for all parties; there was hearty though rude feasting
in both camps, and in the evening the red warriors entertained
their white friends with dances and songs, that lasted until
after midnight.

On the following morning (July 3) the travellers re-embarked, and
took a temporary leave of their Indian friends, who intended to
proceed immediately for the Arickara town, where they expected to
arrive in three days, long before the boats could reach there.
Mr. Hunt had not proceeded far before the chief came galloping
along the shore and made signs for a parley. He said, his people
could not go home satisfied unless they had something to take
with them to prove that they had met with the white men. Mr. Hunt
understood the drift of the speech, and made the chief a present
of a cask of powder, a bag of balls, and three dozen of knives,
with which he was highly pleased. While the chief was receiving
these presents an Indian came running along the shore, and
announced that a boat, filled with white men, was coming up the
river. This was by no means agreeable tidings to Mr. Hunt, who
correctly concluded it to be the boat of Mr. Manuel Lisa; and he
was vexed to find that alert and adventurous trader upon his
heels, whom he hoped to have out-maneuvered, and left far behind.
Lisa, however, was too much experienced in the wiles of Indian
trade to be lulled by the promise of waiting for him at the
Poncas village; on the contrary, he had allowed himself no
repose, and had strained every nerve to overtake the rival party,
and availing himself of the moonlight, had even sailed during a
considerable part of the night. In this he was partly prompted by
his apprehensions of the Sioux, having met a boat which had
probably passed Mr. Hunt's party in the night, and which had been
fired into by these savages.

On hearing that Lisa was so near at hand, Mr. Hunt perceived that
it was useless to attempt any longer to evade him; after
proceeding a few miles further, therefore, he came to a halt and
waited for him to come up. In a little while the barge of Lisa
made its appearance. It came sweeping gently up the river, manned
by its twenty stout oarsmen, and armed by a swivel mounted at the
bow. The whole number on board amounted to twenty-six men: among
whom was Mr. Henry Breckenridge, then a young, enterprising man;
who was a mere passenger, tempted by notions of curiosity to
accompany Mr. Lisa. He has since made himself known by various
writings, among which may be noted a narrative of this very

The approach of Lisa, while it was regarded with uneasiness by
Mr. Hunt, roused the ire of M'Lellan; who, calling to mind old
grievances, began to look round for his rifle, as if he really
intended to carry his threat into execution and shoot him on the
spot; and it was with some difficulty that Mr. Hunt was enabled
to restrain his ire, and prevent a scene of outraged confusion.

The meeting between the two leaders, thus mutually distrustful,
could not be very cordial: and as to Messrs. Crooks and M'Lellan,
though they refrained from any outbreak, yet they regarded in
grim defiance their old rival and underplotter. In truth a
general distrust prevailed throughout the party concerning Lisa
and his intentions. They considered him artful and slippery, and
secretly anxious for the failure of their expedition. There being
now nothing more to be apprehended from the Sioux, they suspected
that Lisa would take advantage of his twenty-oared barge to leave
them and get first among the Arickaras. As he had traded with
those people and possessed great influence over them, it was
feared he might make use of it to impede the business of Mr. Hunt
and his party. It was resolved, therefore, to keep a sharp look-
out upon his movements; and M'Lellan swore that if he saw the
least sign of treachery on his part, he would instantly put his
old threat into execution.

Notwithstanding these secret jealousies and heart-burnings, the
two parties maintained an outward appearance of civility, and for
two days continued forward in company with some degree of
harmony. On the third day, however, an explosion took place, and
it was produced by no less a personage than Pierre Dorion, the
half-breed interpreter. It will be recollected that this worthy
had been obliged to steal a march from St. Louis, to avoid being
arrested for an old whiskey debt which he owed to the Missouri
Fur Company, and by which Mr. Lisa had hoped to prevent his
enlisting in Mr. Hunt's expedition. Dorion, since the arrival of
Lisa, had kept aloof and regarded him with a sullen and dogged
aspect. On the fifth of July the two parties were brought to a
halt by a heavy rain, and remained encamped about a hundred yards
apart. In the course of the day Lisa undertook to tamper with the
faith of Pierre Dorion, and, inviting him on board of his boat,
regaled him with his favorite whiskey. When he thought him
sufficiently mellowed, he proposed to him to quit the service of
his new employers and return to his old allegiance. Finding him
not to be moved by soft words, he called to mind his old debt to
the company, and threatened to carry him off by force, in payment
of it. The mention of this debt always stirred up the gall of
Pierre Dorion, bringing with it the remembrance of the whiskey
extortion. A violent quarrel arose between him and Lisa, and he
left the boat in high dudgeon. His first step was to repair to
the tent of Mr. Hunt and reveal the attempt that had been made to
shake his faith. While he was yet talking Lisa entered the tent,
under the pretext of coming to borrow a towing line. High words
instantly ensued between him and Dorion, which ended by the half-
breed's dealing him a blow. A quarrel in the "Indian country",
however, is not to be settled with fisticuffs. Lisa immediately
rushed to his boat for a weapon. Dorion snatched up a pair of
pistols belonging to Mr. Hunt, and placed himself in battle
array. The noise had roused the camp, and every one pressed to
know the cause. Lisa now reappeared upon the field with a knife
stuck in his girdle. Mr. Breckenridge, who had tried in vain to
mollify his ire, accompanied him to the scene of action. Pierre
Dorion's pistols gave him the advantage, and he maintained a most
warlike attitude. In the meantime, Crooks and M'Lellan had learnt
the cause of the affray, and were each eager to take the quarrel
into their own hands. A scene of uproar and hubbub ensued that
defies description. M'Lellan would have brought his rifle into
play and settled all old and new grudges by a pull of the
trigger, had he not been restrained by Mr. Hunt. That gentleman
acted as moderator, endeavoring to prevent a general melee; in
the midst of the brawl, however, an expression was made use of by
Lisa derogatory to his own honor. In an instant the tranquil
spirit of Mr. Hunt was in a flame. He now became as eager for the
fight as any one on the ground, and challenged Lisa to settle the
dispute on the spot with pistols. Lisa repaired to his boat to
arm himself for the deadly feud. He was followed by Messrs.
Bradbury and Breckenridge, who, novices in Indian life and the
"chivalry" of the frontier, had no relish for scenes of blood and
brawl. By their earnest mediation the quarrel was brought to a
close without bloodshed; but the two leaders of the rival camps
separated in anger, and all personal intercourse ceased between

                          CHAPTER XX.
Features of the Wilderness- Herds of Buffalo.- Antelopes- Their
Varieties and Habits.- John Day.- His Hunting Strategy- Interview
with Three Arickaras- Negotiations Between the Rival Parties -
The Left-Handed and the Big Man, two Arickara Chiefs.- Arickara
  Village- Its Inhabitants- Ceremonials on Landing- A Council
  Lodge.- Grand Conference - Speech of Lisa.- Negotiation for
  Horses. -Shrewd Suggestion of Gray Eyes, an Arickara Chief -
               Encampment of the Trading Parties.

THE rival parties now coasted along the opposite sides of the
river, within sight of each other; the barges of Mr. Hunt always
keeping some distance in the advance, lest Lisa should push on
and get first to the Arickara village. The scenery and objects,
as they proceeded, gave evidence that they were advancing deeper
and deeper into the domains of savage nature. Boundless wastes
kept extending to the eye, more and more animated by herds of
buffalo. Sometimes these unwieldy animals were seen moving in
long procession across the silent landscape; at other times they
were scattered about, singly or in groups, on the broad, enameled
prairies and green acclivities, some cropping the rich pasturage,
others reclining amidst the flowery herbage; the whole scene
realizing in a manner the old Scriptural descriptions of the vast
pastoral countries of the Orient, with "cattle upon a thousand

At one place the shores seemed absolutely lined with buffaloes;
many were making their way across the stream, snorting, and
blowing, and floundering. Numbers, in spite of every effort, were
borne by the rapid current within shot of the boats, and several
were killed. At another place a number were descried on the beach
of a small island, under the shade of the trees, or standing in
the water, like cattle, to avoid the flies and the heat of the

Several of the best marksmen stationed themselves in the bow of a
barge which advanced slowly and silently, stemming the current
with the aid of a broad sail and a fair breeze. The buffaloes
stood gazing quietly at the barge as it approached, perfectly
unconscious of their danger. The fattest of the herd was selected
by the hunters, who all fired together and brought down their

Besides the buffaloes they saw abundance of deer, and frequent
gangs of stately elks, together with light troops of sprightly
antelopes, the fleetest and most beautiful inhabitants of the

There are two kinds of antelopes in these regions, one nearly the
size of the common deer, the other not much larger than a goat.
Their color is a light gray, or rather dun, slightly spotted with
white; and they have small horns like those of the deer, which
they never shed. Nothing can surpass the delicate and elegant
finish of their limbs, in which lightness, elasticity, and
strength are wonderfully combined. All the attitudes and
movements of this beautiful animal are graceful and picturesque;
and it is altogether as fit a subject for the fanciful uses of
the poet as the oft-sung gazelle of the East.

Their habits are shy and capricious; they keep on the open
plains, are quick to take the alarm, and bound away with a
fleetness that defies pursuit. When thus skimming across a
prairie in the autumn, their light gray or dun color blends with
the hue of the withered herbage, the swiftness of their motion
baffles the eye, and they almost seem unsubstantial forms, driven
like gossamer before the wind.

While they thus keep to the open plain and trust to their speed,
they are safe; but they have a prurient curiosity that sometimes
betrays them to their ruin. When they have scud for some distance
and left their pursuer behind, they will suddenly stop and turn
to gaze at the object of their alarm. If the pursuit is not
followed up they will, after a time, yield to their inquisitive
hankering, and return to the place from whence they have been

John Day, the veteran hunter already mentioned, displayed his
experience and skill in entrapping one of these beautiful
animals. Taking advantage of its well known curiosity, he laid
down flat among the grass, and putting his handkerchief on the
end of his ramrod, waved it gently in the air. This had the
effect of the fabled fascination of the rattlesnake. The antelope
approached timidly, pausing and reconnoitering with increased
curiosity; moving round the point of attraction in a circle, but
still drawing nearer and nearer, until being within range of the
deadly rifle, he fell a victim to his curiosity.

On the 10th of June, as the party were making brisk progress with
a fine breeze, they met a canoe with three Indians descending the
river. They came to a parley, and brought news from the Arickara
village. The war party, which had caused such alarm at the sand-
bar, had reached the village some days previously, announced the
approach of a party of traders, and displayed with great
ostentation the presents they had received from them. On further
conversation with these three Indians, Mr. Hunt learnt the real
danger which he had run, when hemmed up within the sand-bar. The
Mandans who were of the war party, when they saw the boat so
completely entrapped and apparently within their power, had been
eager for attacking it, and securing so rich a prize. The
Minatarees, also, were nothing loath, feeling in some measure
committed in hostility to the whites, in consequence of their
tribe having killed two white men above the fort of the Missouri
Fur Company. Fortunately, the Arickaras, who formed the majority
of the war party, proved true in their friendship to the whites,
and prevented any hostile act, otherwise a bloody affray, and
perhaps a horrible massacre might have ensued.

On the 11th of June, Mr. Hunt and his companions encamped near an
island about six miles below the Arickara village. Mr. Lisa
encamped, as usual, at no great distance; but the same sullen
jealous reserve and non-intercourse continued between them.
Shortly after pitching the tents, Mr. Breckenridge made his
appearance as an ambassador from the rival camp. He came on
behalf of his companions, to arrange the manner of making their
entrance into the village and of receiving the chiefs; for
everything of the kind is a matter of grave ceremonial among the

The partners now expressed frankly their deep distrust of the
intentions of Mr. Lisa, and their apprehensions, that, out of the
jealousy of trade, and resentment of recent disputes, he might
seek to instigate the Arickaras against them. Mr. Breckenridge
assured them that their suspicions were entirely groundless, and
pledged himself that nothing of the kind should take place. He
found it difficult, however, to remove their distrust; the
conference, therefore, ended without producing any cordial
understanding; and M'Lellan recurred to his old threat of
shooting Lisa the instant he discovered anything like treachery
in his proceedings.

That night the rain fell in torrents, accompanied by thunder and
lightning. The camp was deluged, and the bedding and baggage
drenched. All hands embarked at an early hour, and set forward
for the village. About nine o'clock, when half way, they met a
canoe, on board of which were two Arickara dignitaries. One, a
fine-looking man, much above the common size, was hereditary
chief of the village; he was called the Left-handed, on account
of a personal peculiarity. The other, a ferocious-looking savage,
was the war chief, or generalissimo; he was known by the name of
the Big Man, an appellation he well deserved from his size, for
he was of a gigantic frame. Both were of fairer complexion than
is usual with savages.

They were accompanied by an interpreter; a French creole, one of
those haphazard wights of Gallic origin who abound upon our
frontiers, living among the Indians like one of their own race.
He had been twenty years among the Arickaras, had a squaw and
troop of piebald children, and officiated as interpreter to the
chiefs. Through this worthy organ the two dignitaries signified
to Mr. Hunt their sovereign intention to oppose the further
progress of the expedition up the river unless a boat were left
to trade with them. Mr. Hunt, in reply, explained the object of
his voyage, and his intention of debarking at their village and
proceeding thence by land; and that he would willingly trade with
them for a supply of horses for his journey. With this
explanation they were perfectly satisfied, and putting about,
steered for their village to make preparations for the reception
of the strangers.

The village of the Rikaras, Arickaras, or Ricarees, for the name
is thus variously written, is between the 46th and 47th parallels
of north latitude, and fourteen hundred and thirty miles above
the mouth of the Missouri. The party reached it about ten o'clock
in the morning, but landed on the opposite side of the river,
where they spread out their baggage and effects to dry. From
hence they commanded an excellent view of the village. It was
divided into two portions, about eighty yards apart, being
inhabited by two distinct bands. The whole extended about three-
quarters of a mile along the river bank, and was composed of
conical lodges, that looked like so many small hillocks, being
wooden frames intertwined with osier, and covered with earth. The
plain beyond the village swept up into hills of considerable
height, but the whole country was nearly destitute of trees.
While they were regarding the village, they beheld a singular
fleet coming down the river. It consisted of a number of canoes,
each made of a single buffalo hide stretched on sticks, so as to
form a kind of circular trough. Each one was navigated by a
single squaw, who knelt in the bottom and paddled; towing after
her frail bark a bundle of floating wood intended for firing.
This kind of canoe is in frequent use among the Indians; the
buffalo hide being readily made up into a bundle and transported
on horseback; it is very serviceable in conveying baggage across
the rivers.

The great number of horses grazing around the village, and
scattered over the neighboring hills and valleys, bespoke the
equestrian habit of the Arickaras, who are admirable horsemen.
Indeed, in the number of his horses consists the wealth of an
Indian of the prairies; who resembles an Arab in his passion for
this noble animal, and in his adroitness in the management of it.

After a time, the voice of the sovereign chief, "the Left-
handed," was heard across the river, announcing that the council
lodge was preparing, and inviting the white men to come over. The
river was half a mile in width, yet every word uttered by the
chieftain was heard; this may be partly attributed to the
distinct manner in which every syllable of the compound words in
the Indian language is articulated and accented; but in truth, a
savage warrior might often rival Achilles himself for force of
lungs. * (* Bradbury, p. 110.)

Now came the delicate point of management - how the two rival
parties were to conduct their visit to the village with proper
circumspection and due decorum. Neither of the leaders had spoken
to each other since their quarrel. All communication had been by
ambassadors. Seeing the jealousy entertained of Lisa, Mr.
Breckenridge, in his negotiation, had arranged that a deputation
from each party should cross the river at the same time, so that
neither would have the first access to the ear of the Arickaras.

The distrust of Lisa, however, had increased in proportion as
they approached the sphere of action; and M'Lellan, in
particular, kept a vigilant eye upon his motions, swearing to
shoot him if he attempted to cross the river first.

About two o'clock the large boat of Mr. Hunt was manned, and he
stepped on board, accompanied by Messrs. M'Kenzie and M'Lellan;
Lisa at the same time embarked in his barge; the two deputations
amounted in all to fourteen persons, and never was any movement
of rival potentates conducted with more wary exactness.

They landed amidst a rabble crowd, and were received on the bank
by the left-handed chief, who conducted them into the village
with grave courtesy; driving to the right and left the swarms of
old squaws, imp-like boys, and vagabond dogs, with which the
place abounded. They wound their way between the cabins, which
looked like dirt-heaps huddled together without any plan, and
surrounded by old palisades; all filthy in the extreme, and
redolent of villainous smells.

At length they arrived at the council lodge. It was somewhat
spacious, and formed of four forked trunks of trees placed
upright, supporting cross-beams and a frame of poles interwoven
with osiers, and the whole covered with earth. A hole sunken in
the center formed the fireplace, and immediately above was a
circular hole in the apex of the lodge, to let out the smoke and
let in the daylight. Around the lodge were recesses for sleeping,
like the berths on board ships, screened from view by curtains of
dressed skins. At the upper end of the lodge was a kind of
hunting and warlike trophy, consisting of two buffalo heads
garishly painted, surmounted by shields, bows, quivers of arrows,
and other weapons.

On entering the lodge the chief pointed to mats or cushions which
had been placed around for the strangers, and on which they
seated themselves, while he placed himself on a kind of stool. An
old man then came forward with the pipe of peace or good-
fellowship, lighted and handed it to the chief, and then falling
back, squatted himself near the door. The pipe was passed from
mouth to mouth, each one taking a whiff, which is equivalent to
the inviolable pledge of faith, of taking salt together among the
ancient Britons. The chief then made a sign to the old pipe-
bearer, who seemed to fill, likewise, the station of herald,
seneschal, and public crier, for he ascended to the top of the
lodge to make proclamation. Here he took his post beside the
aperture for the emission of smoke and the admission of light;
the chief dictated from within what he was to proclaim, and he
bawled it forth with a force of lungs that resounded over all the
village. In this way he summoned the warriors and great men to
council; every now and then reporting progress to his chief
through the hole in the roof.

In a little while the braves and sages began to enter one by one,
as their names were called or announced, emerging from under the
buffalo robe suspended over the entrance instead of a door,
stalking across the lodge to the skins placed on the floor, and
crouching down on them in silence. In this way twenty entered and
took their seats, forming an assemblage worthy of the pencil: for
the Arickaras are a noble race of men, large and well formed, and
maintain a savage grandeur and gravity of demeanor in their
solemn ceremonials.

All being seated, the old seneschal prepared the pipe of ceremony
or council, and having lit it, handed it to the chief. He inhaled
the sacred smoke, gave a puff upward to the heaven, then downward
to the earth, then towards the east; after this it was as usual
passed from mouth to mouth, each holding it respectfully until
his neighbor had taken several whiffs; and now the grand council
was considered as opened in due form.

The chief made an harangue welcoming the white men to his
village, and expressing his happiness in taking them by the hand
as friends; but at the same time complaining of the poverty of
himself and his people; the usual prelude among Indians to
begging or hard bargaining.

Lisa rose to reply, and the eyes of Hunt and his companions were
eagerly turned upon him, those of M'Lellan glaring like a
basilisk's. He began by the usual expressions of friendship, and
then proceeded to explain the object of his own party. Those
persons, however, said he, pointing to Mr. Hunt and his
companions, are of a different party, and are quite distinct in
their views; but, added he, though we are separate parties, we
make but one common cause when the safety of either is concerned.
Any injury or insult offered to them I shall consider as done to
myself, and will resent it accordingly. I trust, therefore, that
you will treat them with the same friendship that you have always
manifested for me, doing everything in your power to serve them
and to help them on their way. The speech of Lisa, delivered with
an air of frankness and sincerity, agreeably surprised and
disappointed the rival party.

Mr. Hunt then spoke, declaring the object of his journey to the
great Salt Lake beyond the mountains, and that he should want
horses for the purpose, for which he was ready to trade, having
brought with him plenty of goods. Both he and Lisa concluded
their speeches by making presents of tobacco.

The left-handed chieftain in reply promised his friendship and
aid to the new comers, and welcomed them to his village. He added
that they had not the number of horses to spare that Mr. Hunt
required, and expressed a doubt whether they should be able to
part with any. Upon this, another chieftain, called Gray Eyes,
made a speech, and declared that they could readily supply Mr.
Hunt with all the horses he might want, since, if they had not
enough in the village, they could easily steal more. This honest
expedient immediately removed the main difficulty; but the chief
deferred all trading for a day or two; until he should have time
to consult with his subordinate chiefs as to market rates; for
the principal chief of a village, in conjunction with his
council, usually fixes the prices at which articles shall be
bought and sold, and to them the village must conform.

The council now broke up. Mr. Hunt transferred his camp across
the river at a little distance below the village, and the left-
handed chief placed some of his warriors as a guard to prevent
the intrusion of any of his people. The camp was pitched on the
river bank just above the boats. The tents, and the men wrapped
in their blankets and bivouacking on skins in the open air,
surrounded the baggage at night. Four sentinels also kept watch
within sight of each other outside of the camp until midnight,
when they were relieved by four others who mounted guard until
daylight. Mr. Lisa encamped near to Mr. Hunt, between him and the

The speech of Mr. Lisa in the council had produced a pacific
effect in the encampment. Though the sincerity of his friendship
and good-will towards the new company still remained matter of
doubt, he was no longer suspected of an intention to play false.
The intercourse between the two leaders was therefore resumed,
and the affairs of both parties went on harmoniously.

                          CHAPTER XXI.
An Indian Horse Fair.- Love of the Indians for Horses- Scenes in
  the Arickara Village.-Indian Hospitality.- Duties of Indian
   Women. Game Habits of the Men.-Their  Indolence.-Love of
Gossiping. - Rumors of Lurking Enemies.- Scouts.- An Alarm.-A
Sallying Forth. -Indian Dogs.-Return of a Horse-Stealing Party.-
An Indian Deputation.-Fresh Alarms.-Return of a Successful War
Party.-Dress of the Arickaras.- Indian Toilet.- Triumphal Entry
of the War Party. - Meetings of Relations and Friends.-Indian
  Sensibility.- Meeting of a Wounded Warrior and His Mother.-
                 Festivities and Lamentations.

A TRADE now commenced with the Arickaras under the regulation and
supervision of their two chieftains. Lisa sent a part of his
goods to the lodge of the left-handed dignitary, and Mr. Hunt
established his mart in the lodge of the Big Man. The village
soon presented the appearance of a busy fair; and as horses were
in demand, the purlieus and the adjacent plain were like the
vicinity of a Tartar encampment; horses were put through all
their paces, and horsemen were careering about with that
dexterity and grace for which the Arickaras are noted. As soon as
a horse was purchased, his tail was cropped, a sure mode of
distinguishing him from the horses of the tribe; for the Indians
disdain to practice this absurd, barbarous, and indecent
mutilation, invented by some mean and vulgar mind, insensible to
the merit and perfections of the animal. On the contrary, the
Indian horses are suffered to remain in every respect the superb
and beautiful animals which nature formed them.

The wealth of an Indian of the far west consists principally in
his horses, of which each chief and warrior possesses a great
number, so that the plains about an Indian village or encampment
are covered with them. These form objects of traffic, or objects
of depredation, and in this way pass from tribe to tribe over
great tracts of country. The horses owned by the Arickaras are,
for the most part, of the wild stock of the prairies; some,
however, had been obtained from the Poncas, Pawnees, and other
tribes to the southwest, who had stolen them from the Spaniards
in the course of horse-stealing expeditions into Mexican
territories. These were to be known by being branded; a Spanish
mode of marking horses not practiced by the Indians.

As the Arickaras were meditating another expedition against their
enemies the Sioux, the articles of traffic most in demand were
guns, tomahawks, scalping-knives, powder, ball, and other
munitions of war. The price of a horse, as regulated by the
chiefs, was commonly ten dollars' worth of goods at first cost.
To supply the demand thus suddenly created, parties of young men
and braves had sallied forth on expeditions to steal horses; a
species of service among the Indians which takes precedence of
hunting, and is considered a department of honorable warfare.

While the leaders of the expedition were actively engaged in
preparing for the approaching journey, those who had accompanied
it for curiosity or amusement, found ample matter for observation
in the village and its inhabitants. Wherever they went they were
kindly entertained. If they entered a lodge, the buffalo robe was
spread before the fire for them to sit down; the pipe was
brought, and while the master of the lodge conversed with his
guests, the squaw put the earthen vessel over the fire well
filled with dried buffalo-meat and pounded corn; for the Indian
in his native state, before he has mingled much with white men,
and acquired their sordid habits, has the hospitality of the
Arab: never does a stranger enter his door without having food
placed before him; and never is the food thus furnished made a
matter of traffic.

The life of an Indian when at home in his village is a life of
indolence and amusement. To the woman is consigned the labors of
the household and the field; she arranges the lodge; brings wood
for the fire; cooks; jerks venison and buffalo meat; dresses the
skins of the animals killed in the chase; cultivates the little
patch of maize, pumpkins, and pulse, which furnishes a great part
of their provisions. Their time for repose and recreation is at
sunset, when the labors of the day being ended, they gather
together to amuse themselves with petty games, or to hold
gossiping convocations on the tops of their lodges.

As to the Indian, he is a game animal, not to be degraded by
useful or menial toil. It is enough that he exposes himself to
the hardships of the chase and the perils of war; that he brings
home food for his family, and watches and fights for its
protection. Everything else is beneath his attention. When at
home, he attends only to his weapons and his horses, preparing
the means of future exploit. Or he engages with his comrades in
games of dexterity, agility and strength; or in gambling games in
which everything is put at hazard with a recklessness seldom
witnessed in civilized life.

A great part of the idle leisure of the Indians when at home is
passed in groups, squatted together on the bank of a river, on
the top of a mound on the prairie, or on the roof of one of their
earth-covered lodges, talking over the news of the day, the
affairs of the tribe, the events and exploits of their last
hunting or fighting expedition; or listening to the stories of
old times told by some veteran chronicler; resembling a group of
our village quidnuncs and politicians, listening to the prosings
of some superannuated oracle, or discussing the contents of an
ancient newspaper.

As to the Indian women, they are far from complaining of their
lot. On the contrary, they would despise their husbands could
they stoop to any menial office, and would think it conveyed an
imputation upon their own conduct. It is the worst insult one
virago can cast upon another in a moment of altercation.
"Infamous woman!" will she cry, "I have seen your husband
carrying wood into his lodge to make the fire. Where was his
squaw, that he should be obliged to make a woman of himself! "

Mr. Hunt and his fellow-travellers had not been many days at the
Arickara village, when rumors began to circulate that the Sioux
had followed them up, and that a war party, four or five hundred
in number, were lurking somewhere in the neighborhood. These
rumors produced much embarrassment in the camp. The white hunters
were deterred from venturing forth in quest of game, neither did
the leaders think it proper to expose them to such a risk. The
Arickaras, too, who had suffered greatly in their wars with this
cruel and ferocious tribe, were roused to increased vigilance,
and stationed mounted scouts upon the neighboring hills. This,
however, is a general precaution among the tribes of the
prairies. Those immense plains present a horizon like the ocean,
so that any object of importance can be descried afar, and
information communicated to a great distance. The scouts are
stationed on the hills, therefore, to look out both for game and
for enemies, and are, in a manner, living telegraphs conveying
their intelligence by concerted signs. If they wish to give
notice of a herd of buffalo in the plain beyond, they gallop
backwards and forwards abreast, on the summit of the hill. If
they perceive an enemy at hand, they gallop to and fro, crossing
each other; at sight of which the whole village flies to arms.

Such an alarm was given in the afternoon of the 15th. Four scouts
were seen crossing and recrossing each other at full gallop, on
the summit of a hill about two miles distant down the river. The
cry was up that the Sioux were coming. In an instant the village
was in an uproar. Men, women, and children were all brawling and
shouting; dogs barking, yelping, and howling. Some of the
warriors ran for the horses to gather and drive them in from the
prairie, some for their weapons. As fast as they could arm and
equip they sallied forth; some on horseback, some on foot. Some
hastily arrayed in their war dress, with coronets of fluttering
feathers, and their bodies smeared with paint; others naked and
only furnished with the weapons they had snatched up. The women
and children gathered on the tops of the lodges and heightened
the confusion of the scene by their vociferation. Old men who
could no longer bear arms took similar stations, and harangued
the warriors as they passed, exhorting them to valorous deeds.
Some of the veterans took arms themselves, and sallied forth with
tottering steps. In this way, the savage chivalry of the village
to the number of five hundred, poured forth, helter-skelter,
riding and running, with hideous yells and war-whoops, like so
many bedlamites or demoniacs let loose.

After a while the tide of war rolled back, but with far less
uproar. Either it had been a false alarm, or the enemy had
retreated on finding themselves discovered, and quiet was
restored to the village. The white hunters continuing to be
fearful of ranging this dangerous neighborhood, fresh provisions
began to be scarce in the camp. As a substitute, therefore, for
venison and buffalo meat, the travellers had to purchase a number
of dogs to be shot and cooked for the supply of the camp.
Fortunately, however chary the Indians might be of their horses,
they were liberal of their dogs. In fact, these animals swarm
about an Indian village as they do about a Turkish town. Not a
family but has two or three dozen belonging to it, of all sizes
and colors; some of a superior breed are used for hunting;
others, to draw the sledge, while others, of a mongrel breed, and
idle vagabond nature, are fattened for food. They are supposed to
be descendant from the wolf, and retain something of his savage
but cowardly temper, howling rather than barking; showing their
teeth and snarling on the slightest provocation, but sneaking
away on the least attack.

The excitement of the village continued from day to day. On the
day following the alarm just mentioned, several parties arrived
from different directions, and were met and conducted by some of
the braves to the council lodge, where they reported the events
and success of their expeditions, whether of war or hunting;
which news was afterwards promulgated throughout the village, by
certain old men who acted as heralds or town criers. Among the
parties which arrived was one that had been among the Snake
nation stealing horses, and returned crowned with success. As
they passed in triumph through the village they were cheered by
the men, women, and children, collected as usual on the tops of
the lodges, and were exhorted by the Nesters of the village to be
generous in their dealings with the white men.

The evening was spent in feasting and rejoicing among the
relations of the successful warriors; but the sounds of grief and
wailing were heard from the hills adjacent to the village -the
lamentations of women who had lost some relative in the foray.

An Indian village is subject to continual agitations and
excitements. The next day arrived a deputation of braves from the
Cheyenne or Shienne nation; a broken tribe, cut up, like the
Arickaras, by wars with the Sioux, and driven to take refuge
among the Black Hills, near the sources of the Cheyenne River,
from which they derive their name. One of these deputies was
magnificently arrayed in a buffalo robe, on which various figures
were fancifully embroidered with split quills dyed red and
yellow; and the whole was fringed with the slender hoofs of young
fawns, that rattled as he walked.

The arrival of this deputation was the signal for another of
those ceremonials which occupy so much of Indian life; for no
being is more courtly and punctilious, and more observing of
etiquette and formality than an American savage.

The object of the deputation was to give notice of an intended
visit of the Shienne (or Cheyenne) tribe to the Arickara village
in the course of fifteen days. To this visit Mr. Hunt looked
forward to procure additional horses for his journey; all his
bargaining being ineffectual in obtaining a sufficient supply
from the Arickaras. Indeed, nothing could prevail upon the latter
to part with their prime horses, which had been trained to
buffalo hunting.

As Mr. Hunt would have to abandon his boats at this place, Mr.
Lisa now offered to purchase them, and such of his merchandise as
was superfluous, and to pay him in horses to be obtained at a
fort belonging to the Missouri Fur Company, situated at the
Mandan villages, about a hundred and fifty miles further up the
river. A bargain was promptly made, and Mr. Lisa and Mr. Crooks,
with several companions, set out for the fort to procure the
horses. They returned, after upwards of a fortnight's absence,
bringing with them the stipulated number of horses. Still the
cavalry was not sufficiently numerous to convey the party and
baggage and merchandise, and a few days more were required to
complete the arrangements for the journey.

On the 9th of July, just before daybreak, a great noise and
vociferation was heard in the village. This being the usual
Indian hour of attack and surprise, and the Sioux being known to
be in the neighborhood, the camp was instantly on the alert. As
the day broke Indians were descried in considerable number on the
bluffs, three or four miles down the river. The noise and
agitation in the village continued. The tops of the lodges were
crowded with the inhabitants, all earnestly looking towards the
hills, and keeping up a vehement chattering. Presently an Indian
warrior galloped past the camp towards the village, and in a
little while the legions began to pour forth.

The truth of the matter was now ascertained. The Indians upon the
distant hills were three hundred Arickara braves, returning home
from a foray. They had met the war party of Sioux who had been so
long hovering about the neighborhood, had fought them the day
before, killed several, and defeated the rest with the loss of
but two or three of their own men and about a dozen wounded; and
they were now halting at a distance until their comrades in the
village should come forth to meet them, and swell the parade of
their triumphal entry. The warrior who had galloped past the camp
was the leader of the party hastening home to give tidings of his

Preparations were now made for this great martial ceremony. All
the finery and equipments of the warriors were sent forth to
them, that they might appear to the greatest advantage. Those,
too, who had remained at home, tasked their wardrobes and toilets
to do honor to the procession.

The Arickaras generally go naked, but, like all savages, they
have their gala dress, of which they are not a little vain. This
usually consists of a gray surcoat and leggins of the dressed
skin of the antelope, resembling chamois leather, and embroidered
with porcupine quills brilliantly dyed. A buffalo robe is thrown
over the right shoulder, and across the left is slung a quiver of
arrows. They wear gay coronets of plumes, particularly those of
the swan; but the feathers of the black eagle are considered the
most worthy, being a sacred bird among the Indian warriors.

He who has killed an enemy in his own land, is entitled to drag
at his heels a fox-skin attached to each moccasin; and he who has
slain a grizzly bear, wears a necklace of his claws, the most
glorious trophy that a hunter can exhibit.

An Indian toilet is an operation of some toil and trouble; the
warrior often has to paint himself from head to foot, and is
extremely capricious and difficult to please, as to the hideous
distribution of streaks and colors. A great part of the morning,
therefore, passed away before there were any signs of the distant
pageant. In the meantime a profound stillness reigned over the
village. Most of the inhabitants had gone forth; others remained
in mute expectation. All sports and occupations were suspended,
excepting that in the lodges the painstaking squaws were silently
busied in preparing the repasts for the warriors.

It was near noon that a mingled sound of voices and rude music,
faintly heard from a distance, gave notice that the procession
was on the march. The old men and such of the squaws as could
leave their employments hastened forth to meet it. In a little
while it emerged from behind a hill, and had a wild and
picturesque appearance as it came moving over the summit in
measured step, and to the cadence of songs and savage
instruments; the warlike standards and trophies flaunting aloft,
and the feathers, and paint, and silver ornaments of the warriors
glaring and glittering in the sunshine.

The pageant had really something chivalrous in its arrangement.
The Arickaras are divided into several bands, each bearing the
name of some animal or bird, as the buffalo, the bear, the dog,
the pheasant. The present party consisted of four of these bands,
one of which was the dog, the most esteemed in war, being
composed of young men under thirty, and noted for prowess. It is
engaged in the most desperate occasions. The bands marched in
separate bodies under their several leaders. The warriors on foot
came first, in platoons of ten or twelve abreast; then the
horsemen. Each band bore as an ensign a spear or bow decorated
with beads, porcupine quills, and painted feathers. Each bore its
trophies of scalps, elevated on poles, their long black locks
streaming in the wind. Each was accompanied by its rude music and
minstrelsy . In this way the procession extended nearly a quarter
of a mile. The warriors were variously armed, some few with guns,
others with bows and arrows, and war clubs; all had shields of
buffalo hide, a kind of defense generally used by the Indians of
the open prairies, who have not the covert of trees and forests
to protect them. They were painted in the most savage style. Some
had the stamp of a red hand across their mouths, a sign that they
had drunk the life-blood of a foe!

As they drew near to the village the old men and the women began
to meet them, and now a scene ensued that proved the fallacy of
the old fable of Indian apathy and stoicism. Parents and
children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters met with the
most rapturous expressions of joy; while wailings and
lamentations were heard from the relatives of the killed and
wounded. The procession, however, continued on with slow and
measured step, in cadence to the solemn chant, and the warriors
maintained their fixed and stern demeanor.

Between two of the principal chiefs rode a young warrior who had
distinguished himself in the battle. He was severely wounded, so
as with difficulty to keep on his horse; but he preserved a
serene and steadfast countenance, as if perfectly unharmed. His
mother had heard of his condition. She broke through the throng,
and rushing up, threw her arms around him and wept aloud. He kept
up the spirit and demeanor of a warrior to the last, but expired
shortly after he had reached his home.

The village was now a scene of the utmost festivity and triumph.
The banners, and trophies, and scalps, and painted shields were
elevated on poles near the lodges. There were warfeasts, and
scalp-dances, with warlike songs and savage music; all the
inhabitants were arrayed in their festal dresses; while the old
heralds went round from lodge to lodge, promulgating with loud
voices the events of the battle and the exploits of the various

Such was the boisterous revelry of the village; but sounds of
another kind were heard on the surrounding hills; piteous
wailings of the women, who had retired thither to mourn in
darkness and solitude for those who had fallen in battle. There
the poor mother of the youthful warrior who had returned home in
triumph but to die, gave full vent to the anguish of a mother's
heart. How much does this custom among the Indian woman of
repairing to the hilltops in the night, and pouring forth their
wailings for the dead, call to mind the beautiful and affecting
passage of Scripture, "In Rama was there a voice heard,
lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for
her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. "

                         CHAPTER XXII.
  Wilderness of the Far West.- Great American Desert- Parched
Seasons. -Black Hills.- Rocky Mountains.- Wandering and Predatory
  Hordes. -Speculations on What May Be the Future Population.-
Apprehended Dangers.-A Plot to Desert.-Rose the Interpreter.- His
    Sinister Character- Departure From the Arickara Village.

WHILE Mr. Hunt was diligently preparing for his arduous journey,
some of his men began to lose heart at the perilous prospect
before them; but before we accuse them of want of spirit, it is
proper to consider the nature of the wilderness into which they
were about to adventure. It was a region almost as vast and
trackless as the ocean, and, at the time of which we treat, but
little known, excepting through the vague accounts of Indian
hunters. A part of their route would lay across an immense tract,
stretching north and south for hundreds of miles along the foot
of the Rocky Mountains, and drained by the tributary streams of
the Missouri and the Mississippi. This region, which resembles
one of the immeasurable steppes of Asia, has not inaptly been
termed "the great American desert." It spreads forth into
undulating and treeless plains, and desolate sandy wastes
wearisome to the eye from their extent and monotony, and which
are supposed by geologists to have formed the ancient floor of
the ocean, countless ages since, when its primeval waves beat
against the granite bases of the Rocky Mountains.

It is a land where no man permanently abides; for, in certain
seasons of the year there is no food either for the hunter or his
steed. The herbage is parched and withered; the brooks and
streams are dried up; the buffalo, the elk and the deer have
wandered to distant parts, keeping within the verge of expiring
verdure, and leaving behind them a vast uninhabited solitude,
seamed by ravines, the beds of former torrents, but now serving
only to tantalize and increase the thirst of the traveller.

Occasionally the monotony of this vast wilderness is interrupted
by mountainous belts of sand and limestone, broken into confused
masses; with precipitous cliffs and yawning ravines, looking like
the ruins of a world; or is traversed by lofty and barren ridges
of rock, almost impassable, like those denominated the Black
Hills. Beyond these rise the stern barriers of the Rocky
Mountains, the limits, as it were, of the Atlantic world. The
rugged defiles and deep valleys of this vast chain form
sheltering places for restless and ferocious bands of savages,
many of them the remnants of tribes, once inhabitants of the
prairies, but broken up by war and violence, and who carry into
their mountain haunts the fierce passions and reckless habits of

Such is the nature of this immense wilderness of the far West;
which apparently defies cultivation, and the habitation of
civilized life. Some portions of it along the rivers may
partially be subdued by agriculture, others may form vast
pastoral tracts, like those of the East; but it is to be feared
that a great part of it will form a lawless interval between the
abodes of civilized man, like the wastes of the ocean or the
deserts of Arabia; and, like them, be subject to the depredations
of the marauder. Here may spring up new and mongrel races, like
new formations in geology, the amalgamation of the "debris" and
"abrasions" of former races, civilized and savage; the remains of
broken and almost extinguished tribes; the descendants of
wandering hunters and trappers; of fugitives from the Spanish and
American frontiers; of adventurers and desperadoes of every class
and country, yearly ejected from the bosom of society into the
wilderness. We are contributing incessantly to swell this
singular and heterogeneous cloud of wild population that is to
hang about our frontier, by the transfer of whole tribes from the
east of the Mississippi to the great wastes of the far West. Many
of these bear with them the smart of real or fancied injuries;
many consider themselves expatriated beings, wrongfully exiled
from their hereditary homes, and the sepulchres of their fathers,
and cherish a deep and abiding animosity against the race that
has dispossessed them. Some may gradually become pastoral hordes,
like those rude and migratory people, half shepherd, half
warrior, who, with their flocks and herds, roam the plains of
upper Asia; but others, it is to be apprehended, will become
predatory bands, mounted on the fleet steeds of the prairies,
with the open plains for their marauding grounds, and the
mountains for their retreats and lurking-places. Here they may
resemble those great hordes of the North, "Gog and Magog with
their bands," that haunted the gloomy imaginations of the
prophets. "A great company and a mighty host, all riding upon
horses, and warring upon those nations which were at rest, and
dwelt peaceably, and had gotten cattle and goods."

The Spaniards changed the whole character and habits of the
Indians when they brought the horse among them. In Chili,
Tucuman, and other parts, it has converted them, we are told,
into Tartar-like tribes, and enabled them to keep the Spaniards
out of their country, and even to make it dangerous for them to
venture far from their towns and settlements. Are we not in
danger of producing some such state of things in the boundless
regions of the far West? That these are not mere fanciful and
extravagant suggestions we have sufficient proofs in the dangers
already experienced by the traders to the Spanish mart of Santa
Fe, and to the distant posts of the fur companies. These are
obliged to proceed in armed caravans, and are subject to
murderous attacks from bands of Pawnees, Camanches, and
Blackfeet, that come scouring upon them in their weary march
across the plains, or lie in wait for them among the passes of
the mountains.

We are wandering, however, into excursive speculations, when our
intention was merely to give an idea of the nature of the
wilderness which Mr. Hunt was about to traverse; and which at
that time was far less known than at present; though it still
remains in a great measure an unknown land. We cannot be
surprised, therefore, that some of the resolute of his party
should feel dismay at the thoughts of adventuring into this
perilous wilderness under the uncertain guidance of three
hunters, who had merely passed once through the country and might
have forgotten the landmarks. Their apprehensions were aggravated
by some of Lisa's followers, who, not being engaged in the
expedition, took a mischievous pleasure in exaggerating its
dangers. They painted in strong colors, to the poor Canadian
voyageurs, the risk they would run of perishing with hunger and
thirst; of being cut off by war-parties of the Sioux who scoured
the plains; of having their horses stolen by the Upsarokas or
Crows, who infested the skirts of the Rocky Mountains; or of
being butchered by the Blackfeet, who lurked among the defiles.
In a word, there was little chance of their getting alive across
the mountains; and even if they did, those three guides knew
nothing of the howling wilderness that lay beyond.

The apprehensions thus awakened in the minds of some of the men
came well-nigh proving detrimental to the expedition. Some of
them determined to desert, and to make their way back to St.
Louis. They accordingly purloined several weapons and a barrel of
gunpowder, as ammunition for their enterprise, and buried them in
the river bank, intending to seize one of the boats, and make off
in the night. Fortunately their plot was overheard by John Day,
the Kentuckian, and communicated to the partners, who took quiet
and effectual means to frustrate it.

The dangers to be apprehended from the Crow Indians had not been
overrated by the camp gossips. These savages, through whose
mountain haunts the party would have to pass, were noted for
daring and excursive habits, and great dexterity in horse
stealing. Mr. Hunt, therefore, considered himself fortunate in
having met with a man who might be of great use to him in any
intercourse he might have with the tribe. This was a wandering
individual named Edward Rose, whom he had picked up somewhere on
the Missouri - one of those anomalous beings found on the
frontier, who seem to have neither kin nor country. He had lived
some time among the Crows, so as to become acquainted with their
language and customs; and was, withal, a dogged, sullen, silent
fellow, with a sinister aspect, and more of the savage than the
civilized man in his appearance. He was engaged to serve in
general as a hunter, but as guide and interpreter when they
should reach the country of the Crows.

On the 18th of July, Mr. Hunt took up his line of march by land
from the Arickara village, leaving Mr. Lisa and Mr. Nuttall
there, where they intended to await the expected arrival of Mr.
Henry from the Rocky Mountains. As to Messrs. Bradbury and
Breckenridge, they had departed some days previously, on a voyage
down the river to St. Louis, with a detachment from Mr. Lisa's
party. With all his exertions, Mr. Hunt had been unable to obtain
a sufficient number of horses for the accommodation of all his
people. His cavalcade consisted of eighty-two horses, most of
them heavily laden with Indian goods, beaver traps, ammunition,
Indian corn, corn meal and other necessaries. Each of the
partners was mounted, and a horse was allotted to the
interpreter, Pierre Dorion, for the transportation of his luggage
and his two children. His squaw, for the most part of the time,
trudged on foot, like the residue of the party; nor did any of
the men show more patience and fortitude than this resolute woman
in enduring fatigue and hardship.

The veteran trappers and voyageurs of Lisa's party shook their
heads as their comrades set out, and took leave of them as of
doomed men; and even Lisa himself gave it as his opinion, after
the travellers had departed, they would never reach the shores of
the Pacific, but would either perish with hunger in the
wilderness, or be cut off by the savages.

                         CHAPTER XXIII.
   Summer Weather of the Prairies.- Purity of the Atmosphere-
  Canadians on the March.- Sickness in the Camp.- Big River.-
  Vulgar Nomenclature.- Suggestions About the Original Indian
Names.- Camp of Cheyennes.- Trade for Horses.- Character of the
  Cheyennes.- Their Horsemanship.- Historical Anecdotes of the

THE course taken by Mr. Hunt was at first to the northwest, but
soon turned and kept generally to the southwest, to avoid the
country infested by the Blackfeet. His route took him across some
of the tributary streams of the Missouri, and over immense
prairies, bounded only by the horizon, and destitute of trees. It
was now the height of summer, and these naked plains would be
intolerable to the traveller were it not for the breezes which
swept over them during the fervor of the day, bringing with them
tempering airs from the distant mountains. To the prevalence of
these breezes, and to the want of all leafy covert, may we also
attribute the freedom from those flies and other insects so
tormenting to man and beast during the summer months, in the
lower plains, which are bordered and interspersed with woodland.

The monotony of these immense landscapes, also, would be as
wearisome as that of the ocean, were it not relieved in some
degree by the purity and elasticity  of the atmosphere, and the
beauty of the heavens. The sky has that delicious blue for which
the sky of Italy is renowned; the sun shines with a splendor
unobscured by any cloud or vapor, and a starlight night on the
prairies is glorious. This purity and elasticity of atmosphere
increases as the traveller approaches the mountains and gradually
rises into more elevated prairies.

On the second day of the journey, Mr. Hunt arranged the party
into small and convenient messes, distributing among them the
camp kettles. The encampments at night were as before; some
sleeping under tents, and others bivouacking in the open air. The
Canadians proved as patient of toll and hardship on the land as
on the water; indeed, nothing could surpass the patience and
good-humor of these men upon the march. They were the cheerful
drudges of the party, loading and unloading the horses, pitching
the tents, making the fires, cooking; in short, performing all
those household and menial offices which the Indians usually
assign to the squaws; and, like the squaws, they left all the
hunting and fighting to others. A Canadian has but little
affection for the exercise of the rifle.

The progress of the party was but slow for the first few days.
Some of the men were indisposed; Mr. Crooks, especially, was so
unwell that he could not keep on his horse. A rude kind of litter
was, therefore, prepared for him, consisting of two long poles,
fixed, one on each side of two horses, with a matting between
them, on which he reclined at full length, and was protected from
the sun by a canopy of boughs.

On the evening of the 23d (July) they encamped on the banks of
what they term Big River; and here we cannot but pause to lament
the stupid, commonplace, and often ribald names entailed upon the
rivers and other features of the great West, by traders and
settlers. As the aboriginal tribes of these magnificent regions
are yet in existence, the Indian names might easily be recovered;
which, besides being in general more sonorous and musical, would
remain mementoes of the primitive lords of the soil, of whom in a
little while scarce any traces will be left. Indeed, it is to be
wished that the whole of our country could be rescued, as much as
possible, from the wretched nomenclature inflicted upon it, by
ignorant and vulgar minds; and thismight be done, in a great
degree, by restoring the Indian names, wherever significant and
euphonious. As there appears to be a spirit of research abroad in
respect to our aboriginal antiquities, we would suggest, as a
worthy object of enterprise, a map, or maps, of every part of our
country, giving the Indian names wherever they could be
ascertained. Whoever achieves such an object worthily, will leave
a monument to his own reputation.

To return from this digression. As the travellers were now in a
country abounding with buffalo, they remained for several days
encamped upon the banks of Big River, to obtain a supply of
provisions, and to give the invalids time to recruit.

On the second day of their sojourn, as Ben Jones, John Day, and
others of the hunters were in pursuit of game, they came upon an
Indian camp on the open prairie, near to a small stream which ran
through a ravine. The tents or lodges were of dressed buffalo
skins, sewn together and stretched on tapering pine poles, joined
at top, but radiating at bottom, so as to form a circle capable
of admitting fifty persons. Numbers of horses were grazing in the
neighborhood of the camp, or straying at large in the prairie; a
sight most acceptable to the hunters. After reconnoitering the
camp for some time, they ascertained it to belong to a band of
Cheyenne Indians, the same that had sent a deputation to the
Arickaras. They received the hunters in the most friendly manner;
invited them to their lodges, which were more cleanly than Indian
lodges are prone to be, and set food before them with true
uncivilized hospitality. Several of them accompanied the hunters
back to the camp, when a trade was immediately opened. The
Cheyennes were astonished and delighted to find a convoy of goods
and trinkets thus brought into the very heart of the prairie;
while Mr. Hunt and his companions were overjoyed to have an
opportunity of obtaining a further supply of horses from these
equestrian savages.

During a fortnight that the travellers lingered at this place,
their encampment was continually thronged by the Cheyennes. They
were a civil, well-behaved people, cleanly in their persons, and
decorous in their habits. The men were tall, straight and
vigorous, with aquiline noses, and high cheek bones. Some were
almost as naked as ancient statues, and might have stood as
models for a statuary; others had leggins and moccasins of deer
skin, and buffalo robes, which they threw gracefully over their
shoulders. In a little while, however, they began to appear in
more gorgeous array, tricked out in the finery obtained from the
white men; bright cloths, brass rings, beads of various colors;
and happy was he who could render himself hideous with vermilion.

The travellers had frequent occasions to admire the skill and
grace with which these Indians managed their horses. Some of them
made a striking display when mounted; themselves and their steeds
decorated in gala style; for the Indians often bestow more finery
upon their horses than upon themselves. Some would hang around
the necks, or rather on the breasts of their horses, the most
precious ornaments they had obtained from the white men; others
interwove feathers in their manes and tails. The Indian horses,
too, appear to have an attachment to their wild riders, and
indeed, it is said that the horses of the prairies readily
distinguish an Indian from a white man by the smell, and give a
preference to the former. Yet the Indians, in general, are hard
riders, and, however they may value their horses, treat them with
great roughness and neglect. Occasionally the Cheyennes joined
the white hunters in pursuit of the elk and buffalo; and when in
the ardor of the chase, spared neither themselves nor their
steeds, scouring the prairies at full speed, and plunging down
precipices and frightful ravines that threatened the necks of
both horse and horseman. The Indian steed, well trained to the
chase, seems as mad as the rider, and pursues the game as eagerly
as if it were his natural prey, on the flesh of which he was to

The history of the Cheyennes is that of many of those wandering
tribes of the prairies. They were the remnant of a once powerful
people called the Shaways, inhabiting a branch of the Red River
which flows into Lake Winnipeg. Every Indian tribe has some rival
tribe with which it wages implacable hostility. The deadly
enemies of the Shaways were the Sioux, who, after a long course
of warfare, proved too powerful for them, and drove them across
the Missouri. They again took root near the Warricanne Creek, and
established themselves there in a fortified village.

The Sioux still followed with deadly animosity ; dislodged them
from their village, and compelled them to take refuge in the
Black Hills, near the upper waters of the Sheyenne or Cheyenne
River. Here they lost even their name, and became known among the
French colonists by that of the river they frequented.

The heart of the tribe was now broken; its numbers were greatly
thinned by their harassing wars. They no longer attempted to
establish themselves in any permanent abode that might be an
object of attack to their cruel foes. They gave up the
cultivation of the fruits of the earth, and became a wandering
tribe, subsisting by the chase, and following the buffalo in its

Their only possessions were horses, which they caught on the
prairies, or reared, or captured on predatory incursions into the
Mexican territories, as has already been mentioned. With some of
these they repaired once a year to the Arickara villages,
exchanged them for corn, beans, pumpkins, and articles of
European merchandise, and then returned into the heart of the

Such are the fluctuating fortunes of these savage nations. War,
famine, pestilence, together or singly, bring down their strength
and thin their numbers. Whole tribes are rooted up from their
native places, wander for a time about these immense regions,
become amalgamated with other tribes, or disappear from the face
of the earth. There appears to be a tendency to extinction among
all the savage nations; and this tendency would seem to have been
in operation among the aboriginals of this country long before
the advent of the white men, if we may judge from the traces and
traditions of ancient populousness in regions which were silent
and deserted at the time of the discovery; and from the
mysterious and perplexing vestiges of unknown races, predecessors
of those found in actual possession, and who must long since have
become gradually extinguished or been destroyed. The whole
history of the aboriginal population of this country, however, is
an enigma, and a grand one - will it ever be solved?

                         CHAPTER XXIV.
New Distribution of Horses- Secret Information of Treason in the
Camp.- Rose the Interpreter- His Perfidious Character- His Plots.
-Anecdotes of the Crow Indians.- Notorious Horse Stealers.- Some
         Account of Rose.- A Desperado of the Frontier.

0N the sixth of August the travellers bade farewell to the
friendly band of Cheyennes, and resumed their journey. As they
had obtained thirty-six additional horses by their recent
traffic, Mr. Hunt made a new arrangement. The baggage was made up
in smaller loads. A horse was allotted to each of the six prime
hunters, and others were distributed among the voyageurs, a horse
for every two, so that they could ride and walk alternately. Mr.
Crooks being still too feeble to mount the saddle, was carried on
a litter.

Their march this day lay among singular hills and knolls of an
indurated red earth, resembling brick, about the bases of which
were scattered pumice stones and cinders, the whole bearing
traces of the action of fire. In the evening they encamped on a
branch of Big River.

They were now out of the tract of country infested by the Sioux,
and had advanced such a distance into the interior that Mr. Hunt
no longer felt apprehensive of the desertion of any of his men.
He was doomed, however, to experience new cause of anxiety. As he
was seated in his tent after nightfall, one of the men came to
him privately, and informed him that there was mischief brewing
in the camp. Edward Rose, the interpreter, whose sinister looks
we have already mentioned, was denounced by this secret informer
as a designing, treacherous scoundrel, who was tampering with the
fidelity of certain of the men, and instigating them to a
flagrant piece of treason. In the course of a few days they would
arrive at the mountainous district infested by the Upsarokas or
Crows, the tribe among which Rose was to officiate as
interpreter. His plan was that several of the men should join
with him, when in that neighborhood, in carrying off a number of
the horses with their packages of goods, and deserting to those
savages. He assured them of good treatment among the Crows, the
principal chiefs and warriors of whom he knew; they would soon
become great men among them, and have the finest women, and the
daughters of the chiefs for wives; and the horses and goods they
carried off would make them rich for life.

The intelligence of this treachery on the part of Rose gave much
disquiet to Mr. Hunt, for he knew not how far it might be
effective among his men. He had already had proofs that several
of them were disaffected to the enterprise, and loath to cross
the mountains. He knew also that savage life had charms for many
of them, especially the Canadians, who were prone to intermarry
and domesticate themselves among the Indians.

And here a word or two concerning the Crows may be of service to
the reader, as they will figure occasionally in the succeeding

The tribe consists of four bands, which have their nestling-
places in fertile, well-wooded valleys, lying among the Rocky
Mountains, and watered by the Big Horse River and its tributary
streams; but, though these are properly their homes, where they
shelter their old people, their wives, and their children, the
men of the tribe are almost continually on the foray and the
scamper. They are, in fact, notorious marauders and horse-
stealers; crossing and re-crossing the mountains, robbing on the
one side, and conveying their spoils to the other. Hence, we are
told, is derived their name, given to them on account of their
unsettled and predatory habits; winging their flight, like the
crows, from one side of the mountains to the other, and making
free booty of everything that lies in their way. Horses, however,
are the especial objects of their depredations, and their skill
and audacity in stealing them are said to be astonishing. This is
their glory and delight; an accomplished horse-stealer fills up
their idea of a hero. Many horses are obtained by them, also, in
barter from tribes in and beyond the mountains. They have an
absolute passion for this noble animal; besides which he is with
them an important object of traffic. Once a year they make a
visit to the Mandans, Minatarees, and other tribes of the
Missouri, taking with them droves of horses which they exchange
for guns, ammunition, trinkets, vermilion, cloths of bright
colors, and various other articles of European manufacture. With
these they supply their own wants and caprices, and carry on the
internal trade for horses already mentioned.

The plot of Rose to rob and abandon his countrymen when in the
heart of the wilderness, and to throw himself into the hands of
savages, may appear strange and improbable to those unacquainted
with the singular and anomalous characters that are to be found
about the borders. This fellow, it appears, was one of those
desperadoes of the frontiers, outlawed by their crimes, who
combine the vices of civilized and savage life, and are ten times
more barbarous than the Indians with whom they consort. Rose had
formerly belonged to one of the gangs of pirates who infested the
islands of the Mississippi, plundering boats as they went up and
down the river, and who sometimes shifted the scene of their
robberies to the shore, waylaying travellers as they returned by
land from New Orleans with the proceeds of their downward voyage,
plundering them of their money and effects, and often
perpetrating the most atrocious murders.

These hordes of villains being broken up and dispersed, Rose had
betaken himself to the wilderness, and associated himself with
the Crows, whose predatory habits were congenial with his own,
had married a woman of the tribe, and, in short, had identified
himself with those vagrant savages.

Such was the worthy guide and interpreter, Edward Rose. We give
his story, however, not as it was known to Mr. Hunt and his
companions at the time, but as it has been subsequently
ascertained. Enough was known of the fellow and his dark and
perfidious character to put Mr. Hunt upon his guard: still, as
there was no knowing how far his plans might have succeeded, and
as any rash act might blow the mere smouldering sparks of treason
into a sudden blaze, it was thought advisable by those with whom
Mr. Hunt consulted, to conceal all knowledge or suspicion of the
meditated treachery, but to keep up a vigilant watch upon the
movements of Rose, and a strict guard upon the horses at night.

                          CHAPTER XXV.
Substitute for Fuel on the Prairies.- Fossil Trees.- Fierceness
of the Buffaloes When in Heat.- Three Hunters Missing.- Signal
Fires and Smokes.- Uneasiness Concerning the Lost Men.- A Plan to
Forestall a Rogue.- New Arrangement With Rose.- Return of the

THE plains over which the travellers were journeying continued to
be destitute of trees or even shrubs; insomuch that they had to
use the dung of the buffalo for fuel, as the Arabs of the desert
use that of the camel. This substitute for fuel is universal
among the Indians of these upper prairies, and is said to make a
fire equal to that of turf. If a few chips are added, it throws
out a cheerful and kindly blaze.

These plains, however, had not always been equally destitute of
wood, as was evident from the trunks of the trees which the
travellers repeatedly met with, some still standing, others lying
about in broken fragments, but all in a fossil state, having
flourished in times long past. In these singular remains, the
original grain of the wood was still so distinct that they could
be ascertained to be the ruins of oak trees. Several pieces of
the fossil wood were selected by the men to serve as whetstones.

In this part of the journey there was no lack of provisions, for
the prairies were covered with immense herds of buffalo. These,
in general, are animals of peaceful demeanor, grazing quietly
like domestic cattle; but this was the season when they are in
heat, and when the bulls are usually fierce and pugnacious. There
was accordingly a universal restlessness and commotion throughout
the plain; and the amorous herds gave utterance to their feelings
in low bellowings that resounded like distant thunder. Here and
there fierce duellos took place between rival enamorados; butting
their huge shagged fronts together, goring each other with their
short black horns, and tearing up the earth with their feet in
perfect fury.

In one of the evening halts, Pierre Dorion, the interpreter,
together with Carson and Gardpie, two of the hunters, were
missing, nor had they returned by morning. As it was supposed
they had wandered away in pursuit of buffalo, and would readily
find the track of the party, no solicitude was felt on their
account. A fire was left burning, to guide them by its column of
smoke, and the travellers proceeded on their march. In the
evening a signal fire was made on a hill adjacent to the camp,
and in the morning it was replenished with fuel so as to last
throughout the day. These signals are usual among the Indians, to
give warnings to each other, or to call home straggling hunters;
and such is the transparency of the atmosphere in those elevated
plains, that a slight column of smoke can be discerned from a
great distance, particularly in the evenings. Two or three days
elapsed, however, without the reappearance of the three hunters;
and Mr. Hunt slackened his march to give them time to overtake

A vigilant watch continued to be kept upon the movements of Rose,
and of such of the men as were considered doubtful in their
loyalty; but nothing occurred to excite immediate apprehensions.
Rose evidently was not a favorite among his comrades, and it was
hoped that he had not been able to make any real partisans.

On the 10th of August they encamped among hills, on the highest
peak of which Mr. Hunt caused a huge pyre of pine wood to be
made, which soon sent up a great column of flame that might be
seen far and wide over the prairies. This fire blazed all night,
and was amply replenished at daybreak; so that the towering
pillar of smoke could not but be descried by the wanderers if
within the distance of a day's journey.

It is a common occurrence in these regions, where the features of
the country so much resemble each other, for hunters to lose
themselves and wander for many days, before they can find their
way back to the main body of their party. In the present
instance, however, a more than common solicitude was felt, in
consequence of the distrust awakened by the sinister designs of

The route now became excessively toilsome, over a ridge of steep
rocky hills, covered with loose stones. These were intersected by
deep valleys, formed by two branches of Big River, coming from
the south of west, both of which they crossed. These streams were
bordered by meadows, well stocked with buffaloes. Loads of meat
were brought in by the hunters; but the travellers were rendered
dainty by profusion, and would cook only the choice pieces.

They had now travelled for several days at a very slow rate, and
had made signal-fires and left traces of their route at every
stage, yet nothing was heard or seen of the lost men. It began to
be feared that they might have fallen into the hands of some
lurking band of savages. A party numerous as that of Mr. Hunt,
with a long train of pack horses, moving across plains or naked
hills, is discoverable at a great distance by Indian scouts, who
spread the intelligence rapidly to various points, and assemble
their friends to hang about the skirts of the travellers, steal
their horses, or cut off any stragglers from the main body.

Mr. Hunt and his companions were more and more sensible how much
it would be in the power of this sullen and daring vagabond Rose,
to do them mischief, when they should become entangled in the
defiles of the mountains, with the passes of which they were
wholly unacquainted, and which were infested by his freebooting
friends, the Crows. There, should he succeed in seducing some of
the party into his plans, he might carry off the best horses and
effects, throw himself among his savage allies, and set all
pursuit at defiance. Mr. Hunt resolved, therefore, to frustrate
the knave, divert him, by management, from his plans, and make it
sufficiently advantageous for him to remain honest.

He took occasion, accordingly, in the course of conversation, to
inform Rose that, having engaged him chiefly as a guide and
interpreter through the country of the Crows, they would not
stand in need of his services beyond. Knowing, therefore, his
connection by marriage with that tribe, and his predilection for
a residence among them, they would put no restraint upon his
will, but, whenever they met with a party of that people, would
leave him at liberty to remain among his adopted brethren.
Furthermore, that, in thus parting with him, they would pay him a
half a year's wages in consideration of his past services, and
would give him a horse, three beaver traps, and sundry other
articles calculated to set him up in the world.

This unexpected liberality, which made it nearly as profitable
and infinitely less hazardous for Rose to remain honest than to
play the rogue, completely disarmed him. From that time his whole
deportment underwent a change. His brow cleared up and appeared
more cheerful; he left off his sullen, skulking habits, and made
no further attempts to tamper with the faith of his comrades.

On the 13th of August Mr. Hunt varied his course, and inclined
westward, in hopes of falling in with the three lost hunters;
who, it was now thought, might have kept to the right hand of Big
River. This course soon brought him to a fork of the Little
Missouri, about a hundred yards wide, and resembling the great
river of the same name in the strength of its current, its turbid
water, and the frequency of drift-wood and sunken trees.

Rugged mountains appeared ahead, crowding down to the water edge,
and offering a barrier to further progress on the side they were
ascending. Crossing the river, therefore, they encamped on its
northwest bank, where they found good pasturage and buffalo in
abundance. The weather was overcast and rainy, and a general
gloom pervaded the camp; the voyageurs sat smoking in groups,
with their shoulders as high as their heads, croaking their
foreboding, when suddenly towards evening a shout of joy gave
notice that the lost men were found. They came slowly lagging
into camp, with weary looks, and horses jaded and wayworn. They
had, in fact, been for several days incessantly on the move. In
their hunting excursion on the prairies they had pushed so far in
pursuit of buffalo, as to find it impossible to retrace their
steps over plains trampled by innumerable herds; and were baffled
by the monotony of the landscape in their attempts to recall
landmarks. They had ridden to and fro until they had almost lost
the points of the compass, and became totally bewildered; nor did
they ever perceive any of the signal fires and columns of smoke
made by their comrades. At length, about two days previously,
when almost spent by anxiety and hard riding, they came, to their
great joy, upon the "trail" of the party, which they had since
followed up steadily.

Those only who have experienced the warm cordiality that grows up
between comrades in wild and adventurous expeditions of the kind,
can picture to themselves the hearty cheering with which the
stragglers were welcomed to the camp. Every one crowded round
them to ask questions, and to hear the story of their mishaps;
and even the squaw of the moody half-breed, Pierre Dorion, forgot
the sternness of his domestic rule, and the conjugal discipline
of the cudgel, in her joy at his safe return.

                         CHAPTER XXVI.
The Black Mountains.- Haunts of Predatory Indians.- Their Wild
and Broken Appearance.- Superstitions Concerning Them -  Thunder
Spirits.- Singular Noises in the Mountains- Secret Mines.-Hidden
   Treasures.- Mountains in Labor. - Scientific Explanation.-
Impassable Defiles.- Black-Tailed Deer.-The Bighorn or Ahsahta.-
  Prospect From a Lofty Height.- Plain With Herds of Buffalo.-
  Distant Peaks of the Rocky Mountains.- Alarms in the Camp.-
  Tracks of Grizzly Bears.- Dangerous Nature of This Animal.-
Adventures of William Cannon and John Day With Grizzly Bears.

MR. Hunt and his party were now on the skirts of the Black Hills,
or Black Mountains, as they are sometimes called; an extensive
chain, lying about a hundred miles east of the Rocky Mountains,
and stretching in a northeast direction from the south fork of
the Nebraska, or Platte River, to the great north bend of the
Missouri. The Sierra or ridge of the Black Hills, in fact, forms
the dividing line between the waters of the Missouri and those of
the Arkansas and the Mississippi, and gives rise to the Cheyenne,
the Little Missouri, and several tributary streams of the

The wild recesses of these hills, like those of the Rocky
Mountains, are retreats and lurking-places for broken and
predatory tribes, and it was among them that the remnants of the
Cheyenne tribe took refuge, as has been stated, from their
conquering enemies, the Sioux.

The Black Hills are chiefly composed of sandstone, and in many
places are broken into savage cliffs and precipices, and present
the most singular and fantastic forms; sometimes resembling towns
and castellated fortresses. The ignorant inhabitants of plains
are prone to clothe the mountains that bound their horizon with
fanciful and superstitious attributes. Thus the wandering tribes
of the prairies, who often behold clouds gathering round the
summits of these hills, and lightning flashing, and thunder
pealing from them, when all the neighboring plains are serene and
sunny, consider them the abode of the genii or thunder-spirits
who fabricate storms and tempests. On entering their defiles,
therefore, they often hang offerings on the trees, or place them
on the rocks, to propitiate the invisible "lords of the
mountains," and procure good weather and successful hunting; and
they attach unusual significance to the echoes which haunt the
precipices. This superstition may also have arisen, in part, from
a natural phenomenon of a singular nature. In the most calm and
serene weather, and at all times of the day or night, successive
reports are now and then heard among these mountains, resembling
the discharge of several pieces of artillery. Similar reports
were heard by Messrs. Lewis and Clarke in the Rocky Mountains,
which they say were attributed by the Indians to the bursting of
the rich mines of silver contained in the bosom of the mountains.

In fact, these singular explosions have received fanciful
explanations from learned men, and have not been satisfactorily
accounted for even by philosophers. They are said to occur
frequently in Brazil. Vasconcelles, Jesuit father, describes one
which he heard in the Sierra, or mountain region of Piratininga,
and which he compares to the discharges of a park of artillery.
The Indians told him that it was an explosion of stones. The
worthy father had soon a satisfactory proof of the truth of their
information, for the very place was found where a rock had burst
and exploded from its entrails a stony mass, like a bomb-shell,
and of the size of a bull's heart. This mass was broken either in
its ejection or its fall, and wonderful was the internal
organization revealed. It had a shell harder even than iron;
within which were arranged, like the seeds of a pomegranate,
jewels of various colors; some transparent as crystals; others of
a fine red, and others of mixed hues. The same phenomenon is said
to occur occasionally in the adjacent province of Guayra, where
stones of the bigness of a man's hand are exploded, with a loud
noise, from the bosom of the earth, and scatter about glittering
and beautiful fragments that look like precious gems, but are of
no value.

The Indians of the Orellanna, also, tell of horrible noises heard
occasionally in the Paraguaxo, which they consider the throes and
groans of the mountains, endeavoring to cast forth the precious
stones hidden within its entrails. Others have endeavored to
account for these discharges of "mountain artillery" on humbler
principles; attributing them to the loud reports made by the
disruption and fall of great masses of rock, reverberated and
prolonged by the echoes; others, to the disengagement of
hydrogen, produced by subterraneous beds of coal in a state of
ignition. In whatever way this singular phenomenon may be
accounted for, the existence of it appears to be well
established. It remains one of the lingering mysteries of nature
which throw something of a supernatural charm over her wild
mountain solitudes; and we doubt whether the imaginative reader
will not rather join with the poor Indian in attributing it to
the thunderspirits, or the guardian genii of unseen treasures,
than to any commonplace physical cause.

Whatever might be the supernatural influences among these
mountains, the travellers found their physical difficulties hard
to cope with. They made repeated attempts to find a passage
through or over the chain, but were as often turned back by
impassable barriers. Sometimes a defile seemed to open a
practicable path, but it would terminate in some wild chaos of
rocks and cliffs, which it was impossible to climb. The animals
of these solitary regions were different from those they had been
accustomed to. The black-tailed deer would bound up the ravines
on their approach, and the bighorn would gaze fearlessly down
upon them from some impending precipice, or skip playfully from
rock to rock. These animals are only to be met with in
mountainous regions. The former is larger than the common deer,
but its flesh is not equally esteemed by hunters. It has very
large ears, and the tip of the tail is black, from which it
derives its name.

The bighorn is so named from its horns; which are of a great
size, and twisted like those of a ram. It is called by some the
argali, by others the ibex, though differing from both of these
animals. The Mandans call it the ahsahta, a name much better than
the clumsy appellation which it generally bears. It is of the
size of a small elk, or large deer, and of a dun color, excepting
the belly and round the tail, where it is white. In its habits it
resembles the goat, frequenting the rudest precipices; cropping
the herbage from their edges; and like the chamois, bounding
lightly and securely among dizzy heights, where the hunter dares
not venture. It is difficult, therefore, to get within shot of
it. Ben Jones the hunter, however, in one of the passes of the
Black Hills, succeeded in bringing down a bighorn from the verge
of a precipice, the flesh of which was pronounced by the gormands
of the camp to have the flavor of excellent mutton.

Baffled in his attempts to traverse this mountain chain, Mr. Hunt
skirted along it to the southwest, keeping it on the right; and
still in hopes of finding an opening. At an early hour one day,
he encamped in a narrow valley on the banks of a beautifully
clear but rushy pool; surrounded by thickets bearing abundance of
wild cherries, currants, and yellow and purple gooseberries.

While the afternoon's meal was in preparation, Mr. Hunt and Mr.
M'Kenzie ascended to the summit of the nearest hill, from whence,
aided by the purity and transparency of the evening atmosphere,
they commanded a vast prospect on all sides. Below them extended
a plain, dotted with innumerable herds of buffalo. Some were
lying among the herbage, others roaming in their unbounded
pastures, while many were engaged in fierce contests like those
already described, their low bellowings reaching the ear like the
hoarse murmurs of the surf on a distant shore.

Far off in the west they descried a range of lofty mountains
printing the clear horizon, some of them evidently capped with
snow. These they supposed to be the Bighorn Mountains, so called
from the animal of that name, with which they abound. They are a
spur of the great Rocky chain. The hill from whence Mr. Hunt had
this prospect was, according to his computation, about two
hundred and fifty miles from the Arickara village.

On returning to the camp, Mr. Hunt found some uneasiness
prevailing among the Canadian voyageurs. In straying among the
thickets they had beheld tracks of grizzly bears in every
direction, doubtless attracted thither by the fruit. To their
dismay, they now found that they had encamped in one of the
favorite resorts of this dreaded animal. The idea marred all the
comfort of the encampment. As night closed, the surrounding
thickets were peopled with terrors; insomuch that, according to
Mr. Hunt, they could not help starting at every little breeze
that stirred the bushes.

The grizzly bear is the only really formidable quadruped of our
continent. He is the favorite theme of the hunters of the far
West, who describe him as equal in size to a common cow and of
prodigious strength. He makes battle if assailed, and often, if
pressed by hunger, is the assailant. If wounded, he becomes
furious and will pursue the hunter. His speed exceeds that of a
man but is inferior to that of a horse. In attacking he rears
himself on his hind legs, and springs the length of his body. Woe
to horse or rider that comes within the sweep of his terrific
claws, which are sometimes nine inches in length, and tear
everything before them.

At the time we are treating of, the grizzly bear was still
frequent on the Missouri and in the lower country, but, like some
of the broken tribes of the prairie, he has gradually fallen back
before his enemies, and is now chiefly to be found in the upland
regions, in rugged fastnesses like those of the Black Hills and
the Rocky Mountains. Here he lurks in caverns, or holes which he
has digged in the sides of hills, or under the roots and trunks
of fallen trees. Like the common bear, he is fond of fruits, and
mast, and roots, the latter of which he will dig up with his
foreclaws. He is carnivorous also, and will even attack and
conquer the lordly buffalo, dragging his huge carcass to the
neighborhood of his den, that he may prey upon it at his leisure.

The hunters, both white and red men, consider this the most
heroic game. They prefer to hunt him on horseback, and will
venture so near as sometimes to singe his hair with the flash of
the rifle. The hunter of the grizzly bear, however, must be an
experienced hand, and know where to aim at a vital part; for of
all quadrupeds, he is the most difficult to be killed. He will
receive repeated wounds without flinching, and rarely is a shot
mortal unless through the head or heart.

That the dangers apprehended from the grizzly bear, at this night
encampment, were not imaginary, was proved on the following
morning. Among the hired men of the party was one William
Cannon, who had been a soldier at one of the frontier posts, and
entered into the employ of Mr. Hunt at Mackinaw. He was an
inexperienced hunter and a poor shot, for which he was much
bantered by his more adroit comrades. Piqued at their raillery,
he had been practicing ever since he had joined the expedition,
but without success. In the course of the present afternoon, he
went forth by himself to take a lesson in venerie and, to his
great delight, had the good fortune to kill a buffalo. As he was
a considerable distance from the camp, he cut out the tongue and
some of the choice bits, made them into a parcel, and slinging
them on his shoulders by a strap passed round his forehead, as
the voyageurs carry packages of goods, set out all glorious for
the camp, anticipating a triumph over his brother hunters. In
passing through a narrow ravine, he heard a noise behind him, and
looking round beheld, to his dismay, a grizzly bear in full
pursuit, apparently attracted by the scent of the meat. Cannon
had heard so much of the invulnerability of this tremendous
animal, that he never attempted to fire, but, slipping the strap
from his forehead, let go the buffalo meat and ran for his life.
The bear did not stop to regale himself with the game, but kept
on after the hunter. He had nearly overtaken him when Cannon
reached a tree, and, throwing down his rifle scrambled up it. The
next instant Bruin was at the foot of the tree; but, as this
species of bear does not climb, he contented himself with turning
the chase into a blockade. Night came on. In the darkness Cannon
could not perceive whether or not the enemy maintained his
station; but his fears pictured him rigorously mounting guard. He
passed the night, therefore, in the tree, a prey to dismal
fancies. In the morning the bear was gone. Cannon warily
descended the tree, gathered up his gun, and made the best of his
way back to the camp, without venturing to look after his buffalo

While on this theme we will add another anecdote of an adventure
with a grizzly bear, told of John Day, the Kentucky hunter, but
which happened at a different period of the expedition. Day was
hunting in company with one of the clerks of the company, a
lively youngster, who was a great favorite with the veteran, but
whose vivacity he had continually to keep in check. They were in
search of deer, when suddenly a huge grizzly bear emerged from a
thicket about thirty yards distant, rearing himself upon his hind
legs with a terrific growl, and displaying a hideous array of
teeth and claws. The rifle of the young man was leveled in an
instant, but John Day's iron hand was as quickly upon his arm.
"Be quiet, boy! be quiet!" exclaimed the hunter between his
clenched teeth, and without turning his eyes from the bear. They
remained motionless. The monster regarded them for a time, then,
lowering himself on his fore paws, slowly withdrew. He had not
gone many paces, before he again returned, reared himself on his
hind legs, and repeated his menace. Day's hand was still on the
arm of his young companion; he again pressed it hard, and kept
repeating between his teeth, "Quiet, boy! - keep quiet! - keep
quiet!" -though the latter had not made a move since his first
prohibition. The bear again lowered himself on all fours,
retreated some twenty yards further, and again turned, reared,
showed his teeth, and growled. This third menace was too much for
the game spirit of John Day. "By Jove!" exclaimed he, "I can
stand this no longer," and in an instant a ball from his rifle
whizzed into his foe. The wound was not mortal; but, luckily, it
dismayed instead of enraged the animal, and he retreated into the

Day's companion reproached him for not practicing the caution
which he enjoined upon others. "Why, boy," replied the veteran,
"caution is caution, but one must not put up with too much, even
from a bear. Would you have me suffer myself to be bullied all
day by a varmint?"

                         CHAPTER XXVII.
Indian Trail.- Rough Mountain Travelling.- Sufferings From Hunger
    and Thirst- Powder River.- Game in Abundance.-A Hunter's
Paradise.- Mountain Peak Seen at a Great Distance.- One of the
Bighorn Chain.- Rocky Mountains.- Extent.- Appearance.- Height.-
   The Great American Desert.- Various Characteristics of the
   Mountains.- Indian Superstitions Concerning Them.- Land of
Souls.- Towns of the Free and Generous Spirits- Happy Hunting

FOR the two following days, the travellers pursued a westerly
course for thirty-four miles along a ridge of country dividing
the tributary waters of the Missouri and the Yellowstone. As
landmarks they guided themselves by the summits of the far
distant mountains, which they supposed to belong to the Bighorn
chain. They were gradually rising into a higher temperature, for
the weather was cold for the season, with a sharp frost in the
night, and ice of an eighth of an inch in thickness.

On the twenty-second of August, early in the day, they came upon
the trail of a numerous band. Rose and the other hunters examined
the foot-prints with great attention, and determined it to be the
trail of a party of Crows, returning from an annual trading visit
to the Mandans. As this trail afforded more commodious
travelling, they immediately struck into it, and followed it for
two days. It led them over rough hills, and through broken
gullies, during which time they suffered great fatigue from the
ruggedness of the country. The weather, too, which had recently
been frosty, was now oppressively warm, and there was a great
scarcity of water, insomuch that a valuable dog belonging to Mr.
M'Kenzie died of thirst.

At one time they had twenty-five miles of painful travel, without
a drop of water, until they arrived at a small running stream.
Here they eagerly slaked their thirst; but, this being allayed,
the calls of hunger became equally importunate. Ever since they
had got among these barren and arid hills where there was a
deficiency of grass, they had met with no buffaloes; those
animals keeping in the grassy meadows near the streams. They were
obliged, therefore, to have recourse to their corn meal, which
they reserved for such emergencies. Some, however, were lucky
enough to kill a wolf, which they cooked for supper, and
pronounced excellent food.

The next morning they resumed their wayfaring, hungry and jaded,
and had a dogged march of eighteen miles among the same kind of
hills. At length they emerged upon a stream of clear water, one
of the forks of Powder River, and to their great joy beheld once
more wide grassy meadows, stocked with herds of buffalo. For
several days they kept along the banks of the river, ascending it
about eighteen miles. It was a hunter's paradise; the buffaloes
were in such abundance that they were enabled to kill as many as
they pleased, and to jerk a sufficient supply of meat for several
days' journeying. Here, then, they reveled and reposed after
their hungry and weary travel, hunting and feasting, and
reclining upon the grass. Their quiet, however, was a little
marred by coming upon traces of Indians, who, they concluded,
must be Crows: they were therefore obliged to keep a more
vigilant watch than ever upon their horses. For several days they
had been directing their march towards the lofty mountain
descried by Mr. Hunt and Mr. M'Kenzie on the 17th of August, the
height of which rendered it a landmark over a vast extent of
country. At first it had appeared to them solitary and detached;
but as they advanced towards it, it proved to be the principal
summit of a chain of mountains. Day by day it varied in form, or
rather its lower peaks, and the summits of others of the chain
emerged above the clear horizon, and finally the inferior line of
hills which connected most of them rose to view. So far, however,
are objects discernible in the pure atmosphere of these elevated
plains, that, from the place where they first descried the main
mountain, they had to travel a hundred and fifty miles before
they reached its base. Here they encamped on the 30th of August,
having come nearly four hundred miles since leaving the Arickara

The mountain which now towered above them was one of the Bighorn
chain, bordered by a river, of the same name, and extending for a
long distance rather east of north and west of south. It was a
part of the great system of granite mountains which forms one of
the most important and striking features of North America,
stretching parallel to the coast of the Pacific from the Isthmus
of Panama almost to the Arctic Ocean; and presenting a
corresponding chain to that of the Andes in the southern
hemisphere. This vast range has acquired, from its rugged and
broken character and its summits of naked granite, the
appellation of the Rocky Mountains, a name by no means
distinctive, as all elevated ranges are rocky. Among the early
explorers it was known as the range of Chippewyan Mountains, and
this Indian name is the one it is likely to retain in poetic
usage. Rising from the midst of vast plains and prairies,
traversing several degrees of latitude, dividing the waters of
the Atlantic and the Pacific, and seeming to bind with diverging
ridges the level regions on its flanks, it has been figuratively
termed the backbone of the northern continent.

The Rocky Mountains do not present a range of uniform elevation,
but rather groups and occasionally detached peaks. Though some of
these rise to the region of perpetual snows, and are upwards of
eleven thousand feet in real altitude, yet their height from
their immediate basis is not so great as might be imagined, as
they swell up from elevated plains, several thousand feet above
the level of the ocean. These plains are often of a desolate
sterility; mere sandy wastes, formed of the detritus of the
granite heights, destitute of trees and herbage, scorched by the
ardent and reflected rays of the summer's sun, and in winter
swept by chilling blasts from the snow-clad mountains. Such is a
great part of that vast region extending north and south along
the mountains, several hundred miles in width, which has not
improperly been termed the Great American Desert. It is a region
that almost discourages all hope of cultivation, and can only be
traversed with safety by keeping near the streams which intersect
it. Extensive plains likewise occur among the higher regions of
the mountains, of considerable fertility. Indeed, these lofty
plats of table-land seem to form a peculiar feature in the
American continents. Some occur among the Cordilleras of the
Andes, where cities, and towns, and cultivated farms are to be
seen eight thousand feet above the level of the sea.

The Rocky Mountains, as we have already observed, occur sometimes
singly or in groups, and occasionally in collateral ridges.
Between these are deep valleys, with small streams winding
through them, which find their way into the lower plains,
augmenting as they proceed, and ultimately discharging themselves
into those vast rivers, which traverse the prairies like great
arteries, and drain the continent.

While the granitic summits of the Rocky Mountains are bleak and
bare, many of the inferior ridges are scantily clothed with
scrubbed pines, oaks, cedar, and furze. Various parts of the
mountains also bear traces of volcanic action. Some of the
interior valleys are strewed with scoria and broken stones,
evidently of volcanic origin; the surrounding rocks bear the like
character, and vestiges of extinguished craters are to be seen on
the elevated heights.

We have already noticed the superstitious feelings with which the
Indians regard the Black Hills; but this immense range of
mountains, which divides all that they know of the world, and
gives birth to such mighty rivers, is still more an object of awe
and veneration. They call it "the crest of the world," and think
that Wacondah, or the master of life, as they designate the
Supreme Being, has his residence among these aerial heights. The
tribes on the eastern prairies call them the mountains of the
setting sun. Some of them place the "happy hunting-grounds,"
their ideal paradise, among the recesses of these mountains; but
say that they are invisible to living men. Here also is the "Land
of Souls," in which are the "towns of the free and generous
spirits," where those who have pleased the master of life while
living, enjoy after death all manner of delights.

Wonders are told of these mountains by the distant tribes, whose
warriors or hunters have ever wandered in their neighborhood. It
is thought by some that, after death, they will have to travel to
these mountains and ascend one of their highest and most rugged
peaks, among rocks and snows and tumbling torrents. After many
moons of painful toil they will reach the summit, from whence
they will have a view over the land of souls. There they will see
the happy hunting-grounds, with the souls of the brave and good
living in tents in green meadows, by bright running streams, or
hunting the herds of buffalo, and elk, and deer, which have been
slain on earth. There, too, they will see the villages or towns
of the free and generous spirits brightening in the midst of
delicious prairies. If they have acquitted themselves well while
living, they will be permitted to descend and enjoy this happy
country; if otherwise they will but be tantalized with this
prospect of it, and then hurled back from the mountain to wander
about the sandy plains, and endure the eternal pangs of
unsatisfied thirst and hunger.

                        CHAPTER XXVIII.
Region of the Crow Indians- Scouts on the Lookout- Visit From a
Crew of Hard Riders.- A Crow Camp.- Presents to the Crow Chief.-
Bargaining.-Crow Bullies.-Rose Among His Indian Friends.-Parting
With the Crows.- Perplexities Among the Mountains.- More of the
     Crows.- Equestrian Children.- Search After Stragglers.

THE travellers had now arrived in the vicinity of the mountain
regions infested by the Crow Indians. These restless marauders,
as has already been observed, are apt to be continually on the
prowl about the skirts of the mountains; and even when encamped
in some deep and secluded glen, they keep scouts upon the cliffs
and promontories, who, unseen themselves, can discern every
living thing that moves over the subjacent plains and valleys. It
was not to be expected that our travellers could pass unseen
through a region thus vigilantly sentineled; accordingly, in the
edge of the evening, not long after they had encamped at the foot
of the Bighorn Sierra, a couple of wild-looking beings, scantily
clad in skins, but well armed, and mounted on horses as wild-
looking as themselves, were seen approaching with great caution
from among the rocks. They might have been mistaken for two of
the evil spirits of the mountains so formidable in Indian fable.

Rose was immediately sent out to hold a parley with them, and
invite them to the camp. They proved to be two scouts from the
same band that had been tracked for some days past, and which was
now encamped at some distance in the folds of the mountain. They
were easily prevailed upon to come to the camp, where they were
well received, and, after remaining there until late in the
evening, departed to make a report of all they had seen and
experienced to their companions.

The following day had scarce dawned, when a troop of these wild
mountain scamperers came galloping with whoops and yells into the
camp, bringing an invitation from their chief for the white men
to visit him. The tents were accordingly struck, the horses
laden, and the party were soon on the march. The Crow horsemen,
as they escorted them, appeared to take pride in showing off
their equestrian skill and hardihood; careering at full speed on
their half-savage steeds, and dashing among rocks and crags, and
up and down the most rugged and dangerous places with perfect
ease and unconcern.

A ride of sixteen miles brought them, in the afternoon, in sight
of the Crow camp. It was composed of leathern tents, pitched in a
meadow on the border of a small clear stream at the foot of the
mountain. A great number of horses were grazing in the vicinity,
many of them doubtless captured in marauding excursions,

The Crow chieftain came forth to meet his guests with great
professions of friendship, and conducted them to his tents,
pointing out, by the way, a convenient place where they might fix
their camp. No sooner had they done so, than Mr. Hunt opened some
of the packages and made the chief a present of a scarlet blanket
and a quantity of powder and ball; he gave him also some knives,
trinkets, and tobacco to be distributed among his warriors, with
all which the grim potentate seemed, for the time, well pleased.
As the Crows, however, were reputed to be perfidious in the
extreme, and as errant freebooters as the bird after which they
were so worthily named; and as their general feelings towards the
whites were known to be by no means friendly, the intercourse
with them was conducted with great circumspection.

The following day was passed in trading with the Crows for
buffalo robes and skins, and in bartering galled and jaded horses
for others that were in good condition. Some of the men, also,
purchased horses on their own account, so that the number now
amounted to one hundred and twenty-one, most of them sound and
active, and fit for mountain service.

Their wants being supplied, they ceased all further traffic, much
to the dissatisfaction of the Crows, who became extremely urgent
to continue the trade, and, finding their importunities of no
avail, assumed an insolent and menacing tone. All this was
attributed by Mr. Hunt and his associates to the perfidious
instigations of Rose the interpreter, whom they suspected of the
desire to foment ill-will between them and the savages, for the
promotion of his nefarious plans. M'Lellan, with his usual
tranchant mode of dealing out justice, resolved to shoot the
desperado on the spot in case of any outbreak. Nothing of the
kind, however, occurred. The Crows were probably daunted by the
resolute, though quiet demeanor of the white men, and the
constant vigilance and armed preparations which they maintained;
and Rose, if he really still harbored his knavish designs, must
have perceived that they were suspected, and, if attempted to be
carried into effect, might bring ruin on his own head.

The next morning, bright and early, Mr. Hunt proposed to resume
his journeying. He took a ceremonious leave of the Crow
chieftain, and his vagabond warriors, and according to previous
arrangements, consigned to their cherishing friendship and
fraternal adoption, their worthy confederate Rose; who, having
figured among the water pirates of the Mississippi, was well
fitted to rise to distinction among the land pirates of the Rocky

It is proper to add, that the ruffian was well received among the
tribe, and appeared to be perfectly satisfied with the compromise
he had made; feeling much more at his ease among savages than
among white men. It is outcasts from justice, and heartless
desperadoes of this kind who sow the seeds of enmity and
bitterness among the unfortunate tribes of the frontier. There is
no enemy so implacable against a country or a community as one of
its own people who has rendered himself an alien by his crimes.

Right glad to be delivered from this treacherous companion, Mr.
Hunt pursued his course along the skirts of the mountain, in a
southern direction, seeking for some practicable defile by which
he might pass through it; none such presented, however, in the
course of fifteen miles, and he encamped on a small stream, still
on the outskirts. The green meadows which border these mountain
streams are generally well stocked with game, and the hunters
killed several fat elks, which supplied the camp with fresh meat.
In the evening the travellers were surprised by an unwelcome
visit from several Crows belonging to a different band from that
which they recently left, and who said their camp was among the
mountains. The consciousness of being environed by such dangerous
neighbors, and of being still within the range of Rose and his
fellow ruffians, obliged the party to be continually on the
alert, and to maintain weary vigils throughout the night, lest
they should be robbed of their horses.

On the third of September, finding that the mountain still
stretched onwards, presenting a continued barrier, they
endeavored to force a passage to the westward, but soon became
entangled among rocks and precipices which set all their efforts
at defiance. The mountain seemed, for the most part, rugged,
bare, and sterile; yet here and there it was clothed with pines,
and with shrubs and flowering plants, some of which were in
bloom. In tolling among these weary places, their thirst became
excessive, for no water was to be met with. Numbers of the men
wandered off into rocky dells and ravines in hopes of finding
some brook or fountain; some of whom lost their way and did not
rejoin the main party.

After a day of painful and fruitless scrambling, Mr. Hunt gave up
the attempt to penetrate in this direction, and, returning to the
little stream on the skirts of the mountain, pitched his tents
within six miles of his encampment of the preceding night. He now
ordered that signals should be made for the stragglers in quest
of water; but the night passed away without their return.

The next morning, to their surprise, Rose made his appearance at
the camp, accompanied by some of his Crow associates. His
unwelcome visit revived their suspicions; but he announced
himself as a messenger of good-will from the chief, who, finding
they had taken the wrong road, had sent Rose and his companions
to guide them to a nearer and better one across the mountain.

Having no choice, being themselves utterly at fault, they set out
under this questionable escort. They had not gone far before they
fell in with the whole party of Crows, who, they now found, were
going the same road with themselves. The two cavalcades of white
and red men, therefore, pushed on together, and presented a wild
and picturesque spectacle, as, equipped with various weapons and
in various garbs, with trains of pack-horses, they wound in long
lines through the rugged defiles, and up and down the crags and
steeps of the mountain.

The travellers had again an opportunity to see and admire the
equestrian habitudes and address of this hard-riding tribe. They
were all mounted, man, woman, and child, for the Crows have
horses in abundance, so that no one goes on foot. The children
are perfect imps on horseback. Among them was one so young that
he could not yet speak. He was tied on a colt of two years old,
but managed the reins as if by instinct, and plied the whip with
true Indian prodigality. Mr. Hunt inquired the age of this infant
jockey, and was answered that "he had seen two winters."

This is almost realizing the fable of the centaurs; nor can we
wonder at the equestrian adroitness of these savages, who are
thus in a manner cradled in the saddle, and become in infancy
almost identified with the animal they bestride.

The mountain defiles were exceedingly rough and broken, and the
travelling painful to the burdened horses. The party, therefore,
proceeded but slowly, and were gradually left behind by the band
of Crows, who had taken the lead. It is more than probable that
Mr. Hunt loitered in his course, to get rid of such doubtful
fellow-travellers. Certain it is that he felt a sensation of
relief as he saw the whole crew, the renegade Rose and all,
disappear among the windings of the mountain, and heard the last
yelp of the savages die away in the distance.

When they were fairly out of sight, and out of hearing, he
encamped on the head waters of the little stream of the preceding
day, having come about sixteen miles. Here he remained all the
succeeding day, as well to give time for the Crows to get in the
advance, as for the stragglers, who had wandered away in quest of
water two days previously, to rejoin the camp. Indeed,
considerable uneasiness began to be felt concerning these men,
lest they should become utterly bewildered in the defiles of the
mountains, or should fall into the hands of some marauding band
of savages. Some of the most experienced hunters were sent in
search of them; others, in the meantime, employed themselves in
hunting. The narrow valley in which they encamped being watered
by a running stream, yielded fresh pasturage, and though in the
heart of the Bighorn Mountains, was well stocked with buffalo.
Several of these were killed, as also a grizzly bear. In the
evening, to the satisfaction of all parties, the stragglers made
their appearance, and provisions being in abundance, there was
hearty good cheer in the camp.

                          CHAPTER XXIX
Mountain Glens.- Wandering Band of Savages- Anecdotes of Shoshon-                              
ies and Flatheads.- Root Diggers- Their Solitary Lurking Habits.-
Gnomes of the Mountains.- Wind River.- Scarcity of Food.-Alter-
   ation of Route.-The Pilot Knobs or Tetons.- Branch of the
                   Colorado. - Hunting Camp.

RESUMING their course on the following morning, Mr. Hunt and his
companions continued on westward through a rugged region of hills
and rocks, but diversified in many places by grassy little glens,
with springs of water, bright sparkling brooks, clumps of pine
trees, and a profusion of flowering plants, which were in bloom,
although the weather was frosty. These beautiful and verdant
recesses, running through and softening the rugged mountains,
were cheering and refreshing to the wayworn travellers.

In the course of the morning, as they were entangled in a defile,
they beheld a small band of savages, as wild-looking as the
surrounding scenery, who reconnoitred them warily from the rocks
before they ventured to advance. Some of them were mounted on
horses rudely caparisoned with bridles or halters of buffalo
hide, one end trailing after them on the ground. They proved to
be a mixed party of Flatheads and Shoshonies , or Snakes; and as
these tribes will be frequently mentioned in the course of this
work, we shall give a few introductory particulars concerning

The Flatheads in question are not to be confounded with those of
the name who dwell about the lower waters of the Columbia;
neither do they flatten their heads, as the others do. They
inhabit the banks of a river on the west side of the mountains,
and are described as simple, honest, and hospitable. Like all
people of similar character, whether civilized or savage, they
are prone to be imposed upon; and are especially maltreated by
the ruthless Blackfeet, who harass them in their villages, steal
their horses by night, or openly carry them off in the face of
day, without provoking pursuit or retaliation.

The Shoshonies are a branch of the once powerful and prosperous
tribe of the Snakes, who possessed a glorious hunting country
about the upper forks of the Missouri, abounding in beaver and
buffalo. Their hunting ground was occasionally invaded by the
Blackfeet, but the Snakes battled bravely for their domains, and
a long and bloody feud existed, with variable success. At length
the Hudson's Bay Company, extending their trade into the
interior, had dealings with the Blackfeet, who were nearest to
them, and supplied them with fire-arms. The Snakes, who
occasionally traded with the Spaniards, endeavored, but in vain,
to obtain similar weapons; the Spanish traders wisely refused to
arm them so formidably. The Blackfeet had now a vast advantage,
and soon dispossessed the poor Snakes of their favorite hunting
grounds, their land of plenty, and drove them from place to
place, until they were fain to take refuge in the wildest and
most desolate recesses of the Rocky Mountains. Even here they are
subject to occasional visits from their implacable foes, as long
as they have horses, or any other property to tempt the
plunderer. Thus by degrees the Snakes have become a scattered,
broken-spirited, impoverished people; keeping about lonely rivers
and mountain streams, and subsisting chiefly upon fish. Such of
them as still possess horses, and occasionally figure as hunters,
are called Shoshonies; but there is another class, the most
abject and forlorn, who are called Shuckers, or more commonly
Diggers and Root Eaters. These are a shy, secret, solitary race,
who keep in the most retired parts of the mountains, lurking like
gnomes in caverns and clefts of the rocks, and subsisting in a
great measure on the roots of the earth. Sometimes, in passing
through a solitary mountain valley, the traveller comes perchance
upon the bleeding carcass of a deer or buffalo that has just been
slain. He looks round in vain for the hunter; the whole landscape
is lifeless and deserted: at length he perceives a thread of
smoke, curling up from among the crags and cliffs, and scrambling
to the place, finds some forlorn and skulking brood of Diggers,
terrified at being discovered.

The Shoshonies, however, who, as has been observed, have still
"horse to ride and weapon to wear," are somewhat bolder in their
spirit, and more open and wide in their wanderings. In the
autumn, when salmon disappear from the rivers, and hunger begins
to pinch, they even venture down into their ancient hunting
grounds, to make a foray among the buffaloes. In this perilous
enterprise they are occasionally joined by the Flatheads, the
persecutions of the Blackfeet having produced a close alliance
and cooperation between these luckless and maltreated tribes.
Still, notwithstanding their united force, every step they take
within the debatable ground is taken in fear and trembling, and
with the utmost precaution: and an Indian trader assures us that
he has seen at least five hundred of them, armed and equipped for
action, and keeping watch upon the hill tops, while about fifty
were hunting in the prairie. Their excursions are brief and
hurried; as soon as they have collected and jerked sufficient
buffalo meat for winter provisions, they pack their horses,
abandon the dangerous hunting grounds, and hasten back to the
mountains, happy if they have not the terrible Blackfeet rattling
after them.

Such a confederate band of Shoshonies and Flatheads was the one
met by our travellers. It was bound on a visit to the Arrapahoes,
a tribe inhabiting the banks of the Nebraska. They were armed to
the best of their scanty means, and some of the Shoshonies had
bucklers of buffalo hide, adorned with feathers and leathern
fringes, and which have a charmed virtue in their eyes, from
having been prepared, with mystic ceremonies, by their conjurers.

In company with this wandering band our travellers proceeded all
day. In the evening they encamped near to each other in a defile
of the mountains, on the borders of a stream running north, and
falling into Bighorn River. In the vicinity of the camp, they
found gooseberries, strawberries, and currants in great
abundance. The defile bore traces of having been a thoroughfare
for countless herds of buffaloes, though not one was to be seen.
The hunters succeeded in killing an elk and several black-tailed

They were now in the bosom of the second Bighorn ridge, with
another lofty and snow-crowned mountain full in view to the west.
Fifteen miles of western course brought them, on the following
day, down into an intervening plain, well stocked with buffalo.
Here the Snakes and Flatheads joined with the white hunters in a
successful hunt, that soon filled the camp with provisions.

On the morning of the 9th of September, the travellers parted
company with their Indian friends, and continued on their course
to the west. A march of thirty miles brought them, in the
evening, to the banks of a rapid and beautifully clear stream
about a hundred yards wide. It is the north fork or branch of the
Bighorn River, but bears its peculiar name of the Wind River,
from being subject in the winter season to a continued blast
which sweeps its banks and prevents the snow from lying on them.
This blast is said to be caused by a narrow gap or funnel in the
mountains, through which the river forces its way between
perpendicular precipices, resembling cut rocks.

This river gives its name to a whole range of mountains
consisting of three parallel chains, eighty miles in length, and
about twenty or twenty-five broad. One of its peaks is probably
fifteen thousand feet above the level of the sea, being one of
the highest of the Rocky Sierra. These mountains give rise, not
merely to the Wind or Bighorn River, but to several branches of
the Yellowstone and the Missouri on the east, and of the Columbia
and Colorado on the west; thus dividing the sources of these
mighty streams.

For five succeeding days, Mr. Hunt and his party continued up the
course of the Wind River, to the distance of about eighty miles,
crossing and recrossing it, according to its windings, and the
nature of its banks; sometimes passing through valleys, at other
times scrambling over rocks and hills. The country in general was
destitute of trees, but they passed through groves of wormwood,
eight and ten feet in height, which they used occasionally for
fuel, and they met with large quantities of wild flax.

The mountains were destitute of game; they came in sight of two
grizzly bears, but could not get near enough for a shot;
provisions, therefore, began to be scanty. They saw large flights
of the kind of thrush commonly called the robin, and many smaller
birds of migratory species; but the hills in general appeared
lonely and with few signs of animal life. On the evening of the
14th September, they encamped on the forks of the Wind or Bighorn
River. The largest of these forks came from the range of Wind
River Mountains.

The hunters who served as guides to the party in this part of
their route, had assured Mr. Hunt that, by following up Wind
River, and crossing a single mountain ridge, he would come upon
the head waters of the Columbia. This scarcity of game, however,
which already had been felt to a pinching degree, and which
threatened them with famine among the sterile heights which lay
before them, admonished them to change their course. It was
determined, therefore, to make for a stream, which they were
informed passed the neighboring mountains, to the south of west,
on the grassy banks of which it was probable they would meet with
buffalo. Accordingly, about three o'clock on the following day,
meeting with a beaten Indian road which led in the proper
direction, they struck into it, turning their backs upon Wind

In the course of the day, they came to a height that commanded an
almost boundless prospect. Here one of the guides paused, and,
after considering the vast landscape attentively, pointed to
three mountain peaks glistening with snow, which rose, he said,
above a fork of Columbia River. They were hailed by the
travellers with that joy with which a beacon on a seashore is
hailed by mariners after a long and dangerous voyage.

It is true there was many a weary league to be traversed before
they should reach these landmarks, for, allowing for their
evident height and the extreme transparency of the atmosphere,
they could not be much less than a hundred miles distant. Even
after reaching them, there would yet remain hundreds of miles of
their journey to be accomplished. All these matters were
forgotten in the joy at seeing the first landmarks of the
Columbia, that river which formed the bourne of the expedition.
These remarkable peaks were known as the Tetons; as guiding
points for many days, to Mr. Hunt, he gave them the names of the
Pilot Knobs.

The travellers continued their course to the south of west for
about forty miles, through a region so elevated that patches of
snow lay on the highest summits and on the northern declivities.
At length they came to the desired stream, the object of their
search, the waters of which flowed to the west. It was, in fact,
a branch of the Colorado, which falls into the Gulf of
California, and had received from the hunters the name of Spanish
River, from information given by the Indians that Spaniards
resided upon its lower waters.

The aspect of this river and its vicinity was cheering to the
wayworn and hungry travellers. Its banks were green, and there
were grassy valleys running from it various directions, into the
heart of the rugged mountains, with herds of buffalo quietly
grazing. The hunters sallied forth with keen alacrity, and soon
returned laden with provisions.

In this part of the mountains Mr. Hunt met with three different
kinds of gooseberries. The common purple, on a low and very
thorny bush; a yellow kind, of an excellent flavor, growing on a
stock free from thorns; and a deep purple, of the size and taste
of our winter grape, with a thorny stalk. There were also three
kinds of currants, one very large and well tasted, of a purple
color, and growing on a bush eight or nine feet high. Another of
a yellow color, and of the size and taste of the large red
currant, the bush four or five feet high; and the third a
beautiful scarlet, resembling the strawberry in sweetness, though
rather insipid, and growing on a low bush.

On the 17th they continued down the course of the river, making
fifteen miles to the southwest. The river abounded with geese and
ducks, and there were signs of its being inhabited by beaver and
otters: indeed they were now approaching regions where these
animals, the great objects of the fur trade, are said to abound.
They encamped for the night opposite the end of a mountain in the
west, which was probably the last chain of the Rocky Mountains.
On the following morning they abandoned the main course of the
Spanish River, and taking a northwest direction for eight miles,
came upon one of its little tributaries, issuing out of the bosom
of the mountains, and running through green meadows, yielding
pasturage to herds of buffalo. As these were probably the last of
that animal they would meet with, they encamped on the grassy
banks of the river, determined to spend several days in hunting,
so as to be able to jerk sufficient meat to supply them until
they should reach the waters of the Columbia, where they trusted
to find fish enough for their support. A little repose, too, was
necessary for both men and horses, after their rugged and
incessant marching; having in the course of the last seventeen
days traversed two hundred and sixty miles of rough, and in many
parts sterile, mountain country.

                          CHAPTER XXX.
A Plentiful Hunting Camp.-Shoshonie Hunters - Hoback's River -
Mad River- Encampment Near the Pilot Knobs.- A Consultation. -
              Preparations for a Perilous Voyage.

FIVE days were passed by Mr. Hunt and his companions in the fresh
meadows watered by the bright little mountain stream. The hunters
made great havoc among the buffaloes, and brought in quantities
of meat; the voyageurs busied themselves about the fires,
roasting and stewing for present purposes, or drying provisions
for the journey; the pack-horses, eased of their burdens, rolled
on the grass, or grazed at large about the ample pasture; those
of the party who had no call upon their services, indulged in the
luxury of perfect relaxation, and the camp presented a picture of
rude feasting and revelry, of mingled bustle and repose,
characteristic of a halt in a fine hunting country. In the course
of one of their excursions, some of the men came in sight of a
small party of Indians, who instantly fled in great apparent
consternation. They immediately retreated to camp with the
intelligence: upon which Mr. Hunt and four others flung
themselves upon their horses, and sallied forth to reconnoitre.
After riding for about eight miles, they came upon a wild
mountain scene. A lonely green valley stretched before them,
surrounded by rugged heights. A herd of buffalo were careering
madly through it, with a troop of savage horsemen in full chase,
plying them with their bows and arrows. The appearance of Mr.
Hunt and his companions put an abrupt end to the hunt; the
buffalo scuttled off in one direction, while the Indians plied
their lashes and galloped off in another, as fast as their steeds
could carry them. Mr. Hunt gave chase; there was a sharp scamper,
though of short continuance. Two young Indians, who were
indifferently mounted, were soon overtaken. They were terribly
frightened, and evidently gave themselves up for lost. By degrees
their fears were allayed by kind treatment; but they continued to
regard the strangers with a mixture of awe and wonder, for it was
the first time in their lives they had ever seen a white man.

They belonged to a party of Snakes who had come across the
mountains on their autumnal hunting excursion to provide buffalo
meat for the winter. Being persuaded of the peaceful intentions
of Mr. Hunt and his companions, they willingly conducted them to
their camp. It was pitched in a narrow valley on the margin of a
stream. The tents were of dressed skins, some of them
fantastically painted; with horses grazing about them. The
approach of the party caused a transient alarm in the camp, for
these poor Indians were ever on the look-out for cruel foes. No
sooner, however, did they recognize the garb and complexion of
their visitors, than their apprehensions were changed into Joy;
for some of them had dealt with white men, and knew them to be
friendly, and to abound with articles of singular value. They
welcomed them, therefore, to their tents, set food before them;
and entertained them to the best of their power.

They had been successful in their hunt, and their camp was full
of jerked buffalo meat, all of the choicest kind, and extremely
fat. Mr. Hunt purchased enough of them, in addition to what had
been killed and cured by his own hunters, to load all the horses
excepting those reserved for the partners and the wife of Pierre
Dorion. He found, also, a few beaver skins in their camp, for
which he paid liberally, as an inducement to them to hunt for
more; informing them that some of his party intended to live
among the mountains, and trade with the native hunters for their
peltries. The poor Snakes soon comprehended the advantages thus
held out to them, and promised to exert themselves to procure a
quantity of beaver skins for future traffic. Being now well
supplied with provisions, Mr. Hunt broke up his encampment on the
24th of September, and continued on to the west. A march of
fifteen miles, over a mountain ridge, brought them to a stream
about fifty feet in width, which Hoback, one of their guides, who
had trapped about the neighborhood when in the service of Mr.
Henry, recognized for one of the head waters of the Columbia. The
travellers hailed it with delight, as the first stream they had
encountered tending toward their point of destination. They kept
along it for two days, during which, from the contribution of
many rills and brooks, it gradually swelled into a small river.
As it meandered among rocks and precipices, they were frequently
obliged to ford it, and such was its rapidity that the men were
often in danger of being swept away. Sometimes the banks advanced
so close upon the river that they were obliged to scramble up and
down their rugged promontories, or to skirt along their bases
where there was scarce a foothold. Their horses had dangerous
falls in some of these passes. One of them rolled, with his load,
nearly two hundred feet down hill into the river, but without
receiving any injury. At length they emerged from these
stupendous defiles, and continued for several miles along the
bank of Hoback's River, through one of the stern mountain
valleys. Here it was joined by a river of greater magnitude and
swifter current, and their united waters swept off through the
valley in one impetuous stream, which, from its rapidity and
turbulence, had received the name of the Mad River. At the
confluence of these streams the travellers encamped. An important
point in their arduous journey had been attained; a few miles
from their camp rose the three vast snowy peaks called the
Tetons, or the Pilot Knobs , the great landmarks of the Columbia,
by which they had shaped their course through this mountain
wilderness. By their feet flowed the rapid current of Mad River,
a stream ample enough to admit of the navigation of canoes, and
down which they might possibly be able to steer their course to
the main body of the Columbia. The Canadian voyageurs rejoiced at
the idea of once more launching themselves upon their favorite
element; of exchanging their horses for canoes, and of gliding
down the bosoms of rivers, instead of scrambling over the backs
of mountains. Others of the party, also, inexperienced in this
kind of travelling, considered their toils and troubles as
drawing to a close. They had conquered the chief difficulties of
this great rocky barrier, and now flattered themselves with the
hope of an easy downward course for the rest of their journey.
Little did they dream of the hardships and perils by land and
water, which were yet to be encountered in the frightful
wilderness that intervened between them and the shores of the

                         CHAPTER XXXI.
A Consultation Whether to Proceed by Land or Water- Preparations
  for Boat-Building.- An Exploring Party.- A Party of Trappers
  Detached.- Two Snake Visitors.- Their Report Concerning the
     River. - Confirmed by the Exploring Party. - Mad River
Abandoned.- Arrival at Henry's Fort.- Detachment of Robinson,
Hoback, and Rezner to Trap.- Mr. Miller Resolves to Accompany
                    Them.- Their Departure.

0N the banks of Mad River Mr. Hunt held a consultation with the
other partners as to their future movements. The wild and
impetuous current of the river rendered him doubtful whether it
might not abound with impediments lower down, sufficient to
render the navigation of it slow and perilous, if not
impracticable. The hunters who had acted as guides knew nothing
of the character of the river below; what rocks, and shoals, and
rapids might obstruct it, or through what mountains and deserts
it might pass. Should they then abandon their horses, cast
themselves loose in fragile barks upon this wild, doubtful, and
unknown river; or should they continue their more toilsome and
tedious, but perhaps more certain wayfaring by land?

The vote, as might have been expected, was almost unanimous for
embarkation; for when men are in difficulties every change seems
to be for the better. The difficulty now was to find timber of
sufficient size for the construction of canoes, the trees in
these high mountain regions being chiefly a scrubbed growth of
pines and cedars, aspens, haws, and service-berries, and a small
kind of cotton-tree, with a leaf resembling that of the willow.
There was a species of large fir, but so full of knots as to
endanger the axe in hewing it. After searching for some time, a
growth of timber, of sufficient size, was found lower down the
river, whereupon the encampment was moved to the vicinity.

The men were now set to work to fell trees, and the mountains
echoed to the unwonted sound of their axes. While preparations
were thus going on for a voyage down the river, Mr. Hunt, who
still entertained doubts of its practicability, despatched an
exploring party, consisting of John Reed, the clerk, John Day,
the hunter, and Pierre Dorion, the interpreter, with orders to
proceed several days' march along the stream, and notice its
course and character.

After their departure, Mr. Hunt turned his thoughts to another
object of importance. He had now arrived at the head waters of
the Columbia, which were among the main points embraced by the
enterprise of Mr. Astor. These upper streams were reputed to
abound in beaver, and had as yet been unmolested by the white
trapper. The numerous signs of beaver met with during the recent
search for timber gave evidence that the neighborhood was a good
"trapping ground." Here, then, it was proper to begin to cast
loose those leashes of hardy trappers, that are detached from
trading parties, in the very heart of the wilderness. The men
detached in the present instance were Alexander Carson, Louis St.
Michel, Pierre Detaye, and Pierre Delaunay. Trappers generally go
in pairs, that they may assist, protect, and comfort each other
in their lonely and perilous occupations. Thus Carson and St.
Michel formed one couple, and Detaye and Delaunay another. They
were fitted out with traps, arms, ammunition, horses, and every
other requisite, and were to trap upon the upper part of Mad
River, and upon the neighboring streams of the mountains. This
would probably occupy them for some months; and, when they should
have collected a sufficient quantity of peltries, they were to
pack them upon their horses and make the best of their way to the
mouth of Columbia River, or to any intermediate post which might
be established by the company. They took leave of their comrades
and started off on their several courses with stout hearts and
cheerful countenances; though these lonely cruisings into a wild
and hostile wilderness seem to the uninitiated equivalent to
being cast adrift in the ship's yawl in the midst of the ocean.

Of the perils that attend the lonely trapper, the reader will
have sufficient proof, when he comes, in the after part of this
work, to learn the hard fortunes of these poor fellows in the
course of their wild peregrinations.

The trappers had not long departed, when two Snake Indians
wandered into the camp. When they perceived that the strangers
were fabricating canoes, they shook their heads and gave them to
understand that the river was not navigable. Their information,
however, was scoffed at by some of the party, who were
obstinately bent on embarkation, but was confirmed by the
exploring party, who returned after several days' absence. They
had kept along the river with great difficulty for two days, and
found it a narrow, crooked, turbulent stream, confined in a rocky
channel, with many rapids, and occasionally overhung with
precipices. From the summit of one of these they had caught a
bird's-eye view of its boisterous career for a great distance
through the heart of the mountain, with impending rocks and
cliffs. Satisfied from this view that it was useless to follow
its course, either by land or water, they had given up all
further investigation.

These concurring reports determined Mr. Hunt to abandon Mad
River, and seek some more navigable stream. This determination
was concurred in by all his associates excepting Mr. Miller, who
had become impatient of the fatigue of land travel, and was for
immediate embarkation at all hazards. This gentleman had been in
a gloomy and irritated state of mind for some time past, being
troubled with a bodily malady that rendered travelling on
horseback extremely irksome to him, and being, moreover,
discontented with having a smaller share in the expedition than
his comrades. His unreasonable objections to a further march by
land were overruled, and the party prepared to decamp.

Robinson, Hoback, and Rezner, the three hunters who had hitherto
served as guides among the mountains, now stepped forward, and
advised Mr. Hunt to make for the post established during the
preceding year by Mr. Henry, of the Missouri Fur Company. They
had been with Mr. Henry, and, as far as they could judge by the
neighboring landmarks, his post could not be very far off. They
presumed there could be but one intervening ridge of mountains,
which might be passed without any great difficulty. Henry's post,
or fort, was on an upper branch of the Columbia, down which they
made no doubt it would be easy to navigate in canoes.

The two Snake Indians being questioned in the matter, showed a
perfect knowledge of the situation of the post, and offered, with
great alacrity, to guide them to the place. Their offer was
accepted, greatly to the displeasure of Mr. Miller, who seemed
obstinately bent upon braving the perils of Mad River.

The weather for a few days past had been stormy, with rain and
sleet. The Rocky Mountains are subject to tempestuous winds from
the west; these sometimes come in flaws or currents, making a
path through the forests many yards in width, and whirling off
trunks and branches to a great distance. The present storm
subsided on the third of October, leaving all the surrounding
heights covered with snow; for while rain had fallen in the
valley, it had snowed on the hill tops.

On the 4th, they broke up their encampment, and crossed the
river, the water coming up to the girths of their horses. After
travelling four miles, they encamped at the foot of the mountain,
the last, as they hoped, which they should have to traverse. Four
days more took them across it, and over several plains, watered
by beautiful little streams, tributaries of Mad River. Near one
of their encampments there was a hot spring continually emitting
a cloud of vapor. These elevated plains, which give a peculiar
character to the mountains, are frequented by large gangs of
antelopes, fleet as the wind.

On the evening of the 8th of October, after a cold wintry day,
with gusts of westerly wind and flurries of snow, they arrived at
the sought-for post of Mr. Henry. Here he had fixed himself,
after being compelled by the hostilities of the Blackfeet, to
abandon the upper waters of the Missouri. The post, however, was
deserted, for Mr. Henry had left it in the course of the
preceding spring, and, as it afterwards appeared, had fallen in
with Mr. Lisa, at the Arickara village on the Missouri, some time
after the separation of Mr. Hunt and his party.

The weary travellers gladly took possession of the deserted log
huts which had formed the post, and which stood on the bank of a
stream upwards of a hundred yards wide, on which they intended to
embark. There being plenty of suitable timber in the
neighborhood, Mr. Hunt immediately proceeded to construct canoes.
As he would have to leave his horses and their accoutrements
here, he determined to make this a trading post, where the
trappers and hunters, to be distributed about the country, might
repair; and where the traders might touch on their way through
the mountains to and from the establishment at the mouth of the
Columbia. He informed the two Snake Indians of this
determination, and engaged them to remain in that neighborhood
and take care of the horses until the white men should return,
promising them ample rewards for their fidelity. It may seem a
desperate chance to trust to the faith and honesty of two such
vagabonds; but, as the horses would have, at all events, to be
abandoned, and would otherwise become the property of the first
vagrant horde that should encounter them, it was one chance in
favor of their being regained.

At this place another detachment of hunters prepared to separate
from the party for the purpose of trapping beaver. Three of these
had already been in this neighborhood, being the veteran Robinson
and his companions, Hoback and Rezner, who had accompanied
Mr.Henry across the mountains, and who had been picked up by Mr.
Hunt on the Missouri, on their way home to Kentucky. According to
agreement they were fitted out with horses, traps, ammunition,
and everything requisite for their undertaking, and were to bring
in all the peltries they should collect, either to this trading
post, or to the establishment at the mouth of Columbia River.
Another hunter, of the name of Cass, was associated with them in
their enterprise. It is in this way that small knots of trappers
and hunters are distributed about the wilderness by the fur
companies, and like cranes and bitterns, haunt its solitary
streams. Robinson, the Kentuckian, the veteran of the "bloody
ground," who, as has already been noted, had been scalped by the
Indians in his younger days, was the leader of this little band.
When they were about to depart , Mr. Miller called the partners
together and threw up his share in the company, declaring his
intention of joining the party of trappers.

This resolution struck every one with astonishment, Mr. Miller
being a man of education and of cultivated habits, and little
fitted for the rude life of a hunter. Besides, the precarious and
slender profits arising from such a life were beneath the
prospects of one who held a share in the general enterprise. Mr.
Hunt was especially concerned and mortified at his determination,
as it was through his advice and influence he had entered into
the concern. He endeavored, therefore, to dissuade him from this
sudden resolution; representing its rashness, and the hardships
and perils to which it would expose him. He earnestly advised
him, however he might feel dissatisfied with the enterprise,
still to continue on in company until they should reach the mouth
of Columbia River. There they would meet the expedition that was
to come by sea; when, should he still feel disposed to relinquish
the undertaking, Mr. Hunt pledged himself to furnish him a
passage home in one of the vessels belonging to the company.

To all this Miller replied abruptly, that it was useless to argue
with him, as his mind was made up. They might furnish him, or
not, as they pleased, with the necessary supplies, but he was
determined to part company here, and set off with the trappers.
So saying, he flung out of their presence without vouchsafing any
further conversation.

Much as this wayward conduct gave them anxiety, the partners saw
it was in vain to remonstrate. Every attention was paid to fit
him out for his headstrong undertaking. He was provided with four
horses, and all the articles he required. The two Snakes
undertook to conduct him and his companions to an encampment of
their tribe, lower down among the mountains, from whom they would
receive information as to the trapping grounds. After thus
guiding them, the Snakes were to return to Fort Henry, as the new
trading post was called, and take charge of the horses which the
party would leave there, of which, after all the hunters were
supplied, there remained seventy-seven. These matters being all
arranged, Mr. Miller set out with his companions, under guidance
of the two Snakes, on the 10th of October; and much did it grieve
the friends of that gentleman to see him thus wantonly casting
himself loose upon savage life. How he and his comrades fared in
the wilderness, and how the Snakes acquitted themselves of their
trust respecting the horses, will hereafter appear in the course
of these rambling anecdotes.

                         CHAPTER XXXII.
Scanty Fare.- A Mendicant Snake.- Embarkation on Henry River- Joy
of the Voyageurs.-Arrival at Snake River.- Rapids and Breakers. -
  Beginning of Misfortunes.- Snake Encampments.- Parley With a
Savage.- A Second Disaster. - Loss of a Boatman.- The Caldron

WHILE the canoes were in preparation, the hunters ranged about
the neighborhood, but with little success. Tracks of buffaloes
were to be seen in all directions, but none of a fresh date.
There were some elk, but extremely wild; two only were killed.
Antelopes were likewise seen, but too shy and fleet to be
approached. A few beavers were taken every night, and salmon
trout of a small size, so that the camp had principally to
subsist upon dried buffalo meat.

On the 14th, a poor, half-naked Snake Indian, one of that forlorn
caste called the Shuckers, or Diggers, made his appearance at the
camp. He came from some lurking-place among the rocks and cliffs,
and presented a picture of that famishing wretchedness to which
these lonely fugitives among the mountains are sometimes reduced.
Having received wherewithal to allay his hunger, he disappeared,
but in the course of a day or two returned to the camp, bringing
with him his son, a miserable boy, still more naked and forlorn
than himself. Food was given to both; they skulked about the camp
like hungry hounds, seeking what they might devour, and having
gathered up the feet and entrails of some beavers that were lying
about, slunk off with them to their den among the rocks.

By the 18th of October, fifteen canoes were completed, and on the
following day the party embarked with their effects; leaving
their horses grazing about the banks, and trusting to the honesty
of the two Snakes, and some special turn of good luck for their
future recovery.

The current bore them along at a rapid rate; the light spirits of
the Canadian voyageurs, which had occasionally flagged upon land,
rose to their accustomed buoyancy on finding themselves again
upon the water. They wielded their paddles with their wonted
dexterity, and for the first time made the mountains echo with
their favorite boat songs.

In the course of the day the little squadron arrived at the
confluence of Henry and Mad Rivers, which, thus united, swelled
into a beautiful stream of a light pea-green color, navigable for
boats of any size, and which, from the place of junction, took
the name of Snake River, a stream doomed to be the scene of much
disaster to the travellers. The banks were here and there fringed
with willow thickets and small cotton-wood trees. The weather was
cold, and it snowed all day, and great flocks of ducks and geese,
sporting in the water or streaming through the air, gave token
that winter was at hand; yet the hearts of the travellers were
light, and, as they glided down the little river, they flattered
themselves with the hope of soon reaching the Columbia. After
making thirty miles in a southerly direction, they encamped for
the night in a neighborhood which required some little vigilance,
as there were recent traces of grizzly bears among the thickets.

On the following day the river increased in width and beauty;
flowing parallel to a range of mountains on the left, which at
times were finely reflected in its light green waters. The three
snowy summits of the Pilot Knobs or Tetons were still seen
towering in the distance. After pursuing a swift but placid
course for twenty miles, the current began to foam and brawl, and
assume the wild and broken character common to the streams west
of the Rocky Mountains. In fact the rivers which flow from those
mountains to the Pacific are essentially different from those
which traverse the prairies on their eastern declivities. The
latter, though sometimes boisterous, are generally free from
obstructions, and easily navigated; but the rivers to the west of
the mountains descend more steeply and impetuously, and are
continually liable to cascades and rapids. The latter abounded in
the part of the river which the travellers were now descending.
Two of the canoes filled among the breakers; the crews were
saved, but much of the lading was lost or damaged, and one of the
canoes drifted down the stream and was broken among the rocks.

On the following day, October 21st, they made but a short
distance when they came to a dangerous strait, where the river
was compressed for nearly half a mile between perpendicular
rocks, reducing it to the width of twenty yards, and increasing
its violence. Here they were obliged to pass the canoes down
cautiously by a line from the impending banks. This consumed a
great part of a day; and after they had reembarked they were soon
again impeded by rapids, when they had to unload their canoes and
carry them and their cargoes for some distance by land. It is at
these places, called "portages," that the Canadian voyageur
exhibits his most valuable qualities; carrying heavy burdens, and
toiling to and fro, on land and in the water, over rocks and
precipices, among brakes and brambles, not only without a murmur,
but with the greatest cheerfulness and alacrity, joking and
laughing and singing scraps of old French ditties.

The spirits of the party, however, which had been elated on first
varying their journeying from land to water, had now lost some of
their buoyancy. Everything ahead was wrapped in uncertainty. They
knew nothing of the river on which they were floating. It had
never been navigated by a white man, nor could they meet with an
Indian to give them any information concerning it. It kept on its
course through a vast wilderness of silent and apparently
uninhabited mountains, without a savage wigwam upon its banks, or
bark upon its waters. The difficulties and perils they had
already passed made them apprehend others before them, that might
effectually bar their progress. As they glided onward, however,
they regained heart and hope. The current continued to be strong;
but it was steady, and though they met with frequent rapids, none
of them were bad. Mountains were constantly to be seen in
different directions, but sometimes the swift river glided
through prairies, and was bordered by small cotton-wood trees and
willows. These prairies at certain seasons are ranged by
migratory herds of the wide-wandering buffalo, the tracks of
which, though not of recent date, were frequently to be seen.
Here, too, were to be found the prickly pear or Indian fig, a
plant which loves a more southern climate. On the land were large
flights of magpies and American robins; whole fleets of ducks and
geese navigated the river, or flew off in long streaming files at
the approach of the canoes; while the frequent establishments of
the painstaking and quiet-loving beaver showed that the solitude
of these waters was rarely disturbed, even by the all-pervading

They had now come near two hundred and eighty miles since leaving
Fort Henry, yet without seeing a human being, or a human
habitation; a wild and desert solitude extended on either side of
the river, apparently almost destitute of animal life. At length,
on the 24th of October, they were gladdened by the sight of some
savage tents, and hastened to land and visit them, for they were
anxious to procure information to guide them on their route. On
their approach, however, the savages fled in consternation. They
proved to be a wandering band of Shoshonies. In their tents were
great quantities of small fish about two inches long, together
with roots and seeds, or grain, which they were drying for winter
provisions. They appeared to be destitute of tools of any kind,
yet there were bows and arrows very well made; the former were
formed of pine, cedar, or bone, strengthened by sinews, and the
latter of the wood of rosebushes, and other crooked plants, but
carefully straightened, and tipped with stone of a bottle-green

There were also vessels of willow and grass, so closely wrought
as to hold water, and a seine neatly made with meshes, in the
ordinary manner, of the fibres of wild flax or nettle. The humble
effects of the poor savages remained unmolested by their
visitors, and a few small articles, with a knife or two, were
left in the camp, and were no doubt regarded as invaluable

Shortly after leaving this deserted camp, and reembarking in the
canoes, the travellers met with three of the Snakes on a
triangular raft made of flags or reeds; such was their rude mode
of navigating the river. They were entirely naked excepting small
mantles of hare skins over their shoulders. The canoes approached
near enough to gain a full view of them, but they were not to be
brought to a parley.

All further progress for the day was barred by a fall in the
river of about thirty feet perpendicular; at the head of which
the party encamped for the night.

The next day was one of excessive toil and but little progress:
the river winding through a wild rocky country, and being
interrupted by frequent rapids, among which the canoes were in
great peril. On the succeeding day they again visited a camp of
wandering Snakes, but the inhabitants fled with terror at the
sight of a fleet of canoes, filled with white men, coming down
their solitary river.

As Mr. Hunt was extremely anxious to gain information concerning
his route, he endeavored by all kinds of friendly signs to entice
back the fugitives. At length one, who was on horseback, ventured
back with fear and trembling. He was better clad, and in better
condition, than most of his vagrant tribe that Mr. Hunt had yet
seen. The chief object of his return appeared to be to intercede
for a quantity of dried meat and salmon trout, which he had left
behind; on which, probably, he depended for his winter's
subsistence. The poor wretch approached with hesitation, the
alternate dread of famine and of white men operating upon his
mind. He made the most abject signs, imploring Mr. Hunt not to
carry off his food. The latter tried in every way to reassure
him, and offered him knives in exchange for his provisions; great
as was the temptation, the poor Snake could only prevail upon
himself to spare a part; keeping a feverish watch over the rest,
lest it should be taken away. It was in vain Mr. Hunt made
inquiries of him concerning his route, and the course of the
river. The Indian was too much frightened and bewildered to
comprehend him or to reply; he did nothing but alternately
commend himself to the protection of the Good Spirit, and
supplicate Mr. Hunt not to take away his fish and buffalo meat;
and in this state they left him, trembling about his treasures.

In the course of that and the next day they made nearly eight
miles; the river inclined to the south of west, and being clear
and beautiful, nearly half a mile in width, with many populous
communities of the beaver along its banks. The 28th of October,
however, was a day of disaster. The river again became rough and
impetuous, and was chafed and broken by numerous rapids. These
grew more and more dangerous, and the utmost skill was required
to steer among them. Mr. Crooks was seated in the second canoe of
the squadron, and had an old experienced Canadian for steersman,
named Antoine Clappine, one of the most valuable of the
voyageurs. The leading canoe had glided safely among the
turbulent and roaring surges, but in following it, Mr. Crooks
perceived that his canoe was bearing towards a rock. He called
out to the steersman, but his warning voice was either unheard or
unheeded. In the next moment they struck upon the rock. The canoe
was split and overturned. There were five persons on board. Mr.
Crooks and one of his companions were thrown amidst roaring
breakers and a whirling current, but succeeded, by strong
swimming, to reach the shore. Clappine and two others clung to
the shattered bark, and drifted with it to a rock. The wreck
struck the rock with one end, and swinging round, flung poor
Clappine off into the raging stream, which swept him away, and he
perished. His comrades succeeded in getting upon the rock, from
whence they were afterwards taken off.

This disastrous event brought the whole squadron to a halt, and
struck a chill into every bosom. Indeed they had arrived at a
terrific strait, that forbade all further progress in the canoes,
and dismayed the most experienced voyageur. The whole body of the
river was compressed into a space of less than thirty feet in
width, between two ledges of rocks, upwards of two hundred feet
high, and formed a whirling and tumultuous vortex, so frightfully
agitated as to receive the name of "The Caldron Linn." Beyond
this fearful abyss, the river kept raging and roaring on, until
lost to sight among impending precipices.

                        CHAPTER XXXIII.
    Gloomy Council.-Exploring Parties- Discouraging Reports-
Disastrous Experiment.- Detachments in Quest of Succor.- Caches,
  How Made. -Return of One of the Detachments- Unsuccessful.-
       Further Disappointments- The Devil's Scuttle Hole

MR. HUNT and his companions encamped upon the borders of the
Caldron Linn, and held gloomy counsel as to their future course.
The recent wreck had dismayed even the voyageurs, and the fate of
their popular comrade, Clappine, one of the most adroit and
experienced of their fraternity, had struck sorrow to their
hearts, for with all their levity, these thoughtless beings have
great kindness towards each other.

The whole distance they had navigated since leaving Henry's Fort
was computed to be about three hundred and forty miles; strong
apprehensions were now entertained that the tremendous
impediments before them would oblige them to abandon their
canoes. It was determined to send exploring parties on each side
of the river to ascertain whether it was possible to navigate it
further. Accordingly, on the following morning, three men were
despatched along the south bank, while Mr. Hunt and three others
proceeded along the north. The two parties returned after a weary
scramble among swamps, rocks, and precipices, and with very
disheartening accounts. For nearly forty miles that they had
explored, the river foamed and roared along through a deep and
narrow channel, from twenty to thirty yards wide, which it had
worn, in the course of ages, through the heart of a barren, rocky
country. The precipices on each side were often two and three
hundred feet high, sometimes perpendicular, and sometimes
overhanging, so that it was impossible, excepting in one or two
places, to get down to the margin of the stream. This dreary
strait was rendered the more dangerous by frequent rapids, and
occasionally perpendicular falls from ten to forty feet in
height; so that it seemed almost hopeless to attempt to pass the
canoes down it. The party, however, who had explored the south
side of the river, had found a place, about six miles from the
camp, where they thought it possible the canoes might be carried
down the bank and launched upon the stream, and from whence they
might make their way with the aid of occasional portages. Four of
the best canoes were accordingly selected for the experiment, and
were transported to the place on the shoulders of sixteen of the
men. At the same time Mr. Reed, the clerk, and three men were
detached to explore the river still further down than the
previous scouting parties had been, and at the same time to look
out for Indians, from whom provisions might be obtained, and a
supply of horses, should it be found necessary to proceed by

The party who had been sent with the canoes returned on the
following day, weary and dejected. One of the canoes had been
swept away with all the weapons and effects of four of the
voyageurs, in attempting to pass it down a rapid by means of a
line. The other three had stuck fast among the rocks, so that it
was impossible to move them; the men returned, therefore, in
despair, and declared the river unnavigable.

The situation of the unfortunate travellers was now gloomy in the
extreme. They were in the heart of an unknown wilderness,
untraversed as yet by a white man. They were at a loss what route
to take, and how far they were from the ultimate place of their
destination, nor could they meet in these uninhabited wilds with
any human being to give them information. The repeated accidents
to their canoes had reduced their stock of provisions to five
days' allowance, and there was now every appearance of soon
having famine added to their other sufferings.

This last circumstance rendered it more perilous to keep together
than to separate. Accordingly, after a little anxious but
bewildered counsel, it was determined that several small
detachments should start off in different directions, headed by
the several partners. Should any of them succeed in falling in
with friendly Indians, within a reasonable distance, and
obtaining a supply of provisions and horses, they were to return
to the aid of the main body: otherwise they were to shift for
themselves, and shape their course according to circumstances;
keeping the mouth of the Columbia River as the ultimate point of
their wayfaring. Accordingly, three several parties set off from
the camp at Caldron Linn, in opposite directions. Mr. M'Lellan,
with three men, kept down along the bank of the river. Mr.
Crooks, with five others, turned their steps up it; retracing by
land the weary course they had made by water, intending, should
they not find relief nearer at hand, to keep on until they should
reach Henry's Fort, where they hoped to find the horses they had
left there, and to return with them to the main body.

The third party, composed of five men, was headed by Mr.
M'Kenzie, who struck to the northward, across the desert plains,
in hopes of coming upon the main stream of the Columbia.

Having seen these three adventurous bands depart upon their
forlorn expeditions, Mr. Hunt turned his thoughts to provide for
the subsistence of the main body left to his charge, and to
prepare for their future march. There remained with him thirty-
one men, besides the squaw and two children of Pierre Dorion.
There was no game to be met with in the neighborhood; but beavers
were occasionally trapped about the river banks, which afforded a
scanty supply of food; in the meantime they comforted themselves
that some one or other of the foraging detachments would be
successful, and return with relief.

Mr. Hunt now set to work with all diligence, to prepare caches,
in which to deposit the baggage and merchandise, of which it
would be necessary to disburden themselves, preparatory to their
weary march by land: and here we shall give a brief description
of those contrivances, so noted in the wilderness.

A cache is a term common among traders and hunters, to designate
a hiding-place for provisions and effects. It is derived from the
French word "cacher", to conceal, and originated among the early
colonists of Canada and Louisiana; but the secret depository
which it designates was in use among the aboriginals long before
the intrusion of the white men. It is, in fact, the only mode
that migratory hordes have of preserving their valuables from
robbery, during their long absences from their villages or
accustomed haunts, on hunting expeditions, or during the
vicissitudes of war. The utmost skill and caution are required to
render these places of concealment invisible to the lynx eye of
an Indian. The first care is to seek out a proper situation,
which is generally some dry, low, bank of clay, on the margin of
a water-course. As soon as the precise spot is pitched upon,
blankets, saddle-cloths, and other coverings are spread over the
surrounding grass and bushes, to prevent foot-tracks, or any
other derangement; and as few hands as possible are employed. A
circle of about two feet in diameter is then nicely cut in the
sod, which is carefully removed, with the loose soil immediately
beneath it, and laid aside in a place where it will be safe from
anything that may change its appearance. The uncovered area is
then digged perpendicularly to the depth of about three feet, and
is then gradually widened so as to form a conical chamber six or
seven feet deep. The whole of the earth displaced by this
process, being of a different color from that an the surface, is
handed up in a vessel, and heaped into a skin or cloth, in which
it is conveyed to the stream and thrown into the midst of the
current, that it may be entirely carried off. Should the cache
not be formed in the vicinity of a stream, the earth thus thrown
up is carried to a distance, and scattered in such manner as not
to leave the minutest trace. The cave, being formed, is well
lined with dry grass, bark, sticks, and poles, and occasionally a
dried hide. The property intended to be hidden is then laid in,
after having been well aired: a hide is spread over it, and dried
grass, brush, and stones thrown in, and trampled down until the
pit is filled to the neck. The loose soil which had been put
aside is then brought and rammed down firmly, to prevent its
caving in, and is frequently sprinkled with water, to destroy the
scent, lest the wolves and bears should be attracted to the
place, and root up the concealed treasure. When the neck of the
cache is nearly level with the surrounding surface, the sod is
again fitted in with the utmost exactness, and any bushes,
stocks, or stones, that may have originally been about the spot,
are restored to their former places. The blankets and other
coverings are then removed from the surrounding herbage; all
tracks are obliterated; the grass is gently raised by the hand to
its natural position, and the minutest chip or straw is
scrupulously gleaned up and thrown into the stream. After all
this is done, the place is abandoned for the night, and, if all
be right next morning, is not visited again, until there be a
necessity for reopening the cache. Four men are sufficient, in
this way, to conceal the amount of three tons weight of
merchandise in the course of two days. Nine caches were required
to contain the goods and baggage which Mr. Hunt found it
necessary to leave at this place.

Three days had been thus employed since the departure of the
several detachments, when that of Mr. Crooks unexpectedly made
its appearance. A momentary joy was diffused through the camp,
for they supposed succor to be at hand. It was soon dispelled.
Mr. Crooks and his companions had been completely disheartened by
this retrograde march through a bleak and barren country; and had
found, computing from their progress and the accumulating
difficulties besetting every step, that it would be impossible to
reach Henry's Fort and return to the main body in the course of
the winter. They had determined, therefore, to rejoin their
comrades, and share their lot.

One avenue of hope was thus closed upon the anxious sojourners at
the Caldron Linn; their main expectation of relief was now from
the two parties under Reed and M'Lellan, which had proceeded down
the river; for, as to Mr. M'Kenzie's detachment, which had struck
across the plains, they thought it would have sufficient
difficulty in struggling forward through the trackless
wilderness. For five days they continued to support themselves by
trapping and fishing. Some fish of tolerable size were speared at
night by the light of cedar torches; others, that were very
small, were caught in nets with fine meshes. The product of their
fishing, however, was very scanty. Their trapping was also
precarious; and the tails and bellies of the beavers were dried
and put by for the journey.

At length two of the companions of Mr. Reed returned, and were
hailed with the most anxious eagerness. Their report served but
to increase the general despondency. They had followed Mr. Reed
for some distance below the point to which Mr. Hunt had explored,
but had met with no Indians from whom to obtain information and
relief. The river still presented the same furious aspect,
brawling and boiling along a narrow and rugged channel, between
rocks that rose like walls.

A lingering hope, which had been indulged by some of the party,
of proceeding by water, was now finally given up: the long and
terrific strait of the river set all further progress at
defiance, and in their disgust at the place, and their vexation
at the disasters sustained there, they gave it the indignant,
though not very decorous, appellation of the Devil's Scuttle

                         CHAPTER XXXIV.
Determination of the Party to Proceed on Foot.- Dreary Deserts
Between Snake River and the Columbia.- Distribution of Effects
  Preparatory to a March- Division of the Party.- Rugged March
Along the River.-Wild and Broken Scenery.- Shoshonies.- Alarm of
a Snake Encampment- Intercourse with the Snakes.- Horse Dealing.
   - Value of a Tin Kettle.- Sufferings From Thirst- A Horse
Reclaimed. -Fortitude of an Indian Woman.- Scarcity of Food.-
Dog's Flesh a Dainty.-News of Mr. Crooks and His Party.-Painful
Travelling Among the Mountains.- Snow Storms.- A Dreary Mountain
Prospect. -A Bivouac During a Wintry Night.- Return to the River

THE resolution of Mr. Hunt and his companions was now taken to
set out immediately on foot. As to the other detachments that had
in a manner gone forth to seek their fortunes, there was little
chance of their return; they would probably make their own way
through the wilderness. At any rate, to linger in the vague hope
of relief from them would be to run the risk of perishing with
hunger. Besides, the winter was rapidly advancing, and they had a
long journey to make through an unknown country, where all kinds
of perils might await them. They were yet, in fact, a thousand
miles from Astoria, but the distance was unknown to them at the
time: everything before and around them was vague and
conjectural, and wore an aspect calculated to inspire

In abandoning the river, they would have to launch forth upon
vast trackless plains destitute of all means of subsistence,
where they might perish of hunger and thirst. A dreary desert of
sand and gravel extends from Snake River almost to the Columbia.
Here and there is a thin and scanty herbage, insufficient for the
pasturage of horse or buffalo. Indeed, these treeless wastes
between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific are even more
desolate and barren than the naked, upper prairies on the
Atlantic side; they present vast desert tracts that must ever
defy cultivation, and interpose dreary and thirsty wilds between
the habitations of man, in traversing which the wanderer will
often be in danger of perishing.

Seeing the hopeless character of these wastes, Mr. Hunt and his
companions determined to keep along the course of the river,
where they would always have water at hand, and would be able
occasionally to procure fish and beaver, and might perchance meet
with Indians, from whom they could obtain provisions.

They now made their final preparations for the march. All their
remaining stock of provisions consisted of forty pounds of Indian
corn, twenty pounds of grease, about five pounds of portable
soup, and a sufficient quantity of dried meat to allow each man a
pittance of five pounds and a quarter, to be reserved for
emergencies. This being properly distributed, they deposited all
their goods and superfluous articles in the caches, taking
nothing with them but what was indispensable to the journey. With
all their management, each man had to carry twenty pounds' weight
besides his own articles and equipments.

That they might have the better chance of procuring subsistence
in the scanty region they were to traverse, they divided their
party into two bands. Mr. Hunt, with eighteen men, besides Pierre
Dorion and his family, was to proceed down the north side of the
river, while Mr. Crooks, with eighteen men, kept along the south

On the morning of the 9th of October, the two parties separated
and set forth on their several courses. Mr. Hunt and his
companions followed along the right bank of the river, which made
its way far below them, brawling at the foot of perpendicular
precipices of solid rock, two and three hundred feet high. For
twenty-eight miles that they travelled this day, they found it
impossible to get down to the margin of the stream. At the end of
this distance they encamped for the night at a place which
admitted a scrambling descent. It was with the greatest
difficulty, however, that they succeeded in getting up a kettle
of water from the river for the use of the camp. As some rain had
fallen in the afternoon, they passed the night under the shelter
of the rocks.

The next day they continued thirty-two miles to the northwest,
keeping along the river, which still ran in its deep-cut channel.
Here and there a shady beach or a narrow strip of soil, fringed
with dwarf willows, would extend for a little distance along the
foot of the cliffs, and sometimes a reach of still water would
intervene like a smooth mirror between the foaming rapids.

As through the preceding day, they journeyed on without finding,
except in one instance, any place where they could get down to
the river's edge, and they were fain to allay the thirst caused
by hard travelling, with the water collected in the hollow of the

In the course of their march on the following morning, they fell
into a beaten horse path leading along the river, which showed
that they were in the neighborhood of some Indian village or
encampment. They had not proceeded far along it, when they met
with two Shoshonies, or Snakes. They approached with some
appearance of uneasiness, and accosting Mr. Hunt, held up a
knife, which by signs they let him know they had received from
some of the white men of the advance parties. It was with some
difficulties that Mr. Hunt prevailed upon one of the savages to
conduct him to the lodges of his people. Striking into a trail or
path which led up from the river, he guided them for some
distance in the prairie, until they came in sight of a number of
lodges made of straw, and shaped like hay-stacks. Their approach,
as on former occasions, caused the wildest affright among the
inhabitants. The women hid such of their children as were too
large to be carried, and too small to take care of themselves,
under straw, and, clasping their infants to their breasts, fled
across the prairie. The men awaited the approach of the
strangers, but evidently in great alarm.

Mr. Hunt entered the lodges, and, as he was looking about,
observed where the children were concealed; their black eyes
glistening like those of snakes, from beneath the straw. He
lifted up the covering to look at them; the poor little beings
were horribly frightened, and their fathers stood trembling, as
if a beast of prey were about to pounce upon their brood.

The friendly manner of Mr. Hunt soon dispelled these
apprehensions; he succeeded in purchasing some excellent dried
salmon, and a dog, an animal much esteemed as food by the
natives; and when he returned to the river one of the Indians
accompanied him. He now came to where the lodges were frequent
along the banks, and, after a day's journey of twenty-six miles
to the northwest, encamped in a populous neighborhood. Forty or
fifty of the natives soon visited the camp, conducting themselves
in a very amicable manner. They were well clad, and all had
buffalo robes, which they procured from some of the hunting
tribes in exchange for salmon. Their habitations were very
comfortable; each had its pile of wormwood at the door for fuel,
and within was abundance of salmon, some fresh, but the greater
part cured. When the white men visited the lodges, however, the
women and children hid themselves through fear. Among the
supplies obtained here were two dogs, on which our travellers
breakfasted, and found them to be very excellent, well-flavored,
and hearty food.

In the course of the three following days they made about sixty-
three miles, generally in a northwest direction. They met with
many of the natives in their straw-built cabins, who received
them without alarm. About their dwellings were immense quantities
of the heads and skins of salmon, the best part of which had been
cured, and hidden in the ground. The women were badly clad; the
children worse; their garments were buffalo robes, or the skins
of foxes, hares, and badgers, and sometimes the skins of ducks,
sewed together, with the plumage on. Most of the skins must have
been procured by traffic with other tribes, or in distant hunting
excursions, for the naked prairies in the neighborhood afforded
few animals, excepting horses, which were abundant. There were
signs of buffaloes having been there, but a long time before.

On the 15th of November they made twenty-eight miles along the
river, which was entirely free from rapids. The shores were lined
with dead salmon, which tainted the whole atmosphere. The natives
whom they met spoke of Mr. Reed's party having passed through
that neighborhood. In the course of the day Mr. Hunt saw a few
horses, but the owners of them took care to hurry them out of the
way. All the provisions they were able to procure were two dogs
and a salmon. On the following day they were still worse off,
having to subsist on parched corn and the remains of their dried
meat. The river this day had resumed its turbulent character,
forcing its way through a narrow channel between steep rocks and
down violent rapids. They made twenty miles over a rugged road,
gradually approaching a mountain in the northwest, covered with
snow, which had been in sight for three days past.

On the 17th they met with several Indians, one of whom had a
horse. Mr. Hunt was extremely desirous of obtaining it as a pack-
horse; for the men, worn down by fatigue and hunger, found the
loads of twenty pounds' weight which they had to carry, daily
growing heavier and more galling. The Indians, however, along
this river, were never willing to part with their horses, having
none to spare. The owner of the steed in question seemed proof
against all temptation; article after article of great value in
Indian eyes was offered and refused. The charms of an old tin-
kettle, however, were irresistible, and a bargain was concluded.

A great part of the following morning was consumed in lightening
the packages of the men and arranging the load for the horse. At
this encampment there was no wood for fuel, even the wormwood on
which they had frequently depended having disappeared. For the
two last days they had made thirty miles to the northwest.

On the 19th of November, Mr. Hunt was lucky enough to purchase
another horse for his own use, giving in exchange a tomahawk, a
knife, a fire steel, and some beads and gartering. In an evil
hour, however, he took the advice of the Indians to abandon the
river, and follow a road or trail leading into the prairies. He
soon had cause to regret the change. The road led across a dreary
waste, without verdure; and where there was neither fountain, nor
pool, nor running stream. The men now began to experience the
torments of thirst, aggravated by their diet of dried fish. The
thirst of the Canadian voyageurs became so insupportable as to
drive them to the most revolting means of allaying it. For
twenty-five miles did they toll on across this dismal desert, and
laid themselves down at night, parched and disconsolate, beside
their wormwood fires; looking forward to still greater sufferings
on the following day. Fortunately it began to rain in the night,
to their infinite relief; the water soon collected in puddles and
afforded them delicious draughts.

Refreshed in this manner, they resumed their wayfaring as soon as
the first streaks of dawn gave light enough for them to see their
path. The rain continued all day, so that they no longer suffered
from thirst, but hunger took its place, for after travelling
thirty-three miles they had nothing to sup on but a little
parched corn.

The next day brought them to the banks of a beautiful little
stream, running to the west, and fringed with groves of
cottonwood and willow. On its borders was an Indian camp, with a
great many horses grazing around it. The inhabitants, too,
appeared to be better clad than usual. The scene was altogether a
cheering one to the poor half-famished wanderers. They hastened
to their lodges, but on arriving at them met with a check that at
first dampened their cheerfulness. An Indian immediately laid
claim to the horse of Mr. Hunt, saying that it had been stolen
from him. There was no disproving a fact supported by numerous
bystanders, and which the horse stealing habits of the Indians
rendered but too probable; so Mr. Hunt relinquished his steed to
the claimant; not being able to retain him by a second purchase.

At this place they encamped for the night, and made a sumptuous
repast upon fish and a couple of dogs, procured from their Indian
neighbors. The next day they kept along the river, but came to a
halt after ten miles' march, on account of the rain. Here they
again got a supply of fish and dogs from the natives; and two of
the men were fortunate enough each to get a horse in exchange for
a buffalo robe. One of these men was Pierre Dorion, the half-
breed interpreter, to whose suffering family the horse was a
timely acquisition. And here we cannot but notice the wonderful
patience, perseverance, and hardihood of the Indian women, as
exemplified in the conduct of the poor squaw of the interpreter.
She was now far advanced in her pregnancy, and had two children
to take care of; one four, and the other two years of age. The
latter of course she had frequently to carry on her back, in
addition to the burden usually imposed upon the squaw, yet she
had borne all her hardships without a murmur, and throughout this
weary and painful journey had kept pace with the best of the
pedestrians. Indeed on various occasions in the course of this
enterprise, she displayed a force of character that won the
respect and applause of the white men.

Mr. Hunt endeavored to gather some information from these Indians
concerning the country and the course of the rivers. His
communications with them had to be by signs, and a few words
which he had learnt, and of course were extremely vague. All that
he could learn from them was that the great river, the Columbia,
was still far distant, but he could ascertain nothing as to the
route he ought to take to arrive at it. For the two following
days they continued westward upwards of forty miles along the
little stream, until they crossed it just before its junction
with Snake River, which they found still running to the north.
Before them was a wintry-looking mountain covered with snow on
all sides.

In three days more they made about seventy miles; fording two
small rivers, the waters of which were very cold. Provisions were
extremely scarce; their chief sustenance was portable soup; a
meagre diet for weary pedestrians.

On the 27th of November the river led them into the mountains
through a rocky defile where there was scarcely room to pass.
They were frequently obliged to unload the horses to get them by
the narrow places; and sometimes to wade through the water in
getting round rocks and butting cliffs. All their food this day
was a beaver which they had caught the night before; by evening,
the cravings of hunger were so sharp, and the prospect of any
supply among the mountains so faint, that they had to kill one of
the horses. "The men," says Mr. Hunt in his journal, "find the
meat very good, and, indeed, so should I, were it not for the
attachment I have to the animal."

Early the following day, after proceeding ten miles to the north,
they came to two lodges of Shoshonies, who seemed in nearly as
great extremity as themselves, having just killed two horses for
food. They had no other provisions excepting the seed of a weed
which they gather in great quantities, and pound fine. It
resembles hemp-seed. Mr. Hunt purchased a bag of it, and also
some small pieces of horse flesh, which he began to relish,
pronouncing them "fat and tender."

From these Indians he received information that several white men
had gone down the river, some one side, and a good many on the
other; these last he concluded to be Mr. Crooks and his party. He
was thus released from much anxiety about their safety,
especially as the Indians spoke about Mr. Crooks having one of
his dogs yet, which showed that he and his men had not been
reduced to extremity of hunger.

As Mr. Hunt feared that he might be several days in passing
through this mountain defile, and run the risk of famine, he
encamped in the neighborhood of the Indians, for the purpose of
bartering with them for a horse. The evening was expended in
ineffectual trials. He offered a gun, a buffalo robe, and various
other articles. The poor fellows had, probably, like himself, the
fear of starvation before their eyes. At length the women,
learning the object of his pressing solicitations and tempting
offers, set up such a terrible hue and cry that he was fairly
howled and scolded from the ground.

The next morning early, the Indians seemed very desirous to get
rid of their visitors, fearing, probably, for the safety of their
horses. In reply to Mr. Hunt's inquiries about the mountains,
they told him that he would have to sleep but three nights more
among them; and that six days' travelling would take him to the
falls of the Columbia; information in which he put no faith,
believing it was only given to induce him to set forward. These,
he was told, were the last Snakes he would meet with, and that he
would soon come to a nation called Sciatogas.

Forward then did he proceed on his tedious journey, which, at
every step, grew more painful. The road continued for two days
through narrow defiles, where they were repeatedly obliged to
unload the horses. Sometimes the river passed through such rocky
chasms and under such steep precipices that they had to leave it,
and make their way, with excessive labor, over immense hills,
almost impassable for horses. On some of these hills were a few
pine trees, and their summits were covered with snow. On the
second day of this scramble one of the hunters killed a black-
tailed deer, which afforded the half-starved travellers a
sumptuous repast. Their progress these two days was twenty-eight
miles, a little to the northward of east.

The month of December set in drearily, with rain in the valleys
and snow upon the hills. They had to climb a mountain with snow
to the midleg, which increased their painful toil. A small beaver
supplied them with a scanty meal, which they eked out with frozen
blackberries, haws, and choke-cherries, which they found in the
course of their scramble. Their journey this day, though
excessively fatiguing, was but thirteen miles; and all the next
day they had to remain encamped, not being able to see half a
mile ahead, on account of a snow-storm. Having nothing else to
eat, they were compelled to kill another of their horses. The
next day they resumed their march in snow and rain, but with all
their efforts could only get forward nine miles, having for a
part of the distance to unload the horses and carry the packs
themselves. On the succeeding morning they were obliged to leave
the river and scramble up the hills. From the summit of these,
they got a wide view of the surrounding country, and it was a
prospect almost sufficient to make them despair. In every
direction they beheld snowy mountains, partially sprinkled with
pines and other evergreens, and spreading a desert and toilsome
world around them. The wind howled over the bleak and wintry
landscape, and seemed to penetrate to the marrow of their bones.
They waded on through the snow, which at every step was more than
knee deep.

After tolling in this way all day, they had the mortification to
find that they were but four miles distant from the encampment of
the preceding night, such was the meandering of the river among
these dismal hills. Pinched with famine, exhausted with fatigue,
with evening approaching, and a wintry wild still lengthening as
they advanced, they began to look forward with sad forebodings to
the night's exposure upon this frightful waste. Fortunately they
succeeded in reaching a cluster of pines about sunset. Their axes
were immediately at work; they cut down trees, piled them in
great heaps, and soon had huge fires "to cheer their cold and
hungry hearts."

About three o'clock in the morning it again began to snow, and at
daybreak they found themselves, as it were, in a cloud, scarcely
being able to distinguish objects at the distance of a hundred
yards. Guarding themselves by the sound of running water, they
set out for the river, and by slipping and sliding contrived to
get down to its bank. One of the horses, missing his footing,
rolled down several hundred yards with his load, but sustained no
injury. The weather in the valley was less rigorous than on the
hills. The snow lay but ankle deep, and there was a quiet rain
now falling. After creeping along for six miles, they encamped on
the border of the river. Being utterly destitute of provisions,
they were again compelled to kill one of their horses to appease
their famishing hunger.

                         CHAPTER XXXV.
An Unexpected Meeting.-Navigation in a Skin Canoe.-Strange Fears
  of Suffering Men.-Hardships of Mr. Crooks and His Comrades.-
Tidings of MLellan.- A Retrograde March.- A Willow Raft.- Extreme
    Suffering of Some of the Party - Illness of Mr. Crooks.-
Impatience of Some of the Men.- Necessity of Leaving the Laggards

THE wanderers had now accomplished four hundred and seventy-two
miles of their dreary journey since leaving the Caldron Linn; how
much further they had yet to travel, and what hardships to
encounter, no one knew.

On the morning of the 6th of December, they left their dismal
encampment, but had scarcely begun their march when, to their
surprise, they beheld a party of white men coming up along the
opposite bank of the river. As they drew nearer, they were
recognized for Mr. Crooks and his companions. When they came
opposite, and could make themselves heard across the murmuring of
the river, their first cry was for food; in fact, they were
almost starved. Mr. Hunt immediately returned to the camp, and
had a kind of canoe made out of the skin of the horse killed on
the preceding night. This was done after the Indian fashion, by
drawing up the edges of the skin with thongs, and keeping them
distended by sticks or thwart pieces. In this frail bark,
Sardepie, one of the Canadians, carried over a portion of the
flesh of the horse to the famishing party on the opposite side of
the river, and brought back with him Mr. Crooks and the Canadian,
Le Clerc. The forlorn and wasted looks and starving condition of
these two men struck dismay to the hearts of Mr. Hunt's
followers. They had been accustomed to each other's appearance,
and to the gradual operation of hunger and hardship upon their
frames, but the change in the looks of these men, since last they
parted, was a type of the famine and desolation of the land; and
they now began to indulge the horrible presentiment that they
would all starve together, or be reduced to the direful
alternative of casting lots!

When Mr. Crooks had appeased his hunger, he gave Mr. Hunt some
account of his wayfaring. On the side of the river along which he
had kept, he had met with but few Indians, and those were too
miserably poor to yield much assistance. For the first eighteen
days after leaving the Caldron Linn, he and his men had been
confined to half a meal in twenty-four hours; for three days
following, they had subsisted on a single beaver, a few wild
cherries, and the soles of old moccasins; and for the last six
days their only animal food had been the carcass of a dog. They
had been three days' journey further down the river than Mr.
Hunt, always keeping as near to its banks as possible, and
frequently climbing over sharp and rocky ridges that projected
into the stream. At length they had arrived to where the
mountains increased in height, and came closer to the river, with
perpendicular precipices, which rendered it impossible to keep
along the stream. The river here rushed with incredible velocity
through a defile not more than thirty yards wide, where cascades
and rapids succeeded each other almost without intermission. Even
had the opposite banks, therefore, been such as to permit a
continuance of their journey, it would have been madness to
attempt to pass the tumultuous current either on rafts or
otherwise. Still bent, however, on pushing forward, they
attempted to climb the opposing mountains; and struggled on
through the snow for half a day until, coming to where they could
command a prospect, they found that they were not half way to the
summit, and that mountain upon mountain lay piled beyond them, in
wintry desolation. Famished and emaciated as they were, to
continue forward would be to perish; their only chance seemed to
be to regain the river, and retrace their steps up its banks. It
was in this forlorn and retrograde march that they had met Mr.
Hunt and his party.

Mr. Crooks also gave information of some others of their fellow
adventurers. He had spoken several days previously with Mr. Reed
and Mr. M'Kenzie, who with their men were on the opposite side of
the river, where it was impossible to get over to them. They
informed him that Mr. M'Lellan had struck across from the little
river above the mountains, in the hope of falling in with some of
the tribe of Flatheads, who inhabit the western skirts of the
Rocky range. As the companions of Reed and M'Kenzie were picked
men, and had found provisions more abundant on their side of the
river, they were in better condition, and more fitted to contend
with the difficulties of the country, than those of Mr. Crooks,
and when he lost sight of them, were pushing onward, down the
course of the river.

Mr. Hunt took a night to revolve over his critical situation, and
to determine what was to be done. No time was to be lost; he had
twenty men and more in his own party, to provide for, and Mr.
Crooks and his men to relieve. To linger would be to starve. The
idea of retracing his steps was intolerable, and, notwithstanding
all the discouraging accounts of the ruggedness of the mountains
lower down the river, he would have been disposed to attempt
them, but the depth of the snow with which they were covered
deterred him; having already experienced the impossibility of
forcing his way against such an impediment.

The only alternative, therefore, appeared to be, return and seek
the Indian bands scattered along the small rivers above the
mountains. Perhaps, from some of these he might procure horses
enough to support him until he could reach the Columbia; for he
still cherished the hope of arriving at that river in the course
of the winter, though he was apprehensive that few of Mr.
Crooks's party would be sufficiently strong to follow him. Even
in adopting this course, he had to make up his mind to the
certainty of several days of famine at the outset, for it would
take that time to reach the last Indian lodges from which he had
parted, and until they should arrive there, his people would have
nothing to subsist upon but haws and wild berries, excepting one
miserable horse, which was little better than skin and bone.

After a night of sleepless cogitation, Mr. Hunt announced to his
men the dreary alternative he had adopted, and preparations were
made to take Mr. Crooks and Le Clerc across the river, with the
remainder of the meat, as the other party were to keep up along
the opposite bank. The skin canoe had unfortunately been lost in
the night; a raft was constructed therefore, after the manner of
the natives, of bundles of willows, but it could not be floated
across the impetuous current. The men were directed, in
consequence, to keep on along the river by themselves, while Mr.
Crooks and Le Clerc would proceed with Mr. Hunt. They all, then,
took up their retrograde march with drooping spirits.

In a little while, it was found that Mr. Crooks and Le Clerc were
so feeble as to walk with difficulty, so that Mr. Hunt was
obliged to retard his pace, that they might keep up with him. His
men grew impatient at the delay. They murmured that they had a
long and desolate region to traverse, before they could arrive at
the point where they might expect to find horses; that it was
impossible for Crooks and Le Clerc, in their feeble condition, to
get over it; that to remain with them would only be to starve in
their company. They importuned Mr. Hunt, therefore, to leave
these unfortunate men to their fate, and think only of the safety
of himself and his party. Finding him not to be moved either by
entreaties or their clamors, they began to proceed without him,
singly and in parties. Among those who thus went off was Pierre
Dorion, the interpreter. Pierre owned the only remaining horse;
which was now a mere skeleton. Mr. Hunt had suggested, in their
present extremity, that it should be killed for food; to which
the half-breed flatly refused his assent, and cudgeling the
miserable animal forward, pushed on sullenly, with the air of a
man doggedly determined to quarrel for his right. In this way Mr.
Hunt saw his men, one after another, break away, until but five
remained to bear him company.

On the following morning another raft was made, on which Mr.
Crooks and Le Clerc again attempted to ferry themselves across
the river, but after repeated trials had to give up in despair.
This caused additional delay; after which they continued to crawl
forward at a snail's pace. Some of the men who had remained with
Mr. Hunt now became impatient of these incumbrances, and urged
him clamorously to push forward, crying out that they should all
starve. The night which succeeded was intensely cold, so that one
of the men was severely frost-bitten. In the course of the night,
Mr. Crooks was taken ill, and in the morning was still more
incompetent to travel. Their situation was now desperate, for
their stock of provisions was reduced to three beaver skins. Mr.
Hunt, therefore, resolved to push on, overtake his people, and
insist upon having the horse of Pierre Dorion sacrificed for the
relief of all hands. Accordingly, he left two of his men to help
Crooks and Le Clerc on their way, giving them two of the beaver
skins for their support; the remaining skin he retained, as
provision for himself and the three other men who struck forward
with him.

                         CHAPTER XXXVI.
Mr. Hunt Overtakes the Advance Party.- Pierre Dorion, and His
  Skeleton Horse.- A Shoshonie Camp.- A Justifiable Outrage.-
   Feasting on Horse Flesh.- Mr. Crooks Brought to the Camp.-
Undertakes to Relieve His Men.- The Skin Ferry-Boat.- Frenzy of
Prevost.- His Melancholy Fate.-Enfeebled State of John Day.-Mr.
   Crooks Again Left Behind.-The Party Emerge From Among the
Mountains.-Interview With Shoshonies.-A Guide Procured to Conduct
  the Party Across a Mountain. -Ferriage Across Snake River.-
Reunion With Mr Crook's Men.- Final Departure From the River.

ALL that day, Mr. Hunt and his three comrades travelled without
eating. At night they made a tantalizing supper on their beaver
skin, and were nearly exhausted by hunger and cold. The next day,
December 10th, they overtook the advance party, who were all as
much famished as themselves, some of them not having eaten since
the morning of the seventh. Mr. Hunt now proposed the sacrifice
of Pierre Dorion's skeleton horse. Here he again met with
positive and vehement opposition from the half-breed, who was too
sullen and vindictive a fellow to be easily dealt with. What was
singular, the men, though suffering such pinching hunger,
interfered in favor of the horse.

They represented that it was better to keep on as long as pos-
sible without resorting to this last resource. Possibly the
Indians, of whom they were in quest, might have shifted their
encampment, in which case it would be time enough to kill the
horse to escape starvation. Mr. Hunt, therefore, was prevailed
upon to grant Pierre Dorion's horse a reprieve.

Fortunately, they had not proceeded much further, when, towards
evening, they came in sight of a lodge of Shoshonies, with a
number of horses grazing around it. The sight was as unexpected
as it was joyous. Having seen no Indians in this neighborhood as
they passed down the river, they must have subsequently come out
from among the mountains. Mr. Hunt, who first descried them,
checked the eagerness of his companions, knowing the
unwillingness of these Indians to part with their horses, and
their aptness to hurry them off and conceal them, in case of an
alarm. This was no time to risk such a disappointment.
Approaching, therefore, stealthily and silently, they came upon
the savages by surprise, who fled in terror. Five of their horses
were eagerly seized, and one was despatched upon the spot. The
carcass was immediately cut up, and a part of it hastily cooked
and ravenously devoured. A man was now sent on horseback with a
supply of the flesh to Mr. Crooks and his companions. He reached
them in the night; they were so famished that the supply sent
them seemed but to aggravate their hunger, and they were almost
tempted to kill and eat the horse that had brought the messenger.
Availing themselves of the assistance of the animal, they reached
the camp early in the morning.

On arriving there, Mr. Crooks was shocked to find that, while the
people on this side of the river were amply supplied with
provisions, none had been sent to his own forlorn and famishing
men on the opposite bank. He immediately caused a skin canoe to
be constructed, and called out to his men to fill their camp-
kettles with water and hang them over the fire, that no time
might be lost in cooking the meat the moment it should be
received. The river was so narrow, though deep, that everything
could be distinctly heard and seen across it. The kettles were
placed on the fire, and the water was boiling by the time the
canoe was completed. When all was ready, however, no one would
undertake to ferry the meat across. A vague and almost
superstitious terror had infected the minds of Mr. Hunt's
followers, enfeebled and rendered imaginative of horrors by the
dismal scenes and sufferings through which they had passed. They
regarded the haggard crew, hovering like spectres of famine on
the opposite bank, with indefinite feelings of awe and
apprehension: as if something desperate and dangerous was to be
feared from them.

Mr. Crooks tried in vain to reason or shame them out of this
singular state of mind. He then attempted to navigate the canoe
himself, but found his strength incompetent to brave the
impetuous current. The good feelings of Ben Jones, the
Kentuckian, at length overcame his fears, and he ventured over.
The supply he brought was received with trembling avidity. A poor
Canadian, however, named Jean Baptiste Prevost, whom famine had
rendered wild and desperate, ran frantically about the bank,
after Jones had returned, crying out to Mr. Hunt to send the
canoe for him, and take him from that horrible region of famine,
declaring that otherwise he would never march another step, but
would lie down there and die.

The canoe was shortly sent over again, under the management of
Joseph Delaunay, with further supplies. Prevost immediately
pressed forward to embark. Delaunay refused to admit him, telling
him that there was now a sufficient supply of meat on his side of
the river. He replied that it was not cooked, and he should
starve before it was ready; he implored, therefore, to be taken
where he could get something to appease his hunger immediately.
Finding the canoe putting off without him, he forced himself
aboard. As he drew near the opposite shore, and beheld meat
roasting before the fire, he jumped up, shouted, clapped his
hands, and danced in a delirium of joy, until he upset the canoe.
The poor wretch was swept away by the current and drowned, and it
was with extreme difficulty that Delaunay reached the shore.

Mr. Hunt now sent all his men forward excepting two or three. In
the evening he caused another horse to be killed, and a canoe to
be made out of the skin, in which he sent over a further supply
of meat to the opposite party. The canoe brought back John Day,
the Kentucky hunter, who came to join his former employer and
commander, Mr. Crooks. Poor Day, once so active and vigorous, was
now reduced to a condition even more feeble and emaciated than
his companions. Mr. Crooks had such a value for the man, on
account of his past services and faithful character, that he
determined not to quit him; he exhorted Mr. Hunt, however, to
proceed forward, and join the party, as his presence was all
important to the conduct of the expedition. One of the Canadians,
Jean Baptiste Dubreuil, likewise remained with Mr. Crooks.

Mr. Hunt left two horses with them, and a part of the carcass of
the last that had been killed. This, he hoped, would be
sufficient to sustain them until they should reach the Indian

One of the chief dangers attending the enfeebled condition of Mr.
Crooks and his companions was their being overtaken by the
Indians whose horses had been seized, though Mr. Hunt hoped that
he had guarded against any resentment on the part of the savages,
by leaving various articles in their lodge, more than sufficient
to compensate for the outrage he had been compelled to commit.

Resuming his onward course, Mr. Hunt came up with his people in
the evening. The next day, December 13th, he beheld several
Indians, with three horses, on the opposite side of the river,
and after a time came to the two lodges which he had seen on
going down. Here he endeavored in vain to barter a rifle for a
horse, but again succeeded in effecting the purchase with an old
tin kettle, aided by a few beads.

The two succeeding days were cold and stormy; the snow was
augmenting, and there was a good deal of ice running in the
river. Their road, however, was becoming easier; they were
getting out of the hills, and finally emerged into the open
country, after twenty days of fatigue, famine, and hardship of
every kind, in the ineffectual attempt to find a passage down the

They now encamped on a little willowed stream, running from the
east, which they had crossed on the 26th of November. Here they
found a dozen lodges of Shoshonies, recently arrived, who
informed them that had they persevered along the river, they
would have found their difficulties augment until they became
absolutely insurmountable. This intelligence added to the anxiety
of Mr. Hunt for the fate of Mr. M'Kenzie and his people, who had
kept on.

Mr. Hunt now followed up the little river, and encamped at some
lodges of Shoshonies, from whom he procured a couple of horses, a
dog, a few dried fish, and some roots and dried cherries. Two or
three days were exhausted in obtaining information about the
route, and what time it would take to get to the Sciatogas, a
hospitable tribe on the west of the mountains, represented as
having many horses. The replies were various, but concurred in
saying that the distance was great, and would occupy from
seventeen to twenty-one nights. Mr. Hunt then tried to procure a
guide; but though he sent to various lodges up and down the
river, offering articles of great value in Indian estimation, no
one would venture. The snow, they said, was waist deep in the
mountains; and to all his offers they shook their heads, gave a
shiver, and replied, "we shall freeze! we shall freeze!" at the
same time they urged him to remain and pass the winter among

Mr. Hunt was in a dismal dilemma. To attempt the mountains
without a guide would be certain death to him and all his people;
to remain there, after having already been so long on the
journey, and at such great expense, was worse to him, he said,
than two "deaths." He now changed his tone with the Indians,
charged them with deceiving him in respect to the mountains, and
talking with a "forked tongue," or, in other words, with lying.
He upbraided them with their want of courage, and told them they
were women, to shrink from the perils of such a journey. At
length one of them, piqued by his taunts, or tempted by his
offers, agreed to be his guide; for which he was to receive a
gun, a pistol, three knives, two horses, and a little of every
article in possession of the party; a reward sufficient to make
him one of the wealthiest of his vagabond nation.

Once more, then, on the 21st of December, they set out upon their
wayfaring, with newly excited spirits. Two other Indians
accompanied their guide, who led them immediately back to Snake
River, which they followed down for a short distance, in search
of some Indian rafts made of reeds, on which they might cross.
Finding none, Mr. Hunt caused a horse to be killed, and a canoe
to be made out of its skin. Here, on the opposite bank, they saw
the thirteen men of Mr. Crooks's party, who had continued up
along the river. They told Mr. Hunt, across the stream, that they
had not seen Mr. Crooks, and the two men who had remained with
him, since the day that he had separated from them.

The canoe proving too small, another horse was killed, and the
skin of it joined to that of the first. Night came on before the
little bark had made more than two voyages. Being badly made it
was taken apart and put together again, by the light of the fire.
The night was cold; the men were weary and disheartened with such
varied and incessant toil and hardship. They crouched, dull and
drooping, around their fires; many of them began to express a
wish to remain where they were for the winter. The very necessity
of crossing the river dismayed some of them in their present
enfeebled and dejected state. It was rapid and turbulent, and
filled with floating ice, and they remembered that two of their
comrades had already perished in its waters. Others looked
forward with misgivings to the long and dismal journey through
lonesome regions that awaited them, when they should have passed
this dreary flood.

At an early hour of the morning, December 23d, they began to
cross the river. Much ice had formed during the night, and they
were obliged to break it for some distance on each shore. At
length they all got over in safety to the west side; and their
spirits rose on having achieved this perilous passage. Here they
were rejoined by the people of Mr. Crooks, who had with them a
horse and a dog, which they had recently procured. The poor
fellows were in the most squalid and emaciated state. Three of
them were so completely prostrated in strength and spirits that
they expressed a wish to remain among the Snakes. Mr. Hunt,
therefore, gave them the canoe, that they might cross the river,
and a few articles, with which to procure necessities, until they
should meet with Mr. Crooks. There was another man, named Michael
Carriere, who was almost equally reduced, but he determined to
proceed with his comrades, who were now incorporated with the
party of Mr. Hunt. After the day's exertions they encamped
together on the banks of the river. This was the last night they
were to spend upon its borders. More than eight hundred miles of
hard travelling, and many weary days, had it cost them; and the
sufferings connected with it rendered it hateful in their
remembrance, so that the Canadian voyageurs always spoke of it as
"La maudite riviere enragee" - the accursed mad river - thus
coupling a malediction with its name.

                         CHAPTER XXXVII
  Departure From Snake River- Mountains to the North.- Wayworn
    Travellers- An Increase of the Dorion Family.- A Camp of
Shoshonies.-A New-Year Festival Among the Snakes.-A Wintry March
Through the Mountains.-A Sunny Prospect, and Milder Climate.-
Indian Horse-Tracks.- Grassy Valleys.- A Camp of Sciatogas.- Joy
     of the Travellers.-Dangers of Abundance.-Habits of the
  Sciatogas.- Fate of Carriere.- The Umatilla.- Arrival at the
Banks of the Columbia.-Tidings of the Scattered Members of the
   Expedition.- Scenery on the Columbia.- Tidings of Astoria-
                     Arrival at the Falls.

0N the 24th of December, all things being arranged, Mr. Hunt
turned his back upon the disastrous banks of Snake River, and
struck his course westward for the mountains. His party, being
augmented by the late followers of Mr. Crooks, amounted now to
thirty-two white men, three Indians, and the squaw and two
children of Pierre Dorion. Five jaded, halfstarved horses were
laden with their luggage, and, in case of need, were to furnish
them with provisions. They travelled painfully about fourteen
miles a day, over plains and among hills, rendered dreary by
occasional falls of snow and rain. Their only sustenance was a
scanty meal of horse flesh once in four-and-twenty hours.

On the third day the poor Canadian, Carriere, one of the famished
party of Mr. Crooks, gave up in despair, and laying down upon the
ground declared he could go no further. Efforts were made to
cheer him up, but it was found that the poor fellow was
absolutely exhausted and could not keep on his legs. He was
mounted, therefore, upon one of the horses, though the forlorn
animal was in little better plight than himself.

On the 28th, they came upon a small stream winding to the north,
through a fine level valley; the mountains receding on each side.
Here their Indian friends pointed out a chain of woody mountains
to the left, running north and south, and covered with snow, over
which they would have to pass. They kept along the valley for
twenty-one miles on the 29th, suffering much from a continued
fall of snow and rain, and being twice obliged to ford the icy
stream. Early in the following morning the squaw of Pierre
Dorion, who had hitherto kept on without murmuring or flinching,
was suddenly taken in labor, and enriched her husband with
another child. As the fortitude and good conduct of the poor
woman had gained for her the goodwill of the party, her situation
caused concern and perplexity. Pierre, however, treated the
matter as an occurrence that could soon be arranged and need
cause no delay. He remained by his wife in the camp, with his
other children and his horse, and promised soon to rejoin the
main body, who proceeded on their march.

Finding that the little river entered the mountains, they
abandoned it, and turned off for a few miles among hills. Here
another Canadian, named La Bonte, gave out, and had to be helped
on horseback. As the horse was too weak to bear both him and his
pack, Mr. Hunt took the latter upon his own shoulders. Thus, with
difficulties augmenting at every step, they urged their toilsome
way among the hills, half famished and faint at heart, when they
came to where a fair valley spread out before them, of great
extent and several leagues in width, with a beautiful stream
meandering through it. A genial climate seemed to prevail here,
for though the snow lay upon all the mountains within sight,
there was none to be seen in the valley. The travellers gazed
with delight upon this serene, sunny landscape, but their joy was
complete on beholding six lodges of Shoshonies pitched upon the
borders of the stream, with a number of horses and dogs about
them. They all pressed forward with eagerness and soon reached
the camp. Here their first attention was to obtain provisions. A
rifle, an old musket, a tomahawk, a tin kettle, and a small
quantity of ammunition soon procured them four horses, three
dogs, and some roots. Part of the live stock was immediately
killed, cooked with all expedition, and as promptly devoured. A
hearty meal restored every one to good spirits. In the course of
the following morning the Dorion family made its reappearance.
Pierre came trudging in the advance, followed by his valued,
though skeleton steed, on which was mounted his squaw with her
new-born infant in her arms, and her boy of two years old wrapped
in a blanket and slung at her side. The mother looked as
unconcerned as if nothing had happened to her; so easy is nature
in her operations in the wilderness, when free from the
enfeebling refinements of luxury, and the tamperings and
appliances of art.

The next morning ushered in the new year (1812). Mr. Hunt was
about to resume his march, when his men requested permission to
celebrate the day. This was particularly urged by the Canadian
voyageurs, with whom New-Year's day is a favorite festival; and
who never willingly give up a holiday, under any circumstances.
There was no resisting such an application; so the day was passed
in repose and revelry; the poor Canadians contrived to sing and
dance in defiance of all their hardships; and there was a
sumptuous New-Year's banquet of dog's meat and horse flesh.

After two days of welcome rest, the travellers addressed
themselves once more to the painful journey. The Indians of the
lodges pointed out a distant gap through which they must pass in
traversing the ridge of mountains. They assured them that they
would be but little incommoded by snow, and in three days would
arrive among the Sciatogas. Mr. Hunt, however, had been so
frequently deceived by Indian accounts of routes and distances,
that he gave but little faith to this information.

The travellers continued their course due west for five days,
crossing the valley and entering the mountains. Here the
travelling became excessively toilsome, across rough stony
ridges, and amidst fallen trees. They were often knee deep in
snow, and sometimes in the hollows between the ridges sank up to
their waists. The weather was extremely cold; the sky covered
with clouds so that for days they had not a glimpse of the sun.
In traversing the highest ridge they had a wide but chilling
prospect over a wilderness of snowy mountains.

On the 6th of January, however, they had crossed the dividing
summit of the chain, and were evidently under the influence of a
milder climate. The snow began to decrease; the sun once more
emerged from the thick canopy of clouds, and shone cheeringly
upon them, and they caught a sight of what appeared to be a
plain, stretching out in the west. They hailed it as the poor
Israelites hailed the first glimpse of the promised land, for
they flattered themselves that this might be the great plain of
the Columbia, and that their painful pilgrimage might be drawing
to a close,

It was now five days since they had left the lodges of the
Shoshonies, during which they had come about sixty miles, and
their guide assured them that in the course of the next day they
would see the Sciatogas.

On the following morning, therefore, they pushed forward with
eagerness, and soon fell upon a stream which led them through a
deep narrow defile, between stupendous ridges. Here among the
rocks and precipices they saw gangs of that mountain-loving
animal, the black-tailed deer, and came to where great tracks of
horses were to be seen in all directions, made by the Indian

The snow had entirely disappeared, and the hopes of soon coming
upon some Indian encampment induced Mr. Hunt to press on. Many of
the men, however, were so enfeebled that they could not keep up
with the main body, but lagged at intervals behind; and some of
them did not arrive at the night encampment. In the course of
this day's march the recently-born child of Pierre Dorion died.

The march was resumed early the next morning, without waiting for
the stragglers. The stream which they had followed throughout the
preceding day was now swollen by the influx of another river; the
declivities of the hills were green and the valleys were clothed
with grass. At length the jovial cry was given of "an Indian
camp!" It was yet in the distance, In the bosom of the green
valley, but they could perceive that it consisted of numerous
lodges, and that hundreds of horses were grazing the grassy
meadows around it. The prospect of abundance of horse flesh
diffused universal joy, for by this time the whole stock of
travelling provisions was reduced to the skeleton steed of Pierre
Dorion, and another wretched animal, equally emaciated, that had
been repeatedly reprieved during the journey.

A forced march soon brought the weary and hungry travellers to
the camp. It proved to be a strong party of Sciatogas and Tusche-
pas. There were thirty-four lodges, comfortably constructed of
mats; the Indians, too, were better clothed than any of the
wandering bands they had hitherto met on this side of the Rocky
Mountains. Indeed, they were as well clad as the generality of
the wild hunter tribes. Each had a good buffalo or deer skin
robe; and a deer skin hunting shirt and leggins. Upwards of two
thousand horses were ranging the pastures around their
encampment; but what delighted Mr. Hunt was, on entering the
lodges, to behold brass kettles, axes, copper tea-kettles, and
various other articles of civilized manufacture, which showed
that these Indians had an indirect communication with the people
of the sea-coast who traded with the whites. He made eager
inquiries of the Sciatogas, and gathered from them that the great
river (the Columbia) was but two days' march distant, and that
several white people had recently descended it; who he hoped
might prove to be M'Lellan, M'Kenzie, and their companions.

It was with the utmost joy and the most profound gratitude to
heaven, that Mr. Hunt found himself and his band of weary and
famishing wanderers thus safely extricated from the most perilous
part of their long journey, and within the prospect of a
termination of their tolls. All the stragglers who had lagged
behind arrived, one after another, excepting the poor Canadian
voyageur, Carriere. He had been seen late in the preceding
afternoon, riding behind a Snake Indian, near some lodges of that
nation, a few miles distant from the last night's encampment; and
it was expected that he would soon make his appearance. The first
object of Mr. Hunt was to obtain provisions for his men. A little
venison, of an indifferent quality, and some roots were all that
could be procured that evening; but the next day he succeeded in
purchasing a mare and colt, which were immediately killed, and
the cravings of the half-starved people in some degree appeased.

For several days they remained in the neighborhood of these
Indians, reposing after all their hardships, and feasting upon
horse flesh and roots, obtained in subsequent traffic. Many of
the people ate to such excess as to render themselves sick,
others were lame from their past journey; but all gradually
recruited in the repose and abundance of the valley. Horses were
obtained here much more readily, and at a cheaper rate, than
among the Snakes. A blanket, a knife, or a half pound of blue
beads would purchase a steed, and at this rate many of the men
bought horses for their individual use.

This tribe of Indians, who are represented as a proud-spirited
race, and uncommonly cleanly, never eat horses or dogs, nor would
they permit the raw flesh of either to be brought into their
huts. They had a small quantity of venison in each lodge, but set
so high a price upon it that the white men, in their impoverished
state could not afford to purchase it. They hunted the deer on
horseback, "ringing," or surrounding them, and running them down
in a circle. They were admirable horsemen, and their weapons were
bows and arrows, which they managed with great dexterity. They
were altogether primitive in their habits, and seemed to cling to
the usages of savage life, even when possessed of the aids of
civilization. They had axes among them, yet they generally made
use of a stone mallet wrought into the shape of a bottle, and
wedges of elk horn, in splitting their wood. Though they might
have two or three brass kettles hanging, in their lodges, yet
they would frequently use vessels made of willow, for carrying
water, and would even boll their meat in them, by means of hot
stones. Their women wore caps of willow neatly worked and

As Carriere, the Canadian straggler, did not make his appearance
for two or three days after the encampment in the valley two men
were sent out on horseback in search of him. They returned,
however, without success. The lodges of the Snake Indians near
which he had been seen were removed, and the could find no trace
of him. Several days more elapsed, yet nothing was seen or heard
of him, or the Snake horseman, behind whom he had been last
observed. It was feared, therefore, that he had either perished
through hunger and fatigue; had been murdered by the Indians; or,
being left to himself, had mistaken some hunting tracks for the
trail of the party, and been led astray and lost.

The river on the banks of which they were encamped, emptied into
the Columbia, was called by the natives the Eu-o-tal-la, or
Umatilla, and abounded with beaver. In the course of their
sojourn in the valley which it watered, they twice shifted their
camp, proceeding about thirty miles down its course, which was to
the west. A heavy fall of rain caused the river to overflow its
banks, dislodged them from their encampment, and drowned three of
their horses which were tethered in the low ground.

Further conversation with the Indians satisfied them that they
were in the neighborhood of the Columbia. The number of the white
men who they said had passed down the river, agreed with that of
M'Lellan, M'Kenzie, and their companions, and increased the hope
of Mr. Hunt that they might have passed through the wilderness
with safety.

These Indians had a vague story that white men were coming to
trade among them; and they often spoke of two great men named Ke-
Koosh and Jacquean, who gave them tobacco, and smoked with them.
Jacquean, they said, had a house somewhere upon the great river.
Some of the Canadians supposed they were speaking of one Jacquean
Finlay, a clerk of the Northwest Company, and inferred that the
house must be some trading post on one of the tributary streams
of the Columbia. The Indians were overjoyed when they found this
band of white men intended to return and trade with them. They
promised to use all diligence in collecting quantities of beaver
skins, and no doubt proceeded to make deadly war upon that
sagacious, but ill-fated animal, who, in general, lived in
peaceful insignificance among his Indian neighbors, before the
intrusion of the white trader. On the 20th of January, Mr. Hunt
took leave of these friendly Indians, and of the river on which
they encamped, and continued westward.

At length, on the following day, the wayworn travellers lifted up
their eyes and beheld before them the long-sought waters of the
Columbia. The sight was hailed with as much transport as if they
had already reached the end of their pilgrimage; nor can we
wonder at their joy. Two hundred and forty miles had they
marched, through wintry wastes and rugged mountains, since
leaving Snake River; and six months of perilous wayfaring had
they experienced since their departure from the Arickara village
on the Missouri. Their whole route by land and water from that
point had been, according to their computation, seventeen hundred
and fifty-one miles, in the course of which they had endured all
kinds of hardships. In fact, the necessity of avoiding the
dangerous country of the Blackfeet had obliged them to make a
bend to the south and traverse a great additional extent of
unknown wilderness.

The place where they struck the Columbia was some distance below
the junction of its two great branches, Lewis and Clarke rivers,
and not far from the influx of the Wallah-Wallah. It was a
beautiful stream, three-quarters of a mile wide, totally free
from trees; bordered in some places with steep rocks, in others
with pebbled shores.

On the banks of the Columbia they found a miserable horde of
Indians, called Akai-chies, with no clothing but a scanty mantle
of the skins of animals, and sometimes a pair of sleeves of
wolf's skin. Their lodges were shaped like a tent, and very light
and warm, being covered with mats and rushes; besides which they
had excavations in the ground, lined with mats, and occupied by
the women, who were even more slightly clad than the men. These
people subsisted chiefly by fishing; having canoes of a rude
construction, being merely the trunks of pine trees split and
hollowed out by fire. Their lodges were well stored with dried
salmon, and they had great quantities of fresh salmon trout of an
excellent flavor, taken at the mouth of the Umatilla; of which
the travellers obtained a most acceptable supply.

Finding that the road was on the north side of the river, Mr.
Hunt crossed, and continued five or six days travelling rather
slowly down along its banks, being much delayed by the straying
of the horses, and the attempts made by the Indians to steal
them. They frequently passed lodges, where they obtained fish and
dogs. At one place the natives had just returned from hunting,
and had brought back a large quantity of elk and deer meat, but
asked so high a price for it as to be beyond the funds of the
travellers, so they had to content themselves with dog's flesh.
They had by this time, however, come to consider it very choice
food, superior to horse flesh, and the minutes of the expedition
speak rather exultingly now and then, of their having made a
famous "repast," where this viand happened to be unusually

They again learnt tidings of some of the scattered members of the
expedition, supposed to be M'Kenzie, M'Lellan, and their men, who
had preceded them down the river, and had overturned one of their
canoes, by which they lost many articles. All these floating
pieces of intelligence of their fellow adventurers, who had
separated from them in the heart of the wilderness, they received
with eager interest.

The weather continued to be temperate, marking the superior
softness of the climate on this side of the mountains. For a
great part of the time, the days were delightfully mild and
clear, like the serene days of October on the Atlantic borders.
The country in general, in the neighborhood of the river, was a
continual plain, low near the water, but rising gradually;
destitute of trees, and almost without shrubs or plants of any
kind, excepting a few willow bushes. After travelling about sixty
miles, they came to where the country became very hilly and the
river made its way between rocky banks and down numerous rapids.
The Indians in this vicinity were better clad and altogether in
more prosperous condition than those above, and, as Mr. Hunt
thought, showed their consciousness of ease by something like
sauciness of manner. Thus prosperity is apt to produce arrogance
in savage as well as in civilized life. In both conditions, man
is an animal that will not bear pampering.

From these people Mr. Hunt for the first time received vague but
deeply interesting intelligence of that part of the enterprise
which had proceeded by sea to the mouth of the Columbia. The
Indians spoke of a number of white men who had built a large
house at the mouth of the great river, and surrounded it with
palisades. None of them had been down to Astoria themselves; but
rumors spread widely and rapidly from mouth to mouth among the
Indian tribes, and are carried to the heart of the interior by
hunting parties and migratory hordes.

The establishment of a trading emporium at such a point, also,
was calculated to cause a sensation to the most remote parts of
the vast wilderness beyond the mountains. It in a manner struck
the pulse of the great vital river, and vibrated up all its
tributary streams.

It is surprising to notice how well this remote tribe of savages
had learnt, through intermediate gossips, the private feelings of
the colonists at Astoria; it shows that Indians are not the
incurious and indifferent observers that they have been
represented. They told Mr. Hunt that the white people at the
large house had been looking anxiously for many of their friends,
whom they had expected to descend the great river; and had been
in much affliction, fearing that they were lost. Now, however,
the arrival of him and his party would wipe away all their tears,
and they would dance and sing for joy.

On the 31st of January, Mr. Hunt arrived at the falls of the
Columbia, and encamped at the village of the Wish-ram, situated
at the head of that dangerous pass of the river called "the Long

                        CHAPTER XXXVIII.
  The Village of Wish-ram.- Roguery of the Inhabitants.- Their
  Habitations.- Tidings of Astoria.- Of the Tonquin Massacre.-
   Thieves About the Camp.-A Band of Braggarts- Embarkation.-
Arrival at Astoria.-A Joyful Reception.- Old Comrades- Adventures
of Reed, M'Lellan, and M'Kenzie Among the Snake River Mountains.-
                     Rejoicing at Astoria.

0F the village of Wish-ram, the aborigines' fishing mart of the
Columbia, we have given some account in an early chapter of this
work. The inhabitants held a traffic in the productions of the
fisheries of the falls, and their village was the trading resort
of the tribes from the coast and from the mountains. Mr. Hunt
found the inhabitants shrewder and more intelligent than any
Indians he had met with. Trade had sharpened their wits, though
it had not improved their honesty; for they were a community of
arrant rogues and freebooters. Their habitations comported with
their circumstances, and were superior to any the travellers had
yet seen west of the Rocky Mountains. In general, the dwellings
of the savages on the Pacific side of that great barrier were
mere tents and cabins of mats, or skins, or straw, the country
being destitute of timber. In Wish-ram, on the contrary, the
houses were built of wood, with long sloping roofs. The floor was
sunk about six feet below the surface of the ground, with a low
door at the gable end, extremely narrow, and partly sunk. Through
this it was necessary to crawl and then to descend a short
ladder. This inconvenient entrance was probably for the purpose
of defense; there were loop-holes also under the eaves,
apparently for the discharge of arrows. The houses were large,
generally containing two or three families. Immediately within
the door were sleeping places, ranged along the walls, like
berths in a ship; and furnished with pallets of matting. These
extended along one half of the building; the remaining half was
appropriated to the storing of dried fish.

The trading operations of the inhabitants of Wish-ram had given
them a wider scope of information, and rendered their village a
kind of headquarters of intelligence. Mr. Hunt was able,
therefore, to collect more distinct tidings concerning the
settlement of Astoria and its affairs. One of the inhabitants had
been at the trading post established by David Stuart on the
Oakinagan, and had picked up a few words of English there. From
him, Mr. Hunt gleaned various particulars about that
establishment, as well as about the general concerns of the
enterprise. Others repeated the name of Mr. M'Kay, the partner
who perished in the massacre on board of the Tonquin, and gave
some account of that melancholy affair. They said Mr. M'Kay was a
chief among the white men, and had built a great house at the
mouth of the river, but had left it and sailed away in a large
ship to the northward where he had been attacked by bad Indians
in canoes. Mr. Hunt was startled by this intelligence, and made
further inquiries. They informed him that the Indians had lashed
their canoes to the ship, and fought until they killed him and
all his people. This is another instance of the clearness with
which intelligence is transmitted from mouth to mouth among the
Indian tribes. These tidings, though but partially credited by
Mr. Hunt, filled his mind with anxious forebodings. He now
endeavored to procure canoes, in which to descend the Columbia,
but none suitable for the purpose were to be obtained above the
Narrows; he continued on, therefore, the distance of twelve
miles, and encamped on the bank of the river. The camp was soon
surrounded by loitering savages, who went prowling about seeking
what they might pilfer. Being baffled by the vigilance of the
guard, they endeavored to compass their ends by other means.
Towards evening, a number of warriors entered the camp in
ruffling style; painted and dressed out as if for battle, and
armed with lances, bows and arrows, and scalping knives. They
informed Mr. Hunt that a party of thirty or forty braves were
coming up from a village below to attack the camp and carry off
the horses, but that they were determined to stay with him and
defend him. Mr. Hunt received them with great coldness, and, when
they had finished their story, gave them a pipe to smoke. He then
called up all hands, stationed sentinels in different quarters,
but told them to keep as vigilant an eye within the camp as

The warriors were evidently baffled by these precautions, and,
having smoked their pipe, and vapored off their valor, took their
departure. The farce, however, did not end here. After a little
while the warriors returned, ushering in another savage, still
more heroically arrayed. This they announced as the chief of the
belligerent village, but as a great pacificator. His people had
been furiously bent upon the attack, and would have doubtless
carried it into effect, but this gallant chief had stood forth as
the friend of white men, and had dispersed the throng by his own
authority and prowess. Having vaunted this signal piece of
service, there was a significant pause; all evidently expecting
some adequate reward. Mr. Hunt again produced the pipe, smoked
with the chieftain and his worthy compeers; but made no further
demonstrations of gratitude. They remained about the camp all
night, but at daylight returned, baffled and crestfallen, to
their homes, with nothing but smoke for their pains.

Mr. Hunt now endeavored to procure canoes, of which he saw
several about the neighborhood, extremely well made, with
elevated stems and sterns, some of them capable of carrying three
thousand pounds weight. He found it extremely difficult, however,
to deal with these slippery people, who seemed much more inclined
to pilfer. Notwithstanding a strict guard maintained round the
camp, various implements were stolen, and several horses carried
off. Among the latter, we have to include the long-cherished
steed of Pierre Dorion. From some wilful caprice, that worthy
pitched his tent at some distance from the main body, and
tethered his invaluable steed beside it, from whence it was
abstracted in the night, to the infinite chagrin and
mortification of the hybrid interpreter.

Having, after several days' negotiation, procured the requisite
number of canoes, Mr. Hunt would gladly have left this thievish
neighborhood, but was detained until the 5th of February by
violent head winds, accompanied by snow and rain. Even after he
was enabled to get under way, he had still to struggle against
contrary winds and tempestuous weather. The current of the river,
however, was in his favor; having made a portage at the grand
rapid, the canoes met with no further obstruction, and, on the
afternoon of the 15th of February, swept round an intervening
cape, and came in sight of the infant settlement of Astoria.
After eleven months wandering in the wilderness, a great part of
the time over trackless wastes, where the sight of a savage
wigwam was a rarity, we may imagine the delight of the poor
weatherbeaten travellers, at beholding the embryo establishment,
with its magazines, habitations, and picketed bulwarks, seated on
a high point of land, dominating a beautiful little bay, in which
was a trim-built shallop riding quietly at anchor. A shout of joy
burst from each canoe at the long-wished-for sight. They urged
their canoes across the bay, and pulled with eagerness for shore,
where all hands poured down from the settlement to receive and
welcome them. Among the first to greet them on their landing,
were some of their old comrades and fellow-sufferers, who, under
the conduct of Reed, M'Lellan, and M'Kenzie, had parted from them
at the Caldron Linn. These had reached Astoria nearly a month
previously, and, judging from their own narrow escape from
starvation, had given up Mr. Hunt and his followers as lost.
Their greeting was the more warm and cordial. As to the Canadian
voyageurs, their mutual felicitations, as usual, were loud and
vociferous, and it was almost ludicrous to behold these ancient
"comrades" and "confreres," hugging and kissing each other on the
river bank.

When the first greetings were over, the different bands
interchanged accounts of their several wanderings, after
separating at Snake River; we shall briefly notice a few of the
leading particulars. It will be recollected by the reader, that a
small exploring detachment had proceeded down the river, under
the conduct of Mr. John Reed, a clerk of the company; that
another had set off under M'Lellan, and a third in a different
direction, under M'Kenzie. After wandering for several days
without meeting with Indians, or obtaining any supplies, they
came together fortuitously among the Snake River mountains, some
distance below that disastrous pass or strait which had received
the appellation of the Devil's Scuttle Hole.

When thus united, their party consisted of M'Kenzie, M'Lellan,
Reed, and eight men, chiefly Canadians. Being all in the same
predicament, without horses, provisions, or information of any
kind, they all agreed that it would be worse than useless to
return to Mr. Hunt and encumber him with so many starving men,
and that their only course was to extricate themselves as soon as
possible from this land of famine and misery and make the best of
their way for the Columbia. They accordingly continued to follow
the downward course of Snake River; clambering rocks and
mountains, and defying all the difficulties and dangers of that
rugged defile, which subsequently, when the snows had fallen, was
found impassable by Messrs. Hunt and Crooks.

Though constantly near to the borders of the river, and for a
great part of the time within sight of its current, one of their
greatest sufferings was thirst. The river had worn its way in a
deep channel through rocky mountains, destitute of brooks or
springs. Its banks were so high and precipitous, that there was
rarely any place where the travellers could get down to drink of
its waters. Frequently they suffered for miles the torments of
Tantalus; water continually within sight, yet fevered with the
most parching thirst. Here and there they met with rainwater
collected in the hollows of the rocks, but more than once they
were reduced to the utmost extremity; and some of the men had
recourse to the last expedient to avoid perishing.

Their sufferings from hunger were equally severe. They could meet
with no game, and subsisted for a time on strips of beaver skin,
broiled on the coals. These were doled out in scanty allowances,
barely sufficient to keep up existence, and at length failed them
altogether. Still they crept feebly on, scarce dragging one limb
after another, until a severe snow-storm brought them to a pause.
To struggle against it, in their exhausted condition, was
impossible, so cowering under an impending rock at the foot of a
steep mountain, they prepared themselves for that wretched fate
which seemed inevitable.

At this critical juncture, when famine stared them in the face,
M'Lellan casting up his eyes, beheld an ahsahta, or bighorn,
sheltering itself under a shelving rock on the side of the hill
above them. Being in a more active plight than any of his
comrades, and an excellent marksman, he set off to get within
shot of the animal. His companions watched his movements with
breathless anxiety, for their lives depended upon his success. He
made a cautious circuit; scrambled up the hill with the utmost
silence, and at length arrived, unperceived, within a proper
distance. Here leveling his rifle he took so sure an aim, that
the bighorn fell dead on the spot; a fortunate circumstance, for,
to pursue it, if merely wounded, would have been impossible in
his emaciated state. The declivity of the hill enabled him to
roll the carcass down to his companions, who were too feeble to
climb the rocks. They fell to work to cut it up; yet exerted a
remarkable self-denial for men in their starving condition, for
they contented themselves for the present with a soup made from
the bones, reserving the flesh for future repasts. This
providential relief gave them strength to pursue their journey,
but they were frequently reduced to almost equal straits, and it
was only the smallness of their party, requiring a small supply
of provisions, that enabled them to get through this desolate
region with their lives.

At length, after twenty-one days of to 11 and suffering, they got
through these mountains, and arrived at a tributary stream of
that branch of the Columbia called Lewis River, of which Snake
River forms the southern fork. In this neighborhood they met with
wild horses, the first they had seen west of the Rocky Mountains.
From hence they made their way to Lewis River, where they fell in
with a friendly tribe of Indians, who freely administered to
their necessities. On this river they procured two canoes, in
which they dropped down the stream to its confluence with the
Columbia, and then down that river to Astoria, where they arrived
haggard and emaciated, and perfectly in rags.

Thus, all the leading persons of Mr. Hunt's expedition were once
more gathered together, excepting Mr. Crooks, of whose safety
they entertained but little hope, considering the feeble
condition in which they had been compelled to leave him in the
heart of the wilderness.

A day was now given up to jubilee, to celebrate the arrival of
Mr. Hunt and his companions, and the joyful meeting of the
various scattered bands of adventurers at Astoria. The colors
were hoisted; the guns, great and small, were fired; there was a
feast of fish, of beaver, and venison, which relished well with
men who had so long been glad to revel on horse flesh and dogs'
meat; a genial allowance of grog was issued, to increase the
general animation, and the festivities wound up, as usual, with a
grand dance at night, by the Canadian voyageurs. *

*The distance from St. Louis to Astoria, by the route travelled
by Hunt and M'Kenzie, was upwards of thirty-five hundred miles,
though in a direct line it does not exceed eighteen hundred.

                         CHAPTER XXXIX.
  Scanty Fare During the Winter.- A Poor Hunting Ground.- The
   Return of the Fishing Season.- The Uthlecan or Smelt.- Its
  Qualities. - Vast Shoals of it.- Sturgeon.- Indian Modes of
Taking It.- The Salmon- Different Species.- Nature of the Country
   About the Coast. -Forests and Forest Trees.- A Remarkable
Flowering Vine.- Animals. - Birds.- Reptiles - Climate West of
the Mountains - Mildness of the Temperature.- Soil of the Coast
                       and the Interior.

THE winter passed away tranquilly at Astoria. The apprehensions
of hostility from the natives had subsided; indeed, as the season
advanced, the Indians for the most part had disappeared from the
neighborhood, and abandoned the sea-coast, so that, for want of
their aid, the colonists had at times suffered considerably for
want of provisions. The hunters belonging to the establishment
made frequent and wide excursions, but with very moderate
success. There were some deer and a few bears to be found in the
vicinity, and elk in great numbers; the country, however, was so
rough, and the woods so close and entangled that it was almost
impossible to beat up the game. The prevalent rains of winter,
also, rendered it difficult for the hunter to keep his arms in
order. The quantity of game, therefore, brought in by the hunters
was extremely scanty, and it was frequently necessary to put all
hands on very moderate allowance. Towards spring, however, the
fishing season commenced - the season of plenty on the Columbia.
About the beginning of February, a small kind of fish, about six
inches long, called by the natives the uthlecan, and resembling
the smelt, made its appearance at the mouth of the river. It is
said to be of delicious flavor, and so fat as to burn like a
candle, for which it is often used by the natives. It enters the
river in immense shoals, like solid columns, often extending to
the depth of five or more feet, and is scooped up by the natives
with small nets at the end of poles. In this way they will soon
fill a canoe, or form a great heap upon the river banks. These
fish constitute a principal article of their food; the women
drying them and stringing them on cords. As the uthlecan is only
found in the lower part of the river, the arrival of it soon
brought back the natives to the coast; who again resorted to the
factory to trade, and from that time furnished plentiful supplies
of fish.

The sturgeon makes its appearance in the river shortly after the
uthlecan, and is taken in different ways by the natives:
sometimes they spear it; but oftener they use the hook and line,
and the net. Occasionally, they sink a cord in the river by a
heavy weight, with a buoy at the upper end, to keep floating. To
this cord several hooks are attached by short lines, a few feet
distant from each other, and baited with small fish. This
apparatus is often set towards night, and by the next morning
several sturgeon will be found hooked by it; for though a large
and strong fish, it makes but little resistance when ensnared.

The salmon, which are the prime fish of the Columbia, and as
important to the piscatory tribes as are the buffaloes to the
hunters of the prairies, do not enter the river until towards the
latter part of May, from which time, until the middle of August,
they abound and are taken in vast quantities, either with the
spear or seine, and mostly in shallow water. An inferior species
succeeds, and continues from August to December. It is remarkable
for having a double row of teeth, half an inch long and extremely
sharp, from whence it has received the name of the dog-toothed
salmon. It is generally killed with the spear in small rivulets,
and smoked for winter provision. We have noticed in a former
chapter the mode in which the salmon are taken and cured at the
falls of the Columbia; and put tip in parcels for exportation.
From these different fisheries of the river tribes, the
establishment at Astoria had to derive much of its precarious
supplies of provisions.

A year's residence at the mouth of the Columbia, and various
expeditions in the interior, had now given the Astorians some
idea of the country. The whole coast is described as remarkably
rugged and mountainous; with dense forests of hemlock, spruce,
white and red cedar, cotton-wood, white oak, white and swamp ash,
willow, and a few walnut. There is likewise an undergrowth of
aromatic shrubs, creepers, and clambering vines, that render the
forests almost impenetrable; together with berries of various
kinds, such as gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, both red
and yellow, very large and finely flavored whortleberries,
cranberries, serviceberries, blackberries, currants, sloes, and
wild and choke cherries.

Among the flowering vines is one deserving of particular notice.
Each flower is composed of six leaves or petals, about three
inches in length, of a beautiful crimson, the inside spotted with
white. Its leaves, of a fine green, are oval, and disposed by
threes. This plant climbs upon the trees without attaching itself
to them; when it has reached the topmost branches, it descends
perpendicularly, and as it continues to grow, extends from tree
to tree, until its various stalks interlace the grove like the
rigging of a ship. The stems or trunks of this vine are tougher
and more flexible than willow, and are from fifty to one hundred
fathoms in length. From the fibres, the Indians manufacture
baskets of such close texture as to hold water.

The principal quadrupeds that had been seen by the colonists in
their various expeditions were the stag, fallow deer, hart, black
and grizzly bear, antelope, ahsahta or bighorn, beaver, sea and
river otter, muskrat, fox, wolf, and panther, the latter
extremely rare. The only domestic animals among the natives were
horses and dogs.

The country abounded with aquatic and land birds, such as swans,
wild geese, brant, ducks of almost every description, pelicans,
herons, gulls, snipes, curlews, eagles, vultures, crows, ravens,
magpies, woodpeckers, pigeons, partridges, pheasants, grouse, and
a great variety of singing birds.

There were few reptiles; the only dangerous kinds were the
rattlesnake, and one striped with black, yellow, and white, about
four feet long. Among the lizard kind was one about nine or ten
inches in length, exclusive of the tall, and three inches in
circumference. The tail was round, and of the same length as the
body. The head was triangular, covered with small square scales.
The upper part of the body was likewise covered with small
scales, green, yellow, black, and blue. Each foot had five toes,
furnished with strong nails, probably to aid it in burrowing, as
it usually lived under ground on the plains.

A remarkable fact, characteristic of the country west of the
Rocky Mountains, is the mildness and equability of the climate.
The great mountain barrier seems to divide the continent into
different climates, even in the same degrees of latitude. The
rigorous winters and sultry summers, and all the capricious
inequalities of temperature prevalent on the Atlantic side of the
mountains, are but little felt on their western declivities. The
countries between them and the Pacific are blessed with milder
and steadier temperature, resembling the climates of parallel
latitudes in Europe. In the plains and valleys but little snow
falls throughout the winter, and usually melts while falling. It
rarely lies on the ground more than two days at a time, except on
the summits of the mountains. The winters are rainy rather than
cold. The rains for five months, from the middle of October to
the middle of March, are almost incessant, and often accompanied
by tremendous thunder and lightning. The winds prevalent at this
season are from the south and southeast, which usually bring
rain. Those from the north to the southwest are the harbingers of
fair weather and a clear sky. The residue of the year, from the
middle of March to the middle of October, an interval of seven
months, is serene and delightful. There is scarcely any rain
throughout this time, yet the face of the country is kept fresh
and verdant by nightly dews, and occasionally by humid fogs in
the mornings. These are not considered prejudicial to health,
since both the natives and the whites sleep in the open air with
perfect impunity. While this equable and bland temperature
prevails throughout the lower country, the peaks and ridges of
the vast mountains by which it is dominated, are covered with
perpetual snow. This renders them discernible at a great
distance, shining at times like bright summer clouds, at other
times assuming the most aerial tints, and always forming
brilliant and striking features in the vast landscape. The mild
temperature prevalent throughout the country is attributed by
some to the succession of winds from the Pacific Ocean, extending
from latitude twenty degrees to at least fifty degrees north.
These temper the heat of summer, so that in the shade no one is
incommoded by perspiration; they also soften the rigors of
winter, and produce such a moderation in the climate, that the
inhabitants can wear the same dress throughout the year.

The soil in the neighborhood of the sea-coast is of a brown
color, inclining to red, and generally poor; being a mixture of
clay and gravel. In the interior, and especially in the valleys
of the Rocky Mountains, the soil is generally blackish, though
sometimes yellow. It is frequently mixed with marl, and with
marine substances in a state of decomposition. This kind of soil
extends to a considerable depth, as may be perceived in the deep
cuts made by ravines, and by the beds of rivers. The vegetation
in these valleys is much more abundant than near the coast; in
fact, it is these fertile intervals, locked up between rocky
sierras, or scooped out from barren wastes, that population must
extend itself, as it were, in veins and ramifications, if ever
the regions beyond the mountains should become civilized.

                          CHAPTER XL.
   Natives in the Neighborhood of Astoria- Their Persons and
Characteristics. - Causes of Deformity -- Their Dress. - Their
   Contempt of Beards- Ornaments- Armor and Weapons.-Mode of
Flattening the Head.- Extent of the Custom.- Religious Belief.-
The Two Great Spirits of the Air and of the Fire.- Priests or
Medicine Men.- The Rival Idols.- Polygamy a Cause of Greatness-
Petty Warfare.- Music, Dancing, Gambling.- Thieving a Virtue.-
  Keen Traders- Intrusive Habits - Abhorrence of Drunkenness-
                     Anecdote of Comcomly.

A BRIEF mention has already been made of the tribes or  hordes
existing about the lower part of the Columbia at the time of the
settlement; a few more particulars concerning them may be
acceptable. The four tribes nearest to Astoria, and with whom the
traders had most intercourse, were, as has heretofore been
observed, the Chinooks, the Clatsops, the Wahkiacums, and the
Cathlamets. The Chinooks reside chiefly along the banks of a
river of the same name, running parallel to the sea-coast,
through a low country studded with stagnant pools, and emptying
itself into Baker's Bay, a few miles from Cape Disappointment.
This was the tribe over which Comcomly, the one-eyed chieftain,
held sway; it boasted two hundred and fourteen fighting men.
Their chief subsistence was on fish, with an occasional regale of
the flesh of elk and deer, and of wild-fowl from the neighboring

The Clatsops resided on both sides of Point Adams; they were the
mere relics of a tribe which had been nearly swept off by the
small-pox, and did not number more than one hundred and eighty
fighting men.

The Wahkiacums, or Waak-i-cums, inhabited the north side of the
Columbia, and numbered sixty-six warriors. They and the Chinooks
were originally the same; but a dispute arising about two
generations previous to the time of the settlement, between the
ruling chief and his brother Wahkiacum, the latter seceded, and
with his adherents formed the present horde which continues to go
by his name. In this way new tribes or clans are formed, and
lurking causes of hostility engendered.

The Cathlamets lived opposite to the lower village of the
Wahkiacums, and numbered ninety-four warriors.

These four tribes, or rather clans, have every appearance of
springing from the same origin, resembling each other in person,
dress, language, and manners. They are rather a diminutive race,
generally below five feet five inches, with crooked legs and
thick ankles - a deformity caused by their passing so much of
their time sitting or squatting upon the calves of their legs and
their heels, in the bottom of their canoes - a favorite position,
which they retain, even when on shore. The women increase the
deformity by wearing tight bandages round the ankles, which
prevent the circulation of the blood, and cause a swelling of the
muscles of the leg.

Neither sex can boast of personal beauty. Their faces are round,
with small but animated eyes. Their noses are broad and flat at
top, and fleshy at the end, with large nostrils. They have wide
mouths, thick lips, and short, irregular and dirty teeth. Indeed
good teeth are seldom to be seen among the tribes west of the
Rocky Mountains, who live simply on fish.

In the early stages of their intercourse with white men, these
savages were but scantily clad. In summer time the men went
entirely naked; in the winter and in bad weather the men wore a
small robe, reaching to the middle of the thigh, made of the
skins of animals, or of the wool of the mountain sheep.
Occasionally, they wore a kind of mantle of matting, to keep off
the rain but, having thus protected the back and shoulders, they
left the rest of the body naked.

The women wore similar robes, though shorter, not reaching below
the waist; besides which, they had a kind of petticoat, or
fringe, reaching from the waist to the knee, formed of the fibres
of cedar bark, broken into strands, or a tissue of silk grass
twisted and knotted at the ends. This was the usual dress of the
women in summer; should the weather be inclement, they added a
vest of skins, similar to the robe.

The men carefully eradicated every vestige of a beard,
considering it a great deformity. They looked with disgust at the
whiskers and well-furnished chins of the white men, and in
derision called them Long-beards. Both sexes, on the other hand,
cherished the hair of the head, which with them is generally
black and rather coarse. They allowed it to grow to a great
length and were very proud and careful of it, sometimes wearing
it plaited, sometimes wound round the head in fanciful tresses.
No greater affront could be offered to them than to cut off their
treasured locks.

They had conical hats with narrow rims, neatly woven of bear
grass or of the fibres of cedar bark, interwoven with designs of
various shapes and colors; sometimes merely squares and
triangles, at other times rude representations of canoes, with
men fishing and harpooning. These hats were nearly waterproof,
and extremely durable.

The favorite ornaments of the men were collars of bears' claws,
the proud trophies of hunting exploits; while the women and
children wore similar decorations of elks' tusks. An intercourse
with the white traders, however, soon effected a change in the
toilets of both sexes. They became fond of arraying themselves in
any article of civilized dress which they could procure, and
often made a most grotesque appearance. They adapted many
articles of finery, also, to their own previous tastes. Both
sexes were fond of adorning themselves with bracelets of iron,
brass, or copper. They were delighted, also, with blue and white
beads, particularly the former, and wore broad tight bands of
them round the waist and ankles, large rolls of them round the
neck, and pendants of them in the ears. The men, especially, who
in savage life carry a passion for personal decoration further
than the females, did not think their gala equipments complete
unless they had a jewel of hiaqua, or wampum, dangling at the
nose. Thus arrayed, their hair besmeared with fish oil, and their
bodies bedaubed with red clay, they considered themselves

When on warlike expeditions, they painted their faces and bodies
in the most hideous and grotesque manner, according to the
universal practice of American savages. Their arms were bows and
arrows, spears, and war clubs. Some wore a corselet of pieces of
hard wood laced together with bear grass, so as to form a light
coat of mail, pliant to the body; and a kind of casque of cedar
bark, leather, and bear grass, sufficient to protect the head
from an arrow or war club. A more complete article of defensive
armor was a buff jerkin or shirt of great thickness, made of
doublings of elk skin, and reaching to the feet, holes being left
for the head and arms. This was perfectly arrowproof; add to
which, it was often endowed with charmed virtues, by the spells
and mystic ceremonials of the medicine man, or conjurer.

Of the peculiar custom, prevalent among these people, of
flattening the head, we have already spoken. It is one of those
instances of human caprice, like the crippling of the feet of
females in China, which are quite incomprehensible. This custom
prevails principally among the tribes on the sea-coast, and about
the lower parts of the rivers. How far it extends along the coast
we are not able to ascertain. Some of the tribes, both north and
south of the Columbia, practice it; but they all speak the
Chinook language, and probably originated from the same stock. As
far as we can learn, the remoter tribes, which speak an entirely
different language, do not flatten the head. This absurd custom
declines, also, in receding from the shores of the Pacific; few
traces of it are to be found among the tribes of the Rocky
Mountains, and after crossing the mountains it disappears
altogether. Those Indians, therefore, about the head waters of
the Columbia, and in the solitary mountain regions, who are often
called Flatheads, must not be supposed to be characterized by
this deformity. It is an appellation often given by the hunters
east of the mountain chain, to all western Indians, excepting the

The religious belief of these people was extremely limited and
confined; or rather, in all probability, their explanations were
but little understood by their visitors. They had an idea of a
benevolent and omnipotent spirit, the creator of all things. They
represent him as assuming various shapes at pleasure, but
generally that of an immense bird. He usually inhabits the sun,
but occasionally wings his way through the aerial regions, and
sees all that is doing upon earth. Should anything displease him,
he vents his wrath in terrific storms and tempests, the lightning
being the flashes of his eyes, and the thunder the clapping of
his wings. To propitiate his favor they offer to him annual
sacrifices of salmon and venison, the first fruits of their
fishing and hunting.

Besides this aerial spirit they believe in an inferior one, who
inhabits the fire, and of whom they are in perpetual dread, as,
though he possesses equally the power of good and evil, the evil
is apt to predominate. They endeavor, therefore, to keep him in
good humor by frequent offerings. He is supposed also to have
great influence with the winged spirit, their sovereign protector
and benefactor. They implore him, therefore, to act as their
interpreter, and procure them all desirable things, such as
success in fishing and hunting, abundance of game, fleet horses,
obedient wives, and male children.

These Indians have likewise their priests, or conjurers, or
medicine men, who pretend to be in the confidence of the deities,
and the expounders and enforcers of their will. Each of these
medicine men has his idols carved in wood, representing the
spirits of the air and of the fire, under some rude and grotesque
form of a horse, a bear, a beaver, or other quadruped, or that of
bird or fish. These idols are hung round with amulets and votive
offerings, such as beavers' teeth, and bears' and eagles' claws.

When any chief personage is on his death-bed, or dangerously ill,
the medicine men are sent for. Each brings with him his idols,
with which he retires into a canoe to hold a consultation. As
doctors are prone to disagree, so these medicine men have now and
then a violent altercation as to the malady of the patient, or
the treatment of it. To settle this they beat their idols soundly
against each other; whichever first loses a tooth or a claw is
considered as confuted, and his votary retires from the field.
Polygamy is not only allowed, but considered honorable, and the
greater number of wives a man can maintain, the more important is
he in the eyes of the tribe. The first wife, however, takes rank
of all the others, and is considered mistress of the house. Still
the domestic establishment is liable to jealousies and cabals,
and the lord and master has much difficulty in maintaining
harmony in his jangling household.

In the manuscript from which we draw many of these particulars,
it is stated that he who exceeds his neighbors in the number of
his wives, male children, and slaves, is elected chief of the
village; a title to office which we do not recollect ever before
to have met with.

Feuds are frequent among, these tribes, but are not very deadly.
They have occasionally pitched battles, fought on appointed days,
and at specific places, which are generally the banks of a
rivulet. The adverse parties post themselves on the opposite
sides of the stream, and at such distances that the battles often
last a long while before any blood is shed. The number of killed
and wounded seldom exceed half a dozen. Should the damage be
equal on each side, the war is considered as honorably concluded;
should one party lose more than the other, it is entitled to a
compensation in slaves or other property, otherwise hostilities
are liable to be renewed at a future day. They are also given to
predatory inroads into the territories of their enemies, and
sometimes of their friendly neighbors. Should they fall upon a
band of inferior force, or upon a village, weakly defended, they
act with the ferocity of true poltroons, slaying all the men, and
carrying off the women and children as slaves. As to the
property, it is packed upon horses which they bring with them for
the purpose. They are mean and paltry as warriors, and altogether
inferior in heroic qualities to the savages of the buffalo plains
on the east side of the mountains.

A great portion of their time is passed in revelry, music,
dancing, and gambling. Their music scarcely deserves the name;
the instruments being of the rudest kind. Their singing is harsh
and discordant; the songs are chiefly extempore, relating to
passing circumstances, the persons present, or any trifling
object that strikes the attention of the singer. They have
several kinds of dances, some of them lively and pleasing. The
women are rarely permitted to dance with the men, but form groups
apart, dancing to the same instrument and song.

They have a great passion for play, and a variety of games. To
such a pitch of excitement are they sometimes roused, that they
gamble away everything they possess, even to their wives and
children. They are notorious thieves, also, and proud of their
dexterity. He who is frequently successful, gains much applause
and popularity; but the clumsy thief, who is detected in some
bungling attempt, is scoffed at and despised, and sometimes
severely punished.

Such are a few leading characteristics of the natives in the
neighborhood of Astoria. They appear to us inferior in many
respects to the tribes east of the mountains, the bold rovers of
the prairies; and to partake much of Esquimaux character;
elevated in some degree by a more genial climate and more varied
living style.

The habits of traffic engendered at the cataracts of the
Columbia, have had their influence along the coast. The Chinooks
and other Indians at the mouth of the river, soon proved
themselves keen traders, and in their early dealings with the
Astorians never hesitated to ask three times what they considered
the real value of an article. They were inquisitive, also, in the
extreme, and impertinently intrusive; and were prone to indulge
in scoffing and ridicule at the expense of the strangers.

In one thing, however, they showed superior judgment and self-
command to most of their race; this was, in their abstinence from
ardent spirits, and the abhorrence and disgust with which they
regarded a drunkard. On one occasion a son of Comcomly had been
induced to drink freely at the factory, and went home in a state
of intoxication, playing all kinds of mad pranks, until he sank
into a stupor, in which he remained for two days. The old
chieftain repaired to his friend, M'Dougal, with indignation
flaming in his countenance, and bitterly reproached him for
having permitted his son to degrade himself into a beast, and to
render himself an object of scorn and laughter to his slave.

                          CHAPTER XLI.
Spring Arrangements at Astoria.- Various Expeditions Set Out.-
The Long Narrows.- Pilfering Indians.- Thievish Tribe at Wish-
ram. - Portage at the Falls- Portage by Moonlight.- An Attack, a
Route, and a Robbery.- Indian Cure for Cowardice.- A Parley and
Compromise.- The Despatch Party Turn Back.- Meet Crooks and John
Day.- Their Sufferings.- Indian Perfidy.- Arrival at Astoria.

AS the spring opened, the little settlement of Astoria was in
agitation, and prepared to send forth various expeditions.
Several important things were to be done. It was necessary to
send a supply of goods to the trading post of Mr. David Stuart,
established in the preceding autumn on the Oakinagan. The cache,
or secret deposit, made by Mr. Hunt at the Caldron Linn, was
likewise to be visited, and the merchandise and other effects
left there, to be brought to Astoria. A third object of moment
was to send despatches overland to Mr. Astor at New York,
informing him of the state of affairs at the settlement, and the
fortunes of the several expeditions.

The task of carrying supplies to Oakinagan was assigned to Mr.
Robert Stuart, a spirited and enterprising young man, nephew to
the one who had established the post. The cache was to be sought
out by two of the clerks, named Russell Farnham and Donald
M'Gilles, conducted by a guide, and accompanied by eight men, to
assist in bringing home the goods.

As to the despatches, they were confided to Mr. John Reed, the
clerk, the same who had conducted one of the exploring
detachments of Snake River. He was now to trace back his way
across the mountains by the same route by which he had come, with
no other companions or escort than Ben Jones, the Kentucky
hunter, and two Canadians. As it was still hoped that Mr. Crooks
might be in existence, and that Mr. Reed and his party might meet
with him in the course of their route, they were charged with a
small supply of goods and provisions, to aid that gentleman on
his way to Astoria.

When the expedition of Reed was made known, Mr. M'Lellan
announced his determination to accompany it. He had long been
dissatisfied with the smallness of his interest in the
copartnership, and had requested an additional number of shares;
his request not being complied with, he resolved to abandon the
company. M'Lellan was a man of a singularly self-willed and
decided character, with whom persuasion was useless; he was
permitted, therefore, to take his own course without opposition.

As to Reed, he set about preparing for his hazardous journey with
the zeal of a true Irishman. He had a tin case made, in which the
letters and papers addressed to Mr. Astor were carefully soldered
up. This case he intended to strap upon his shoulders, so as to
bear it about with him, sleeping and waking, in all changes and
chances, by land or by water, and never to part with it but with
his life!

As the route of these several parties would be the same for
nearly four hundred miles up the Columbia, and within that
distance would lie through the piratical pass of the rapids, and
among the freebooting tribes of the river, it was thought
advisable to start about the same time, and to keep together.
Accordingly, on the 22d of March, they all set off, to the number
of seventeen men, in two canoes - and here we cannot but pause to
notice the hardihood of these several expeditions, so
insignificant in point of force, and severally destined to
traverse immense wildernesses where larger parties had
experienced so much danger and distress. When recruits were
sought in the preceding year among experienced hunters and
voyageurs at Montreal and St. Louis, it was considered dangerous
to attempt to cross the Rocky Mountains with less than sixty men;
and yet here we find Reed ready to push his way across those
barriers with merely three companions. Such is the fearlessness,
the insensibility to danger, which men acquire by the habitude of
constant risk. The mind, like the body, becomes callous by

The little associated band proceeded up the river, under the
command of Mr. Robert Stuart, and arrived early in the month of
April at the Long Narrows, that notorious plundering place. Here
it was necessary to unload the canoes, and to transport both them
and their cargoes to the head of the Narrows by land. Their party
was too few in number for the purpose. They were obliged,
therefore, to seek the assistance of the Cathlasco Indians, who
undertook to carry the goods on their horses. Forward then they
set, the Indians with their horses well freighted, and the first
load convoyed by Reed and five men, well armed; the gallant
Irishman striding along at the head, with his tin case of
despatches glittering on his back. In passing, however, through a
rocky and intricate defile, some of the freebooting vagrants
turned their horses up a narrow path and galloped off, carrying
with them two bales of goods, and a number of smaller articles.
To follow them was useless; indeed, it was with much ado that the
convoy got into port with the residue of the cargoes; for some of
the guards were pillaged of their knives and pocket
handkerchiefs, and the lustrous tin case of Mr. John Reed was in
imminent jeopardy.

Mr. Stuart heard of these depredations, and hastened forward to
the relief of the convoy, but could not reach them before dusk,
by which time they had arrived at the village of Wish-ram,
already noted for its great fishery, and the knavish propensities
of its inhabitants. Here they found themselves benighted in a
strange place, and surrounded by savages bent on pilfering, if
not upon open robbery. Not knowing what active course to take,
they remained under arms all night, without closing an eye, and
at the very first peep of dawn, when objects were yet scarce
visible, everything was hastily embarked, and, without seeking to
recover the stolen effects, they pushed off from shore, "glad to
bid adieu," as they said, "to this abominable nest of

The worthies of Wish-ram, however, were not disposed to part so
easily with their visitors. Their cupidity had been quickened by
the plunder which they had already taken, and their confidence
increased by the impunity with which their outrage had passed.
They resolved, therefore, to take further toll of the travellers,
and, if possible, to capture the tin case of despatches; which
shining conspicuously from afar, and being guarded by John Reed
with such especial care, must, as they supposed, be "a great

Accordingly, Mr. Stuart and his comrades had not proceeded far in
the canoes, when they beheld the whole rabble of Wishram
stringing in groups along the bank, whooping and yelling, and
gibbering in their wild jargon, and when they landed below the
falls, they were surrounded by upwards of four hundred of these
river ruffians, armed with bows and arrows, war clubs, and other
savage weapons. These now pressed forward, with offers to carry
the canoes and effects up the portage. Mr Stuart declined
forwarding the goods, alleging the lateness of the hour; but, to
keep them in good humor, informed them, that, if they conducted
themselves well, their offered services might probably be
accepted in the morning; in the meanwhile, he suggested that they
might carry up the canoes. They accordingly set off with the two
canoes on their shoulders, accompanied by a guard of eight men
well armed.

When arrived at the head of the falls, the mischievous spirit of
the savages broke out, and they were on the point of destroying
the canoes, doubtless with a view to impede the white men from
carrying forward their goods, and laying them open to further
pilfering. They were with some difficulty prevented from
committing this outrage by the interference of an old man, who
appeared to have authority among them; and, in consequence of his
harangue, the whole of the hostile band, with the exception of
about fifty, crossed to the north side of the river, where they
lay in wait, ready for further mischief.

In the meantime, Mr. Stuart, who had remained at the foot of the
falls with the goods, and who knew that the proffered assistance
of the savages was only for the purpose of having an opportunity
to plunder, determined, if possible, to steal a march upon them,
and defeat their machinations. In the dead of the night,
therefore, about one o'clock, the moon shining brightly, he
roused his party, and proposed that they should endeavor to
transport the goods themselves, above the falls, before the
sleeping savages could be aware of their operations. All hands
sprang to the work with zeal, and hurried it on in the hope of
getting all over before daylight. Mr. Stuart went forward with
the first loads, and took his station at the head of the portage,
while Mr. Reed and Mr. M'Lellan remained at the foot to forward
the remainder.

The day dawned before the transportation was completed. Some of
the fifty Indians who had remained on the south side of the
river, perceived what was going on, and, feeling themselves too
weak for an attack, gave the alarm to those on the opposite side,
upwards of a hundred of whom embarked in several large canoes.
Two loads of goods yet remained to be brought up. Mr. Stuart
despatched some of the people for one of the loads, with a
request to Mr. Reed to retain with him as many of the men as he
thought necessary to guard the remaining load, as he suspected
hostile intentions on the part of the Indians. Mr. Reed, however,
refused to retain any of them, saying that M'Lellan and himself
were sufficient to protect the small quantity that remained. The
men accordingly departed with the load, while Mr. Reed and
M'Lellan continued to mount guard over the residue. By this time,
a number of the canoes had arrived from the opposite side. As
they approached the shore, the unlucky tin box of John Reed,
shining afar like the brilliant helmet of Euryalus, caught their
eyes. No sooner did the canoes touch the shore, than they leaped
forward on the rocks, set up a war-whoop, and sprang forward to
secure the glittering prize. Mr. M'Lellan, who was at the river
bank, advanced to guard the goods, when one of the savages at
tempted to hoodwink him with his buffalo robe with one hand, and
to stab him with the other. M'Lellan sprang back just far enough
to avoid the blow, and raising his rifle, shot the ruffian
through the heart.

In the meantime, Reed, who with the want of forethought of an
Irishman, had neglected to remove the leathern cover from the
lock of his rifle, was fumbling at the fastenings, when he
received a blow on the head with a war club that laid him
senseless on the ground. In a twinkling he was stripped of his
rifle and pistols, and the tin box, the cause of all this
onslaught, was borne off in triumph.

At this critical juncture, Mr. Stuart, who had heard the war-
whoop, hastened to the scene of action with Ben Jones, and seven
others of the men. When he arrived, Reed was weltering in his
blood, and an Indian standing over him and about to despatch him
with a tomahawk. Stuart gave the word, when Ben Jones leveled his
rifle, and shot the miscreant on the spot. The men then gave a
cheer, and charged upon the main body of the savages, who took to
instant flight. Reed was now raised from the ground, and borne
senseless and bleeding to the upper end of the portage.
Preparations were made to launch the canoes and embark in all
haste, when it was found that they were too leaky to be put in
the water, and that the oars had been left at the foot of the
falls. A scene of confusion now ensued. The Indians were whooping
and yelling, and running about like fiends. A panic seized upon
the men, at being thus suddenly checked, the hearts of some of
the Canadians died within them, and two young men actually
fainted away. The moment they recovered their senses, Mr. Stuart
ordered that they should be deprived of their arms, their under
garments taken off, and that a piece of cloth should be tied
round their waists, in imitation of a squaw; an Indian punishment
for cowardice. Thus equipped, they were stowed away among the
goods in one of the canoes. This ludicrous affair excited the
mirth of the bolder spirits, even in the midst of their perils,
and roused the pride of the wavering. The Indians having crossed
back again to the north side, order was restored, some of the
hands were sent back for the oars, others set to work to calk and
launch the canoes, and in a little while all were embarked and
were continuing their voyage along the southern shore.

No sooner had they departed, than the Indians returned to the
scene of action, bore off their two comrades who had been shot,
one of whom was still living, and returned to their village.
Here they killed two horses; and drank the hot blood to give
fierceness to their courage. They painted and arrayed themselves
hideously for battle; performed the dead dance round the slain,
and raised the war song of vengeance. Then mounting their horses
to the number of four hundred and fifty men, and brandishing
their weapons, they set off along the northern bank of the river,
to get ahead of the canoes, lie in wait for them, and take a
terrible revenge on the white men.

They succeeded in getting some distance above the canoes without
being discovered, and were crossing the river to post themselves
on the side along which the white men were coasting, when they
were fortunately descried. Mr. Stuart and his companions were
immediately on the alert. As they drew near to the place where
the savages had crossed, they observed them posted among steep
and overhanging rocks, close along which, the canoes would have
to pass. Finding that the enemy had the advantage of the ground,
the whites stopped short when within five hundred yards of them,
and discharged and reloaded their pieces. They then made a fire,
and dressed the wounds of Mr. Reed, who had received five severe
gashes in the head. This being done, they lashed the canoes
together, fastened them to a rock at a small distance from the
shore, and there awaited the menaced attack.

They had not been long posted in this manner, when they saw a
canoe approaching. It contained the war-chief of the tribe, and
three of his principal warriors. He drew near, and made a long
harangue, in which he informed them that they had killed one and
wounded another of his nation; that the relations of the slain
cried out for vengeance, and he had been compelled to lead them
to fight. Still he wished to spare unnecessary bloodshed; he
proposed, therefore, that Mr. Reed, who, he observed, was little
better than a dead man, might be given up to be sacrificed to the
manes of the deceased warrior. This would appease the fury of his
friends; the hatchet would then be buried, and all thenceforward
would be friends. The answer was a stern refusal and a defiance,
and the war-chief saw that the canoes were well prepared for a
vigorous defense. He withdrew, therefore, and returning to his
warriors among the rocks held long deliberations. Blood for blood
is a principle in Indian equity and Indian honor; but though the
inhabitants of Wish-ram were men of war, they were likewise men
of traffic, and it was suggested that honor for once might give
way to profit. A negotiation was accordingly opened with the
white men, and after some diplomacy, the matter was compromised
for a blanket to cover the dead, and some tobacco to be smoked by
the living. This being granted, the heroes of Wish-ram crossed
the river once more, returned to their villages to feast upon the
horses whose blood they had so vaingloriously drunk, and the
travellers pursued their voyage without further molestation.

The tin case, however, containing the important despatches for
New York, was irretrievably lost; the very precaution taken by
the worthy Hibernian to secure his missives, had, by rendering
them conspicuous, produced their robbery. The object of his
overland journey, therefore, being defeated, he gave up the
expedition. The whole party repaired with Mr. Robert Stuart to
the establishment of Mr. David Stuart, on the Oakinagan River.
After remaining here two or three days, they all set out on their
return to Astoria accompanied by Mr. David Stuart. This gentleman
had a large quantity of beaver skins at his establishment, but
did not think it prudent to take them with him. fearing the levy
of "black mail" at the falls.

On their way down, when below the forks of the Columbia, they
were hailed one day from the shore in English. Looking around,
they descried two wretched men, entirely naked. They pulled to
shore; the men came up and made themselves known. They proved to
be Mr. Crooks and his faithful follower, John Day.

The reader will recollect that Mr. Crooks, with Day and four
Canadians, had been so reduced by famine and fatigue, that Mr.
Hunt was obliged to leave them, in the month of December, on the
banks of the Snake River. Their situation was the more critical,
as they were in the neighborhood of a band of Shoshonies, whose
horses had been forcibly seized by Mr. Hunt's party for
provisions. Mr. Crooks remained here twenty days, detained by the
extremely reduced state of John Day, who was utterly unable to
travel, and whom he would not abandon, as Day had been in his
employ on the Missouri, and had always proved himself most
faithful. Fortunately the Shoshonies did not offer to molest
them. They had never before seen white men, and seemed to
entertain some superstitions with regard to them, for though they
would encamp near them in the daytime, they would move off with
their tents in the night; and finally disappeared, without taking

When Day was sufficiently recovered to travel, they kept feebly
on, sustaining themselves as well as they could, until in the
month of February, when three of the Canadians, fearful of
perishing with want, left Mr. Crooks on a small river, on the
road by which Mr Hunt had passed in quest of Indians. Mr. Crooks
followed Mr. Hunt's track in the snow for several days, sleeping
as usual in the open air, and suffering all kinds of hardships.
At length, coming to a low prairie, he lost every appearance Of
the "trail," and wandered during the remainder of the winter in
the mountains, subsisting sometimes on horse meat, sometimes on
beavers and their skins, and a part of the time on roots.

About the last of March, the other Canadian gave out and was left
with a lodge of Shoshonies; but Mr. Crooks and John Day still
kept on, and finding the snow sufficiently diminished, undertook,
from Indian information, to cross the last mountain ridge. They
happily succeeded, and afterwards fell in with the Wallah-
Wallahs, a tribe of Indians inhabiting the banks of a river of
the same name, and reputed as being frank, hospitable, and
sincere. They proved worthy of the character, for they received
the poor wanderers kindly, killed a horse for them to eat, and
directed them on their way to the Columbia. They struck the river
about the middle of April, and advanced down it one hundred
miles, until they came within about twenty miles of the falls.

Here they met with some of the "chivalry" of that noted pass, who
received them in a friendly way, and set food before them; but,
while they were satisfying their hunger, perfidiously seized
their rifles. They then stripped them naked, and drove them off,
refusing the entreaties of Mr. Crooks for a flint and steel of
which they had robbed him; and threatening his life if he did not
instantly depart

In this forlorn plight, still worse off than before, they renewed
their wanderings. They now sought to find their way back to the
hospitable Wallah-Wallahs, and had advanced eighty miles along
the river, when fortunately, on the very morning that they were
going to leave the Columbia and strike inland, the canoes of Mr.
Stuart hove in sight.

It is needless to describe the joy of these poor men at once more
finding themselves among countrymen and friends, or of the honest
and hearty welcome with which they were received by their fellow
adventurers. The whole party now continued down the river, passed
all the dangerous places without interruption, and arrived safely
at Astoria on the 11th of May.

                          CHAPTER XLII
Comprehensive Views.- To Supply the Russian Fur Establishment.-
An Agent Sent to Russia.- Project of an Annual Ship.- The Beaver
   Fitted Out.- Her Equipment and Crew.- Instructions to the
    Captain.- The Sandwich Islands.Rumors of the Fate of the
  Tonquin.- Precautions on Reaching the Mouth of the Columbia.

HAVING traced the fortunes of the two expeditions by sea and land
to the mouth of the Columbia, and presented a view of affairs at
Astoria, we will return for a moment to the master spirit of the
enterprise, who regulated the springs of Astoria, at his
residence in New York.

It will be remembered, that a part of the plan of Mr. Astor was
to furnish the Russian fur establishment on the northwest coast
with regular supplies, so as to render it independent of those
casual vessels which cut up the trade and supplied the natives
with arms. This plan had been countenanced by our own government,
and likewise by Count Pahlen, the Russian minister at Washington.
As its views, however, were important and extensive, and might
eventually affect a wide course of commerce, Mr Astor was
desirous of establishing a complete arrangement on the subject
with the Russian American Fur Company, under the sanction of the
Russian government. For this purpose, in March 1811, he
despatched a confidential agent to St. Petersburg, full empowered
to enter into the requisite negotiations. A passage was given to
this gentleman by the government of the United States in the John
Adams, an armed vessel, bound for Europe.

The next step of Mr. Astor was, to despatch the annual ship
contemplated on his general plan. He had as yet heard nothing of
the success of the previous expeditions, and had to proceed upon
the presumption that everything had been effected according to
his instructions. He accordingly fitted out a fine ship of four
hundred and ninety tons, called the Beaver, and freighted her
with a valuable cargo destined for the factory at the mouth of
the Columbia, the trade along the coast, and the supply of the
Russian establishment. In this ship embarked a reinforcement,
consisting of a partner, five clerks, fifteen American laborers,
and six Canadian voyageurs. In choosing his agents for his first
expedition, Mr. Astor had been obliged to have recourse to
British subjects experienced in the Canadian fur trade;
henceforth it was his intention, as much as possible, to select
Americans, so as to secure an ascendency of American influence in
the management of the company, and to make it decidedly national.

Accordingly, Mr. John Clarke, the partner who took the lead in
the present expedition, was a native of the United States, though
he had passed much of his life in the northwest, having been
employed in the trade since the age of sixteen. Most of the
clerks were young gentlemen of good connections in the American
cities, some of whom embarked in the hope of gain, others through
the mere spirit of adventure incident to youth.

The instructions given by Mr. Astor to Captain Sowle, the
commander of the Beaver, were, in some respects, hypothetical, in
consequence of the uncertainty resting upon the previous steps of
the enterprise.

He was to touch at the Sandwich Islands, inquire about the
fortunes of the Tonquin, and whether an establishment had been
formed at the mouth of the Columbia. If so, he was to take as
many Sandwich Islanders as his ship could accommodate, and
proceed thither. On arriving at the river, he was to observe
great caution, for even if an establishment should have been
formed, it might have fallen into hostile hands. He was,
therefore, to put in as if by casualty or distress, to give
himself out as a coasting trader, and to say nothing about his
ship being owned by Mr. Astor, until he had ascertained that
everything was right. In that case, he was to land such part of
his cargo as was intended for the establishment, and to proceed
to New Archangel with the supplies intended for the Russian post
at that place, where he could receive peltries in payment. With
these he was to return to Astoria; take in the furs collected
there, and, having completed his cargo by trading along the
coast, was to proceed to Canton. The captain received the same
injunctions that had been given to Captain Thorn of the Tonquin,
of great caution and circumspection in his intercourse with the
natives, and that he should not permit more than one or two to be
on board at a time.

The Beaver sailed from New York on the 10th of October, 1811, and
reached the Sandwich Islands without any occurrence of moment.
Here a rumor was heard of the disastrous fate of the Tonquin.
Deep solicitude was felt by every one on board for the fate of
both expeditions, by sea and land. Doubts were entertained
whether any establishment had been formed at the mouth of the
Columbia, or whether any of the company would be found there.
After much deliberation, the Captain took twelve Sandwich
Islanders on board, for the service of the factory, should there
be one in existence, and proceeded on his voyage.

On the 6th of May, he arrived off the mouth of the Columbia and
running as near as possible, fired two signal guns. No answer was
returned, nor was there any signal to be descried. Nigh coming
on, the ship stood out to sea, and every heart drooped as the
land faded away. On the following morning they again ran in
within four miles of shore, and fired other signal guns, but
still without reply. A boat was then despatched, to sound the
channel, and attempt an entrance; but returned without success
there being a tremendous swell, and breakers. Signal guns were
fired again in the evening, but equally in vain, and once more
the ship stood off to sea for the night. The captain now gave up
all hope of finding any establishment at the place, and indulged
in the most gloomy apprehensions. He feared his predecessor had
been massacred before they had reached their place of
destination; or if they should have erected a factory, that it
had been surprised and destroyed by the natives.

In this moment of doubt and uncertainty, Mr. Clarke announced his
determination, in case of the worst, to found an establishment
with the present party, and all hands bravely engaged to stand by
him in the undertaking. The next morning the ship stood in for
the third time, and fired three signal guns, but with little hope
of reply. To the great joy of the crew, three distinct guns were
heard in answer. The apprehensions of all but Captain Sowle were
now at rest. That cautious commander recollected the instructions
given him by Mr. Astor, and determined to proceed with great
circumspection. He was well aware of Indian treachery and
cunning. It was not impossible, he observed, that these cannon
might have been fired by the savages themselves. They might have
surprised the fort, massacred its inmates; and these signal guns
might only be decoys to lure him across the bar, that they might
have a chance of cutting him off, and seizing his vessel.

At length a white flag was descried hoisted as a signal on Cape
Disappointment. The passengers pointed to it in triumph, but the
captain did not yet dismiss his doubts. A beacon fire blazed
through the night on the same place, but the captain observed
that all these signals might be treacherous.

On the following morning, May 9th, the vessel came to anchor off
Cape Disappointment, outside of the bar. Towards noon an Indian
canoe was seen making for the ship and all hands were ordered to
be on the alert. A few moments afterwards, a barge was perceived
following the canoe. The hopes and fears of those on board of the
ship were in tumultuous agitation, as the boat drew nigh that was
to let them know the fortunes of the enterprise, and the fate of
their predecessors. The captain, who was haunted with the idea of
possible treachery, did not suffer his curiosity to get the
better of his caution, but ordered a party of his men under arms,
to receive the visitors. The canoe came first alongside, in which
were Comcomly and six Indians; in the barge were M'Dougal,
M'Lellan, and eight Canadians. A little conversation with these
gentlemen dispelled all the captain's fears, and the Beaver
crossing the bar under their pilotage, anchored safely in Baker's

                         CHAPTER XLIII.
Active Operations at Astoria- Various Expeditions Fitted Out.-
   Robert Stuart and a Party Destined for New York - Singular
Conduct of John Day.- His Fate.- Piratical Pass and Hazardous
Portage.-Rattlesnakes. - Their Abhorrence of Tobacco.- Arrival
  Among the Wallah-Wallahs. - Purchase of Horses- Departure of
             Stuart and His Band for the Mountains.

THE arrival of the Beaver with a reinforcement and supplies, gave
new life and vigor to affairs at Astoria. These were means for
extending the operations of the establishment, and founding
interior trading posts. Two parties were immediately set on foot
to proceed severally under the command of Messrs. M'Kenzie and
Clarke, and establish posts above the forks of the Columbia, at
points where most rivalry and opposition were apprehended from
the Northwest Company.

A third party, headed by Mr. David Stuart, was to repair with
supplies to the post of that gentleman on the Oakinagan. In
addition to these expeditions, a fourth was necessary to convey
despatches to Mr. Astor, at New York, in place of those
unfortunately lost by John Reed. The safe conveyance of these
despatches was highly important, as by them Mr. Astor would
receive an account of the state of the factory, and regulate his
reinforcements and supplies accordingly. The mission was one of
peril and hardship and required a man of nerve and vigor. It was
confided to Robert Stuart, who, though he had never been across
the mountains, and a very young man, had given proofs of his
competency to the task. Four trusty and well-tried men, who had
come overland in Mr. Hunt's expedition, were given as his guides
and hunters. These were Ben Jones and John Day, the Kentuckians,
and Andri Vallar and Francis Le Clerc, Canadians. Mr. M'Lellan
again expressed his determination to take this opportunity of
returning to the Atlantic States. In this he was joined by Mr.
Crooks, -who, notwithstanding all that he had suffered in the
dismal journey of the preceding winter, was ready to retrace his
steps and brave every danger and hardship, rather than remain at
Astoria. This little handful of adventurous men we propose to
accompany in its long and perilous peregrinations.

The several parties we have mentioned all set off in company on
the 29th of June, under a salute of cannon from the fort. They
were to keep together for mutual protection through the piratical
passes of the river, and to separate, on their different
destinations, at the forks of the Columbia. Their number,
collectively, was nearly sixty, consisting of partners and
clerks, Canadian voyageurs, Sandwich Islanders, and American
hunters; and they embarked in two barges and ten canoes.

They had scarcely got under way, when John Day, the Kentucky
hunter, became restless and uneasy, and extremely wayward in his
deportment. This caused surprise, for in general he was
remarkable for his cheerful, manly deportment. It was supposed
that the recollection of past sufferings might harass his mind in
undertaking to retrace the scenes where they had been
experienced. As the expedition advanced, however, his agitation
increased. He began to talk wildly and incoherently, and to show
manifest symptoms of derangement.

Mr. Crooks now informed his companions that in his desolate
wanderings through the Snake River country during the preceding
winter, in which he had been accompanied by John Day, the poor
fellow's wits had been partially unsettled by the sufferings and
horrors through which they had passed, and he doubted whether
they had ever been restored to perfect sanity. It was still hoped
that this agitation of spirits might pass away as they proceeded;
but, on the contrary, it grew more and more violent. His comrades
endeavored to divert his mind and to draw him into rational
conversation, but he only became the more exasperated, uttering
wild and incoherent ravings. The sight of any of the natives put
him in an absolute fury, and he would heap on them the most
opprobrious epithets; recollecting, no doubt, what he had
suffered from Indian robbers.

On the evening of the 2d of July he became absolutely frantic,
and attempted to destroy himself. Being disarmed, he sank into
quietude, and professed the greatest remorse for the crime he had
meditated. He then pretended to sleep, and having thus lulled
suspicion, suddenly sprang up, just before daylight, seized a
pair of loaded pistols, and endeavored to blow out his brains. In
his hurry he fired too high, and the balls passed over his head.
He was instantly secured and placed under a guard in one of the
boats. How to dispose of him was now the question, as it was
impossible to keep him with the expedition. Fortunately Mr.
Stuart met with some Indians accustomed to trade with Astoria.
These undertook to conduct John Day back to the factory, and
deliver him there in safety. It was with the utmost concern that
his comrades saw the poor fellow depart; for, independent of his
invaluable services as a first-rate hunter, his frank and loyal
qualities had made him a universal favorite. It may be as well to
add that the Indians executed their task faithfully, and landed
John Day among his friends at Astoria; but his constitution was
completely broken by the hardships he had undergone, and he died
within a year.

On the evening of the 6th of July the party arrived at the
piratical pass of the river, and encamped at the foot of the
first rapid. The next day, before the commencement of the
portage, the greatest precautions were taken to guard against
lurking treachery, or open attack. The weapons of every man were
put in order, and his cartridge-box replenished. Each one wore a
kind of surcoat made of the skin of the elk, reaching from his
neck to his knees, and answering the purpose of a shirt of mail,
for it was arrow proof, and could even resist a musket ball at
the distance of ninety yards. Thus armed and equipped, they
posted their forces in military style. Five of the officers took
their stations at each end of the portage, which was between
three and four miles in length; a number of men mounted guard at
short distances along the heights immediately overlooking the
river, while the residue, thus protected from surprise, employed
themselves below in dragging up the barges and canoes, and
carrying up the goods along the narrow margin of the rapids. With
these precautions they all passed unmolested. The only accident
that happened was the upsetting of one of the canoes, by which
some of the goods sunk, and others floated down the stream. The
alertness and rapacity of the hordes which infest these rapids,
were immediately apparent. They pounced upon the floating
merchandise with the keenness of regular wreckers. A bale of
goods which landed upon one of the islands was immediately ripped
open, one half of its contents divided among the captors, and the
other half secreted in a lonely hut in a deep ravine. Mr. Robert
Stuart, however, set out in a canoe with five men and an
interpreter, ferreted out the wreckers in their retreat, and
succeeded in wrestling from them their booty.

Similar precautions to those already mentioned, and to a still
greater extent, were observed in passing the Long Narrows, and
the falls, where they would be exposed to the depredations of the
chivalry of Wish-ram, and its freebooting neighborhood. In fact,
they had scarcely set their first watch one night, when an alarm
of "Indians!" was given. "To arms" was the cry, and every man was
at his post in an instant. The alarm was explained; a war party
of Shoshonies had surprised a canoe of the natives just below the
encampment, had murdered four men and two women, and it was
apprehended they would attack the camp. The boats and canoes were
immediately hauled up, a breastwork was made of them and the
packages, forming three sides of a square, with the river in the
rear, and thus the party remained fortified throughout the night.

The dawn, however, dispelled the alarm; the portage was conducted
in peace; the vagabond warriors of the vicinity hovered about
them while at work, but were kept at a wary distance. They
regarded the loads of merchandise with wistful eyes, but seeing
the "long-beards" so formidable in number, and so well prepared
for action, they made no attempt either by open force or sly
pilfering to collect their usual toll, but maintained a peaceful
demeanor, and were afterwards rewarded for their good conduct
with presents of tobacco.

Fifteen days were consumed in ascending from the foot of the
first rapid to the head of the falls, a distance of about eighty
miles, but full of all kinds of obstructions. Having happily
accomplished these difficult portages, the party, on the 19th of
July, arrived at a smoother part of the river, and pursued their
way up the stream with greater speed and facility.

They were now in the neighborhood where Mr. Crooks and John Day
had been so perfidiously robbed and stripped a few months
previously, when confiding in the proffered hospitality of a
ruffian band. On landing at night, therefore, a vigilant guard
was maintained about the camp. On the following morning a number
of Indians made their appearance, and came prowling round the
party while at breakfast. To his great delight, Mr. Crooks
recognized among them two of the miscreants by whom he had been
robbed. They were instantly seized, bound hand and foot, and
thrown into one of the canoes. Here they lay in doleful fright,
expecting summary execution. Mr. Crooks, however, was not of a
revengeful disposition, and agreed to release the culprits as
soon as the pillaged property should be restored. Several savages
immediately started off in different directions, and before night
the rifles of Crooks and Day were produced; several of the
smaller articles pilfered from them, however, could not be

The bands of the culprits were then removed, and they lost no
time in taking their departure, still under the influence of
abject terror, and scarcely crediting their senses that they had
escaped the merited punishment of their offenses.

The country on each side of the river now began to assume a
different character. The hills, and cliffs, and forests
disappeared; vast sandy plains, scantily clothed here and there
with short tufts of grass, parched by the summer sun, stretched
far away to the north and south. The river was occasionally
obstructed with rocks and rapids, but often there were smooth,
placid intervals, where the current was gentle, and the boatmen
were enabled to lighten their labors with the assistance of the

The natives in this part of the river resided entirely on the
northern side. They were hunters, as well as fishermen, and had
horses in plenty. Some of these were purchased by the party, as
provisions, and killed on the spot, though they occasionally
found a difficulty in procuring fuel wherewith to cook them. One
of the greatest dangers that beset the travellers in this part of
their expedition, was the vast number of rattlesnakes which
infested the rocks about the rapids and portages, and on which
the men were in danger of treading. They were often found, too,
in quantities about the encampments. In one place, a nest of them
lay coiled together, basking in the sun. Several guns loaded with
shot were discharged at them, and thirty-seven killed and
wounded. To prevent any unwelcome visits from them in the night,
tobacco was occasionally strewed around the tents, a weed for
which they have a very proper abhorrence.

On the 28th of July the travellers arrived at the mouth of the
Wallah-Wallah, a bright, clear stream, about six feet deep, and
fifty-five yards wide, which flows rapidly over a bed of sand and
gravel, and throws itself into the Columbia, a few miles below
Lewis River. Here the combined parties that had thus far voyaged
together were to separate, each for its particular destination.

On the banks of the Wallah-Wallah lived the hospitable tribe of
the same name who had succored Mr. Crooks and John Day in the
time of their extremity. No sooner did they hear of the arrival
of the party, than they hastened to greet them. They built a
great bonfire on the bank of the river, before the camp, and men
and women danced round it to the cadence of their songs, in which
they sang the praises of the white men, and welcomed them to
their country.

On the following day a traffic was commenced, to procure horses
for such of the party as intended to proceed by land. The Wallah-
Wallahs are an equestrian tribe. The equipments of their horses
were rude and inconvenient. High saddles, roughly made of deer
skin, stuffed with hair, which chafe the horse's back and leave
it raw; wooden stirrups, with a thong of raw hide wrapped round
them; and for bridles they have cords of twisted horse-hair,
which they tie round the under jaw. They are, like most Indians,
bold but hard riders, and when on horseback gallop about the most
dangerous places, without fear for themselves, or pity for their

From these people Mr. Stuart purchased twenty horses for his
party; some for the saddle, and others to transport the baggage.
He was fortunate in procuring a noble animal for his own use,
which was praised by the Indians for its great speed and bottom,
and a high price set upon it. No people understand better the
value of a horse than these equestrian tribes; and nowhere is
speed a greater requisite, as they frequently engage in the chase
of the antelope, one of the fleetest of animals. Even after the
Indian who sold this boasted horse to Mr. Stuart had concluded
his bargain, he lingered about the animal, seeming loth to part
from him, and to be sorry for what he had done.

A day or two were employed by Mr. Stuart in arranging packages
and pack-saddles, and making other preparations for his long and
arduous journey. His party, by the loss of John Day, was now
reduced to six, a small number for such an expedition. They were
young men, however, full of courage, health, and good spirits,
and stimulated rather than appalled by danger.

On the morning of the 31st of July, all preparations being
concluded, Mr. Stuart and his little band mounted their steeds
and took a farewell of their fellow-travellers, who gave them
three hearty cheers as they set out on their dangerous journey.
The course they took was to the southeast, towards the fated
region of the Snake River. At an immense distance rose a chain of
craggy mountains, which they would have to traverse; they were
the same among which the travellers had experienced such
sufferings from cold during the preceding winter, and from their
azure tints, when seen at a distance, had received the name of
the Blue Mountains.

                         CHAPTER XLIV.
Route of Mr. Stuart- Dreary Wilds.- Thirsty Travelling.-A Grove
   and Streamlet.- The Blue Mountains.- A Fertile Plain With
Rivulets.- Sulphur Spring- Route Along Snake River- Rumors of
White Men.-The Snake and His Horse.- A Snake Guide.-A Midnight
  Decampment.- Unexpected Meeting With Old Comrades- Story of
  Trappers' Hardships- Salmon Falls- A Great Fishery.- Mode of
  Spearing Salmon.- Arrival at the Caldron Linn.- State of the
    Caches. - New Resolution of the Three Kentucky Trappers.

IN retracing the route which had proved so disastrous to Mr.
Hunt's party during the preceding winter, Mr. Stuart had trusted,
in the present more favorable season, to find easy travelling and
abundant supplies. On these great wastes and wilds, however, each
season has its peculiar hardships. The travellers had not
proceeded far, before they found themselves among naked and arid
hills, with a soil composed of sand and clay, baked and brittle,
that to all appearance had never been visited by the dews of

Not a spring, or pool, or running stream was to be seen; the
sunburnt country was seamed and cut up by dry ravines, the beds
of winter torrents, serving only to balk the hopes of man and
beast with the sight of dusty channels, where water had once
poured along in floods.

For a long summer day they continued onward without halting, a
burning sky above their heads, a parched desert beneath their
feet, with just wind enough to raise the light sand from the
knolls, and envelop them in stifling clouds. The sufferings from
thirst became intense; a fine young dog, their only companion of
the kind, gave out, and expired. Evening drew on without any
prospect of relief, and they were almost reduced to despair, when
they descried something that looked like a fringe of forest along
the horizon. All were inspired with new hope, for they knew that
on these arid wastes, in the neighborhood of trees, there is
always water.

They now quickened their pace; the horses seemed to understand
their motives, and to partake of their anticipations; for, though
before almost ready to give out, they now required neither whip
nor spur. With all their exertions, it was late in the night
before they drew near to the trees. As they approached, they
heard, with transport, the rippling of a shallow stream. No
sooner did the refreshing sound reach the ears of the horse, than
the poor animals snuffed the air, rushed forward with
ungovernable eagerness, and plunging their muzzles into the
water, drank until they seemed in danger of bursting. Their
riders had but little more discretion, and required repeated
draughts to quench their excessive thirst. Their weary march that
day had been forty-five miles, over a tract that might rival the
deserts of Africa for aridity. Indeed, the sufferings of the
traveller on these American deserts is frequently more severe
than in the wastes of Africa or Asia, from being less habituated
and prepared to cope with them.

On the banks of this blessed stream the travellers encamped for
the night; and so great had been their fatigue, and so sound and
sweet was their sleep, that it was a late hour the next morning
before they awoke. They now recognized the little river to be the
Umatilla, the same on the banks of which Mr. Hunt and his
followers had arrived after their painful struggle through the
Blue Mountains, and experienced such a kind relief in the
friendly camp of the Sciatogas.

That range of Blue Mountains now extended in the distance before
them; they were the same among which poor Michael Carriere had
perished. They form the southeast boundary of the great plains
along the Columbia, dividing the waters of its main stream from
those of Lewis River. They are, in fact, a part of a long chain,
which stretches over a great extent of country, and includes in
its links the Snake River Mountains.

The day was somewhat advanced before the travellers left the
shady banks of the Umatilla. Their route gradually took them
among the Blue Mountains, which assumed the most rugged aspect on
a near approach. They were shagged with dense and gloomy forests,
and cut up by deep and precipitous ravines, extremely toilsome to
the horses. Sometimes the travellers had to follow the course of
some brawling stream, with a broken, rocky bed, which the
shouldering cliffs and promontories on either side obliged them
frequently to cross and recross. For some miles they struggled
forward through these savage and darkly wooded defiles, when all
at once the whole landscape changed, as if by magic. The rude
mountains and rugged ravines softened into beautiful hills, and
intervening meadows, with rivulets winding through fresh herbage,
and sparkling and murmuring over gravelly beds, the whole forming
a verdant and pastoral scene, which derived additional charms
from being locked up in the bosom of such a hard-hearted region.

Emerging from the chain of Blue Mountains, they descended upon a
vast plain, almost a dead level, sixty miles in circumference, Of
excellent soil, with fine streams meandering through it in every
direction, their courses marked out in the wide landscape by
serpentine lines of cotton-wood trees, and willows, which fringed
their banks, and afforded sustenance to great numbers of beavers
and otters.

In traversing this plain, they passed, close to the skirts of the
hills, a great pool of water, three hundred yards in
circumference, fed by a sulphur spring, about ten feet in
diameter, boiling up in one corner. The vapor from this pool was
extremely noisome, and tainted the air for a considerable
distance. The place was much frequented by elk, which were found
in considerable numbers in the adjacent mountains, and their
horns, shed in the spring-time, were strewed in every direction
around the pond.

On the 10th of August, they reached the main body of Woodvile
Creek, the same stream which Mr. Hunt had ascended in the
preceding year, shortly after his separation from Mr. Crooks.

On the banks of this stream they saw a herd of nineteen
antelopes; a sight so unusual in that part of the country, that
at first they doubted the evidence of their senses. They tried by
every means to get within shot of them, but they were too shy and
fleet, and after alternately bounding to a distance, and then
stopping to gaze with capricious curiosity at the hunter, they at
length scampered out of sight.

On the 12th of August, the travellers arrived on the banks of
Snake River, the scene of so many trials and mishaps to all of
the present party excepting Mr. Stuart. They struck the river
just above the place where it entered the mountains, through
which Messrs. Stuart and Crooks had vainly endeavored to find a
passage. The river was here a rapid stream, four hundred yards in
width, with high sandy banks, and here and there a scanty growth
of willow. Up the southern side of the river they now bent their
course, intending to visit the caches made by Mr. Hunt at the
Caldron Linn.

On the second evening, a solitary Snake Indian visited their
camp, at a late hour, and informed them that there was a white
man residing at one of the cantonments of his tribe, about a
day's journey higher up the river. It was immediately concluded
that he must be one of the poor fellows of Mr. Hunt's party, who
had given out, exhausted by hunger and fatigue, in the wretched
journey of the preceding winter. All present who had borne a part
in the sufferings of that journey, were eager now to press
forward, and bring relief to a lost comrade. Early the next
morning, therefore, they pushed forward with unusual alacrity.
For two days, however, did they travel without being able to find
any trace of such a straggler.

On the evening of the second day, they arrived at a place where a
large river came in from the east, which was renowned among all
the wandering hordes of the Snake nation for its salmon fishery,
that fish being taken in incredible quantities in this
neighborhood. Here, therefore, during the fishing season, the
Snake Indians resort from far and near, to lay in their stock of
salmon, which, with esculent roots, forms the principal food of
the inhabitants of these barren regions.

On the bank of a small stream emptying into Snake River at this
place, Mr. Stuart found an encampment of Shoshonies. He made the
usual inquiry of them concerning the white man of whom he had
received intelligence. No such person was dwelling among them,
but they said there were white men residing with some of their
nation on the opposite side of the river. This was still more
animating information. Mr. Crooks now hoped that these might be
the men of his party, who, disheartened by perils and hardships,
had preferred to remain among the Indians. Others thought they
might be Mr. Miller and the hunters who had left the main body at
Henry's Fort, to trap among the mountain streams. Mr. Stuart
halted, therefore, in the neighborhood of the Shoshonie lodges,
and sent an Indian across the river to seek out the white men in
question, and bring them to his camp.

The travellers passed a restless, miserable night. The place
swarmed with myriads of mosquitoes, which, with their stings and
their music, set all sleep at defiance. The morning dawn found
them in a feverish, irritable mood, and their spleen was
completely aroused by the return of the Indian without any
intelligence of the white men. They now considered themselves the
dupes of Indian falsehoods, and resolved to put no more
confidence in Snakes. They soon, however, forgot this resolution.
In the course of the morning, an Indian came galloping after
them; Mr. Stuart waited to receive him; no sooner had he come up,
than, dismounting and throwing his arms around the neck of Mr.
Stuart's horse, he began to kiss and caress the animal, who, on
his part, seemed by no means surprised or displeased with his
salutation. Mr. Stuart, who valued his horse highly, was
somewhat annoyed by these transports; the cause of them was soon
explained. The Snake said the horse had belonged to him, and been
the best in his possession, and that it had been stolen by the
Wallah-Wallahs. Mr. Stuart was by no means pleased with this
recognition of his steed, nor disposed to admit any claim on the
part of its ancient owner. In fact, it was a noble animal,
admirably shaped, of free and generous spirit, graceful in
movement, and fleet as an antelope. It was his intention, if
possible, to take the horse to New York, and present him to Mr.

In the meantime, some of the party came up, and immediately
recognized in the Snake an old friend and ally. He was, in fact,
one of the two guides who had conducted Mr. Hunt's party, in the
preceding autumn, across Mad River Mountain to Fort Henry, and
who subsequently departed with Mr. Miller and his fellow
trappers, to conduct them to a good trapping ground. The reader
may recollect that these two trusty Snakes were engaged by Mr.
Hunt to return and take charge of the horses which the party
intended to leave at Fort Henry, when they should embark in

The party now crowded round the Snake, and began to question him
with eagerness. His replies were somewhat vague, and but
partially understood. He told a long story about the horses, from
which it appeared that they had been stolen by various wandering
bands, and scattered in different directions. The cache, too, had
been plundered, and the saddles and other equipments carried off.
His information concerning Mr. Miller and his comrades was not
more satisfactory. They had trapped for some time about the upper
streams, but had fallen into the hands of a marauding party of
Crows, who had robbed them of horses, weapons, and everything.

Further questioning brought forth further intelligence, but all
of a disastrous kind. About ten days previously, he had met with
three other white men, in very miserable plight, having one horse
each, and but one rifle among them. They also had been plundered
and maltreated by the Crows, those universal freebooters. The
Snake endeavored to pronounce the names of these three men, and
as far as his imperfect sounds could be understood, they were
supposed to be three of the party of four hunters, namely,
Carson, St. Michael, Detaye, and Delaunay, who were detached from
Mr. Hunt's party on the 28th of September, to trap beaver on the
head waters of the Columbia.

In the course of conversation, the Indian informed them that the
route by which Mr. Hunt had crossed the Rocky Mountains was very
bad and circuitous, and that he knew one much shorter and easier.
Mr. Stuart urged him to accompany them as guide, promising to
reward him with a pistol with powder and ball, a knife, an awl,
some blue beads, a blanket, and a looking-glass. Such a catalogue
of riches was too tempting to be resisted; besides the poor Snake
languished after the prairies; he was tired, he said, of salmon,
and longed for buffalo meat, and to have a grand buffalo hunt
beyond the mountains. He departed, therefore, with all speed, to
get his arms and equipments for the journey, promising to rejoin
the party the next day. He kept his word, and, as he no longer
said anything to Mr. Stuart on the subject of the pet horse, they
journeyed very harmoniously together; though now and then, the
Snake would regard his quondam steed with a wistful eye.

They had not travelled many miles, when they came to a great bend
in the river. Here the Snake informed them that, by cutting
across the hills they would save many miles of distance. The
route across, however, would be a good day's journey. He advised
them, therefore, to encamp here for the night, and set off early
in the morning. They took his advice, though they had come but
nine miles that day.

On the following morning they rose, bright and early, to ascend
the hills. On mustering their little party, the guide was
missing. They supposed him to be somewhere in the neighborhood,
and proceeded to collect the horses. The vaunted steed of Mr.
Stuart was not to be found. A suspicion flashed upon his mind.
Search for the horse of the Snake! He likewise was gone -- the
tracks of two horses, one after the other, were found, making off
from the camp. They appeared as if one horse had been mounted,
and the other led. They were traced for a few miles above the
camp, until they both crossed the river. It was plain the Snake
had taken an Indian mode of recovering his horse, having quietly
decamped with him in the night.

New vows were made never more to trust in Snakes, or any other
Indians. It was determined, also, to maintain, hereafter, the
strictest vigilance over their horses, dividing the night into
three watches, and one person mounting guard at a time. They
resolved, also, to keep along the river, instead of taking the
short cut recommended by the fugitive Snake, whom they now set
down for a thorough deceiver. The heat of the weather was
oppressive, and their horses were, at times, rendered almost
frantic by the stings of the prairie flies. The nights were
suffocating, and it was almost impossible to sleep, from the
swarms of mosquitoes.

On the 20th of August they resumed their march, keeping along the
prairie parallel to Snake River. The day was sultry, and some of
the party, being parched with thirst, left the line of march, and
scrambled down the bank of the river to drink. The bank was
overhung with willows, beneath which, to their surprise, they
beheld a man fishing. No sooner did he see them, than he uttered
an exclamation of joy. It proved to be John Hoback, one of their
lost comrades. They had scarcely exchanged greetings, when three
other men came out from among the willows. They were Joseph
Miller, Jacob Rezner, and Robinson, the scalped Kentuckian, the
veteran of the Bloody Ground.

The reader will perhaps recollect the abrupt and willful manner
in which Mr. Miller threw up his interest as a partner of the
company, and departed from Fort Henry, in company with these
three trappers, and a fourth, named Cass. He may likewise
recognize in Robinson, Rezner, and Hoback, the trio of Kentucky
hunters who had originally been in the service of Mr. Henry, and
whom Mr. Hunt found floating down the Missouri, on their way
homeward; and prevailed upon, once more, to cross the mountains.
The haggard looks and naked condition of these men proved how
much they had suffered. After leaving Mr. Hunt's party, they had
made their way about two hundred miles to the southward, where
they trapped beaver on a river which, according to their account,
discharged itself into the ocean to the south of the Columbia,
but which we apprehend to be Bear River, a stream emptying itself
into Lake Bonneville, an immense body of salt water, west of the
Rocky Mountains.

Having collected a considerable quantity of beaver skins, they
made them into packs, loaded their horses, and steered two
hundred miles due east. Here they came upon an encampment of
sixty lodges of Arapahays, an outlawed band of the Arrapahoes,
and notorious robbers. These fell upon the poor trappers; robbed
them of their peltries, most of their clothing, and several of
their horses. They were glad to escape with their lives, and
without being entirely stripped, and after proceeding about fifty
miles further, made their halt for the winter.

Early in the spring they resumed their wayfaring, but were
unluckily overtaken by the same ruffian horde, who levied still
further contributions, and carried off the remainder of their
horses, excepting two. With these they continued on, suffering
the greatest hardships. They still retained rifles and
ammunition, but were in a desert country, where neither bird nor
beast was to be found. Their only chance was to keep along the
rivers, and subsist by fishing; but at times no fish were to be
taken, and then their sufferings were horrible. One of their
horses was stolen among the mountains by the Snake Indians; the
other, they said, was carried off by Cass, who, according to
their account, "villainously left them in their extremities."
Certain dark doubts and surmises were afterwards circulated
concerning the fate of that poor fellow, which, if true, showed
to what a desperate state of famine his comrades had been

Being now completely unhorsed, Mr. Miller and his three
companions wandered on foot for several hundred miles, enduring
hunger, thirst, and fatigue, while traversing the barren wastes
which abound beyond the Rocky Mountains. At the time they were
discovered by Mr. Stuart's party, they were almost famished, and
were fishing for a precarious meal. Had Mr. Stuart made the short
cut across the hills, avoiding this bend of the river, or had not
some of his party accidentally gone down to the margin of the
stream to drink, these poor wanderers might have remained
undiscovered, and have perished in the wilderness. Nothing could
exceed their joy on thus meeting with their old comrades, or the
heartiness with which they were welcomed. All hands immediately
encamped; and the slender stores of the party were ransacked to
furnish out a suitable regale.

The next morning they all set out together; Mr. Miller and his
comrades being resolved to give up the life of a trapper, and
accompany Mr. Stuart back to St. Louis.

For several days they kept along the course of Snake River,
occasionally making short cuts across hills and promontories,
where there were bends in the stream. In their way they passed
several camps of Shoshonies, from some of whom they procured
salmon, but in general they were too wretchedly poor to furnish
anything. It was the wish of Mr. Stuart to purchase horses for
the recent recruits of his party; but the Indians could not be
prevailed upon to part with any, alleging that they had not
enough for their own use.

On the 25th of August they reached a great fishing place, to
which they gave the name of the Salmon Falls. Here there is a
perpendicular fall of twenty feet on the north side of the river,
while on the south side there is a succession of rapids. The
salmon are taken here in incredible quantities, as they attempt
to shoot the falls. It was now a favorable season, and there were
about one hundred lodges of Shoshonies busily engaged killing and
drying fish. The salmon begin to leap shortly after sunrise. At
this time the Indians swim to the centre of the falls, where some
station themselves on rocks, and others stand to their waists in
the water, all armed with spears, with which they assail the
salmon as they attempt to leap, or fall back exhausted. It is an
incessant slaughter, so great is the throng of the fish.

The construction of the spears thus used is peculiar. The head is
a straight piece of elk horn, about seven inches long, on the
point of which an artificial barb is made fast, with twine well
gummed. The head is stuck on the end of the shaft, a very long
pole of willow, to which it is likewise connected by a strong
cord, a few inches in length. When the spearsman makes a sure
blow, he often strikes the head of the spear through the body of
the fish. It comes off easily, and leaves the salmon struggling
with the string through its body, while the pole is still held by
the spearsman. Were it not for the precaution of the string, the
willow shaft would be snapped by the struggles and the weight of
the fish. Mr. Miller, in the course of his wanderings, had been
at these falls, and had seen several thousand salmon taken in the
course of one afternoon. He declared that he had seen a salmon
leap a distance of about thirty feet, from the commencement of
the foam at the foot of the falls, completely to the top.

Having purchased a good supply of salmon from the fishermen, the
party resumed their journey, and on the twenty-ninth, arrived at
the Caldron Linn, the eventful scene of the preceding autumn.
Here, the first thing that met their eyes was a memento of the
perplexities of that period; the wreck of a canoe lodged between
two ledges of rocks. They endeavored to get down to it, but the
river banks were too high and precipitous.

They now proceeded to that part of the neighborhood where Mr.
Hunt and his party had made the caches, intending to take from
them such articles as belonged to Mr. Crooks, M'Lellan, and the
Canadians. On reaching the spot, they found, to their
astonishment, six of the caches open and rifled of their
contents, excepting a few books which lay scattered about the
vicinity. They had the appearance of having been plundered in the
course of the summer. There were tracks of wolves in every
direction, to and from the holes, from which Mr. Stuart concluded
that these animals had first been attracted to the place by the
smell of the skins contained in the caches, which they had
probably torn up, and that their tracks had betrayed the secret
to the Indians.

The three remaining caches had not been molested; they contained
a few dry goods, some ammunition, and a number of beaver traps.
From these Mr. Stuart took whatever was requisite for his party;
he then deposited within them all his superfluous baggage, and
all the books and papers scattered around; the holes were then
carefully closed up, and all traces of them effaced. And here we
have to record another instance of the indomitable spirit of the
western trappers. No sooner did the trio of Kentucky hunters,
Robinson, Rezner, and Hoback, find that they could once more be
fitted out for a campaign of beaver-trapping, than they forgot
all that they had suffered, and determined upon another trial of
their fortunes; preferring to take their chance in the
wilderness, rather than return home ragged and penniless. As to
Mr. Miller, he declared his curiosity and his desire of
travelling through the Indian countries fully satisfied; he
adhered to his determination, therefore, to keep on with the
party to St. Louis, and to return to the bosom of civilized

The three hunters, therefore, Robinson, Rezner, and Hoback, were
furnished, as far as the caches and the means of Mr. Stuart's
party afforded, with the requisite munitions and equipments for a
"two years' hunt;" but as their fitting out was yet incomplete,
they resolved to wait in this neighborhood until Mr. Reed should
arrive; whose arrival might soon be expected, as he was to set
out for the caches about twenty days after Mr. Stuart parted with
him at the Wallah-Wallah River.

Mr. Stuart gave in charge to Robinson a letter to Mr. Reed,
reporting his safe journey thus far, and the state in which he
had found the caches. A duplicate of this letter he elevated on a
pole, and set it up near the place of deposit.

All things being thus arranged, Mr. Stuart and his little band,
now seven in number, took leave of the three hardy trappers,
wishing them all possible success in their lonely and perilous
sojourn in the wilderness; and we, in like manner, shall leave
them to their fortunes, promising to take them up again at some
future page, and to close the story of their persevering and ill-
fated enterprise.

                          CHAPTER XLV.
The Snake River Deserts.- Scanty Fare.- Bewildered Travellers -
Prowling Indians- A Giant Crow Chief.- A Bully Rebuked- Indian
  Signals.- Smoke on the Mountains.- Mad River.- An Alarm.- An
Indian Foray- A Scamper.- A Rude Indian joke.- A Sharp-Shooter
                      Balked of His Shot.

0N the 1st of September, Mr. Stuart and his companions resumed
their journey, bending their course eastward, along the course of
Snake River. As they advanced the country opened. The hills which
had hemmed in the river receded on either hand, and great sandy
and dusty plains extended before them. Occasionally there were
intervals of pasturage, and the banks of the river were fringed
with willows and cottonwood, so that its course might be traced
from the hilltops, winding under an umbrageous covert, through a
wide sunburnt landscape. The soil, however, was generally poor;
there was in some places a miserable growth of wormwood, and a
plant called saltweed, resembling pennyroyal; but the summer had
parched the plains, and left but little pasturage. The game, too,
had disappeared. The hunter looked in vain over the lifeless
landscape; now and then a few antelope might be seen, but not
within reach of the rifle. We forbear to follow the travellers in
a week's wandering over these barren wastes, where they suffered
much from hunger, having to depend upon a few fish from the
streams, and now and then a little dried salmon, or a dog,
procured from some forlorn lodge of Shoshonies.

Tired of these cheerless wastes, they left the banks of Snake
River on the 7th of September, under guidance of Mr. Miller, who
having acquired some knowledge of the country during his trapping
campaign, undertook to conduct them across the mountains by a
better route than that by Fort Henry, and one more out of the
range of the Blackfeet. He proved, however, but an indifferent
guide, and they soon became bewildered among rugged hills and
unknown streams, and burnt and barren prairies.

At length they came to a river on which Mr. Miller had trapped,
and to which they gave his name; though, as before observed, we
presume it to be the same called Bear River, which empties itself
into Lake Bonneville. Up this river and its branches they kept
for two or three days, supporting themselves precariously upon
fish. They soon found that they were in a dangerous neighborhood.
On the 12th of September, having encamped early, they sallied
forth with their rods to angle for their supper. On returning,
they beheld a number of Indians prowling about their camp, whom,
to their infinite disquiet, they soon perceived to be Upsarokas,
or Crows. Their chief came forward with a confident air. He was a
dark herculean fellow, full six feet four inches in height, with
a mingled air of the ruffian and the rogue. He conducted himself
peaceably, however, and despatched some of his people to their
camp, which was somewhere in the neighborhood, from whence they
returned with a most acceptable supply of buffalo meat. He now
signified to Mr. Stuart that he was going to trade with the
Snakes who reside on the west base of the mountains, below
Henry's Fort. Here they cultivate a delicate kind of tobacco,
much esteemed and sought after by the mountain tribes. There was
something sinister, however, in the look of this Indian, that
inspired distrust. By degrees, the number of his people
increased, until, by midnight, there were twenty-one of them
about the camp, who began to be impudent and troublesome. The
greatest uneasiness was now felt for the safety of the horses and
effects, and every one kept vigilant watch throughout the night.

The morning dawned, however, without any unpleasant occurrence,
and Mr. Stuart, having purchased all the buffalo meat that the
Crows had to spare, prepared to depart. His Indian acquaintances,
however, were disposed for further dealings; and above all,
anxious for a supply of gunpowder, for which they offered horses
in exchange. Mr. Stuart declined to furnish them with the
dangerous commodity. They became more importunate in their
solicitations, until they met with a flat refusal.

The gigantic chief now stepped forward, assumed a swelling air,
and, slapping himself upon the breast, gave Mr. Crooks to
understand that he was a chief of great power and importance. He
signified, further, that it was customary for great chiefs when
they met, to make each other presents. He requested, therefore,
that Mr. Stuart would alight, and give him the horse upon which
he was mounted. This was a noble animal, of one of the wild races
of the prairies; on which Mr. Stuart set great value; he, of
course, shook his head at the request of the Crow dignitary. Upon
this the latter strode up to him, and taking hold of him, moved
him backwards and forwards in his saddle, as if to make him feel
that he was a mere child within his grasp. Mr. Stuart preserved
his calmness, and still shook his head. The chief then seized the
bridle, and gave it a jerk that startled the horse, and nearly
brought the rider to the ground. Mr. Stuart instantly drew forth
a pistol, and presented it at the head of the bully-ruffian. In a
twinkling his swaggering was at an end, and he dodged behind his
horse to escape the expected shot. As his subject Crows gazed on
the affray from a little distance, Mr. Stuart ordered his men to
level their rifles at them, but not to fire. The whole crew
scampered among the bushes, and throwing themselves upon the
ground, vanished from sight.

The chieftain thus left alone was confounded for an instant; but,
recovering himself with true Indian shrewdness, burst into a loud
laugh, and affected to turn off the whole matter as a piece of
pleasantry. Mr. Stuart by no means relished such equivocal
joking, but it was not his policy to get into a quarrel; so he
joined with the best grace he could assume in the merriment of
the jocular giant; and, to console the latter for the refusal of
the horse, made him a present of twenty charges of powder. They
parted, according to all outward professions, the best friends in
the world; it was evident, however, that nothing but the
smallness of his own force, and the martial array and alertness
of the white men, had prevented the Crow chief from proceeding to
open outrage. As it was, his worthy followers, in the course of
their brief interview, had contrived to purloin a bag containing
almost all the culinary utensils of the party.

The travellers kept on their way due east, over a chain of hills.
The recent rencontre showed them that they were now in a land of
danger, subject to the wide roamings of a predacious tribe; nor,
in fact, had they gone many miles before they beheld sights
calculated to inspire anxiety and alarm. From the summits of some
of the loftiest mountains, in different directions, columns of
smoke be-an to rise. These they concluded to be signals made by
the runners of the Crow chieftain, to summon the stragglers of
his band, so as to pursue them with greater force. Signals of
this kind, made by outrunners from one central point, will rouse
a wide circuit of the mountains in a wonderfully short space of
time; and bring the straggling hunters and warriors to the
standard of their chieftain.

To keep as much as possible out of the way of these freebooters,
Mr. Stuart altered his course to the north, and, quitting the
main stream of Miller's River, kept up a large branch that came
in from the mountains. Here they encamped, after a fatiguing
march of twenty-five miles. As the night drew on, the horses were
hobbled or fettered, and tethered close to the camp; a vigilant
watch was maintained until morning, and every one slept with his
rifle on his arm.

At sunrise, they were again on the march, still keeping to the
north. They soon began to ascend the mountains, and occasionally
had wide prospects over the surrounding country. Not a sign of a
Crow was to be seen; but this did not assure them of their
security, well knowing the perseverance of these savages in
dogging any party they intend to rob, and the stealthy way in
which they can conceal their movements, keeping along ravines and
defiles. After a mountain scramble of twenty-one miles, they
encamped on the margin of a stream running to the north.

In the evening there was an alarm of Indians, and everyone was
instantly on the alert. They proved to be three miserable Snakes,
who were no sooner informed that a band of Crows was prowling in
the neighborhood than they made off with great signs of

A couple more of weary days and watchful nights brought them to a
strong and rapid stream, running due north, which they concluded
to be one of the upper branches of Snake River. It was probably
the same since called Salt River.

They determined to bend their course down this river, as it would
take them still further out of the dangerous neighborhood of the
Crows. They then would strike upon Mr. Hunt's track of the
preceding autumn, and retrace it across the mountains. The
attempt to find a better route under guidance of Mr. Miller had
cost them a large bend to the south; in resuming Mr. Hunt's
track, they would at least be sure of their road. They
accordingly turned down along the course of this stream, and at
the end of three days' journey came to where it was joined by a
larger river, and assumed a more impetuous character, raging and
roaring among rocks and precipices. It proved, in fact, to be Mad
River, already noted in the expedition of Mr. Hunt. On the banks
of this river, they encamped on the 18th of September, at an
early hour.

Six days had now elapsed since their interview with the Crows;
during that time they had come nearly a hundred and fifty miles
to the north and west, without seeing any signs of those
marauders. They considered themselves, therefore, beyond the
reach of molestation, and began to relax in their vigilance,
lingering occasionally for part of a day, where there was good
pasturage. The poor horses needed repose.

They had been urged on, by forced marches, over rugged heights,
among rocks and fallen timber, or over low swampy valleys,
inundated by the labors of the beaver. These industrious animals
abounded in all the mountain streams and watercourses, wherever
there were willows for their subsistence. Many of them they had
so completely dammed up as to inundate the low grounds, making
shallow pools or lakes, and extensive quagmires; by which the
route of the travellers was often impeded.

On the 19th of September, they rose at early dawn; some began to
prepare breakfast, and others to arrange the packs preparatory to
a march. The horses had been hobbled, but left at large to graze
upon the adjacent pasture. Mr. Stuart was on the bank of a river,
at a short distance from the camp, when he heard the alarm cry -
"Indians! Indians! -to arms! to arms!"

A mounted Crow galloped past the camp, bearing a red flag. He
reined his steed on the summit of a neighboring knoll, and waved
his flaring banner. A diabolical yell now broke forth on the
opposite side of the camp, beyond where the horses were grazing,
and a small troop of savages came galloping up, whooping and
making a terrific clamor. The horses took fright, and dashed
across the camp in the direction of the standard-bearer,
attracted by his waving flag. He instantly put spurs to his
steed, and scoured off followed by the panic-stricken herd, their
fright being increased by the yells of the savages in their rear.

At the first alarm, Mr. Stuart and his comrades had seized their
rifles, and attempted to cut off the Indians who were pursuing
the horses. Their attention was instantly distracted by whoops
and yells in an opposite direction.

They now apprehended that a reserve party was about to carry off
their baggage. They ran to secure it. The reserve party, however,
galloped by, whooping and yelling in triumph and derision. The
last of them proved to be their commander, the identical giant
joker already mentioned. He was not cast in the stern poetical
mold of fashionable Indian heroism, but on the contrary, was
grievously given to vulgar jocularity. As he passed Mr. Stuart
and his companions, he checked his horse, raised himself in his
saddle, and clapping his hand on the most insulting part of his
body, uttered some jeering words, which, fortunately for their
delicacy, they could not understand. The rifle of Ben Jones was
leveled in an instant, and he was on the point of whizzing a
bullet into the target so tauntingly displayed. "Not for your
life! not for your life!" exclaimed Mr. Stuart, "you will bring
destruction on us all!"

It was hard to restrain honest Ben, when the mark was so fair and
the insult so foul. "0, Mr. Stuart," exclaimed he, "only let me
have one crack at the infernal rascal, and you may keep all the
pay that is due to me."

"By heaven, if you fire," cried Mr. Stuart, "I'll blow your
brains out."

By this time the Indian was far out of reach, and had rejoined
his men, and the whole dare-devil band, with the captured horses,
scuttled off along the defiles, their red flag flaunting
overhead, and the rocks echoing to their whoops and yells, and
demoniac laughter.

The unhorsed travellers gazed after them in silent mortification
and despair; yet Mr. Stuart could not but admire the style and
spirit with which the whole exploit had been managed, and
pronounced it one of the most daring and intrepid actions he had
ever heard of among Indians. The whole number of the Crows did
not exceed twenty. In this way a small gang of lurkers will hurry
off the cavalry of a large war party, for when once a drove of
horses are seized with panic, they become frantic, and nothing
short of broken necks can stop them.

No one was more annoyed by this unfortunate occurrence than Ben
Jones. He declared he would actually have given his whole arrears
of pay, amounting to upwards of a year's wages, rather than be
balked of such a capital shot. Mr. Stuart, however, represented
what might have been the consequence of so rash an act. Life for
life is the Indian maxim. The whole tribe would have made common
cause in avenging the death of a warrior. The party were but
seven dismounted men, with a wide mountain region to traverse,
infested by these people, and which might all be roused by signal
fires. In fact, the conduct of the band of marauders in question,
showed the perseverance of savages when once they have fixed
their minds upon a project. These fellows had evidently been
silent and secretly dogging the party for a week past, and a
distance of a hundred and fifty miles, keeping out of sight by
day, lurking about the encampment at night, watching all their
movements, and waiting for a favorable moment when they should be
off their guard. The menace of Mr. Stuart, in their first
interview, to shoot the giant chief with his pistol, and the
fright caused among the warriors by presenting the rifles, had
probably added the stimulus of pique to their usual horse-
stealing propensities. And in this mood of mind they would
doubtless have followed the party throughout their whole course
over the Rocky Mountains, rather than be disappointed in their

                         CHAPTER XLVI.
  Travellers Unhorsed- Pedestrian Preparations- Prying Spies.-
  Bonfires of Baggage- A March on Foot.- Rafting a River - The
Wounded Elk.- Indian Trails.- Willful Conduct of Mr. M'Lellan.-
Grand Prospect From a Mountain.- Distant Craters of Volcanoes-
                     Illness of Mr. Crooks.

FEW reverses in this changeful world are more complete and
disheartening than that of a traveller, suddenly unhorsed, in the
midst of the wilderness. Our unfortunate travellers contemplated
their situation, for a time, in perfect dismay. A long journey
over rugged mountains and immeasurable plains lay before them,
which they must painfully perform on foot, and everything
necessary for subsistence or defense must be carried on their
shoulders. Their dismay, however, was but transient, and they
immediately set to work, with that prompt expediency produced by
the exigencies of the wilderness, to fit themselves for the
change in their condition.

Their first attention was to select from their baggage such
articles as were indispensable to their journey; to make them up
into convenient packs, and to deposit the residue in caches. The
whole day was consumed in these occupations; at night, they made
a scanty meal of their remaining provisions, and lay down to
sleep with heavy hearts. In the morning, they were up and about
at an early hour, and began to prepare their knapsacks for a
march, while Ben Jones repaired to an old beaver trap which he
had set in the river bank at some little distance from the camp.
He was rejoiced to find a middle-sized beaver there, sufficient
for a morning's meal to his hungry comrades. On his way back with
his prize, he observed two heads peering over the edge of an
impending cliff, several hundred feet high, which he supposed to
be a couple of wolves. As he continued on, he now and then cast
his eye up; heads were still there, looking down with fixed and
watchful gaze. A suspicion now flashed across his mind that they
might be Indian scouts; and, had they not been far above the
reach of his rifle, he would undoubtedly have regaled them with a

On arriving at the camp, he directed the attention of his
comrades to these aerial observers. The same idea was at first
entertained, that they were wolves; but their immovable
watchfulness soon satisfied every one that they were Indians. It
was concluded that they were watching the movements of the party,
to discover their place of concealment of such articles as they
would be compelled to leave behind. There was no likelihood that
the caches would escape the search of such keen eyes and
experienced rummagers, and the idea was intolerable that any more
booty should fall into their hands. To disappoint them,
therefore, the travellers stripped the caches of the articles
deposited there, and collecting together everything that they
could not carry away with them, made a bonfire of all that would
burn, and threw the rest into the river. There was a forlorn
satisfaction in thus balking the Crows, by the destruction of
their own property; and, having thus gratified their pique, they
shouldered their packs, about ten o'clock in the morning, and set
out on their pedestrian wayfaring.

The route they took was down along the banks of Mad River. This
stream makes its way through the defiles of the mountains, into
the plain below Fort Henry, where it terminates in Snake River.
Mr. Stuart was in hopes of meeting with Snake encampments in the
plain, where he might procure a couple of horses to transport the
baggage. In such case, he intended to resume his eastern course
across the mountains, and endeavor to reach the Cheyenne River
before winter. Should he fail, however, of obtaining horses, he
would probably be compelled to winter on the Pacific side of the
mountains, somewhere on the head waters of the Spanish or
Colorado River.

With all the care that had been observed in taking nothing with
them that was not absolutely necessary, the poor pedestrians were
heavily laden, and their burdens added to the fatigues of their
rugged road. They suffered much, too, from hunger. The trout they
caught were too poor to yield much nourishment; their main
dependence, therefore, was upon an old beaver trap, which they
had providentially retained. Whenever they were fortunate enough
to entrap a beaver, it was cut up immediately and distributed,
that each man might carry his share.

After two days of toilsome travel, during which they made but
eighteen miles, they stopped on the 21st, to build two rafts on
which to cross to the north side of the river. On these they
embarked on the following morning, four on one raft, and three on
the other , and pushed boldly from shore. Finding the rafts
sufficiently firm and steady to withstand the rough and rapid
water, they changed their minds, and instead of crossing,
ventured to float down with the current. The river was, in
general, very rapid, and from one to two hundred yards in width,
winding in every direction through mountains of hard black rock,
covered with pines and cedars. The mountains to the east of the
river were spurs of the Rocky range, and of great magnitude;
those on the west were little better than hills, bleak and
barren, or scantily clothed with stunted grass.

Mad River, though deserving its name from the impetuosity of its
current, was free from rapids and cascades, and flowed on in a
single channel between gravel banks, often fringed with cotton-
wood and dwarf willows in abundance. These gave sustenance to
immense quantities of beaver, so that the voyagers found no
difficulty in procuring food. Ben Jones, also, killed a fallow
deer and a wolverine, and as they were enabled to carry the
carcasses on their rafts, their larder was well supplied. Indeed,
they might have occasionally shot beavers that were swimming in
the river as they floated by, but they humanely spared their
lives, being in no want of meat at the time. In this way, they
kept down the river for three days, drifting with the current and
encamping on land at night, when they drew up their rafts on
shore. Towards the evening of the third day, they came to a
little island on which they descried a gang of elk. Ben Jones
landed, and was fortunate enough to wound one, which immediately
took to the water, but, being unable to stem the current, drifted
above a mile, when it was overtaken and drawn to shore. As a
storm was gathering, they now encamped on the margin of the
river, where they remained all the next day, sheltering
themselves as well as they could from the rain and snow - a sharp
foretaste of the impending winter. During their encampment, they
employed themselves in jerking a part of the elk for future
supply. In cutting up the carcass, they found that the animal had
been wounded by hunters, about a week previously, an arrow head
and a musket ball remaining in the wounds. In the wilderness,
every trivial circumstance is a matter of anxious speculation.
The Snake Indians have no guns; the elk, therefore, could not
have been wounded by one of them. They were on the borders of the
country infested by the Blackfeet, who carry fire-arms. It was
concluded, therefore, that the elk had been hunted by some of
that wandering and hostile tribe, who, of course, must be in the
neighborhood. The idea put an end to the transient solace they
had enjoyed in the comparative repose and abundance of the river.

For three days longer they continued to navigate with their
rafts. The recent storm had rendered the weather extremely cold.
They had now floated down the river about ninety-one miles, when
finding the mountains on the right diminished to moderate sized
hills, they landed, and prepared to resume their journey on foot.
Accordingly, having spent a day in preparations, making
moccasins, and parceling out their jerked meat in packs of twenty
pounds to each man, they turned their backs upon the river on the
29th of September and struck off to the northeast, keeping along
the southern skirt of the mountain on which Henry's Fort was

Their march was slow and toilsome; part of the time through an
alluvial bottom, thickly grown with cotton-wood, hawthorn, and
willows, and part of the time over rough hills. Three antelopes
came within shot, but they dared not fire at them, lest the
report of their rifles should betray them to the Blackfeet. In
the course of the day, they came upon a large horse-track,
apparently about three weeks old, and in the evening encamped on
the banks of a small stream, on a spot which had been the camping
place of this same band.

On the following morning they still observed the Indian track,
but after a time they came to where it separated in every
direction, and was lost. This showed that the band had dispersed
in various hunting parties, and was, in all probability, still in
the neighborhood; it was necessary, therefore, to proceed with
the utmost caution. They kept a vigilant eye as they marched,
upon every height where a scout might be posted, and scanned the
solitary landscapes and the distant ravines, to observe any
column of smoke; but nothing of the kind was to be seen; all was
indescribably stern and lifeless.

Towards evening they came to where there were several hot
springs, strongly impregnated with iron and sulphur, and sending
up a volume of vapor that tainted the surrounding atmosphere, and
might be seen at the distance of a couple of miles.

Near to these they encamped in a deep gully, which afforded some
concealment. To their great concern, Mr. Crooks, who had been
indisposed for the two preceding days, had a violent fever in the

Shortly after daybreak they resumed their march. On emerging from
the glen, a consultation was held as to their course. Should they
continue round the skirt of the mountain, they would be in danger
of falling in with the scattered parties of Blackfeet, who were
probably hunting in the plain. It was thought most advisable,
therefore, to strike directly across the mountain, since the
route, though rugged and difficult, would be most secure. This
counsel was indignantly derided by M'Lellan as pusillanimous.
Hot-headed and impatient at all times, he had been rendered
irascible by the fatigues of the journey, and the condition of
his feet, which were chafed and sore. He could not endure the
idea of encountering the difficulties of the mountain, and swore
he would rather face all the Blackfeet in the country. He was
overruled, however, and the party began to ascend the mountain,
striving, with the ardor and emulation of young men, who should
be first up. M'Lellan, who was double the age of some of his
companions, soon began to lose breath, and fall in the rear. In
the distribution of burdens, it was his turn to carry the old
beaver trap. Piqued and irritated, he suddenly came to a halt,
swore he would carry it no further, and jerked it half-way down
the hill. He was offered in place of it a package of dried meat,
but this he scornfully threw upon the ground. They might carry
it, he said, who needed it; for his part, he could provide his
daily bread with his rifle. He concluded by flinging off from the
party, and keeping along the skirts of the mountain, leaving
those, he said, to climb rocks, who were afraid to face Indians.
It was in vain that Mr. Stuart represented to him the rashness of
his conduct, and the dangers to which he exposed himself: he
rejected such counsel as craven. It was equally useless to
represent the dangers to which he subjected his companions; as he
could be discovered at a great distance on those naked plains,
and the Indians, seeing him, would know that there must be other
white men within reach. M'Lellan turned a deaf ear to every
remonstrance, and kept on his wilful way.

It seemed a strange instance of perverseness in this man thus to
fling himself off alone, in a savage region, where solitude
itself was dismal, and every encounter with his fellow-man full
of peril. Such, however, is the hardness of spirit, and the
insensibility to danger that grow upon men in the wilderness.
M'Lellan, moreover, was a man of peculiar temperament,
ungovernable in his will, of a courage that absolutely knew no
fear, and somewhat of a braggart spirit, that took a pride in
doing desperate and hair-brained things.

Mr. Stuart and his party found the passages of the mountain
somewhat difficult, on account of the snow, which in many places
was of considerable depth, though it was but the 1 st of October.
They crossed the summit early in the afternoon, and beheld below
them, a plain about twenty miles wide, bounded on the opposite
side by their old acquaintances, the Pilot Knobs, those towering
mountains which had served Mr. Hunt as landmarks in part of his
route of the preceding year. Through the intermediate plain
wandered a river about fifty yards wide, sometimes gleaming in
open day, but oftener running through willowed banks, which
marked its serpentine course.

Those of the party who had been across these mountains, pointed
out much of the bearings of the country to Mr. Stuart. They
showed him in what direction must lie the deserted post called
Henry's Fort, where they had abandoned their horses and embarked
in canoes, and they informed him that the stream which wandered
through the plain below them, fell into Henry River, half way
between the fort and the mouth of Mad or Snake River. The
character of all this mountain region was decidedly volcanic; and
to the northwest, between Henry's Fort and the source of the
Missouri, Mr. Stuart observed several very high peaks covered
with snow, from two of which smoke ascended in considerable
volumes, apparently from craters in a state of eruption.

On their way down the mountain, when they had reached the skirts,
they descried M'Lellan at a distance, in the advance, traversing
the plain. Whether he saw them or not, he showed no disposition
to rejoin them, but pursued his sullen and solitary way.

After descending into the plain, they kept on about six miles,
until they reached the little river, which was here about knee
deep, and richly fringed with willow. Here they encamped for the
night. At this encampment the fever of Mr. Crooks increased to
such a degree that it was impossible for him to travel. Some of
the men were strenuous for Mr. Stuart to proceed without him,
urging the imminent danger they were exposed to by delay in that
unknown and barren region, infested by the most treacherous and
inveterate foes. They represented that the season was rapidly
advancing; the weather for some days had been extremely cold; the
mountains were already almost impassable from snow, and would
soon present effectual barriers. Their provisions were exhausted;
there was no game to be seen, and they did not dare to use their
rifles, through fear of drawing upon them the Blackfeet.

The picture thus presented was too true to be contradicted, and
made a deep impression on the mind of Mr. Stuart; but the idea of
abandoning a fellow being, and a comrade, in such a forlorn
situation, was too repugnant to his feelings to be admitted for
an instant. He represented to the men that the malady of Mr.
Crooks could not be of long duration, and that, in all
probability, he would be able to travel in the course of a few
days. It was with great difficulty, however, that he prevailed
upon them to abide the event.

                         CHAPTER XLVII.
Ben Jones and a Grizzly Bear.- Rocky Heights- Mountain Torrents.
-Traces of M'Lellan.- Volcanic Remains- Mineral Earths.- Peculiar
  Clay for Pottery.- Dismal Plight of M'Lellan.- Starvation.-
Shocking Proposition of a Desperate Man.- A Broken-Down Bull.- A
   Ravenous Meal.-Indian Graves- Hospitable Snakes.-A Forlorn

AS the travellers were now in a dangerous neighborhood, where the
report of a rifle might bring the savages upon them, they had to
depend upon their old beaver-trap for subsistence. The little
river on which they were encamped gave many "beaver signs," and
Ben Jones set off at daybreak, along the willowed banks, to find
a proper trapping-place. As he was making his way among the
thickets, with his trap on his shoulder and his rifle in his
hand, he heard a crushing sound, and turning, beheld a huge
grizzly bear advancing upon him, with terrific growl. The sturdy
Kentuckian was not to be intimidated by man or monster. Leveling
his rifle, he pulled the trigger. The bear was wounded, but not
mortally: instead, however, of rushing upon his assailant, as is
generally the case with this kind of bear, he retreated into the
bushes. Jones followed him for some distance, but with suitable
caution, and Bruin effected his escape.

As there was every prospect of a detention of some days in this
place, and as the supplies of the beaver-trap were too precarious
to be depended upon, it became absolutely necessary to run some
risk of discovery by hunting in the neighborhood. Ben Jones,
therefore, obtained permission to range with his rifle some
distance from the camp, and set off to beat up the river banks,
in defiance of bear or Blackfeet.

He returned in great spirits in the course of a few hours, having
come upon a gang of elk about six. miles off, and killed five.
This was joyful news, and the party immediately moved forward to
the place where he had left the carcasses. They were obliged to
support Mr. Crooks the whole distance, for he was unable to walk.
Here they remained for two or three days, feasting heartily on
elk meat, and drying as much as they would be able to carry away
with them.

By the 5th of October, some simple prescriptions, together with
an "Indian sweat," had so far benefited Mr. Crooks, that he was
enabled to move about; they therefore set forward slowly,
dividing his pack and accoutrements among them, and made a
creeping day's progress of eight miles south. Their route for the
most part lay through swamps caused by the industrious labors of
the beaver; for this little animal had dammed up numerous small
streams, issuing from the Pilot Knob Mountains, so that the low
grounds on their borders were completely inundated. In the course
of their march they killed a grizzly bear, with fat on its flanks
upwards of three inches in thickness. This was an acceptable
addition to their stock of elk meat. The next day Mr. Crooks was
sufficiently recruited in strength to be able to carry his rifle
and pistols, and they made a march of seventeen miles along the
borders of the plain.

Their journey daily became more toilsome, and their sufferings
more severe, as they advanced. Keeping up the channel of a river,
they traversed the rugged summit of the Pilot Knob Mountain,
covered with snow nine inches deep. For several days they
continued, bending their course as much as possible to the east,
over a succession of rocky heights, deep valleys, and rapid
streams. Sometimes their dizzy path lay along the margin of
perpendicular precipices, several hundred feet in height, where a
single false step might precipitate them into the rocky bed of a
torrent which roared below. Not the least part of their weary
task was the fording of the numerous windings and branchings of
the mountain rivers, all boisterous in their currents, and icy

Hunger was added to their other sufferings, and soon became the
keenest. The small supply of bear and elk meat which they had
been able to carry, in addition to their previous burdens, served
but for a short time. In their anxiety to struggle forward, they
had but little time to hunt, and scarce any game in their path.
For three days they had nothing to eat but a small duck, and a
few poor trout. They occasionally saw numbers of the antelopes,
and tried every art to get within shot; but the timid animals
were more than commonly wild, and after tantalizing the hungry
hunters for a time, bounded away beyond all chance of pursuit. At
length they were fortunate enough to kill one: it was extremely
meagre, and yielded but a scanty supply; but on this they
subsisted for several days.

On the 11th, they encamped on a small stream, near the foot of
the Spanish River Mountain. Here they met with traces of that
wayward and solitary being, M'Lellan, who was still keeping on
ahead of them through these lonely mountains. He had encamped the
night before on this stream; they found the embers of the fire by
which he had slept, and the remains of a miserable wolf on which
he had supped. It was evident he had suffered, like themselves,
the pangs of hunger, though he had fared better at this
encampment; for they had not a mouthful to eat.

The next day, they rose hungry and alert, and set out with the
dawn to climb the mountain, which was steep and difficult. Traces
of volcanic eruptions were to be seen in various directions.
There was a species of clay also to be met with, out of which the
Indians manufactured pots and jars, and dishes. It is very fine
and light, of an agreeable smell, and of a brown color spotted
with yellow, and dissolves readily in the mouth. Vessels
manufactured of it are said to impart a pleasant smell and flavor
to any liquids. These mountains abound also with mineral earths,
or chalks of various colors; especially two kinds of ochre, one a
pale, the other a bright red, like vermilion; much used by the
Indians, in painting their bodies.

About noon, the travellers reached the "drains" and brooks that
formed the head waters of the river, and later in the day,
descended to where the main body, a shallow stream, about a
hundred and sixty yards wide, poured through its mountain valley.

Here the poor famishing wanderers had expected to find buffalo in
abundance, and had fed their hungry hopes during their scrambling
toll, with the thoughts of roasted ribs, juicy humps, and broiled
marrow bones. To their great disappointment, the river banks were
deserted - a few old tracks showed where a herd of bulls had some
time before passed along, but not a horn nor hump was to be seen
in the sterile landscape. A few antelopes looked down upon them
from the brow of a crag, but flitted away out of sight at the
least approach of the hunter.

In the most starving mood they kept for several miles further
along the bank of the river, seeking for "beaver signs." Finding
some, they encamped in the vicinity, and Ben Jones immediately
proceeded to set the trap. They had scarce come to a halt, when
they perceived a large smoke at some distance to the southwest.
The sight was hailed with joy, for they trusted it might rise
from some Indian camp, where they could procure something to eat,
and the dread of starvation had now overcome even the terror of
the Blackfeet. Le Clerc, one of the Canadians, was instantly
despatched by Mr. Stuart, to reconnoitre; and the travellers sat
up till a late hour, watching and listening for his return,
hoping he might bring them food. Midnight arrived, but Le Clerc
did not make his appearance, and they laid down once more
supperless to sleep, comforting themselves with the hopes that
their old beaver trap might furnish them with a breakfast.

At daybreak they hastened with famished eagerness to the trap.
They found in it the forepaw of a beaver, the sight of which
tantalized their hunger, and added to their dejection. They
resumed their journey with flagging spirits, but had not gone far
when they perceived Le Clerc approaching at a distance. They
hastened to meet him, in hopes of tidings of good cheer. He had
none to give them; but news of that strange wanderer, M'Lellan.
The smoke had risen from his encampment which took fire while he
was at a little distance from it fishing. Le Clerc found him in
forlorn condition. His fishing had been unsuccessful. During
twelve days that he had been wandering alone through these savage
mountains, he had found scarce anything to eat. He had been ill,
wayworn, sick at heart, still he had kept forward; but now his
strength and his stubbornness were exhausted. He expressed his
satisfaction at hearing that Mr. Stuart and his party were near,
and said he would wait at his camp for their arrival, in hopes
they would give him something to eat, for without food he
declared he should not be able to proceed much further.

When the party reached the place, they found the poor fellow
lying on a parcel of withered grass, wasted to a perfect
skeleton, and so feeble that he could scarce raise his head or
speak. The presence of his old comrades seemed to revive him, but
they had no food to give him, for they themselves were almost
starving. They urged him to rise and accompany them, but he shook
his head. It was all in vain, he said; there was no prospect of
their getting speedy relief, and without it he should perish by
the way; he might as well, therefore, stay and die where he was.
At length, after much persuasion, they got him upon his legs; his
rifle and other effects were shared among them, and he was
cheered and aided forward. In this way they proceeded for
seventeen miles, over a level plain of sand, until seeing a few
antelopes in the distance, they encamped on the margin of a small
stream. All now that were capable of the exertion, turned out to
hunt for a meal. Their efforts were fruitless, and after dark
they returned to their camp, famished almost to desperation.

As they were preparing for the third time to lay down to sleep
without a mouthful to eat, Le Clerc, one of the Canadians, gaunt
and wild with hunger, approached Mr. Stuart with his gun in his
hand. "It was all in vain," he said, "to attempt to proceed any
further without food. They had a barren plain before them, three
or four days' journey in extent, on which nothing was to be
procured. They must all perish before they could get to the end
of it. It was better, therefore, that one should die to save the
rest." He proposed, therefore, that they should cast lots;
adding, as an inducement for Mr. Stuart to assent to the
proposition, that he, as leader of the party, should be exempted.

Mr. Stuart shuddered at the horrible proposition, and endeavored
to reason with the man, but his words were unavailing. At length,
snatching up his rifle, he threatened to shoot him on the spot if
he persisted. The famished wretch dropped on his knees, begged
pardon in the most abject terms, and promised never again to
offend him with such a suggestion.

Quiet being restored to the forlorn encampment, each one sought
repose. Mr. Stuart, however, was so exhausted by the agitation of
the past scene, acting upon his emaciated frame, that he could
scarce crawl to his miserable couch; where, notwithstanding his
fatigues, he passed a sleepless night, revolving upon their
dreary situation, and the desperate prospect before them.

Before daylight the next morning, they were up and on their way;
they had nothing to detain them; no breakfast to prepare, and to
linger was to perish. They proceeded, however, but slowly, for
all were faint and weak. Here and there they passed the skulls
and bones of buffaloes, which showed that these animals must have
been hunted here during the past season; the sight of these bones
served only to mock their misery. After travelling about nine
miles along the plain, they ascended a range of hills, and had
scarcely gone two miles further, when, to their great joy, they
discovered "an old run-down buffalo bull;" the laggard probably
of some herd that had been hunted and harassed through the
mountains. They now all stretched themselves out to encompass and
make sure of this solitary animal, for their lives depended upon
their success. After considerable trouble and infinite anxiety,
they at length succeeded in killing him. He was instantly flayed
and cut up, and so ravenous was their hunger, that they devoured
some of the flesh raw. The residue they carried to a brook near
by, where they encamped, lit a fire, and began to cook.

Mr. Stuart was fearful that in their famished state they would
eat to excess and injure themselves. He caused a soup to be made
of some of the meat, and that each should take a quantity of it
as a prelude to his supper. This may have had a beneficial
effect, for though they sat up the greater part of the night,
cooking and cramming, no one suffered any inconvenience.

The next morning the feasting was resumed, and about midday,
feeling somewhat recruited and refreshed, they set out on their
journey with renovated spirits, shaping their course towards a
mountain, the summit of which they saw towering in the east, and
near to which they expected to find the head waters of the

As they proceeded, they continued to see the skeletons of
buffaloes scattered about the plain in every direction, which
showed that there had been much hunting here by the Indians in
the recent season. Further on they crossed a large Indian trail
forming a deep path, about fifteen days old, which went in a
north direction. They concluded it to have been made by some
numerous band of Crows, who had hunted in this country for the
greater part of the summer.

On the following day they forded a stream of considerable
magnitude, with banks clothed with pine trees. Among these they
found the traces of a large Indian camp, which had evidently been
the headquarters of a hunting expedition, from the great
quantities of buffalo bones strewed about the neighborhood. The
camp had apparently been abandoned about a month.

In the centre was a singular lodge one hundred and fifty feet in
circumference, supported by the trunks of twenty trees, about
twelve inches in diameter and forty-four feet long. Across these
were laid branches of pine and willow trees, so as to yield a
tolerable shade. At the west end, immediately opposite to the
door, three bodies lay interred with their feet towards the east.
At the head of each was a branch of red cedar firmly planted in
the ground. At the foot was a large buffalo's skull, painted
black. Savage ornaments were suspended in various parts of the
edifice, and a great number of children's moccasins. From the
magnitude of this building, and the time and labor that must have
been expended in erecting it, the bodies which it contained were
probably those of noted warriors and hunters.

The next day, October 17th, they passed two large tributary
streams of the Spanish River. They took their rise in the Wind
River Mountains, which ranged along to the east, stupendously
high and rugged, composed of vast masses of black rock, almost
destitute of wood, and covered in many places with snow. This day
they saw a few buffalo bulls, and some antelopes, but could not
kill any; and their stock of provisions began to grow scanty as
well as poor.

On the 18th, after crossing a mountain ridge, and traversing a
plain, they waded one of the branches of Spanish River, and on
ascending its bank, met with about a hundred and thirty Snake
Indians. They were friendly in their demeanor, and conducted them
to their encampment, which was about three miles distant. It
consisted of about forty wigwams, constructed principally of pine
branches. The Snakes, like most of their nation, were very poor;
the marauding Crows, in their late excursion through the country,
had picked this unlucky band to the very bone, carrying off their
horses, several of their squaws, and most of their effects. In
spite of their poverty, they were hospitable in the extreme, and
made the hungry strangers welcome to their cabins. A few trinkets
procured from them a supply of buffalo meat, and of leather for
moccasins, of which the party were greatly in need. The most
valuable prize obtained from them, however, was a horse; it was a
sorry old animal in truth, but it was the only one that remained
to the poor fellows, after the fell swoop of the Crows; yet this
they were prevailed upon to part with to their guests for a
pistol, an axe, a knife, and a few other trifling articles.

They had doleful stories to tell of the Crows, who were encamped
on a river at no great distance to the east, and were in such
force that they dared not venture to seek any satisfaction for
their outrages, or to get back a horse or squaw. They endeavored
to excite the indignation of their visitors by accounts of
robberies and murders committed on lonely white hunters and
trappers by Crows and Blackfeet. Some of these were exaggerations
of the outrages already mentioned, sustained by some of the
scattered members of Mr. Hunt's expedition; others were in all
probability sheer fabrications, to which the Snakes seem to have
been a little prone. Mr. Stuart assured them that the day was not
far distant when the whites would make their power to be felt
throughout that country, and take signal vengeance on the
perpetrators of these misdeeds. The Snakes expressed great joy at
the intelligence, and offered their services to aid the righteous
cause, brightening at the thoughts of taking the field with such
potent allies, and doubtless anticipating their turn at stealing
horses and abducting squaws. Their offers, of course, were
accepted; the calumet of peace was produced, and the two forlorn
powers smoked eternal friendship between themselves, and
vengeance upon their common spoilers, the Crows.

                        CHAPTER XLVIII.
Spanish River Scenery.-Trail of Crow Indians.- A Snow-Storm.- A
Rousing Fire and a Buffalo Feast.-A Plain of Salt.-Climbing a
   Mountain. -Volcanic Summit.- Extinguished Crater.- Marine
Shells.- Encampment on a Prairie. - Successful Hunting.- Good
Cheer.- Romantic Scenery - Rocky Defile.- Foaming Rapids.- The
                         Fiery Narrows.

BY sunrise on the following morning (October 19th) , the
travellers had loaded their old horse with buffalo meat,
sufficient for five days' provisions, and, taking leave of their
new allies, the poor, but hospitable Snakes, set forth in
somewhat better spirits, though the increasing cold of the
weather, and the sight of the snowy mountains which they had yet
to traverse, were enough to chill their very hearts. The country
along this branch of the Spanish River, as far as they could see,
was perfectly level, bounded by ranges of lofty mountains, both
to the east and west. They proceeded about three miles to the
south, where they came again upon the large trail of Crow
Indians, which they had crossed four days previously, made, no
doubt, by the same marauding band that had plundered the Snakes;
and which, according to the account of the latter, was now
encamped on a stream to the eastward. The trail kept on to the
southeast, and was so well beaten by horse and foot, that they
supposed at least a hundred lodges had passed along it. As it
formed, therefore, a convenient highway, and ran in a proper
direction, they turned into it, and determined to keep along it
as far as safety would permit: as the Crow encampment must be
some distance off, and it was not likely those savages would
return upon their steps. They travelled forward, therefore, all
that day, in the track of their dangerous predecessors, which led
them across mountain streams, and long ridges, and through narrow
valleys, all tending generally towards the southeast. The wind
blew coldly from the northeast, with occasional flurries of snow,
which made them encamp early, on the sheltered banks of a brook.
The two Canadians, Vallee and Le Clerc, killed a young buffalo
bull in the evening, which was in good condition, and afforded
them a plentiful supply of fresh beef. They loaded their spits,
therefore, and crammed their camp kettle with meat, and while the
wind whistled, and the snow whirled around them, huddled round a
rousing fire, basked in its warmth, and comforted both soul and
body with a hearty and invigorating meal. No enjoyments have
greater zest than these, snatched in the very midst of difficulty
and danger; and it is probable the poor wayworn and weather-
beaten travellers relished these creature comforts the more
highly from the surrounding desolation, and the dangerous
proximity of the Crows.

The snow which had fallen in the night made it late in the
morning before the party loaded their solitary packhorse, and
resumed their march. They had not gone far before the Crow trace
which they were following changed its direction, and bore to the
north of east. They had already begun to feel themselves on
dangerous ground in keeping along it, as they might be descried
by some scouts and spies of that race of Ishmaelites, whose
predatory life required them to be constantly on the alert. On
seeing the trace turn so much to the north, therefore, they
abandoned it, and kept on their course to the southeast for
eighteen miles, through a beautifully undulating country, having
the main chain of mountains on the left, and a considerably
elevated ridge on the right. Here the mountain ridge which
divides Wind River from the head waters of the Columbia and
Spanish Rivers, ends abruptly, and winding to the north of east,
becomes the dividing barrier between a branch of the Big Horn and
Cheyenne Rivers, and those head waters which flow into the
Missouri below the Sioux country.

The ridge which lay on the right of the travellers having now
become very low, they passed over it, and came into a level
plain, about ten miles in circumference, and incrusted to the
depth of a foot or eighteen inches with salt as white as snow.
This is furnished by numerous salt springs of limpid water, which
are continually welling up, overflowing their borders, and
forming beautiful crystallizations. The Indian tribes of the
interior are excessively fond of this salt, and repair to the
valley to collect it, but it is held in distaste by the tribes of
the sea-coast, who will eat nothing that has been cured or
seasoned by it.

This evening they encamped on the banks of a small stream, in the
open prairie. The northeast wind was keen and cutting; they had
nothing wherewith to make a fire, but a scanty growth of sage, or
wormwood, and were fain to wrap themselves up in their blankets,
and huddle themselves in their "nests," at an early hour. In the
course of the evening, Mr. M'Lellan, who had now regained his
strength, killed a buffalo, but it was some distance from the
camp, and they postponed supplying themselves from the carcass
until the following morning.

The next day (October 21st) , the cold continued, accompanied by
snow. They set forward on their bleak and toilsome way, keeping
to the east northeast, towards the lofty summit of a mountain,
which it was necessary for them to cross. Before they reached its
base they passed another large trail, steering a little to the
right of the point of the mountain. This they presumed to have
been made by another band of Crows, who had probably been hunting
lower down on the Spanish River.

The severity of the weather compelled them to encamp at the end
of fifteen miles, on the skirts of the mountain, where they found
sufficient dry aspen trees to supply them with fire, but they
sought in vain about the neighborhood for a spring or rill of

At daybreak they were up and on the march, scrambling up the
mountain side for the distance of eight painful miles. From the
casual hints given in the travelling memoranda of Mr. Stuart,
this mountain would seem to offer a rich field of speculation for
the geologist. Here was a plain three miles in diameter, strewed
with pumice stones and other volcanic reliques, with a lake in
the centre, occupying what had probably been the crater. Here
were also, in some places, deposits of marine shells, indicating
that this mountain crest had at some remote period been below the

After pausing to repose, and to enjoy these grand but savage and
awful scenes, they began to descend the eastern side of the
mountain. The descent was rugged and romantic, along deep ravines
and defiles, overhung with crags and cliffs, among which they
beheld numbers of the ahsahta or bighorn, skipping fearlessly
from rock to rock. Two of them they succeeded in bringing down
with their rifles, as they peered fearlessly from the brow of
their airy precipices.

Arrived at the foot of the mountain, the travellers found a rill
of water oozing out of the earth, and resembling in look and
taste, the water of the Missouri. Here they encamped for the
night, and supped sumptuously upon their mountain mutton, which
they found in good condition, and extremely well tasted.

The morning was bright, and intensely cold. Early in the day they
came upon a stream running to the east, between low hills of
bluish earth, strongly impregnated with copperas. Mr. Stuart
supposed this to be one of the head waters of the Missouri, and
determined to follow its banks. After a march of twenty-six
miles, however, he arrived at the summit of a hill, the prospect
of which induced him to alter his intention. He beheld, in every
direction south of east, a vast plain, bounded only by the
horizon, through which wandered the stream in question, in a
south-south-east direction. It could not, therefore, be a branch
of the Missouri. He now gave up all idea of taking the stream for
his guide, and shaped his course towards a range of mountains in
the east, about sixty miles distant, near which he hoped to find
another stream.

The weather was now so severe, and the hardships of travelling so
great, that he resolved to halt for the winter, at the first
eligible place. That night they had to encamp on the open
prairie, near a scanty pool of water, and without any wood to
make a fire. The northeast wind blew keenly across the naked
waste, and they were fain to decamp from their inhospitable
bivouac before the dawn.

For two days they kept on in an eastward direction, against
wintry blasts and occasional snow storms. They suffered, also,
from scarcity of water, having occasionally to use melted snow;
this, with the want of pasturage, reduced their old pack-horse
sadly. They saw many tracks of buffalo, and some few bulls,
which, however, got the wind of them, and scampered off.

On the 26th of October, they steered east-northeast, for a wooded
ravine in a mountain, at a small distance from the base of which,
to their great joy, they discovered an abundant stream, running
between willowed banks. Here they halted for the night, and Ben
Jones having luckily trapped a beaver, and killed two buffalo
bulls, they remained all the next day encamped, feasting and
reposing, and allowing their jaded horse to rest from his labors.

The little stream on which they were encamped, was one of the
head waters of the Platte River, which flows into the Missouri;
it was, in fact, the northern fork, or branch of that river,
though this the travellers did not discover until long
afterwards. Pursuing the course of this stream for about twenty
miles, they came to where it forced a passage through a range of
high hills, covered with cedars, into an extensive low country,
affording excellent pasture to numerous herds of buffalo. Here
they killed three cows, which were the first they had been able
to get, having hitherto had to content themselves with bull beef,
which at this season of the year is very poor. The hump meat
afforded them a repast fit for an epicure.

Late on the afternoon of the 30th, they came to where the stream,
now increased to a considerable size, poured along in a ravine
between precipices of red stone, two hundred feet in height. For
some distance it dashed along, over huge masses of rock, with
foaming violence, as if exasperated by being compressed into so
narrow a channel, and at length leaped down a chasm that looked
dark and frightful in the gathering twilight.

For a part of the next day, the wild river, in its capricious
wanderings, led them through a variety of striking scenes. At one
time they were upon high plains, like platforms among the
mountains, with herds of buffaloes roaming about them; at another
among rude rocky defiles, broken into cliffs and precipices,
where the blacktailed deer bounded off among the crags, and the
bighorn basked in the sunny brow of the precipice.

In the after part of the day, they came to another scene,
surpassing in savage grandeur those already described. They had
been travelling for some distance through a pass of the
mountains, keeping parallel with the river, as it roared along,
out of sight, through a deep ravine. Sometimes their devious path
approached the margin of cliffs below which the river foamed, and
boiled, and whirled among the masses of rock that had fallen into
its channel. As they crept cautiously on, leading their solitary
pack-horse along these giddy heights, they all at once came to
where the river thundered down a succession of precipices,
throwing up clouds of spray, and making a prodigious din and
uproar. The travellers remained, for a time, gazing with mingled
awe and delight, at this furious cataract, to which Mr. Stuart
gave, from the color of the impending rocks, the name of "The
Fiery Narrows."

                         CHAPTER XLIX.
Wintry Storms.- A Halt and Council.- Cantonment for the Winter. -
   Fine Hunting Country.- Game of the Mountains and Plains.-
Successful Hunting- Mr. Crooks and a Grizzly Bear.- The Wigwam. -
Bighorn and Black-Tails.- Beef and Venison.- Good Quarters and
   Good Cheer.- An Alarm.- An Intrusion.- Unwelcome Guests.-
  Desolation of the Larder. - Gormandizing Exploits of Hungry
              Savages. - Good Quarters Abandoned.

THE travellers encamped for the night on the banks of the river
below the cataract. The night was cold, with partial showers of
rain and sleet. The morning dawned gloomily, the skies were
sullen and overcast, and threatened further storms; but the
little band resumed their journey, in defiance of the weather.
The increasing rigor of the season, however, which makes itself
felt early in these mountainous regions, and on these naked and
elevated plains, brought them to a pause, and a serious
deliberation, after they had descended about thirty miles further
along the course of the river.

All were convinced that it was in vain to attempt to accomplish
their journey, on foot, at this inclement season. They had still
many hundred miles to traverse before they should reach the main
course of the Missouri, and their route would lay over immense
prairies, naked and bleak, and destitute of fuel. The question
then was, where to choose their wintering place, and whether or
not to proceed further down the river. They had at first imagined
it to be one of the head waters, or tributary streams, of the
Missouri. Afterwards they had believed it to be the Rapid, or
Quicourt River, in which opinion they had not come nearer to the
truth; they now, however, were persuaded, with equal fallacy, by
its inclining somewhat to the north of east, that it was the
Cheyenne. If so, by continuing down it much further they must
arrive among the Indians, from whom the river takes its name.
Among these they would be sure to meet some of the Sioux tribe.
These would appraise their relatives, the piratical Sioux of the
Missouri, of the approach of a band of white traders; so that, in
the spring time, they would be likely to be waylaid and robbed on
their way down the river, by some party in ambush upon its banks.

Even should this prove to be the Quicourt or Rapid River, it
would not be prudent to winter much further down upon its banks,
as, though they might be out of the range of the Sioux, they
would be in the neighborhood of the Poncas, a tribe nearly as
dangerous. It was resolved, therefore, since they must winter
somewhere on this side of the Missouri, to descend no lower, but
to keep up in these solitary regions, where they would be in no
danger of molestation.

They were brought the more promptly and unanimously to this
decision, by coming upon an excellent wintering place, that
promised everything requisite for their comfort. It was on a fine
bend of the river, just below where it issued out from among a
ridge of mountains, and bent towards the northeast. Here was a
beautiful low point of land, covered by cotton-wood, and
surrounded by a thick growth of willow, so as to yield both
shelter and fuel, as well as materials for building. The river
swept by in a strong current, about a hundred and fifty yards
wide. To the southeast were mountains of moderate height, the
nearest about two miles off, but the whole chain ranging to the
east, south, and southwest, as far as the eye could reach. Their
summits were crowned with extensive tracts of pitch pine,
checkered with small patches of the quivering aspen. Lower down
were thick forests of firs and red cedars, growing out in many
places from the very fissures of the rocks. The mountains were
broken and precipitous, with huge bluffs protruding from among
the forests.

Their rocky recesses and beetling cliffs afforded retreats to
innumerable flocks of the bighorn, while their woody summits and
ravines abounded with bears and black-tailed deer. These, with
the numerous herds of buffalo that ranged the lower grounds along
the river, promised the travellers abundant cheer in their winter

On the 2d of November, therefore, they pitched their camp for the
winter, on the woody point, and their first thought was to obtain
a supply of provisions. Ben Jones and the two Canadians
accordingly sallied forth, accompanied by two others of the
party, leaving but one to watch the camp. Their hunting was
uncommonly successful. In the course of two days, they killed
thirty-two buffaloes, and collected their meat on the margin of a
small brook, about a mile distant. Fortunately, a severe frost
froze the river, so that the meat was easily transported to the
encampment. On a succeeding day, a herd of buffalo came trampling
through the woody bottom on the river banks, and fifteen more
were killed.

It was soon discovered, however, that there was game of a more
dangerous nature in the neighborhood. On one occasion, Mr. Crooks
had wandered about a mile from the camp, and had ascended a small
hill commanding a view of the river. He was without his rifle, a
rare circumstance, for in these wild regions, where one may put
up a wild animal, or a wild Indian, at every turn, it is
customary never to stir from the camp-fire unarmed. The hill
where he stood overlooked the place where the massacre of the
buffalo had taken place. As he was looking around on the
prospect, his eye was caught by an object below, moving directly
towards him. To his dismay, he discovered it to be a grizzly
bear, with two cubs. There was no tree at hand into which he
could climb; to run, would only be to provoke pursuit, and he
should soon be overtaken. He threw himself on the ground,
therefore, and lay motionless, watching the movements of the
animal with intense anxiety. It continued to advance until at the
foot of the hill, when it turned, and made into the woods, having
probably gorged itself with buffalo flesh. Mr. Crooks made all
haste back to the camp, rejoicing at his escape, and determining
never to stir out again without his rifle. A few days after this
circumstance, a grizzly bear was shot in the neighborhood by Mr.

As the slaughter of so many buffaloes had provided the party with
beef for the winter, in case they met with no further supply,
they now set to work, heart and hand, to build a comfortable
wigwam. In a little while the woody promontory rang with the
unwonted sound of the axe. Some of its lofty trees were laid low,
and by the second evening the cabin was complete. It was eight
feet wide, and eighteen feet long. The walls were six feet high,
and the whole was covered with buffalo skins. The fireplace was
in the centre, and the smoke found its way out by a hole in the

The hunters were next sent out to procure deer-skins for
garments, moccasins, and other purposes. They made the mountains
echo with their rifles, and, in the course of two days' hunting,
killed twenty-eight bighorns and black-tailed deer.

The party now reveled in abundance. After all that they had
suffered from hunger, cold, fatigue and watchfulness; after all
their perils from treacherous and savage men, they exulted in the
snugness and security of their isolated cabin, hidden, as they
thought, even from the prying eyes of Indian scouts, and stored
with creature comforts; and they looked forward to a winter of
peace and quietness, of roasting, and boiling, and broiling, and
feasting upon venison, and mountain mutton, and bear's meat, and
marrow bones, and buffalo humps, and other hunter's dainties, and
of dozing and reposing round their fire, and gossiping over past
dangers and adventures, and telling long hunting stories, until
spring should return; when they would make canoes of buffalo
skins and float themselves down the river.

From such halcyon dreams, they were startled one morning, at
daybreak, by a savage yell. They started tip and seized their
rifles. The yell was repeated by two or three voices. Cautiously
peeping out, they beheld, to their dismay, several Indian
warriors among the trees, all armed and painted in warlike style;
being evidently bent on some hostile purpose.

Miller changed countenance as he regarded them. "We are in
trouble," said he, "these are some of the rascally Arapahays that
robbed me last year." Not a word was uttered by the rest of the
party, but they silently slung their powder horns and ball
pouches, and prepared for battle. M'Lellan, who had taken his gun
to pieces the evening before, put it together in all haste. He
proposed that they should break out the clay from between the
logs, so as to be able to fire upon the enemy.

"Not yet," replied Stuart; "it will not do to show fear or
distrust; we must first hold a parley. Some one must go out and
meet them as a friend."

Who was to undertake the task! It was full of peril, as the envoy
might be shot down at the threshold.

"The leader of a party," said Miller, "always takes the advance."

"Good!" replied Stuart; "I am ready." He immediately went forth;
one of the Canadians followed him; the rest of the party remained
in the garrison, to keep the savages in check.

Stuart advanced holding his rifle in one hand, and extending the
other to the savage that appeared to be the chief. The latter
stepped forward and took it; his men followed his example, and
all shook hands with Stuart, in token of friendship. They now
explained their errand. They were a war party of Arapahay braves.
Their village lay on a stream several days' journey to the
eastward. It had been attacked and ravaged during their absence,
by a band of Crows, who had carried off several of their women,
and most of their horses. They were in quest of vengeance. For
sixteen days they had been tracking the Crows about the
mountains, but had not yet come upon them. In the meantime, they
had met with scarcely any game, and were half famished. About two
days previously, they had heard the report of fire-arms among the
mountains, and on searching in the direction of the sound, had
come to a place where a deer had been killed. They had
immediately put themselves upon the track of the hunters, and by
following it up, had arrived at the cabin.

Mr. Stuart now invited the chief and another, who appeared to be
his lieutenant, into the hut, but made signs that no one else was
to enter. The rest halted at the door; others came straggling up,
until the whole party, to the number of twenty-three, ,were
gathered before the hut. They were armed with bows and arrows,
tomahawks and scalping knives, and some few with guns. All were
painted and dressed for war, and had a wild and fierce
appearance. Mr. Miller recognized among them some of the very
fellows who had robbed him in the preceding year; and put his
comrades upon their guard. Every man stood ready to resist the
first act of hostility; the savages, however, conducted
themselves peaceably, and showed none of that swaggering
arrogance which a war party is apt to assume.

On entering the hut the chief and his lieutenant cast a wistful
look at the rafters, laden with venison and buffalo meat. Mr.
Stuart made a merit of necessity, and invited them to help
themselves. They did not wait to be pressed. The rafters were
soon eased of their burden; venison and beef were passed out to
the crew before the door, and a scene of gormandizing commenced,
of which few can have an idea, who have not witnessed the
gastronomic powers of an Indian, after an interval of fasting.
This was kept up throughout the day; they paused now and then, it
is true, for a brief interval, but only to return to the charge
with renewed ardor. The chief and the lieutenant surpassed all
the rest in the vigor and perseverance of their attacks; as if
from their station they were bound to signalize themselves in all
onslaughts. Mr. Stuart kept them well supplied with choice bits,
for it was his policy to overfeed them, and keep them from
leaving the hut, where they served as hostages for the good
conduct of their followers. Once, only, in the course of the day,
did the chief sally forth. Mr. Stuart and one of his men
accompanied him, armed with their rifles, but without betraying
any distrust. The chieftain soon returned, and renewed his attack
upon the larder. In a word, he and his worthy coadjutor, the
lieutenant, ate until they were both stupefied.

Towards evening the Indians made their preparations for the night
according to the practice of war parties. Those outside of the
hut threw up two breastworks, into which they retired at a
tolerably early hour, and slept like overfed hounds. As to the
chief and his lieutenant, they passed the night in the hut, in
the course of which, they, two or three times, got up to eat. The
travellers took turns, one at a time, to mount guard until the

Scarce had the day dawned, when the gormandizing was renewed by
the whole band, and carried on with surprising vigor until ten
o'clock, when all prepared to depart. They had six days' journey
yet to make, they said, before they should come up with the
Crows, who, they understood, were encamped on a river to the
northward. Their way lay through a hungry country, where there
was no game; they would, moreover, have but little time to hunt;
they, therefore, craved a small supply of provisions for their
journey. Mr. Stuart again invited them to help themselves. They
did so with keen forethought, loading themselves with the
choicest parts of the meat, and leaving the late plenteous larder
far gone in a consumption. Their next request was for a supply of
ammunition, having guns, but no powder and ball. They promised to
pay magnificently out of the spoils of their foray. "We are poor
now," said they, "and are obliged to go on foot, but we shall
soon come back laden with booty, and all mounted on horseback,
with scalps hanging at our bridles. We will then give each of you
a horse to keep you from being tired on your journey."

"Well," said Mr. Stuart, "when you bring the horses, you shall
have the ammunition, but not before." The Indians saw by his
determined tone, that all further entreaty would be unavailing,
so they desisted, with a good-humored laugh, and went off
exceedingly well freighted, both within and without, promising to
be back again in the course of a fortnight.

No sooner were they out of hearing, than the luckless travellers
held another council. The security of their cabin was at an end
and with it all their dreams of a quiet and cozy winter. They
were between two fires. On one side were their old enemies, the
Crows; on the other side, the Arapahays, no less dangerous
freebooters. As to the moderation of this war party, they
considered it assumed, to put them off their guard against some
more favorable opportunity for a surprisal. It was determined,
therefore, not to await their return, but to abandon, with all
speed, this dangerous neighborhood. From the accounts of their
recent visitors, they were led to believe, though erroneously,
that they were upon the Quicourt, or Rapid River. They proposed
now to keep along it to its confluence with the Missouri; but,
should they be prevented by the rigors of the season from
proceeding so far, at least to reach a part of the river where
they might be able to construct canoes of greater strength and
durability than those of buffalo skins.

Accordingly, on the 13th of December, they bade adieu, with many
a regret, to their comfortable quarters where for five weeks they
had been indulging the sweets of repose, of plenty, and of
fancied security. They were still accompanied by their veteran
pack-horse, which the Arapahays had omitted to steal, either
because they intended to steal him on their return, or because
they thought him not worth stealing.

                           CHAPTER L.
  Rough Wintry Travelling - Hills and Plains.- Snow and Ice.-
Disappearance of Game.- A Vast Dreary Plain.- A. Second Halt for
the Winter.- Another Wigwam.- New Year's Feast.- Buffalo Humps,
Tongues, and Marrow-Bones.- Return of Spring.- Launch of Canoes.
- Bad Navigation. - Pedestrian March. - Vast Prairies. - Deserted
Camps.- Pawnee Squaws.- An Otto Indian.- News of War.- Voyage
Down the Platte and the Missouri.- Reception at Fort Osage. -
                     Arrival at St. Louis.

THE interval of comfort and repose which the party had enjoyed in
their wigwam, rendered the renewal of their fatigues intolerable
for the first two or three days. The snow lay deep, and was
slightly frozen on the surface, but not sufficiently to bear
their weight. Their feet became sore by breaking through the
crust, and their limbs weary by floundering on without firm
foothold. So exhausted and dispirited were they, that they began
to think it would be better to remain and run the risk of being
killed by the Indians, than to drag on thus painfully, with the
probability of perishing by the way. Their miserable horse fared
no better than themselves, having for the first day or two no
other fodder than the ends of willow twigs, and the bark of the
cotton-wood tree.

They all, however, appeared to gain patience and hardihood as
they proceeded, and for fourteen days kept steadily on, making a
distance of about three hundred and thirty miles. For some days,
the range of mountains which had been near to their wigwam kept
parallel to the river at no great distance, but at length
subsided into hills. Sometimes they found the river bordered with
alluvial bottoms, and groves with cotton-wood and willows;
sometimes the adjacent country was naked and barren. In one place
it ran for a considerable distance between rocky hills and
promontories covered with cedar and pitch pines, and peopled with
the bighorn and the mountain deer; at other places it wandered
through prairies well stocked with buffaloes and antelopes. As
they descended the course of the river, they began to perceive
the ash and white oak here and there among the cotton-wood and
willow; and at length caught a sight of some wild horses on the
distant prairies.

The weather was various; at one time the snow lay deep; then they
had a genial day or two, with the mildness and serenity of
autumn; then, again, the frost was so severe that the river was
sufficiently frozen to bear them upon the ice.

During the last three days of their fortnight's travel, however,
the face of the country changed. The timber gradually diminished,
until they could scarcely find fuel sufficient for culinary
purposes. The game grew more and more scanty, and, finally, none
were to be seen but a few miserable broken-down buffalo bulls,
not worth killing. The snow lay fifteen inches deep, and made the
travelling grievously painful and toilsome. At length they came
to an immense plain, where no vestige of timber was to be seen;
nor a single quadruped to enliven the desolate landscape. Here,
then, their hearts failed them, and they held another
consultation. The width of the river, which was upwards of a
mile, its extreme shallowness, the frequency of quicksands, and
various other characteristics, had at length made them sensible
of their errors with respect to it, and they now came to the
correct conclusion, that they were on the banks of the Platte or
Shallow River. What were they to do? Pursue its course to the
Missouri? To go on at this season of the year seemed dangerous in
the extreme. There was no prospect of obtaining either food or
firing. The country was destitute of trees, and though there
might be drift-wood along the river, it lay too deep beneath the
snow for them to find it.

The weather was threatening a change, and a snowstorm on these
boundless wastes might prove as fatal as a whirlwind of sand on
an Arabian desert. After much dreary deliberation, it was at
length determined to retrace their three last days' journey of
seventy-seven miles, to a place which they had remarked where
there was a sheltering growth of forest trees, and a country
abundant in game. Here they would once more set up their winter
quarters, and await the opening of the navigation to launch
themselves in canoes.

Accordingly, on the 27th of December, they faced about, retraced
their steps, and on the 30th, regained the part of the river in
question. Here the alluvial bottom was from one to two miles
wide, and thickly covered with a forest of cotton-wood trees;
while herds of buffalo were scattered about the neighboring
prairie, several of which soon fell beneath their rifles.

They encamped on the margin of the river, in a grove where there
were trees large enough for canoes. Here they put up a shed for
immediate shelter, and immediately proceeded to erect a hut. New
Year's day dawned when, as yet, but one wall of their cabin was
completed; the genial and jovial day, however, was not permitted
to pass uncelebrated, even by this weatherbeaten crew of
wanderers. All work was suspended, except that of roasting and
boiling. The choicest of the buffalo meat, with tongues, and
humps, and marrow-bones, were devoured in quantities that would
astonish any one that has not lived among hunters or Indians; and
as an extra regale, having no tobacco left, they cut up an old
tobacco pouch, still redolent with the potent herb, and smoked it
in honor of the day. Thus for a time, in present revelry, however
uncouth, they forgot all past troubles and all anxieties about
the future, and their forlorn wigwam echoed to the sound of

The next day they resumed their labors, and by the 6th of the
month it was complete. They soon killed abundance of buffalo, and
again laid in a stock of winter provisions. The party were more
fortunate in this, their second cantonment. The winter passed
away without any Indian visitors, and the game continued to be
plenty in the neighborhood. They felled two large trees, and
shaped them into canoes; and, as the spring opened, and a thaw of
several days' continuance melted the ice in the river, they made
every preparation for embarking. On the 8th of March they
launched forth in their canoes, but soon found that the river had
not depth sufficient even for such slender barks. It expanded
into a wide but extremely shallow stream, with many sand-bars,
and occasionally various channels. They got one of their canoes a
few miles down it, with extreme difficulty, sometimes wading and
dragging it over the shoals; at length they had to abandon the
attempt, and to resume their journey on foot, aided by their
faithful old pack-horse, who had recruited strength during the
repose of the winter.

The weather delayed them for a few days, having suddenly become
more rigorous than it had been at any time during the winter; but
on the 20th of March they were again on their journey.

In two days they arrived at the vast naked prairie, the wintry
aspect of which had caused them, in December, to pause and turn
back. It was now clothed in the early verdure of spring, and
plentifully stocked with game. Still, when obliged to bivouac on
its bare surface, without any shelter, and by a scanty fire of
dry buffalo dung, they found the night blasts piercing cold. On
one occasion, a herd of buffalo straying near their evening camp,
they killed three of them merely for their hides, wherewith to
make a shelter for the night.

They continued on for upwards of a hundred miles; with vast
prairies extending before them as they advanced; sometimes
diversified by undulating hills, but destitute of trees. In one
place they saw a gang of sixty-five wild horses, but as to the
buffaloes, they seemed absolutely to cover the country. Wild
geese abounded, and they passed extensive swamps that were alive
with innumerable flocks of water-fowl, among which were a few
swans, but an endless variety of ducks.

The river continued a winding course to the east-north-east,
nearly a mile in width, but too shallow to float even an empty
canoe. The country spread out into a vast level plain, bounded by
the horizon alone, excepting to the north, where a line of hills
seemed like a long promontory stretching into the bosom of the
ocean. The dreary sameness of the prairie wastes began to grow
extremely irksome. The travellers longed for the sight of a
forest, or grove, or single tree, to break the level uniformity,
and began to notice every object that gave reason to hope they
were drawing towards the end of this weary wilderness. Thus the
occurrence of a particular kind of grass was hailed as a proof
that they could not be far from the bottoms of the Missouri; and
they were rejoiced at putting up several prairie hens, a kind of
grouse seldom found far in the interior. In picking up driftwood
for fuel, also, they found on some pieces the mark of an axe,
which caused much speculation as to the time when and the persons
by whom the trees had been felled. Thus they went on, like
sailors at sea, who perceive in every floating weed and wandering
bird, harbingers of the wished-for land.

By the close of the month the weather became very mild, and,
heavily burdened as they were, they found the noontide
temperature uncomfortably warm. On the 30th, they came to three
deserted hunting camps, either of Pawnees or Ottoes, about which
were buffalo skulls in all directions; and the frames on which
the hides had been stretched and cured. They had apparently been
occupied the preceding autumn.

For several days they kept patiently on, watching every sign that
might give them an idea as to where they were, and how near to
the banks of the Missouri.

Though there were numerous traces of hunting parties and
encampments, they were not of recent date. The country seemed
deserted. The only human beings they met with were three Pawnee
squaws, in a hut in the midst of a deserted camp. Their people
had all gone to the south, in pursuit of the buffalo, and had
left these poor women behind, being too sick and infirm to

It is a common practice with the Pawnees, and probably with other
roving tribes, when departing on a distant expedition, which will
not admit of incumbrance or delay, to leave their aged and infirm
with a supply of provisions sufficient for a temporary
subsistence. When this is exhausted, they must perish; though
sometimes their sufferings are abridged by hostile prowlers who
may visit the deserted camp.

The poor squaws in question expected some such fate at the hands
of the white strangers, and though the latter accosted them in
the kindest manner, and made them presents of dried buffalo meat,
it was impossible to soothe their alarm, or get any information
from them.

The first landmark by which the travellers were enabled to
conjecture their position with any degree of confidence, was an
island about seventy miles in length, which they presumed to be
Grand Isle. If so, they were within one hundred and forty miles
of the Missouri. They kept on, therefore, With renewed spirit,
and at the end of three days met with an Otto Indian, by whom
they were confirmed in their conjecture. They learnt at the same
time another piece of information, of an uncomfortable nature.
According to his account, there was war between the United States
and England, and in fact it had existed for a whole year, during
which time they had been beyond the reach of all knowledge of the
affairs of the civilized world.

The Otto conducted the travellers to his village, situated a
short distance from the banks of the Platte. Here they were
delighted to meet with two white men, Messrs. Dornin and Roi,
Indian traders recently from St. Louis. Of these they had a
thousand inquiries to make concerning all affairs, foreign and
domestic, during their year of sepulture in the wilderness; and
especially about the events of the existing war.

They now prepared to abandon their weary travel by land, and to
embark upon the water. A bargain was made with Mr. Dornin, who
engaged to furnish them with a canoe and provisions for the
voyage, in exchange for their venerable and well-tried fellow
traveller, the old Snake horse.

Accordingly, in a couple of days, the Indians employed by that
gentleman constructed for them a canoe twenty feet long, four
feet wide, and eighteen inches deep. The frame was of poles and
willow twigs, on which were stretched five elk and buffalo hides,
sewed together with sinews, and the seams payed with unctuous
mud. In this they embarked at an early hour on the 16th of April,
and drifted down ten miles with the stream, when the wind being
high they encamped, and set to work to make oars, which they had
not been able to procure at the Indian village.

Once more afloat, they went merrily down the stream, and after
making thirty-five miles, emerged into the broad turbid current
of the Missouri. Here they were borne along briskly by the rapid
stream; though, by the time their fragile bark had floated a
couple of hundred miles, its frame began to show the effects of
the voyage. Luckily they came to the deserted wintering place of
some hunting party, where they found two old wooden canoes.
Taking possession of the largest, they again committed themselves
to the current, and after dropping down fifty-five miles further,
arrived safely at Fort Osage.

Here they found Lieutenant Brownson still in command; the officer
who had given the expedition a hospitable reception on its way up
the river, eighteen months previously. He received this remnant
of the party with a cordial welcome, and endeavored in every way
to promote their comfort and enjoyment during their sojourn at
the fort. The greatest luxury they met with on their return to
the abode of civilized man, was bread, not having tasted any for
nearly a year.

Their stay at Fort Osage was but short. On re-embarking they were
furnished with an ample supply of provisions by the kindness of
Lieutenant Brownson, and performed the rest of their voyage
without adverse circumstance. On the 30th of April they arrived
in perfect health and fine