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ASTORIA; OR, ANECDOTES OF AN ENTERPRISE BEYOND THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

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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
recovered.

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
sail.

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
steeds.

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
heaven.

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.
Astor.

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
canoes.

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
reduced.

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
society.

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
consternation.

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
scheme.

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
shot.

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
situated.

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
night.

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
Alliance.

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
cold.

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
Missouri.

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
water.

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
waves.

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
quarters.

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.
Miller.

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
roof.

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
morning.

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;

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