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the villagers in their holiday-clothes parading along to church. The bell at that moment sounded, and the peal gave rise to many reflections. It might be long ere I should hear the sound of the church-going bell' again. I was on my way to a far, far country, and I did not know that I should ever be permitted to revisit my own.
I felt that I was leaving the scenes of my childhood—the spot which had witnessed all the happiness I ever knew, the home where all my affections were centered. I was entering a land of strangers, and would be compelled hereafter to mingle with those who might look upon me with indifference, or treat me with neglect.”
The travelers, tired of their long journey on foot, waited at a small village on the Missouri till their companions and baggage should come up. The steamer arrived on the 9th of April, and the two pedestrians having gone on board, it was soon puffing up the river at the rate of seven miles an hour. In four days they reached the small town of Independence, then the outermost Anglo-American post, and disembarking, they began to prepare for their long and venturesom.e journey. Mr. Townsend here introduces a description of the company, about fifty in all.
There was among the men, to compose the
caravan, a great variety of dispositions. who had not been accustomed to the kind of life they were to lead, looked forward to it with eager delight, and talked of stirring incidents and hairbreadth
Others, who were more experienced, seemed to be as easy and unconcerned about it as a citizen would be in contemplating a drive of a few miles into the country. Some were evidently reared in the shade, and not accustomed to hardships; many were almost as rough as the grizzly bear, and not a little proud of their feats, of which they were fond of boasting; but the majority were very strong, able-bodied men.
During the day, the captain kept all his men employed in arranging and packing a vast variety of goods for carriage. In addition to the necessary clothing for the company, arms, ammunition, etc., there were thousands of trinkets of various kinds, beads, paint, bells, rings, and such like trumpery, intended as presents for the Indians, as well as objects of trade with them. The bales were usually made to weigh about eighty pounds, of which a horse was to carry two. Captain Wyeth insured the good-will and obedience of the men by his affable but firm manner, and showed himself every way suitable for his very important mission. In the company there were also five missionaries, the principal of whom, Mr.
Jason Lee, was a “tall and powerful man, who looked as though he were well calculated to buffet difficulties in a wild country." Before setting out, they were joined also by Mr. Milton Sublette, a trader and trapper of several years' standing, who intended to travel a part of the way with them. Mr. Sublette brought with him about twenty trained hunters, “true as the steel of their tried blades," who had more than once gone over the very track which the caravan intended to pursue-a reinforcement which was very welcome to Captain Wyeth and his party.
On the 28th of April, at ten o'clock in the morning, all things being prepared, the caravan, consisting of seventy men and two hundred and fifty horses, began its march toward the west. All were in high spirits, and full of hope of adventure; uproarious bursts of merriment, and gay and lively songs, constantly echoed along the line of the cavalcade. The road lay over a fast rolling prairie, with occasional small spots of timber at the distance of several miles apart, and this was expected to be the complexion of the track for some weeks. For the first day and night the journey was agreeable, but on the second day a heavy rain fell, which made the ground wet and muddy, soaked the blanket bedding, and rendered camping at night any thing but pleasant.
For about a fortnight the caravan proceeded without any very remarkable incident occurring. The cook of the mess to which Mr. Townsend belonged decamped one night, having, no doubt, become tired of the expedition, and determined to go back to the settlements. The man him. self was little missed; but he had taken a rifle, powder-horn, and shot-pouch along with him, and these articles were precious. In a few days after, three other men deserted, likewise carrying rifles with them. In the course of the fortnight the caravan passed through several villages of the Kaw Indians, with whom they traded a little, giving bacon and tobacco in exchange for hides. These Indians do not appear, on the whole, to have been very favorable specimens of the American aboriginals. had
many of them fine countenances, but the women were very homely. The following is a description of one of their chiefs: “In the evening the principal Kansas chief paid us a visit in our tent. He is a young man about twenty-five years of age, straight as a poplar, and with a noble countenance and bearing, but he appeared to me to be marvelously deficient in most of the requisites which go to make the character of a real Indian chief, at least of such Indian chiefs as we read of in our popular books. I begin to suspect, in truth, that these lofty and dignified
attributes are more apt to exist in the fertile brain of the novelist than in reality. Be this as it may, our chief is a very lively, laughing, and rather playful personage; perhaps he may put on his dignity, like a glove, when it suits his convenience.”
On the 8th of May the party had a misfortune in the loss of Mr. Milton Sublette, who, owing to a fungus in one of his legs, was obliged to return to the settlements. On the afternoon of the next day, the party crossed a broad, Indian trail, bearing northerly, supposed to be about five days old, and to have been made by a war-party of Pawnees. Hoping to escape these formidable enemies of the white man, the party pushed on, but not without occasional mishaps; at one time the horses ran away, and had to be chased for a whole night, and even when the labor of the chase was over, three were irrecoverably lost; at another time half of the party were drenched crossing a wide creek full of black mud, which the men had to flounder through on horseback. The weather, too, was becoming intolerably warm. They had frequently been favored with fresh breezes, which made it very agreeable; but the moment these failed, they were almost suffocated with intense heat. Their rate of traveling was about twenty miles per day, which in this warm weather, and