Billeder på siden

resist, at his rugged and determined foe, and shrieking in an agony of fear, “Shoot him! shoot him !” The


who was a young hunter, happened to be about a mile behind the main body, either from the indolence of his horse or his own carelessness; but as he ap-' proached the party in his desperate flight, and his pitiable cries reached the ears of the men in front, about a dozen of them rode to his assistance, and soon succeeded in diverting the attention of his pertinacious foe. After the bear had received the contents of all the

guns, he fell, and was soon dispatched. The man rode in among his fellows, pale and haggard from overwrought feelings, and was probably effectually cured of a propensity for meddling with grizzly bears.

On the 19th of June, the party arrived on the Green river, or Colorado of the west, which they forded, and encamped upon a spot which was to form a rendezvous for all the mountain companies who left the states in spring, and also the

trappers who come from various parts with furs collected by them during the previous year.

Our traveler relates a misfortune which happened to him here. Having sallied forth with his gun, and wandered about for several hours shooting birds, he found, on returning to the camp, that his party had quitted the spot. In

After coming

- I had felt,”

pursuing their track, he had to swim his horse across a deep and swift stream. up with the party, he was congratulating himself on his escape from being drowned, when he found that he had lost his coat. he

says, “uncomfortably warm when I mounted, and had removed the coat and attached it carelessly to the saddle; the rapidity of the current had disengaged it, and it was lost forever. The coat itself was not of much consequence after the hard service it had seen ; but it contained the second volume of my journal, a pocket compass, and other articles of essential value to me. I would gladly have relinquished every thing the garment held, if I could but have recovered the book; and although I returned to the river, and searched assiduously till night, and offered large rewards to the men, it could not be found.”

The loss of his journal, however, was not the only bad consequence of his river adventure. The ducking he had received brought on a fever, which confined him to his tent for several days. It was well for him that they had now arrived at the rendezvous where the caravans always make some stay before proceeding on the remainder of their journey. Still, according to Mr. Townsend's account of the encampment, it was scarcely the best hospital for an invalid.

As there were several other encampments stationed on the spot-among others that of the party of rival traders which had passed Captain Wyeth's party on the road—the encampment was constantly crowded with a heterogeneous assemblage of visitors. “The principal of these are Indians of the Nez Perce, Banneck, and Shoshone tribes, who come with the furs and peltries which they have been collecting at the risk of their lives during the past winter and spring, to trade for ammunition, trinkets, and fire-water. There is, in addition to these, a great variety of personages among us; most of them calling themselves white men, FrenchCanadians, half-breeds, etc., their color nearly as dark, and their manner wholly as wild, as the Indians with whom they constantly associate. These people, with their obstreperous mirth, their whooping, and howling, and quarreling, added to the mounted Indians, who are constantly dashing into and through our camp, yelling like fiends, the barking and baying of savage wolf-dogs, and the incessant cracking of rifles and carbines, render our camp a perfect bedlam. A more unpleasant situation for an invalid could scarcely be conceived. I am confined closely to the tent with illness, and am compelled all day to listen to the hiccoughing jargon of drunken traders, and the swearing

The prin

and screaming of our own men, who are scarcely less savage than the rest, being heated by the detestable liquor which circulates freely among them. It is very much to be regretted that, at times like the present, there should be a positive necessity to allow the men as much rum as they can drink; but this course has been sanctioned and practiced by all the leaders of parties who have hitherto visited these regions, and reform can not be thought of now. cipal liquor in use is alcohol diluted with water. It is sold to the men at three dollars thé pint! Tobacco, of very inferior quality, such as could be purchased in Philadelphia at about ten cents per pound, here fetches two dollars ! and every thing else in proportion. There is no coin in circulation, and these articles are therefore paid for by the independent mountain-men in beaverskins, buffalo-robes, etc.; and those who are hired to the companies, have them charged against their wages. I was somewhat amused by observing one of our newly-hired men' enter the tent and order, with the air of a man who knew he would not be refused, twenty dollars' worth of rum and ten dollars' worth of sugar, to treat two of his companions who were about leaving the rendezvous."

At the rendezvous a number of men belonging to Captain Wyeth's party left it to join re

turning parties ; but the diminution of numbers thus occasioned was made up for by the accession of about thirty Indians-Flatheads, Nez Perces, and others, with their wives, children, and dogs. These Indians joined the party in order to enjoy the benefit of its convoy through the tract of country infested by the Blackfeet Indians-a fierce and warlike race, the terror both of Indians and whites. Here also the party was joined by two English gentlemen roaming the prairies for amusement. At length, on thė 2d of July, the party bade adieu to the rendezvous, packed up their movables, and journeyed along the bank of the river. The horses were much recruited by the long rest and good pasture, and, like their masters, were in excellent spirits for renewing the route across the wilderness.

They had now reached the confines of the Rocky Mountains, from which originate the upper tributaries of the Missouri on the one side, and those of the Columbia on the other. The plains in this high region are more rugged and barren than in the lower territories, and occasionally present evidences of volcanic action, being thickly covered with masses of lava and high basaltic crags. The principal vegetation on the hills consists of small cedars, while on the plains nothing flourishes but the shrubhy

« ForrigeFortsæt »