« ForrigeFortsæt »
the news, made the proposition which had occurred to me. The Captain's reply was encouraging enough—Down with him, if
you please, Mr. Townsend, and let us have him for breakfast.' Accordingly, in five minutes afterward, a bullet sealed the fate of the unfortunate visitor, and my men were set to work, making fires and rummaging out the long-neglected stew-pans, while I engaged myself at once and with very considerable vigor in flaying the little animal, and cutting up his body in readiness
for the pots.
“When the camp was aroused, about an hour after, the savory steam of the cookery was rising and saluting the nostrils of our hungry people with its fragrance, who, rubbing their hands with delight, sat themselves down upon the ground, waiting with what patience they might for the unexpected repast which was preparing for them. It was to me almost equal to a good breakfast to witness the pleasure and satisfaction which I had been the means of diffusing through the camp. The repast was ready at length, and we did full justice to it; every man ate till he was filled, and all pronounced it one of the most delicious meals they had ever assisted in demolishing. When our breakfast was concluded, but little of the colt remained; that little was, however, carefully packed up and de
posited on one of the horses, to furnish at least a portion of another meal.
“In the afternoon of the same day, after a long march, we procured three small salmon from some Indians who were fishing on the Mallade river; and these, cooked along with a grouse, a beaver, and the remains of the pony, made a very savory mess.
While we were eating, we were visited by a Snake chief, a large and powerful man, of a peculiarly-dignified aspect and manner. He was naked, with the exception of a small blanket, which covered his shoulders, and descended to the middle of the back, being fastened around the neck with a silver skewer. As it was pudding time with us, our visitor was of course invited to sit down and eat; and he, nothing loth, deposited himself at once upon the ground, and made a remarkablyvigorous assault upon the mixed contents of the dish. He had not eaten long, however, before we perceived a sudden and inexplicable change in his countenance, which was instantly followed by a violent ejectment of a huge mouthful of our luxurious fare. The man rose slowly and with great dignity to his feet, and pronouncing the single word shekum-horse-ir a tone of mingled anger and disgust, stalked rapidly out of the camp, not even wishing us a good evening. It struck me as a singular instance of ac
curacy and discrimination in the organs of taste. We had been eating of the multifarious compound without being able to recognize by the taste a single ingredient which it contained ; a stranger came among us, who did not know, when he commenced eating, that the dish was formed of more than one item, and yet in less than five minutes he discovered one of the very least of its component parts."
The neighborhood of these Snake Indians was not very agreeable, for many reasons. Mr. Townsend paid a visit to their camp, and the description he gives of it does not lead one to conceive a high idea of savage life. “Early in the morning," he says, “I strolled into the Snake camp. It consists of about thirty lodges or wigwams, formed generally of branches of trees tied together in conic summit, and covered with buffalo, deer, or elk skins. Men and little children were lolling about the ground all around the wigwams, together with a heterogeneous assemblage of dogs, cats, some tamed prairie wolves, and other varmints. The dogs growled and snapped when I approached, the wolves cowered and looked cross, and the cats ran away and hid themselves in dark corners. They had not been accustomed to the face of a white man, and all the quadrupeds seemed to regard me as some monstrous production, more to be foared
than loved or courted. This dislike, however, did not appear to extend to the bipeds, for many of every age and sex gathered around me, and seemed to be examining me critically in all directions. The men looked complacently at me, the women, the dear creatures, smiled upon me, and the little naked, pot-bellied children crawled around my feet, examining the fashion of my hard shoes, and playing with the long fringes of my leathern inexpressibles. But I scarcely know how to commence a description of the camp, or to frame a sentence which will give an adequate idea of the extreme filth and horrific nastiness of the whole vicinity.
“Immediately as I entered the village, my olfactories were assailed by the most vile and mephitic odors, which I found to proceed chiefly from great piles of salmon entrails and garbage, which were lying festering and rotting in the sun around the very doors of the habitations. Fish, recent and half-dried, were scattered all over the ground under the feet of the dogs, wolves, and children; and others which had been split, were hanging on rude platforms, erected within the precincts of the camp. Some of the women were making their breakfast of the great red salmon eggs, as large as peas, and using a wooden spoon to convey them to their mouths. Occasionally, also, by way of varying
the repast, they would take a huge pinch of a drying fish, which was lying on the ground near them. Many of the children were similarly employed, and the little imps would also have hard contests with the dogs for a favorite morsel, the former roaring and blubbering, the latter yelping and snarling, and both rolling over and over together upon the savory soil. The whole economy of the lodges, and the inside and outside appearance, was of a piece with every thing else about them-filthy beyond description; the very skins which covered the wigwams were black and stiff with rancid salmon fat, and the dresses--if dresses they may be called-of the women were of the same color and consistence, from the same cause. These dresses are little square pieces of deer-skin, fastened with a thong around the loins, and reaching about half way to the knees; the rest of the person is entirely naked. Some of the women had little children clinging like bullfrogs to their backs, without being fastened, and in that situation extracting their lactiferous sustenance from the breast, which was thrown over the shoulders. It is almost needless to say that I did not remain long in the Snake camp; for, although I had been a considerable time estranged from the abodes of luxury, and had become somewhat accustomed to at least a partial as