MR. HARDISTY, the Hudson's
Bay officer who had brought father across the plains thus far, soon made
arrangements for our continuing our journey westward. He furnished us with
horses and saddles and a tent, and also a man as a guide. Swimming our
horses across the north Saskatchewan opposite the fort, and crossing
ourselves and saddles in a boat, we saddled up and packed our one pack-horse
and set out up the big hill, ascending it with more ease than the American I
once met at the top of it, who said to me, "That is the mostest biliousest
hill I ever did climb."
We were now on the north side
of the north Saskatchewan, and away we went at the orthodox jog-trot for
Fort Pitt, the next post in the chain established by the Hudson's Bay
Our guide was an old man with
the name of La Gress, or as the Indians called him, "Grease." Mr. Hardisty
had said of him, "He is a good traveller and a quick cook," all of which we
found to be true.
He was small and wiry, and
sat his horse as if he had grown there.
When on the jog his little
legs incessantly moved, and his pipe seemed to everlastingly smoke.
He had been to Red River and
had crossed the mountains several times, had been on the plains and in the
north, had been chased many a time by the enemy, had starved and almost
perished once for the lack of food on one of his trips.
He was the man of whom it is
told that as he sat picking the bones of a raven, he vehemently maintained
to his partner that "this was a clean bird," Indeed our guide was a man full
of adventure and travel; to me he was full of interest, and I plied him with
questions as we jogged side by side through the country.
And what a country this was
we were riding through—bluff and plain, valley and hill, lake and stream,
beautiful nook, and then grand vistas covering great areas! Every little
while father would say, "What a future this has before it!"
We rode through the Thickwood
Hills. We skirted the Bear's-paddling Lake. We passed the springs into which
tradition said the buffalo disappeared and came out from occasionally.
Trotting by Jack-fish Lake, on for miles through most magnificent land and
grass and wood and water, we crossed the valley of the Turtle River. We rode
at the foot of Red Deer Hill and Frenchman's Butte, where in 1885—just
twenty-three years later—our troops retreated before an unknown and
practically invisible foe.
We picked up Peter Erasmus,
who was associated with the Rev. Henry Steinhauer, and was now freighting
for the latter from Red River to White-fish Lake. Peter was, and is, an "A1"
interpreter, and father concluded to take him on as guide and interpreter
for the rest of our journey.
We ate up all the rations;
consisting of a ham of buffalo meat and a chunk of hard grease. This we
accomplished the last day at noon, and we rode into Fort Pitt the evening of
the fourth day from Carlton, having averaged about fifty miles per day,
which was not so bad for men new to the saddle.