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Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon and Columbia Rivers
Chapter VIII


ON the 6th of August, early in the morning, after making the chiefs a few presents, we proceeded, and had the singular good luck to get off with the Ion of only one paddle. As we left the beach, the sullen savages crowded to the water's edge, and in silence stood and gazed at us, as if reproaching themselves for their forbearance. As we proceeded, the banks of the river were literally lined with Indians. Having ascended about seven miles, we arrived at the falls—the great Columbia Falls, as they are generally called; but, from the high floods this year, they were scarcely perceptible, and we passed them without ever getting out of our canoes. In seasons of low water, however, the break or fall is about twenty feet high, and runs across the whole breadth of the river, in an oblique direction. The face of the country about this place is bare, rugged, and rocky, and, to our annoyance, every point was swarming with Indiana, all as anxious to get to us as we were to avoid them. Our exertions, and the want of sleep for the last three nights in succession, almost stupified us, and we were the more anxious to find some quiet resting-place for the night. We halted a short distance above the falls, and there encamped. The current was strong, and rapid the whole of this day. Course, north.

On the 6th, after passing a comfortless and almost sleepless night, owing to the crowd of Indians that had collected about us, we were on the water again before sunrise, stemming a strong and rapid current. About a mile from our last encampment, and opposite to a rocky island, the river Lowhum enters the Columbia on the east side. Its breadth is considerable, but the depth of water at its mouth is scarcely sufficient to float an Indian canoe, and over the rocky bottom it made a noise like thunder. Proceeding from this place, we observed, a short distance ahead, a very large camp of Indians, and in order to avoid them we crossed over towards the left shore; but found the current so powerful, that we had to lay our paddles aside and take to the lines. In this rather dangerous operation, we had frequently to scramble up among the rocks. Soon after, a few Indians volunteered their services to help us, and we found them very useful; but one of them, while conducting the line round a rock, endeavoured to cut it with a stone; he was detected, however, in the act, and just in time to prevent accident. Had the villain succeeded, not only the goods, but in all likelihood some lives would have been lost. The wind springing up, we hoisted sail; but found the experiment dangerous, owing to the rapidity of the current. We encamped at a late hour without seeing a single Indian. Course as yesterday.

On the 7th, early in the morning, we passed the river Day—not broad, but pretty deep, and distant about thirty miles from the river Lowhum. In all directions, the face of the country is one wide and boundless plain, with here and there some trifling inequalities, but not a tree nor bush to be seen. General course as yesterday.

On the 8th, after a quiet and comfortable night's rest, we embarked early; and hoisting sail with a fair wind, we scudded along at a good rate till two o'clock in the afternoon, when, all of a sudden, a squall overtook us and broke the mast of one of our canoes, which, in the hurry and confusion of the moment, filled with water, so that we had great difficulty in getting safe to shore.

The day being fine, we set about drying our things, and for that purpose began to spread them out, for every article had got thoroughly soaked; but this task we had no sooner commenced than the Indiana flocked about us in great numbers. We therefore soon perceived the impropriety and danger of exhibiting so great a temptation before their eyes. In a few minutes we were almost surrounded by bows and arrows, one volley of which might have extinguished the expedition for ever; and one of the fellows had the audacity to shoot an arrow into one of our bales, as a warning of what might follow. In short, we thought we could read in the savage expression of their countenancea some dark design; we therefore immediately commenced loading. Wet and dry were bundled together, and put into the canoes; and in order to amuse for a moment, and attract the attention of the crowd, I laid hold of an axe, and set it up at the distance of eighty yards, then taking up my rifle, drove a ball through it. This manoeuvre had the desired effect. While the Indians stood gazing with amazement at the hole in the axe, our people were not idle. We embarked and got off without a word on either side. Having reached a small, snug island near the Suppa river, we put ashore for the night Course as yesterday.

The 9th, we remained all day encamped drying the goods, and were visited only by the Indians in one canoe, who sold us a fine salmon.

On the 10th, at an early hour, we proceeded on our voyage, and met with no obstacle till the evening, when we arrived at the foot of a long and strong rapid, where we encamped near the mouth of a considerable river called Umatallow, which enters the Columbia here. This river takes its rise in a long range of blue mountains, which runs nearly east and west, and forms the northern boundary of the great Snake nation. Opposite to our encampment, on the west side, is situated a large mound or hill of considerable height, which, from its lonely situation and peculiar form, we called Dumbarton Castle. During this day we saw many Indians, all occupied in catch- lug salmon. Course as usual.

On the 11th we commenced ascending the rapid— a task which required all our skill and strength to accomplish; and paddles, poles, hauling lines, and carrying-straps were in requisition in turn, and yet half the day was consumed ere we got to the top. At the foot of this rapid, which is a mile in length, the river makes a quick bend to the east for about two miles, then comes gradually round again to the north from the head of the rapid. The channel of the river is studded on both sides with gloomy black rocks arranged like colonnades, for upwards of twenty miles. Here are some sandy islands also, on one of which we encamped; and a dark and cheerless encampment it was, surrounded and shaded by these gloomy heights.

On the 12th we left our camp early, and in a short time came to the colonnade rocks, which suddenly terminated in two huge bluffs, one on each side of the river, exactly opposite to each other, like monumental columns. The river between these bluffs lies right south and north. The banks of the river then become low with sand and gravel, and the plains open full to view again, particularly on the east side.

Close under the right bluff issues the meandering Walla-Walla, a beautiful little river, lined with weeping willows. It takes its rise in the blue mountains already, noticed. At the mouth of the Walla-Walla a large band of Indians were encamped, who expressed a wish that we should pass the day with them. We encamped accordingly; yet for some time not an Indian came near us, and those who had invited us to pass the day with them seemed to have gone away; so that we were at a loss what construction to put upon their shyness. But in the midst of our perplexity we perceived a great body of men issuing from the camp, all armed and painted, and preceded by three chiefs. The whole array came moving on in solemn and regular order till within twenty yards of our tent. Here the three chiefs harangued us, each in his turn; all the rest giving, every now and then, a vociferous shout of approbation when the speaker happened to utter some emphatical expression. The purport of these harangues was friendly, and as soon as the chiefs had finished they all sat down on the grass in a large circle, when the great calumet of peace was produced, and the smoking began. Soon after the women, decked in their best attire, and painted, arrived, when the dancing and singing commenced—the usual symbols of peace and friendship; and in this pleasing and harmonious mood they passed the whole day.

The men were generally tall, raw-boned, and well dressed; having all buffalo-robes, deer-skin leggings, very white, and most of them garnished with porcupine quills. Their shoes were also trimmed and painted red ;—altogether, their appearance indicated wealth. Their voices were strong and masculine, and their language differed from any we had heard before. The women wore garments of well dressed deer-skin down to their heels; many of them richly garnished with beads, higuas, and other trinkets—leggings and shoes similar to those of the men. Their faces were painted red.. On the whole, they differed widely in appearance from the piscatory tribes we had seen along the river. The tribes assembled on the present occasion were the Waila-Wallas, the Shaw Haptens, and the Cajouses; forming altogether about fifteen hundred souls. The Shaw Haptens and Cajouses, with part of the Walla-Wallas, were armed with guns, and the others with bows and arrows. The names of the principal chiefs were (in the order of the tribes) Tunimatapam, Quill-Quills-Tuck-a-Pesten, and Allowcatt. The plains were literally covered with horses, of which there could not have been less than four thousand in sight of the camp.

On the 13th, we prepared to be off as early as possible; but Tummatapam would not let us go till we had breakfasted on some fine fresh salmon. He told urn he would be at the forks before us. We then embarked, and continued our voyage. The banks on both sides of the river, above the Walla- Walls, are low, and the country agreeable. After passing three islands, we arrived at the forks late in the evening, and there encamped for the night. The crowd of Indians assembled at that place was immense, and among the rest was our friend Tmnmatapam. The Indians smoked, danced, and chanted all night, as usual, while we kept watch in turn.

On the 14th, early in the morning, what did we see waving triumphantly in the air, at the confluence of the two great branches, but a British flag, hoisted in the middle of the Indian camp, planted there by Mr. Thompson as he passed, with a written paper, laying claim to the country north of the forks, as British territory. This edict interdicted the subjects of other states from trading north of that station; and the Indians at first seemed to hint that we could not proceed up the north branch, and were rather disposed to prevent us, by saying, that Koo-Koo-Sint--meaning Mr. Thompson—had told them so, pointing at the same time to the south branch, as if to intimate that we might trade there. The chiefs likewise stated that Koo-Koo-Sint had given them such and such things, and among others the British flag, that they should see his commands respected; but that if Mr. Stuart would give them more than Koo-Koo-Sint had done, then be would be the greater chief, and might go where he pleased.

The opposition of the Indians on the present occasion suggested to our minds two things; first, that Mr. Thompson's motive for leaving us at the time he did was to turn the natives against us as he went along, with the view of preventing us from getting further to the north, where the North-West Company had posts of their own; and, secondly, that the tribes about the forks would prefer our going up the south branch, because then we would be in the midst of themselves. But it was our interest then to defeat these schemes, and so completely did we upset Mr. Thompson's plans, that I verily believe had he to pass there again, he would have some difficulty in effecting his purpose. Mr. Thompson's conduct reminds us of the husbandman and the snake in the fable. That he who had been received so kindly, treated so generously, and furnished so liberally by us, should have attempted to incite the Indians against us, in our helpless and almost forlorn state, was conduct which the world must condemn.

At the junction of the two great branches of the Columbia, the country, around is open and very pleasant, and seems to be a great resort, or general rendezvous, for the Indians on all important occasions. The south-east branch is known by the name of Lewis's River, the north by that of Clarke's, in hon6ur of the first adventurers. They are both large rivers, but the north branch is considerably the larger of the two. At the junction of their waters, Lewis's River has a muddy or milk-and-water appearance, and is warm; while Clarke's River is bluish, clear, and very cold. The difference of colour, like a dividing line between the two waters, continues for miles below their junction. These branches would seem, from a rough chart the Indians made us, to be of nearly equal length from the forks—perhaps 700 miles—widening from each other towards the mountains, where the distance between their sources may be 900 miles.

All the tributary rivers entering between this and the falls, a distance of 200 miles, are on the east side. The most important fishing place on the Columbia, after the long narrows, is here, or rather a little below this, towards the Umatallow. Yet although the salmon are very fine and large, weighing from fifteen to forty pounds each, they are not taken in the immense, quantities which some other countries boast of. A Columbian fisherman considers it a good day's work to kill 100 salmon, whereas, at the Copper- Mine River, a fisherman will kill 1000 a day; and a Kamtschatkan, it is said, will kill, with the same means, 10,000 a day; but if these countries can boast of numbers, the Columbia can boast of a better quality and larger size.

The only European articles seen here with the Indians, and with which they seemed perfectly contented, were guns, and here and there a kettle,, or a knIfe; and, indeed, the fewer the better. They require but little, and the more they get of our manufacture the more unhappy will they be, as the possession of one article naturally creates a desire for another, so that they are never satisfied.

In the afternoon the chiefs held a council, at which Mr. Stuart and myself were present. It was then finally settled that we might proceed up the north branch, and that at all times we might count upon their friendship. This being done, Tummatapam came to our tent, smoked a pipe, and took supper with us; and as he was going off, Mr. Stuart presented him with a suit of his own clothes, which highly pleased the great man. The Indians having retired, we set the watch for the night as usual.

Tummatapam is a middle-aged man, well featured, and of a very agreeable countenance; and what is still better, he is, to all appearance, a good man, was very kind to us, and rendered us considerable service; but the other two chiefs appeared to take precedence of him in all matters of importance.

On the 16th, we left the forks and proceeded up the north branch, which to the eye is as broad and deep here as below the forks. About twelve miles up, a small river entered on the west side, called Eyakema. The landscape at the mouth of the Eyakema surpassed in picturesque beauty anything we had yet seen. Here three Walla-Walla Indians overtook us on horseback, and to our agreeable surprise delivered us a bag of shot which we had left by mistake at our encampment of last night—a convincing proof that there is honesty among Indiana; and if I recollect well, a similar circumstance, attesting the probity of the Walla-Wallas, occurred when Lewis and Clarke passed there in 1805. We saw but few Indians to-day, and in the evening we encamped without a night watch, for the first time since we left Astoria. General course, north.

On the 17th, we were paddling along at daylight. On putting on shore to breakfast,, four Indians on horseback joined us. The moment they alighted, one set about hobbling their horses, another to gather small sticks, a third to make a fire, and the fourth to catch fish. For this purpose, the fisherman cut off a bit of his leathern shirt, about the size of a small bean; then pulling out two or three hairs from his horse's tall for a line, tied the bit of leather to one end of it, in place of a hook or fly. Thus prepared, he entered the river a little way, sat down on a stone, and began throwing the small fish, three or four inches long, on shore, just as fast as he Pleased; and while he was thus employed, another picked them, up and threw them towards the fire, while the third stuck them up round it in a circle, on small sticks; and they were no sooner up than roasted. The fellows then sitting down, swallowed them—heads, tails, bones, guts, fins, and all, in no time, just as one would swallow the yolk of an egg. Now all this was but the work of a few minutes; and before our man had his kettle ready for the fire, the Indians were already eating their breakfast. When the fish had hold of the bit of wet leather, or bait, their teeth got entangled in it, so as to give time to jerk them on shore, which was to us a new mode of angling; fire produced by the friction of two bits of wood was also a novelty; but what surprised us most of all, was the regularity with which they proceeded, and the quickness of the whole process, which actually took them less time to perform, than it has taken me to note it down.

Soon after passing the Eyakema, a long range of marl hills interrupts the view on the east side • of the river. Here two dead children were presented to us by their parents, in order that we might restore them to life again, and a horse was offered us as the reward. We pitied their ignorance, made them a small present, and told them to bury their dead. As we advanced along the marl hills, the river inclined gradually to the N.W. After a good day's work, we stopped for the night near a small camp of Indians, who were very friendly to us. Here and there were to be seen, on small eminences, burial-places. The dead are interred, and a few small sticks always point out the cemetery.

On the 18th, we reached the end of the marl hills. Just at this place the river makes a bend right south for about ten miles, when a high and rugged hill confines it on our left. Here the increasing rapidity of the current gave us intimation that we were not far from some obstruction ahead; and as we advanced a little under the brow of the bill, a strong and rocky rapid presented itself in the very bend of the river. Having ascended it about half way, we encamped for the night.

Here a large concourse of Indians met us, and after several friendly harangues, commenced the usual ceremony of smoking the pipe of peace: after which they passed the night in dancing and singing. The person who stood foremost in all these introductory ceremonies, was a tall, meagre, middle-aged Indian, who attached himself very closely to us from the first moment we saw him. He was called Haqui-laugh, which signifies doctor, or rather priest; and as this personage will be frequently mentioned in the sequel of our narrative, we have been thus particular in describing him. We named the place "Priest's Rapid," after him.

The name of the tribe is Ska-moy-num-acks; they appear numerous and well affected towards the whites. From the Priest's Rapid, in a direct line by land to the mouth of the UmatalIow, the distance is very short, owing to the great bend of the river between the two places.

The Priest's Rapid is more than a mile in length, and is a dangerous and intricate part of the navigation. The south side, although full of rocks and small channels, through which the water rushes with great violence, is the best to ascend.

On the 19th, early in the morning, we started, but found the channel so frequently obstructed with rocks, whirlpools, and eddies, that we had much difficulty in making any headway. Crossing two small portages, we at length, however, reached the head of it, and there encamped for the night, after a very hard day's labour, under a burning sun. From the head of the Priest's Rapid, the river opens again due north.

The ground here is everywhere full, covered with flat stones, and wherever these stones lie, and indeed elsewhere, the rattlesnakes are very numerous. At times they may be heard hissing all around, so that we had to keep a sharp look-out to avoid treading on them; but the natives appeared to have no dread of them. As soon as one appears, the Indians fix its head to the ground with a small forked stick round the neck, then extracting the fang or poisonous part, they take the reptile into their hands, put it into their bosoms, play with it, and let it go again. When any one is bitten by them, the Indians tie a ligature above the wounded part, scarify it, and then apply a certain herb to the wound, which they say effectually cures it.

On the 20th we left the Priest's Rapid, and proceeded against a strong ripply current and some small rapids, for ten miles, when we reached two lofty and conspicuous bluffs, situate directly opposite to each other, like the piers of a gigantic gate, between which the river flowed smoothly. Here we staid for the night, on some rocks infested with innumerable rattlesnakes, which caused us not a little uneasiness during the night. From this place due east, the distance, in a direct line, to the marl hills left on the 18th is very short At the southern angle of this fiat is situated the Priest's Rapid, which we left this morning. Course, north.

Early on the 21st, we were again on the water. The country on the east side is one boundless rough and barren plain; but on the west, the rocks, after some distance, close in to the water's edge, steep and rugged, and the whole country behind is studded with towering heights and rocks, giving the whole face of the country, in that direction, a bleak, broken, and mountainous appearance. We saw but few natives to-day, but those few were very friendly to us. Towards evening we put ashore for the night, at a late hour. General course, north.

On the 22nd we left our camp early, and soon reached the foot of a very intricate and dangerous rapid, so full of rocks that at some little distance off the whole channel of the river, from side to side, seemed to be barred across, and the stream to be divided into narrow channels, whirlpools, and eddies, through which we had to pass. At the entrance of one of these channels, a whirlpool caught one of the canoes, and after whirling her round and round several times, threw her out of the channel altogether into a chain of cascades, down which she went, sometimes the stem, sometimes stern foremost. In this critical manner she descended to the foot of the rapids, and at last stuck fast upon a rock, when, after much trouble and danger, we succeeded in throwing lines to the men, and ultimately got all safe to shore. Here we encamped for the night, and spent the remainder of the day in drying the goods, mending the canoe, and examining the rapid.

On the 23rd we again commenced ascending, and found on the right-hand side a neck of land, where we made a portage: from thence we towed ourselves among the rocks, from one to another, until we reached the bead of the rapid, and a most gloomy and dismal rapid it was. Both sides of the river at this place is rocky, and in no part of the Columbia is the view more confined. A death-like gloom seems to hang over the glen. This rapid, which is called Ke-waugh-tohen, after the tribe of Indians inhabiting the place, who call themselves Ke-waugh-tohen-emachs, is about thirty miles distant from the Priest's Rapid.

Having got clear of the rapid early in the day, we proceeded on a smooth current for some little distance, when the river makes a short bend nearly west. Here, on the south side, were observed two pillars on the top of an eminence, standing erect side by aide, which we named the Two Sisters. They proved to be of limestone, and at a little distance very much resembled two human figures. From the Two Sisters, the river turns to the north again, where once more we had a sight of the open country. Nature, in these gloomy defiles just passed through, wears the dreary aspect of eternal winter. On the west, the hills are clothed with woods; but on the cast side, the plains are bleak and barren. On a beautiful green spot, near a small Indian camp, we put ashore and passed the night. Here the priest, for the reader must know he had still followed us, introduced us to a friendly Indian, called Ma-chykea-etsa, or the Walking Bear. This gray-headed, little, old man made us comprehend that he had seen eighty-four winters or snows, as he expressed himself —he looked very old, but was still active, and walked well.

On the 24th we embarked early; and soon reached the mouth of Pisseow's river, a beautiful stream, which empties itself into the Columbia, through a low valley, skirted on each side by high hills. Its mouth, in the present high state of the water, is eighty yards broad. Here the Indians met us in great numbers, and vied with each other in acts of kindness. Sopa, the chief, made us a present of two horses, and others offered some for sale. We purchased four, giving for each one yard of print and two yards of red gartering, which was so highly prized by them that horses from all quarters were brought to us; but we declined buying any more, not knowing what to do with them. Our six horses were now delivered over in charge to the priest, who was to proceed with them by land.

The higher we ascend the river, the more friendly and well disposed are the aborigines towards us. Sopa invited us to pass the day with him, which we did, and were highly gratified to see the natives hunt the wild deer on horseback. They killed several head of game close to our camp, and we got a two- days' supply of venison from them. Sopa and his tribe kept smoking, dancing, and singing the whole night, and at every pause ..a loud and vociferous exclamation was uttered, denoting that they were happy now. The whites had visited their land, poverty and misery would no longer be known amongst them; we passed the night without keeping watch.

On the 25th we left Piascows, and proceeded on our voyage, passing another small river, named Intycook, and from thence to Oak Point, at the foot of a steep crag, where we passed the night.

Early in the morning of the 26th we left our encampment, but the stream becoming more and more rapid, we advanced but slowly, and towards evening had a good deal of pulling or hauling to ascend White- hill rapid, where the river, almost barred across by a ledge of low flat rocks, makes several quick bends. The west side is mountainous and gloomy to the water's edge. Encamping at the head of the rapid, we passed a quiet night, nor did a single Indian trouble us. Here we saw the ibex, the white musk goat, and several deer, and supped on a half devoured salmon, which a white-headed eagle had very opportunely taken out of the river. Course, north.

On the 27th we started early, and about ten o'clock passed a small but rapid stream, called by the natives Tsill-ane, which descended over the rocks in 'white broken sheets. The Indians told us it took its rise in a lake not far distant. From Tsill-ane, the hills on the west side receded, and the river became smooth. Meeting with some Indians, we put ashore, and the priest, with his horses, joining us soon after, we passed the night together. Here we got some salmon, roots, and berries from the Indians, which proved a very seasonable supply. The Indians were very friendly, communicative, and intelligent.

On the 28th, after despatching the priest with his charge, we left our camp and pursued our voyage against a strong current. The country on both sides was open, and the banks of the river low, yet many rapid places detained us long, and this detention was increased by a strong head-wind, which so fatigued us that we halted early. On our way to-day, we saw many deer and some beavers swimming about, but they were very shy.

On the 29th we reached the foot of a short but strong rapid, where the river abruptly veers round to east. Opposite to this rapid enters a tributary stream, which the Indians call Buttle-mule-emauch, or Salmon-fall River. It is less than the Pisscows, shallow, and full of stones, having its source near the foot of some lofty, mountain not far distant. After making a discharge, we got over the rapid, and encamped for the night. Here the Indians assembled in friendly crowds, according to their usual habit— presented us with abundance of salmon, offered many horses for sale, and were in all other respects exceedingly kind. Here also they invited us to remain, to build, and to winter among them: they said their country abounded in beaver, nor should we want for provisions.

On the 30th, just as we were pushing off from the shore early in the morning, a large band of Indians, all mounted on horseback, arrived at our camp: we immediately put about to receive them, which was no sooner done than harangue after harangue, smoking, and speechifying commenced; and after one party, another arrived, so that we were absolutely obliged to remain the whole day where we were.

From the strangers we learned that there were whites before us, but a long way off. The Indians showed us a gun, tobacco, and some other articles, which they said had been purchased from the whites ahead, which confirmed the report. We therefore at once suspected that it must be a party of the North-Westerns; and here Mr. Stuart, for the first time, began to think of finding a suitable place to winter in.

On the 31st, we parted early from our friendly visitors, and shaping our course in an easterly direction along the bend of the river, we pushed on for about nine miles till we reached the mouth of a smooth stream called Oakinacken, which we ascended for about two miles, leaving the main Columbia for the first time, and then pitched our tents for the night. A great concourse of Indians followed us all day, and encamped with us. After acquainting them with the object of our visit to their country, they strongly urged us to settle among them. For some time, however, Mr. Stuart resisted their pressing solicitations, chiefly with the view of trying their sincerity; but, at last consenting, the chiefs immediately held a council, and then pledged themselves to be always our friends, to kill us plenty of beavers, to furnish us at all times with provisions,, and to ensure our protection and safety.

During this afternoon we observed, for the first time, about 200 above the horizon, and almost due west, a very brilliant comet, with a tail about 100 long. The Indians at once said it was placed there by the Good Spirit—which they called Skom-malt-squisses—to announce to them the glad tidings of our arrival; and the omen impressed them with a reverential awe for us, implying that we had been sent to them by the Good Spirit, or Great Mother of Life.

On the 1st of September 1811, we embarked, and descending the Oakinacken again, landed on a level spot, within half a mile of its mouth. There we unloaded, took our canoes out of the water, and pitched our tents—which operation concluded our long and irksome voyage of forty-two days.

The mouth of the Oakinacken is situate 600 miles up the Columbia, and enters it through a low level plain, a mile wide. This plain is surrounded on all sides by high hills, so that in no direction does the view extend far.

The source of the Oakinacken is 280 miles due north, and in its course south the stream runs through three lakes: near its junction with the Columbia, it is hemmed in on the cast by a sloping range of high rocky hills, at the foot of which the two rivers meet. On the south bank of the Oakinanken, half a mile from its mouth, was the site pitched upon for the new establishment.

The general aspect of the surrounding country is barren and dreary. On the west the hills are clothed with thick woods—a dense forest: on the south and east, the scene is bare; but to the north the banks of the river were lined with the willow and poplar, and the valley through which it meanders presents a pleasing landscape.

Here it may be remarked, that all the tributary rivers from this place to the falls, a distance of 200 miles, enter on the right-hand, or west, side of the Columbia, having their sources in the lofty range of mountains which terminates at the great narrows, as noticed by me on the 4th of August; so that from this point, or rather a few miles below this, the Columbia runs south to the narrows; nor is the distance from this place to the Pacific, in a direct line due west by land, far off: If we can rely on Indian report, it is not 150 miles.

Soon after the tent was pitched, the priest arrived with his horses all safe. In the course of the day, Mr. Stuart missed his time-piece, which had been stolen out of the tent: a general search was made, and the watch was found, by hearing it strike, although concealed under the dry sand in the face of the bank. The theft was traced to the holy man, the priest, which circumstance greatly lessened the high opinion we had formed of him. On this discovery being made, he was paid for his services and dismissed.

This little incident taught us that, however strong might be the friendly professions of the natives, it was still necessary to guard against their pilfering propensities.

In the account of our voyage, I have been silent as to the two strangers who cast up at Astoria, and accompanied us from thence; l*it have noticed already, that instead of being man and wife, as they at first gave us to understand, they were in fact both women—and bold adventurous amazons they were. In accompanying us, they sometimes shot ahead, and at other times loitered behind, as suited their plans. The stories they gave out among the unsuspecting and credulous natives, as they passed, were well calculated to astonish as well as to attract attention. Brought up, as they had been, near the whites—who rove, trap, and trade in the wilderness— they were capable of practising all the arts of well- instructed cheats; and, to effect their purpose the better, they showed the Indians an old letter, which they made a handle of, and told them that they had been sent by the great white chief, with a message to apprize the natives in general that gifts, consisting of goods and implements of all kinds, were forthwith to be poured in upon them; that the great white chief knew their wants, and was just about to supply them with everything their hearts could desire; that the whites had hitherto cheated the Indians, by selling goods in place of making presents to them, as directed by the great white chief. These stories, so agreeable to the Indian ear, were circulated far and wide; and not only received as truths, but procured so much celebrity for the two cheats, that they were the objects of attraction at every village and camp on the way: nor could we, for a long time, account for the cordial reception they met with from the natives, who loaded them for their good tidings with the most valuable articles they possessed—horses, robes, leather, and higuas; so that, on our arrival at Oakinacken, they had no less than twenty-six horses, many of them loaded with the fruits of their false reports.

As soon as we could get the distant tribes, who had come to welcome our arrival, dismissed, we commenced erecting a small dwelling-house, sixteen by twenty feet, chiefly constructed of drift wood, being more handy and easier got than standing timber; but, while the building was in a half-finished state, Messrs. Pullet and M'Lennan, with two men, were despatched to Astoria, as had been agreed upon. Mr. Stuart, with Montigny and the two remaining men, set of on a journey towards the north, or head waters of the Oakinacken, intending to return in the course of a month; while I was to remain alone at the establishment till Mr. Stuart's return; my only civilized companion being a little Spanish pet dog from Monterey, called Weasel

Only picture to yourself; gentle reader, how I must have felt, alone in this unhallowed wilderness, without friend or white man within hundreds of miles of me, and surrounded by savages who had never seen a white man before. Every day seemed a week, every night a month. I pined, I languished, my head turned gray, and in a brief space ten years were added to my age. Yet man is born to endure, and my only consolation was in my Bible.

The first thing I did after my friends left me, was to patch up the house a little, and put the few goods I had, so tempting to Indins, into a kind of cellar which I made in the middle of the house. This done, I set to in earnest to learn the Indian language, and wrote vocabulary after vocabulary; and although the task was a hard one, I soon found, from my progress, that perseverance would overcome many difficulties.

The novelty of white men, and particularly of a white man alone, drew crowds of inquisitive Indians about the place. I mixed with them, traded with them, and at last began to talk with them, and from a constant intercourse soon came to understand them; but still the evenings were long, and the winter dreary. Every night before going to bed I primed my gun and pistol anew, and barricaded the door of my lonely dwelling; and the Indians, friendly inclined,' always withdrew from the house at dusk; yet they had often alarms among themselves, and often gave me to understand that enemies, or ill-disposed Indians, were constantly lurking about; and whenever they began to whoop or yell in the night, which they frequently did, I of course partook of the alarm.

One night I was suddenly awakened out my sleep by the unusual noise and continual barking of Weasel, running backwards and forwards through' the house. Half asleep, half awake, I felt 'greatly agitated and alarmed. My faithful gun and pistol' were at hand, for they lay always at my side in bed; but then all was dark, I could see nothing, could hear nothing but the barking of Weasel, which was continually growing louder and louder. I then thought there must be somebody in the house; for I was ready to put the worst construction on appearances. In this perplexing dilemma I got my hand, with as little noise as possible, to the muzzle of my gun, and gradually drawing out the ramrod, tried, with my right' arm stretched' out, to' stir up the' embers, so that I might see; but here again a new, danger presented itself; I was exposing myself as a mark to a ball or an arrow, without the chance of 'defending myself, for the light would show me' to the enemy before I could see my object; but there was no alternative, and something must be done. Between hope and despair I managed to stir" up the ashes, so that I could see little Weasel running to and fro to the cellar-door. I concluded that the enemy must be skulking in the cellar. I then, but not without difficulty,. got a candle lighted. Hiding the candle in my left hand, I laid hold of my pistol. With the lynx-eye and wary step of a cat ready to pounce on its prey, I advanced rather obliquely, with my right arm stretched out at fill length holding the cocked 'pistol, till I got to the cellar-door, the little dog all the while making a furious noise; when, lo! what was there but a skunk sitting on a roll of tobacco! The shot blew it almost to atoms, and so delicately perfumed everything in the house that I was scarcely able to live in it for days afterwards; but that was not A the trivial incident was productive of very bad conaequeue. Several hundreds of Indians being encamped about the place at the time, no sooner did they see the light, or bear the shot, than they all rushed into the house, thinking something serious may have happened. So far, however, there were no great harm; but when they beheld two rolls of tobacco and two small bales of goods, it appeared a wealth in their eyes that they could scarcely recover from the surprise. These tempting articles I had endeavoured all along to keep as much as possible out of their sight, and dealt them out with a sparing hand, and as long as the Indians did not see them in bulk all went well; but after the overwhelming exhibition of so much property there was no satisfying them. They became importunate and troublesome for some time, and caused me much anxiety. The time fixed for Mr. Stuart's return had now arrived, and I most anxiously looked for him every hour. Often had I reason to curse the intrusion of the skunk into my house. After some time, however, things settled down again to their usual level, and good order and good feelings were again renewed between us.

October had now passed by and November also, but no Mr. Stuart came, and various reports were circulated by the Indians as to his fate; and I myself now began t& despair of his return. The delay of Mr. Stuart's party had a visible effect on the conduct of the Indians; they became more bold, neglected their hunting, and loitered about the place, as if in expectation of some sudden change. Strange Indians were every day swelling the camp; they held councils, too; altogether, they were a changed people.

Seeing this unfavourable change fast spreading among the Indians, in consequence of Mr. Stuart's delay, I set about counteracting it. I assembled all the chiefs and other great men, and' after smoking the pipe of friendship, told them not to be uneasy at Mr. Stuart's absence; that I could easily account for it; that finding the country rich in furs as he went along, and the Indians peaceable and well disposed, he had most probably gone off to the white men's land for more goods, and would be back early with a rich supply and many people, so that all their wants would be satisfied; that those who hunted best would get most; that they had better exert themselves in hunting and procuring furs; that their success would entitle them to the favour of Mr. Stuart and the great white chief; and that I would not fall to represent their conduct in the fairest light. This harangue had the desired effect. The Indians set to hunting in earnest, and kept bringing in furs regularly, and in other respects behaved exceedingly well during the whole of the winter.

Thus I wished to make them believe what I did not believe myself, because in my critical situation safety required it. But to return to Mr. Stuart: December now was passed, and the new year of 1812 ushered in; but still there was no account of the absent party. January passed, and likewise February, but no Mr. Stuart; nor was it till the 22nd of March that little Weasel announced, early in the morning, the approach of strangers, and I was rejoiced to meet again at my lonely dwelling my long-expected friends all safe and well.

During Mr. Stuart's absence of 188 days I had procured 1550 beavers, besides other peltries, worth in the Canton market 2,250l. sterling, and which on an average stood the concern in but 5½d. a piece, valuing the merchandize at sterling cost, or in round numbers 35l. sterling; a specimen of our trade among the Indians!

Here follows Mr. Stuart's account of his journey: - "After leaving this place," said he, "we bent our course up the Oakinacken, due north, for upwards of 250 miles, till we reached its source; then crossing a height of land fell upon Thompson's River, or rather the south branch of Fra8er's River, after travelling for some time amongst a powerful nation called the She Whaps. The snow fell while we were here in the mountain, and precluded our immediate return; and after waiting for fine weather the snows got so deep that we considered it hopeless to attempt getting back, and, therefore, passed our time with the She Whaps and other tribes in that quarter. The Indians were numerous and well disposed, and the country throughout abounds in beavers and all other kinds of fur; and I have made arrangements to establish a trading post there the ensuing winter. On the 26th of February we began our homeward journey, and spent just twenty-five days on our way back. The distance may be about 350 miles."


 


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