Townsend's Across the Rockies to the Columbia


CHAPTER VI

Departure of the hunting camp - A false alarm - Blackfeet Indians - their ferocity - Requisites of a mountain-man - Good fare, and good appetites - An experiment - Grizzly bears - Visit of a Nez Perce Indian - Adventure with a grizzly bear - Hunter's anecdotes - Homeward bound - Accident from gunpowder - Arrival at "Fort Hall" - A salute - Emaciation of some of the party from low diet - Mr. McKay's company - Buffalo lodges - Progress of the building - Effects of judicious training - Indian worship - A "Camp Meeting" - Mr. Jason Lee, a favorite - A fatal accident and a burial.

July 16th.- Our little hunting party of twelve men, rode out of the encampment this morning, at a brisk trot, which gait was continued until we arrived at our late encampment on Ross' creek, having gone about thirty miles, Here we came to a halt, and made a hearty meal on a buffalo which we had just killed. While we were eating, a little Welshman, whom we had stationed outside our camp to watch the horses, came running to us out of breath, crying in a terrified falsetto, "Indians, Indians!" In a moment every man was on his feet, and his gun in his hand; the horses were instantly surrounded, by Richardson 's direction, and driven into the bushes, and we were preparing ourselves for the coming struggle, when our hunter, peering out of the thick copse to mark the approach of the enemy, burst at once into a loud laugh, and muttering something about a Welsh coward, stepped boldly from his place of concealment, and told us to follow him. When we had done so, we perceived the band approaching steadily, and it seemed warily, along the path directly in our front. Richardson said something to them in an unknown tongue, which immediately brought several of the strangers towards us at full gallop. One of these was a Canadian, as his peculiar physiognomy, scarlet sash, and hat ribbons of gaudy colors, clearly proved, and the two who accompanied him, were Indians. These people greeted us with great cordiality, the more so, perhaps, as they had supposed, on seeing the smoke from our fire, that we were a band of Blackfeet, and that, therefore, there was no alternative for them but to fight. While we were conversing, the whole party, of about thirty, came up, and it needed but a glance at the motley group of tawdrily dressed hybrid boys, and blanketted Indians, to convince us that this was McKay's company travelling on to join him at Fort Hall.

They inquired anxiously about their leader, and seemed pleased on being informed that he was so near; the prospect of a few days' rest at the fort, and the regale by which their arrival was sure to be commemorated, acted upon the spirits of the mercurial young half-breeds, like the potent liquor which they expected soon to quaff in company with the kindred souls who were waiting to receive them.

They all seemed hungry, and none required a second invitation to join us at our half finished meal. The huge masses of savoury fleece meat, hump-ribs, and side-ribs disappeared, and were polished with wonderful dispatch; the Canadians ate like half famished wolves, and the sombre Indians, although slower and more sedate in their movements, were very little behind their companions in the agreeable process of mastication.

The next day we rode thirty-four miles, and encamped on a pretty little stream, fringed with willows, running through the midst of a large plain. Within a few miles, we saw a small herd of buffalo, and six of our company left the camp for a hunt. In an hour two of them returned, bringing the meat of one animal. We all commenced work immediately, cutting it in thin slices, and hanging it on the bushes to dry. By sundown, our work was finished, and soon after dark, the remaining hunters came in, bringing the best parts of three more. This will give us abundance of work for to-morrow, when the hunters will go out again.

Richardson and Sansbury mention having seen several Blackfeet Indians to-day, who, on observing them, ran rapidly away, and, as usual, concealed themselves in the bushes. We are now certain that our worst enemies are around us, and that they are only waiting for a favorable time and opportunity to make an attack. They are not here for nothing, and have probably been dogging us, and reconnoitering our outposts, so that the greatest caution and watchfulness will be required to prevent a surprise. We are but a small company, and there may be at this very moment hundreds within hearing of our voices.

The Blackfoot is a sworn and determined foe to all white men, and he has often been heard to declare that he would rather hang the scalp of a "pale face" to his girdle, than kill a buffalo to prevent his starving. The hostility of this dreaded tribe is, and has for years been, proverbial. They are, perhaps, the only Indians who do not fear the power, and who refuse to acknowledge the superiority of the white man; and though so often beaten in conflicts with them, even by their own mode of warfare, and generally with numbers vastly inferior, their indomitable courage and perseverance still urges them on to renewed attempts; and if a single scalp is taken, it is considered equal to a great victory, and is hailed as a presage of future and more extensive triumphs.

It must be acknowledged, however, that this determined hostility does not originate solely in savage malignity, or an abstract thirst for the blood of white men; it is formented and kept alive from year to year by incessant provocatives on the part of white hunters, trappers, and traders, who are at best but intruders on the rightful domains of the red man of the wilderness. Many a night have I sat at the camp-fire, and listened to the recital of bloody and ferocious scenes, in which the narrators were the actors, and the poor Indians the victims, and I have felt my blood tingle with shame, and boil with indignation, to hear the diabolical acts applauded by those for whose amusement they were related. Many a precious villain, and merciless marauder, was made by these midnight tales of rapine, murder, and robbery; many a stripling, in whose tender mind the seeds of virtue and honesty had never germinated, burned for an opportunity of loading his packhorse with the beaver skins of some solitary Blackfoot trapper, who was to be murdered and despoiled of the property he had acquired by weeks, and perhaps months, of toil and danger.

Acts of this kind are by no means unfrequent, and the subjects of this sort of atrocity are not always the poor and despised Indians: white men themselves often fall by the hands of their companions, when by good fortune and industry they have succeeded in loading their horses with fur. The fortunate trapper is treacherously murdered by one who has eaten from the same dish and drank from the same cup, and the homicide returns triumphantly to his camp with his ill gotten property. If his companion be inquired for, the answer is that some days ago they parted company, and he will probably soon join them.

The poor man never returns - no one goes to search for him - he is soon forgotten, or is only remembered by one more steadfast than the rest, who seizes with avidity the first opportunity which is afforded, of murdering an unoffending Indian in revenge for the death of his friend.

On the 20th, we moved our camp to a spot about twelve miles distant, where Richardson, with two other hunters, stopped yesterday and spent the night. They had killed several buffalo here, and were busily engaged in preparing the meat when we joined them. They gave us a meal of excellent cow's flesh, and I thought I never had eaten anything so delicious. Hitherto we have had only the bulls which are at this season poor and rather unsavory, but now we are feasting upon the best food in the world.

It is true we have nothing but meat and good cold water, but this is all we desire: we have excellent appetites, no dyspepsia, clear heads, sharp ears, and high spirits, and what more does a man require to make him happy?

We rise in the morning with the sun, stir up our fires, and roast our breakfast, eating usually from one to two pounds of meat at a morning meal. At ten o'clock we lunch, dine at two, sup at five, and lunch at eight, and during the night-watch commonly provide ourselves with two or three "hump-ribs" and a marrow bone, to furnish employment and keep the drowsy god at a distance.

Our present camp is a beautiful one. A rich and open plain of luxuriant grass, dotted with buffalo in all directions, a high picturesque hill in front, and a lovely stream of cold mountain water flowing at our feet. On the borders of this stream, as usual, is a dense belt of willows, and under the shade of these we sit and work by day, and sleep soundly at night. Our meat is now dried upon scaffolds constructed of old timber which we find in great abundance upon the neighboring hill. We keep a fire going constantly, and when the meat is sufficiently dried, it is piled on the ground, preparatory to being baled.

21st. The buffalo appear even more numerous than when we came, and much less suspicious than common. The bulls frequently pass slowly along within a hundred yards of us, and toss their shaggy and frightful looking heads as though to warn us against attacking or approaching them.

Towards evening, to-day, I walked out with my gun, in the direction of one of these prowling monsters, and .the ground in his vicinity being covered densely with bushes, I determined to approach as near him as possible, in order to try the efficacy of a ball planted directly in the centre of the forehead. I had heard of this experiment having been tried without success and I wished to ascertain the truth for myself.

"Taking the wind " of the animal, as it is called, (that is, keeping to leeward, so that my approach could not be perceived by communicating a taint to the air,) I crawled on my hands and knees with the utmost caution towards my victim. The unwieldy brute was quietly and unsuspiciously cropping the herbage, and I had arrived to within feet of him, when a sudden flashing of the eye, and an impatient motion, told me that I was observed. He raised his enormous head, and looked around him, and so truly terrible and grand did he appear, that I must confess, (in your ear,) I felt awed, almost frightened, at the task I had undertaken. But I had gone too far to retreat; so, raising my gun, I took deliberate aim at the bushy centre of the forehead, and fired. The monster shook his head, pawed up the earth with his hoofs, and making a sudden spring, accompanied by a terrific roar, turned to make his escape. At that instant, the ball from the second barrel penetrated his vitals, and he measured his huge length upon the ground. In a few seconds he was dead. Upon examining the head, and cutting away the enormous mass of matted hair and skin which enveloped the skull, my large bullet of twenty to the pound, was found completely flattened against the bone, having carried with it, through the interposing integument, a considerable portion of the coarse hair, but without producing the smallest fracture. I was satisfied; and taking the tongue, (the hunter's perquisite,) I returned to my companions.

This evening the roaring of the bulls in the gang near us is terrific, and these sounds are mingled with the howling of large packs of wolves, which regularly attend upon them, and the hoarse screaming of hundreds of ravens flying over head. The dreaded grizzly bear is also quite common in this neighborhood; two have just been seen in some bushes near, and they visit our camp almost every night, attracted by the piles of meat which are heaped all around us. The first intimation we have of his approach is a great grunt or snort, unlike any sound I ever heard, but much more querulous than fierce; then we hear the scraping and tramping of his huge feet, and the snuffing of his nostrils, as the savory scent of the meat is wafted to them. He approaches nearer and nearer, with a stealthy and fearful pace, but just as he is about to accomplish the object of his visit, he suddenly stops short; the snuffing is repeated at long and trembling intervals, and ff the slightest motion is then made by one of the party, away goes "Ephraim," like a cowardly burglar as he is, and we hear no more of him that night.

On the 23d a Nez Perce Indian, belonging to Mr. McKay's company visited us. He is one of several hundred who have been sent from the fort on the same errand as ourselves. This was a middle aged man, with a countenance in which shrewdness or cunning, and complaisance, appeared singularly blended. But his person was a perfect wonder, and would have served admirably for the study of a sculptor. The form was perfection itself. The lower limbs were entirely naked, and the upper part of the person was only covered by a short checked shirt. His blanket lay by his side as he sat with us, and was used only while moving. I could not but admire the ease with which the man squatted on his haunches immediately as he alighted, and the position both of body and limbs was one that, probably, no white man unaccustomed to it, could have endured for many minutes together. The attitude, and indeed the whole figure was graceful and easy in the extreme; and on criticising his person, one was forcibly reminded of the Apollo Belvidere of Canova. His only weapons were a short bow and half a dozen arrows, a scalping knife and tomahawk; with these, however, weak and inefficient as they seemed, he had done good service, every arrow being smeared with blood to the feathers. He told Richardson that he and his three or four companions had killed about sixty buffalo, and that now, having meat enough, they intended to return to their camp to-morrow.

This afternoon I observed a large flock of wild geese passing over; and upon watching them, perceived that they alighted about a mile and a half from us, where I knew there was a lake. Concluding that a little change of diet might be agreeable, I sallied forth with my gun across the plain in quest of the birds. I soon arrived at a thick copse of willow and currant bushes, which skirted the water, and was about entering, when I heard a sort of angry growl or grunt directly before me and instantly after, saw a grizzly bear of the largest kind erect himself upon his hind feet within a dozen yards of me, his savage eyes glaring with horrible malignity, his mouth wide open, and his tremendous paws raised as though ready to descend upon me. For a moment, I thought my hour had come, and that I was fated to die an inglorious death away from my friends and my kindred; but after waiting a moment in agonizing suspense, and the bear showing no inclination to advance, my lagging courage returned, and cocking both barrels of my gun, and presenting it as steadily as my nerves would allow, full at the shaggy breast of the creature, I retreated slowly backwards. Bruin evidently had no notion of braving gunpowder, but I did not know whether, like a dog, if the enemy retreated he would not yet give me a chase; so when I had placed about a hundred yards between us, I wheeled about and flew, rather than ran, across the plain towards the camp. Several times during this run for life, (as I considered it,) did I fancy that I heard the bear at my heels; and not daring to look over my shoulder to ascertain the fact, I only increased my speed, until the camp was nearly gained, when, from sheer exhaustion I relaxed my efforts, fell flat upon the ground, and looked behind me. The whole space between me and the copse was untenanted, and I was forced to acknowledge, with a feeling strongly allied to shame, that my fears alone had represented the bear in chase of me.

When I arrived in camp, and told my break-neck adventure to the men, our young companion, Mr. Ashworth, expressed a wish to go and kill the bear, and requested the loan of my double-barrelled gun for this purpose. This I at first peremptorily refused, and the men, several of whom were experienced hunters, joined me in urging him not to attempt the rash adventure. At length, however, finding him determined on going, and that rather than remain, he would trust to his own single gun, I was finally induced to offer him mine, with a request, (which I had hoped would check his daring spirit,) that he would leave the weapon in a situation where I could readily find it; for after he had made one shot, he would never use a gun again.

He seemed to heed our caution and advice but little, and, with a dogged and determined air, took the way across the plain to the bushes, which we could see in the distance. I watched him for some time, until I saw him enter them, and then, with a sigh that one so young and talented should be lost from amongst us, and a regret that we did not forcibly prevent his going, I sat myself down, distressed and melancholy. We all listened anxiously to hear the report of the gun; but no sound reaching our ears, we began to hope that he had failed in finding the animal, and in about fifteen minutes, to my inexpressible relief, we saw him emerge from the copse, and bend his steps slowly towards us. When he came in, he seemed disappointed, and somewhat angry. He said he had searched the bushes in every direction, and although he had found numerous footprints, no bear was to be seen. It is probable that when I commenced my retreat in one direction, bruin made off in the other, and that although he was willing to dispute the ground with me, and prevent my passing his lair, he was equally willing to back out of an engagement in which his fears suggested that he might come off the loser.

This evening, as we sat around the camp fire, cozily wrapped in our blankets, some of our old hunters became garrulous, and we had several good "yarns," as a sailor would say. One told of his having been shot by a Blackfoot Indian, who was disguised in the skin of an elk, and exhibited, with some little pride, a great cicatrix which disfigured his neck. Another gave us an interesting account of an attack made by the Comanche Indians upon a party of Santa-Fee traders, to which he had been attached. The white men, as is usual in general engagements with Indians, gained a signal victory, not, however, without the loss of several of their best hunters; and the old man who told the story, " uncle John," as he was usually called, shed tears at the recollection of the death of his friends; and during that part of his narrative, was several times so much affected as to be unable to speak. [I have repeatedly observed these exhibitions of feeling in some of our people upon particular occasions, and I have been pleased with them, as they seemed to furnish an evidence, that amid all the mental sterility, and absence of moral rectitude, which is so deplorably prevalent, there yet lingers some kindliness of heart, some sentiments which are not wholly depraved.]

The best story, however, was one told by Richardson, of a meeting he once had with three Blackfeet Indians. He had been out alone hunting buffalo, and towards the end of the day was returning to the camp with his meat, when he heard the clattering of hoofs in the rear, and, upon looking back, observed three Indians in hot pursuit of him. He immediately discharged his cargo of meat to lighten his horse, and then urged the animal to his utmost speed, in an attempt to distance his pursuers. He soon discovered, however, that the enemy was rapidly gaining upon him, and that in a few minutes more, he would be completely at their mercy, when he hit upon an expedient, as singular as it was bold and courageous. Drawing his long scalping knife from the sheath at his side, he plunged the keen weapon through his horse's neck, and severed the spine. The animal dropped instantly dead, and the determined hunter, throwing himself behind the fallen carcass, waited calmly the approach of his sanguinary pursuers. In a few moments, one Indian was within range of the fatal rifle, and at its report, his horse galloped riderless over the plain. The remaining two then thought to take him at advantage by approaching simultaneously on both sides of his rampart; but one of them, happening to venture too near in order to be sure of his aim, was shot to the heart by the long pistol of the white man, at the very instant that the ball from the Indian's gun whistled harmlessly by. The third savage, being wearied of the dangerous game, applied the whip vigorously to the flanks of his horse, and was soon out of sight, while Richardson set about collecting the trophies of his singular victory.

He caught the two Indians' horses; mounted one, and loaded the other with the meat which he had discarded, and returned to his camp with two spare rifles, and a good stock of ammunition.

On the morning of the 25th, we commenced baling up our meat in buffalo skins dried for the purpose. Each bale contains about a hundred pounds, of which a mule carries two; and when we had finished, our twelve longeared friends were loaded. Our limited term of absence is now nearly expired, and we are anxious to return to the fort in order to prepare for the journey to the lower country.

At about 10 o'clock, we left our pleasant encampment, and bade adieu to the cold spring, the fat buffalo, and grizzly bears, and urging our mules into their fastest walk, we jolted along with our provant towards the fort.

In about an hour after, an unpleasant accident happened to one of our men, named McCarey. He had been running a buffalo, and was about reloading the gun, which he had just discharged, when the powder in his horn was ignited by a burning wad remaining in the barrel; the horn was burst to fragments, the poor man dashed from his horse, and his face, neck, and hands, burnt in a shocking manner. We applied, immediately, the simple remedies which our situation and the place afforded, and in the course of an hour he was somewhat relieved, and travelled on with us, though in considerable suffering. His eyes were entirely closed, the lids very much swollen, and his long, flowing hair, patriarchal beard and eye-brows, had all vanished in smoke. It will be long ere he gets another such crop.

The weather here is generally uncomfortably warm, so much so, that we discard, while travelling, all such encumbrances as coats, neckcloths, &c., but the nights are excessively cold, ice often forming in the camp kettles, of the thickness of half an inch, or more. My custom has generally been to roll myself in my blanket at night, and use my large coat as a pillow; but here the coat must be worn, and my saddle has to serve the purpose to which the coat is usually applied.

We travelled, this day, thirty miles, and the next afternoon, at 4 o'clock, arrived at the fort. On the route we met three hunters, whom Captain W. had sent to kill game for the camp. They informed us that all hands have been for several days on short allowance, and were very anxious for our return.

When we came in sight of the fort, we gave them a mountain salute, each man firing his gun in quick succession. They did not expect us until to-morrow, and the firing aroused them instantly. In a very few minutes, a score of men were armed and mounted, and dashing out to give battle to the advancing Indians, as they thought us. The general supposition was, that their little hunting party had been attacked by a band of roving Blackfeet, and they made themselves ready for the rescue in a space of time that did them great credit.

It was perhaps "bad medicine," (to use the mountain phrase,) to fire a salute at all, inasmuch as it excited some unnecessary alarm, but it had the good effect to remind them that danger might be near when they least expected it, and afforded them an opportunity of showing the promptness and alacrity with which they could meet and brave it.

Our people were all delighted to see us arrive, and I could perceive many a longing and eager gaze cast upon the well filled bales, as our mules swung their little bodies through the camp. My companion, Mr. N., had become so exceedingly thin that I should scarcely have known him; and upon my expressing surprise at the great change in his appearance, he heaved a sigh of inanity, and remarked that I "would have been as thin as he if I had lived on old Ephraim for two weeks, and short allowance of that." I found, in truth, that the whole camp had been subsisting, during our absence, on little else than two or three grizzly bears which had been killed in the neighborhood; and with a complacent glance at my own rotund and cow-fed person, I wished my poor friend better luck for the future.

We found Mr. McKay's company encamped on the bank of the river within a few hundred yards of our tents. It consists of thirty men, thirteen of whom are Indians, Nez Perces, Chinooks and Kayouses with a few squaws. The remainder are French-Canadians, and half-breeds. Their lodges,of which there are several, are of a conical form, composed of ten long poles, the lower ends of which are pointed and driven into the ground; the upper blunt, and drawn together at the top by thongs. Around these poles, several dressed buffalo skins, sewed together, are stretched, a hole being left on one side for entrance.

These are the kind of lodges universally used by the mountain Indians while travelling: they are very comfortable and commodious, and a squaw accustomed to it, will erect and prepare one for the reception of her husband, while he is removing the trapping from his horse. I have seen an expert Indian woman stretch a lodge in half the time that was required by four white men to perform the same operation with another in the neighborhood.

At the fort, affairs look prosperous: the stockade is finished; two bastions have been erected, and the work is singularly good, considering the scarcity of proper building tools. The house will now soon be habitable, and the structure can then be completed at leisure by men who will be left here in charge, while the party travels on to its destination, the Columbia.

On the evening of the 26th, Captain W., Mr. Nuttall and myself supped with Mr. McKay in his lodge. I am much pleased with this gentleman: he unites the free, frank and open manners of the mountain man, with the grace and affability of the Frenchman. But above all, I admire the order, decorum, and strict subordination which exists among his men, so different from what I have been accustomed to see in parties composed of Americans. Mr. McKay assures me that he had considerable difficulty in bringing his men to the state in which they now are. The free and fearless Indian was particularly difficult to subdue; but steady, determined perseverance, and bold measures, aided by a rigid self-example, made them as clay in his hand, and has finally reduced them to their present admirable condition. If they misbehaved, a commensurate punishment is sure to follow: in extreme cases, flagellation is resorted to, but it is inflicted only by the hand of the Captain; were any other appointed to perform this office on an Indian, the indignity would be deemed so great, that nothing less than the blood of the individual could appease the wounded feelings of the savage.

After supper was concluded, we sat ourselves down on a buffalo robe at the entrance of the lodge, to see the Indians at their devotions. The whole thirteen were soon collected at the call of one whom they had chosen for their chief, and seated with sober, sedate countenances around a large fire. After remaining in perfect silence for perhaps fifteen minutes, the chief commenced an harangue in a solemn and impressive tone; reminding them of the object for which they were thus assembled, that of worshipping the "Great Spirit who made the light and the darkness, the fire and the water," and assured them that if they offered up their prayers to him with but "one tongue," they would certainly be accepted. He then rose from his squatting position to his knees, and his example was followed by all the others. In this situation he commenced a prayer, consisting of short sentences uttered rapidly but with great apparent fervor, his hands clasped upon his breast, and his eyes cast upwards with a beseeching look towards heaven. At the conclusion of each sentence, a choral response of a few words was made, accompanied frequently by low moaning. The prayer lasted about twenty minutes. After its conclusion, the chief, still maintaining the same position of his body and hands, but with his head bent to his breast, commenced a kind of psalm or sacred song, in which the whole company presently joined. The song was a simple expression of a few sounds, no intelligible words being uttered. It resembled the words, Ho-ha-ho-ha-ho-ha-ha-a, commencing in a low tone, and gradually swelling to a full, round, and beautifully modulated chorus. During the song, the clasped hands of the worshippers were moved rapidly across the breast, and their bodies swung with great energy to the time of the music. The chief ended the song that he had commenced, by a kind of swelling groan, which was echoed in chorus. It was then taken up by another, and the same routine was gone through. The whole ceremony occupied perhaps one and a half hours; a short silence then succeeded, after which each Indian rose from the ground, and disappeared in the darkness with a step noiseless as that of a spectre.

I think I never was more gratified by any exhibition in my life. The humble, subdued, and beseeching looks of the poor untutored beings who were calling upon their heavenly father to forgive their sins, and continue his mercies to them, and the evident and heart-felt sincerity which characterized the whole scene, was truly affecting, and very impressive.

The next day being the Sabbath, our good missionary, Mr. Jason Lee, was requested to hold a meeting, with which he obligingly complied. A convenient, shady spot was selected in the forest adjacent, and the greater part of our men, as well as the whole of Mr. McKay's company, including the Indians, attended. The usual forms of the Methodist service, (to which Mr. L. is attached,) were gone through, and were followed by a brief, but excellent and appropriate exhortation by that gentleman, The people were remarkably quiet and attentive, and the Indians sat upon the ground like statues. Although not one of them could understand a word that was said, they nevertheless maintained the most strict and decorous silence, kneeling when the preacher kneeled, and rising when he rose, evidently with a view of paying him and us a suitable respect, however much their own notions as to the proper and most acceptable forms of worship, might have been opposed to ours.

A meeting for worship in the Rocky mountains is almost as unusual as the appearance of a herd of buffalo in the settlements. A sermon was perhaps never preached here before; but for myself, I really enjoyed the whole scene;it possessed the charm of novelty, to say nothing of the salutary effect which I sincerely hope it may produce.

Mr. Lee is a great favorite with the men, deservedly so, and there are probably few persons to whose preaching they would have listened with so much complaisance. I have often been amused and pleased by Mr. L.'s manner of reproving them for the coarseness and profanity of expression which is so universal amongst them. The reproof, although decided, clear, and strong, is always characterized by the mildness and affectionate manner peculiar to the man; and although the good effect of the advice may not be discernible, yet it is always treated with respect, and its utility acknowledged.

In the evening, a fatal accident happened to a Canadian belonging to Mr. McKay's party. He was running his horse, in company with another, when the animals were met in full career by a third rider, and horses and men were thrown with great force to the ground. The Canadian was taken up completely senseless, and brought to Mr. McKay's lodge, where we were all taking supper. I perceived at once that there was little chance of his life being saved. He had received an injury of the head which had evidently caused concussion of the brain. He was bled copiously, and various local remedies were applied, but without success; the poor man died early next morning.

He was about forty years of age, healthy, active, and shrewd, and very much valued by Mr. McKay as a leader in his absence, and as an interpreter among the Indians of the Columbia.

At noon the body was interred. It was wrapped in a piece of coarse linen, over which was sewed a buffalo robe. The spot selected, was about a hundred yards south of the fort, and the funeral was attended by the greater part of the men of both camps. Mr. Lee officiate in performing the ordinary church ceremony, after which a hymn for the repose of the soul of the departed, was sung by the Canadians present. The grave is surrounded by a neat palisade of willows, with a black cross erected at the head, on which is carved the name "Casseau."