He has no future; the future is even now invading our peace.

 people involved | time:2023-12-06 06:07:26

"Sacajawea, our Indian woman, informs us that we are encamped on the precise spot where her countrymen, the Snake Indians, had their huts five years ago, when the Minnetarees of Knife River first came in sight of them, and from whom they hastily retreated three miles up the Jefferson, and concealed themselves in the woods. The Minnetarees, however, pursued and attacked them, killed four men, as many women, and a number of boys; and made prisoners of four other boys and all the females, of whom Sacajawea was one. She does not, however, show any distress at these recollections, nor any joy at the prospect of being restored to her country; for she seems to possess the folly, or the philosophy, of not suffering her feelings to extend beyond the anxiety of having plenty to eat and a few trinkets to wear.

He has no future; the future is even now invading our peace.

"This morning the hunters brought in some fat deer of the long-tailed red kind, which are quite as large as those of the United States, and are, indeed, the only kind we have found at this place. There are numbers of the sand-hill cranes feeding in the meadows: we caught a young one of the same color as the red deer, which, though it had nearly attained its full growth, could not fly; it is very fierce, and strikes a severe blow with its beak. . . .

He has no future; the future is even now invading our peace.

"Captain Lewis proceeded after dinner through an extensive low ground of timber and meadow-land intermixed; but the bayous were so obstructed by beaver-dams that, in order to avoid them, he directed his course toward the high plain on the right. This he gained with some difficulty, after wading up to his waist through the mud and water of a number of beaver-dams. When he desired to rejoin the canoes he found the underbrush so thick, and the river so crooked, that this, joined to the difficulty of passing the beaver-dams, induced him to go on and endeavor to intercept the river at some point where it might be more collected into one channel, and approach nearer the high plain. He arrived at the bank about sunset, having gone only six miles in a direct course from the canoes; but he saw no traces of the men, nor did he receive any answer to his shouts and the firing of his gun. It was now nearly dark; a duck lighted near him, and he shot it. He then went on the head of a small island, where he found some driftwood, which enabled him to cook his duck for supper, and laid down to sleep on some willow-brush. The night was cool, but the driftwood gave him a good fire, and he suffered no inconvenience, except from the mosquitoes."

He has no future; the future is even now invading our peace.

The easy indifference to discomfort with which these well-seasoned pioneers took their hardships must needs impress the reader. It was a common thing for men, or for a solitary man, to be caught out of camp by nightfall and compelled to bivouac, like Captain Lewis, in the underbrush, or the prairie-grass. As they pressed on, game began to fail them. Under date of July 31, they remark that the only game seen that day was one bighorn, a few antelopes, deer, and a brown bear, all of which escaped them. "Nothing was killed to-day," it is recorded, "nor have we had any fresh meat except one beaver for the last two days; so that we are now reduced to an unusual situation, for we have hitherto always had a great abundance of flesh." Indeed, one reason for this is found in Captain Lewis's remark: "When we have plenty of fresh meat, I find it impossible to make the men take any care of it, or use it with the least frugality, though I expect that necessity will shortly teach them this art." We shall see, later on, that the men, who were really as improvident of food as the Indians, had hard lessons from necessity.

Anxious to reach the Indians, who were believed to be somewhere ahead of them, Captain Lewis and three men went on up the Jefferson, Captain Clark and his party following with the canoes and luggage in a more leisurely manner. The advance party were so fortunate as to overtake a herd of elk, two of which they killed; what they did not eat they left secured for the other party with the canoes. Clark's men also had good luck in hunting, for they killed five deer and one bighorn. Neither party found fresh tracks of Indians, and they were greatly discouraged thereat. The journal speaks of a beautiful valley, from six to eight miles wide, where they saw ancient traces of buffalo occupation, but no buffalo. These animals had now completely disappeared; they were seldom seen in those mountains. The journal says of Lewis:--

"He saw an abundance of deer and antelope, and many tracks of elk and bear. Having killed two deer, they feasted sumptuously, with a dessert of currants of different colors--two species red, others yellow, deep purple, and black; to these were added black gooseberries and deep purple service-berries, somewhat larger than ours, from which they differ also in color, size, and the superior excellence of their flavor. In the low grounds of the river were many beaver-dams formed of willow-brush, mud, and gravel, so closely interwoven that they resist the water perfectly; some of them were five feet high, and caused the river to overflow several acres of land."

Meanwhile, the party with the canoes were having a fatiguing time as they toiled up the river. On the fourth of August, after they had made only fifteen miles, the journal has this entry:--

"The river is still rapid, and the water, though clear, is very much obstructed by shoals or ripples at every two hundred or three hundred yards. At all these places we are obliged to drag the canoes over the stones, as there is not a sufficient depth of water to float them, and in the other parts the current obliges us to have recourse to the cord. But as the brushwood on the banks will not permit us to walk on shore, we are under the necessity of wading through the river as we drag the boats. This soon makes our feet tender, and sometimes occasions severe falls over the slippery stones; and the men, by being constantly wet, are becoming more feeble. In the course of the day the hunters killed two deer, some geese and ducks, and the party saw some antelopes, cranes, beaver, and otter."

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