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LES DIGNES DE PITIE.

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stone-pointed arrows, with which they hunt the deer, the elk, and the mountain sheep. They are to be found scattered about the countries of the Shoshonie, Flathead, Crow, and Blackfeet tribes; but their residences are always in lonely places, and the clefts of the rocks.

Their footsteps are often seen by the trappers in the high and solitary valleys among the mountains, and the smokes of their fires descried among the precipices, but they themselves are rarely met with, and still more rarely brought to a parley, so great is their shyness, and their dread of strangers.

As their poverty offers no temptation to the marauder, and as they are inoffensive in their habits, they are never the objects of warfare: should one of them, however, fall into the hands of a war party, he is sure to be made a sacrifice, for the sake of that savage trophy, a scalp, and that barbarous ceremony, a scalp

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WILD MEN OF THE MOUNTAINS.

dance. These forlorn beings, forming a mere link between human nature and the brute, have been looked down upon with pity and contempt by the creole trappers, who have given them the appellation of "les dignes de pitie," or "the objects of pity." They appear more worthy to be called, the wild men of the mountains.

A RETROGRADE MOVEMENT.

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CHAPTER IX.

A RETROGRADE MOVE-CHANNEL OF A MOUNTAIN TORRENT ALPINE
SCENERY-CASCADES-BEAVER VALLEYS-BEAVERS AT WORK-
THEIR ARCHITECTURE THEIR MODES OF FELLING TREES-MODE
"6
OF TRAPPING BEAVER-CONTESTS OF SKILL-A BEAVER UP TO
TRAP"-ARRIVAL AT THE GREEN RIVER CACHERS.

THE view from the snowy peak of the Wind river mountain, while it had excited Captain Bonneville's enthusiasm, had satisfied him that it would be useless to force a passage westward, through multiplying barriers of cliffs and precipices. Turning his face eastward, therefore, he endeavoured to regain the plains, intending to make the circuit round the southern

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AN ALPINE RAVINE.

point of the mountain. To descend, and to extricate himself from the heart of this rock

piled wilderness, was almost as difficult as to penetrate it.

Taking his course down the ravine of a tumbling stream, the commencement of some future river, he descended from rock to rock, and shelf to shelf, between stupendous cliffs and beetling crags, that sprang up to the sky. Often he had to cross and recross the rushing torrent, as it wound foaming and roaring down its broken channel, or was walled by perpendicular precipices; and imminent was the hazard of breaking the legs of the horses in the clefts and fissures of slippery rocks.

The whole scenery of this deep ravine was of Alpine wildness and sublimity. Sometimes the travellers passed beneath cascades which pitched from such lofty heights, that the water fell into the stream like heavy rain. In other

AN ALPINE RAVINE.

131

places, torrents came tumbling from crag to crag, dashing into foam and spray, and making tremendous din and uproar.

On the second day of their descent, the travellers having got beyond the steepest pitch of the mountains, came to where the deep and rugged ravine began occasionally to expand into small levels or valleys, and the stream to assume for short intervals a more peaceful character. Here, not merely the river itself, but every rivulet flowing into it, was dammed up by communities of industrious beavers, so as to inundate the neighbourhood, and make continual swamps.

During a mid-day halt in one of these beaver valleys, Captain Bonneville left his companions, and strolled down the course of the stream to reconnoitre. He had not proceeded far, when he came to a beaver pond, and caught a glimpse of one of its painstaking inhabitants busily. at

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