Page images
PDF
EPUB

GRIEF AT A WARRIOR'S DEATH. 187

victory, will leave their arms upon the field of battle, and returning home with dejected countenances, will halt without the encampment, and wait until the relatives of the slain come forth to invite them to mingle again with their people.

188

CAMP AT THE PORTNEUF.

CHAPTER XII.

WINTER CAMP AT THE PORTNEUF-FINE SPRINGS-THE BANNECK INDIANS-THEIR HONESTY-CAPTAIN BONNEVILLE PREPARES FOR

AN EXPEDITION

CHRISTMAS THE AMERICAN FALLS-WILD SCENERY FISHING FALLS-SNAKE INDIANS-SCENERY ON THE BRUNEAU-VIEW OF VOLCANIC COUNTRY FROM A MOUNTAINPOWDER RIVER — SHOSHOKOES, OR ROOT DIGGERS—THEIR CHARACTER, HABITS, HABITATIONS, DOGS VANITY AT ITS LAST

SHIFT.

IN establishing his winter camp near the Portneuf, Captain Bonneville had drawn off to some little distance from his Banneck

FINE SPRINGS.

189

friends, to avoid all annoyance from their

intimacy or intrusions.

In so doing, how

ever, he had been obliged to take up his quarters on the extreme edge of the flat land, where he was encompassed with ice and snow, and had nothing better for his horses to subsist on, than wormwood. The Bannecks, on the contrary, were encamped among fine springs of water, where there was grass in abundance. Some of these springs gush out of the earth in sufficient quantity to turn a mill; and furnish beautiful streams, clear as crystal, and full of trout of a large size; which may be seen darting about the transparent water.

Winter now began to set in regularly. The snow had fallen frequently, and in large quantities, and covered the ground to the depth of a foot; and the continued coldness of the weather prevented any thaw.

190

BANNECK HONESTY.

By degrees, a distrust which at first subsisted between the Indians and the trappers, subsided, and gave way to mutual confidence and good-will. A few presents convinced the chiefs that the white men were their friends: nor were the white men wanting in proofs of the honesty and good faith of their savage neighbours. Occasionally, the deep snow and the want of fodder obliged them to turn their weakest horses out to roam in quest of sustenance.

If they at any time strayed

to the camp of the Bannecks they were immediately brought back. It must be confessed, however, that if the stray horse happened, by any chance, to be in vigorous

[ocr errors]

plight and good condition, though he was equally sure to be returned by the honest Bannecks, yet, it was always after the lapse of several days, and in a very gaunt and jaded state; and always with the remark,

BANNECK HONESTY.

191

that they had found him a long way off. The uncharitable were apt to surmise that he had, in the interim, been well used up in a buffalo hunt: but those accustomed to Indian morality in the matter of horseflesh, considered it a singular evidence of honesty, that he should be brought back at all.

Being convinced, therefore, from these and other circumstances, that his people were encamped in the neighbourhood of a tribe as honest as they were valiant; and satisfied that they would pass their winter unmolested; Captain Bonneville prepared for a reconnoitring expedition of great extent and peril. This was, to penetrate to the Hudson's Bay establishments on the banks of the Columbia, and to make himself acquainted with the country and the Indian tribes; it

« PreviousContinue »