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Title: Monsieur Violet
Author: Marryat, Frederick, 1792-1848
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Monsieur Violet" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE

TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES

OF

MONSIEUR VIOLET

IN

_California, Sonora, and Western Texas_

BY

CAPTAIN MARRYAT

AUTHOR OF "KING'S OWN," "PACHA OF MANY TALES," "VALERIE," "SETTLERS
IN CANADA," "MASTERMAN READY," "POOR JACK," ETC., ETC.

_WITH ILLUSTRATIONS_

GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS

LONDON: BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
NEW YORK: 9 LAFAYETTE PLACE

[Illustration: "Spying through an opera-glass at the majestic animals
which he could not approach."]



TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES

OF

MONSIEUR VIOLET


CHAPTER I.


The Revolution of 1830, which deprived Charles the Tenth of the throne
of France, like all other great and sudden changes, proved the ruin of
many individuals, more especially of many ancient families who were
attached to the Court, and who would not desert the exiled monarch in
his adversity. Among the few who were permitted to share his fortunes
was my father, a noble gentleman of Burgundy, who at a former period and
during a former exile, had proved his unchangeable faith and attachment
to the legitimate owners of the crown of France.

The ancient royal residence of Holyrood having been offered, as a
retreat, to his unhappy master, my father bade an eternal adieu to his
country; and with me, his only son, then but nine years of age, followed
in the suite of the monarch, and established himself in Edinburgh.

Our residence in Scotland was not long. Charles the Tenth decided upon
taking up his abode at Prague. My father went before him to make the
necessary arrangements; and as soon as his master was established there,
he sought by travel to forget his griefs. Young as I was, I was his
companion. Italy, Sicily, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and the Holy Land were
all visited in the course of three years, after which time we returned
to Italy; and being then twelve years old, I was placed for my education
in the Propaganda at Rome.

For an exile who is ardently attached to his country there is no repose.
Forbidden to return to his beloved France, there was no retreat which
could make my father forget his griefs, and he continued as restless and
as unhappy as ever.

Shortly after that I had been placed in the Propaganda, my father fell
in with an old friend, a friend of his youth, whom he had not met with
for years, once as gay and as happy as he had been, now equally
suffering and equally restless. This friend was the Italian Prince
Seravalle, who also had drank deep of the cup of bitterness. In his
youth, feeling deeply the decadence, both moral and physical, of his
country, he had attempted to strike a blow to restore it to its former
splendour; he headed a conspiracy, expended a large portion of his
wealth in pursuit of his object, was betrayed by his associates, and for
many years was imprisoned by the authorities in the Castle of
San Angelo.

How long his confinement lasted I know not, but it must have been a long
while, as in after-times, when he would occasionally revert to his
former life, all incidents he related were for years "when he was in his
dungeon, or in the courtyard prison of the Capitol," where many of his
ancestors had dictated laws to nations.

At last the Prince was restored to freedom, but captivity had made no
alteration in his feelings or sentiments. His love for his country, and
his desire for its regeneration, were as strong as ever, and he very
soon placed himself at the head of the Carbonari, a sect which, years
afterwards, was rendered illustrious by the constancy and sufferings of
a Maroncelli, a Silvio Pellico, and many others.

The Prince was again detected and arrested, but he was not thrown into
prison. The government had been much weakened and the well-known
opinions and liberality of the Prince had rendered him so popular with
the Trasteverini, or northern inhabitants of the Tiber, that policy
forbade either his captivity or destruction. He was sentenced to be
banished for (I think) ten years.

During his long banishment, the Prince Seravalle wandered over various
portions of the globe, and at last found himself in Mexico. After a
residence at Vera Cruz, he travelled into the interior, to examine the
remains of the ancient cities of the Western World; and impelled by his
thirst for knowledge and love of adventure, he at last arrived on the
western coast of America, and passing through California, fell in with
the Shoshones, or Snake Indians, occupying a large territory extending
from the Pacific to nearly the feet of the Rocky Mountains. Pleased
with the manners and customs and native nobility of this tribe of
Indians, the Prince remained with them for a considerable time, and
eventually decided that he would return once more to his country, now
that his term of banishment had expired; not to resettle in an
ungrateful land, but to collect his property and return to the
Shoshones, to employ it for their benefit and advancement.

There was, perhaps, another feeling, even more powerful, which induced
the Prince Seravalle to return to the Indians with whom he had lived so
long. I refer to the charms and attraction which a wild life offers to
the man of civilization, more particularly when he has discovered how
hollow and heartless we become under refinement.

Not one Indian who has been brought up at school, and among the
pleasures and luxuries of a great city, has ever wished to make his
dwelling among the pale faces; while, on the contrary, many thousands of
white men, from the highest to the lowest stations in civilization, have
embraced the life of the savage, remaining with and dying among them,
although they might have accumulated wealth, and returned to their
own country.

This appears strange, but it is nevertheless true. Any intelligent
traveller, who has remained a few weeks in the wigwams of well-disposed
Indians, will acknowledge that the feeling was strong upon him even
during so short a residence. What must it then be on those who have
resided with the Indians for years?

It was shortly after the Prince's return to Italy to fulfil his
benevolent intentions, that my father renewed his old friendship-a
friendship of early years, so strong that their adverse politics could
not weaken it. The Prince was then at Leghorn; he had purchased a
vessel, loaded it with implements of agriculture and various branches of
the domestic arts; he had procured some old pieces of artillery, a large
quantity of carabines from Liége, gunpowder, &c.; materials for building
a good house, and a few articles of ornament and luxury. His large
estates were all sold to meet these extraordinary expenses. He had also
engaged masons, smiths, and carpenters, and he was to be accompanied by
some of his former tenants, who well understood the cultivation of the
olive-tree and vine.

It was in the autumn of 1833 when he was nearly ready to start, that he
fell in with my father, told him his adventures and his future plans,
and asked him to accompany him. My father, who was tired and disgusted
with everything, _blasé au fond_, met the Prince more than half-way.

Our property in France had all been disposed of at a great sacrifice at
the time of the Revolution. All my father possessed was in money and
jewels. He resolved to risk all, and to settle with the Prince in this
far-distant land. Several additions were consequently made to the cargo
and to the members composing the expedition.

Two priests had already engaged to act as missionaries. Anxious for my
education, my father provided an extensive library, and paid a large sum
to the Prior of a Dominican convent to permit the departure with us of
another worthy man, who was well able to superintend my education. Two
of the three religious men who had thus formed our expedition had been
great travellers, and had already carried the standard of the cross east
of the Ganges in the Thibetian and Burman empires.

In order to avoid any difficulties from the government, the Prince
Seravalle had taken the precaution to clear the vessel out for
Guatemala, and the people at Leghorn fully believed that such was his
object. But Guatemala and Acapulco were left a long way south of us
before we arrived at our destination.

At last everything was prepared. I was sent for from the Propaganda--the
stock of wines, &c., were the last articles which were shipped, and the
_Esmeralda_ started on her tedious; and by no means certain voyage.



CHAPTER II.


I was very young then--- not thirteen years old; but if I was young, I
had travelled much, and had gained that knowledge which is to be
obtained by the eye--perhaps the best education we can have in our
earlier years. I shall pass over the monotony of the voyage of eternal
sky and water. I have no recollection that we were in any imminent
danger at any time, and the voyage might have been styled a
prosperous one.

After five months we arrived off the coast, and with some difficulty we
gained the entrance of a river falling into Trinity Bay, in lat. 41°
north and long. 124° 28' west.

We anchored about four miles above the entrance, which was on the coast
abreast of the Shoshones' territory, and resorted to by them on their
annual fishing excursions. In memory of the event, the river was named
by the Indians--"Nu elejé sha wako;" or, the Guide of the Strangers.

For many weeks it was a strange and busy scene. The Prince Seravalle
had, during his former residence with the Shoshones, been admitted into
their tribe as a warrior and a chief, and now the Indians flocked from
the interior to welcome their pale-faced chief, who had not forgotten
his red children. They helped our party to unload the vessel, provided
us with game of all kinds, and under the directions of the carpenter,
they soon built a large warehouse to protect our goods and implements
from the effect of the weather.

As soon as our cargo was housed, the Prince and my father, accompanied
by the chiefs and elders of the tribe, set off on an exploring party, to
select a spot fit for the settlement. During their absence, I was
entrusted to the care of one of the chief's squaws, and had three
beautiful children for my play-mates. In three weeks the party returned;
they had selected a spot upon the western banks of the Buona Ventura
River, at the foot of a high circular mountain, where rocks covered with
indurated lava and calcined sulphur, proved the existence of former
volcanic eruptions. The river was lined with lofty timber; immense
quarries of limestone were close at hand, and the minor streams gave us
clay which produced bricks of an excellent quality.

The Spaniards had before visited this spot, and had given the mountain
the name of St. Salvador; but our settlement took the Indian appellation
of the Prince, which was--"Nanawa ashta jueri ê;" or, the Dwelling of
the Great Warrior. As the place of our landing was a great resort of the
Indians during the fishing season, it was also resolved that a square
fort and store, with a boat-house, should be erected there; and for six
or seven months all was bustle and activity, when an accident occurred
which threw a damp upon our exertions.

Although the whole country abounds in cattle, and some other tribes, of
which I shall hereafter make mention, do possess them in large herds,
the Shoshones did not possess any. Indeed, so abundant was the game in
this extensive territory, that they could well dispense with them; but
as the Prince's ambition was to introduce agriculture and more domestic
habits among the tribe, he considered it right that they should be
introduced. He therefore despatched the _Esmeralda_ to obtain them
either at Monterey or Santa Barbara. But the vessel was never more heard
of; the Mexicans stated that they had perceived the wreck of a vessel
off Cape Mendocino, and it was but natural to suppose that these were
the remains of our unfortunate brig.

All hands on board perished, and the loss was very heavy to us. The crew
consisted of the captain, his son, and twelve men; and there were also
on board five of our household, who had been despatched upon various
commissions, Giuseppe Polidori, the youngest of our missionaries, one of
our gunsmiths, one of our masons, and two Italian farmers. Melancholy as
was this loss, it did not abate the exertions of those who were left.
Fields were immediately cleared--gardens prepared; and by degrees the
memory of this sad beginning faded away before the prospect of future
happiness and comfort.

As soon as we were completely established, my education commenced. It
was novel, yet still had much affinity to the plan pursued with the
students of the Military Colleges in France, inasmuch as all my
play-hours were employed in the hardier exercises. To the two excellent
missionaries I owe much, and with them I passed many happy hours.

We had brought a very extensive and very well selected library with us,
and under their care I soon became acquainted with the arts and sciences
of civilization; I studied history generally, and they also taught me
Latin and Greek, and I was soon master of many of the modern languages.
And as my studies were particularly devoted to the history of the
ancient people of Asia, to enable me to understand their theories and
follow up their favourite researches upon the origin of the great ruins
in Western and Central America, the slight knowledge which I had gained
at the Propaganda of Arabic and Sanscrit was now daily increased.

Such were my studies with the good fathers; the other portion of my
education was wholly Indian. I was put under the charge of a celebrated
old warrior of the tribe, and from him I learned the use of the bow, the
tomahawk, and the rifle; to throw the lasso, to manage the wildest
horse, to break in the untamed colt; and occasionally I was permitted
to accompany them in their hunting and fishing excursions.

Thus for more than three years did I continue to acquire knowledge of
various kinds, while the colony gradually extended its fields, and there
appeared to be every chance of gradually reclaiming the wild Shoshones
to a more civilized state of existence.

But "l'homme propose et Dieu dispose." Another heavy blow fell upon the
Prince, which eventually proved the ruin of all his hopes. After the
loss of the vessel, we had but eight white men in the colony, besides
the missionaries and ourselves; and the Prince, retaining only my
father's old servant, determined upon sending the remainder to purchase
the cattle which we had been so anxious to obtain.

They departed on this mission, but never returned. In all probability,
they were murdered by the Apaches Indians; although it is not impossible
that, tired of our simple and monotonous life, they deserted us to
establish themselves in the distant cities of Mexico.

This second catastrophy weighed heavy upon the mind of the good old
Prince. All his hopes were dashed to the ground--the illusions of the
latter part of his life were destroyed for ever. His proudest
expectations had been to redeem his savage friends from their wild life,
and this could only be effected by commerce and agriculture.

The farms round the settlement had for now nearly four years been tilled
by the squaws and young Indians, under the direction of the white men;
and although the occupation was by no means congenial to their nature,
the Prince had every anticipation that with time and example, the
Shoshones would perceive the advantages, and be induced to till the land
for themselves.

Before our arrival, the winter was always a season of great privation to
that portion of the Indians who could not repair to the hunting grounds;
while now, Indian corn, potatoes, and other vegetables were in plenty,
at least for those who dwelt near to the settlement. But now that we had
lost all our white cultivators and mechanics, we soon found that the
Indians avoided the labour.

All our endeavours proved useless: the advantages had not yet been
sufficiently manifest: the transition attempted had been too short; and
the good, although proud and lazy, Shoshones abandoned the tillage, and
relapsed into their former apathy and indifference.

Mortified at this change, the Prince and my father resolved to make an
appeal to the whole nation, and try to convince them how much happier
they would be if they would cultivate the ground for their support. A
great feast was given, the calumet was smoked; after which the Prince
rose and addressed them after their own fashion. As I had, a short time
previous, been admitted as a chief and warrior, I, of course, was
present at the meeting. The Prince spoke:--

"Do you not want to become the most powerful nation of the West? You do.
If then such is the case, you must ask assistance from the earth, which
is your mother. True, you have prairies abounding in game, but the
squaws and the children cannot follow your path when hunting.

"Are not the Crows, the Bannaxas, the Flat Heads, and the Umbiquas,
starving during the winter? They have no buffalo in their land, and but
few deer. What have they to eat? A few lean horses, perchance a bear;
and the stinking flesh of the otter or beaver they may entrap during
the season.

"Would they not be too happy to exchange their furs against the corn,
the tobacco, and good dried fish of the Shoshones? Now they sell their
furs to the Yankees, but the Yankees bring them no food. The Flat Heads
take the fire-water and blankets from the traders, but they do so
because they cannot get anything else, and their packs of furs would
spoil if they kept them.

"Would they not like better to barter them with you, who are so near to
them, for good food to sustain them and their children during the
winter--- to keep alive their squaws and their old men during the long
snow and the dreary moons of darkness and gloom?

"Now if the Shoshones had corn and tobacco to give for furs, they would
become rich. They would have the best saddles from Mexico, and the best
rifles from the Yankees, the best tomahawks and blankets from the
Canadians. Who then could resist the Shoshones? When they would go
hunting, hundreds of the other natives would clear for them the forest
path, or tear with their hands the grass out of their track in the
prairie. I have spoken."

All the Indians acknowledged that the talk was good and full of wisdom:
but they were too proud to work. An old chief answered for the
whole tribe.

"Nanawa Ashta is a great chief: he is a brave! The Manitou speaks softly
to his ears, and tells him the secret which makes the heart of a warrior
big or small; but Nanawa has a pale face--his blood is a strange blood,
although his heart is ever with his red friends. It is only the white
Manitou that speaks to him, and how could the white Manitou know the
nature of the Indians? He has not made them; he don't call them to him;
he gives them nothing; he leaves them poor and wretched; he keeps all
for the pale faces.

"It is right he should do so. The panther will not feed the young of the
deer, nor will the hawk sit upon the eggs of the dove. It is life, it is
order, it is nature. Each has his own to provide for and no more. Indian
corn is good; tobacco is good, it gladdens the heart of the old men when
they are in sorrow; tobacco is the present of chiefs to chiefs. The
calumet speaks of war and death; it discourses also of peace and
friendship. The Manitou made the tobacco expressly for man--it is good.

"But corn and tobacco must be taken from the earth; they must be watched
for many moons, and nursed like children. This is work fit only for
squaws and slaves. The Shoshones are warriors and free; if they were to
dig in the ground, their sight would become weak, and their enemies
would say they were moles and badgers.

"Does the just Nanawa wish the Shoshones to be despised by the Crows or
the horsemen of the south? No! he had fought for them before he went to
see if the bones of his fathers were safe; and since his return, has he
not given to them rifles and powder, and long nets to catch the salmon,
and plenty of iron to render their arrows feared alike by the buffaloes
and the Umbiquas?

"Nanawa speaks well, for he loves his children: but the spirit that
whispers to him is a pale-face spirit, that cannot see under the skin of
a red warrior; it is too tough: nor in his blood; it is too dark.

"Yet tobacco is good, and corn too. The hunters of the Flat Heads and
Pierced Noses would come in winter to beg for it; their furs would make
warm the lodges of the Shoshones. And my people would become rich and
powerful; they would be masters of all the country, from the salt waters
to the big mountains; the deer would come and lick their hands, and the
wild horses would graze around their wigwams. 'Tis so that the pale
faces grow rich and strong; they plant corn, tobacco, and sweet melons;
they have trees that bear figs and peaches; they feed swine and goats,
and tame buffaloes. They are a great people.

"A red-skin warrior is nothing but a warrior; he is strong, but he is
poor; he is not a wood-chunk, nor a badger, nor a prairie dog; he cannot
dig the ground; he is a warrior, and nothing more. I have spoken."

Of course the tenor of this speech was too much in harmony with Indian
ideas not to be received with admiration. The old man took his seat,
while another rose to speak in his turn.

"The great chief hath spoken; his hair is white like the down of the
swan; his winters have been many; he is wise; why should I speak after
him, his words were true? The Manitou touched my ears and my eyes when
he spoke (and he spoke like a warrior); I heard his war-cry, I saw the
Umbiquas running in the swamps, and crawling like black snakes under the
bushes. I spied thirty scalps on his belt, his leggings and mocassins
were sewn with the hair of the Wallah Wallahs[1].

[Footnote 1: Indians living on the Columbian river, two hundred miles
above Fort Vancouver, allied to the Nez Percés, and great supporters of
the Americans.]

"I should not speak; I am young yet and have no wisdom; my words are
few, I should not speak. But in my vision I heard a spirit, it came upon
the breeze, it entered within me.

"Nanawa is my father, the father to all, he loves us, we are his
children; he has brought with him a great warrior of the pale faces, who
was a mighty chief in his tribe; he has given us a young chief who is a
great hunter; in a few years he will be a great warrior, and lead our
young men in the war-path on the plains of the Wachinangoes[2], for
Owato Wanisha[3] is a Shoshone, though his skin is paler than the
flower of the magnolia.

[Footnote 2: Name given to the half-breeds by the Spaniards, but by
Indians comprehending the whole Mexican race.]

[Footnote 3: The "spirit of the young beaver;" a name given to me when I
was made a warrior.]

"Nanawa has also given to us two Makota Konayas[4], to teach wisdom to
our young men; their words are sweet, they speak to the heart; they know
everything and make men better. Nanawa is a great chief, very wise; what
he says is right, what he wishes must be done, for he is our father, and
he gave us strength to fight our enemies."

[Footnote 4: Two priests, literally two black gowns.]

"He is right; the Shoshones must have their lodges full of corn and
tobacco. The Shoshones must ever be what they are, what they were, a
great nation. But the chief of many winters hath said it; the hedge-hogs
and the foxes may dig the earth, but the eyes of the Shoshones are
always turned towards their enemies in the woods, or the buffaloes in
the plains."

"Yet the will of Nanawa must be done, but not by a Shoshone. We will
give him plenty of squaws and dogs; we will bring him slaves from the
Umbiquas, the Cayuses, and the Wallah Wallahs. They shall grow the corn
and the tobacco while we hunt; while we go to fetch more slaves, even in
the big mountains, or among the dogs of the south, the Wachinangoes. I
will send the vermilion[5] to my young warriors, they will paint their
faces and follow me on the war-path. I have spoken!"

[Footnote 5: When a chief wishes to go to war, he sends to his warriors
some leaves of tobacco covered with vermilion. It is a sign that they
must soon be prepared.]

Thus ended the hopes of making agriculturists of the wild people among
whom we lived; nor did I wonder; such as they were, they felt happy.
What could they want besides their neat conical skin lodges, their
dresses, which were good, comfortable, and elegant, and their women, who
were virtuous, faithful, and pretty? Had they not the unlimited range of
the prairies? were they not lords over millions of elks and
buffaloes?--they wanted nothing, except tobacco. And yet it was a pity
we could not succeed in giving them a taste for civilization. They were
gentlemen by nature; as indeed almost all the Indians are, when not
given to drinking. They are extremely well bred, and stamped with the
indubitable seal of nobility on their brow.

The council was broken up, as both Christianity and his own peculiar
sentiments would not permit the Prince Seravalle to entertain the
thought of extending slavery. He bowed meekly to the will of Providence,
and endeavoured by other means to effect his object of enlightening the
minds of this pure and noble, yet savage race of men.



CHAPTER III.


This breaking up, for the time, of our agricultural settlement took
place in the year 1838. Till then, or a few months before, I had passed
my time between my civilized and uncivilized instructors. But although
educated, I was an Indian, not only in my dress but in my heart.

I mentioned that in the council called by the Prince I was present,
having been admitted as a chief, being then about seventeen years old.
My admission was procured in the following manner: when we received
intelligence of the murder, or disappearance of our seven white men,
whom the Prince had sent to Monterey to procure cattle, a party was sent
out on their track to ascertain what had really taken place, and at my
request the command of that party was confided to me.

We passed the Buona Ventura, and followed the track of our white men for
upwards of 200 miles, when we not only could trace it no further, but
found our small party of fifteen surrounded by about eighty of our
implacable enemies, the Crows.

By stratagem, we not only broke through them, but succeeded in
surprising seven of their party. My companions would have put them to
death, but I would not permit it. We secured them on their own horses,
and made all the haste we could, but the Crows had discovered us and
gave chase.

It was fifteen days' travelling to our own country, and we were pursued
by an enemy seven or eight times superior to us In numbers. By various
stratagems, which I shall not dwell upon, aided by the good condition of
our horses, we contrived to escape them, and to bring our prisoners safe
into the settlement. Now, although we had no fighting, yet address is
considered a great qualification. On my return I was therefore admitted
as a chief, with the Indian name Owato Wanisha, or "spirit of the
beaver," as appropriate to my cunning and address. To obtain the rank
of a warrior chief, it was absolutely requisite that I had distinguished
myself on the field of battle.

Before I continue my narration, I must say a little more relative to the
missionaries, who were my instructors. One of them, the youngest,
Polidori, was lost in the Esmeralda, when she sailed for Monterey to
procure cattle. The two others were Padre Marini and Padre Antonio. They
were both highly accomplished and learned. Their knowledge in Asiatic
lore was unbounded, and it was my delight to follow them in their
researches and various theories concerning the early Indian emigration
across the waters of the Pacific.

They were both Italians by birth. They had passed many years of their
lives among the nations west of the Ganges, and in their advanced years
had returned to sunny Italy, to die near the spot where they had played
as little children. But they had met with Prince Seravalle, and when
they heard from him of the wild tribes with whom he had dwelt, and who
knew not God, they considered that it was their duty to go and
instruct them.

Thus did these sincere men, old and broken, with one foot resting on
their tombs, again encounter difficulties and danger, to propagate among
the Indians that religion of love and mercy which they were appointed to
make known.

Their efforts, however, to convert the Shoshones were fruitless. Indian
nature would seem to be a nature apart and distinct. The red men, unless
in suffering or oppression, will not listen to what they call "the
smooth honey words of the pale-faced sages;" and even when they do so,
they argue upon every dogma and point of faith, and remain unconvinced.
The missionaries, therefore, after a time, contented themselves with
practising deeds of charity, with alleviating their sufferings when
able, from their knowledge of medicine and surgery, and by moral
precepts, softening down as much as they could the fierce and
occasionally cruel tempers of this wild untutored race.

Among other advantages which the Shoshones derived from our
missionaries, was the introduction of vaccination. At first it was
received with great distrust, and indeed violently opposed, but the good
sense of the Indians ultimately prevailed: and I do not believe that
there is one of the Soshones born since the settlement was formed who
has not been vaccinated: the process was explained by the Padres Marini
and Polidori to the native medical men, and is now invariably
practised by them.

I may as well here finish the histories of the good missionaries. When I
was sent upon an expedition to Monterey, which I shall soon have to
detail, Padre Marini acccompanied me. Having failed with the Shoshones,
he considered that he might prove useful by locating himself in the
Spanish settlements of California. We parted soon after we arrived at
Monterey, and I have never seen or heard of him since. I shall, however,
have to speak of him again during our journey and sojourn at that town.

The other, Padre Antonio, died at the settlement previous to my journey
to Monterey, and the Indians still preserve his robes, missal, and
crucifix, as the relics of a good man. Poor Padre Antonio! I would have
wished to have known the history of his former life. A deep melancholy
was stamped upon his features, from some cause of heart-breaking grief,
which even religion could but occasionally assuage, but not remove.

After his death, I looked at his missal. The blank pages at the
beginning and the end were filled up with pious reflections, besides
some few words, which spoke volumes as to one period of his existence.
The first words inscribed were; "Julia, obiit A.D. 1799. Virgo
purissima, Maris Stella. Ora pro me." On the following leaf was written:
"Antonio de Campestrina, Convient. Dominicum. in Româ, A.D. 1800."

Then he had embraced a monastic life upon the death of one dear to
him--perhaps his first and only love. Poor man! many a time have I seen
the big burning tears rolling fast down his withered cheeks. But he is
gone, and his sorrows are at rest On the last page of the missal were
also two lines, written in a tremulous hand, probably a short time
previous to his death: "I, nunc anima anceps; sitque tibi Deus
misericors."

The Prince Seravalle did not, however, abandon his plans; having failed
in persuading the Shoshones, at the suggestion of my father, it was
resolved that an attempt should be made to procure a few Mexicans and
Canadians to carry on the agricultural labours; for I may here as well
observe, that both the Prince and my father had long made up their minds
to live and die among the Indians.

This expedition was to be undertaken by me. My trip was to be a long
one. In case I should not succeed in Monterey in enlisting the parties
required, I was to proceed on to Santa Fé, either with a party of
Apaches Indians, who were always at peace with the Shoshones, or else
with one of the Mexican caravans.

In Santa Fé there were always a great number of French and Canadians,
who came every year from St. Louis, hired by the Fur Companies; so that
we had some chance of procuring them. If, however, my endeavours should
prove fruitless, as I should already have proceeded too far to return
alone, I was to continue on from Santa Fé with the fur traders,
returning to St. Louis, on the Mississippi, where I was to dispose of
some valuable jewels, hire men to form a strong caravan, and return to
the settlement by the Astoria trail.

As my adventures may be said but to commence at my departure upon this
commission, I will, before I enter upon my narrative, give the reader
some insight into the history and records of the Shoshones, or Snake
Indians, with whom I was domiciled, and over whom, although so young, I
held authority and command.



CHAPTER IV.


The Shoshones, or Snake Indians, are a brave and numerous people,
occupying a large and beautiful tract of country, 540 miles from east to
west, and nearly 300 miles from north to south. It lies betwixt 38° and
43° north latitude, and from longitude 116° west of Greenwich to the
shores of the Pacific Ocean, which there extend themselves to nearly the
parallel of 125° west longitude. The land is rich and fertile,
especially by the sides of numerous streams, where the soil is sometimes
of a deep red colour, and at others entirely black. The aspect of this
region is well diversified, and though the greatest part of it must be
classified under the denomination of rolling prairies, yet woods are
very abundant, principally near the rivers and in the low flat bottoms:
while the general landscape is agreeably relieved from the monotony of
too great uniformity by numerous mountains of fantastical shapes and
appearance, entirely unconnected with each other, and all varying in the
primitive matter of their conformation.

Masses of native copper are found at almost every step, and betwixt two
mountains which spread from east to west in the parallel of the rivers
Buona Ventura and Calumet, there are rich beds of galena, even at two or
three feet under ground; sulphur and magnesia appear plentiful in the
northern districts; while in the sand, of the creeks to the south gold
dust is occasionally collected by the Indians. The land is admirably
watered by three noble streams--the Buona Ventura, the Calumet, and the
Nú elejé sha wako, or River of the Strangers, while twenty rivers of
inferior size rush with noise and impetuosity from the mountains, until
they enter the prairies, where they glide smoothly in long serpentine
courses between banks covered with flowers and shaded by the thick
foliage of the western magnolia. The plains, as I have said, are gently
undulating, and are covered with excellent natural pastures of
moskito-grass, blue grass, and clover, in which innumerable herds of
buffaloes, and mustangs, or wild horses, graze, except during the
hunting season, in undisturbed security.

The Shoshones[6] are indubitably a very ancient people. It would be
impossible to say how long they may have been settled on this portion of
the continent. Their cast of features proves them to be of Asiatic
origin, and their phraseology, elegant and full of metaphors, assumes
all the graceful variety of the brightest pages of Saadi.

[Footnote 6: The American travellers (even Mr. Catlin, who is generally
correct) have entirely mistaken the country inhabited by the Shoshones.
One of them represents this tribe as "the Indians who inhabit that part
of the Rocky Mountains which lies on the Grand and Green River branches
of the Colorado of the West, the valley of Great Bear River, and the
hospitable shores of the Great Salt Lakes." It is a great error. That
the Shoshones may have been seen in the above-mentioned places is likely
enough, as they are a great nation, and often send expeditions very far
from their homes; but their own country lies, as I have said, betwixt
the Pacific Ocean and the 116th degree of west longitude. As to the
"hospitable" shores of the Great Salt Lake. I don't know what it means,
unless it be a modern Yankee expression for a tract of horrid swamps
with deadly effluvia, tenanted by millions of snakes and other "such
hospitable reptiles." The lake is situated on the western country of the
Crows, and I doubt if it has ever been visited by any Shoshone.]

A proof of their antiquity and foreign extraction is, that but few of
their records and traditions are local; they refer to countries on the
other side of the sea, countries where the summer is perpetual, the
population numberless, and the cities composed of great palaces, like
the Hindoo traditions, "built by the good genii, long before the
creation of man."

There is no doubt, indeed it is admitted by the other tribes that the
Shoshone is the parent tribe of the Comanches, Arrapahoes, and
Apaches--the Bedouins of the Mexican deserts. They all speak the same
beautiful and harmonious language, have the same traditions; and indeed
so recent have been their subdivisions, that they point out the exact
periods by connecting them with the various events of Spanish inland
conquest in the northern portion of Sonora.

It is not my intention to dwell long upon speculative theory, but I must
observe, that if any tradition is to be received with confidence it must
proceed from nations, or tribes, who have long been stationary. That the
northern continent of America was first peopled from Asia, there can be
little doubt, and if so, it is but natural to suppose that those who
first came over would settle upon the nearest and most suitable
territory. The emigrants who, upon their landing, found themselves in
such a climate and such a country as California, were not very likely to
quit it in search of a better.

That such was the case with the Shoshones, and that they are descendants
from the earliest emigrants, and that they have never quitted the
settlement made by their ancestors, I have no doubt, for all their
traditions confirm it.

We must be cautious how we put faith in the remarks of missionaries and
travellers upon a race of people little known. They seldom come into
contact with the better and higher classes, who have all the information
and knowledge; and it is only by becoming one of them, not one of their
tribes, but one of their chiefs, and received into their aristocracy,
that any correct intelligence can be gained.

Allow that a stranger was to arrive at Wapping, or elsewhere, in Great
Britain, and question those he met in such a locality as to the
religion, laws, and history of the English, how unsatisfactory would be
their implies; yet missionaries and travellers among these nations
seldom obtain farther access. It is therefore among the better classes
of the Indians that we must search for records, traditions, and laws. As
for their religion, no stranger will ever obtain possession of its
tenets, unless he is cast among them in early life and becomes one
of them.

Let missionaries say what they please in their reports to their
societies, they make no converts to their faith, except the pretended
ones of vagrant and vagabond drunkards, who are outcasts from
their tribes.

The traditions of the Shoshones fully bear out my opinion that they were
among the earliest of the Asiatic emigrants; they contain histories of
subsequent emigrations, in which they had to fight hard to retain their
lands; of the dispersion of the new emigrants to the north and south; of
the increase of numbers, and breaking up of portions of the tribes, who
travelled away to seek subsistence in the East.

We find, as might be expected, that the traditions of the Eastern
tribes, collected as they have occasionally been previous to their
extinction, are trifling and absurd; and why so? because, driven away to
the east, and finding other tribes of Indians, who had been driven there
before them, already settled there, they have immediately commenced a
life of continual hostility and change of domicile. When people have
thus been occupied for generations in continual warfare and change, it
is but natural to suppose that in such a life of constant action they
have had no time to transmit then traditions, and that ultimately they
have been lost to the tribe.

We must then look for records in those quarters where the population has
remained stationary for ages. It must be in the south-west of Oregon,
and in the northern parts of Upper California and Sonora, that the
philosopher must obtain the eventful history of vast warlike nations, of
their rise and of their fall. The western Apaches or the Shoshones, with
their antiquities and ruins of departed glory, will unfold to the
student's mind long pages of a thrilling interest, while in their
metaphors and rich phraseology, the linguist, learned in Asiatic lore,
will easily detect their ancient origin.

It is remarkable to observe, how generally traditions and records will
spread and be transmitted among nations destitute of the benefits of the
art of printing. In Europe, the mass were certainly better acquainted
with their ancient history before this great discovery that they are in
our days, as traditions were then handed down from family to family--it
was a duty, a sacred one, for a father to transmit them to his son,
unadulterated, such, in fact, as he had received them from his
ancestors. It is the same case with the Indians, who have remained
stationary for a long period. It is in the long evenings of February,
during the hunting seasons that the elders of the tribe will reveal to
the young warriors all the records of their history; and were a learned
European to assist at one of these "lectures upon antiquity," he would
admit that, in harmony, eloquence, strength of argument, and deduction,
the red-coloured orator could not easily be surpassed.

The Shoshones have a clear and lucid recollection of the far countries
whence they have emigrated. They do not allude to any particular period,
but they must have been among the first comers, for they relate with
great topographical accuracy all the bloody struggles they had to
sustain against newer emigrants. Often beaten, they were never
conquered, and have always occupied the ground which they had selected
from the beginning.

Unlike the great families of the Dahcotahs and Algonquins, who yet
retain the predominant characteristics of the wandering nations of
South-west Asia, the Shoshones seem to have been in all ages a nation
warlike, though stationary. It is evident that they never were a wealthy
people, nor possessed any great knowledge of the arts and sciences.
Their records of a former country speak of rich mountainous districts,
with balmy breezes, and trees covered with sweet and beautiful fruits;
but when they mention large cities, palaces, temples, and gardens, it is
always in reference to other nations, with whom they were constantly at
war; and these traditions would induce us to believe that they are
descendants of the Mancheoux Tartars.

They have in their territory on both sides of the Buona Ventura river
many magnificent remains of devastated cities; but although connected
with a former period of their history, they were not erected by the
Shoshones.

The fountains, aqueducts, the heavy domes, and the long graceful
obelisks, rising at the feet of massive pyramids, show indubitably the
long presence of a highly civilized people; and the Shoshones' accounts
of these mysterious relics may serve to philosophers as a key to the
remarkable facts of thousands of similar ruins found everywhere upon the
continent of America. The following is a description of events at a very
remote period, which was related by an old Shoshone sage, in their
evening encampment in the prairies, during the hunting season:--

"It is a long, long while! when the wild horses were unknown in the
country[7], and when the buffalo alone ranged the vast prairies then
huge and horrid monsters existed. The approaches of the mountains and
forests were guarded by the evil spirits[8], while the seashore,
tenanted by immense lizards,[9] was often the scene of awful conflicts
between man, the eldest son of light, and the mighty children of gloom
and darkness. Then, too, the land we now live in had another form;
brilliant stones were found in the streams; the mountains had not yet
vomited their burning bowels, and the great Master of Life was not angry
with his red children.

[Footnote 7: Horses were unknown until the arrival of the Spaniards.]

[Footnote 8: Skeletons of the mammoth are often found whole at the foot
of the Grand Serpent, a long rugged mountain which runs for 360 miles
under the parallel of 40 degrees north latitude. It extends from the
centre of the Shoshone territory to the very country of the Crows, that
is to say, from the 119th to the 113th degree west longitude. It is
possible that this race may not have been yet quite extinct in the
middle of the 17th century; for, indeed, in their family records, aged
warriors will often speak of awful encounters, in which their
great-great-grandfathers had fought against the monster. Some of them
have still in their possession, among other trophies of days gone by,
teeth and bones highly polished, which belong indubitably to this
animal, of which so little is known. Mr. Ross Cox, in the relation of
his travels across the Rocky Mountains, says, "that the Upper Crees, a
tribe who inhabit the country in the vicinity of the Athabasca river,
have a curious tradition with respect to these animals They allege 'that
these animals were of frightful magnitude, that they formerly lived in
the plains, a great distance in the south, where they had destroyed all
the game, after which they retired to the mountains. They killed
everything, and if their agility had been equal to their size and
ferocity, they would have destroyed all the Indians. One man asserted
that his great-grandfather told him he saw one of those animals in a
mountain pass, where he was hunting, and that on hearing its roar, which
he compared to loud thunder, the sight almost left his eyes, and his
heart became as small as that of a child's.'"]

[Footnote 9: A few miles from the Pacific Ocean, and at the foot of a
mountain called by the Shoshones the Dwelling of the Monster, were found
the remains of an immense lizard belonging to an extinct family of the
saurian species. Within a few inches of the surface, and buried in a bed
of shells and petrified fish, our old missionary, Padre Antonio, digged
up fifty-one vertebræ quite whole and well preserved. They were mostly
from twelve to eighteen inches in length and from eight to fourteen
inches in diameter, measuring in all more than fifteen feet in length.
Of the tail and neck but few vertebræ were found, but there were many
fragments of the ribs and of the leg-bones. All the vertebræ were
discovered in a continuous line, nearly joined together. The head, to
correspond with other parts of the animal, must have been twelve or
fourteen feet long, which would have given to the monster the almost
incredible length of eighty feet.

The Prince Seravalle, while digging, in the fall of the year 1834, for
an ammunition store on the western banks of the Buona Ventura, picked up
a beautiful curved ivory tusk, three feet long, which, had it not been
for its jet black colour, would have been amazingly alike to that of a
large elephant.

Some pieces of it (for unhappily it was sawn into several parts) are now
in the possession of the governor of Monterey and Mr. Lagrange, a
Canadian trader, who visited the territory in 1840.]

"One summer, and it was a dreadful one, the moon (_i.e._ the sun)
remained stationary for a long time; it was of a red blood colour, and
gave neither night nor days. Takwantona, the spirit of evil, had
conquered Nature, and the sages of the Shoshones foresaw many dire
calamities. The great _Medecines_ declared that the country would soon
be drowned in the blood of their nation. They prayed in vain, and
offered, without any success, two hundred of their fairest virgins in
sacrifice on the altars of Takwantona. The evil spirit laughed, and
answered to them with his destructive thunders. The earth was shaken and
rent asunder; the waters ceased to flow in the rivers, and large streams
of fire and burning sulphur rolled down from the mountains, bringing
with them terror and death. How long it lasted none is living to say;
and who could? There stood the bleeding moon; 'twas neither light nor
obscurity; how could man divide the time and the seasons? It may have
been only the life of a worm; it may have been the long age of a snake.

"The struggle was fearful, but at last the good Master of Life broke his
bonds. The sun shone again. It was too late! the Shoshones had been
crushed and their heart had become small; they were poor and had no
dwellings; they were like the deer of the prairies, hunted by the
hungry panther.

"And a strange and numerous people landed on the shores of the sea: they
were rich and strong; they made the Shoshones their slaves, and built
large cities, where they passed all their time. Ages passed: the
Shoshones were squaws; they hunted for the mighty strangers; they were
beasts, for they dragged wood and water to their great wigwams; they
fished for them, and they themselves starved in the midst of plenty.
Ages again passed: the Shoshones could bear no more; they ran away to
the woods, to the mountains, and to the borders of the sea; and, lo! the
great Father of Life smiled again upon them; the evil genii were all
destroyed, and the monsters buried in the sands.

"They soon became strong, and great warriors; they attacked the
strangers, destroyed their cities, and drove them like buffaloes, far in
the south, where the sun is always burning, and from whence they did
never return.

"Since that time, the Shoshones have been a great people. Many, many
times strangers arrived again; but being poor and few, they were easily
compelled to go to the east and to the north, in the countries of the
Crows, Flat-heads, Wallah Wallahs, and Jal Alla Pujees (the
Calapooses)."

I have selected this tradition out of many, as, allowing for metaphor,
it appears to be a very correct epitome of the history of the Shoshones
in former times. The very circumstance of their acknowledging that they
were, for a certain period, slaves to that race of people who built the
cities, the ruins of which still attest their magnificence, is a strong
proof of the outline being correct. To the modern Shoshones, and their
manners and customs, I shall refer in a future portion of my narrative.



CHAPTER V.


Every point having been arranged, I received my final instructions, and
letters for the Governor of Monterey, to which was added a heavy bag of
doubloons for my expenses. I bade farewell to the Prince and my father,
and with six well-armed Indians and the Padre Marini, I embarked in a
long canoe on the Buona Ventura river, and carried away by the current,
soon lost sight of our lonesome settlement.

We were to follow the stream to the southern lakes of the Buona Ventura,
where we were to leave our Indians, and join some half-bred
Wachinangoes, returning to Monterey, with the mustangs, or wild horses,
which they had captured in the prairies.

It was a beautiful trip, just at the commencement of the spring; both
shores of the river were lined with evergreens; the grass was luxuriant
and immense herds of buffaloes and wild horses were to be seen grazing
in every direction. Sometimes a noble stallion, his long sweeping mane
and tail waving to the wind, would gallop down to the water's edge, and
watch us as if he would know our intentions. When satisfied, he would
walk slowly back, ever and anon turning round to look at us again, as
if not quite so convinced of our peaceful intentions.

On the third night we encamped at the foot of an obelisk, in the centre
of some noble ruins. It was a sacred spot with the Shoshones. Their
traditions told them of another race, who had formerly lived there, and
which had been driven by them to the south. It must have been ages back,
for the hand of time, so lenient in this climate, and the hand of man,
so little given to spoil, had severely visited this fated city.

We remained there the following day, as Padre Marini was anxious to
discover any carvings or hieroglyphics from which he might draw some
conclusions; but our endeavours were not successful, and we could not
tarry longer, as we were afraid that the horse-hunters would break up
their encampments before we arrived. We, therefore, resumed our journey,
and many were the disquisitions and conjectures which passed between me
and the holy father, as to the high degree of civilization which must
have existed among the lost race who had been the architects of such
graceful buildings.

Four days more brought us to the southern shore of the St. Jago lake. We
arrived in good time, dismissed our Indians, and having purchased two
excellent mules, we proceeded on our journey, in company with the
horse-hunters, surrounded by hundreds of their captives, who were loudly
lamenting their destiny, and showed their sense of the injustice of the
whole proceeding by kicking and striking with their fore-feet at
whatever might come within the reach of their hoofs. Notwithstanding the
very unruly conduct of the prisoners, we arrived at Monterey on the
sixth evening.

The reader will discover, as he proceeds, that my adventures are about
to commence from this journey to Monterey; I therefore wish to remind
him that I was at this time not eighteen years old. I had a remembrance
of civilization previous to my arrival among the Indians, and as we
enjoyed every comfort and some luxuries at the settlement, I still had a
remembrance, although vague, of what had passed in Italy and elsewhere.
But I had become an Indian, and until I heard that I was to under-take
this journey, I had recollected the former scenes of my youth only to
despise them.

That this feeling had been much fostered by the idea that I should never
again rejoin them, is more than probable; for from the moment that I
heard that I was to proceed to Monterey, my heart beat tumultuously and
my pulse was doubled in its circulation. I hardly know what it was that
I anticipated, but certainly I had formed the idea of a
terrestrial paradise.

If not exactly a paradise, Monterey is certainly a sweet place; 'tis
even now a fairy spot in my recollection, although sobered down, and, I
trust, a little wiser than I was at that time. There certainly is an air
of happiness spread over this small town. Every one is at their ease,
everybody sings and smiles, and every hour is dedicated to amusement
or repose.

None of your dirty streets and sharp pavements; no manufactories with
their eternal smoke; no policemen looking like so many knaves of clubs;
no cabs or omnibuses splashing the mud to the right and to the left;
and, above all, none of your punctual men of business hurrying to their
appointments, blowing like steam-engines, elbowing everybody, and
capsizing the apple-stalls. No; there is none of these at Monterey.

There is a bay, blue and bottomless, with shores studded with tall
beautiful timber. There is a prairie lawn, spread like a carpet in
patterns composed of pretty wild flowers. Upon it stand hundreds of
cottage-built tenements, covered with the creeping vine. In the centre,
the presidio, or government-house; on one side the graceful spire of a
church, on the other the massive walls of a convent. Above all, is a sky
of the deepest cobalt blue, richly contrasting with the dark green of
the tall pines, and the uncertain and indescribable tints on the horizon
of these western prairies.

Even the dogs are polite at Monterey, and the horses which are always
grazing about, run up to you and appear as if they would welcome you on
your arrival; but the fact is that every traveller carries a bag of salt
at his saddle-bow, and by their rubbing their noses against it, it is
clear that they come to beg a little salt, of which they are very fond.
Everybody and every animal is familiar with you, and, strange to say,
the English who reside there are contented, and still more strange, the
Americans are almost honest. What a beautiful climate it must be
at Monterey!

Their hospitality is unbounded. "The holy Virgin bless thee," said an
old man who watched our coming; "tarry here and honour my roof." Another
came up, shook us by the hand, his eye sparkling with kind feelings. A
third took our mules by the bridles and led us to his own door, when
half-a-dozen pretty girls, with flashing dark eyes and long taper
fingers, insisted on undoing our leggings and taking off our spurs.

Queen city of California! to me there is poetry in thy very name, and so
would it be to all who delight in honesty, bonhommie, simplicity and the
dolce far niente.

Notwithstanding the many solicitations we received, Padre Marini went to
the convent, and I took up my quarters with the old governor.

All was new to me, and pleasant too, for I was not eighteen; and at such
a time one has strange dreams and fancies of small waists, and pretty
faces, smiling cunningly. My mind had sometimes reverted to former
scenes, when I had a mother and a sister. I had sighed for a partner to
dance or waltz with on the green, while our old servant was playing on
his violin some antiquated en avant deux.

Now I had found all that, and a merry time I had of it. True, the sack
of doubloons helped me wonderfully. Within a week after my arrival, I
had a magnificent saddle embossed with silver, velvet breeches instead
of cloth leggings, a hat and feathers, glossy pumps, red sash, velvet
round-about, and the large cape or cloak, the eternal, and sometimes the
only garment of a western Mexican grandee, in winter or in summer, by
night or by day. I say it was a merry time, and it agreed well with me.

Dance I did! and sing and court too. My old travelling companion, the
missionary, remonstrated a little, but the girls laughed at him, and I
clearly pointed out to him that he was wrong. If my English readers only
knew what a sweet, pretty little thing is a Monterey girl, they would
all pack up their wardrobes to go there and get married. It would be a
great pity, for with your mistaken ideas of comforts, with your love of
coal-fire and raw beef-steak, together with your severe notions of what
is proper or improper, you would soon spoil the place, and render it as
stiff and gloomy as any sectarian village of the United States, with its
nine banks, eighteen chapels, its one "a-b-c" school, and its immense
stone jail, very considerately made large enough to contain its whole
population.

The governor was General Morreno, an old soldier, of the genuine
Castilian stock; proud of his blood, proud of his daughters, of himself,
of his dignitaries, proud of everything--but withal, he was benevolence
and hospitality personified. His house was open to all (that is to say,
all who could boast of having white blood), and the time passed there in
continual fiestas, in which pleasure succeeded to pleasure, music to
dancing; courting with the eyes to courting with the lips, just as
lemonade succeeded to wine, and creams to grapes and peaches. But
unhappily, nature made a mistake in our conformation, and, alas! man
must repose from pleasure as he does from labour. It is a great pity,
for life is short, and repose is so much time lost; at least so thought
I at eighteen.

Monterey is a very ancient city; it was founded in the seventeenth
century by some Portuguese Jesuits, who established a mission there. To
the Jesuits succeeded the Franciscans, who were a good, lenient, lazy,
and kind-hearted set of fellows, funny, yet moral, thundering against
vice and love, and yet giving light penances and entire absolution.
These Franciscans were shown out of doors by the government of Mexico,
who wished to possess their wealth. It was unfortunate, as for the kind,
hospitable, and generous monks, the government substituted agents and
officers from the interior, who, not possessing any ties at Monterey,
cared little for the happiness of the inhabitants. The consequence is,
that the Californians are heartily tired of these agents of extortion;
they have a natural antipathy against custom-house officers; and, above
all, they do not like the idea of giving their dollars to carry on the
expenses of the Mexican wars, in which they feel no interest. Some
morning (and they have already very nearly succeeded in so doing) they
will haul down the Mexican flag from the presidio, drive away the
commissaries and custom-house receivers, declare their independence of
Mexico, and open their ports to all nations.

Monterey contains about three thousand souls, including the half-breeds
and Indians acting as servants in the different dwellings. The
population is wealthy, and not having any opportunity to throw away
their money, as in the eastern cities (for all their pleasures and
enjoyments are at no expense), they are fond of ornamenting their
persons, and their horses and saddles, with as much wealth as they can
afford. A saddle of 100_l_. in value is a common thing among the richer
young men, who put all their pride in their steeds and accoutrements.

The women dress richly and with an admirable taste; the unmarried girls
in white satin, with their long black hair falling upon their
shoulders; their brows ornamented with rich jewels when at home, and
when out, their faces covered with a long white veil, through which
their dark eyes will shine like diamonds.

The married women prefer gaudy colours, and keep their hair confined
close to their head, by a large comb. They have also another delightful
characteristic, which indeed the men share with them; I mean a beautiful
voice, soft and tremulous among the women, rich, sonorous, and majestic
among their lords. An American traveller has said: "a common
bullock-driver on horseback, delivering a message, seemed to speak like
an ambassador to an audience. In fact, the Californians appear to be a
people on whom a curse had fallen, and stripped them of everything but
their pride, their manners and their voices."

There is always much amusement in Monterey; and what betwixt
cockfighting, racing, fandangoing, hunting, fishing, sailing, and so
forth, time passes quickly away. Its salubrity is remarkable; there has
never been any disease--indeed sickness of any kind is unknown. No
toothache nor other malady, and no spleen; people die by accident or
from old age; indeed the Montereyans have an old proverb, "El que quiere
morir que se vaya del pueblo"--that is to say, "He who wishes to die
must leave the city."

While remaining there I had rather a perilous adventure. I had gone with
some of my friends to a great fishing party at the entrance of the bay,
which, by-the-bye, is one of the finest in the world, being twenty-four
miles in length and eighteen in breadth. The missionary, Padre Marini,
not being very well, had an idea that the sea-air would do him good, and
joined our company. We had many boats; the one in which the Padre and I
embarked was a well-shaped little thing, which had belonged to some
American vessel. It was pulled with two oars, and had a small mast
and sail.

Our fishing being successful, we were all in high glee, and we went on
shore to fry some of our victims for our afternoon's meal. During the
conversation, somebody spoke of some ancient ruins, fifteen miles north,
at the entrance of a small creek. The missionary was anxious to see
them, and we agreed that our companions should return to Monterey while
he and I would pass the night where we were, and proceed the next
morning on an exploring expedition to the ruins. We obtained from
another boat a large stone jug of water, two blankets, and a
double-barrelled gun. As soon as our companions quitted us, we pulled
the boat round to the northern point of the bay, and having selected
proper quarters for the night, we made a kind of shelter on the beach
with the oars, mast and sail, and lighted a fire to make ourselves more
comfortable. It was one of those beautiful mild evenings which can be
found only in the Bay of Monterey; the gentle and perfumed breeze softly
agitated the foliage around and above us, and as night came on, with its
myriads of stars and its silvery moon, the missionary having, for some
time, raised his eyes above in silent contemplation, reverted to scenes
of the past, and of other climes.

He spoke of Hurdwar, a far distant mission in the north of India, close
to the Himalayas. The Hindoos call It the "City of a Thousand Palaces;"
they say it was built by the genii on the very spot where Vishnu had
reposed himself for a few weeks, after one of his mystic transmutations,
in which he had conquered Siva, or Sahavedra, the spirit of evil. Though
not so well known, Hurdwar is a place still more sacred than Benares;
people assemble there once a year from all parts, and consecrate several
days to their ablutions in the purifying waters of the Ganges. In this
noble city is also held one of the greatest fairs of India, indeed of
all the world; and as its time is fixed upon the same month as that in
which the Hindoo devotees arrive at the city, numerous caravans from
Persia, Arabia, Cashmere, and Lahore, repair to the spot, and erect
their bazaars along the banks of the river, forming a street of many
miles. The concourse collected at these times has been ascertained to
number more than one million of souls.

There the Padre Marini had remained as a missionary for some years, all
alone. His flock of converts was but a small one; he had little to do,
and yet his mind could not be arrested by the study of all the wonders
around him; his heart was sad; for years he had had a sorrow which
weighed heavily upon him, and he was wretched. Before he had embraced
the solitude of a monastic life, he had with him a younger brother, of
whom he was very fond. The young man was a student in medicine, with
fair capacity and an energy which promised to advance him in his
profession. When Marini entered the convent, his brother went to Turkey,
where men of his profession were always certain of a good reception,
and for a long time was never heard of. At last, when the missionary was
ready to start for a distant mission, he learned that which proved so
destructive to his peace of mind. From Constantinople, his brother had
gone to Persia, where he was residing in easy circumstances; but,
ambitious of advancement, he had abjured the faith of his fathers and
become a follower of Mahommed.

It was a melancholy intelligence, and many were the tears of the good
monk. The first year of his arrival at Hurdwar, he met with a Jewish
merchant who had accompanied a Persian caravan. That man knew his
brother, the renegade, and informed the Padre that his brother had
fallen into disgrace, and as a punishment of his apostacy, was now
leading a life of privation and misery.

Deep and fervent were now the monk's prayers to heaven; he implored
forgiveness for his brother, and offered penance for him. Poor man! he
thought if he could but see him and talk to him, he would redeem him
from his apostacy; but, alas! his duty was in Hurdwar, he was bound
there and could not move. One day (it was during the fair) he had
wandered at a distance from the river, that he might not witness the
delusions of paganism, and his mind was intensely absorbed in prayer.
Anon, unusual sounds broke on his ears; sounds well known, sounds
reminding him of his country, of his beautiful Italy. They came from a
little bower ten steps before him; and as past scenes rushed to his
memory, his heart beat tremulously in his bosom; the monk recognized a
barcarole which he had often sung in his younger days: but although the
air was lively, the voice which sung it was mournful and sad. Stepping
noiselessly, he stood at the entrance of the bower. The stranger started
and arose! Their separation had been a long one, but neither the
furrowed cheeks and sallow complexion of the one, nor the turbaned head
of the other, could deceive them; and the two brothers fell in each
others arms.

On its return, the Persian caravan had one driver the less, for the
apostate was on his death-bed in the humble dwelling of his brother.
Once more a Christian, again reconciled to his God, he calmly awaited
his summons to a better world. For two weeks he lingered on, repenting
his error and praying for mercy. He died, and in the little jessamine
bower where he had met with the Mussulman, the monk buried the
Christian; he placed a cross upon his grave and mourned him long; but a
heavy load had been removed from his breast, and since that time he had
felt happy, having no weight on his mind to disturb him in the execution
of his sacred ministry.

Having narrated this passage in his history, the Padre Marini bid me
good night, and we prepared to sleep. I went to the boat, where,
stretching myself at the bottom, with my face turned towards the
glittering canopy above, I remained pensive and reflecting upon the
narrative of the monk, until at last I slept.



CHAPTER VI.


I felt chilly, and I awoke. It was daylight. I stood on my feet and
looked around me. I found myself floating on the deep sea, far from the
shore, the outline of which was tinged with the golden hues of morn. The
rope and stick to which the boat had been made fast towed through the
water, as the land-breeze, driving me gently, increased my distance from
the land. For some moments I was rather scared; the oars were left on
shore, and I had no means of propelling my little skiff.

In vain did I paddle with my hands and the stick which I had taken on
board. I turned and turned again round to all the points of the compass,
but to no purpose. At last I began to reflect. The sea was smooth and
quiet; so I was in no immediate danger. The Padre, when he awoke in the
morning, would discover my accident, and perhaps see the boat; he would
hasten to town, but he would not arrive till the evening; for he was an
old man, and had to walk twenty-five miles. Boats would be despatched
after me; even the Mexican schooner which lay in the bay. The next
morning I was certain to be rescued, and the utmost of my misfortune
would amount to a day of fast and solitude. It was no great matter; so I
submitted to my fate, and made a virtue of necessity.

Happily for me, the boat belonged to an American exceedingly fond of
fishing; and consequently it contained many necessaries which I had
before overlooked. Between the foremost thwart and the bow there was
half a barrel filled with ashes, some pieces of charcoal, and some
dried wood; under the stern-sheets was a small locker, in which I
discovered a frying-pan, a box with salt in it, a tin cup, some herbs
used instead of tea by the Californians, a pot of honey, and another
full of bear's grease. Fortunately, the jar of water was also on board
as well as my lines, with baits of red flannel and white cotton. I threw
them into the water, and prepared to smoke my cigarito. In these
countries no one is without his flint, steel, tinder, and tobacco.

Hours passed so. My fishing being successful, I lighted a fire, and soon
fried a few fine mackerel; but by-and-bye the sun reached its highest
position, and the scorching became so intolerable that I was obliged to
strip and spread my clothes, and even my shirt, upon the benches, to
obtain a shelter. By that time I had lost sight of land, and could only
perceive now and then some small black points, which were the summits of
the tall pines.

As soon as my meal was finished, I don't know why, but instead of
sleeping a decent siesta of two hours, the Spanish tonic to digest a
dinner, I never awoke before sunset; and only then because I began to
feel a motion which was far from being pleasant. In fact, the waves were
beginning to rise in sharp ridges, covered with foam; the mild
land-breeze had changed into a cool sharp westerly wind.

A fair wind, however, was a comfort, and as I put on my clothes, I began
to think that by making a proper use of the helm and standing upright in
the boat, my body would serve as a small sail, when "He, he, hoe!"
shouted twenty voices, on the larboard side of me. I started with
astonishment, as may be imagined, and turning round, perceived, fifty
yards from me, a large boat driving before the waves, impelled on by ten
oars. It was filled with men, casks, and kegs, and one at the helm was
making signals, apparently inviting me to stop. A few minutes after, we
were close to each other; and I daresay our astonishment was
mutual,--theirs to see me alone and without oars; mine, to behold such a
wretched spectacle. They were evidently the crew of a wrecked vessel,
and must have undergone frightful privations and fatigues, so emaciated
was their appearance.

No time, however, was to be lost. All of them asked for water, and
pointed to the horizon, to know in which direction they should go. My
stone jug was full; I handed it to the man at the helm, who seemed to be
the captain; but the honest and kind-hearted fellow, pouring out a small
quantity in the cup, gave some to all his companions before he would
taste any himself. The jug was a large one, containing two gallons or
more, but of course was soon emptied.

I gave them a fried mackerel, which I had kept for my supper; they
passed it to the captain, and, in spite of his generous denial, they
insisted upon his eating it immediately. Seeing which, I showed them
nine or ten other raw fishes, two or three of which were heavy, and
proposed to cook them. They sang and laughed: cook the fish! No; little
cooking is wanted when men are starving. They divided them brotherly;
and this supply, added to the honey for the captain and the bear's
grease for the sailors, seemed to have endowed them with new life.

The captain and four of the men, with oars, stepped into my skiff. At
that moment the stars were beginning to appear; and pointing out to him
one in the east as a guide, we ploughed our way towards the shore,
greatly favoured both by the wind and the waves. In a singular mixture
of English, French, Italian, and Latin, the captain made me comprehend
that his vessel had been a Russian brig, bound from Asitka, in Russian
America, to Acapulco, in Mexico, for a supply of grain, tallow, and
spirits; that it had been destroyed by fire during the night, scarcely
allowing time for the men to launch the long-boat. No provisions could
be procured; the boxes and kegs that had been taken in the hurry were of
no use; that they had been rowing forty-eight hours without food or
water, and were ignorant of their distance from the shore; and, finally,
that they had perceived my skiff a good half-hour before I awoke;
thought it at first empty, but saw me rising, and called to me, in the
hope that I would guide them to a landing-place. In return I explained
to him my adventure as well as I could, and made him promises of plenty
for the next day; but I might have talked for ever to no purpose; the
poor fellow, overpowered with fatigue, and now feeling secure, had sunk
into a deep sleep.

At the break of day we made the land, at the entrance of a small river
and close to some find old ruins. It was the very spot where I had
intended to go with the Padre. There were a few wild horses rambling in
the neighbourhood; I cleaned my gun, loaded it again, and killed one;
but not before the tired and hungry crew, stretched on the strand,
proved by their nasal concerts that for the present their greatest
necessity was repose after their fatigues. There were twenty of them,
including the captain.

I had led too much of an Indian life, not to know how to bear fatigue,
and to be rapid in execution. The sun was not more than three hours
high, when I had already cooked the best part of the horse. All the
unfortunates were still asleep, and I found it was no easy matter to
awake them. At last, I hit upon an expedient which did not fail; I stuck
the ramrod of my gun into a smoking piece of meat, and held it so that
the fumes should rise under their very noses. No fairy wand was ever
more effective; in less than two minutes they were all chewing and
swallowing their breakfast, with an energy that had anything but sleep
in it. It is no easy matter to satisfy twenty hungry Russians; but still
there is an end to everything. One of them knelt before me and kissed my
feet. Poor fellow! he thought that I had done a great deal for him and
his companions, forgetting that perhaps I owed my own life to them.

The men were tired: but when they heard that they could reach a city in
the afternoon, they made preparation for departure with great alacrity.
We pulled slowly along the coast, for the heat was intense, and the
rowers fast losing their strength. At one o'clock I landed at my former
encampment. The padre had, of course, left the oars, sail, and blankets.
My skiff was rigged in a moment; and out of the blankets, those in the
long-boat managed to make a sail, an oar and a long pole tied together
answering for a mast. In doubling the northern point of the bay, I
perceived the Mexican schooner and many boats, pretty far at sea. No
doubt they were searching for me.

At six o'clock in the evening we landed at Monterey, amidst the
acclamations of a wondering crowd.

I was a general favourite, and my loss had occasioned much alarm; so
that when I landed I was assailed with questions from every quarter. The
women petted me, some kissed me (by-the-bye, those were d'un certain
âge), and all agreed that I should burn half a dozen of candles on the
altar of the Virgin Mary. There was one, however, who had wept for me;
it was Isabella, a lovely girl of fifteen, and daughter to the old
Governor. The General, too, was glad to see me; he liked me very much,
because we played chess while smoking our cigars, and because I allowed
him to beat me, though I could have given him the queen and the move. I
will confess, sotto voce, that this piece of policy had been hinted to
me by his daughters, who wished me to find favour in his sight.

"Dios te ayuda niño," said the Governor to me; I feared we should never
play chess any more. "Que tonteria, andar a dormir in una barca, quando
se lo podia sobre tierra firma!" (What folly to go sleep in a boat, when
it can be done upon solid ground!)

I told him the story of the poor Russians, and in spite of his pride,
the tears started in his eye, for he was kind-hearted. He took the
captain into his own house, and gave orders concerning the accommodation
of the crew; but the universal hospitality had not waited for commands
to show itself, and the poor fellows, loaded with attention and
comforts, soon forgot the dangers which they had escaped. Fifteen days
after they were sent on board the Mexican schooner, to the bay of St.
Francisco, where a Russian brig of war, bound to Asitka, had just
arrived. However, they did not part from us with empty hands. The
Montereyans having discovered their passionate love for tallow and
whiskey, had given them enough of these genteel rafraîchissements, to
drown care and sorrow for a long while. As to the captain, he received
the attention which his gallant conduct entitled him to, and on the eve
of his departure he was presented with a trunk, of tolerable dimensions,
well filled with linen and clothes.

A merry night was passed to celebrate my escape. Guns had been fired,
flags hoisted to recall the boats, and at ten o'clock in the night, the
whole population was gamboling on the lawn, singing, dancing, and
feasting, as if it was to have been our last day of pleasure
during life.

Thus passed away four weeks, and I must admit to my shame, I had
willingly missed two chances of going to Santa Fé. One morning, however,
all my dreams of further pleasure were dispelled. I was just meditating
upon my first declaration of love, when our old servant arrived with
four Indian guides. He had left the settlement seven days, and had come
almost all the way by water. He had been despatched by my father to
bring me home, if I had not yet left Monterey. His intelligence was
disastrous; the Prince had been murdered by the Crows; the Shoshones had
gone on a war expedition to revenge the death of the Prince; and my
father himself, who had been daily declining, expected in a short time
to rejoin his friend in a better world. Poor Isabella! I would have
added, poor me! but the fatal news brought had so excited me, that I had
but few thoughts to give to pleasure and to love. My immediate return
was a sacred duty, and, besides, the Shoshones expected me to join with
them on my first war-path. The old Governor judged it advisable that I
should return home by sea, as the Arrapahoes Indians were at that moment
enemies of the Shoshones, and would endeavour to cut me off if I were to
ascend the Buona Ventura. Before my departure I received a visit from an
Irishman, a wild young fellow of the name of Roche, a native of Cork,
and full of fun and activity. He had deserted on the coast from one of
the American vessels, and in spite of the promised reward of forty
dollars, he was never discovered, and his vessel sailed without him.

General Morreno was at first angry, and would have sent the poor devil
to jail, but Roche was so odd and made so many artful representations of
the evils he had suffered on board on account of his being a Catholic,
that the clergy, and, in fact, all Monterey, interfered. Roche soon
became a valuable acquisition to the community; he was an indefatigable
dancer, and a good fiddler. Besides, he had already accustomed himself
to the Mexican manners and language, and in a horse or buffalo hunt none
were more successful. He would tell long stories to the old women about
the wonders of Erin, the miracles of St. Patrick, and about the stone at
Blarney. In fact, he was a favourite with every one, and would have
become rich and happy, could he have settled. Unfortunately for him, his
wild spirit of adventure did not allow him to enjoy the quiet of a
Montereyan life, and hearing that there was a perspective of getting his
head broken in the "Settlement of the Grandees," he asked permission to
join my party.

I consented that Roche should accompany me: with my servant and the
Indians, we embarked on board of the schooner. Many were the presents I
received from the good people; what with pistols, powder, horses,
fusils, knives, and swords, I could have armed a whole legion. The
Governor, his daughters, and all those that could get room in the boats,
accompanied me as far as the northern part of the bay, and it was with a
swelling heart that I bade my farewell to them all.



CHAPTER VII.


Nothing could have been more fortunate than our proceeding by sea. On
the fourth day we were lying to, at a quarter of a mile from the shore,
exactly under the parallel of 39° north latitude, and at the southern
point of a mountain called the Crooked Back-bone. The Indians first
landed in a small canoe we had provided ourselves with, to see if the
coast was clear; and in the evening the schooner was far on her way
back, while we were digging a cachette to conceal the baggage, which we
could not carry. Even my saddle was wrapped up in a piece of canvas, and
deposited in a deep bed of shale. Among other things presented to me in
Monterey, were two large boxes covered with tin, and containing English
fire-works, which, in the course of events, performed prodigies, and
saved many scalps when all hope of succour had been entirely given up.
The Montereyans are amazingly fond of these fire-works, and every vessel
employed in the California trade for hides has always a large supply
of them.

When all our effects were concealed, we proceeded first in an easterly,
and next in a north-westerly direction, in the hope of coming across
some of the horses belonging to the tribe. We had reckoned right. At the
break of day we entered a natural pasture of clover, in which hundreds
of them were sleeping and grazing; but as we had walked more than thirty
miles, we determined to take repose before we should renew our journey.

I had scarcely slept an hour when I was roused by a touch on my
shoulder. At first, I fancied it was a dream, but as I opened my eyes, I
saw one of my Indians with his fingers upon his lips to enjoin me to
silence, while his eyes were turned towards the open prairie. I
immediately looked in that direction, and there was a sight that acted
as a prompt anti-soporific. About half a mile from us stood a band of
twenty Indians, with their war-paint and accoutrements, silently and
quietly occupied in tying the horses. Of course they were not of our
tribe, but belonged to the Umbiquas, a nation of thieves on our northern
boundary, much given to horse-stealing, especially when it was not
accompanied by any danger. In the present instance they thought
themselves safe, as the Shoshones had gone out against the Crows, and
they were selecting at their leisure our best animals. Happily for us,
we had encamped amidst thick bushes, upon a spot broken and difficult of
access to quadrupeds, otherwise we should have been discovered, and
there would have been an end to my adventures.

We awoke our companions, losing no time in forming a council of war.
Fight them we could not; let them depart with the horses was out of the
question. The only thing to be done was to follow them, and wait an
opportunity to strike a decisive blow. At mid-day, the thieves having
secured as many of the animals as they could well manage, turned their
backs to us, and went on westward, in the direction of the fishing
station where we had erected our boat-house; the place where we had
first landed on coming from Europe.

We followed them the whole day, eating nothing but the wild plums of the
prairies. At evening, one of my Indians, an experienced warrior, started
alone to spy into their camp, which he was successful enough to
penetrate, and learn the plan of their expedition, by certain tokens
which could not deceive his cunning and penetration. The boat-house
contained a large sailing-boat, besides seven or eight skiffs. There
also we had in store our stock of dried fish and fishing apparatus, such
as nets, &c. As we had been at peace for several years, the house or
post, had no garrison, except that ten or twelve families of Indians
were settled around it.

Now, the original intention of the Umbiquas had been only to steal
horses; but having discovered that the half a dozen warriors, belonging
to these families, had gone to the settlement for firearms and
ammunition, they had arranged to make an attack upon the post, and take
a few scalps before returning home by sea and by land, with our nets,
boats, fish, &c. This was a serious affair. Our carpenter and smith had
disappeared, as I have said before; and as our little fleet had in
consequence become more precious, we determined to preserve it at any
sacrifice. To send an Indian to the settlement would have been useless,
inasmuch as it would have materially weakened our little force, and,
besides, help could not arrive in time. It was better to try and reach
the post before the Umbiquas; where, under the shelter of thick logs,
and with the advantage of our rifles, we should be an equal match for
our enemies, who had but two fusils among their party, the remainder
being armed with lances, and bows and arrows. Our scout had also
gathered, by overhearing their conversation, that they had come by sea,
and that their canoes were hid somewhere on the coast, in the
neighbourhood of the post.

By looking over the map, the reader will perceive the topography of the
country. Fifty miles north from us were the forks of the
Nu-eleje-sha-wako river, towards which the Umbiquas were going, to be
near to water, and also to fall upon the path from the settlement to the
post. Thus they would intercept any messenger, in case their expedition
should have been already discovered. Their direct road to the post was
considerably shorter, but after the first day's journey, no sweet grass
nor water was to be found. The ground was broken and covered with thick
bushes, which would not allow them to pass with the horses. Besides this
reason, an Indian always selects his road where he thinks he has nothing
to fear. We determined to take the direct road to the post, and chance
assisted us in a singular manner. The Indians and my old servant were
asleep, while I was watching with the Irishman Roche, I soon became
aware that something was moving in the prairie behind us, but what, I
could not make out. The buffaloes never came so far west, and it was not
the season for the wolves. I crawled out of our bush, and after a few
minutes found myself in the middle of a band of horses who had not
allowed themselves to be taken, but had followed the tracks of their
companions, to know what had become of them. I returned, awoke the
Indians, and told them; they started with their lassoes, while I and
Roche remained to sleep.

Long before morn the Indian scout guided us to three miles westward,
behind a swell of the prairie. It was an excellent precaution, which
prevented any Umbiqua straggler from perceiving us, a rather
disagreeable event, which would have undoubtedly happened, as we were
camped only two miles from them, and the prairie was flat until you came
to the swell just mentioned. There we beheld seven strong horses,
bridled with our lassoes. We had no saddles; but necessity rides without
one. The Indians had also killed a one-year-old colt, and taken enough
of the meat to last us two days; so that when we started (and we did so
long before the Umbiquas began to stir) we had the prospect of
reaching the fishing-post thirty hours before them.

[Illustration: "We halted on the bank of a small river."]

We knew that they would rest two hours in the day, as they were
naturally anxious to keep their stolen horses in good condition, having
a long journey before them ere they would enter into their own
territory. With us, the case was different, there were but forty miles,
which we could travel on horseback, and we did not care what became of
the animals afterwards. Consequently, we did not spare their legs; the
spirited things, plump as they were, having grazed two months without
any labour, carried us fast enough. When we halted on the bank of a
small river, to water them and let them breathe, they did not appear
much tired, although we had had a run of twenty-eight miles.

At about eleven o'clock we reached the confines of the rocky ground;
here we rested for three hours, and took a meal, of which we were very
much in want, having tasted nothing but berries and plums since our
departure from the schooner, for we had been so much engrossed by the
digging of the cachette that we had forgotten to take with us any kind
of provision.

Our flight, or, to say better, our journey, passed without anything
remarkable. We arrived, as we had expected, a day and a half before the
Umbiquas: and, of course, were prepared for them. The squaws, children,
and valuables were already in the boat-house with plenty of water, in
case the enemy should attempt to fire it. The presence of a hostile
war-party had been singularly discovered two days before; three children
having gone to a little bay at a short distance from the post, to catch
some young seals, discovered four canoes secured at the foot of a rock,
while, a little farther, two young men were seated near a fire cooking
comfortably one of the seals they had taken. Of course the children
returned home, and the only three men who had been left at the post
(three old men) went after their scalps. They had not returned when we
arrived; but in the evening they entered the river with the scalps of
the two Umbiquas, whom they had surprised, and the canoes, which were
safely deposited in the store.

Our position was indeed a strong one. Fronting us to the north we had a
large and rapid river; on the south we were Banked by a ditch forty feet
broad and ten feet deep, which isolated the building from a fine open
ground, without my bush, tree, or cover; the two wings were formed by
small brick towers twenty feet high, with loop-holes, and a door ten
feet from the ground; the ladder to which, of course, we took inside.
The only other entrance, the main one, in fact, was by water: but it
could be approached only by swimming. The fort was built of stone and
brick, while the door, made of thick posts, and lined with sheets of
copper, would have defied, for a long time, the power of their axes or
fire. Our only anxiety was about the inflammable quality of the roof,
which was covered with pine shingles. Against such an accident, however,
we prepared ourselves by carrying water to the upper rooms, and we could
at any time, if it became necessary, open holes in the roof, for we
greater facility of extinguishing the fire. In the meantime we covered
it with a coat of clay in the parts which were most exposed.

We were now ten men, seven of us armed with firearms and pretty certain
of our aim: we had also sixteen women and nine children, boys and girls,
to whom various posts were assigned, in case of a night attack. The six
warriors who had gone to the settlement for firearms would return in a
short time, and till then we had nothing to do but to be cautious, to
wait for the enemy, and even bear their first attack without using our
firearms, that they might not suspect our strength inside. One of the
old men, a cunning fellow, who had served his time as a. brave warrior,
hit upon a plan which we followed. He proposed that another man should
accompany him to the neighbourhood of the place where the canoes had
been concealed, and keep up the fires, so that the smoke should lull all
suspicion. The Umbiquas, on their arrival before the post, would
indubitably send one of their men to call the canoe-keepers; this one
they would endeavour to take alive, and bring him to the post. One of
the canoes was consequently launched in the river, and late in the
evening the two Indians, well armed with fusils, started on this
expedition.



CHAPTER VIII.


The Umbiquas came at last; their want of precaution showed their
certainty of success. At all events, they did not suspect there were any
firearms in the block-house, for they halted within fifty yards from
the eastern tower, and it required more than persuasion to prevent Roche
from firing. The horses were not with them, but before long we saw the
animals on the other side of the river, in a little open prairie, under
the care of two of their party, who had swam them over, two or three
miles above, for the double purpose of having them at hand in case of
emergency, and of giving them the advantage of better grazing than they
could possibly find on our side. This was an event which we had not
reckoned upon, yet, after all, it proved to be a great advantage to us.

The savages, making a very close inspection of the outer buildings, soon
became convinced of the utter impossibility of attacking the place by
any ordinary means. They shot some arrows, and once fired with a fusil
at the loop-holes, to ascertain if there were any men within capable of
fighting; but as we kept perfectly quiet, their confidence augmented;
and some followed the banks of the river, to see what could be effected
at the principal entrance. Having ascertained the nature of its
material, they seemed rather disappointed, and retired to about one
hundred yards to concert their plans.

It was clear that some of them were for firing the building; but, as we
could distinguish by their gestures, these were comparatively few.
Others seemed to represent that, by doing so, they would indubitably
consume the property inside, which they were not willing to destroy,
especially as there was so little danger to be feared from within. At
last one who seemed to be a chief pointed first with his fingers in the
direction where the canoes had been left; he pointed also to the river,
and then behind him to the point of the horizon where the sun rises.
After he had ceased talking, two of his men rose, and went away to the
south-west. Their plan was very evident. These two men, joined with the
two others that had been left in charge, were to bring the canoes round
the point and enter the river. It would take them the whole night to
effect this, and at sunrise they would attack and destroy the front door
with their tomahawks.

With the darkness of night a certain degree of anxiety came over us, for
we knew not what devilish plan the Indians might hit upon; I placed
sentries in every corner of the block-house, and we waited in silence;
while our enemies, having lighted a large fire, cooked their victuals,
and though we could not hear the import of their words, it was evident
that they considered the post as in their power. Half of them, however,
laid down to sleep, and towards midnight the stillness was uninterrupted
by any sound, whilst their half-burnt logs ceased to throw up their
bright flames. Knowing how busy we should be in the morning, I thought
that till then I could not do better than refresh myself by a few hours'
repose. I was mistaken.

I had scarcely closed my eyes when I heard the dull regular noise of the
axe upon trees. I looked cautiously; the sounds proceeded from the
distance, and upon the shores of the river, and behind the camp of the
savages, dark forms were moving in every direction, and we at last
discovered that the Umbiquas were making ladders to scale the upper
doors of our little towers.

This, of course, was to us a matter of little or no consideration, as we
were well prepared to receive them: yet we determined not to let them
know our strength within until the last moment, when we should be
certain with our firearms to bring down five of them at the first
discharge. Our Indians took their bows and selected only such arrows as
were used by their children when fishing, so that the hostile party
might attribute their wounds and the defence of their buildings to a few
bold and resolute boys.

At morn, the Umbiquas made their appearance with two ladders, each
carried by three men, while others were lingering about and giving
directions, more by sign than word. They often looked towards the
loop-holes, but the light of day was yet too faint for their glances to
detect us; and besides, they were lulled into perfect security by the
dead silence we had kept during the whole night. Indeed, they thought
the boat-house had been deserted, and the certain degree of caution with
which they proceeded was more the effect of savage cunning and nature
than the fear of being seen or of meeting with any kind of resistance.

The two ladders were fixed against one of the towers, and an Indian
ascended upon each; at first they cast an inquisitive glance through the
holes upon both sides of the door, but we concealed ourselves. Then all
the Umbiquas formed in a circle round the ladders, with their bows and
spears, watching the loop-holes. At the chiefs command, the first blows
were struck, and the Indians on the ladders began to batter both doors
with their tomahawks. While in the act of striking for the third time,
the Umbiqua on the eastern door staggered and fell down the ladder; his
breast had been pierced by an arrow. At the same moment, a loud scream
from the other tower showed that there also we had had the same success.

The Umbiquas retired precipitately with their dead, uttering a yell of
disappointment and rage, to which three of our boys, being ordered so to
do, responded with a shrill war-whoop of defiance. This made the
Umbiquas quite frantic, but they were now more prudent. The arrows that
had killed their comrades were children-arrows; still there could be no
doubt but that they had been shot by warriors. They retired behind a
projecting rock on the bank of the river, only thirty yards in our
front, but quite protected from our missiles. There they formed a
council of war, and waited for their men and canoes, which they expected
to have arrived long before. At that moment, the light fog which had
been hovering over the river was dispersed, and the other shore became
visible, and showed us a sight which arrested our attention. There, too,
the drama of destruction was acting, though on a smaller scale.

Just opposite to us was a canoe, the same in which our two Indians had
gone upon their expedition the day before. The two Umbiquas keeping the
stolen horses were a few yards from it; they had apparently discovered
it a few minutes before, and were uncertain what course to pursue; they
heard both the war-whoop and the yell of their own people, and were not
a little puzzled; but as soon as the fog was entirely gone they
perceived their party, where they had sheltered themselves, and probably
in obedience to some signals from it, they prepared to cross the river.
At the very moment they were untying the canoe, there was a flash and
two sharp reports; the Indians fell down--they were dead. Our two
scouts, who were concealed behind some bushes, then appeared, and began
coolly to take the scalps, regardless of a shower of arrows from the
yelling and disappointed Umbiquas. Nor was this all: in their rage and
anxiety, our enemies had exposed themselves beyond the protection of the
rock; they presented a fair mark, and just as the chief was looking
behind him to see if there was any movement to fear from the
boat-house, four more of his men fell under our fire.

The horrible yells which followed, I can never describe, although the
events of this my first fight are yet fresh in my mind. The Umbiquas
took their dead and turned to the east, in the direction of the
mountains, which they believed would be their only means of escaping
destruction. They were now reduced to only ten men, and their appearance
was melancholy and dejected. They felt that they were doomed never more
to return to their own home.

We gathered from our scouts opposite that the six warriors of the post
had returned from the settlement, and lay somewhere in ambush; this
decided us. Descending by the ladders which the Indians had left behind
them, we entered the prairie path, so as to bar their retreat in every
direction.

Let me wind up this tale of slaughter. The Umbiquas fell headlong on the
ambush, by which four more of them were killed; the remainder dispersed
in the prairie, where they tried in vain to obtain a momentary refuge in
the chasms. Before mid-day they were all destroyed, except one, who
escaped by crossing the river. However, he never saw his home again;
for, a long time afterwards, the Umbiquas declared that not one ever
returned from that fatal horse-stealing expedition.

Thus ended my first fight; and yet I had not myself drawn a single
trigger. Many a time I took a certain aim; but my heart beat quick, and
I felt queer at the idea of taking the life of a man. This did not
prevent me from being highly complimented; henceforward Owato Wanisha
was a warrior.

The next day I left the boat-house with my own party, I mean the seven
of us who had come from Monterey. Being all well mounted, we shortly
reached the settlement, from which I had been absent more than
three months.

Events had turned out better than I had anticipated. My father seemed to
recover rapidly from the shock he had received. Our tribe, in a fierce
inroad upon the southern country of the Crows, had inflicted upon them a
severe punishment Our men returned with a hundred and fifty scalps, four
hundred horses, and all the stock of blankets and tobacco which the
Crows had a short time before obtained from the Yankees in exchange for
their furs. For a long time, the Crows were dispirited and nearly broken
down, and this year they scarcely dared to resort to their own
hunting-grounds. The following is a narrative of the death of the Prince
Seravalle, as I heard it from individuals who were present.

The year after we had arrived from Europe, the Prince had an opportunity
of sending letters to St. Louis, Missouri, by a company of traders
homeward bound. More than three years had elapsed without any answer;
but a few days after my departure for Monterey, the Prince having heard
from a party of Shoshones, on their return from Fort Hall, that a large
caravan was expected there, he resolved to proceed to the fort himself,
for the double purpose of purchasing several articles of hardware, which
we were in need of, and also of forwarding other instructions to
St. Louis.

Upon his arrival at the fort, he was agreeably surprised at finding, not
only letters for him, together with various bales of goods, but also a
French savant, bound to California, whither he had been sent by some
scientific society. He was recommended to us by the Bishop and the
President of the college at St. Louis, and had brought with him as
guides five French trappers, who had passed many years of their lives
rambling from the Rocky Mountains to the southern shores of Lower
California.

The Prince left his Shoshones at the fort, to bring on the goods at a
fitting occasion, and, in company with his new guests, retraced his
steps towards our settlement. On the second day of their journey they
met with a strong war-party of the Crows, but as the Shoshones were then
at peace with all their neighbours, no fear had been entertained. The
faithless Crows, however, unaware, as well as the Prince, of the close
vicinity of a Shoshone hunting-party, resolved not to let escape an
opportunity of obtaining a rich booty without much danger. They allowed
the white men to pursue their way, but followed them at a distance, and
in the evening surprised them in their encampment so suddenly that they
had not even time to seize their arms.

The prisoners, with their horses and luggage, were conducted to the spot
where their captors had halted, and a council was formed immediately.
The Prince, addressing the chief, reproached him bitterly with his
treachery; little did he know of the Crows, who are certainly the
greatest rascals among the mountains. The traders and all the Indian
tribes represent them as "thieves never known to keep a promise or to
do an honourable act."

None but a stranger will ever trust them. They are as cowardly as cruel.
Murder and robbery are the whole occupation of their existence, and woe
to the traders or trappers whom they may meet with during their
excursions, if they are not at least one-tenth of their own number. A
proof of their cowardice is that once Roche, myself, and a young
Parisian named Gabriel, having by chance fallen upon a camp of thirteen
Crows and three Arrapahoes, they left us their tents, furs, and dried
meats; the Arrapahoes alone showing some fight, in which one of them was
killed; but to return to our subject. The chief heard the Prince
Seravalle with a contemptuous air, clearly showing that he knew who the
Prince was, and that he entertained no good-will towards him. His
duplicity, however, and greediness, getting the better of his hatred, he
asked the prisoners what they would give to obtain their freedom. Upon
their answer that they would give two rifles, two horses, with one
hundred dollars, he said that all which the prisoners possessed when
taken, being already his own, he expected much more than that. He
demanded that one of the Canadians should go to Fort Hall, with five
Crows, with an order from the Prince to the amount of sixty blankets,
twenty rifles, and ten kegs of powder. In the meantime the prisoners
were to be carried into the country of the Crows, where the goods were
to follow them as soon as obtained; upon the reception of which, the
white men should be set at liberty. Understanding now the intention of
their enemies, and being certain that, once in the strongholds of the
Crows, they would never be allowed to return, the Prince rejected the
offer; wishing, however, to gain time, he made several others, which, of
course, were not agreed upon. When the chief saw that he was not likely
to obtain anything more than that which he had already become master of,
he threw away his mask of hypocrisy, and resuming at once his real
character, began to abuse his victims.

"The Pale-faces," he said, "were base dogs, and too great cowards to
fight against the Crows. They were less than women, concealing
themselves in the lodges of the Shoshones, and lending them their
rifles, so that having now plenty of arms and ammunition, that tribe had
become strong, and feared by all. But now they would kill the
Pale-faces, and they would see what colour was the blood of cowards.
When dead, they could not give any more rifles, or powder, to the
Shoshones, who would then bury themselves like prairie dogs in their
burrows, and never again dare to cross the path of a Crow."

The Prince replied to the chief with scorn. "The Crows," he said, "ought
not to speak so loud, lest they should be heard by the Shoshone braves,
and lies should never be uttered in open air. What were the Crows before
the coming of the white men, on the shores of the Buona Ventura? They
had no country of their own, for one part of it had been taken by the
Black-feet, and the other by the Arrapahoes and the Shoshones. Then the
Crows were like doves hunted by the hawks of the mountains. They would
lie concealed in deep fissures of the earth, and never stir but during
night, so afraid were they of encountering a Shoshone. But the white men
assembled the Shoshones around their settlements, and taught them to
remain at peace with their neighbours. They had been so for four years;
the Crows had had time to build other wigwams. Why did they act like
wolves, biting their benefactors, instead of showing to them their
gratitude?"

The Prince, though an old man, had much mettle in him, especially when
his blood was up. He had become a Shoshone in all except ferocity; he
heartily despised the rascally Crows. As to the chief, he firmly grasped
the handle of his tomahawk, so much did he feel the bitter taunts of his
captive. Suddenly, a rustling was heard, then the sharp report of a
rifle, and one of the Crows, leaping high in the air, fell down
a corpse.

"The chief hath spoken too loud," said the Prince; "I hear the step of a
Shoshone; the Crows had better run away to the mountains, or their flesh
will fatten the dogs of our village."

An expression of rage and deep hatred shot across the features of the
chief, but he stood motionless, as did all his men, trying to catch the
sounds, to ascertain in which direction they should fly from the danger.

"Fear has turned the Crows into stones," resumed the Prince, "what has
become of their light feet? I see the Shoshones."

"The dog of a Pale-face will see them no more," replied the savage, as
he buried his tomahawk in the skull of the unfortunate nobleman, who
was thus doomed to meet with an inglorious death in a distant land.

The other prisoners, who were bound, could of course offer no
resistance. The French savant and two of his guides were butchered in an
instant, but before the remainder of the party could be sacrificed, a
well-directed volley was poured upon the compact body of the Crows, who
rushed immediately to the woods for cover, leaving behind them twenty
dead and wounded besides their cruel chief. Then from the thickets
behind appeared thirty Shoshones, who immediately gave chase, leaving
only one of their men to free the three remaining trappers, and watch
over the body of their murdered friend and legislator.

A sharp tiralleur fire from their respective covers was carried on
between the Shoshones and Crows for half an hour, in which the Crows
lost ten more scalps, and having at length reached a rugged hill full of
briars and bushes, they took fairly to their heels, without even
attempting to answer the volleys poured after them. The victims were
carried to the settlement, and the very day they were consigned to their
grave, the Shoshones started for the land of the Crows. The results of
the expedition I have mentioned already.

With my father I found the three trappers; two of whom were preparing to
start for California, but the third, a young Parisian, who went by the
name of Gabriel, preferred remaining with us, and never left me until a
long time afterwards, when we parted upon the borders of the
Mississippi, when I was forcing my way towards the Atlantic Ocean. He
and Roche, when I parted with them, had directed their steps back to the
Shoshones; they delighted too much in a life of wild and perilous
adventure to leave it so soon, and the Irishman vowed that if he ever
returned within the pale of civilization, it would be to Monterey, the
only place where, in his long wanderings, he had found a people
congenial to his own ideas.

When, in the meeting of a great council, I apprised the tribe of the
attack made upon the boat-house by the Umbiquas, and of its results,
there was a loud burst of satisfaction. I was made a War-Chief on the
spot; and it was determined that a party should immediately proceed to
chastise the Umbiquas. My father did not allow me to join it, as there
was much to be done in settling the affairs of the Prince, and paying
the debts he had contracted at Fort Hall; consequently, I led a clerk's
life for two months, writing accounts, &c.--rather a dull occupation,
for which I had not the smallest relish. During this time, the
expedition against the Umbiquas had been still more successful than that
against the Crows, and, in fact, that year was a glorious one for the
Shoshones, who will remember it a long while, as a period in which
leggings and moccasins were literally sewn with human hair, and in which
the blanched and unburied bones of their enemies, scattered on the
prairie, scared even the wolves from crossing the Buena Ventura. Indeed,
that year was so full of events, that my narration would be too much
swelled if I were to enumerate them all.

I had not forgotten the cachette at our landing-place. Every thing was
transferred to the boat-house, and the hot days of summer having already
begun to render the settlement unpleasant, we removed to the sea-shore,
while the major part of the tribe went to hunt in the rolling prairies
of the south.

The presents of the good people of Monterey proved to be a great
acquisition to my father. There were many books, which he appropriated
to himself; being now too aged and infirm to bear the fatigues of Indian
life, he had become fond of retirement and reading. As to Gabriel and
Roche, we became inseparable, and though in some points we were not on
an equality, yet the habit of being constantly together and sharing the
same tent united us like brothers.

As my readers will eventually discover, many daring deeds did we perform
together, and many pleasant days did we pass, both in the northern
cities of Mexico and western prairies of Texas, hunting with the
Comanches, and occasionally unmasking some rascally Texans, who, under
the paint of an Indian, would commit their murders and depredations upon
the remote settlements of their own countrymen.



CHAPTER IX.


In the remarks which I am about to make relative to the Shoshones, I may
as well observe that the same observations will equally apply to the
Comanches, Apaches, and Arrapahoes, as they are but subdivisions and
offsets from the original stock--the Shoshones. The Wakoes, who have not
yet been mentioned, or even seen, by any other travellers, I shall
hereafter describe.

I may as well here observe, that although the Shoshones are always at
peace with the Comanches and Apaches, they had for a long while been at
war with their descendants, the Arrapahoes, as well as the whole of the
Dacotah and Algonquin tribes, as the Crows and Rickarees, Black-feet,
Nez-percés, and others.

First, as to their religion--a question highly interesting, and perhaps
throwing more light upon their origin than can be collected from
tradition, manners, and customs. From my knowledge of the Indians, I
believe them, if not more religious, most certainly to be more
conscientious, than most Christians. They all believe in one
God--Manitou, the author of good, and worship him as such; but believing
that human nature is too gross to communicate with the Arbitrator of all
things, they pray generally through the intervention of the elements or
even of certain animals, in the same manner that the Catholics address
themselves to their saints.

The great Manitou is universal among this family, and indeed among all
the savage tribes of North America. The interceding spirit alone varies,
not with the tribe and nation, but according to individual selection.
Children are taught to know "Kishe Manito" (the Almighty), but no more.
When the boy is verging upon manhood, he selects his own personal deity,
or household god, which is made known to him in his dreams. When he
states his intention of seeking the spirit, the parents of the young man
order him to fast for three days; then they take away his bow and
arrows, and send him far into the woods, the mountains, or the prairies,
to wait for the visitation.

An empty stomach and inaction in the lone wilderness are certain to
produce reveries and waking dreams. If the young man is thirsty, he
thinks of water; of fire or sunshine, if he feels cold; of buffalo or
fish, if he is hungry. Sometimes he meets with some reptile, and upon
any one of these or other natural causes or productions, his imagination
will work, until it becomes wholly engrossed by it.

Thus fire and water, the sun or the moon, a star, a buffalo, or a
snake--any one of them, will become the subject of his thoughts, and
when he sleeps, he naturally dreams of that object which he has been
brooding over.

He then returns home, engraves upon a stone, a piece of wood, or a skin,
the form of this "spirit" which his dream has selected for him, wears it
constantly on his person, and addresses it, not as a god, but as an
intercessor, through which his vows must pass before they can reach the
fearful Lord of all things.

Some men among the Indians acquire, by their virtues and the regularity
of their lives, the privilege of addressing the Creator without any
intervention, and are admitted into the band, headed by the masters of
ceremonies and the presidents of the sacred lodges, who receive
neophytes and confer dignities. Their rites are secret; none but a
member can be admitted. These divines, as of old the priest of Isis and
Osiris, are deeply learned; and truly their knowledge of natural history
is astonishing. They are well acquainted with astronomy and botany, and
keep the records and great transactions of the tribes, employing certain
hieroglyphics, which they paint in the sacred lodges, and which none but
their caste or order can decipher.

Those few who, in their journey in the wilderness, have "dreamt" of a
snake and made it their "spirit," become invariably "Medecines." This
reptile, though always harmless in the western countries (except in some
parts of the mountains on the Columbia, where the rattlesnake abounds),
has ever been looked upon with dread by the Indians, who associate it
with the evil spirit. When "Kishe Manito" (the good God) came upon
earth, under the form of a buffalo, to alleviate the sufferings of the
red man, "kinebec" (the serpent), the spirit of evil gave him battle.
This part of their creed alone would almost establish their
Brahminic origin.

The "Medecine" inspires the Indian with awe and dread; he is respected,
but he has no friends, no squaws, no children. He is the man of dark
deeds, he that communes with the spirit of evil; he takes his knowledge
from the earth, from the fissures of the rocks, and knows how to combine
poisons; he alone fears not "Anim Teki" (thunder). He can cure disease
with his spells, and with them he can kill also; his glance is that of
the snake, it withers the grass, fascinates birds and beasts, troubles
the brain of man, and throws in his heart fear and darkness.

The Shoshone women, as well as the Apache and Arrapahoe, all of whom are
of the Shoshone race, are very superior to the squaws of the Eastern
Indians. They are more graceful in their forms, and have more personal
beauty, I cannot better describe them than by saying that they have more
similitude to the Arabian women than any other race. They are very clean
in their persons and in their lodges; and all their tribes having both
male and female slaves, the Shoshone wife is not broken down by hard
labour, as are the squaws of the eastern tribes; to their husbands they
are most faithful, and I really believe that any attempt upon their
chastity would prove unavailing. They ride as bravely as the men, and
are very expert with the bow and arrow, I once saw a very beautiful
little Shoshone girl, about ten years old, the daughter of a chief, when
her horse was at full speed, kill, with her bow and arrow, in the course
of a minute or two, nine out of a flock of wild turkeys which she was
in chase of.

Their dress is both tasteful and chaste. It is composed of a loose
shirt, with tight sleeves, made of soft and well-prepared doe-skin,
almost always dyed blue or red; this shirt is covered from the waist by
the toga, which falls four or six inches below the knee, and is made
either of swan-down, silk, or woollen stuff; they wear leggings of the
same material as the shirt, and cover their pretty little feet with
beautifully-worked moccasins; they have also a scarf, of a fine rich
texture, and allow their soft and long raven hair to fall luxuriantly
over their shoulder, usually ornamented with flowers, but sometimes with
jewels of great value; their ankles and wrists are also encircled by
bracelets; and indeed to see one of these young and graceful creatures,
with her eyes sparkling and her face animated with the exercise of the
chase, often recalled to the mind a nymph of Diana, as described
by Ovid[10].

[Footnote 10: The Comanches women very much resemble the common squaws,
being short and broad in figure. This arises from the Comanches
secluding the women and not permitting them air and exercise.]

Though women participate not in the deeper mysteries of religion, some
of them are permitted to consecrate themselves to the divinity, and to
make vows of chastity, as the vestals of Paganism or the nuns of the
Catholic convents. But there is no seclusion. They dress as men, covered
with leather from head to foot, a painting of the sun on their breasts.
These women are warriors, but never go out with the parties, remaining
always behind to protect the villages. They also live alone, are
dreaded, but not loved. The Indian hates anything or any body that
usurps power, or oversteps those bounds which appear to him as natural
and proper, or who does not fulfil what he considers as their
intended destiny.

The fine evenings of summer are devoted, by the young Indian, to
courtship. When he has made his choice, he communicates it to his
parents, who take the business into their hands. Presents are carried to
the door of the fair one's lodge; if they are not accepted, there is an
end to the matter, and the swain must look somewhere else; if they are
taken in, other presents are returned, as a token of agreement. These
generally consist of objects of women's workmanship, such as garters,
belts, moccasins, &c.; then follows a meeting of the parents, which
terminates by a speech from the girl's father, who mentions his daughter
as the "dove," or "lily," or "whisper of the breeze," or any other
pretty Indian name which may appertain to her. She has been a good
daughter, she will be a dutiful wife, her blood is that of a warrior's;
she will bear noble children to her husband, and sing to them his great
deeds, &c. The marriage day arrives at last; a meal of roots and fruits
is prepared; all are present except the bridegroom, whose arms, saddles,
and property are placed behind the fair one. The door of the lodge is
open, its threshold lined with flowers; at sunset the young man presents
himself, with great gravity of deportment. As soon as he has taken a
seat near the girl, the guests begin eating, but in silence; but soon a
signal is given by the mothers, each guest rises, preparatory to
retiring. At that moment, the two lovers cross their hands, and the
husband speaks for the first time, interrogatively:--"Faithful to the
lodge, faithful to the father, faithful to his children?" She answers
softly: "Faithful, ever faithful, in joy and in sorrow, in life and in
death"--"Penir, penir-asha, sartir nú cohta, lebeck nú tanim." It is the
last formula,--the ceremony is accomplished. This may seem very simple
and ridiculous; to me it appeared almost sublime. Opinions depend upon
habits and education.

The husband remains a whole year with his father-in-law, to whom belongs
by right the produce of his hunting, both skins and flesh. The year
expired, his bondage Is over, and he may if he wishes it, retire with
his wife to his own father's, or construct a lodge for his own use. The
hunter brings his game to his door, except when a heavy animal; there
ends his task; the wife skins and cuts it; she dries the skin and cures
the meat. Yet if the husband is a prime hunter, whose time is precious,
the woman herself, or her female relations, go out and seek the game
where It has been killed. When a man dies, his widow wears mourning
during two or four years; the same case happens with the widower, only
his duties are not so strict as that of a woman; and it often happens
that, after two years, he marries his sister-in-law, if there is any.
The Indians think it a natural thing; they say that a woman will have
more care of her sister's children than of those of a stranger. Among
the better classes of Indians, children are often affianced to each
other, even at the age of a few months. These engagements are sacred,
and never broken.

The Indians in general have very severe laws against murder, and they
are pretty much alike among the tribes; they are divided into two
distinct sections--murder committed in the nation and out of the nation.

When a man commits a murder upon his own people, he runs away from his
tribe, or delivers himself to justice. In this latter case, the nearest
relation of the victim kills him openly, in presence of all the
warriors. In the first case, he is not pursued, but his nearest relation
is answerable for the deed, and suffers the penalty, if by a given time
he has not produced the assassin. The death Is instantaneous, from the
blow of a tomahawk. Often the chief will endeavour to make the parties
smoke the pipe of peace; if he succeeds, all ends here; If not, a victim
must be sacrificed. It is a stern law, which sometimes brings with its
execution many great calamities. Vengeance has often become hereditary,
from generation to generation; murders have succeeded murders, till one
of the two families has deserted the tribe.

It is, no doubt, owing to such circumstances that great families, or
communities of savages bearing the same type and speaking the same
tongue, have been subdivided into so many distinct tribes. Thus it has
been with the Shoshones, whose emigrant families have formed the
Comanches, the Apaches, and the Arrapahoes. The Tonquewas have since
sprung from the Comanches, the Lepans and the Texas[11] (now extinct)
from the Apaches, and the Navahoes from the Arrapahoes. Among the
Nadowessies or Dacotahs, the subdivision has been still greater, the
same original tribe having given birth to the Konsas, the Mandans, the
Tetons, the Yangtongs, Sassitongs, Ollah-Gallahs, the Siones, the Wallah
Wallahs, the Cayuses, the Black-feet, and lastly the Winnebagoes.

[Footnote 11: Formerly there was a considerable tribe of Indians, by the
name of Texas, who have all disappeared, from continual warfare.]

The Algonquin species, or family, produced twenty-one different tribes:
the Micmacs, Etchemins, Abenakis, Sokokis, Pawtuckets, Pokanokets,
Narragansets, Pequods, Mohegans, Lenilenapes, Nanticokes, Powatans,
Shawnees, Miamis, Illinois, Chippewas, Ottawas, Menomonies, Sacs, Foxes,
and the Kickapoos, which afterwards subdivided again into more than a
hundred nations.

But, to return to the laws of murder:--It often happens that the nephew,
or brother of the murderer, will offer his life in expiation. Very often
these self-sacrifices are accepted, principally among the poorer
families, but the devoted is not put to death; he only loses his
relationship and connection with his former family; he becomes a kind of
slave or bondsman for life in the lodges of the relations of
the murdered.

Sometimes, too, the guilty man's life is saved by a singular and very
ancient law; it, however, happens but rarely. If the murdered leaves a
widow with children, this widow may claim the criminal as her own, and
he becomes her husband nominally, that is to say, he must hunt and
provide for the subsistence of the family.

When the murderer belongs to a hostile tribe, war is immediately
declared; if, on the contrary, he belongs to a friendly nation, the
tribe will wait three or four months till the chiefs of that nation come
to offer excuses and compensation. When they do this, they bring
presents, which they leave at the door of the council lodge, one side of
which is occupied by the relations of the victims, the other by the
chiefs and warriors of the tribe, and the centre by the ambassadors. One
of these opens the ceremony by pronouncing a speech of peace, while
another offers the pipe to the relations. If they refuse it, and the
great chief of the tribe entertains a particular regard for the other
nation, he rises and offers himself to the relations the calumet of
conciliation. If refused still, all the children and babes of the
murdered one's family are called into the lodge, and the pipe passed a
third time in that part of the lodge. Then if a child even two or three
months old touches it, the Indians consider the act as a decision of the
great Master of Life, the pipe goes round, the presents are carried in,
and put at the feet of the plaintiffs. When on the contrary, the calumet
passes untouched, the murderer's life alone can satisfy the tribe.

When the chiefs of the tribe of the murderer leave their village to come
and offer excuses, they bring with them the claimed victim, who is well
armed. If he is held in high estimation, and has been a good warrior and
a good man, the chiefs of his tribe are accompanied by a great number of
their own warriors, who paint their faces before entering the council
lodge; some in black with green spots, some all green (the pipe of peace
is always painted green).

The relations of the murdered man stand on one side of the lodge, the
warriors of the other tribe opposite to them. In the centre is the
chief, who is attended by the bearer of the pipe of peace on one side of
him, and the murderer on the other. The chief then makes a speech, and
advances with the pipe-bearer and the murderer towards the relatives of
the deceased; he entreats them, each man separately, to smoke the pipe
which is offered by the pipe-bearer, and when refused, offered to the
next of the relatives.

During this time the murderer, who is well armed, stands by the chiefs
side, advancing slowly, with his arrow or his carbine pointed, ready to
fire at any one of the relations who may attempt to take his life before
the pipe has been refused by the whole of them. When such is the case,
if the chiefs want peace, and do not care much for the murderer, they
allow him to be killed without interference; if, on the contrary, they
value him and will not permit his death, they raise the war-whoop, their
warriors defend the murderer's life, and the war between the two tribes
may be said to have commenced.

Most usually, however, the pipe of peace is accepted, in preference to
proceeding to such extremities.

I will now mention the arms and accoutrement of the Shoshone warriors,
observing, at the same time, that my remarks refer equally to the
Apaches, the Arrapahoes, and the Comanches, except that the great skill
of the Shoshones turns the balance in their favour. A Shoshone is always
on horseback, firmly sitting upon a small and light saddle of his own
manufacture, without any stirrups, which indeed they prefer not to have,
the only Indians using them being chiefs and celebrated warriors, who
have them as a mark of distinction, the more so that a saddle and
stirrups are generally trophies obtained in battle from a
conquered enemy.

They have too good a taste to ornament their horses as the Mexicans, the
Crows, or the Eastern Indians do; they think that the natural grace and
beauty of the animal are such that anything gaudy would break its
harmony; the only mark of distinction they put upon their steeds (and
the chiefs only can do so) is a rich feather or two, or three quills of
the eagle, fixed to the rosette of the bridle, below the left ear; and
as a Shoshone treats his horse as a friend, always petting him, cleaning
him, never forcing or abusing him, the animal is always in excellent
condition, and his proud eyes and majestic bearing present to the
beholder the beau ideal of the graceful and the beautiful. The elegant
dress and graceful form of the Shoshone cavalier, harmonizes admirably
with the wild and haughty appearance of the animal.

The Shoshone allows his well-combed locks to undulate with the wind,
only pressed to his head by a small metal coronet, to which he fixes
feathers or quills, similar to those put to his horse's rosette. This
coronet is made either of gold or silver, and those who cannot afford to
use these metals make it with swan-down or deer-skin, well-prepared and
elegantly embroidered with porcupine quills; his arms are bare and his
wrists encircled with bracelets of the same material as the coronet; his
body, from the neck to the waist, is covered with a small, soft
deer-skin shirt, fitting him closely without a single wrinkle; from the
waist to the knee he wears a many-folded toga, of black, brown, red, or
white woollen or silk stuff, which he procures at Monterey or St.
Francisco, from the Valparaiso and China traders; his leg from the ankle
to the hip is covered by a pair of leggings of deer-skin, dyed red or
black with some vegetable acids, and sewed with human hair, which hangs
flowing, or in tresses, on the outward side; these leggings are
fastened a little above the foot by other metal bracelets, while the
foot is encased in an elegantly finished mocassin, often edged with
small beautiful round crimson shells, no bigger than a pea, and found
among the fossil remains of the country.

Round his waist, and to sustain the toga, he wears a sash, generally
made by the squaws out of the slender filaments of the silk-tree, a
species of the cotton-wood, which is always covered with long threads,
impalpable, though very strong. These are wove together, and richly
dyed. I am sure that in Paris or in London, these scarfs, which are from
twelve to fifteen feet long, would fetch a large sum among the ladies of
the haut ton. I have often had one of them shut up in my hand so that it
was scarcely to be perceived that I had anything enclosed in my fist.

Suspended to this scarf, they have the knife on the left side and the
tomahawk on the right. The bow and quiver are suspended across their
shoulders by bands of swan-down three inches broad, while their long
lance, richly carved, and with a bright copper or iron point, is carried
horizontally at the side of the horse. Those who possess a carbine have
it fixed on the left side by a ring and a hook, the butt nearly close to
the sash, and the muzzle protruding a little before the knee.

The younger warriors, who do not possess the carbine, carry in its stead
a small bundle of javelins (the jerrid of the Persians), with which they
are very expert, for I have often seen them, at a distance of ten feet,
bury one more than two feet deep in the flanks of a buffalo. To complete
their offensive weapons, they have the lasso, a leather rope fifty feet
long, and as thick as a woman's little finger, hanging from the pommel
of their saddles; this is a terrible arm, against which there is but
little possibility of contending, even if the adversary possess a rifle,
for the casting of the lasso is done with the rapidity of thought, and
an attempt to turn round and fire would indubitably seal his fate: the
only means to escape the fatal noose is to raise the reins of your horse
to the top of your head, and hold any thing diagonally from your body,
such as the lance, the carbine, or anything except the knife, which you
must hold in your right hand, ready for use.

The chances then are: if the lasso falls above your head, it must slip,
and then it is a lost throw, but if you are quick enough to pass your
knife through the noose, and cut it as it is dragged back, then the
advantage becomes yours, or, at least is equally divided, for then you
may turn upon your enemy, whose bow, lance, and rifle, for the better
management of his lasso, have been left behind, or too firmly tied about
him to be disengaged and used in so short a time. He can only oppose you
with the knife and tomahawk, and if you choose, you may employ your own
lasso; in that case the position is reversed; still the conquest belongs
to the most active of the two.

It often happens, that after having cut the lasso and turned upon his
foe, an Indian, without diminishing the speed of his horse, will pick up
from the ground, where he has dropped it, his rifle or his lance; then,
of course, victory is in his hands. I escaped once from being lassoed in
that way. I was pursued by a Crow Indian; his first throw failed, so did
his second and his third; on the fourth I cut the rope, and wheeling
round upon him, I gave chase, and shot him through the body with one of
my pistols. The noose at every cast formed such an exact circle, and
fell with such precision, the centre above my head, and the
circumference reaching from the neck to the tail of my horse, that if I
had not thrown away my rifle, lance, bow, and quiver, I should
immediately have been dragged to the ground. All the western Indians and
Mexicans are admirably expert in handling this deadly weapon.

Before the arrival of the Prince Seravalle, the Shoshones had bucklers,
but they soon cast them aside as an incumbrance: the skill which was
wasted upon the proper management of this defensive armour being now
applied to the improved use of the lance. I doubt much, whether, in the
tournaments of the days of chivalry, the gallant knights could show to
their ladye-love greater skill than a Shoshone can exhibit when fighting
against an Arrapahoe or a Crow[12].

[Footnote 12: The Crows, our neighbours, who are of the Dacotah race,
are also excellent horsemen, most admirably dressed and fond of show,
but they cannot be compared to the Shoshones; they have not the same
skill, and, moreover, they abuse and change their horses so often that
the poor brutes are never accustomed to their masters.]

But the most wonderful feat of the Shoshone, and also of the Comanche
and Apache, is the facility with which he will hang himself alongside
his horse in a charge upon an enemy, being perfectly invisible to him,
and quite invulnerable, except through the body of his horse. Yet in
that difficult and dangerous position he will use any of his arms with
precision and skill. The way in which they keep their balance is very
simple; they pass their right arm, to the very shoulder, through the
folds of the lasso, which, as I have said, is suspended to the pommel or
round the neck of the horse; for their feet they find a support in the
numerous loops of deer-skin hanging from the saddle; and thus suspended,
the left arm entirely free to handle the bow, and the right one very
nearly so, to draw the arrow, they watch their opportunity, and unless
previously wounded, seldom miss their aim.

I have said that the Shoshones threw away their bucklers at the
instigation of the Prince Seravalle, who also taught them the European
cavalry tactics. They had sense enough to perceive the advantage they
would gain from them, and they were immediately incorporated, as far as
possible, with their own.

The Shoshones now charge in squadrons with the lance, form squares,
wheel with wonderful precision, and execute many difficult manoeuvres;
but as they combine our European tactics with their own Indian mode of
warfare, one of the most singular sights is to witness the disappearance
behind their horses, after the Indian fashion, of a whole body of
perhaps five hundred horse when in full charge. The effect is most
strange; at one moment, you see the horses mounted by gallant fellows,
rushing to the conflict; at a given signal, every man has disappeared,
and the horses, in perfect line appear as if charging, without riders,
and of their own accord, upon the ranks of the enemy.

I have dwelt perhaps too long upon the manners and habits of these
people; I cannot help, however, giving my readers a proof of the
knowledge which the higher classes among them really possess. I have
said that they are good astronomers, and I may add that their intuitive
knowledge of geometry is remarkable. I once asked a young chief what he
considered the height of a lofty pine. It was in the afternoon, about
three o'clock. He walked to the end of the shadow thrown by the
pine-tree, and fixed his arrow in the ground, measured the length of the
arrow, and then the length of the shadow thrown by it; then measuring
the shadow of the pine, he deducted from it in the same proportion as
the difference between the length of the arrow, and the length of its
shadow, and gave me the result. He worked the Rule of Three without
knowing it.

But the most remarkable instance occurred when we were about to cross a
wide and rapid river, and required a rope to be thrown across, as a stay
to the men and horses. The question was, what was the length of the rope
required; _i.e._, what was the width of the river? An old chief stepped
his horse forward, to solve the problem, and he did it as follows:--He
went down to the side of the river, and fixed upon a spot as the centre;
then he selected two trees, on the right and left, on the other side, as
near as his eye could measure equidistant from where he stood. Having so
done, he backed his horse from the river, until he came to where his eye
told him that he had obtained the point of an equilateral triangle.
Thus, in the diagram he selected the two trees, A and B, walked back to
E, and there fixed his lance. He then fell back in the direction E D,
until he had, as nearly as he could tell, made the distance from A E
equal to that from E D, and fixed another lance. The same was repeated
to E C, when the last lance was fixed. He then had a parallelogram; and
as the distance from F to E was exactly equal to the distance from E to
G, he had but to measure the space between the bank of the river and E,
and deduct it from E G, and he obtained the width of the river required.

[Illustration]

I do not think that this calculation, which proved to be perfectly
correct, occupied the old chief more than three minutes; and it must be
remembered that it was done in the face of the enemy. But I resume my
own history.



CHAPTER X.


In narrating the unhappy death of the Prince, I have stated that the
Crows bore no good-will to the white men established among the
Shoshones. That feeling, however, was not confined to that tribe; it was
shared by all the others within two or three hundred miles from the
Buona Ventura river, and it was not surprising! Since our arrival, the
tribe had acquired a certain degree of tactics and unity of action which
was sufficient in itself to bear down all their enemies, independent of
the immense power they had obtained from their quantity of fire-arms and
almost inexhaustible ammunition. All the other nations were jealous of
their strength and resources, and this jealousy being now worked up to
its climax, they determined to unite and strike a great blow, not only
to destroy the ascendancy which the Shoshones had attained, but also to
possess themselves of the immense wealth which they foolishly supposed
the Europeans had brought with them to the settlement.

For a long time previous to the Crow and Umbiqua expedition, which I
have detailed, messengers had been passing between tribe and tribe, and,
strange to say, they had buried all their private animosities to form a
league against the common enemy, as were considered the Shoshones. It
was, no doubt, owing to this arrangement that the Crows and Umbiquas
showed themselves so hardy; but the prompt and successful retaliation of
the Shoshones cooled a little the war spirit which was fomenting around
us. However, the Arrapahoes having consented to join the league, the
united confederates at once opened the campaign, and broke upon our
country in every direction.

We were taken by surprise; for the first three weeks they carried
everything before them, for the majority of our warriors were still
hunting. But having been apprised of the danger, they returned in
haste, and the aspect of affairs soon changed. The lost ground was
regained inch by inch. The Arrapahoes having suffered a great deal,
retired from the league, and having now nothing to fear from the south,
we turned against our assailants on our northern boundaries.
Notwithstanding the desertion of the Arrapahoes, the united tribes were
still three times our number, but they wanted union, and did not act in
concert. They mustered about fifteen thousand warriors, from the
Umbiquas, Callapoos, Cayuses, Nez-percés, Bonnaxes, Flat-heads, and some
of the Crows, who had not yet gained prudence from their last
"brushing." The superiority of our arms, our tactics, discipline, and
art of intrenchment, together with the good service of two clumsy old
Spanish four-pounders, enabled us not only in a short time to destroy
the league, but also to crush and annihilate for ever some of our
treacherous neighbours. As it would be tedious to a stranger to follow
the movements of the whole campaign, I will merely mention that part of
it in which I assisted[13].

[Footnote 13: The system of prairie warfare is so different from ours,
that the campaign I have just related will not be easily understood by
those acquainted only with European military tactics.

When a European army starts upon an expedition, it is always accompanied
by waggons, carrying stores of provisions and ammunition of all kinds.
There is a commissariat appointed for the purpose of feeding the troops.
Among the Indians there is no such thing, and except a few pieces of
dried venison, a pound weight of powder, and a corresponding quantity of
lead, if he has a rifle, but if not, with his lance, bow, arrows, and
tomahawk, the warrior enters the war-path. In the closer country, for
water and fuel, he trusts to the streams and to the trees of the forests
or mountains; when in the prairie, to the mud holes and chasms for
water, and to the buffalo-dung for his fire. His rifle and arrows will
always give him enough of food.

But these supplies would not, of course, be sufficient for a great
number of men; ten thousand for example. A water-hole would be drained
by the first two or three hundred men that might arrive, and the
remainder would be obliged to go without any. Then, unless perchance
they should fall upon a large herd of buffaloes, they would never be
able to find the means of sustaining life. A buffalo, or three or four
deer can be killed every day, by hunters out of the tract of an
expedition; this supply would suffice for a small war party, but it
would never do for an army.

Except in the buffalo ranges, where the Comanches, the Apaches, and the
Southern Shoshones will often go by bands of thousands, the generality
of the Indians enter the path in a kind of _echelonage_; that is to say,
supposing the Shoshones to send two thousand men against the Crows, they
would be divided into fifteen or twenty bands, each commanded by an
inferior chief. The first party will start for reconnoitering. The next
day the second band, accompanied by the great chiefs, will follow, but
in another track; and so on with a third, till three hundred or three
hundred and fifty are united together. Then they will begin their
operations, new parties coming to take the place of those who have
suffered, till they themselves retire to make room for others. Every new
comer brings a supply of provisions, the produce of their chase in
coming, so that those who are fighting need be in no fear of wanting the
necessaries of life. By this the reader will see that a band of two
thousand warriors, only four or five hundred are effectually fighting,
unless the number of warriors agreed upon by the chiefs prove too small,
when new reinforcements are sent forward.]  We were divided into four
war parties: one which acted against the Bonnaxes and the Flat-heads, in
the north-east; the second, against the Cayuses and Nez-percés, at the
forks of the Buona Ventura and Calumet rivers; the third remained near
the settlement, to protect it from surprise; while the fourth, a very
small one, under my father's command, and to which I was attached,
remained in or about the boat-house, at the fishing station. Independent
of these four parties, well-armed bands were despatched into the Umbiqua
country both by land and sea.

In the beginning, our warfare on the shores of the Pacific amounted
merely to skirmishes, but by-and-bye, the Callapoos having joined the
Umbiquas with a numerous party, the game assumed more interest. We not
only lost our advantages in the Umbiqua country, but were obliged little
by little to retire to the Post; this, however, proved to be our
salvation. We were but one hundred and six men, whilst our adversaries
mustered four hundred and eighty, and yet full one-fifth of their number
were destroyed in one afternoon, during a desperate attack which they
made upon the Post, which had been put into an admirable state
of defence.

The roof had been covered with sheets of copper, and holes had been
opened in various parts of the wall for the use of the cannon, of our
possession of which the enemy was ignorant The first assault was
gallantly conducted, and every one of the loopholes was choked with
their balls and arrows. On they advanced, in a close and thick body,
with ladders and torches, yelling like a million of demons. When at the
distance of sixty yards, we poured upon them the contents of our two
guns; they were heavily loaded with grape-shot, and produced a most
terrible effect. The enemy did not retreat; raising their war-whoop, on
they rushed with a determination truly heroical.

The guns were again fired, and also the whole of our musketry, after
which a party of forty of our men made a sortie. This last charge was
sudden and irresistible; the enemy fled in every direction, leaving
behind their dead and wounded. That evening we received a reinforcement
of thirty-eight men from the settlement, with a large supply of buffalo
meat and twenty fine young fat colts. This was a great comfort to us,
as, for several days we had been obliged to live upon our dried fish.

During seven days we saw nothing of the enemy; but our scouts scoured in
every direction, and our long-boat surprised, in a bay opposite George
Point, thirty-six large boats, in which the Callapoos had come from
their territory. The boats were destroyed, and their keepers scalped. As
the heat was very intense, we resolved not to confine ourselves any more
within the walls of the Post; we formed a spacious camp, to the east of
the block-house, with breastworks of uncommon strength. This plan
probably saved us from some contagious disease; indeed, the bad smell of
the dried fish, and the rarefied air in the building, had already begun
to affect many of our men, especially the wounded.

At the end of a week our enemy reappeared, silent and determined. They
had returned for revenge or for death; the struggle was to be a fearful
one. They encamped in the little open prairie on the other side of the
river, and mustered about six hundred men.

The first war-party had overthrown and dispersed the Bonnaxes, as they
were on their way to join the Flat-heads; and the former tribe not being
able to effect the intended junction, threw itself among the Cayuses and
Nez-percés. These three combined nations, after a desultory warfare,
gave way before the second war-party; and the Bonnaxes, being now
rendered desperate by their losses and the certainty that they would be
exterminated if the Shoshones should conquer, joined the Callapoos and
Umbiquas, to make one more attack upon our little garrison.

Nothing could have saved us, had the Flat-heads held out any longer; but
the Black-feet, their irreconcilable enemies, seizing the opportunity,
had entered their territory. They sued to us for peace, and then
detachments from both war-parties hastened to our help. Of this we were
apprised by our runners; and having previously concerted measures with
my father, I started alone to meet these detachments, in the passes of
the Mineral Mountains. The returning warriors were seven hundred strong,
and had not lost more than thirteen men in their two expeditions; they
divided into three bands, and succeeded, without discovery, in
surrounding the prairie in which the enemy were encamped; an Indian was
then sent to cross the river, a few miles to the east, and carry a
message to my father.

The moon rose at one in the morning. It was arranged that, two hours
before its rising, the garrison of the block-house, which had already
suffered a great deal, during four days of a close siege, were to let
off the fireworks that I had received from the Mexicans at Monterey, and
to watch well the shore on their side of the river; for we were to fall
upon the enemy during their surprise, occasioned by such an unusual
display. All happened as was intended. At the first rocket, the
Bonnaxes, Callapoos, and Umbiquas were on the alert; but astonishment
and admiration very soon succeeded their fear of surprise, which they
knew could not be attempted from their opponents in front. The bombs
burst, the wheels threw their large circles of coloured sparks, and the
savages gazed in silent admiration. But their astonishment was followed
by fear of supernatural agency; confusion spread among them, and their
silence was at last broken by hundreds of loud voices! The moment had
now come; the two Shoshone war-parties rushed upon their terrified
victims, and an hour afterwards, when the moon rose and shone above the
prairie, its mild beams were cast upon four hundred corpses. The whole
of the Bonnax and Umbiqua party were entirely destroyed. The Callapoos
suffered but little, having dispersed, and run towards the sea-shore at
the beginning of the affray.

Thus ended the great league against the Shoshones, which tradition will
speak of in ages yet to come. But these stirring events were followed by
a severe loss to me. My father, aged as he was, had shown a great deal
of activity during the last assault, and he had undergone much privation
and fatigue: his high spirit sustained him to the very last of the
struggle; but when all was over, and the reports of the rifles no
longer whizzed to his ears, his strength gave way, and, ten days after
the last conflict, he died of old age, fatigue, and grief. On the
borders of the Pacific Ocean, a few miles inland, I have raised his
grave. The wild flowers that grow upon it are fed by the clear waters of
the Nú elejé sha wako, and the whole tribe of the Shoshones will long
watch over the tomb of the Pale-face from a distant land, who was once
their instructor and their friend.

As for my two friends, Gabriel and Roche, they had been both seriously
wounded, and it was a long time before they were recovered.

We passed the remainder of the summer in building castles in the air for
the future, and at last agreed to go to Monterey to pass the winter.
Fate, however, ordered otherwise, and a succession of adventures, the
current of which I could not oppose, forced me through many wild scenes
and countries, which I have yet to describe.



CHAPTER XI.


At the beginning of the fall, a few months after my father's death, I
and my two comrades, Gabriel and Roche, were hunting in the rolling
prairies of the South, on the eastern shores of the Buona Ventura. One
evening we were in high spirits, having had good sport. My two friends
had entered upon a theme which they could never exhaust, one pleasantly
narrating the wonders and sights of Paris, the other describing with his
true native eloquence the beauties of his country, and repeating the old
local Irish legends, which appeared to me quaint and highly poetical.

Of a sudden we were surrounded by a party of sixty Arrapahoes; of
course, resistance or flight was useless. Our captors, however, treated
us with honour, contenting themselves with watching us closely and
preventing our escape. They knew who we were, and though my horse,
saddle, and rifle were in themselves a booty for any chief, nothing was
taken on us. I addressed the chief, whom I knew:

"What have I done to the Morning Star of the Arrapahoes, that I should
be taken and watched like a sheep of the Watchinangoes?"

The chief smiled and put his hand upon my shoulders. "The Arrapahoes,"
said he, "love the young Owato Wanisha and his pale-faced brothers, for
they are great warriors, and can beat their enemies with beautiful blue
fires from the heavens. The Arrapahoes know all; they are a wise people.
They will take Owato Wanisha to their own tribe that he may show his
skill to them, and make them warriors. He shall be fed with the fattest
and sweetest dogs. He will become a great warrior among the Arrapahoes.
So wish our prophets. I obey the will of the prophets and of
the nation."

"But," answered I, "my Manitou will not hear me if I am a slave. The
Pale-face Manitou has ears only for free warriors. He will not lend me
his fires unless space and time be my own."

The chief interrupted me:--"Owato Wanisha is not a slave, nor can he be
one. He is with his good friends, who will watch over him, light his
fire, spread their finest blankets in his tent, and fill it with the
best game of the prairie. His friends love the young chief, but he must
not escape from them, else the evil spirit would make the young
Arrapahoes drunk as a beastly Crow, and excite them in their folly to
kill the Pale-faces."

As nothing could be attempted for the present, we submitted to our fate,
and were conducted by a long and dreary journey to the eastern shores of
the Rio Colorado of the West, until at last we arrived at one of the
numerous and beautiful villages of the Arrapahoes. There we passed the
winter in a kind of honourable captivity. An attempt to escape would
have been the signal of our death, or, at least, of a harsh captivity.
We were surrounded by vast sandy deserts, inhabited, by the Clubs
(Piuses), a cruel race of people, some of them cannibals. Indeed, I may
as well here observe that most of the tribes inhabiting the Colorado are
men-eaters, even including the Arrapahoes, on certain occasions. Once we
fell in with a deserted camp of Clubmen, and there we found the remains
of about twenty bodies, the bones of which had been picked with
apparently as much relish as the wings of a pheasant would have been by
a European epicure. This winter passed gloomily enough, and no wonder.
Except a few beautiful groves, found here and there, like the oases in
the sands of the Sahara, the whole country is horribly broken and
barren. Forty miles above the Gulf of California, the Colorado ceases to
be navigable, and presents from its sources, for seven hundred miles,
nothing but an uninterrupted series of noisy and tremendous cataracts,
bordered on each side by a chain of perpendicular rocks, five or six
hundred feet high, while the country all around seems to have been
shaken to its very centre by violent volcanic eruptions.

Winter at length passed away, and with the first weeks of spring were
renovated our hopes of escape. The Arrapahoes, relenting in their
vigilance, went so far as to offer us to accompany them in an expedition
eastward. To this, of course, we agreed, and entered very willingly upon
the beautiful prairies of North Sonora. Fortune favoured us; one day,
the Arrapahoes, having followed a trail of Apaches and Mexicans, with an
intent to surprise and destroy them, fell themselves into a snare, in
which they were routed, and many perished.

We made no scruples of deserting our late masters, and, spurring our
gallant steeds, we soon found that our unconscious liberators were a
party of officers bound from Monterey to Santa Fé, escorted by
two-and-twenty Apaches and some twelve or fifteen families of Ciboleros.
I knew the officers, and was very glad to have intelligence from
California. Isabella was as bright as ever, but not quite so
light-hearted. Padre Marini, the missionary, had embarked for Peru, and
the whole city of Monterey was still laughing, dancing, singing, and
love-making, just as I had left them.

The officers easily persuaded me to accompany them to Santa Fé, from
whence I could readily return to Monterey with the next caravan.

A word concerning the Ciboleros may not be uninteresting. Every year,
large parties of Mexicans, some with mules, others with ox-carts, drive
out into these prairies to procure for their families a season's supply
of buffalo beef. They hunt chiefly on horseback, with bow and arrow, or
lance, and sometimes the fusil, whereby they soon load their carts and
mules. They find no difficulty in curing their meat even in midsummer,
by slicing it thin, and spreading or suspending it in the sun; or, if in
haste, it is slightly barbecued. During the curing operation, they often
follow the Indian practice of beating the slices of meat with their
feet, which they say contributes to its preservation.

Here the extraordinary purity of the atmosphere of these regions is
remarkably exemplified. A line is stretched from corner to corner along
the side of the waggon body, and strung with slices of beef, which
remain from day to day till they are sufficiently cured to be packed up.
This is done without salt, and yet the meat rarely putrefies.

The optic deception of the rarefied and transparent atmosphere of these
elevated plains is truly remarkable. One might almost fancy oneself
looking through a spy-glass; for objects often appear at scarce
one-fourth of their real distance--frequently much magnified, and more
especially much elevated. I have often seen flocks of antelopes mistaken
for droves of elks or wild horses, and when at a great distance, even
for horsemen; whereby frequent alarms are occasioned. A herd of
buffaloes upon a distant plain often appear so elevated in height, that
they would be mistaken by the inexperienced for a large grove of trees.

But the most curious, and at the same time the most tormenting
phenomenon occasioned by optical deception, is the "mirage," or, as
commonly called by the Mexican travellers, "the lying waters." Even the
experienced prairie hunter is often deceived by these, upon the arid
plains, where the pool of water is in such request. The thirsty
wayfarer, after jogging for hours under a burning sky, at length espies
a pond--yes, it must be water--it looks too natural for him to be
mistaken. He quickens his pace, enjoying in anticipation the pleasures
of a refreshing draught; but, as he approaches, it recedes or entirely
disappears; and standing upon its apparent site, he is ready to doubt
his own vision, when he finds but a parched sand under his feet. It is
not until he has been thus a dozen times deceived, that he is willing to
relinquish the pursuit, and then, perhaps, when he really does see a
pond, he will pass it unexamined, from fear of another disappointment.

The philosophy of these false ponds I have never seen satisfactorily
explained. They have usually been attributed to a refraction, by which a
section of the bordering sky is thrown below the horizon; but I am
convinced that they are the effect of reflection. It seems that a gas
(emanating probably from the heated earth and its vegetable matter)
floats upon the elevated flats, and is of sufficient density, when
viewed obliquely, to reflect the objects beyond it; thus the opposing
sky being reflected in the pond of gas, gives the appearance of water.

As a proof that it is the effect of reflection, I have often observed
the distant knolls and trees which were situated near the horizon beyond
the mirage, distinctly inverted in the "pond." Now, were the mirage the
result of refraction, these would appear on it erect, only cast below
the surface. Many are the singular atmospheric phenomena observable upon
the plains, and they would afford a field of interesting researches for
the curious natural philosopher.

We had a pleasant journey, although sometimes pressed pretty hard by
hunger. However, Gabriel, Roche, and I were too happy to complain. We
had just escaped from a bitter and long slavery, besides which, we were
heartily tired of the lean and tough dogs of the Arrapahoes, which are
the only food of that tribe during the winter. The Apaches, who had
heard of our exploits, showed us great respect; but what still more
captivated their good graces, was the Irishman's skill in playing the
fiddle. It so happened that a Mexican officer having, during the last
fall, been recalled from Monterey to Santa Fé, had left his violin. It
was a very fine instrument, an old Italian piece of workmanship, and
worth, I am convinced, a great deal of money.

At the request of the owner, one of the present officers had taken
charge of the violin and packed it up, together with his trunks, in one
of the Cibolero's waggons. We soon became aware of the circumstance, and
when we could not get anything to eat, music became our consolation.
Tired as we were, we would all of us, "at least the Pale-faces," dance
merrily for hours together, after we had halted, till poor Roche,
exhausted, could no longer move his fingers.

We were at last relieved of our obligatory fast, and enabled to look
with contempt upon the humble prickly pears, which for many a long day
had been our only food. Daily now we came across herds of fat buffaloes,
and great was our sport in pursuing the huge lord of the prairies. One
of them, by-the-bye, gored my horse to death, and would likely have put
an end to my adventures, had it not been for the certain aim of Gabriel.
I had foolishly substituted my bow and arrows for the rifle, that I
might show my skill to my companions. My vanity cost me dear; for though
the bull was a fine one, and had seven arrows driven through his neck, I
lost one of the best horses of the West, and my right leg was
considerably hurt.

Having been informed that there was a large city or commonwealth of
prairie dogs directly in our route, I started on ahead with my two
companions, to visit these republicans. We had a double object in view:
first, a desire to examine one of the republics about which prairie
travellers have said so much; and, secondly, to obtain something to eat,
as the flesh of these animals was said to be excellent.

Our road for six or seven miles wound up the sides of a gently ascending
mountain. On arriving at the summit, we found a beautiful table-land
spread out, reaching for miles in every direction before us. The soil
appeared to be uncommonly rich, and was covered with a luxurious growth
of musqueet trees. The grass was of the curly musquito species, the
sweetest and most nutritious of all the different kinds of that grass,
and the dogs never locate their towns or cities except where it grows in
abundance, as it is their only food.

We had proceeded but a short distance after reaching this beautiful
prairie, before we came upon the outskirts of the commonwealth. A few
scattered dogs were seen scampering in, and, by their short and sharp
yelps, giving a general alarm to the whole community.

The first cry of danger from the outskirts was soon taken up in the
centre of the city, and now nothing was to be seen in any direction but
a dashing and a scampering of the mercurial and excitable citizens of
the place, each to his lodge or burrow. Far as the eye could reach was
spread the city, and in every direction the scene was the same. We rode
leisurely along until we had reached the more thickly settled portion of
the city, when we halted, and after taking the bridles from our horses
to allow them to graze, we prepared for a regular attack upon its
inhabitants.

The burrows were not more than fifteen yards apart, with well-trodden
paths leading in different directions, and I even thought I could
discover something like regularity in the laying out of the streets. We
sat down upon a bank under the shade of a musqueet tree, and leisurely
surveyed the scene before us. Our approach had driven every one in our
immediate vicinity to his home; but some hundred yards off, the small
mound of earth in front of a burrow was each occupied by a dog sitting
straight up on his hinder legs, and coolly looking about him to
ascertain the cause of the recent commotion. Every now and then some
citizen, more venturous than his neighbour, would leave his lodge on a
flying visit to a companion, apparently to exchange a few words, and
then scamper back as fast as his legs would carry him.

By-and-bye, as we kept perfectly still, some of our nearer neighbours
were seen cautiously poking their heads from out their holes and looking
cunningly, and at the same time inquisitively, about them. After some
time, a dog would emerge from the entrance of his domicile, squat upon
his looking-out place, shake his head, and commence yelping.

For three hours we remained watching the movements of these animals, and
occasionally picking one of them off with our rifles. No less than nine
were obtained by the party. One circumstance I will mention as singular
in the extreme, and which shows the social relationship which exists
among these animals, as well as the regard they have one for another.

One of them had perched himself directly upon the pile of earth in front
of his hole, sitting up, and offering a fair mark, while a companion's
head, too timid, perhaps, to expose himself farther, was seen poking out
of the entrance. A well-directed shot carried away the entire top of the
head of the first dog, and knocked him some two or three feet from his
post, perfectly dead. While reloading, the other daringly came out,
seized his companion by one of his legs, and before we could arrive at
the hole, had drawn him completely out of reach, although we tried to
twist him out with a ramrod.

There was a feeling in this act--a something human, which raised the
animals in my estimation; and never after did I attempt to kill one of
them, except when driven by extreme hunger.

The prairie dog is about the size of a rabbit, heavier, perhaps, more
compact, and with much shorter legs. In appearance, it resembles the
ground hog of the north, although a trifle smaller than that animal. In
their habits, the prairie dogs are social, never live alone like other
animals, but are always found in villages or large settlements. They are
a wild, frolicsome set of fellows when undisturbed, restless, and ever
on the move. They seem to take especial delight in chattering away the
time, and visiting about, from hole to hole, to gossip and talk over one
another's affairs; at least, so their actions would indicate. Old
hunters say that when they find a good location for a village, and no
water is handy, they dig a well to supply the wants of the community.

On several occasions I have crept up close to one of their villages,
without being observed, that I might watch their movements. Directly in
the centre of one of them I particularly noticed a very large dog,
sitting in front of his door, or entrance to his burrow, and by his own
actions and those of his neighbours, it really looked as though he was
the president, mayor, or chief; at all events, he was the "big dog" of
the place.

For at least an hour I watched the movements of this little community;
during that time, the large dog I have mentioned received at least a
dozen visits from his fellow-dogs, who would stop and chat with him a
few moments, and then run off to their domiciles. All this while he
never left his post for a single minute, and I thought I could discover
a gravity in his deportment not discernible in those by whom he was
addressed. Far be it from me to say that the visits he received were
upon business, or having anything to do with the local government of the
village; but it certainly appeared as if such was the case. If any
animal is endowed with reasoning powers, or has any system of laws
regulating the body politic, it is the prairie dog.

In different parts of the village the members of it were seen
gambolling, frisking, and visiting about, occasionally turning heels
over head into their holes, and appearing to have all sorts of fun among
themselves. Owls of a singular species were also seen among them; they
did not appear to join in their sports in any way, but still seemed to
be on good terms, and as they were constantly entering and coming out of
the same holes, they might be considered as members of the same family,
or, at least, guests. Rattlesnakes, too, dwell among them; but the idea
generally received among the Mexicans, that they live upon terms of
companion ship with the dogs, is quite ridiculous, and without any
foundation.

The snakes I look upon as _loafers_, not easily shaken off by the
regular inhabitants, and they make use of the dwellings of the dogs as
more comfortable quarters than they could find elsewhere. We killed one
a short distance from a burrow, which had made a meal of a little pup;
although I do not think they can master full-grown dogs.

This town, which we visited, was several miles in length, and at least a
mile in width. Around and in the vicinity were smaller villages, suburbs
to the town. We kindled a fire, and cooked three of the animals we had
shot; the meat was exceeding sweet, tender, and juicy, resembling that
of the squirrel, only that there was more fat upon it.



CHAPTER XII.


Among these Apaches, our companions, were two Comanches, who, fifteen
years before, had witnessed the death of the celebrated Overton. As this
wretch, for a short time, was employed as an English agent by the Fur
Company, his wild and romantic end will probably interest the many
readers who have known him; at all events, the narrative will serve as a
specimen of the lawless career of many who resort to the western
wilderness.

Some forty-four years ago, a Spanish trader had settled among a tribe of
the Tonquewas[14], at the foot of the Green Mountains. He had taken an
Indian squaw, and was living there very comfortably, paying no taxes,
but occasionally levying some, under the shape of black mail, upon the
settlements of the province of Santa Fé. In one excursion, however, he
was taken and hung, an event soon forgotten both by Spaniards and
Tonquewas. He had left behind him, besides a child and a squaw, property
to a respectable amount; the tribe took his wealth for their own use,
but cast away the widow and her offspring. She fell by chance into the
hands of a jolly, though solitary Canadian trapper, who, not having the
means of selecting his spouse, took the squaw for better and for worse.

[Footnote 14: The Tonquewas tribe sprang from the Comanches many years
ago.]

In the meantime the young half-breed grew to manhood, and early
displayed a wonderful capacity for languages. The squaw died, and the
trapper, now thinking of the happy days he had passed among the
civilized people of the East, resolved to return thither, and took with
him the young half-breed, to whom by long habit he had become attached.
They both came to St. Louis, where the half-breed soon learned enough of
English to make himself understood, and one day, having gone with his
"father-in-law" to pay a visit to the Osages, he murdered him on the
way, took his horse, fusil, and sundries, and set up for himself.

For a long time he was unsuspected, and, indeed, if he had been, he
cared very little about it. He went from tribe to tribe, living an
indolent life, which suited his taste perfectly; and as he was very
necessary to the Indians as an interpreter during their bartering
transactions with the Whites, he was allowed to do just as he pleased.
He was, however, fond of shifting from tribe to tribe, and the traders
seeing him now with the Pawnies or the Comanches, now with the Crows or
the Tonquewas, gave him the surname of "Turn-over," which name, making a
somersault, became Over-turn, and, by corruption, Overton.

By this time everybody had discovered that Overton was a great
scoundrel, but as he was useful, the English company from Canada
employed him, paying him very high wages. But his employers having
discovered that he was almost always tipsy, and not at all backward in
appropriating to himself that to which he had no right, dismissed him
from their service, and Overton returned to his former life. By-and-bye,
some Yankees made him proposals, which he accepted; what was the nature
of them no one can exactly say, but everybody may well fancy, knowing
that nothing is considered more praiseworthy than cheating the Indians
in their transactions with them, through the agency of some rascally
interpreter, who, of course, receives his _tantum quantum_ of the
profits of his treachery. For some time the employers and employed
agreed amazingly well, and as nothing is cheaper than military titles in
the United States, the half-breed became Colonel Overton, with boots and
spurs, a laced coat, and a long sword. Cunning as were the Yankees,
Overton was still more so; cheating them as he had cheated the Indians.
The holy alliance was broken up; he then retired to the mountains,
protected by the Mexican government, and commenced a system of general
depredation, which for some time proved successful. His most ordinary
method was to preside over a barter betwixt the savages and the traders.
When both parties had agreed, they were of course in good humour, and
drank freely. Now was the time for the Colonel. To the Indians he would
affirm that the traders only waited till they were asleep, to butcher
them and take back their goods. The same story was told to the traders,
and a fight ensued, the more terrible as the whole party was more or
less tipsy. Then, with some rogues in his own employ, the Colonel, under
the pretext of making all safe, would load the mules with the furs and
goods, proceed to Santa Fé, and dispose of his booty for one-third of
its value. None cared how it had been obtained; it was cheap,
consequently it was welcome.

His open robberies and tricks of this description were so numerous that
Overton became the terror of the mountains. The savages swore that they
would scalp him; the Canadians vowed that they would make him dance to
death; the English declared that they would hang him; and the Yankees,
they would put him to Indian torture. The Mexicans, not being able any
more to protect their favourite, put a price upon his head. Under these
circumstances, Overton took an aversion to society, concealed himself,
and during two years nothing was heard of him, when, one day, as a party
of Comanches and Tonquewas were returning from some expedition, they
perceived a man on horseback. They knew him to be Overton, and gave
chase immediately.

The chase was a long one. Overton was mounted upon a powerful and noble
steed, but the ground was broken and uneven; he could not get out of the
sight of his pursuers. However, he reached a platform covered with fine
pine trees, and thought himself safe, as on the other side of the wood
there was a long level valley extending for many miles; and there he
would be able to distance his pursuers, and escape. Away he darted like
lightning, their horrible yell still ringing in his ears; he spurred his
horse, already covered with foam, entered the plain, and, to his horror
and amazement, found that between him and the valley there was a
horrible chasm, twenty-five feet in breadth and two hundred feet in
depth, with acute angles of rocks, as numerous as the thorns upon a
prickly pear. What could he do? His tired horse refused to take the
leap, and he could plainly hear the voice of the Indians encouraging
each other in the pursuit.

Along the edge of the precipice there lay a long hollow log, which had
been probably dragged there with the intention of making a bridge across
the chasm. Overton dismounted, led his horse to the very brink, and
pricked him with his knife the noble animal leaped, but his strength was
too far gone for him to clear it; his breast struck the other edge, and
he fell from crag to crag into the abyss below. This over, the fugitive
crawled to the log, and concealed himself under it, hoping that he would
yet escape. He was mistaken, for he had been seen; at that moment, the
savages emerged from the wood, and a few minutes more brought them
around the log. Now certain of their prey, they wished to make him
suffer a long moral agony, and they feigned not to know where he was.

"He has leaped over," said one; "it was the full jump of a panther.
Shall we return, or encamp here?"

The Indians agreed to repose for a short time; and then began a
conversation. One protested, if he could ever get Overton, he would make
him eat his own bowels. Another spoke of red-hot irons and of creeping
flesh. No torture was left unsaid, and horrible must have been the
position of the wretched Overton.

"His scalp is worth a hundred dollars," said one.

"We will get it some day," answered another. "But since we are here, we
had better camp and make a fire; there is a log."

Overton now perceived that he was lost. From under the log he cast a
glance around him: there stood the grim warriors, bow in hand, and ready
to kill him at his first movement. He understood that the savages had
been cruelly playing with him, and enjoying his state of horrible
suspense. Though a scoundrel, Overton was brave, and had too much of the
red blood within him not to wish to disappoint his foes--he resolved to
allow himself to be burnt, and thus frustrate the anticipated pleasure
of his cruel persecutors. To die game to the last is an Indian's glory,
and under the most excruciating tortures, few savages will ever give way
to their bodily sufferings.

Leaves and dried sticks soon surrounded and covered the log--fire was
applied, and the barbarians watched in silence. But Overton had reckoned
too much upon his fortitude. His blood, after all, was but half Indian,
and when the flames caught his clothes he could bear no more. He burst
out from under the fire, and ran twice round within the circle of his
tormentors. They were still as the grave, not a weapon was aimed at him,
when, of a sudden, with all the energy of despair, Overton sprang
through the circle and took the fearful leap across the chasm.
Incredible as it may appear, he cleared it by more than two feet; a cry
of admiration burst from the savages; but Overton was exhausted, and he
fell slowly backwards. They crouched upon their breasts to look
down--for the depth was so awful as to giddy the brain--and saw their
victim, his clothes still in flames, rolling down from rock to rock till
all was darkness.

Had he kept his footing on the other side of the chasm, he would have
been safe, for a bold deed always commands admiration from the savage,
and at that time they would have scorned to use their arrows.

Such was the fate of Colonel Overton!



CHAPTER XIII.


At last we passed the Rio Grande, and a few days more brought us to
Santa Fé. Much hath been written about this rich and romantic city,
where formerly, if we were to believe travellers, dollars and doubloons
were to be had merely for picking them up; but I suspect the writers had
never seen the place, for it is a miserable, dirty little hole,
containing about three thousand souls, almost all of them half-bred,
naked, and starved. Such is Santa Fé. You will there witness spectacles
of wretchedness and vice hardly to be found elsewhere--harsh despotism;
immorality carried to its highest degree, with drunkenness and filth.

The value of the Santa Fé trade has been very much exaggerated. This
town was formerly the readiest point to which goods could be brought
overland from the States to Mexico; but since the colonization of Texas
it is otherwise. The profits also obtained in this trade are far from
being what they used to be. The journey from St. Louis (Missouri) is
very tedious, the distance being about twelve hundred miles, nor is the
journey ended when you reach Santa Fé, as they have to continue to
Chihuahua. Goods come into the country at a slight duty, compared to
that payable on the coast, five hundred dollars only (whatever may be
the contents), being charged upon each waggon; and it is this privilege
which supports the trade. But the real market commences at Chihuahua;
north of which nothing is met with by the traveller, except the most
abject moral and physical misery.

Of course, our time passed most tediously; the half-breeds were too
stupid to converse with, and the Yankee traders constantly tipsy. Had it
not been that Gabriel was well acquainted with the neighbourhood, we
should positively have died of _ennui_. As it was, however, we made some
excursions among the _rancheros_, or cattle-breeders, and visited
several Indian tribes, with whom we hunted, waiting impatiently for a
westward-bound caravan.

One day, I had a rather serious adventure. Roche and Gabriel were
bear-hunting, while I, feeling tired, had remained in a rancho, where,
for a few days, we had had some amusement; in the afternoon, I felt an
inclination to eat some fish, and being told that at three or four miles
below, there was a creek full of fine basses, I went away with my rifle,
hooks, and line. I soon found the spot, and was seeking for some birds
or squirrels, whose flesh I could use as bait. As, rifle in hand, I
walked, watching the branches of the trees along the stream, I felt
something scratching my leggings and moccasins; I looked down, and
perceived a small panther-cub frisking and frolicking around my feet,
inviting me to play with it. It was a beautiful little creature,
scarcely bigger than a common cat. I sat down, put my rifle across my
knees, and for some minutes caressed it, as I would have done an
ordinary kitten; it became very familiar, and I was just thinking of
taking it with me, when I heard behind me a loud and well-known roar,
and, as the little thing left me, over my head bounded a dark heavy
body. It was a full-grown panther, the mother of the cub. I had never
thought of her.

I rose immediately. The beast having missed the leap, had fallen twelve
feet before me. It crouched, sweeping the earth with its long tail, and
looking fiercely at me. Our eyes met; I confess it, my heart was very
small within me. I had my rifle, to be sure, but the least movement to
poise it would have been the signal for a spring from the animal. At
last, still crouching, it crept back, augmenting the distance to about
thirty feet. Then it made a circle round me, never for a moment taking
its eyes off my face, for the cub was still playing at my feet. I have
no doubt that if the little animal had been betwixt me and the mother,
she would have snatched it and run away with it. As it was, I felt very,
very queer; take to my heels I could not, and the panther would not
leave her cub behind; on the contrary, she continued making a circle
round me, I turning with her, and with my rifle pointed towards her.

As we both turned, with eyes straining at each other, inch by inch I
slowly raised my rifle, till the butt reached my shoulder; I caught the
sight and held my breath. The cub, in jumping, hurt itself, and mewed;
the mother answered by an angry growl, and just as she was about to
spring, I fired; she stumbled backwards, and died without a struggle. My
ball, having entered under the left eye, had passed through the skull,
carrying with it a part of the brain.

It was a terrific animal; had I missed it, a single blow from her paw
would have crushed me to atoms. Dead as it was, with its claws extended,
as if to seize its prey, and its bleeding tongue hanging out, it struck
me with awe. I took off the skin, hung it to a tree, and securing the
cub, I hastened home, having lost my appetite for fishing or a
fish-supper for that evening.

A week after this circumstance, a company of traders arrived from St.
Louis. They had been attacked by Indians, and made a doleful appearance.
During their trip they had once remained six days without any kind of
food, except withered grass. Here it may not be amiss to say a few words
about the origin of this inland mercantile expedition, and the dangers
with which the traders are menaced.

In 1807, Captain Pike, returning from his exploring trip in the interior
of the American continent, made it known to the United States merchants
that they could establish a very profitable commerce with the central
provinces of the north of Mexico; and in 1812, a small party of
adventurers. Millar, Knight, Chambers, Beard, and others, their whole
number not exceeding twelve, forced their way from St. Louis to Santa
Fé, with a small quantity of goods.

It has always been the policy of the Spaniards to prevent strangers from
penetrating into the interior of their colonies. At that period, Mexico
being in revolution, strangers, and particularly Americans, were looked
upon with jealousy and distrust. These merchants were, consequently,
seized upon, their goods confiscated, and themselves shut up in the
prisons of Chihuahua, where, during several years, they underwent a
rigorous treatment.

It was, I believe, in the spring of 1821, that Chambers, with the other
prisoners, returned to the United States, and shortly afterwards a
treaty with the States rendered the trade lawful. Their accounts induced
one Captain Glenn, of Cincinnati, to join them in a commercial
expedition, and another caravan, twenty men strong, started again for
Santa Fé. They sought a shorter road, to fall in with the Arkansas
river, but their enterprise failed; for, instead of ascending the stream
of the Canadian fork, it appears that they only coasted the great river
to its intersection by the Missouri road.

There is not a drop of water in this horrible region, which extends even
to the Cimaron river, and in this desert they had to suffer all the
pangs of thirst. They were reduced to the necessity of killing their
dogs and bleeding their mules to moisten their parched lips. None of
them perished; but, quite dispirited, they changed their direction and
turned back to the nearest point of the river Arkansas, where they were
at least certain to find abundance of water. By this time their beasts
of burden were so tired and broken down that they had become of no use.
They were therefore obliged to conceal their goods, and arrived without
any more trouble at Santa Fé, when, procuring other mules, they returned
to their cachette.

Many readers are probably unaware of the process employed by the traders
to conceal their cargo, their arms, and even their provisions. It is
nothing more than a large excavation In the earth, in the shape of a
jar, in which the objects are stored; the bottom of the cachette having
been first covered with wood and canvas, so as to prevent anything being
spoiled by the damp. The important science of cachaye (Canadian
expression) consists in leaving no trace which might betray it to the
Indians; to prevent this, the earth taken from the excavation is put
into blankets and carried to a great distance.

The place generally selected for a cachette is a swell in the prairie,
sufficiently elevated to be protected from any kind of inundation, and
the arrangement is so excellent, that it is very seldom that the traders
lose anything in their cachette, either by the Indians, the changes of
the climate, or the natural dampness of the earth.

In the spring of 1820, a company from Franklin, in the west of Missouri,
had already proceeded to Santa Fé, with twelve mules loaded with goods.
They crossed prairies where no white man had ever penetrated, having no
guides but the stars of Heaven, the morning breeze from the mountains,
and perhaps a pocket compass. Daily they had to pass through hostile
nations; but spite of many other difficulties, such as ignorance of the
passes and want of water, they arrived at Santa Fé.

The adventurers returned to Missouri during the fall; their profit had
been immense, although the capital they had employed had been very
small. Their favourable reports produced a deep sensation, and in the
spring of the next year, Colonel Cooper and some associates, to the
number of twenty-two, started with fourteen mules well loaded. This time
the trip was a prompt and a fortunate one; and the merchants of St.
Louis getting bolder and bolder, formed, in 1822, a caravan of seventy
men, who carried with them goods to the amount of forty
thousand dollars.

Thus began the Santa Fé trade, which assumed a more regular character.
Companies started in the spring to return in the fall, with incredible
benefits, and the trade increasing, the merchants reduced the number of
their guards, till, eventually, repeated attacks from the savages
obliged them to unite together, in order to travel with safety.

At first the Indians appeared disposed to let them pass without any kind
of interruption; but during the summer of 1826 they began to steal the
mules and the horses of the travellers; yet they killed nobody till
1828. Then a little caravan, returning from Santa Fé, followed the
stream of the north fork of the Canadian river. Two of the traders,
having preceded the company in search of game, fell asleep on the edge
of a brook. These were espied by a band of Indians, who surprised them,
seized their rifles, took their scalps and retired before the caravan
had reached the brook, which had been agreed upon as the place of
rendezvous. When the traders arrived, one of the victims still breathed.
They carried him to the Cimaron, where he expired, and was buried
according to the prairie fashion.

Scarcely had the ceremony been terminated, when upon a neighbouring hill
appeared four Indians, apparently ignorant of what had happened. The
exasperated merchants invited them into their camp, and murdered all
except one, who, although wounded, succeeded in making his escape.

This cruel retaliation brought down heavy punishment. Indeed from that
period the Indians vowed an eternal war--a war to the knife, "in the
forests and the prairies, in the middle of rivers and lakes, and even
among the mountains covered with eternal snows."

Shortly after this event another caravan was fallen in with and attacked
by the savages, who carried off with them thirty-five scalps, two
hundred and fifty mules, and goods to the amount of thirty
thousand dollars.

These terrible dramas were constantly reacted in these vast western
solitudes, and the fate of the unfortunate traders would be unknown,
until some day, perchance, a living skeleton, a famished being, covered
with blood, dust, and mire, would arrive at one of the military posts on
the borders, and relate an awful and bloody tragedy, from which he alone
had escaped.

In 1831, Mr. Sublette and his company crossed the prairies with
twenty-five waggons. He and his company were old pioneers among the
Rocky Mountains, whom the thirst of gold had transformed into merchants.
They went without guides, and no one among them had ever performed the
trip. All that they knew was that they were going from such to such a
degree of longitude. They reached the Arkansas river, but from thence to
the Cimaron there is no road, except the numerous paths of the
buffaloes, which, intersecting the prairie, very often deceive the
travellers.

When the caravan entered this desert the earth was entirely dry, and the
pioneers mistaking their road, wandered during several days exposed to
all the horrors of a febrile thirst under a burning sun. Often they were
seduced by the deceitful appearance of a buffalo-path, and in this
perilous situation Captain Smith, one of the owners of the caravan,
resolved to follow one of these paths, which he considered would
indubitably lead him to some spring of water or to a marsh.

He was alone, but he had never known fear. He was the most determined
adventurer who had ever passed the Rocky Mountains, and if but half of
what is said of him is true, his dangerous travels and his hairbreadth
escapes would fill many volumes more interesting and romantic than the
best pages of the American novelist. Poor man! after having during so
many years escaped from the arrows and bullets of the Indians, he was
fated to fall under the tomahawk, and his bones to bleach upon the
desert sands.

He was about twelve miles from his comrades, when, turning round a small
hill, he perceived the long-sought object of his wishes. A small stream
glided smoothly in the middle of the prairie before him. It was the
river Cimaron. He hurried forward to moisten his parched lips, but just
as he was stooping over the water he fell, pierced by ten arrows. A band
of Comanches had espied him, and waited there for him. Yet he struggled
bravely. The Indians have since acknowledged that, wounded as he was,
before dying, Captain Smith had killed three of their people.

Such was the origin of the Santa Fé trade, and such are the liabilities
which are incurred even now, in the great solitudes of the West.



CHAPTER XIV.


Time passed away till I and my companions were heartily tired of our
inactivity: besides, I was home-sick, and I had left articles of great
value at the settlement, about which I was rather fidgety. So one day we
determined that we would start alone, and return to the settlement by a
different road. We left Santa Fé and rode towards the north, and it was
not until we had passed Taos, the last Mexican settlement, that we
became ourselves again and recovered our good spirits. Gabriel knew the
road; our number was too small not to find plenty to eat, and as to the
hostile Indians, it was a chance we were willing enough to encounter. A
few days after we had quitted Santa Fé, and when In the neighbourhood
of the Spanish Peaks and about thirty degrees north latitude, we fell in
with a numerous party of the Comanches.

It was the first time we had seen them in a body, and it was a grand
sight. Gallant horsemen they were and well mounted. They were out upon
an expedition against the Pawnee[15] Loups, and they behaved to us with
the greatest kindness and hospitality. The chief knew Gabriel, and
invited us to go in company with them to their place of encampment. The
chief was a tall, fine fellow, and with beautiful symmetry of figure. He
spoke Spanish well, and the conversation was carried on in that tongue
until the evening, when I addressed him in Shoshone, which beautiful
dialect is common to the Comanches, Apaches, and Arrapahoes, and related
to him the circumstances of our captivity on the shores of the Colorado
of the West. As I told my story the chief was mute with astonishment,
until at last, throwing aside the usual Indian decorum, he grasped me
firmly by the hand. He knew I was neither a Yankee nor a Mexican, and
swore that for my sake every Canadian or Frenchman falling in their
power should be treated as a friend. After our meal we sat comfortably
round the fires, and listened to several speeches and traditions of
the warriors.

[Footnote 15: The word Pawnee signifies "_exiled_;" therefore it does
not follow that the three tribes bearing the same name belong to the
same nation.

The Grand Pawnees, the tribe among whom Mr. Murray resided, are of
Dahcotah origin, and live along the shores of the river Platte; the
Pawnee Loups are of the Algonquin race, speaking quite another language,
and occupying the country situated between the northern forks of the
same river. Both tribes are known among the trappers to be the "Crows of
the East;" that is to say, thieves and treacherous. They cut their hair
short except on the scalp, as is usual among the nations which they have
sprung from.

The third tribe of that name is called Pawnee Pict; these are of
Comanche origin and Shoshone race, wearing their hair long, and speaking
the same language as all the western great prairie tribes. They live
upon the Red River, which forms the boundary betwixt North Texas and the
Western American boundary, and have been visited by Mr. Catlin, who
mentions them in his work. The Picts are constantly at war with the two
other tribes of Pawnees; and though their villages are nearly one
thousand miles distant from those of their enemy, their war-parties
are continually scouring the country of the "Exiles of the
East"--"_Pa-wah-nêjs_."]

One point struck me forcibly during my conversation with that noble
warrior. According to his version, the Comanches were in the beginning
very partial to the Texans, as they were brave, and some of them
generous. But he said that afterwards, as they increased their numbers
and established their power, they became a rascally people, cowards and
murderers. One circumstance above all fire the blood of the Comanches,
and since that time it has been and will be with them a war of
extinction against the Texans.

An old Comanche, with a daughter, had separated himself from their
tribe. He was a chief, but he had been unfortunate, and being sick, he
retired to San Antonio to try the skill of the great pale-face médecin.
His daughter was a noble and handsome girl of eighteen, and she had not
been long in the place before she attracted the attention of a certain
doctor, a young man from Kentucky, who had been tried for murder in the
States. He was the greatest scoundrel in the world, but being a
desperate character, he was feared, and, of course, courted by his
fellow Texans.

Perceiving that he could not succeed in his views so long as the girl
was with her father, he contrived to throw the old man into gaol, and
inducing her to come to his house to see what could be done to release
him, he abused her most shamefully, using blows and violence to
accomplish his purpose, to such a degree, that he left her for dead.
Towards the evening, she regained some strength, and found a shelter in
the dwelling of some humane Mexican.

The old Indian was soon liberated: he found his daughter, but it was on
her death-bed, and then he learned the circumstances of the shameful
transaction, and deeply vowed revenge. A Mexican gentleman, indignant at
such a cowardly deed, in the name of outraged nature and humanity, laid
the cause before a jury of Texans. The doctor was acquitted by the Texan
jury, upon the ground that the laws were not made for the benefit of the
Comanches.

The consequences may be told in a few words. One day Dr. Cobbet was
found in an adjoining field stabbed to the heart and scalped. The Indian
had run away, and meeting with a party of Comanches, he related his
wrongs and his revenge. They received him again into the tribe, but the
injury was a national one, not sufficiently punished: that week
twenty-three Texans lost their scalps, and fourteen women were carried
into the wilderness, there to die in captivity.

The Comanche chief advised us to keep close to the shores of the Rio
Grande, that we might not meet with the parties of the Pawnee Loups; and
so much was he pleased with us, that he resolved to turn out of his way
and accompany us with his men some thirty miles farther, when we should
be comparatively out of danger. The next morning we started, the chief
and I riding close together and speaking of the Shoshones. We exchanged
our knives as a token of friendship, and when we parted, he assembled
all his men and made the following speech:--

"The young chief of the Shoshones Is returning to his brave people
across the rugged mountains. Learn his name, so that you may tell your
children that they have a friend in Owato Wanisha. He Is neither a
Shakanath (an Englishman) nor a Kishemoc Comoanak (a long knife, a
Yankee). He Is a chief among the tribe of our great-grandfathers, he is
a chief, though he is very, very young."

At this moment all the warriors came, one after the other, to shake
hands with me, and when this ceremony was terminated, the chief resumed
his discourse.

"Owato Wanisha, we met as strangers, we part as friends. Tell your young
warriors you have been among the Comanches, and that we would like to
know them. Tell them to come, a few or many, to our _waikiams_ (lodges);
they will find the moshkotaj (buffalo) in plenty.

"Farewell, young chief, with a pale face and an Indian heart; the earth
be light to thee and thine. May the white Manitou clear for thee the
mountain path, and may you never fail to remember _Opishka Toaki_ (the
White Raven), who is thy Comanche friend, and who would fain share with
thee his home, his wealth, and his wide prairies. I have said: young
brother, farewell."

The tears stood in our eyes as gallantly the band wheeled round. We
watched them till they had all disappeared in the horizon. And these
noble fellows were Indians; had they been Texans, they would have
murdered us to obtain our horses and rifles.

Two days after, we crossed the Rio Grande, and entered the dreary path
of the mountains In the hostile and Inhospitable country of the Navahoes
and the Crows[16].

[Footnote 16: The Crows are gallant horsemen; but although they have
assumed the manners and customs of the Shoshones, they are of the
Dahcotah breed. There is a great difference between the Shoshone tribes
and the Crows. The latter want that spirit of chivalry so remarkable
among the Comanches, the Arrapahoes, and the Shoshones--that nobility of
feeling which scorns to take an enemy at a disadvantage, I should say
that the Shoshone tribes are the lions and the Crows the tigers of these
deserts.]

We had been travelling eight days on a most awful stony
road, when at last we reached the head waters of the Colorado of the
West, but we were very weak, not having touched any food during the last
five days, except two small rattlesnakes, and a few berries we had
picked up on the way. On the morning we had chased a large grizzly bear,
but to no purpose; our poor horses and ourselves were too exhausted to
follow the animal for any time, and with its disappearance vanished away
all hopes of a dinner.

It was evening before we reached the river, and, by that time, we were
so much maddened with hunger, that we seriously thought of killing one
of our horses. Luckily, at that instant, we espied smoke rising from a
camp of Indians in a small valley. That they were foes we had no doubt;
but hunger can make heroes, and we determined to take a meal at their
expense. The fellows had been lucky, for around their tents they had
hung upon poles large pieces of meat to dry. They had no horses, and
only a few dogs scattered about the camp. We skirted the plain in
silence, and at dark we had arrived at three hundred yards from them,
concealed by the projecting rocks which formed a kind of belt around
the camp.

Now was our time. Giving the Shoshone war-whoop, and making as much
noise as we could, we spurred on our horses, and in a few moments each
of us had secured a piece of meat from the poles. The Crows (for the
camp contained fifteen Crows and three Arrapahoes), on hearing the
war-whoop, were so terrified that they had all run away without ever
looking behind them; but the Arrapahoes stood their ground, and having
recovered from their first surprise, they assaulted us bravely with
their lances and arrows.

Roche was severely bruised by his horse falling, and my pistol, by
disabling his opponent, who was advancing with his tomahawk, saved his
life. Gabriel had coolly thrown his lasso round his opponent, and had
already strangled him, while the third had been in the very beginning of
the attack run over by my horse. Gabriel lighted on the ground, entered
the lodges, cut the strings of all the bows he could find, and,
collecting a few more pieces of the meat, we started at a full gallop,
not being inclined to wait till the Crows should have recovered from
their panic. Though our horses were very tired, we rode thirteen miles
more that night, and, about ten o'clock, arrived at a beautiful spot
with plenty of fine grass and cool water, upon which both we and our
horses stretched ourselves most luxuriously even before eating.

Capital jokes were passed round that night while we were discussing the
qualities of the mountain-goat flesh, but yet I felt annoyed at our
feat; the thing, to be sure, had been gallantly done, still it was
nothing better than highway robbery. Hunger, however, is a good
palliative for conscience, and, having well rubbed our horses, who
seemed to enjoy their grazing amazingly, we turned to repose, watching
alternately for every three hours.

The next day at noon we met with unexpected sport and company. As we
were going along, we perceived two men at a distance, sitting close
together upon the ground, and apparently in a vehement conversation. As
they were white men, we dismounted and secured our horses, and then
crept silently along until we were near the strangers. They were two
very queer-looking beings; one long and lean, the other short and stout.

"Bless me," the fat one said, "bless me, Pat Swiney, but I think the
Frenchers will never return, and so we must die here like starved dogs."

"Och," answered the thin one, "they have gone to kill game. By St.
Patrick, I wish it would come, raw or cooked, for my bowels are twisting
like worms on a hook."

"Oh, Pat, be a good man; can't you go and pick some berries? my stomach
is like an empty bag."

"Faith, my legs ain't better than yours," answered the Irishman, patting
his knee with a kind of angry gesture. And for the first time we
perceived that the legs of both of them were shockingly swollen.

"If we could only meet with the Welsh Indians or a gold mine," resumed
the short man.

"Botheration," exclaimed his irascible companion. "Bother them all--the
Welsh Indians and the Welsh English."

[Illustration: "Faith, my legs ain't better than yours."]

We saw that hunger had made the poor fellows rather quarrelsome, so we
kindly interfered with a tremendous war-whoop. The fat one closed his
eyes, and allowed himself to fall down, while his fellow in misfortune
rose up in spite of the state of his legs.

"Come," roared he, "come, ye rascally red devils, do your worst without
marcy, for I am lame and hungry."

There was something noble in his words and pathetic in the action.
Roche, putting his hand on his shoulder, whispered some Irish words in
his ear, and the poor fellow almost cut a caper. "Faith," he said, "if
you are not a Cork boy you are the devil; but devil or no, for the sake
of the old country, give us something to eat--to me and that poor Welsh
dreamer. I fear your hellish yell has taken the life out of him."

Such was not the case. At the words "something to eat," the fellow
opened his eyes with a stare, and exclaimed--

"The Welsh Indians, by St. David!"

We answered him with a roar of merriment that rather confused him, and
his companion answered--

"Ay! Welsh Indians or Irish Indians, for what I know. Get up, will ye,
ye lump of flesh, and politely tell the gentlemen that we have tasted
nothing for the last three days."

Of course, we lost no time in lighting a fire and bringing our horses.
The meat was soon cooked, and it was wonderful to see how quickly it
disappeared in the jaws of our two new friends. We had yet about twelve
pounds of it, and we were entering a country where game would be found
daily, so we did not repine at their most inordinate appetites, but, on
the contrary, encouraged them to continue. When the first pangs of
hunger were a little soothed, they both looked at us with moist and
grateful eyes.

"Och," said the Irishman, "but ye are kind gentlemen, whatever you may
be, to give us so good a meal when, perhaps, you have no more."

Roche shook him by the hand. "Eat on, fellow," he said, "eat on, and
never fear. We will afterwards see what can be done for the legs." As to
the Welshman, he never said a word for a full half-hour. He would look,
but could neither speak nor hear, so intensely busy was he with an
enormous piece of half-raw flesh, which he was tearing and swallowing
like a hungry wolf. There is, however, an end to everything, and when
satiety had succeeded to want, they related to us the circumstance that
had led them where they were.

They had come as journeymen with a small caravan going from St. Louis to
Astoria. On the Green River they had been attacked by a war-party of the
Black-feet, who had killed all except them, thanks to the Irishman's
presence of mind, who pushed his fat companion into a deep fissure of
the earth, and jumped after him. Thus they saved their bacon, and had
soon the consolation of hearing the savages carrying away the goods,
leading the mules towards the north. For three days they had wandered
south, in the hope of meeting with some trappers, and this very morning
they had fallen in with two French trappers, who told them to remain
there and repose till their return, as they were going after game.

While they were narrating their history, the two trappers arrived with a
fat buck. They were old friends, having both of them travelled and
hunted with Gabriel. We resolved not to proceed any further that day,
and they laughed a great deal when we related to them our prowess
against the Crows. An application of bruised leaves of the Gibson weed
upon the legs of the two sufferers immediately soothed their pain, and
the next morning they were able to use Roche's and Gabriel's horses, and
to follow us to Brownhall, an American fur-trading port, which place we
reached in two days.

There we parted from our company, and rapidly continued our march
towards the settlement. Ten days did we travel thus in the heart of a
fine country, where game at every moment crossed our path. We arrived in
the deserted country of the Bonnaxes, and were scarcely two days'
journey from the Eastern Shoshone boundary, when, as ill-luck would have
it, we met once more with our old enemies the Arrapahoes. This time,
however, we were determined not to be put any more on dog's meat
allowance, and to fight, if necessary, in defence of our liberty.

We were surrounded, but not yet taken; and space being ours and our
rifles true, we hoped to escape, not one of our enemies having, as we
well knew, any firearms. They reduced their circle smaller and smaller,
till they stood at about a hundred and fifty yards from us; their horses
fat and plump, but of the small wild breed, and incapable of running a
race with our tall and beautiful Mexican chargers. At that moment
Gabriel raised his hand, as if for a signal; we all three darted like
lightning through the line of warriors, who were too much taken by
surprise even to use their bows. They soon recovered from their
astonishment, and giving the war-whoop, with many ferocious yells of
disappointment, dashed after us at their utmost speed.

Their horses, as I have said, could not run a race with ours, but in a
long chase their hardy little animals would have had the advantage,
especially as our own steeds had already performed so long a journey.
During the two first hours we kept them out of sight, but towards dark,
as our beasts gave in, we saw their forms in the horizon becoming more
and more distinct, while, to render our escape less probable, we found
ourselves opposed in front by a chain of mountains, not high, but very
steep and rugged.

"On, ahead, we are safe!" cried Gabriel. Of course, there was no time
for explanation, and ten minutes more saw us at the foot of the
mountain. "Not a word, but do as I do," again said my companion. We
followed his example by unsaddling our animals and taking off the
bridles, with which we whipped them. The poor things, though tired,
galloped to the south, as if they were aware of the impending danger.

"I understand, Gabriel," said I; "the savages cannot see us in the
shades of these hills; they will follow our horses by the sounds."

Gabriel chuckled with delight. "Right," said he, "right enough, but it
is not all. I know of a boat on the other side of the mountain, and the
Ogden river will carry us not far from the Buona Ventura."

I started. "A mistake," I exclaimed, "dear friend, a sad mistake; we are
more than thirty miles from the river."

"From the main river, yes," answered he, shaking my hand, "but many an
otter have I killed in a pretty lake two miles from here, at the
southern side of this hill. There I have a boat well concealed, as I
hope; and it is a place where we may defy all the Arrapahoes, and the
Crows to back them. From that lake to the river it is but thirty miles'
paddling in a smooth canal, made either by nature or by a former race
of men."

I need not say how cheerfully we walked these two miles, in spite of the
weight of our saddles, rifles, and accoutrements. Our ascent was soon
over, and striking into a small tortuous deer-path, we perceived below
us the transparent sheet of water, in which a few stars already
reflected their pale and tremulous light. When we reached the shore of
the lake, we found ourselves surrounded by vast and noble ruins, like
those on the Buona Ventura, but certainly much more romantic. Gabriel
welcomed us to his trapping-ground, as a lord in his domain, and soon
brought out a neat little canoe from under a kind of ancient vault.

"This canoe," said he, "once belonged to one of the poor fellows that
was murdered with the Prince Seravalle. We brought it here six years ago
with great secrecy; it cost him twenty dollars, a rifle, and six
blankets. Now, in the middle of this lake there is an island, where he
and I lived together, and where we can remain for months without any
fear of Indians or starvation."

We all three entered the canoe, leaving our saddles behind us, to
recover them on the following day. One hour's paddling brought us to the
island, and it was truly a magnificent spot. It was covered with ruins;
graceful obelisks were shaded by the thick foliage of immense trees, and
the soft light of the moon, beaming on the angles of the ruined
monuments, gave to the whole scenery the hue of an Italian landscape.

"Here we are safe," said Gabriel, "and to-morrow you will discover that
my old resting-place is not deficient in comfort."

As we were very tired, we lay down and soon slept, forgetting in this
little paradise the dangers and the fatigues of the day. Our host's
repose, however, was shorter than mine, for long before morn he had gone
to fetch our saddles. Roche and I would probably have slept till his
return, had we not been awakened by the report of a rifle, which came
down to us, repeated by a thousand echoes. An hour of intense anxiety
was passed, till at last we saw Gabriel paddling towards us. The sound
of the rifle had, however, betrayed our place of concealment, and as
Gabriel neared the island, the shore opposite to us began to swarm with
our disappointed enemies, who in all probability had camped in the
neighbourhood. As my friend landed, I was beginning to scold him for his
imprudence in using his rifle under our present circumstances, when a
glance showed me at once he had met with an adventure similar to mine
near Santa Fé. In the canoe lay the skin of a large finely-spotted
jaguar, and by it a young cub, playing unconsciously with the
scalping-knife, yet reeking in its mother's blood.

"Could not help it,--self-defence!" exclaimed he, jumping on shore. "Now
the red devils know where we are, but it is a knowledge that brings them
little good. The lake is ten fathoms in depth, and they will not swim
three miles under the muzzles of our rifles. When they are tired of
seeing us fishing, and hearing us laughing, they will go away like
disappointed foxes."

So it proved. That day we took our rifles and went in the canoe to
within eighty yards of the Indians, on the mainland, we fishing for
trouts, and inviting them to share in our sport. They yelled awfully,
and abused us not a little, calling us by all the names their rage could
find: squaws, dogs of Pale-faces, cowards, thieves, &c. At last,
however, they retired in the direction of the river, hoping yet to have
us in their power; but so little had we to fear, that we determined to
pass a few days on the island, that we might repose from our fatigues.

When we decided upon continuing our route, Gabriel and Roche were
obliged to leave their saddles and bridles behind, as the canoe was too
small for ourselves and luggage. This was a misfortune which could be
easily repaired at the settlement, and till then, saddles, of course,
were useless. We went on merrily from forty-five to fifty miles every
day, on the surface of the most transparent and coolest water in the
world. During the night we would land and sleep on the shore. Game was
very plentiful, for at almost every minute we would pass a stag or a
bull drinking; sometimes at only twenty yards, distance.

During this trip on the Ogden river, we passed four other magnificent
lakes, but not one of them bearing any marks of former civilization, as
on the shores of the first one which had sheltered us. We left the river
two hundred and forty miles from where we had commenced our navigation,
and, carrying our canoe over a portage of three miles, we launched it
again upon one of the tributaries of the Buona Ventura, two hundred
miles north-east from the settlement.

The current was now in our favour, and in four days more we landed among
my good friends, the Shoshones, who, after our absence of nine months,
received us with almost a childish joy. They had given us up for dead,
and suspecting the Crows of having had a hand in our disappearance,
they had made an invasion into their territory.

Six days after our arrival our three horses were perceived swimming
across the river; the faithful animals had also escaped from our
enemies, and found their way back to their masters and their
native prairies.



CHAPTER XV.


During my long absence and captivity among the Arrapahoes, I had often
reflected upon the great advantages which would accrue if, by any
possibility, the various tribes which were of Shoshone origin could be
induced to unite with them in one confederacy; and the more I reflected
upon the subject, the more resolved I became, that if ever I returned to
the settlement, I would make the proposition to our chiefs in council.

The numbers composing these tribes were as follows:--The Shoshones
amounting to about 60,000, independent of the mountain tribes, which we
might compute at 10,000 more; the Apaches, about 40,000; the Arrapahoes,
about 20,000; the Comanches and the tribes springing from them, at the
lowest computation, amounting to 60,000 more. Speaking the same
language, having the same religious formula, the same manners and
customs; nothing appeared to me to be more feasible. The Arrapahoes were
the only one tribe which was generally at variance with us, but they
were separated from the Shoshones much later than the other tribes, and
were therefore even more Shoshone than the Apaches and Comanches.

Shortly after my return, I acted upon my resolution. I summoned all the
chiefs of our nation to a great council, and in the month of August,
1839, we were all assembled outside of the walls of the settlement.
After the preliminary ceremonies, I addressed them:--

"Shoshones! brave children of the Grand Serpent! my wish is to render
you happy, rich, and powerful. During the day I think of it; I dream of
it in my sleep. At last, I have had great thoughts--thoughts proceeding
from the Manitou. Hear now the words of Owato Wanisha; he is young, very
young; his skin is that of a Pale-face, but his heart is a Shoshone's.

"When you refused to till the ground, you did well, for it was not in
your nature--the nature of man cannot be changed like that of a moth.
Yet, at that time, you understood well the means which give power to a
great people. Wealth alone can maintain the superiority that bravery has
asserted. Wealth and bravery make strength--strength which nothing can
break down, except the great Master of Life.

"The Shoshones knew this a long time ago; they are brave, but they have
no wealth; and if they still keep their superiority, it is because their
enemies are at this time awed by the strength and the cunning of their
warriors. But the Shoshones, to keep their ground, will some day be
obliged to sleep always on their borders, to repel their enemies. They
will be too busy to fish and to hunt. Their squaws and children will
starve! Even now the evil has begun. What hunting and what fishing have
you had this last year? None! As soon as the braves had arrived at their
hunting-ground, they were obliged to return back to defend their squaws
and to punish their enemies.

"Now, why should not the Shoshones put themselves at once above the
reach of such chances? why should they not get rich? They object to
planting grain and tobacco. They do well, as other people can do that
for them; but there are many other means of getting strength and wealth.
These I will teach to my tribe!

"The Shoshones fight the Crows, because the Crows are thieves; the
Flat-heads, because they are greedy of our buffaloes; the Umbiquas,
because they steal horses. Were it not for them, the children of the
Grand Serpent would never fight; their lodges would fill with wealth,
and that wealth would purchase all the good things of the white men from
distant lands. These white men-come to the Watchinangoes (Mexicans), to
take the hides of their oxen, the wool of their sheep. They would come
to us, if we had anything to offer them. Let us then call them, for we
have the hides of thousands of buffaloes; we have the furs of the beaver
and the otter; we have plenty of copper in our mountains, and of gold in
our streams.

"Now, hear me. When a Shoshone chief thinks that the Crows will attack
his lodge, he calls his children and his nephews around him. A nation
can do the same. The Shoshones have many brave children in the prairies
of the South; they have many more on the borders of the Yankees. All of
them think and speak like their ancestors, they are the same people.
Now would it not be good and wise to have all these brave grand-children
and grand-nephews as your neighbours and allies, instead of the Crows,
the Cayuses, and the Umbiquas? Yes, it would. Who would dare to come
from the north across a country inhabited by the warlike Comanches, or
from the south and the rising sun, through the wigwams of the Apaches?
The Shoshones would then have more than 30,000 warriors; they would
sweep the country, from the sea to the mountains, from the river of the
north (Columbia) to the towns of the Watchinangoes. When the white men
would come in their big canoes, as traders and friends, we would receive
them well; if they come as foes, we will laugh at them, and whip them
like dogs. These are the thoughts which I wanted to make known to the
Shoshones.

"During my absence, I have seen the Apaches and the Comanches. They are
both great nations. Let us send some wise men to invite them to return
to their fathers; let our chiefs offer them wood, land, and water. I
have said."

As long as I spoke, the deepest silence reigned over the whole assembly;
but as soon as I sat down, and began smoking, there was a general
movement, which showed me that I had made an impression. The old great
chief rose, however, and the murmurs were hushed. He spoke:--

"Owato Wanisha has spoken. I have heard. It was a strange vision, a
beautiful dream. My heart came young again, my body lighter, and my eyes
more keen. Yet I cannot see the future; I must fast and pray, I must ask
the great Master of Life to lend me his wisdom.

"I know the Comanches, I know the Apaches, and the Arrapahoes. They are
our children; I know it. The Comanches have left us a long, long time,
but the Apaches and Arrapahoes have not yet forgotten the
hunting-grounds where their fathers were born. When I was but a young
hunter, they would come every snow to the lodge of our Manitou, to offer
their presents. It was long before any Pale-face had passed the
mountains. Since that the leaves of the oaks have grown and died eighty
times. It is a long while for a man, but for a nation it is but as
yesterday.

"They are our children,--it would be good to have them with us; they
would share our hunts; we would divide our wealth with them. Then we
would be strong. Owato Wanisha has spoken well; he hath learned many
mysteries with the _Macota Conaya_ (black robes, priests); he is wise.
Yet, as I have said, the red-skin chiefs must ask wisdom from the Great
Master. He will let us know what is good and what is bad. At the next
moon we will return to the council. I have said."

All the chiefs departed, to prepare for their fasting and ceremonies,
while Gabriel, Roche, my old servant, and myself, concerted our measures
so as to insure the success of my enterprise. My servant I despatched to
Monterey, Gabriel to the nearest village of the Apaches, and as it was
proper, according to Indian ideas, that I should be out of the way
during the ceremonies, so as not to influence any chief, I retired with
Roche to the boat-house, to pass the time until the new moon.

Upon the day agreed upon, we were all once more assembled at the
council-ground on the shores of the Buona Ventura, The chiefs and elders
of the tribe had assumed a solemn demeanour, and even the men of dark
deeds (the Médecins) and the keepers of the sacred lodges had made their
appearance, in their professional dresses, so as to impress upon the
beholders the importance of the present transaction. One of the sacred
lodge first arose, and making a signal with his hand, prepared
to speak:--

"Shoshones," said he, "now has come the time in which out nation must
either rise above all others, as the eagle of the mountains rises above
the small birds, or sink down and disappear from the surface of the
earth. Had we been left such as we were before the Pale-faces crossed
the mountains, we would have needed no other help but a Shoshone heart
and our keen arrows to crush our enemies; but the Pale-faces have double
hearts as well as a double tongue; they are friends or enemies as their
thirst for wealth guides them. They trade with the Shoshones, but they
also trade with the Crows and the Umbiquas. The young chief, Owato
Wanisha, hath proposed a new path to our tribe; he is young, but he has
received his wisdom from the Black-gowns, who, of all men, are the most
wise. I have heard, as our elders and ancient chiefs have also heard,
the means by which he thinks we can succeed: we have fasted, we have
prayed to the Master of Life to show unto us the path which we must
follow. Shoshones, we live in a strange time! Our great Manitou bids us
Red-skins obey the Pale-face, and follow him to conquer or die. I have
said! The chief of many winters will now address his warriors
and friends!"

A murmur ran through the whole assembly, who seemed evidently much moved
by this political speech from one whom they were accustomed to look upon
with dread, as the interpreter of the will of heaven. The old chief, who
had already spoken in the former council, now rose and spoke with a
tremulous yet distinct voice.

"I have fasted, I have prayed, I have dreamed. Old men, who have lived
almost all their life, have a keener perception *to read the wishes of
the Master of Life concerning the future. I am a chief, and have been a
chief during sixty changes of the season. I am proud of my station, and
as I have struck deepest in the heart of our enemies, I am jealous of
that power which is mine, and would yield it to no one, if the great
Manitou did not order it. When this sun will have disappeared behind the
salt-water, I shall no longer be a chief! Owato Wanisha will guide our
warriors, he will preside in council, for two gods are with him--the
Manitou of the Pale-faces and the Manitou of the Red-skins.

"Hear my words, Shoshones! I shall soon join my father and grandfather
in the happy lands, for I am old! Yet, before my bones are buried at the
foot of the hills, it would brighten my heart to see the glory of the
Shoshones, which I know must be in a short time. Hear my words! Long
ages ago some of our children, not finding our hunting-grounds wide
enough for the range-of their arrows, left us. They first wandered in
the south, and in the beautiful prairies of the east, under a climate
blessed by the good spirits. They grew and grew in number till their
families were as numerous as ours, and as they were warriors and their
hearts big, they spread themselves, and, soon crossing the big
mountains, their eagle glance saw on each side of their territory the
salt-water of the sunrise and the salt-water of the sunset. These are
the Comanches, a powerful nation. The Comanches even now have a Shoshone
heart, a Shoshone tongue. Owato Wanisha has been with them; he says they
are friends, and have not forgotten that they are the children of the
Great Serpent.

"Long, long while afterwards, yet not long enough that I should escape
the memory and the records of our holy men, some other of our children,
hearing of the power of the Comanches of their wealth, of their
beautiful country, determined also to leave us and spread to the south.
These are the Apaches From the top of the big mountains, always covered
with snow they look towards the bed of the sun. They see the green grass
of the prairie below them, and afar the blue salt-water Their houses are
as numerous as the stars in heaven, their warriors as thick as the
shells in the bottom of our lakes. They are brave; they are feared by
the Pale-faces--by all; and they too, know that we are their fathers;
their tongue is our tongue their Manitou our Manitou; their heart a
portion of our heart and never has the knife of a Shoshone drunk the
blood of a Apache, nor the belt of an Apache suspended the scalp
of Shoshone.

"And afterwards, again, more of our children left us. By that time they
left us because we were angry. They were few families of chiefs who had
grown strong and proud. They wished to lord over our wigwams, and we
drove them away, as the panther drives away her cubs, when their claws
and teeth have been once turned against her. These are the Arrapahoes
They are strong and our enemies, yet they are a noble nation. I have in
my lodge twenty of their scalps; they have many ours. They fight by the
broad light of the day, with the lane bow, and arrows; they scorn
treachery. Are they not although rebels and unnatural children, still
the children, of the Shoshones? Who ever heard of the Arrapahoes
entering the war-path in night? No one! They are no Crows, no Umbiquas,
no Flat-heads! They can give death; they know how to receive
it,--straight and upright, knee to knee, breast to breast, and their eye
drinking the glance of their foe.

"Well, these Arrapahoes are our neighbours; often, very often, too much
so (as many of our widows can say), when they unbury their tomahawk and
enter the war-path against the Shoshones. Why; can two suns light the
same prairie, or two male eagles cover the same nest? No. Yet numerous
stars appear during night, all joined together, and obedient to the
moon. Blackbirds and parrots will unite their numerous tribes and take
the same flight to seek altogether a common rest a shelter for a night;
it is a law of nature. The Red-skin knows none but the laws of nature.
The Shoshone is an eagle on the hills, a bright sun in the prairie, so
is an Arrapahoe; they must both struggle and fight till one sun is
thrown into darkness, or one eagle, blind and winged, falls down the
rocks and leaves the whole nest to its conqueror. The Arrapahoes would
not fight a cowardly Crow, except for self-defence, for he smells of
carrion; nor would a Shoshone.

"Crows, Umbiquas, and Flat-heads, Cayuses, Bonnaxes, and Callapoos can
hunt all together and rest together; they are the blackbirds and the
parrots; they must do so, else the eagle should destroy them during the
day, or the hedgehog during the night.

"Now, Owato Wanisha, or his Manitou, has offered a bold thing. I have
thought of it, I have spoken of it to the spirits of the Red-skin; they
said it was good; I say it is good! I am a chief of many winters; I know
what is good, I know what is bad! Shoshones, hear me! my voice is weak,
come nearer; hearken to my words, hist! I hear a whisper under the
ripples of the water, I hear it in the waving of the grass, I feel it on
the breeze!--hist, it is the whisper of the Master of Life,--hist!"

At this moment the venerable chief appeared abstracted, his face
flushed; then followed a trance, as if he were communing with some
invisible spirit. Intensely and silently did the warriors watch the
struggles of his noble features; the time had come in which the minds of
the Shoshones were freed of their prejudices, and dared to contemplate
the prospective of a future general domination over the Western
continent of America. The old chief raised his hand, and he
spoke again:--

"Children, for you are my children! Warriors, for you are all brave!
Chiefs, for you are all chiefs! I have seen a vision. It was a cloud,
and the Manitou was upon it. The cloud gave way, and behind I saw a vast
nation, large cities, rich wigwams, strange boats, and great parties of
warriors, whose trail was so long that I could not see the beginning nor
the end. It was in a country which I felt within me was extending from
the north, where all is ice, down to the south, where all is fire! Then
a big voice was heard! It was not a war-whoop, it was not the yell of
the fiends, it was not the groan of the captive tied to the stake; it
was a voice of glory, that shouted the name of the Shoshones--for all
were Shoshones. There were no Pale-faces among them--none! Owato Wanisha
was there, but he had a red skin, and his hair was black; so were his
two fathers, but they were looking young; so was his aged and humble
friend, but his limbs seemed to have recovered all the activity and
vigour of youth; so were his two young friends, who have fought so
bravely at the Post, when the cowardly Umbiquas entered our grounds.
This is all what I have heard, all what I have seen; and the whisper
said to me, as the vision faded away, 'Lose no time, old chief, the day
has come! Say to thy warriors, Listen to the young Pale-face. The Great
Spirit of the Red-skin will pass into his breast, and lend him some
words that the Shoshone will understand.'

"I am old and feeble; I am tired; arise, my grandson Owato Wanisha;
speak to my warriors; tell them the wishes of the Great Spirit. I
have spoken."

Thus called upon, I advanced to the place which the chief had left
vacant, and spoke in my turn:--

"Shoshones, fathers, brothers, warriors,--I am a Pale-face, but you know
all my heart is a Shoshone's. I am young, but no more a child. It is but
a short time since that I was a hunter; since that time the Manitou has
made me a warrior, and led me among strange and distant tribes, where he
taught me what I should do to render the Shoshones a great people. Hear
my words, for I have but one tongue; it is the tongue of my heart, and
in my heart now dwells the Good Spirit. Wonder not, if I assume the tone
of command to give orders; the orders I will give are the Manitou's.

"The twelve wisest heads of the Shoshones will go to the Arrapahoes.
With them they will take presents; they will take ten sons of chiefs,
who have themselves led men on the war-path; they will take ten young
girls, fair to look at, daughters of chiefs, whose voices are soft as
the warbling of the birds in the fall. At the great council of the
Arrapahoes, the ten girls will be offered to ten great chiefs, and ten
great chiefs will offer their own daughters to our ten young warriors;
they will offer peace for ever; they will exchange all the scalps, and
they will say that their fathers, the Shoshones, will once more open
their arms to their brave children. Our best hunting-ground shall be
theirs; they will fish the salmon of our rivers; they will be Arrapahoes
Shoshones; we will become Shoshones Arrapahoes. I have already sent to
the settlement of the Watchinangoes my ancient Pale-face friend of the
stout heart and keen eye; shortly we will see at the Post a vessel with
arms, ammunition, and presents for the nation. I will go myself with a
party of warriors to the prairies of the Apaches, and among the
Comanches.

"Yet I hear within me a stout voice, which I must obey. My grandfather,
the old chief, has said he should be no more a chief. It was wrong, very
wrong; the Manitou is angry. Is the buffalo less a buffalo when he grows
old, or the eagle less an eagle when a hundred winters have whitened his
wings? No! their nature cannot change, not more than that of a chief and
that chief, a chief of the Shoshones!

"Owato Wanisha will remain what he is; he is too young to be the great
chief of the whole of a great nation. His wish is good, but his wisdom
is of yesterday; he cannot rule. To rule belongs to those who have
deserved doing so, by long experience. No! Owato Wanisha will lead his
warriors to the war-path, or upon the trail of the buffalo; he will go
and talk to the grandchildren of the Shoshones; more he cannot do!

"Let now the squaws prepare the farewell meal, and make ready the green
paint; to-morrow I shall depart, with fifty of my young men. I
have spoken."

The council being broken up, I had to pass through the ceremony of
smoking the pipe and shaking hands with those who could call themselves
warriors. On the following morning, fifty magnificent horses, richly
caparisoned, were led to the lawn before the council lodge. Fifty
warriors soon appeared, in their gaudiest dresses, all armed with the
lance, bow, and lasso, and rifle suspended across the shoulder. Then
there was a procession of all the tribe, divided into two bands, the
first headed by the chiefs and holy men; the other, by the young
virgins. Then the dances commenced; the elders sang their exploits of
former days, as an example to their children; the voting men exercised
themselves at the war-post; and the matrons, wives, mothers, or sisters
of the travellers painted their faces with green and red, as a token of
the nature of their mission. When this task was performed, the whole of
the procession again formed their ranks, and joined in a chorus, asking
the Manitou for success, and bidding us farewell. I gave the signal; all
my men sprang up in their saddles, and the gallant little band, after
having rode twice round the council lodge, galloped away into
the prairie.

Two days after us, another party was to start for the country of the
Arrapahoes, with the view of effecting a reconciliation between our
two tribes.



CHAPTER XVI.


At this time, the generally bright prospects of California were clouding
over. Great changes had taken place in the Mexican government, new
individuals had sprung into power, and their followers were recompensed
with dignities and offices. But, as these offices had been already
filled by others, it was necessary to remove the latter, and,
consequently, the government had made itself more enemies.

Such was the case in California; but that the reader may understand the
events which are to follow, it is necessary to draw a brief sketch of
the country. I have already said that California embraces four hundred
miles of sea-coast upon the Pacific Ocean. On the east, it is bounded by
the Californian gulf, forming, in fact, a long peninsula. The only way
of arriving at it by land, from the interior of Mexico, is to travel
many hundred miles north, across the wild deserts of Sonora, and through
tribes of Indians which, from the earliest records down to our days,
have always been hostile to the Spaniards, and, of course, to the
Mexicans. Yet far as California is--too far indeed for the government of
Mexico to sufficiently protect it, either from Indian inroads or from
the depredations of pirates, by which, indeed, the coast has much
suffered--it does not prevent the Mexican government from exacting taxes
from the various settlements--taxes enormous in themselves, and so
onerous, that they will ever prevent these countries from becoming what
they ought to be, under a better government.

The most northerly establishment of Mexico on the Pacific Ocean is San
Francisco; the next, Monterey; then comes San Barbara, St. Luis Obispo,
Buona Ventura, and, finally, St. Diego; besides these seaports, are many
cities in the interior, such as St. Juan Campestrano, Los Angelos, the
largest town in California, and San Gabriel. Disturbances, arising from
the ignorance and venality of the Mexican dominion, very often happen
in these regions; new individuals are continually appointed to rule
them; and these individuals are generally men of broken fortunes and
desperate characters, whose extortions become so intolerable that, at
last, the Californians, in spite of their lazy dispositions, rise upon
their petty tyrants. Such was now the case at Monterey. A new governor
had arrived; the old General Morreno had, under false pre-texts, been
dismissed, and recalled to the central department, to answer to many
charges preferred against him.

The new governor, a libertine of the lowest class of the people, half
monk and half soldier, who had carved his way through the world by
murder, rapine, and abject submission to his superiors, soon began to
stretch an iron hand over the townspeople. The Montereyans will bear
much, yet under their apparent docility and moral apathy there lurks a
fire which, once excited, pours forth flames of destruction. Moreover,
the foreigners established in Monterey had, for a long time, enjoyed
privileges which they were not willing to relinquish; and as they were,
generally speaking, wealthy, they enjoyed a certain degree of influence
over the lower classes of the Mexicans.

Immediately after the first extortion of the new governor, the
population rose _en masse_, and disarmed the garrison. The presidio was
occupied by the insurgents, and the tyrant was happy to escape on board
an English vessel, bound to Acapulco.

However, on this occasion the Montereyans did not break their fealty to
the Mexican government; they wanted justice, and they took it into their
own hands. One of the most affluent citizens was unanimously selected
governor _pro tempore,_ till another should arrive, and they returned to
their usual pleasures and apathy, just as if nothing extraordinary had
happened. The name of the governor thus driven away was Fonseca. Knowing
well that success alone could have justified his conduct, he did not
attempt to return to Mexico, but meeting with some pirates, at that time
ravaging the coasts in the neighbourhood of Guatimala, he joined them,
and, excited by revenge and cupidity, he conceived the idea of
conquering California for himself. He succeeded in enlisting into his
service some 150 vagabonds from all parts of the earth--runaway sailors,
escaped criminals, and, among the number, some forty Sandwich
Islanders, brave and desperate fellows, who were allured with the hopes
of plunder.

I may as well here mention, that there is a great number of these
Sandwich Islanders swarming all along the coast of California, between
which and the Sandwich Islands a very smart trade is carried on by the
natives and the Americans. The vessels employed to perform the voyage
are always double manned, and once on the shores of California, usually
half of the crew deserts. Accustomed to a warm climate and to a life of
indolence, they find themselves perfectly comfortable and happy in the
new country. They engage themselves now and then as journeymen, to fold
the hides, and, with their earnings, they pass a life of inebriety
singularly contrasting with the well-known abstemiousness of the
Spaniards. Such men had Fonseca taken into his service, and having
seized upon a small store of arms and ammunition, he prepared for his
expedition.

In the meanwhile, the governor of Sonora having been apprized of the
movements at Monterey, took upon himself to punish the outbreak,
imagining that his zeal would be highly applauded by the Mexican
government. Just at this period, troops having come from Chihuahua, to
quell an insurrection of the conquered Indians, he took the field in
person, and advanced towards California. Leaving the ex-governor Fonseca
and the governor of Sonora for awhile, I shall return to my operations
among the Indians.

I have stated that upon the resolution of the Shoshones to unite the
tribes, I had despatched my old servant to Monterey, and Gabriel to the
nearest Apache village. This last had found a numerous party of that
tribe on the waters of the Colorado of the West, and was coming in the
direction which I had myself taken, accompanied by the whole party. We
soon met; the Apaches heard with undeniable pleasure the propositions I
made unto them, and they determined that one hundred of their chiefs and
warriors should accompany me on my return to the Shoshones, in order to
arrange with the elders of the tribe the compact of the treaty.

On our return we passed through the Arrapahoes, who had already received
my messengers, and had accepted as well as given the "brides," which
were to consolidate an indissoluble union. As to the Comanches, seeing
the distance, and the time which must necessarily be lost in going and
returning, I postponed* my embassy to them, until the bonds of union
between the three nations, Shoshones, Apaches, and Arrapahoes, should be
so firmly cemented as not to be broken. The Arrapahoes followed the
example of the Apaches; and a hundred warriors well mounted and
equipped, joined us to go and see the fathers, the Shoshones, and, smoke
with them the calumet of* eternal peace.

We were now a gallant band, two hundred and fifty strong and in order to
find game sufficient for the subsistence of many individuals, we were
obliged to take a long range to the south, so as to fall upon the
prairies bordering the Buona Ventura.* Chance, however, led us into a
struggle, in which became afterwards deeply involved. Scarcely had we
reached the river when we met with a company of fifteen individuals
composed of some of my old Monterey friends. They were on their way to
the settlement, to ask my help against the governor of Sonora; and the
Indians being all unanimous in their desire to chastise him, and to
acquire the good-will of the wealthy people of Monterey, I yielded to
circumstance and altered our course to the south. My old servant had
come with the deputation, and from him I learnt the whole of the
transaction.

It appears that the governor of Sonora declared that he would whip like
dogs, and hang the best part of the population of Monterey, principally
the Anglo-Saxon settlers, the property of whom he intended to confiscate
for his own private use If he could but have kept his own counsel, he
would of a certainty have succeeded, but the Montereyans were aware of
his intentions, even before he had reached the borders of California.

Deputations were sent to the neighbouring towns, and immediately a small
body of determined men started to occupy the passes through which the
governor had to proceed. There they learnt with dismay that the force
they would have to contend with was at least ten times more numerous
than their own; they were too brave, however, to retire without a blow
in defence of their independence, and remembering the intimacy
contracted with me, together with the natural antipathy of the Indians
against the Watchinangoes, or Mexicans, they determined to ask our help,
offering in return a portion of the wealth they could command in
cattle, arms, ammunition, and other articles of great value
among savages.

The governor's army amounted to five hundred men, two hundred of them
soldiers in uniform, and the remainder half*d stragglers, fond of
pillage, but too cowardly to fight for it. It was agreed that I and my
men, being all on horseback, would occupy the prairie, where we would
conceal ourselves in an ambush. The Montereyans and their friends were
to make way at the approach of the governor, as if afraid of disclosing
the ground; and then, when the whole of the hostile enemy should be in
full pursuit, we were to charge them in break and put them to rout. All
happened as was anticipated; We mustered about three hundred and fifteen
men, acting under one single impulse, and sanguine as to success. On
came the governor with his heroes.

A queer sight it was, and a noisy set of fellows they were;
nevertheless, we could see that they were rather afraid of meeting with
opposition, for they stopped at the foot of the hill, and perceiving
some eight or ten Montereyans at the top of the pass, they despatched a
white flag, to see if it were not possible to make some kind of
compromise. Our friends pretended to be much terrified, and retreated
down towards the prairie. Seeing this, our opponents became very brave.
They marched, galloped, and rushed on without order, till they were
fairly in our power; then we gave the war-whoop, which a thousand echoes
rendered still more terrible.

We fired not a bullet, we shot not an arrow, yet we obtained a signal
victory. Soldiers and stragglers threw themselves on the ground to
escape from death; while the governor, trusting to his horse's speed,
darted away to save himself. Yet his cowardice cost him his life, for
his horse tumbling down, he broke his neck. Thus perished the only
victim of this campaign.

We took the guns and ammunition of our vanquished opponents, leaving
them only one fusil for every ten men, with a number of cartridges
sufficient to prevent their starving on their return home. Their leader
was buried where he had fallen, and thus ended this mock engagement. Yet
another battle was to be fought, which, though successful, did not
terminate in quite so ludicrous a manner.

By this time Fonseca was coasting along the shore, but the
south-easterly winds preventing him from making Monterey, he entered
the Bay of St. Francisco. This settlement is very rich, its population
being composed of the descendants of English and American merchants, who
had acquired a fortune in the Pacific trade; it is called _Yerba buena_
(the good grass), from the beautiful meadows of wild clover which extend
around it for hundreds of miles.

There Fonseca had landed with about two hundred rascals of his own
stamp; and his first act of aggression had been to plunder and destroy
the little city. The inhabitants, of course, fled in every direction;
and on meeting us, they promised the Indians half of the articles which
had been plundered from them if we could overpower the invaders and
recapture them. I determined to surprise the rascals in the midst of
their revellings. I divided my little army into three bands, giving to
Gabriel the command of the Apaches, with orders to occupy the shores of
the bay and destroy the boats, so that the pirates should not escape to
their vessels. The Arrapahoes were left in the prairie around the city
to intercept those who might endeavour to escape by land. The third
party I commanded myself. It consisted of fifty well-armed Shoshones and
fifty-four Mexicans from the coast, almost all of them sons of English
or American settlers.

Early in the morning we entered into what had been, a few days before, a
pretty little town. It was now nothing but a heap of ruins, among which
a few tents had been spread for night shelter. The sailors and pirates
were all tipsy, scattered here and there on the ground, in profound
sleep. The Sandwichers, collected in a mass, lay near the tents. Near
them stood a large pile of boxes, kegs, bags, &c.; it was the plunder.
We should have undoubtedly seized upon the brigands without any
bloodshed had not the barking of the dogs awakened the Sandwichers, who
were up in a moment. They gave the alarm, seized their arms, and closed
fiercely and desperately with my left wing, which was composed of the
white men.

These suffered a great deal, and broke their ranks, but I wheeled round
and surrounded the fellows with my Shoshones, who did not even use their
rifles, the lance and tomahawk performing their deadly work in silence,
and with such a despatch in ten minutes but few of the miserable
islanders lived to complain of their wounds. My Mexicans, having
rallied, seized upon Fonseca, and destroyed many of the pirates in their
beastly state of intoxication. Only a few attempted to fight, the
greater number staggering towards the beach to seek shelter in their
boats. But the Apaches had already performed their duty; the smallest
boats they had dragged on shore, the largest they had scuttled and sunk.
Charging upon the miserable fugitives, they transfixed them with their
spears, and our victory was complete.

The pirates remaining on board the two vessels, perceiving how matters
stood, saluted us with a few discharges of grape and canister, which did
no execution; the sailors, being almost all of them runaway Yankees,
were in all probability as drunk as their companions on shore. At last
they succeeded in heaving up their anchors, and, favoured by the land
breeze, they soon cleared the bay. Since that time nothing has been
heard of them.

Fonseca, now certain of his fate, proved to be as mean and cowardly as
he had been tyrannical before his defeat. He made me many splendid
offers if I would but let him go and try his fortune elsewhere: seeing
how much I despised him, he turned to the Mexicans, and tried them one
and all; till, finally, perceiving that he had no hope of mercy, he
began to blaspheme so horribly that I was obliged to order him to
be gagged.

The next morning two companies arrived from Monterey, a council was
convened, twenty of the citizens forming themselves into a jury. Fonseca
was tried and condemned, both as a traitor and a pirate; and as shooting
would have been too great an honour for such a wretch, he was hanged in
company with the few surviving Sandwichers.

Our party had suffered a little in the beginning of the action, three
Mexicans had been killed and eighteen wounded, as well as two Apaches.
Of my Shoshones, not one received the smallest scratch; and the
Arrapahoes, who had been left to scour the prairie, joined us a short
time after the battle with a few scalps.

The people of San Francisco were true to their promise; the rescued
booty was divided into two equal parts, one of which was offered to the
Indians, as had been agreed upon. On the eve of our departure, presents
were made to us as a token of gratitude, and of course the Indians,
having at the first moment of their confederation, made such a
successful and profitable expedition, accepted it as a good presage for
the future. Their services being no longer required, they turned towards
the north, and started for the settlement under the command of Roche, to
follow up their original intentions of visiting the Shoshones. As for
me, I remained behind at San Francisco.



CHAPTER XVII.


Up to the present portion of my narrative, I have lived and kept company
with Indians and a few white men who had conformed to their manners and
customs. I had seen nothing of civilized life, except during my short
sojourn at Monterey, one of the last places in the world to give you a
true knowledge of mankind. I was as all Indians are, until they have
been deceived and outraged, frank, confiding, and honest. I knew that I
could trust my Shoshones, and I thought that I could put confidence in
those who were Christians and more civilized. But the reader must
recollect that I was but nineteen years of age, and had been brought up
as a Shoshone. My youthful ardour had been much inflamed by our late
successful conflicts. Had I contented myself with cementing the Indian
confederation, I should have done well, but my ideas now went much
farther. The circumstances which had just occurred raised in my mind the
project of rendering the whole of California Independent, and it-was my
ambition to become the liberator of the country.

Aware of the great resources of the territory, of the impassable
barriers presented to any large body of men who would invade it from the
central parts of Mexico; the more I reflected, the more I was convinced
of the feasibility of the undertaking.

I represented to the Californians at San Francisco that, under existing
circumstances, they would not be able successfully to oppose any force
which the government might send by sea from Acapulco; I pointed out to
them that their rulers, too happy in having a pretext for plundering
them, would show them no mercy, after what had taken place; and I then
represented, that if they were at once to declare their independence,
and open their ports to strangers, they would, in a short time, become
sufficiently wealthy and powerful to overthrow any expedition that might
be fitted out against them. I also proposed, as they had no standing
troops, to help them with a thousand warriors; but if so, I expected to
have a share in the new government that should be established. My San
Francisco friends heard me with attention, and I could see they approved
the idea; yet there were only a few from among the many who spoke out,
and they would not give any final answer until they had conferred with
their countrymen at Monterey. They pledged their honour that immediately
on their arrival in that city, they would canvas the business, dispatch
messengers to the southern settlements, and let me know the result.

As it was useless for me to return to the settlement before I knew their
decision, I resolved upon taking up my residence at one of the missions
on the bay, under the charge of some jolly Franciscan monks.

In the convent, or mission, I passed my time pleasantly; the good
fathers were all men of sound education, as indeed they all are in
Mexico. The holy fathers were more than willing to separate California
from the Mexican government; indeed they had many reasons for their
disaffection; government had robbed them of their property, and had
levied nearly two hundred per cent upon all articles of Californian
produce and manufacture. Moreover, when they sold their furs and hides
to the foreign traders, they were bound to give one-half of the receipts
to the government, while the other half was already reduced to an
eighth, by the Mexican process of charging 200 per cent duty upon all
goods landed on the shore. They gave me to understand that the missions
would, if necessary for my success, assist me with 15, 20, nay
30,000 dollars.

I had a pleasant time with these Padres, for they were all _bon
vivants_. Their cellars were well filled with Constantia wine, their
gardens highly cultivated, their poultry fat and tender, and their game
always had a particular flavour. Had I remained there a few months more,
I might have taken the vows myself, so well did that lazy, comfortable
life agree with my taste; but the Californians had been as active as
they had promised to be, and their emissaries came to San Francisco to
settle the conditions under which I was to lend my aid. Events were
thickening; there was no retreat for me, and I prepared for action.

After a hasty, though hearty, farewell to my pious and liberal
entertainers, I returned to the settlement, to prepare for the opening
of the drama, which would lead some of us either to absolute power or to
the scaffold.

Six weeks after my quitting San Francisco, I was once more in the field,
and ready for an encounter against the troops dispatched from St. Miguel
of Senora, and other central garrisons. On hearing of the defeat of the
two governors, about 120 Californians, from Monterey and San Francisco,
had joined my forces, either excited by their natural martial spirit, or
probably with views of ambition similar to my own.

I had with me 1,200 Indians, well equipped and well mounted; but, on
this occasion, my own Shoshones were in greater numbers than our new
allies. They numbered 800, forming two squadrons, and their discipline
was such as would have been admired at the military parades of Europe.
Besides them, I had 300 Arrapahoes and 100 Apaches.

As the impending contest assumed a character more serious than our two
preceding skirmishes, I made some alteration in the command, taking
under my own immediate orders a body of 250 Shoshones, and the Mexican
company, who had brought four small field-pieces. The remainder of my
Indians were subdivided into squadrons of 100, commanded by their own
respective chiefs. Gabriel, Roche, and my old servant, with two or three
clever young Californians, I kept about me, as aides-de-camp. We
advanced to the pass, and found the enemy encamped on the plain below.
We made our dispositions; our artillery was well posted behind
breastworks, in almost an impregnable position, a few miles below the
pass, where we had already defeated the governor of Senora. We found
ourselves in presence of an enemy inferior in number, but well
disciplined, and the owners of four field-pieces heavier than ours. They
amounted to about 950, 300 of which were cavalry, and the remainder
light infantry, with a small company of artillery.

Of course, in our hilly position our cavalry could be of no use, and as
to attacking them in the plain, it was too dangerous to attempt it, as
we had but 600 rifles to oppose to their superior armament and military
discipline. Had it been in a wood, where the Indians could have been
under cover of trees, we would have given the war-whoop, and destroyed
them without allowing them time to look about them; but as it was,
having dismounted the Apaches, and feeling pretty certain of the natural
strength of our position, we determined to remain quiet till a false
movement or a hasty attack from the enemy should give us the opportunity
of crushing them at a blow.

I was playing now for high stakes, and the exuberancy of spirit which
had formerly accompanied my actions had deserted me, and I was left a
prey to care, and, I must confess, to suspicion; but it was too late to
retrace my steps, and, moreover, I was too proud not to finish what I
had begun, even if it should be at the expense of my life. Happily, the
kindness and friendship of Gabriel and Roche threw a brighter hue upon
my thoughts. In them I knew I possessed two friends who would never
desert me in misfortune, whatever they might do in prosperity; we had so
long lived and hunted together, shared the same pleasures and the same
privations, that our hearts were linked by the strongest ties.

The commander who opposed us was an old and experienced officer, and
certainly we should have had no chance with him had he not been one of
those individuals who, having been appreciated by the former government,
was not in great favour with, or even trusted by, the present one. Being
the only able officer in the far west, he had of a necessity been
intrusted with this expedition, but only _de nomine_; in fact, he had
with him agents of the government to watch him, and who took a decided
pleasure in counteracting all his views; they were young men, without
any kind of experience, whose only merit consisted in their being more
or less related to the members of the existing government. Every one of
them wished to act as a general, looking upon the old commander as a
mere convenience upon whom they would throw all the responsibility in
case of defeat, and from whom they intended to steal the laurels, if any
were to be obtained.

This commander's name was Martinez; he had fought well and stoutly
against the Spaniards during the war of Independence; but that was long
ago, and his services had been forgotten. As he had acted purely from
patriotism, and was too stern, too proud, and too honest to turn
courtier and bow to upstarts in power, he had left the halls of
Montezuma with disgust; consequently he had remained unnoticed,
advancing not a step, used now and then in time of danger, but neglected
when no longer required.

I could plainly perceive how little unity there was prevailing among the
leaders of our opponents. At some times the position of the army showed
superior military genius, at others the infantry were exposed, and the
cavalry performing useless evolutions. It was evident that two powers
were struggling with each other; one endeavouring to maintain regular
discipline, the other following only the impulse of an unsteady and
overbearing temper. This discovery, of course, rendered me somewhat more
confident, and it was with no small pride I reflected that in my army I
alone commanded.

It was a pretty sight to look at my Shoshones, who already understood
the strength gained by simultaneous action. The Apaches, too, in their
frequent encounters with the regular troops, had acquired a certain
knowledge of cavalry tactics. All the travellers in Mexico who have met
with these intrepid warriors have wondered at their gallant and uniform
bearing. The Californians also, having now so much at stake, had assumed
a demeanour quite contrary to their usual indolent natures, and their
confidence in me was much increased since our success against Fonseca,
and the comparison they could now make between the disposition and
arrangement of the opposed forces. So elated indeed were they, and so
positive of success, that they frequently urged me to an immediate
attack. But I determined upon a line of conduct to which I adhered.

The Arrapahoes showed themselves a little unruly; brave, and such
excellent horsemen, as almost to realize the fable of the Centaurs,
charging an enemy with the impetuosity of lightning and disappearing
with the quickness of thought, they requested me every moment to engage;
but I knew too well the value of regular infantry, and how ineffectual
would be the efforts of light cavalry against their bayonets. I was
obliged to restrain their ardour by every argument I could muster,
principally by giving them, to understand that by a hasty attack we
should certainly lose the booty.

The moment came at last The prudence of the old commander having been
evidently overruled by his ignorant coadjutors, the infantry were put in
motion, flanked on one side by the cavalry and on the other by the
artillery. It was indeed a pitiful movement, for which they paid dearly.
I despatched the Arrapahoes to out-flank and charge the cavalry of the
enemy when a signal should be made; the Apaches slowly descended the
hill in face of the infantry, upon which we opened a destructive fire
with our four field-pieces.

The infantry behaved well; they never flinched, but stood their ground
as brave soldiers should do. The signal to charge was given to the
Arrapahoes, and at that moment, the Shoshones, who till then had
remained inactive with me on the hill, started at full galop to their
appointed duty. The charge of the Arrapahoes was rapid and terrific,
and, when the smoke and dust had cleared away, I perceived them in the
plain a mile off, driving before them the Mexican cavalry, reduced to
half its number. The Shoshones, by a rapid movement, had broken through
between the infantry and artillery, forcing the artillery-men to abandon
their pieces; then, closing their ranks and wheeling, they attacked
fiercely the right flank of the infantry.

When I gave the signal to the Arrapahoes to charge, the Apaches
quickened their speed and charged the enemy in front; but they were
checked by the running fire of the well-disciplined troops, and, in
spite of their determination and gallantry, they found in the Mexican
bayonets a barrier of steel which their lances could not penetrate.

The chances, however, were still ours: the Mexican artillery was in our
power, their cavalry dispersed and almost out of sight, and the
infantry, though admirably disciplined, was very hardly pressed both in
flank and in front. At this juncture I sent Gabriel to bring back the
Arrapahoes to the scene of the conflict, for I knew that the Mexican
cavalry would never form again until they had reached the borders of
Senora. Of course, the coadjutors of Martinez had disappeared with the
fugitive cavalry, leaving the old general to regain the lost advantage
and to bear the consequences of their own cowardice and folly.

Now left master of his actions, this talented officer did not yet
despair of success. By an admirable manoeuvre he threw his infantry into
two divisions, so as to check both bodies of cavalry until he could form
them into a solid square, which, charging with impetuosity through the
Shoshones, regained possession of their pieces of artillery, after
which, retreating slowly, they succeeded in reaching, without further
loss, the ground which they had occupied previous to their advance,
which, from its more broken and uneven nature, enabled the infantry to
resist a charge of cavalry with considerable advantage.

This manoeuvre of the old general, which extricated his troops from
their dangerous position and recovered his field-pieces, had also the
advantage of rendering our artillery of no further service, as we could
not move them down the hill. As the battle was still to be fought, I
resolved to attack them before they had time to breathe, and while they
were yet panting and exhausted with their recent exertions.

Till then the Californians had been merely spectators of the conflict. I
now put myself at their head and charged the Mexicans' square in front,
while the Shoshones did the same on the left, and the Apaches on
the right.

Five or six times were we repulsed, and we repeated the charge, the old
commander everywhere giving directions and encouraging his men. Roche
and I were both wounded, fifteen of the Californians dead, the ranks of
Shoshones much thinned by the unceasing fire of the artillery, and the
Apaches were giving way in confusion. I was beginning to doubt of
success, when Gabriel, having succeeded in recalling the Arrapahoes from
their pursuit of the fugitive cavalry, re-formed them, made a furious
charge upon the Mexicans on the only side of the square not already
assailed, and precisely at the moment when a last desperate effort of
the Shoshones and my own body of Californians had thrown the ranks
opposed to us into confusion.

The brave old commander, perceiving he could no longer keep his ground,
retreated slowly, with the intention of gaining the rugged and broken
ground at the base of the mountains behind him, where our cavalry could
no longer assail him.

Perceiving his intention, and determining, if possible, to prevent his
retreat, the Arrapahoes having now rejoined us, we formed into one
compact body and made a final and decisive charge, which proved
irresistible. We broke through their ranks and dispersed them. For a
time my command and power ceased; the Indians were following their own
custom of killing without mercy, and scalping the dead. One-half of the
enemy were destroyed; but Martinez succeeded the remainder in reaching
his intended position.

But the Mexican troops considered it useless to contend any more, and
shortly afterwards the old general himself rode towards us with a flag,
to ascertain the conditions under which we would accept his surrender.
Poor man! He was truly an estimable officer. The Indians opened their
ranks to let him pass, while all the Californians, who felt for his
mortification, uncovered themselves as a mark of respect. The old
general demanded a free passage back to Senora, and the big tears were
in his eyes as he made the proposal. Speaking of his younger associates,
he never used a word to their disparagement, though the slight curl of
his lip showed plainly how bitter were his feelings; he knew too that
his fate was sealed, and that he alone would bear the disgrace of
the defeat.

So much was he respected by the Californians, that his request was
immediately granted, upon his assurance that, under no circumstance, he
would return to California as a foe. As Martinez departed, a Shoshone
chief, perceiving that his horse was seriously wounded, dismounted from
his own, and addressed him:--

"Chief of the Watchinangoes (Mexicans) and brother, brave warrior! a
Shoshone can honour as well as fight an enemy: take this horse; it has
been the horse of a Red-skin warrior, it will be faithful to the
Pale-face."

The general bowed upon his saddle, and descended, saying, in few words,
that he now learned to esteem the Indian warriors who had overpowered
him on that fated day, both by their gallantry and generosity. When the
Indian proceeded to change the saddles, Martinez stopped him:

"Nay, brother," said he; "keep it with the holsters and their contents,
which are more suitable to a conqueror and a young warrior than to a
vanquished and broken-hearted old man."

Having said this, he spurred his new horse, and soon rejoined his men.
We returned to the encampment, and two hours afterwards we saw the
Mexicans in full retreat towards the rising sun.

That night was one of mourning; our success had been complete, but
dearly purchased. The Arrapahoes alone had not suffered. The Apaches had
lost thirty men, the Shoshones one hundred and twelve, killed and
wounded, and the Montereyans several of their most respected young
citizens. On the following day we buried our dead, and when our task
was over, certain that we should remain unmolested for a considerable
time, we returned to St. Francisco--the Indians to receive the promised
bounty, and I to make arrangements for our future movements.

By the narrative I have given, the reader may have formed an accurate
idea of what did take place in California. I subsequently received the
Mexican newspapers, containing the account of what occurred; and as
these are the organs through which the people of Europe are enlightened
as to the events of these distant regions, I shall quote the pages, to
show how truth may be perverted.

"_Chihuahua--News of the West--Californian Rebellion_.--This day
arrived in our city a particular courier from the Bishop of Senora,
bearer of dispatches rather important for the welfare of our government.
The spirit of rebellion is abroad; Texas already has separated from our
dominions; Yucatan is endeavouring to follow the pernicious example, and
California has just now lighted the flambeau of civil war.

"It appears that, excited by the bad advices of foreigners, the
inhabitants of Monterey obliged the gallant governor to leave his
fireside. This warlike officer found the means of forwarding dispatches
to Senora, while he himself, uniting a handful of brave and faithful
citizens, landed in the bay of St. Francisco, in order to punish the
rebels. By this time the governor of Senora, with the _élite_ of the
corps of the army under his orders, having advanced to his help, was
decoyed into the rebels' camp under some peaceful pretext, and
shamefully murdered.

"It is yet a glory to think that even a Mexican rebel could not have
been guilty of so heinous a crime. The performer of that cowardly deed
was a Frenchman, living among the Indians of the west, who, for the sake
of a paltry sum of gold, came to the aid of the rebels with many
thousands of the savages. His next step was to enter St. Francisco, and
there the horrors he committed recall to our mind the bloody deeds
performed in his country during the great revolution. But what could be
expected from a Frenchman? Fonseca was executed as a malefactor, the
city plundered, the booty divided among the red warriors; besides an
immense sum of money which was levied upon the other establishments, or,
to say better, extorted, upon the same footing as the buccaneers
of old.

"The news having reached the central government of the west, General
Martinez assumed upon himself the responsibility of an expedition,
which, under the present appearances, showed his want of knowledge, and
his complete ignorance of military tactics. He was met by ten thousand
Indians, and a powerful artillery served by the crews of many vessels
upon the coast--vessels bearing rather a doubtful character. Too late he
perceived his error, but had not the gallantry of repairing it and dying
as a Mexican should. He fled from the field almost in the beginning of
the action, and had it not been for the desperate efforts of the
cavalry, and truly wonderful military talents displayed by three or four
young officers who had accompanied him, the small army would have been
cut to pieces. We numbered but five hundred men in all, and had but a
few killed and wounded, while the enemy left behind them on the field
more than twelve hundred slain.

"The gallant young officers would have proceeded to St. Francisco, and
followed up their conquest, had the little army been in possession of
the necessary provisions and ammunition; but General Martinez, either
from incapacity or treachery, had omitted these two essential
necessaries for an army. We are proud and happy to say that Emanuel
Bustamente, the young distinguished officer, of a highly distinguished
family, who conducted himself so well in Yucatan during the last
struggle, commanded the cavalry, and it is to his skill that we Mexicans
owe the glory of having saved our flag from a deep stain.

"Postscriptum.--We perceive that the cowardly and mercenary Martinez has
received the punishment his treachery so well deserved; during his
flight he was met by some Indians and murdered. May divine Providence
thus punish all traitors to the Mexican government!"

I regret to say that the last paragraph was true. The brave Martinez,
who had stood to the last, who had faced death in many battles, had been
foully murdered, but not, as was reported, by an Indian; he had fallen
under the knife of an assassin--- but it was a Mexican who had been
bribed to the base deed.

Up to the present all had prospered. I was called "The Liberator, the
Protector of California." Splendid offers were made to me, and the
independence of California would have been secured, had I only had two
small vessels to reduce the southern seaports which had not yet declared
themselves, either fearing the consequences of a rebellion, or
disliking the idea of owing their liberation to a foreign condottiere,
and a large force of savages.

The Apaches returned homes with eighty mules loaded with their booty; so
did the Arrapahoes with pretty nearly an equal quantity. My Shoshones I
satisfied with promises, and returned with them to the settlement, to
prepare myself for forthcoming events.

A few chapters backwards I mentioned that I had despatched my old
servant to Monterey. He had taken with him a considerable portion of my
jewels and gold to make purchases, which were firmly to establish my
power over the Indian confederacy. A small schooner, loaded with the
goods purchased, started from Monterey; but, never being seen
afterwards, it is probable that she fell into the hands of the pirate
vessels which escaped from San Francisco.

I had relied upon this cargo to satisfy the just demands of my Indians
upon my arrival at the settlement The loss was a sad blow to me. The old
chief had just died, the power had devolved entirely upon me, and it was
necessary, according to Indian custom, that I should give largess, and
show a great display of liberality on my accession to the command of the
tribe; so necessary, indeed, was it, that I determined upon returning to
Monterey, _viâ_ San Francisco, to provide what was requisite. This step
was a fatal one, as will be shown when I narrate the circumstances which
had occurred during my absence.

Upon hearing the news of our movements In the west, the Mexican
government, for a few days, spoke of nothing but extermination. The
state of affairs, however, caused them to think differently; they had
already much work upon their hands, and California was very far off.
They hit upon a plan, which, if it showed their weakness, proved their
knowledge of Human nature. While I was building castles in the air,
agents from Mexico privately came to Monterey and decided the matter.

They called together the Americans domiciled at Monterey, who were the
wealthiest and the most influential of the inhabitants, and asked them
what it was that they required from the government? Diminution of taxes,
answered they. It was agreed. What next? Reduction of duty on foreign
goods. Agreed again. And next? Some other privileges and dignities. All
these were granted.

In return for this liberality, the Mexican agents then demanded that two
or three of the lower Mexicans should be hung up for an example, and
that the Frenchman and his two white companions should be decoyed and
delivered up to the government.

This was consented to by these honest domiciliated Americans, and thus
did they arrange to sacrifice me who had done so much for them. Just as
everything had been arranged upon between them and the agents, I most
unfortunately made my appearance, with Gabriel and Roche, at the mission
at San Francisco. As soon as they heard of our arrival, we were
requested to honour them with our company at a public feast, in honour
of our success!! It was the meal of Judas. We were all three seized and
handed over to the Mexican agents. Bound hand and foot, under an escort
of thirty men, the next morning we set off to cross the deserts and
prairies of Sonora, to gain the Mexican capital, where we well knew that
a gibbet was to be our fate.

Such was the grateful return we received from those who had called us to
their assistance[17]. Such was my first lesson in civilized life!

[Footnote 17: Americans, or Europeans, who wish to reside in Mexico, are
obliged to conform to the Catholic religion, or they cannot hold
property and become resident merchants. These were the apostates for
wealth who betrayed me.]



CHAPTER XVIII.


As circumstances, which I have yet to relate, have prevented my return
to the Shoshones, and I shall have no more to say of their movements in
these pages, I would fain pay them a just tribute before I continue my
narrative. I wish the reader to perceive how much higher the Western
Indians are in the scale of humanity than the tribes of the East, so
well described be Cooper and other American writers. There is a
chivalrous spirit in these rangers of the western prairies not to be
exceeded in history or modern times.

The four tribes of Shoshones, Arrapahoes, Comanches, and Apaches never
attempt, like the Dacotah and Algonquin, and other tribes of the East,
to surprise an enemy; they take his scalp, it is true, but they take it
in the broad day; neither will they ever murder the squaws, children,
and old men, who may be left unprotected when the war-parties are out.
In fact, they are honourable and noble foes, sincere and trustworthy
friends. In many points they have the uses of ancient chivalry among
them, so much so as to induce me to surmise that they may have brought
them over with them when they first took possession of the territory.

Every warrior has his nephew, who is selected as his page: he performs
the duty of a squire, in ancient knight errantry, takes charge of his
horse, arms, and accoutrements; and he remains in this office until he
is old enough to gain his own spurs. Hawking is also a favourite
amusement, and the chiefs ride out with the falcon, or small eagle, on
their wrist or shoulder.

Even in their warfare, you often may imagine that you were among the
knights of ancient days. An Arrapahoe and a Shoshone warrior armed with
a buckler and their long lances, will single out and challenge each
other; they run a tilt, and as each has warded off the blow, and passed
unhurt, they will courteously turn back and salute each other, as an
acknowledgment of their enemy's bravery and skill. When these challenges
take place, or indeed in any single combat without challenge, none of
these Indians will take advantage of possessing a superior weapon. If
one has a rifle and knows that his opponent has not, he will throw his
rifle down, and only use the same weapon as his adversary.

I will now relate some few traits of character, which will prove the
nobility of these Indians[18].

[Footnote 18: There is every prospect of these north-western tribes
remaining in their present primitive state, indeed of their gradual
improvement, for nothing can induce them to touch spirits. They know
that the eastern Indians have been debased and conquered by the use of
them, and consider an offer of a dram from an American trader as an
indirect attempt upon their life and honour.]

Every year during the season dedicated to the performing of the
religious ceremonies, premiums are given by the holy men and elders of
the tribe to those among the young men who have the most distinguished
themselves. The best warrior receives a feather of the black eagle; the
most successful hunter obtains a robe of buffalo-skin, painted inside,
and representing some of his most daring exploits; the most virtuous has
for his share a coronet made either of gold or silver; and these
premiums are suspended in their wigwams, as marks of honour, and handed
down to their posterity. In fact, they become a kind of _écusson_, which
ennobles a family.

Once during the distribution of these much-coveted prizes, a young man
of twenty-two was called by the chiefs to receive the premium of virtue.
The Indian advanced towards his chiefs, when an elder of the tribe
rising, addressed the whole audience. He pointed the young man out, as
one whose example should be followed, and recorded, among many other
praiseworthy actions, that three squaws, with many children, having been
reduced to misery by the death of their husbands in the last war against
the Crows, this young man, although the deceased were the greatest foes
of his family, undertook to provide for their widows and children till
the boys, grown up, would be able to provide for themselves and their
mothers. Since that time, he had given them the produce of his chase,
reserving to himself nothing but what was strictly necessary to sustain
the wants of nature. This was a noble and virtuous act, one that pleased
the Manitou. It was an example which all the Shoshones should follow.

The young man bowed, and as the venerable chief was stooping to put the
coronet upon his head, he started back and, to the astonishment of all,
refused the premium.

"Chiefs, warriors, elders of the Shoshones, pardon me! You know the good
which I have done, but you know not in what I have erred. My first
feeling was to receive the coronet, and conceal what wrong I had done;
but a voice in my heart forbids my taking what others have perchance
better deserved.

"Hear me, Shoshones! the truth must be told; hear my shame! One day, I
was hungry; it was in the great prairies. I had killed no game, and I
was afraid to return among our young men with empty hands. I remained
four days hunting, and still I saw neither buffaloes nor bears. At last,
I perceived the tent of an Arrapahoe. I went in; there was no one there,
and it was full of well-cured meat. I had not eaten for five days; I was
hungry, and I became a thief, I took away a large piece, and ran away
like a cowardly wolf. I have said: the prize cannot be mine."

A murmur ran through the assembly, and the chiefs, holy men, and elders
consulted together. At last, the ancient chief advanced once more
towards the young man, and took his two hands between his own. "My son,"
he said, "good, noble, and brave; thy acknowledgment of thy fault and
self-denial in such a moment make thee as pure as a good spirit in the
eyes-of the great Manitou. Evil, when confessed and repented of, is
forgotten; bend thy head, my son, and let me crown thee. The premium is
twice deserved and twice due."

A Shoshone warrior possessed a beautiful mare; no horse in the prairie
could outspeed her, and in the buffalo or bear hunt she would enjoy the
sport as much as her master, and run alongside the huge beast with great
courage and spirit. Many propositions were made to the warrior to sell
or exchange the animal, but he would not hear of it. The dumb brute was
his friend, his sole companion; they had both shared the dangers of
battle and the privations of prairie travelling; why should he part with
her? The fame of that mare extended so far, that in a trip he made to
San Francisco, several Mexicans offered him large sums of money;
nothing, however, could shake him in his resolution. In those countries,
though horses will often be purchased at the low price of one dollar, it
often happens that a steed, well known as a good hunter or a rapid
pacer, will bring sums equal to those paid in England for a fine
racehorse.

One of the Mexicans, a wild young man, resolved to obtain the mare,
whether or no. One evening, when the Indian was returning from some
neighbouring plantation, the Mexican laid down in some bushes at a short
distance from the road, and moaned as if in the greatest pain. The good
and kind-hearted Indian having reached the spot, heard his cries of
distress, dismounted from his mare, and offered any assistance: it was
nearly dark, and although he knew the sufferer to be a Pale-face, yet he
could not distinguish his features. The Mexican begged for a drop of
water, and the Indian dashed into a neighbouring thicket to procure it
for him. As soon as the Indian was sufficiently distant, the Mexican
vaulted upon the mare, and apostrophized the Indian:--

"You fool of a Red-skin, not cunning enough for a Mexican: you refused
my gold; now I have the mare for nothing, and I will make the trappers
laugh when I tell them how easily I have outwitted a Shoshone."

The Indian looked at the Mexican for a few moments in silence, for his
heart was big, and the shameful treachery wounded him to the very core.
At last, he spoke:--

"Pale-face," said he, "for the sake of others, I may not kill thee. Keep
the mare, since thou art dishonest enough to steal the only property of
a poor man; keep her, but never say a work how thou earnest by her, lest
hereafter a Shoshone, having learned distrust, should not hearken to the
voice of grief and woe. Away, away with her! let me never see her again,
or in an evil hour the desire of vengeance may make a bad man of me."

The Mexican was wild, inconsiderate, and not over-scrupulous, but not
without feeling: he dismounted from the horse, and putting the bridle in
the hand of the Shoshone, "Brother," said he, "I have done wrong, pardon
me! from an Indian I learn virtue, and for the future, when I would
commit any deed of injustice, I will think of thee."

Two Apaches loved the same girl; one was a great chief, the other a
young warrior, who had entered the war-path but a short time. Of course,
the parents of the young girl rejected the warriors suit, as soon as the
chief proposed himself. Time passed, and the young man, broken-hearted,
left all the martial exercises, in which he had excelled. He sought
solitude, starting early in the morning from the wigwam, and returning
but late in the night, when the fires were out. The very day on which he
was to lead the young girl to his lodge, the chief went bear-hunting
among the hills of the neighbourhood. Meeting with a grizzly bear, he
fired at him: but at the moment he pulled the trigger his foot slipped,
and he fell down, only wounding the fierce animal, which now, smarting
and infuriated with pain, rushed upon him.

The chief had been hurt in his fall, he was incapable of defence, and
knew that he was lost. He shut his eyes, and waited for his death-blow,
when the report of a rifle and the springing of the bear in the agonies
of death made him once more open his eyes; he started upon his feet,
there lay the huge monster, and near him stood the young warrior who
timely rescued him.

The chief recognized his rival, and his gratitude overpowering all other
feelings, he took the warrior by the hand, and grasped it firmly.

"Brother," he said, "thou hast saved my life at a time when It was
sweet, more so than usual. Let us be brothers."

The young man's breast heaved with contending passions; but he, too, was
a noble fellow.

"Chief," answered he, "when I saw the bear rushing upon thee, I thought
It was the Manitou who had taken compassion on my sufferings, my heart
for an instant felt light and happy; but as death was near thee, very
near, the Good Spirit whispered his wishes, and I have saved thee for
happiness. It is I who must die! I am nothing, have no friends, no one
to care for me, to love me, to make pleasant in the lodge the dull hours
of night. Chief, farewell!"

He was going, but the chief grasped him firmly by the arm,--

"Where dost thou wish to go? Dost thou know the love of a brother? Didst
thou ever dream of one? I have said we must be brothers to each other.
Come to the wigwam."

They returned to the village in silence, and when they arrived before
the door of the council lodge, the chief summoned everybody to hear what
he had to communicate, and ordered the parents to bring the young girl.

"Flower of the magnolia," said he, taking her by the hand, "wilt thou
love me less as a brother than as a husband? Speak! Whisper thy thought
to me! Didst thou ever dream of another voice than mine, a younger one,
breathing of love and despair?"

Then leading the girl to where the young warrior stood,--

"Brother," said he, "take thy wife and my sister."

Turning towards the elders, the chief extended his right arm, so as to
invite general attention.

"I have called you," said he, "that an act of justice may be performed.
Hear my words:--

"A young antelope loved a lily, standing under the shade of a sycamore,
by the side of a cool stream. Dally he came to watch it as it grew
whiter and more beautiful. He loved it very much, till one day a large
bull came and picked up the lily. Was it good? No! The poor antelope
fled towards the mountains, never wishing to return any more under the
cool shade of the sycamore. One day he met the bull down, and about to
be killed by a big bear. He saved him. He heard only the whisper of his
heart. He saved the bull, although the bull had taken away the pretty
lily from where it stood, by the cool stream. It was good, it was well!
The bull said to the antelope, 'We shall be brothers, in joy and in
sorrow!' and the antelope said there could be no joy for him since the
lily was gone. The bull considered. He thought that a brother ought to
make great sacrifices for a brother, and he said to the antelope,
'Behold, there is the lily, take it before it droops away. Wear it in
thy bosom and be happy.' Chiefs, sages, and warriors, I am the bull:
behold my brother the antelope. I have given unto him the flower of the
magnolia. She is the lily that grew by the side of the stream, and under
the sycamore. I have done well, I have done much, yet not enough for a
great chief, not enough for a brother, not enough for justice! Sages,
warriors, hear me all. The Flower of the Magnolia can lie but upon the
bosom of a chief. My brother must become a chief. He is a chief, for I
divide with him the power I possess: my wealth, my lodge, are his own;
my horses, my mules, my furs, and all! A chief has but one life, and it
is a great gift that cannot be paid too highly. You have heard my words.
I have said!"

This sounds very much like a romance, but it is an Apache story, related
of one of their great chiefs, during one of their evening encampments.
An Apache having, in a moment of passion, accidentally killed one of the
tribe, hastened to the chiefs to deliver himself up to justice. On his
way he was met by the brother of his victim, upon whom, according to
Indian laws, fell the duty of revenge and retaliation. They were
friends, and shook hands together.

"Yet I must kill thee, friend," said the brother.

"Thou wilt!" answered the murderer, "it is thy duty; but wilt thou not
remember the dangers we have passed together, and provide and console
those I leave behind in my lodge?"

"I will," answered the brother. "Thy wife shall be my sister during her
widowhood; thy children will never want game, until they can themselves
strike the bounding deer."

The two Indians continued their way in silence, till at once the brother
of the murdered one stopped.

"We shall soon reach the chiefs," said he; "I to revenge a brother's
death, thou to quit for ever thy tribe and thy children, Hast thou a
wish? Think, whisper!"

The murderer stood irresolute; his glance furtively took the direction
of his lodge. The brother continued,--

"Go to thy lodge. I shall wait for thee till the setting of the sun,
before the council door. Go! thy tongue is silent, but I know the wish
of thy heart. Go!"

Such traits are common in Indian life. Distrust exists not among the
children of the wilderness, until generated by the conduct of white men.
These stories, and thousand others, all exemplifying the triumph of
virtue and honour over baseness and vice, are every day narrated by the
elders, in presence of the young men and children. The evening
encampment is a great school of morals, where the red-skin philosopher
embodies in his tales the sacred precepts of virtue. A traveller, could
he understand what was said, as he viewed the scene, might fancy some of
the sages of ancient Greece inculcating to their disciples those
precepts of wisdom which have transmitted their name down to us bright
and glorious, through more than twenty centuries.

I have stated that the holy men among the Indians, that is to say, the
keepers of the sacred lodges, keep the records of the great deeds
performed in the tribe; but a tribe will generally boast more of the
great virtues of one of its men than of the daring of its bravest
warriors. "A virtuous man," they say, "has the ear of the Manitou, he
can tell him the sufferings of Indian nature, and ask him to
soothe them."

Even the Mexicans, who, of all men, have had most to suffer, and suffer
daily from the Apaches[19], cannot but do them the justice they so well
deserve. The road betwixt Chihuahua and Santa Fé is almost entirely
deserted, so much are the Apaches dreaded; yet they are not hated by the
Mexicans half as much as the Texans or the Americans. The Apaches are
constantly at war with the Mexicans, it is true; but never have they
committed any of those cowardly atrocities which have disgraced every
page of Texan history. With the Apaches there are no murders in cold
blood, no abuse of the prisoners. A captive knows that he will either
suffer death or be adopted in the tribe; but he has never to fear the
slow fire and the excruciating torture so generally employed by the
Indians in the United States territories.

[Footnote 19: What I here say of the Apaches applies to the whole
Shoshone race.]

Their generosity is unbounded; and by the treatment I received at their
hands the reader may form an idea of that brave people. They will never
hurt a stranger coming to them. A green bough in his hand is a token of
peace. For him they will spread the best blankets the wigwam can afford;
they will studiously attend to his wants, smoke with him the calumet of
peace, and when he goes away, whatever he may desire from among the
disposable wealth of the tribe, if he asks for it, it is given.

Gabriel was once attacked near Santa Fé, and robbed of his baggage, by
some honest Yankee traders. He fell in with a party of Apaches, to whom
he related the circumstance. They gave him some blankets, and left him
with their young men at the hunting-lodges they had erected. The next
day they returned with several Yankee captives, all well tied, to
prevent any possibility of escape. These were the thieves; and what they
had taken of Gabriel was, of course, restored to him, one of the Indians
saying, that the Yankees, having blackened and soiled the country by
theft, should receive the punishment of dogs, and as it was beneath an
Apache to strike them, cords were given to them, with orders that they
should chastise each other for their rascality. The blackguards were
obliged to submit, and the dread of being scalped was too strong upon
them to allow them to refuse. At first they did not seem to hurt each
other much; but one or two of them, smarting under the lash, returned
the blows in good earnest, and then they all got angry, and beat each
other so unmercifully that, in a few minutes, they were scarcely able to
move. Nothing could exceed the ludicrous picture which Gabriel would
draw out of this little event.

There is one circumstance which will form a particular datum in the
history of the Western wild tribes,--I mean the terrible visitation of
the small-pox. The Apaches, Comanches, the Shoshones, and Arrapahoes are
so clean and so very nice in the arrangement of their domestic comforts,
that they suffered very little, or not at all; at least, I do not
remember a single case which brought death in these tribes; indeed, as I
have before mentioned, the Shoshones vaccinate.

But such was not the case with the Club Indians of the Colorado of the
West, with the Crows, the Flat-heads, the Umbiquas, and the Black-feet.
These last suffered a great deal more than any people in the world ever
suffered from any plague or pestilence. To be sure, the Mandans had been
entirely swept from the surface of the earth; but they were few, while
the Black-feet were undoubtedly the most numerous and powerful tribe in
the neighbourhood of the mountains. Their war-parties ranged the country
from the northern English posts on the Slave Lake down south to the very
borders of the Shoshones, and many among them had taken scalps of the
Osages, near the Mississippi, and even of the great Pawnees. Between the
Red River and the Platte they had once one hundred villages, thousands
and thousands of horses. They numbered more than six thousand warriors.
Their name had become a by-word of terror on the northern continent,
from shore to shore, and little children in the eastern states, who knew
not the name of the tribes two miles from their dwellings, had learned
to dread even the name of a Black-foot. Now the tribe has been reduced
to comparative insignificancy by this dreadful scourge. They died by
thousands; whole towns and villages were destroyed; and even now, the
trapper, coming from the mountains, will often come across numberless
lodges in ruins, and the blanched skeletons of uncounted and unburied
Indians. They lost ten thousand individuals in less than three weeks.

Many tribes but little known suffered pretty much in the same ratio. The
Club Indians I have mentioned, numbering four thousand before the
pestilence, are now reduced to thirty or forty Individuals; and some
Apaches related to me that happening at that time to along the shores of
the Colorado, they met the poor fellows dying by hundreds on the very
edge of the water, where they had dragged themselves to quench their
burning thirst, there not being among them one healthy or strong enough
to help and succour the others. The Navahoes, living in the
neighbourhood of the Club Indians, have entirely disappeared; and,
though late travellers have mentioned them in their works, there is not
one of them living now.

Mr. Farnham mentions them In his "Tour on the Mountains"; but he must
have been mistaken, confounding one tribe with another, or perhaps
deceived by the ignorance of the trappers; for that tribe occupied a
range of country entirely out of his track, and never travelled by
American traders or trappers. Mr. Farnham could not have been in their
neighbourhood by at least six hundred miles.

The villages formerly occupied by the Navahoes are deserted, though many
of their lodges still stand; but they serve only to shelter numerous
tribes of dogs, which, having increased wonderfully since there has been
no one to kill and eat them, have become the lords of vast districts,
where they hunt in packs. So numerous and so fierce have they grown,
that the neighbouring tribes feel great unwillingness to extend their
range to where they may fall in with these canine hunters.

This disease, which has spread north as far as the Ohakallagans, on the
borders of the Pacific Ocean, north of Fort Vancouver, has also extended
its ravages to the western declivity of the Arrahuac, down to 30° north
lat., where fifty nations that had a name are now forgotten, the
traveller, perchance, only reminded that they existed when he falls in
with heaps of unburied bones.

How the Black-feet caught the infection it is difficult to say, as their
immediate neighbours in the east escaped; but the sites of their
villages were well calculated to render the disease more general and
terrible; their settlements being generally built in some recess, deep
in the heart of the mountains, or in valleys surrounded by lofty hills,
which prevent all circulation of the air; and it is easy to understand
that the atmosphere, once becoming impregnated with the effluvia, and
having no issue, must have been deadly.

On the contrary, the Shoshones, the Apaches, and the Arrapahoes, have
the generality of their villages built along the shores of deep and
broad rivers. Inhabiting a warm clime, cleanness, first a necessity, has
become a second nature. The hides and skins are never dried in the
immediate vicinity of their lodges, but at a great distance, where the
effluvia can hurt no one. The interior of their lodges is dry, and
always covered with a coat of hard white clay, a good precaution against
insects and reptiles, the contrast of colour immediately betraying their
presence. Besides which, having always a plentiful supply of food, they
are temperate in their habits, and are never guilty of excess; while the
Crows, Black-feet, and Clubs, having often to suffer hunger for days,
nay, weeks together, will, when they have an opportunity, eat to
repletion, and their stomachs being always in a disordered state (the
principal and physical cause of their fierceness and ferocity), it is
no wonder that they fell victims, with such predispositions to disease.

It will require many generations to recover the number of Indians which
perished in that year; and, as I have said, as long as they live, it
will form an epoch or era to which they will for centuries refer.



CHAPTER XIX.


In the last chapter but one I stated that I and my companions, Gabriel
and Roche, had been delivered up to the Mexican agents, and were
journeying, under an escort of thirty men, to the Mexican capital, to be
hanged as an example to all liberators. This escort was commanded by two
most atrocious villains, Joachem Texada and Louis Ortiz. They evidently
anticipated that they would become great men in the republic, upon the
safe delivery of our persons to the Mexican Government, and every day
took good care to remind us that the gibbet was to be our fate on
our arrival.

Our route lay across the central deserts of Sonora, until we arrived on
the banks of the Rio Grande, and so afraid were they of falling in with
a hostile party of Apaches, that they took long turns out of the general
track, and through mountainous passes, by which we not only suffered
greatly from fatigue, but were very often threatened with starvation.

It was sixty-three days before we crossed the Rio Grande at Christobal,
and we had still a long journey before us. This delay, occasioned by the
timidity of our guards, proved our salvation. We had been but one day on
our march in the swamp after leaving Christobal, when the war-whoop
pierced our ears, and a moment afterwards our party was surrounded by
some hundred Apaches, who saluted us with a shower of arrows.

Our Mexican guards threw themselves down on the ground, and cried for
mercy, offering ransom. I answered the war-whoop of the Apaches,
representing my companions and myself as their friends, and requesting
their help and protection, which were immediately given. We were once
more unbound and free.

I hardly need say that this was a most agreeable change in the state of
affairs; for I have no doubt that had we arrived at our destination, we
should either have been gibbeted or died (somehow or other) in prison.
But if the change was satisfactory to us, it was not so to Joachem
Texada and Louis Ortiz, who changed their notes with their change of
condition.

The scoundrels; who had amused themselves with reminding us that all we
had to expect was an ignominious death, were now our devoted humble
servants, cleaning and brushing their own mules for our use, holding the
stirrup, and begging for our interference in their behalf with the
Apaches. Such wretches did not deserve our good offices; we therefore
said nothing for or against them, leaving the Apaches to act as they
pleased. About a week after our liberation the Apaches halted, as they
were about to divide their force into two bands, one of which was to
return home with the booty they had captured, while the other proceeded
to the borders of Texas.

I have stated that the Shoshones, the Arrapahoes, and Apaches had
entered into the confederation, but the Comanches were too far distant
for us to have had an opportunity of making the proposal to them. As
this union was always uppermost in my mind, I resolved that I would now
visit the Comanches, with a view to the furtherance of my object.

The country on the east side of the Rio Grande is one dreary desert, in
which no water is to be procured. I believe no Indian has ever done more
than skirt its border; indeed, as they assert that it is inhabited by
spirits and demons, it is clear that they cannot have visited it.

To proceed to the Comanches country it was therefore necessary that we
should follow the Rio Grande till we came to the Presidio of Rio Grande,
belonging to the Mexicans, and from there cross over and take the road
to San Antonio de Bejar, the last western city of Texas, and proceed
through the Texan country to where the Comanches were located. I
therefore decided that we would join the band of Apaches who were
proceeding towards Texas.

During this excursion, the Apaches had captured many horses and arms
from a trading party which they had surprised near Chihuahua, and, with
their accustomed liberality, they furnished us with steeds, saddles,
arms, blankets, and clothes; indeed, they were so generous that we could
easily pass ourselves off as merchants returning from a trading
expedition in case we were to fall in with any Mexicans, and have to
undergo an examination.

We took our leave of the generous Apache chiefs, who were returning
homewards. Joachem Texada and Louis Ortiz were, with the rest of the
escort, led away as captives, and what became of them I cannot say. We
travelled with the other band of Indians, until we had passed the
Presidio del Rio Grande, a strong Mexican fort, and the day afterwards
took our farewell of them, having joined a band of smugglers who were on
their way to Texas. Ten days afterwards, we entered San Antonio de
Bejar, and had nothing more to fear, as we were now clear of the Mexican
territory.

San Antonio de Bejar is by far the most agreeable residence in Texas.
When in the possession of the Mexicans, it must have been a
charming place.

The river San Antonio, which rises at a short distance above the city,
glides gracefully through the suburbs; and its clear waters, by numerous
winding canals, are brought up to every house. The temperature of the
water is the same throughout the year, neither too warm nor too cold for
bathing; and not a single day passes without the inhabitants indulging
in the favourite and healthy exercise of swimming, which is practised by
everybody, from morning till evening; and the traveller along the shores
of this beautiful river will constantly see hundreds of children, of all
ages and colour, swimming and diving like so many ducks.

The climate is pure, dry, and healthy. During summer the breeze is fresh
and perfumed; and as it never rains, the neighbouring plantations are
watered by canals, which receive and carry in every direction the waters
of the San Antonio. Formerly the city contained fifteen thousand
inhabitants, but the frequent revolutions and the bloody battles which
have been fought within its walls have most materially contributed to
diminish its number; so much indeed, that, in point of population, the
city of San Antonio de Bejar, with its bishopric and wealthy missions,
has fallen to the rank of a small English village. It still carries on a
considerable trade, but its appearance of prosperity is deceptive; and
I would caution emigrants not to be deceived by the Texan accounts of
the place. Immense profits have been made, to be sure; but now even the
Mexican smugglers and banditti are beginning to be disgusted with the
universal want of faith and probity.

The Mexicans were very fond of gardens and of surrounding their houses
with beautiful trees, under the shade of which they would pass most of
the time which could be spared from bathing. This gives a fresh and
lively appearance to the city, and you are reminded of Calabrian
scenery, the lightness and simplicity of the dwellings contrasting with
the grandeur and majesty of the monastic buildings in the distance.
Texas had no convents, but the Spanish missions were numerous, and their
noble structures remain as monuments of former Spanish greatness. Before
describing these immense establishments, it is necessary to state that
soon after the conquest of Mexico, one of the chief objects of Spanish
policy was the extension of the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.
The conversion of the Indians and the promulgation of Christianity were
steadily interwoven with the desire of wealth; and at the time that they
took away the Indian's gold, they gave him Christianity. At first, force
was required to obtain proselytes, but cunning was found to succeed
better; and, by allowing the superstitions of the Indians to be mixed up
with the rites of the Church, a sort of half-breed religion became
general, upon the principle, I presume, that half a loaf is better than
no bread. The anomalous consequences of this policy are to be seen in
the Indian ceremonies even to this day.

To afford adequate protection to the Roman Catholic missionaries,
settlements were established, which still bear the name of missions.
They are very numerous throughout California, and there are several in
Texas. The Alamo, at San Antonio, was one of great importance; there
were others of less consideration in the neighbourhood; as the missions
of Conception, of San Juan, San Jose, and La Espada. All these edifices
are most substantially built; the walls are of great thickness, and from
their form and arrangement they could be converted into frontier
fortresses. They had generally, though not always, a church at the side
of the square, formed by the high walls, through which there was but one
entrance. In the interior they had a large granary, and the outside
wall formed the back to a range of buildings, in which the missionaries
and their converts resided. A portion of the surrounding district was
appropriated to agriculture, the land being, as I before observed,
irrigated by small canals, which conducted the water from the river.

The Alamo is now in ruins, only two or three of the houses of the inner
square being inhabited. The gateway of the church was highly ornamented,
and still remains, although the figures which once occupied the niches
have disappeared. But there is still sufficient in the ruins to interest
the inquirer into its former history, even if he could for a moment
forget the scenes which have rendered it celebrated in the history of
Texan independence.

About two miles lower down the San Antonio river is the mission of
Conception. It is a very large stone building, with a fine cupola, and
though a plain building, is magnificent in its proportions and the
durability of its construction. It was here that Bowie fought one of the
first battles with the Mexican forces, and it has not since been
inhabited. Though not so well known to fame as other conflicts, this
battle was that which really committed the Texans, and compelled those
who thought of terms and the maintenance of a Mexican connection to
perceive that the time for both had passed.

The mission of San Jose is about a mile and a half further down the
river. It consists, like the others, of a large square, and numerous
Mexican families still reside there. To the left of the gateway is the
granary. The church stands apart from the building; it is within the
square, but unconnected. The west door is decorated with the most
elaborated carvings of flowers, images of angels, and figures of the
apostles; the interior is plain. To the right is a handsome tower and
belfry, and above the altar a large stone cupola. Behind the church is a
long range of rooms for the missionaries, with a corridor of nine arches
in front. The Texan troops were long quartered here, and, although
always intoxicated, strange to say, the stone carvings have not been
injured. The church has since been repaired, and divine service is
performed in it.

About half a mile further down is the mission of San Juan. The church
forms part of the sides of the square, and on the north-west corner of
the square are the remains of a small stone tower. This mission, as
well as that of La Espada, is inhabited. The church of La Espada,
however, is in ruins, and but two sides of the square, consisting of
mere walls, remain entire; the others have been wantonly destroyed.

The church at San Antonio de Bejar was built in the year 1717; and
although it has suffered much from the many sieges which the city has
undergone, it is still used as a place of public worship. At the time
that San Antonio was attacked and taken by Colonel Cooke, in 1835,
several cannon-shots struck the dome, and a great deal of damage was
done; in fact, all the houses in the principal square of the town are
marked more or less by shot. One among them has suffered very much; it
is the "Government-house," celebrated for one of the most cowardly
massacres ever committed by a nation of barbarians, and which I shall
here relate.

After some skirmishes betwixt the Comanches and the Texans, in which the
former had always had the advantage, the latter thought it advisable to
propose a treaty of alliance. Messengers, with flags of truce, were
despatched among the Indians, inviting all their chiefs to a council at
San Antonio, where the representatives of Texas would meet them and make
their proposals for an eternal peace. Incapable of treachery themselves,
the brave Comanches never suspected it in others; at the time agreed
upon, forty of their principal chiefs arrived in the town, and, leaving
their horses in the square, proceeded to the "Government-house." They
were all unarmed, their long flowing hair covered with a profusion of
gold and silver ornaments; their dresses very rich and their blankets of
that fine Mexican texture which commands in the market from fifty to one
hundred and fifty dollars a-piece. Their horses were noble animals, and
of great value, their saddles richly embossed with gold and silver. The
display of so much wealth excited all the worst propensities of the
Texan populace, who resolved at any price to obtain possession of so
splendid a booty. While the chiefs were making their speeches of peace
and amity, a few hundred Texan blackguards rushed into the room with
their pistols and knives, and began their work of murder. All the
Indians fell, except one, who succeeded in making his escape; but though
the Comanches were quite unarmed, they sold their lives dearly, for
eighteen Texans were found among the slain.

I will close this chapter with a few remarks upon the now acknowledged
republic of Texas.

The dismemberment of Texas from Mexico was effected by the reports of
extensive gold-mines, diamonds, &c., which were to be found there, and
which raised the cupidity of the eastern speculators and land-jobbers of
the United States. But in all probability this appropriation would never
have taken place if it had not been that the southern states of America
had, with very different views, given every encouragement to
the attempt.

The people of Louisiana and the southern states knew the exact value of
the country, and laughed at the idea of its immense treasures. They
acted from a deep, although it eventually has turned out to have been a
false, policy. They considered that Texas, once wrested from Mexico,
would be admitted into the Union, subdivided into two or three states,
every one of which would, of course, be slave-holding states, and send
their members to Congress. This would have given the slave-holding
states the preponderance in the Union.

Events have turned out differently, and the planters of the south now
deplore their untoward policy and want of foresight, as they have
assisted in raising up a formidable rival in the production of their
staple commodity, injurious to them even in time of peace, and in case
of a war with England, still more inimical to their interests.

It is much to be lamented that Texas had not been populated by a more
deserving class of individuals; it might have been, even by this time, a
country of importance and wealth; but it has from the commencement been
the resort of every vagabond and scoundrel who could not venture to
remain in the United States; and, unfortunately, the Texan character was
fixed and established, as a community wholly destitute of principle or
probity, before the emigration of more respectable settlers had
commenced. The consequences have been most disastrous, and it is to be
questioned whether some of them will ever be removed.

At the period of its independence, the population of Texas was estimated
at about forty thousand. Now, if you are to credit the Texan Government,
it has increased to about seventy-five thousand. Such, however, is not
the fact, although it, of course, suits the members of the republic to
make the assertion. Instead of the increase stated by them, the
population of Texas has decreased considerably, and is not now equal to
what it was at the Independence.

This may appear strange, after so many thousands from the United States,
England, and Germany have been induced to emigrate there; but the fact
is, that, after having arrived in the country, and having discovered
that they were at the mercy of bands of miscreants, who are capable of
any dark deed, they have quitted the country to save the remainder of
their substance, and have passed over into Mexico, the Southern United
States, or anywhere else where they had some chance of security for life
and property.

Among the population of Texas were counted many thousand Mexicans, who
remained in the country, trusting that order and law would soon be
established: but, disappointed in their expectations, they have
emigrated to Mexico. Eight thousand have quitted San Antonio de Bejar,
and the void has been filled up by six or seven hundred drunkards,
thieves, and murderers. The same desertion has taken place in Goliad,
Velasco, Nacogdoches, and other towns, which were formerly occupied by
Mexican families.

It may give the reader some idea of the insecurity of life and property
in Texas, when I state, that there are numerous bands of robbers
continually on the look-out, to rifle and murder the travellers, and
that it is of frequent occurrence for a house to be attacked and
plundered, the women violated, and every individual afterwards murdered
by these miscreants, who, to escape detection, dress and paint
themselves as Indians. Of course, what I have now stated, although well
known to be a fact, is not likely to be mentioned in the Texan
newspapers.

Another serious evil arising from this lawless state of the country is,
that the Indians, who were well inclined towards the Texans, as being,
with them, mutual enemies of the Mexicans, are now hostile, to
extermination. I have mentioned the murder of the Comanche chiefs, in
the government-house of San Antonio, which, in itself, was sufficient.
But such has been the disgraceful conduct of the Texans towards the
Indians, that the white man is now considered by them as a term of
reproach; they are spoken of by the Indians as "dogs," and are generally
hung or shot whenever they are fallen in with. Centuries cannot repair
this serious evil, and the Texans have made bitter and implacable foes
of those who would have been their friends. No distinction is made
between an American and a Texan, and the Texans have raised up a foe to
the United States, which may hereafter prove not a little troublesome.

In another point, Texas has been seriously injured by this total want of
probity and principle. Had Western Texas been settled by people of
common honesty, it would, from its topographical situation, have soon
become a very important country, as all the mercantile transactions with
the north central provinces of Mexico would have been secured to it.

From the Presidio del Rio Grande there is an excellent road to San
Antonio de Bejar; to the south of San Antonio lies Chihuahua; so that
the nearest and most accessible route overland, from the United States
to the centre of Mexico, is through San Antonio. And this overland route
can be shortened by discharging vessels at Linville, or La Bacca, and
from thence taking the goods to San Antonio, a distance of about one
hundred and forty miles. The western boundary line of Texas, at the time
of the declaration of its independence, was understood to be the river
Nueces; and if so, nothing could have prevented San Antonio from
becoming an inland depot of much commercial importance.

Numerous parties of Mexican traders have long been accustomed to come to
San Antonio from the Rio Grande. They were generally very honest in
their payments, and showed a very friendly spirit. Had this trade been
protected, as it should have been, by putting down the bands of robbers,
who rendered the roads unsafe by their depredations and atrocities, it
would have become of more value than any trade to Santa Fé. Recognized
or unrecognized, Texas could have carried on the trade; merchants would
have settled in the West, to participate in it; emigrants would have
collected in the district, where the soil is rich and the climate
healthy. It is true, the trade would have been illicit; but such is ever
the inevitable consequence of a high and ill-regulated tariff. It would,
nevertheless, have been very profitable, and would have conciliated the
population of Rio Grande towards the Texans, and in all probability have
forced upon the Mexican government the establishment of friendly
relations between the two countries.

But this trade has been totally destroyed; the Indians now seize and
plunder every caravan, either to or from San Antonio; the Texan robbers
lie in wait for them, if they escape the Indians; and should the Mexican
trader escape with his goods from both, he has still to undergo the
chance of being swindled by the _soi-disant_ Texan merchant.

If ever there was a proof, from the results of pursuing an opposite
course, that honesty is the best policy, it is to be found in the
present state of Texas.



CHAPTER XX.


Happily for me and my two companions, there still remained two or three
gentlemen in San Antonio. These were Colonel Seguin and Messrs. Novarro,
senior and junior, Mexican gentlemen, who, liberal in their ideas and
frank in their natures, had been induced by the false representations of
the Texans not to quit the country after its independence of Mexico;
and, as they were men of high rank, by so doing they not only forfeited
their rights as citizens of Mexico, but also incurred the hatred and
animosity of that government.

Now that they had discovered their error, it was too late to repair it;
moreover, pride and, perhaps, a mistaken sense of honour, would not
permit them to remove to Mexico, although severed from all those ties
which render life sweet and agreeable. Their own sorrows did not,
however, interfere with their unbounded hospitality: in their house we
found a home. We formed no intimacy with the Texans; indeed, we had no
contact whatever with them, except that one day Roche thrashed two of
them with his shillalah for ill-treating an old Indian.

Inquiries were made by Colonel Seguin as to where the Comanches might be
found, and we soon ascertained that they were in their great village, at
the foot of the Green Mountain, upon the southern fork of the
head-waters of the Rio Roxo.

We made immediate preparations for departure, and as we proposed to pass
through Austin, the capital of Texas, our kind entertainers pressed five
hundred dollars upon us, under the plea that no Texan would ever give us
a tumbler of water except it was paid for, and that, moreover, it was
possible that after passing a few days among the gallant members of
Congress, we might miss our holsters or stirrups, our blankets, or even
one of our horses.

We found their prediction, in the first instance, but too true. Six
miles from Austin we stopped at the farm of the Honourable Judge Webb,
and asked leave to water our horses, as they had travelled forty miles
under a hot sun without drawing bit. The honourable judge flatly
refused, although he had a good well, besides a pond, under fence,
covering several acres; his wife, however, reflecting, perhaps, that her
stores were rather short of coffee or salt, entered into a rapid
discussion with her worse half, and by-and-bye that respectable couple
of honourables agreed to sell water to us at twenty-five cents a bucket.

When we dismounted to take the bridles off our horses, the daughters
arrived, and perceiving we had new silk sashes and neckerchiefs and some
fine jewels, they devoured us with their eyes, and one of them, speaking
to her papa, that most hospitable gentleman invited us to enter his
house. By that time we were once more upon our saddles and ready to
start. Roche felt indignant at the meanness of the fellow who had
received our severity-five cents for the water before he invited us into
the house. We refused, and Roche told him that he was an old scoundrel
to sell for money that which even a savage will never refuse to his most
bitter enemy.

The rage of the honourable cannot be depicted: "My rifle!" he
vociferated, "my rifle! for God's sake, Betsey--Juliet, run for
my rifle!"

The judge then went into the house; but, as three pistols were drawn
from our holsters, neither he nor his rifle made their appearance, so we
turned our horses' heads and rode on leisurely to Austin.

In Austin we had a grand opportunity of seeing the Texans under their
true colours. There were three hotels in the town, and every evening,
after five o'clock, almost all of them, not excluding the president of
the republic, the secretaries, judges, ministers, and members of
Congress, were more or less tipsy, and in the quarrels which ensued
hardly a night passed without four or five men being stabbed or shot,
and the riot was continued during the major portion of the night, so
that at nine o'clock in the morning everybody was still in bed. So
buried in silence was the town, that one morning at eight o'clock, I
killed a fine buck grazing quietly before the door of the Capitol. It is
strange that this capital of Texas should have been erected upon the
very northern boundary of the state. Indians have often entered it and
taken scalps not ten steps from the Capitol.

While we were in Austin we made the acquaintance of old Castro, the
chief of the Lepan Indians, an offset of the Comanche tribe. He is one
of the best-bred gentlemen in the world, having received a liberal and
military education, first in Mexico, and subsequently in Spain. He has
travelled in France, Germany, England, and, in fact, all over Europe. He
speaks and writes five or six languages, and so conscious is he of his
superiority over the Texans, that he never addresses them but with
contempt. He once said to them in the legislature-room of Matagorda--

"Never deceive yourselves, Texans. I fight with you against the
Mexicans, because betwixt them and me there is an irreconcilable hatred.
Do not then flatter yourselves that it is through friendship towards
you. I can give my friendship only to those who are honourable both in
peace and in war; you are all of you liars, and many of you thieves,
scoundrels, and base murderers. Yes, dogs, I say true; yelp not, bark
not, for you know you dare not bite, now that my two hundred warriors
are surrounding this building: be silent, I say."

Castro was going in the same direction as ourselves to join his band,
which was at that moment buffalo-hunting, a few journeys northward. He
had promised his company and protection to two foreign gentlemen, who
were desirous of beholding the huge tenant of the prairies. We all
started together, and we enjoyed very much this addition to our company.

The first day we travelled over an old Spanish military road, crossing
rich rolling prairies, here and there watered by clear streams, the
banks of which are sheltered by magnificent oaks. Fifteen miles from
Austin there is a remarkable spot, upon which a visionary speculator had
a short time before attempted to found a city. He purchased an immense
tract of ground, had beautiful plans drawn and painted, and very soon
there appeared, upon paper, one of the largest and handsomest cities in
the world. There were colleges and public squares, penitentiaries,
banks, taverns, whisky-shops, and fine walks. I hardly need say, that
this town-manufacturer was a Yankee, who intended to realize a million
by selling town-lots. The city (in prospective) was called Athens, and
the silly fellow had so much confidence in his own speculation, that he
actually built upon the ground a very large and expensive house. One
day, as he, with three or four negroes, were occupied in digging a well,
he was attacked by a party of Yankee thieves, who thought he had a great
deal of money. The poor devil ran away from his beloved city and
returned no more. The house stands as it was left. I even saw near the
well the spades and pickaxes with which they had been working at the
time of the attack. Thus modern Athens was cut off in the bud, which was
a great pity, as a few Athenian sages and legislators are sadly
wanted in Texas.

Early one morning we were awakened by loud roars in the prairie. Castro
started on his feet, and soon gave the welcome news, "The Buffaloes." On
the plain were hundreds of dark moving spots, which increased in size as
we came nearer; and before long we could clearly see the shaggy brutes
galloping across the prairie, and extending their dark, compact
phalanxes even to the line of the horizon. Then followed a scene of
excitement The buffaloes, scared by the continual reports of our rifles,
broke their ranks and scattered themselves in every direction.

The two foreigners were both British, the youngest being a young
Irishman of a good family, and of the name of Fitzgerald. We had been
quite captivated by his constant good humour and vivacity of spirits; he
was the life of our little evening encampments, and, as he had travelled
on the other side of the Pacific, we would remain till late at night
listening to his interesting and beautiful narratives of his adventures
in Asiatic countries.

He had at first joined the English legion in Spain, in which he had
advanced to the rank of captain; he soon got tired of that service and
went to Persia, where he entered into the Shah's employ as an officer of
artillery. This after some time not suiting his fancy, he returned to
England, and decided upon visiting Texas, and establishing himself as a
merchant at San Antonio. But his taste for a wandering life would not
allow him to remain quiet for any length of time, and having one day
fallen in with an English naturalist, who had come out on purpose to
visit the north-west prairies of Texas, he resolved to accompany him.

Always ready for any adventure, Fitz. rushed madly among the buffaloes.
He was mounted upon a wild horse of the small breed, loaded with
saddlebags, water calabashes, tin and coffee-cups, blankets, &c.; but
these encumbrances did not stop him in the least. With his bridle
fastened to the pommel of his saddle and a pistol in each hand, he shot
to the right and left, stopping now and then to reload and then starting
anew. During the hunt he lost his hat, his saddlebags, with linen and
money, and his blankets: as he never took the trouble to pick them up,
they are probably yet in the prairie where they were dropped.

The other stranger was an English savant, one of the queerest fellows in
the world. He wished also to take his share in the buffalo-hunt, but his
steed was a lazy and peaceable animal, a true nag for a fat abbot,
having a horror of anything like trotting or galloping; and as he was
not to be persuaded out of his slow walk, he and his master remained at
a respectable distance from the scene of action. What an excellent
caricature might have been made of that good-humoured savant, as he sat
on his Rosinante, armed with an enormous doubled-barrelled gun, loaded
but not primed, some time, to no purpose, spurring the self-willed
animal, and then spying through an opera-glass at the majestic animals
which he could not approach.

We killed nine bulls and seven fat calves, and in the evening we
encamped near a little river, where we made an exquisite supper of
marrow and tongue, two good things, which can only be enjoyed in the
wild prairies. The next day, at sunset, we received a visit from an
immense herd of mustangs (wild horses). We saw them at first ascending
one of the swells of the prairie, and took them for hostile Indians; but
having satisfied their curiosity, the whole herd wheeled round with as
much regularity as a well-drilled squadron, and with their tails erect
and long manes floating to the wind, were soon out of sight.

Many strange stories have been related by trappers and hunters, of a
solitary white horse which has often been met with near the Cross
Timbers and the Red River. No one ever saw him trotting or galloping; he
only racks, but with such rapidity that no steed can follow him. Immense
sums of money have been offered to any who could catch him, and many
have attempted the task, but without success. The noble animal still
runs free in his native prairies, always alone and unapproachable.

We often met with the mountain goat, an animal which participates both
of the deer and the common goat, but whose flesh is far superior to
either. It is gracefully shaped--long-legged and very fleet. One of
them, whose fore-leg I had broken with a rifle-ball, escaped from our
fleetest horse (Castro's), after a chase of nearly thirty minutes. The
mountain goat is found on the great platforms of the Rocky Mountains,
and also at the broad waters of the rivers Brasos and Colorado. Though
of a very timid nature they are superlatively inquisitive, and can be
easily attracted within rifle-range by agitating, from behind a tree, a
white or red handkerchief.

We were also often visited, during the night, by rattlesnakes, who liked
amazingly the heat and softness of our blankets. They were unwelcome
customers, to be sure; but yet there were some others of which we were
still more in dread: among them I may class, as the ugliest and most
deadly, the prairie tarantula, a large spider, bigger than a good-sized
chicken egg, hairy, like a bear, with small blood-shot eyes and little
sharp teeth.

One evening, we encamped near a little spring, two miles from the
Brasos. Finding no wood to burn near to us, Fitzgerald started to fetch
some. As I have said, his was a small wild horse; he was imprudent
enough to tie to its tail a young tree, which he had cut down. The pony,
of course, got angry, and galloped furiously towards the camp,
surrounded by a cloud of dust. At this sight, the other horses began to
show signs of terror; but we were fortunate enough to secure them all
before it was too late, or we should have lost them for ever.

It is astonishing to witness in the prairies how powerfully fear will
act, not only upon the buffaloes and mustangs, but also upon tame horses
and cattle. Oxen will run farther than horses, and some of them have
been known, when under the influence of the estampede, or sudden fright,
to run forty miles without ever stopping, and when at last they halted,
it was merely because exhausted nature would not allow them to go
further. The Texan expedition, on its way to Santa Fé, once lost ninety
four horses by an estampede. I must say that nothing can exceed the
grandeur of the sight, when a numerous body of cattle are under its
influence. Old nags, broken by age and fatigue, who have been deserted
on account of their weakness, appear as wild and fresh as young colts.
As soon as they are seized with that inexplicable dread which forces
them to fly, they appear to regain in a moment all the powers of their
youth; with head and tail erect, and eyes glaring with fear, they rush
madly on in a straight line; the earth trembles under their feet;
nothing can stop them--trees, abysses, lakes, rivers, or mountains--they
go over all, until nature can support it no more, and the earth is
strewed with their bodies.

Even the otherwise imperturbable horse of our savant would sometimes
have an estampede after his own fashion; lazy and self-willed,
preferring a slow walk to any other kind of motion, this animal showed
in all his actions that he knew how to take care of number one, always
selecting his quarters where the water was cool and the grass tender.
But he had a very bad quality for a prairie travelling nag, which was
continually placing his master in some awkward dilemma. One day that we
had stopped to refresh ourselves near a spring, we removed the bridles
from our horses, to allow them to graze a few minutes, but the savant's
cursed beast took precisely that opportunity of giving us a sample of
his estampede. Our English friend had a way, quite peculiar to himself,
of crowding upon his horse all his scientific and culinary instruments.
He had suspended at the pommel of the saddle a thermometer, a rum
calabash, and a coffee-boiler, while behind the saddle hung a store of
pots and cups, frying-pan, a barometer, a sextant, and a long spy-glass.
The nag was grazing, when one of the instruments fell down, at which the
beast commenced kicking, to show his displeasure. The more he kicked,
the greater was the rattling of the cups and pans; the brute was now
quite terrified; we first secured our own steeds, and then watched the
singular and ridiculous movements of this estampedero.

He would make ten leaps, and then stop to give as many kicks, then shake
himself violently and start off full gallop. At every moment, some
article, mathematical or culinary, would get loose, fall down, and be
trampled upon. The sextant was kicked to pieces, the frying-pan and
spy-glass were put out of shape, the thermometer lost its mercury, and
at last, by dint of shaking, rolling, and kicking, the brute got rid of
his entire load and saddle, and then came quietly to us, apparently very
well satisfied with himself and with the damage he had done. It was a
most ludicrous scene, and defies all power of description; so much did
it amuse us, that we could not stop laughing for three or four hours.

The next day, we found many mineral springs, the waters of which were
strongly impregnated with sulphur and iron. We also passed by the bodies
of five white men, probably trappers, horribly mangled, and evidently
murdered by some Texan robbers. Towards evening, we crossed a large
fresh Indian trail, going in the direction of the river Brasos, and,
following it, we soon came up with the tribe of Lepans, of which old
Castro was the chief.



CHAPTER XXI.


The Lepans were themselves going northwards, and for a few days we
skirted, in company with them, the western borders of the Cross Timbers.
The immense prairies of Texas are for hundreds and hundreds of miles
bordered on the east by a belt of thick and almost impenetrable forests,
called the Cross Timbers. Their breadth varies from seventy to one
hundred miles. There the oak and hiccory grow tall and beautiful, but
the general appearance of the country is poor, broken, and rugged. These
forests abound with deer and bears, and sometimes the buffalo, when
hotly pursued by the Indians in the prairies, will take refuge in its
closest thickets. Most of the trees contain hives of bees full of a very
delicate honey, the great luxury of the pioneers along these borders.

We now took our leave of the Lepans and our two white friends, who would
fain have accompanied us to the Comanches had there been a chance of
returning to civilization through a safe road; as it was, Gabriel,
Roche, and I resumed our journey alone. During two or three days we
followed the edge of the wood, every attempt to penetrate into the
interior proving quite useless, so thick were the bushes and thorny
briers. Twice or thrice we perceived on some hills, at a great distance,
smoke and fires, but we could not tell what Indians might be
there encamped.

We had left the Timbers, and had scarcely advanced ten miles in a
westerly direction, when a dog of a most miserable appearance joined our
company. He was soon followed by two others as lean and as weak as
himself. They were evidently Indian dogs of the wolf breed, and
miserable, starved animals they looked, with the ribs almost bare, while
their tongues, parched and hanging downwards, showed clearly the want of
water in these horrible regions. We had ourselves been twenty-four hours
without having tasted any, and our horses were quite exhausted.

We were slowly descending the side of a swell in the prairie, when a
buffalo passed at full speed, ten yards before us, closely pursued by a
Tonquewa Indian (a ferocious tribe), mounted upon a small horse, whose
graceful form excited our admiration. This savage was armed with a long
lance, and covered with a cloak of deer-skin, richly ornamented, his
long black hair undulating with the breeze.

A second Indian soon followed the first, and they were evidently so much
excited with the chase as not to perceive us, although I addressed the
last one, who passed not ten yards from me. The next day we met with a
band of Wakoes Indians, another subdivision of the Comanches or of the
Apaches, and not yet seen or even mentioned by any traveller. They were
all mounted upon fine tall horses, evidently a short time before
purchased at the Mexican settlements, for some of them had their shoes
still on their feet. They immediately offered us food and water, and
gave us fresh steeds, for our own were quite broken down, and could
scarcely drag themselves along. We encamped with them that day on a
beautiful spot, where our poor animals recovered a little. We bled them
freely, an operation which probably saved them to share with us many
more toils and dangers.

The next day we arrived at the Wakoe village, pleasantly-situated upon
the banks of a cold and clear stream, which glided through a romantic
valley, studded here and there with trees just sufficient to vary the
landscape, without concealing its beauties. All around the village were
vast fields of Indian corn and melons; further off numerous herds of
cattle, sheep, and horses were grazing; while the women were busy drying
buffalo meat. In this hospitable village we remained ten days, by which
time we and our beasts had entirely recovered from our fatigues.

This tribe is certainly far superior in civilization and comforts to all
other tribes of Indians, the Shoshones not excepted. The Wakoe wigwams
are well built, forming long streets, admirable for their cleanness and
regularity. They are made of long posts, neatly squared, firmly fixed
into the ground, and covered over with tanned buffalo-hides, the roof
being formed of white straw, plaited much finer than the common summer
hats of Boston manufacture. These dwellings are of a conical form,
thirty feet in height and fifteen in diameter. Above the partition-walls
of the principal room are two rows of beds, neatly arranged, as on board
of packet-ships. The whole of their establishment, in fact, proves that
they not only live at ease, but also enjoy a high degree of comfort
and luxury.

Attached to every wigwam is another dwelling of less dimensions, the
lower part of which is used as a provision-store. Here is always to be
found a great quantity of pumpkins, melons, dried peaches, grapes, and
plums, cured vension, and buffalo tongues. Round the store is a kind of
balcony, leading to a small room above it. What it contained I know not,
though I suspect it is consecrated to the rites of the Wakoe religion.
Kind and hospitable as they were, they refused three or four times to
let us penetrate in this sanctum sanctorum, and of course we would not
press them further.

The Wakoes, or, to say better, their villages, are unknown, except to a
few trappers and hunters, who will never betray the kind hospitality
they have received by showing the road to them. There quiet and
happiness have reigned undisturbed for many centuries. The hunters and
warriors themselves will often wander in the distant settlements of the
Yankees and Mexicans to procure seeds, for they are very partial to
gardening; they cultivate tobacco; in fact, they are, I believe, the
only Indians who seriously occupy themselves with agriculture, which
occupation does not prevent them from being a powerful and
warlike people.

As well as the Apaches and the Comanches, the Wakoes are always on
horseback; they are much taller and possess more bodily strength than
either of these two nations, whom they also surpass in ingenuity. A few
years ago, three hundred Texans, under the command of General Smith, met
an equal party of the Wakoes hunting to the east of the Cross Timbers.
As these last had many fine horses and an immense provision of hides
and cured meat, the Texans thought that nothing could be more easy than
routing the Indians and stealing their booty. They were, however, sadly
mistaken; when they made their attack, they were almost all cut to
pieces, and the unburied bones of two hundred and forty Texans remain
blanching in the prairie, as a monument of their own rascality and the
prowess of the Wakoes.

Comfortable and well treated as we were by that kind people, we could
not remain longer with them; so we continued our toilsome and solitary
journey. The first day was extremely damp and foggy; a pack of sneaking
wolves were howling about, within a few yards of us, but the sun came
out about eight o'clock, dispersing the fog and also the wolves.

We still continued our former course, and found an excellent road for
fifteen miles, when we entered a singular tract of land, unlike anything
we had ever before seen. North and south, as far as the eye could reach,
nothing could be seen but a sandy plain, covered with dwarf oaks two and
three feet high, and bearing innumerable acorns of a large size. This
desert, although our horses sank to the very knee in the sand, we were
obliged to cross; night came on before the passage was effected, and we
were quite tired with the fatigues of the day. We were, however,
fortunate enough to find a cool and pure stream of running water, on the
opposite side of which the prairie had been recently burnt, and the
fresh grass was just springing up; here we encamped.

We started the next morning, and ascended a high ridge, we were in great
spirits, little anticipating the horrible tragedy in which we should
soon have to play our parts. The country before us was extremely rough
and broken: we pushed on, however, buffeting, turning, and twisting
about until nearly dark, crossing and recrossing deep gullies, our
progress in one direction impeded by steep hills, and in another by,
yawning ravines, until, finally, we encamped at night not fifteen miles
from where we had started in the morning. During the day, we had found
large plum patches, and had picked a great quantity of this fruit, which
we found sweet and refreshing after our toil.

On the following morning, after winding about until noon among the
hills, we at length reached a beautiful table-land, covered with
musqueet trees. So suddenly did we leave behind us the rough and uneven
tract of country and enter a level valley, and so instantaneous was the
transition, that the change of scenery in a theatre was brought forcibly
to our minds; it was turning from the bold and wild scenery of Salvator
Rosa to dwell upon the smiling landscape of a Poussin or Claude Lorrain.

On starting in the morning, nothing was to be seen but a rough and
rugged succession of hills before us, piled one upon another, each
succeeding hill rising above its neighbour. At the summit of the highest
of these hills, the beautiful and fertile plain came suddenly to view,
and we were immediately upon it, without one of us anticipating anything
of the kind. The country between the Cross Timbers and the Rocky
Mountains rises by steps, if I may so call them. The traveller
journeying west meets, every fifty or sixty miles, with a ridge of high
hills; as he ascends these, he anticipates a corresponding descent upon
the opposite side, but in most instances, on reaching this summit, he
finds before him a level and fertile prairie. This is certainly the case
south of the Red River, whatever it may be to the northward of it.

We halted an hour or two on reaching this beautiful table-land, to rest
ourselves and give our horses an opportunity to graze. Little villages
of prairie dogs were scattered here and there, and we killed half a
dozen of them for our evening meal. The fat of these animals, I have
forgotten to say, is asserted to be an infallible remedy for the
rheumatism.

In the evening, we again started, and encamped, an hour after sun-down,
upon the banks of a clear running stream. We had, during the last part
of our journey, discovered the tops of three or four high mountains in
the distance; we knew them to be "The Crows," by the description of them
given to us by the Wakoes.

Early the next morning we were awakened by the warbling of innumerable
singing birds, perched among the bushes along the borders of the stream.
Pleasing as was the concert, we were obliged to leave it behind and
pursue our weary march. Throughout the day we had an excellent road, and
when night came we had travelled about thirty-five miles. The mountains,
the summits of which we had perceived the evening before were now
plainly visible, and answered to the descriptions of the Wakoes as those
in the neighbourhood of the narrows of the Red River.

We now considered that we were near the end of our journey. That night
we swallowed a very scanty supper, lay down to sleep, and dreamed of
beaver-tail and buffalo-hump and tongues. The next day, at noon, we
crossed the bed of a stream, which was evidently a large river during
the rainy season. At that time but little water was found in it, and
that so salt, it was impossible even for our horses to drink it.

Towards night, we came to the banks of a clear stream, the waters of
which were bubbling along, over a bed of golden sand, running nearly
north and south, while at a distance of some six miles, and to our left,
was the chain of hills I had previously mentioned; rising above the rest
were three peaks, which really deserved the name of mountains. We
crossed the stream, and encamped on the other side. Scarcely had we
unsaddled our horses, when we perceived coming towards us a large party
of savages, whose war-paint, with the bleeding scalps hanging to their
belts, plainly showed the errand from which they were returning. They
encamped on the other side of the stream, within a quarter of a
mile from us.

That night we passed watching, shivering, and fasting, for we dared not
light a fire in the immediate vicinity of our neighbours, whom we could
hear singing and rejoicing. The next morning, long before dawn, we stole
away quietly, and trotted briskly till noon, when we encountered a deep
and almost impassable ravine. There we were obliged to halt, and pass
the remainder of the day endeavouring to discover a passage. This
occupied us till nightfall, and we had nothing to eat but plums and
berries. Melancholy were our thoughts when we reflected upon the
difficulties we might shortly have to encounter, and gloomy were our
forebodings as we wrapt ourselves in our blankets, half starved, and
oppressed with feelings of uncertainty as to our present position and
our future destinies.

The night passed without alarm; but the next morning we were sickened by
a horrible scene which was passing about half a mile from us. A party of
the same Indians whom we had seen the evening before were butchering
some of their captives, while several others were busy cooking the
flesh, and many were eating it. We were rooted to the spot by a thrill
of horror we could not overcome; even our horses seemed to know by
instinct that something horrible was acting below, for they snuffed the
air, and with their ears pointed straight forward, trembled so as to
satisfy us that for the present we could not avail ourselves of their
services. Gabriel crept as near as he could to the party, leaving us to
await his return in a terrible state of suspense and anxiety. When he
rejoined us, it appeared our sight had not deceived us. There were nine
more prisoners, who would probably undergo the same fate on the
following day; four, he said, were Comanches, the other five Mexican
females,--two young girls and three women.

The savages had undoubtedly made an inroad upon San Miguel or Taos, the
two most northern settlements of the Mexicans, not far from the Green
Mountains, where we were ourselves going. What could we do? We could not
fight the cannibals, who were at least one hundred in number, and yet we
could not go away, and leave men and women of our own colour to a
horrible death, and a tomb in the stomach of these savages. The idea
could not be borne, so we determined to remain and trust to chance or
Providence. After their abominable meal, the savages scattered about the
prairie in every direction, but not breaking up their camp, where they
left their prisoners, under the charge of twelve of their
young warriors.

Many plans did we propose for the rescue of the poor prisoners, but they
were all too wild for execution; at last chance favoured us, although we
did not entirely succeed in our enterprise. Three or four deer galloped
across the prairie, and passed not fifty yards from the camp. A fine
buck came in our direction, and two of the Indians who were left in
charge started after him. They rushed in among us, and stood motionless
with astonishment at finding neighbours they had not reckoned upon. We,
however, gave them no time to recover from their surprise, our knives
and tomahawks performed quickly and silently the work of death, and
little remorse did we feel, after the scene we had witnessed in the
morning. We would have killed, if possible, the whole band, as they
slept, without any more compunction than we would have destroyed a nest
of rattlesnakes.

The deer were followed by a small herd of buffaloes. We had quickly
saddled and secured our horses to some shrubs, in case it should be
necessary to rim for our lives, when we perceived the ten remaining
Indians, having first examined and ascertained that their captives were
well bound, start on foot in chase of the herd of buffaloes; indeed
there were but about twenty horses in the whole band, and they had been
ridden away by the others. Three of these Indians we killed without
attracting the attention of the rest, and Gabriel, without being
discerned, gained the deserted encampment, and severed the thongs which
bound the prisoners.

The Mexican women refused to fly; they were afraid of being captured and
tortured; they thought they would be spared, and taken to the wigwams of
the savages, who, we then learned, belonged to the tribe of the Cayugas.
They told us that thirteen Indian prisoners had already been eaten, but
no white people. The Comanche prisoners armed themselves with the
lances, bows, and arrows left in the camp, and in an hour after the
passage of the buffaloes, but two of the twelve Indians were alive;
these, giving the war-whoop to recall their party, at last discovered
that their comrades had been killed.

At that moment the prairie became animated with buffaloes and hunters;
the Cayugas on horseback were coming back, driving another herd before
them. No time was to be lost if we wished to save our scalps; we gave
one of our knives (so necessary an article in the wilderness) to the
Comanches, who expressed what they felt in glowing terms, and we left
them to their own cunning and knowledge of the localities, to make their
escape. We had not overrated their abilities, for some few days
afterwards we met them safe and sound in their own wigwams.

We galloped as fast as our horses could go for fifteen miles, along the
ravine which had impeded our journey during the preceding day, when we
fell in with a small creek. There we and our horses drank incredible
quantities of water, and as our position was not yet very safe, we again
resumed our march at a brisk trot. We travelled three or four more miles
along the foot of a high ridge, and discovered what seemed to be an
Indian trail, leading in a zigzag course up the side of it. This we
followed, and soon found ourselves on the summit of the ridge. There we
were again gratified at finding spread out before us a perfectly level
prairie, extending as far as the eye could reach, without a tree to
break the monotony of the scene.

We halted a few minutes to rest our horses, and for some time watched
what was passing in the valley we had left, now lying a thousand feet
below us. All we could perceive at the distance which we were, was that
all was in motion, and we thought that our best plan was to leave as
much space between us and the Cayugas as possible. We had but little
time to converse with the liberated Comanches, yet we gained from them
that we were in the right direction, and were not many days from our
destination.

At the moment we were mounting our horses, all was quiet again in the
valley below. It was a lovely panorama, and, viewing it from the point
where we stood, we could hardly believe that, some hours previous, such
a horrible tragedy had been there peformed. Softened down by the
distance, there was a tranquillity about it which appeared as if it
never had been broken. The deep brown skirting of bushes, on the sides
of the different water-courses, broke and varied the otherwise vast
extent of vivid green. The waters of the river, now reduced to a silver
thread, were occasionally brought to view by some turn in the stream,
and again lost to sight under the rich foliage on the banks.

We continued our journey, and towards evening we descried a large bear
within a mile of us, and Roche started in chase. Having gained the other
side of the animal, he drove it directly towards me. Cocking a pistol, I
rode a short distance in front, to meet him, and while in the act of
taking deliberate aim at the bear, then not more than eight yards from
me, I was surprised to see him turn a somerset and commence kicking with
his hind legs. Unseen by me, Gabriel had crept up close on the opposite
side of my horse, and had noosed the animal with his lasso, just as I
was pulling the trigger of my pistol; Bruin soon disengaged himself from
the lasso, and made towards Roche, who brought him down with a single
shot below the ear.

Gabriel and I then went on ahead, to select a place for passing the
night, leaving our friend behind to cut up the meat; but we had not gone
half a mile, when our progress was suddenly checked by a yawning abyss,
or chasm, some two hundred yards across, and probably six hundred feet
in depth. The banks, at this place, were nearly perpendicular, and from
the sides projected sharp rocks, and, now and then, tall majestic
cedars. We travelled a mile or more along the banks, but perceiving it
was too late to find a passage across, we encamped in a little hollow
under a cluster of cedars. There we were soon joined by Roche, and we
were indebted to Bruin for an excellent repast.

The immense chasm before us ran nearly north and south, and we perceived
that the current of the stream, or rather torrent, below us, ran towards
the former point. The next morning, we determined to direct our steps to
the northward, and we had gone but a few miles before large buffalo or
Indian trails were seen running in a south-west direction, and as we
travelled on, others were noticed bearing more to the west. Obliged to
keep out some distance from the ravine, to avoid the small gullies
emptying into it and the various elbows which it made, about noon we
struck upon a large trail, running directly west; this we followed, and
on reaching the main chasm, found that it led to the only place where
there was any chance of crossing. Here, too, we found that innumerable
trails joined, coming from every direction--proof conclusive that we
must cross here or travel many weary miles out of our way.

Dismounting from our animals, we looked at the yawning abyss before us,
and our first impression was, that the passage was impracticable. That
buffaloes, mustangs, and, very probably, Indian horses, had crossed
here, was evident enough, for a zigzag path had been worn down the rocky
and precipitous sides; but our three horses were unused to sliding down
or climbing precipices, and they drew back on being led to the brink of
the chasm.

After many unsuccessful attempts, I at last persuaded my steed to take
the path; the others followed. In some places they went along the very
verge of rocky edges, where a false step would have precipitated them
hundreds of feet down, to instant death; in others, they were compelled
to slide down passes nearly perpendicular. Gabriel's horse was much
bruised, but after an hour's severe toil, we gained the bottom, without
sustaining any serious injury.

Here we remained a couple of hours, to rest our weary animals and find
the trail leading up the opposite side. This we discovered, and, after
great exertions, succeeded in clambering up to the top, where we again
found ourselves upon a smooth and level prairie. On looking backs I
shuddered to behold the frightful chasm we had so successfully passed,
and thought it a miracle that we had got safely across; but a very short
time afterwards, I was convinced that the feat we had just accomplished
was a mere nothing.

After giving our animals another rest, we resumed our journey across the
dreary prairie. Not a tree or bush could be seen in any direction. A
green carpeting of short grass was spread over the vast scene, with
naught else to relieve the sight.

People may talk of the solitude of forests as much as they please, but
there is a company in trees which one misses upon the prairie. It is in
the prairie, with its ocean-like waving of grass, like a vast sea
without landmarks, that the traveller feels a sickly sensation of
loneliness. There he feels as if not in the world, although not out of
it; there he finds no sign or trace to tell him that there are, beyond
or behind him, countries where millions of his own kindred are living
and moving. It is in the prairie that man really feels that he
is--alone.

We rode briskly along till sun-down, and encamped by the side of a small
water-hole, formed by a hollow in the prairie. The mustangs, as well as
the deer and antelopes, had left this part of the prairie, driven out,
doubtless, by the scarcity of water. Had it not been for occasional
showers, while travelling through this dreary waste, we should most
inevitably have perished, for even the immense chasms had no water in
them, except that temporarily supplied by the rains.



CHAPTER XXII.


The morning broke bright and cloudless, the sun rising from the horizon
in all his majesty. Having saddled our horses, we pursued our journey in
a north-east direction; but we had scarcely proceeded six miles before
we suddenly came upon an immense rent or chasm in the earth, far
exceeding in depth the one we had so much difficulty in crossing the day
before. We were not aware of its existence until we were immediately
upon its brink, when a spectacle exceeding in grandeur anything we had
previously witnessed burst upon our sight Not a tree or bush, no outline
whatever, marked its position or course, and we were lost in amazement
and wonder as we rode up and peered into the yawning abyss.

In depth it could not have been less than one thousand feet, in width
from three to five hundred yards, and at the point where we first struck
it, its sides were nearly perpendicular. A sickly sensation of dizziness
was felt by all three of us, as we looked down, as it were, into the
very bowels of the earth. Below, an occasional spot of green relieved
the eye, and a stream of water, now visible, now concealed behind some
huge rock, was bubbling and foaming along. Immense walls, columns, and,
in some places, what appeared to be arches, filled the ravine, worn by
the water undoubtedly, but so perfect in form, that we could with
difficulty be brought to believe that the hand of men or genii had not
been employed in raising them. The rains of centuries, failing upon the
extended prairie, had here found a reservoir and vent, and their sapping
and undermining of the different veins of earth and stone had formed
these strange and fanciful shapes.

Before reaching the chasm, we had crossed numerous large trails leading
a little more to the westward than we had been travelling, and we were
at once convinced that they all centred in a common crossing close at
hand. In this conjecture we were not disappointed; half-an-hour's
trotting brought us into a large road, the thoroughfare for years of
millions of Indians, buffaloes, and mustangs. Perilous as the descent
appeared, we well knew there was no other near. My horse was again
started ahead while the two others followed. Once in the narrow path,
which led circuitously down the deep descent, there was no possibility
of turning back, and our maddened animals finally reached the bottom
in safety.

Several large stones were loosened from under our feet during this
frightful descent. They would leap, dash, and thunder down the
precipitous sides, and strike against the bottom far below us with a
terrific crash.

We found a running stream at the bottom, and on the opposite side of it
a romantic dell covered with short grass and a few scattered cotton-wood
trees. A large body of Indians had encamped on this very spot but a few
days previous; the _blazed_ limbs of the trees and other "signs" showing
that they had made it a resting-place. We, too, halted a couple of hours
to give our horses an opportunity to graze and rest themselves, The
trail which led up to the prairie on the opposite side was discovered a
short distance above us to the south.

As we journeyed along this chasm, we were struck with admiration at the
strange and fanciful figures made by the washing of the waters during
the rainy season. In some places, perfect walls, formed of a reddish
clay, were to be seen standing; in any other locality it would have been
impossible to believe but that they had been raised by the hand of man.
The strata of which these walls were composed was regular in width,
hard, and running perpendicularly; and where the softer sand which had
surrounded them had been washed away, the strata still remained,
standing in some places one hundred feet high, and three or four hundred
in length.

Here and there were columns, and such was their architectural
regularity, and so much of chaste grandeur was there about them, that we
were lost in admiration and wonder. In other places the breastworks of
forts would be plainly visible, then again the frowning turrets of some
castle of the olden time. Cumbrous pillars, apparently ruins of some
mighty pile, formerly raised to religion or royalty, were scattered
about; regularity and perfect design were strangely mixed up with ruin
and disorder, and nature had done it all. Niagara has been considered
one of her wildest freaks; but Niagara falls into insignificance when
compared with the wild grandeur of this awful chasm. Imagination carried
me back to Thebes, to Palmyra, and the Edomite Paetra, and I could not
help imagining that I was wandering among their ruins.

Our passage out of this chasm was effected with the greatest difficulty.
We were obliged to carry our rifles and saddle-bags in our hands, and,
in clambering up a steep precipice, Roche's horse, striking his shoulder
against a projecting rock, was precipitated some fifteen or twenty feet,
falling upon his back. We thought he must be killed by the fall; but,
singular enough, he rose immediately, shook himself, and a second effort
in climbing proved more successful. The animal had not received the
slightest apparent injury.

Before evening we were safely over, having spent five or six hours in
passing this chasm. Once more we found ourselves upon the level of the
prairie, and after proceeding some hundred yards, on looking back, not a
sign of the immense fissure was visible. The waste we were then
travelling over was at least two hundred and fifty miles in width, and
the two chasms I have mentioned were the reservoirs, and at the same
time the channels of escape for the heavy rains which fall upon it
during the wet season.

This prairie is undoubtedly one of the largest in the world, and the
chasm is in perfect keeping with the size of the prairie. At sundown we
came upon a water-hole, and encamped for the night By this time we were
entirely out of provisions, and our sufferings commenced.

The next day we resumed our journey, now severely feeling the cravings
of hunger. During our journey we saw small herds of deer and antelopes,
doubtless enticed to the water courses by the recent rains, and towards
night we descried a drove of mustangs upon a swell of the prairie half a
mile ahead of us. They were all extremely shy, and although we
discharged our rifles at them, not a shot was successful. In the evening
we encamped near a water-hole, overspreading an area of some twenty
acres, but very shallow. Large flocks of Spanish curlews, one of the
best-flavoured birds that fly, were hovering about, and lighting on it
on all sides. Had I been in possession of a double-barrelled gun, with
small shot, we could have had at least one good meal; but as I had but a
heavy rifle and my bow and arrows, we were obliged to go to sleep
supperless.

About two o'clock the next morning we saddled and resumed our travel,
journeying by the stars, still in a north-east direction. On leaving the
Wakoes, we thought that we could be not more than one hundred miles from
the Comanche encampment. We had now ridden much more than that distance,
and were still on the immense prairie. To relieve ourselves from the
horrible suspense we were in--to push forward, with the hope of
procuring some provisions--to get somewhere, in short, was now our
object, and we pressed onward, with the hope of finding relief.

Our horses had, as yet, suffered less than ourselves, for the grazing in
the prairie had been good; but our now hurried march, and the difficult
crossing of the immense chasms, began to tell upon them. At sunrise we
halted near a small pond of water, to rest the animals and allow them an
hour to feed.

While stretched upon the ground, we perceived a large antelope slowly
approaching--now stopping, now walking a few steps nearer, evidently
inquisitive as to who, or rather what, we might be. His curiosity cost
him his life: with a well-directed shot, Gabriel brought him down, and
none but a starved man could appreciate our delight. We cooked the best
part of the animal, made a plentiful dinner, and resumed our journey.

For three days more, the same dreary spectacle of a boundless prairie
was still before us. Not a sign was visible that we were bearing its
edge. We journeyed rapidly on till near the middle of the afternoon of
the third day, when we noticed a dark spot a mile and a half ahead of
us. At first we thought it to be a low bush, but as we gradually neared
it, it had more the appearance of a rock, although nothing of the kind
had been seen from the time we first came on the prairie, with the
exception of those at the chasms.

"A buffalo" cried Roche, whose keen eye at last penetrated the mystery:
"a buffalo, lying down and asleep." Here, then, was another chance for
making a good meal, and we felt our courage invigorated. Gabriel went
ahead on foot, with his rifle, in the hope that he should at least get
near enough to wound the animal, while Roche and I made every
preparation for the chase. Disencumbering our horses of every pound of
superfluous weight, we started for the sport, rendered doubly exciting
by the memory of our recent suffering from starvation.

For a mile beyond where the buffalo lay, the prairie rose gradually, and
we knew nothing of the nature of the ground beyond. Gabriel crept till
within a hundred and fifty yards of the animal, which _now_ began to
move and show signs of uneasiness. Gabriel gave him a shot: evidently
hit, he rose from the ground, whisked his long tail, and looked for a
moment inquiringly about him. I still kept my position a few hundred
yards from Gabriel, who reloaded his piece. Another shot followed: the
buffalo again lashed his sides, and then started off at a rapid gallop,
directly towards the sun, evidently wounded, but not seriously hurt.

Roche and I started In pursuit, keeping close together, until we had
nearly reached the top of the distant rise in the prairie. Here my
horse, being of a superior mettle, passed that of Roche, and, on
reaching the summit, I found the buffalo still galloping rapidly, at a
quarter of a mile's distance. The descent of the prairie was very
gradual, and I could plainly see every object within five miles. I now
applied the spurs to my horse, who dashed madly down the declivity.
Giving one look behind, I saw that Roche, or at least his horse, had
entirely given up the chase. The prairie was comparatively smooth, and
although I dared not to spur my horse to his full speed, I was soon
alongside of the huge animal. It was a bull of the largest size, and his
bright, glaring eyeballs, peering out from his shaggy frontlet of hair,
showed plainly that he was maddened by his wounds and the hot pursuit.

It was with the greatest difficulty, so fierce did the buffalo look,
that I could get my horse within twenty yards of him, and when I fired
one of my pistols at that distance, my ball did not take effect. As the
chase progressed, my horse came to his work more kindly, and soon
appeared to take a great interest in the exciting race. I let him fall
back a little, and then, by dashing the spurs deep into his sides,
brought him up directly alongside, and within three or four yards of the
infuriated beast.

I fired my other pistol, and the buffalo shrank as the ball struck just
behind the long hair on his shoulders. I was under such headway when I
fired, that I was obliged to pass the animal, cutting across close to
his head, and then again dropping behind. At that moment I lost my
rifle, and I had nothing left but my bow and arrows; but by this time I
had become so much excited by the chase, that I could not think of
giving it up. Still at full speed, I strung my bow, once more put my
spurs to my horse, he flew by the buffalo's right side, and I buried my
arrow deep into his ribs.

The animal was now frothing and foaming with rage and pain. His eyes
were like two deep red balls of fire, his tongue was out and curling
upwards, his long tufted tail curled on high, or lashing madly against
his sides. A more wild, and at the same time a more magnificent picture
of desperation I had never witnessed.

By this time my horse was completely subjected to my guidance. He no
longer pricked his ears with fear, or sheered off as I approached the
monster, but, on the contrary, ran directly up, so that I could almost
touch the animal while bending my bow. I had five or six more arrows
left, but I resolved not to shoot again unless I were certain of
touching a vital part, and succeeded at last in hitting him deep betwixt
the shoulder and the ribs.

This wound caused the maddened beast to spring backwards, and I dashed
past him as he vainly endeavoured to gore and overthrow my horse. The
chase was now over, the buffalo stopped and soon rolled on the ground
perfectly helpless. I had just finished him with two other arrows, when,
for the first time, I perceived that I was no longer alone. Thirty or
forty well-mounted Indians were quietly looking at me in an approving
manner, as if congratulating me on my success. They were the Comanches
we had been so long seeking for. I made myself known to them, and
claimed the hospitality which a year before had been offered to me by
their chief, "the white raven." They all surrounded me and welcomed me
in the most kind manner. Three of them started to fetch my rifle and to
join my companions, who were some eight or nine miles eastward, while I
followed my new friends to their encampment, which was but a few miles
distant. They had been buffalo hunting, and had just reached the top of
the swell when they perceived me and my victim. Of course, I and my two
friends were well received in the wigwam, though the chief was absent
upon an expedition, and when he returned a few days after, a great feast
was given, during which some of the young men sang a little impromptu
poem, on the subject of my recent chase.

The Comanches are a noble and most powerful nation. They have hundreds
of villages, between which they are wandering all the year round. They
are well armed, and always move in bodies of some hundreds, and even
thousands; all active and skilful horsemen, living principally by the
chase, and feeding occasionally, during their distant excursions, upon
the flesh of the mustang, which, after all, is a delightful food,
especially when fat and young. A great council of the whole tribe is
held once a year, besides which there are quarterly assemblies, where
all important matters are discussed. They have long been hostile to the
Mexicans, but are less so now; their hatred having been concentrated
upon the Yankees and Texans whom they consider as brigands. They do not
apply themselves to the culture of the ground as the Wakoes, yet they
own innumerable herds of horses, cattle, and sheep, which graze in the
northern prairies, and they are indubitably one of the wealthiest people
in the world. They have a great profusion of gold, which they obtain
from the neighbourhood of the San Seba hills, and work it themselves
into bracelets, armlets, diadems, as well as bits for their horses, and
ornaments to their saddles. Like all the Shoshones' tribe, they are most
elegant horsemen, and by dint of caresses and good treatment render the
animals so familiar and attached to them, that I have often seen some of
them following their masters like dogs, licking their hands and
shoulders. The Comanche young women are exquisitely clean, good-looking,
and but slightly bronzed; indeed the Spaniards of Andalusia and the
Calabrians are darker than they are. Their voice is soft, their motions
dignified and graceful: their eyes dark and flashing, when excited, but
otherwise mild, with a soft tinge of melancholy. The only fault to be
found in them is that they are inclined to be too stout, arising from
their not taking exercise.

The Comanches, like all the tribes of the Shoshone breed, are generous
and liberal to excess. You can take what you please from the
wigwam--horses, skins, rich furs, gold, anything, in fact, except their
arms and their females, whom they love fondly. Yet they are not jealous;
they are too conscious of their own superiority to fear anything, and
besides, they respect too much the weaker sex to harbour any injurious
suspicion.

It is a very remarkable fact, that all the tribes who claim any affinity
with the Shoshones, the Apaches, the Comanches, and the Pawnies Loups,
have always rejected with scorn any kind of spirits when offered to them
by the traders. They say that "Shoba-wapo" (the fire-water) is the
greatest enemy of the Indian race, and that the Yankees, too cowardly to
fight the Indians as men, have invented this terrible poison to destroy
them without danger.

"We hated once the Spaniards and the Watchinangoes (Mexicans)," they
say, "but they were honourable men compared with the thieves of Texas.
The few among the Spanish race who would fight, did so as warriors; and
they had laws among them which punished with death those who would give
or sell this poison to the Indians."

The consequence of this abstinence from spirits is, that these Western
nations improve and increase rapidly; while, on the contrary, the
Eastern tribes, in close contact with the Yankees, gradually disappear.
The Sioux, the Osage, the Winnebego, and other Eastern tribes, are very
cruel in disposition; they show no mercy, and consider every means fair,
however treacherous, to conquer an enemy. Not so with the Indians to the
west of the Rocky Mountains. They have a spirit of chivalry, which
prevents them taking any injurious advantage.

As I have before observed, an Indian will never fire his rifle upon an
enemy who is armed only with his lance, bow, and arrows; or if he does,
and kills him, he will not take his scalp, as it would constantly recall
to his mind that he had killed a defenceless foe. Private encounters
with their enemies, the Navahoes and Arrapahoes, are conducted as
tournaments in the days of yore. Two Indians will run full speed against
each other with their well-poised lance; on their shield, with equal
skill, they will receive the blow; then, turning round, they will salute
each other as a mark of esteem from one brave foe to another.

Such incidents happen daily, but they will not be believed by the
Europeans, who have the vanity of considering themselves alone as
possessing "le sentiment du chevalresque et du beau;" besides, they are
accustomed to read so many horrible accounts of massacres committed by
the savages, that the idea of a red skin is always associated in their
mind with the picture of burning stakes and slow torture. It is a
mistake, and a sad one; would to God that our highly civilized nations
of Europe had to answer for no more cruelties than those perpetrated by
the numerous gallant tribes of Western America.

I was present one day when a military party came from Fort Bent, on the
head of the Arkansa, to offer presents and make proposals of peace to
the Comanche council. The commander made a long speech, after which he
offered I don't know how many hundred gallons of whisky. One of the
ancient chiefs had not patience to hear any more, and he rose full of
indignation. His name was Auku-wonze-zee, that is to say, "he who is
superlatively old."

"Silence," he said; "speak no more, double-tongued Oposh-ton-ehoc
(Yankee). Why comest thou, false-hearted, to pour thy deceitful words
into the ears of my young men? You tell us you come for peace, and you
offered to us poison. Silence, Oposh-ton-ehoc, let me hear thee no more,
for I am an old man; and now that I have one foot in the happy grounds
of immortality, it pains me to think that I leave my people so near a
nation of liars. An errand of peace! Does the snake offer peace to the
squirrel when he kills him with the poison of his dreaded glance? does
an Indian say to the beaver, he comes to offer peace when he sets his
traps for him? No! a pale-faced Oposh-ton-ehoc? or a '_Kish emok
comho-anac_' (the beast that gets drunk and lies, the Texan), can alone
thus he to nature--but not a red-skin, nor even a girlish Wachinangoe,
nor a proud '_Shakanah_' (Englishman), nor a '_Mahamate kosh ehoj_'
(open-heart, open-handed Frenchman).

"Be silent, then, man with the tongue of a snake, the heart of a deer,
and the ill-will of a scorpion; be silent, for I and mine despise thee
and thine. Yet, fear not; thou mayest depart in peace, for a Comanche is
too noble not to respect a white flag, even when carried by a wolf or a
fox. Till sunset eat, but alone; smoke, but not in our calumets; repose
in two or three lodges, for we can burn them after pollution; and then
depart, and say to thy people, that the Comanche, having but one tongue
and one nature, can neither speak with nor understand an Oposh-ton-ehoc.

"Take back thy presents; my young men will have none of them, for they
can accept nothing except from a friend; and if thou look'st at their
feet, thou shalt see their mocassins, their leggings, even their
bridles, are braided with the hair of thy people, perhaps of thy
brothers. Take thy 'Shoba-wapo' (fire-water), and give it to drink to
thy warriors, that we may see them raving and tumbling like swine.
Silence, and away with thee. Our squaws will follow ye on your trail for
a mile, to burn even the grass ye have trampled upon near our village.
Away with you all, now and for ever! I have said!!!"

The American force was numerous and well armed, and a moment, a single
moment, deeply wounded by these bitter taunts, they looked as if they
would fight and die to resent the insult; but it was only a transient
feeling; for they had their orders, and they went away, scorned and
humiliated. Perhaps, too, an inward voice whispered to them that they
deserved their shame and humiliation; perhaps the contrast of their
conduct with that of the savages awakened in them some better feeling,
which had a long time remained dormant, and they were now disgusted with
themselves and their odious policy.

As it was, they departed in silence, and the last of their line had
vanished under the horizon before the Indians could smother the
indignation and resentment which the strangers had excited within their
hearts. Days, however, passed away, and with them the recollection of
the event. Afterwards, I chanced to meet, in the Arkansas, with the
Colonel who commanded. He was giving a very strange version of his
expedition; and as I heard facts so distorted, I could not help
repeating to myself the words of Auku-wonze-zee, "The Oposh-ton-ehoc is
a double-tongued liar!"



CHAPTER XXIII.


One morning, Roche, Gabriel, and myself were summoned to the great
council lodge; there we met with the four Comanches whom we had rescued
some days before, and it would be difficult to translate from their
glowing language their warm expressions of friendship and gratitude. We
learned from them, that before the return of the Cayugas from the
prairie they had concealed themselves in some crevices of the earth
until night, when they contrived to seize upon three of the horses, and
effect their escape. At the passage of the great chasm they had found
the old red sash of Roche, which they produced, asking at the same time
permission to keep it as a token from their Pale-face brothers. We shook
hands and exchanged pipes. How noble and warm is an Indian in
his feelings.

In the lodge we also perceived our friend of former days, "Opishka
Koaki" (the White Raven); but as he was about to address the assembly,
we restrained from renewing our acquaintance, and directed all our
attention to what was transacting. After the ordinary ceremonies,
Opishka Koaki commenced:--

"Warriors, I am glad you have so quickly understood my messages; but
when does a Comanche turn his back on receiving the vermilion from his
chief? Never! You know I called you for war, and you have come. 'Tis
well. Yet, though I am a chief, I am a man. I may mistake; I may now and
then strike a wrong path. I will do nothing, attempt nothing, without
knowing the thoughts of my brave warriors. Then hear me!

"There live under the sun a nation of Reds-kins, whose men are cowards,
never striking an enemy but when his back is turned, or when they number
a hundred to one. This nation crawls in the prairies about the great
chasms; they live upon carrion, and have no other horses but those they
can steal from the deer-hearted Watchinangoes. Do my warrior? know such
a people? Let them speak! I hear!"

At that moment a hundred voices shouted the name of Cayugas.

"I knew it!" exclaimed the chief, "there is but one such a people with a
red skin; my warriors are keen-sighted, they cannot be mistaken. Now, we
Comanches never take the scalp of a Cayuga any more than that of a
hedge-hog; we kick them out of our way when they cross our path; that's
all. Hear me, my braves, and believe me, though I will speak strange
words: these reptiles have thought that because we have not killed them
as toads and scorpions, it was because we were afraid of their poison.
One thousand Cayugas, among other prisoners, have taken eight Comanches;
they have eaten four of them, they would have eaten them all, but the
braves escaped; they are here. Now, is an impure Cayuga a fit tomb for
the body of a Comanche warrior? No! I read the answer in your burning
eyes. What then shall we do? Shall we chastise them and give their
carcases to the crows and wolves? What say my warriors; let them speak?
speak? I hear?"

All were silent, though it was evident that their feelings had been
violently agitated. At last, an old chief rose and addressed Opishka:--

"Great chief," said he, "why askest thou? Can a Comanche and warrior
think in any way but one? Look at them! See you not into their hearts?
Perceive you not how fast the blood runs into their veins? Why ask? I
say; thou knowest well their hearts' voice is but the echo of thine own.
Say but a word, say, 'Let us go the Cayugas!' Thy warriors will answer:
'We are ready, show us the path!' Chief of a mighty nation, thou hast
heard my voice, and in my voice are heard the thousand voices of thy
thousand warriors."

Opishka Koaki rose again. "I knew it, but I wanted to hear it, for it
does my heart good; it makes me proud to command so many brave warriors.
Then to-morrow we start, and we will hunt the Cayugas even to the
deepest of their burrows. I have said!"

Then the four rescued prisoners recounted how they had been taken, and
what sufferings they had undergone. They spoke of their unfortunate
companions and of their horrible fate, which they should have also
shared had it not been for the courage of the three Pale-face brothers,
who killed five Cayugas, and cut their bonds; they themselves killed
five more of their cowardly foes and escaped, but till to-day they had
had no occasion of telling to their tribe the bravery and generosity of
the three Pale-faces.

At this narrative all the warriors, young and old, looked as though they
were personally indebted to us, and would have come, one and all, to
shake our hands, had it not been for the inviolable rules of the council
lodge, which forbids any kind of disorder. It is probable that the scene
had been prepared beforehand by the excellent chief, who wished to
introduce us to his warriors under advantageous circumstances. He waved
his hand to claim attention, and spoke again.

"It is now twelve moons, it is more! I met Owato Wanisha and his two
brothers. He is a chief of the great Shoshones, who are our
grandfathers, far--far under the setting of the sun beyond the big
mountains. His two brothers are two great warriors from powerful nations
far in the east and beyond the Sioux, the Chippewas beyond the
'Oposh-ton-ehoc[20],' even beyond the deep salt-water. One is a
'Shakanah' (Englishman), the other a 'Naimewa' from the
'Maha-mate-kosh-ehoj' (an exile from the French). They are good and they
are brave: they have learned wisdom from the 'Macota Konayas' (priests),
and Owato Wanisha knows how to build strong forts, which he can better
defend than the Watchinangoes have defended theirs. I have invited him
and his brother to come and taste the buffalo of our prairies, to ride
our horses, and smoke the calumet of friendship. They have come, and
will remain with us till we ourselves go to the big stony river (the
Colorado of the West). They have come; they are our guests; the best we
can command is their own already; but they are chiefs and warriors. A
chief is a chief everywhere. We must treat them as chiefs, and let them
select a band of warriors for themselves to follow them till they go
away from us.

[Footnote 20: Americans.]

"You have heard what our scouts have said; they would have been eaten by
the Cayugas, had it not been for our guests, who have preserved not only
the lives of four men--that is nothing--but the honour of the tribe. I
need say no more; I know my young men; I know my warriors; I know they
will love the strangers as chiefs and brothers. I have said."

Having thus spoken, he walked slowly out of the lodge, which was
immediately deserted for the green lawn before the village. There we
were sumptuously entertained by all the principal chiefs and warriors of
the tribe, after which they conducted us to a new tent, which they had
erected for us in the middle of their principal square. There we found
also six magnificent horses, well caparisoned, tied to the posts of the
tent; they were the presents of the chiefs. At a few steps from the door
was an immense shield, suspended upon four posts, and on which a beaver,
the head of an eagle, and the claws of a bear were admirably
painted--the first totem for me, the second for Gabriel, and the third
for Roche. We gratefully thanked our hospitable hosts, and retired to
rest in our rich and elegant dwelling.

The next morning we awoke just in time to witness the ceremony of
departure; a war party, already on horseback, was waiting for their
chief. At the foot of our shield were one hundred lances, whose owners
belonged to the family and kindred of the Indians whom we had rescued
from the Cayugas. A few minutes afterwards, the owners of the weapons
appeared in the square, well mounted and armed, to place themselves at
our entire disposal. We could not put our authority to a better use than
by joining our friends in their expedition, so when the chief arrived,
surrounded by the elders of the tribe, Gabriel advanced towards him.

"Chief," he said, "and wise men of a brave nation, you have conferred
upon us a trust of which we are proud. To Owato Wanisha, perhaps, it was
due, for he is mighty in his tribe; but I and the Shakanah are no
chiefs. We will not decline your favour, but we must deserve it. The
young beaver will remain in the village, to learn the wisdom of your old
men, but the eagle and the bear must and will accompany you in your
expedition. You have given them brave warriors, who would scorn to
remain at home; we will follow you."

This proposition was received with flattering acclamations, and the
gallant army soon afterwards left the village on its mission of revenge.

The Cayugas were, before that expedition, a powerful tribe, about whom
little or nothing had ever been written or known. In their customs and
manners of living they resemble in every way the Club Indians of the
Colorado, who were destroyed by the small-pox. They led a wandering
prairie life, but generally were too cowardly to fight well, and too
inexpert in hunting to surround themselves with comforts, even in the
midst of plenty. Like the Clubs, they are cannibals, though, I suspect,
they would not eat a white man. They have but few horses, and these only
when they could be procured by stealth, for, almost always starving,
they could not afford to breed them, always eating the colts before they
could be useful.

Their grounds lie in the vicinity of the great fork of the Rio Puerco,
by lat. 35 degrees and long. 105 degrees from Greenwich. The whole
nation do not possess half-a-dozen of rifles, most all of them being
armed with clubs, bows, and arrows. Some old Comanches have assured me
that the Cayuga country abounds with fine gold.

While I was with the Comanches, waiting the return of the expedition, I
had an accident which nearly cost me my life. Having learned that there
were many fine basses to be fished in a stream some twenty miles off, I
started on horseback, with the view of passing the night there. I took
with me a buffalo-hide, a blanket, and a tin cup, and two hours before
sunset I arrived at the spot.

As the weather had been dry for some time, I could not pick any worms,
so I thought of killing some bird or other small animal, whose flesh
would answer for bait. Not falling in with any birds, I determined to
seek for a rabbit or a frog. To save time, I lighted a fire, put my
water to boil, spread my hide and blanket, arranged my saddle for a
pillow, and then went in search of bait, and sassafras to make tea with.

While looking for sassafras, I perceived a nest upon a small oak near to
the stream. I climbed to take the young ones, obtained two, which I put
in my round jacket, and looked about me to see where I should jump upon
the ground. After much turning about, I suspended myself by the hands
from a hanging branch, and allowed myself to drop down. My left foot
fell flat, but under the soft sole of my right mocassin I felt something
alive, heaving or rolling. At a glance, I perceived that my foot was on
the body of a large rattle-snake, with his head just forcing itself from
under my heel.

Thus taken by surprise, I stood motionless and with my heart throbbing.
The reptile worked itself free, and twisting round my leg, almost in a
second bit me two or three times. The sharp pain which I felt from the
fangs recalled me to consciousness, and though I felt convinced that I
was lost, I resolved that my destroyer should die also. With my
bowie-knife I cut its body into a hundred pieces; walked away very sad
and gloomy, and sat upon my blanket near the fire.

How rapid and tumultuous were my thoughts! To die so young, and such a
dog's death! My mind reverted to the happy scenes of my early youth,
when I had a mother, and played so merrily among the golden grapes of
sunny Frances and when later I wandered with my father in the Holy Land,
in Italy and Egypt. I also thought of the Shoshones, of Roche and
Gabriel, and I sighed. It was a moral agony; for the physical pain had
subsided, and my leg was almost benumbed by paralysis.

The sun went down, and the last carmine tinges of his departed glory
reminded me how soon my sun would set; then the big burning tears
smothered me, for I was young, very young, and I could not command the
courage and resignation to die such a horrible death. Had I been wounded
in the field, leading my brave Shoshones, and hallooing the war-whoop, I
would have cared very little about it; but thus, like a dog! It was
horrible! and I dropped my head upon my knees, thinking how few hours I
had now to live.

I was awakened from that absorbing torpor by my poor horse, who was busy
licking my ears. The faithful animal suspected something was wrong, for
usually at such a time I would sing Spanish ditties or some Indian
war-songs. Sunset was also the time when I brushed and patted him. The
intelligent brute knew that I suffered, and, in its own way, showed me
that it participated in my affliction. My water, too, was boiling on the
fire, and the bubbling of the water seemed to be a voice raised on
purpose to divert my gloomy thoughts. "Aye, boil, bubble, evaporate,"
exclaimed I; "what do I care for water or tea now?"

Scarcely had I finished these words, when, turning suddenly my head
round, my attention was attracted by an object before me, and a gleam of
hope irradiated my gloomy mind: close to my feet I beheld five or six
stems of the rattlesnake master weed. I well knew the plant, but I had
been incredulous as to its properties. Often had I heard the Indians
speaking of its virtues, but I had never believed them. "A drowning man
will seize at a floating straw." By a violent effort I got up on my
legs, went to fetch my knife, which I had left near the dead snake, and
I commenced digging for two or three of the roots, with all the energy
of despair.

These roots I cut into small slices, and threw them in the boiling
water. It soon produced a dark green decoction, which I swallowed; it
was evidently a powerful alkali, strongly impregnated with a flavour of
turpentine. I then cut my mocassin, for my foot was already swollen to
twice its ordinary size, bathed the wounds with a few drops of the
liquid, and, chewing some of the slices, I applied them as a poultice,
and tied them on with my scarf and handkerchief. I then put some more
water to boil, and, half an hour afterwards, having drank another pint
of the bitter decoction, I drew my blanket over me. In a minute or less
after the second draught, my brain whirled, and a strange dizziness
overtook me, which was followed by a powerful perspiration, and soon
afterwards all was blank.

The next morning I was awakened by my horse again licking me. He
wondered why I slept so late. I felt my head ache dreadfully, and I
perceived that the burning rays of the sun for the last two hours had
been darting upon my uncovered face. It was some time before I could
collect my thoughts, and make out where I was. At last the memory of the
dreadful incident of the previous evening broke upon my mind, and I
regretted I had not died during my unconsciousness; for I thought that
the weakness I felt was an effect of the poison, and that I should have
to undergo an awful lingering death. Yet all around me, nature was
smiling. Thousands of birds were singing their morning concert, and, at
a short distance, the low and soft murmuring of the stream reminded me
of my excessive thirst. Alas! well hath the Italian bard sung,--

             "Nessun maggior dolore
     Che riccordarsi del tempo felice
     Nella miseria!"--DANTE.

As I lay and reflected upon my utter helplessness, again my heart
swelled and my tears flowed freely. Thirst, however, gave me the courage
which the freshness and beauty of nature had not been able to inspire me
with. I thought of attempting to rise to fetch some water; but first I
slowly passed my hand down my thigh, to feel my knee. I thought the
inflammation would have rendered it as thick as my waist. My hand was
upon my knee, and so sudden was the shock that my heart ceased to beat.
Joy can be most painful; for I felt an acute pang through my breast, as
from a blow of a dagger. When I moved my finger across the cap of my
knee, it was quite free from inflammation, and perfectly sound. Again
there was a reaction. "Ay," thought I, "'tis all on the ankle. How can I
escape? Is not the poison a deadly one?" I dared not throw away the
blanket and investigate further. I felt weaker and weaker, and again
covered my head to sleep.

I did sleep, and when I awoke this time I felt myself a little
invigorated, though my lips and tongue were quite parched. I remembered
everything; down my hand slided; I could not reach my ankle, so I put up
my knee. I removed the scarf and the poultice of master weed. My
handkerchief was full of a dried, green, glutinous matter, and the
wounds looked clean. Joy gave me strength. I went to the stream, drank
plentifully, and washed. I still felt very feverish; and, although I was
safe from the immediate effects of the poison, I knew that I had yet to
suffer. Grateful to Heaven for my preservation, I saddled my faithful
companion, and, wrapping myself closely in my buffalo-hide, I set off to
the Comanche camp. My senses had left me before I arrived there. They
found me on the ground, and my horse standing by me.

Fifteen days afterwards I awoke to consciousness, a weak and emaciated
being. During this whole time I had been raving under a cerebral fever,
death hovering over me. It appears that I had received a coup-de-soleil,
in addition to my other mischances.

When I returned to consciousness, I was astonished to see Gabriel and
Roche by my side; the expedition had returned triumphant. The Cayugas'
villages had been burnt, almost all their warriors destroyed, and those
who remained had sought a shelter in the fissures of the earth, or in
the passes of the mountains unknown to any but themselves. Two of the
Mexican girls had also been rescued, but what had become of the others
they could not tell.

The kindness and cares of my friends, with the invigorating influence of
a beautiful clime, soon restored me to comparative health, but it was a
long time before I was strong enough to ride and resume my former
exercise. During that time Gabriel made frequent excursions to the
southern and even to the Mexican settlements, and on the return from his
last trip he brought up news which caused the Indians, for that year, to
forsake their hunting, and remain at home. General Lamar and his
associates had hit upon a plan not only treacherous, but in open
defiance of all the laws of nations. But what, indeed, could be expected
from a people who murdered their guests, invited by them, and under the
sanction of a white flag. I refer to the massacre of the Comanche chiefs
at San Antonio.

The President of Mexico, Bustamente, had a view to a cessation of
hostilities with Texas. The Texans had sent ambassadors to negotiate a
recognition and treaty of alliance and friendship with other nations;
they had despatched Hamilton to England to supplicate the cabinet of St.
James to lend its mighty influence towards the recognition of Texas by
Mexico; and while these negotiations were pending, and the peace with
Mexico still in force, Lamar, in defiance of all good faith and honour,
was secretly preparing an expedition, which, under the disguise of a
mercantile caravan, was intended to conquer Santa Fé and all the
northern Mexican provinces. This expedition of the Texans, as it would
pass through the territory of the Comanches, whose villages, &c., if
unprotected, would, in all probability, have been plundered, and their
women and children murdered, induced the Comanches to break up their
camp, and return home as speedily as possible.



CHAPTER XXIV.


During my convalescence, my tent, or I should say, the lawn before it,
became a kind of general divan, where the warriors and elders of the
tribe would assemble, to smoke and relate the strange stories of days
gone by. Some of them appeared to me particularly beautiful; I shall,
therefore, narrate them to the reader. One old chief began as follows:--

"I will tell ye of the Shkote-nah Pishkuan, or the boat of fire, when I
saw it for the first time. Since that, the grass has withered fifteen
times in the prairies, and I have grown weak and old. Then I was a
warrior, and many scalps have I taken on the eastern shores of the
Sabine. Then, also, the Pale-faces living in the prairies were good; we
fought them because we were enemies, but they never stole anything from
us, nor we from them.

"Well, at that time, we were once in the spring hunting the buffalo. The
Caddoes, who are now a small tribe of starved dogs, were then a large
powerful nation, extending from the Cross Timbers to the waters of the
great stream, in the East, but they were gamblers and drunkards; they
would sell all their furs for the; 'Shoba-wapo' (fire-water), and return
to their villages to poison their squaws, and make brutes of their
children. Soon they got nothing more to sell; and as they could not now
do without the 'Shoba-wapo,' they began to steal. They would steal the
horses and oxen of the Pale-faces, and say 'The Comanches did it.' When
they killed trappers or travellers, they would go to the fort of the
Yankees and say to them, 'Go to the wigwams of the Comanches, and you
will see the scalps of your friends hanging upon long poles.' But we did
not care for we knew it was not true.

"A long time passed away, when the evil spirit of the Cad does whispered
to them to come to the villages of the Comanches while they were
hunting, and to take away with them all that they could. They did so,
entering the war-path as foxes and owls, during night. When they
arrived, they found nothing but squaws, old women, and little children.
Yet these fought well, and many of the Caddoes were killed before they
abandoned their lodges. They soon found us out in the hunting-ground;
and our great chief ordered me to start with five hundred warriors, and
never return until the Caddoes should have no home, and wander like deer
and starved wolves in the open prairie.

"I followed the track. First, I burnt their great villages in the Cross
Timbers, and then pursued them in the swamps and cane-brakes of the
East, where they concealed themselves among the long lizards of the
water (the alligators). We, however, came up with them again, and they
crossed the Sabine, to take shelter among the Yankees, where they had
another village, which was their largest and their richest. We followed,
and on the very shores of their river, although a thousand miles from
our own country, and where the waters are dyed with the red clay of the
soil, we encamped round their wigwams and prepared to conquer.

"It was at the gloomy season, when it rains night and day; the river was
high, the earth damp, and our young braves shivering, even under their
blankets. It was evening, when, far to the south, above one of the
windings of the stream, I saw a thick black smoke rising as a tall pine
among the clouds, and I watched it closely. It came towards us; and as
the sky darkened and night came on, sparks of fire showed the progress
of the strange sight. Soon noises were heard, like those of the
mountains when the evil spirits are shaking them; the sounds were awful,
solemn, and regular, like the throbs of a warrior's heart; and now and
then a sharp, shrill scream would rend the air and awake other terrible
voices in the forest.

"It came, and deer, bears, panthers were passing among us, madly flying
before the dreaded unknown. It came, it flew, nearer and nearer, till we
saw it plainly with its two big mouths, spitting fire like the burning
mountains of the West. It rained very hard, and yet we saw all. It was
like a long fish, shaped like a canoe, and its sides had many eyes, full
of bright light as the stars above.

"I saw no one with the monster; he was alone, breaking the waters and
splashing them with his arms, his legs, or his fins. On the top, and it
was very high, there was a square lodge. Once I thought I could see a
man in it, but it was a fancy; or perhaps the soul of the thing,
watching from its hiding-place for a prey which it might seize upon.
Happily it was dark, very dark, and being in a hollow along the banks,
we could not be perceived; and the dreadful thing passed.

"The Caddoes uttered a loud scream of fear and agony, their hearts were
melted. We said nothing, for we were Comanches and warriors; and yet I
felt strange, and was fixed to where I stood. A man is but a man, and
even a Red-skin cannot struggle with a spirit. The scream of the
Caddoes, however, frightened the monster; its flanks opened and
discharged some tremendous Anim Tekis (thunders) on the village. I heard
the crashing of the logs, the splitting of the hides covering the
lodges, and when the smoke was all gone, it left a smell of powder; the
monster was far, far off and there was no trace of it left, except the
moans of the wounded and the lamentation of the squaws among
the Caddoes.

"I and my young men soon recovered our senses; we entered the village,
burnt everything, and killed the warriors. They would not fight; but as
they were thieves, we destroyed them. We returned to our own villages,
every one of us with many scalps, and since that time the Caddoes have
never been a nation; they wander from north to south, and from east to
west; they have huts made with the bark of trees, or they take shelter
in the burrows of the prairie dogs, with the owls and the snakes; but
they have no lodges, no wigwams, no villages. Thus may it be with all
the foes of our great nation."

This an historical fact. The steamboat "Beaver" made its first
exploration upon the Red River, some eighty miles above the French
settlement of Nachitochy, just at the very time that the Comanches were
attacking the last Caddoe village upon the banks of the Red River. These
poor savages yelled with terror when the strange mass passed thus before
them, and, either from wanton cruelty or from fear of an attack, the
boat fired four guns, loaded with grape-shot, upon the village, from
which they were not a hundred yards distant.

The following is a narrative of events which happened in the time of
Mosh Kohta (buffalo), a great chief, hundreds of years ago, when the
unfortunate "La Salle" was shipwrecked upon the coast of Texas, while
endeavouring to discover the mouth of the Mississippi. Such records are
very numerous among the great prairie tribes; they bear sometimes the
Ossianic type, and are related every evening during the month of
February, when the "Divines" and the elders of the nation teach to the
young men the traditions of former days.

"It was in the time of a chief, a great chief, strong, cunning, and
wise, a chief of many bold deeds. His name was Mosh Kohta.

"It is a long while! No Pale-faces dwelt in the land of plenty (the
translation of the Indian word 'Texas'); our grandfathers had just
received it from the Great Spirit, and they had come from the setting of
the sun across the big mountains to take possession. We were a great
nation--we are so now, we have always been so, and we will ever be. At
that time, also, our tribe spread all along the western shores of the
great stream Mississippi, for no Pale-face had yet settled upon it. We
were a great people, ruled by a mighty chief; the earth, the trees, the
rivers, and the air know his name. Is there a place in the mountains or
the prairies where the name of Mosh Kohta has not been pronounced
and praised?

"At that time a strange warlike people of the Pale-Faces broke their big
canoes along our coasts of the South, and they all landed on the shore,
well armed with big guns and long rifles, but they had nothing to eat.
These were the 'Mahamate-kosh-ehoj' (the French); their chief was a good
man, a warrior, and a great traveller; he had started from the northern
territories of the Algonquins, to go across the salt water in far
distant lands, and bring back with him many good things which the
Red-skins wanted:--warm blankets to sleep upon, flints to strike a fire,
axes to cut the trees, and knives to skin the bear and the buffalo. He
was a good man, and loved the Indians, for they also were good, and good
people will always love each other.

"He met with Mosh Kohta; our warriors would not fight the strangers, for
they were hungry, and their voices were soft; they were also too few to
be feared, though their courage seemed great under misfortune, and they
would sing and laugh while they suffered. We gave them food, we helped
them to take from the waters the planks of their big canoe, and to build
the first wigwam in which the Pale-faces ever dwelt in Texas. Two moons
they remained hunting the buffalo with our young men, till at last their
chief and his bravest warriors started in some small canoes of ours, to
see if they could not enter the great stream, by following the coast
towards the sunrise. He was gone four moons, and when he returned, he
had lost half of his men, by sickness, hunger, and fatigue; yet Mosh
Kohta bade him not despair; the great chief promised the Pale-faces to
conduct them in the spring to the great stream, and for several more
moons we lived all together, as braves and brothers should. Then, for
the first time also, the Comanches got some of their rifles, and others
knives. Was it good--was it bad? Who knows? Yet the lance and arrows
killed as many buffaloes as lead and black dust (powder), and the squaws
could take off the skin of a deer or a beaver without knives. How they
did it, no one knows now; but they did it, though they had not yet seen
the keen and sharp knives of the Pale-faces.

"However, it was not long time before many of the strangers tired of
remaining so far from their wigwams: their chief every morning would
look for hours towards the rising of the sun, as if the eyes of his soul
could see through the immensity of the prairies; he became gloomy as a
man of dark deeds (a Médecin), and one day, with half of his men, he
began a long inland trail across prairies, swamps, and rivers, so much
did he dread to die far from his lodge. Yet he did die: not of sickness,
not of hunger, but under the knife of another Pale-face; and he was the
first one from strange countries whose bones blanched without burial in
the waste. Often the evening breeze whispers his name along the swells
of the southern plains, for he was a brave man, and no doubt he is now
smoking with his great Manitou.

"Well, he started. At that time the buffalo and the deer were plentiful,
and the men went on their trail gaily till they reached the river of
many forks (Trinity River), for they knew that every day brought them
nearer and nearer to the forts of their people, though it was yet a long
way--very long. The Pale-face chief had a son with him; a noble youth,
fair to look upon, active and strong: the Comanches loved him. Mosh
Kohta had advised him to distrust two of his own warriors; but he was
young and generous, incapable of wrong or cowardice; he would not
suspect it in others, especially among men of his own colour and nation,
who had shared his toils, his dangers, his sorrows, and his joys.

"Now these two warriors our great chief had spoken of were bad men and
very greedy; they were ambitious too, and believed that, by killing
their chief and his son, they would themselves command the band. One
evening, while they were all eating the meal of friendship, groans were
heard--a murder had been committed. The other warriors sprang up; they
saw their chief dead, and the two warriors coming towards them; their
revenge was quick--quick as that of the panther: the two base warriors
were killed.

"Then there was a great fight among the Pale-face band, in which many
were slain; but the young man and some other braves escaped from their
enemies, and, after two moons, reached the Arkansas, where they found
their friends and some Makota Conayas (priests--black-gowns). The
remainder of the band who left us, and who murdered their chief, our
ancestors destroyed like reptiles, for they were venomous and bad. The
other half of the Pale-faces, who had remained behind in their wood
wigwams, followed our tribe to our great villages, became Comanches, and
took squaws. Their children and grandchildren have formed a good and
brave nation; they are paler than the Comanches, but their heart is all
the same; and often in the hunting-grounds they join our hunters,
partake of the same meals, and agree like brothers. These are the nation
of the Wakoes, not far in the south, upon the trail of the Cross
Timbers. But who knows not the Wakoes?--even children can go to their
hospitable lodges."

This episode is historical. In the early months of 1684, four vessels
left La Rochelle, in France, for the colonization of the Mississippi,
bearing two hundred and eighty persons. The expedition was commanded by
La Salle, who brought with him his nephew, Moranget. After a delay at
Santo Domingo, which lasted two years, the expedition, missing the mouth
of the Mississippi, entered the Bay of Matagorda, where they were
shipwrecked. "There," says Bancroft in his History of America, "under
the suns of June, with timber felled in an inland grove, and dragged for
a league over the prairie grass, the colonists prepared to build a
shelter, La Salle being the architect, and himself making the beams, and
tenons, and mortises."

This is the settlement which made Texas a part of Louisiana. La Salle
proposed to seek the Mississippi in the canoes of the Indians, who had
showed themselves friendly, and, after an absence of about four months,
and the loss of thirty men, he returned in rags, having failed to find
"the fatal river." The eloquent American historian gives him a noble
character:--"On the return of La Salle," says he, "he learned that a
mutiny had broken out among his men, and they had destroyed a part of
the colony's provisions. Heaven and man seemed his enemies, and, with
the giant energy of an indomitable will, having lost his hopes of
fortune, his hopes of fame, with his colony diminished to about one
hundred, among whom discontent had given birth to plans of crime--with
no European nearer than the river Pamuco, and no French nearer than the
northern shores of the Mississippi, he resolved to travel on foot to his
countrymen in the North, and renew his attempts at colonization."

It appears that La Salle left sixty men behind him, and on the 20th of
March, 1686, after a buffalo-hunt, he was murdered by Duhaut and
L'Archevêque, two adventurers, who had embarked their capital in the
enterprise. They had long shown a spirit of mutiny, and the malignity of
disappointed avarice so maddened them that they murdered their
unfortunate commander.

I will borrow a page of Bancroft, who is more explicit than the Comanche
chroniclers.

"Leaving sixty men at Fort St. Louis, in January, 1687, La Salle, with
the other portion of his men, departed for Canada. Lading their baggage
on the wild horses from the Cenis, which found their pasture everywhere
in the prairies, in shoes made of green buffalo-hides; for want of other
paths, following the track of the buffalo, and using skins as the only
shelter against rain, winning favour with the savages by the confiding
courage of their leader--they ascended the streams towards the first
ridges of highlands, walking through beautiful plains and groves, among
deer and buffaloes, now fording the clear rivulets, now building a
bridge by felling a giant tree across a stream, till they had passed the
basin of the Colorado, and in the upland country had reached a branch of
the Trinity River.

"In the little company of wanderers there were two men, Duhaut and
L'Archevêque, who had embarked their capital in the enterprise. Of
these, Duhaut had long shown a spirit of mutiny; the base malignity of
disappointed avarice, maddened by sufferings and impatient of control,
awakened the fiercest passions of ungovernable hatred. Inviting Moranget
to take charge of the fruits of a buffalo-hunt, they quarrelled with him
and murdered him.

"Wondering at the delay of his nephew's return, La Salle, on the 20th of
March, went to seek him. At the brink of the river he observed eagles
hovering, as if over carrion, and he fired an alarm-gun. Warned by the
sound, Duhaut and L'Archevêque crossed the river; the former skulked in
the prairie grass; of the latter, La Salle asked, 'Where is my nephew?'
At the moment of the answer, Duhaut fired; and, without uttering a word,
La Salle fell dead. 'You are down now, grand bashaw! You are down now!'
shouted one of the conspirators, as they despoiled his remains, which
were left on the prairie, naked and without burial, to be devoured by
wild beasts.

"Such was the end of this daring adventurer. For force of will and vast
conceptions; for various knowledge, and quick adaptation of his genius
to untried circumstances; for a sublime magnanimity, that resigned
itself to the will of Heaven, and yet triumphed over affliction by
energy of purpose and unfaltering hope,--he had no superior among his
countrymen. He had won the affection of the Governor of Canada, the
esteem of Colbert, the confidence of Seignelay, the favour of Louis XIV.
After beginning the colonization of Upper Canada, he perfected the
discovery of the Mississippi from the falls of St. Anthony to its mouth;
and he will be remembered through all times as the father of
colonization in the great central valley of the West."

Jontel, with the brother and son of La Salle, and others, but seven in
all, obtained a guide from the Indians for the Arkansas, and, fording
torrents, crossing ravines, making a ferry over rivers with rafts or
boats of buffalo-hides, without meeting the cheering custom of the
calumet, till they reached the country above the Red River, and leaving
an esteemed companion in a wilderness grave, on the 24th of July, came
upon a branch of the Mississippi. There they beheld on an island a large
cross. Never did Christians gaze on that emblem with more deep-felt
emotion. Near it stood a log hut, tenanted by two Frenchmen. A
missionary, of the name of Tonti, had descended that river, and full of
grief at not finding La Salle, had established a post near the Arkansas.

As the reader may perceive, there is not much difference between our
printed records and the traditions of the Comanches.



CHAPTER XXV.


It was during my convalescence that the fate of the Texan expedition to
Santa Fé was decided; and as the real facts have been studiously
concealed, and my intelligence, gained from the Indians, who were
disinterested parties, was afterwards fully corroborated by an Irish
gentleman who had been persuaded to join it, I may as well relate them
here. Assuming the character of friendly traders, with some hundred
dollars' worth of goods, as a blind to their real intentions, which were
to surprise the Mexicans during the neutrality which had been agreed
upon, about five hundred men were collected at Austin, for the
expedition.

Although the report was everywhere circulated that this was to be a
trading experiment, the expedition, when it quitted Austin, certainly
wore a very different appearance. The men had been supplied with
uniforms; generals, and colonels, and majors were dashing about in every
direction, and they quitted the capital of Texas with drums beating and
colours flying. Deceived by the Texans, a few respectable Europeans were
induced to join this expedition, either for scientific research or the
desire to visit a new and unexplored country, under such protection,
little imagining that they had associated themselves with a large band
of robbers, for no other name can be given to these lawless plunderers.
But if the force made a tolerable appearance on its quitting the
capital, a few hours' march put an end to all discipline and restraint.

Although the country abounded with game, and it was killed from mere
wantonness, such was their improvidence, that they were obliged to
resort to their salt pork and other provisions; and as, in thirty days,
forty large casks of whisky were consumed, it is easy to suppose, which
was indeed the fact, that every night that they halted, the camp was a
scene of drunkenness and riot.

During the last few days of the march through the game country they
killed more than a hundred buffaloes, yet, three days after they had
quitted the prairies, and had entered the dreary northern deserts, they
had no provisions left, and were compelled to eat their worn-out and
miserable horses.

A true account of their horrible sufferings would beggar all
description; they became so weak and utterly helpless that half a dozen
Mexicans, well mounted, could have destroyed them all. Yet, miserable as
they were, and under the necessity of conciliating the Indians, they
could not forego their piratical and thieving propensities. They fell
upon a small village of the Wakoes, whose warriors and hunters were
absent, and, not satisfied with taking away all the eatables they could
carry, they amused themselves with firing the Indian stores and shooting
the children, and did not leave until the village was reduced to a heap
of burning ashes. This act of cowardice sealed the fate of the
expedition, which was so constantly harassed by the Wakoe warriors, and
had lost already so many scalps, that afterwards meeting with a small
party of Mexicans, they surrendered to them, that they might escape the
well deserved and unrelenting vengeance of the warlike Wakoes.

Such was the fate of the Texan expedition; but there is another portion
of the history which has been much talked of in the United States; I
mean the history of their captivity and sufferings, while on their road
from Santa Fé to Mexico. Mr. Daniel Webster hath made it a government
question, and Mr. Pakenham, the British Ambassador in Mexico, has
employed all the influence of his own position to restore to freedom the
half-dozen of Englishmen who had joined the expedition. Of course, they
knew nothing of the circumstances, except from the report of the Texans
themselves. Now, it is but just that the Mexicans' version should be
heard also. The latter is the true one--at least, so far as I can judge
by what I saw, what I heard upon the spot, and from some Mexican
documents yet In my possession.

The day before their capture the Texans, who for the last thirteen days
had suffered all the pangs of hunger, came suddenly upon a flock of
several thousand sheep, belonging to the Mexican government. As usual,
the flock was under the charge of a Mexican family, living in a small
covered waggon, in which they could remove from spot to spot, shifting
the pasture-ground as required. In that country but very few individuals
are employed to keep the largest herds of animals; but they are always
accompanied by a number of noble dogs, which appear to be particularly
adapted to protect and guide the animals. These dogs do not run about,
they never bark or bite, but, on the contrary, they will walk gently up
to any one of the flock that happens to stray, take it carefully by the
ear, and lead it back to its companions. The sheep do not show the least
fear of these dogs, nor is there any occasion for it. These useful
guardians are a cross of the Newfoundland and St. Bernard breed, of a
very large size, and very sagacious.

Now, if the Texans had asked for a hundred sheep, either for money or in
barter (a sheep is worth about sixpence), they would have been supplied
directly; but as soon as the flock was perceived one of the Texan
leaders exclaimed, with an oath, "Mexicans' property, and a welcome
booty; upon it, my boys, upon it, and no mercy," One of the poor
Mexicans who had charge was shot through the head; the others succeeded
In escaping by throwing themselves down among the thick ranks of the
affrighted animals, till out of rifle-distance; then began a carnage
without discrimination, and the Texans never ceased firing until the
prairie was for miles covered with the bodies of their victims. Yet this
grand victory was not purchased without a severe loss, for the dogs
defended the property intrusted to their care; they scorned to run away,
and before they could all be killed they had torn to pieces half a dozen
of the Texans, and dreadfully lacerated as many more. The evening was,
of course, spent in revelry; the dangers and fatigues, the delays and
vexations of the march were now considered over, and high were their
anticipations of the rich plunder in perspective. But this was the only
feat accomplished by this Texan expedition: the Mexicans had not been
deceived; they had had intelligence of the real nature of the
expedition, and advanced parties had been sent out to announce its
approach. Twenty-four hours after they had regaled themselves with
mutton, one of these parties, amounting to about one hundred men, made
its appearance. All the excitement of the previous evening had
evaporated, the Texans sent out a flag of truce, and three hundred of
them surrendered themselves unconditionally to this small Mexican force.

On one point the European nations had been much deceived, which is as to
the character of the Mexican soldier, who appears to be looked upon with
a degree of contempt. This is a great mistake, but it has arisen from
the false reports and unfounded aspersions of the Texans, as to the
result of many of their engagements. I can boldly assert (although
opposed to them) that there is not a braver individual in the world than
the Mexican; in my opinion, far superior to the Texan, although probably
not equal to him in the knowledge and use of firearms.

One great cause of the Mexican army having occasionally met with defeat
is that the Mexicans, who are of the oldest and best Castile blood,
retain the pride of the Spanish race to an absurd degree. The sons of
the old nobility are appointed as officers; they learn nothing, know
nothing of military tactics--they know how to die bravely, and that
is all.

The battle of St. Jacinta, which decided the separation of Texas, has
been greatly cried up by the Texans; the fact is, it was no battle at
all. The Mexicans were commanded by Santa Anna, who has great military
talent, and the Mexicans reposed full confidence in him. Santa Anna
feeling very unwell, went to a farm-house, at a small distance, to
recover himself, and was captured by half-a-dozen Texan robbers, who
took him on to the Texan army.

The loss of the general with the knowledge that there was no one fit to
supply his place, dispirited the Mexicans, and they retreated; but since
that time they have proved to the Texans how insecure they are, even at
this moment England and other European governments have thought proper,
very hastily, to recognize Texas, but Mexico has not, and will not.

The expedition to Santa Fé, by which the Texans broke the peace,
occurred in the autumn of 1841; the Mexican army entered Texas in the
spring of 1842, sweeping everything before them, from San Antonio de
Bejar to the Colorado; but the Texans had sent emissaries to Yucatan, to
induce that province to declare its independence. The war in Yucatan
obliged the Mexican army to march back in that direction to quell the
insurrection, which it did, and then returned to Texas, and again took
possession of San Antonio de Bejar in September of the same year, taking
many prisoners of consequence away with them.

It was the intention of the Mexicans to have returned to Texas in the
spring of the year, but fresh disturbances in Yucatan prevented Santa
Anna from executing his projects. Texas is, therefore, by no means
secure, its population is decreasing, and those who had respectability
attached to their character have left it. I hardly need observe that the
Texan national debt, now amounting to thirteen millions of dollars, may,
for many reasons, turn out to be not a very profitable investment[21].

[Footnote 21: Perhaps the English reader will find it extraordinary that
Santa Anna, once freed from his captivity, should not have re-entered
Texas with an overwhelming force. The reason is very simple: Bustamente
was a rival of Santa Anna for the presidency; the general's absence
allowed him to intrigue, and when the news reached the capital that
Santa Anna had fallen a prisoner, it became necessary to elect a new
president. Bustamente had never been very popular, but having promised
to the American population of the seaports that nothing should be
attempted against Texas if he were elected, these, through mercantile
interest, supported him, not only with their influence but also with
their money.

When, at last, Santa Anna returned to Mexico, his power was lost, and
his designs upon Texas were discarded by his successor. Bustamente was a
man entirely devoid of energy, and he looked with apathy upon the
numerous aggressions made by the Texans upon the borders of Mexico. As
soon, however, as the Mexicans heard that the Texans, in spite of the
law of nations, had sent an expedition to Santa Fé, at the very time
that they were making overtures for peace and recognition of their
independence, they called upon Bustamente to account for his culpable
want of energy. Believing himself secure against any revolution, the
president answered with harsh measures, and the soldiery, now
exasperated, put Santa Anna at their head, forcing him to re-assume the
presidency. Bustamente ran away to Paris, the Santa Fé expedition was
soon defeated, and, as we have seen, the president, Santa Anna, began
his dictatorship with the invasion of Texas (March, 1842).]  But to
return to the Santa Fé expedition. The Texans were deprived of their
arms and conducted to a small village, called Anton Chico, till orders
should have been received as to their future disposition, from General
Armigo, governor of the province.

It is not to be supposed that in a small village of about one hundred
government shepherds, several hundred famished men could be supplied
with all the necessaries and superfluities of life. The Texans accuse
the Mexicans of having starved them in Anton Chico, forgetting that
every Texan had the same ration of provisions as the Mexican soldier.

Of course the Texans now attempted to fall back upon the original
falsehood, that they were a trading expedition, and had been destroyed
and plundered by the Indians; but, unfortunately, the assault upon the
sheep and the cowardly massacre of the shepherds were not to be got
over. As Governor Armigo very justly observed to them, if they were
traders, they had committed murder; if they were not traders, they were
prisoners of war.

After a painful journey of four months, the prisoners arrived in the old
capital of Mexico, where the few strangers who had been induced to join
the expedition, in ignorance of its destination, were immediately
restored to liberty; the rest were sent, some to the mines, to dig for
the metal they were so anxious to obtain, and some were passed over to
the police of the city, to be employed in the cleaning of the streets.

Many American newspapers have filled their columns with all manner of
histories relative to this expedition; catalogues of the cruelties
practised by the Mexicans have been given, and the sympathizing American
public have been called upon to relieve the unfortunate men who had
escaped. I will only give one instance of misrepresentation in the New
Orleans _Picayune_, and put in juxta-position the real truth. It will
be quite sufficient. Mr. Kendal says:--

"As the sun was about setting, those of us who were in front were
startled by the report of two guns, following each other in quick
succession. We turned to ascertain the cause, and soon found that a
poor, unfortunate man, named Golpin, a merchant, and who had started
upon the expedition with a small amount of goods, had been shot by the
rear-guard, for no other reason than that he was too sick and weak to
keep up. He had made a bargain with one of the guard to ride his mule a
short distance, for which he was to pay him his only shirt! While in the
act of taking it off, Salazar (the commanding officer) ordered a soldier
to shoot him. The first ball only wounded the wretched man, but the
second killed him instantly, and he fell with his shirt still about his
face. Golpin was a citizen of the United States, and reached Texas a
short time before the expedition. He was a harmless, inoffensive man, of
most delicate constitution, and, during a greater part of the time we
were upon the road, was obliged to ride in one of the waggons."

This story is, of course, very pathetic; but here we have a few lines
taken from the _Bee_, a New Orleans newspaper:--

"_January_, 1840. HORRIBLE MURDER!--Yesterday, at the plantation of
William Reynolds, was committed one of those acts which revolt human
nature. Henry Golpin, the overseer, a Creole, and strongly suspected of
being a quadroone, had for some time acted improperly towards Mrs.
Reynolds and daughters. A few days ago, a letter from W.R. was received
from St. Louis, stating that he would return home at the latter end of
the week; and Golpin, fearing that the ladies would complain of his
conduct and have him turned out, poisoned them with the juice of some
berries poured into their coffee. Death was almost instantaneous. A
pretty mulatto girl of sixteen, an attendant and _protégée_ of the young
ladies, entering the room where the corpses were already stiff, found
the miscreant busy in taking off their jewels and breaking up some
recesses, where he knew that there were a few thousand dollars, In
specie and paper, the produce of a recent sale of negroes. At first, he
tried to coax the girl, offering to run away and marry her, but she
repulsed him with indignation, and, forcing herself off his hold, she
ran away to call for help. Snatching suddenly a rifle, he opened a
window, and as the honest girl ran across the square towards the
negroes' huts, she fell quite dead, with a ball passing across her
temples. The Governor and police of the first and second municipalities
offer one thousand dollars reward for the apprehension of the miserable
assassin, who, of course, has absconded."

This is the "_harmless and inoffensive man of delicate constitution, a
citizen of the United States,_" which Mr. Kendal would give us as a
martyr of Mexican barbarism. During the trip across the prairie, every
man, except two or three, had shunned him, so well did every one know
his character: and now I will describe the events which caused him to be
shot in the way above related.

Two journeys after they had left Santa Fé they passed the night in a
little village, four men being billeted in every house under the charge
of one soldier. Golpin and another of his stamp were, however, left
without any guard in the house of a small retailer of aguardiente, who,
being now absent, had left his old wife alone in the house. She was a
good hospitable soul, and thought it a Christian duty to administer to
the poor prisoners all the relief she could afford. She gave them some
of her husband's linen, bathed their feet with warm water mixed with
whisky, and served up to them a plentiful supper.

Before they retired to rest, she made them punch, and gave them a small
bottle of liquor, which they could conceal about them and use on the
road. The next morning the sounds of the drums called the prisoners in
the square to get ready for their departure. Golpin went to the old
woman's room, insisting that she should give them more of the liquor.
Now the poor thing had already done much. Liquor in these far inland
countries, where there are no distilleries, reaches the enormous price
of from sixteen to twenty dollars a gallon. So she mildly but firmly
refused, upon which Golpin seized from the nail, where it was hung, a
very heavy key, which he knew to be that of the little cellar
underground, where the woman kept the liquor. She tried to regain
possession of it, but during the struggle Golpin beat her brains out
with a bar of iron that was in the room. This deed perpetrated, he
opened the trap-door to the cellar, and among the folds of his blanket
and that of his companion concealed as many flasks as they could carry.
They then shut the street-door and joined their companions.

Two hours afterwards, the husband returned, and knocked in vain; at
last, he broke open the door, and beheld his help-mate barbarously
mangled. A neighbour soon told him about the two Texan guests, and the
wretched man having made his depositions to an alcade, or constable,
they both started upon fresh horses, and at noon overtook the prisoners.
The commanding officers soon ascertained who were the two men that had
been billeted at the old woman's, and found them surrounded by a group
of Texans, making themselves merry with the stolen liqnor. Seeing that
they were discovered, to save his life, Golpin's companion immediately
peached, and related the whole of the transaction. Of course the
assassin was executed.



CHAPTER XXVI.


At that time, the Pawnee Picts, themselves an offset of the Shoshones
and Comanches, and speaking the same language--tribe residing upon the
northern shores of the Red River, and who had always been at peace with
their ancestors, had committed some depredations upon the northern
territory of the Comanches.

The chiefs, as usual, waited several moons for reparation to be offered
by the offenders, but as none came, it was feared that the Picts had
been influenced by the American agents to forget their long friendship,
and commence hostilities with them. It was, therefore, resolved that we
should enter the war path, and obtain by force that justice which
friendship could no longer command.

The road which we had to travel, to arrive at the town of the Pawnee
Picts, was rough and uneven, running over hills and intersected by deep
gullies. Bad as it was, and faint and tired as were our horses, in ten
days we reached a small prairie, within six miles of the river, on the
other side of which lay the principal village of the Pawnee Picts.

The heavens now became suddenly overcast, and a thunder-storm soon
rendered it impossible for even our best warriors to see their way. A
halt was consequently ordered; and, not withstanding a tremendous rain,
we slept soundly till morn, when a drove of horses, numbering some
hundreds, was discovered some distance to our left. In all appearance
they were tame animals, and many thought they could see the Pawnee
warriors riding them. Four of us immediately started to reconnoitre, and
we made our preparations for attack; as we gradually approached there
appeared to be no little commotion among the herd, which we now plainly
perceived to be horses without any riders.

When we first noticed them, we discerned two or three white spots, which
Gabriel and I mistook for flags; a nearer view convinced us that they
were young colts.

We continued our route. The sun had scarcely risen when we arrived on
the shore of the river, which was lined with hundreds of canoes, each
carrying green branches at their bows and white flags at their sterns.
Shortly afterwards, several chiefs passed over to our side, and invited
all our principal chiefs to come over to the village and talk to the
Pawnee Picts, who wished to remain brothers with their friends--the
Comanches. This was consented to, and Gabriel, Roche, and I accompanied
them. This village was admirably protected from attack on every side;
and in front, the Red River, there clear and transparent, rolls its deep
waters. At the back of the village, stony and perpendicular mountains
rise to the height of two thousand feet, and their ascent is impossible,
except by ladders and ropes, or where steps have been cut into the rock.

The wigwams, one thousand in number, extend, for the space of four
miles, upon a beautiful piece of rich alluvial soil in a very high state
of cultivation; the fields were well fenced and luxuriant with maize,
pumpkins, melons, beans, and squashes. The space between the mountains
and the river, on each side of the village, was thickly planted with
close ranks of prickly pear, impassable to man or beast, so that the
only way in which the Pawnees could be attacked was in front, by forcing
a passage across the river, which could not be effected without a great
loss of life, as the Pawnees are a brave people and well supplied with
rifles, although in their prairie hunts they prefer to use their lances
and their arrows.

When we entered the great council lodge, the great chief, Wetara Sharoj,
received us with great urbanity, assigned to us places next to him, and
gave the signal for the Pawnee elders to enter the lodge. I was very
much astonished to see among them some white men, dressed in splendid
military uniforms; but the ceremonies having begun, and it being the
Indian custom to assume indifference, whatever your feelings may be, I
remained where I was. Just at the moment that the pipe-bearer was
lighting the calumet of peace, the venerable Pawnee chief advanced to
the middle of the lodge, and addressed the Comanches:--

"My sight is old, for I have seen a hundred winters, and yet I can
recognize those who once were friends. I see among you Opishka Koaki
(the White Raven), and the leader of a great people; Pemeh-Katey (the
Long Carbine), and the wise Hah-nee (the Old Beaver). You are friends,
and we should offer you at once the calumet of peace, but you have come
as foes; as long as you think you have cause to remain so, it would be
mean and unworthy of the Pawnees to sue and beg for what perchance they
may obtain by their courage. Yet the Comanches and the Pawnees have been
friends too long a time to fall upon each other as a starved wolf does
upon a wounded buffalo. A strong cause must excite them to fight against
each other, and then, when it comes, it must be a war of extermination,
for when a man breaks with an old friend, he becomes more bitter in his
vengeance than against an utter stranger. Let me hear what the brave
Comanches have to complain of, and any reparation, consistent with the
dignity of a Pawnee chief, shall be made, sooner than risk a war between
brothers who have so long hunted together and fought together against a
common enemy. I have said."

Opishka Koaki ordered me to light the Comanche calumet of peace, and
advancing to the place left vacant by the ancient chief, he answered:--

"I have heard words of great wisdom; a Comanche always loves and
respects wisdom; I love and respect my father, Wetara Sharoj; I will
tell him what are the complaints of our warriors, but before, as we have
come as foes, it is but just that we should be the first to offer the
pipe of peace; take it, chief, for we must be friends; I will tell our
wrongs, and leave it to the justice of the great Pawnee to efface them,
and repair the loss his young men have caused to a nation of friends."

The pipe was accepted, and the "talk" went on. It appeared that a party
of one hundred Pawnee hunters had had their horses estampeded one
night, by some hostile Indians. For five days they forced their way on
foot, till entering the northern territory of the Comanches, they met
with a drove of horses and cattle. They would never have touched them,
had it not been that, a short time afterwards, they met with another
very numerous party of their inveterate enemies--the Kiowas, by whom
they were pressed so very hard, that they were obliged to return to the
place where the Comanche herds of horse were grazing, and to take them,
to escape their foes. So far, all was right; it was nothing more than
what the Comanches would have clone themselves in the land of the
Pawnees; but what had angered the Comanche warriors was, that the
hundred horses thus borrowed in necessity, had never been returned,
although the party had arrived at the village two moons ago.

When the Pawnees heard that we had no other causes for complaint, they
showed, by their expressions of friendship, that the ties of long
brotherhood were not to be so easily broken; and indeed the Pawnees had,
some time before, sent ten of their men with one hundred of their finest
horses, to compensate for those which they had taken and rather
ill-treated, in their hurried escape from the Kiowas. But they had taken
a different road from that by which we had come, and consequently we had
missed them. Of course, the council broke up, and the Indians, who had
remained on the other side of the river, were invited in the village to
partake of the Pawnee hospitality.

Gabriel and I soon accosted the strangely-dressed foreigners. In fact,
we were seeking each other, and I learned that they had been a long time
among the Pawnees, and would have passed over to the Comanches, in order
to confer with me on certain political matters, had it not been that
they were aware of the great antipathy the chiefs of that tribe
entertained against the inhabitants of the United States.

The facts were as follows:--These people were emissaries of the Mormons,
a new sect which had sprung up in the States, and which was rapidly
increasing in numbers. This sect had been created by a certain Joseph
Smith. Round the standard of this bold and ambitious leader, swarms of
people crowded from every part, and had settled upon a vast extent of
ground on the eastern shores of the Mississippi, and there established a
civil, religious, and military power, as anomalous as it was dangerous
to the United States. In order to accomplish his ulterior views, this
modern apostle wished to establish relations of peace and friendship
with all the Indians in the great western territories, and had for that
purpose sent messengers among the various tribes east of the Rocky
Mountains. Having also learned, by the St. Louis trappers, that
strangers, long established among the Shoshones of the Pacific Ocean,
were now residing among the Comanches, Smith had ordered his emissaries
among the Pawnees to endeavour to meet us, and concert together as to
what measures could be taken so as to secure a general league, defensive
and offensive, against the Americans and the Texans, and which was to
extend from the Mississippi to the western seas.

Such a proposition of course could not be immediately answered. I
therefore obtained leave from the Comanches to take the two strangers
with us, and we all returned together. It would be useless to relate to
the reader that which passed between me and the emissaries of the
Mormons; let it suffice to say, that after a residence of three weeks in
the village, they were conducted back to the Pawnees. With the advice of
Gabriel, I determined to go myself and confer with the principal Mormon
leaders; resolving in my own mind that if our interview was not
satisfactory, I would continue on to Europe, and endeavour either to
engage a company of merchants to enter into direct communication with
the Shoshones or to obtain the support of the English government, in
furtherance of the objects I had in view for the advantage of the tribe.

As a large portion of the Comanches were making preparations for their
annual migration to the east of Texas, Roche, Gabriel, and I joined this
party, and having exchanged an affectionate farewell with the remainder
of the tribe, and received many valuable presents, we started, taking
the direction of the Saline Lake, which forms the head-waters of the
southern branch or fork of the river Brazos. There we met again with our
old friends the Wakoes, and learned that there was a party of sixty or
seventy Yankees or Texans roaming about the upper forks of the Trinity,
committing all sorts of depredations, and painting their bodies like the
Indians, that their enormities might be laid to the account of the
savages. This may appear strange to the reader, but it has been a
common practice for some time. There have always been in the United
States a numerous body of individuals, who, having by their crimes been
compelled to quit the settlements of the east, have sought shelter out
of the reach of civilization. These individuals are all desperate
characters, and, uniting themselves in small bands, come fearlessly
among the savages, taking squaws, and living among them till a
sufficient period has elapsed to enable them to venture, under an
assumed name and in a distant state, to return with impunity and enjoy
the wealth acquired by plunder and assassination.

This is the history of the major portion of the western pioneers, whose
courage and virtues have been so much celebrated by American writers. As
they increased in numbers, these pioneers conceived a plan by which they
acquired great wealth. They united together, forming a society of land
privateers or buccaneers, and made incursions into the very heart of the
French and Spanish settlements of the west, where, not being expected,
they surprised the people and carried off great booty. When, however,
these Spanish and French possessions were incorporated into the United
States, they altered their system of plunder; and under the name of
Border's Buggles, they infested the states of the Mississippi and
Tennessee, where they obtained such a dreaded reputation that the
government sent out many expeditions against them, which, however, were
useless, as all the principal magistrates of these states had contrived
even themselves to be elected members of the fraternity. The increase of
population broke up this system, and the "Buggles" were compelled to
resort to other measures. Well acquainted with Indian manners, they
would dress and paint themselves as savages, and attack the caravans to
Mexico. The traders, in their reports, would attribute the deed to some
tribe of Indians, probably, at the moment of the attack some five or six
hundred miles distant from the spot.

This land pirating is now carried to a greater extent than ever. Bands
of fifty or sixty pioneers steal horses, cattle, and slaves from the
west of Arkansas and Louisiana, and sell them in Texas, where they have
their agents; and then, under the disguise of Indian warriors, they
attack plantations in Texas, carrying away with them large herds of
horses and cattle, they drive to Missouri, through the lonely mountain
passes of the Arkansas, or to the Attalapas and Opelousas districts of
Western Louisiana, forcing their way through the lakes and swamps on
both shores of the river Sabine. The party mentioned by the Wakoes was
one of this last description.

We left our friends, and, after a journey of three days, we crossed the
Brazos, close to a rich copper mine, which has for ages been worked by
the Indians, who used, as they do now, this metal for the points of
their arrows and lances. Another three days' journey brought us to one
of the forks of the Trinity, and there we met with two companies of
Texan rangers and spies, under the command of a certain Captain Hunt,
who had been sent from the lower part of the river to protect the
northern plantations. With him I found five gentlemen, who, tired of
residing in Texas had taken the opportunity of this military escort to
return to the Arkansas. As soon as they heard that I was going there
myself, they offered to join me, which I agreed to, as it was now
arranged that Gabriel and Roche should not accompany me further than to
the Red River[22].

[Footnote 22: It may appear singular to the reader that the Comanches,
being always at war with the Texans, should not have immediately
attacked the party under the orders of Hunt. But we were merely a
hunting-party; that is to say, our band was composed chiefly of young
hunters, not yet warriors. On such occasions there is frequently, though
not always, an ancient warrior for every eight hunters, just to show to
them the crafts of Indian mode of hunting. These parties often bring
with them their squaws and children, and never fight but when obliged
to do so.]

The next morning I received a visit from Hunt and two or three inferior
officers, to advise upon the following subject. An agricultural company
from Kentucky had obtained from the Texan government a grant of lands on
the upper forks of the Trinity. There twenty-five or thirty families had
settled, and they had with them numerous cattle, horses, mules, and
donkeys of a very superior breed. On the very evening I met with the
Texan rangers, the settlement had been visited by a party of ruffians,
who stole everything, murdering sixty or seventy men, women and
children, and firing all the cottages and log-houses of this rising and
prosperous village. All the corpses were shockingly mangled and scalped,
and as the assailants were painted in the Indian fashion, the few
inhabitants who had escaped and gained the Texan camp declared that the
marauders were Comanches.

This I denied stoutly, as did the Comanche party, and we all proceeded
with the Texan force to Lewisburg, the site of the massacre. As soon as
I viewed the bodies, lying here and there, I at once was positive that
the deed had been committed by white men. The Comanche chief could
scarcely restrain his indignation; he rode close to Captain Hunt and
sternly said to him--

"Stoop, Pale-face of a Texan, and look with thy eyes open; be honest if
thou canst, and confess that thou knowest by thine own experience that
this deed is that of white men. What Comanche ever scalped women and
children? Stoop, I say, and behold--a shame on thy colour and race--a
race of wolves, preying upon each other; a race of jaguars, killing the
female after having forced her--stoop and see.

"The bodies of the young women have been atrociously and cowardly
abused--seest thou? Thou well knowest the Indian is too noble and too
proud to level himself to the rank of a Texan or of a brute."

Twenty of our Comanches started on the tracks, and in the evening
brought three prisoners to the camp. They were desperate blackguards,
well known to every one of the soldiers under Captain Hunt, who, in
spite of their Indian disguise, identified them immediately. Hunt
refused to punish them, or to make any further pursuit, under the plea
that he had received orders to act against Indian depredators, but not
against white men.

"If such is the case," interrupted the Comanche chief, "retire
immediately with thy men, even to-night, or the breeze of evening will
repeat thy words to my young men, who would give a lesson of justice to
the Texans. Away with thee, if thou valuest thy scalp: justice shall be
done by Indians; it is time they should take it into their own hands,
when Pale-faces are afraid of each other."

Captain Hunt was wise enough to retire without replying, and the next
morning the Indians armed with cords and switches, gave a severe
whipping to the brigands, for having assumed the Comanche paint and
war-whoop. This first part of their punishment being over, their paint
was washed off, and the chief passed them over to us, who were, with the
addition I have mentioned, now eight white men. "They are too mean,"
said the chief, "to receive a warrior's death; judge them according to
your laws; justice must be done."

It was an awful responsibility; but we judged them according to the laws
of the United States and of Texas: they were condemned to be hanged, and
at sunset they were executed. For all I know, their bodies may still
hang from the lower branches of the three large cotton-wood trees upon
the head waters of the Trinity River.



CHAPTER XXVII.


We remained a few days where we were encamped to repose our horses and
enable them to support the fatigues of our journey through the rugged
and swampy wilderness of North-east Texas. Three days after the
execution of the three prisoners, some of our Indians, on their return
from a buffalo chase, informed us that several Texan companies,
numbering two hundred men, were advancing in our direction, and that
probably they were out upon an expedition against the Indians of the
Cross Timbers, as they had with them many waggons evidently containing
nothing but provisions and ammunition.

We were encamped in a strong position, and of course did not think of
retiring. We waited for the Texan army, determined to give them a good
drubbing if they dared to attempt to molest us. Notwithstanding the
security of our position, we kept a good watch during the night, but
nothing happened to give us alarm. The next morning, two hours after
sunrise, we saw the little army halting two miles from us, on the
opposite shore of a deep stream, which they must necessarily pass to
come to us. A company of the Comanches immediately darted forward to
dispute the passage; but some flags of truce being displayed by the
Texans, five or six of them were allowed to swim over unmolested.

These worthies who came over were Captain Hunt, of whom I have before
made mention, and General Smith, commanding the Texan army, who was a
certain butcher from Indiana, who had been convicted of having murdered
his wife and condemned to be hanged. He had, however, succeeded in
escaping from the gaol, and making his way to Texas. The third eminent
personage was a Colonel Hookley, and the other two were interpreters. As
an Indian will never hurt a foe who comes with a flag of truce, the
Comanches brought these gentlemen up to the camp.

As soon as General Smith presented himself before the Comanche chief, he
commenced a bullying harangue, not stating for what purpose he had come,
telling us gratuitously that he was the greatest general in the land,
and that all the other officers were fools; that he had with him an
innumerable number of stout and powerful warriors, who had no equal in
the world; and thus he went on for half an hour, till, breath failing
him, he was obliged to stop.

After a silence of a few minutes, he asked the Comanche chief what he
could answer to that? The chief looked at him and replied, with the most
ineffable contempt: "What should I answer?" said he; "I have heard
nothing but the words of a fool abusing other fools. I have heard the
howl of the wolf long before the buffalo was wounded; there can be no
answer to no question; speak, if thou canst; say what thou wishest, or
return from whence thou comest, lest the greatest warrior of Texas
should be whipped by squaws and boys."

The ex-butcher was greatly incensed at the want of breeding and manners
of the "poor devil of a savage," but at last he condescended to come to
the point. First of all, having learned from Captain Hunt the whole
transaction at Lewisburg, and that the Comanches had detained the
prisoners, he wished to have them restored to him. Next he wanted to get
the three young Pale-faces, who were with the Comanches (meaning me,
Gabriel, and Roche). They were three thieves, who had escaped from the
gaols, and he, the general, wanted to punish them. After all, they were
three vagabonds, d----d strangers, and strangers had nothing to do in
Texas, so he must have them. Thirdly and lastly, he wanted to have
delivered unto him the five Americans who had left Captain Hunt to join
us. He suspected them to be rascals or traitors, or they would not have
joined the Indians. He, the great general, wished to investigate closely
into the matter, and so the Comanches had better think quick about it,
for he was in a hurry.

I should here add, that the five Americans, though half-ruined by the
thefts of the Texans, had yet with them four or five hundred dollars in
good bank-notes, besides which each had a gold watch, well-furnished
saddle-bags, a good saddle, and an excellent travelling horse.

The chief answered him: "Now I can answer, for I have heard words having
a meaning, although I know them to be great lies. I say first, thou
shalt not have the prisoners who murdered those of thine own colour, for
they are hung yonder upon the tall trees, and there they shall remain
till the vultures and the crows have picked their flesh.

"I say, secondly, that the three young Pale-faces are here and will
answer for themselves, if they will or will not follow thee; but I see
thy tongue can utter big lies; for I know they have never mixed with the
Pale-faces of the south. As to the five Yankees, we cannot give them
back to thee, because we can give back only what we have taken. They are
now our guests, and, in our hospitality, they are secure till they leave
us of their own accord. I have said!"

Scarcely were these words finished, when the general and his four
followers found themselves surrounded by twenty Comanches, who conducted
them back to the stream in rather an abrupt manner. The greatest officer
of the land swore revenge, but as his guides did not understand him, he
was lucky enough to reserve his tongue for more lies and more swearing
at a more fitting time.

He soon rejoined his men, and fell back with them about a mile,
apparently to prepare for an attack upon our encampment. In the evening,
Roche and some five or six Indians passed the stream a few miles below,
that they might observe what the Texans were about; but unfortunately
they met with a party of ten of the enemy hunting, and Roche fell
heavily under his horse, which was killed by a rifle-shot. One of the
Comanches immediately jumped from his horse, rescued Roche from his
dangerous position, and, notwithstanding that the Texans were at that
instant charging, he helped Roche to his own saddle and bade him fly.
Roche was too much stupefied by his fall that he could not reflect, or
otherwise his generous nature would never have permitted him to save his
life at the expense of that of the noble fellow who was thus sacrificing
himself. As it was, he darted away, and his liberator, receiving the
shock of the assailants, killed two of them, and fell pierced with their
rifle-balls[23].

[Footnote 23: So sacred are the laws of hospitality among these Indians,
that a dozen lives would be sacrificed if required, to save that of a
guest. In sacrificing himself for Roche, the Comanche considered that he
was doing a mere act of duty.]

[Illustration: "They galloped across the plain, dragging after them
three mangled bodies."]

The report of the rifles recalled Roche to his senses, and joining once
more the three remaining Indians, he rushed madly upon the hunters, and,
closing with one of them, he ripped him up with his knife, while the
Comanches had each of them successfully thrown their lassoes, and now
galloped across the plain, dragging after them three mangled bodies:
Roche recovered his saddle and holsters, and taking with him the corpse
of the noble-minded Indian, he gave to his companions the signal for
retreat, as the remaining hunters were flying at full speed towards
their camp, and succeeded in giving the alarm. An hour after, they
returned to us, and, upon their report, it was resolved that we should
attack the Texans that very night.

About ten o'clock we started, divided into three bands of seventy men
each, which made our number about equal to that of the Texans; Roche,
who was disabled, with fifteen Indians and the five Americans remaining
in the camp. Two of the bands went down the river to cross it without
noise, while the third, commanded by Gabriel and me, travelled up the
stream for two miles, where we safely effected our passage. We had left
the horses ready, in case of accident, under the keeping of five men for
every band. The plan was to surprise the Texans, and attack them at once
in front and in rear; we succeeded beyond all expectations, the Texans,
as usual, being all more or less intoxicated. We reached their fires
before any alarm was given.

We gave the war-whoop and rushed among the sleepers. Many, many were
killed in their deep sleep of intoxication, but those who awoke and had
time to seize upon their arms fought certainly better than they would
have done had they been sober. The gallant General Smith, the bravest of
the brave and ex-butcher, escaped at the very beginning of the affray,
but I saw the Comanche chief cleaving the skull of Captain Hunt with
his tomahawk.

Before their onset, the Indians had secured almost all the enemy's
waggons and horses, so that flight to many became impossible. At that
particular spot the prairie was undulatory and bare, except on the left
of the encampment, where a few bushes skirted the edge of a small
stream; but these were too few and too small to afford a refuge to the
Texans, one hundred of whom were killed and scalped. The remainder of
the night was passed in giving chase to the fugitives, who, at last,
halted at a bend of the river, in a position that could not be forced
without great loss of life; so the Indians left them, and, after having
collected all the horses and the booty they thought worth taking away,
they burnt the waggons and returned to their own camp.

As we quitted the spot, I could not help occasionally casting a glance
behind me, and the spectacle was truly magnificent. Hundreds of barrels,
full of grease, salt pork, gin, and whisky, were burning, and the
conflagration had now extended to the grass and the dry bushes.

We had scarcely crossed the river when the morning breeze sprung up, and
now the flames extended in every direction, gaining rapidly upon the
spot where the remaining Texans had stood at bay. So fiercely and
abruptly did the flames rush upon them, that all simultaneously, men and
horses, darted into the water for shelter against the devouring element.
Many were drowned in the whirlpools, and those who succeeded in reaching
the opposite shore were too miserable and weak to think of anything,
except of regaining, if possible, the southern settlements.

Though protected from the immediate reach of the flames by the branch of
the river upon the shore of which we were encamped, the heat had become
so intense, that we were obliged to shift farther to the west. Except in
the supply of arms and ammunition, we perceived that our booty was worth
nothing. This Texan expedition must have been composed of a very
beggarly set, for there was not a single yard of linen, nor a miserable
worn-out pair of trousers, to be found in all their bundles and boxes.

Among the horses taken, some thirty or forty were immediately identified
by the Comanches as their own property, many of them, during the
preceding year, having been stolen by a party of Texans, who had invited
the Indians to a grand council. Gabriel, Roche, and I, of course, would
accept none of the booty; and as time was now becoming to me a question
of great importance, we bade farewell to our Comanche friends, and
pursued our journey east, in company with the five Americans.

During the action, the Comanches had had forty men wounded and only nine
killed. Yet, two months afterwards, I read in one of the American
newspapers a very singular account of the action. It was a report of
General Smith, commandant of the central force of Texas, relative to the
glorious expedition against the savages, in which the gallant soldiers
of the infant republic had achieved the most wonderful exploits. It
said, "That General Smith having been apprised, by the unfortunate
Captain Hunt, that five thousand savages had destroyed the rising city
of Lewisburg, and murdered all the inhabitants, had immediately hastened
with his intrepid fellows to the neighbourhood of the scene; that there,
during the night, and when every man was broken down with fatigue, they
were attacked by the whole force of the Indians, who had with them some
twenty half-breeds and French and English traders. In spite of their
disadvantages, the Texans repulsed the Comanches with considerable loss,
till the morning, when the men were literally tired with killing, and
the prairie was covered with the corpses of two thousand savages; the
Texans themselves having lost but thirty or forty men, and these people
of little consequence, being emigrants recently arrived from the States.
During the day, the stench became so intolerable, that General Smith
caused the prairie to be set on fire, and crossing the river, returned
home by slow marches, knowing it would be quite useless to pursue the
Comanches in the wild and broken prairies of the north. Only one Texan
of note had perished during the conflict--the brave and unfortunate
Captain Hunt; so that, upon the whole, considering the number of the
enemy, the republic may consider this expedition as the most glorious
enterprise since the declaration of Texan independence."

The paragraph went on in this manner till it filled three close columns,
and as a finale, the ex-butcher made an appeal to all the generous and
"liberty-loving" sons of the United States and Texas, complaining
bitterly against the cabinets of St. James and the Tuileries, who,
jealous of the prosperity and glory of Texas, had evidently sent agents
(trappers and half-breeds) to excite the savages, through malice, envy,
and hatred of the untarnished name and honour of the great North
American Republic.

The five Americans who accompanied us were of a superior class, three
of them from Virginia, and two from Maryland, Their history was that of
many others of their countrymen, Three of them had studied the law, one
divinity, and the other medicine. Having no opening for the exercise of
their profession at home, they had gone westward, to carve a fortune in
the new States; but there everything was in such a state of anarchy that
they could not earn their subsistence; they removed farther west, until
they entered Texas, "a country sprung up but yesterday, and where an
immense wealth can be made." They found, on their arrival at this
anticipated paradise, their chances of success in their profession still
worse than in their own country. The lawyers discovered that, on a
moderate computation, there were not less than ten thousand attorneys in
Texas, who had emigrated from the Eastern States; the president, the
secretaries, constables, tavern-keepers, generals, privates, sailors,
porters, and horse-thieves were all of them originally lawyers, or had
been brought up to that profession.

As to the doctor, he soon found that the apologue of the "wolf and the
stork" had been written purposely for medical practice in Texas, for as
soon as he had cured a patient (picked the bone out of his throat), he
had to consider himself very lucky if he could escape from half-a-dozen
inches of the bowie-knife, by way of recompense; moreover, every visit
cost him his pocket-handkerchief or his 'bacco-box, if he had any. I
have to remark here, that kerchief-taking is a most common joke in
Texas, and I wonder very much at it, as no individual of the male
species, in that promised land, will ever apply that commodity to its
right use, employing for that purpose the pair of snuffers which natural
instinct has supplied him with. At the same time, it must be admitted
that no professional man can expect employment, without he can flourish
a pocket-handkerchief.

As for the divine, he soon found that religion was not a commodity
required in so young a country, and that he might just as well have
speculated in sending a cargo of skates to the West Indies, or supplying
Mussulmans with swine. The merits of the voluntary system had not been
yet appreciated in Texas; and if he did preach, he had to preach by
himself, not being able to obtain a clerk to make the responses.

As we travelled along the dreary prairies, these five Eldorado seekers
proved to be jovial fellows, and there was about them an elasticity of
temper which did not allow them to despond. The divine had made up his
mind to go to Rome, and convert the Pope, who, after all, was a clever
old _bon vivant_; the doctor would go to Edinburgh, and get selected,
from his superior skill, as president of the Surgical College; one of
the lawyers determined he would "run for legislature," or keep a bar (a
whisky one); the second wished to join the Mormons, who were a set of
clever blackguards; and the third thought of going to China, to teach
the celestial brother of the sun to use the Kentucky rifle and "brush
the English." Some individuals in England have reproached me with
indulging too much in building castles in the air; but certainly,
compared to those of a Yankee in search after wealth, mine have been
most sober speculations.

Each of our new companions had some little Texan history to relate,
which they declared to be the most rascally, but _smartish_ trick in the
world. One of the lawyers was once summoned before a magistrate, and a
false New Orleans fifty-dollar bank-note was presented to him, as the
identical one he had given to the clerk of Tremont House (the great
hotel at Galveston), in payment of his weekly bill. Now, the lawyer had
often dreamed of fifties, hundreds, and even of thousands; but fortune
had been so fickle with him, that he had never been in possession of
bank-notes higher than five or ten dollars, except one of the glorious
Cairo Bank twenty-dollar notes, which his father presented to him in
Baltimore, when he advised him most paternally to try his luck in
the West.

By the bye, that twenty-dollar Cairo note's adventures should be written
in gold letters, for it enabled the traveller to eat, sleep, and drink,
free of cost, from Louisville to St. Louis, through Indiana and
Illinois; any tavern-keeper preferring losing the price of a bed, or of
a meal, sooner than run the risk of returning good change for bad money.
The note was finally changed in St. Louis for a three-dollar, bank of
Springfield, which being yet current, at a discount of four cents to the
dollar, enabled the fortunate owner to take his last tumbler of
port-wine sangaree before his departure for Texas.

Of course, the lawyer had no remorse of conscience, in swearing that
the note had never been his, but the tavern-keeper and two witnesses
swore to his having given it, and the poor fellow was condemned to
recash and pay expenses. Having not a cent, he was allowed to go, for it
so happened that the gaol was not built for such vagabonds, but for the
government officers, who had their sleeping apartments in it. This
circumstance occasioned it to be remarked by a few commonly honest
people of Galveston, that if the gates of the gaol were closed at night,
the community would be much improved.

Three days afterwards, a poor captain, from a Boston vessel, was
summoned for the very identical bank-note, which he was obliged to pay,
though he had never set his foot into the Tremont Hotel.

There is in Galveston a new-invented trade, called "the rag-trade,"
which is very profitable. I refer to the purchasing and selling of false
bank-notes, which are, as in the lawyer's case, palmed upon any stranger
suspected of having money. On such occasions, the magistrate and the
plaintiff share the booty. I may as well here add a fact which is well
known in France and the United States. Eight days after the Marquis de
Saligny's (French chargé d'affaires) arrival in Houston, he was summoned
before a magistrate, and upon the oaths of the parties, found guilty of
having passed seven hundred dollars in false notes to a land speculator.
He paid the money, but as he never had had in his possession any money,
except French gold and notes of the Banque de France, he complained to
his government; and this specimen of Texan honesty was the principal
cause why the banker (Lafitte) suddenly broke the arrangement he had
entered into with General Hamilton (chargé d'affaires from Texas to
England and France) for a loan of seven millions of dollars.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


We had now entered a tract of land similar to that which we had
travelled over when on our route from the Wakoes to the Comanches. The
prairie was often intersected by chasms, the bottoms of which were
perfectly dry, so that we could procure water but once every twenty-four
hours, and that, too often so hot and so muddy, that even our poor
horses would not drink it freely. They had, however, the advantage over
us in point of feeding, for the grass was sweet and tender, and
moistened during night by the heavy dews; as for ourselves, we were
beginning to starve in earnest.

We had anticipated regaling ourselves with the juicy humps of the
buffaloes which we should kill, but although we had entered the very
heart of their great pasture-land, we had not met with one, nor even
with a ground-hog; a snake, or a frog. One evening, the pangs of hunger
became so sharp that we were obliged to chew tobacco and pieces of
leather to allay our cravings; and we determined that if, the next day
at sunset we had no better fortune, we would draw lots to kill one of
our horses. That evening we could not sleep, and as murmuring was of no
avail, the divine entertained us with a Texan story, just, as he said,
to pump the superfluous air out of his body. I shall give it in his
own terms:--

"Well, I was coming down the Wabash River (Indiana), when, as it happens
nine times out of ten, the steam-boat got aground, and that so firmly,
that there was no hope of her floating again till the next flood; so I
took my wallet, waded for two hundred yards, with the water to my knees,
till I got safe on shore, upon a thick-timbered bank, full of
rattle-snakes, thorns of the locust-tree, and spiders' webs, so strong,
that I was obliged to cut them with my nose, to clear the way before me.
I soon got so entangled by the vines and the briars that I thought I had
better turn my back to the stream till I should get to the upland, which
I could now and then perceive through the clearings opened between the
trees by recent thunder-storms. Unhappily, between the upland and the
little ridge on which I stood there was a wide river bottom[24], into
which I had scarcely advanced fifty yards when I got bogged. Well, it
took me a long while to get out of my miry hole, where I was as fast as
a swine in its Arkansas sty; and then I looked about for my wallet,
which I had dropped. I could see which way it had gone, for, close to
the yawning circle from which I had just extricated myself, there was
another smaller one two yards off, into which my wallet had sunk deep,
though it was comfortably light; which goes to illustrate the Indiana
saying, that there is no conscience so light but will sink in the bottom
of the Wabash. Well, I did not care much, as in my wallet I had only an
old coloured shirt and a dozen of my own sermons, which I knew by heart,
having repeated them a hundred times over.

[Footnote 24: River bottom is a space, sometimes of many miles in width,
on the side of the river, running parallel with it. It is always very
valuable and productive land, but unhealthy, and dangerous to cross,
from its boggy nature.]

"Being now in a regular fix, I cut a stick, and began wittling and
whistling, to lighten my sorrows, till at last I perceived at the bank
of the river, and five hundred yards ahead, one of those large rafts,
constructed pretty much like Noah's ark, in which a Wabash farmer
embarks his cargo of women and fleas, pigs and chickens, corn, whisky,
rats, sheep, and stolen niggers; indeed, in most cases, the whole of the
cargo is stolen, except the wife and children, the only portion whom the
owner would very much like to be rid of; but these will stick to him as
naturally as a prairie fly to a horse, as long as he has spirits to
drink, pigs to attend to, and breeches to mend.

"Well, as she was close to the bank, I got in. The owner was General
John Meyer, from Vincennes, and his three sons, the colonel, the
captain, and the judge. They lent me a sort of thing, which many years
before had probably been a horse-blanket. With it I covered myself,
while one of the *'boys spread my clothes to dry, and, as I had nothing
left in the world, except thirty dollars in my pocket-book, I kept that
constantly in my hand till the evening, when, my clothes being dried, I
recovered the use of my pocket. The general was free with his 'Wabash
water' (western appellation for whisky), and, finding me to his taste,
as he said, he offered me a passage gratis to New Orleans, if I could
but submit myself to his homely fare; that is to say, salt pork, with
plenty of gravy, four times a day, and a decoction of burnt bran and
grains of maize, going under the name of coffee all over the States--the
whisky was to be _ad libitum_.

"As I considered the terms moderate, I agreed, and the hospitable
general soon entrusted me with his plans. He had gone many times to
Texas; he loved Texas--it was a free country, according to his heart;
and now he had collected all his own (he might have said, 'and other
people's too'), to go to New Orleans, where his pigs and corn, exchanged
against goods, would enable him to settle with his family in Texas in a
gallant style. Upon my inquiring what could be the cause of a certain
abominable smell which pervaded the cabin, he apprized me that, in a
small closet adjoining, he had secured a dozen of runaway negroes, for
the apprehension of whom he would be well rewarded.

"Well, the next morning we went on pretty snugly, and I had nothing to
complain of, except the fleas and the 'gals,' who bothered me not a
little. Three days afterwards we entered the Ohio, and the current being
very strong, I began to think myself fortunate, as I should reach New
Orleans in less than forty days, passage free. We went on till night,
when we stopped, three or four miles from the junction with the
Mississippi. The cabin being very warm, and the deck in possession of
the pigs, I thought I would sleep ashore, under a tree. The general said
it was a capital plan, and, after having drained half a dozen cups of
'stiff, true, downright Yankee No. 1,' we all of us took our blankets (I
mean the white-skinned party), and having lighted a great fire, the
general, the colonel, the major, and the judge lay down,--an example
which I followed as soon as I had neatly folded up my coat and fixed it
upon a bush, with my hat and boots, for I was now getting particular,
and wished to cut a figure in New Orleans; my thoughts running upon
plump and rich widows, which you know are the only provision for us
preachers.

"Well, my dreams were nothing but the continuation of my thoughts during
the day. I fancied I was married, and the owner of a large sugar
plantation. I had a good soft bed, and my pious wife was feeling about
me with her soft hands, probably to see if my heart beat quick, and if I
had good dreams;--a pity I did not awake then, for I should have saved
my dollars, as the hand which I was dreaming of was that of the
hospitable general searching for my pocket-book. It was late when I
opened my eyes--and, lo! the sleepers were gone, with the boat, my
boots, my coat, my hat, and, I soon found, with my money. I had been
left alone, with a greasy Mackinaw blanket, and as in my stupefaction I
gazed all round, and up and down, I saw my pocket-book empty, which the
generous general had humanely left to me to put other notes in, 'when I
could get any.' I kicked it with my foot, and should indubitably have
been food for cat-fish, had I not heard most _à propos_ the puffing of a
steam-boat coming down the river."

At that moment the parson interrupted his narrative, by observing:

"Well, I'd no idea that I had talked so long; why, man, look to the
east, 'tis almost daylight."

And sure enough the horizon of the prairie was skirted with that red
tinge which always announces the break of day in these immense level
solitudes. Our companions had all fallen asleep, and our horses, looking
to the east, snuffed the air and stamped upon the ground, as if to
express their impatience to leave so inhospitable a region, I replied to
the parson:--

"It is now too late for us to think of sleeping; let us stir the fire,
and go on with your story."

We added fuel to the nearly consumed pile, and shaking our blankets,
which were heavy with the dew, my companion resumed his narrative:--

"Well, I reckon it was more than half an hour before the steam-boat came
in sight, and as the channel of the river ran close in with the shore, I
was soon picked up. The boat was going to St. Louis, and as I had not a
cent left to pay my passage, I was obliged, in way of payment, to relate
my adventure. Everybody laughed. All the men declared the joke was
excellent, and that General Meyer was a clever rascal; they told me I
should undoubtedly meet him at New Orleans, but it would be of no use.
Everybody knew Meyer and his pious family, but he was so smart, that
nothing could be done against him. Well, the clerk was a good-humoured
fellow; he lent me an old coat and five dollars; the steward brought me
a pair of slippers, and somebody gave me a worn-out loose cap. This was
very good, but my luck was better still. The cause of my own ruin had
been the grounding of a steam-boat; the same accident happening again
set me on my legs. Just as we turned the southern point of Illinois, we
buried ourselves in a safe bed of mud. It was so common an occurrence,
that nobody cared much about it, except a Philadelphian going to Texas;
he was in a great hurry to go on westward, and no wonder. I learned
afterwards that he had absconded from the bank, of which he was a
cashier, with sixty thousand dollars.

"Well, as I said, we were bogged; patience was necessary, laments were
of no use, so we dined with as much appetite as if nothing had happened,
and some of the regular 'boys' took to 'Yooka,' to kill the time. They
were regular hands, to be sure, but I was myself trump No. 1. Pity we
have no cards with us; it would be amusing to be the first man
introducing that game into the western prairies. Well, I looked on, and
by-and-bye, I got tired of being merely a spectator. My nose itched, my
fingers too. I twisted my five-dollar bill in all senses, till a sharp
took me for a flat, and he proposed kindly to pluck me out-and-out. I
plucked him in less than no time, winning eighty dollars at a sitting;
and when we left off for tea, I felt that I had acquired consequence,
and even merit, for money gives both. During the night I was so
successful, that when I retired to my berth I found myself the owner of
four hundred and fifty dollars, a gold watch, a gold pin, and a silver
'bacco-box. Everything is useful in this world, even getting aground.
Now, I never repine at anything.

"The next day another steam-boat passed, and picked us up. It was one of
those light crafts which speculate upon misfortune; they hunt after
stranded boats, as a wolf after wounded deer--they take off the
passengers, and charge what they please. From Cincinnati to St. Louis
the fare was ten dollars, and the unconscious wreck-seeker of a captain
charged us twenty-five dollars each for the remainder of the trip--one
day's journey. However, I did not care.

"An Arkansas man, who had no more money, sold me, for fifteen dollars,
his wallet, a fine great-coat, two clean shirts, and a hat; from another
I purchased a pair of bran-new, Boston-made, elegant black breeches, so
that when I landed at St. Louis I cut a regular figure, went to
Planter's Hotel, and in the course of a week made a good round sum by
three lectures upon the vanities of the world and the sin of desponding.
Well, to cut matters short--by the bye, there must be something wrong
stirring in the prairie; look at our horses, how uneasy they seem to be.
Don't you hear anything?"

Our horses, indeed, were beginning to grow wild with excitement, and
thinking that their instinct had told them that wolves were near, I tied
them closer to where we bivouacked, and then applied my ears to the
ground, to try and catch any sound.

"I hear no noise," said I, "except the morning breeze passing through
the withered grass. Our horses have been smelling wolves, but the brutes
will not approach our fire."

The parson, who had a great faith in my "white Indian nature," resumed
the thread of his narrative:--

"To cut the matter short, I pass over my trip to New Orleans and
Galveston. Suffice it to say, that I was a gentleman preacher, with
plenty of money, and that the Texans, president, generals, and all,
condescended to eat my dinners, though they would not hear my sermons;
even the women looked softly upon me, for I had two trunks, linen in
plenty, and I had taken the precaution in Louisiana of getting rid of my
shin-plasters for hard specie. I could have married anybody, if I had
wished, from the president's old mother to the barmaid at the tavern. I
had money, and to me all was smiles and sunshine. One day I met General
Meyer; the impudent fellow came immediately to me, shook my hand in
quite a cordial manner, and inquired how my health had been since he had
seen me last. That was more than my professional meekness could endure,
so I reproached him with his rascality and abuse of hospitality towards
me, adding that I expected he would now repay me what he had so
unceremoniously taken from me while I was asleep. General Meyer looked
perfectly aghast, and calling me a liar, a scoundrel, and a villain, he
rushed upon me with his drawn bowie-knife, and would have indubitably
murdered me, had he not been prevented by a tall powerful chap, to whom,
but an hour before, I had lent, or given, five dollars, partly from fear
of him and partly from compassion for his destitution.

"The next day I started for Houston, where I settled, and preached to
old women, children, and negroes, while the white male population were
getting drunk, swearing, and fighting, just before the door of the
church. I had scarcely been there a month when a constable arrested me
on the power of a warrant obtained against me by that rascally Meyer.
Brought up before the magistrate, I was confronted with the blackguard
and five other rascals of his stamp, who positively took their oaths
that they had seen me taking the pocket-book of the general, which he
had left accidentally upon the table in the bar of Tremont's. The
magistrate said, that out of respect for the character of my profession
he would not push the affair to extremities, but that I must immediately
give back the two hundred dollars Meyer said I had stolen from him, and
pay fifty dollars besides for the expenses. In vain I remonstrated my
innocence; no choice was left to me but to pay or go to gaol.

"By that time I knew pretty well the character of the people among whom
I was living; I knew there was no justice to whom I could apply; I
reckoned also that, if once put in gaol, they would not only take the
two hundred and fifty dollars, but also the whole I possessed. So I
submitted, as it was the best I could do; I removed immediately to
another part of Texas, but it would not do. Faith, the Texans are a very
ugly set of gents."

"And Meyer," I interrupted, "what of him?"

"Oh!" replied the parson, "that is another story. Why, he returned to
New Orleans, where, with his three sons, he committed an awful murder
upon the cashier of the legislature; he was getting away with twenty
thousand dollars, but being caught in the act, he was tried, sentenced,
and hanged, with all his hopeful progeny, and the old negro hangman of
New Orleans had the honour of making, in one day, a close acquaintance
with a general, a colonel, a major, and a judge."

"What, talking still!" exclaimed the doctor, yawning: he had just awoke.
"What the devil can you have babbled about during the whole blessed
night? Why, 'tis morn."

Saying this, he took up his watch, looked at it, applied it to his ear,
to see if it had not stopped, and exclaimed:--

"By jingo, but I am only half-past one." The parson drew out his also,
and repeated the same, "half-past one."

At that moment the breeze freshened, and I heard the distant and muffled
noise, which in the West announces either an earthquake, or an
"estampede" of herds of wild cattle and other animals. Our horses, too,
were aware of some danger, for now they were positively mad, struggling
to break the lassoes and escape.

"Up!" I cried, "up! Gabriel, Roche, up!--up, strangers, quick! saddle
your beasts! run for your lives! the prairie is on fire, and the
buffaloes are upon us."

They all started upon their feet, but not a word was exchanged; each
felt the danger of his position; speed was our only resource, if it was
not already too late. In a minute our horses were saddled, in another we
were madly galloping across the prairie, the bridles upon the necks of
our steeds, allowing them to follow their instinct. Such had been our
hurry, that all our blankets were left behind, except that of Gabriel;
the lawyers had never thought of their saddle-bags, and the parson had
forgotten his holsters and his rifle.

For an hour we dashed on with undiminished speed, when we felt the earth
trembling behind us, and soon afterwards the distant bellowing, mixed up
with the roaring and sharper cries of other animals, were borne down
unto our ears. The atmosphere grew oppressive and heavy, while the
flames, swifter than the wind, appeared raging upon the horizon. The
fleeter game of all kinds now shot past us like arrows; deer were
bounding over the ground, in company with wolves and panthers; droves of
elks and antelopes passed swifter than a dream; then a solitary horse or
a huge buffalo-bull. From our intense anxiety, although our horses
strained every nerve, we almost appeared to stand still.

The atmosphere rapidly became more dense, the heat more oppressive, the
roars sounded louder and louder in our ears; now and then they were
mingled with terrific howls and shrill sounds, so unearthly that even
our horses would stop their mad career and tremble, as if they
considered them supernatural; but it was only for a second, and they
dashed on.

A noble stag passed close to us, his strength was exhausted; three
minutes afterwards, we passed him--dead. But soon, with the rushing
noise of a whirlwind, the mass of heavier and less speedy animals closed
upon us: buffaloes and wild horses, all mixed together, an immense dark
body, miles in front, miles in depth; on they came, trampling and
dashing through every obstacle. This phalanx was but two miles from us.
Our horses were nearly exhausted; we gave ourselves up for lost; a few
minutes more, and we should be crushed to atoms.

At that moment, the sonorous voice of Gabriel was heard, firm and
imperative. He had long been accustomed to danger, and now he faced it
with his indomitable energy, as if such scenes were his proper
element:--"Down from your horses," cried he; "let two of you keep them
steady. Strip off your shirts, linen, anything that will catch fire;
quick, not a minute is to be lost." Saying this, he ignited some tinder
with the pan of his pistol, and was soon busy in making a fire with all
the clothes we now threw to him. Then we tore up withered grass and
Buffalo-dung, and dashed them on the heap.

Before three minutes had passed, our fire burned fiercely. On came the
terrified mass of animals, and perceiving the flame of our fire before
them, they roared with rage and terror, yet they turned not, as we had
hoped. On they came, and already we could distinguish their horns, their
feet, and the white foam; our fuel was burning out, the flames were
lowering; the parson gave a scream, and fainted. On came the maddened
myriads, nearer and nearer; I could see their wild eyes glaring; they
wheeled not, opened not a passage, but came on like messengers of
death--nearer--nearer--nearer still. My brain reeled, my eyes grew dim;
it was horrible, most horrible! I dashed down with my face covered, to
meet my fate.

At that moment I heard an explosion, then a roar, as if proceeding from
ten millions of buffalo-bulls--so stunning, so stupifying was the sound
from the mass of animals, not twenty yards from us. Each moment I
expected the hoofs which were to trample us to atoms; and yet, death
came not. I only heard the rushing as of a mighty wind and the trembling
of the earth. I raised my head and looked.

Gabriel at the critical moment had poured some whisky upon the flames,
the leathern bottle had exploded, with a blaze like lightning, and, at
the expense of thousands crushed to death, the animals had swerved from
contact with the fierce, blue column of fire which had been created.
Before and behind, all around us, we could see nothing but the shaggy
wool of the huge monsters; not a crevice was to be seen in the flying
masses, but the narrow line which had been opened to avoid our fire.

In this dangerous position we remained for one hour, our lives depending
upon the animals not closing the line: but Providence watched over us,
and after what appeared an eternity of intense suspense, the columns
became thinner and thinner, till we found ourselves only encircled with
the weaker and more exhausted animals which brought up the rear. Our
first danger was over, but we had still to escape from one as
imminent--the pursuing flame, now so much closer to us. The whole
prairie behind us was on fire, and the roaring element was gaining on us
with a frightful speed. Once more we sprang upon our saddles, and the
horses, with recovered wind and with strength tenfold increased by their
fear, soon brought us to the rear of the buffaloes.

It was an awful sight! a sea of fire roaring in its fury, with Its
heaving waves and unearthly hisses, approaching nearer and nearer,
rushing on swifter than the sharp morning breeze. Had we not just
escaped so unexpectedly a danger almost as terrible, we should have
despaired and left off an apparently useless struggle for our lives.

Away we dashed, over hills and down declivities; for now the ground had
become more broken. The fire was gaining fast upon us, when we perceived
that, a mile ahead, the immense herds before us had entered a deep,
broad chasm, into which they dashed, thousands upon thousands, tumbling
headlong into the abyss. But now, the fire rushing quicker, blazing
fiercer than before, as if determined not to lose its prey, curled its
waves above our heads, smothering us with its heat and lurid smoke.

A few seconds more we spurred in agony; speed was life; the chasm was to
be our preservation or our tomb. Down we darted? actually borne upon the
backs of the descending mass, and landed, without sense or motion, more
than a hundred feet below. As soon as we recovered from the shock, we
found that we had been most mercifully preserved; strange to say,
neither horse nor rider had received any serious injury. We heard, above
our heads, the hissing and cracking of the fire; we contemplated with
awe the flames, which were roaring along the edge of the precipice--now
rising, now lowering, just as if they would leap over the space and
annihilate all life in these western solitudes.

We were preserved; our fall had been broken by the animals, who had
taken a leap a second before us, and by the thousands of bodies which
were heaped up as a hecatomb, and received us as a cushion below. With
difficulty we extricated ourselves and horses, and descending the mass
of carcasses, we at last succeeded in reaching a few acres of clear
ground. It was elevated a few feet above the water of the torrent, which
ran through the ravine, and offered to our broken-down horses a
magnificent pasture of sweet blue grass. But the poor things were too
terrified and exhausted, and they stretched themselves down upon the
ground, a painful spectacle of utter helplessness.

We perceived that the crowds of flying animals had succeeded in finding,
some way further down an ascent to the opposite prairie; and as the
earth and rocks still trembled, we knew that the "estampede" had not
ceased, and that the millions of fugitives had resumed their mad career.
Indeed there was still danger, for the wind was high, and carried before
it large sheets of flames to the opposite side, where the dried grass
and bushes soon became ignited, and the destructive element thus passed
the chasm and continued its pursuit.

We congratulated ourselves upon having thus found security, and returned
thanks to heaven for our wonderful escape; and as we were now safe from
immediate danger, we lighted a fire and feasted upon a young
buffalo-calf, every bone of which we found had been broken into
splinters[25].

[Footnote 25: I have said, at a venture, that we descended more than a
hundred feet into the chasm before we fairly landed on the bodies of the
animals. The chasm itself could not have been less than two hundred and
fifty to three hundred feet deep at the part that we plunged down. This
will give the reader some idea of the vast quantity of bodies of
animals, chiefly buffaloes, which were there piled up. I consider that
this pile must have been formed wholly from the foremost of the mass,
and that when formed, it broke the fall of the others, who followed
them, as it did our own: indeed, the summit of the heap was pounded into
a sort of jelly.]



CHAPTER XXIX.


Two days did we remain in our shelter, to regain our strength and to
rest our horses. Thus deeply buried in the bosom of the earth, we were
safe from the devastating elements. On the second day we heard
tremendous claps of thunder; we knew that a storm was raging which would
quench the fire, but we cared little about what was going on above.

We had plenty to eat and to drink, our steeds were recovering fast, and,
in spite of the horrors we had just undergone, we were not a little
amused by the lamentations of the parson, who, recollecting the
destruction of his shirts, forgot his professional duty, and swore
against Texas and the Texans, against the prairies, the buffaloes, and
the fire: the last event had produced so deep an impression upon his
mind, that he preferred shivering all night by the banks of the torrent
to sleeping near our comfortable fire; and as to eating of the delicate
food before him, it was out of the question; he would suck it, but not
masticate nor swallow it; his stomach and his teeth refused to
accomplish their functions upon the abhorred meat; and he solemnly
declared that never again would he taste beef--cow or calf--- tame or
wild--even if he were starving.

One of the lawyers, too, was loud in his complaints, for although born
in the States, he had in his veins no few drops of Irish blood, and
could not forget the sacrifice Gabriel had made of the whisky. "Such
stuff!" he would exclaim, "the best that ever came into this land of
abomination, to be thrown in the face of dirty buffaloes: the devil take
them! Eh! Monsheer Owato Wanisha,--queer outlandish name,
by-the-bye,--please to pass me another slice of the varmint (meaning the
buffalo-calf). Bless my soul, if I did not think, at one time, it was
after the liquor the brutes were running!"

Upon the morning of the third day, we resumed our journey, following the
stream down for a few miles, over thousands of dead animals, which the
now foaming torrent could not wash away. We struck the winding path
which the "estampedados" had taken; and as it had been worked by the
millions of fugitives into a gentle ascent, we found ourselves long
before noon, once more upon the level of the prairie. What a spectacle
of gloom and death! As far as the eye could reach, the earth was naked
and blackened. Not a stem of grass, not a bush, had escaped the awful
conflagration; and thousands of half-burnt bodies of deer, buffaloes,
and mustangs covered the prairie in every direction.

The horizon before us was concealed by a high and rugged ridge of the
rolling prairie, towards which we proceeded but slowly, so completely
was the track made by the buffaloes choked by burnt bodies of all
descriptions of animals. At last we reached the summit of the swell, and
perceived that we were upon one of the head branches of the Trinity
River, forming a kind of oblong lake, a mile broad, but exceedingly
shallow; the bottom was of a hard white sandy formation, and as we
crossed this beautiful sheet of clear water, the bottom appeared to be
studded with grains of gold and crystals.

This brought round the characteristic elasticity of temper belonging to
the Americans, and caused the doctor to give way to his mental
speculations:--He would not go to Edinburgh; it was nonsense; here was a
fortune made. He would form a company in New York, capital one million
of dollars--the Gold, Emerald, Topaz, Sapphire, and Amethyst
Association, in ten thousand shares, one hundred dollars a-piece. In
five years he would be the richest man in the world; he would build ten
cities on the Mississippi, and would give powder and lead to the
Comanches for nothing, so that they could at once clear the world of
Texans and buffaloes. He had scarcely finished, when we reached the
other side of the lake; there we had to pass over a narrow ridge,
covered with green bushes, but now torn and trampled down; the herds had
passed over there, and the fire had been extinguished by the waters of
this "fairy lake," for so we had baptized it. Half an hour more brought
us clear out from the cover, and a most strange and unusual sight was
presented to our eyes.

On a rich and beautiful prairie, green and red, the wild clover and the
roses, and occasionally a plum-tree, varying the hues were lying
prostrate, as far as the eye could reach, hundreds of thousands of
animals of all species, some quietly licking their tired limbs, and
others extending their necks, without rising, to graze upon the soft
grass around them. The sight was beautiful above all description, and
recalled to mind the engravings of the creation affixed to the old
Bibles. Wolves and panthers were lying but a few paces from a small
flock of antelopes; buffaloes, bears, and horses were mixed together,
every one of them incapable of moving from the spot on which they had
dropped from exhaustion and fatigue.

We passed a large jaguar, glaring fiercely at a calf ten feet from him;
on seeing us, he attempted to rise, but, utterly helpless, he bent his
body so as to form a circle, concealing his head upon his breast under
his huge paws, and uttered a low growl, half menacing, half plaintive.
Had we had powder to waste, we would certainly have rid the gramnivorous
from many of their carnivorous neighbours, but we were now entering a
tract of country celebrated for the depredations of the Texans and
Buggles free bands, and every charge of powder thrown away was a chance
the less, in case of a fight.

As by this time our horses were in want of rest, we took off their
saddles, and the poor things feasted better than they had done for a
long while. As for us, we had fortunately still a good supply of the
cold calf, for we felt a repugnance to cut the throats of any of the
poor broken-down creatures before us. Close to us there was a fine
noble stag, for which I immediately took a fancy. He was so worn out
that he could not even move a few inches to get at the grass, and his
dried, parched tongue showed plainly how much he suffered from the want
of water. I pulled up two or three handfuls of clover, which I presented
to him; but though he tried to swallow it, he could not.

As there was a water-hole some twenty yards off, I took the doctor's fur
cap, and filling it with water, returned to the stag. What an expressive
glance! What beautiful eyes! I sprinkled at first some drops upon his
tongue, and then, putting the water under his nose, he soon drained it
up. My companions became so much interested with the sufferings of the
poor animals, that they took as many of the young fawns as they could,
carrying them to the edge of the water-hole, that they might regain
their strength and fly away before the wolves could attack them.

Upon my presenting a second capful of water to the stag, the grateful
animal licked my hands, and, after having drunk, tried to rise to follow
me, but its strength failing, its glances followed me as I was walking
to and fro; they spoke volumes; I could understand their meaning. I hate
to hear of the superiority of man! Man is ungrateful as a viper, while a
horse, a dog, and many others of the "soulless brutes," will never
forget a kindness.

I wondered what had become of our three lawyers, who had wandered away
without their rifles, and had been more than two hours absent. I was
about to propose a search after them when they arrived, with their
knives and tomahawks, and their clothes all smeared with blood. They had
gone upon a cruise against the wolves, and had killed the brutes until
they were tired and had no more strength to use their arms.

The reader, comfortably seated in his elbow-chair, cannot comprehend the
hatred which a prairie traveller nourishes against the wolves. As soon
as we found out what these three champions of the wilderness had been
about, we resolved to encamp there for the night, that we might destroy
as many as we could of these prairie sharks. Broken-down as they were,
there was no danger attending the expedition, and, tightening on our
belts, and securing our pistols, in case of an attack from a recovering
panther, we started upon our butchering expedition. On our way we met
with some fierce-looking jaguars, which we did not think it prudent to
attack, so we let them alone, and soon found occupation enough for our
knives and tomahawks among a close-packed herd of wolves.

How many of these detested brutes we killed I cannot say, but we did not
leave off until our hands had become powerless from exhaustion, and our
tomahawks were so blunted as to be rendered of no use. When we left the
scene of massacre, we had to pass over a pool of blood ankle-deep, and
such was the howling of those who were not quite dead, that the deer and
elk were in every direction struggling to rise and fly[26]. We had been
employed more than four hours in our work of destruction, when we
returned to the camp, tired and hungry. Roche had picked up a bear-cub,
which the doctor skinned and cooked for us while we were taking our
round to see how our _protégés_ were going on. All those that had been
brought up to the water-hole were so far recovered that they were
grazing about, and bounded away as soon as we attempted to near them. My
stag was grazing also, but he allowed me to caress him, just as if we
had been old friends, and he never left the place until the next
morning, when we ourselves started.

[Footnote 26: The prairie wolf is a very different animal from the
common wolf and will be understood by the reader when I give a
description of the animals found in California and Texas.]

The doctor called us for our evening meal, to which we did honour, for,
in addition to his wonderful culinary talents, he knew some plants,
common in the prairies, which can impart even to a bear's chop a most
savoury and aromatic flavour. He was in high glee, as we praised his
skill, and so excited did he become, that he gave up his proposal of the
"Gold, Emerald, Topaz, Sapphire, and Amethyst Association, in ten
thousand shares," and vowed he would cast away his lancet and turn cook
in the service of some _bon vivant_, or go to feed the padres of a
Mexican convent. He boasted that he could cook the toughest old woman,
so as to make the flesh appear as white, soft, and sweet as that of a
spring chicken; but upon my proposing to send him, as a _cordon bleu_,
to the Cayugas, in West Texas, or among the Club Indians, of the
Colorado of the West, he changed his mind again, and formed new plans
for the regeneration of the natives of America.

After our supper, we rode our horses to the lake, to water and bathe
them, which duty being performed, we sought that repose which we were
doomed not to enjoy; for we had scarcely shut our eyes when a tremendous
shower fell upon us, and in a few minutes we were drenched to the skin.
The reader may recollect that, excepting Gabriel, we had all of us left
our blankets on the spot where we had at first descried the prairie was
in flames, so that we were now shivering with cold, and, what was worse,
the violence of the rain was such, that we could not keep our fire
alive. It was an ugly night, to be sure; but the cool shower saved the
panting and thirsty animals, for whose sufferings we had felt so much.
All night we heard the deer and antelopes trotting and scampering
towards the lake; twice or thrice the distant roars of the panthers
showed that these terrible animals were quitting our neighbourhood, and
the fierce growling of the contending wolves told us plainly that, if
they were not strong enough to run, they could at least crawl and prey
upon their own dead. It has been asserted that wolves do not prey upon
their own species, but it is a mistake, for I have often seen them
attacking, tearing, and eating each other.

The warm rays of the morning sun at last dispersed the gloom and clouds
of night; deer, elks, and antelopes were all gone except my own stag, to
which I gave a handful of salt, as I had some in my saddle-bags. Some
few mustangs and buffaloes were grazing, but the larger portion,
extending as far as the eye could reach, were still prostrate on the
grass. As to the wolves, either from their greater fatigue they had
undergone, or from their being glutted with the blood and flesh of their
companions, they seemed stiffer than ever. We watered our horses,
replenished our flasks, and, after a hearty meal upon the cold flesh of
the bear, we resumed our journey to warm ourselves by exercise and dry
our clothes, for we were wet to the skin, and benumbed with cold.

The reader may be surprised at these wild animals being in the state of
utter exhaustion which I have described; but he must be reminded that,
in all probability, this prairie fire had driven them before it for
hundreds of miles, and that at a speed unusual to them, and which
nothing but a panic could have produced. I think it very probable that
the fire ran over an extent of five hundred miles; and my reason for so
estimating it is, the exhausted state of the carnivorous animals.

A panther can pass over two hundred miles or more at full speed without
great exhaustion; so would a jaguar, or, indeed an elk.

I do not mean to say that all the animals, as the buffaloes, mustangs,
deer, &c., had run this distance; of course, as the fire rolled on, the
animals were gradually collected, till they had formed the astounding
mass which I have described, and thousands had probably already
perished, long before the fire had reached the prairie where we were
encamped; still I have at other times witnessed the extraordinary
exertions which animals are capable of when under the influence of fear.
At one estampede, I knew some oxen, with their yokes on their necks, to
accomplish sixty miles in four hours.

On another occasion, on the eastern shores of the Vermilion Sea, I
witnessed an estampede, and, returning twelve days afterwards, I found
the animals still lying in every direction on the prairie, although much
recovered from their fatigue. On this last occasion, the prairie had
been burnt for three hundred miles, from east to west, and there is no
doubt but that the animals had estampedoed the whole distance at the
utmost of their speed.

Our horses having quite recovered from their past fatigue, we started at
a brisk canter, under the beams of a genial sun, and soon felt the warm
blood stirring in our veins. We had proceeded about six or seven miles,
skirting the edge of the mass of buffaloes reclining on the prairie,
when we witnessed a scene which filled us with pity. Fourteen hungry
wolves, reeling and staggering with weakness, were attacking a splendid
black stallion, which was so exhausted, that he could not get up upon
his legs. His neck and sides were already covered with wounds, and his
agony was terrible. Now, the horse is too noble an animal not to find a
protector in man against such bloodthirsty foes; so we dismounted and
despatched the whole of his assailants; but as the poor stallion was
wounded beyond all cure, and would indubitably have fallen a prey to
another pack of his prairie foes, we also despatched him with a shot of
a rifle. It was an act of humanity, but still the destruction of this
noble animal in the wilderness threw a gloom over our spirits. The
doctor perceiving this, thought it advisable to enliven us with the
following story:--

"All the New York amateurs of oysters know well the most jovial
tavern-keeper in the world, old Slick Bradley, the owner of the
'Franklin,' in Pearl-street. When you go to New York, mind to call upon
him, and if you have any relish for a cool sangaree, a mint-julep, or a
savoury oyster-soup, none can make it better than Slick Bradley.
Besides, his bar is snug, his little busy wife neat and polite, and if
you are inclined to a spree, his private rooms up-stairs are comfortable
as can be.

"Old Slick is good-humoured and always laughing; proud of his cellar, of
his house, of his wife, and, above all, proud of the sign-post hanging
before his door; that is to say, a yellow head of Franklin, painted by
some bilious chap, who looked in the glass for a model.

"Now Slick has kept house for more than forty years, and though he has
made up a pretty round sum, he don't wish to leave off the business. No!
till the day of his death he will remain in his bar, smoking his
Havanas, and mechanically playing with the two pocket-books in his deep
waistcoat pockets--one for the ten-dollar notes and above, the other for
the fives, and under. Slick Bradley is the most independent man in the
world; he jokes familiarly with his customers, and besides their bill of
fare, he knows how to get more of their money by betting, for betting is
the great passion of Slick; he will bet anything, upon everything:
contradict him in what he says, and down come the two pocket-books under
your nose. 'I know better,' he will say, 'don't I? What will you
bet--five, ten, fifty, hundred? Tush! you dare not bet, you know you are
wrong;' and with an air of superiority and self-satisfaction, he will
take long strides over his well-washed floor, repeating, 'I
know better.'

"Slick used once to boast that he had never lost a bet; but since a
little incident which made all New York laugh at him, he confesses that
he did once meet with his match, for though he certainly won the bet, he
had paid the stakes fifty times over. Now, as I heard the circumstance
from the jolly landlord himself, here it goes, just as I had it, neither
more nor less.

"One day, two smart young fellows entered the Franklin; they alighted
from a cab, and were dressed in the tip-top of fashion. As they were new
customers, the landlord was all smiles and courtesy, conducted them into
saloon No. 1, and making it up in his mind that his guests could be
nothing less than Wall street superfines, he resolved that they should
not complain of his fare.

"A splendid dinner was served to them, with sundry bottles of old wines
and choice Havanas, and the worthy host was reckoning in his mind all
the items he could decently introduce in the bill, when ding, ding, went
the bell, and away he goes up stairs, capering, jumping, smiling, and
holding his two hands before his bow window in front.

"'Eh, old Slick,' said one of the sparks, 'capital dinner, by Jove; good
wine, fine cigars; plenty of customers, eh?'

"Slick winked; he was in all his glory, proud and happy.

"'Nothing better in life than a good dinner,' resumed the spark No. 1;
'some eat only to live--they are fools; I live only to eat, that is the
true philosophy. Come, old chap, let us have your bill, and mind, make
it out as for old customers, for we intend to return often; don't we?'

"This last part of the sentence was addressed to spark No. 2, who, with
his legs comfortably over the corner of the table, was picking his teeth
with his fork.

"'I shall, by jingo!' slowly drawled out No. 2, 'dine well here! d---d
comfortable; nothing wanted but the champagne.'

"'Lord, Lord! gentlemen,' exclaimed Slick, 'why did you not say so? Why,
I have the best in town.'

"'Faith, have you?' said No. 1, smacking his lips; 'now have you the
real genuine stuff? Why then bring a bottle, landlord, and you must join
us; bring three glasses; by Jove, we will drink your health.'

"When Slick returned, he found his customers in high glee, and so
convulsive was their merriment that they were obliged to hold their
sides. Slick laughed too, yet losing no time; in a moment he presented
the gentlemen with the sparkling liquor. They took their glasses, drank
his health, and then recommenced their mirth.

"'And so you lost the wager?' asked No. 2.

"'Yes, by Heaven, I paid the hundred dollars, and, what was worse, was
laughed at by everybody.'

"Slick was sadly puzzled; the young men had been laughing, they were now
talking of a bet, and he knew nothing of it. He was mightily
inquisitive; and knowing, by experience, that wine opens the heart and
unlooses the tongue, he made an attempt to ascertain the cause of the
merriment.

"'I beg your pardon, gentlemen, if I make too bold; but please, what was
the subject of the wager, the recollection of which puts you in so good
a humour?'

"'I'll tell you,' exclaimed No. 1, 'and you will see what a fool I have
made of myself. You must know that it is impossible to follow the
pendulum of the clock with the hand, and to repeat "Here she goes--there
see goes," just as it swings to and fro, that is when people are talking
all round you, as it puts you out. One day I was with a set of jolly
fellows in a dining-room, with a clock just like this in your room; the
conversation fell upon the difficulty of going on "Here she goes," and
"there she goes," for half an hour, without making a mistake. Well, I
thought it was the easiest thing in the world to do it; and upon my
saying so, I was defied to do it: the consequence was the bet of a
hundred dollars, and, having agreed that they could talk to me as much
as they pleased, but not touch me, I posted myself before the clock and
went on--"Here she goes, there she goes," while some of my companions
began singing, some shouting, and some laughing. Well, after three
minutes I felt that the task was much more difficult than I had
expected; but yet I went on, till I heard somebody saying, "As I am
alive there is Miss Reynolds walking arm-in-arm with that lucky dog,
Jenkins." Now, you must know, landlord, that Miss Reynolds was my
sweetheart, and Jenkins my greatest enemy, so I rushed to the window to
see if it was true, and at that moment a roar of laughter announced to
me that I had lost the bet.'

"Now, Slick Bradley, as I have said, was very fond of betting. Moreover,
he prided himself not a little upon his self-command, and as he had not
any mistress to be jealous of, as soon as the gentleman had finished his
story he came at once to the point.

"'Well,' said he, 'you lost the wager, but it don't signify. I think
myself, as you did, that it is the easiest thing in the world. I am sure
I could do it half an hour, aye, and an hour too.'

"The gentlemen laughed, and said they knew better, and the now excited
host proposed, if the liberty did not offend them, to make any bet that
he could do it for half an hour. At first they objected, under the plea
that they would not like to win his money, as they were certain he had
no chance; but upon his insisting, they consented to bet twenty
dollars; and Slick, putting himself face to face with his great
grandfather's clock, began following the pendulum with his hand,
repeating 'Here she goes, there she goes.'

"The two gentlemen discovered many wonderful things through the window:
first a sailor had murdered a woman, next the stage had just capsized,
and afterwards they were sure that the shop next door was on fire. Slick
winked and smiled complacently, without leaving his position. He was too
old a fox to be taken by such childish tricks. All at once, No. 2
observed to No. 1, that the bet would not keep good, as the stakes had
not been laid down, and both addressed the host at the same time, 'Not
cunning enough for me,' thought Slick; and poking his left hand into the
right pocket of his waistcoat, he took out his pocket-book containing
the larger notes, and handed it to his customers.

"'Now,' exclaimed No. 2 to his companion, 'I am sure you will lose the
wager; the fellow is imperturbable; nothing can move him.'

"'Wait a bit; I'll soon make him leave off,' whispered the other, loud
enough for Slick to hear him.

"'Landlord,' continued he, 'we trust to your honour to go on for half an
hour; we will now have a talk with bonny Mrs. Slick.' Saying this, they
quitted the room without closing the door.

"Slick was not jealous; not he. Besides, the bar was full of people; it
was all a trick of the gents, who were behind the door watching him.
After all, they were but novices, and he would win their money: he only
regretted that the bet had not been heavier.

"Twenty minutes had fairly passed, when Slick's own little boy entered
the room. 'Pa,' said he, 'there is a gemman what wants you below in
the bar.'

"'Another trick,' thought the landlord; 'they shan't have me,
though.--Here she goes, there she goes.' And as the boy approached near
to him to repeat his errand, Slick gave him a kick. 'Get away. Here she
goes, there she goes.'

"The boy went away crying, and soon returned with Mrs. Slick, who cried
in an angry tone, 'Now, don't make a fool of yourself; the gentleman you
sold the town-lot to is below with the money.'

"'They shan't have me, though,' said Slick to himself. And to all the
invectives and reproaches of Mrs. Slick he answered only with, 'Here she
goes? there she goes.' At last the long needle marked the half hour, and
the landlord, having won the wager, turned round.

"'Where are they?' said he to his wife.

"'They?-who do you mean?' answered she.

"'The two gentlemen, to be sure.'

"'Why, they have been gone these last twenty minutes,'

"Slick was thunderstruck. 'And the pocket-book?' he uttered,
convulsively.

"His wife looked at him with ineffable contempt.

"'Why, you fool, you did not give them your money, did you?'

"Slick soon discovered that he was minus five hundred dollars, besides
the price of the two dinners. Since that time he never bets but cash
down, and in the presence of witnesses."



CHAPTER XXX.


We continued our route for a few days after we had left the buffaloes,
and now turned our horses' heads due east. Having left behind the
localities frequented by the wild herds, we soon became exposed to the
cravings of hunger. Now and then we would fall in with a prairie hen, a
turkey, or a few rattlesnakes, but the deer and antelopes were so shy,
that though we could see them sporting at a distance, we could never
come within a mile of them.

The ground was level, and the grass, although short, was excellent
pasture, and richly enamelled with a variety of flowers. It was a
beautiful country. We had fine weather during the day, but the nights
were exceedingly cold, and the dew heavy. Having lost our blankets, we
passed miserable nights. There was no fuel with which we could light our
fire; even the dung of animals was so scarce that we could not, during
seven days, afford to cook our scanty meals more than thrice, and the
four last grouse that we killed were eaten raw.

About the middle of the eighth day a dark line was seen rising above the
horizon, far in the south-east, and extending as far as the eye could
reach. We knew it was a forest, and that when we gained it we were
certain of having plenty to eat; but it was very far off, at least
twenty miles, and we were much exhausted. In the evening we were almost
driven to desperation by hunger, and we found that the approach to the
forest would prove long and difficult, as it was skirted by a bed of
thick briars and prickly pears, which in breadth could not be less than
three leagues, and that a passage must be forced through this almost
impassable barrier. The forest was undoubtedly the commencement of that
extended line of noble timber which encircles as a kind of natural
barrier the States of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. By reaching it
we should soon leave privation and fatigue behind us, whereas, on the
contrary, travelling to the north would have added to our sufferings, as
the same level and untenanted prairie extended to the very shores of the
Red River. We consequently determined to force our way through the
thorns and briars, even if we were obliged to cut a road with our knives
and tomahawks. We journeyed on till sunset, when we came to a deep dry
gully, on the very edge of the prickly pear barrier, and there we
encamped for the night. To go farther without something to eat was
impossible. The wild and haggard looks of my companions, their sunken
eyes, and sallow, fleshless faces, too plainly showed that some
subsistence must be speedily provided more nutritious than the unripe
and strongly acidulated fruit presented to us. We drew lots, and the
parson's horse was doomed; in a few minutes, his hide was off, and a
part of the flesh distributed.

The meat of a young mustang is excellent, but that of an old broken-down
horse is quite another affair. It was as tough as india-rubber, and the
more a piece of it was masticated, the larger it became in the mouth. A
man never knows what he can eat, until driven to desperation by a week's
starving, and the jolly parson, who had pledged himself never to eat
even calf's meat, fiercely attacked the leathery remains of his
faithful ambler.

The next morning we directed our steps in a south course, and crossing
the gully, we entered in what appeared to be a passage, or a bear's path
through the prickly pears; but after travelling some six or eight miles,
we found our further progress cut off by a deep and precipitous chasm,
lined with impassable briars. To return was our only alternative, and,
at noon we again found ourselves near to the point from whence we had
started in the morning.

A consultation was now held as to our future course. The lawyers and
Roche proposed to go farther south, and make another attempt, but
recollecting, that on the morning of the preceding day we had passed a
large, though shallow, sandy stream, Gabriel and I thought it more
advisable to return to it. This stream was evidently one of the
tributaries of the Red River, and was running in an easterly direction,
and we were persuaded that it must flow through the chasm, and enter
into the forest.

Our proposal was agreed to, and without any more loss of time, each of
us taking with him a piece of horse-flesh, we retraced our steps. The
parson was on foot, and though I proposed many times that we should ride
alternately, he always refused, preferring now to travel on foot, as he
was heartily tired of riding. Indeed, I never saw a better walker in my
life; the man had evidently mistaken his profession, for he would, have
gained more money with his legs as an Indian runner, or a scout, than he
had any chance of obtaining in the one to which he belonged, and for
which he was most unqualified.

The next day, at noon, we encamped on the stream, and though with little
hope of success, I threw in my fishing-line, baiting my hook with
horse-flies and grasshoppers. My hooks had scarcely sunk in the water,
when the bait was taken, and to my astonishment and delight, I soon
dragged out of the water two very large trout. I shouted to my
companions, who were soon round me, and we resolved to pass the night
there, as we considered that a good meal or two would enable us so much
better to continue our fatiguing journey. A little above us was also
discovered a large quantity of drift timber, left dry upon the sand, and
in a short time every one of us were actively employed in preparing for
a jovial meal. Gabriel, being the best marksman, started for game, and I
continued fishing, to the great delight of the doctor and the parson,
the first one taking under his care the cooking department, and the last
scouring the prairie to catch grasshoppers and horse-flies. In less than
three hours I had twenty large trout, and a dozen cat-fish, and Gabriel
returned with two Canadian geese. Invigorated by an abundant meal and a
warm fire, we soon regained our spirits, and that night we slept sound,
and made up for our former watching and shivering.

The next morning, after breakfast, we filled our saddle-bags with the
remainder of our provisions, and following the stream for ten miles,
with water to our horses' shoulders, as both sides of the river were
covered with briars. The parson had been obliged to ride behind one of
the lawyers, who had a strong built, powerful horse; and great was our
merriment when one of our steeds stumbled into a hole, and brought down
his master with him. For nine miles more we continued wading down the
river, till at last the prickly pears and briars receding from the
banks, allowed us once more to regain the dry ground: but we had not
travelled an hour upon the bank, when our road was interrupted by a
broken range of hills.

After incredible fatigue to both horses and men, for we were obliged to
dismount and carry our arms and saddle-bags, the ascent was finally
achieved. When we arrived at the summit, we found below us a peaceful
and romantic valley, through the centre of which the river winded its
way, and was fed by innumerable brooks, which joined it in every
direction. Their immediate borders were fringed with small trees, bushes
of the deepest green, while the banks of the river were skirted with a
narrow belt of timber, of larger and more luxuriant growth.

This valley was encircled by the range of hills we had ascended, so far
as to the belt of the forest. We led our horses down the declivity, and
in less than an hour found ourselves safe at the bottom. A brisk ride of
three or four miles through the valley brought us to the edge of the
forest, where we encamped near a small creek, and after another good
night's rest, we pushed on through a mass of the noblest maple and
pine-trees I had ever seen. Now game abounded; turkeys, bears, and deer,
were seen almost every minute, and, as we advanced, the traces of mules
and jackasses were plainly visible. A little further on, the footprints
of men were also discovered, and from their appearance they were but a
few hours' old. This sight made us forget our fatigues, and we hurried
on, with fond anticipations of finding a speedy termination to all our
sufferings.

Late in the afternoon, I killed a very fat buck, and although we were
anxious to follow the tracks, to ascertain what description of
travellers were before us, our horses were so tired, and our appetites
so sharpened, that upon reflection, we thought it desirable to remain
where we were. I took this opportunity of making myself a pair of
mocassins, with the now useless saddle-bags of the parson.

That evening we were in high glee, thinking that we had arrived at one
of the recent settlements of western emigration, for, as I have
observed, we had seen tracks of jackasses, and these animals are never
employed upon any distant journey. We fully expected the next morning to
find some log houses, within ten or fifteen miles, where we should be
able to procure another horse for the parson, and some more ammunition,
as we had scarcely half a pound of balls left between us. The lawyer
enjoyed, by anticipation, the happiness of once more filling his
half-gallon flask, and the doctor promised to give us dishes of his own
invention, as soon as he could meet with a frying-pan. In fine, so
exuberant were our spirits, that it was late before we laid down
to sleep.

At about two o'clock in the morning, feeling a pressure upon my breast,
I opened my eyes, and saw Gabriel with a finger upon his lips, enjoining
me to silence. He then informed me, in a whisper, that a numerous party
of thieves were in our neighbourhood, and that they had already
discovered our horses. Taking with us only our knives and tomahawks, we
crawled silently till we came to a small opening in the forest, when we
saw some twenty fellows encamped, without any light or fire, but all
armed to the teeth. Three or four of them appeared animated in their
conversation, and, being favoured by the darkness, we approached nearer,
till we were able to hear every word.

"All sleeping sound," said one of them, "but looking mighty wretched;
not a cent among them, I am sure; if I can judge by their clothing,
three of them are half-breeds."

"And the horses?" said another voice.

"Why, as to them, they have only seven," replied the first voice, "and
they are broken down and tired, although fine animals. They would sell
well after a three weeks' grazing."

"Take them away, then; are they tied?"

"Only two."

"Break the halters then, and start them full speed, as if they were
frightened; it will not awaken their suspicion."

"Why not settle the matter with them all at once? we would get their
saddles."

"Fool! suppose they are a vanguard of General Rusk's army, and one of
them should escape? No; to-morrow at sunrise they will run upon the
tracks of their horses, and leave their saddles and saddle-bags behind;
three men shall remain here, to secure the plunder, and when the ducks
(travellers) are fairly entangled in the forest, being on foot, we can
do what we please."

Others then joined the conversation, and Gabriel and I returned to our
friends as silently as we left them. Half an hour afterwards we heard
the galloping of our horses, in a southerly direction, and Gabriel going
once more to reconnoitre, perceived the band taking another course,
towards the east, leaving, as they had proposed, three of their men
behind them. For a few minutes he heard these men canvassing as to the
best means of carrying the saddles, and having drank pretty freely from
a large stone jug, they wrapped themselves in their blankets, and
crawled into a sort of a burrow, which had probably been dug out by the
brigands as a cachette for their provisions and the booty which they
could not conveniently carry.

By the conversation of the three fellows, Gabriel conjectured that the
band had gone to a place of rendezvous, on the bank of some river, and
that the party who had carried away our horses was to proceed only six
miles south, to a stream where the track of the horses would be effaced
and lost in case of our pursuit. As soon as they considered that we were
far enough from our encampment, they were to return by another road, and
rejoin the three men left behind. Gabriel conjectured that only four men
had gone away with the horses. After a little consultation, we awoke our
comrades, and explaining to them how matters stood, we determined upon a
counterplot.

It was at first proposed to shoot the three scoundrels left for our
saddle-bags, but reflecting that they were better acquainted than we
were with the locality, and that the report of one of their fire-arms
would excite the suspicion of those who had charge of our horses; we
determined upon another line of conduct. Before daylight, I took my bow
and arrows and succeeded in reaching a secure position, a few yards from
the burrow where the thieves were concealed. Gabriel did the same, in a
bush halfway between the burrow and our encampment. In the meantime,
Roche, with the five Americans played their part admirably--walking near
to the burrow swearing that our horses had been frightened by some
varmin and escaped, and started upon the tracks, with as much noise as
they could make; to deceive the robbers the more, they left their
rifles behind.

As soon as they were gone, the thieves issued from their places of
concealment, and one arming himself with his rifle, "went," as he said,
"to see if the coast was clear," He soon returned with two of our rifles
and a blazing piece of wood, and the worthies began laughing together at
the success of their ruse. They lighted a fire, took another dram, and
while one busied himself with preparing coffee, the other two started,
with no other weapon but their knives, to fetch the saddle-bags
and saddles.

They had not been gone five minutes when I perceived an enormous
rattlesnake, ready to spring, at not half a yard from me. Since my snake
adventure among the Comanches, I had imbibed the greatest dread of that
animal, and my alarm was so great, that I rushed out of my concealment,
and, at a single bound; found myself ten yards from the fellow, who was
quietly blowing his fire and stirring his coffee. He arose immediately,
made two steps backwards, and, quite unnerved by so sudden an
apparition, he extended his hand towards a tree, against which the
rifles had been placed.

That movement decided his fate, for not choosing to be shot at, nor to
close with a fellow so powerful that he could have easily crushed my
head between his thumb and finger, I drew at him; though rapid, my aim
was certain, and he fell dead, without uttering a single word, the arrow
having penetrated his heart. I then crawled to Gabriel, to whom I
explained the matter, and left him, to take my station near the two
remaining brigands. I found them busy searching the saddle-bags, and
putting aside what they wished to secrete for their own use.

After they had been thus employed for half an hour, one of them put
three saddles upon his head, and, thus loaded, returned to the burrow,
desiring his companion to come along, and drink his coffee while it was
hot. Some five minutes afterwards, the noise of a heavy fall was heard
(it was that of the thief who had just left, who was killed by the
tomahawk of Gabriel), and the remaining robber, loading himself with the
saddle-bags, prepared to follow, swearing aloud against his companion,
"who could not see before his eyes, and would break the pommels of
the saddles."

I had just drawn my bow, and was taking my aim, when Gabriel, passing
me, made a signal to forbear, and rushing upon the thief, he kicked him
in the back, just as he was balancing the saddles upon his head. The
thief fell down, and attempted to struggle, but the prodigious muscular
strength of Gabriel was too much for him; in a moment he laid half
strangled and motionless. We bound him firmly hand and foot, and carried
him to his burrow; we laid the two bodies by his side, stowed our
luggage in the burrow, and having destroyed all traces of the struggle,
we prepared for the reception of the horse-thieves.

Chance befriended us. While we were drinking the coffee thus left as a
prize to the conquerors, we heard at a distance the trampling of horses.
I seized one of the rifles, and Gabriel, after a moment of intense
listening, prepared his lasso, and glided behind the bushes. It was not
long before I perceived my own horse, who, having undoubtedly thrown his
rider, was galloping back to the camp. He was closely pursued by one of
the rascals, mounted upon Gabriel's horse, and calling out to the three
robbers, "Stop him; Russy, Carlton--stop him!" At that moment, Gabriel's
lasso fell upon his shoulders, and he fell off the horse as dead as if
struck by lightning: his neck was broken.

Having gained our horses, we saddled them, and took our rifles, not
doubting but that we would easily capture the remaining rascals, as the
speed of our two steeds was very superior to that of the others. After
half an hour's hard riding, we fell in with Roche and our companions,
who had been equally fortunate. It appeared that the fellow who had been
riding my horse had received a severe fall against a tree; and while one
of his companions started in chase of the animal, who had galloped off,
the two others tied their horses to the trees, and went to his
assistance. When thus occupied, they were surprised, and bound hand and
foot by Roche and his party.

We brought back our prisoners, and when we arrived at the burrow, we
found that, far from having lost anything by the robbers, we had, on the
contrary, obtained articles which we wanted. One of the lawyers found in
the stone jug enough of whisky to fill his flask; the parson got another
rifle, to replace that which he had lost in the prairie, and the pouches
and powder-horns of the three first robbers were found well supplied
with powder and balls. We also took possession of four green Mackinau
blankets and a bag of ground coffee.

We heartily thanked Providence, who had thrown the rascals in our way,
and, after a good meal, we resumed our journey in a southern direction,
each of the three lawyers leading, by a stout rope, one of the brigands,
who were gagged and their hands firmly bound behind their backs. During
the whole day, the parson amused himself with preaching honesty and
morality to our prisoners, who, seeing now that they had not the least
chance to escape, walked briskly alongside of the horses.

Towards evening we encamped in one of those plains, a mile in
circumference, which are so frequently met with in the forests of the
west. We had performed a journey of twenty miles, and that, with the
forced ride which our beasts had performed in the morning, had quite
tired them out. Besides, having now four men on foot, we could not
proceed so fast as before. We lighted a fire and fed our prisoners,
putting two of them in the centre of our circles, while the two others,
who were much braised by their falls of the morning, took their station
near the fire, and we covered them with a blanket. Though we believed we
had nothing to fear from our prisoners, the two first being bound hand
and foot, and the two last being too weak to move, we nevertheless
resolved that a watch should be kept, and as Gabriel and I had not slept
during the night before, we appointed Roche to keep the first watch.

When I awoke, I felt chilly, and to my astonishment I perceived that our
fire was down. I rose and looked immediately for the prisoners. The two
that we had put within our circle were still snoring heavily, but the
others, whose feet we had not bound on account of their painful bruises,
were gone. I looked for the watch, and found that it was one of the
lawyers, who, having drank too freely of the whisky, had fallen asleep.
The thieves had left the blanket; I touched it; I perceived that it was
yet warm, so that I knew they could not have been gone a long while.

The day was just breaking, and I awoke my companions, the lawyer was
much ashamed of himself, and offered the humblest apologies, and as a
proof of his repentance, he poured on the ground the remainder of the
liquor in his flask. As soon as Gabriel and Roche were up, we searched
in the grass for the foot-prints, which we were not long in finding, and
which conducted us straight to the place where we had left our horses
loose and grazing. Then, for the first time, we perceived that the
horses which were shod, and which belonged to the three lawyers, had had
their shoes taken off, when in possession of the thieves the day before.

By the foot-prints, multiplied in every direction, it was evident that
the fugitives had attempted, though in vain, to seize upon some of our
horses. Following the foot-marks a little farther, brought us to a small
sandy creek, where the track was lost; and on the other side, to our
great astonishment, we saw plainly (at least the appearance seemed to
imply as much), that help had been at hand, and that the thieves had
escaped upon a tall American horse, ambling so lightly, that the four
shoes of the animal were comparatively but feebly marked on the ground.
It seemed, also, that the left foreleg of the animal had been at some
time hurt, for the stopping was not regular, being sometimes longer,
sometimes shorter, and now and then deviating two or three inches
from the line.

I thought immediately that we had been discovered by another roving
party of the brigands, and that they had gone to get a reinforcement to
overpower us, but upon a closer examination of the track, I came at once
to the solution of the mystery. I remarked that on the print left by the
shoes, the places upon which the head of the nails should have pressed
deeper, were, on the contrary, convex, the shoes were, therefore, not
fixed by nails; and my suspicions being awakened, I soon spied upon a
soft sandy spot, through which the track passed, that there was
something trailing from the left hind foot, and I satisfied myself that
this last slight mark was made by a piece of twine. A little afterwards
I remarked that on the softer parts of the ground, and two or three
inches behind and before the horse-shoe prints, were two circular
impressions, which I ascertained to be the heel and the toe-marks left
by a man's mocassins.

The mystery was revealed. We had never searched our prisoners, one of
whom must have had some of the shoes taken off the horses, which shoes,
in these districts, are very valuable, as they cannot be replaced.
Having tried in vain to catch some of our horses, they had washed out
the tracks in the creek, and had fixed the horse-shoes to their own feet
with pieces of twine; after which, putting themselves in a line at the
required distance one from the other, they had started off, both with
the same foot, imitating thus the pacing of a swift horse.

The plan was cunning enough, and proved that the blackguards were no
novices in their profession, but they had not yet sufficiently acquired
that peculiar tact natural to savage life. Had they been Indians, they
would have fixed small pieces of wood into the holes of the shoe to
imitate the nails, and they would then have escaped. We returned to the
camp to arm ourselves, and the lawyers, wishing to recover our
confidence, entreated that they might be permitted to chase and
recapture the fellows. At noon they returned quite exhausted, but they
had been successful; the prisoners were now bound hand and foot, and
also tied by the waist to a young pine, which we felled for the purpose.
It was useless to travel further on that day, as the lawyers' horses
were quite blown, and having now plenty of ammunition, some of us went
in pursuit of turkeys and pheasants, for a day or two's provisions. All
my efforts to obtain information from the prisoners were vain. To my
inquiries as to what direction lay the settlements, I received
no answer.

Towards evening, as we were taking our meal, we were visited by a band
of dogs, who, stopping ten yards from us, began to bark most furiously.
Thinking at first they belonged to the band of robbers, who employed
them to follow travellers, we hastily seized our arms, and prepared for
a fight; but Gabriel asserting the dogs were a particular breed
belonging to the Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, and other tribes of
half-civilized Indians, established upon the Red River, we began
shouting and firing our rifles, so as to guide towards us the Indians,
who, we presumed, could not be far behind their dogs. We did not wait
long, for a few minutes afterwards a gallant band of eighty Cherokees
dashed through the cover, and reined up their horses before us. All was
explained in a moment.

A system of general depredation had been carried on, for a long while
with impunity, upon the plantations above the great bend of the Red
River. The people of Arkansas accused the Texans, who, in their turn,
asserted that the parties were Indians. Governor Yell, of the Arkansas,
complained to Ross, the highly talented chief of the Cherokees, who
answered that the robbers were Arkansas men and Texans, and, as a proof
of his assertion, he ordered a band to scour the country, until they had
fallen in with and captured the depredators. For the last two days, they
had been following some tracks, till their dogs, having crossed the
trail left by the lawyers and their prisoners, guided the warriors to
our encampments.

We gave them all our prisoners, whom we were very glad to get rid of;
and the Indian leader generously ordered one of his men to give up his
horse and saddle to the parson. To this, however, we would not consent,
unless we paid for the animal; and each of us subscribing ten dollars,
we presented the money to the man, who certainly did not lose by
the bargain.

The next morning, the leader of the Cherokee party advised me to take a
southern direction, till we should arrive at the head waters of the
river Sabine, from whence, proceeding either northward or eastward, we
should, in a few days, reach the Red River, through the cane-brakes and
the clearings of the new settlers. Before parting, the Indians made us
presents of pipes and tobacco, of which we were much in want; and after
a hearty breakfast, we resumed our journey.



CHAPTER XXXI.


The Cherokee Indians, a portion of whom we had just met on such friendly
terms, are probably destined to act no inconsiderable part in the future
history of Texas. Within the last few years they have given a severe
lesson to the governments of both Texas and the United States. The
reader is already aware that, through a mistaken policy, the government
of Washington have removed from several southern states those tribes of
half-civilized Indians which indubitably were the most honourable and
industrious portion of the population of these very states. The
Cherokees, the Creeks, and the Choctaws, among others, were established
on the northern banks of the Red River, in the territory west of
the Arkansas.

The Cherokees, with a population of twenty-four thousand individuals;
the Creeks, with twenty thousand, and the Choctaws, with fifteen, as
soon as they reached their new country, applied themselves to
agriculture, and as they possessed wealth, slaves, and cattle, their
cotton plantations soon became the finest west from the Mississippi, and
latterly all the cotton grown by the Americans and the Texans, within
one hundred miles from the Indian settlements, has been brought up to
their mills and presses, to be cleaned and put into bales, before it was
shipped to New Orleans. Some years before the independence of Texas, a
small number of these Cherokees had settled as planters upon the Texan
territory, where, by their good conduct and superior management of their
farms, they had acquired great wealth, and had conciliated the goodwill
of the warlike tribes of Indians around them, such as the Cushates, the
Caddoes, and even the Comanches.

As soon as the Texans declared their independence, their rulers,
thinking that no better population could exist in the northern districts
than that of the Cherokees, invited a few hundred more to come from the
Red River, and settle among them; and to engage them so to do, the first
session of congress offered them a grant of two or three hundred
thousand acres of land, to be selected by them in the district they
would most prefer. Thus enticed, hundreds of wealthy Cherokee planters
migrated to Texas, with their wealth and cattle. Such was the state of
affairs until the presidency of Lamar, a man utterly unequal to the task
of ruling over a new country.

Under his government, the Texans, no longer restrained by the energy and
honourable feelings of an Austin or a Houston, followed the bent of
their dispositions, and were guilty of acts of barbarism and cruelty
which, had they, at the time, been properly represented to the civilized
people of Europe, would have caused them to blot the name of Texas out
of the list of nations.

I have already related the massacre of the Comanches in San Antonio, and
the miserable pilfering expedition to Santa Fé, but these two acts had
been preceded by one still more disgraceful.

The Cherokees, who had migrated to Texas, were flourishing in their new
settlement, when the bankruptcy of the merchants in the United States
was followed by that of the planters. The consequence was, that from
Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas, hundreds of planters
smuggled their negroes and other property into Texas, and as they dared
not locate themselves too far west, from their dread of the Mexicans and
Indians, they remained in the east country, upon the rivers of which
only, at that time, navigation had been attempted.

These new comers, however, had to struggle with many difficulties; they
had to clear the ground, to build bridges, to dry up mud-holes and
swamps; and, moreover, they found that they could not enter into
competition with the Cherokees, who having been established there for a
longer time, and raising abundant crops of maize, cotton, and tobacco,
were enabled to sell their provisions at one-half the price which the
white planter wished to realize. The Europeans, of course, preferred to
settle near the Cherokees, from whom they could obtain their Indian corn
at fifty cents a bushel, while the American planters demanded two
dollars, and sometimes three. In a short time, the Cherokee district
became thickly settled, possessing good roads, and bridges and ferries
upon every muddy creek; in short, it was, in civilization, full a
century ahead of all the other eastern establishments of Texas.

The Texan planters from the United States represented to the government
that they would have no chance of cultivating the country and building
eastern cities, as long as the Cherokees were allowed to remain; and,
moreover, they backed their petition with a clause showing that the
minimum price the Cherokee land would be sold at to new comers from the
United States was ten dollars an acre. This last argument prevailed, and
in spite of the opposition of two or three honest men, the greedy
legislators attacked the validity of the acts made during the former
presidency; the Cherokees' grant was recalled, and notice given to them
that they should forthwith give up their plantations and retire
from Texas.

To this order the Cherokees did not deign to give an answer, and, aware
of the character of the Texans, they never attempted to appeal for
justice; but, on the contrary, prepared themselves to defend their
property from any invasion. Seeing them so determined, the Texans'
ardour cooled a little, and they offered the Indians twelve cents an
acre for their land, which proposition was not attended to; and probably
the Cherokees, from the fear which they inspired, would never have been
molested had it not been for an act of the greatest cowardice on the
part of the Texan government, and a most guilty indifference on that of
the United States.

In Alabama, Tennessee, and Arkansas, labour had fallen so low, that
thousands of individuals had abandoned their farms to become
horse-thieves and negro smugglers. Many among them had gone to sell the
produce of their depredations to the Cherokees, who not only did not
condescend to deal with them, but punished them with rigour, subjecting
them to their own code of laws. These ruffians nurtured plans of
vengeance which they dared not themselves execute, but, knowing the
greedy spirit of their countrymen, they spread the most incredible
stories of Cherokee wealth and comforts. The plan succeeded well, for as
soon as the altercation between the Texans and Cherokee Indians was made
known to the Western States, several bands were immediately formed, who,
in the expectation of a rich booty, entered Texas, and offered the
Congress to drive away the Cherokees. As soon as this was known,
representations were made by honourable men to the government of the
United States, but no notice was taken, and the Western States, probably
to get rid at once of the scum of their population, gave every
encouragement to the expedition.

For a few months the Cherokees invariably discomfited their invaders,
destroying their bands as soon as they were newly formed, and treating
them as common robbers; but, being farmers, they could not fight and
cultivate their ground at the same time, and they now thought of
abandoning so unhospitable a land; the more so as, discovering that the
Cherokees were more than a match for them in the field, a system of
incendiarism and plunder was resorted to, which proved more disastrous
to the Cherokees than the previous open warfare.

The Cherokees wisely reflected, that as long as the inhabitants of the
Western States would entertain the hope of plunder and booty, they would
constantly pour upon them their worthless population. They, therefore,
destroyed their farms and their bridges; and collecting their horses and
cattle, they retreated upon the Red River among their own people. The
Cherokee campaign is a topic of much boasting among the Texans, as they
say they expelled the Indians from their country; but a fact, which they
are not anxious to publish, is, that for every Cherokee killed, twenty
Texans bit the dust.

Since that period the Cherokees, Choctaws, and Creeks have had several
war councils, and I doubt not that they are only waiting for an
opportunity to retaliate, and will eventually sweep off the entire
eastern population of Texas.

The fact is, that a democratic form of government is powerless when the
nation is so utterly depraved. Austin, the father of Texan colonization,
quitted the country in disgust. Houston, whose military talents and
well-known courage obtained for him the presidency, has declared his
intention to do the same, and to retire to the United States, to follow
up his original profession of a lawyer. Such is the demoralized state of
Texas at the present moment; what it may hereafter be is in the womb
of Time.



CHAPTER XXXII.


We had now entered the white settlements of the Sabine river, and found,
to our astonishment, that, far from arriving at civilization, we were
receding from it; the farms of the Wakoes and well-cultivated fields of
the Pawnee-Picts, their numerous cattle and comfortable dwellings, were
a strong contrast to the miserable twelve-feet-square mud-and-log cabins
we passed by. Every farmer we met was a perfect picture of wretchedness
and misery; their women dirty and covered with rags, which could
scarcely conceal their nudity; the cattle lean and starving; and the
horses so weak that they could scarcely stand upon their legs.

Where was the boasted superiority of the Texans over the Indian race? or
were these individuals around us of that class of beings who, not daring
to reside within the jurisdiction of the law, were obliged to lead a
borderer's life, exposed to all the horrors of Indian warfare and
famine? Upon inquiry, we discovered that these frontier men were all,
more or less, eminent members of the Texan Republic, one being a
general, another a colonel; some speakers of the House of
Representatives; and many of them members of Congress, judges, and
magistrates. Notwithstanding their high official appointments, we did
not think it prudent to stop among them, but pushed on briskly, with our
rifles across the pommels of our saddles; indeed, from the covetous eyes
which these magistrates and big men occasionally cast upon our horses
and saddle-bags, we expected at every moment that we should be attacked.

A smart ride of two hours brought us to a second settlement, which
contrasted most singularly with the first. Here, all the houses were
neat and spacious, with fine barns and stables; the fields were well
enclosed, and covered with a green carpet of clover, upon which were
grazing cattle and horses of a superior breed.

This sight of comfort and plenty restored our confidence in
civilization, which confidence we had totally lost at the first
settlement we had fallen in with; and perceiving, among others, a
dwelling surrounded with gardens arranged with some taste, we stopped
our horses and asked for accommodation for ourselves and beasts. Three
or four smart young boys rushed out, to take care of our horses, and a
venerable old man invited us to honour his hearth. He was a Mormon, and
informed us that hundreds of farmers belonging to that sect had
established themselves in East Texas, at a short distance from each
other, and that, if we were going to travel through the Arkansas, and
chose to do so, we could stop every other day at a Mormon farm, until we
arrived at the southern borders of the state of Missouri.

We resolved to avail ourselves of this information, anticipating that
every Mormon dwelling would be as clean and comfortable as the one we
were in; but we afterwards found out our mistake, for, during the
fifteen days' journey which we travelled between the Sabine and a place
called Boston, we stopped at six different Mormon farms, either for
night or for noon meals, but, unlike the first, they were anything but
comfortable or prosperous. One circumstance, however, attracted
particularly our attention; it was, that, rich or poor, the Mormon
planters had superior cattle and horses, and that they had invariably
stored up in their granaries or barns the last year's crop of everything
that would keep. Afterwards I learned that these farmers were only
stipendiary agents of the elders of the Mormons, who, in the case of a
westward invasion being decided upon by Joe Smith and his people, would
immediately furnish their army with fresh horses and all the provisions
necessary for a campaign.

One morning we met with a Texan constable going to arrest a murderer. He
asked us what o'clock it was, as he had not a _watch_, and told us that
a few minutes' ride would bring us to Boston, a new Texan city. We
searched in vain for any vestiges which could announce our being in the
vicinity of even a village; at last, however, emerging from a swamp,
through which we had been forcing our way for more than an hour, we
descried between the trees a long building, made of the rough logs of
the black pine, and as we advanced, we perceived that the space between
the logs (about six inches) had not been filled up, probably to obtain a
more free circulation of air. This building, a naked negro informed us,
was Ambassadors' Hall, the great and only hotel of Texan Boston.

Two hundred yards farther we perceived a multitude of individuals
swarming around another erection of the same description, but without a
roof, and I spurred on my horse, believing we should be in time to
witness some cockfighting or a boxing-match; but my American
fellow-travellers, better acquainted with the manners and customs of the
natives, declared it was the "Court-House." As we had nothing to do
there, we turned our horses' heads towards the tavern, and the barking
of a pack of hungry dogs soon called around us a host of the Bostonians.

It is strange that the name of city should be given to an unfinished
log-house, but such is the case in Texas; every individual possessing
three hundred acres of land calls his lot a city, and his house becomes
at once the tavern, the post-office, the court-house, the gaol, the
bank, the land-office, and, in fact, everything. I knew a man near the
Red River, who had obtained from government an appointment of
postmaster, and during the five years of his holding the office, he had
not had a single letter in his hand.

This city mania is a very extraordinary disease in the United States,
and is the cause of much disappointment to the traveller. In the Iowa
territory, I once asked a farmer my way to Dubuque.

"A stranger, I reckon," he answered; "but no matter, the way is plain
enough. Now, mind what I say. After you have forded the river, you will
strike the military road till you arrive in the prairie; then you ride
twenty miles east, till you arrive at Caledonia city; there they will
tell you all about it."

I crossed the river, and, after half an hour's fruitless endeavours, I
could not find the military road, so I forded back, and returned to
my host.

"Law!" he answered; "why, the trees are blazed on each side of the
road."

Now, if he had told me that at first, I could not have mistaken, for I
had seen the blazing of a bridle-path; but as he had announced a
military road, I expected, what it imported, a military road. I resumed
my journey and entered the prairie. The rays of the sun were very
powerful, and, wishing to water my horse, I hailed with delight a
miserable hut, sixteen feet square, which I saw at about half a mile
from the trail. In a few minutes I was before the door, and tied my
horse to a post, upon which was a square board bearing some kind of
hieroglyphics on both sides. Upon a closer inspection, I saw upon one
side "Ice," and upon the other, "POSTOFF."

"A Russian, a Swede, or a Norwegian," thought I, knowing that Iowa
contained eight or ten thousand emigrants of these countries.
"Ice--well, that is a luxury rarely to be found by a traveller in the
prairie, but it must be pretty dear; no matter, have some I must."

I entered the hut, and saw a dirty woman half-naked, and slumbering upon
a stool, by the corner of the chimney.

"Any milk?" I inquired, rousing her up.

She looked at me and shook her head; evidently she did not understand
me; however, she brought me a stone jug full of whisky, a horn tumbler,
and a pitcher of water.

"Can you give my horse a pail of water?" I asked again.

The woman bent down her body, and dragging from under the bed a girl of
fourteen, quite naked, and with a skin as tough as that of an alligator,
ordered her to the well with a large bucket. Having thus provided for my
beast, I sat upon a stump that served for a chair, and once more
addressed my hostess.

"Now, my good woman, let us have the ice."

"The what?" she answered.

As I could not make her understand what I wanted, I was obliged to drink
the whisky with water almost tepid, and my horse being refreshed, I paid
my fare and started.

I rode for three hours more, and was confident of having performed twice
the distance named by mine host of the morning, and yet the prairie
still extended as far as the eye could reach, and I could not perceive
the city of Caledonia. Happily, I discovered a man at a distance riding
towards me: we soon met.

"How far," said I, "to Caledonia city?"

"Eighteen miles," answered the traveller.

"Is there no farm on the way?" I rejoined, "for my horse is tired."

The horseman stared at me in amazement "Why, Sir," he answered, "you
turn your back to it; you have passed it eighteen miles behind."

"Impossible!" I exclaimed: "I never left the trail, except to water my
horse at a little hut."

"Well," he answered, "that was at General Hiram Washington Tippet's; he
keeps the post-office--why, Sir, that was Caledonia city."

I thanked him, unsaddled my horse, and bivouacked where I was, laughing
heartily at my mistake in having asked for _ice_, when the two sides of
the board made _post-office._

But I must return to Boston and its court-house. As it was the time of
the assizes, some fifty or sixty individuals had come from different
quarters, either to witness the proceedings, or to swap their horses,
their saddles, their bowie-knife, or anything; for it is while law is
exercising its functions that a Texan is most anxious to swap, to cheat,
to gamble, and to pick pockets and quarrel under its nose, just to show
his independence of all law.

The dinner-bell rang a short time after our arrival, and for the first
time in my life I found myself at an American _table-d'hôte_. I was
astonished, as an Indian well might be. Before my companions and self
had had time to sit down and make choice of any particular dish, all was
disappearing like a dream. A general opposite to me took hold of a
fowl, and in the twinkling of an eye, severed the wings and legs. I
thought it was polite of him to carve for others as well as himself, and
was waiting for him to pass over the dish after he had helped himself,
when, to my surprise, he retained all he had cut off, and pushed the
carcase of the bird away from him. Before I had recovered from my
astonishment, his plate was empty. Another seized a plate of
cranberries, a fruit I was partial to, and I waited for him to help
himself first and then pass the dish over to me; but he proved to be
more greedy than the general, for, with an enormous horn spoon, he
swallowed the whole.

The table was now deserted by all except by me and my companions, who,
with doleful faces, endeavoured to appease our hunger with some stray
potatoes. We called the landlord, and asked him for something to eat; it
was with much difficulty that we could get half a dozen of eggs and as
many slices of salt pork. This lesson was not thrown away upon me; and
afterwards, when travelling in the States, I always helped myself before
I was seated, caring nothing for my neighbours. Politeness at meals may
be and is practised in Europe, or among the Indians, but among the
Americans it would be attended with starvation.

After dinner, to kill time, we went to the court-house, and were
fortunate enough to find room in a position where we could see and hear
all that was going on.

The judge was seated upon a chair, the frame of which he was whittling
with such earnestness that he appeared to have quite forgotten where he
was. On each side of him were half a dozen of jurymen, squatted upon
square blocks, which they were also whittling, judge and jurymen having
each a cigar in the mouth, and a flask of liquor, with which now and
then they regaled themselves. The attorney, on his legs, addressing the
jury, was also smoking, as well as the plaintiff, the defendant, and all
the audience. The last were seated, horseback-fashion, upon parallel low
benches, for their accommodation, twenty feet long, all turned towards
the judge, and looking over the shoulders of the one in front of him,
and busily employed in carving at the bench between his thigh and that
of his neighbour. It was a very singular _coup d'oeil,_ and a new-comer
from Europe would have supposed the assembly to have been a
"whittling club."

[Illustration: "The attorney, on his legs, addressing the jury, was also
smoking."]

Having surveyed the company, I then paid attention to the case on trial,
and, as I was just behind the defendant, I soon learned how justice was
executed in Texas, or, at least, in Texan Boston. It appeared that the
defendant was the postmaster and general merchant of the country. Two or
three weeks back, the son of the plaintiff had entered his shop to
purchase his provision of coffee, sugar, and flour, and had given him to
change a good one-hundred-dollar bill of one of the New Orleans banks.
The merchant had returned to him a fifty-dollar note and another of ten.
Two hours afterwards, the young man, having swapped his horse, carriole,
and twenty dollars, for a waggon and two couple of oxen, presented the
fifty-dollar note, which was refused as being counterfeited. The son of
the plaintiff returned to the merchant, and requested him to give him a
good note. The merchant, however, would not: "Why did you take it?" said
he; "I be d----d if I give you any other money for it." Upon which the
young man declared it was shameful swindling, and the merchant, throwing
at him an iron weight of nine pounds, killed him on the spot.

The attorney, who was now pleading for the defendant, was trying to
impress upon the jury that the murder had been merely accidental,
inasmuch as the merchant had thrown the missile only in sport, just to
scare away the fellow who was insulting him in his own house; but,
strange to say, no mention was made at all of the note, though everybody
knew perfectly well that the merchant had given it, and that it was a
part of his trade to pass forged notes among his inexperienced
customers. As soon as the lawyer had ended the defence, the merchant was
called upon by the judge to give his own version of what occurred.
He rose:

"Why," said he, "it was just so as has been said. I wished not to hurt
the fellow; but he called me a swindler. Well, I knew the man was in a
passion, and I did not care. I only said, 'How dare you, Sir?' and I
threw the piece of iron just to frighten him. Well, to be sure, the
blackguard fell down like a bull, and I thought it was a humbug. I
laughed and said, 'None of your gammon;' but he was dead. I think the
thing must have struck something on the way, and so swerved against his
head. I wished not to kill the fellow--I be damned if I did."

The jurymen looked at each other with a significant and approving air,
which could be translated as accidental death. Gabriel touched the
merchant upon the shoulder, "You should have said to him, that you
merely wished to kill a musquito upon the wall."

"Capital idea," cried the defendant "I be d----d if it was not a
musquito eating my molasses that I wished to kill, after all."

At that moment one of the jurymen approached the merchant, and addressed
him in a low voice; I could not hear what passed, but I heard the
parting words of the juryman, which were, "All's right!" To this
dispenser of justice succeeded another; indeed, all the jurymen followed
in succession, to have a little private conversation with the prisoner.
At last the judge condescended to cease his whittling, and come to make
his own bargain, which he did openly:

"Any good saddles, Fielding? mine looks rather shabby."

"Yes, by Jingo, a fine one, bound with blue cloth, and silver
nails--Philadelphia-made--prime cost sixty dollars."

"That will do," answered the judge, walking back to his seat.

Ten minutes afterwards the verdict of manslaughter was returned against
the defendant, who was considered, in a speech from the judge,
sufficiently punished by the affliction which such an accident must
produce to a generous mind. The court broke up, and Fielding, probably
to show how deep was his remorse, gave three cheers, to which the whole
court answered with a hurrah, and the merchant was called upon to treat
the whole company: of course he complied, and they all left the
court-house. Gabriel and I remained behind. He had often tried to
persuade me to abandon my ideas of going to the States and Europe,
pointing out to me that I should be made a dupe and become a prey to
pretended well-wishers. He had narrated to me many incidents of his own
life, of his folly and credulity, which had thrown him from an eminent
station in civilized society, and had been the cause of our meeting in
the Western World. He forewarned me that I should be disappointed in my
expectations, and reap nothing but vexation and disappointment. He knew
the world too well. I knew nothing of it, and I thought that he was
moved by bitterness of spirit to rail so loud against it. He would fain
persuade me to return with him to my own tribe of Shoshones, and not go
in search of what I never should obtain. He was right, but I was
obstinate. He did not let pass this opportunity of giving me a lesson.

"You have now witnessed," said he, "a sample of justice in this
_soi-disant_ civilized country. Two hundred dollars perhaps, have
cleared a murderer; ten millions would not have done it among the
Shoshones."

"But Texas is not Europe," replied I.

"No," said Gabriel, "it is not; but in Europe, as in Texas, with money
you can do anything, without money nothing."

At that moment we perceived a man wrapt in his blanket, and leaning
against a tree.

He surveyed the group receding to the tavern, and the deepest feelings
of hatred and revenge were working evidently within him. He saw us not,
so intense were his thoughts. It was the plaintiff whose son had been
murdered. Gabriel resumed.

"Now, mark that man; he was the plaintiff, the father of the young
fellow so shamefully plundered and murdered; he is evidently a poor
farmer, or the assassin would have been hung. He is now brooding over
revenge; the law gave not justice, he will take it into his own hands,
and he will probably have it to-night, or to-morrow. Injustice causes
crime, and ninety-nine out of a hundred are forced into it by the
impotency of the law; they suffer once, and afterwards act towards
others as they have been acted by. That man may have been till this day
a good, industrious, and hospitable farmer; to-night he will be a
murderer, in a week he will have joined the free bands, and will then
revenge himself upon society at large, for the injustice he has received
from a small portion of the community."

Till then I had never given credit to my friend for any great share of
penetration, but he prophesied truly. Late in the night the father
announced his intention of returning to his farm, and entered the
general sleeping-room of the hotel to light a cigar. A glance informed
him of all that he wished to know. Forty individuals were ranged
sleeping in their blankets, alongside of the walls, which, as I have
observed, were formed of pine logs, with a space of four or six inches
between each: parallel with the wall, next to the yard, lay the
murderer Fielding.

The father left the room, to saddle his horse. An hour afterwards the
report of a rifle was heard, succeeded by screams and cries of "Murder!
help! murder!" Every one in the sleeping-room was up in a moment, lights
were procured, and the judge was seen upon his knees with his hands upon
his hinder quarters; his neighbour Fielding was dead, and the same ball
which had passed through his back and chest had blazed the bark off the
nether parts of this pillar of Texan justice.

When the first surprise was over, pursuit of the assassin was resolved
upon, and then it was discovered that, in his revenge, the father had
not lost sight of prudence. All the horses were loose; the stable and
the court-house, as well as the bar and spirit-store of the tavern, were
in flames. While the Bostonians endeavoured to steal what they could,
and the landlord was beating his negroes, the only parties upon whom he
could vent his fury, our companions succeeded in recovering their
horses, and at break of day, without any loss but the gold watch of the
doctor, which had probably been stolen from him during his sleep, we
started for the last day's journey which we had to make in Texas.

As we rode away, nothing remained of Texan Boston except three patches
of white ashes, and a few half-burnt logs, nor do I know if that
important city has ever been rebuilt.



CHAPTER XXXIII.


We were now about twenty miles from the Red River, and yet this short
distance proved to be the most difficult travelling we had experienced
for a long while. We had to cross swamps, lagoons, and canebrakes, in
which our horses were bogged continually; so that at noon, and after a
ride of six hours, we had only gained twelve miles. We halted upon a dry
knoll, and there, for the first time since the morning, we entered into
conversation; for, till then, we had been too busy scrutinizing the
ground before our horses' feet. I had a great deal to say both to
Gabriel and to Roche; we were to part the next morning,--they to return
to the Comanches and the Shoshones, I to go on to the Mormons, and
perhaps to Europe.

I could not laugh at the doctor's _bon mots_, for my heart was full;
till then, I had never felt how long intercourse, and sharing the same
privations and dangers, will attach men to each other; and the
perspective of a long separation rendered me gloomier and gloomier, as
the time we still had to pass together became shorter.

Our five American companions had altered their first intention of
travelling with me through the Arkansas. They had heard on the way, that
some new thriving cities had lately sprung up on the American side of
the Red River; the doctor was already speculating upon the fevers and
agues of the ensuing summer; the parson was continually dreaming of a
neat little church and a buxom wife, and the three lawyers, of rich fees
from the wealthy cotton planters. The next day, therefore, I was to be
alone, among a people less hospitable than the Indians, and among whom I
had to perform a journey of a thousand miles on horseback, constantly on
the outskirts of civilization, and consequently exposed to all the
dangers of border travelling.

When we resumed our march through the swampy cane-brake, Gabriel, Roche,
and I kept a little behind our companions.

"Think twice, whilst it is yet time," said Gabriel to me, "and believe
me, it is better to rule over your devoted and attached tribe of
Shoshones than to indulge in dreams of establishing a western empire;
and, even if you will absolutely make the attempt, why should we seek
the help of white men? what can we expect from them and their assistance
but exorbitant claims and undue interference? With a few months' regular
organization, the Comanches, Apaches, and Shoshones can be made equal to
any soldiers of the civilized world, and among them you will have no
traitors."

I felt the truth of what he said, and for a quarter of an hour I
remained silent. "Gabriel," replied I at last, "I have now gone too far
to recede, and the plans which I have devised are not for my own
advantage, but for the general welfare of the Shoshones and of all the
friendly tribes. I hope to live to see them a great nation, and, at all
events, it is worth a trial."

My friend shook his head mournfully; he was not convinced, but he knew
the bent of my temper, and was well aware that all he could say would
now be useless.

The natural buoyancy of our spirits would not, however, allow us to be
grave long; and when the loud shouts of the doctor announced that he had
caught a sight of the river, we spurred our horses, and soon rejoined
our company. We had by this time issued from the swampy canebrakes, and
were entering a lane between two rich cotton-fields, and at the end of
which flowed the Red River; not the beautiful, clear, and transparent
stream running upon a rocky and sandy bed, as in the country inhabited
by the Comanches and Pawnee Picts, and there termed the Colorado of the
West; but a red and muddy, yet rapid stream. We agreed that we should
not ferry the river that evening, but seek a farm, and have a feast
before parting company. We learned from a negro, that we were in a place
called Lost Prairie, and that ten minutes' ride down the bank of the
stream would carry us to Captain Finn's plantation. We received this
news with wild glee, for Finn was a celebrated character, one whose life
was so full of strange adventures in the wilderness, that it would fill
volumes with hair-breadth encounters and events of thrilling interest.

Captain Finn received us with a cordial welcome, for unbounded
hospitality is the invariable characteristic of the older cotton
planters. A great traveller himself, he knew the necessities of a
travelling life, and, before conducting us to the mansion, he guided us
to the stables, where eight intelligent slaves, taking our horses,
rubbed them down before our eyes, and gave them a plentiful supply of
fodder and a bed of fresh straw.

"That will do till they are cool," said our kind host; "to-night they
will have their grain and water; let us now go to the old woman and see
what she can give us for supper."

A circumstance worthy of remark is, that, in the western states, a
husband always calls his wife the old woman, and she calls him the old
man, no matter how young the couple may be. I have often heard men of
twenty-five sending their slaves upon some errand "to the old woman,"
who was not probably more than eighteen years old. A boy of ten years
calls his parents in the same way. "How far to Little Rock?" I once
asked of a little urchin; "I don't know," answered he, "but the old ones
will tell you." A few yards farther I met the "old ones;" they were
both young people, not much more than twenty.

In Mrs. Finn we found a stout and plump farmer's wife, but she was a
lady in her manners. Born in the wilderness, the daughter of one bold
pioneer and married to another, she had never seen anything but woods,
canebrakes, cotton, and negroes, and yet, in her kindness and
hospitality, she displayed a refinement of feeling and good breeding.
She was daughter of the celebrated Daniel Boone, a name which has
acquired a reputation even in Europe. She immediately ransacked her
pantry, her hen-roost, and garden, and when we returned from the
cotton-mill, to which our host, in his farmer's pride, had conducted us,
we found, upon an immense table, a meal which would have satisfied fifty
of those voracious Bostonians whom we had met with the day before at the
_table d'hôte_.

Well do I recollect her, as she stood before us on that glorious
evening, her features beaming with pleasure, as she witnessed the
rapidity with which we emptied our plates. How happy she would look when
we praised her chickens, her honey, and her coffee; and then she would
carve and cut, fill again our cups, and press upon us all the delicacies
of the Far West borders, delicacies unknown in the old countries; such
as fried beaver-tail, smoked tongue of the buffalo-calf, and (the
_gourmand's_ dish _par excellence_) the Louisiana gombo. Her coffee,
too, was superb, as she was one of the few upon the continent of America
who knew how to prepare it.

After our supper, the captain conducted us under the piazza attached to
the building, where we found eight hammocks suspended, as white as snow.
There our host disinterred from a large bucket of ice several bottles of
Madeira, which we sipped with great delight: the more so as, for our
cane pipes and cheap Cavendish, Finn substituted a box of genuine
Havanna cazadores. After our fatigues and starvation, it was more than
comfortable--it was delightful. The doctor vowed he would become a
planter, the parson asked if there were any widows in the neighbourhood,
and the lawyers inquired if the planters of the vicinity were any way
litigious. By the bye, I have observed that Captain Finn was a
celebrated character. As we warmed with the _Madère frappé à glace_, we
pressed him to relate some of his wild adventures, with which request he
readily complied; for he loved to rehearse his former exploits, and it
was not always that he could narrate them to so numerous an assembly. As
the style he employed could only be understood by individuals who have
rambled upon the borders of the Far West, I will relate the little I
remember in my own way, though I am conscious that the narrative must
lose much when told by any one but Finn himself.

When quite an infant, he had been taken by the Indians and carried into
the fastnesses of the West Virginian forests: there he had been brought
up till he was sixteen years old, when, during an Indian war, he was
recaptured by a party of white men. Who were his parents, he could never
discover, and a kind Quaker took him into his house, gave him his name,
and treated him as his own child, sending him first to school, and then
to the Philadelphia college. The young man, however, was little fit for
the restrictions of a university; he would often escape and wander for
days in the forests, until hunger would bring him home again. At last,
he returned to his adopted father, who was now satisfied that his
thoughts were in the wilderness, and that, in the bustle of a large city
and restraint of civilized life, he would not live, but linger on till
he drooped and died.

This discovery was a sad blow to the kind old man, who had fondly
anticipated that the youngster would be a kind and grateful companion to
him, when age should make him feel the want of friendship; but he was a
just man, and reflecting that perhaps a short year of rambling would
cure him, he was the first to propose it. Young Finn was grateful;
beholding the tears of his venerable protector, he would have remained
and attended him till the hour of his death; but the Quaker would not
permit him, he gave him his best horse, and furnished him with arms and
money. At that time the fame of Daniel Boone had filled the Eastern
States, and young Finn had read with avidity the adventures of that bold
pioneer. Hearing that he was now on the western borders of Kentucky,
making preparations for emigration farther west, into the very heart of
the Indian country, he resolved to join him and share the dangers of his
expedition.

The life of Boone is too well known for me to describe this expedition.
Suffice it to say, that, once in Missouri, Finn conceived and executed
the idea of making alone a trip across the Rocky Mountains, to the very
borders of the Pacific Ocean. Strange to say, he scarcely remembers
anything of that first trip, which lasted eleven months.

The animals had not yet been scared out of the wilderness; water was
found twice every day; the vine grew luxuriantly in the forests, and the
caravans of the white men had not yet destroyed the patches of plums and
nuts which grew wild in the prairies.

Finn says he listened to the songs of the birds, and watched the sport
of the deer, the buffaloes, and wild horses, in a sort of dreaming
existence, fancying that he heard voices in the streams, in the foliage
of the trees, in the caverns of the mountains; his wild imagination
sometimes conjuring up strange and beautiful spirits of another world,
who were his guardians, and who lulled him asleep every evening with
music and perfumes.

I have related this pretty nearly in the very terms of our host, and
many of his listeners have remarked, at different times, that when he
was dwelling upon that particular portion of his life, he became gloomy
and abstracted, as if still under the influence of former indelible
impressions. Undoubtedly Captain Finn is of a strong poetical
temperament, and any one on hearing him narrate would say the same; but
it is supposed that, when the captain performed this first solitary
excursion, his brain was affected by an excited and highly poetical
imagination. After eleven months of solitude, he reached the Pacific
Ocean, and awoke from his long illusion in the middle of a people whose
language he could not understand; yet they were men of his colour, kind
and hospitable; they gave him jewels and gold, and sent him back east of
the mountains, under the protection of some simple and mild-hearted
savages. The spot where Finn had arrived was at one of the missions, and
those who released him and sent him back were the good monks of one of
the settlements in Upper California.

When Finn returned to the Mississippi, his narrative was so much blended
with strange and marvellous stories that it was not credited; but when
he showed and produced his stock of gold dust in bladders, and some
precious stones, fifty different proposals were made to him to guide a
band of greedy adventurers to the new western Eldorado. Finn, like
Boone, could not bear the society of his own countrymen; he dreaded to
hear the noise of their axes felling the beautiful trees; he feared
still more to introduce them, like so many hungry wolves, among the good
people who knew so well the sacred rites of hospitality.

After a short residence with the old backwoodsman, Finn returned to
Virginia, just in time to close the eyes of the kind old Quaker. He
found that his old friend had expected his return, for he had sold all
his property, and deposited the amount in the hands of a safe banker, to
be kept for Finn's benefit. The young wanderer was amazed; he had now
ten thousand dollars, but what could he do with so much money? He
thought of a home, of love and happiness, of the daughter of old Boone,
and he started off to present her with his newly acquired wealth. Finn
entered Boone's cottage, with his bags and pocket-books in each hand,
and casting his burden into a corner, he entered at once upon
the matter.

"Why, I say, old man, I am sure I love the gal."

"She Is a comely and kind girl," said the father.

"I wish she could love me."

"She does."

"Does she? well, I tell you what, Boone, give her to me, I'll try to
make her happy."

"I will, but not yet," said the venerable patriarch. "Why, you are both
of you mere children; she can't get a house, and how could you
support her?"

Finn jumped up with pride and glee. "Look," said he, while he scattered
on the floor his bank-notes, his gold, and silver, "that will support
her bravely; tell me, old father, that will keep her snug, won't it?"

The pioneer nodded his head. "Finn," answered he, "you are a good young
man, and I like you; you think like me; you love Polly, and Polly loves
you; mind, you shall have her when you are both old enough; but
remember, my son, neither your pieces of money nor your rags of paper
will ever keep a daughter of mine. No, no! you shall have Polly, but you
must first know how to use the rifle and the axe."

A short time after this interview, Finn started upon another trip to
unknown lands, leaving old Boone to make the most he could of his money.
Now, the old pioneer, although a bold hunter, and an intrepid warrior,
was a mere child in matters of interest, and in less than two months he
had lost the whole deposit, the only "gentleman" he ever trusted having
suddenly disappeared with the funds. In the meanwhile Finn had gone down
the Mississippi, to the thirty-second degree of north latitude, when,
entering the western swamps, where no white man had ever penetrated, he
forced his way to the Red River, which he reached a little above the old
French establishment of Nachitoches. Beyond this point, inland
navigation had never been attempted, and Finn, procuring a light
dug-out, started alone, with his arms and his blanket, upon his voyage
of discovery. During four months he struggled daily against the rapid
stream, till he at last reached, in spite of rafts and dangerous eddies,
its source at the Rocky Mountains. On his return, a singular and
terrible adventure befel him: he was dragging his canoe over a raft,
exactly opposite to where now stands his plantation, when, happening to
hurt his foot, he lost hold of his canoe. It was on the very edge of the
raft, near a ruffled eddy: the frail bark was swamped in a moment, and
with it Finn lost his rifle, all his arms, and his blanket[27].

[Footnote 27: Rafts are an assemblage of forest trees, which have been
washed down to the river, from the undermining of its banks. At certain
points they become interlaced and stationary, stretching right across
the river, prevailing the passage of even a canoe.]

Now that cotton grown on the Red River has been acknowledged to be the
best in the States, speculators have settled upon both sides of it as
far as two hundred miles above Lost Prairie; but at the time that Finn
made his excursion, the country was a wilderness of horrible morasses,
where the alligators basked unmolested. For months Finn found himself a
prisoner at Lost Prairie, the spot being surrounded with impenetrable
swamps, where the lightest foot would have sunk many fathoms below the
surface. As to crossing the river, it was out of the question, as it was
more than half a mile broad, and Finn was no swimmer: even now, no human
being or animal can cross it at this particular spot, for so powerful
are the eddies, that, unless a pilot is well acquainted with the
passage, a boat will be capsized in the whirlpools. Human life can be
sustained upon very little, for Finn managed to live for months upon a
marshy ground six miles in extent, partially covered with prickly pears,
sour grapes, and mushrooms. Birds he would occasionally kill with
sticks; several times he surprised tortoises coming on shore to deposit
their eggs, and once, when much pressed by hunger, he gave battle to a
huge alligator. Fire he had none; his clothes had long been in rags; his
beard had grown to a great length, and his nails were sharp as the claws
of a wild beast. At last there was a flood in the river, and above the
raft Finn perceived two immense pine trees afloat in the middle of the
stream. Impelled by the force of the current, they cut through the raft,
where the timber was rotten, and then grounded.

This was a chance which Finn lost no time in profiting by; out of the
fibrous substance of the prickly pear, he soon manufactured sufficient
rope to lash the two trees together, with great labour got them afloat,
and was carried down the stream with the speed of an arrow. He succeeded
in landing many miles below, on the eastern bank, but he was so bruised,
that for many days he was unable to move.

One day a report was spread in the neighbourhood of Port Gibson, that a
strange monster, of the ourang-outang species, had penetrated the
canebrakes upon the western banks of the Mississippi. Some negroes
declared to have seen him tearing down a brown bear; an Arkansas hunter
had sent to Philadelphia an exaggerated account of this recently
discovered animal, and the members of the academies had written to him
to catch the animal, if possible, alive, no matter at what expense. A
hunting expedition was consequently formed, hundreds of dogs were let
loose in the canebrakes, and the chase began.

The hunters were assembled, waiting till the strange animal should break
cover, when suddenly he burst upon them, covered with blood, and
followed closely by ten or fifteen hounds. He was armed with a heavy
club, with which he now and then turned upon the dogs, crushing them at
a blow. The hunters were dumb with astonishment; mounting their horses,
they sprang forward to witness the conflict; the brute, on seeing them,
gave a loud shout; one of the hunters, being terrified, fired at him
with his rifle; the strange animal put one of its hairy paws upon its
breast, staggered, and fell; a voice was heard: "The Lord forgive you
this murder!"

On coming near, the hunters found that their victim was a man, covered
with hair from head to foot; he was senseless, but not dead. They
deplored their fatal error, and resolved that no expense or attention
should be spared upon the unfortunate sufferer. This hunted beast, this
hairy man, was Finn. The wound, not being mortal, was soon cured; but he
became crazy, and did not recover his reason for eight months. He
related his adventures up to his quitting the Lost Prairie: after which
all was a blank. His narrative soon spread all over the States, and land
speculators crowded from every part to hear Finn's description of the
unknown countries. The government became anxious to establish new
settlements in these countries, and Finn was induced to commence the
work of colonization by the gift of the "Lost Prairie." Money was also
supplied to him, that he might purchase slaves; but before taking
possession of his grant, he went to Missouri to visit his old friend,
and claim his bride. Her father had been dead for some time, but the
daughter was constant.

With his wife, his brother-in-law, his negroes, and several waggons
loaded with the most necessary articles, Finn forced his way to Little
Rock, on the Arkansas River, whence, after a short repose, he again
started in a S.S.W. direction, through a hilly and woody country never
before travelled. At last he reached the "Lost Prairie," nothing was
heard of him for two years, when he appeared at Nachitoches in a long
_cow_[28] laden with produce.

[Footnote 28: A cow is a kind of floating raft peculiar to the western
rivers of America, being composed of immense pine-trees tied together,
and upon which a log cabin is erected.]

From Nachitoches Finn proceeded to New Orleans, where the money received
for his cotton, furs, and honey enabled him to purchase two more negroes
and a fresh supply of husbandry tools. A company was immediately formed,
for the purpose of exploring the Red River, as far as it might prove
navigable, and surveying the lands susceptible of cultivation. A small
steamboat was procured, and its command offered to Finn, who thus became
a captain. Although the boat could not proceed higher than Lost Prairie,
the result of the survey induced hundreds of planters to settle upon the
banks of the river, and Captain Finn lived to become rich and honoured
by his countrymen; his great spirit of enterprise never deserted him,
and it was he who first proposed to the government to cut through the
great rafts which impeded the navigation. His plans were followed, and
exploring steamboats have since gone nearly a thousand miles above
Captain Finn's plantation at Lost Prairie.



CHAPTER XXXIV.


The next morning our American companions bade us farewell, and resumed
their journey; but Captain Finn insisted that Gabriel, Roche, and I
should not leave him so soon. He pointed out that my steed would not be
able to travel much farther, if I did not give him at least two or three
days' repose; as for the horses of my two companions, they had become
quite useless, and our host charged himself with procuring them others,
which would carry them back to the Comanches.

Captain Finn's hospitality was not, however, so heavily taxed, for
during the day a flotilla of fifteen canoes stopped before the
plantation, and a dozen of French traders came up to the house. They
were intimate friends of the captain, who had known them for a long
time, and it fortunately happened that they were proceeding with goods
to purchase the furs of the Pawnee Picts. They offered a passage to
Gabriel and Roche, who, of course, accepted the welcome proposition.
They embarked their saddles with sundry provisions, which the good Mrs.
Finn forced upon them, while her hospitable husband, unknown to them,
put into the canoes a bale of such articles as he thought would be
useful to them during their long journey. The gift, as I afterwards
learned, was composed of pistols and holsters, a small keg of powder,
bars of lead, new bits and stirrups, and of four Mackinaw blankets.

At last the moment arrived when I was to part with my friends. I felt a
bitter pang, and I wept when I found myself alone. However, I consoled
myself with the reflection that our separation was not to be a long one,
and, cheered up by the captain, I soon overcame the bitterness of the
separation. Yet, for months afterwards, I felt lonely and tired of
myself; I had never had an idea how painful it is to part from the only
few individuals who are attached to you. My worthy host showed much
interest in my welfare. As he had some business to transact at the Land
Office in the Arkansas, he resolved that he would accompany me two or
three days on my journey. Five days after the departure of Gabriel and
Roche, we crossed the Red River, and soon arrived at Washington, the
only place of any importance in the west of Arkansas.

From Washington to Little Rock, the capital of the state, there is a
mail-road, with farms at every fifteen or twenty miles; but the captain
informed me they were inhabited by the refuse from other states, and
that west of the Mississippi (except in Louisiana and Missouri) it was
always safer to travel through the wilderness, and camp out. We
accordingly took the back-wood trail, across a hilly and romantic
country, entirely mineral, and full of extinct volcanoes. The quantity
of game found in these parts is incredible; every ten minutes we would
start a band of some twenty turkeys. At all times, deer were seen
grazing within rifle-shot, and I don't think that, on our first day's
journey over the hills, we met less than twenty bears.

Independent of his love for the wilderness, and his hatred of
bowie-knife men, Captain Finn had another reason for not following the
mail-road. He had business to transact at the celebrated hot springs,
and he had to call on his way upon one of his brothers in-law, a son of
Boone, and a mighty hunter, who had settled in the very heart of the
mountains, and who made it a rule to take a trip every spring to the
Rocky Mountains. The second day, at noon, after a toilsome ascent of a
few thousand feet, we arrived at a small clearing on the top of the
mountains, where the barking of the dogs and the crowing of the fowls
announced the vicinity of a habitation, and, ere many minutes had
elapsed, we heard the sharp report of a rifle.

"Young Boone's own, I declare," exclaimed Finn; "'twas I that gave him
the tool. I should know its crack amidst a thousand. Now mark me, chief,
Boone never misses; he has killed a deer or a bear; if the first, search
for a hole between the fifth and sixth rib; if a bear, look in the eye.
At all events, the young chap is a capital cook, and we arrive in good
time. Did I not-say so? By all the alligators in the swamps! Eh, Boone,
my boy, how fares it with ye?"

We had by this time arrived at the spot where the buck lay dead, and
near the body was standing the gaunt form of a man, about forty years
old, dressed in tanned leather, and standing six feet nine in his
mocassins. Though we were within a yard of him, he reloaded his rifle
with imperturbable gravity, and it was only when he had finished that
job that I could perceive his grim features beaming with a smile.

"Welcome, old boy; welcome, stranger; twice welcome to the hunter's
home. I knew somebody was coming, because I saw the pigeons were flying
up from the valley below; and as dried venison won't do after a morning
trip, why, I took the rifle to kill a beast out of my _flock_" The
hunter grinned at his conceit. "You see," he continued, "this place of
mine is a genuine spot for a hunter. Every morning, from my threshold, I
can shoot a deer, a bear, or a turkey. I can't abide living in a country
where an honest man must toil a whole day for a mouthful of meat; it
would never do for me. Down Blackey, down Judith, down dogs. Old boy,
take the scalping-knife and skin the beast under the red oak."

This second part of the sentence was addressed to a young lad of
sixteen, an inmate of the hunter's cabin; and the dogs, having come to
the conclusion that we were not robbers, allowed us to dismount our
horses. The cabin was certainly the _ne plus ultra_ of simplicity, and
yet it was comfortable. Four square logs supported a board--it was the
table; many more were used _fauteuils_; and buffalo and bear hides,
rolled in a corner of the room, were the bedding. A stone jug, two tin
cups, and a large boiler completed the furniture of the cabin. There was
no chimney: all the cooking was done outside. In due time we feasted
upon the hunter's spoil, and, by way of passing the time, Boone related
to us his first grizzly bear expedition.

While a very young man, he had gone to the great mountains of the West
with a party of trappers. His great strength and dexterity in handling
the axe, and the deadly precision of his aim with the rifle, had given
him a reputation among his companions, and yet they were always talking
to him as if he were a boy, because he had not yet followed the
Red-skins on the war-path, nor fought a grizzly bear, which deed is
considered quite as honourable and more perilous.

Young Boone waited patiently for an opportunity, when one day he
witnessed a terrible conflict, in which one of these huge monsters,
although wounded by twenty balls, was so closely pursuing the trappers,
his companions, that they were compelled to seek their safety by
plunging into the very middle of a broad river. There, fortunately, the
strength of the animal failed, and the stream rolled him away. It had
been a terrible fight, and for many days the young man would shudder at
the recollection; but he could no longer bear the taunts which were
bestowed upon him, and, without announcing his intention to his
companions, he resolved to leave them and bring back with him the claws
of a grizzly bear, or die in the attempt. For two days he watched in the
passes of the mountains, till he discovered, behind some bushes, the
mouth of a dark cave, under a mass of rocks. The stench which proceeded
from it and the marks at the entrance were sufficient to point out to
the hunter that it contained the object of his search; but, as the sun
had set, he reflected that the beast was to a certainty awake, and most
probably out in search of prey. Boone climbed up a tree, from which he
could watch the entrance of the cave; having secured himself and his
rifle against a fall, by thongs of leather, with which a hunter is
always provided, fatigue overpowered him, and he slept.

At morn he was awakened by a growl and a rustling noise below; it was
the bear dragging to his abode the carcase of a buck. When he thought
that the animal was glutted with flesh, and sleeping, Boone descended
the tree, and, leaning his rifle against the rock, he crawled into the
cave to reconnoitre. It must have been a terrible moment; but he had
made up his mind, and he possessed all the courage of his father: the
cave was spacious and dark. The heavy grunt of the animal showed that he
was asleep.

By degrees, the vision of Boone became more clear, and he perceived the
shaggy mass at about ten feet from him and about twenty yards from the
entrance of the cave. The ground under him yielded to his weight, for it
was deeply covered with the bones of animals, and more than once he
thought himself lost, when rats, snakes, and other reptiles, disturbed
by him from their meal, would start away, in every direction, with loud
hissing and other noises. The brute, however, never awoke, and Boone,
having finished his survey, crawled out from this horrid den to prepare
for the attack.

He first cut a piece of pitch-pine, six or seven feet long, then, taking
from his pouch a small cake of bees-wax, he wrapped it round one end of
the stick, giving it at the extremity the shape of a small cup, to hold
some whisky. This done, he re-entered the cavern, turned to his left,
fixed his new kind of flambeau upright against the wall, poured the
liquor in the wax cup, and then went out again to procure fire. With the
remainder of his wax and a piece of cotton twine, he made a small taper,
which he lighted, and crawled in again over the bones, shading his light
with one hand, till he had applied the flame to the whisky. The liquor
was above proof, and as Boone returned and took up his position nearer
the entrance, with his rifle, it threw up a vivid flame, which soon
ignited the wax and the pitch-pine itself.

The bear required something more than light to awake him from his almost
lethargic sleep, and Boone threw bone after bone at him, till the brute
woke up, growled with astonishment at the unusual sight before him, and
advanced lazily to examine it. The young man had caught up his rifle by
the barrel; he took a long and steady aim, as he knew that he must die
if the bear was only wounded; and as the angry animal raised his paw to
strike down the obnoxious torch, he fired. There was a heavy fall, a
groan and a struggle,--the light was extinguished, and all was dark as
before. The next morning Boone rejoined his companions as they were
taking their morning meal, and, throwing at their feet his bleeding
trophies, he said to them, "Now, who will dare to say that I am not
a man?"

The history of this bold deed spread in a short time to even the
remotest tribes of the North, and when, years afterwards, Boone fell a
prisoner to the Black-feet Indians, they restored him to liberty and
loaded him with presents, saying that they could not hurt the great
brave who had vanquished in his own den the evil spirit of the
mountains.

At another time, Boone, when hardly pressed by a party of the Flat-head
Indians, fell into a crevice and broke the butt of his rifle. He was
safe, however, from immediate danger; at least he thought so, and
resolved he would remain where he was till his pursuers should abandon
their search. On examining the place which had afforded him so opportune
a refuge, he perceived it was a spacious natural cave, having no other
entrance than the hole or aperture through which he had fallen. He
thanked Providence for this fortunate discovery, as, for the future, he
would have a safe place to conceal his skins and provisions while
trapping; but as he was prosecuting his search, he perceived with
dismay that the cave was already inhabited.

In a corner he perceived two jaguars, which followed his movements with
glaring eyes. A single glance satisfied him they were cubs; but a
maddening thought shot across his brain; the mother was out, probably
not far; she might return in a moment, and he had no arms, except his
knife and the barrel of his broken rifle. While musing upon his perilous
situation, he heard a roar, which summoned all his energy; he rolled a
loose mass of rock to the entrance; made it as firm as he could, by
backing it with other stones; tied his knife to the end of his
rifle-barrel, and calmly waited for the issue. A minute passed, when a
tremendous jaguar dashed against the rock, and Boone needed all his
giant's strength to prevent it from giving way.

Perceiving that main force could not clear the passage, the animal began
scratching and digging at the entrance, and its hideous roars were soon
responded to by the cubs, which threw themselves upon Boone. He kicked
them away, but not without receiving several ugly scratches, and,
thrusting the blade of his knife through the opening between the large
stone and the solid rock, he broke it in the shoulder of the female
jaguar, which, with a yell, started away. This respite was fortunate, as
by this time Boone's strength was exhausted; he profited by the
suspension of hostility, so as to increase the impediments, in case of a
new attack; and reflecting that the mewings of the cubs attracted and
enraged the mother, he knocked their brains out with the barrel of his
rifle. During two hours he was left to repose himself after his
exertions, and he was beginning to think the animal had been scared
away, when another terrible bound against the massive stone forced it a
few inches into the cave. For an hour he struggled, till the jaguar,
itself tired, and not hearing the mewings of her cubs, retired with a
piteous howl.

Night came, and Boone began to despond. Leaving the cave was out of
question, for the brute was undoubtedly watching for him; and yet
remaining was almost as dangerous, as long watching and continual
exertion weighed down his eyelids and rendered sleep imperative. He
decided to remain where he was, and after another hour of labour in
fortifying the entrance, he lay down to sleep, with the barrel of his
rifle close to him, in case of attack.

He had slept about three or four hours, when he was awakened by a noise
close to his head. The moon was shining, and shot her beams through the
crevices at the mouth of the cave. A foreboding of danger would not
allow Boone to sleep any more; he was watching with intense anxiety,
when he observed several of the smaller stones he had placed round the
piece of rock rolling towards him, and that the rays of light streaming
into the cave were occasionally darkened by some interposed body. It was
the jaguar, which had been undermining the rock: one after the other,
the stones gave way; Boone rose, grasped his heavy rifle-barrel, and
determined to await the attack of the animal.

In a second or two, the heavy stone rolled a few feet into the cave; the
jaguar advanced her head, then her shoulders, and at last, a noiseless
bound brought her within four feet of Boone, who at that critical moment
collecting all his strength for a decisive blow, dashed her skull to
atoms. Boone, quite exhausted, drank some of her blood to allay his
thirst, pillowed his head upon her body, and fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning Boone, after having made a good meal off one of the
cubs, started to rejoin his companions, and communicated to them his
adventure and discovery. A short time afterwards, the cave was stored
with all the articles necessary to a trapper's life, and soon became the
rendezvous of all the adventurous men from the banks of the river Platte
to the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

Since Boone had settled in his present abode, he had had a hand-to-hand
fight with a black bear, in the very room where we were sitting. When he
had built his log cabin, it was with the intention of taking to himself
a wife. At that time he courted the daughter of one of the old Arkansas
settlers, and he wished to have "a place and a crop on foot" before he
married. The girl was killed by the fall of a tree, and Boone, in his
sorrow, sent away the men whom he had hired to help him in "turning his
field," for he wished to be alone.

Months elapsed, and his crop of corn promised an abundant harvest; but
he cared not. He would take his rifle and remain sometimes for a month
in the woods, brooding over his loss. The season was far advanced, when,
one day returning home, he perceived that the bears, the squirrels, and
the deer had made rather free with the golden ears of his corn. The
remainder he resolved to save for the use of his horse, and as he
wished to begin harvest next morning, he slept that night in the cabin,
on his solitary pallet. The heat was intense, and, as usual in these
countries during summer, he had left his door wide open.

It was about midnight, when he heard something tumbling in the room; he
rose in a moment, and, hearing a short and heavy breathing, he asked who
it was, for the darkness was such, that he could not see two yards
before him. No answer being given, except a kind of half-smothered
grunt, he advanced, and, putting out his hand, he seized the shaggy coat
of a bear. Surprise rendered him motionless, and the animal giving him a
blow in the chest with his terrible paw, threw him down outside the
door. Boone could have escaped, but, maddened with the pain of his fall,
he only thought of vengeance, and, seizing his knife and tomahawk, which
were fortunately within his reach, he darted furiously at the beast,
dealing blows at random. Great as was his strength, his tomahawk could
not penetrate through the thick coat of the animal, which, having
encircled the body of his assailant with his paws, was pressing him in
one of those deadly embraces which could only have been resisted by a
giant like Boone. Fortunately, the black bear, unlike the grizzly, very
seldom uses his claws and teeth in fighting, contenting himself with
smothering his victim. Boone disentangled his left arm, and with his
knife dealt a furious blow upon the snout of the animal, which, smarting
with pain, released his hold. The snout is the only vulnerable part in
an old black bear. Even at forty yards, the ball of a rifle will flatten
against his skull, and if in any other part of the body, it will
scarcely produce any serious effect.

Boone, aware of this, and not daring to risk another hug, darted away
from the cabin. The bear, now quite angry, followed and overtook him
near the fence. Fortunately the clouds were clearing away, and the moon
threw light sufficient to enable the hunter to strike with a more
certain aim: chance also favoured him; he found on the ground one of the
rails made of the blue ash, very heavy, and ten feet in length; he
dropped his knife and tomahawk, and seizing the rail, he renewed the
fight with caution, for it had now become a struggle for life or death.

Had it been a bull or a panther, they would have had their bones
shivered to pieces by the tremendous blows which Boone dealt upon his
adversary with all the strength of despair; but Bruin is by nature an
admirable fencer, and, in spite of his unwieldy shape, there is not in
the world an animal whose motions are more rapid in a close encounter.
Once or twice he was knocked down by the force of the blows, but
generally he would parry them with a wonderful agility. At last, he
succeeded in seizing the other end of the rail, and dragged it towards
him with irresistible force. Both man and beast fell, Boone rolling to
the place where he had dropped his arms, while the bear advanced upon
him; the moment was a critical one, but Boone was accustomed to look at
and brave death under every shape, and with a steady hand he buried his
tomahawk in the snout of his enemy, and, turning round, he rushed to his
cabin, believing he would have time to secure the door. He closed the
latch, and applied his shoulders to it; but it was of no avail, the
terrible brute dashed in head foremost, and tumbled in the room with
Boone and the fragments of the door. The two foes rose and stared at
each other; Boone had nothing left but his knife, but Bruin was
tottering and unsteady, and Boone felt that the match was more equal:
once more they closed.

A few hours after sunrise, Captain Finn, returning home from the
Legislature at Little Rock, called upon his friend, and, to his horror,
found him apparently lifeless on the floor, and alongside of him, the
body of the bear. Boone soon recovered, and found that the lucky blow
which had saved him from being crashed to death had buried the whole
blade of his knife, through the left eye, in the very brain of the
animal[29].

[Footnote 29: The black bear does not grow to any great size in the
eastern and northern parts of America, but in Arkansas and the adjacent
States it becomes, from its size and strength, almost as formidable an
antagonist as a grizzly bear. It is very common to find them eight
hundred weight, but sometimes they weigh above a thousand pounds.]



CHAPTER XXXV.


The next morning, we all three started, and by noon we had crossed the
Washita River. It is the most beautiful stream I know of, being cool and
transparent, averaging a depth of eight or ten feet, and running upon a
hard sandy bottom. While we were crossing, Boone told us that as soon as
we arrived at the summit of the woody hills before us, if we looked
sharp, we should see some bears, for he had never passed that way
without shooting one or two.

We forded the stream, and entered into a noble forest of maple trees,
the ground now rising in gentle swells for several miles, when the
fir-pines, succeeding to the maple, told us that we had reached the
highest point of the hills. Hearing some trampling and rustling at a
distance, I spurred my horse to take the lead and have the first chance
of a shot, when I perceived to my left, not twenty yards from me and in
a small patch of briars, a large she-bear playing with her cub. I was
just raising my rifle to fire, when Boone's voice called me back, and I
perceived that he and Finn had just dismounted and entered a thicket.
Knowing that they must have an object in view, I joined them, and asked
them what was the matter.

"Rare sport," answered Finn, extending his hand towards a precipitous
and rocky part of the mountain.

It was sport, and of a very singular description.

A large deer was running at full speed, closely pursued by a puma. The
chase had already been a long one, for as they came nearer and nearer, I
could perceive both their long parched tongues hanging out of their
mouths, and their bounding, though powerful, was no longer so elastic as
usual. The deer, having now arrived within two hundred yards of the
bear, stopped a moment to sniff the air; then coming still nearer, he
made a bound, with his head extended, to ascertain if Bruin was still
near him. As the puma was closing with him, the deer wheeled sharp
round, and turning back almost upon his own trail, passed within thirty
yards of his pursuer, who, not being able at once to stop his career,
gave an angry growl and followed the deer again, but at a distance of
some hundred yards; hearing the growl, Bruin drew his body half out of
the briars, remaining quietly on the look-out.

"Gone," I exclaimed.

"Wait a bit," answered Boone; "here he comes again."

He was right; the deer again appeared, coming towards us, but his speed
was much reduced, and as he approached us, it was evident that the
animal was calculating his distance with precision. The puma, now
expecting to seize his prey, followed about thirty yards behind; the
bear, aware of the close vicinity of her enemy, cleared the briars and
squared herself for action, when the deer, with a beautiful and powerful
spring, passed the bear's head and disappeared. At the moment he took
the leap, the puma was close upon him, and was just balancing himself
for a spring, when he perceived, to his astonishment, that now he was
faced by a formidable adversary, not the least disposed to fly. He
crouched, lashing his flanks with his long tail, while the bear, about
five yards from him, remained like a statue looking at the puma with his
little glaring eyes.

One minute they remained thus; the puma, its sides heaving with
exertion, agitated, and apparently undecided; the bear, perfectly calm
and motionless. Gradually the puma crawled backwards, till at a right
distance for a spring, when, throwing all its weight upon its hind
parts, to increase its power, it darted upon the bear like lightning,
and fixed its claws into her back. The bear, with irresistible force,
seized the puma with her two fore-paws, pressing it with all the weight
of her body and rolling over it. We heard a heavy grunt, a plaintive
howl, a crashing of bones, and the puma was dead. The cub of the bear
came to ascertain what was going on, and after a few minutes'
examination of the victim, it strutted down the slope of the hill,
followed by its mother, which was apparently unhurt. We did not attempt
to prevent their retreat, for among real hunters in the wilds, there is
a feeling which restrains them from attacking an animal which has just
undergone a deadly strife. This is a very common practice of the deer,
when chased by a puma--that of leading him to the haunt of a bear; I
have oftened witnessed it, although I never before knew the deer to
turn, as it did in this instance.

This incident reminds me of another, which was witnessed by Gabriel, a
short time before the murder of the Prince Seravalle. Gabriel had left
his companions, to look after game, and he soon came upon the track of a
wild boar, which led to a grove of tall persimon trees; then, for the
first time, he perceived that he had left his pouch and powder-horn in
the camp; but he cared little about it, as he knew that his aim was
certain. When within sixty yards of the grove, he spied the boar at the
foot of one of the outside trees: the animal was eating the fruit which
had fallen. Gabriel raised his eyes to the thick-leaved branches of the
tree, and perceived that there was a large black bear in the tree, also
regaling himself with the fruit. Gabriel approached to within thirty
yards, and was quite absorbed with the novelty of the sight.

At every motion of Bruin, hundreds of persimons would fall down, and
these, of course were the ripest. This the bear knew very well, and it
was with no small jealousy that he witnessed the boar below making so
luxurious a meal at his expense, while he could only pick the green
fruit, and that with difficulty, as he dared not trust his body too far
upon the smaller limbs of the tree. Now and then he would growl
fiercely, and put his head down, and the boar would look at him with a
pleased and grateful motion of the head, answering the growl by a grunt,
just as to say, "Thank you; very polite to eat the green ones and send
me the others." This Bruin understood, and he could bear it no longer;
he began to shake the tree violently, till the red persimons fell like a
shower around the boar; then there was a duet of growls and
grunts--angry and terrific from the bear above, denoting satisfaction
and pleasure on the part of the boar below.

Gabriel had come in pursuit of the boar, but now he changed his mind,
for, considering the present angry mood of Bruin, he was certain to be
attacked by him if discovered. As to going away, it was a thing he would
not think of, as long as his rifle was loaded; so he waited and watched,
until the bear should give him an opportunity of aiming at a vital part.
This he waited for in vain, and, on reflection, he determined to wound
the bear: for, knowing the humour of the animal, he felt almost positive
it would produce a conflict between him and the boar, which the bear
would attack in his wrath. He fired; the bear was evidently wounded,
although but slightly, and he began roaring and scratching his neck in a
most furious manner, and looking vindictively at the boar, which, at the
report of the rifle, had merely raised his head for a moment, and then
resumed his meal. Bruin was certainly persuaded that the wound he had
received had been inflicted by the beast below. He made up his mind to
punish him, and, to spare the trouble and time of descending, dropped
from the tree, and rushed upon the boar, which met him at once, and,
notwithstanding Bruin's great strength, he proved to him that a ten
years' old wild boar, with seven-inch tusks, was a very formidable
antagonist. Bruin soon felt the tusks of the boar ripping him up; ten
or twelve streams of blood were rushing from his sides, yet he did not
give way; on the contrary, he grew fiercer and fiercer, and at last the
boar was almost smothered under the huge paws of his adversary. The
struggle lasted a few minutes more, the grunting and growling becoming
fainter and fainter, till both combatants lay motionless. They were dead
when Gabriel came up to them; the bear horribly mangled, and the boar
with every bone of his body broken. Gabriel filled his hat with the
persimons which were the cause of this tragedy, and returned to the camp
for help and ammunition.

Finn, Boone, and I resumed our journey, and after a smart ride of two
hours we entered upon a beautiful spot, called "Magnet Cove." This is
one of the great curiosities of the Arkansas, and there are few planters
who do not visit it at least once in their lives, even if they have to
travel a distance of one hundred miles.

It is a small valley surrounded by rocky hills, one or two hundred feet
high, and forming a belt, in the shape of a horse-shoe. From these rocks
flow hundreds of sulphuric springs, some boiling and some cold, all
pouring into large basins, which their waters have dug out during their
constant flow of so many centuries. These mineral springs are so very
numerous in this part of the country, that they would scarcely be worth
mentioning, were it not that in this valley, for more than a mile in
circumference, the stones and rocks, which are of a dull black colour
and very heavy, are all magnetic.

It is a custom for every visitor to bring with him some pieces of iron,
to throw against the rocks: the appearance is very strange; old
horse-shoes, forks, knives, bars of iron, nails, and barrels of pistols,
are hanging from the projecting stones, the nails standing upright, as
if they were growing. These pieces of iron have themselves become very
powerfully magnetic. I picked up a horse-shoe, which I afterwards found
lifted a bar of steel of two pounds weight.

Half a mile from this singular spot dwelt another old pioneer, a friend
of my companions, and at his cabin we stopped to pass the night. Our
host was only remarkable for his great hospitality and greater
taciturnity; he had always lived in the wilds, quite alone, and the only
few words he would utter were incoherent. It appeared as if his mind was
fixed upon scenes of the past. In his early life he had been one of the
companions of the celebrated pirate La Fitte, and after the defence of
New Orleans, in which the pirates played no inconsiderable part (they
had the management of the artillery), he accepted the free pardon of the
President, and forcing his way through the forests and swamps of
Louisiana, was never heard of for five or six years. Subsequently,
circumstances brought about an intimacy between him and my two
companions, but, contrary to the habits of pioneers and trappers, he
never reverted to his former adventures, but always evaded the subject.

There were mysterious rumours afloat about treasure which had been
buried by the pirates in Texas, known only to him; a thing not
improbable, as the creeks, lagoons, and bays of that country had always
been a favourite resort of these freebooters; but nothing had ever been
extracted from him relative to the question. He was now living with an
Indian woman of the Flat-head tribe, by whom he had several children,
and this was also a subject upon which the western farmers had much
to say.

Had the squaw been a Creek, a Cherokee, or an Osage woman, it would have
created no surprise; but how came he in possession of a woman belonging
to so distant a tribe? Moreover, the squaw looked so proud, so
imperious, so queenly; there was a mystery, which every one was anxious,
but unable to solve.

We left our host early in the morning, and arrived at noon at the hot
springs, where I was to part company with my entertaining companions.

I was, however, persuaded to remain till the next morning, as Finn
wished to give me a letter for a friend of his in South Missouri. Of the
hot springs of the Arkansas, I can give no better description, than by
quoting the following lines from a Little Rock newspaper:--

"The warm springs are among the most interesting curiosities of our
country: they are in great numbers. One of them, the central one, emits
a vast quantity of water; the ordinary temperature is that of boiling
water. When the season is dry, and the volume of water somewhat
diminished, the temperature of the water increases.

"The waters are remarkably limpid and pure, and are used by the people
who resort there for health, for culinary purposes. They have been
analyzed, and exhibit no mineral properties beyond common spring water.
Their efficacy, then, for they are undoubtedly efficacious to many
invalids that resort there, results from the shades of the adjacent
mountains, and from the cool and oxygenated mountain breeze; the
convenience of warm and tepid bathing; the novelty of fresh and mountain
scenery, and the necessity of temperance, imposed by the poverty of the
country and the difficulty of procuring supplies. The cases in which the
waters are supposed to be efficacious, are those of rheumatic affection,
general debility, dyspepsia, and cutaneous complaints. At a few yards
from the hot springs is one strongly sulphuric and remarkable for its
coldness. In the wild and mountain scenery of this lonely region, there
is much of grandeur and novelty to fix the curiosity of the lover
of nature."

The next morning I bade farewell to Finn and Boone, and set off on my
journey. I could not help feeling a strange sensation of loneliness, as
I passed hill after hill, and wood after wood. It seemed to me as if
something was wrong; I talked to myself, and often looked behind to see
if any one was coming my way. This feeling, however, did not last long,
and I soon learned that, west of the Mississippi, a man with a purse and
a good horse must never travel in the company of strangers, without he
is desirous to lose them and his life to boot.

I rode without stopping the forty-five miles of dreary road which leads
from the hot springs to Little Rock, and I arrived in that capital
early at noon.

Foreigners are constantly visiting every part of the United States, and
yet very few, if any, have ever visited the Arkansas. They seem all to
be frightened away by the numerous stories of Arkansas murders, with
which a tourist is always certain to be entertained on board one of the
Mississippi steam-boats. Undoubtedly these reports of murders and
atrocities have been, as all things else are in the United States, much
exaggerated, but none can deny that the assizes of Arkansas contain more
cases of stabbing and shooting than ten of the other States
put together.

The very day I arrived at Little Rock I had an opportunity of witnessing
two or three of these Arkansas incidents, and also to hear the comments
made upon them. Legislature was then sitting. Two of the legislators
happened to be of a contrary opinion, and soon abused each other. From
words they came to blows, and one shot the other with one of Colt's
revolving six-barrel pistols. This event stopped legislative business
for that day; the corpse was carried to the tavern where I had just
arrived, and the murderer, having procured bail for two thousand
dollars, ran away during the night, and nobody ever thought of
searching for him.

The corpse proved to be a bonus for my landlord, who had it deposited in
a room next to the bar, and as the news spread, all the male population
of Little Rock came in crowds to see with their own eyes, and to give
their own opinion of the case over a bottle of wine or a glass
of whisky.

Being tired, I went to bed early, and was just dozing, in spite of the
loud talking and swearing below, when I heard five or six shots fired in
rapid succession, and followed by yells and screams. I got up and
stopped a negro girl, as she was running up-stairs, a picture of terror
and despair.

"What is the matter, Blackey?" said I, "are they shooting in the bar?"

"Oh, yes, Massa," she answered, "they shoot terrible. Dr. Francis says,
Dr. Grey is a blackguard; Dr. Grey says, Dr. Francis is a ruffian; Dr.
Francis shoots with big pistols and kills Dr. Grey; Dr. Grey shoots with
other pistols and kills Dr. Francis."

"What," I exclaimed, "after he was dead?"

"Oh no, Massa, before he was dead; they shoot together--pan, pan, pan."

I went downstairs to ascertain the circumstances attending this double
murder. A coroner's inquest had been held upon the body of the
legislator killed in the morning, and the two surgeons, who had both
drunk freely at the bar, had quarrelled about the direction which the
ball had taken. As they did not agree, they came to words; from words to
blows; ending in the grand _finale_ of shooting each other.

I was so sickened and disgusted with the events of one day, that I paid
my bill, saddled my horse myself, and got a man to ferry me over the
Arkansas river, a noble, broad, and rapid stream, on the southern bank
of which the capital is situated. I rode briskly for a short hour, and
camped in the woods alone, preferring their silence and dreariness to
remaining to witness, under a roof, further scenes of bloodshed
and murder.

North of the Arkansas river, the population, though rough and "not
better than it should be," is less sanguinary and much more hospitable;
that is to say, a landlord will show you civility for your money, and in
Batesville, a city (fifty houses, I think) upon the northern bank of the
White River, I found thirty generals, judges, and majors, who
condescended to show me every bar in the place, purchasing sundry dozens
of Havannahs and drinking sundry long toasts in iced wine, which wine
and tobacco, although ordered and consumed by themselves, they left me
to pay for, which I was willing to do, as I was informed that these
gentlemen always refrain from paying anything when a stranger is
present, from fear of wounding his delicacy.

It was in Batesville that I became enlightened as to the western paper
currency, which was fortunate, as I purchased one hundred and forty
dollars in "shin plasters," as they call them, for an English sovereign;
and for my travelling expenses they answered just as well. In the White
River ferry-boat I met with one of those itinerant Italian pedlars, who
are found, I think, everywhere under heaven, selling pins, needles, and
badly-coloured engravings, representing all the various passages of
William Tell's history, and the combats during the "three days" in 1830.
Although not a refined companion, the Genevese spoke Italian, and I was
delighted to converse in that soft tongue, not a word of which I had
spoken since the death of Prince Seravalle. I invited my companion to
the principal tavern, and called at the bar for two tumblers of
iced-mint tulip.

"How much?" I asked from the bar-keeper.

"Five dollars," he answered.

I was quite thunderstruck, and, putting my money back in my pocket, I
told him I would not pay him at all. The man then began to swear I was a
queer sort of a chap, and wondered how a _gentleman_ could drink at a
bar and not pay for his liquor.

"I always pay," I answered, "what others pay; but I will not submit to
such a swindling, and give five dollars for what Is only worth
twenty-five cents."

The host then came to me, with a smile.

"Why, Sir, we don't charge more to you than to others. Five dollars in
'shin-plasters,' or twenty-five cents in specie."

All was thus explained, and the next morning. I satisfied my bill of
twenty-two dollars, with one dollar and twelve cents in silver.

This may appear strange to the English reader, who prefers bank-notes to
gold; but he must reflect that England is not Arkansas, and that the
Bank of England is not the "Real Estate Bank of Arkansas," capital two
millions of dollars.

Notwithstanding the grandeur of the last five words, I have been
positively informed that the bank never possessed five dollars, and had
not been able to pay the poor Cincinnati engraver who made the notes.
The merchants of Little Rock, who had set up the bank, were the usual
purchasers of the produce from the farmer; but the credit of the bank
was so bad, that they were obliged to offer three dollars in their notes
for a bushel of wheat, which, in New York, commanded only eighty-four
cents in specie.

The farmers, however, were as sharp as the merchants, and, compelled to
deal with them, they hit upon a good plan. The principal landholders of
every county assembled, and agreed that they would also have a farmers'
bank, and a few months afterwards the country was inundated with notes
of six-and-a-quarter, twelve-and-a-half, twenty-five, and fifty cents,
with the following inscription: "We, the freeholders and farmers of such
county, promise to pay (so much) in Real Estate Bank of Arkansas notes,
but not under the sum of five dollars."

The bankers were caught in their own snares. They were obliged to accept
the "shin plasters" for the goods in their stores, with the pleasing
perspective of being paid back with their own notes, which made their
faces as doleful as the apothecary who was obliged to swallow his
own pills.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


From Batesville to the southern Missouri border, the road continues for
a hundred miles through a dreary solitude of rocky mountains and pine
forests, full of snakes and a variety of game, but without the smallest
vestige of civilization. There is not a single blade of grass to be
found, except in the hollows, and these are too swampy for a horse to
venture upon. Happily, small clear and limpid brooks are passed every
half-hour, and I had had the precaution to provide myself, at a farm,
with a large bag of maize for my horse. After all, we fared better than
we should have done at the log huts, and my faithful steed, at all
events, escaped the "ring." What the "ring" is, I will explain to
the reader.

In these countries, it always requires a whole day's smart riding to go
from one farm to another; and when the traveller is a "raw trotter" or a
"green one" (Arkansas denomination for a stranger), the host employs all
his cunning to ascertain if his guest has any money, as, if so, his
object is to detain him as long as he can. To gain this information,
although there are always at home half-a-dozen strong boys to take the
horses, he sends a pretty girl (a daughter, or a niece) to show you the
stable and the maize-store. This nymph becomes the traveller's
attendant; she shows him the garden and the pigs, and the stranger's
bedroom, &c. The consequence is, that the traveller becomes gallant, the
girl insists upon washing his handkerchief and mending his jacket before
he starts the next morning, and by keeping constantly with him, and
continual conversation, she is, generally speaking, able to find out
whether the traveller has money or not, and reports accordingly.

Having supped, slept, and breakfasted, he pays his bill and asks for his
horse.

"Why, Sir," answers the host, "something is wrong with the animal--he is
lame."

The traveller thinks it is only a trifle; he starts, and discovers,
before he has made a mile, that his beast cannot possibly go on; so he
returns to the farm, and is there detained, for a week perhaps, until
his horse is fit to travel.

I was once cheated in this very manner, and had no idea that I had been
tricked; but, on leaving another farm, on the following day, I found my
horse was again lame. Annoyed at having been delayed so long, I
determined to go on, in spite of my horse's lameness. I travelled on for
three miles, till at last I met with an elderly man also on horseback.
He stopped and surveyed me attentively, and then addressed me:--

"I see youngster, you are a green one."

Now I was in uncommon bad temper that morning, and I answered his
question with a "What do you mean, you old fool?"

"Nay, pardon me," he resumed; "I would not insult a stranger. I am
Governor Yell, of this state, and I see that some of my 'clever
citizens' have been playing a trick upon you. If you will allow me, I
will cure the lameness of your horse in two minutes."

At the mention of his name, I knew I was speaking to a gentleman. I
apologized for my rough rejoinder, and the governor, dismounting, then
explained to me the mystery of the "ring." Just above my horse's hoof,
and well concealed under the hair, was a stout silken thread, tied very
tight; this being cut, the horse, in a moment, got rid of his lameness.

As the governor and I parted, he gave me this parental advice:--

"My dear young man," said he, "I will give you a hint, which will enable
you to travel safely through the Arkansas. Beware of pretty girls, and
honest, clever people; never say you are travelling further than from
the last city to the nearest, as a long journey generally implies that
you have cash; and, if possible, never put your horse in a stable.
Farewell."

The soil in the Arkansas is rocky and mountainous as far as to the
western border of the state, when you enter upon the great American
desert, which continues to the other side of the Cimarron, nearly to the
foot of the Cordilleras. The eastern portion of Arkansas, which is
watered by the Mississippi, is an unknown swamp, for there the ground is
too soft even for the light-footed Indian; and, I may say, that the
whole territory contained between the Mississippi and the St. Francis
river is nothing but a continued river-bottom.

It is asserted, on the authority of intelligent residents, that the
river-bottoms of the St. Francis were not subject to be overflowed
previous to the earthquakes of 1811 and 1812, when an extensive tract in
the valley of that river sank to a considerable depth. According to
Stoddart, who knew nothing of the shocks of 1811, earthquakes have been
common here from the first settlement of the country; he himself
experienced several shocks at Kaskaskia, in 1804, by which the soldiers
stationed there were aroused from sleep, and the buildings were much
shaken and disjointed. Oscillations still occur with such frequency as
to be regarded with indifference by the inhabitants, who familiarly call
them _shakes_. But the earthquakes of 1811 and 1812, which were felt
from New England to New Orleans, are the only ones known to have left
permanent traces, although there is every probability that this part of
the valley of the Mississippi has been much convulsed at former periods.

In 1812 the earth opened in wide chasms, from which columns of water and
sand burst forth; hills disappeared, and their sites were occupied by
lakes; the beds of the lakes were raised, and their waters flowed off,
leaving them dry; the courses of the streams were changed by the
elevation of their beds and the falling of their banks; for one whole
hour the current of the Mississippi was turned backwards towards its
source, until its accumulated waters were able to break through the
barrier which had dammed them up; boats were dashed on the banks, or
suddenly left dry in the deserted channel, or hurried backwards and
forwards with the surging eddies; while in the midst of these awful
changes, electric fires, accompanied by loud rumblings, flashed through
the air, which was darkened with clouds and vapour.

In some places, submerged forests and cane-brakes are still visible at a
great depth, on the bottom of lakes, which were then formed. That the
causes of these convulsions were not local, as some have imagined, is
evident enough from the fact, that the Azores, the West India Islands,
and the northern coast of South America were unusually agitated at the
same time, and the cities of Carracas, Laguayra, and some others were
totally destroyed.

I had been advised not to stop at any house on the borders, and would
have proceeded on to Missouri, bivouacking during the night, had it not
been that the rainy season had just commenced, and it was far from
pleasant to pass the night exposed to the most terrific showers of rain
that could be imagined. When I arrived upon the St. Francis river, I
found myself compelled by the state of the weather to stop at a
parson's--I don't know what particular sect he professed to belong to;
but he was reputed to be the greatest hypocrite in the world, and the
"smartest scoundrel" in the Arkansas.

My horse was put into the stable, my saddle into the hall, and I
brought my saddle-bags into the sitting-room. Then, as usual, I went to
the well for a purification after my day's ride. To my astonishment, I
found, on my return, that my saddlebags had already disappeared. I had
in them jewels and money to rather a considerable amount for a person in
my position, and I inquired of a woman cooking in the next room what had
become of them. She answered she did not know, but that probably her
father had put them out of the way.

I waited a long while, standing at the door, with no small anxiety, till
at last I perceived the parson crossing an Indian-corn field, and coming
towards the house. I went to meet him, and asked what he had done with
my saddle-bags; to which question he answered angrily, he did not know
what I meant; that I had no saddle-bags when I came to his house; that
he suspected I was a knowing one, but could not come round so old a fox
as he was.

As by that time I was perfectly _au fait_ to all the tricks of Arkansas
smartness, I returned to the hall, took my pistols from the holsters,
placed them in my belt, and, seizing my rifle, I followed his trail upon
the soft ground of the fields. It led me to a corn-house, and there,
after an hour's search, I found my lost saddle-bags. I threw them upon
my shoulders, and returned to the house just as a terrible shower had
commenced. When within fifteen yards from the threshold, the parson,
with his wife and daughter, a pretty girl of sixteen, in tears, came up
to me to apologize. The mother declared the girl would be the death of
her, and the parson informed me, with great humility, that his daughter,
having entered the room, and seeing the saddle-bags, had taken and
hidden them, believing that they belonged to her sweetheart, who was
expected on a visit. Upon this, the girl cried most violently, saying
she only wished to play a trick to Charley. She was an honest girl,
and no thief.

I thought proper to pretend to be satisfied with this explanation and
ordered my supper, and, shortly afterwards, to my great relief, new
guests arrived; they were four Missourian planters, returning home from
a bear-hunt in the swamps of the St. Francis. One of them was a Mr.
Courtenay, to whom I had a letter from Captain Finn, and, before the day
had closed, I received a cordial invitation to go and stay with him for
at least a week.

As he spoke French, I told him, in that language, my saddle-bag
adventure; he was not surprised, as he was aware of the character of our
host. It was arranged that Mr. Courtenay and I should sleep in a
double-bedded room on the first floor; the other hunters were
accommodated in another part of the house. Before retiring for the
night, they all went to visit their horses, and the young girl took that
opportunity to light me to the room.

"Oh, Sir," she said to me, after she had closed the door, "pray do not
tell the other travellers what I did, or they would all say that I am
courting Charley, and my character would be lost."

"Mark me," replied I, "I have already told the story, and I know the
Charley story is nothing but a--what your father ordered you to say.
When I went to the corn-house, the tracks I followed were those made by
your father's heavy boots, and not by your light pumps and small feet.
The parson is a villain; tell him that; and if it were not too much
trouble, I would summon him before some magistrate."

The girl appeared much shocked, and I repented my harshness, and was
about to address her more kindly, when she interrupted me.

"Spare me, Sir," she said, "I know all; I am so unhappy; if I had but a
place to go to, where I could work for bread, I would do it in a minute,
for here I am very, very miserable."

At that moment the poor girl heard the footsteps of the hunters,
returning from the stable, and she quitted me in haste.

When Mr. Courtenay entered the room, he told me he expected that the
parson was planning some new iniquity, for he had seen him just then
crossing the river in a dug-out. As everything was to be feared from the
rascal, after the circumstance of the saddle-bags, we resolved that we
would keep a watch; we dragged our beds near the window, and lay down
without undressing.

To pass away the time, we talked of Captain Finn and of the Texans. Mr.
Courtenay related to me a case of negro-stealing by the same General
John Meyer, of whom my fellow companion, the parson, had already talked
so much while we travelling in Texas. One winter, Mr. Courtenay,
returning from the East, was stopped In Vincennes (Indiana) by the
depth of the snow, which for a few days rendered the roads impassable.
There he saw a very fine breed of sheep, which he determined to
introduce upon his plantation; and hearing that the general would be
coming down the river in a large flat boat as soon as the ice would
permit, he made an agreement with him that he should bring a dozen of
the animals to the plantation, which stood a few miles below the mouth
of the Ohio, on the other side of the Mississippi.

Meyer made his bargain, and two months afterwards delivered the live
stock, for which he received the price agreed upon. Then he asked
permission to encamp upon Mr. Courtenay's land, as his boat had received
some very serious injury, which could not be repaired under five or six
days. Mr. Courtenay allowed Meyer and his people to take shelter in a
brick barn, and ordered his negroes to furnish the boat-men with
potatoes and vegetables of all descriptions.

Three or four days afterwards he was astonished by, several of his
slaves informing him the general had been tampering with them, saying
they were fools to remain slaves, when they could be as free as white
men, and that if they would come down the river with him, he would take
them to Texas, where he would pay them twenty dollars a month for
their labour.

Courtenay advised them, by all means, to seem to accede to the
proposition, and gave them instructions as to how they were to act. He
then despatched notes to some twenty neighbours, requesting them to come
to the plantation, and bring their whips with them, as they would
be required.

Meyer having repaired his boats, came to return thanks, and to announce
his departure early on the following morning. At eleven o'clock, when he
thought everybody in the house was asleep, he hastened, with two of his
sons, to a lane, where he had made an appointment with the negroes to
meet him and accompany him to his boat, which was ready to start. He
found half-a-dozen of the negroes, and, advising them not to speak
before they were fairly off the plantation, desired them to follow him
to the boat; but, to his astonishment, he soon discovered that the lane
was occupied with other negroes and white men, armed with the
much-dreaded cow-hides. He called out to his two sons to fly, but it was
too late.

The general and his two sons were undoubtedly accustomed to such
disasters, for they showed amazing dexterity in taking advantage of the
angles of the fences, to evade the lashes: but, in spite of all their
devices, they were cruelly punished, as they had nearly a quarter of a
mile of gauntlet to run through before they were clear of the lane. In
vain they groaned, and swore, and prayed; the blows fell thicker and
thicker, principally from the hands of the negroes, who, having now and
then tasted of the cow-hide, were in high glee at the idea of flogging
white men.

The worshipful general and his dutiful sons at last arrived at their
boat, quite exhausted, and almost fainting under the agony of the
well-applied lashes. Once on board, they cut their cable, and pushed
into the middle of the stream; and although Meyer had come down the
river at least ten times since, he always managed to pass the plantation
during night, and close to the bank of the opposite shore.

I told Mr. Courtenay what I knew myself about General John Meyer; while
I was talking, his attention was attracted by a noise near the stables,
which were situated at the bottom of a lane, before our windows. We
immediately suspected that there would be an attempt to steal our
horses; so I handed my rifle to my companion, who posted himself in a
position commanding the lane, through which the thief or thieves must
necessarily pass.

We waited thus in suspense for a few minutes, till Mr. Courtenay desired
me to take his place, saying,--

"If any one passes the lane with any of our horses, shoot him; I will go
down myself and thrash the blackguard, for I suspect the parson will
turn them into the swamps, where he is pretty certain of recovering them
afterwards."

Saying this, he advanced to the door, and was just putting has hand upon
the latch, when we heard a most terrific yell, which was followed by a
neighing, which I recognized as that of my horse. Taking our pistols and
bowie-knives, we hurried down the lane.

We found that our two horses, with a third, belonging to one of the
hunters, were out of the stable, and tied neck and tail, so as to
require only one person to lead them. The first one had the bridle on,
and the last, which was mine, was in a state of excitement, as if
something unusual had happened to him. On continuing our search, we
found the body of a young man, most horribly mangled, the breast being
entirely open, and the heart and intestines hanging outside.

It appeared that my faithful steed, which had already shown, in Texas, a
great dislike to being taken away from me, had given the thief the
terrible kick, which had thrown him ten or fifteen yards, as I have said
a mangled corpse. By this time, the other hunters came out to us; lights
were procured, and then we learned that the victim was the parson's
eldest son, newly married, and settled on the east side of the St.
Francis. The parson was not long himself in making his appearance; but
he came from an opposite direction to that of the house, and he was
dressed as on the evening before: he had evidently not been to bed
during that night.

As soon as he became aware of the melancholy circumstance, he raved and
swore that he would have the lives of the damned Frenchman and his
damnation horse; but Mr. Courtenay went to him, and said--

"Hold your tongue, miserable man! See your own work, for you have caused
this death. It was to fetch your son, to help you to steal the horses,
that you crossed the river in the dug-out. Be silent, I say; you know
me; look at your eldest-born, villain that you are! May the chain of
your future misery be long, and the last link of it the gibbet, which
you deserve!"

The parson was silent, even when his sobbing wife reproached him. "I
warned thee, husband," she said; "even now has this come, and I fear
that worse is still to come. Unlucky was the hour we met: still more so
when the child was born;" and, leaning against the fence, she
wept bitterly.

I will pass over the remainder of this melancholy scene. We all felt for
the mother and the poor girl, who stood by with a look of despair.
Saddling our horses, Mr. Courtenay and I resumed our journey, the
hunters remaining behind till the arrival of the magistrate, whom we
promised to send. To procure one, we were obliged to quit the high road,
and, after a ride of several miles, having succeeded in finding his
house, we woke him, gave him the necessary directions, and, at sunrise,
forded the river.



CHAPTER XXXVII.


At last we arrived at the plantation of Mr. Courtenay: the house was one
of the very few buildings in the United States in which taste was
displayed. A graceful portico, supported by columns; large verandahs,
sheltered by jessamine; and the garden so green and so smiling, with its
avenues of acacias and live fences of holly and locust, all recalled to
my mind the scenes of my childhood in Europe. Every thing was so neat
and comfortable; the stables so airy, the dogs so well housed, and the
slaves so good-humoured-looking, so clean and well dressed.

When we descended from our horses, a handsome lady appeared at the
portico, with joy and love beaming in her face, as five or six beautiful
children, having at last perceived our arrival, left their play to
welcome and kiss their father. A lovely vision of youth and beauty also
made its appearance--one of those slender girls of the South, a woman of
fifteen years old, with her dark eyelashes and her streaming ebony hair;
slaves of all ages--mulattoes and quadroon girls, old negroes and boy
negroes, all calling together--"Eh! Massa Courtenay, kill plenty bear,
dare say; now plenty grease for black family, good Massa Courtenay."

Add to all this, the dogs barking and the horses neighing, and truly the
whole _tableau_ was one of unbounded affection and happiness, I doubt
if, in all North America, there is another plantation equal to that of
Mr. Courtenay.

I soon became an inmate of the family, and for the first time enjoyed
the pleasures of highly-polished society. Mrs. Courtenay was an
admirable performer upon the harp; Miss Emma Courtenay, her niece, was a
delightful pianist; and my host himself was no mean amateur upon the
flute. Our evenings would pass quickly away, in reading Shakspeare,
Corneille, Racine, Metastasio, or the modern writers of English
literature: after which we would remain till the night had far advanced,
enjoying the beautiful compositions of Beethoven, Gluck, and Mozart, or
the brilliant overtures of Donizetti, Bellini, and Meyerbeer.

Thus my time passed like a happy dream, and as, from the rainy season
having just set in, all travelling was impossible. I remained many weeks
with my kind entertainers, the more willingly, that the various trials I
had undergone had, at so early an age, convinced me that, upon earth,
happiness was too scarce not to be enjoyed when presented to you. Yet in
the midst of pleasure I did not forget the duty I owed to my tribe, and
I sent letters to Joe Smith, the Mormon leader at Nauvoo, that we might
at once enter into an arrangement. Notwithstanding the bad season, we
had some few days of sunshine, in which pretty Miss Emma and I would
take long rambles in the woods; and sometimes, too, my host would invite
the hunters of his neighbourhood, for a general _battue_ against bears,
deer, and wild cats. Then we would encamp out under good tents, and
during the evening, while smoking near our blazing fires, I would hear
stories which taught me more of life in the United States than if I had
been residing there for years.

"Dis-moi qui tu fréquentes, je te dirai qui tu es," is the old French
proverb. Mr. Courtenay never chose his companions but among the more
intellectual classes of the society around him, and, of course, these
stories were not only well told, but interesting in their subject. Often
the conversation would fall upon the Mormons, and perceiving how anxious
I was to learn anything about this new sect, my host introduced me to a
very talented gentleman, who had every information connected with their
history. From him I learned the particulars which gave rise to
Mormonism, undoubtedly the most extraordinary imposition of the
nineteenth century.

There existed years ago a Connecticut man, named Solomon Spalding, a
relation of the one who invented the wooden nut-megs. By following him
through his career, the reader will find him a Yankee of the true stock.
He appears at first as a law student; then as a preacher, a merchant,
and a bankrupt; afterwards he becomes a blacksmith in a small western
village: then a land speculator and a county schoolmaster; later still,
he becomes the owner of an iron-foundry; once more a bankrupt; at last a
writer and a dreamer.

As might be expected, he died a beggar somewhere in Pennsylvania, little
thinking that, by a singular coincidence, one of his productions (the
"Manuscript found"), redeemed from oblivion by a few rogues, would
prove in their hands a powerful weapon, and be the basis of one of the
most anomalous, yet powerful secessions which has ever been experienced
by the Established Church.

We find, under the title of the "Manuscript found," an historical
romance of the first settlers of America, endeavouring to show that the
American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It
gives a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and by
sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of Nephi and Lehi.
They afterwards had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two
distinct nations, one of which is denominated Nephites, and the other
Lamanites.

Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They
buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds now so
commonly found on the continent of America. Their knowledge in the arts
and sciences, and their civilization, are dwelt upon, in order to
account for all the remarkable ruins of cities and other curious
antiquities, found in various parts of North and South America.

Solomon Spalding writes in the biblic style, and commences almost every
sentence with, "And it came to pass,"--"Now, it came to pass."

Although some powers of imagination, and a degree of scientific
information are displayed throughout the whole romance, it remained for
several years unnoticed, on the shelves of Messrs. Patterson and
Lambdin, printers, in Pittsbourg.

Many years passed, when Lambdin the printer, having failed, wished _to
raise the wind by some book speculation_. Looking over the various
manuscripts then in his possession, the "Manuscript found," venerable in
its dust, was, upon examination, looked upon as a gold mine, which would
restore to affluence the unfortunate publisher. But death summoned
Lambdin away, and put an end to the speculation, as far as his interests
were concerned.

Lambdin had intrusted the precious manuscript to his bosom friend,
Sidney Rigdon, that he might embellish and alter it, as he might think
expedient. The publisher now dead, Rigdon allowed this _chef-d'oeuvre_
to remain in his desk, till, reflecting upon his precarious means, and
upon his chances of obtaining a future livelihood, a sudden idea struck
him. Rigdon well knew his countrymen, and their avidity for the
marvellous; he resolved to give to the world the "_manuscript found_,"
not as a mere work of imagination or disquisition, as its writer had
intended it to be, but as a new code of religion, sent down to man, as
of yore, on awful Sinai, the tables were given unto Moses.

For some time, Rigdon worked very hard, studying the Bible, altering his
book, and preaching every Sunday. As the reader may easily imagine, our
Bible student had been, as well as Spalding, a Jack-of-all-trades,
having successively filled the offices of attorney, bar keeper, clerk,
merchant, waiter, newspaper editor, preacher, and, finally, a hanger-on
about printing-offices, where he could always pick up some little job in
the way of proof correcting and so forth.

To us this variety of occupations may appear very strange, but among the
unsettled and ambitious population of the United States, men at the age
of fifty have been, or at least have tried to be everything, not in
gradation, from the lowest up to the highest, but just as it may
happen--doctor yesterday and waiter to-day--the Yankee philosopher will
to-morrow run for a seat in legislature; if he fails, he may turn a
Methodist preacher, a Mormon, a land speculator, a member of the "Native
American Society," or a mason--that is to say, a journeyman mason.

Two words more upon Rigdon, before we leave him in his comparative
insignificance! He is undoubtedly the father of Mormonism, and the
author of the "Golden Book," with the exception of a few subsequent
alterations made by Joe Smith. It was easy for him, from the first
planning of his intended imposture to publicly discuss, in the pulpit,
many strange points of controversy, which were eventually to become the
corner-stones of the structure which he wished to raise.

The novelty of the discussions was greedily received by many, and, of
course, prepared them for that which was coming. Yet, it seems that
Rigdon soon perceived the evils which his wild imposture would generate,
and he recoiled from his task, not, because there remained lurking in
his breast some few sparks of honesty, but because he wanted courage; he
was a scoundrel, but a timorous one, and always in dread of the
penitentiary. With him, Mormonism was a mere money speculation, and he
resolved to shelter himself behind some fool who might bear the whole
odium, while he would reap a golden harvest, and quietly retire before
the coming of a storm. But, as is often the case, he reckoned without
his host; for it so happened that, in searching for a tool of this
description, he found in Joe Smith one not precisely what he had
calculated upon. He wanted a compound of roguery and folly as his tool
and slave; Smith was a rogue and an unlettered man, but he was what
Rigdon was not aware of--a man of bold conception, full of courage and
mental energy, one of those unprincipled, yet lofty, aspiring beings,
who, centuries past, would have succeeded as well as Mahomet, and who
has, even in this more enlightened age, accomplished that which is
wonderful to contemplate.

When it was too late to retract, Rigdon perceived with dismay that,
instead of acquiring a silly bondsman, he had subjected himself to a
superior will; he was now himself a slave, bound by fear and interest,
his two great guides through life. Smith consequently became, instead of
Rigdon, "the elect of God," and is now at the head of thousands, a great
religious and political leader.

From the same gentleman, I also learned the history of Joseph Smith; and
I will lay before the reader what, from various documents, I have
succeeded in collecting concerning this remarkable impostor, together
with a succinct account of the rise and progress of this new sect, as it
is a remarkable feature in the history of nations.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


My readers have already been made acquainted with the history of the
"Book," upon which the imposture of Mormonism has been founded, and of
the acquaintance which took place between Rigdon and Joe Smith, whose
career I shall now introduce.

The father of Joe was one of a numerous class of people who are termed,
in the west, "money diggers," living a sort of vagrant life, imposing
upon the credulous farmers by pretending that they knew of treasure
concealed, and occasionally stealing horses and cattle. Joseph Smith was
the second son, and a great favourite of his father, who stated
everywhere that Joe had that species of second sight, which enabled him
to discover where treasure was hidden. Joe did certainly turn out very
smart, and it was prophesied by the "old ones" that, provided he was not
hung, Joe would certainly become a general, if he did not gain the
office of President of the United States. But Joe's smartness was so
great, that Palmyra, where his father usually resided, became too small
for the exercise of his talents, and our hero set off on his travels.

Some time afterwards Joe was again heard of. In one of his rambles, he
had gone to Harmony (Pennsylvania), and there formed an acquaintance
with a young woman. In the fall of 1826, being then at Philadelphia, he
resolved to go and get married to her, but, being destitute of means, he
now set his wits to work to raise some money and get a recommendation,
so as to obtain the fair one of his choice. He went to a man named
Lawrence, and stated that he had discovered in Pennsylvania, on the bank
of the Susquehanna river, a very rich mine of silver, and if he,
Lawrence, would go there with him, he might have a share in the profits;
that it was near high water mark, and that they could put the silver
into boats, and take it down the river to Philadelphia, and dispose of
it. Lawrence asked Joseph if he was not deceiving him.

"No," replied Joe, "for I have been there and seen it with my own eyes,
and if you do not find it is so when we get there, I will bind myself to
be your servant for three years."

By oaths, asseverations, and fair promises, Lawrence was induced to
believe in Joe's assertion, and agreed to go with him; and as Joseph was
out of money, Lawrence had to defray the whole expenses of the journey.
When they arrived at Harmony, Joseph was strongly recommended by
Lawrence, who was well known to the parents of the young woman; after
which, they proceeded on their journey to the silver mine, made a
diligent search, and of course found nothing. Thus Lawrence had his
trouble for his pains, and returned home with his pockets lighter than
when he started, whilst honest Joe had not only his expenses paid, but a
good recommendation to the father of his fair one.

Joe now proposed to marry the girl, but the parents were opposed to the
match. One day, when they happened to be from home, he took advantage of
the opportunity, went off with her, and the knot was tied.

Being still destitute of money, he now again set his wits to work to
contrive to get back to Manchester, at that time his place of residence,
and he hit upon the following plan, which succeeded. He went to an
honest old Dutchman, by the name of Stowel, and told him that he had
discovered on the banks of the Black River, in the village of Watertown
(Jefferson County, N.Y.), a cave, in which he found a bar of gold as big
as his leg, and about three or four feet long; that he could not get it
out alone on account of its great weight; and if Stowel would frank him
and his wife to Manchester (N.Y.), they would then go together to the
cave, and Stowel should share the prize with him. The good Dutchman
consented.

A short time after their arrival at Manchester, Stowel reminded Joseph
of his promise, but he coolly replied that he could not go just then, as
his wife was amongst strangers, and would be very lonesome if he quitted
her. Mr. Stowel was, like Mr. Lawrence, obliged to return without any
remuneration, and with less money than he came. I mention these two
freaks of Joe Smith, as they explain the money-digger's system of fraud.

It would hardly be believed that, especially among the cunning Yankees,
such "mines and treasures" stories should be credited; but it is a
peculiar feature in the U.S. that the inhabitants, so difficult to
over-reach in other matters, will greedily take the bait when "mines" or
"hidden treasure" are spoken of. In Missouri and Wisconsin, immense beds
of copper ore and lead have been discovered in every direction.
Thousands of poor, ignorant farmers, emigrants from the East, have
turned diggers, miners, and smelters. Many have accumulated large
fortunes in the space of a few years, and have returned "wealthy
gentlemen" to their own native state, much to the astonishment of their
neighbours.

Thus has the "mining spirit" been kept alive, and impostors of every
variety have reaped their harvest, by speculating upon the well-known
avidity of the "_people of America!_"

It was in the beginning of 1827, that Joe, in a trip to Pittsburg,
became acquainted with Rigdon. A great intimacy took place betwixt them,
and they paid each other alternate visits--Joe coming to Pittsburg and
Rigdon going to the Susquehanna, _for pleasure excursions, at a
friend's_. It was also during the year that the Smith family assumed a
new character. In the month of June, Joseph Smith, sen., went to a
wealthy, but credulous farmer, and related the following story:--

"That some years ago, a spirit had appeared to Joe, his son, and, in a
vision, informed him that in a certain place there was a record on
plates of gold, and that he was the person who must obtain them, and
this he must do in the following manner:--On the 22nd of September, he
must repair to the place where these plates of gold were deposited,
dressed in black clothes, and riding a black horse, with a switch tail,
and demand the plates in a certain name; and, after obtaining them, he
must immediately go away, and neither lay them down nor look
behind him."

The farmer gave credit to old Smith's communication. He accordingly
fitted out Joseph with a suit of black clothes, and borrowed a black
horse. Joe (by his own account) repaired to the place of deposit, and
demanded the plates, which were in a stone box, unsealed, and so near
the surface of the ground that he could see one end of it; raising the
lid up, he took out the plates of gold; but fearing some one might
discover where he got them, he laid them down, to replace the top stone
as he had found it; when, turning round, to his surprise, there were no
plates to be seen. He again opened the box, and saw the plates in it; he
attempted to take them out, but was not able. He perceived in the box
something like a toad, which gradually assumed the appearance of a man,
and struck him on the side of his head. Not being discouraged at
trifles, Joe again stooped down and attempted to take the plates, when
the spirit struck him again, knocked him backwards three or four rods,
and hurt him very much: recovering from his fright, he inquired of the
spirit, why he could not take the plates; to which the spirit made
reply, "Because you have not obeyed your orders." He then inquired when
he could have them, and was answered thus: "Come one year from this day,
and bring with you your eldest brother; then you shall have them."

"This spirit," said the elder Joseph Smith, "was the spirit of the
prophet who wrote this book, and who was sent to Joe Smith, jun., to
make known these things to him. Before the expiration of the year, the
eldest brother died; which," the old man said, "was a decree of
Providence." He also added--

"Joe went one year from that day to demand the plates, and the spirit
inquired for his brother, and Joe replied that he was dead. The spirit
then commanded him to come again in one year from that day, and bring a
man with him. On asking who might be the man, he was answered that he
would know him when he saw him."

Thus, while Rigdon was concocting his Bible and preaching new doctrines,
the Smith family were preparing the minds of the people for the
appearance of something wonderful; and although Joe Smith was well known
to be a drunken vagabond, he succeeded in inspiring, in hundreds of
uneducated farmers, a feeling of awe which they could not account for. I
must here stop in my narrative, to make a few observations.

In the great cities of Europe and America, civilization, education, and
the active bustle of every-day life, have, to a great degree, destroyed
the superstitious feelings so common among the lower classes, and have
completely removed the fear of evil geniuses, goblins, and spirits. But
such is not the case in the Western country of the United States, on the
borders of the immense forests and amidst the wild and broken scenery of
glens and mountains, where torrents roll with impetuosity through caves
and cataracts; where, deprived of the amusements and novelties which
would recreate his imagination, the farmer allows his mind to be
oppressed with strange fancies, and though he may never avow the
feeling, from the fear of not meeting with sympathy, he broods over it,
and is a slave to the wild phantasmagoria of his brain. The principal
cause of this is, the monotony and solitude of his existence.

At these confines of civilization, the American is always a hunter, and
those who dwell on the smaller farms, at the edges of forests, often
depend, for their animal food, upon the skill of the male portion of
their community. In the fall of the year, the American shoulders his
rifle, and goes alone into the wilds, to "see after his pigs, horses,
and cows." Constantly on the look-out for deer and wild bees, he resorts
to the most secluded spots, to swamps, mountain ridges, or along the
bushy windings of some cool stream. Constant views of nature in her
grandeur, the unbroken silence of his wanderings, causes a depression of
the mind, and, as his faculties of sight and hearing are ever on the
stretch, it affects his nervous system. He starts at the falling of a
dried leaf, and, with a keen and painful sensation, he scrutinizes the
withered grass before him, aware that at every step he may trample upon
some venomous and deadly reptile. Moreover, in his wanderings, he is
often pressed with hunger, and is exposed to a great deal of fatigue.

"Fast in the wilds, and you will dream of spirits," is an Indian axiom,
and a very true one. If to the above we add, that his mind is already
prepared to receive the impressions of the mysterious and marvellous, we
cannot wonder at their becoming superstitious. As children, they imbibe
a disposition for the marvellous; during the long evenings of winter,
when the snow is deep, and the wild wind roars through the trees, the
old people will smoke their pipes near huge blazing logs, and relate to
them some terrible adventure. They speak of unearthly noises heard near
some caves, of hair-breadth escapes in encounters with evil spirits,
under the form of wild animals; and many will whisper, that at such a
time of night, returning from some neighbouring market, they have met
with the evil one in the forest, in such and such a spot, where the two
roads cross each other, or where the old oak has been blasted by
lightning.

The boy grows to manhood, but these family traditions are deeply
engraved in his memory, and when alone, in the solitude, near the
"haunted places," his morbid imagination embodies the phantoms of his
diseased brain. No wonder, then, that such men should tamely yield to
the superior will of one like Joe Smith, who, to their knowledge,
wanders alone by moon-light in the solitude of forests, and who, in
their firm belief, holds communication with spirits of another world.
For, be it observed, Smith possesses all the qualities and exercises all
the tricks of the necromancers during the middle ages. His speech is
ambiguous, solemn, and often incomprehensible--a great proof to the
vulgar of his mystical vocation.

Cattle and horses, lost for many months, have been recovered through the
means of Joe, who, after an inward prayer, looked through a sacred
stone, "the gift of God," as he has asserted, and discovered what he
wished to know. We need not say that, while the farmer was busy at home
with his crop, Smith and his gang, ever rambling in woods and glens,
were well acquainted with every retired, shady spot, the usual abode of
wild as well as of tame animals, who seek there, during the summer, a
shelter against the hot rays of the sun. Thus, notwithstanding his bad
conduct, Smith had spread his renown for hundreds of miles as that of a
"strange man;" and when he started his new religion, and declared
himself "a prophet of God," the people did not wonder. Had Rigdon, or
any other, presented himself, instead of Joe, Mormonism would never have
been established; but in the performer of _mysterious deeds_, it seemed
a natural consequence. As the stone we have mentioned did much In
raising Joe to his present high position, I will here insert an
affidavit made relative to Joe Smith's obtaining possession of this
miraculous treasure.

     "Manchester, Ontario County, N.Y., 1833.

     "I became acquainted with the Smith family, known as the
     authors of the Mormon Bible, in the year 1820. At that time
     they were engaged in the money-digging business, which they
     followed until the latter part of the season of 1827. In the
     year 1822, I was engaged in digging a well; I employed Joe
     Smith to assist me. After digging about twenty feet below the
     surface of the earth, we discovered a singular-looking stone,
     which excited my curiosity. I brought it to the top of the
     well, and as we were examining it, Joseph laid it in the
     crown of his hat, and then put his face into the top of his
     hat. It has been said by Smith, that he got the stone from
     God, but this is false.

     "The next morning Joe came to me, and wished to obtain the
     stone, alleging that he could see in it; but I told him I did
     not wish to part with it, on account of its being a
     curiosity, but would lend it. After obtaining the stone, he
     began to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by
     looking in it, and made so much disturbance among the
     credulous part of the community, that I ordered the stone to
     be returned to me again. He had it in his possession about
     two years. I believe, some time in 1825, Hiram Smith (Joe's
     brother) came to me, and wished to borrow the same stone,
     alleging that they wanted to accomplish some business of
     importance, which 'could not very well be done without the
     aid of the stone.' I told him it was of no particular worth
     to me, but I merely wished to keep it as a curiosity, and if
     he would pledge me his word and honour that I should have it
     when called for, he Might have it; which he did, and took the
     stone. I thought I could rely on his word at this time, as he
     had made a profession of religion; but in this I was
     disappointed, for he disregarded both his word and honour.

     "In the fall of 1826, a friend called upon me, and wished to
     see that stone about which so much had been said; and I told
     him, if he would go with me to Smith's (a distance of about
     half a mile), he might see it. To my surprise, however, on
     asking Smith for the stone, he said, 'You cannot have it.' I
     told him it belonged to me; repeated to him the promise he
     had made me at the time of obtaining the stone; upon which he
     faced me with a malignant look, and said, '_I don't care who
     the devil it belongs to; you shall not have it_.'

     "Col. NAHUM HOWARD."



CHAPTER XXXIX.


I must pass over many details interesting in themselves, but too long to
insert in this work. It must suffice to say, that after a time Joe Smith
stated that he had possession of the golden plates, and had received
from heaven a pair of spectacles by means of which the unknown
characters could be decyphered by him. It may appear strange that such
absurd assertions should be credited, but the reader must call to mind
the credence given in this country to Joanna Southcote, and the
infatuation displayed by her proselytes to the very last.

The origin of Mormonism deserves peculiar examination from the success
which has attended the imposture, and the prospects which it has of
becoming firmly established as a new creed. At its first organization,
which took place at the time that the golden plates were translating,
which the reader may suppose was nothing more than the contents of the
book that Rigdon had obtained possession of, and which had been
originally written by S. Spalding, there were but six members of the
new creed.

These first members, consisting mostly of persons who were engaged with
Smith in the translation of the plates, forthwith applied themselves
with great zeal to building up the church Their first efforts were
confined to Western New York and Pennsylvania, where they met with
considerable success. Alter a number of converts had been made, Smith
received a revelation that he and all his followers should go to
Kirkland, in Ohio, and there take up their abode. Many obeyed this
command, selling their possessions, and helping each other to settle on
the spot designated. This place was the head-quarters of the Church and
the residence of the prophets until 1838; but it does not appear that
they ever regarded it as a permanent settlement; for, in the Book of
Covenants, it is said, in speaking of Kirkland, "I consecrate this land
unto them for a little season, until I the Lord provide for them to
go home."

In the spring of 1831, Smith, Rigdon, and others declared themselves
directed by revelation to go on a journey to Missouri, and there the
Lord was to show them the place of the New Jerusalem. This journey was
accordingly taken, and when they arrived, a revelation was received,
pointing out the town of Independence, in Jackson County, as the central
spot of the land of promise, where they were directed to build a temple,
&c., &c. Shortly after their return to Kirkland, a number of revelations
were received, commanding the saints throughout the country to purchase
and settle in this land of promise. Accordingly, many went and began to
build up "Zion," as they called it.

In 1831, a consecration law was established in the church by revelation.
It was first published in the Book of Covenants, in the following
words:--"If thou lovest me, thou shalt keep my commandments, and thou
shalt consecrate all thy properties onto me with a covenant and deed
which cannot be broken." This law, however, has been altered since that
time. As modified, it reads thus:--"If thou lovest me, thou shalt serve
and keep all of my commandments, and, behold, thou shalt remember the
poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou
hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot
be broken."

In April, 1832, a firm was established by revelation, ostensibly for the
benefit of the church, consisting of the principal members in Kirkland
and Independence. The members of this firm were bound together by an
oath and covenant to manage the affairs of the poor, and all things
pertaining to the church, both in Zion (Missouri) and in Shinakar
(Kirkland). In June, 1833, another revelation was received to lay off
Kirkland in lots, and the proceeds of the sale were to go to this firm.
In 1834 or 1835, the firm was divided by revelation, so that those in
Kirkland continued as one firm, and those in Missouri as another. In the
same revelation they are commanded to divide the consecrated property
between the individuals of the firm, which each separately were to
manage as stewards.

Previous to this (1833), a revelation was received to build a temple,
which was to be done by the consecrated funds, which were under the
control of the firm. In erecting this building the firm involved itself
in debt to a large amount; to meet which, in the revelation last
mentioned, the following appears: "Inasmuch as ye are humble and
faithful, and call on my name, behold, I will give you the victory. I
give unto you a promise that you shall be delivered this once out of
your bondage, inasmuch as you obtain a chance to loan money by hundreds
and thousands, even till you have obtained enough to deliver yourselves
out of bondage." This was a command to borrow money, in order to free
themselves from the debt that oppressed them. They made the attempt, but
failed to get sufficient to meet their exigencies. This led to another
expedient.

In 1835, Smith, Rigdon, and others, formed a mercantile house, and
purchased goods in Cleveland and in Buffalo to a very large amount, on a
credit of six months. In the fall other houses were formed, and goods
purchased in the eastern cities to a still greater amount. A great part
of the goods of these houses went to pay the workmen on the temple, and
many were sold on credit, so that when the notes came due the house was
not able to meet them. Smith, Rigdon, and Co., then attempted to borrow
money, by issuing their notes, payable at different periods after date.
This expedient not being effectual, the idea of a bank suggested itself.
Accordingly, in 1837, the far-famed Kirkland bank was put into
operation, without any charter.

This institution, by which so many have been swindled, was formed after
the following manner. Subscribers for stock were allowed to pay the
amount of their subscriptions in town lots, at five or six times their
real value; others paid in personal property at a high valuation; and
some paid the cash. When the notes were first issued, they were current
in the vicinity, and Smith took advantage of their credit to pay off
with them the debts he and the brethren had contracted in the
neighbourhood for land and other purchases. The eastern creditors,
however, refused to take their notes. This led to the expedient of
exchanging them for the notes of other banks.

Accordingly, the elders were sent off the country to barter Kirkland
money, which they did with great zeal, and continued the operation until
the notes were not worth sixpence to the dollar. As might have been
expected, this institution exploded after a few months, involving Smith
and his brethren in inextricable difficulties. The consequence was that
he and most of the members of the church set off. In the spring of 1838,
for Missouri, pursued by their creditors, but to no effect.

We must now go back for a short period to state another circumstance. In
1836 an endowment meeting, or solemn assembly, was called, to be held in
the temple at Kirkland. It was given out that those who were in
attendance at the meeting should receive an endowment or blessing
similar to that experienced by the disciples of Christ on the day of
Pentecost. When the day arrived, great numbers convened from the
different churches in the country. They spent the day In fasting and
prayer, and in washing and perfuming their bodies; they also washed
their feet and anointed their heads with what they called holy oil, and
pronounced blessings.

In the evening they met for the endowment; the fast was then broken, by
eating light wheat bread, and drinking as much wine as they thought
proper. Smith knew well how to infuse the spirit which they expected to
receive; so he encouraged the brethren to drink freely, telling them
that the wine was consecrated, and would not make them drank. As may be
supposed, they drank to some purpose; after this, they began to
prophesy, pronouncing blessings upon their friends and curses upon their
enemies; after which the meeting adjourned.

We now return to Missouri. The Mormons who had settled in and about
Independence, in the year 1831, having become very arrogant, claiming
the land as their own, saying, the Lord had given it to them, and making
the most haughty assumptions, so exasperated the old citizens, that a
mob was raised in 1833, and expelled the whole Mormon body from the
county. They fled to Clay county, where the citizens permitted them to
live in quiet till 1836, when a mob spirit began to manifest itself, and
the Mormons retired to a very thinly settled district of the country,
where they began to make improvements.

This district was at the session of 1836-7 of the Missouri legislature,
erected into a county by the name of Caldwell, with Far-West for its
capital. Here the Mormons remained in quiet until after the bank
explosion in Kirkland, in 1838, when Smith, Rigdon, and others of the
heads of the sect arrived. Shortly after this, the Danite Society was
organised, the object of which, at first, was to drive the dissenters
out of the county. The members of this society were bound by an oath and
covenant, with the penalty of death attached to a breach of it, to
defend the presidency, and each other, unto death, right or wrong. They
had their secret signs, by which they knew each other, either by day or
night; and were divided into bands of tens and fifties, with a captain
over each band, and a general over the whole. After this body was
formed, notice was given to several of the Dissenters to leave the
county, and they were threatened severely in case of disobedience. The
effect of this was that many of the dissenters left. Among these were
David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Hiram Page, and Oliver Cowdery, all
witnesses to the Book of Mormon; also Lyman Johnson, one of the
twelve apostles.

The day after John Whitmer left his house in Far-West, it was taken
possession of by Sidney Rigdon. About this time Rigdon preached his
famous "Salt Sermon." The text was--"Ye are the salt of the earth, but
if the salt has lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is
thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden
under foot of men." He informed the Mormons that the Church was the
salt; that dissenters were the salt that had lost its savour; and that
they were literally to be trodden under the foot of the Church, until
their bowels should gush out.

In one of the meetings of the Danite band, one of the leaders informed
them that the time was not far distant when the elders of the Church
should go forth to the world with swords at their sides, and that they
would soon have to go through the State of Missouri, and slay every man,
woman, and child! They had it in contemplation at one time to prophesy a
dreadful pestilence in Missouri, and then to poison the waters of the
State, to bring it about, and thus to destroy the inhabitants.

In the early part of the fall of the year 1838, the last disturbance
between the Mormons and the Missourians commenced. It had its origin at
an election in Davies county, some of the Mormons had located. A citizen
of Davies, in a conversation with a Mormon, remarked that the Mormons
all voted one way. This was denied with warmth; a violent contest
ensued, when, at last, the Mormon called the Missourian a liar. They
came to blows, and the quarrel was followed by a row between the Mormons
and the Missourians.

A day or two after this, Smith, with a company of men from Far-West,
went into Davies county, for the purpose, as they said, of quelling the
mob; but when they arrived, the mob had dispersed. The citizens of
Davies gathered in their turn; however, the Mormons soon collected a
force to the amount of five hundred men, and compelled the citizens to
retire; they fled, leaving the country deserted for many miles around.
At this time, the Mormons killed between two and three hundred hogs, and
a number of cattle; took at least forty or fifty stands of honey, and at
the same time destroyed several fields of corn. The word was given out
that the Lord had consecrated, through the Church, the spoils unto
His host.

All this was done when they had plenty of their own, and previous to the
citizens in that section of the country taking anything from them. They
continued these depredations for near a week, when the Clay County
Militia was ordered out. The contest was a bloody one: suffice it to say
that, finally, Smith, Rigdon, and many others were taken, and, at a
court of inquiry, were remanded over for trial. Rigdon was afterwards
discharged on _habeas corpus_, and Smith and his comrades, after being
in prison several months, escaped from their guards, and reached Quincy,
Illinois. The Mormons had been before ordered to leave the State, by
direction of the governor, and many had retired to Illinois previous to
Smith's arrival.

The Mormons, as a body, arrived in Illinois in the early part of the
year 1839, in a state of great destitution and wretchedness. Their
condition, with their tales of persecutions and privations, wrought
powerfully upon the sympathies of the citizens, and caused them to be
received with the greatest hospitality and kindness. After the arrival
of Smith, the greater part of them settled at Commerce, situated upon
the Mississippi river, at the lower rapids, just opposite the entrance
of the river Des Monies, a site equal in beauty to any on the river.
Here they began to build, and in the short time of four years they have
raised a city. At first, as was before said, on account of their former
sufferings, and also from the great political power which they
possessed, from their unity, they were treated by the citizens of
Illinois with great respect; but subsequent events have turned the tide
of feeling against them.

In the winter of 1840, they applied to the legislature of the State for
several charters; one for the city of Nauvoo, the name Smith had given
to the town of Commerce; one for the Nauvoo legion, a military body; one
for manufacturing purposes, and one for the Nauvoo University. The
privileges which they asked for were very extensive, and such was the
desire to secure their political support, that all were granted for the
mere asking; indeed, the leaders of the American legislature seemed to
vie with each other in sycophancy towards this body of fanatical
strangers, so anxious was each party to do them some favour that would
secure their gratitude. This tended to produce jealousy in the minds of
the neighbouring citizens, and fears were expressed lest a body so
united, religiously and politically, might become dangerous to liberal
institutions.

The Mormons had at every election voted in a body with their leaders;
this alone made them formidable. The legion of Mormons had been amply
supplied with arms by the state, and the whole body was under the
strictest military discipline. These facts, together with complaints
similar to those which were made in Missouri, tended to arouse a strong
feeling against them, and at last, in the early part of the summer of
1841, the citizens of Illinois organized a strong force in opposition;
the Mormons were beaten in the contest. The disposition now manifested
by the citizens appears to be to act upon the defensive, but at all
hazards to maintain their rights.

As regards the pecuniary transactions of the Mormons since they have
been in Illinois, Smith still uses his power for his own benefit. His
present arrangements are to purchase land at a low rate, lay it off into
town lots, which he sells to his followers at a high price; thus lots
that scarcely cost him a dollar, are frequently sold for a thousand. He
has raised several towns in this manner, both in Illinois and in Iowa.

During the last year, he has made two proclamations to his followers
abroad, to come and settle in the county of Hancock. These proclamations
have been obeyed to a great extent, and, strange to say, hundreds have
been flocking in from the great manufacturing cities of England. What
Is to be the result of all this, it is impossible to tell; but one thing
Is certain, that, in a political point of view, the Mormons are already
powerful, and that the object of Smith Is evidently to collect all his
followers Into one focus, and thus concentrate all his power and wealth.

The designs of Smith and his coadjutors, at the time of the first
publication of the Book of Mormon, was, doubtlessly, nothing more than
pecuniary aggrandizement. We do not believe they expected at that time
that so many could ever be duped to be converted; when, however, the
delusion began to spread, the publishers saw the door opened not only
for wealth, but also for extensive power, and their history throughout
shows that they have not been remiss in their efforts to acquire both.
The extent of their desires is now by no means limited, for their
writings and actions show a design to pursue the same path, and attain
the same end by the same means, as did Mahomet. The idea of a second
Mahomet arising in the nineteenth century may excite a smile, but when
we consider the steps now taken by the Mormons to concentrate their
numbers, and their ultimate design to unite themselves with the Indians,
it will not be at all surprising, if scenes unheard of since the days of
feudalism should soon be re-enacted.

I will here submit to my readers a letter directed to Mr. Courtenay in
1842, by a superior officer of the United States artillery.

"Yesterday (July the 10th) was a great day among the Mormons; their
legion, to the number of three thousand men, was reviewed by Generals
Smith, Bennet, and others, and certainly made a very noble and imposing
appearance; the evolutions of the troops commanded by Joe would do
honour to any body of regular soldiers In England. France, or Prussia.
What does this mean? Why this exact discipline of the Mormon corps? Do
they intend to conquer Missouri, Illinois, Mexico? It Is true they are
part of the militia of the state of Illinois, by the charter of their
legion, but then there are no troops In the States like them in point of
discipline and enthusiasm; and led on by ambitious and talented
officers, what may not be effected by them? perhaps the subversion of
the constitution of the United States; and If this should be considered
too great a foreign conquest will most certainly be attempted. The
northern provinces of Mexico will fall into their hands, even if Texas
should first take possession of them.

"These Mormons are accumulating, like a snow-ball rolling down an
inclined plane. They are also enrolling among their officers some of the
first talent in the country, by titles which they give and by money
which they can command. They have appointed Captain Henry Bennet, late
of the United States army, Inspector-General of their legion, and he is
commissioned as such by Governor Carlin. This gentleman is known to be
well skilled in fortification, gunnery, and military engineering
generally; and I am assured that he is receiving regular pay, derived
from the tithing of this warlike people. I have seen his plans for
fortifying Nauvoo, which are equal to any of Vauban's.

"General John C. Bennet (a new England man) is the prophet's great gun.
They call him, though a man of diminutive stature, the 'forty-two
pounder.' He might have applied his talents in a more honourable cause;
but I am assured that he is well paid for the important services he is
rendering this people, or, I should rather say, rendering the prophet.
This gentleman exhibits the highest degree of field military talent
(field tactics), united with extensive learning. He may yet become
dangerous to the states. He was quartermaster-general of the state of
Illinois, and, at another time, a professor in the Erie University. It
will, therefore, be seen that nothing but a high price could have
secured him to these fanatics. Only a part of their officers and
professors are Mormons: but then they are united by a common interest,
and will act together on main points to a man. Those who are not Mormons
when they come here, very soon become so, either from interest or
conviction.

"The Smiths are not without talent; Joe, the chief, is a noble-looking
fellow, a Mahomet every inch of him; the postmaster, Sidney Rigdon, is a
lawyer, a philosopher, and a saint. The other generals are also men of
talent, and some of them men of learning. I have no doubt they are all
brave, as they are most unquestionably ambitious, and the tendency of
their religious creed is to annihilate all other sects. We may,
therefore, see the time when this gathering host of religious fanatics
will make this country shake to its centre. A western empire is certain.
Ecclesiastical history presents no parallel to this people, inasmuch as
they are establishing their religion on a learned basis. In their
college, they teach all the sciences, with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French,
Italian, and Spanish; the mathematical department is under an extremely
able professor, of the name of Pratt; and a professor of Trinity
College, Dublin, is president of their university.

"I arrived there, incog., on the 1st inst., and, from the great
preparations for the military parade, was induced to stay to see the
turn-out, which, I confess, has astonished and filled me with fears for
the future consequences. The Mormons, it is true, are now peaceable, but
the lion is asleep. Take care, and don't rouse him.

"The city of Nauvoo contains about fifteen thousand souls, and is
rapidly increasing. It is well laid out, and the municipal affairs
appear to be well conducted. The adjoining country is a beautiful
prairie. Who will say that the Mormon prophet is not among the great
spirits of the age?

"The Mormons number, in Europe and America, about one hundred and fifty
thousand, and are constantly pouring into Nauvoo and the neighbouring
country. There are probably in and about this city, at a short distance
from the river, not far from thirty thousand of these warlike fanatics,
and it is but a year since they have settled in the Illinois."



CHAPTER XL.


While I was at Mr. Courtenay's plantation I had a panther adventure, a
circumstance which, in itself, would be scarcely worth mentioning, were
it not that this fierce animal was thought to have entirely left the
country for more than twenty years. For several days there had been a
rapid diminution among the turkeys, lambs, and young pigs in the
neighbourhood, and we had unsuccessfully beaten the briars and
cane-brakes, expecting at every moment to fall in with some large
tiger-cat, which had strayed from the southern brakes. After much
fruitless labour, Mr. Courtenay came to the conclusion that a gang of
negro marroons were hanging about, and he ordered that a watch should
for the future be kept every night.

It happened that the whole family was one day invited to a wedding on
the other side of the river. Not having any clothes fit for a party, I
remained at home, and at mid-day started on horseback alone, with all
the dogs, for a battue. The day was sultry, although windy; as the roar
of the wind in the canes prevented me from hearing the barking of the
dogs, having arrived at one of our former hunting camping-places,
fifteen miles from the house, I threw myself upon the ground, and
allowed my horse to graze. I had scarcely been half-an-hour occupied in
smoking my pipe, when all the dogs, in full cry, broke from the briars,
and rushed into the cane-brakes, passing me at a distance of thirty
yards. I knew it was neither bear nor deer that they were running after,
and as I had observed a path through the canes, I leaped upon my saddle,
and followed the chase, wondering what it could be, as, had the animal
been any of the smaller feline species, it would have kept to the
briars, where dogs have never the least chance against them.

I rode briskly till I arrived at a large cypress swamp, on the other
side of which I could perceive through the openings another cane-brake,
higher and considerably thicker. I fastened my horse, giving him the
whole length of the lasso, to allow him to browse upon the young leaves
of the canes, and with my bowie knife and rifle entered the swamp,
following the trail of the dogs. When I came to the other cane-brake, I
heard the pack before me barking most furiously, and evidently at bay, I
could only be directed by the noise, as it was impossible for me to see
anything; so high and thick were the canes, that I was obliged to open a
way with my knife, and it was with much trouble and fatigue that I
arrived within twenty yards of the dogs. I knew that I was once more
approaching a swamp, for the canes were becoming thinner; raising my
eyes, I perceived that I was in the vicinity of a large cotton-tree, at
the foot of which probably the dogs were standing. Yet I could not see
them, and I began to examine with care the upper limbs of the tree, to
ascertain if any tiger-cat had lodged itself upon some of the forks. But
there was nothing that I could discover; cutting the canes on the left
and the right, I advanced ten yards more, when, to my surprise, I
perceived, thirty feet above me, a large panther embracing the trunk of
a tree with its huge paws, and looking angrily below at the dogs.

I would have retired, but I dared not, as I feared that the least noise
would attract the attention of the animal, who would spring upon me from
its elevated position. The dogs barked louder and louder; twice I
raised my rifle, but did not fire, my nerves were too much agitated, and
my arms shook. At last I regained my self-command, and reflecting that
among the pack there were some dogs almost a match for the terrible
animal, I rested my rifle upon the limb of one of the heavy canes, and
fired: my aim was true, the brute fell mortally wounded, though not
dead; half of the dogs were upon it in a moment, but, shaking them off,
the animal attempted to re-ascend the tree. The effort, however, was
above its strength, and, after two useless springs, it attempted to slip
away. At that moment the larger dogs sprang upon the animal, which could
struggle no longer, as life was ebbing fast with the stream of blood.
Ere I had time to reload my rifle, it was dead.

When I approached, all the dogs were upon the animal, except a fierce
little black bitch, generally the leader of the pack; I saw her dart
through the canes with her nose on the ground, and her tail hanging low.
The panther was a female, very lean, and of the largest size; by her
dugs I knew she had a cub which could not be far off, and I tried to
induce the pack to follow the bitch, but they were all too busy in
tearing and drinking the blood of the victim, and it was not safe to use
force with them. For at least ten minutes I stood contemplating them,
waiting till they would be tired. All at once I heard a bark, a growl,
and a plaintive moan. I thought at first that the cub had been
discovered, but as the dogs started at full speed, following the chase
for more than twenty minutes, I soon became convinced that it must be
some new game, either a boar or a bear. I followed, but had not gone
fifty steps, when a powerful rushing through the canes made me aware
that the animal pursued had turned back on its trail, and, twenty yards
before me, I perceived the black bitch dead and horribly mangled. I was
going up to her, when the rushing came nearer and nearer; I had just
time to throw myself behind a small patch of briars, before another
panther burst out from the cane-brakes.

[Illustration: "With a long and light spring it broke out of the
canes."]

I had never seen before so tremendous, and, at the same time, so
majestic and so beautiful an animal, as with a long and light spring it
broke out of the canes. It was a male; his jaws were covered with foam
and blood; his tail was lashing through the air, and at times he looked
steadily behind, as if uncertain if he would run or fight his
pursuers. At last his eyes were directed to the spot where the bitch lay
dead, and with a single bound he was again upon the body, and rolled it
under his paws till it had lost all shape. As the furious animal stood
thus twenty yards before me, I could have fired, but dared not do so,
while the dogs were so far off. However, they soon emerged from the
brake, and rushed forward. A spirited young pup, a little ahead of the
others, was immediately crushed by his paw, and making a few bounds
towards a large tree, he climbed to the height of twenty feet, where he
remained, answering to the cries of the dogs with a growl as loud
as thunder.

I fired, and this time there was no struggle. My ball had penetrated
through the eye to the brain, yet the brute in its death struggle
still clung on.

At last the claws relaxed from their hold, and it fell down a ponderous
mass, terrible still in death.

The sun had already set, and not wishing to lose any time in skinning
the animal, I merely cut off its long tail, which I secured as a trophy
round my waist. My adventures, however, were not yet terminated, for
while I was crossing the short width of cane-brake which was between me
and where the she-panther laid dead, the dogs again gave tongue, and, in
less than three minutes, had tracked another animal. Night was coming on
pretty fast, and I was beginning to be alarmed. Till now I had been
successful, each time having destroyed, with a single ball, a terrible
enemy, whom even the boldest hunters fear to attack alone; but should I
have the same good luck in a third encounter? It was more than I could
expect, especially as the darkness would render it more difficult to
take a certain aim. I therefore allowed the dogs to bark as much as they
pleased, and forced my way to my first victim, the tail of which I also
severed, as a proof of my prowess. It, however, occurred to me that if
there were many more panthers in the cover, it would be very unsafe to
return alone to where I had left my horse. I therefore made sure that my
rifle was in good order, and proceeded towards the place where the dogs
were still baying. There I beheld another panther, but this time it was
a sport unattended by any danger, for the animal was a very young cub,
who had taken refuge fifteen feet from the ground upon a tree which had
been struck by lightning, and broken off about three yards from its
roots. The animal was on the broken part which had its summit entangled
in the lower branches of another tree.

It was truly a pretty sight, as the little animal's tail, hanging down,
served as a _point de mire_ to all the dogs, who were jumping up to
catch it. The cub was delighted, mewing with high glee, sometimes
running up, sometimes down, just to Invite his playfellows to come to
him. I felt great reluctance to kill so graceful and playful an animal,
but it became a necessity, as no endeavours of mine could have forced
the dogs to leave it. I shot him, and, tying him round my neck, I now
began to seek, with some anxiety, for the place where I had left
my horse.

There is but little twilight in America, in the spring of the year
especially; great was my hurry, and consequently less was my speed. I
lost my trail, bogged myself in a swamp, tore my hands and face with the
briars, and, after an hour of severe fatigue, at last heard my horse,
who was impatient at being left alone, neighing loudly. Though my
distance to the house was only eighteen miles and the road quite safe, I
contrived to lose myself three or four times, till, _en désespoir_, I
threw the bridle on my horse's neck, trusting to his instinct to
extricate me from my difficulties.

It was nearly midnight when I approached the back fences of Mr.
Courtenay's plantation, and I wondered very much at seeing torches
glaring in every direction. I galloped rapidly through the lane, and
learned from a negro that the family had long returned home, and that
supper had been, as usual, served at eight o'clock; that they had been
anxiously waiting for me, and that Mr. Courtenay, fearing some accident
had happened, had resolved to go himself in search of me with the major
portion of his negroes. Leaving my horse to the care of the slave, I ran
towards the house, where the dogs had already announced my arrival. The
family came under the portico to welcome me, and simultaneously asked me
what could have detained me so long. "I have caught the robbers,"
replied I, approaching the group, "I have killed them and lost two dogs;
here are my _spolia opima_."

My host was thunderstruck; he was too much of a hunter not to be able to
estimate the size of the animals by the tokens I had brought with me,
and he had believed that for the last twenty or thirty years, not one of
these terrible animals was actually living in the country. The fact was
so very remarkable, that he insisted on going himself that very night
with his negroes to skin the animals; and, after a hasty meal, he left
us to fulfil his intentions. Relating my adventures to my kind hostess
and her niece, I had the satisfaction of feeling that my narrative
excited emotions which could only arise from a strong interest in
my welfare.

This panther story got wind, and nothing could convince the neighbouring
farmers but the very sight of the skins. All the western newspapers
related the matter, and for two months at least I was quite a "lion."

A few days after that adventure, the _Caroline_, the largest and finest
steamboat upon the Mississippi, struck a snag in coming down the stream,
and sank immediately. The river, however, being very low, the upper
decks remained above water, and help coming down from the neighbouring
plantations, all the passengers were soon brought on shore without any
loss of life. Three hundred sheep, one hundred hogs, eighty cows, and
twelve horses were left to their fate, and it was a painful sight to
witness the efforts of the poor brutes struggling against the powerful
current and looking towards the people on shore, as if to implore
for help.

Only one pig, two cows, and five horses ever reached the bank of the
river, many disappearing under the repeated attacks of the gar-fish, and
other monsters, and the remainder carried by the stream to feed the
alligators and the cawanas of the south. But very few objects on board
were insured, and hundreds of hogsheads of Missouri tobacco and barrels
of Kentucky flour were several days afterwards picked up by the Arkansas
and Tennessee wreckers. Articles thus lost by shipwreck upon the
Mississippi are seldom reclaimed, as the principal owners of the goods,
on hearing the news, generally collect all the property which they can,
run away, change their names, and enter upon new speculations in
another state.

Among the passengers on board, Mr. Courtenay recognized several of his
friends, whom he directly invited into the mansion, while temporary
sheds were erected for the others, till steamboat should pass and take
them off. So sudden had been the catastrophe, that no luggage of any
kind had been saved, and several Englishmen, travelling to purchase
cotton and minerals, suffered very serious loss. As to the Americans
themselves, though they complained very loudly, vowing they would bring
an action against the river, the steamboats, against every boat, and
every thing, for I don't know how many millions of dollars, their losses
were very trifling, as it is the custom for a man in the Western States
to carry all his money in his pocket-book, and his pocket-book in his
pocket; as to luggage, he never has any except a small valise, two feet
long, in which are contained a shirt, two bosoms, three frills, a razor,
and a brush, which may serve for his head, clothing, boots, and
perhaps teeth.

It was amusing to hear all the complaints that were made and to
enumerate the sums which were stated to have been lost; there was not
one among the travellers, even among those who had taken a deck-passage,
who had not lost from ten to fifty thousand dollars, with which he was
going to purchase a cotton plantation, a steamboat, or a whole cargo of
Havannah cigars. What made it more ridculous was the facility with which
everybody found a witness to certify his loss, "I had five thousand
dollars," one would say; "ask the general, he will tell you if it is
true." "True, as I am an honest man," would answer the general, "to wit,
that I swapped with the judge my eastern notes for his southern ones."

It would be impossible to explain to a sober Englishman the life that is
led on, and the numerous tricks that are played in, a Mississippi
steamboat. One I will mention, which will serve as a sample. An
itinerant preacher, well known as a knave upon both banks, and the whole
length of the river, used (before he was sent to the Penitentiary for
picking pockets) to live comfortably in the steamboats without ever
paying a farthing. From St. Louis he would book for New Orleans, and the
passage-money never being asked in the West but at the termination of
the trip, the preacher would go on shore at Vicksburg, Natches, Bayou,
Sarah, or any other such station in the way. Then he would get on board
any boat bound to the Ohio, book himself for Louisville, and step on
shore at Memphis. He had no luggage of any kind except a green cotton
umbrella; but, in order to lull all suspicion, he contrived always to
see the captain or the clerk in his office, and to ask them
confidentially if they knew the man sleeping in the upper bed, if he was
respectable, as he, the preacher, had in his trunks considerable sums
intrusted to him by some societies. The consequence was, that, believing
him rich, the captain and officers would pay him a great deal of
attention, inviting him to wine and liquor. When he disappeared, they
would express how sorry they were to have been obliged to leave the
gentleman behind, but they hoped they would see him at St. Louis, New
Orleans, or Louisville, or hear from him, so as to know where to direct
his trunks. But they would soon ascertain that there were no trunks left
behind, that there had never been any brought on board, and that they
had been duped by a clever sharper.

In less than twenty-four hours almost all the passengers had got on
board some other boats, but those who had been invited by Mr. Courtenay
tarried a few days with us, for we were on the eve of a great fishing
party on the lake, which in the Far-West is certainly a very curious
scene. Among the new guests were several cotton planters from the South,
and English cotton-brokers. One of them had passed a short time among
the Mormons, at Nauvoo, and had many amusing stories to tell of them.
One I select among many, which is the failure of an intended miracle by
Joe Smith.

Towards the close of a fine summer's day, a farmer of Ioway found a
respectable-looking man at his gate, who requested permission to pass
the night under his roof. The hospitable farmer readily complied; the
stranger was invited into the house, and a warm and substantial supper
set before him.

After he had eaten, the farmer, who appeared to be a jovial,
warm-hearted, humorous, and withal a shrewd old man, passed several
hours in conversation with his guest, who seemed to be very ill at ease,
both in body and mind; yet, as if desirous of pleasing his entertainer,
he replied courteously and agreeably to whatever was said to him.
Finally, he pleaded fatigue and illness as an excuse for retiring to
rest, and was conducted by the farmer to an upper chamber where he
went to bed.

About the middle of the night, the farmer and his family were awakened
by dreadful groans, which they soon ascertained proceeded from the
chamber of the traveller. On going to ascertain the cause, they found
that the stranger was dreadfully ill, suffering the most acute pains
and uttering the most doleful cries apparently quite unconscious of what
was passing around him. Everything that kindness and experience could
suggest was done to relieve the sick man; but all efforts were in vain,
and, to the consternation of the farmer and his family, their guest, in
the course of a few hours, expired.

At an early hour in the morning, in the midst of their trouble and
anxiety, two travellers came to the gate, and requested entertainment.
The farmer told them that he would willingly offer them hospitality, but
that just now his household was in the greatest confusion, on account of
the death of a stranger, the particulars of which he proceeded to relate
to them. They appeared to be much surprised and grieved at the poor
man's calamity, and politely requested permission to see the corpse.
This, of course, the farmer readily granted, and conducted them to the
chamber in which laid the dead body. They looked at it for a few minutes
in silence, and then the oldest of the pair gravely told the farmer that
they were elders of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and
were empowered by God to perform miracles, even to the extent of raising
the dead; and that they felt quite assured they could bring to life the
man who laid dead before them!

The farmer was, of course, "pretty considerably," astonished at the
quality and powers of the persons who addressed him, and, rather
incredulously asked if they were quite sure that they could perform all
which they professed.

"O certainly! not a doubt of it. The Lord has commissioned us expressly
to work miracles, in order to prove the truth of the prophet Joseph
Smith, and the inspiration of the books and doctrines revealed to him.
Send for all your neighbours, that, in the presence of a multitude, we
may bring the dead man to life, and that the Lord and his church may be
glorified to all men."

The farmer, after a little consideration, agreed to let the
miracle-workers proceed, and, as they desired, sent his children to his
neighbours, who, attracted by the expectation of a miracle, flocked to
the house in considerable numbers.

The Mormon elders commenced their task by kneeling and praying before
the body with uplifted hands and eyes, and with most stentorian lungs.
Before they had proceeded far with their prayer, a sudden idea struck
the farmer, who quietly quitted the house for a few minutes, and then
returned, and waited patiently by the bedside, until the prayer was
finished, and the elders ready to perform their miracle. Before they
began, he respectfully said to them, that, with their permission, he
wished to ask them a few questions upon the subject of this miracle.
They replied that they had no objection. The farmer then asked,--

"You are quite certain that you can bring this man to life again?"

"We are."

"How do you know that you can?"

"We have just received a revelation from the Lord, informing us that we
can."

"Are you quite sure that the revelation was from the Lord?"

"Yes; we cannot be mistaken about it."

"Does your power to raise this man to life again depend upon the
particular nature of his disease? or could you now bring any dead man
to life?"

"It makes no difference to us; we could bring any corpse to life."

"Well, if this man had been killed, and one of his arms cut off, could
you bring him to life, and also restore to him his arm?"

"Certainly! there is no limit to the power given us by the Lord. It
would make no difference, even if both his arms and legs were cut off."

"Could you restore him, if his head had been cut off?"

"Certainly we could!"

"Well," said the farmer, with a quiet smile upon his features "I do not
doubt the truth of what such holy men assert; but I am desirous that my
neighbours here should be fully converted, by having the miracle
performed in the completest manner possible. So, by your leave, if it
makes no difference whatever, I will proceed to cut off the head of
this corpse."

Accordingly, he produced a huge and well-sharpened broad axe from
beneath his coat, which he swung above his head, and was, apparently,
about to bring it down upon the neck of the corpse, when, lo and behold!
to the amazement of all present, the dead man started up in great
agitation, and swore that, "by hell and jingo," he would not have his
head cut off, in any consideration whatever!

The company immediately seized the Mormons, and soon made them confess
that the pretended dead man was also a Mormon elder, and that they had
sent him to the farmer's house, with directions to die there at a
particular hour, when they would drop in, as if by accident, and perform
a miracle that would astonish everybody. The farmer, after giving the
impostors a severe chastisement, let them depart to practise their
_humbug_ in some other quarter.

These two "_Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints_",
were honest Joe and his worthy _compeer_ and coadjutor, Sidney Rigdon.



CHAPTER XLI.


The day of the fishing at length arrived; our party of ladies and
gentlemen, with the black cooks and twenty slaves, started two hours
before sunrise, and, after a smart ride of some twelve miles, we halted
before a long row of tents, which had been erected for the occasion, on
the shores of one of these numerous and beautiful western lakes. Fifty
negroes were already on the spot, some cutting wood for fuel, some
preparing breakfast, while others made ready the baits and lines, or
cleaned empty barrels, in which our intended victims were to be salted.
We scarcely had had time to look around us, when, from twenty different
quarters, we beheld the approach of as many parties, who had been
invited to share the sport. We greeted them planter fashion;--"Are you
hungry, eh, eh?--Sam, Napoleon, Washington, Caesar--quick--the
breakfast."

For several days previous, all the creeks of the neighbourhood had been
drained of their cray-fish, minnows, and shell-fish. All the dug-outs
and canoes from every stream thirty miles round had also been dragged to
the lake, and it was very amusing to see a fleet of eighty boats and
canoes of every variety, in which we were about to embark to prosecute
our intentions against the unsuspecting inhabitants of the water.

After a hearty, though somewhat hasty meal, we proceeded to business;
every white man taking with him a negro, to bait his line and unhook the
fish; the paddles were soon put in motion, and the canoes, keeping a
distance of fifty yards from each other, having now reached the deepest
part of the lake, bets were made as to who would pull up the first fish,
the ladies on shore watching the sport, and the caldrons upon the fire
ready to receive the first victims. I must not omit to mention, that two
of the larger canoes, manned only by negroes, were ordered to pull up
and down the line of fishing-boats and canoes, to take out the fish as
they were captured.

At a signal given by the ladies, the lines were thrown into the lake,
and, almost at the same moment, a deafening hurrah of a hundred voices
announced that all the baits had been taken before reaching the bottom,
every fisherman imagining that he had won his bet. The winner, however,
could never be ascertained, and nobody gave it a second thought all
being now too much excited with the sport. The variety of the fish was
equal to the rapidity with which they were taken: basses, perch,
sun-fish, buffaloes, trouts, and twenty other sorts. In less than half
an hour my canoe was full to sinking: and I should certainly have sunk
with my cargo, had it not been most opportunely taken out by one of the
spare boats. All was high glee on shore and on the lake, and the scene
was now and then still diversified by comic accidents, causing the more
mirth, as there was no possibility of danger.

The canoe next to me was full to the gunwale, which was not two inches
above water: it contained the English traveller and a negro, who was
quite an original in his way. As fish succeeded to fish, their position
became exceedingly ludicrous: the canoe was positively sinking, and they
were lustily calling for assistance. The spare boat approached rapidly,
and had neared them to within five yards, when the Englishman's line was
suddenly jerked by a very heavy fish, and so unexpectedly, that the
sportsman lost his equilibrium and fell upon the larboard side of
the canoe.

The negro, wishing to restore the equilibrium, threw his weight on the
opposite side; unluckily, this had been the simultaneous idea of his
white companion, who also rolled over the fish to starboard. The canoe
turned the turtle with them, and away went minnows, crawfish, lines,
men, and all. Everybody laughed most outrageously, as the occupants of
the canoe reappeared upon the surface of the water, and made straight
for the shore, not daring to trust to another canoe after their ducking.
The others continued fishing till about half-past nine, when the rays
of the sun were becoming so powerful as to compel us to seek shelter in
the tents.

If the scene on the lake had been exciting, it became not less so
on-shore, when all the negroes, male and female, crowding together,
began to scale, strip, and salt the fish. Each of them had an account to
give of some grand fishery, where a monstrous fish, a mile in length,
had been taken by some fortunate "Sambo" of the South. The girls gaped
with terror and astonishment, the men winking and trying to look grave,
while spinning these yarns, which certainly beat all the wonders of the
veracious Baron Munchausen.

The call to renew the sport broke off their ludicrous inventions. Our
fortune was as great as in the forenoon, and at sunset we returned home,
leaving the negroes to salt and pack the fish in barrels, for the supply
of the plantation.

A few days afterwards, I bade adieu to Mr. Courtenay and his delightful
family, and embarked myself and horse on board of one of the steamers
bound to St. Louis, which place I reached on the following morning.

St. Louis has been described by so many travellers, that it is quite
useless to mention anything about this "queen city of the Mississippi."
I will only observe, that my arrival produced a great sensation among
the inhabitants, to whom the traders in the Far West had often told
stories about the wealth of the Shoshones. In two or three days, I
received a hundred or more applications from various speculators, "to go
and kill the Indians in the West, and take away their treasures;" and I
should have undoubtedly received ten thousand more, had I not hit upon a
good plan to rid myself of all their importunities. I merely sent all
the notes to the newspapers as fast as I received them; and it excited a
hearty laugh amongst the traders, when thirty letters appeared in the
columns, all of them written in the same tenour and style.

One evening I found at the post-office a letter from Joseph Smith
himself, in which he invited me to go to him without any loss of time,
as the state of affairs having now assumed a certain degree of
importance, it was highly necessary that we should at once come to a
common understanding. Nothing could have pleased me more than this
communication, and the next morning I started from St. Louis, arriving
before noon at St. Charles, a small town upon the Missouri, inhabited
almost entirely by French Creoles, fur-traders, and trappers. There,
for the first time, I saw a steam-ferry, and, to say the truth, I do not
understand well how horses and waggons could have been transported over
before the existence of steamboats, as, in that particular spot, the
mighty stream rolls its muddy waters with an incredible velocity,
forming whirlpools, which seem strong enough to engulf anything that may
come into them.

From St. Charles I crossed a hilly land, till I arrived once more upon
the Mississippi; but there "the father of the waters," (as the Indians
call it) presented an aspect entirely new: its waters, not having yet
mixed with those of the Missouri, were quite transparent; the banks,
too, were several hundred feet high, and recalled to my mind the
countries watered by the Buona Ventura River. For two days I continued
my road almost always in sight of the stream, till at last, the ground
becoming too broken and hilly, I embarked upon another steam ferry at
Louisiana, a rising and promising village, and landed upon the shores of
Illinois, where the level prairies would allow of more rapid travelling.

The state of Missouri, in point of dimensions, is the second state of
the Union, being inferior in extent only to Virginia. It extends from
36° to 40° 35' N. lat, and from 89° 20' to 95° W. long., having an area
of about 68,500 square miles. Its boundaries, as fixed by the
Constitution, are a line drawn from a point in the middle of the
Mississippi, in 36° N. lat., and along that parallel, west to its
intersection, a meridian line passing through the mouth of the Kansas.
Thence, the western boundary was originally at that meridian: but, by
act of Congress in 1836, the triangular tract between it and the
Missouri, above the mouth of the Kansas, was annexed to the state. On
the north, the parallel of latitude which passes through the rapids of
the River Desmoines, forms the boundary between that river and
the Missouri.

The surface of that portion of the state which lies north of the
Missouri is, in general, moderately undulating, consisting of an
agreeable interchange of gentle swells and broad valleys, and rarely,
though occasionally, rugged, or rising into hills of much elevation.
With the exception of narrow strips of woodland along the water-courses,
almost the whole of this region is prairie, at least nine-tenths being
wholly destitute of trees. The alluvial patches or river-bottoms are
extensive, particularly on the Missouri, and generally of great
fertility; and the soil of the upland is equal, if not superior, to that
of any other upland tract in the United States. The region south of the
Missouri River and west of the Osage, is of the same description; the
northern and western Missouri country is most delightful, a soil of
inexhaustible fertility, and a salubrious climate, rendering it a most
desirable and pleasant residence; but south-east of the latter river,
the state is traversed by numerous ridges of the Ozark mountains, and
the surface is here highly broken and rugged.

This mountainous tract has a breadth of from one hundred to one hundred
and fifty miles; but although it often shoots up into precipitous peaks,
it is believed that they rarely exceed two thousand feet in height; no
accurate measurements of their elevation have, however, been made, and
little is known of the course and mutual relations of the chains. The
timber found here is pitch-pine, shrub oaks, cedar, &c., indicative of
the poverty of the soil; in the uplands of the rest of the state,
hickory, post-oak, and white oaks, &c., are the prevailing growth; and
in river-bottoms, the cotton-tree, sycamore, or button-wood, maple, ash,
walnut, &c., predominate. The south-eastern corner of the state, below
Cape Girardeau, and east of the Black River, is a portion of the immense
inundated region which borders the Arkansas. A considerable part of this
tract is indeed above the reach of the floods, but these patches are
isolated and inaccessible, except by boats, during the rise of
the waters.

My friend, Mr. Courtenay, penetrated these swamps with three Indians and
two negroes. His companions were bogged and lost; he returned, having
killed seven fine elks, and two buffaloes. Some of these mighty animals
have been breeding there for a long while, undisturbed by man.

The state of Missouri is abundantly supplied with navigable channels,
affording easy access to all parts. The Mississippi washes the eastern
border, by the windings of the stream, for a distance of about four
hundred and seventy miles. Above St. Genevieve, it flows for the most
part between high and abrupt cliffs of limestone, rising to an elevation
of from one hundred to four hundred feet above the surface of the river;
sometimes separated from it by bottoms of greater or less width, and at
others springing up abruptly from the water's edge. A few miles below
Cape Girardeau, and about thirty-five miles above the mouth of the Ohio,
are the rocky ledges, called the Little and Grand Chain; and about
half-way between that point and St. Genevieve, is the Grand Tower, one
of the wonders of the Mississippi. It is a stupendous pile of rocks, of
a conical form, about one hundred and fifty feet high, and one hundred
feet in circumference at its base, rising up out of the bed of the
river. It seems, in connection with the rocky shores on both sides, to
have been opposed, at some former period, as a barrier to the flow of
the Mississippi, which must here have had a perpendicular fall of more
than one hundred feet.

The principal tributaries of the Mississippi, with the exception of the
Missouri, are the Desmoines, Wyacond, Fabius, Salt, and Copper Rivers,
above that great stream, and the Merrimac, St. Francis and White River
below; the two last passing into Arkansas. Desmoines, which is only a
boundary stream, is navigable one hundred and seventy miles, and Salt
River, whose northern sources are in Iowa, and southern in Boone county,
and which takes its name from the salt licks or salines on its borders,
may be navigated by steamboats up to Florida (a small village); that is
to say, ninety-five or a hundred miles. The Rivière au Cuivre, or Copper
River, is also a navigable stream; but the navigation of all these
rivers is interrupted by ice in winter, and by shoals and bars in the
dry season.

The Missouri river flows through the state for a distance of about six
hundred miles; but although steamboats have ascended it two thousand
five hundred miles from its mouth, its navigation is rendered difficult
and dangerous by sand-bars, falling banks, snags, and shifting channels.

The bank of the Mississippi river, on the Illinois side, is not by far
so picturesque as the country I have just described, but its fertility
is astonishing. Consequently, the farms and villages are less scattered,
and cities, built with taste and a great display of wealth, are found at
a short distance one from the other. Quincy I may mention, among others,
as being a truly beautiful town, and quite European in its style of
structure and neatness. Elegant fountains are pouring their cool waters
at the end of every row of houses; some of the squares are magnificent,
and, as the town is situated upon a hill several hundred feet above the
river, the prospect is truly grand.

At every place where I stopped between St. Louis and Quincy, I always
heard the Mormons abused and spoken of as a set of scoundrels, but from
Quincy to Nauvoo the reports were totally different. The higher or more
enlightened classes of the people have overlooked the petty tricks of
the Mormon leaders, to watch with more accuracy the advance and designs
of Mormonism. In Joe Smith they recognize a great man, a man of will and
energy, one who has the power of carrying everything before him, and
they fear him accordingly.

On leaving Quincy, I travelled about seventy miles through a country
entirely flat, but admirably cultivated. I passed through several little
villages and at noon of the second day I reached my destination.



CHAPTER XLII.


Nauvoo, the holy city of the Mormons, and present capital of their
empire, is situated in the north-western part of Illinois, on the east
bank of the Mississippi, in lat. 40° 35' N.; it is bounded on the north,
south, and west by the river, which there forms a large curve, and is
nearly two miles wide. Eastward of the city is a beautiful undulating
prairie; it is distant ten miles from Fort Madison, in Iowa, and more
than two hundred from St. Louis.

Before the Mormons gathered there, the place was named _Commerce_, as I
have already said, and was but a small and obscure village of some
twenty houses; so rapidly, however, have they accumulated, that there
are now, within four years of their first settlement, upwards of fifteen
thousand inhabitants in the city, and as many more in its
immediate vicinity.

The surface of the ground upon which Nauvoo is built is very uneven,
though there are no great elevations. A few feet below the soil is a
vast bed of limestone, from which excellent building material can be
quarried, to almost any extent. A number of _tumuli_, or ancient mounds,
are found within the limits of the city, proving it to have been a
place of some importance with the former inhabitants of the country.

The space comprised within the city limits is about four miles in its
extreme length, and three in its breadth; but is very irregular in its
outline, and does not cover so much ground as the above measurement
would seem to indicate.

The city is regularly laid out, the streets crossing each other at right
angles, and generally of considerable length, and of convenient width.
The majority of the houses are still nothing more than log cabins, but
lately a great number of plank and brick houses have been erected. The
chief edifices of Nauvoo are the temple, and an hotel, called the Nauvoo
House, but neither of them is yet finished; the latter is of brick, upon
a stone foundation, and presents a front of one hundred and twenty feet,
by sixty feet deep, and is to be three stories high, exclusive of the
basement. Although intended chiefly for the reception and entertainment
of strangers and travellers, it contains, or rather will contain, a
splendid suite of apartments for the particular accommodation of the
prophet Joe Smith, and his heirs and descendants for ever.

The privilege of this accommodation he pretends was granted to him by
the Lord, in a special revelation, on account of his services to the
Church. It is most extraordinary that the Americans, imbued with
democratic sentiments and with such an utter aversion to hereditary
privileges of any kind, could for a moment be blinded to the selfishness
of the prophet, who thus easily provided for himself and his posterity a
palace and a maintenance.

The Mormon temple is a splendid structure of stone, quarried within the
bounds of the city; its breadth is eighty feet, and its length one
hundred and forty, independent of an outer court of thirty feet, making
the length of the whole structure one hundred and seventy feet. In the
basement of the temple is the baptismal font, constructed in imitation
of the famous brazen sea of Solomon; it is supported by twelve oxen,
well modelled and overlaid with gold. Upon the sides of the font, in
panels, are represented various scriptural subjects, well painted. The
upper story of the temple will, when finished, be used as a lodge-room
for the Order Lodge and other secret societies. In the body of the
temple, where it is intended that the congregation shall assemble, are
two sets of pulpits, one for the priesthood, and the other for the
grandees of the church.

The cost of this noble edifice had been defrayed by tithing the whole
Mormon church. Those who reside at Nauvoo and are able to labour, have
been obliged to work every tenth day in quarrying stone, or upon the
building of the temple itself. Besides the temple, there are in Nauvoo
two steam saw-mills, a steam flour-mill, a tool-factory on a large
scale, a foundry, and a company of considerable wealth, from
Staffordshire, have also established there a manufacture of
English china.

The population of the holy city itself is rather a mixed kind. The
general gathering of the saints has, of course, brought together men of
all classes and characters. The great majority of them are uneducated
and unpolished people, who are undoubtedly sincere believers in the
prophet and his doctrines. A great proportion of them consist of
converts from the English manufacturing districts, who were easily
persuaded by Smith's missionaries to exchange their wretchedness at home
for ease and plenty in the promised land. These men are devotedly
attached to the prophet's will, and obey his orders as they would those
of God himself.

These aliens can, by the law of Illinois, vote after six months'
residence in the state, and they consequently vote blindly, giving their
votes according to the will of Joe Smith. To such an extent does his
will influence them, that at the election in Nauvoo (1842) there were
but six votes against the candidates he supported. Of the Mormons, I
believe the majority to be ignorant, deluded men, really and earnestly
devoted to their new religion. But their leaders are men of intellect,
who profess Mormonism because of the wealth, titles[30], rank, and power
which it procures them.

[Footnote 30: As I have mentioned the word _titles_, I must make myself
understood. There are certain classes of individuals in the United
States who, by their own fortune, education, and social position, could
not be easily brought over to Mormonism. Joe Smith, as a founder of a
sect, has not only proved himself a great man, but that he perfectly
understands his countrymen, and, above all, their greediness for any
kind of distinction which can nominally raise them above the common
herd, for it is a fact that no people hate the word equality more than
the American. Joe Smith has instituted titles, dignities, and offices
corresponding to those of the governments in the Old World. He has not
yet dared to make himself a king, but he has created a nobility that
will support him when he thinks proper to assume the sovereign title.
Thus he has selected individuals expressly to take care of the Church;
these form the order of the Templars, with their grand masters, &c., &c.
He has organised a band of soldiers, called _Danites_, a sacred
battalion--the _celeres_ of Romulus--these are all _comites_ or counts;
their chiefs are _conductors_, or dukes. Then follow the pontiffs, the
bishops, &c., &c. This plan has proved to answer well, as it has given
to Mormonism many wealthy individuals from the Eastern States, who
accepted the titles and came over to Europe to act as emissaries from
Joe, under the magnificent titles of Great Commander, Prince of Zion,
Comte de Jerusalem, Director of the Holy College, &c., &c.]  As a
military position, Nauvoo, garrisoned by twenty or thirty thousand
fanatics, well armed and well supplied with provisions, would be most
formidable. It is unapproachable upon any side but the east, and there
the nature of the ground (boggy) offers great obstacles to any besieging
operations. It is Smith's intention to congregate his followers there,
until he accumulates a force that can defy anything that can be brought
against him.

Nauvoo is a Hebrew word, and signifies a beautiful habitation for a man,
carrying with it the idea of rest. It is not, however, considered by the
Mormons as their final home, but as a resting-place; they only intend to
remain there till they have gathered a force sufficient to enable them
to conquer Independence (Missouri), which, according to them, _is one of
the most fertile, pleasant, and desirable countries on the face of the
earth, possessing a soil unsurpassed by any region_. Independence they
consider their Zion, and they there intend to rear their great temple,
the corner stone of which is already laid. There is to be the great
gathering-place for all the saints, and, in that delightful and healthy
country, they expect to find their Eden, and build their New Jerusalem.

What passed between Joe Smith and myself I feel not at liberty to
disclose; in fact, publicity would interfere with any future plans. I
will only say, that the prophet received me with the greatest
cordiality, and confirmed the offers which his agents had made to me
when I was among the Comanches. When, however, I came to the point, and
wished to ascertain whether the Mormons would act up to the promises of
their leaders, I perceived, to my great disappointment, that the "means"
at least for the present--the operative means--were not yet ready to be
put in motion. According to him, the Foxes, Osages, Winnebegoes, Sioux,
and Mennonionie Indians would act for him at a moment's notice; and, on
my visiting the Foxes to ascertain the truth of these assertions, I
discovered that they had indeed promised to do so, provided that,
previously, the Mormons should have fulfilled certain promises to them,
the performance of which I knew was not yet in the power of the Mormons.

In the meanwhile, I heard from Joe Smith himself how God had selected
him to obtain and be the keeper of the divine bible; and the reader will
form his own idea of Joe Smith by the narrative. The day appointed was
the 22nd of September, and Joe told me that on that day--

"He arose early in the morning, took a one-horse waggon of some one that
had stayed overnight at his house, and, accompanied by his wife,
repaired to the hill which contained the book. He left his wife in the
waggon by the road, and went alone to the hill, a distance of thirty or
forty rods. He then took the book out of the ground, hid it in a tree
top, and returned home. The next day he went to work for some time in
the town of Macedon, but about ten days afterwards, it having been
suggested that some one had got his book, his wife gave him notice of
it; upon which, hiring a horse, he returned home in the afternoon,
stayed just time enough to drink a cup of tea, went in search of his
book, found it safe, took off his frock, wrapt it round his treasure,
put it under his arm, and ran all the way home, a distance of about two
miles. He said he should think that, being written on plates of gold, if
weighed sixty pounds, but, at all events, was sure it was not less than
forty. On his return he was attacked by two men in the woods, knocked
them both down, made his escape, and arrived safe at home with
his burden."

The above were the exact words of Smith, to which he adds, somewhere in
his translation of the book, that had it not been for the supernatural
virtues of the stone he carried with him, virtues which endowed him with
divine strength and courage, he would never have been able to undergo
the fatigues and conquer the obstacles he encountered during that
frightful night.

Thus Smith gets possession of his precious manuscript. But, alas! 'tis
written in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Joe calls to his assistance the
wonderful stone, "the gift of God," and peeping hastily through it, he
sees an angel pointing somewhere towards _a miraculous pair of
spectacles!!!_ Yes, two polished pieces of crystal were the humble means
by which the golden plates were to be rendered comprehensible. By the
bye, the said spectacles are a heavy, ugly piece of workmanship of the
last century; they are silver-mounted, and bear the maker's name,
plainly engraved, "Schneider, Zurich."

The Book of Mormon was published in the year 1830, Since that period its
believers and advocates have propagated its doctrines and absurdities
with a zeal worthy of a better cause. Through every State of the Union,
and in Canada, the apostles of this wild delusion have disseminated its
principles and duped thousands to believe it true. They have crossed the
ocean, and in England have made many converts: recently some of their
missionaries have been sent to Palestine. Such strenuous exertions
having been, and still being made, to propagate the doctrines of this
book, and such fruits having already appeared from the labours of its
friends, it becomes a matter of some interest to investigate the history
of this strange delusion, and, although it does not deserve it, treat
the subject seriously.

The Book of Mormon purports to be the record or history of a certain
people who inhabited America previous to its discovery by Columbus.
According to the book, this people were the descendants of one Lehi, who
crossed the ocean from the eastern continent to that of America. Their
history and records, containing prophecies and revelations, were
engraven, by the command of God, on small plates, and deposited in the
hill Comora, which appears to be situated in Western New York. Thus was
preserved an account of this race (together with their religious creed)
up to the period when the descendants of Laman, Lemuel, and Sam, who
were the three eldest sons of Lehi, arose and destroyed the descendants
of Nephi, who was the youngest son. From this period the descendants of
the eldest sons "dwindled in unbelief," and "became a dark, loathsome,
and filthy people." These last-mentioned are the present
American Indians.

The plates above-mentioned remained in their depository until 1827, when
they were found by Joseph Smith, jun., who was directed in the discovery
by the angel of the Lord. On these plates were certain hieroglyphics,
said to be of the Egyptian character, which Smith, by the direction of
God, being instructed by Inspiration as to their meaning, proceeded to
translate.

It will be here proper to remark, that a narrative so extraordinary as
that contained in the Book of Mormon, translated from hieroglyphics, of
which even the most learned have but a limited knowledge, and that too,
by an ignorant man, who pretended to no other knowledge of the
characters than what he derived from inspiration, requires more than
ordinary evidence to substantiate it. It will, therefore, be our purpose
to inquire into the nature and degree of testimony which has been given
to the world to substantiate the claims of this extraordinary book.

In the first place, the existence of the plates themselves has ever
since their alleged discovery been in dispute. On this point it would be
extremely easy to give some proofs, by making an exhibition of them to
the world. If they are so ancient as they are claimed to be, and
designed for the purpose of transmitting the history of a people, and if
they have lain for ages deposited In the earth, their appearance would
certainly indicate the fact. What evidence, then, have we of the
_existence_ of these plates? Why, none other than the mere _dictum_ of
Smith himself and the certificates of eleven other individuals, who say
that they have seen them; and upon this testimony we are required to
believe this most extraordinary narrative.

Now, even admitting, for the sake of argument, that these witnesses are
all honest and credible men, yet what would be easier than for Smith to
deceive them? Could he not easily procure plates and inscribe thereon a
set of characters, no matter what, and exhibit them to the intended
witnesses as genuine? What would be easier than thus to impose on their
credulity and weakness? And if it were necessary to give them the
appearances of antiquity, a chemical process could effect the matter.
But we do not admit that these witnesses were honest; for six of them,
after having made the attestation to the world that they had seen the
plates, left the Church, thus contradicting that to which they had
certified. And one of these witnesses, Martin Harris, who is frequently
mentioned In the Book of Covenants--who was a high-priest of the
Church--who was one of the most infatuated of Smith's followers--who
even gave his property in order to procure the publication of the Book
of Mormon, afterwards seceded from the Church. Smith, in speaking of him
in connection with others, said that they were so far beneath contempt,
that a notice of them would be too great a sacrifice for a gentleman
to make.

Some of the Mormons have said that a copy of the plates was presented to
Professor Anthon, a gentleman standing in the first rank as a classical
scholar, and that he attested to the faithfulness of the translation of
the Book of Mormon. Now, let us read what the professor himself has to
say on this matter. In a letter recently published he expresses
himself thus:--

"Many years ago, the precise date I do not now recollect, a
plain-looking countryman called upon me, with a letter from Dr. Samuel
L. Mitchell, requesting me to examine and give my opinion upon a certain
paper, marked with various characters, which the doctor confessed he
could not decipher, and which the bearer of the note was very anxious to
have explained. A very brief examination of the paper convinced me that
it was not only a mere hoax, but a very clumsy one. The characters were
arranged in columns, like the Chinese mode of writing, and presented the
most singular medley I ever beheld. Greek, Hebrew, and all sorts of
letters, more or less distorted, either through unskilfulness or from
actual design, were intermingled with sundry delineations of half-moons,
stars, and other natural objects, and the whole ended in a rude
representation of the Mexican zodiac. The conclusion was irresistible,
that some cunning fellow had prepared the paper in question, for the
purpose of imposing upon the countryman who brought it, and I told the
man so, without any hesitation. He then proceeded to give me the history
of the whole affair, which convinced me that he had fallen into the
hands of some sharper, while it left me in great astonishment at his
simplicity."

The professor also states that he gave his opinion in writing to the
man, that "the marks on the paper appeared to be merely an imitation of
various alphabetic characters, and had no meaning at all connected
with them."

The following letter, which I received, relative to the occupation of
Joe Smith, as a treasure-finder, will probably remind the reader of the
character of Dousterswivel, in Walter Scott's tale of the Antiquary. One
could almost imagine that either Walter Scott had borrowed from Joe, or
that Joe had borrowed from the great novelist.

"I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, senior, and his family, in
1820. They lived at that time in Palmyra, about one mile and a half from
my residence. A great part of their time was devoted to digging for
money; especially in the night-time, when, they said, the money could be
most easily obtained. I have heard them tell marvellous tales respecting
the discoveries they have made in their peculiar occupation of
money-digging. They would say, for instance, that in such and such a
place, in such a hill, or a certain man's farm, there were deposited
kegs, barrels, and hogsheads of coined silver and gold, bars of gold,
golden images, brass kettles filled with gold and silver, gold
candlesticks, swords, &c., &c. They would also say, that nearly all the
hills in this part of New York were thrown by human hands, and in them
were large caves, which Joseph, jun., could see, by placing a stone of
singular appearance in his hat, in such a manner as to exclude all
light; at which time they pretended he could see all things within and
under the earth; that he could spy within the above-mentioned caves
large gold bars and silver plates; that he could also discover the
spirits in whose charge these treasures were, clothed in ancient
dresses. At certain times, these treasures could be obtained very
easily; at others, the obtaining of them was difficult. The facility of
approaching them depended in a great measure on the state of the moon.
New moon and Good Friday, I believe, were regarded as the most
favourable times for obtaining these treasures. These tales, of course,
I regarded as visionary. However, being prompted by curiosity, I at
length accepted their invitation to join them in their nocturnal
excursions. I will now relate a few incidents attending these nocturnal
excursions.

"Joseph Smith, sen., came to me one night, and told me that Joseph,
jun., had been looking in his stone, and had seen, not many rods from
his house, two or three kegs of gold and silver, some feet under the
surface of the earth, and that none others but the elder Joseph and
myself could get them. I accordingly consented to go, and early in the
evening repaired to the place of deposit. Joseph, sen., first made a
circle, twelve or fourteen feet in diameter: 'This circle,' said he,
'contains the treasure.' He then stuck in the ground a row of
witch-hazel sticks around the said circle, for the purpose of keeping
off the evil spirits. Within this circle he made another, of about eight
or ten feet in diameter. He walked around three times on the periphery
of this last circle, muttering to himself something I could not
understand. He next stuck a steel rod in the centre of the circles, and
then enjoined profound silence, lest we should arouse the evil spirit
who had the charge of these treasures. After we had dug a trench of
about five feet in depth around the rod, the old man, by signs and
motions, asked leave of absence, and went to the house to inquire of the
son the cause of our disappointment. He soon returned, and said, that
Joe had remained all the time in the house, looking in his stone and
watching the motions of the evil spirit; that he saw the spirit come up
to the ring, and as soon as it beheld the cone which we had formed
around the rod, it caused the money to sink. We then went into the
house, and the old man observed that we had made a mistake in the
commencement of the operation; 'If it had not been for that,' said he,
'we should have got the money.'

"At another time, they devised a scheme by which they might satiate
their hunger with the flesh of one of my sheep. They had seen in my
flock of sheep a large, fat, black wether. Old Joseph and one of the
boys came to me one day, and said, that Joseph, jun., had discovered
some very remarkable and valuable treasures, which could be procured
only in one way. That way was as follows:--that a black sheep should be
taken on the ground where the treasures were concealed; that, after
cutting its throat, it should be led around a circle while bleeding;
this being done, the wrath of the evil spirit would be appeased, the
treasures could then be obtained, and my share of them would be
four-fold. To gratify my curiosity, I let them have the sheep. They
afterwards informed me that the sheep was killed pursuant to
commandment; but, as there was some mistake in the process, it did not
have the desired effect. This, I believe, is the only time they ever
made money-digging a profitable business. They, however, had constantly
around them a worthless gang, whose employment it was to dig for money
at night, and who, during day, had more to do with mutton than money.

"When they found that the better classes of people of this vicinity
would no longer put any faith in their schemes for digging money, they
then pretended to find a gold bible, of which they said the Book of
Mormon was only an introduction. This latter book was at length fitted
for the press. No means were taken by any individual to suppress its
publication; no one apprehended danger from a book originating with
individuals who had neither influence, honesty, nor honour. The two
Josephs and Hiram promised to show me the plates after the Book of
Mormon was translated; but afterwards, they pretended to have received
an express commandment, forbidding them to show the plates. Respecting
the manner of obtaining and translating the Book of Mormon, their
statements were always discordant. The elder Joseph would say, that he
had seen the plates, and that he knew them to be gold; at other times he
would say, they looked like gold; and at other times he asserted he had
not seen the plates at all.

"I have thus briefly stated a few of the facts, in relation to the
conduct and character of this family of Smiths; probably sufficient has
been stated without my going into detail.

"WILLIAM STAFFORD."

The following is a curious document from one of the very individuals who
printed the Mormon Bible:--

"Having noticed in a late number of the _Signs of the Times_ a notice of
a work entitled 'Mormon Delusions and Monstrosities,' it occurred to me
that it might, perhaps, be of service to the cause of truth to state one
circumstance, relative to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, which
occurred during its publication, at which time I was engaged in the
office where it was printed, and became familiar with the men and their
principles, through whose agency it was 'got up.'

"The circumstance alluded to was as follows!--We had heard much said by
Martin Harris, the man who paid for the printing, and the only one in
the concern worth any property, about the wonderful wisdom of the
translators of the mysterious plates, and we resolved to test their
wisdom. Accordingly, after putting one sheet in type? we laid it aside,
and told Harris it was lost, and there would be a serious defection in
the book in consequence, unless another sheet, like the original, could
be produced. The announcement threw the old gentleman into great
excitement; but, after a few moments reflection, he said he would try
to obtain another. After two or three weeks, another sheet was produced,
but no more like the original than any other sheet of paper would have
been, written over by a common schoolboy, after having read, as they
had, the manuscript preceding and succeeding the lost sheet. As might be
expected, the disclosure of this trick greatly annoyed the authors, and
caused no little merriment among those who were acquainted with the
circumstance. As we were none of us _Christians_, and only laboured for
the 'gold that perisheth,' we did not care for the delusion, only so far
as to be careful to avoid it ourselves and enjoy the hoax. _Not one_ of
the hands in the office where the wonderful book was printed ever became
a convert to the system, although the writer of this was often assured
by Harris, that if he did not, he would be destroyed in 1832.

"T.N.S. TUCKER."

GROTON, MAY 23, 1842.



CHAPTER XLIII.


Let us now examine into the political views of the Mormons, and follow
Smith in his lofty and aspiring visions of sovereignty for the future.
He is a rogue and a swindler,--no one can doubt that; yet there is
something grand in his composition. Joe, the mean, miserable,
half-starved money-digger of western New York, was, as I have before
observed, cast in the mould of conquerors, and out of that same clay
which Nature had employed for the creation of a Mahomet.

His first struggle was successful; the greater portion of his followers
surrounded him in Kirkland, and acknowledged his power, as that of God's
right hand; while many individuals from among the better classes
repaired to him, attracted by the ascendancy of a bold genius, or by the
expectation of obtaining a share in his fame, power, and glory.

Kirkland, however, was an inland place; there, on every side, Smith had
to contend with opposition; his power was confined and his plans had not
sufficient room for development He turned his mind towards the western
borders of Missouri: it was but a thought; but with him, rapid action
was as much a natural consequence of thought as thunder is of lightning
Examine into the topography of that country, the holy Zion and promised
land of the Mormons, and it will be easy to recognize the fixed and
unchangeable views of Smith, as connected with the formation of a
vast empire.

For the last twelve or fifteen years the government of the United States
has, through a mistaken policy been constantly engaged in sending to the
western borders all the eastern Indian tribes that were disposed to sell
their land, and also the various tribes who, having rebelled against
their cowardly despotism, had been overpowered and conquered during the
struggle. This gross want of policy is obvious.

Surrounded and demoralized by white men, the Indian falls into a
complete state of _décadence_ and _abrutissement_. Witness the Choctaw
tribes that hover constantly about Mobile and New Orleans; the
Winnibegoes, who have of late come into immediate contact with the
settlers of Wisconsin; the Pottawatomies, on both shores of Lake
Michigan; the Miamis of North Indiana, and many more. On the contrary,
the tribes on the borders, or in the wilderness, are on the increase. Of
course, there are a few exceptions, such as the Kanzas, or the poor
Mandans, who have lately been almost entirely swept away from the earth
by the small-pox. Some of the smaller tribes may be destroyed by
warfare, or they may incorporate themselves with others, and thus lose
their name and nationality; but the increase of the Indian population is
considerable among the great uncontrolled nations; such as the Chippewas
and Dahcotahs (Siouxes), of the north United States; the Comanches and
the Pawnees, on the boundaries, or even in the very heart of Texas; the
Shoshones (Snakes), on the southern limits of Oregon; and the brave
Apaches of Sonora, those bold Bedouins of the Mexican deserts, who,
constantly on horseback, wander, in immense phalanxes, from the eastern
shores of the Gulf of California to the very waters of the Rio Grande.

Admitting, therefore, as a fact, that the tribes on the borders do
increase, in the same ratio with their material strength, grows also
their invincible, stern, and unchangeable hatred towards the American.
In fact, more or less, they have all been ill-treated and abused, and
every additional outrage to one tribe is locked up in the memory of all,
who wait for the moment of retaliation revenge. In the Wisconsin war
(Black Hawk, 1832), even after the poor starved warriors had surrendered
themselves by treaty, after a noble struggle, more than two hundred old
men, women, and children were forced by the Americans to cross the river
without boats or canoes. The poor things endeavoured to pass it with the
help of their horses; the river there was more than half a mile broad,
and while these unfortunates were struggling for life against a current
of nine miles an hour, they were shot in the water.

This fact is known to all the tribes--even to the Comanches, who are so
distant. It has satisfied them as to what they may expect from those who
thus violate all treaties and all faith. The remainder of that brave
tribe is now dwelling on the west borders of Iowa, but their wrongs are
too deeply dyed with their own blood to be forgotten even by
generations, and their cause is ready to be espoused by every tribe,
even those who have been their hereditary enemies; for what is, after
all, their history, but the history of almost every Indian nation
transplanted on the other side of the Mississippi?

This belt of Indian tribes, therefore, is rather an unsafe neighbour,
especially in the event of a civil war or of a contest with England.
Having themselves, by a mistaken policy, collected together a cordon of
offended warriors, the United States will some day deplore, when too
late, their former greediness, and cruelty towards the natural owners of
their vast territories.

It is among these tribes that Joe Smith wishes to lay the foundation of
his future empire; and settling at Independence, he was interposing as a
neutral force between two opponents, who would, each of them, have
purchased his massive strength and effective energy with the gift of
supremacy over an immense and wealthy territory. As we have seen, chance
and the fortune of war have thrown Smith and the Mormons back on the
eastern shores of the Mississippi, opposite the entrance of Desmoines
river; but when forced back, the Mormons were an unruly and turbulent
crowd, without means or military tactics; now, such is not the case.
Already, the prophet has sent able agents over the river; the Sacs and
Foxes, the same tribe we have just spoken of as the much-abused nation
of Wisconsin, and actually residing at about eighty miles N.N.W. from
Nauvoo, besides many others, are on a good understanding with the
Latter-day Saints. A few bold apostles of Mormonism have also gone to
the far, far west, among the unconquered tribes of the prairies, to
organize an offensive power, ever ready for action.

Thus, link after link, Smith extends his influence, which is already
felt in Illinois, in Iowa, in Missouri, at Washington, and at the very
foot of the Rocky Mountains. Moreover, hundreds of Mormons, without
avowing their creed, have gone to Texas, and established themselves
there. They save all their crops, and have numerous cattle and droves of
horses, undoubtedly to feed and sustain a Mormon army on any future
invasion. Let us now examine further into this cunning and long-sighted
policy, and we shall admire the great genius that presides over it. We
are not one of those, so common in these days, who have adopted the _nil
admirari_ for their motto. Genius, well or ill guided, is still genius;
and if we load with shame the former life of Smith and his present
abominable religious impositions, still we are bound to do justice to
that conquering spirit which can form such vast ideas, and work such a
multitude to his will.

The population of Texas does not amount to seventy thousand souls, among
whom there are twenty-five different forms of religion. Two-thirds of
the inhabitants are scoundrels, who have there sought a refuge against
the offended laws of their country. They are not only a curse and a
check to civilization, but they reflect dishonour upon the remaining
third portion of the Texans, who have come from distant climes for the
honest purposes of trade and agriculture. This mongrel and mixed
congregation of beings, though firmly united in one point (war with
Mexico, and that in the expectation of a rich plunder), are continually
at variance on other points. Three thousand Texans would fight against
Mexico, but not two hundred against the Mormons; and that for many
reasons: government alone, and not an individual, would be a gainer by a
victory; in Texas, not a soul cares for anything but himself. Besides,
the Mormons are Yankees, and can handle a rifle, setting aside their
good drilling and excellent discipline. In number, they would also have
the advantage; while I am now writing, they can muster five thousand
well-drilled soldiers, and, in the event of an invasion of Texas, they
could easily march ten thousand men from the Sabine to the Rio Grande,
from the Red River to the Gulf of Mexico. Opposition they will not meet.
A year after the capture, the whole of Texas becomes Mormon, while
Joe--king, emperor, Pharaoh, judge or regenerator--rules over a host of
two hundred and fifty thousand devoted subjects.

Let our reader observe that these are not the wild Utopias of a heated
imagination. No; we speak as we do believe, and our intercourse with the
Mormons during our travels has been sufficiently close to give us a
clear insight into their designs for the future.

Joe's policy is, above all, to conciliate the Indians, and that once
done, there will not be in America a power capable of successfully
opposing him. In order to assist this he joins them in his new faith. In
admitting the Indians to be the "right, though guilty," descendants of
the sacred tribes, he flatters them with an acknowledgment of their
antiquity, the only point on which a white can captivate and even blind
the shrewd though untutored man of the wilds.

In explanation of the plans and proceedings of Joe Smith and the
Mormons, it may not be amiss to make some remarks upon the locality
which he has designed as the seat of his empire and dominion, and where
he has already established his followers, as the destined instruments of
his ambition.

According to the Mormon prophets, the whole region of country between
the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghanies was, at a period of about
thirteen hundred years ago, densely peopled by nations descended from a
Jewish family, who emigrated from Jerusalem in the time of the prophet
Jeremiah, some six or seven hundred years before Christ; immense cities
were founded, and sumptuous edifices reared, and the whole land
overspread with the results of a high and extensive civilization.

The Book of Mormon speaks of cities with stupendous stone walls, and of
battles, in which hundreds of thousands were slain. The land afterwards
became a waste and howling wilderness, traversed by a few straggling
bands or tribes of savages, descended from a branch of the aforesaid
Jewish family, who, in consequence, of their wickedness, had their
complexion changed from white to red; but the emigrants from Europe and
their descendants, having filled the land, and God having been pleased
to grant a revelation by which is made known the true history of the
past in America, and the events which are about to take place, he has
also commanded the Saints of the Latter Day to assemble themselves
together there, and occupy the land which was once held by the members
of the true church.

The states of Missouri and Illinois, and the territory of Iowa, are the
regions to which the prophet has hitherto chiefly directed his schemes
of aggrandizement, and which are to form the nucleus of the Mormon
empire. The remaining states are to be _licked up_ like salt, and fall
before the sweeping falchion of glorious prophetic dominion, like the
defenceless lamb before the mighty king of the forest.

I have given the results of my notes taken relative to the Mormons, not,
perhaps, in very chronological order, but as I gathered them from time
to time. The reader will agree with me, that the subject is well worth
attention. Absurd and ridiculous as the creed may be, no creed ever, in
so short a period, obtained so many or such devoted proselytes. From
information I have since received, they may now amount to three hundred
thousand; and they have wealth, energy, and unity--they have
everything--in their favour; and the federal government has been so
long passive, that I doubt if it has the power to disperse them. Indeed,
to obtain their political support, they have received so many
advantages, and, I may say, such assistance, that they are now so
strong, that any attempt to wrest from them the privileges which have
been conceded would be the signal for a general rising.

They have fortified Nauvoo; they can turn out a disciplined force as
large as the States are likely to oppose to them, and, if successful,
can always expect the co-operation of seventy thousand Indians, or, if
defeated, a retreat among them, which will enable them to coalesce for a
more fortunate opportunity of action. Neither do I imagine that the loss
of their leader, Joe Smith, would now much affect their strength; there
are plenty to replace him, equally capable, not perhaps to have formed
the confederacy, religious and political, which he has done, but to
uphold it, now that it is so strong. The United States appear to me to
be just now in a most peculiar state of progression, and very soon the
eyes of the whole world will be directed towards them and the result of
their institutions. A change is about to take place; what that change
will be, it is difficult to say; but a few years will decide
the question.



CHAPTER XLIV.


Having now related the principal events which I witnessed, or in which I
was an actor, both in California and in Texas, as these countries are
still new and but little known (for, indeed, the Texans themselves know
nothing of their inland country), I will attempt a topographical sketch
of these regions, and also make some remarks upon the animals which
inhabit the immense prairies and mountains of the wilderness.

Along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, from the 42° down to the 34°
North, the climate is much the same; the only difference between the
winter and summer being that the nights of the former season are a
little chilly. The causes of this mildness in the temperature are
obvious. The cold winds of the north, rendered sharper still by passing
over the snows and ices of the great northern lakes, cannot force their
passage across the rocky chain south of the latitude 44° N., being
prevented by a belt of high mountains or by impenetrable forests. To the
eastward, on the contrary, they are felt very severely; not encountering
any kind of obstacles, they sweep their course to the very shores of the
Gulf of Mexico, so that in 26° N. latitude, on the southern boundaries
of Texas, winter is still winter; that is to say, fire is necessary in
the apartments during the month of January, and flannel and cloth
dresses are worn; while, on the contrary, the same month on the shores
of the Pacific, up to 40°, is mild enough to allow strangers from the
south, and even the Sandwich islanders, to wear their light nankeen
trowsers and gingham round-abouts.

There is also a wide difference between the two coasts of the continent
during summer. In Upper California and the Shoshone territory, although
the heat, from the rays of the sun, is intense, the temperature is so
cooled both by the mountain and sea-breeze, as never to raise the
mercury to more than 95° Fahrenheit, even in St. Diego, which lies
under the parallel of 32° 39'; while in the east, from 27° in South
Texas, and 30° at New Orleans, up to 49° upon Lake Superior, the mercury
rises to 100° every year, and frequently 105°, 107° in St Louis, in
Prairie du Chien, Green Bay, St. Anthony's Falls, and the Lake Superior.

The _résumé_ of this is simply that the climate of the western coast of
America is the finest in the world, with an air so pure, that during the
intense heat of summer a bullock, killed, cleansed, and cut into slices,
will keep for months without any salting nor smoking.

Another cause which contributes to render these countries healthy and
pleasant to live in is, that there are, properly speaking, no swamps,
marshes, nor bayous, as in the United States, and in the neighbourhood
of Acapulco and West Mexico. These lakes and bayous drying during
summer, and exposing to the rays of the sun millions of dead fish,
impregnate the atmosphere with miasma, generating typhus, yellow fever,
dysenteries, and pulmonary diseases.

If the reader will look over the map I have sketched of the Shoshone
country, he will perceive how well the land is watered; the lakes are
all transparent and deep, the rivers run upon a rocky bottom as well as
all the brooks and creeks, the waters of which are always cool and
plentiful. One more observation to convince the reader of the
superiority of the clime is, that, except a few ants in the forest,
there are no insects whatever to be found. No mosquitoes, no prairie
horse-flies, no beetles, except the ceconilla or large phosphoric fly of
California, and but very few worms and caterpillars; the consequence is,
that there are but two or three classes of the smaller species of
carnivorous birds; the large ones, such as the common and red-headed
vulture and crow, are very convenient, fulfilling the office of general
scavengers in the prairies, where every year thousands of wild cattle
die, either from fighting, or, when in the central deserts, from the
want of water. On the western coast, the aspect of the country, in
general, is gently diversified; the monotony of the prairies in the
interior being broken by _islands_ of fine timber, and now and then by
mountains projecting boldly from their bases. Near the sea-shore the
plains are intersected by various ridges of mountains, giving birth to
thousands of small rapid streams, which carry their cool and limpid
waters to the many tributaries of the sea, which are very numerous
between the mouth of the Calumet and Buonaventura. Near to the coast
lies a belt of lofty pines and shady odoriferous magnolias, which
extends in some places to the very beach and upon the high cliffs, under
which the shore is so bold that the largest man-of-war could sail
without danger. I remember to have once seen, above the bay of San
Francisco, the sailors of a Mexican brig sitting on the ends of their
topsail yards, and picking the flowers from the branches of the trees as
they glided by.

In that part of the country, which is intersected by mountains, the soil
is almost everywhere mineral, while the mountains themselves contain
rich mines of copper. I know of beds of gallena extending for more than
a hundred miles; and, in some tracts, magnesian earths cover an immense
portion of the higher ridges. Most of the sandy streams of the Shoshone
territory contain a great deal of gold-dust, which the Indians collect
twice a year and exchange away with the Mexicans, and also with the
Arrapahoes.

The principal streams containing gold are tributaries to the
Buonaventura, but there are many others emptying into small lakes of
volcanic formation. The mountains in the neighbourhood of the Colorado
of the West, and in the very country of the Arrapahoes, are full of
silver, and perhaps no people in the world can show a greater profusion
of this bright metal than these Indians.

The Shoshone territory is of modern formation, at least in comparison
with the more southern countries where the Cordillieres and the Andes
project to the very shores of the ocean. It is evident that the best
portion of the land, west of the Buonaventura, was first redeemed from
the sea by some terrible volcanic eruption. Until about two centuries
ago, or perhaps less, these subterranean fires have continued to
exercise their ravages, raising prairies into mountains, and sinking
mountains and forests many fathoms below the surface of the earth; their
sites now marked by lakes of clear and transparent water, frequently
impregnated with a slight, though not unpleasant, taste of sulphur;
while precious stones, such as topazes, sapphires, large blocks of
amethysts, are found every day in the sand and among the pebbles on
their borders.

In calm days I have often seen, at a few fathoms deep, the tops of pine
trees still standing in their natural perpendicular position. In the
southern streams are found emeralds of very fine water; opals also are
very frequently met with.

The formation of the rocks is in general basaltic, but white, black, and
green marble, red porphyry, jaspar, red and grey granite, abound east of
the Buonaventura. Quartz, upon some of the mountains near the sea-shore,
is found in immense blocks, and principally in that mountain range which
is designated in the map as the "Montagne du Monstre," at the foot of
which were dug up the remains of the huge Saurian lizard.

The greater portion of the country is, of course, prairie; these
prairies are covered with blue grass, muskeet grass, clovers, sweet
prairie hay, and the other grasses common to the east of the continent
of America. Here and there are scattered patches of plums of the
greengage kind, berries, and a peculiar kind of shrub oaks, never more
than five feet high, yet bearing a very large and sweet acorn; ranges of
hazel nuts will often extend thirty or forty miles, and are the abode of
millions of birds of the richest and deepest dyes.

Along the streams which glide through the prairies, there is a luxuriant
growth of noble timber, such as maple, magnolia, blue and green ash, red
oak, and cedar, around which climb vines loaded with grapes. Near the
sea-shores, the pine, both black and white, becomes exceedingly common,
while the smaller plains and hills are covered with that peculiar
species of the prickly pear upon which the cochineal insect feeds. All
round the extinguished volcano, and principally in the neighbourhood of
the hill Nanawa Ashta jueri è, the locality of our settlement upon the
banks of the Buonaventura, the bushes are covered with a very superior
quality of the vanilla bean.

The rivers and streams, as well as the lakes of the interior, abound
with fish; in the latter, the perch, trout, and carp are very common; in
the former, the salmon and white cat-fish, the soft-shelled tortoise,
the pearl oyster, the sea-perch (Lupus Maritimes), the ecrivisse, and
hundred families of the "crevette species," offer to the Indian a great
variety of delicate food for the winter. In the bays along the shore,
the mackarel and bonita, the turtle, and, unfortunately, the sharks, are
very numerous; while on the shelly beach, or the fissures of the rocks,
are to be found lobsters, and crabs of various sorts.

The whole country offers a vast field to the naturalist; the most common
birds of prey are the bald, the white-headed eagle, the black and the
grey, the falcon, the common hawk, the epervier, the black and
red-headed vulture, the raven and the crow. Among the granivorous, the
turkey, the wapo (a small kind of prairie ostrich), the golden and
common pheasant, the wild peacock, of a dull whitish colour, and the
guinea-fowl; these two last, which are very numerous, are not indigenous
to this part of the country, but about a century ago escaped from the
various missions of Upper California, at which they had been bred, and
since have propagated in incredible numbers; also the grouse, the
prairie hen, the partridge, the quail, the green parrot, the blackbird,
and many others which I cannot name, not knowing their generic
denomination. The water-fowls are plentiful, such as swans, geese, ducks
of many different species, and the Canadian geese with their long black
necks, which, from November to March, graze on the prairies in
thousands.

The quadrupeds are also much diversified. First in rank, among the
grazing animals, I may name the mustangs, or wild horses, which wander
in the natural pastures in herds of hundreds of thousands. They vary in
species and size, according to the country where they are found, but
those found in California, Sonora, and the western district of Texas,
are the finest breed in the world. They were imported from Andalusia by
the Spaniards, almost immediately after the conquest of Grenada, the
Bishop of Leon having previously, by his prayers, "exorcised the devil
out of their bodies."

Mr. Catlin says, that in seeing the Comanche horse, he was much
disappointed; it is likely, Mr. Catlin having only visited the northern
borders of Texas, and the poorest village of the whole Comanche tribe.
If, however, he had proceeded as far as the Rio Puerco, he would have
seen the true Mecca breed, with which the Moslems conquered Spain. He
would have also perceived how much the advantages of a beautiful clime
and perpetual pasture has improved these noble animals, making them
superior to the primitive stock, both in size, speed, and bottom. With
one of them I made a journey of five thousand miles, and on arriving in
Missouri, I sold him for eight hundred dollars. He was an entire horse,
as white as snow, and standing seventeen and a half hands high. One
thousand pounds would not have purchased him in England.

Next, the lordly buffaloes, the swift wild-goat, the deer, the antelope,
the elk, the prairie dogs, the hare, and the rabbits. The carnivorous
are the red panther, or puma[31], the spotted leopard, the ounce, the
jaguar, the grizzly black and brown bear, the wolf, black, white and
grey; the blue, red, and black fox, the badger, the porcupine, the
hedgehog, and the coati (an animal peculiar to the Shoshone territory,
and Upper California), a kind of mixture of the fox and wolf breed,
fierce little animals with bushy tails and large heads, and a quick,
sharp bark.

[Footnote 31: The puma, or red panther, is also called "American lion,
cougar," and in the western States, "catamount." It was once spread all
over the continent of America, and is even now found, although very
rarely, as far north as Hudson's Bay. No matter under what latitude, the
puma is a sanguinary animal; but his strength, size, and thirst of
blood, vary with the clime.

I have killed this animal in California, in the Rocky Mountains, in
Texas, and in Missouri; in each of these places it presented quite a
different character. In Chili it has the breadth and limbs approaching
to those of the African lion; to the far north, it falls away in bulk,
until it is as thin and agile as the hunting leopard. In Missouri and
Arkansas, the puma will prey chiefly upon fowls and young pigs; it will
run away from dogs, cows, horses, and even from goats. In Louisiana and
Texas it will run from man, but it fights the dogs, tears the horse, and
kills the cattle, even the wild buffalo, merely for sport. In the
Anahuar, Cordillieres, and Rocky Mountains, it disdains to fly, becomes
more majestic in its movements, and faces its opponents, from the
grizzly bear to a whole company of traders; yet it will seldom attack
unless when cubbing. In Sonora and California, it is even more
ferocious. When hungry, it will hunt by the scent, like the dog, with
its nose on the ground. Meeting a trail, it follows it at the rate of
twenty miles an hour, till it can pounce upon a prey; a single horseman,
or an army, a deer, or ten thousand buffaloes, it cares not, it attacks
everything.

I did not like to interrupt my narrative merely to relate a puma
adventure, but during the time that I was with the Comanches, a Mexican
priest, who had for a long time sojourned as instructor among the
Indians, arrived in the great village on his way to St. Louis, Mi.,
where he was proceeding on clerical affairs. The Comanches received him
with affection, gave him a fresh mule, with new blankets, and mustered a
small party to accompany him to the Wakoes Indians.

The Padre was a highly talented man, above the prejudices of his cast;
he had lived the best part of his life in the wilderness among the wild
tribes on both sides of the Anahuar, and had observed and learned enough
to make him love "these children of nature." So much was I pleased with
him, that I offered to command the party which was to accompany him. My
request was granted, and having provided ourselves with a long tent and
the necessary provisions, we started on our journey.

Nothing remarkable happened till we arrived at the great chasm I have
already mentioned, when, our provisions being much reduced, we pitched
the tent on the very edge of the chasm, and dedicated half a day to
hunting and grazing our horses. A few deer were killed, and to avoid a
nocturnal attack from the wolves, which were very numerous, we hung the
meat upon the cross-pole inside of the tent. The tent itself was about
forty feet long, and about seven in breadth; large fires were lighted at
the two ends, piles of wood were gathered to feed them during the night,
and an old Indian and I took upon us the responsibility of keeping the
fires alive till the moon should be up.

These arrangements being made, we spread our buffalo-hides, with our
saddles for pillows, and, as we were all exhausted, we stretched
ourselves, if not to sleep, at least to repose. The _padre_ amused me,
during the major portion of my watch, in relating to me his past
adventures, when he followed the example of all the Indians, who were
all sound asleep, except the one watching at the other extremity of the
tent. This Indian observed to me, that the moon would rise in a couple
of hours, and that, if we were to throw a sufficient quantity of fuel on
the fire, we could also sleep without any fear. I replenished the fuel,
and, wrapping myself in my blanket, I soon fell asleep.

I awoke suddenly, thinking I had heard a rubbing of some body against
the canvas outside of the tent. My fire was totally extinguished, but,
the moon having risen, gave considerable light. The hour of danger had
passed. As I raised my head, I perceived that the fire at the other
opening of the tent was also nearly extinguished; I wrapt myself still
closer, as the night had become cool, and soon slept as soundly
as before.

Once more I was awakened, but this time there was no delusion of the
senses, for I felt a heavy pressure on my chest. I opened my eyes, and
could scarcely refrain from crying out, when I perceived that the weight
which had thus disturbed my sleep was nothing less than the hind paw of
a large puma. There he stood, his back turned to me, and seeming to
watch with great avidity a deer-shoulder suspended above his head. My
feelings at that moment were anything but pleasant; I felt my heart
beating high; the smallest nervous movement, which perhaps I could not
control, would divert the attention of the animal, whose claws would
then immediately enter my flesh.

I advanced my right hand towards the holster, under my head, to take one
of my pistols, but the holsters were buttoned up, and I could not undo
them, as this would require a slight motion of my body. At last I felt
the weight sliding down my ribs till it left me; and I perceived, that
in order to take a better leap at the meat, the puma had moved on a
little to the left, but in so doing one of his fore paws rested upon the
chest of the _padre_. I then obtained one of the pistols, and was just
in the act of cocking it under my blanket, when I heard a mingled shriek
and roar. Then succeeded a terrible scuffling. A blanket was for a
second rolled over me; the canvas of the tent was burst open a foot
above me; I heard a heavy fall down the chasm; the _padre_ screamed
again; by accident I pulled the trigger and discharged my pistol; and
the Indians, not knowing what was the matter, gave a tremendous
war-whoop.

The scene I have described in so many lines was performed in a few
seconds. It was some time before we could recover our senses and inquire
into the matter. It appeared, that at the very moment the puma was
crouching to take his leap, the _padre_ awaking, gave the scream; this
terrified the animal, who dashed through the canvas of the tent above me
with the _padre's_ blanket entangled in his claws.

Poor _padre_! he had fainted, and continued senseless till daylight,
when I bled him with my penknife. Fear had produced a terrible effect
upon him, and his hair, which the evening before was as black as jet,
had now changed to the whiteness of snow. He never recovered,
notwithstanding the attention shown to him by the Indians who
accompanied him to St. Louis. Reason had forsaken its seat, and, as I
learned some time afterwards, when, being in St. Louis, I went to the
mission to inquire after him, he died two days after his arrival at the
Jesuits' college.

As to the puma, the Indians found it dead at the bottom of the chasm,
completely wrapped in the blanket, and with most of its bones broken.]

The amphibious are the beaver, the fresh-water and sea-otter, the
musk-rat, and a species of long lizard, with sharp teeth, very like the
cayman as regards the head and tail, but with a very short body. It is a
very fierce animal, killing whatever it attacks, dwelling in damp, shady
places, in the juncks, upon the borders of some lakes, and is much
dreaded by the Indians; fortunately, it is very scarce. The Shoshones
have no particular name for it, but would sooner attack a grizzly bear
than this animal, which they have a great dread of, sometimes calling it
the evil spirit, sometimes the scourge, and many other such
appellations. It has never yet been described by any naturalist, and I
never yet saw one dead, although I have heard of their having
been killed.

In Texas, the country presents two different aspects, much at variance
with each other, the eastern borders, and sea-coast being only a
continuation of the cypress swamps, mud creeks, and cane-brakes of south
Arkansas, and west Louisiana; while, on the contrary, the north and west
offer much the same topography as that of the countries I have just
delineated. The climate in Texas is very healthy two hundred miles from
the sea, and one hundred west of the Sabine, which forms the eastern
boundary of Texas; but to the east and south the same diseases and
epidemics prevail as in Louisiana, Alabama, and the Floridas.

The whole of Texas is evidently of recent formation, all the saline
prairies east of the Rio Grande being even now covered with shells of
all the species common to the Gulf of Mexico, mixed up with skeletons of
sharks, and now and then with petrified turtle, dolphin, rock fish, and
bonitas. A few feet below the surface, and hundreds of miles distant
from the sea, the sea-sand is found; and although the ground seems to
rise gradually as it recedes from the shores, the southern plains are
but a very little elevated above the surface of the sea until you arrive
at thirty degrees north, when the prairies begin to assume an undulating
form, and continually ascend till, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains,
they acquire a height of four and five thousand feet above the level
of the sea.

Texas does not possess any range of mountains with the exception that,
one hundred miles north from San Antonio de Bejar, the San Seba hills
rise and extend themselves in a line parallel with the Rocky Mountains,
as high as the green peaks in the neighbourhood of Santa Fé. The San
Seba hills contain several mines of silver, and I doubt not that this
metal is very common along the whole range east of the Rio Grande. Gold
is also found in great quantities in all the streams tributary to the
Rio Puerco, but I have never heard of precious stones of any kind.

Excepting the woody districts which border Louisiana and Arkansas, the
greater proportion of Texas is prairie; a belt of land commences upon
one of the bends of the river Brasos, spreads northward to the very
shores of the Red River, and is called by the Americans "The Cross
Timbers;" its natural productions, together with those of the prairies,
are similar to those of the Shoshone country. Before the year 1836, and
I dare say even now, the great western prairies of Texas contained more
animals and a greater variety of species than any other part of the
world within the same number of square miles; and I believe that the
Sunderbunds in Bengal do not contain monsters more hideous and terrible
than are to be found in the eastern portion of Texas, over which nature
appears to have spread a malediction. The myriads of snakes of all
kinds, the unaccountable diversity of venomous reptiles, and even the
deadly tarantula spider or "vampire" of the prairies, are trifles,
compared with the awful inhabitants of the eastern bogs swamps, and
muddy rivers. The former are really dangerous only during two or three
months of the year, and, moreover, a considerable portion of the trails
are free from their presence, owing to the fires which break out in the
dry grass almost every fall. There the traveller knows what he has to
fear, and, independent of the instinct and knowledge of his horse, he
himself keeps an anxious look-out, watching the undulating motion of the
grass, and ever ready with his rifle or pistols in the event of his
being confronted with bears, pumas, or any other ferocious quadruped. If
he is attacked, he can fight, and only few accidents have ever happened
in these encounters, as these animals always wander alone with the
exception of the wolf, from whom, however, there is but little to fear,
as, in the prairies, this animal is always glutted with food and timid
at the approach of man.

As the prairie wolf is entirely different from the European, I will
borrow a page of Ross Cox, who, having had an opportunity of meeting it,
gives a very good description of its manners and ways of living. Yet as
this traveller does not describe the animal itself, I will add, that the
general colour of the prairie wolf is grey mixed with black, the ears
are round and straight, it is about forty inches long, and possesses the
sagacity and cunning of the fox.

"The prairie wolves," says Cox, "are much smaller than those which
inhabit the woods. They generally travel together in numbers, and a
solitary one is seldom met with. Two or three of us have often pursued
from fifty to one hundred, driving them before us as quickly as our
horses could charge.

"Their skins are of no value, and we do not therefore waste much powder
and ball in shooting them. The Indians, who are obliged to pay dear for
their ammunition, are equally careful not to throw it away on objects
that bring no remunerating value. The natural consequence is, that the
wolves are allowed to multiply; and some parts of the country are
completely overrun by them. The Indians catch numbers of them in traps,
which they set in the vicinity of those places where their tame horses
are sent to graze. The traps are merely excavations covered over with
slight switches and hay, and baited with meat, &c., into which the
wolves fall, and being unable to extricate themselves, they perish by
famine or the knife of the Indian. These destructive animals annually
destroy numbers of horses, particularly during the winter season, when
the latter get entangled in the snow, in which situation they become an
easy prey to their light-footed pursuers, ten or fifteen of which will
often fasten on one animal, and with their long fangs in a few minutes
separate the head from the body. If, however, the horses are not
prevented from using their legs, they sometimes punish the enemy
severely; as an instance of this, I saw one morning the bodies of two of
our horses which had been killed the night before, and around were lying
eight dead and maimed wolves; some with their brains scattered about,
and others with their limbs and ribs broken by the hoofs of the furious
animals in their vain attempts to escape from their assailants."

Although the wolves of America are the most daring of all the beasts of
prey on that continent, they are by no means so courageous or ferocious
as those of Europe, particularly in Spain or the south of France, in
which countries they commit dreadful ravages both on man and beast;
whereas a prairie wolf, except forced by desperation, will seldom or
never attack a human being.

I have said that the danger that attends the traveller in the great
prairies is trifling; but it is very different in the eastern swamps and
mud-holes, where the enemy, ever on the watch, is also always invisible,
and where the speed of the horse and the arms of the rider are of no
avail, for they are then swimming in the deep water, or splashing,
breast-deep, in the foul mud.

Among these monsters of the swamps and lagoons of stagnant waters, the
alligator ranks the first in size and voracity; yet man has nothing to
fear from him; and though there are many stories among the cotton
planters about negroes being carried away by this immense reptile, I do
firmly believe that few human beings have ever been seized alive by the
American alligator. But although harmless to man, the monster is a
scourge to all kinds of animals, and principally to dogs and horses. It
often happens that a rider loses his track through a swamp or a muddy
cane-brake, and then, if a new comer in East Texas, he is indubitably
lost. While his poor steed is vainly struggling in a yielding mass of
mud, he will fall into a hole, and before he can regain his footing, an
irresistible force will drag him deeper and deeper, till smothered. This
force is the tail of the alligator, with which this animal masters its
prey, no matter how strong or heavy, when once within its reach. M.
Audubon has perfectly described its power: I will repeat his words:--

"The power of the alligator is in its great strength, and the chief
means of its attack or defence is its large tail, so well contrived by
nature to supply his wants, or guard him from danger, that it reaches,
when curved into a half-circle, to his enormous mouth. Woe be to him who
goes within the reach of this tremendous thrashing instrument; for, no
matter how strong or muscular, if human, he must suffer greatly, if he
escape with life. The monster, as he strikes with this, forces all
objects within the circle towards his jaws, which, as the tail makes a
motion, are opened to their full stretch, thrown a little sideways to
receive the object, and, like battering-rams, to bruise it shockingly in
a moment."

Yet, as I have said, the alligator is but little formidable to man. In
Western Louisiana and Eastern Texas, where the animal is much hunted for
the sake of his grease, with which the planters generally oil the
machinery of their mills, little negroes are generally sent into the
woods, during the fall, "grease-making," as at that season the men are
better employed in cotton-picking or storing the maize. No danger ever
happens to the urchins during these expeditions, as, keeping within the
sweep of the tail, they contrive to chop it off with an axe.

M. Audubon says:--

"When autumn has heightened the colouring of the foliage of our woods,
and the air feels more rarified during the nights and the early part of
the day, the alligators leave the lakes to seek for winter-quarters, by
burrowing under the roots of trees, or covering themselves simply with
earth along their edges. They become then very languid and inactive,
and, at this period, to sit or ride on one would not be more difficult
than for a child to mount his wooden rocking-horse. The negroes, who now
kill them, put all danger aside by separating at one blow with an axe,
the tail from the body. They are afterwards cut up in large pieces, and
boiled whole in a good quantity of water, from the surface of which the
fat is collected with large ladles. One single man kills oftentimes a
dozen or more of large alligators in the evening, prepares his fire in
the woods, where he has erected a camp for the purpose, and by morning
has the oil extracted."

As soon as the rider feels his horse sinking, the first movement, if an
inexperienced traveller, is to throw himself from the saddle, and
endeavour to wade or to swim to the cane-brakes, the roots of which give
to the ground a certain degree of stability. In that case, his fate is
probably sealed, as he is in immediate danger of the "cawana." This is a
terrible and hideous monster, with which, strange to say, the
naturalists of Europe are not yet acquainted, though it is too well
known to all the inhabitants of the streams and lagoons tributary to the
Red River. It is an enormous turtle or tortoise, with the head and tail
of the alligator, not retractile, as is usual among the different
species of this reptile: the shell is one inch and a half thick, and as
impenetrable as steel. It lies in holes in the bottom of muddy rivers or
in the swampy cane-brakes, and measures often ten feet in length and six
in breadth over the shell, independent of the head and tail, which must
give often to this dreadful monster the length of twenty feet. Such an
unwieldy mass is not, of course, capable of any rapid motion; but in the
swamps I mention they are very numerous, and the unfortunate man or
beast going astray, and leaving for a moment the small patches of solid
ground, formed by the thicker clusters of the canes, must of a necessity
come within the reach of one of these powerful creature's jaws, always
extended and ready for prey.

Cawanas of a large size have never been taken alive, though often, in
draining the lagoons, shells have been found measuring twelve feet in
length. The planters of Upper Western Louisiana have often fished to
procure them for scientific acquaintances, but, although they take
hundreds of the smaller ones, they could never succeed to drag on shore
any of the large ones after they have been hooked, as these monsters
bury their claws, head, and tail so deep in the mud, that no power short
of steam can make them relinquish their hold.

Some officers of the United States army and land surveyors, sent on the
Red River by the government at Washington for a month, took up their
residence at Captain Finn's. One day, when the conversation had fallen
upon the cawana, it was resolved that a trial should be made to
ascertain the strength of the animal. A heavy iron hand-pike was
transformed by a blacksmith into a large hook, which was fixed to an
iron chain belonging to the anchor of a small-boat, and as that
extraordinary fishing-tackle was not of a sufficient length, they added
to it a hawser, forty fathoms in length and of the size of a woman's
wrist. The hook was baited with a lamb a few days old, and thrown into a
deep hole ten yards from the shore, where Captain Finn knew that one of
the monsters was located; the extremity of the hawser was made fast to
an old cotton-tree.

Late in the evening of the second day, and as the rain poured down in
torrents, a negro slave ran to the house to announce that the bait had
been taken, and every one rushed to the river side. They saw that, in
fact, the hawser was in a state of tension, but the weather being too
bad to do anything that evening, they put it off till the next morning.

A stout horse was procured, who soon dragged the hawser from the water
till the chain became visible, but all further attempts of the animal
were in vain; after the most strenuous exertion, the horse could not
conquer the resistance or gain a single inch. The visitors were puzzled,
and Finn then ordered one of the negroes to bring a couple of powerful
oxen, yoked to a gill, employed to drag out the stumps of old trees. For
many minutes the oxen were lashed and goaded in vain; every yarn of the
hawser was strained to the utmost, till, at last, the two brutes,
uniting all their strength in one vigorous and final pull, it was
dragged from the water, but the monster had escaped. The hook had
straightened, and to its barb were attached pieces of thick bones and
cartilages, which must have belonged to the palate of the monster.

The unfortunate traveller has but little chance of escaping with life,
if, from want of experience, he is foundered in the swampy canebrakes.
When the horse sinks and the rider leaves the saddle, the only thing he
can do is to return back upon his track; but let him beware of these
solitary small patches of briars, generally three or four yards in
circumference, which are spread here and there on the edges of the
canebrakes, for there he will meet with deadly reptiles and snakes
unknown in the prairies; such as the grey-ringed water mocassin, the
brown viper, the black congo with red head and the copper head, all of
whom congregate and it may be said make their nests in these little dry
oases, and their bite is followed by instantaneous death.

These are the dangers attending travellers in the swamps, but there are
many others to be undergone in crossing lagoons, rivers, or small lakes.
All the streams, tributaries of the Sabine and of the Red River below
the great bend (which is twenty miles north of the Lost Prairie), have
swampy banks and muddy bottoms, and are impassable when the water is too
low to permit the horses to swim. Some of these streams have ferries,
and some lagoons have floating bridges in the neighbourhood of the
plantations; but as it is a new country, where government has as yet
done nothing, these conveniences are private property, and the owner of
a ferry, not being bound by a contract, ferries only when he chooses and
at the price he wishes to command.

I will relate a circumstance which will enable the reader to understand
the nature of the country, and the difficulties of overland travelling
in Texas. The great Sulphur Fork is a tributary of the Red River, and it
is one of the most dangerous. Its approach can only be made on both
sides through belts of swampy canebrakes, ten miles in breadth, and so
difficult to travel over, that the length of the two swamps, short as it
is, cannot be passed by a fresh and strong horse in less than fourteen
hours. At just half-way of this painful journey the river is to be
passed, and this cannot be done without a ferry, for the moment you
leave the canes, the shallow water begins, and the bottom is so soft,
that any object touching it must sink to a depth of several fathoms.
Till 1834, no white man lived in that district, and the Indians resorted
to it only during the shooting season, always on foot and invariably
provided with half-a-dozen of canoes on each side of the stream for
their own use or for the benefit of travellers. The Texans are not so
provident nor so hospitable.

As the white population increased in that part of the country, a man of
the name of Gibson erected a hut on the southern bank of the stream,
constructed a flat-boat, and began ferrying over at the rate of three
dollars a head. As the immigration was very extensive, Gibson soon grew
independent, and he entered into a kind of partnership with the free
bands which were already organized. One day, about noon, a land
speculator presented himself on the other side of the river, and called
for the ferry. At that moment the sky was covered with dark and heavy
clouds, and flashes of lightning succeeded each other in every
direction; in fact, everything proved that the evening would not pass
without one of those dreadful storms so common in that country during
the months of April and May. Gibson soon appeared in his boat, but
instead of casting it loose, he entered into a conversation.

"Where do you come from, eh?"

"From the settlements," answered the stranger.

"You've a ticklish, muddish kind of river to pass."

"Aye," replied the other, who was fully aware of it.

"And a blackish, thunderish, damned storm behind you, I say."

The traveller knew that too, and as he believed that the conversation
could as well be carried on while crossing over, he added:

"Make haste, I pray, my good man; I am in a hurry, and I should not like
to pass the night here in these canes for a hundred dollars."

"Nor I, for a thousand," answered Gibson. "Well, stranger, what will you
give me to ferry you over?"

"The usual fare, I suppose--two or three dollars."

"Why, that may do for a poor man in fine weather, and having plenty of
time to spare, but I be blessed if I take you for ten times that money
now that you are in so great a hurry and have such a storm behind."

The traveller knew at once he had to deal with a blackguard, but as he
was himself an Arkansas man of the genuine breed, he resolved to give
him a "Roland for an Oliver."

"It is a shameful imposition," he cried; "how much do you want after
all?"

"Why, not a cent less than fifty dollars."

The stranger turned his horse round, as if he would go back; but, after
a few moments, he returned again.

"Oh," he cried, "you are a rogue, and take the opportunity of my being
in so great a hurry. I'll give you what you want, but mind I never will
pass this road again, and shall undoubtedly publish your conduct in the
Arkansas newspapers."

Gibson chuckled with delight; he had humbugged a stranger, and did not
care a fig for all the newspapers in the world; so he answered, "Welcome
to do what you please;" and, untying the boat, he soon crossed the
stream. Before allowing the stranger to enter the ferry, Gibson demanded
the money, which was given to him under the shape of five ten-dollar
notes, which he secured in his pocket, and then rowed with all
his might.

On arriving on the other side, the stranger led his horse out of the
boat, and while Gibson was stooping down to fix the chain, he gave him a
kick on the temple, which sent him reeling and senseless in his boat;
then taking back his own money, he sprung upon his saddle, and passing
before the cabin, he gently advised Gibson's wife to "go and see, for
her husband had hurt himself a little in rowing."

These extortions are so very frequent, and now so well known, that the
poorer classes of emigrants never apply for the ferries, but attempt the
passage just as they can, and when we call to mind that the hundreds of
cases which are known and spoken of must be but a fraction of those who
have disappeared without leaving behind the smallest clue of their
former existence and unhappy fate, the loss of human life within the
last four or five years must have been awful.

Besides the alligator and the cawana, there are in these rivers many
other destructive animals of a terrible appearance, such as the devil
jack diamond fish, the saw fish, the horn fish, and, above all, the much
dreaded gar. The first of these is often taken in summer in the lakes
and bayous, which, deprived of water for a season, are transformed into
pastures; these lakes, however, have always a channel or deeper part,
and there the devil jack diamond has been caught, weighing four hundred
pounds and upwards.

The saw fish is peculiar to the Mississippi and its tributaries, and
varies in length from four to eight feet. The horn fish is four feet
long, with a bony substance on his upper jaw, strong, curved, and one
foot long, which he employs to attack horses, oxen, and even alligators,
when pressed by hunger. But the gar fish is the most terrible among the
American ichthyology, and a Louisiana writer describes it in the
following manner:--

"Of the gar fish there are numerous varieties. The alligator gar is
sometimes ten feet long, and is voracious, fierce, and formidable, even
to the human species. Its dart in rapidity equals the flight of a bird;
its mouth is long, round, and pointed, thick set with sharp teeth; its
body is covered with scales so hard as to be impenetrable by a
rifle-bullet, and which, when dry, answers the purposes of a flint in
striking fire from steel; its weight is from fifty to four hundred
pounds, and its appearance is hideous; it is, in fact, the shark of
rivers, but more terrible than the shark of the sea, and is considered
far more formidable than the alligator himself."

It is, in fact, a most terrible animal. I have seen it more than once
seizing its prey, and dragging it down with the rapidity of an arrow.
One day while I was residing at Captain Finn's upon the Red River, I saw
one of these monsters enter a creek of transparent water. Following him
for curiosity, I soon perceived that he had not left the deep water
without an inducement, for just above me there was an alligator
devouring an otter.

As soon as the alligator perceived his formidable enemy, he thought of
nothing but escape to the shore; he dropped his prey and began to climb,
but he was too slow for the gar fish, who, with a single dart, closed
upon it with extended jaws, and seized it by the middle of the body. I
could see plainly through the transparent water, and yet I did not
perceive that the alligator made the least struggle to escape from the
deadly fangs; there was a hissing noise as that of shells and bones
crushed, and the gar fish left the creek with his victim in his jaws, so
nearly severed in two, that the head and tail were towing on each
side of him.

Besides these, the traveller through rivers and bayous has to fear many
other enemies of less note, and but little, if at all, known to
naturalists. Among these is the mud vampire, a kind of spider leech,
with sixteen short paws round a body of the form and size of the common
plate; the centre of the animal (which is black in any other part of the
body) has a dark vermilion round spot, from which dart a quantity of
black suckers, one inch and a half long, through which they extract the
blood of animals: and so rapid is the phlebotomy of this ugly reptile,
that though not weighing more than two ounces in its natural state, a
few minutes after it is stuck on, it will increase to the size of a
beaver hat, and weigh several pounds.

Thus leeched in a large stream, a horse will often faint before he can
reach the opposite shore, and he then becomes a prey to the gar fish; if
the stream is but small and the animal is not exhausted, he will run
madly to the shore and roll to get rid of his terrible blood-sucker,
which, however, will adhere to him, till one or the other of them dies
from exhaustion, or from repletion. In crossing the Eastern Texas
bayous, I used always to descend from my horse to look if the leeches
had stuck; the belly and the breast are the parts generally attacked,
and so tenacious are these mud vampires, that the only means of removing
them is to pass the blade of a knife under them and cut them off.

But let us leave these disgusting animals, and return to the upland
woods and prairies, where nature seems ever smiling, and where the
flowers, the birds, and harmless quadrupeds present to the eye a lively
and diversified spectacle. One of the prettiest _coups-d'oeil_ in the
world is to witness the gambols and amusements of a herd of horses, or a
flock of antelopes. No kitten is more playful than these beautiful
animals, when grazing undisturbed in the prairies; and yet those who,
like the Indian, have time and opportunity to investigate, will discover
vices in gregarious animals hitherto attributed solely to man.

It would appear that, even among animals, where there is a society,
there is a tyrant and paria. On board vessels, in a school, or any
where, if man is confined in space, there will always be some one
lording over the others, either by his mere brutal strength or by his
character; and, as a consequence, there is also another, who is spurned,
kicked, and beaten by his companions, a poor outcast, whom everybody
delights in insulting and trampling upon; it is the same among
gregarious brutes. Take a flock of buffaloes or horses, or of antelopes;
the first glance is always sufficient to detect the two contrasts. Two
of the animals will stand apart from the herd, one proudly looking
about, the other timid and cast down; and every minute some will leave
their grazing, go and show submission, and give a caress to the one, and
a kick or a bite to the other.

Such scenes I have often observed, and I have also witnessed the
consequence, which is, that the outcast eventually commits suicide,
another crime supposed to be practised only by reasoning creatures like
ourselves. I have seen horses, when tired of their prairie life, walk
round and round large trees, as if to ascertain the degree of hardness
required; they have then measured their distance, and darting with
furious speed against it, fractured their skull, and thus got rid of
life and oppression.

I remember a particular instance; it was at the settlement. I was yet a
boy, and during the hotter hours of the day, I used to take my books and
go with one of the missionaries to study near a torrent, under the cool
shade of a magnolia.¸

All the trees around us were filled with numerous republics of
squirrels, scampering and jumping from branch to branch, and, forgetful
of everything else, we would sometimes watch their sport for hours
together. Among them we had remarked one, who kept solitary between the
stems of an absynth shrub, not ten yards from our usual station. There
he would lie motionless for hours basking in the sun, till some other
squirrels would perceive him. Then they would jump upon him, biting and
scratching till they were tired, and the poor animal would offer no
resistance, and only give way to his grief by plaintive cries.

At this sight, the good padre did not lose the opportunity to inculcate
a lesson, and after he had finished speaking, he would strike his hands
together to terrify the assailants.

"Yes," observed I, using his own words, "it is nature."

"Alas! no," he would reply; "'tis too horrible to be nature; it is only
one of the numerous evils generated from society." The padre was a great
philosopher, and he was right.

One day, while we were watching this paria of a squirrel, we detected a
young one slowly creeping through the adjoining shrubs; he had in his
mouth a ripe fruit, a parcimon, if I remember right. At every moment he
would stop and look as if he were watched, just as if he feared
detection. At last he arrived near the paria, and deposited before him
his offering to misery and old age.

We watched this spectacle with feelings which I could not describe;
there was such a show of meek gratitude in the one and happiness in the
other, just as if he enjoyed his good action. They were, however,
perceived by the other squirrels, who sprang by dozens upon them; the
young one with two bounds escaped, the other submitted to his fate. I
rose, all the squirrels vanished except the victim; but that time,
contrary to his habits, he left the shrub and slowly advanced to the
bank of the river, and ascended a tree. A minute afterwards we observed
him at the very extremity of a branch projecting over the rapid waters,
and we heard his plaintive shriek. It was his farewell to life and
misery; he leaped into the middle of the current, which in a moment
carried him to the shallow water a little below.

In spite of his old age, the padre waded into the stream and rescued
the suicide. I took it home with me, fed it well, and in a short time
its hair had grown again thick and glossy. Although left quite free, the
poor animal never attempted to escape to the woods, and he had become so
tame, that every time I mounted my horse, he would jump upon me and
accompany me on my distant excursions. Eight or ten months afterwards he
was killed by a rattle-snake, who surprised him sleeping upon my
blanket, during one of our encampments.



THE END.





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