« AnteriorContinuar »
serve the motions of the two objects, and could perceive that one gained ground considerably on the other; we continued to doubt as to their being men until just before losing sight of them in the twilight we could discern that the one behind dragged a sledge. Nothing more could be done until the morning, as it would have been impossible to have found their track in the dark ; observing, on our return, a shovel in a bank of snow, we suspected that venison had been dug out, and in searching about found a fine heart and Įiver, which afforded a good supper for the party, whom we did not rejoin until dark; one-third of the men were in succession under arms, during the night, which proved cold and restless to all,
24th, Wind N.E. and intensely cold. Having refreshed purselves with breakfast and a dram to each, at 4 A. M, commenced our march along the east shore of the lake with
last view of the two natives, we fell in with a quantity of venison in carcasses and quarters, close to which was a path into the wood. Conjecturing that the habitations of the Indians were not far off, we advanced in and found the remains of one; the party complained much of the cold, and occasionally sheltered themselves under the lee of projecting points. It now became necessary to cross the pond in order to gain the track of the sledge we had seen; this exposed us entirely to the bitterness of the morning, and all complained of excessive cold. With the first glimpse of morn we reached the wished-for track, which ļed us along the western shore to the north east, up to a point, on which stood an old wigwam; from thence it struck across for the shore we had left. As the day opened it was requisite to push forward with celerity to prevent being seen and to surprise the natives, if possible, while asleep, Canoes were soon descried, and shortly after wigwams, two close to each other, and a third about a hundred yards from the former. Having examined the arms, and charged my men to be prompt in executing such orders as might be given, at the same time I strictly ordered them to avoid every impropriety, and to be especially guarded in their behaviour towards the women. The bank was now ascended with great alacrity and silence; the party being formed into three divisions, the three wigwams were at once secured; we called to the people within, but received no answer; the skins which covered the entrance were then removed, and we beheld groups of men, women, and children lying in the utmost consternation; they remained absolutely for some minutes without motion or utterance. My first object was now to remove their fears and inspire confidence in us, which was soon accomplished by our shaking hands and shewing every friendly disposition. The women very soon began to embrace me for my attention to their children; from the utmost state of alarm they soon became curious, and examined our dress with great attention and surprise. They kindled a fire and presented us with venison steaks, and fat run into a solid cake, which they used with lean meat. Every thing promised the utmost cordiality ; knives, handkerchiefs, and other little articles were presented to them, and in return they offered us skins. I had to regret our utter ignorance of their language, and that the presents were at the distance of at least twelve miles. The want of these occasioned me much embarrassment; I used every endeavour to make them understand my great desire that some of them should accompany us to the place where our baggage was, and assist in bringing up such things as we wore; which at last they seemed perfectly to comprehend. We had spent three hours and a half in conciliatory endeavours, and every appearance of the greatest amity subsisted between us ; and considering a longer delay useless, without possessing the means of convincing them further of our friendship, we indicated our intention of setting out and speedily returning, on which four of them signified that they would accompany us. James Butler, Corporal, and Thomas Bouthland, private of marines, re,
quested to be left behind in order to repair their snow shoes ; and such was the confidence placed by my people in the natives that most of the party wished to be the individuals to remain among them. I was induced to comply with the first request from a motive of shewing the natives a mutual confidence, and cautioning them to observe the utmost regularity. .
Having myself again shaken hands with all the natives, and expressed, in the best way I could, my intention to be with them the following morning, we set out; and they expressed their satisfaction by signs on seeing that two of us were going to remain with them. On reaching the river head, two of the Indians struck off into our last night's resting-place; one of them I considered to be their chief; finding nothing here he directed two of the four to continue on with us; they proceeded with cheerfulness, though at times they seemed to mistrust us. The banks of the river being narrow and winding occasioned, at times, a considerable distance between me and the Indians, and one of them, having loitered behind, took the opportunity on our doubling a point to run off with great speed, calling out to his comrade to follow. This incident I considered to be unfortunate, as we were now nearly in sight of our party with the baggage. I thought it not improbable but that he might have seen the smoke and taken the alarm. Certainly no one act of any of my people could have given rise to any such conduct; he had, however, evidently some suspicions, as he had frequently come up, looked steadily in my face as if to read my intentions. I had been most scrupulous in avoiding every action and gesture that might cause the least distrust. In order to try the disposition of the remaining Indian he was made to understand that he was at liberty to go if he chose, but he shewed not the least wish of this kind.
At 3 P. M. we joined the rest of our party, when the Indian seemed to be startled on seeing so many more men;, but this was but of momentary duration, for he soon be
came pleased with all he saw; I made him a few presents, and shewed him the articles which were to be taken up for his countrymen, consisting of blankets, woollen wrappers, and shirts, beads, hatchets, knives, and tin-pots, thread, and fish-hooks, with which he appeared much satisfied, and regaled himself with tea and broiled venison, for we brought down two haunches with us in the evening. A pair of trowsers and vamps being made out of a blanket, and a Alannel shirt being presented to him, he put them on withi sensible pleasure, carefully avoiding any indecency; being under no restraint, he occasionally went out, and he expressed a strong desire for canvass, pointing to a studding sail which covered us in on one side ; and he lay down by me during the night. Still my mind was somewhat disturbed lest the native Indians, on the retum of their comrade that had deserted us, might be induced, from his misrepresentation and from fear, to have quitted their wigwams to observe our motions; but I was willing to suppress my alarm for the safety of our men left with them, judging that they would not be inclined to commit any violence, particularly until they should see whether we returned and brought back their companion ; I was moreover satisfied that the conduct of my men would not give occasion for animosity.
25th. Wind N.N.E. and boisterous, with sleet; set out, leaving only eight of the party behind. On coming up to the river-head, we observed the tracks of three men crossing the frozen lake in a direction for the other side of the river; the violence of the wind with the sleet and drift snow rendered it laborious to get on, and the air was so thick at times that the party could frequently not discern each other, although at no great distance. When we had reached within half-a-mile of the wigwams, the Indian, who walked sometimes on before and at other times by my side, pointed out an arrow sticking in the ice; we also perceived the recent track of a sledge. At 2 P. M. we arrived at the wigwams, when my apprehensions were unfortunately verified; they were left in a state of confusion, and little remaining in them but some deer skins. A quantity of venison packs had been conveyed a little way off and deposited in the snow; a path led into the wood, but only to a short distance. Per=" ceiving no marks of violence to have been committed, I hoped that my former conjectures would be realized and that all would yet be well; the actions of the Indian, howa ever, were indicative of extreme perplexity, and not to be described. Having directed the fire to be removed from the wigwams, we now proceeded into one more commodious; but on one of our people taking up a brand to light the fire, the Indian appeared terrified to the last degree, and used his utmost endeavours to prevent its being carried out; either apprehending that we were going to destroy the wigwams and canoes (of which latter there were six), or that a fire was going to be kindled for his destruction. For some ". time he anxiously peeped through the crevices to see what was doing, for he was now no longer at liberty but a prisoner. Perplexed how to act, and the evening drawing on, anxiety for the two marines determined me to let the Indian go, trusting that his appearance and recital of our behaviour would not only be the means of our men's liberation, but also that the natives would return with a favourable impression. Giving him therefore several articles, I endeavoured to make him understand that I wished his party to return, and by signs intimated a hope that our people would not be ill-treated; he smiled and remained by us; he put the wigwams in order, and several times looked to the west side of the pond and pointed. Each wigwam had a quantity of deer's leg-bones ranged on poles in all three hundred); having used the marrow of some of those opposite that we occupied, the Indian replaced them with an equal number rom one of the others, signifying that those were his; hé, pointed out a staff and shewed that it belonged to the person that wore the high cap, the same that I had taken to be the chief; the length of this badge was nearly six feet, and it was stained of a red colour.