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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 384 pages of information about The Oregon Trail.
of an Indian can embrace the idea of an all-wise, all-powerful Spirit, the supreme Ruler of the universe, yet his mind will not always ascend into communion with a being that seems to him so vast, remote, and incomprehensible; and when danger threatens, when his hopes are broken, when the black wing of sorrow overshadows him, he is prone to turn for relief to some inferior agency, less removed from the ordinary scope of his faculties.  He has a guardian spirit, on whom he relies for succor and guidance.  To him all nature is instinct with mystic influence.  Among those mountains not a wild beast was prowling, a bird singing, or a leaf fluttering, that might not tend to direct his destiny or give warning of what was in store for him; and he watches the world of nature around him as the astrologer watches the stars.  So closely is he linked with it that his guardian spirit, no unsubstantial creation of the fancy, is usually embodied in the form of some living thing—­a bear, a wolf, an eagle, or a serpent; and Mene-Seela, as he gazed intently on the old pine tree, might believe it to inshrine the fancied guide and protector of his life.

Whatever was passing in the mind of the old man, it was no part of sense or of delicacy to disturb him.  Silently retracing my footsteps, I descended the glen until I came to a point where I could climb the steep precipices that shut it in, and gain the side of the mountain.  Looking up, I saw a tall peak rising among the woods.  Something impelled me to climb; I had not felt for many a day such strength and elasticity of limb.  An hour and a half of slow and often intermittent labor brought me to the very summit; and emerging from the dark shadows of the rocks and pines, I stepped forth into the light, and walking along the sunny verge of a precipice, seated myself on its extreme point.  Looking between the mountain peaks to the westward, the pale blue prairie was stretching to the farthest horizon like a serene and tranquil ocean.  The surrounding mountains were in themselves sufficiently striking and impressive, but this contrast gave redoubled effect to their stern features.

CHAPTER XIX

PASSAGE OF THE MOUNTAINS

When I took leave of Shaw at La Bonte’s Camp, I promised that I would meet him at Fort Laramie on the 1st of August.  That day, according to my reckoning, was now close at hand.  It was impossible, at best, to fulfill my engagement exactly, and my meeting with him must have been postponed until many days after the appointed time, had not the plans of the Indians very well coincided with my own.  They too, intended to pass the mountains and move toward the fort.  To do so at this point was impossible, because there was no opening; and in order to find a passage we were obliged to go twelve or fourteen miles southward.  Late in the afternoon the camp got in motion, defiling back through the mountains along the same narrow passage by which they had entered. 

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