The first two men belonged to a party who had just come from California with a large band of horses, which they had disposed of at Bent’s Fort. Munroe, the taller of the two, was from Iowa. He was an excellent fellow, open, warm-hearted and intelligent. Jim Gurney, the short man, was a Boston sailor, who had come in a trading vessel to California, and taken the fancy to return across the continent. The journey had already made him an expert “mountain man,” and he presented the extraordinary phenomenon of a sailor who understood how to manage a horse. The third of our visitors named Ellis, was a Missourian, who had come out with a party of Oregon emigrants, but having got as far as Bridge’s Fort, he had fallen home-sick, or as Jim averred, love-sick—and Ellis was just the man to be balked in a love adventure. He thought proper to join the California men and return homeward in their company.
They now requested that they might unite with our party, and make the journey to the settlements in company with us. We readily assented, for we liked the appearance of the first two men, and were very glad to gain so efficient a re-enforcement. We told them to meet us on the next evening at a spot on the river side, about six miles below the fort. Having smoked a pipe together, our new allies left us, and we lay down to sleep.
TETE ROUGE, THE VOLUNTEER
The next morning, having directed Delorier to repair with his cart to the place of meeting, we came again to the fort to make some arrangements for the journey. After completing these we sat down under a sort of perch, to smoke with some Cheyenne Indians whom we found there. In a few minutes we saw an extraordinary little figure approach us in a military dress. He had a small, round countenance, garnished about the eyes with the kind of wrinkles commonly known as crow’s feet and surrounded by an abundant crop of red curls, with a little cap resting on the top of them. Altogether, he had the look of a man more conversant with mint juleps and oyster suppers than with the hardships of prairie service. He came up to us and entreated that we would take him home to the settlements, saying that unless he went with us he should have to stay all winter at the fort. We liked our petitioner’s appearance so little that we excused ourselves from complying with his request. At this he begged us so hard to take pity on him, looked so disconsolate, and told so lamentable a story that at last we consented, though not without many misgivings.
The rugged Anglo-Saxon of our new recruit’s real name proved utterly unmanageable on the lips of our French attendants, and Henry Chatillon, after various abortive attempts to pronounce it, one day coolly christened him Tete Rouge, in honor of his red curls. He had at different times been clerk of a Mississippi steamboat, and agent in a trading establishment at Nauvoo, besides filling various other capacities, in all of which he had seen much more of “life” than was good for him. In the spring, thinking that a summer’s campaign would be an agreeable recreation, he had joined a company of St. Louis volunteers.