The Oregon Trail: sketches of prairie and Rocky-Mountain life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 384 pages of information about The Oregon Trail.

Henry left her to the care of her relatives, and came immediately with Shaw to the camp.  It was some time before he entirely recovered from his dejection.

CHAPTER XI

SCENES AT THE CAMP

Reynal heard guns fired one day, at the distance of a mile or two from the camp.  He grew nervous instantly.  Visions of Crow war parties began to haunt his imagination; and when we returned (for we were all absent), he renewed his complaints about being left alone with the Canadians and the squaw.  The day after, the cause of the alarm appeared.  Four trappers, one called Moran, another Saraphin, and the others nicknamed “Rouleau” and “Jean Gras,” came to our camp and joined us.  They it was who fired the guns and disturbed the dreams of our confederate Reynal.  They soon encamped by our side.  Their rifles, dingy and battered with hard service, rested with ours against the old tree; their strong rude saddles, their buffalo robes, their traps, and the few rough and simple articles of their traveling equipment, were piled near our tent.  Their mountain horses were turned to graze in the meadow among our own; and the men themselves, no less rough and hardy, used to lie half the day in the shade of our tree lolling on the grass, lazily smoking, and telling stories of their adventures; and I defy the annals of chivalry to furnish the record of a life more wild and perilous than that of a Rocky Mountain trapper.

With this efficient re-enforcement the agitation of Reynal’s nerves subsided.  He began to conceive a sort of attachment to our old camping ground; yet it was time to change our quarters, since remaining too long on one spot must lead to certain unpleasant results not to be borne with unless in a case of dire necessity.  The grass no longer presented a smooth surface of turf; it was trampled into mud and clay.  So we removed to another old tree, larger yet, that grew by the river side at a furlong’s distance.  Its trunk was full six feet in diameter; on one side it was marked by a party of Indians with various inexplicable hieroglyphics, commemorating some warlike enterprise, and aloft among the branches were the remains of a scaffolding, where dead bodies had once been deposited, after the Indian manner.

“There comes Bull-Bear,” said Henry Chatillon, as we sat on the grass at dinner.  Looking up, we saw several horsemen coming over the neighboring hill, and in a moment four stately young men rode up and dismounted.  One of them was Bull-Bear, or Mahto-Tatonka, a compound name which he inherited from his father, the most powerful chief in the Ogallalla band.  One of his brothers and two other young men accompanied him.  We shook hands with the visitors, and when we had finished our meal—­for this is the orthodox manner of entertaining Indians, even the best of them—­we handed to each a tin cup of coffee and a biscuit, at which they ejaculated from the bottom of their throats, “How! how!” a monosyllable by which an Indian contrives to express half the emotions that he is susceptible of.  Then we lighted the pipe, and passed it to them as they squatted on the ground.

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The Oregon Trail: sketches of prairie and Rocky-Mountain life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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