Besides being an orator, Shah-co-pee is a beggar, and one of a high order too, for he will neither take offence nor a refusal. Tell him one day that you will not give him pork and flour, and on the next he returns, nothing daunted, shaking hands, and asking for pork and flour. He always gains his point, for you are obliged to give in order to get rid of him. He will take up his quarters at the Interpreter’s, and come down upon you every day for a week just at meal time—and as he is always blessed with a ferocious appetite, it is much better to capitulate, come to terms by giving him what he wants, and let him go. And after he has once started, ten to one if he does not come back to say he wants to shoot and bring you some ducks; you must give him powder and shot to enable him to do so. That will probably be the last of it.
It was a beautiful morning in June when we left Fort Snelling to go on a pleasure party up the St. Peters, in a steamboat, the first that had ever ascended that river. There were many drawbacks in the commencement, as there always are on such occasions. The morning was rather cool, thought some, and as they hesitated about going, of course their toilets were delayed to the last moment. And when all were fairly in the boat, wood was yet to be found. Then something was the matter with one of the wheels—and the mothers were almost sorry they had consented to come; while the children, frantic with joy, were in danger of being drowned every moment, by the energetic movements they made near the sides of the boat, by way of indicating their satisfaction at the state of things.
In the cabin, extensive preparations were making in case the excursion brought on a good appetite. Everybody contributed loaf upon loaf of bread and cake; pies, coffee and sugar; cold meats of every description; with milk and cream in bottles. Now and then, one of these was broken or upset, by way of adding to the confusion, which was already intolerable.
Champaigne and old Cogniac were brought by the young gentlemen, only for fear the ladies should be sea-sick; or, perhaps, in case the gentlemen should think it positively necessary to drink the ladies’ health.
When we thought all was ready, there was still another delay. Shah-co-pee and two of his warriors were seen coming down the hill, the chief making an animated appeal to some one on board the boat; and as he reached the shore he gave us to understand that his business was concluded, and that he would like to go with us. But it was very evident that he considered his company a favor.
The bright sun brought warmth, and we sat on the upper deck admiring the beautiful shores of the St. Peter’s. Not a creature was to be seen for some distance on the banks, and the birds as they flew over our heads seemed to be the fit and only inhabitants of such a region.