On making inquiries at several of the tents, they were treated in a very cavalier sort of manner. No one, of course, knew anything about their horses and packs, and one big bony American even threatened to put a rifle-ball into them unless they left his shanty. This was rather too much for them to swallow quietly, so they rated the fellow in round terms; but he very coolly reached his rifle down from a shelf above him, and told them that he would give them time to consider whether they would move off or not while he examined his flint, and if they were not gone by that time, he would make a hole in each of their skulls, one after the other. Finding that he was coolly preparing to carry out his threat, they made their exit, and found some ten or twelve people gathered together outside. From one of them Lacosse learnt that this man had shot two people since he had fixed himself at this spot, and that he was a terror to most of the miners in the camp. It appears to have been no uncommon thing among them for a man to settle a quarrel by severely disabling his adversary. There were several people at work down by the river, with their arms in slings, who had received serious injuries in quarrels with some of their fellows.
They thought it best to escape from such a state of things with as little delay as possible, and immediately mounted their horses and pursued their journey. That night they took good care to encamp far enough off from any of the gold-finding fraternity.
It was now our turn to explain to Lacosse the reason of our return to the settlements, and the unfortunate circumstances that had led to it. Ho was disappointed enough at the intelligence. He said that he should go on to the fort and collect his baggage together, and would, if possible, join Don Luis, Bradley, and McPhail at Sutter’s, and see whether any plan could be arranged on for recovering our stolen treasure. The trapper was to accompany him, and it was agreed that either Bradley or McPhail should await their arrival at Sutter’s Fort.
We resumed our journey, and at sundown fixed our tent at the bottom of a steep hollow, and supped off the moderate rations we had brought with us from the camp. The night was quite frosty, and when I awoke in the morning, my limbs were numbed with cold. We prepared our coffee, and partook of our slight breakfast, then, saddling the horses, resumed our march. It was late in the evening when we reached the rude shanty to which poor Malcolm had been conveyed a couple of days since. It was an anxious moment to me; but I was gratified to find that he had so far recovered from the injuries he had sustained as to be able to sit up and to take some little nourishment. He told me that beyond the severe bruises with which his body was covered, and a wound in the fleshy part of his leg, he did not think he was otherwise injured. Throughout the whole of yesterday he had experienced the most violent pains in his head; but a comfortable sleep into which he had fallen last night had, to all appearances, entirely deprived him of them. He was troubled though, he told me, with a sickening sensation, which made him loathe anything in the shape of food. I at once prescribed such remedies as I thought necessary to be applied immediately, and left him in charge of his kind nurse until the morning.