Astoria, or, anecdotes of an enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 479 pages of information about Astoria, or, anecdotes of an enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains.

While on this theme we will add another anecdote of an adventure with a grizzly bear, told of John Day, the Kentucky hunter, but which happened at a different period of the expedition.  Day was hunting in company with one of the clerks of the company, a lively youngster, who was a great favorite with the veteran, but whose vivacity he had continually to keep in check.  They were in search of deer, when suddenly a huge grizzly bear emerged from a thicket about thirty yards distant, rearing himself upon his hind legs with a terrific growl, and displaying a hideous array of teeth and claws.  The rifle of the young man was leveled in an instant, but John Day’s iron hand was as quickly upon his arm.  “Be quiet, boy! be quiet!” exclaimed the hunter between his clenched teeth, and without turning his eyes from the bear.  They remained motionless.  The monster regarded them for a time, then, lowering himself on his fore paws, slowly withdrew.  He had not gone many paces, before he again returned, reared himself on his hind legs, and repeated his menace.  Day’s hand was still on the arm of his young companion; he again pressed it hard, and kept repeating between his teeth, “Quiet, boy!—­keep quiet!—­keep quiet!”—­though the latter had not made a move since his first prohibition.  The bear again lowered himself on all fours, retreated some twenty yards further, and again turned, reared, showed his teeth, and growled.  This third menace was too much for the game spirit of John Day.  “By Jove!” exclaimed he, “I can stand this no longer,” and in an instant a ball from his rifle whizzed into his foe.  The wound was not mortal; but, luckily, it dismayed instead of enraged the animal, and he retreated into the thicket.

Day’s companion reproached him for not practicing the caution which he enjoined upon others.  “Why, boy,” replied the veteran, “caution is caution, but one must not put up with too much, even from a bear.  Would you have me suffer myself to be bullied all day by a varmint?”

CHAPTER XXVII.

     Indian Trail.—­Rough Mountain Travelling.—­Sufferings From
     Hunger and Thirst—­Powder River.—­Game in Abundance.-A
     Hunter’s Paradise.—­Mountain Peak Seen at a Great Distance.—­
     One of the Bighorn Chain.—­Rocky Mountains.—­Extent.—­
     Appearance.—­Height.-The Great American Desert.—­Various
     Characteristics of the Mountains.—­Indian Superstitions
     Concerning Them.—­Land of Souls.—­Towns of the Free and
     Generous Spirits—­Happy Hunting Grounds.

For the two following days, the travellers pursued a westerly course for thirty-four miles along a ridge of country dividing the tributary waters of the Missouri and the Yellowstone.  As landmarks they guided themselves by the summits of the far distant mountains, which they supposed to belong to the Bighorn chain.  They were gradually rising into a higher temperature, for the weather was cold for the season, with a sharp frost in the night, and ice of an eighth of an inch in thickness.

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Astoria, or, anecdotes of an enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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