He always insisted, however, that he made the best bargain for Mr. Astor that circumstances would permit; the frigate being hourly expected, in which case the whole property of that gentleman would be liable to capture. That the return of Mr. Hunt was problematical; the frigate intending to cruise along the coast for two years, and clear it of all American vessels. He moreover averred, and M’Tavish corroborated his averment by certificate, that he proposed an arrangement to that gentleman, by which the furs were to be sent to Canton, and sold there at Mr. Astor’s risk, and for his account; but the proposition was not acceded to.
Notwithstanding all his representations, several of the persons present at the transaction, and acquainted with the whole course of the affair, and among the number Mr. M’Kenzie himself, his occasional coadjutor, remained firm in the belief that he had acted a hollow part. Neither did he succeed in exculpating himself to Mr. Astor; that gentleman declaring, in a letter written some time afterwards, to Mr. Hunt, that he considered the property virtually given away. “Had our place and our property,” he adds, “been fairly captured, I should have preferred it; I should not feel as if I were disgraced.”
All these may be unmerited suspicions; but it certainly is a circumstance strongly corroborative of them, that Mr. M’Dougal, shortly after concluding this agreement, became a member of the Northwest Company, and received a share productive of a handsome income.
* Not quite $40,000 were allowed for furs worth upwards of $100,000. Beaver was valued at two dollars per skin, though worth five dollars. Land otter at fifty cents, though worth five dollars. Sea-otter at twelve dollars, worth from forty- five to sixty dollars; and for several kinds of furs nothing was allowed. Moreover, the goods and merchandise for the Indian trade ought to have brought three times the amount for which they were sold.
The following estimate has been made of the articles on hand, and the prices:
17,705 lbs. beaver parchment,
valued at $2.00 worth $5.00
465 old coat beaver, valued at 1.66 worth 3.50
907 land otter, valued
at.50 worth 5.00
68 sea-otter, valued at 12.00 worth 45 to 60.00
30 sea-otter, valued at 5.00 worth 25.00
Nothing was allowed for 179 mink skins, worth each.40 22 raccoon, worth each.40 28 lynx, worth each 2.00 18 fox, worth each 1.00 106 fox, worth each 1.50 71 black bear, worth each 4.00 16 grizzly bear, worth each 10.00
Arrival of a Strange Sail.—Agitation at Astoria.—Warlike Offer of Comcomly.—Astoria Taken Possession of by the British.—Indignation of Comcomly at the Conduct of His Son- in-Law.
On the morning of the 30th of November, a sail was descried doubling Cape Disappointment. It came to anchor in Baker’s Bay, and proved to be a ship of war. Of what nation? was now the anxious inquiry. If English, why did it come alone? where was the merchant vessel that was to have accompanied it? If American, what was to become of the newly acquired possession of the Northwest Company?