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.

After Weekes had related his adventures, three parties were despatched to beat up the coast in search of the unfortunate islander.  They returned at night without success, though they had used the utmost diligence.  On the following day the search was resumed, and the poor fellow was at length discovered lying beneath a group of rocks, his legs swollen, his feet torn and bloody from walking through bushes and briars, and himself half-dead with cold, hunger, and fatigue.  Weekes and this islander were the only survivors of the crew of the jolly-boat, and no trace was ever discovered of Fox and his party.  Thus eight men were lost on the first approach to the coast; a commencement that cast a gloom over the spirits of the whole party, and was regarded by some of the superstitious as an omen that boded no good to the enterprise.

Towards night the Sandwich Islanders went on shore, to bury the body of their unfortunate countryman who had perished in the boat.  On arriving at the place where it had been left, they dug a grave in the sand, in which they deposited the corpse, with a biscuit under one of the arms, some lard under the chin, and a small quantity of tobacco, as provisions for its journey in the land of spirits.  Having covered the body with sand and flints, they kneeled along the grave in a double row, with their faces turned to the east, while one who officiated as a priest sprinkled them with water from a hat.  In so doing he recited a kind of prayer or invocation, to which, at intervals, the others made responses.  Such were the simple rites performed by these poor savages at the grave of their comrade on the shores of a strange land; and when these were done, they rose and returned in silence to the ship, without once casting a look behind.

CHAPTER VIII.

     Mouth of the Columbia.—­The Native Tribes.—­Their Fishing.—­
     Their Canoes.—­Bold Navigators—­Equestrian Indians and
     Piscatory Indians, Difference in Their Physical
     Organization.—­Search for a Trading Site.—­Expedition of
     M’Dougal and David Stuart-Comcomly, the One-Eyed Chieftain.—­
     Influence of Wealth in Savage Life.—­Slavery Among the
     Natives.-An Aristocracy of Flatheads.-Hospitality Among the
     Chinooks—­Comcomly’s Daughter.—­Her Conquest.

The Columbia, or Oregon, for the distance of thirty or forty miles from its entrance into the sea, is, properly speaking, a mere estuary, indented by deep bays so as to vary from three to seven miles in width; and is rendered extremely intricate and dangerous by shoals reaching nearly from shore to shore, on which, at times, the winds and currents produce foaming and tumultuous breakers.  The mouth of the river proper is but about half a mile wide, formed by the contracting shores of the estuary.  The entrance from the sea, as we have already observed, is bounded on the south side by a flat sandy spit of land, stretching

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