On the 14th, in the morning, we killed a wild goose, and toward midday, collected some flag-root and choux-gras, a wild herb, which we boiled with the small game: we did not forget to throw into the pot the little tallow we had left, and made a delicious repast. Toward the decline of day, we had the good luck to kill a buffalo.
On the 15th, MM. Clarke and Decoigne having landed during our course, to hunt, returned presently with the agreeable intelligence that they had killed three buffaloes. We immediately encamped, and sent the greater part of the men to cut up the meat and jerk it. This operation lasted till the next evening, and we set forward again in the canoes on the 17th, with about six hundred pounds of meat half cured. The same evening we perceived from our camp several herds of buffaloes, but did not give chase, thinking we had enough meat to take us to the next post.
The river Saskatchawine flows over a bed composed of sand and marl, which contributes not a little to diminish the purity and transparency of its waters, which, like those of the Missouri, are turbid and whitish. Except for that it is one of the prettiest rivers in the world. The banks are perfectly charming, and offer in many places a scene the fairest, the most smiling, and the best diversified that can be seen or imagined: hills in varied forms, crowned with superb groves; valleys agreeably embrowned, at evening and morning, by the prolonged shadow of the hills, and of the woods which adorn them; herds of light-limbed antelopes, and heavy colossal buffalo—the former bounding along the slopes of the hills, the latter trampling under their heavy feet the verdure of the plains; all these champaign beauties reflected and doubled as it were, by the waters of the river; the melodious and varied song of a thousand birds, perched on the tree-tops; the refreshing breath of the zephyrs; the serenity of the sky; the purity and salubrity of the air; all, in a word, pours contentment and joy into the soul of the enchanted spectator. It is above all in the morning, when the sun is rising, and in the evening when he is setting, that the spectacle is really ravishing. I could not detach my regards from that superb picture, till the nascent obscurity had obliterated its perfection. Then, to the sweet pleasure that I had tasted, succeeded a triste, not to say, a sombre, melancholy. How comes it to pass, I said to myself, that so beautiful a country is not inhabited by human creatures? The songs, the hymns, the prayers, of the laborer and the artisan, shall they never be heard in these fine plains? Wherefore, while in Europe, and above all in England, so many thousands of men do not possess as their own an inch of ground, and cultivate the soil of their country for proprietors who scarcely leave them whereon to support existence;—wherefore—do so many millions of acres of apparently fat and fertile land, remain uncultivated and absolutely useless?