On the 22d, after a great deal of talk, and infinite quibbling on the part of the chief, we agreed with him for the ransom of our men. I had visited every lodge in the village and found but few of the young men, the greater part having gone on a fishing excursion; knowing, therefore, that the chief could not be supported by his warriors, I was resolved not be imposed upon, and as I knew where the firearms of the fugitives had been deposited, I would have them at all hazards; but we were obliged to give him all our blankets, amounting to eight, a brass kettle, a hatchet, a small pistol, much out of order, a powder-horn, and some rounds of ammunition: with these articles placed in a pile before him, we demanded the men’s clothing, the three fowling-pieces, and their canoe, which he had caused to be hidden in the woods. Nothing but our firmness compelled him to accept the articles offered in exchange; but at last, with great reluctance, he closed the bargain, and suffered us to depart in the evening with the prisoners and the property.
We all five (including the three deserters) embarked in the large canoe, leaving our Kreluit and his wife to follow in the other, and proceeded as far as the Cowlitzk, where we camped. The next day, we pursued our journey homeward, only stopping at the Kreluit village to get some provisions, and soon entered the group of islands which crowd the river above Gray’s bay. On one of these we stopped to amuse ourselves with shooting some ducks, and meanwhile a smart breeze springing up, we split open a double-rush mat (which had served as a bag), to make a sail, and having cut a forked sapling for a mast, shipped a few boulders to stay the foot of it, and spread our canvass to the wind. We soon arrived in sight of Gray’s bay, at a distance of fourteen or fifteen miles from our establishment. We had, notwithstanding, a long passage across, the river forming in this place, as I have before observed, a sort of lake, by the recession of its shores on either hand: but the wind was fair. We undertook, then, to cross, and quitted the island, to enter the broad, lake-like expanse, just as the sun was going down, hoping to reach Astoria in a couple of hours.
We were not long before we repented of our temerity: for in a short time the sky became overcast, the wind increased till it blew with violence, and meeting with the tide, caused the waves to rise prodigiously, which broke over our wretched canoe, and filled it with water. We lightened it as much as we could, by throwing overboard the little baggage we had left, and I set the men to baling with our remaining brass kettle. At last, after having been, for three hours, the sport of the raging billows, and threatened every instant with being swallowed up, we had the unexpected happiness of landing in a cove on the north shore of the river. Our first care was to thank the Almighty for having delivered us from so imminent a danger. Then, when we had secured the canoe, and groped our way to the forest, where we made, with branches of trees, a shelter against the wind—still continuing to blow with violence, and kindled a great fire to warm us and dry our clothes. That did not prevent us from shivering the rest of the night, even in congratulating ourselves on the happiness of setting our foot on shore at the moment when we began quite to despair of saving ourselves at all.