The morning of the 24th brought with it a clear sky, but no abatement in the violence of the wind, till toward evening, when we again embarked, and arrived with our deserters at the establishment, where they never expected to see us again. Some Indians who had followed us in a canoe, up to the moment when we undertook the passage across the evening before, had followed the southern shore, and making the portage of the isthmus of Tongue Point, had happily arrived at Astoria. These natives, not doubting that we were lost, so reported us to Mr. M’Dougal; accordingly that gentleman was equally overjoyed and astonished at beholding us safely landed, which procured, not only for us, but for the culprits, our companions, a cordial and hearty reception.
Departure of Mr. R. Stuart for the Interior.—Occupations at Astoria.—Arrival of Messrs. Donald M’Kenzie and Robert M’Lellan.—Account of their Journey.—Arrival of Mr. Wilson P. Hunt.
The natives having given us to understand that beaver was very abundant in the country watered by the Willamet, Mr. R. Stuart procured a guide, and set out, on the 5th of December, accompanied by Messrs. Pillet and M’Gillis and a few of the men, to ascend that river and ascertain whether or no it would be advisable to establish a trading-post on its banks. Mr. R. Bruguier accompanied them to follow his pursuits as a trapper.
The season at which we expected the return of the Tonquin was now past, and we began to regard as too probable the report of the Indians of Gray’s Harbor. We still flattered ourselves, notwithstanding, with the hope that perhaps that vessel had sailed for the East Indies, without touching at Astoria; but this was at most a conjecture.
The 25th, Christmas-day, passed very agreeably: we treated the men, on that day, with the best the establishment afforded. Although that was no great affair, they seemed well satisfied; for they had been restricted, during the last few months, to a very meagre diet, living, as one may say, on sun-dried fish. On the 27th, the schooner having returned from her second voyage up the river, we dismantled her, and laid her up for the winter at the entrance of a small creek.
The weather, which had been raining, almost without interruption, from the beginning of October, cleared up on the evening of the 31st; and the 1st January, 1812, brought us a clear and serene sky. We proclaimed the new year with a discharge of artillery. A small allowance of spirits was served to the men, and the day passed in gayety, every one amusing himself as well as he could.