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Three years' hunting and trapping in America and the great North-west Turner-Turner, J. 1888

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Array  THE LIBRARY

THE UNIVERSITY OF
BRITISH COLUMBIA
Gift from the estate of
Henry Genie Ward       Three Years' Hunting and Trapping
IN
America and the Great North-West.
BY
J.   TURNER-TURNER.
BsMratrir
TO    HIS    WIFE,    HIS    CONSTANT    COMPANION    DURING    THESE    TRAVELS.
ILLUSTRATED   BY
CONSTANCE    HOARE
MACLURE    &    Co.,
QUEEN    VICTORIA    STREET,    LONDON,    E.C.
1888. 
MACLURE   &   CO.,
QUEEN    VICTORIA   STREET,  B.C Introduction,
WOULD you anticipate the reading of thrilling adventures, or hairbreadth escapes, it is not in these pages you must seek them, indeed,
the author almost doubts whether, if in the absence of such scenes of
excitement as usually render a book of interest, he was justified in compiling
the following, dealing as it does solely with stern and unromantic facts,
in the narration of which the imagination has been curtailed from running
riot.
That the casual reader will feel on closing this volume that he has been
more than slightly interested is beyond the most sanguine hopes of the
author, whose main object is in some degree to remove from the paths of
those sufficiently persevering to wade through his experiences, the many
pitfalls, disappointments, and inevitable failures which waylay the hunter
who seeks for sport in fresh countries. At the same time, the author has
endeavoured, by the addition of such little events and incidents as appeared
to him likely to prove entertaining, to minimise to a certain degree the
monotony of sameness so characteristic of the long winters in a trapper's
life; should he by so doing have added yet another failure to his already
somewhat lengthy list, he craves the reader's pardon for several wasted
hours, and as the only reparation in his power, he offers experiences such
as have seldom, if ever, been procured except by professional trappers.  INDEX
PART   I.
CHAPTER   I.
We start for Virginia—The American Customs—We reach Liberty	
CHAPTER   II.
We hanker after Sport and are forced to collect Woodpeckers—A Driving Tour—A Turkey
Hunt—I buy a Horse —A Day's Fishing in James River	
CHAPTER   III.
Preparations for the Great Hunt—The Start—A Lively Night—The Hunt—We remove to
the Daggar Springs and continue Hunting—L. has a Flare Up -
CHAPTER   IV.
I join another Hunting Party—A Miserably Cold Night —We return to Liberty—A Day's
Game Shooting—Virginians     .--.--....-
CHAPTER   V.
Baltimore—Shooting on the Chesapeake Bay     -
CHAPTER   VI.
We Embark on the Celtic—A Breakdown—A Month at Sea—Another Hunt in Prospect    -
PAGES
i
PART    II.
CHAPTER   I.
En route for the Big Horn Mountains—Shipping Cartridges—Checking Baggage, and
Breaking it—Cashing English Bank Notes—A Day's Fishing on Bear Lake, St.
Paul's—An Overturned Engine—Prairie Dogs—We meet Uncle Billie, and fall in
with some Indians—Some Grand Fishing on Tongue River—A Stormy Night—How
the Indians on the Reservations are Defrauded by the Government Agents—I
purchase three Horses	
CHAPTER   II.
, The Pleasures of Packing—We set out on a Wild Goose Chase, and are bothered by
Indians—I change Horses	
CHAPTER   III.
Uncle Billie loses his Way, and we strike game—Quantities of Wapiti—My first Grizzly —
L. gets a Shot—I lose all our Money ... . .
CHAPTER   IV.
Uncle Billie and I fall out—I lose Myself—We run 'out of Flour—I lose my Horse—Am
Charged by a Wapiti	
CHAPTER   V.
We Scare two Buffaloes—A Falling Star—L. Wounds a Wapiti—A Fatal Accident—Bob
Stewart shows us a Short Cut—I discover where to find Mule Deer—A piece of
Luck—Lakes Teeming with small Trout	
CHAPTER   VI.
Antelope—We leave the Mountains, and reach the Ranche—We bid adieu to our Outfit—
We arrive at Powder River Crossing where we make the Acquaintance of Cow Boys
—We take the Stage for Rock Creek—A little Shooting en route—List of Trophies—
What can be procured in the Big Horn—A word on certain Food and Drinks of
America—An American Pastime—Home	
13
J4
*7
24
26
3i
35
39 VI
PART    III.
=-
CHAPTER   I.
En route to British Columbia—Inconvenience of taking through Tickets—We reach
Victoria where Fred creates a Diversion—We meet Mr. Duncan—We Embark for
the North in the Boscowitz, and soon experience what really wet weather is
CHAPTER   II.
We arrive at Metlakahtla, and are interviewed by two Devotees of the Church Missionary
Society - ------------
CHAPTER   III.
We give up our proposed trip into Alaska, and proceed up the Skeena—Fred discovers a
Wild Beast—B. kills his first Goat—Some Indians dispute our right to Hunt—We
arrive on the Hunting Ground—The Dangers of this class of Hunting
CHAPTER   IV.
We discover a crowd of Bears—An Involuntary Bath—The difficulty of getting over the
Country—Suggestions for a Hunting Trip up the Skeena—We Start for the Coast
and Surprise a Bear—We are compelled to return to Metlakahtla for a fresh Crew—
We make another Start—A pair of Kidnapping Ravens	
CHAPTER   V.
We sight the Boscowitz and return to Metlakahtla—A Few Remarks on the Rocky Mountain Goat and Bears—The Scenery of North America—We take passage in the
Boscowitz for Naniamo —Adieu to B. for ever   --------
CHAPTER  VI.
We determine to spend the Summer in Burrard Inlet—Churches for the Indians and Villas
for the Missionaries—We Camp at Naniamo, where some Indian Dogs steal our pots
and plates.—We start for Burrard Inlet in our canoe, and fix our Camp opposite the
Ruins of Vancouver—Peculiarities of the Tide in the Inlet—The Fshing—Indian
mode of Spearing Ling—Vancouver—We make an Acquaintance—How Humming
Birds are attracted—We Trap some Racoons   --------
CHAPTER   VII.    •
Flooded by the Tide—An Indian Robs our Larder—Our Winter Programme—We do the
Regatta in style—At Metlakahtla we start Goat Hunting	
CHAPTER   VIII.
A Lucky Day—A Seal Hunt       -       -  ....
CHAPTER   IX.
Delayed a Month at Metlakahtla—We start for Kishpyox—Hundreds of Dead Salmon
CHAPTER   X.
We reach the Forks of the Skeena River, and are ordered by the Indians to return to the
Coast—We strike a Rock close to Kishpyox—We are compelled to beat a retreat
and return to the Forks, where we build our Shanty—Are Persecuted by the
Indians—Indian Characteristics       -----..__.
CHAPTER   XI.
Starving Dogs—The Eyesight of Indians—Feasting	
CHAPTER   XII.
Inauguration of Medicine Man—More Indian Customs and Vices—Indian Women—How
to treat Indians	
PAGES
43
46
48
55
i>7
63
66
70
75
80
83
W*e- Vll
CHAPTER   XIII. pages
Indian modes of Burial—Christian Indians—Unsuccessful Caribou Hunts—Attacked by an
Eagle—Whiskey Jacks      - ---        ---8g
CHAPTER   XIV.
A Peculiar Condition in Mortally Wounded Animals—North American Grouse—An Hour
by the Margin of a Lake --g4
CHAPTER   XV.
The Progress of Missionaries -------       g^
CHAPTER   XVI.
A Caribou Hunt—Another failure—A Grizzly Bear Hunt—Saved by a Twig—L. has a
talk with an Indian   -----       I00
CHAPTER   XVII.
We start for Babine, and fix up our Camp on the Lake—We Fish —We start for Fort St.
James—The Babine Indians—Across the Portage 107
CHAPTER   XVIII.
Stewart's Lake—Fcrt   St.  James—Mosquitoes—Fishing in Stewart's  River—Suspended
Animation in Fish—Bush Fires ----------      II2
CHAPTER   XIX.
The mysterious disappearance and migration of certain animals—Ruffed Grouse -       -      116
CHAPTER   XX.
We are forced to give up the Peace River Expedition—Uncle Tom    -----      lzg
CHAPTER   XXI.
We start for Fort George—Down Stewart's River—At Fort George—Up the Frazer River—
We Hunt up Bear River—The Big Canon -       - ng
CHAPTER   XXII.
We reach   our Winter's Quarters—An  Evening Stroll—House-building—L.  goes   Bear
Hunting—My Bear Snare - 123
CHAPTER   XXIII.
Our Provisions Arrive—A Passing Visit—Our Visitors show me the Pass over the Grizzly
Bear Mountain       12g
CHAPTER   XXIV.
Beaver Trapping — A poor prospect of Big Game—Miners ......      j^g
CHAPTER   XXV.
We commence regular Trapping—All Small Game disappear—Quantities   of Caribou—
A Ghost-like Battle  --       1^
CHAPTER   XXVI.
Hard Weather—Our Mail Arrives—Fred as a Sportsman—An Eventful Day      -       -        -      138
CHAPTER    XXVII.
The Daily Programme—How to Dress       ------- .       .      ^1
CHAPTER   XXVIII.
L.'s Jay—Where do the Birds go in hard Weather?—The Cat loses itself—A prolonged
Thaw—L. has good Sport ------ 143
CHAPTER   XXIX.
Mythical Charms of British Columbia—A fruitless run after Caribou—L. indulges in a Stern
Chase—Reduced to eating Vermin    • ... j.q Vlll
CHAPTER   XXX. pages
I find some Meat—Two Indians arrive —Otters—Signs of the Spring—Trapped Animals
gnawing off their Legs—Good Trapping results 149
CHAPTER   XXXI.
Skunks —The Indians pass on their Spring Hunt—We do a little Trading—The Advent of
wild Fowl 153
CHAPTER   XXXII.
The River breaks up—Beaver Trapping—Unfrozen Water -------      156
CHAPTER   XXXIII. .
Where to get a good^Bear Skin—Our total Bag—We leave our Home, and lose the Cat—
Down the Fraser—We reach Fort George 158
CHAPTER   XXXIV.
A Match for a Beaver Skin - Our last River Journey—A Narrow Escape—Land Slides       -      162
CHAPTER   XXXV.
We reach Quesnelle—On the Stage—Suggestions for a Shooting Party—The Slaughter of
Big Game ---------------      165
INDEX    TO    APPENDIX.
POISONING      -       -       - -       - -        - -        -        -       - 169
A SPORTSMAN'S  OUTFIT   -        -       -       - - -        -       -       - 170
CAMP OUTFIT        -----  I?3
HOW   TO  PROCURE HUNTERS AND  SERVANTS        -.-... I75
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS -   - I75
SKINNING ANIMALS AND  HEADS  - ........ I?7
WHEN  TO  SHOOT  DEER AS  TROPHIES  180
SHOOTING ------ 181
FOXES       - -   l82 MAP   SHEWING   AUTHOR'S    ROUTE.
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CHAPTER I.
' PHE desire of sport in the way of big game shooting, long smouldering within me,
was finally fanned into a fierce flame by the sudden appearance of an old
schoolfellow from America, who had come to England for a few weeks to transact some
business. It was many years since I had seen him, and the account of his progress
in Virginia was far from encouraging. He appeared to have suffered many ups and
downs, principally the latter, but his description of the fine sport to be had in the
mountains close to where he lived, finally secured a promise from me to come with
my wife (who will hereafter be denoted by the letter L.) and spend several
months with him in the small town of Liberty, Virginia, from whence he promised
me all the big game shooting I could desire; and I really believe that, being no
sportsman himself, he thought he was speaking the truth, and that all he had been
told respecting a country crowded with bears and deer were facts. Anyway, in
September '83, off we started, L. and myself, with every available contrivance
for the destruction of large animals. We crossed the Atlantic in the City of Rome,
one of the most luxurious of liners. Doubtless it was a charming voyage for those
who prefer water to land, though to me it never conveys any particular sense of
pleasure, and I look upon it as eight or ten days thoroughly wasted—however, we
finally arrived in New York where troubles began. To make a candid confession, and
putting it in the mildest possible form, I am no admirer of the lower class Americans.
When extracting information from one, I found it necessary to divide in my mind, all
he told me into four parts ; three of these I rejected as utterly false, and by treating
the remaining quarter with a certain degree of distrust, I arrived as near the facts of
the case as possible. Their proud boast of grand equality is utter trash—no such
thing exists, and its imaginary existence by the palpably lower orders, who never could
elevate themselves under any conditions, breeds in them a species of insolence, to me
intolerable ; nor are they satisfied with being as good as their neighbours, but
consider themselves vastly superior to them. We reached the docks late in the.
evening, too late to get off with our baggage, and were therefore compelled to carry
away all we required for the night and return next day for the remainder. L. had
put up, among other things, a pair of silver backed brushes which had been in use for
over a year, and could under no pretence have been mistaken for new ; however, an
insolent and overbearing Custom House officer declined, in a most offensive manner,
to pass these, which he seized and detained, thereby necessitating our return to the g
\F
ship to procure others, causing us much delay and inconvenience ; nor could this man
have legally refused to pass us—the whole proceeding was, we afterwards discovered,
simply an attempt to force the usual tip. In respect to bribery, the conduct of the
New York Custom House officers is a disgrace to the country, in proof of
which statement I will quote our experiences during the three landings we have made
in New York. I returned for my baggage next day, armed with the necessary
passport, in the form of a $5 bill, which I handed to the man appointed to examine
our things. He informed me he was sorry I had been troubled the night before, but
that had it been he who had waited on me, he should have made no difficulty, I
conclude after:having received the $5, anyway he now made a pretense of opening
one trunk, passing everything else regardless of what it contained.
The following year we again found ourselves in the presence of the New York
Custom House officers ; being forewarned I presented a $5 bill though I had nothing
on which to pay duty, but wished to avoid the delay of making a declaration to
the effect that my guns were for my own use, and the saddle second hand. The man
declined the bill, saying, " Not now, I will call at your hotel. Which is it ?" I replied,
I Hoffman House." He asked, | How much are you going to give me ? " I told
him $5. He said, "There is a saddle, you must give me $5 more." He then
claimed another $ 10 for the guns to which I agreed, and he passed everything
unopened, appearing at the hotel in the evening to be paid his exorbitant demand
of $ 20.
I now come to our last landing. This time being decidedly poorer, and possibly
wiser, I determined to give no tip whatever, and let the officers search our baggage
to the bottom if they felt so inclined ; besides, we were away for two years and had
plenty of time. I therefore made the necessary declaration about guns, and informed the man told off to examine our things, that we had nothing dutiable. He
finally, I think, opened one box, marking all the remainder as free, after which, he
continually hung about us in a disagreeable manner as though he wanted something.
Presently, what was my surprise when his superior walked up to me, saying, I This
man expects something." I asked, " How much, and for what ? " He replied,
I Oh, half-a-sovereign or so, he has marked all your things without opening them."
I said, I He was perfectly welcome to open them," to which he replied, 1 Well,
you had better give him something to get rid of him ; he is a mean little fellow,"
and with this he strolled off. I suppose if we ever wanted to be passed again, and
were recognised, we might kick our heels for hours unattended, but I think these
three examples show the disgraceful state of affairs existing at the New York Custom
House.
The first thing that struck us on entering the town of New York was the abominable state of the stone pavement in certain thoroughfares, where holes, varying from
one to three feet in diameter, and from one to two feet deep, were plentiful. The
next objects very trying to a tolerably accurate eye, were the huge wooden telegraph
poles, wriggling up like great serpents all along the streets. Once, finding ourselves
in New York on a Sunday, we were agreeably surprised at the bright cheerful look of
the principal streets when compared with ours in England. This, we discovered,
was due to the majority of the shop windows being free from those melancholy and
dismal looking shutters, which make one feel when walking in London on a Sunday,
as though half the population were dead, and the remainder fever stricken.
JBn*-' After remaining a day in New York we started on our proposed visit to Liberty.
How many days the journey occupied I have forgotten, but I distinctly remember
that as we neared our destination the pace became slower and slower, until at length,
in sheer desperation, we felt inclined to get out and walk to the next depot. However,
we arrived at last, and were most kindly welcomed by my friend and his wife, who
fully carried out the Virginian boast of hospitality. Our host soon informed us that
he had arranged for a hunting party of about eight to accompany me to the Dagger
Springs for a fortnight's hunt, where we should have fine sport, but we saw little
anxiety displayed by anyone to further the matter.
CHAPTER   II.
HP HE climate was decidedly warm in Virginia, I found it affected my Schultz
powder, a considerable supply of which I had brought with me, to such an
extent that it became so powerful, I dared no longer use it. I should remark that
in those days this powder had not been brought to the excellent state of perfection
of the present date.
At length the time began to hang rather heavily, and the proposed hunt appeared
no nearer than it had done some weeks before. I sought in vain for sport. L. and I
drove some miles off to a small river where they told us the trout simply jostled
one another out of the water : we fished every likely looking eddy and ripple for
hours without a rise, at length I gave it up, and took to wandering up and down the
bank peering into each fishy looking spot, in the vain endeavour to see a trout, but not
even a minnow was in sight; presently I came on an old nigger fishing with an
enormous hook on the end of a piece of cord, and a stone for a sinker, the bait being
a scarcely perceptible bit of worm somewhere on the hook ; he told me he had
never caught a fish there, and I was not much surprised. We put up our rods,
hitched in the horse, and drove home disgusted, nor were we less so on being
informed a few days later that the stream had never held a fish of any description.
The game season not having yet commenced, and most of the summer birds having
migrated, in order to occupy my time, I was reduced to making a collection of
woodpeckers, there being a greater variety of these than any other birds. Their
plumage was as yet imperfect; and of all objectionable and tedious little birds to skin
I think woodpeckers are the worst, being so constructed that their heads will seldom
pull through their necks, consequently the brains, eyes, etc., have to be extracted
through the mouth, or by an opening in the skin at the back of the head ; but no
other employment being at hand, I made a fairly good collection of these, securing
several specimens of the giant woodpecker, all of which have been lying in the
naturalist's studio ever since. Our Host now took us for a driving tour of four days
to see the natural bridge, a quaint freak of nature, the illustration of which is from a
photograph.
B 2 ^
THE   NATURAL  BRIDGE,   VIRGINIA. I have since seen a description, wherein it is quoted as the second wonder of
America, Niagara being the first. Though I fear, not having previously read this
account, we failed to thoroughly appreciate its magnificence. I think a jolting tour
would have been a more appropriate designation of our trip, for of rough roads in
general, those of Virginia beat any I have ever travelled over. They were originally
made by the gun carriages during the war, and have never been repaired since ; when
one portion of a road becomes quite impassable, the driver simply turns to one side,
constructing a fresh way for himself.
It is a remarkable peculiarity in a Virginian, that he never repairs his harness or
buggy with anything stronger than a piece of string; the result being that
something is always falling off or giving way, in which case more string is applied ;
this was frequently demonstrated during our drive. We put up at an hotel on James
River for the first night. How the proprietor busied himself by feeling the texture of
our clothes, examining and enquiring the price of nearly every article upon us ; there
was no false modesty about Virginians, at least in this respect. We had previously
been formally introduced to him, and the customary hand-shaking accomplished—
what an abominable American practice this is ! Every man you have to do with
considers it incumbent upon him to shake you warmly by the hand. I constantly
found myself on the first opportunity wiping mine down my clothes, after coming in
contact with a more than usually warm or dirty specimen. Our host next joined us
at supper in company with his daughter, a young woman much powdered and frizzled,
and giving herself considerable airs; her time, we thought, would have been far more
profitably spent in the kitchen, where, if instead of frizzling her hair, she had prevented
the cook from frizzling the pieces of old cow, or scarcely dead chicken, into stuff like
leather, Virginian fashion, our jaws would have been saved much labour. We never
have tasted a properly cooked piece of meat in Virginia, or any other part of America,
except in first-class hotels. We were luxuriously accommodated with a bedroom to
ourselves, so were the others at first, but, at the last moment the proprietor popped a
few strangers into theirs. I said we had a room to ourselves, but I am not quite sure
we did not share it with the outside public, for there were spaces two feet long and
several inches wide between the logs in several places ; the completion of such
details would be considered superfluous in the eyes of a Virginian architect. Basins
here were very scarce ; when we had done with ours we placed it outside the door, and
it went the rounds.
Next day, before proceeding on our journey, we heard such glowing accounts of the
Bass fishing, that we determined to return sometime and spend a few days on the
river ; during that day's drive a couple of wild turkeys flew up out of the road, one
of which, after a bit of a climb, I succeeded in bagging. In the afternoon we reached
the object of our excursion, did the natural bridge in correct tourist style, slept at the
hotel there, and started on our return journey the following day by a different route.
Towards evening we stopped at a log hut in the mountains, and hearing that turkeys
were abundant in the vicinity, our host agreed not to start again until the afternoon
of the following day, in order that I might spend the morning in a turkey hunt,
immediately after breakfast I started up the mountain on which the turkeys were to
be found, and I shortly succeeded in killing two, though had I had cartridges specially
loaded with large shot, instead of number seven, I should have done much better.
Turkey shooting is by no means to be despised, nor are they easy birds to stalk, being gag
■MM
very shy and watchful; though, if you hide behind a bush and call them by
squeaking up a pinion-bone of their dead comrade's wing, they may be fooled to any
extent, and will come strutting up to you. On this occasion, I walked right into a brood
of about eight, most of which flew up all round me. I killed one over my head, and it
took me an hour to find him, though he was quite dead and lay within twenty yards.
Another fell dead some way off, a third I fired at on the ground at fifteen yards
distance, and he flew away, the fourth I took a pot-shot at on a tree—with a similar
result. I could presently hear some of the remainder calling in different directions, but
was unable to obtain another shot at them. On reaching the summit of the mountain,
having deposited my spoil where I could find it again, I managed to knock over what
the Virginians call a pheasant, the correct name of which is ruffed grouse ; but in
America, and especially Virginia, it appears to me that they rarely lose an opportunity of calling everything by its wrong name, and I often think they must have
searched the dictionary through to hunt up the most inconvenient words wherewith
to express themselves. After killing the grouse, I found on consulting my watch
that it was high time to return, and immediately started off with that intention, only,
I unfortunately got down the wrong side of the mountain upon which the sun
seldom shone, rendering the moss-covered rocks' exceedingly slippery; off one of
these I finally fell, cutting my hand rather seriously. After being lost for some
time I decided that the best course was to get away from the mountain and walk
round, it until I reached the place I originally started from. This spot I finally
discovered, and by the time I had again climbed a considerable portion of the
mountain to fetch the turkeys it was getting late ; but we were enabled to start in
time to reach home that day, and I shortly afterwards discovered that a wild turkey
was about the best bird I ever ate. I omitted to mention that in the early stage of
my visit, in order to facilitate hunting, I had purchased a horse, which investment
necessitated a further outlay in a bridle and saddle ; at least it was a contrivance as
much like a saddle as they make them in Virginia, with huge wooden stirrups and a
hump in front, the object of which I was never able to discover, though with pain I
realised its inconvenience on more than one occasion.
I was not particular what kind of a horse I had, provided he could go and was
not white or grey, but the only animal for sale at all suited to my purpose was of
course nearly white and conspicuous for miles ; however, I became his owner at the
pretty high figure of forty-five pounds. A more unsuitable beast for hunting than
he turned out could not well have been procured. He was hopelessly gun-shy;
a shot half a mile off gave him fits, while with a rifle in hand it was no easy matter
to mount him. I seldom left him hitched up anywhere but that on my return I was
nearly sure to find nothing but his broken bridle, with which I had to tramp back,
only to discover that he had arrived at his stables before me. When I left I gave
him away, a ready purchaser not being forthcoming, though his former owner, being
much grieved at parting with him " as he was quite a pet in the family," had made
a point of stating his intention of repurchasing his favourite when I departed.
L. and I next started off for a few days' fishing in James River: the excellent
accounts we had heard of it when staying in the hotel the week before had made us
very keen on bass-fishing. We engaged the same airy room we had occupied
on the previous occasion. A man and boat were procured, and we did no end of
fishing, but without obtaining a single rise ; they said it was very odd, but that there must be something the matter with the water. We ought, therefore, to come
again a bit later. We finally gave up fly-fishing and tried a worm, resulting in the
capture of three perch weighing a few ounces each ; after a couple more hours,
during which time nothing was caught, we tired of this sport and rowed about after
ducks, one of which we killed ; but in trying to retrieve it I succeeded in providing
myself with an involuntary bath by sliding into the river. On the third day we
returned to Liberty with a very poor opinion of the James River bass-fishing.
In the evenings I used to go out shooting what they called bats ; Night Jars we
term them in England, and I never saw them figuring on a menu there, but the
Virginians considered them excellent eating. They literally appeared in swarms
just before sunset, and seemed to afford ample sport for the local sportsmen, who
were unable to hit anything else. Large yellow larks were plentiful in certain fields;
they are about the size of a thrush, good eating, and difficult shooting, generally
rising thirty yards off, and flying straight and swift, much resembling the European
quail when on the wing.
m J
CHAPTER   III.
'T'HERE was considerable talk just now respecting the proposed hunt.    Our host,
who intended joining us for a few  days with B—, a farm pupil of his, was
ready, but somehow the remaining eight did not appear to be very ardent sportsmen.
Accommodation had been arranged for at a farmhouse near the Springs, and the day
was settled for the start.    I had previously been to see the trophies collected by a man
who had taken  many hunting trips into the same district as that to which we were
bound.    During conversation on the one absorbing topic, he suggested that I might
like to see the skin of a bear he had shot there.    I said, " Yes, immensely," upon
which he retired to fetch it, and shortly returned holding up with evident pride the
shattered remains of a miserable little second year's cub, literally riddled with shot.
This was, as far as I could ascertain, the only result of his hunting.
B. had of late been very busily engaged in equipping himself for the chase. He
had bought a lovely brown canvas coat, a cartridge belt and hunting knife, a
magnificent new double-barrelled breach-loading gun, remarkably cheap, and a
revolver. The long-looked-for day at last arrived, and we made a successful start;
the other eight having all backed out of it with one exception, and he said he would
join us later on. I had proposed taking L., but as they had an idea in Liberty
that a woman was too precious and fragile to be allowed outside the yard gate (they ""3I5WS82
called their gardens yards, and I'm not sure that it was not the most appropriate
term), they so opposed the proposal as being utterly impossible and even dangerous,
that she was ultimately left behind. It was a two days ride to the Springs, and
putting up the first night in a small town we did not arrive until late on the following
evening; two of our horses with sore backs, thanks to the construction of
Virginian saddles, which, in spite of the thickest saddle cloths, seldom fail to
produce this result. After considerable difficulty we discovered the house where
rooms had been prepared, the intense darkness making it almost impossible to distinguish anything off the main roadway. Needless to state, having been in the saddle
from early morning, we were fairly hungry and anxiously awaited supper, but great
was the disappointment, on my part any way, when they placed before each of us
one tiny slice of fried bacon with a very limited supply of bread and tea, in fact, just
about enough to make you thoroughly realise how hungry you still were after having
finished it, but we got nothing more; so having started a pipe, I commenced to
question one of the family who was to help drive the deer and provide some of the
dogs for us, as to what sport we were likely to enjoy on the morrow,
his replies were so cheering and satisfactory that I soon forgot I had
not supped, and began to long for daybreak, though I was eventually destined
to long for it far more ardently ere it appeared. He told me that without doubt,
unless I missed them, I should kill four or five deer, and that I might expect equally
good sport every day I went out, in vain I said I only wanted good heads, he assured
me that they shot everything there, including does and fawns, and indeed there was
one of the latter in the house at that moment, but it had been killed on the railway
track with stones. By the time we had finished smoking, the night being considerably advanced, we requested to be shown our bedrooms and were promptly led
upstairs and ushered into one little room with two small beds in it. We asked for
the other rooms and our guide replied that there were no more unoccupied, and this
was what they considered ample accommodation for eleven people. My host took it
for granted that I would share his bed, but as I felt little inclination to sleep with
any man I proposed that we should go odd man out who should take the floor, we
accordingly tossed, the floor falling to my lot. Therefore, borrowing some blankets and
a mattress from the other beds, I should have been exceedingly comfortable there
had I not located myself just over some very horrible smell, from whence it came I
could not tell, but I soon had other matters to attend to, being attacked apparently by
hundreds of fleas. I never was so terribly mauled in my life. The other two were
snoring lustily, but I was gratified to see that they were not enjoying a peaceful
slumber. They kept turning over and over, something was evidently annoying
them intensely, but so tired were they with the long ride as to be incapable of
arousing themselves. They were being eaten, I felt sure of it, and this somewhat
consoled me for my own sufferings. I lay meditating whether I could stand this
state of affairs much longer, when something occurred which decided me to get up
and dress, it was only a large rat, and it only walked over my bed, but it quite
dispelled any doubts previously entertained as to whether I would remain lying there or
no. So hurriedly dressing, I spent the remainder of the night sitting in a straight-backed
chair, gazing into the bright moonlight hour after hour until dawn appeared, when I
discovered that the horrible smell I had noticed proceeded from a large rats' hole
close to the head of my bed.    On waking my companions I perceived that so far as appearances went they were in a far worse plight than I being literally covered with
bites on faces and hands.   On comparing notes, all agreed that that should be the last
night we would spend in so densely populated a house, our resolve being doubly
confirmed by the discovery that some niggers had been previously turned out of the
room to accommodate us.    After a very meagre breakfast, no way superior to the
supper of the night before, we started for the hunt, the party consisting of our three
selves, a collection of dogs of every variety of breed, all mongrels, but designated as
big or fine-mouthed according to the description of noise they made, and two men
carrying guns who were to work the dogs and drive the deer past us.    After a few
miles walk we reached the hunting ground and were carefully posted in the most
likely spots.    B., who was now described as the man with the pistol, owing to his
only weapon being a revolver, for the cheap gun had already commenced to moult,
the right hammer having fallen off, no amount of tinkering could induce it to stick on
again, he was therefore placed in such a position behind a rock as to render his
weapon of service.    My host and self were stationed on elevated ridges, commanding a large tract of country, here we sat hour after hour, our ears and rifles cocked,
eyes staring and heads working round like owls, not knowing in what direction the
game would appear, I might as well, however, have made up for my want of sleep on
the previous night, for nothing but woodpeckers and an occasional tomtit put in an
appearance,   until   at  length  the   drivers   approached   saying  the  deer must have
gone another way, but my impression rs, that having placed us, they went home
again, calmly returning to relieve us after their dinner.    Later in the day, whilst on
the look out for some sort of shelter, we fell in with an Englishman who had been
spending the summer with his family at the Daggers Springs close by, where he said
we should be most comfortable.    The hotel had not yet permanently closed for the
winter, though all the summer guests had departed, in fact they agreed to remain
open as long as we stayed ;  I therefore sent a message telling L. to join us, which
she did in a few days.    After several hunts, during which no one but the driver saw
anything, we were joined by the only member of all the eight enthusiasts from
Liberty who put in an appearance, his presence seemed at once to change the luck,
though not for our benefit, on the first and only day he hunted, for he returned home
immediately afterwards, two Virginian deer, both bucks, came trotting up to him,
and stood ten yards from where he was posted, one he killed, the other he missed,
though how he managed to let it escape while handling a gun heavily charged with
buckshot, I cannot conceive.   I never knew a Virginian sportsman hunt with anything
except a gun loaded with shot, and no matter how close his game may approach he
rarely does it any serious injury.    After a few more unsuccessful days my host and
the man  with the pistol left us.     L.,   our English friend,  and myself daily continued to hunt, ever with the same ill luck, starting soon after daybreak, and seldom
returning before dusk, generally riding many miles to the various likely localities.
Sometimes we thought we heard the dogs running a deer, but, if so, it never came
our wav, our friend who had hunted throughout the summer considered himseh
lucky in having killed one little doe during that period, but never a glimpse of
anything larger than a squirrel served to revive our now rapidly decreasing ardour,
until at the termination of about three weeks, when returning home from our stands,
the long sought animal galloped past L. and myself; neither of us were prepared for so
unexpected an event, but rapidly unslinging my rifle I managed to get a snap shot 10
at the retreating deer, of which little was then visible save its long, white tail
flickering through the timber, the only result of my hurried aim was that L. had to
walk the rest of the way home, for she knowing the peculiarity of my horse which she
was riding, on seeing me unsling my rifle quickly slid off, while the animal, on
hearing the report, never waited for her to remount, but betook himself to his
stables. Only one other deer did we see during the seven weeks we spent in those
mountains, it was under the following unexpected circumstances : We were dining at
the hotel when someone brought the news that a deer was being hunted by some
dogs, we all hurriedly seized our rifles and ran to the spot—at least, I did—and
thoroughly exhausted, I arrived where I had heard the dogs giving tongue at about
the same moment that the deer, nearly done, trotted past the others who had quietly
remained outside the hotel, affording me the extreme satisfaction of seeing them
blazing away straight in my direction, while their bullets going wide of the deer,
were still further distant from me, and when I eventually reached the spot the poor
beast, a three-year-old buck, was being done to death with rocks in a ditch. Another
time our driver started three bears, someone had a shot with the usual result. One
day on returning from turkey hunting, I noticed that something unusual had
occurred in our hut, which consisted of one log room away from the hotel; on
enquiring of L. what was the matter, she replied that having heard me complain that
my powder had got damp she thought she might as well dry it, and had, therefore,
emptied two one-pound canisters on to a piece of paper in front of a large wood fire,
and was sitting over it with two pounds more on her lap, when just as the brilliant
idea that sparks are calculated to ignite powder flashed through her mind, the notion
was most unpleasantly exemplified by all that on the ground exploding—doing, however, no serious damage beyond the loss of a few eye-lashes and some front hair; had
it not fortunately been Schultz powder, I should have been minus the greater part of
my outfit.
CHAPTER IV.
T WAS shortly invited to join a hunting party of about thirteen, the scene of
operations being a day's journey distant, all seemed, from former experience,
most sanguine of a week's good sport. The party assembled in due course on the
appointed day, at a spot some fifteen miles from the springs; nor was I much taken
with the general appearance of my sporting companions, with one or two exceptions,
they were a rough lot, including among them a recently released criminal; one
known as | Old Man Kerr," was a nice old fellow and quite a character, dressed in
black cloth, with a conical shaped wideawake hat, an
evening dress coat and waistcoat, no moustache, and a
nanny goat beard. He usually spent his leisure moments
squatting on his heels, while whittling a stick with a large
jack knife, presenting a perfect picture of the ordinary
Yankee caricature. Another, the head of a large tobacco
firm, did not impress me with much respect, probably
owing to the little I appeared to inspire in him, for he
invariably alluded to me as the | blarsted Britisher."    The
«*T* II
first night brought me little comfort among my sleeping companions, the two tents
were uncomfortably crowded, eight in one and five in another; I was destined to
sleep among the majority, but being given the choice of position, I selected an outside
place. My immediate neighbour had a bad toothache which he tried to cure by
eating raw onions—an onion being a vegetable I cannot even stand when I have
eaten it myself. The man next to him chewed in his sleep, and when awake, spat
over his head on to the wall of the tent; last of all, Old Man Kerr not feeling well,
took an over dose of medicine, under these circumstances I was not sorry when
someone called out " daybreak, get up ;" in fact, to find that the night had passed so
quickly was a pleasant surprise; but the first to look at his watch discovered it to
be twelve o'clock with the moon just rising, finally day broke at the usual time, and
after a hurried breakfast off lumps of rancid fat bacon, someone having kindly
saddled my horse for me, off we started to take up our stands, each of my
companions protested that he did not care where he stood, at the same
time striving to obtain the best place. After an hour's ride, I hitched up
my horse, and was conducted to a spot where I was informed I held
an excellent position, there I waited all day on the tip-toe of expectation, when
finally being confident that my opportunity for a shot had at last arrived I was
disgusted to find that what I had mistaken for a deer, was one of our party who had
come to inform me that it was all over, no one had seen anything. On seeking my
horse no where could he be found, I was just beginning to fear I had forgotten
where I had left him, when I discovered his saddle on the ground, and the broken
bridle hanging from the limb to which I had fastened it, he who had so ohligingly
saddled my beast had buckled the girth to the stirrup leather, the opportunity was
too great to be missed by so acrobatically inclined an animal, which had evidently
jumped through the girths, broken the bridle in a new place, and trotted back to
camp, where I disconsolately followed, bearing what should have been his burden,
but fully resolved that never again should he cause me another such unpremeditated
tramp, in future a stout cord round his neck effectually secured him, with the option
of peaceably remaining where he was left, or certain strangulation in the event of
his trying to escape, nor would it have caused me much grief to have discovered
him in the latter predicament.
Next evening brought an addition to the party, and our tent being the largest, he
was invited to sleep there, but not seeing how I could exist if jammed any flatter
than I had been the night before, especially as the new comer was remarkably wide,
I elected to sleep outside. Unfortunately I had taken only one blanket with me, but
the deficiency in this respect was overcome by the great confidence I placed in an
india-rubber bag lined with thick flannel, made expressly for someone as little
experienced in such matters as myself. After placing everything I possessed upon
and around me, I was with help shaken into the bag, and laid down perfectly
helpless. That night the thermometer registered unusually low, the india-rubber
froze stiff, and all the air for yards round appeared to blow down the bag which had
been placed head to wind, while to add to my trouble one of the men came reeling
out of the tent exceedingly drunk; a considerable supply of whisky having been
brought by certain sportsmen. This individual owing to the darkness barely saved
himself from sprawling over me, in spite of my entreaties that he would go the other
way, for I dared not move my arms out of the bag for fear of being unable to replace 12
them again; up to then that was the worst night I had ever spent, I slept not a
wink, being almost frozen, while the bag seemed to act as a refrigerator, causing
me frequently to long for a glimpse of its inventor acquiring a similar experience in
his own freezing machine. The remainder of the week passed in much the same
manner as the first day, except that the additional visitor having left, I took to the
tent again. One of our party got a shot and missed. Old Man Kerr was the only
one possessing a rifle, a truly formidable weapon to all appearance, being a single
barrelled muzzle loader, the barrel of which was some sixteen inches in excess of
the longest I had ever previously come across, the whole contrivance must have
weighed about twenty pounds. He lost a fine opportunity of missing a deer, but gave
us a very good reason for not being quite ready at the immediate time of its
appearance.
Being now heartily sick of the whole business, I discovered that important
matters necessitated my return to the Springs. The total bag up to the day I left
was one fox, I consider the driving of deer with dogs most undesirable and
uninteresting, especially at that season when deer take to the water, and are
unmercifully slaughtered, thereby affording no kind of sport, besides which, when
such a mode of hunting is carried on to any extent, the inevitable result must be
to drive them out of the country so disturbed.
I have little doubt that had I followed my own inclination and taken to stalking, or
still hunting as it is termed in America, I should have bagged several specimens,
especially with the aid of a little snow, but such a process appeared unheard of in
this country. After this final effort I looked upon Virginian hunting with any
prospect of success as a farce. After arranging to pay our friends at the Springs a
visit in Baltimore, from whence I was promised some good wild fowl shooting on
the Chesapeake Bay, we returned to Liberty. I fear we could scarcely conceal our
disappointment from our Host, who was much disturbed at our having determined
to leave in a few days, but my last expedition had thoroughly convinced me of the
folly of any longer seeking even average sport in those parts,- and I felt annoyed
with myself for having wasted nearly three months without securing a single head
of the most graceful deer of America. The only approach to sport I experienced at
all was while turkey hunting, though I deemed a trip to Virginia rather too
prolonged a journey for the poor satisfaction of crawling after a few gobblers.
During the interval before our departure I participated in a day's game shooting
with two local sportsmen. The partridges, as they call them, and the rabbits, which
would be more correctly termed hares, were by no means plentiful, nor was this to
be wondered at in a place where every nigger carried a gun.
Our bag consisted of about eight partridges and five or six rabbits, but I don't
fancy either of my companions touched feather or fur throughout the day. I only
once during my stay saw and killed a woodcock, it was a remarkably small variety,
being no more than half the size of our English bird.
I cannot help smiling when I picture myself packing up the trophies collected
during those three months' hunting, one wild cat, three foxes-, one racoon, one pair
of deer's antlers, two points, killed with rocks, and sundry small birds, the latter being
our only contribution. With such results, terminated the hunt to which I had so looked
forward, and from which I had anticipated the most glorious of sport, and I doubt
much if a more disappointed mortal ever laid aside his rifle.     During my visit I- 13
tasted three new dishes: Opossum, which I did not care for, grey Squirrels I thought
good, and Night-jars decidedly bad.
The people of Virginia and their surroundings appeared to us some fifty years
behind the age, though to have hinted at such an undesirable condition would
doubtless have. given dire offence; yet on every hand we were struck with
their marvellous backwardness ; it seemed as though every novel improvement had
extended over half a century in the course of filtering into the country. There seemed,
too, a widely spread anxiety, especially on the part of the women, to proclaim themselves of old families and good breeding; no delicacy was employed in bringing
about a suitable topic, wherewith to lead up to so rash an announcement, it usually
took the form of a statement during the first quarter of an hour's acquaintance, and
how jealous and naturally suspicious these aspirants became—and what had not that
war of twenty years before to answer for—what a godsend, too, it now proved to
them—what abler scapegoat could be found, every calamity—real or imaginary—was
heaped upon its broad shoulders. A Virginian, if deprived of his war would, I believe,
be overwhelmed by the weight of his personal afflictions ; what proud, joyous, careless
beings they appeared to have been "befo' the war;" yet I often wondered if most of
those whom I saw were not considerably better off in 1883 than they or their forefathers had ever been twenty years previously. I trust, should these notes ever find
their way into the hands of our Virginian friends, they will not think us ungrateful.
I simply write that which impressed itself on our minds, and we shall ever remember
with pleasure the many kindnesses and hospitalities we received during our visit, and
we also freely forgive them for accusing us of speaking with an English accent, an
accomplishment we felt rather proud of than otherwise.
CHAPTER  V.
TI7E now proceeded to spend a fortnight with our Baltimore friends, with whom
we passed a most enjoyable time, L. being entertained with dinners and
dances nearly every night. The people we found charming, and indeed it was
difficult to imagine them Americans, with manners and speech so English, though one
elderly man, at a dinner party one night, rather alarmed me for the safety of his reason
by appearing in an evening dress-coat and waistcoat, dark grey trousers, and a
sailor-knot tie ; nor does stiff punch at an evening reception, though very excellent,
quite meet with one's English notions of a light and refreshing draught in place of
claret-cup. I was only destined to take part in one dinner, and missed the other
festivities, being away most of the time far more suitably occupied in duck-shooting on
the Chesapeake Bay, where the sport was arranged in the following fashion :—A club
existed consisting, of course, of a limited number of members, who occupied a certain
stretch of the shore, where a comfortable house was built, and a man installed who
attended to and cooked for the members, and most excellent eating these ducks were,
owing, I believe, to sea-celery contributing largely to their food. Each member was
allowed to take one friend to shoot with him. The first morning we turned out at
such an hour as would ensure our reaching the Blind before daybreak, and pretty
cold work the first two hours usually were, but the ducks came whizzing over our m
heads just before dawn, soon providing sufficient work to engage all our spare time.
Thousands and thousands of them strung past. Though from being constantly shot at
they rather swerved at the gaze. The first day brought forth the largest flight we
saw, and, as ill luck would have it, the leading gunmaker in Baltimore thought fit to
supply me with a hundred old cartridges, which must at some former period have got
wet. Not one would go into the single four-bore I had borrowed for the occasion,
without punching and hammering, while all had to be rammed out. Imagine one's
feelings during a two-hours' struggle with refractory cartridges, while an almost continuous stream of ducks were passing, with the result of getting off one shot for every
three or four which would have been fired in the ordinary course of events ; while to
further lessen our bag my friend's gun did not suit him, and was too lightly loaded.
But for this, and the refractory cartridges, our bag should have numbered at least one
hundred and fifty head of ducks, whereas we only gathered fifty, losing a considerable
quantity which drifted or swam out of sight, for in case of scaring those coming it
is best not to retrieve the dead birds until the termination of the flight, by which
time, if there is any tide running, as there was in our case, a large percentage are
lost. The bald-headed eagles, too, proved great robbers, constantly swooping down
and carrying off our dead and wounded, always apparently prefering the canvas-
backs, of which there were a very limited quantity, the majority consisting of redheaded widgeon. Each day much resembled the first, except that I changed my
cartridges, while to equalise matters the ducks never appeared in such numbers again.
After the morning flight we used to try decoying with about fifty wooden ducks, which
had been moored on the water in front of the Blind the night before, but through
absence of wind this plan did not work well, though those birds which were attracted
afforded very pretty shooting, nor had we much success tolling. Plenty of swans
were to be seen in the distance, but none came within reach. I distinguished eleven
varieties of ducks, the only kinds among them that I had met with in England being
Mallard, Red-Headed Widgeon, Pintail, Goosander, and Merganser, though the two
latter can hardly be termed ducks. Being only able to obtain the local names of the
American species I refrain from quoting them. Owing to the fascinations of the
Bay, and the hospitality of our friends, we protracted our stay longer than had
originally been intended, most unwillingly taking our departure after a very enjoyable
visit, eventually reaching New York en route to England.
CHAPTER   VI.
jpHE Celtic being the first homeward bound boat, we engaged berths in her
without delay, and soon found ourselves once more at sea, where all went well
for a day and a half, when suddenly while sitting in the saloon we were alarmed by
a peculiar bumping which shook the vessel from stem to stern, the feeling being
exactly as though she were gliding over a half sunken wreck, our suspicions of
something having gone wrong were soon confirmed by hearing a volume of steam
blown off, while the report that the main shaft had broken quickly spread.
Few of us realized at that moment how serious an accident this may prove to a
large vessel, and none of us dreamt that it portended  imprisonment for a month, m
with, as it happened, the not very remote chance of being wrecked in the meantime,
for until the screw, which had become jammed could be released, the vessel declined
to answer her helm, nor was this accomplished for I think about twenty-four hours.
All the while we were drifting before a stiff breeze on to a lee shore, though the
passengers were in happy ignorance of the fact; however, a gale from the direction in
which we had been rapidly drifting soon arranged matters differently, for in a short
time we found ourselves a hundred or so miles at sea with several sails short, which,
probably from age, were unable to withstand the severe strain ; by this time the screw
had been eased, and the unwieldy craft steered moderately well, although it was
found impossible to keep her in the course. At midnight, within a few days of the
accident, we sighted a German steamer, and dispatched a boat in a heavy sea
with orders to arrange for a tow back to New York, but after a couple of hours
absence, the Purser, who had accompanied those volunteering to undertake
this decidedly risky expedition in so heavy a sea as was then running, returned
stating that he had made an offer of £10,000 to the Captain of the Gellert,
who declined the danger of towing us for two days along a coast with
which he was unacquainted, but promised to stand by us if necessary,
which offer was declined, doubtless the promise of so large a sum for a
tow back to New York will strike the reader, like myself, as being exorbitant, though
perhaps the fact of our being laden with bars of silver may have had something to
say to it, though how the other could resist such a temptation I know not, and
have often doubted the actual truth of the statement. For about two weeks after
this, being completely out of the track, we fell in with no vessel of any description.
After being at sea for some three weeks a freight steamer was one day signalled for
the purpose of transferring some of the passengers who were most anxious to reach
England, ourselves among the number. As it was found she could only accommodate
four persons, lots were drawn, and the lucky four proceeded to pack their satchels
to leave us. The last we saw of them was too ludicrous a sight to be easily forgotten, for while the boat was alongside, and just as the last of its passengers
wearing a top hat had got in, the receding wave having left the gunwale below
some extension on the Celtic's side, the next wave seized the opportunity to all but
capsize the boat, half filling her, a truly miserable picture they "all presented, each
man sitting in water up to his knees, having donned their best preparatory to
landing in a few days at Liverpool, and no luggage, with the exception of hand bags,
being permitted them, some of which the unfortunate owners were holding upside
down, whilst a stream of water poured forth, how to dry themselves with comfort
must have, even at that moment, weighed heavily on their minds, and I much doubt
if anything beyond the bare necessaries of life existed on board the steamer. Food
had of late become worse and worse, in fact we had given up attempting to eat
anything called fresh, and the salt provisions were decidedly bad, having been ready
and waiting many a year I should say, for such an opportunity as the present one,
though at the commencement we had fared sumptuously, for all who had provided
themselves with Christmas gifts, such as oysters and canvas-backs, as presents to
friends in England, had handed them over to the culinary department rather than
allow them to spoil, gradually every description of drink had disappeared, including
fresh water, but a few knowing ones anticipating this had privately bought up the
remaining store, proposing to spend a gay time among themselves ; great then must i6
have been their disappointment when, at the last moment, they received orders from
the purser to return the wine, which was shared by those who desired it; then came
condensed water which for the first few days was disgusting, but after a bit
it either improved or we became more accustomed to it. We had long been
reduced to four lights in the saloon, then two, and were threatened with
total darkness in a day or so, meanwhile we were gradually creeping towards
home, some days we even did as much as nine knots an hour, of course
running before a pretty stiff breeze, finally when within about three hundred
miles of Ireland, which distance was as near as our captain dared approach, we
were overtaken by the Germanic, she immediately took us in tow, providing
food, drink, and oil in abundance. She also did us another good turn by relieving us
of a most obnoxious young man of the 'Arry type, hailing from Liverpool, who
throughout the voyage had been a constant source of annoyance to the Captain and
several of the passengers, and whose insolence had become so intolerable that the
Captain when he ordered him off the ship informed him that had it been a pig boat
instead of the Germanic he would have had him placed on board. I doubt if anyone
felt more relieved on reaching Liverpool than I who had been compelled to endure a
month of what I detested even for a week, with the addition of worse weather than I
had ever previously encountered, it being at one period, for three consecutive days,
impossible to remain seated anywhere without holding on ; our passengers, too, as a
whole were a most uninteresting lot, though to one of them I probably owe the
enjoyment of really excellent sport, for being so encouraged after my late complete
failure by his account of the Rocky Mountains hunting, I determined to take a trip
there the following fall, which determination was successfully carried out. Before
bidding farewell to the Celtic, I must say a word in acknowledgment of her excellent
qualities as a fine sea boat. Though rolling heavily she behaved splendidly, while
her Captain was no doubt amply recompensed by the congratulations of her owners,
on having safely beaten all previous records of a similar feat which for distance had
never been exceeded on the Atlantic by so large and unwieldy a vessel under the
usual scanty supply of canvas. CHAPTER  I.
T^ARLY in August, 1884, I again found myself out of my element, this time a
passenger by a Guion Line boat, and a most inferior one too, the attendance
and cooking being very indifferent, with a general appearance of dirt and disregard
for comfort. When crossing on the previous occasion, hearing that passengers were
not allowed to carry cartridges with them, I thought it best to hand mine over to
the Purser of the City of Rome, requesting that they might be placed in the magazine.
Honesty proved a bad policy on that occasion, for the said officer in spite of all
entreaties sent them ashore at Queenstown, and although I wrote a note to ensure
their immediate despatch, I never received them until about two months after,
though, as the reader is aware, I was not destined to experience any inconvenience
from their loss, but in case a similar mishap should befal another under circumstances
which might seriously affect the pleasure of his trip, I should advise him to act as
I now do, namely, secrete all cartridges, and mention the fact of possessing any to
no one, or he may find himself landed in America with an English express, and no
possibility of obtaining cartridges for it, with the only alternative of purchasing a"
Winchester, with which he may pump away on a large animal to his heart's content,
without in all probability seriously injuring it, though for accurate shooting at deer
or other small game I can imagine such a weapon to be much appreciated. Little
of interest occurred during the passage ; of course the inevitable pool on the run
of the ship took place daily, and the equally inevitable though more tedious concert,
on which occasion someone is certain to make such a helpless fool of himself that
it is positive misery to remain in the saloon. Icebergs were always said to have
been passed at night, when they could not be perceived, and the real or imaginary
whale was occasionally seen. The only other excitement is usually on Sunday,
when every clergyman on board asserts his intention of preaching, and as they all
have something very appropriate and refreshing to deliver, regardless of the impossibility of all preaching at once, those who are unable to obtain the saloon console
themselves with any audience they can muster in some other part of the ship. I
remember a lady on the City of Rome suggesting that the funnels would afford
suitable accommodation for them.
Thus, after a hum-drum existence of-eight or nine days, we were duly landed, and
having feed the Custom House officials, arranged for the earliest possible start by
train, our proposed destination being the Big Horn Mountains, a small branch of
the Rockies in Wyoming, in order to reach which, the nearest point to alight at is
Custer Depot, and from thence by stage to Tongue River, which flows at the foot of
c i8
the Big Horn. On the following day, after landing, we secured our tickets at the
hotel, a most convenient arrangement, by which means luggage is duly checked,
which necessitates your troubling no further about it until you reach your destination;
indeed, in all probability, it is not even in the same train with you, but will, you may I
rest assured, be waiting you on your arrival. This system of checking luggage is
decidedly successful and a great relief from all anxiety, though the unavoidable
delay in finally securing it at the termination of one's journey, greatly mars an otherwise successful system, while the almost total absence of porters is a frequent source
of annoyance, and far more so is the disgraceful manner in which everything is
smashed, no matter of what material it may be constructed, unless it is too large to
be lifted, and made to run on its own wheels like ladies arks. I have seldom seen a
porter place a box down in any manner more gentle than by throwing it straight off
his shoulders to the ground. Having taken all our small packages with us into the
car, punctually, as to time, we glided out of the station (or as they term it, depot).
Personally, I never feel half so comfortable in these luxurious, over-decorated, and
spacious cars as I do in our own comparatively cosy little railway carriages, and when
bedtime arrives and you have your curtains carefully pulled, someone passing, always
at the most critical moment, is certain to lose his or her balance, and after vainly
endeavouring to steady themselves against the receeding curtain, having ruthlessly
exposed you to the public gaze, ram their hand into your mouth, and then sit on you.
Of course the most profuse apologies follow, but of what avail ? The best means to
avoid anything of this description (and something similar to what I have described,
nearly always occurs,) is to previously engage the small drawing-room. There is
generally one of more on each train, it accommodates three persons if necessary, and
you have it entirely to yourselves at a small additional expense; which, if you value
your comfort, or wear a wig, you will not grudge. I remember nothing of importance
taking place before reaching St. Paul where we created considerable surprise, on
arriving at the hotel, by ordering baths ; apparently such an unusual necessary had
not been realized for ages. After a lengthened search the bath-room key was found,
and with still greater difficulty the taps were induced to turn, when a small trickle of
rusty water made its appearance. We were delayed for two days, by hearing that
the stage at Custer had been engaged for the day on which we imagined we had
secured it. St. Paul is a miserable town to find one's self stranded in; therefore after
securing a few requisites, and paying a visit to the Bank, where they promptly cashed
me a fifty pound note, an obligation the Chicago Bank managers had declined to
confer upon me, politely stating after a minute inspection that the note looked better
than some they had seen, but at the same time they considered the risk too great, we
made enquiries as to the best possible means of whiling away our spare time, with
the result that we determined to have a day's fishing on Bear Lake, which was
reached after a short railway journey. The sport was not grand ; we caught a few
quaint-looking fish, of the names of which I have not the remotest idea, being
eventually caught ourselves in a heavy thunder-storm which necessitated the earliest
possible return to St. Paul.    This we left orfthe following day.
During our journey we were slightly delayed, being able to preceive the object of
our hinderance lying by the side of the track in the form of an overturned locomotive
with a large hole knocked in it, and a few railway cars in the same not very unusual
position in this part of America.    The day before reaching Custer, we passed great 19
quantities of blue-winged teal, which rose in hundreds on our approach, every little
pond and puddle being thickly covered with them.
The railway officials employed in the cars, exhibited as usual to a disagreeable
extent, the free and easy style so characteristic of the nation, but none the less ruffling
to an English temperament, they placed themselves on half your seat, threw their
arms along the back of it, and with feet on the opposite seat they would either
condescend to speak to you or not, as they happened to feel inclined ; even the nigger,
whose business it was to make the beds, and otherwise attend to the comforts of the
passengers, was always to be found in a somewhat similar position, only usually by
himself upside down and asleep. These latter can, however, make themselves very
useful on occasions, and I do not think a tip on changing trains or at the end of the
journey is thrown away on them, they even say | thank you" on receipt of it.
While stopping at some station, the official from the baggage department informed
me that I had better come and look after my things, I complacently accompanied him,
thinking that the checks were required for a transfer, but he simply pointed out,
scattered in every direction amongst the other passengers luggage, the whole contents
of a strong deal case, bound with iron, constructed and packed by a London gun maker
expressly for the journey; it had orginally contained my rifle, and all appliances
connected therewith, except cartridges, for a three months' hunting trip, and now, owing
to the disgraceful treatment this unusually strong case had received, it was simply
smashed beyond repair, as also were some of the contents. Having but a few seconds to
spare, ere the train started, I huddled as much as I could into the shattered remains of
the box; being compelled to returned to my car with all the small things in my hands and
pockets. I am at a loss to recommend anything of sufficient strength to ensure the
safety of guns, I would therefore advise that such articles should share the same
car with their owner, as mine have ever done since, excepting on one occasion when
an officious railway servant refused to allow me to take a gun into the car and walked
it off, charging eventually double freightage for looking after it. On entering the
wild and unsettled districts, I constantly found myself peering into the distance in
the vain endeavour to discover the antelope, which are still occasionally to be seen,
though the vast herds of buffalo frequently observed only a few years ago, have
entirely disappeared never more to cheer the heart of the hunter en route to his
hunting ground. I doubt if, from a train, a single buffalo will ever be seen again,
unless it be a tame one accompanied by domestic cattle. These I have seen and
imagined to be wild until instructed to the contrary. To me, watching the prairie
dogs affords a constant source of interest. For miles and miles we passed through
town after town of them. Queer little things, more marmot than dog, sitting up
with forepaws hanging, as though begging, or standing over a hole accompanying
each shrill squeak with a quick jerk of the tail, until with one final squeak they
suddenly disappeared down a hole as though the earth had given way from under
them.
We finally reached Custer at about five in the morning. The stage on which we had
previously engaged two seats (it only holus four persons including the driver) was soon
in readiness. After watching our baggage packed, we began to wonder where we were
to stow ourselves, for no inch of space remained except actually on the seat, so constructed as to barely accommodate two abreast, and on this we were obliged to perch
ourselves, baggage behind and underneath us, with knees touching our chins, and
c 2 20
shins rammed against the drivers seat, in which position we were to spend about
twenty-four hours on end. Nor can I do justice to the misery of this day and night's
drive without describing the vehicle, the true name of which I believe to be Buck-
board.    It is about the size of a T. cart, with travellers' seat immediately behind the
driver's, both facing the horses. There had once, I think, been springs, but owing to
wear and overweight they had long since gone flat, and could only be recognised
when jolting over rocks, on which occasions the body of the conveyance lifted to its
full extent, coming down with a thud on the supports where it usually rested. It
would never have occurred to me, judging from the motion, that springs had formerly
existed had it not been that once having almost jerked off to sleep, I was painfully recalled to my senses by finding that my outside foot had strayed from the cart and
(during the interval when the body had left its support for a moment) had placed itself
in the vacant place under the spring, the result being that when the next boulder was
encountered the shock was less perceptible than usual to the others, but affected me
far more than any had done previously, nearly smashing my foot and ruining a new
pair of knee boots. The by no means easy task of stowing away all our baggage
being completed, with a curt word of encouragement to the horses from our Jehu,
pronounced Guida, signifying ' get up,' off we started. The jerking and jolting
were not so much heeded by us at first, our attention being fully occupied with this
new mode of travelling. The journey was unbroken with the exception of an occasional change of horses, at which times we were served with a very fair repast.
After the first few hours the cramped position in which we were fixed became
decidedly painful, but not an inch could we move for relief. Ere long every rock
was regarded in the far distance with dread, and when about to come in contact
with such an obstacle, an involuntary bracing of the body and a spasmodic
clinch of the teeth took place; there was, However, no remedy, we had to grin and
bear it, but experienced a welcome relief when we arrived at the Ferry under Fort
Custer, by being at liberty to get out and stretch ourselves, for we were to
remain about an hour at the Fort where I expected news of my hunter. We
embarked on the ferry which was very dodgily arranged to work backwards and
^PP" 21
forwards on a rope, being propelled by the force of the stream acting on the boat at
an angle, the river was not wide, and in a couple of minutes we were landed, and
commencing a short climb up to the Fort named after the ill-fated General who,
together with his whole force, was slaughtered on a small hillock close by, by the
Indians who attacked in such vast numbers that but one man is said to have
escaped to tell the tale. The spot is now fenced in with railings which encircle all
that remains of an entire command. Having arrived at the Fort, after passing
much closer to a chained grizzly than we should have done had we known of its
existence, our first enquiry was for news of our hunter, who had arranged to meet
us there with his outfit; very much to our relief this all-important individual soon
turned up, having been sent by Bob Stewart, whom I had engaged, but who, not
being ready on account of the Indians having stolen his horses at the moment of his
setting out, had sent the personage then before me, who rejoiced in the name of
Uncle Billie.    He was an elderly man whose face was  the most  complete wreck
imaginable, his injury having been caused by a collision
with the heels of a horse, after such a blow, recovery must
have been miraculous. The lower part of his forehead and
frontal bones were smashed in, one eye was blind and
located where his cheek must have formerly resided, the
other eye was an inch higher up, both cheek bones were
driven in, and from the depth of his face, the end of his
nose scarcely protruded. A truly repulsive sight was Uncle
Billie, and for a hunter, a man to be avoided as worse than
useless. He informed me that he had already been waiting
ten days, (his wages were £1 a day) and that it would take him three days more to
get his outfit together, at the expiration of which time he would join us at Tongue
River. As the stage passed there, and I had heard good reports of the trout fishing,
we decided to make that our halting place and look after ourselves until he arrived.
At Custer we met the first genuine Indians (Crows) we had yet seen ; they appeared
a fine race, and fairly good looking. Our driver having looked us up for a start, we
resumed our perches and our journey. Clouds of dust, a burning sun, a miserably
uncomfortable seat, and an everlasting prairie, were not quite the comforts one
would desire, but night would soon relieve us of the sun at any rate. Towards the
end of that day we passed through the Crow Reservation, where the American
Government starves the Indians through the medium of its agents, under the pretence
of providing for their welfare. Into a few of the various robberies committed by
these agents on the Reservation, I was initiated by a discharged servant, formerly
employed in the business, but who was now one of our outfit. He informed me that by
the time provisions reached the Indians, instead of their obtaining the allotted allowance they seldom receive more than a third, and that, frequently so bad, as to be
uneatable. The various agents, having received full Government allowance, buy
damaged food cheap and pocket the difference, pilfering about two-thirds of the sum
entrusted to them, and supposed to be^xpended on the Indians. Little wonder is it
therefore that these Indians on the Reservations are literally driven by starvation into
rebellion. We noticed occasional, though very limited efforts on their part at agriculture, and were particularly struck by the peculiar fashion among them of cutting out the
front and back of their trousers, leaving the legs suspended by narrow strips to the belts. g
22
Perhaps this is merely for summer wear. One Indian had decorated his head gear,
apparently much to his satisfaction, with a paper flag on a piece of wire, such as
is usually to be seen on a Christmas-tree. Ere we were clear of the Indian lines,
darkness had set in, and we began to endure intense discomfort. It became bitterly
cold. Being unaware that there is a considerable frost in those parts on most
nights at this season, we were by no means adequately provided with wraps.
Sleep was out of the question ; should we doze for a moment, the instant the
muscles relaxed, a violent jolt nearly jerked our heads off, and if we rested them on
anything, matters became worse, for they flew up and came down with a crash
somewhere else much harder. Though sleep was thus denied to us, I noticed on
several occasions the driver was more fortunate, and but for the horses' thorough
knowledge of the way we must inevitably have been upset; once or twice when to
overturn would have resulted in a considerable drop of perhaps twelve feet. I took
upon me to rouse the man, who appeared by no means grateful for my interference.
During the journey we had changed drivers at a great disadvantage, the second
being as surly and grumpy a specimen as one would be likely to come across.
Next morning, at about seven, he pulled up on the banks of a small river, and told us
it was Tongue River, adding " Where would we like to get out ? " One spot being to
us the same as another, we replied, | Here," and after everything was removed, and
the instrument of twenty-four hours' torture had disappeared, we stood alone on the
outskirts of a vast prairie. Our little pile of neat packages presenting an
appearance so out of harmony with the surroundings as to look utterly ridiculous,
reminding me of a caricature I had once seen of a missionary traversing some
desert, wearing a tall hat, and carrying a huge carpet bag in his hand. Its a queer
sensation when you find yourself for the first time in your life entirely alone, with
everything dependent on your own exertions. Thus were we now situated.
Fortunately there was abundance of timber at hand, for to select a spot where such
a necessary existed had never occurred to me, any more than had the fact that we
were without the means of cutting it, but an axe was superfluous, for plenty of dead
wood lay about. The first thing to be done was to pitch the tent; this we erected
on a small cliff at the edge of the river. The ground was so hard that the pegs
declined to penetrate sufficiently to obtain a reliable hold, but being quite satisfied
so long as it stood up, we commenced getting things in order; after which we
decided that something to eat was requisite, so having nothing but flour and butter,
which latter had melted and run all over the saddle, I left L. to make some bread,
and started with my gun to procure a bird of some sort, so far I was successful,
shortly returning with a duck, but only to find that in her attempt to make a loaf,
L. had melted the bottom out of the only saucepan, the nearest approach to bread
being something looking like a piece of putty in the ashes, where as a last resource
she had endeavoured to bake the dough. However, having some biscuits we thought
they would very well take the place of bread, and commenced to cook the duck, we
boiled that in the tea-pot, as it appeared the easiest way, but by the time it was
done, the sun had become so hot, and such quantities of flies surrounded us that
neither felt inclined to eat it; in fact, we never did eat it, but took to fishing
instead. For the next three days we had the finest sport conceivable. Trout and
grayling abounded in various turns of the river, weighing up to five pounds, and
seizing greedily almost any fly we liked to put on, so long as it was not a small MHHn
ft.
23
one.    How we treasured the only four large ones we possessed, and with what
warnings against the impossibility of replacing it, I doled the last but one out to L.,
every likely looking spot was certain to hold a fish, and equally surejivas that fish to
afford sport.    We caught occasionally, with a spoon, in some deep hole a fish something of the nature of a Pike.    Frequently we found ourselves with more trout than we
could (in one journey) carry back to camp where we dried and salted them, intending
to take them into the mountains; but on the second day after starting the cook, rather
than be bothered with the packing, left them all behind, which much disgusted us, after
the hours we had wasted in the dirty work of cleaning and curing them. A very merry
three days glided away on Tongue River, where in a broiling sun standing up to our
waists in the icy cold water, and clothed in the airiest of attire, we landed trout after
trout, with an occasional grayling by way of variation ; some of the latter scaled as
high as six pounds.    We felt almost sorry when Uncle Billie put in an appearance,
and thereby ended the best fishing we had ever enjoyed.    I would strongly recommend
anyone travelling within reach of Tongue River, even if it takes him out of his way,
to sacrifice a day or so to his rod, though I cannot answer for his success in all parts
of the river.    We very nearly lost our tent on the first night, for on being awoke by
a heavy thunderstorm, I found the wind, which had suddenly risen, was blowing our
lightly secured shelter about in all directions, vainly I regretted my carelessness in
not properly pegging it down in the first instance, being now obliged to fumble
about in the dark and rain; but by dint of hammering at the pegs, and holding down
the canvas until the storm abated, we were only just enabled to save it from blowing
over the cliff and into the river.    Our outfit was now nearly complete, consisting of
eight pack horses, Uncle Billie, Bill the Cook, and Rube to look after the horses,
of which we still required three more, Uncle Billie asserting (whether true or not, I
cannot say) that on the previous night some Indians had stolen three of his, but I
rather expect they strayed away, he having a knack of leaving them much to their
own devices, seldom troubling to hobble them, which negligence ultimately caused us
a frequent delay of several hours on moving camp.    It was agreed that he should spend
the remainder of the day of his arrival by going to some place he knew of and purchasing the necessary horses, which he did, returning with three animals, one being a smart
little pony, and very decent looking, was reserved for L. ; the next was a rather
handsome horse, which I at once decided on for myself, but on attempting to mount
him, I  quite  as  quickly concluded he would not suit me, for having previously
belonged to a Cow Boy, he had acquired the trick of bolting the instant you lifted
your foot to place it in the stirrups, and not being a Cow Boy, this prized accomplishment in his eyes placed a barrier against the horse being of the slightest use to me
for hunting, it was, therefore, destined for Bill, who became so accustomed to being
run away with, that in the end he grew to like the sensation, and eventually bought
the horse from me.    The remaining animal was a brute, the only creature I think I
really ever hated, there was no vice about him, I wished there had been, he was
simply a stolid lump of flesh and bone, and his eyes were always half closed, while his
huge lower lip hung down, its weight apparently preventing his mouth from shutting
by two inches ; moreover, he was gifted with the power of making deliberate grimaces,
and he used  throughout the day, at intervals, to sigh  heavily.    I   am  unaware
whether insanity occurs in horses, but if so, undoubtedly that animal was off his
head.    Uncle Billie had given a higher price for him than for either of the others, on 24
account of his being what they termed a work horse, but it Was possible to mount
him, and, as I thought, perhaps we could get along together, I was, therefore, forced
to make the best of the bargain.
CHAPTER II.
HpHE next morning was devoted to packing the horses, which was not accomplished
■*" until a late hour, everything being in disorder, and several of them unused to a
pack. If you were never heartily disgusted with the result of anything you have
undertaken to accomplish, you certainly will be on the first occasion you take upon
yourself the decidedly difficult task of successfully fixing a pack, it is simply maddening to see everything falling off or leaking out, no matter how carefully you have
secured it. Unless he has taken a lesson or two, I defy anyone to succeed in packing
for the first few times, even the oldest hands cannot provide against occasional
loosenings or burstings ; often and often were we delayed by one turning over, on
which occasion the whole business of repacking had to be gone through over again,
for to otherwise endeavour to rectify the mishap is so much waste of time. The first
day we made but little progress, but the main object on such occasions is to get a
start, no matter if you are obliged to camp within the hour, it greatly simplifies
matters for the morrow. On the following day we met a liar, not an unusual
occurrence in America, he told Uncle Billie of a spot about fifty miles off where the bears
were just then in numbers. As I was more anxious to obtain bears than anything else,
we accordingly turned our steps in the direction indicated by the liar and known to
Uncle Billie. This spot was entirely out of our way, necessitating our leaving the
pass into the mountains behind us. In a couple of days we reached the desired spot,
where, after two more days careful search we could find no indication of a bear
having been about for months. On this wild goose chase a whole week had been
lost, it was also the only occasion on which any Indians bothered us. One evening
while having our supper we heard a couple of them roll off their horses outside the
tent, immediately after the canvas was drawn aside, and in they walked, seating
themselves on the ground, watching us eating, like hungry dogs, until we began to
feel so greedy, that for very shame we offered them some food, handing a knife and
fork to one, and a knife to the other. The possessor of the fork had not the remotest
idea what use to make of it, but was quickly relieved from his dilemma by the other
stealing it on the first opportunity, then after watching us attentively he took up a
piece of bacon in his fingers, stuck it on the fork and placed it in his mouth with an
air of superiority. After they had eaten all the scraps, and began to show signs of
sleeping with us we called to Rube, who spoke their language, to tell them to be off,
with which request they reluctantly complied, and we turned in, but had hardly gone
to sleep ere we were awakened by someone crawling under the back of the tent, this
turned out to be one of our late guests, who having been observed by the men was
hastily collared by the legs and withdrawn, after which he was unceremoniously sent
about his business. We were afterwards warned on no account to give Indians food
or in all likelihood we would have much trouble in  getting rid of them.    Moreover 25
they would probably call upon us again in company with the whole tribe. We now
made for the pass by which to ascend the mountain. On the first day after leaving
the prairie, one of the horses, called Papoose on account of his youth, distinguished
himself by running under a bough and tearing a hole in the sugar sack, after which
disgraceful piece of carelessness he declined to be caught, while the sugar was all the
time running out in a continuous stream until three parts was lost, leaving a long
white trail on the ground. We had an Indian pack pony, a remarkably strong and
wiry little beast called " Injun," on whose back, I suppose on account of his nationality, was invariably placed the heaviest and most cumbersome load, yet this
animal could tire all the others out, never appearing the least done himself;
nor when the opportunity offered, did he ever pass a tree without indulging
in a scratch. It is wonderful the load these Indian ponies will carry, I have
seen a buck, his squaw, and a papoose on a little miserable beast which
looked as though the weight of one person would have broken it down, yet
no doubt had there been room another addition to the Indian's family would have
occupied the vacant space; they think little of taking their family and household
effects deposited on two poles, harnessed each side of a pony, spliced together behind
with cross bars and  dragged along the ground, the buck himself riding.    I soon
found it utterly impossible to keep up with the others, my horse could not even walk
as fast as the slowest of them, and as huge Cow Boy's spurs with rowel spikes
three quarters of an inch long had not the slightest effect on him, I determined to
take one of the pack horses, and put mine in his place. The animal did nothing but
sigh, appearing to have experienced at some period an overwhelming grief, the
memory of which he was unable to shake off, so after consulting Uncle Billie as to
the best horse to select out of the very mixed lot, I was provided with a large
black animal called Nigger, formerly a troop horse, having in that capacity received
a rifle bullet through one hind leg, besides which he was stiff jointed in the fetlock of
the other, and a lamer animal all round never was ridden ; but he was a fine old horse
and a luxury when compared with the other, which I was pleased to see with a good
lumpy pack on his back. But a marvellous change had taken place in him, though still
slower in every motion than his companions, he appeared in mortal dread of being
left behind, constantly coming blundering along at a gallop, hustling everything out
of his way to try and get in front for a bit.    One day some time after this we were ^m
26
struggling through a wood of fallen timber (a by no means easy task even on foot),
when we suddenly heard a most horrible shindy, accompanied by a hideous sort of
bellowing in the distance, presently my old enemy appeared, being unable to jump
anything at all, he had been left behind unnoticed, and now came tearing along
minus his pack, evidently bent on running amuck, charging straight into timber
breast high, over which, unless it gave way, he fell headlong. In this manner he
dashed straight through us, and badly we should have fared had we been in his way,
he appeared perfectly mad with fear. The next question was what to do with him, we
had all got into an inextricable fix amongst the fallen timber where Uncle Billie had
lost his way, we therefore tied him up to a tree intending to camp immediately on
getting clear of the wood, and then returning for him and his pack, but it took us
some hours longer to get out of that mass of spillicans, and by the time we camped
everyone had forgotten the horse, until he refreshed our memory by dashing into
camp sweating and trembling with fear and exertion, how he ever managed to get
loose was a marvel, his pack was discovered next day at a spot where he had taken
an unusually high header over a fallen tree.
W
CHAPTER III.
E wandered through the mountain for about a fortnight before striking any
game, and I now began to realize the worthlessness of Uncle Billie as a
hunter. Nothing would induce him to diverge from the regular trail, along which
year after year, hunters have been accustomed to escort their parties, and which
from the amount of tins lying about would convey the impression that a personally
conducted party of Cook's tourists had gone before; but Uncle Billy was obstinacy
itself, it being only necessary to suggest one way for him to take another.
Fortunately one afternoon he got entirely lost, nor had he found himself on the
following day, which compelled us to camp in a portion of the mountain utterly
unknown to him, where we remained for two weeks with excellent sport, it was the
best camp we ever made, being literally surrounded by wapiti. This was early in
September; the velvet was just off their horns, while their bugling might be heard
in all directions. The first evening after camping, having as yet had no fresh meat,
Uncle Billie and myself started off in different directions in search of game. I soon
heard him fire off six shots in rapid succession, but on my return to camp found he
had been blazing into wapiti without causing any appreciable effect, indeed I only
twice knew him to kill anything he fired at. Next day, accompanied by Uncle
Billie, I climbed the side of the valley in which we were camped, immediately we
reached the summit we heard wapiti bugling in two directions. This sound I have
never been able to efface from my memory, it resembles from five to seven notes
blown on a bugle, the old bulls being far less successful musicians than the cows
and calves. On a fine clear morning I defy any music to be more stirring or
enchanting to the ear of the hunter, nor indeed could a critic find fault with the
harmony.    Often and often in after life will some chance resemblance to this weird air
-2:
..
TSP 27
remind those who have hunted wapiti in September of the far distant mountains
where such music abounds. The best though most unromantic imitation I ever
heard was by a windmill on the Norfolk Broads. I could have sat for hours under
that disordered old mill, listening to it bugling at every revolution, with my eyes
closed dreaming of past happy days, the like of which I fear it will never be my
luck to see again. We now turned our steps in the direction from whence the
first challenge had issued, and after about half-an-hour's walk we reached the edge
of a wood which appeared full of life, cows and calves on all sides but no bull to
be seen anywhere. Uncle Billie's craving for meat, had become so intense at the
sight that he became quite upset at my not firing, so after we had crawled and
wriggled into their very midst and no Bull being in sight, in order to prevent his
shooting I did so myself, selecting a calf, of course all probability of a chance at
the bull was now gone, so we strolled up to the dead calf, and while examining the
locality where my bullet had struck, Uncle Billie cried | Look out, here comes the
bull," and sure enough he came galloping straight for us, probably furious at the
supposed intrusion of some Don Juan on his harem, he never slackened until within
fifty yards, where he pulled up short, and I dropped him within a short distance.
True enough it was within a short distance, but let me make a confession; so
keen and excited was I over securing my first trophy that I shot him all over; I
shot him in the antler, I shot him in the fetlock, I shot him more than once in the 28
body, and I also shot where he did not happen to be. Perhaps I am not the first
who has lost his head under such trying circumstances, it was a truly magnificent
sight to one who beheld so majestic a creature for the first time. He was
the finest animal I killed during the expedition, carrying a magnificent head of
seventeen points. We immediately set to work to skin the head, which, when
detached, we stuck up in a tree. We then arranged what meat was required,
returning to camp for horses, which were shortly despatched under Uncle Billie's
supervision, leaving me anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first trophy, though the
pleasure was eventually somewhat marred by its appearance, for the skinned head
sawn in two did not convey a very accurate idea of the air of magnificent grandeur
it had previously borne in my eyes. In America wapiti are erroneously called elk,
and their flesh, though good, bears no comparison to that of the mule deer, also
wrongly termed black-tail, which, together with elk proper, do not exist in the rocky
mountains of Wyoming.
Next day, Uncle Billie having gorged, showed no signs of hunting, therefore, being
only too glad to escape his company without hurting his feelings, I took my horse and
set out alone, travelling in a slightly different direction from that of the previous day.
After a few miles ride I heard the welcome music. Tethering my horse I proceeded
on foot. While stealthily crawling towards where I expected to find the wapiti I was
startled by a counter challenge on my right, and, glancing in the direction, beheld on
a grassy ridge, about six-hundred yards distant, a fine bull proudly gazing towards
me, evidently anxiously awaiting the anticipated encounter with him whom I sought,
and whom I now perceived apparently in no humour for the fray, being engaged in
a hearty roll in the dust under a pine
tree. I instantly noticed that he carried
a peculiarly mal-formed head and antler,
which, as a curiosity, immediately enhanced his value in my eyes.
Determining to become possessor of
this head, I took a steady aim and
pulled, and pulled again, for a second
barrel was needed. By the time I
reached him he was dead, and I now
gloated over the peculiarity of the left
side of his head and antler, which
reached down over the eye, terminating
in a huge, ugly knob of bone, having
but one prong, while the corresponding
antler was properly formed, bearing
five points. Such deformities are not
uncommon among the deer tribe, and
are the result of an injury during the early growth of the antler. Soon after
commencing to skin this animal I was disturbed by another challenge about
half-a-mile off in the same wood where I now was. So returning my knife to its
sheath I immediately set off in the direction from whence the sound had proceeded,
soon coming in sight of an old bull and two cows, but in such a position as to
render any advance on my part, without being observed, impossible.    I therefore
T^ 29
decided to remain lying where I was, and await the course they might decide on.
Presently the cows, followed at about forty yards by the bull, walked leisurely in my
direction, and passed me within fifteen yards. There I squatted fully exposed to:
their view. When opposite they suddenly stood and stared at me. I hardly
breathed; they apparently thought I was some inanimate object, and passed on
unconcernedly. Then came the bull, but he never saw me until I raised my rifle and
it was then too late for him to seek safety in flight, I remarked that at this season,
the bulls appeared to leave the task of keeping a look-out entirely to the cows and
calves, seldom troubling to notice anything unusual among their surroundings,
invariably allowing the cows to precede them, apparently quite satisfied that they
were thus amply protected. Hardly had I shot the last wapiti, when a third challenge
resounded from my left, higher up in the wood, and once more I went in pursuit,
but this time it proved a long painful and unsuccessful stalk, I discovered him all
right, but do what I would, I could never get a shot at him, there he was quietly
walking in front of me, I on my hands and knees not daring to rise, could not quite
keep up, but presently after having considerably increased the distance between us,
he fell in with an opponent, when the two commenced to fight, now, thought I, is an
opportunity to bag them both, but the ground was rather bare and I fancy I must
have been perceived, for just as I proposed to try the effect of a shot, they suddenly
turned their backs and trotted off, I followed them out of the wood and saw them in
company with about twelve cows and calves, crossing a piece of prairie in the
direction of another clump of timber. Somewhat disappointed, I was making the
best of my way back to finish my skinning, when, ere I had gone two hundred yards,
I came plump on an old gentleman with the widest and flattest antlers I have ever
seen on a wapiti, one of which he was complacently rubbing up and down a tree,
which stood directly between his line of sight and myself, and was undoubtedly the
cause of his death, thus I had three fine specimens of heads waiting to be operated
on, which operation, as it was getting late, I determined should be deferred until the
morrow; accordingly I returned to my horse and set out for camp highly pleased
with my success. I had also learnt that day, that each noble beast I had killed
caused immediately afterwards, a pang I fain would have been rid of, a dying
wapiti (perhaps few would have noticed it) gives with its expiring breath a long
wailing sigh, sweet and soft, which I am not ashamed to own, has proved on more
than one occasion beyond what I could stand unmoved, and I now, rather than risk a
repetition of this, never spare my second barrel, for another such appeal might prove
the last I could find it in my heart to bring about.
That night Uncle Billie showed his annoyance at my successful day by declaring
it to be impossible to pack any more heads, and as he stated that I should find
wapiti in the same abundance, right through the mountains, I agreed not to shoot
any more at present. The next day was spent in skinning and bringing the heads to
Camp, and on the following I went out with L., in order that she might obtain
a head of her own shooting, we succeeded in getting within fifty yards of an old bull
but the rifle she then used was unequal to the task, and the animal although wounded
escaped. Next day we made another attempt, and after a long stalk on our hands
and knees, failed to obtain a shot, but L. succeeded in losing her only hat, which
when you have but one, is decidedly inconvenient. Having taken it off to avoid
detection, and placed it in a fairly open spot, we were never able to regain possession f
30
of it. It is wonderful the difficulty of finding anything you have once lost sight of
under similar conditions, we thought we stood for certain within thirty yards of that
hat, yet half-an-hour's search failed to reveal it, this reminds me that while on the
prairie before entering the mountains, I lost all the remainder of the money I
had with me under the following circumstances. I was hunting for prairie hens,
or rather, more correctly speaking, sharp-tailed grouse, which, though inhabiting
the prairies, are not the true prairie hen; having got into a pack of these, I
knocked over seven, each of which I endeavoured to mark, by throwing down
hat, handkerchief and every conspicuous article about me, including all
my notes, which latter discovery I did not make until reaching camp, after
successfully gathering my seven birds. To find the place again I knew to be
impossible, we were therefore without money for the next three months, nor did we
often require it. After giving up our search for the hat, and being close to the
carcases of the wapiti I had killed a few days before, we went to have a look at
them in case a bear should have paid a visit in that quarter, and sure enough so one
had, having dined off portions of two of them. I therefore determined to come the
following evening and wait for it; however, I found the time hang so heavily next
day, with the prospect of an encounter with a bear before me, that I could not rest in
camp, and started much too soon, arriving at the first carcase at about four o'clock,
whereas there was little chance of the bear before five; I was ruminating in my
mind which would be the most likely bait to watch, when suddenly the head of a
bear appeared on the summit of a ridge thirty yards off, and an exceptionally fine
grizzly he was, nor did my presence distract him in the least, he simply stopped a
moment, stared at me, and then walked straight towards me, rolling his great head
from side to side, apparently on excellent terms with himself, and perfectly indifferent
to everything, except his proposed supper; up to the present I had been unable to
get a good shot at him, he being head on to me, in which position a bullet would
have spoilt that portion of him, but at length thinking fifteen yards quite close enough
for safety, I fired at his shoulder, causing him to jump into the air howling, he turned
seven somersaults in rapid succession, then walked slowly away inclining to the left,
my second bullet (a hollow one) caught him in the flank, raking him the whole way
up, finally stopping in the back of the neck, on receipt of this he gradually subsided,
and after heaving a few rocks on him I deemed it safe to approach, he was still
breathing, but otherwise unconscious,. This afternoon's performance I afterwards
had reason to consider a great piece of luck, particularly on account of the bear's size,
for of the many grizzlies I have since seen from the Rockies, I have not come across
one to compare with him, he now stands erect, having been most successfully set up
by Rowland Ward, and measures over six feet from the ground to the top of the
head; the fat which was three inches thick on his side, lasted us throughout the
entire trip for cooking purposes, the meat we had no inclination to taste. Uncle
Billie, when he saw the animal, proclaimed his utter ignorance by declaring it to be a
cinnamon bear, I very much doubt his ever having been so close to one before. In
a few days I discovered that two more bears came each night to another carcase, but
though I waited for them regularly, we could never arrange a meeting, and at length
most reluctantly I was forced to give them up, I now little doubt but that for my lack
of experience I should have obtained both these and several others; any hunter,
other than Uncle Billie, could have given me a few hints which would have prevented
W\ 3i
my acting in such a manner as to make it a thousand to one chance against a bear
approaching while I waited. For instance, I never heeded from which direction the
bears came, in all probability hitching up my horse right across their trail, then again
I most likely sat in a direct line to windward of them, and I believe no animal has a
keener sense of smell. Many other obstructions did I place in the way of my
success, such as can only be avoided by personal experience, or that imparted by
another. I seldom had a carcase down for more than three days without a bear
being attracted to it, nor can I ever remember one putting in an appearance before
the third day, by which time the hot sun would have partially putrified the meat, in
which state it appeared most appreciated, though it may have been that they failed
to wind a freshly killed animal. Night after night, morning after morning, did I
visit my baits, sometimes I would spend most of the night in a tree, half frozen,
always with the same result, they had either been before me or else came after I left.
I believe that waiting for bears, even under the most favorable circumstances, is a
waste of time, better far is it to visit your bait just before dusk or at daybreak, the
former I prefer. Sitting in a tree or elsewhere by moonlight, be it ever so clear a
night, is a decided mistake, for even if your bear appears and you fire at it, the
result of the best sight you can possibly obtain by the brightest moon, at fifty yards,
is not calculated to do more than wound the object shot at, in which case you would
have done better to risk finding it by daylight. After remaining in this camp a
fortnight, and finding no mule deer bucks, we decided on a move.- Sheep had
evidently once existed in this locality, where I found the skull of one, but they were
now no longer present. I had been unable to resist the temptation of shooting one
more wapiti, and I have little doubt, had I wished it, I could have collected round
that spot between twenty and thirty large heads, and fortunate it was that I obtained
five, for I never got another sufficiently perfect to add to my collection.
CHAPTER   IV.
T T became necessary to construct a carriole, such as I have described the Indians
as using, on which to pack the trophies, my eccentric old horse being harnessed
between the poles made a very good goer in that capacity, though seldom a day
passed without the whole outfit upsetting, horse included, the sight of which rolling
over, and over, down a hill, placed me in a continual dread of my heads being
broken. Uncle Billie soon got back into his own trail, with the result, that game
became very scarce, but nothing could induce him to lose himself again. One day
we had a serious fall-out owing to his firing at game while in my company ; after
hitching up our horses, we had walked several miles on the look out for a buffalo,
fresh signs of which were visible, suddenly Uncle Billie stopped, saying " Look,"
I looked for the Buffalo over the backs of some antelope close to us, but before I saw
them he had fired, of course without effect except to scare everything away. I asked
him what he meant by firing, and he grumbled something about not having meat,
and my not seeing,   finding that his excuse was  hunger,   I   said  no  more,, but 32
presently knocked over a solitary antelope, consoling myself with the idea that
having meat he would now reserve his fire. In a piece of timber close by, we had
previously seen some mule deer, we therefore arranged to walk to the bottom of this,
and then up it from the end, while on the way down I lost sight of Uncle Billie
amongst the timber, but when half-way through on my return, I heard him fire three
shots in the exact spot where we had expected to find the deer, hurrying to the place,
in a frame of mind which required little more provocation to tempt me to slip a
bullet into him, I asked what he had shot at, he replied a " wapiti and mule deer,"
neither of which he had killed. A stormy five minutes ensued, when, after having
somewhat relieved my feelings, he curtly informed me that if he did not suit, he was^
quite willing and ready to go off the mountains, to which I replied that I was not,
but that it was the last time he should accompany me hunting, nor did I ever have
reason to regret this decision, for he could distinguish nothing but imaginary game.
One day, actually, in spite of every sign and whistle I dared make, he walked right
into a band of wapiti, and I don't think he would have seen them among the trees
then, had they not almost run against him in trying to escape. I have known him
mistake a badger for an antelope at fifty yards. Soon after this I started one
morning at daybreak, intending to walk round the ridge of rocks at the side of which
we were camped, I continued walking for hours, until I felt certain I must be nearly
back at camp again, at length, failing to arrive, the disagreeable truth that I was lost
began to dawn on me, but I journeyed on under the confident impression that our camp
must be at the side of the rocky ridge which I had never lost sight of, I consulted my
compass, but, only intending such a simple route, I had never taken my bearings at
starting, and though it ultimately led me home, it was at that moment of but little
service, however knowing that a friend of mine was camped not fifty miles off, I felt
rejoiced when I came across his footprints in the snow, these I determined to follow,
and doubtless his hunter could put me in the right way, though how he was to know
the direction of a camp which he had never seen did not occur to me, I diligently
followed the tracts for about two hours, when I came to a place where my friend had
had an awkward slip, having narrowly escaped falling over a rock, I was at once struck
by the remarkable similarity between his fall and one I had in the early morning, but ' 33.
.as I closely examined the details, the faint suspicion which had framed itself in my
mind became gradually matured into positive certainty, namely, that my friend was
none other than myself, and that for the last two hours, I had been following on my
own trail of the early morning. I was now more hopelessly mixed and lost
than ever, having not the slightest notion in which direction to turn, while to
make matters worse, I should only have a few more hours of light. To retrace
my steps, therefore, was out of the question. So I plodded on, still grasping a bunch
of meat I carried with me for poisoning; in the event of having to remain out all
night and perhaps the next, it would be necessary to retain this for food. But a
fresh dilemma arose in my mind. One piece of meat I had poisoned ; I was nearly
sure which it was, but supposing I made a mistake. It would be very awkward, and
I had no taste for dying all alone in knots. I again consulted my compass, and
although it pointed in exactly the opposite direction to what I considered it should
have done, I determined to give way to it, knowing that there was a canon to the
south, and that by following this in a westerly direction, I must eventually strike the
valley in which we were camped, I set out towards the south, although doubtful
whether, when I finally reached the canon, I should ever recognise the valley,
especially as night was now fast approaching. At length, seeing no signs of the
canon, I was on the point of giving it up and collecting wood for a fire ere it got
quite dark, but thought I would climb just one more ridge, from whence, after wearily
dragging myself to the top, I was delighted to recognise in the distance the rocks
I had originally endeavoured to circumvent. I now knew the country, and made the
best of my way back, arriving an hour or two after sunset, just as rifles and pistols
were being let off, and Bill was in the act of climbing a hill on which to light a
beacon. The cause of my mistake was very simple. On reaching the end of the
ridge I proposed going round, instead of turning sharply to the right, I continued
along a belt of fir-trees which connected it with another similar ridge running at an
acute angle to the original, the narrow division between the two being hidden by the
trees. Thus, when I imagined myself on the other side of the first ridge, I had in
reality passed it and got on to the outside of the second, which I continued to walk
round until striking my own trail. Had there been any sun I should, of course,
have discovered my mistake earlier. It is almost inexplicable sometimes, how, in a
short walk, one gets thoroughly turned round, on which occasion a compass is
invaluable, if you can only reconcile yourself to the fact that there is no loadstone or
other attractive mineral in the locality, and that the compass is therefore right and
you are wrong, a fact on such occasions by no means easily impressed on the mind.
As for Uncle Billie, his favourite scoff was, that if a man carried a compass it was
no wonder he got lost, though I have found him in such a predicament on the
slightest provocation, being obliged to bring him to camp, after he declared the task
to be impossible, on account of its lying in the opposite direction. The rapidity with
which one completes a circle when lost in timber is almost incomprehensible; though
you would be prepared to lay a heavy wager that your course for the last ten minutes
had been perfectly straight, yet, on examination, you will find yourself actually
standing in your tracks. The circle is as often described to the left as the right, and
the denser the timber the smaller the circle. About this period our stock of flour had
shrunk alarmingly ; so much so, that one night, principally owing to the wastefulness
of our cook, we found ourselves with nothing to eat, except one small piece of bread 34
each, not so large as one's fist, and no meat in camp ; it was, therefore, decided, that
on the morrow Uncle Billie, who knew of a house on the prairie, should proceed
there and obtain what flour he could. He thought it impossible to return the same
day, but on our impressing upon him that until he did so we should be starving,
unless, during his absence, I should strike some game, he promised to make all
possible haste.
Next morning no one had any breakfast. Uncle Billie started off on his mission,
and I in search of game, taking with me Rube, who had borrowed Uncle Billie's
rifle, though far better should we have fared had I left him behind, for the
first deer was sighted by him, while, instead of pointing it out to me, he instantly
fired at and missed it, which so exasperated me, that I told him to go his way, and I
would go mine, all day long I wandered about, not a sign of game could I find, until
finally I sought my horse, in order to return to camp ; but on reaching the spot where
we had tethered our horses in the morning, what was my disgust to find them both
gone, I fairly stamped about, was this a little joke on Rube's part ? if so, it was a
very sorry one, but I could see no earthly motive in his removing my horse, and as
no time was to be lost if I proposed to reach camp that night, I immediately set off.
Nine miles of sharp walking brought me back soon after sunset, to find that Rube, by
way of making himself useful and saving my legs, intending it possibly as a reparation for his folly in the morning, had taken my horse round to some point where he
supposed he would meet me, but, at length, concluding that I was lost, he had set to
work to fire off all Uncle Billie's cartridges; for this I was grateful, though I had
heard no report, and informed him in no measured language that a more supremely
idiotic performance could not have been enacted by any ordinary fool. We had quite
given up all hope of food for that day, and commenced to give vent to our feelings by
abusing Uncle Billie, who, we knew by this time, would have had a good dinner himself ; however, at about ten o'clock that worthy appeared with a sack of flour, and we
all went to bed satisfied. I can imagine I see an incredulous smile on the reader's
lips, but I assure him that after a twenty-four hours' fast, a piece of hot bread was
far more enjoyable to us than was to him the excellent dinner from which he has
possibly just risen ; so much for the wild life, which can so minimise luxuries, as to
cause those who have feasted off bread and coffee to say with contentment, we have
dined heartily. Next day we moved camp, and not till some days after this, did we
strike any game ; finally, I fell in with a mule deer when we fared sumptuously. Soon
after that I very narrowly escaped the accidental charge of a wounded wapiti, at which
I had made a very flukey shot, he was standing in a direct line between myself and
the setting sun ; when I raised my rifle, I could not even see the animal, but having
found nothing else throughout the day, I risked the shot, being certain that, under the
circumstance, I must have missed, had I not observed something like an antler
waving above the brush, I don't think I should have troubled further in the matter,
but my curiosity being aroused by this movement, I walked to the spot, and there lay
the wapiti, what they call in America creased, that is to say, the bullet had grazed
the neck, so affecting the spinal cord as to momentarily paralyse everything below
the wound, the animal being only able to raise his head, I stood looking at him for
a few moments, unable to account for so partial a movement, when he suddenly
regained his complete strength, dashing straight towards me, I only avoided his left
antler by a few inches, and was fortunate enough to roll him over as he galloped ^m
22B
35
away; on examining the wound caused by the first bullet, I found it to be a mere
scratch at the lower extremity of the back of the neck, beyond the penetration of the
skin, which is very thick there, the bullet had scarcely wounded the flesh, and his
head had been so damaged by fighting as to be worthless, this I found to be very
frequently the case with wapiti heads towards the end ot October. I attribute his
charging me to have been purely accidental, as his evident intention was to escape,
though I am informed that when wounded they will occasionally show fight.
CHAPTER V.
T WAS never fortunate enough to fall in with any mountain sheep, and believe them
to be extremely scarce in the big Horn. Four times we came upon fresh signs
of Buffalo, but only once saw any, and then as ill luck would have it, we were
moving camp, when L., who was in front, called out to say she could see a Buffalo
and Calf close by, but Uncle Billie was at that moment so engrossed in letting off a
string of oaths at the top of his voice at a horse, which, with its pack had become
jammed between two trees, that ere I could get near them, the Buffalo were scared
away to take refuge in the dense timber, hundreds and hundreds I  observed at
gsBC^T^JfiSre
different times lying dead in every direction, in all stages of decomposition, some
having been killed but a year before, many having evidently been destroyed out of
mere wantonness. A very few years hence, and except for perhaps one far distant
herd and a few stragglers, the Buffalo will be extinct; it seems almost incredible that
in so short a time, such vast numbers could have been slaughtered, but it is by no
means a timid animal, and is easily approached, except possibly in the now isolated
condition in which it finds itself, where the wood is its only safety. I feel sure that
the Wood Bison, as it is termed in America, is not a distinct variety as is generally
supposed, but is simply the ordinary Buffalo, which, in its lonely and persecuted
D  2 36
condition, has sought the wooded lands as a source of protection, but I can lay claim
to little experience on the subject. One afternoon on returning to camp, I observed
what struck me, probably in my ignorance of such matters, as a peculiar phenomenon,
it was just before sunset, on a piece of prairie, when I saw what resembled a white
star fall straight in front of me, after falling about three parts of the distance towards
the earth, it burst into red fragments, which remained perceptible for three seconds,
apparently much nearer than is usually the case with falling stars, this occurred in
broad daylight, and probably could be readily explained by an astronomer, but
astronomy being among the many sciences upon which I am utterly ignorant, it
appeared to me very unusual. On arriving in camp that evening, I found that L.
who had been out on her own account, had successfully stalked and wounded, but
failed to kill a wapiti. A day or two later, Uncle Billie returned from another
foraging expedition into the prairie, with the sad news of the untimely death of a
man with whom in former years I had been intimate, but latterly, our paths had led
in different directions, until we again fell in with one another on the train from New
York, both bent on the same errand, both having engaged the same hunter, and
singularly enough, the same Buckboard for the same day ; in each particular he had
been more successful than I, who was accordingly delayed some days, and lost a
good hunter, being supplied with the wretched substitute who now blurted out the
melancholy news: " your friend has been and killed his self." " What, shot,"
I exclaimed, " no, fell over a canon," and true enough it was as I afterwards heard
from his hunter, Bob Stewart, one of the best of the profession in the district, who
superintended the outfit, he informed me that the whole trip had been but
a chapter of accidents, from the day when all his horses were stolen at the
start, until the last fatal hunt. This melancholy event cast a gloom over
our camp for many a day. When Bob Stewart fell in with us, he was on
his way to collect two wapiti heads which had been killed shortly before
the accident, and as he thought it probable that there would be bears about,
I arranged to accompany him. Immediately on hearing my intention, Uncle Billie,
who when asked to go shortly before, had complained of being tired, straightway
forgot his fatigue and prepared to accompany us. It was late in the afternoon, and we
had a long ride before us. However, Bob Stewart's pace was a very different one to
what Uncle Billie had accustomed me to, causing my lame old horse to scramble and
blunder along in the most uncomfortable manner. Shortly before reaching the spot
where the wapiti were, we came in sight of three mule deer bucks, all with good
heads, but for fear of disturbing a bear, should one be at the carcases, I refrained
from shooting at them, though I afterwards wished I had not done so, for the bears
had finished every atom of flesh off the wapiti, and all Bob Stewart could recover,
were the bare antlers which we cut in two and packed. It was now quite dark, and
much against Uncle Billie's wish, Bob Stewart persisted in taking a short cut back to
camp. I have little doubt, but that his whole aim in so doing was to scare Uncle
Billie, in which he undoubtedly succeeded, but it came hardest on me, who being so
indifferently mounted, ran far greater risks than he. It was the worst ride I ever
endured; until then, I never realized of what a horse was capable in the way of
precipitous climbing, where his nose appeared of as much service as his legs. I was
honestly thankful to reach camp, for such a ride in daylight was by no means what
I should select—even as a short cut—while the darkness and utter want of knowledge 37
of the ground, made it decidedly alarming.    An ordinary fall I had little objection to,
but one on such an occasion meant death, as the Indians happily put it.
SSsw
Bob Stewart and the remainder of his outfit left us next day, when we also moved
camp. I had lately been searching for mountain sheep, but most unsuccessfully—a
sun dried skull or two being the only indication of their past existence, though whilst
thus engaged, I discovered that I had been hitherto wasting my time by hunting for
mule deer in the timber and valleys, where I only found does and young bucks ;
whereas, when I took to the high ridges of rocks, there was no scarcity of old bucks
with fine heads, a few of which I wished to take home with me. One day after a
stiff climb over rocky ground, I came on the fresh signs of a buffalo, but while
unsuccessfully searching for him, I disturbed seven mule deer all with grand heads ;
I judged as nearly as I could where they were likely to halt, and making a long
detour, I proposed to surprise them from behind some rocks. In an hour's time, on
creeping up and looking over the rocks they were nowhere in view, but I saw' below
me one with a large head, laying down facing me, but in such a position, that it
became a matter of calculation how to direct a bullet fatally—without damaging his
head or neck. The only spot where a successful shot could be placed was in the
chest, this I essayed to do, but aimed too low. The deer immediately arose and
galloped off, being apparently only damaged in the hind fetlock, which was broken.
I gave him the second barrel "on his way down the hill, I could see the bullet, as I
then supposed, strike some hair off his back, but I afterwards found it had cut a chip
out of the base of one antler, which I had mistaken for hair. The firing had disturbed
the others, which now streamed out of the corner of some fallen timber hard by, I
immediately set to work to examine the spot where the deer had lain. Being soon satisfied
that he was more seriously wounded than in the foot, as shown by the free sprinkling of
blood, capable of conveying this impression to a greater novice than myself, I instantly
set off on his trail, clearly indicated by the blood. Had I been more experienced I
should at any rate have allowed time for him to have laid down and stiffened a bit, which a
deer after being seriously wounded, takes the earliest opportunity of doing, if undisturbed,
and should you badly wound such game towards evening, and are not a great way from 38
camp, it is best to postpone following the trail till next day, when, if you do not find him
dead, he will, at any rate, be very stiff and unwatchful, whereas, by immediately
following, you will probably give yourself a long and possibly unfruitful chase, for
even if he has time to lie down, his senses being keenly on the alert, render approach,
as long as he has strength to run, nearly impossible. So I found it in the present
instance, only the merest chance delivering him into my hands. I followed the
fresh trail, freely indicated by blood, for an hour, during which time the blood had
gradually lessened, until at length I was unable to distinguish his further course, and,
with a heavy heart, bent my steps towards the spot where I had left my horse. After
about three-quarters of an hour's walk along a valley I suddenly came upon fresh
blood, with which the long grass was smeared. This, of course, was my deer; what
luck! I followed the trail leading up the hill, where it was clearly perceptible, but
it immediately vanished on gaining level ground, then I again found it on another
incline, only to be once more lost on the flat. Nor could I succeed in finding it any
more, for the country all around was flat, and the blood only flowed while climbing
upwards. I was now on the point of giving up the chase for a second time, when it
occurred to me that the deer appeared to have been making for a small- strip of
timber about a quarter of a mile distant, situated immediately under a precipitous
ridge of rocks. This I determined to search. I, therefore, with the greatest caution,
avoiding every stick or twig in my path, traversed the entire length of the wood,
when, just as I reached the end, up he started, making for the open country, when I
succeeded in lodging a bullet this time in the right position. I now examined the
result of my former efforts, and discovered that the first bullet had struck the lower
portion of the chest, cutting it open for six inches in length, and half-an-inch deep.
The bullet had then passed through the hind fetlock, which had been doubled under
the body. The second shot had simply chipped the base of the antler. I detached
the head, which was a good one, and hung up some meat on a tree. I observed
while thus occupied that this deer had been more fortunate on some former occasion,
having saved his life at the expense of his tail, the absence of which had apparently
been caused by a rifle bullet. Then, with the head on my shoulders, I started to
find my horse, congratulating myself on an unusual stroke of luck. As it had now
begun to snow heavily it was with difficulty I found my way. The horse I could not
see at the distance of ten yards, so dense was the snow and fog. A similar atmospheric disorder is liable to take place at any time in these regions, giving the hunter
but slight warning, thereby necessitating the utmost caution and careful observation
of the localities through which he traverses. It is always well for him to tether his
horse in some open and well-defined spot. Cold work I found it riding back to camp,
with so unhandy an article to carry as a deer's head, but a hearty meal and a scorching
fire quickly presented the day's hunt in nothing but the most glowing colours, and I
slept that night thoroughly contented with my lot. Small lakes we occasionally met
with abounding in trout, which were either on the verge of starvation, or, what is
more probable, out of season. We caught them at each cast, and at length L. (having
flicked every vestige of feather off her fly) discovered that this loss made not the
slightest difference, for the fish rose and seized the bare hook on every opportunity
I think the lakes we tried contained no large fish, three-quarters of a pound being the-
limit to their weight ; but, though ill-conditioned, they made an agreeable change in
our diet, and were thoroughly appreciated. 39
CHAPTER   VI.
'"PHE next move we made was on to a piece of prairie land in the centre of the
mountains, well stocked with antelopes, here I procured a couple of heads,
one of which was a young buck, with horns no more than two inches long, having
the prettiest little face I think I ever saw on an animal, but alas, the expression
was entirely lost in the setting up. Antelope, like lynxes, are most inquisitive
animals, their reckless curiosity may frequently be taken advantage of by the
hunter, who can attract them to within shot by the judicious waving of a coloured
handkerchief, or any peculiarly unusual and unalarming movement.
About a week later I sighted three buffaloes, which, after endless manoeuvring on
my part, in order to ensure a shot, proved to be nothing more important than three
cows strayed from some ranche, the only other event of interest was the wounding,
and eventual loss of a wapiti carrying by far the finest head I had come across,
'tis ever so, even when fishing, the monster, real or imaginary escapes us.
We remained on the mountains until about the middle of November, by which
time the weather had become decidedly unsettled, and a threatening snowstorm
indicated serious inconvenience should we delay our departure, therefore, with deep
regret that the end was at hand, Uncle Billie was desired to lead the way into the
valley. We had threaded the entire length of the Big Horn, and were within a day's
ride of the valley. Not having a thermometer with me I can give no exact idea ot
the temperature, beyond that from first entering the mountains, occasional snow
fell to the depth of five inches, except once or twice, when the storm lasted for two
and three days, on which occasion the snow though deep, was quickly dispersed by
the hot sun which followed. The water was invariably frozen in our tent during
the night, the cold being at times severe; especially on one occasion when in the
teeth of a strong wind we were all thoroughly exposed, and lost on a bleak ridge
of rocks. The only inconvenience we found from the frost, was that of having
our faces surrounded by a ridge of ice on the blankets at night. The scenery
throughout was wildly picturesque and grand, with canons of such formations as
to render the crossing of them without a guide impossible, a detour of ten miles
being frequently necessary to reach a particular trail. A party in our vicinity
managed to arrive at the bottom of one of these canons, but by no possible means
did they find themselves able, either to return by the way they had entered, or
escape on the other side, the upshot being that their hunter was forced to seek the
aid of some one acquainted with the locality to extricate the outfit, which remained
imprisoned many days. I carried a pocket aneroid, which, except for ascertaining
the height of some of the mountains, I found of little service. I think, like myself, the
queer places in which it frequently found itself, caused it to become what they term
turned round. A day's ride of thirty-five miles landed us well into the valley, where
little was to be observed except rugged upheavals of red clayey earth, traversed by
huge cracks of considerable depth, and impassable except in certain places.
Antelopes and coyotes appeared plentiful. The following day found us on our way
to Mr. F.'s Home Ranche on Powder River. White-tailed deer in the low lands
amongst the cotton trees, and along the banks of the river, were frequently met
with, but all I saw were either does or fawns.    We now and then caught a glimpse 40
of a cotton-tailed rabbit, and skulking coyote, being entertained throughout the day
by watching the antics of innumerable prairie dogs, which are said to share their
burrow in harmony with an owl and a rattlesnake, the former I have frequently
seen perched at the entrance of the hole, but the harmonious presence of the latter,
will remain open to serious doubt in my mind until I am fortunate enough to
witness it for myself. I also think it probable that the owls I saw were the sole
tenants of the holes over which they stood guard. We were much disappointed
on reaching the Ranche to find Mr. F. had departed for England, after leaving
such instructions as provided for us a most hospitable reception. Here Uncle
Billie and the other two men were paid off, nor was I sorry to see the last of the
incompetent old idiot, though I heard he was considerate enough to give me a
good character at parting.
In two days time we left for Powder River Crossing, from whence the stage starts
for the railway. While at the Ranch I made the acquaintance of jackass rabbits,
most ridiculous looking animals, more hare than rabbit, with legs about two inches
too long for them. On being scared they give one the impression of every limb being
broken and flying in all directions about their bodies. On reaching Powder River
Crossing, we found we should be obliged to wait a couple of days, all seats in the
next stage being engaged. During this interval I had an opportunity of studying
that odd mixture of good nature and recklessness called a Cow Boy, whose only object
in life appeared to be to spend his well earned money on drink, into which he
invariably puts a small spoonful of salt. While engaged in this occupation I think
he is best avoided. I have seen a party of seven or eight dash up to a saloon yelling
like wild Indians, throw themselves off their horses, enter the saloon, and commence
to play dice for drinks, until not another drop could be induced to remain down their
throats. On one occasion I joined in their game and was thankful when they were
full, being compelled, in order to keep up with the play, to swallow nine glasses of
beer when I only wanted one. Cow Boys are, I should say, composed of a
collection of men from every position in life ; some of them, fine, handsome, and
evidently well bred, others, thorough looking scoundrels. I met there the son of an
English nobleman, who had chosen the profession of a Cow Boy ; he appeared to me
but little over twenty, and I could not but admire him for his pluck and endurance in
sticking to such a life of danger and hardship.
Powder River Crossing being anything but an interesting place wherein to spend
over five minutes, we were much relieved when on the third day the stage was ready
to convey us over a wearisome journey. This part of the proceedings is the only
drawback to a hunting trip in the Big Horn, and I thoroughly dread it. This time
we were crowded, being five in all, where there was bare accommodation for four, the
fifth being obliged to settle himself on the baggage. The journey was even more
trying than the former, being double the distance with the weather much colder, a
considerable quantity of snow falling during the first day and night; however, with
the exception of occasional stoppages for change of horses and refreshments, we
retained our cramped positions until the second day, when we completed the two
hundred miles in a covered conveyance but little superior in accommodation to a
four-wheeled cab. The only variation in the monotony being at one spot where a
little shooting had taken place, and where we were greeted on pulling up by a cheery
voice shouting out,  evidently with much satisfaction,   1 More shooting to-night." 4i
A man lay on the floor of the saloon recently shot through the heart, they said it was
all right. He was a notorious bully, and the successful sportsman had therefore
given himself up and would be released as soon as possible. I asked what he would
have done had it not been all right. They said " Oh, he would have moved off," in
which case he would have been equally all right.
Throughout the last day nothing could be seen but a vast expanse of snow, with
an occasional upright stick to indicate the road. A few days later and we should
have been skimming along in a sleigh, but as usual when first required they were
not in readiness, while the going had become so heavy, that every prospect of a
breakdown was apparent, however, everything has an end, and finally we pulled up
at Rock Creek in time to avoid being permanently crippled for life, and were able
after a little to stretch ourselves almost straight again. It was late in the evening
when we sought a bed at the hotel, being duly accommodated with a room constructed by three walls, the fourth (composing part of the side of a passage through
the house) consisted of a movable curtain. I forget if there was a bed, but in such
localities that article, if it does exist, is best avoided.
The following is a list of trophies, the result of our hunt; one grizzly bear, five
mule deer (best head twenty points), six wapiti (best head seventeen points), two
antelope, one badger, two red foxes, two cross foxes, one marten, one prairie dog.
The following are to be obtained in the Big Horn, grizzly, black and cinnamon
bears, wapiti, mule deer, (white tail deer in the valley), buffalo (rare), bighorn (rare),
antelope, foxes (silver, red and cross), coyotes, badgers, marten, wolves, &c. When
considering the result of these two months' hunting it must be borne in mind that
I was comparatively a novice in the art, hindered considerably by relying on a
perfect idiot for a hunter, under less disadvantageous circumstances, with like
opportunities, doubtless bighorn and buffalo, with additional bears would have been
added to the list. On leaving the mountains, being reduced to nil in respect to
money, I was most agreeably surprised to find with what remarkable confidence
utter strangers would cash my cheques, I can only imagine that living so far out of
the world, they were ignorant of the extent to which dishonesty is practised therein,
any way, their blind confidence and good nature enabled us to reach Cheyenne,
where, through Mr. F., I obtained what further advance was required to provide for
travelling expenses to New York, where in due time we found ourselves. It was
wonderful, though not gourmands at heart, how such a life as we had been leading
caused us to thoroughly appreciate a civilised dinner again, but not having at the
time of writing this, immediately returned from a hunt, I must confess to being
very much disappointed with American oysters. Having heard so much of their
excellence and cheapness, I had promised myself an occasional feast, whereby I
could appease the natural craving for such luxuries, without the disagreeable feeling
that I was living above my income, though by the by, I never experienced much
annoyance that way. Cheap they were and as large as could be desired, but quite
tasteless, appearing as though their natural home was in fresh instead of salt water,
it was usually with relief that I caused the last of half-a-dozen to disappear. I much
prefer the inferior classes of British or French to the ordinary American oyster. Whilst
on the subject it might be well to insert a word of warning against the liqueurs of
America. I am under the impression that it is absolutely impossible to obtain the
genuine article there, including champagnes, and possibly it is the same with other 42
wines, which, like their jams, may be manufactured from turnips variously
flavoured for aught I know to the contrary. My experience has been obtained in
the leading New York Hotels, where the only alcoholic drinks I sought were
champagnes and liqueurs ; the former I could not procure even moderately dry or
good, the latter, though I tried many varieties, appeared composed of sweetened
spirits of wine, flavoured according to label. At length, as a last resource, I enquired
if they had any genuine imported benedictine ; they replied, yes, they had. I ordered
some ; result—spirits of wine most successfully coloured and flavoured. I demanded
to see the bottle, in that I knew I could not be mistaken, it was placed before me with
dignity, being apparently a common Port wine bottle, with no attempted resemblance
to the quaint shaped receptacle of the genuine article sealed with the well-known
DOM. After this final effort, I stuck to beer, which is undoubtedly good, though if am
to believe my informant as to the ingredients in its composition, a more unwholesome
beverage scarcely exist, a large quantity of resin being employed in its composition.
America is the only place where I have not at some period or other hit on a good
American cheese; apparently, they export all that are fit to eat, retaining the refuse
for home use; once when cheese was ordered during dinner, the waiter being anxious
to know if we would take Cheshire, Cheddar, or Gloucester, as there were three of us
we ordered some of each, they appeared, evidently all cut from the same piece of
indifferent American. After this I used to ask for American cheese, but the waiter
usually looked scandalized, being apparently unaware that such an article existed in
the establishment.
Our first object after reaching an hotel, was to engage berths in the next Liverpool
boat, for we found little pleasure in prowling about New York. I formerly thought a
greasy Frenchman with an irritable throat a disgusting object, but he is nowhere
when compared with an American, who makes a pastime of a filthy practice. When I
used to see the boots of a large American hotel engaged some three or four times a
day in sprinkling saw-dust over, and then sweeping the hall floor, it reminded me
of a similar process enacted by the attendants in a Spanish bull-ring, only that in the
latter case, the object was to staunch the blood of an animal, while in the former, the
same office is performed on the expectoration of two-legged beasts. The behaviour
of Americans in this respect, on occasions when their grand equality necessitates
their undesirable presence being forced on one in a railway car, is positively too
sickening and unendurable. I once saw a notice stuck up in a miserable little
railway station in Virginia, worded as follows : " Gentlemen, please not to spit on the
floor, and oblige your friends the ladies." It had evidently been read, and taken to
heart by the only person present, who was complacently spitting into a basket of hens
eggs as a substitute. We eventually found ourselves on the deck of the Servin,
heading for Liverpool; the passage being quite uneventful, though the vessel did her
utmost to make things lively for us, by indulging in a totally unwarrantable amount of
rolling, finally landing us in Liverpool in about the usual time.
Home is always a welcome sound in one's ears, even though the greatest fascinations are left to return to it once more. In taking leave of America, we had also, we
believed, said good-bye for ever to all sports such as we had lately enjoyed, yet, at the
moment of landing, the prospect of reaching home once more surmounted every other
desire in our minds, and a few nights later would have found us comfortably seated
over the smoking-room fire, where " thrice we slew the slain." PART   III.
CHAPTER I.
"HP IS an ill wind which blows good to no one, and under its influences in April,
1886,1 once more found myself on the broad Atlantic. My object, as formerly,
was sport, though the cause which necessitated another visit to America was the
arrival of a climax which few have the luck to experience more than once in a lifetime. In short, my financial exchequer, the constitution of which had been seriously
undermined years before, after gradually sinking, suffered a final relapse, with the
result that my place was let for two years and I, preferring a life in the great North-
West to a doleful existence in England, now found myself en route for Vancouver
Island, where those who cared to might occasionally drop me a line which would
eventually reach me with the customary esquire on the envelope transformed into
trapper. There were now four of us, B., a friend, having volunteered to share our
exile, and Fred, who had been my underkeeper for many years, I had decided should
make one of the party on account of his keen desire for wild sport, and the confidence I thought I could place in him, combined with an earnest appeal on his own
behalf to share our fortunes. To our fellow passengers we doubtless appeared as
the customary tourists on a holiday trip, but what a vast difference to one's own
feelings made the fact of absence from home being so to speak compulsory, the
continual remembrance that for two years one is to be an exile, the very idea of being
no longer my own master, cast a shade over the otherwise glorious opportunity
for the wildest of hunting, for we had determined to penetrate where none but
Indians had yet ventured. As I stood gazing across the sea the load which had so
long weighed on my mind, seemed simply transferred to the heart. 'Twas only the
feeling of home-sickness, which most schoolboys have experienced ; it is with them of
short duration, but in after years has a disagreeable tendency to cling. We should
have sailed in a White Star boat, but at the last moment a flaw being discovered in
her shaft, the Bothnia was removed from dock, where she had lain for the last
year, and hurriedly equipped for the voyage, the result being much dirt and discomfort particularly in the steerage, where Fred had a rough time of it. Being much
crowded, temporary bunks had been erected which, during a storm, gave way in the
night, precipitating some sixty naked and partially dressed females on to the floor, such
a yelling, and screaming, and praying to the Holy Virgin, except in the event of a
veritable shipwreck, had seldom been heard. The food, Fred told me, was simply
atrocious, the old hands, never having been so badly treated on any previous trip,
were full of abuse, and one heard alarming threats of letters to the papers, which
I conclude  never found  themselves  in print.    We  had  taken  through tickets in. 44
London, a grave mistake as we afterwards discovered, for on reaching New York,
owing to a railway warfare we might but for this, have travelled the whole way to
San Francisco for twenty dollars each, whereas we were obliged to stick to the
Northern Pacific Railway. The Canadian Pacific was not quite completed at that
period. On arriving in Victoria I was much struck by the civility of its officials,
which bore a marked contrast to the officious impertinence of the Americans, and
gave one a feeling of being once more amongst British subjects. We remained two
days at the Driard Hotel, which is conducted somewhat on the American system,
and is in all respects an excellent hotel. Fred having successfully disposed of two
hats, one in the Atlantic, and the other in the Pacific, was told to purchase another
with plenty of brim, to screen him from the hot summer sun, but what was our
horror to find him later on proudly parading the streets of Victoria in a spacious
article, which, worn as he wore it, would have successfully added the finishing touch
to a fifth of November Guy. There was nothing particularly alarming in the hat
itself if properly worn by an ordinary sized man, but Fred, apparently with a view of
suiting his own peculiar style of beauty, had so contorted the brim as to render his
appearance truly ridiculous, such was the object which presented himself to be
admired in his newly purchased man's hat, though, as he stood between four and five
feet high, nothing above his shoulders was visible to the grinning passers by save a
large grotesquely twisted white felt wideawake, which proved such a tempting bait to
an ever vigilant reporter, that he hastily plied his satirical pen with such promptitude
that the small world of Victoria was early informed, by reading the papers on the
morrow, that a novel description of Cow Boy had arrived, who was eagerly enquiring
as to the whereabouts of wild Indians. No doubt this was highly gratifying to Fred,
but scarcely the style of notoriety desired by us.
In Victoria we were introduced to Mr. Duncan, whom B. had previously met in
England, and upon whom we relied for information as to the best hunting districts.
He was then returning to his Principality at Metlakahtla, having been on a protracted
visit to England. In a couple of days we all embarked on the Boscowitz, the most
miserable, dirty little steamer imaginable. She is registered to accomplish the passage
to Fort Simpson, a few miles beyond Metlakahtla, once a month; she starts at no regular
date, and takes her own time, her average speed being five or six knots an hour. It
was night when we went on board, and the first discovery we made in the morning
was that the cabin swarmed with cockroaches, which are repulsive enough when
occasionally found in the kitchen, but almost unendurable as bed-fellows, in fact, L.
declined to sleep in the cabin again, preferring the saloon-table for the next few
nights, until someone found her a hammock. At breakfast the food was so badly
cooked and appeared so uninviting, that it was with difficulty we could induce "one
another to partake of anything, though on our three later trips things were much
improved, while the captain exerted himself in every way to make us as comfortable as
lay in his power under the circumstances, invariably treating us in the most courteous
manner.
The voyage we found tedious and monotonous to a degree, chiefly owing to the
slow pace and long delays. In two days we penetrated fairly into the rainy regions.
I doubt if anyone who has not experienced it, can form a notion of the amount of rain
that falls along the North Pacific Coast. The contrast within three days of Victoria,
which we left in brilliant sunshine, being dismal in the extreme, each day now brought its allowance of rain and mist.   Our vessel was crowded ; the saloon with prospectors
and adventurers, one of the latter offered to accommodate us with untold luxuries,
including one of his three schooners, together with a boat and hunters, all to be provided gratis out of his bountiful good nature, though we afterwards discovered that
he actually possessed none of these three commodities which he so freely offered, all
that he could in reality  lay   claim  to  being one  or two   schemes,   which,   with
a little ready money, under his supervision might, according to his own account,
easily be worked into a considerable fortune.    I felt deeply obliged to this gentleman
for all his generous offers, and especially for the subsequent uncalled-for interest he
evidently took in my private pecuniary affairs.    The remainder of the boat was filled
with all sorts and conditions of men and women, including several Indians, one of
whom was dead, having been bundled on board in the dark in a dying condition by
her relations, in order that she might be buried in her village.    After passing through
the Straits  of Georgia, and threading our course among innumerable little islands,
which, but for the weather, would have conveyed a lasting impression of beauty,
we emerged into the North Pacific Ocean, leaving Vancouver Island on our left.
Here there is always a heavy swell even on the calmest day, and I should be sorry to
experience  a gale  in   such  a   position  on  the Boscowitz,  whose  back we  were
told was already  broken,  through  too close  an   acquaintance  with  a sandbank;
but such trifles are little heeded in this part of the world, and  she will probably
run so long as her two extremities remain connected, and when they don't, a considerable disaster will be the result.    On leaving the North Pacific Ocean we wended
our way through Millbank Sound, among crowds of islands.    Not far from here is
what they term a Rookery, consisting of a small island of bare rocks, upon which
sea lions repose in hundreds, there during May and June they repair to breed, and
are easily procured while basking, but an express rifle is very necessary, for if not
killed dead they slide off the rocks into the sea and are lost.    I much regretted
having no opportunity of visiting this spot.    Seals and sea lions were now frequently
seen, usually asleep, with their hind flippers stuck up in the air, their noses apparently
resting between them.    Occasionally a sea otter was pointed out, but I am unable
to verify this, and owing to the scarcity of the animal so far south, I rather doubt if I
saw one.   A humming bird would sometimes dart past us, so quickly as to be scarcely
distinguishable from some large insect, and  twice a sandpiper perched on board.
Porpoises surrounded us in numbers, whilst occasionally a shoal of some sort of fish
would pass, floundering about with their backs out of water, a crowd of gulls swooping amongst them.    I conclude both were feeding on some, to me invisible object.
Now and then a salmon would leap forth, and quantities of sedate bald-headed or (as
I prefer to call them) white-headed eagles stood guard  over their nests, built in the
cedars along the shore.    Great northern divers took fright and fled on our approach,
or flew high over head, uttering their peculiar wild cry.    Booby ducks allowed us to
approach close to them, and many  other sorts of wild fowl could be discerned,
amongst which was noticeable a small sort of diver, which appeared unable to get
fairly on the wing until it had bounced up and down on the water, like a piece of
.slate thrown flat side downwards, making ducks and drakes.    I have noticed these
birds strike the water from the height of four or more feet, several times within fifty
yards before considering themselves safely poised for a decided flight, though possibly
I may be mistaken in their object of thus bounding. 46
A more trying coast to navigate than that along which we had passed, and were
yet to traverse would be difficult to find; while the man who can safely steer his
vessel through all the intricate passages, some of which, at certain stages of the tide,
owing to the fury of the currents are impassable, must be from long experience,
intimately acquainted with every visible object, having the whole coast pictured in
his mind, with far greater accuracy than could be depicted by any chart; of course
during a fog, navigation is impossible. We shortly crept up the Granville Canal, so
noted twenty-five years back, for the frequent and bloody murders committed by the
Indians on every white man they found unprotected in the locality ; even at this time
I abandoned a proposed hunt a little farther south, Mr. Duncan assuring me that he
thought we ran considerable risk by being such a small party ; a warning, the
importance of which was exemplified a year later, by the brutal murder of an entire
party of whites.
CHAPTER   II.
/^~\N the seventh day after leaving Victoria, we landed at Metlakahtla, where
^^^ Mr. Duncan was warmly welcomed home by his Indians. The whole town
turned out. The band played, and very creditably too. Cannons were repeatedly
fired, during which marvellous to relate, only one Indian blew himself up.    Within
half-an-hour all repaired to the church, a fine and
imposing edifice, doing great credit to the architect,
Mr. Duncan, and his workmen, the Indians. What
the nature of the service was, being in Indian, we-
could not discern, but concluded it to have been a
thanksgiving for safe return. Over Metlakahtla,
Mr. Duncan reigned pre-eminent in conjunction
with a council of the most prominent inhabitants
of the thousand, who compose the population, all
being reduced to the strictest state of order and
utility by the indomitable pluck and labour of their
ruler. It is not my intention to offer an opinion
on the deadly feud existing between the Bishop's
party and Mr. Duncan, for having heard but
one side of the apparent persecution, such an
opinion could only be worthless. Nevertheless,
Mr. Duncan has my sincerest sympathy, and I am at a loss to conceive how any
enlightened person entering his little house, consisting of but two rooms, fitted with
the bare necessaries of life, whilst bearing in mind that his whole existence has
been devoted entirely to the arduous task of converting wild savages into useful and
Silver Brooch representing ancient legend. Mi
47
law abiding subjects, can accuse him of acting otherwise than in the interest of his
people, denying himself even the most casual comforts. True, he has scandalised
and excited the wrath of the Church Missionary Society, to which he formerly
belonged, by, to my mind most justly and conscientiously, refusing to be ordained
in order that he should wear vestments and administer the sacrament, for, as he truly
states, such a proceeding would only place him in the light of a God in the dim
intellects of the Indians, while the sacrament being at present incomprehensible to
them, would but renew some superstition similar to those, which he has been so long
in effectually destroying. No sooner had we become settled, than a devoted member
of the Church Missionary Society, with a clerical friend, (who had been sent out
during Mr. Duncan's absence, to investigate what they termed the disgraceful
doings at Metlahahtla), came to the Indian house where we were, and poured forth
their case against Mr. Duncan. It did not in the least interest, but exceedingly
disgusted us, as we were busy packing, and they delayed us for two hours with their
narrow-minded Christian ideas, finally adding the last straw by stating that it was
utterly impossible to deal with an Indian to the advantage of mankind in general,
without the early administration of the sacrament. What I should like to know is
conveyed to an Indian's mind by eating small pieces of bread and drinking something
he probably likes ? Unless it be that he will look forward to his next feed. This may
appear blasphemous, but show me the Indian who thoroughly comprehends the
meaning of the administration of the sacrament; I doubt not that you will spend the
remainder of your life in unsuccessfully seeking him. But Mr. Duncan holds a strong
position, and I question if his worst enemies can reach him. His government is sound
and he refrains from overdosing his Indians with the Christian religion, considering
church once during the week and twice on Sunday sufficient, while by common sense
views he rules those about him in such a manner as to ensure strict obedience to
the law, at the same time rendering all who are good for anything capable of earning
their own livelihood in an honest way. Those who visit Metlakahtla will marvel at
the orderly manner in which the inhabitants conduct themselves ; I doubt if any
English village of equal size furnishes her constables with so little work as this
model Indian town, which is unique in the cleanliness of its houses, every family
having their own separate abode. I look upon Mr. Duncan as nothing short of a
hero, who in former days forced himself fearlessly among the very savages by whom
he is now peaceably surrounded, exposing himself to assassination at every turn, not
even daring to man his canoe except with boys. For years his life might have been
taken at any moment, as was that of nearly every white man who ventured on the
coast unless adequately protected. Many are the harrowing details of attrocities
committed by the Indians with whom he is now peacefully connected, the recitals
of which have entertained me for hours together. One day while sitting in his little
room, a rather more than usually repulsive looking Indian entered. | That man,"
said Mr. Duncan, " when I first came here was a cannibal, he used to rush about
naked, proudly lifting his legs like a high stepping horse, being apparently afflicted
with some description of madness, in this state he would bite chunks of flesh from
women's arms, many are to be seen in Metlakahtla with a scar caused by the absence
of the flesh so abstracted. It was supposed at such times that a great god of the
mountains demanded flesh, on which occasions when anyone died, no matter of what
disease, this man, accompanied by one or two others, would devour the corpse on the 48
beach while surrounded by the tribe. I have seen them," continued Mr. Duncan,
" tear the bodies in pieces with their teeth, the flesh gradually disappearing, until
nothing but the skeleton remained, I do not believe that they swallowed the flesh,
though I was never able to observe by what mysterious process it disappeared."
Old Spoon Carved out of Goat's Horn.
i
CHAPTER III.
TTAVING discussed the advisability of proceeding into Alaska, we concluded that
the summer being so far advanced (it was then the ioth of May), we had best
abandon the idea for the present at any rate, as the bears would be out of season
in a month at latest, we therefore consulted Mr. Duncan as to the nearest spot for
sport, and at his suggestion decided on a three weeks trip up the Skeena; thus the
day succeeding our arrival in Metlakahtla found us on our way to that river, indeed
we were in such haste as to leave Mr. Duncan insufficient time to pick a suitable
crew for us, taking the first four Indians to hand, a proceeding I had ultimate cause
to regret, being occasioned considerable trouble in consequence. As Mr. Duncan
truly remarked on our return, " There are black sheep in every fold," but that, had
we allowed him time, he would have found us a good and reliable set of Indians.
The usual pay for these Indians on a hunting trip was a dollar a day in cash and
their food, the captain, as he is termed, receiving half a dollar a day extra for the
canoe, but after my first experience I discovered that to provide an Indian with food
was a mistake, it usually took him ten days to fill up, during which period he ate as
much as three ordinary men, but at the expiration of about the tenth day he would
feed more rationally. We amply provisioned our crew for three weeks with flour,
rice, bacon, sugar, tea and baking powder, in sufficient quantities to have lasted a
month, but at the end of a fortnight they had eaten nearly everything, and ran upon
our private store for the remainder of the time. It was astonishing- to observe the
quantity they consumed without appearing satisfied, and I believe they could eat
steadily for nine out of the twelve hours of the day ; however, in future I always paid
them a quarter of a dollar a day each in lieu of food, and then I had fears lest they
would starve themselves, for should an Indian die in your employ it becomes a
serious matter, in so much as you are expected to pay his full value to his family;
when, therefore, I found that they simply provided themselves with a very limited
supply of flour, tea, and rice, of which they ate scarcely sufficient to support life,
a dead Indian or two on my hands appeared the probable result; but they are very
tough, and would thrive, I fancy, where a white man would starve ; however, on the 49
first game I killed they gorged themselves sufficiently to last a week. It was a five
days' journey to the place where we intended making our permanent camp, the
distance being not over fifty miles up the Skeena, but our progress was slow and
tedious against the strong stream with no wind to aid us. On about the third night
after camping, Fred, who had been on the prowl, called out to me, " Sir, here's a wild
beast up a tree." Anticipating the capture of a bear at least, I seized my rifle and
hurried to the spot. The night was dark, but after peering about I discovered a black
object close to the trunk of a tree some fifteen yards up. Whether it was the head
of a bear or not I was unable to make out; however, pointing my rifle as accurately
as possible (for to see the muzzle in such a light was out of the question) I fired.
Nothing fell, but something went further up ; so I tried another shot, this time with
better success, for the object came down with a thud. After striking a light, great
was our disgust to discover a dead porcupine lying on the ground. On a future
occasion I had a good opportunity for studying the peculiarities of one of these
animals, which proved itself most entertaining. Our hunter one day caught one and
brought it into camp alive. Immediately on being touched its tail, which was thick
and long, and covered with spines or quills, flew up with considerable force towards
any part of the body interfered with, leaving some six or seven quills firmly
imbedded in the hand ; and as each one was barbed in several places near the point
much hard pulling and pain was necessarily occasioned in withdrawing them. This
rapid movement of the tail, whilst being used as a weapon of defence, with the
inevitable result of impaling the enemy, I conclude originated the general and
erroneous impression, that a porcupine is in the habit of shooting its quills at the
individual molesting it. Even upon the ground or on a log where one has been,
these quills will occasionally be left behind, and fasten firmly in the legs or hands of
the next passer by. I have heard of cases of their having worked out of sight in an
Indian's body, occasioning serious after-results, the cause of the malady being
unknown, the irritation only appearing at certain intervals. Dogs suffer considerably
should they meddle with these animals, and how wolves escape I cannot say, for
undoubtedly they feed to a considerable extent on them. The American porcupine is
very different to that from which penholders are made, the latter being without tails,
whilst the quills of the former average no more than two inches in length. They
are considered good eating. We tried one, but were not much impressed with its
excellence, though to do it justice I must confess that it was out of season at the
time.
Humming birds were very plentiful
about the mouth of the Skeena,
darting hither and thither, now fizzing
by so quickly, that but for the hum
of their wings, they would have
passed unperceived. The next moment
darting from a bush, one would remain
suspended in the air while feeding, I
fancy on gnats, no movement being,
visible beyond the rapid vibration of
its wings. It seems wonderful that this tropical bird can exist here at a season
of the year when the   cold   is  occasionally severe, though  further  up the river I
-*• n
%/
5°
saw   none,  the   temperature  becoming much  keener  as  we  proceeded.    On  the
fourth day we sighted the first goat, unknown in these parts by any other name
than that of sheep, it was quickly agreed that B.   should try  his  luck with him,
and, after a short and successful stalk, he knocked over with a shot through the
chest from   below   what   proved   to  be  a   fine old  he  goat,   with   an   unusually
large and ugly face.    I have remarked a noticeable variation in size and shape of
goat faces, though the horns of two animals may be of equal sizes, and their bodies
correspond in growth, both appearing of the same age, yet one may be the possessor
of a  smart  little head and  face,  while  the  other owns that which would better
become a donkey than a goat.    On the following day we entered the mouth of a small
tributary of the Skeena, about a mile up which we proposed to establish our camp,
located   there   were  a  party  of  Indians,   who   showed   serious objections  to  our
proceeding.    Strong language was passed between them and our crew, the upshot
of which was, that we set them at defiance and proceeded up the river, but were
compelled to keep a sharp look out' on our canoe during the night, while our crew,
apparently  anticipating a  conflict, appeared   highly nervous,   and  borrowed  three
knives from us.    Thanks to our utter ignorance of the language, we had not the
remotest idea of what had been  actually said by either party, though we had no
doubt that our presence was most undesirable, finally we camped on the bank of the
small river, amongst large cedar trees, surrounded by patches of snow, with which
the country outside the timber was still covered as though in winter.    Each day we
used to paddle up the river in search of  bears and goats ;   when one was seen,
either B. or myself would stalk it.    A bear on the side of the precipitous mountains,
through which the river flows, appeared no larger than a black caterpillar, and little
wonder  if I  wearied  the   Indian who   first  tried  to  point one out  to me, for I
endeavoured to discover in the locality indicated by him some object resembling a
bear, whereas, had I sought an insect, I might have seen it sooner.    On leaving the
canoe we imagined that we could return, having obtained our prize, within the hour ;
but the first trial proved it to be a matter of some three hours heavy toil, with
nothing to bring back.    I am in ignorance whether my life has ever hung on a
thread, but I do know that the snapping of a twig no larger than a pencil would have
very frequently terminated it during this Skeena river hunting, where the footing was
continually so insecure that one could not rely on the thin layer of earth or snow
remaining under one's foot for more than four seconds, which kept the mind and eye.
pretty busy in selecting safe spots to cling to.  After rain, unless there had been a frost
during the night, should we suggest a hunt to an Indian, he looked towards the
mountain simply replying,  | Means death to  man,"   and   certainly  the  risk  was
considerable,  for  throughout  the  day  we  heard the constant roar of avalanches
crashing down the steep sides of the mountains, sometimes resembling thunder, and
at others, a party of skirmishers firing rapidly ; on casting our eyes in the direction
from which these sounds emanated, we usually observed a mighty torrent of snow
and water dashing down over the rugged rocks, and perhaps when next  out on
seeking the broad strip of snow we had crossed but two days before, we would find it
had slipped off in one mass, leaving a smooth surface of rock at such an incline as to
cause a shudder, when we recalled to mind the ease with which we were enabled, by
kicking holes with our toes, to traverse this spot, on which now not even a goat could
remain.    On leaving the Skeena, I determined that unless its mountains brought 5i
forth something far superior to goats and bears, nothing should again induce me to
balance myself over its precipices, for I am convinced that it would have been a
matter of but a short period before the fatal slip or mis-calculation occurred which
would have terminated the existence of one whose life, though dear to few, is
exceedingly valuable to himself, and who considers this too good a world to be
carelessly relinquished for a very doubtful future.
CHAPTER IV.
TN a few days we tired of this canoe work.    The weather was bitterly cold and
rainy, while   sitting   watching  for bears wliich seldom appeared, was, under
such circumstances, simple misery, so after killing a few goats we started off a day's
journey up a creek close by.    Here undoubtedly there were quantities of bears-and
goats.    The latter we left alone, not wishing to make any needless disturbance.
During one day I saw seven bears and many goats, and B. returned to camp, having
seen five bears ; but the difficulty of approaching without being either perceived or
winded by them was considerable, and in this creek we only succeeded in killing two
bears, though through sheer bad luck two more were lost, one of which had been
regarded as dead.    On the second day only two were seen, and the third day on
which we returned to camp, owing to the smoke of our fire hanging in the gulley, no
game at all was visible.    While engaged in this class of hunting a fire should only
be kindled when absolutely necessary for cooking, and even then it should be of the
smallest dimensions if the bears are expected to be found in close proximity.   Though
the enforced absence of fire in such a climate is depressing in the extreme, for what
with fording swollen creeks, and crawling over sodden snow, one passes the day from
early morning in a soaking and semi-frozen condition.    While I was stalking one of
these bears a black wolf came skulking along, but immediately on winding the bear
it turned and hurried off.    In crossing the large creek, which was about twenty yards
wide, by means of a tree felled for the purpose, I went very near getting an awkward
ducking, for when just past the middle, where a swift eddy curled, in deep water, the
tree having cracked in falling, suddenly-parted, throwing an Indian (to whom I had
confided my rifle for safety) and myself into the water.    He was in front, and fell on
his face where it was comparatively shallow, and, being instantly on his legs again,
just succeeded in grabbing me at the moment, when, owing to the strong current, I
had lost my balance, and should have been swept head-over-heels into the eddy.    As
it was I only got wet up to the waist, though quite disagreeable enough on a cold
day.    The only thing which made a decided impression on my mind at that moment
was hearing my rifle grating on the rocks at the bottom of the river ; but on examination it showed no signs of injury beyond a soaking, which had become its normal
condition of late.    We found the country about the Skeena almost impassable, the
low ground being covered with willows beaten down by the snow, and closely interwoven.    If in half an hour you succeed in working a passage through four hundred
yards of this, as often as not on your hands and knees, on emerging you are attacked
E 2 52
on all sides by a most offensive plant called the devil's club of about three-quarters of
an inch in diameter, and the most persistently obnoxious and pain-inflicting growth I
have as yet come across. It flourishes in every conceivable position : sometimes
along the ground, where it throws you down, causing you, in trying to save yourself,
to clutch at its next branch, which will be in an upright
position, and covered with the sharpest of prickles three-
quarters of an inch long. Each one you encounter
penetrates your flesh, and either breaks off or leaves its
natural position to remain with you until, at your leisure,
you extract it. They grow about six feet high, sometimes more. If you step on the lower end of one it
springs at your nose instantaneously converting that
member into a pin-cushion, whilst, as though not content with having struck you once, being very supple, it
continues to bob against your face, leaving its prickles
behind at every contact until you succeed in placing
your foot upon the stump, or otherwise avoid so pugilistic an obstacle. It seemed
to me that I never sat down on, or seized any other object, either to help me along
or to steady a tottering balance, they grow almost everywhere, except up on the
mountains, bearing in the latter part of the summer a cluster of red berries and
handsome leaves ; the only possible use of this plant, so far as I could ascertain is to enable one to return to camp with the few fluttering remnants of
clothing, which a day's hunt in such a country leaves on your person, firmly
impaled by their agency to your flesh. Supposing you have overcome these
obstacles, and desire to reach higher ground, you will find yourself climbing
over rocks, scrambling up fallen trees, or creeping under them, then suddenly disappearing up to your arms through a patch of snow, of which the crust has given
way, and if you persevere against such obstructions, for say three hours, you may
have proceeded a couple of miles from camp, in which case avoid trying a short cut
back, or you will, in all probability, find matters still more complicated.
The contemplation of ever getting about in such a country frequently made me
long for the comparatively easy slopes of the Rockies, where I could comfortably
ramble 30 miles a day, but all this is a matter of individual taste, and if any one
desires to vary the monotony of life by making a porcupine of himself with the
voluntary assistance of the devil's club, or flipping his face with stout willows, poking
broken sticks in his eyes, and slipping off trees, through snowdrifts, or over precipices, by all means let him try a hunting trip up the Skeena, where, after stemming
the strong stream for about fifty miles, let him take the first tributary on the left,
then camp a mile further on, and follow on foot the course of the first creek on the
right for four or five miles, and I will undertake to say he will meet all these variations to the customary country stroll, and also that he will not be disappointed in
finding many bears and goats in the locality. All the bears we saw here were black,
though an occasional brown one is sometimes shot, grizzlies appeared scarce, but the
Indians usually give them a wide berth. The black bears in the spring are generally
to be seen on the sides of the mountains, grubbing in the ground, feeding to a great
extent on the roots of the skunk cabbage, an exceedingly handsome plant, with a
large and peculiar shaped yellow bloom and enormous leaf, the whole possessing a 53
most offensive scent scarcely distinguishable from a mild application of the skunk.
Having been camped for twelve days, on ten of which it rained, once for three days on
end, indeed the rain in these parts is sufficient in itself to place a serious barrier in
the way of sport, and after having thoroughly hunted everything, including the
Indians out of the locality, we struck camp, steering for the coast, where our crew
informed us we could do much better. On the evening of the second day we reached
the mouth of the Skeena, and on searching for a convenient spot for camping, a by
no means easy thing to find, we came plump on a bear. As on these occasions I
always placed my rifle in readiness for such an emergency, I was out as soon as the
canoe touched land, and knocked master bruin upside down, but in a few moments
he was rapidly scaling a bank; a second barrel lodged a bullet in his back, and once
more he rolled over, falling out of sight in a hollow, from whence, on my reaching the
spot, he had entirely disappeared ; the whole crew armed with a double-barrelled
pistol, which I had foolishly left about, for we allowed none of the Indians to carry
guns, and Fred with his revolver, now set to work to hunt the dense mass of fallen
timber, and shortly, amidst yelling and shouting, the popping of Fred's revolver
proclaimed the discovery of the animal, hastily scrambling on to the high trunk of a
partially fallen tree in order to obtain a better view, I was horrified to find
that the bear was between myself and the now rapidly discharging pistols (which I
knew, from personal experience, were calculated to hit everything except the object
aimed at), and thankful I felt when the stock of ammunition failed, for I considered
the bear stood a far better chance in our relative positions, than I did, reluctantly
on account of the extra hole I should be compelled to make in his skin, I gave him
his coup de grace. Fred afterwards informed me that at one time the bear turned
on him, causing an Indian near to shin up a tree, I was not surprised at this hostile
action even on the part of so mean an animal as a black bear, when provoked by
Fred dancing on his tail, and teasing him with a revolver; while this exciting chase
was taking place, another bear occasionally showed itself about one-hundred yards
away, on an almost perpendicular ledge of rock, but so far as I am aware it still
remains at large, this occurred on the 27th of May, and evidently the bears were
losing their coats, the one just killed being almost worthless, with scarcely any under
fur remaining. Three days later we returned to Metlakahtla, being obliged to seek
a fresh crew, and with as little loss of time as possible, we made a fresh start for
some mountains in the Granville Canal, where the goats were numerous. B.
having here secured a young one on Pitt Island, returned to Port Essington, in the
hopes of rearing it by placing it under the care of an old tame goat; doubtless, this
would have proved successful, had we not been short of condensed milk, the want
of which so weakened the kid that shortly after being placed with its foster mother
it died. Up to date, the 10th of June, we had killed twelve goats and three bears.
L. and I remained a few days longer in the hopes of securing a young goat, but
though I killed two does with kids, we were unable to capture either of them. The
mountains here were far easier to get about on than those we had previously
encountered, yet these little wretches immediately on finding themselves chased,
though only about a fortnight old, took to the most precipitous spots where neither
the Indian or I dared to follow, and with sorrow on each occasion, I was compelled
to leave them to their fate, probably to fall an easy prey to either wolf or eagle, 54
plenty of which prowled or circled around, during these few days I came across the
frequent fresh tracts of bears, but saw none.
Our next camp was in the exceedingly pretty inlet of Klewnugget, off the
Grenville Canal ; marvellous to relate, for a period of three days we enjoyed fine
sunny weather, surrounded by humming birds, constantly hovering within arms
length, while peering into every quaint looking flower, all about were fresh bear
tracks, some of unusually large size. I felt much consoled that at this season
their thin coats were useless, for having injured myself a few days previously in the
mountains, I was forced to remain on my back, thoroughly enjoying the
surroundings. But for the heartless conduct of one or two pairs of ravens, nothing
could have exceeded the tranquility of this secluded nook. A small colony of
jackdaws inhabited some trees close by, and were no doubt congratulating
themselves on the result of the hatching season, and the healthy appearance of
their families, which though unable to leave the nests, were most promising young
birds, but ere long cheerful chatterings turned to cries of distress, on looking up
I beheld a raven busily engaged in extracting the pride of a certain family from
its home, in which it eventually succeeded, immediately flying off to the mountain
peaks with the miserable little fledgling in its beak, its long legs dangling helplessly
in the air, and followed for some distance by the now frantic colony. I felt heartily
sorry for the poor daws, who were henceforth visited by this or another robber
each hour, which in spite of every device on the part of the parents to divert its
attention, invariably retreated only after securing its living prey. Had I not known that
the ravens were catering for their own families, I should have befriended the now
terrified jackdaws, whose offsprings were becoming seriously reduced in numbers. At
the expiration of three days I don't believe a single young one remained, the piteous
cries of the old birds having scarcely
ceased before being again called forth by
another affliction. During the timid
assaults of the parents on the ravens,
apparently in order to attract their attention, they frequently turned on their backs,
making a dive of some considerable distance in this position. The only other birds
I ever observed behaving in a similarly
erratic manner were English snipe, which
occasionally turn over on their backs,
-•^fts^^r'~"C--- ' '"--H;"' shooting  through   the   air   at   a  slightly
, — r^_____ — .^SSSr" downward incline for perhaps twenty yards,
'  their white breasts flashing  in   the  sun.
These American jackdaws occasionally build among the sticks comprising the
foundations of the eagle nests, though for the most part their nests were built in the
ordinary manner. 55
CHAPTER V.
|PHE Boscowitz now passed northwards, and as we proposed to return in her for
some fishing, we made the best of our way back to Metlakahtla. I had killed
five more goats, but the season was too far advanced, the long wool hanging in
bunches about their faces and necks ; there was therefore nothing for it but to return
the rifle to its case, there to remain in peace for the next four months, while we took
to fishing in the meantime. During this trip we had tried as food, first an old he goat,
which tasted strong and nasty; afterwards a cub bear, which did not seem to taste
at all ; of course at this season the animals were out of condition and in their poorest
state, not a particle of fat being anywhere visible. Before closing the account of
our first trip, a few remarks on the nature of the objects of our search may not be
inopportune.
First, the Rocky Mountain Goat : Never did anything in the natural history
line astonish me more, than to find in abundance these animals, which from all
accounts I had ever received, I concluded to be about the rarest creatures in America.
Nor do I understand how it is that English sportsmen have not made the discovery,
that at almost any point along the North Pacific coast (north of Victoria) to Fort
Simpson, and I believe far beyond, there can be obtained with but slight exertion, as
many goats in a fortnight, as would satisfy the cravings of the keenest hunter. A few
years ago, a friend told me with satisfaction, that he secured from a spot in the
Rockies, known to himself alone, seven goats at a cost of over £1,000 ; had he but
journeyed to Victoria, he could have slaughtered 100 with an outlay of £10. But
the goat is by no means a sporting animal. After I discovered the ease with which it
allowed itself to be approached I paid little heed as to the direction of the wind, simply
relying on keeping out of sight when within 300 yards, and in no single case have I
ever scared a goat while stalking it. I have never seen them take any of the
marvellous leaps usually recorded of them, but have frequently noticed that should they
miss their footing when jumping to another rock, it caused no alarm, for turning on
their sides they will slide down quite gently, sitting nearly upright on the outside of
the haunch. Their feet are spongy underneath, surrounded by a soft ridge of horn,
well calculated to render slipping almost impossible. When galloping they present
an exceedingly stiff appearance, much resembling the plasters depicting Roman
horses of ancient times, with not half the grace of a nursery rocking horse. They are
tenacious of life, and when shot in a fatal spot, seldom fail to utilise the few remaining
moments of life left them, to crawl to the edge of the nearest precipice, over which
should one be at hand, they endeavour to throw themselves. I had several of my
heads totally ruined by this vicious habit.
The females have thinner horns than the males, from which they also differ by
being bent sharply backwards at about two inches from the point. They bring forth
their young towards the end of May, though there are said to be usually two, I have
never seen more than one in company with the mother, they are exceedingly delicate
and difficult to rear by hand, though doubtless with a tame goat on the spot they
could be easily brought up.    Towards the end of the summer, quantities may be shot 56
in one locality where they congregate at a " lick." I have hunted in a place where I
was told an Indian had killed 30 without moving from the spot—of course remaining
hidden all the while ; I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this statement, though, I
have little doubt, that at such a time, large numbers could be slaughtered ; but their
wool is then short and they have little or no hair. The Indians kill them simply for
food.
On Bears.—I have every reason to believe that the cause of bears in some districts so
far exceeding in size similar species from other parts of the same country is greatly due
to climate and facilities of obtaining food, thus the huge bears of California probably
never hybernate at all, feeding steadily the whole year through, whilst the comparatively diminutive ones of the north-west can only really rely upon satisfying their
appetites for three or four months in the year, actually spending five to seven months
in a torpid state, without any food whatever. They enter their winter quarters in
some suitable nook or hollow, simply rolling in fat, and leave them mere skeletons,
the she bears in the meantime, having brought forth a couple of cubs each, though
this number is occasionally reduced to one, or increased to four. I may be in error
when stating that they leave their caches mere skeletons, for not having actually
secured a specimen immediately from the cache, I am ignorant of their state at the
time of their very first appearance, but all the early bears I have seen or shot were as
I state, though I have read several authorities who declare the bear leaves its cache
in the spring fatter than when it entered in the autumn. Their principal food is In the
spring roots, especially that of the skunk cabbage and the early shoots of what
seemed a sort of hemlock; in the summer insects, beetles, and any fruit that may be
obtainable, putrid or fresh flesh never seems to come amiss ; and in the autumn, they
do themselves handsomely on salmon and berries, of course they feed according to
the produce of the district they inhabit. I have some reason to believe, though the true
cause I have as yet been unable to ascertain for certain, that strychnine, when
administered in the usual manner, appears in no way to affect them. Grizzlies are
easily distinguishable from the black or brown bear by the long slightly curved claws
of the fore feet, indeed the claws on fore and hind feet are so formed as to render them
incapable of climbing an upright tree. There are four species of bears inhabiting
North America, exclusive of the brown bear, which I am inclined to think distinct,
but which is commonly considered as a variety of the black bear.
Commencing in the extreme north and journeying south we come to the polar
bear, then the barren ground bear, a savage animal, very similar to the grizzly,
inhabiting the barren lands of Alaska, and across to the east coast, but never,
venturing further south; next we strike the grizzly, brown and black bears.
Grizzlies are to be found of various shades, from black, beautifully tipped with grey,
usually called silver tips, to a dull dirty greenish drab. The brown or cinnamon
bears are of various brown shades. And the black only vary in respect to a white
horseshoe which is more or less distinct on some varieties.
Bears have remarkably keen noses, their eyesight I think little of, but I very much
doubt the possibility of ever approaching one down wind ; too much attention cannot
be devoted to the probable direction of the various currents of air, while hunting
them.
It is not my intention to dwell at any length on the subject of scenery, so much
has already been written, and by such able pens, that I feel sure no words of mine 3^1
—
3/
would be considered to do justice to so extensive and varying a topic. I therefore
ask the reader to close his eyes and spend five minutes in picturing in his mind a
vast expanse of rugged rocks, precipitous mountains, surging torrents, placid lakes,
giant trees, deafening waterfalls, and seething canons all more or less of volcanic
origin, and of the grandest and wildest conception, of all shapes and sizes, jumble
and mix them up in wild confusion, and by so doing he will probably present for
himself a far more realistic picture of British Columbia than would be in my power
to describe, there appearing to me a singular sameness about American scenery, the
monotony of which is only successfully varied by the presence of some wild animal.
Out of the twelve days we had been hunting, only two were free from rain, and
it was almost with satisfaction that on the 18th June we found ourselves once again
on board the Boscowitz bound for sunnier climes. Here we discovered B., whose
goat had died, and who proposed to spend the next nine weeks on a visit to the
interior, in company with a clergyman, arranging to join us again in August for the
winter hunt, but from this date I must ask the reader to bid adieu to friend B.,
who we never saw again, and from certain unchristian transactions and evil deeds,
committed by the men of God, who appeared to flourish on this coast, being outnumbered only by the goats, I trembled for B's safety, lest he should have fallen
among a gang of them ; it sometimes made my blood boil to find hypocrites aping
Christianity, and abusing their strength by illegal acts of oppression committed
under the shielding cloak of the church.
CHAPTER VI.
/^VN starting in the Boscowitz, we had no definite idea as to where we would land,
^>^ our primary object being, to get out of the rain, and secure good fishing; after
obtaining all the information forthcoming from those on board likely to know anything
about such matters, we finally decided to go to Burrard's Inlet, to reach which place
it would be necessary to leave the Boscowitz at Nanaimo. There were two
missionaries on board, and on Sunday, of course, each considered it incumbent upon
him to hold service, and deliver his sermon.
The first obtained a good audience, but on the second attempt, there was a marked
falling off. Missionary No. 2, had been busily collecting subscriptions for his Church
during the voyage, and indeed, he had a goodly number of names on his list, the total
amounts against them being constantly added up by him, showed a considerable sum;
but unfortunately, they were merely promises, and I fear for the collector's sake, that
when next he takes his rounds, dropping the proceeds into his melancholy-looking bag,
these donations will be conspicuous by their absence—churches forsooth—the amount
of money from England and elsewhere, recklessly squandered in building churches for
the Indians, and comfortable houses for the adminstrators of the Gospel, which from
time to time are abandoned and left to ruin, would keep many English families from
starvation and death ; cannot an Indian be as effectually preached to in an ordinary lo'g
hut, as in an expensively fitted church ; is it just to send money so terribly needed
among our   own poor, to be squandered in  fruitless  attempts to convert a stray 58
Indian or so, whose soul is as safe in its former condition as it is after a missionary
has been jabbering unintelligible jargon at him ? I found the Indian, whose path
the missionary had never crossed, a far more honest and less deceitful being than he
who by such contact had added the cunning of the white to the dirt and filth of the
Indian ; it appeared to me, that the partial development of an Indian's mind renders
him at once an object of distrust and danger.
But little worthy of record took place during the trip, on several occasions whilst
inspecting whales at no great distance, we noticed that instead of squirting up water,
as is generally understood, they in reality, simply emit a column of vapour, or breath,
resembling steam, which is blown upwards by the whale on reaching the surface. I
had purchased at Metlakahtla a small dug-out canoe capable of carrying three persons,
thinking it would render us more independent on our fishing excursions, we ultimately
found it of almost daily service, these dug-outs are scooped out of a solid block
of cedar or cotton wood, some of them of such dimensions as to carry three
tons with safety, they are decidedly heavy and require endless attention; on sunny
days they have to be covered with an awning, and even then, unless continually
sprinkled inside with water, those made of Cedar are liable to split, I have rarely seen
a perfect Cedar canoe, there being nearly always a crack or two which has to
be caulked. Some unsuccessful prospectors on board, kindly offered to convey our
baggage to Burrard's inlet whence they were returning in their canoe, therefore,
on reaching Nanaimo we bid farewell to the Boscowitz, pitching our camp about a
mile from the town. During the night, hearing some Indian dogs busy amOng the
provisions, I dispersed them with boots thrown from the tent door, but in the morning, we found they had stolen a plate, fork, and tin pot cover, all of which articles
were ultimately discovered about one hundred yards off. The owner of the canoe
which was to take our things, not being ready, we remained another day, making a
start on that following, L. in the large canoe, Fred and I in our little one.
The distance direct from Naniamo was between forty and fifty miles, but we were
obliged to make one camp on the main land, there we saw several blacktail deer
which seemed plentiful right along the coast of British Columbia to Burrard's inlet,
where, after shooting through the narrows, a most alarming proceeding except at
slack water, or until you are accustomed to the peculiar formation of the currents, we
discovered ourselves in a large inlet; selecting a nice looking spot about two miles
further on to the left and nearly opposite the town of Vancouver, or rather the
remains of it, for a fire a few days previously had destroyed every house, we thanked
our friends for their kind assistance and set to work to establish a permanent camp.
The spot we had chosen appeared the only suitable one within miles, a convenient
little creek ran from the sea inland, up this we could bring our canoe to within a
few yards of the tent, while immediately, behind, were huge cedar trees, with plenty
of small wood for burning, and in front a large tract of coarse grass, extending for
half a mile towards the sea. Burrard's inlet has one great peculiarity which seems
to have baffled every attempt to construct a time table to correctly notify the time
when high or low water may be relied upon; though this applies equally to all waters
between Vancouver island and the main land, yet I conclude the difficulty here is
intensified from the fact of such an enormous body of water having to pass through
so exceedingly narrow a passage, from the Straits of Georgia. Provided there
was  no  contrary   wind,  we   could   generally rely   on   a  strong  current   in   our 59
favour either up or down the inlet, for as the water rushes in, up the middle, it forces
that already present in a contrary direction on either side, and when running out in
the centre, it follows an opposite direction at the sides. I have only seen one
steamer in the inlet capable of resisting the full force of the tide in the narrows, and
she could but crawl against it. The first noticeable objects on entering these narrows,
were a few Indian huts, and a large canoe propped up on the shore, wherein an
Indian was buried, he had been capsized while crossing to the other side, where there
were several more Indian graves, with erections over them resembling miniature
greenhouses. Burrard's inlet is by no means a place I should recommend for fishing,
a large variety of fish can be obtained there, but I afterwards heard of a far better
locality, where fine sport is certain, and at this spot, some time bordering on the
month of July, or later, I should recommend the fisherman to try his luck. At
Cowichan, about two days from Victoria, in the river and lake, he will find
sufficient trout and salmon to fully occupy his time. Altogether we spent a very
merry three months in Burrard's inlet, though we found no fish prepared to deliver
themselves up in sufficient numbers to constitute a large bag, except whiting, which
necessitates but little skill to secure, these and ling, or black cod, as they are called
there, were the only two species we ever found any difficulty in disposing of; each day
was spent in ourcanoe, or on the banks of one of the two small rivers flowing into the
inlet, which contained sea trout and salmon, the latter, being high up and blocked in,
declined all bait. At low water we could walk out on the mud, and pick up a dozen
crabs, about eight inches across, in as many minutes. Whilst digging for worms
there, I frequently turned up from about the depth of a foot, a peculiar pink creature,
resembling a cray fish, only that one claw was nearly as large as the whole fish, the
shell was transparent and soft; I never found one more than five inches long, nor
did they seem calculated to exist, except in the mud from which I extracted them ;
huge cockles and clams swarmed ; octopi, I was informed were plentiful, but I did not
want them ; though the Indians procure them for food ; great flat fish about a foot-and-
a-half long, we sometimes speared; dabs and lemon soles we tried to catch with bait, but
failed. I once found a nearly dead skate, heavier than I could lift; sometimes we caught
a handsome- dark viviparous fish, locally known as perch, much the shape and size of
a roach, with brilliant blue stripes ; if a female, while extracting the hook, she would
drop in some instances, as many as twenty-four young ones, the colour of gold fish,
and a little over an inch in length, these as they fell in the sea, would swim merrily
away. We used to catch the sea trout with either fly, meat, spoon, or a piece of
themselves ; the only fish which annoyed us were bullheads, these gluttons seized on
every possible occasion, any description of bait, real or artificial, our only consolation
being, that the Ospreys waged unceasing war against them ; these birds were very
plentiful in Burrard's inlet, hawking over the water throughout the day, and suddenly
dashing down with a souse, which could be heard half a mile off, they disappeared
entirely under the water for some seconds, ultimately rising with a fish of perhaps
two pounds weight in their talons, with this after a few preliminary shakes in the air, in
order to throw the water from their feathers, they made straight for their nests ; I have
seen one struggling for fully two minutes in the sea with a large fish, before being
able to rise with it ; the only occasion on which I beheld a white headed eagle in the
inlet, was once when my attention was attracted by the terrified cries of an Osprey,
which it was chasing, the Osprey appeared greatly alarmed,  and finally dropped ir
60
the fish it carried, which the eagle seized before it had fallen five yards through
the air. Dog fish we unintentionally caught in numbers, they abound in the inlet,
being largely used in the manufacture of oil, a quantity of which is, I am informed,
sold as cod liver oil; on finding themselves at the bottom of the canoe,
they would sometimes become sea sick, and at others, present us with about
eight young ones, or if not so far advanced, with what resembled a mass of
poached eggs. *Ling, rock cod, and tommy cod, particularly the former afforded good
sport; we used to drift about the narrows, between tides, with a huge line the largest
size conger hooks, and a full-grown flat fish or whiting for bait; it is necessary to fish
among the rocks at the bottom for Ling. I first commenced with a salmon line
and light tackle, of which I lost a large quantity, presently, having lowered the
enormous bait among the rocks, you feel a dead tug, if it is not a rock, it is a Ling. A
severe strike, and the rapid hauling in of six yards of line solves the doubt, if it be
the fish, he comes so far peacefully, but another yard or two taken in will cause him
to tear and pull till, do what you will, he will fetch back a few feet of line, at length
you get him to the surface, where, if he does not shake the hook out of his boney
mouth, he will assuredly commence to wet you through with his struggles. It is no
easy matter to gaff such a fish in a crank canoe, but your companion, after nearly
upsetting the frail craft, will finally land a 28 lb. Ling between your legs, placing you
in imminent peril of a stray hook being somewhere embedded in your flesh. As the
tide remains but a short time in a fit condition for this class of fishing, you never get
many, three in the boat, and two lost was the best day I had. I always put a yard of
salmon line on to the hooks, by which means I found the fish more willing to seize
my bait than that of the Indians on coarse lines. The Indians have a very quaint
contrivance for spearing Ling, consisting of an extremely long and slender spear,
which is used in about thirty or forty feet of water; attached to the point of the
spear is an exact resemblance to a large shuttle-cock, only that, instead of feathers,
thin pieces of wood are inserted of about a foot in length, this is pushed down in
the water to the full extent of the spear, from which, by a turn of the wrist, it is disconnected ; the spear is then rapidly withdrawn from the water, followed in a few
seconds by the shuttle-cock, this, in its turn, is followed by a Ling, which, on
coming within striking distance by a sure and rapid thrust, is firmly impaled on the
spear, the barb of which is made of goat's horn, and immediately leaves the shaft
from which it remains suspended by a yard of line, thus the spear is instantaneously
converted into a species of fishing rod with a very limited supply of tackle, and the
Ling, after being hammered on the head with a piece of wood, is lifted into the canoe.
We caught no salmon ; they were too late in running. Just opposite our camp
was a large deserted cannery, which had been erected at considerable expense for
canning the herrings, which at certain seasons crowded the inlet; but from the day
of its completion no herring was again seen in those waters. A few days after our
arrival I crossed the inlet to enquire for letters at Vancouver. Even the most
serious matters frequently present their ludicrous side, and in spite of the sympathy
I naturally felt for those who had lost their all, including many relations and friends,
in the disastrous fire, I could not help feeling tickled and smiling all down one side,
as some one says, on encountering a tent labelled " Town Council," in large letters,
* What I believe to have been Ling were locally known as Cod. <
<! 62
and   another  "Messrs.   ,   solicitors."    That  these  all-important  functionaries
should be reduced to transacting their business in a tent, on a bare piece of charred
land, struck me as very quaint. I enquired for the post-office ; no one appeared to
know where it was, though all were acquainted with the spot where it used to be.
Some told me to go up street, but there was nothing to convey to my mind that
any street had ever existed in the locality. I called at an ironmonger's tent to buy
some lead. He solemnly pointed in the direction of his original store and replied, if
I grubbed there I would find plenty. A more dismal, and, at the same time
touching, spectacle I have seldom witnessed. Out of the whole of that town not one
solitary house had escaped, and had the fire occurred in the night three parts of the
population must have perished. Before we left hundreds of new houses had been
reconstructed, which must inevitably share a similar fate on the occasion of the
first favourable outbreak of fire among them.
A queer character stumbled across our encampment one day while searching for
his cows, his first greeting being, at the top of his voice, in a broad Lancashire
accent, § Ullo, hare you hall burned hout ?" The second, on catching sight of
Fred's feet, " Ho ! look at 'is Ould Counthry butes." He was doing a little rough
farming, and we soon became great friends, he insisting on supplying us with milk
and cherries, for which he declined to accept any payment, while we provided him
with crabs and fish. He used to call for my letters at Vancouver when taking over
his milk to sell; but this at first led to a little confusion, for unknown to me his
name happened to be the same as my own. A kitten he gave us ultimately accompanied us throughout our travels, through the presence of which many blankets and
furs were saved from the ravages of innumerable mice, not to mention a quaint
species of animal known as the trading rat, the proper name of which is the bushy-
tailed rat. I am told it far surpasses the magpie in its thieving eccentricities by
replacing everything it takes away with some other article ; but I have had no opportunity of watching its manoeuvres myself. It is by no means an ugly rat, with a
thickly-furred and bushy tail.
It was a common sight in the Inlet—while the pigs were rooting up clams in the
mud—to see crows on their backs, these immediately on a clam being turned out
hopped down, seized it, and retiring to a distance, broke the shell by flying up with it,
and when at a considerable elevation, letting it drop on the stones below ; this I heard
from a reliable source, there being no pigs in the vicinity of our camp, I had no
opportunity of a personal observation. I often remarked the extraordinary attraction
anything red has for humming birds, I possessed a common red tin tobacco box, and
a pair of camp boots lined with red; if either of these articles were left out of doors,
so surely would a humming bird present itself, to pry into them; at a future camp, one
was rash enough to enter our tent, in order to enquire into the peculiar formation of
an indiarubber glove lined with red flannel, poor little wretch, it paid the penalty of
such inquisitiveness, for in twenty minutes it was skinned and stuffed with wool.
Racoons appeared very plentiful, the mud showing frequent indication of their nightly
rambles, we set some traps close to camp, in which three were very soon caught; I
never found such difficulty in despatching an animal before, after the head of one
had been reduced to a mash by repeated blows from a loaded stick, though quite
insensible, it refused to die, and continued moaning at every breath, the others we
were forced to shoot through the heart with a revolver, which caused instantaneous 63
death. The bay lynx, a sort of wild cat, and a small spotted skunk with a brown
face, were by no means uncommon about the Inlet, though I heard of none elsewhere
during my travels. While picking salmon-berries and raspberries, we occasionally
saw fresh deer tracks, but the undergrowth being so dense, we seldom penetrated the
timber beyond a few hundred yards. Many descriptions of berries, and small apples
abounded on all sides. Old Indian hags were frequently to be seen, seeking the larger
kind of clam, by burrowing in the mud with their hands, on the same principle as a
dog when searching for a hidden bone, sending the refuse flying between their legs.
In certain nooks along the rocky coast smelts could be ladled out of the water in
hundreds with a landing net, while in almost any spot we could be sure of catching
in considerable quantities a large species of bream. Amongst those fish which we were
unable to capture, but saw almost daily, were porpoises and sturgeon; thus to anyone
fond of such a life, Burrard's Inlet afforded a fund of entertainment. Once, while
fishing for whiting, I hooked a one pound sea trout, which instantly broke me, and
leapt into the canoe on the opposite side to that on which I was fishing, having
snapped the gut some three yards under water. Occasionally, a hair seal would
follow in the wake of our canoe, until having satisfied its curiosity, it would gracefully sink to appear no more.
CHAPTER VII.
/^\N the fifth of July the tide treated us to an unexpected surprise. Soon after nine
^^^ in the evening, which was about the time we usually rolled ourselves up for the
night, someone remarked that the tide was unusually high. This called forth little
attention, but presently it was observed that the tide was remarkably high, and, as
during the ensuing quarter-of-an-hour it still continued to rise steadily, it became
obvious that the matter required investigation. A close inspection went to show that
a few more inches would flood us ; but, as it still gradually encroached, it was
evident that the fire would prove the first victim. Presently, a burst of steam notified
its extinction, and with it our only means of seeing anything, except by striking
matches. The table, an immovable luxury, constructed by Fred, was now above its
ancles in water; all our eatables being hastily piled on the top. Fred, on inspecting
his tent, declared his bed to be floating in a foot of water. Things now began to look
serious, not that there was any actual danger while trees 300 feet high stood close at
hand, but on peering into the darkness nothing but water was visible on all sides.
Our tent stood on the highest ground, for as far as the eye could penetrate, except
on the other side of the creek, which now held water to the depth of eleven feet. The
canoe was anchored a mile out on what a few hours previously had been solid mud.
Another inch must inevitably flood our tent, therefore, as rapidly as possible, we
threw up a bank of earth on the lowest ground, which, by constant attention, was,
with difficulty, induced to remain water-tight, just when an increase of half-an-inch
would have settled the business, and little streams were forcing themselves over the
bank which showed unmistakable signs of giving way, the water ceased to rise,
and then slowly retreated. Poor Fred was the only sufferer; all his treasures were
soaked, and it was quite a melancholy sight to see him on the morrow spreading his
saturated  writing paper and  firmly glued together envelopes,  with  many  other
h 64
cherished articles, in the sun to dry ; had this occurred an hour later, when we should
all have been in bed, considerable confusion would have ensued ; as it was, it only
tended by a little diversion to increase our delights in the surroundings.
Should anyone, after reading this description of our visit to Burrard's Inlet, decide
upon undertaking a similar experiment, I warn them that from the general aspect of
the place they will at the first onset experience a feeling of disappointment which
they will probably be unable to shake off, but go there expecting to be confronted
by little that is beautiful, and week after week fresh pleasures and interests will be
discovered. Nor is successful fishing to be obtained there without a fair amount of
exertion, and a canoe or boat will be found indispensable. A friend from England
one day suddenly made his appearance, having learned our whereabouts, he
determined to give us a surprise by suddenly presenting himself; but being
unacquainted with the lay of the land, and taking a short cut in order to approach
unperceived, he located himself in a well-known bog, where we immediately
discovered him. He had just come from Cowichan, having enjoyed splendid sport
fishing. On hearing his report, we should instantly have proceeded there, had not the
hunting season been so close at hand as to leave insufficient time, for I was bound
to pay a visit to Victoria to obtain provisions for the winter. Once, contrary to our
usual custom, which was to leave one in camp, we all three set out for a day's
fishing, thinking it was unlikely that anyone would be along during our absence,
however, on our return in the evening we found, while consulting our larder on the
all important matter of supper, that we had had a visitor in the form of an Indian
who had abstracted all our meat consisting of a ham and some bacon, leaving
nothing but a piece of fat with the representation of the foot prints of a dog made
by pressing the thumb in four directions,  and scratching the edge of the bacon to 65
imitate teeth marks. In this piece of intended deception, the wily Indian failed
through lack of skill, though his little joke of depriving us of supper that night
was an undeniable success. I have small doubt that the thief was an old man who
used frequently to come and squat on his haunches before the fire, and while pointing
to his hair, which was grizzly, would endeavour to convince us that his greyness
had been occasioned by his devotion to the Roman Catholic Mission, not far distant.
Mosquitoes troubled us considerably; but our chief source of annoyance was by
ants, these little pests crowded in everywhere, if food was placed for safety in a
cotton bag it would be found swarming with them, and the bag full of holes, they
climbed on to the table, ate the food off our plates, or went down our throats perched
on it, they walked up the teacups, and in their greediness fell into the tea, sinking
immediately; nothing checked their ardour, until the brilliant idea of treacling the
legs of the table occurred to us, though this had to be done every day, it proved a
perfect success, they were unable to wade through it; but for ants in bed we found
no cure. Suddenly in the night I would start round under the impression that some
one had caught hold of a piece of flesh with tweezers, and on putting my hand on
the place I would discover an ant trying, by hauling at my back, to convey me away
to his nest, at least I conclude, judging by their usual foolish behaviour with sticks,
&c, that imagining he had found something of service in their domestic economy,
this was his intention ; the only plan was to shake the blankets well every night
before wrapping ourselves up.
On the 22nd of July, I paid a visit to Victoria to procure a stock of provisions for
the winter, returning to camp two days later. It had been our original intention to
winter in the Rockies, but from all I could learn, together with the impossibility of
obtaining reliable imformation respecting the prospects of good hunting within a
reasonable distance, I feared such an expedition would in all probability turn out a
failure. We therefore determined to retire to a place near Kishpyox, some two
hundred miles up the Skeena, which had been highly recommended for foxes and
other animals calculated to ensure a successful winter's trapping; we were anxious
too, to experience the novelty of a climate where the thermometer radiates between
zero and sixty below. Therefore, with the intention of spending some eight months
in an old deserted log house, which existed in those frigid regions, we bid a final
adieu to Burrard's Inlet with its seductive allurements, and tumbling all our properties
into our canoe, and the boat of our friend Tom, who had just brought us a carelessly
delayed telegram, which stated that the " Boscowitz " would sail on the following
day: this piece of information left us but an hour in which to pack up, cross three
-miles of water, and catch the boat from Vancouver to Victoria ; however with Tom's
invaluable aid, all was successfully accomplished, and finally, after clearing the
narrows, we found ourselves with every prospect of reaching Victoria in due course.
On the boat we experienced rather a blow by learning that the great annual regatta
was to be held on the following day, in honour of which event a general holiday was
proclaimed, owing to which we were prevented purchasing many necessary articles,
which we were therefore forced to do without.
A 66
CHAPTER VIII.
T
HE Boscowitz not sailing till six o'clock p.m., L. and I did the regatta in style in
our canoe. Anyone who chanced to notice us at all would have supposed that
some miner had borrowed a nursemaid, who he was taking for an airing; but what
did it matter ? We cared for nobody and nobody cared for us, only unfortunately we
were recognised by a friend, who, I fear, must have greatly scandalised the fair
occupants of his boat by acknowledging such doubtful-looking acquaintances. I had
never before seen a regatta held in any spot to be compared in its beauty to the
north arm of Victoria, and I much doubt if any other town possesses a more
fascinating and picturesque strip of water than this little inlet, surrounded by densely-
wooded hills, intersected by numerous coves and grassy slopes extending to the
water's edge.    No more charming spot for picnicing could be desired.
Having witnessed one of the most entertaining incidents of the programme,
namely, the race restricted to Indian squaws, for which some three or four canoe
crews contested, we returned to the Boscowitz, which was shortly due to leave, but
was unavoidably detained for an hour by the non-appearance of the purser, who,
holding at that time the proud position of champion sculler of B. C, found a difficulty
in tearing himself away from so engrossing a spectacle. Johnnie, the Chinese
steward, informed us, with glee, that "all cockee-rochee dead," but on seeking our
cabin we found thatc though slightly reduced in numbers, a large quantity had evaded
the zealous Johnnie's poison. We soon ran into the regions of perpetual rain,
eventually landing at Metlakahtla on the nth August. It being as yet early for
proceeding to our winter quarters, we proposed to hunt in a place known as Sea
Lake, for I was anxious to procure some good goats' masks, my former ones being
much damaged; therefore, engaging an Indian boy and a half-breed hunter named
Roger, who, from former experience, I knew to be a useful man, we started for the
lake, which is in reality no lake at all, but an exceedingly pretty inlet off Granville
canal, exhibiting the same quaint formation at the mouth as Burrard's inlet, only on a
much smaller scale, for its narrows, being even smaller in proportion, are no more
than fifteen yards across. Through this the tide rushes in and out, defying all
possibility of an entrance, except at slack water. We reached this inlet after a day-
and-a-half s canoeing, the last day being unusually hard work with only four hands,
and two canoes to manage. Here we spent eleven days, but owing to incessant
rain I only left camp on the 17th for one day's hunting. After a tedious climb of
some three hours over fallen trees and slippery rocks, we arrived at the summit of
the mountain, everywhere covered with grass except on the north-east, which was
still deep in crusted snow. After about half-a-mile's walk a fine black-tail buck
suddenly appeared from behind a rock, but was away before I could sight him.
Running round a corner I got a fair chance at him, while standing fully exposed to
view on a patch of snow. It was an indifferent shot, but had the desired effect,
causing instantaneous death, the bullet having pierced his neck. We left him until
our return, Roger going in one direction to look out for goats and I in another.
Scarcely had I walked a hundred yards when a second buck seemed to rise out of 67
the snow, about fifty yards distant, but was off in an instant across the hard crust.
I took a hurried aim and fired, apparently with no result, but a lucky second barrel
doubled him up, and I saw him slide about forty yards down a slight incline on the
smooth and slippery snow. On following upon his track I was surprised to see
lying in front of me a tuft of hair, which turned out to be his tail, the result of the
first shot. About one hundred yards further lay the deer unable to rise, but not
dead. A deep probe with my knife quickly terminated his existence. At this
moment Roger came running up to say that a band of ten goats were asleep
under a rock ; we immediately started in search of them; he had seen them after
my first shot at the second deer, but the second barrel must have alarmed
them, for in the far distance they could be distinguished galloping up another
small mountain, we at once followed, and in about a quarter of an hour, came
suddenly upon two which evidently did not belong to the band we were following, and were no more than forty yards away, but having taken fright, there
was no time to be lost, for in another ten yards they would have been out of sight,
a hasty shot followed, and I could see the larger of the two was wounded, though
I feared not seriously, however on reaching the spot we found he had only gone a
few yards before falling dead, we now continued in pursuit of the others. An hour's
climb brought us well among them; they had scattered in all directions, the ground
being rough and precipitous. Roger, after letting himself down a steep rock, took
my rifle, while I followed, and just as I reached the ground he espied a goat
immediately above us, as invariably happened on such occasions, instead of handing
me the rifle, he fired at the goat, down it came, and out of the way he jumped, but
only just in time, for the animal fell exactly where he had stood, he instantly threw
down the rifle on the bare rocks, and seized it by the hind leg, though not before in
its endeavour to escape it had scrambled half way over the edge of the precipice
immediately behind us. At this moment several more ran past above on a narrow
ledge, I snatched up the rifle only to discover that I was vainly tugging at the
useless trigger in connection with the recently discharged barrel, at that moment
another rushed by, receiving the left bullet behind the shoulder, it crawled but a few
yards to die. I now decided that as the Jiair on the goats killed was not fully grown,
we would hunt no more, and indeed we had enough to carry as it was, though we
had brought the boy to help pack, we therefore retraced our steps, skinning and
collecting the heads and meat, as we went, and were approaching the place where
the second deer lay, when a third buck appeared, standing on a solitary pedestal
of rock, some forty yards distant, I had no intention of shooting, as I considered we
had enough meat, but the Indian begged so hard that I raised my rifle, a second too
late though, for the deer thinking he had waited long enough started off unharmed
at the very instant I pulled; the feeling of mercy I possessed but a minute before
now forsook me, I ran round a rock to cut him off, and succeeded in putting in a
shot which broke the foreleg at the shoulder, but this failed to stop him ere he was
again out of sight, the next I saw of him was at about two hundred yards, still
running, I sat down, elevated the sight, and took a steady aim, pulled and missed,
then the second barrel, and he fell without a move. This buck though still in the
velvet, carried a good head, which with the mask I took. Curiously enough these
three deer were killed within a radius of two hundred yards ; we now set to work to
take all the meat we could carry,  at least Roger and the boy did,  I contenting
F2
t 68
myself with the head and mask of one deer, the antlers of another, and the heads
and masks of two goats, with about seven pounds of fat, which the Indian had
secreted up the neck of a goat, and of the presence of which I had no idea, or it
would have been thrown out long ere we reached camp, for though my pack was the
lightest, yet so awkward was it, that I could hardly crawl back, both hands were
occupied, one in holding the horns of one deer, and the entire head of another on my
shoulder and round my neck, the other in keeping the goat's horns from pointing
towards my body, for, being suspended from my shoulders by long necks, every time
I fell, and one falls pretty often, I ran imminent risk of being stabbed by their
sharp pointed horns, or having my eyes poked out by those of the deer; I certainly
shall never undertake a similar burden in such a country again. For the last mile
anything larger than a straw in my trail was liable to upset me, and I was forced to
take to sitting down and sliding, whenever the ground was sufficiently wet, and not
too steep ; however, camp was reached before dark, and I look back with pleasure on
Indian dancing mask.
what I consider an unusually lucky day, both on account of the game found, and the
remarkably successful result of fluky shooting, for throughout the day I obtained but
one standing shot. After this it continued too wet to hunt, though before leaving
I sent Fred out in order to obtain a buck to take back with us, but the latter not
presenting itself, he was forced to return with a doe.
The Indian and boy seized this opportunity to fetch all the meat I had left on the
mountain, the fact of its having lain about for some four days appeared in no way
detrimental in their eyes. Hair seals constantly floated past our camp ; having one
day shot at, and wounded one, we immediately gave chase in the small canoe. Not
wishing to spoil the head, I tried, when near enough, to spear it, but after an hour's
hunt it became gradually stronger, and finally disappeared. I could frequently have
shot it in the back as it dived, but, under such circumstances, if killed, the hair seal 69
sinks, rarely appearing again. Roger said if I wanted another he would call one, we,
therefore, landed, and hid the canoe, I remaining close by, while Roger taking the
white covering of calico which served to protect our canoe from the sun, wrapped it
tightly round him, leaving nothing but his face exposed, and got on to a solitary rock
surrounded by water where he laid down, twisting himself into an exact resemblance
of a seal. He then proceeded to raise himself up and down on his elbows, blowing
and snorting, occasionally growling loudly, while appearing to feed on an imaginary
fish. He had not been thus engaged more than a minute when up popped the head
of a seal within forty yards, though none had been previously in sight, I fired, and
missed, my only excuse for such an indifferent shot is that my eyes were so full of
tears from suppressed laughter at the ridiculous appearance and comical antics of
Roger that I could hardly see the sight, a funnier spectacle I have never witnessed,
nor a more successful method of fooling seals, the white calico gave the exact appearance of a wet seal with the sun shining on it.
Roger, who was by profession, a seal hunter, told me that numbers of the fur seal
were procured in this fashion, though the usual method is to stealthily approach them
in a canoe while sleeping on the water, and shoot them through the head, or murder
them in thousands with a club on land. The weather kept so wet, that I found it
impossible to properly dry the goat's and deer's masks, and I fear they will prove
very indifferently preserved. Further hunting being impossible under such circumstances, in conjunction with the still more important fact of the game not yet
being  in season, we returned to Metlakahtla.
I was at first much perplexed to account for the teeth of the coast Indians being
in some cases worn away to the very roots, and always considerably shortened
through living on salmon, on to which in the process of drying on the shore large
quantities of sand adhere; whereas the river Indians rejoice in full length teeth, their
salmon being dried away from any sand. A particularly disgusting odour, too, pervades
the coast Indians, the result I expect of consuming large quantities of oulachon oil. 70
CHAPTER  IX.
THE first night after returning to Metlakahtla, having hung the heads of my
blacktail out of doors to dry, some dog decamped with one, nor could I find any
trace of it afterwards. We were destined to remain here much longer than we had
intended, for by no inducements could we persuade the Indians to quit their occupation of watching a party of surveyors, whom they so molested as to prevent the
carrying out of their orders from the Government, to complete a survey of the Indian
territory, which proceeding was on a legal point resented by the Metlakahtla Indians,
with the result that, so far as we were concerned, those who had nothing to do
refused to allow others to earn any pay on the plea that their entire force was
required to restrain some half a dozen white men from carrying out their instructions ;
to accomplish which purpose the whole male population of the town save two or three
were absent. Thus week after week were we delayed in a place capable of affording
but little diversion, the only occupation we found was to make daily raids on the
Canadian geese, which were fast beginning to appear from their summer resorts in
the north, upon the flats at low water, they afforded us good sport and constituted
our principal food, most days we would return with a few which we usually procured
by canoeing some two miles out to a small cluster of rocks, over which some were
sure to fly on their way to feed. How I longed on these occasions for a double 8 bore
with eight or nine drams of Powder and a heavy charge of buckshot, with which I
could constantly have raked a line of ten with most disastrous results, but I was forced
to content myself with my poor little 12 bore, its most creditable performance being
on one occasion three geese with the right, and one with the left barrel, the fourth we
lost owing to darkness setting in during the chase. Anyone who has tried shooting
these large heavily feathered birds, will be fully aware of the difficulty of stopping
them. A variety of sandpipers with an occasional snipe and golden plover would go
to complete the day's bag. Occasionally a hawk, declining to be alarmed in spite of
holloing and yelling on our parts, would seize and carry off a wounded or dead
sandpiper ere we could secure it. It soon became evident that if we delayed any
longer we stood a fair chance of never reaching our destination, we were therefore
compelled to engage an unknown crew, with whom we arranged for transport to
Kishpyox. After filling the canoe about a ton of supplies remained over, these we
were forced to leave behind to follow as best they might; we experienced a vast
difference between being our own masters, and having to conform to an Indian's idea
of comfort which was most noticeable in the selection of a camping place • each
evening, their notion of luxury on such occasions being restricted to the presence of
two articles, firewood and water, under these circumstances they invariably selected
the dirtiest and most uncomfortable spots on the river. We inevitably found ourselves
in one of three positions, either on large round shingles, where propping up the
tent, was attended with great labour and difficulty; in loose sand, which found its
way into every article; or on the side of a steep bank, where the very bed itself
worked out of the tent during the night. Remonstrance was useless, they were to
receive $95 for the job, and stopped when and where they pleased.    One night, so cramped was our position, that we were obliged to take in the rotten stump of a large
tree, there being no room for the tent on either side of it, this unwelcome guest,
though exceedingly pretty as a work of nature, was even too soft to sit on, and must
have been the asylum for all the spiders within a quarter of a mile. During the
night I clawed thirteen off my face, of all sizes, and threw them away with a shiver
of disgust; and doubtless as many more strolled over L., but she was always too
busy sleeping to attend to such details.
This river travelling we found weary work, we endured seventeen days of poleing,
shoving, lifting, towing with a rope, and occasionally packing the freight past some
spot more impassable than usual. Paddles were useless except for crossing from
one eddy to another, during which performance, on one occasion, we were very
awkwardly situated by coming in contact with the bottom of the river, the canoe
bumped heavily three times, and had it stuck, we should have overturned to a
certainty. The fury of the water in places was tremendous, much too varied and
complicated for description, sometimes with five of us on the rope and two poleing,
for we had been obliged to engage an extra Indian on the way, our progress was
scarcely visible. All along the banks and shallows lay hundreds and hundreds of
spent salmon, filling the air with a sickening smell, this carrion was thoroughly
appreciated by the white headed eagles and gulls ; and doubtless we should have
fallen in with a bear or two, but for the abominable yelling of the Indians—who,
never silent throughout the passage, appear to derive infinite satisfaction from hearing
their unmusical voices echo from mountain to mountain. The bears feed largely on
these dead salmon, their tracks being plentiful all along the river banks. Having
found fresh caribou tracks one Sunday—for my crew were so far Christianised, as
to regard the Sabbath as a day of rest, wherein they could indulge to the fullest
extent their naturally indolent natures, by alternately eating and sleeping throughout
the entire day—I promised them a holiday with full pay, if they would take us to a
place where I could hunt with any prospect of success ; to this they readily acceded,
selecting the most frequented spot on the river, namely, Lome Creek, where they
landed us at night, and from whence to strike game within a two days' journey, was
an impossibility. On discovering that they had simply studied their own convenience,
in choosing this place, I endeavoured to re-assemble them in the morning, for an
immediate start, but found it impossible to do so—they having got among their friends,
were thoroughly enjoying themselves at my expense, with the satisfaction of having
bested me. Seeing no help for it, we spent the day in inspecting the mining on the
creek, and observing the process of gold washing.
Next day we resumed our journey, and I was puzzled to find that above the big
canon, a somewhat formidable obstruction to canoes during high water, there were
no dead salmon; at least I only saw three. I was, therefore, forced to conclude,
perhaps erroneously, that after spawning,' in passing through this rugged and narrow
passage the weak fish were battered to death; quantities of those I observed below
being seriously damaged. I at first imagined that possibly the salmon did not pass
up the Canon, which would have accounted for all the dead ones being below; but I
found it presented no insurmountable obstacle to their upward journey; in fact, it
was little more than the commencement of a prolonged struggle to reach Babine
Lake. The river above was crowded with strong and healthy fish. Many persons
belonging to the Skeena believe, and indeed it appeared to be the universal impression,  73
that after spawning, the salmon all die a natural death, a circumstance I cannot
credit; for though they die in thousands in Babine Lake and River, yet I have seen
many old spent fish within sixty miles of the sea, with no hindrance to check their
reaching it, and as the water where I saw them was so thick, as to prevent a fish
being distinguished at over a foot in depth, I naturally concluded that, for every one
I observed, there must have been hundreds unperceived, all of which I surmised
gained the salt water in perfect safety. While on so interesting a topic as salmon,
I would crave the reader's indulgence, while narrating the results of a few personal
observations and experiences. At the same time, I am quite prepared to learn hereafter that any theory I now hold on the subject is erroneous in the extreme; therefore, beyond the facts which I am about to state, I lay no claim to being an authority
simply requesting the reader to entertain or reject my views as pleases him best.
I have made no special study of the many peculiarities of this fish, having
simply been a diligent observer when opportunity offered ; nor have I ever realised
more fully than at the moment of offering an opinion, the forcible truth of the old
proverb, that " a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." I am even doubtful in my
ignorance whether the seven—as I am informed—or possibly even more than seven
varieties of salmon inhabiting the Skeena are, any one of them, the true salmon.
I opened several salmon taken in the nets at the mouth of the Skeena, in all of which
I found quantities of sand eels, and from one to three fish about the size of a dace.
According to the Indians, upon whose veracity I place little reliance, the various
kinds inhabiting the Skeena are legion. They state that to each creek flowing into
the main river belongs a different variety, which appears there to spawn, and that
when shown one they can tell from which creek it was taken. The correctness of
this I have been unable to ascertain, but from personal observation, I have little
doubt that the Skeena river salmon would afford a considerably lengthened period of
investigation to any naturalist interested in the subject. My opinion is, that the
principal reason salmon very rarely feed in fresh water is because they find
nothing there suitable to their tastes with the exception possibly of worms and
minnows. I once saw one in England feeding, as I supposed on the latter in still
water. I failed actually to observe a minnow go into his mouth, but he frequently
darted into the midst of a crowd of them, and, on my throwing him a prawn, he
immediately devoured it. I believe that when a salmon takes an artificial fly he does
so, solely because he mistakes it for some marine insect or fish, upon which he has
been in the habit of feeding, but has seen nothing of since entering fresh water. It
is only necessary to examine an artificial fly from below when submerged to be struck
by its utter want of resemblance to the same article when held in the hand, its
appearance from the salmon's point of view being more that of some salt water
creature, such as a shrimp, prawn, etc., than anything else; yellow, grey or fancy
eagles, when properly worked, much resemble the appearance and erratic motions of
prawns, which, when not gliding steadily forward by a series of sharp flicks with the
tail propel themselves backwards in jerks, they also resemble more or less a large
variety of other creatures found in the sea, their wholesale resemblance I think
accounts for this description of fly being so successful a bait on the Hampshire
Avon, where the water is clear and by no means rapid. My reason for quoting this
river is that, living on its banks, I have had greater experience in its waters than in
any others;  its salmon seem more difficult to deceive than those of most rivers.
«& 74
The voraciousness of a spent salmon when in the kelt stage is well known to most
anglers, little comes amiss to him, from a huge and indifferently spun pike bait—real
or artificial—to the fly of any pattern or size, nor does he object to being hooked and
landed a second time within the month, hunger appears to have deprived him of all
instinct, yet how dainty has he become on his return to fresh water after the
complete restoration of health and beauty, probably never deigning to notice your
most artistically placed fly, the mere dragging of which through the water would a
month before have fetched him eagerly from the furthest distance within sight, but
he is now no longer hungry, indeed I doubt but that he has been over-fed, hence if
he deigns to take the fly at all, it is probably because it bears a varied resemblance
to some favourite or accustomed dainty, but give him time, he has only recently
entered the river, perhaps in an hour or so he will feel inclined for lunch. I think
that so comparatively few salmon being taken with the rod in the sea may be
accounted for from the fact, that in so large an expanse of water, where one
particular spot holds little advantage over another, fish must necessarily be greatly
scattered, and perhaps for an hour you are never casting within reach of one, and if.
you do occasionally place your lure over him, and he is on the feed, the chances are
he much prefers the natural repast upon which he is engaged, to anything you are
offering him, though you may thus unsuccessfully fish over one in salt water while
surrounded with every luxury, yet perhaps the first cast will take the same fish in the
river, where having seen nothing resembling his customary food for at least some
hours, and being as yet unused to fasting, he siezes the opportunity to snatch
a hasty meal from your deceptive fly. After a few days of river life, I
think it quite possible that the compulsory fast lessens the keen sense of hunger,
perhaps he begins to forget even the appearance of food, and so matters go from bad
to worse until he becomes stale, finally ere spawning declining any food whatever,
though an occasional freshet undoubtedly stirs up the fish and whets their appetite.
I base this theory upon the fact that a large percentage of fresh run salmon take the
fly freely, but that the longer they remain in the river before spawning, the more
slender the prospect of catching them. There can be no doubt that certain conditions
of atmosphere tend to lend a more natural appearance to the fly in the eyes of a
salmon ; even to the angler, the gut is more apparent on certain days than on others.
While in America in '86, I read an article in an English newspaper, wherein the
writer stated the notion of lampreys adhering to and feeding off other fish was old-
fashioned and absurd, though possibly old-fashioned, it is none the less correct. I
once killed a 25 lb. salmon in the Avon after an hour-and-a-half s tussle, being
delayed by having to send for a boat. Before this fish was gaffed, I noticed something peculiar sticking out of its side, and eventually while kicking in the bottom oi
the punt it dislodged a lamprey of about six or seven inches in length ; the spot where
the lamprey had located itself was devoid of scales and raw, the skin having been
apparently eaten through, the power of adhesion in this case must have been very great
to resist for so long a time the frantic struggles of the hooked salmon, even supposing
that he had not previously done his utmost to detach from his side so fretful and unwelcome a companion. Once while playing a salmon, an incident occurred to me which
has probably never happened to anyone before, nor is likely to do so in future. Never
previously had I heard of a bird selecting the angler's rod as a resting place at such a
critical moment; but a chiff-chaff chose this opportunity for perching on the top
&M joint of my rod while considerably curved with the strain of a 30 lb. fish, here the
bird remained unalarmed for perhaps half a minute. To return to the Skeena, which
is inhabited, I believe, by from three to four species of salmon (though, as I stated,
report vastly exceeds this number), which have their various seasons for running. I
know of no petty annoyance more galling than to find one's self situated as I was,
simply surrounded by these fish, which by no possible means could be induced to take
either fly, spoon, or minnow, though an occasional sea-trout was not quite so particular.
I was told that the Skeena river salmon, kelts included, were never caught with a
hook, but September was the only month I gave them a trial, at which time the water
was at its lowest stage. I have never heard of salmon being taken in any of the
western rivers of British Columbia with a hook, though plenty are so captured in the
sea and Cowichan Lake. They are so plentiful on occasions that by the sides of the
canons the Indians scoop them up in huge dip-nets with little difficulty.
CHAPTER X.
/^\N September 28, we reached the Forks of the Skeena, camping a mile below the
^^^ Indian Village, in fact close to the spot where we were ultimately destined to
spend the winter; shortly after turning in for the night, we were disturbed by the
Indians, who, having discovered our presence, forthwith held a council, which
resulted in the arrival of six of the tribe, who demanded to see me, I declined to turn
out, directing our interpreter (a boy from Metlakahtla) to say that I would see them
if necessary in the morning, they informed him with much warmth that we should
not be allowed to proceed, but must return to the coast on the morrow. Next day,
L. and I walked to the village with our interpreter, leaving orders for our canoe to
pick us up there, intending after an interview with the chief, to continue our journey,
however, on entering his lodge where the members of that all important assemblage,
called the council, were gathered together, a glance around sufficed to assure us that
our presence was regarded with much ill feeling and hostility. Do and say what we
would, we found it impossible to convince them that we were not surveyors come to
deprive them of their lands ; finally, as they utterly declined to allow us to proceed,
we decided to remain one day, and then failing to instil common sense into their dull
brains, we determined to put their threats of forcible detention to the test; council
after council was held in our honour during the day, yet they continued to behold us
in the light of a formidable enemy. On the morrow, finding them still of the same
determination, we decided to stand no more nonsense, and in any case to make an
attempt to proceed ; we therefore ordered our crew, much against their inclination, to
man the canoe preparatory to a start, and surrounded by a band of wildly gesticulating
Indians, one of whom stood knife in hand ready to cut our tow line, we solemnly took
our seats ; a considerable crowd had by this time assembled on the shore, some of
whom menacingly held our tow line which they threatened to cut. I therefore landed
in order to hold a final parley with the chief, which resulted in my writing a few lines
on a slip of paper, to the effect that I was no surveyor, and that I should decline to
accept their lands, if even in a fit of generosity they should offer them to me. Miserable An Indian Bowl.
76
jabbering idiots, had I known them then as I do now, I should not have wasted a
moment's thought over their cowardly threats. Seeing that we were determined,
together with the valuable document held by the chief, the signature of which
apparently produced a deep interest, they instantly subsided, and we passed on
unmolested, much to the satisfaction of our trembling crew, some of whom looked
as livid as an Indian can look, unaided by soap and water.
It was but a day's journey to Kishpyox, on the way we fell in with Mr. Tomlinson,
Mr. Duncan's colleague, who, -from having lived among the Kishpyox Indians
retained some influence over them, he had heard of our difficulty and was then, very
kindly on his way to our assistance; he and Mr. Duncan rule the Indians to a greater
extent than anyone else far
beyond this point, but I much
doubt if even Mr. Duncan's
power would prove efficient
in preventing them from taking their own course in certain emergencies.
Mr. Tomlinson now accompanied us to the small
village in his canoe, promising to see us safely installed
in our winter quarters before
leaving for the coast. Just previous to reaching our destination, we met with the
only serious accident that befel us during the journey, while rounding a point, the
swift current caught the bow of the canoe, rendering futile, all efforts to keep her
straight, eventually sweeping her broadside on to a solitary and partly submerged
rock, she narrowly escaped turning over, and with a single report, split from stem to
stern, leaking rapidly from the now gaping crack, we were forced to make for the
nearest accessible landing place, baling hard in order to keep the freight dry, this
unfortunate termination, necessitated an uncomfortable camp, for it was impossible
to go further without considerable repairs. Mr. Tomlinson proceeded to the village
to arrange that our freight should be packed the first thing next day, the place we had
selected being about seven miles distant. Imagine our surprise when on his return he
told us they refused to pack our things under a prohibitorily exorbitant price amounting
to something like £100, the whole of the following day was spent in the customary
councils, without which no conclusion can apparently be arrived at upon the most
trivial subject; throughout this, a decidedly hostile feeling was maintained towards us.
Mr. Tomlinson finally remarked, " the fact is they wont have you in their country, if
you do get where you intend and I leave you, you will be cut off from the river and
thoroughly in their power, their evident intention is to molest you ; take my advice,
therefore, and give up the project or I cannot answer for your safety;" this from a
man thoroughly acquainted with the character of these people could only impress me
with the absolute necessity of giving up my previous plans for the ensuing winter.
How little could even Mr. Tomlinson depend on his knowledge of these people, is
seen from the fact that he was unable to instal us in the very country in which he had
lived so long, and from which we were now ignominiously forced to beat a retreat; the
only plan open to us was to seek some other hunting ground, though a move to any 77
distance was rendered impossible from the fact that all our resources had been
expended in provisioning ourselves for the winter, which, together with travelling
expenses left something under $ ioo in hand, a further increase to this sum would
not be available for seven months, besides which severe cold might set in any day, in
which event a house was absolutely necessary. If we returned to the coast it would
be to spend the winter in an almost incessant deluge of rain, and the only game,
wolves, deer and goats. I had thoroughly relied on a successful winter's trapping in
the locality we were now forced to vacate, and the sum necessary to take us anywhere
else, we could not procure, therefore bitterly disappointed we decided to return to the
Forks where I hoped to find sufficient game to keep me fairly employed until
the spring.
The canoe having been temporarily repaired at the expense of several blankets,
during the intervening day since reaching Kishpyox, proved, after replacing the
freight, just capable of transferring us to the Forks. I proposed building a hut about'
ten miles off at the foot of some convenient mountain. This proceeding the still
suspicious Indians utterly refused to sanction, magnanimously granting us permission
to locate ourselves in their filthy village, which we decidedly declined to do, and after
considerable trouble we were forced to make the best of a triangular spot a little
below the village, thickly studded with huge cotton trees, bounded on the west by the
Skeena, on the east and south by the Buckley River, and on thejnorth-by^the^lndians.
This place was evidently selected for us in order to insure the impossibility of our
becoming fixtures, for in the summer, on the rising of the waters, it was occasionally
completely flooded. The cotton logs were so heavy and unwieldy as to necessitate
the combined strength of six men to move them, under these circumstances we were
forced to employ Indians to construct the shell of our hut, but ere they had finished
our funds gave out, and we completed the work ourselves, finally turning out a very
creditable little shanty, in the fitting up of which we received considerable aid and 78
kindness from Mr. Clifford, the manager of the Hudson Bay Store, who by procuring
for us such materials as slabs, &c, from the Indians prevented us from being
extensively robbed, for if an Indian happens to discover that you urgently require
anything with which he alone can provide you, he immediately places an exorbitant
price upon the article. I will not dwell upon the at first insurmountable difficulty
of constructing a substantial fireplace out of round stones and loose sediment from
the river's bank. With the aid of some pieces of sheet iron we turned out what
ultimately became the envy of all beholders, the most luxurious white man never
having previously thought of consoling himself with anything more cheerful than an
iron stove. The fact of no firewood existing within a very considerable distance
proved a constant source of heavy and uninteresting labour, which was principally
undertaken by Fred. It soon became apparent that the proceeds of the winter's
trapping would be extremely limited, resulting in tramping some hundred or so miles
for every amimal captured, the whole country being overrun with Indians, wherever
I went my steps were dogged and every proceeding anxiously watched. I rarely set
a trap that was not visited by my enquiring neighbours, who occasionally trampled
down the snow over it in order to prevent its springing, added to which when I was
successful in destroying a wolf or so, steps were taken to prevent the repetition of
such an event.
I shortly confirmed the impression, which, since my visit to British Columbia, had
been steadily forcing itself upon me, though from previously slight experience in
America, I arrived with a heart full of compassion and sympathy for what I then
imagined to be the noble savages, whose numbers were gradually but surely
diminishing under the increasing presence of the white man. I thought it cruel, that
the race must eventually be extinguished by the oppression and hardships necessarily
enforced upon them by the usurpation of their former territory. I knew that they were
but following out the law of nature, which insists that the stronger shall survive, but
I felt for them deeply. I did not know them then, I had had no insight into their
character, utterly and marvellously devoid of one solitary redeeming point. I had
not been subjected to their insolent lying and thieving natures. But I shortly learned
to value them at their true worth, the result of which valuation confirms me in the
opinion, even when opposed to the most powerful argument conceivable in their
favour, that the sooner every vestige of this almost inhuman being (whose very
bestiality, thanks to his possession of the power of reason is inimitable by the most
repulsive of animals) is wiped from the face of the earth, the greater the advantage
to the remainder of its inhabitants ; hard words I acknowledge, but go and see them
in their homes, study their want of character, associate with creatures, who from the
cradle have derived pleasure from the torture of dumb animals, whose nature is utterly
devoid of gratitude, whose very language contains no equivalent for " thank you,''
study them as I have been forced to do, and if then you share not my opinion, you
must at least feel disgusted and humiliated, by finding so repulsive a beast formed in
the same mould as yourself, and retaining to all outward appearance, the qualities of
a man. Did I think that even one more Duncan existed, or was in process of creation,
then I should say, spare a few of them, but I fear his like will not be seen again
therefore I say, let them go, and if their extinction can be honourably and reasonably
hastened, lose not so favourable an opportunity of ridding the earth of so unearthly a
burden.    Having acquired few experiences, save those unsought, among the Indians 79
throughout the dreary winter, I trust the reader will pardon occasional allusions to
them, and that he will at the same time fully understand that the word Indian, though
covering a large collection of tribes, is used by me solely in connection with those
with whom I have come in contact. The first I had much to do with were the
Timsians, around the mouth of the Skeena, some I found serviceable and attentive
others bad and worthless, but for private reasons I have no desire to discuss the merits of
this tribe, who are principally under the control of the only man who ever thoroughly
understood the race. I shall therefore confine myself chiefly to the Giatikshans with
whose varied customs I became intimate. I much doubt if these Indians differ
materially from the many other branches by whom they are surrounded, so that my
remarks may be pretty generally applied to the majority of Indians in this division.
On my first arrival at the Forks I was forced to attend a council held in the chief's lodge,
where I beheld the most disgusting and revolting sights, only equalled, but in a
manner far less objectionable to the observer in the monkey house at the Zoo, here
in one large hut were huddled together some eighty people. Old hags, their withered
forms partially covered by blankets, crawled about on sticks, men and children lay
around on filthy rags, more or less clothed, mingled with miserable skeletons of
dogs to the number of about
thirty. Women were busily
engaged in picking the vermin
out of one another's heads,
these they ate greedily, occasionally even searching for a
dropped one, which when recovered shared the customary
fate ; it was hardly possible to
imagine that these were human
beings who could be so disgustingly  degraded.
There, too, I saw a piteous
sight, my attention being attracted to a dirty heap of rags
by the small moans of anguish
uttered incessantly by a miserable little fragment of a boy
about ten years of age, whose
face, drawn and pinched from long suffering, wore an unearthly appearance. He lay
naked with the exception of a handkerchief tied round his leg, that being the only
attempt made to mend the broken limb, broken months before, yet still causing intense
suffering, as could be seen from the small bony hand which constantly sought the
fractured part to endeavour by rubbing to relieve the ceaseless pain, the damage I
deemed of too long standing for other than a professional to deal with then, yet one
would have supposed that even an Indian could have conceived a superior splint to
a mere handkerchief, four months later this miserable little sufferer still existed,
pieces of decayed bone frequently coming away, though marvellous to relate, he
ultimately recovered his health. The Indians around appeared perfectly callous to
his  suffering, a short time   after   this they even turned a comrade  in a helpless 8o
condition out of their lodge, he was dying of consumption, but annoyed those about
him by moaning; he soon terminated hisexistence in atent which had been erected over
him, his mother used to sit night after night in the bitterest cold yelling and singing
over his grave for four months after. Such a proceeding does not arise as one
would suppose from grief, but is according to Indian custom. While living in the
village many incidents similar to these came under our notice ; but when we moved
into our shanty we were thankful to pass peaceful nights and days comparatively
undisturbed by Indian horrors.
CHAPTER   XI.
'"PHE Indians of the Rockies own " Squaws," and are the possessors of a more
or less numerous supply of " papooses." Here they marry wives and talk
of their families. They term the old women hags, and most graphic is the
resemblance. These old hags too feeble to fetch firewood, and the others too lazy to
do so, each inhabitant in a lodge being obliged to provide their own fuel for cooking,
will make a small bundle of sticks last a surprising long time. They crawl to the
large open fireplace situated in the centre of the lodge, from which the smoke ascends
through a hole in the roof, constructed apparently by the explosion of a considerable
amount of gunpowder, so irregular is the orifice, kindle their few sticks and cook their
piece of salmon. When this cooking is finished they spit on the sticks, and return
with them to bed, depositing them under their rags in readiness for the next meal;
nor will they allow another to make use of their fire. Their dogs being never fed,
except for about a week before they are required for packing or tobogganing, are
ever in a starving condition. During the winter I was among them, owing to
unusually extensive feasting, the supply of dried salmon was nearly exhausted, and
.the dogs literally starved to death. It was a common event to see one lying dead by
the trail, having died in harness, under the kicks and otherwise brutal treatment of
a fiendish master. It was dangerous even to approach an Indian dwelling at this
period unprovided with a stick, owing to their starving ferocity. They devoured
every description of filth they could discover. One once snapped the cloth with
which Fred was wiping out a pan, from his hand, and swallowed it in a single gulp.
To leave the door open for a minute meant the loss of every edible article within
reach. Even on going out a dog would frequently push past. Many and many a
dinner did we lose by such means, nor at night did they hesitate to scramble on to
the roof of our hut in their endeavours to find an entrance. It was truly piteous to
see these poor starving animals wandering about, making a passing meal by endeavouring to extract nutriment, by chewing up an old fruit tin. Later in the winter we
were only troubled by the presence of one, which having become strong upon the
scraps thrown out of the hut, succeeded in keeping away all other intruders. He
would sleep under the snow near the trail all night, with the thermometer far below
zero, in order to secure his breakfast in the morning. Indians are inconceivably
disgusting feeders. I have seen them eat that which a bear would not touch ; in
fact, they are only equalled though not surpassed, in this respect, by their dogs Mr
81
which devour nothing that their masters would not willingly have shared, or in all
probability have taken the whole of, had they come across it first, excepting possibly,
tin pots, oil paint, dish cloths, fork handles, and a few other equally indigestible
articles, all of which, though appearing to agree with the dogs, I think calculated to
have an opposite effect on a human being. It used to surprise us, that whenever we
bought grouse or hares from an Indian they were invariably minus their insides.
These particular dainties we found they looked upon as their perquisites, and ate
just as they came from the bird or animal, consuming everything they found
therein. Even could certain indescribable horrors, of which I have been the actual
witness, be written, I could not hope to be believed were I to recount them; nor,
even knowing Indians as I now do, could I have given such things credit had I not
seen for myself. What I have observed could never have been enacted by the lower
animals, as only those gifted with the power of reason would be capable of utilising it to so
abominable an end. Let us, however, leave so distasteful a subject, which, were it possible, I would qualify in a measure by the recital of some deed of grace on the part of an
Indian ; but of the occurrence of such a phenomenon I have never heard in real life,
nor have I ever observed one little point to indicate that his whole composition was
not a conglomeration of vices. I must even deprive him of what has been described
as the wonderful sight of the noble savage, unimpaired by the glaring gas and late
hours of civilised life. Now, my experience of this ignoble being goes to prove that
one of his principal derangements is either total or partial blindness. I have seen
more of such cases among the comparatively few Indians with whom I have
associated, than I ever observed in the whole of my existence among white people.
This diseased state of the eye is, I have little doubt, to a considerable extent caused
by the fact that they spend the greater portion of their lives in a more or less dense
cloud of smoke, though oddly enough the proportion of partially blind children being
nearly as great as that of the adults would point to the probability of blindness having
become hereditary among them, though another prevalent disease is probably the
chief agent. I have been unable to distinguish any superiority in the vision of a
sound Indian over that of a white man, of course, from frequent collision with game,
he gains the advantage of instantly recognising, say a stationary deer in what would
appear to the uneducated eye as nothing more unusual than a dead bush. By his long
experience he is enabled immediately to realise the true nature of what he sees, in
this experience lies his sole advantage; the white man observes each object just as
clearly, but having seen, fails to connect what he takes for the stump of a tree with
the outline of a bear ; thus for want of adaptation the white man passes unheeded as
a stump, what he of a life's experience, immediately recognises as an animal, thus I
consider that the actual sight of the Indian is no better than that of any other sound
race.
One night we heard in the next hut to that in which we were staying, when in
the village, a constant singing, kept up hour after hour, occasionally broken by a distressed groan as of exhaustion, on enquiring, we found it to proceed from an old blind
Indian, who had been told by the medicine man that his ailment was occasioned by
a son°- having got into his eyes (all complaints are attributed to the presence of an
intruding song or spirit), and that in order to regain his sight, it was necessary for
him to sing out the intruding song, so this poor old dolt was nightly and daily singing
himself into his grave, from the necessary strain on his feeble constitution, in the if
82
vain endeavour by such means to cure his malady. The dead of winter, when little
or no hunting can be done, is passed by the Indians in one continual feast, either at
the adjacent villages, or in their own. On the occasion of the raising of a chiefs pole,
a feast is absolutely essential, otherwise I doubt the possibility of sufficient hands
being forthcoming to erect so gigantic a structure, the chief who gives a feast, has
saved up for perhaps ten years to provide for the occasion, it being necessary to show
his superiority by destroying and giving away a considerable amount of property,
usually blankets, though he will occasionally show his enormous wealth by recklessly
smashing new rifles across his pole with apparent unconcern. The result of this
wanton destruction leaves him for several years one of the poorest inhabitants of his
village, though the proud possessor of a pole, with the crest of his tribe fantastically
carved and painted upon it, and the number of rifles destroyed drawn on a board and
suspended as a memento of the past folly of an Indian millionaire.
During the winter it is no very unusual circumstance to see an Indian seized with
a fit, occasioned from over eating, they think nothing of it unless it be that they
acquire a feeling of pride in having eclipsed their fellows in making beasts of
themselves. As the result of sending out messengers to proclaim a feast, hundreds of
guests pour in, nor do they get rid of these again until everything is consumed, even
then they are frequently driven to freeze them out, by providing no firewood. A
favorite dish among them is composed of a quantity of flour and treacle, mixed up in
the bottom of the nearest canoe, regardless of the amount of filth it may contain in
the form of putrid remnants of fish, etc. When the compound is considered
sufficiently mixed, the chief runs his hands through the mess, and should it meet
with his approval they all set to work to fill themselves, while barefooted children are
frequently running through it, this concoction is more essentially a coast Indian dish,,
though a similar one of berries mixed into a froth is partaken of in the same fashion
by the interior Indians, except that when the mouth is filled with the froth, after
being retained for a few seconds it is blown gently out, until it hangs down the chin
like a long red tongue, when it is sucked, up again and swallowed, apparently
affording intense satisfaction; the comical appearance of several Indians squatting
round a canoe during this performance can be readily imagined. 83
1
O
CHAPTER   XII.
N one occasion we were awoke in the middle of the night by the chiefs son, who
had been hunting with me only few days previously, but was now by way of
being inspired or mad, he rushed wildly about in a naked
condition   demanding  a  dog to  eat;    considering   the
number of them about, what was to prevent his procuring one for himself we failed to imagine, unless by so
doing he  would have  dispelled  the  illusion, for  none
being offered, he continued his yellings on several successive nights, but a month or so later, during the great
feast, his unnatural desire was gratified in due form.    It
being proclaimed throughout the village that the ceremony of dog-eating would take place on the morrow,
gave those who cared to witness such a
sight the opportunity of so doing.   Soon
after daybreak five medicine men in full
dress appeared wandering through the
snow, apparently in search of something.
Presently a stark naked form presented
itself, blue   with   the   cold,   and   after
grovelling in the snow on all fours, it
came bounding towards the men, and
seizing from one the dead dog carried
by him, he, for it was the chief's son,
immediately tore out the intestines with
his teeth, savagely worrying the animal,
until his chest and face were covered
with gore, presenting a ghastly spectacle.
I am unable to say if he actually swallowed any portion, or simply tore the
animal in pieces.    To my mind, by far
the most marvellous part of the performance was the fact of this perfectly naked
man having existed throughout the night
in the deep snow, though, as it  happened, there were  only 10 degrees  of
frost on that particular occasion.    After
considerable enquiry, I ascertained for
certain  that  he  had   been   wandering
about since two o'clock in the morning.
I was  informed that after this performance he was entitled to the rank of
a medicine man, and I know for certain
that he caught a severe  cold.     That
G 2
Medicine Man's Rattle 84
Indians have an extraordinary power of endurance had been apparent to me on
several previous occasions. A woman about this period went through much the
same ordeal, except that she wore stockings and moccasins, though they are not
naturally modest. After wandering through the snow the greater part of the night,
she shortly after daybreak arrayed herself in fancy costume, and entered several
huts, breaking with a club every accessible article of value, on the understanding that
for all damaged goods she should pay double their worth. This escapade likewise
entitled her to some coveted position, I know not what. In one respect an Indian is
placed at a considerable disadvantage to mankind in general, by no possibility can he
swear in his native tongue, by what equivalent means he relieves his pent up feelings
I cannot say, though a sound British oath I have found to be the only English one
or two were capable of uttering; it is always a grim satisfaction to me to know that
one consolation at least is denied to this undeserving creation, whose natural life is
one of uninterrupted happiness, unbroken by a single care, for I believe in his true
state, trouble of any sort is or rather was unknown to him, he needs but food, to
obtain which in abundance necessitates little exertion ; love does not exist in him,
therefore the death of others causes no pain; death itself should have no terrors, for
he doubts not his future happiness. But with the advent of the white man, be he
trader, miner, or missionary, his peace of mind terminates and troubles rapidly
accumulate: were he some handsome animal, laws for his successful preservation
would probably be passed, but possessing neither beauty nor utility, and being when
opposed to civilisation an undoubted encumbrance, he must inevitably disappear,
after becoming a burden to himself and to the world in general. Strange it
seems that the blessing civilisation usually confers on us should prove little
short of a curse to the Indian, yet such appears to be the case ; nor does the fact of
his being human, offer him the least advantage, but very much the reverse.    The wild
beast, therefore, will ultimately survive the Indian.
Indians of the present day are great gamblers, frequently gaming all day long, and far into the night,
accompanying their play with a deafening din.
Their game is one of chance, though they imagine
considerable skill necessary in playing it. They
proceed thus: always the bearers of one crest
contend against those of another, either their own
tribe or otherwise ; the game commences by two or
three taking up a position, out of doors if fine, with
a long board, and species of tambourine, finally
others come flocking round, having been summoned
by hammering on the board with sticks, and beating on the tamborine ; the opposing side (there are
usually from six to ten on a side) provide another
board and tambourine, and seating themselves
opposite their opponents, the staking commences,
one stakes a blanket, someone on the other side
covers it with something acknowledged to be of
equal value, another pulls off his shift, throwing it
into the centre, an opponent relieving himself of his boots covers it, and so on, until all
Ancient Stone Adze.  86
who desire to stake have done so ; then whichever side has the lead commences
hammering on the board, banging the tambourine, and howling a discordant chant,
jerking up and down on their haunches in a most violent manner, while the player
for the time being, juggles with two or four bones in his hands, exerting himself to the
utmost while changing them from one hand to the other ; the object is now for the
opposite side to guess in which hand the marked bone is ; one at a time being selected
for this purpose, who after some six minutes mature consideration, makes his selection
by a sign, should he guess right, for it is pure guess work, his side receives the bones
and gains one or two sticks, each side having been previously provided with six of
these as markers. Those who lost, now cease their clamour, which is taken up by
their opponents in another tune, and the struggle noisily continues ; lasting sometimes for two or even more days, before being decided; indeed, I never saw the
termination of a game, though I have frequently watched until one side had lost all their
sticks, when they appeared to commence over again. Slow though this entertainment
appears to be, some manage to lose everything they possess; a miner told me that
he had seen an Indian after losing every article upon him, hurry off to fetch his wife's
clothes, after these had followed the rest of his goods, he finally staked his wife, with
what result my informant was unaware ; they have been known, as a last resource,
to stake themselves as slaves; in any case, through the game many are reduced to
abject distress. The hideous and incessant noise being enough to madden them into
the bargain, while the prolonged exertion causes the perspiration to stream from their
faces, their hands become so moist as to necessitate their constantly clawing up the
earth, in order to retain the bones.
Among the Timsians I saw but two fairly good-looking male Indians, but of the
Giatikshans those who were not plain were repulsively ugly, with high cheek-bones,
broad faces, and squat noses, huge heavily-lipped mouths, and coarse, straight,
black hair, their faces being frequently rendered more hideous by fantastic devices
painted in red and black stripes and spots, though to do them justice they appeared
far superior artists to the women, who were invariably satisfied by placing daubs of
red indiscriminately over their features, occasionally varying the monotony with
black. I have frequently seen a woman's face completely covered as though with
tar, with vermilion round and over the eyes, and the same colour down her parting,
and for an inch over the forehead. When in mourning the latter smear themselves
with a mixture of charred wood and oil, bestowing a like adornment on their
children, whose faces in times of joy are completely covered with red paint. The
loss of a child or relation is always a serious matter to an Indian, causing a melancholy appearance which I used to mistake for grief, until I discovered it to be
occasioned by the necessity of providing a feast to the memory of the departed, in
obedience to Indian etiquette. They have an extraordinary partiality for medicines,
their favourite being castor-oil, which they purchase in large quantities, consuming
at one time sufficient to kill any ordinary mortal. It is always a dangerous and
thankless experiment to doctor them. Should one die from any cause whatever
while under your treatment you find yourself, according to their laws, responsible for
the death, and under the necessity of paying the family handsomely for the loss of
one whose great value they only discover on such an occasion. They much relish
any description of grease, particularly the oil procured from that most remarkable
little fish.the  Oulachon, which is the most filthy and horrible-smelling extraction I m
«w
87
have ever come across. They mix their berries, and, in fact, all food with it, and
have usually a large supply by them. These fish are captured in inconceivable
quantities on the Naas in the spring. The Giatikshan women are treated with more
equality than is the case with the Plains Indians. True, if there is but one pack between
man and woman she will have to carry it, and if there be two hers will be by far the
heavier. One hundred pounds is the usual weight, though this is occasionally
considerably exceeded. They have also plenty of work to do in the berry season,
nevertheless the women generally have their say, in some cases domineering over
their weaker half. It is no unusual circumstance to hear an Indian state that, before
accepting your offer for a certain article, he will consult his wife, though his probable
object in so doing is to gain time in order to ascertain if he can get no higher price
elsewhere ; but I have seen a woman stoutly decline to allow her husband to part
with a canoe he had already sold to me, finally forcing him to repudiate the bargain.
The women's special province appears to be to prepare and take care of the dried
fish and berries for the winter's use. The former have to be packed a considerable
distance from the store, for if kept in the village it has to be stored in little houses
elevated some fourteen feet from the ground, as a protection from the starving dogs.
Long and unsuccessfully did I seek the beautiful Indian maiden of the novels, but, alas,
all I discovered were ever cast in the same mould—large, heavy, coarse faces, usually
undistinguishable from the men's—massive bodies, the same size all the way down,
except at the waist, which probably exceeded in bulk all other portions of the frame,
and feet turned in like gorillas. I once saw what I believe to have been a thoroughbred Indian with fair hair, she was standing with another, both in the garb of
nature, craning round a rock intently gazing at our canoe as it was being hauled over
some rapids. Having landed in order to stretch my legs, I came suddenly on these
nymphs who were so interested as to allow me to approach unperceived to within two
yards when, with a yell they separated and fled. I doubt if it was modesty which
caused their retreat, they were both aged, and had their painting been exhibited
in the Royal Academy, the British matron would for once have had just cause for
indignation. Many of the women adorn the lower lip with a piece of bone or
mother of pearl, a pin being first inserted which is in time replaced by either of the
previously mentioned articles, the whole being gradually enlarged according to her
rank or age until it becomes capable of holding an ornament the
size of the sketch. In this condition the lip sticks straight out,
except with old women when it
hangs on the chin, presenting
a repulsive appearance when,
usually for want of teeth, the
—- whole of the inside of the
mouth is exposed to view.
This fashion appeared more
Labrette, or Lip Ornament.
prevalent among the Timsians than the Giatikshans, the former wearing far larger
ornaments. During the winter a popular amusement with the Indian consisted
in playing at soldiers, they had somehow procured a few old uniforms in which they
stalked about, the principal feature being an old dead woman, who, stiff with the 88
Indian woman with iabrette.
frost, they brought on to parade supported on sticks in which fashion she headed the
procession as it wended its way through the village, but after six weeks wear
and tear, the weather having broken up she began to give out, and being of no
further service, was taken away and burned.
The   chief also held   an   important   post
on these occasions, he  was a miserable
specimen of partially animated humanity,
rejoicing in the name of Kittymondor, and
usually   spent  his  time  wandering   aimlessly    about,   with    broad    silver    rings
through  his   nose  and   ears.     When  he
occasionally  came  to  call on   us he appeared perfectly content if allowed to put
his head in the fire and look up the chimney.
When on the coast our crew used frequently to make us feel most uncomfortable;
if one wanted anything he would stroll up to
the fire and remain steadfastly staring at us,
when finally after shifting from one leg to the other for at least ten minutes he would
ask for the loan of the frying pan.   We soon became accustomed to this almost
universal habit, and always correctly judging that when one of the race put in  an
appearance it was that he required something, therefore met him half way with
| what do you want ? " this we found saved a most uncomfortable suspense.   We also
proved the importance of never giving anything to them unless in exchange or in
payment for some service.    After receiving one present they were certain to pester
us for more, besides which, each of the relations will probably demand as a right
an equivalent to that which you have, in your ignorance of their grasping natures,
been generous enough to give to their comrade ; even if while camping you have any
food you do not want, it is usually best to throw it away, or on the next  occasion
they will cooly demand any little delicacy you thought fit to bestow on them before.
Should a chief do you the doubtful honor of calling to pay his respects, it is well to
bear in mind that etiquette forbids him to leave until you say go, otherwise you may
find  yourself placed in the  wearisome position of a friend of mine on whom  a
mighty chief called, these two being unable to speak the other's language, sat staring
and occasionally smiling or nodding at one another for over an hour, the one longing
for his conge the other equally anxious to be rid of so wearisome a visitor.   Somehow,
to say go seems so utterly at variance with one's natural feelings that I have ever
found such a form of amicable dismissal to stick in my throat.    If you are living in a
hut let it be understood that on no pretence will an Indian be allowed to enter, or if you
desire to purchase anything, restrict them to the kitchen or any room you do not
frequent, otherwise they will burst in whenever they please to remain squatting for hours
before the fire, never losing an opportunity of stealing any little article that may be lying
about; nor for this reason, in the event of their having gained admittance, should they
ever be left alone.   Never permit them in your tent under any circumstances, if they do
not seize the opportunity to relieve you of something from the general medley usually
existing in so small a compass, they will squat on your bed clothes in all probability
leaving behind certain of their parasites most repugnant to a civilised mortal.
"W?- CHAPTER XIII.
T HAVE observed five modes of disposing of their dead among Indians. In the
Rocky Mountains, a corpse may occasionally be found in the branches of a tree,
lying on a framework of boughs. I once discovered there, under a shelving rock, a
few old bones ; and as bones, especially when human, have a considerable interest for
me, always promising an addition to my collection of skulls, I returned to camp to
obtain a spade, with which I turned up  the loose rocks and earth around the spot.
^SSv
m
w:
&m
-ssfp
w^m
U
w
m
m
m
^^m
m^,
All the bones found, must, I think, have belonged to some animal; but I was, to a
certain extent rewarded by the discovery of a buffalo robe, pieces of hide, poles, and
a pair of snowshoes, all in a more or less decomposed state. The appearance of the
spot was not that of a cache. I therefore conclude that the luckless owner must have
met with some fatal mishap, which necessitated the desertion of his outfit. go
'
Along the Pacific coast, not far from Victoria, were to be seen some small islands,
where the Indians were formerly in the habit of disposing of their dead by the
simple process of depositing them on the bare rock or ground. A common practice
amone the coast Indians is to place their dead in canoes, but about Metlakahtla the
ordinary civilised burial is enforced. For about 200 miles up the Skeena, as far as
Kishpyox, which was the limit of my travels in that direction, I observed that, with
rare exceptions a species of cremation was resorted to ; the bodies being placed on a
pile of logs are consumed until all is reduced to ashes. These are enclosed by
wooden palings, or placed in a box, or else in a contrivance resembling a dog-kennel.
The hat, coat, and various other articles formerly belonging to the dead man being
hung up within the palings presumably for future use. In the case of a baby, the
cradle was frequently deposited on the ashes. Most, grotesquely carved poles were
also erected. One, I noticed, on the banks of the Skeena, was about thirty feet high,
surmounted by a carved head and body in representation of the proprietor of the six
feet of earth below, with a pipe in his mouth, wearing an old cloth coat and tall hat,
with a decidedly rakish appearance. Such exhibitions never seem to strike an Indian
as being in any way ridiculous, possibly his sense in that respect is not over keen.
The almost constant rattling, singing and tambourine beating of the medicine men
used to prove most monotonous to us, causing us to feel a positive relief, when, by
spouting water from their mouths, placing owls on their chests, and practising various
other tomfooleries, they finally hastened the death of the already dying victim.
Medicine men receive considerable pay for the administration of their arts, which
if they ever effected a cure would, I fancy, be traceable to ignorantly applied
mesmerism.
I think when selecting Indians to accompany me on a trip I should avoid those
calling themselves Christians, they are undoubtedly more apt at deceit, simply
utilising their knowledge of Christianity as a blind, in order to the more easily rob
or otherwise annoy one. Except in very rare instances no reliance should be placed
on any Indian, he will as readily as not desert you at the most critical moment,
though by so doing he places you in the utmost peril; therefore, if possible, take the
advice of some white man on the spot in making a selection, or you may find
yourself placed in the most awkward and risky position, not knowing which way to
turn, with every prospect of eventually starving in some unknown locality. I have
always found that when an Indian desires to sell anything he cannot be induced to
state a price, fearing lest he should ask a smaller sum than you are prepared to give,
neither will any offer you make be considered enough. The most trivial trading
with these Skeena Indians usually occupied me from one to twenty-four hours
before my terms would be accepted, during which interval they would go away some
three or four times, always returning with a newly invented lie. When having
finally assured themselves that no higher price could be obtained elsewhere they
would accept my offer. To be discovered in a falsehood affects them in no manner,
indeed they take little pains to avoid such an exposure ; while stealing is regarded as
rather a commendable accomplishment than otherwise. One member of a family
thieving from the others as readily as from a stranger. It is with them as with
certain of our civilised vices—the only wrong seems to be getting found out. I feel
that the reader will be asking himself what all this Indian nonsense has to do with
hunting ?    But my principal object in thus lengthily exposing some of their frauds is to so convey a correct impression of their character as to place those coming in
contact with them hereafter thoroughly on their guard, thereby benefiting them by
the dearly purchased experience of one whose whole autumn, winter, and spring
hunting for one year was ruined at their hands (not to mention minor annoyances).
In fact there was little hunting to recount for the winter of 1886, the blank therefore
being filled with such general information as is deemed of probable assistance to
future sportsmen. The year 1886 faded away to the very end without the addition
of a single trophy since reaching the Forks. I had been out several times after
caribou, which, naturally a timid and suspicious animal, had from being constantly
hunted become so keenly on the alert as to render fair stalking almost impossible,
though I should have had two chances had not the possibility of a shot been barred
by my Indian hunters, a different one on each occasion, but worthless in the first
instance and worse in the second. After trying a third trip into the mountains I
determined that no Indian should again accompany me, therefore with Fred's
•assistance we conveyed a few blankets and cooking utensils a day's journey up ah
adjacent mountain, and there cached them in the snow ; but we soon found such
doubtful sport as existed hardly worth the undeniable discomfort we suffered during
windy nights, three parts of the way up a mountain with the thermometer ever
below zero, our only shelter being a few airy fir boughs. We had but one consolation
in being there, namely, that no Indian had cared to follow us to our camping place
though some had made an effort to do so, but had found the risk of freezing, by not
getting back the same day, too great to be chanced ; we therefore had this mountain
to ourselves. One day, while returning to camp, after unsuccessfully endeavouring
to obtain a shot at a band of caribou, I perceived an eagle in the distance. Not
having previously noticed one in the neighbourhood of the Forks, I stood still the
better to observe it. The ground was at this period covered with about six inches
of snow, except on the summit of the mountain, where it was considerably deeper,
therefore as I stood I should have been a conspicuous object. Presently I was
surprised to notice how unusually close the bird was approaching, but concluded it
must have mistaken me for a stump, and would immediately discover the mistake ;
it never however deviated from its course, nor changed its position, except to hang
its legs slightly when about ten yards distant, and in a line with my head ; these it
quickly gathered up, again flying directly at my face, which so took me by surprise
as to leave me bare time to hold up my rifle as a guard, and wave my left hand about;
this caused it to pass a yard above me with the rush of half a dozen rockets. Up to
this time, the idea of harming the bird had never entered my mind, but its most
unwarrantable assult filled me with a sudden feeling of resentment, causing me to
face about and fire at the retreating foe, when, with a rapid wheel, it turned to renew
the attack, making this time an undoubtedly intentional swoop at my head, in which
it would have been successful, had I not suddenly ducked. I fired again, the bullet
cutting away a few small feathers ; whether the bird was seriously wounded or had
merely sustained the loss of a little down I could not tell, anyway it had had enough of
so unequal a match, and sailed slowly away on straightened pinions, gradually sinking
into the clouds below, from which I am inclined to believe that it was hard hit;
had it not been for the second attack, I should have supposed that this bird merely
mistook me for the stump of an old tree, whereon it had intended to perch, and
should therefore have thought no more of the circumstance ; but I can only conclude ^p
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from the second decided attempt after having been fired at, that it was bent on
mischief, though I have never heard of a similar performance on the part of an Eagle.
It was not the common white headed Eagle, but I afterwards learned that another
species exists, called the Mountain or Golden Eagle, which I conclude is identical
with my assailant which was a brown bird, with a light triangle; the sides of which
were about three inches in length, situated in the centre of the wing, and visible from
underneath, that being the only close position in which I could observe the bird.
Impertinent little birds, something of the jay species, appeared numerous in
the mountains. They used to be called meat birds in the rockies, and appeared
here, where they are known as Whiskey Jacks, as fearless and pugnacious as
their distant relations of former acquaintance. I one day watched one in the
Rockies stealing the winter supply of fir cones from a squirrel's store, the enraged
animal chasing and endeavouring to catch the bird whilst driving it from tree to
tree. Happening to pass the same spot a few days later I again found these two
still at war and fear, failing to secure the robber the squirrel must have fared badly
during the hard weather. Here I observed first one and then five of these little
torments worrying a meek looking Owl, engaged in trying to snatch a wink of sleep
during the day, while perched on a dead tree, but all efforts to secure a peaceful
slumber proved fruitless, therefore after making a few mild and futile darts at its
enemies it flapped wearily away followed by the whole gang. When there is meat
in camp these merry little chatterers become quite tame and fearless, constantly
approaching to within two yards of you in order to steal a tempting piece of
fat, they keep up a constant and varied chattering and whistling, and might I fancy
be taught to talk well. Dirtier little beasts I never saw ; on shooting one for
preservation, I found it covered from throat to tail, with a thick coating of
turpentine which rendered it useless, the breast feathers being completely matted
together. Their plumage is of an unusually fluffy nature composed entirely of
various shades of grey, and in shape they resemble our jay, but are very much
smaller. 94
CHAPTER   XIV.
A    CIRCUMSTANCE which used to strike me as doubtful, I have from further
experience  little  hesitation in  asserting as a  fact, namely, that a mortally
wounded animal is frequently to all appearance unaffected by later shots, such as
would have either knocked it down or caused a serious shock in the event of its
having been previously uninjured, unless one of
these later shots strike the brain or heart, though in
the latter case death is not necessarily instantaneous, the nature of the wound calculated to so
paralyze the nerves as to render further bullets
ineffectual in producing the ordinary perceptible
shock, or, as far as can be seen, aiding in hastening
the death of the already dying animal, I am
unable definitely to describe, owing to the great
difficulty of correctly locating each successive bullet,
but I do not think it restricted to one particular
spot. Into an animal thus mortally wounded by
the first barrel I have placed one bullet after
another, any one of which would ordinarily have
stopped him, without even perceiving the object to
flinch. Doubtless all sportsmen have noticed the
difficulty in effectually shooting dead a hare which
has been previously so wounded as to appear in a
dazed condition, I have on more occasions than
one fired two barrels into one in such a state with
no apparent result, and though they eventually
roll over, it would be impossible to determine which
shot terminated their existence, unless the last
should have penetrated the brain, which I have
found is invariably fatal, with a bullet, though with
shot there may he an occasional exception. A
hare too appears unusually tenacious of life under
certain circumstances when compared with other
animals of the same class. How frequently we
have found one (the supposed missing of which
has caused a general titter to pass down the line
much to the shooter's disgust) lying dead on the
further side of the bank some hundred or so yards
away. Every person present if asked previous to
the discovery would have asserted that the animal
was uninjured. But hares are by no means the
only small game affected as I have described. I
have frequently noticed rabbits and birds of many 95
sorts thus similarly paralized. I regret being unable to offer a suggestion as to the
exact part of the body which when injured produces so peculiar an insensibility,
though doubtless a medical man would instantly solve the difficulty, but my intention
is to discover from personal experience (a by no means easy matter) the direction the
bullet did take on an actual occasion when this peculiar condition was manifest.
Next to the salmon of British Columbia the grouse of North America in general
present such a series of difficulties in their classification, that, being without a book
of reference, I gave up all idea of ever distinguishing them by their correct names.
I have come across, I believe, no less than fourteen species, including ptarmigan,
but as no two works on the subject appear to agree, and my opportunities for consulting any reliable authority being extremely limited, I was unable to discover the
correct appelation of more than three or four varieties, the same bird in one part of
America receiving a totally different name in another. In Virginia the ruffed grouse
is termed pheasant, and in British Columbia, chicken. Three species appeared
common there: the ruffed grouse, dusky grouse (known as fool-hen), and a much
larger description, found in the mountains, locally described as blue grouse; also
two, possibly three, kinds of ptarmigan, though how to correctly call them I cannot
say.
If the reader has any love for nature, he will not grudge the few minutes spent
in perusing a short account of what I saw while seated for an hour on the brink of
a tiny lake near the Skeena Forks. 'Twas a glorious morning, early in May. As I
crossed the mossy swamp which bounded the heavily-timbered banks of this miniature lake, my first greeting was fron a snipe—the only one I had encountered since
leaving the coast—which, swiftly rising with a cry of alarm, was instantly lost to
view. The little pools where the sun had not yet penetrated were still covered with
a thin film of ice, the cold breeze ever reminding one of the severity of the past
winter, even yet vividly apparent on the snow-clad mountains, stirred the straggling
willows ; all else whispered of spring. The air, the earth, and even the water teemed
with animal life ; all appeared opening into a fresh creation. Joyful songs filled the
air; small frogs, perched on overhanging twigs, competed merrily with the birds,
regardless of their inequality of voice. Delicately pencilled fly-catchers appeared to
have arrived with the morning sun, the genial rays from which were momentarily
bringing forth innumerable aerial insects for their pleasure. Countless butterflies
having lain dormant for months, snugly secreted in some cosy crevice, now sailed
around, indicating in many instances that, unlike the birds, they were still arrayed in
their last summer's plumage, the ragged appearance of which bore witness to former
perils long since forgotten. A sudden ring, rapidly enlarging on the glassy water,
revealed the presence of an aquatic beetle, which, being unable to resist the temptation to inhale a breath of morning air, had risen to the surface, and having satisfied
itself, again descended, disturbing in its course a homely shrimp, which, clasping
her infant firmly in her arms, glided swiftly to some more tranquil spot better suited
to her domestic duties. Loud rappings on dead trees I heard, which, vibrating
noisily, would, had they been produced by the hand of man, have silenced every
other sound ; but the busy woodpecker startled nothing, save the insects they sought,
any more than did the handsome nothern diver as he floated proudly in the centre of
the lake, while uttering his loud, uncanny laugh. Busy pirouetting teal darted courteously round their mates, while little plump, pied ducks dived merrily about,    Grebes, 96
too, had sought this sunny spot, seeming quite repaid for so long and tedious a
flight with disproportioned wings. The well-known mallard also swam in company
with pintail, widgeon, and other wild fowl, rare and prized in far off climes. And,
while I gazed, three canvas-backs came whizzing over head, and noisily splashed
down, not fifty yards from where I sat. I watched the little mice as they nimbly
darted from fallen leaf to leaf, revealing but a glimpse of their brown coats and
beady eyes, ere they were again concealed. But something larger soon approached
with proudly lifted tail, the long hair standing out on either side as though a plume.
How tame and fearless, and, when alive, how comely this animal appeared with its
dossy black coat slashed with white. How still I kept, I scarcely dared to breathe,
for well I knew, that if alarmed, it could in one instant render me and all this beauty
unbearable within a mile, and unapproachable for weeks; and skunks seemingly
well know their power or they would never be so bold.
All at once I seemed, though innocently enough, to have aroused to the highest
pitch of wrath a pert old squirrel, that came clattering down a pine trunk, on the top
of which he had been peacefully munching cones, and throwing what he did not
want at me, but now he fairly shook with rage, barking and jerking from side to side,
until I began to fear that perhaps I was sitting on his winter store. At length, .
having approached quite close, his pent up fury burst in one long rattle sounding
much like clock work suddenly run down ; thus evidently relieved, he scampered off
to join his mate, who, with her mouth full of cedar bark, was busily engaged constructing a summer house where snugly they could lie. Scarcely had the squirrel
disappeared, when a northern diver, usually so shy and wary, came gliding up to
within thirty yards ; save that he swam low, all customary caution appeared neglected.
Soon he dived, and immediately after, with a terrified effort at escape, a wounded
teal was dragged beneath the surface, which, when it reappeared, was hotly pressed
bv this northern tyrant, when, had it not been for my timely interference, a savage
blow from his cruel beak would have quickly terminated its existence, but, as this was
for me a day of peace, I felt no disposition to watch others enjoying sport. But
what odd sound was that, which baffles all description, resembling much, though
more prolonged, a football dashed with force upon a wooden floor and left rebounding.
Soon, by peering stealthily about, I saw a grouse perched boldly on a fallen tree, and
while I watched he raised his head, and almost standing on his toes, commenced to
slowly flap his outstretched wings, each flap produced a thudding noise. The pace
then gradually increased and finished in a blurr. I now crept close, but was soon
perceived, when straightway stiffening out, with neck upstretched, and head awry
and body much compressed, he at once assumed more the appearance of a gnarled
spike than bird, and would have been passed a dozen times without detection. Why
I have often thought do ruffed grouse thus drum ; if as a challenge, it is never
heeded ; if it is a form of courtship, where's the mate ? I see but one remaining
reason, and that the same which causes a solitary peacock to spread his tail and
strut about. Leaving the proud bird upon his log, I returned again to my former
place. A few mosquitoes, too weak to sting, hummed noisily around. And then an
object caught my eye, wrapped in a dirty blanket, and skulking along the lake
evidently bent on stalking a bunch of ducks, which sat between us. I rose to leave,
for tranquility and peace no longer reigned, while a dose of shot or even iron rivets
would likely have been my portion had I remained.    Truly I had passed a pleasant 97
morning; one such as Waterton, judging from his charmingly narrated wanderings,
would have thoroughly enjoyed and made the most of, could he have but taken my
position for an hour, though, being long since dead, his enemies, the closet naturalists,
have now full sway, re-writing old and fabulous details, increased by fresh ones
gathered from hearsay.
W\
THE   INDIAN   OF   TO-DAY.
CHAPTER XV.
SHOULD imagine that subscribers to the Church Missionary Society would have
had their eyes considerably opened could they have shared our eight months'
observations in the largest Indian village on the Skeena, known as Hazeltown, where
the present mission was started in 1880, and has since that date been represented by
four different missionaries, exclusive of Bishop Ridley himself, the amount of funds
expended must have been considerable, I should say enormous, but the result is the
supposed reclamation of two professed christians, one of whom is in the pay of the
society, which boasts of about twelve conversions or baptisms, but as several of these
live a married life declining to conform to the usual ceremony, and are in other
respects little removed from their original condition, I think they may be dispensed
H 98
with under the head of conversions, thus leaving as the result of seven years' labour
under five missionaries two professed Christian Indians, the society must I should
say feel proud of Hazeltown. But can they conscientiously claim anything superior
at any of their other stations around, unless it be a few deserters from Mr. Duncan
at Metlakahtla ? And by what means do the glowing accounts of which we read
concerning the mission work in this quarter reach England, and by whom are they so
artistically coloured as to cause a blush of righteous indignation to those chance readers
who are acquainted with the honest truth ? It was deplorable to find a conscientious
and honourable man placed in so perfectly helpless and hopeless a position as
was the missionary at Hazeltown during the time of our visit there, and I know how
thoroughly he realised the impracticability of his task. Undoubtedly the system of
mission work is here, as on the coast, worse than faulty, it is wrong from beginning
to end and inconceivably narrow minded. I should very much like to hear truthfully
answered the question usually put to the superintendent of police in a court of justice
as to what is known of the prisoner, if applied to the past of a large majority of
missionaries, some surprising revelations, and those none too creditable would I fear
be the result. How and by what means a certain class of men are selected as fitting
subjects to establish the word of God, surpasses comprehension as also does the
selection of magistrates for British Columbia. Let us take the best of the
missionaries first. These are what I should term the over zealous, probably their
intentions and actions are sincere, but none the less worthless when brought to bear
on an Indian. An example came under my direct observation where one of these
misguided individuals returning from a certain expedition, boasted with unblushing
effrontery, that he had married during his absence every person whose immoral life
gave a pretext for the ceremony, it seemed to me by his own showing, that in every
instance he had acted illegally, and that strictly speaking none were married at all.
This man also practised a piece of cruel tyranny on the widow of a white man
at Hazeltown, who was struggling to support her family by trading furs, he compelled her with more might than right to pull down and remove her new and hardly
completed house, the situation of which did not concur with the bishop's views. The
magistrate of the district afterwards imformed me that this act of oppression was
perfectly illegal, and should not have been perpetrated had he been there. Others of
this class commence by forcing the profoundest mysteries of their religion upon
Indians unable as yet to distinguish the right hand from the left, thereby irrevocably
mystifying them at the first onset. Such a man as this must have been
he who informed me that nothing could be done for the welfare of an Indian,
without the early administration of the sacrament. If the condition of the
Indians ever is improved, it certainly will not be by such men as these
zealous though they may be. The next class comprises men who if they
answered truthfully your query as to why they sought their present occupation, would
reply that they found it most suited to their qualifications, and that they could obtain
no better pay elsewhere ; while some have drifted into their present unenviable
position purely through the misrepresentations of the society or its servants; these
work for their wages conscientiously enough in a hum-drum manner, they do no harm,
and a similar amount of good, eventually leaving the Indians in precisely the same
frame of mind as when they came among them. The third class not being readily
detected  are  possibly  more numerous  than is  generally supposed, it  consists  of
-«; 99
scoundrels prepared for any villainy, whose main object is to fill their pockets as
quickly and peaceably as possible, at the same time gratifying their ruling passions
to the fullest extent under religion's extensive covering.    The injury caused by such
men reflects principally on their white brethren.    I doubt if even their blackness
could add a shade to the Indian's already sombre hue.    Such as come under these
three classes seem to be the men usually selected by the Church Missionary Society
as  fitting  subjects  to  administer the Gospel of Christ and  convert the heathen
of British Columbia.    It is, therefore, scarcely surprising that those who procured
such tools to work with should expose further their incompetence by a lamentable
exhibition of ignorance as to how the work should be set about, and, indeed, they can
have but a very vague idea of the nature and difficulties of the undertaking itself.
Just so long as such ignorance is relied on, and their deliberately false statements of
progress believed in by those who subscribe to the Church Missionary Society so long
will the Indian cling to his present state of existence, while the purses of worthless
men reap the only advantage.    Surely those who have studied the progress, or I
should say the want of it, not from the reports sent to England, but from actual
observation,  cannot deny that there  must  be some gigantic flaw in the present
process of missionary work, else why this state of stagnation.    Christianity makes no
advance.   It never has, and never will, except under Mr. Duncan, or until his method
is adopted, therefore let those who are sincere in their good intentions towards the
Indians of British Columbia select as their instrument a plain honest common-sense
christian man, devoid of fashionable cant and hypocrisy, let him instal himself among
the Indians in some locality free from white men, administering, first to their bodily
welfare, and by degrees as opportunity offers, let him gradually separate them from
their natural habits and vices,  using such means as his experience will suggest,
at the same time providing remunerative work for them.    It will undoubtedly be a
slow and tedious process, but by no means so slow as the ordinary mission Work,
through the direct agency of which I have been unable to trace any good results.
Having   reduced   the   tribe  into  a  fairly law  abiding  and   civilised community;
for civilisation, though hitherto ignored by the missionary, must be  the  primary
object, let the operator bring all his force to bear upon the children with as much
external aid  as   necessary.    It is with them he has now to deal, no amount of
religious teaching will have any effect on the old people ; it is the rising generation
which must be separated from their parents and taught.    Such a community would
in a few years contain more useful and christianised Indians, than all the missionaries
of the Church Missionary Society will ever collect among the lot of them, for such a
mode of procedure is utterly at variance with their orthodox routine of preach, preach
from start to finish.    They have ever been perfectly content to commence in the
middle, exhorting the Indians in more or less unintelligible jargon to join a new
God or be for ever damned.    Small wonder if, failing to understand the advantage
of this sudden change, they decline to believe.    Men of learning with every facility
at hand have been found unable to grasp such teachings, yet these savages from the
depths of oblivion are expected readily to perceive the necessity of such a change after
listening to something too profound to be comprehensible.    The Church Missionary
Society's system appears to be one of instantaneous cramming, whereby they propose
to hustle a crowd of mystified Indians into heaven en masse.    The principal difficulty
in the way of successfully carrying out such a plan of opperations as I have just
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H2 IOO
suggested, is the man capable of and willing to undertake so thankless and unselfish
a task ; I know of but one and his hands are ever full, he has shown by Metlakahtla
what can be done with Indians under a regime of Christianity tempered with that
common sense so conspicuously absent among the missionaries, he, too, though
commencing under the Church Missionary Society found it impossible to carry out a
successful work under their auspices, and therefore launching forth on his own account
he brought Metlakahtla to its present unparallelled state of Christianity, discipline
and utility.*
g
CHAPTER   XVI.
T N March, a free trader (all others than the Hudson Bay Company are termed free
traders), coming to the Forks on business, assured me that I stood a very good
chance of finding caribou near the Indian village of Kityeyukla, from whence he could
procure me Indians, I therefore determined to make a final effort, though I was very
doubtful whether at so late a period, the caribou had not shed their antlers, for I
could obtain no definite information from the Indians as to when they shed them,
they never appeared to know anything more about an animal than where or when
to find it, however, taking Fred and an Indian to pack, we started off a day's
journey down the river, and on the following day set out for the most likely
mountain in company with a couple of Indians. The entire day was occupied in
reaching the summit, for when about half way up we found ourselves in some four
inches of freshly fallen snow. I never remember being so thoroughly fagged as on
that occasion. When finally I could scarcely drag one snow-shoe after the other, I
was forced to give the word to camp. It was already getting dark, and we had been
steadily plodding on for ten hours against the collar, yet one of the Indians who kept
close upon my heels, carried a pack of 70 lbs., and appeared perfectly prepared to walk
for the remainder of the night if need be. Quickly selecting a spot against a bank
where the snow was not more than four feet in depth, we scraped a hole and lit the
fire, erecting our solitary canoe sail to windward. It shortly commenced to snow, and
continued doing so steadily throughout the night, during which period, the heat
having undermined the snow whereon we lay, we had all, one by one, slipped into
the fire, or what remained of it. In the morning snow still fell, showing no signs of
abating. Feeling utterly unable in so much fresh snow to climb the adjacent and
higher mountain to which all the tracks we had passed appeared to lead, I decided
once more to return empty handed to the Forks, nor was it without a certain grim
,1
* Metlakahtla is now no more. In 1887 the Indians' friend, a noble, true, and honourable man, was
forced to seek in American territory that peace and justice denied him by his countrymen. Mr.
Duncan has removed with his followers to Alaska, there to recommence his good works, leaving Old
Metlakahtla, with its refuse, in the hands of a narrow-minded and envious society, whose reports
doubtless teem with the results of their imaginary conversions of those worthless ones who preferred
their dollars to their leader. A proud day it must have been for the bish&p when he became the ruler
of forsaken Metlakahtla, where he stood in the cast-off shoes of a great man and annexed the deserted
town to the glory of the society. IOI
satisfaction, that I beheld it snow unceasingly for the next two days, when I had
reason to congratulate myself on being well out of it. It now seemed as though
when all else favoured my projects, the very elements were turned against me.
Clearly I should never kill a caribou in those regions, though taking the Forks as a
centre, I should say that every mountain within a radius of a hundred miles held
caribou or goats, the two seldom being found together in the same locality.
In April I made another excursion further down the river, to the Indian Village
ot Ketwangar, proposing to hunt bears there. It was a weary tramp of 25 miles
over rocky boulders of all sizes, for the snow and ice had almost disappeared
on the flat. Once more the Indians refused to pack for me, or to sanction my
hunting in their country. Split up and mystified by the various sects of missionaries,
they scarcely knew their own minds, having been taught to resent the intrusion of
any stranger as one who came to steal their land, this conviction had become
firmly rooted in their naturally avaricious and selfish nature, necessitating the
abandonment of my final effort to hunt within a reasonable distance of the Forks.
Towards the end of April, many small migratory birds commenced to arrive, Sand-
martins being amongst the number. Being an unusually late spring, up to the
tenth of May, save in the case of a few gooseberry bushes, no foliage whatever was
visible, but with the first flowers came the humming birds. About the last week in
April small Canadian geese, mallards, pintails, widgeon, teal, northern divers, grebe,
and many other sorts of wild fowl, with which I was unacquainted commenced to
arrive on the small lake close by, they only remained three weeks, and then sped
elsewhere to breed. On this lake we had fair sport for a short period. On the 20th
of May, while camped about 14 miles from the Forks, vainly searching for any stray
bear that might have escaped the ever prowling Indians, I received a message from
Mr. Clifford at the Hudson Bay Company's store, to say that he had secured a reliable
Indian ready to accompany me to a certain canon, where grizzly bears abounded, and
where no Indians dared to hunt. The last two who ventured to do so, both falling victims
to infuriated grizzlies. This being the best hunting news I had obtained for some
time, I hastily returned, and on the following day set out with Kishpyox Jim, that
being the name of the Indian prepared to brave the greatest of Indian horrors; but
having   successfully destroyed a human  being, he felt brave, or as they call it,
I skookum," though finally at the
.^.-J^- sight   of   a  black   bear,   all   his
boasted courage forsook him, and
he simply cowered behind, whilst
using me as a shield. This Indian
had saved up considerable property, possessing amongst other
things, two wives, one of whom
belonged to the village of Gish-
gegars, which gave him hunting
rights there, of which rights we
were about to take advantage;
therefore, together with his son and
three medium sized curs, we set off, two of the dogs carrying packs of 25 lbs. each;
but they were in such a weak and half starved condition, that at about two o'clock 102
each day, one heard piteous yells in the rear, which invariably notified their inability to
struggle further; kicks and blows proving ineffectual, their packs were then divided
between the Indians and the third cur, which was much smaller than the others, but
rejoiced in the title of a bear dog. This term being applied to any dog that will
bark at, and chase a bear, but rigidly ignores all small game. All the Indian dogs
struck me as being closely allied to the Coyote, some being almost pure breeds of
that animal. We usually walked 10 hours a day, averaging some 15 miles over
a fair trail, though our trail on this occasion was frequently of such a vague
description, that unless one had been previously acquainted with it, to discover the
faintest trace for considerable distances, would have been utterly impossible ;
however, it was considered a good trail in a country where, as the Irishman
remarked, they had so much land they were forced to stack it. Each morning,
instead of the smouldering embers with which one expected to start a fresh fire,
three miserable dogs would be found coiled in the ashes ; this method of gaining a
little warmth is invariably adopted, when the weather is sufficiently mild to allow of
the fire being let out during the night, with the result that scarcely an Indian dog is
to be seen without a considerable portion of its hair burned off. When the time for
packing arrived, no matter how frequently they were called, the miserable beasts
refused to move, having to be lifted up, carried to a suitable spot, and popped down,
to remain resignedly motionless whilst being lashed to their pack, for it was not a
case of the pack fitting the dog, the dog had to fit the pack, and rather than make
an alteration I have seen a dog lashed in the shape of a bow, in which position he has
travelled all day with his own tail in full view. It is marvellous how they can exist
on the meagre rations of salmon they receive daily, when  at work.
On the third day after crossing a canon by' an Indian Suspension Bridge,
an alarmingly frail-looking structure which rocked and bounded wildly and
was only calculated to sustain one person at a time, we passed over the
Babine River, and reached the village of Gishgegas, where we found many opposed
to our hunting, even in the spot where they dared not venture themselves. It must
not be imagined that they entertained any apprehension at the risk we might incur,
on the contrary, their opposition arose solely from the dog in the manger principle ;
however, Jim who foresaw this difficulty, had brought several little presents of plain
cakes composed of flour and water, with which rare luxuries, for flour was seldom
tasted there, he won over the chief, and most important of the tribe. After hiring
snow-shoes, we again took the trail, and an undeniably bad one it was, so much so,
that at four o'clock all were glad to camp in view of the side of a mountain celebrated
for black bears.
Scarcely had the packs been set down, when Jim who had been eagerly
staring at the mountain, gasped excitedly, " Bar ! "—" nike, tum-tum, bar," instantly
his son followed suit, finally they saw it walk across a patch of snow on to a clear
space where it remained, but, by no possible means could they make the animal
visible to me. I told Jim as he was sure it was a bear, we would start for it at once,
which we did, and on reaching the spot in about three-quarters-of-an-hour, discovered
it to be a charred stump, which in the excited imagination of two Indians had been
distinctly seen to walk across the snow. Much disgusted at having been induced to
take this climb for nothing,- I decided to walk along the side of the mountain on the
chance of finding a veritable bear, and very soon I spied him on an open flat below, io3
some four hundred yards off, busily engaged eating a species of hemlock, which
constitutes their principle food here in the spring. Beckoning to Jim, I pointed out
the much coveted prize, and was proceeding to make him understand that I considered
as we were fully exposed, the best plan would be to go round a belt of trees and
surprise him from the other side; when what was my indignation to see Jim start off
with the three dogs, which he had insisted on bringing, straight across the open, making
for, and in full view of the bear. There was nothing for it, but to follow, and when
within two hundred yards as I plainly saw that Jim intended to have the hunt to
himself, I felt that being unable to get in front, I would rather have my shot and miss,
than lose all chance. Therefore taking a few strides to one side, in order to get Jim
out of the line of fire, with a hasty and unsteady sight I pulled the right trigger,
hearing the bullet as I thought strike the bush beyond the bear, which only looked
towards us in the most undisturbed manner. The second barrel was more fortunate,
turning him on his back without another move, this being the only instance of my
ever having killed a bear dead in its tracks.
Jim, who was now within a hundred yards of the already dead bear, commenced
firing, and, I verily believe, had I not stopped him, would have pumped every one of
the fifteen bullets, with which his new repeating rifle was loaded, into, or more
probably round, the carcase; as it was, on my assurance that the animal was dead,
he contented himself with keeping close behind me as we approached. The bear
was perfectly lifeless, the second bullet having passed clean through him just behind
the shoulder, but not touching the heart, while the first was embedded in the wrist of
the fore foot. Of Jim's shot we could find no vestige, nor did I expect it otherwise,
for though when shooting at a mark he was fairly successful, like all Indians, he
became utterly demoralised in the presence of game, while the effect of a repeating
rifle is such that an Indian usually commences to fire immediately on sighting anything, and keeps it up, probably running all the time, until his entire stock of
amunition is exhausted. The bear proved to be a very large black one, so old that
what few teeth remained were worn level with the gums. The bear dog now proved
his title to be genuine, by barking and furiously tearing out in mouthfulls, large tufts
of the best fur in spite of kicks and imprecations. Whilst engaged in skinning, I
found a thin round worm about fourteen inches long, lying between the skin and the
flesh over the ribs. I gave Jim a severe lecture for attempting to shoot before me ;
having only been allowed to carry a rifle as a protection against grizzlies, he had
faithfully promised to use it at nothing else. As soon as the skinning was completed,
we returned to camp, I with the skin, he with the carcase, which was miserably thin,
and possibly accounted for the bear's dying so easily, whilst the dogs were told off
with the legs, a load they found terribly cumbersome and inconvenient in the bush.
Next day we encountered serious obstructions in the way of fallen timber and rotten
snow, finally reaching the celebrated canon in the afternoon. That evening we took
a short stroll with the dogs, which Jim deemed absolutely necessary, but I looked on
as most undesirable. They soon started yelping after what he declared it be a bear,
but which I have little hesitation in pronouncing to have been nothing more
formidable than a hare. In a very few minutes I was left far in the rear vainly
struggling to penetrate a mass of entwined willows, devoutly wishing Jim and his
dogs in some much warmer climate. On the following day we proceeded further up
the canon, which proved about the roughest hunting ground I had ever encountered,
~H
m 104
the entire surroundings being composed of rocks, fallen timber, rotten snow, or deep
pools of muddy water. We saw several grizzly tracks, and many goats, but the
latter I did not intend to hunt while there was a chance of finding a bear, though
owing to their principal feeding grounds being still deeply covered with snow, the
prospect of discovering one appeared vague. On the following day we penetrated
still further up the canon, finding more bear tracks. We finally decided to shoot a
goat for food, for the two Indians and a boy we brought from the last village had
gorged themselves to such an extent that having finished the bear, they commenced
the well-known cry for food. Selecting the first we came across which was
peacefully grazing high up on the side of the canon, we commenced to scale a long
snow slide, Jim keeping some twenty yards in advance until he arrived on a level with
the goat, when he hurriedly disappeared in the brush, and finally long before I could
catch up to him, I had the extreme satisfaction of hearing him fire no less than 19
times in rapid succession. This so thoroughly exasperated me that I immediately
retraced my steps taking a somewhat shorter cut back to the snow slide, I found
myself on a terribly precipitous piece of ground where I lost my footing but was
lucky enough to grasp a twig sufficiently strong to hold me. With horror I felt the
snow upon which I had slid slipping from under me, still clinging for life to the
fragile brush, I beheld the snow slide assuming larger and larger proportions, until,
with a mighty roar it swept down the side of the canon, leaving me thanking my
stars that a friendly bush had offered me its support in the very nick of time. I
returned to camp so disgusted with Jim's conduct that I determined to go straight
back to the Forks. Late in the afternoon Jim appeared loaded with a large she-
goat, about as much as I could lift clear of the ground, together with a live kid.
That an undersized, slightly built man of Jim's calibre could have travelled over such
a country carrying for about six miles so heavy and cumbersome a load was another
proof of the remarkable enduring strength of an Indian.
The sight of the young goat which I was most anxious to rear, somewhat allayed
my anger, but I was nevertheless determined to hunt in such company no longer.
We therefore set out for the Forks next day. Having improvised a fairly satisfactory
feeding bottle out of such material as I could obtain from the mother, I trudged along
over between sixty and seventy miles, with that kid in my arms. It fed well on condensed milk and looked perfectly healthy until the fourth day, but on the fifth, when
within two hours of our destination, having become rapidly weaker it died. The
inconvenience and weariness of carrying so frail a creature met with but a poor
return, and I heartily wished it had never been born. Added to this, I lost the trail
and wandered off in the wrong direction for several hours, having left the camp at
three o'clock in the morning in order to save the kid's life. The rest did not follow
until much later, but on arriving at the Forks, and not hearing of me there, they
immediately concluded that I had fallen into a canon over which it was necessary to
pass on a fallen tree. This, of course, alarmed L., and Indians were sent out in
search of me. When nearly home I met one of them in an excited condition, and all
I could gather from him was that the village had risen in arms and would kill me on
my return. I must say I was considerably relieved ultimately, to find the population
in its usual frame of mind, and only under the impression that I had gone under, but
they had given L. a considerable scare. Seeing no prospect as yet of receiving our
winter supply of provisions, which  left Victoria in February, we decided, the river in
being in flood, to leave them to follow, and start ourselves for Babine Lake, en route
for Peace River. The object of my presence among them, proved to the Indians at
the Forks, as great a riddle on my departure, as it had done when I first arrived. It
appeared entirely beyond their comprehension that anyone could derive pleasure from
hunting, a duty they regarded as irksome in the extreme, and only to be resorted to
as a last resource, as entailing the hardest work they found themselves called upon to
undertake. They, never wearied of enquiring, what the white Chief had come for ?
nor ever credited the answer.
Before leaving the Forks, a rather amusing conversation took place between L.
and an Indian from the coast, who came to claim an imaginary debt, which, he said,
we owed his wife.
Indian : " Where you husband ? "
L.: I Away hunting."
Indian : " You know my wife, Mamaloose ? "
L. : " Yes ; I remember your wife Mamaloose."
Indian : " He owe her one dollar."
L. : | No, he payed her."
Indian : " My wife Mamaloose."
L.: " Yes ; he paid your wife Mamaloose."
Indian : " My wife Mamaloose."
L.: " Why does not your wife Mamaloose come herself; you tell her to come ?
Indian : " My wife Mamaloose."
L.: "I know her name is Mamaloose ; what's the good of keeping on telling me
that ? "
Indian: " My wife Mamaloose." (digging with stick in the ground.)
L.: "I don't understand ; tell Mamaloose to come here."
Exit Indian in a rage.
The key to the above was very simply discovered when I informed L., on my
return, that Mamaloose was Chinook for dead.
^t io6
1886-87.
ON SKEENA RIVER AT THE FORKS.—Lat. 55° 15'.    Lon. 1270 40'.
November.
1
December.
January.
February.
March.
Fahrenheit.
Fahrenheit.
| Fahrenheit.
Fahrenheit.
Fahrenheit.
Date.
Frost.
Zero.
Frost.
Zero.
1 Frost.
Zero.
Frost.
Zero.
Frost.
Zero.
1
1
5
16
12
1
2
—
6
12
20
7
3
—
6
10
32
25
4
—
5
1
31
10
5
—
3
2
38
8
6
—
3
28
28
19
7
—
4
18
25
27
. 8
2
6
9
4
9
2
20
22 •
21
10
6
24
15
23
11
8
15
18
1
12
•5
8
1
24
J3
4
8
16
12
B
1
22
16
5
I
3
26
1
4
16
8
2
28
1
1
5
27
5
4
18
10
27
19
2
J9
12
1
8
25
29
4
20
3°
J
18
20
1
2
21
26
1
J7
25
B
2
22
24
S
1
28
2
1
23
18
1
3i
20
7
24
20
—
2
22
12
1
25
10
12
25
30
4
26
8
—
18
3i
30
1
27
—
—
20
28
3
—
28
1
28
3i
13
—
29
4
26
5
—
30
8
;»jrsji£
25
8
—
31
	
20
B
—
9B CHAPTER XVII.
^   y I
"\ 7i 7E started for Babine on the ioth of June, accompanied for the first couple of
miles by the missionary and his wife, from whom we had received the greatest
kindness. As the majority of our packers were women, each of whom carried a pack of
something over ioo lbs., our progress was necessarily slow. For the first two days the
trail was excellent, and we felt a decided relief at leaving the Forks, where the Indians
had constantly threatened our total annihilation should we remain, and where the mosquitoes had rendered life unendurable on the low lying thickly timbered land, while the
rapidly rising waters had already surrounded us. L. was provided with a very decent
Indian horse, from which, except to swim an occasional river, she seldom found it necessary to dismount. The weather too was delightfully warm, orchids studded the sides of
the trail, while little yellow violets peeped from behind their leaves in clusters,
presenting an unusual contrast to their white and mauve sisters which were abundant
on every side. The sun-flowers seemed in full bloom, their bright golden stars
enlivening the way, while countless humming birds darted hither and thither with a
metallic ring. But on the third day, the trail became most uninteresting and
monotonous. On every side a barren, charred, rocky country, with all vestige of
foliage destroyed by fire. There we met some Indians, who informed us that there
was no snow on Babine Mountain, at which all rejoiced and left their snow shoes
behind, hidden near the trail. The fourth day found us on the aforesaid mountain,
ploughing through rotten snow three feet deep, and constantly breaking into another I
foot of water. After two or three hours of this excessively cooling and quite unexpected
obstacle, we gradually descended the mountain, finally reaching Babine Lake, to be
ferried across to the Indian village and Hudson Bay Store. Two articles have
invariably struck me as looking thoroughly out of place in the hands of an Indian,
namely, a knife and rifle. The former he never grasps otherwise than dagger fashion,
which necessitates his cutting everything towards him. When whittling a stick,
the point of the knife will be directed towards himself, that portion of the stick
operated on, resting along the palm of the same hand in which the knife is held,
between the little finger and the wrist, necessitating the most awkward and difficult
manipulation.
A rifle he carries in the same fashion as the leading character in a Punch and Judy
show holds his murderous club, pressed close to the lower portion of his chest, with
his arms crossed in front to retain it there. It is invariably encassed in a moose skin
covering, elaborately fringed, in which it remains till the last moment before being
discharged, when as often as not, the cap is the only thing that explodes. Doubtless,
few persons are aware that the old fashioned flint muskets are still manufactured in
England and sold to the Indians, who prefer them, in many instances, to rifles of
more recent date. I once found one of these in the Big Horn Mountains, which on
being lifted from the ground crumbled in pieces, leaving only the barrel in my hand.
This circumstance, in connection with the rugged surroundings, brought vividly
before my mind the weird Kaatskill Mountain scene in Rip van Winkle.   I remember io8
i
being at the time much perplexed, at distinguishing a comparatively recent date,
engraved on this ancient looking piece, having no idea than they were still
manufactured.
We remained but two days at Babine, being ever anxious to escape the inevitable
disagreeables existing about an Indian village, though we regretted leaving the river,
where a handsome, sturdy and most lively description of trout, weighing up to four
pounds, took the fly freely, but fly fishing from a canoe is a doubtful pleasure, while
such canoes as existed here made it doubly difficult. Canoes lacking every practical
turn and curve which usually constitutes a boat, they were in fact nothing more or
less than hollowed logs, warped into every conceivable shape caveingin where there
was no seat, and bulging out where it existed, altogether the most wretched attempts
at boats.
We left the Forks with a very small supply of eatables, relying upon getting
plenty of bacon and sugar at Babine, but the store was entirely cleared out, and the
wild fowl which swarm on the lake in May, and upon which I had relied for meat,
had all taken their departure leaving behind nothing but northern divers and
mergansers. These appeared to be the only birds which bred here; but as eating
them, except as a last resource, was out of the question, we were forced to fall back
upon trout, we therefore fixed up our camp about twenty-five miles from Babine
solely dependent upon our spoon baits for sustenance. In the locality we had
chosen, fish did not appear very plentiful, and we seldom caught more than we
could consume, which consisted of two varieties of trout, one a large sluggish dark
fish, somewhat resembling a Pike in markings, and affording no more play, usually
known as black trout, we caught scaling up to 18 lbs., but in the best part of the
lake, which seemed about forty miles from Babine, they increased in size. The
large ones keeping near the bottom, a heavy lead was necessary. We used at first
to fish with rods, but found them quite unsuited to this kind of sport, where far more
execution could be done, by holding the line in the hand. The second was a
handsome silvery salmon shaped fish with black spots exceedingly strong and active,
seldom weighing more than 7 lbs., affording good sport and far more successfully
handled with than without a rod, but unequal to the other in flavour. I am inclined
to think that the black trout spawned about the time of our advent, for at first, most
of them contained spawn, whereas, for some time before we left we caught none in
condition. White fish were very plentiful, but we had to content ourselves with
looking at them through the water, for they are said to take no bait, though had
I been successful in procuring the worms I wasted so much time in seeking, I fancy
I might have landed a few. One day having sought the protection of our mosquito
netting in order to avoid the ceaseless onslaught of the sand flies, we were suddenly
alarmed by the agonised voice of Fred, who was chopping firewood close by, calling
I come out quick, there's a tree a falling right across the tent, we naturally bundled
out in hot haste, L. having got half way through the door commenced frantically
bucking at the fastening which she had no time to undo until it finally gave
way, when we found Fred who stands between four feet and five feet high, fondly
embracing a tree some fifteen inches in diameter, vainly imagining that by his
herculean strength he was retaining it in an upright position, thereby prolonging our
lives. I presently remarked that the tree appeared to me in no degree out of
the perpendicular, and when I finally persuaded him to relinquish his hold, he was si
109
firmly under the impression that by so doing the anticipated catastrophe would
be brought about, however, very gently he disengaged his little arms, and on looking
up it gradually dawned on him that he had been the victim of an optical delusion.
The fact was that while chopping he had glanced above and beheld the fleeting clouds
passing across the sky, this very ordinary circumstance simply conveyed to Fred's
imagination the fact that the tree was falling, and in the opposite direction to what
he had anticipated, therefore with characteristic promptitude he rushed forward
to hold it up during our pleasure.
On July 7th, having secured the services of a log-like canoe and a couple of Indians,
we started for the Portage. During the three days' journey we caught a number of
exceedingly large trout, but after successfully weathering a heavy storm, the full force
of which we experienced in the centre of the lake, we felt little regret at the termination of no miles canoeing on a most uninteresting piece of water, with not a scrap
of picturesque scenery to relieve its monotony save at the southern extremity, where
the surroundings became mountainous, and the quaint bottle-necked nests of the
cliff-swallows were clustered in hundreds over the bluff rocks. Here the black trout
disappeared, leaving the water free to the white fish and silver trout, which increased
considerably in size. I had expected to find a bear or two, but saw little sign of
them. I believe that later on, when the salmon are lying dead in hundreds, they
frequent the banks in considerable numbers to obtain this savoury delicacy, though
when it suits their purpose they are quite capable of capturing the living fish, then in
a weak and sickly condition. All around Babine is a great country for caribou, while
the few mountain sheep which have been killed, must, I fancy, have lost themselves.
Goats were still to be found, more or less plentifully, on certain mountains. The
Babine Indians, though of a different tribe, we had found even greater thieves than
those at the Forks. One who set considerable store on having lived with Bishop
Ridley for two years, thereby picking up a smattering of English, and a highly-cultivated taste for scent (with which he asked L. to provide him for his handkerchief, at the
same time stating that he liked to sprinkle it on his shirt after it was washed), had on
one or two occasions made himself useful by finishing the scraps and washing up the
plates while we were fishing on Babine River. He abruptly terminated our acquaintance
by calling at daybreak one morning and gnawing the spoon-bait off the rod which
was standing outside the tent, for L. and I, owing to the scarcity of sport in the lake,
had taken a few necessaries in a little canoe lent us by Mr. Mcintosh at the
Hudson Bay Company's store, and returned to Babine, pitching our tent some way
down the river away from the village. Here we had good sport for a couple of days,
leaving Fred at our permanent camp, fully under the impression that during our
absence he would be murdered by some passing Indians. However, we found him
alive and well on our return, though surrounded by loaded rifles in anticipation of a
siege. This made the second spoon we had had stolen in spite of every previous
precaution. I had given this christian Indian a handsome present of hooks and gut
only the day previously, but possibly, having turned Roman Catholic, the Bishop's
teachings were forgotten, though to do justice to missions in general I should remark
that on entering the village of Babine we were at once struck with a proof of Catholic
influence by the total absence of chiefs' Poles, and the feastings and destruction of
property connected therewith. Indeed, since leaving Mr. Duncan's Metlakahtla,
this was the first indication of any good  results  emanating from mission  work,
^ no
though I failed to remark any improvement in the Indians themselves, who appeared
highly elated at the prospect of their Priest being shortly expected among them.
Marvellous to relate, they had actually of their own free will gone to fetch him from
Stewart's Lake, and in a few days he passed our camp, followed by every Indian in
the district to the number of one hundred or more. During the few minutes' conversation I had with him—for he firmly declined to accept of any hospitality at our
hands—I gathered that his opinion of the Indians was very poor, and indeed, on his
arrival at Babine, he found they had gone back to such an extent, and revived so
many old customs, that he cast them off, finding the greatest difficulty in obtaining
a canoe to return in. Arrived at the Portage we immediately dispatched one of our
crew to Stewart's Lake for the Hudson Bay Company's waggon, but so great was h:s
terror of grizzlies in this locality, where they appeared to be plentiful, that he refused to
walk the nine miles unless I provided him with a pistol. Having complied with his
request I started off in the hopes of finding one of these phantom monsters for
myself; but though on two evenings I hunted over many miles of the roughest and
most likely-looking country, my search was unproductive, but from all accounts I
appeared to be the only person in these parts who had not been, according to their
own showing, either hotly pursued or partially devoured by these animals.
In due course the waggon arrived, an Indian lad holding the reins while my
messenger flogged the horses unmercifully, keeping them in full gallop. It being too
late to start that evening, we decided on an early move the following morning; but
as two of the horses had strayed during the night, it took till three o'clock to find
them, and then one which objected to being caught at any price had to be left to follow
at his leisure. Supposing the boy who brought the waggon to have been in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company, and therefore in the habit ofaccompanyingtheteam,
I paid no particular attention to the harnessing, and the first start was effected without
the reins being buckled to the bits, fortunately no accident occurred, while the omission
was rectified by all four reins being attached to one horse. On observing this, I asked
if the boy was in the habit of harnessing and driving the team, and learned that he
had never done so before ; but that as no one else was at the other end of the portage,
he had undertaken our safe conduct; from the showy style in which he had arrived, I
concluded that the reins would be safer in my own hands, and therefore took the box
seat, which happened to be upon a coffee-pot and frying-pan, the former emerging
from the fray as flat as the latter, for though called a waggon road, and doubtless an
excellent one in its own country, it would in civilized parts have been regarded as
almost impassable. The ready imagination of the Indian whom I had provided with
a pistol, had suggested to him while executing my commission, to make known to his
friends that a great White Tyee, or Chief, was on the trail. This doubtful honour of
distinction entailed eventually an enormous amount of hand shaking, and undoubtedly
doubled our expenses, the general curiosity being much increased at the prospect
of viewing the first white woman, so far as I could learn, ever seen in those parts.
Already we were met by the Chief and five of his tribe from a small settlement on the
portage. Along the trail, or I should say waggon road, a large fire was raging,
evidently of recent origin, for I had passed over the same ground the evening before,
when all was green, and had watched the grouse busily engaged with their broods.
How had this fire come about, we asked. " Oh, the Chief, while coming to meet us,
had heard a grizzly bear, so immediately fired the bush," the usual practice under such  112
circumstances, and had then taken to his heels. Thus by a reckless act in this case,
instigated by cowardice, a conflagration was commenced which would in all
probability burn throughout the entire summer, the immediate result being in any
event, the destruction of an immense amount of small game and timber. Here Mule
deer were to be found, but I doubt if they were very plentiful, though as they were
then high in the mountains, I had no opportunity of seeing anything of them beyond
a few dried heads. We camped that night at the mouth of a little river on the
margin of Stewart's Lake; that the dread of the Indians so far as the actual existence
of grizzlies was genuine we had ample proof, for, at intervals, throughout the night
their decidedly disagreeable roar pierced, the still air at no great distance, causing me
to feel much tempted to try conclusions with them, though I knew such an attempt
would but prove futile at night and in thick brush. Though much inclined to stay
and hunt for a few days, I was bound to proceed with all speed, having heard that
Mr. Alexander, upon whom I depended for accurate information on some future hunting
details, was about to leave his post at Fort St. James. We therefore hired the only
canoe at double the usual price, for one duly paid for homage here as elsewhere, and no
sooner had they nominated me a Tyee than they commenced to levy what they
considered adequate extortions, adding insult to injury by personally enquiring why so
rich a man should travel in so poor a country.
While traversing the lake our crew neglected to call at no single village or hut
where the slightest opportunity offered for exhibiting their freight, subjecting us to the
sickening and revolting ordeal of having our hands slobbered over by toothless,
gummy, old hags, and observing various signs of hypocritical humiliation on the part
of other semi-savages, who it now suited to assume an air of meek supplication.
CHAPTER   XVIII.
g
\f
OTEWARD'S Lake presented an agreeable relief to the densely wooded flat
appearance existing around that which we had recently left, though the scenery
here could scarcely be considered grand, entirely surrounded by mountains, some
well timbered, and others of barren rock, the lake though only about forty miles long,
was of considerable breadth, and freely dotted with picturesque little islands.
The silver and black trout appeared plentiful and large, except in the regular
canoe course, nor could their equal abundance there have been reasonably expected,
when every passing canoe trails its indispensable spoon bait, the possession of which
equips an Indian with all he needs to support life, fish forming their staple food.
Even in winter the large black trout are taken by lowering the spoon bait through a
hole chopped in the ice, and pulling it rapidly upwards, or by spearing with a live
bait tethered by a string through the back as a lure. On July 13th we camped in a
secluded spot about a mile from the Hudson Bay Company Fort, where we proposed to
remain until our winter supply arrived, had we not been literally forced to beat a hasty
retreat by the mosquitoes and sandflies finally to take refuge in the centre of a bare
field belonging to the company, even there our lives were sometimes rendered a
burden to us.    I used to imagine that to live among mosquitoes simply required a "3
little endurance, but I am now convinced that to do so is an impossibility, and if the
infernal  regions  of   the  future  have  been  rendered  too  hot  for mosquitoes  and
sandflies,   then by an oversight, have two of the most exquisite of tortures been
omitted, which undoubtedly should have been provided for; but without anticipating,
I would warn those who propose camping in any part of the back woods infested by
these atoms of irritation, that the result of doing so in June or July is beyond the
powers of human nature to endure, so long as a stiff breeze can be relied on, all goes
well enough, but directly it fails, crawl under your mosquitoe curtains.    No one
would, however, care to remain there all day, yet it is the only means of escape.
We   had   hit   upon   an   unusually hot   summer,   and   one   therefore   particularly
encouraging to the winged tribe, even in our open field we found them bad, and they
are, I believe, quite capable of killing a human being.    That they have frequently
destroyed horses, mules, etc., there appears ample proof.    I scarcely know which of
the two I detest most, the slim, leggy, ever vigilant mosquito, which I have watched
drawing away my blood, until so distended, that in the effort to extract its sting it
burst itself, or the small, dry bull dog natured sandfly, which  when once  it  has
plunged its bunch of lancets deep into your flesh, will suffer  death  rather than
withdraw, leaving finally a tiny stream of blood flowing, with an utter disregard
for waste, only equalled by an  Indian ; true this pest has one redeeming quality,
it takes its rest betimes, never intruding itself at night, possibly this providential
saving of the midnight oil, may account for its outliving the mosquitoes by several
weeks.    A few midges similar to those in  England,  sometimes caused us   slight
annoyance, and  also a large  horsefly, whose  sudden   and  excessive   stab   caused
its immediate discovery and death, ere ultimate mischief ensued.    These were the
only flies to be feared, the two first to be avoided at all costs.    Of all these the only
one which finally meets with its deserts, is the large horsefly,*whose persecutor, a big
black wasp, appears in August, and from its first arrival its whole aim and object in
life seems to be the total annihilation of the horsefly, in search of which it hawks
throughout the day, swiftly swooping on its victim, which it seizes in the air, and
immediately conveys to a suitable prominence, from whence it can suspend itself by
one hind leg, while crunching up its prey, of which in the course of a minute nothing
remains save the wings and a few particles of shell.    On all occasions, we avoided
killing these wasps, having a long standing account against the flies, which used to
congregate in a cloud about us while bathing, the first piece of flesh appearing out of
water being instantly perforated by their darts, wet skin seeming to offer an irresistible
temptation.
For days the air was dense with myriads of May flies, what a triumph, I often
thought, could I have transferred, these dancing dainties to a certain spot in
Hampshire, where when a boy, I used to see them in clouds, but where now, alas,
they are things of the past and totally extinct. As a summer resort Stewart's Lake is a
place to be avoided, and judging from the wind which blew continuously, I should
imagine that in winter it would be equally undesirable. We received much kindness
from Mr. Alexander, the officer in charge, who was unfortunately away, with the
exception of a few days, throughout our protracted stay; but who, thanks to his
hospitality in giving us the run of his most comfortable house, relieved us to a great
extent from the monotony of spending the entire day in a dusty, sun-dried field, for
beyond some indifferent fishing there was little means of whiling away the shining ii4
hours, unless it were the somewhat tame amusement of picking wild raspberries and
strawberries, which grew in abundance, the former quite equal in size and flavour
to those from a cultivated garden.    Bright and sunny the days certainly were, the
most  charming   weather   desirable,   neither   too   hot  nor too   cold,   a   fortunate
circumstance in the former instance, for the persecution of the mosquitoes forbade
the possibility of wearing anything cooler than leather on stout frieze, the thickest
woollen stockings affording no protection whatever against them.    One never failing
source of amusement existed of a nature little to be anticipated in such out of the
way regions, namely, a billiard table with a vividly blue cloth, a relic of past mining
days.    Fort St. James was once a large settlement, and the winter resort, I believe,
of a number of miners, who having long since exhausted the supply of precious
metal  have dispersed  to distant fields.    The  great drawback to a game in   Mr.
Alexander's absence was that but one man remained who knew the tip from the butt
of a cue.    Unfortunately the south end of Stewart's Lake was shallow, consequently
we never had an opportunity of catching any more large trout, though we found
plenty of indifferent sport in Stewart's river, where no less than seven varieties of
fish, two or three being trout, rose freely to the fly ; but all sport was ruined by the
gluttony of a large-mouthed, boney, unpalatable fish, which seized the fly on every
available   occasion, affording when hooked   about  as  much   play as a small   log,
frequently   even dying in the bottom of the canoe without having indulged in a
single kick since being thrown there.    The only fish worth catching was a handsome
trout, with a red streak down the side, but as this species only inhabited the river
below the first rapid,   down   which we were unable to get the canoe, we   seldom
indulged in its capture, fishing from the precipitous bank being exceedingly difficult and
the sandflies unendurable. I, one day, after much coaxing induced a sucker, of which
there were great numbers, to take a fly,  an almost unprecedented performance I
believe.    Another  fish  we  caught  much resembled  a grayling,  locally known as
round fish.    Sturgeon entered the lake in July and were said -to weigh up to five
and six hundred pounds.    The first salmon was taken by the Indians on August
2nd, this was the only species which occupied the lake, they were most peculiar
looking fish, none weighing over nine pounds, of a sickly reddish-mauve colour, the
males being humped backed, these were the only fish of the salmon species I had as
yet come across, which resembled the true salmon in respect to a fleshy dorsal fin ;
no actual scales were distinguishable, though the  skin   appeared   to  indicate the
presence of a scanty supply, and only on carefully searching with  a knife was I
enabled  to  detach  one,   which   appeared entirely  buried  beneath   an  outer  skin.
These fish crowd into the lake in thousands, and thence up the rivers and streams
flowing   into   it,   where   they   die  in   hundreds,   chiefly,   I   believe,   for  want  of
accommodation, for they push on and on  until for lack of space they are actually
crowded up high and dry on the banks.    I fancy that except for the indolence of the
Indians who do not commence their annual blocking up of the river with stakes and
snares until the first appearance of the fish, which gives the early run an opportunity
of penetrating into the lake, few, if any, would reach their spawning grounds.    A
larger and different species of salmon commenced to run later on ; but it seems
this fish has no desire to enter the lake, or even to approach the Indians' blockade.
The white fish were as usual plentiful, but I had no opportunities of testing their
excellent qualities.
S n5
The fact I am about to relate, will possibly strike most persons as incredible, though
those who have experimentalized on frogs will find no difficulty in accepting it as a true
statement. In a small lake, a few miles from Fort St. James, the Indians during the
winter scoop up with nets from spots where some spring prevents the water freezing,
large quantities of small fish which are excellent eating. As I am credibly informed,
these fish are tumbled into a bag or basket, and supposing it to be a cold day, probably
below zero, when they are brought home, say three or four hours after being caught,
they are all frozen into a solid mass, just as they were thrown into the receptacle, but
when placed in cool water, they naturally commence to thaw, and as each thaws out
it regains animation, and eventually, if uninjured at the time of capture, it swims
about in perfect health ; this also occurs with other fish taken from Stewart's Lake,
possibly with all fish, for aught I know to the contrary ; but the weather must be sufficiently cold to freeze them before natural death from suffocation has time to take place.
On the ioth of July, the Hudson Bay Company killed a steer, providing us with the first
fresh meat we had obtained for very many months, in fact, with the exception of two
grouse and a small duck, the only meat of any description for a considerable time. Of
trout and bread we had become heartily sick, but nothing else was procurable; the Hudson Bay Company being entirely cleared out. We had even descended to making a
futile effort at consuming a crow, in which attempt all failed, even the cat. Owing to the
warmth of the weather, the meat soon turned off, leaving us once more to fall back on
bread ; for fish, unless we caught them ourselves, were not to be had; as for wild game,
with the exception of bears, none existed within a two days' journey, and even there,
judging from the quantities of fires raging in all directions, I should think it doubtful if
they had not been smoked out; but these Indians cared little for game, they always had
their fish, and would as soon start a destructive fire as not; no less than eight did
we see burning at one time, and those within a small compass, for the mountains
obscured three parts of the hemisphere. Fires such as these have been known to
burn for three years, the winter's snow failing to reach them, so far do they descend
into the earth, the whole atmosphere was constantly one cloud of smoke, while a
sunset was rarely witnessed owing to the heavy pall hanging over the horizon.
The canoes on Stewart's Lake, though poor, were  vastly superior to the imbecile
efforts of the Babine   Indians, and for safety, a good canoe is requisite on these
waters ; for within five minutes, from a quiet calm, a perfect gale will suddenly arise,
causing a heavy sea to run.    A disagreeable experience, such as this, overtook us
while crossing Babine Lake, when being compelled to run before the wind, it was
touch and go whether we got pooped or no.   We noticed many points of improvement
in the Stewart Lake Indians, the)' even, latterly, sometimes offered us a fish when
they had  plenty, without apparently anticipating anything in return.    We observed
no painting of the faces among them, many of the elder people, particularly  the
women, were tatooed, the usual pattern being three straight lines, descending from
the corner of the mouth and  centre of lower lip, though the chins of some were
covered with a chess board design, while others had their foreheads decorated, but the
present generation had evidently given up the practice.    Near the mouth of Stewart's
River, for some unknown reason, the water never freezes.     There  in  winter,  the
Indians catch quantities of grebe in nets, they make no use of any part of the bird,
except the oil, which is carefully extracted, and must prove sufficiently disgusting to
provide a bon bouche for an Indian palate.    At Fort St. James, I made the discovery
I 2
t n6
that I had frequently wasted many hours in grubbing after earthworms for fishing,
certainly I never found one, and it was not likely I should if my informant was
correct, for he asserted without hesitation, that no such thing existed in British
Columbia, though I am inclined to think they would be found further south.
CHAPTER XIX.
T MADE on various occasions the strictest inquiries as to the cause of the almost total
*• disappearance of Arctic hares, which before reaching the Forks, I had been assured
I should find in every bush, and that the Indians would bring in such quantities, that
we should become heartily sick of them, but during the whole of our visit to British
Columbia, I never saw one alive, though I occasionally found their tracks in
the snow, while for food, we looked on them as the greatest luxury. After listening
to what everyone had to say on the subject, I have come to the conclusion, that
about every seventh year, an extraordinary mortality takes place among them,
hundreds being found dead in the spring, the result of this is that for the next few
years, scarcely a hare can be found, but they gradually again increase until
about the sixth year when they are once more present in hundreds, only to repeat the
process of dying off and re-accumulating. It appeared to me to be probably some
disease arising from overcrowding, such is not unknown in England.
On the disappearance of the hares, Lynx migrate in consequence of their favourite
food being no longer procurable, this fact leads me to question whether the reported
and hitherto unexplained occasional disappearance of Marten may not be caused
by a similar mortality among mice. With our usual ill-luck, we struck British Columbia
the very year the hares died, I find it difficult to call them otherwise than rabbits, for
in summer when their fur is brown there is little difference in their appearance
or size, from the common rabbit, but in winter they assume a snowy white
coat and must be almost indistinguishable from their surroundings, hence I may
very likely have overlooked several. I heard also of a curious method of capturing
the ruffed grouse, which was formerly resorted to by the Indians who, when
guns were a rarity and a charge of powder and ball cost a Marten skin, scarcely
cared to waste a shot over such a trifle. Their capture was therefore effected
by the use of the ash from burnt cottonwood which is exceeding light, this
was placed on a log where a grouse was known to take up his position for
drumming, the wily savage would then retire to a distance to await the result,
his vigil being finally rewarded by seeing the grouse hop on to the log and
take up his accustomed stand in the centre of the ashes, then stiffen up and
commence slowly flapping his wings, rapidly quickening the movement, until
amid a cloud of fine dust, half choked and blinded he could be easily seized
upon by his enemy. Though I could find no information to that effect, I had
reason to suppose there were three varieties of ruffed grouse in British Columbia,
one being much redder and somewhat larger than the others, which were again
distinguishable, the one being still smaller and greyer than the other. Their object
in drumming was a complete mystery to me, I believe only the male birds indulge in ii7
the practice, seemingly they remained in the same spot for hours drumming at
intervals of from five minutes to a quarter of an hour throughout the day and
frequently during the entire night, though the early morning and evening seemed
their favourite times. I have heard them in every month except from November
to March, and never did pride more readily bring about a fall, than with these birds,
which in the first place invariably proclaim their presence within half a mile's
radius, and finally declare their exact situation; even then so well satisfied are
they with their performances, that they fail to realize the necessity of a move
until their heads are blown off, for such is the frequent result of their drumming
in  thick  brush  which  renders  them invisible at six paces.    In winter, too,  they
Indian of the past.
lay themselves open to be snapped up by any of the numerous animals] ever
prowling in search of such delicacies by diving completely under the snow to the
depth of seven or eight inches with every probability of being frozen in, in the event
of a high wind blowing the fine snow over their retreat, for how many days at a time
they remain thus warmly housed, I could not ascertain, but in cold weather I have
over and over again been startled by a grouse suddenly appearing with considerable
noise, and in a cloud of snow from a spot which had previously borne no more
indication of harbouring a living creature than the frozen surroundings, but now that
the bird had broken out, a snug little hole and passage was perceptible about a foot
in depth. n8
CHAPTER   XX.
T J /EARILY the time dragged on, nor, from what I could gather from traders who
^ * had been lately in those parts, was the hunting on Peace River so good as I
had anticipated, clearly it was not what it used to be. The moose, they said, had
almost disappeared, driven out by the large and increasing packs of wolves ; the
sequel being that moose which had never previously been heard of were being killed
within 18 miles of Fort St. James, their reported absence affected me but little, one
moose's head would be quite hideous enough to satisfy my desires in that respect.
The bears, sheep, caribou, and goats still to be found there would provide me with
ample sport so far as big game was concerned, while the trapping was good and
varied. The Syckanese Indians inhabiting those parts were well spoken of, being
the only tribe I had as yet heard mentioned without a shower of well-merited abuse,
they were usually known as Stick Indians, on account of living in the woods and
having no fixed homes. They wandered over the
country entirely dependent on the game they killed.
The middle of August passed, and still no sign of
our winter's supply, nor had any food arrived for
"^E" the fort, and I began to be seriously apprehensive
^_f- lest we should be too late. We ought to have
.~z_ reached our winter's quarters by this time, yet
7" through the delay of others here we were stranded
hard and fast, finally the dreaded blow fell scattering before the winds all our pre-arranged plans.
Owing to the lateness of the season and the large
amount of goods to be freighted, the Hudson Bay
Company, on whom I was entirely dependent for transportation, showed me that,
though with the best intentions, my outfit not yet having arrived, it would be impossible for them to supply me with horses, etc. I need not dwell on this second
disappointment, those who have experienced anything of the sort will I am sure
sympathise. As the Americans say, I felt " bad " at having at the last moment once
more to abandon my proposed hunting ground.
Before leaving Stewart's Lake I made the acquaintance of as fine a specimen of a
. nigger as Virginia ever produced, a man whose rare experiences, roaming disposition,
and profound principles, are calculated even yet to rival " Uncle Tom's Cabin," for
truth is stranger than fiction, and this nigger, who for lack of the education he
deeply laments never having had an opportunity of acquiring, has been unable
hitherto to write his life, still purposes after his next pilgrimage to do so by proxy,
but I fear lest he may prolong his wanderings so far that death will step in to
terminate the existence of a life, the experiences of which are doubtless well worthy
of record. John Thomas, or Uncle Tom as he was familiarly called, was at the time
I met him, a still handsome looking nigger, 66 years of age, young in appearance
for his years, a huge massively built man, standing something over 6ft. 3m. He
was born a slave in Louisiana, had been owned by three masters, and for the last 25
years since receiving his freedom had been ot his own free will a wanderer on the
A Syckanese Tomahawk and Pipe. iig
face of the earth. He started out with two dollars, one he spent, the other he still
possessed. After tramping through most of the United States, he turned his steps
towards British Columbia, and appeared to have visited every inhabited and most
outlandish portion of it. He never accepted money, but whenever he found himself
on a spot which took his fancy, there he would rest awhile, working in any capacity
for those who would feed and clothe him, until the ever returning desire for travel
once more overcame him, when he would make another start. Of recent years he
had journeyed from one Hudson Bay post to another, and such an acquisition was
only too readily seized upon by the Company, who would willingly have retained him
at his own terms for the remainder of his existence. Uncle Tom had a decided
religious tendency, in fact all his actions were based on religious principles, and I
believe him to have been perfectly sincere, his great idea seemed to be that one
should possess nothing on this earth, and most rigidly he stuck to his principles, not
even owning a penknife, nor so much as a pocket in his "clothes. He enjoyed
nothing better than what he called a chaw of baccor, but though the company would
readily have given him a pound at a time, he preferred to be dependent on the
generosity of any person he saw using it. For 25 years he had lived this life of
dependence, which he found provided him with all his wants. Only once, said he,
did a man refuse me help, and he was a missionary. On bidding him farewell, and
sincerely wishing him success in his proposed visit to Alaska, I could not help feeling
that this final pilgrimage would prove the last straw, and that he would be well
advised to seek retirement and commence his book, lest the grim spectre, who could
not be a great distance behind him on the trail, should overtake this restless spirit
ere his work was done. However, if I am ever destined to read the life of the second
Uncle Tom, it will prove doubly interesting from the fact of my having been
personally acquainted with so remarkable a character.
CHAPTER   XXI.
/^\N the 2gth of September we left Stewart's Lake in two canoes bound for Fort
^^^ George, some 150 miles distant. In shooting the first rapid, owing to the
carelessness of the Indians, our canoe fairly grounded on the rocks ; while the second
one came into violent collision with a boulder, thereby sustaining a serious crack.
This was doubly annoying, from the fact of this canoe having been borrowed without
the owner's permission, in which case I felt myself responsible for the damage, which
in a previously sound canoe would be a considerable item. But little of interest
transpired during the two-and-a-half days' journey. The river for the most part was
easily navigated, but our crews, taking them as a whole, were the most insolent, and
in other respects the most unsatisfactory, we had as yet had dealings with.
To all appearance the river was most sporting, and I should much like to have
made the trip some three weeks later, by which time geese and ducks would have
arrived in numbers, to occupy the numerous little backwaters, pools and flat grassy
marshes, all of which looked so perfectly enticing, that I could scarcely conceive
them to be as yet untenanted, save by a.few mallard.    From reliable information and
1
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6 lm<
u
120
the examination of several dried skins, I believe that no less than eight varieties of
geese frequent this river in the autumn and spring, including two varieties of snow
geese, pure white, with the exception of the pinion feathers, which were black, one
differing from the other only in size ; but of course, being so early I saw none, though
I obtained a few shots at ducks, which were much appreciated in the cooking department. I killed on the way down one bear, one coyote, and one skunk from the canoe.
These, with the exception of another coyote and a mule deer, locally known as
jumping deer, were all the game we encountered, as rapidly gliding down Stewart's
River and thence into the Nechahoo River, we finally emerged into the Fraser about
a mile above Fort George. This had been our first experience of easy down stream
travelling, so vastly superior to the tugging, poling, and shoving slowly uphill which
we had previously endured, and were yet once more to encounter. After leaving the
clear rapid waters of the Stewart and Nechahoo Rivers, to enter the more sedate and
mud-laden Fraser, we quickly found ourselves in view of the small Indian village of
Fort George, near which we pitched our tent and piled up the freight accompanying
us. There we remained three days to await the arrival of one of the Hudson Bay
Company boats from Quesnelle, which was hourly expected, and which might, we
hoped, contain some sort of food, for like all the other posts, Fort George was entirely
without provisions with the exception of flour; but on her arrival she was found
completely laden with the latter article. A short time previously a canoe specially
sent from Fort George to Quesnelle for provisions, returned with a cargo of gum-boots
and shovels, much to the disgust of the hungry storekeeper and ever ravenous
Indians, whose marvellous digestions were quite unequal to such a meal. While
staying here L. and I, on the second day, after carefully closing the tent, set off on
a foraging expedition, she hunting for grouse, while I took a longer round in search
of a bear. L., returning first, beheld in the distance our tent apparently in convulsions, and on hastening up discovered it to be occupied by a cow, which had gained
admittance by ripping up the canvas, and was busily engaged on the most gloriously
varied banquet she had ever had the opportunity of indulging in. As it may interest
the reader to know what articles of wearing apparel, etc., are specially acceptable to
a Fort George cow, I herewith enumerate the list. Some other things entirely
disappeared, but were not missed at the time; one red blanket, partly eaten, also a
blue one minus the corner; fur coat mouthed, clearly not appreciated; a blue cloth
shirt, both the arms eaten ; four handkerchiefs reduced to pulp, others missing; one
blue and red silk handkerchief, finished; one pair of stockings, partly eaten ; two
towels, pulp ; one red quilt, lined with fur, ripped to pieces and partly eaten ; one
bag of salt demolished, proving an epicurean taste. This was pretty good for one
cow, and as there were many more in the same enclosure, it was a matter of congratulation that they had not seen fit to join in the feast, or I fear our entire outfit
would have ill-sufficed to appease their unnatural craving for such food.
At Fort George a marked improvement was noticeable in the Indians, who
appeared more civilised and far less objectionable than our former acquaintances.
They thieved, of course, but not in so insolent a manner. They considered themselves catholics, and were frequently visited by the priest from Stewart's Lake. These
priests deny that they are in any way responsible for the flogging to which erring
catholic Indians are subjected, and which is brought about by a selected body of
spies, they also deny being instrumental in a torture savouring much of the days of
mj   ^pim       »fl 1