« PreviousContinue »
about to shift his saddle to this noble gift-horse, when the affectionate patriarch plucked him by the sleeve, and introduced to him a whimpering, whining, leathern-skinned old squaw, that might have passed for an Egyptian mummy without drying. "This," said he, "is my wife she is a good wife-I love her very much. She loves the horse- she loves him a great deal-she will cry very much at losing him. I do not know how I shall comfort her— and that makes my heart very sore."
What could the worthy captain do, to console the tender-hearted old squaw, and, peradventure, to save the venerable patriarch from a curtain lecture? He bethought himself of a pair of ear-bobs it was true, the patriarch's better-half was of an age and appearance that seemed to put personal vanity out of the question, but when is personal vanity extinct? The moment he produced the glittering earbobs, the whimpering and whining of the sempiternal beldame was at an end. She eagerly placed the precious baubles in her ears, and, though as ugly as the Witch of Endor, went off with a sideling gait, and coquettish air, as though she had been a perfect Semiramis.
The captain had now saddled his newly acquired steed, and his foot was in the stirrup, when the affectionate patriarch again stepped
forward, and presented to him a young PiercedNose, who had a peculiarly sulky look.
This," said the venerable chief, "is my son : he is very good-a great horseman-he always took care of this very fine horse-he brought him up from a colt, and made him what he is. He is very fond of this fine horse-he loves him like a brother-his heart will be very heavy when this fine horse leaves the camp."
What could the captain do to reward the youthful hope of this venerable pair, and comfort him for the loss of his foster brother, the horse? He bethought him of a hatchet, which might be spared from his slender stores. sooner did he place the implement in the hands of the young hopeful, than his countenance brightened up, and he went off rejoicing in his hatchet, to the full as much as did his respectable mother in her ear-bobs.
The captain was now in the saddle, and about to start, when the affectionate old patriarch stepped forward, for the third time, and, while he laid one hand gently on the mane of the horse, held up the rifle in the other. "This rifle," said he, shall be my great medicine. I will hug it to my heart-I will always love it, for the sake of my good friend, the baldheaded chief. But a rifle, by itself, is dumb
I cannot make it speak. If I had a little powder and ball, I would take it out with me, and would now and then shoot a deer; and when I brought the meat home to my hungry family, I would say-This was killed by the rifle of my friend, the bald-headed chief, to whom I gave that very fine horse.'
There was no resisting this appeal: the captain forthwith furnished the coveted supply of powder and ball; but at the same time put spurs to his very fine gift-horse, and the first trial of his speed was to get out of all further manifestation of friendship on the part of the affectionate old patriarch and his insinuating family.
Nez Percé Camp-A Chief with a Hard Name-The Big Hearts of the East-Hospitable TreatmentThe Indian Guides-Mysterious Councils-The Loquacious Chief-Indian Tomb-Grand Indian Reception-An Indian Feast-Town Criers-Honesty of the Nez Percés-The Captain's Attempt at Healing.
OLLOWING the course of the Immahah,
Captain Bonneville and his three companions soon reached the vicinity of Snake River. Their route now lay over a succession of steep and isolated hills, with profound valleys. On the second day after taking leave of the affectionate old patriarch, as they were descending into one of those deep and abrupt intervals, they descried a smoke, and shortly afterwards came in sight of a small encampment of Nez Percés.
The Indians, when they ascertained that it was a party of white men approaching, greeted them with a salute of fire-arms, and invited
them to encamp.
This band was likewise under the sway of a venerable chief named Yo-mus-ro-y-e-cut; a name which we shall be careful not to inflict oftener than is necessary upon the reader. This ancient and hardnamed chieftain welcomed Captain Bonneville to his camp with the sane hospitality and loving-kindness that he had experienced from his predecessors. He told the captain that he had often heard of the Americans and their generous deeds, and that his buffalo brethren (the Upper Nez Percés) had always spoken of them as the Big-hearted whites of the East, the very good friends of the Nez Percés.
Captain Bonneville felt somewhat uneasy under the responsibility of this magnanimous but costly appellation; and began to fear he might be involved in a second interchange of pledges of friendship. He hastened, therefore, to let the old chief know his poverty-stricken state, and how little there was to be expected from him.
He informed him that he and his comrades had long resided among the Upper Nez Percés, and loved them so much that they had thrown their arms around them, and now held them close to their hearts. That he had received such good accounts from the Upper Nez Percés of their cousins the Lower Nez Percés, that