On the return of Lewis and Clarke's expedition from the Rocky Mountains where they had wintered with the Mandans, a celebrated chief of that tribe, Big White, was induced to accompany Captain Lewis to Washington in order that he might see the President, and learn something of the power of the people of the country far to the East.

The Mandans at that time were at war with the Sioux, and Big White was fearful that on his return to his own tribe some of the Sioux might cut him and his party off, so he hesitated at first to accept the invitation; but upon Captain Clarke assuring him that the government would send a guard of armed men to protect and convoy him safely to his own country, the chief assented, and took with him his wife and son.

In the spring of 1807, Big White set out on his return to the Mandan country. The promised escort, comprising twenty men under the command of Captain Ezekiel Williams, a noted frontiersman, left St. Louis to guard him and to explore the region of the then unknown far West.

Each man of the party carried a rifle, together with powder and lead to last him for a period of two years. They also took with them six traps to each person, for it was the intention of the expedition, after it had seen the brave Mandan safely to his own home, to hunt for beaver and other fur-bearing animals in the recesses of the vast region beyond the Missouri.

Pistols, knives, camp kettles, blankets, and other camp equipage necessary to the success of the expedition and the comfort of the men were carried on extra packhorses. He did not forget to take gewgaws and trinkets valued by the savage, as presents to the chiefs of the several tribes they might chance to meet.

It will be remembered by the student of history that the expedition of Lewis and Clarke was confined to the Missouri River. They went up that stream and returned by the same route, and as Lieutenant Pike started west in 1805, it is claimed that this expedition of Captain Williams, overland to the Rocky Mountains, was the second ever undertaken by citizens of the United States. The difficulties which they expected to encounter, having no knowledge of the country through which they were to pass, as may be surmised, were numerous and trying. When leaving the Mandan chief at his village, near the mouth of the Yellowstone, that excellent Indian gave the party some timely advice, and it prevented their absolute annihilation on several occasions. Captain Williams was especially urged to exercise the greatest vigilance day and night; to pay the strictest attention to the position of his camps and the picketing of his animals. He was told that, although the average Indian generally relied upon surprises on their raids, they were not rash and careless, rarely attacking a party that was prepared and on the lookout.

Captain Williams was a man of the most persistent perseverance, patience, and unflinching courage, coupled with that determination of character which has been the saving attribute of nearly all our famous mountaineers from the earliest days. His men, too, were all used to the privations and hardships that a life on the border demands, for Missouri, at the time of the expedition, was a wilderness in the most rigid definition of the term. All were splendid shots with the rifle, and could hit the eye of a squirrel whether the animal stood still or was running up the trunk of a tree.

The distance they travelled each day averaged about twenty-five miles. When they were ready to camp, they selected a position where wood and water were plentiful, and the grass good for their animals. For the first eight or ten nights they would kindle great fires, around which they gathered, ate the fat venison their hunters had killed through the day, and told stories of hunting and logging back in the mighty forests of Missouri. When they reached the region of the Platte they were forced to abandon this careless practice, for they were now entering a region infested by hostile savages, and they found it necessary to act upon the suggestions of the Mandan chief, and be constantly on their guard.

For the distance of about two hundred and fifty miles from the Missouri they did not find game very abundant, although they never suffered, as there was always enough to supply their wants. The timber began to thin out too, and they were obliged to resort for their fire to the bois de vache, or buffalo-chips.

One day, two of the hunters killed a brace of very fat deer close to camp, and when the animals were dressed and their carcasses hung up to a huge limb, the viscera and other offal attracted a band of hungry wolves. Not less than twenty of the impudent, famishing brutes battened in luxurious frenzy on the inviting entrails and feet of the slaughtered deer. The wolves were of all sizes and colours; those that were the largest kept their smaller congeners away from the feast until they were themselves gorged, and then allowed the little ones to gather up the fragments. While the latter were waiting their turn with a constant whining and growling, the dogs of the expedition barked an accompaniment to the howls of the impatient animals, and soon made a break for the pack. They chased them around the trees and out on the open prairie, when they turned upon the dogs and drove them back to camp. One of the most plucky of the dogs made a bold stand, but was seized by as many of the wolves as could get hold of him, and he was torn to shreds almost instantly.

The trappers did not want to waste any lead on the worthless animals, but in the darkness set some of their beaver-traps, which they baited with pieces of venison suspended just above them on a projecting limb of a tree. In the morning, when the trappers went out to look for their supposed victims, both the meat and the traps were gone. They had, in their inexperience, forgotten to fasten the traps to anything, and if any of the wolves were caught, they had walked off, traps and all!

While all were at breakfast, one of the mortified hunters, disgusted at the loss of his trap, went off with the intention of tracking the wolf that had carried it away, thinking perhaps if the animal had got rid of it he would find it on its trail. Sure enough, a wolf had been caught by this man's trap, and in dragging it along had left in the grass a very distinct trail, by which he was easily followed. He was tracked into a thicket of hazel, entrance to which was almost impossible, so rank and tangled was its growth. No doubt the wolf was alive, but how to recover his trap was an enigma to the hunter. He called the dogs and endeavoured to get them to go in, but, after their experience of the night before, they, with the most terrible howls, declined to make the attempt. Then it was observed that near the clump of hazel was a large oak-tree, from whose limbs an extended view of the centre of the thicket could be had. One of the hunters, at the suggestion of Captain Williams, climbed the tree, and shot the wolf with his rifle. The danger having passed, the wolf was dragged from his retreat, and it was discovered that one of his forefeet had been caught in the trap. He was an immense fellow, and nearly black in colour.

In the early days of the frontier, the following method was sometimes employed to rid a camp of wolves. Several fishhooks were tied together by their shanks, with a sinew, and the whole placed in the centre of a piece of tempting fresh meat, which was dropped where the bait was most likely to be found by the prowling beasts. The hooks were so completely buried in the meat as to prevent their being shaken off by the animal that seized the bait. It is an old trapper's belief that a wolf never takes up a piece of food without shaking it well before he attempts to eat it, so that when the unlucky animal had swallowed the wicked morsel, he commenced at once to howl most horribly, tear his neck, and run incontinently from the place. As wolves rarely travel alone, but are gregarious in their habits, the moment the brute has swallowed the bait and commenced to run, all make after him. His fleeing is contagious, and they seldom come back to that spot again. Sometimes the pack will run for fifty miles before stopping.

One night, while encamped on the Platte, five of their horses were missing when daylight came. At first they thought the Indians had run them off; but, on second thought, Captain Williams argued that the animals could not have been stolen. If the Indians had been able to take the five, they could as easily have taken the whole herd. This induced the men to go out and institute a search for the missing animals. Their trail, made very plain by the dew, was soon found in the grass, and soon all were returned to camp. The horses had cleared themselves of their hobbles, and were going off in the direction of their far-away home, and it was not until dark that the camp was reached. Thus a whole day was lost, but as they were yet within comparatively safe distance of the river, no harm resulted from their carelessness. Now greater caution must be observed, for their journey was to be a long one; it led through a region occupied by hostile tribes who would watch them with an energy possible only to the North American savage. The Indians would waylay them in every ravine, watch them every moment from the hilltops for the purpose of gaining an advantage, hoping always to surprise them, steal their horses, and take their scalps if possible.

From that day the company adopted new tactics; they travelled until an hour before sundown, then halted, unsaddled their animals, and picketed them out to graze. In the meantime their supper was prepared, the fires lighted, and, after resting long enough for their horses to have filled themselves, generally after dark, they were brought in, saddled, the fires were renewed, and the company would start on for another camp eight or ten miles away, before again halting for the night. Of course, at the new camp no fires were kindled, and the men rested in security from a possible attack by the savages.

One day the company came upon a band of friendly Kansas Indians who were out on an annual buffalo-hunt, and Captain Williams resolved to spend two or three days with this tribe, and indulge in a buffalo-hunt with them. The whole country through which they were now travelling was literally covered with the great shaggy monsters; thousands and thousands could be seen from every point. The buffalo had not yet been frightened. Early the next morning, a dozen of the Kansas Indians, splendidly mounted, with spears, bows, and arrows for weapons, with the same number of Captain Williams' men, started for the herd grazing so unsuspiciously a few miles off. The Indians were not only excellent hunters, but very superior horsemen, their animals familiar with the habits of the huge beasts they were to encounter, and well-trained in all the quick movements so necessary to a successful hunt. But it was not so with the men of Captain Williams' party. Many of them had never seen a buffalo before, and though skilful hunters in their native woods on the Missouri River, they were wholly unacquainted with the habits of the immense beasts they were now to kill. Their horses, too, were as unused to the sight of a buffalo as their riders, and in consequence were badly frightened at the first sight of the ungainly animals. The men, of course, used their rifles, which in those days were altogether too cumbersome for hunting the buffalo.

The party soon came in view of the herd, which was quietly grazing about a mile off. Then the men dismounted, cinched up their saddles, and getting their arms ready for the attack, in a few moments of brisk riding were on the edge of the vast herd. Every man picked out his quarry and dashed after it, the Indians selecting the bulls, as they were fatter at that time of year. The cows had calves at their sides and were much thinner. In a moment the very earth seemed to tremble under the sharp clatter of the hoofs of the now thoroughly alarmed beasts, and the sound as they dashed away was like distant thunder. The Indians and their horses seemed to understand their business at once. Advancing up to a buffalo, the savage discharged his bow and launched his spear with unerring aim, and the moment it was seen that a buffalo was mortally wounded, off he would ride to another animal, leaving the dying victim where it fell.

For more than two hours the hard work was kept up until a dozen or more of the huge bulls were dead upon the prairie within the radius of a couple of miles. The Indians had averaged more than a buffalo apiece, while Captain Williams' men had signally failed to bring down a single bull, because they were unable to handle their rifles while riding. In fact, several of the white men were carried away by their unmanageable animals for miles from the scene of the hunt. One was thrown from his saddle. One horse had in his mad fright rushed upon an infuriated bull that had been wounded, and was disembowelled and killed in a moment. Its rider was compelled to walk to the camp, deeply mortified at his discomfiture.

The savages invariably exercised an amount of coolness on a buffalo-hunt that would astonish the average white man. They never let an arrow fly until they were certain of its effect. Sometimes a single arrow would suffice to kill the largest of bulls. Sometimes, so great was the force given, an arrow would pass obliquely through the body, when a bone was not struck in its passage.

Captain Williams' party had now an abundance of delicious buffalo meat, but it was at the expense of a horse, a considerable balance on the debtor side, considering the long and weary march yet to be made. Providence seems to have come luckily to the relief of the party at this juncture, for, one of the savages having taken a particular fancy to one of the dogs of the outfit, he offered to exchange a fine young horse for it. His offer was gladly acceded to by the captain. The Indian was pleased with the bargain, but not more so than the horseless hunter.

The next day Captain Williams crossed the Platte a short distance below the junction of the North and South Forks, and just before sundown, as usual, halted to graze the horses and prepare their evening meal. In a few moments the dog that had been exchanged for a horse came into camp, and appeared overjoyed to see his white friends again. A piece of buffalo-hide was attached to his neck. He had been tied, but had succeeded in gnawing the lariat in two, and thus made his escape, following the trail of the party he knew so well.

The region through which Captain Williams' party was now travelling was dotted with the various animals which at that early period were so numerous on the grand prairies of the Platte. Conspicuous, of course, were vast herds of buffalo, and near the outer edge of the nearest could be distinctly seen a pack of hungry wolves, eagerly watching for a chance to hamstring one of the superannuated bulls which stood alone, remote from all his companions, in all the misery of his forlorn abandonment.

In the afternoon, as the party were riding silently along the trail by the margin of the river, a rumbling, muffled sound was heard, like the mutterings of thunder below the horizon. One of the Indians whom Captain Williams had induced to accompany him for some distance farther into the wilderness, told him that the noise was made by a stampeded herd of buffalo, and the sound became clearer and more distinct. He believed the frightened animals were rushing in the direction of the company, and if his surmises were true, there was danger in store. For more than an hour the rumbling continued, sounding louder and louder, until at last a surging, dark-looking mass of rapidly moving animals was visible on the horizon, seeming to cover the entire surface of the prairie as far as the eye could see.

There was but one thing to do; either the herd must be divided by some means, or death to all was inevitable. Accordingly the horses were hobbled, and the men rushed toward the approaching mass of surging animals, firing off their rifles as rapidly and shouting as loudly as they could. Luckily for the hunters, as the vast array of frightened buffaloes came toward them, the leaders, with bloodshot eyes, stared for a moment at the new object of terror, divided to the right and left, passing the now thoroughly alarmed men with only about fifty or sixty yards between them.

For more than an hour the hard work of yelling and firing off their rifles had to be kept up before the danger was over. The buffalo appeared to be more badly frightened at the yells of the Indian than at anything else that confronted them. One of the beautiful greyhounds belonging to the company became demoralized, and, running into the midst of the rushing herd as it passed by, was cruelly trampled to death in an instant.

In the early days it was generally believed that, when buffalo were seen stampeding in the manner described, they were being chased by Indians; and the party, surmising this to be the cause of the present onward rush of the animals, although getting short of their meat rations, did not deem it prudent to kill any, so the vast herd of the coveted animals was allowed to pass by without a shot being fired at them.

The delay caused by the stampede made the party very late in making their usual afternoon camp, and when they started on their hard march again, three of the men were detailed to hunt for game. They were told to join the company at a bunch of timber just visible low down on the western horizon, apparently about six miles distant, but as afterward proved it was much farther.

The men who were ordered out by the captain were warned to observe the strictest vigilance, and particularly not to separate from each other, as it was evident they were in a dangerous country, and their safety depended upon their keeping within supporting distance.

The main body of the party arrived at the bunch of timber about sundown, and partook of a very slight repast, as the meat, upon which they depended almost entirely, was nearly exhausted. About dark, however, two of the hunters who had left in the afternoon came into camp bringing with them a fine deer. They reported that their companion had left them to get a shot at a herd of elk a mile away, and while going after the deer which they had killed they lost sight of him. They also stated that they had seen three horsemen going in the direction which the missing man had taken. This painful news created the greatest alarm in the camp; it was too late and dark to go out in search of their missing comrade, and if he were still alive he would be compelled to remain entirely unprotected during the night on the prairie. The captain at first thought of kindling a large fire, hoping that the lost man would see the light and find his way in. As this plan would betray the presence of the whole party to any Indians who might be prowling about, it was wisely abandoned. So the little camp-fires were extinguished, and a double guard posted, for it was believed that, if the Indians had killed their comrade, they would be likely to attack the main camp at dawn, the hour usually selected for such raids.

The night passed slowly on; nothing disturbed the hunters except their anxiety for their lost comrade. At the faintest intimation of the coming dawn, ten of the party, including the two who had been with the missing man the previous afternoon, set out on their quest for their lost companion. They first went back to the spot where they remembered having last seen him, but there was not a sign of him; not even the track of his horse's hoofs could be seen. The men fired off their rifles as they rode along, and occasionally called out his name, but not a sound came back in response. At last they were rewarded by the sight of a horse standing in a bunch of willows. As they approached him, they were welcomed by his neighing. They then halted, and continued their shouting and calling by name, but not an answer did they get. They were now confirmed in their belief that their comrade had been killed by the Indians, who were in possession of his horse, and at that moment hidden in the bunch of willows before them. They were determined to know positively, so they approached the spot very cautiously, with their fingers on the triggers of their rifles, ready to repel an attack. When they had approached sufficiently near, they saw that the horse was carefully fastened to the brush, and a short distance away was Carson[7] lying down with his head resting on the saddle! At first the men thought him dead, but found out that he was only in a profound sleep, indeed, really enjoying the most delightful dreams. When they aroused him he appeared bewildered for a moment, but soon recovered his normal condition, and related his story to his now happy companions. He said that in his eagerness to get the elk he lost his bearings, and wandered about until midnight. He hoped that he might catch a glimpse of their camp-fire, but failing in that, being tired and hungry, he laid himself down and tried to sleep; but pondering upon his danger he lay awake until daylight, and had just dropped into a deep slumber when they found him, and he slept so soundly that he failed to hear them call. He said that he saw the Indians on horseback seen by the other men; they passed by him within a hundred yards, but did not see him, as he was already hidden in the willows where he was found.

The lost man being found, the party returned to camp and resumed its journey, exercising renewed caution, as the signs of Indians grew thicker as they moved on. Tracks of the savages' horses and the remains of their camp-fires were now of frequent occurrence, and the game along the trail was easily frightened, another sign of the late presence of Indians.

About noon some mounted Indians were discovered by the aid of the captain's field-glass, on a divide, evidently watching the movements of the party. They were supposed to be runners of some hostile tribe, who intended that night to steal upon them and take their horses, and possibly attempt to take their scalps. Toward night the same Indians were again observed following the trail of the party, and they were now satisfied the savages were dogging them. Having arrived at the margin of a small stream of very pure water, they halted for an hour or more, allowing the Indians, who were evidently watching every movement, to believe their intention was to camp for the night at that spot. As soon as the animals were sufficiently rested, however, and had filled themselves with the nutritious grass growing so luxuriantly all around them, they saddled up, first having added a large amount of fresh fuel to their fires, and started on. They made a detour to the north in order to deceive the savages as much as possible as to their real course. The ruse had the desired effect, for after travelling about ten miles farther, they slept soundly until the next morning, without fires, on a delicious piece of green sod.

At the first streak of dawn the men were in their saddles again, having outwitted the Indians completely. It was about the first of June; and one day, soon after they had gotten rid of their savage spies, one of the party was stricken down with a severe sickness, and they were compelled to lie in camp and attend to the sufferings of their unfortunate comrade. He had a high fever, grew delirious, and as in those days bleeding was considered a panacea for all the ills that flesh is heir to, the captain made several abortive attempts to draw the diseased blood from the poor man, but failed completely. He also dosed his victim with copious draughts of calomel, but the result was far from salutary; the man grew worse, but the party determined to remain with him until he did get better or death relieved him of his sufferings. Accordingly, to make themselves more secure from probable attacks of the Indians, they threw up a rude breastwork of earth, behind which they established themselves and felt thereafter a greater degree of security.

Some of the men were despatched on a hunt for meat, and shortly returned with part of the carcass of a young buffalo cow, and one antelope, which was the first they had been able to kill. The man who killed it said that he resorted to the tactics generally adopted by the Indians. The timid animal would not allow him to approach within rifle-shot, until he had excited its curiosity by fastening a handkerchief on the end of his ramrod. As soon as the antelope saw it, it gradually walked toward him until so near that he was assured that his piece would carry that far. It actually came within thirty yards of him, and he shot it while lying prone on the ground, the graceful animal noticing nothing but the white rag that had attracted its attention.

On the afternoon of that day a band of savages, mounted on fine horses, made their appearance near the camp, and looked upon the white men with great curiosity. It was soon learned that they were Pawnees, and with some little trouble they were enticed to come in, and a talk was had with their leader. They proved to be a party out after some Osages who had stolen a number of horses. They had been lucky enough to overtake them, and had killed nearly all the thieves, regained their horses, and had a number of the enemies' scalps. The Pawnees had met Captain Lewis the year before, and having received some presents from him were inclined to regard the whites as a friendly people. This impression the captain further confirmed by himself making them gifts of some tobacco and trifling trinkets. They were shown around the camp, and seemed to sympathize deeply with the sick man, who was lying on his blankets in a dying condition. They gathered some roots from the prairie, and assured the captain that if the man would take them he would certainly recover; they also urged their manner of sweating and bathing, but the appliances were not at hand, so the advice had to be declined.[8]

That evening the sick man died; an event that was looked for, but not so soon. His body was immediately wrapped in his blanket and deposited in a grave. On the bark of a tree standing near, his name, "William Hamilton," and the date of his death were rudely carved with a jack-knife by one of the party.

Early in the morning the occupants of the camp were shocked at the sight of a pack of wolves most industriously at work on the grave trying to unearth the body of their unfortunate comrade. All the men suddenly and almost simultaneously attempted to fire their rifles at the pack, but were checked by the captain, who urged that the report of their arms might bring down upon them a band of Indians who were not so friendly as the Pawnees. With great difficulty the wolves were driven off, and the grave was covered with heavy logs and the largest stones that could be procured in the vicinity.

The party then continued on their journey, feeling very sad over the loss of Hamilton, for he was beloved by all on account of his sterling qualities.

In the afternoon a great commotion was noticed far ahead of them on the prairie. At first they could not determine its cause, but presently the captain, bringing his glass to bear upon the objects, discovered it to be a small band of wolves in full chase after a superannuated buffalo bull, which had been driven out of the herd by the younger ones.

The frightened animal was coming directly toward the party with the excited wolves close at his heels. There were twelve wolves, and evidently they had had a long chase, as both they and the buffalo were nearly exhausted. The party stopped to witness the novel fight, a scene so foreign to anything they had witnessed before. The wolves were close around the buffalo, snapping incessantly at his heels, in their endeavour to hamstring him. They did not hold on like a dog, but at every jump at the poor beast they would bring away a mouthful of his flesh, which they gulped down as they ran. So fierce was the chase that the famishing wolves did not observe the men until they came within ten yards of them; even then they did not appear to be much frightened, but scampered off a short distance, sat on their haunches, licked their bloody chops, and appeared to be waiting with the utmost impatience to renew the chase again. The buffalo had suffered severely, and he was ultimately brought to the ground. The party left him to his fate, and as they rode away they could see the ravenous pack, with fresh impetuosity, tearing the poor beast to pieces with true canine ferocity.

That evening, after the party had fixed their camp for the night, two young Indians, a man and a squaw, rode up and alighted in the midst of the company, apparently worn out from hard riding. Their sudden appearance filled the company with amazement, and the safety of all demanded an immediate explanation, for they all thought that the young savage might be a runner or spy of some hostile band, who were meditating an attack upon them. But they were rather nonplussed upon seeing the youthful maiden; they could not believe that their first conjectures were correct, her presence precluded such a possibility. They had been told by Big White that war-parties never encumbered themselves with women, and the jaded condition of the young people's horses to some extent allayed their fears, for it was evident the Indians had made a long and severe journey.

The captain requested the Indian who had accompanied his party thus far to interrogate them as to what was their destination, and why they had come so unceremoniously into the camp. It was soon learned that the boy was a Pawnee who had been captured by a band of Sioux a year or more ago, and was carried by them to their village far up the Missouri, in which he had remained a prisoner until an opportunity had offered to make his escape. The young girl with him was a Sioux, for whom he had conceived a liking while among her tribe.

Their story, divested of the crude manner in which it was interpreted by the Mandan and put into intelligent English, was as follows: - The boy belonged to the Pawnee Loups, whose tribe lived on the Wolf Fork of the Platte. One day, in company with several of his young comrades, he had gone down to the river to indulge in the luxury of a swim, and while they were amusing themselves in the water, a raiding band of the Tetons came suddenly upon them, making a prisoner of him while the others managed to make their escape. He was instantly snatched up, tied on a horse, and hurried away. The animal he rode was led by one of the band, and goaded on by another who followed immediately behind. They travelled night and day until they reached a point entirely free from the possibility of being followed, and then he was leisurely conveyed to the main village at the Great Bend of the Missouri. As their prisoner happened to be the son of a grand chief of the Pawnees, he was greatly prized as a captive, and, on that account, was placed in the family of a principal chief of the Tetons. He was only sixteen years old according to his statement, but he was already fully five and a half feet high, and one of the handsomest and best proportioned Indians that Captain Williams had ever seen.

He said that his name was Do-ran-to, and that it is frequently the lot of Indian captives, to some extent, to occupy the relation of servants or slaves to their captors, and to be assigned to those menial and domestic offices which are never performed by men among the Indians, but constitute the employment of the women. To be compelled to fill such a position in the village was very mortifying to the Indian pride of Do-ran-to, the heir to a chieftainship in his own tribe; but he became somewhat reconciled to it, as it threw him in the company of a beautiful daughter of the principal man in the village, whose name was Ni-ar-gua.

Do-ran-to was never permitted to go to war or to hunt the buffalo, a mode of life too tame and inactive for one of his restless spirit; but the compensation was in the frequent opportunities it gave him of walking and talking with the beautiful Ni-ar-gua, over whose heart he had soon gained a complete victory.

It would not do, however, for the daughter of a distinguished chief to be the wife of a captive slave, belonging, too, to a tribe toward which the Tetons entertained a hereditary hostility. It would be a flagrant violation of every rule of Indian etiquette. The mother of the youthful Ni-ar-gua, like her white match-making sisters, soon noticed the growing familiarity of the two lovers, and she like a good wife reported the matter to her husband, the chief. The intelligence was entirely unexpected, and by no means very agreeable to his feeling of pride, so, after the savage method of disciplining refractory daughters, Ni-ar-gua was not only roughly reproved for her temerity, but received a good lodge-poling from her irate father, besides. He also threatened to shoot an arrow through the heart of Do-ran-to for his impudent pretensions. The result, however, of the attempt to break the match, as in similar cases in civilized life, was not only unsuccessful, but served to increase the flame it was intended to extinguish, and to strengthen instead of dissolve the attachment between the two.

If now their partiality for each other was not visible and open, they were none the less determined to carry out their designs. When the young Pawnee perceived that there were difficulties in the way, which would ever be insuperable while he remained a prisoner among the Tetons, he immediately conceived the idea of eloping to his own people, and embraced the first opportunity to apprise Ni-ar-gua of his design. The proposition met with a hearty response on her part. She was ready to go with him wherever he went, and to die where he died.

Now there was a young warrior of her own tribe who also desired the hand of the Teton belle, and he greatly envied the position Do-ran-to occupied in the eyes of Ni-ar-gua. In fact, he entertained the most deadly hate toward the Pawnee captive, and suffered no opportunity to show it to pass unimproved. Do-ran-to was by no means ignorant of the young warrior's feelings of jealousy and hate, but he felt his disability as an alien in the tribe, and pursued a course of forbearance as most likely to ensure the accomplishment of his designs. Still, there were bounds beyond which his code of honour would not suffer his enemy to pass. On one occasion, the young brave offered Do-ran-to the greatest and most intolerable insult which in the estimation of Western tribes one man can give to another.

The person on whom this indignity is cast, by a law among the tribes, may take away the life of the offender if he can; but it is customary, and thought more honourable, to settle the difficulty by single combat, in which the parties may use the kind of weapons on which they mutually agree. Public sentiment will admit of no compromise. If no resistance is offered to the insult, the person insulted is thenceforth a disgraced wretch, a dog, and universally despised. Do-ran-to forthwith demanded satisfaction of the young Sioux, who, by the way, was only too anxious to give it, being full of game and mettle, as well as sanguine as to the victory he would gain over the hated young Pawnee. They agreed to settle their difficulty by single combat, and the weapons to be used were war-clubs and short knives. A suitable place was selected. The whole village of the Tetons emptied itself to witness the combat. Men, women, and children swarmed about the arena. The two youthful combatants made their appearance, stark naked, and took their positions about thirty yards apart. Just when the signal was given, Do-ran-to's eye caught that of his betrothed Ni-ar-gua in the crowd. Then said his heart, "Be strong and my arm big!" There was no fear then in Do-ran-to.

As the champions advanced toward each other, the Sioux was too precipitate, and by the impulse of the charge was carried rather beyond Do-ran-to, who, being more cool and deliberate, gave him, as he passed, a blow on the back of the neck with his war-club that perfectly stunned him and brought him to the ground. Do-ran-to then sprang upon him and despatched him by a single thrust of his knife. The relatives of the unfortunate Sioux raised a loud lament, and, with that piteous kind of howling peculiar to savages, bore him away. Do-ran-to was now regarded as a young brave, and was greatly advanced in the general esteem of the village. He must now be an adopted son, and no longer a woman, but go to war, and hunt the buffalo, the elk, and the antelope.

The father of Ni-ar-gua, however, must in this matter be excepted. In the general excitement in behalf of the lucky captive he lagged behind, and was reserved and sullen. Having conceived a dislike for him, he was not inclined to confer upon him the honours he had so fairly won. And then it would not do to appear delighted with the valour of the young Pawnee. Ni-ar-gua was his favourite child, and she must be the wife of some distinguished personage. But the chief was doomed, as many a father is, to be outwitted by his daughter in matters of this kind. At a time when he was absent, holding a council with a neighbouring tribe of the Sioux upon great national affairs, Do-ran-to picked out two of the chief's best horses on which to escape with the girl to his own tribe. Ni-ar-gua was ready. When the village was sunk in a profound sleep, she met him in a sequestered spot, bringing a supply of provisions for their intended trip. In a moment they were in their saddles and away!

They were not less than three "sleeps" from his own people, and would be followed by some of the Tetons as long as there was any hope of overtaking them. By morning, however, there would be such a wide space between them and their pursuers as to make their escape entirely practicable, if no mishap befell them on the way. They had good horses, good hearts, a good country to travel over, and above all a good cause, and why not good luck?

They travelled night and day, never stopping any longer than was absolutely necessary to rest their horses. After his story was told, the captain tried to prevail upon the young couple to remain with the company until morning, and enjoy that rest and refreshment which he and the girl so much needed; but the gallant young savage said that they had not slept since they had set out on their flight, nor did they even dare to think of closing their eyes before they should reach the village of the Pawnees. He knew that he would be pursued as long as there was any hope of overtaking him; and he also knew what his doom would be if he again fell into the hands of the Sioux. Having remained, therefore, in the camp scarcely an hour, the two fugitive lovers were again on the wing, flying over the green prairie, guided by the light of a full and beautiful moon, and animated and sustained by the purity of their motives and the hope of soon reaching a place of safety and protection.

Captain Williams' party could not but admire the courage of the Teton beauty, the cheerfulness, and even hilarity that she manifested while in their camp. When ready to start off, she leaped from the ground, unassisted, into her Indian saddle, reined up her horse, and was instantly beside him with whom she was now ready to share any trial and brave any danger. It was an exhibition of female fortitude, that kind of heroism, peculiar to the sex in all races, which elevates woman to a summit perfectly inaccessible to man.

The party moved on the next day, and the utmost caution was necessary to prevent it from being cut off, for the region through which they were now passing was infested with many bands of Sioux - a terror to all other tribes on account of their superior numbers. The several bands were scattered from the waters of the Platte to the Black Hills, and for a number of years resisted all efforts made by various expeditions to push forward to the upper tribes.

One day, after leaving their camp where the Indian lovers had come so suddenly upon them, a large herd of buffaloes was observed feeding very quietly about a quarter of a mile from their line of travel, offering those an opportunity who desired to show their horsemanship and skill in a hunt. Although they had an abundance of meat, and it was the purpose of the captain that there should be no more shooting than was absolutely necessary, the impetuous Carson asked permission to try his hand.

The captain reluctantly granted his request, as it was nearly sundown, and the company had come to its accustomed halt. The more experienced of the men urged Carson not to venture too near the object of his pursuit, nor too far from the camp, as both steps might be accompanied with danger to all. The young man felt it to be the safer plan to undertake the hunt on horseback, and as the heavy rifles of those days were not so easily handled as the modern arm, he armed himself with two braces of pistols. The buffalo very soon observed his approach, became frightened, and incontinently put off at full speed. This made it necessary that the hunter should increase his speed, and immediately horse, hunter, and buffalo were out of sight of the camp.

Having completed their evening meal and grazed their animals, the party would have moved on, but Carson had not yet returned. Night came on rapidly and still he did not make his appearance. Many fears for his safety were now entertained in the camp, and the suspicious circumstance of his prolonged absence generally prevented the men from sleeping at all that night. Early in the morning a party went out to hunt him, and without much difficulty found him. He was sitting on a large rock near the stream, perfectly lost. Some of the men while looking for him had discovered him when about a mile away, and naturally supposed he was an Indian, as they could see no horse, and were very near leaving him to his fate; but the thought that they might be mistaken prompted them to approach, and they recognized him. According to his story he chased the buffalo for five or six miles, and for some time could not induce his horse to go near enough to the animals for him to use his pistols with any effect. After repeated unsuccessful attempts, however, he was enabled to ride up to the side of an immense bull, and commenced to fire at him as he ran. His repeated shots threw the animal into the greatest rage, and as horse, bull, and rider were dashing down the slope of the hill, the infuriated bull suddenly stopped short, turned round, and began to battle. The horse, not trained to such dangerous tactics, following immediately behind the bull, became at the moment perfectly unmanageable, rushed upon the horns of the buffalo, and his rider was thrown headlong to the ground. When he had recovered himself, and got on his feet again, he saw the buffalo running off as fast as his legs could carry him, but found that his horse was so badly wounded as to be of no further use to him. When he gathered his senses, he would have gladly gone back to the camp, but in the excitement of the chase he had paid no attention to the direction he was going, and was absolutely lost. He wandered about, and at last coming to a willow copse crawled in and slept until morning. At the first streak of dawn he crawled out of his hiding-place, and very cautiously examined the prairie all around him to learn whether any Indians had been prowling about. Observing nothing that indicated any danger, he set out with the intention of finding the party, and had tramped around until hunger and fatigue had compelled him to sit down where they had found him. As the party returned to camp they discovered Carson's horse; he was dead, and a pack of hungry wolves had already nearly devoured him. In fact it was the general idea that the horse had been killed by the wolves, as the whole country was infested by them, and, scenting the blood of the wounded animal, soon put an end to his misery. They had commenced upon the saddle, and had so torn and chewed it that it was perfectly useless.

Upon his arrival in camp the crestfallen Carson was asked a hundred questions, but he did not feel like being taunted, as he had gone without a morsel to eat for fifteen hours, had undergone great fatigue, and was considerably bruised from his tumble off his horse.

Several nights after Carson's escapade, about an hour after dark the party saw before them a light which they thought might indicate the proximity of an Indian camp. As some of the men who had been out to reconnoitre approached it, they discovered they were not mistaken in their surmises, and upon their return to camp and reporting what they had seen, the captain thought it a wise plan to move out as quickly as possible. The Indians whom they had seen numbered about a hundred, and they were seated around about fifteen fires; some of them were women and they appeared to be very busy drying meat; the party had evidently been out on a hunt. A large number of horses were grazing in the vicinity of the camp, and the majority of the warriors were smoking their pipes, while their squaws were hard at work.

Captain Williams pushed ahead all that night and the greater portion of the next day before he dared to go into camp. They continued on for several days more, then made a temporary camp for the purpose of trapping for beaver. In a short time the men and horses recovered from the effects of their toilsome journey. The latter began to get fat, their feet and backs, which had become sore, were healing up rapidly, and they were soon in as fine a condition as when they left St. Louis. The men were having a good time, securing plenty of beaver, and the camp resounded with laughter at the jokes which were passed around.

For several weeks they had seen no signs of Indians, but one morning one of the men discovered that an Indian had been caught in a trap, from which, however, he had extricated himself, as it was found near the spot where it had been set. A day or two afterward, ten of the party left the camp on a buffalo-hunt. At the beginning of the chase the buffalo were not more than a mile from the camp, but they were pursued for more than three or four miles, which led the party into danger. A band of Blackfeet, numbering at least a hundred, suddenly appeared over a divide, and, splendidly mounted on trained ponies, came toward the hunters as fast as their animals could carry them. Five of Captain Williams' men made their escape, and reached the camp, but the remainder were cut off, and immediately killed and scalped. The five who made their escape were chased to within a half-mile of the camp by several of the savages, one of whom, after his comrades had wheeled their horses on seeing the men ready for them, persistently kept on, evidently eager to get another scalp. He paid for his rashness with his life, as one of the hunters who had not yet discharged his rifle sent a bullet after him, which shot him through and through, and he tumbled from his animal stone dead.

The loss of five men from a party which originally numbered only twenty had a very depressing effect upon those who were left, and Captain Williams felt that his situation was very critical. He expected every moment to see a large band of the Blackfeet come down upon him. He was now certain of one thing; he knew that his party had been watched by the savages for several days, as they had noticed several times, during the past week, objects which they believed to have been wolves, moving on the summits of the divides, but after their unfortunate skirmish with the Indians they felt sure that what they had taken to be wolves were in fact savages.

The fight with its disastrous results had occurred late in the afternoon, so that it was not long before the party made their first camp for the night. The horses were all brought in and picketed near, the traps gathered as fast as possible, and everything made ready for a hasty departure as soon as darkness should close in upon them. Large fires were lighted as usual, only more than the usual number were kindled, and at midnight the sorrowful party mounted their animals and set off.

They travelled as fast as their horses could walk for fully twenty-four hours before they dared make another halt, but they soon found themselves in the country of the Crows, who were friendly with the whites. The first village they encountered was a very large one, and the chief induced them to remain with him for nearly a week, during which time they went out on a buffalo-hunt with their newly found friends. They were not satisfied, however, with the region, it being not nearly so fruitful in beaver as the country south of the Crows, so they made a detour to the south.

When about to leave the generous Crows, one of Captain Williams' men, whose name was Rose, expressed his intention to abandon the party and take up his life with the Indians. It appears that while Rose was in the village he was not able to resist the charms of a certain Crow maiden, whom he afterward chose as his wife, with whom he lived happily for several years. When Rose joined Captain Williams' party, his antecedents were entirely unknown to that grand old frontiersman. It turned out that he was one of those desperadoes of the then remote frontier, who had been outlawed for his crimes farther east, and whose character was worse than any savage, with whom even now such men sometimes consort. Rose had formerly belonged to a gang of pirates who infested the islands of the Mississippi, plundering boats as they travelled up and down the river. They sometimes shifted the scene of their robberies to the shore, waylaid voyagers on their route to New Orleans, and often perpetrated the most cold-blooded murders. When the villanous horde of cut-throats was broken up, Rose betook himself to the upper wilderness, and when Captain Williams was forming his company at St. Louis, he came forward and offered himself. Captain Williams was not at all pleased with the sinister looks of the fellow, suspecting that his character was not good, but it was a difficult matter to induce men to join an expedition fraught with so much daring and danger. So the refugee was dropped among the Crows, whose habits of life were much more congenial to the feelings of such a man than the restraints of civilization.[9]

The Crow chief at the time of the visit of Captain Williams' party to their nation was Ara-poo-ish, who was succeeded by the famous Jim Beckwourth, who remained at the head of the tribe for many years.

When Captain Williams arrived at the headwaters of the Platte, the party met with another disaster. Early one morning seven of the men, including the captain, went out to bring in their horses which had been turned out to graze the evening before. As they were still in the country of the Crows, whom they regarded as their firm friends, they had not exercised their usual precaution of securely picketing their animals. They merely had tied their two forefeet loosely together to prevent them from straying too far, while they retired to the shelter of some friendly timber a short distance away, and lying down on their buffalo-robes, went to sleep. When they set out for their animals they could not be found. A trail, however, plainly discernible in the deep, dewy grass, was soon discovered, very fresh, leading across a low divide. They also came upon several of the rawhide strips by which their horses had been hobbled. These were not broken, but had evidently been unfastened, a circumstance that filled the minds of the party with the most painful anxiety. They continued on the trail of the missing animals, to the top of a ridge, where they were suddenly confronted by a band of about sixty Indians. The savages appeared to be busy preparing an attack upon the party, for when the Indians observed the white men they immediately mounted their ponies, and dashed right down the hill toward them, at the same moment making the hills echo with their diabolical whoops. Captain Williams urged his men to make their escape to the timber, but before they could reach it five of them were overtaken, killed, and scalped! The captain and one other man succeeded in reaching the clump of trees, though very closely pursued. The remaining men who were left in camp, seeing the savages coming, snatched up their rifles, and each hiding himself behind the trunk of a tree opened fire upon them. That movement caused the savages to wheel around and dash back, but they left several of their comrades dead and wounded upon the ground. In a few moments the infuriated Indians made another charge, shouting and whooping as only savages can, and launched a shower of arrows into the timber. The underbrush was very dense, which prevented them from riding into the timber, and also from seeing the exact whereabouts of Captain Williams and his men. It was a most fortunate circumstance, for they would have been cut off if they had been out on the open prairie, but as they could plainly see the savages, they took careful aim, and at each report of the rifle a savage was brought to the ground. The Indians made four successive charges, and discovering they were not able to dislodge the little band of brave white men, they finally abandoned the fight and rode away. Nineteen of the Indians were killed by Captain Williams' party, but it was a sad victory, for now only ten men were left of the original twenty, and they were without a single horse to ride or pack their equipage upon.

Certainly expecting that the savages would shortly return with re-enforcements, the sad little company hurriedly gathered up their furs and as many traps as the ten men could carry, and travelled about ten miles, keeping close to the timber. When darkness came on they crept into a very dense growth of underbrush, where they passed the greater part of the night in erecting a scaffold upon which they cached their furs, traps, and other things which they found inconvenient to carry.

As the prospects of the company were now gloomy in the extreme, the spirits of the men drooped and their hearts became sad. They were many hundreds of miles from any settlement, in the heart of a wilderness almost boundless, and beset on every side by lurking savages ready at any moment to dash in upon them when an opportunity offered.

Of course, the project of crossing the Rocky Mountains and trapping at the headwaters of the Columbia had now to be abandoned. They wandered about, meeting with various adventures, until only Captain Williams and two others of the party were left. At last they agreed to separate, the two intending to attempt the difficult passage back to St. Louis, while the brave captain remained, and finally reached the great Arkansas Valley in safety.