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Entries For May 17:
Captain Lewis (current)
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The party with me killed a female brown bear. She was but meager, and appeared to have suckled young very recently. Captain Clark narrowly escaped being bitten by a rattlesnake in the course of his walk. The party killed one this evening at our encampment which, he informed me, was similar to that he had seen. This snake is smaller than those common to the Middle Atlantic States, being about 2 feet 6 inches long. It is of a yellowish-brown color on the back and sides, variegated with one row of oval spots of a dark-brown color lying transversely over the back from the neck to the tail, and two other rows of small circular spots of the same color which garnish the sides along the edge of the scuta. Its belly contains 176 scuta on the belly and 17 on the tail.
We were roused late at night by the sergeant of the guard and warned of the danger we were in from a large tree that had taken fire and which leaned immediately over our lodge. We had the lodge removed, and a few minutes after a large proportion of the top of the tree fell on the place the lodge had stood. Had we been a few minutes later, we should have been crushed to atoms. The wind blew so hard that, notwithstanding the lodge was fifty paces distant from the fire, it sustained considerable injury from the burning coals which were thrown on it. The party were much harassed also by this fire, which communicated to a collection of fallen timber and could not be extinguished.
Reprinted by permission of the American Studies Programs at the University of Virginia.
The complete text can also be downloaded for printing from their website.