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Entries For August 15:
Captain Lewis (current)
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This morning I arose very early and as hungry as a wolf. I had eaten nothing yesterday except one scant meal of the flour and berries except the dried cakes of berries, which did not appear to satisfy my appetite as they appeared to do those of my Indian friends. I found on inquiry of McNeal that we had only about two pounds of flour remaining. This I directed him to divide into two equal parts and to cook the one half this morning in a kind of pudding with the berries as he had done yesterday, and reserve the balance for the evening. On this new-fashioned pudding four of us breakfasted, giving a pretty good allowance also to the chief, who declared it the best thing he had tasted for a long time. He took a little of the flour in his hand, tasted and examined it very scrutinously, and asked me if we made it of roots. I explained to him the manner in which it grew.
I hurried the departure of the Indians. The chief addressed them several times before they would move. They seemed very reluctant to accompany me. I at length asked the reason and he told me that some foolish persons among them had suggested the idea that we were in league with the Pahkees and had come on in order to decoy them into an ambuscade, where their enemies were waiting to receive them; but that, for his part, he did not believe it. I readily perceived that our situation was not entirely free from danger, as the transition from suspicion to the confirmation of the fact would not be very difficult in the minds of these ignorant people who have been accustomed from their infancy to view every stranger as an enemy.
I told Cameahwait that I was sorry to find that they had put so little confidence in us, that I knew they were not acquainted with white men and therefore could forgive them. That among white men it was considered disgraceful to lie, or entrap an enemy by falsehood. I told him if they continued to think thus meanly of us, that they might rely on it that no white men would ever come to trade with them, or bring them arms and ammunition; and that, if the bulk of his nation still entertained this opinion, I still hoped that there were some among them that were not afraid to die - - that were men, and would go with me and convince themselves of the truth of what I had asserted, that there was a party of white men waiting my return, either at the forks of Jefferson's River or a little below, coming on to that place in canoes loaded with provisions and merchandise.
He told me, for his own part, he was determined to go, that he was not afraid to die. I soon found that I had touched him on the right string. To doubt the bravery of a savage is at once to put him on his mettle. He now mounted his horse and harangued his village a third time, the purport of which, as he afterwards told me, was to inform them that he would go with us and convince himself of the truth or falsity of what we had told him [even] if he was certain he should be killed; that he hoped there were some of them who heard him were not afraid to die with him, and if there were to let him see them mount their horses and prepare to set out. Shortly after this harangue, he was joined by six or eight only, and with these I smoked a pipe, and directed the men to put on their packs, being determined to set out with them while I had them in the humor.
At half after 12, we set out. Several of the old women were crying and imploring the Great Spirit to protect their warriors as if they were going to inevitable destruction. We had not proceeded far before our party was augmented by ten or twelve more, and before we reached the creek which we had passed in the morning of the 13th, it appeared to me that we had all the men of the village and a number of women with us. This may serve in some measure to illustrate the capricious disposition of those people, who never act but from the impulse of the moment. They were now very cheerful and gay, and two hours ago they looked as surly as so many imps of Saturn [sic]. When we arrived at the spring on the side of the mountain where we had encamped on the 12th, the chief insisted on halting to let the horses graze, with which I complied, and gave the Indians smoke. They are excessively fond of the pipe, but have it not much in their power to indulge themselves with even their native tobacco, as they do not cultivate it themselves. After remaining about an hour, we again set out, and by engaging to make compensation to four of them for their trouble, obtained the privilege of riding with an Indian myself, and a similar situation for each of my party. I soon found it more tiresome riding without stirrups than walking, and of course chose the latter, making the Indian carry my pack. About sunset, we reached the upper part of the level valley of the cove which we now called Shoshone Cove.
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.