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krown the parties concerned, that of some kind or another, and the connot only the people who had witnessed sequences of the duel were, that the the affair, but all the neighbourhood constables were soon on the trail of thronged to the scene of action, where, La Bonté to arrest him. He, howin a large field in front of the house, ever, easily avoided them, and taking the preliminaries of a duel between to the woods, lived for several days in Pete and La Bonté were being ar- as wild a state as the beasts he hunted ranged by their respective friends. and killed for his support.
Mary, when she discovered the Tired of this, however, he resolved mischief her thoughtlessness was to quit the country, and betake himself likely to occasion, was almost beside to the mountains, for which life he herself with grief, but she knew how had ever felt an inclination. vain it would be to attempt to inter- When, therefore, he thought the fere. The poor girl, who was most officers of justice had tired of seeking ardently attached to La Bonté, was him, and the coast was comparatively carried, swooning, into the house, clear, he determined to start on his where all the women congregated, distant expedition to the Far West. and were locked in by old Brand, Once more, before he carried his who, himself an old pioneer, thought project into execution, he sought and but little of bloodshed, but refused to had a last interview with Mary Brand. let the “women folk” witness the af- " Mary,” said he, “I'm about to fray.
break. They're hunting me like a fall Preliminaries arranged, the com- buck, and I'm bound to quit. Don't batants took up their respective posi- think any more about me, for I shall tions at either end of a space marked never come back.” Poor Mary burst for the purpose, at forty paces from into tears, and bent her head on the each other. They were both armed table near which she was sitting: with heavy rifles, and had the usual When again she raised it, she saw La hunting-pouches, containing ammu Bonté, with his long rifle on his shoulnition, hanging over the shoulder. der, striding with rapid steps from the Standing with the butts of their rifles house; and year after year rolled on, on the ground, they confronted each aud he never returned. other, and the crowd drawing away a A few days after this he found himfew paces only on each side, left one self at St Louis, the emporium of the man to give the word. This was the fur trade, and the fast rising metrosingle word “fire ;" and after this polis of the precocious settlements of signal was given, the combatants were the west. Here, a prey to the agony at liberty to fire away until one or the of mind which jealousy, remorse, and other dropped.
blighted love mix into a very puchero At the word both the men quickly of misery, La Bonté got into the comraised their rifles to the shoulder, and pany of certain “rowdies," a class as the sharp cracks rung instantane- which every western city particularly ously, they were seen to flinch, as abounds in ; and anxious to drown either felt the pinging sensation of a his sorrows in any way, and quite bullet entering his flesh. Regarding unscrupulous as to the means, he each other steadily for a few moments, plunged into all the vicious excitethe blood running down La Bonté's ments of drinking, gambling, and fightneck from a wound under the left jaw, ing, which form the every-day amusewhilst his opponent was seen to place ments of the rising generation of St his hand once to his right breast, as if Louis. to feel the position of his wound, they Perhaps in no other part of the commenced reloading their rifles. Aš, United States, where indeed humanity however, Pete was in the act of forcing is frequently to be seen in many curious down the ball with his long hickory and unusual phases, is there a populawiping-stick, he suddenly dropped his tion so marked in its general character, right arm,--the rifle slipped from his and at the same time divided into such grasp,--and, reeling for a moment like distinct classes, as in the above-named à drunken man, -he fell dead to the city. Dating, as it does, its foundation ground.
from yesterday,—for what are thirty Even here, however, there was law years in the growth of a metropolis ?
its founders are now searcely passed genuine character, in which the above middle life, regarding with astonish- traits are eminently prominent--to ment the growing works of their hands; these men alone is due the empire and whilst gazing upon its busy quays, of the West-destined in a few short piled with grain and other produce of years to become the most important the west, its fleets of huge steamboats of those confederate states which comlying tier upon tier alongside the pose the mighty union of North wharves, its well-stored warehouses America. and all the bustling concomitants of Sprung, then, ont of the wild and a great commercial depot, they can adventurous fur trade, St Louis, still searcely realise the memory of a few the emporium of that species of comshort years, when on the same spot merce, preserves even now, in the nothing was to be seen but the few character of its population, many of miserable hovels of a French village— the marked peculiarities which distinthe only sign of commerce the un- guished its early founders, who were wieldy bateaux of the Indian traders, identified with the primitive Indian laden with peltries from the distant in hardiness and instinctive wisdom. regions of the Platte and Upper Mis- Whilst the French portion of the popusouri. Where now intelligent and lation retain the thoughtless levity wealthy merchants walk erect, in con- and frivolous disposition of their oriscious substantiality of purse and ginal source, the Americans of St credit, and direct the commerce of a Louis, who may lay claim to be native, vast and numerously-populated region, as it were, are as particularly distinbut the other day stalked, in dress of guished for determination and energy buckskin, the Indian trader of the of character as they are for physical West; and all the evidences of life, strength and animal courage ; and maybap, consisted of the eccentric are remarkable, at the same time, for vagaries of the different bands of a singular aptitude in carrying out trappers and hardy mountaineers, who commercial enterprises to successful accompanied, some for pleasure and terminations, which would appear to some as escort, the periodically arriv- be incompatible with the love of ading bateaux, laden with the beaver venture and excitement which forms skins and buffalo robes collected dur- so prominent a feature in their characing the season at the different trading ter. In St Louis, nevertheless, posts in the Far West.
and from her merchants, have emaThese, nevertheless, were the men nated many commercial enterprises of whose hardy enterprise opened to com. gigantic speculation, not confined to merce and the plough the vast and fer- its own locality or the distant Indian tile regions of the West. Rough and fur trade, but embracing all parts of savage though they were, they alone the continent, and even a portion of were the pioneers of that extraordi- the Old World. And here it must be nary tide of civilisation which has remembered that St Louis is situpoured its resistless current through ated inland, at a distance of upwards tracts large enough for kings to of one thousand miles from the sea, govern; over a country now teeming and three thousand from the capital of with cultivation, where, a few short the United States. years ago, countless herds of buffalo Besides her merchants and upper roamed unmolested, the bear and class, who form a little aristocracy deer abounded, and where the savage even here, she has a large portion of Indian skulked through the woods her population still connected with the and prairies, lord of the unappreciated Indian and fur trade, who preserve all soil which now yields its prolific their characteristics unacted upon by treasures to the spade and plough of the influence of advancing civilisation, civilised man. To the wild and half- and between whom and other classes savage trapper, who may be said to there is a marked distinction. There is, exhibit the energy, enterprise, and moreover, a large floating population hardihood characteristic of the Ame- of foreigners of all nations, who must rican people, divested of all the false possess no little amount of enterprise and vicious glare with which a high to be tempted to this spot, from state of civilisation, too rapidly at- whence they spread over the remote tained, has obscured their real and Western tracts, still invested by the savage; and, therefore, if any of their houses shake again, as it rattles and blood is infused into the native popu- echoes down the street. lation, the characteristic energy and Here, over fiery "monaghahela," enterprise is increased, and not tem- Jean Batiste, the sallow half-breed pered down, by the foreign cross. voyageur from the north—and who,
But perhaps the most singular of her deserting the service of the “Northcasual population are the mountaineers, West," (the Hudson's Bay Company,) who, after several seasons spent in has come down the Mississippi, trapping, and with good store of from the “Falls,” to try the sweets dollars, arrive from the scene of their and liberty of “free” trapping-hobadventures, wild as savages, deter- nobs with a stalwart leather-clad mined to enjoy themselves, for a time, “boy," just returned from trapping on in all the gaiety and dissipation of the the waters of Grand River, on the western city. In one of the back western side the mountains, who instreets of the town is a tavern well terlards his mountain jargon with known as the “ Rocky Mountain Spanish words picked up in Taos House," and here the trappers resort,
corner a drinking and fighting as long as their trapper, lean and gaunt from the starvmoney lasts, which, as they are gene- ing regions of the Yellow Stone, has rous and lavish as Jack Tars, is for just recognised an old companyero, a few days only. Such scenes as are
with whom he hunted years before in enacted in the Rocky Mountain House, the perilous country of the Blackfeet. both tragical and comical, are be
“Why, John, old hos, how do you yond the powers of pen to describe ; come on?" and when a fandango is in progress,
" What! Meek, old 'coon! I thought to which congregrate the coquettish you were under ?" belles from “ Vide Poche," as the
One from Arkansa stalks into the French portion of a suburb is nick- centre of the room, with a pack of named, -the grotesque endeavours of cards in his hand, and a handful of the bear-like mountaineers to sport a
dollars in his hat. Squatting crossfigure on the light fantastic toe, and legged on a buffalo robe, he smacks their insertions into the dance of the down the money, and cries outmystic jumps of Terpsichorean Indians “Ho, boys, hyar's a deck, and hyar's when engaged in the “ medicine" the beaver, (rattling the coin,) who dances in honour of bear, of buffalo, dar set his hos ? Wagh!” or ravished scalp,—are such startling
Tough are the yarns of wondrous innovations on the choreographic art hunts and Indian perils, of hairbreadth as would cause the shade of Gallini to 'scapes and curious "fixes.” Transcenquake and gibber in his pumps.
dant are the qualities of sundry rifles, Passing the open doors and win which call these hunters masters ; dows of the Mountain House, the
“plum" is the "centre" each vaunted stranger stops short as the sounds of barrel shoots ; sufficing for a hundred violin and banjo twang upon his ears, wigs is the hair” each hunter has accompanied by extraordinary noises “lifted" from Indians' scalps ; multitu—which sound unearthly to the green
dinous the “ coups" he has " struck." horn listener, but which the initiated As they drink so do they brag, first of recognise as an Indian song roared their guns, their horses, and their out of the stentorian lungs of a moun
squaws, and lastly of themselves :-and taineer, who, patting his stomach with when it comes to that, “ware steel.” open hands, to improve the necessary
La Bonté, on his arrival at St shake, choruses the well-known Indian Louis, found himself one day in no chant:
less a place than this; and here he
made acquaintance with an old trapHi-Hi-Hi-Hi, Hi-i-Hi-i-Hi-i-Hi-i
per about to start for the mountains Hi-ya-hi-ya-hi-ya-hi-ya
in a few days, to hunt on the head Hi-ya-hi-ya-hi-ya-hi-ya
waters of Platte and Green River. Hi-ya-hi-ya-hi-hi,
With this man he resolved to start, &c. &c. &c.
and, having still some hundred dollars
in cash, he immediately set about and polishing off the high notes with equipping himself for the expedition. a whoop which makes the old wooden To effect this, he first of all visited the
gun-store of Hawken, whose rifles are and animals, to gratify his "dry," (for renowned in the mountains, and ex- your mountaineer is never thirsty;") changed his own piece, which was of and then," hos and beaver” gone, is very small bore, for a regular moun- necessitated to hire himself to one of tain rifle. This was of very heavy the leaders of big bands, and hypothemetal, carrying about thirty-two balls cate his services for an equipment of to the pound, stocked to the muzzle traps and animals. Thus La Bonté and mounted with brass, its only orna- picked up three excellent mules for a ment being a buffalo bull, looking ex- mere song, with their accompanying ceedingly ferocious, which was not pack saddles, apishamores,* and larivery artistically engraved upon the ats, and the next day, with Luke, trap in the stock. Here, too, he laid in put out" for Platte. a few pounds of powder and lead, and As they passed through the rendezall the necessaries for a long hunt. vous, which was encamped on a little
His next visit was to a smith's store, stream beyond the town, even our which smith was black by trade and young Mississippian was struck with black by nature, for he was a nigger, the novelty of the scene. Upwards and, moreover, celebrated as being the of forty huge waggons, of Connestoga best maker of beaver-traps in St and Pittsburg build, and covered with Louis, and of whom he purchased six snow-white tilts, were ranged in a new traps, paying for the same twenty semicircle, or rather a horse-shoe dollars-procuring, at the same time, form, on the flat open prairie, their an old trap-sack, made of stout buf- long “ tongues" (poles) pointing outfalo skin, in which to carry them. wards; with the necessary harness for
We next find La Bonté and his four pairs of mules, or eight yoke of companion-one Luke, better known oxen, lying on the ground beside as Grey-Eye, one of his eyes having them, spread in ready order for “hitchbeen “gouged” in a mountain fray-at ing up." Round the waggons groups Independence, a little town situated of teamsters, tall stalwart young Mison the Missouri, several hundred miles sourians, were engaged in busy preabove St Louis, and within a short paration for the start, greasing the distance of the Indian frontier. wheels, fitting or repairing harness,
Independence may be termed the smoothing ox-bows, or overhauling ** prairie port” of the western country. their own moderate kits or “posHere the caravans destined for Santa sibles." They were all dressed in the Fé and the interior of Mexico, assemble same fashion: a pair of "homespun" to complete their necessary equip- pantaloons, tucked into thick boots ment. Mules and oxen are purchased, reaching nearly to the knee, and conteamsters hired, and all stores and fined round the waist by a broad outfit laid in here for the long journey leathern belt, which supported a strong over the wide expanse of prairie butcher knife in a sheath. A coarse ocean. Here, too, the Indian traders checked shirt was their only other and the Rocky Mountain trappers covering, with a fur cap on the head. rendezvous, collecting in sufficient Numerous camp-fires surrounded force to ensure their safe passage the waggons, and by them lounged through the Indian country. “At the wild-looking mountaineers, easily disseasons of departure and arrival of tinguished from the “greenhorn' these bands, the little town presents teamsters by their dresses of buckskin, a lively scene of bustle and confusion. and their weather-beaten faces. WithThe wild and dissipated mountaineers out an exception, these were under get rid of their last dollars in furious the influence of the rosy god; and one, orgies, treating all comers to galore who sat, the picture of misery, at a of drink, and pledging each other, in fire by himself-staring into the blaze horns of potent whisky, to success- with vacant countenance, his long fal hunts and 6 heaps of beaver.” matted hair hanging in unkempt When every cent has disappeared masses over his face; begrimed with from their pouches, the free trapper the dirt of a week, and pallid with the often makes away with rifle, traps, effects of ardent drink-was suffering from the usual consequences of having of the Grand Plains, here well wooded “kept it up” beyond the usual point, uplands clothed with forest trees of and now was paying the penalty in a every species, and picturesque dells fit of “horrors”-as delirium tremens through which run clear and bubbling is most aptly termed by sailors and streams belted with gay-blossomed the unprofessional.
* Saddle-blanket made of buffalo-calf skin.
shrubs, every where present themIn another part, the merchants of selves; whilst on the level meadowthe caravan and Indian traders were land, topes of trees with spreading superintending the lading of the wag- foliage afforded a shelter to the game gons, or mule packs. These were and cattle, and well-timbered knolls dressed in civilised attire, and some rise at intervals from the plain. bedizened in St Louis or Eastern Many clear streams dashing over City dandyism, to the infinite disgust their pebbly beds intersect the counof the mountain men, who look upon try, from which, in the noonday's a bourge-way (bourgeois) with most heat, the red-deer jump, shaking their undisguised contempt, despising the wet sides, as the noise of approachvery simplest forms of civilisation. ing man disturbs them; and booming The picturesque appearance of the grouse rise from the tall luxuriant encampment was not a little heighten- herbage at every step. Where the ed by the addition of several Indians deep escarpments of the river banks from the neighbouring Shawnee settle- exhibit the section of the earth, a ment, who, mounted on their small rich alluvial soil of surprising depth active horses, on which they reclined, appears to court the cultivation of rather than sat, in negligent attitudes, civilised man; and in every feature quietly looked on at the novel scene, it is evident that here nature has indifferent to the "chaff” which the worked with kindliest and most bounthoughtless teamsters indulged in at tiful hand. their expense.
Numbers of mules For hundreds of miles along the and horses were picketed at hand, western or right bank of the Missouri while a large herd of noble oxen were does such a country as this extend, being driven towards the camp—the to which, for fertility and natural rewo-ha of the teamsters sounding far sources, no part of Europe can offer even and near, as they collected the scat- feeble comparison. Sufficiently large tered beasts in order to yoke up. to contain an enormous population, it
As most of the mountain men were has, besides, every advantage of posiutterly unable to move from camp, tion, and all the natural capabilities. Luke and La Bonté, with three or which should make it the happy four of the most sober, started in abode of civilised man. Through this company, intending to wait on “Blue," unpeopled country the United States a stream which runs into the Caw or pours her greedy thousands, to seize Kanzas River, until the “ balance” of upon the barren territories of her the band came up. Mounting their feeble neighbour. mules, and leading the loose animals, Camping the first night on “ Black they struck at once into the park-like Jack," our mountaineers here cut each prairie, and were out of sight of civi- man a spare hickory wiping-stick for lisation in an instant.
his rifle, and La Bonté, who was the It was the latter end of May, to- only greenhorn of the party, witwards the close of the season of nessed a savage ebullition of rage on heavy rains, which in early spring the part of one of his companions, render the climate of this country exhibiting the perfect unrestraint almost intolerable, at the same time which these men impose upon their that they serve to fertilise and thaw passions, and the barbarous anger the soil, so long bound up by the which the slightest opposition to the winter's frosts. The grass was every will excites. One of the trappers, on where luxuriously green, and gandy arriving at the camping-place, disflowers dotted the surface of the mounted from his horse, and, after prairie. This term, however, should divesting it of the saddle, endeavoured hardly be applied to the beautiful to lead his mule by the rope up to undulating scenery of this park-like spot where he wished to deposit his country. Unlike the flat monotony pack. Mule-like, however, the more