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The Young Alaskans on the Missouri
by Emerson Hough
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"If we went on, an hour or so, we would come to the mouth of the Madison Canyon. Up toward the head of that is the big power dam—ninety feet high it is—which cuts off the big Madison, and the South Fork, too. That makes a lake that runs over back into the country. They say it is seventy miles or so around the shore line, I don't know just how far. That place is full of big fish, and when you catch it just right, there is great sport there. I don't call it sport to fish for trout under that big dam. They jump and jump there, day after day, until they wear themselves out. There ought to be a ladder in that dam, but there isn't."

"I suppose here is where the road comes down from Three Forks, over this Raynold's Pass," said John, with pencil in hand, ready to continue his own personal map of the country.

"No, not exactly," continued the young ranchman. "This road runs up to Virginia City. They tell me that between there and Three Forks the roads are hard to get over."

"But they come down here from Butte, don't they?" inquired Rob. "I thought this was right on the Butte road."

"No, the best road to Butte comes in over Red Rock Pass just exactly where you came in yourselves. Only it runs along to the north side of the Centennial Valley and not on the south side, where you came in. They have to follow up the Red Rock Valley to Dillon, where it comes in from the north. That's the quickest and easiest way to get between Butte and Henry's Lake. It is something over a hundred miles."

"Well, anyway," argued John, "this is the way Billy Williams will have his car come in from Bozeman."

"No," smiled the young man, "you are wrong again on that. The Bozeman road cannot come down the Gallatin, and through to here, south of the Three Forks. When we come over to the edge of Yellowstone Park I will show you how the road runs to Bozeman. It angles in north, to the east of the South Fork of the Madison. Then it crosses the main river and swings off to the northeast, and then north up to Bozeman, in the valley of the Gallatin River."

"Well," said Rob, turning to his younger associates, "that seems to give us a pretty good look in at this whole proposition of the Missouri River. We have been on the head of the Jefferson Fork; we are going fishing on the South Fork of the Madison and motor to the head of the North Fork, inside of Yellowstone Park, if we wanted to; and then we are going on up to the Gallatin and maybe east on that to its head in the Bozeman Pass. In that way we would be covering all three of the great tributaries."

"Yes, and be having some pretty good sport besides," said the young ranchman. "I will promise you, if you don't like this lake fishing—I don't much care for it myself—we will make up a party and go over and camp out on the South Fork of the Madison as soon as your car comes in from Bozeman. I will take my car over, too, and we'll pick up a young chap about your age, Mr. Rob, at one of the ranches below. His name is Chester Ellicott, and he's descended from the Andrew Ellicott of Pennsylvania, who taught astronomy to Meriwether Lewis.

"Then we can spend a couple of days or so over there on what I think is the finest fishing river in the world. You will still be right on your road to Bozeman and the Gallatin, because you will then be only about six or eight miles from the town of Yellowstone, and near where the Bozeman road comes in."

"That certainly does sound mighty good to me," said Jesse. "I haven't caught a fish now for a couple of days, except those we caught at the lake this afternoon. There were so many of them, it was too easy."

"Well," said their new companion, "you won't find catching grayling on the South Fork quite so easy as all that. I always liked stream fishing myself better than lake fishing."

"Do we wade over there, in that stream?" asked Rob. "We haven't got our waders along, ourselves, not even rubber boots."

"We'll fix you up somehow at the place," responded the other. "My friends in here have all got waders. You could fish from the banks, but it is better to have waders, so you can cross once in a while. There are holes in there ten or fifteen feet deep, and I will show you two or three hundred grayling and white fish on the bottom of some of those holes. The water is clear as air, and just about as cold as ice. You couldn't have come at a better time for fishing, because the grasshoppers are on now and even the whitefish are feeding on the surface."

"I wish Billy's man would hurry up with the car," complained Jesse. "He said to be down here in about a week. We might have to wait an extra day."

"Well, out here," smiled his new-found friend, "we don't mind waiting a day or so, but I suppose you folks from back in the East get in more of a hurry. Anyhow, we will promise you a good time."

They now returned to the ranch house at the head of Henry's Lake, without going on to the Madison River below the mouth of the canyon, where the young rancher thought the fishing would not be so much worth while. To their great surprise, they found yet another car waiting for them at the camp—none less than Billy Williams's car, with all their camp outfit. This had been brought down from Bozeman by Con O'Brien, one of Billy's neighbors in the Gallatin, as they learned when they had had time to make inquiries.

"Well, that's what I call fast work!" said John, after they had shaken hands all round. "Here's our bed rolls and everything, all waiting for us! Yet we have been two hundred miles from them on one side of the circle, and they've been around two or three hundred miles on the other side."

"Well, the pack train came in from Dillon early yesterday morning," said Con, "and I already had Billy's message. So I just unpacked old Sleepy and Nigger, threw the stuff in the car, and hit the trail south."

"But how did you get here so soon?" demanded Rob. "It must be a good deal over a hundred miles."

"You don't know our mountain roads in this country," smiled Con. "Besides, it is only about ninety miles from Bozeman, the way we figure it. Anyhow, here we are and ready for any sort of frolic you want to name. If I had started a little earlier, I would have been in here last night. But I was fixing up a tire at Yellowstone, so I just thought I would sleep there last night and come out in the morning early."

"What shall we do, young gentlemen," asked Uncle Dick. "The day is still young."

"Well," said Rob, "I am for heading right back to the South Fork of the Madison and going into camp there for the rest of the trip—that is, until we have to start up to Billy's ranch."

They all agreed to this, and accordingly after they had finished their luncheon, they said good-by to the obliging ranchman, whose son, as he had promised, now accompanied them in his own car. In the course of an hour they had picked up the latter's friend from his ranch at the foot of the Lake and soon were speeding rapidly eastward over the Targhee Pass—once more leaving Idaho and going into the state of Montana; a proposition which they now from their maps could easily understand. They traced out carefully the great southward swing of the Continental Divide which comes through the Yellowstone Park, bends around over to the south, thence swings north and west, making the great mountain pocket which holds all the headwaters of the Missouri River.

Both cars halted at the summit of a hill before they swung down into the valley of the South Fork. The view which lay before them was one of extreme beauty. The sky was very clear and blue, with countless clean white clouds. Over to the left rose great ragged mountain peaks, on some of which snow still was to be seen. On ahead stretched the road leading into Yellowstone Park. On the further side of the valley, where the winding willow growth showed the course of the stream, rose a black forest ridge stretching indefinitely eastward toward the waters of the main Madison.

Not even Uncle Dick, experienced traveler that he was, could suppress an exclamation of surprise at the beauty of the scene.

"I never get tired of it. Do you, Chet?" said young Bowers to his ranch friend. The latter only smiled.

"It used to be a great beaver country, of course," went on the former. "All through here the elk come down even yet, though not so many as there used to be. The big fall migration that came down the Madison and Grayling Creek used to come out the northwest corner of the Park more than it does now. I have seen lots of grouse all through here, and if you could wait until the season opened we would have some fun, for I have a fine old dog. But since game is getting scarcer now, maybe we had better just content ourselves with the fishing. I promise you good sport—if you know how to cast a fly."

"And I'll promise you they do," said Uncle Dick, smiling.

The two young local anglers looked at them politely, but said nothing.



CHAPTER XXXI

AMONG THE GRAYLING

Turning at a point upon the further side of the valley, where the road forked off for the Yellowstone Park, the two cars passed on to the northward, through two or three gates of wire fences inclosing a ranch that lay in the valley. They found the ranchman himself at home, and most courteous and obliging. He insisted they should camp near his house and stay as long as they liked, where they could get chickens, butter, and eggs without any inconvenience.

"I post my land," said he, "to keep off the general public, who soon would ruin all the fishing here as they have almost everywhere else, but I have no desire to keep off decent fishermen like yourselves; and I know the young men who are with you now.

"You are just in time for the evening rise. I was over and picked out a couple for breakfast just now. If I were in your place I would go straight across and then work up the stream a little way, to some big holes you will see, then you can fish on down about as far as you like. By being careful at the crossings, some of you can keep to the stream pretty much all the time, but you can fish from the bank if you are patient. Toward dusk there will be fish enough rising from almost any one hole to give you all the fishing you will like.

"I think you will find a very small gray hackle will be good. Sometimes they take the Professor. Just the other day a man came down here with a little Silver Doctor fly, and they couldn't keep away from it. Sometimes they take Queen of the Waters—dressed long, like a grasshopper—in the bright time of the day. If they take little flies in the evening, then you use little flies, too. There are certainly plenty of the grayling there."

On any stream but this the number of rods now present would have spoiled the sport for some one, but so extensive was the good fishing water that there was room enough for all six of those who intended to fish—Billy said he would go along and carry the basket for Jesse, and Con O'Brien laughed at the idea of fishing, as he had already had so much that summer; so he went with Uncle Dick. They broke into three parties, one each of the men going along with one of the young anglers, although Chet and his friend were so used to the stream that they needed no advice. These two for a time did not fish at all, but showed the newcomers how and where the sport would be found.

The prediction of the rancher was more than verified. The day had been warm, and now, as the cool of the evening came, the grayling began to rise. At the heads of the bluffs where the current swept in they could be seen breaking almost continually, taking in some small floating insects. Inside of a few minutes each of the anglers was fast to a fine fish; and after that one strike after another followed fast and furious.

"You will have to be careful, son," said Billy Williams to Jesse, who had raised three fine grayling and lost them all. "The mouth of a grayling is very tender. You can't fight him as hard as you can a trout. Let him run. When he gets that big black fin up crossways of the stream he pulls like a ton. After a while he will begin to go deep; then you want to lift him gently all the time, until in a few minutes you can get the net under him. I would rather fish grayling than trout, although some think trout fishing is more fun.

"Now look at that fellow jumping over there under the bushes. He's rising right in the same place. You walk around there at that little sand bar, and float your fly right over him and see what happens."

Jesse did as instructed, Billy following a little distance behind him. Whipping his fly backward and forward a few times to dry it well, Jesse, who was really a good fisherman for his years, managed to land the fly just short of the bushes, so that it floated down directly over the rising fish.

There came a sudden splash and an excited shout from Jesse. "I've got him!" exclaimed he.

"Maybe so," said Billy. "You had them other three, too, but you didn't get them in the basket. Now you go easy, young man, and put this one where I can get my hands on him."

Thus warned, Jesse played the fish gently and carefully, allowing it to run down into the deep water, but keeping his rod tip up all the time and giving line when the fish surged too hard with the current. After several minutes of careful work Billy waded in knee deep and slipped the landing net under the fish—a beautiful specimen, of a pound and a half, clean, fat, and very beautiful with its great spotted fin.

"There you are, son," said he. "That's your first grayling, isn't it?"

"It's my first one of this sort," said Jesse, bending over the fish. "You know, I didn't catch either of those over on the Red Rock. Of course, I have caught them up North on the Bell River, on the Arctic Circle, but they are a deep-blue color up there and this fish is white, or, anyhow, gray. He is just the same shape as far as I can see."

"Well, get back at your work now," said Billy. "This is the only grayling stream left in the West. You are on it at the right time of the year and the right time of the day. Ten years from now may be too late. So catch a few—but not too many."

"You needn't fear," said Jesse. "If either of us boys brought in more than half a dozen, Uncle Dick would give us a good calling down."

"Well, that's right enough, too," said Billy. "The state limit is twenty pounds a day, but that's too high. If everybody got twenty pounds they would soon all be gone. Yet on the spawning run above, on the stream up here, I have seen fellows stand on the bank and snake out strings of them as long as a long willow would hold. I have known one man to say he had caught ninety grayling out of one hole. Well, that's where they go."

They wandered along slowly in the late afternoon, passing around one willow plant to the next, usually fishing at some place where the grassy meadow ran clean to the bank of the stream. They did not lack in sport, and before long Jesse had a half dozen fine fish in his basket; then, sighing, he said regretfully he thought he ought not to fish any longer.

"I will not urge you to," said Billy Williams. "'Most anybody else would. But if you have got enough, let's go back to camp. We have got to feed ourselves, of course, and give plenty to the ranchman if he will take them; he may have friends to whom he would like to send a mess."

At dusk that evening they all gathered around their little camp fire, which they had built not very far from the hospitable ranchman's house, in acceptance of his kind invitation. Soon Billy and Con had grayling frying, with enough and to spare for all, since Rob had taken a half dozen fish, Uncle Dick as many, and John had come in with seven—one of them rather small, as he explained it. The two young ranchmen had baskets equally heavy, for, as they explained, they had neighbors who did not like to eat the Henry's Lake trout, but preferred grayling, so they thought it wise to take some home with them.

"Well I did go a little light on the fishing, fellows," said Uncle Dick, "because I want you to stay here one more day before we start out for Bozeman. That means two nights in camp, which will bring us into Bozeman just past the middle of the month, with our summer's job pretty well whipped."

"Which way are we going from Billy's, Uncle Dick?" demanded Jesse, with his usual curiosity.

"Not yet decided," replied the other. "Wait until we get up there. We still have a little work to do in studying out the return trip of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in the summer of 1806."

That night they had what John called a map party on the table in the friendly ranchman's home. He and the two young Westerners joined them all in examining the maps and the great river from St. Louis.

"That's something of a journey, I should say!" commented the ranchman. "I'll warrant you have learned a good many things you did not know before. Some things in here I didn't know before, myself."

"It's much pleasanter," said Rob, "to follow out a country on the ground than it is to do it on the map. Not all maps are correct—except John's, here! But no matter how good a map is, it never means anything to you until you have followed it out on the ground. Just look here, for instance, at the great crooked sweep of the Continental Divide. Yet here we have crossed three passes over the Continental Divide within the last three days—Red Rock, Raynolds, and Targhee—and the Targhee divides the Madison, which is Atlantic water, from Henry's Lake, which is Pacific water."

"Yes," nodded Uncle Dick. "There are not many more interesting countries, geographically speaking, than this right where we are, at the head of the great river. Lewis and Clark crossed the Rocky Mountain Divide seven times, at six different places—up North there. They crossed the Lemhi Pass, both of them. Then they crossed the Divide twice more into the Bitter Roots, then crossed it again on the Lolo Trail. Then they came back over that when they went East, and Lewis crossed the pass over to the north, alone, and that ought to be called his pass. And Clark came down to the Gallatin and crossed that pass alone to the Yellowstone waters. Yet their names are on almost none of the great passes and great rivers which they found. Soon they will have passed."

One more day of beautiful sport on the crystal stream that ran through the beautiful valley, and the pleasant party of new-made friends met around the camp fire for the last time.

"I have got to get back for my haying," said Chet, who had proved himself a fine angler as well as a good companion.

"The same for me," added the young rancher from the head of the lake. So it was agreed that on the next morning they should separate.



CHAPTER XXXII

AT BILLY'S RANCH

The blue smoke of their last camp fire on the South Fork rose almost straight in the still air of a clear summer day as their party sat around their last breakfast. Although not actually at the end of their journey, they felt that now they were heading away from these interesting scenes, so that a sort of sadness fell upon them.

"Cheer up, fellows!" said Billy Williams. "You are not out of scenery, nor out of sport yet, by any means, if you want to stop for sport. Besides, there is one other thing we haven't finished yet," he added turning to Uncle Dick.

"Feel in your right-hand waistcoat pocket, Jesse," said the latter.

Jesse did so with a smile and produced the black, glassy-looking arrowhead which he had found at the Beaverhead Rock over to the northward, many days before.

"We are a few miles west of the Yellowstone Park here," said Uncle Dick. "We will have quite a party in our car with all the luggage, but they are used to seeing cars in the Park with bundles tied all over the running boards. Now I move you that we go over to Yellowstone and go into the Park as far as the forks of the Gibbon and the Madison, and leave our stuff there for our camp, with Con to take charge of it and make camp. Then we can go on up the Gibbon and on to the Beaver Meadows, where the great black cliff is that is known through all this country as the Obsidian Cliff. I shall show you there, Jesse, the whole face of a mountain of this same black glass, as you call it. And that mountain, as sure as you live, was known by all the Indians for hundreds of miles around here. It was just like the great Red Pipestone quarries of Minnesota.

"Now you begin to see something about exploring and getting across country. You found that arrowhead on the hunting ground of the Shoshonis and the Bannacks. Those people hunted clear down across the lower end of what is now Montana, down the Red Rock River, the way we came by rail; and over the Raynolds Pass, where you boys were; and over the Targhee Pass, and up the Madison and the Gibbon, to this place where they get the heads for their arrows.

"How did they know? Who found it first? Nobody can answer those questions. But one great truth about white explorations on this Continent you must know—there was not one great pass, not one great river, not one great natural scenic feature, which was not known to one or more Indian tribes centuries before the white men came. So after all, we as explorers are not so much. Fremont was not much of an explorer, much as you reverence him. Even Lewis and Clark had been preceded in all this country by the Indian girl and her people. And those people had been every place that we have been—and even as far as Yellowstone Park and into its interior as far as the Obsidian Cliff. There is no doubt or question about that, although it is quite true that obsidian was found in other volcanic regions of different parts of the West.

"Jesse, your arrowhead has been a long way from home! Are you going to take it back? Has it served its purpose in teaching you something about your own country?"

Jesse sat silent for a time, then, "Uncle Dick," said he, at last, "I am going to take my arrowhead back. When we get to that rock you tell about, I am going to put it down right at the foot, just the way it is, with other pieces like those the Indians took away."

"Good!" said Uncle Dick. "The little sentiment won't hurt you, anyhow. I suppose your arrowhead will remain there undiscovered for a thousand years. The tourists who come there now in their touring cars look at that black-faced rock about half a second and whiz by. They want to make the next lunch station."

"That's no lie," said Billy Williams. "Folks nowadays don't know how to travel."

They concluded their packing arrangements, rolling their bed rolls tight and storing them along the hood of the car and on the running boards, where Con had fixed up a little rack to carry the extra baggage. Saying good-by to their hospitable friends, the two parties now separated.

Without incident the journey of that day was completed as outlined by their leader, and that night they spread their tent in a public camping ground on the banks of the Madison River, in sight of twenty other tents besides their own.

"Nothing much here of interest," said Uncle Dick, "except yonder mountains. The Madison here is a beautiful stream, but fished to death. That mountain is not much changed."

"What about it?" said Rob, curiously.

"That's National Park Mountain. We are camping now precisely where the Hayden, Doane, and Langford exploring party camped when they were going out in 1871 after finishing the first exploration of Yellowstone Park. It was right here, at this camping place, that Cornelius Hedges, one of their number, proposed the establishment of the Yellowstone Park, so that all of this wonderland should be preserved forever."

"Well," said Rob, drawing a long breath, "we are getting into some history now around here!"

But they talked no more history at the time, for by now all were weary with the journey. As early as the next their camp fire was alight the following morning. Billy took Jesse up to Gibbon and across to the Obsidian Cliff, where he carried out his intention, and hid his obsidian arrowhead at the foot of the great rock. "There!" said he, "I'll bet, if anybody finds it, he'll wonder who made it!"

Soon they were on their way back to Yellowstone Station on the Bozeman road. Following it out, under Con O'Brien's steady driving, and asking a hundred questions of Billy en route, they finally swept down late in the evening into the beautiful valley of the Gallatin. Winding among the farms, they pulled up at last at Billy Williams's comfortable ranch house and soon were made at home.

"Here we are, fellows, east of the Three Forks of the Missouri," said Uncle Dick, when they had gotten out their maps for that evening's study. "At first, neither Lewis nor Clark followed the Gallatin at all. As we know, Clark went but a short distance up the Madison. But when the explorers were going east, as we saw before, Clark came down to the Shoshoni Cove, at the junction where we made our last camp, over west. When he struck in here, on the Gallatin, Clark had with him the Indian girl, Sacagawea. Besides the Indian woman and her child, he had eleven men and fifty horses. Ordway, as we have seen, had taken nine men and started downstream with the boats. No one knew this country except the Indian girl.

"Yes, and she must have been across here before, too," said Billy. "There are three passes at the head of the East Gallatin—the Bozeman and the Bridger and the Flathead. The Indian girl told them to take the one farthest south, which is Bozeman Pass.

"The books say that on July 13th Clark camped just where the town of Logan is, in the Gallatin Valley. They say he followed southeast from there and crossed Bozeman Creek near this town. The Indian girl knew there was a buffalo road there, and they stuck to that. Good authorities think that they camped, July 14th, near where old Fort Ellis afterward was located. That's across the East Gallatin. There is an easy pass there, and there is no doubt at all that the Indian girl led Clark through that easiest pass, which the Indians would be sure to find when going between their hunting ranges.

"Of course, old man Bozeman did not come in here until the mining strikes, 1863 or 1864. He was a freighter and knew this country, although he didn't know it well enough to keep from getting killed by the Indians.

"Up the Gallatin, too," went on Billy, "is where they say John Colter ran after he got away from the Blackfeet. He didn't have any clothes on to speak of even then—he sure traveled light. But, anyhow, he lived to discover Yellowstone Park, or part of it, and to tell a lot of stories which everybody said were lies."

"Can we see much of the trail, if we go over with the pack train?" asked Rob.

"Not so very much," said Billy. "Even the old road is wiped out, now that the railroad has come. In some places you can find where the trail once ran, or is supposed to have run, but you have to go by the general landmarks now.

"When you come to the central ridge beyond old Ellis, you get the last summit between here and Yellowstone waters. The tunnel runs under that now. The railroad books say that is fifty-five hundred and sixty-five feet—the highest of the three northern transcontinental passes.

"So you can figure now, I reckon," he concluded, "that you are mighty near at the head of the Gallatin, a day's march from here. And if you want to, you can take the railroad in town, all the way down the Yellowstone and clean on home to Chicago or St. Louis, without getting off the cars."

"Well, since we are so near the end of the trail, young gentlemen," began Uncle Dick, at this point, "what do you say we ought to do?"

"Well, the first thing we ought to do," said John, "before we go home, is not to leave all those people out in the wilderness. We have got Clark and eleven people here on the Gallatin, and Captain Lewis is away up on the Marias, and Gass and Ordway are scattered every which way between here and the Great Falls."

"All right, all right!" rejoined Uncle Dick. "Get out your Journal now, and we will see what became of Captain Lewis. We won't follow him day by day, and we will just take up his trail somewhere near Missoula.

"See here, now. He must have crossed what is called Clark's Fork—all of that river, part of which is called Hell Gate River, ought to be called after Clark. He went up the Hell Gate River, without any guides, but he must have struck an Indian trail which led him over east. On the fourth day, that is on July 7th, he reached the pass which is called even now Lewis and Clark's Pass—the only pass named after either of those explorers, although only one of them ever saw it.

"Now, you see, they were opposite the headwaters of the Dearborn River—the same stream where Clark left the boats and went up the river on foot when they were going west the preceding year. They knew where they were when they got here, and felt pretty fairly safe.

"But Lewis wanted to see about that country north of the Great Falls. They were now among the buffalo once more and glad enough to find them. They hunted down the Sun River to their old camp above the Great Falls. Here they made a couple of bull boats, and on July 12th they crossed to the old camp and found the cache which they had made there. A good many of the things were spoiled in the cache, which they had built too low, so that the high water had flooded it.

"Now they reached their old friends, the white bears, which were just as ferocious as ever. So were the mosquitoes. Lewis dreads these mosquitoes more than anything else.

"Now the Journal says that Lewis determined to go up the Marias River. He left McNeal, Thompson and Goodrich, Gass, Frazier and Werner, here at the Falls. He took with him six horses and had along Drewyer and the two Fields boys—about his best hunters. They left Sergeant Gass four horses, so that he could get the boats around the portage as soon as Ordway and the boats came down the Missouri.

"Now I want you to stop and think how these people were making connections, scattered all through this country as they were. On July 19th, here came Ordway and his nine men with the canoes! Then they doubled party again, to portage, and in four days, with the aid of the horses, they got the stuff all below the Falls. Gass and one man swam the horses across the river; Ordway and the others took the canoes. They all reached the mouth of the Marias River July 28th. By that time, of course, Clark was over on the Yellowstone, having crossed the Gallatin Pass from here.

"Now Lewis was on the north side of the river with three men. He knew he was going up into the Blackfeet country, and he must have known something of the reputation of that tribe. But those men would go almost anywhere. Now they were among the buffalo, so they felt safe for food.

"They left the river July 16th, and on July 21st they got into country which you and I can identify—the mouth of Two Medicine Creek, where it meets the Cutbank, both of which rise in Glacier Park. I've had fine fishing up in there.

"Now they pushed on up north up the Cutbank, forded where the Great Northern Railroad is now, and went on five miles beyond that. You see, they were now clear up almost to the northern line of Montana; whereas you and I have seen them almost to the southern line of Montana. And look at all the waterways they had covered!

"This was Lewis's farthest north. Drewyer found out that there were Indians in that country. Perhaps that accounted for the scarcity of game they now felt. They concluded to turn back down the river, and on July 26th—which is the day Gass and Ordway finished their portage at the Great Falls—they headed southeast for the mouth of the Marias, trusting to Providence they would meet their men there and that they would eventually meet Clark at the mouth of the Yellowstone.

"Now when you come to make all these things tally out on the ground, it is quite a proposition, isn't it?"

The boys all looked at him with open eyes, as they followed out on the map the widely separated journeys of the two great chiefs.

"Very well," resumed Uncle Dick, "they got down a mile below Badger Creek, on the Two Medicine River. Now they had the one and only dangerous encounter with the Indians which any of them met throughout the whole two years' trip. It was at that time hostility of the Blackfeet against the whites began. They ran into a bunch of Indians. There were eight of them, who turned out to be the Minnetarees of the North, whom they knew to be one of the most dangerous bands of all that neighborhood.

"It seemed best to make friends, so they camped with the Indians that night and slept in their tents. Toward morning the Indians made their break—seized the guns of all four of the men and started out to steal the horses.

"J. Fields and his brother started out after one Indian with the rifles. The fellow hung on to them, and R. Fields stabbed the Indian, killing him on the spot. This uproar woke up Drewyer and Lewis, who were in the tepee. Drewyer and Lewis got possession of their rifles. Lewis called to the Indians to stop running off his horses. These savages showed fight, and Lewis shot one of them through the body, which accounted for two of the savages in a few moments.

"In a very little time longer the four white men had all their camp outfit and four horses belonging to the Indians, although they had lost one of their own horses. They had met their first Indian fight, and got out of it rather well.

"Now followed what I suppose was one of the fastest rides ever made on the Western prairies. Lewis and his men mounted and started hot-foot for the mouth of the Marias River. To make the story of it, at least, short, they rode about one hundred and twenty miles in a little over twenty-four hours.

"We have seen that Gass, Ordway, and the other men were coming down from the Falls with the boats. As a matter of fact, they had just rounded the bend, approaching the place where old Fort Benton later was to stand, when Lewis and his men met them. That was what I call good luck, and a whole lot of it! Just look where they had been and what they had been through!

"Well, now, part of our men had got together. Lewis and his companions cut loose their horses on the plains. They all hurried into the canoes and dropped down to the mouth of the Marias. Here they abandoned the rest of their horses. They dug up the cache which they had left here in the previous year. This cache also was pretty badly damaged, but they got some stuff out of it. Indeed, some of the caches were in good condition, although the big red boat they had left was no longer of any use. They stripped her of her iron and set out by canoes, as soon as they could, because by that time they did not know what the Indians would be apt to do to them.

"Now they got down to the mouth of the Milk River on August 4th, and they reached the mouth of the Yellowstone on August 7th. And there what do you suppose they found? Was Clark there ahead of them, or was Lewis to wait for Clark?"

"I know!" said Jesse. "Clark beat them down. He left a letter for them, didn't he?"

"That's just what he did, and this time he didn't leave it on a green stick for a beaver to carry off, either.

"No, just as if he had stepped to a post-office window and asked for a letter, Lewis found this note awaiting him, telling him Clark had been there for several days and would wait for them a few miles down the river, on the right-hand side. They were at this time making ninety miles a day—one hundred miles on the last day of their travels.

"Now it would seem that Clark was taking a good many chances, because all he had done was to write a note which might have been lost, and to scratch a few words in the sand which might have been washed out. But the luck of Lewis held until August 11th. On that day, as you remember, he was accidentally shot through the hips by one of his men while hunting elk, so that when, on August 12th, he finally overtook Captain Clark, Lewis was lying in his boat, crippled. All through the trip Lewis had had many more dangerous situations and narrow escapes than Clark had.

"In this way, traveling many times faster coming east than they had going west, these two young men, and all of their widely scattered parties, met in this singular reunion, at no place in particular, without ever having had any reason in particular for hoping they ever would meet at all!

"But they did hope. And they did meet. And if you put it to me as an engineer, young gentlemen, I shall say that was the most extraordinary instance of going through unknown country on workmanlike basis I ever heard of in all my life! Nor do I think all the world could produce its like."

They sat in wondering silence for a time, marveling at the perfect ability shown by these young army officers in this formerly wild and unknown country. Uncle Dick closed the pages of his Journal, which he had been following through rapidly, and seemed inclined to talk no further.

"You tell it, Billy!" said Jesse, turning to Billy Williams, who had been an attentive listener on the opposite side of the table.

"You mean that I shall bring up the Clark story?"

The boys assented to this.

Billy went on, his finger now on the map in turn.

"Take Clark along in here on the Gallatin, near this ranch, say July 15th, about one month ahead of our date now. He is going east with his party. He has got the Indian girl and some horses and some good men. All right. On July 15th he starts across the Divide, heading for the Yellowstone Valley.

"Naturally, he found that plumb easy. He struck into one of the creeks that run down into the Yellowstone. It was only nine miles down that to the Yellowstone River itself, and they hit that just a mile below where it comes out of the Rockies from up yonder in Yellowstone Park, where we all were only yesterday.

"Clark had the easiest end of it, in some ways. He said he had to go only forty-eight miles from the Three Forks to hit the Yellowstone. If he had poled a canoe up the Gallatin, he would not have had to portage over eighteen miles.

"Those are the distances that Clark estimates, but for once he underestimates, I don't know why. Wheeler points out that from Three Forks to Livingston is fifty-four miles, and Clark came down off the Divide at a place just above Livingston. Anyhow, I'll bet he was glad when he saw the old Yellowstone Valley. He had horses now, you see, and he was hitting the trail hard.

"He went down the north side of the Yellowstone, and by July 17th he was down as far as Big Timber and Boulder River. I suppose they would have kept on downstream on horseback, but one of their men, Gibson, got snagged in a fall from his horse, so somewhere near the mouth of the Stillwater they concluded to make some canoes, so that Gibson could ride by boat.

"Now, on July 21st, along comes a nice party of Crows and steals twenty-four of their horses. They hunt a couple of days for the horses, but can't find them—trust the Crows for that! So the canoes are mighty useful. They built two of them twenty-eight feet long and about two feet in the beam and lashed them together, so they had quite a craft.

"On July 24th, about the time Gass and his men were making the portage at the Great Falls, Clark took to the boats, but he put the rest of the horses in charge of Pryor, Shannon, and Windsor.

"So, you see, they were busted up again, half afloat and half on shore, which is always bad. Pryor had it the hardest. He could hardly keep his horses together. But they joined up somewhere near where Billings is to-day. It was plumb easy getting downstream in the boats, for the Yellowstone is lively water, and plenty of it. They could make fifty, sixty, or seventy miles a day, with no trouble at all; but horses can't go that fast.

"On July 25th they got down to a place called Pompey's Pillar, a big rock that sticks up out of the valley floor. Clark cut his name on this rock, which is not so far from the railway station they call Pompey's Pillar to-day. The first engineers of the railroad that came up the valley of the Yellowstone put a double iron screen over Clark's inscription on this rock, drilled in the corner posts and anchored them, so no one could get at the old signature. A lot of other names are there, but I reckon you could still see the name of William Clark, July 25, 1806. It has been photographed, so there is no mistake.

"Now the Journal says they got at the mouth of the Big Horn River on July 26th. That, you know, is the place where Manuel Lisa made his trading post in 1807. So now we are beginning to lap over a lot of dates and a lot of things.

"Well, the big Custer fight on June 25, 1876, took place not so far from the mouth of the Big Horn River. From the time that Lewis and Clark came through, up to the time of the railroads and the army posts, the Indians had kept getting worse.

"From now on the Clark parties were in the game country, of course. The boats had all the best of it—except for the mosquitoes, of which Clark continually complained. It was the mosquitoes that drove Clark away from the mouth of the Yellowstone, which he reached August 3d.

"He kept going on down the river below the mouth of the Yellowstone, trying to get away from the mosquitoes. When he dodged the mosquitoes he ran into white bears. There was something doing every minute in those days.

"They seemed to have had a trustful way of hoping everything would come out all right, those fellows. Clark did not know where Lewis was, or Ordway, or Gass, or where Pryor and his men were. Well, the Pryor party didn't catch up with Clark until August 8th—and they didn't have a horse to their name!

"You see, three days after they left Clark, near where Billings is, the Indians jumped them once more and stole their last horse. They took a lesson from the Indians and made two bull boats, round ones like the Mandans used. I don't suppose they liked that kind of traveling, but they had to do it. Anyhow, it worked, and hard as it is to believe, they made their way downstream without any serious accident.

"I don't know whether you call all of this good traveling as much as it was good luck, but anyhow they were beginning to pick up their friends. Just look on the map and see how far it is from the mouth of the Big Horn River up across to the mouth of Two Medicine Creek—that's how far Clark and Lewis were apart, and they had been apart for considerable over a month. Lewis might have been killed and no one could have known it had happened, and so might Clark.

"Now they met a couple of white men who were pushing up the river, intending to hunt up the Yellowstone. Colter and his pal go along up the river a little ways, too.

"And now you pick up the Lewis story. Lewis goes down in his boat, crippled. Colter and the other man and the two traders turn back; and pretty soon, on August 12th, they come on Clark's party landed on the shore of the Missouri; fighting mosquitoes!

"Well, it only took them a couple of days from that time to get to the Mandan villages."

"That's where we left our boat, the Adventurer!" exclaimed Jesse. "Now what do you say, boys—hasn't this been one exciting finish?"

"But you haven't told us yet, Uncle Dick, what we are going to do," said Rob.

"I'll tell you what to do now," said Uncle Dick. "Go to bed, all of you. In the morning we will make our plans at the breakfast table."



CHAPTER XXXIII

HOMEWARD BOUND

They met at the breakfast table where Billy, who kept a bachelor home, had busied himself preparing a final good meal for them. They had abundance of nicely browned trout with fresh eggs, milk, and good bread.

The young travelers ate in silence, with the presentiment that this was their last breakfast on the trail. At length Rob turned to the leader of their party with an inquiring look.

"Well, I'll tell you how I feel, after thinking it over," said Uncle Dick. "I know you hate to say good-by to Sleepy and Nigger, not to mention our friend Billy Williams here, who is as good a mountain man as you are apt to find and who surely has been fine to us.

"But now we are right on a wagon road. There is no excitement in taking a pack train for a couple of days from here over to Livingston. There is not much excitement in taking a train at Bozeman and going over to Livingston and stopping off.

"Of course, we can go back to the junction and take a train to Great Falls, if you want to do that. We have left our two outboard motors over there, not knowing what we might want to do going back. Now we could have those motors shipped over to us here, and we could go down to the Yellowstone in a skiff, no doubt. Or we could go up to Great Falls and buy a boat, and run down the Missouri. We'd make mighty good time either way, by river.

"But I somehow feel that we have brought our men out of the expedition and we have in a way worn the edge off our trip. So what I think we had better do is to call this our last morning in camp with Billy here, hoping we may meet him some other time. We can take our train here, straight through to St. Paul, and transfer there for St. Louis—all by rail. That will put us home about August 20th, or, say, a week longer than three months out from the mouth of the Missouri.

"As you know, Lewis and Clark came down the Missouri in jig time. They left the Mandan villages on August 17th. Here Colter had left them and gone back up the Yellowstone with the two white traders, later to become famous as the first discoverer of the Yellowstone. Here they left Chaboneau, and the game little Indian woman, his wife Sacagawea.

"I somehow can't fancy that they ever did enough for that Indian girl. Without her they never would have got across and never would have got back the way they did. She was worth any ten men of the entire party. Well, Lewis and Clark were brief men. Perhaps they did more for her, perhaps they thanked her more, than they have set down in their journals. Knowing them as we ought to, I rather think they did, but they were too shy to say much about it. So there at the Mandans we are obliged to leave some of our party. The others all reached St. Louis about noon on September 23d.

"What they must have left, how they were received is something which we do not need to take up now. At least, they were kept busy by their friends in St. Louis, be sure of that.

"And so closed that story of the two great travelers in whose footsteps we have been traveling this summer, my young friends. They did not claim ever to be heroes. They did their work simply and quietly, with no bluff and no pretense. I don't believe anyone in all the world to-day can realize what those men actually did.

"Perhaps we, who have followed after them, doing in three months as much as we have, can get a little notion of a part of what their journey meant, even skipping as we have. But that they have been sufficiently honored, or that enough of our Americans really understand what they did, I myself never have believed."

Uncle Dick turned away from the table and walked out into the open air, where he was silent for quite a time.

"Give your bed rolls to Billy," said he, at length, to his young friends. "He will take care of those buffalo robes forever. We may need them again, some time, all together. I will telegraph to have the outboard motors sent down to be fitted on our boat, the Adventurer, at Mandan. Of course, we could run down the Missouri a hundred or maybe one hundred and fifty miles a day; but as I said to you, that country is getting old now and the edge of our trip is wearing off. We have been dodging towns and farms long enough. Let's get on the train and go straight home!"

And so now, after most reluctant farewells to Billy Williams and Con O'Brien, the young explorers, light of luggage, and, indeed, not heavy of heart, after all, changed their transportation that very day to the "medicine wagons," as the Indians formerly called railway trains, and soon were speeding eastward out of the Rocky Mountains and across the great Plains and Prairies.

At St. Paul they changed for the train to St. Louis. En route they made no further reference to their own journals, and even John had ceased his interminable work on his handmade maps. The Journal, however—that great record of the Lewis and Clark expedition up the Missouri—remained always easily accessible; and just before the termination of their journey Uncle Dick picked it up once more and called his young friends around him.

"We will soon be in St. Louis now," said he. "Here is where our explorers started out, and here is where they returned. Here is where William Clark did his great work as the first Indian Commissioner. Here is where poor Meriwether Lewis started east, three years after he had finished his great journey, and met his tragic death in the forests of Tennessee. No one will know what that man thought. Perhaps even then he was pondering on the ingratitude of republics.

"But here is one thing which I wish every admirer of Lewis and Clark would read and remember—you can remember it, young friends, if you please. It is what Meriwether Lewis wrote, out there in the mountains near the Continental Divide, when he made up his Journal on the evening of his birthday. Write it down, boys, just as he wrote it, ill spelling and all, so that you may see what he was doing and what he was thinking part of the time at least:

"'To-day I had the raw-hides put in the water in order to cut them in throngs proper for lashing the packages and forming the necessary geer for pack horses, a business which I fortunately had not to learn on this occasion. Drewyer Killed one deer this evening. a beaver was also caught on by one of the party. I had the net arranged and set this evening to catch some trout which we could see in great abundance at the bottom of the river.

"'This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little, indeed, to further the hapiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended. but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought, and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and at least indeavour to promote those two primary objects of human existence, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestoed on me; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself.'

"So there you are, young men," concluded Uncle Dick, rising and reaching for his hat as the train began to near the environs of the busy city. "If you must think of something striking, something worth remembering, out of all the pleasant memories you hold from our little journey this year—you Young Alaskans, now beginning to explore the history of your own wonderful country—set down this picture of Captain Meriwether Lewis, thirty-one years old, with more responsibilities, more of consequences, more future, on his shoulders right then than any other officer of our army ever had, sitting there by his little fire writing in his notebook the same as you, Rob, and you, Jesse, and you, John, have written in yours—and after that, remember what he wrote. Not so very conceited, was he?

"There were two men who were not thinking of politics nor of personal profit in any way. They did not hunt for advancement, they let that hunt them. They were not working for money; they never had much money, either one of them. They were not working for glory; they never had much glory, either of them; they always lacked the recognition they ought to have had, and they are almost forgotten to-day, as they ought not to be. They did their work because it was there to do, out of a sense of duty; they were content with that.

"So now out of all our travels up to this date, I don't know that there is any experience we've had that will bring us a much bigger lesson than this one. Write it in your notebooks—what Meriwether Lewis wrote in his notebook, that day in the mountains. When you are thirty-one, check back in your notebooks and see if you can write what he could.

"Yes, I hope that you may resolve in future to 'redouble your exertions.' I hope you may give a 'portion of the talents which nature and fortune have bestowed on you,' for the sake of mankind—for the sake of your country, young gentlemen, and not wholly for the sake of yourselves."

The train rolled into the great railway station. Wondering onlookers stopped for a moment and turned as they saw three lean, sunbrowned boys stand at attention and give the Scout salute to the older man who turned to them and, smiling, snapped his hand into the regulation salute of the Army.

And so, as Jesse smilingly said, the Company of Volunteers for Northwestern Discovery disbanded for that year.

THE END



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES:

1. Words with one or more letters enclosed in {} indicate that the original word, in the book, had those characters in superscript.

2. No changes have been made in the spelling, punctuation or capitalization in the sections quoted from Meriwether Lewis's Journal.

3. Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters errors; otherwise, every effort has been made to remain faithful to the author's words and intent.

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