Imágenes de página

However, here, as every where domestic cattle, wound their way toelse, they were continually quarrel- wards the Indian frontier, with the ling with their neighbours ; and as intention of rendezvousing at Council their numbers increased, so did their Bluffs on the Upper Missouri. Here audacity. A regular Mormon militia thousands of waggons were congrewas again organised and armed, gated, with their tens of thousands of under the command of experienced men, women, and children, anxiously officers, who had joined the sect; waiting the route from the elders of and now the authority of the state the church, who on their parts scarcely government was openly defied. In knew whither to direct the steps of the consequence, the executive took mea- vast crowd they had set in motion. sures to put down the nuisance, and a At length the indefinite destination regular war commenced, and was car- of Oregon and California was proried on for some time, with no little claimed, and the long train of emibloodshed on both sides; and this armed grants took up the line of march. It movement is known in the United was believed the Indian tribes would States as the Mormon war. The immediately fraternise with the MorMormons, however, who, it seemed, mons, on their approaching their counwere much better skilled in the use of try; but the Pawnees quickly undethe tongue than the rifle, succumbed: ceived them by running off with their the city of Nauvoo was taken, Joe stock on every opportunity. Besides Smith and other ringleading prophets these losses, at every camp, horses, captured; and the former, in an attempt sheep, and oxen strayed away and to escape from his place of confine- were not recovered, and numbers died ment was seized and shot. The from fatigue and want of provender; Mormons declare he had long fore- so that, before they had been many told his own fate, and that when weeks on their journey, nearly all the rifles of the firing party who were their cattle, which they had brought his executioners were levelled at the to stock their new country, were dead prophet's breast, a flash of lightning or missing, and those that were left struck the weapons from their hands, were in most miserable condition. and blinded for a time the eyes of the They had started so late in the sacrilegious soldiers.

season, that the greater part were With the death of Joe Smith the compelled to winter on the Platte, on prestige of the Mormon cause de- Grand Island, and in the vicinity, clined ; but still thousands of pro- where they endured the greatest priselytes joined them annually, and at vations and suffering from cold and last the state took measures to remove hunger. Many who had lost their them altogether, as a body, from the stock lived upon roots and pig-nuts; country.

and scurvy, in a most malignant Once again they fled, as they them- form, and other disorders, carried off selves term it, before the persecutions numbers of the wretched fanatics. of the ungodly! But this time their Amongst them were many substanmigration was far beyond the reach of tial farmers from all parts of the United their enemies, and their intention was States, who had given up their valuable to place between them the impassable farms, sold off all their property, and barrier of the Rocky Mountains, and were dragging their irresponsible and to seek a home and resting place in unfortunate families into the wilderness the remote regions of the Far West -carried away by their blind and fana

This, the most extraordinary migra- tic zeal in this absurd and incredible tion of modern times, commenced in faith. There were also many poor the year 1845 ; but it was not till the wretches from different parts of Engfollowing year that the great body of land, mostly of the farm-labouring the Mormons turned their backs upon class, with wives and families, crawlthe settlements of the United States, ing along with helpless and almost and launched boldly out into the vast idiotic despair, but urged forward by and barren prairies, without any fixed the fanatic leaders of the movement, destination as a goal to their endless who promised them a land flowing journey. For many months, long with milk and honey to reward them strings of Pittsburg and Conostaga for all their hardships and privations. waggons, with herds of horses and Their numbers were soon reduced by want and disease. When too late, with a waggon, which they would they often wished themselves back in bring back loaded with buffalo, deer, the old country, and sighed many a and elk meat, thereby saving the netime for the beer and bacon of former cessity of killing any of their stock days, now preferable to the dry buf- of cattle, of which but few remained. falo meat (but seldom obtainable) of The mountain hunters found this the Far West.

camp a profitable market for their Evil fortune pursued the Mormons, meat and deer-skins, with which the and dogged their steps. The year fol- Mormons were now compelled to lowing, some struggled on towards the clothe themselves, and resorted there promised land, and of these a few for that purpose—to say nothing of reached Oregon and California. Many the attraction of the many really were killed by hostile Indians; many beautiful Missourian girls who sported perished of hunger, cold, and thirst, in their tall graceful figures at the passing the great wilderness; and many frequent fandangoes. Dancing and returned to the States, penniless and preaching go hand in hand in Mormon crestfallen, and heartily cursing the doctrine, and the temple” was moment in which they had listened to generally cleared for a hop two or the counsels of the Mormon prophet. three times during the week, a couple The numbers who reached their des- of fiddles doing the duty of orchestra. tination of Oregon, California, and the A party of mountaineers came in one Great Salt Lake, are computed at day, bringing some buffalo meat and 20,000, of whom the United States dressed deer-skins, and were invited had an unregretted riddance.

to be present at one of these festivals. One party had followed the troops Arrived at the temple, they were of the American government intended rather taken aback by finding themfor the conquest of New Mexico and selves in for a sermon, which one of the Californias. Of these a battalion the elders delivered preparatory to the was formed, and part of it proceeded to " physical exercises." The preacher Upper California ; but the way being was one Brown-called, by reason of impracticable for waggons, some his commanding a company of Mormon seventy families proceeded up the volunteers, " Cap'en Brown," -- & Arkansa, and wintered near the hard-featured, black-coated man of mountains, intending to cross to the five-and-forty, correctly got up in black Platte the ensuing spring, and join continuations and white handkerchief the main body of emigrants on their round his neck, a costume seldom seen way by the south pass of the Rocky at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Mountains.

The Cap'en, rising, cleared his voice, In the wide and well-timbered bot- and thus commenced, first turning to tom of the Arkansa, the Mormons an elder (with whom there was a had erected a street of log shanties, little rivalry in the way of preachin which to pass the inclement winter. ing.) “ Brother Dowdle I" (brother These were built of rough logs of Dowdle blushed and nodded-he was cotton-wood, laid one above the other, a long tallow-faced man, with black the interstices filled with mud, and hair combed over his face,) “ I feel rendered impervious to wind or wet. like holding forth a little this afternoon, At one end of the row of shanties was before we glorify the Lord,---a-in built the "church" or temple-a long the--2-holy dance. As there are a building of huge logs, in which the many strange gentlemen now---prayer-meetings and holdings-forth present, it's about right to tell 'emtook place. The band wintering on å-what our doctrine just is, and so the Arkansa were a far better class I tells 'em right off what the Mormons than the generality of Mormons, and is. They are the chosen of the Lord; comprised many wealthy and respect they are the children of glory, perseable farmers from the western states, cuted by the hand of man : they flies most of whom were accustomed to the here to the wilderness, and, amongst life of woodmen, and were good the Injine and the buffler, they lifts up hunters. Thus they were enabled to their heads, and cries with a loud support their families upon the produce voice, Susannah, and hurray for the of their rifles, frequently sallying out promised land! Do you believe it? I to the nearest point of the mountains know it.

“ They wants to know whar we're The last words being the signal that going. Whar the church goes—thar all should clap the steam on, which we goes. Yes, to hell, and pull the they did con amore, and with comical devil off his throne—that's what we'll seriousness. do. Do you believe it? I know it. A mountaineer, Rube Herring,

" Thar's milk and honey in that whom we have more than once met in land as we're goin' to, and the lost the course of this narrative, became a tribes of Israel is thar, and will jine convert to the Mormon creed, and

s. They say as we'll starve on the held forth its wonderful doctrines to road, bekase thar's no game and no such of the incredulous trappers as he water; but thar's manna up in heaven, could induce to listen to him. Old and it 'll rain on us, and thar's pro- Rube stood nearly six feet six in phets among us as can make the height, and was spare and bony in water 'come. Can't they, brother make. He had picked up a most exDowdle ?"

traordinary cloth coat amongst the “ Well, they can.”

Mormons, which had belonged to " And now, what have the Gentiles some one his equal in stature. This and the Philistines to say against us coat, which was of a snuff-brown Mormons ? They says we're thieves, colour, had its waist about a hand's and steal hogs, yes, d 'em! they span from the nape of Rube's neck, or

y we has as many wives as we about a yard above its proper position, like. So we have. I've twenty and the skirts reached to his ancles. forty, myself, and mean to have as A slouching felt-hat covered his head, many more as I can get. But it's to from which long black hair escaped, pass unfortunate females into heaven hanging in flakes over his lantern-jaws. that I has 'em-yes, to prevent 'em His pantaloons of buckskin were going to roaring flames and damnation shrunk with wet, and reached midway that I does it.

between his knees and ankles, and his " Brother Dowdle,” he continued, huge feet were encased in mocassins in a hoarse, low voice, "I've give of buffalo-cow skin. out,' and think we'd better begin the Rube was never without the book exercises grettful to the Lord." of Mormon in his hand, and his

Brother Dowdle rose, and, after say. sonorous voice might be heard, at all

g that “ he didn't feel like saying hours of the day and night, reading much, begged to remind all bands, passages from its wonderful pages. that dancing was solemn music like, He stood the badgering of the hunters to be sung with proper devotion, and with most perfect good humour, and not with laughing and talking, of said there never was such a book as which he hoped to hear little or none; that ever before printed; that the that joy was to be in their hearts, and Mormons were the “ biggest kind " not on their lips; that they danced of prophets, and theirs the best faith for the glory of the Lord, and not ever man believed in. their own amusement, as did the Gen- Rube had let out one day that he tiles." After saying this, he called was to be hired as guide by this party upon brother Ezra to “strike up :" of Mormons to the Great Salt Lake; sundry couples stood forth, and the but their destination being changed, ball commenced.

and bis services not required, a wonEzra of the violin was a tall, derful change came over his mind. shambling Missourian, with a pair of He was, as usual, book of Mormon in " homespun” pantaloons thrust into hand, when brother Brown announced the legs of his heavy boots. Nodding the change in their plans; at which his head in time with the music, he the book was cast into the Arkansa, occasionally gave instructions to such and Rube exclaimed, — “ Cuss your of the dancers as were at fault, singing darned Mummum and Thummum ! them to the tune he was playing, in thar's not one among you knows 'fat a dismal nasal tone,

cow' from poor bull,' and you may

goh— for me." And turning away, “ Down the centre-hands across," “ You, Jake Herring-thump it,"

old Rube spat out a quid of tobacco “ Now, you all go right a-head

and his Mormonism together. Every one of you hump it.

Amongst the Mormons was an old Every one of you-hump it." man, named Brand, from Memphis


county, state of Tennessee, with a fa- through the thickets, three white mily of a daughter and two sons, the tilted Conostoga waggons emerged latter with their wives and children from the timbered bottom of the river, Brand was a wiry old fellow, nearly and rumbled slowly over the prairie, seventy years of age, but still stout in the direction of the Platte's waters. and strong, and wielded axe or rifle Each waggon was drawn by eight better than many a younger man. If oxen, and contained a portion of the truth be told, he was not a very red- farming implements and household hot Mormon, and had joined them as utensils of the Brand family. The much for the sake of company to Ca- teams were driven by the young boys, lifornia, wbither he had long resolved the men following in rear with shoulto emigrate, as from any implicit cre- dered rifles - Old Brand himself, dence in the faith. His sons were mounted on an Indian horse, leading strapping fellows, of the sterling stuff the advance. The women were safely that the Western pioneers are made housed under the shelter of the waggon of; his daughter Mary, a fine woman tilts, and out of the first the mild face of thirty, for whose state of single of Mary Brand smiled adieu to many blessedness there must doubtless have of her old companions who had accombeen sufficient reason; for she was panied them thus far, and now wished not only remarkably handsome, but them “ God-speed" on their long was well known in Memphis to be the journey. Some mountaineers, too, best-tempered and most industrious galloped up, dressed in buckskin, young woman in those diggings. She and gave them rough greeting,-warnwas known to have received several ing the men to keep their " eyes advantageous offers, all of which she skinned," and look out for the Arahad refused; and report said, that it pahos, who were out on the waters of was from having been disappointed the Platte. Presently all retired, and in very early life in an affaire du cour, then the huge waggons and the little at an age when such wounds some- company were rolling on their solitary times strike strong and deep, leav- way through the deserted prairiesing a scar difficult to heal. Neither passing the first of the many thousand his daughter, nor any of his family, miles which lay between them and the had been converted to the Mormon “setting sun," as the Indians style doctrine, but had ever kept themselves the distant regions of the Far West. aloof, and refused to join or associate And on, without casting a look behind with them; and, for this reason, the him, doggedly and boldly marched old family had been very unpopular with Brand, followed by his sturdy family. the Mormon families on the Arkansa; They made but a few miles that and hence, probably, one great rea- evening, for the first day the start is son why they now started alone on all that is effected; and nearly the their journey.

whole morning is taken up in getting Spring had arrived, and it was fairly underweigh. The loose stock time the Mormons should start on had been sent off earlier, for they had their long journey ; but whether al- been collected and corralled the preready tired of the sample they had vious night; and, after a twelve hours' had of life in the wilderness, or fast, it was necessary they should fearful of encountering the perils of reach the end of the day's journey bethe Indian country, not one amongst times. They found the herd grazing them, with the exception of old Brand, in the bottom of the Arkansa, at a seemed inclined to pursue the journey point previously fixed upon for their farther. That old backwoodsman, first camp. Here the oxen were unhowever, was not to be deterred, but yoked, and the waggons drawn up to declared his intention of setting out form the three sides of a small square. alone, with his family, and risking all The women then descended from their the dangers to be anticipated.

seats, and prepared the evening meal. One fine sunny evening in April A huge fire was kindled before the of 1847, when the cotton- woods on waggons, and round this the whole party the banks of the Arkansa began collected; whilst large kettles of coffee to put forth their buds, and robins boiled on it, and hoe-cakes baked and blue-birds-harbingers of spring, upon the embers. -were hopping, with gaudy plumage, The women were sadly downhearted, as well they might be, with the blood to rush to Mary's face: not dreary prospect before them; and that she for a moment imagined it was poor Mary, when she saw the Mormon her La Bonté, for she knew the name encampment shut out from her sight was a common one; but, associated by the rolling bluffs, and nothing be- with feelings which she had never got fore her but the bleak, barren prairie, the better of, it recalled a sad epoch could not divest herself of the idea in her former life, to which she could that she had looked for the last time not look back without mingled pain on civilised fellow - creatures, and and pleasure. fairly burst into tears.

Once only, and about two years In the morning the heavy waggons after his departure, had she ever rerolled on again, across the upland ceived tidings of her former lover. A prairies, to strike the trail used by the mountaineer had returned from the traders in passing from the south fork Far West to settle in his native of the Platte to the Arkansa. They State, and had found his way to the had for guide a Canadian voyageur, neighbourhood of old Brand's farm. who had been in the service of the Meeting him by accident, Mary, Indian traders, and knew the route hearing him speak of the mountain well, and who had agreed to pilot hunters, had inquired tremblingly, them to Fort Lancaster, on the north after La Bonté. Her informant knew fork of the Platte. Their course led him well — had trapped in company for about thirty miles up the Boiling with him — and had heard at the Spring River, whence they pursued a trading fort, whence he had taken his north-easterly course to the dividing departure for the settlements, that La ridge which separates the waters of the Bonté had been killed on the Yellow Platte and Arkansa. Their progress Stone by Blackfeet; which report was was slow, for the ground was satu- confirmed by some Indians of that rated with wet, and exceedingly heavy nation. This was all she had ever for the cattle, and they scarcely ad- learned of the lover of her youth. vanced more than ten miles a-day. Now, upon hearing the name of La

At the camp-fire at night, Antoine, Bonté so often mentioned by Antoine, the Canadian guide, amused them with a vague hope was raised in her breast tales of the wild life and perilous ad- that he was still alive, and she took an ventures of the hunters and trappers opportunity of questioning the Canawho make the mountains their home; dian closely on the subject. often extorting a scream from the “Who was this La Bonté, Anwomen by the description of some toine, whom you say was so brave a scene of Indian fight and slaughter, mountaineer?" she asked one day. or beguiling them of a commiserating " J'ne sais pas, he vas un beau tear by the narrative of the sufferings garçon, and strong comme le diableand privations endured by those hardy enfant de garce, mais he pas not care hunters in their arduous life.

a dam for les sauvages, pe gar. He Mary listened with the greater inte shoot de centare avec his carabine ; rest, since she remembered that such and ride de cheval comme one Cowas the life which had been led by one manche. He trap heap castor, (what very dear to her-by one, long sup- you call beevare,) and get plenty posed to be dead, of whom she had dollare — mais he open hand vare never but once, since his departure, wide-and got none too. Den, he nearly fifteen years before, beard a hont vid de Blackfoot and avec de syllable. Her imagination pictured Cheyenne, and all round de monhim as the bravest and most daring taignes he hont dam sight." of these adventurous hunters, and But, Antoine, what became of conjured up his figure charging through him at last? and why did he not the midst of whooping savages, or come home, when he made so many stretched on the ground perishing dollars ?" asked poor Mary. from wounds, or cold, or famine.

“Enfant de garce, mais pourquoi Amongst the characters who figured he com home? Pe gar, de montaignein Antoine's stories, a hunter named man, he love de montaigne and de La Bonté was made conspicuous for prairie more better dan he love de deeds of hardinese and daring. The grandes villes-même de Saint Louis first mention of the name caused the ou de Montreal. Wagh! La Bonté,

« AnteriorContinuar »