Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Beset with Danger

I would not listen to John Mitchell when he proposed that we make a hurried start, for I knew the Indians were near enough to see clearly what we were doing, and at the first show of fear on our part the whole crew would be upon us. However, I insisted that no member of the company should stray ever so short a distance from the train, and I took good care that the cows were herded in close order between two of the wagons.

Despite all I could say to the contrary, Susan insisted on accompanying me when I rode to and fro along the line, keeping sharp watch for a possible ambush and fearing each instant to hear that savage yell which would tell that the enemy was upon us.

Yet we passed along the mountain sides and across narrow valleys in peace until after sixteen miles we arrived at the banks of Marsh Creek, where I gave the word that a halt be made, because then we were where it would be possible to make some show of defending ourselves in event of an attack, owing to a small thicket of stunted pines on a slight elevation of land near the water.

During all the day's journey, I knew the Indians were hovering close around us, because of the signal fires that were lighted just in advance of us from time to time; but we failed to see the enemy except once, when a half-naked savage showed himself, as if by accident, as we rounded a bend in the trail. Other than that one glimpse of a dark form and the signal fires on every hand, we had no proof that danger lurked near us. It is likely that the greater number of our company were ignorant of that which menaced; but I knew full well that we had been in peril of our lives from the moment we made camp at Raft River.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

Again I passed a sleepless night, and again John Mitchell joined me as I went from sentinel to sentinel, asking now and then if any suspicious noise had been heard, until another day had dawned, and then I failed to see signal smoke, search the country with my eyes though I did. It was evident the Snakes believed we would put up a strong fight if attacked, and, failing to catch us at a disadvantage, they had drawn off, most likely hoping to come across some other company of emigrants who were not so cautious.