Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Defending Ourselves

Dismounting, while the others wheeled about to join him again, he came toward me, his eyes roving from one member of our company to the other, as if to learn whether we had backbone enough to stand up for our rights.

He must have understood that we would put up with no foolishness, for straightway all his show of fierceness vanished. He told me that his party had been out hunting buffaloes, but failed to come across any, and then begged like a dog for us to give him food.

To have admitted such a crowd into our encampment would have been giving them a license to plunder, therefore I warned the fellow off. I insisted that they go back to their village, where, beyond doubt, they would find food if they were very hungry.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

John Mitchell would have argued with me because I was turning hungry people away; but I refused to listen to him, and put on such a bold front that without further parley the leader mounted his pony, and away they went over the ridge, much to my relief.

When we were making camp that night a party of emigrants, numbering no less than fifty, all bound for the Oregon country, came up with us.

Instead of halting as one might have supposed, for a quiet chat, they rode on as though fearing we might want to join them, and I said to myself that their guide must be one who, like myself, had already traversed the Oregon trail; yet I was pleased because of their desire to continue on alone.