Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Indian Pictures

There were in the village when we arrived but few women and children, with here and there an old man, all the hunters having gone out, as I learned, hoping to find antelopes near at hand.

Understanding by this information that there would be no attempt made to hinder us from gratifying our curiosity, I led Susan into one of the largest of the empty lodges. She was filled with wonder because of the pictures, drawn with charcoal and colored with various paints, which were to be seen on the inside of the bark walls.

There were mounted men fighting with bows and arrows, horses hauling wagons, figures of beasts and reptiles, all done as one can well fancy in a rude way; but to Susan they afforded no little amusement, and she would have remained studying them until after nightfall, had I not insisted that we must return to camp before darkness.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

It was an odd picture which our encampment presented when we rode in just at twilight. The women had finished their washing, and, having no ropes on which to stretch their clothes, had hung them on wagon wheels and the tongues of the carts, in fact, on everything available, until the entire place had much the appearance of a gigantic, ragged ghost.

Because so much time was spent next morning in gathering up these garments and packing them away, we traveled only twelve miles, arriving at the bank of a small stream with all the animals, save the saddle horses, showing signs of weariness.

I insisted we should take a day for resting the cattle, although John Mitchell would have pushed on, regardless of their condition; but I knew we must keep them in good shape, else when we arrived at the more difficult portion of the journey they would fail us entirely. Perhaps because of our experience with the Indians, the men failed to grumble at the delay.