The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies. — Robert Conquest

Antoine of Oregon - James Otis




An Inquisitive Stranger

Then, much to my surprise, he said, speaking in what seemed an odd tone, much as though he had a cold in his head:—

"Are you the son of Laclede, the free trader who was killed by the Blackfeet Indians not so long ago?"

I was ever proud to own that I was my father's son, and speedily gave the stranger an answer, although at the same time asking myself whether there was any good reason for such a question, or if he was intending to make sport of me.

"I am told that you have been over the trail 'twixt here and the Oregon country with your father, lad?"

"I have been twice into the land of the Walla Wallas, but no farther than that, although it would have pleased me well could I have seen the great ocean."

"Now I am not so certain where the country of what you call the Walla Wallas may be," the man said with a puzzled expression upon his face, whereupon I answered quickly, proud because of being able to tell:—

"It is this side the Cascade Range, the other side of the Blue Mountains, near where the Columbia River takes a sharp turn to the westward.''

"The Columbia River, eh?" the man repeated, as if satisfied with my reply. "Then you surely must have traveled near to the Pacific Ocean?"

"I have been so near that one might go down the river to it in a canoe, if he were so disposed; but there is a station of the Hudson's Bay Company near the coast and we free traders who deal with the Northwest Company have no desire for traffic with those who would shut us out from St. Louis, fearing lest we may cut into their trade."