of our provisions were still too wet to pack with safety, and we were
not therefore to resume our advance until the following day; and while
Gilbert devoted himself to drying and reassembling the outfit, the
Judge and I set out to explore our surroundings.
Malone had discovered, when fishing the previous evening, a beautiful
fall in the river a mile and a quarter above camp. We now
visited this fall, which we shall call Roger Newell Fall, and found
that it had a drop of about twenty feet, at this season, and about
twenty-five feet from high water mark.
I left the Judge, and climbed into the hills for a view of the upper
valley and river. What I saw was anything but
reassuring. There was an abrupt rise in the country above the
fall, and the river, as far as I could trace it with the naked eye from
a high eminence, was broken into several channels, and poured down from
the higher level a frothing white torrent.
I left him at the falls, Judge Malone pointed out to me a comparatively
fresh moccasin track in the gravel, and not far away, in the rocks, the
charred coals of a fire, indicating that Indians had been here since
the ice had broken up and the spring floods had subsided.
Later in the day the Judge explored the Charles Riley River for several
miles above its mouth, discovering another fall in the river, and other
fresh Indian signs. One of these signs was a pole set at an
angle, and pointing east-southeast. This indicated that
Indians had passed away, and in the direction of Groswater Bay, after
snow had gone, avoiding the Beaver River. When the Judge
reported his discoveries in the evening, Gilbert asked:
you follow the trail out, and see any twigs partly broke off, and
leaning the way the trail went?”
Judge had not.
the way the Indians marks their trails, when they’re hard up for grub,
or starving,” explained Gilbert. “The Indians that set the
sign likely went out that way to some lakes. I’ve heard them
tell about some big lakes being in there.”
makes you think the Indians that made these signs might have been in
trouble?” I asked.
was a bunch of Indians camped at my place at the mouth of the Nascaupee
just before the break-up in the spring, and they were expecting twelve
more that didn’t show up,” answered Gilbert.
twelve that didn’t come out were hunting up in here somewhere, and the
crowd at my place got worried about ’em , and held a medicine
dance. The medicine man said that the ones that were missing
were in here and hard up for grub. They would have come in to
look but the break-up was just on and they couldn’t travel with
snowshoes or canoe. The party that was missing never did show
up, and we thought likely they had gone out south. But
according to these signs, they were here after break-up.”
the Indians here very often get short of grub?” asked the Judge.
said Gilbert. “When caribou are scarce, like they are now,
Indians have plenty of hard times. When they has plenty to
eat they’re very religious and pray and thank God every day for giving
’em grub; but when they are hard up, they hold medicine dances to find
out what’s the trouble, and where the deer are gone.”
camp and Roger Newell Falls the river was impassable for canoe, and
this made necessary a portage to a point above the falls.
Gilbert blazed and opened a trail through the woods along the base of
the hills, and in the evening carried the canoe in order to expedite
our departure the following morning.
his return to camp Gilbert cut a pole which he fixed into a sloping
position on the boulders near the river, its top leaning in the
direction of the scene of our camp, which was also the beginning of the
newly made portage trail. Here he conspicuously blazed a
tree. The sloping pole and blazed tree were to serve as
guides for Murdock and Henry when they should arrive later.
On another tree he scored off a flat surface, and with an indelible
pencil wrote a message advising the young men of our mishap.
On this tree, and above the message, he hung our tent stove—which was
of no use to us now, without the pipe—for Murdock and Henry to take
back with them upon their return to the post; for it had been decided
that they were to turn back from the point where Malone, Gilbert and I
should leave the Beaver River valley to cross to the Susan River.
preparations completed, we re-packed our outfit, and made ready for an
early start the following morning
Chapter XXVII: This River Is Like A