We Had Real
Porridge And Cream, Coffee With Veritable Sugar And Milk, And
Authentic Butter, Light Rolls Made Of Actual Flour, Unquestionable
Bacon And Potatoes, With Jam And Toast - The Really, Truly Things - And
We Had As Much As We Could Eat!
We behaved rather badly - intemperately,
I fear - we stopped only when forced to do it, and yet both of us
came away with appetites.
It was clear that I must get some larger craft than my canoe to
cross the lake from Fort Resolution and take the 1,300 pounds of
provisions that had come on the steamer. Harding kindly offered the
loan of a York boat, and with the help chiefly of Charlie McLeod
the white man, who is interpreter at the fort, I secured a crew to
man it. But oh, what worry and annoyance it was! These Great Slave
Lake Indians are like a lot of spoiled and petulant children,
with the added weakness of adult criminals; they are inconsistent,
shiftless, and tricky. Pike, Whitney, Buffalo Jones, and others
united many years ago in denouncing them as the most worthless and
contemptible of the human race, and since then they have considerably
deteriorated. There are exceptions, however, as will be seen by
One difficulty was that it became known that on the Buffalo expedition
Bezkya had received three dollars a day, which is government
emergency pay. I had agreed to pay the regular maximum, two dollars
a day with presents and keep. All came and demanded three dollars.
I told them they could go at once in search of the hottest place
ever pictured by a diseased and perfervid human imagination.
If they went there they decided not to stay, because in an hour
they were back offering to compromise. I said I could run back to
Fort Smith (it sounds like nothing) and get all the men I needed
at one dollar and a half. (I should mortally have hated to try.)
One by one the crew resumed. Then another bombshell. I had offended
Chief Snuff by not calling and consulting with him; he now gave
it out that I was here to take out live Musk-ox, which meant that
all the rest would follow to seek their lost relatives. Again my
crew resigned. I went to see Snuff. Every man has his price. Snuff's
price was half a pound of tea; and the crew came back, bringing,
however, several new modifications in our contract.
Taking no account of several individuals that joined a number of
times but finally resigned, the following, after they had received
presents, provisions, and advance pay, were the crew secured to
man the York boat on the "3 or 4" days' run to Pike's Portage and
then carry my goods to the first lake.
Weeso. The Jesuits called him Louison d'Noire, but it has been
corrupted into a simpler form. "Weeso" they call it, "Weeso" they
write it, and for "Weeso" you must ask, or you will not find him.
So I write it as I do "Sousi" and "Yum," with the true local colour.
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