_Tuesday, 21._–We embarked at half past one this morning, when the
weather was cold and unpleasant, and the wind South-West. At ten, we
left the channels formed by the islands for the uninterrupted channel of
the river, where we found the current so strong, that it was absolutely
necessary to tow the canoe with a line. The land on both sides was
elevated, and almost perpendicular, and the shore beneath it, which is
of no great breadth, was covered with a grey stone that falls from the
precipice. We made much greater expedition with the line than we could
have done with the paddles. The men in the canoe relieved two of those
on shore every two hours, so that it was very hard and fatiguing duty,
but it saved a great deal of that time which was so precious to us. At
half past eight we landed at the same spot where we had already encamped
on the ninth instant.
In about an hour after our arrival, we were joined by eleven of the
natives, who were stationed farther up the river, and there were some
among them whom we had not seen during our former visit to this place.
The brother of our late guide, however, was of the party, and was eager
in his inquiries after him; but our account did not prove satisfactory.
They all gave evident tokens of their suspicion, and each of them made a
distinct harangue on the occasion. Our Indians, indeed, did not
understand their eloquence, though they conjectured it to be very
unfavourable to our assertions. The brother, nevertheless, proposed to
barter his credulity for a small quantity of beads, and promised to
believe every thing I should say, if I would gratify him with a few of
those baubles; but he did not succeed in his proposition, and I
contented myself with giving him the bow and arrows which our conductor
had left with us.
My people were now necessarily engaged in putting the fire-arms in
order, after the violent rain of the preceding day; an employment which
very much attracted the curiosity, and appeared in some degree, to
awaken the apprehensions of the natives. To their inquiries concerning
the motives of our preparation, we answered by showing a piece of meat
and a goose, and informing them, that we were preparing our arms to
procure similar provisions: at the same time we assured them, though it
was our intention to kill any animals we might find, there was no
intention to hurt or injure them. They, however, entreated us not to
discharge our pieces in their presence. I requested the English chief
to ask them some questions, which they either did not or would not
understand; so that I failed in obtaining any information from them.
All my people went to rest; but I thought it prudent to sit up, in order
to watch the motions of the natives. This circumstance was a subject of
their inquiry; and their curiosity was still more excited, when they saw
me employed in writing. About twelve o’clock I perceived four of their
women coming along the shore; and they were no sooner seen by their
friends, than they ran hastily to meet them, and persuaded two of them,
who, I suppose, were young, to return, while they brought the other two,
who were very old, to enjoy the warmth of our fire; but, after staying
there for about half an hour, they also retreated. Those who remained,
immediately kindled a small fire, and laid themselves down to sleep
round it, like so many whelps, having neither skins or garments of any
kind to cover them, notwithstanding the cold that prevailed. My people
having placed their kettle of meat on the fire, I was obliged to guard
it from the natives, who made several attempts to possess themselves of
its contents; and this was the only instance I had hitherto discovered,
of their being influenced by a pilfering disposition. It might,
perhaps, be a general opinion, that provisions were a common property.
I now saw the sun set for the first time since I had been here before.
During the preceding night, the weather was so cloudy, that I could not
observe its descent to the horizon. The water had sunk, at this place,
upward of three feet since we had passed down the river.