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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

MOUNTAIN MUSIC




The Wind Sang a Song and it Was Like Music
 
The whole thing started before I was born and I have to depend on those who were alive at the time for the details.

My father (Larson) made his first exploration into the mountains laden down with things he needed to survive and thirty five beaver traps. He soon learned if he was going to trap any beaver he was going to have to go deeper in the mountains for too many trappers had already caught the beaver in the nearby streams.

He traveled inland and found the spot where he was to settle. The reason he settled there in part was because of the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and he called it Mountain Music.

He had much more gear than he could carry so he hid part of it in a small cave that a bear had been hibernating in for the winter. He hoped the bear would not return and destroy his goods. He needed to make two more trips before he had all of his survival equipment on site where he was going to live.

His plans had been well thought out and he had brought some seeds for a garden and planted them right away. Next he built his cabin which was just a one room with a rock fire place and chimney for cooking and heat.

The cabin backed up to a hill he had dug out which made it easier to heat in the winter. An outside fire pit was used for most of his cooking during the warmer months.

As much of his garden harvest he could dry was put away for winter and some deer meat as well. Then came the winter and trapping season.

He was lucky the winter wasn’t as severe as some seeing as this was his first experience in the wilds. As winter wore on he became more adept at trapping beaver but the loneliness almost drove him mad. In the spring he made his way down to the fur trading company and sold his furs, bought new supplies and convinced a widow to join him in the wilds.

The woman had lost her husband and was having a difficult time getting by. When Larson proposed to her she jumped at the chance to be married again. As soon as they were married they left for the long trek up river.

He couldn’t wait till they reached the cabin to start having relations so each night was spent in getting intimately acquainted.

As it turned out she was as eager for the evening sessions as he was. The result of these evenings was a child was conceived and eventually born. That just happens to be me.

Outside of having to carry me to term the warm months weren’t too bad but the winter was confining. After I was born they kept the cabin warm because I would kick off my covers and they were afraid I would catch a cold. The routine went on year after year with my father having to go farther and farther away from the cabin to find the beaver.

My mother became more and more depressed due to the loneliness, because of my father being gone several days at a time.  For my schooling they sent me away to the Indian camp a few miles away and she became depressed.

My father had made friends with the tribe near us and the chief liked me very much. A few years ago he had put his old wife in a tent away from his and taken a young squaw with whom he had a boy now my age. He had lost his older sons in a skirmish with another tribe and now his old wife couldn’t have any more children so he took this young squaw for his wife.

From being with his son I learned much about how to hunt and trap game for food. I also learned to speak his language. I was ten and with my father running our traps when a bear that should have been in hibernation came from the woods and attacked my father. He shouted for me to run and run I did.  Later I went back and buried him.

The bear acted like a mad dog and I suspect she had been infected by a wolf bite or something. I had to run the traps that winter and come spring when we made the trip to the fur buyers my mother met a river rat who hauled goods up and down the river. He wanted her and she had been without a man for several months so she agreed to be with him.

He told her he couldn’t feed the both of us and it came down to either the river rat or me. She took half of our money and bought some new clothes leaving me with hardly enough to get by come the winter.

As they headed down the river she never looked back and that was the last I ever saw of her. I gathered up my goods and headed back to what was my home.

I had to put in my garden and do all of the necessary things at this time of year. After cutting my wood supply for winter and stacking it away I then went to visit my friend and the chief. I told the chief about what happened and he said he understood why she had done what she did.

I thought I wish I did for this man-woman stuff was something I couldn’t fathom.

That summer I spent a lot of time with the Indians and began to observe some things I never paid any attention to before. They let me and my friend sleep in the tent with them and after the summer I understood how men and women connect up. I still wasn’t sure why they did but that understanding came by the next year.

I began to experience some longings I didn’t fully understand at first but soon it became clear. Another two years passed and my friend who was fifteen years old took a young squaw to wife and after that we didn’t do much together.

Looking back to when I was eight years old my dad, mother and I went to Jamboree where all the mountain men met for a few days. There was a lot of drinking, some fighting and one thing which I hadn’t seen before was buying and selling Indian squaws. I didn’t know you could sell people even if they were Indians. No one seemed to object, not even the squaws.’

At night the dancing was the high point and it went into the next morning. I saw so much I had never seen before like knife and axe throwing contests. It was a great time and I always wanted to go back but for one reason or the other I didn’t up till now.

This year I had saved up a lot of trade goods and decided to go to jamboree. The chief let me have one of the old horses. And I loaded him up with my goods.

When I got to jamboree people were still arriving and immediately something caught my eye. There was a trader who had a repeating rifle. I had only seen one but from that time on I wanted to get me one of my own.

Only the army was supposed to have them at this time but there it was and was for sale or trade. The man let me look it over and as far as I could tell it was almost new and I had to have it. We dickered back and forth and he wanted everything I had. I said I want it but I have to look around and see if there is anything I want more than this gun. There was as usual a lot of whiskey and quite a few Indians wanting to get a jug.

As I rambled around I saw a man who had some Indian girls for sale. There were several mountain men looking them over but most of them walked away saying if I wanted one I would catch me one. The man tried to garner more interest by having each one of the remove the garment they were wearing and making up a past history for each of them. There were several more lookers when they took their clothes off.
The man said; now take this one she has only been with a few men and is good as new. He said about the same thing about each until he came to the last one and he said she is guaranteed to never have been taken.
She is what you call a virgin and her price is double what the others are. After all the jabbering there were some guys who were more drunk than the others who came up and bought each of them except for the one on the end.

The price is too high they shouted, and after one night she will be just like the rest, make her take her clothes off. She refused to remove her buckskin dress and the man started to beat her for not obeying him.
Indian Maiden
I didn’t want to see her hurt so I told him to let her be. No need to mar her and bring down her value let them imagine what’s under her dress and if they want to see it make them buy her.

He just turned and said to the crowd it’ll cost you to see her naked so get out your cash. I hated to see her go with these rough men but it would take a large portion of my money to buy her and I wanted that gun more than her. Besides I had seen a lot of Indian girls without their clothes in the water taking a bath; very young girls to the old ones so that wasn’t of much interest for me.

I left and went and bought the rifle with a lot of shells and a reloading machine. I already had a fair amount of lead and powder so I could reload my shells if necessary. The next morning I headed home with my rifle all loaded and ready to fire.

The girl scarcely crossed my mind all the way to my place. I kept telling myself I wasn’t interested in her and by the time I reached home I just about believed it.

That evening there was a knock at my door and when I opened it there stood the young woman. The man who bought her had gotten drunk so she slipped away and she tracked me to my home.

I knew he was a determined kind of person who wouldn’t give up until he found her.  It was ten days later when he showed up at my house and I had spotted him trying to sneak up on us.

I told the Indian girl to hide in the cabin and I would take care of the man. She was nervous but did as I said. When he came up I was loading my new rifle and I said howdy. He said he was looking for an Indian girl that belong to him and wanted to know if I had seen her. I lied and no I haven’t seen anyone except you since the jamboree.

He said he wanted to look in the cabin to make sure. I said, “Go ahead but there was a wolverine that sneaked in there and I was wondering how I was going to get him out. I said go ahead and get him out for me.”

The man turned white and said, “I ain’t messing with no wolverine you get him out yourself.”  With that he turned and left.

After he was gone I told the girl she could stay until she decided what she wanted to do. The winter came on and she still stayed on. We had a good garden and I had killed some meat for us and it didn’t seem long till it was spring.

During the winter I had a spell come on me and I became a bit unsettled. The Indian girl who I named Martha seemed to understand what my trouble was and took care of it. Before winter was over I began to understand my mother left and why she did what she did.

One day we were out and about and went in the creek and took a bath together. It just struck me that I had a wife. I was married for all practical purposes. After three years and one half breed later the beaver ran out and I heard there was a gold strike over the mountains to the west.

We packed up and headed to the west and manage to hit on a claim that was a good producer. After ten years the easy gold played out and I sold my claim to an outfit that had the equipment to rip the earth apart.

We walked away with a lot of money and settled on a ranch in the Oregon territory.

We finally found a preacher and had him say words over us. We were legally married after she had given me six kids. The kids took after me and were almost white and the girls were so pretty men couldn’t resist them.

They each had several proposals and all married well. With a good education all my kids fit right in the area we lived in and were well respected. Martha has been able to understand all my moods and keep me on an even keel and my feelings for her are; she is one smart Indian girl who was willing to take a beating rather than to expose herself before a bunch of drunken rowdies.

I think it was that which made me fall for her even though I bought the rifle instead of her.

Finis

 

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