John Muir


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as he sat. This was done without ceremony or saying a single word. The chief scarcely noticed them, only taking a corner in his hand and looking at the quality. Toyatte had been an inveterate enemy and fighter of the Chilcats, but now having joined the church wanted to forget the past and kill and bury all old feuds and be universally friendly. It was evident, however, that he feared the proud and warlike Cats and became more and more uneasy as we approached them. “Well, I’m old now and may as well die as not,” he said. “My wife said my old enemies would kill me. Never mind.” He was troubled with palpitation of the hear and would say at times while he suffered, “I hope the Chilcats will shoot here,” while he put his hand over his heart. Before venturing to go up to the large main vil[lage] we sent Charley and a Chilcat to announce our arrival and ask whether we might come on, telling them that Kadachan and Toyatte were our friends, we were all one meat and that any harm done them would also be done to us. They sent back word that we all would be made welcome except Toyatte, that the guns were loaded and ready to welcome us, but that Toyatte had insulted a Chilcat chief not long ago in Wrangel and that he must not come. They also said that they were busy merry-making with other visitors, Sitka Jack and his friends, but that if we could get up through the floating ice on the river they all would be glad. They had been drinking. Hootchenook’s father, one of the principal chiefs said plainly that he had but just waked up from a ten day’s sleep. We were anxious to go on, but taking all the difficulties into count, the danger of being frozen in at so late a time, while K[adachan] could not walk on the ice on account of a shot in his foot, the danger from whisky, the awakening of old feuds on account of Toyatte’s presence, etc. we reluctantly concluded to go towards home at once. This was on Friday and a fair wind was blowing, but our crew, who loved dearly to doze and eat in these big square houses all said that Monday would be “hyas klosh”. I insisted, however, on starting at once on Saturday morning, and succeeded in getting away at 10 o’clock. Nov. 8th. All the three days that we were in the chief’s house we felt quite at home. Everybody did as he liked, coming and going, retiring and getting up when we wished, while this seemed to be expected of us. I never saw a child or servant scolded or punished, or any resentment about taking the best place at the fire, or the best bits of food. There is such abundance that this spirit of mine and thine, developed into civilized selfishness, is never apparent, if it exists at all. Many a good lesson might be learned from these wild children. They should send missionaries to the Christians. Just as we were leaving the chief requested a paper from us to show that in case we were lost in getting home at so stormy a time of year he had not killed us and could not be held accountable. The day was bright and the Hoon (north wind) strong and we raced homeward at flying speed, the glaciers on the mountains showing to fine advantage. The great gl[acier] seemed to stretch far into the water after the distance was so great as to hide the fringe of the trees in front on the terminal moraine. The Chilcoot gl[acier] also showed grandly at a distance of 40 or 50 ms. The mountains bounding the channel are boldly and sharply sculptured, the highest peaks about 8 or 9000 ft. Gl[acier]s in all the curving and wide amphitheater, 5 or 6 come below the timber line, which here is about 3000 ft. {sketch: Dead-house, Hoona vil.}

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Original journal dimensions: 11.5 x 18 cm.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist