He evidently was afraid that we were being fooled by his honeyed eloquence into believing that he was a great man, while the precious truth which he wanted us to know was that he, the reindeer man, whose flocks covered a big mountain, was the real chief. That old fellow said his son is a chief “all the same as a captain, like you. He is a great trader. All the captains,” (naming some of the whalemen) “come to his place at Plover Bay to trade. Everybody, Indians as well as whites, know him and trade with him, etc. You will see how great he is when you get to Plover Bay.” I asked his son, who knew a little English, why he did not take a trip to San Francisco to see the white man’s great town. He replied, as many a civilized man does under the same circumstances, that he had a little boy too little to be left and too little to be taken with him, but that soon he would be a big fellow, so high, measuring the hoped-for stature with his hand, and then he would go to San Francisco to see where all the big ships and good whisky come from. These Eskimos also had heard the story of the Vigilante. The reindeer man’s son is going with us to Plover Bay to look after some of his father’s debtors. He has been supplying them with tobacco and other goods on credit, and he thought it time they were paying up. His little boy, he told us, was sick, had a hot sore head that throbbed, showing with his hand how it beat in aching pulses, and asked for medicine, which the surgeon gave him with necessary directions, greatly to his relief of mind, it seemed. Wind abating, hope to reach Plover Bay tomorrow.
Original journal dimensions: 11.5 x 21 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist