Journal of a Trapper 1834-1843

The following is excerpted from Journal of a Trapper: Osborne Russell edited by Aubrey L. Haines and published by the University of Nebraska Press, 1955.

A large fire was soon blazing encircled with sides of Elk ribs and meat cut in slices supported on sticks down which the grease ran in torrents. The repast being over, the jovial tale goes round the circle. The peals of loud laughter break upon the stillness of the night which after being mimicked in the echo from rock to rock, it dies away in the solitary. Every tale puts an auditor in mind of something similar to it but under different circumstances which being told the "laughing part" gives rise to increasing merriment and furnishes more subjects for good jokes and witty sayings such as Swift never dreamed of. Thus the evening passed with eating, drinking, and stories enlivened with witty humor until near Midnight, all being wrapped in their blankets lying around the fire gradually falling to sleep one by one, until the last tale is "encored" by the snoring of the drowsy audience. The Speaker takes the hint, breaks off the subject and, wrapping his blanket more closely about him soon joins the snoring party.

The light of the fire being supersed by that of the Moon just rising from behind the Eastern Mountains. A sullen gloom is cast over the remaining fragments of the feast and all is silent except the occasional howling of the solitary wolf on the nieghboring mountain whose senses are attracted by the flavors of roasted meat but, fearing to approach nearer, he sits upon a rock and bewails his calamities in piteous moans which are re-echoed among the Mountains.

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