A very curious, almost quixotic account of a couple of aristocratic travelers seeking an overland route to the gold fields of British Columbia.
p. 205, on Mr. O’B and his obsession with Paley’s Evidences: Mr. O’B. was now deeply impressed with the difficulties he encountered, and declared that, although he had visited many countries, he had never known what travelling meant before. His assistance was limited to good advice, for he was afraid to approach a horse, and when his help was required to load the animals, he was invariably missing. We generally ferreted him out, and found him, hidden in the bushes, quietly smoking his pipe, and diligently studying the last remnant of his library, the only book he took with him — Paley’s “Evidences of Christianity.”
p. 261, after a boat accident on the Assiniboine, when the packed horses lost their cargo: This misfortune was no light one. We had now neither tea, salt, nor tobacco, for our whole store of these luxuries had been carried by the horse which was lost. All our clothes, matches, and ammunition were gone, except what we carried on our persons at the time. All our papers, letters of credit, and valuables, Milton’s buffalo robe and blanket, Cheadle’s collection of plants, the instruments and watches, had set out on their voyage towards the sea. But there was much reason for congratulation as well as lamentation. No actual necessaries of life had gone; we had still the pemmican and flour. The journals, too, without which the present valuable history could never have been published, were saved with Bucephalus [one of the horses].
Mr. O’B. lost his letters of introduction, his tin kettle, and a pair of spectacles; but his Paley, carefully carried in his breast-pocket, still remained to him. The loss of the spectacles, however, obliged him to pursue his studies under great disadvantages, for he was now reduced to reading with one eye only, for the only pair he had left boasted of but a single glass. As we sat over the camp fire at night, talking about our losses, drinking the last of our tea, and smoking some of the last pipes we were destined to enjoy for many weeks, Mr. O’B. improved the occasion with a certain characteristic philosophy. He directed our attention to the consideration of how much worse the misfortune would have been if he, or one of us, had been riding the animal which was lost. Then the loss of his kettle was, after all, of little consequence, for the tea to use in it was gone too. “No,” said he, “what grieves me is the loss of your tobacco; it’s a very serious thing to me, as well as you; for, do you know, my own was just finished, and I was on the very point of asking you to lend me some till we get through.” Milton being the only man who had any tobacco left, some four small plugs, smilingly took the hint, and shared it with the rest of the party.
p. 295: We held a council of war after our last meal was ended, and Mr. O.’B. .laid down his one-eyed spectacles and his Paley, to suggest that we should immediately kill “Blackie,” as he affectionately denominated the little black horse he usually took charge of on the way. The Assiniboine and Cheadle proposed to starve a few days longer, in the hope of something turning up. Against this Mr. O’B. entered a solemn protest, and eventually Milton’s proposal was agreed to. This was that The Assiniboine should spend the next day in hunting: if he were successful, we were relieved; and if not, the “Petit Noir” must die. There seemed some chance for his life, for The Assiniboine had caught sight of a bear during the day, and the dog had chased another. Their tracks were tolerably numerous, and The Assiniboine we knew to be the most expert hunter of the Saskatchewan….
Mr. O’B., wearied of his Paley, declared that he was beginning to have painful doubts concerning his faith, and would read no more. He did not keep his resolution, however, but resumed his reading the same evening, and brought out his book afterwards at every resting-place with the same regularity as ever.