A novel addition to their bill of fare was fresh blubber, or fat, from a stranded whale. Under date of January 3 the journal says:--
"At eleven o'clock we were visited by our neighbor, the Tia or chief, Comowool, who is also called Coone, and six Clatsops. Besides roots and berries, they brought for sale three dogs, and some fresh blubber. Having been so long accustomed to live on the flesh of dogs, the greater part of us have acquired a fondness for it, and our original aversion for it is overcome, by reflecting that while we subsisted on that food we were fatter, stronger, and in general enjoyed better health than at any period since leaving the buffalo country, eastward of the mountains. The blubber, which is esteemed by the Indians an excellent food, has been obtained, they tell us, from their neighbors, the Killamucks, a nation who live on the seacoast to the southeast, near one of whose villages a whale had recently been thrown and foundered."
Five men had been sent out to form a camp on the seashore and go into the manufacture of salt as expeditiously as possible. On the fifth of January, two of them came into the fort bringing a gallon of salt, which was decided to be "white, fine and very good," and a very agreeable addition to their food, which had been eaten perfectly fresh for some weeks past. Captain Clark, however, said it was a "mere matter of indifference" to him whether he had salt or not, but he hankered for bread. Captain Lewis, on the other hand, said the lack of salt was a great inconvenience; "the want of bread I consider trivial," was his dictum. It was estimated that the salt-makers could turn out three or four quarts a day, and there was good prospect of an abundant supply for present needs and for the homeward journey. An expedition to the seashore was now planned, and the journal goes on to tell how they set out:--
"The appearance of the whale seemed to be a matter of importance to all the neighboring Indians, and as we might be able to procure some of it for ourselves, or at least purchase blubber from the Indians, a small parcel of merchandise was prepared, and a party of the men held in readiness to set out in the morning. As soon as this resolution was known, Chaboneau and his wife requested that they might be permitted to accompany us. The poor woman stated very earnestly that she had travelled a great way with us to see the great water, yet she had never been down to the coast, and now that this monstrous fish was also to be seen, it seemed hard that she should be permitted to see neither the ocean nor the whale. So reasonable a request could not be denied; they were therefore suffered to accompany Captain Clark, who, January 6th, after an early breakfast, set out with twelve men in two canoes."
After a long and tedious trip, the camp of the saltmakers was reached, and Captain Clark and his men went on to the remains of the whale, only the skeleton being left by the rapacious and hungry Indians. The whale had been stranded between two shore villages tenanted by the Killamucks, as Captain Clark called them. They are now known as the Tillamook Indians, and their name is preserved in Tillamook County, Oregon. The white men found it difficult to secure much of the blubber, or the oil. Although the Indians had large quantities of both, they sold it with much reluctance. In Clark's private diary is found this entry: "Small as this stock [of oil and lubber] is I prize it highly; and thank Providence for directing the whale to us; and think him more kind to us than he was to Jonah, having sent this monster to be swallowed by us instead of swallowing us as Jonah's did." While here, the party had a startling experience, as the journal says:--
"Whilst smoking with the Indians, Captain Clark was surprised, about ten o'clock, by a loud, shrill outcry from the opposite village, on hearing which all the Indians immediately started up to cross the creek, and the guide informed him that someone had been killed. On examination one of the men [M'Neal] was discovered to be absent, and a guard [Sergeant Pryor and four men] despatched, who met him crossing the creek in great haste. An Indian belonging to another band, who happened to be with the Killamucks that evening, had treated him with much kindness, and walked arm in arm with him to a tent where our man found a Chinnook squaw, who was an old acquaintance. From the conversation and manner of the stranger, this woman discovered that his object was to murder the white man for the sake of the few articles on his person; when he rose and pressed our man to go to another tent where they would find something better to eat, she held M'Neal by the blanket; not knowing her object, he freed himself from her, and was going on with his pretended friend, when she ran out and gave the shriek which brought the men of the village over, and the stranger ran off before M'Neal knew what had occasioned the alarm."
The "mighty hunter" of the Lewis and Clark expedition was Drewyer, whose name has frequently been mentioned in these pages. Under date of January 12, the journal has this just tribute to the man:--
"Our meat is now becoming scarce; we therefore determined to jerk it, and issue it in small quantities, instead of dividing it among the four messes, and leaving to each the care of its own provisions; a plan by which much is lost, in consequence of the improvidence of the men. Two hunters had been despatched in the morning, and one of them, Drewyer, had before evening killed seven elk. We should scarcely be able to subsist, were it not for the exertions of this most excellent hunter. The game is scarce, and nothing is now to be seen except elk, which for almost all the men are very difficult to be procured; but Drewyer, who is the offspring of a Canadian Frenchman and an Indian woman, has passed his life in the woods, and unites, in a wonderful degree, the dexterous aim of the frontier huntsman with the intuitive sagacity of the Indian, in pursuing the faintest tracks through the forest. All our men, however, have indeed become so expert with the rifle that we are never under apprehensions as to food; since, whenever there is game of any kind, we are almost certain of procuring it."