76. Bryant August 1, 1846

After we had proceeded two or three miles up the sloping plain, towards the base of the mountains, Colonel Russell recollected that he had left his rifle at the camp—a “nine-shooter.” Accompanied by Miller, he returned back to recover it. I was very well satisfied that the Indians would have discovered it, and, considering it a valuable prize, would not wait for the return of the loser. According to their code of morals, it is not dishonest to take what is left in camp, and they never fail to do it. I halted for an hour, and long after our party had disappeared in a gorge of the mountains, for the return of Colonel Russell and Miller. I could see, from my elevated position, the dust raised by the horses of the retreating Indians on the plain, at a distance of six or eight miles from the camp. Becoming impatient, I commenced a countermarch, and while moving on, I saw, at a distance of a mile and a half, a solitary horseman, urging his animal with great speed towards me. There being but one instead of two, I felt considerable anxiety, not knowing but some disaster might have occurred. I moved faster towards the horseman, and, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, discovered that it was Colonel Russell. Riding towards him, I inquired what had become of Miller? He did not know. He had lost him in hunting through the willows and ravines. My anxiety was much increased at this report, and I started to return to the camp, when Miller, proceeding at a slow gait, appeared on one of the distant elevations. The result of the search for the “nine-shooting” rifle was fruitless. The Indians had carried it away with them. The only consolation I could offer to Colonel Russell for his loss was, that a more useless burden was never carried on the shoulders of man or mule. It was a weight upon the beast, and an incumbrance to the rider, and of no practical utility on this journey. This consolation, however, was not very soothing [I will state here, that this rifle was recovered by Mr. Hudspeth, brought into California, and returned to Colonel Russell. The Indian who took it from our camp, after he had returned to the village of his tribe, was much elated by his prize. But in discharging it, the ball, instead of making its passage through the barrel, took another direction, and wounded him in the leg. An instrument so mysterious and eccentric it was considered dangerous to retain, and the chief ordered its restoration to the emigrant parties following us. It was recognised by Mr. Hudspeth, and returned to its owner, as above stated.]