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Fort William January 19th 1834
My Dear Hugh
I have sent you a few letters written from time to time as the humour of the moment dictated and have therein confined myself to the Indians or something that created pleasing sensations for the moment, I send them in hopes they will with you produce the same effect. But it is also necessary that I should give you some idea how we progress here and I do it the more readily as you are my only confidant.
I cannot yet form any very sure calculation of the result of our business as much depends on the quantity of buffalo the Indians will kill at the different posts where we have established, and as yet I only know the prospects up to this time at this post. The Buffalo have been here unusually scarce here and the Indians have killed but very few indeed we find it difficult to obtain enough of meat for our consumption -- the time is not long now that the buffalo skins will suit for robes (say scarce two months) and at best our trade must be small. These Indians are by no means ambitious in making robes and even now the men are going out to war and neglecting the time to kill buffalo in season and by this [war?] our returns here must be small - this however although our largest Fort we expected would produce least robes. I have sent out two clerks in different directions about 50 & 60 miles from here where they have built houses to trade during the winter and the Indians have all gone there and I remain here to furnish their supplies and trade with any chance party that comes in - I sent out a party to the mountains to trap and trade with the Crow Indians but I have had no account from them yet.
[Pg. Break] At the time Mr. Sublette left here we spoke of selling out to the Am. Fur Co. but after we had made our proposals we failed in making a bargain - had this succeeded I think I should have entirely abandoned the Indian life and settled myself permanently in some stable business, but probably I may find it is all for the best. Yet if an opportunity offers I shall most undoubtably sell out and leave this country at anything that will possibly save me.
You find me express myself in a manner that you perceive I have less inclination to my present mode of life then to my former roving avocation, and I believe such is the case. I begin to find that spending the prime of my life in a savage country is sacrificing that time when I can only hope for enjoyment, and when in the course of years (should I be spared life) I leave here I must form new friends and enter the world as a youth, obliged to assimilate myself to the manners of those around me. Many reflections of this nature rush upon me in my solitude and stretch the tedious hours that I pass alone here; and many resolves do I make to place myself in a more fixed situation when an opportunity arrives, and in order to this to advantage it requires to make the best run of the present moment which affords no little thought nor few plans and calculating to overcome all that a new company has to encounter in the Indian country, as you may well judge from the class of interpreters (greater rascals than free Negroes) who have long enough with the Indians to have forgotten the ties of honor which binds the white man to his obligation and yet not long enough to acquire the good qualities of the Indians - in them are centered the vices of both classes - may other not much less aggravating matters serve to sour the homes of solitude and make the time irksome in the desert - admit that a man in seven years made a fortune in this life so there paid for it dearly.
[Pg. Break] If I can get off from this port in the month of May I shall descend the river as far as our post at the Sioux and then possibly await the arrival of Mr.Sublette, but as yet I cannot make any sure determination - in the spring we will have more insight into our affairs and you shall know them as they appear to me. Our capital employed in the business and requires a great expense to employ it say nearly 100 more all of whose wages are progressing day and duly, and the term of trade is but short -- the country has proved profitable and it may be so now but in any case I would prefer leaving it soon as I can do so honourably.