The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate

By Eliza P. Donner Houghton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
SNOWBOUND -- SCARCITY OF FOOD AT BOTH CAMPS -- WATCHING FOR RETURN OF M'CUTCHEN AND REED.

WHEN we awoke the following morning, little heaps of snow lay here and there upon the floor. No threshold could be seen, only a snow-bank reaching up to the white plain beyond, where every sound was muffled, and every object was blurred by falling flakes.

Father's face was very grave. His morning caress had all its wonted tenderness, but the merry twinkle was gone from his eye, and the gladsome note from his voice. For eight consecutive days, the fatal snow fell with but few short intermissions. Eight days, in which there was nothing to break the monotony of torturing, inactive endurance, except the necessity of gathering wood, keeping the fires, and cutting anew the steps which led upward, as the snow increased in depth. Hope well-nigh died within us.

All in camp fared alike, and all were on short rations. Three of our men became dispirited, said that they were too weak and hungry to gather wood, and did not care how soon death should put an end to their miseries.

The out-of-door duties would have fallen wholly

-64-

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