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Father De Smet and the Snorer


Father Pierre De Smet entered North Dakota from Montana in 1840, calling it the best "retreat" he ever made; he was petrified of warring Blackfeet. “...only a rocky point separated us from a savage war-party,” he wrote. “Without losing time, we...started at full gallop... That day we made forty to fifty miles without a halt, and did not camp until two hours after sunset...”

His only companion, a Belgian trapper, posed a different kind of problem that night. “My grenadier, braver than I, was soon snoring like a steam engine in full swing; running through all the notes of the chromatic scale, he closed each movement of his prelude with a deep sigh, by way of modulation.”

The next day, they found a freshly killed buffalo. “We trembled at this sight, thinking the enemy was not far away; but...the Lord...had thus prepared food for our evening meal... That night we camped among rocks that are the resort of bears and tigers. There I had a good sleep. This time the music of my companion's snoring did not trouble me.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm