By Don. A Berry
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Extra info for A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company
The completed party was—to put it charitably—somewhat various in composition. " Ashley outfitted two keelboats, the Yellow Stone Packet and The Rocky Mountains, which left St. Louis on March 10, 1823. There was no accompanying land party. Ashley was planning to buy horses and dispatch an overland group at the Aricara villages. A man approaching the Aricaras would probably be doing a little fast figuring, in the wistful hope of being able to predict his reception. To recapitulate their record brielly: 1804 and l806—friendly to Lewis and Clark; 1807—hostile to a party under Manuel Lisa of Missouri Fur; 1811—hospitable to the Astorians; 1816—attacked a party of whites; 1820—attacked and robbed two Missouri Fur Company posts; l822—very friendly to Missouri Fur Company President, Joshua Pilcher, and to Ashley himself.
At the winter camp, so the story goes, Carpenter and Fink got into a brawl (which is likely) over a woman (which is not; there were none around). It was made up, but broke out afresh when they returned to the Yellowstone fort the next spring. Made up again; in testimony of their friendship, Fink proposed that he and Carpenter resume one of their old friendly games, one shooting a cup of whiskey off the other’s head. A flip of the coin decides Fink shall have first shot; Carpenter informs Talbot he is about to die, marches bravely out to face Fink.
He went, accompanied, by the experienced interpreter Edward Rose. When they arrived at Bear's lodge they found several other Aricara chiefs waiting for them. All were markedly friendly, and whatever suspicions Ashley may have had were apparently dispelled by their actions. The conference was short, and the general returned to his boat in the evening. Somewhere about this time Rose advised Ashley that the Aricara, despite peaceful appearances, were drumming up trouble. The general, however, chose to disregard the interpreter’s advice.