jueves, agosto 17, 2006

Colqhoun's story

Colqhoun: Where? Where am I?
Hart: Fort Spencer, California. Western Sierra Nevadas.
Colqhoun: Excuse me. I'm sorry. My name is Colqhoun. F.W. Colqhoun, servant of God.
Hart: How are you feeling, Mr. Colqhoun?
Colqhoun: Not bad, considering. Probably look like death.
Hart: Not bad, considering. How long were you out there?
Colqhoun: Three months.
Hart: Without food?
Colqhoun: Yes.
Hart: Toffler, help him.
Colqhoun: Good Lord. Good Lord. You should have seen me three months ago. I was thirty pounds heavier.
Hart: I'm sorry, but you did say no food for three months?
Colqhoun: I said no food. I didn't say there was nothing to eat. Understand? Do you understand? I suppose I owe you, gentlemen, a story.
Hart: Only if you feel up to it.
Colqhoun: Yes. We left in April. Six of us in all. Mr. MacCready and his wife, from Ireland. Mr. Janus from Virginia, I believe, with his servant Jones. Myself, I'm from Scotland. And our guide, a military man, coincidentally. A Colonel Ives.
Hart: I don't think I know him.
Colqhoun: The better for you. A detestable man. The most disastrous guide. He professed to know a new, shorter route through the Nevadas. Quite a route that was. Longer than the known one and impossible to travel. We worked very, very hard.
By the time of the first snowfall, we were still one hundred miles from this place. That was November. Proceeding in the snow was futile. We took shelter in a cave. Decided to wait until the storm had passed. But the storm did not pass. The trail soon became impassible and we had run out of food. We ate the oxen, all the horses, even my own dog. And that lasted us about a month. After that we turned to our belts. Shoes. Any roots we could dig up, but you know, there's no real nourishment in those. We remained famished.
The day that Jones died, I was out collecting wood. He had expired of malnourishment. When I returned, the others were cooking his legs for dinner. Would I have stopped it had I been there? I don't know. But I must say, when I stepped inside that cave, the smell of meat cooking... I thanked the Lord. I thanked the Lord.
And then things got out of hand. I ate sparingly. Others did not. The meat did not last us a week, and we were soon hungry again. Only this time our hunger was different. More severe. Savage. And Colonel Ives, particularly, could not be satisfied.
Janus was the first to be killed. And then Mr. MacCready. That left Colonel Ives, MacCready's wife and I alone. And I knew in that company that my days were numbered. I'm ashamed to say that I acted in a most cowardly manner.
It would've been nobler to stay and protect Mrs. MacCready from Ives, but I was weak. I fled. It was nothing less than pure providence that I arrived here.
Hart: Mrs. MacCready, is she still there?
Colqhoun: And Colonel Ives, as far as I know.
Hart: Let's pack up.