Indian tribes were in a difficult position. Both the French and the English were trying to get their lands and each seeking to win their alliance against the other. Washington reminded the chiefs that he had their word of honor and so kept them with him.
After receiving the French reply, the party started back home, going as far as possible in canoes. The rivers were swollen and full of ice, making the water-trip extremely dangerous. On Christmas Day, Washington began his long journey home--nearly a thousand miles through almost trackless forests. The horses became so tired that he and Christopher Gist decided to hurry on foot, in advance of the others, to the fork of the Ohio, leaving their horses to be brought later. They tramped several days, camping in the forests at night. An Indian met them and offered to show them a short cut. But he was treacherous and guided them out of their way and tried to shoot them. They escaped, traveling as fast as they could all night and all the next day.
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