Our intrepid heroes are currently heading north on the Missouri River in a "bâtard," which basically is a flat-bottomed boat (2.16.1). Already the water has a thin layer of ice on it.
Glass, being a former buccaneer (the profession, not the football team) had tried to help paddling at first, but his arm proved too ragged. Instead, he's responsible for bailing the boat.
The voyageurs are heavy smokers; they measure distance by how many pipes of tobacco they can smoke traversing from one location to another.
After a few days, the group settles into a routine. A day starts with breakfast before dawn, after which they immediately hit the water. They take a snack break around noon, but don't settle in for camp until close to sunset.
Unfortunately, it's getting cold out, which makes Glass's still-healing wounds ache. Luckily, Glass genuinely enjoys the company of this garrulous and cheery proto-U.N.
The one exception is Charbonneau, who's a bit of a grump. Even he's not too bad, though.
Set your time travel machine forward five days and let 'er rip. The group has just arrived at a "small creek" beside the river and decide to camp for the night (2.16.23).
They all sit around the fire and chill. Dominique and La Vierge partake in their unusual mile-a-minute banter before La Vierge turns his attention to Glass.
La Vierge tells him about the his and his brother's hometown of Contrecoeur and its mystical origin story, which involves a young woman named Isabelle, who received gifts from a magical black stallion. After her family disbelieved her claims, she disappeared into the St. Lawrence River with the horse.
Since that day, the people of Contrecoeur have vowed never to cease their search for Isabelle. And that, La Vierge explains, is why he and his brother have committed their lives to being voyageurs.
While La Vierge is telling this story, Charbonneau is sitting behind some bushes, pooping his grumpy little brains out. Dude's sick.
His intestinal purification complete, Charbonneau returns to camp, talks trash about the Professeur, and rambles about Lewis and Clark like an aging rocker reminiscing about that one time his band opened for Motley Crue. Yeesh.
The rest of the group is annoyed by this display and assigns Charbonneau second watch tonight. Sounds fair to us.
Charbonneau, not wanting to walk away empty-handed, demands that he be allowed to sleep on the boat tonight. This. Guy. Is. The. Worst.