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The World As I Have Found It / Sequel to Incidents in the Life of a Blind Girl By Mary L. Day Characters: 8181

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


"I love not man the less, but nature more,

From these our interviews, in which I steal

From all I may be, or have been before,

To mingle with the universe, and feel

What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal."

Renewed and refreshed from our long winter rest, with the migration of the birds we winged our way westward, alighting in many a lovely locality in the flourishing State of Iowa, whose soft undulations of prairies were now swelling in billows of gorgeous green, and touched with the varied tints of flowery bloom.

Our last resting place was in Council Bluffs, so celebrated for the grandeur of its location at the foot of the beetling bluffs of the Missouri River, and for its flourishing and progressive spirit, aside from which it holds a place in our historic annals dating back to aboriginal days. When this century was in its early infancy, and the shadowy dawn of our young nation was still wrapt in the mists which enshrouded its first struggling efforts; when the little far-away fur station of Astoria, near the whispering waves of the Pacific coast, held not the mellowing memories of time or the living light with which the genius of an Irving has since invested it; when the great explorers, Lewis and Clarke, were leaving their foot-prints on the land bordering the Columbia River, they held a council with the Red Man at Kanesville, Iowa, ever since known as "Council Bluffs."

Thence we went to Omaha, which is one of the most flourishing places in Nebraska, and from the improvised post-office of early days, the "plug" hat of Mr. Jones, its first post-master, has grown the large distributing office of the department.

It was also a military post and winter garrison for our troops in transitu, its cheerful barracks, well-kept roads and clean parade ground converting it into a favorite drive and walk, where resort many strangers to witness the dress parade of "The Boys in Blue."

The Platte River Valley is well known to most of my readers from its romantic association with the struggles of the vast army of emigrants, who not only braved the dangers of its uncertain fords and deceitful quicksands, but the tomahawk and scalp knife, ofttimes leaving a nameless grave beside its waters; and, were it not for a laughable incident in this connection, I would pass it by unnoticed.

There are so many heroes of the Don Quixote school, who are so brave in fighting wind-mills, who, in time of peace, are "soldiers armed with resolution," but in the real conflict what Shakspeare designates as "soldiers and afeard." There was in our train a young prig, who "played the braggart with his tongue," telling of his brave exploits, like a very Othello recounting the "dangers he passed," ending with a defiant show of how he should act in the event of an attack from marauding Indians, to which the trains were at that time so subject, after which he fell into a profound slumber, resting upon his imaginary laurels. While he slept the train had changed conductors, and it became necessary to see his ticket. This new official passing by, and finding himself unable to arouse the snoring sleeper by ordinary means, gave him a lusty shake, whereupon our hero gave a hideous yell of "Indians! Indians!" his lips quivering and his frame palsied with fear. The sound was so startling that the affrighted passengers imagined themselves for the moment in the merciless grasp of a band of Red Men.

The conductor gave this quaking coward another energetic shake and an imperious demand for "your ticket, sir!" and the quondam man of war "smoothed his wrinkled front," and humbly subsided into a semblance of sleep, while the conductor was no doubt astonished at the loud laughter that followed a brief silence, during which the passengers recovered their composure, and realized the full ludicrousness of the incident. In my experience in life I have met a great many people who were ready to tell what they would have done "had they been there;" but this priggish gascon was the first I had ever seen put to the test, and I believe him to

be a fair sample of that smart class who could, if you take their words for it, have done better on any given occasion than those whom the occasion found "there."

Emerging from the Platte Valley, we realized the fact that we were fairly on our way to the far West, ready to take in with insatiable avidity all the immensity and grandeur of our territorial scenery.

Arriving at Cheyenne, we were surprised to find a comfortable hotel-omnibus in waiting, and most of the concomitants of a metropolis, notwithstanding the oft-expressed surprise and fear of friends at the daring venture of two unprotected women in going alone to this lawless and God-forsaken country.

Alas for the demoralizing influence of so-called civilization! While in the elegant counting-rooms of polished millionaires in more eastern localities we had occasionally met with insults and snubs; in this place of reputed "roughs" we received not one rebuff, and were greeted not merely with respect, but with unbounded generosity. While we found rough diamonds, they were diamonds nevertheless.

Over this city has since swept the tidal wave of reform, and a great temperance awakening evoked by one of the great workers in that movement, Mr. Page, who, with gentle yet royal mandate, has said to the many "troubled waters," with their sad wrecks of human souls-"peace! be still!"

We find it vain to depict by our feeble word-painting the many-hued, many-voiced phases nature assumes in this almost boundless domain, and the yet untold, undeveloped depths of our territorial resources. Mountains looming up in imperial grandeur, their snow-crowned summits melting into cloud and sky; weird ca?ons, in which the whispered words of worship from a myriad devotees seem to echo and re-echo through their dark depths; giant trees:

"The murmuring pines and hemlock,

Bearded with moss and in garments of green,

Indistinct in the twilight,

Stand like Druids of Eld,

With voices sad and prophetic."

Among the many military posts Fort Bridger, named for the famous trapper and guide of oft-written and oft-told fame, is also renowned as one of the posts of our gallant frontier officer, Albert Sydney Johnston, who won his first laurels amid the first Mormon troubles, and gallantly fell at Shiloh early in the Civil War.

Many of the most romantic places have been named for some fair maiden of the pioneer families, as Maggie's Creek, Susan's Valley, etc., while one of the most noted and poetic spots is known as "The Maiden's Grave," the once rude resting place of a gentle girl, whose remains were left there by her mourning friends on their way to their home on the Pacific Slope. It was afterwards found by a party of graders on the railway, and these rough but sympathetic men erected a fitting mausoleum of solid masonry, surmounted by a pure white cross of stone, whose symmetrical proportions are prominently visible to every traveler upon the Union Pacific Railroad.

One of the most interesting objects to me was the "Thousand Mile Tree," whose towering height I could imagine and long to behold as described to me by my companion and friend, its strange isolation sending a peculiar thrill of loneliness through the heart of one who was fifteen hundred miles from home. This old tree, through some strange freak of nature, stood a solitary sentinel, a guide-post of nature to tell the traveler he was a thousand miles from Omaha.

As we neared Weber River our well known and popular conductor came into the cars, and in a voice of deep, rich melody, sang the words of the then favorite song:

"Yes, we will gather at the river.

The beautiful, the beautiful river;

Gather with the Saints at the river,

That flows by the throne of God."

The passengers, as we neared the kingdom of the Saints, catching the magnetism of his song, joined in the sweet refrain until it swelled into a soaring, reverberating harmony.

We reached Ogden City just as the sun was setting in royal hues, and repaired at once to the White House, the only gentile hotel in the place.

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