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haw, the Cheyenne, the Digger," and any more impressibility than a Turk, can the Lord only knows how many more smoke all the time. My restlessness was tribes of Indians, nor held a pow-wow undoubtedly increased by the knowledge with these unsophisticated aboriginals ;
of the fact that there were other encampand my long cherished purpose to do this ments, in my immediate vicinity, of fellowmust be gratified. Besides, I wished to travellers wending their way Californiashake hands with my friend Brigham ward, on the same graceless errand with Young, and get a peep into his Harem myself, who had also been admonished to not knowing but the sight of the sacred secure quarters for the night before the plates, or of some Mormon beauty, might storm broke upon them. I had formed convert me to the latter revelations, and the acquaintance of some of them, in the salt me down on the borders of the great excursions which I was accustoined to lake of that name.
make from my own party, on horseback, But, whatever brought me there—there in search of amusement, and of the I was, on the aforesaid 20th, in the desert, “ variety which is the spice of life,” espeabout a day's journey from New Fort cially on such a journey. The previous Kearney, on the military route to Oregon, day I had thus fallen in with a Dr. C -e, and about three hundred miles from my of St. Louis, and his amiable and accomstarting point on the Missouri River. I
plished lady, who were braving the fawas well equipped for such a journey. tigues of a journey across lots” to San A light carriage, drawn by two thorough- Francisco, where I trust he is now reapbreds, which as yet had shown no diminu ing a rich harvest of professional success. tion of mettle or bottom, led the way. His tent I supposed to be about a mile This was a regular multum in parvo, from my own, and I pined for the society constructed after a plan of my own, at I had found so congenial. So, encasing considerable expense, and was provided myself in an India Rubber suit, and paywith appliances of comfort, means of de ing no heed to the warnings of my comfence, and sources of amusement, that panions, or the still, small voice of prewould make the uninitiated wonder. Not sentiment in my own breast, I set out on a square inch of its interior but was hung foot for the Doctor's. The ground over with munitions of war, fishing tackle, which I had to pass was undulating and books, &c. &c., not omitting all the essen broken, and meeting several ravines filled tials to a dear lover of the weed-alas! with stagnant water, I was compelled to all destined, with the exception of my make quite a detour in order to reach his splendid meerschaum, -now hanging in camp. I found my friends "at home,” triumph over the mantel,-vehicle, and all, and was received with a most cordial to lie scattered in fragmentary confusion welcome and graceful hospitality. along the route. A large, four horse The evening passed away rapidly, in caravan-looking wagon, filled with pro familiar and pleasant talk about home and vender for man and beast, cooking uten friends, our mutual adventures and future sils, bedding, &c., followed. Besides these prospects, and afforded a social enjoyment I had some spare animals for the saddle, of which civilized balls, routs and reand to supply the places of any which unions can give but a faint idea. The inmight give out. My companions were creasing storm, however, which made three active and hardy sons of the West, itself heard above our cheerful voices, and whom I had engaged to go with me for which shook with violence our frail cansaid and comfort."
opy, admonished me that it was time to The day had been cold and disagreeable; return to my own camp, if I designed to and warned by the black and lowering go at all that night. My friends urged me sky, and the gathering clouds, which por to stay; but, as a person occupies more tended a coming storm, I concluded to space lying down than sitting up, I doubtstop some time before the approach of even cd the feasibility of the project, as there was ing. My tent was therefore pitched, and no peg to hang on, or post to lean against. every thing made secure for the night, the So I said, “ no, I thank you,” with a most horses turned out, and our hearty meal determined tone, though not without of bacon and hard bread concluded. It some little faintness of heart, and sallied was not yet dark, when an infatuated forth upon the invisible expanse. Oh, desire of passing an evening out” began and such a night! It was darker than to possess me. The monotony of the Erebus and Egypt together. The wind was journey had become somewhat oppres blowing in fierce and fitful gusts, the rain sive; my internal resources had begun to pouring down in torrents. Altogether, it fail; Shakespeare did not seem quite so was as fearful a storm and as uncomfortoriginal as usual; and no one, who has able a night as had ever fallen within the
range of my experience in different quar After several ineffectual attempts, which ters of the globe. Few pedestrians would resulted in a mortifying failure, and which willingly encounter the fury of such a considerably damped my courage and storm even in the streets of a great city. pantaloons, I at length succeeded in reach
On first emerging from the shelter of ing terra firma; and there I was—lost a good tent, I was saluted by a blast of consciously, as I had been before in realwind and rain that actually staggered me, ity-my pride all gone—and my courage and drove me temporarily back. My hos oozing, with the water, out of my dripping pitable friends then absolutely insisted . garments. Need I be ashamed to own upon it that I should pass the night with it ? I bellowed most lustily for assistthem. It would be a suicidal tempting ance; ringing reiterated changes upon of Providence, they said, to think of reach help! fire! murder! and all the similar ing my camp, and I would certainly lose exclamations which have been canonized my way. But a foolish feeling of pride in the use of respectable distressed perwould not allow me to listen to their press sons since the invention of our mother ing entreaties or warning remonstrances. tongue. I was an old sailor, I told them, and my I knew that there were camps not very nautical experience would enable me to far distant, and had a slight hope that find my way, especially as I had carefully the occupants of some one of them might noted the direction of the wind as I came hear me. But the hope was vain. Though along. Besides, I thought it was not alto I called—nay, even howled—“they angether improbable that a stampede of my swered not again." At length, to my inown animals might take place on so tem expressible relief I heard, as I supposed, pestuous a night-in which case I should the whining of a dog. Was it indeed be sorry to be absent. Alas! how little I this? or did my ears deceive me? Nodreamed of the suffering and anguish in the lull of the storm, I heard it yet more which my reckless self-confidence and distinctly. In such a place, on such a foolish conceit of my own skill were to night, the bark of “mine enemy's dog, cause me!
though he had bit me,” would have “Let him who wanders by a devious way,
seemed friendly, and I followed the sound. Look to his reckoning-or wide astray
As I advanced, however, it appeared to IIis barque may veer on peril's fatal track."
recede, until a growl that I well underThe Doctor, finding that I would not be stood filled me with consternation. The persuaded, held a lantern for me at the audible ignis fatuus that I had been purentrance of his tent, that I might occasion suing was a prairie wolf. I knew well ally look back and take my "departure" that this animal seldom, if ever, made an from it. So I wrapped yet closer my attack upon a man, except when renponcho about me, and set forth on my dered desperate by hunger; but still, to perilous journey with a stout heart and a a lost traveller, in the midst of Egyptian cheerful “good night.” I designed to darkness, and in such a lonely and strange keep the wind about “two points on the spot, wolf-tones are calculated to create starboard quarter
my nose, but I
any thing but agreeable sensations, espewas obliged to deviate from a straight cially when he is familiar with veracious line to avoid the gulches of which I have accounts of their chasing Russian sledgebefore spoken, which soon caused me to drivers and tasting their quality. lose sight of the cheering and guiding There was no hope of rescue for the light behind, and I had no other resource night, and the only thing that remained than to keep on to the best of my judg to me was to make myself as comfortable ment, though I could not help the grow as I could, where I was, until morning. ing feeling that I was decidedly " in for I sat down, made a sort of marquée tent it.” As I was walking along at as rapid of my poncho, by drawing it over my a gait as was consistent with proper cau head and putting my arms a-kimbo, tion, I suddenly felt the earth crumbling pulled out from the capacious pockets of beneath my feet, and, before I could re my large vest, made expressly for this cover myself
, was precipitated some fif- journey, the inseparable companion of all teen feet down a ravine, and landed in a my excursions, mine incomparable meerditch, the water of which was nearly to schaum (I had it "jury-rigged” at such my waist when standing up, which was times, as the long, Weichsel stem was innot exactly my position when I touched convenient to carry), some tobacco, and a bottom. I came down with a perfect bunch of matches which were well profacility—but to scramble up the steep and tected from the water, and soon surslippery bank, like the ascent from a more rounded myself with the comforts of an classic region—hic labor, hoc opus fuit. Irish cabin, the pleasant volume rolling
up, as if intimating the speechless grati endeavored to find the road by pursuing tude of the smoker.
a zigzag, Virginia rail-fence sort of a Fitz-Boodle in enumerating the various course; going two or three miles in one times when a good cigar is most consoling direction, and then striking off from it, at
_" after a hard day's sport, or a day a greater or less angle, in another. I spent indoors, or after a good dinner, or walked in this way several hours, but all a bad one, or at night when you are tired, to no purpose. During the whole time I or in the morning when you are fresh, or had been observing carefully the ground, of a cold winter's day, or of a scorching if perchance I might discover the imprint summer's afternoon, or—at any other of a hoof, a broken twig, or any sign of moment you choose to fix upon
the grass having been fed—but not a solipassed such a night as I did, amid the tary vestige could I perceive of living wild waste of such a wilderness, or his thing. “confessions” on this subject would have Then it was, for the very first time, been more specific.
that the thought flashed like lightning After sitting till my limbs were chilled
across my mind, in all its terrible distinct and stiff, I would get up and walk about, ness and significance, that I might fail to in as near a geometrical circle as I could find the road, and perish from hunger. describe, so as not to wander far from my Great God! what mental agony this position, and then sit down again, light caused me! I had a full sense of the danmy pipe afresh, and with the aid of the
ger of my situation, and felt that I must same match (for a prophetic economy was summon all my energies for a desperate stealing over me) look to my watch, in effort to save myself. My clothes were utter astonishment that the long hours I heavy; so I took off my coat, trowsers, supposed had passed were hardly a short boots, which were very thick, and stockhalf one.
Sages are supposed to see ings, and threw them away. I could not charms in the face of solitude; but afford to be encumbered and have my prothey would have found it very difficult to gress impeded by superfluous weight, for see any if they had been in my place, was I not running a race against time, and and they certainly would have preferred was not dear life the stake! “the alarms” of any habitable part of the I would have thrown away my moncy globe to the “rain in that horrible place.” belt, containing a few hundred dollars in Men have been known to moralize under gold, merely to be relieved of its weight; the gallows-my peril, though without but my experience, even among New Zcashame, was little less—and I moralized. land cannibals, had taught me that gold I thought to myself what a devout char has a magic charm for the savage as well latan in sentiment Cowper was, and won as the white man, and that it is awkward dered whether he would have been willing to find one's self minus, not only in the to be "shut out from all noise and heart of a great city, but even in the midst rumors of the world,” in the same man of the desert of Sahara. I accelerated my ner that I was.
pace almost to a run, and giving up as The wearisome night at length wore futile all attempts to find the road, I away. The violence of the storm had
started anew, with the determination to abated, but there was a drizzling rain and proceed to the Platte River, and follow up a thick fog, and I dared not move from its windings to the Fort. The sun all my tracks. I waited as patiently as I could this time « disdained to shine,” and my for several hours, but as the fog did not only guide was the wind, which I judged light up any, I again attempted to find from its keenness to be blowing from the the camp, though without success. North—though I learned by subsequent
I must have wandered far from my inquiry, from the Surgeon of the Fort, right course during the night, in my per who kept meteorological tables, that the ambulations to keep warm, as I could dis wind had been East, which at that season cover no trace of the road or the camp, of the year is colder than one coming from and no answer came back to my repeated the North. I had a general idea of the shouts. I then began to feel seriously geography of the country, and of the relauneasy. I knew my own men would not tive course of the river and the road, and wait for me. My positive instructions to hoped—though it was but a hope—that I them were always to harness up in the might be able to reach the former. morning and "move on,” if I did not I had not gone far before I came to a deep make my appearance at breakfast, as I valley, a most wild and sequestered spotwas sometimes absent from the camp over probably never before trodden by the foot night, and I knew that the different com of a white man. It was, as near as I could panies must have all passed on. I then judge, about five miles in diameter, and
environed by high bluffs. This was liter vation-alone, without the presence even ally covered with buffalo bones through of an enemy to connect me with my raceits whole extent, and was evidently a spot the thought was insupportable! I tried where these animals were in the habit of to banish it, but in vain! The ghost gathering in the fall, before their usual which my excited fancy had conjured up period for migrating to the South, and would not down at my bidding. In a where, tempted by the late grass and paroxysm of despair, without thought, sheltering hills which shut out the bleak without settled purpose, hardly knowing winds, they had been hemmed in by thou what I did, I grasped my pistol, cocked sands, until the severity of the winter it, put the muzzle to my head and pulled warned them to leare; when the deep the trigger; but it had been filled snows in the passes prevented their egress, with water, and I was saved from an act and they must have perished from hunger abhorrent to my principles and feelings, and cold-leaving their bones to whiten and upon which-though almost involunthere in the sun and rain.
tary-I cannot look back without a shud“A ghastly place of sepulclire—where yet no human
der of remorse. I could not but regard
it as an interposition of Providence in my Perchance had pillowed.”
behalf, and feelings of gratitude and subNo language can give any idea of the mission filled my heart. Thoughts of fearful desolation of the place. It filled loved ones at home came stealing over my heart with a nameless dread. I could me, and I breathed an earnest prayer for think of nothing but the valley seen in their happiness. The bitterness of anguish prophetic vision, and I almost expected to was gone, and a delicious feeling of calm hear the awful voice breaking upon the and resignation succeeded. The touching solitude—“Can these dry bones live ? " inonody of the poet kept vibrating in my My course lay directly across the valley, memory and even rising to my lips. and hardly looking around me, I ran at
"I could lie down like a tired child, full speed, without stopping, till I had And weep away the life of care passed it, which I must have done in an
Which I have borne, and yet must bear,
Till denth, like sleep, might steal on me, almost incredibly short space of time. I And I might feel in the warm air continued my way, walking and running, My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea as fast as I could, guided only by the
Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony." wind, which must have actually veered But the ground was very damp, the rain all round the compass; for, after travelling was pelting, and the air quite cold, and I what seemed to me about twenty miles, soon awoke again to the full consciousness to my inexpressible horror, there lay be of the fearful dangers which environed fore me the valley of bones, and what me, and the necessity and duty of making was worse, I found that I had come back one last, resolute effort for self-preservaagain to within a hundred yards of the tion. So I arose, took out my ivory tablets, spot whence I had started, which I readily pencilled a few lines of kind remembrance identified by a singular collection of bones and farewell to my family, in the faint I had stopped to examine when speculat- hope that if exhausted nature should fail, ing upon the anatomy of the buffalo in and I should perish on the way, perchance the morning:
some stranger might find my mouldering My fatiguing journey of hours had been remains; and then addressed myself anew, lost. My heart now fairly sank within if not with hope yet with a stern courage, me, despair stared me in the face, and I to my toilsome journey. I found myself, threw myself upon the ground in a bitter however, exceedingly lame-my feet were ness of soul too deep for tears. llere, blistered, and full of briers and the thorns then, thought I, is to be my final resting of the prickly pear over which I had been place ! In this great charnel house of the walking all day, and I could not make wilderness, my bones are destined to great progress. Night soon overtook me, moulder without sepulture! Oh, if I but it was of no use to stop, and I kept could but perish in some fierce encounter on-on-on-like the Wandering Jew, with man or beast, or in some desperate through the long and dreary hours of struggle with the elements, it would be that memorable night, watching the some relief! If a savage Indian would rise heavens, with the utmost intentness, for up before me, tomahawk in hand and a single star to send a ray of light through yelling his startling war-whoop, how the gloomy and funeral pall that overgrateful would be the sight, and how hung me, to guide me on my way. gladly would I grapple with him in the I have kept some wearisome watches death struggle! But to die like a dog in my life—one of four hours at midnight a lingering death of exhaustion and star off the pitch of Cape Horn, on the lee yard
arm, trying to furl a frozen and refractory sail, with the driving sleet cutting my face and hands till the blood came—and another, I well remember, of a long day in a shattered boat on the desolate coast of Kamschatka, our ship hull down to lecward, when three of my companions perished, one after another, of cold and exhaustion, before we were picked up—but never a watch like that of this fearful night! Eternities of thought seemed to crowd into the space of its few brief hours.
Morning, though long delayed, at length came; and still rain, rain, fog, fog—there was no “lodge in this vast wilderness," but what “a boundless contiguity of shade !” enough to have satisfied the most ardent aspirations of any poet of solitude. Every thing was dreary and desolate, and gave no hope of better weather. Still the light of day, though dim, was pleasant and my courage somewhat revived. As I trudged along I tried to relieve the tedium by calling to mind passages from my favorite authors, especially those applicable to my condition. “Never say die,” was often on my lips. I recollected, too, that while there's life there's hope," and I blessed the memory of Pope for the sentiment, “hope springs eternal in the human breast”—but then the striking passage “hope deferred maketh the heart sick," would obtrude itself on my thoughts. However, I consoled myself with the reflection that the quotations were three to one in my favor, and accepted it as an omen of my chances.
I had not, as yet, eaten any thing except a few mushrooms, and a sort of wild peapod I had gathered as I walked along, and these not to satisfy my hunger; for, strange to say, I felt no craving for food; but because I knew that nature needed sustenance, and that my strength could not hold out without it. I did not know whether the pea-pods were poisonous or not; and to tell the truth, at first I did not much care, and rather hoped they were, preferring a death by poison to one of starvation. I afterwards ascertained that they were perfectly harmless and not without nutriment. The water I greedily drank from stagnant pools was sweeter to my taste than the clearest spring, or the most delicious drinks, which the ingenuity of man has concocted, ever were to me before. During this day I saw an elk, a few antelopes, some score of wolves, to say nothing of plover and small game; one of the antelopes came within half á pistol shot of me, but I had no weapon to molest him. The timid animal seemed
aware of the fact, for he gazed at me with an air of wonder, and, on my nearer approach, snuffed the air quite unconcernedly, and moved off very much at his leisure,
The agitation of my mind and the excitement of my situation not only rendered me insensible to hunger, but also to pain and almost to fatigue. I felt the strength of a giant, and longed for some occasion to exercise it. At one time, in my reckless and defiant mood, I gave chase to a gaunt wolf which crossed my path, and followed him to his hole, at the entrance of which I waited for some time, in the hope that he would come forth, and that I might grapple him with iny naked hands. I could have torn him limb from limb, and drank up his warm life-blood with a savage joy. With the fear of starvation and the prospect of a lingering death before me, I should have been endowed with superhuman strength for the conflict. The instinct of the brute, perhaps, taught him that I was an enemy not to be trifled with, and acting on the principle that discretion is the better part of valor, he refused to come out; after giving him a reasonable opportunity to do so,
I “moved on.' The day passed without any incident worthy of mention. The face of the country through which I passed was very striking, and exceedingly lonesome. It somewhat resembled a vast rolling prairie, though the elevations were more distinct and irregular-rising in fact into high bluffs, bleak and bare, which seemed to hem me in on every side. There were no wooded spots, and not even a solitary tree appeared to relieve the eye or break the monotony of the scene. When I had toiled up one ascent in the hope of gaining a more extended prospect from the summit, perhaps of seeing tho termination of the prairie, still another bluff, seemingly higher than the one I stood upon, rose up before me, and so on in an apparently endless succession. I walked with great rapidity, making only the short delays I have mentioned, alternating between hope and anxiety, though on the whole I kept up as stout a heart as could be expected under the circumstances, and this enabled ine to make a progress which, doubtless, was the means of my ultimate salvation.
As the day declined, the heavy clouds began to roll away and the sky became lighter. At length the disc of the sun faintly showed itself, for a moment, through the intervening cloud and mist, just above the edge of the horizon, and