The Complete Works of Artemus Ward

第96章

On the 20th we reach Rocky Thomas's justly celebrated station at 5in the morning, and have a breakfast of hashed black-tailed deer, antelope steaks, ham, boiled bear, honey, eggs, coffee, tea, and cream.That was the squarest meal on the road except at Weber.

Mr.Thomas is a Baltimore "slosher," he informed me.I don't know what that is, but he is a good fellow, and gave us a breakfast fir for a lord, emperor, czar, count, &c.A better couldn't be found at Delmonicp's or Parker's.He pressed me to linger with him for a few days and shoot bears.It was with several pangs that Ideclined the generous Baltimorean's invitation.

To Virginia Dale.Weather clear and bright.Virginia Dale is a pretty spot, as it ought to be with such a pretty name; but Itreated with no little scorn the advice of a hunter I met there, who told me to give up "literatoor," form a matrimonial alliance with some squaws, and "settle down thar."Bannock on the brain! That is what is the matter now.Wagon-load after wagon-load of emigrants, bound to the new Idaho gold regions, meet us every hour.Canvas-covered and drawn for the most part by fine large mules, they make a pleasant panorama, as they stretch slowly over the plains and uplands.We strike the South Platte Sunday, 21st, and breakfast at Latham, a station of one-horse proportions.We are now in Colorado ("Pike's Peak"), and we diverge from the main route here and visit the flourishing and beautiful city of Denver.Messrs, Langrish & Dougherty, who have so long and so admirably catered to the amusement lovers of the Far West, kindly withdrew their dramatic corps for a night, and allow me to use their pretty little theatre.

We go to the mountains from Denver, visiting the celebrated gold-mining towns of Black Hawk and Central City.I leave this queen of all the territories, quite firmly believing that its future is to be no less brilliant than its past has been.

I had almost forgotten to mention that on the way from Latham to Denver Dr.Hingston and Dr.Seaton (late a highly admired physician and surgeon in Kentucky, and now a prosperous gold miner) had a learned discussion as to the formation of the membranes of the human stomach, in which they used words that were over a foot long by actual measurement.I have never heard such splendid words in my life; but such were their grandiloquent profundity, and their far-reaching lucidity, that I understood rather less about it when they had finished than I did when they commenced.

....

Back to Latham again over a marshy road, and on to Nebraska by the main stage-line.

I meet Col.Chivington, commander of the district of Colorado, at Latham.

Col.Chivington is a Methodist clergyman, and was once a presiding elder.A thoughtful, earnest man, an eloquent preacher, a sincere believer in the war, he, of course brings to his new position a great deal of enthusiasm.This, with his natural military tact, makes him an officer of rare ability; and on more occasions than one he has led his troops against the enemy with resistless skill and gallantry.I take the liberty of calling the President's attention to the fact that this brave man ought to have long ago been a brigadier-general.

Col.Chivington vanquished the rebels with his brave Colorado troops, in New Mexico last year, as most people know.At the commencement of the action, which was hotly contested, a shell from the enemy exploded near him, tearing up the ground, and causing Captain Rogers to swear in an awful manner.

"Captain Rogers," said the Colonel, " gentlemen do not swear on a solemn occasion like this.We may fall, but falling in a glorious cause, let us die as Christians, not as rowdies, with oaths upon our lips.Captain Rogers, let us -"Another shell, a sprightlier one than its predecessor, tears the earth fearfully in the immediate vicinity of Col.Chivington, filling his eyes with dirt and knocking off his hat.

"Why, G- d- Their souls to h- ," he roared, "they've put my eyes out- AS CAPTAIN ROGERS WOULD SAY!"But the Colonel's eyes were not seriously damaged, and he went in.

Went in, and came out victorious.

....

We reach Julesberg, Colorado, the 1st of March.We are in the country of the Sioux Indians now, and encounter them by the hundred.A Chief offers to sell me his daughter (a fair young Indian maiden) for six dollars and two quarts of whisky.I decline to trade.

Meals which have hitherto been 1 dol.Are now 75 cents.Eggs appear on the table occasionally, and we hear of chickens farther on.Nine miles from here we enter Nebraska territory.Here is an occasionally fenced farm, and the ranches have bar-rooms.Buffalo skins and buffalo tongues are on sale at most of the stations.We reach South Platte on the 2d, and Fort Kearney on the 3d.The 7th Iowa Calvary are here, under the command of Captain Wood.At Cottonwood, a days ride back, we had taken aboard Major O'Brien, commanding the troops there, and a jovial warrior he is, too.

Meals are now down to 50 cents, and a good deal better than when they were 1 dol.

KANSAS, 105 miles from Atchison.Atchison! No traveller by sea ever longed to set his foot on shore as we longed to reach the end of our dreary coach-ride over the wildest part of the whole continent.How we talked Atchison, and dreamed Atchison, for the next fifty hours! Atchison, I shall always love you.You were evidently mistaken, Atchison, when you told me that in case I"lectured" there, immense crowds would throng to the hall; but you are very dear to me.Let me kiss you for your maternal parent!

We are passing through the reservation of the Otoe Indians, who long ago washed the war-paint from their faces, buried the tomahawk, and settled down into quiet, prosperous farmers.

....

We rattle leisurely into Atchison on a Sunday evening.Lights gleam in the windows of milk-white churches, and they tell us, far better than anything else could, that we are back to civilization again.

Artemus Ward

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