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concentration of sense in their mouths and noses, and no very clear idea of the system on which their legs were planned; but they have a slight suggestion of their future hump, and a certain spunkiness of demeanor, which, to the close observer, bound them off from the common calf. Their coats, too, are rougher than his, and show symptoms of coming curl; but they are of a reddish-brown color, which is not uncommon in our barn-yards. Punctually at the expected time, our stage came along, and, to our great satisfaction, contained only a couple of passengers. Our dreams of luxurious space were rudely disturbed by the appearance, while we were dining, of the coach from Omaha, which here intersects the main Overland road, with a cargo of passengers mostly intending to keep on further west, and clamorous for their shares in our vehicle. After protracted negotiation, we compromised by receiving two of the new lot, who, with our party of four and the original occupants, crowded us into wretchedly tight quarters. - For the thirty-six miles to Plum Creek station, the road continued to run through a country of only less aridity than preceded our entrance to Fort Kearney. The only spots of brightness on the dreary waste of sand and gramma were the crimson flowers of the ground-poppy, which afford such diversified beauty to the Plains about the Little Blue, and which here fought for a bare existence with the thickening myriads of cacti, bursting up between the spikes and saffron-colored blossoms of the latter, like flames twinkling among pale cinders. Again we went pattering out into the twilight, behind fresh relays. About nine o'clock, the moon rose

among a swarm of small straggling clouds. About eight miles from Plum Creek, her light fell on a broad encampment of Sioux, silvering the dingy skins and occasional canvas of the smoky tépis into something like the Fenimore Cooper romance of Indian life. I could not help thinking that part of this illusion was owing to the early habits of the savage, which prevented any Indians from being in sight. It would take a good deal of moonlight to make an Indian look romantic. About the tents were a herd of picturesque, ewe-necked horses, feeding at their ease on the short, dry herbage, and showing their sides, mottled with the spots which characterize what we at the East call a “circus-horse,” — still odder in the broad moonlight. Just as we passed the last tent, a strange figure burst through the narrow slit in it used as a doorway, and hailed our driver, who stopped for him, and took him on the box. He wore a handsome buckskin hunting-blouse, profusely embroidered and dangling with leather tags, a low slouch hat, and a beaded belt, from which peeped the butt of a six-shooter. His complexion was so bronzed, and his hair so long and black, that until I had looked him full in the face, and heard him speak, I took him for a Sioux. He was a white man,— or white as a man can be who has lived much with the Indians of the Plains, – and had in his countenance one of the most singular mixtures of good-fellowship and desperadoism that I ever saw. I should have liked to see him on my side in a Plains fight, and been sorry to think he was on the other; but there was an Iago quality in his restless black eyes and the iciness of his laugh, which must have made any student of human nature uncomfortable in a protracted acquaintance with him among lonely surroundings. About eleven o'clock, when we were about half a mile from the station called Willow Island, the moon became as suddenly obscured as if she had been put out with an extinguisher. The clouds grew inky black, and simultaneously the wind rose to a tempest. I never saw in my life such dispatch in getting up a storm. Another minute, and the clouds were pelting down on us hailstones as large as musket-balls. The mules became frightened, and plunged furiously. It was too black to see the heads of the leaders, but there was nothing to be done except advance; so by coaxing, cursing, and whipping, the driver finally persuaded the team to take us as far as the station. We jumped down from the box, and in the dark, after imminent danger from the hoofs of the madly kicking wheel-mules, managed to unhook the traces instead of cutting them, as we had contemplated the necessity of doing. It will seem almost incredible to anybody who has not seen a hailstorm on the Platte; but after we had got the team loose, and were standing by their heads, while the inside passengers used up half a box of matches in getting the lanterns lighted, the stage heavy with mails, seven inside passengers, and all their baggage, was forcibly blown back by the wind a distance of several yards. I could compare its effect on myself only to having a stable door pressed steadily against my person; and if I had not held on by one of the most obstinate of nature's animals, I should have been sent scurrying out of sight in the direction of Fort Kearney. Just as our patience began to give out under the buffets of the wind and the sound whipping of the hail, our friend in the buckskin made his voice heard through the roar, and a stable-keeper appeared with a light, which was instantly put out. By this time our lanterns were lighted, and we managed to get our mules into their stalls without any accident more serious than a graze on one of the shins belonging to our driver. It was quite out of reason to attempt going on in such a tempest. Accordingly we let our relays stay in the stable, and went back to tell the insides, penned into darkness and uncertainty by tightly buttoned carriage leathers, that we had concluded, after the manner of the Connecticut River mate, “to anchor our end of the schooner.” This seemed to meet as much approbation as they had to expend upon anything under the circumstances. They resigned themselves to an upright sleep against the straps and cushions, while we, who had still enough wakefulness in our legs to hunt up something better, betook ourselves to the stable, and lay down on clean straw in some empty stalls. I blessed the hailstorm which was pelting outside, for it had given me a chance to stretch myself. Dearest opportunity to the overlander I have known hours when I speculated curiously on the torture of the rack, and wondered how the old martyrs could have found it so disagreeable. Certainly it seemed to me that any amount of relaxation could not be so painful as that sense of being shortened up, driven in, and clinched on the other side, which results from twenty-four hours' constancy to a bent position. I accordingly welcomed the chance of extending myself on the Willow Island straw, with a delight which would have scarcely been lessened, had the bare boards been substituted as a


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