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About three o'clock in the morning I was awakened by a tumbling and groaning in the next stall to mine. I rose, and felt my way to the sufferer, thinking that he had a fit. In the dark I put out my hand, and touched a leathern fringe. It belonged to our new passenger. He continued to toss and twist; he got into deadly combat with the wisps of straw under him; I heard him send home three or four well-meant blows with his fist against the side of the stall, and then he muttered in a voice of horror, “Murder | murder! O God, murder!” I caught him by the shoulder, and shook him soundly. As he woke, he felt for his pistol. I held his hand, and explained the facts of the case. “O thank you!” said he; “I sometimes have the nightmare very badly, and then I remember,-O such disagreeable things — everything in fact that I ever saw in my life.” It was broad daylight when I woke the second time. My friend of the next stall had disappeared, and did not join us when we again put ourselves en route. The hail had ceased, but had left a gray, greasy, despondent heaven, and a sullen, sobbing wind. We rode through a sterile country, with distant bluffs of dun sand bounding our plain on either side, till at Midway Station we stopped for breakfast. One of the greatest puzzles of the Plains is their nomenclature. You stop at stations called something “Spring,” and look in vain for anything to drink but stagnant water. When you come to anything “Lake,” you are nearly sure to find no expanse a pig could wallow in. If you discovered a station named Brown's, you might be very sure that no one had ever lived

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there but a family of Johnsons; and there is no bet-
ter Western reason for calling a station Pratt's Hill
than because it is a hollow occupied by Joneses.
We reached Cottonwood at dinner-time, but our
previous experience gave us no encouragement to
alight. We satisfied appetite with canned peaches,
hard tack, and that charmingly portable little fish
which so invariably accompanies Western immigra-
tion that its empty tin coffins are seen scattered
around every station door; and the name for a spin-
dling little fellow, whom the plainsman does not wish
to compliment, is “You Sardine.”
The country around Cottonwood is more undulat-
ing than any we had seen since leaving Comstock's.
For miles both east and west of it, we continually
climbed and descended hills, and passed through a
series of sand cañons, beginning to assume the typ-
ical look of the mountain galleries further west. We
observed projecting from the side of one of these,
the first limestone outcrop we had noticed west of
the Missouri River.
Just west of Cottonwood, the Platte River is
formed by the junction of its north and south forks.
In the neighborhood of the confluence, the land be-
gins rising westward perceptibly. About ten miles
from Cottonwood, I got my first sensation of ascent
toward the Rocky Mountains. There was a solid,
under-braced look in the hills, a firm, resonant qual-
ity to the road, which did not belong to alluvial
bluffs. I felt as if I were standing on the first fold
of the old fire-serpent, who ages ago wriggled him-
self up under the crust, and protruded his flaming
crest in the form of the Rocky Mountain summit.
We continued passing over extensive undulations all


that afternoon, though the harder formations made no visible outcrop. It was just after sunset when we ascended a considerable elevation to the station of Fremont Springs, 29 miles west of Cottonwood and 379 from Atchison. We were now close beside the South Fork of Platte, and thenceforward to Denver, a distance of 274 miles, were hardly ever out of its sight. We stopped here to change horses, and take delicious draughts from the finest spring between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountain snow-peaks. We found it carefully enshrined, as if it were a Greek god; for a clear, cold, living fountain may well demand apotheosis at the lips which have cooled their fever in it in the midst of the journey beside those stagnant pools and that dull, creeping, muddy river, which are the lot of every passenger across the Plains. The station-keeper was faithful to his precious trust; and the crystal water was so well protected under a little house of boards, that neither sun could heat nor impurities sully a single ripple of its ceaseless gayety. It was like a baby's soul cradled in from the world's evil; a joy without reaction, an abandon without danger. It sang temperance lectures without knowing it, inspired in its sleep. It was a homily on good living, a parable of pure-heartedness; without didacticism going straight to the point. People with flat flasks in their breast-pockets felt disgusted at them, and, for miles after we left the spring, could not bear to take its taste out of their mouths. We bade adieu to the beautiful fountain and the little lakes into which it ran on its way to the Platte, all alive with wild ducks, and mirroring the exquisite pink and salmon hues of a beautiful sunset. We rode on twenty-five miles further, to Alkali Lake, where sleep so thoroughly overpowered me that instead of going into the station to take an Overland supper, I threw myself down on the stable straw, and slept a sleep like death, until the driver awakened me by protracted shaking. The sensation of having to get up and go on again, was one of the most miserable I ever knew. After all our experience, I could not learn the trick of sleeping upright in the stage. I kept on the box, and my whole nature fought slumber as if it were a disease. Nor did I ever learn; and but for the necessity of the case summoning up all the Yankee ingenuity which was in me, I believe my comparatively uninitiated constitution would have given out before I got to Denver. I may say, in passing, that Alkali Lake was one of those places, now growing more frequent, where salts of soda and potash exist in nearly saturated solution with stagnant water, or occasional springs, in shallow basins along the banks of the Platte. The Platte itself is not alkaline; yet where the trail runs at any distance from it, emigrant cattle often suffer so much from thirst, that unless great watchfulness is used, they temporarily satiate themselves at the pools before they can be driven to the river, producing a disease of the stomach and intestines, which carries off multitudes of them every summer. The entire road along the South Fork is strewn with bleaching heads, whole skeletons, and putrefying carcasses, which mark the effects of this malady, heat, and overdriving. As for the human passenger, though in most cases his caution prevents him from an injurious gratification of his thirst, he still suffers intensely from the very inhalation of the air carrying alkaline particles. Few

manias, it seems to me, were ever more intense than my longing for pickles, lemons, tamarinds, vinegar, anything which could correct the alkaline excess in my blood. The rest of us suffered nearly as much; and we found that the acid stores which we had used the precaution to bring from the Missouri River were, as long as they lasted, the most invaluable portion of our commissariat. At times I have ridden for twenty miles in a state of absolute wretchedness, with the taste of soda crusting my entire mouth and throat as perceptibly as if I had just taken a teaspoonful of the commercial article. To the traveller on this part of the Platte, canned fruit, the sourer the better, is an absolutely indispensable portion of his outfit. The use of that word “outfit,” is curiously broad upon the Plains. It means as many things as the Italian “roba,” or the French “chose.” It may seem a very natural amplification of significance that this term, originally taken from an emigrant's preparation for the road, should come to be applied to a suit of clothes, or even the ranch which a man had put under cultivation. But it is rather amusing to hear a Durham bull referred to as having rather a short outfit of horns; a mother threatening a refractory child with the worst outfit he ever got in his life ; or a stage-driver saying that he has a big outfit of passengers. I was still more interested to have a man in Colorado tell me of a friend of his who had been living among the Indians, and had come home “with just the prettiest outfit of small-pox that he ever see.” The moon rose late, and was very light. At any other time I might cheerfully have sat up with her. In my present state of feeling, I wondered how poets

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