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could ever have lingered out of bed long enough to write about her. A pumpkin cart full of moons, reinforced by a Barnum's museum of nightingales, would not have been the least inducement to a man in my situation. We emerged from the hilly country we had been travelling since the middle of the afternoon, and came out upon a sterile-looking plain of sand and buffalo-grass, which resembled the country about Fort Kearney. It was after midnight when we reached Diamond Springs, a station four hundred and twentyseven miles from Atchison, and another of the topographical misnomers before referred to, possessing, so far as I could discover, as little that was valuable in the way of springs as of diamonds.
It had, however, its uses to me. It meant bed. My mind was made up, that is to say, what mind I had left. It all rallied to the final support of my life's now one remaining idea. I jumped down from the box, stuck my head inside the leathers, and woke my friends from the miserable cat-nap they were indulging, to bid them good-night till we met in Denver. They were too sleepy to be much surprised, and plead with great moderation for my continuance on the vehicle of torture. As for myself, I did not wait to see the horses change, but tumbled as well as I was able into the station-house, and was stretched on a bunk under my camp-blankets beside a sleeping stable-keeper before the wheels rolled away.
It was eight o'clock in the morning before I awoke. I think I never slept so much or of so excellent a quality in the same time. I was a new man when I stood on my feet, and the idea of breakfast began to dawn in on me like a dissolving view, replacing that of bed.
After breakfast, which was made a little more luxurious than the usual Overland meal by the addition of some very nice Indian meal flapjacks, I posted up my journal, and then went forth to survey the land. Trenck amused himself with spiders, and in “Le dernier Jour d'un Condamné” much food for meditation existed within four stone walls. The human eye is a wonderfully adjustable instrument, becoming a telescope for broad generalizations, and a microscope for details. I brought mine to the latter focus, and went hunting for objects of interest over a tract which more perfectly represented Platitude and Inanity, reduced to their geographical terms, than anything east of the Goshoot Desert. I dwell on this Thohu Wa-vohu a little longer because, if I can at all approach its painting in words, I shall have succeeded in conveying to my readers an idea of the sand and gramma plains skirting the South Platte, better than any which could be rendered by an engraving. I emerge from a one-story house of logs, fifty feet long, fifteen broad, twenty feet to the roof-peak. It has no pretense of a fence, but a corral about a hundred feet west incloses a barn and two company stables. In front of me stretches a waste of sand, midway in color between an ash-heap and the Rockaway Beach, illimitably flat to the east and west, bounded on the southern horizon by a range of equally gloomy bluffs, which may be six miles off, and a hundred feet high. In all the view is no tree, no vegetation of any kind which a grown man would not have to stoop to touch, no living thing or sign of any; for the very antelope, which usually put a locomotive spot of interest somewhere on such voids, had retired out of sight into the ravines of the bluff Behind me, a hundred steps to the north, crept the Platte River, here apparently confined to a single channel about three hundred yards wide. It sneaks along between low banks, like an assassin river going to drown somebody. It does not woo or cajole; it is a murderer who has lived past the arts of fascination; a cruel courtesan, old, wrinkled, hateful, too life-weary to think of pleasing, yet loving to kill. And it has killed. It has proffered fords, and given quicksands; it has engulfed in its treacherous bottom horse, rider, wagon, herd, all that was trusted to it. Fascinated by its ugliness and the story of its crimes, I come close to its edge. The oozy paste of loam which banks it curves glibly away from under my feet, and I am in the water before I know it. It is well I have not slipped off in a dark night, or how the greasy mud and the dribbling sand would toy with my fingers, and let me slip easily away ! I scramble up the bank by main force with a shudder. I was longing for a bath—had meant to try the Platte, though the ranchmen had informed me that it was only kneedeep, save in holes; but I gave up the idea on looking at that water-fiend, a Lorelei, with all her treachery remaining, and all her graces gone. There is another reason why I should not go in. Across the desert waste from the southerly bluffs a torrid wind is blowing ten knots an hour. It is like a hot blast of the Cyclops' furnace escaping above ground. It comes so freighted with microscopic sandgrains that it is not as much the old school definition of wind—“air,” as it is earth “in motion.” I have been out five minutes, and there is not a pore of my body which it has not stopped. I feel dry and caustic, a sort of mineral deposit rather than a fleshly man. If I went into the Platte, I should be stuccoed like a cheap country seat before I could use a towel. The river, too, is as bad as the air. It is a saturated solution of sand; a gray sirup of silex, which drops dust on your hand wherever you stop a ripple. The Platte is never entirely dry in the usual sense; but what river can be rationally drier than this, which is composed, one particle in ten, of the driest thing on the globe 2 Let me take stock of this pathless waste before me. When they are right under my feet, I can see the cork-screw curls of the gray gramma. I walk a little further, and begin to make distinctions. Everything is gray, but not all of it is gramma. A little furzy plant, the undersides of its leaves covered with a dry down that rubs to powder between the fingers, of name unknown, but resembling the artemisias; a true artemisia, from six to eighteen inches high, also woolly; a single spot of orange color as large as a half-dime, seeming to be a poor relation of the marigolds; a stinted sunflower; a few sickly cactuses; this is the vegetable inventory. The beautiful groundpoppy, and all other flowers which might enliven a landscape, had entirely disappeared. Despite the nakedness of the land, it swarmed with ants, whose industry was manifest in cones a foot high, though it was impossible to see any practical application for it in the shape of food asking storage. The same famine supported myriads of cheery grasshoppers, with red wings and legs, which made them, when they flew, the only bright objects in the landscape. A reddish-brown species of cricket also abounded, its size averaging a little larger than our black insect of the States. Here is the animal inventory. I looked for lizards, and found none, though they may only have retired to private apartments in a temporary fit of disgust at their situation, since it seems almost inconceivable that some member of the family should not exist in so congenial a habitat. I was disappointed more especially not to find the horned toad, so called. A friend of mine in a Western expedition had discovered it on the Plains of the North Platte, considerably east of Fort Laramie; but we saw none in our present journey until within a day's ride of the Rocky Mountain Watershed, though repeatedly passing over tracts where they might reasonably be looked for. That night the wind blew more violently, if possible, than it had at Willow Island. The ranch-house rocked under it, and such tempests of sand came flying with it, that every crevice of the walls streamed with little jets, and every object that lay untouched for an hour was powdered half an inch deep. The air was intensely dry and irritating. At sundown it began to thunder and lighten. The flash and roar soon became almost continuous, and remained so till after midnight. With all this commotion came not a single drop of rain. In the States the water would have fallen half a foot deep. Here, though the sky was black as iron, it was equally hard and pitiless. The people told me that for years at a time the storms were equally severe and rainless with this one. I could think of nothing, when I looked at the heavens, but the agony of a baffled yet unrepentant soul. Through the tempest of wind and sand, an eastgoing stage struggled about tea-time, bearing half