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glowed upon us out of their secret nurseries among the tall blades, like tangled sunshine getting woven through the herbage by the shuttle of the wind. Before we left home I had deeply regretted our failure to include a practical botanist in our party; I regretted it still more when we were among the lavish Flora of the Plains; and most of all, having to describe so inadequately what might have been treated so well, do I regret it now. But this makes no pretense to be a purely scientific book, and I must not omit to rehearse the beauties which rejoice the tourist, because I cannot say how they would strike the botanist. Over all the higher lands of the rolling plain which we were traversing abounded a pink, purple, crimson, or sometimes nearly white blossom, known here as the Indian pea. It grows on a long, villous flower-stalk, around which both blossoms and leaves are symmetrically arranged; its pistil is carried in a sheath, with the stamens about its base, and its fruit is a pod in shape like a large flattened gooseberry, containing seeds of the size of a pin-head. This pod is edible when boiled in salt water; at least, it is eaten, though to an Eastern epicure its taste is undisguisably rank. The Indian pea at this season, when in full blossom, both from its profusion and the variety of its tints, is one of the most important contributions to the beauty of the Plains. Prairie roses are abundant everywhere on this portion of the Plains. I found the yellow, white, and pink varieties, all of which are luxuriant in blossom and deliciously fragrant. The tiny blue star-grass lurks everywhere among the taller herbage; and in many places I saw a variety of sorrel (Oxalis acetocella) bearing yellow blossoms as large as a good-sized buttercup, though in every other respect it appears quite identical with our Eastern plant. Along the borders of the small streams, especially where the ground was shaded, grew a small variety of our evening primrose, of several tints, from pale straw-color to nearly orange; and in low, moist spots I noticed several specimens of a flower only differing from this in the possession of black spots and a carinated structure dividing the corolla into segments, upon the middle of each of the petals. Another plant, which seemed to me a species of the abutilon, had handsome cupellate blossoms of a deep-orange color, striated longitudinally along the petals with delicate pale yellow. Here and there grew a white species closely allied to our garden “rocket;” and a wild sunflower, with a root which I found quite as edible and as flavorous as our Jerusalem artichoke, was very common on all the slopes of the divides. But the two most charming flowers of the region, the one for its perfume, the other for its color, were a tiny species having the habits and appearance of the water-lily, to whose family I supposed it to belong, and a crimson cup as large as a small althea, whose only name among the ranche people was “the ground poppy,” though whether it be really allied to that plant I regret my inability to state. Its plant-leaves are multilobed, and somewhat like those of our own poppy; but it grows upon running stalks close to the ground, and to unscientific eyes seems quite as closely connected with the mallows. It appears in patches varying from a few feet to several rods in circuit, and wherever these occur, the ground is one gorgeous mass of magenta fire. It is the glory of the fertile plains in May and early June, and we afterward found it extending for miles among the barren sand
dunes beyond Fort Kearney, encroaching upon the territory of the cacti and the gramma-grass. Wherever it appears, it is the chief visual delight of the Plains, Flora. The tiny water-lily above mentioned, I only found once in all our progress to the buffalo country. We had halted at the bottom of a wet-draw to water our horses. I went above the place where they were drinking, to quench my thirst at a brown pool which appeared a trifle less stagnant than their wateringplace, and, lying down with my face over the water, noticed an exquisitely subtle fragrance like that of tuberose and orange-flower combined. On pushing away the weeds which grew out over the pool, I found a nest of lovely white blossoms, smaller than the smallest strawberry-flower, shaped like an Eastern waterlily in miniature, with delicate yellow stamens and pistil, and moored on the water by slender green filaments rooted in the ooze of the pool. No American blossom that I am acquainted with, not even the trailing arbutus, possesses such an indescribable ethereal fragrance as this tiny water-lily. I sought in vain to preserve specimens of it. The pages of the note-book in which I pressed them, absorbed the petals as if they had been dew, and only stains were left, having none of the flower's characteristic odor. We had been travelling less than an hour, and had crossed a wet ravine, called “White Ash Draw,” between our original divide and the next further south, when we saw our first antelope. He was a mere glancing spot on the sunny side of a slope two miles off, and disappeared too soon to be resolved by the field-glass. From that time forward we were continually uncovering pairs or groups of these lovely creatures, and before noon got near enough to some of them for a shot. Butler's rifle brought down a fine young buck. We laid him in one of the wagons, and continued our march. It is perhaps no exaggeration to call the antelope the most beautiful as well as the swiftest animal of our American wilds. His size is that of a young red-deer doe; his color a compromise between buff and fawn, shading here and there into reddish-brown, with a patch of pure white on the buttocks which gives rise to the Western term expressive of his stampede, “showing his clean linen.” His ears grow far back on his head, are long, and curve so much that at a distance they appear like horns. The horns themselves grow so immediately over the supra-orbital projection as to seem coming out of the animal's eyes; they are long, slender, have a comparatively slight retro-curve, and show no sign of branching, save a little bud which is developed, as in the engraving, near the root, when the antelope is about two years old. The older bucks are occasionally found with other rudiments of this kind. The chief peculiarity of the antelope is his lack of a “a dew-claw.” His feet have no rudimentary hoof like the deer's. He is almost or quite an anomaly in this respect among the tribes with which he is allied. Whatever that deficiency may amount to, it certainly does not interfere with his speed, which is almost incredible, even to an eye-witness. We could scarcely believe that our sight had not deceived us, when, at one moment, we saw one of these little creatures plainly with the naked eye, browsing on a slope fifty yards off, the next beheld him dwindling to a mere speck, and the next lost sight of him altogether. His flight was more like that of a bird than a quadruped, sometimes rather like a rocket than either. Occasionally we surprised a pair of antelopes on a wide area of even ground, where we could watch their stampede for a longer period without obstruction; and the study of their motion became a perfect delight to the eye. They seldom or never leapt like deer, but ran with level backs, and in smooth rhythm, like sheep, — their legs glancing faster than sight could follow. We got no expression for this peculiar gait till George Comstock, looking at a flock of them in full flight, ejaculated, idiomatically, “Lord! don't they open and shet lively l’” It was quite amusing to see them baffle the attempts of one of our mounted men, whose enthusiasm overcame his experience. Clapping spurs to his horse, he rode with all his might at a flock of them, feeding within long rifle-shot, and came about eighty yards from them before they snuffed him and turned tail. For nearly ten minutes they treated him as a butterfly treats a school-boy. Putting half a mile between them and his panting horse in as little time as it takes to write it, they paused, stood with their noses in air, and seemed to be having a quiet laugh among themselves; let him approach nearly as close as before, and then floated away, on a line at right angles to their former retreat, tempting him with the delusion that he might head them off. As often as he turned, they repeated these tactics, until at last he stopped, quite provoked at himself, and with his horse thoroughly winded, to see their “clean linen” flash for an instant in the sun, as they went out of sight among some thick cotton-woods, on the edge of a distant run. It was about as hopeful a piece of business as trying to run down a telegraph message.