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from the hotel. They were on their way with a band of music to give some popular citizen a surprise party. The popular citizen never got the fine edge of that surprise. I took it off for him. If it were not too much like a little Cockney on Vancouver's Island who used the phrase on all occasions, from stubbing his toe to the death of a Cabinet Lord, I should say, “I never was more astonished in me life l’’ None of them had ever seen me before, and with"
my books and maps about me, I may have looked like some public, yet mysterious character. I felt a pleasant sensation of having interest taken in me, and, wishing to make an ingenuous return, looked up with a casual smile at one of the party. Again to my surprise, this proved to be a very charming young lady, and I timidly became aware that the others were equally pretty in their several styles. Not knowing what else to do under the circumstances, I smiled again, still more casually. An equal uncertainty as to alternative set the ladies smiling quite across the row, and then, to my relief, the gentlemen joined them, making it pleasant for us all. A moment later we were engaged in general conversation, — starting from the bold hypothesis, thrown out by one of the gentlemen, that perhaps I was going to Boisé, and proceeding, by a process of elimination, to the accurate knowledge of what I was going to do, if it wasn't that. I enjoyed one of the most cheerful bits of social relaxation I had found since crossing the Missouri; and nothing but my duty to my journal prevented me, when my surprise party left, from accompanying them, by invitation, under the brevet title of Professor, to the house of the popular citizen,
who, I was assured, would be glad to see me. I certainly should have been glad to see him, if he was anything like those guests of his who had so ingenuously cultivated me in a far land of strangers, where a man might have been glad to form the acquaintance of his mother-in-law. This is not the way people form acquaintances in New York; but if I had wanted that, why not have stayed there? As a cosmopolite, and on general principles of being, I prefer the Dalles way. I have no doubt I should have found in that circle of spontaneous recognitions quite as many people who stood wear and improved on intimacy as were ever vouchsafed to me by social indorsement from somebody else. We are perpetually blaming our heads of Government bureaus for their poor knowledge of character, — their subordinates, we say, are never pegs in the right holes. If we understood our civilized system of introductions, we could not rationally expect anything else. The great mass of polite mankind are trained not to know character, but to take somebody else's voucher for it. Their acquaintances, most of their friendships, come to them through a succession of indorsers, none of whom may have known anything of the goodness of the paper. A sensible man, conventionally introduced to his fellow, must always wonder why the latter does not turn him around to look for signatures in chalk down the back of his coat; for he knows that Brown indorsed him over to Jones, and Jones negotiated him with Robinson, through a succession in which perhaps two out of a hundred took pains to know whether he represented metal. You do not find the people of new countries making mistakes in character. Every man is his own guaranty, - and if he has no just cause to suspect himself bogus, there will be true pleasure in a frank opening of himself to the examination and his eyes for the study of others. Not to be accused of intruding radical reform under the guise of belleslettres, let me say that I have no intention of introducing this innovation at the East. In the afternoon of the next day we were provided, by the courtesy of the Company, with a special train on the portage railroad connecting Dalles City with a station known as Celilo. This road had but recently come into full operation, and was now doing an immense freight business between the two river levels separated by the intervening “Dalles.” It seemed somewhat longer than the road around the Falls. Its exact length has escaped me, but I think it about eight or nine miles. With several officers of the road, who vied in giving us opportunities of comfort and information, we set out, about three P. M., from a station on the waterfront below the town, whence we trundled through the long main street, and were presently shot forth upon a wilderness of sand. An occasional trap uplift rose on our right, but, as we were on the same bluff level as Dalles City, we met no lofty precipices. We were constantly in view of the river, separated from its Oregon brink at the farthest by about half a mile of the dreariest dunes of shifting sand ever seen by an amateur in deserts. The most arid tracts along the Platte could not rival this. The wind was violent when we left Dalles City, and possessed the novel faculty of blowing simultaneously from all points of the compass. It increased with every mile of advance, both in force and faculty, until at Celilo we found it a hurricane. The gentlemen of the Company who attended us, told us, as seemed very credi. ble, that the highest winds blowing here (compared with which the present might be styled a zephyr) banked the track so completely out of sight with sand that a large force of men had to be steadily employed in shoveling out trains that had been brought to a dead halt, and clearing a way for the slow advance of others. I observed that the sides of some of the worst sand-cuts had been planked over to prevent their sliding down upon the road. Occasionally, the sand blew in such tempests as to sift through every cranny of the cars, and hide the river glimpses like a momentary fog. But this discomfort was abundantly compensated by the wonderfully interesting scenery on the Columbia side of our train. The river for the whole distance of the portage is a succession of magnificent rapids, low cataracts, and narrow, sinuous channels, — the last known to the old French traders as “Dales’’ or “Troughs,” and to us by the very natural corruption of “Dalles.” The alternation between these phases is wonderfully abrupt. At one point, about halfway between Dalles City and Celilo, the entire volume of the Columbia River (and how vast that is may be better understood by following up on the map the river itself and all its tributaries) is crowded over upon the Oregon shore through a passage not more than fifty yards in width, between perfectly naked and perpendicular precipices of basalt. Just beyond this mighty mill-race, where one of the grandest floods of the Continent is sliding in olive-green light and umber shadow, smoothly and resistlessly as time, the river is a mile wide, and plunges over a ragged wall of trap blocks, reaching, as at the lower cataract, from shore to shore. In other neighboring places it attains even a greater width, but up to Celilo is never out of torment from the obstructions of its bed. Not even the rapids of Niagara can vie with these in their impression of power; and only the Columbia itself can describe the lines of grace made by its water, rasped to spray, churned to froth, tired into languid sheets that flow like sliding glass, or shot up in fountains frayed away to rainbows on their edges, as it strikes some basalt hexagon rising in mid-stream. The Dalles and the Upper Cataracts are still another region where the artist might stay for a year's University course in water-painting. At Celilo we found several steamers, in register resembling our second of the day previous. They measured on the average about three hundred tons. One of them had just got down from Walla Walla, with a large party of miners from gold tracts still further off, taking down five hundred thousand dollars in dust to Portland and San Francisco. We were very anxious to accept the Company's extended invitation, and push our investigations to or even up the Snake River. But the expectation that the San Francisco steamer would reach Portland in a day or two, and that we should immediately return by her to California, turned us most reluctantly down the river, after we had made the fullest notes and sketches attainable. Bad weather on the coast falsified our expectations. For a week we were rain-bound in Portland, unable to leave our hotel for an hour at a time without being drenched by the floods, which just now set in for the winter season, and regretting the lack of that prescience which would have enabled us to accomplish one of the most interesting side-trips in