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for a little respite, had repented her of neutral tints, and forsaken the Society of Friends. The Platte had made a concession to our rebellious aesthetic sense, by sending out from the main channel, where it crept eastward, some forty rods north of the house, a sinuous lagoon terminating in a marsh near the road. All along the borders of this still but living water, the grass was green and thick even to rankness, and its high banks bore in profusion succulent weeds, congeneric with th'ose that haunt our Eastern morasses. As the sun grew nearer the horizon, this pleasant feature showed to better advantage. The eye rested on the broad borders and patches of living greenness, with a feeling of comfort that no Eastern imagination can appreciate. The rosy hues of as lovely a sunrise as I ever saw, bloomed slowly out on the spotless mirror of the water, with the effect of a developing; daguerreotype or a dissolving view. The lagoonbecame iridescent upon one side, remaining black as night under the shadow of the opposite bank; and1 when a light .mist began rising under the touch of growing light, the colors shone through breaks in its dancing masses beautiful as a dream. Still a little later, then the rosy changed to golden; and when the sun first showed his edge, the water was turned to a sheet of topaz fire.
With advancing dawn, large game broke into view. I thought I had seen ducks before, but the lagoon and the river swarmed with them to a degree which, quite corrected my views on that subject. Two or three varieties of teal, the ruddy duck, a mallard, and a small diver were represented in the great argosy that rippled the smooth, glowing water; and beyond my immediate ken, there may have been detachments from numerous others, Colorado possessing fourteen distinct species of the bird. Every step of my way along the margin of the . main stream sent the quacking mistress of some future family scurrying off her loose-built nest, until the water was alive with gliding motion of exquisite grace, and colors of the most varied beauty. The cinnamon teal and the ruddy duck were rich warm patches that slipped past like tinted vapor; while the green and blue-winged teal shone cool and steely in the dawn which had come to waken them with me. It seems to me that I have never seen bird-life more plentiful or lovely.
We were all seated on or in the wagon, when our scarred driver pointed westward across the Plains, now all aflood with the gold of the risen sun, and said, —
"There are the Rocky Mountains."
I strained my eyes in the direction of his finger, but for a minute could see nothing. Presently sight seemed adjusted to a new focus, and out against the bright sky dawned slowly the undefined shimmering trace of something a little bluer. Still, it seemed nothing tangible. It might have passed for a vapor effect on the horizon, had not the driver called it otherwise. Another minute, and it took slightly more certain shape. It cannot be described by any Eastern analogy; no other far mountain view that I •ever saw is at all like it. • If you have ever seen those sea-side albums which ladies fill with algaa during their summer holiday, and in those albums have been startled, on turning over a page suddenly. to see an exquisite marine ghost appear, almost evanescent in its faint azure, but still a literal existence which had been called up from the deeps and laid to rest with infinite delicacy and difficulty, then you will form some conception of the first view of the Rocky Mountains. It is impossible to imagine them built of earth, rock, anything terrestrial; to fancy them cloven by horrible chasms, or shaggy with giant woods. They are made out of the air and the sunshine which show them. Nature has dipped her pencil in the faintest solution of ultramarine, and drawn it once across the western sky, with a hand tender as Love's. Then, when sight becomes still better adjusted, you find the most delicate division taking place in this pale blot of beauty, near its upper edge. It is rimmed with a mere thread of opaline and crystalline light. For a moment it sways before you, and is confused. But your eagerness grows steadier, you see plainer, and know that you are looking on the everlasting snow, the ice that never melts. As the entire fact in all its meaning possesses you completely, you feel a sensation which is as new to your life as it is impossible of repetition. , I confess (I should be ashamed not to confess) that my first view of the Rocky Mountains had no way of expressing itself save in tears. To see what they looked, and know what they were, was like a sudden revelation of the truth, that the spiritual is the only real and substantial; that the eternal things of the universe are they which afar off seem dim and faint.
Soon after leaving the breakfast station, we struck a low range of tiresome sand-hills resembling those about Julesburg. Through them runs to the Platte, Beaver Creek, the first of a series of short streams, laid down on the maps as draining a broad plateau south of Denver, and communicating with the river in nearly parallel lines. Bijou, Kiowa, and Cherry Creeks are the three others noticed; and there is a fourth, which does not appear on any United States map, emptying into the river near Denver, and called Coal Creek. I have said that Beaver Creek runs, but this is hyperbole. It just trickles. A thirsty mule might have stopped at one of the holes in its bed, and in five minutes drunk it dry, to stay so for an hour. Its pulse was feeble as syncope. As to Bijou, I do not feel that I am anticipating by its mention, for when we got to it there was nothing to anticipate; while Cherry Creek, running through part of Denver, is a mere bed, dry as Sahara, save when some express train of a snow-melting freshet comes thundering down from the range, to surprise human life and property in its murderous rush, as it did in 1864.
At Junction, the next station west of Beaver Creek, we left the Platte, and took a cut-off to Fremont's Orchard, twenty miles across a succession of high sand-hills, on which the sun pelted and the dry hot wind blew more mercilessly than anywhere on our previous journey. I had left my canteen behind me at Diamond Spring; one might as well look for water in an ash barrel as anywhere along the cut-off; and before we were half-way over it, I suffered from a thirst, only paralleled hitherto by the experience of my buffalo hunt. But for the misery of a parched tongue, a throat like a glass-house chimney, lips cracked by the alkali atmosphere, and the lassitude of a perfectly shadeless ride on the hottest day of the season, I • should have enjoyed the new nature opening to study throughout this tract, with much zest and enthusiasm. From the time we left Junction till we struck the Platte again, we seemed to be in a new zone, both botanically and zoologically. If we had altered our latitude by a hundred miles, we could hardly have entered a fauna and flora more widely differing from those of the Plains proper than we attained by the present slight change in our topographical conditions. We found on the long sand-hills which we now had to climb, a greater variety of plants than we had discovered over all the comparative level between O'Pallon's Bluff and Beaver Creek. Among others were by far the handsomest asclepias I ever saw, with profuse pink blossoms; a beautiful rosecolored cactus of the branching kind, several of the globular varieties, and the common yellow variety in great profusion; a blue daisy, seen here for the first time, in all but its color nearly resembling the white millefoil daisy of the East; several sunflowers, and varieties of flowering bean and pea; a blue flower, apparently of the larkspur family; another poor relation of the marigolds, like that noticed at Diamond Springs; star-grass here and there; and a very singular blossom, quite unknown to me, which consisted of a fusiform central sack of fibrous tissue containing pulp, and attached to this three membranous wings, like those of a maple-seed, but much larger and softer, as well as differently colored, a pale flesh tint characterizing the fresh specimens. These plants all grow out of a soil which might have rivaled the mountains of Gilboa for ignorance of either rain or dew, and with a desolate, hot exposure, where utter sterility might have been pardoned. Though they flourished, and I was informed that cattle could subsist themselves across this waste, I saw nothing in the shape of herbage which even a charity broadened