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should surround them, and why did these exceptional phenomena occur here when the lower ground, which must have been simultaneously under water, exhibits no trace of similar operations? The most probable hypothesis may be that the whole tract was once covered with strongly silicated springs, and that as•-fast as death deprived a tree of its elaborating and selective apparatus, it became a mere mechanically acting bundle of capillaries, and sucked up the liquor of immortality, which made it a gem. I succeeded in bringing away but a few specimens. They are small, but among the most exquisite for color, lustre, and reproduction of the original tissue. They vary through every shade of purple, brown, yellow, red, and white; and almost any chance specimen that might be collected, would cut into an elegant ornament for the toilet or writing-table, for seal-ring or sleeve-buttons, of the kind for which blood-stone or onyx is usually employed.
Thirty miles from Denver, on a table-land of the divide, we came to a peculiar hill of the butte kind, a single cone, rising abrupt and solitary out of the level plain to the height of about four hundred feet, and crowned with a rude cube of red argillaceous sandstone, nearly five hundred feet in, circumference and a hundred feet in altitude. Vasquez, a Spanish guide in Pike's Expedition, gave it the name of " Castle Rqck," or rather the no-name, since new settlers are not sufficiently in communication with each other to be bothered about originality, and have illustrated the proverbial coincidence of great minds by fastening this appellation on every one of the multitudinous castellated formations between the tertiary clay of the Platte region and the granite' mountains of the Pacific. Still, at a distance, this Castle Rock belies the title as little as any of its namesakes.
Accompanied by one of the gentlemen of my own party, I climbed to the very summit, while the ambulance halted for us below. We found the immense stone which formed' the capital of the cone bare of soil and vegetation, save in crevices. On all sides it overhung the earth mound on which it rested to the distance of several feet, thus getting a look of being poised upon its centre, just insecure enough to increase its picturesque effect. By insinuating ourselves into fissures and making bold use of projecting knobs, we contrived to work our way around its sides to the upper surface. Here we found a fine breezy platform, perfectly level, and commanding a view in every direction, which amply repaid our trouble. Here and there through the gray Plains we could see a flock of antelope -feeding quietly; one side of our pedestal was alive with screaming hawks, who built their colony of nests there, nowise counting on intrusion from such visitors as we; we could see the little hares playing below us in the ashen furze which thatched the cone; and we could have tossed a stone on the roof of the ambulance, dwindled to a speck, where it stood awaiting us at the foot of the butte. The declining sun was bathing the great brown mountains in an amber glow; and still, far off to the west and southerly, Old Pike was baring his giant forehead of white and crystal, through a gap in our nearer ranges, to the common splendor. It was the quietest, sunniest, most satisfying mount of vision we had yet climbed. We came down to find that the enterprising buckboard had come up with our ambulance, stopped to put Castle Eock in our artist's sketch-book, and preceded us in the direction of Pike's Peak and supper. We hurried on after it, and about nightfall came to a comfortable log-house, situated near the head of Plum Creek, here a mountain brook of considerable size, and not far from the junction of the divide on which we had been travelling with that which separates between the affluents of'the Platte and of the Arkansas. The house is a neat structure of sawed timber, all of it got out in a steam saw-mill, imported by the proprietor, a man named Sprague, who, like Richardson, increases the income of a ranchman by the entertainment of pilgrims such as we. Here we had an excellent supper: and when we discovered that there were not enough beds to go round, those who were left out camped cheerily down on their blankets, and all slept equally well till sunrise.
We had now reached the grand divide between the Platte and the Arkansas. It seemed rather a spur from the mountains than one of their attendant foothills. 'Immediately about Sprague's the scenery was wildly rocky. The house stood at the foot of a magnificent gray crag, seven hundred feet high, densely wooded with evergreen along a series of gulches which channeled its face at angles that nearly made climbing impossible. Plum Creek was quite embowered in the willows and willow-leaved cottonwoods, which belong to the never-failing water-courses of the Rocky range. The valley through which it flowed was as green as a June meadow in the East; and the sweet, pure air was of itself enough to tell us that we had risen far above the level of Denver.
We left Sprague's early in the morning, well satisfied with his accommodations, and glad to have found, so deep in these solitudes a man who had evidently preserved many of the ideals of civilized life, who took a number of papers and magazines, had a good library, and was successfully toiling to make himself a picturesque and comfortable home.
A couple of miles beyond Sprague's, the rocks, which had been menacing us on the right, withdrew further west, and left a long sloping embankment next us, crowned by another of those remarkable geological freaks which I have before mentioned. On the plateau of the embankment, and not far from its edge, stood Windsor Castle.
The resemblance was astonishing. Towers, battlements, imposing facade, proportions, all were remarkably imitated. If the bareness about it had been broken up by fine old trees, and the royal colors had floated over the flag-staff turret, one might have been compelled to think twice before asserting that this was not the palace of the Old World transported bodily by magic to America. The structure stood so abruptly perpendicular out of the table-land, was so entirely unsupported and unexplained, that it was almost impossible to imagine it a mere mass of Rocky Mountain conglomerate or sandstone. Our road ran within half a mile of it, and at that distance little fancy was necessary to discern regular rows of windows, stately door-ways, and all other details requisite for completing the realization. It is very difficult to get any idea from an engraving of the impression produced by these castellated formations of the West. If the picture makes its mimicry as strong as the formation has it, it is apt to look less like a good picture of the formation than a bad picture of the architecture or sculpture imitated.
The divide continued tolerably level for about ten miles further, flanked on our right by a series of lofty undulations, crested with pine and fir, leading into the Rocky Mountain foot-hills. An occasional spot of more brilliant yellow on their amber slopes below the tree-line betrayed an antelope grazing in the sunshine; but otherwise the loneliness of the view was intense. An everlasting Sabbath bathed the silent brown mountains, climbing range on range to the far glittering snow. They were like the stairs of heaven after the last soul had ascended out of earth. Not the faintest cry of bird or hum of insect broke the stillness of the shining hills next us. It was so strange to look southward over placid fields, yellow with noon, and be sure that, in all that great receding stretch, man was a wanderer, a guest, and not.a master; to think, as some deep gorge caught our eye, far up the range, what an unknown region lay there, virgin to man's tread; that it might be ages ere its quiet were disturbed; and that this was but one small spot among myriads as mysterious and inaccessible. The mountains seemed hopelessly apart from us, like the glories we try to grasp in a dream; yet this very hopelessness gave them all a dream's grandeur, and made them seem rather great thoughts than great things. To see the Rocky Mountains in bright sunlight, to drink from-the vast, voiceless happiness which they seem set there to embody, is one of the strangest mixtures of pleasure and pain in all scenery.
On one of the rolling hills of the divide we stopped to get what we considered the finest view of Pike's Peak, obtained during our trip. We stopped our horses for an hour at the foot of the hill, and ascended on foot to enjoy the sight, while our artist took his box from the buck-board and made a color study.