Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

extinct specimens already known, but possibly of species entirely new to science, and settle the now very uncertain original boundaries of the entire tribe of American ruminants. Yet more: it might throw much light on the very curious fact yearly receiving new illustrations, that the American Fauna is chronologically far in the rear of that belonging to the Old World. The eminent entomologist, Dr. Loew of Meseritz, in Prussia, has discovered that a number of very singular and interesting insects belonging to the palaeontology of Europe, and imrnemorially extinct there, exist as living species in our North American forests. It may not be straining the analogy too far to conjecture that higher tribes than the Diptera found in amber, existed on this Continent long after they had become obsolete in the other; even, for example, that the gigantic saurians of the Jurassic survived into our tertiary, and that tertiary pachyderms of Europe, or yet undiscovered congeners of theirs, roved the emerging lacustrine beds, and got bogged in the treacherous fluviatile silt of our earlier Adamic period. The unavoidable rapidity of my journey through this most interesting tract, and my consequent inability to offer anything better than hints for the thorough workman who shall come after me when a Pacific Railroad insures the safe transport of specimens, and puts the time of explorers entirely at their own disposal, must save from scientific contempt these crude and unsupported suggestions.

Getting back to breakfast, I found that my confidence had not been misplaced. Thfc nice, tidy Kastun i woman from Leavenworth had done full justice Jq our provisions, and added further blessedness to the repast by the first bowl of rich fresh milk and dish of new-laid eggs we had tasted since leaving Denver. While we were breakfasting with a relish, one of our fellow-passengers at the same board vouchsafed a remark about the Mormons, to the effect that we were rapidly nearing their kingdom, with a little half-jocose warning against the danger of having one's throat cut. A sunburnt, taciturn young man, who apparently belonged at the station as a " herder," or stable-helper, looked up furtively from under a pair of shaggy black eyebrows, took the speaker in with a quick but comprehensive glance, and, without having been noticed by more than one besides myself, proceeded impassively with his ham and eggs. After we rose from the table, and paid our dollar a head for our really excellent breakfast (the price invariably charged us since we entered the Mountains, without regard to the large portion of every meal furnished from our own private stores, and not exorbitant considering the immense distance which every staple article has to be hauled by the Overland supply wagons) we strolled out to the corral, and got into conversation with our next driver. Our jocular fellow-passenger was nearer "the kingdom" than he knew. We were in Utah. Our maps had not indicated the last few miles of the route by which we had come to Green River, and we had crossed the stream at a point different from our previous calculation; in other words, near the point of its intersection with the one hundred and tenth parallel, where it coincides with the eastern boundary line of Utah. I had not expected to recognize Utah by any unerring sign; to know when I came to it by a polygamistic flavor in the atmosphere; but I own that the sensation of entering Mormondom without knowing it was somewhat singular. My own party were all too old travellers to have been in any danger of making such an unguarded self-committal as that of our fellow-passenger at the breakfast table, but for many reasons we felt securer for the knowledge where we were.

"Never been in Utah afore, I reckon?" said the driver half interrogatively.

"No nearer than the Wind River Mountains."

"They don't have many o' them fellows up there?"

"What fellows?"

"Why, these here Mormons."

There was a slighting tone in his voice which we oould not fail to recognize as an assumption. If he had meant to speak disparagingly out of a sincere heart, he was too old a hand to select such entire strangers for his confidante. Fortunately we were no younger, and "smoked" him at once without showing that we did. He was throwing out feelers.

"You don't seem to like them much, judging from your tone," said I. "That's unfortunate, seeing you have to drive thirty or forty miles every day in their country. But you just use them well, and go your own way quietly, — you'll never get anything but good treatment from them. If you're a new hand here, as I should judge you are, take an old traveller's advice, and always think half a dozen times before you speak once. If you should happen to be overheard talking about Mormons in such a tone by that tall young man with the bushy eyebrows who sat opposite me at breakfast, you'd be spotted at once, and it might make no end of trouble for you all along the road. You know whom I mean — that browncomplexioned young Mormon: what's his name?"

We looked him in the face without flinching; he looked at both of us with undisguised perplexity, and, as I put the question, answered involuntarily, —

"Cowperthwaite !x Well — why — why — how did you know he was a Mormon?"

"D'ye remember how the girl knew her father? Jest as easy! How do I know you are one? The same way."

"Well, that's so! -No use o' concealin' on it as I know. I aint ashamed o't, —you bet! But d—d if you aint a queer 'un? You beat my time, anyhow. Wall, I'm glad to see you're so friendly — give us yer hand." f'

"We're friends to everybody that's civil and obliging— that goes straight ahead minding his own business well, and letting other people mind theirs. That's the only way to get on in this world, driver."

This colloquy not only afforded us the amusement of beating a man at his own game, but resulted in the greatest convenience to us practically. Without duplicity or the need of insuring ourselves against all risk by exaggerated professions of good-will to every new acquaintance we were brought into contact with, we were immediately crossed off the list of suspects, and had no further anxiety regarding jealous misconstruction or disagreeable espionage. We took an early occasion to warn our incautious fellow-passenger, a little Swiss, who was going out to Washoe to form a watch-making partnership with a brother who had preceded him to this country by several years. When he heard he had got into Utah without knowing it, his knees smote together at the memory of the morning's indiscretion; his jolly round face paled to the hue of the Jungfrau summit; his broken English deserted him entirely, and he fell back on his French.

11 give a fictitious name, of course.

"Mon Dieu! ce n'e"tait qu'une de men petites plaiaanteries! settlement <ja,— seulement, seulement— parole d'honneur ! Je n'ai point de prejuge"s, moi! Toute ma famille, nous sommes francs-penseurs — mon frere aine " est Voltairien. Ventrebleu! un des plus pree"mi nens! Je suis Philosophe,—je ne crois rien de tout. Adolphe (c'est notre cadet la), il n'a que vingt ans et ses liaisons montent jusqu'a deux fois ce numer6! il est vrai libertin — vrai Don Giovanni! Moi je n'ai point de prejug^s — quant aux Mormons, de mon enfance jiai 6"prouve pour ces braves gens des sentimens les plus respecteuses, les plus affectione"es. Que voulezvous? Une femme, deux femmes, trois, quatre, cinq, cent, mil — c'est 6"gal! Mais quoi! Si je resterais a Sal(>Lac—je ne me g^nerais pas par 1'arithmetique — je me marierais, je vous le jure! deux fois par mois — re"gulier-r-r-r-einent!"

I now had to caution him against error in the opposite direction, lest, in singing the praises of polygamy, he should rush into such burlesque as to bring himself into worse suspicion. I could see, at succeeding stations along the road, that the beetle-browed young man had not failed to send his " character" ahead of him. He was eyed sharply; but as we took him to a certain extent under the wing of our party, he escaped trouble,—the excuse that he was a Frenchman, and ignorant of our free institutions (from bigamy upward), also procuring him a certain amount of clemency. A more thoroughly frightened man I never saw in my life. His idea of a Mormon was Dantesque in its horror — an elaborate incarnation of all the choicest varieties of atrocious cruelty, ingenious dis

« ZurückWeiter »