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concentration of sense in their mouths and noses, and no very clear idea of the system on which their legs were planned; but they have a slight suggestion of their future hump, and a certain spunkiness of demeanor, which, to the close observer, bound them off from the common calf. Their coats, too, are rougher than his, and show symptoms of coming curl ; but . they are of a reddish-brown color, which is not uncommon in our barn-yards. Punctually at the expected time, our stage came along, and, to our great satisfaction, contained only a couple of passengers. Our dreams of luxurious space were rudely disturbed by the appearance, while we were dining, of the coach from Omaha, which here intersects the main Overland road, with a cargo of passengers mostly intending to keep on further west, and clamorous for their shares in our vehicle. After protracted negotiation, we compromised by receiving two of the new lot, who, with our party of four and the original occupants, crowded us into wretchedly tight quarters. For the thirty-six miles to Plum Creek station, the road continued to run through a country of only less aridity than preceded our entrance to Fort Kearney. The only spots of brightness on the dreary waste of sand and gramma were the crimson flowers of the ground-poppy, which afford such diversified beauty to the Plains about the Little Blue, and which here fought for a bare existence with the thickening myriads of cacti, bursting up between the spikes and saffron-colored blossoms of the latter, like flames twinkling among pale cinders. Again we went pattering out into the twilight, behind fresh relays. About nine o'clock, the moon rose

among a swarm of small straggling clouds. About
eight miles from Plum Creek, her light fell on a broad
encampment of Sioux, silvering the dingy skins and
occasional canvas of the smoky tépis into something
like the Fenimore Cooper romance of Indian life.
I could not help thinking that part of this illusion
was owing to the early habits of the savage, which
prevented any Indians from being in sight. It would
take a good deal of moonlight to make an Indian look
romantic. About the tents were a herd of pictur-
esque, ewe-necked horses, feeding at their ease on the
short, dry herbage, and showing their sides, mottled
with the spots which characterize what we at the
East call a “circus-horse,” — still odder in the broad
Just as we passed the last tent, a strange figure
burst through the narrow slit in it used as a doorway,
and hailed our driver, who stopped for him, and took
him on the box. He wore a handsome buckskin
hunting-blouse, profusely embroidered and dangling
with leather tags, a low slouch hat, and a beaded belt,
from which peeped the butt of a six-shooter. His
complexion was so bronzed, and his hair so long and
black, that until I had looked him full in the face, and
heard him speak, I took him for a Sioux. He was a
white man,—or white as a man can be who has lived
much with the Indians of the Plains, – and had in
his countenance one of the most singular mixtures
of good-fellowship and desperadoism that I ever saw.
I should have liked to see him on my side in a Plains
fight, and been sorry to think he was on the other;
but there was an Iago quality in his restless black
eyes and the iciness of his laugh, which must have
made any student of human nature uncomfortable

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in a protracted acquaintance with him among lonely surroundings. About eleven o'clock, when we were about half a mile from the station called Willow Island, the moon became as suddenly obscured as if she had been put out with an extinguisher. The clouds grew inky black, and simultaneously the wind rose to a tempest. I never saw in my life such dispatch in getting up a storm. Another minute, and the clouds were pelting down on us hailstones as large as musket-balls. The mules became frightened, and plunged furiously. It was too black to see the heads of the leaders, but there was nothing to be done except advance; so by coaxing, cursing, and whipping, the driver finally persuaded the team to take us as far as the station. We jumped down from the box, and in the dark, after imminent danger from the hoofs of the madly kicking wheel-mules, managed to unhook the traces instead of cutting them, as we had contemplated the necessity of doing. It will seem almost incredible to anybody who has not seen a hailstorm on the Platte; but after we had got the team loose, and were standing by their heads, while the inside passengers used up half a box of matches in getting the lanterns lighted, the stage heavy with mails, seven inside passengers, and all their baggage, was forcibly blown back by the wind a distance of several yards. I could compare its effect on myself only to having a stable door pressed steadily against my person; and if I had not held on by one of the most obstinate of nature's animals, I should have been sent scurrying out of sight in the direction of Fort Kearney. Just as our patience began to give out under the buffets of the wind and the sound whipping of the hail, our friend in the buckskin made his voice heard through the roar, and a stable-keeper appeared with a light, which was instantly put out. By this time our lanterns were lighted, and we managed to get our mules into their stalls without any accident more serious than a graze on one of the shins belonging to our driver. It was quite out of reason to attempt going on in such a tempest. Accordingly we let our relays stay in the stable, and went back to tell the insides, penned into darkness and uncertainty by tightly buttoned carriage leathers, that we had concluded, after the manner of the Connecticut River mate, “to anchor our end of the schooner.” This seemed to meet as much approbation as they had to expend upon anything under the circumstances. They resigned themselves to an upright sleep against the straps and cushions, while we, who had still enough wakefulness in our legs to hunt up something better, betook ourselves to the stable, and lay down on clean straw in some empty stalls. I blessed the hailstorm which was pelting outside, for it had given me a chance to stretch myself. Dearest opportunity to the overlander I have known hours when I speculated curiously on the torture of the rack, and wondered how the old martyrs could have found it so disagreeable. Certainly it seemed to me that any amount of relaxation could not be so painful as that sense of being shortened up, driven in, and clinched on the other side, which results from twenty-four hours' constancy to a bent position. I accordingly welcomed the chance of extending myself on the Willow Island straw, with a delight which would have scarcely been lessened, had the bare boards been substituted as a


About three o'clock in the morning I was awakened by a tumbling and groaning in the next stall to mine. I rose, and felt my way to the sufferer, thinking that he had a fit. In the dark I put out my hand, and touched a leathern fringe. It belonged to our new passenger. He continued to toss and twist; he got into deadly combat with the wisps of straw under him; I heard him send home three or four well-meant blows with his fist against the side of the stall, and then he muttered in a voice of horror, “Murder | murder O God, murder l’’ I caught him by the shoulder, and shook him soundly. As he woke, he felt for his pistol. I held his hand, and explained the facts of the case. “O thank you !” said he; “I sometimes have the nightmare very badly, and then I remember, O such disagreeable things — everything in fact that I ever saw in my life.” It was broad daylight when I woke the second time. My friend of the next stall had disappeared, and did not join us when we again put ourselves en route. The hail had ceased, but had left a gray, greasy, despondent heaven, and a sullen, sobbing wind. We rode through a sterile country, with distant bluffs of dun sand bounding our plain on either side, till at Midway Station we stopped for breakfast. One of the greatest puzzles of the Plains is their nomenclature. You stop at stations called something “Spring,” and look in vain for anything to drink but stagnant water. When you come to anything “Lake,” you are nearly sure to find no expanse a pig could wallow in. If you discovered a station named Brown's, you might be very sure that no one had ever lived

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