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sun declined so that its level rays overlooked, instead of pointing out the arid plains, and the carrion carcasses of dead cattle which pollute them, the view became quite fascinating. It was like fairy-land when the sun disappeared entirely, and the whole west became glorious with gold and purple, green and salmon, reflected in the slow-creeping water between the islands. Whatever else may be lacking on the Plains, the sunsets are magnificent. To be sure, the natives cannot be held responsible for that; if they could get at them, they would fry them. As it is, Nature triumphs over all; and the two hours I used to sit on the stage-box worshipping her sunset divinity, were compensation enough for a whole day of discomfort. For twenty-five miles beyond Spring Hill, we rode through a solitude broken only by one station-house, a few antelope, and innumerable jackass-rabbits. The latter came tamely out to bathe their immense ears in twilight, squatting among patches of gramma and artemisia, or leaping across the road so close to us that if we had had time to stop and cook them, we might easily have shot a dozen as we toiled by them through the deep sand. About day-break we drew up at Beaver Creek Station, five hundred and thirty-three miles from Atchison, and a hundred and twenty from Denver. The station consisted, as usual, of a single house with the company's stables and corral attached, and is situated about three miles east of the Beaver Creek laid down on the maps. The light was vague when we first stopped, but sufficient to reveal a picturesqueness in the immediate landscape which set my heart bounding, after the experience of the past two days. Nature, 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 those 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 lagoon became iridescent upon one side, remaining black as night under the shadow of the opposite bank; and 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
ments 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 algae 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