Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains
Author: Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



A LADY'S LIFE

IN THE

ROCKY MOUNTAINS


Isabella L. Bird


Introduction by

Ann Ronald

University of Nevada, Reno



  To My Sister,
  to whom
  these letters were originally written,
  they are now
  affectionately dedicated.



Contents


Introduction, by Ann Ronald

LETTER I

Lake Tahoe--Morning in San Francisco--Dust--A Pacific
mail-train--Digger Indians--Cape Horn--A mountain hotel--A pioneer--A
Truckee livery stable--A mountain stream--Finding a bear--Tahoe.

LETTER II

A lady's "get-up"--Grizzly bears--The "Gem of the Sierras"--A tragic
tale--A carnival of color.

LETTER III

A Temple of Morpheus--Utah--A "God-forgotten" town--A distressed
couple--Dog villages--A temperance colony--A Colorado inn--The bug
pest--Fort Collins.

LETTER IV

A plague of flies--A melancholy charioteer--The Foot Hills--A mountain
boarding-house--A dull life--"Being agreeable"--Climate of
Colorado--Soroche and snakes.

LETTER V

A dateless day--"Those hands of yours"--A Puritan--Persevering
shiftlessness--The house-mother--Family worship--A grim Sunday--A
"thick-skulled Englishman"--A morning call--Another atmosphere--The
Great Lone Land--"Ill found"--A log camp--Bad footing for
horses--Accidents--Disappointment.

LETTER VI

A bronco mare--An accident--Wonderland--A sad story--The children of
the Territories--Hard greed--Halcyon hours--Smartness--Old-fashioned
prejudices--The Chicago colony--Good luck--Three notes of admiration--A
good horse--The St. Vrain--The Rocky Mountains at last--"Mountain
Jim"--A death hug--Estes Park.

LETTER VII

Personality of Long's Peak--"Mountain Jim"--Lake of the Lilies--A
silent forest--The camping ground--"Ring"--A lady's bower--Dawn and
sunrise--A glorious view--Links of diamonds--The ascent of the
Peak--The "Dog's Lift"--Suffering from thirst--The descent--The bivouac.

LETTER VIII

Estes Park--Big game--"Parks" in Colorado--Magnificent scenery--Flowers
and pines--An awful road--Our log cabin--Griffith Evans--A miniature
world--Our topics--A night alarm--A skunk--Morning glories--Daily
routine--The panic--"Wait for the wagon"--A musical evening.

LETTER IX

"Please Ma'ams"--A desperado--A cattle hunt--The muster--A mad cow--A
snowstorm--Snowed up--Birdie--The Plains--A prairie schooner--Denver--A
find--Plum Creek--"Being agreeable"--Snowbound--The grey mare.

LETTER X

A white world--Bad traveling--A millionaire's home--Pleasant
Park--Perry's Park--Stock-raising--A cattle king--The Arkansas
Divide--Birdie's sagacity--Luxury--Monument Park--Deference to
prejudice--A death scene--The Manitou--A loose shoe--The Ute
Pass--Bergens Park--A settler's home--Hayden's Divide--Sharp
criticism--Speaking the truth.

LETTER XI

Tarryall Creek--The Red Range--Excelsior--Importunate pedlars--Snow and
heat--A bison calf--Deep drifts--South Park--The Great Divide--Comanche
Bill--Difficulties--Hall's Gulch--A Lord Dundreary--Ridiculous fears.

LETTER XII

Deer Valley--Lynch law--Vigilance committees--The silver spruce--Taste
and abstinence--The whisky fiend--Smartness--Turkey Creek Canyon--The
Indian problem--Public rascality--Friendly meetings--The way to the
Golden City--A rising settlement--Clear Creek
Canyon--Staging--Swearing--A mountain town.

LETTER XIII

The blight of mining--Green Lake--Golden
City--Benighted--Vertigo--Boulder Canyon--Financial straits--A hard
ride--The last cent--A bachelor's home--"Mountain Jim"--A surprise--A
night arrival--Making the best of it--Scanty fare.

LETTER XIV

A dismal ride--A desperado's tale--"Lost! Lost! Lost!"--Winter
glories--Solitude--Hard times--Intense cold--A pack of wolves--The
beaver dams--Ghastly scenes--Venison steaks--Our evenings.

LETTER XV

A whisky slave--The pleasures of monotony--The mountain lion--"Another
mouth to feed"--A tiresome boy--An outcast--Thanksgiving Day--The
newcomer--A literary humbug--Milking a dry cow--Trout-fishing--A
snow-storm--A desperado's den.

LETTER XVI

A harmonious home--Intense cold--A purple sun--A grim jest--A perilous
ride--Frozen eyelids--Longmount--The pathless prairie--Hardships of
emigrant life--A trapper's advice--The Little Thompson--Evans and "Jim."

LETTER XVII

Woman's mission--The last morning--Crossing the St.  Vrain--Miller--The
St. Vrain again--Crossing the prairie--"Jim's" dream--"Keeping
strangers"--The inn kitchen--A reputed child-eater--Notoriety--A quiet
dance--"Jim's" resolve--The frost-fall--An unfortunate introduction.



Letter I

Lake Tahoe--Morning in San Francisco--Dust--A Pacific
mail-train--Digger Indians--Cape Horn--A mountain hotel--A pioneer--A
Truckee livery stable--A mountain stream--Finding a bear--Tahoe.

LAKE TAHOE, September 2.

I have found a dream of beauty at which one might look all one's life
and sigh.  Not lovable, like the Sandwich Islands, but beautiful in its
own way!  A strictly North American beauty--snow-splotched mountains,
huge pines, red-woods, sugar pines, silver spruce; a crystalline
atmosphere, waves of the richest color; and a pine-hung lake which
mirrors all beauty on its surface.  Lake Tahoe is before me, a sheet of
water twenty-two miles long by ten broad, and in some places 1,700 feet
deep.  It lies at a height of 6,000 feet, and the snow-crowned summits
which wall it in are from 8,000 to 11,000 feet in altitude.  The air is
keen and elastic.  There is no sound but the distant and slightly
musical ring of the lumberer's axe.

It is a weariness to go back, even in thought, to the clang of San
Francisco, which I left in its cold morning fog early yesterday,
driving to the Oakland ferry through streets with side-walks heaped
with thousands of cantaloupe and water-melons, tomatoes, cucumbers,
squashes, pears, grapes, peaches, apricots--all of startling size as
compared with any I ever saw before.  Other streets were piled with
sacks of flour, left out all night, owing to the security from rain at
this season.  I pass hastily over the early part of the journey, the
crossing the bay in a fog as chill as November, the number of "lunch
baskets," which gave the car the look of conveying a great picnic
party, the last view of the Pacific, on which I had looked for nearly a
year, the fierce sunshine and brilliant sky inland, the look of long
RAINLESSNESS, which one may not call drought, the valleys with sides
crimson with the poison oak, the dusty vineyards, with great purple
clusters thick among the leaves, and between the vines great dusty
melons lying on the dusty earth.  From off the boundless harvest fields
the grain was carried in June, and it is now stacked in sacks along the
track, awaiting freightage.  California is a "land flowing with milk
and honey." The barns are bursting with fullness.  In the dusty
orchards the apple and pear branches are supported, that they may not
break down under the weight of fruit; melons, tomatoes, and squashes of
gigantic size lie almost unheeded on the ground; fat cattle, gorged
almost to repletion, shade themselves under the oaks; superb "red"
horses shine, not with grooming, but with condition; and thriving farms
everywhere show on what a solid basis the prosperity of the "Golden
State" is founded.  Very uninviting, however rich, was the blazing
Sacramento Valley, and very repulsive the city of Sacramento, which, at
a distance of 125 miles from the Pacific, has an elevation of only
thirty feet.  The mercury stood at 103 degrees in the shade, and the
fine white dust was stifling.

In the late afternoon we began the ascent of the Sierras, whose sawlike
points had been in sight for many miles.  The dusty fertility was all
left behind, the country became rocky and gravelly, and deeply scored
by streams bearing the muddy wash of the mountain gold mines down to
the muddier Sacramento.  There were long broken ridges and deep
ravines, the ridges becoming longer, the ravines deeper, the pines
thicker and larger, as we ascended into a cool atmosphere of exquisite
purity, and before 6 P.M. the last traces of cultivation and the last
hardwood trees were left behind.[1]

[1] In consequence of the unobserved omission of a date to my letters
having been pointed out to me, I take this opportunity of stating that
I traveled in Colorado in the autumn and early winter of 1873, on my
way to England from the Sandwich Islands.  The letters are a faithful
picture of the country and state of society as it then was; but friends
who have returned from the West within the last six months tell me that
things are rapidly changing, that the frame house is replacing the log
cabin, and that the footprints of elk and bighorn may be sought for in
vain on the dewy slopes of Estes Park.

                             I. L. B.

(Author's note to the third edition, January 16, 1880.)


At Colfax, a station at a height of 2,400 feet, I got out and walked
the length of the train.  First came two great gaudy engines, the
Grizzly Bear and the White Fox, with their respective tenders loaded
with logs of wood, the engines with great, solitary, reflecting lamps
in front above the cow guards, a quantity of polished brass-work,
comfortable glass houses, and well-stuffed seats for the
engine-drivers.  The engines and tenders were succeeded by a baggage
car, the latter loaded with bullion and valuable parcels, and in charge
of two "express agents."  Each of these cars is forty-five feet long.
Then came two cars loaded with peaches and grapes; then two "silver
palace" cars, each sixty feet long; then a smoking car, at that time
occupied mainly by Chinamen; and then five ordinary passenger cars,
with platforms like all the others, making altogether a train about 700
feet in length.

The platforms of the four front cars were clustered over with Digger
Indians, with their squaws, children, and gear.  They are perfect
savages, without any aptitude for even aboriginal civilization, and are
altogether the most degraded of the ill-fated tribes which are dying
out before the white races.  They were all very diminutive, five feet
one inch being, I should think, about the average height, with flat
noses, wide mouths, and black hair, cut straight above the eyes and
hanging lank and long at the back and sides.  The squaws wore their
hair thickly plastered with pitch, and a broad band of the same across
their noses and cheeks.  They carried their infants on their backs,
strapped to boards.  The clothing of both sexes was a ragged, dirty
combination of coarse woolen cloth and hide, the moccasins being
unornamented.  They were all hideous and filthy, and swarming with
vermin.  The men carried short bows and arrows, one of them, who
appeared to be the chief, having a lynx's skin for a quiver.  A few had
fishing tackle, but the bystanders said that they lived almost entirely
upon grasshoppers.  They were a most impressive incongruity in the
midst of the tokens of an omnipotent civilization.

The light of the sinking sun from that time glorified the Sierras, and
as the dew fell, aromatic odors made the still air sweet.  On a single
track, sometimes carried on a narrow ledge excavated from the mountain
side by men lowered from the top in baskets, overhanging ravines from
2,000 to 3,000 feet deep, the monster train SNAKED its way upwards,
stopping sometimes in front of a few frame houses, at others where
nothing was to be seen but a log cabin with a few Chinamen hanging
about it, but where trails on the sides of the ravines pointed to a
gold country above and below.  So sharp and frequent are the curves on
some parts of the ascent, that on looking out of the window one could
seldom see more than a part of the train at once.  At Cape Horn, where
the track curves round the ledge of a precipice 2,500 feet in depth, it
is correct to be frightened, and a fashion of holding the breath and
shutting the eyes prevails, but my fears were reserved for the crossing
of a trestle bridge over a very deep chasm, which is itself approached
by a sharp curve.  This bridge appeared to be overlapped by the cars so
as to produce the effect of looking down directly into a wild gulch,
with a torrent raging along it at an immense depth below.

Shivering in the keen, frosty air near the summit pass of the Sierras,
we entered the "snow-sheds," wooden galleries, which for about fifty
miles shut out all the splendid views of the region, as given in
dioramas, not even allowing a glimpse of "the Gem of the Sierras," the
lovely Donner Lake.  One of these sheds is twenty-seven miles long.  In
a few hours the mercury had fallen from 103 degrees to 29 degrees, and
we had ascended 6,987 feet in 105 miles!  After passing through the
sheds, we had several grand views of a pine forest on fire before
reaching Truckee at 11 P.M.  having traveled 258 miles.  Truckee, the
center of the "lumbering region" of the Sierras, is usually spoken of
as "a rough mountain town," and Mr. W. had told me that all the roughs
of the district congregated there, that there were nightly pistol
affrays in bar-rooms, etc., but as he admitted that a lady was sure of
respect, and Mr. G. strongly advised me to stay and see the lakes, I
got out, much dazed, and very stupid with sleep, envying the people in
the sleeping car, who were already unconscious on their luxurious
couches.  The cars drew up in a street--if street that could be called
which was only a wide, cleared space, intersected by rails, with here
and there a stump, and great piles of sawn logs bulking big in the
moonlight, and a number of irregular clap-board, steep-roofed houses,
many of them with open fronts, glaring with light and crowded with men.
We had pulled up at the door of a rough Western hotel, with a partially
open front, being a bar-room crowded with men drinking and smoking, and
the space between it and the cars was a moving mass of loafers and
passengers.  On the tracks, engines, tolling heavy bells, were mightily
moving, the glare from their cyclopean eyes dulling the light of a
forest which was burning fitfully on a mountain side; and on open
spaces great fires of pine logs were burning cheerily, with groups of
men round them.  A band was playing noisily, and the unholy sound of
tom-toms was not far off.  Mountains--the Sierras of many a fireside
dream--seemed to wall in the town, and great pines stood out, sharp and
clear cut, against a sky in which a moon and stars were shining
frostily.

It was a sharp frost at that great height, and when an "irrepressible
rigger," who seemed to represent the hotel establishment, deposited me
and my carpetbag in a room which answered for "the parlor," I was glad
to find some remains of pine knots still alight in the stove.  A man
came in and said that when the cars were gone he would try to get me a
room, but they were so full that it would be a very poor one.  The
crowd was solely masculine.  It was then 11:30 P.M., and I had not had
a meal since 6 A.M.; but when I asked hopefully for a hot supper, with
tea, I was told that no supper could be got at that hour; but in half
an hour the same man returned with a small cup of cold, weak tea, and a
small slice of bread, which looked as if it had been much handled.

I asked the Negro factotum about the hire of horses, and presently a
man came in from the bar who, he said, could supply my needs.  This
man, the very type of a Western pioneer, bowed, threw himself into a
rocking-chair, drew a spittoon beside him, cut a fresh quid of tobacco,
began to chew energetically, and put his feet, cased in miry high
boots, into which his trousers were tucked, on the top of the stove.
He said he had horses which would both "lope" and trot, that some
ladies preferred the Mexican saddle, that I could ride alone in perfect
safety; and after a route had been devised, I hired a horse for two
days.  This man wore a pioneer's badge as one of the earliest settlers
of California, but he had moved on as one place after another had
become too civilized for him, "but nothing," he added, "was likely to
change much in Truckee."  I was afterwards told that the usual regular
hours of sleep are not observed there.  The accommodation is too
limited for the population of 2,000,[2] which is masculine mainly, and
is liable to frequent temporary additions, and beds are occupied
continuously, though by different occupants, throughout the greater
part of the twenty-four hours.  Consequently I found the bed and room
allotted to me quite tumbled looking.  Men's coats and sticks were
hanging up, miry boots were littered about, and a rifle was in one
corner.  There was no window to the outer air, but I slept soundly,
being only once awoke by an increase of the same din in which I had
fallen asleep, varied by three pistol shots fired in rapid succession.

[2] Nelson's Guide to the Central Pacific Railroad.


This morning Truckee wore a totally different aspect.  The crowds of
the night before had disappeared.  There were heaps of ashes where the
fires had been.  A sleepy German waiter seemed the only person about
the premises, the open drinking saloons were nearly empty, and only a
few sleepy-looking loafers hung about in what is called the street.  It
might have been Sunday; but they say that it brings a great accession
of throng and jollity.  Public worship has died out at present; work is
discontinued on Sunday, but the day is given up to pleasure.  Putting a
minimum of indispensables into a bag, and slipping on my Hawaiian
riding dress[3] over a silk skirt, and a dust cloak over all, I
stealthily crossed the plaza to the livery stable, the largest building
in Truckee, where twelve fine horses were stabled in stalls on each
side of a broad drive.  My friend of the evening before showed me his
"rig," three velvet-covered side-saddles almost without horns.  Some
ladies, he said, used the horn of the Mexican saddle, but none "in the
part" rode cavalier fashion.  I felt abashed.  I could not ride any
distance in the conventional mode, and was just going to give up this
splendid "ravage," when the man said, "Ride your own fashion; here, at
Truckee, if anywhere in the world, people can do as they like."
Blissful Truckee!  In no time a large grey horse was "rigged out" in a
handsome silver-bossed Mexican saddle, with ornamental leather tassels
hanging from the stirrup guards, and a housing of black bear's-skin.  I
strapped my silk skirt on the saddle, deposited my cloak in the
corn-bin, and was safely on the horse's back before his owner had time
to devise any way of mounting me.  Neither he nor any of the loafers
who had assembled showed the slightest sign of astonishment, but all
were as respectful as possible.

[3] For the benefit of other lady travelers, I wish to explain that my
"Hawaiian riding dress" is the "American Lady's Mountain Dress," a
half-fitting jacket, a skirt reaching to the ankles, and full Turkish
trousers gathered into frills falling over the boots,--a thoroughly
serviceable and feminine costume for mountaineering and other rough
traveling, as in the Alps or any other part of the world.

                            I. L. B.

(Author's note to the second edition, November 27, 1879.)


Once on horseback my embarrassment disappeared, and I rode through
Truckee, whose irregular, steep-roofed houses and shanties, set down in
a clearing and surrounded closely by mountain and forest, looked like a
temporary encampment; passed under the Pacific Railroad; and then for
twelve miles followed the windings of the Truckee River, a clear,
rushing, mountain stream, in which immense pine logs had gone aground
not to be floated off till the next freshet, a loud-tongued, rollicking
stream of ice-cold water, on whose banks no ferns or trailers hang, and
which leaves no greenness along its turbulent progress.

All was bright with that brilliancy of sky and atmosphere, that blaze
of sunshine and universal glitter, which I never saw till I came to
California, combined with an elasticity in the air which removed all
lassitude, and gives one spirit enough for anything.  On either side of
the Truckee great sierras rose like walls, castellated, embattled,
rifted, skirted and crowned with pines of enormous size, the walls now
and then breaking apart to show some snow-slashed peak rising into a
heaven of intense, unclouded, sunny blue.  At this altitude of 6,000
feet one must learn to be content with varieties of Coniferae, for,
except for aspens, which spring up in some places where the pines have
been cleared away, and for cotton-woods, which at a lower level fringe
the streams, there is nothing but the bear cherry, the raspberry, the
gooseberry, the wild grape, and the wild currant.  None of these grew
near the Truckee, but I feasted my eyes on pines[4] which, though not
so large as the Wellingtonia of the Yosemite, are really gigantic,
attaining a height of 250 feet, their huge stems, the warm red of cedar
wood, rising straight and branchless for a third of their height, their
diameter from seven to fifteen feet, their shape that of a larch, but
with the needles long and dark, and cones a foot long.  Pines cleft the
sky; they were massed wherever level ground occurred; they stood over
the Truckee at right angles, or lay across it in prostrate grandeur.
Their stumps and carcasses were everywhere; and smooth "shoots" on the
sierras marked where they were shot down as "felled timber," to be
floated off by the river.  To them this wild region owes its scattered
population, and the sharp ring of the lumberer's axe mingles with the
cries of wild beasts and the roar of mountain torrents.

[4] Pinus Lambertina.


The track is a soft, natural, wagon road, very pleasant to ride on.
The horse was much too big for me, and had plans of his own; but now
and then, where the ground admitted to it, I tried his heavy "lope"
with much amusement.  I met nobody, and passed nothing on the road but
a freight wagon, drawn by twenty-two oxen, guided by three fine-looking
men, who had some difficulty in making room for me to pass their
awkward convoy.  After I had ridden about ten miles the road went up a
steep hill in the forest, turned abruptly, and through the blue gloom
of the great pines which rose from the ravine in which the river was
then hid, came glimpses of two mountains, about 11,000 feet in height,
whose bald grey summits were crowned with pure snow.  It was one of
those glorious surprises in scenery which make one feel as if one must
bow down and worship.  The forest was thick, and had an undergrowth of
dwarf spruce and brambles, but as the horse had become fidgety and
"scary" on the track, I turned off in the idea of taking a short cut,
and was sitting carelessly, shortening my stirrup, when a great, dark,
hairy beast rose, crashing and snorting, out of the tangle just in
front of me.  I had only a glimpse of him, and thought that my
imagination had magnified a wild boar, but it was a bear.  The horse
snorted and plunged violently, as if he would go down to the river, and
then turned, still plunging, up a steep bank, when, finding that I must
come off, I threw myself off on the right side, where the ground rose
considerably, so that I had not far to fall.  I got up covered with
dust, but neither shaken nor bruised.  It was truly grotesque and
humiliating.  The bear ran in one direction, and the horse in another.
I hurried after the latter, and twice he stopped till I was close to
him, then turned round and cantered away.  After walking about a mile
in deep dust, I picked up first the saddle-blanket and next my bag, and
soon came upon the horse, standing facing me, and shaking all over.  I
thought I should catch him then, but when I went up to him he turned
round, threw up his heels several times, rushed off the track, galloped
in circles, bucking, kicking, and plunging for some time, and then
throwing up his heels as an act of final defiance, went off at full
speed in the direction of Truckee, with the saddle over his shoulders
and the great wooden stirrups thumping his sides, while I trudged
ignominiously along in the dust, laboriously carrying the bag and
saddle-blanket.

I walked for nearly an hour, heated and hungry, when to my joy I saw
the ox-team halted across the top of a gorge, and one of the teamsters
leading the horse towards me.  The young man said that, seeing the
horse coming, they had drawn the team across the road to stop him, and
remembering that he had passed them with a lady on him, they feared
that there had been an accident, and had just saddled one of their own
horses to go in search of me.  He brought me some water to wash the
dust from my face, and re-saddled the horse, but the animal snorted and
plunged for some time before he would let me mount, and then sidled
along in such a nervous and scared way, that the teamster walked for
some distance by me to see that I was "all right."  He said that the
woods in the neighborhood of Tahoe had been full of brown and grizzly
bears for some days, but that no one was in any danger from them.  I
took a long gallop beyond the scene of my tumble to quiet the horse,
who was most restless and troublesome.

Then the scenery became truly magnificent and bright with life.
Crested blue-jays darted through the dark pines, squirrels in hundreds
scampered through the forest, red dragon-flies flashed like "living
light," exquisite chipmunks ran across the track, but only a dusty blue
lupin here and there reminded me of earth's fairer children.  Then the
river became broad and still, and mirrored in its transparent depths
regal pines, straight as an arrow, with rich yellow and green lichen
clinging to their stems, and firs and balsam pines filling up the
spaces between them, the gorge opened, and this mountain-girdled lake
lay before me, with its margin broken up into bays and promontories,
most picturesquely clothed by huge sugar pines.  It lay dimpling and
scintillating beneath the noonday sun, as entirely unspoilt as fifteen
years ago, when its pure loveliness was known only to trappers and
Indians.  One man lives on it the whole year round; otherwise early
October strips its shores of their few inhabitants, and thereafter, for
seven months, it is rarely accessible except on snowshoes.  It never
freezes.  In the dense forests which bound it, and drape two-thirds of
its gaunt sierras, are hordes of grizzlies, brown bears, wolves, elk,
deer, chipmunks, martens, minks, skunks, foxes, squirrels, and snakes.
On its margin I found an irregular wooden inn, with a lumber-wagon at
the door, on which was the carcass of a large grizzly bear, shot behind
the house this morning.  I had intended to ride ten miles farther, but,
finding that the trail in some places was a "blind" one, and being
bewitched by the beauty and serenity of Tahoe, I have remained here
sketching, reveling in the view from the veranda, and strolling in the
forest.  At this height there is frost every night of the year, and my
fingers are benumbed.

The beauty is entrancing.  The sinking sun is out of sight behind the
western Sierras, and all the pine-hung promontories on this side of the
water are rich indigo, just reddened with lake, deepening here and
there into Tyrian purple.  The peaks above, which still catch the sun,
are bright rose-red, and all the mountains on the other side are pink;
and pink, too, are the far-off summits on which the snow-drifts rest.
Indigo, red, and orange tints stain the still water, which lies solemn
and dark against the shore, under the shadow of stately pines.  An hour
later, and a moon nearly full--not a pale, flat disc, but a radiant
sphere--has wheeled up into the flushed sky.  The sunset has passed
through every stage of beauty, through every glory of color, through
riot and triumph, through pathos and tenderness, into a long, dreamy,
painless rest, succeeded by the profound solemnity of the moonlight,
and a stillness broken only by the night cries of beasts in the
aromatic forests.

                                   I. L. B.



Letter II

A lady's "get-up"--Grizzly bears--The "Gems of the Sierras"--A tragic
tale--A carnival of color.

CHEYENNE, WYOMING, September 7.

As night came on the cold intensified, and the stove in the parlor
attracted every one.  A San Francisco lady, much "got up" in paint,
emerald green velvet, Brussels lace, and diamonds, rattled continuously
for the amusement of the company, giving descriptions of persons and
scenes in a racy Western twang, without the slightest scruple as to
what she said.  In a few years Tahoe will be inundated in summer with
similar vulgarity, owing to its easiness of access.  I sustained the
reputation which our country-women bear in America by looking a
"perfect guy"; and feeling that I was a salient point for the speaker's
next sally, I was relieved when the landlady, a ladylike Englishwoman,
asked me to join herself and her family in the bar-room, where we had
much talk about the neighborhood and its wild beasts, especially bears.
The forest is full of them, but they seem never to attack people unless
when wounded, or much aggravated by dogs, or a shebear thinks you are
going to molest her young.

I dreamt of bears so vividly that I woke with a furry death hug at my
throat, but feeling quite refreshed.  When I mounted my horse after
breakfast the sun was high and the air so keen and intoxicating that,
giving the animal his head, I galloped up and down hill, feeling
completely tireless.  Truly, that air is the elixir of life.  I had a
glorious ride back to Truckee.  The road was not as solitary as the day
before.  In a deep part of the forest the horse snorted and reared, and
I saw a cinnamon-colored bear with two cubs cross the track ahead of
me.  I tried to keep the horse quiet that the mother might acquit me of
any designs upon her lolloping children, but I was glad when the
ungainly, long-haired party crossed the river.  Then I met a team, the
driver of which stopped and said he was glad that I had not gone to
Cornelian Bay, it was such a bad trail, and hoped I had enjoyed Tahoe.
The driver of another team stopped and asked if I had seen any bears.
Then a man heavily armed, a hunter probably, asked me if I were the
English tourist who had "happened on" a "Grizzly" yesterday.  Then I
saw a lumberer taking his dinner on a rock in the river, who "touched
his hat" and brought me a draught of ice-cold water, which I could
hardly drink owing to the fractiousness of the horse, and gathered me
some mountain pinks, which I admired.  I mention these little incidents
to indicate the habit of respectful courtesy to women which prevails in
that region.  These men might have been excused for speaking in a
somewhat free-and-easy tone to a lady riding alone, and in an unwonted
fashion.  Womanly dignity and manly respect for women are the salt of
society in this wild West.

My horse was so excitable that I avoided the center of Truckee, and
skulked through a collection of Chinamen's shanties to the stable,
where a prodigious roan horse, standing seventeen hands high, was
produced for my ride to the Donner Lake.  I asked the owner, who was as
interested in my enjoying myself as a West Highlander might have been,
if there were not ruffians about who might make an evening ride
dangerous.  A story was current of a man having ridden through Truckee
two evenings before with a chopped-up human body in a sack behind the
saddle, and hosts of stories of ruffianism are located there, rightly
or wrongly.  This man said, "There's a bad breed of ruffians, but the
ugliest among them all won't touch you.  There's nothing Western folk
admire so much as pluck in a woman."  I had to get on a barrel before I
could reach the stirrup, and when I was mounted my feet only came
half-way down the horse's sides.  I felt like a fly on him.  The road
at first lay through a valley without a river, but some swampishness
nourished some rank swamp grass, the first GREEN grass I have seen in
America; and the pines, with their red stems, looked beautiful rising
out of it.  I hurried along, and came upon the Donner Lake quite
suddenly, to be completely smitten by its beauty.  It is only about
three miles long by one and a half broad, and lies hidden away among
mountains, with no dwellings on its shores but some deserted lumberers'
cabins.[5] Its loneliness pleased me well.  I did not see man, beast,
or bird from the time I left Truckee till I returned.  The mountains,
which rise abruptly from the margin,  are covered with dense pine
forests, through which, here and there, strange forms of bare grey
rock, castellated, or needle-like, protrude themselves.  On the
opposite side, at a height of about 6,000 feet, a grey, ascending line,
from which rumbling, incoherent sounds occasionally proceeded, is seen
through the pines.  This is one of the snow-sheds of the Pacific
Railroad, which shuts out from travelers all that I was seeing.  The
lake is called after Mr. Donner, who, with his family, arrived at the
Truckee River in the fall of the year, in company with a party of
emigrants bound for California.  Being encumbered with many cattle, he
let the company pass on, and, with his own party of sixteen souls,
which included his wife and four children, encamped by the lake.  In
the morning they found themselves surrounded by an expanse of snow, and
after some consultation it was agreed that the whole party except Mr.
Donner who was unwell, his wife, and a German friend, should take the
horses and attempt to cross the mountain, which, after much peril, they
succeeded in doing; but, as the storm continued for several weeks, it
was impossible for any rescue party to succor the three who had been
left behind.  In the early spring, when the snow was hard enough for
traveling, a party started in quest, expecting to find the snow-bound
alive and well, as they had cattle enough for their support, and, after
weeks of toil and exposure, they scaled the Sierras and reached the
Donner Lake.  On arriving at the camp they opened the rude door, and
there, sitting before the fire, they found the German, holding a
roasted human arm and hand, which he was greedily eating.  The rescue
party overpowered him, and with difficulty tore the arm from him.  A
short search discovered the body of the lady, minus the arm, frozen in
the snow, round, plump, and fair, showing that she was in perfect
health when she met her fate.  The rescuers returned to California,
taking the German with them, whose story was that Mr. Donner died in
the fall, and that the cattle escaped, leaving them but little food,
and that when this was exhausted Mrs. Donner died.  The story never
gained any credence, and the truth oozed out that the German had
murdered the husband, then brutally murdered the wife, and had seized
upon Donner's money.  There were, however, no witnesses, and the
murderer escaped with the enforced surrender of the money to the Donner
orphans.

[5] Visitors can now be accommodated at a tolerable mountain hotel.


This tragic story filled my mind as I rode towards the head of the
lake, which became every moment grander and more unutterably lovely.
The sun was setting fast, and against his golden light green
promontories, wooded with stately pines, stood out one beyond another
in a medium of dark rich blue, while grey bleached summits, peaked,
turreted, and snow slashed, were piled above them, gleaming with amber
light.  Darker grew the blue gloom, the dew fell heavily, aromatic
odors floated on the air, and still the lofty peaks glowed with living
light, till in one second it died off from them, leaving them with the
ashy paleness of a dead face.  It was dark and cold under the mountain
shadows, the frosty chill of the high altitude wrapped me round, the
solitude was overwhelming, and I reluctantly turned my horse's head
towards Truckee, often looking back to the ashy summits in their
unearthly fascination.  Eastwards the look of the scenery was changing
every moment, while the lake for long remained "one burnished sheet of
living gold," and Truckee lay utterly out of sight in a hollow filled
with lake and cobalt.  Before long a carnival of color began which I
can only describe as delirious, intoxicating, a hardly bearable joy, a
tender anguish, an indescribable yearning, an unearthly music, rich in
love and worship.  It lasted considerably more than an hour, and though
the road was growing very dark, and the train which was to take me
thence was fast climbing the Sierras, I could not ride faster than a
walk.

The eastward mountains, which had been grey, blushed pale pink, the
pink deepened into rose, and the rose into crimson, and then all
solidity etherealized away and became clear and pure as an amethyst,
while all the waving ranges and the broken pine-clothed ridges below
etherealized too, but into a dark rich blue, and a strange effect of
atmosphere blended the whole into one perfect picture.  It changed,
deepened, reddened, melted, growing more and more wonderful, while
under the pines it was night, till, having displayed itself for an
hour, the jewelled peaks suddenly became like those of the Sierras, wan
as the face of death.  Far later the cold golden light lingered in the
west, with pines in relief against its purity, and where the rose light
had glowed in the east, a huge moon upheaved itself, and the red
flicker of forest fires luridly streaked the mountain sides near and
far off.  I realized that night had come with its EERINESS, and putting
my great horse into a gallop I clung on to him till I pulled him up in
Truckee, which was at the height of its evening revelries--fires
blazing out of doors, bar-rooms and saloons crammed, lights glaring,
gaming tables thronged, fiddle and banjo in frightful discord, and the
air ringing with ribaldry and profanity.

                                        I. L. B.



Letter III

A Temple of Morpheus--Utah--A "God-forgotten" town--A distressed
couple--Dog villages--A temperance colony--A Colorado inn--The bug
pest--Fort Collins.

CHEYENNE, WYOMING, September 8.

Precisely at 11 P.M. the huge Pacific train, with its heavy bell
tolling, thundered up to the door of the Truckee House, and on
presenting my ticket at the double door of a "Silver Palace" car, the
slippered steward, whispering low, conducted me to my berth--a
luxurious bed three and a half feet wide, with a hair mattress on
springs, fine linen sheets, and costly California blankets.  The
twenty-four inmates of the car were all invisible, asleep behind rich
curtains.  It was a true Temple of Morpheus.  Profound sleep was the
object to which everything was dedicated.  Four silver lamps hanging
from the roof, and burning low, gave a dreamy light.  On each side of
the center passage, rich rep curtains, green and crimson, striped with
gold, hung from silver bars running near the roof, and trailed on the
soft Axminster carpet.  The temperature was carefully kept at 70
degrees.  It was 29 degrees outside.  Silence and freedom from jolting
were secured by double doors and windows, costly and ingenious
arrangements of springs and cushions, and a speed limited to eighteen
miles an hour.

As I lay down, the gallop under the dark pines, the frosty moon, the
forest fires, the flaring lights and roaring din of Truckee faded as
dreams fade, and eight hours later a pure, pink dawn divulged a level
blasted region, with grey sage brush growing out of a soil encrusted
with alkali, and bounded on either side by low glaring ridges.  All
through that day we traveled under a cloudless sky over solitary
glaring plains, and stopped twice at solitary, glaring frame houses,
where coarse, greasy meals, infested by lazy flies, were provided at a
dollar per head.  By evening we were running across the continent on a
bee line, and I sat for an hour on the rear platform of the rear car to
enjoy the wonderful beauty of the sunset and the atmosphere.  Far as
one could see in the crystalline air there was nothing but desert.  The
jagged Humboldt ranges flaming in the sunset, with snow in their
clefts, though forty-five miles off, looked within an easy canter.  The
bright metal track, purpling like all else in the cool distance, was
all that linked one with Eastern or Western civilization.

The next morning, when the steward unceremoniously turned us out of our
berths soon after sunrise, we were running down upon the Great Salt
Lake, bounded by the white Wahsatch ranges.  Along its shores, by means
of irrigation, Mormon industry has compelled the ground to yield fine
crops of hay and barley; and we passed several cabins, from which, even
at that early hour, Mormons, each with two or three wives, were going
forth to their day's work.  The women were ugly, and their shapeless
blue dresses hideous.  At the Mormon town of Ogden we changed cars, and
again traversed dusty plains, white and glaring, varied by muddy
streams and rough, arid valleys, now and then narrowing into canyons.
By common consent the windows were kept closed to exclude the fine
white alkaline dust, which is very irritating to the nostrils.  The
journey became more and more wearisome as we ascended rapidly over
immense plains and wastes of gravel destitute of mountain boundaries,
and with only here and there a "knob" or "butte" [6] to break the
monotony.  The wheel-marks of the trail to Utah often ran parallel with
the track, and bones of oxen were bleaching in the sun, the remains of
those "whose carcasses fell in the wilderness" on the long and drouthy
journey.  The daybreak of to-day (Sunday) found us shivering at Fort
Laramie, a frontier post dismally situated at a height of 7,000 feet.
Another 1,000 feet over gravelly levels brought us to Sherman, the
highest level reached by this railroad.  From this point eastward the
streams fall into the Atlantic.  The ascent of these apparently level
plateaus is called "crossing the Rocky Mountains," but I have seen
nothing of the range, except two peaks like teeth lying low on the
distant horizon.  It became mercilessly cold; some people thought it
snowed, but I only saw rolling billows of fog.  Lads passed through the
cars the whole morning, selling newspapers, novels, cacti, lollypops,
pop corn, pea nuts, and ivory ornaments, so that, having lost all
reckoning of the days, I never knew that it was Sunday till the cars
pulled up at the door of the hotel in this detestable place.

[6] The mountains which bound the "valley of the Babbling Waters,"
Utah, afford striking examples of these "knobs" or "buttes."


The surrounding plains were endless and verdureless.  The scanty
grasses were long ago turned into sun-cured hay by the fierce summer
heats.  There is neither tree nor bush, the sky is grey, the earth
buff, the air blae and windy, and clouds of coarse granitic dust sweep
across the prairie and smother the settlement.  Cheyenne is described
as "a God-forsaken, God-forgotten place."  That it forgets God is
written on its face.  It owes its existence to the railroad, and has
diminished in population, but is a depot for a large amount of the
necessaries of life which are distributed through the scantily settled
districts within distances of 300 miles by "freight wagons," each drawn
by four or six horses or mules, or double that number of oxen.  At
times over 100 wagons, with double that number of teamsters, are in
Cheyenne at once.  A short time ago it was a perfect pandemonium,
mainly inhabited by rowdies and desperadoes, the scum of advancing
civilization; and murders, stabbings, shooting, and pistol affrays were
at times events of almost hourly occurrence in its drinking dens.  But
in the West, when things reach their worst, a sharp and sure remedy is
provided.  Those settlers who find the state of matters intolerable,
organize themselves into a Vigilance Committee.  "Judge Lynch," with a
few feet of rope, appears on the scene, the majority crystallizes round
the supporters of order, warnings are issued to obnoxious people,
simply bearing a scrawl of a tree with a man dangling from it, with
such words as "Clear out of this by 6 A.M., or----."  A number of the
worst desperadoes are tried by a yet more summary process than a
drumhead court martial, "strung up," and buried ignominiously.  I have
been told that 120 ruffians were disposed of in this way here in a
single fortnight.  Cheyenne is now as safe as Hilo, and the interval
between the most desperate lawlessness and the time when United States
law, with its corruption and feebleness, comes upon the scene is one of
comparative security and good order.  Piety is not the forte of
Cheyenne.  The roads resound with atrocious profanity, and the rowdyism
of the saloons and bar-rooms is repressed, not extirpated.

The population, once 6,000, is now about 4,000. It is an ill-arranged
set of frame houses and shanties [7] and rubbish heaps, and offal of
deer and antelope, produce the foulest smells I have smelt for a long
time.  Some of the houses are painted a blinding white; others are
unpainted; there is not a bush, or garden, or green thing; it just
straggles out promiscuously on the boundless brown plains, on the
extreme verge of which three toothy peaks are seen.  It is utterly
slovenly-looking, and unornamental, abounds in slouching
bar-room-looking characters, and looks a place of low, mean lives.
Below the hotel window freight cars are being perpetually shunted, but
beyond the railroad tracks are nothing but the brown plains, with their
lonely sights--now a solitary horseman at a traveling amble, then a
party of Indians in paint and feathers, but civilized up to the point
of carrying firearms, mounted on sorry ponies, the bundled-up squaws
riding astride on the baggage ponies; then a drove of ridgy-spined,
long-horned cattle, which have been several months eating their way
from Texas, with their escort of four or five much-spurred horsemen, in
peaked hats, blue-hooded coats, and high boots, heavily armed with
revolvers and repeating rifles, and riding small wiry horses.  A
solitary wagon, with a white tilt, drawn by eight oxen, is probably
bearing an emigrant and his fortunes to Colorado.  On one of the dreary
spaces of the settlement six white-tilted wagons, each with twelve
oxen, are standing on their way to a distant part.  Everything suggests
a beyond.

[7] The discovery of gold in the Black Hills has lately given it a
great impetus, and as it is the chief point of departure for the
diggings it is increasing in population and importance.  (July, 1879)


September 9.

I have found at the post office here a circular letter of
recommendation from ex-Governor Hunt, procured by Miss Kingsley's
kindness, and another equally valuable one of "authentication" and
recommendation from Mr. Bowles, of the Springfield Republican, whose
name is a household word in all the West.  Armed with these, I shall
plunge boldly into Colorado.  I am suffering from giddiness and nausea
produced by the bad smells.  A "help" here says that there have been
fifty-six deaths from cholera during the last twenty days.  Is common
humanity lacking, I wonder, in this region of hard greed?  Can it not
be bought by dollars here, like every other commodity, votes included?
Last night I made the acquaintance of a shadowy gentleman from
Wisconsin, far gone in consumption, with a spirited wife and young
baby.  He had been ordered to the Plains as a last resource, but was
much worse.  Early this morning he crawled to my door, scarcely able to
speak from debility and bleeding from the lungs, begging me to go to
his wife, who, the doctor said was ill of cholera.  The child had been
ill all night, and not for love or money could he get any one to do
anything for them, not even to go for the medicine.  The lady was blue,
and in great pain from cramp, and the poor unweaned infant was roaring
for the nourishment which had failed.  I vainly tried to get hot water
and mustard for a poultice, and though I offered a Negro a dollar to go
for the medicine, he looked at it superciliously, hummed a tune, and
said he must wait for the Pacific train, which was not due for an hour.
Equally in vain I hunted through Cheyenne for a feeding bottle.  Not a
maternal heart softened to the helpless mother and starving child, and
my last resource was to dip a piece of sponge in some milk and water,
and try to pacify the creature.  I applied Rigollot's leaves, went for
the medicine, saw the popular host--a bachelor--who mentioned a girl
who, after much difficulty, consented to take charge of the baby for
two dollars a day and attend to the mother, and having remained till
she began to amend, I took the cars for Greeley, a settlement on the
Plains, which I had been recommended to make my starting point for the
mountains.


FORT COLLINS, September 10.

It gave me a strange sensation to embark upon the Plains.  Plains,
plains everywhere, plains generally level, but elsewhere rolling in
long undulations, like the waves of a sea which had fallen asleep.
They are covered thinly with buff grass, the withered stalks of
flowers, Spanish bayonet, and a small beehive-shaped cactus.  One could
gallop all over them.

They are peopled with large villages of what are called prairie dogs,
because they utter a short, sharp bark, but the dogs are, in reality,
marmots.  We passed numbers of villages, which are composed of raised
circular orifices, about eighteen inches in diameter, with sloping
passages leading downwards for five or six feet.  Hundreds of these
burrows are placed together.  On nearly every rim a small furry
reddish-buff beast sat on his hind legs, looking, so far as head went,
much like a young seal.  These creatures were acting as sentinels, and
sunning themselves.  As we passed, each gave a warning yelp, shook its
tail, and, with a ludicrous flourish of its hind legs, dived into its
hole.  The appearance of hundreds of these creatures, each eighteen
inches long, sitting like dogs begging, with their paws down and all
turned sunwards, is most grotesque.  The Wish-ton-Wish has few enemies,
and is a most prolific animal.  From its enormous increase and the
energy and extent of its burrowing operations, one can fancy that in
the course of years the prairies will be seriously injured, as it
honeycombs the ground, and renders it unsafe for horses.  The burrows
seem usually to be shared by owls, and many of the people insist that a
rattlesnake is also an inmate, but I hope for the sake of the harmless,
cheery little prairie dog, that this unwelcome fellowship is a myth.

After running on a down grade for some time, five distinct ranges of
mountains, one above another, a lurid blue against a lurid sky,
upheaved themselves above the prairie sea.  An American railway car,
hot, stuffy and full of chewing, spitting Yankees, was not an ideal way
of approaching this range which had early impressed itself upon my
imagination.  Still, it was truly grand, although it was sixty miles
off, and we were looking at it from a platform 5,000 feet in height.
As I write I am only twenty-five miles from them, and they are
gradually gaining possession of me.

I can look at and FEEL nothing else.  At five in the afternoon frame
houses and green fields began to appear, the cars drew up, and two of
my fellow passengers and I got out and carried our own luggage through
the deep dust to a small, rough, Western tavern, where with difficulty
we were put up for the night.  This settlement is called the Greeley
Temperance Colony, and was founded lately by an industrious class of
emigrants from the East, all total abstainers, and holding advanced
political opinions.  They bought and fenced 50,000 acres of land,
constructed an irrigating canal, which distributes its waters on
reasonable terms, have already a population of 3,000, and are the most
prosperous and rising colony in Colorado, being altogether free from
either laziness or crime.  Their rich fields are artificially
productive solely; and after seeing regions where Nature gives
spontaneously, one is amazed that people should settle here to be
dependent on irrigating canals, with the risk of having their crops
destroyed by grasshoppers.  A clause in the charter of the colony
prohibits the introduction, sale, or consumption of intoxicating
liquor, and I hear that the men of Greeley carry their crusade against
drink even beyond their limits, and have lately sacked three houses
open for the sale of drink near their frontier, pouring the whisky upon
the ground, so that people don't now like to run the risk of bringing
liquor near Greeley, and the temperance influence is spreading over a
very large area.  As the men have no bar-rooms to sit in, I observed
that Greeley was asleep at an hour when other places were beginning
their revelries.  Nature is niggardly, and living is coarse and rough,
the merest necessaries of hardy life being all that can be thought of
in this stage of existence.

My first experiences of Colorado travel have been rather severe.  At
Greeley I got a small upstairs room at first, but gave it up to a
married couple with a child, and then had one downstairs no bigger than
a cabin, with only a canvas partition.  It was very hot, and every
place was thick with black flies.  The English landlady had just lost
her "help," and was in a great fuss, so that I helped her to get supper
ready.  Its chief features were greasiness and black flies.  Twenty men
in working clothes fed and went out again, "nobody speaking to nobody."
The landlady introduced me to a Vermont settler who lives in the "Foot
Hills," who was very kind and took a great deal of trouble to get me a
horse.  Horses abound, but they are either large American horses, which
are only used for draught, or small, active horses, called broncos,
said to be from a Spanish word, signifying that they can never be
broke.  They nearly all "buck," and are described as being more "ugly"
and treacherous than mules.  There is only one horse in Greeley "safe
for a woman to ride."  I tried an Indian pony by moonlight--such a
moonlight--but found he had tender feet.  The kitchen was the only
sitting room, so I shortly went to bed, to be awoke very soon by
crawling creatures apparently in myriads.  I struck a light, and found
such swarms of bugs that I gathered myself up on the wooden chairs, and
dozed uneasily till sunrise.  Bugs are a great pest in Colorado.  They
come out of the earth, infest the wooden walls, and cannot be got rid
of by any amount of cleanliness.  Many careful housewives take their
beds to pieces every week and put carbolic acid on them.

It was a glorious, cool morning, and the great range of the Rocky
Mountains looked magnificent.  I tried the pony again, but found he
would not do for a long journey; and as my Vermont acquaintance offered
me a seat in his wagon to Fort Collins, twenty-five miles nearer the
Mountains, I threw a few things together and came here with him.  We
left Greeley at 10, and arrived here at 4:30, staying an hour for food
on the way.  I liked the first half of the drive; but the fierce,
ungoverned, blazing heat of the sun on the whitish earth for the last
half, was terrible even with my white umbrella, which I have not used
since I left New Zealand; it was sickening.  Then the eyes have never
anything green to rest upon, except in the river bottoms, where there
is green hay grass.  We followed mostly the course of the River
Cache-a-la-Poudre, which rises in the Mountains, and after supplying
Greeley with irrigation, falls into the Platte, which is an affluent of
the Missouri.  When once beyond the scattered houses and great ring
fence of the vigorous Greeley colonists, we were on the boundless
prairie.  Now and then horsemen passed us, and we met three wagons with
white tilts.  Except where the prairie dogs have honeycombed the
ground, you can drive almost anywhere, and the passage of a few wagons
over the same track makes a road.  We forded the river, whose course is
marked the whole way by a fringe of small cotton-woods and aspens, and
traveled hour after hour with nothing to see except some dog towns,
with their quaint little sentinels; but the view in front was glorious.
The Alps, from the Lombard Plains, are the finest mountain panorama I
ever saw, but not equal to this; for not only do five high-peaked
giants, each nearly the height of Mont Blanc, lift their dazzling
summits above the lower ranges, but the expanse of mountains is so
vast, and the whole lie in a transparent medium of the richest blue,
not haze--something peculiar to the region.  The lack of foreground is
a great artistic fault, and the absence of greenery is melancholy, and
makes me recall sadly the entrancing detail of the Hawaiian Islands.
Once only, the second time we forded the river, the cotton-woods formed
a foreground, and then the loveliness was heavenly.  We stopped at a
log house and got a rough dinner of beef and potatoes, and I was amused
at the five men who shared it with us for apologizing to me for being
without their coats, as if coats would not be an enormity on the Plains.

It is the election day for the Territory, and men were galloping over
the prairie to register their votes.  The three in the wagon talked
politics the whole time.  They spoke openly and shamelessly of the
prices given for votes; and apparently there was not a politician on
either side who was not accused of degrading corruption.  We saw a
convoy of 5,000 head of Texas cattle traveling from southern Texas to
Iowa.  They had been nine months on the way!  They were under the
charge of twenty mounted vacheros, heavily armed, and a light wagon
accompanied them, full of extra rifles and ammunition, not unnecessary,
for the Indians are raiding in all directions, maddened by the reckless
and useless slaughter of the buffalo, which is their chief subsistence.
On the Plains are herds of wild horses, buffalo, deer, and antelope;
and in the Mountains, bears, wolves, deer, elk, mountain lions, bison,
and mountain sheep.  You see a rifle in every wagon, as people always
hope to fall in with game.

By the time we reached Fort Collins I was sick and dizzy with the heat
of the sun, and not disposed to be pleased with a most unpleasing
place.  It was a military post, but at present consists of a few frame
houses put down recently on the bare and burning plain.  The settlers
have "great expectations," but of what?  The Mountains look hardly
nearer than from Greeley; one only realizes their vicinity by the loss
of their higher peaks.  This house is freer from bugs than the one at
Greeley, but full of flies.  These new settlements are altogether
revolting, entirely utilitarian, given up to talk of dollars as well as
to making them, with coarse speech, coarse food, coarse everything,
nothing wherewith to satisfy the higher cravings if they exist, nothing
on which the eye can rest with pleasure.  The lower floor of this inn
swarms with locusts in addition to thousands of black flies.  The
latter cover the ground and rise buzzing from it as you walk.

                                   I. L. B.



Letter IV

A plague of flies--A melancholy charioteer--The Foot Hills--A mountain
boarding-house--A dull life--"Being agreeable"--Climate of
Colorado--Soroche and snakes.

CANYON, September 12.

I was actually so dull and tired that I deliberately slept away the
afternoon in order to forget the heat and flies.  Thirty men in working
clothes, silent and sad looking, came in to supper.  The beef was tough
and greasy, the butter had turned to oil, and beef and butter were
black with living, drowned, and half-drowned flies.  The greasy
table-cloth was black also with flies, and I did not wonder that the
guests looked melancholy and quickly escaped.  I failed to get a horse,
but was strongly recommended to come here and board with a settler,
who, they said, had a saw-mill and took boarders.  The person who
recommended it so strongly gave me a note of introduction, and told me
that it was in a grand part of the mountains, where many people had
been camping out all the summer for the benefit of their health.  The
idea of a boarding-house, as I know them in America, was rather
formidable in the present state of my wardrobe, and I decided on
bringing my carpet-bag, as well as my pack, lest I should be rejected
for my bad clothes.

Early the next morning I left in a buggy drawn by light broncos and
driven by a profoundly melancholy young man.  He had never been to the
canyon; there was no road.  We met nobody, saw nothing except antelope
in the distance, and he became more melancholy and lost his way,
driving hither and thither for about twenty miles till we came upon an
old trail which eventually brought us to a fertile "bottom," where hay
and barley were being harvested, and five or six frame houses looked
cheerful.  I had been recommended to two of these, which professed to
take in strangers, but one was full of reapers, and in the other a
child was dead.  So I took the buggy on, glad to leave the glaring,
prosaic settlement behind.  There was a most curious loneliness about
the journey up to that time.  Except for the huge barrier to the right,
the boundless prairies were everywhere, and it was like being at sea
without a compass.  The wheels made neither sound nor indentation as we
drove over the short, dry grass, and there was no cheerful clatter of
horses' hoofs.  The sky was cloudy and the air hot and still.  In one
place we passed the carcass of a mule, and a number of vultures soared
up from it, to descend again immediately.  Skeletons and bones of
animals were often to be seen.  A range of low, grassy hills, called
the Foot Hills, rose from the plain, featureless and monotonous, except
where streams, fed by the snows of the higher regions, had cut their
way through them.  Confessedly bewildered, and more melancholy than
ever, the driver turned up one of the wildest of these entrances, and
in another hour the Foot Hills lay between us and the prairie sea, and
a higher and broken range, with pitch pines of average size, was
revealed behind them.  These Foot Hills, which swell up uninterestingly
from the plains on their eastern side, on their western have the
appearance of having broken off from the next range, and the break is
abrupt, and takes the form of walls and terraces of rock of the most
brilliant color, weathered and stained by ores, and, even under the
grey sky, dazzling to the eyes.  The driver thought he had understood
the directions given, but he was stupid, and once we lost some miles by
arriving at a river too rough and deep to be forded, and again we were
brought up by an impassable canyon.  He grew frightened about his
horses, and said no money would ever tempt him into the mountains
again; but average intelligence would have made it all easy.

The solitude was becoming somber, when, after driving for nine hours,
and traveling at the least forty-five miles, without any sign of
fatigue on the part of the broncos, we came to a stream, by the side of
which we drove along a definite track, till we came to a sort of
tripartite valley, with a majestic crooked canyon 2,000 feet deep
opening upon it.  A rushing stream roared through it, and the Rocky
Mountains, with pines scattered over them, came down upon it.  A little
farther, and the canyon became utterly inaccessible.  This was
exciting; here was an inner world.  A rough and shaky bridge, made of
the outsides of pines laid upon some unsecured logs, crossed the river.
The broncos stopped and smelt it, not liking it, but some encouraging
speech induced them to go over.  On the other side was a log cabin,
partially ruinous, and the very rudest I ever saw, its roof of
plastered mud being broken into large holes.  It stood close to the
water among some cotton-wood trees.  A little higher there was a very
primitive saw-mill, also out of repair, with some logs lying about.  An
emigrant wagon and a forlorn tent, with a camp-fire and a pot, were in
the foreground, but there was no trace of the boarding-house, of which
I stood a little in dread.  The driver went for further directions to
the log cabin, and returned with a grim smile deepening the melancholy
of his face to say it was Mr. Chalmers', but there was no accommodation
for such as him, much less for me!  This was truly "a sell."  I got
down and found a single room of the rudest kind, with the wall at one
end partially broken down, holes in the roof, holes for windows, and no
furniture but two chairs and two unplaned wooden shelves, with some
sacks of straw upon them for beds.  There was an adjacent cabin room,
with a stove, benches, and table, where they cooked and ate, but this
was all.  A hard, sad-looking woman looked at me measuringly.  She said
that they sold milk and butter to parties who camped in the canyon,
that they had never had any boarders but two asthmatic old ladies, but
they would take me for five dollars per week if I "would make myself
agreeable."  The horses had to be fed, and I sat down on a box, had
some dried beef and milk, and considered the matter.  If I went back to
Fort Collins, I thought I was farther from a mountain life, and had no
choice but Denver, a place from which I shrank, or to take the cars for
New York.  Here the life was rough, rougher than any I had ever seen,
and the people repelled me by their faces and manners; but if I could
rough it for a few days, I might, I thought, get over canyons and all
other difficulties into Estes Park, which has become the goal of my
journey and hopes.  So I decided to remain.

September 16.

Five days here, and I am no nearer Estes Park.  How the days pass I
know not; I am weary of the limitations of this existence.  This is "a
life in which nothing happens."  When the buggy disappeared, I felt as
if I had cut the bridge behind me.  I sat down and knitted for some
time--my usual resource under discouraging circumstances.  I really did
not know how I should get on.  There was no table, no bed, no basin, no
towel, no glass, no window, no fastening on the door.  The roof was in
holes, the logs were unchinked, and one end of the cabin was partially
removed!  Life was reduced to its simplest elements.  I went out; the
family all had something to do, and took no notice of me.  I went back,
and then an awkward girl of sixteen, with uncombed hair, and a painful
repulsiveness of face and air, sat on a log for half an hour and stared
at me.  I tried to draw her into talk, but she twirled her fingers and
replied snappishly in monosyllables.  Could I by any effort "make
myself agreeable"?  I wondered. The day went on.  I put on my Hawaiian
dress, rolling up the sleeves to the elbows in an "agreeable" fashion.
Towards evening the family returned to feed, and pushed some dried beef
and milk in at the door.  They all slept under the trees, and before
dark carried the sacks of straw out for their bedding.  I followed
their example that night, or rather watched Charles's Wain while they
slept, but since then have slept on blankets on the floor under the
roof.  They have neither lamp nor candle, so if I want to do anything
after dark I have to do it by the unsteady light of pine knots.  As the
nights are cold, and free from bugs, and I do a good deal of manual
labor, I sleep well.  At dusk I make my bed on the floor, and draw a
bucket of ice-cold water from the river; the family go to sleep under
the trees, and I pile logs on the fire sufficient to burn half the
night, for I assure you the solitude is eerie enough.  There are
unaccountable noises, (wolves), rummagings under the floor, queer
cries, and stealthy sounds of I know not what.  One night a beast (fox
or skunk) rushed in at the open end of the cabin, and fled through the
window, almost brushing my face, and on another, the head and three or
four inches of the body of a snake were protruded through a chink of
the floor close to me, to my extreme disgust.  My mirror is the
polished inside of my watchcase.  At sunrise Mrs. Chalmers comes in--if
coming into a nearly open shed can be called IN--and makes a fire,
because she thinks me too stupid to do it, and mine is the family room;
and by seven I am dressed, have folded the blankets, and swept the
floor, and then she puts some milk and bread or stirabout on a box by
the door.  After breakfast I draw more water, and wash one or two
garments daily, taking care that there are no witnesses of my
inexperience.  Yesterday a calf sucked one into hopeless rags.  The
rest of the day I spend in mending, knitting, writing to you, and the
various odds and ends which arise when one has to do all for oneself.
At twelve and six some food is put on the box by the door, and at dusk
we make up our beds.  A distressed emigrant woman has just given birth
to a child in a temporary shanty by the river, and I go to help her
each day.

I have made the acquaintance of all the careworn, struggling settlers
within a walk.  All have come for health, and most have found or are
finding it, even if they have not better shelter than a wagon tilt or a
blanket on sticks laid across four poles.  The climate of Colorado is
considered the finest in North America, and consumptives, asthmatics,
dyspeptics, and sufferers from nervous diseases, are here in hundreds
and thousands, either trying the "camp cure" for three or four months,
or settling here permanently.  People can safely sleep out of doors for
six months of the year.  The plains are from 4,000 to 6,000 feet high,
and some of the settled "parks," or mountain valleys, are from  8,000
to 10,000.  The air, besides being much rarefied, is very dry.  The
rainfall is far below the average, dews are rare, and fogs nearly
unknown.  The sunshine is bright and almost constant, and three-fourths
of the days are cloudless.  The milk, beef, and bread are good.  The
climate is neither so hot in summer nor so cold in winter as that of
the States, and when the days are hot the nights are cool.  Snow rarely
lies on the lower ranges, and horses and cattle don't require to be
either fed or housed during the winter.  Of course the rarefied air
quickens respiration.  All this is from hearsay.[8] I am not under
favorable circumstances, either for mind or body, and at present I feel
a singular lassitude and difficulty in taking exercise, but this is
said to be the milder form of the affliction known on higher altitudes
as soroche, or "mountain sickness," and is only temporary.  I am
forming a plan for getting farther into the mountains, and hope that my
next letter will be more lively.  I killed a rattlesnake this morning
close to the cabin, and have taken its rattle, which has eleven joints.
My life is embittered by the abundance of these reptiles--rattlesnakes
and moccasin snakes, both deadly, carpet snakes and "green racers,"
reputed dangerous, water snakes, tree snakes, and mouse snakes,
harmless but abominable.  Seven rattlesnakes have been killed just
outside the cabin since I came.  A snake, three feet long, was coiled
under the pillow of the sick woman.  I see snakes in all withered
twigs, and am ready to flee at "the sound of a shaken leaf."  And
besides snakes, the earth and air are alive and noisy with forms of
insect life, large and small, stinging, humming, buzzing, striking,
rasping, devouring!

[8] The curative effect of the climate of Colorado can hardly be
exaggerated.  In traveling extensively through the Territory afterwards
I found that nine out of every ten settlers were cured invalids.
Statistics and medical workers on the climate of the State (as it now
is) represent Colorado as the most remarkable sanatorium in the world.

                                I. L. B.



Letter V

A dateless day--"Those hands of yours"--A Puritan--Persevering
shiftlessness--The house-mother--Family worship--A grim Sunday--A
"thick-skulled Englishman"--A morning call--Another atmosphere--The
Great Lone Land--"Ill found"--A log camp--Bad footing for
horses--Accidents--Disappointment.

CANYON, September.

The absence of a date shows my predicament.  THEY have no newspaper;
_I_ have no almanack; the father is away for the day, and none of the
others can help me, and they look contemptuously upon my desire for
information on the subject.  The monotony will come to an end
to-morrow, for Chalmers offers to be my guide over the mountains to
Estes Park, and has persuaded his wife "for once to go for a frolic";
and with much reluctance, many growls at the waste of time, and many
apprehensions of danger and loss, she has consented to accompany him.
My life has grown less dull from their having become more interesting
to me, and as I have "made myself agreeable," we are on fairly friendly
terms.  My first move in the direction of fraternizing was, however,
snubbed.  A few days ago, having finished my own work, I offered to
wash up the plates, but Mrs. C., with a look which conveyed more than
words, a curl of her nose, and a sneer in her twang, said "Guess you'll
make more work nor you'll do.  Those hands of yours" (very brown and
coarse they were) "ain't no good; never done nothing, I guess."  Then
to her awkward daughter: "This woman says she'll wash up!  Ha! ha! look
at her arms and hands!"  This was the nearest approach to a laugh I
have heard, and have never seen even a tendency towards a smile.  Since
then I have risen in their estimation by improvizing a lamp--Hawaiian
fashion--by putting a wisp of rag into a tin of fat.  They have
actually condescended to sit up till the stars come out since.  Another
advance was made by means of the shell-pattern quilt I am knitting for
you.  There has been a tendency towards approving of it, and a few days
since the girl snatched it out of my hand, saying, "I want this," and
apparently took it to the camp.  This has resulted in my having a
knitting class, with the woman, her married daughter, and a woman from
the camp, as pupils.  Then I have gained ground with the man by being
able to catch and saddle a horse.  I am often reminded of my favorite
couplet,--

  Beware of desperate steps; the darkest day,
  Live till to-morrow, will have passed away.

But oh! what a hard, narrow life it is with which I am now in contact!
A narrow and unattractive religion, which I believe still to be
genuine, and an intense but narrow patriotism, are the only higher
influences.  Chalmers came from Illinois nine years ago, pronounced by
the doctors to be far gone in consumption, and in two years he was
strong.  They are a queer family; somewhere in the remote Highlands I
have seen such another.  Its head is tall, gaunt, lean, and ragged, and
has lost one eye.  On an English road one would think him a starving or
a dangerous beggar.  He is slightly intelligent, very opinionated, and
wishes to be thought well informed, which he is not.  He belongs to the
straitest sect of Reformed Presbyterians ("Psalm-singers"), but
exaggerates anything of bigotry and intolerance which may characterize
them, and rejoices in truly merciless fashion over the excision of the
philanthropic Mr. Stuart, of Philadelphia, for worshipping with
congregations which sing hymns.  His great boast is that his ancestors
were Scottish Covenanters.  He considers himself a profound theologian,
and by the pine logs at night discourses to me on the mysteries of the
eternal counsels and the divine decrees.  Colorado, with its progress
and its future, is also a constant theme.  He hates England with a
bitter, personal hatred, and regards any allusions which I make to the
progress of Victoria as a personal insult.  He trusts to live to see
the downfall of the British monarchy and the disintegration of the
empire.  He is very fond of talking, and asks me a great deal about my
travels, but if I speak favorably of the climate or resources of any
other country, he regards it as a slur on Colorado.

They have one hundred and sixty acres of land, a "Squatter's claim,"
and an invaluable water power.  He is a lumberer, and has a saw-mill of
a very primitive kind.  I notice that every day something goes wrong
with it, and this is the case throughout.  If he wants to haul timber
down, one or other of the oxen cannot be found; or if the timber is
actually under way, a wheel or a part of the harness gives way, and the
whole affair is at a standstill for days.  The cabin is hardly a
shelter, but is allowed to remain in ruins because the foundation of a
frame house was once dug.  A horse is always sure to be lame for want
of a shoe nail, or a saddle to be useless from a broken buckle, and the
wagon and harness are a marvel of temporary shifts, patchings, and
insecure linkings with strands of rope.  Nothing is ever ready or whole
when it is wanted.  Yet Chalmers is a frugal, sober, hard-working man,
and he, his eldest son, and a "hired man" "Rise early," "going forth to
their work and labor till the evening"; and if they do not "late take
rest," they truly "eat the bread of carefulness."  It is hardly
surprising that nine years of persevering shiftlessness should have
resulted in nothing but the ability to procure the bare necessaries of
life.

Of Mrs. C. I can say less.  She looks like one of the English poor
women of our childhood--lean, clean, toothless, and speaks, like some
of them, in a piping, discontented voice, which seems to convey a
personal reproach.  All her waking hours are spent in a large
sun-bonnet.  She is never idle for one minute, is severe and hard, and
despises everything but work.  I think she suffers from her husband's
shiftlessness.  She always speaks of me as "This" or "that woman."  The
family consists of a grown-up son, a shiftless, melancholy-looking
youth, who possibly pines for a wider life; a girl of sixteen, a sour,
repellent-looking creature, with as much manners as a pig; and three
hard, un-child-like younger children.  By the whole family all courtesy
and gentleness of act or speech seem regarded as "works of the flesh,"
if not of "the devil."  They knock over all one's things without
apologizing or picking them up, and when I thank them for anything they
look grimly amazed.  I feel that they think it sinful that I do not
work as hard as they do.  I wish I could show them "a more excellent
way."  This hard greed, and the exclusive pursuit of gain, with the
indifference to all which does not aid in its acquisition, are eating
up family love and life throughout the West.  I write this reluctantly,
and after a total experience of  nearly two years in the United States.
They seem to have no "Sunday clothes," and few of any kind.  The sewing
machine, like most other things, is out of order.  One comb serves the
whole family.  Mrs. C. is cleanly in her person and dress, and the
food, though poor, is clean.  Work, work, work, is their day and their
life.  They are thoroughly ungenial, and have that air of suspicion in
speaking of every one which is not unusual in the land of their
ancestors.  Thomas Chalmers is the man's ecclesiastical hero, in spite
of his own severe Puritanism.  Their live stock consists of two
wretched horses, a fairly good bronco mare, a mule, four badly-bred
cows, four gaunt and famished-looking oxen, some swine of singularly
active habits, and plenty of poultry.  The old saddles are tied on with
twine; one side of the bridle is a worn-out strap and the other a rope.
They wear boots, but never two of one pair, and never blacked, of
course, but no stockings.  They think it quite effeminate to sleep
under a roof, except during the severest months of the year.  There is
a married daughter across the river, just the same hard, loveless,
moral, hard-working being as her mother.  Each morning, soon after
seven, when I have swept the cabin, the family come in for "worship."
Chalmers "wales" a psalm, in every sense of the word wail, to the most
doleful of dismal tunes; they read a chapter round, and he prays.  If
his prayer has something of the tone of the imprecatory psalms, he has
high authority in his favor; and if there be a tinge of the Pharisaic
thanksgiving, it is hardly surprising that he is grateful that he is
not as other men are when he contemplates the general godlessness of
the region.

Sunday was a dreadful day.  The family kept the Commandment literally,
and did no work.  Worship was conducted twice, and was rather longer
than usual.  Chalmers does not allow of any books in his house but
theological works, and two or three volumes of dull travels, so the
mother and children slept nearly all day.  The man attempted to read a
well-worn copy of Boston's Fourfold State, but shortly fell asleep, and
they only woke up for their meals.  Friday and Saturday had been
passably cool, with frosty nights, but on Saturday night it changed,
and I have not felt anything like the heat of Sunday since I left New
Zealand, though the mercury was not higher than 91 degrees.  It was
sickening, scorching, melting, unbearable, from the mere power of the
sun's rays.  It was an awful day, and seemed as if it would never come
to an end.  The cabin, with its mud roof under the shade of the trees,
gave a little shelter, but it was occupied by the family, and I longed
for solitude.  I took the Imitation of Christ, and strolled up the
canyon among the withered, crackling leaves, in much dread of snakes,
and lay down on a rough table which some passing emigrant had left, and
soon fell asleep.  When I awoke it was only noon.  The sun looked
wicked as it blazed like a white magnesium light.  A large tree-snake
(quite harmless) hung from the pine under which I had taken shelter,
and looked as if it were going to drop upon me.  I was covered with
black flies.  The air was full of a busy, noisy din of insects, and
snakes, locusts, wasps, flies, and grasshoppers were all rioting in the
torrid heat.  Would the sublime philosophy of Thomas a Kempis, I
wondered, have given way under this?  All day I seemed to hear in
mockery the clear laugh of the Hilo streams, and the drip of Kona
showers, and to see as in a mirage the perpetual Green of windward
Hawaii.  I was driven back to the cabin in the late afternoon, and in
the evening listened for two hours to abuse of my own country, and to
sweeping condemnations of all religionists outside of the brotherhood
of "Psalm-singers."  It is jarring and painful, yet I would say of
Chalmers, as Dr. Holland says of another:--

  If ever I shall reach the home in heaven,
  For whose dear rest I humbly hope and pray,
  In the great company of the forgiven
  I shall be sure to meet old Daniel Gray.


The night came without coolness, but at daylight on Monday morning a
fire was pleasant.  You will now have some idea of my surroundings.  It
is a moral, hard, unloving, unlovely, unrelieved, unbeautified,
grinding life.  These people live in a discomfort and lack of ease and
refinement which seems only possible to people of British stock.  A
"foreigner" fills his cabin with ingenuities and elegancies, and a
Hawaiian or South Sea Islander makes his grass house both pretty and
tasteful.  Add to my surroundings a mighty canyon, impassable both
above and below, and walls of mountains with an opening some miles off
to the vast prairie sea.[9]

[9] I have not curtailed this description of the roughness of a
Colorado settler's life, for, with the exceptions of the disrepair and
the Puritanism, it is a type of the hard, unornamented existence with
which I came almost universally in contact during my subsequent
residence in the Territory.


An English physician is settled about half a mile from here over a
hill.  He is spoken of as holding "very extreme opinions." Chalmers
rails at him for being "a thick-skulled Englishman," for being "fine,
polished," etc.  To say a man is "polished" here is to give him a very
bad name.  He accuses him also of holding views subversive of all
morality.  In spite of all this, I thought he might possess a map, and
I induced Mrs. C. to walk over with me.  She intended it as a formal
morning call, but she wore the inevitable sun-bonnet, and had her dress
tied up as when washing.  It was not till I reached the gate that I
remembered that I was in my Hawaiian riding dress, and that I still
wore the spurs with which I had been trying a horse in the morning!
The house was in a grass valley which opened from the tremendous canyon
through which the river had cut its way.  The Foot Hills, with their
terraces of flaming red rock, were glowing in the sunset, and a pure
green sky arched tenderly over a soft evening scene.  Used to the
meanness and baldness of settlers' dwellings.  I was delighted to see
that in this instance the usual log cabin was only the lower floor of a
small house, which bore a delightful resemblance to a Swiss chalet.  It
stood in a vegetable garden fertilized by an irrigating ditch, outside
of which were a barn and cowshed.  A young Swiss girl was bringing the
cows slowly home from the hill, an Englishwoman in a clean print dress
stood by the fence holding a baby, and a fine-looking Englishman in a
striped Garibaldi shirt, and trousers of the same tucked into high
boots, was shelling corn.  As soon as Mrs. Hughes spoke I felt she was
truly a lady; and oh! how refreshing her refined, courteous, graceful
English manner was, as she invited us into the house!  The entrance was
low, through a log porch festooned and almost concealed by a "wild
cucumber." Inside, though plain and poor, the room looked a home, not
like a squatter's cabin.  An old tin was completely covered by a
graceful clematis mixed with streamers of Virginia creeper, and white
muslin curtains, and above all two shelves of admirably-chosen books,
gave the room almost an air of elegance.  Why do I write almost?  It
was an oasis.  It was barely three weeks since I had left "the
communion of educated men," and the first tones of the voices of my
host and hostess made me feel as if I had been out of it for a year.
Mrs. C. stayed an hour and a half, and then went home to the cows, when
we launched upon a sea of congenial talk.  They said they had not seen
an educated lady for two years, and pressed me to go and visit them.  I
rode home on Dr. Hughes's horse after dark, to find neither fire nor
light in the cabin.  Mrs. C. had gone back saying, "Those English
talked just like savages, I couldn't understand a word they said."

I made a fire, and extemporized a light with some fat and a wick of
rag, and Chalmers came in to discuss my visit and to ask me a question
concerning a matter which had roused the latent curiosity of the whole
family.  I had told him, he said, that I knew no one hereabouts, but
"his woman" told him that Dr. H. and I spoke constantly of a Mrs.
Grundy, whom we both knew and disliked, and who was settled, as we
said, not far off!  He had never heard of her, he said, and he was the
pioneer settler of the canyon, and there was a man up here from
Longmount who said he was sure there was not a Mrs. Grundy in the
district, unless it was a woman who went by two names!  The wife and
family had then come in, and I felt completely nonplussed.  I longed to
tell Chalmers that it was he and such as he, there or anywhere, with
narrow hearts, bitter tongues, and harsh judgments, who were the true
"Mrs. Grundys," dwarfing individuality, checking lawful freedom of
speech, and making men "offenders for a word," but I forebore.  How I
extricated myself from the difficulty, deponent sayeth not.  The rest
of the evening has been spent in preparing to cross the mountains.
Chalmers says he knows the way well, and that we shall sleep to-morrow
at the foot of Long's Peak.  Mrs. Chalmers repents of having consented,
and conjures up doleful visions of what the family will come to when
left headless, and of disasters among the cows and hens.  I could tell
her that the eldest son and the "hired man" have plotted to close the
saw-mill and go on a hunting and fishing expedition, that the cows will
stray, and that the individual spoken respectfully of as "Mr. Skunk"
will make havoc in the hen-house.


NAMELESS REGION, ROCKY MOUNTAINS, September.

This is indeed far removed.  It seems farther away from you than any
place I have been to yet, except the frozen top of the volcano of Mauna
Loa.  It is so little profaned by man that if one were compelled to
live here in solitude one might truly say of the bears, deer, and elk
which abound, "Their tameness is shocking to me." It is the world of
"big game."  Just now a heavy-headed elk, with much-branched horns
fully three feet long, stood and looked at me, and then quietly trotted
away.  He was so near that I heard the grass, crisp with hoar frost,
crackle under his feet.  Bears stripped the cherry bushes within a few
yards of us last night.  Now two lovely blue birds, with crests on
their heads, are picking about within a stone's-throw.  This is "The
Great Lone Land," until lately the hunting ground of the Indians, and
not yet settled or traversed, or likely to be so, owing to the want of
water.  A solitary hunter has built a log cabin up here, which he
occupies for a few weeks for the purpose of elk-hunting, but all the
region is unsurveyed, and mostly unexplored.  It is 7 A.M.  The sun has
not yet risen high enough to melt the hoar frost, and the air is clear,
bright, and cold.  The stillness is profound.  I hear nothing but the
far-off mysterious roaring of a river in a deep canyon, which we spent
two hours last night in trying to find.  The horses are lost, and if I
were disposed to retort upon my companions the term they invariably
apply to me, I should now write, with bitter emphasis, "THAT man" and
"THAT woman" have gone in search of them.

The scenery up here is glorious, combining sublimity with beauty, and
in the elastic air fatigue has dropped off from me.  This is no region
for tourists and women, only for a few elk and bear hunters at times,
and its unprofaned freshness gives me new life.  I cannot by any words
give you an idea of scenery so different from any that you or I have
ever seen.  This is an upland valley of grass and flowers, of glades
and sloping lawns, and cherry-fringed beds of dry streams, and clumps
of pines artistically placed, and mountain sides densely pine clad, the
pines breaking into fringes as they come down upon the "park," and the
mountains breaking into pinnacles of bold grey rock as they pierce the
blue of the sky.  A single dell of bright green grass, on which dwarf
clumps of the scarlet poison oak look like beds of geraniums, slopes
towards the west, as if it must lead to the river which we seek.  Deep,
vast canyons, all trending westwards, lie in purple gloom.  Pine-clad
ranges, rising into the blasted top of Storm Peak, all run westwards
too, and all the beauty and glory are but the frame out of which
rises--heaven-piercing, pure in its pearly luster, as glorious a
mountain as the sun tinges red in either hemisphere--the splintered,
pinnacled, lonely, ghastly, imposing, double-peaked summit of Long's
Peak, the Mont Blanc of Northern Colorado.[10]

[10] Gray's Peak and Pike's Peak have their partisans, but after seeing
them all under favorable aspects, Long's Peak stands in my memory as it
does in that vast congeries of mountains, alone in imperial grandeur.


This is a view to which nothing needs to be added.  This is truly the
"lodge in some vast wilderness" for which one often sighs when in the
midst of "a bustle at once sordid and trivial."  In spite of Dr.
Johnson, these "monstrous protuberances" do "inflame the imagination
and elevate the understanding."  This scenery satisfies my soul.  Now,
the Rocky Mountains realize--nay, exceed--the dream of my childhood.
It is magnificent, and the air is life giving.  I should like to spend
some time in these higher regions, but I know that this will turn out
an abortive expedition, owing to the stupidity and pigheadedness of
Chalmers.

There is a most romantic place called Estes Park, at a height of 7,500
feet, which can be reached by going down to the plains and then
striking up the St. Vrain Canyon, but this is a distance of fifty-five
miles, and as Chalmers was confident that he could take me over the
mountains, a distance, as he supposed, of about twenty miles, we left
at mid-day yesterday, with the fervent hope, on my part, that I might
not return.  Mrs. C. was busy the whole of Tuesday in preparing what
she called "grub," which, together with "plenty of bedding," was to be
carried on a pack mule; but when we started I was disgusted to find
that Chalmers was on what should have been the pack animal, and that
two thickly-quilted cotton "spreads" had been disposed of under my
saddle, making it broad, high, and uncomfortable.  Any human being must
have laughed to see an expedition start so grotesquely "ill found."  I
had a very old iron-grey horse, whose lower lip hung down feebly,
showing his few teeth, while his fore-legs stuck out forwards, and
matter ran from both his nearly-blind eyes.  It is kindness to bring
him up to abundant pasture.  My saddle is an old McLellan cavalry
saddle, with a battered brass peak, and the bridle is a rotten leather
strap on one side and a strand of rope on the other.  The cotton quilts
covered the Rosinante from mane to tail.  Mrs. C. wore an old print
skirt, an old short-gown, a print apron, and a sun-bonnet, with a flap
coming down to her waist, and looked as careworn and clean as she
always does. The inside horn of her saddle was broken; to the outside
one hung a saucepan and a bundle of clothes.  The one girth was nearly
at the breaking point when we started.

My pack, with my well-worn umbrella upon it, was behind my saddle.  I
wore my Hawaiian riding dress, with a handkerchief tied over my face
and the sun-cover of my umbrella folded and tied over my hat, for the
sun was very fierce.  The queerest figure of all was the would-be
guide.  With his one eye, his gaunt, lean form, and his torn clothes,
he looked more like a strolling tinker than the honest worthy settler
that he is.  He bestrode rather than rode a gaunt mule, whose tail had
all been shaven off, except a turf for a tassel at the end. Two flour
bags which leaked were tied on behind the saddle, two quilts were under
it, and my canvas bag, a battered canteen, a frying pan, and two
lariats hung from the horn.  On one foot C. wore an old high boot, into
which his trouser was tucked, and on the other an old brogue, through
which his toes protruded.

We had an ascent of four hours through a ravine which gradually opened
out upon this beautiful "park," but we rode through it for some miles
before the view burst upon us.  The vastness of this range, like
astronomical distances, can hardly be conceived of.  At this place, I
suppose, it is not less than 250 miles wide, and with hardly a break in
its continuity, it stretches almost from the Arctic Circle to the
Straits of Magellan.  From the top of Long's Peak, within a short
distance, twenty-two summits, each above 12,000 feet in height, are
visible, and the Snowy Range, the backbone or "divide" of the
continent, is seen snaking distinctly through the wilderness of ranges,
with its waters starting for either ocean.  From the first ridge we
crossed after leaving Canyon we had a singular view of range beyond
range cleft by deep canyons, and abounding in elliptical valleys,
richly grassed.  The slopes of all the hills, as far as one could see,
were waving with fine grass ready for the scythe, but the food of wild
animals only.  All these ridges are heavily timbered with pitch pines,
and where they come down on the grassy slopes they look as if the trees
had been arranged by a landscape gardener.  Far off, through an opening
in a canyon, we saw the prairie simulating the ocean.  Far off, through
an opening in another direction, was the glistening outline of the
Snowy Range.  But still, till we reached this place, it was monotonous,
though grand as a whole: a grey-green or buff-grey, with outbreaks of
brilliantly-colored rock, only varied by the black-green of pines,
which are not the stately pyramidal pines of the Sierra Nevada, but
much resemble the natural Scotch fir.  Not many miles from us is North
Park, a great tract of land said to be rich in gold, but those who have
gone to "prospect" have seldom returned, the region being the home of
tribes of Indians who live in perpetual hostility to the whites and to
each other.

At this great height, and most artistically situated, we came upon a
rude log camp tenanted in winter by an elk hunter, but now deserted.
Chalmers without any scruple picked the padlock; we lighted a fire,
made some tea, and fried some bacon, and after a good meal mounted
again and started for Estes Park.  For four weary hours we searched
hither and thither along every indentation of the ground which might be
supposed to slope towards the Big Thompson River, which we knew had to
be forded.  Still, as the quest grew more tedious, Long's Peak stood
before us as a landmark in purple glory; and still at his feet lay a
hollow filled with deep blue atmosphere, where I knew that Estes Park
must lie, and still between us and it lay never-lessening miles of
inaccessibility, and the sun was ever weltering, and the shadows ever
lengthening, and Chalmers, who had started confident, bumptious,
blatant, was ever becoming more bewildered, and his wife's thin voice
more piping and discontented, and my stumbling horse more insecure, and
I more determined (as I am at this moment) that somehow or other I
would reach that blue hollow, and even stand on Long's Peak where the
snow was glittering.  Affairs were becoming serious, and Chalmers's
incompetence a source of real peril, when, after an exploring
expedition, he returned more bumptious than ever, saying he knew it
would be all right, he had found a trail, and we could get across the
river by dark, and camp out for the night.  So he led us into a steep,
deep, rough ravine, where we had to dismount, for trees were lying
across it everywhere, and there was almost no footing on the great
slabs of shelving rock.  Yet there was a trail, tolerably well worn,
and the branches and twigs near the ground were well broken back.  Ah!
it was a wild place.  My horse fell first, rolling over twice, and
breaking off a part of the saddle, in his second roll knocking me over
a shelf of three feet of descent.  Then Mrs. C.'s horse and the mule
fell on the top of each other, and on recovering themselves bit each
other savagely.  The ravine became a wild gulch, the dry bed of some
awful torrent; there were huge shelves of rock, great overhanging walls
of rock, great prostrate trees, cedar spikes and cacti to wound the
feet, and then a precipice fully 500 feet deep!  The trail was a trail
made by bears in search of bear cherries, which abounded!

It was getting dusk as we had to struggle up the rough gulch we had so
fatuously descended.  The horses fell several times; I could hardly get
mine up at all, though I helped him as much as I could; I was cut and
bruised, scratched and torn.  A spine of a cactus penetrated my foot,
and some vicious thing cut the back of my neck.  Poor Mrs. C. was much
bruised, and I pitied her, for she got no fun out of it as I did.  It
was an awful climb.  When we got out of the gulch, C. was so confused
that he took the wrong direction, and after an hour of vague wandering
was only recalled to the right one by my pertinacious assertions acting
on his weak brain.  I was inclined to be angry with the incompetent
braggart, who had boasted that he could take us to Estes Park
"blindfold"; but I was sorry for him too, so said nothing, even though
I had to walk during these meanderings to save my tired horse.  When at
last, at dark, we reached the open, there was a snow flurry, with
violent gusts of wind, and the shelter of the camp, dark and cold as it
was, was desirable.  We had no food, but made a fire.  I lay down on
some dry grass, with my inverted saddle for a pillow, and slept
soundly, till I was awoke by the cold of an intense frost and the pain
of my many cuts and bruises.  Chalmers promised that we should make a
fresh start at six, so I woke him up at five, and here I am alone at
half-past eight!  I said to him many times that unless he hobbled or
picketed the horses, we should lose them.  "Oh," he said "they'll be
all right."  In truth he had no picketing pins.  Now, the animals are
merrily trotting homewards.  I saw them two miles off an hour ago with
him after them.  His wife, who is also after them, goaded to
desperation, said, "He's the most ignorant, careless, good-for-nothing
man I ever saw," upon which I dwelt upon his being well meaning.  There
is a sort of well here, but our "afternoon tea" and watering the horses
drained it, so we have had nothing to drink since yesterday, for the
canteen, which started without a cork, lost all its contents when the
mule fell.  I have made a monstrous fire, but thirst and impatience are
hard to bear, and preventible misfortunes are always irksome.  I have
found the stomach of a bear with fully a pint of cherrystones in it,
and have spent an hour in getting the kernels; and lo! now, at
half-past nine, I see the culprit and his wife coming back with the
animals.

                                   I. L. B.


LOWER CANYON, September 21.

We never reached Estes Park.  There is no trail, and horses have never
been across.  We started from camp at ten, and spent four hours in
searching for the trail.  Chalmers tried gulch after gulch again, his
self-assertion giving way a little after each failure; sometimes going
east when we should have gone west, always being brought up by a
precipice or other impossibility.  At last he went off by himself, and
returned rejoicing, saying he had found the trail; and soon, sure
enough, we were on a well-defined old trail, evidently made by
carcasses which have been dragged along it by hunters.  Vainly I
pointed out to him that we were going north-east when we should have
gone south-west, and that we were ascending instead of descending.
"Oh, it's all right, and we shall soon come to water," he always
replied.  For two hours we ascended slowly through a thicket of aspen,
the cold continually intensifying; but the trail, which had been
growing fainter, died out, and an opening showed the top of Storm Peak
not far off and not much above us, though it is 11,000 feet high. I
could not help laughing.  He had deliberately turned his back on Estes
Park.  He then confessed that he was lost, and that he could not find
the way back.  His wife sat down on the ground and cried bitterly.  We
ate some dry bread, and then I said I had had much experience in
traveling, and would take the control of the party, which was agreed
to, and we began the long descent.  Soon after his wife was thrown from
her horse, and cried bitterly again from fright and mortification.
Soon after that the girth of the mule's saddle broke, and having no
crupper, saddle and addenda went over his head, and the flour was
dispersed.  Next the girth of the woman's saddle broke, and she went
over her horse's head.  Then he began to fumble helplessly at it,
railing against England the whole time, while I secured the saddle, and
guided the route back to an outlet of the park.  There a fire was
built, and we had some bread and bacon; and then a search for water
occupied nearly two hours, and resulted in the finding of a mudhole,
trodden and defiled by hundreds of feet of elk, bears, cats, deer, and
other beasts, and containing only a few gallons of water as thick as
pea soup, with which we watered our animals and made some strong tea.

The sun was setting in glory as we started for the four hours' ride
home, and the frost was intense, and made our bruised, grazed limbs
ache painfully.  I was sorry for Mrs. Chalmers, who had had several
falls, and bore her aches patiently, and had said several times to her
husband, with a kind meaning, "I am real sorry for this woman."  I was
so tired with the perpetual stumbling of my horse, as well as stiffened
with the bitter cold, that I walked for the last hour or two; and
Chalmers, as if to cover his failure, indulged in loud, incessant talk,
abusing all other religionists, and railing against England in the
coarsest American fashion.  Yet, after all, they were not bad souls;
and though he failed so grotesquely, he did his incompetent best.  The
log fire in the ruinous cabin was cheery, and I kept it up all night,
and watched the stars through the holes in the roof, and thought of
Long's Peak in its glorious solitude, and resolved that, come what
might, I would reach Estes Park.

                                             I. L. B.



Letter VI

A bronco mare--An accident--Wonderland--A sad story--The children of
the Territories--Hard greed--Halcyon hours--Smartness--Old-fashioned
prejudices--The Chicago colony--Good luck--Three notes of admiration--A
good horse--The St.  Vrain--The Rocky Mountains at last--"Mountain
Jim"--A death hug--Estes Park.

LOWER CANYON, September 25.

This is another world.  My entrance upon it was signalized in this
fashion.  Chalmers offered me a bronco mare for a reasonable sum, and
though she was a shifty, half-broken young thing, I came over here on
her to try her, when, just as I was going away, she took into her head
to "scare" and "buck," and when I touched her with my foot she leaped
over a heap of timber, and the girth gave way, and the onlookers tell
me that while she jumped I fell over her tail from a good height upon
the hard gravel, receiving a parting kick on my knee.  They could
hardly believe that no bones were broken.  The flesh of my left arm
looks crushed into a jelly, but cold-water dressings will soon bring it
right; and a cut on my back bled profusely; and the bleeding, with many
bruises and the general shake, have made me feel weak, but
circumstances do not admit of "making a fuss," and I really think that
the rents in my riding dress will prove the most important part of the
accident.

The surroundings here are pleasing.  The log cabin, on the top of which
a room with a steep, ornamental Swiss roof has been built, is in a
valley close to a clear, rushing river, which emerges a little higher
up from an inaccessible chasm of great sublimity.  One side of the
valley is formed by cliffs and terraces of porphyry as red as the
reddest new brick, and at sunset blazing into  vermilion.  Through
rifts in the nearer ranges there are glimpses  of pine-clothed peaks,
which, towards twilight, pass through  every shade of purple and
violet.  The sky and the earth combine to  form a Wonderland every
evening--such rich, velvety coloring in  crimson and violet; such an
orange, green, and vermilion sky; such  scarlet and emerald clouds;
such an extraordinary dryness and purity  of atmosphere, and then the
glorious afterglow which seems to  blend earth and heaven!  For color,
the Rocky Mountains beat all I have seen. The air has been cold, but
the sun bright and hot during  the last few days.

The story of my host is a story of misfortune.  It indicates who should
NOT come to Colorado.[11] He and his wife are  under thirty-five.  The
son of a London physician in large practice, with a liberal education
in the largest sense of the word, unusual culture and accomplishments,
and the partner of a physician in  good practice in the second city in
England, he showed symptoms which threatened pulmonary disease.  In an
evil hour he heard of Colorado with its "unrivalled climate, boundless
resources," etc., and, fascinated not only by these material
advantages, but by the notion of being able to found or reform society
on advanced social theories of his own, he became an emigrant.  Mrs.
Hughes is one of the most charming, and lovable women I have ever seen,
and their marriage is an ideal one.  Both are fitted to shine in any
society, but neither had the slightest knowledge of domestic and
farming details.  Dr. H. did not know how to saddle or harness a horse.
Mrs. H. did not know whether you should put an egg into cold or hot
water when you meant to boil it!  They arrived at Longmount, bought up
this claim, rather for the beauty of the scenery than for any
substantial advantages, were cheated in land, goods, oxen, everything,
and, to the discredit of the settlers, seemed to be regarded as fair
game.  Everything has failed with them, and though they "rise early,
and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness," they hardly keep
their heads above water.  A young Swiss girl, devoted to them both,
works as hard as they do.  They have one horse, no wagon, some poultry,
and a few cows, but no "hired man."  It is the hardest and least ideal
struggle that I have ever seen made by educated people.  They had all
their experience to learn, and they have bought it by losses and
hardships.  That they have learnt so much surprises me.  Dr. H. and
these two ladies built the upper room and the addition to the house
without help.  He has cropped the land himself, and has learned the
difficult art of milking cows.  Mrs. H. makes all the clothes required
for a family of six, and her evenings, when the hard day's work is done
and she is ready to drop from fatigue, are spent in mending and
patching.  The day is one long GRIND, without rest or enjoyment, or the
pleasure of chance intercourse with cultivated people.  The few
visitors who have "happened in" are the thrifty wives of prosperous
settlers, full of housewifely pride, whose one object seems to be to
make Mrs. H. feel her inferiority to themselves.  I wish she did take a
more genuine interest in the "coming-on" of the last calf, the
prospects of the squash crop, and the yield and price of butter; but
though she has learned to make excellent butter and bread, it is all
against the grain.  The children are delightful.  The little boys are
refined, courteous, childish gentlemen, with love and tenderness to
their parents in all their words and actions.  Never a rough or harsh
word is heard within the house.  But the atmosphere of struggles and
difficulties has already told on these infants.  They consider their
mother in all things, going without butter when they think the stock is
low, bringing in wood and water too heavy for them to carry, anxiously
speculating on the winter prospect and the crops, yet withal the most
childlike and innocent of children.

[11] The story is ended now.  A few months after my visit Mrs. H. died
a few days after her confinement, and was buried on the bleak hill
side, leaving her husband with five children under six years old, and
Dr. H. is a prosperous man on one of the sunniest islands of the
Pacific, with the devoted Swiss friend as his second wife.


One of the most painful things in the Western States and Territories is
the extinction of childhood.  I have never seen any children, only
debased imitations of men and women, cankered by greed and selfishness,
and asserting and gaining complete independence of their parents at ten
years old.  The atmosphere in which they are brought up is one of
greed, godlessness, and frequently of profanity.  Consequently these
sweet things seem like flowers in a desert.

Except for love, which here as everywhere raises life into the ideal,
this is a wretched existence.  The poor crops have been destroyed by
grasshoppers over and over again, and that talent deified here under
the name of "smartness" has taken advantage of Dr. H. in all bargains,
leaving him with little except food for his children.  Experience has
been dearly bought in all ways, and this instance of failure might be a
useful warning to professional men without agricultural experience not
to come and try to make a living by farming in Colorado.

My time here has passed very delightfully in spite of my regret and
anxiety for this interesting family.  I should like to stay longer,
were it not that they have given up to me their straw bed, and Mrs. H.
and her baby, a wizened, fretful child, sleep on the floor in my room,
and Dr. H. on the floor downstairs, and the nights are frosty and
chill.  Work is the order of their day, and of mine, and at night, when
the children are in bed, we three ladies patch the clothes and make
shirts, and Dr. H. reads Tennyson's poems, or we speak tenderly of that
world of culture and noble deeds which seems here "the land very far
off," or Mrs. H. lays aside her work for a few minutes and reads some
favorite passage of prose or poetry, as I have seldom heard either read
before, with a voice of large compass and exquisite tone, quick to
interpret every shade of the author's meaning, and soft, speaking eyes,
moist with feeling and sympathy.  These are our halcyon hours, when we
forget the needs of the morrow, and that men still buy, sell, cheat,
and strive for gold, and that we are in the Rocky Mountains, and that
it is near midnight.  But morning comes hot and tiresome, and the
never-ending work is oppressive, and Dr. H. comes in from the field two
or three times in the day, dizzy and faint, and they condole with each
other, and I feel that the Colorado settler needs to be made of sterner
stuff and to possess more adaptability.

To-day has been a very pleasant day for me, though I have only once sat
down since 9 A.M., and it is now 5 P.M.  I plotted that the devoted
Swiss girl should go to the nearest settlement with two of the children
for the day in a neighbor's wagon, and that Dr. and Mrs. H. should get
an afternoon of rest and sleep upstairs, while I undertook to do the
work and make something of a cleaning.  I had a large "wash" of my own,
having been hindered last week by my bad arm, but a clothes wringer
which screws on to the side of the tub is a great assistance, and by
folding the clothes before passing them through it, I make it serve
instead of mangle and iron.  After baking the bread and thoroughly
cleaning the churn and pails, I began upon the tins and pans, the
cleaning of which had fallen into arrears, and was hard at work, very
greasy and grimy, when a man came in to know where to ford the river
with his ox team, and as I was showing him he looked pityingly at me,
saying, "Be you the new hired girl?  Bless me, you're awful small!"

Yesterday we saved three cwt. of tomatoes for winter use, and about two
tons of squash and pumpkin for the cattle, two of the former weighing
140 lbs.  I pulled nearly a quarter of an acre of maize, but it was a
scanty crop, and the husks were poorly filled.  I much prefer field
work to the scouring of greasy pans and to the wash tub, and both to
either sewing or writing.

This is not Arcadia.  "Smartness," which consists in over-reaching your
neighbor in every fashion which is not illegal, is the quality which is
held in the greatest repute, and Mammon is the divinity.  From a
generation brought up to worship the one and admire the other little
can be hoped.  In districts distant as this is from "Church
Ordinances," there are three ways in which Sunday is spent: one, to
make it a day for visiting, hunting, and fishing; another, to spend it
in sleeping and abstinence from work; and the third, to continue all
the usual occupations, consequently harvesting and felling and hauling
timber are to be seen in progress.

Last Sunday a man came here and put up a door, and said he didn't
believe in the Bible or in a God, and he wasn't going to sacrifice his
children's bread to old-fashioned prejudices.  There is a manifest
indifference to the higher obligations of the law, "judgment, mercy and
faith"; but in the main the settlers are steady, there are few flagrant
breaches of morals, industry is the rule, life and property are far
safer than in England or Scotland, and the law of universal respect to
women is still in full force.

The days are now brilliant and the nights sharply frosty.  People are
preparing for the winter.  The tourists from the East are trooping into
Denver, and the surveying parties are coming down from the mountains.
Snow has fallen on the higher ranges, and my hopes of getting to Estes
Park are down at zero.


LONGMOUNT, September 25.

Yesterday was perfect.  The sun was brilliant and the air cool and
bracing.  I felt better, and after a hard day's work and an evening
stroll with my friends in the glorious afterglow, I went to bed
cheerful and hopeful as to the climate and its effect on my health.
This morning I awoke with a sensation of extreme lassitude, and on
going out, instead of the delicious atmosphere of yesterday, I found
intolerable suffocating heat, a BLAZING (not BRILLIANT) sun, and a
sirocco like a Victorian hot wind.  Neuralgia, inflamed eyes, and a
sense of extreme prostration followed, and my acclimatized hosts were
somewhat similarly affected.  The sparkle, the crystalline atmosphere,
and the glory of color of yesterday, had all vanished.  We had borrowed
a wagon, but Dr. H.'s strong but lazy horse and a feeble hired one made
a poor span; and though the distance here is only twenty-two miles over
level prairie, our tired animal, and losing the way three times, have
kept us eight and a half hours in the broiling sun.  All notions of
locality fail me on the prairie, and Dr. H.  was not much better.  We
took wrong tracks, got entangled among fences, plunged through the deep
mud of irrigation ditches, and were despondent.  It was a miserable
drive, sitting on a heap of fodder under the angry sun.  Half-way here
we camped at a river, now only a series of mud holes, and I fell asleep
under the imperfect shade of a cotton-wood tree, dreading the thought
of waking and jolting painfully along over the dusty prairie in the
dust-laden, fierce sirocco, under the ferocious sun.  We never saw man
or beast the whole day.

This is the "Chicago Colony," and it is said to be prospering, after
some preliminary land swindles.  It is as uninviting as Fort Collins.
We first came upon dust-colored frame houses set down at intervals on
the dusty buff plain, each with its dusty wheat or barley field
adjacent, the crop, not the product of the rains of heaven, but of the
muddy overflow of "Irrigating Ditch No.2."  Then comes a road made up
of many converging wagon tracks, which stiffen into a wide straggling
street, in which glaring frame houses and a few shops stand opposite to
each other.  A two-storey house, one of the whitest and most glaring,
and without a veranda like all the others, is the "St. Vrain Hotel,"
called after the St. Vrain River, out of which the ditch is taken which
enables Longmount to exist.  Everything was broiling in the heat of the
slanting sun, which all day long had been beating on the unshaded
wooden rooms.  The heat within was more sickening than outside, and
black flies covered everything, one's face included.  We all sat
fighting the flies in my bedroom, which was cooler than elsewhere, till
a glorious sunset over the Rocky Range, some ten miles off, compelled
us to go out and enjoy it.  Then followed supper, Western fashion,
without table-cloths, and all the "unattached" men of Longmount came in
and fed silently and rapidly.  It was a great treat to have tea to
drink, as I had not tasted any for a fortnight.  The landlord is a
jovial, kindly man.  I told him how my plans had faded, and how I was
reluctantly going on to-morrow to Denver and New York, being unable to
get to Estes Park, and he said there might yet be a chance of some one
coming in to-night who would be going up.  He soon came to my room and
asked definitely what I could do--if I feared cold, if I could "rough
it," if I could "ride horseback and lope."  Estes Park and its
surroundings are, he says, "the most beautiful scenery in Colorado,"
and "it's a real shame," he added, "for you not to see it."  We had
hardly sat down to tea when he came, saying "You're in luck this time;
two young men have just come in and are going up to-morrow morning."  I
am rather pleased, and have hired a horse for three days; but I am not
very hopeful, for I am almost ill of the smothering heat, and still
suffer from my fall, and not having been on horseback since, thirty
miles will be a long ride.  Then I fear that the accommodation is as
rough as Chalmers's, and that solitude will be impossible.  We have
been strolling in the street every since it grew dark to get the little
air which is moving.


ESTES PARK!!!  September 28.

I wish I could let those three notes of admiration go to you instead of
a letter.  They mean everything that is rapturous and
delightful--grandeur, cheerfulness, health, enjoyment, novelty,
freedom, etc., etc.  I have just dropped into the very place I have
been seeking, but in everything it exceeds all my dreams.  There is
health in every breath of air; I am much better already, and get up to
a seven o'clock breakfast without difficulty.  It is quite
comfortable--in the fashion that I like.  I have a log cabin, raised on
six posts, all to myself, with a skunk's lair underneath it, and a
small lake close to it.  There is a frost every night, and all day it
is cool enough for a roaring fire.  The ranchman, who is half-hunter,
half-stockman, and his wife are jovial, hearty Welsh people from
Llanberis, who laugh with loud, cheery British laughs, sing in parts
down to the youngest child, are free hearted and hospitable, and pile
the pitch-pine logs half-way up the great rude chimney.  There has been
fresh meat each day since I came, delicious bread baked daily,
excellent potatoes, tea and coffee, and an abundant supply of milk like
cream.  I have a clean hay bed with six blankets, and there are neither
bugs nor fleas.  The scenery is the most glorious I have ever seen, and
is above us, around us, at the very door.  Most people have advized me
to go to Colorado Springs, and only one mentioned this place, and till
I reached Longmount I never saw any one who had been here, but I saw
from the lie of the country that it must be most superbly situated.
People said, however, that it was most difficult of access, and that
the season for it was over.  In traveling there is nothing like
dissecting people's statements, which are usually colored by their
estimate of the powers or likings of the person spoken to, making all
reasonable inquiries, and then pertinaciously but quietly carrying out
one's own plans.  This is perfection, and all the requisites for health
are present, including plenty of horses and grass to ride on.

It is not easy to sit down to write after ten hours of hard riding,
especially in a cabin full of people, and wholesome fatigue may make my
letter flat when it ought to be enthusiastic.  I was awake all night at
Longmount owing to the stifling heat, and got up nervous and miserable,
ready to give up the thought of coming here, but the sunrise over the
Plains, and the wonderful red of the Rocky Mountains, as they reflected
the eastern sky, put spirit into me.  The landlord had got a horse, but
could not give any satisfactory assurances of his being quiet, and
being much shaken by my fall at Canyon, I earnestly wished that the
Greeley Tribune had not given me a reputation for horsemanship, which
had preceded me here.  The young men who were to escort me "seemed very
innocent," he said, but I have not arrived at his meaning yet.  When
the horse appeared in the street at 8:30, I saw, to my dismay, a
high-bred, beautiful creature, stable kept, with arched neck, quivering
nostrils, and restless ears and eyes.  My pack, as on Hawaii, was
strapped behind the Mexican saddle, and my canvas bag hung on the horn,
but the horse did not look fit to carry "gear," and seemed to require
two men to hold and coax him.  There were many loafers about, and I
shrank from going out and mounting in my old Hawaiian riding dress,
though Dr. and Mrs. H. assured me that I looked quite "insignificant
and unnoticeable."  We got away at nine with repeated injunctions from
the landlord in the words, "Oh, you should be heroic!"

The sky was cloudless, and a deep brilliant blue, and though the sun
was hot the air was fresh and bracing.  The ride for glory and delight
I shall label along with one to Hanalei, and another to Mauna Kea,
Hawaii.  I felt better quite soon; the horse in gait and temper turned
out perfection--all spring and spirit, elastic in his motion, walking
fast and easily, and cantering with a light, graceful swing as soon as
one pressed the reins on his neck, a blithe, joyous animal, to whom a
day among the mountains seemed a pleasant frolic.  So gentle he was,
that when I got off and walked he followed me without being led, and
without needing any one to hold him he allowed me to mount on either
side.  In addition to the charm of his movements he has the catlike
sure-footedness of a Hawaiian horse, and fords rapid and rough-bottomed
rivers, and gallops among stones and stumps, and down steep hills, with
equal security.  I could have ridden him a hundred miles as easily as
thirty.  We have only been together two days, yet we are firm friends,
and thoroughly understand each other.  I should not require another
companion on a long mountain tour.  All his ways are those of an animal
brought up without curb, whip, or spur, trained by the voice, and used
only to kindness, as is happily the case with the majority of horses in
the Western States.  Consequently, unless they are broncos, they
exercise their intelligence for your advantage, and do their work
rather as friends than as machines.

I soon began not only to feel better, but to be exhilarated with the
delightful motion.  The sun was behind us, and puffs of a cool elastic
air came down from the glorious mountains in front.  We cantered across
six miles of prairie, and then reached the beautiful canyon of the St.
Vrain, which, towards its mouth, is a narrow, fertile, wooded valley,
through which a bright rapid river, which we forded many times, hurries
along, with twists and windings innumerable.  Ah, how brightly its
ripples danced in the glittering sunshine, and how musically its waters
murmured like the streams of windward Hawaii!  We lost our way over and
over again, though the "innocent" young men had been there before;
indeed, it would require some talent to master the intricacies of that
devious trail, but settlers making hay always appeared in the nick of
time to put us on the right track.  Very fair it was, after the brown
and burning plains, and the variety was endless.  Cotton-wood trees
were green and bright, aspens shivered in gold tremulousness, wild
grape-vines trailed their lemon-colored foliage along the ground, and
the Virginia creeper hung its crimson sprays here and there, lightening
up green and gold into glory.  Sometimes from under the cool and bowery
shade of the colored tangle we passed into the cool St. Vrain, and then
were wedged between its margin and lofty cliffs and terraces of
incredibly staring, fantastic rocks, lined, patched, and splashed with
carmine, vermilion, greens of all tints, blue, yellow, orange, violet,
deep crimson, coloring that no artist would dare to represent, and of
which, in sober prose, I scarcely dare tell.  Long's wonderful peaks,
which hitherto had gleamed above the green, now disappeared, to be seen
no more for twenty miles.  We entered on an ascending valley, where the
gorgeous hues of the rocks were intensified by the blue gloom of the
pitch pines, and then taking a track to the north-west, we left the
softer world behind, and all traces of man and his works, and plunged
into the Rocky Mountains.

There were wonderful ascents then up which I led my horse; wild
fantastic views opening up continually, a recurrence of surprises; the
air keener and purer with every mile, the sensation of loneliness more
singular.  A tremendous ascent among rocks and pines to a height of
9,000 feet brought us to a passage seven feet wide through a wall of
rock, with an abrupt descent of 2,000 feet, and a yet higher ascent
beyond.  I never saw anything so strange as looking back.  It was a
single gigantic ridge which we had passed through, standing up
knifelike, built up entirely of great brick-shaped masses of bright red
rock, some of them as large as the Royal Institution, Edinburgh, piled
one on another by Titans.  Pitch pines grew out of their crevices, but
there was not a vestige of soil.  Beyond, wall beyond wall of similar
construction, and range above range, rose into the blue sky.  Fifteen
miles more over great ridges, along passes dark with shadow, and so
narrow that we had to ride in the beds of the streams which had
excavated them, round the bases of colossal pyramids of rock crested
with pines, up into fair upland "parks," scarlet in patches with the
poison oak, parks so beautifully arranged by nature that I momentarily
expected to come upon some stately mansion, but that afternoon crested
blue jays and chipmunks had them all to themselves.  Here, in the early
morning, deer, bighorn, and the stately elk, come down to feed, and
there, in the night, prowl and growl the Rocky Mountain lion, the
grizzly bear, and the cowardly wolf.  There were chasms of immense
depth, dark with the indigo gloom of pines, and mountains with snow
gleaming on their splintered crests, loveliness to bewilder and
grandeur to awe, and still streams and shady pools, and cool depths of
shadow; mountains again, dense with pines, among which patches of aspen
gleamed like gold; valleys where the yellow cotton-wood mingled with
the crimson oak, and so, on and on through the lengthening shadows,
till the trail, which in places had been hardly legible, became well
defined, and we entered a long gulch with broad swellings of grass
belted with pines.

A very pretty mare, hobbled, was feeding; a collie dog barked at us,
and among the scrub, not far from the track, there was a rude, black
log cabin, as rough as it could be to be a shelter at all, with smoke
coming out of the roof and window.  We diverged towards it; it mattered
not that it was the home, or rather den, of a notorious "ruffian" and
"desperado."  One of my companions had disappeared hours before, the
remaining one was a town-bred youth.  I longed to speak to some one who
loved the mountains.  I called the hut a DEN--it looked like the den of
a wild beast.  The big dog lay outside it in a threatening attitude and
growled.  The mud roof was covered with lynx, beaver, and other furs
laid out to dry, beaver paws were pinned out on the logs, a part of the
carcass of a deer hung at one end of the cabin, a skinned beaver lay in
front of a heap of peltry just within the door, and antlers of deer,
old horseshoes, and offal of many animals, lay about the den.

Roused by the growling of the dog, his owner came out, a broad,
thickset man, about the middle height, with an old cap on his head, and
wearing a grey hunting suit much the worse for wear (almost falling to
pieces, in fact), a digger's scarf knotted round his waist, a knife in
his belt, and "a bosom friend," a revolver, sticking out of the breast
pocket of his coat; his feet, which were very small, were bare, except
for some dilapidated moccasins made of horse hide.  The marvel was how
his clothes hung together, and on him.  The scarf round his waist must
have had something to do with it.  His face was remarkable.  He is a
man about forty-five, and must have been strikingly handsome.  He has
large grey-blue eyes, deeply set, with well-marked eyebrows, a handsome
aquiline nose, and a very handsome mouth.  His face was smooth shaven
except for a dense mustache and imperial.  Tawny hair, in thin
uncared-for curls, fell from under his hunter's cap and over his
collar.  One eye was entirely gone, and the loss made one side of the
face repulsive, while the other might have been modeled in marble.
"Desperado" was written in large letters all over him.  I almost
repented of having sought his acquaintance.  His first impulse was to
swear at the dog, but on seeing a lady he contented himself with
kicking him, and coming to me he raised his cap, showing as he did so a
magnificently-formed brow and head, and in a cultured tone of voice
asked if there were anything he could do for me?  I asked for some
water, and he brought some in a battered tin, gracefully apologizing
for not having anything more presentable.  We entered into
conversation, and as he spoke I forgot both his reputation and
appearance, for his manner was that of a chivalrous gentleman, his
accent refined, and his language easy and elegant.  I inquired about
some beavers' paws which were drying, and in a moment they hung on the
horn of my saddle.  Apropos of the wild animals of the region, he told
me that the loss of his eye was owing to a recent encounter with a
grizzly bear, which, after giving him a death hug, tearing him all
over, breaking his arm and scratching out his eye, had left him for
dead.  As we rode away, for the sun was sinking, he said, courteously,
"You are not an American.  I know from your voice that you are a
countrywoman of mine.  I hope you will allow me the pleasure of calling
on you." [12]

[12] Of this unhappy man, who was shot nine months later within two
miles of his cabin, I write in the subsequent letters only as he
appeared to me.  His life, without doubt, was deeply stained with
crimes and vices, and his reputation for ruffianism was a deserved one.
But in my intercourse with him I saw more of his nobler instincts than
of the darker parts of his character, which, unfortunately for himself
and others, showed itself in its worst colors at the time of his tragic
end.  It was not until after I left Colorado, not indeed until after
his death, that I heard of the worst points of his character.


This man, known through the Territories and beyond them as "Rocky
Mountain Jim," or, more briefly, as "Mountain Jim," is one of the
famous scouts of the Plains, and is the original of some daring
portraits in fiction concerning Indian Frontier warfare.  So far as I
have at present heard, he is a man for whom there is now no room, for
the time for blows and blood in this part of Colorado is past, and the
fame of many daring exploits is sullied by crimes which are not easily
forgiven here.  He now has a "squatter's claim," but makes his living
as a trapper, and is a complete child of the mountains.  Of his genius
and chivalry to women there does not appear to be any doubt; but he is
a desperate character, and is subject to "ugly fits," when people think
it best to avoid him.  It is here regarded as an evil that he has
located himself at the mouth of the only entrance to the park, for he
is dangerous with his pistols, and it would be safer if he were not
here.  His besetting sin is indicated in the verdict pronounced on him
by my host: "When he's sober Jim's a perfect gentleman; but when he's
had liquor he's the most awful ruffian in Colorado."

From the ridge on which this gulch terminates, at a height of 9,000
feet, we saw at last Estes Park, lying 1,500 feet below in the glory of
the setting sun, an irregular basin, lighted up by the bright waters of
the rushing Thompson, guarded by sentinel mountains of fantastic shape
and monstrous size, with Long's Peak rising above them all in
unapproachable grandeur, while the Snowy Range, with its outlying spurs
heavily timbered, come down upon the park slashed by stupendous canyons
lying deep in purple gloom.  The rushing river was blood red, Long's
Peak was aflame, the glory of the glowing heaven was given back from
earth.  Never, nowhere, have I seen anything to equal the view into
Estes Park.  The mountains "of the land which is very far off" are very
near now, but the near is more glorious than the far, and reality than
dreamland.  The mountain fever seized me, and, giving my tireless horse
one encouraging word, he dashed at full gallop over a mile of smooth
sward at delirious speed.

But I was hungry, and the air was frosty, and I was wondering what the
prospects of food and shelter were in this enchanted region, when we
came suddenly upon a small lake, close to which was a very trim-looking
log cabin, with a flat mud roof, with four smaller ones; picturesquely
dotted about near it, two corrals,[13] a long shed, in front of which a
steer was being killed, a log dairy with a water wheel, some hay piles,
and various evidences of comfort; and two men, on serviceable horses,
were just bringing in some tolerable cows to be milked.  A short,
pleasant-looking man ran up to me and shook hands gleefully, which
surprised me; but he has since told me that in the evening light he
thought I was "Mountain Jim, dressed up as a woman!"  I recognized in
him a countryman, and he introduced himself as Griffith Evans, a
Welshman from the slate quarries near Llanberis.  When the cabin door
was opened I saw a good-sized log room, unchinked, however, with
windows of infamous glass, looking two ways; a rough stone fireplace,
in which pine logs, half as large as I am, were burning; a boarded
floor, a round table, two rocking chairs, a carpet-covered backwoods
couch; and skins, Indian bows and arrows, wampum belts, and antlers,
fitly decorated the rough walls, and equally fitly, rifles were stuck
up in the corners.  Seven men, smoking, were lying about on the floor,
a sick man lay on the couch, and a middle-aged lady sat at the table
writing.  I went out again and asked Evans if he could take me in,
expecting nothing better than a shakedown; but, to my joy, he told me
he could give me a cabin to myself, two minutes' walk from his own.  So
in this glorious upper world, with the mountain pines behind and the
clear lake in front, in the "blue hollow at the foot of Long's Peak,"
at a height of 7,500 feet, where the hoar frost crisps the grass every
night of the year, I have found far more than I ever dared to hope for.

[13] A corral is a fenced enclosure for cattle.  This word, with
bronco, ranch, and a few others, are adaptations from the Spanish, and
are used as extensively throughout California and the Territories as is
the Spanish or Mexican saddle.

                                                I. L. B.



Letter VII

Personality of Long's Peak--"Mountain Jim"--Lake of the Lilies--A
silent forest--The camping ground--"Ring"--A lady's bower--Dawn and
sunrise--A glorious view--Links of diamonds--The ascent of the
Peak--The "Dog's Lift"--Suffering from thirst--The descent--The bivouac.

ESTES PARK, COLORADO, October.

As this account of the ascent of Long's Peak could not be written at
the time, I am much disinclined to write it, especially as no sort of
description within my powers could enable another to realize the
glorious sublimity, the majestic solitude, and the unspeakable
awfulness and fascination of the scenes in which I spent Monday,
Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Long's Peak, 14,700 feet high, blocks up one end of Estes Park, and
dwarfs all the surrounding mountains.  From it on this side rise,
snow-born, the bright St. Vrain, and the Big and Little Thompson.  By
sunlight or moonlight its splintered grey crest is the one object
which, in spite of wapiti and bighorn, skunk and grizzly, unfailingly
arrests the eyes.  From it come all storms of snow and wind, and the
forked lightnings play round its head like a glory.  It is one of the
noblest of mountains, but in one's imagination it grows to be much more
than a mountain.  It becomes invested with a personality.  In its
caverns and abysses one comes to fancy that it generates and chains the
strong winds, to let them loose in its fury.  The thunder becomes its
voice, and the lightnings do it homage.  Other summits blush under the
morning kiss of the sun, and turn pale the next moment; but it detains
the first sunlight and holds it round its head for an hour at least,
till it pleases to change from rosy red to deep blue; and the sunset,
as if spell-bound, lingers latest on its crest.  The soft winds which
hardly rustle the pine needles down here are raging rudely up there
round its motionless summit.  The mark of fire is upon it; and though
it has passed into a grim repose, it tells of fire and upheaval as
truly, though not as eloquently, as the living volcanoes of Hawaii.
Here under its shadow one learns how naturally nature worship, and the
propitiation of the forces of nature, arose in minds which had no
better light.

Long's Peak, "the American Matterhorn," as some call it, was ascended
five years ago for the first time.  I thought I should like to attempt
it, but up to Monday, when Evans left for Denver, cold water was thrown
upon the project.  It was too late in the season, the winds were likely
to be strong, etc.; but just before leaving, Evans said that the
weather was looking more settled, and if I did not get farther than the
timber line it would be worth going.  Soon after he left, "Mountain
Jim" came in, and said he would go up as guide, and the two youths who
rode here with me from Longmount and I caught at the proposal.  Mrs.
Edwards at once baked bread for three days, steaks were cut from the
steer which hangs up conveniently, and tea, sugar, and butter were
benevolently added.  Our picnic was not to be a luxurious or
"well-found" one, for, in order to avoid the expense of a pack mule, we
limited our luggage to what our saddle horses could carry.  Behind my
saddle I carried three pair of camping blankets and a quilt, which
reached to my shoulders.  My own boots were so much worn that it was
painful to walk, even about the park, in them, so Evans had lent me a
pair of his hunting boots, which hung to the horn of my saddle.  The
horses of the two young men were equally loaded, for we had to prepare
for many degrees of frost.  "Jim" was a shocking figure; he had on an
old pair of high boots, with a baggy pair of old trousers made of deer
hide, held on by an old scarf tucked into them; a leather shirt, with
three or four ragged unbuttoned waistcoats over it; an old smashed
wideawake, from under which his tawny, neglected ringlets hung; and
with his one eye, his one long spur, his knife in his belt, his
revolver in his waistcoat pocket, his saddle covered with an old beaver
skin, from which the paws hung down; his camping blankets behind him,
his rifle laid across the saddle in front of him, and his axe, canteen,
and other gear hanging to the horn, he was as awful-looking a ruffian
as one could see.  By way of contrast he rode a small Arab mare, of
exquisite beauty, skittish, high spirited, gentle, but altogether too
light for him, and he fretted her incessantly to make her display
herself.

Heavily loaded as all our horses were, "Jim" started over the half-mile
of level grass at a hard gallop, and then throwing his mare on her
haunches, pulled up alongside of me, and with a grace of manner which
soon made me forget his appearance, entered into a conversation which
lasted for more than three hours, in spite of the manifold checks of
fording streams, single file, abrupt ascents and descents, and other
incidents of mountain travel.  The ride was one series of glories and
surprises, of "park" and glade, of lake and stream, of mountains on
mountains, culminating in the rent pinnacles of Long's Peak, which
looked yet grander and ghastlier as we crossed an attendant mountain
11,000 feet high.  The slanting sun added fresh beauty every hour.
There were dark pines against a lemon sky, grey peaks reddening and
etherealizing, gorges of deep and infinite blue, floods of golden glory
pouring through canyons of enormous depth, an atmosphere of absolute
purity, an occasional foreground of cottonwood and aspen flaunting in
red and gold to intensify the blue gloom of the pines, the trickle and
murmur of streams fringed with icicles, the strange sough of gusts
moving among the pine tops--sights and sounds not of the lower earth,
but of the solitary, beast-haunted, frozen upper altitudes.  From the
dry, buff grass of Estes Park we turned off up a trail on the side of a
pine-hung gorge, up a steep pine-clothed hill, down to a small valley,
rich in fine, sun-cured hay about eighteen inches high, and enclosed by
high mountains whose deepest hollow contains a lily-covered lake, fitly
named "The Lake of the Lilies."  Ah, how magical its beauty was, as it
slept in silence, while THERE the dark pines were mirrored motionless
in its pale gold, and HERE the great white lily cups and dark green
leaves rested on amethyst-colored water!

From this we ascended into the purple gloom of great pine forests which
clothe the skirts of the mountains up to a height of about 11,000 feet,
and from their chill and solitary depths we had glimpses of golden
atmosphere and rose-lit summits, not of "the land very far off," but of
the land nearer now in all its grandeur, gaining in sublimity by
nearness--glimpses, too, through a broken vista of purple gorges, of
the illimitable Plains lying idealized in the late sunlight, their
baked, brown expanse transfigured into the likeness of a sunset sea
rolling infinitely in waves of misty gold.

We rode upwards through the gloom on a steep trail blazed through the
forest, all my intellect concentrated on avoiding being dragged off my
horse by impending branches, or having the blankets badly torn, as
those of my companions were, by sharp dead limbs, between which there
was hardly room to pass--the horses breathless, and requiring to stop
every few yards, though their riders, except myself, were afoot.  The
gloom of the dense, ancient, silent forest is to me awe inspiring.  On
such an evening it is soundless, except for the branches creaking in
the soft wind, the frequent snap of decayed timber, and a murmur in the
pine tops as of a not distant waterfall, all tending to produce
EERINESS and a sadness "hardly akin to pain."  There no lumberer's axe
has ever rung.  The trees die when they have attained their prime, and
stand there, dead and bare, till the fierce mountain winds lay them
prostrate.  The pines grew smaller and more sparse as we ascended, and
the last stragglers wore a tortured, warring look.  The timber line was
passed, but yet a little higher a slope of mountain meadow dipped to
the south-west towards a bright stream trickling under ice and icicles,
and there a grove of the beautiful silver spruce marked our camping
ground.  The trees were in miniature, but so exquisitely arranged that
one might well ask what artist's hand had planted them, scattering them
here, clumping them there, and training their slim spires towards
heaven.  Hereafter, when I call up memories of the glorious, the view
from this camping ground will come up.  Looking east, gorges opened to
the distant Plains, then fading into purple grey.  Mountains with
pine-clothed skirts rose in ranges, or, solitary, uplifted their grey
summits, while close behind, but nearly 3,000 feet above us, towered
the bald white crest of Long's Peak, its huge precipices red with the
light of a sun long lost to our eyes.  Close to us, in the caverned
side of the Peak, was snow that, owing to its position, is eternal.
Soon the afterglow came on, and before it faded a big half-moon hung
out of the heavens, shining through the silver blue foliage of the
pines on the frigid background of snow, and turning the whole into
fairyland.  The "photo" which accompanies this letter is by a
courageous Denver artist who attempted the ascent just before I
arrived, but, after camping out at the timber line for a week, was
foiled by the perpetual storms, and was driven down again, leaving some
very valuable apparatus about 3,000 feet from the summit.

Unsaddling and picketing the horses securely, making the beds of pine
shoots, and dragging up logs for fuel, warmed us all.  "Jim" built up a
great fire, and before long we were all sitting around it at supper.
It didn't matter much that we had to drink our tea out of the battered
meat tins in which it was boiled, and eat strips of beef reeking with
pine smoke without plates or forks.

"Treat Jim as a gentleman and you'll find him one," I had been told;
and though his manner was certainly bolder and freer than that of
gentlemen generally, no imaginary fault could be found.  He was very
agreeable as a man of culture as well as a child of nature; the
desperado was altogether out of sight.  He was very courteous and even
kind to me, which was fortunate, as the young men had little idea of
showing even ordinary civilities.  That night I made the acquaintance
of his dog "Ring," said to be the best hunting dog in Colorado, with
the body and legs of a collie, but a head approaching that of a
mastiff, a noble face with a wistful human expression, and the most
truthful eyes I ever saw in an animal.  His master loves him if he
loves anything, but in his savage moods ill-treats him.  "Ring's"
devotion never swerves, and his truthful eyes are rarely taken off his
master's face.  He is almost human in his intelligence, and, unless he
is told to do so, he never takes notice of any one but "Jim."  In a
tone as if speaking to a human being, his master, pointing to me, said,
"Ring, go to that lady, and don't leave her again to-night."  "Ring" at
once came to me, looked into my face, laid his head on my shoulder, and
then lay down beside me with his head on my lap, but never taking his
eyes from "Jim's" face.

The long shadows of the pines lay upon the frosted grass, an aurora
leaped fitfully, and the moonlight, though intensely bright, was pale
beside the red, leaping flames of our pine logs and their red glow on
our gear, ourselves, and Ring's truthful face.  One of the young men
sang a Latin student's song and two Negro melodies; the other "Sweet
Spirit, hear my Prayer."  "Jim" sang one of Moore's melodies in a
singular falsetto, and all together sang, "The Star-spangled Banner"
and "The Red, White, and Blue."  Then "Jim" recited a very clever poem
of his own composition, and told some fearful Indian stories.  A group
of small silver spruces away from the fire was my sleeping place.  The
artist who had been up there had so woven and interlaced their lower
branches as to form a bower, affording at once shelter from the wind
and a most agreeable privacy.  It was thickly strewn with young pine
shoots, and these, when covered with a blanket, with an inverted saddle
for a pillow, made a luxurious bed.  The mercury at 9 P.M. was 12
degrees below the freezing point.  "Jim," after a last look at the
horses, made a huge fire, and stretched himself out beside it, but
"Ring" lay at my back to keep me warm.  I could not sleep, but the
night passed rapidly.  I was anxious about the ascent, for gusts of
ominous sound swept through the pines at intervals.  Then wild animals
howled, and "Ring" was perturbed in spirit about them.  Then it was
strange to see the notorious desperado, a red-handed man, sleeping as
quietly as innocence sleeps.  But, above all, it was exciting to lie
there, with no better shelter than a bower of pines, on a mountain
11,000 feet high, in the very heart of the Rocky Range, under twelve
degrees of frost, hearing sounds of wolves, with shivering stars
looking through the fragrant canopy, with arrowy pines for bed-posts,
and for a night lamp the red flames of a camp-fire.

Day dawned long before the sun rose, pure and lemon colored.  The rest
were looking after the horses, when one of the students came running to
tell me that I must come farther down the slope, for "Jim" said he had
never seen such a sunrise.  From the chill, grey Peak above, from the
everlasting snows, from the silvered pines, down through mountain
ranges with their depths of Tyrian purple, we looked to where the
Plains lay cold, in blue-grey, like a morning sea against a far
horizon.  Suddenly, as a dazzling streak at first, but enlarging
rapidly into a dazzling sphere, the sun wheeled above the grey line, a
light and glory as when it was first created.  "Jim" involuntarily and
reverently uncovered his head, and exclaimed, "I believe there is a
God!"  I felt as if, Parsee-like, I must worship.  The grey of the
Plains changed to purple, the sky was all one rose-red flush, on which
vermilion cloud-streaks rested; the ghastly peaks gleamed like rubies,
the earth and heavens were new created.  Surely "the Most High dwelleth
not in temples made with hands!"  For a full hour those Plains
simulated the ocean, down to whose limitless expanse of purple, cliff,
rocks, and promontories swept down.

By seven we had finished breakfast, and passed into the ghastlier
solitudes above, I riding as far as what, rightly, or wrongly, are
called the "Lava Beds," an expanse of large and small boulders, with
snow in their crevices.  It was very cold; some water which we crossed
was frozen hard enough to bear the horse.  "Jim" had advised me against
taking any wraps, and my thin Hawaiian riding dress, only fit for the
tropics, was penetrated by the keen air The rarefied atmosphere soon
began to oppress our breathing, and I found that Evans's boots were so
large that I had no foothold.  Fortunately, before the real difficulty
of the ascent began, we found, under a rock, a pair of small overshoes,
probably left by the Hayden exploring expedition, which just lasted for
the day.  As we were leaping from rock to rock, "Jim" said, "I was
thinking in the night about your traveling alone, and wondering where
you carried your Derringer, for I could see no signs of it."  On my
telling him that I traveled unarmed, he could hardly believe it, and
adjured me to get a revolver at once.

On arriving at the "Notch" (a literal gate of rock), we found ourselves
absolutely on the knifelike ridge or backbone of Long's Peak, only a
few feet wide, covered with colossal boulders and fragments, and on the
other side shelving in one precipitous, snow-patched sweep of 3,000
feet to a picturesque hollow, containing a lake of pure green water.
Other lakes, hidden among dense pine woods, were farther off, while
close above us rose the Peak, which, for about 500 feet, is a smooth,
gaunt, inaccessible-looking pile of granite.  Passing through the
"Notch," we looked along the nearly inaccessible side of the Peak,
composed of boulders and debris of all shapes and sizes, through which
appeared broad, smooth ribs of reddish-colored granite, looking as if
they upheld the towering rock mass above.  I usually dislike bird's-eye
and panoramic views, but, though from a mountain, this was not one.
Serrated ridges, not much lower than that on which we stood, rose, one
beyond another, far as that pure atmosphere could carry the vision,
broken into awful chasms deep with ice and snow, rising into pinnacles
piercing the heavenly blue with their cold, barren grey, on, on for
ever, till the most distant range upbore unsullied snow alone.  There
were fair lakes mirroring the dark pine woods, canyons dark and
blue-black with unbroken expanses of pines, snow-slashed pinnacles,
wintry heights frowning upon lovely parks, watered and wooded, lying in
the lap of summer; North Park floating off into the blue distance,
Middle Park closed till another season, the sunny slopes of Estes Park,
and winding down among the mountains the snowy ridge of the Divide,
whose bright waters seek both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  There,
far below, links of diamonds showed where the Grand River takes its
rise to seek the mysterious Colorado, with its still unsolved enigma,
and lose itself in the waters of the Pacific; and nearer the snow-born
Thompson bursts forth from the ice to begin its journey to the Gulf of
Mexico.  Nature, rioting in her grandest mood, exclaimed with voices of
grandeur, solitude, sublimity, beauty, and infinity, "Lord, what is
man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou
visitest him?"  Never-to-be-forgotten glories they were, burnt in upon
my memory by six succeeding hours of terror.

You know I have no head and no ankles, and never ought to dream of
mountaineering; and had I known that the ascent was a real
mountaineering feat I should not have felt the slightest ambition to
perform it.  As it is, I am only humiliated by my success, for "Jim"
dragged me up, like a bale of goods, by sheer force of muscle.  At the
"Notch" the real business of the ascent began.  Two thousand feet of
solid rock towered above us, four thousand feet of broken rock shelved
precipitously below; smooth granite ribs, with barely foothold, stood
out here and there; melted snow refrozen several times, presented a
more serious obstacle; many of the rocks were loose, and tumbled down
when touched.  To me it was a time of extreme terror.  I was roped to
"Jim," but it was of no use; my feet were paralyzed and slipped on the
bare rock, and he said it was useless to try to go that way, and we
retraced our steps.  I wanted to return to the "Notch," knowing that my
incompetence would detain the party, and one of the young men said
almost plainly that a woman was a dangerous encumbrance, but the
trapper replied shortly that if it were not to take a lady up he would
not go up at all.  He went on to explore, and reported that further
progress on the correct line of ascent was blocked by ice; and then for
two hours we descended, lowering ourselves by our hands from rock to
rock along a boulder-strewn sweep of 4,000 feet, patched with ice and
snow, and perilous from rolling stones.  My fatigue, giddiness, and
pain from bruised ankles, and arms half pulled out of their sockets,
were so great that I should never have gone halfway had not "Jim,"
nolens volens, dragged me along with a patience and skill, and withal a
determination that I should ascend the Peak, which never failed.  After
descending about 2,000 feet to avoid the ice, we got into a deep ravine
with inaccessible sides, partly filled with ice and snow and partly
with large and small fragments of rock, which were constantly giving
away, rendering the footing very insecure.  That part to me was two
hours of painful and unwilling submission to the inevitable; of
trembling, slipping, straining, of smooth ice appearing when it was
least expected, and of weak entreaties to be left behind while the
others went on.  "Jim" always said that there was no danger, that there
was only a short bad bit ahead, and that I should go up even if he
carried me!

Slipping, faltering, gasping from the exhausting toil in the rarefied
air, with throbbing hearts and panting lungs, we reached the top of the
gorge and squeezed ourselves between two gigantic fragments of rock by
a passage called the "Dog's Lift," when I climbed on the shoulders of
one man and then was hauled up.  This introduced us by an abrupt turn
round the south-west angle of the Peak to a narrow shelf of
considerable length, rugged, uneven, and so overhung by the cliff in
some places that it is necessary to crouch to pass at all.  Above, the
Peak looks nearly vertical for 400 feet; and below, the most tremendous
precipice I have ever seen descends in one unbroken fall.  This is
usually considered the most dangerous part of the ascent, but it does
not seem so to me, for such foothold as there is is secure, and one
fancies that it is possible to hold on with the hands.  But there, and
on the final, and, to my thinking, the worst part of the climb, one
slip, and a breathing, thinking, human being would lie 3,000 feet
below, a shapeless, bloody heap!  "Ring" refused to traverse the Ledge,
and remained at the "Lift" howling piteously.

From thence the view is more magnificent even than that from the
"Notch."  At the foot of the precipice below us lay a lovely lake, wood
embosomed, from or near which the bright St. Vrain and other streams
take their rise.  I thought how their clear cold waters, growing turbid
in the affluent flats, would heat under the tropic sun, and eventually
form part of that great ocean river which renders our far-off islands
habitable by impinging on their shores.  Snowy ranges, one behind the
other, extended to the distant horizon, folding in their wintry embrace
the beauties of Middle Park.  Pike's Peak, more than one hundred miles
off, lifted that vast but shapeless summit which is the landmark of
southern Colorado.  There were snow patches, snow slashes, snow
abysses, snow forlorn and soiled looking, snow pure and dazzling, snow
glistening above the purple robe of pine worn by all the mountains;
while away to the east, in limitless breadth, stretched the green-grey
of the endless Plains.  Giants everywhere reared their splintered
crests.  From thence, with a single sweep, the eye takes in a distance
of 300 miles--that distance to the west, north, and south being made up
of mountains ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen thousand feet in height,
dominated by Long's Peak, Gray's Peak, and Pike's Peak, all nearly the
height of Mont Blanc!  On the Plains we traced the rivers by their
fringe of cottonwoods to the distant Platte, and between us and them
lay glories of mountain, canyon, and lake, sleeping in depths of blue
and purple most ravishing to the eye.

As we crept from the ledge round a horn of rock I beheld what made me
perfectly sick and dizzy to look at--the terminal Peak itself--a
smooth, cracked face or wall of pink granite, as nearly perpendicular
as anything could well be up which it was possible to climb, well
deserving the name of the "American Matterhorn." [14]

[14] Let no practical mountaineer be allured by my description into the
ascent of Long's Peak.  Truly terrible as it was to me, to a member of
the Alpine Club it would not be a feat worth performing.


SCALING, not climbing, is the correct term for this last ascent.  It
took one hour to accomplish 500 feet, pausing for breath every minute
or two.  The only foothold was in narrow cracks or on minute
projections on the granite.  To get a toe in these cracks, or here and
there on a scarcely obvious projection, while crawling on hands and
knees, all the while tortured with thirst and gasping and struggling
for breath, this was the climb; but at last the Peak was won.  A grand,
well-defined mountain top it is, a nearly level acre of boulders, with
precipitous sides all round, the one we came up being the only
accessible one.

It was not possible to remain long.  One of the young men was seriously
alarmed by bleeding from the lungs, and the intense dryness of the day
and the rarefication of the air, at a height of nearly 15,000 feet,
made respiration very painful.  There is always water on the Peak, but
it was frozen as hard as a rock, and the sucking of ice and snow
increases thirst.  We all suffered severely from the want of water, and
the gasping for breath made our mouths and tongues so dry that
articulation was difficult, and the speech of all unnatural.

From the summit were seen in unrivalled combination all the views which
had rejoiced our eyes during the ascent.  It was something at last to
stand upon the storm-rent crown of this lonely sentinel of the Rocky
Range, on one of the mightiest of the vertebrae of the backbone of the
North American continent, and to see the waters start for both oceans.
Uplifted above love and hate and storms of passion, calm amidst the
eternal silences, fanned by zephyrs and bathed in living blue, peace
rested for that one bright day on the Peak, as if it were some region

  Where falls not rain, or hail, or any snow,
  Or ever wind blows loudly.

We placed our names, with the date of ascent, in a tin within a
crevice, and descended to the Ledge, sitting on the smooth granite,
getting our feet into cracks and against projections, and letting
ourselves down by our hands, "Jim" going before me, so that I might
steady my feet against his powerful shoulders.  I was no longer giddy,
and faced the precipice of 3,500 feet without a shiver.  Repassing the
Ledge and Lift, we accomplished the descent through 1,500 feet of ice
and snow, with many falls and bruises, but no worse mishap, and there
separated, the young men taking the steepest but most direct way to the
"Notch," with the intention of getting ready for the march home, and
"Jim" and I taking what he thought the safer route for me--a descent
over boulders for 2,000 feet, and then a tremendous ascent to the
"Notch."  I had various falls, and once hung by my frock, which caught
on a rock, and "Jim" severed it with his hunting knife, upon which I
fell into a crevice full of soft snow.  We were driven lower down the
mountains than he had intended by impassable tracts of ice, and the
ascent was tremendous.  For the last 200 feet the boulders were of
enormous size, and the steepness fearful.  Sometimes I drew myself up
on hands and knees, sometimes crawled; sometimes "Jim" pulled me up by
my arms or a lariat, and sometimes I stood on his shoulders, or he made
steps for me of his feet and hands, but at six we stood on the "Notch"
in the splendor of the sinking sun, all color deepening, all peaks
glorifying, all shadows purpling, all peril past.

"Jim" had parted with his brusquerie when we parted from the students,
and was gentle and considerate beyond anything, though I knew that he
must be grievously disappointed, both in my courage and strength.
Water was an object of earnest desire.  My tongue rattled in my mouth,
and I could hardly articulate.  It is good for one's sympathies to have
for once a severe experience of thirst.  Truly, there was

  Water, water, everywhere,
  But not a drop to drink.

Three times its apparent gleam deceived even the mountaineer's
practiced eye, but we found only a foot of "glare ice."  At last, in a
deep hole, he succeeded in breaking the ice, and by putting one's arm
far down one could scoop up a little water in one's hand, but it was
tormentingly insufficient.  With great difficulty and much assistance I
recrossed the "Lava Beds," was carried to the horse and lifted upon
him, and when we reached the camping ground I was lifted off him, and
laid on the ground wrapped up in blankets, a humiliating termination of
a great exploit.  The horses were saddled, and the young men were all
ready to start, but "Jim" quietly said, "Now, gentlemen, I want a good
night's rest, and we shan't stir from here to-night."  I believe they
were really glad to have it so, as one of them was quite "finished."  I
retired to my arbor, wrapped myself in a roll of blankets, and was soon
asleep.

When I woke, the moon was high shining through the silvery branches,
whitening the bald Peak above, and glittering on the great abyss of
snow behind, and pine logs were blazing like a bonfire in the cold
still air.  My feet were so icy cold that I could not sleep again, and
getting some blankets to sit in, and making a roll of them for my back,
I sat for two hours by the camp-fire.  It was weird and gloriously
beautiful.  The students were asleep not far off in their blankets with
their feet towards the fire.  "Ring" lay on one side of me with his
fine head on my arm, and his master sat smoking, with the fire lighting
up the handsome side of his face, and except for the tones of our
voices, and an occasional crackle and splutter as a pine knot blazed
up, there was no sound on the mountain side.  The beloved stars of my
far-off home were overhead, the Plough and Pole Star, with their steady
light; the glittering Pleiades, looking larger than I ever saw them,
and "Orion's studded belt" shining gloriously.  Once only some wild
animals prowled near the camp, when "Ring," with one bound, disappeared
from my side; and the horses, which were picketed by the stream, broke
their lariats, stampeded, and came rushing wildly towards the fire, and
it was fully half an hour before they were caught and quiet was
restored.  "Jim," or Mr. Nugent, as I always scrupulously called him,
told stories of his early youth, and of a great sorrow which had led
him to embark on a lawless and desperate life.  His voice trembled, and
tears rolled down his cheek.  Was it semi-conscious acting, I wondered,
or was his dark soul really stirred to its depths by the silence, the
beauty, and the memories of youth?

We reached Estes Park at noon of the following day.  A more successful
ascent of the Peak was never made, and I would not now exchange my
memories of its perfect beauty and extraordinary sublimity for any
other experience of mountaineering in any part of the world.  Yesterday
snow fell on the summit, and it will be inaccessible for eight months
to come.

                                      I. L. B.



Letter VIII

Estes Park--Big game--"Parks" in Colorado--Magnificent scenery--Flowers
and pines--An awful road--Our log cabin--Griffith Evans--A miniature
world--Our topics--A night alarm--A skunk--Morning glories--Daily
routine--The panic--"Wait for the wagon"--A musical evening.

ESTES PARK, COLORADO TERRITORY, October 2.

How time has slipped by I do not know.  This is a glorious region, and
the air and life are intoxicating.  I live mainly out of doors and on
horseback, wear my half-threadbare Hawaiian dress, sleep sometimes
under the stars on a bed of pine boughs, ride on a Mexican saddle, and
hear once more the low music of my Mexican spurs.  "There's a stranger!
Heave arf a brick at him!" is said by many travelers to express the
feeling of the new settlers in these Territories.  This is not my
experience in my cheery mountain home.  How the rafters ring as I write
with songs and mirth, while the pitch-pine logs blaze and crackle in
the chimney, and the fine snow dust drives in through the chinks and
forms mimic snow wreaths on the floor, and the wind raves and howls and
plays among the creaking pine branches and snaps them short off, and
the lightning plays round the blasted top of Long's Peak, and the hardy
hunters divert themselves with the thought that when I go to bed I must
turn out and face the storm!

You will ask, "What is Estes Park?"  This name, with the quiet Midland
Countries' sound, suggests "park palings" well lichened, a lodge with a
curtseying woman, fallow deer, and a Queen Anne mansion.  Such as it
is, Estes Park is mine.  It is unsurveyed, "no man's land," and mine by
right of love, appropriation, and appreciation; by the seizure of its
peerless sunrises and sunsets, its glorious afterglow, its blazing
noons, its hurricanes sharp and furious, its wild auroras, its glories
of mountain and forest, of canyon, lake, and river, and the
stereotyping them all in my memory.  Mine, too, in a better than the
sportsman's sense, are its majestic wapiti, which play and fight under
the pines in the early morning, as securely as fallow deer under our
English oaks; its graceful "black-tails," swift of foot; its superb
bighorns, whose noble leader is to be seen now and then with his
classic head against the blue sky on the top of a colossal rock; its
sneaking mountain lion with his hideous nocturnal caterwaulings, the
great "grizzly," the beautiful skunk, the wary beaver, who is always
making lakes, damming and turning streams, cutting down young
cotton-woods, and setting an example of thrift and industry; the wolf,
greedy and cowardly; the coyote and the lynx, and all the lesser fry of
mink, marten, cat, hare, fox, squirrel, and chipmunk, as well as things
that fly, from the eagle down to the crested blue-jay.  May their
number never be less, in spite of the hunter who kills for food and
gain, and the sportsman who kills and marauds for pastime!

But still I have not answered the natural question,[15] "What is Estes
Park?"  Among the striking peculiarities of these mountains are
hundreds of high-lying valleys, large and small, at heights varying
from 6,000 to 11,000 feet.  The most important are North Park, held by
hostile Indians; Middle Park, famous for hot springs and trout; South
Park is 10,000 feet high, a great rolling prairie seventy miles long,
well grassed and watered, but nearly closed by snow in winter.  But
parks innumerable are scattered throughout the mountains, most of them
unnamed, and others nicknamed by the hunters or trappers who have made
them their temporary resorts.  They always lie far within the flaming
Foot Hills, their exquisite stretches of flowery pastures dotted
artistically with clumps of trees sloping lawnlike to bright swift
streams full of red-waist-coated trout, or running up in soft glades
into the dark forest, above which the snow peaks rise in their infinite
majesty.  Some are bits of meadow a mile long and very narrow, with a
small stream, a beaver dam, and a pond made by beaver industry.
Hundreds of these can only be reached by riding in the bed of a stream,
or by scrambling up some narrow canyon till it debouches on the
fairy-like stretch above.  These parks are the feeding grounds of
innumerable wild animals, and some, like one three miles off, seem
chosen for the process of antler-casting, the grass being covered for
at least a square mile with the magnificent branching horns of the elk.

[15] Nor should I at this time, had not Henry Kingsley, Lord Dunraven,
and "The Field," divulged the charms and whereabouts of these "happy
hunting grounds," with the certain result of directing a stream of
tourists into the solitary, beast-haunted paradise.


Estes Park combines the beauties of all.  Dismiss all thoughts of the
Midland Counties.  For park palings there are mountains, forest
skirted, 9,000, 11,000, 14,000 feet high; for a lodge, two sentinel
peaks of granite guarding the only feasible entrance; and for a Queen
Anne mansion an unchinked log cabin with a vault of sunny blue
overhead.  The park is most irregularly shaped, and contains hardly any
level grass.  It is an aggregate of lawns, slopes, and glades, about
eighteen miles in length, but never more than two miles in width.  The
Big Thompson, a bright, rapid trout stream, snow born on Long's Peak a
few miles higher, takes all sorts of magical twists, vanishing and
reappearing unexpectedly, glancing among lawns, rushing through
romantic ravines, everywhere making music through the still, long
nights.  Here and there the lawns are so smooth, the trees so
artistically grouped, a lake makes such an artistic foreground, or a
waterfall comes tumbling down with such an apparent feeling for the
picturesque, that I am almost angry with Nature for her close imitation
of art.  But in another hundred yards Nature, glorious, unapproachable,
inimitable, is herself again, raising one's thoughts reverently upwards
to her Creator and ours.  Grandeur and sublimity, not softness, are the
features of Estes Park.  The glades which begin so softly are soon lost
in the dark primaeval forests, with their peaks of rosy granite, and
their stretches of granite blocks piled and poised by nature in some
mood of fury.  The streams are lost in canyons nearly or quite
inaccessible, awful in their blackness and darkness; every valley ends
in mystery; seven mountain ranges raise their frowning barriers between
us and the Plains, and at the south end of the park Long's Peak rises
to a height of 14,700 feet, with his bare, scathed head slashed with
eternal snow.  The lowest part of the Park is 7,500 feet high; and
though the sun is hot during the day, the mercury hovers near the
freezing point every night of the summer.  An immense quantity of snow
falls, but partly owing to the tremendous winds which drift it into the
deep valleys, and partly to the bright warm sun of the winter months,
the park is never snowed up, and a number of cattle and horses are
wintered out of doors on its sun-cured saccharine grasses, of which the
gramma grass is the most valuable.

The soil here, as elsewhere in the neighborhood, is nearly everywhere
coarse, grey, granitic dust, produced probably by the disintegration of
the surrounding mountains.  It does not hold water, and is never wet in
any weather.  There are no thaws here The snow mysteriously disappears
by rapid evaporation.  Oats grow, but do not ripen, and, when well
advanced, are cut and stacked for winter fodder.  Potatoes yield
abundantly, and, though not very large, are of the best quality, mealy
throughout.  Evans has not attempted anything else, and probably the
more succulent vegetables would require irrigation.  The wild flowers
are gorgeous and innumerable, though their beauty, which culminates in
July and August, was over before I arrived, and the recent snow
flurries have finished them.  The time between winter and winter is
very short, and the flowery growth and blossom of a whole year are
compressed into two months.  Here are dandelions, buttercups,
larkspurs, harebells, violets, roses, blue gentian, columbine,
painter's brush, and fifty others, blue and yellow predominating; and
though their blossoms are stiffened by the cold every morning, they are
starring the grass and drooping over the brook long before noon, making
the most of their brief lives in the sunshine.  Of ferns, after many a
long hunt, I have only found the Cystopteris fragilis and the Blechnum
spicant, but I hear that the Pteris aquilina is also found.  Snakes and
mosquitoes do not appear to be known here.  Coming almost direct from
the tropics, one is dissatisfied with the uniformity of the foliage;
indeed, foliage can hardly be written of, as the trees properly so
called at this height are exclusively Coniferae, and bear needles
instead of leaves.  In places there are patches of spindly aspens,
which have turned a lemon yellow, and along the streams bear cherries,
vines, and roses lighten the gulches with their variegated crimson
leaves.  The pines are not imposing, either from their girth or height.
Their coloring is blackish green, and though they are effective singly
or in groups, they are somber and almost funereal when densely massed,
as here, along the mountain sides.  The timber line is at a height of
about 11,000 feet, and is singularly well defined.  The most attractive
tree I have seen is the silver spruce, Abies Englemanii, near of kin to
what is often called the balsam fir.  Its shape and color are both
beautiful.  My heart warms towards it, and I frequent all the places
where I can find it.  It looks as if a soft, blue, silver powder had
fallen on its deep-green needles, or as if a bluish hoar-frost, which
must melt at noon, were resting upon it.  Anyhow, one can hardly
believe that the beauty is permanent, and survives the summer heat and
the winter cold.  The universal tree here is the Pinus ponderosa, but
it never attains any very considerable size, and there is nothing to
compare with the red-woods of the Sierra Nevada, far less with the
sequoias of California.

As I have written before, Estes Park is thirty miles from Longmount,
the nearest settlement, and it can be reached on horseback only by the
steep and devious track by which I came, passing through a narrow rift
in the top of a precipitous ridge, 9,000 feet high, called the Devil's
Gate.  Evans takes a lumber wagon with four horses over the mountains,
and a Colorado engineer would have no difficulty in making a wagon
road.  In several of the gulches over which the track hangs there are
the remains of wagons which have come to grief in the attempt to
emulate Evans's feat, which without evidence, I should have supposed to
be impossible.  It is an awful road.  The only settlers in the park are
Griffith Evans, and a married man a mile higher up.  "Mountain Jim's"
cabin is in the entrance gulch, four miles off, and there is not
another cabin for eighteen miles toward the Plains.  The park is
unsurveyed, and the huge tract of mountainous country beyond is almost
altogether unexplored.  Elk hunters occasionally come up and camp out
here; but the two settlers, who, however, are only squatters, for
various reasons are not disposed to encourage such visitors.  When
Evans, who is a very successful hunter, came here, he came on foot, and
for some time after settling here he carried the flour and necessaries
required by his family on his back over the mountains.

As I intend to make Estes Park my headquarters until the winter sets
in, I must make you acquainted with my surroundings and mode of living.
The "Queen Anne mansion" is represented by a log cabin made of big hewn
logs.  The chinks should be filled with mud and lime, but these are
wanting.  The roof is formed of barked young spruce, then a layer of
hay, and an outer coating of mud, all nearly flat.  The floors are
roughly boarded.  The "living room" is about sixteen feet square, and
has a rough stone chimney in which pine logs are always burning.  At
one end there is a door into a small bedroom, and at the other a door
into a small eating room, at the table of which we feed in relays.
This opens into a very small kitchen with a great American
cooking-stove, and there are two "bed closets" besides.  Although rude,
it is comfortable, except for the draughts.  The fine snow drives in
through the chinks and covers the floors, but sweeping it out at
intervals is both fun and exercise.  There are no heaps or rubbish
places outside.  Near it, on the slope under the pines, is a pretty
two-roomed cabin, and beyond that, near the lake, is my cabin, a very
rough one.  My door opens into a little room with a stone chimney, and
that again into a small room with a hay bed, a chair with a tin basin
on it, a shelf and some pegs.  A small window looks on the lake, and
the glories of the sunrises which I see from it are indescribable.
Neither of my doors has a lock, and, to say the truth, neither will
shut, as the wood has swelled.  Below the house, on the stream which
issues from the lake, there is a beautiful log dairy, with a water
wheel outside, used for churning.  Besides this, there are a corral, a
shed for the wagon, a room for the hired man, and shelters for horses
and weakly calves.  All these things are necessaries at this height.

The ranchmen are two Welshmen, Evans and Edwards, each with a wife and
family.  The men are as diverse as they can be.  "Griff," as Evans is
called, is short and small, and is hospitable, careless, reckless,
jolly, social, convivial, peppery, good natured, "nobody's enemy but
his own."  He had the wit and taste to find out Estes Park, where
people have found him out, and have induced him to give them food and
lodging, and add cabin to cabin to take them in.  He is a splendid
shot, an expert and successful hunter, a bold mountaineer, a good
rider, a capital cook, and a generally "jolly fellow."  His cheery
laugh rings through the cabin from the early morning, and is
contagious, and when the rafters ring at night with such songs as "D'ye
ken John Peel?" "Auld Lang Syne," and "John Brown," what would the
chorus be without poor "Griff's" voice?  What would Estes Park be
without him, indeed?  When he went to Denver lately we missed him as we
should have missed the sunshine, and perhaps more.  In the early
morning, when Long's Peak is red, and the grass crackles with the
hoar-frost, he arouses me with a cheery thump on my door.  "We're going
cattle-hunting, will you come?" or, "Will you help to drive in the
cattle?  You can take your pick of the horses.  I want another hand."
Free-hearted, lavish, popular, poor "Griff" loves liquor too well for
his prosperity, and is always tormented by debt.  He makes lots of
money, but puts it into "a bag with holes." He has fifty horses and
1,000 head of cattle, many of which are his own, wintering up here, and
makes no end of money by taking in people at eight dollars a week, yet
it all goes somehow.  He has a most industrious wife, a girl of
seventeen, and four younger children, all musical, but the wife has to
work like a slave; and though he is a kind husband, her lot, as
compared with her lord's, is like that of a squaw.  Edwards, his
partner, is his exact opposite, tall, thin, and condemnatory looking,
keen, industrious, saving, grave, a teetotaler, grieved for all reasons
at Evans's follies, and rather grudging; as naturally unpopular as
Evans is popular; a "decent man," who, with his industrious wife, will
certainly make money as fast as Evans loses it.

I pay eight dollars a week, which includes the unlimited use of a
horse, when one can be found and caught.  We breakfast at seven on
beef, potatoes, tea, coffee, new bread, and butter.  Two pitchers of
cream and two of milk are replenished as fast as they are exhausted.
Dinner at twelve is a repetition of the breakfast, but with the coffee
omitted and a gigantic pudding added.  Tea at six is a repetition of
breakfast.  "Eat whenever you are hungry, you can always get milk and
bread in the kitchen," Evans says--"eat as much as you can, it'll do
you good"--and we all eat like hunters.  There is no change of food.
The steer which was being killed on my arrival is now being eaten
through from head to tail, the meat being hacked off quite
promiscuously, without any regard to joints.  In this dry, rarefied
air, the outside of the flesh blackens and hardens, and though the
weather may be hot, the carcass keeps sweet for two or three months.
The bread is super excellent, but the poor wives seem to be making and
baking it all day.

The regular household living and eating together at this time consists
of a very intelligent and high-minded American couple, Mr. and Mrs.
Dewy, people whose character, culture, and society I should value
anywhere; a young Englishman, brother of a celebrated African traveler,
who, because he rides on an English saddle, and clings to some other
insular peculiarities, is called "The Earl"; a miner prospecting for
silver; a young man, the type of intelligent, practical "Young
America," whose health showed consumptive tendencies when he was in
business, and who is living a hunter's life here; a grown-up niece of
Evans; and a melancholy-looking hired man.  A mile off there is an
industrious married settler, and four miles off, in the gulch leading
to the park, "Mountain Jim," otherwise Mr. Nugent, is posted.  His
business as a trapper takes him daily up to the beaver dams in Black
Canyon to look after his traps, and he generally spends some time in or
about our cabin, not, I can see, to Evans's satisfaction.  For, in
truth, this blue hollow, lying solitary at the foot of Long's Peak, is
a miniature world of great interest, in which love, jealousy, hatred,
envy, pride, unselfishness, greed, selfishness, and self-sacrifice can
be studied hourly, and there is always the unpleasantly exciting risk
of an open quarrel with the neighboring desperado, whose "I'll shoot
you!" has more than once been heard in the cabin.

The party, however, has often been increased by "campers," either elk
hunters or "prospectors" for silver or locations, who feed with us and
join us in the evening.  They get little help from Evans, either as to
elk or locations, and go away disgusted and unsuccessful.  Two
Englishmen of refinement and culture camped out here prospecting a few
weeks ago, and then, contrary to advice, crossed the mountains into
North Park, where gold is said to abound, and it is believed that they
have fallen victims to the bloodthirsty Indians of the region.  Of
course, we never get letters or newspapers unless some one rides to
Longmount for them.  Two or three novels and a copy of Our New West are
our literature.  Our latest newspaper is seventeen days old.  Somehow
the park seems to become the natural limit of our interests so far as
they appear in conversation at table.  The last grand aurora, the
prospect of a snow-storm, track and sign of elk and grizzly, rumors of
a bighorn herd near the lake, the canyons in which the Texan cattle
were last seen, the merits of different rifles, the progress of two
obvious love affairs, the probability of some one coming up from the
Plains with letters, "Mountain Jim's" latest mood or escapade, and the
merits of his dog "Ring" as compared with those of Evans's dog "Plunk,"
are among the topics which are never abandoned as exhausted.

On Sunday work is nominally laid aside, but most of the men go out
hunting or fishing till the evening, when we have the harmonium and
much sacred music and singing in parts.  To be alone in the park from
the afternoon till the last glory of the afterglow has faded, with no
books but a Bible and Prayer-book, is truly delightful.  No worthier
temple for a "Te Deum" or "Gloria in Excelsis" could be found than this
"temple not made with hands," in which one may worship without being
distracted by the sight of bonnets of endless form, and curiously
intricate "back hair," and countless oddities of changing fashion.

I shall not soon forget my first night here.

Somewhat dazed by the rarefied air, entranced by the glorious beauty,
slightly puzzled by the motley company, whose faces loomed not always
quite distinctly through the cloud of smoke produced by eleven pipes, I
went to my solitary cabin at nine, attended by Evans.  It was very
dark, and it seemed a long way off.  Something howled--Evans said it
was a wolf--and owls apparently innumerable hooted incessantly.  The
pole-star, exactly opposite my cabin door, burned like a lamp.  The
frost was sharp.  Evans opened the door, lighted a candle, and left me,
and I was soon in my hay bed.  I was frightened--that is, afraid of
being frightened, it was so eerie--but sleep soon got the better of my
fears.  I was awoke by a heavy breathing, a noise something like sawing
under the floor, and a pushing and upheaving, all very loud.  My candle
was all burned, and, in truth, I dared not stir.  The noise went on for
an hour fully, when, just as I thought the floor had been made
sufficiently thin for all purposes of ingress, the sounds abruptly
ceased, and I fell asleep again.  My hair was not, as it ought to have
been, white in the morning!

I was dressed by seven, our breakfast hour, and when I reached the
great cabin and told my story, Evans laughed hilariously, and Edwards
contorted his face dismally.  They told me that there was a skunk's
lair under my cabin, and that they dare not make any attempt to
dislodge him for fear of rendering the cabin untenable.  They have
tried to trap him since, but without success, and each night the noisy
performance is repeated.  I think he is sharpening his claws on the
under side of my floor, as the grizzlies sharpen theirs upon the trees.
The odor with which this creature, truly named Mephitis, can overpower
its assailants is truly AWFUL.  We were driven out of the cabin for
some hours merely by the passage of one across the corral.  The bravest
man is a coward in its neighborhood.  Dogs rub their noses on the
ground till they bleed when they have touched the fluid, and even die
of the vomiting produced by the effluvia.  The odor can be smelt a mile
off.  If clothes are touched by the fluid they must be destroyed.  At
present its fur is very valuable.  Several have been killed since I
came.  A shot well aimed at the spine secures one safely, and an
experienced dog can kill one by leaping upon it suddenly without being
exposed to danger.  It is a beautiful beast, about the size and length
of a fox, with long thick black or dark-brown fur, and two white
streaks from the head to the long bushy tail.  The claws of its
fore-feet are long and polished.  Yesterday one was seen rushing from
the dairy and was shot.  "Plunk," the big dog, touched it and has to be
driven into exile.  The body was valiantly removed by a man with a long
fork, and carried to a running stream, but we are nearly choked with
the odor from the spot where it fell.  I hope that my skunk will enjoy
a quiet spirit so long as we are near neighbors.

October 3.

This is surely one of the most entrancing spots on earth.  Oh, that I
could paint with pen or brush!  From my bed I look on Mirror Lake, and
with the very earliest dawn, when objects are not discernible, it lies
there absolutely still, a purplish lead color.  Then suddenly into its
mirror flash inverted peaks, at first a dawn darker all round.  This is
a new sight, each morning new.  Then the peaks fade, and when morning
is no longer "spread upon the mountains," the pines are mirrored in my
lake almost as solid objects, and the glory steals downwards, and a red
flush warms the clear atmosphere of the park, and the hoar-frost
sparkles and the crested blue-jays step forth daintily on the jewelled
grass.  The majesty and beauty grow on me daily.  As I crossed from my
cabin just now, and the long mountain shadows lay on the grass, and
form and color gained new meanings, I was almost false to Hawaii; I
couldn't go on writing for the glory of the sunset, but went out and
sat on a rock to see the deepening blue in the dark canyons, and the
peaks becoming rose color one by one, then fading into sudden
ghastliness, the awe-inspiring heights of Long's Peak fading last.
Then came the glories of the afterglow, when the orange and lemon of
the east faded into gray, and then gradually the gray for some distance
above the horizon brightened into a cold blue, and above the blue into
a broad band of rich, warm red, with an upper band of rose color; above
it hung a big cold moon.  This is the "daily miracle" of evening, as
the blazing peaks in the darkness of Mirror Lake are the miracle of
morning.  Perhaps this scenery is not lovable, but, as if it were a
strong stormy character, it has an intense fascination.

The routine of my day is breakfast at seven, then I go back and "do" my
cabin and draw water from the lake, read a little, loaf a little,
return to the big cabin and sweep it alternately with Mrs. Dewy, after
which she reads aloud till dinner at twelve.  Then I ride with Mr.
Dewy, or by myself, or with Mrs. Dewy, who is learning to ride cavalier
fashion in order to accompany her invalid husband, or go after cattle
till supper at six.  After that we all sit in the living room, and I
settle down to write to you, or mend my clothes, which are dropping to
pieces.  Some sit round the table playing at eucre, the strange hunters
and prospectors lie on the floor smoking, and rifles are cleaned,
bullets cast, fishing flies made, fishing tackle repaired, boots are
waterproofed, part-songs are sung, and about half-past eight I cross
the crisp grass to my cabin, always expecting to find something in it.
We all wash our own clothes, and as my stock is so small, some part of
every day has to be spent at the wash tub.  Politeness and propriety
always prevail in our mixed company, and though various grades of
society are represented, true democratic equality prevails, not its
counterfeit, and there is neither forwardness on one side nor
condescension on the other.

Evans left for Denver ten days ago, taking his wife and family to the
Plains for the winter, and the mirth of our party departed with him.
Edwards is somber, except when he lies on the floor in the evening, and
tells stories of his march through Georgia with Sherman.  I gave Evans
a 100-dollar note to change, and asked him to buy me a horse for my
tour, and for three days we have expected him.  The mail depends on
him.  I have had no letters from you for five weeks, and can hardly
curb my impatience.  I ride or walk three or four miles out on the
Longmount trail two or three times a day to look for him.  Others, for
different reasons, are nearly equally anxious.  After dark we start at
every sound, and every time the dogs bark all the able-bodied of us
turn out en masse.  "Wait for the wagon" has become a nearly maddening
joke.


October 9.

The letter and newspaper fever has seized on every one.  We have sent
at last to Longmount.  The evening I rode out on the Longmount trail
towards dusk, escorted by "Mountain Jim," and in the distance we saw a
wagon with four horses and a saddle horse behind, and the driver waved
a handkerchief, the concerted signal if I were the possessor of a
horse.  We turned back, galloping down the long hill as fast as two
good horses could carry us, and gave the joyful news.  It was an hour
before the wagon arrived, bringing not Evans but two "campers" of
suspicious aspect, who have pitched their camp close to my cabin!  You
cannot imagine what it is to be locked in by these mountain walls, and
not to know where your letters are lying.  Later on, Mr. Buchan, one of
our usual inmates, returned from Denver with papers, letters for every
one but me, and much exciting news.  The financial panic has spread out
West, gathering strength on its way.  The Denver banks have all
suspended business.  They refuse to cash their own checks, or to allow
their customers to draw a dollar, and would not even give green-backs
for my English gold!  Neither Mr. Buchan nor Evans could get a cent.
Business is suspended, and everybody, however rich, is for the time
being poor.  The Indians have taken to the "war path," and are burning
ranches and killing cattle.  There is a regular "scare" among the
settlers, and wagon loads of fugitives are arriving in Colorado
Springs.  The Indians say, "The white man has killed the buffalo and
left them to rot on the plains.  We will be revenged."  Evans had
reached Longmount, and will be here tonight.


October 10.

"Wait for the wagon" still!  We had a hurricane of wind and hail last
night; it was eleven before I could go to my cabin, and I only reached
it with the help of two men.  The moon was not up, and the sky overhead
was black with clouds, when suddenly Long's Peak, which had been
invisible, gleamed above the dark mountains, all glistening with
new-fallen snow, on which the moon, as yet uprisen here, was shining.
The evening before, after sunset, I saw another novel effect.  My lake
turned a brilliant orange in the twilight, and in its still mirror the
mountains were reflected a deep rich blue.  It is a world of wonders.
To-day we had a great storm with flurries of fine snow; and when the
clouds rolled up at noon, the Snowy Range and all the higher mountains
were pure white.  I have been hard at work all day to drown my
anxieties, which are heightened by a rumor that Evans has gone
buffalo-hunting on the Platte!

This evening, quite unexpectedly, Evans arrived with a heavy mail in a
box.  I sorted it, but there was nothing for me and Evans said he was
afraid that he had left my letters, which were separate from the
others, behind at Denver, but he had written from Longmount for them.
A few hours later they were found in a box of groceries!

All the hilarity of the house has returned with Evans, and he has
brought a kindred spirit with him, a young man who plays and sings
splendidly, has an inexhaustible repertoire, and produces sonatas,
funeral marches, anthems, reels, strathspeys, and all else, out of his
wonderful memory.  Never, surely was a chamber organ compelled to such
service.  A little cask of suspicious appearance was smuggled into the
cabin from the wagon, and heightens the hilarity a little, I fear.  No
churlishness could resist Evans's unutterable jollity or the contagion
of his hearty laugh.  He claps people on the back, shouts at them, will
do anything for them, and makes a perpetual breeze.  "My kingdom for a
horse!"  He has not got one for me, and a shadow crossed his face when
I spoke of the subject.  Eventually he asked for a private conference,
when he told me, with some confusion, that he had found himself "very
hard up" in Denver, and had been obliged to appropriate my 100-dollar
note.  He said he would give me, as interest for it up to November
25th, a good horse, saddle, and bridle for my proposed journey of 600
miles.  I was somewhat dismayed, but there was no other course, as the
money was gone.

[16] I tried a horse, mended my clothes, reduced my pack to a weight of
twelve pounds, and was all ready for an early start, when before
daylight I was wakened by Evans's cheery voice at my door.  "I say,
Miss B., we've got to drive wild cattle to-day; I wish you'd lend a
hand, there's not enough of us; I'll give you a good horse; one day
won't make much difference."  So we've been driving cattle all day,
riding about twenty miles, and fording the Big Thompson about as many
times.  Evans flatters me by saying that I am "as much use as another
man"; more than one of our party, I hope, who always avoided the "ugly"
cows.

[16] In justice to Evans, I must mention here that every cent of the
money was ultimately paid, that the horse was perfection, and that the
arrangement turned out a most advantageous one for me.


October 12.

I am still here, helping in the kitchen, driving cattle, and riding
four or five times a day.  Evans detains me each morning by saying,
"Here's lots of horses for you to try," and after trying five or six a
day, I do not find one to my liking.  Today, as I was cantering a tall
well-bred one round the lake, he threw the bridle off by a toss of his
head, leaving me with the reins in my hands; one bucked, and two have
tender feet, and tumbled down.  Such are some of our little varieties.
Still I hope to get off on my tour in a day or two, so at least as to
be able to compare Estes Park with some of the better-known parts of
Colorado.

You would be amused if you could see our cabin just now.  There are
nine men in the room and three women.  For want of seats most of the
men are lying on the floor; all are smoking, and the blithe young
French Canadian who plays so beautifully, and catches about fifty
speckled trout for each meal, is playing the harmonium with a pipe in
his mouth.  Three men who have camped in Black Canyon for a week are
lying like dogs on the floor.  They are all over six feet high,
immovably solemn, neither smiling at the general hilarity, nor at the
absurd changes which are being rung on the harmonium.  They may be
described as clothed only in boots, for their clothes are torn to rags.
They stare vacantly.  They have neither seen a woman nor slept under a
roof for six months.  Negro songs are being sung, and before that
"Yankee Doodle" was played immediately after "Rule Britannia," and it
made every one but the strangers laugh, it sounded so foolish and mean.
The colder weather is bringing the beasts down from the heights.  I
heard both wolves and the mountain lion as I crossed to my cabin last
night.

                                   I. L. B.



LETTER IX

"Please Ma'ams"--A desperado--A cattle hunt--The muster--A mad cow--A
snowstorm--Snowed up--Birdie--The Plains--A prairie schooner--Denver--A
find--Plum Creek--"Being agreeable"--Snowbound--The grey mare.

ESTES PARK, COLORADO.

This afternoon, as I was reading in my cabin, little Sam Edwards ran
in, saying, "Mountain Jim wants to speak to you."  This brought to my
mind images of infinite worry, gauche servants, "please Ma'am,"
contretemps, and the habit growing out of our elaborate and uselessly
conventional life of magnifying the importance of similar trifles.
Then "things" came up, with the tyranny they exercise.  I REALLY need
nothing more than this log cabin offers.  But elsewhere one must have a
house and servants, and burdens and worries--not that one may be
hospitable and comfortable, but for the "thick clay" in the shape of
"things" which one has accumulated.  My log house takes me about five
minutes to "do," and you could eat off the floor, and it needs no lock,
as it contains nothing worth stealing.

But "Mountain Jim" was waiting while I made these reflections to ask us
to take a ride; and he, Mr. and Mrs. Dewy, and I, had a delightful
stroll through colored foliage, and then, when they were fatigued, I
changed my horse for his beautiful mare, and we galloped and raced in
the beautiful twilight, in the intoxicating frosty air.  Mrs. Dewy
wishes you could have seen us as we galloped down the pass, the
fearful-looking ruffian on my heavy wagon horse, and I on his bare
wooden saddle, from which beaver, mink, and marten tails, and pieces of
skin, were hanging raggedly, with one spur, and feet not in the
stirrups, the mare looking so aristocratic and I so beggarly!  Mr.
Nugent is what is called "splendid company."  With a sort of breezy
mountain recklessness in everything, he passes remarkably acute
judgments on men and events; on women also.  He has pathos, poetry, and
humor, an intense love of nature, strong vanity in certain directions,
an obvious desire to act and speak in character, and sustain his
reputation as a desperado, a considerable acquaintance with literature,
a wonderful verbal memory, opinions on every person and subject, a
chivalrous respect for women in his manner, which makes it all the more
amusing when he suddenly turns round upon one with some graceful
raillery, a great power of fascination, and a singular love of
children.  The children of this house run to him, and when he sits down
they climb on his broad shoulders and play with his curls.  They say in
the house that "no one who has been here thinks any one worth speaking
to after Jim," but I think that this is probably an opinion which time
would alter.  Somehow, he is kept always before the public of Colorado,
for one can hardly take up a newspaper without finding a paragraph
about him, a contribution by him, or a fragment of his biography.
Ruffian as he looks, the first word he speaks--to a lady, at
least--places him on a level with educated gentlemen, and his
conversation is brilliant, and full of the light and fitfulness of
genius.  Yet, on the whole, he is a most painful spectacle.  His
magnificent head shows so plainly the better possibilities which might
have been his.  His life, in spite of a certain dazzle which belongs to
it, is a ruined and wasted one, and one asks what of good can the
future have in store for one who has for so long chosen evil?[17]

[17] September of the next year answered the question by laying him
down in a dishonored grave, with a rifle bullet in his brain.


Shall I ever get away?  We were to have had a grand cattle hunt
yesterday, beginning at 6:30, but the horses were all lost.  Often out
of fifty horses all that are worth anything are marauding, and a day is
lost in hunting for them in the canyons.  However, before daylight this
morning Evans called through my door, "Miss Bird, I say we've got to
drive cattle fifteen miles, I wish you'd lend a hand; there's not
enough of us; I'll give you a good horse."

The scene of the drive is at a height of 7,500 feet, watered by two
rapid rivers.  On all sides mountains rise to an altitude of from
11,000 to 15,000 feet, their skirts shaggy with pitch-pine forests, and
scarred by deep canyons, wooded and boulder strewn, opening upon the
mountain pasture previously mentioned.  Two thousand head of half-wild
Texan cattle are scattered in herds throughout the canyons, living on
more or less suspicious terms with grizzly and brown bears, mountain
lions, elk, mountain sheep, spotted deer, wolves, lynxes, wild cats,
beavers, minks, skunks, chipmunks, eagles, rattlesnakes, and all the
other two-legged, four-legged, vertebrate, and invertebrate inhabitants
of this lonely and romantic region.  On the whole, they show a tendency
rather to the habits of wild than of domestic cattle.  They march to
water in Indian file, with the bulls leading, and when threatened, take
strategic advantage of ridgy ground, slinking warily along in the
hollows, the bulls acting as sentinels, and bringing up the rear in
case of an attack from dogs. Cows have to be regularly broken in for
milking, being as wild as buffaloes in their unbroken state; but, owing
to the comparative dryness of the grasses, and the system of allowing
the calf to have the milk during the daytime, a dairy of 200 cows does
not produce as much butter as a Devonshire dairy of fifty.  Some
"necessary" cruelty is involved in the stockman's business, however
humane he may be.  The system is one of terrorism, and from the time
that the calf is bullied into the branding pen, and the hot iron burns
into his shrinking flesh, to the day when the fatted ox is driven down
from his boundless pastures to be slaughtered in Chicago, "the fear and
dread of man" are upon him.

The herds are apt to penetrate the savage canyons which come down from
the Snowy Range, when they incur a risk of being snowed up and starved,
and it is necessary now and then to hunt them out and drive them down
to the "park."  On this occasion, the whole were driven down for a
muster, and for the purpose of branding the calves.

After a 6:30 breakfast this morning, we started, the party being
composed of my host, a hunter from the Snowy Range, two stockmen from
the Plains, one of whom rode a violent buck-jumper, and was said by his
comrade to be the "best rider in North Americay," and myself.  We were
all mounted on Mexican saddles, rode, as the custom is, with light
snaffle bridles, leather guards over our feet, and broad wooden
stirrups, and each carried his lunch in a pouch slung on the lassoing
horn of his saddle.  Four big, badly-trained dogs accompanied us.  It
was a ride of nearly thirty miles, and of many hours, one of the most
splendid I ever took.  We never got off our horses except to tighten
the girths, we ate our lunch with our bridles knotted over saddle
horns, started over the level at full gallops, leapt over trunks of
trees, dashed madly down hillsides rugged with rocks or strewn with
great stones, forded deep, rapid streams, saw lovely lakes and views of
surpassing magnificence, startled a herd of elk with uncouth heads and
in the chase, which for some time was unsuccessful, rode to the very
base of Long's Peak, over 14,000 feet high, where the bright waters of
one of the affluents of the Platte burst from the eternal snows through
a canyon of indescribable majesty.  The sun was hot, but at a height of
over 8,000 feet the air was crisp and frosty, and the enjoyment of
riding a good horse under such exhilarating circumstances was extreme.
In one wild part of the ride we had to come down a steep hill, thickly
wooded with pitch pines, to leap over the fallen timber, and steer
between the dead and living trees to avoid being "snagged," or bringing
down a heavy dead branch by an unwary touch.

Emerging from this, we caught sight of a thousand Texan cattle feeding
in a valley below.  The leaders scented us, and, taking fright, began
to move off in the direction of the open "park," while we were about a
mile from and above them.  "Head them off, boys!" our leader shouted;
"all aboard; hark away!" and with something of the "High, tally-ho in
the morning!" away we all went at a hard gallop down-hill.  I could not
hold my excited animal; down-hill, up-hill, leaping over rocks and
timber, faster every moment the pace grew, and still the leader
shouted, "Go it, boys!" and the horses dashed on at racing speed,
passing and repassing each other, till my small but beautiful bay was
keeping pace with the immense strides of the great buck-jumper ridden
by "the finest rider in North Americay," and I was dizzied and
breathless by the pace at which we were going.  A shorter time than it
takes to tell it brought us close to and abreast of the surge of
cattle.  The bovine waves were a grand sight:  huge bulls, shaped like
buffaloes, bellowed and roared, and with great oxen and cows with
yearling calves, galloped like racers, and we galloped alongside of
them, and shortly headed them and in no time were placed as sentinels
across the mouth of the valley.  It seemed like infantry awaiting the
shock of cavalry as we stood as still as our excited horses would
allow.  I almost quailed as the surge came on, but when it got close to
us my comrades hooted fearfully, and we dashed forward with the dogs,
and, with bellowing, roaring, and thunder of hoofs, the wave receded as
it came.  I rode up to our leader, who received me with much laughter.
He said I was "a good cattleman," and that he had forgotten that a lady
was of the party till he saw me "come leaping over the timber, and
driving with the others."

It was not for two hours after this that the real business of driving
began, and I was obliged to change my thoroughbred for a well-trained
cattle horse--a bronco, which could double like a hare, and go over any
ground.  I had not expected to work like a vachero, but so it was, and
my Hawaiian experience was very useful.  We hunted the various canyons
and known "camps," driving the herds out of them; and, until we had
secured 850 head in the corral some hours afterwards, we scarcely saw
each other to speak to.  Our first difficulty was with a herd which got
into some swampy ground, when a cow, which afterwards gave me an
infinity of trouble, remained at bay for nearly an hour, tossing the
dog three times, and resisting all efforts to dislodge her.  She had a
large yearling calf with her, and Evans told me that the attachment of
a cow to her first calf is sometimes so great that she will kill her
second that the first may have the milk.  I got a herd of over a
hundred out of a canyon by myself, and drove them down to the river
with the aid of one badly-broken dog, which gave me more trouble than
the cattle.  The getting over was most troublesome; a few took to the
water readily and went across, but others smelt it, and then, doubling
back, ran in various directions; while some attacked the dog as he was
swimming, and others, after crossing, headed back in search of some
favorite companions which had been left behind, and one specially
vicious cow attacked my horse over and over again.  It took an hour and
a half of time and much patience to gather them all on the other side.

It was getting late in the day, and a snowstorm was impending, before I
was joined by the other drivers and herds, and as the former had
diminished to three, with only three dogs, it was very difficult to
keep the cattle together.  You drive them as gently as possible, so as
not to frighten or excite them,[18] riding first on one side, then on
the other, to guide them; and if they deliberately go in a wrong
direction, you gallop in front and head them off.  The great excitement
is when one breaks away from the herd and gallops madly up and
down-hill, and you gallop after him anywhere, over and among rocks and
trees, doubling when he doubles, and heading him till you get him back
again.  The bulls were quite easily managed, but the cows with calves,
old or young, were most troublesome.  By accident I rode between one
cow and her calf in a narrow place, and the cow rushed at me and was
just getting her big horns under the horse, when he reared, and spun
dexterously aside.  This kind of thing happened continually.  There was
one very handsome red cow which became quite mad.  She had a calf with
her nearly her own size, and thought every one its enemy, and though
its horns were well developed, and it was quite able to take care of
itself, she insisted on protecting it from all fancied dangers.  One of
the dogs, a young, foolish thing, seeing that the cow was excited, took
a foolish pleasure in barking at her, and she was eventually quite
infuriated.  She turned to bay forty times at least; tore up the ground
with her horns, tossed and killed the calves of two other cows, and
finally became so dangerous to the rest of the herd that, just as the
drive was ending, Evans drew his revolver and shot her, and the calf
for which she had fought so blindly lamented her piteously.  She rushed
at me several times mad with rage, but these trained cattle horses keep
perfectly cool, and, nearly without will on my part, mine jumped aside
at the right moment, and foiled the assailant.  Just at dusk we reached
the corral--an acre of grass enclosed by stout post-and-rail fences
seven feet high--and by much patience and some subtlety lodged the
whole herd within its shelter, without a blow, a shout, or even a crack
of a whip, wild as the cattle were.  It was fearfully cold.  We
galloped the last mile and a half in four and a half minutes, reached
the cabin just as the snow began to fall, and found strong, hot tea
ready.

[18] In several visits to America I have observed that the Americans
are far in advance of us and our colonial kinsmen in their treatment of
horses and other animals.  This was very apparent with regard to this
Texan herd.  There were no stock whips, no needless worrying of the
animals in the excitement of sport.  Any dog seizing a bullock by his
tail or heels would have been called off and punished, and quietness
and gentleness were the rule.  The horses were ridden without whips,
and with spurs so blunt that they could not hurt even a human skin, and
were ruled by the voice and a slight pressure on the light snaffle
bridle.  This is the usual plan, even where, as in Colorado, the horses
are bronchos, and inherit ineradicable vice.  I never yet saw a horse
BULLIED into submission in the United States.


October 18.

Snow-bound for three days!  I could not write yesterday, it was so
awful.  People gave up all occupation, and talked of nothing but the
storm.  The hunters all kept by the great fire in the living room, only
going out to bring in logs and clear the snow from the door and
windows.  I never spent a more fearful night than two nights ago, alone
in my cabin in the storm, with the roof lifting, the mud cracking and
coming off, and the fine snow hissing through the chinks between the
logs, while splittings and breaking of dead branches, wind wrung and
snow laden, went on incessantly, with screechings, howlings, thunder
and lightning, and many unfamiliar sounds besides.  After snowing
fiercely all day, another foot of it fell in the early night, and,
after drifting against my door, blocked me effectually in.  About
midnight the mercury fell to zero, and soon after a gale rose, which
lasted for ten hours.  My window frame is swelled, and shuts,
apparently, hermetically; and my bed is six feet from it.  I had gone
to sleep with six blankets on, and a heavy sheet over my face.  Between
two and three I was awoke by the cabin being shifted from underneath by
the wind, and the sheet was frozen to my lips.  I put out my hands, and
the bed was thickly covered with fine snow.  Getting up to investigate
matters, I found the floor some inches deep in parts in fine snow, and
a gust of fine, needle-like snow stung my face.  The bucket of water
was solid ice.  I lay in bed freezing till sunrise, when some of the
men came to see if I "was alive," and to dig me out.  They brought a
can of hot water, which turned to ice before I could use it.  I dressed
standing in snow, and my brushes, boots, and etceteras were covered
with snow.  When I ran to the house, not a mountain or anything else
could be seen, and the snow on one side was drifted higher than the
roof.  The air, as high as one could see, was one white, stinging smoke
of snowdrift--a terrific sight.  In the living room, the snow was
driving through the chinks, and Mrs. Dewy was shoveling it from the
floor.  Mr. D.'s beard was hoary with frost in a room with a fire all
night.  Evans was lying ill, with his bed covered with snow.  Returning
from my cabin after breakfast, loaded with occupations for the day, I
was lifted off my feet, and deposited in a drift, and all my things,
writing book and letter included, were carried in different directions.
Some, including a valuable photograph, were irrecoverable.  The writing
book was found, some hours afterwards, under three feet of snow.

There are tracks of bears and deer close to the house, but no one can
hunt in this gale, and the drift is blinding.  We have been slightly
overcrowded in our one room.  Chess, music, and whist have been
resorted to.  One hunter, for very ennui, has devoted himself to
keeping my ink from freezing.  We all sat in great cloaks and coats,
and kept up an enormous fire, with the pitch running out of the logs.
The isolation is extreme, for we are literally snowed up, and the other
settler in the Park and "Mountain Jim" are both at Denver.  Late in the
evening the storm ceased.  In some places the ground is bare of snow,
while in others all irregularities are leveled, and the drifts are
forty feet deep. Nature is grand under this new aspect.  The cold is
awful; the high wind with the mercury at zero would skin any part
exposed to it.


October 19.

Evans offers me six dollars a week if I will stay into the winter and
do the cooking after Mrs. Edwards leaves!  I think I should like
playing at being a "hired girl" if it were not for the bread-making!
But it would suit me better to ride after cattle.  The men don't like
"baching," as it is called in the wilds--i.e.  "doing for themselves."
They washed and ironed their clothes yesterday, and there was an
incongruity about the last performance.  I really think (though for the
fifteenth time) that I shall leave to-morrow.  The cold has moderated,
the sky is bluer than ever, the snow is evaporating, and a hunter who
has joined us to-day says that there are no drifts on the trail which
one cannot get through.


LONGMOUNT, COLORADO, October 20.

"The Island Valley of Avillon" is left, but how shall I finally tear
myself from its freedom and enchantments?  I see Long's snowy peak
rising into the night sky, and know and long after the magnificence of
the blue hollow at its base.  We were to have left at 8 but the horses
were lost, so it was 9:30 before we started, the WE being the musical
young French Canadian and myself.  I have a bay Indian pony, "Birdie,"
a little beauty, with legs of iron, fast, enduring, gentle, and wise;
and with luggage for some weeks, including a black silk dress, behind
my saddle, I am tolerably independent.  It was a most glorious ride.
We passed through the gates of rock, through gorges where the unsunned
snow lay deep under the lemon-colored aspens; caught glimpses of
far-off, snow-clad giants rising into a sky of deep sad blue; lunched
above the Foot Hills at a cabin where two brothers and a "hired man"
were "keeping bach," where everything was so trim, clean, and
ornamental that one did not miss a woman; crossed a deep backwater on a
narrow beaver dam, because the log bridge was broken down, and emerged
from the brilliantly-colored canyon of the St. Vrain just at dusk upon
the featureless prairies, when we had some trouble in finding Longmount
in the dark.  A hospitable welcome awaited me at this inn, and an
English friend came in and spent the evening with me.


GREAT PLATTE CANYON, October 23.

My letters on this tour will, I fear, be very dull, for after riding
all day, looking after my pony, getting supper, hearing about various
routes, and the pastoral, agricultural, mining, and hunting gossip of
the neighborhood, I am so sleepy and wholesomely tired that I can
hardly write.  I left Longmount pretty early on Tuesday morning, the
day being sad, with the blink of an impending snow-storm in the air.
The evening before I was introduced to a man who had been a colonel in
the rebel army, who made a most unfavorable impression upon me, and it
was a great annoyance to me when he presented himself on horse-back to
guide me "over the most intricate part of the journey." Solitude is
infinitely preferable to uncongeniality, and is bliss when compared
with repulsiveness, so I was thoroughly glad when I got rid of my
escort and set out upon the prairie alone.  It is a dreary ride of
thirty miles over the low brown plains to Denver, very little settled,
and with trails going in all directions.  My sailing orders were "steer
south, and keep to the best beaten track," and it seemed like embarking
on the ocean without a compass.  The rolling brown waves on which you
see a horse a mile and a half off impress one strangely, and at noon
the sky darkened up for another storm, the mountains swept down in
blackness to the Plains, and the higher peaks took on a ghastly
grimness horrid to behold.  It was first very cold, then very hot, and
finally settled down to a fierce east-windy cold, difficult to endure.
It was free and breezy, however, and my horse was companionable.
Sometimes herds of cattle were browsing on the sun-cured grass, then
herds of horses.  Occasionally I met a horseman with a rifle lying
across his saddle, or a wagon of the ordinary sort, but oftener I saw a
wagon with a white tilt, of the kind known as a "Prairie Schooner,"
laboring across the grass, or a train of them, accompanied by herds,
mules, and horsemen, bearing emigrants and their household goods in
dreary exodus from the Western States to the much-vaunted prairies of
Colorado.

The host and hostess of one of these wagons invited me to join their
mid-day meal, I providing tea (which they had not tasted for four
weeks) and they hominy. They had been three months on the journey from
Illinois, and their oxen were so lean and weak that they expected to be
another month in reaching Wet Mountain Valley.  They had buried a child
en route, had lost several oxen, and were rather out of heart.  Owing
to their long isolation and the monotony of the march they had lost
count of events, and seemed like people of another planet.  They wanted
me to join them, but their rate of travel was too slow, so we parted
with mutual expressions of good will, and as their white tilt went
"hull down" in the distance on the lonely prairie sea, I felt sadder
than I often feel on taking leave of old acquaintances.  That night
they must have been nearly frozen, camping out in the deep snow in the
fierce wind.  I met afterwards 2,000 lean Texan cattle, herded by three
wild-looking men on horseback, followed by two wagons containing women,
children, and rifles.  They had traveled 1,000 miles.  Then I saw two
prairie wolves, like jackals, with gray fur, cowardly creatures, which
fled from me with long leaps.

The windy cold became intense, and for the next eleven miles I rode a
race with the coming storm.  At the top of every prairie roll I
expected to see Denver, but it was not till nearly five that from a
considerable height I looked down upon the great "City of the Plains,"
the metropolis of the Territories.  There the great braggart city lay
spread out, brown and treeless, upon the brown and treeless plain,
which seemed to nourish nothing but wormwood and the Spanish bayonet.
The shallow Platte, shriveled into a narrow stream with a shingly bed
six times too large for it, and fringed by shriveled cotton-wood, wound
along by Denver, and two miles up its course I saw a great sandstorm,
which in a few minutes covered the city, blotting it out with a dense
brown cloud.  Then with gusts of wind the snowstorm began, and I had to
trust entirely to Birdie's sagacity for finding Evans's shanty.  She
had been there once before only, but carried me direct to it over rough
ground and trenches.  Gleefully Mrs. Evans and the children ran out to
welcome the pet pony, and I was received most hospitably, and made warm
and comfortable, though the house consists only of a kitchen and two
bed closets.  My budget of news from "the park" had to be brought out
constantly, and I wondered how much I had to tell.  It was past eleven
when we breakfasted the next morning.  It was cloudless with an intense
frost, and six inches of snow on the ground, and everybody thought it
too cold to get up and light the fire.  I had intended to leave Birdie
at Denver, but Governor Hunt and Mr. Byers of the Rocky Mountain News
both advised me to travel on horseback rather than by train and stage
telling me that I should be quite safe, and Governor Hunt drew out a
route for me and gave me a circular letter to the settlers along it.

Denver is no longer the Denver of Hepworth Dixon.  A shooting affray in
the street is as rare as in Liverpool, and one no longer sees men
dangling to the lamp-posts when one looks out in the morning!  It is a
busy place, the entrepot and distributing point for an immense
district, with good shops, some factories, fair hotels, and the usual
deformities and refinements of civilization.  Peltry shops abound, and
sportsman, hunter, miner, teamster, emigrant, can be completely rigged
out at fifty different stores.  At Denver, people who come from the
East to try the "camp cure" now so fashionable, get their outfit of
wagon, driver, horses, tent, bedding, and stove, and start for the
mountains.  Asthmatic people are there in such numbers as to warrant
the holding of an "asthmatic convention" of patients cured and
benefited.  Numbers of invalids who cannot bear the rough life of the
mountains fill its hotels and boarding-houses, and others who have been
partially restored by a summer of camping out, go into the city in the
winter to complete the cure.  It stands at a height of 5,000 feet, on
an enormous plain, and has a most glorious view of the Rocky Range.  I
should hate even to spend a week there.  The sight of those glories so
near and yet out of reach would make me nearly crazy.  Denver is at
present the terminus of the Kansas Pacific Railroad.  It has a line
connecting it with the Union Pacific Railroad at Cheyenne, and by means
of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, open for about 200 miles, it is
expecting to reach into Mexico.  It has also had the enterprise, by
means of another narrow-gauge railroad, to push its way right up into
the mining districts near Gray's Peak.  The number of "saloons" in the
streets impresses one, and everywhere one meets the characteristic
loafers of a frontier town, who find it hard even for a few days or
hours to submit to the restraints of civilization, as hard as I did to
ride sidewise to Governor Hunt's office.  To Denver men go to spend the
savings of months of hard work in the maddest dissipation, and there
such characters as "Comanche Bill," "Buffalo Bill," "Wild Bill," and
"Mountain Jim," go on the spree, and find the kind of notoriety they
seek.

A large number of Indians added to the harlequin appearance of the
Denver streets the day I was there.  They belonged to the Ute tribe,
through which I had to pass, and Governor Hunt introduced me to a
fine-looking young chief, very well dressed in beaded hide, and bespoke
his courtesy for me if I needed it.  The Indian stores and fur stores
and fur depots interested me most.  The crowds in the streets, perhaps
owing to the snow on the ground, were almost solely masculine.  I only
saw five women the whole day.  There were men in every rig: hunters and
trappers in buckskin clothing; men of the Plains with belts and
revolvers, in great blue cloaks, relics of the war; teamsters in
leathern suits; horsemen in fur coats and caps and buffalo-hide boots
with the hair outside, and camping blankets behind their huge Mexican
saddles; Broadway dandies in light kid gloves; rich English sporting
tourists, clean, comely, and supercilious looking; and hundreds of
Indians on their small ponies, the men wearing buckskin suits sewn with
beads, and red blankets, with faces painted vermilion and hair hanging
lank and straight, and squaws much bundled up, riding astride with furs
over their saddles.

Town tired and confused me, and in spite of Mrs. Evans's kind
hospitality, I was glad when a man brought Birdie at nine yesterday
morning.  He said she was a little demon, she had done nothing but
buck, and had bucked him off on the bridge!  I found that he had put a
curb on her, and whenever she dislikes anything she resents it by
bucking.  I rode sidewise till I was well through the town, long enough
to produce a severe pain in my spine, which was not relieved for some
time even after I had changed my position.  It was a lovely Indian
summer day, so warm that the snow on the ground looked an incongruity.
I rode over the Plains for some time, then gradually reached the
rolling country along the base of the mountains, and a stream with
cottonwoods along it, and settlers' houses about every halfmile.  I
passed and met wagons frequently, and picked up a muff containing a
purse with 500 dollars in it, which I afterwards had the great pleasure
of restoring to the owner.  Several times I crossed the narrow track of
the quaint little Rio Grande Railroad, so that it was a very cheerful
ride.


RANCH, PLUM CREEK, October 24.

You must understand that in Colorado travel, unless on the main road
and in the larger settlements, there are neither hotels nor taverns,
and that it is the custom for the settlers to receive travelers,
charging them at the usual hotel rate for accommodation.  It is a very
satisfactory arrangement.  However, at Ranch, my first halting place,
the host was unwilling to receive people in this way, I afterwards
found, or I certainly should not have presented my credentials at the
door of a large frame house, with large barns and a generally
prosperous look.  The host, who opened the door, looked repellent, but
his wife, a very agreeable, lady-like-looking woman, said they could
give me a bed on a sofa.  The house was the most pretentious I have yet
seen, being papered and carpeted, and there were two "hired girls."
There was a lady there from Laramie, who kindly offered to receive me
into her room, a very tall, elegant person, remarkable as being the
first woman who had settled in the Rocky Mountains.  She had been
trying the "camp cure" for three months, and was then on her way home.
She had a wagon with beds, tent, tent floor, cooking-stove, and every
camp luxury, a light buggy, a man to manage everything, and a most
superior "hired girl." She was consumptive and frail in strength, but a
very attractive person, and her stories of the perils and limitation of
her early life at Fort Laramie were very interesting.  Still I
"wearied," as I had arrived early in the afternoon, and could not out
of politeness retire and write to you.  At meals the three "hired men"
and two "hired girls" eat with the family.  I soon found that there was
a screw loose in the house, and was glad to leave early the next
morning, although it was obvious that a storm was coming on.

I saw the toy car of the Rio Grande Railroad whirl past, all cushioned
and warm, and rather wished I were in it, and not out among the snow on
the bleak hill side.  I only got on four miles when the storm came on
so badly that I got into a kitchen where eleven wretched travelers were
taking shelter, with the snow melting on them and dripping on the
floor.  I had learned the art of "being agreeable" so well at the
Chalmers's, and practiced it so successfully during the two hours I was
there, by paring potatoes and making scones, that when I left, though
the hosts kept "an accommodation house for travelers," they would take
nothing for my entertainment, because they said I was such "good
company"!  The storm moderated a little, and at one I saddled Birdie,
and rode four more miles, crossing a frozen creek, the ice of which
broke and let the pony through, to her great alarm.  I cannot describe
my feelings on this ride, produced by the utter loneliness, the silence
and dumbness of all things, the snow falling quietly without wind, the
obliterated mountains, the darkness, the intense cold, and the unusual
and appalling aspect of nature.  All life was in a shroud, all work and
travel suspended.  There was not a foot-mark or wheel-mark.  There was
nothing to be afraid of; and though I can't exactly say that I enjoyed
the ride, yet there was the pleasant feeling of gaining health every
hour.

When the snow darkness began to deepen towards evening, the track
became quite illegible, and when I found myself at this romantically
situated cabin, I was thankful to find that they could give me shelter.
The scene was a solemn one, and reminded me of a description in
Whittier's Snow-Bound.  All the stock came round the cabin with mute
appeals for shelter.  Sheep dogs got in, and would not be kicked out.
Men went out muffled up, and came back shivering and shaking the snow
from their feet.  The churn was put by the stove.  Later on, a most
pleasant settler, on his way to Denver, came in his wagon having been
snow blocked two miles off, where he had been obliged to leave it and
bring his horses on here.  The "Grey Mare" had a stentorian voice,
smoked a clay pipe which she passed to her children, raged at English
people, derided the courtesy of English manners, and considered that
"Please," "Thank you," and the like, were "all bosh" when life was so
short and busy.  And still the snow fell softly, and the air and earth
were silent.



Letter X

A white world--Bad traveling--A millionaire's home--Pleasant
Park--Perry's Park--Stock-raising--A cattle king--The Arkansas
Divide--Birdie's sagacity--Luxury--Monument Park--Deference to
prejudice--A death scene--The Manitou--A loose shoe--The Ute
Pass--Bergens Park--A settler's home--Hayden's Divide--Sharp
criticism--Speaking the truth.

COLORADO SPRINGS, October 28.

It is difficult to make this anything of a letter.  I have been riding
for a whole week, seeing wonders and greatly enjoying the singular
adventurousness and novelty of my tour, but ten hours or more daily
spent in the saddle in this rarefied, intoxicating air, disposes one to
sleep rather than to write in the evening, and is far from conducive to
mental brilliancy.  The observing faculties are developed, and the
reflective lie dormant.

That night on which I last wrote was the coldest I have yet felt.  I
pulled the rag carpet from the floor and covered myself with it, but
could not get warm.  The sun rose gloriously on a shrouded earth.
Barns, road, shrubs, fences, river, lake, all lay under the glittering
snow.  It was light and powdery, and sparkled like diamonds.  Not a
breath of wind stirred, there was not a sound.  I had to wait till a
passing horseman had broken the track, but soon after I set off into
the new, shining world.  I soon lost the horseman's foot-marks, but
kept on near the road by means of the innumerable foot-prints of birds
and ground squirrels, which all went in one direction.  After riding
for an hour I was obliged to get off and walk for another, for the snow
balled in Birdie's feet to such an extent that she could hardly keep up
even without my weight on her, and my pick was not strong enough to
remove it.  Turning off the road to ask for a chisel, I came upon the
cabin of the people whose muff I had picked up a few days before, and
they received me very warmly, gave me a tumbler of cream, and made some
strong coffee.  They were "old Country folk," and I stayed too long
with them.  After leaving them I rode twelve miles, but it was "bad
traveling," from the balling of the snow and the difficulty of finding
the track.  There was a fearful loneliness about it.  The track was
untrodden, and I saw neither man nor beast.  The sky became densely
clouded, and the outlook was awful.  The great Divide of the Arkansas
was in front, looming vaguely through a heavy snow cloud, and snow
began to fall, not in powder, but in heavy flakes.  Finding that there
would be risk in trying to ride till nightfall, in the early afternoon
I left the road and went two miles into the hills by an untrodden path,
where there were gates to open, and a rapid steep-sided creek to cross;
and at the entrance to a most fantastic gorge I came upon an elegant
frame house belonging to Mr. Perry, a millionaire, to whom I had an
introduction which I did not hesitate to present, as it was weather in
which a traveler might almost ask for shelter without one.

Mr. Perry was away, but his daughter, a very bright-looking,
elegantly-dressed girl, invited me to dine and remain.  They had stewed
venison and various luxuries on the table, which was tasteful and
refined, and an adroit, colored table-maid waited, one of five attached
Negro servants who had been their slaves before the war.  After dinner,
though snow was slowly falling, a gentleman cousin took me a ride to
show me the beauties of Pleasant Park, which takes rank among the
finest scenery of Colorado, and in good weather is very easy of access.
It did look very grand as we entered it by a narrow pass guarded by two
buttes, or isolated upright masses of rock, bright red, and about 300
feet in height.  The pines were very large, and the narrow canyons
which came down on the park gloomily magnificent.  It is remarkable
also from a quantity of "monumental" rocks, from 50 to 300 feet in
height, bright vermilion, green, buff, orange, and sometimes all
combined, their gay tinting a contrast to the disastrous-looking snow
and the somber pines.  Bear Canyon, a gorge of singular majesty, comes
down on the park, and we crossed the Bear Creek at the foot of this on
the ice, which gave way, and both our horses broke through into pretty
deep and very cold water, and shortly afterwards Birdie put her foot
into a prairie dog's hole which was concealed by the snow, and on
recovering herself fell three times on her nose.  I thought of Bishop
Wilberforce's fatal accident from a smaller stumble, and felt sure that
he would have kept his seat had he been mounted, as I was, on a Mexican
saddle.  It was too threatening for a long ride, and on returning I
passed into a region of vivacious descriptions of Egypt, Palestine,
Asia Minor, Turkey, Russia, and other countries, in which Miss Perry
had traveled with her family for three years.

Perry's Park is one of the great cattle-raising ranches in Colorado.
This, the youngest State in the Union, a Territory until quite
recently, has an area of about 68,000,000 acres, a great portion of
which, though rich in mineral wealth, is worthless either for stock or
arable farming, and the other or eastern part is so dry that crops can
only be grown profitably where irrigation is possible.  This region is
watered by the South Fork of the Platte and its affluents, and, though
subject to the grasshopper pest, it produces wheat of the finest
quality, the yield varying according to the mode of cultivation from
eighteen to thirty bushels per acre.  The necessity for irrigation,
however, will always bar the way to an indefinite extension of the area
of arable farms.  The prospects of cattle-raising seem at present
practically unlimited.  In 1876 Colorado had 390,728, valued at L2:13s.
per head, about half of which were imported as young beasts from Texas.
The climate is so fine and the pasturage so ample that shelter and
hand-feeding are never resorted to except in the case of imported
breeding stock from the Eastern States, which sometimes in severe
winters need to be fed in sheds for a short time.  Mr. Perry devotes
himself mainly to the breeding of graded shorthorn bulls, which he
sells when young for L6 per head.

The cattle run at large upon the prairies; each animal being branded,
they need no herding, and are usually only mustered, counted, and the
increase branded in the summer.  In the fall, when three or four years
old, they are sold lean or in tolerable condition to dealers who take
them by rail to Chicago, or elsewhere, where the fattest lots are
slaughtered for tinning or for consumption in the Eastern cities, while
the leaner are sold to farmers for feeding up during the winter.  Some
of the wealthier stockmen take their best lots to Chicago themselves.
The Colorado cattle are either pure Texan or Spanish, or crosses
between the Texan and graded shorthorns.  They are nearly all very
inferior animals, being bony and ragged.  The herds mix on the vast
plains at will; along the Arkansas valley 80,000 roam about with the
freedom of buffaloes, and of this number about 16,000 are exported
every fall.  Where cattle are killed for use in the mining districts
their average price is three cents per lb.  In the summer thousands of
yearlings are driven up from Texas, branded, and turned loose on the
prairies, and are not molested again till they are sent east at three
or four years old.  These pure Texans, the old Spanish breed, weigh
from 900 to 1,000 pounds, and the crossed Colorado cattle from 1,000 to
1,200 pounds.

The "Cattle King" of the State is Mr. Iliff, of South Platte, who owns
nine ranches, with runs of 15,000 acres, and 35,000 cattle.  He is
improving his stock; and, indeed, the opening of the dead-meat trade
with this country is giving a great impetus to the improvement of the
breed of cattle among all the larger and richer stock-owners.  For this
enormous herd 40 men are employed in summer, about 12 in winter, and
200 horses.  In the rare case of a severe and protracted snowstorm the
cattle get a little hay.  Owners of 6,000, 8,000 and 10,000 head of
cattle are quite common in Colorado.  Sheep are now raised in the State
to the extent of half a million, and a chronic feud prevails between
the "sheep men" and the "cattle men."  Sheep-raising is said to be a
very profitable business, but its risks and losses are greater, owing
to storms, while the outlay for labor, dipping materials, etc., is
considerably larger, and owing to the comparative inability of sheep to
scratch away the snow from the grass, hay has to be provided to meet
the emergency of very severe snow-storms.  The flocks are made up
mostly of pure and graded Mexicans; but though some flocks which have
been graded carefully for some years show considerable merit, the
average sheep is a leggy, ragged beast.  Wether mutton, four and five
years old, is sold when there is any demand for it; but except at
Charpiot's, in Denver, I never saw mutton on any table, public or
private, and wool is the great source of profit, the old ewes being
allowed to die off.  The best flocks yield an average of seven pounds.
The shearing season, which begins in early June, lasts about six weeks.
Shearers get six and a half cents a head for inferior sheep, and seven
and a half cents for the better quality, and a good hand shears from
sixty to eighty in a day.  It is not likely that sheep-raising will
attain anything of the prominence which cattle-raising is likely to
assume.  The potato beetle "scare" is not of much account in the
country of the potato beetle.  The farmers seem much depressed by the
magnitude and persistency of the grasshopper pest which finds their
fields in the morning "as the garden of Eden," and leaves them at night
"a desolate wilderness."

It was so odd and novel to have a beautiful bed room, hot water, and
other luxuries.  The snow began to fall in good earnest at six in the
evening, and fell all night, accompanied by intense frost, so that in
the morning there were eight inches of it glittering in the sun.  Miss
P. gave me a pair of men's socks to draw on over my boots, and I set
out tolerably early, and broke my own way for two miles.  Then a single
wagon had passed, making a legible track for thirty miles, otherwise
the snow was pathless.  The sky was absolutely cloudless, and as I made
the long ascent of the Arkansas Divide, the mountains, gashed by deep
canyons, came sweeping down to the valley on my right, and on my left
the Foot Hills were crowned with colored fantastic rocks like castles.
Everything was buried under a glittering shroud of snow.  The babble of
the streams was bound by fetters of ice.  No branches creaked in the
still air.  No birds sang.  No one passed or met me.  There were no
cabins near or far.  The only sound was the crunch of the snow under
Birdie's feet.  We came to a river over which some logs were laid with
some young trees across them.  Birdie put one foot on this, then drew
it back and put another on, then smelt the bridge noisily.  Persuasions
were useless; she only smelt, snorted, held back, and turned her
cunning head and looked at me.  It was useless to argue the point with
so sagacious a beast.  To the right of the bridge the ice was much
broken, and we forded the river there; but as it was deep enough to
come up to her body, and was icy cold to my feet, I wondered at her
preference.  Afterwards I heard that the bridge was dangerous.  She is
the queen of ponies, and is very gentle, though she has not only wild
horse blood, but is herself the wild horse.  She is always cheerful and
hungry, never tired, looks intelligently at everything, and her legs
are like rocks.  Her one trick is that when the saddle is put on she
swells herself to a very large size, so that if any one not accustomed
to her saddles her I soon find the girth three or four inches too
large.  When I saddle her a gentle slap on her side, or any slight
start which makes her cease to hold her breath, puts it all right.  She
is quite a companion, and bathing her back, sponging her nostrils, and
seeing her fed after my day's ride, is always my first care.

At last I reached a log cabin where I got a feed for us both and
further directions.  The rest of the day's ride was awful enough.  The
snow was thirteen inches deep, and grew deeper as I ascended in silence
and loneliness, but just as the sun sank behind a snowy peak I reached
the top of the Divide, 7,975 feet above the sea level.  There, in
unspeakable solitude, lay a frozen lake.  Owls hooted among the pines,
the trail was obscure, the country was not settled, the mercury was 9
degrees below zero, my feet had lost all sensation, and one of them was
frozen to the wooden stirrup.  I found that owing to the depth of the
snow I had only ridden fifteen miles in eight and a half hours, and
must look about for a place to sleep in.  The eastern sky was unlike
anything I ever saw before.  It had been chrysoprase, then it turned to
aquamarine, and that to the bright full green of an emerald.  Unless I
am color-blind, this is true.  Then suddenly the whole changed, and
flushed with the pure, bright, rose color of the afterglow.  Birdie was
sliding at every step, and I was nearly paralyzed with the cold when I
reached a cabin which had been mentioned to me, but they said that
seventeen snow-bound men were lying on the floor, and they advised me
to ride half a mile farther, which I did, and reached the house of a
German from Eisenau, with a sweet young wife and a venerable
mother-in-law.  Though the house was very poor, it was made attractive
by ornaments, and the simple, loving, German ways gave it a sweet home
atmosphere.  My room was reached by a ladder, but I had it to myself
and had the luxury of a basin to wash in.  Under the kindly treatment
of the two women my feet came to themselves, but with an amount of pain
that almost deserved the name of torture.

The next morning was gray and sour, but brightened and warmed as the
day went on.  After riding twelve miles I got bread and milk for myself
and a feed for Birdie at a large house where there were eight boarders,
each one looking nearer the grave than the other, and on remounting was
directed to leave the main road and diverge through Monument Park, a
ride of twelve miles among fantastic rocks, but I lost my way, and came
to an end of all tracks in a wild canyon.  Returning about six miles, I
took another track, and rode about eight miles without seeing a
creature.  I then came to strange gorges with wonderful upright rocks
of all shapes and colors, and turning through a gate of rock, came upon
what I knew must be Glen Eyrie, as wild and romantic a glen as
imagination ever pictured.  The track then passed down a valley close
under some ghastly peaks, wild, cold, awe-inspiring scenery.  After
fording a creek several times, I came upon a decayed-looking cluster of
houses bearing the arrogant name of Colorado City, and two miles
farther on, from the top of one of the Foot Hill ridges, I saw the
bleak-looking scattered houses of the ambitious watering place of
Colorado Springs, the goal of my journey of 150 miles.  I got off, put
on a long skirt, and rode sidewise, though the settlement scarcely
looked like a place where any deference to prejudices was necessary.  A
queer embryo-looking place it is, out on the bare Plains, yet it is
rising and likely to rise, and has some big hotels much resorted to.
It has a fine view of the mountains, specially of Pike's Peak, but the
celebrated springs are at Manitou, three miles off, in really fine
scenery.  To me no place could be more unattractive than Colorado
Springs, from its utter treelessness.

I found the -----s living in a small room which served for parlor,
bedroom, and kitchen, and combined the comforts of all.  It is
inhabited also by two prairie dogs, a kitten, and a deerhound.  It was
truly homelike.  Mrs. ----- walked with me to the boarding-house where
I slept, and we sat some time in the parlor talking with the landlady.
Opposite to me there was a door wide open into a bed room, and on a bed
opposite to the door a very sick-looking young man was half-lying,
half-sitting, fully dressed, supported by another, and a very
sick-looking young man much resembling him passed in and out
occasionally, or leaned on the chimney piece in an attitude of extreme
dejection.  Soon the door was half-closed, and some one came to it,
saying rapidly, "Shields, quick, a candle!" and then there were movings
about in the room.  All this time the seven or eight people in the room
in which I was were talking, laughing, and playing backgammon, and none
laughed louder than the landlady, who was sitting where she saw that
mysterious door as plainly as I did.  All this time, and during the
movings in the room, I saw two large white feet sticking up at the end
of the bed.  I watched and watched, hoping those feet would move, but
they did not; and somehow, to my thinking, they grew stiffer and
whiter, and then my horrible suspicion deepened, and while we were
sitting there a human spirit untended and desolate had passed forth
into the night.  Then a man came out with a bundle of clothes, and then
the sick young man, groaning and sobbing, and then a third, who said to
me, with some feeling, that the man who had just died was the sick
young man's only brother.  And still the landlady laughed and talked,
and afterwards said to me, "It turns the house upside down when they
just come here and die; we shall be half the night laying him out."  I
could not sleep for the bitter cold and the sound of the sobs and
groans of the bereaved brother.  The next day the landlady, in a
fashionably-made black dress, was bustling about, proud of the
prospective arrival of a handsome coffin.  I went into the parlor to
get a needle, and the door of THAT room was open, and children were
running in and out, and the landlady, who was sweeping there, called
cheerily to me to come in for the needle, and there, to my horror, not
even covered with a face cloth, and with the sun blazing in through the
unblinded window, lay that thing of terror, a corpse, on some chairs
which were not even placed straight.  It was buried in the afternoon,
and from the looks of the brother, who continued to sob and moan, his
end cannot be far off.

The -----s say that many go to the Springs in the last stage of
consumption, thinking that the Colorado climate will cure them, without
money enough to pay for even the coarsest board.  We talked most of
that day, and I equipped myself with arctics and warm gloves for the
mountain tour which has been planned for me, and I gave Birdie the
Sabbath she was entitled to on Tuesday, for I found, on arriving at the
Springs, that the day I crossed the Arkansas Divide was Sunday, though
I did not know it.  Several friends of Miss Kingsley called on me; she
is much remembered and beloved.  This is not an expensive tour; we cost
about ten shillings a day, and the five days which I have spent en
route from Denver have cost something less than the fare for the few
hours' journey by the cars.  There are no real difficulties.  It is a
splendid life for health and enjoyment.  All my luggage being in a
pack, and my conveyance being a horse, we can go anywhere where we can
get food and shelter.


GREAT GORGE OF THE MANITOU, October 29.

This is a highly picturesque place, with several springs, still and
effervescing, the virtues of which were well known to the Indians.
Near it are places, the names of which are familiar to every one--the
Garden of the Gods, Glen Eyrie, Pike's Peak, Monument Park, and the Ute
Pass.  It has two or three immense hotels, and a few houses
picturesquely situated.  It is thronged by thousands of people in the
summer who come to drink the waters, try the camp cure, and make
mountain excursions; but it is all quiet now, and there are only a few
lingerers in this immense hotel.  There is a rushing torrent in a
valley, with mountains, covered with snow and rising to a height of
nearly 15,000 feet, overhanging it.  It is grand and awful, and has a
strange, solemn beauty like death.  And the Snowy Mountains are pierced
by the torrent which has excavated the Ute Pass, by which, to-morrow, I
hope to go into the higher regions.  But all may be "lost for want of a
horseshoe nail."  One of Birdie's shoes is loose, and not a nail is to
be got here, or can be got till I have ridden for ten miles up the
Pass.  Birdie amuses every one with her funny ways.  She always follows
me closely, and to-day got quite into a house and pushed the parlor
door open.  She walks after me with her head laid on my shoulder,
licking my face and teasing me for sugar, and sometimes, when any one
else takes hold of her, she rears and kicks, and the vicious bronco
soul comes into her eyes.  Her face is cunning and pretty, and she
makes a funny, blarneying noise when I go up to her.  The men at all
the stables make a fuss with her, and call her "Pet." She gallops up
and down hill, and never stumbles even on the roughest ground, or
requires even a touch with a whip.

The weather is again perfect, with a cloudless sky and a hot sun, and
the snow is all off the plains and lower valleys.  After lunch, the
-----s in a buggy, and I on Birdie, left Colorado Springs, crossing the
Mesa, a high hill with a table top, with a view of extraordinary
laminated rocks, LEAVES of rock a bright vermilion color, against a
background of snowy mountains, surmounted by Pike's Peak.  Then we
plunged into cavernous Glen Eyrie, with its fantastic needles of
colored rock, and were entertained at General Palmer's "baronial
mansion," a perfect eyrie, the fine hall filled with buffalo, elk, and
deer heads, skins of wild animals, stuffed birds, bear robes, and
numerous Indian and other weapons and trophies.  Then through a gate of
huge red rocks, we passed into the valley, called fantastically, Garden
of the Gods, in which, were I a divinity, I certainly would not choose
to dwell.  Many places in this neighborhood are also vulgarized by
grotesque names.  From this we passed into a ravine, down which the
Fountain River rushed, and there I left my friends with regret, and
rode into this chill and solemn gorge, from which the mountains,
reddening in the sunset, are only seen afar off.  I put Birdie up at a
stable, and as there was no place to put myself up but this huge hotel,
I came here to have a last taste of luxury.  They charge six dollars a
day in the season, but it is now half-price; and instead of four
hundred fashionable guests there are only fifteen, most of whom are
speaking in the weak, rapid accents of consumption, and are coughing
their hearts out.  There are seven medicinal springs.  It is strange to
have the luxuries of life in my room.  It will be only the fourth night
in Colorado that I have slept on anything better than hay or straw.  I
am glad that there are so few inns.  As it is, I get a good deal of
insight into the homes and modes of living of the settlers.


BERGENS PARK, October 31.

This cabin was so dark, and I so sleepy last night, that I could not
write; but the frost during the night has been very severe, and I am
detained until the bright, hot sun melts the ice and renders traveling
safe.  I left the great Manitou at ten yesterday.  Birdie, who was
loose in the stable, came trotting down the middle of it when she saw
me for her sugar and biscuits.  No nails could be got, and her shoe was
hanging by two, which doomed me to a foot's pace and the dismal clink
of a loose shoe for three hours.  There was not a cloud on the bright
blue sky the whole day, and though it froze hard in the shade, it was
summer heat in the sun.  The mineral fountains were sparkling in their
basins and sending up their full perennial jets but the snow-clad,
pine-skirted mountains frowned and darkened over the Ute Pass as I
entered it to ascend it for twenty miles.  A narrow pass it is, with
barely room for the torrent and the wagon road which has been blasted
out of its steep sides.  All the time I was in sight of the Fountain
River, brighter than any stream, because it tumbles over rose-red
granite, rocky or disintegrated, a truly fair stream, cutting and
forcing its way through hard rocks, under arches of alabaster ice,
through fringes of crystalline ice, thumping with a hollow sound in
cavernous recesses cold and dark, or leaping in foam from heights with
rush and swish; always bright and riotous, never pausing in still pools
to rest, dashing through gates of rock, pine hung, pine bridged, pine
buried; twinkling and laughing in the sunshine, or frowning in "dowie
dens" in the blue pine gloom. And there, for a mile or two in a
sheltered spot, owing to the more southern latitude, the everlasting
northern pine met the trees of other climates.  There were dwarf oaks,
willows, hazel, and spruce; the white cedar and the trailing juniper
jostled each other for a precarious foothold; the majestic redwood tree
of the Pacific met the exquisite balsam pine of the Atlantic slopes,
and among them all the pale gold foliage of the large aspen trembled
(as the legend goes) in endless remorse.  And above them towered the
toothy peaks of the glittering mountains, rising in pure white against
the sunny blue.  Grand! glorious! sublime! but not lovable.  I would
give all for the luxurious redundance of one Hilo gulch, or for one day
of those soft dreamy "skies whose very tears are balm."


Bergens Park

Up ever! the road being blasted out of the red rock which often
overhung it, the canyon only from fifteen to twenty feet wide, the
thunder of the Fountain, which is crossed eight times, nearly
deafening.  Sometimes the sun struck the road, and then it was
absolutely hot; then one entered unsunned gorges where the snow lay
deep, and the crowded pines made dark twilight, and the river roared
under ice bridges fringed by icicles.  At last the Pass opened out upon
a sunlit upland park, where there was a forge, and with Birdie's shoe
put on, and some shoe nails in my purse, I rode on cheerfully, getting
food for us both at a ranch belonging to some very pleasant people,
who, like all Western folk, when they are not taciturn, asked a legion
of questions.  There I met a Colonel Kittridge, who said that he
believed his valley, twelve miles off the track, to be the loveliest
valley in Colorado, and invited me to his house.  Leaving the road, I
went up a long ascent deep in snow, but as it did not seem to be the
way, I tied up the pony, and walked on to a cabin at some distance,
which I had hardly reached when I found her trotting like a dog by my
side, pulling my sleeve and laying her soft gray nose on my shoulder.
Does it all mean sugar?  We had eight miles farther to go--most of the
way through a forest, which I always dislike when alone, from the fear
of being frightened by something which may appear from behind a tree.
I saw a beautiful white fox, several skunks, some chipmunks and gray
squirrels, owls, crows, and crested blue-jays.  As the sun was getting
low I reached Bergens Park, which was to put me out of conceit with
Estes Park.  Never!  It is long and featureless, and its immediate
surroundings are mean.  It reminded me in itself of some dismal
Highland strath--Glenshee, possibly.  I looked at it with special
interest, as it was the place at which Miss Kingsley had suggested that
I might remain.  The evening was glorious, and the distant views were
very fine.  A stream fringed with cotton-wood runs through the park;
low ranges come down upon it.  The south end is completely closed up,
but at a considerable distance, by the great mass of Pike's Peak, while
far beyond the other end are peaks and towers, wonderful in blue and
violet in the lovely evening, and beyond these, sharply defined against
the clear green sky, was the serrated ridge of the Snowy Range, said to
be 200 miles away.  Bergens Park had been bought by Dr. Bell, of
London, but its present occupant is Mr. Thornton, an English gentleman,
who has a worthy married Englishman as his manager.  Mr. Thornton is
building a good house, and purposes to build other cabins, with the
intention of making the park a resort for strangers.  I thought of the
blue hollow lying solitary at the foot of Long's Peak, and rejoiced
that I had "happened into it."

The cabin is long, low, mud roofed, and very dark.  The middle place is
full of raw meat, fowls, and gear.  One end, almost dark, contains the
cooking-stove, milk, crockery, a long deal table, two benches, and some
wooden stools; the other end houses the English manager or partner, his
wife, and three children, another cooking-stove, gear of all kinds, and
sacks of beans and flour.  They put up a sheet for a partition, and
made me a shake-down on the gravel floor of this room.  Ten hired men
sat down to meals with us.  It was all very rough, dark, and
comfortless, but Mr. T., who is not only a gentleman by birth, but an
M.A. of Cambridge, seems to like it.  Much in this way (a little
smoother if a lady is in the case) every man must begin life here.
Seven large dogs--three of them with cats upon their backs--are usually
warming themselves at the fire.


TWIN ROCK, SOUTH FORK OF THE PLATTE, November 1.

I did not leave Mr. Thornton's till ten, because of the slipperiness.
I rode four miles along a back trail, and then was so tired that I
stayed for two hours at a ranch, where I heard, to my dismay, that I
must ride twenty-four miles farther before I could find any place to
sleep at.  I did not enjoy yesterday's ride.  I was both tired and
rheumatic, and Birdie was not so sprightly as usual.  After starting
again I came on a hideous place, of which I had not heard before,
Hayden's Divide, one of the great back-bones of the region, a weary
expanse of deep snow eleven miles across, and fearfully lonely.  I saw
nothing the whole way but a mule lately dead lying by the road.  I was
very nervous somehow, and towards evening believed that I had lost the
road, for I came upon wild pine forests, with huge masses of rock from
100 to 700 feet high, cast here and there among them; beyond these
pine-sprinkled grass hills; these, in their turn, were bounded by
interminable ranges, ghastly in the lurid evening, with the Spanish
Peaks quite clear, and the colossal summit of Mount Lincoln, the King
of the Rocky Mountains, distinctly visible, though seventy miles away.
It seemed awful to be alone on that ghastly ridge, surrounded by
interminable mountains, in the deep snow, knowing that a party of
thirty had been lost here a month ago.  Just at nightfall the descent
of a steep hill took me out of the forest and upon a clean log cabin,
where, finding that the proper halting place was two miles farther on,
I remained.  A truly pleasing, superior-looking woman placed me in a
rocking chair; would not let me help her otherwise than by rocking the
cradle, and made me "feel at home."  The room, though it serves them
and their two children for kitchen, parlor, and bed room, is the
pattern of brightness, cleanliness, and comfort.  At supper there were
canned raspberries, rolls, butter, tea, venison, and fried rabbit, and
at seven I went to bed in a carpeted log room, with a thick feather bed
on a mattress, sheets, ruffled pillow slips, and a pile of warm white
blankets!  I slept for eleven hours.  They discourage me much about the
route which Governor Hunt has projected for me.  They think that it is
impassable, owing to snow, and that another storm is brewing.


HALL'S GULCH, November 6.

I have ridden 150 miles since I wrote last.  On leaving Twin Rock on
Saturday I had a short day's ride to Colonel Kittridge's cabin at Oil
Creek, where I spent a quiet Sunday with agreeable people.  The ride
was all through parks and gorges, and among pine-clothed hills, about
9,000 feet high, with Pike's Peak always in sight.  I have developed
much sagacity in finding a trail, or I should not be able to make use
of such directions as these: "Keep along a gulch four or five miles
till you get Pike's Peak on your left, then follow some wheel-marks
till you get to some timber, and keep to the north till you come to a
creek, where you'll find a great many elk tracks; then go to your right
and cross the creek three times, then you'll see a red rock to your
left," etc., etc.  The K's cabin was very small and lonely, and the
life seemed a hard grind for an educated and refined woman.  There were
snow flurries after I arrived, but the first Sunday of November was as
bright and warm as June, and the atmosphere had resumed its exquisite
purity.  Three peaks of Pike's Peak are seen from Oil Creek, above the
nearer hills, and by them they tell the time.  We had been in the
evening shadows for half an hour before those peaks ceased to be
transparent gold.

On leaving Colonel Kittridge's hospitable cabin I dismounted, as I had
often done before, to lower a bar, and, on looking round, Birdie was
gone!  I spent an hour in trying to catch her, but she had taken an
"ugly fit," and would not let me go near her; and I was getting tired
and vexed, when two passing trappers, on mules, circumvented and caught
her.  I rode the twelve miles back to Twin Rock, and then went on, a
kindly teamster, who was going in the same direction, taking my pack.
I must explain that every mile I have traveled since leaving Colorado
Springs has taken me farther and higher into the mountains.  That
afternoon I rode through lawnlike upland parks, with the great snow
mass of Pike's Peak behind, and in front mountains bathed in rich
atmospheric coloring of blue and violet, all very fine, but threatening
to become monotonous, when the wagon road turned abruptly to the left,
and crossed a broad, swift, mountain river, the head-waters of the
Platte.  There I found the ranch to which I had been recommended, the
quarters of a great hunter named Link, which much resembled a good
country inn.  There was a pleasant, friendly woman, but the men were
all away, a thing I always regret, as it gives me half an hour's work
at the horse before I can write to you.  I had hardly come in when a
very pleasant German lady, whom I met at Manitou, with three gentlemen,
arrived, and we were as sociable as people could be.  We had a splendid
though rude supper.  While Mrs. Link was serving us, and urging her
good things upon us, she was orating on the greediness of English
people, saying that "you would think they traveled through the country
only to gratify their palates"; and addressed me, asking me if I had
not observed it!  I am nearly always taken for a Dane or a Swede, never
for an Englishwoman, so I often hear a good deal of outspoken criticism.

In the evening Mr. Link returned, and there was a most vehement
discussion between him, an old hunter, a miner, and the teamster who
brought my pack, as to the route by which I should ride through the
mountains for the next three or four days--because at that point I was
to leave the wagon road--and it was renewed with increased violence the
next morning, so that if my nerves had not been of steel I should have
been appalled.  The old hunter acrimoniously said he "must speak the
truth," the miner was directing me over a track where for twenty-five
miles there was not a house, and where, if snow came on, I should never
be heard of again.  The miner said he "must speak the truth," the
hunter was directing me over a pass where there were five feet of snow,
and no trail.  The teamster said that the only road possible for a
horse was so-and-so, and advised me to take the wagon road into South
Park, which I was determined not to do.  Mr. Link said he was the
oldest hunter and settler in the district, and he could not cross any
of the trails in snow.  And so they went on.  At last they partially
agreed on a route--"the worst road in the Rocky Mountains," the old
hunter said, with two feet of snow upon it, but a hunter had hauled an
elk over part of it, at any rate. The upshot of the whole you shall
have in my next letter.

                                   I. L. B.



Letter XI

Tarryall Creek--The Red Range--Excelsior--Importunate pedlars--Snow and
heat--A bison calf--Deep drifts--South Park--The Great Divide--Comanche
Bill--Difficulties--Hall's Gulch--A Lord Dundreary--Ridiculous fears.

HALL'S GULCH, COLORADO, November 6.

It was another cloudless morning, one of the many here on which one
awakes early, refreshed, and ready to enjoy the fatigues of another
day.  In our sunless, misty climate you do not know the influence which
persistent fine weather exercises on the spirits.  I have been ten
months in almost perpetual sunshine, and now a single cloudy day makes
me feel quite depressed.  I did not leave till 9:30, because of the
slipperiness, and shortly after starting turned off into the wilderness
on a very dim trail.  Soon seeing a man riding a mile ahead, I rode on
and overtook him, and we rode eight miles together, which was
convenient to me, as without him I should several times have lost the
trail altogether.  Then his fine American horse, on which he had only
ridden two days, broke down, while my "mad, bad bronco," on which I had
been traveling for a fortnight, cantered lightly over the snow.  He was
the only traveler I saw in a day of nearly twelve hours.  I thoroughly
enjoyed every minute of that ride.  I concentrated all my faculties of
admiration and of locality, for truly the track was a difficult one.  I
sometimes thought it deserved the bad name given to it at Link's.  For
the most part it keeps in sight of Tarryall Creek, one of the large
affluents of the Platte, and is walled in on both sides by mountains,
which are sometimes so close together as to leave only the narrowest
canyon between them, at others breaking wide apart, till, after winding
and climbing up and down for twenty-five miles, it lands one on a
barren rock-girdled park, watered by a rapid fordable stream as broad
as the Ouse at Huntingdon, snow fed and ice fringed, the park bordered
by fantastic rocky hills, snow covered and brightened only by a dwarf
growth of the beautiful silver spruce.  I have not seen anything
hitherto so thoroughly wild and unlike the rest of these parts.

I rode up one great ascent where hills were tumbled about confusedly;
and suddenly across the broad ravine, rising above the sunny grass and
the deep green pines, rose in glowing and shaded red against the
glittering blue heaven a magnificent and unearthly range of mountains,
as shapely as could be seen, rising into colossal points, cleft by deep
blue ravines, broken up into sharks' teeth, with gigantic knobs and
pinnacles rising from their inaccessible sides, very fair to look
upon--a glowing, heavenly, unforgettable sight, and only four miles
off.  Mountains they looked not of this earth, but such as one sees in
dreams alone, the blessed ranges of "the land which is very far off."
They were more brilliant than those incredible colors in which painters
array the fiery hills of Moab and the Desert, and one could not believe
them for ever uninhabited, for on them rose, as in the East, the
similitude of stately fortresses, not the gray castellated towers of
feudal Europe, but gay, massive, Saracenic architecture, the outgrowth
of the solid rock.  They were vast ranges, apparently of enormous
height, their color indescribable, deepest and reddest near the
pine-draped bases, then gradually softening into wonderful tenderness,
till the highest summits rose all flushed, and with an illusion of
transparency, so that one might believe that they were taking on the
hue of sunset.  Below them lay broken ravines of fantastic rocks, cleft
and canyoned by the river, with a tender unearthly light over all, the
apparent warmth of a glowing clime, while I on the north side was in
the shadow among the pure unsullied snow.

  With us the damp, the chill, the gloom;
  With them the sunset's rosy bloom.

The dimness of earth with me, the light of heaven with them.  Here,
again, worship seemed the only attitude for a human spirit, and the
question was ever present, "Lord, what is man, that Thou art mindful of
him; or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?" I rode up and down
hills laboriously in snow-drifts, getting off often to ease my faithful
Birdie by walking down ice-clad slopes, stopping constantly to feast my
eyes upon that changeless glory, always seeing some new ravine, with
its depths of color or miraculous brilliancy of red, or phantasy of
form.  Then below, where the trail was locked into a deep canyon where
there was scarcely room for it and the river, there was a beauty of
another kind in solemn gloom.  There the stream curved and twisted
marvellously, widening into shallows, narrowing into deep boiling
eddies, with pyramidal firs and the beautiful silver spruce fringing
its banks, and often falling across it in artistic grace, the gloom
chill and deep, with only now and then a light trickling through the
pines upon the cold snow, when suddenly turning round I saw behind, as
if in the glory of an eternal sunset, those flaming and fantastic
peaks.  The effect of the combination of winter and summer was
singular.  The trail ran on the north side the whole time, and the snow
lay deep and pure white, while not a wreath of it lay on the south
side, where abundant lawns basked in the warm sun.

The pitch pine, with its monotonous and somewhat rigid form, had
disappeared; the white pine became scarce, both being displayed by the
slim spires and silvery green of the miniature silver spruce.  Valley
and canyon were passed, the flaming ranges were left behind, the upper
altitudes became grim and mysterious.  I crossed a lake on the ice, and
then came on a park surrounded by barren contorted hills, overtopped by
snow mountains.  There, in some brushwood, we crossed a deepish stream
on the ice, which gave way, and the fearful cold of the water stiffened
my limbs for the rest of the ride.  All these streams become bigger as
you draw nearer to their source, and shortly the trail disappeared in a
broad rapid river, which we forded twice.  The trail was very difficult
to recover.  It ascended ever in frost and snow, amidst scanty timber
dwarfed by cold and twisted by storms, amidst solitudes such as one
reads of in the High Alps; there were no sounds to be heard but the
crackle of ice and snow, the pitiful howling of wolves, and the hoot of
owls.  The sun to me had long set; the peaks which had blushed were
pale and sad; the twilight deepened into green; but still "Excelsior!"
There were no happy homes with light of household fires; above, the
spectral mountains lifted their cold summits.  As darkness came on I
began to fear that I had confused the cabin to which I had been
directed with the rocks.  To confess the truth, I was cold, for my
boots and stockings had frozen on my feet, and I was hungry too, having
eaten nothing but raisins for fourteen hours.  After riding thirty
miles I saw a light a little way from the track, and found it to be the
cabin of the daughter of the pleasant people with whom I had spent the
previous night.  Her husband had gone to the Plains, yet she, with two
infant children, was living there in perfect security.  Two pedlars,
who were peddling their way down from the mines, came in for a night's
shelter soon after I arrived--ill-looking fellows enough.  They admired
Birdie in a suspicious fashion, and offered to "swop" their pack horse
for her.  I went out the last thing at night and the first thing in the
morning to see that "the powny" was safe, for they were very
importunate on the subject of the "swop."  I had before been offered
150 dollars for her.  I was obliged to sleep with the mother and
children, and the pedlars occupied a room within ours.  It was hot and
airless. The cabin was papered with the Phrenological Journal, and in
the morning I opened my eyes on the very best portrait of Dr. Candlish
I ever saw, and grieved truly that I should never see that massive brow
and fantastic face again.

Mrs. Link was an educated and very intelligent young woman.  The
pedlars were Irish Yankees, and the way in which they "traded" was as
amusing as "Sam Slick."  They not only wanted to "swop" my pony, but to
"trade" my watch.  They trade their souls, I know.  They displayed
their wares for an hour with much dexterous flattery and
persuasiveness, but Mrs. Link was untemptable, and I was only tempted
into buying a handkerchief to keep the sun off.  There was another
dispute about my route.  It was the most critical day of my journey.
If a snowstorm came on, I might be detained in the mountains for many
weeks; but if I got through the snow and reached the Denver wagon road,
no detention would signify much.  The pedlars insisted that I could not
get through, for the road was not broken.  Mrs. L. thought I could, and
advised me to try, so I saddled Birdie and rode away.

More than half of the day was far from enjoyable.  The morning was
magnificent, but the light too dazzling, the sun too fierce.  As soon
as I got out I felt as if I should drop off the horse.  My large
handkerchief kept the sun from my neck, but the fierce heat caused soul
and sense, brain and eye, to reel.  I never saw or felt the like of it.
I was at a height of 12,000 feet, where, of course, the air was highly
rarefied, and the snow was so pure and dazzling that I was obliged to
keep my eyes shut as much as possible to avoid snow blindness.  The sky
was a different and terribly fierce color; and when I caught a glimpse
of the sun, he was white and unwinking like a lime-ball light, yet
threw off wicked scintillations.  I suffered so from nausea,
exhaustion, and pains from head to foot, that I felt as if I must lie
down in the snow.  It may have been partly the early stage of soroche,
or mountain sickness.  We plodded on for four hours, snow all round,
and nothing else to be seen but an ocean of glistening peaks against
that sky of infuriated blue.  How I found my way I shall never know,
for the only marks on the snow were occasional footprints of a man, and
I had no means of knowing whether they led in the direction I ought to
take.  Earlier, before the snow became so deep, I passed the last great
haunt of the magnificent mountain bison, but, unfortunately, saw
nothing but horns and bones.  Two months ago Mr. Link succeeded in
separating a calf from the herd, and has partially domesticated it.  It
is a very ugly thing at seven months old, with a thick beard, and a
short, thick, dark mane on its heavy shoulders.  It makes a loud grunt
like a pig.  It can outrun their fastest horse, and it sometimes leaps
over the high fence of the corral, and takes all the milk of five cows.

The snow grew seriously deep.  Birdie fell thirty times, I am sure.
She seemed unable to keep up at all, so I was obliged to get off and
stumble along in her footmarks.  By that time my spirit for overcoming
difficulties had somewhat returned, for I saw a lie of country which I
knew must contain South Park, and we had got under cover of a hill
which kept off the sun.  The trail had ceased; it was only one of those
hunter's tracks which continually mislead one.  The getting through the
snow was awful work.  I think we accomplished a mile in something over
two hours.  The snow was two feet eight inches deep, and once we went
down in a drift the surface of which was rippled like sea sand, Birdie
up to her back, and I up to my shoulders!

At last we got through, and I beheld, with some sadness, the goal of my
journey, "The Great Divide," the Snowy Range, and between me and it
South Park, a rolling prairie seventy-five miles long and over 10,000
feet high, treeless, bounded by mountains, and so rich in sun-cured hay
that one might fancy that all the herds of Colorado could find pasture
there.  Its chief center is the rough mining town of Fairplay, but
there are rumors of great mineral wealth in various quarters.  The
region has been "rushed," and mining camps have risen at Alma and
elsewhere, so lawless and brutal that vigilance committees are forming
as a matter of necessity.  South Park is closed, or nearly so, by snow
during an ordinary winter; and just now the great freight wagons are
carrying up the last supplies of the season, and taking down women and
other temporary inhabitants.  A great many people come up here in the
summer.  The rarefied air produces great oppression on the lungs,
accompanied with bleeding.  It is said that you can tell a new arrival
by seeing him go about holding a blood-stained handkerchief to his
mouth.  But I came down upon it from regions of ice and snow; and as
the snow which had fallen on it had all disappeared by evaporation and
drifting, it looked to me quite lowland and livable, though lonely and
indescribably mournful, "a silent sea," suggestive of "the muffled
oar."  I cantered across the narrow end of it, delighted to have got
through the snow; and when I struck the "Denver stage road" I supposed
that all the difficulties of mountain travel were at an end, but this
has not turned out to be exactly the case.

A horseman shortly joined me and rode with me, got me a fresh horse,
and accompanied me for ten miles.  He was a picturesque figure and rode
a very good horse.  He wore a big slouch hat, from under which a number
of fair curls hung nearly to his waist.  His beard was fair, his eyes
blue, and his complexion ruddy.  There was nothing sinister in his
expression, and his manner was respectful and frank.  He was dressed in
a hunter's buckskin suit ornamented with beads, and wore a pair of
exceptionally big brass spurs.  His saddle was very highly ornamented.
What was unusual was the number of weapons he carried.  Besides a rifle
laid across his saddle and a pair of pistols in the holsters, he
carried two revolvers and a knife in his belt, and a carbine slung
behind him.  I found him what is termed "good company."  He told me a
great deal about the country and its wild animals, with some hunting
adventures, and a great deal about Indians and their cruelty and
treachery.  All this time, having crossed South Park, we were ascending
the Continental Divide by what I think is termed the Breckenridge Pass,
on a fairly good wagon road.  We stopped at a cabin, where the woman
seemed to know my companion, and, in addition to bread and milk,
produced some venison steaks.  We rode on again, and reached the crest
of the Divide (see engraving), and saw snow-born streams starting
within a quarter of a mile from each other, one for the Colorado and
the Pacific, the other for the Platte and the Atlantic.  Here I wished
the hunter good-bye, and reluctantly turned north-east.  It was not
wise to go up the Divide at all, and it was necessary to do it in
haste.  On my way down I spoke to the woman at whose cabin I had dined,
and she said, "I am sure you found Comanche Bill a real gentleman"; and
I then knew that, if she gave me correct information, my intelligent,
courteous companion was one of the most notorious desperadoes of the
Rocky Mountains, and the greatest Indian exterminator on the
frontier--a man whose father and family fell in a massacre at Spirit
Lake by the hands of Indians, who carried away his sister, then a child
of eleven.  His life has since been mainly devoted to a search for this
child, and to killing Indians wherever he can find them.

After riding twenty miles, which made the distance for that day fifty,
I remounted Birdie to ride six miles farther, to a house which had been
mentioned to me as a stopping place.  The road ascended to a height of
11,000 feet, and from thence I looked my last at the lonely, uplifted
prairie sea.  "Denver stage road!" The worst, rudest, dismallest,
darkest road I have yet traveled on, nothing but a winding ravine, the
Platte canyon, pine crowded and pine darkened, walled in on both sides
for six miles by pine-skirted mountains 12,000 feet high!  Along this
abyss for fifty miles there are said to be only five houses, and were
it not for miners going down, and freight wagons going up, the solitude
would be awful.  As it was, I did not see a creature.  It was four when
I left South Park, and between those mountain walls and under the pines
it soon became quite dark, a darkness which could be felt.  The snow
which had melted in the sun had re-frozen, and was one sheet of smooth
ice.  Birdie slipped so alarmingly that I got off and walked, but then
neither of us could keep our feet, and in the darkness she seemed so
likely to fall upon me, that I took out of my pack the man's socks
which had been given me at Perry's Park, and drew them on over her
fore-feet--an expedient which for a time succeeded admirably, and which
I commend to all travelers similarly circumstanced.  It was unutterably
dark, and all these operations had to be performed by the sense of
touch only.  I remounted, allowed her to take her own way, as I could
not see even her ears, and though her hind legs slipped badly, we
contrived to get along through the narrowest part of the canyon, with a
tumbling river close to the road.  The pines were very dense, and
sighed and creaked mournfully in the severe frost, and there were other
EERIE noises not easy to explain.  At last, when the socks were nearly
worn out, I saw the blaze of a camp-fire, with two hunters sitting by
it, on the hill side, and at the mouth of a gulch something which
looked like buildings.  We got across the river partly on ice and
partly by fording, and I found that this was the place where, in spite
of its somewhat dubious reputation, I had been told that I could put up.

A man came out in the sapient and good-natured stage of intoxication,
and, the door being opened, I was confronted by a rough bar and a
smoking, blazing kerosene lamp without a chimney.  This is the worst
place I have put up at as to food, lodging, and general character; an
old and very dirty log cabin, not chinked, with one dingy room used for
cooking and feeding, in which a miner was lying very ill of fever; then
a large roofless shed with a canvas side, which is to be an addition,
and then the bar.  They accounted for the disorder by the building
operations.  They asked me if I were the English lady written of in the
Denver News, and for once I was glad that my fame had preceded me, as
it seemed to secure me against being quietly "put out of the way." A
horrible meal was served--dirty, greasy, disgusting.  A celebrated
hunter, Bob Craik, came in to supper with a young man in tow, whom, in
spite of his rough hunter's or miner's dress, I at once recognized as
an English gentleman.  It was their camp-fire which I had seen on the
hill side.  This gentleman was lording it in true caricature fashion,
with a Lord Dundreary drawl and a general execration of everything;
while I sat in the chimney corner, speculating on the reason why many
of the upper class of my countrymen--"High Toners," as they are called
out here--make themselves so ludicrously absurd.  They neither know how
to hold their tongues or to carry their personal pretensions.  An
American is nationally assumptive, an Englishman personally so.  He
took no notice of me till something passed which showed him I was
English, when his manner at once changed into courtesy, and his drawl
was shortened by a half.  He took pains to let me know that he was an
officer in the Guards, of good family, on four months' leave, which he
was spending in slaying buffalo and elk, and also that he had a
profound contempt for everything American.  I cannot think why
Englishmen put on these broad, mouthing tones, and give so many
personal details.  They retired to their camp, and the landlord having
passed into the sodden, sleepy stage of drunkenness, his wife asked if
I should be afraid to sleep in the large canvas-sided, unceiled,
doorless shed, as they could not move the sick miner.  So, I slept
there on a shake-down, with the stars winking overhead through the
roof, and the mercury showing 30 degrees of frost.

I never told you that I once gave an unwary promise that I would not
travel alone in Colorado unarmed, and that in consequence I left Estes
Park with a Sharp's revolver loaded with ball cartridge in my pocket,
which has been the plague of my life.  Its bright ominous barrel peeped
out in quiet Denver shops, children pulled it out to play with, or when
my riding dress hung up with it in the pocket, pulled the whole from
the peg to the floor; and I cannot conceive of any circumstances in
which I could feel it right to make any use of it, or in which it could
do me any possible good.  Last night, however, I took it out, cleaned
and oiled it, and laid it under my pillow, resolving to keep awake all
night. I slept as soon as I lay down, and never woke till the bright
morning sun shone through the roof, making me ridicule my own fears and
abjure pistols for ever.

                                              I. L. B.



Letter XII

Deer Valley--Lynch law--Vigilance committees--The silver spruce--Taste
and abstinence--The whisky fiend--Smartness--Turkey creek Canyon--The
Indian problem--Public rascality--Friendly meetings--The way to the
Golden City--A rising settlement--Clear Creek
Canyon--Staging--Swearing--A mountain town.

DEER VALLEY, November.

To-night I am in a beautiful place like a Dutch farm--large, warm,
bright, clean, with abundance of clean food, and a clean, cold little
bedroom to myself.  But it is very hard to write, for two free-tongued,
noisy Irish women, who keep a miners' boarding-house in South Park, and
are going to winter quarters in a freight wagon, are telling the most
fearful stories of violence, vigilance committees, Lynch law, and
"stringing," that I ever heard.  It turns one's blood cold only to
think that where I travel in perfect security, only a short time ago
men were being shot like skunks.  At the mining towns up above this
nobody is thought anything of who has not killed a man--i.e. in a
certain set.  These women had a boarder, only fifteen, who thought he
could not be anything till he had shot somebody, and they gave an
absurd account of the lad dodging about with a revolver, and not
getting up courage enough to insult any one, till at last he hid
himself in the stable and shot the first Chinaman who entered.  Things
up there are just in that initial state which desperadoes love.  A man
accidentally shoves another in a saloon, or says a rough word at meals,
and the challenge, "first finger on the trigger," warrants either in
shooting the other at any subsequent time without the formality of a
duel.  Nearly all the shooting affrays arise from the most trivial
causes in saloons and bar-rooms.  The deeper quarrels, arising from
jealousy or revenge, are few, and are usually about some woman not
worth fighting for.  At Alma and Fairplay vigilance committees have
been lately formed, and when men act outrageously and make themselves
generally obnoxious they receive a letter with a drawing of a tree, a
man hanging from it, and a coffin below, on which is written
"Forewarned."  They "git" in a few hours.

When I said I spent last night at Hall's Gulch there was quite a chorus
of exclamations.  My host there, they all said, would be "strung"
before long.  Did I know that a man was "strung" there yesterday?  Had
I not seen him hanging?  He was on the big tree by the house, they
said.  Certainly, had I known what a ghastly burden that tree bore, I
would have encountered the ice and gloom of the gulch rather than have
slept there.  They then told me a horrid tale of crime and violence.
This man had even shocked the morals of the Alma crowd, and had a
notice served on him by the vigilants, which had the desired effect,
and he migrated to Hall's Gulch.  As the tale runs, the Hall's Gulch
miners were resolved either not to have a groggery or to limit the
number of such places, and when this ruffian set one up he was
"forewarned."  It seems, however, to have been merely a pretext for
getting rid of him, for it was hardly a crime of which even Lynch law
could take cognizance.  He was overpowered by numbers, and, with
circumstances of great horror, was tried and strung on that tree within
an hour.[19]

[19] Public opinion approved this execution, regarding it as a fitting
retribution for a series of crimes.


I left the place this morning at ten, and have had a very pleasant day,
for the hills shut out the hot sun.  I only rode twenty-two miles, for
the difficulty of riding on ice was great, and there is no blacksmith
within thirty-five miles of Hall's Gulch.  I met two freighters just
after I left, who gave me the unwelcome news that there were
thirty-miles of ice between that and Denver.  "You'll have a tough
trip," they said.  The road runs up and down hill, walled in along with
a rushing river by high mountains.  The scenery is very grand, but I
hate being shut into these deep gorges, and always expect to see some
startling object moving among the trees.  I met no one the whole day
after passing the teams except two men with a "pack-jack," Birdie hates
jacks, and rears and shies as soon as she sees one.  It was a bad road,
one shelving sheet of ice, and awfully lonely, and between the peril of
the mare breaking her leg on the ice and that of being crushed by
windfalls of timber, I had to look out all day.  Towards sunset I came
to a cabin where they "keep travelers," but the woman looked so vinegar
faced that I preferred to ride four miles farther, up a beautiful road
winding along a sunny gulch filled with silver spruce, bluer and more
silvery than any I have yet seen, and then crossed a divide, from which
the view in all the ecstasy of sunset color was perfectly glorious.  It
was enjoyment also in itself to get out of the deep chasm in which I
had been immured all day.  There is a train of twelve freight wagons
here, each wagon with six horses, but the teamsters carry their own
camping blankets and sleep either in their wagons or on the floor, so
the house is not crowded.

It is a pleasant two-story log house, not only chinked but lined with
planed timber.  Each room has a great open chimney with logs burning in
it; there are pretty engravings on the walls, and baskets full of
creepers hanging from the ceiling.  This is the first settler's house I
have been in in which the ornamental has had any place.  There is a
door to each room, the oak chairs are bright with rubbing, and the
floor, though unplaned, is so clean that one might eat off it.  The
table is clean and abundant, and the mother and daughter, though they
do all the work, look as trim as if they did none, and actually laugh
heartily.  The ranchman neither allows drink to be brought into the
house nor to be drunk outside, and on this condition only he "keeps
travelers."  The freighters come in to supper quite well washed, and
though twelve of them slept in the kitchen, by nine o'clock there was
not a sound.  This freighting business is most profitable.  I think
that the charge is three cents per pound from Denver to South Park, and
there much of the freight is transferred to "pack-jacks" and carried up
to the mines.  A railroad, however, is contemplated.  I breakfasted
with the family after the freight train left, and instead of sitting
down to gobble up the remains of a meal, they had a fresh table-cloth
and hot food.  The buckets are all polished oak, with polished brass
bands; the kitchen utensils are bright as rubbing can make them; and,
more wonderful still, the girls black their boots.  Blacking usually is
an unused luxury, and frequently is not kept in houses.  My boots have
only been blacked once during the last two months.


DENVER, November 9.

I could not make out whether the superiority of the Deer Valley
settlers extended beyond material things, but a teamster I met in the
evening said it "made him more of a man to spend a night in such a
house."  In Colorado whisky is significant of all evil and violence and
is the cause of most of the shooting affrays in the mining camps.
There are few moderate drinkers; it is seldom taken except to excess.
The great local question in the Territory, and just now the great
electoral issue, is drink or no drink, and some of the papers are
openly advocating a prohibitive liquor law.  Some of the districts,
such as Greeley, in which liquor is prohibited, are without crime, and
in several of the stock-raising and agricultural regions through which
I have traveled where it is practically excluded the doors are never
locked, and the miners leave their silver bricks in their wagons
unprotected at night.  People say that on coming from the Eastern
States they hardly realize at first the security in which they live.
There is no danger and no fear.  But the truth of the proverbial
saying, "There is no God west of the Missouri" is everywhere manifest.
The "almighty dollar" is the true divinity, and its worship is
universal.  "Smartness" is the quality thought most of.  The boy who
"gets on" by cheating at his lessons is praised for being a "smart
boy," and his satisfied parents foretell that he will make a "smart
man."  A man who overreaches his neighbor, but who does it so cleverly
that the law cannot take hold of him, wins an envied reputation as a
"smart man," and stories of this species of smartness are told
admiringly round every stove.  Smartness is but the initial stage of
swindling, and the clever swindler who evades or defines the weak and
often corruptly administered laws of the States excites unmeasured
admiration among the masses.[20]

[20] May, 1878.--I am copying this letter in the city of San Francisco,
and regretfully add a strong emphasis to what I have written above.
The best and most thoughtful among Americans would endorse these
remarks with shame and pain.--I. L. B.


I left Deer Valley at ten the next morning on a glorious day, with rich
atmospheric coloring, had to spend three hours sitting on a barrel in a
forge after I had ridden twelve miles, waiting while twenty-four oxen
were shod, and then rode on twenty-three miles through streams and
canyons of great beauty till I reached a grocery store, where I had to
share a room with a large family and three teamsters; and being almost
suffocated by the curtain partition, got up at four, before any one was
stirring, saddled Birdie, and rode away in the darkness, leaving my
money on the table!  It was a short eighteen miles' ride to Denver down
the Turkey Creek Canyon, which contains some magnificent scenery, and
then the road ascends and hangs on the ledge of a precipice 600 feet in
depth, such a narrow road that on meeting a wagon I had to dismount for
fear of hurting my feet with the wheels.  From thence there was a
wonderful view through the rolling Foot Hills and over the gray-brown
plains to Denver.  Not a tree or shrub was to be seen, everything was
rioting in summer heat and drought, while behind lay the last grand
canyon of the mountains, dark with pines and cool with snow.  I left
the track and took a short cut over the prairie to Denver, passing
through an encampment of the Ute Indians about 500 strong, a disorderly
and dirty huddle of lodges, ponies, men, squaws, children, skins,
bones, and raw meat.

The Americans will never solve the Indian problem till the Indian is
extinct.  They have treated them after a fashion which has intensified
their treachery and "devilry" as enemies, and as friends reduces them
to a degraded pauperism, devoid of the very first elements of
civilization.  The only difference between the savage and the civilized
Indian is that the latter carries firearms and gets drunk on whisky.
The Indian Agency has been a sink of fraud and corruption; it is said
that barely thirty per cent of the allowance ever reaches those for
whom it is voted; and the complaints of shoddy blankets, damaged flour,
and worthless firearms are universal.  "To get rid of the Injuns" is
the phrase used everywhere.  Even their "reservations" do not escape
seizure practically; for if gold "breaks out" on them they are
"rushed," and their possessors are either compelled to accept land
farther west or are shot off and driven off.  One of the surest agents
in their destruction is vitriolized whisky.  An attempt has recently
been made to cleanse the Augean stable of the Indian Department, but it
has met with signal failure, the usual result in America of every
effort to purify the official atmosphere.  Americans specially love
superlatives.  The phrases "biggest in the world," "finest in the
world," are on all lips.  Unless President Hayes is a strong man they
will soon come to boast that their government is composed of the
"biggest scoundrels" in the world.

As I rode into Denver and away from the mountains the view became
glorious, as range above range crowned with snow came into sight.  I
was sure that three glistening peaks seventy miles north were the
peerless shapeliness of Long's Peak, the king of the Rocky Mountains,
and the "mountain fever" returned so severely that I grudged every hour
spent on the dry, hot plains.  The Range looked lovelier and sublimer
than when I first saw it from Greeley, all spiritualized in the
wonderful atmosphere.  I went direct to Evans's house, where I found a
hearty welcome, as they had been anxious about my safety, and Evans
almost at once arrived from Estes Park with three elk, one grizzly, and
one bighorn in his wagon.  Regarding a place and life one likes (in
spite of all lessons) one is sure to think, "To-morrow shall be as this
day, and much more abundant"; and all through my tour I had thought of
returning to Estes Park and finding everything just as it was.  Evans
brought the unwelcome news that the goodly fellowship was broken up.
The Dewys and Mr. Waller were in Denver, and the house was dismantled,
Mr. and Mrs. Edwards alone remaining, who were, however, expecting me
back.  Saturday, though like a blazing summer day, was wonderful in its
beauty, and after sunset the afterglow was richer and redder than I
have ever seen it, but the heavy crimson betokened severe heat, which
came on yesterday, and was hardly bearable.

I attended service twice at the Episcopal church, where the service was
beautifully read and sung; but in a city in which men preponderate the
congregation was mainly composed of women, who fluttered their fans in
a truly distracting way.  Except for the church-going there were few
perceptible signs of Sunday in Denver, which was full of rowdies from
the mountain mining camps.  You can hardly imagine the delight of
joining in those grand old prayers after so long a deprivation.  The
"Te Deum" sounded heavenly in its magnificence; but the heat was so
tremendous that it was hard to "warstle" through the day.  They say
that they have similar outbreaks of solar fury all through the winter.


GOLDEN CITY, November 13.

Pleasant as Denver was, with the Dewys and so many kind friends there,
it was too much of the "wearying world" either for my health or taste,
and I left for my sixteen miles' ride to this place at four on Monday
afternoon with the sun still hot.  Passing by a bare, desolate-looking
cemetery, I asked a sad-looking woman who was leaning on the gate if
she could direct me to Golden City.  I repeated the question twice
before I got an answer, and then, though easily to be accounted for, it
was wide of the mark.  In most doleful tones she said, "Oh, go to the
minister; I might tell you, may be, but it's too great a
responsibility; go to the ministers, they can tell you!"  And she
returned to her tears for some one whose spirit she was doubtless
thinking of as in the Golden City of our hopes.  That sixteen miles
seemed like one mile, after sunset, in the rapturous freshness of the
Colorado air, and Birdie, after her two days' rest and with a lightened
load, galloped across the prairie as if she enjoyed it.  I did not
reach this gorge till late, and it was an hour after dark before I
groped my way into this dark, unlighted mining town, where, however, we
were most fortunate both as to stable and accommodation for myself.


BOULDER, November 16.

I fear you will grow tired of the details of these journal letters.  To
a person sitting quietly at home, Rocky Mountain traveling, like Rocky
Mountain scenery, must seem very monotonous; but not so to me, to whom
the pure, dry mountain air is the elixir of life.  At Golden City I
parted for a time from my faithful pony, as Clear Creek Canyon, which
leads from it to Idaho, is entirely monopolized by a narrow-gauge
railroad, and is inaccessible for horses or mules.  To be without a
horse in these mountains is to be reduced to complete helplessness.  My
great wish was to see Green Lake, situated near the timber line above
Georgetown (said to be the highest town in the United States), at a
height of 9,000 feet.  A single day took me from the heat of summer
into the intense cold of winter.

Golden City by daylight showed its meanness and belied its name.  It is
ungraded, with here and there a piece of wooden sidewalk, supported on
posts, up to which you ascend by planks.  Brick, pine, and log houses
are huddled together, every other house is a saloon, and hardly a woman
is to be seen.  My landlady apologized for the very exquisite little
bedroom which she gave me by saying "it was not quite as she would like
it, but she had never had a lady in her house before."  The young
"lady" who waited at breakfast said, "I've been thinking about you, and
I'm certain sure you're an authoress."  The day, as usual, was
glorious.  Think of November half through and scarcely even a cloud in
the sky, except the vermilion cloudlets which accompany the sun at his
rising and setting!  They say that winter never "sets in" there in the
Foot Hills, but that there are spells of cold, alternating with bright,
hot weather, and that the snow never lies on the ground so as to
interfere with the feed of cattle.  Golden City rang with oaths and
curses, especially at the depot.  Americans are given over to the most
atrocious swearing, and the blasphemous use of our Savior's name is
peculiarly revolting.

Golden City stands at the mouth of Toughcuss, otherwise Clear Creek
Canyon, which many people think the grandest scenery in the mountains,
as it twists and turns marvellously, and its stupendous sides are
nearly perpendicular, while farther progress is to all appearance
continually blocked by great masses of rock and piles of snow-covered
mountains.  Unfortunately, its sides have been almost entirely denuded
of timber, mining operations consuming any quantity of it.  The
narrow-gauge, steel-grade railroad, which runs up the canyon for the
convenience of the rich mining districts of Georgetown, Black Hawk, and
Central City, is a curiosity of engineering.  The track has partly been
blasted out of the sides of the canyon, and has partly been "built" by
making a bed of stones in the creek itself, and laying the track across
them.  I have never seen such churlishness and incivility as in the
officials of that railroad and the state lines which connect with it,
or met with such preposterous charges.  They have handsome little cars
on the route, but though the passengers paid full fare, they put us
into a baggage car because the season was over, and in order to see
anything I was obliged to sit on the floor at the door.  The singular
grandeur cannot be described.  It is a mere gash cut by the torrent,
twisted, walled, chasmed, weather stained with the most brilliant
coloring, generally dark with shadow, but its utter desolation
occasionally revealed by a beam of intense sunshine.  A few stunted
pines and cedars, spared because of their inaccessiblity, hung here and
there out of the rifts.  Sometimes the walls of the abyss seemed to
meet overhead, and then widening out, the rocks assumed fantastic
forms, all grandeur, sublimity, and almost terror.  After two hours of
this, the track came to an end, and the canyon widened sufficiently for
a road, all stones, holes, and sidings.  There a great "Concord coach"
waited for us, intended for twenty passengers, and a mountain of
luggage in addition, and the four passengers without any luggage sat on
the seat behind the driver, so that the huge thing bounced and swung
upon the straps on which it was hung so as to recall the worst horrors
of New Zealand staging.  The driver never spoke without an oath, and
though two ladies were passengers, cursed his splendid horses the whole
time.  Formerly, even the most profane men intermitted their profanity
in the presence of women, but they "have changed all that."  Every one
I saw up there seemed in a bad temper.  I suspect that all their "smart
tricks" in mining shares had gone wrong.

The road pursued the canyon to Idaho Springs, a fashionable mountain
resort in the summer, but deserted now, where we took a superb team of
six horses, with which we attained a height of 10,000 feet, and then a
descent of 1,000 took us into Georgetown, crowded into as remarkable a
gorge as was ever selected for the site of a town, the canyon beyond
APPARENTLY terminating in precipitous and inaccessible mountains,
sprinkled with pines up to the timber line, and thinly covered with
snow.  The area on which it is possible to build is so circumcised and
steep, and the unpainted gable-ended houses are so perched here and
there, and the water rushes so impetuously among them, that it reminded
me slightly of a Swiss town.  All the smaller houses are shored up with
young pines on one side, to prevent them from being blown away by the
fierce gusts which sweep the canyon.  It is the only town I have seen
in America to which the epithet picturesque could be applied.  But
truly, seated in that deep hollow in the cold and darkness, it is in a
terrible situation, with the alpine heights towering round it.  I
arrived at three, but its sun had set, and it lay in deep shadow.  In
fact, twilight seemed coming on, and as I had been unable to get my
circular notes cashed at Denver, I had no money to stay over the next
day, and much feared that I should lose Green Lake, the goal of my
journey.  We drove through the narrow, piled-up, irregular street,
crowded with miners standing in groups, or drinking and gaming under
the verandas, to a good hotel declivitously situated, where I at once
inquired if I could get to Green Lake.  The landlord said he thought
not; the snow was very deep, and no one had been up for five weeks, but
for my satisfaction he would send to a stable and inquire.  The amusing
answer came back, "If it's the English lady traveling in the mountains,
she can have a horse, but not any one else."



Letter XIII

The blight of mining--Green Lake--Golden
City--Benighted--Vertigo--Boulder Canyon--Financial straits--A hard
ride--The last cent--A bachelor's home--"Mountain Jim"--A surprise--A
night arrival--Making the best of it--Scanty fare.

BOULDER, November.

The answer regarding a horse (at the end of my former letter) was given
to the landlord outside the hotel, and presently he came in and asked
my name and if I were the lady who had crossed from Link's to South
Park by Tarryall Creek; so news travels fast.  In five minutes the
horse was at the door, with a clumsy two-horned side-saddle, and I
started at once for the upper regions.  It was an exciting ride, much
spiced with apprehension.  The evening shadows had darkened over
Georgetown, and I had 2,000 feet to climb, or give up Green Lake.  I
shall forget many things, but never the awfulness and hugeness of the
scenery.  I went up a steep track by Clear Creek, then a succession of
frozen waterfalls in a widened and then narrowed valley, whose frozen
sides looked 5,000 feet high.  That is the region of enormous mineral
wealth in silver.  There are the "Terrible" and other mines whose
shares you can see quoted daily in the share lists in the Times,
sometimes at cent per cent premium, and then down to 25 discount.

These mines, with their prolonged subterranean workings, their stamping
and crushing mills, and the smelting works which have been established
near them, fill the district with noise, hubbub, and smoke by night and
day; but I had turned altogether aside from them into a still region,
where each miner in solitude was grubbing for himself, and confiding to
none his finds or disappointments.  Agriculture restores and
beautifies, mining destroys and devastates, turning the earth inside
out, making it hideous, and blighting every green thing, as it usually
blights man's heart and soul.  There was mining everywhere along that
grand road, with all its destruction and devastation, its digging,
burrowing, gulching, and sluicing; and up all along the seemingly
inaccessible heights were holes with their roofs log supported, in
which solitary and patient men were selling their lives for treasure.
Down by the stream, all among the icicles, men were sluicing and
washing, and everywhere along the heights were the scars of
hardly-passable trails, too steep even for pack-jacks, leading to the
holes, and down which the miner packs the ore on his back.  Many a
heart has been broken for the few finds which have been made along
those hill sides.  All the ledges are covered with charred stumps, a
picture of desolation, where nature had made everything grand and fair.
But even from all this I turned.  The last miner I saw gave me explicit
directions, and I left the track and struck upwards into the icy
solitudes--sheets of ice at first, then snow, over a foot deep, pure
and powdery, then a very difficult ascent through a pine forest, where
it was nearly dark, the horse tumbling about in deep snowdrifts.  But
the goal was reached, and none too soon.

At a height of nearly 12,000 feet I halted on a steep declivity, and
below me, completely girdled by dense forests of pines, with mountains
red and glorified in the sunset rising above them, was Green Lake,
looking like water, but in reality a sheet of ice two feet thick.  From
the gloom and chill below I had come up into the pure air and sunset
light, and the glory of the unprofaned works of God.  It brought to my
mind the verse, "The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth";
and, as if in commentary upon it, were the hundreds and thousands of
men delving in dark holes in the gloom of the twilight below.

  O earth, so full of dreary noises!
  O men, with wailing in your voices,
  O delved gold, the wailer's heap,
  God strikes a silence through you all,
  He giveth His beloved sleep.


It was something to reach that height and see the far off glory of the
sunset, and by it to be reminded that neither God nor His sun had yet
deserted the world. But the sun was fast going down, and even as I
gazed upon the wonderful vision the glory vanished, and the peaks
became sad and grey.  It was strange to be the only human being at that
glacial altitude, and to descend again through a foot of untrodden snow
and over sloping sheets of ice into the darkness, and to see the hill
sides like a firmament of stars, each showing the place where a
solitary man in his hole was delving for silver.  The view, as long as
I could see it, was quite awful.  It looked as if one could not reach
Georgetown without tumbling down a precipice.  Precipices there were in
plenty along the road, skirted with ice to their verge.  It was the
only ride which required nerve that I have taken in Colorado, and it
was long after dark when I returned from my exploit.

I left Georgetown at eight the next morning on the Idaho stage, in
glorious cold.  In this dry air it is quite warm if there are only a
few degrees of frost.  The sun does not rise in Georgetown till eleven
now; I doubt if it rises there at all in the winter!  After four hours'
fearful bouncing, the baggage car again received us, but this time the
conductor, remarking that he supposed I was just traveling to see the
country, gave me his chair and put it on the platform, so that I had an
excellent view of that truly sublime canyon.  For economy I dined in a
restaurant in Golden City, and at three remounted my trusty Birdie,
intending to arrive here that night.  The adventure I met with is
almost too silly to tell.

When I left Golden City it was a brilliant summer afternoon, and not
too hot.  They could not give any directions at the stable, and told me
to go out on the Denver track till I met some one who could direct me,
which started me off wrong from the first.  After riding about two
miles I met a man who told me I was all wrong, and directed me across
the prairie till I met another, who gave me so many directions that I
forgot them, and was irretrievably lost.  The afterglow, seen to
perfection on the open plain, was wonderful.  Just as it grew dark I
rode after a teamster who said I was then four miles farther from
Boulder than when I left Golden, and directed me to a house seven miles
off.  I suppose he thought I should know, for he told me to cross the
prairie till I came to a place where three tracks are seen, and there
to take the best-traveled one, steering all the time by the north star.
His directions did bring me to tracks, but it was then so dark that I
could see nothing, and soon became so dark that I could not even see
Birdie's ears, and was lost and benighted.  I rode on, hour after hour,
in the darkness and solitude, the prairie all round and a firmament of
frosty stars overhead.  The prairie wolf howled now and then, and
occasionally the lowing of cattle gave me hope of human proximity.  But
there was nothing but the lone wild plain.  You can hardly imagine the
longing to see a light, to hear a voice, the intensely eerie feeling of
being alone in that vast solitude.  It was freezing very sharply and
was very cold, and I was making up my mind to steer all night for the
pole-star, much fearing that I should be brought up by one of the
affluents of the Platte, or that Birdie would tire, when I heard the
undertoned bellowing of a bull, which, from the snorting rooting up of
earth, seemed to be disputing the right of way, and the pony was afraid
to pass.  While she was scuffling about, I heard a dog bark and a man
swear; then I saw a light, and in another minute found myself at a
large house, where I knew the people, only eleven miles from Denver!
It was nearly midnight, and light, warmth, and a good bed were truly
welcome.

You can form no idea of what the glory on the Plains is just before
sunrise.  Like the afterglow, for a great height above the horizon
there is a shaded band of the most intense and glowing orange, while
the mountains which reflect the yet unrisen sun have the purple light
of amethysts.  I left early, but soon lost the track and was lost; but
knowing that a sublime gash in the mountains was Bear Canyon, quite
near Boulder, I struck across the prairie for it, and then found the
Boulder track.  "The best-laid schemes of men and mice gang aft agley,"
and my exploits came to an untimely end to-day.  On arriving here,
instead of going into the mountains, I was obliged to go to bed in
consequence of vertigo, headache, and faintness, produced by the
intense heat of the sun.  In all that weary land there was no "shadow
of a great rock" under which to rest.  The gravelly, baked soil
reflected the fiery sun, and it was nearly maddening to look up at the
cool blue of the mountains, with their stretches of pines and their
deep indigo shadows.  Boulder is a hideous collection of frame houses
on the burning plain, but it aspires to be a "city" in virtue of being
a "distributing point" for the settlements up the Boulder Canyon, and
of the discovery of a coal seam.


LONGMOUNT, November.

I got up very early this morning, and on a hired horse went nine miles
up the Boulder Canyon, which is much extolled, but I was greatly
disappointed with everything except its superb wagon road, and much
disgusted with the laziness of the horse.  A ride of fifteen miles
across the prairie brought me here early in the afternoon, but of the
budget of letters which I expected there is not one.  Birdie looks in
such capital condition that my host here can hardly believe that she
has traveled over 500 miles.  I am feeling "the pinch of poverty"
rather severely.  When I have paid my bill here I shall have exactly
twenty-six cents left.  Evans was quite unable to pay the hundred
dollars which he owed me, and, to save themselves, the Denver banks,
though they remain open, have suspended payment, and would not cash my
circular notes.  The financial straits are very serious, and the
unreasoning panic which has set in makes them worse.  The present state
of matters is--nobody has any money, so nothing is worth anything.  The
result to me is that, nolens volens, I must go up to  Estes Park, where
I can live without ready money, and remain there till things change for
the better.  It does not seem a very hard fate!  Long's Peak rises in
purple gloom, and I long for the cool air and unfettered life of the
solitary blue hollow at its base.


ESTES PARK, November 20.

Would that three notes of admiration were all I need give to my grand,
solitary, uplifted, sublime, remote, beast-haunted lair, which seems
more indescribable than ever; but you will wish to know how I have
sped, and I wish you to know my present singular circumstances.  I left
Longmount at eight on Saturday morning, rather heavily loaded, for in
addition to my own luggage I was asked to carry the mail-bag, which was
heavy with newspapers.  Edwards, with his wife and family, were still
believed to be here.  A heavy snow-storm was expected, and all the
sky--that vast dome which spans the Plains--was overcast; but over the
mountains it was a deep, still, sad blue, into which snowy peaks rose
sunlighted.  It was a lonely, mournful-looking morning, but when I
reached the beautiful canyon of the St. Vrain, the sad blue became
brilliant, and the sun warm and scintillating.  Ah, how beautiful and
incomparable the ride up here is, infinitely more beautiful than the
much-vaunted parts I have seen elsewhere.

There is, first, this beautiful hill-girdled valley of fair savannas,
through which the bright St. Vrain curves in and out amidst a tangle of
cotton-wood and withered clematis and Virginia creeper, which two
months ago made the valley gay with their scarlet and gold.  Then the
canyon, with its fantastically-stained walls; then the long ascent
through sweeping foot hills to the gates of rock at a height of 9,000
feet; then the wildest and most wonderful scenery for twenty miles, in
which you cross thirteen ranges from 9,000 to 11,000 feet high, pass
through countless canyons and gulches, cross thirteen dark fords, and
finally descend, through M'Ginn's Gulch, upon this, the gem of the
Rocky Mountains.  It was a weird ride.  I got on very slowly.  The road
is a hard one for any horse, specially for a heavily-loaded one, and at
the end of several weeks of severe travel.  When I had ridden fifteen
miles I stopped at the ranch where people usually get food, but it was
empty, and the next was also deserted.  So I was compelled to go to the
last house, where two young men are "baching."

There I had to decide between getting a meal for myself or a feed for
the pony; but the young man, on hearing of my sore poverty, trusted me
"till next time."  His house, for order and neatness, and a sort of
sprightliness of cleanliness--the comfort of cleanliness without its
severity--is a pattern to all women, while the clear eyes and manly
self-respect which the habit of total abstinence gives in this country
are a pattern to all men.  He cooked me a splendid dinner, with good
tea.  After dinner I opened the mail-bag, and was delighted to find an
accumulation of letters from you; but I sat much too long there,
forgetting that I had twenty miles to ride, which could hardly be done
in less than six hours.  It was then brilliant.  I had not realized the
magnificence of that ride when I took it before, but the pony was
tired, and I could not hurry her, and the distance seemed interminable,
as after every range I crossed another range.  Then came a region of
deep, dark, densely-wooded gulches, only a few feet wide, and many
fords, and from their cold depths I saw the last sunlight fade from the
brows of precipices 4,000 feet high.  It was eerie, as darkness came
on, to wind in and out in the pine-shadowed gloom, sometimes on ice,
sometimes in snow, at the bottom of these tremendous chasms.  Wolves
howled in all directions.  This is said to denote the approach of a
storm.  During this twenty-mile ride I met a hunter with an elk packed
on his horse, and he told me not only that the Edwardses were at the
cabin yesterday, but that they were going to remain for two weeks
longer, no matter how uncongenial.  The ride did seem endless after
darkness came on.  Finally the last huge range was conquered, the last
deep chasm passed, and with an eeriness which craved for human
companionship, I rode up to "Mountain Jim's" den, but no light shone
through the chinks, and all was silent.  So I rode tediously down
M'Ginn's Gulch, which was full of crackings and other strange mountain
noises, and was pitch dark, though the stars were bright overhead.

Soon I heard the welcome sound of a barking dog.  I supposed it to
denote strange hunters, but calling "Ring" at a venture, the noble
dog's large paws and grand head were in a moment on my saddle, and he
greeted me with all those inarticulate but perfectly comprehensible
noises with which dogs welcome their human friends.  Of the two men on
horses who accompanied him, one was his master, as I knew by the
musical voice and grace of manner, but it was too dark to see anyone,
though he struck a light to show me the valuable furs with which one of
the horses was loaded.  The desperado was heartily glad to see me, and
sending the man and fur-laden horse on to his cabin, he turned with me
to Evans's; and as the cold was very severe, and Birdie was very tired,
we dismounted and walked the remaining three miles.  All my visions of
a comfortable reception and good meal after my long ride vanished with
his first words.  The Edwardses had left for the winter on the previous
morning, but had not passed through Longmount; the cabin was
dismantled, the stores were low, and two young men, Mr. Kavan, a miner,
and Mr. Buchan, whom I was slightly acquainted with before, were
"baching" there to look after the stock until Evans, who was daily
expected, returned.  The other settler and his wife had left the park,
so there was not a woman within twenty-five miles.  A fierce wind had
arisen, and the cold was awful, which seemed to make matters darker.  I
did not care in the least about myself.  I could rough it, and enjoy
doing so, but I was very sorry for the young men, who, I knew, would be
much embarrassed by the sudden appearance of a lady for an indefinite
time.  But the difficulty had to be faced, and I walked in and took
them by surprise as they were sitting smoking by the fire in the living
room, which was dismantled, unswept, and wretched looking.

The young men did not show any annoyance, but exerted themselves to
prepare a meal, and courteously made Jim share it.  After he had gone,
I boldly confessed my impecunious circumstances, and told them that I
must stay there till things changed, that I hoped not to inconvenience
them in any way, and that by dividing the work among us they would be
free to be out hunting.  So we agreed to make the best of it.  (Our
arrangements, which we supposed would last only two or three days,
extended over nearly a month.  Nothing could exceed the courtesy and
good feeling which these young men showed.  It was a very pleasant time
on the whole and when we separated they told me that though they were
much "taken aback" at first, they felt at last that we could get on in
the same way for a year, in which I cordially agreed.) Sundry practical
difficulties had to be faced and overcome.  There was one of the common
spring mattresses of the country in the little room which opened from
the living room, but nothing upon it.  This was remedied by making a
large bag and filling it with hay.  Then there were neither sheets,
towels, nor table-clothes.  This was irremediable, and I never missed
the first or last.  Candles were another loss, and we had only one
paraffin lamp.  I slept all night in spite of a gale which blew all
Sunday and into Monday afternoon, threatening to lift the cabin from
the ground, and actually removing part of the roof from the little room
between the kitchen and living room, in which we used to dine.  Sunday
was brilliant, but nearly a hurricane, and I dared not stir outside the
cabin.  The parlor was two inches deep in the mud from the roof.  We
nominally divide the cooking.  Mr. Kavan makes the best bread I ever
ate; they bring in wood and water, and wash the supper things, and I
"do" my room and the parlor, wash the breakfast things, and number of
etceteras.  My room is easily "done," but the parlor is a never-ending
business.  I have swept shovelfuls of mud out of it three times to-day.
There is nothing to dust it with but a buffalo's tail, and every now
and then a gust descends the open chimney and drives the wood ashes all
over the room.  However, I have found an old shawl which answers for a
table-cloth, and have made our "parlor" look a little more habitable.
Jim came in yesterday in a silent mood, and sat looking vacantly into
the fire.  The young men said that this mood was the usual precursor of
an "ugly fit."

Food is a great difficulty.  Of thirty milch cows only one is left, and
she does not give milk enough for us to drink.  The only meat is some
pickled pork, very salt and hard, which I cannot eat, and the hens lay
less than one egg a day.  Yesterday morning I made some rolls, and made
the last bread into a bread-and-butter pudding, which we all enjoyed.
To-day I found part of a leg of beef hanging in the wagon shed, and we
were elated with the prospect of fresh meat, but on cutting into it we
found it green and uneatable.  Had it not been for some tea which was
bestowed upon me at the inn at Longmount we should have had none.  In
this superb air and physically active life I can eat everything but
pickled pork.  We breakfast about nine, dine at two, and have supper at
seven, but our MENU never varies.

To-day I have been all alone in the park, as the men left to hunt elk
after breakfast, after bringing in wood and water.  The sky is
brilliant and the light intense, or else the solitude would be
oppressive.  I keep two horses in the corral so as to be able to
explore, but except Birdie, who is turned out, none of the animals are
worth much now from want of shoes, and tender feet.



Letter XIV

A dismal ride--A desperado's tale--"Lost! Lost! Lost!"--Winter
glories--Solitude--Hard times--Intense cold--A pack of wolves--The
beaver dams--Ghastly scenes--Venison steaks--Our evenings.

ESTES PARK.

I must attempt to put down the trifling events of each day just as they
occur.  The second time that I was left alone Mr. Nugent came in
looking very black, and asked me to ride with him to see the beaver
dams on the Black Canyon.  No more whistling or singing, or talking to
his beautiful mare, or sparkling repartee.

His mood was as dark as the sky overhead, which was black with an
impending snowstorm.  He was quite silent, struck his horse often,
started off on a furious gallop, and then throwing his mare on her
haunches close to me, said, "You're the first man or woman who's
treated me like a human being for many a year."  So he said in this
dark mood, but Mr. and Mrs. Dewy, who took a very deep interest in his
welfare, always treated him as a rational, intelligent gentleman, and
in his better moments he spoke of them with the warmest appreciation.
"If you want to know," he continued, "how nearly a man can become a
devil, I'll tell you now."  There was no choice, and we rode up the
canyon, and I listened to one of the darkest tales of ruin I have ever
heard or read.

Its early features were very simple.  His father was a British officer
quartered at Montreal, of a good old Irish family.  From his account he
was an ungovernable boy, imperfectly educated, and tyrannizing over a
loving but weak mother.  When seventeen years old he saw a young girl
at church whose appearance he described as being of angelic beauty, and
fell in love with her with all the intensity of an uncontrolled nature.
He saw her three times, but scarcely spoke to her.  On his mother
opposing his wish and treating it as a boyish folly, he took to drink
"to spite her," and almost as soon as he was eighteen, maddened by the
girl's death, he ran away from home, entered the service of the
Hudson's Bay Company, and remained in it for several years, only
leaving it because he found even that lawless life too strict for him.
Then, being as I suppose about twenty-seven, he entered the service of
the United States Government, and became one of the famous Indian
scouts of the Plains, distinguishing himself by some of the most daring
deeds on record, and some of the bloodiest crimes.  Some of these tales
I have heard before, but never so terribly told.  Years must have
passed in that service, till he became a character known through all
the West, and much dreaded for his readiness to take offence, and his
equal readiness with his revolver.  Vain, even in his dark mood, he
told me that he was idolized by women, and that in his worst hours he
was always chivalrous to good women.  He described himself as riding
through camps in his scout's dress with a red scarf round his waist,
and sixteen golden curls, eighteen inches long, hanging over his
shoulders.  The handsome, even superbly handsome, side of his face was
towards me as he spoke.  As a scout and as an armed escort of emigrant
parties he was evidently implicated in all the blood and broil of a
lawless region and period, and went from bad to worse, varying his life
by drunken sprees, which brought nothing but violence and loss.

The narrative seemed to lack some link, for I next found him on a
homestead in Missouri, from whence he came to Colorado a few years ago.
There, again, something was dropped out, but I suspect, and not without
reason, that he joined one or more of those gangs of "border ruffians"
which for so long raided through Kansas, perpetrating such massacres
and outrages as that of the Marais du Cygne.  His fame for violence and
ruffianism preceded him into Colorado, where his knowledge of and love
of the mountains have earned him the sobriquet he now bears.  He has a
squatter's claim and forty head of cattle, and is a successful trapper
besides, but envy and vindictiveness are raging within him.  He gets
money, goes to Denver, and spends large sums in the maddest
dissipation, making himself a terror, and going beyond even such
desperadoes as "Texas Jack" and "Wild Bill"; and when the money is done
returns to his mountain den, full of hatred and self-scorn, till the
next time.  Of course I cannot give details.

The story took three hours to tell, and was crowded with terrific
illustrations of a desperado's career, told with a rush of wild
eloquence that was truly thrilling.

When the snow, which for some time had been falling, compelled him to
break off and guide me to a sheltered place from which I could make my
own way back again, he stopped his horse and said, "Now you see a man
who has made a devil of himself!  Lost!  Lost!  Lost!  I believe in
God.  I've given Him no choice but to put me with 'the devil and his
angel.'  I'm afraid to die. You've stirred the better nature in me too
late.  I can't change.  If ever a man were a slave, I am.  Don't speak
to me of repentance and reformation.  I can't reform. Your voice
reminded me of -----."  Then in feverish tones, "How dare you ride with
me?  You won't speak to me again, will you?"  He made me promise to
keep one or two things secret whether he were living or dead, and I
promised, for I had no choice; but they come between me and the
sunshine sometimes, and I wake at night to think of them.  I wish I had
been spared the regret and excitement of that afternoon.  A less
ungovernable nature would never have spoken as he did, nor told me what
he did; but his proud, fierce soul all poured itself out then, with
hatred and self-loathing, blood on his hands and murder in his heart,
though even then he could not be altogether other than a gentleman, or
altogether divest himself of fascination, even when so tempestuously
revealing the darkest points of his character.  My soul dissolved in
pity for his dark, lost, self-ruined life, as he left me and turned
away in the blinding storm to the Snowy Range, where he said he was
going to camp out for a fortnight; a man of great abilities, real
genius, singular gifts, and with all the chances in life which other
men have had.  How far more terrible than the "Actum est: periisti" of
Cowper is his exclamation, "Lost!  Lost!  Lost!"

The storm was very severe, and the landmarks being blotted out, I lost
my way in the snow, and when I reached the cabin after dark I found it
still empty, for the two hunters, on returning, finding that I had gone
out, had gone in search of me.  The snow cleared off late, and intense
frost set in.  My room is nearly the open air, being built of unchinked
logs, and, as in the open air, one requires to sleep with the head
buried in blankets, or the eyelids and breath freeze.  The sunshine has
been brilliant to-day.  I took a most beautiful ride to Black Canyon to
look for the horses.  Every day some new beauty, or effect of snow and
light, is to be seen.  Nothing that I have seen in Colorado compares
with Estes Park; and now that the weather is magnificent, and the
mountain tops above the pine woods are pure white, there is nothing of
beauty or grandeur for which the heart can wish that is not here; and
it is health giving, with pure air, pure water, and absolute dryness.
But there is something very solemn, at times almost overwhelming, in
the winter solitude.  I have never experienced anything like it even
when I lived on the slopes of Hualalai.  When the men are out hunting I
know not where, or at night, when storms sweep down from Long's Peak,
and the air is full of stinging, tempest-driven snow, and there is
barely a probability of any one coming, or of my communication with the
world at all, then the stupendous mountain ranges which lie between us
and the Plains grow in height till they become impassable barriers, and
the bridgeless rivers grow in depth, and I wonder if all my life is to
be spent here in washing and sweeping and baking.

To-day has been one of manual labor.  We did not breakfast till 9:30,
then the men went out, and I never sat down till two.  I cleaned the
living room and the kitchen, swept a path through the rubbish in the
passage room, washed up, made and baked a batch of rolls and four
pounds of sweet biscuits, cleaned some tins and pans, washed some
clothes, and gave things generally a "redding up."  There is a little
thick buttermilk, fully six weeks old, at the bottom of a churn, which
I use for raising the rolls; but Mr. Kavan, who makes "lovely" bread,
puts some flour and water to turn sour near the stove, and this
succeeds admirably.

I also made a most unsatisfactory investigation into the state of my
apparel.  I came to Colorado now nearly three months ago, with a small
carpet-bag containing clothes, none of them new; and these, by
legitimate wear, the depredations of calves, and the necessity of
tearing some of them up for dish-cloths, are reduced to a single
change!  I have a solitary pocket handkerchief and one pair of
stockings, such a mass of darns that hardly a trace of the original
wool remains.  Owing to my inability to get money in Denver I am almost
without shoes, have nothing but a pair of slippers and some "arctics."
For outer garments--well, I have a trained black silk dress, with a
black silk polonaise! and nothing else but my old flannel riding suit,
which is quite threadbare, and requires such frequent mending that I am
sometimes obliged to "dress" for supper, and patch and darn it during
the evening.  You will laugh, but it is singular that one can face the
bitter winds with the mercury at zero and below it, in exactly the same
clothing which I wore in the tropics!  It is only the extreme dryness
of the air which renders it possible to live in such clothing.  We have
arranged the work better.  Mr. Buchan was doing too much, and it was
hard for him, as he is very delicate.  You will wonder how three people
here in the wilderness can have much to do.  There are the horses which
we keep in the corral to feed on sheaf oats and take to water twice a
day, the fowls and dogs to feed, the cow to milk, the bread to make,
and to keep a general knowledge of the whereabouts of the stock in the
event of a severe snow-storm coming on.  Then there is all the wood to
cut, as there is no wood pile, and we burn a great deal, and besides
the cooking, washing, and mending, which each one does, the men must
hunt and fish for their living.  Then two sick cows have had to be
attended to.

We were with one when it died yesterday.  It suffered terribly, and
looked at us with the pathetically pleading eyes of a creature "made
subject to vanity."  The disposal of its carcass was a difficulty.  The
wagon horses were in Denver, and when we tried to get the others to
pull the dead beast away, they only kicked and plunged, so we managed
to get it outside the shed, and according to Mr. Kavan's prediction, a
pack of wolves came down, and before daylight nothing was left but the
bones.  They were so close to the cabin that their noise was most
disturbing, and on looking out several times I could see them all in a
heap wrangling and tumbling over each other.  They are much larger than
the prairie wolf, but equally cowardly, I believe.  This morning was
black with clouds, and a snowstorm was threatened, and about 700 cattle
and a number of horses came in long files from the valleys and canyons
where they maraud, their instinct teaching them to seek the open and
the protection of man.

I was alone in the cabin this afternoon when Mr. Nugent, whom we
believed to be on the Snowy Range, walked in very pale and haggard
looking, and coughing severely.  He offered to show me the trail up one
of the grandest of the canyons, and I could not refuse to go.  The Fall
River has had its source completely altered by the operations of the
beavers.  Their engineering skill is wonderful.  In one place they have
made a lake by damming up the stream; in another their works have
created an island, and they have made several falls.  Their
storehouses, of course, are carefully concealed.  By this time they are
about full for the winter.  We saw quantities of young cotton-wood and
aspen trees, with stems about as thick as my arm, lying where these
industrious creatures have felled them ready for their use.  They
always work at night and in concert.  Their long, sharp teeth are used
for gnawing down the trees, but their mason-work is done entirely with
their flat, trowel-like tails.  In its natural state the fur is very
durable, and is as full of long black hairs as that of the sable, but
as sold, all these hairs have been plucked out of it.

The canyon was glorious, ah! glorious beyond any other, but it was a
dismal and depressing ride.  The dead past buried its dead.

Not an allusion was made to the conversation previously.  "Jim's"
manner was courteous, but freezing, and when I left home on my return
he said he hardly thought he should be back from the Snowy Range before
I left.  Essentially an actor, was he, I wonder, posing on the previous
day in the attitude of desperate remorse, to impose on my credulity or
frighten me; or was it a genuine and unpremeditated outburst of
passionate regret for the life which he had thrown away?  I cannot
tell, but I think it was the last.  As I cautiously rode back, the
sunset glories were reddening the mountain tops, and the park lay in
violet gloom.  It was wonderfully magnificent, but oh, so solemn, so
lonely!  I rode a very large, well-bred mare, with three shoes loose
and one off, and she fell with me twice and was very clumsy in crossing
the Thompson, which was partly ice and partly a deep ford, but when we
reached comparatively level grassy ground I had a gallop of nearly two
miles which I enjoyed thoroughly, her great swinging stride being so
easy and exhilarating after Birdie's short action.


Friday.

This is a piteous day, quite black, freezing hard, and with a fierce
north-east wind.  The absence of sunshine here, where it is nearly
perpetual, has a very depressing effect, and all the scenery appears in
its grimness of black and gray.  We have lost three horses, including
Birdie, and have nothing to entice them with, and not an animal to go
and drive them in with.  I put my great mare in the corral myself, and
Mr. Kavan put his in afterwards and secured the bars, but the wolves
were holding a carnival again last night, and we think that the horses
were scared and stampeded, as otherwise they would not have leaped the
fence.  The men are losing their whole day in looking for them.  On
their return they said that they had seen Mr. Nugent returning to his
cabin by the other side and the lower ford of the Thompson, and that he
had "an awfully ugly fit on him," so that they were glad that he did
not come near us.  The evening is setting in sublime in its blackness.
Late in the afternoon I caught a horse which was snuffing at the sheaf
oats, and had a splendid gallop on the Longmount trail with the two
great hunting dogs.  In returning, in the grimness of the coming storm,
I had that view of the park which I saw first in the glories of an
autumn sunset.  Life was all dead; the dragon-flies no longer darted in
the sunshine, the cotton-woods had shed their last amber leaves, the
crimson trailers of the wild vines were bare, the stream itself had
ceased its tinkle and was numb in fetters of ice, a few withered flower
stalks only told of the brief bright glory of the summer.  The park
never had looked so utterly walled in; it was fearful in its
loneliness, the ghastliest of white peaks lay sharply outlined against
the black snow clouds, the bright river was ice bound, the pines were
all black, the world was absolutely shut out.  How can you expect me to
write letters from such a place, from a life "in which nothing
happens"?  It really is strange that neither Evans nor Edwards come
back.  The young men are grumbling, for they were asked to stay here
for five days, and they have been here five weeks, and they are anxious
to be away camping out for the hunting, on which they depend.  There
are two calves dying, and we don't know what to do for them; and if a
very severe snow-storm comes on, we can't bring in and feed eight
hundred head of cattle.


Saturday.

The snow began to fall early this morning, and as it is unaccompanied
by wind we have the novel spectacle of a smooth white world; still it
does not look like anything serious.  We have been gradually growing
later at night and later in the morning.  To-day we did not breakfast
till ten.  We have been becoming so disgusted with the pickled pork,
that we were glad to find it just at an end yesterday, even though we
were left without meat for which in this climate the system craves.
You can fancy my surprise, on going into the kitchen, to find a dish of
smoking steaks of venison on the table.  We ate like famished people,
and enjoyed our meal thoroughly.  Just before I came the young men had
shot an elk, which they intended to sell in Denver, and the grand
carcass, with great branching antlers, hung outside the shed.  Often
while vainly trying to swallow some pickled pork I had looked across to
the tantalizing animal, but it was not to be thought of.  However, this
morning, as the young men felt the pinch of hunger even more than I
did, and the prospects of packing it to Denver became worse, they
decided on cutting into one side, so we shall luxuriate in venison
while it lasts.  We think that Edwards will surely be up to-night, but
unless he brings supplies our case is looking serious.  The flour is
running low, there is only coffee for one week, and I have only a
scanty three ounces of tea left.  The baking powder is nearly at an
end.  We have agreed to economize by breakfasting very late, and having
two meals a day instead of three.  The young men went out hunting as
usual, and I went out and found Birdie, and on her brought in four
other horses, but the snow balled so badly that I went out and walked
across the river on a very passable ice bridge, and got some new views
of the unique grandeur of this place.

Our evenings are social and pleasant.  We finish supper about eight,
and make up a huge fire.  The men smoke while I write to you.  Then we
draw near the fire and I take my endless mending, and we talk or read
aloud.  Both are very intelligent, and Mr. Buchan has very extended
information and a good deal of insight into character.  Of course our
circumstances, the likelihood of release, the prospects of snow
blocking us in and of our supplies holding out, the sick calves,
"Jim's" mood, the possible intentions of a man whose footprints we have
found and traced for three miles, are all topics that often recur, and
few of which can be worn threadbare.



Letter XV

A whisky slave--The pleasures of monotony--The mountain lion--"Another
mouth to feed"--A tiresome boy--An outcast--Thanksgiving Day--The
newcomer--A literary humbug--Milking a dry cow--Trout-fishing--A
snow-storm--A desperado's den.

ESTES PARK, Sunday.

A trapper passing last night brought us the news that Mr. Nugent is
ill; so, after washing up the things after our late breakfast, I rode
to his cabin, but I met him in the gulch coming down to see us.  He
said he had caught cold on the Range, and was suffering from an old
arrow wound in the lung.  We had a long conversation without adverting
to the former one, and he told me some of the present circumstances of
his ruined life.  It is piteous that a man like him, in the prime of
life, should be destitute of home and love, and live a life of darkness
in a den with no companions but guilty memories, and a dog which many
people think is the nobler animal of the two.  I urged him to give up
the whisky which at present is his ruin, and his answer had the ring of
a sad truth in it: "I cannot, it binds me hand and foot--I cannot give
up the only pleasure I have."  His ideas of right are the queerest
possible.  He says that he believes in God, but what he knows or
believes of God's law I know not.  To resent insult with your revolver,
to revenge yourself on those who have injured you, to be true to a
comrade and share your last crust with him, to be chivalrous to good
women, to be generous and hospitable, and at the last to die
game--these are the articles of his creed, and I suppose they are
received by men of his stamp.  He hates Evans with a bitter hatred, and
Evans returns it, having undergone much provocation from Jim in his
moods of lawlessness and violence, and being not a little envious of
the fascination which his manners and conversation have for the
strangers who come up here.

On returning down the gulch the view was grander than I have ever seen
it, the gulch in dark shadow, the park below lying in intense sunlight,
with all the majestic canyons which sweep down upon it in depths of
infinite blue gloom, and above, the pearly peaks, dazzling in purity
and glorious in form, cleft the turquoise blue of the sky.  How shall I
ever leave this "land which is very far off"?  How CAN I ever leave it?
is the real question.  We are going on the principle, "Let us eat and
drink, for to-morrow we die," and the stores are melting away.  The two
meals are not an economical plan, for we are so much more hungry that
we eat more than when we had three.  We had a good deal of sacred music
to-day, to make it as like Sunday as possible.  The "faint melancholy"
of this winter loneliness is very fascinating.

How glorious the amber fires of the winter dawns are, and how
gloriously to-night the crimson clouds descended just to the mountain
tops and were reflected on the pure surface of the snow!

The door of this room looks due north, and as I write the Pole Star
blazes, and a cold crescent moon hangs over the ghastliness of Long's
Peak.


ESTES PARK, COLORADO, November.

We have lost count of time, and can only agree on the fact that the
date is somewhere near the end of November.  Our life has settled down
into serenity, and our singular and enforced partnership is very
pleasant.  We might be three men living together, but for the unvarying
courtesy and consideration which they show to me.  Our work goes on
like clockwork; the only difficulty which ever arises is that the men
do not like me to do anything that they think hard or unsuitable, such
as saddling a horse or bringing in water.  The days go very fast; it
was 3:30 today before I knew that it was 1.  It is a calm life without
worries.  The men are so easy to live with; they never fuss, or
grumble, or sigh, or make a trouble of anything.  It would amuse you to
come into our wretched little kitchen before our disgracefully late
breakfast, and find Mr. Kavan busy at the stove frying venison, myself
washing the supper dishes, and Mr. Buchan drying them, or both the men
busy at the stove while I sweep the floor.  Our food is a great object
of interest to us, and we are ravenously hungry now that we have only
two meals a day.  About sundown each goes forth to his "chores"--Mr. K.
to chop wood, Mr. B. to haul water, I to wash the milk pans and water
the horses.  On Saturday the men shot a deer, and on going for it
to-day they found nothing but the hind legs, and following a track
which they expected would lead them to a beast's hole, they came quite
carelessly upon a large mountain lion, which, however, took itself out
of their reach before they were sufficiently recovered from their
surprise to fire at it.  These lions, which are really a species of
puma, are bloodthirsty as well as cowardly.  Lately one got into a
sheepfold in the canyon of the St. Vrain, and killed thirty sheep,
sucking the blood from their throats.


November ?

This has been a day of minor events, as well as a busy one.  I was so
busy that I never sat down from 10:30 till 1:30.  I had washed my one
change of raiment, and though I never iron my clothes, I like to bleach
them till they are as white as snow, and they were whitening on the
line when some furious gusts came down from Long's Peak, against which
I could not stand, and when I did get out all my clothes were blown
into strips from an inch to four inches in width, literally destroyed!
One learns how very little is necessary either for comfort or
happiness.  I made a four-pound spiced ginger cake, baked some bread,
mended my riding dress, cleaned up generally, wrote some letters with
the hope that some day they might be posted and took a magnificent
walk, reaching the cabin again in the melancholy glory which now
immediately precedes the darkness.

We were all busy getting our supper ready when the dogs began to bark
furiously, and we heard the noise of horses.  "Evans at last!" we
exclaimed, but we were wrong.  Mr. Kavan went out, and returned saying
that it was a young man who had come up with Evans's wagon and team,
and that the wagon had gone over into a gulch seven miles from here.
Mr. Kavan looked very grave.  "It's another mouth to feed," he said.
They asked no questions, and brought the lad in, a slangy, assured
fellow of twenty, who, having fallen into delicate health at a
theological college, had been sent up here by Evans to work for his
board.  The men were too courteous to ask him what he was doing up
here, but I boldly asked him where he lived, and to our dismay he
replied, "I've come to live here."  We discussed the food question
gravely, as it presented a real difficulty.  We put him into a
bed-closet opening from the kitchen, and decided to see what he was fit
for before giving him work.  We were very much amazed, in truth, at his
coming here.  He is evidently a shallow, arrogant youth.

We have decided that to-day is November 26th; to-morrow is Thanksgiving
Day, and we are planning a feast, though Mr. K. said to me again this
morning, with a doleful face, "You see there's another mouth to feed."
This "mouth" has come up to try the panacea of manual labor, but he is
town bred, and I see that he will do nothing.  He is writing poetry,
and while I was busy to-day began to read it aloud to me, asking for my
criticism.  He is just at the age when everything literary has a
fascination, and every literary person is a hero, specially Dr.
Holland.  Last night was fearful from the lifting of the cabin and the
breaking of the mud from the roof.  We sat with fine gravel driving in
our faces, and this morning I carried four shovelfuls of mud out of my
room.  After breakfast, Mr. Kavan, Mr. Lyman, and I, with the two wagon
horses, rode the seven miles to the scene of yesterday's disaster in a
perfect gale of wind.  I felt like a servant going out for a day's
"pleasuring," hurrying "through my dishes," and leaving my room in
disorder.  The wagon lay half-way down the side of a ravine, kept from
destruction by having caught on some trees.

It was too cold to hang about while the men hauled it up and fixed it,
so I went slowly back, encountering Mr. Nugent in a most bitter
mood--almost in an "ugly fit"--hating everybody, and contrasting his
own generosity and reckless kindness with the selfishness and
carefully-weighed kindnesses of others.  People do give him credit for
having "as kind a heart as ever beat." Lately a child in the other
cabin was taken ill, and though there were idle men and horses at hand,
it was only the "desperado" who rode sixty miles in "the shortest time
ever made" to bring the doctor.  While we were talking he was sitting
on a stone outside his den mending a saddle, shins, bones, and skulls
lying about him, "Ring" watching him with jealous and idolatrous
affection, the wind lifting his thin curls from as grand a head as was
ever modeled--a ruin of a man.  Yet the sun which shines "on the evil
and the good" was lighting up the gold of his hair.  May our Father
which is in heaven yet show mercy to His outcast child!

Mr. Kavan soon overtook me, and we had an exciting race of two miles,
getting home just before the wind fell and the snow began.

Thanksgiving Day.  The thing dreaded has come at last, a snow-storm,
with a north-east wind.  It ceased about midnight, but not till it had
covered my bed.  Then the mercury fell below zero, and everything
froze.  I melted a tin of water for washing by the fire, but it was
hard frozen before I could use it.  My hair, which was thoroughly wet
with the thawed snow of yesterday, is hard frozen in plaits.  The milk
and treacle are like rock, the eggs have to be kept on the coolest part
of the stove to keep them fluid.  Two calves in the shed were frozen to
death.  Half our floor is deep in snow, and it is so cold that we
cannot open the door to shovel it out.  The snow began again at eight
this morning, very fine and hard.  It blows in through the chinks and
dusts this letter while I write.  Mr. Kavan keeps my ink bottle close
to the fire, and hands it to me every time that I need to dip my pen.
We have a huge fire, but cannot raise the temperature above 20 degrees.
Ever since I returned the lake has been hard enough to bear a wagon,
but to-day it is difficult to keep the water hole open by the constant
use of the axe.  The snow may either melt or block us in.  Our only
anxiety is about the supplies.  We have tea and coffee enough to last
over to-morrow, the sugar is just done, and the flour is getting low.
It is really serious that we have "another mouth to feed," and the
newcomer is a ravenous creature, eating more than the three of us.  It
dismays me to see his hungry eyes gauging the supply at breakfast, and
to see the loaf disappear.  He told me this morning that he could eat
the whole of what was on the table.  He is mad after food, and I see
that Mr. K. is starving himself to make it hold out.  Mr. Buchan is
very far from well, and dreads the prospect of "half rations."  All
this sounds laughable, but we shall not laugh if we have to look hunger
in the face!  Now in the evening the snow clouds, which have blotted
out all things, are lifting, and the winter scene is wonderful.  The
mercury is 5 degrees below zero, and the aurora is glorious.  In my
unchinked room the mercury is 1 degrees below zero.  Mr. Buchan can
hardly get his breath; the dryness is intense.  We spent the afternoon
cooking the Thanksgiving dinner.  I made a wonderful pudding, for which
I had saved eggs and cream for days, and dried and stoned cherries
supplied the place of currants.  I made a bowl of custard for sauce,
which the men said was "splendid"; also a rolled pudding, with
molasses; and we had venison steak and potatoes, but for tea we were
obliged to use the tea leaves of the morning again.  I should think
that few people in America have enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinner more.
We had urged Mr. Nugent to join us, but he refused, almost savagely,
which we regretted.  My four-pound cake made yesterday is all gone!
This wretched boy confesses that he was so hungry in the night that he
got up and ate nearly half of it.  He is trying to cajole me into
making another.


November 29.

Before the boy came I had mistaken some faded cayenne pepper for
ginger, and had made a cake with it.  Last evening I put half of it
into the cupboard and left the door open.  During the night we heard a
commotion in the kitchen and much choking, coughing, and groaning, and
at breakfast the boy was unable to swallow food with his usual
ravenousness.  After breakfast he came to me whimpering, and asking for
something soothing for his throat, admitting that he had seen the
"gingerbread," and "felt so starved" in the night that he got up to eat
it.

I tried to make him feel that it was "real mean" to eat so much and be
so useless, and he said he would do anything to help me, but the men
were so "down on him."  I never saw men so patient with a lad before.
He is a most vexing addition to our party, yet one cannot help laughing
at him.  He is not honorable, though.  I dare not leave this letter
lying on the table, as he would read it.  He writes for two Western
periodicals (at least he says so), and he shows us long pieces of his
published poetry.

In one there are twenty lines copied (as Mr. Kavan has shown me)
without alteration from Paradise Lost; in another there are two stanzas
from Resignation, with only the alteration of "stray" for "dead"; and
he has passed the whole of Bonar's Meeting-place off as his own.
Again, he lent me an essay by himself, called The Function of the
Novelist, which is nothing but a mosaic of unacknowledged quotations.
The men tell me that he has "bragged" to them that on his way here he
took shelter in Mr. Nugent's cabin, found out where he hides his key,
opened his box, and read his letters and MSS.  He is a perfect plague
with his ignorance and SELF-sufficiency.  The first day after he came
while I was washing up the breakfast things he told me that he intended
to do all the dirty work, so I left the knives and forks in the tub and
asked him to wipe and lay them aside.  Two hours afterwards I found
them untouched.  Again the men went out hunting, and he said he would
chop the wood for several days' use, and after a few strokes, which
were only successful in chipping off some shavings, he came in and
strummed on the harmonium, leaving me without any wood with which to
make the fire for supper.  He talked about his skill with the lasso,
but could not even catch one of our quietest horses.  Worse than all,
he does not know one cow from another.  Two days ago he lost our milch
cow in driving her in to be milked, and Mr. Kavan lost hours of
valuable time in hunting for her without success.  To-day he told us
triumphantly that he had found her, and he was sent out to milk her.
After two hours he returned with a rueful face and a few drops of
whitish fluid in the milk pail, saying that that was all he could get.
On Mr. K. going out, he found, instead of our "calico" cow, a brindled
one that had been dry since the spring!  Our cow has gone off to the
wild cattle, and we are looking very grim at Lyman, who says that he
expected he should live on milk.  I told him to fill up the four-gallon
kettle, and an hour afterwards found it red-hot on the stove.  Nothing
can be kept from him unless it is hidden in my room.  He has eaten two
pounds of dried cherries from the shelf, half of my second four-pound
spice loaf before it was cold, licked up my custard sauce in the night,
and privately devoured the pudding which was to be for supper.  He
confesses to it all, and says, "I suppose you think me a cure." Mr. K.
says that the first thing he said to him this morning was, "Will Miss
B. make us a nice pudding to-day?"  This is all harmless, but the
plagiarism and want of honor are disgusting, and quite out of keeping
with his profession of being a theological student.

This life is in some respects like being on board ship--there are no
mails, and one knows nothing beyond one's little world, a very little
one in this case.  We find each other true, and have learnt to esteem
and trust each other.  I should, for instance, go out of this room
leaving this book open on the table, knowing that the men would not
read my letter.  They are discreet, reticent, observant, and on many
subjects well informed, but they are of a type which has no antitype at
home.  All women work in this region, so there is no fuss about my
working, or saying, "Oh, you mustn't do that," or "Oh, let me do that."


November 30.

We sat up till eleven last night, so confident were we that Edwards
would leave Denver the day after Thanksgiving and get up here.  This
morning we came to the resolution that we must break up.  Tea, coffee,
and sugar are done, the venison is turning sour, and the men have only
one month left for the hunting on which their winter living depends.  I
cannot leave the Territory till I get money, but I can go to Longmount
for the mail and hear whether the panic is abating.  Yesterday I was
alone all day, and after riding to the base of Long's Peak, made two
roly-poly puddings for supper, having nothing else.  The men, however,
came back perfectly loaded with trout, and we had a feast.  Epicures at
home would have envied us.  Mr. Kavan kept the frying pan with boiling
butter on the stove, butter enough thoroughly to cover the trout,
rolled them in coarse corn meal, plunged them into the butter, turned
them once, and took them out, thoroughly done, fizzing, and lemon
colored.  For once young Lyman was satisfied, for the dish was
replenished as often as it was emptied.  They caught 40 lbs., and have
packed them in ice until they can be sent to Denver for sale.  The
winter fishing is very rich.  In the hardest frost, men who fish not
for sport, but gain, take their axes and camping blankets, and go up to
the hard-frozen waters which lie in fifty places round the park, and
choosing a likely spot, a little sheltered from the wind, hack a hole
in the ice, and fastening a foot-link to a cotton-wood tree, bait the
hook with maggots or bits of easily-gotten fresh meat.  Often the trout
are caught as fast as the hook can be baited, and looking through the
ice hole in the track of a sunbeam, you see a mass of tails, silver
fins, bright eyes, and crimson spots, a perfect shoal of fish, and
truly beautiful the crimson-spotted creatures look, lying still and
dead on the blue ice under the sunshine.  Sometimes two men bring home
60 lbs. of trout as the result of one day's winter fishing.  It is a
cold and silent sport, however.

How a cook at home would despise our scanty appliances, with which we
turn out luxuries.  We have only a cooking-stove, which requires
incessant feeding with wood, a kettle, a frying pan, a six-gallon brass
pan, and a bottle for a rolling pin.  The cold has been very severe,
but I do not suffer from it even in my insufficient clothing.  I take a
piece of granite made very hot to bed, draw the blankets over my head
and sleep eight hours, though the snow often covers me.  One day of
snow, mist, and darkness was rather depressing, and yesterday a
hurricane began about five in the morning, and the whole park was one
swirl of drifting snow, like stinging wood smoke.  My bed and room were
white, and the frost was so intense that water brought in a kettle hot
from the fire froze as I poured it into the basin.  Then the snow
ceased, and a fierce wind blew most of it out of the park, lifting it
from the mountains in such clouds as to make Long's Peak look like a
smoking volcano.  To-day the sky has resumed its delicious blue, and
the park its unrivalled beauty.  I have cleaned all the windows, which,
ever since I have been here, I supposed were of discolored glass, so
opaque and dirty they were; and when the men came home from fishing
they found a cheerful new world.  We had a great deal of sacred music
and singing on Sunday.  Mr. Buchan asked me if I knew a tune called
"America," and began the grand roll of our National Anthem to the words:

  My country, 'tis of thee,
  Sweet land of liberty, etc.


December 1.

I was to have started for Canyon to-day, but was awoke by snow as
stinging as pinpoints beating on my hand.  We all got up early, but it
did not improve until nearly noon.  In the afternoon Lyman and I rode
to Mr. Nugent's cabin.  I wanted him to read and correct my letter to
you, giving the account of our ascent of Long's Peak, but he said he
could not, and insisted on our going in for which young Lyman was more
anxious than I was, as Mr. Kavan had seen "Jim" in the morning, and
departed from his usual reticence so far as to say,  "There's something
wrong with that man; he'll either shoot himself or somebody else."
However, the "ugly fit" had passed off, and he was so very pleasant and
courteous that we remained the whole afternoon.  Lyman's one thought
was that he could make capital out of the interview, and write an
account of the celebrated desperado for a Western paper.

The interior of the den was frightful, yet among his black and hideous
surroundings the grace of his manner and the genius of his conversation
were only more apparent.  I read my letter aloud--or rather "The Ascent
of Long's Peak," which I have written for Out West--and was sincerely
interested with the taste and acumen of his criticisms on the style.
He is a true child of nature; his eye brightened and his whole face
became radiant, and at last tears rolled down his cheek when I read the
account of the glory of the sunrise.  Then he read us a very able paper
on Spiritualism which he was writing.  The den was dense with smoke,
and very dark, littered with hay, old blankets, skins, bones, tins,
logs, powder flasks, magazines, old books, old moccasins, horseshoes,
and relics of all kinds.  He had no better seat to offer me than a log,
but offered it with a graceful unconsciousness that it was anything
less luxurious than an easy chair.  Two valuable rifles and a Sharp's
revolver hung on the wall, and the sash and badge of a scout.  I could
not help looking at "Jim" as he stood talking to me.  He goes mad with
drink at times, swears fearfully, has an ungovernable temper.  He has
formerly led a desperate life, and is at times even now undoubtedly a
ruffian.  There is hardly a fireside in Colorado where fearful stories
of him as an Indian fighter are not told; mothers frighten their
naughty children by telling them that "Mountain Jim" will get them, and
doubtless his faults are glaring, but he is undoubtedly fascinating,
and enjoys a popularity or notoriety which no other person has.  He
offered to be my guide to the Plains when I go away.  Lyman asked me if
I should not be afraid of being murdered, but one could not be safer
than with him I have often been told.

The cold was truly awful.  I had caught a chill in the morning from
putting on my clothes before they were dry, and the warmth of the smoky
den was most agreeable; but we had a fearful ride back in the dusk, a
gale nearly blowing us off our horses, drifting snow nearly blinding
us, and the mercury below zero.  I felt as if I were going to be laid
up with a severe cold, but the men suggested a trapper's remedy--a
tumbler of hot water, with a pinch of cayenne pepper in it--which
proved a very rapid cure.  They kindly say that if the snow detains me
here they also will remain.  They tell me that they were horrified when
I arrived, as they thought that they could not make me comfortable, and
that I had never been used to do anything for myself, and then we
complimented each other all round.  To-morrow, weather permitting, I
set off for a ride of 100 miles, and my next letter will be my last
from the Rocky Mountains.

                                        I. L. B.



Letter XVI

A harmonious home--Intense cold--A purple sun--A grim jest--A perilous
ride--Frozen eyelids--Longmount--The pathless prairie--Hardships of
emigrant life--A trapper's advice--The Little Thompson--Evans and "Jim."

DR. HUGHES'S, LOWER CANYON, COLORADO, December 4.

Once again here, in refined and cultured society, with harmonious
voices about me, and dear, sweet, loving children whose winning ways
make this cabin a true English home.  "England, with all thy faults, I
love thee still!"  I can truly say,

  Where'er I roam, whatever realms I see.
  My heart, untraveled, fondly turns to thee.

If it swerved a little in the Sandwich Islands, it is true to the Pole
now!  Surely one advantage of traveling is that, while it removes much
prejudice against foreigners and their customs, it intensifies tenfold
one's appreciation of the good at home, and, above all, of the
quietness and purity of English domestic life.  These reflections are
forced upon me by the sweet child-voices about me, and by the exquisite
consideration and tenderness which are the atmosphere (some would call
it the hothouse atmosphere) of this house.  But with the bare, hard
life, and the bare, bleak mountains around, who could find fault with
even a hothouse atmosphere, if it can nourish such a flower of Paradise
as sacred human love?

The mercury is eleven degrees below zero, and I have to keep my ink on
the stove to prevent it from freezing.  The cold is intense--a clear,
brilliant, stimulating cold, so dry that even in my threadbare flannel
riding dress I do not suffer from it.  I must now take up my narrative
of the nothings which have all the interest of SOMETHINGS to me.  We
all got up before daybreak on Tuesday, and breakfasted at seven.  I
have not seen the dawn for some time, with its amber fires deepening
into red, and the snow peaks flushing one by one, and it seemed a new
miracle.  It was a west wind, and we all thought it promised well.  I
took only two pounds of luggage, some raisins, the mailbag, and an
additional blanket under my saddle.  I had not been up from the park at
sunrise before, and it was quite glorious, the purple depths of
M'Ginn's Gulch, from which at a height of 9,000 feet you look down on
the sunlit park 1,500 feet below, lying in a red haze, with its pearly
needle-shaped peaks, framed by mountain sides dark with pines--my
glorious, solitary, unique mountain home!  The purple sun rose in
front.  Had I known what made it purple I should certainly have gone no
farther.  Then clouds, the morning mist as I supposed, lifted
themselves up rose lighted, showing the sun's disc as purple as one of
the jars in a chemist's window, and having permitted this glimpse of
their king, came down again as a dense mist, the wind chopped round,
and the mist began to freeze hard.  Soon Birdie and myself were a mass
of acicular crystals; it was a true easterly fog.  I galloped on,
hoping to get through it, unable to see a yard before me; but it
thickened, and I was obliged to subside into a jog-trot.

As I rode on, about four miles from the cabin, a human figure, looking
gigantic like the spectre of the Brocken, with long hair white as snow,
appeared close to me, and at the same moment there was the flash of a
pistol close to my ear, and I recognized "Mountain Jim" frozen from
head to foot, looking a century old with his snowy hair.  It was "ugly"
altogether certainly, a "desperado's" grim jest, and it was best to
accept it as such, though I had just cause for displeasure.  He stormed
and scolded, dragged me off the pony--for my hands and feet were numb
with cold--took the bridle, and went off at a rapid stride, so that I
had to run to keep them in sight in the darkness, for we were off the
road in a thicket of scrub, looking like white branch coral, I knew not
where.  Then we came suddenly on his cabin, and dear old "Ring," white
like all else; and the "ruffian" insisted on my going in, and he made a
good fire, and heated some coffee, raging all the time.  He said
everything against my going forward, except that it was dangerous; all
he said came true, and here I am safe!  Your letters, however,
outweighed everything but danger, and I decided on going on, when he
said, "I've seen many foolish people, but never one so foolish as
you--you haven't a grain of sense.  Why, I, an old mountaineer,
wouldn't go down to the Plains to-day."  I told him he could not,
though he would like it very much, for that he had turned his horses
loose; on which he laughed heartily, and more heartily still at the
stories I told him of young Lyman, so that I have still a doubt how
much of the dark moods I have lately seen was assumed.

He took me back to the track; and the interview which began with a
pistol shot, ended quite pleasantly.  It was an eerie ride, one not to
be forgotten, though there was no danger.  I could not recognize any
localities.  Every tree was silvered, and the fir-tree tufts of needles
looked like white chrysanthemums.  The snow lay a foot deep in the
gulches, with its hard, smooth surface marked by the feet of
innumerable birds and beasts.  Ice bridges had formed across all the
streams, and I crossed them without knowing when.  Gulches looked
fathomless abysses, with clouds boiling up out of them, and shaggy
mountain summits, half seen for a moment through the eddies, as quickly
vanished.  Everything looked vast and indefinite.  Then a huge
creation, like one of Dore's phantom illustrations, with much breathing
of wings, came sailing towards me in a temporary opening in the mist.
As with a strange rustle it passed close over my head, I saw, for the
first time, the great mountain eagle, carrying a good-sized beast in
his talons.  It was a noble vision.  Then there were ten miles of
metamorphosed gulches--silent, awful--many ice bridges, then a frozen
drizzle, and then the winds changed from east to north-east.  Birdie
was covered with exquisite crystals, and her long mane and the long
beard which covers her throat were pure white.  I saw that I must give
up crossing the mountains to this place by an unknown trail; and I
struck the old trail to the St. Vrain, which I had never traveled
before, but which I knew to be more legible than the new one.  The fog
grew darker and thicker, the day colder and windier, the drifts deeper;
but Birdie, whose four cunning feet had carried me 600 miles, and who
in all difficulties proves her value, never flinched or made a false
step, or gave me reason to be sorry that I had come on.

I got down to the St. Vrain Canyon in good time, and stopped at a house
thirteen miles from Longmount to get oats.  I was white from head to
foot, and my clothes were frozen stiff.  The women gave me the usual
invitation, "Put your feet in the oven"; and I got my clothes thawed
and dried, and a delicious meal consisting of a basin of cream and
bread.  They said it would be worse on the plains, for it was an
easterly storm; but as I was so used to riding, I could get on, so we
started at 2:30.  Not far off I met Edwards going up at last to Estes
Park, and soon after the snow-storm began in earnest--or rather I
entered the storm, which had been going on there for several hours.  By
that time I had reached the prairie, only eight miles from Longmount,
and pushed on.  It was simply fearful.  It was twilight from the thick
snow, and I faced a furious east wind loaded with fine, hard-frozen
crystals, which literally made my face bleed.  I could only see a very
short distance anywhere; the drifts were often two feet deep, and only
now and then, through the blinding whirl, I caught a glimpse of snow
through which withered sunflowers did not protrude, and then I knew
that I was on the track.  But reaching a wild place, I lost it, and
still cantered on, trusting to the pony's sagacity.  It failed for
once, for she took me on a lake and we fell through the ice into the
water, 100 yards from land, and had a hard fight back again.  It grew
worse and worse.  I had wrapped up my face, but the sharp, hard snow
beat on my eyes--the only exposed part--bringing tears into them, which
froze and closed up my eye-lids at once.  You cannot imagine what that
was.

I had to take off one glove to pick one eye open, for as to the other,
the storm beat so savagely against it that I left it frozen, and drew
over it the double piece of flannel which protected my face.  I could
hardly keep the other open by picking the ice from it constantly with
my numb fingers, in doing which I got the back of my hand slightly
frostbitten.  It was truly awful at the time.  I often thought,
"Suppose I am going south instead of east?  Suppose Birdie should fail?
Suppose it should grow quite dark?"  I was mountaineer enough to shake
these fears off and keep up my spirits, but I knew how many had
perished on the prairie in similar storms.  I calculated that if I did
not reach Longmount in half an hour it would be quite dark, and that I
should be so frozen or paralyzed with cold that I should fall off.

Not a quarter of an hour after I had wondered how long I could hold on
I saw, to my surprise, close to me, half-smothered in snow, the
scattered houses and blessed lights of Longmount, and welcome, indeed,
its wide, dreary, lifeless, soundless road looked!  When I reached the
hotel I was so benumbed that I could not get off, and the worthy host
lifted me off and carried me in.

Not expecting any travelers, they had no fire except in the bar-room,
so they took me to the stove in their own room, gave me a hot drink and
plenty of blankets and in half an hour I was all right and ready for a
ferocious meal.  "If there's a traveler on the prairie to-night, God
help him!" the host had said to his wife just before I came in.

I found Evans there, storm stayed, and that--to his great credit at the
time--my money matters were all right.  After the sound and refreshing
sleep which one gets in this splendid climate, I was ready for an early
start, but, warned by yesterday's experience, waited till twelve to be
sure of the weather.  The air was intensely clear, and the mercury
SEVENTEEN DEGREES BELOW ZERO!  The snow sparkled and snapped under
one's feet.  It was gloriously beautiful!  In this climate, if you only
go out for a short time you do not feel cold even without a hat, or any
additional wrappings.  I bought a cardigan for myself, however, and
some thick socks, got some stout snow-shoes for Birdie's hind feet, had
a pleasant talk with some English friends, did some commissions for the
men in the park, and hung about waiting for a freight train to break
the track, but eventually, inspirited by the good news from you, left
Longmount alone, and for the last time.  I little thought that
miserable, broiling day on which I arrived at it with Dr. and Mrs.
Hughes, of the glories of which it was the gate, and of the "good
times" I should have.  Now I am at home in it; every one in it and
along the St. Vrain Canyon addresses me in a friendly way by name; and
the newspapers, with their intolerable personality, have made me and my
riding exploits so notorious, that travelers speak courteously to me
when they meet me on the prairie, doubtless wishing to see what sort of
monster I am!  I have met nothing but civility, both of manner and
speech, except that distraught pistol shot.  It looked icily beautiful,
the snow so pure and the sky such a bright, sharp blue!  The snow was
so deep and level that after a few miles I left the track, and steering
for Storm Peak, rode sixteen miles over the pathless prairie without
seeing man, bird, or beast--a solitude awful even in the bright
sunshine.  The cold, always great, became piteous.  I increased the
frostbite of yesterday by exposing my hand in mending the stirrup; and
when the sun sank in indescribable beauty behind the mountains, and
color rioted in the sky, I got off and walked the last four miles, and
stole in here in the colored twilight without any one seeing me.

The life of which I wrote before is scarcely less severe, though
lightened by a hope of change, and this weather brings out some special
severities.  The stove has to be in the living-room, the children
cannot go out, and, good and delightful as they are, it is hard for
them to be shut up all day with four adults.  It is more of a trouble
than you would think for a lady in precarious health that before each
meal, eggs, butter, milk, preserves, and pickles have to be unfrozen.
Unless they are kept on the stove, there is no part of the room in
which they do not freeze.  It is uninteresting down here in the Foot
Hills.  I long for the rushing winds, the piled-up peaks, the great
pines, the wild night noises, the poetry and the prose of the free,
jolly life of my unrivalled eyrie.  I can hardly realize that the river
which lies ice bound outside this house is the same which flashes
through Estes Park, and which I saw snow born on Long's Peak.

Yesterday morning the mercury had disappeared, so it was 20 degrees
below zero at least.  I lay awake from cold all night, but such is the
wonderful effect of the climate, that when I got up at half-past five
to waken the household for my early start, I felt quite refreshed.  We
breakfasted on buffalo beef, and I left at eight to ride forty-five
miles before night, Dr. Hughes and a gentleman who was staying there
convoying me the first fifteen miles.  I did like that ride, racing
with the other riders, careering through the intoxicating air in that
indescribable sunshine, the powdery snow spurned from the horses' feet
like dust!  I was soon warm.  We stopped at a trapper's ranch to feed,
and the old trapper amused me by seeming to think Estes Park almost
inaccessible in winter.  The distance was greater than I had been told,
and he said that I could not get there before eleven at night, and not
at all if there was much drift.  I wanted the gentlemen to go on with
me as far as the Devil's Gate, but they could not because their horses
were tired; and when the trapper heard that he exclaimed, indignantly,
"What! that woman going into the mountains alone?  She'll lose the
track or be froze to death!"  But when I told him I had ridden the
trail in the storm of Tuesday, and had ridden over 600 miles alone in
the mountains, he treated me with great respect as a fellow
mountaineer, and gave me some matches, saying, "You'll have to camp out
anyhow; you'd better make a fire than be froze to death."  The idea of
my spending the night in the forest alone, by a fire, struck me as most
grotesque.

We did not start again till one, and the two gentlemen rode the first
two miles with me.  On that track, the Little Thompson, there a full
stream, has to be crossed eighteen times, and they had been hauling
wood across it, breaking it, and it had broken and refrozen several
times, making thick and thin places--indeed, there were crossings which
even I thought bad, where the ice let us through, and it was hard for
the horses to struggle upon it again; and one of the gentlemen who,
though a most accomplished man, was not a horseman, was once or twice
in the ludicrous position of hesitating on the bank with an anxious
face, not daring to spur his horse upon the ice.  After they left me I
had eight more crossings, and then a ride of six miles, before I
reached the old trail; but though there were several drifts up to the
saddle, and no one had broken a track, Birdie showed such a pluck, that
instead of spending the night by a camp-fire, or not getting in till
midnight, I reached Mr. Nugent's cabin, four miles from Estes Park,
only an hour after dark, very cold, and with the pony so tired that she
could hardly put one foot before another.  Indeed, I walked the last
three miles.  I saw light through the chinks but, hearing an earnest
conversation within, was just about to withdraw, when "Ring" barked,
and on his master coming to the door I found that the solitary man was
talking to his dog.  He was looking out for me, and had some coffee
ready, and a large fire, which were very pleasant; and I was very glad
to get the latest news from the park.  He said that Evans told him that
it would be most difficult for any one of them to take me down to the
Plains, but that he would go, which is a great relief.  According to
the Scotch proverb, "Better a finger off than aye wagging," and as I
cannot live here (for you would not like the life or climate), the
sooner I leave the better.

The solitary ride to Evans's was very eerie.  It was very dark, and the
noises were unintelligible.  Young Lyman rushed out to take my horse,
and the light and warmth within were delightful, but there was a
stiffness about the new regime.  Evans, though steeped in difficulties,
was as hearty and generous as ever; but Edwards, who had assumed the
management, is prudent, if not parsimonious, thinks we wasted the
supplies recklessly, and the limitations as to milk, etc., are
painfully apparent.  A young ex-Guardsman has come up with Evans, of
whom the sanguine creature forms great expectations, to be disappointed
doubtless.  In the afternoon of yesterday a gentleman came who I
thought was another stranger, strikingly handsome, well dressed, and
barely forty, with sixteen shining gold curls falling down his collar;
he walked in, and it was only after a careful second look that I
recognized in our visitor the redoubtable "desperado."  Evans
courteously pressed him to stay and dine with us, and not only did he
show the most singular conversational dexterity in talking with the
stranger, who was a very well-informed man, and had seen a great deal
of the world, but, though he lives and eats like a savage, his manners
and way of eating were as refined as possible.  I notice that Evans is
never quite himself or perfectly comfortable when he is there;  and on
the part of the other there is a sort of stiffly-assumed cordiality,
significant, I fear of lurking hatred on both sides.  I was in the
kitchen after dinner making rolled puddings, young Lyman was eating up
the relics as usual, "Jim" was singing one of Moore's melodies, the
others being in the living-room, when Mr. Kavan and Mr. Buchan came
from "up the creek" to wish me good-bye.  They said it was not half so
much like home now, and recalled the "good time" we had had for three
weeks.  Lyman having lost the ow, we have no milk.  No one makes bread;
they dry the venison into chips, and getting the meals at all seems a
work of toil and difficulty, instead of the pleasure it used to be to
us.  Evans, since tea, has told me all his troubles and worries.  He is
a kind, generous, whole-hearted, unsuspicious man, a worse enemy to
himself, I believe, than to any other; but I feel sadly that the future
of a man who has not stronger principles than he has must be at the
best very insecure.

                                   I. L. B.



Letter XVII

Woman's mission--The last morning--Crossing the St.  Vrain--Miller--The
St. Vrain again--Crossing the prairie--"Jim's" dream--"Keeping
strangers"--The inn kitchen--A reputed child-eater--Notoriety--A quiet
dance--"Jim's" resolve--The frost-fall--An unfortunate introduction.

CHEYENNE, WYOMING, December 12.

The last evening came.  I did not wish to realize it, as I looked at
the snow-peaks glistening in the moonlight.  No woman will be seen in
the park till next May.  Young Lyman talked in a "hifalutin" style, but
with some truth in it, of the influence of a woman's presence, how
"low, mean, vulgar talk" had died out on my return, how they had "all
pulled themselves up," and how Mr. Kavan and Mr. Buchan had said they
would like always to be as quiet and gentlemanly as when a lady was
with them.  "By May," he said, "we shall be little better than brutes,
in our manners at least."  I have seen a great deal of the roughest
class of men both on sea and land during the last two years, and the
more important I think the "mission" of every quiet, refined,
self-respecting woman--the more mistaken I think those who would
forfeit it by noisy self-assertion, masculinity, or fastness.  In all
this wild West the influence of woman is second only in its benefits to
the influence of religion, and where the last unhappily does not exist
the first continually exerts its restraining power.  The last morning
came.  I cleaned up my room and sat at the window watching the red and
gold of one of the most glorious of winter sunrises, and the slow
lighting-up of one peak after another.  I have written that this
scenery is not lovable, but I love it.

I left on Birdie at 11 o'clock, Evans riding with me as far as Mr.
Nugent's.  He was telling me so many things, that at the top of the
hill I forgot to turn round and take a last look at my colossal,
resplendent, lonely, sunlit den, but it was needless, for I carry it
away with me.  I should not have been able to leave if Mr. Nugent had
not offered his services.  His chivalry to women is so well known, that
Evans said I could be safer and better cared for with no one.  He
added, "His heart is good and kind, as kind a heart as ever beat.  He's
a great enemy of his own, but he's been living pretty quietly for the
last four years."  At the door of his den I took leave of Birdie, who
had been my faithful companion for more than 700 miles of traveling,
and of Evans, who had been uniformly kind to me and just in all his
dealings, even to paying to me at that moment the very last dollar he
owed me.  May God bless him and his!  He was obliged to return before I
could get off, and as he commended me to Mr. Nugent's care, the two men
shook hands kindly.[21]

[21]Some months later "Mountain Jim" fell by Evans's hand, shot from
Evans's doorstep while riding past his cabin.  The story of the
previous weeks is dark, sad, and evil.  Of the five differing versions
which have been written to me of the act itself and its immediate
causes, it is best to give none.  The tragedy is too painful to dwell
upon.  "Jim" lived long enough to give his own statement, and to appeal
to the judgment of God, but died in low delirium before the case
reached a human tribunal.


Rich spoils of beavers' skins were lying on the cabin floor, and the
trapper took the finest, a mouse-colored kitten beaver's skin, and
presented it to me.  I hired his beautiful Arab mare, whose springy
step and long easy stride was a relief after Birdie's short sturdy
gait. We had a very pleasant ride, and I seldom had to walk.  We took
neither of the trails, but cut right through the forest to a place
where, through an opening in the Foot Hills, the Plains stretched to
the horizon covered with snow, the surface of which, having melted and
frozen, reflected as water would the pure blue of the sky, presenting a
complete optical illusion.  It required my knowledge of fact to assure
me that I was not looking at the ocean.  "Jim" shortened the way by
repeating a great deal of poetry, and by earnest, reasonable
conversation, so that I was quite surprised when it grew dark.  He told
me that he never lay down to sleep without prayer--prayer chiefly that
God would give him a happy death.  He had previously promised that he
would not hurry or scold, but "fyking" had not been included in the
arrangement, and when in the early darkness we reached the steep hill,
at whose foot the rapid deep St. Vrain flows, he "fyked" unreasonably
about me, the mare, and the crossing generally, and seemed to think I
could not get through, for the ice had been cut with an axe, and we
could not see whether "glaze" had formed since or not.

I was to have slept at the house of a woman farther down the canyon,
who never ceases talking, but Miller, the young man whose attractive
house and admirable habits I have mentioned before, came out and said
his house was "now fixed for ladies," so we stayed there, and I was
"made as comfortable" as could be.  His house is a model.  He cleans
everything as soon as it is used, so nothing is ever dirty, and his
stove and cooking gear in their bright parts look like polished silver.
It was amusing to hear the two men talk like two women about various
ways of making bread and biscuits, one even writing out a recipe for
the other.  It was almost grievous that a solitary man should have the
power of making a house so comfortable!  They heated a stone for my
feet, warmed a blanket for me to sleep in, and put logs enough on the
fire to burn all night, for the mercury was eleven below zero.  The
stars were intensely bright, and a well-defined auroral arch, throwing
off fantastic coruscations, lighted the whole northern sky.  Yet I was
only in the Foot Hills, and Long's glorious Peak was not to be seen.
Miller had all his things "washed up" and his "pots and pans" cleaned
in ten minutes after supper, and then had the whole evening in which to
smoke and enjoy himself--a poor woman would probably have been "fussing
round" till 10 o'clock about the same work.  Besides Ring there was
another gigantic dog craving for notice, and two large cats, which, the
whole evening, were on their master's knee.  Cold as the night was, the
house was chinked, and the rooms felt quite warm.  I even missed the
free currents of air which I had been used to!  This was my last
evening in what may be called a mountainous region.

The next morning, as soon as the sun was well risen, we left for our
journey of 30 miles, which had to be done nearly at a foot's pace,
owing to one horse being encumbered with my luggage.  I did not wish to
realize that it was my last ride, and my last association with any of
the men of the mountains whom I had learned to trust, and in some
respects to admire.  No more hunters' tales told while the pine knots
crack and blaze; no more thrilling narratives of adventures with
Indians and bears; and never again shall I hear that strange talk of
Nature and her doings which is the speech of those who live with her
and her alone.  Already the dismalness of a level land comes over me.
The canyon of the St. Vrain was in all its glory of color, but we had a
remarkably ugly crossing of that brilliant river, which was frozen all
over, except an unpleasant gap of about two feet in the middle.  Mr.
Nugent had to drive the frightened horses through, while I, having
crossed on some logs lower down, had to catch them on the other side as
they plunged to shore trembling with fear.  Then we emerged on the vast
expanse of the glittering Plains, and a sudden sweep of wind made the
cold so intolerable that I had to go into a house to get warm.  This
was the last house we saw till we reached our destination that night.
I never saw the mountain range look so beautiful--uplifted in every
shade of transparent blue, till the sublimity of Long's Peak, and the
lofty crest of Storm Peak, bore only unsullied snow against the sky.
Peaks gleamed in living light; canyons lay in depths of purple shade;
100 miles away Pike's Peak rose a lump of blue, and over all, through
that glorious afternoon, a veil of blue spiritualized without dimming
the outlines of that most glorious range, making it look like the
dreamed-of mountains of "the land which is very far off," till at
sunset it stood out sharp in glories of violet and opal, and the whole
horizon up to a great height was suffused with the deep rose and pure
orange of the afterglow.  It seemed all dream-like as we passed through
the sunlit solitude, on the right the prairie waves lessening towards
the far horizon, while on the left they broke in great snowy surges
against the Rocky Mountains.  All that day we neither saw man, beast,
nor bird.  "Jim" was silent mostly.  Like all true children of the
mountains, he pined even when temporarily absent from them.

At sunset we reached a cluster of houses called Namaqua, where, to my
dismay, I heard that there was to be a dance at the one little inn to
which we were going at St. Louis.  I pictured to myself no privacy, no
peace, no sleep, drinking, low sounds, and worse than all, "Jim"
getting into a quarrel and using his pistols.  He was uncomfortable
about it for another reason.  He said he had dreamt the night before
that there was to be a dance, and that he had to shoot a man for making
"an unpleasant remark."

For the last three miles which we accomplished after sunset the cold
was most severe, but nothing could exceed the beauty of the afterglow,
and the strange look of the rolling plains of snow beneath it.  When we
got to the queer little place where they "keep strangers" at St. Louis,
they were very civil, and said that after supper we could have the
kitchen to ourselves.  I found a large, prononcee, competent, bustling
widow, hugely stout, able to manage all men and everything else, and a
very florid sister like herself, top heavy with hair.  There were
besides two naughty children in the kitchen, who cried incessantly, and
kept opening and shutting the door.  There was no place to sit down but
a wooden chair by the side of the kitchen stove, at which supper was
being cooked for ten men.  The bustle and clatter were indescribable,
and the landlady asked innumerable questions, and seemed to fill the
whole room.  The only expedient for me for the night was to sleep on a
shake-down in a very small room occupied by the two women and the
children, and even this was not available till midnight, when the dance
terminated; and there was no place in which to wash except a bowl in
the kitchen.  I sat by the stove till supper, wearying of the noise and
bustle after the quiet of Estes Park.

The landlady asked, with great eagerness, who the gentleman was who was
with me, and said that the men outside were saying that they were sure
that it was "Rocky Mountain Jim," but she was sure it was not.  When I
told her that the men were right, she exclaimed,  "Do tell!  I want to
know! that quiet, kind gentleman!" and she said she used to frighten
her children when they were naughty by telling them that "he would get
them, for he came down from the mountains every week, and took back a
child with him to eat!"  She was as proud of having him in her house as
if he had been the President, and I gained a reflected importance!  All
the men in the settlement assembled in the front room, hoping he would
go and smoke there, and when he remained in the kitchen they came round
the window and into the doorway to look at him.  The children got on
his knee, and, to my great relief, he kept them good and quiet, and let
them play with his curls, to the great delight of the two women, who
never took their eyes off him.  At last the bad-smelling supper was
served, and ten silent men came in and gobbled it up, staring steadily
at "Jim" as they gobbled.  Afterwards, there seemed no hope of quiet,
so we went to the post-office, and while waiting for stamps were shown
into the prettiest and most ladylike-looking room I have seen in the
West, created by a pretty and refined-looking woman.  She made an
opportunity for asking me if it were true that the gentleman with me
was "Mountain Jim," and added that so very gentlemanly a person could
not be guilty of the misdeeds attributed to him.

When we returned, the kitchen was much quieter.  It was cleared by
eight, as the landlady promised; we had it to ourselves till twelve,
and could scarcely hear the music.  It was a most respectable dance, a
fortnightly gathering got up by the neighboring settlers, most of them
young married people, and there was no drinking at all.  I wrote to you
for some time, while Mr. Nugent copied for himself the poems "In the
Glen" and the latter half of "The River without a Bridge," which he
recited with deep feeling.  It was altogether very quiet and peaceful.
He repeated to me several poems of great merit which he had composed,
and told me much more about his life.  I knew that no one else could or
would speak to him as I could, and for the last time I urged upon him
the necessity of a reformation in his life, beginning with the giving
up of whisky, going so far as to tell him that I despised a man of his
intellect for being a slave to such a vice.  "Too late! too late!" he
always answered, "for such a change."  Ay, TOO LATE.  He shed tears
quietly.  "It might have been once," he said.  Ay, MIGHT have been.  He
has excellent sense for every one but himself, and, as I have seen him
with a single exception, a gentleness, propriety, and considerateness
of manner surprising in any man, but especially so in a man associating
only with the rough men of the West.  As I looked at him, I felt a pity
such as I never before felt for a human being.

My thought at the moment was, Will not our Father in heaven, "who
spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all," be far more
pitiful?  For the time a desire for self-respect, better aspirations,
and even hope itself, entered his dark life; and he said, suddenly,
that he had made up his mind to give up whisky and his reputation as a
desperado.  But it is "too late."  A little before twelve the dance was
over, and I got to the crowded little bedroom, which only allowed of
one person standing in it at a time, to sleep soundly and dream of
"ninety-and-nine just persons who need no repentance."  The landlady
was quite taken up with her "distinguished guest."  "That kind, quiet
gentleman, Mountain Jim!  Well, I never! he must be a very good man!"

Yesterday morning the mercury was 20 degrees below zero.  I think I
never saw such a brilliant atmosphere.  That curious phenomenon called
frost-fall was occurring, in which, whatever moisture may exist in the
air, somehow aggregates into feathers and fern leaves, the loveliest of
creations, only seen in rarefied air and intense cold.  One breath and
they vanish.  The air was filled with diamond sparks quite intangible.
They seemed just glitter and no more.  It was still and cloudless, and
the shapes of violet mountains were softened by a veil of the tenderest
blue.  When the Greeley stage wagon came up, Mr. Fodder, whom I met at
Lower Canyon, was on it.  He had expressed a great wish to go to Estes
Park, and to hunt with "Mountain Jim," if it would be safe to do the
latter.  He was now dressed in the extreme of English dandyism, and
when I introduced them, he put out a small hand cased in a
perfectly-fitting lemon-colored kid glove.[22]  As the trapper stood
there in his grotesque rags and odds and ends of apparel, his
gentlemanliness of deportment brought into relief the innate vulgarity
of a rich parvenu.  Mr. Fodder rattled so amusingly as we drove away
that I never realized that my Rocky Mountain life was at an end, not
even when I saw "Mountain Jim," with his golden hair yellow in the
sunshine, slowly leading the beautiful mare over the snowy Plains back
to Estes Park, equipped with the saddle on which I had ridden 800 miles!

[22] This was a truly unfortunate introduction.  It was the first link
in the chain of circumstances which brought about Mr. Nugent's untimely
end, and it was at this person's instigation (when overcome by fear)
that Evans fired the shot which proved fatal.

A drive of several hours over the Plains brought us to Greeley, and a
few hours later, in the far blue distance, the Rocky Mountains, and all
that they enclose, went down below the prairie sea.

I. L. B.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home