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Title: Martha of California - A Story of the California Trail
Author: Otis, James, 1848-1912
Language: English
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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.

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  [Illustration: Map to illustrate the Story of Martha of California]



     MARTHA OF CALIFORNIA

     A STORY OF THE CALIFORNIA TRAIL

     BY
     JAMES OTIS

     [Illustration]

     NEW YORK -:- CINCINNATI -:- CHICAGO
     AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY



JAMES OTIS'S PIONEER SERIES


  =ANTOINE OF OREGON=: A STORY OF THE OREGON TRAIL.

  =BENJAMIN OF OHIO=: A STORY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF MARIETTA.

  =HANNAH OF KENTUCKY=: A STORY OF THE WILDERNESS ROAD.

  =MARTHA OF CALIFORNIA=: A STORY OF THE CALIFORNIA TRAIL.

  =PHILIP OF TEXAS=: A STORY OF SHEEP RAISING IN TEXAS.

  =SETH OF COLORADO=: A STORY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF DENVER.



COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY
MRS. A. L. KALER.

COPYRIGHT, 1913, IN GREAT BRITAIN.



MARTHA OF CALIFORNIA.



FOREWORD


The author of this series of stories for children has endeavored simply
to show why and how the descendants of the early colonists fought
their way through the wilderness in search of new homes. The several
narratives deal with the struggles of those adventurous people who
forced their way westward, ever westward, whether in hope of gain or
in answer to "the call of the wild," and who, in so doing, wrote their
names with their blood across this country of ours from the Ohio to the
Columbia.

To excite in the hearts of the young people of this land a desire to
know more regarding the building up of this great nation, and at the
same time to entertain in such a manner as may stimulate to noble
deeds, is the real aim of these stories. In them there is nothing
of romance, but only a careful, truthful record of the part played
by children in the great battles with those forces, human as well as
natural, which, for so long a time, held a vast portion of this broad
land against the advance of home seekers.

With the knowledge of what has been done by our own people in our own
land, surely there is no reason why one should resort to fiction in
order to depict scenes of heroism, daring, and sublime disregard of
suffering in nearly every form.

                                                             JAMES OTIS.



CONTENTS


                                                    PAGE
  A CHANGE OF HOMES                                     9
  "JOE BOWERS"                                         10
  THE REASONS FOR MOVING                               12
  MOTHER'S ANXIETY                                     14
  HOW WE WERE TO TRAVEL                                15
  OUR MOVABLE HOME                                     18
  LEAVING ASHLEY                                       19
  EBEN JORDAN                                          22
  ON THE ROAD                                          25
  EBEN'S PREDICTIONS                                   26
  WHAT WE HEARD ABOUT CALIFORNIA                       27
  THE FIRST ENCAMPMENT                                 28
  NIGHT IN CAMP                                        31
  THE TOWN OF INDEPENDENCE                             32
  KANSAS INDIANS                                       34
  LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE FOR TROUBLE                  35
  A STORMY DAY                                         36
  A LACK OF FUEL                                       38
  MAKING CAMP IN A STORM                               40
  A THUNDERSTORM                                       42
  ANOTHER COMPANY OF PIKERS                            43
  THE STOCK STRAY AWAY                                 45
  AN INDIAN VILLAGE                                    47
  I WEARY WITH SO MUCH TRAVELING                       48
  EBEN'S BOASTS                                        50
  SUFFERING WITH THIRST                                51
  IN SEARCH OF WATER                                   53
  QUENCHING OUR THIRST                                 55
  MAKING BUTTER                                        57
  A KANSAS FERRY                                       58
  THE SURPRISE AT SOLDIER CREEK                        60
  BREAD MAKING                                         62
  PRAIRIE PEAS                                         63
  EBEN AS A HUNTER                                     65
  A HERD OF BUFFALOES                                  66
  EXCITEMENT IN THE CAMP                               67
  A FEAST OF BUFFALO MEAT                              68
  CURING THE MEAT                                      69
  A WASH DAY                                           71
  UNCOMFORTABLE TRAVELING                              72
  ELLEN'S ADVICE REGARDING THE STORY                   74
  INDIANS AND MOSQUITOES                               75
  PRAIRIE DOGS                                         77
  COLONEL RUSSELL'S MISHAP                             79
  CHIMNEY ROCK                                         81
  AT FORT LARAMIE                                      82
  COOKING IN FRONT OF A FIREPLACE                      84
  TRAPPERS, HUNTERS, AND INDIANS                       85
  ON THE TRAIL ONCE MORE                               87
  INDEPENDENCE ROCK                                    88
  ARRIVAL AT FORT BRIDGER                              90
  WITH OUR FACES TOWARD CALIFORNIA                     92
  AT BEAR RIVER                                        93
  THE COMING OF WINTER                                 94
  UTAH INDIANS                                         97
  A DANGEROUS TRAIL                                    98
  SUNFLOWER SEEDS AND ANTELOPE STEW                   100
  A FOREST FIRE                                       102
  THE GREAT SALT LAKE                                 104
  EBEN AS A FISHERMAN                                 105
  GRASSHOPPER JAM                                     107
  A DESERTED VILLAGE                                  109
  THE GREAT SALT DESERT                               111
  PREPARING FOR A DANGEROUS JOURNEY                   112
  BREAD AND COFFEE MAKING                             114
  BREAKING CAMP AT MIDNIGHT                           115
  THE APPROACH TO THE SALT DESERT                     117
  A PLAIN OF SALT                                     117
  LIKE A SEA OF FROZEN MILK                           119
  SALT DUST                                           120
  A BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT                             122
  COFFEE INSTEAD OF WATER                             122
  A SPRING OF SWEET WATER                             123
  THE OASIS                                           125
  SEARCHING FOR WATER                                 126
  THE BEAUTIFUL VALLEY                                128
  SNAKE INDIANS                                       130
  A SCARCITY OF FOOD                                  132
  SPRINGS OF HOT WATER                                133
  IN THE LAND OF PLENTY                               135
  THE TRUCKEE RIVER                                   136
  A HOME IN THE SACRAMENTO VALLEY                     138
  THE MISSION OF SAN JOSÉ                             139
  OUR HOME IN CALIFORNIA                              141



MARTHA OF CALIFORNIA



A CHANGE OF HOMES


In case one should ask in the years to come how it happened that I,
Martha Early, who was born in Ashley, Pike County, in the state of
Missouri, and lived there until I was twelve years old, journeyed
across the prairies and deserts to California, the question can be
answered if I write down what I saw when so many people from our county
went to make new homes in that state where gold had been found in such
abundance.

  [Illustration]

For my part, I used to wonder why people should be willing to leave
Missouri, enduring the many hardships they knew awaited them on the
journey of two thousand miles, in order to buy land in a country where
nearly all the inhabitants were Spaniards and Mexicans.

I suppose the stories told about the wonderful quantity of gold which
had suddenly been found in California caused our people to think
particularly of that far-off land. When the excitement of getting rich
by digging in the earth a few weeks or a few months had in a measure
died away, there came tales regarding the fertile soil and the beauty
of the country, until nearly every one in Pike County, as well as in
the county of the same name just across the Mississippi River in the
state of Illinois, much the same as had a fever for moving.

Perhaps that is why the people we met while journeying called all
the emigrants "Pikers." You see there were so many from both the Pike
counties who went into California in the year 1851, that it appeared to
strangers as if every person on the trail had come from Pike County.



"JOE BOWERS"


Then, too, fully half of all these emigrants were singing or whistling
that song of "Joe Bowers," which was supposed to have been written by
a Piker, and to represent a man from Missouri or Illinois.

Surely every one remembers it. The first verse, and if I have heard it
once I certainly have a thousand times, goes like this:--

     "My name it is Joe Bowers
       And I've got a brother Ike.
     I came from old Missouri,
       Yes, all the way from Pike."

The song was intended to show that this Joe Bowers came from our
county, and, perhaps, because so many of the emigrants were singing
it, all of us who went into California in the year 1851 were, as I have
said, called "Pikers."

However the name came about, I was a Piker, and before we arrived in
this wondrously beautiful country, I wished again and again that I had
been almost any other than an emigrant, for the way was long, and oh!
so wearisome.

  [Illustration]

I must always think of Missouri as being one of the best of all the
states in the Union, because it was there I was born and there I went
to school until father caught the California fever, which resulted in
our setting out on a journey which, for a time, seemed endless.

My father had no idea of going so far simply to dig for gold. He had
seen many who went across the country in 1849 believing they would come
back rich as kings, yet who returned home poorer in pocket than when
they left; therefore he came to understand that only a few of all that
vast army of miners who hastened into California after the discovery
at Sutter's Mill, got enough of the precious metal to pay for the food
they ate.

Father thought he could buy better land in California than was to be
found in Pike County, for to have heard the stories told by some of the
people who had come back disappointed from the land of gold, you might
have believed that one had only to put a few seeds at random in the
ground in order to gather marvelous crops.



THE REASONS FOR MOVING


Nor was my father the only man who put faith in at least some of
the fanciful tales told concerning the land of California which had
so lately been given up to the United States by the Spaniards. Our
neighbors for miles around were in a state of unrest and excitement,
until it was decided that nearly all would undertake the long journey,
and I could not prevent myself from wondering if Pike County would
not feel lonely to have the people abandon it, for it surely seemed as
if every man, woman, and child was making haste to leave Missouri in
search of the wondrous farming lands.

Mother looked woefully solemn when, on a certain evening, father came
home and told us that he had sold the plantation for about half as much
as it had cost him, and was going to join the next company that set out
from Pike County.

  [Illustration]

It was a long time before mother would have very much to say about
the journey, but as the days passed and the neighbors who were going
with us came to our home that they might talk over the preparations
for moving, she became interested in making plans, although again and
again, when we two were alone, she told me that this trailing over two
thousand miles of deserts and mountains was not to her liking.



MOTHER'S ANXIETY


It was only natural she should be worried about making such a great
change, for all father's worldly goods consisted of the Pike County
plantation and the live stock, and if, after selling the land and
spending very nearly all his money to provide for the journey, we found
that California farms were no better than the one we were leaving, it
would be the saddest kind of mistake.

  [Illustration]

"Your father has set his mind on going; the homestead has been sold,
and we must make the best of it, Martha, hoping that half the stories
we have heard about California are true," she said to me so many times
that I came almost to believe it was a foolish venture upon which we
were about to embark.

Then, when I began to wonder how we were to live during such a long
journey, and asked mother if it would be possible for us to cook and
churn and do the family washing while traveling in an ox wagon, she
would say with a sigh:--

"Don't, Martha, don't ask questions that I can't answer! It seems to me
almost certain that we shall starve to death before getting anywhere
near California, even if we are not killed by Indians or wild beasts,
without having had time to get very hungry or dirty."

Yet we did travel the two thousand miles, walking the greater part of
the way, and although there were many times when all of us were hungry,
none actually starved to death; nor were we killed by wild beasts or
Indians, else I could not be here in this beautiful place writing this
story.

Father spent days and days getting ready for the moving. After he
had finished the preparations, I thought the journey would not be so
terribly hard, because he had arranged everything so snug and cozy for
mother and me, that it really seemed as if we might take actual comfort
in case we could make shift to do housework in a wagon.



HOW WE WERE TO TRAVEL


We owned only four yoke of cattle, but with some of the money received
from the sale of the plantation, we bought as many more, which gave
us sixteen oxen. We were to take with us all five of the cows and both
the horses, on which father said mother and I might ride when we were
tired of sitting in the wagon; but I knew what kind of animals ours
were under the saddle, and said to myself that it would be many a long
day before I would trust myself on the back of either.

It would have done you good to see our movable home after father had
made it ready, and by that I mean the wagon in which mother and I were
to ride. It was small compared with the other, in which were to be
carried enough furniture for a single room, farming tools, grain for
the cattle, and a host of things; but I did not give much heed to the
load because I was so deeply interested in what was to be a home for
mother and me during many a month.

That wagon was enough to attract the attention of any girl, for, fitted
up as I first saw it, the inside looked really like a playhouse, and
when I said as much to father, he declared that I was indeed the right
kind of girl to go into a wild country, if I could find anything like
sport during the tramp from Pike County to California.

I surely must tell you about that wagon before setting down anything
concerning the journey. It was what is known as a Conestoga, and one
may see many of the same kind on the Santa Fe or the Oregon trail.
Imagine a boxlike cart nearly as long as an ordinary bedroom and so
wide that I could stretch myself out at full length across the body.
The top and sides were covered with osnaburg sheeting, which is cloth
made of flax or tow. Some people really sleep between sheets made of
that coarse stuff, but it is so rough and irritating to the flesh that
I had far rather lie on the floor than in a bed where it is used.

  [Illustration]

Osnaburg sheeting makes excellent wagon covers, however, for the rain
cannot soak through the cloth, and it is so cheap that one can well
afford to use it in double thickness, which serves to keep out the wind
as well as the water.



OUR MOVABLE HOME


The front of the wagon and a small window-like place at the end were
left open, but could be securely closed with curtains that buttoned at
the sides.

Around the inside of the wagon were hung such things as we might need
to use often during the journey. There were pots and pans, towels,
clothing, baskets, and two rifles, for father believed weapons might be
required when we came upon disagreeable savages, or if game was to be
found within shooting distance.

Our cookstove was set up at the rear end of the wagon, where it could
be pushed out on a small shelf fastened to the rear axle, when we
wanted to use it. A most ingenious contrivance we found that shelf to
be, for mother and I could remain inside the wagon and do our cooking
in stormy weather; but those women of the company whose husbands had
not been so thoughtful were forced to stay out of doors while preparing
a meal, no matter how hard it might be raining.

Our beds were laid in the bottom of the wagon and covered with the
bedclothes to save them from being badly soiled, as would be likely if
we slept upon them at night, and cooked, ate, and did the housework on
them during the daytime.

We did not try to carry many dishes, because there were so many chances
they would be broken, but nearly everything of the kind we used was of
metal, such as tin or iron.

Underneath the cart were hung buckets, the churn, lanterns, and such a
collection of articles that I could not but fancy people might believe
we were peddlers carrying so large an assortment of goods that they had
overrun the wagon body.

What puzzled me before we started on the journey was how we could
persuade the cows to travel as we would have them; but I soon came to
understand that it was a simple matter.



LEAVING ASHLEY


You must know that father was not the only man in Ashley that intended
to build up a new home in California. More than half of the people
were making preparations for the journey, and when we finally set off
the procession was very imposing, with more than fifty wagons, not one
of them drawn by less than three yoke of oxen or four pairs of mules;
there were cows almost without number and a flock of thirty or forty
sheep.

I said to myself then, that we need have no fear the savages would try
to make trouble for us, because when they saw so many people, the poor,
ignorant things would believe everybody on the banks of the Mississippi
was heading for California, and it would be a very brave Indian who
dared be other than polite to such a large company.

  [Illustration]

Even though you had never before heard of Pike County, it would have
been most interesting to see the people of Ashley on the morning we
set off. As Ellen Morgan, a particular friend of mine who was going to
California also, said to me just before we drove away, "It is much as
if all the folks in the world had come to see us leave town."

The streets were actually thronged, as I have heard it said the streets
of a large city oftentimes are, and what with the shouts of the men,
the screams of the children, and the lowing of the cattle, it was quite
as much as I could do to make myself heard when I tried to tell Ellen
that at the last minute mother had given permission for her to ride in
our wagon.

Of course the noise in the street could not have been as great as I
fancied, for Ellen had no trouble in hearing me, as was shown when she
came running back to our wagon with her Sunday frock and other valuable
things neatly done up in a corn sack.

Then it seemed to me that no improvement could be made upon our manner
of traveling, for we two girls were to be together all the while, and
even when the weather was stormy, it would seem really cozy under our
double thickness of osnaburg cloth.

  [Illustration]

It surprised me very much because mother acted as if it saddened her to
set off on what could not fail to be a delightful journey. I saw tears
in her eyes when she came out of our old home for the last time, and
wondered if she was sorry because she was leaving the house where we
had lived so long, or whether she believed we would never find another
such delightful town as Ashley.

  [Illustration]

Of course I felt just a little tearful when those people who were to
remain at home gathered around the wagon to say "good-by"; but there
were so many of our neighbors in the company we would not have a chance
to be lonely, and I was certain that all the friends we were leaving
behind would soon join us, having come to realize, as had father, that
California was the only proper place in which to live.



EBEN JORDAN


If I could have had everything arranged exactly to please me, I would
have insisted that Eben Jordan be left in Ashley. He is a boy about six
months older than I, who always seems to take the greatest delight in
teasing us girls. I had no doubt but that he would be very disagreeable
at times, and felt, on that first day, as if there could be no cloud on
the California skies if Eben had remained in Pike County.

It is no more than fair for me to say, however, that, much as I
disliked the boy, Eben Jordan was one who ever kept his ears open to
the conversation of his elders and was more than willing to repeat to
Ellen and me whatever he learned.

Even before our company had left Ashley, he told us the journey was to
be begun by first going to Independence, a town on the Missouri River
where the Santa Fe traders and those who would journey by the Oregon
trail made ready for the long march.

  [Illustration]

Up to this time I had had no idea of how we were to get to California,
save we drove directly across the prairies and over the mountains,
always in a westerly direction.

But I must have understood that we could not strike off across the
country in any direction we fancied, because we must follow some trail
in order to find a plentiful supply of grass for the cattle and mules
and sheep, as well as water for ourselves.

Eben said that the leaders of the company, among whom was my father,
had talked not a little regarding the country through which we should
pass. Thus he learned that we would journey over what is known as the
Oregon trail as far as Fort Bridger, after which, striking off to the
southward somewhat, we would go along the shores of the Great Salt
Lake, past Ogden's Hole, to the land of the Bannock Indians. Then the
course was to be as nearly westward as the foothills would permit.

"It will be a rare time for us all," Eben said gleefully, after having
told us girls that we would journey nearly two thousand miles before
coming to that land for which we sought. "There will be game until
a fellow can't rest, and after we are once well on the way, we shall
come upon Indian tribe after Indian tribe, when you girls will be only
too glad to shelter yourselves under my wing, for there is no knowing
what the savages may take it into their heads to do, providing the
opportunity offers."

Ellen was not a little displeased because Eben seemingly believed we
would be glad of his protection, and I really felt uneasy in mind when
the lad left us to go to his father's wagon, saying:--

"It isn't well for you girls to be so high and mighty, because before
this journey has come to an end you may be glad that I am willing to
lend a hand."

Ellen laughed at the idea that the time would ever come when we
might accept a favor from Eben Jordan. She seemed so certain nothing
disagreeable could happen to us while our company was so large, that
I soon put away all forebodings and gave strict attention to what was
before us.



ON THE ROAD


It had taken our fathers considerable time to get the people and the
cattle in proper marching order; but once this was done, they gave the
word for the procession to move forward, and the people at Ashley whom
we were leaving behind cheered us wildly as we went slowly out from the
town.

  [Illustration]

It seemed much like taking part in some wondrous celebration, to be
riding thus amid those who were cheering and, I dare say, envying us.

Mother was content to sit inside the wagon, where father had placed a
short-legged chair for her convenience, but Ellen and I remained on the
front seat where we could see all that was going on, and until we were
well clear of the town it did seem to me that I was a very important
person.

It was late in the forenoon before we started, therefore no halt was to
be made for dinner, but this gave me little uneasiness, for mother had
an ample supply of cooked provisions on hand.

Our neighbors at Ashley had spoken again and again of the hardships
which we would encounter before arriving at the shores of the Pacific
Ocean, and I said to Ellen, when we were two or three miles from the
town, that I could not understand how any one could believe such a
journey might be either wearisome or dangerous.



EBEN'S PREDICTIONS


Surely we were as comfortable as two girls could be, with a covering
over our heads in case it rained, and enough food to satisfy our
desires.

Therefore what difference did it make, as I said to Ellen, whether we
were five months or six on the march? Eben Jordan, who had come back
from his father's wagon along the line of procession as if to see that
everything was right, overhearing my words, replied with a laugh, which
sounded to me very disagreeable:--

"You may well say, Martha Early, that this portion of the journey is
easy. We are now traveling on a beaten road, with nothing to prevent
our going forward at the best pace of the oxen. Wait until we have
really started, after having come to Independence, and leave the
highway to take to the trail. You will find the wagon tumbling and
pitching over the rocks, or floundering across fords, where watch must
be kept sharply against the Indians, and every man needs to have his
eyes open lest he be attacked by wild beasts. Then you shall say to
me whether it makes no difference to you if this journey requires five
months or six."

I refused to listen to the lad, who seemed to find the greatest
pleasure in making other people uncomfortable in mind, and I turned
toward Ellen, as if speaking to her very earnestly in whispers, thereby
causing Eben to believe I had not heard what he said, whereupon he went
off laughing.



WHAT WE HEARD ABOUT CALIFORNIA


We had heard people talking about the wonderful fortunes to be found
in California, until it seemed as if we might become rich simply by
digging in the ground a bit; but, as you shall hear, before our journey
had come to an end we understood that however much valuable metal there
might be in the earth, it was not to be gathered like pebbles.

We met on our way hundreds of people who had gone into California with
great expectations and were coming back poorer than when they set out;
but on the first day we were ignorant of all this, and quite convinced
that it was a simple matter to become wealthy by a very little labor.

Before night came there was to me less pleasure than during the
first hour or two. The wagon jolted over the roads roughly, making
it necessary to hold firmly to the seat, lest I be thrown off, and it
became wearisome to sit so long in one position.

Mother, who stretched herself out upon a bed in the bottom of the wagon
when she was tired of sitting upright, did not weary so soon of this
kind of traveling; but nevertheless she was quite as well pleased as
Ellen and I, when, about four o'clock in the afternoon, word was given
that we should halt and make camp.



THE FIRST ENCAMPMENT


We were yet in a fairly thickly settled portion of the country; but
the leaders of our company determined to make the encampment exactly as
if we were on the prairie or among the mountains, where there might be
danger from wild beasts or wilder savages, and you may well fancy that
Ellen and I were on our feet as soon as the wagon came to a stop, for
we had heard so much of this camp making that both of us were eager to
see how it was done.

All the wagons were drawn up in a large circle so that the tongue of
one came close to the tailboard of another, and just inside this ring
of vehicles were set up small tents, which many of the company were to
use at night because their families were so large that every one could
not be given room in the wagons.

Inside this row of tents were picketed the horses, or, at least, they
were to be picketed as soon as night should come; but when we first
halted they were fastened out upon the plain where they might eat the
grass, while the oxen, cows, and sheep were turned loose with half a
dozen of the men and boys watching lest they should stray.

  [Illustration]

Because the people were not accustomed to thus making an encampment,
no little time was spent in getting everything into what the leaders of
the company believed to be proper order, and then our mothers set about
cooking supper.

In our wagon the stove was pushed back upon the shelf made expressly
for it, short lengths of pipe were run through the osnaburg cloth and
tied by wire to the topmost part of the rear wagon bow, so they might
be held straight, and then mother set about her work much as if she had
been at home.

It was most pleasant camping in the open air, and before we had been
halted an hour the place was quite homelike.

At nearly every wagon one or more women were making ready for supper;
a short distance away the men and the boys were herding the cattle, and
near by, inside or out of the inclosure, were scores and scores of idle
ones, who, their work being done, were now enjoying a time of rest.

  [Illustration]

There was much talking and shouting, but above all one could hear that
song of the true Pikers:--

     "My name it is Joe Bowers,
       And I've got a brother Ike.
     I came from old Missouri,
       Yes, all the way from Pike."



NIGHT IN CAMP


How Ellen and I enjoyed the supper on this first night of the journey!
Mother made sour-milk biscuit; the stove worked to perfection, as if
delighted because it was being carried to California; and what with
cold meat and steaming hot tea it seemed as if I had never tasted
anything better than that meal.

Although we had enjoyed ourselves hugely, especially during the first
part of the day's march, both Ellen and I were tired, and when mother
said we might make up our bed on the bottom of the wagon, we were not
only willing, but eager to do so, for after the hearty supper it seemed
as if sleep had become a necessity.

Once we had crossed over into Dreamland, our eyes were not opened again
until the sun was near to rising; then the shouts of the men and the
lowing of the cattle caused us to spring up suddenly, almost fancying
that the camp had been attacked by savages, even though we were not yet
out of Pike County.

If I had the time, it would please me to describe the journey from our
home in Ashley to a town known as Independence, on the Missouri River,
where the Oregon trail begins; but since, as father said again and
again, we did not really start until we had struck the Oregon trail,
it is best that I leave out all that happened while we were coming from
Pike County to the Missouri River.



THE TOWN OF INDEPENDENCE


We traveled slowly, because the cows were not easily herded, and, as
Eben Jordan said, none of our people were accustomed to such kind of
marching.

  [Illustration]

We did, however, finally arrive at the real starting point after eight
days, during which time Ellen and I came to understand that, however
pleasant it was to sit in the wagon and look out upon the country
through which we passed, it might grow wearisome.

Ellen and I had fancied we would see something very new and wonderful
at Independence, and yet, while everything was strange and there was
much to attract one's attention, it was not so very different from
other settlements through which we had passed.

There was, however, a constant bustle and confusion such as one could
not see elsewhere. Enormous wagons, which Eben Jordan said belonged
to the traders who went over the Santa Fe trail, were coming into
town or going out, each drawn by eight or ten mules and accompanied by
Spaniards or Negroes, until one could but wonder where so many people
were going.

  [Illustration]

There were trains, much like our own, belonging to settlers who were
going into Oregon, or, like ourselves, into California. Those were
halted just outside the town, until the entire settlement was literally
surrounded, while among them all, near the wagons of the traders as
well as those of the emigrants, lounged Indians, nothing like the
people I had imagined the savages to be.



KANSAS INDIANS


  [Illustration]

As Ellen said, if that was the kind of Indian we should meet with
during the journey, then we need have little or no fear, for the
savages we saw at Independence were nothing more nor less than beggars,
who would greedily pick up and devour anything eatable that was thrown
at them. Eben Jordan made himself ridiculous by marching around armed
with a rifle, and a huge knife thrust in his belt, as if expecting each
instant to be called upon to defend his life.

  [Illustration]

We were tired of the settlement, even before we had fairly arrived, and
after Ellen and I walked through the town, wondering not a little at
seeing a number of the houses and stores built entirely of brick, we
were content to return to our own encampment, which was about half a
mile out on the prairie.



LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE FOR TROUBLE


Up to this time mother and I had but little trouble in preparing the
meals whenever we came to a halt; but I heard some of the men say that
within a few days after we were once on the trail, all this would be
changed. There would be many times when we might not find sufficient
fuel to keep a fire in the stove, when we would feel the pangs of
thirst because of not being able to get enough water, and when, the
stock of provisions which we had brought with us having been consumed,
we would know what it was to be hungry.

When I repeated to mother what I had heard, she nodded her head
sadly, replying that she had thought of all these things when father
first determined to seek a new home in the California country, and
she doubted not that we would come to know much suffering, before we
arrived at our journey's end.

As may be supposed, I was not in a cheerful mood when Ellen and I went
to bed that night. During the half hour or more while we lay there
wakeful, we spoke of all the possibilities of the future, and almost
regretted that our parents had decided to leave Pike County, for
surely they could find nowhere on the face of this earth a place more
agreeable in which to live.



A STORMY DAY


When another morning came, it surely seemed as if all my fears were
about to be realized, for the day dawned dark and forbidding, the rain
came down in torrents, while the wind sighed and moaned as it drove
floods of water from one end of the wagon to the other, wetting us
completely even before we were awake.

I could not believe father would set off on the journey at such a time
as this, and was wondering how we should be able to cook breakfast,
when he called to mother that she make ready the morning meal, for in
half an hour the train would be in motion.

No one had been sufficiently thoughtful to store beneath the wagon a
supply of dry fuel, and the consequence was that we had nothing with
which to build a fire, save a few armfuls of water-soaked wood which
father and Eben Jordan succeeded in gathering, for where so many
emigrants were encamped, fuel of any kind was indeed scarce.

  [Illustration]

I almost forgave Eben for having appeared so ridiculous when he
strutted around fully armed, as I saw him striving to gather wood for
us when he might have remained under the cover of his father's wagon;
indeed, before many days passed both Ellen and I saw that there was
much good in the boy's heart, even though he was too often disposed to
make matters disagreeable for us girls.



A LACK OF FUEL


Mother and I made our first attempt at cooking while the stove was
beneath the wagon cover and the pipe thrust out through the hole in the
rear.

  [Illustration]

If we had had plenty of dry wood, I have no doubt but that the work
could have been done with some degree of comfort; but as it was, we
were put to our wits' ends, even to get sufficient heat to boil the
water, and when word was given for the company to start, we had not
really begun to cook the breakfast.

Of course it would have been dangerous for us to attempt to keep a fire
burning while the wagon was moving. Therefore we would have been forced
to set off without breakfast, had not Ellen's mother kindly sent us
some corn bread which she had baked the night before, and this, with
fresh milk, made up our meal.

At the time I thought I was much injured because of not having more
food; but before we had come to the land of California I often looked
back upon that morning with longing, remembering the meal of corn bread
and milk as though it was a feast.

During all the long day, except for half an hour at noon, the
patient oxen plodded wearily on amid the rain, oftentimes sinking
fetlock-deep in the marshy places. Everything was damp and every place
uncomfortable, and at times it seemed as if I could no longer bear up
under the suffering.

In order to teach me that, instead of grumbling, I ought to be thankful
for the comforts I could enjoy, mother told me to look at those who
were exposed to the storm. I saw father and the other men walking
beside the oxen, the rain pelting down upon them pitilessly; I heard
the cry of a baby in pain; and I soon came to understand that my lot
was far less hard than that of many others.

She read me a lesson on patience and contentment, whatever might
be my surroundings, until I grew ashamed of having shown myself so
disagreeable.



MAKING CAMP IN A STORM


Determined as I was to make the best of whatever might happen, I
could not but be disheartened when, nearly at nightfall, we halted to
make camp again. The rain was still descending like a cloud-burst;
everything around us, including the bedding, seemed saturated with
water. Yet I saw the men spread the thin cloth tents, after the wagons
had been drawn up in a circle, or made into a corral as the travelers
on the trail call it; I saw them wade ankle-deep in the mud, but with
never an impatient word or gesture. It appeared sufficient to them if
their women and children could enjoy some little degree of comfort.

  [Illustration]

Again we strove to do our cooking under the wagon covers, and again we
were in need of fuel. Ellen and I, with the skirts of our gowns over
our heads for protection, scurried here and there, picking up twigs and
crying out with delight when we came upon a piece of wood as large as
one's fist.

You can well imagine what kind of supper we had that night. The inside
of the wagon was filled with smoke, for the short length of stovepipe
did not afford a strong draft, and mother labored, with the tears
streaming down her cheeks, to fry as much bacon as would satisfy our
hunger.

The smoke was so dense that we all wept, smiling even in the midst of
our seeming tears when father said, after he had milked the cows and
had brought in quite as much water as milk, that it was a question
with him whether he could stand better the smoke or the rain. He was
inclined to think he had rather be soaked with water than cured like a
ham.

Again Eben Jordan showed his kindness of heart, for he insisted upon
helping this man and that, milk the cows and herd the oxen and sheep,
and he did whatever came to his hand, all the while humming "Joe
Bowers."

When Eben came into our wagon later in the evening, Ellen and I treated
him very kindly, for we were coming to understand that this boy, who
found so much pleasure in vexing us girls, was ever ready to do a good
turn to another, even when it cost him much labor and discomfort.



A THUNDERSTORM


During all that night it rained; but shortly after midnight there came
up such a terrific storm of thunder and lightning that it seemed as if
the very heavens were bursting.

Then all our men and boys were forced to go and quiet the cattle, for
the beasts were even as frightened as we girls were, and, so father
said, would have stampeded, leaving us to spend the next day searching
for them on the prairies, had it not been for the precautions of our
people.

When I complained to mother, just after father had gone out into the
tempest, that this journey to California was nothing like what I had
pictured it, she said mildly that if I was growing disheartened now, it
would have been better had I never set out from Pike County, for thus
far matters had gone much to our convenience and that shortly we would
find real trials and real troubles.

Next morning, however, my spirits rose, for the sun was shining
brightly when I awoke; but word was passed around the camp that
instead of setting off at once, we might spend two hours drying the bed
clothing and such of our belongings as had been saturated during the
storm.

Then there was presented such a scene as would have interested any one
who had never witnessed the like before. On every wagon tongue were
hung blankets and garments of all kinds, and over the wheels of each
cart lay feather beds or bolsters, until it must have looked as if
every member of our company had spent a day in washing, and was now
about to do the ironing.

  [Illustration]

Eben Jordan went here and there, aiding this one or that when he had
done what he might for his mother, all the while singing "My name it
is Joe Bowers," until, even before our breakfast had been cooked, fully
half the company were joining in that foolish song. Mother said almost
fretfully, when Ellen and I took up the refrain, that she wished the
senseless words had never been written, or that we had never heard
them.



ANOTHER COMPANY OF PIKERS


Although we started off late that morning, owing to the drying out, we
halted early in the afternoon, for we had come upon a company of men
and women who, like ourselves, were bound for the land of California.
The leader of the company was Colonel Russell.

  [Illustration]

To my surprise and delight these people also proved to be Pikers,
having come from a settlement about twenty miles south of our old home.
You may readily fancy how enjoyable was that evening, when we visited
from wagon to wagon, listening to the stories of what had thus far
happened to the company, and repeating our own adventures, if such they
could be called.

While we women and girls were thus engaged, the men of both companies
decided to travel together, believing that by increasing the number
there might be less danger from the Indians, for Eben Jordan said that
the savages we saw at Independence were but imitations of the fiercer
ones whom we were most likely to meet before our journey's end.



THE STOCK STRAY AWAY


I suppose it was the excitement occasioned by the meeting with Colonel
Russell's company, which caused our men in charge of the cattle to be
careless during the evening and later in the night, for when morning
came we found that nearly all the oxen and a goodly number of the cows
had strayed from the camp and disappeared completely.

When Eben Jordan first told us of this, I believed a great disaster
had come upon us; but straightway father and half a dozen of the other
men mounted the horses and set off across the prairie in search of the
missing cattle, as if this was trouble to be expected.

In fact, before many days passed, I came to look upon the straying or
the stampeding of the live stock as of little consequence.

We had plenty of time to cook breakfast that morning while the men were
searching over the prairie for the cattle, and, much to my surprise,
within three hours all the stock had been brought into the encampment
and we were making ready once more for the day's journey.

  [Illustration]

Before noon we arrived at Blue Creek, where we had, as it seemed to me,
much trouble because the trail leading to the stream was deep with mud,
and the bottom of the creek so soft that our people were forced to wade
waist-deep on either side of the wagons, lest the wheels sink so far
down that the oxen would not be able to pull the heavy loads across.

Again and again the men laid hold of the wheels, straining every muscle
as the drivers of the cattle urged the patient beasts to their utmost
exertions, and before all our company had crossed that small creek
the day was so nearly at an end that there was nothing left for us to
do save camp once more, although we had traveled only six miles since
setting out.

Then came Sunday morning, when I believed we would remain idle, for
it did not seem right that we should travel on the Lord's day; but, as
father said, while we were making such a long journey it was necessary
to push ahead during every hour of fair weather, and to take our day of
rest only when it was absolutely necessary.

And so, instead of worshiping God as we would have done had we
remained in Pike County, we went forward, fording two small creeks and
journeying over a dull, level plain, whereon, save flowers, nothing was
to be seen to delight the eye.



AN INDIAN VILLAGE


Within an hour of sunset we came to a veritable Indian village,
although there were not many of the savages living in it, and Ellen and
I took advantage of this first opportunity to see the redskins in their
homes.

There were but four men, with perhaps a dozen women and children, all
living in lodges made of smoke-dried skins, and looking exceedingly
dirty and disagreeable.

We girls were not inclined to linger there long, although the Indians
were willing we should, and when our short visit had been brought to
a close, they followed us, clustering around our wagons and waiting
patiently for food to be thrown to them.

  [Illustration]

From this time on during a full week we continued to push steadily
forward, moving so slowly that even we girls could understand the
journey would be exceedingly long and wearisome.



I WEARY WITH SO MUCH TRAVELING


More than once did I reproach myself with having been so eager to leave
Pike County, and many times I said to myself that a girl who has a
happy home is indeed foolish to wish for a change, lest, like Ellen and
me, they find, as mother often says, that they have jumped out of the
frying pan into the fire.

One day was much like another. Now the trail would be hard underfoot
and the traveling easy, and again we would cross a stream, the bottom
lands of which were so marshy that the oxen lugged and strained at
their yokes, until oftentimes it was necessary to double up the teams
in order that the heavy wagons could be pulled over the soft footing.

  [Illustration]

The only thing I remember which came to break the monotony of the slow
march was when, on a certain evening, father returned with his pockets
and hands full of wild onions which he had found on the prairie.
Because our meals had consisted chiefly of corn bread and salted meat,
I said to myself that now we would have a feast.

But alas! those wild onions were like my dreams about traveling to the
land of California. While they looked fair on the outside before being
cooked, they were so strong to the taste that one nearly choked in
trying to eat them.



EBEN'S BOASTS


Eben Jordan, hearing of my disappointment, said with a laugh that when
we came to the country where game was to be found he intended to bring
into camp all the fresh meat the company could eat, and one might have
thought from the way the boy talked that he believed himself capable of
feeding all our company unaided.

It would have been well if Eben had contented himself with predicting
the marvels which he counted on performing; but, instead, he reminded
me that before we had come into the Land of Promise I might be
more than willing to eat wild onions and "smack my lips over the
disagreeable food."

It seems that he heard, while in Independence, of the sufferings of
some people who had journeyed over that same trail, when they found
no game and their provisions were consumed before the march came to an
end.

It would have been better, so I said to him, if he had not repeated
such things, for surely we were getting all the discomfort that was
needed to show how foolish we had been in leaving Pike County, where no
one suffered from hunger or thirst, if he had a tongue in his head to
make known his desires.

It seemed almost as if the boy was a real prophet, for within a few
hours Ellen and I did come to know what thirst--bitter, parching
thirst--was like.

We had started out one morning when the rays of the sun beat down upon
us so fervently that the wagon covering seemed to be no protection, and
the only relief we had was from the gentle breeze which was blowing,
not with sufficient force to relieve our suffering, but enough to
prevent us from being literally baked.


SUFFERING WITH THIRST

We drank, as did all our company, of the water which we carried in kegs
stowed in the wagons, and gave no heed to the fact that the supply was
scanty, for until this time there had never been any lack of water.

At noon even the breeze died away; there was not a cloud in the sky,
the trail was smooth and hard, running over what father called the
tableland of the prairie, and the heat so intense that there were times
when it surely seemed as if I could not longer continue to breathe.

Then, when our sufferings were seemingly as great as they could
possibly be, mother discovered that our store of water had been
exhausted, and called to father, asking that he get a supply from one
of the other wagons.

It seemed strange to me then, and does even now, that at almost the
same time all our company had run short of water, and from one end
of the long train to the other we could not beg enough to moisten our
tongues.

  [Illustration]

Perhaps it was the knowledge that I could not quench my thirst which
caused me to suffer more severely, and when father said we must travel
no less than twelve miles before coming to any stream, my heart sank
within me.

Ellen was suffering quite as much as I, except that she had the good
sense to hold her peace, and mother, patient with me as ever, said all
she could to prevent me from dwelling too much upon my condition.

Nor was I the only one in that company to suffer severely. Whenever the
train came to a halt that the cattle might have a breathing spell, I
could hear the smaller children crying for something to drink, and once
during the afternoon Eben Jordan came alongside our wagon, asking if
our water kegs were empty.

Then I saw upon his face that look of eagerness and desire such as I
had read on Ellen's, and when I told him we were suffering from thirst
even more than any other members of the company, he shook his head and
replied:--

"It is the younger ones who suffer the most, Martha Early, for they
cannot be made to understand that it is necessary to wait; while you
and I, who are older, know it is only a case of grinning and bearing it
as best we may."



IN SEARCH OF WATER


I was irritated because Eben should read me a lesson, for indeed his
words sounded like a reproof. I turned away from him, saying to myself
that if it was not possible to make the oxen move more rapidly, there
was danger of my dying, all of which was foolishness, even wickedness,
as you will agree.

  [Illustration]

To force the beasts to a more rapid pace was absolutely impossible.
Already the sheep as well as the oxen were showing signs of exhaustion
and panting for water. Their tongues were hanging out, and they moved
slowly as if unable to go farther, while five of the cows had dropped
down on the trail as if dying.

We were forced to leave them behind, fearing lest if time was spent in
trying to get the beasts on their feet again, more of the stock would
fall.

  [Illustration]

I hardly knew how the remainder of that day passed, for I gave no heed
to anything save my own suffering, thereby showing myself wickedly
selfish, until a great shout went up from those who were in advance,
telling that at last, after what seemed like many, many long hours, we
had come within sight of a stream of water.

Then the oxen, wild with thirst and smelling the dampness in the air,
plunged forward as if in a fury, for the drivers were unable to hold
them in check.

In a mad race went every yoke of the cattle, drawing the heavy wagons
that lurched first on one side and then on the other as we went over
the uneven surface of the trail, until all the contents which had been
stowed so carefully were thrown violently about, while we girls and
mother had the greatest difficulty to save ourselves from being flung
out.



QUENCHING OUR THIRST


The oxen continued on until every yoke of them stood in the creek, and
there they halted, drinking eagerly until their sides swelled out as if
bursting.

Regardless of the fact that our wagon was standing in not less than
twelve inches of water, Ellen and I leaped out and drank from the
stream like dogs, too thirsty to wait longer.

I have been in need of water many times since that day, but never have
I suffered so keenly, and I now understand that the distress which
well-nigh overcame me was caused for the most part by my foolishly
dwelling upon the lack of water, whereas if I had forced myself to
think of other matters, much pain might have been avoided.

It was impossible to force the oxen across the creek, and we were
obliged to make camp on the easterly side, for it seemed as if they
would never have done with drinking.

When they were so full that it was impossible to swallow another
mouthful, they refused to cross, but struggled to get among the rich
grass which covered the bottom lands of the creek.

  [Illustration]

After the horses, as well as the men and the cattle, had been thus
refreshed, half a dozen of our people, among whom was Eben Jordan, rode
back on the trail, hoping to drive in some of the cows that had fallen
by the wayside. It was not until a late hour in the evening that they
returned, bringing with them only two of the animals.

Thus we suffered our first loss on the journey, and it seemed to me
a most serious matter; but even before we had come to the trail which
led to California, the loss of even twice as many cattle could not have
disturbed me, for I had come to believe that we should arrive at that
Land of Promise, if indeed we were so fortunate as to survive, almost
empty-handed, owing to the difficulties of the way which the beasts
could not overcome.

The next day's march was ended early in the afternoon, because then we
had come to a stream, and those who were familiar with the trail knew
we could not arrive at another place where water would be found until
late in the night.



MAKING BUTTER


So we encamped early, and mother decided to set about churning, for
long ago our store of butter had been exhausted. We had but a small
quantity of cream, all of which had been saved since morning.

No sooner had she begun her work than fully half the women of the
company followed her example, and at the side or in the rear of nearly
every wagon was a churn set out with either the girls or the boys
working the dasher.

As Eben Jordan said when he offered to spell me at the churn, it looked
as if we people, who had set out from Ashley to find a new home in the
land of California, had decided to abandon the idea and turn all our
attention to making butter.

  [Illustration]

Next morning we were forced to continue the journey before having
breakfast, for we were nearing the Kansas River, and would arrive there
about noon if the march was begun as soon as daylight. Even then there
would be hardly more than time before the sun set to get all our train
over, for the stream was so deep that it could not be forded, and we
must send the wagons across in boats.



A KANSAS FERRY


Although we were, as one might have supposed, in an uninhabited
country, father told me that at this crossing of the Kansas River
was a ferry owned by two half-breed Indians, who made a business of
freighting heavy wagons across for a fee of one dollar each; but all
the live stock would be forced to swim.

Now since none of the boats could carry more than one wagon at a time,
you may readily understand how many hours would be needed in order to
get all our train from one side of the river to the other, even though
it was no more than two hundred yards from bank to bank. Therefore, as
I have said, it was necessary we arrive at the ferry at the earliest
possible moment, lest night overtake us while half the company yet
remained on the eastern shore.

  [Illustration]

The ferryboats were nothing more than square, shallow boxes, which the
Indians pushed across by poles, after the cargo of wagons had been put
on board.

Of course the women and the girls had nothing to do with this ferrying,
save to remain under the wagon coverings where they would be out of the
way. I envied Eben Jordan, who could move about at will, for verily my
heart was in my mouth, so to speak, during all the time we were working
our slow way across the stream, fearing lest our boat should sink
beneath us.



THE SURPRISE AT SOLDIER CREEK


Not until nearly six o'clock were all our company on the western side
of the river, and then I supposed that we would immediately make camp;
but to my surprise word was given for the train to move on, and we
journeyed three miles more, coming to the bank of Soldier Creek before
darkness.

It was at this place that a most pleasant surprise awaited us. Colonel
Russell's wife, who had walked ahead while our train was being ferried
across the river, found quantities and quantities of wild strawberries
near the camping place. As soon as we women and girls arrived, we set
about gathering the berries, until each family had a good supply of
the luscious fruit. Milk was not a poor substitute for cream to us who
had been living upon corn bread and salt meat ever since we left the
settlement of Independence.

During the next two days we traveled steadily onward, slowly, to be
sure, but yet each step, as Ellen said again and again, was taking us
nearer the end of the journey. In time I came to be impatient whenever
a halt was called, so eager was I to have done with riding, for however
comfortable a girl might make herself in one of the wagons, her limbs
were certain to become cramped before night.

  [Illustration]

On the third day after crossing the Kansas River, the leaders of our
company decided that a halt was needed in order to give the animals a
rest. Their hoofs had become dry and cracked from traveling over the
matted grass of last year, which covered the prairie even beneath the
new crop, and it was necessary that something be done for them without
delay.

I had been looking forward to a full day's halt, even though impatient
when we were not moving forward, for Ellen and I had planned to wander
as far from the encampment as we could, searching for flowers and wild
peas, which grew there in great abundance, so we had been told.



BREAD MAKING


Mother decided that now had come a time when she must bake a plentiful
supply of bread, for she was determined not to be put to such straits
as we were during the rain storm, when it was next to impossible to
build a fire in the stove, and, of course, I was glad to do whatever I
might to aid her.

  [Illustration]

Before father had fairly got the stove out of the wagon and set up
where it could be most conveniently used, nearly every other woman in
the company had decided to follow mother's example, and then came such
a scene as was presented when each family did its churning.

In the rear or at the side of nearly every wagon a stove was set up,
and one might see everywhere women rolling or kneading dough, girls
running about on errands, and boys doing their share by keeping the
fires going.

I must say to Eben Jordan's credit that he was of great assistance to
mother and me that day. If he had been a saint upon earth, he could
not have done more or worked with greater patience than he did, running
from stove to stove when the other boys had neglected their duties.

Mother told him laughingly that many times while we lived in Ashley she
had been vexed because of the boyish pranks he played; but from this
time onward she should remember what he had done in the way of aiding
the cooks, and would overlook almost anything which mischief might
prompt him to do.



PRAIRIE PEAS


The baking came to an end, so far as our family was concerned,
shortly after noon; then Ellen and I, taking Eben with us as guide and
protector, went out in search of peas and brought home enough to supply
several families, who had been neighbors of ours, with a generous mess.


Save for the fact that these prairie peas look somewhat like those we
have at home, I could find no likeness between the two varieties. The
wild peas have a tough rind, and there are several seeds in the middle
of each; but after they have been boiled and allowed to remain in
vinegar a few hours, they make a fairly pleasing dish.

  [Illustration]

When we began the march once more, I hoped to see the cattle moving
more spiritedly than before the halt; but in this I was mistaken. It
seemed to me that they limped painfully, and worse than ever; that I
was not mistaken was proved, to my satisfaction at least, when I heard
father and another man saying to each other that before many days we
should be forced to kill two or three whose feet were in the worst
condition.

However, the days went on and our cattle continued to work fairly
well, although I noticed that when we came to rough places, such as the
crossing of a stream, where it was necessary to climb a high bank on
the opposite side, the drivers were forced to double up the teams more
often than before, because the poor creatures could not haul so heavy
a load as when we first started out.



EBEN AS A HUNTER


Within a week from the time of leaving Soldier Creek, Eben Jordan
was indeed puffed up with pride. He came into camp late one afternoon
dragging behind him an antelope which he had shot within two miles of
where we halted an hour previous. This proof that he had shown himself
a skillful hunter, caused the boy literally to swell with joy as he
strutted around the body of the beautiful animal while our people were
looking at it.

  [Illustration]

It seemed too bad to kill such an innocent creature as that antelope,
and yet I forgot all the cruelty of it when Eben brought to our
wagon enough steaks to provide all of us with a slice of fresh meat.
Afterward it seemed to me much as if we had been cannibals when we so
eagerly devoured the handsome animal.

From that day on, whenever we made camp before dark, Eben went out
with his rifle, and more than once he brought in a deer of some kind,
dividing the meat generously and fairly among us all.



A HERD OF BUFFALOES


Then came the time when we had our first glimpse of buffaloes, and
never shall I forget the scene. We had been traveling in the bottom
lands where we found multitudes of paths deeply cut into the ground,
which some of our people said had been made by buffaloes; but we girls
never so much as dreamed we might be near the beasts, until one morning
father called me hurriedly to look out of the wagon.

Then I screamed, for we were literally surrounded by thousands upon
thousands of those fierce-looking, yet stupid, beasts, who gave no more
heed to our encampment than if they had been accustomed to such things
all their lives.

They circled around within a quarter of a mile of where our cattle
were feeding, and father said afterward that unless our men had been
exceedingly watchful and active, the oxen and cows would have been
stampeded beyond a doubt.



EXCITEMENT IN THE CAMP


Our animals were in a high state of excitement, striving to get
through the lines of men who guarded them, and of course there was no
possibility of our breaking camp until the buffaloes had departed, for,
so father said, there was not a driver in the company who could handle
half a dozen yoke of oxen while the buffaloes were so near.

  [Illustration]

Not all our people stood gazing stupidly at this sea of animals as did
Ellen and I. You may be certain Eben Jordan was among the first to go
out dangerously near the huge beasts, and he was followed by all the
men of the company, save those who were guiding our live stock.

I had supposed that the buffaloes would take to their heels when a
rifle was discharged; but much to my surprise they paid little or no
attention at first to the reports of the firearms.

I dare not venture to say how many of the animals were killed; but
certainly it seemed to me, when about noon the entire herd rushed off,
the rumbling of their hoofs on the hard earth sounding like thunder,
that there were no less than fifty carcasses spread out on the plain
within a mile of where our wagons had been drawn up to form a corral.



A FEAST OF BUFFALO MEAT


There was so much game for us to bring in, that during the remainder
of the day every man and boy that could be spared was kept busy at work
skinning the dead buffaloes or cutting up the flesh.

What a feast we had that evening! We had buffalo tongues baked in the
ovens, or in front of small fires which had been built here and there.
Then there were what father called hump ribs, steaks, and meat of every
kind that could be taken from a buffalo. Each member of the company was
eager to learn how every eatable portion of the animal tasted, and,
therefore, cooked two or three times as much as could be used at one
meal.

Our people had no more than time to skin and cut up the carcasses
before dark; on the following morning word was passed around that each
family must dry, or smoke-cure, as much of the flesh as possible within
the next four and twenty hours.

  [Illustration]

Straightway every man, woman, and child set about either slicing the
meat as thin as it could be cut with sharp knives, or putting together
racks made of sticks, on which the strips of flesh were to be hung and
exposed to the rays of the sun, as well as to the smoke of the fires
that were to be built directly beneath them.



CURING THE MEAT


It was disagreeable work, and yet we were all, even to the smallest
girl, content to do our part, knowing that we were thus laying up food
for the future when it might not be possible to procure game, and when
all the stores we had brought with us from Pike County had been eaten.

The arms of the men who acted as carvers were stained with blood to the
elbows, while the hands and even the faces of the women and children
who carried the sliced meat to hang it on the framework of sticks, were
colored in the same way.

In addition to curing the meat in the sun and smoking it, some of the
men made what is called pemmican, a most disagreeable looking mixture
of flesh and fat which I afterward came to eat greedily, when we had
nothing else with which to satisfy our hunger.

Pemmican is made by first drying the very thinnest of thin slices of
meat in the sun, until they are so hard that it is possible to rub or
pound them to a powder.

A bag is then formed of the buffalo skin, and into it is packed
powdered meat sufficient to fill it considerably more than half full,
after which tallow is melted and poured into the bag until it can hold
no more. Then the entire mass is allowed to cool and harden. It is then
fit for eating, so father said; but mother, when the time came that
we were glad to have our portion of the stuff, always boiled it so it
might be served hot.

It is not appetizing to me, and because I have seen the mixture
prepared I can eat it only when I am very hungry.



A WASH DAY


Two full days were spent in curing the meat and making pemmican, and
even then we did not continue the journey immediately, for the work
had brought our clothing to such a condition that a day for washing
was absolutely necessary. Therefore we remained for another twenty-four
hours.

  [Illustration]

We were encamped near a small stream where could be had plenty of water
for the animals, and on either side of this tiny creek, shortly after
sunrise, could be seen many fires, kettles, and washtubs.

What a tired girl I was when I stretched myself out on mother's feather
bed in the wagon that night! It seemed to me that I had no more than
closed my eyes before I was asleep, and not until father was bustling
around inside the wagon next morning trying to build a fire in the
cookstove, did I awake.

Then the patter, patter of rain on the wagon covering told that we were
to be treated to another downpour of water, and eager though I was to
reach California, I hoped most fervently we would remain in camp yet
longer.



UNCOMFORTABLE TRAVELING


It was really difficult for me to open my eyes, so heavily did slumber
weigh upon them, when I asked father if he had any idea of setting
off in such a storm, at the same time reminding him how our beasts had
struggled through the mud during the last rain.

He laughingly told me that we would continue on the trail, regardless
of the weather; that a rain storm was not to be compared in the way
of discomfort with snow. He said that unless we came to our journey's
end before the season of frost set in, we might never arrive, but
would be in danger of perishing, as others had who, striving to reach
California, had been overtaken by winter among the mountains.

"So long as the cattle are in condition to push on, just so long shall
we continue to march, regardless of whether the rain falls or the sun
shines," he said, speaking very solemnly, and mother's face grew grave
as if she was already beginning to understand the better what might be
before us.

"There will be all too many days when we must remain in camp; but now,
after such a long rest, it would be little less than wicked to remain
idle here simply because it might be more to our comfort."

  [Illustration]

There is little need for me to explain how disagreeable it is to get up
in the morning and attempt to keep a fire going with wet fuel.

Everything was damp and uncomfortable to the touch, and all the
surroundings looked much as Ellen and I felt when we helped mother
prepare breakfast.

After that very unsatisfactory meal had been eaten, for we had nothing
save some half-fried bacon with cold corn bread, not being able to
make coffee because the fire would persist in going out, the train
was started. Ellen and I, crouching in the rear end of the wagon where
the rain could not drive in upon us, sat close to the stove, which now
seemed warmer than when we were trying to cook breakfast, and talked of
the future.

Of course I cannot set down all we said, for much of it was foolish;
but some of the conversation I have remembered clearly even to this
day.


ELLEN'S ADVICE REGARDING THE STORY


Ellen, when I had told her it was my intent to write the story of our
coming from Pike County, said that it would not be proper for me to
write anything about what we saw or did while on the Oregon trail. We
were bound for California, and would not be upon the direct road to
that country until we had left Fort Bridger.

It was her idea that I should begin the story with the time when we
turned from the trail leading to Oregon, and set our faces directly
toward California; but, as has been seen, I nearly forgot her advice,
and even now it seems impossible to do exactly as she proposed.

I intend, however, in order to please her, to set down only such
matters as seem to me of the greatest importance, and thereby hurry
over a certain portion of the march, beginning in earnest with the time
when we finally came to Fort Bridger.



INDIANS AND MOSQUITOES


Now you must bear in mind, although I may not speak of them again, that
we were constantly meeting with Indians. Hardly a day passed that we
did not come upon a village, meet a party of hunters, or receive visits
from groups of two, three, or four who came to beg.

  [Illustration]

Strange though it may seem, we became accustomed to the savages as one
does to seeing a dog or a cat around the house, and gave little or no
attention to them save when they made themselves disagreeable.

One other thing I will speak about now. Mosquitoes and tiny flies,
which seemed as fierce as tigers, were with us all the time by day as
well as by night.

When we first left Independence, it was difficult for me to sleep at
night because of these insects, and during the day I spent the greater
portion of my time striving to keep them off my hands or face. As the
journey progressed it seemed as if they became less poisonous; but I
suppose my body had become accustomed to the wounds, and I gave little
heed to them except when the weather was exceedingly warm.

  [Illustration]

Until we came among the foothills, which is to say, after we left Fort
Bridger, we found game in abundance. What had been sport to Eben became
now a real labor, and he sought for fresh meat only when urged to do so
by his father or some of us girls.

There were days when our men brought in no game because they were
unable to come across any; but we were in a country abounding with
deer, elks, buffaloes, and even bears, and so did not suffer for food.



PRAIRIE DOGS


Even though I say nothing more regarding the remainder of our journey
over the Oregon trail, I must speak of the little prairie dogs which we
came upon from time to time.

They live in villages, sometimes, as father has said, several acres
in extent, and their houses are holes in the ground, with a top or
extension, made of earth which they have pushed up from beneath.

  [Illustration]

Eben Jordan declares, and several men in the company who have talked
with the trappers or hunters say, that in every prairie dog's house may
be found a little gray owl, who has lodgings there, and oftentimes with
this owl is a rattlesnake. Now just fancy the prairie dog, the owl,
and the rattlesnake living together! All I ever saw of the family was
the dog, and he is about the size of a large rat, with hair which is a
mixture of light brown and black in color.

It is impossible for me to tell you how entertaining these little
creatures are. When we passed by the villages you could see them
scampering around and barking. Again and again I have seen them playing
about or sitting on the top of their houses, giving no heed to us until
the wagon train was close upon them, when the entire colony would pop
into their holes with every evidence of fear.

A moment later each little fellow would stick his head out, his black,
beadlike eyes glistening, while he looked around as if asking whether
or not you saw how quickly he could get under cover when it pleased him
to do so.

I know of nothing more comical than these little animals, and yet they
look so much like rats that I would greatly prefer to see them at a
distance rather than make any attempt at taming them, as Eben Jordan
declares is his intention to do as soon as he can catch one alive.

I have my doubts, however, about his being able to catch one, unless he
is cruel enough to wound it first with a rifle ball.



COLONEL RUSSELL'S MISHAP


Just before we arrived at the Platte River, we crossed a small creek,
the bottom of which was exceedingly soft; the men were forced to
double up the teams in order to draw the heavy loads along, and Colonel
Russell's wagon upset in midstream, where the water was two or three
feet deep.

  [Illustration]

Now there was nothing comical in such a mishap, and yet Ellen and I,
who were standing on the bank of the creek where we could see all that
was going on, laughed until I felt actually ashamed of myself. It was
all so ridiculous that I could not have kept my face straight whatever
might have been the result.

If the accident had happened quickly, there would not have been
anything so very funny about it; but, instead, the wagon toppled
slowly, the men striving meanwhile to prevent it from going entirely
over. In the heavy wagon were Mrs. Russell and four children. We saw
first the youngest child, as if some one had tossed him out, come
shooting from the wagon and strike the water. Then another child, and
so on, one after another, exactly like a lot of grasshoppers, until
Mrs. Russell herself appeared. Out they marched in the same order,
water streaming from their clothing, which was bedaubed with mud.

  [Illustration]

Mother reproved Ellen and me severely for laughing when our neighbors
were suffering; but even as she spoke the Russell procession passed
along the edge of the bank, marking the way with mud and water, and I
noticed that it was all she could do to keep her face straight while
she scolded us.



CHIMNEY ROCK


When finally we crossed the Platte River, the men of the company
rejoiced, although I was unable to learn why, except that it marked, as
mother suggested, the first stage of the journey, the second of which
would come to an end at Fort Bridger, and the third in that land where
we hoped to settle.

Not long after crossing this river we had a first glimpse of that
enormous mass which travelers speak of as Court House Rock, which, so
those who have seen both say, looks from the distance not unlike the
Capitol at Washington. A few miles farther on we saw another huge pile
called Chimney Rock.

I doubt not but that both would have been well worth the seeing, yet
our desire to look at them more closely was not gratified. The trail
leads some distance off, and when mother proposed to father that we
might halt for a day in order to get a nearer view of the curiosities,
he shook his head decidedly, saying, almost gruffly, that we who were
bent on finding new homes had no time to fritter away in looking at
this odd thing or at that.

Eben Jordan, however, borrowing one of his father's horses, rode off
to Chimney Rock by himself, and when he came back he told Ellen and me
that we need not shed many tears because of failing to see it close at
hand, because it was nothing more than a lot of big stones that looked
as if they might have been carelessly plastered together with mud.

  [Illustration]

Of course this couldn't be the fact; but Eben has no eye for scenery
and, I dare say, might turn his nose up at what every one else would
believe wonderful or full of beauty.



AT FORT LARAMIE


Forty-eight days after leaving Independence we came to Fort Laramie,
which is more like a trading post than like a fortification. It stands
on the banks of the river Platte, is owned by the American Fur Company,
and is six hundred and seventy-two miles from Independence by the trail
we came over.

Just fancy! We had traveled nearly seven hundred miles, the men of the
company walking all the way; yet during that time, with the exception
of the mishap to Colonel Russell's wagon and the loss of a few head of
cattle, we had come to no harm.

  [Illustration]

At Fort Laramie we slept in a real house for the first time since
starting on the long journey. It was not such a building as we lived in
at Ashley, and yet it was to me almost beautiful, after I had remained
so long in the wagon.

I fancied I would sleep on that night as never before since the
march began, and that we would have supper and breakfast properly and
conveniently served.

I had supposed the mosquitoes and the midges were as thick in our
wagons as it would be possible to find them anywhere; but when we came
into that house the place was swarming with them, and they prevented us
from closing our eyes in rest during the entire night. Never was a girl
better pleased than I when the first light of day came in through the
windows.



COOKING IN FRONT OF A FIREPLACE


After striving to cook food in front of one of the two fireplaces in
that house, I was actually ashamed of having complained because our
stove in the wagon on a stormy morning had seemed to me like some
contrary animal.

  [Illustration]

However much trouble we might have had with wet fuel and lack of draft
owing to the shortness of the stovepipe, it was as nothing compared
with those rude fireplaces, where our faces were burned almost to a
crisp, our eyes filled with smoke, and whatever was cooking came from
the heat thickly incrusted with ashes.

I resolved not to grumble at anything we might find in California,
provided we had conveniences where we could cook with some degree of
comfort, and a place in which to lie down where we would be protected
from insects.



TRAPPERS, HUNTERS, AND INDIANS


I suppose Eben might describe Fort Laramie so that it would to a
stranger present the appearance of a stronghold; but for my part I saw
there only scores upon scores of savages, loitering around outside the
walls, gambling, racing horses, bartering furs, or gorging themselves
with half-cooked meat, while here and there could be seen the noisy
trappers, some dressed fancifully after the fashion of the Indians, and
others decked out in buckskin clothing.

There were boasting hunters who swaggered around, peering curiously
under our wagon covers when we had taken refuge there; and all around,
corralled or feeding near at hand, were cattle and ponies almost
without number.

Our company was not the only party of Pikers at Fort Laramie. It seemed
to me there must have been three or four hundred who had been traveling
as we had traveled, some hoping to go into that land of Oregon which
was represented as being wondrously beautiful, and others bound for
California.

  [Illustration]

Ellen and I would have visited among the strange Pikers had it not
been for the throngs of trappers, hunters, and Indians, such as I have
already written about. Mother declared it would be well for us girls to
stay in our wagon, and this she came to believe firmly after two of the
trappers engaged in a downright battle wherein both used knives, and
both were sorely wounded.

The people round about did not appear to think this fighting wicked
or strange, and instead of endeavoring to make peace among them, all,
even a few women, stood around watching the fray as if it was some
exhibition of an innocent nature.

I was sick with the sights of Fort Laramie even before mother sent
Ellen and me to the wagon, and felt well content to remain there until
next morning, never grumbling when I struggled to keep a fire going in
the stove in order that we might cook supper.



ON THE TRAIL ONCE MORE


It seemed to me that every member of our company, with the possible
exception of Eben Jordan, was delighted when the word had been passed
around during the evening that we should pull out at early daybreak.

We were getting near to that forking of the trail where we would bear
southward and then westward, passing around a great salt sea on our way
to California.

We soon came among the foothills, and it was really a relief to be
climbing up one hill and sliding down another, instead of driving over
a level plain where was nothing to vary the monotony. Although Ellen
and I were pleased with this change in the appearance of the country,
our fathers found little in it to give them pleasure, for we had come
to where grass was scanty and the way difficult for the animals.

As father said, from then on we might suffer such privations and
hardships as we had not experienced since leaving Independence; but
that I could hardly credit, for it did not seem to me possible we would
have more discomfort than when we were marching in the rain, with the
ground so soft that the cattle could only with difficulty drag the
wagon along.

I suppose our people did have some trouble in finding grass for the
animals; but we girls knew little regarding such matters. Our work was
to aid in preparing the meals, and, as Ellen said, in keeping our minds
as cheerful as possible; these tasks we performed to the best of our
ability, without hearing very much of the perplexities of the men, save
when Eben Jordan came to us with tales of trouble.



INDEPENDENCE ROCK


After leaving Fort Laramie the first thing which particularly attracted
my attention was a perfect mountain of rock, fully a hundred feet in
height and more than a mile in circumference, father told me, which
stood near the Sweetwater River, between the ranges of mountains which
border the Sweetwater Valley.

It was an "imposing work of nature," so Colonel Russell said; but to me
the most interesting thing about it was that the first celebration of
the Fourth of July by a company of people bound to Oregon was held at
the place. On the rocks, as high up as one can see, are a multitude of
names, many, many hundreds, some painted, and others cut into the soft
stone by those who had visited the place.

  [Illustration]

Another thing about Independence Rock which causes me to remember it
even more than as "an imposing work of nature," was that near it one
could pick up all the saleratus he needed, for there are veritable
ponds of it, where, so father said, water filled with the salts had
evaporated, leaving the saleratus itself in pools which looked as if
made of milk.

Next morning we came upon a great gap in the mountain wall which is
called the Devil's Gate; through it flows a beautiful stream, on the
banks of which we found wild currants and gooseberries in greatest
abundance.



ARRIVAL AT FORT BRIDGER


About the middle of July we arrived at Fort Bridger, where we were to
turn off upon the California trail, and where, if Ellen's advice had
been followed, this story of mine would have begun.

Why it should be called _Fort_ Bridger I fail to understand, for there
are no signs of a fort about, but only three or four miserable log huts
in which live two fur traders with their trappers and hunters.

  [Illustration]

One might have believed it quite an important place, however, because
when we arrived there were no less than five hundred Indians of the
Snake tribe encamped round about the log huts. Beyond them on every
hand could be seen wagon train after wagon train of people who had come
not only from Pike County, but from Ohio and Indiana, as well as from
Illinois and Missouri, the greater number intent on gaining the Oregon
country, with perhaps two hundred who were going to California.

Of course there were also at this place hunters and trappers, traders
coming from or going into Oregon or California, Spaniards, Negroes, and
red men, the greater number of all this throng living in canvas tents,
in wagons or log huts, while the rest made shift as best they might in
the open air.

It was, like Fort Laramie, a place where Ellen and I had best remain
in the wagons, for no one could tell what the savages might do if two
girls wandered among their lodges, and certainly we had no desire to
make their acquaintance.

  [Illustration]

Here, as everywhere since leaving Independence, we heard that song
which by this time had grown threadbare,--

     "My name it is Joe Bowers."

The Negroes and the Spaniards, the trappers and the hunters, were all
singing it, and the wonder to Ellen and me was where so many people
could have heard it.

  [Illustration]



WITH OUR FACES TOWARD CALIFORNIA


After spending one day at Fort Bridger we set off early in the morning
with our faces turned toward California, and our hearts beating
furiously. For the first time since leaving home it seemed as if we
were really on the journey.

The trail ran up hill or down, all the way, but there was very little
difference, so far as hardships were concerned, from that which we had
already experienced.

During the first three or four days our fathers had no difficulty in
finding grass and water in plenty for the cattle, although there were
times, of course, when for mile after mile we passed through nothing
but sage grass, which even the oxen would not eat. Every night during
this time, we came upon a pleasant place in which to camp, and, best
of all, so Eben Jordan thought, the game was abundant everywhere. When
he had shot a small bear and brought it into camp, it seemed as if his
cup of happiness was full. One might have thought the lad had performed
some wondrous deed, from the way he strutted to and fro, repeating
marvelous accounts of his battle with the beast.



AT BEAR RIVER


It was when we came to Bear River that I began to understand how
different this trail was from the one which we had been traveling.

Instead of finding a safe ford, we came upon a swiftly running river,
with a bed of rocks. So strong was the current that when father waded
in to drive the oxen it was necessary for him to hold firmly to the bow
of the foremost yoke lest he be thrown from his footing; the heavy cart
pitched about until I was certain it would be overturned even as had
Mrs. Russell's.

Mother said that if such an accident should befall us, it would be no
more than a just punishment to Ellen and me because we had laughed so
rudely when the Russell family were in trouble.



THE COMING OF WINTER


Two days after leaving Fort Bridger we had the first indication that
winter was near at hand, even though it was then July. That night the
buckets of water were crusted with ice a full half inch thick, and
upon the tops of the mountains which towered so high above us snow had
fallen.

  [Illustration]

You can well fancy how we shivered while making ready to cook
breakfast. When the train had started, Ellen and I crawled under the
bed clothing, for it seemed as if we were like to freeze, and no one
knows how long we might have remained had not mother insisted that we
should sit once more on the front seat, where we could see the wondrous
beauties everywhere around us.

Just at that time we were traveling through what seemed to be a
mountain gorge; towering many hundred feet above our heads on either
side were crags which had been formed in the most comical figures. Some
of them really looked like animals, and I could see now and then the
head of an elephant or of a lion.

Later in the day father told us that we had passed in the early
morning, while Ellen and I were asleep, a rock which looked so much
like a beast that the trappers had given it the name of the Elephant's
Statue.

During nearly two days we continued along these rocky roads, with the
mountains overshadowing us, and in places the cliffs hanging so low
that it seemed as if the rumbling of our wagons must cause them to fall
upon our heads.

The next night we kept a fire in the cookstove because of the heavy
frost in the air; then we came to a narrow pass between the mountains,
where was a gorge or chasm, so deep that we could readily believe Eben
Jordan when he said the people at Fort Bridger told him the sun never
penetrated to the bottom.

  [Illustration]

It was what is known as Ogden's Hole, and got its name, according to
one story, through being the death place of a trapper by the name of
Ogden, who had hidden himself there from the Indians and was either
killed by them or starved to death, Eben was not certain which.



UTAH INDIANS


There among the mountains we met a party of Utah Indians armed only
with bows and arrows, and they journeyed with us until we camped for
the night, counting as a matter of course upon our feeding them.

The Utahs looked to me more manly than any other Indians we had yet
met. Surely they behaved themselves in a seemly manner, for when supper
had been made ready, they seated themselves in a circle and waited
decently to be invited to partake of food.

On the following morning, after we had traveled about two miles, we
came upon mountains which looked as if they were standing there to
bar our advance, and for the life of us neither Ellen nor I could
understand how it would be possible to continue the journey.

Even the men of the company were perplexed, and during half an hour or
more the entire train was halted while our people went first this way
and then that, seeking some trail over which we could pass.

Then Colonel Russell came back to where we were waiting anxiously and
said he saw a narrow trail winding directly up over those enormous
cliffs. When he pointed it out to the other men, we girls overheard
what he said, and I could not repress a cry of fear, for surely it did
not seem as if any member of our company could climb to such a height,
over so narrow a path, let alone trying to drive the oxen with the
heavy carts.



A DANGEROUS TRAIL


However, there was nothing to be done save attempt the dangerous
passage, unless, indeed, we were willing to turn our faces toward Fort
Bridger, admitting we had been beaten.

  [Illustration]

My heart was literally in my mouth when we began that terrible climb
among loose rocks, over a path so narrow that it seemed, if the wheels
of the wagon slipped ever so little, we would be hurled to the bottom
of the cañon, which is another word for a deep valley or a rift in the
rocks.

The ascent was so steep that when we started no less than twelve yoke
of oxen were needed to each wagon, and there was a steady, upward
scrambling climb of fully two miles; therefore you can well understand
how many hours we spent in making that short portion of the journey.

  [Illustration]

Only one wagon was sent up the trail at a time, lest through some
accident it should run backward and crush whatever might be in its
path.

Until we were upon the side of the mountain where the trail pitched
downward into the valley, I kept my eyes tightly closed, not daring
to look at that dreadful depth into which the slightest mishap might
plunge us.

When the panting oxen were brought to a standstill, the fearful labor
having been performed, Ellen said that she had been so frightened she
was actually exhausted, and indeed the perspiration, caused no doubt
by fear, was streaming down her face when I ventured to open my eyes in
order to look around.

I can conceive of nothing more horrifying than that journey, short
though it was in point of distance, yet so long while one was in a
state of terror as to seem almost endless.

In going down on the other side, but one yoke of cattle was hitched to
each wagon, and kept there only in order to hold the tongue steady and
thus steer the huge cart, while the hind wheels were chained, so that,
not being able to turn, they might act as a drag to prevent us from
sliding swiftly to destruction.

Father said we had traveled no more than seven miles when we had
crossed that terrible mountain. There we found ourselves in a valley
green with grass, where ran a small brook which was most pleasing to
look upon, since it told us that we would have water in abundance.
Coming upon such a spot after so much horror, caused it to appear all
the more beautiful.



SUNFLOWER SEEDS AND ANTELOPE STEW


Without knowing it at the moment of halting, we made camp near two
Indian lodges, where lived ten or twelve of the Utah tribe; having
gained so favorable an impression of those savages when some of the
members had visited our camp, Ellen and I, with Eben Jordan, went among
them, finding that they had set themselves up for traders, counting
upon the settlers bound for the land of California, as customers. The
women showed us a store of powder made from sunflower seeds, which had
been parched and then pulverized; this they offered in exchange for
food, or for ammunition. Ellen gave a loaf of corn bread for perhaps a
quart of the stuff, and found it most agreeable to the taste.

  [Illustration]

That evening one of the men brought in a fat antelope, and mother made
our portion into as savory a stew as I had eaten since we left Pike
County. After that delicious meal and with the pleasing knowledge that
we had come in safety over so terrible a road, I slept that night as
soundly as I should have slept in my own bed at home.

It was decided that we would remain in that place, which mother
called the Happy Valley, for a day, in order to give the cattle a long
rest before they did more mountain climbing, and the housewives took
advantage of the opportunity to wash clothing, bake bread, and do up
such small chores as were necessary.

Consequently all the young people were busily engaged keeping the fires
going, churning, or performing such other tasks as were required, so
that we gave little heed to what was going on around us until, when
the forenoon was about half spent, Eben Jordan excitedly called our
attention to a huge column of smoke which was rising from the mountains
to the westward.



A FOREST FIRE


At first I gave little heed to the matter, thinking it might betoken
the location of some Indian village; but within another hour, so strong
was the wind, the fire had been driven up over the summit of the huge
mountain at the foot of which we were encamped, when straightway we
had over our heads, as it were, a canopy of flame and smoke which shut
out the light of day, causing it to appear as if night had come and the
clouds were ablaze.

Half-burned leaves and ashes were scattered upon us until we were
literally powdered as if with dust, and the men found it necessary to
keep sharp watch over the coverings of the wagons, lest an ember should
drop upon them.

  [Illustration]

During all the remainder of the day and until nearly morning, the
fire raged with greatest fury; but, fortunately, the flames did not
come down into the valley. When we set off next day, the cattle, much
refreshed, went on at a swift pace; but the air was yet so full of
smoke that my eyes ached, while the tears ran down my cheeks in tiny
streams.

Our way now lay along the foot of the range of mountains which sloped
down to the marshy plains bordering that vast inland sea, which has
always seemed so mysterious to me because of being salt.



THE GREAT SALT LAKE


It was about noon when we had our first view of the Great Salt Lake,
and although I had never then seen an ocean, I could not believe the
existence of anything more wondrous than that huge body of salt water
among the mountains.

  [Illustration]

Father says the lake is probably a full hundred miles long, and at its
widest part no less than sixty miles; but this he knows only from that
which he heard from the hunters or trappers, therefore I am not setting
it down as positive information. It seems to me I remember having read
in one of my schoolbooks that it is no more than seventy-five miles
long and thirty miles wide.

However, this much which father says is true: that the lake has no
outlet, and four barrels of its water being evaporated, will produce
nearly a barrel of salt; therefore you can understand how much more
salty it is than a real ocean.

No fish can live in it, and Eben Jordan declared that one of the
trappers at Fort Bridger told him a man could not sink beneath the
surface, so buoyant is the water.

The shore of this great inland sea was white with a crust of soda or
salt, and the odor which came from the stagnant water in the marshes
was so unpleasant as to cause me to feel really ill.



EBEN AS A FISHERMAN


It was on this night, when we had our first view of the Great Salt
Lake, that Eben Jordan gave us a most pleasing surprise. We had
halted quite early in the afternoon, and even before camp was made he
disappeared; but I gave no heed to the matter when I heard his mother
inquiring after him, for I thought the boy had gone off to try his
skill as a hunter again.

  [Illustration]

Two or three hours later, however, it appeared that, instead of chasing
deer or bears, he had turned fisherman for the time being, and when
he came into camp just before we began to get supper, he had with him
seventeen of the most beautiful trout you could imagine, which he had
caught in one of the mountain streams.

They were so large that he literally staggered under the weight, and
the single fish which he gave mother made an ample meal for all our
family. It surely was delicious, and while eating it I made a mental
resolve never again to speak impatiently or angrily to Eben, whatever
he might do, for many times since our journey began he had been very
kind to us all.

It really began to seem as if, after we had turned into the California
trail, we were to come across everything which was strange and
wonderful, for next day, after our train had rounded the base of one
of the mountains, we came upon six or seven springs of water which was
actually hot to the touch, as if on the point of boiling, and which
smelled so strongly of sulphur that one would have been in danger of
suffocation had the fumes been inhaled.

Those odd springs seemingly came up out of the solid rock, and mother,
whose curiosity was so far aroused as to induce her to taste of the
water, said it was bitter and most disagreeable; but she had no doubt
it might be well for us all to take fairly strong doses by way of
medicine.



GRASSHOPPER JAM


We were yet within sight of the Great Salt Lake when, one evening,
three Indian men and two squaws, miserably clad and very ugly, came
into camp bringing for sale or barter something that looked much like
preserves.

Even though these people were so wretchedly dirty, I was hoping mother
might be induced to buy some of their wares, so keenly did I hunger
for something sweet; but I speedily lost all desire for anything of
the kind, when one of the men in the company explained what it was the
Indians had for sale.

It seems impossible human beings could eat such things, and yet this
man told me it was true that the Indians gathered a fruit called
service berries, crushed them into jam and mixed the pulp with
grasshoppers that had been dried over the fire and then pounded to a
powder.

  [Illustration]

He called the stuff "Indian fruit cake," and, much to my disgust, not
only bought a generous portion, paying for it with needles, powder, and
bullets, but actually ate the mixture. I could not bring myself even to
look upon it, after knowing what it really was.

Once more we came upon the mountains after leaving the shores of Great
Salt Lake, and again we climbed up the steep ascents, with all the oxen
toiling at a single wagon, and then slipped down on the opposite side,
until it seemed certain some terrible accident must befall.



A DESERTED VILLAGE


One night we came to another place much like the one we had called the
Happy Valley, and there we found an Indian village of fifteen or twenty
lodges, every one deserted, although we knew the people could not be
far away, for fires were burning brightly in front of the dwellings,
dogs were barking, and many willow baskets filled with service berries
were standing about.

  [Illustration]

It was a beautiful spot for a home, and I could almost have wished
father would settle there, rather than continue on over a trail which
was as dangerous as the one spread out before us.

There were in the valley poplar and pine trees with many willows, and
here and there a patch of sunflowers shining out from the surrounding
green with a golden glory.

I had supposed our people would camp there; but instead of doing so
they continued on, planning to spend the night on the higher land.
When we were halfway up the ridge which led out from the valley, the
Indians, whom we had evidently frightened, came out from their hiding
places, whooping and shouting as if to scare us, although I saw no
token that they were bent on doing us mischief.

We camped on a slope of the ridge, down which ran a small brook, and
those who had tents set them up in a grove of cedar trees where they
looked most inviting. When, however, Ellen and I strolled that way we
found the mosquitoes and midges so thick that it seemed as if we had a
veil in front of our faces.

That night the men of our company gathered apart from the women and
children, seemingly to discuss some important matter; my curiosity
was so far aroused that when I saw Eben Jordan I called upon him for
an explanation, and he told me that we had come to the most dangerous
part of our journey, where we must encounter perils so great that those
which had already been overcome would seem as nothing.



THE GREAT SALT DESERT


We were near what is known as the Great Salt Desert; in fact, were
to cross it on the morrow, and when Eben Jordan led me some distance
farther up the ridge, I could see it at my feet.

The desert is covered with salt like sand, and on it grows nothing
except wild sage, while from where we were then camped, until it would
be possible again to find water, is no less than sixty miles, as Eben
said.

  [Illustration]

Sixty miles over a soft surface where the animals would oftentimes sink
fetlock-deep, and the wheels of the wagons plow into the salt sand
until the progress must be woefully slow. In addition, all the while
we would plod along knowing that no water was to be had, save what we
carried with us, until the train gained the opposite side.

We were camped on the side of a mountain which seemed to be made up
almost wholly of rock; this place had been decided upon because there
could be found a small spring, yielding barely enough water to satisfy
the desires of ourselves and the animals.

It was the last spring or stream of fresh water we should come upon
until we had traveled across that desert, which, from the distance,
looked like a great sea of milk. Once we had started upon the journey,
it would be necessary to continue on, heeding not those who might fall
by the way, so I heard father and Colonel Russell say, for the lives of
our people depended upon our going steadily forward.



PREPARING FOR A DANGEROUS JOURNEY


Orders were given by the leaders of the party that our mothers cook
no pemmican nor any salted food, lest it increase our thirst, and we
ate bread with as much milk as could be had from the cows; within a
few hours, for we were to set off again at midnight, another meal,
consisting wholly of bread made from corn meal, would be served.

The water of the spring was so salty as to be almost undrinkable.
During the evening the women and girls were busily engaged making
coffee, for in such form the water was a trifle more palatable, and
we were advised to fill with the coffee every vessel that would hold
liquid.

As for the cattle, they would be forced to make the march of sixty
miles with nothing to drink save what could be carried in two casks
which had been bought at Fort Bridger for that especial purpose.

  [Illustration]

When I asked father how it would be possible for us to give the animals
drink even once, from no more than sixty gallons of water, he said
they were not intending to allow the poor creatures to have what they
wanted. The supply of water would be used simply to moisten the mouths
of those that were suffering most severely. There could be no question
whatsoever but that the live stock would be in great misery, and if it
so chanced that we people escaped dire distress, then indeed we should
hold ourselves fortunate.



BREAD AND COFFEE MAKING


Fortunately Ellen and I had little time in which to borrow trouble
concerning the future, for every woman and girl found plenty with
which to occupy her hands, as we prepared for the most dangerous and
disagreeable portion of all the journey.

We made corn bread in abundance, cooking no less than three times
as much as we could eat, for Colonel Russell suggested that it was
possible we might abate the thirst of the animals by giving them bread
in small quantities during the march, and so we filled every available
place in the wagon with this food.

Mother made coffee enough to provide us with a supply on that night,
as well as for breakfast, and, in addition, we had filled to the brim
every vessel which was water-tight, until I should think we must have
had no less than three gallons, while every other wagon was equally
well supplied.

The men and boys were not idle while we baked the corn bread and made
coffee. They had enough and plenty with which to occupy their time,
for every piece of harness, every yoke bow, wheel, or other portion of
the outfit which might give way, was looked after carefully, lest there
be a delay, because a halt on the desert, so we had been told at Fort
Bridger, might mean death to us all.

That night the animals were corralled inside our circle of wagons
in order that they might be ready when the hour came for us to set
off, and for the first time since I had known Eben Jordan I saw an
expression of anxiety upon the lad's face.

Wherever one looked among our people he could see gloomy faces, and
there was no more singing of "Joe Bowers," no whistling and joking
among the lads, as was usually the case during an evening in camp.



BREAKING CAMP AT MIDNIGHT


When midnight came, I had a very good idea that there was more danger
to be met in crossing the desert than I had been willing to believe,
for we were awakened and told that the march would be begun in half an
hour.

Father urged mother and us girls to eat and drink heartily while we
might. When I asked him why we were to set off at such an unusual hour,
he replied in a serious manner that from the moment we started until
the desert had been crossed, there would be no halt made unless some
of the oxen fell by the wayside and we were forced to delay in order to
unyoke them.

When Ellen asked him how long a time the crossing would take, he said
he hoped no more than twenty or twenty-four hours. He also told us
it had been agreed that if one of the wagons should break down, or
any accident happen, the unfortunate ones were to be left behind, the
remainder of the company continuing on without making any effort to aid
them.

  [Illustration]

Then, perhaps for the first time, I began to realize how much danger
lay before us. Surely if our fathers had agreed that during the coming
march they would make no halt for any reason, there must be grave cause
for fear.

The men made ready for the march by the light of the moon, and there
were yet no signs of the coming day when we set off; and then we were
a mournful party indeed, the drivers urging their beasts to the utmost,
as if they realized that every moment was precious.



THE APPROACH TO THE SALT DESERT


There was nothing very dreadful to be seen on the first six miles of
the march, for then we were winding our way up the ridge, on the side
of which we had been encamped, and save for the fact that Ellen and I
were suffering from the cold, the journey was much the same as we had
already known.

Then we rode down the other side of the ridge, among stunted cedar
trees which looked as if they were dying from lack of water, and Eben
Jordan came past our wagon to say we had come upon Captain Frémont's
trail.

The fact that we were to follow in the footsteps of other human beings
gave me more courage and caused Ellen to appear almost cheerful.

We crossed a valley where nothing was growing save wild sage, and then
over rocky ridges which looked much like masses of dark green glass,
through a narrow gap which might have been cut by the hand of man in
the solid ledge, after which we saw spread out before us that vast
desert plain, white as a sea of milk and most desolate and forbidding
in appearance.



A PLAIN OF SALT


Not a vestige of any green thing could be seen within our range of
vision. No bird was flying, and the silence was so like the silence
of the tomb that I did not dare to speak aloud while calling mother's
attention to this thing or that, when we halted for a short time.

This was the last stop we would make, save in case of accident. Some of
the animals ate the bread, others refused it, and then I saw what would
have been, under other circumstances, a comical sight, for the men were
going about with wet cloths moistening the mouths of the oxen.

  [Illustration]

After spending nearly an hour in making the final preparations, word
was given for the train to set off. Instead of being like milk, we
found that the desert was made up of a bluish clay, covered here and
there in blotches with what was much like salt, and these white spots
were so large and numerous as to give to the whole the appearance of
milky white when seen from the distance.

The oxen sank fetlock-deep, and as we advanced there were times when
they broke through what was like a crust, even to their very knees;
therefore one can well fancy that the wheels plowed into this yielding
surface until it was quite as much as the cattle could do to pull the
wagons along.



LIKE A SEA OF FROZEN MILK


If all the way had been as difficult as the start, we might never have
gained the other side; but as we advanced the surface grew harder and
harder, until finally even the shoes of the horses failed to make any
impression upon it. Then I heard father say, as he came back from time
to time to speak with mother, that it appeared to him as if we were
traveling over a solid crust of salt.

At the end of an hour, perhaps, we came upon what Ellen called another
"soft spot," and for a distance of two or three miles the oxen strained
and tugged at the yokes as they barely succeeded in drawing the wagons
at a snail's pace.

Then we girls had most terrible forebodings, for it seemed certain we
could never hope to cross that place before all the company had died
from thirst.

To our great relief as well as the relief of the cattle, we came upon
a hard surface once more, and the oxen were urged to their utmost speed
in order to make up for the time we had lost while toiling through the
salty dust.

There was no halting for dinner. Now and then we ate the corn bread,
for with such terrible anxiety in our hearts none of us were conscious
of hunger; but again and again and again did we sip the cold coffee,
using it sparingly, however.



SALT DUST


It was nearly ten o'clock in the forenoon when a dark cloud began to
gather in the south, and I said to mother, with great joy, that we
would at least know the pleasure of being wet, even though we could not
get all we wanted to drink, for surely there was a shower close upon
us.

  [Illustration]

Indeed, we did have wind, with thunder and lightning, but not a drop
of water fell. On the contrary, the breeze stirred up the dust from the
plain and filled the air with it, and our parched throats grew yet more
dry because of the salt which we were forced to inhale, even though we
covered our faces with cloths.

How the poor beasts suffered! Their tongues were actually covered with
salt, and not a mouthful of water could they have as a relief from
their distress.

  [Illustration]

Save for the absence of rain, it was a veritable tempest of thunder
and lightning, lasting about twenty minutes; then the sun came out
with more heat, as it seemed to me, than before, which but served to
increase our desire for water.

When the sun was no more than three hours from setting, I strained my
eyes ahead, hoping to see the end of this horrible journey, although
mother had told me there was no possibility of our coming to water
until late in the night, and I saw the foremost of the wagons leaving
the white plain, and passing over what promised to be a good road,
toward a rocky range.

Then I shouted aloud in my joy, that we would soon come to where it
would be possible to quench our thirst.



A BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT


For the moment mother believed I was right, but then Eben Jordan
dampened our joy by telling us that we must ride over the ridge five or
six miles, where were no signs of water, and then we would come upon
another plain of salt, which was not less than twelve miles in width.
Only after that had been crossed might we find ourselves in safety.

  [Illustration]

Ellen threw herself face downward upon the bed in the bottom of the
wagon, and lay there as if in a fit of the sulks, while I crouched by
mother's side, wondering how long it would be before death came, for I
had grown so foolish in my sufferings that it was as if life was nearly
at an end.



COFFEE INSTEAD OF WATER


Mother left us to ourselves during half an hour or more, and then told
us plainly that we were showing ourselves to be very foolish girls.
She insisted that we eat the harder portions of the corn bread; that we
take frequent drinks of the coffee, and, above all, that we resolutely
calm our minds.

It must have been that amid all my distress I fell asleep, for suddenly
I heard, as though coming from afar off, shouts of joy and the voices
of men calling one to another.

Starting up, I asked mother what was happening, and gazed around
wildly, for night had come and the moon was not yet risen.

"Thank God! the desert has been crossed, and we have come at last to
where water may be obtained!" my mother cried fervently.

She leaped out of the wagon, we two girls following, and, running
hurriedly, we went to where the men, boys, and animals had gathered in
a group.

I believed we had come to a stream of sweet water, but it was only a
narrow brook, where ran hardly more than a thread of water which had
already been trampled upon by the animals until it was like liquid mud.



A SPRING OF SWEET WATER


At this moment Eben Jordan, taking Ellen and me by the hands, said,
forcing us to run with him:--

"By following the stream to its head we shall surely come upon a
spring."

And this we did, finding within two hundred yards a spring of the
sweetest water I have ever taken into my mouth.

Ellen and I drank again and again, seemingly never to be satisfied, and
it was only after I had shown myself very selfish that I remembered
poor mother, who, most likely, was standing by that muddy stream
waiting until the water had grown clear so she might drink.

  [Illustration]

Then Eben Jordan went back, and a few moments later returned, bringing
with him all the women and children, and many of the men.

Having drunk our fill, Ellen and I went back to the wagon, where we
ate heartily of corn bread, and then laid ourselves down to sleep,
while the men and boys were bringing the teams into a circle to form a
corral.



THE OASIS


After this we remained idle thirty-six hours, being forced to do so, as
father said, because the animals were so nearly exhausted that a long
time of rest was absolutely necessary.

It was during this time that Eben Jordan again displayed his skill as
a hunter, for toward nightfall he brought in two small antelopes; but
the animals were so tiny that each family had no more than half enough
to satisfy their craving for fresh meat, and we were forced to complete
the meal with bacon.

  [Illustration]

Our halting place was on what can be described only as an oasis,
stretching from that sea of white to the rocky cliffs beyond, and
father told us that while we would not be forced to march over a plain
of salt during the next day, the journey would be exceedingly wearisome
and our suffering considerable, for another entire day must be spent
without water.

Again we made preparations for a time of distress, by boiling more
coffee and filling up the water casks with sweet water from the spring.

This time the anticipation was worse than the reality. On resuming the
march, we traveled over the side of the barren ridge more than twelve
miles, until we came to a well-defined wagon trail which, so some of
our people said, had first been made by emigrants from Missouri.

I gave little heed as to who might first have passed over the trail,
rejoicing with Ellen that at last we had come to some evidence of human
beings; it seemed as if our troubles were well-nigh at an end, for we
were told that this trail would lead us by the most direct course into
that land of California where we hoped to find rest and comfort.



SEARCHING FOR WATER


From this on, during four wearisome days, we were kept upon a short
allowance of water, and did not dare eat much food lest it should
unduly excite our thirst.

Now and then we came upon a spring, when our water casks and every
vessel that could be used for the purpose were filled to the brim, and
yet again and again we suffered from thirst, but not so keenly as while
crossing the desert.

Whenever I slept, it was to dream of the river we had left behind us on
the border of Pike County, wishing that it might be possible for me to
go to its banks once more, and, even though the water was muddy, drink
my fill.

In due time we came to that point in the trail where we were forced to
march directly over the face of the mountains. Here our fathers found
the way so difficult that once more the teams were doubled up, twelve
or fifteen yoke of cattle being put on one wagon, and, after hauling
the heavy load to the summit of the range, driven back to get another.

  [Illustration]

Of course our progress was slow, and we traversed mile after mile only
with severe labor on the part of the men and boys, for we girls and the
women did no more than walk in order to lessen the load.

Then we came to a narrow passage amid the rocks, which was most
frightful to look upon, although there was nothing whatever about it to
cause alarm.

  [Illustration]

It was a gorge or cañon much like a tunnel, where the light from
above was like a slender silver thread, and we went down into a narrow
defile, where was barely room for the wagons to pass, and where the
rocks, dark and fearsome, rose hundreds of feet above our heads.



THE BEAUTIFUL VALLEY


When we had passed through that forbidding place we received our
reward, for we came into a most beautiful valley with water and grass
in abundance, and, although it was yet early in the afternoon, there
was no thought of anything save making camp, that we might enjoy the
blessings which were spread out before us.

Before the sun had set Eben Jordan had killed another antelope; but he
did not dare go far from the encampment in search of other game, for no
sooner had twilight come than we could hear the howling of the wolves
around us, until one's very blood ran cold. It seemed certain, and
indeed was a fact, that we were literally surrounded by those ravenous
animals, which were kept at a respectful distance only by the glare of
our camp fires.

  [Illustration]

Next day, when we took up the line of march again, it was the same old
story of climbing over rocky ridges and descending into valleys where
could be found no signs of vegetation, until we had come to a very
network of streams.

At our next camp we were visited by a party of Snake Indians, who, like
the other savages we had seen, pressed around us, begging for bits of
bread.



SNAKE INDIANS


Those Indians were not at all like any we had seen before; their
clothing, what little there was of it, consisted mostly of rabbit
skins sewed together to form cloaks. To my mind they resembled more the
Negroes than the Indians; but father said, save for their inclination
to steal anything upon which they could lay their hands, that we need
have no fear whatever regarding them, because they were known to be
peaceable. The men were armed only with bows and arrows and seemed to
have great fear of a gun or a pistol.

The visitors had with them a quantity of dried meat and roots which
they wanted to trade with us for bread or for blankets; but our store
of provisions was not so low that we would willingly eat what those
creatures had prepared.

They lingered around the encampment, however, coming as closely to the
wagons as our people would permit, and we girls and boys were told to
keep careful watch lest they steal all our possessions.

Just at sunset, one of the men who was standing guard over the cows
shouted that a wild beast was creeping up on us from a thicket a short
distance away, to the right of where father's wagon stood.

Looking up quickly, I saw a huge panther crawling, as you might say,
much as a cat approaches a mouse, and it seemed to me that he was
making ready to spring directly upon us girls.

  [Illustration]

Ellen and I clambered shrieking into the wagon, where we hid our heads
in a feather bed like the silly children we were, and straightway there
ensued the greatest tumult that can be imagined, as our hunters strove
to kill the ferocious animal.

It is, perhaps, needless for me to say that the panther escaped,
although Eben Jordan claimed it would have been possible for him to
kill the beast, had he not been hampered by frightened girls and men.



A SCARCITY OF FOOD


When the march was taken up once more, we journeyed over a less
forbidding, although a not very pleasant, country, seeing antelopes at
a distance, but so wild that even Eben Jordan strove in vain to bring
one down.

During four or five days we marched westward, seeing now and then great
numbers of animals which would have served to provide us with fresh
meat, but our men were unable to kill any; then we found our supply of
food growing so small that it was decided each person should have at a
single meal no more than one slice of bacon and a piece of corn bread
as big as a man's hand.

There is no good reason why I should set down such mournful details.
While we were pressing steadily but painfully westward, so hungry
that it seemed to me I could have eaten anything resembling food, and
thirsty until my tongue was parched, the rays of the sun beat down upon
us with pitiless fury, until we were so worn that life seemed at times
like some frightful dream.

I can remember distinctly, however, what happened on that day when
we heard those who were leading the train, shout that we had come
upon water in abundance. When Ellen and I, leaping out of the wagon,
ran forward, we saw before us several large springs from which the
water was bubbling generously. Our delight was even as great as the
disappointment was bitter, when the water was found to be almost
boiling hot.



SPRINGS OF HOT WATER


It seems hardly possible that any liquid could come out of the earth so
warm, and if I had never left Pike County I would have set down such a
tale as a fable; but we did find boiling water, so hot that when Eben
Jordan let down into one of those springs a slice of bacon tied to a
string, it was well boiled in less than fifteen minutes.

However, we were not to be deprived of water even though it was hot,
for father proposed that we fill some of our cups, declaring it would
be sweet to the taste once it was cool.

This we did not only once, but three or four times, during the
continuation of the march, for we came upon many of those hot springs
on the trail after we left the banks of Mary's River.

Then came a day in August when, after an unusually wearisome march, we
suddenly overtook two emigrant wagons in which were fourteen people who
had come from Missouri.

Verily it seemed as if old friends were meeting, for as our train
came in sight, some of the strangers began to sing, "My name it is Joe
Bowers," and however weary I had once been of hearing that tune, it now
sounded in my ears like music.

That evening we spent visiting; those people, like ourselves, were
traveling toward the land of California, and only those who have been
journeying in the desert and through the wilderness, without meeting
any human beings save Indians, can understand how intent was the
pleasure we experienced in being with our own kind again.

The emigrants decided to join our train, and we were right glad to have
them with us, although their store of provisions was no greater than
ours; but all were put on what father called "short allowance," which
was to each person two slices of bacon and two pieces of bread during
one entire day. All our men who had guns were continually searching for
game; but while we could see antelope and even wild fowl, both beasts
and birds were so shy that the best hunters among us could not get
within gunshot.



IN THE LAND OF PLENTY


And so we traveled on, hungry, thirsty, and weary, despairing now and
then of ever coming again into a land of plenty, until we arrived at
the Truckee River, which was more beautiful to my eyes than ever had
been the broad Mississippi.

The waters of the river were clear as crystal and very cool, while
from it our people took within an hour a sufficient number of trout to
satisfy the hunger of all. It seemed necessary we should eat until it
was absolutely impossible to swallow more, in order to atone in some
way for the hunger that had pressed so sorely upon us during the ten
days previous.

Eben Jordan said laughingly that we were much like the savages, who
were starved one day and in danger of bursting with food the next.



THE TRUCKEE RIVER


It pleased me right well when father said that we were to remain in
camp one full day by the side of this river, in order to give the
animals the opportunity of feeding upon the rich grass which grew in
abundance on every hand.

At last we had come into California, and a beautiful country indeed
it appeared to me while we remained near the river,--all the more
beautiful, perhaps, because of the suffering which it had cost us to
get there. Both Ellen and I now came to believe our fathers had been
wise indeed to leave the banks of the muddy Mississippi for so glorious
a river as the Truckee.

All around us were evidences of bountiful nature, for the land was
seemingly overcrowded with game, with food on every hand for the
cattle, beautiful flowers, and everything which goes to make one happy.

How long the journey had been I did not really know until Eben Jordan
came to where Ellen and I were sitting on the grass with the skirts
of our gowns filled with flowers. He had in his hands a bit of paper
on which he had set down, from what had been told him by the leaders
of the company, the distance we people had traveled since leaving
Independence. This was no less than two thousand and ninety miles,
to which one must add, in order to learn how long was our march, the
distance from Pike County to Independence, which would, so Eben said,
make a total of about two thousand two hundred.

  [Illustration]

Even then we were nearly two hundred miles from San Francisco; however
it was not the intention of our fathers to journey so far across
California, for we had not come expecting to find gold, but to make for
ourselves farms, where we could live comfortably by honest industry.

Already I am writing as if we had come to an end of our journey, and so
it seemed to me while we remained in camp on the bank of the Truckee
River; but there were yet many days of toil before we arrived at the
place where our people had decided to buy land.

It was yet necessary that we cross the Sierra Nevada, where we found a
seemingly impassable trail over the mountains, yet we knew that people
like ourselves, traveling in the same way, had gone before us, and all
the dangers and the difficulties seemed lessened because of the fact
that we had come so near to where we intended to make our new homes.



A HOME IN THE SACRAMENTO VALLEY


After much labor in descending the Sierras, we came upon the first
settler's house we had seen since starting out. It stood in the valley
of the Sacramento, on what is called Bear Creek, and was owned by Mr.
Johnson, who himself was a Piker.

To me the house was odd looking, not because of being so small as to
have only two rooms, but because it was built half of logs and half
of adobes, or bricks of mud which have been dried in the sun. It was a
rough building, and yet how homelike it appeared!

Unfortunately Mr. Johnson and his family were not at home. The building
was closed, and although the door was not really locked, it had been
fastened with strips of rawhide in such a manner as to show that the
owner wished to keep out stragglers.

  [Illustration]

As we journeyed leisurely and comfortably down the valley of the
Sacramento, we saw now and then large droves of wild horses and elks
feeding peacefully on the plains, and there was never a night when Eben
Jordan, or some other of the hunters, did not bring in an abundance of
game.



THE MISSION OF SAN JOSÉ


Then came that day when we arrived at the little village which is
called the Mission of San José, and although everything about us was
strange, we said to ourselves that at last we had come to our new home,
for it was near that place our fathers intended to buy land.

The village of San José must at one time have had many hundred
inhabitants; but when we arrived it was little better than a ruin. The
houses, built of sun-dried bricks, were without roofs and crumbling
slowly away, all of which appeared the more pitiful because of the
well-kept church and the fortlike two-story house where lived the
priests. Both buildings were in such good repair that they afforded a
striking contrast to the tumble-down dwellings which could be seen near
at hand.

  [Illustration]

I would love to tell how father built for himself a house on land which
he bought from the priests of the Mission, and how mother and I set
about making a home which should be somewhat the same in appearance as
the one we had left in Pike County, but it is not for me to do so.



OUR HOME IN CALIFORNIA


It may be that at some time when our home here is fully made as we
would have it, I can tell you how we live, what odd Spanish dishes
we have on the table, how great a profusion of fruit is at our hand
for the gathering, and very many other things which to me are most
interesting.

I have learned to love this land even more than I did Pike County,
which at one time I believed the most beautiful spot on earth, and
although it pleases me now and then, when settlers come over the long
trail, to hear the younger members of the company singing "My name it
is Joe Bowers," I have almost forgotten that Missouri was once my home.

I have come to look upon myself as belonging to this beautiful valley
where Nature is so lavish with all her gifts, and therefore, instead of
calling myself a Piker, as in the days gone by, I dearly love to write
so all may see, that I am now, and ever shall be as long as the good
God allows me to remain in this world, Martha of California.



BOOKS CONSULTED IN WRITING MARTHA OF CALIFORNIA


  BRYANT, EDWIN: What I Saw in California. D. Appleton & Co.

  CLAMPITT, JOHN W.: Echoes from the Rocky Mountains. Belford,
    Clarke & Co.

  CONNELLY, WILLIAM ELSEY: Doniphan's Expedition. Pub. by the
    Author.

  DEXTER, A. HERSEY: Early Days in California. Tribune-Republican
    Press.

  DRAKE, SAMUEL ADAMS: The Making of the Great West. Charles
    Scribner's Sons.

  FRÉMONT, J. C.: The Second Expedition. Washington.

  KNOWER, DANIEL: The Days of a Forty-Niner. Weed, Parsons Print.
    Co.

  PAXSON, FREDERICK L.: The Last American Frontier. The Macmillan
    Company.

  THORNTON, J. QUINN: Oregon and California. Harper & Brothers.

  WOODS, DANIEL B.: Sixteen Months at the Gold Diggings. Harper &
    Brothers.





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