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    Chapter 1

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    Chapter 1
    ACROSS THE PLAINS

    LEAVES FROM THE NOTEBOOK OF AN EMIGRANT BETWEEN NEW YORK AND SAN
    FRANCISCO

    MONDAY. - It was, if I remember rightly, five o'clock when we were
    all signalled to be present at the Ferry Depot of the railroad. An
    emigrant ship had arrived at New York on the Saturday night,
    another on the Sunday morning, our own on Sunday afternoon, a
    fourth early on Monday; and as there is no emigrant train on Sunday
    a great part of the passengers from these four ships was
    concentrated on the train by which I was to travel. There was a
    babel of bewildered men, women, and children. The wretched little
    booking-office, and the baggage-room, which was not much larger,
    were crowded thick with emigrants, and were heavy and rank with the
    atmosphere of dripping clothes. Open carts full of bedding stood
    by the half-hour in the rain. The officials loaded each other with
    recriminations. A bearded, mildewed little man, whom I take to
    have been an emigrant agent, was all over the place, his mouth full
    of brimstone, blustering and interfering. It was plain that the
    whole system, if system there was, had utterly broken down under
    the strain of so many passengers.

    My own ticket was given me at once, and an oldish man, who
    preserved his head in the midst of this turmoil, got my baggage
    registered, and counselled me to stay quietly where I was till he
    should give me the word to move. I had taken along with me a small
    valise, a knapsack, which I carried on my shoulders, and in the bag
    of my railway rug the whole of BANCROFT'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED
    STATES, in six fat volumes. It was as much as I could carry with
    convenience even for short distances, but it insured me plenty of
    clothing, and the valise was at that moment, and often after,
    useful for a stool. I am sure I sat for an hour in the baggage-
    room, and wretched enough it was; yet, when at last the word was
    passed to me and I picked up my bundles and got under way, it was
    only to exchange discomfort for downright misery and danger.

    I followed the porters into a long shed reaching downhill from West
    Street to the river. It was dark, the wind blew clean through it
    from end to end; and here I found a great block of passengers and
    baggage, hundreds of one and tons of the other. I feel I shall
    have a difficulty to make myself believed; and certainly the scene
    must have been exceptional, for it was too dangerous for daily
    repetition. It was a tight jam; there was no fair way through the
    mingled mass of brute and living obstruction. Into the upper
    skirts of the crowd porters, infuriated by hurry and overwork,
    clove their way with shouts. I may say that we stood like sheep,
    and that the porters charged among us like so many maddened sheep-
    dogs; and I believe these men were no longer answerable for their
    acts. It mattered not what they were carrying, they drove straight
    into the press, and when they could get no farther, blindly
    discharged their barrowful. With my own hand, for instance, I
    saved the life of a child as it sat upon its mother's knee, she
    sitting on a box; and since I heard of no accident, I must suppose
    that there were many similar interpositions in the course of the
    evening. It will give some idea of the state of mind to which we
    were reduced if I tell you that neither the porter nor the mother
    of the child paid the least attention to my act. It was not till
    some time after that I understood what I had done myself, for to
    ward off heavy boxes seemed at the moment a natural incident of
    human life. Cold, wet, clamour, dead opposition to progress, such
    as one encounters in an evil dream, had utterly daunted the
    spirits. We had accepted this purgatory as a child accepts the
    conditions of the world. For my part, I shivered a little, and my
    back ached wearily; but I believe I had neither a hope nor a fear,
    and all the activities of my nature had become tributary to one
    massive sensation of discomfort.

    At length, and after how long an interval I hesitate to guess, the
    crowd began to move, heavily straining through itself. About the
    same time some lamps were lighted, and threw a sudden flare over
    the shed. We were being filtered out into the river boat for
    Jersey City. You may imagine how slowly this filtering proceeded,
    through the dense, choking crush, every one overladen with packages
    or children, and yet under the necessity of fishing out his ticket
    by the way; but it ended at length for me, and I found myself on
    deck under a flimsy awning and with a trifle of elbow-room to
    stretch and breathe in. This was on the starboard; for the bulk of
    the emigrants stuck hopelessly on the port side, by which we had
    entered. In vain the seamen shouted to them to move on, and
    threatened them with shipwreck. These poor people were under a
    spell of stupor, and did not stir a foot. It rained as heavily as
    ever, but the wind now came in sudden claps and capfuls, not
    without danger to a boat so badly ballasted as ours; and we crept
    over the river in the darkness, trailing one paddle in the water
    like a wounded duck, and passed ever and again by huge, illuminated
    steamers running many knots, and heralding their approach by
    strains of music. The contrast between these pleasure embarkations
    and our own grim vessel, with her list to port and her freight of
    wet and silent emigrants, was of that glaring description which we
    count too obvious for the purposes of art.

    The landing at Jersey City was done in a stampede. I had a fixed
    sense of calamity, and to judge by conduct, the same persuasion was
    common to us all. A panic selfishness, like that produced by fear,
    presided over the disorder of our landing. People pushed, and
    elbowed, and ran, their families following how they could.
    Children fell, and were picked up to be rewarded by a blow. One
    child, who had lost her parents, screamed steadily and with
    increasing shrillness, as though verging towards a fit; an official
    kept her by him, but no one else seemed so much as to remark her
    distress; and I am ashamed to say that I ran among the rest. I was
    so weary that I had twice to make a halt and set down my bundles in
    the hundred yards or so between the pier and the railway station,
    so that I was quite wet by the time that I got under cover. There
    was no waiting-room, no refreshment room; the cars were locked; and
    for at least another hour, or so it seemed, we had to camp upon the
    draughty, gaslit platform. I sat on my valise, too crushed to
    observe my neighbours; but as they were all cold, and wet, and
    weary, and driven stupidly crazy by the mismanagement to which we
    had been subjected, I believe they can have been no happier than
    myself. I bought half-a-dozen oranges from a boy, for oranges and
    nuts were the only refection to be had. As only two of them had
    even a pretence of juice, I threw the other four under the cars,
    and beheld, as in a dream, grown people and children groping on the
    track after my leavings.

    At last we were admitted into the cars, utterly dejected, and far
    from dry. For my own part, I got out a clothes-brush, and brushed
    my trousers as hard as I could till I had dried them and warmed my
    blood into the bargain; but no one else, except my next neighbour
    to whom I lent the brush, appeared to take the least precaution.
    As they were, they composed themselves to sleep. I had seen the
    lights of Philadelphia, and been twice ordered to change carriages
    and twice countermanded, before I allowed myself to follow their
    example.

    TUESDAY. - When I awoke, it was already day; the train was standing
    idle; I was in the last carriage, and, seeing some others strolling
    to and fro about the lines, I opened the door and stepped forth, as
    from a caravan by the wayside. We were near no station, nor even,
    as far as I could see, within reach of any signal. A green, open,
    undulating country stretched away upon all sides. Locust trees and
    a single field of Indian corn gave it a foreign grace and interest;
    but the contours of the land were soft and English. It was not
    quite England, neither was it quite France; yet like enough either
    to seem natural in my eyes. And it was in the sky, and not upon
    the earth, that I was surprised to find a change. Explain it how
    you may, and for my part I cannot explain it at all, the sun rises
    with a different splendour in America and Europe. There is more
    clear gold and scarlet in our old country mornings; more purple,
    brown, and smoky orange in those of the new. It may be from habit,
    but to me the coming of day is less fresh and inspiriting in the
    latter; it has a duskier glory, and more nearly resembles sunset;
    it seems to fit some subsequential, evening epoch of the world, as
    though America were in fact, and not merely in fancy, farther from
    the orient of Aurora and the springs of day. I thought so then, by
    the railroad side in Pennsylvania, and I have thought so a dozen
    times since in far distant parts of the continent. If it be an
    illusion it is one very deeply rooted, and in which my eyesight is
    accomplice.

    Soon after a train whisked by, announcing and accompanying its
    passage by the swift beating of a sort of chapel bell upon the
    engine; and as it was for this we had been waiting, we were
    summoned by the cry of "All aboard!" and went on again upon our
    way. The whole line, it appeared, was topsy-turvy; an accident at
    midnight having thrown all the traffic hours into arrear. We paid
    for this in the flesh, for we had no meals all that day. Fruit we
    could buy upon the cars; and now and then we had a few minutes at
    some station with a meagre show of rolls and sandwiches for sale;
    but we were so many and so ravenous that, though I tried at every
    opportunity, the coffee was always exhausted before I could elbow
    my way to the counter.

    Our American sunrise had ushered in a noble summer's day. There
    was not a cloud; the sunshine was baking; yet in the woody river
    valleys among which we wound our way, the atmosphere preserved a
    sparkling freshness till late in the afternoon. It had an inland
    sweetness and variety to one newly from the sea; it smelt of woods,
    rivers, and the delved earth. These, though in so far a country,
    were airs from home. I stood on the platform by the hour; and as I
    saw, one after another, pleasant villages, carts upon the highway
    and fishers by the stream, and heard cockcrows and cheery voices in
    the distance, and beheld the sun, no longer shining blankly on the
    plains of ocean, but striking among shapely hills and his light
    dispersed and coloured by a thousand accidents of form and surface,
    I began to exult with myself upon this rise in life like a man who
    had come into a rich estate. And when I had asked the name of a
    river from the brakesman, and heard that it was called the
    Susquehanna, the beauty of the name seemed to be part and parcel of
    the beauty of the land. As when Adam with divine fitness named the
    creatures, so this word Susquehanna was at once accepted by the
    fancy. That was the name, as no other could be, for that shining
    river and desirable valley.

    None can care for literature in itself who do not take a special
    pleasure in the sound of names; and there is no part of the world
    where nomenclature is so rich, poetical, humorous, and picturesque
    as the United States of America. All times, races, and languages
    have brought their contribution. Pekin is in the same State with
    Euclid, with Bellefontaine, and with Sandusky. Chelsea, with its
    London associations of red brick, Sloane Square, and the King's
    Road, is own suburb to stately and primeval Memphis; there they
    have their seat, translated names of cities, where the Mississippi
    runs by Tennessee and Arkansas; and both, while I was crossing the
    continent, lay, watched by armed men, in the horror and isolation
    of a plague. Old, red Manhattan lies, like an Indian arrowhead
    under a steam factory, below anglified New York. The names of the
    States and Territories themselves form a chorus of sweet and most
    romantic vocables: Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Dakota, Iowa,
    Wyoming, Minnesota, and the Carolinas; there are few poems with a
    nobler music for the ear: a songful, tuneful land; and if the new
    Homer shall arise from the Western continent, his verse will be
    enriched, his pages sing spontaneously, with the names of states
    and cities that would strike the fancy in a business circular.

    Late in the evening we were landed in a waiting-room at Pittsburg.
    I had now under my charge a young and sprightly Dutch widow with
    her children; these I was to watch over providentially for a
    certain distance farther on the way; but as I found she was
    furnished with a basket of eatables, I left her in the waiting-room
    to seek a dinner for myself. I mention this meal, not only because
    it was the first of which I had partaken for about thirty hours,
    but because it was the means of my first introduction to a coloured
    gentleman. He did me the honour to wait upon me after a fashion,
    while I was eating; and with every word, look, and gesture marched
    me farther into the country of surprise. He was indeed strikingly
    unlike the negroes of Mrs. Beecher Stowe, or the Christy Minstrels
    of my youth. Imagine a gentleman, certainly somewhat dark, but of
    a pleasant warm hue, speaking English with a slight and rather odd
    foreign accent, every inch a man of the world, and armed with
    manners so patronisingly superior that I am at a loss to name their
    parallel in England. A butler perhaps rides as high over the
    unbutlered, but then he sets you right with a reserve and a sort of
    sighing patience which one is often moved to admire. And again,
    the abstract butler never stoops to familiarity. But the coloured
    gentleman will pass you a wink at a time; he is familiar like an
    upper form boy to a fag; he unbends to you like Prince Hal with
    Poins and Falstaff. He makes himself at home and welcome. Indeed,
    I may say, this waiter behaved himself to me throughout that supper
    much as, with us, a young, free, and not very self-respecting
    master might behave to a good-looking chambermaid. I had come
    prepared to pity the poor negro, to put him at his ease, to prove
    in a thousand condescensions that I was no sharer in the prejudice
    of race; but I assure you I put my patronage away for another
    occasion, and had the grace to be pleased with that result.

    Seeing he was a very honest fellow, I consulted him upon a point of
    etiquette: if one should offer to tip the American waiter?
    Certainly not, he told me. Never. It would not do. They
    considered themselves too highly to accept. They would even resent
    the offer. As for him and me, we had enjoyed a very pleasant
    conversation; he, in particular, had found much pleasure in my
    society; I was a stranger; this was exactly one of those rare
    conjunctures.... Without being very clear seeing, I can still
    perceive the sun at noonday; and the coloured gentleman deftly
    pocketed a quarter.

    WEDNESDAY. - A little after midnight I convoyed my widow and
    orphans on board the train; and morning found us far into Ohio.
    This had early been a favourite home of my imagination; I have
    played at being in Ohio by the week, and enjoyed some capital sport
    there with a dummy gun, my person being still unbreeched. My
    preference was founded on a work which appeared in CASSELL'S FAMILY
    PAPER, and was read aloud to me by my nurse. It narrated the
    doings of one Custaloga, an Indian brave, who, in the last chapter,
    very obligingly washed the paint off his face and became Sir
    Reginald Somebody-or-other; a trick I never forgave him. The idea
    of a man being an Indian brave, and then giving that up to be a
    baronet, was one which my mind rejected. It offended
    verisimilitude, like the pretended anxiety of Robinson Crusoe and
    others to escape from uninhabited islands.

    But Ohio was not at all as I had pictured it. We were now on those
    great plains which stretch unbroken to the Rocky Mountains. The
    country was flat like Holland, but far from being dull. All
    through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, or for as much as I saw
    of them from the train and in my waking moments, it was rich and
    various, and breathed an elegance peculiar to itself. The tall
    corn pleased the eye; the trees were graceful in themselves, and
    framed the plain into long, aerial vistas; and the clean, bright,
    gardened townships spoke of country fare and pleasant summer
    evenings on the stoop. It was a sort of flat paradise; but, I am
    afraid, not unfrequented by the devil. That morning dawned with
    such a freezing chill as I have rarely felt; a chill that was not
    perhaps so measurable by instrument, as it struck home upon the
    heart and seemed to travel with the blood. Day came in with a
    shudder. White mists lay thinly over the surface of the plain, as
    we see them more often on a lake; and though the sun had soon
    dispersed and drunk them up, leaving an atmosphere of fever heat
    and crystal pureness from horizon to horizon, the mists had still
    been there, and we knew that this paradise was haunted by killing
    damps and foul malaria. The fences along the line bore but two
    descriptions of advertisement; one to recommend tobaccos, and the
    other to vaunt remedies against the ague. At the point of day, and
    while we were all in the grasp of that first chill, a native of the
    state, who had got in at some way station, pronounced it, with a
    doctoral air, "a fever and ague morning."

    The Dutch widow was a person of some character. She had conceived
    at first sight a great aversion for the present writer, which she
    was at no pains to conceal. But being a woman of a practical
    spirit, she made no difficulty about accepting my attentions, and
    encouraged me to buy her children fruits and candies, to carry all
    her parcels, and even to sleep upon the floor that she might profit
    by my empty seat. Nay, she was such a rattle by nature, and, so
    powerfully moved to autobiographical talk, that she was forced, for
    want of a better, to take me into confidence and tell me the story
    of her life. I heard about her late husband, who seemed to have
    made his chief impression by taking her out pleasuring on Sundays.
    I could tell you her prospects, her hopes, the amount of her
    fortune, the cost of her housekeeping by the week, and a variety of
    particular matters that are not usually disclosed except to
    friends. At one station, she shook up her children to look at a
    man on the platform and say if he were not like Mr. Z.; while to me
    she explained how she had been keeping company with this Mr. Z.,
    how far matters had proceeded, and how it was because of his
    desistance that she was now travelling to the West. Then, when I
    was thus put in possession of the facts, she asked my judgment on
    that type of manly beauty. I admired it to her heart's content.
    She was not, I think, remarkably veracious in talk, but broidered
    as fancy prompted, and built castles in the air out of her past;
    yet she had that sort of candour, to keep me, in spite of all these
    confidences, steadily aware of her aversion. Her parting words
    were ingeniously honest. "I am sure," said she, "we all OUGHT to
    be very much obliged to you." I cannot pretend that she put me at
    my ease; but I had a certain respect for such a genuine dislike. A
    poor nature would have slipped, in the course of these
    familiarities, into a sort of worthless toleration for me.

    We reached Chicago in the evening. I was turned out of the cars,
    bundled into an omnibus, and driven off through the streets to the
    station of a different railroad. Chicago seemed a great and gloomy
    city. I remember having subscribed, let us say sixpence, towards
    its restoration at the period of the fire; and now when I beheld
    street after street of ponderous houses and crowds of comfortable
    burghers, I thought it would be a graceful act for the corporation
    to refund that sixpence, or, at the least, to entertain me to a
    cheerful dinner. But there was no word of restitution. I was that
    city's benefactor, yet I was received in a third-class waiting-
    room, and the best dinner I could get was a dish of ham and eggs at
    my own expense.

    I can safely say, I have never been so dog-tired as that night in
    Chicago. When it was time to start, I descended the platform like
    a man in a dream. It was a long train, lighted from end to end;
    and car after car, as I came up with it, was not only filled but
    overflowing. My valise, my knapsack, my rug, with those six
    ponderous tomes of Bancroft, weighed me double; I was hot,
    feverish, painfully athirst; and there was a great darkness over
    me, an internal darkness, not to be dispelled by gas. When at last
    I found an empty bench, I sank into it like a bundle of rags, the
    world seemed to swim away into the distance, and my consciousness
    dwindled within me to a mere pin's head, like a taper on a foggy
    night.

    When I came a little more to myself, I found that there had sat
    down beside me a very cheerful, rosy little German gentleman,
    somewhat gone in drink, who was talking away to me, nineteen to the
    dozen, as they say. I did my best to keep up the conversation; for
    it seemed to me dimly as if something depended upon that. I heard
    him relate, among many other things, that there were pickpockets on
    the train, who had already robbed a man of forty dollars and a
    return ticket; but though I caught the words, I do not think I
    properly understood the sense until next morning; and I believe I
    replied at the time that I was very glad to hear it. What else he
    talked about I have no guess; I remember a gabbling sound of words,
    his profuse gesticulation, and his smile, which was highly
    explanatory: but no more. And I suppose I must have shown my
    confusion very plainly; for, first, I saw him knit his brows at me
    like one who has conceived a doubt; next, he tried me in German,
    supposing perhaps that I was unfamiliar with the English tongue;
    and finally, in despair, he rose and left me. I felt chagrined;
    but my fatigue was too crushing for delay, and, stretching myself
    as far as that was possible upon the bench, I was received at once
    into a dreamless stupor.

    The little German gentleman was only going a little way into the
    suburbs after a DINER FIN, and was bent on entertainment while the
    journey lasted. Having failed with me, he pitched next upon
    another emigrant, who had come through from Canada, and was not one
    jot less weary than myself. Nay, even in a natural state, as I
    found next morning when we scraped acquaintance, he was a heavy,
    uncommunicative man. After trying him on different topics, it
    appears that the little German gentleman flounced into a temper,
    swore an oath or two, and departed from that car in quest of
    livelier society. Poor little gentleman! I suppose he thought an
    emigrant should be a rollicking, free-hearted blade, with a flask
    of foreign brandy and a long, comical story to beguile the moments
    of digestion.

    THURSDAY. - I suppose there must be a cycle in the fatigue of
    travelling, for when I awoke next morning, I was entirely renewed
    in spirits and ate a hearty breakfast of porridge, with sweet milk,
    and coffee and hot cakes, at Burlington upon the Mississippi.
    Another long day's ride followed, with but one feature worthy of
    remark. At a place called Creston, a drunken man got in. He was
    aggressively friendly, but, according to English notions, not at
    all unpresentable upon a train. For one stage he eluded the notice
    of the officials; but just as we were beginning to move out of the
    next station, Cromwell by name, by came the conductor. There was a
    word or two of talk; and then the official had the man by the
    shoulders, twitched him from his seat, marched him through the car,
    and sent him flying on to the track. It was done in three motions,
    as exact as a piece of drill. The train was still moving slowly,
    although beginning to mend her pace, and the drunkard got his feet
    without a fall. He carried a red bundle, though not so red as his
    cheeks; and he shook this menacingly in the air with one hand,
    while the other stole behind him to the region of the kidneys. It
    was the first indication that I had come among revolvers, and I
    observed it with some emotion. The conductor stood on the steps
    with one hand on his hip, looking back at him; and perhaps this
    attitude imposed upon the creature, for he turned without further
    ado, and went off staggering along the track towards Cromwell
    followed by a peal of laughter from the cars. They were speaking
    English all about me, but I knew I was in a foreign land.

    Twenty minutes before nine that night, we were deposited at the
    Pacific Transfer Station near Council Bluffs, on the eastern bank
    of the Missouri river. Here we were to stay the night at a kind of
    caravanserai, set apart for emigrants. But I gave way to a thirst
    for luxury, separated myself from my companions, and marched with
    my effects into the Union Pacific Hotel. A white clerk and a
    coloured gentleman whom, in my plain European way, I should call
    the boots, were installed behind a counter like bank tellers. They
    took my name, assigned me a number, and proceeded to deal with my
    packages. And here came the tug of war. I wished to give up my
    packages into safe keeping; but I did not wish to go to bed. And
    this, it appeared, was impossible in an American hotel.

    It was, of course, some inane misunderstanding, and sprang from my
    unfamiliarity with the language. For although two nations use the
    same words and read the same books, intercourse is not conducted by
    the dictionary. The business of life is not carried on by words,
    but in set phrases, each with a special and almost a slang
    signification. Some international obscurity prevailed between me
    and the coloured gentleman at Council Bluffs; so that what I was
    asking, which seemed very natural to me, appeared to him a
    monstrous exigency. He refused, and that with the plainness of the
    West. This American manner of conducting matters of business is,
    at first, highly unpalatable to the European. When we approach a
    man in the way of his calling, and for those services by which he
    earns his bread, we consider him for the time being our hired
    servant. But in the American opinion, two gentlemen meet and have
    a friendly talk with a view to exchanging favours if they shall
    agree to please. I know not which is the more convenient, nor even
    which is the more truly courteous. The English stiffness
    unfortunately tends to be continued after the particular
    transaction is at an end, and thus favours class separations. But
    on the other hand, these equalitarian plainnesses leave an open
    field for the insolence of Jack-in-office.

    I was nettled by the coloured gentleman's refusal, and unbuttoned
    my wrath under the similitude of ironical submission. I knew
    nothing, I said, of the ways of American hotels; but I had no
    desire to give trouble. If there was nothing for it but to get to
    bed immediately, let him say the word, and though it was not my
    habit, I should cheerfully obey.

    He burst into a shout of laughter. "Ah!" said he, "you do not know
    about America. They are fine people in America. Oh! you will like
    them very well. But you mustn't get mad. I know what you want.
    You come along with me."

    And issuing from behind the counter, and taking me by the arm like
    an old acquaintance, he led me to the bar of the hotel.

    "There," said he, pushing me from him by the shoulder, "go and have
    a drink!"

    THE EMIGRANT TRAIN

    All this while I had been travelling by mixed trains, where I might
    meet with Dutch widows and little German gentry fresh from table.
    I had been but a latent emigrant; now I was to be branded once
    more, and put apart with my fellows. It was about two in the
    afternoon of Friday that I found myself in front of the Emigrant
    House, with more than a hundred others, to be sorted and boxed for
    the journey. A white-haired official, with a stick under one arm,
    and a list in the other hand, stood apart in front of us, and
    called name after name in the tone of a command. At each name you
    would see a family gather up its brats and bundles and run for the
    hindmost of the three cars that stood awaiting us, and I soon
    concluded that this was to be set apart for the women and children.
    The second or central car, it turned out, was devoted to men
    travelling alone, and the third to the Chinese. The official was
    easily moved to anger at the least delay; but the emigrants were
    both quick at answering their names, and speedy in getting
    themselves and their effects on board.

    The families once housed, we men carried the second car without
    ceremony by simultaneous assault. I suppose the reader has some
    notion of an American railroad-car, that long, narrow wooden box,
    like a flat-roofed Noah's ark, with a stove and a convenience, one
    at either end, a passage down the middle, and transverse benches
    upon either hand. Those destined for emigrants on the Union
    Pacific are only remarkable for their extreme plainness, nothing
    but wood entering in any part into their constitution, and for the
    usual inefficacy of the lamps, which often went out and shed but a
    dying glimmer even while they burned. The benches are too short
    for anything but a young child. Where there is scarce elbow-room
    for two to sit, there will not be space enough for one to lie.
    Hence the company, or rather, as it appears from certain bills
    about the Transfer Station, the company's servants, have conceived
    a plan for the better accommodation of travellers. They prevail on
    every two to chum together. To each of the chums they sell a board
    and three square cushions stuffed with straw, and covered with thin
    cotton. The benches can be made to face each other in pairs, for
    the backs are reversible. On the approach of night the boards are
    laid from bench to bench, making a couch wide enough for two, and
    long enough for a man of the middle height; and the chums lie down
    side by side upon the cushions with the head to the conductor's van
    and the feet to the engine. When the train is full, of course this
    plan is impossible, for there must not be more than one to every
    bench, neither can it be carried out unless the chums agree. It
    was to bring about this last condition that our white-haired
    official now bestirred himself. He made a most active master of
    ceremonies, introducing likely couples, and even guaranteeing the
    amiability and honesty of each. The greater the number of happy
    couples the better for his pocket, for it was he who sold the raw
    material of the beds. His price for one board and three straw
    cushions began with two dollars and a half; but before the train
    left, and, I am sorry to say, long after I had purchased mine, it
    had fallen to one dollar and a half.

    The match-maker had a difficulty with me; perhaps, like some
    ladies, I showed myself too eager for union at any price; but
    certainly the first who was picked out to be my bedfellow, declined
    the honour without thanks. He was an old, heavy, slow-spoken man,
    I think from Yankeeland, looked me all over with great timidity,
    and then began to excuse himself in broken phrases. He didn't know
    the young man, he said. The young man might be very honest, but
    how was he to know that? There was another young man whom he had
    met already in the train; he guessed he was honest, and would
    prefer to chum with him upon the whole. All this without any sort
    of excuse, as though I had been inanimate or absent. I began to
    tremble lest every one should refuse my company, and I be left
    rejected. But the next in turn was a tall, strapping, long-limbed,
    small-headed, curly-haired Pennsylvania Dutchman, with a soldierly
    smartness in his manner. To be exact, he had acquired it in the
    navy. But that was all one; he had at least been trained to
    desperate resolves, so he accepted the match, and the white-haired
    swindler pronounced the connubial benediction, and pocketed his
    fees.

    The rest of the afternoon was spent in making up the train. I am
    afraid to say how many baggage-waggons followed the engine,
    certainly a score; then came the Chinese, then we, then the
    families, and the rear was brought up by the conductor in what, if
    I have it rightly, is called his caboose. The class to which I
    belonged was of course far the largest, and we ran over, so to
    speak, to both sides; so that there were some Caucasians among the
    Chinamen, and some bachelors among the families. But our own car
    was pure from admixture, save for one little boy of eight or nine
    who had the whooping-cough. At last, about six, the long train
    crawled out of the Transfer Station and across the wide Missouri
    river to Omaha, westward bound.

    It was a troubled uncomfortable evening in the cars. There was
    thunder in the air, which helped to keep us restless. A man played
    many airs upon the cornet, and none of them were much attended to,
    until he came to "Home, sweet home." It was truly strange to note
    how the talk ceased at that, and the faces began to lengthen. I
    have no idea whether musically this air is to be considered good or
    bad; but it belongs to that class of art which may be best
    described as a brutal assault upon the feelings. Pathos must be
    relieved by dignity of treatment. If you wallow naked in the
    pathetic, like the author of "Home, sweet home," you make your
    hearers weep in an unmanly fashion; and even while yet they are
    moved, they despise themselves and hate the occasion of their
    weakness. It did not come to tears that night, for the experiment
    was interrupted. An elderly, hard-looking man, with a goatee beard
    and about as much appearance of sentiment an you would expect from
    a retired slaver, turned with a start and bade the performer stop
    that "damned thing." "I've heard about enough of that," he added;
    "give us something about the good country we're going to." A
    murmur of adhesion ran round the car; the performer took the
    instrument from his lips, laughed and nodded, and then struck into
    a dancing measure; and, like a new Timotheus, stilled immediately
    the emotion he had raised.

    The day faded; the lamps were lit; a party of wild young men, who
    got off next evening at North Platte, stood together on the stern
    platform, singing "The Sweet By-and-bye" with very tuneful voices;
    the chums began to put up their beds; and it seemed as if the
    business of the day were at an end. But it was not so; for, the
    train stopping at some station, the cars were instantly thronged
    with the natives, wives and fathers, young men and maidens, some of
    them in little more than nightgear, some with stable lanterns, and
    all offering beds for sale. Their charge began with twenty-five
    cents a cushion, but fell, before the train went on again, to
    fifteen, with the bed-board gratis, or less than one-fifth of what
    I had paid for mine at the Transfer. This is my contribution to
    the economy of future emigrants.

    A great personage on an American train is the newsboy. He sells
    books (such books!), papers, fruit, lollipops, and cigars; and on
    emigrant journeys, soap, towels, tin washing dishes, tin coffee
    pitchers, coffee, tea, sugar, and tinned eatables, mostly hash or
    beans and bacon. Early next morning the newsboy went around the
    cars, and chumming on a more extended principle became the order of
    the hour. It requires but a copartnery of two to manage beds; but
    washing and eating can be carried on most economically by a
    syndicate of three. I myself entered a little after sunrise into
    articles of agreement, and became one of the firm of Pennsylvania,
    Shakespeare, and Dubuque. Shakespeare was my own nickname on the
    cars; Pennsylvania that of my bedfellow; and Dubuque, the name of a
    place in the State of Iowa, that of an amiable young fellow going
    west to cure an asthma, and retarding his recovery by incessantly
    chewing or smoking, and sometimes chewing and smoking together. I
    have never seen tobacco so sillily abused. Shakespeare bought a
    tin washing-dish, Dubuque a towel, and Pennsylvania a brick of
    soap. The partners used these instruments, one after another,
    according to the order of their first awaking; and when the firm
    had finished there was no want of borrowers. Each filled the tin
    dish at the water filter opposite the stove, and retired with the
    whole stock in trade to the platform of the car. There he knelt
    down, supporting himself by a shoulder against the woodwork or one
    elbow crooked about the railing, and made a shift to wash his face
    and neck and hands; a cold, an insufficient, and, if the train is
    moving rapidly, a somewhat dangerous toilet.

    On a similar division of expense, the firm of Pennsylvania,
    Shakespeare, and Dubuque supplied themselves with coffee, sugar,
    and necessary vessels; and their operations are a type of what went
    on through all the cars. Before the sun was up the stove would be
    brightly burning; at the first station the natives would come on
    board with milk and eggs and coffee cakes; and soon from end to end
    the car would be filled with little parties breakfasting upon the
    bed-boards. It was the pleasantest hour of the day.

    There were meals to be had, however, by the wayside: a breakfast
    in the morning, a dinner somewhere between eleven and two, and
    supper from five to eight or nine at night. We had rarely less
    than twenty minutes for each; and if we had not spent many another
    twenty minutes waiting for some express upon a side track among
    miles of desert, we might have taken an hour to each repast and
    arrived at San Francisco up to time. For haste is not the foible
    of an emigrant train. It gets through on sufferance, running the
    gauntlet among its more considerable brethren; should there be a
    block, it is unhesitatingly sacrificed; and they cannot, in
    consequence, predict the length of the passage within a day or so.
    Civility is the main comfort that you miss. Equality, though
    conceived very largely in America, does not extend so low down as
    to an emigrant. Thus in all other trains, a warning cry of "All
    aboard!" recalls the passengers to take their seats; but as soon as
    I was alone with emigrants, and from the Transfer all the way to
    San Francisco, I found this ceremony was pretermitted; the train
    stole from the station without note of warning, and you had to keep
    an eye upon it even while you ate. The annoyance is considerable,
    and the disrespect both wanton and petty.

    Many conductors, again, will hold no communication with an
    emigrant. I asked a conductor one day at what time the train would
    stop for dinner; as he made no answer I repeated the question, with
    a like result; a third time I returned to the charge, and then
    Jack-in-office looked me coolly in the face for several seconds and
    turned ostentatiously away. I believe he was half ashamed of his
    brutality; for when another person made the same inquiry, although
    he still refused the information, he condescended to answer, and
    even to justify his reticence in a voice loud enough for me to
    hear. It was, he said, his principle not to tell people where they
    were to dine; for one answer led to many other questions, as what
    o'clock it was? or, how soon should we be there? and he could not
    afford to be eternally worried.

    As you are thus cut off from the superior authorities, a great deal
    of your comfort depends on the character of the newsboy. He has it
    in his power indefinitely to better and brighten the emigrant's
    lot. The newsboy with whom we started from the Transfer was a
    dark, bullying, contemptuous, insolent scoundrel, who treated us
    like dogs. Indeed, in his case, matters came nearly to a fight.
    It happened thus: he was going his rounds through the cars with
    some commodities for sale, and coming to a party who were at SEVEN-
    UP or CASCINO (our two games), upon a bed-board, slung down a
    cigar-box in the middle of the cards, knocking one man's hand to
    the floor. It was the last straw. In a moment the whole party
    were upon their feet, the cigars were upset, and he was ordered to
    "get out of that directly, or he would get more than he reckoned
    for." The fellow grumbled and muttered, but ended by making off,
    and was less openly insulting in the future. On the other hand,
    the lad who rode with us in this capacity from Ogden to Sacramento
    made himself the friend of all, and helped us with information,
    attention, assistance, and a kind countenance. He told us where
    and when we should have our meals, and how long the train would
    stop; kept seats at table for those who were delayed, and watched
    that we should neither be left behind nor yet unnecessarily
    hurried. You, who live at home at ease, can hardly realise the
    greatness of this service, even had it stood alone. When I think
    of that lad coming and going, train after train, with his bright
    face and civil words, I see how easily a good man may become the
    benefactor of his kind. Perhaps he is discontented with himself,
    perhaps troubled with ambitions; why, if he but knew it, he is a
    hero of the old Greek stamp; and while he thinks he is only earning
    a profit of a few cents, and that perhaps exorbitant, he is doing a
    man's work, and bettering the world.

    I must tell here an experience of mine with another newsboy. I
    tell it because it gives so good an example of that uncivil
    kindness of the American, which is perhaps their most bewildering
    character to one newly landed. It was immediately after I had left
    the emigrant train; and I am told I looked like a man at death's
    door, so much had this long journey shaken me. I sat at the end of
    a car, and the catch being broken, and myself feverish and sick, I
    had to hold the door open with my foot for the sake of air. In
    this attitude my leg debarred the newsboy from his box of
    merchandise. I made haste to let him pass when I observed that he
    was coming; but I was busy with a book, and so once or twice he
    came upon me unawares. On these occasions he most rudely struck my
    foot aside; and though I myself apologised, as if to show him the
    way, he answered me never a word. I chafed furiously, and I fear
    the next time it would have come to words. But suddenly I felt a
    touch upon my shoulder, and a large juicy pear was put into my
    hand. It was the newsboy, who had observed that I was looking ill,
    and so made me this present out of a tender heart. For the rest of
    the journey I was petted like a sick child; he lent me newspapers,
    thus depriving himself of his legitimate profit on their sale, and
    came repeatedly to sit by me and cheer me up.

    THE PLAINS OF NEBRASKA

    It had thundered on the Friday night, but the sun rose on Saturday
    without a cloud. We were at sea - there is no other adequate
    expression - on the plains of Nebraska. I made my observatory on
    the top of a fruit-waggon, and sat by the hour upon that perch to
    spy about me, and to spy in vain for something new. It was a world
    almost without a feature; an empty sky, an empty earth; front and
    back, the line of railway stretched from horizon to horizon, like a
    cue across a billiard-board; on either hand, the green plain ran
    till it touched the skirts of heaven. Along the track innumerable
    wild sunflowers, no bigger than a crown-piece, bloomed in a
    continuous flower-bed; grazing beasts were seen upon the prairie at
    all degrees of distance and diminution; and now and again we might
    perceive a few dots beside the railroad which grew more and more
    distinct as we drew nearer till they turned into wooden cabins, and
    then dwindled and dwindled in our wake until they melted into their
    surroundings, and we were once more alone upon the billiard-board.
    The train toiled over this infinity like a snail; and being the one
    thing moving, it was wonderful what huge proportions it began to
    assume in our regard. It seemed miles in length, and either end of
    it within but a step of the horizon. Even my own body or my own
    head seemed a great thing in that emptiness. I note the feeling
    the more readily as it is the contrary of what I have read of in
    the experience of others. Day and night, above the roar of the
    train, our ears were kept busy with the incessant chirp of
    grasshoppers - a noise like the winding up of countless clocks and
    watches, which began after a while to seem proper to that land.

    To one hurrying through by steam there was a certain exhilaration
    in this spacious vacancy, this greatness of the air, this discovery
    of the whole arch of heaven, this straight, unbroken, prison-line
    of the horizon. Yet one could not but reflect upon the weariness
    of those who passed by there in old days, at the foot's pace of
    oxen, painfully urging their teams, and with no landmark but that
    unattainable evening sun for which they steered, and which daily
    fled them by an equal stride. They had nothing, it would seem, to
    overtake; nothing by which to reckon their advance; no sight for
    repose or for encouragement; but stage after stage, only the dead
    green waste under foot, and the mocking, fugitive horizon. But the
    eye, as I have been told, found differences even here; and at the
    worst the emigrant came, by perseverance, to the end of his toil.
    It is the settlers, after all, at whom we have a right to marvel.
    Our consciousness, by which we live, is itself but the creature of
    variety. Upon what food does it subsist in such a land? What
    livelihood can repay a human creature for a life spent in this huge
    sameness? He is cut off from books, from news, from company, from
    all that can relieve existence but the prosecution of his affairs.
    A sky full of stars is the most varied spectacle that he can hope.
    He may walk five miles and see nothing; ten, and it is as though he
    had not moved; twenty, and still he is in the midst of the same
    great level, and has approached no nearer to the one object within
    view, the flat horizon which keeps pace with his advance. We are
    full at home of the question of agreeable wall-papers, and wise
    people are of opinion that the temper may be quieted by sedative
    surroundings. But what is to be said of the Nebraskan settler?
    His is a wall-paper with a vengeance - one quarter of the universe
    laid bare in all its gauntness.

    His eye must embrace at every glance the whole seeming concave of
    the visible world; it quails before so vast an outlook, it is
    tortured by distance; yet there is no rest or shelter till the man
    runs into his cabin, and can repose his sight upon things near at
    hand. Hence, I am told, a sickness of the vision peculiar to these
    empty plains.

    Yet perhaps with sunflowers and cicadae, summer and winter, cattle,
    wife and family, the settler may create a full and various
    existence. One person at least I saw upon the plains who seemed in
    every way superior to her lot. This was a woman who boarded us at
    a way station, selling milk. She was largely formed; her features
    were more than comely; she had that great rarity - a fine
    complexion which became her; and her eyes were kind, dark, and
    steady. She sold milk with patriarchal grace. There was not a
    line in her countenance, not a note in her soft and sleepy voice,
    but spoke of an entire contentment with her life. It would have
    been fatuous arrogance to pity such a woman. Yet the place where
    she lived was to me almost ghastly. Less than a dozen wooden
    houses, all of a shape and all nearly of a size, stood planted
    along the railway lines. Each stood apart in its own lot. Each
    opened direct off the billiard-board, as if it were a billiard-
    board indeed, and these only models that had been set down upon it
    ready made. Her own, into which I looked, was clean but very
    empty, and showed nothing homelike but the burning fire. This
    extreme newness, above all in so naked and flat a country, gives a
    strong impression of artificiality. With none of the litter and
    discoloration of human life; with the paths unworn, and the houses
    still sweating from the axe, such a settlement as this seems purely
    scenic. The mind is loth to accept it for a piece of reality; and
    it seems incredible that life can go on with so few properties, or
    the great child, man, find entertainment in so bare a playroom.

    And truly it is as yet an incomplete society in some points; or at
    least it contained, as I passed through, one person incompletely
    civilised. At North Platte, where we supped that evening, one man
    asked another to pass the milk-jug. This other was well-dressed
    and of what we should call a respectable appearance; a darkish man,
    high spoken, eating as though he had some usage of society; but he
    turned upon the first speaker with extraordinary vehemence of tone
    -

    "There's a waiter here!" he cried.

    "I only asked you to pass the milk," explained the first.

    Here is the retort verbatim -

    "Pass! Hell! I'm not paid for that business; the waiter's paid
    for it. You should use civility at table, and, by God, I'll show
    you how!"

    The other man very wisely made no answer, and the bully went on
    with his supper as though nothing had occurred. It pleases me to
    think that some day soon he will meet with one of his own kidney;
    and that perhaps both may fall.

    THE DESERT OF WYOMING

    To cross such a plain is to grow homesick for the mountains. I
    longed for the Black Hills of Wyoming, which I knew we were soon to
    enter, like an ice-bound whaler for the spring. Alas! and it was a
    worse country than the other. All Sunday and Monday we travelled
    through these sad mountains, or over the main ridge of the Rockies,
    which is a fair match to them for misery of aspect. Hour after
    hour it was the same unhomely and unkindly world about our onward
    path; tumbled boulders, cliffs that drearily imitate the shape of
    monuments and fortifications - how drearily, how tamely, none can
    tell who has not seen them; not a tree, not a patch of sward, not
    one shapely or commanding mountain form; sage-brush, eternal sage-
    brush; over all, the same weariful and gloomy colouring, grays
    warming into brown, grays darkening towards black; and for sole
    sign of life, here and there a few fleeing antelopes; here and
    there, but at incredible intervals, a creek running in a canon.
    The plains have a grandeur of their own; but here there is nothing
    but a contorted smallness. Except for the air, which was light and
    stimulating, there was not one good circumstance in that God-
    forsaken land.

    I had been suffering in my health a good deal all the way; and at
    last, whether I was exhausted by my complaint or poisoned in some
    wayside eating-house, the evening we left Laramie, I fell sick
    outright. That was a night which I shall not readily forget. The
    lamps did not go out; each made a faint shining in its own
    neighbourhood, and the shadows were confounded together in the
    long, hollow box of the car. The sleepers lay in uneasy attitudes;
    here two chums alongside, flat upon their backs like dead folk;
    there a man sprawling on the floor, with his face upon his arm;
    there another half seated with his head and shoulders on the bench.
    The most passive were continually and roughly shaken by the
    movement of the train; others stirred, turned, or stretched out
    their arms like children; it was surprising how many groaned and
    murmured in their sleep; and as I passed to and fro, stepping
    across the prostrate, and caught now a snore, now a gasp, now a
    half-formed word, it gave me a measure of the worthlessness of rest
    in that unresting vehicle. Although it was chill, I was obliged to
    open my window, for the degradation of the air soon became
    intolerable to one who was awake and using the full supply of life.
    Outside, in a glimmering night, I saw the black, amorphous hills
    shoot by unweariedly into our wake. They that long for morning
    have never longed for it more earnestly than I.

    And yet when day came, it was to shine upon the same broken and
    unsightly quarter of the world. Mile upon mile, and not a tree, a
    bird, or a river. Only down the long, sterile canons, the train
    shot hooting and awoke the resting echo. That train was the one
    piece of life in all the deadly land; it was the one actor, the one
    spectacle fit to be observed in this paralysis of man and nature.
    And when I think how the railroad has been pushed through this
    unwatered wilderness and haunt of savage tribes, and now will bear
    an emigrant for some 12 pounds from the Atlantic to the Golden
    Gates; how at each stage of the construction, roaring, impromptu
    cities, full of gold and lust and death, sprang up and then died
    away again, and are now but wayside stations in the desert; how in
    these uncouth places pig-tailed Chinese pirates worked side by side
    with border ruffians and broken men from Europe, talking together
    in a mixed dialect, mostly oaths, gambling, drinking, quarrelling
    and murdering like wolves; how the plumed hereditary lord of all
    America heard, in this last fastness, the scream of the "bad
    medicine waggon" charioting his foes; and then when I go on to
    remember that all this epical turmoil was conducted by gentlemen in
    frock coats, and with a view to nothing more extraordinary than a
    fortune and a subsequent visit to Paris, it seems to me, I own, as
    if this railway were the one typical achievement of the age in
    which we live, as if it brought together into one plot all the ends
    of the world and all the degrees of social rank, and offered to
    some great writer the busiest, the most extended, and the most
    varied subject for an enduring literary work. If it be romance, if
    it be contrast, if it be heroism that we require, what was Troy
    town to this? But, alas! it is not these things that are necessary
    - it is only Homer.

    Here also we are grateful to the train, as to some god who conducts
    us swiftly through these shades and by so many hidden perils.
    Thirst, hunger, the sleight and ferocity of Indians are all no more
    feared, so lightly do we skim these horrible lands; as the gull,
    who wings safely through the hurricane and past the shark. Yet we
    should not be forgetful of these hardships of the past; and to keep
    the balance true, since I have complained of the trifling
    discomforts of my journey, perhaps more than was enough, let me add
    an original document. It was not written by Homer, but by a boy of
    eleven, long since dead, and is dated only twenty years ago. I
    shall punctuate, to make things clearer, but not change the
    spelling.

    "My dear Sister Mary, - I am afraid you will go nearly crazy when
    you read my letter. If Jerry" (the writer's eldest brother) "has
    not written to you before now, you will be surprised to heare that
    we are in California, and that poor Thomas" (another brother, of
    fifteen) "is dead. We started from - in July, with plenly of
    provisions and too yoke oxen. We went along very well till we got
    within six or seven hundred miles of California, when the Indians
    attacked us. We found places where they had killed the emigrants.
    We had one passenger with us, too guns, and one revolver; so we ran
    all the lead We had into bullets (and) hung the guns up in the
    wagon so that we could get at them in a minit. It was about two
    o'clock in the afternoon; droave the cattel a little way; when a
    prairie chicken alited a little way from the wagon.

    "Jerry took out one of the guns to shoot it, and told Tom drive the
    oxen. Tom and I drove the oxen, and Jerry and the passenger went
    on. Then, after a little, I left Tom and caught up with Jerry and
    the other man. Jerry stopped Tom to come up; me and the man went
    on and sit down by a little stream. In a few minutes, we heard
    some noise; then three shots (they all struck poor Tom, I suppose);
    then they gave the war hoop, and as many as twenty of the redskins
    came down upon us. The three that shot Tom was hid by the side of
    the road in the bushes.

    "I thought the Tom and Jerry were shot; so I told the other man
    that Tom and Jerry were dead, and that we had better try to escape,
    if possible. I had no shoes on; having a sore foot, I thought I
    would not put them on. The man and me run down the road, but We
    was soon stopped by an Indian on a pony. We then turend the other
    way, and run up the side of the Mountain, and hid behind some cedar
    trees, and stayed there till dark. The Indians hunted all over
    after us, and verry close to us, so close that we could here there
    tomyhawks Jingle. At dark the man and me started on, I stubing my
    toes against sticks and stones. We traveld on all night; and next
    morning, just as it was getting gray, we saw something in the shape
    of a man. It layed Down in the grass. We went up to it, and it
    was Jerry. He thought we ware Indians. You can imagine how glad
    he was to see me. He thought we was all dead but him, and we
    thought him and Tom was dead. He had the gun that he took out of
    the wagon to shoot the prairie Chicken; all he had was the load
    that was in it.

    "We traveld on till about eight o'clock, We caught up with one
    wagon with too men with it. We had traveld with them before one
    day; we stopt and they Drove on; we knew that they was ahead of us,
    unless they had been killed to. My feet was so sore when we caught
    up with them that I had to ride; I could not step. We traveld on
    for too days, when the men that owned the cattle said they would
    (could) not drive them another inch. We unyoked the oxen; we had
    about seventy pounds of flour; we took it out and divided it into
    four packs. Each of the men took about 18 pounds apiece and a
    blanket. I carried a little bacon, dried meat, and little quilt; I
    had in all about twelve pounds. We had one pint of flour a day for
    our alloyance. Sometimes we made soup of it; sometimes we (made)
    pancakes; and sometimes mixed it up with cold water and eat it that
    way. We traveld twelve or fourteen days. The time came at last
    when we should have to reach some place or starve. We saw fresh
    horse and cattle tracks. The morning come, we scraped all the
    flour out of the sack, mixed it up, and baked it into bread, and
    made some soup, and eat everything we had. We traveld on all day
    without anything to eat, and that evening we Caught up with a sheep
    train of eight wagons. We traveld with them till we arrived at the
    settlements; and know I am safe in California, and got to good
    home, and going to school.

    "Jerry is working in - . It is a good country. You can get from
    50 to 60 and 75 Dollars for cooking. Tell me all about the affairs
    in the States, and how all the folks get along."

    And so ends this artless narrative. The little man was at school
    again, God bless him, while his brother lay scalped upon the
    deserts.

    FELLOW-PASSENGERS

    At Ogden we changed cars from the Union Pacific to the Central
    Pacific line of railroad. The change was doubly welcome; for,
    first, we had better cars on the new line; and, second, those in
    which we had been cooped for more than ninety hours had begun to
    stink abominably. Several yards away, as we returned, let us say
    from dinner, our nostrils were assailed by rancid air. I have
    stood on a platform while the whole train was shunting; and as the
    dwelling-cars drew near, there would come a whiff of pure
    menagerie, only a little sourer, as from men instead of monkeys. I
    think we are human only in virtue of open windows. Without fresh
    air, you only require a bad heart, and a remarkable command of the
    Queen's English, to become such another as Dean Swift; a kind of
    leering, human goat, leaping and wagging your scut on mountains of
    offence. I do my best to keep my head the other way, and look for
    the human rather than the bestial in this Yahoo-like business of
    the emigrant train. But one thing I must say, the car of the
    Chinese was notably the least offensive.

    The cars on the Central Pacific were nearly twice as high, and so
    proportionally airier; they were freshly varnished, which gave us
    all a sense of cleanliness an though we had bathed; the seats drew
    out and joined in the centre, so that there was no more need for
    bed boards; and there was an upper tier of berths which could be
    closed by day and opened at night.

    I had by this time some opportunity of seeing the people whom I was
    among. They were in rather marked contrast to the emigrants I had
    met on board ship while crossing the Atlantic. They were mostly
    lumpish fellows, silent and noisy, a common combination; somewhat
    sad, I should say, with an extraordinary poor taste in humour, and
    little interest in their fellow-creatures beyond that of a cheap
    and merely external curiosity. If they heard a man's name and
    business, they seemed to think they had the heart of that mystery;
    but they were as eager to know that much as they were indifferent
    to the rest. Some of them were on nettles till they learned your
    name was Dickson and you a journeyman baker; but beyond that,
    whether you were Catholic or Mormon, dull or clever, fierce or
    friendly, was all one to them. Others who were not so stupid,
    gossiped a little, and, I am bound to say, unkindly. A favourite
    witticism was for some lout to raise the alarm of "All aboard!"
    while the rest of us were dining, thus contributing his mite to the
    general discomfort. Such a one was always much applauded for his
    high spirits. When I was ill coming through Wyoming, I was
    astonished - fresh from the eager humanity on board ship - to meet
    with little but laughter. One of the young men even amused himself
    by incommoding me, as was then very easy; and that not from ill-
    nature, but mere clodlike incapacity to think, for he expected me
    to join the laugh. I did so, but it was phantom merriment. Later
    on, a man from Kansas had three violent epileptic fits, and though,
    of course, there were not wanting some to help him, it was rather
    superstitious terror than sympathy that his case evoked among his
    fellow-passengers. "Oh, I hope he's not going to die!" cried a
    woman; "it would be terrible to have a dead body!" And there was a
    very general movement to leave the man behind at the next station.
    This, by good fortune, the conductor negatived.

    There was a good deal of story-telling in some quarters; in others,
    little but silence. In this society, more than any other that ever
    I was in, it was the narrator alone who seemed to enjoy the
    narrative. It was rarely that any one listened for the listening.
    If he lent an ear to another man's story, it was because he was in
    immediate want of a hearer for one of his own. Food and the
    progress of the train were the subjects most generally treated;
    many joined to discuss these who otherwise would hold their
    tongues. One small knot had no better occupation than to worm out
    of me my name; and the more they tried, the more obstinately fixed
    I grew to baffle them. They assailed me with artful questions and
    insidious offers of correspondence in the future; but I was
    perpetually on my guard, and parried their assaults with inward
    laughter. I am sure Dubuque would have given me ten dollars for
    the secret. He owed me far more, had he understood life, for thus
    preserving him a lively interest throughout the journey. I met one
    of my fellow-passengers months after, driving a street tramway car
    in San Francisco; and, as the joke was now out of season, told him
    my name without subterfuge. You never saw a man more chapfallen.
    But had my name been Demogorgon, after so prolonged a mystery he
    had still been disappointed.

    There were no emigrants direct from Europe - save one German family
    and a knot of Cornish miners who kept grimly by themselves, one
    reading the New Testament all day long through steel spectacles,
    the rest discussing privately the secrets of their old-world,
    mysterious race. Lady Hester Stanhope believed she could make
    something great of the Cornish; for my part, I can make nothing of
    them at all. A division of races, older and more original than
    that of Babel, keeps this close, esoteric family apart from
    neighbouring Englishmen. Not even a Red Indian seems more foreign
    in my eyes. This is one of the lessons of travel - that some of
    the strangest races dwell next door to you at home.

    The rest were all American born, but they came from almost every
    quarter of that Continent. All the States of the North had sent
    out a fugitive to cross the plains with me. From Virginia, from
    Pennsylvania, from New York, from far western Iowa and Kansas, from
    Maime that borders on the Canadas, and from the Canadas themselves
    - some one or two were fleeing in quest of a better land and better
    wages. The talk in the train, like the talk I heard on the
    steamer, ran upon hard times, short commons, and hope that moves
    ever westward. I thought of my shipful from Great Britain with a
    feeling of despair. They had come 3000 miles, and yet not far
    enough. Hard times bowed them out of the Clyde, and stood to
    welcome them at Sandy Hook. Where were they to go? Pennsylvania,
    Maine, Iowa, Kansas? These were not places for immigration, but
    for emigration, it appeared; not one of them, but I knew a man who
    had lifted up his heel and left it for an ungrateful country. And
    it was still westward that they ran. Hunger, you would have
    thought, came out of the east like the sun, and the evening was
    made of edible gold. And, meantime, in the car in front of me,
    were there not half a hundred emigrants from the opposite quarter?
    Hungry Europe and hungry China, each pouring from their gates in
    search of provender, had here come face to face. The two waves had
    met; east and west had alike failed; the whole round world had been
    prospected and condemned; there was no El Dorado anywhere; and till
    one could emigrate to the moon, it seemed as well to stay patiently
    at home. Nor was there wanting another sign, at once more
    picturesque and more disheartening; for, as we continued to steam
    westward toward the land of gold, we were continually passing other
    emigrant trains upon the journey east; and these were as crowded as
    our own. Had all these return voyagers made a fortune in the
    mines? Were they all bound for Paris, and to be in Rome by Easter?
    It would seem not, for, whenever we met them, the passengers ran on
    the platform and cried to us through the windows, in a kind of
    wailing chorus, to "come back." On the plains of Nebraska, in the
    mountains of Wyoming, it was still the same cry, and dismal to my
    heart, "Come back!" That was what we heard by the way "about the
    good country we were going to." And at that very hour the Sand-lot
    of San Francisco was crowded with the unemployed, and the echo from
    the other side of Market Street was repeating the rant of
    demagogues.

    If, in truth, it were only for the sake of wages that men emigrate,
    how many thousands would regret the bargain! But wages, indeed,
    are only one consideration out of many; for we are a race of
    gipsies, and love change and travel for themselves.

    DESPISED RACES

    Of all stupid ill-feelings, the sentiment of my fellow Caucasians
    towards our companions in the Chinese car was the most stupid and
    the worst. They seemed never to have looked at them, listened to
    them, or thought of them, but hated them A PRIORI. The Mongols
    were their enemies in that cruel and treacherous battle-field of
    money. They could work better and cheaper in half a hundred
    industries, and hence there was no calumny too idle for the
    Caucasians to repeat, and even to believe. They declared them
    hideous vermin, and affected a kind of choking in the throat when
    they beheld them. Now, as a matter of fact, the young Chinese man
    is so like a large class of European women, that on raising my head
    and suddenly catching sight of one at a considerable distance, I
    have for an instant been deceived by the resemblance. I do not say
    it is the most attractive class of our women, but for all that many
    a man's wife is less pleasantly favoured. Again, my emigrants
    declared that the Chinese were dirty. I cannot say they were
    clean, for that was impossible upon the journey; but in their
    efforts after cleanliness they put the rest of us to shame. We all
    pigged and stewed in one infamy, wet our hands and faces for half a
    minute daily on the platform, and were unashamed. But the Chinese
    never lost an opportunity, and you would see them washing their
    feet - an act not dreamed of among ourselves - and going as far as
    decency permitted to wash their whole bodies. I may remark by the
    way that the dirtier people are in their persons the more delicate
    is their sense of modesty. A clean man strips in a crowded
    boathouse; but he who is unwashed slinks in and out of bed without
    uncovering an inch of skin. Lastly, these very foul and malodorous
    Caucasians entertained the surprising illusion that it was the
    Chinese waggon, and that alone, which stank. I have said already
    that it was the exceptions and notably the freshest of the three.

    These judgments are typical of the feeling in all Western America.
    The Chinese are considered stupid, because they are imperfectly
    acquainted with English. They are held to be base, because their
    dexterity and frugality enable them to underbid the lazy, luxurious
    Caucasian. They are said to be thieves; I am sure they have no
    monopoly of that. They are called cruel; the Anglo-Saxon and the
    cheerful Irishman may each reflect before he bears the accusation.
    I am told, again, that they are of the race of river pirates, and
    belong to the most despised and dangerous class in the Celestial
    Empire. But if this be so, what remarkable pirates have we here!
    and what must be the virtues, the industry, the education, and the
    intelligence of their superiors at home!

    Awhile ago it was the Irish, now it is the Chinese that must go.
    Such is the cry. It seems, after all, that no country is bound to
    submit to immigration any more than to invasion; each is war to the
    knife, and resistance to either but legitimate defence. Yet we may
    regret the free tradition of the republic, which loved to depict
    herself with open arms, welcoming all unfortunates. And certainly,
    as a man who believes that he loves freedom, I may be excused some
    bitterness when I find her sacred name misused in the contention.
    It was but the other day that I heard a vulgar fellow in the Sand-
    lot, the popular tribune of San Francisco, roaring for arms and
    butchery. "At the call of Abraham Lincoln," said the orator, "ye
    rose in the name of freedom to set free the negroes; can ye not
    rise and liberate yourselves from a few dirty Mongolians?"

    For my own part, I could not look but with wonder and respect on
    the Chinese. Their forefathers watched the stars before mine had
    begun to keep pigs. Gun-powder and printing, which the other day
    we imitated, and a school of manners which we never had the
    delicacy so much as to desire to imitate, were theirs in a long-
    past antiquity. They walk the earth with us, but it seems they
    must be of different clay. They hear the clock strike the same
    hour, yet surely of a different epoch. They travel by steam
    conveyance, yet with such a baggage of old Asiatic thoughts and
    superstitions as might check the locomotive in its course.
    Whatever is thought within the circuit of the Great Wall; what the
    wry-eyed, spectacled schoolmaster teaches in the hamlets round
    Pekin; religions so old that our language looks a halfing boy
    alongside; philosophy so wise that our best philosophers find
    things therein to wonder at; all this travelled alongside of me for
    thousands of miles over plain and mountain. Heaven knows if we had
    one common thought or fancy all that way, or whether our eyes,
    which yet were formed upon the same design, beheld the same world
    out of the railway windows. And when either of us turned his
    thoughts to home and childhood, what a strange dissimilarity must
    there not have been in these pictures of the mind - when I beheld
    that old, gray, castled city, high throned above the firth, with
    the flag of Britain flying, and the red-coat sentry pacing over
    all; and the man in the next car to me would conjure up some junks
    and a pagoda and a fort of porcelain, and call it, with the same
    affection, home.

    Another race shared among my fellow-passengers in the disfavour of
    the Chinese; and that, it is hardly necessary to say, was the noble
    red man of old story - over whose own hereditary continent we had
    been steaming all these days. I saw no wild or independent Indian;
    indeed, I hear that such avoid the neighbourhood of the train; but
    now and again at way stations, a husband and wife and a few
    children, disgracefully dressed out with the sweepings of
    civilisation, came forth and stared upon the emigrants. The silent
    stoicism of their conduct, and the pathetic degradation of their
    appearance, would have touched any thinking creature, but my
    fellow-passengers danced and jested round them with a truly Cockney
    baseness. I was ashamed for the thing we call civilisation. We
    should carry upon our consciences so much, at least, of our
    forefathers' misconduct as we continue to profit by ourselves.

    If oppression drives a wise man mad, what should be raging in the
    hearts of these poor tribes, who have been driven back and back,
    step after step, their promised reservations torn from them one
    after another as the States extended westward, until at length they
    are shut up into these hideous mountain deserts of the centre - and
    even there find themselves invaded, insulted, and hunted out by
    ruffianly diggers? The eviction of the Cherokees (to name but an
    instance), the extortion of Indian agents, the outrages of the
    wicked, the ill-faith of all, nay, down to the ridicule of such
    poor beings as were here with me upon the train, make up a chapter
    of injustice and indignity such as a man must be in some ways base
    if his heart will suffer him to pardon or forget. These old, well-
    founded, historical hatreds have a savour of nobility for the
    independent. That the Jew should not love the Christian, nor the
    Irishman love the English, nor the Indian brave tolerate the
    thought of the American, is not disgraceful to the nature of man;
    rather, indeed, honourable, since it depends on wrongs ancient like
    the race, and not personal to him who cherishes the indignation.

    TO THE GOLDEN GATES

    A little corner of Utah is soon traversed, and leaves no particular
    impressions on the mind. By an early hour on Wednesday morning we
    stopped to breakfast at Toano, a little station on a bleak, high-
    lying plateau in Nevada. The man who kept the station eating-house
    was a Scot, and learning that I was the same, he grew very
    friendly, and gave me some advice on the country I was now
    entering. "You see," said he, "I tell you this, because I come
    from your country." Hail, brither Scots!

    His most important hint was on the moneys of this part of the
    world. There is something in the simplicity of a decimal coinage
    which is revolting to the human mind; thus the French, in small
    affairs, reckon strictly by halfpence; and you have to solve, by a
    spasm of mental arithmetic, such posers as thirty-two, forty-five,
    or even a hundred halfpence. In the Pacific States they have made
    a bolder push for complexity, and settle their affairs by a coin
    that no longer that no longer exists - the BIT, or old Mexican
    real. The supposed value of the bit is twelve and a half cents,
    eight to the dollar. When it comes to two bits, the quarter-dollar
    stands for the required amount. But how about an odd bit? The
    nearest coin to it is a dime, which is, short by a fifth. That,
    then, is called a SHORT bit. If you have one, you lay it
    triumphantly down, and save two and a half cents. But if you have
    not, and lay down a quarter, the bar-keeper or shopman calmly
    tenders you a dime by way of change; and thus you have paid what is
    called a LONG BIT, and lost two and a half cents, or even, by
    comparison with a short bit, five cents. In country places all
    over the Pacific coast, nothing lower than a bit is ever asked or
    taken, which vastly increases the cost of life; as even for a glass
    of beer you must pay fivepence or sevenpence-halfpenny, as the case
    may be. You would say that this system of mutual robbery was as
    broad as it was long; but I have discovered a plan to make it
    broader, with which I here endow the public. It is brief and
    simple - radiantly simple. There is one place where five cents are
    recognised, and that is the post-office. A quarter is only worth
    two bits, a short and a long. Whenever you have a quarter, go to
    the post-office and buy five cents worth of postage-stamps; you
    will receive in change two dimes, that is, two short bits. The
    purchasing power of your money is undiminished. You can go and
    have your two glasses of beer all the same; and you have made
    yourself a present of five cents worth of postage-stamps into the
    bargain. Benjamin Franklin would have patted me on the head for
    this discovery.

    From Toano we travelled all day through deserts of alkali and sand,
    horrible to man, and bare sage-brush country that seemed little
    kindlier, and came by supper-time to Elko. As we were standing,
    after our manner, outside the station, I saw two men whip suddenly
    from underneath the cars, and take to their heels across country.
    They were tramps, it appeared, who had been riding on the beams
    since eleven of the night before; and several of my fellow-
    passengers had already seen and conversed with them while we broke
    our fast at Toano. These land stowaways play a great part over
    here in America, and I should have liked dearly to become
    acquainted with them.

    At Elko an odd circumstance befell me. I was coming out from
    supper, when I was stopped by a small, stout, ruddy man, followed
    by two others taller and ruddier than himself.

    "Excuse me, sir," he said, "but do you happen to be going on?"

    I said I was, whereupon he said he hoped to persuade me to desist
    from that intention. He had a situation to offer me, and if we
    could come to terms, why, good and well. "You see," he continued,
    "I'm running a theatre here, and we're a little short in the
    orchestra. You're a musician, I guess?"

    I assured him that, beyond a rudimentary acquaintance with "Auld
    Lang Syne" and "The Wearing of the Green," I had no pretension
    whatever to that style. He seemed much put out of countenance; and
    one of his taller companions asked him, on the nail, for five
    dollars.

    "You see, sir," added the latter to me, "he bet you were a
    musician; I bet you weren't. No offence, I hope?"

    "None whatever," I said, and the two withdrew to the bar, where I
    presume the debt was liquidated.

    This little adventure woke bright hopes in my fellow-travellers,
    who thought they had now come to a country where situations went a-
    begging. But I am not so sure that the offer was in good faith.
    Indeed, I am more than half persuaded it was but a feeler to decide
    the bet.

    Of all the next day I will tell you nothing, for the best of all
    reasons, that I remember no more than that we continued through
    desolate and desert scenes, fiery hot and deadly weary. But some
    time after I had fallen asleep that night, I was awakened by one of
    my companions. It was in vain that I resisted. A fire of
    enthusiasm and whisky burned in his eyes; and he declared we were
    in a new country, and I must come forth upon the platform and see
    with my own eyes. The train was then, in its patient way, standing
    halted in a by-track. It was a clear, moonlit night; but the
    valley was too narrow to admit the moonshine direct, and only a
    diffused glimmer whitened the tall rocks and relieved the blackness
    of the pines. A hoarse clamour filled the air; it was the
    continuous plunge of a cascade somewhere near at hand among the
    mountains. The air struck chill, but tasted good and vigorous in
    the nostrils - a fine, dry, old mountain atmosphere. I was dead
    sleepy, but I returned to roost with a grateful mountain feeling at
    my heart.

    When I awoke next morning, I was puzzled for a while to know if it
    were day or night, for the illumination was unusual. I sat up at
    last, and found we were grading slowly downward through a long
    snowshed; and suddenly we shot into an open; and before we were
    swallowed into the next length of wooden tunnel, I had one glimpse
    of a huge pine-forested ravine upon my left, a foaming river, and a
    sky already coloured with the fires of dawn. I am usually very
    calm over the displays of nature; but you will scarce believe how
    my heart leaped at this. It was like meeting one's wife. I had
    come home again - home from unsightly deserts to the green and
    habitable corners of the earth. Every spire of pine along the
    hill-top, every trouty pool along that mountain river, was more
    dear to me than a blood relation. Few people have praised God more
    happily than I did. And thenceforward, down by Blue Canon, Alta,
    Dutch Flat, and all the old mining camps, through a sea of mountain
    forests, dropping thousands of feet toward the far sea-level as we
    went, not I only, but all the passengers on board, threw off their
    sense of dirt and heat and weariness, and bawled like schoolboys,
    and thronged with shining eyes upon the platform and became new
    creatures within and without. The sun no longer oppressed us with
    heat, it only shone laughingly along the mountain-side, until we
    were fain to laugh ourselves for glee. At every turn we could see
    farther into the land and our own happy futures. At every town the
    cocks were tossing their clear notes into the golden air, and
    crowing for the new day and the new country. For this was indeed
    our destination; this was "the good country" we had been going to
    so long.

    By afternoon we were at Sacramento, the city of gardens in a plain
    of corn; and the next day before the dawn we were lying to upon the
    Oakland side of San Francisco Bay. The day was breaking as we
    crossed the ferry; the fog was rising over the citied hills of San
    Francisco; the bay was perfect - not a ripple, scarce a stain, upon
    its blue expanse; everything was waiting, breathless, for the sun.
    A spot of cloudy gold lit first upon the head of Tamalpais, and
    then widened downward on its shapely shoulder; the air seemed to
    awaken, and began to sparkle; and suddenly

    "The tall hills Titan discovered,"

    and the city of San Francisco, and the bay of gold and corn, were
    lit from end to end with summer daylight.

    [1879.]
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