He climbed rocky mountain-sides as readily as a buck, and never wandered from a path by darkest night. He drank and apparently relished the murky water of mud-pools and needed but little attention with the currycomb and brush. He was trained to obey the slightest turn of the reins, and a slight whistle brought him to a full stop.
The railway track wound in and out among the passes, now approaching the mountain-sides, now suspended over precipices, avoiding abrupt angles by bold curves, plunging into narrow defiles, which seemed to have no outlet.
Dig well thy garden and thy fields, sow them and tend them diligently, search the mountain-sides; and thou shalt gain through thine industry mines of gold and silver!"
Sometimes they roll great rocks down the mountain-sides, playing a desperate game of ball with each other. Sometimes they are sent to make a bridge over Niagara Falls, or to build a dam across a mountain torrent in an hour's time.
A bridge was built over the American River, and slowly but surely the track climbed the steep mountain-sides. Most of the laborers were Chinese, as white men found mining or farming paid them better.
Not only was the valley, but the adjacent mountain-sides were covered with intersecting paths, beaten by the herds, in the course of years.
"You can still see on it an mountain-sides and a piece of an angel, but the inscription is almost quite worn out, except the name 'Preben, and a capital 'S' a little further on, and underneath it 'Martha, but it is impossible to make out any more, and that you can only read after if has been raining, or when we have washed it."
I find there are two kinds of snow-sheds, one sort used on the plains, with pointed roofs, from which the snow slides down on either side, thereby preventing the blocking of the line; the other, used along the mountain-sides, sloping over the track, so as to carry the snow-shoots clear over it down into the valley below. I soon turned in again, wrapped myself up, and slept soundly for some hours.
The new moon hung in the afterglow of the western sky, and as the dusk deepened the weird notes of the whip-poor-will were heard for the first time from the mountain-sides. At the supper-table Leonard beamed on every one. "A rain like this, after a week of sunshine has warmed the earth" he exclaimed, "is worth millions to the country. We can plant our corn next week."
You couldn't smell the hot boiling sap all the way from the mountain-sides, but what you did smell made you think of the little bark-covered sap-houses up in the far woods, with smoke and white steam coming out from all their cracks, as though there was somebody inside magicking charms and making a great cloud to cover it, like Klingsor or the witch-ladies in the Arabian Nights.