After such momentary rifts the mist thickened again, and swooped forward as if to involve our station, but noon sunshine, reverberated from the plains and valleys and lakes below, was our ally; sunshine checked the overcoming mist, and it stayed overhead, an unwelcome parasol, making our August a chilly November.
The next day the wind came hurtling over the plains out of the north-west, bitter cold. The sky was all one dark gray. At evening it was raining. Sosthène said, as he sat down to supper, that it was going to pour and blow all night. Chaouache said much the same thing to his wife as they lay down to rest.
The Orang-Utan is found only in Sumatra and Borneo, and is common in neither of these islands in both of which it occurs always in low, flat plains, never in the mountains.
In 1860 Colonel A. G. Boone, a worthy grandson of the immortal Daniel, made a treaty with the Comanches, Kiowas, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, and at their request he was made agent. During his wise, just, and humane administration all of these savage nations were quiet, and held the kindliest feelings toward the whites. Any one could cross the plains without fear of molestation.
A thousand ships, like monsters sleeping, rode on the calm bosom of her waters; a busy throng of merchants filled her broad avenues; while houseless, anxious, and never-despairing mortals, like swine at large, rooted her broad plains for gold.
"I'm glad I did not go to the plains this fall," said La Certe, stirring the logs on the fire with his toe and emitting a prolonged sigh of mingled smoke and contentment, while a blast from the bleak nor'-west shook every blackened rafter in his little hut.
It is governed by a Dutch military officer, and is garrisoned with about fifty soldiers. The country is remarkably fine here, the plains richly cultivated and covered with cattle. The farmers complain bitterly of the taxes imposed upon them by the Dutch, taxes so onerous that no native has a chance of realising any profits of consequence; but this is Dutch policy, and very unwise policy it is.
When I first saw the country west of the Missouri River it was without civil government, inhabited almost exclusively by Indians. The few white men in it were voyageurs, or connected in some way with the United States army. It was supposed to be uninhabitable, without any natural resources or productiveness, a vast expanse of arid plains, broken here and there with barren, snow-capped mountains.
Even now, after the lapse of nearly four decades, the picture is as vivid as if it were but yesterday that I stood on the Texas Plains a soldier of twenty-two years, feeling my heart throbs quicken as that sunset scene is enacted before me.
He did not know why it was, but the beetling crags above him, the consciousness of the marvellous plains below, the rhythmic murmur of the wind in the pine trees near at hand, the curious impenetrableness of the old earth, the kingship of death asserting itself in the motionless brute which he had killed, but which he was powerless to make alive again all these weird and unaccustomed influences seemed to be clutching at his imagination, taking liberties with his sense of identity.