« AnteriorContinuar »
neck was stretched for the towering bluff, and the thrilling screams of his voice told the secret that was behind him. Our horses were swift, and we struggled hard; yet hope was feeble, for the bluff was yet blue, and nature nearly exhausted. The sunshine was dying, and a cool shadow was advancing over the plain. Not daring to look back, we strained every nerve.
The roar of a distant cataract seemed gradually advancing on us; the winds increased, the howling tempest was maddening behind us, and the swift-winged beetle and heath hens instinctively drew their straight lines over our heads. The fleet-bounding antelope passed us also ; and the still swifter long-legged hare, who leaves but a shadow as he flies. Here was no time for thought, but I recollect the heavens were overcast, the distant thunder was heard, the lightning's glare was reddening the scene, and the smell that came on the winds struck terror to my soul! The piercing yell of my savage guide at this moment came back upon the winds his robe was seen waving in the air, and his foaming horse leaping up the towering bluff.
Our breath and our sinews, in this last struggle for life, were just enough to bring us to its summit. We had risen from a sea of fire! "Great God!" I exclaimed, "how sublime to gaze into that valley, where the elements of nature are so strangely convulsed!" Ask not the poet or painter how it looked, for they can tell you not; but ask the naked savage, and watch the electric twinge of his manly nerves and muscles, as he pronounces the lengthened "hush-sh-," his hand on his mouth, and his glaring eyeballs looking you to the very soul!
I beheld beneath me an immense cloud of black smoke,
which extended from one extremity of this vast plain to the other, and seemed majestically to roll over its surface in a bed of liquid fire; and above this mighty desolation, as it rolled along, the whitened smoke, pale with terror, was streaming and rising up in magnificent cliffs to heaven! I stood secure but tremblingly, and heard the maddening wind, which hurled this monster o'er the land -I heard the roaring thunder, and saw its thousand lightnings flash; and then I saw behind the black and smoking desolation of this storm of fire!
-From "Manners and Customs of the North American Indians."
KIT CARSON'S RIDE.
BY JOAQUIN MILLER.
We lay in the grasses and the sunburnt clover
With my brown bride, won from an Indian town
We lay low in the grass on the broad plain levels,
To the right and the left, in the light of the sun.
"Forty full miles, if a foot, to ride,
When once they strike it. Let the sun go down
We drew in the lassos, seized saddle and rein,
Threw them on, sinched them on, sinched them over again,
And again drew the girth, cast aside the macheers,
Turned head to the Brazos in a red race with death,
Gray nose to gray nose, and each steady mustang Stretched neck and stretched nerve till the arid earth
And the foam from the flank and the croup and the neck Flew around like the spray on a storm-driven deck. Twenty miles? . . . thirty miles . a dim distant speck . . .
Then a long reaching line, and the Brazos in sight,
I stood in my stirrup and looked to my right
But Revels was gone; I glanced by my shoulder
Low down to the mane, as so swifter and bolder
To right and to left the black buffalo came,
A terrible surf on a red sea of flame
Rushing on in the rear, reaching high, reaching higher.
The monarch of millions, with shaggy mane full
And unearthly, and up through its lowering cloud
Came the flash of his eyes like a half-hidden fire,
While his keen crooked horns, through the storm of his
Like black lances lifted and lifted again;
And I looked but this once, for the fire licked through, And he fell and was lost, as we rode two and two.
I looked to my left then and nose, neck, and shoulder
Had once won a whole herd, sweeping everything down
And child of the kingly war chief of his tribe -
She met Revels and me in her perilous flight
From the lodge of the chief to the North Brazos side;
As if jesting, that I, and I only, should ride