When we arose from this refreshing rest we found that the session of court had brought this throng, and we were soon surrounded with visitors, who kept us constantly conversing and almost incessantly weaving baskets for their amusement. These people not only bought large stores of my work, but their talk sent crowds of people from far and near, all of whom made purchases of some kind. Such was the interest of every member of the bar and every attendant upon court that the four days I spent there completely exhausted me, physically and mentally.
Finding there were no other important towns beyond Evergreen, I returned to Montgomery and repaired to Savannah, Georgia, where I was treated with the most genial generosity, and should have been repaid for a trip to that place in a visit to its cemetery, whose reputation has been spread throughout the length and breadth of our land, and whose strange, sad beauty is so infinitely beyond the conceptions of imagination, but which—
"To be remembered Needs but to be seen."
Its grounds are densely grown with trees of live oak, whose huge and spreading branches, seeming to bear the size and strength of a century's growth; with the dark, drooping moss, which, as it mingles its weird, fantastic drapery with the bending, swaying, weeping willow, seems like a pall for the graves hidden in its sombre shades; while the millions of birds which dwell therein lull their warbling notes to the measure of a low funeral song; and every sound of Nature's many-voiced music seems to murmur a requiem for the dead. As I sat subdued and listening, the low, rustling sound of the wind seemed as a sigh of sorrow escaping the breast of the bereaved, and I could picture in the far away land of Palestine that sacred spot which had so often been described to me, even the "Church of the Holy Sepulchre."
This most benevolent city of Georgia, without solicitation, presented me passes to Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Fla. The former was at that time quite an unimportant place, but has since become a popular resort.
While in Tallahassee I met with great sympathy and kindness from Governor Rood, who bought a book and handed me five dollars. When change was tendered to him he quietly and respectfully declined, and said with his usual delicacy that it was worth that much to him.
The Sheriff of the county was also very generous. Wishing to present me with ten dollars, and fearing to wound me by so doing, he ordered that amount of bead-work.
Tallahassee was certainly the most quiet Capital City I had ever visited, resting in its placid loveliness apparently undisturbed by the usual wrangle of legislation.
We returned via Live Oaks, at which place we encountered one of those severe thunderstorms known only to tropical lands, and in which the angry "war of elements" strikes terror to the hearts of those unschooled to it. All through its thundering and lightning, its wind and torrent, I was in such a state of nervous excitement, that when the last lurid light faded, the last crash was echoed by a low reverberating moan and died away, I gave one deep sigh of intense relief and sank exhausted from the reaction.
"I lay upon the headland heights, and listened To the incessant moaning of the sea In caverns under me, And watched the waves that tossed, And fled, and glistened; Until the rolling meadows of amethyst Melted away in mist."
My visit to Charleston combined little of eventful note, and this city is to well known as a seaport to require a detailed description. There, as in all places in close proximity to the ocean, I was spell-bound amid the ceaseless ebb and flow, the endless melody of the waves glowing and scintillating with myriad gem-like hues from the amethyst, the emerald and the diamond, to the many-hued opal, its varied and changing beauty bearing all the brilliant glory of the fabled dolphin, born in its depths.
In this sea-girt city I found the home of Mrs. Glover, and above all her hallowed presence there. She is an accomplished lady, and once wrote an attractive novel, more for pastime than from any literary aspirations.
Vernon, the hero of her story of Vernon Grove, was blind, and as this depiction of character was so much more true to nature than the pen-pictures of other gifted delineators, even that of the shrewd searcher of the human heart, Wilkie Collins, that she had won the sympathy and interest of all at the Baltimore Institution, at which, in former years, she had been so cheerfully greeted.
Vernon possessed none of the melancholy, inanimate, suspicious characteristics supposed by many to belong of necessity to the blind, but was a brilliant, cheerful, high-minded person, who filled every position in life with dignity, accepted every sorrow and disappointment with resignation, in every struggle was a lion-hearted hero, and in every contest a conqueror.
This gifted lady was a sister of Mrs. Bowen, of Baltimore, who, as well as her husband, was a warm, true friend to the blind, and ever joyously hailed as a guest in the institution.
After traveling through the Carolinas I went to Richmond, Virginia, the Rome of America, and like that ancient city built upon seven hills, while in its patrician pride and family loyalty it possessed much of the essence of the old Roman spirit.
My visit there was during the most fervid heat of the summer solstice, when through the sultry days all living creatures are panting and breathless, yet withal the stay of three weeks' duration passed away with delightful rapidity, and time stole upon us and stole from us almost imperceptibly.
Leaving Richmond for White Sulphur Springs, I stopped at all important intervening points. At Staunton I devoted an entire day to the inspection of the Institution for the Blind, and in pleasant acceptance of hospitalities dispensed both by inmates and officials.
Arriving at White Sulphur after dark, we found the mountain air so cold that we could almost imagine ourselves suddenly transported from the Equator to the Pole, and were as thoroughly chilled as one unacclimated would be from so great and sudden a transition.
The mammoth hotel of this watering place, comfortably seated in its dining-hall twelve hundred guests, and all its appointments were in equally grand proportion. We occupied, from choice, one of the cozy little cottages, nestling like a dove-cot in some bowery shade, with its patch of green-sward and flower-garden in front and purling brook behind, holding the double charm of rural simplicity and home-like air. Hattie led me through every path and grove, nook and glen of this sweet seclusion, this valley embosomed in mountains, and my thoughts reverted to the days when the belles and beaux of our American court sought these sylvan shades; when Washington and the successive Chief Magistrates of the Great Republic had gracefully glided through the stately minuet and invested this spot with a now classic interest.
Prominent among the visitors was the leonine General Lee, a Colossus in person and in mind. In spirit brave as a true hero, but in manner gentle as a woman. In the sweet solace of sympathy his heart went out to the blind girl, and assumed the tangible form of solid favors, for by his personal efforts under the magic influence and royal mandate of his imperial power many a little volume was appropriated that would have been otherwise unnoticed.
George Peabody was also a guest, but in this, his last visit to his native country, he was too ill and prostrate to receive friends. I felt for him a strong personal sympathy for his beneficence to my native city, to which he ever acknowledged himself indebted for his first business success; and in which the pure, white marble structure, with its magnificent library and other appointments, so well known as "The Peabody Institute," stands as a monument of his munificence.
Returning to Richmond, we took the James River route to Baltimore, a trip fraught with varied interest.
At Yorktown, that city of eld, we landed to take in a cargo of freight, not neglecting the usual store of oysters, of which we had at supper a sumptuous feast and it was from no fickle epicurean fancy that all pronounced these delicious bivalves the finest in the world, for, certainly, never before or since have we partaken of them with such rare relish and absolute gusto.
"Sweet is the hour that brings us home, Where all will spring to meet us; Where hands are striving as we come, To be the first to greet us. When the world has spent its frowns and wrath, And care been sorely pressing; 'Tis sweet to turn from our roving path, And find a fireside blessing; Ah, joyfully dear is the homeward track, If we are but sure of a welcome back!"
Home again in dear old Baltimore, where over my cradle was sung my mother's first lullaby, and where so many localities were invested with the charm of loved association. I of course visited the Institution for the Blind, which would not, in its many changes, have seemed at all like home but for the music of a familiar voice and the presence of dear Miss Bond, who still with loving dignity presided as matron, throned in the majesty of noble humanity, and crowned with purity and goodness.
Dr. Fisher, Mr. Trust and Mr. Newcomer still faithfully held their positions as Directors, and cordially welcomed me home. Mr. Morrison, the new Superintendent, and his most estimable wife, although they had never seen me, brought me near to them by the bond of sympathetic kindness, and seemed not like strangers but friends.
It seemed singular to those who had known little Mary Day to have her go back to them a married woman, and indeed, for the moment, time seemed to have gone backward in its flight; the dignity of the matron was forgotten, and I was a child again, even little Mary Day. I felt glad of an assurance from Miss Bond, that so fondly had my name been cherished, even by those in the institution who had never met me, that it was regarded as a "household word," and that enshrined in the most sacred niche of the temple of love was the image of Mary L. Day. As a testimony of this continued affection I was fondly urged to remain in the institution while in the city, but, as I had so many resident relatives, I declined.
My cousin, William Heald, who had by his kindness infused light into some of my darkest hours, had won a lovely woman for a wife, and certainly no one more richly deserved such a consummation. Cousin Sammy Heald had also married his fair fiance, of the West, who in her sweet purity of character, beauty of person and a life fragrant and blossoming with good deeds, could justly be called a "prairie flower." He had been ordained a Methodist minister, and was winning true laurels in his little charge in Iowa, to which conference he belonged. He had chosen his proper vocation, for as a preacher he was "Native, and to the manor born," for when a wee boy, he had written and declaimed many a sermon, and had his mimic audience been a real one these efforts would have produced electrical effect.
Among the many changes in my Baltimore circle was the vacant chair at the fireside, once filled by my uncle Jacob Day, whose memory and whose life was pervaded by the odor of true sanctity. It could truly be said of him at the sunset of a beautiful life, that
"Each silver hair, each wrinkle there, Records some good deed done; Some flower cast along the way, Some spark from love's bright sun."
He had been a great leader in the Sabbath School movement, and a prominent feature of the funeral cortege was a procession of his pupils in pure white raiment, who, in token of their love and bereavement, strewed his grave with flowers.
I cannot close my home chapter without an expression of exultant pride for my classmates who have done so nobly in their various vocations. Two had entered the literary ranks as book-writers, and had met with marked success in the acceptance and sale of their works; three stood high as teachers; one earned a good living by tuning pianos; several were engaged in various departments of the institution; and two ranked high as musicians, which profession has seemed an especial field for the blind.
To use the musical measure of poetic prose as rendered by Mr. Artman, one of the most renowned blind authors—"There is a world to which night brings no gloom, no sadness, no impediments; fills no yawning chasm and hides from the traveler no pitfall. It is the world of sound. Silence is its night, the only darkness of which the blind have any knowledge. In it every attribute of Nature has a voice; the beautiful, the grand, the sublime, have each a language, and to me, whose heart is in tune, every sound has a peculiar significance. Sounds fill the soul, while light fills the eye only. 'In the varied strains of warbling melody,' as it winds in its graceful meanderings to the deep recesses of his soul, or of the rich and boundless harmony, as it swells and rolls its pompous tide around him, he finds a solace and a compensation for the absent joys of sight."
And so I close with a blessing upon the members of my class, and may the God of light and love illumine their paths, and glorify their lives, is my earnest, heartfelt prayer.
"The prayer of Ajax was for light; Through all that dark and desperate fight, The blackness of that noonday night, He asked but the return of sight, To see his foeman's face.
"Let our unceasing, earnest prayer Be, too, for light—for strength to bear Our portion of the weight of care, That crushes into dumb despair One half the human race."
From Baltimore I went to Westminster, Maryland, to visit my cousin, Charles Henniman, and my stay there was characterized by all the joy of sweet reunion and eager acceptance of hospitalities so lavishly bestowed. It was with mingled emotions of pleasure and pain I greeted my old friend, Carrie Fringer. In person she was of a peculiar type of beauty, a face regular in features as a Madonna, beaming with the soft, love-light of rare, sweet eyes, in whose depths were imprisoned not only an intense brightness, but the still deeper glow of a soul of love and truth. Curls of soft brown hair fell upon her symmetrical shoulders and softened the face they framed into an almost spiritual sweetness. From an affliction in her childhood she had almost ever since been unable to walk, and indeed none of the beautiful limbs were available for voluntary motion. Thus deprived of more than half of life's joy, its sweet activity, many would have lapsed into a morbid, nervous condition, over which we might justly have thrown the mantle of charity, but this dear friend was so lovely and chastened in her affliction, that she seemed almost a Deity in her attributes of tender love and patient self-abnegation, united to a heroic endurance of pain with which she was daily, hourly and momently tortured. Surely
"The good are better made by ill, As odors crushed are sweeter still."
Going to Washington I accompanied an excursion down the Potomac to Mount Vernon, that sacred spot whose mention sends a thrill of patriotic pride through every American heart, hallowed as it is by memories of George Washington. So I became one of the zealous pilgrim throng who wended their way to this our Mecca, dear to us as that sacred place in the old world to the most devout worshiper of the Prophet Mahomet.
Reaching our destination we first repaired to the tomb, and with bowed and uncovered heads all reverently gazed upon the mausoleum of departed greatness, and turned to the mansion, each department of which had its own peculiar charm.
Prominent among other relics were his war-equipments, the paraphernalia of Revolutionary times; and as we ever associate him with his character as general, these were especially significant from the sword so often wielded with masterly power, to the little canteen, from which, after long and weary marches, he refreshed his parched lips.
In his bed-chamber, with its antique air and quaint garniture, there stood a bedstead, the fac-simile of the one upon which he died. Here we lingered long and lovingly, and turned to another department, in one corner of which stood a harpsichord, once belonging to his niece, Miss Lewis. In fancy I could see her fairy fingers as they swept in "waves of grace" over its strings, and with the "concord of sweet sounds" ministered to a circle of distinguished listeners. I could not resist the impulse to pass my hands over the long neglected strings, and recalled the sentiment of the old song,
"As a sweet lute that lingers In silence alone; Unswept by light fingers. Scarce murmurs a tone; My own heart resembles, This lute, light and free, 'Til o'er its chord trembles Sweet memories of thee."
The garden still remained as arranged by his taste and dictation, and at one corner of the house the magnolia tree, planted by his own hand, still bloomed in fragrant beauty.
In the yard was the old well, with "its moss-covered, iron-bound bucket," and at the door the gray-haired negro, the inevitable servant of "Massa Washington," who will doubtless, like a wandering Jew, out live all time, and for centuries to come remain an attache of our country's father.
Several gentlemen present evinced and expressed great surprise that a blind woman should go to see Mount Vernon, yet I very much doubt if any eyes really saw more than my own. When we reached the boat, each gentleman carried in his hand a cane cut from the woods of Mount Vernon, and one and all returned to Washington with the consciousness of having spent a pleasant and profitable day.
We soon left for Lynchburg, Virginia, after which we visited the towns en route to Knoxville, Tennessee. At the latter place we had a very enjoyable visit to the home of Parson Brownlow. He was absent in attendance upon the Legislature, but his daughter gracefully and cordially dispensed the hospitalities of their home, and did everything within the bounds of her warm, sympathetic intelligence to heighten the pleasure and interest of our visit.
Back again to Chicago, we were welcomed by Mr. Arms, whom we found engaged in erecting machinery in the Gowan Marble Works, the largest of the kind in the North-west. Resting in the sweet haven of home, we passed the winter in this sanctum.
"I love not man the less, but nature more, From these our interviews, in which I steal From all I may be, or have been before, To mingle with the universe, and feel What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal."
Renewed and refreshed from our long winter rest, with the migration of the birds we winged our way westward, alighting in many a lovely locality in the flourishing State of Iowa, whose soft undulations of prairies were now swelling in billows of gorgeous green, and touched with the varied tints of flowery bloom.
Our last resting place was in Council Bluffs, so celebrated for the grandeur of its location at the foot of the beetling bluffs of the Missouri River, and for its flourishing and progressive spirit, aside from which it holds a place in our historic annals dating back to aboriginal days. When this century was in its early infancy, and the shadowy dawn of our young nation was still wrapt in the mists which enshrouded its first struggling efforts; when the little far-away fur station of Astoria, near the whispering waves of the Pacific coast, held not the mellowing memories of time or the living light with which the genius of an Irving has since invested it; when the great explorers, Lewis and Clarke, were leaving their foot-prints on the land bordering the Columbia River, they held a council with the Red Man at Kanesville, Iowa, ever since known as "Council Bluffs."
Thence we went to Omaha, which is one of the most flourishing places in Nebraska, and from the improvised post-office of early days, the "plug" hat of Mr. Jones, its first post-master, has grown the large distributing office of the department.
It was also a military post and winter garrison for our troops in transitu, its cheerful barracks, well-kept roads and clean parade ground converting it into a favorite drive and walk, where resort many strangers to witness the dress parade of "The Boys in Blue."
The Platte River Valley is well known to most of my readers from its romantic association with the struggles of the vast army of emigrants, who not only braved the dangers of its uncertain fords and deceitful quicksands, but the tomahawk and scalp knife, ofttimes leaving a nameless grave beside its waters; and, were it not for a laughable incident in this connection, I would pass it by unnoticed.
There are so many heroes of the Don Quixote school, who are so brave in fighting wind-mills, who, in time of peace, are "soldiers armed with resolution," but in the real conflict what Shakspeare designates as "soldiers and afeard." There was in our train a young prig, who "played the braggart with his tongue," telling of his brave exploits, like a very Othello recounting the "dangers he passed," ending with a defiant show of how he should act in the event of an attack from marauding Indians, to which the trains were at that time so subject, after which he fell into a profound slumber, resting upon his imaginary laurels. While he slept the train had changed conductors, and it became necessary to see his ticket. This new official passing by, and finding himself unable to arouse the snoring sleeper by ordinary means, gave him a lusty shake, whereupon our hero gave a hideous yell of "Indians! Indians!" his lips quivering and his frame palsied with fear. The sound was so startling that the affrighted passengers imagined themselves for the moment in the merciless grasp of a band of Red Men.
The conductor gave this quaking coward another energetic shake and an imperious demand for "your ticket, sir!" and the quondam man of war "smoothed his wrinkled front," and humbly subsided into a semblance of sleep, while the conductor was no doubt astonished at the loud laughter that followed a brief silence, during which the passengers recovered their composure, and realized the full ludicrousness of the incident. In my experience in life I have met a great many people who were ready to tell what they would have done "had they been there;" but this priggish gascon was the first I had ever seen put to the test, and I believe him to be a fair sample of that smart class who could, if you take their words for it, have done better on any given occasion than those whom the occasion found "there."
Emerging from the Platte Valley, we realized the fact that we were fairly on our way to the far West, ready to take in with insatiable avidity all the immensity and grandeur of our territorial scenery.
Arriving at Cheyenne, we were surprised to find a comfortable hotel-omnibus in waiting, and most of the concomitants of a metropolis, notwithstanding the oft-expressed surprise and fear of friends at the daring venture of two unprotected women in going alone to this lawless and God-forsaken country.
Alas for the demoralizing influence of so-called civilization! While in the elegant counting-rooms of polished millionaires in more eastern localities we had occasionally met with insults and snubs; in this place of reputed "roughs" we received not one rebuff, and were greeted not merely with respect, but with unbounded generosity. While we found rough diamonds, they were diamonds nevertheless.
Over this city has since swept the tidal wave of reform, and a great temperance awakening evoked by one of the great workers in that movement, Mr. Page, who, with gentle yet royal mandate, has said to the many "troubled waters," with their sad wrecks of human souls—"peace! be still!"
We find it vain to depict by our feeble word-painting the many-hued, many-voiced phases nature assumes in this almost boundless domain, and the yet untold, undeveloped depths of our territorial resources. Mountains looming up in imperial grandeur, their snow-crowned summits melting into cloud and sky; weird canyons, in which the whispered words of worship from a myriad devotees seem to echo and re-echo through their dark depths; giant trees:
"The murmuring pines and hemlock, Bearded with moss and in garments of green, Indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of Eld, With voices sad and prophetic."
Among the many military posts Fort Bridger, named for the famous trapper and guide of oft-written and oft-told fame, is also renowned as one of the posts of our gallant frontier officer, Albert Sydney Johnston, who won his first laurels amid the first Mormon troubles, and gallantly fell at Shiloh early in the Civil War.
Many of the most romantic places have been named for some fair maiden of the pioneer families, as Maggie's Creek, Susan's Valley, etc., while one of the most noted and poetic spots is known as "The Maiden's Grave," the once rude resting place of a gentle girl, whose remains were left there by her mourning friends on their way to their home on the Pacific Slope. It was afterwards found by a party of graders on the railway, and these rough but sympathetic men erected a fitting mausoleum of solid masonry, surmounted by a pure white cross of stone, whose symmetrical proportions are prominently visible to every traveler upon the Union Pacific Railroad.
One of the most interesting objects to me was the "Thousand Mile Tree," whose towering height I could imagine and long to behold as described to me by my companion and friend, its strange isolation sending a peculiar thrill of loneliness through the heart of one who was fifteen hundred miles from home. This old tree, through some strange freak of nature, stood a solitary sentinel, a guide-post of nature to tell the traveler he was a thousand miles from Omaha.
As we neared Weber River our well known and popular conductor came into the cars, and in a voice of deep, rich melody, sang the words of the then favorite song:
"Yes, we will gather at the river. The beautiful, the beautiful river; Gather with the Saints at the river, That flows by the throne of God."
The passengers, as we neared the kingdom of the Saints, catching the magnetism of his song, joined in the sweet refrain until it swelled into a soaring, reverberating harmony.
We reached Ogden City just as the sun was setting in royal hues, and repaired at once to the White House, the only gentile hotel in the place.
"Westward the star of Empire takes its way; The four first acts already past, A fifth shall close the drama with the day; Time's noblest offspring-is the last."
Our first emotion upon our introduction to Utah was one of fear and foreboding, for our landlord seemed so assured that we should meet with no success, selfishness being the established character of the Mormons, who never allowed their hearts to go out in sympathy to any one outside of their own church or community.
Far away from home, "a stranger in a strange land," felt like those old-time wanderers who sat them down by the "waters of Babylon," and hanging their harps upon the willow, sang sad songs and wept bitter tears.
I gathered sufficient courage to call upon the editor of the daily paper, and his gentlemanly reception was very reassuring. He gave me a lengthy and commendatory notice, and this emanating from a man with five wives gave me a more charitable sentiment than I had formerly maintained toward Mormon institutions, and it likewise gave me courage and a better opinion as to my prospects. We remained there two days, and met with such unexpected success that we turned in a more hopeful mood toward Salt Lake City.
On the road to that city is a celebrated sulphur spring, whose presence is indicated for miles before it is reached by somewhat infernal fumes. A woman in the car, overcome by the unpleasant odor, exclaimed, in evident disgust: "Is that the way the Mormons smell?" She seemed so impressed with the nearness of his Satanic Majesty, whom she intimately associated with Mormondom, that it recalled the somewhat vulgar story of the "Teuton," who, in nearing the Virginia White Sulphur Springs, with the same fumes in his nostrils, cried out: "Mein Gott! pe shure, hell is not more as a mile off!"
Arriving at Salt Lake City at the close of a beautiful day, the western sky gleaming with the royally gorgeous hues of a clear, bright sunset, while the delightful surroundings and stimulating atmosphere lured us to walk from the depot.
Salt Lake being at that time a city of twenty thousand souls, and this being prior to the opening of the mines, it was probably in the hey-day of its beauty, and could boast of but one saloon, whereas they are now very numerous. Its broad, regular avenues were shaded with trees of such immense growth as are known only in our western lands, the coolness and shade of whose leafy, spreading branches invitingly appeal to the passer-by. Streams of limpid, crystal water, born in the pure mountain snows, gurgle down each street, and, in their beautiful borders of nature's green enamel, impart an almost marvelous beauty to the city.
The twenty-third of July being the twenty-third anniversary of the founding of the "City of the Saints," I had the pleasure of going to their Temple and listening to the earnest oratory of their representative men, and among them the "Prophet" himself. George Francis Train being also a visitor in the city, gave a characteristic oration, in which he rehearsed the pilgrimage of this people, their persecution, privations and pains before reaching their haven, which seems, in its rare beauty, an almost magical city, rising up in the wilderness as a lovely refuge, for, after all, what magic is so potent as industry and perseverance, and how much of both of these elements must have been brought to bear in the accomplishment of so much in the short space of twenty-three years.
The Honorable George Cocannon, the able editor of their daily paper, representative in Congress, and one of their distinguished elders, gave me a telling editorial, which, from its influential source, benefited me very greatly, and could not fail to facilitate my sales.
We called at the residence of Brigham Young, and he kindly gave us a half hour of his valuable time, a favor much appreciated, and one which threw great additional light upon their institutions.
We visited their public schools, found the system of graded departments, high schools, etc., very similar to our own, and all in an equally flourishing condition. My companion was peculiarly attracted by the uncommon beauty of the pupils, never having seen in an equal number of children so much personal fascination. I also visited the public market, where a man in one of the stalls bought a book, remarking at the same time that he supposed he ought to buy four, as he had that number of wives. A bystander asked if this did not sound very strangely in the ears of one so unaccustomed to a plurality of wives. I quickly responded that the men of Utah must have large hearts to be capable of taking in four wives, or even more, when our men had scarce courage to marry one. My reply evidently touched some responsive chord, for all at once bought books. Their system of co-operative trade ofttimes leaves them destitute of ready cash, but all who had money gave me the most liberal patronage.
There is a peculiar feature of Salt Lake society which is truly worthy of note, and that is the fact that even in social gatherings they open and close with prayer.
Thus, with the highest respect and gratitude for its citizens, I left Salt Lake and returned to Ogden, where I hoped for a new supply of books.
Finding neither letters nor books, and board being four dollars per day, I began to feel symptoms of the "blues." Going to the landlord and stating the case, he bade me have no fear, for no more would be demanded of me than I was able to pay; and cheered by this unexpected kindness, I resolved to patiently wait the issue of events. The next day being election, it was strange to witness the procession of women voters wending their way to the polls; but here, as in Salt Lake, the utmost order and quiet prevailed, nor was bolt or bar necessary for protection at night, when we were permitted to rest in sweet security from harm.
On going to the express office we were approached by a gentleman, who, pointing to me, handed Hattie an envelope with the simple words, "If you please;" few indeed, but fraught with mystery to us, our only solution being that the envelope contained election tickets, and we were supposed voters.
With a sense of relief we found the books at the express office, and we took that opportunity to open the mysterious package, in which we found five dollars. Describing the gentleman to the express agent, he said he was a clerk in an eating house near by, a bachelor, and very liberal. Certainly this act spoke nobly for the fraternity of bachelors, who are supposed to go about armed with a coat of mail, especially invulnerable in the region of the heart, while this unsolicited kindness unquestionably indicated a large degree of tenderness of nature.
We sent him a note of acknowledgment, which we felt to be but a feeble expression of our gratitude, and, as "all seemed to work together for our good," we left Utah with a benediction in our hearts and a silent but no less earnest prayer on our lips, and turned toward the setting sun.
"The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed, It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest, it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown."
Leaving Ogden we followed the line of the Central Pacific Railroad, making no stops until we reached Elko, Nevada. It was the county seat of Elko county, and, although at that time a place of comparatively small size and population, it had an air of business activity known only to localities alive with the excitement of railroad traffic. The mammoth depot and freight-house gave it an air of importance; the pine trade, then so active, and the busy stage-line to the neighboring, warm, mineral springs and mines of purest silver, imparted to it an additional business activity.
We were delightfully entertained by Mr. Treet, the gentlemanly proprietor of the Railroad House, and were presented by him with a letter of introduction to Mrs. Van Every, of Sacramento. Thus did so many kind hands smooth down the inequalities incident to a life of travel, and pleasantly pave the way to so many warm friendships.
On arriving at Sacramento on August 5th, a day of intense, almost stifling heat, we went at once to Mrs. Van Every, who kept the most elegant boarding house in the city, whose spacious apartments seemed filled with the breath of Paradise, which added a grateful welcome to our travel-tired bodies. Mrs. Van Every's mien of pure and native dignity, her voice of silvery sweetness, gave the charm of a welcome and ease to her greeting; and without delay we presented our letter, which was the "open sesame" to her heart.
We were at once assigned to a nice, clean and even luxurious apartment, and after some real rest and quiet we sauntered out, as usual seeking the most prominent editors, and found two, both of whom did us full justice in the way of editorial notices of our presence and mission.
One day, almost at the close of a two weeks' canvassing tour, we entered the office of the Honorable N. Green Curtis, who, at the first glance, declined to give us his patronage, but after a short conversation, in which he learned that I was a native of Baltimore,
"A moment o'er his face The tablet of unutterable thought was traced, And then, it faded as it came,"
he instantly arose, and, as if impelled by some new and life-giving impulse, he took from my hand a book, and left in its stead a five dollar bill, saying in hurried words, I never refused to assist a Southerner.
Thus the memories of our native land are balmy with recollections of childhood, and cling to us through a lifetime of sorrow and change. The humblest Scottish shepherd boy can never forget that
"'Twas yonder on the Grampian hills His father fed his flock."
Judge Curtis afterward revealed the fact that he was a native of South Carolina, and the mere mention of the sunny land of his boyhood gave to each latent sympathy new life and power. It was also probable that he was not at first aware of my affliction, for he added the remark that he could not refuse a favor to a blind person. When we were leaving his office he arose and inquired if I needed aid in any other way; stated that he was a widower and without other ties, hence had no claims upon his purse, and hoped I would feel as free to ask as he was to give.
I replied that I was doing too well in my legitimate business to require direct pecuniary aid, and unless he could assist me in securing railroad passes I had no requests to make.
How kindly he did this was manifest from the fact that I afterward received from Ex-Governor Stanford, who was President of the Central Pacific Road, a yearly pass, and with this introduction the favor was readily extended by all the railroads on the coast.
A few evenings before I left Sacramento Mrs. Van Every, from her ever overflowing goodness, improvised an entertainment for my pleasure and benefit. It became necessary to initiate Hattie into the secret, but I remained in blissful ignorance until one evening I received a not unusual summons to go down to the drawing rooms, when I found myself the centre of a charmed circle of the elite of Sacramento, the easy flow of whose conversation was laden with love and sympathy for me, and then was revealed the fact that each invited guest had received a card, upon which Mrs. Van Every had traced the words "for the benefit of the blind lady."
"Music with its golden tongue was there," and the halls resounded with melody, which, with love's sacred inspiration, is sweet as Apollo's lute.
Among the gathered guests was Mr. Charles Cummings and lady, Mr. Cummings being one of the officers of the Central Pacific Railroad, of whom I shall speak hereafter. A most sumptuous supper was served, each choice viand being the result of Mrs. Van Every's culinary lore, which the most epicurean taste could not but relish.
The light-winged hours brought all unconsciously the time for parting, and the beauty and chivalry of Sacramento, left laden with books and baskets which had been spirited from my own room and tastefully disposed in the parlors; and each good night was blended with a kind wish and gentle benediction.
Mrs. Van Every, and her sister, Mrs. Fulger, who lived with her, were ladies of the noblest representative type of the Society of Friends, of which my life already held such blessed memories. In general society, with deferential etiquette, they adopted the usual form of speech, but in the privacy of the home circle they used the "plain language" of their own organization, hence it became to me doubly musical in its sacred character.
Before starting again upon our travels, we made Sacramento our home, to which we could turn for rest in our wanderings.
"And this our life—exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything."
We next visited San Jose, one of the most romantically, beautiful towns in California, which would require the subtle gift of genius, a touch of poetic fire, and, above all, the fullness and richness of descriptive power, to enable me to give any adequate conception of its charms. It was almost a fairy realm, with its fields of waving grain, then golden with the glow of the harvest season; trees laden with fruitage, and vineyards drooping with their ripe, purple clusters.
One of the prominent attractions of the place was the residence of General Negley, nestling in the centre of extended grounds, combining the richly, blending beauties of nature and art. Groves and streams, rustic bridges and flowing fountains, shrubby labyrinths and flowery dells, were grouped in happiest harmony. Received by the General with the genial hospitality which should characterize the presiding spirit of such an Eden, dispensing itself in so many pleasant ways, we were led from house to garden, and from vineyard to wine press, where all were temptingly lured to taste the freshly pressed grape juice.
It was a novel sight to those accustomed only to white or negro labor, to see the efficient corps of Chinese employees who had proven themselves such valuable servants. It is with some degree of trepidation that I follow a desire which impels me to describe a bunch of grapes I saw in this vineyard. I must beg my readers to free me from any taint of the spirit of the renowned Baron Munchausen, whose intensely magnifying vision threw its impress upon all objects, but, without the faintest degree of exaggeration, I can say, that while I am no Lilliputian in size, I stood, holding with great difficulty, the weight of a single bunch of grapes in my extended hand, while the other end of it rested upon the ground, nor would I dare to tell this grape story unless many of my readers were familiar with the mammoth fruits of California.
After this delightful visit we took the horse car to Santa Clara, and certainly the world cannot boast of a public route so redolent with beauty as this. Both sides of the road are shaded with trees of almost a century's growth; for this "Alameda" was planted by the Jesuit Fathers in 1799. These left the vines and olives of their native Spain, and planted upon the soil of their new home this grove, which was, doubtless, intended as a sacred haunt, never dreaming that its sanctity would be invaded by the sacrilegious sounds of modern civilization, and, above all, by the rumble of the horse car.
All along this beauteous line of shade, musical with the melody of birds, are elegant villas, evidently the abodes of wealth and fashion.
Back again to Sacramento, we met Mr. Charles Cummings, who gave us a general pass over the various stage routes of that portion of the State, and we at once went to Stockton by rail, where we took the stage for the celebrated Calevaros trees. So stupendous appeared every tree upon the route, that a score of times we fancied ourselves nearing the world famed giants, but how did these monsters dwindle into comparative insignificance when we found the real grove.
After this tedious, tiresome stage ride, it was indeed a luxury to find ourselves safely ensconced in the large, elegant hotel in the midst of the Calevaros, the season being quite advanced, and in consequence the hotel less crowded. This being one of the few places in the State in which we found cool water, we luxuriated in draught after draught of this crystal, ice-cold beverage, and no fabled fountain of rejuvenating power could have been more exhilarating.
Next morning, in eager anxiety, we took an early look at the great trees, all of which are named for some person of distinction. We stood first beside General Grant, and, as Hattie laid her hand upon the side of the hero, she bade me start around him and see what a distance it would be to find her again. When I was upon the opposite side I felt quite isolated and lonely, and when I regained her companionship it seemed to have been after a long separation. We next took a reverent look at the "Mother of the Forest," which is eighty-seven feet in circumference and four hundred feet in height, and we must confess that these proportions made her look quite like an Amazon. The "Father of the Forest" was quite prostrate, his huge bulk, as he lay upon the ground, seeming that of a fallen hero. Thus in the vegetable as in the animal world, the female has the greater power of endurance. Man, in spite of his conceded superiority of physical strength and supposed mental supremacy, bows before the tornado of life, while woman ofttimes stands erect and fearless amid the storms and winds of years.
The heart of the Father had been bored out, and the hollow converted into a drive, admitting a horse and rider for eighty-seven feet, and allowing them room to turn and go back. I had the pleasure of taking this novel ride, allowing my horse to be led.
Many of my readers have seen, and most of them have heard of the novel dancing-hall in the heart of one of these denizens of the forest, which admits four quadrilles upon its floors, and can imagine the romance of "tripping the light fantastic toe" amid such surroundings. Another tree had been sawed into tablets, upon which each visitor left a name or record. The day previous to our visit, a little boy of eight years old had visited the grove. When his bright eyes rested for a time upon the tablet, his little fingers grasped a piece of chalk, and he readily wrote: "And God said, let there be a Big Tree, and there was a Big Tree."
We looked admiringly upon the "Twin Trees" named for Ingomar and Parthenia, and perhaps like these lovers of old, embodied "two hearts that beat as one." During our three days visit we left no tree unexamined, each one being fraught with individuality, and each in living language addressing our hearts in its own characteristic sentiment.
These veterans varied in age from twelve hundred to twenty-five thousand years, and for their accumulated cycles commanded veneration.
After fully satisfying our love of sight seeing, and taking time to fully contemplate the beauty and sublimity of the wonders, we returned by way of Sonora and Columbia to our temporary home in Sacramento, not only satisfied but highly gratified by our tour.
"Dared I but say a prophecy, As sang the holy men of old, Of rock-built cities yet to be Along these shining shores of gold, Crowding athirst into the sea; What wondrous marvels might be told! Enough to know that empire here Shall burn her loftiest, brightest star; Here art and eloquence shall reign As o'er the wolf-reared realm of old; Here learned and famous from afar, To pay their noble court, shall come, And shall not seek or see in vain, But look on all with wonder dumb."
Once more away from Sacramento we visited Marysville, which is a beautiful brick town, laid out with great regularity and width of street, each house nestling in flower-garden and shade, and is a place of extensive manufactures and trade. We went from there to Colusa, where I reaped a rich harvest of gain. Indeed I never found a people more lavish in the expenditure of money, seeming to value it only for the good it dispensed.
Leaving Colusa, elated with the success we had met, we journeyed to Marysville in a very happy state of mind that was doomed to undergo a severe reverse on our arrival. When we started there were three hundred dollars in "hard money" in my trunk, and when we arrived in Marysville my heart sank within me and I could feel the blood leave the surface and my face grow deadly cold when I learned that my trunk, which we had seen stowed in the "boot" of the stage on starting, was not there on our arrival. After a few moments, in which I considered what should be done, I went to the stage agent, who telegraphed back to Colusa, and, after an hour of deep and painful suspense, the answer came back that the trunk was safe. By some singular omission the straps of the boot had not all been buckled and my trunk had fallen out. It was picked up by some honest farmer, who, believing that it belonged to a passenger in the stage, had sent it to the office. The next morning it came to me, and I was amply compensated for the delay in the kindness of the agent, who not only expressed great regret for the mishap, but voluntarily defrayed all extra expense incurred.
We next visited Chico, at that time the terminus of the Central Pacific Railway, where I hoped to meet Elder Hobart, the friend I had so loved in my childhood. After some search I found his daughter, from whom I was pained to learn that he had closed his earthly pilgrimage but a short time before. My pain was not for him who rested from such faithful labors, but for those bereft. The daughter, although married, forgot not the friend of early days; and I accepted with alacrity her invitation to visit her house, where we had a season fraught with pleasant reminiscence.
We took the stage here for Red Bluff, the rain pouring in torrents and the night dark as Erebus, it being the beginning of the regular rainy season of this country. During the night we reached the Sacramento River, which we could almost have imagined to be the Styx, with the sombre Charon for a ferry-man, for we soon learned that we were obliged to cross upon a flat boat. The wind was blowing in so fierce a gale that the boatmen could not near the shore, and called upon the passengers for assistance. All the gentlemen responded but one passenger, who, although a man, was not gentle, settled himself upon the back seat and declared he would not pay his passage and work it too. All attempts of the ladies to shame him into activity were useless. He could not be induced to leave his snuggery, and even as we talked he was lustily snoring. So do some selfish natures smoothly slip through the emergencies of life, leaving to others the responsibilities and exertion; and this man I was afterwards told was a professional humorist, actually a humorous writer for the press, and I must accept this as one of his jokes.
After three weary hours we drifted to the shore, and next day went to Red Bluff, a wild, uncanny place, but abounding in wealth and replete with generous hearts, of whose bounty I was a rich recipient.
Thence we went to Shasta, where Mr. Hudson, a cousin of Hattie, had rooms in readiness for us at the American Hotel. The meeting of the cousins, after a separation of nineteen years, was a joyous one, their animated conversation keeping time with the quick, impetuous throbbing of their hearts. The pleasure of our day there was also much enhanced by the sprightly—even brilliant conversation of the hotel proprietress, Mrs. Green, whose three-score years and ten were worn as gracefully as many a maiden's sweet sixteen.
As a protracted rain seemed inevitable, and all business possibilities were precluded, we assented to Mr. Hudson's proposition to visit his bachelor quarters in the country, which we found to be one of the most romantic, sylvan shades imaginable, with its little three roomed-cot embowered in vines and running roses, then in full bloom, and after the storm, radiant in color, freighted with perfume and sparkling with liquid gems. Alone he had occupied this secluded spot for nineteen years, and in his isolation—
"Had made him friends of mountains; With the stars and the quick spirits of the Universe, He held his dialogues, And they did teach to him The magic of their mysteries."
He was as familiar as a hunter, with every trail in the vicinity, and he took us through every romantic, winding path, one of which led us to an elevation commanding a view of Mount Shasta, the highest peak of the Coast Range.
Reluctantly we left this "pleasure dome," which, although less stately than that "in Xanadu of Kubla Kahn," held all the fairy charms of a bright Eutopia; and with the vain regrets which all must feel who leave some fancy realm for the cold regions of reality, we took the stage route for Weaversville, forty miles farther up the mountain heights, whose crests were now white with snow, and the road in many places running within six inches of the ragged chasms, thousands of feet in depth.
Our stage was drawn by four horses, and, at one time, the snow accumulated around the foot of one of the leaders until it formed a huge ball, and with this impediment he was partially precipitated over the edge of a precipice. This noble animal exhibited more presence of mind than would have characterized many human beings under similar circumstances, and, with great judgment, gradually extricated the foot from its snowy burden, and resumed his journey, but not before the face of every passenger was blanched with terror.
After a few days at Weaversville, we returned to Sacramento, feeling that we had enjoyed a pleasant and profitable trip.
"A man he seems of cheerful yesterdays, And confident to-morrows."
We made a trip to San Francisco at a time when life seemed a continued carnival season, for there winter is the most delightful portion of the year. We rented apartments in a delightful New England family, named Collins. This, at that time, was the most comfortable way of living, for in no part of the United States did restaurants furnish such good and liberal fare at such reasonable rates. The characteristic cheerfulness of California became intensified in San Francisco, where every face looked radiant and happy as if all who entered the Golden Gate found a City of the Sun.
We had so often asked the reason of this, and were as often told that "it was all owing to the climate." We finally concluded that the climate carried an unusual weight of responsibility; indeed, according to Joaquin Miller, among "the first families of the Sierras," every unusual phenomenon of nature, whether it came in the form of a fascinating widow, a spooney man, a premature birth, or a fish with gold in its stomach, was all owing to "this glorious climate of Californy."
Although San Francisco is pervaded by the business activity of a great commercial metropolis, it is not possessed of the spirit of excessive drudgery in the hot pursuit of the "almighty dollar" which prevails in many other places. Every Saturday afternoon there is a lull in the labor routine, business being entirely suspended, and the fashionable promenades, Montgomery and Kearney Streets, are thronged with pleasure seekers; husbands and wives, lovers and sweethearts, happy children, gay colors and brilliant equipages.
Among the beautiful resorts is that of the Woodward Gardens, with zoological and floral departments, parks, lakes, dancing halls and skating rink. A friend kindly accompanied us to the Cliff House, a delightful resort upon the beach, about six miles from the city, and too well known to require description.
We remained in San Francisco about three months and a half, became every day more fascinated with its charms, and would fain have rested longer under the spell, but duty called us to many places on the coast, among them the floral Oakland, a perfect bijou garden and grove, and, like Alemeda, a beautiful, suburban home for the merchant princes of San Francisco.
We visited San Rafael and Santa Cruz, the Newport of California. At the former place there was an incident, which, although of a personal nature, we mention as illustrative of the magnanimous character of the Californian, prone to err, but ever ready to confess a wrong. We entered the office of the County Clerk and offered him a book. Without removing his feet from the counter, upon which they were elevated at an angle of forty-five degrees, he threw down a dollar and bade us "go along."
We "stood not upon the order of our going," but went, taking care to leave the dollar. A bystander said to me: "Take it! he is rich!" I quietly assured him that I never accepted money without rendering an honest equivalent, and as I left I heard the ejaculation: "She's plucky, isn't she." On entering a livery stable on the opposite side of the street, a gentleman took the proffered book and opened to a page containing the name of Aunt Nancy Lee. With an exclamation of surprise he said: "I have an aunt of that name." This led to further conversation and a better acquaintance, the person really proving to be his aunt. While we were talking, the four gentlemen from the office of the County Clerk came in, and I being introduced in a new light they each bought a book, and the clerk made an ample apology for his abruptness, which I readily accepted as an "amende honorable."
We went to Santa Barbara by steamer and greatly enjoyed the sail. Finding no pier upon our arrival, we had to descend an almost perpendicular ladder to a small boat. In this apparently perilous process, the boatmen were actively assisted by Captain Johnson, whose mellow toned voice softened and cheered the transit. In the descent, a woman dropped her baby into the water, and, although it was quickly rescued by the seamen, her continued screams even after its safe delivery quite intimidated me, but with the usual sure-footedness of the blind, I went down with so much ease that I was greatly complimented by the astonished captain. Our skiff-ride to shore was a pleasant episode, and the romance was much heightened by the floating sea plants around us, which could be easily touched with our hands. There were no good hotels in Santa Barbara, but we were comfortably accommodated in a private family. The climate is finer there than in any locality in the State, the thermometer most of the time standing at seventy degrees, hence it is so greatly sought by consumptives.
It was to me a delightful pastime to spend an occasional hour with the fishermen on the coast, who are so happy to impart any information regarding their own calling, and from whom I learned many a valuable lesson.
From Santa Barbara we went down the coast to a little railroad landing and took the train bound inland; after leaving the beach the road passes through dense, fragrant orange-groves and rich, fruitful vineyards. A ride of twenty-five miles brought us to Los Angeles, a town with the same beautiful surroundings. It was, at that time, a quaint, old, dilapidated Spanish place, with an air of shabby gentility, but the subsequent tide of immigration and trade has doubtless transformed it. We returned to the coast and took the steamer to San Diego, which, with its arid, sandy waste, has little to recommend it to the visitor, save its truly, palatial hotel, which must have been built in anticipation of the many projected railways diverging from this point.
While there, our hearts were rejoiced by a meeting with Dr. Baird and his wife, a pleasure known only to those who, exiled from home, see a "dear familiar face."
"All that's bright must fade, The brightest, still the fleetest; All that's sweet was made, But to be lost, when sweetest."
We returned to Sacramento with minds refreshed and spirits brightened by the delightful scenes through which we had passed during our coast trip. My life seemed to have received new radiance, and all things wore the bright "couleur de rose," when one day there seemed something in Hattie's touching tone which, like the "shadow of coming" events, sent through my heart a strange, premonitory thrill of sadness. She paused as if for prayerful preparation, ere she said: "Mary, I have something sad, something terrible to tell you, and I wish to prepare you to bear it with patience, even as I for five months have borne the burden with silent submission." She then carefully, calmly, quietly revealed to me the fact that there was feeding upon her dear life one of those horrible vampires of human disease—a cancer, which was slowly but surely drawing her nearer the close. Suddenly all brightness and beauty died out for me, while cloud and gloom gathered around me, deep, dark and impenetrable; for so had Hattie entwined herself about my heart, that to my darkened days there seemed for me no light, no life without her. Surely—
"Sorrows come not single spies, But in battalions,"
And while I felt myself overwhelmed by this one deep grief in quick succession came another. One morning while at our breakfast, and without the slightest preparation, tidings was brought to me that Chicago was destroyed by fire.
My husband had just completed our new home, a comfortable resting place, with lovely garden and pleasant surroundings, and thither I had hoped ere long to go and rest from my labors. Daily, as the diagrams of the fire reached us, we traced upon them the loved site of our home, as in the burnt district.
All telegraphic and mail communication being cut off, we could receive no direct news, and in the intensity and terror of suspense pictured our home desolated, and friends perished in the horrible holocaust.
Feeling that a resumption of our life of labor was inevitable, we parted with the dear Sacramento friends, who had so kindly clung to us for fourteen months, with many a sigh and tear, and went to all the towns of importance between that place and Reno, Nevada, at which point we took the stage for Virginia City, and reached it after two weeks of inexpressible agony, during which time food had scarce passed our lips or sleep visited our eyes. On our arrival we were overjoyed to find awaiting us seven letters from home. Oh the eternity that elapsed before the seals could be tremulously broken! and the halcyon sweetness of relief of the happy tidings of friends in safety and health. Although the fire-fiend had swept his destructive wings over the property within a hundred yards of our home, through a sudden shifting of the wind its course had been changed, thus saving us from what would have seemed to me ruin. Gratefully we resumed our business and remained for seven weeks in Virginia City and vicinity, where we had most abundant success, for in spite of rock and ledge, sand and tornado, the country abounds in full purses and warm hearts.
At Carson City we found an United States Mint, where a gentleman designated Saturday afternoon, when the machinery was stopped, as a proper time to give us the benefit of a full examination, allowing me to touch everything, and giving a satisfactory explanation of the "modus operandi" of money making.
We went to Battle Mountain, where we took the stage for Austin, ninety miles distant. We had nine passengers and twelve hundred weight of bullion in the bottom of the stage, together with innumerable satchels, umbrellas and brown-paper parcels. In this cramped position we traveled from one o'clock in the afternoon until nine o'clock the next morning, an infliction that was only rendered endurable by having a relay of horses every fifteen miles, and being permitted to rest upon terra firma during the changes.
At Austin we unexpectedly met in the family of the hotel proprietor friends of Hattie, from Illinois. The kind host proved to me a "Good Samaritan," for finding myself unable to walk he carried me in his arms to the hotel, and safely entrusted me to the ministering care of his kind family.
Desiring to cross over the country to Eureka, and the stage not venturing to the eminence upon which stood our hotel, we were obliged to go to the express office to take passage, where we were shocked at the sight of three maudlin men in an advanced stage of inebriety, throwing showers of silver money upon the ground, and ostentatiously allowing the crowd to gather it up; while we were still more shocked to find that they were to be inside passengers, and our only companions.
With these three men and their "fade mecum," "the whiskey bottle," we started on our journey that bleak, winter morning. Two of them soon became so beastly drunk that their bottle fell out of the stage door and was lost beyond recovery. Their companion remained for a time sufficiently sober to prevent them from falling upon us in their constant oscillations, but, by the time they had reached the convalescent stage, he became so nauseated that it was necessary to hold his head out of the window for relief, and, finally yielding to the soporific influence of his drams, he laid himself at full length upon our feet.
Meantime a most gentlemanly person, of whose presence we were at first ignorant, would occasionally descend from the stage top, look at us compassionately, ask if anything was wanted, and take leave. At one of his calls I asked him if we were not near our dining place, when, much to our discomfort, he informed us of the impossibility of finding anything to eat on the road. We had provided no lunch, and, having partaken of a meagre and untimely breakfast, were fast becoming exhausted. He politely offered to share with us his store of provisions, and at the next stopping place escorted us to the rude log cabin with the air of a Knight Errant, took off our rubbers, placed them before the fire, and after other indescribable and delicate attentions opened his basket and spread before us a lunch of truly, royal viands, which, in spite of our rude surroundings, was eaten with unrivalled relish.
Arriving at Eureka, we stopped at the Parker House, in which Mr. Hinckley, the proprietor, made every exertion to secure our comfort. It had rained for a week, and the streets were in such a horrible condition that we were filled with forebodings of failure. Quite unexpectedly we again encountered our cavalier, who insisted upon lifting us over the deep mud of the crossings, placing us entirely at ease by the assurance that it was the custom of the country, after which he offered his assistance in the sale of books, and, going into a faro bank, he sold twelve copies at a dollar and a half apiece.
We described this gallant gentleman to Mr. Hinckley, who informed us that he was Pete Fryer, the most noted gambler of the Pacific coast, whose unrivalled success and universal popularity were in a great degree owing to his sobriety, his elegant presence and polished manner.
Our next move was to Gold Point, where we spent a day. We met there a Virginia physician with whom we had a long and interesting conversation. We were boarders at the same hotel, and at the tea table he came over to Hattie, and placing in her hand a ten dollar gold piece, said it was for the blind lady, and he wished her to buy with it a keepsake. We went to Palisades in a mud-wagon, the only means of transportation at our disposal, and we found it highly appropriate, the mud being over the hubs of the wheels.
In this primitive style we reached our destination upon Christmas Eve, weary and homesick; yet our Christmas dinner in this insignificant town was choice and recherche, the quality and variety of the wines being worthy of the cellar of a connoisseur. Our business success here was greater than in many larger towns.
We visited the places en route to Ogden, and on our arrival there found snow almost two feet deep, and hundreds anxiously waiting for the arrival of the Union Pacific train, which had not been in for two weeks. The hotels were so intensely crowded that we were forced to wade through snow over our knees for half a day to find a comfortable place to stay, and were very thankful for a third rate boarding house.
The next day, when almost in despair, we heard in the distance the welcome sound of a locomotive whistle. The gentlemen rushed to the depot and soon bore us the pleasant tidings that the train would leave in two hours and a half. We hurriedly gathered together our baggage and sufficient supplies for a week, arriving at the train just in time to secure a section in the sleeping-car. Hoping for no more delay, we started, but ere long found ourselves landed in a snow bank, with five trains ahead of us, in the same predicament. A three-days stand-still of this kind, with its trying tedium, can be imagined only by those who have been similarly situated, and its tedium is equaled by nothing but an Ohio River sand bar imprisonment on a stern wheel steamer.
My sensibilities had quite a reawakening jog from an incidental abrasure, received by coming in contact with one of the acute angles in the person of Miss Susan B. Anthony, who honored us with her distinguished presence. She was in company with the family of the Honorable Mr. Sargent, United States Senator from California. This gentleman evinced great native delicacy in his quiet, unobtrusive attentions. Miss Susan had been very impatient at the long delay, and constantly berated the male sex and their inadequacy to great emergencies, and was offered by the complimented parties the privilege of engineering the train, an honor she respectfully declined. One day I was saluted by a voice, not sweetly feminine in tone, while an impetuous hand pitched, at me one of my own books. The voice asked:
"Were you ever in Michigan? Are you married? I knew a blind woman there who had five children, and they were all deaf and dumb! I think Congress ought to pass a law to prevent these people from marrying and bringing such creatures into the world!"
These burning words came with the fierce force of the tornado and the horrible heat of the simoon. So abruptly had she taken her leave, that she was beyond hearing before I could sufficiently recover to reply. Words I would have spoken burned upon my lips, and emotions welled up from the depths of an affection as deep, true and unfathomable as ever struggled in such a heart as that of Susan B. Anthony.
Long did I dwell upon the cruel words, wondering if they could have emanated from a woman who advocated the inviolable rights and bewailed the deep wrongs of her own sex, or if Congress had the power to exclude the blind from loving and following the holiest impulses of their natures, like other human beings!
After our extrication we sped on to Sherman, the highest of the mountain towns, and the Railroad Company treated us to a dinner, which, although poor, was much relished, after our protracted dieting. After leaving Laramie we had another delay of two days' length, after which we went via Cheyenne to Omaha, rejoicing, and after eleven days of weary travel felt ourselves really homeward bound.
"'Tis sweet to hear the watch-dog's honest bark, Bay deep-mouthed welcome as we draw Near home; 'Tis sweet to know there is an eye Will mark our coming, and look brighter When we come."
We reached home in mid-winter, and found a scene of indescribable desolation, the fire having devastated so many familiar spots in the city's approach; depots in ashes and entire streets a wide waste. Finding no one to meet us, with the longed-for, loving welcome, we were tortured with fear, and went at once to Mr. Arms' place of business, where we learned that he was at home and sick. Thither we hurriedly wended our way, and, although we found the invalid unable to leave his bed, we thought it sweet to find ourselves in this our first home, which, having been reared in my absence, seemed like a magic castle bridging over the sad separation.
My husband soon convalesced and we began to lay plans for furnishing our new abode. I still suffered from a cold upon my lungs contracted from the long exposure on the plains, and it fell to the lot of Hattie to assist Mr. Arms in the selection of our household goods. She had become eyes and hands for me, and I never so fully realized how the touch of sympathy could blend two tastes in one, for every article met my entire approval. I will not dwell upon the joys of our new home; but well has the poet said—
"Each man's chimney is his golden mile stone, Is the central point from which He measures every distance Through the gateway of the world Around him.
"We may build more splendid habitations, Fill our rooms with paintings And with sculpture; But we cannot buy with gold The old association."
In every Paradise since the first Eden the inevitable trail of the serpent has been over all, and too often it comes in its halcyon hours. Insidiously and surely came the stealthy trail of our serpent in the declining health of my husband, and the impending danger to the dear life of Hattie.
I took her to every physician who made her disease a specialty, going far and near to consult them, each one of whom would shake their heads in despair, yet all seeming willing to undertake her case. But to me she was too precious to be submitted to experimental treatment. Finally the fame of Dr. Kingsley reached us. He was known as the Great American Cancer Doctor, and we went at once to his cure, in Rome, New York.
The same ominous shade came with his examination, and he too failed to promise a cure. Passing through the wards of his hospitals, with their agonizing and appalling scenes, the shrieks of pain ringing like death-knells in our ears, decided us, neither of us being willing she should submit to a fate so fraught with fearful contingencies.
We were stopping with a family named Crawford, who were friends of Hattie, and whose unremitting kindness will be a life-long memory.
We returned to them in deep despair, when we heard of Mr. Golly, a neighboring farmer, who was performing almost miraculous cures, and we at once took the stage and went to him.
A few moments conversation inspired us with confidence in the man, whose frank face was an index to his character, and whose sympathetic soul breathed through every intonation of his gentle voice.
He advised her to remain for treatment, assuring her, that if she was unable to pay, it would cost her nothing.
We were willing to remunerate if certain of cure, and, knowing the dread uncertainty of the case, this noble man revealed in his offer his true magnanimity. I remained with her two months, when home demands became imperative, and I longingly left one who, through nine years of close and dear relationship had become a life link hard to sever.
With undying gratitude to good Mr. Golly, I left her confided to his fatherly care, knowing he could not prove recreant to the trust.
"There was a time when meadow, Grove and stream, The earth and every common sight To me did seem Appareled in celestial light, The glory and the freshness of a dream. It is not now as it has been of yore, Turn where soe'r I may, By night or day, The things that I have seen I now can see no more."
Upon our return to Chicago I found my husband so ill that he yielded to the advice of his physician to go to the Mineral Springs of St. Louis, and there being a heavy drain upon our finances, I felt it necessary to resume my travels. Disagreeable as was the task, it was tolerable only for its benefit to loved ones.
Ida, the young daughter of my favorite brother, had just graduated, her laurels still green and her heart full of girlish enthusiasm. With the sanction of her parents she kindly consented to accompany me. Kindred ties are deep and strong, and her society was like a ray of sunshine in my clouded pathway.
Mr. Keep, the Manager of the North-western Railway, presented us with a general pass, and we started for the Lake Superior country, first visiting many of the beautiful towns of Wisconsin, among which was Peshtigo, then but partially rebuilt from its recent ravages from fire. In canvassing we called at the house of Mrs. Armstrong, who kept a book, and asked us to call in the afternoon for the money.
During the day her little daughter had become so interested in the "story of the blind girl," that she insisted upon going out to buy her a dress, which she presented in person. Little Nellie's gift of simple calico was as precious to me as if of silken texture and Tyrion dye, and "waxed rich" with the royalty of sympathy and love.
We visited Escanaba, a beautiful summer resort upon Lake Michigan, spending a delightful week in the elegant hotel, which rests in the shaded seclusion of park and garden, and gaining renewed health and vigor.
We had a short, sweet stay at Marquette, saw the "Isle of Yellow Sands" with its luring light, the "Pictured Rocks" bearing the tracery of the Divine Artist, and all the well-known beauties of Lake Superior.
On our way to Ishpenming we were presented with tickets to the concert of "Blind Tom," the musical prodigy and whilom slave boy, through whose God-given talent the former master had amassed quite a fortune.
We heard his improvised and memorized melodies, and were struck with awe and wonder.
After the concert we went to the Commercial Hotel, where I was suddenly and violently attacked with a congestive chill, in which emergency Mrs. Newett, the landlady, proved a ministering angel, her thorough knowledge of the disease and prompt devoted attendance no doubt saving my life.
We next visited L'Anse, the terminus of the Marquette Railroad, and found a delightful hotel, bearing the euphonious name of Lake Linden House, suggestive of the beautiful grounds gracefully sloping to the edge of the lake, whose "wide waste of waters" seemed a "sapphire sea" set with emerald gems, from one of which verdant spots gleaming in the picturesque distance rose the symmetrical spire of a cathedral, whose cross stood out like a beautiful "bas relief" from the violet background; and the solemn voice of the convent bell told the hour when orisons arose like holy incense to the skies. A fitting resort for the student, and the recluse was this secluded spot, where nature opened her fairest page, and beauty planted her altars on earth, in air and sky, and where "devotion wafts the mind above."
We crossed in the steamer to Houghton, beautifully located upon a winding stream, and we were pleasantly entertained at the Butterfield House.
We remained some time, lingering among the towns in its vicinity, and returned home improved in health and finances.
Before settling down for the winter I resolved to visit a few towns in the vicinity of Chicago, and among them Sycamore, where there was an unexpected episode in my hitherto eventful career, a touching incident and "words fitly spoken," which the good book says are as "apples of gold in pictures of silver."
My husband having once been engaged in business at Sycamore, I was in constant expectation of meeting some of his old associates; hence, was not so much surprised when, upon entering a store, a gentleman stepped down from his desk, and warmly grasping both of my hands, exclaimed: "I know you." I quickly and inquiringly responded, you are perhaps a friend of my husband? Oh no, he replied, I do not know your husband, but I have great reason to remember you, for you were the cause of my salvation!
Moved and wondering, I tried in vain to recall the time when I could have been an humble agent in the hands of the Heavenly Father, even to the salvation of a human soul.
Shakspeare has said that—
"Ofttimes to win us to our harm The instruments of darkness tell us truths; Win us with honest trifles, to betray us In deepest consequence."
And why should not the same "honest trifles" win us to good.
He then explained to me that eight years previous he was in Burlington, Wisconsin, having wandered far from the fold in which a patient, loving, Christian mother had faithfully tended her flock, teaching them the wisdom of divine truth and loving lessons of duty to God and man.
He had entered a saloon and sat down to a card-table with a congenial companion, when suddenly lifting his eyes a lady stood beside him offering him a little book, and something in the expression of that face riveted his attention and penetrated the depths of his soul, inspiring resolves new and strange. While years had passed since that time, he had never forgotten the lineaments which had changed the whole tenor of his life. Both his companion and himself bought books, threw down their cards, and from his own assurance he has never since been tempted to indulge in a game.
The next winter he made his peace with God and became a consistent and steadfast member of the Congregational Church.
The following spring he was married to one who was in every way fitted to minister to his higher impulses and lead him to a holier life, and while he has ever since been actively engaged in every good "word and work," he is especially engrossed with Sabbath School duties, in which field he has planted many a seed, from which has been reaped richest harvests and fairest fruitage.
Their cozy, little home, is a fair and faithful mirror, reflecting the unostentatious, goodness, purity and love which characterizes every act of their private lives, whose peaceful, even tenor is indicated in the tasteful apartments, pervaded with purity and touched with the delicate tracery of taste. Fair flowers grace almost every nook of this truly Eden-home, and its bright blooming garden is a fitting type of their lives, blossoming with goodness and fragrant with the incense of holiness.
It is not strange that these dear people seemed to me like loved relations; our meeting like a reunion with some pure spirits with whom my heart had held communion in other days, their voices coming to me like some sweet strain of unforgotten music.
I left them, feeling grateful that my little book had been the humble instrument of so much good, and was happy in the thought that it had been so thoroughly read and discussed in the little Sabbath School, that I had many warm friends in Sycamore.
Before I left he pleadingly besought me never to pass by a saloon in my canvassing tours, for I little knew the good my presence might bring about. I have faithfully followed his advice, ever buoyed by the hope of some equally happy result, and never having met with an indignity or repulse, this class of people ranking among my most generous patrons.
As from every event in life we gather some golden lesson of wisdom, from this I learned to—
"Think nought a trifle Though it small appear Small sands make up the mountain, Moments make the year, And trifles life!"
"While, O, my heart! as white sails shiver, And crowds are passing, and banks stretch wide; How hard to follow with lips that quiver, That moving speck on the far-off side! Farther, farther—I see it—I know it— My eyes brim over, it melts away, Only my heart, to my heart shall show it, As I walk desolate day by day."
At home for the winter, I was joined by my husband, who had entered into business, and constant tidings of Hattie's convalescence cheered me. Ida being obliged to visit home, I was left in entire charge of my house, daily bewailing the fatal effects of inexperience, when, as ever, a friend was furnished me in the hour of need. Mrs. Leavitt, my neighbor "over the way," was a lady of great personal attraction, whose beautiful head was crowned with the glory of prematurely white hair. She ministered to me in so many ways. In reading or conversation her melodious voice lent a charm to the most ordinary theme. Nor did she deem it degrading to enter the domestic realm, and there as everywhere she reigned a queen.
The flutter of a handkerchief at the window blind was my "signal of distress," and when my "Ship of State" seemed sinking amid the breakers of domestic storms, her strong arm ever saved. When, the dread emergency of dinner demanded more skill than my amateur art supplied, she came to the rescue, and as she presided in the kitchen, teaching to compound some savoury sauce or delicate dish, the process was interlarded with some sage sentiment from Bacon and other profound philosophers; while, like Joe's practical sermon over the "plum pudding" came her comments "My dear! knowledge is power," thus deeply impressing me with the potency of her presence even in the culinary department.
Hence from this dear friend I received not only the "fullness of knowledge," but the richness of affection also. She finally drifted away from me to the sunny, flowery land of Florida, whence sweet memories are wafted to me through her love-laden letters, under whose sentiment there flows the same deep under-current of thought.
In the dreary month of January, Hattie came with the snow drifts, bringing with her presence a bright sun-ray, for she was buoyant with the hope of health, and I rejoicing that her life could be lengthened, perhaps saved, hence the winter passed in mapping out plans for the future. But, with the early spring, the dread disease reappeared with such intensity that I felt her doom to be irrevocably sealed, while "hope fled and mercy sighed." Prompted by a hope of enhancing her interest, I accompanied her to Morrison, Illinois, where she was awaited by two loving sisters, who, together with their noble husbands, so tenderly cared for her that it in some degree appeased the sad reluctance of giving her into other hands.
Mr. Arms' health had now become so seriously impaired that he had determined to seek the benefit of the Hot Springs of Arkansas, and, after he left, I secured the services of Miss Josie Tyson as traveling companion, and started for the lead mining regions of Wisconsin, making Mineral Point my headquarters. This town is the shipping-place for the ore, and I was surprised to find it with several thousand inhabitants—abounding in wealth and greatly advanced in culture, while it became afterward endeared to me by the extreme kindness of its people. My little jaunts from this place by private conveyance made a pleasant variety in the monotony of travel, after which we visited Mendota and South Western Iowa, where we spent a delightful summer.
We returned to Morrison the day before Thanksgiving, and I lingered two weeks with Hattie. Surely "blessings brighten as they take their flight," and with us the sadly, blissful moments flew all too fast, both silently impressed that it might be our last communion. In my absence her delicate and refined taste had designed a gold ring which she had made as a parting gift. As she placed it upon my finger she leaned her head upon my shoulder and wept bitterly, telling me in tenderest tones her sorrow at leaving one who so much needed her, pleading with me to have patience to bear the separation. These tears from fountains deep and pure must have been as potent at the throne of grace as the one so graphically described by Sterne; even that of the Recording Angel, who, in the bright Empyrean, dropped a tear upon the word left by the Accusing Spirit "and blotted it out forever."
Physicians agreeing that she might live at least a year, I yielded to her persuasion to go South for the benefit of my own health, and—
"In silence we parted, for neither could speak; But the trembling lip and the fast fading cheek To both were betraying what neither could tell; How deep was the pang of that silent farewell."
After a short season devoted to the arrangement of home matters, I started South via the Chicago and Alton Railroad. At Dwight, Illinois, we stopped at the McPherson House, where we had a delightful suite of rooms. The proprietor had attained to the years allotted to man, yet was so wonderfully preserved that he seemed a stalwart man of fifty. He spent an evening in our parlor, feasting us with the richness of his reminiscence. He had served in both the regular army and navy, his travels leading him to lands afar, and his naval service landing him at almost every port in the world, yet he had never carried a more dangerous weapon than a penknife, always having been unharmed and unmolested. His creed consisted of six words, viz.: "Deal mercifully, walk humbly before God." These "articles of faith," simple as the "new commandment" which Christ gave to his disciples, I give unto you, and beautiful as the "Golden Rule" of Confucius, were certainly in my own case carried out both "in the letter and the spirit;" for he at first peremptorily refused any remuneration for our elegant accommodations, but, finding me inexorable, very reluctantly consented to accept half pay.
The weather grew so cold, and the times so dull, we did not halt again until we reached St. Louis, where we both had relatives and friends who helped us to while away the holiday hours. While there we visited the Institution for the Blind, our pleasure being much enhanced by the rare music we heard and the polite attention of Professor Workman, the Superintendent.
The Superintendent of the Iron Mountain Railway presented us with a pass, jocularly remarking that it was equal to an eighty dollar New Year's gift.
Mr. C.C. Anderson, of Adams' express, upon the strength of our old Baltimore acquaintance, gave me letters of introduction, which afterward proved of infinite value.
"With the fingers of the blind We are groping here to find What the hieroglyphics mean Of the unseen in the seen. What the thought which underlies Nature's masking and disguise, What it is that hides beneath Blight and bloom, and birth and death."
We left St. Louis with its noble depot and stupendous bridge, and reaching Iron Mountain we seemed to have emerged from dense darkness into dazzling light. Going to the clean, elegant hotel, our faces, covered with St. Louis soot, were in such grim contrast with our sunny surroundings, that we had to go through an elaborate course of ablution before we could feel ourselves presentable. Iron Mountain is a monster mass of iron, one of the largest and purest of the kind in the world. In 1836 it was bought for the insignificant sum of six hundred dollars, and now its worth is incalculable.
Being unwilling to brave mud and small towns, we made no stops until we reached Little Rock, Arkansas, where, at the untimely hour of three o'clock in the morning, we went to the Central House, the only hotel which had survived their recent fires, and which we found so crowded that even the doors were closed against us.
Our party of five went out in quest of shelter, the night pervaded by "the blackness of darkness," and the rain pouring in torrents. One of the gentlemen was a member of the Legislature, and quite an invalid. Growing faint from exhaustion, he fell into a mud hole, and was fairly immersed in its slimy depths. After a long search we finally found a poor refuge and an execrable bed, but in the morning were favored in securing comfortable private accommodations.
While at Little Rock we visited all the State institutions, and among them that for the blind. After ten days of business success, we went to all the towns on the Arkansas River, and were charmed with its scenery, for while the classical meander, it winds in graceful beauty through forests which, although too low and ragged to please the eye, clothe a country otherwise picturesque in character. A strange peculiarity of the Arkansas River is that of the emerald green color which deeply tinges its crystal clearness, a fact which I found no one able to explain satisfactorily.
Fort Smith is nominally at the head of river navigation, but is really accessible by steamer only during a very small portion of the year, when the water is at an unusually high stage. It is beautifully located, and has a main street known as "The Avenue," which is between two and three hundred feet in width. This avenue is a great business centre, and at almost all times a scene of animated interest, while at its head stand prominently a cathedral and a convent.
The swift passing panorama of the avenue is ofttimes varied by a picturesque group of Chocktaws or Cherokees, with grotesque costume, this place being their principal rendezvous. Just at the edge of the town is a National Cemetery of great natural beauty, with but little of the stiff regularity which usually characterizes such places.
We found a great lack of educational advantages throughout the entire State of Arkansas, there being no public schools, and the private ones few in number and poor in character; but it has never been my good fortune to meet kinder hearts than were encountered among the masses.
At Arkadelphia we had a regular Arkansas deluge, and the first class hotel of this flourishing town of two thousand souls would indeed have been a poor ark for Father Noah and his family. Its walls were lathed but not plastered, and from our apartment we had an extended view of the entire floor.