Author: Henryk Sienkiewicz
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company.
Example in this ebook I came to America in September, 1849, said the captain, and found myself in New Orleans, which was half French at that time. From New Orleans I went up the Mississippi to a great sugar plantation, where I found work and good wages. But since I was young in those days, and full of daring, sitting in one spot and writing annoyed me; so I left that place soon and began life in the forest. My comrades and I passed some time among the lakes of Louisiana, in the midst of crocodiles, snakes, and mosquitoes. We supported ourselves with hunting and fishing, and from time to time floated down great numbers of logs to New Orleans, where purchasers paid for them not badly in money. Our expeditions reached distant places. We went as far as “Bloody Arkansas,” which, sparsely inhabited even at this day, was well-nigh a pure wilderness then. Such a life, full of labors and dangers, bloody encounters with pirates on the Mississippi, and with Indians, who at that time were numerous in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, increased my health and strength, which by nature were uncommon, and gave me also such knowledge of the plains, that I could read in that great book not worse than any red warrior. After the discovery of gold in California, large parties of emigrants left Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and other eastern cities almost daily, and one of these, thanks to my reputation, chose me for leader, or as we say, captain. I accepted the office willingly, since wonders were told of California in those days, and I had cherished thoughts of going to the Far West, though without concealing from myself the perils of the journey. At present the distance between New York and San Francisco is passed by rail in a week, and the real desert begins only west of Omaha; in those days it was something quite different. Cities and towns, which between New York and Chicago are as numerous as poppy-seeds now, did not exist then; and Chicago itself, which later on grew up like a mushroom after rain, was merely a poor obscure fishing-village not found on maps. It was necessary to travel with wagons, men, and mules through a country quite wild, and inhabited by terrible tribes of Indians: Crows, Blackfeet, Pawnees, Sioux, and Arickarees, which it was well-nigh impossible to avoid in large numbers, since those tribes, movable as sand, had no fixed dwellings, but, being hunters, circled over great spaces of prairie, while following buffaloes and antelopes. Not few were the toils, then, that threatened us; but he who goes to the Far West must be ready to suffer hardship, and expose his life frequently. I feared most of all the responsibility which I had accepted. This matter had been settled, however, and there was nothing to do but make preparations for the road. These lasted more than two months, since we had to bring wagons, even from Pittsburgh, to buy mules, horses, arms, and collect large supplies of provisions. Toward the end of winter, however, all things were ready. I wished to start in such season as to pass the great prairies lying between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains in spring, for I knew that in summer because of heat in those open places, multitudes of men died of various diseases. I decided for this reason to lead the train, not over the southern route by St. Louis, but through Iowa, Nebraska, and Northern Colorado. That road was more dangerous with reference to Indians, but beyond doubt it was the healthier. The plan roused opposition at first among people of the train. I declared that if they would not obey they might choose another captain. They yielded after a brief consultation, and we moved at the first breath of spring. To be continue in this ebook