D. W. (David W.) Belisle.

The American family Robinson; or, The adventures of a family lost in the great desert of the West online

. (page 20 of 20)
Online LibraryD. W. (David W.) BelisleThe American family Robinson; or, The adventures of a family lost in the great desert of the West → online text (page 20 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Edward, rushing into their arms, which were glad
to hold him there again.

" Oh, God ! I thank Thee) that Thou hast restored



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 345

ine these lost ones !" cried the mother fervently,
still holding her recovered children in her arms.

o

"Amen !" responded the curate, gently.

" Joy, for your arrival joy for our escape and
re-union," cried Sidney, returning the warm em-
brace with which he was greeted.

" These children make children of us," said
Howe, shaking Mr. and Mrs. Duncan by the hand,
while endeavoring to keep his joy at again see-
ing them in becoming bounds, for the children's
volubility was becoming contagious.

Lewis, Martin, Annie, and Benjamin were not
behind the rest in their greeting. Indeed they
were extravagant in their joy.

The emigrants were now conducted to the dwell-
ing prepared for them, which gave them a pleasant
surprise, for they had not anticipated finding a
house awaiting their arrival. The baggage was
soon placed in it, and by nightfall they were fairly
domiciled in their new home. Tired of being
unsettled, Mr. Duncan, on examining the locality
around him, determined to make himself a perma-
nent home, much to the gratincation of the curate,
whose choice of society had been hitherto necessa-
rily limited, as there were but few settlers within
twenty miles of his station. Jones and Cole
refused to take up their abode there. Visions of
gold mines constantly haunted them, and after a
week's delay they departed for their hidden trea-
sure.



346 THE WANDERERS; OR,

The chief now became impatient to return, and
to the astonishment of all, and great indignation
of Sidney, formally demanded of Mr. Duncan that
he should give authority for him to marry Jane, in
order that he might be on his journey back to his
people. This demand was so extraordinary that
the father did not know what to do, and sought
Howe, to see if he could throw any light on this
singular freak of the chief. A shade of sorrow
settled on the brow of the trapper when Mr.
Duncan told him his errand. "The chief," he
remarked, " has been making love in his fashion to
Jane ever since we have been away, greatly to the
annoyance of Sidney, who looks upon her as if he
thought no one had a right to make love to her but
himself."

"How is it with Jane?" asked Mr. Duncan,
anxiously.

' If I am not greatly deceived, she prefers the
chief to Sidney. I am not certain of it, however.
She was too guarded in her looks for me to ascer-
tain positively."

" This is strange ! What am I to do ?"

" Not strange at all, Duncan," returned the
trapper. " Do what is right, and all will be well
enough."

' The question then is, what is right ?"

" Not a hard one, by any means, to answer. If she
prefers him, and he will abandon his savage habits,
live and be civilized like other people, let her take



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 847

h,; by all means. He is a noble, generous fellow,
ana we are under great obligations to him, and
cornvxton gratitude demands from us any consistent
reUrn "

" Bv-t this mixing of the races! I must
acknowledge I can but feel a repugnance to it ;
but we v:ll see what Jane says, and leave it all to
her."

On apf>< aching, they found her in earnest con-
versation vm'h the chief, and as they came up, they
heard her ssy- - " Do not ask me to leave them ; I
feel as if a se^nL'on from all my kindred would
be fatal co my happiness. Your people are strangers
to me ; and though thoy would undoubtedly, as
you say, be kind to rae, yet it would not be like
my own people. Their ways are not like ours ;
and though I could not life among them, you could
with ours."

" Whirlwind was cradled in the forest, and he
is not a child to die in a white man's wigwam,"
returned the chief. "If the antelope will net go
with him to his people, he must leave her ;" and
though the words were slow and measured as they
fell from his lips, his chest Leaved convulsively,
and his eye was bent with intense light on her, as
if he would read the secret workings of her soul.

" Oh, I cannot, cannot go !" she said, extending
her clasped hands appealingly, as she raised her
eyes towards him.

" Because you do not love as I do," said he,



848 THE WANDERERS; OR,

claspiiig her in a long and close embrace, then
releasing her with a single bitterly uttered " Fare-
well ! we may never meet again," bounded away,
leaving the poor girl alone to ponder on the strange
conduct of the chief.

"She is better alone," said Howe, "let us
away," and retreating, they found the Arapahoes
in commotion, and before they could rightly com-
prehended the meaning of what had transpired, they
formed into a body, each one holding his horse by
the halter, and at a signal from the chief, were
firmly mounted on their steeds. Waving their
adieu to their host, they were out of sight before
Mr. Duncan and Howe were conscious of their
design.

"Poor fellow," said the trapper, "he has carried
away a sad heart an inadequate return, indeed,
for all he has done for us."

" I would willingly have had it otherwise, but it
seems they were both too strongly attached to
customs and kindred among which they were born
and which have become a part of their being, to
give them up for each other."

"Well, well," said Howe, "I have little faith in
broken hear.s ; at least what I have had was never
strengthened by observation or experience. It is
all for the best, I suppose, but I liked the chief,
and feel as though I had parted from a brother."

While assembled together in a group a few even-
ings after, of which the curate occupied a promi-



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 849

nen: position, our wanderers had been recounting
some of the wonders they had seen, among which
Mr. Duncan related to the curate the story of the
Old Man of Lake Superior, and Howe gave them
a description of the ruins among the mountains*
The curate listened silently, but, evidently, with
great interest to the recital until its conclusion.
He then commenced telling what he had seen:

ifc Last summer I was in Nacogdoches, an inland
rillage of Texas, and while transacting some busi-
ness that had called me thither, I incidentally heard
a curious road spoken of, and much speculation
was entertained as to who could have been the build-
ers. ' It never was built by the Mexicans,' said
one, who seemed both learned and gentlemanly,
'for had it been some record would have survived,
and I am confident there is none, for I have made
the early annals of the country my sole study for
years?, and must have found a record or something
to throw light upon such a costly and stupendous
undertaking had it been built by them.' This was
enough to arouse my curiosity, for I had already
seen works of art still perfect, that were known to
be older than any erected by the inhabitants of
this continent at the time of the conquest ; and,
joining the group of gentlemen, learned that the
road referred to was a broad paved avenue lead-
Ing west, and was said to extend many hundred
miles : so far indeed into the wilderness that its
termination was unknown. Rumor said it termi'

30



350 THE W/NDERERS; OR,

nated at the Pacific Ocean. My resolution was si
once taken. I determined to return to the Pacific
valley by this route, for if there was such a road it
would be conferring an incalculable benefit on tra
vellers to explore it. My business completed, in
company with four others, one of them being Don
Quavale, an amateur antiquarian, with his servant,
Jose, and a man by the name of Campbell, we set
out. I had a servant, Diego, the same who you see
here every day. It was a small party for such an
adventure, but we were not aware of the dangers
that lay before us, and we entered the wilderness
with light hearts."

" You followed it up, then ?" said Howe ; " bra-
vo ! you priests have nerve as well as kind words,
it seems."

"Yes: we followed it up," replied the curate,
quietly. " Light hearte 1 and eager to explore the
whole extent of this stupendous monument of a lost
people, we entered the wilderness, and soon struck
the object of our search. We examined it closely
and found it about eighty feet wide and paved with
granite in slabs twenty feet long and ten wide, and
were evidently of great thickness. The whole road
was covered with a soil, made up of decayed leaves
and branches sometimes, more than a foot in thick-
ness. Still we were enabled to follow the road
without the slightest difficulty, as it would not sup-
port a large growth of trees, for the blocks of
granite were so closely fitted against each other that



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 351

it precluded the possibility of their taking root
between them. Consequently they ran along the
surface, and as soon as the branches attained any
large size the wind overturned them, leaving a broad
avenue through the tall forest trees. We followed
this road through the day; sometimes the ground
had been raised, as was plainly visible from the
low lands on either side ; then again it went
through hills that had been excavated, as they
rose on either side in their original height, giving
the road the appearance of a broad defile between
them. Towards sunset of the fourth day we came
to a cluster of what we at first thought to be rocks
overgrown with shrubs and moss, but which, on a
closer view, proved to be a large building in ruins.
Removing the accumulated soil we found it still

o

perfect in some of its parts. One of its doors in
particular had its lintel of granite on which rested
a huge mass of fallen stone without displacing it.
Passing inside this door we entered a room perfect
in all its proportions, being about twenty feet
square ; but what excited us still more than the
discovery of the ruins was some beautiful hierogly-
phics carved on one side of the room directly
beneath a human figure cut in relief and curiously
decorated, holding a sceptre in its hand.

"Observing a curious knob in one side of the room,
Don Quavale took hold cf it roughly to see if it
was a part of the wall, when to our astonishment it
clicked heavily, and an unseen door slowly swung



352 THE WANDERERS; OR,

open revealing an inner room of the same size an
the first, but different in appearance. Having been
kept closed and, as near as we could tell, air-light,
it was still in its original appearance. The floor
which was entirely destitute of rubbish, was of
beautifu. white marble, smooth and even as glass,
while the sides were covered with paintings drawn
on the wall of the size of life, the colors still vivid
and beautiful. The characters drawn were men,
birds and fishes, and sometimes a nondescript ani-
inal half eagle and half man a perfect monster
in appearance. Overhead was a representation of
the sun, the rays emanating from the centre in
flashing colors covered the surface and finally died
away in the softest possible tints of rose color.
A more perfect representation of the sun I never
beheld, and as we gazed upon it, it seemed as if we
were contemplating some beautiful creation of an
artist of our own day rather than the remains of
a people of whom we know not even the name."

" What you have seen, exceeds in finish our dis-
coveries," said Howe.

"Yes: we found there stranger things still," con-
tinued the curate. " Ranged around three sides of

^^

the room, at regular intervals, were knobs like the
one on the door by which we entered, and on press-
ing one with considerable force it slowly opened, and
within we discovered a small, low niche in which lay
a corpse as perfect as if just deposited there. It was
that of a young woman with symmetrical form, dim-



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 353

pled cheeks and flowing hair, decorated in rich habi-
liments of gorgeous dyes, her waist encircled by a
zone of diamonds, and her arms with bracelets cf
precious stones. Wonder stricken at what we saw
we gazed in silence upon her, and while we gazed
the body slowly crumbled away and in half an hour
it had dissolved in air leaving but a handful of dust
and the glittering gems that had decked her a bride
of death, to mark the spot where she lay. Turn-
ing another knob another door opened like the pre-
vious ones, and in a niche before us lay a warrior
in the prime of manhood. He was very tall and
muscular, a perfect Hercules in proportions, with a
broad, massive forehead and prominent features.
He was attired in a sort of uniform of curious
workmanship. This apparition vanished quicker
than the other, owing probably, to the room being
better filled with fresh air. We had, without
doubt, lighted on a mausoleum of the lost people;
and wishing to preserve the rest of the niches for
scientific investigation, we did not open any more.
With reverence we left the bodies of the builders
of these ruins to their repose.

"Proceeding onward we came, in two more days,
to a high table lard, on which was a place kno^i
as Gran Quivira. It is now in ruins, but bears the
appearance of once having been a large populous
city, regularly laid out in streets at right angles.
The city is about three miles long, running from

north-east, to north-west, and nearly a mile in
so*



854 THE WANDERERS; OR

breadth. It is built of stone hewn and accurately
fitted together. Some of the houses are still stand-
ing, though the greater part of them are thrown
down. Entering one of these which exhibited signs
of original magnificence amidst the crumbling ruina
around it, we found ourselves in a capacious hall,
the walls of which were covered with paintings of
which a faint tinge of distinct coloring was visible,
but as the figures had been cut in the wall before
being colored thej were easily defined, and were
similar to those we had found in the mausoleum
two days before. This room was so filled with
rubbish, among which were the dried bones and
decayed carcasses of animals, that we were on the
point of quitting the disagreeable vicinity, when
Campbell called our attention to a stairway that
descended to some place below. Descending the
steps with care for the slabs of granite which com-
posed them were loosened and seemed ready to turn
ble down we found ourselves in a room entirely
empty about eighteen feet square, the walls of
which were covered with figures in bas-relief and
colored elaborately, the tints being still vivid and
quite fresh.

" We discovered on examination that we were
on a level with the street, and that time had accu-
mulated a soil to the depth of many feet, hiding
the exterior of what had been, originally, thp first
floor, from view. This room was also strewn with
rubbish, but we saw enough of it to suppose that



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 355

the structure had been an imposing one when in
the possession of its builders. Leaving this struc-
ture, we followed some fallen and shapeless masses
of ruins until we came to a range of hills, where
we found a curious opening in them, which we soon
ascertained to be artificial, with the rock hewn
away so as to give free egress from within. Pro-
viding ourselves with torches, we penetrated this
cavern, and discovered it to be an ancient mine,
with the implements of the miners scattered around,
as if the artisans had been suddenly interrupted in
their labors. There were crowbars quite like our
own, though not of iron, chisels, hammers, and a
kind of axe more wieldy than ours, but not unlike
it. These implements of mining were black, and
all of the same kind of metal, but what metal it
was, we could not determine. We found also here
vessels of pottery, beautiful in shape and highly
colored.*

Returning from the hills, we came to a large
building, which must have been five or six stories
hi^h, of which half of the walls were thrown down.

O '

On clambering over the blocks of granite, we
found, by what remained that it had been a guard-
house, as there were port-holes in the walls which

* Since the above was written, a gentleman who became
acquainted with the above facts from the Curate, visited the
spo 1 and made other discoveries of importance, which ha
communicated to the Maryland Historical Society in an
important iocument, to which the reader is referred. -



356 THE WANDERERS; on,

were four feet in thickness. This building, like
the others we had seen, was made of hewn stone,
smoothly cut and fitted together without any
cement. Indeed they needed none, for the thin-
nest knife-blade could not have been inserted
between them. To the north of this gu&rd-house
we found a reservoir in the form of an ellipse, its
axis one hundred and fifty yards in length, its
breadth at least one hundred, and its depth about
fifty feet, paved at the bottom, and built up at the
sides with hewn stone. At the northern side an
aqueduct entered it, and this we followed a long way,
but not finding where it terminated, and being too
fatigued to pursue it farther, we returned.* The
width of this channel is about twelve feet, and ten
in depth, finished at the bottom and the sides like
the reservoir. Continuing our journey, we fol-
lowed the road which led us a little north of west.
We often saw Indians entirely nude who fled from
us, and as we took the precaution of getting out of
their vicinity as son as our horses could carry us,
we were not molested by them. We saw nothing
further of interest, until we struck the desert
through which the road lay, and, for the first time,
we found it difficult to follow, as the desert was
without vegetation, the dry sand covering the whole

* Within a year past the aqueduct has been traced forty
miles, terminating at the banks of a beautiful stream, which
now empties its waters into the Pecos, the m'mth of the
aqueduct being blocked up.



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 357

extent for miles around, with an arid and even
surface. We should, in all probability, have lost
ourselves in that trackless waste, had there not
been huge shapeless piles of stone at intervals, and
we soon found that on digging down near these,
we came to the paved road, and that on removing
the sand from around one of these piles of stone,
we came upon unmistakable evidences that they
had once formed a building in all probability to
refresh travellers while journeying over this barren
waste.

"Keeping in the track as near as possible, we
came to the Colorado, and crossing over on a raft
we made for the purpose, we saw on the western
side, rising from the plain at a considerable dis-
tance, a curious shaft, and we soon found that the
road ran by it. It must have been six or eight
miles from the Colorado, for we rode two hours
before coming to it, and when we did our astonish-
ment was overwhelming to find a pyramid rising
one hundred and twenty feet from its base. It waa
level at the top, ind about fifty feet square, and
afforded an easy ascent on the opposite side from
which it leaned. This pyramid projected ten de-
grees from the perpendicular. I am inclined to
think it was not built in that position, but has
been thrown out of an erect construction by some
convulsion of nature which, at the same time, dis-
placed and threw down the top. This conclusion
we arrive i at unanimously on examining the struo-



$58 THE WANDERERS; OR,

ture, and a mass of fallen stone that lay ut the
base on the side towards which it leaned. These
were in a pile, shelving from the pyramid, looking
as though but lately fallen from above. If we were
right in our conclusion, the structure must have
been one hundred and fifty feet high. The sand
had accumulated about its base to a great depth, a
fact we ascertained by digging it away a few feet.
To lay bare the shaft to the base was a greater
task than we were able to accomplish, and we left
it to be more thoroughly explored by some future
antiquarian.*

" It is impossible to describe the sensation we
felt in standing before this monument of the past
this proof of a once strong and powerful people,
who erected the structure. We knew that no
European had ever gazed on it before, and we
almost expected to see the builders, indignant at
our intrusion, start up from the desert around, and
drive us from their shrines. Pursuing our journey,
we found the road dotted on either side, at inter-
vals, with evidences of a once civilized people ; but
nearly every vestige of peculiar interest about them
had been destroyed by time, save the bare blocks
of granite, cut into various forms to please the mys-
terious builders, all, all was gone ! and desolation
had made tneir pleasant places her abode."

* Early in the year 1853, a party of California explorers
came across this same pyramid, but as they were not pre
pared to investigate it nothing new was elicited.



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 359

Twelve years have passed since Mr. .Duncan and
his family settled on the California coast of the
Pacific ; and, in conclusion, let us look in once
more upon them and witness their prosperous con-
dition.

In a neat and tastily arranged cottage sits a
woman in the prime of matronly beauty, with love
and happiness beaming from her soft blue eyes, as
they wander in gratified pride from a fine boy some
eight years old, who stands at her side, to a man
who sits reading by a window that overlooks the
beautiful landscape. This is the home of Sidney
and Jane, and they are now enjoying a life of
contentment that cannot fail to encircle their lives
with a halo of bliss which gold can never buy.
They never recrossed the Sierra in search of the
riches that still lie buried in the mountains and
desert, for the mere mention of them, vividly re-
calls the recollection of the terrible sufferings they
endured in their wanderings through the wilds of
the west. The rest of Mr. Duncan's children are
also happily settled near them, while the trapper
is an inhabitant of each cottage and the forest alter-
nately, as inclination dictates, arid is supposed to
be the most contented man in the Pacific valley.

We said that twelve years had elapsed since our
wanderers reached the Pacific Valley that is a
short period of time, yet it is long enough for
events to transpire whose influences shall be felt
for centuries to come ; long enough to develop



860 THE WANDERERS, ETC.

the strength and resources of a continent. Great
is the change which civilization has made in that
portion of the west. The broad and almost inter-
minable forests have yielded to the woodman's
axe ; the streams and rivers, and even old Ocean
itself, have become transformed into channels of
commerce and trade, and bear upon their bosoms
the auxiliaries of progress and science. The moun-
tains and valleys, where once nothing but the wild
shouts of untutored savages and the howls of
beasts of prey broke the stillness of the dismal
solitude, are now vocal with the voice and bustle of
civilization, as in giant strides science and art tri-
umph over the rough barriers, and open avenues
for the advancement of moral reform.

The changes have been equally advantageous to
the prosperity of Mr. Duncan, whose evening of
life is surrounded with ease and wealth, while
peace and the love of his children render these
years the most blissful of an eventful lifetime.
Everywhere throughout the Pacific border of the
Sierra Nevada, the indomitable spirit of enterprise
and the unchecked perseverence of Americanism
are busy at work, and the golden results bid fair,
in a few years to convert that auriferous region
into a grannery of wealth and agricultural pros-
perity.

THE END.






K





r














.






.

.










. I



'






I
.





















-










.

n














^^^m



I











I





1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20

Online LibraryD. W. (David W.) BelisleThe American family Robinson; or, The adventures of a family lost in the great desert of the West → online text (page 20 of 20)