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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOX
TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

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STRANGE SPECIMENS OF HUMANITY.

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with high hopes, having been so fortunate as to fall in with some one who had directed them to this particular spot. They were generally well supplied with provisions, and notwithstanding the drenching rain, one hour after their advent would find them busily engaged with the pan and pick-axe.

The store I occupied was made by driving stakes into the ground, and inclosing with common unbleached muslin; the roof flat, covered with the same material. It had answered a good purpose during the summer, but for the rainy season, I am not prepared to say it was exactly the thing. I do not know that the rain fell faster inside than out, but some of my neighbors insinuated that it did. I could keep tolerably dry by wearing an India rubber cap, poncho, and long boots, with the aid of a good umbrella, in short, this was my regular business suit. For a bed, I had a scaffold made of poles, on which I had a hammock stuffed with grass and straw, using a pair of blankets as covering. In order to keep my bed dry I had a standard at the head and foot, on which was a pole running "fore and aft," serving as a ridge-pole, over which was thrown an India rubber blanket. On going to bed I would throw up one corner of my India rubber blanket, holding my umbrella over the opening, and after taking off my boots, I would crawl in feet first, throw back the rubber to its place, then tying my umbella to the head standard I was in bed. My friends, Fairchild, Tracy, Jones, and Dean were not so fortunate. They would lay down on the ground in their blankets, and in one hour would be drenched to the skin; in this condition they were obliged to spend the balance of the night. Jones (formerly of the Cornucopia, New York) had a severe cough, his lungs being much affected, and he thought he was fast declining with the consumption. After becoming drenched and chilled his cough would set in, which, together with his distressing groans, would render night hideous, and cast a gloom over the most buoyant spirit. On rising in the morning, the bottle was our first consolation; it would elevate our spirits, and drive the chilly sensation from our limbs. A few large sticks had been thrown together and set on fire, around which would be seen a dozen strange-looking specimens of humanity, one with a red flannel shirt, part of a glazed cap, and torn unmentionables; another with a woolen-blanket, that could boast of having secured, on the previous night, what rain had fallen in its immediate vicinity; another with an India rubber poncho and a hat that had been used both sides out, and, as if to assume a ferocious appearance, it had adopted the color of the grizzly bear. All hovering around the fire, some with pieces of pork on the ends of sticks, others with something in a frying pan, covered with a tin plate; one is stirring flour and water together, while his companion is trying to turn the cakes; about every other one is disposed to go into the fire.

A disease at this time manifested itself, the symptoms of which were of a peculiar nature. It was called the “land scurvy," and was caused by a want of proper vegetable diet. The blood of the system became thick and turgid, and diminished in quan- • tity; there was but little circulation at the extremities, or near the surface of the body, the fleshy parts becoming almost lifeless; the gums became black and not unfrequently the teeth would fall out, the gums having so entirely wasted away. The malady became fearfully prevalent, and no remedy could be obtained; vegetables were not to had, there were none in the country. There had been a few, a very few, potatoes in the market, at prices varying from four shillings each to a dollar and a half per pound, but the supply was too scanty to arrest the disease, and many had become almost entirely disabled.

On the 28th of October, a man from Illinois fell a victim to this dreadful malady, and on the 29th, it was our painful duty to bear him to that lonely hill and consign him to the tomb. A board was placed at his head, on which was cut his brief epitaph. What a strange commentary upon the vicissitudes of human life. He was once an infant, fondled and caressed by an affectionate mother, a youth counseled by a doting father, and em. braced and loved by sisters and brothers. He grew to manhood, pledged his hand and heart to the one he loved, combatted, perhaps, with adversity, and finally bade farewell to his own off. spring, to die a stranger in a strange land.

Chapter Twenty-first.

DANGEROUS NAVIGATION-A TRIP OVER THE FALLS-A NIGHT FROY HOME-SAILOR

HOSPITALITY-SCARCITY OF PROVISIONS-A HAZARDOUS ALTERNATIVE-AWAYWARD BOY-PREPARTIONS FOR LEAVING THE INTERIOR-DISTRIBUTION OF EFFECTS-OUR TRAVELING SUIT-START FOR SAN FRANCISCO-FAREWELL-THREE INDIVIDUALS UNDER A FULL HEAD OF STEAM-ARRIVAL AT THE HALF-WAY TENT"-POOR ACCOMMODATIONS-A MORNING WALK AND POOR BREAKFAST-WADING LAGOONS-WILD GEESE-ARRIVAL AT THE AMERICAN RIVER-OUR TOILET, AND ENTRY INTO SACRAMENTO CITY.

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The river had become much swollen, and burst through among the rocks with the greatest fury. The rumbling of the rocks and stone as they were hurled from their beds, was incessant and almost deafening. Many of my friends lived on the opposite side of the river, and I had purchased a boat for their accommodation. The only place where a boat could be rowed across with safety, was above a fall occasioned, in part, by a dam. The water here was extremely rapid, but by heading well up stream, could be crossed in safety. Tracy generally volunteered to do the ferrying, but when I was disengaged I would do it myself.

On one occasion, a party of six wished to cross, and I went down with them, paddled out into the stream, and as the boat came in contact with the strongest current, it swung around, when one of the passengers becoming frightened, applied a paddle on the upper side which aimed the boat for the fall, leaving no alternative but to go over. The fall was several feet, and below it huge masses of rock; the roaring of the water was terrific, almost deafening, and it was night. We were swept along with the velocity of an arrow, and as we came to the brink I discovered the limbs of a tree, which had floated down and caught. Being in the stern of the boat, I rose up and as it was about to break over, jumped and caught to the limb, my companions going over with the boat. My situation was

It was

the most perilous imaginable. I was in the middle of the stream on the very brink of the precipice, the water up to my shoulders, and the stones tumbling from beneath my feet; my only support being the limb, to which I clung as if for life. It required almost superhuman effort to keep from being swept from my hold by the strength of the current. After feeling a little more secure, I felt below the surface and found another limb to which I clung, taking one step in the direction of the shore; after groping about, I found another and the last. I had now almost gained the upper side of a rock which rested on the brink just below the surface of the water. It was a crisis; it was ex. tremely doubtful whether I could throw myself with sufficient force to catch the upper side of the rock. If I missed, the chances of life were against me, as I had no doubt some, if not all of my companions had already found a watery grave. no time for deliberation, and straining every nerve, I made one desperate struggle and gained the rock. I still had fifteen feet of the strength of the current to overcome, but by dexterous movements I succeeded in reaching the shore.

I immediately went in search of my friends; fortunately, we had two sailors with us, Billy and Charley, before spoken of. The boat ended over in passing down. Charley and Billy found their way to the shore, but Mr. Byram was dashed along among the rocks, apparently lifeless. They rushed in again and succeeded in dragging his body to the shore; we then hurried on to learn the fate of the others. On reaching the bend of the river we found the boat drifted against the rock, they cling. ing to its sides; they threw the hawser, and we drew the boat to the shore. Mr. Byram recovered, and we congratulated ourselves upon the auspicious termination of the adventure. They had been purchasing a quantity of provisions—flour, sugar, coffee, &c., all of which were “turned over" to tempt the appetite of the fishes.

Their encampment was a mile above, and as it was impossible to recross the river here, I went with them, in hopes of being able to ferry over in a small boat they owned, but on arriving, found it had been carried away by the freshet. The evening was chilly; I was drenched; I had left things in an unsafe condition at the store, and as my friends imagined me drowned, I de

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