Nebraska Is Studded With Islands Covered With That Species Of
Poplar Called The Cotton-Wood Tree.
Keeping up along the course
of this river for several days, they were obliged, from the
scarcity of game, to put themselves upon short allowance, and,
occasionally, to kill a steer.
They bore their daily labors and
privations, however, with great good humor, taking their tone, in
all probability, from the buoyant spirit of their leader. "If the
weather was inclement," said the captain, "we watched the clouds,
and hoped for a sight of the blue sky and the merry sun. If food
was scanty, we regaled ourselves with the hope of soon falling in
with herds of buffalo, and having nothing to do but slay and
eat." We doubt whether the genial captain is not describing the
cheeriness of his own breast, which gave a cheery aspect to
everything around him.
There certainly were evidences, however, that the country was not
always equally destitute of game. At one place, they observed a
field decorated with buffalo skulls, arranged in circles, curves,
and other mathematical figures, as if for some mystic rite or
ceremony. They were almost innumerable, and seemed to have been a
vast hecatomb offered up in thanksgiving to the Great Spirit for
some signal success in the chase.
On the 11th of June, they came to the fork of the Nebraska, where
it divides itself into two equal and beautiful streams. One of
these branches rises in the west-southwest, near the headwaters
of the Arkansas.
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