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Vanguards of the Plains   By: (1860-1938)

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[Transcriber's note: The spelling irregularities of the original have been preserved in this etext.]

VANGUARDS OF THE PLAINS

[Illustration: I COULD NOT SPEAK THEN, FOR ONE SENTENCE WAS RINGING IN MY EARS "I WAS ALWAYS THINKING OF YOU"]

VANGUARDS OF THE PLAINS

A ROMANCE OF THE OLD SANTA FÉ TRAIL

BY MARGARET HILL McCARTER

AUTHOR OF The Price of the Prairie

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS NEW YORK AND LONDON

[Illustration]

VANGUARDS OF THE PLAINS

1917, Harper & Brothers Printed in the United States of America

DEDICATION

This story of the old Santa Fé Trail would do honor to the memory of those stalwart men who defied the desert, who walked the prairies boldly, and who died bravely vanguards in the building of a firm highway for the commerce of a westward moving Empire.

CONTENTS

FOREWORD

PART I

CLEARING THE TRAIL

I. THE BEGINNINGS OF A PLAINSMAN II. A DAUGHTER OF CANAAN III. THE WIDENING HORIZON IV. THE MAN IN THE DARK V. WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST VI. SPYING OUT THE LAND VII. "SANCTUARY" VIII. THE WILDERNESS CROSSROADS

PART II

BUILDING THE TRAIL

IX. IN THE MOON OF THE PEACH BLOSSOM X. THE HANDS THAT CLING XI. "OUR FRIENDS THE ENEMY" XII. THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE PLAINS XIII. IN THE SHELTER OF SAN MIGUEL XIV. OPENING THE RECORD XV. THE SANCTUARY ROCKS OF SAN CHRISTOBAL XVI. FINISHING TOUCHES XVII. SWEET AND BITTER WATERS

PART III

DEFENDING THE TRAIL

XVIII. WHEN THE SUN WENT DOWN XIX. A MAN'S PART XX. GONE OUT XXI. IN THE SHADOW OF THE INFINITE

PART IV

REMEMBERING THE TRAIL

XXII. THE GOLDEN WEDDING

FOREWORD

Westward, along the level prairies of a kingdom yet to be, my memory runs, with a clear vision of the days when romance died not and strong hearts never failed. The glamour of the plains is before my eyes; the tingle of courage, danger born, is in my pulse beat; the soft hand of love is touching my hand. I live again the drama of life wherein there are no idle actors, no stale, unmeaning lines. And beyond the action, this way up the years, there runs also the forward gazing vision toward a new Hesperides:

Through the veins Of whose vast Empire flows, in strength'ning tides, Trade, the calm health of nations.

And sometimes I would doubt If statesmen, rocked and dandled into power, Could leave such legacies to kings.

I

CLEARING THE TRAIL

VANGUARDS OF THE PLAINS

A ROMANCE OF THE SANTA FÉ TRAIL

I

THE BEGINNINGS OF A PLAINSMAN

There came a time in the law of life When over the nursing sod The shadows broke, and the soul awoke In a strange, dim dream of God. LANGDON SMITH.

It might have been but yesterday that I saw it all: the glinting sunlight on the yellow Missouri boiling endlessly along at the foot of the bluff; the flood washed sands across the river; the tangle of tall, coarse weeds fringing them, edged by the scrubby underbrush. And beyond that the big trees of the Missouri woodland, so level against the eastern horizon that I used to wonder if I might not walk upon their solid looking tops if I could only reach them. I wondered, too, why the trees on our side of the river should vary so in height when those in the eastern distance were so evenly grown. One day I had asked Jondo the reason for this, and had learned that it was because of the level ground on the farther side of the valley. I began then to love the level places of the earth. I love them still. And, always excepting that one titanic rift, where the world stands edgewise, with the sublimity of the Almighty shimmering through its far depths, I love them more than any other thing that nature has yet offered to me.

But to come back to that picture of yesterday: old Fort Leavenworth on the bluff; the little and big ravines that billow the landscape about it; the faint lines of trails winding along the hillsides toward the southwest; the unclouded skies so everlastingly big and intensely blue; and, hanging like a spray of glorious blossoms flung high above me, the swaying folds of the wind caressed flag, now drooping on its tall staff, now swelling full and free, straight from its gripping halyards... Continue reading book >>




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