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2 > Page 2 of Backwoodsman, or, Life on the Indian frontier / edited by Sir C.F. Lascelles Wraxall, bart.

THE BACKWOODSMAY. side, of some prattling stream. Such oases, though not frequent, are found here and there on the prairies of the Far West, where the dark, lofty magnolias offer the wearied traveller refreshment beneath their thick foliage, and the stream at their base grants a cooling draught. One of these favourite spots of mine lay near the mountains, about ten miles from my abode. It was almost the only water far and wide, and here formed two ponds, whose depths I was never able to sound, although I lowered large stones fastened to upwards of a hundred yards of lasso. The small space between the two ponds was overshadowed by the most splendid magnolias, peca-nut trees, yuccas, evergreen oaks, c., and begirt by a wall of cactuses, aloes, and other prickly plants. I often selected this place for hunting, because it always offered a large quantity of game of every description, and I was certain at any time of finding near this water hundreds of wild turkeys, which constitute a great dainty in the bill of fare of the solitary hunter. After a very hot spring day I had sought the ponds, as it was too late to ride home. The night was glorious; the magnolias and large-flowered cactuses diffused their vanilla perfume over me; myriads of fireflies continually darted over the plain, and a gallant mocking-bird poured forth its dulcet melody into the silent night above my head. The whole of nature seemed to be revelling in the beauty of this night, and thousands of insects sported round my small camp fire. It was such a night as the elves select for their gambols, and for a long time I gazed intently at the dark blue expanse above me. But, though the crystal springs incessantly bubbled up to the surface, the Lurleis would not visit me, for they have not yet strayed to America. My dog and horse also played around me for a long time, until, quite tired, they lay down by the fire, side, and all three of us slept till dawn, when the gobbling of the turkeys aroused us. The morning was as lovely as the night. To the east the flat prairie bordered the horizon like a sea; the 2