A Selection from Death Valley Crossing


One day going up a wide ravine I saw a smoke
curl up before me and took a side ravine and went
cautiously bowed down so no one could see,
& near the top of the ridge a hundred yards from the fire
ventured to rise slowly up, and as I looked across
saw an Indian woman looking back but I was so low
she could only see the top of my head as I sank down,
I crawled further and when I straightened up again
she got a full view of me. She instantly caught
her infant off its pallet made of a piece of thin wood
covered with a rabbit skin, and putting the baby
under one arm and giving a smart jerk to
a small girl who was crying to the top of her voice
she bounded off and fairly flew up the gentle slope
toward the summit, the girl following after very close.
The woman's long black hair stood out as she rushed along
looking over her shoulder every instant expecting to be slain.
The mother flying with her children untrammeled
with any of the arts of fashion was the best natural picture
I ever looked upon, and wild in the extreme.

        --- William Lewis Manly (1820-1903)