The quadroon adventures.., p.1
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       The Quadroon: Adventures in the Far West, p.1

          
The Quadroon: Adventures in the Far West


  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  The Quadroon, by Captain Mayne Reid.

  CHAPTER ONE.

  THE FATHER OF WATERS.

  Father of Waters! I worship thy mighty stream! As the Hindoo by theshores of his sacred river, I kneel upon thy banks, and pour forth mysoul in wild adoration!

  Far different are the springs of our devotion. To him, the waters ofhis yellow Ganges are the symbols of a superstitious awe, commingledwith dark fears for the mystic future; to me, thy golden wares are thesouvenirs of joy, binding the present to the known and happy past. Yes,mighty river! I worship thee in the past. My heart fills with joy atthe very mention of thy name!

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  Father of Waters! I know thee well. In the land of a thousand lakes,on the summit of the "_Hauteur de terre_," I have leaped thy tinystream. Upon the bosom of the blue lakelet, the fountain of thy life, Ihave launched my birchen boat; and yielding to thy current, have floatedsoftly southward. I have passed the meadows where the wild rice ripenson thy banks, where the white birch mirrors its silvery stem, and tall_coniferae_ fling their pyramid shapes, on thy surface. I have seen thered Chippewa cleave thy crystal waters in his bark canoe--the giantmoose lave his flanks in thy cooling flood--and the stately wapiti boundgracefully along thy banks. I have listened to the music of thyshores--the call of the cacawee, the laugh of the wa-wa goose, and thetrumpet-note of the great northern swan. Yes, mighty river! Even inthat far northern land, thy wilderness home, have I worshipped thee!

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  Onward through many parallels of latitude--through many degrees of thethermal line!

  I stand upon thy banks where thou leapest the rocks of Saint Antoine,and with bold frothing current cleavest thy way to the south. Already Inote a change in the aspect of thy shores. The _coniferae_ havedisappeared, and thou art draped with a deciduous foliage of livelierhue. Oaks, elms, and maples, mingle their frondage, and stretch theirbroad arms over thee. Though I still look upon woods that seemillimitable, I feel that the wilderness is past. My eyes are greeted bythe signs of civilisation--its sounds fall upon my ear. The hewncabin--picturesque in its rudeness--stands among prostrate trunks; andthe ring of the lumberer's axe is heard in the far depths of the forest.The silken blades of the maize wave in triumph over fallen trees, itsgolden tassels giving promise of a rich return. The spire of the churchpeers above the green spray of the woods, and the prayer of theChristian ascends to heaven sublimely mingling with the roar of thywaters!

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  I launch my boat once more on thy buoyant wave; and, with heart asbuoyant, glide onward and southward. I pass between bold bluffs thathem thy surging waves, and trace with pleasant wonder their singular andvaried outlines--now soaring abruptly upward, now carried in gentleundulations along the blue horizon. I behold the towering form of thatnoted landmark "_La montaigne qui trempe a l'eau_," and the swellingcone on whose summit the soldier-traveller pitched his tent. I glideover the mirrored bosom of Pepin's lake, regarding with admiration itsturreted shores. I gaze with deeper interest upon that precipitousescarpment, the "Lover's Leap," whose rocky wall has oft echoed back thejoyous chaunt of the light-hearted voyageur, and once a sadder strain--the death-song of Wanona--beautiful Wanona, who sacrificed life to love!

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  Onward I glide, where the boundless prairies of the West impinge uponthy stream; and my eye wanders with delight over their fadeless green.

  I linger a moment to gaze upon the painted warrior spurring his wildsteed along thy banks--to gaze upon the Dacotah girls bathing theirlithe limbs in thy crystal wave--then on again past the "CorniceRocks"--the metalliferous shores of Galena and Dubuque--the aerial tombof the adventurous miner.

  I reach the point where the turbid Missouri rushes rudely upon thee, asthough he would force thee from thy onward course. Poised in my lightcanoe, I watch the struggle. Fierce but short it is, for thoutriumphest, and thy conquered rival is compelled to pay his goldentribute to thy flood that rolls majestically onward!

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  Upon thy victorious wave I am borne still southward. I behold hugegreen mounds--the sole monuments of an ancient people--who once trod thyshores. Near at hand I look upon the dwellings of a far different race.I behold tall spires soaring to the sky; domes, and cupolas glitteringin the sun; palaces standing upon thy banks, and palaces floating uponthy wave. I behold a great city--a metropolis!

  I linger not here. I long for the sunny South; and trusting myself oncemore to thy current I glide onward.

  I pass the sea-like estuary of the Ohio, and the embouchure of anotherof thy mightiest tributaries, the famed river of the plains. Howchanged the aspect of thy shores! I no longer look upon bold bluffs andbeetling cliffs. Thou hast broken from the hills that enchained thee,and now rollest far and free, cleaving a wide way through thine ownalluvion. Thy very banks are the creation of thine own fancy--the slimethou hast flung from thee in thy moments of wanton play--and thou canstbreak through their barriers at will. Forests again fringe thee--forests of giant trees--the spreading _platanus_, the tall tulip-tree,and the yellow-green cotton-wood rising in terraced groves from themargin of thy waters. Forests stand upon thy banks, and the wreck offorests is borne upon thy bubbling bosom!

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  I pass thy last great affluent, whose crimson flood just tinges the hueof thy waters. Down thy delta I glide, amid scenes rendered classic bythe sufferings of De Soto--by the adventurous daring of Iberville and LaSalle.

  And here my soul reaches the acme of its admiration. Dead to beautymust be heart and eye that could behold thee here, in this thy southernland, without a thrill of sublimest emotion!

  I gaze upon lovely landscapes ever changing, like scenes of enchantment,or the pictures of a panorama. They are the loveliest upon earth--forwhere are views to compare with thine? Not upon the Rhine, with itscastled rocks--not upon the shores of that ancient inland sea--not amongthe Isles of the Ind. No. In no part of the world are scenes likethese; nowhere is soft beauty blended so harmoniously with wildpicturesqueness.

  And yet not a mountain meets the eye--not even a hill--but the dark_cyprieres_, draped with the silvery _tillandsia_, form a background tothe picture with all the grandeur of the pyrogenous granite!

  The forest no longer fringes thee here. It has long since fallen beforethe planter's axe; and the golden sugar-cane, the silvery rice, and thesnowy cotton-plant, flourish in its stead. Forest enough has been leftto adorn the picture. I behold vegetable forms of tropic aspect, withbroad shining foliage--the _Sabal_ palm, the anona, the water-lovingtupelo, the catalpa with its large trumpet flowers, the melting_liquidambar_, and the wax-leaved mangolia. Blending their foliage withthese fair _indigenes_ are an hundred lovely exotics--the orange, lemon,and fig; the Indian-lilac and tamarind; olives, myrtles, and bromelias;while the Babylonian willow contrasts its drooping fronds with the erectreeds of the giant cane, or the lance-like blades of the _yuccagloriosa_.

  Embowered amidst these beautiful forms I behold villas and mansions; ofgrand and varied aspect--varied as the races of men who dwell beneaththeir roofs. And varied are they; for the nations of the world dwelltogether upon thy banks--each having sent its tribute to adorn thee withthe emblems of a glorious and universal civilisation. Father of Waters,farewell!

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  Though not born in this fair southern land, I have long lingered there;and I love it _even better than the land of my birth_. I have therespent the hours of bright youth, of adventurous manhood; and theretrospect of these hours is fraught with a thousand memories tingedwith a romance that can never die. There my young heart yielded to theinfluence of Love--a first and virgin love. No wonder the spot shouldbe to me the most hallowed on earth!

  Reader! listen to the story of that love!

 
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