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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.

“The Indians of the Sierra make frequent descents upon the settlements west of the Coast Range, which they keep constantly swept of horses; among them are many who are called Christian Indians, being refugees from Spanish missions.  Several of these incursions occurred while we were at Helvetia.  Occasionally parties of soldiers follow them across the Coast Range, but never enter the Sierra.”

[Illustration:  SIERRA NEVADA, UPPER CALIFORNIA.]

The party had not long before passed through a beautiful country.  The narrative says:—­“During the earlier part of the day our ride had been over a very level prairie, or rather a succession of long stretches of prairie, separated by lines and groves of oak timber, growing along dry gullies, which are tilled with water in seasons of rain; and perhaps, also, by the melting snows.  Over much of this extent the vegetation was spare; the surface showing plainly the action of water, which, in the season of flood, the Joaquin spreads over the valley.  About one o’clock, we came again among innumerable flowers; and, a few miles further, fields of beautiful blue-flowering lupine, which seems to love the neighbourhood of water, indicated that we were approaching a stream.  We here found this beautiful shrub in thickets, some of them being twelve feet in height.  Occasionally, three or four plants were clustered together, forming a grand bouquet, about ninety feet in circumference, and ten feet high; the whole summit covered with spikes of flowers, the perfume of which is very sweet and grateful.  A lover of natural beauty can imagine with what pleasure we rode among these flowering groves, which filled the air with a light and delicate fragrance.  We continued our road for about half a mile, interspersed through an open grove of live oaks, which, in form, were the most symmetrical and beautiful we had yet seen in this country.  The ends of their branches rested on the ground, forming somewhat more than a half sphere of very full and regular figure, with leaves apparently smaller than usual.  The Californian poppy, of a rich orange colour, was numerous to-day.  Elk and several bands of antelope made their appearance.  Our road now was one continued enjoyment; and it was pleasant riding among this assemblage of green pastures, with varied flowers and scattered groves, and, out of the warm, green spring, to look at the rocky and snowy peaks where lately we had suffered so much.”

Again, in the Sierra Nevada:—­“Our journey to-day was in the midst of an advanced spring, whose green and floral beauty offered a delightful contrast to the sandy valley we had just left.  All the day snow was in sight on the butt of the mountain, which frowned down upon us on the right; but we beheld it now with feelings of pleasant security, as we rode along between green trees and on flowers, with humming-birds and other feathered friends of the traveller enlivening the serene spring air.  As we reached the summit

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