California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about California.
his “riatta” over their heads, he had them as much under his command as ever a crack dragsman had his four-in-hand in the good old coaching times of my own dear England.  We followed after, riding, when the road would admit of it, all abreast, and presenting a bold front to any gang of desperadoes who might be daring enough to attack us.  There was little fear of this, however, for we hardly rode a mile without falling in with scattered parties bound to the gold mines.

We made our way but slowly during the first portion of our ride, for the road wound up steep hills and down into deep hollows, but when at last we came upon a winding valley some miles in extent, our horses got over the ground in a style which only Californian steeds could achieve after the hard work which had already been performed.  Towards evening, we crossed the hills which divided the valley from Sonoma plain, and on reaching Sonoma put up at an hotel recently opened here by a citizen from the United States, who coolly told us, in the course of conversation, that he guessed he didn’t intend shearing off to the gold mines, until he had drawn a few thousand dollars from the San Francisco folk who pass through here to and from the diggings.

May 27th.—­We stopped at Sonoma the greater part of Thursday, to give our horses rest.  At the hotel, I met Lieutenant Sherman, who had brought dispatches to the officer in command here from Colonel Mason.  I was much delighted in again meeting with this gentleman, and we had a long talk together over the merry times we had when we were both slaying at Washington.  When he heard our destination he kindly offered to give me a letter of introduction to a very old friend of his, Captain Sutter, the proprietor of Sutter’s fort, and one of the earliest settlers on the Sacramento.  I availed myself of his offer, and about three o’clock we started off across the plain, and made our way through the groves of fine oak trees which cover it in every direction.  We next ascended the hills which lay between us and Napper Valley, and, after crossing them, made for the house of an American settler, a friend of Bradley’s, who provided us with the best accommodation his house would furnish for the night.  We turned in early, but the legions of fleas which were our bedfellows exerted themselves to such a degree that for hours sleep was out of the question.  The country is terribly plagued with these vermin.  I do not know how the settlers get on; perhaps they are accustomed to the infliction, but a stranger feels it severely.

The next day we travelled over the corresponding range of hills to those crossed on Thursday, and were soon in the midst of a much wilder-looking country—­a rapid succession of steep and rugged mountains, thickly timbered with tall pine-trees and split up with deep precipitous ravines, hemming in beautiful and fertile valleys, brilliant with golden flowers and dotted over with noble oaks.  While we were riding down one of these dangerous chasms, Bradley, who was showing off his superior equitation, was thrown from his horse, and fell rather severely on his arm.  On examining it, I was surprised to find he had escaped a fracture.  As it is, he has injured it sufficiently to prevent him from using the limb for several days.  I bandaged it up, put it in a sling, and he proceeded in a more cautious manner.

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California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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