The recital of Custer’s deeds nerved Alfonso to renewed efforts to win Christine’s hand. He declined with thanks to join the captain’s excursion party, and early next day rode south into the upper basin of the Park, which contains over 400 springs and geysers; many of the springs in their peculiar shapes, translucent waters, and variety and richness of color, are of exquisite beauty. Alfonso visited emerald and sapphire springs, where it is said nymphs, elfs, and fairies came to bathe, and don their dainty dress of flowers and jewelled dew drops.
Many bronzed tourists had assembled, and their faces showed amazement as they watched giant geysers in action. Suddenly the solid earth is tremulous with rumbling vibrations, like those that herald earthquakes. Frightful gurgling sounds are audible in the geyser’s throat. Sputtering steam is visible above the cone, the water below boils like a cauldron, and scalding hot, the eruption becomes terribly violent, belching forth clouds of smoke-like steam, and hurling rocks into the air as though a mortar of some feudal stronghold had been discharged. The stupendous column of hot water is veiled in spray as it mounts towards heaven. Boiling water is flowing in brooks to the Firehole River, which is soon swollen to a foaming torrent washing away the bridges below. The valley is filled with dense vapors, and the air is laden with sulphurous fumes, while the hoarse rumblings and subterranean tremors chill the heart. Beneath your feet are positive evidences of eternal fires, and all about you the might of God. Alfonso was glad to leave this region of the supernatural.
He hastened across the Snake River, which winds through Idaho, and pushed on towards the Teton Range, one of many that form the Rocky Mts. In sight are snow-touched sentinel peaks kissed by earliest and latest sun. The Rocky Mts. or Great Continental Divide is a continuation of the famous Andes of South America, and jointly they form the longest and most uniform chain of mountains on the globe. Amid the gorges of this system of mountains, over 3000 miles in length, America’s largest rivers have their birth, and find their outlet into the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific Oceans.
These mountains are vast vaults that will hold in trust for centuries to come untold supplies of precious metal for the American nations. This general fact did not concern Alfonso. He was ambitious to unlock for his own use only a single box of the huge vault. He was familiar with the wonderful story of Mackay, Fair, Flood, and O’Brien, Kings of the Comstock Lode, and owners of the Big Bonanza, who paid their 600 miners five dollars per day in gold, for eight hours’ labor a third of a mile below the earth’s surface. The Comstock Lode yielded over $5,000,000 per month, or a total output of silver and gold of over $250,000,000.