Freighter’s Camp

“A level valley, miles in width; a broad river, full of wooded islands, and shallows, and rippling currents ; in the far distance low ranges of interminable hills; a circle of white covered wagons, with the embers of campfires dimly glowing in their midst. This is the scene, but the central object, our camp, only is visible, for the light of morning has not yet come.

It is the dawn of a warm summer’s day. Between the hard bed, the heat and musquitoes, a restless night has been passed, tired and needful of repose as you have been ; but as daylight approaches, a deep sleep comes over you. Suddenly you hear a thumping on the side of the sheeted wagon, accompanied with cries of ‘Roll out ! Roll out !’ and words unmentionable added thereto. This is the reveille of the plains, and the performer is the assistant wagon-master of the train; the musical instruments are his lungs and a detached ox-bow. The sounds travel around the circle of wagons until not a driver is slighted. Drowsily you roll on your bed of hard bags of flour and try to think you imagine the sounds and can sleep longer, but no, they are reality.”