Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/139

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Creek, pulling and pushing their carts and trusting to a compass for guidance. After a few days they were caught in a snowstorm lasting two days. They suffered intensely from the exposure, became bewildered, and wandered at random. Their provisions gave out, and, exhausted from fatigue, hunger, and thirst, one after another dropped down and was left to die alone in the wilderness. When the survivors were reduced to twelve, brutalized by their sufferings, they entered into a horrible compact that they would live on each other, selected by lot. Some of the victims shot themselves, while others were deliberately killed by the remaining cannibals. The rescued man had three brothers in the party, and admitted that he had sustained himself on their bodies. Subsequent investigation by myself and others proved that his story was true. He was brought into Denver ten days later, physically recovered, but his mind was affected. He insisted that his name was Blue, while an inquiry at his home showed it to be Green.

During our last day's drive, the view of the mountains grew more and more imposing, as we gradually ascended the last and highest plateau of the Plains, forming the dividing ridge between the waters of the Kansas and of the South Platte Rivers. At noon we had reached its very crest, and there to the west and north and south one of the grandest sights to be beheld anywhere in the world was spread out before me. Between my standpoint and the great range lay the basin of the South Platte, which was clearly discernible with its half a dozen tributaries from the west and east. The valley seemed from fifty to seventy miles wide, though broken by many intervening ridges. For three hundred miles, the mighty mountains extended to the right and left, flanked on the south by the great cones of Pike's Peak and the Spanish Peaks, and to the north by the buttress-like form of Long's Peak. They seemed to form an immense wall dividing the continent as if by an impassable barrier. From their summits half-way