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Across the Plains, with Other Memories and Essays
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Stevenson, R. L.

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Title: Across the Plains, with Other Memories and Essays

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ISBN: 1230000218044, 9780148305014

Monday.­—It was, if I remember rightly, five o’clock when we were all signalled to be present at the Ferry Depôt of the railroad.  An emigrant ship had arrived at New York on the Saturday night, another on the Sunday morning, our own on Sunday afternoon, a fourth early on Monday; and as there is no emigrant train on Sunday a great part of the passengers from these four ships was concentrated on the train by which I was to travel.  There was a babel of bewildered men, women, and children.  The wretched little booking-­office, and the baggage-­room, which was not much larger, were crowded thick with emigrants, and were heavy and rank with the atmosphere of dripping clothes.  Open carts full of bedding stood by the half-­hour in the rain.  The officials loaded each other with recriminations.  A bearded, mildewed little man, whom I take to have been an emigrant agent, was all over the place, his mouth full of brimstone, blustering and interfering.  It was plain that the whole system, if system there was, had utterly broken down under the strain of so many passengers. My own ticket was given me at once, and an oldish man, who preserved his head in the midst of this turmoil, got my baggage registered, and counselled me to stay quietly where I was till he should give me the word to move.  I had taken along with me a small valise, a knapsack, which I carried on my shoulders, and in the bag of my railway rug the whole ofBancroft’s History of the United States, in six fat volumes.  It was as much as I could carry with convenience even for short distances, but it insured me plenty of clothing, and the valise was at that moment, and often after, useful for a stool.  I am sure I sat for an hour in the baggage-­room, and wretched enough it was; yet, when at last the word was passed to me and I picked up my bundles and got under way, it was only to exchange discomfort for downright misery and danger. I followed the porters into a long shed reaching downhill from West Street to the rive

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