CHAPTER I FOLLOWING LEWIS AND CLARK
Well, sister,Гўв‚¬Вќ said Uncle Dick, addressing that lady as she sat busy with her needlework at the window of a comfortable hotel in the city of St. Louis, Гўв‚¬Е“IГўв‚¬в„ўm getting restless, now that the war is over. Time to be starting out. Looks like IГўв‚¬в„ўd have to borrow those boys again and hit the trail. Time to be on our way!Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Richard!Гўв‚¬Вќ The lady tapped her foot impatiently, a little frown gathering on her forehead.
Гўв‚¬Е“Well, youГўв‚¬в„ўre always just starting out! YouГўв‚¬в„ўve been hitting the trail all your life. WasnГўв‚¬в„ўt the war enough?Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Oh, well!Гўв‚¬Вќ Uncle Dick smiled humorously as he glanced at his leg, which extended before him rather stiffly as he sat.
Гўв‚¬Е“I should think it was enough!Гўв‚¬Вќ said his sister, laying down her work.
Гўв‚¬Е“But it didnГўв‚¬в„ўt last!Гўв‚¬Вќ said Uncle Dick.
Гўв‚¬Е“How can you speak so!Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Well, it didnГўв‚¬в„ўt. Of course, Rob got in, even if he had to run away and smouch a little about how old he was. But he wasnГўв‚¬в„ўt through his training. And as for the other boys, Frank was solemn as an owl because the desk sergeant laughed at him and told him to go back to the Boy Scouts; and Jesse was almost in tears over it.Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“All our boys!Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Yes! All our boys. The whole countryГўв‚¬в„ўd have been in it if it had gone on. America doesnГўв‚¬в„ўt play any game to lose it.Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Yes, and look at you!Гўв‚¬Вќ
Uncle Dick moved his leg. Гўв‚¬Е“Cheap!Гўв‚¬Вќ said he. Гўв‚¬Е“Cheap! But we donГўв‚¬в„ўt talk of that. What I was talking about, or was going to talk about, was something by way of teaching these boys what a country this America is and always has been; how it never has played any game to lose it, and never is going to.Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Well, Richard, what is it this time?Гўв‚¬Вќ His sister began to fold up her work, sighing, and to smooth it out over her knee. Гўв‚¬Е“WeГўв‚¬в„ўve just got settled down here in our own country, and I was looking for a little rest and peace.Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“You need it, after your Red Cross work, and you shall have it. You shall rest. While you do, IГўв‚¬в„ўll take the boys on the trail, the Peace TrailГўв‚¬вЂќthe greatest trail of progress and peace all the world ever knew.Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Whatever can you mean?Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“And made by two young chaps, officers of our Army, not much more than boys they were, neither over thirty. They found America for us, or a big part of it. I call them the two absolutely splendidest and perfectly bulliest boys in history.Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Oh, I know! You mean Lewis and Clark! YouГўв‚¬в„ўre always talking of them to the boys. Ever since we came to St. LouisГўв‚¬вЂќГўв‚¬вЂќГўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Yes, ever since we came to this old city, where those two boys started out West, before anybody knew what the West was or even where it was. IГўв‚¬в„ўve been talking to our boys about those boys! Rather I should say, those two young gentlemen of our Army, over a hundred years agoГўв‚¬вЂќCaptain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark.Гўв‚¬Вќ
His sister nodded gravely, Гўв‚¬Е“I know.Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“What water has run by here, since 1804, in these two rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri! How the country has grown! How the world has changed! And how we have forgotten!
Гўв‚¬Е“ThatГўв‚¬в„ўs why I want to take them, even now, my dear sister, these young Americans, over that very same old trailГўв‚¬вЂќnot so long and hard and full of danger now. Why? Lest we forget! Lest our young Americans forget! And we all are forgetting. Not right.
Гўв‚¬Е“You see? Because this old town of St. Louis was then only a village, and we just had bought our unknown country of France, and this town was on the eastern edge of it, the gate of itГўв‚¬вЂќthe gate to the West, it used to be, before steam came, while everything went by keel boat; oar or paddle and pole and sail and cordelle. Ah, Sis, those were the days!Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Think of the time it must have taken!Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“Think of the times they must have been!Гўв‚¬Вќ
Гўв‚¬Е“But now one never hears of Lewis and Clark....