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Chapter I
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Chapter I.

The Visitor

“Thro' the harsh noises of our day,

A low sweet prelude finds its way,

Tho' cloud of Doubt and creed of Fear

A light is breaking calm and clear.”

My caller was a queer little woman. Her figure, however, was erect, her eyes bright and her voice low, soft and firm. She was becomingly dressed, in what might appear to be a Quaker garb, and a look of rare intelligence radiated her countenance.

In a deep, sweet voice, she began:

“I was born in the year of our Lord, 1828, and am, consequently, in my 86th year. I have lived a long time, but when I glance backward, it seems but yesterday that I nestled in my mother's arms. I was born in Virginia in the year Andrew Jackson was elected President and my parents took me to Washington on the day of his inauguration. We traveled in our own vehicle, drawn by two dapple grey horses, and we had several neighbors as companions each having a conveyance of their own.

“Schools were unknown in our neighborhood and my early education was derived from my parents, principally, assisted by a maiden aunt, who spent each summer at our plantation.

“My clothes were cut out, fitted and made by my aunt, and my hats lacked any feather trimmings or other finery. The material of my dresses was generally of a slate color, and but few other shades were affected. All of our neighbors were dressed in the same way, without any affectation of style whatsoever. But enough of this.

“The musical instruments of that day were the melodeon, harp and violin. There were very few of even these, and were confined, the melodeon to the village church, the violin to our darkey's cabins.

“We read by a tallow dip during the winter nights, but there was not much to read, our library consisting of the family Bible, Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress, together with a weekly paper published in Philadelphia, that had originally been started by Benjamin Franklin.

“It was in the year 1850 that my people began talking of going West, and tried to glean all the information they could concerning the country they selected, the best means of getting there and the prospects for disposing of our plantation. It took us three years to finish all of our preparations, and on April 18th, 1853, our caravan started on the trial leading Westward.

“I was 26 years old, and at a time of life when I could thoroughly enjoy the ever varying changes of climate and scenery.

“We found the Indians very friendly, even to kindness, and we bestowed on them many cheap trinkets in return for food and skins, of which they possessed a variety.

“We made many stops on the way as we reached the then frontier settlements, now large and prosperous cities, and it was not until we had crossed the Missouri river, near Omaha, that we began anticipating trouble from the Indians. We experienced the usual hardships and vicissitudes from this cause, nothing unusual in those times, and arrived in the then little city of Portland, March 19th, 1854.

“I startled our little party, on our arrival in Portland, by announcing that the next time I crossed the Continent it would be on the steam cars.

“Long and loudly was I laughed at for my optimism, and it did really seem impossible for a locomotive to be capable of climbing those seemingly inaccessible peaks.

“Had I prophesied all that was in my mind, my friends might have thought that I was deranged. I could have said that I could see people flying through the air in vehicles shaped like birds from the Atlantic to the Pacific and that the almost impenetrable forests of Oregon would one day be laid low by the woodman's axe.

“There were many other things which I could see were bound to come but I thought it wisest to keep the light of my prophecies to myself rather than given them to unheeding ears.

“What I saw in those days, however, will not compare to the marvels which come to me now, at my advanced age.

“I have given a receptive ear to the spirit which tells me what others would pronounce 'queer notions,' but which I declare to be scientifically natural. I will tell you of all these things and you may publish them to the world, and allow them to be a judge of my optimistic views. I will tell you what I see and also of what I know is sure to come, so that all who read may know and understand, and put themselves in readiness for the great events which are bound to ensue by A.D. 1999.”

The old lady then, her eyes beaming with intelligence and the most natural and unassumed manner, voiced the following prophecies:

[proceed to chapter II]