It was only the third I’ve performed in in Texas, and wow, what a crowd! The energy in the room was incredible, and thanks for all those who stayed after the show! Meeting my fans is the most rewarding part of being en entertainer.
From the Pacific to the Atlantic by the Lincoln Highway, with California and the Virginias and Maryland thrown in for good measure! What a tour it has been!
As we think back over its miles we recall the noble pines and the towering Sequoias of the high Sierras of California; the flashing water-falls of the Yosemite, so green as to be called Vernal, so white as to be called Bridal Veil; the orchards of the prune, the cherry, the walnut, the olive, the almond, the fig, the orange, and the lemon, tilled like a garden, watered by the hoarded and guarded streams from the everlasting hills; and the rich valleys of grain, running up to the hillsides and dotted by live oak trees.
We recall miles of vineyard under perfect cultivation. We see again the blue of the Pacific and the green of the forest cedars and cypresses. High Lake Tahoe spreads before us, with its southern fringe of emerald meadows and forest pines, and its encircling guardians, lofty and snow-capped. The high, grey-green deserts of Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming stretch before us once more, and we can smell the clean, pungent sage brush. We are not lonely, for life is all about us. The California quail and blue-jay, the eagle, the ground squirrel, the gopher, the coyote, the antelope, the rattlesnake, the big ring snake, the wild horse of the plains, the jack rabbit, the meadow lark, the killdeer, the red-winged blackbird, the sparrow hawk, the thrush, the redheaded wood-pecker, the grey dove, all have been our friends and companions as we have gone along. We have seen them in their native plains and forests and from the safe vantage point of the front seat of our motor car.
The lofty peaks of the Rockies have towered before us in a long, unbroken chain as we have looked at them from the alfalfa fields of Colorado.
In the time of Spanish rule, and for many years afterwards, the town of Sulaco—the luxuriant beauty of the orange gardens bears witness to its antiquity—had never been commercially anything more important than a coasting port with a fairly large local trade in ox-hides and indigo.
The clumsy deep-sea galleons of the conquerors that, needing a brisk gale to move at all, would lie becalmed, where your modern ship built on clipper lines forges ahead by the mere flapping of her sails, had been barred out of Sulaco by the prevailing calms of its vast gulf. Some harbours of the earth are made difficult of access by the treachery of sunken rocks and the tempests of their shores. Sulaco had found an inviolable sanctuary from the temptations of a trading world in the solemn hush of the deep Golfo Placido as if within an enormous semi-circular and unroofed temple open to the ocean, with its walls of lofty mountains hung with the mourning draperies of cloud.
On one side of this broad curve in the straight seaboard of the Republic of Costaguana, the last spur of the coast range forms an insignificant cape whose name is Punta Mala. From the middle of the gulf the point of the land itself is not visible at all; but the shoulder of a steep hill at the back can be made out faintly like a shadow on the sky.
Ellis Island, in New York harbor, once bore the name of Gibbet Island, because pirates and mutineers were hanged there in chains. During the times when it was devoted to this fell purpose there stood in Communipaw the Wild Goose tavern, where Dutch burghers resorted, to smoke, drink Hollands, and grow fat, wise, and sleepy in each others’ company.
The plague of this inn was Yan Yost Vanderscamp, a nephew of the landlord, who frequently alarmed the patrons of the house by putting powder into their pipes and attaching briers beneath their horses’ tails, and who naturally turned pirate when he became older, taking with him to sea his boon companion, an ill-disposed, ill-favored blackamoor named Pluto, who had been employed about the tavern. When the landlord died, Vanderscamp possessed himself of this property, fitted it up with plunder, and at intervals he had his gang ashore,—such a crew of singing, swearing, drinking, gaming devils as Communipaw had never seen the like of; yet the residents could not summon activity enough to stop the goings-on that made the Wild Goose a disgrace to their village. The British authorities, however, caught three of the swashbucklers and strung them up on Gibbet Island, and things that went on badly in Communipaw after that went on with quiet and secrecy.
The pirate and his henchmen were returning to the tavern one night, after a visit to a rakish-looking vessel in the offing, when a squall broke in such force as to give their skiff a leeway to the place of executions. As they rounded that lonely reef a creaking noise overhead caused Vanderscamp to look up, and he could not repress a shudder as he saw the bodies of his three messmates, their rags fluttering and their chains grinding in the wind.
At last I am arrived in this great capital of the world. If fifteen years ago I could have seen it in good company, with a well-informed guide, I should have thought myself very fortunate. But as it was to be that I should thus see it alone, and with my own eyes, it is well that this joy has fallen to my lot so late in life.
Over the mountains of the Tyrol I have as good as flown. Verona, Vicenza, Padua, and Venice I have carefully looked at; hastily glanced at Ferrara, Cento, Bologna, and scarcely seen Florence at all. My anxiety to reach Rome was so great, and it so grew with me every moment, that to think of stopping anywhere was quite out of the question; even in Florence, I only stayed three hours. Now I am here at my ease, and as it would seem, shall be tranquilized for my whole life; for we may almost say that a new life begins when a man once sees with his own eyes all that before he has but partially heard or read of.