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A Hero and Some Other Folks by William A. Quayle

Pampas is the Peruvian word for field


in championing the cause of

State freedom. Him and his history, reading like a tale told by a campfire's fitful light, this name embodies. What an archive of history does such a name become! Portage is a name pregnant with memories of the old days of discovery, when America was still an unknown limit. "Grand Portage" you shall see on the map, neighboring the Great Lakes, whereby you see, as through a magic glass, the boats, loaded on the shoulders when navigation was no longer possible, and the journey made over the watershed till a stream was followed far enough to float the birch-bark canoe once more. Prairie is another word full of interest. Pampas is a word, Peruvian in origin, designating the prairies of South America; while prairie is a French word, meaning meadow. Pampas is the Peruvian word for field. The words are synonyms, but come from different hemispheres of the world. Does it not seem strange that a word descriptive of these treeless wildernesses of North America should be a gift, not of the Indian hunter who used to scurry across them swift as an arrow of death, but should really be the gift of those hardy and valorous French voyagers who had no purpose of fastening a name on the flower-sown, green meadows that swayed in the wind like some emerald sea? So the Incas have christened the plains of South America, and the French adventurer the plains of North America! Though, who that crosses our prairies, sweet with green, and lit with flowers like lamps of many-colored fires, thinks
he is speaking the speech of the French trapper of long ago? Savannah is an Indian word, meaning meadow, and gives name to these dank meadowlands under warmer skies, where reeds and swamp-grasses grow; and the name of Savannah in Georgia is thus bestowed. How much we owe! Who has not helped us? Nor does the traveler through the castellated steeps of the "Bad Lands" know, nor probably does he care, that this caption came from the far-traveling French trapper, whose venturesome and tireless feet have made him at home in all places on our continent. How valuable, however, must be these names to one who cares to familiarize himself with the knowledge and romance of those pioneers of geography! Of like origin is "butte." The voyager saw those isolated peaks, too high to be called hills and too low to be called mountains, and said they are buttes (knolls)--names which cling to them as tenaciously as their shadows.

In a word, I have found this study a breath blown from far mountain ranges of history; and this breath upon the face has made an hour of life grow young and beautiful, for which reason I now write the story of my pleasure. The North American continent lends itself with peculiar grace to such a study as is here suggested, because its story lies under the eyes of history. 'Twas scarcely an hour ago, in the world's day, since Columbus found out this continent, and, with a giant's hand, swung its huge doors inward for the centuries to enter; and all those discoveries are our commonplace knowledge. What tribes were here, Prescott and Parkman have told us in thrilling narratives; and columns of eager colonists we have seen press their way along the seashore, into forests, over mountains, across deserts, never halting, save to catch breath as


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