1st World Library, 2007
The long June day was drawing to its close. Hot and strong the slanting sunbeams beat upon the grimy roofs of the train and threw distorted shadows over the sand and sage-brush that stretched to the far horizon. Dense and choking, from beneath the whirring wheels the dust-clouds rose in tawny billows that enveloped the rearmost coaches and, mingling with the black smoke of the double-header engines, rolled away in the dreary wake. East and west, north and south, far as the eye could reach, hemmed by low, dun-colored ridges or sharply outlined crests of remote mountain range, in lifeless desolation the landscape lay outspread to the view. Southward, streaked with white fringe of alkali, the flat monotone of sand and ashes blended with the flatter, flawless surface of a wide-spreading, ash-colored inland lake, its shores dotted at intervals with the bleaching bones of cattle and ridged with ancient wagon-tracks unwashed by not so much as a single drop from the cloudless heavens since their first impress on the sinking soil. Here and there along the right of way-a right no human being would care to dispute were the way ten times its width-some drowsing lizards, sprawling in the sunshine along the ties, roused at the sound and tremor of the coming train to squirm off into the sage-brush, but no sign of animation had been seen since the crossing of the big divide near Promontory.
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