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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914). Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen. 1904.

Page 94

every now and then the soft, melancholy cooing of the mourning dove, whose voice always seems far away and expresses more than any other sound in nature the sadness of gentle, hopeless, never-ending grief. The other birds are still.… Now and then the black shadow of a wheeling vulture falls on the sun-scorched ground; the cattle that have strung down in long files from the hills lie quietly on the sandbars.” Whether in the bright moonlight that “turns the gray buttes into glimmering silver, the higher cliffs standing out in weird grotesqueness while the deep gorges slumber in the black shadows, the echoing hoof-beats of the horses and the steady metallic clank of the steel bridle-chains the only sounds”; or when the gales that blow out of the north have wrapped the earth in a mantle of death; when “in the still, merciless, terrible cold… all the land is like granite; the great rivers stand in their beds as if turned to frosted steel. In the long nights there is no sound to break the lifeless silence. Under the ceaseless, shifting play of the Northern Lights the snow-clad plains stretch out into dead and endless wastes of glimmering white.”