Senator Sanders walked with "Mark" to the station in Helena this morning, while I accompanied the ladies in a carriage. Whom should we meet walking the platform of the station but Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher, on her way to visit her son Herbert in Port Townsend. It was a delightful surprise. Senator Sanders at once recognized her, as in 1883 he joined our party and drove from Helena (then the end of the eastern section of the Northern Pacific Railroad) to Missoula, the eastern end of the western division. We then drove in a carriage with four horses, via Butte and Deer Lodge, and it took four days to make the journey. Senator Sanders travelled the same distance in five hours with us to-day in a Pullman car.
At Missoula we all drove in a "bus" to the Florence House, the ladies inside and "Mark" and I outside with the driver. Here we saw the first sign of the decadence of the horse: a man riding a bicycle alongside the bus, leading a horse to a nearby blacksmith shop. At "Mark's" suggestion I caught a snapshot of that scene. Officers from Fort Missoula, four miles out, had driven in with ambulances and an invitation from Lieutenant-Colonel Burt, commandant, for our entire party to dine at the fort. The ladies accepted. "Mark" went to bed and I looked after the business.
We had a large audience in a small hall, the patrons being mainly officers of the fort and their families. As most of the ladies who marry army officers come from our best Eastern society, it was a gathering of people who appreciated the occasion. After the lecture, the meeting took the form of a social reception, and it was midnight before it broke up. The day has been one of delight to all of us. As we leave at 2:30 P.M. to-morrow, all have accepted an invitation to witness guard-mounting and lunch early at the fort.
"Thanks, I prefer freedom, if you don't mind. I'll walk. I see you have thorough discipline here," casting an approving eye toward the sergeant who had him under arrest.
The garrison consisted of seven companies of the Twenty-seventh United States Colored Regiment. There was a military band of thirty pieces. Guard mount was delayed for General Ruggles' and our inspection. The band played quite a program, and all declared it one of the finest military bands in America. We witnessed some fine drilling of the soldiers, and learned that for this kind of service the colored soldiers were more subordinate and submissive to rigid drill and discipline than white men, and that there were very few desertions from among them.
Attached to our train from Missoula station were two special cars, bearing an excursion party consisting of the new receiver of the Northern Pacific Railroad and his friends, one of whom we were told was the United States Supreme Court Judge who had appointed this receiver. An invitation was sent in to "Mark" to ride in their car, but as it came for him alone and did not include the ladies, he declined. TWAIN LIBRARY