My story does not begin in the West; my story begins when I first returned from it and knew there must have been a better way.


My story, more precisely, begins with these words:


Sincerely hoping that the following pages may prove useful to all those, who contemplate emigrating to Oregon or California, and interesting at least, if not useful to the general reader, they are now submitted to the public; with the assurance that, if they shall be found either useful to the former, or interesting to the latter, the author will, in a great measure, be compensated for all the labor and expense, which he has incurred, in their preparation for the press; and thus, his most sanguine expectations will be fully realized.




[He pauses dramatically]


So, my guide began!


[In a more jocular tone]


Well, a great author isn’t meant to molder on the shelf, now is he?


I certainly make no claims to being the next Sir Walter Scott, but I do stand by the distinction I make between the general reader and the public: the latter cuts a far wider swath — and I wanted to help them do so all the way to the Bay Of Saint Francis, where, having completed my volume and packed my bags, I was once again waiting.


Again, Dear Reader, speed was of the utmost concern! Good time cannot be found: it must be made! Imagine, a formula, simple as a recipe, with which one might create it! Ladies and gentleman, the Good Man Lansford Warren Hastings, Esquire, has published — at his own, not insignificant expense — a guide to finding not merely California! Not merely its minerals, its waters, its rivers of gold! No, no, no, he thought to throw in Oregon! Oh, and what's that, you ask? Time! Mr. Hastings cordially demonstrates how to make good time!


How? How, you may ask? Well, since time is short, Dear Reader — I’ve seen it, I’ve made it, and I know it well enough to know that when it is at all worth having, it damn well better be short — I will tell you how and not wait for you to buy my book, even though it is still in print these many years on! Dear Reader, I forgo my royalty for the sake of narrative and for the sake of making that good time where others did not.