Puslapio vaizdai

The reason that I give all my estate to Charmian K. London, with exceptions noted, is as follows: Charmian K. London, by her personal fortune, and, far more, by her personal aid to me in my literary work, and still vastly far more, by the love, and comfort, and joy, and happiness she has given me, is the only person in this world who has any claim or merit earned upon my estate. This merit and claim she has absolutely earned, and I hereby earnestly, sincerely, and gratefully accord it.

After he had gone to his room, I thought to cool my distressed head by a stroll in the blue starlight. The burden of my thought was that matters could not go on in this way, that I must make an effort to shake Jack into recognizing that he would have to change his physical habits.

When, at ten minutes past eight the next morning, my eyes opened upon Eliza standing by my bed, with Sekiné, our Japanese boy, in the background, I said, "Yes, what is it?" knowing well that only the gravest urgency brought them there. And just as quietly Eliza replied: "Sekiné could not wake Jack, so came right to me. I think you'd better come in and see what you can do."

The stertorous respiration could be heard before we entered the sleeping-porch. Jack, unconscious, was doubled down sidewise, showing plain symptoms of poisoning.

By means of strong coffee we had succeeded in producing some reaction before the doctors arrived and the real battle for Jack's life began, but not at any time did we succeed in coaxing the limp form to any effort. It was only by holding him up, one on a side, that Jack could be kept in a sitting posture on the edge of the bed;

and when ranch men, waiting all day at call, had him on his feet, equilibrium of the heavy and nerveless figure was maintained only by sheer strength of his supporters. Body and will could not coöperate, and but several times, in the middle of the day, was there a flicker of intelligence. Every legitimate kind of shock was resorted to. Physically, he was for the most part beyond effort, but halfconscious response was obtained when we shouted alarming tidings across the abysm of coma:

"Man, man, wake up! The dam has burst! Wake, man! wake!" This caused a shudder in the congested, discolored countenance; the head jerked, the fixed and awful eyes made a superhuman effort to focus. There was a glimmer of consciousness, evanescent as the dying light along the wires in an electric bulb that has been snapped off. The awareness faded, faded, but, oh, the pang of happiness even this brief acknowledgement lent to us who stood by, together or by turn, in the struggle of those midday hours!

When I finally realized the futility of all our efforts, I felt that I must at least establish one last mental contact to serve me all the deprived years that would follow.

"Let me try something," I said, and they set him upright upon the edge of the bed, his helpless feet upon the fur rug.

Face to face, seizing him firmly by the shoulders, I shook him, not roughly, but decisively, and repeated: "Mate! Mate! You must come back! Mate! Get me! You 've got to come back! To me! Mate! Mate!"

He came back. Of course he came back. Slowly, as something rising from

the unfathomable well of eternity, full knowledge came into those eyes that drew to mine in a conscious regard, and the mouth smiled, a fleeting, tortured smile. It seemed as if my unbodied soul went out to meet his in that instant. Instant it was, ineffable, brief; but it contained as great, as glorious a meeting of two as ever took place upon this planet. Yet it was not enough. Again I sent out the call to him upon the brink, and again the smile greeted me. Was it of hail and farewell to life as he had known it? Perhaps there was, too, upon the lips that strove to speak, the twist of contempt for the dissolution that was upon him. What would we not give to know those words he could not frame!

What I love to believe, when all else is said, is that he, who gave life and death an equal supremacy in his affection, was redeeming a promise made so long ago that it is woven into the fabric of all memories of him.

"Death is sweet. Death is rest. Think of it-to rest forever! I promise you that whensoever and wheresoever Death comes to meet me, I shall greet Death with a smile."

The sun went down upon our endeavor. They had brought him across into my glass porch, scene of so much quiet happiness, and there he died upon the couch where, a scant twentyfour hours earlier, he had cried to me: "You must understand! You 're all I've got!"

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passed, a few, an eternity of them, it seemed. Longer were the intervals between those breaths so plainly heard, a very great interval, another, and then silence absolute, the sheerest vacuum of sound I had ever known. No one moved until Sekiné, his face an Oriental mask of ivory, stepped in and bent his head to me.

I, who had never before lost any one essentially close; I, who had been protected from all outward semblances of death, half an hour later went out with my own dead and sat by the sheeted form until, with every atom of understanding I possessed, I had reckoned for all time with the hitherto unthinkable thing, with that ultimate silence that lay upon the lips of my man. Let me review that day a thousand, thousand times; there is

nothing new to face.

nothing new to face. The worst had befallen; the future was plain, a horizonless expanse of ready work in which one must in good time build out of the wreck a renewed, if different, joy of living and serving. It was good. It has worked. It has continued to work, test incontrovertible. I proclaim to those who mourn overmuch the worth and solace of my remedy.

$ 4

When, later in the evening, we crept, his true sister and I, into Jack's old sleeping-place, all was restored to order by Sekiné. The broad bed was laid and turned, the pillows piled ready for the reader, the little table set to rights, even to cigarettes, freshly sharpened pencils, and thermos-bottles of water and milk. It was incredible that the one-time tenant should be lying cold and insensible across the house. We looked at each other dumbly, and I sought the Japanese lad.

"We always do it in our country for those who have died," he said unsteadily. "And I thought-" His explanation trailed into silence as he turned away. As long as he remained with the household, the bed was always in order, and we kept a single flower there and on the work-table.

Once, twice, in his later years, Jack, in chance reference to the possibility of his dying first, departed from his familiar, careless injunction of "Oh, if I should go, scatter my ashes to the winds, or, if you like, upon the bay or ocean." Eliza and I both recalled the time when, speaking of his love and hopes for the ranch, he remarked:

"If I should beat you to it, I would n't mind if you laid my ashes on the knoll where the Greenlaw children are buried. And roll over me a red boulder from the ruins of the Big House. I would n't want many to come. You might ask George."

But before his chosen ceremonial there were thrust in occasions which, left to his own choice, he would not have stipulated. Clothed in his favorite gray, as in gray I had first seen him sixteen years before, for a day he lay in his work-room, in a gray casket that was like nothing so much as a cradle. Passing by, I was touched by the smallness of it. I had thought Jack a larger man.

The neighbors came and went, in tearful awe of the unexpected demise of the lovable friend they yet had never understood. Little as he would have approved of exhibiting the discarded shell of him, it would have been needless affront to the tribute these people were accustomed to pay to the dead. And they had loved him more than they thought. As one of them said:

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On Friday, at dawn, I was awakened from fitful sleep by the rumble of the death-wagon coming up the hill. When, delaying, I slipped in to the abandoned work-room, the detached window-screen told of the manner in which Jack London had gone from his house.

Sekiné came to where I sat, thinking, adjusting, and held out a handful of keys, the dingy Klondike coin-sack of chamois, and a few stray notes, all taken from the ranch suit Jack had last worn. Sekiné murmured something about having put some notes in the breast-pocket of the burial clothes, together with a pencil and pad—“Just as he always had them, Missis," he whispered.

"But, Sekiné, the notes-what notes?" I asked, biting back the trembling of my lips at thought of the pitiful last service the boy had rendered, but fearful lest some latest words of Jack's had gone beyond recall.

"Something I wrote, and sent with him. No one will know," Sekiné explained. "I wrote,"-raising his head,-" "Your speech was silver, your silence now is golden.' That was all. It was my good-by."

Jack himself would not have believed the warmth there was toward him in the skeptical old earth.

It was almost as if his actual death purged the mankind who knew him and his work, of jealousy, hate, and carping criticism; put a seal upon the lips of the meanest. Even his bitterest

detractors tried to be fair and charitable. If I needed corroboration of my own belief in this man of mine, I could recall the mourning of his world. It must have arisen from his usefulness, his big contribution of heart's blood to humanity. Praise of him Praise of him comes from all quarters and in many tongues, from every class of society, literally from rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, and the rest-aye, thief and worse! Out of prisons has come to me a wail at his passing; for the immaterial sweetness of Jack and his code, squareness, his long-suffering charity, that patriarchal kindness, had passed in and still live behind the bars.

One thing I do clearly recollect of those two days before Jack's ashes were placed upon the Little Hill: Eliza and I walked there alone in a wintry sunset. Hazen, who had preHazen, who had preceded us with a spade to mark the spot, received his instructions about the red boulder. Six horses were needed to move it upon the steep knoll.

On Sunday morning, November 26, Ernest Matthews, accompanied by George Sterling, brought the urn from Oakland. We wreathed it with ferns and with yellow primroses from the sweet old garden. With the primroses, as a tribute to Jack's adopted home, Hawaii, I wound the withered, rustcolored leis of ilima once given Jack in Honolulu by Frank Unger and Colonel Sam Parker, now, too, both under the ground. One terrible moment was mine when, in the rain, I carried the small, light vessel to the wagon, the same in which Jack had so blithely driven his four. The urn seemed to gather weight until I thought I should

be pressed to the earth, but before it had become insupportable I reached the hands that placed it upon the high seat.

Eliza and I, together, and my people, followed the horses at a distance. When we had all gathered upon the dripping slope, Mr. G. L. Parslow, our oldest ranchman, received the urn from Ernest Matthews, and set it, with its flowers, in the tile already cemented into the ground. At that moment a great flood of sun gold spilled upon us from a break in the leaden sky.

As the trowel relentlessly filled the space within the tile, with that curious transparency of mind in crises in which details stand out, I observed with satisfaction that was a reflection of Jack's effective sense of proportion, that exactly the right proportion of mortar had been mixed, not a trowelful too much or too little.

No word stirred the hush; no prayer, for Jack London prayed to no God but humanity. The men, uncovered, reverent, stood about among the trees, and when their senior had risen, the stone was rolled into place.

Before we turned to retrace our forlorn steps to the house it had come to me, once and forever, that this unpretentious sepulture beneath the tall pine was but a self-chosen memorial. Death, with Jack, had not seemed like death. Nature had slipped the moorings, and he, "bold sailor of the greygreen sea," had gone out with the tide, gallant, victorious, cruising beyond the outer reef, into the West, to a paradise of green lands with an ocean of sails just over the hill. This rugged monument, by his own wish, could never be a place for mourning, a spot to sadden his sweet and happy mountain-side.



Many Kisses


Drawings by LUI TRUGO

UST in time," said the man at the gangway, with a flash of his teeth.

Lawrence boarded the steamboat that was to take him up Lake Como to the Hotel di Tasso for a last talk with his wife.

He sat down in a secluded corner. As he lost himself in thought, he looked like a man of means, of social importance, of sensibility, who was face to face with disaster. Through all his increasing estrangement from Flora, all their temporary separations, he had refused to expect this. He had believed that somehow everything must finally be made right. Was it possible that two persons who had lived in such harmony could come to their parting without the agency of death? Even now he was incredulous as he took from his pocket her last note, the fine, peaked handwriting of which recalled to him her first love


He read again:

Have you forgotten how we sometimes wondered what the death of Love could be like, and how one should bury

him? Did n't we agree that we ought not to spoil our recollections of that wonderful time by any anticlimax? Yet during the last three years we returned again and again to those attempts at self-delusion.

"She must surely have found some one else," Lawrence reflected while carefully refolding the well-worn page. At this thought he had a sensation of physical sickness. "Could she bring herself to spend her second honeymoon here?"

This brilliant sky and water, these winsome villas threaded along the shores, the gilded mountains encircling this lake, had furnished the first setting for their married life. With what art had they not used all these charms of nature, all these poetic associations, to embellish their honeymoon! With the fervor of those who perceive, at last distinctly, the epicurean ideal, they had told each other, "We must exclude from this union everything but beauty." As a result, their sojourn in the villa near Tremezzo had been a romantic masterpiece. They had evaded every descent into the

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