Puslapio vaizdai

and they sent out one of their men to look the Did you ever see a magnificent handler of thing over. He was satisfied, and they put up money who did n't think himself a great econofifty thousand to enable us to go on with the mist? He was suspicious, moreover, of their work and hold the right, while they placed the plan of opening the lands for settlement. They rest of the money.

talked more about that part of the business than “Now you 'll notice how Dunsmuir's train- was advisable— to Dunsmuir, at least. They ing got away with him. Here, with no de- were square men enough, but Dunsmuir thought mand as yet for water, he used the same care they meant to squeeze the settlers. Privately in laying out his system as in India, in a thickly he did n't wish to give them control of the settled country on a tail division, where every scheme. He told me as much, and urged me inch of duty was required. Well, there never to let them go, with what stock their money were such surveys made in this part of the coun- represented. I knew we could n't afford to play try as Dunsmuir's - longitudinal sections, and with our chances, and I wanted to unload and cross-sections, and elaborate detailed maps; and be ready for the next thing. everything costing, you know, like the deuce. “But you must know I had an anchor to He put two hundred men on that heavy side- windward. While we were waiting, seeing how hill work in the cañon, and lined his earth- Dunsmuir was carrying on with the funds, I banks with masonry. Dunsmuir's cry was privately got possession of a little bundle of always that no work is so expensive as cheap water-rights down the river; all put together, work which has to be done over. I could n't they represent our present system. I did n't gainsay him on technical grounds; what I did inform Dunsmuir what I was doing; he would urge was this: put your men below, on the easy have considered it a sort of potential bad faith, part of the line, and you can show our people, and I did n't wish to take issue with him on when they come out here, ten miles of ditch any new grounds. We had plenty to discuss as that will have cost no more than half a mile it was. When I saw our big deal growing cold, up there in the cañon. Dunsmuir called this I showed the Larimers this little pocket"jockeying the scheme.” The entire ditch be- scheme; no rock-work, no masonry, line of low the cañon could be built, he said, in less ditch directly upon the lands. They liked it. time than those first three miles and the head- We closed the bargain, and then I offered to works. Why, then, should he push forward go halves with Dunsmuir. Lord, how he did the lower work merely to let it stand waiting kick! I had been forelaying for the event of to its detriment? I had nothing to do but to failure, he said. I had betrayed our mutual inbring forward my usual doctrine of expediency, terest for a private deal of my own. He made which Dunsmuir scorned, both as a man and nothing of my offer to go snacks. A vain show, an engineer.

he called it, offering him a share in a rotten " It turned out precisely as I expected. Our scheme which I well knew his reputation people were to have come in June, when the would n't allow him to touch. He called it country is at its best; they did n't get here till rotten because we were proposing to raise September, when it looks its worst - dust on money on contracts for water which, he said, the plains six inches deep; smoke from fires in we could n't supply. Why could n't we? Bethe mountains, cutting off the view; hot; and cause we had n't the first elements of a ditch; the river sunk to a creek. The miners said they to begin with, we had no site for our headhad n't seen it so low for twenty years. Our works. Very true; but we have made shift to people doubted that we had even the water we get along without one. He argued that our claimed to have. They doubted everything but failure would be a blow to irrigation in this Dunsmuir's figures, showing what the cañon section for years to come. Very true— if we work was costing. They would n't listen to his had failed. He could n't understand that one averages; it was the big figures that stuck. scheme was no more to me than another. To They proposed to cut down the canal to half hear him talk of how I had weakened, you ’d its size, covering a portion of the lands first. have supposed there was some principle at Later, if the water held out and the settlement stake. What the big scheme really meant to demanded it, the canal could be enlarged. him, I 'm not sure that I know. Anyhow, he Well, you can't imagine Dunsmuir's disgust. would n't look at any substitute. He might Wehad a battle royal - Dunsmuir's note-books, have gone in with us; he preferred to hold out his Indian experience, his historical precedents, alone against us. Since then I have treated all his professional artillery, and his personal him as I would any other obstacle to my comenthusiasm against their cold, hard, business pany's success. sense. They were scared, it 's true; but I did n't “He built him a house up on his location, wonder they were scared. And Dunsmuir as solid as the hill it stands on. I have come would n't go a step to meet them. He had to stay, was the idea. He brought his family taken offense at their criticism of his economy. over, and he raised money on the other side to buy out our interest. I advised our people not the change of subject when his father spoke to sell, to keep their hold on his scheme. Ul- again. timately, I knew we could freeze him out. Our “Do you think your mother will come home, game has been to let him make his deal, and Philip? What does she say about it?” then quietly come in at the last and be the card “From what she says, I should hardly extoo many. The tendency has n't been to in- pect it; but it is n't always safe, you know, to crease Dunsmuir's friendship for us.”

take a woman at her word.” “How was it, sir, that with your interest in “No," Mr. Norrisson coincided grimly; “I the big canal you did n't wish it to go through?” took one at her word some five and twenty Philip inquired.

years ago, and it was the greatest wrong, it "Our interest was a small one, though with seems, that I could have done her. “No," he an option of increasing it on certain terms. We corrected himself, after a moment; “I took a should not have had the controlling voice in child's word for a woman's, thinking I could the management; it might have gone against win the woman afterward. And that's why us, conflicting with our own ditch. We wanted I forgive her. I took the risks. She did n't the thing to hang in the wind till we were ready know what the risks were. It was n't a square to take hold of it ourselves, as we now propose game; but I ’ve paid the shot, and I've never to do, and make the two ditches into one system complained — more than I 'm complaining under our own management. Then we shall now; and I don't say, if it was all to do over abandon our shifty head-gates, and build on again, I should n't take the chances, just the Dunsmuir's location, and supply the lower line same. What is all the rest of it worth if you from the upper one. If Dunsmuir could be can't marry the woman you want? And if you approached like any other man, on a business can't make her happy, who knows whether basis, it would be easy enough to compromise; any other man could? Have you always made it 's as much to his interest as to ours; but he's her happy, Philip? She loves you." terribly complicated. We've got to satisfy his " I am not making her happy now.” science, and his principles, and his pride, and “No; but she blames me for it. All her talk his romantic sentiments, and the bitterness of about America, you know, means me. If I fifteen years' steady disappointment. It has were in Europe, she would come home." been hard for him to look on and see us suc- “I don't think so," said Philip, earnestly; ceed by the very methods he despises. Prob- “but of course I don't know. Her very bitterably the hardest thing for him to forgive us is ness seems to me to be a sign there is feeling the plain truth that we are not so black as he left. I had not thought of it before, but now it has painted us."

comes to me that she talks about - America Possibly that truth is not yet obvious to as if she were fighting some half-stifled plea for him.”

the country she says she deplores." “Possibly not. In that case it must be painful Both men smiled at the word. to him to reflect upon the ways of Providence.” "Well," said Mr. Norrisson,“when she does

The two men smoked awhile in silence. come back I shall expect to see her out here.

“My definition of a theorist,” Mr. Norrisson She deplores the West, but she was born a resumed, “is a person who is never satisfied Western woman, and she does n't love the East with his own work, nor with anybody else's, now, you know!” not even the works of the Creator. Meet them where you will, they are always obstructionists, injuring other people's chances, coquetting with

THE CHILDREN OF THE SCHEME. their own, but terribly sore-headed if they find they 've been left out in the cold. In politics BEFORE they separated for the night, Mr. they are Mugwumps; in religion they are no- Norrisson planned with Philip a reconnaissance devil Unitarians; and if they read novels, they up the line of the“ old ditch” to look at Dunsonly read 'em for the truth to life.' No, sir; muir’s location. The next day the manager I've no use for a theorist - not if he's a man. was called away, and it turned out that Philip Women are born that way sometimes, and can't rode up the ditch-line into Dunsmuir's domains help themselves.”

alone. He was told that about three miles above Mr. Norrisson was in very good spirits. He the mouth of the cañon, where it debouches felt that he had told his story tolerably well upon the plain, he would come to the “ big and with fairness to the other side, and he cut," a spot often chosen by excursionists as a was confident that he had carried his son with camping-ground. Was the cañon, then, a place him. He gave Philip credit for being, as he much frequented ? Philip inquired. At certain would have expressed it, “a boy of sense.” seasons, yes; when the young folks went on Philip was certainly impressed. He sat think- picnics and riding-parties. Tourists generally ing the story over, and was not prepared for took a look at it on account of the lava bluffs


that rose, in some places, two hundred feet above thing stirred in the dead air of the cut; there the river, to the level of the hill pastures. was not a leaf nor a spear of grass to record

“But don't you go foolin' round the house. that a breath of wind had wandered into it: but The old man don't take no stock in strangers the broken utterance came again and again, as up there on his location, you bet!"

if aware of a listener and trying to make itself Bearing this in mind, Philip entered the understood, always with the one word wanting. cañon. The bridle-path hugged the shore wind- Nothing came of this lyric pause: Philip rode

, ing in and out amidst dusty sage- and willow- on reluctantly, and his horse's tread silenced thickets, and boulders fallen from the bluffs. the bird. The first sign of Dunsmuir's occupation was the By the distance he had come from the mouth cabin of the “force,” where a purblind mon- of the cañon he judged the house itself could grel collie barked at him, without crawling from not be far away, and as the walls of the cut the house-shadow where he lay. Half a mile fell back he saw it straight before him, the only farther on he passed the force itself — two men house for miles—as distinct in that absolute at work blasting rock on the slope of ancient light as the picture in the small lens of a teledebris escarped against the bluffs. The sun, scope, yet unreal and dreamlike in its dwarfed declining in a cloudless sky, hung midway be- proportions because of that very perfection of tween these barriers, heating their vitreous sur- detail. A long, yellow house of adobe, or plasfaces to the temperature of a brick-kiln. The tered brick, with low dormers scarcely breaking breeze that faintly puffed and died could be the line of the roof, peering out like saurian eyes tracked on its way down the trail by the dust- into the glare. The roof, sloping outward at pillars whirling before it. It smote Philip in a slight angle, rested on the squat pillars of the face, and left him with the sensation of hav- a massive portico, which shaded the entrance ing been exposed to a sand-blast. Across his to the house. A side entrance for carriages sight the heat-veins quivered; the river's monot- was through a blind wall, running back like the onous ululation drowned the silence—a sound wall of a court; and beneath the arch of the of mocking coolness to a horseman on the blind- gateway hung a bell for announcement or warning trail. Philip saw ahead of him a black notch ing. The sun beat upon the dull red roof, proof shadow, and spurred forward to the shelter jecting the shadows of smokeless chimneys, of the “ big cut.”

and emphasizing the dormers with lines of It was a noble, unroofed gallery, sixty feet black. The aspect of the place was that of sulacross the top and forty feet upon the ground, len, torpid seclusion. The plateau, or bench, with floor and slope-walls of cut stone laid on which it stood parted the meager waters of in cement; bending in a mathematical curve a stream which trickled down a side-gulch, one around the hill, and so averted from the sun. It of the laterals of the cañon. Small, stunted trees might have been the hall of approach to a tomb clung to the slope, crouching all one way, as of prehistoric kings. But here the perennial if the wind were ever at their back. A blight picnicker had made himself at home; broken had withered the patches of thin grass on top; bottles, tin cans, greasy paper bags desecrated but up the gulch, following the stream, a double the pavement laid for the tread of waters which rank of poplars towered, their dark:green tops fate and that instrument of fate, Mr. Price Nor- clear-cut against the sky, a landmark in that risson, had conducted another way.

dun country of drought. Philip gave himself up to a moment of frank Philip concluded that all the water descendsentimentality over this good work come to ing from the gulch had been hoarded within the naught. Like the work of many another the- court, for here and there a fruit-tree overtopped orist, it had been in advance of its time. He the wall

, or a vine flung a loose spray over it; sat still, breathing his horse, loath to quit showing there was a heart of verdure inside the shadow for the glare. More than once that stone shell which the house presented to he heard the call of a bird, the only voice in a stranger. Scarcely a leaf trembled in the hot, the cañon, before its peculiar, indeterminate, intermittent lull; even the river seemed to hold yet persistent rhythm took hold upon his ear. its breath; then, with a hoarse sigh, the sound It was not the “perfect cadence"; it would bore down again; a sheet of ripples spread, have been difficult to repeat upon any instru- whitening the current; the poplars began to ment the first note of the combination, still more rock and strain; and a flicker of white, like the the doubtful fragment which followed, dropping folds of a thin curtain, blew out of one of the down the scale and ceasing suddenly, the final lidless dormers in the roof. note wanting. While he waited came the pure, Leaving the cut, the trail made directly tosad postulate again, unsupported in the sequel; ward the house. Philip saw that he could foland then the haunting pause. Philip listened, low it no further without trespassing; but as fairly thirsting for the sound so delicious in the he proposed to see something more of the hot silence. Where was it, the poet-bird ? No. cañon, he rode back to the shelter of the cut, tied his horse, and returned to the trail on foot. not building for fame or for posterity. Yet the His plan was, if possible, to gain the top of the dreamer's time had come. The only doubtful bluff

, whence he could survey the region and issue now remaining was the personal onestudy it as upon a map. He marked where a upon which men waste their lives. Philip was thicket of wild shrubs flourished close at the beginning to dread it in proportion as his symfoot of the cañon wall. The water-supply which pathies went out to the man whom his father they had“located" was the storage from melted was quietly encompassing. snows, collecting in hollows of the rocks above, Suddenly a hand, unseen, touched the strings which had dripped, or fallen in slender cata- of a guitar close to his ear, the sound proceedracts, down the face of the bluff. Discolored ing from the heart of the wild-sage thicket. streaks showed where, spring after spring, the Amazed, he sat listening, while a boyish voice muddy overflow had descended. The slope of shouted out a Spanish chorus, with a most de

a debris here rose to within fifty feet of the top, plorable accent, but in excellent and bold time, and Philip decided to try this spot for the to a somewhat timid touch on the guitar : ascent, trusting to find cracks and footholds caused by the action of the water. His spurs I love them all, the pretty girls, were in his way as a climber, so he took them I love them all, both dark and fair. off, and went light-footed up the talus as far as the foot of the bluffs. Here, in the shade of a “ Be still a moment; I thought I heard a huge buck sage, ablaze with yellow blossoms, step." he threw himself down to rest. Already his The accompaniment broke off as a softer prospect was immensely enlarged; he had voice hushed the singer. gained a cooler stratum of air; he could see " Who could be stepping around here?” the formation of the cañon from end to end, The chanter began again, but the guitar from its rise in the hills to the gate of the riv- was silent. er's departure. He could pick out the rocks Philip rose up and stared at the tuneful bush. and shallows in the brown water beneath. Tons He walked around it, and saw that on both of boulders, fallen from the bluffs, lay embedded sides its crooked boughs brushed the face of near shore, breaking the current into swirls and the cliff; every twig was strung with blossoms eddies. The river had worn a way down to its of a vivid gipsy yellow; the whole mass, gilded present bed, from the level of its former path, with sunshine against the purple blackness of through a fissure in the ancient lava-flow which the rock, seemed loudly to defy investigation. once submerged the valley. Such was the word I am simply positive there is some one," of science respecting its history, a revelation the girl-voice exclaimed, low, but so near that to be classed with visions and dreams of the Philip started, as if a singing-bird had sprung night. Had Dunsmuir taken counsel of nature out at his feet. There was silence and intense during his fifteen years' waiting, and learned curiosity on both sides of the bush. patience in the daily presence of this astound- Philip peered at its winking blossoms awhile, ing achievement? Or had he fretted the more and then essayed a way between the quickset. for these silent agencies, witnessing how long, and the cliff. The springy boughs yielded tranhow heartbreaking in their slowness, are those siently; the rock seemed to give way; he caught works which endure; how the life of a man is himself, and stumbled forward into the hidden as the frosts of a single season to the accom- nest. It was a shallow cave, or pocket, left by plishment of one of nature's schemes ? the falling of a segment of sheer rock, com

Below the house the river's channel pinched pletely screened from discovery, yet free to suddenly, and the volume of waters rushed every breeze that wandered up the valley. A down, with a splendid outward swirl, between threadbare rug, a cushion or two of old-fashtwo natural rock-piers resembling the abut- ioned needlework, a few badly used books, a ments of a bridge. This spot Philip accepted field-glass such as the stock-herders of that reat a glance as the famous location. Here, upon gion use to pick out their brands at a distance, this footstool of the bluffs, Dunsmuir had and the guitar, composed its furniture. The planned to build his dam and waste-gates. boy-singer had started to his feet, and Philip The river was to have been raised to the level saw that he was crippled of one arm, which was of the big cut, and its waters transmitted thence, neatly bandaged and carried in a sling. The by the high line, to the plains. It was a fine, girl had backed away on the rug, holding the courageous piece of fancy, from an engineering guitar, while with her free hand she improved point of view, and conceived closely within the the arrangement of her skirts. The interruption bounds of practicability; but it was the dream had evidently been rather haughtily expected, of a potentate with the credit of a nation to but in the eyes of the charming pair, as they back him. Philip saw how alarming it might met his, Philip saw a change of expression, and have been to a few private capitalists, who were both began to smile.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ Prospecting for anything in particular?” pair of forlorn little tan-goat buskins, whitened the boy inquired, in the slipshod speech of the by dust and defaced by the rocks, the like of frontier.

which Philip had never seen before on such a ** Yes,” said Philip; "for a way out of the foot. Under the circumstances he would willcanon without crossing private grounds." ingly have foregone the bluffs for the cave, with

** How far have you followed the trail?” the very least encouragement, but it seemed to

"Until I came in sight of the stone house be taken for granted by his young hosts that at the mouth of the gulch.”

he was in haste to go. “Go ahead, then, till you come to a wire The youth had remained standing; he now fence on this side of the gulch. Follow it along turned toward the leafy tent-curtain and looked up, and cross above it where you see the pop- out. lars in the fold of the hills. Or you can go “ There is nothing up there," he consciendown on the beach and follow that along; only tiously explained. “Seventy-five milesof bunchit's a bad climb back again. Are you for the grass, and the mountains, and the cañon, which hills or the shore ?"

you can see from here.“ I am for the bluffs. Is it possible to get up “ That is quite enough for me," said Philip. from here ?"

“Still, I don't wish to be troublesome. I see “Well, not with a horse. You 're not foot- you are not very fit for climbing.” ing it?"

“ But the climb is nothing at all. We go up Philip explained that he had left his horse in a crevice by steps in the rock; it 's no more the shade below, and was at present exploring than climbing a ladder.” the cañon on foot.

“Thanks," said Philip, seeing that he was The young people took counsel together expected to come to some conclusion. “Is the with their eyes. " There is a way up from here," secret of the short cut mine to keep only, or said the lad. “ It is our short cut to the cave; to use, if I should come this way again ?"" we come down from above. If I show it you, He looked at the girl, who had not risen. you won't give it away, will you? We don't “Alan—my brother, is master here,” she care to have the mob in here, you know, with said. “He is very fond of company,” she their egg-shells and paper bags."

added more encouragingly. Philip agreed to keep the secret of the "short She rose now, showing her height, which was cut" from the mob. The lad moved aside to nearly equal to her brother's. Her face seemed give him room upon the rug, and the young girl childlike in contrast with her woman's growth. handed him one of the cushions.

Her gray eyes just swept the surface of Philip's Plainly the couple were brother and sister; delighted gaze, seeming to see no more than they might have been twins from the likeness that he stood there; but her lips kept back a between them, yet the unlikeness was equally smile. strong. Both were gray-eyed blondes. Both Alan called from without, and Philip relucwere the slender, tawny children of wind and tantly made his exit as he had come. A few drought. The girl's smooth cheek was toned moments later he was roaming with his guide by the sun to the creamy tint of a meerschaum along the top of the bluffs. He saw the circle in the first bloom of coloring. Her single braid of mountains, and the seventy-five miles of sumof long hair, coiled around her neck like a mer-dried pasture dipping and rising to meet torque, had broken silver lights that were lovely it. Through the midst the cañon plowed a great against the warm, even flesh-tones. She had crooked rent. The level light' encompassed deep-set eyes and dark eyelashes, and here the them; their own shadows were the only ones differences began: for the boy had the promi- in sight. The river's voice rose in mightier volnent eye of a talker; his brows and lashes were ume. They felt the first breath of the change, reddish gold; his beauty was altogether more a freshness preluding the down-cañon wind striking than the girl's, but also of a commoner which sets in, after sunset, toward the hot plains type. In his flannel shirt and belt and flowing from the mountains. necktiehe might have beentheornamental mem- “My sister has n't a notion that we 've ber of a “ Buffalo Bill" troop; while the maiden, given the key of our back stairs to the son of seated like a squaw on a blanket, looked a per- Mr. Price Norrisson," said Alan, coolly, as he fect little gentlewoman. Her dress would not strode through the brittle weeds at Philip's side. be worth mentioning but that Philip came after- " If you knew me, was there any reason why ward to know so well the dark-blue serge skirt, you should n't have said so ?” and the faded silk blouse with its half-obliter- “I don't know you, except by sight. You ated stripe of pink, and the neat little darns in know, perhaps, that I am the son of Robert the sleeves, which were too short, and “drew” Dunsmuir." a little at the elbows. Everything she had on “ Not until this moment; and I 'm sorry

if had been good in its day; all but her shoes, a I have come by anything in the way of cour


« AnkstesnisTęsti »