Puslapio vaizdai

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her boys. Another smoke under the stoop followed, and then, perhaps, a doze at the cottage, or in one of the dozen rocking-chairs about the house, or on the rustic throne hewn from a stump in the grove between the house and the barn. The sun flooded the cañon with hot and dazzling light; the air was spiced with the pungent odor of shrubs; it was time to rest a little before beginning the laborious sports of the afternoon. Later, we all wandered on the banks of the creek and were sure to meet at the swimmingpool about four o'clock. Meanwhile the Artist has laid in another study. Foster has finished his tale, and is rocking in a hammock of green boughs; the Scribe has booked a half-dozen fragmentary sentences that will by and by grow into an article, and the boys have come home from school.

By and by we wanted change; the monotony of town life is always more


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less interesting; the monotony of country life palls after a season. Change comes over us in a most unexpected guise. Our cañon was decked with the flaming scarlet of the poison-oak; these brilliant bits of foliage are the highlights in almost every California landscape, and must satisfy our love of color, in the absence of the Eastern autumnal leaf. The gorgeous shrubs stand out like burning bushes by the roadside, on the hill-slope, in the forest recesses, and almost everywhere. The Artist's chum gave evidence of a special susceptibility to the poison by a severe attack that prostrated him utterly for a while. Yet he stood by us until his vacation came to an end, and, to the last, there was no complaint heard from this martyr to circumstances.

One day he left us-on mule-back, with nine dogs fawning upon his stirrup, and amid a hundred good-byes wafted to him from the house, the smithy, the barn, and the swimming-pool. He had orders to send in the Kid, or his successor, immediately upon his arrival at the Bay. We must needs have some one to indulge, some one whose interests were not involved in the primeval farther than the pleasure it afforded for the hour. The Kid was the very thing-a youngster with happiness in heart, luster in his eye, and nothing more serious than peach-down on his lip; yet there was gravity enough in his composition to carry him beneath the mere surface of men and things. The Kid drove in one night with rifle tall as himself, fishing-tackle, and entomological truck, wild with enthusiasm and hungry as a carp.

What days followed! Our little entomologist chased scarlet-winged dragon-flies and descanted on the myriad forms of insect-life with premature accomplishment. "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings" we heard revelations not unmixed with the ludicrous superstitions of the nursery.

There is a school-house a mile distant, on the forks of the creek; we visited it one

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Friday, and saw six angular youths, the sum total of the young ideas within range of the instructress, spelled down in broadsides; and heard time-honored recitations delivered in the same old sing-song that could only have been original with the sons of our first parents. The school-mistress, with a sun-bonnet that buried her face from the world, passed Ingram's ten times a week, footing it silently along the dusty road, lunch-pail in hand. She lives in a lonely cabin on the trail to the wilderness over the hill.

The Kid sketched a little; indeed, the artistic fever spread to the granary, where the boys spent some hours of each day restoring, not to say improving, the tarnished color of certain face-cards of an imperfect euchre deck, the refuse of the palette being carefully secreted to this end; we never knew at what moment we might sit upon the improvised color-box of some juvenile member of the family.

But hunting was our delectable recreation; the Doctor would lead off on a halfbroken bronco, followed by a select few from the house or the friendly camps, Fred bringing up the rear with a pack

mule. This was the chief joy of the hounds; the old couple grew young at the scent of the trail, and deserted their whining progeny with Indian stoicism. Two nights and a day were enough for a single hunt, one may in that time scour the rocky fortresses of the Last Chance, or scale the formidable slopes of the Devil's Ribs.

The return from the hunt was a scene of picturesque interest: the approach of the hunters at dusk, as they emerged one after another from the dark wood; the packmule prancing proudly under a stark buck weighing one hundred and thirty-three pounds, without its vitals; the baby fawn slain by chance (for no one would acknowledge the criminal slaughter); the final arrival of the fagged, sore-footed dogs, who were wildly greeted by the puppies, and kissed on the mouth and banged about by many a playful paw; the grouping under the trees in front of Bachelors' Hall, where the buck was slung, head downward among green leaves, and with stakes crossed between the gaping ribs; the light of the flickering lantern; the dogs supping blood from the ground where it had dripped; the

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satisfaction of the hunters; the admiration. of the women; the wild excitement of the boys, who all talked at once, at the top of their voices, with gestures quicker than thought; this was the Carnival of the Primeval.

One night, the Kid set out for the stubblefield and lay in wait for wild rabbits; when he came in with his hands full of ears, the glow of moonlight was in his eye, the flush of sunset on his cheek, the riotous blood's best scarlet in his lips, and his laugh was triumphant; with a discarded hat recalled for camp-duty, a blue shirt open at the throat, hair very much tumbled, and no thoughts of self to detract from the absolute grace of his pose.

But all hunting-parties were not so successful. One of seven came home emptyhanded and disgusted. It became necessary, while the unlucky huntsmen were under our roof, to give them festive welcome. Fred drew out his fiddle; the

Doctor gathered his strength and shook as lively a shoe on the sanded floor of the best room as one will hear the clang of in many a day. Clumsy joints grew supple; heavy boots made the splinters fly; a fellow-townsman, like ourselves on a vacation tour, jigged with the inimitable grace of a trained dancer. How few of our muscles are aware of the joy of full development! From the wall of the best room the "Family of Horace Greeley," in mezzotint, looked down through clouded glass and a veneered frame. The county map hung vis-à-vis. A family record, wherein a pale infant was cradled in saffron, and schooled in pink, passing through a rainbow-tinted life that reached the climax of color at the scarlet and gold bridal, and ended in a sea-green grave; this record, with a tablet for appropriate inscriptions under each epoch in the family history, was still further enriched with lids of stained isinglass carefully placed over the

domestic calendar, as much as to say, "What is written here is not for the public eye." On the triangular shelf in the corner, stood the condensed researches of all Arctic explorers, in one obese volume; its twin contained the revelations of African discoveries boiled down and embellished with numberless cuts; a Family Physician, one volume of legislative documents, and three stray magazines, with a Greek almanac, completed the library. So, even in the primeval state, we were not without food for our minds as well as exercise for our muscles. After a time, even the dance ceased to attract us. The Artist had lined the walls of his chamber with brilliant sketches; the Kid clamored for home.

I suppose we might have tarried a whole summer and still found some turn in the brook, some vista in the wood, some cluster of isolated trees, to hold us entranced; for the peculiar glory of the hour transfigured them, and the same effect was never twice repeated. Moreover, we at last grew intolerant of one great annoyance. You all have known it as we knew it, and doubtless endured it with as little


grace. Is there anything more galling than the surpassing impudence of country flies? We resolved to return to town, and returned close upon the heels of our resolution. Again we threaded the dark windings of the wood, and bade farewell to every object that had become endeared to us. We wondered how soon change would lay its hand upon this primeval beauty. We approached the logging-camp. Presto! in the brief interval since our first glimpse of the forests above it, the hills had been shorn of their antique harvest, and the valley was a place of desolation and of death.

It seemed incredible that the dense growth of gigantic trees could be so soon dragged to market. There was a famous tree-we saw the stump still bleeding and oozing up -which, three feet from the ground, measured eleven and a half feet one way by fourteen feet the other. When its doom was sealed,

a path was cut for it and a soft bed made for it to lie on. The land was graded, and covered with a cushion of soft boughs. Had the tree fallen on uneven ground,it would have been shattered; if it

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had swerved to right or left, nothing but fire could have cleared the wrecks.

The making of the death-bed of this monster cost Mrs. Duncan forty dollars. Then the work began. An ax in the hands of a skillful wood-cutter threw the tree headlong to the earth. Then it was sawed across, yielding eighteen logs, each sixteen feet in length, with a diameter of four feet at the smallest end. The logs were put upon wheels, and run over a light trestle-work to the mill, drawn thither by a ridiculous dummy, which looked not unlike an oldfashioned tavern store on its beam-ends, with an elbow in the air. At the mill, it was sawed into eighty thousand feet of marketable lumber.

Reaching the forest, on our way to the Mills, we found the river had risen so that ten miles from the mouth we were

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obliged to climb upon the wagon-seats, and hold our luggage above high-water mark. At Duncan's, on the home stretch, we made our final pilgrimage, to a wild glen over the Russian River, where, a few weeks before, the Bohemian Club had held high jinks. The forest had been a scene of enchantment on that midsummer night; but now the tents were struck, the Japanese lanterns were extinguished, and nothing was left to tell the tale but the long tables of rough deal, where we had feasted. They were covered with leaves and dust; spiders had draped them with filmy robes. The quail piped, the jay-bird screamed, the dove sobbed, and a slim snake, startled at the flight of a bounding hare, glided away among the rustling leaves. So soon does this new land recover the primeval beauty of eternal youth.

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