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THE CHOSEN VALLEY.

BY MARY HALLOCK FOOTE,

Author of "The Led-Horse Claim," "John Bodewin's Testimony," etc.

I.

WITH PICTURES BY THE AUTHOR.

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"Should I be at home-on the desert plains?"

"You might concede something to the fact that you will soon have a husband and a son there."

"I might concede everything, and go myself! But then there would be one reason less, though a poor one, I admit, for your coming back. No; you need not remind me, Philip, that I have nothing left."

Mrs. Norrisson was a pretty, spoiled mother; one that should have died young and lived in the memory of her charm. She could argue, very logically, from her own predispositions, but she failed in that logic of the heart which enables a woman to feel another's reasons. Nothing could have convinced her, now, that she had not a bitter cause, as the sorrows of women go, even with one who sends a son into battle or gives him up to a fatal choice in marriage. Yet all her grief was that her son had chosen a profession which she called narrow, and elected to practise it in his, in their, native West; while Philip's culpability lay in that he had not revealed to her this purpose as it grew. There had been the natural affection, but never a perfect understanding, between them. If Mrs. Norrisson had guessed this fact before, she knew it now, passionately declaring there is no mystery in life like the being one calls one's child. Mr. Price Norrisson had married his wife "just off the range," as they say in the cattle countries; sixteen, and the most beautiful girl he had ever met; mixed blood of course. The marriage was pronounced, in the language of

his set, "a good gamble." In the course of her subsequent remarkable social progress Mrs. Norrisson had left the range far behind. The fields in which she sought distinction lay to the east; and here she would have detained her son but that some reactionary sentiment in the young man called him back. Mr. and Mrs.

Norrisson had been much apart since the experiment of their marriage began,-he, frankly in pursuit of money; she, of the most enlightened ways of spending it,—and Philip had idealized the parent he saw least of. He was prouder of his father's summons, in the name of his Work, than a young cadet of his first commission in the service of his country; but how commend this enthusiasm to a woman professedly weary of both husband and country?

"I am looking for an engineer," his father's letter ran," with about what I take your qualification to be, to go on big irrigation workan extension of our present system near the town of Norrisson. Don't you think you had better come and see what you can make of it over here? I shall have use for all your science,-you should have got considerable by now,—and I can give you the practical experience no engineer, no American engineer, can afford to dispense with. Cable me your answer directly. The place can't wait."

Mrs. Norrisson held this letter, folding it and pinching it small in her delicate but not generous hands.

"What does he want with an engineer?" she demanded. "A county surveyor is all they need to build what they call their 'ditches.' They are always working against time, and the quality of the work is quite a second matter. Take my word, Philip, your methods will not suit your father. He values nothing but time. He is what they call a driver."

"That, quite possibly, is what I need," Philip answered with provoking humility" to learn something of that drive, which has done so much over there."

"So much and so badly," the fair renegade retorted. "I don't deny they have pluck; but look at their chances, in a new country where they are first in the field! You'd think they might afford at least to be honest. But they have the courage of their opportunities. Take the history of their continental railroads, for example. But granting you can keep out of all that, what sort of a school is it for a young man who has n't finished his education? Your father built a ditch over there—the one that has made Norrisson-not only without consulting a single engineer of reputation, but actually in defiance of a very able one, a sort of partner of his. He stood in his way, and your

"I'll come back, my dear mother; but a man must choose his field. It strikes me the field for Americans is America; and if the conditions are so different, the sooner I get over there and learn them, the better."

his education, his accent, and his wife. He may go west for his fortune, perhaps; but you do not need a fortune, Philip."

The last word was a plea. But Philip could not forego his retort.

"Because my father has made one for me? Is that a reason I should spend my life in Europe, posing as a citizen of the world?"

"Ah, if you are posing! I thought you were doing something more sincere. But now I see you have never been that. You have taken the way of all men with all women; flattering them, conceding everything till the moment of discovery. And then they ask, why it is a woman must always make a scene! Well, go and be

you do,

father got rid of him, because he had a conscience about his work. You need not look at me, my dear, as if I were talking scandal. He will tell you the story himself. He glories in succeeding in just that illogical, immoral way. It is the triumph of makeshift. That is his school. of practical experience.' They say the country drives them, and they have to keep the pace, somehow, or 'get left.' I don't go into the philosophy of it. I'm only speaking of its effects. You can see them in me. I was bred in that same school; I got on famously; I could do anything I pleased up to a certain point. There I stopped. There I have stopped for want of thoroughness in the beginning. I hoped you would be a school-boy till you were twenty-foot-loose,' as they say over there! But don't five, then take five years for travel. By that get beaten, and don't get left.' For if time you would have been something more your father will lay it all to Europe and to me." than an American engineer.' I meant that Philip cabled that he would report at the my son should be a citizen of the world, not a company's office in New York, at once, where local man in a profession half learned." he hoped for further orders. He knew that there was such a town as Norrisson, a metropolis of the desert plains, named for his father, who had been the Moses of emigration thither, even to the smiting of the dry hills to furnish forth water for the reclamation of the land. But where lay this field for practical experience, in what precise quarter of his big native West, he was as ignorant as if he had been born a cockney. He had a mixed idea that the people of Norrisson lived in semi-subterranean dwellings called dugouts; that their only fuel was sage-brush; that their sons herded cattle; and their daughters, phenomenally pretty and ungrammatical, ran barefoot, like the sage-hens, until each married her cowboy or successful prospector and became a boarding-house belle in San Francisco. These images were mainly derived from his mother's generalizations,—she was a sad recreant to have been born under the Star of Empire,-and from her free use of hyperbole where her feelings were involved. She had a singular aversion to the West, and when she talked of her girlhood there,— a time of unimaginable freedom, by her own account,-it was with a bitterness Philip could only marvel at, seeing that even her distorted descriptions conveyed, in spite of herself, a picture that interested and attracted the listener.

"Who, then, are the Americans? Are you an American? If you are, you get precious little of it from me. My father was an Englishman, my grandmother was a Spanish Creole a Californian I suppose you would call her. Why should n't we revert, through these knots in our blood, to the people we come fromwho had something that could be called race? I am convinced it is the homesickness of generations that stirs in me whenever I fancy myself back in that ugly, raw, indiscriminate region you ask me to call home. I may be homeless, but that is not my home."

"Has it ever been suggested that you should call the desert plains your home? Come, at least, as far as San Francisco."

"I might as well be in London, so far as the society of my husband and son is concerned." "Well, not quite."

"The difference in miles does n't begin to make up for the difference in point of residence. But it's not a question of my going back; whether I go or stay, my tastes, my principles, are the same. But for you it will be the turning-point. I am sure that you will commit yourself to something pitiable before the year is out; probably to staying there forever. There's a fascination about the life, as there is about the first stage of every return to barbarism. When the rope begins to strain, it's a temptation to reverse the wheel; but is it worth while to send the bucket to the bottom again, after so many turns have brought it nearly to the top? No; you are making a distinct step backward. A man, I have always insisted, should go east for

He began his journey in anything but a triumphant humor. He was preoccupied with his mother's disappointment, and some of her arguments stayed with him after the heat of contention had subsided. A half-doubt of his own choice hampered his outlook. It was not till he began to go down the long continental slope, westward from the Port Neuf, far west of the great divide, following the Snake River Valley, and towns and farms gave way, and solitary buttes stood for church-steeples, and

dusty corrals for lawns and meadows, that he saw his work before him, and began to look forward instead of back.

II.

HE IS INTRODUCED TO THE SCHEME.

MR. PRICE NORRISSON was at breakfast, eating his first course of iced fruit and going through a pile of newspapers, when Philip made his appearance on the morning after his arrival. The hours of his father's establishment were a shock to his system; he had not thought of breakfast at half-past seven. Wong, the Chinese butler, in a white, starched blouse, the sleeves of which fell to the knuckles of his tawny, pointed hands, was making coffee in a Vienna coffee-pot with the solemnity of a priest preparing an oblation. One side of the room was filled with a great array of glass and china in cupboards built into the wall; the opposite side was devoted chiefly to a huge painting of the Shoshone Falls, the work of a local artist, after a photograph by Jackson of Denver-such an acquisition as the bored possessor sometimes deprecates by explaining that he took it for a debt. A long window on the third side; divided into casements, opened upon a grass terrace where a lawn-sprinkler flung its dazzling mist into the sunshine. Outside there was a humming stillness, a perfume of locust-blooms, a breeze that blew freshly into the room, whipping the silk sash-curtains out from the rods, turning up the corners of Mr. Norrisson's newspaper, and tumbling the yellow roses that filled a majolica bowl in the center of the table.

"You're about four inches longer than you were when I saw you last," said Mr. Norrisson, measuring his son with his keen, appraising glance. "Don't run to fat much: queer how white everybody looks who 's just out from the East. You ought to have got a Western color on shipboard."

In the next five minutes he had asked Philip a number of questions, rather difficult to answer, about his mother. "She's still too good an American, I suppose, to be happy out of Europe?"

"Where it is well with me, there is my country,' is her creed national," said Philip, after a moment's hesitation.

"And how is it with you? Have you got outside of all your national prejudices?"

"I have come home," said Philip. "Good enough! And what does your mother think of your going to work?"

While Philip fumbled in his memory for a speech of his mother's that would bear repetition, Mr. Norrisson answered the question for himself.

"Did n't expect it, of course. Well, she has

been running your education for quite a while on the European plan; I rather thought it was my turn now. And when I 've set you on your legs it will be your turn. Then you can go back if you want to. But I guess after you 've been two years in the West, with something to do, you won't want to go back. Let me see, how old are you, Philip?"

"Twenty-three, sir.

"You don't say! It's a fact. You were born the year of the big strike on the Comstock." "And Phosa must be forty years old!" was the thought Mr. Norrisson did not utter. He was quite used to thinking of himself as a man of fifty-two, with a chest-measure that increased rapidly downward. But Phosa a woman of forty! His slender, narrow-eyed, rose-mouthed gipsy, in whom he had forgiven everything because of her youth! How could she endure the fact herself? The reflection made him feel more tenderly toward her.

Philip took from his letter-case a photograph, and pushed it across the cloth. Mr. Norrisson took it up and looked at it fixedly, but without a change of expression. "For me?" he inquired.

"If you like it. It is mine only because I helped myself to it. My mother has her picture taken every now and then; her journal intime she calls the collection. But she is very jealous of its circulation."

"She need n't be afraid, if the others tell no more about her than this one. I can't read her journal. This picture does n't even tell her age."

"Neither does her face."

"You better keep it," said Mr. Norrisson, handing back the card with a confirmed stoical patience in the last look he gave it. It may tell you more than it does me. I presume you will miss her a good deal. She's the kind of woman who occupies a man's mind. She did mine until I found I could n't think about her and do anything else. I don't miss her so much as I used to; I don't let myself."

Mr. Norrisson now began upon the second course of his substantial breakfast-trout from the hills, served in a wreath of cresses, with curly slivers of bacon, and potatoes hashed with cream. Philip was breakfasting Continental fashion, his father eying him disapprovingly.

"I'm going to take you down the line this morning. You can't ride twenty miles on a roll, a cup of coffee, and a cigarette. Eat something, boy! You don't know when you'll get your next meal."

Philip fancied that this prompt call for "boots and saddles" might be somewhat in the nature of a test, and was careful not to keep his father waiting, though the horses were brought round

at once and he was not dressed for riding. Mr. Norrisson glanced at his son's trousers and faultless foot-gear, and ordered a servant to fit him with a pair of spatterdashes. His " narrow-gage" hat was exchanged for a grasscloth helmet, and they set forth.

From time to time, as they rode along, the father cast an eye upon his son's seat in the saddle. At length he spoke of it, approving Philip's readiness to "catch on" to the American way of riding. Philip disclaimed the compliment, explaining, with some particularity as to terms, that he had been taught to ride in the French school, which had certain points of resemblance to the American, notably the long stirrup. Mr. Norrisson snorted at the idea of a resemblance; he said that the Americans had no school.

"We ride because we want to get there. A horse is merely the extension of the powers of a man : if the man likes to make a show of himself he can do it better on a horse than on the ground; and that, I take it, is the fundamental principle of the haute école in riding."

They were following the lower bank of the irrigation-canal toward the head-works on the river. The stream which supplied the canal was an uncelebrated tributary of the Snake, called the Wallula, fed by melting snows from the mountains, and now at the flood. Every long, hot day set the river roaring with added volume at night; and the dry-plains wind, which blows strongest toward morning, like the terral of the tropics, augmented the sound of its booming, which could be heard for miles, and might have been mistaken for a distant growl of surf. The canal was carrying to its full capacity, a guard of men watching it day and night. Mr. Norrisson pointed out to his son that the location at which the main ditch had been taken out of the river was not a particularly good one; a fact which Philip had already noted.

"That ditch had to go through," said his father. "There was only one spot at the time for the head-gates. Better risk the patching and propping than let the scheme grow cold on my hands. Here, you see, we had no garanties d'intérêts, like your gentlemen of the Ponts et Chaussées. We had no security but faith in the ditch. Private capital, if it 's non-resident capital, is skittish unless you can show results. Our parties got scared at the outset. We had to give up our scientific lay-out, and build as we could, with what money I could get them to put up. We made a bad job of it, but we made it pay. But there is just where the pride of your foreign engineer knocks him out. We had one of them with us at the start, but he could n't put up with our American methods. It hurt him more to botch the job than to see the whole

scheme fall through. He had his professional reputation to look out for; I had my reputation as a business man. If I undertake to make a deal, I make it; if not on one proposition, then on another; carry it through, somehow, and stop the leaks afterward. We were the original partners in the scheme, Dunsmuir and I. He has got the location that we should have had only for the split between us. He is canny enough to see that he holds the door to the high line, the only ditch-line that can reach the big tracts below, that we can't reach-300,000 acres of the richest arid land in southern Idaho. We have been freezing him out, you understand. It has taken fifteen years to do it. I brought you over here to be ready for the new scheme that is to take in Dunsmuir, location and all.” "And is Dunsmuir prepared to be absorbed ?"

"Bless you, no. It is n't time to close him out yet. You don't like the vi et armis method, I see. Well, don't be alarmed. There is n't going to be any fighting, not even in the courts. Dunsmuir's claim is worn pretty thin; but if it came to a tussle between us, the side of a big company is always the unpopular side. Dunsmuir has been laughed at and called a crank these ten years; but people have got used to thinking of him, holding on with a bulldog grip, staking every penny he's got on the game, and year after year of his life-not to speak of the lives of his wife and children. It's the sort of spectacle that stirs the blood of your true Western man. There is never any sentiment about the rights of a company. It will be a delicate bit of work, I presume, this closing deal with Dunsmuir. I hear that solitude has become a disease with him; that he's completely warped, like a stick of timber left out in the sun. He was sound enough once. We might have been of immense service to each other, if he could have brought himself to compromise with that professional conscience of his. But pride before everything! He had put his name to the first report on the scheme: it should never go through, then, with his consent, but on what he called a sound basis. Of course there were one or two little issues of a personal nature. I'll tell you the story some time, but the gist of it is just here - Dunsmuir is a sore-headed theorist, and I am a practical man."

They had reached the measuring-weir of the main distributing-channel, and the talk plunged into technicalities. Dunsmuir's name was not again mentioned between father and son until that evening, in the summer smoking-room, when Mr. Norrisson returned to the story with evident relish of the opportunity to review it with an intelligent listener. He refrained from making points against Dunsmuir, resting his case honestly or carelessly on its merits, such

as they were. He did not pretend to be proud of them, but treated the whole entanglement as one of the exigencies arising from a practical man's obligations to his business.

Above their heads, as they talked, a Japanese lanternsoftly glimmered in its sheath of wroughtbronze filigree; the pattern of the metal screen wavered upon the circle of light cast upon the ceiling, like the shadow of leafy boughs on a moonlit curtain. Mr. Norrisson was seated in a deep, leather chair, one foot resting on the ratan lounge where Philip was stretched out, looking both sunburned and pale after his first day in the saddle. He was observing his father, and smiling to himself at the contrast that bold masculinity presented to the fair, changeful, feminine type which he was accustomed to watch, in his usual rôle of the listener. Ugliness in one another has a certain fascination for men, where its signification is power. Philip had seen famous historic heads by the Flemish painters, the prototypes of his father, set off by the ruff, and gold chain, and furred mantle that would have suited Mr. Norrisson's middle-aged development much better than a pongee sackcoat and a linen collar. Yet he understood what an offense this man of broad instincts and hard, vital force might have become, with his sanguine eye and sagging underlid, to the petted, disdainful sensibilities of the wife who for twenty years had contemplated only the points of difference between them.

"I was joking this morning, you know, at the breakfast-table," said Mr. Norrisson, not very explicitly.

"Yes?" Philip inquired.

"When I said it was my turn now. I want you to understand that I have n't interfered to please myself, though I enjoy having my son around as well as any man. It was on your account I called you home. I was afraid she'd polish away at you till all the bark was off, and then your growth would stop. That was one trouble with Dunsmuir. He'd been trained up to a certain size and shape, and he could n't change to fit the circumstances. Dunsmuir was not much above thirty when I first knew him, but he was already an engineer of some distinction. He had done excellent work in India, in charge of one of the divisions of the Lower Ganges canal. He became disgusted with what he considered the gross inequality between the positions of a civil and a royal engineer in the Government corps. I believe there is some room for jealousy in the treatment of the two branches, and Dunsmuir was n't one to pass over a thing like that. When he had served his term he decided to quit the Government service. He had got the colonizing fever, moreover, and was resolved to do something on a large scale over here, making use of his Indian

experience to start an arid-land scheme on the colonization plan. I was looking up the subject of irrigation myself; it was the spring of '74, and mining stocks had got a black eye. I made up my mind then that irrigation was going to be the next big boom.

"Dunsmuir was coming down from the Northwest, on horseback, traveling light with a couple of pack-animals and a half-breed guide. I was on my way across from San Francisco. We met at Winnemucca, where I dropped off the train to wait for the stage. He had got wind of this tract through some old Idaho City miners he struck at Vancouver. I'd had my eye on it, going back and forth, ever since '60. I happened to know there was a possibility of the U.P. pushing across it, and that the lands must still be open for occupation; but it was all vague, in the future, with me. He was first on the ground; but he wanted to go in with some American, because, you know, an alien can't locate a water-right under our Government. Well, Dunsmuir turned up that evening, as I was saying, and we sat up talking irrigation, soils, crops, climates, and railroad facilities till two o'clock in the morning. The result of our talk was that Dunsmuir gave me his spare saddle-horse, and we rode north together. I don't know that I ever had a pleasanter journey. Dunsmuir had a keen eye for a new country; and like most Englishmen he was a bit of a farmer. He knew soils and climates, and was watching out for the flowers and birds and all the living things of the desert; and when we rode at night he had the whole map of the stars in his head like an old navigator. Those lands, as we rode across them, two days and two nights, seemed to take hold on his imagination. He saw them with the eye of a dreamer, but he sized 'em up just as coldly as I could. I never was surer in my life that I had got hold of the right man. But when it came to laying out the scheme in detail, I began to get scared. His very success, formerly, in India, was a disadvantage to him. However, I'm ahead of my story. We agreed to take hold of the scheme together. He wanted me to take it over to the other side and offer it to some of those swell philanthropists who want room, outside of their estates, for their crowded agricultural population. But I have always had a preference for home capital when I can get it. However, it was chiefly a question of time with me, and you can't hurry an Englishman. We had various nibbles. I closed finally with the Larimers, a New York loan and mortgage house with agents all over the West. They knew the country pretty well, and were in some of the railroad combinations that were likely to benefit it in the future. They were really anxious to get in here,

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