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Full text of "Zanita, a Tale of the Yo-semite"

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ZANITA 



TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE 



THERfeSE YELVERTl 



ViaCOUNTESS 




NEW YORK 

PUBLISHED BY HURD AND HOUGHTON 

tTflininHae: Ufbcrtfilir l^xtii 

1872 



HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRAIY 

FROM 

THE BEQUEST OF 

FVERT MNSf N WiNBRlik 

llli 



^ 






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by 

HURD AND IIOUGHTON, 

in tlie Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



BIYJERSIDE, OAMBBaaE: 

8TSRK0TTPKD AND PKINTSD BT 
H. 0. HOUGHTON AND COMPANT. 



OONTEIJI^TS. 



CHAPTER I. 

KEyMUIR 1 

CHAPTER n. 
A Strange Guide 10 

CHAPTER III. 
The Dauohtebs of Ah-wah-nee 15 

CHAPTER IV. 
A Day's Pijbasurb . 24 

CHAPTER V. 
Sqirrblish .34 

CHAPTER VI. 
The Fall of the Mercede 44 

CHAPTER VII. 
TkE Radds at Home . 56 

CHAPTER VIII. 
The Episode of a Kiss . . . . . . . 68 

CHAPTER IX. 
A Return to the Valley 75 

CHAPTER X. 
Ah-wah-nee . 83 

CHAPTER XL 
More than a Handful 100 



IV CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XII. pAGt 

Bkeaches op Decokum 124 

CHAPTER XIII. 
Zanita's Schooling 131 

CHAPTER XIV. 
Zakita among the Nuns 140 

CHAPTER XV. 
A New-comer 148 

CHAPTER XVI. 
A Shadow falling befoke ,162 

CHAPTER XVII. 
An Apologt for Love . .... . , ,175 

CHAPTER XVm. 
New Symptoms and a Bbcodrse to Nature . . .188 

CHAPTER XIX. 
Au Revoir 199 

CHAPTER XX. 
A New Bud 216 

CHAPTER XXI. 
Peering over the Edge . . . . . \ « 229 

CHAPTER XXII. 
The Creeping Shadow . 238 

CHAPTER XXHL 
Over the Brink 252 

CHAPTER XXIV. 
Waking and Sleeping Terrors 267 

CHAPTER XXV. 
In her Mother's Arms . . . . . . . . . 278 

CHAPTER XXVI. 
Finis 294 



ZAI^ITA: 

A TALE OF THE TO-SEMITE. 



CHAPTER L 

KENMUIR. 

Some of the most potential episodes of our lives 
are ushered in by apparently trivial circumstances. A 
fancy, a whim, a caprice, even a movement without 
any separate act of volition, an accidental glance across 
the street, a false step over the stones, are often the 
foundations upon which some vitally important bridge 
of our lives has to be constructed. 

Trifling incidents not infrequently give birth to the 
most stupendous events. 

Thus the life-drama which I am about to narrate fell 
out in consequence of the gratification of what might 
have appeared at the time a very innocent whim. 

Caprice had been attributed to me all my life 
through : as a school-girl, by my companions, and as 
a woman, by my husband ; until I had come to believe 
it formed a part of my character. 

Yet any individual exercise of the propensity never 
warned me at the time, and it was not until my hus- 
band classified my action as a piece of caprice, that I 
came to regard it in that light. 

The verj' beginning and root of my story grew out 
of one of these trifling fancies. My husband was a s.^ 
Professor of Geology in a College of Cialifomia, and 



2 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

much of the pleasantest part of my life was spent in 
bearing him company in his geological excursions. 

We usually spent the vacations in delightfiil rambles, 
occasionally accompanied by a few of the more stu- 
dious and inquiring of his pupils, sometimes by a fellow 
Professor, and sometimes alone. 

I used to long for Commencement Day quite as 
eagerly as any overworked student. The city, and 
everything connected with the city, had by that time 
become abhorrent to me. I hated the noise, the dirt, 
the talk, the dress, my household cares, and the dry 
parched look of everything, and longed for the fresh 
green sward, the music of streams, the song, of birds, 
the sunset rambles and the still hush of moonlight 
nights; in fine for all the delights of the country. 

For? although a most practical body in the matter of 
shirt buttons, darning, and improvised dishes of unctuous 
flavor, yet there was % latent stratum of romance in my 
composition which, de temps en temps^ would bubble 
up amid my daily cares and wrestle for a recognition, 
and enfranchisement of its own. 

What then was my disappointment when the Pro- 
fessor announced that he would be detained bv business 
for a week or ten days after the term had closed. 

" This is a terrible disappointment to you I know, 
my dear," said my husband, who never thwarted me in 
anything. " But do you not think you could make a 
start oh your own account, and stop at some pretty 
place for a few days, when I could join you ? " 

Of the two evils this seemed to be the least objection- 
able. And so it was settled that I should start for 
Mariposa alone, where I duly arrived, and was en- 
joying myself with my usual zest for the country, when 
the idea, or caprice, seized upon me that it would be a 



KENMUIR. 8 

very pleasant thing to go on a little exploring expedi- 
tion on my own behalf, and prospect for the Professor 
ere he arrived. I thought if I could secure a horse 
and guide, I would wander forth in search of that mar- 
velous Valley of Yo-semite, so recently discovered by ^ 
white men, and already exciting so much interest in 
the world at large, as well as in scientific circles. 

I knew my husband had some intention of measuring 
the colossal trees, reported to be three or four hundred 
feet in height, and the granite giant, showing a ver- 
tical front of four tliousand. I thought it would be 
pleasant to forestall him. Acting upon this freak of 
fancy, I set out with my guide, Horse-shoe Bill, who, ^ 
as he informed me, derived his title, like many of the 
nobility, from having located in, and possessed himself 
of, a certain Horse-shoe Bay. 

We rode from early morn until eve through the most 
glorious country it had ever been my fate to traverse. 
Mountain rose above mountain, and tower above tower 
of rocky peaks; and, away up, mingling with the 
snowy clouds, peered the no less snowy caps of the dis- 
tant Sierra Nevadas. Here and there we could see 
green valleys nestling in among the mountains, and 
deep caBons filled with dark pines. 

" O, them's nowhar to the Valley whar I'm agoin' to 
take you ; and we can most see some of it now. Them 
three peaks as you see a topplin' over one another, a sort 
of play in' leap-frog, the Indians call Pom-pom-pas-us." 

Looking in the direction to which he pointed, I be- 
held a chaos of mountain tops and deep chasms, all 
seemingly thrown inextricably together, and apparently 
inaccessible. My heart began to fail me as to my fur- 
ther progress, when a peculiar looking object foreign to 
the scenery caught my eye. . 



4 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" What on earth is that ? " I exclaimed, reining up 
my not unwilling mustang, and pointing to the singular 
creature extending itself as though about to take wing 
from the very verge of a pinnacle overhanging a terrific 
precipice. " Is it a man, or a tree, or a bird ? " 

*' It's a man, you bet," replied my guide, chuckling. 
*' No tree or shrub as big as my fist ever found footing 
there. It's that darned idiot Kenmuir, and the sooner 
he dashes out that rum mixture of his he calls brains 
the sooner his troubles'll be over, that's my idee." 

" Its not mine though," I said decisively, " for if he 
is really crazy we are the more bound to take care of 
him. Suppose you give a shrill whistle to attract his 
attention." 

" He'll not bother for that, he'll know it's me ; but 
if you ride around this here point he'll see you belike ; 
that'll be a novel sight for him," said the guide, who was 
by no means an ill-natured man : only thoroughly im- 
bued with a recklessness of human life, which years spent 
in the wildwood seems to engender in the most humane. 

Adopting his suggestion, we quickly rounded the 
point, when the singular figure was seen swaying to 
and fro with extended arms as if moved by the wind, 
the head thrown back as in swimming, and the long 
brown hair falling wildly about his face and neck. 

The point oii which he stood was a smooth jutting 
rock only a few inches in width, and a stone thrown 
over it would fall vertically into the valley five thou- 
sand feet below. Mv heart beat fast with horrible dread 
as my guide coolly explained this fact to me. I hardly 
dared to fix my eyes upon the figure lest I should see 
it disappear, or remove them, lest it should be gone 
when I looked again. In my desperation, I exerted 
that power of will which is said to convey itself through 



KENMUIR. 6 

space without material aid. 1 strove to communicate 
with him by intangible force. The charm seemed to 
work well. He turned quickly towards me, and, with 
a spring like an antelope, was presently on terra firma 
and approaching us. 

" There, you'll have plenty on him now," said Horse- 
shoe Bill. " He loafs about this here valley gatherin' 
stocks and stones, as I may say, to be Scriptural, and ^ 
praisin' the Lord for makin' of him sech a bom fool. 
Well some folks is easy satisfied ! *' 
. As the lithe figure approached, skipping over the 
rough boulders, poising with the balance of an athlete, 
or skirting a shelf of rock with the cautious activity of ^ 
a goat, never losing for a moment the rhythmic motion 
of his flexile form, I began to think that his attitude on 
the overhanging rock might not, after all, have been so 
chimerical ; and my resolves, as to how I should treat 
this ptiase of insanity, began to waver very sensibly, 
and I fell back on that mental rear-guard, — good inten- 
tions ; but when he stood before me with a pleasant 
" Good day, madam," my perplexity increased ten-fold, 
for his bright intelligent face revealed no trace of in- 
sanity, and his open blue eyes of honest questioning, ^ 
and glorious auburn hair might have stood as a por- ^ 
trait of the angel Raphael.. His figure was about five 
feet nine, well knit, and bespoke that active grace -f 
which only trained muscles can assume. 

The guide increased my confusion by exclaiming, 
" Hallo, Ken'muir ! the lady wants to speak to you." 

I wished the guide at Jericho for giving me such 
false notions. Why had he "induced me to believe this 
man a raving maniac, only to compel me, like old 
Dogberry, to write myself down an ass, I could have 
as soon reproached one of the clouds gyrating round 
the crest of the mountain with running into danger. 



4- 



6 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" Can I do anything for you ? " asked Kenmuir 
gently. 

" She wants to know what you were doing out on 
that bloody knob overhanging etarnity ? " 

" Praising God," solemnly replied Kenmuir. 

^* Thought that would start him," interrupted the 
guide. 

« Praising God, madam, for his mighty works, his 
glorious earth, and the sublimity of these fleecy clouds, 
the majesty of that great roaring torrent," pointing to 
the Nevada, " that leaps from rock to rock in exultant 
joy, and laves them, and kisses them with caresses of 
downiest foam. O, no mother ever pressed her child 
in tenderer embrace, or sung to it in more harmonious 
melody ; and my soul joins in with all this shout of tri- 
umphant gladness, this burst of glorious life ; this 
eternity of truth and beauty and joy ; rejoices in the 
gorgeous canopy above us, in the exquisite carpet with 
which the valley is spread of living, palpitating, breath- 
ing splendor. Hearken to the hymn of praise which re- 
sounds upwards from every tiny sedge, every petal and 
calyx of myriads and myriads of flowers, all perfect, 
all replete with the divine impress of Omnipotent 
power. Shall man alone be silent and callous ? Come, 
madam, let me lead you to Pal-li-li-ma, the point I 
have just left, where you can have a more complete 
view of this miracle of nature, for I am sure you also 
can worship in this temple of our Lord." 

Here was a pretty fix for a Professor's wife, and a 
sensible woman ! I was about to put myself in the 
identical situation which but a few moments before had 
induced me to consider the man who occupied it a 
lunatic. 

Horse-shoe Bill remarked my puzzled expression. 



KENHUIR, 7 

and laughed, " Ho, he'll guide you right enough ; he 
knows every inch of the road as well as I do. You 
needn't be afeard ; he'll take you to the shanty I told 
you of, where you can locate for the night, and I'll 
make tracks back again, if so be you don't want me." 

One thought of the maniac shot through my mind, 
not as a fear, but a souvenir. I looked on the face of 
Kenmuir, shining with a pure and holy enthusiasm, 
and it reminded me of the face of a Christ I had seen v 
years ago in some little old Italian village ; not a pic- 
ture of any note, but possessing such a tender, loving, 
benignant expression, that I had never forgotten it ; 
and had then thought that the artist must have in- 
tended it for the Salvator Mundi before he became the 
Man of Sorrows. 

With this picture brought forcibly to my mind, I re- 
signed myself cheerfully, and followed his lead to the 
great projecting rock called the Glacier Point, or Pal- < 
li-li-ma, where I had first seen him, and where there 
are still traces of ancient glaciers, which he said " are 
no doubt the instruments the Almighty used in the 
formation of this valley." 

As we proceeded slowly and carefully, my thoughts 
dwelt with deep interest on the individual in advance 
of me. Truly his garments had the tatterdemalion 
style of a Mad Tom. The waist of his trousers was 
eked out with a grass band ; a long flowing sedge rush 
stuck in the solitary button-hole of his shirt, the 
sleeves of which were ragged and forlorn, and his /► 
shoes appeared to have known hard and troublous 
times. What if he had been, at some previous period, 
insane, and still retained the curious mania of believ- 
ing that human beings might through righteousness 
float in ambient air ? What if he should insist on our 



8 A TALE OF fBE YO-SEMITE. 

making the experiment this evening together ? What 
would* my husband say if he knew all, and saw me 
here committed to the sole care of this man with the 
beautiful countenance, and with no other guarantee, in 
a wilderness of mighty rocks, gigantic trees, and awfiil 
precipices, a hundred miles from anywhere 1 This was 
a very awkward thought to deal with, and there was 
no justification I could think of. What inconvenient 
but useful creatures husbands are sometimes ! If we 
should go over the rocks together, of course there 
would be an " end of everything," as Sir Peter Teazle 
says ; but in case I should survive, and recount the 
whole matter to him, as I could not help doing, then 
he would upbraid me with riding off at the risk of my 
neck, on my favorite hobby-horse. Physiognomy. 
' But, in the course of conversation with my cicerone^ 
I soon divined that his refinement was innate, his edu- 
cation colle^ate, not only from his scientific treatment 
'^ of his subject, but his correct English. Kenmuir, I 
decided in my mind, was a gentleman ; and behind 
j^ this bold rampart I resolved to intrench myself against 
s the sarcastic tiltings of the Professor. 

As we approached the point, Kenmuir said, with a 
gleefiil laugh, " I do not intend to take you out on 
the overhanging rock, where I was standing, but to a 
very nice little corner, where you can sit your horse 
comfortably, unless you really want to dismount." 

I thanked him, and, smiling at the arch allusion, 
said I would remain seated. The scene from Pal-li- 
lima was a marvel of grandeur and sublimity, and 
fully warranted the lavish enthusiasm of my new 
friend. Around us vast mountains of granite arose 
one above another in stupendous proportions, and over 
them leaped the mighty cataracts with majestic sweep. 



KENMUIR. 9 

" These are the Lord's fountains," said Kenmuir, 
clasping his hands in the intensity of his delight, " and 
away up above, elevated amid clouds, are the crests of 
the God-like peaks covered with eternal snows. These 
are the reservoirs whence He pours his floods to cheer 
the earth, to refresh man and beast, to lave every 
sedge and tiny moss ; from those exalted pinnacles 
flow the source of life, and joy, and supreme bliss to 
millions of breathing things below ; to the dreamy- 
eyed cattle that you see four thousand feet in the val- 
ley beneath us, standing knee-deep in the limpid pool ; 
to the tiny insects that are skimming in ecstatic merri- 
ment around every glistening ribbon of water as it 
falls. Look ! and see these silvery threads of water 
all hurrying down so swiftly, yet so gracefully, to bathe 
the upturned face of nature, and varnish with new bril- 
liancy her enameled breast. Beyond is the Lord's 
workshop. With these resistless glaciers he formed a 
royal road, — from the heights of the topmost Sierras 
which you now see covered with snow, roseate from 
the sun's last beams, — into the valley at our feet. Yet 
all is lovely in form, and harmonious in color. Look 
at that ledge of rock — the hardest of granite — how 
exquisitely it is tapestried with helianthemum. Would 
you like a bunch ? " 

And before I could reply, the rash man had leapt 
down, and alighted like a bird on a perch, and grasped 
a bunch of ferns, which he stroked affectionately, and 
carefully stowed away in the grass cincture, whilst 
there was but a half foot of rock between him and 
" etarnity," as the guide expressed it. 



CHAPTER n. 

A STRANGE GUIDE. 

'* Now," said Kenmair, " lest you should think I 
have brought you to this wilderness to make you be 
food for ghouls and water kelpies, I will point out the 
spot where you are to spend the night, and as many 
more as you wish.'' 

I looked round in dismay. " We seem a million 
miles from anywhere." 

" Upwards, yes," he replied, — " but look down, 
and you will see a yellow spot, surrounded by what 
appears a few willow sticks, but which are in reality 
tall pines, with the river winding round like a golden 
cord, — that is the homestead. We will go down by 
the trail, which is almost level." 

By which I found he meant a pathway, next thing to 
stairs, down which my horse clambered very adroitly. 

And thus through forests of gigantic pines, which 
Kenmuir would climb like a cat to reach some partic- 
ular cone, and point out its wonderful structure ; 
through groves of azalias, making the air heavy with 
odorous sweetness, where Kenmuir would disappear al- 
together, returning with some precious specimen, all 
which he carried to me like a faithftd dog, going twice 
the actual distance in his erratic gyrations. Then we 
came across a patch of great tiger-lilies which we were 
both anxious to culU; and at last we entered on a green 
sward smooth as any lawn, set round (as in a garden) 
by Mariposa lilies, so called from their resemblance to 
a butterfly. 






w 



A STRANGE GUIDE, 11 

The piece of level ground was in front of a massive 
rock resembling an old country house, with gables and 
quaint chimneys overgrowu with honeysuckle, which 
completed the delusion. Kenmuir threw up his arras "3< 
in ecstasy, and declared it was a fac-simile of his fa- 
ther's manse in the braw old country of Perthshire. 

" Then you are a Scotchman ? " I exclaimed. •)C 

" Yes ; did you not know that by my name ? " 

"Names," I said, "are not so indicative in this 
country as in yours. There you may almost tell if a 
man comes of a good stock, by his naniie. Whereas, 
here the greatest aristocrat might rejoice in the name 
of Squaddies with impunity. The old country is more 
fastidious about euphonious sounds, and I think they 
are right ; for I cannot help attaching a peculiar qual- 
ity to peculiar sounds." 

" What would you judge your host of this way to 
be, — his name is Oswald Naunton ? " 

" That is a name which requires a great deal of con- 
sideration. It is original. I never heard it before, and 
I am sure he will not be a common-place man. Then 
there is poetic rhythm, which would suggest something 
harmonious and symmetrical in the character. Both 
smartness and pride combined ; a man from whom you 
might safely ask a favor, but from whom you could 
extort nothing." 

"Hal ha!" laughed Kenmuir, "you're a fine 
guesser." 

" I am not guessing in the least. You give me a real 
name and I will give you the rhythmical interpretation." 

" Then you don't believe a rose would smell as sweet 
if it were called a tulip ? " 

*' I will not discuss botany with you ; but I say the 
rose by another name would not have played the same 



12 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

role in the world, would not have had the same poetical 
entourage* Lovers would not have offered it to their 
belles as emblems of their passion had it been called 
catnip I " 

The twilight now had deepened to moonlight. For 
although we could not see any moon, she had risen, and 
was taking a ramble behind the cliffs. Yet her light 
swam over the whole scenery in magic waves, trans- 
forming it to the most unearthly vision of weird en- 
chantment. Every notch and projection caught the 
soft loving liglit which fell in perfect streams over the 
mighty Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah, which seemed to have 
pierced the pale clear blue of the heavens and let out 
floods of its glistening moonlight. 

" Do you not perceive the balmy odors of the 
pines ? They also mark the height and distance of 
these stupendous adamantine bulwarks. What are the 
towers of Notre Dame, which they so singularly resem- 
ble, compared to these cathedral spires rising in proud 
majesty three thousand feet with the flying buttresses 
and ancient caryatides supporting the projecting arches !" 

" Yes," I put in. " I believe I see a procession of 
monks ascending to the great entrance of the church." 

" Those are pine-trees two hundred feet high, grow- 
ing up the ravine. Look at the rich carving and fret- 
work on the walls, and the tall minarets dazzling in 
the moon's rays." 

" And I hear the muezzin calling to prayer." 

" That is an owl," answered Kenmuir ; " and he 
says, ' Do ! do ! oh, do do ! ' Do what, I wonder ? " 

" Go on," I suggested, " for we have stopped here a 
full quarter of an hour, and our host will have retired 
for the night." 

"We will wake him up," said Kenmuir, "but he 



A STRANGE GUIDE: 13 

w ill not be asleep such a night as this, he has too much 
soul." 

" Still we had better move on," I said, recollecting what 
my former guide had turned back to say in a stage whis- 
per, — " Don't let him stop, or he'll talk till judgment 
day ; and don't let him stoop to pick up any new speci- 
men, or you'll never be through with him for a month." 

So we moved on softly, listening to the crackle of 
the pine straw which covered the earth through the 
park-like forest. 

Kenmuir had got one more temptation — the moon- 
flower. 

" Did you ever see them open to the moon ? They 
gradually untwist the outer leaves, then suddenly burst 
right open like a flash of light. I have watched them 
many an hour ; they belong to the family cenothera." 

" Stay I I'll hold your horse," he said, as I made a 
quiet attempt to keep jogging on. 

" Now, my dear sir," I exclaimed, " how long do 
you think it will take the flower to open ? or do you 
think you can inspire it with the amiable idea to do so 
within sixty seconds, because longer than that I cannot 
wait, and I'm all on the qui vive to see if my nomencla- 
tology^ that is what I call my new science, for it has a 
right to an 'ology, is correct as regards Mr. Naunton." 

The flower did not open, and we sped on again, 
our shadows clearly defined on the grassy meadows 
which were studded with flowers, whose broad discs 
were like stars of the first magnitude. 

" Do you see that light ? That proves they are not 
gone to bed, and your fears may rest." 

Through the trees a bright light was glimmering ; 
not unwelcome it appeared, for beside the excitement 
which so much novelty and magnificence are sure to 



14 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

arouse in certain temperaments, the bodily fatigue of 
so many hours of up-hill and down-hill climbing on 
horseback, made the prospect of rest very thoroughly 
congenial. 

What romantic temperament has not fed the soul 
with the marvelous and supernatural on such a night 
as this ; when arriving either late at night or by moon- 
• • light in some unknown part of the country, he has 
pictured himself benighted and lost in the forest or the 
fog ; the night owl, or the will-o'-the-wisp, has been 
his only guide, and when a light has at length startled 
his aching sight, has imagined it the gleam of the 
lantern of some midnight assassins burying their dead ; 
or fancied it proceeding from some monastery, where 
silence was the discipline, and where the brown cowled 
monk, who attended upon us dumbly, pointed to the 
pallet in a bare cell as the resting-place for the night. 

Who has not frightened himself with a vague super- 
stition, like children with a made-up bogle, the more to 
enjoy the pleasures of security. 

But this evening there was no need to conjure up 
any phantom of the brain ; no occasion to counterfeit 
any romance; the reality was too importunately present. 

Here w^as I, a lone woman having transgressed her 
Im husband's directions to await him in a civilized place, 
alone in the wildest part of the wild world, with a 
stranger — the like of whom I had never met in all my 
travels — wandering on an untrodden path to a habitation 
of which I knew next to nothing. It was certainly as 
extraordinary and romantic a situation as any lover of 
fiction could have framed. But my ruminations were 
cut short by our actual arrival, and a wild hallo from 
Kenmuir to arouse the inmates. 



CHAPTER ni. 

THE DAUGHTERS OF AH-WAH-NEE. 

A MORE charming abode never gladdened the eyes 
of the weary traveller, tlian that which rose before me 
as I saw it in the moonlight. 

An Italian cottage, with wide and tasteful veranda, 
over which grape-vine and wisteria were contending ^ 
for each morsel of trellis- work. It was constructed of 
the rich yellow cedar, each knot and contortion of 
grain showing out like lumps of burnished gold ; the 
pointed gabled roof was shaded by an enormous oak, 
with trunk some twelve feet in diameter, whose broad 
leaves lay on the yellow shifigles, like sea-weed on a 
sandv beach. 

In a semi-circle grew tall pines, the Douglass fir, 
and cedars, the lower spaces filled in with maples, and / 
occasionally a quercus virens. 

A small plot of garden, with choice flowers clustered 
around the veranda ; and beyond, the river wound in . 

serpentine curves green and clear, silvered here and 
there by the moonlight, and reflecting the summits of 
the great mountains. Such a fairy-like site I had never 
even read of in my youthful story-books. 

" And how did it get here ? " I exclaimed, " that 
beautiful bijou cottage amid these fierce and ragged 
rocks ? Was it borne through the air from Italy or ^ 
Switzerland, on the wings of seraphs, like the Casa 
Santa de Loretto.'^^ 

" You've got to see my saw-mill, and then you will ^ 
know how it all came about." 



16 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

*' For goodness sake," quotli I, " don't destroy my 
poetic hallucination by suggestions of a saw-mill I " 

Kenmuir laughed one of his joyous, ringing laughs, 
and mine host appeared at the door. Little introduc- 
tion seemed necessary ; he had me off my horse in the 
twinkling of an eye, seated in one of the easiest chairs 
I know of, — and I am a connoisseur in those articles, 
I — with a pinkish-colored California wine sparkling in 
an antique glass before me. And here I was in two 
minutes as cosy and comfortable as though I had called 
a queen my cousin. 
I Mr. Naunton was a tall, spare man of fifty, but look- 
ing ten years older, from his long snowy beard and the 
few white locks which still adorned his fine phrenologi- 
cally developed head ; his brilliant dark eyes shone with 
charity and humor. There was a benignant sweetness 
about his whole demeanor that made you feel at once 
that he would become the best friend you ever had, 
and I longed to impart to Mr. Kenmuir the correctness 
of my divination. 

He wore no coat or vest ; and his trousers, which 
were very loose, had the same tendency as Mr. Ken- 
muir's, requiring to be hitched up, which I subse- 
quently found was . an epidemic in the Valley among 
the nether garments. 

Upon his shoulder he carried, as a part and parcel 
of his natural appendage, a lovely child about two or 
three years old, who poised herself on her elevated sta- 
tion with one little dimpled hand on the top of the bald 
I head. She M^as a fair, blue-eyed, flaxen-haired little 
^ creature, the living picture of one of Raphael's angels ; 
cheeks like two luscious ripe peaches, and rounded 
limbs jj^mpled all over. 

Before my eyes could satiate themselves with this 



THE DAUGHTERS OP AH^WAH-^NEE. 17 

lovely vision, I was interrupted by a sharp little nip 
on my arm, and turning, beheld the most midnight 
prototype of face I have ever seen in a human being, 
much less a child of six years. 

It had all the character of the portraits of Mrs. Sid- 
dons taken as Lady Macbeth, where she is washing out 
the '' damned spot.' ' Her face was thin but oval, the 
eyes piercing black, with delicately penciled lines, 
squaring a Grecian brow, broad and low, with that 
fixed limning which gives a stare or habitual frown to 
the face. Her complexion was the richest brunette 
hue with a pure vermilion tinge on the cheeks, which 
had little of the roundness of childhood ; her mouth 
was small, with thin, compressed lips, but her chin was 
of extraordinary depth and power. The hair was 
dark, fine, and silky. 

A more startling little vision, as she emerged from 
the shadow into the blaze of the great fire, never 
roused into activity a weary traveller whose sensa- 
tional emotions were nearly all exhausted. 

The little hand with which she had pinched me to 
call my attention, was long and slender, the fingers so 
tapered that it looked like the hand of some little hob- 
goblin. 

"Say ! " she ejaculated, with another pinch, — " lis- 
ten ! Where do you come from, where are you going, 
what made you come ; do you want to camp out ? I'll 
go with you. We had better start before the moon 
goes down ; have you plenty of blankets ? It's only 
twenty miles to the top of Tis-sa-ak. I'll show you 
the trail. I've just come down to-day ; me and my 
sister have been camping up there some time ; we 
killed twenty bears. You are not afraid of rattle- 
snakes, I suppose ; there is one just below here that 

2 



* • 






18 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

has bitten me three times, but I always cut the piece 
out with my jack-knife, and it did me no harm." 

" What is your name ? " I asked, by way of min- 
gling in the talk. 

^^ My name ' is Zanita, because I was bom amongst 
these rocks, which are all covered with Manzanita. It 
bears a pretty white blossom ; and mamma, who is 
crazy for flowers, called me Zanita after them. Do 
you like it ? " 

" Very much," I said ; " both the name and the 
idea are beautiful." 

*' Say ! " she went on, " do you like me? " 

" I shall tell you to-morrow ; if you are good I 
shall like you." 

" I'm not good," she answered, rapidly. " Do you 
want a polecat skin ? I'll just go out and catch and 
skin one alive, and bring it to you." 

" No, no, thank you, certainly not ! " I replied, in 
some horror, lest the offer might be put into execution 
by this wonderful little Flyaway. 

A mischievous elfish light gleamed in her black eyes 
for a second ; it was not a laugh, and could hardly be 
called a smile, for the mouth did not move, yet it was 
the nearest approach to either that I ever saw pass 
over that handsome little face. 

" Suppose I shoot it, and keep it oflP, far, far away, 
so that you can't smell it." 

" That will be much better," I replied. 

All this she snapped out in a short, rapid way, with 
the utmost nonchalance, as if it were the common 
matter-of-fact proceeding of every day. Her voice was 
wiry, and sounded more like that of an old woman's 
thai^ child. 

All my phrenological faculties were brought to in- 



THE DAUGHTERS OF AH-WAH-NEE. 19 

stant play, and I was so preoccupied in my new human 
specimen that I did not at first notice the entr?nce of 
another personage, who seemed to glide rather than 
walk, and about whose every look and motion there 
was such a calmness and repose, that she might have 
represented the Goddess of Placitude. 

She was introduced to me as Mrs. Naunton, and she 
uttered a few gentle words of welcome in a tone which 
sounded like the vibration of an ^olian lyre, so soft 
and musical was her voice. 

She was a young woman, looking little over twenty, 
a slight, semi-girlish semi-matronly figure, with a Ma- 
donna cast of countenance, deep, pensive hazel eyes, a 
blush-rose complexion, and brown hair. 

She moved dreamily, as if under a spell ; and as she 
stood speaking to me, plucked meditatively the remains 
of a flower which she seemed to be studying botan- 
ically. She conducted me to a quaint bedroom that I 
found would take me all night to investigate, the scru- 
tiny of which, therefore, I postponed until the next 
day. 

After I had taken oflp my things, and refreshed my- 
self with a wash, I returned to the sitting-room, still 
accompanied by the small sprite, who kept up a contin- 
ual rattle of propositions, all of the most fabulous na- 
ture, for scaling rocks and fording rivers, as though we 
had been bom elves instead of flesh and blood creat- 
ures. 

A Chinaman was laying the table for supper, with 
the gliding aid of the Madonna. While she was thus 
engaged, I had time to examine the room, which was 
a singular admixture of rustic simplicity and modern 
refinement. It was a large chamber opening^n the 
veranda, and its walls running up to the ftdl neight 



20 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

of the house without the intervention of any ceiling ; 
tlie massive rafters illumined by the flickering flame, 
displayed some curiosities of natural history, — such as 
hornets' nests, which, after remaining tenantless for 
several years, had again become inhabited by sundry 
enterprising yellow-jackets; a few lichens had vigor- 
ously contrived to struggle through some crevice, and 
garland the antique roof; and part of the vine which 
wreathed the porch had found some tiny nook or crev- 
ice through which to twine its delicate tendrils. The 
walls were of the same rich yellow cedar as the out- 
side, and were paneled with the deep claret-colored 
Manzanita wood, and decorated with pictures, some 
fine engraving of the best masters, or an oil painting 
of a striking scene in the Valley. On one side was a 
book -case stocked with choice volumes of standard 
works, literary, scientific, ideal, and artistic ; at the 
opposite side was an enormous chimney-place formed 
of four slabs of granite ; the hearthstone, a great slab 
of the same stone, extended some five feet into the 
room. Great logs, five or six feet long, raised on an- 
tique irons, blazed and crackled, and sent forked flames 
high up the capacious chimney. 

It was a treat to see that fire bum ; it seemed so 
thoroughly in earnest to enjoy and lavish itself in such 
a luxurious splendor ; it roared, and sparkled, and 
leaped for gladness ; the light white ash fell so soft and 
tenderly around, like some cozy old grandmother hem- 
ming in her unruly, frolicsome children. The furni- 
ture was principally rustic : a broad divan covered 
with handsome skins ; the easy-chair before mentioned, 
made of the gnarled branches of Manzanita, and lined 
with jsfhite woolly skins ; an Stagere filled with won- 
derful fossils and crystals, specimens of gold and silver 



THE DAUGHTERS OF AH-WAH-NEE, 21 

quartz, feldspar, and stalactites* A magnificent eagle, 
the defunct veteran of Eagle Point, spread his giant 
wings in one corner of the room, and a comical old 
cinnamon bear, with very red glass eyes, sat up on his 
haunches in another ; his paws and snout served for a 
coat and hat-rack. 

In a deep frame, covered with glass, was a dried 
bouquet of the wild flowers of the Valley. It was easy 
to see the feminine hand which had been here. There ' 
were rustic tables, and an escritoire decorated with pine 
cones, acorns, and hickory nuts, and yellow pine bark, 
resembling the most elaborate oak carving. There 
were delicate baskets, suspended from the roof, of gray 
and yellow fungi, and containing great flourishing 
bunches of the wood warelias, forming a living Prince 
of Wales's feather. 

Each window was a separate conservatory, where 
grew the singular blood-plant, so called from its stem, 
leaves, and flowers being all of a flesh and blood color. 
A bobolink and grossbeak rivaled each other in an 
opposition duet. A guitar, and a few scraps of manu- 
script, might have told more for the talent than the 
tidiness of the author. Such was the general coup d'oeil 
which riveted mv attention. 

With the gliding aid of the Madonna an excellent 
supper of cold venison pie, smoking hot new potatoes, 
and green peas, was soon on the table. To which, after 
tlie entrance of Kenmuir and Oswald Naunton, with the 
Rosebud perched aloft on his shoulder, I addressed myself 
in real earnest, believing meanwhile that I had actually 
penetrated into fairy land, or, more vulgarly speaking, 
" fallen into clover." Kenmuir and the Madonna en- - / 
tered into a most intricate botanical discussion. . The 
former all vigor, and arguing in little puffs and dashes, 



22 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

wliile the latter glided out her sentences like soft falling 
snow. 

I explained to my host the reason of my sudden ad- 
vent, and the joke I had played upon the Professor ; 
which he applauded, and praised my courage in pio- 
neering my own way. He expatiated, with great 
fluency and perfect knowledge of his subject, on the 
marvels, geological, botanical, and natural, of the Valley, 

" You need not tell me of the flowers, if these two 
have bloomed here," I said, indicating the Rosebud 
and Sprite. 

" Yes," he said, " these are the daughters of Ah- 
wah-nee. They were born in the Valley, and have 
never been outside its granite fastnesses." 

" I thought," I remarked, " that my guide had called 
the Valley Yo-semite." 

" Yes," replied my host, " tTiat is the name which 
custom has now sanctioned. It means " great grizzly 
bear," and the name arose from a celebrated Indian 
chief having killed one with a club, a wonderful feat 
in this valley. But the original Indian name previous 
to that was Ah-wah-nee. We have called the chil- 
dren after the most profuse flowers here — the man- 
zanita and rose — Zanita, and Rosalind. But Rosalind 
is such a contented happy little creature that Cozy 
seems the most appropriate appellation." 

As I looked upon this artistic group, lit up by the 

varying flame of the pitch-pine fire, I could not help 

• believing that this family, shut in from the outer world, 

' yet with all the refinement of civilization, was surely 

one of the natural wonders of the Valley. 

In spite of the adventures of the day, we still sat up 
round the fire until late in the night. The conversa- 
tion was sparkling, and certainly original ; and it was 



THE DAUGHTERS OF AH-WAH-NEE. 23 

difficult to believe that I was a stranger amongst them, 
and had not been with them all my life. The little 
chubby rosebud lay asleep in her mother's lap ; and the 
elf, with unwinking eyes, kept her post at my side, 
every now and then, sotto voee^ hazarding a plan for a 
new expedition. 

Kenmuir's laugh rang clear up to the rafters as he 
promised to induct me into the mysteries of the saw- 
mill on the morrow. 

But once under the snowy sheets, I slept the sleep 
of the just, dreamless, and without waking, until the 
sun shone bright through my vine-latticed window next 
morning. 



CHAPTER IV. 



A day's pleasure. 



■ 

Where was I ? Was it all a midsummer night's 
dream ? The question was answered by a little sharp 
voice snapping out, — 

" Don't you waijt to come and bathe ? The river 
is just deep enough to drown father in some places ; 
but you can take your shoes and stockings off." And 
through my half-closed lids I saw^ my fairy of the pre- 
vious evening, with the miniature frown still on her face, 
and a worried look, as though she had the cares of the 
world on her slender shoulders. 

" Hurry up 1 " she said ; " we have to catch the fish 
for breakfast. I can hook five or a dozen " (her con- 
ception of numbers was not very profound), " and if 
that is not enough we can get th'em from the Indians. 
You need not be afraid of that Indian squatting on the 
rock with his bow drawn : he'll not shoot you unless 
you cross their trail. He 's waiting for a Payute to 
come ; they've been at war. I'll take care of you. 
They always shoot with poisoned arrows ; do you know 
it ? I'm not a bit afraid of them," she said, and the 
same uncanny light, which symbolized a smile, shot 
from her eyes. 

Upon the most positive promise that I would prepare 
immediately if she would leave me, I succeeded in send- 
ing her forth to collect fishing tackle ; and shortly 
after breakfast was announced by the sweet voice of 
Madonna. 



A DATS PLEASURE, 25 

Looking through my trellis work of vine leaves, 
my eyes wandered up what appeared a mile of per- 
pendicular rock, without ever meeting the sky. The 
morning sun was bringing out upon it the softest gray 
tints streaked with burnished silver. Here and there 
a tuft of spirea was clinging, by some occult process, to 
the smooth rock ; and the feathery branches of the 
spruce and tamarack were defined against its glistening 
surface, as though thev had been frescoed there. I 
could hear the booming of the great Yo-semite fall like 
a distant park of artillery. 

The breakfast did as much honor to the housekeep- 
ing as the supper of the previous evening. Fresh trout, 
poached eggs, fried ham, strawberries with the morn- 
ing dew upon them, and delicious cream and butter, 
made a meal for a sybarite. 

Then arose the different proposals for the day's en- 
tertainment. Mr. Naunton offered to saddle my horse 
and convey me to a near view of the magnificent 
double waterfalls, the Py-wy-ack and the Yo-wee-ye, 
which I had seen in the distance the day before. 
Kenmuir was full of some aeronaut scheme to the 
clouds somewhere between Tissa-ack and the moon. 
Mrs. Naunton insinuated that as I must feel fatigued 
after my long journey, we had better meander round 
the. pleasant meadows, and carves of the river, and 
watch the trout if we could not catch them. 

Miss Zanita was eagerly bent upon a bear hunt, her- 
self to be armed with a double-barreled rifle. Cozy 
prattled off that portion of each proposal that her coral 
lips could turn the easiest, and lisped out, "saddle 
horse, fissis, big bear, and sifle," at which her great 
blue eyes sparkled with rapture, and she clapped her 
little dimpled hands and laughed like the ripple of 
summer water. 



26 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

Amongst all these inviting tenders of amusement 
it was difficult to choose. Kenmuir's celestial trip, 
as being the most impracticable, was the first to fall 
through. 

Zanita paced to and fro in the heat of her argument 
in favor of the bear hunt, urging how easy it was to 
kill the bear before he could come upon us. 

Mr. Naunton's journey having been reckoned at 
fourteen miles, there and back, besides a good deal of 
hard climbing, was voted too fatiguing for the second 
day's excursion; and the Madonna, like all quiet, soft 
spoken women, gained her point. 

Zanita was pacified by the offer of the porter's place 
in bearing a long fishing-rod and basket. 

And there tantalizingly, skimming from pool to pool 
in the limpid water, were scores of speckled trout, all 
singularly cognizant of the fact that our admiration for 
them was of that ardent nature that we longed to eat 
them. 

As Mrs. Naunton, whom we shall call by her given 
name of Placida, glided gracefully on with one golden 
haired child in her arms, and the other with its deep 
midnight gaze clinging to her dress, she seemed to me 
the model for the poet's lines : 

" And dark against day's golden death 
She moved where Iradis wandereth. 

A sweeter woman ne'er drew breath 
Than my son's wife Elizabeth." 

" Very probably," replied Mr. Naunton, amused by 
this suggestion, and a humorous twinkle came in his 
bright eyes, " with the slight difference that she is my 
wife, not my son's." 

This matter of relationship having been settled, we 



A DAYS PLEASURE. 27 

set forth upon one of those delightful strolls which must 
live in the twilight remembrance of every one, unless 
a Cockney or a Parisian, who have never been outside 
of their capital, who are so satisfied to see their peas 
ready shelled and their chickens ready trussed, that they 
are contented to believe they actually grew that way, 

A pious London cook once remarked to her mistress, 
as she was about placing a large turkey to the fire, 
" Ain't this a blessing of Providence, ma'am, for this 
here skiver to grow right in the middle of this fine fat 
turkey ? Why without that I never could get him all 
roasted." She had never seen a live turkey in her 
life, though she had roasted five hundred. 

But outside the Cockney and Parisian world, every 
man, woman, and child ought to remember a holiday 
in the country, when they gathered wild flowers for 
their sweethearts, and wild berries for their children. 
Who has not felt as if translated into a new state of 
being, to a higher existence, when suddenly transported 
from the noise and turmoil and worry of a city, the in- 
cessant clang of machinery or the monotonous roll of 
street cars, to some peacefiil Arcadia. And then what 
ecstasy to breathe in the stillness of the country, to listen 
only to those ethereal tones which may be the whisper- 
ing of beatified spirits around us, or the tread of 
angels. There is a music in the hushed calm which 
speaks to the soul with an intensity of vibration, un- 
aroused by the most stirring scenes of city life ; awak- 
ening emotions too deep and spiritualized to be inter- 
preted to the outer world, and which, though never 
appearing in garish day, dwell ever in the chiaroscuro 
of that dreaming spirit within us, to whom we all bow 
down in reverence. And on such days as these we 
commune with this mystic indweller of our interior life 



28 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

as with our guardian angel, and sweet and holy is the 
converse. 

We walked upon a carpet of greenest sward, be- 
sprinkled with blossoms of nature's brightest dye. 
Many of the valley flowers were as yet unknown to 
botanists ; and it was amusing to hear Kenmuir dis- 
puting with himself as to what genus they appertained. 

" Now, you would never believe, madam, that this 
tiny fellow belonged to the family of the composite I 
and yet you perceive*' — * 

" O, I am credulous to any extent," I interrupted, 
" and am prepared to believe any proposition you may 
lay before me to-day. I feel in too placid a state of 
mind to dispute on any topic; but when we get the 
Professor here, he will fight you tooth and nail as to 
the origin of everything. There never was such a 
man for doubting ; he is not satisfied yet whether he 
is dreaming a life, or living a dream ! You will find 
him delightful company." 

" I am sure I shall," replied Kenmuir. 

" I hope," said Mr. Kaunton, " that he will give us 
some satisfactory theory about the formation of the 
Valley." 

" O, I can tell you his opinion about that. He be- 
lieves it was the bed of a great river from which the 
bottom fell out in the wreck of creation ; the water 
subsided to the present level, and gradually dried off 
to this little river, vegetation taking its place every- 
where." 

" Good gracious 1 " exclaimed Kenmuir, " there 
never was a ' wreck of creation.' As though the Lord 
did not know how to navigate. No bottom He made 
ever fell out by accident. These learned men pretend 
to talk of a catastrophe happening to the Lord's works, 



A DATS PLEASURE. 29 

as though it were some poor trumpery machine of their 
own invention. As it is, it was meant to be." 

" Why ! I can show the Professor where the mighty 
cavity has been grooved and wrought out for milhons 
of years. A day and eternity are as one in His mighty 
workshop. I can take you where you can see for yourself 
how the glaciers have labored, and cut and carved, 
and elaborated, until they have wrought out this royal 
road." • 

Here Placida came to the rescue with a delicate per- 
ception, that I might feel hurt by this wholesale de- 
" struction of my husband's theory. 

" Do you notice the peculiar spring of the branches 
out of the cedar ? Unlike other trees, they appear as 
though a hole had been made in the main trunk, and 
the bough fitted in like the socket of a Dutch doll's 



arm." 



" Yes," I replied, " and also how singular is the hor- 
izontal growth of the limbs, while the main body is so 
perpendicular." 

" Some of these trees are little short of three thou- 
sand years old," said Mr. Naunton. " And if we un- 
derstood the low murmuring of their branches, they 
could doubtless explain many a mystery we now puz- 
zle our brains over." 

*' They tell it to the birds," put in Zanita, " and the 
birds will tell it to nae. I know what the birds say ; Mu- 
wah, our Indian, teaches me." 

" Well, what is that bird saying now ? That bright 
little fellow," I said, pointing, "with the top-knot of 
blue plumes." 

Her eyebrows contracted as she looked earnestly at 
him, and I thought for a moment the little sorceress 
was at fault. I was mistaken. 



80 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" He sajs," she interpreted, " ' Yonder is a straw- 
berry patch with fine ripe strawberries.' Don't you 
hear him ? It 's real plain." 

The same dark twinkle shot from her eyes ; she 
knew well she had triumphed. We all laughed, and 
asked to be escorted to the patch of fresh fruit whose 
fragrant bed she needed no bird to help her to find ; in 
fact there was scarcely a spot high or low that those 
venturesome little feet had not explored. 

The Valley was some eight miles long, and about a 
mile and a half in width, inclosed by immense bul- 
warks of granite, always precipitous, and sometimes 
ascending vertically a mile in height ; occasionally ad- 
vancing into the greensward in a stupendous colon- 
nade, or massive single tower ; sometimes receding into 
a cavernous amphitheatre, like the interior quadrangle 
of some ancient chateau-fort, simulating the domes of 
cathedrals, and minarets of mosques, and Chinese pa- 
godas. Both ends of the Valley were closed by a 
canon, or deep ravine ; on the one end the river en- 
tered from the top. It came with a leap from the 
Cloud's Rest, the highest point seen from the Valley, 
and dashed down in two falls and a series of cataracts 
into the plain below, where it meandered round white 
sandy banks, the most tranquil and peace-loving little 
river in the world, shimmering coyly as for the sole 
benefit and habitation of the speckled trout jumping in 
its limpid waters. At the other end it stole quietly 
out through a rugged fastness, and was lost sight of in 
the deep canon. 

Upon which ever side we gazed, these towering bat- 
tlements met the skies. Their jagged summits cutting 
the horizon in clear, pointed slants and zigzags, carved 
it into the curious form of a dandelion leaf. The blue 



A DATS PLEASURE, 81 

vault above was the exact size and shape of the green 
valley below ; so much of earth and heaven was encom- 
passed by the granite walls, and all the rest of the 
great world was excluded. No sound but of Nature's 
broke the stillness. 

" And yet one might fancy there were a number 
of carpenters at work," I said, as we paused to listen 
to the rap-a-tap-tap of the woodpecker. 

*' There he goes," said my host ; " you can see him 
at work with his long chisel beak and scarlet hammer- 
head, working away faster than you can count the evo- 
lutions ; he has bored a hole in that tree as rapidly as 
a joiner with his auger, and he has made it the exact 
size to fit in his acorn. I can show you trees perfo- 
rated with a thousand holes as close as a honeycomb ; 
for these little birds have not only to provide their own 
winter food, but are fully conscious of the fact that the 
squirrels will rob them of the greater portion of their 
stores. And so it is in human nature," continued Mr. 
Naunton ; " one half the world labors from dawn to 
dewy eve, and often by midnight oil, that the other 
half may prey upon them, and despoil them of the 
fruits of their labor. It is a common saying, that one 
half the world does not know how the other half lives ; 
but it is a problem easily solved. They live upon the 
said other half, as do the squirrels on the woodpeckers. 
Take the father of a family. For years he has paSsed 
six days of every seven sitting on that hard stool in 
that dismal counting-house, and has induced five or six 
young men, upon the alternative of keeping their spirit 
within their body, to do likewise ; for the sole end and 
object that his lady wife and elegant daughters may 
sweep the street with their silks and velvets. He takes 
a hurried meal at a chop-house on week-days, and a 



82 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

cold slice on Sundays, in order that the servants may 
get out the sooner. Upon that day of rest he leaves 
his hard stool and perambulates to church, and during 
the service has a quiet time to himself, to arrange for 
the coming week, and speculate how he can best utilize 
his time by making a review of the past, and pruden- 
tial resolves for thd future. Yet he is an independent 
merchant, with a heavy account at his bankers. There 
is no difficulty in discerning that he is the woodpecker, 
and his lady wife and daughters are the squirrels. 
There is * the man of enterprise,' fashionably dressed, 
with the weightiest diamonds in his shirt-front ; his 
buggy, or saddle-horse, awaiting his pleasure. He has 
started every sort of * company ' that a high-sounding 
name could be tacked to. He is a great talker, with 
an immense flow of language, and delights in the dis- 
play of it. He has talked every one's money out of 
their pockets to supply his need. He never did one 
hour's labor, mentally or physically, but has lived all 
his life in affluence on his neighbors' acorns. Some- 
times it falls pretty hard on the woodpeckers ; some 
ravenous squirrels will not only help themselves to the 
superfluities laid by, but eat up the hard-earned share 
of the laborer. Look into that wretched garret, where 
dwells a mother, a son, and two daughters. The son, 
with his hands in his pockets, is loafing round the cor- 
nei*of the street, waiting for acorns to turn up without 
the seeking. The mother is trimming her pretty taper 
nails, and explaining to her daughters how she always 
kept them unsplit, and of perfect filbert shape. The 
elder daughter is arranging dead men's beards into 
pads in her hair, to give her head the proportions of 
an idiot's. But the second daughter, who is the wood- 
pecker of the family, is stitching away at the bodice 



/ 



A DATS PLEASURE, 33 

of a dress, others lying about half completed. Her 
nimble fingers, filbert nails all cut short, go as fast as 
the head of the little woodpecker boring his holes, to 
complete those seams, and bring home the acorns, upon 
which the rest of the family live idly ; the share re- 
maining for the woodpecker is infinitesimally small. 

" * Jane, how can you sit over those seams and 
flounces day after day, and night after night ? I am 
sure it would kill me. I would let the people wait ! ' 
exclaims the sister. 

" She may be quite sure in process of time it will 
kill Jane, and she will wait for her acorns. But they 
soon look out for another woodpecker, for people never 
change their natures, any more than the Ethiopian his 
skin." 

Whilst Mr. Naunton had been speaking, we had all 
gathered round the strawberry patch, and been fed by 
Zanita and Rosalind with the choicest morsels. But 
here the dulcet voice of Placida broke in with the sug- 
gestion that if we were going to continue such disqui- 
sitions, we had better adjourn to a seat near the Yo- 
semite Fall, " where the roar," she added, naively, 
" would serve for applause at the end of Oswald's 
speech." 

'* There is Zanita, like a tricksy squirrel, far away 
up the rocks already," I exclaimed. 

"I hope she is not in search of that polecat she 
promised you," said her father, laughing, "for it 
would be the most uncomfortable present I ever heard 
of." 

8 



CHAPTER V. 

SQUIRREIJSM. 

We made our way toward the foot of the Falls, 
over rugged rocks garlanded profusely with the most 
exquisite flowers. Kenmuir soon became rapturous in 
his intense enjoyment of the music of the falling water, 
— falling as it seemed from the very heaven above us, 
almost three thousand feet,^ to where it broke at our 
feet in a whirlwind of spray. 

*' It is the most glorious orchestra in the world," he 
.exclaimed. " Listen to the wondrous harmony I No 
instrument out of tune, none wiry or reedy ; all is 
pure, rich, full, and resonant. Hark to the trombones ! 
how they boom out their parts ; and the delicate, rip- 
pling flute, too, is as clear and prominent as any ! All 
the stringed instruments surge through, as if with one 
bow and set of strings, in a rush of liquid melody. 
There is no wavering in time or tune. And the fugue 
is led off by the clarionets (those streams of silver 
just divided from the main fall) with a precision that 
is followed up in the allegro^ enough to drive an im- 
pressario frantic with excitement and delight. Mark 
you that lyre-like boulder upon which the. principal 
bulk of the water falls ; there is no silver kettle-drum 
to equal it in its full volume of harmonious roar, in 
perfect accordance with the rest of the instruments. 
Obseri'^e, Mrs. Brown, — you who are a musician, — 
that chromatic scale, executed by the first and tenor 

1 Twenty-seren hundred feet in one continuous leap. 



SQUIRRELISM. 35 

violins I Cremona never made such perfect instru- 
ments, nor has Paganini executed such perfect per- 
formance. It is effected by the wind raising the whole 
body of water, and switching it over the rocks. O, I 
love to climb up into that top chamber, — the great 
Concert Hall, — and hear the liquid roll of music all 
night long ! " cried K«nmuir. 

" Of course you cannot sleep," I said, " with the 
noise and the damp ? " 

" O yes ; and believe myself in something brighter 
than what you call Paradise, with angels playing harps 
and cherubims singing eternal hallelujahs." 

We all laughed at the idea of the Yo-semite Fall 
making better music than the cherubims and seraphims. 

" Tell me," cried Kenmuir, a little irritated at our 
seeming skepticism, " do you believe that hallelujahs 
and harps could be finer harmony than this water 
music r 

" Upon my word," I replied, " from my knowledge 
of instruments, as you have enumerated them, I do 
not think any could be finer in the form of natural 
music than this." 

" Then, why do you set up artificial before natural 
music? Man's trumpery inventions, before God's 
great works ! " 

" Heaven forbid that I should ! But you premised 
the harps in heaven, and asked my opinion thereon, 
which was favorable to your water-music theory." 

" Yes, yes I " replied Kenmuir, pacified ; " but since 
you admit the superiority of this music, will you not 
also acquiesce in my doctrine, that the Paradise which 
our preachers are always locating here and there out 
of reach, and furnishing with harps, and fountains, 
and jewels, and gold, is often in our very midst, ring- 



36 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

iiig in our ears, flashing under our eyes, if we were not 
so stupidly deaf and confoundedly blind as not to perceive 
it. The greatest truism ever written, is, — ' Having 
eyes and seeing not, having ears and hearing not.' 
Man might as well be bom without — 



t< t 



Eyes which only serve, at most, 

To guard their master from 'gainst a post.' 

For my part, I would never pray the Lord for a greater 
display of grandeur than that with whose fulgency my 
soul is satisfied. Moses was an arrogant ass to ask the 
Lord to show him his glory I Could he not see it all 
around, if he opened his eyes ? " wound up Kenmuir, 
in a state of excitement with that biblical autocrat. 

" Well, well 1 " laughed Oswald Naunton, * your 
Bible reading does not seem conducive to your pa- 
tience ; but let me remiyid you of one thing in your 
Eden, which you seem to have forgotten. Where are 
your angels ? " 

I believed Kenmuir to be in a dilemma, and came 
jokingly to the rescue. '* Angels are said to be ^ few 
and far between,' but here is one," touching Placida, 
" and here is a cherubim, as round and fair as ever 
Guide portrayed on canvas." 

The angel thus indicated suffused a rose-blush very 
angelic to behold, and warbled out, in her luscious 
voice, the little ditty, — 

" ' If I'm an angel, where 's my wings ? 

Tiral la, tiral li.' 

Kenmuir, can you furnish me with flying epaulets ? " 

The cherub, from the effects of a titillating pinch, 
trilled out a stave of honeyed laughter, her blue eyes 
radiating mellow beams of sunny mirth. But our 
Eden, as of yore, was presently invaded by the unrest- 



SQUIRRELISM, 37 

fill spirit of Zanita, who came flying down over the 
rocks in hot haste after a squirrel she had unearthed ; 
His bushy tail, like a bright silver spray, was to be seen 
bounding from rock to rock, in desperate effort to es- 
cape his equally erratic pursuer. One bound brought 
him in the midst of ns, and then the plumy tail disap- 
peared altogether. 

" O, papa ! Kenmuir I shoot him I catch him ! " 
screamed Zanita, her black eyes flashing with eager 
thirst for her prey. " I want his tail for a broom, to 
sweep out my stable with ! " 

*' O no, not shoot him 1 " sobbed the cherub, her 
soft eyes looking piteously through their humid glow. 

But Zanita stamped and chafed with the discomfiture 
and vexation. 

" What a subject for an allegorical picture of Pity 
and Sport," I said to Kenmuir, as the mother pressed 
the little tender heart to her own, " and what a con- 
trast between the two sisters." 

" Yes," he replied, gathering a small plant at his 
feet. " Do you see the exquisite form and redundance, 
of grace in the petals and lobes of this flower, growing 
upon the same stem with this other mean, shabby, 
gnarled, and twisted one, adding lustre to the other by 
mere force of contrast ? — yet, nevertheless, the poor 
little scraggy fellow contains a fine fruit, which he will 
develop at the proper time. The Lord is never un- 
just : it is we who lay down such narrow premises, and 
draw such puny inferences." 

" By the way," I said, turning to Mr. Naunton, 
" that squirrel recalls our moral squirrel conversation, 
and I want to ask you if this squirrelism is not prac- 
ticed, to a great extent amongst the Indian tribes in and 
about the Valley ? " 



38 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

" No," replied he, stroking his white beard thought- 
fiilljr. " No, I cannot say it is to a greater extent than 
in civilized life. It is true that the women carry the 
heavy burdens, whilst the man walks at his ease, with 
his bow and arrow, or rifle. But if he were burdened, 
he could not pursue the game whenever it should ap- 
pear, which is often the only flesh meat they know. If 
we consider that the Indians approach the nearest in 
their practice the pure idea of republicanism, — equal- 
ity, fraternity, and indivisibility, — we shall see that the 
squaw is only a detail, and matter of necessity, to the 
carrying out of the system. They live in tribes with 
Mens en commune^ and labor in common, too. The 
man takes the most arduous portion, procuring the 
food in the most toilsome and hazardous manner ; 
whether he scours the plains, and risks his life in con- 
tact with the horns or deadly hoofs of the buffalo, or 
scales the frowning cliffs in search of game, or sits with 
enduring patience by the side of a stream to catch the 
shy trout ; his life has dangers and vicissitudes which 
many civilized citizens would shrink from. 

" But when he has strained his sinews, and torn his 
flesh in hunting down the deer, his female helpmeet 
will carry it home, cut it up, and cook it for him. She 
thus takes her share in the labor of life, yet does not 
work nearly so hard as the citizen's wife, who scnibs 
his house floor, washes his clothes, and tends his off- 
spring, whilst the husband is carrying the hod or using 
the plane. True, that this difference increases as we 
emerge into the upper ranks of society ; the wife of 
the citizen who has made wealth, and is able to hold 
on to it, lounges in her eauseuse^ and wears lavender 
kid gloves. But here Republican SgalitS ceases ; for 
her fellow-citizen scours down her frescoed walls with 



SQUIRRELISM. 89 

chapped, bleeding hands, and aching bones ; and the 
lavender kids can write tirades on the Indian's barbarity 
to his squaw, because he allows her to carry a funnel- 
shaped basket filled with household necessaries on her 
back, or a little coffin-shaped ditto with the papoose. 
Yet, with the Indian we have no records of the hus- 
band beating out the wife's brains with the iron heel 
of his boot, or smoothing her hair with a hot flat-iron, 
such as the journals often notify us as occurring in civ- 
ilized lands. 

" If the Indians are at war, they thirst for their ene- 
mies' blood, and spill it the first opportunity ; taking 
a savage delight in bespattering his brains to the wild 
winds or carnivorous animals. We call this atrocious, 
but we invent machinery for the same purpose ; we 
hate to dabble our white kids in human gore, yet we 
plant ourselves behind a secure bastion and blow our 
enemies to fragments, or mangle them by the thousand 
in agonized torments. And our lamentation over the 
frightful slaughter caused by the chassepot^ or revolv- 
ing cannon, is mere mawkish sentimentality. We do 
not wish to kill — we only wish to show our strength 
and conquer. 

"Then you argue, why not decide the question 
by personal combat and individual prowess ; why not 
test the courage and power after the manner of the 
Horatii and Curatii, — increasing the number to as 
many hundreds or thousands as each standing army 
of a nation could muster : this would be consistent and 
comparatively humane. By this principle the mil- 
lionth part of the suffering of war would be curtailed. 
But the fact is, that destruction is the incentive of 
the white man as it is of the primitive savage, and he 
carries it out with as much zest though in a different 
way. 



40 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

"Furthermore, argues the philanthropist, woman, 
being the weaker, vessel, should be surrounded with care 
and tenderness, and shielded from the roughs of life like 
the shorn lambs. But all men are not philanthropists, 
some partaking more of the nature of grizzly bears, with 
a taste for devouring lambfe who cannot take care of 
themselves ; and society becoming overrun with these 
helpless creatures, who have to be clothed and fed and 
lodged, the poor woodpeckers have hard times. Nor 
does physiology prove that woman, though more grace- 
ful and beautiful than man, is so much more fragile, as 
we are accustomed to think. The Indian women, from 
constantly exerting their muscles in. building their bark 
or pine-brush wigwams, carrying their goods and chat- 
tels, and cutting up the animals for food, are quite as 
strong as the men in any of these occupations ; they 
can walk as far, and ford rivers with the same ease. 
She, in truth, plays a more prominent part in life, and 
is more on an equality with her spouse than a white 
woman who is entirely dependent on her husband to 
lace her boots." 

" That,'' I said, " is a very strong argument for 
woman's rights, — that in the primitive state a woman 
should be more equal than in the position in which 
civilization has placed her. Have they a vote, do you 
know ? " I asked laughingly. 

" I believe," he rejoined, " that some of the older 
and wiser squaws have ' a say ' in the ' big talk,' and 
according to their capacities and superiorities exercise 
a great sway in their tribe. With these tribes it is a 
more even division of labor, and the man, in fact, takes 
the most dangerous and active part, although combined 
with intervals of ease and leisure. Yet I have heard 
white women complain that their work was never done. 



SQUIRRELISAf. 41 

Now two Indians whom I have in my employment per- 
form any and every work indifferently, and seem to 
recognize no distinction between a man's and a woman's 
work ; and, in fact, the nineteenth century ought to 
blush to have to learn a woman's rightful sphere from a 
wild Indian. 

" There are few occupations that I can call to mind 
that a woman would not fulfill as well as a man if she 
were trained ta it as early and assiduously as a man. 
In ferm-houses, women born and bred there tend the 
cattle as well as man. Milkmaids are proverbial. 
Welsh farmers' wives and daughters harness their own 
horses, ride on them to market, and transact the busi- 
ness of the farm. In Europe, in the provinces, women 
take their turn with the men in the field, especially at 
time of harvesting and. haymaking. In France women 
hold theit position in the country house and office pub- 
lic and private, can keep any description of store, — 
even take charge of tailoring and clothing stores. As 
in the case of the Indians, there is no reason why labor 
should not be shared between the sexes without mak- 
ing one a slave and the other a drone." 

"This world affords suitable occupation for all if 
they would only attend to it," said Kenmuir. 

*' But, although there is a great outcry about the In- 
dian's distaste for work, I know -a good many white 
folk who labor under the same indisposition." 

" If they were cleaner I should feel more attraction 
to them," I remarked. 

"All barbarous nations wallow in dirt," said Mr- 
Naunton, rising to his full height with a peculiar jerk, 
as if to emphasize his remark, — "unless, like the Mo- 
hammedans' frequent ablutions, it is part of their relig- 
ion to be clean. Cleanliness is a very modem virtue, 



42 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

and one which we should no more'expect these uncivil- 
ized foresters to possess than the art of printing or 
photographing. ' ' 

'* The Jews could not have been very clean camping 
out so long," laughed Kenmuir, " and yet they are said 
to have been God's chosen people. Clean linen becomes 
an unknown luxury after many days of mountaineer- 
ing ; men and ducks are the only creatures whom I 
know to be seriously given to washing operations." 

"And I do not think it is nature to the former," 
cried Mr. Naunton ; " for I can recollect when no such 
thing as a bath, public or private, was in vogue, and 
when a washhand-basin was about as large as a saucer." 

" Which dimension it remains in many parts of 
France to the present day," I ejaculated. Clothes' 
washing is an operation indulged in once in six 
months." • 

" Which naturally circumscribes the soiling of them ; 
whereas," said Placida, " in this country ladies of 
leisure and fashion vie with each other in how much 
bathing they can perform in the day ; and how many 
dozens of soiled clothes they can send to the laundress. 
Laundries are quite an in^itution of this country, and 
a large population is engaged in rumpling and soiling, 
whilst an equal proportion are laboring to straighten 
and whiten ; if the statistics w^ere taken ^s to the num- 
ber of people employed in this w^, the figures would 
astonish all." 

We all smiled at this original view of the case. The 
very clear view of such a virtue carried to a mania 
made me regard its laxity with less distaste. 

Zanita having become impatient of a conversation 
she could not understand, tugged away at my hand 
until she started us all en route for the cottage. 



SQUIRRELISM, 43 

" For," she kept on chattering, " we have every- 
thing to pack up : flour, and tea, and sugar, and pota- 
toes, and a frying-pan, and a tea-urn, and bacon ; and 
we must start a good hour before sunrise, as we shall 
be scorched going up that cliff right exposed to the sun 
without a bit of shade. Now when I get to. that Ijit of 
rock I can build a fire, and you can go wrap yourself 
up in your blanket and go to sleep, while I tsike care 
no rattlesnakes come to you." . 

Thus she continued to rattle on, her imagination work- 
ing and contriving, and fretting, and torturing itself 
over the difficulties and untoward accidents of her per- 
ilous exploits and dangers ; whilst the little one would 
toddle along rejoicing in some flower, nursing it ten- 
derly, smiling upon it, and looking up with deep de- 
light in her heaven-lit eyes, exclaiming, " So pretty, 
so pretty ! " 

Thus unconsciously, and without effort, had I drifted 
into this family, and become absorbed into their whole 
existence, like a chip washed into a narrow cleft of 
rock. Here I had floated without helm or sail ; here 
landed high and dry, never to sail out again, never to 
be distinct from those lives ^nd fortunes until mother 
earth had taken them to her bosom and wrapt them in 
her softest bed, and laid a mossy pillow over them. 

And yet we persist in believing that we are guiding 
our own destinies, working out our own ends, and 
bearing our own responsibilities. 



CHAPTER VI. 

* THE FALL OF THE MERCEDE. 

The following morning, as had been agreed, I set 
out with Mr. Naunton "to visit the double fall of the 
Mercede, where it makes its triumphal entry into the 
Valley by leaping a precipice of about 'four thousand 
feet. 

The morning was bright and clear ; the air exhila- 
rating and bracing ; and we cantered along briskly. 

" I must take you," said Mr. Naunton, " as you are 
a lover of physiology and psychology, and natural cu- 
riosities of all sorts, to see the ' Man of the Moun- 
tain.' Methuselah we call him ; for, according to his 
recollection, he must have lived a century or so. His 
real name, I believe, is Methley; and he has lived 
in this singular formation in the granite mountain for 
fifteen years, without going outside the Valley ; and 
sometimes has gone a twelvemonth together without 
speaking." 

" What an extraordinary character I Pray tell me 
more ; he will make a charming study." 

" There are many different stories about him, and 
his motive for his singular seclusion. The Indians re- 
gard him as a great ' Medicine man,' and hold him in 
some awe and veneration for his great prowess and 
contempt for all danger. When the floods were in the 
Valley some years ago, and the water swept down 
from a hundred cataracts, and roared through the plain 
like a storm-lashed ocean ; when immense trees were 



THE FALL OF THE MERCEDE, 45 

torn up and floated down like straws ; when huge 
boulders came toppling over with the crash of an ice- 
berg, — this man piloted himself on a log with a long 
stout sapling for an oar ; and picked out from a watery 
grave some Indian children, and eveu animals which 
had been hemmed in by the flood before they could es- 
cape up the mountain. Powerful, skilled, and reckless 
of life, he is a wonderftil man in time of danger." 

" And what is the secret of his life, that he hides it 
away here ? — a kind of entombment before life is 
extinct." 

" Very much like that," said my host, " for all he 
sees of humanity he might as well be buried. Disap- 
pointment, no doubt, is the poison he has sipped ; per- 
haps in love, perhaps in ambition, — or both. Possibly, 
but not probably, in grief for some loved one, for a 
man rarely becomes a hermit in grief for another, but 
rather in pity and compassion for himself. A woman, 
like Niobe, may weep herself to stone ; but a man shuts 
up his heart with a bitter resolve that grief shall never 
more enter there, even though he should exclude all 
joy with the same iron door. 

" But here we are at his castle gate, and I must 
sound the horn to gain admittance or bring him forth. 
Do you see. those two projecting rocks ? between them 
is a cavern some ten or twenty feit in circumference, 
and that is his town residence. When he wishes for a 
change of air he mounts up by that staircase hewn in 
the rock, and there is another chamber which is fash- 
ioned by that huge boulder, which, having rolled so far, 
has settled upon those two projections, leaving even 
a loophole for a window, from which it is said that Me- 
thuselah shot a score of red men at a battue as they 
came in Indian flle,dressed»in theii: red. paint a,nd fea.x 



46 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

thers, to scare him off their territory. They had no 
means of reaching him except by this path, for the 
river is deep and forms almost a moat round his castle, 
80 that he could pick off his besiegers one by one, 
whilst he was inaccessible and his castle impregnable. 

^^ Having established this salutary awe, peace was 
concluded between himself and the tribe of Payutes. 
That is many years ago, — before we came to settle 
in the VaUey." 

" Halloa there, Methley 1 " he cried. " Halloa ! " 
And presently something peered from the aperture. 

" Methley, how are you ? " called Mr. Naunton. 

" How 's your health ? " replied a voice ; and an ob- 
ject very like a white mop ascended about a yard. 
Then it rose another piece, repeating, " How -s your 
health ? " and showed a human face lengthened out, 
and displayed the figure of a man with very white hair, 
and long beard. Giving himself a jerk, he rose an- 
other foot. 

" Dear me," I whispered, " how much higher is he 
going to rise ? Is he a telescope, that shoots out a foot 
at a time ? " 

" Something on that principle," repUed my com- 
panion, with a merry twinkle in his eyes ; " but he has 
not done yet." 
>J^ And the Man of the Mountain* continued to hoist 
himself up in short lengths, hitching up his nether gar- 
ments along with him, until he had reached the great 
^height of six feet eleven, as I was afterwards told. 

'^ Good-day, madam," said the giant, coming forward 
with the air of a grand seigneur^ without expressing 
the smallest surprise or embarrassment at the appari- 
tion of a strange lady, perhaps the first who had ever 
jentered his domain. 



s 



THE FALL OF THE MERCEDE. 47 

" May I help you from your horse, and offer you 
some raspberries, and wine of my own vintage ? " 

I at once accepted the courteous invitation, and was 
led by my singular host into a very fine fruit garden, 
trim and in order, as any market gardener's. Here 
were peaches, and gooseberries, and apples, and pears, 
and raspberries, all on the same gigantic scale as the 
proprietor. 

" These afe all my family," he said, pointing to 
them. "These raspberries," gathering me a large 
vine-leaf full, " are red Antwerps, — the best stock 
grown in New England. These gooseberries came 
from Old England, brought over by my ancestor. 
These strawberries were first cultivated by Martha 
Washington. This was Lafayette's favorite pear, the 
Duchess d'Angouleme. They are not ripe yet, or I 
would ask you to pass your opinion upon them." 

Thus he chatted on, piling up fresh fruit before me, 
his conversation underlying two thirds of a century, 
which seemed to him but as yesterday. 

" I should like to see the Duke of Wellington, if he 
should ever come over to this country. I should like 
to make his acquaintance." 

" He has been dead at least twenty years," I ex- 
claimed, involuntarily. 

" I'm sorry to hear that ; he is a man I have the 
greatest respect for. Lord Chatham is also a great 
man ; if you have been in Europe, madam, you have 
doubtless met him." 

" I think," I said, laughing, " he died some twenty 
years before I was born." 

" How very singular," he observed. " How do 
you account for these great men dying so young ? " 

"The Duke of Wellington must have been over 
seventy," I hazarded. 



48 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

" Just so," he answered ; " the prime of life — the 
prime of life." 

" They had not found the elixir for keeping young 
like you, Methley," said Mr. Naunton. 

" Now, Naunton, none of your jokes ; you know I 
am growing old. I feel that my youth is past, madam, 
and age fast creeping on. I have to take care of my- 
self, in fact, and indulge in certain luxuries which the 
young had better avoid." 

L looked at his raiment, and at his habitation, and 
could not help exchanging looks with Mr. Naunton, 
who seemed to relish the joke amazingly. 

After we had satisfied ourselves with fruit, he con- 
ducted us to his castle. It consisted of a spacious 
apartment, if I may use the word for a place that could 
not be called a dungeon, not being underground, and 
scarcely a cavern ; biit yet I could believe that a griz- 
zly bear, in good circumstances, might have a more 
comfortable lair. In one comer was heaped together 
on some logs a quantity of spruce branches, which 
formed his bed, the covering consisting of a wretched 
A old cinnamon bear-skin. An old chair constructed from 
unhewn boughs of trees, and covered with sheep-skin 
for a seat ; a tin plate and cup, a large jackknife, a 
two-pronged fork, cut from Manzanita bush, a kettle, 
and a frying-pan, seemed to- constitute the whole of 
the furniture of the rooml The fireplace was outside, 
on account of there being no. fissure in tfie rock to 
admit of a chimney ; in a large iroii pot he was baking 
a loaf, which lie regretted was not sufficiently cooked 
for us to partake of with our wkie, — which, I ought to 
have mentioned, was drawn from a large barrel which 
stood in the corner, and which was presented to me in 
a goblet without a foot, so that it had 'to be drained 



THE FALL OF THE MERCEDE. 49 

ere it could be set down. To think of a human 
being, much less an educated man like Methley, living 
for fifteen years alone in a crevice of the rock such '^ 
as this, was to me the most melancholy thing conceiv- 
able ; and my heart ached as I looked at the gaunt old 
Methuselah, with his still handsome features, and 
daring eye. I wondered ^what terrible misfortune, or 
cruel fatality, had driven him to this fifteen years of 
practical despair. I yearned to pour out sympathy 
over that poor white head, though it did look so like a 
mop ! 

Mr. Naunton noticing my pained expression, led the 
way to a conversation which he knew would bring the 
old man out in a humorous light. '* When you have 
leisure, Methley, you must come up and see us whilst 
Mrs. Brown and the Professor are with us ; you might 
step in on your way to the East." 

" I shall certainlv make time for that visit," he said, 
brightening up. " I am trying to make a holiday for 
myself to go to the East, madam ; at a certain time of 
life, a man begins to want change." 

" That 's right," put in Naunton ; " and you are 
going to bring home that young lady with you. Well, 
give us timely warning, and we will meet you with 
wreaths of syringa, a good substitute for orange blos- 
som, to deck the bride." 

" We shall see, we shall see," rubbing his hands, like 
two old gnarled branches, together, and chuckling with 
delight ; which goes to prove that even in this rugged 
old rock of humanity the sweet well of love could still 
spring up, and refresh the dried up ruin with a bliss fit 
for angels. 

" Well, come and see us any way," reiterated Mr. 
Naunton, and we- rose to resume our journey. 

4 



50 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" I wish some one would come and take care of 
him," I said to my companion as we rode on. 

** I question," replied he meditatively, " whether any 
reality would now be as pleasant to him as the ideal he 
has cherished for the last sixty or seventy years. Once 
he did leave the Valley, giving us to understand that he 
should not return alone. However, when he resumed 
his old Ufe he evinced no disappointment, and explained 
that he had seen so many ladies who more or less 
reached his heau ideal that he was obliged to take 
twelve months to decide amongst them. The ladies' 
ages varied from sixteen to twenty." 

" But," I argued, " he might be taken ill and die 
all alone without a creature to help him." 

" That, in all probability, he will do," resumed Mr. 
Naunton philosophically. But is that a misfortune ? 
or is it worth while to regret the inevitable ? A wife 
could not prevent his death, and at his time of life he 
is not likely to have a long sickness. For my part I 
think those who die alojie are better off than such as 
have their death-beds surrounded by weeping and wail- 
ing friends." 

" How do you maintain that hypothesis," I ex- 
claimed. 

" Firstly, because there are few who at the hour 
of death realize from their own sensations that they 
are dying, unless well versed in the symptoms, and 
die as they would go to sleep ; whereas in long and 
fatal maladies persons are given frequent warnings by 
their friends in order that they may prepare them- 
selves, as it is called, though how they are to pre- 
pare for the great unknown future is difficult to say ; 
but in default of knowing how, the mind plunges into 
the vaguest unrealities of horrors and fears and intan- 



THE FALL OF THE MERCEDE. 61 

gible miseries. Their lives, if evil, rise like aveng- 
ing furies goading them to coward words of 'repent- 
ance, which they feel comes too late, for deeds of resti- 
tution are rarely executed if life should be prolonged ; 
whilst on the other hand those whose lives do not rise 
in judgment before them have their last moments 
harassed by the misery of those relatives who mourn 
their loss, which like all emotion is infectious, and 
the acuteness of sorrow is increased tenfold by the 
communicated sympathy of both parties. Death is 
very much what we choose to consider it. A dead 
child looks as sweet and pleasant as when asleep. I 
have seen scores of men shot through the heart or 
brain who suffered nothing in death, and it is so with 
most diseases. They suffer from the disease which 
carries death upon its fatal wings, but the death itself 
is painless ; and except in a very few cases, the disease 
abates some hours before dissolution, and the partmg 
of body and soul is calm and evQA pleasant. I have 
often seen persons pass away with a smile on their 
lips." 

" There is a great deal of truth in what you say," 
I observed, " for I have often seen persons hastened 
out (rf the world by the agonizing thoughts suggested 
to them by injudicious and timorous friends, and the 
appalling thought of the mystic future' kept constantly 
before their minds. Yet we remain in the hands of 
the Creator whether in the flesh or out of it, and his 
mercy is not of to-day or yesterday but endureth for- 
ever." 

" Therefore," interrupted Mr. Naunton, resuming a 
gayer tone, " if no wife turns up, let the old man die 
in peace when the Lord shall call him." 

We had for Some time been riding in the open 



62 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

meadows over a mosaic of nature's choicest labors ; 
but we now arrived where the river was fordable, and 
our horses made a decided halt to enjoy a cool draught 
of the limpid stream. 

What rider has not known the pleasure of sitting on 
horseback in the midst of a clear stream or river watch- 
ing the eddies over the rounded pebbles, calculating 
the amount of treasure it may be hurrying down to the 
all absorbing ocean, and listened to the rich mellow 
sound of the horse drinking — slew-eesh, slew-eesh, 
slew-eesh ? Whether it is sympathy with the dumb 
beast thus made happy for a moment and communi- 
cated back to me through his medium,' or whether there 
is some intrinsic pleasure in the thing itself, I know 
not, but I never could urge my jennet across a stream 
without stopping to let her drink, if she wanted so 
to do. 

After crossing we skirted the river as close as its 
serpentine course would admit, — the valley becoming 
every mile narrower until it merged into a ravine on 
whose rugged side a horse trail h^ been cut. The 
rock rose in gigantic tiers, bunch after bunch, crowned 
with the richest verdure, and tall pines, which never- 
theless looked like mere twigs when seen from above 
or below, so exalted are the heights that sustain them. 
Masses of rock and huge boulders, some of them worn 
round by the action of the water, lay in chaotic con- 
fusion, as though the Titans had been at war across 
the ravine, or had playfully been trying to stone out 
the course of the river, which, just below so placid 
and tranquil, came roaring and foaming with a crash 
and a bound incredible in that erst meek and gentle 
stream. By degrees, as we ascended, the mountains 
interlaced, forming a deep dark canon, through which 



THE FALL OF THE MERCEDE. 53 

only the silver thread of the Mercede caught the 
light ; and now we could hear the tl;under of the 
great. Py-wy-ack echoed a thousand times from each 
separate niche and cavernous hollow, till the whole 
blent in a solemn roar like hoarse waves booming to 
the ocean's shore. 

No longer grassy green or silvery sheen in the moon- 
light enwrapping the glistening trout or caressing the 
smooth, white sand. It now bids defiance to the 
sternest scaurs and cliffs, strikes them as with an an- 
vil, cleaves them apart in its headlong course, moulds 
their jagged points into polished roundness, dashes 
through the smallest fissures, and upheaves great moun- 
tains with its mighty strength ; boils over from bottom- 
less pits, and flings itself wildly from crag to crag, with 
a whoop and a clang that startle the stillness in the un- 
searched dome of Tis-sa-ack. Here it wrestles in a 
chasm of dark granite, and seems well-nigh overpow- 
ered and inclosed, never to sing its wild song again 
but in rumbling depths of the earth. But anon it has 
sent up a column of fleecy white foam, curving over 
the boundary wall, and is off again in its mad career 
to the valley below, where virgin lilies are awaiting its 
murmuring ripple, and merry buttercups its laughing 
kiss. 

All the granite walls in the world cannot hinder it 
any more than wise saws can stay the youth in love. 
Days and weeks, and months and years, and centuries, 
aye, millions of centuries it has leaped those iron bar- 
riers, battering them with diamond spray of liquid 
hail^ sharp and strong, and torn down the adamantine 
wall. 

All this is only the prelude to the sweep of the 
huge cataract of the Py-wy-ack, which, seven hun- 



54 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

dred feet above, takes its triumphal leap, spuming the 
rocks behind it, and, spreading like a vast fan, casts 
itself over in a million tons of dazzling spray. 

As we escaladed the dizzy height to the hanging 
head of the cataract, tethering our horses some distance 
below, a thin mist, like illusion tulle, enveloped us, 
together with the surrounding scenery, — like the 
nuptial veil suspended over the high altar whilst the 
sacred hymeneal rite is performed, — and when we 
emerged from its folds at the top, the whole ^ scene was 
changed. A brilliant sunlight illumined the very 
depths of our emerald lake, without a ripple or move- 
ment upon its surface. Nevertheless, it silently fed 
that fierce Py-wy-ack, and was the mute cause of all 
this clamor and tumult. We approached the very 
brink of the fall and looked down upon the avalanche, 
leaning on a stone balustrade. We needed Kenmuir 
here to dilate upon the sumptuous glory of all around 
which steepe4 niy every sense in silent beatitude : the 
music of the waters, the coloring of the sunset, the 
perfume of the syringa. 

In rival towers on either side rose the lofty Tis-sa- 
ack and confe-shaped Tah-raah ; and leaning its spiral 
head against the blue heavens loomed the Clouds' Rest, 
well named by the Indians from the nebulae which 
makes its home about it. 

At our feet the cascade of diamonds gradually melted 
into a chain of twinkling gems, as it wound through 
the stem and rugged ravine we had just traversed ; 
and the narrow opening was graced with, the blood-red 
disk of the setting sun, looking in as through an oriel 
window of rock to take his evening farewell of the 
earth. 

Then we turned, and through the gnarled boughs of 



THE FALL OF THE MERCEDE. 55 

tlie oak and cypress we could see the second cascade, 
the Nevada Fall, nine hundred feet above us, pour- 
ing out of a white fleecy cloud which hung right above 
and seemed to form a part of it, as though it fell from 
the very heavens an avalanche of eider-down clouds : 
so pure, so silky white was the gossamer foam which 
rolled in soft cadences with slow and graceful motion 
like the silver stars of rockets. So exquisitely sym- 
metrical were the figures, descending in a single span 
from heaven to earth, that it might have been the 
realization of Jacob's dream, — 

" The ladder of light. 
Which, crowded by angels nnnumbered. 
By Jacob was seen as he slumbered 
Alone in the desert at night." 

There was so much of beauty above, below, and 
around that I said : — 

"I shall feel quite bewildered unless I can have 
longer opportunity of gazing upon it and examining it 
at my leisure. A coup d^oeil is very unsatisfactory to 
me. To see a beautiful object once and away is nearly 
as bad as not seeing it at all." 



CHAPTER Vn. 

THE RABDS AT HOME. 

" In that case," said my host, *' our best plan will 
be to ascend to the Upper Valley, and if you can con- 
tent yourself with hermit's fare, and a bed of pine 
boughs, I think you may pass the hours until morning 
and see the cascades by moonlight." 

" Why here comes the sole inhabitant thereof," he 
cried, as an individual with a very uncertain step moved 
in sight. 
4- " Ho, Radd I " shouted Mr. Naunton, hailing him in 
the distance, " How are you I " 

The man named gyrated toward us taking off his 
y tattered hat with a courtly air. He looked to me like 
the figure of King Lear. His fece had a wild maj- 
esty ; his long beard, and elf locks streamed on the 
wind. His costume was that of the Valley, shirt and 
trousers, with the extra feature of rents and gashes. 
He was followed by a fine dog of the St. Bernard 
breed, which kept close to his heels, executing the 
same evolutions as his master, and maintaining a care- 
ful watch upon him, as though he feared that every 
movement he might be called upon to help him, and 
that it was necessary to be at hand. 

" Madam," said Mr. Radd with a deferential obei- 
sance, *' at your service. What though a stranger in 
these unexplored wilds, you are as welcome as flowers 
in spring." 



THE RADDS AT HOME, 57 

I thanked him, and Mr. Naunton took up the parole. 

" Well, then, I am sure you will do your best to 
accommodate this lady for the evening, for she wishes 
to enjoy this glorious scenery to the full. Can you 
make her a bed of pine boughs ? " 

" * Ajre, aye, master, that I can ' — 
* Strew then, O stiew 

The bed of rushes ; 
Here shall she rest 

Till morning blushes/ " 

Broke out Mr. Radd in a rich baritone voice that woke 
the echoes. 

" Do you think she can manage to climb the rocky 
steep to your valley ? " 

" 'As with his wings aslant 
Sails the fierce cormorant ; 
So to my rocky haunt 
Bear I the maiden.' " 

" Sixteen years a matron," I laughed, 

" You had better not let your wife hear you say 
that," cried Mr. Naunton. 

Mr. Radd shrugged his shoulders as though warding 
off an imaginary broomstick ; made three zigzag steps 
forward and three ditto backward, followed by RoUo, 
and said, plaintively, — 

" * Come where the aspens quiver.' 

" Here, RoUo ! " he said, addressing the dog, " carry 
the lady's satchel : show your gallantry, man I " 

RoUo approached deferentially with an expression 
that said, " I am only too happy to be useful to a lady, 
but do not wish to intnide myself unnecessarily." He 
took the bag gently and walked behind his master. 

We followed him above the Wild-cat Cascade and 
on by the rapids, until we neared the foot of the Great 



58 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

Fall we had seen in the distance, and right at the foot 
of the Mah-tah, thence up the steep side of jagged 
rocks and huge boulders where a " fierce cormorant " 
to bear me up would have been no mean assistance. 

Sometimes the poetic Radd would improvise a rustic 
seat from whence we had a fine view of the roaring 
cascade. Sometimes he would conduct us into a cave, 
introducing us with — 



Here, in cool grot and mossy cell. 

With woodland nymphs and fairies dwell.' 



Thus by degrees we wound up the rocky path, for 
far away above the topmost cataract of the Nevada is 
a delicious little valley where the Mercede, once more 
a pure and peace-loving stream, flows through a green 
flowery dell. 

Soon we were pressing the primeval turf of this 
Valley which few human feet had ever trod. 

" This indeed is a surprise," I exclaimed, as I cast 
H^y ©yes around on the magic scene of higher moun- 
tains, fresh cataracts, new groves, and again a lovelier 
phase of the river. 

" Yes," said Radd, " Nature has donned her bright- 
est garb to welcome the Queen of May." 

" Bravo, Radd ! Then how do you account for its be- 
ing June ? " said Mr. Naunton. 

" June it may be with you down below in your 
march of civilization, but with us it is still May." 

We now perceived a habitation something like an 
.L Indian wigwam, constructed partly of the bark of trees 
and partly' of canvas. 

" I will not ask you to share my humble cot, but 
with these hands will build you a palace of art," said 
Radd, and he oscillated from side to side and finally 
dived into the wigwam. 



THE RADDS AT HOME, 69 

• 

*' He is afraid to take you in suddenly," whispered 
my companion, " on account of his wife Nell, who has 
not the most placable of tempers in the world." 

Presently we heard a shrill voice coming from the 
hut, exclaiming, — 

" I'm downright 'shamed of you, Radd. You know 
we hain't no 'commodations for folk as you goes pick- 
ing up by the highways and by-ways a bidding to the 
marriage feast when there ain't none : not unlike as 
there might be if you was Uke any other man. We 
might 'commodate folks as comes as well as other folks 
down in the Valley. There's them turkeys I had 
this here spring as was as fine turkeys as ever was 
and laid as first-rate eggs. Why, them eggs. in cakes 
was as rich as ever you tasted, and you let them hawks 
carry them all off just because you wouldn't shoot 'em, 
and you would go on with your humbug a calling of 
them falcons." 

Here Radd made his appearance bearing a three- 
legged chair, formed from the gnarled bough of a tree, 
with a sacking bottom. 

" I prithee be seated on this rustic bench, and I will 
twine for thee a bower of eglantine and roses." 

Presently Mrs. Nell made her appearance, her face 
and arms shining brightly from a fresh scrubbing down. 
She was an ungainly w^oman, as I had expected from 
the tone of her voice, with angular limbs and harsh 
features; one large tooth protruding seemed anxious 
to make up for a gap in her mouth, through w^hich 
she seemed to speak without the trouble of opening it. 

" Good day, ma'am," she said, making an attempt at 
a bob curtsey ; " good day, Mr. Naunton ; yer welcome 
to the top Valley : we hain't to say much 'commodations 
as you have below. Some folks has a way of 'cumula- 



60 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

till' things around, and some has a way of slatterin* 

around." 

Here she cast a reproachfiil look on Radd, the twist 
in her mouth strongly indicating the t\*nst she seemed 
inclined to give his neck, round which a blue necker- 
chief was tied in the form of a halter. 

" But you are welcome to all the 'coramodations we 
have." 

Meantime Radd was busy with his hatchet, felling 
pine boughs to construct the bower, a feat which he 
accomplished in a surprisingly short time. 

" I'd like a drink of water," said Mr. Naunton to 
Mrs. Radd. 

" Well now, Radd 1 " exclaimed Mrs. Radd, extend- 
ing both arms toward him with the fists partially 
closed, " have ye been and brought up them lone folks 
and never taken 'em to the spring of as fine water as 
there is in the country round. Why, you'd bring folks 
past the gates of Paradise, that 's what you would, and 
never let them know, if you was a mooning over some 
of your crack-brained nonsense : the idee of bringing 
folks past the spring when I left a* tin cup there a'pur- 
pose, as mebbe there might be folks a coming up, but 
you never think of nothing." 

" RoUo 1 " she shrieked, " take the pail and go and 
get some water, do ! and make yourself useful, forever 
maundering about at your master's heels, lazing around. 
I shouldn't wonder if some day you began to spout 
pottery 1 " and with grim chuckle she flung him a pail 
which he took demurely and walked off. 

" That there dorg has more sense nor most Chris- 
tians," she remarked approvingly, " but I'm obleeged to 
keep him up to his work and not let him guess how 
smart he is," 



THE RADDS AT HOME, 61 

Her green eyes twinkled, and the long tooth thrust 
itself forward an eighth of an inch. " Why," sh*e 
continued, " if it warn't for Rollo I should never know 
where that crazy fellow had been. He might put his- 
self, p'raps, over a precipice or down a cascade : the 
Lord knows what sink he'd tumble into if it warn't for 
Rollo : why he 's better nor a nurse-tender to him. 
For Mr. Naunton knows well that he never goes down 
to that there Valley below to trade off his skins but 
what if there 's a drop of whiskey in fifty miles he'll 
have it, and if Rollo didn't bring him home he'd have 
been lying at the bottom of the Specific Ocean, or 
somewheres else, this many a year ; and if he war, I'm 
not the woman to cry for him. I've not lived around 
in mountains for a matter of fifteen years not to know 
how to 'commodate myself to circumstances. I don't 
want no lazy men around me anyways, but if it warn't 
for Rollo I might mebbe stand waiting around thinking 
he'd turn up somewheres." 

Here the subject of the eulogium appeared, steadily 
bearing the bucket of cold spring water. 

" There," she exclaimed, as she wiped a cup on her 
apron and presented me the cool sparkling water, 
" there 's a 'commodation you can't get in the Valley 
below. Mr. Naunton, you've no water to beat that, I 
guess." 

" Certainly not," said Mr. Naunton, " it is delicious ; 
the upper Valley excels in springs." 

" Here ! Rollo, where are you off to ? " as the dog 
was furtively stealing away to his master. 

" I guess this lady 's to be accommodated now slie 's 
here, and mebbe vou think I'm to do the whole busi- 
ness myself, but I'm not ; so just you grind this coffee, 
and look lively about it ! " 



62 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

RoIIo winked compliance, and mounted upon an old 
stump and commenced pushing with his two front 
paws a double handled coffee-mill ingeniously nailed 
against a tree, and constructed on the principle of a 
water-wheel. RoUo ground away, nodding his saga- 
cious head all the while, and made me think of the 
French satirist, "Plus je connais les hommes, plus 
j'admire les chiens." 

Upon this hint of the division of labor, Mr, Naun- 
ton commenced building the fire. 

" O, you're a handy man," said Mrs. Nell, " but I 
guess I can 'commodate you all round ; I'll just set you 
to tend this meat and see it doesn't burn ; I guess I 
can fix it so it will be broiled in a jiffy," and she 
placed a fine venison steak upon a forked stick before 
the fire thrusting the other end into the earth. 

" I guess you smelt my baking in the Valley below ; 
you were right smart to hit on baking day." 

She uncovered a pan of smoking hot biscuits which 
looked temptingly white to mountain travellers. 

RoUo had ground his coffee, and the fragrant fumes 
were soon wafted to our nostrils. A table was con- 
structed of a pjank of pine between two great oak- 
trees, which foiined over our heads a canopy a king 
might envy. Here Nell spread her stores amid a con- 
stant fire of invectives against her two companions 
and grumbling at the want of *' 'commodations." 

" I ain't got no sarce to give ye with your meat ; 
that tomato sarce as your wife sent me is all gone 
down the mountain. Rollo broke the bottle as he was 
bringing it up the Wild-cat Falls, so you might have 
got it back again in your water," said Mrs. Radd face- 
tiously, again protruding the front tooth. 

Rollo hung his head dejectedly, as though overcome 
by the guilty memory of the bottle of tomato sauce. 






THE RADDS AT HOME, 63 

" Ho ! Radd," shrieked his loving helpmeet, making 
a horn of her hand ; '' that man 's never ready for his 
meat when his meat is ready for him," .complained 
Mrs. Nell, as she invited us to draw around her hos- 
pitable board. " Rollo I off and fetch him this minnit ; 
don't let. him be dangling about there : I could a' gath- 
ered- a bushel o' berries by this time." 

With these words, Rollo in three bounds was on the 
opposite side of the smooth flowing river, and in a 
short time we saw him carefully superintending the 
passage of a raft, by means of a rope drawn across it, 
which conveyed Radd, who was carrying an armful of 
blackberry bushes and two or three young spruces over 
his shoulders. 

" There is ' Bimam Wood moving on the castle,' " 
quoted Mr. Naunton ; " Radd is going to make you as 
high a bed as they make for a princess in France." 

" Well, I guess the lady don't want to sleep on fif- 
teen mattresses," said Nell, as Radd threw down his 
load ; " you'll pile her up as high as Mah-tah." 

Radd, casting away his tatterdemalion hat, took a 
seat, and Rollo, giving himself a shake as a toilet 
preparation, took another, and looked as demure as 
though he was saying grace. 

Our dinner party was now complete, and we en- 
joyed it as no royal repast was ever relished. The 
forked flames of the fire flickered over the foliage and 
brought out a thousand fantastic forms and colors from 
the surrounding scenery ; but long before our banquet 
came to an end, the silver moon shone our brightest 
lamp, and again the soft, weird, mysterious aspect I 
had admired the evening before was transmuting the 
rugged rocks into smooth mountains, and the frowning 
heights to delicately penciled cliff's, against the deep 



64 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

blue sky ; as she sailed slowly toward the peak of 
Clouds' Rest she seemed to dwell upon it, and two tall 
pines growing on the very summit were as clearly 
traced upon her burnished disk as though they had 
been transplanted there, 

" Well, well," said Mr. Naunton humorously, as he 
called our attention to this singular phenomenon, " the 
man who was taken to the moon for gathering sticks 
on Sunday must surely have planted them, and these 
trees are the result." 

" I can't say as I believe about that," said Nell 
sharply. " I guess if he were here he would have to 
gather sticks most every day, and I guess he'd be hard 
set to know rightly when it was a Sabbath if he'd noth- 
ing exacteter nor Radd to wind up the clock ; for he 
lets it run down, and we have to start the week like on 
Monday or Tuesday, just as may be." 

" Time is made for slaves," muttered Radd softly. 

But Nell had keen ears as well as sharp eyes. " I'm 
ashamed of you, Radd, talking of slavery, after living 
a spell of fifteen years with a wife as comes from an 
abolition State. I make no account on these Mary- 
land folks; they are neither one thing nor t'other, 
neither fat nor lean," she said, looking fiercely at Radd, 
who continued to sip his coffee stoically. . 

We walked down to the falls in the moonlight ; they 
fell like an avalanche of silver spray glittering like 
globules of quicksilver, the whole arched by a delicate 
lunar rainbow. 

" A real pluie de perles^^^ I exclaimed. 

" Or Naiad's tears," responded Radd, " weeping that 
Venus has usurped the loves of the golden backed 
dolphins." 

" Then it* is not true of the dolphins, ' qu'on retourne 
toujours a ses premieres amours ? 



> »> 



THE RADDS AT HOME. 65 

" No," rejoined Radd ; " amour only returns when 
the amourette is a '* — 

" Mrs. Brown," I put in mischievously. 

" Ah, that 's too bad," laughed Mr. Naunton, " to spoil 
the phrase and the compliment ; it should have run, 
* When the amourette is a Sylvia,' for that is your name 
I believe." 

We turned to retrace our steps, although I could 
have spent an hour or two in contemplation of this 
fairy-like spectacle ; but I was laboring under some 
dread that Mrs. Radd, having accomplished the washing 
up of dishes, in which operation she had declined both 
RoUo's and Radd's assistance, might be getting impa- 
tient, and consider that we were " loafing about " the 
falls, instead of going to bed like decent folk. 

We heard her voice long before she was discernible. 

" Well, so you've come'd at last. I thought mebbe 
as Radd had persuaded you to sleep there, to hear the 
roar or see the linear rainbow, or some highfalutin' 
notions. •! guess you'll conclude to lie down, ma'am." 

I assented. 

" I should say," she continued, " that a smart 
woman like you would conclude to take a stretch m 
our hut sooner than that ramshackle thing Radd 's been 
piling up for you ; but 'commodate yourself anyway." 

" * It *8 a bower of roses by Bendemeer's stream, 

Where the nightingale sings to you all the night long/ " 

quoth Radd. 

" Bendamore, indeed I it 's the crookedest piece of 
water in these diggings, you bet." 

Here we arrived at the bower : it was a sort of ar- 
bor constructed of the arhor vitce and hemlock, covered 
with branches of the pinu8 ponderosa^ which formed a 



66 A TALE OF THE Y OS E MITE. 

roof like a Gothic cathedral, with pointed corbels, 
hanging in live tassels. 

The bed was made of spruce, with a splendid cinna- 
mon bear-skin for a covering. A miniature mirror — 
no doubt Radd's shaving glass, whenever he performed 
that operation — was suspended in a frame of oak leaves, 
and a bouquet of wild roses in a vase, made from a cu- 
riously shaped pine-knot, chased in delicate arabesque, 
was placed upon what I was pleased to call my toilet 
table, — a very handsome buffet made of a, clean square- 
shaped pile of arbor vitoe. The whole apartment w^as 
trellised by the moonbeams, forming exquisite patterns 
over all. 

This was really the poetry of camping out, and when 
once Mrs. Radd's shrill voice was silenced in slumber 
the romance was complete. I lay watching the stars 
as they shone across my horizon through the pine 
boughs, and inhaling the balmy odors from my fra- 
grant bed. 

The next morning I awoke with the roseate beams 
of day slanting gayly through my lattice-work. I 
saw Nell in the distance cooking another venison-steak 
for breakfast, and scolding all the time, — at least I 
concluded she was from the motion of her head and 
arms. 

Poor Radd, as usual, was not ready for his breakfast 
when it was ready for him ; but just at the close ap- 
peared with two chipmunk skins, which he had been 
preparing as a little offering " to the first angel," he 
whispered very low, "who has ever alighted in the 
Valley." He took the opportunity whilst Nell was 
throwing a heap of brushwood on the fire, which roared 
and crackled briskly. 

The skins were sewed neatly together, making a bag ; 



THE BADDS AT HOME. 67 

the two little heads formed the opening, and the bushy 
tails made a handsome tassel. 

I said I would keep it as a souvenir of the Valley. 

" What of the Valley ? " echoed Mrs. Radd, who 
never could keep out of any conversation whether she 
understood it or not. " I guess you might have found 
something better to give the lady nor them bits of var- 
mints ; there 's the big cinnamon bear-skin," she called 
after Badd, as he slunk away, and, as he did not stop, 
she made two long strides, and seizing him by the 
sleeve, she hissed into his ear, " Mebbe she'd pay for 
it ; you never brought a cent back for the last you 
traded oflF for whiskey." 

Radd gave himself as violent a shake as Rollo when 
he prepared his toilet for dinner, and walked on un- 
mindful of her. 

We soon began our descent of the mountains, again 
crawling to the very verge of the rocks forming the 
Nevada Falls, in order to look down over its rolling 
foam, which tumbled like avalanches of snow, and dis- 
persed into mist as it touched the chaos of rocks below. 

We gathered some scarlet humming-bird trumpets, 
growing on the ledge sweetly innocent of the tremen- 
dous torrent rushing within a few inches of their birth- 
place, that might any moment engulf them. 

" Thus," I said to our friend Radd, who accompanied 
us so far, under strict injunction from his wife to make 
" right smart tracks back again," — " thus do we often 
loiter over the brink of the greatest catastrophe of our 
lives, careless of the gulf in which we are about to be 
precipitated." 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE EPISODE OE A KISS. 

We had descended the steepest portion of the 
mountain, and had reached one of the level benches on 
which are situated those marvelous and fantastic grot- 
toes that must be seen to be realized. 

The entrance is draped with the royal plumes of 
the fernu% gigantia ; the walls elaborately tapestried 
with bright green mould moss, the product of damp 
and wet. The ceiling is decorated with lichens that 
droop in architectural wonders. The floor gleams in 
crystals and gUttering spars, hke a pavement tesselated 
in gems. 

We had just emerged from examining one of these 
homes of the Naiads, when Mr. Naunton threw up his 
arms in surprise and amusement, and exclaimed, — 

" Well, well I if there is not Zanita coming to camp 
out with us. 'How in the name of wonder has she got 
Billy up that tortuous track ? " 

I looked, and there was the sprite riding a calf, 
tricked out as a pack-mule, with a milk-pail on one side 
and her father's hunting-bag on the other. She was 
quieting and driving him by dint of kicks with her little 
feet, and thumps with a broken broom administered at 
ithe four points of the compass upon the wayward calf ; 
and was actually at the moment piloting him under 
an immense boulder which overhung the trail, leaving 
scarce two feet of path above a fearful precipice, at 



THE EPISODE OF A KISS. 69 

the bottom of which the Mercede roared in one of its 
deliriums of furv. 

" Good heavens I " I screamed, " she will be killed." 

" No," resumed her father composedly ; '' a child 
that can guide a calf up such a trail as this will never 
meet her death among the mountains." 

" Where are you going, Zanita ? " he called out. 

'* Coming to camp out with, the lady. O, don't go 
back yet. I have brought you bacon and potatoes," and 
she produced from the milk-pail a very dirty ham-bone, 
rescued from the dogs, no doubt, and a living root of 
potatoes, with soil and fruit clinging to it fresh pulled 
from the earth. 

She was greatly disappointed to have her calf turned 
back again, though Billy seemed to relish the descent 
mightily, switched his tail, and trotted on briskly. 

As we traversed the park-like meadows, studded 
with massive oaks, and Mr. Naunton was expatiating 
upon their girth and height as compared with trees in 
other portions of the Continent, — these present aver- 
aging ten feet in diameter, — a sudden light broke over 
his face (brighter, I thought,- than the circumference 
of a tree could animate), and following the direction 
of his eyes, I perceived the gliding figute which had 
power to call it forth. 

" My Placida," said Mr. Naunton, in the most mel- 
lifluous tone of his voice, indicating his wife to me ; 
" she has walked out to meet us." 

When we approached, Mrs. Naunton murmured 
something about having come to look for Zanita. But 
her husband sprang from his horse and kissed her*; % 
and the sweet upturned face told me precisely, and 
without any circumlocution, what she had come for. 
She had come for that kiss ; walked three miles to have 
it thus much sooner. 



70 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

She must have longed for it and wanted it, from the 
pink glow of happiness which radiated her whole coun- 
tenance. If ever I should be tempted to envy a 
woman anything, it would be such a meeting as this. 
If ever I coveted anything, it would be such a destiny 
as this. They had only been separated twelve hours, 
and yet the time had been all too long ; and that she 
had hastened to shorten it was an evidence of that 
perfect union of soul which makes corporal absence so 
unendurable ; that wonderftd unitv of two in one called 
wedlock. 

I thought that here was fully realized the beautiful 
German appellation of " mine man,^^ that seems to com- 
plete the full measure of everything, — not merely the 
endowing with, worldly goods and body-worship, which 
the marriage ceremony enjoins, but " mi7ie man " com- 
prehends all his soul, his manhood ; his whole being is 
included in this pos3essive case. • 

How few marriages ever bring about this real pos- 
session. Of husbands more or less exacting, more or 
less indifferent, selfish, unfaithful, there is always an 
abundant harvest; but of ^^mine man^a^^ how few I 
And as Mr. Naunton placed his wife upon his vacated 
saddle, and walked beside her, Zanita scrimmaging 
around in abortive efforts to make the calf keep on the 
path, I fell into a reverie on connubial bliss in general, 
and that kiss I had just seen exchanged in particular, 
— upon all it meant and contained for her, or any one 
whose soul is in a condition to accept and realize so 
much felicity cemented with another soul twin-born. 
Under such auspices I am of opinion with Kenmuir, 
that we can realize upon earth something of the delights 
of heaven, which preachers so kindly inform us is so 
far away as to be nearly out of our reach. 



THE EPISODE OF A KISS, 71 

I look upon kissing as ratlier a psychological dem- 
onstration than a physical performance ; for creatures 
without souls do not kiss, and the lower grades of hu- 
manity, said to possess soul in a minor degree, hut 
rarely, and it is a mere rubbing of noses together like 
horses. Kissing is the specialty of the human race, 
and has been held as sacred from time immemorial. 
The blackest crime on record was rendered more hei- 
nous by the treachery being ushered in with a kiss, and 
the tenderest devotion and most sublime self-sacrifice 
is tendered with a kiss. It is one of the grand dividing 
lines between the animal and man ; and the higher a 
man's nature becomes, the more spiritualized and re- 
fined, the more perfect is the beatitude of the divine 
essence of his kiss. Then, if in " tlie land for which 
we wait " we are to enjoy what we like best, surely it 
would be more delightful to perpetually kiss than con- 
tinually sing; and as to playing harps, though melo- 
dious and graceful, a serious drawback is in blistered 
or hardened fingers. The kiss between friends is pleas- 
ant; the kiss between sisters and brothers is sweet; 
the kiss of a mother and child is a delicious rapture ; 
but the kiss between wedded lovers is bliss unspeak- 
able, — "Heaven on earth," as Kenmuir would call 
it ; the spiritual commingling of kindred souls and of 
all the divinity within us; the welling up of pure 
ecstasy, from the eternal living fount of love, that 
God, the beneficent Creator, has blessed us with. No 
wonder, then, that the faces of Oswald and Placida 
beamed with such infinite radiance and light of joy. 
It is a talisman that beautifies all it reaches. A woman 
may not have a symmetrical line in her face, yet will 
she blossom to the beauty of an angel when touched 
by the magic of a kiss. How often it is asked. What 



/ 



72 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

can that man see in the woman to love — no one else 
sees anything ? True, no one else ; he alone sees it 
all, for he produces it, and the glory of that reflection 
more than compensates him for the symmetry of a 
Venus. Phidias was wretched because he had created 
all that was lovely except the divinity of love. That 
comes alone from the Omnipotent. 

In a few days my husband made his appearance, 
and there was great joking about the important discov- 
eries and contributions I had made to the science of 
geology. My husband said he had no doubt that I 
should be made a fellow of no end of rocieties, and 
have to tack the whole alphabet to my name. 

I retorted that I could well afford him any witticism, 
for all is well that ends well. But I adroitly set Ken- 
muir off upon a geological discussion about glaciers 
and moraines, etc., etc. ; for I knew they would dis- 
agree upon every point, and thus I turned the flank of 
the Professor's attack upon me. 

After his arrival excursions became quite the order 
of the day. Climbing days, walking days, riding days, 
and boating, occupied our heads and our feet. We 
visited all the points of interest, — in fact all was inter- 
esting for twenty miles around, — gaining health and 
strength and happiness to the full, and we laid in a 
bountiful stock of all for the winter. 

Thus in content and gladness our Valley-life sped on 
from days to weeks. When first I saw the Yo-semite 
temple, summer seemed to be brimful of all the beauty 
and joy that any summer land could accomplish. 
Young birds were tasting life in every grove. The 
great ocean of insect existence flowed on with amazing 
life and motion ; multitudes of flowers had ripened, 
and planted their seeds ; and each day developed a 



THE EPISODE OF A KISS. 73 

new glory. Brighter glowed the meadows with starry 
composite. The deep places of unmingled green be- 
came yet more unfathomable ; groves of purple grasses, 
tall as bamboos, waved in thickets of mint and golden- 
rod ; and every plant of Califomian summer waxed to 
corresponding greatness. 

I was charmed and almost bewitched by such a luxe 
de heautS^ and my whole soul flowed out blending with 
the grandeur, like clouds among the tallest mountain 
pines. When my enthusiasm had reached its highest 
point, fanned to red heat by Kenmuir, and Mr. and 
Mrs. Naunton, for they were all Valley worshippers, 
the Professor proposed a visit to the alkaline plains of 
Mono as a counter irritant, — " for my dear," he said, 
" you are just at that period of insanity when people 
form new religions. You might call yours Sylvia- 
Brownisnij or ' Landscape Religion.' You can make 
yourself high-priestess. You would start with more 
capital than Mohammed, for you have three followers, 
whilst he had only two, his wife and his cook. Yet 
he converted a third of the intelligent world." 

** For that impetuous speech," I said, " you shall 
go alone to Mono. I came to worship in these high 
places, and my devotions are not half complete." 

" Why not finish them some four thousand feet 
higher ? Mount Dana, for instance, Tvhose brown top is 
up in heaven always. You can build your altar there ; 
and if you want fire for sacrifice, some of the extinct 
volcanoes might be induced to explode and lend you 
their assistance. You could get up a tidy little mir- 
acle, if you thought well of putting that in the pro-^ 
gramme." 

" You have not the ghost of a chance of my accom- 
panying you now," I exclaimed. 



74 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" I knew I never had from the beginning, or I 
should not have so recklessly hazarded the chance. 
But I know who will go," he said, looking toward 
Kenmuir. 

The latter nodded assent. 

" Yes," I rejoined, " and you will dispute over every 
stone you come to : how it came there I what it was 
doing there I its component parts, and if it would 
not have been better had it not come there I I think, 
as there are a million tons of stones, you will get on 
remarkably well together." For, although the best of 
friends, they were the bitterest opponents that ever 
came together. But after a lapse of ten days' wander- 
ings they returned, their entente cordiale being in no 
way destroyed, and shortly after we quitted the happy 
VaUey. 



CHAPTER IX. 

A RETURN TO THB VALLEY. 

It was a bright autumnal morning in the early part 
of November, — the season we call our Indian sum- 
mer, and so richly prized in the Eastern States, partly 
because it is of a certainty the last bit of pleasant 
weather we shall have for six months to come, and 
partly because it is such a charming season in itself, 
combining all the tonic of invigoration with the pleas- 
ant warmth of comfort. It is indeed the perfection of 
atmospheric combination, as though it were a compro- 
mise between the heat of summer and the cold of win- 
ter, to produce a short spell of at least respectable 
weather, in order tSat humanity might stop grumbling 
for a while. 

I was sitting in my husband's study in Oakland en- / 
gaged on some manuscript. The sun's rays streamed 
in through the window, transmitting diamond-like 
lines from every lucent medium. It was now more 
than two years since we had visited the happy Val- 7s, 
ley of Ah-wah-nee ; for although a correspondence had 
been kept up amongst us, and the Professor had in- 
tended returning there the following, and the present, 
year, yet his researches elsewhere had monopolized 
his leisure, and I had not, since my valley escapade, 
undertaken another solitary journey. The gorgeous 
coloring of some maples near the study window made 
my thoughts take a retrospective course to the Valley, 






1Q ^ A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

and picture how beautifiil it would look in its autumnal 
gala dress.li^was interrupted by Martha opening the 
door, and tujlbig, who should meet my gaze but Ken- 
muir. Theve%?as no mistaking his face anywhere, or 
I should not have known him in his broadcloth suit 
and white shirt front ; bn^ there, still holding its own, 
amidst the fashionable city dress, was the little moun- 
tain flower in his buttonhole. 

I held out my hand with a glad welcome, and his 
old smile brightened his &ce ; but I noticed that it 
had faded before he had taken the seat I offered him. 

'* I have come upon a melancholy errand," he said ; 
" Mrs. Naunton is seriously ill." 

" I feared so. Do you believe it is really con- 
sumption ? " 

" There can no longer be any doubt," he answered. 
" She is wasted to a shadow, and for more than six 
weeks has not been able to walk about. Naunton 
keeps on repeating that she only wants strength ; but 
she will never be strong again in this world, and I 
doubt if she has many weeks to remain with us. I 
fear she will go, as she often says herself, ' with the 
snow-flakes,' for in the Valley," continued Kenmuir, 
running off into his beloved subject, *' the snow does 
not drop down as in other places, but seems to be 
floating in the air in large flakes, like a cloud of white 
doves just let loose from the Almighty hand." 

'* But when did the malady assume a serious fgrm ? " 
I interrupted. 

" It is difficult to say. I presume it was one of 
those fatal cases from the beginning. She never 
seemed seriously ill, and never was to say perceptibly 
worse, — yet she is dying; and my message is, that 
she would like to see you once more before she goes ; 



A RETURN TO THE VALLEY. 77 

and if you can, you must get in before the storms 
commence, or the Valley will be snowed •^p, and the 
trail impassable. I have come to escort you in if you 
can decide to go without delay." ^ 

" Poor thing I " I said, " it. would grieve me deeply 
to refuse her dying request; and even at the risk of 
being snowed up in the Valley all winter, I must 
make the attempt to see her." 

Kenmuir held out his hand and shook mine. " God 
bless you ! " he said. " I thought you had courage 
enough to do a noble act, and she is worthy of your 
sacrifice." 

" Indeed she is, and of ten times as much. I will 
go and speak to the Professor at once." 

My husband never exercised any authority over me 
in his life, and never opposed any project in which I 
even imagined I had a good object in view. 

Thus the evening of the same day saw us en route^ 
and the following morning we lost not a moment in 
taking hofces at Mariposa. But as we ascended the 
mountain, the wind began to rise, and presently some 
heavy drops of rain denoted a storm. It was, how- 
ever, too late to return, and we whipped on our mus- 
tangs in order to reach Galen's Ranch o before night- 
fall. The path was steep and rough, and with our best 
endeavors and willing animals we made but little 
wav ; whereas the storm came on with a rush and a 
vehemence that left us little hope of escaping its full 
rigor. Still we struggled on, till a gust of wind 
and hail nearly bore me from my saddle ; and a flash 
of vivid lightning at the same time caused Kenmuir's 
horse to shy, nearly throwing both steed and rider over 
a declivity some eight hundred feet in depth. We, 
therefore, decided to take shelter under a mighty 



i- 



78 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

hemlock,* that would, at least, screen us from the 
heaviest of the rain and the keenest of the wind. We 
drew a thick California blanket over our heads and 
took patience. The roaring of the storm through the 
forest giants was terrific ; the creaking and splitting of 
the boughs was like the soreeching of demons in their 
agony. The bellowing of the thunder, peal on peal 
afar, and the mournful reverberation of the mountains, 
might have well represented the denunciation pro- 
nounced upon the 'fallen spirits. 

Our horses quivered and started with every fresh 
explosion, and shook their heads under every new gust 
of rain and hail, which rattled on the broad leaves, that 
still clothed the forest, like rifle balls on a casemated 
fortress. 

Close to us an immense oak was torn up by the 
roots, and fell with a tremendous crash that shook the 
mountain like an earthquake, carrying with it two or 
three handsome pines and spruces. So fearful was the 
uproar, and the whirl of hail and soil throw# up from 
the wide-spreading roots, that for a moment I thought 
the earth had given way beneath us and that we had 
been hurled into eternity. 

I clung tightly to Kenmuir, for our horses swayed 
to and fro as though unable to keep their feet. 

I was nearly terror stricken, but my companion 
threw up his arms in a paroxysm of enthusiastic rev- 
erence. " O, this is grand ! this is magnificent ! Lis- 
ten to the voice of the Lord ; how He speaks in the 
sublimity of his power and glory ! " 

'*I declare- I am frightened, Kenmuir," I whis- 
pered. 

** O, nonsense I " he cried, '* there is nothing to be 
afraid of when the Lord manifests himself in his om- 
nipotence." 



A RETURN TO THE VALLEY. 79 

" Well, I don't know," I said, a little waggish 
humor taking possession of me. ** Tarn O'Shanter 
thought on such a night as this a child might under- 
stand — 

" * The deil had unco business on his hand/ " 

*' That was a drunken man's fancy," cried Kenmuir 
impatiently, — " the result of false teaching. If they 
would leave the devil out of their Sunday-school tracts 
they would make many a wiser and better man. By 
cultivating a fear of the devil they excite the lower 
faculties instead of the higher ones. They blind the 
young mind to the grandeur of the Lord by arousing 
his terrors of the prince of darkness. For my part I 
would not have missed seeing this marvelous physical 
phenomenon, this wondrous handling of these clashing 
elements in harmonial splendor : though I had to die 
next week, I should thank the Lord for permitting me 
to adore this new display of his unive^^lity." 

Presently the rain abated, and although the lightning 
flashed froln pole to pole, and the thunder rolled like 
a mighty bombardment, the wind w^as not so fierce. 

" We had better try and move on," said Kenmuir, 
'' lest you get a chill from standing in the cold." 

The horses went willingly, foreseeing a speedy ter- 
mination to their troubles. 

We had proceeded about a quarter of a mile when 
both horses backed and sprang round. 

My heart stood still with fright. 

A most unearthly wail rent the air and mingled 
with the rumble of distant thunder. 

" That," I cried, " is not the voice of the Lord. 
What under heaven is it ? There it is again," I added, 
growing cold with terror. 

It was not the crash of trees, nor the yell of savage 



80 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

animals, but sounded like the wail of human creatures 
in anfjuish. 

" Do not be alarmed," cried Kenmuir, catching my 
bridle and turning my mustang round. " It is some- 
thing human, for there is a fire ahead of us. Let us 
go on and see. It must be the Macbethian witches, 
or else ' Auld Nick, in shape o' beast, playing his pipes 
to the warlock dance.' " 

We advanced two or three hundred yards on the 
road and turning a corner, we suddenly came upon a 
small plateau of greensward and pine straw, when a 
scene met our astonished gaze which might have dazed 
Tam O'Shanter. A number of semi-nude figures 
were dancing, and shrieking, and waving old rags, 
skins of animals, and eagles' wings around an enor- 
mous blazing pyre, on which was a human body tied up 
in a bundle with knees and arms bound tightly above 
the breast ; am^ as the motley group danced around 
they uttered the fearful wail which had so appalled us. 
As my eyes took in the diabolical scene I wondered if 
I still had my senses, or if, like poor Tam, " my brain 
was playing me some wild phantasmagorical trick, so 
fearful was the sound and awfiil the sight. But Ken- 
muir pressed my arm and whispered, — 

'^ It is an Indian funeral. They burn their dead, 
and this is the funeral coronach. They believe that 
the heart is the immortal part, and that when the body 
is consumed the heart wings its way to the everlasting 
hunting-grounds. There is, however, a peril of the 
evil spirit intercepting its journey, and the friends are 
therefore doing all in their power to distract his at- 
tention in order that the heart may eflFect its escape. 
And you observe they are casting on the pyre all his 
worldly goods, and many of their own most precious 



A RETURN TO THE VALLEY. 81 

ornaments, as tributes of affection to their departed 
friend or relative ; on the same principle as we, more 
civilized people, put fine clothes and jewels upon our 
dead," continued Kenmuir with a slight sneer. " When 
the body is entirely consumed they will gather the 
ashes, and, mixing them with pine pitch, daub them 
over their faces and bodies as mourning, and wear 
them until they gradually drop off in the course of 
weeks or months." 

"How very dirty! '' I exclaimed, involuntarily. 
" Do they never wash during that time ? " 

"Did the Jewish people not mourn in sackcloth 
and ashes? " asked Kenmuir, " and do you not cherish 
a lock of hair in your bosom, cut from a head that lies 
mouldering in some damp, beautiful nook, and helps 
to manure the flowers you plant upon it ? " 

" O, Kenmuir I how very matter of fact you are ; 
in some things of earth earthy, whilst in others you 
are exalted to the seventh heaven." 

Feeling my nerves quite thrilled by the painful mi- 
nor tones of the death-dirge which, savage or civilized, 
breaks from the over-charged human heart, I begged 
Kenmuir to proceed or we should be belated reaching 
Galen's Ranche. 

The rencontre with the burial of the poor Indian 
struck us both as ominous of the future we were about 
to meet. 

Our thoughts brooded sadly over the gentle spirit 
fluttering on the verge of her funeral pyre in the once 
happy cottage of the Valley. 

" You do not anticipate any immediate danger for 
Placida ? " I asked fearfully. 

*' No, not within a few weeks, I hope ; but hers is the 

only death I cannot bring myself to look upon with 

6 



82 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

philosophy. Her life has been such a beautiful calm 
picture, like her name, without turbulence or disorder. 
She is the only person I ever knew who seemed to be 
ever with God and to lean upon Him. She reflected 
the purity and simplicity of celestial things, and truth 
and beauty are mirrored in her heart. She is the 
living soul of Naunton, and the spiritual life of his 
children." 

" What a blank, what a dearth she will leave behind 
her ! " 

*' I should like to know why the Lord takes her," 
resumed Kenmuir reflectively, as a humid glistening 
came over his clear blue eyes." 

" He hath need of that delicate flower elsewhere," 
I suggested. 

" Yes," said Kenmuir, grasping eagerly -at the con- 
genial idea ; " He wants to plant her in a brighter vine- 
yard even than this. The Lord has gardens of light 
of which these are mere reflections. He will not sac- 
rifice so pure a blossom for the benefit of any of us : 
we are not worth it. I can easily understand that." 

" Poor little Cozy ! " I said, " my compassion is 
most excited for her.'' 

" And probably you will have to exercise it, as Pla- 
cida will no doubt leave her to you as a legacy." 

Here we overtook Galen on the road ; he, too, had 
been enjoying the storm, he said. He was carrying 
home on his sturdy black mule a fine deer he had just 
shot. 



CHAPTER X. 

AH-WAH-NEE. 

We set out next morning from Galen's Ranclio. 
Considerable snow had fallen during the night, but 
only sufficient to make the splendid scenery more 
lovely. Every branch and spray was laden with its 
modicum of snow ; often the yellow autumnal edges 
of the leaves showed all round a little tuft like an opal 
set in a golden frame. The sun was shining brightly, 
and the air was not so chilly as it had been the day 
before. So that Kenmuir was very positive in his 
prophecy that the snow would soon disappear, and that 
we should have a glorious -Indian summer. 

The trail was smooth and firm underneath its white 
covering, and the marvels of the road were a continual 
surprise and delight. The snow seemed to embellish 
everything and the air was so exhilarating, that had it 
not been for the thought of the poor sufferer in the 
Valley, we must have enjoyed it with the lightest of 
spirits. 

When we reached Inspiration Point the whole pan- 
orama was a scene of enchantment. The mist was 
floating upward, tinged with all the prismatic hues. 
The granite towers of the Valley seemed to pierce 
into the blue vault with their fretwork of pine-trees 
all powdered with snow. Every nook held its tuft of 
downy plumes, and every vine trailing over the rocky 
ledges was tricked out with fairy-like grace and clear- 
ness. 



1 

\ 



84 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

The vast Hum-moo was like a colossal Milan Cathe- 
dral, with its thousand and one minarets, and pinnacles, 
glistening in dazzling whiteness on a ground of trans- 
lucent azure. 

The North Dome was a smooth cone of softest 
white, save where the sun's rays had decorated it with 
a cap of bright cerise, Tis-sa-ack was crowned with 
a diadem of unspeakable glory, and shone resplendent 
above all. 

In view of so much natural beauty it was difficult to 
urge Kenmuir forward ; he had that peculiar habit of 
standing stock-still and dilating on the manifold beauties 
and pointing them out seriatim, 

I was obliged to repeat, — " Yes, I see it all ; but we 
must keep moving, for Placida will be expecting us." 

Upon this hint he would make a fresh start, but the 
whole way down the mountain was a series of excla- 
mations of delight. 

We put ojir mustangs to the gallop when we reached 
the level ground of the Valley, and the crunch of 
their feet over the iced pools and the ring of their bri- 
dles sounded sweet in the frosty air. 

As we neared the homestead we caught sight of Os- 
wald Naunton in conversation with Mrs. Nell. Radd, 
followed by RoUo, was mooning about in the distance, 
evidently in some disgrace from the solicitude evinced 
by his canine friend. 

We soon caught the drift of the conversation, for 
there is some acoustic property in the Valley that con- 
veys sound far and clear as the famous Whispering 
Gallery of St. Paul's, London. 

* " Of course I paid him the money for the skins, 
Nell," said Mr. Naunton. 

" Ah, a course you did ! " responded Nell, sharply. 



; 






I 



AH- fVAH-NEE. 86 

"I'd like to see the man as wouldn't back another 
to go to the devil right on end, and leave his wife to 
live on huckleberries. I make no account on 'em no 
hows." 

" He said he wanted to buy groceries," pleaded Mr. 
Naunton. 

" Now, Mr. Naunton, don't you go tP tell me as you 
don't know that he always takes his groceries in a likid 
form I If it 's grain, why it 's whiskey ; if it 's molasses, 
then it 's rum ; and if it 's berries, he'll take them in 
gin. It makes no sort o' difference to him, so it 's likid. 
It's fortunate the Almighty didn't think o' making 
the sea o' liquor instead o' salt water, for he'd had it 
drunk dry if there 's many such swallows as Radd's." 

** Well, well," said Naunton, in a compromising 
tone, " he does not often get it, you know ; but how 
came he by that dr.eadful scratch on his face ? " 

" Wall, I don't mind owning up that I do give him 
a claw-down now and then," said Mrs. Radd, imitat- 
ing the action with her long bony fingers, as though 

they took an individual delight in the performance, 
as a musician will sometimes drum unconsciously on a 

table. 

"I'm not the woman to go back o' what I do. 
When he comes worrying around spouting pottery and 
smelling • like a whiskey mill, I know straight away 
that he bought no more groceries nor he can hold in a 
mug^ and I do give him a claw-down." 

Here Mr. Naunton perceived us and hastened to 
greet us. 

" You are welcome, indeed, my good friend," he ex- 
claimed, heartily shaking me by the hand. " The sight 
of you will make our invalid a new woman I " 

"I'm darned if this isn't the folk from the city," 



86 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMJTE. 

said Nell, under her breath. " Good-day, ma'am," she 
continued, aloud, making a bob curtsey, " but you've 
fann'd out well to come in through the storm to see 
Mrs. Naunton — afore she dies," she added in a 
whisper ; ^^ not that it'll help her, for she is a gone 
coon ! " 

" Jlell 1 " called Mr. Naunton, looking back to 
where she stood, her arms akimbo, the most un- 
gainly figure, — " don't you want to stay and make 
some light biscuits for this lady? She has not forgot- 
ten how good they used to be in the upper Valley." 

" You bet 1 " cried Nell. '* She 's ' good fat.' ' ' 

Radd has once been a type-setter, hence Nell's ver- 
nacular. 

" Tell Radd to remain ; your huckleberry supper will 
not get cold," laughed Mr. Naunton, anxious in his 
heart to keep the pair in order to ^ve them a com- 
fortable meal. 

Here Zanita came bounding along looking like a big 
dragon-fly. Her long thin arms and legs extended in 
opposite directions. 

" That 's my colt you are riding 1 He isn't a colt 
now, but he was once. Do you know it ? " 

"01" she ejaculated, eying me attentively, "you 
are the one that came before with the man in specta- 
cles and a big nose ; you were mighty fond of adian- 
drums, but you can't have any now, they are all froze 
up. Give me a ride, won't you ? You used to do." 

Here we reached the cottage, looking sad yet beau- 
tiful in its frost-nipped vines. 

So soon as I was dismounted Zanita had scrambled 
' into my saddle and was ofl^ careering about wildly. 

Placida lay on a lounge that had been constructed 
for her in the sitting-room, which, with this exception, 



AH-WAH-NEE, 87 

remained unchanged. She looked as many consump- 
tives do, — very sweet and beautiful, without any of 
those painful disfigurements which precede dissolution 
in other diseases. Her eyes were soft and clear, 
and her color was, if anything, brighter ; and* had I 
not known to the contrary, should have pronounced 
her stronger than when I first saw her. 

Little Rosalind nestled at her mother^s side making 
up a bouquet of late autumn leaves and flowers for 
her. 

Mrs. Naunton received me with a glow of grateful 
pleasure that words failed to interpret. 

I took a seat beside her, clasping her white slender 
fingers in mine, and in those moments I realized all 
the compensation which awaits on charitable acts, and 
with which we ought to be satisfied. 

Mr. Naunton stood by rubbing his hands gleefully. 

*' We shall do now, my darling I This is the medi- 
cine we have been wanting. This is the strength you 
needed. Why, you are already worth ten per cent, 
more than you were an hour ago." 

And he stooped, partly to conceal the . glistening 
drops in his eyes, and partly to stroke tenderly his 
wife's soft brown hair, which Rosalind had combed out 
all over the pillow. In truth, the flush of pleasure 
seemed to give the invalid new strength and life. 
Propped up with pillows she conversed easily, no 
cough disturbing her. 

Kenmuir and the " squirrel " came in after a while, 
the latter explaining her absence on the ground that 
she had to attend to the horses. 

" Neo-wah, the Indian, is not to be trusted ! I have 
to attend to my colt Jeroboam myself," she said. 

We passed a pleasant, happy evening. Nell doing 



88 A TALE OF TEE YO-SEMITE. 

wonders in the matter of cookery, and Radd in the 
new role of waiter, into which his wife unceremoniously 
thrust him, keeping us in continual merriment by his 
ludicrous blunders. RoUo also considered himself 
bound* to make himself useful, and carried in a bas- 
ket of fiTiit, and any other article convenient to be 
laid hold of. 

*' Ho ! Radd ; Hold hard with the coffee ! " cried Mr. 
Nauuton, as the former was proceeding to pour it over 
the pudding, in mistake for a dark compound Nell had 
instructed him was " sarce." 

" I guess you had better look smart or he'll sweeten 
your tea with salt," cried Nell, grimly, popping in her 
head, instinctively alive to the short-comings of her 
spouse. 

" If there 's a wrong way and a right one, Radd 
alus pitches on the wrong. I make no doubt he'll try 
to walk on his hands some day, just 'cause the Almighty 
has given him feet. If ever he 's drowned I should 
never look down stream, he 's certain to float up he 's 
so contrary^'* 

But Radd was too keenly sympathetic with the genial 
glow of friendship around him to be troubled by his 
wife's objurgations, and directly she was out of hear- 
ing proposed a toast, — 

*' Our welcome guest I " And after dinner, seated 
round the great hearth-stone, the pine logs roaring 
and cracking, his courage rose so high that he volun- 
teered to entertain us with a song. We all caught 
eagerly at the proposition, and after a timorous glance 
toward the kitchen, Radd burst forth in his rich bari- 
tone, "Oft in the stilly night." The simple pathos of 
his voice and manner were truly delightful, and at the 
termination, all begged for another song. 



AH- WAH-NEE, 89 

RoUo looked doubtful, went and sniffed about the 
kitchen, then returned wagging his tail as an assurance 
that the coast was clear. Radd went on and sang us 
song after song, making the rafters resound with melody. 

" This evening seems like old times," said Mr. 
Naunton, " and I will venture fo say that we shall have 
many of them. For the snow will set in finally in a 
week or two, and then the Professor may bid good-by 
to his wife for the winter, for he cannot get her out 
until the thaw comes in the spring." 

" I'm glad of that," cried the sprite. " Serve him 
right for letting his nose grow so long. Why doesn't 
he cut a piece off like papa does his beard ? " 

" Zanita," said her mother, " what did you promise 
me?" 

" Not to talk, mamma," and she relapsed into quiet. 

" That would never do," I resumed, laughing. " I 
must get back some way, for if I should leave my hus- 
band for a month he would be mistaken for a debonnaire 
instead of a professor." 

Here we heard Zanita in high altercation with Nell 
in the kitchen : 

" O, you are a right smart un, you are, but you're 
not a-going to put that here flat-tail rat into th' stove 
and make believe as I been a cooking on it for a 
ground squirrel. No, no, I haven't been around these 
diggins for more nor fifteen year not to know a rat 
from a squirrel I" 

" You could not if his tail was cut off," persisted 
Zanita. 

"You gitl" retorted Nell, "or I'll cut the tip of 
your nose off." 

" They ought to have cut yours when you were a 
little girl, like papa cuts the puppies' ears, to make 
you smart ! " 



90 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

Having delivered this parting salute, Zanita was 
seen bounding over the sward in a race with Rollo. 

" Young varmint ! " we heard Nell muttering ; " no 
need to cut her ears. She 's too smart, by far, al- 
ready ! " 

** Radd," said Mrs. Taunton, " I wish you would 
whistle in Rollo ; that child will be roving the country 
all night. She has not a bit of fear." 

When we broke up for the night, Placida whispered 
me that she wanted to speak to me privately. 

" Had you not better defer it until to-morrow ? " I 
said ; " after all this talking, you must need sleep'." 

" No," she replied, " I never can sleep until morning, 
and if you will remain with me Oswald will be glad of 
a night's undisturbed rest, — it is so long since he had 
one : he is so afraid of my not waking him when I want 
anything, that he never goes soundly to sleep. 

" Now Oswald," she said, gayly raising herself upon 
her arm, " give me a kiss and go to bed like a good 
boy, and don't get up until you are called to-morrow 
morning." 

The " good boy " looked very happy, and did as he 
was bid. 

I drew the manzanita easy-chair close to the bed. 

" I will rest for a little while," she said, and closed 
her eyes. 

For about half an hour we both remained silent. I 
could not help observing then how much* she had 
changed ; how thin and wan she looked ; and how 
cadaverous was the whiteness of her brow. 

We were both roused from our reflections by a 
piercing howl from Rollo, repeated at momentary in- 
tervals until he was quieted by Radd's voice. 

*'Is it moonlight?" said Placida, "that Rollo bays 
the moon ? " 



AU-WAH-NEE. 91 

"I think not," I said, whilst a cold shudder crept 
over me. I did not like that evil omen. 

Presently she took my hand and gazed upon me 
with those deep dreamy eyes in which the souPs un- 
fathomable mysteiy seemed to dwell, and said, very 
calmly, " I want to talk to you about my children, I 
felt that I could not go until I liad seen you and spoken 
of them ; but now I have very little time left here, — 
very little. I feel anxious about Zanita. She is a 
child whom her father will never be able to manage, 
for the reason that . she can manage him ; an^ she n, 
would, therefore, grow up quite wild and undisciplined. 
You know her peculiar temperament requires peculiar 
treatment, and also careful study to develop her re- 
markable talents and powers. She requires to be f\ 
guided with a firmness that her father will never ex- 
ercise over her. I feel that we owe more responsibil- 
ity to her than usual from the circumstances which K 
preceded her birth. 

" Oswald chanced to have visited the Valley in one 
of his sketching rambles and he came back so thor- 
oughly imbued with the marvelous grandeur that I 
caught the infection and resolved to accompany him 
on his next tour ; and, finally, filled with the romance 
and poetry of our honeymoon, we talked ourselves 
into settling here. The effect upon us was as though 
we had been semi-consciously transplanted to another 
world, so higlily was our imagination wrought upon 
by the weird and supernatural atmosphere which sur- 
rounded us and in which we freely reveled. I am 
sure sometimes, if our conversations could have been 
overheard by sober-minded persons, we should have 
been regarded as laboring under aberration of mind, 

" We built up a fantastic fairy tale of our own lives 



92 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

and dwelt in it, until it became part of ourselves and 
our real existence. The commonplace outer world, 
as you can understand, living here in the Valley, re- 
ceded from our view, and we felt as though an eternal 
separation had taken place ; and for me it had so, in- 
deed, for I have never quitted it, — never been out- 
7 side these granite walls for eight years, — and now 
my body will never leave the Valley. 

" We often said that it seemed as if we had died 
without the consciousness of the transition, and arisen 
in the future life ; had advanced one step into that 
heaven we are promised and which I hope soon to 
see. I account for much in Zanita's disposition by 
these pre-natal circumstances, which give her a 
stronger claim than ordinary on my watchfulness and 
care. 

" I know, my dear friend, that you will not hesitate 
to undertake any charge or sacrifice to accomplish a 
good work ; and that if I tell you that I wish to leave 
my child to your sole care, and ask you to fulfill 
the duty from w4iich I am taken, I may then go in 
peace and fully trust that I have done the best I 
could." 

I took the shadowy form in my arms and promised 
/^ to be a mother to her child. 

Here Rollo set up another fearful wail and woke up 
Rosie, who came running into the sitting-room in her 
little naked feet to look for her mother. She crept 
closely to the tender embrace of Placida. 

" O, mamma ! " she sobbed, nervously, " I thought 
some one called out that you were gone, and I came 
to see. Dear mamma, don't go ! say you will never 
leave little Cozy 1 Zanita says you will go." 

" Not until the Great Father sends for me ; but not 



AH-WAH-NEE, 93 

now, my darling. I will not leave you ; so go to sleep, 
again." 

Stroking her mother's hair with her little dimpled 
hands, she was soon asleep, and I carried her to my 
bed, for I had my old chamber with the door opening 
on to the sitting-room. 

" I have only a few words more to say, and then I 
shall send you to bed, too," said Mrs. Naunton. 

"I should so much prefer sleeping in this dear old 
chair by your side," I answered. 

" Yes, it is very comfortable ; many an hour Oswald 
and myself have slept in it together, — even, some- 
times, with a young lady between us. He used to call 
it our nest," said Placida, with a sigh. 

" I have mentioned the subject we were speaking 
upon often to Oswald ; but he cannot bring himself to 
believe I am really * going,' and will not discuss it. 
Yet he may understand what a boon it is to him when I 
am no longer here, to be relieved from the care of that 
child, and will appreciate it then as deeply as I do. 
For my darling little Cozy he will be all sufficient, 
and she will soon become so to him. Now farewell, 
dear friend ! I am quite happy," she whispered, and 
pressed my hand with both hers affectionately. " Be 
sm'e we shall meet again. Now I am going to sleep," 
" sleep " — I thought I heard her murmur — " in 
God." 

I sat by her several hours, and her soft breathing 
told me that she was peacefully sleeping.. 

I looked upon the inscrutable mystery of the fading 
out of life, but my mind failed to understand or real- 
ize it. 

Was it possible that she was stealing away like the 
tints of a rainbow? Vanishing from our sight with 



94 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

the beams of the sunset, — silently moving toward 
heaven as the moonlight creeps up the cloud-capped 
dome of Tis-sa-ack ? So it was, and a vague, super- 
natural fear seemed to thrill my whole being. 

At dawn I returned to my room, having first awak- 
ened Mr. Naunton, to take my watch. 

I had slept some hours, when I was aroused by 
Rollo's awesome wail. I stole softly into the sitting- 
room. 

" She is asleep," whispered Mr. Naunton. I looked 
at her closely ; she had not moved or changed. A 
celestial sweetness radiated the whole face, shadowed 
only by the long dark lashes which drooped over the 
semi-closed eyes. Her rich brown hair circled the 
saint-like head as in a frame, and on the parted lips 
lingered the ripple of a passed smile, — 

" As though last by angels kissed/' 

But no breath came from them or stirred the delicate 
pink nostrils. 

She was gone unknown to us all, we knew not 
why or whither. She had left us the semblance of a 
saint to look upon as an assurance that we had once 
possessed her ; but the beloved Placida had flown, as 
she had said, with the "snow-flakes," and, with all 
things fair, and pure, and true, had returned to the 
hands of the Creator. 

Oswald Naunton's grief was of the most frantic kind. 

He reftised absolutely to believe the fact, and wished 
to employ all sorts of remedies to resuscitate her, as 
from a swoon or syncope. Not until I took him forcibly 
by the hand, and made him approach and look at her, 
could he realize the calamity. 

" Look at her, speak to her yourself; she will tell 
you how it is with her." 



AH-WAH-NEE, 95 

He gazed earnestly upon her. 

" Placida, my mourning blossom," he gasped out. 

" Death I " was the answer written visibly on every 
line of her face. 

He beat his brow and tore his hair, and raved in a 
sort of frenzy, staggering about the house like one 
whose brain is surcharged with poisonous fumes. He 
was as madly drunk with grief as an opium-eater with 
his drug. He upbraided himself, the Almighty, and 
every one around in the most furious invectives ; his 
judgment had no more control than that of a raving 
maniac. I was obliged to entreat Radd to carry the 
two children out into the forest, and keep them there 
for the day. 

Poor Rosie had sobbed herself into a state of exhaus- 
tion ; whilst Zanita, somewhat bewildered, was yet half 
enjoying the state of excitement. 

She followed her father with a curious watchfulness 
that insured her mimicking the scene at some future 
time. 

" Father 's right mad because mamma is gone, isn't 
he? But she said she should go; she is gone to the 
Spirit Land, she told me so ; and I'm to be good, and 
not tease Cozy. 'The rocks are higher there, and 
there are plenty of big waterfalls, and no bucking 
mules. I wish manuna had taken me. Mu-wah says 
they are going to put mamma in the ground like the 
cow that died ; but they sha'n't ; I'll dig her up again. 
I'll work all night, and RoUo will help me with his 
paws. She must be burnt on a big fire, — that 's the 
way to the Spirit Land, Mu-wah says, — and have her 
heart taken out." 

She was fiiU of the excitement of the moment, and 
kept on discussing it with every one. 



96 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" Isn't papa mad ? " she exclaimed. " Will he go 
on breaking everything in the house ? I wish he would 
throw that pitcher of molasses at Nell's head. She 
would fly round like a wild cat." 

Kenmuir wept softly like a woman, every now and 
then approaching the lounge on tiptoe to look at the 
dead. I had no time to indulge in the deep sorrow I 
felt, but every once and awhile had so far to yield as 
to have a good cry, and then resume my occupation. 

Nell kent us all more or less in our senses and the 
commonplace, by constant suggestions about " decent 
folk having decent funerals, and how it was unlucky 
that there were so few people and no minister in the 
Valley to come and visit the body ; that it was a right 
sweet corpse as she had ever seen ; " whereupon Mr. 
Naunton swore furiously that no one should approach 
his wife but me. 

Nell protruded her tooth, and sidled off into the back 
premises. Just then old Methuselah wandered up, 
looked in upon us from the lintel of the door, but was 
driven remorselessly away by the wretched husband, 
who accused him of the murder of his wife in having 
advised him not to take her out of the Valley when she 
first became sick. 

He turned away, shaking his old mop head dolefully. 
I followed him apace to tell him that Mr. Naunton was 
quite beside himself, and knew not what he was saying. 

" No, no," said the old man ; " but when such young 
things marry and become mothers there is little hope 
for their lives. I always said how it would be, I 
suppose I had better come to the funeral though ? " 

" O, certainly ; we shall need you to make one of 
the four to bear the coflin." 

" I could carry her on one arm myself, little sylph- 



AH'WAH-NEE. 97 

like creature I Just like the Princess Charlotte, heir to 
the British throne, who died the other day in her 
accpuqhement. Such children ought to be kept in 
pinafores, and not allowed to marry." 

" Mrs. Naunton had been married nine years, and 
the Princess Charlotte must have been dead forty," I 
replied. 

" Well, well, time flies. It 's time I was thinking 
about getting married myself; but she married too 
young, poor thing 1 poor young thing 1 " and he wished 
me good day. ^ 

Three terrible days we passed beside poor Placida, 
waiting until her husband's paroxysm of grief should 
abate, or nature become exhausted. 

Finally, toward the close of the third day, I noticed 
that he had at last fallen asleep in his chair ; and, tak- 
ing advantage of this to go outside the door to breathe 
the freshness of the wintry air, my eyes were farther 
gladdened by the sight of the Professor, accompanied 
by Mr. Galen, of Galen's Rancho. 

Without my knowing, the thoughtful Radd had been 
to Sonora and telegraphed to my husband the sad news ; 
and, by a fortunate occurrence, he was able to start at 
once, knowing how much I should need his help and 
comfort under the painful circumstances. 

The funeral took place next day. 

Poor Placida was laid under the shadow of the great 
tombstone shaped " sentinel," the only monument 
Naunton would hear of ; and, indeed, it was a magnifi- 
cent one. It rose like a single slab of white granite, 
detached from the rest two thousand feet high, and its 
oval form always gave it, to my fancy, the shape of a 
tombstone. 

I took some of her best loved flowers and planted 

7 



98 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

them around her. Zanita behaved shockingly at the 
/ grave, uttering wild Indian yells, and protesting that 
her mother should not be put in a hole like a cow» but 
burnt on. a big fire of logs that Mu-wah could make. 

The Professor had recommended that she should be 
taken to the funeral, thinking it would have a subduing 
and awe-inspiring eflFect upon her. But as yet we had 
little idea of the wild spirit we had to deal with. Little 
Rosie, who was left behind, had formed the idea that 
the procession was some sort of ceremony to restore her 
mother t# her usual state, and wept bitterly when we 
all returned without the coffin. 

" O, where have you taken my dear mamma ? Where 
have you put her ? I would rather have her that way, 
quiet, and not opening her eyes, than taken away 
altogether. O, let me go to her 1 " 

" She is gone to the Spirit Land," said Zanita, sen- 
tentiously ; " but I don't think she has gone all right, 
on account of putting her in the ground. She ought 
to have been burnt." 

Rosie's eyes dilated with horror. 

" And if you want to go to her. Cozy, I'll put you 
on a big pile and burn you up, and you'll go quite 
straight. O, wouldn't you blaze!" she cried, — ''you 
are so fet I " 

Poor Cozy burst into a fit of despair. 

"Zanita," I said, "cease teasing the child. How 
can you be so cruel ? " I took Rosie to my heart and 
soothed her. 

I persuaded my husband to remain in the Valley 
as long as possible, for Oswald Naunton's sake ; for 
although he was now calm and subdued from the effect 
of reaction, yet he was evidently a broken-hearted 
man, and would never be himself again. 



AH^WAH-NEE. 99 

The light of life had left him, and only existence 
remained ; and O, what a weary thing is mere ex- 
istence I Living until it is time to die. Life a hopeless 
waiting, and dread speculation of what the next may 
be. - 



CHAPTER XI. 

MORE THAN A HANDFUL. 

So it was agreed that we should take Zanita and 
adopt her as our own, or, rather, as my own, for the 
Professor declared that although he did not object in 
the least to my having the child, yet he declined sharing 
any of the responsibility. She was to be wholly under 
my supervision and control, and I was not to apply to 
him for any advice or aid, fiirther than the funds 
necessary for her maintenance. 

" If," said he, " you consider, my dear, that it is 
your duty to care for and educate Zanita, and direct 
her mental growth, then by all means act as your con- 
science directs ; but I am not imbued with the same 
opinion, and I warn you not to allow your heart to mis- 
lead you in this respect, under the very natural and 
feminine idea that it would be pleasant to have a child 
in the house to love and protect. Zanita is not the one 
to increase any one's happiness. And, excuse me for 
doubting that, even under your judicious treatment, she 
will ever make such a woman as a right-minded man 
would esteem and love. But, as I said before, if you 
think that your sacrifice for her good will prove her 
salvation, then, under such circumstances, I say you 
are the good and true little woman I have known you 
to be for fifteen years, and you shall carry out your 
noble intentions." 

Accordingly we started with Zanita for our home in 



MORE THAN A HANDFUL. 101 

Oakland. This journey out of the Valley was one of 
the saddest rides I ever made in my life. Everything 
wore an aspect of woe : the iron Tu-toch-a-nulah him- 
self had a crushed and bowed appearance, as though he 
grieved for the absence of the beautiful spirit that had 
flown away even beyond his cloudy crest. The trees, 
and the few flowers left* by the autumn, seemed to 
droop and pine as for a lost friend. 

It was one of those dying days of the year when 
nature seems expiring with a solemn mournful sob ; 
bright, beautiful, and glorious as she had been for 
months, she was now a thing of the past. Hers is a 
state of transition : the end of one life and the birth of 
another. Human nature, whose existence is still pro- 
tracted, has an internal sympathy with her dissolution, 
and longs to lie down and expire with her. Thus had 
it been with that sweet spirit, so tender, so intimate, so 
loving had been her fellowship with the Great Mother. 
The air was heavy with clouds. A few drops of rain 
now and then fell like our painfully restrained tears. 
The piteous sobs of poor Rosalind, as she had clung to 
all in turn, imploring to be taken to her mamma, and 
believing steadfastly that we were going to join her 
as we had all gone to the funeral, still vibrated in my 
heart. Every moan through the pine boughs seemed 
to bring the agonized cry to my ears, until my heart 
was so full that it ran over. I felt then that I would 
give the world to turn back, and take the child upon 
the saddle before me. 

The Professor, who generally followed the tenor of 
my thoughts pretty accurately, though unexpressed in 
words, here rode close along by my side, and placing 
his hand upon my shoulder, — 

" Come," said he, " bear up ; you have done for 



102 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

the best; the child will be a comfort to her father, and 
it is the only consolation left him. She will be much 
happier in her old home than in a new one, and you 
have relieved them of a great trial in bringing away 
this one, who is absolutely enjoying, in her peculiar 
way, the lashing-up of her horse. If she do not break 
her neck over these rocks and stones before we get 
out of the Valley, I shall regard it as a special Prov- 
idence." 

I looked ahead, and there was Zanita curveting 
and whipping and curbing her horse on a path, not 
much more than half a yard wide, overlooking a 
chaos of rocks and boulders sloping down for a thou- 
sand feet. 

" Zanita ! Zanita 1 " I exclaimed, " stop lashing 
your horse ; he will lose his footing and go over the 
precipice." 

"Aunty," she called back, "he wants to go over, 
and I am trying to prevent him." 

And she continued her exercise ; fortunately the 
horse knew both his path and his rider, and pertina- 
ciously refused to budge an inch oflFthe track. 

" Do you go to her, and take away her whip," I 
said to the Professor, as we exchanged glances of 
meaning that my trials had already commenced. " For, 
although the child is a splendid horsewoman already, 
and could ride a steeple-chase, yet I would rather see 
her anywhere than mounted." 

Indeed my husband congratulated me when we ar- 
rived safely at Mariposa, there to take the stage for 
Stockton. 

But our anxieties were only exchanged, and not re- 
moved ; for having allowed her, under strict promise 
to behave herself, to ride alongside the coachman, she 



MORE THAN A HANDFUL. 103 

easily, with that soft winning look she knew so well 
how to assume when she wished to beguile a stranger, 
succeeded in persuading him to let her handle the ^ 
reins, which she did with such skill and adroitness that 
coachee was amazed and delighted. 

Presently nve heard the whip going, and felt our- 
selves dashing along at a tremendous pace down-hill 
and around comers, the coach swaying to and fro until 
some of the inside passengers began to get alarmed, 
especially as we heard peals of laughter from the box. 

" The driver must be drunk, " said my husband, 
" but he has his horses well in hand. Did you see 
how splendidly we came around that comer ? " ^ 

Suddenly we pulled up with such a jerk, that the 
impetus caused all the vis-a-vis to embrace each other. 
The Professor, putting his head out of the window, 
beheld Miss Zanita struggling with the driver in her 
refusal to give up the reins. 

*' Zanita, you must come inside if you cannot behave 
properly." 

" He let me take the reins, and I drove splendidly 
he said," so pleaded Zanita ; " and if you will allow 
me to remain outside I will not do so again." 

We had not traveled half an hour before the elf, as 
my husband called her, was flourishing about on the 
roof and dangling the whip, to which she had tied a 
bunch of dry sedges, in at the windows of the stage. 

" That ar' gal of yourn seems an imp of mischief," 
said a portly old gentleman in the corner, whose nose 
had been titillated by the sedges. 

We had now to stop the coach, and have the imp 
brought in hon grS mat gri. It was a peculiarity of 
this child that she never fretted over anything, and no 
disappointment, or crossing of her purpose, seemed to 



104 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

afflict her more than two minutes. Her mind never 
dwelt longer on anything. If she were not allowed to 
amuse herself one way, she was fertile in improvising 
another. She had clung to her dead mother before she 
was put into the coffin, and had uttered wild yells, 
screamed, and fought, and bit in a frenzy to prevent 
the coffin from being lowered into the grave. 

But the following day she seemed to have little, if 
any, remembrance of the tragic scene, and it was 
doubtful if the solemnity of her mother's death or ab- 
sence aflFected her in any way. She was self-reliant 
and self-sufficient ; and it was often a matter of doubt 
to me whether the normal afflictions had not been 
curiously omitted in her nature. She never nursed a 
doll, or fondled an animal, or caressed her sister. She 
would make the latter take a part in her play, but al- 
ways to oblige herself. Yet once, when Kenmuir had 
harshly ejected Rosalind from amongst his botanical 
specimens, Zanita seized a chisel, and screamed with 
frantic passion that she would scalp him. 

Being so much older than Rosalind, she ruthlessly 
took possession of whatever plaything she wished, in- 
different to the lamentations of the little one. Yet, as 
a rule, she was- not unkind, though tyrannical. 

It boots not to tell of the hot water she kept our 
V,' erst quiet establishment afloat in ; nor would these 
pages suffice to narrate the ninety-ninth part of her 
escapades : how she rode astride down the banister, 
instead of stepping down the stairs ; how she connived 
with the cat to catch a mouse alive, and put it into 
the meal barrel ; how she would turn the water tap, 
and flood the whole premises ; how it was impossible 
to keep her respectably clothed from any milliners. 
She never could be induced to take care of her cos- 



^ MORE THAN A HANDFUL, 105 

tume ; and of vanity, as far as fixings went, she had 
none. Gathers or trimmings were impracticable, the 
latter were always en queue ^ and the former enfeston. 

I had to take her in hand, and make her dresses in 
one piece, with as few seams or adornments as might 
be ; nothing but back-stitching had a chance. Only on 
Sunday could I venture to dress her as a young lady 
to go to church. 

Even then the Professor alwavs declared he was 
ashamed to go out with her, for her hat could neyer be 
kept straight on her head, and often, if lost sight of for 
a moment, she would have it tied around her body, 
either as a pack or a breastplate, or strung over her 
parasol or umbrella, as though she were off camping 
again. In church she would persistently . sleep and 
yawn aloud, or chew up the leaves of her prayer-book 
as if they were tobacco, making a tremendous display 
of spitting, and, if I gave her a handkerchief, would 
cough and bark until she drew the attention of the 
whole congregation upon her, and then she would 
flash out that elfish glance which expressed her high- 
est state of enjoyment. 

She had not been long in our quiet home in Oak- 
land before most of my friends had come to condole 
with me, and delicately hint that she should be sent 
back into the wilds from whence she came. But the 
more difficult she was to manage, the more I felt that 
her father was unequal to training her : with her head- 
strong will, and relentless, fierce passions, she might 
drift into some fearful catastrophe or crime ; while a 
judicious influence and pressure might subdue and 
guide her to some bright career ; for that she was a 
child of magnificent talents and capabilities was un- 
doubted. 



106 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

. Neither was it possible to conceal her mischievous 
proclivities from omr neighbors ; for if once admitted 
within their homes, there was no further safety for 
them or their belongings. She had sheared the tail and 
mane of the minister's gray pony, which, as his wife 
said, made it look such an indelicate, nude object, that 
she could never ride behind it again. 

Her reputation was thoroughly spread, when, one 
day, having locked myself in my room to write letters, 
which having accomplished, I sought in the parlor 
and kitchen, and was told by the servant that she had 
not seen her, but believed she was playing in the 
back garden, or in one of the trees, her usual resort. 
She answered not to my call, nor was she in the gar- 
den, or in the house ; every room was looked into, 
every closet was opened ; nothing was found. Her 
hat was gone, and she was gone, and we were all non- 
plused. I then waited for a time, thinking she had 
ran in, perhaps, to some of the neighbors. After the 
lapse of a couple of hours, the Professor came home ; 
but no Zanita. 

He expressed considerable alarm when told of the 
circumstance, and suggested that a search through 
Oakland be instituted without delay. He arranged a 
plan, and we all turned out to carry it into execution. 
We dreaded such a beautiful child being decoyed into 
San Francisco, and that she would fearlessly go with 
any one for a sufficient bribe I did not doubt. 

My husband took one street, myself another, and 
the servant a third. We had a young darkey called 
Beppo, or for short " Bepp," about thirteen years old, 
who served our small establishment as errand-boy and 
general skirmisher. He had been questioned at first, 
and his great round eyes opened so wide at the tidings 



MORE THAN A HANDFUL, 107 

of the disappearance of " Missy Zanita," that I wa% 
fain to say, as I often did, " Do close your eyes, Bepp *^.\ 
they'll fall out some day if you stretch them so wide." ^: ' 
I now gave him directions to inin all about the neigh- 
borhood, a jaunt of which he was usually very fond, 
and try to find Miss Zanita. 

He showed his "Avhite teeth, and doubtfully rolled his 
head, which always seemed loose. 

" Missy am not been done gone far away." 
" How do you know — have you seen her ? " 
" I b'leeve missy an't been done gone far away." 
" Nonsense ! " I said, " go directly and look every- 
where until you find her." 
" I'se been gone, missis." 

Two hours of ineffectual search and we became con- 
vinced, to our horror, that the child was not in Oak- 
land ; especially as in my travels I had met a lady who 
said that, from the description given, she had seen such 
a child going on to the ferry-boat, as she came off* that 
day. She had not noticed her dress, but had been 
struck with her remarkable beauty. 

Everything having been done that could be done in 
Oakland, and the police put on the qui vive^ as much 
as could be effected with that body, myself and the 
Professor resolved to go over to San Francisco to trace 
the child "which had been seen on the steamer, and 
communicate with the police in that city, and, as we 
could not conveniently return that night, we decided 
to remain there unless in case of her being discovered, 
when a telegram was to be sent ; then we could hire a 
boat to take us across. 

My heart sunk as I thought of the child wandering in 
the purlieus of San Francisco, and of the perils to which 
she was exposed : that she would readily accompany 



108 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

any one or enter any place I was sure,* for fear was a 
quality which seemed entirely absent from her charac- 
ter. Even worse was the reflection, that she might 
choose to remain in any den of iniquity where it might 
suit them to keep her, with all her acuteness for con- 
cealing herself. I felt that, young as she was, it would 
take more than one adult intellect to compete with her 
in cunning devices. 

As all these thoughts crowded upon me, I was ut- 
terly hopeless, and began to blame myself for bring- 
ing such a child out of her native forest. Communi- 
cating these thoughts to my husband, who, in spite of 
all his repudiation of responsibility, still behaved ad- 
mirably in this emergency, he replied to my fears, — 

" I would not make myself unhappy by entertaining 
those thoughts, my dear, if I were you ; for I think it 
is ten chances to one that the child has hidden herself 
for the purpose of causing all this confusion, and that 
she will turn up in the quarter we least expect. Never- 
theless, we must follow up this trace of her." 

On the ferry-boat, no one who knew her by sight 
had seen her, but a porter at the San Francisco 
depot remembered a little girl with very bright dark 
eyes. I could scarcely keep the tears out of mine, as 
I heard this news. 

You know, my dear,'* commented my husband, 
there are a few hundred little girls with beautiful 
black eyes who might be coming backwards and for- 
wards to Oakland." 

We finally traced the black eyes to the street-cars ; 
there the conductor said that such a little girl traveled 
by his car and had paid her fare with a dime, but did not 
recollect where she got out. As regarding her dress, 
he believed she had blue ribbons in her hat. " No 



(( 
(( 



MORE THAN A HANDFUL, 109 

red?'' said I. "Well, maybe it might be red. I 
could not be clear about that." 

" What 1 not know blue from red ? " I exclaimed, 
impatiently. 

" Well, madam, I guess I can manage to get through 
without knowing. I havn't got to garnish my hat with 
either, and if I want to make our glorious flag, I've 
only to put the two together." 

" But," I continued, in my anxiety, " can't you pos- 
sibly recollect which ? If it was blue, as you first 
said, it was surely not my little girl, and the dread of 
her having come over to the city alone would be at 
an end, and we could renew our efforts in 'Oakland." 

" Wall," said the man immediately, " I guess it was 
blue ; now, I am about certain it was ; " and as my face 
brightened with the hope, he added, — 

"I'm right certain it was the color of your bon- 
net ribbon." 

" Good gracious, man ! " I exclaimed, in despair, 
" that is violet." 

" Wall, it 's that, anyhow I " he persisted ; so we 
went as wise as we came. 

The captain of the police then told us he had seen, 
or heard of, at least six lost little girls, all with black 
eyes, and had no doubt but that he could lay his finger 
upon the one we sought in the course of twenty-four 
hours. He took down from my lips a minute descrip- 
tion of her appearance and dress. 

" Yah 1 " he exclaimed, running his eye over the 
page, " I thought I had her right off if it hadn't a-been 
for them ' slender limbs ' : now the little gal I have in 
my eye has stout legs and arms, and is a right-fleshy 
child." I went on with my description. 

" Yah I I have her," he interrupted ; " speaks rap- 



« 

i 
I 



110 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

idly, does she ? No mistake," and he turned over the 
leaves of his day-book and ran down the columns with 
his finger. 

" There ye are, madam. Black eyes, brown 
nose," — • ( 

" Hail*," I suggested, looking over the page. 

" Quite right, madam ; it is hair I was agoin' — 
straight down ye see. A quill nose," — 

" Aquiline," I put in. 

" Just so ; slender figure, brown dress. There you 
are," called the captain, triumphantly. 

" Hare you got the child ? " I burst out, overjoyed. 

** I guesB I have ; I guess I got just such a one in 
my eye." 

" O, take us to her at once ! " I exclaimed. " If you 
knew the anxiety I have sufiered " — 

" Here you are, madam 1 We'll go at once. I 
knew that child belonged to decent folks, professors 
like yourselves ; so I kept her in my eye, though those 
people swore she belonged to a dead sister-in-law's 
cousin. Yah 1 I knew I should pitch upon it at last. 
I've had that case in my eye for the last ten days, 
madam." 

"O dear!" I. cried, clinging to my husband's 
arm, " then it can't be Zanita ; she was only lost this 
morning." 

" Not her 1 " exclaimed the captain, incredulously ; 
and he again ran his finger down the column of the 
day-book. " Black eyes, brown nose, — nose — how ? 
I tnean a quill nose." 

•' " It is of no use," I repeated ; " the child was safe 
this morning under my care." 

" Well, then, it 's a case of mistaken identity," said 
the captain, " and I'll keep that child in my eye till 






MORE THAN A HANDFUL, 111 

her riglitfal parients does turn up. Now, madam, I 
will just take down liow you came to lose her and 
where you think she is gone, and that is all that I will 
trouble you with this evening." 

Having given our address in the city and in Oak- 
land, and promising to call early next morning, for 
which the captain said there was not the slightest ne- 
cessity, that he could lay his finger on her in twenty- 
four hours if she was in the city of San Francisco, and 
" if she wasn't, as a matter of course, why, he couldn't, 
that was all." 

We returned to our hotel anxious and disconsolate ; 
at least I was, but the Professor declared that he felt 
hopeftil, as he had come to the conclusion that Zanita 
had not been in the city at all, and was safely in hid- 
ing in Oakland, for there was no place we could think 
of where she could be drowned or have fallen over. 

" That child is the incarnation of mischief, and you 
will have to get accustomed to her vagaries and not 
worry about her, whatever happens I " 

" Her poor mother never did," I replied, " and it 
seems as though she was the only one who could con- 
trol her." ' 

" Well, my dear," said my husband, in his consola- 
tory way, ** I think you manage her very well whilst 
she is by you, but unless you could influence her mag- 
netically, and exercise some superhuman sort of con- 
trol, I do not see how these untoward proceedings can 
be foreseen or avoided." 

I never passed a more uncomfortable and restless 
night than at the hotel. I found it impossible to keep 
my imagination in repose for a moment. I was in 
spirit prowling all over the country, rummaging into 
every possible and impossible place. She might have 



112 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

fallen down somebody's well ; she never could keep her 
hand from interfermg with anything she saw. Had 
she walked out into the country and taken refuge in 
some bam ? 

I resolved to have all the out-houses and wells 
searched next day. Could she have wandered down 
by the beach and been carried off by the tide ? She 
could swim like a fish, and I had a feeling that she 
could not be drowned. 

After settling all my plans for the coming day 1 got 
a few moments of rest. 

Early the next morning the Professor went around 
to the ojffice of the chief of police, and to all the dif- 
ferent places where we had given information the 
evening before, but without gaining any satisfactory 
result. The captain admitted he had not got her 
rightly in his eye, but would no doubt lay his finger on 
her in twenty-four hours. We, consequently, returned 
home weary and heart-sick. 

Our woolly-headed page met us at the cars : from 
the grin on his countenance visible far away in the 
distance, I rushed to the conclusion that there was 
good news, and communicated my hope to the Pro- 
fessor. 

" See how delighted he looks ; they must have found 
her ! " 

" Bepp has a capability of always being delighted, 
and I doubt very much whether the seriousness of the 
affair has as yet penetrated both the wool and the cra- 
nium. I suspect his pleasure arises firom having caught 
. a glimpse of you in the cars." 

" Is Miss Zanita found ? " I called fi'om the car 
window as soon as we were within hail. Bepp grinned 
assent and rolled his head in negative. 



MORE THAN A HANDFUL,. 113 

^^ What a tantalizing boy that is I Is Miss Zanita 
found ? " I cried, jumping off the car and seizing him 
by the shoulder. 

^' Missy Zanita no found ; she am been gone in the 
night." 

" How do you know ? If she came in the night she 
must be at the house now. Is she ? " 

" B'leeve Missy Zanita gone been in the night." 

We hastened home, Beppo following, looking very 
serious, but no more intelligible. Martha, our girl, 
was standing at the door. 

" Not the slightest tidings of her," she said, answer- 
ing my inquiry, before I could utter it. 

"What does that goose, Bepp, mean about the 
night ? " 

" I don't know," said Martha, coloring. " He fan- 
cies he saw her, or dreamed he did." 

After some further talk we again took up the search. 
Martha went off on one expedition, and I started to 
hire a horse and buggy to be driven around the sub- 
urbs. I had not gone more than a hundred yards 
from the house, when I recollected that I might require 
more money than I had in my purse. I at once re- 
traced my steps, opened the door softly with the latch- 
key, and was half-way up-stairs toward, my bedroom, 
when I was startled by a fearful crash in one of 
the rooms below, which sounded as though all the 
crockery in the house had been broken. I thought of 
a strange cat having got into my china and store closet, 
and rushed to the spot. 

The door was partly open, and there, astride the dS* 
bris of my best tea-set, jam-pots, apples, peaches, dry 
tea, and coffee-beans, stood the lost Zanita, with a 

8 



114 A TALE OF THE TO-SEMITE. 

gleam of half discomfited mischief in her roguish 
eyes. 

" Why Zanita ! " I exclaimed, " where have you 
been ? " 

" Nowhere," was the prompt reply. " Has aunty 
just come back from San Francisco ? " 

" Certainly I have, where I have been looking for 
you. You naughty child ! Where have you been ? " 
I repeated. " Tell me, instantly." 

" Aimty, I have not been anywhere, — not even into 
the garden to play whilst you were absent," cried the 
little witch demurely, attempting to make believe she 
had been conducting herself most exemplarily during 
my short stay in San Francisco. 

" Where were you yesterday, and last night ? " 

", Sometimes in one room^ sometimes in another." 

I now recollected that we had all' been away during 
the greater portion of the time, and that she had the 
ftdl roam of the rooms to herself. 

" What part of the house were you in when I was 
calling you ? " 

" I did not hear you calling," she said, with the 
most innocent look. 

" How came all this breakage ? " 

" I was trying to reach an apple." 

" You could not have broken the shelf trying to 
reach an apple," I said : and now the whole mystery 
flashed upon my mind. She had mounted the shelf 
and hidden away in the dark corner, so that a person 
coming from the light and looking in would not observe 
her ; and when she had found the house clear had 
roamed about at large, concealing herself when she 
heard any one approach. Thus, probably, Beppo had 



MORE THAN A HANDFUL. 115 

seen her ; but there was some Masonic understanding 
between them. 

"Now, Zanita, tell me, were you not upon that 
shelf? " 

" I was just camping there," she pleaded,* at last 
brought to bay, " and I'll mend all the cups and sau- 
cers with pine gum, and I'll put a stanchion under the 
shelf, so that it won't break again." 

" No," I said, "it will never break again when it is 
mended ; for, in punishment of the naughty trick you 
know that you have played, you shall not enter that 
closet again for six months." 

This was a terrible infliction, for it was her special 
delight to bring me fruit and cake &om the closet, to 
which, no doubt, she helped herself. She made no 
murmur or to do, but just turned rQund and began to 
fit the china together. 

Most of our friends were of opinion that she ought 
to receive a sound whipping, and that it would cure 
her of such exploits ; but, besides doubting the wisdom 
of Solomon in general as to the use of the rod, in this 

?}eeial case it would have been the climax of evil, 
ear of anything would never deter her accomplishing 
whatever she had set her heart upon, but a constant 
privation was what she could less endure. She was 
passionately fond of good things to eat, and for this 
gratification she was likely to sacrifice the other pro- 
pensity to mischief. 

At this juncture of affairs the Professor came in, 
and I hastened to inform him of the manner of the 
discovery. He was not a man of many words and said 
nothing, except his expressive little "Humph, humph 1 " 
Zanita pretended hard to appear as though uncon- 
cerned in the conversation, but under her. long dark 



116 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

lashes she was keeping a keen watch upon the Pro- 
fessor, like a wary dog guarding an enemy that might 
turn out dangerous. But she avoided meeting his 
eye. There was a straggle for mastery sUently going 
on between the child and the man, very curious to ob- 
serve. 

He was making her aware that no such pranks 
could be safely played with him or anything appertain- 
ing to him. Unconsciously, she was trying to repudiate 
this impression, and reviewing in her mind how she 
could create a disturbance in his geological and botan- 
ical specimens. That she would fall foul of bis study 
some day had been my fear and dread since she had 
entered the house. But my comfiture and pickle closet 
had been the first victim. 

Presently the eyes of the silent and fierce combat- 
ants met, and Zanita received a glance which made 
her dark orbs droop and quiver. She turned • away 
with that peculiar laugh of hers, half glower and half 
leer, and the contortion which came over her delicate 
and already expressive little face said as plainly as if 
spoken in words, — 

" I see I must not come in collision with you, but 
there is mischief enough to beat outside your study, 
and I'll circumvent you in many a way you don't 
think of." 

My husband, and I exchanged glances of intelli- 
gence. 

" It is very hard for you, my dear," he said, laying 
his hand on my shoulder, "but courage! you have to 
meet the ordeal you have undertaken." i 

"It seems to me," he added, sitting down on the 
lounge beside me, as he always did for a cozy chat, — . 

" it seems to me a problem which I cannot solve. To ! 



MORE THAN A HANDFUL. 117 

start with the beneficence of Providence, it is a mystery 
that He should burden a poor child with such a char- 
acter from no fault of any one that we can see, unless 
one is lugged out from some of the remote relics of her 
dead ancestors and bequeathed to her as a legacy, for 
neither her father nor mother had any of these peculiar 
traits. It is the unnatural development of the organs 
of destructiveness, secretiveness, and ideality." 

" Admitted ; but her mothef was not secretive, per- 
haps a little reticent from timidity, but simple and 
truthful as a May morning, and her ideality was of the 
most spiritual and angelic character; and her father 
is as honest and upright as day, — a man without 
guile." 

" Where, then, does she get her inaptitude, or, I 
may say, her incapacity, for truth ? " 

" It is her want of conscientiousness," I replied. 

" Allowed," returned my jiusband ; " but how are 
you going to supply it ? Don't you admit that it is 
a misfortune to be bom .without conscientiousness ? " 

" Certainly I do ; but by cultivating that organ and 
repressing -destructiveness, I hope, in a measure, to 
counteract the misfortune." 

" Well," said the Professor, smiling, " we shall see 
who has the best success : I with my cabinet, or you 
with your china closet." . 

Here we were interrupted by Martha's voice, ex- 
claiming, — 

'* My, my I if you ain't a little cuss I I never did ! 
I wish you were my child ; I'd spank you while I 
could stand over you — that I would 1 " 

" No you wouldn't," retorted Zanita ; " I'd just put 
matches and powder under your be/^if you Vere my 
mother, and blow you up in blazes.'^ 



118 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" I'll bet you would ; there 's nothing impish that'll 
beat you. Where have you been ? " 

" Nowhere," cried Zanita. " I've never been out of 
the house. But you have ; you've been out all 
night, and I'll tell aunty of you if you don't leave me 
alone." 

"Drat the child! she must be a witch : how do you 
know ? " 

Zanita let fly her elfin fire, but said nothing. 

Here I called Martha and explained the situation. 

"And were you out, Martha?" I inquired. 

" True for you, ma'am, I was : I'm sorry I left the 
house when you and the Professor was out, but it hap- 
pened just this how. I fell asleep in my chair right 
early, and was awoke by a queer-like noise that set all 
my hair up, and I come out in a reg'lar prespiration : 
it was the strangest kind of thing. First, as though 
something had tickled my face, like the cat's tail, 
ma'am, but when I got up there was no cat, and I 
heard the strangest noise — well, more like the spirits 
in Purgatory than anything I can think of." 

Here Zanita, her face buried in the so& cushions, 
was shaking with suppressed memmeht. 

" Zanita ! what is the matter ; do you know any- 
thing about it?" 

"No, nothing, aunty," said the child, looking up 
as grave as a judge, her great dark eyes troubled as 
though mischief had never been reflected firom the 
same orbs. 

" Well, ma'am, as I was saying, I just made tracks 
out of the door to fetch up Bepp, and then I bethinks 
me that if it was any of the brood of Satan, why a 
nigger might be the best to help him, both being of 
the same color like. So I just stepped into Mrs. Wad- 



^1 



r MORE THAN A HANDFUL. 119 

dy's, next door, and found Jane sitting ap, ironing ; 
and she said, said she, that even with a hot iron she'd 
not like to face sach a dispensation of Providence as 
spirits in Purgatory appearing in acshul presence as 
they are allowed to do, you know ma'am, on All-Hal- 
low's Eve. So the long and short of it is, I slept with 
Jane, and I've not seen the cat this morning, and I do 
confess and believe that the devil and all his works 
have taken it." 

At thb avowal of faith another convulsion from 
Zanita confirmed the idea I had formed of this tragic 
story. 

" Now, Zanita," I said, "tell me where the cat is I " 

" You bet she'll know if any one. does. I'm blessed 
if she ain't in telegrammatical communication with the 
devil, as is a growling lion as she is, always a talking 
about in them forests where she comes from." 

" Where is the cat, Zanita ? " I repeated. 

Zanita cast down her eyes and twined her » slender 
, fingers, as she was in the habit of dping when seeking 
for a plausible subterfuge. 

To my reiterated question she answered, " O, it 
was probably a tiger-cat, a great frightful striped thing 
that came down to the cottage at home in heavy snow* 
storms. Ah I Martha, it 's a wonder it didn't tear your 
eyes out and your hair off, specially your waterfall 
that 's just like a bird's-nest, and the tiger-cat would 
think there were young ones in it, and would eat it all 
up, and you too," she concluded, her eyes gleaming 
with delight at the horror and disgust expressed by 
Martha as she refixed her waterfall. 

I could scarcely keep from laughing, but I said, 
gravely, — • 

" Zanita, that will not do. You must tell me where 
the cat is I " 



,H 



^ 



120 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" Well, then," she said, throwing her arms about me 
with her sweetest manner, " may I go into the closet 
again if I tell ? " 

" No ! certainly you cannot ; but you must tell all 
the same." 

Havincr retreated behind her last fastness and unable 
to make terms, she yielded at discretion and whis- 
pered, — 

" In the wood-shed." 

" Come, then," I said, taking her hand, " let us find 
her." 

We all went into the wood-shed, and there, as 
pointed out by my protSgS^ in a barrel, the lid heavily 
weighted by a lump of coal, lay poor pussy, still and 
lifeless, with my gilt leather cincture, to which a buckle 
was attached, drawn tightly round her neck. 

To our mutual exclamations of horror, Zanita re- 
plied, — 

" I put a pretty collar on her, aunty ; you said she 
should have a pretty collar." 

" Don't say a word, you naughty child ; how could 
you be so cruel as to kill poor Kitty ? " 

" I didn't kill her. I only pulled the strap to stop 
her making a noise and waking Martha." 

"Yes, whilst you tickled her face with pussy's 
tail!" 

I took the poor kitten on my lap and unfastened the 
strap, and made Zanita stand and look at her while I 
appealed to her higher and softer feelings. I repre- 
sented the suffering of the kitten and how playful and 
cunning she had ever been. 

" She scratched me, once 1 " said Zanita. 

I used my utmost eloquence, and pictured the death 
of the kitten in the most pathetic strain. It was all in 



MORE THAN A HANDFUL. 121 

vain ; not a tear could I win, not an expression of sor- 
row or remorse flickered for an instant over her statue- 
like face. She coolly turned to Martha and said, — 

" Martha, won't you skin it, just like you do the 
rabbits, and let me have the skin to make cuffs like 
aunty's, to wear in snow time." 

I gave up trying to excite any tenderness as quite 
hopeless, and carried the cat to the Professor, who had 
been in his study all the time. To my great relief he 
pronounced the animal not dead. 

" It is a case of suspended animation, and possibly 
we may resuscitate her." 

The Professor went to work, with a little' science 
and more good- will, and poor pussy was soon crawling 
about, — very languidly at first, but rapidly gaining 
strength, and bearing no malice toward Miss Zanita. 

Children who are alreadv callous to the delicate 
emotions, without a clear sense of justice or right, do 
not recognize the punishment of the rod as retributive, 
but only as an exercise of power which they set them- 
selves to defeat by every means within their grasp. 
They do liot resolve never again to commit the act for 
which they have been punished, but they determine to 
so plan and plot, to so lie and deceive, that they shall 
never again be caught. Thus they are not improved, 
but rendered ten times more vicious than before. 
Boys, especially, are often fearless and take delight in 
daring a danger, which, if incurred, wiU assuredly 
bring them pain. They know when they climb trees 
they may fall and break their limbs, and suffer weeks 
of confinement and agony ; but no boy was ever 
deterred from climbing by fear of consequences, or 
from stealing apples by fear of a wliipping, even though 
he has suffered from either : he merely acts with more 



122 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

caution in placing his footing, or waits till it is darker, 
or the owner of the apples more distant. 

If Zanita had been whipped she would have taken 
the first opportunity of practicing the same infliction 
on the cat, or dog, or child over whom she might have 
control. I should have been in terror lest somebody's 
baby would be found beaten to death with the stair 
rod or hand broom, so vindictive and hard was her 
nature. Pain and suffering in another seemed to 
afford her absolute pleasure, — like the Queen Joanna 
of Naples, who is said to have had her lover tortured 
to death before her eyes. I did not doubt that my 
protSgS possessed much the same disposition, and 
would, exercise it with the same gusto when she had 
the power. 

To counteract this idiosyncrasy I endeavored to ex- 
clude her from the sight or knowledge of any act of 
cruelty, for even the killing of bears, snakes, and wild 
animals, in her forest life, had already had a most bane- 
ful effect on her character. Life of bird, beast, or 
man was alike indifferent to her. She was as callous 
about her mother's death as about that of her favorite 
calf or dog. 

" How did she die ? " she would ask me over and 
over again, when I mentioned the subject. If I could 
have told her she had been shot, or fallen off Tu-tock- 
a-nulah, or drowned in the Mercede, she would have 
taken great interest in the subject ; but she lacked 
sympathy and even appreciatioif of her sweet, saint-like 
mother. She could perceive no beauty in earth, or 
sky, or rock, or river, nor yet in her own exquisite 
face. 

" Aunty," she said one day, " that little girl at 
Waddy's says I'm not as pretty as she is, because she 



MORE THAN A HANDFUL, 123 

has got light hair like Cozy.^ Isn't that rubbish? 
Who cares about being pretty ! I can jump three 
times as high as she can, and throw a stone and hit 
any one chicken you like to say." 

" No, indeed, I do not like ' to say ' ; and you must 
not throw at the chickens." 

In many ways she had the character of a boy. She 
was never known to cry, and I have seen her, as a 
little one, bruised all over, show up her wounds and 
scratches, and even glory in them. 
• " You never had such a deep cut as that I " she 
would cry, exultingly. 

Some days she would limp and explain to every one 
that a large rock had rolled over and crushed her 
foot. 



CHAPTER XII. 

BREACHES OF DECORUM. 

But my chief and most fomndable difficulties arose 
in respect of her religious training. She was lament- 
ably deficient in the organ of veneration, and as she 
had never seen a church or perhaps never heard of 
one, until she came to Oakland, it was difficult to teach 
her any sort of reverence for the holy building. 

" Why is it naughty to laugh in church, aunty ? " 
she would say to my lecture on good behavior in the 
sacred edifice. 

" Because it is the house of God, and you ought to 
. behave respectfully in it." 

" Is God there ? " 

" Yes, He dwells therein." 

*' Mamma told me no one had ever seen God, Why 
didn't He have a house iij the Valley ? " 

" No, no one has ever seen Him, for He is a Spirit, 
and invisible to human eyes. But He has promised 
that when even two or three assemble together in 
His name He will be amongst them." 

"O, then it's for the people," cried Zanita, — jump-, 
ing at once at the Quakar principle of a meeting-house. 
" Why doesn't God come here then when you and I, 
and the Professor and Martha, say our prayers ? " 

" He does." 

" Then I suppose," she remarked, with a merry 
twinkle of her elfin eyes, " He wouldn't like me to 



BREACHES OF DECORUM, 125 

laugh here ; but I miist laugh somewhere ; perhaps 
then in the stable would be best." 

She suddenly assumed a grave, anxious expression, 
as though she were really earnestly wishful to accom- 
modate the Almighty. I could not keep my counte- 
nance, and was obliged to change the subject. 

Not having been brought up to go to church, she 
could never be made to understand its importance and 
the gravity of the matter ; and her keen and pertinent 
observations made it exceedingly difficult to inculcate 
the formalities of religion. 

But a climax of all arrived shortly, when the clergy- 
man himself was obliged to take her in hand. 

There was a little boy, a neighbor's child, with 
whom Zanita would take it into her head to play for a 
week together, and then drop him, and take up with 
a little girl on the other side of the street. He was a 
chubby, sturdy little fellow, with innocent blue eyes, 
that never knew a glint of mischief. Being two years 
younger than Zanita, she made a complete cats-paw of 
him, compelling him to become the particeps criminiB 
in all her mischief, and then, as with Cozy, made him 
the scapegoat. " Tommy did it,'- was always her de- 
fense for eveiy misdemeanor. 

One Sunday morning — I shall never forget it, as it 
witnessed one of the most absurd mortifications of my 
life — I had made her quite neat, and succeeded in 
keeping her clean until church-time. 

" O, aunty. Tommy and I want to walk to church 
together, and his mother says we may." 

" Very well," I said ; " take him by the hand and 
walk straight, and don't touch anything by the way." 

She started off. She wore a scarlet merino dress 
liandsomely braided and trimmed, and a soft white vel- 



126 A TALE OF TEE YO-SEMITE. 

vet hat -with white feathers, — she looked dazzlingly 
beautiful ; and people could not help regarding her ad* 
miringly when she went out in this costume. 

The Professor and myself walked on to church, 
which was not two hundred yards distant. Zanita 
was not there when we arrived. Presently the Dick- 
sons, Tommy's parents, came in. I had arranged the 
books, and found the Sunday of the month, when I be- 
came aware of a strange rustling, and something which 
sounded like a titter through the congregation. The 
minister had just entered, and fixed his large gray 
eyes on some object in questioning sui'prise. I hastily 
turned, and there were the children walking slowly 
down the aisle, hand in hand, as though duly impressed 
with the solemnity of the moment ; but they had 
changed costumes. Tommy was arrayed in Zanita's 
scarlet dress ; and she in Tommy's knickerbockers 
jL and jacket, covered with a formidable array of bright 
buttons ; his little hat set jauntily on her hair, and the 
poor little fellow completely overpowered by the vel- 
vet and plumes. 

Two such ridiculous little mummers never before 
tickled the fancy of a pious congregation. Tommy's 
dress was much too long for him, and Zanita's pants 
indecorously short. He walked on in good faith ; but 
she was acting, splendidly, and no one could have told 
from her countenance that she was conscious of her 
grotesqueness. 

The congregation had to bury their faces in their 
pews as at the first prayer. Mrs. Dickson and myself 
made a rush each to our metamorphosed brats, and 
bore them rapidly out of the church ; Mrs. Dickson, 
who was a portly woman, becoming purple in the face 
with shame and horror, and the shaking of poor Tom- 



BREACHES OF DECORUM, 127 

my until he was the color of his dress. And both bid 
fair to have a stroke of apoplexy. 

" Zanita ! " I said severely, when we were outside 
the church, " I am ashamed of you." 

" Tommy," she began, assuming a scandalized air, 
— " Tommy wanted " — 

" No," I interrupted ; " don't attempt to put the 
blame on Tommy ; you know perfectly well you alone 
are responsible for the whole." 

" Well, aunty," she cried remonstratingly, shifting 
her tactics, *' you know you said yourself that Tommy 
should have been a girl, and that it was a mistake that 
I was not a boy. So I told Tommy what you said, 
and he said ' Yes,' and then of course I had to put his 
clothes on when he had mine." 

'' I'll give him a right good spanking," cried Mrs. 
Dickson. 

Zanita laughed, and seemed in prospect to enjoy 
it. At Mr. Dickson's house, which was fortunately 
quite near at hand, we changed the respective gar- 
ments again, 

" Aunty,'' said Zanita, whose irrepressible temper- 
ament could never be subdued for a moment, " were 
not all the people naughty to-day in church ? " 

" Why ? " I asked. 

" O, they all laughed so much : wasn't it shocking I " 

I explained that the shocking part was the one who 
had made them laugh. 

The following day I intended calling upon our min- 
ister, and making what explanation and apology I 
could. But he anticipated me, and came in during 
the morning. 

He said that the child had an extraordinary sense of 
humor ; but that it ought t<5 be repressed, and that he 



128 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

would like to speak to her. I sent for her. She came 
in biting the end of her ajffon, hanging her head, and 
affecting the greatest shyness. 

The minister eyed her approvingly ; he thought his 
imposing presence had subdued her ; but I had no 
such hope. He was a large heavy man, with dark hair 
and bilious complexion : the most prominent feature 
of his face was a decided hook-nose ; his eyes, of an 
exceedingly neutral gi'ay, were set in a pair of tortoise- 
shell spectacles, which gave him the look of some won- 
derful and rare bird, such as one sees in museums. 
If Zanita did not perceive the comic side of this 
countenance it would be a wonder. 

We had some trouble in getting her to approach 
him ; she seemed so fearfully ashamed, and she did it 
so well, that the thought flew through my mind that 
she might possibly feel a little overawed. 

" My dear little girl," said the minister, " I want to 
have a long talk with you. I want to show you what 
a wicked thing you did yesterday in church." 

Zanita answered never a word. She stood on one 
leg, and examined the nails on the sole of her boot. 

" Zanita, stand straight," I said. 

She put down her foot and became rigid. 

" Do you know, if you are naughty, where you'^will 
go when you die ? " said the minister solemnly. 

" When shall I die ? " asked the child. 

" I don't know ; that is in the hands of the Almighty." 

" Then I don't know where I shall go ; that is in 
^^he hands of the Almighty also," returned Zanita. 
" WJiere will you go when you die ? " she said, follow- 
ing up her advantage. 

'' To heaven, I hope," said the clergyman deci- 
sivelv. • 



BREACHES OF DECORUM. 129 

" Then I guess we'll split tracks," and she laughed 
right in his face. 

" Zanita," I interposed, " you must not laugh when 
you are speaking to the minister." 

" Aunty, I can't help laughing ; he is just like our 
jackdaw, and you always say you cannot help laugh- 
ing at him, he looks so ridiculously wise." 

I began to see the minister would make no way with 
her. 

" My dear little girl," he resumed, " I came to talk 
entirely about your conduct yesterday. Do you know 
it is very wicked to assume male attire ? " 

"What's that?" said Zanita eagerly, pretending 
she felt anxious to be enlightened. 

" Men's clothes, or boys*,'' he added, lest she might 
find a loop-hole by his want of explicitness. 

" O," cried Zanita, " Nell Radd always wears her 
husband's pants when she travels over the moun- 
tains. I've seen her in them many a time, and I know 
they are Radd's." 

" I am afraid she cannot be a very proper person," 

. said the minister, evasively. The minister felt he 

could not pursue this question of " women wearing 

the breeks" much further, and being again outflanked, 

said, — 

" Well, I think the best thing you can do will be to 
learn your Catechism, and come to my Sunday class." 

Zanita had been sucking her thumb, and now 
brought it out with a pop. 

" That 's drawing a cork," she said, " did you know 
it?" 

'* Say ! " cried Zanita running to the door as I was 
politely bowing him out, " have you got any little 
girls ? " 

9 



• 4 



180 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

" Yes," he replied, " I have three." 

" Have they got black rims around their eyes like 
you ? " she asked with her elfish laugh. 

I put my hand on her mouth, and pushed her 
behind me. 

Our minister never wanted a second conversation 
with Zanita ; but repeated, whenever we met, — 

** Train up a child in the way he should go, and 
when he is old he will not depart from it." 



I 

* 



'■f 



1 1 



J 



CHAPTER Xin. 



zanita's schooling. 



It would require volumes to narrate the troubles, 
trials, mishaps, adventures, and vicissitudes I went 
through in my eamdst endeavor to carry out the min- 
ister's precepts, — " to train up the child in the way 
she should go." This aphorism ignores entirely that the 
child had a way of her own, from which she was equally 
determined not to depart, and training in the ordinary 
sense was, therefore, quite out of the question. It was 
struggling, urging, persuading, forcing, coaxing, argu- 
ing; but as for all this putting her in the right way and 
fancying she would not depart from it, that was as ef- 
fective as pouring water into a sieve and expecting it 
to remain. 

I do not believe that the right way ever has an 
attraction for children ; unless breaking the crockery- 
ware, scratching enameled' surfaces, cutting triangu- 
lar holes in a texture which the ingenious loom had 
contrived to make a compact drapery, be deemed right 
and proper. Some children have a propensity to stand 
on their heads, most, of them for performing surgical 
operations on their own persons with purely me- 
chanical instruments, such as cleavers, corkscrews, 
boot-hooks, etc. ; few children who do not prefer wet 
shoes to dry ones if there is a puddle within their 
reach ; few who do not try to possess exactly that ob- 
ject which they see cherished by their little neigh- 



132 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

bors, — stories of the man in the moon in no way 
abating their covetousness. 

Thus training a child contrary to nature is very like 
training the ^spots on a leopard to grow in streaks, by 
constantly stroking them in the required direction. I 
do not know what effect the process might have if per- 
sistently followed ; but it could not be much more hope- 
less than the training of Zanita in the way the minis- 
ter said she ought to go ; nor do I believe that Zanita, 
although a little peculiar, was altogether an exception. 
For most children are trained in the way they should 
go, yet it would be difficult to find the individual who 
has not departed from it directly he became his own 
master. 

Most boys try smoking as soon as they leave school, 
and experiment in the use of spirits, simply because 
they have been forbidden. Their own sense, or sensa- 
tion, may deter them from continuing the practice, but 
they do not abstain because they have, been instructed 
in the right way and will not depart from it. 

Habit is doubtless a wonderful director and guide ; 
but some children, such as Zanita, are of such a vola- 
tile, erratic temperament, that habit seems impossible 
to them, unless under the form of regularity in irregu- 
larity. 

With her instruction we had no difficulty ; her per- 
ceptive faculties were .so keen that she speedily mas- 
tered any task set before her. She had no taste for 
music, and, therefore, we did not urge her to learn ; 
for to have made her practice so much per day would 
have been to attempt training her in one of those ways 
in which she would not go. It is certain that a man 
may lead the horse to the water, but he cannot make 
him drink. 



^.tti 



Z ANITA'S SCHOOLING, "133 



With a view more to obtaining a little discipline 
than any amount of learning, of which she had already 
too much, I sent her to a day-school in Oakland ; but J 
soon discovered that instead of being trained herself, 
she was exercising dominion overall the other girls, lit- 
tle and big. She could tell a great deal they did not 
know of natural history, ornithology, and mechanics, 
and was quite beyond the control of mistress or tutors. 
She was soon expelled for determined insubordination. ^ 

She could not be made to understand this was a dis- 
grace ; but took it in her usual stoical way, and re- 
marked, — 

" Well, after all, aunty, I would rather you taught 
me ; for you tell me about a great many more interest- 
ing things than they did at school." 

For drawing she displayed no taste, if some little 
talent for her efforts consisted in strong caricatures. 
Her cattle would have lame legs, or broken horns, or 
too curly tails ; and her faces usually squinted, or had 
teeth projecting like Nell's, or enormous beards flying, 
or mop-heads like old Methley's, or any monstrosity 
she might chance to meet in the street. Not wishing 
to train this propensity I wasted no time upon her 
drawing, unless occasionally to set her a model, which 
she usually caricatured. 

Another interval passed in which we kept her at 
home, and got on tolerably well upon ordinary occa- 
sions ; for the child was never bad-tempered or fretful, 
ne^er had recourse to weeping, or distressed herself 
about any reprimand or opposition. But upon any 
particularly important occasion, if we had friends vis- 
iting us, or if we went upon an excursion, Zanita was 
sure to come out in full force, and conduct herself 
shockingly, so that all my neighbors pitied me, and 
shook their heads, saying derisively, — 



184' A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" Poor Mrs. Brown I she has a nice time of it with 
that child ; and never corrects her either. It is 
strange how a sensible man like the Professor can al- 
low his wife to cairy out such vagaries, and the child 
no kith or kin to them. It 's sheer romantic nonsense ; 
just because her mother died up among those wild 
mountains, where it does not appear quite the thing 
for a respectable female to go, among bears and bram- 
bles of all kind ; and makes the child that she has no 
more conscience than a squirrel. She jumped upon 
our hog and rode him round the lot, with her face to 
his tail ; and our minister, who had just come from the 
East, took her for one of my children, and inquired if 
that was California sport. I never was so mortified 
in my life, and took the liberty of mentioning the cir- 
cumstance to Mrs. Brown, who only remarked that 
Zanita was very primitive in her playfellows ; never 
havinor had children she fraternized with animals." 

One friend, however, took an interest in the won- 
derful precocity of the child ; this was Mr^. Primer, who 

/ kept a very superior Young Ladies' Seminary at San 
Jos^. She became charmed with Zanita's conversation 
about the habits of animals and plants, — information 
she had gleaned from Kenmuir, — and her shrewd re- 
marks upon everything she saw. She regarded her 
escapades as mere espieglerie and evidence of genius. 
She was, like myself, fascinated with her brilliant 
imagination, and no doubt thought she would make 
her quite a show pupil if properly managed. But in 
that " if" lay the whole conclusion. 

Willing to give her every chance, it was arranged 

I that Zanita should go on trial for three months to Mrs. 
Primer's establishment. 

. Zanita in no way objected. 'She w^as ever ready for 
any change that promised her adventure ; and she was 



ZANITA'S SCHOOLING. 135 

no more troubled at leaving her home in Oakland than 
she had been at quitting her fatlier and the Valley. 
Her self-reliance made her quite adequate to going 
among strangers, for she usually had the best of any 
encounter, and was perfectly fearless. 

For the ^rst three weeks, Zanita must have been on 
her best behavior, and displayed such talent that Mrs. 
Primer wrote me that she was perfectly enraptured 
with the girl, and was not surprised that I had adopted 
such a prodigy. 

The letters that followed were not as enthusiastic ; 
for although she could not cease from admiring Zanita's 
talents, yet she had certain powers that indeed might 
bring about a brilliant career, which were nevertheless 
dangerous in a school. 

Her power of mimicry, that might make her a greftit 
actress, thoroughly demoralized and disorganized the 
school ; for girls when once set giggling are hopelessly 
beyond control. 

Unfortunately one of the teachers, a person of great 
merit and erudition, was subject to a nervous affection 
of the face, causing a spasmodic twitching, which Miss 
Zanita had succeeded in imitating so amusingly, that 
whenever she 'practiced it the whole class were inevit- 
ably convulsed with laughter. To attempt to disgrace 
her by sending her out of the room was no avail, for, 
upon the first opportunity, when the class had become 
steady and penitent, she would boldly repeat her of- 
fense with equal success. 

The following week I was informed that she had 
turned her attention to the Professor of French, an 
•old gentleman of the anoien regime who was a snufF- 
taker, and usually drew out his tortoise-shell box, 
tapped and took a .pinch of snufF before examining a 



136 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

pupil's thSme. Zanita had procured a bit of oil-cloth 
about the same color, made a box, and audaciously imi- 
tated him in snuffing before his very eyes. The Pro- 
fessor felt very badly about it, and expressed his un- 
willingness to teach a young lady who could so ungrate- 
fully turn him into ridicule, the more especially as she 
had been his favorite pupil and best French scholar. 

Moreover, Mrs. Primer informed me that Zanita's 
persistent insubordination was becoming detrimental 
to the discipline of the school ; that she had acquired 
so much power over the risible faculties of the young 
ladies as to be able to throw them into a state of dis- 
order any moment she pleased, and was fast making 
caricatures fashionable in the establishment. 

It was useless to attempt to punish her, as she could 
riot be made to feel that she was under any disgrace. 
If a task was imposed upon her she learned it with the 
utmost dispatch, and, as a matter of course, it cost her 
no trouble, and she never took it to heart as such. If 
she were coijfined in her own room, she seemed rather 
to enjoy it than otherwise ; and being given dry bread 
she would eat it heartily, remarking that it was just 
like " camping out " when they never had butter, and 
Cozy used to cry for it. " I wish Cozy were here 
now; wouldn't she yell and make a bother." 

Although Zanita was by no means indifferent to 
good things, yet upon occasion she could content her- 
self with a dry crust and despise her little injuries. 

Mrs! Primer concluded by saying that although still 
of the opinion that my protSgS would make a most 
brilliant character, if properly trained, she could not 
believe that a school was the atmosphere that she 
needed ; in fact she would contaminate half the class 
before her own reform could be accomplished. Under 



I 

i 






r 



ZANITA'S SCHOOLING. 137 

these circumstances she regretted that she must ask 
me to take my daughter away before the term specified 
had expired, and that she would prepare her to leave 
the following day but one, if I could kindly come for 
her, elaa she could be sent under care of some friend. 

Thus Zanita returned, as blithe as ever; and was ^ 
extremely diverting in her graphic descriptions of the 
boarding-school. 

The Professor used to take infinite amusement from 
her eccentricities ; there had from the first appeared to 
exist a kind of truce between them ; she never played 
him any tricks, for she was too wily to make him her .3 

victim, and never evinced anything but stolid indiffer- 
ence to his teaching. But usually she was keenly 
alive even to the most abstruse of his conversations, 
and delighted him by her bright intelligence. 

To my remonstrances my husband would reply, — 
" My dear, she is a born actress and cannot help it. 
She must go on the stage, where she may play a part 
all her life long." 

She imitates even you, behind your back," I said, 
and does it uncommonly well ; with a book in hand, 
a pair of scissors for an eye-glass, her feet crossed upon 
another chair, and her mouth puckered up, just as you 
often hold yours when absorbed in reading." 

The Professor laughed. " I would like to see her ; 
I should t*hen know how I look," 

"The other day," I continued, "she had taken her 
pose after this fashion, but as I don't encourage her. 
Professor, I therefore pretended not to observe the 
caricature, and said, ' Zanita ! what are you doing with 
your feet upon that chair?' * Surely, aunty, you can 
see;' she naively remarked. I had to ignore my ques- 
tion, and bid her put down her feet and the scissors." 



^ 



138 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

The Professor chuckled at my dilemma. 

*' She is more than a match for you, my dear, I am 
afraid ! " 

I was anxious that she should still continue her 
French under the instruction of a native of the coun- 
try, in order to preserve the good accent she had ac- 
quired; and hearing that there was a Parisian lady 
teaching in the best seminary in Oakland, I had no 
difficulty in having her join the class ; and, as usual, 
her progress was highly satisfactory. With Martha to 
accompany her to and from this place, the arrangement 
seemed to answer for a time. She learned a good 
deal of science from the Professor, for^ my husband, 
although I say it, was a kind of encyclopaedia which 
could not be approached without its imparting some 
valuable learning ; and I attended to her general ed- 
ucation. 

Almost every year we were accustomed to make an 
excursion to the Mountains and Valley of Ah-wah- 
nee, and it was curious to note the progress of the two 
children. Zanita, though under the highest civilized 
^training we could give her, remained as wild as the 
untamed deer of her native mountains ; indeed, she 
would leap among the tall brackens with as much 
agility and zest as any young fawn ; and I believe 
would have been as happy to winter in a cave as a cin- 
namon bear. Whilst. Rosie grew in that exquisite 
feminine grace so attractive in adolescent womanhood. 

During these periods I used to give as much atten- ( 

tion as possible to Rosie's music and drawing, for which 
she had all the talent which her sister lacked ; and, 
even as a child, her sketches from nature possessed 
that delicacy of touch and selection which reminded 
me of her poor mother. 



\ 



i 



ZANITA'S SCHOOLING. 139 

I brought her all the books that Zanita had used, 
and her father, with this assistance, forwarded her in- 
struction. So little Rosie progressed well, if not so 
brilliantly as Zanita ; and was the happiest little fairy 
that ever dwelt in sylvan glades, and danced by moon- 
light round the mossy rings. 

The great drawback to the new system of study 
was not long in developing itself, and grew out of 
Zanita's readiness to form acquaintances without any 
particular ceremony of introduction or choice of any 
special locality, or unusual circumstance or contin- 
gency. If she met a boy spinning a top, she would 
insist upon lending her assistance ; or if she spied a 
peculiarly shaped box or bundle, she would promptly 
ask the possessor what it contained, and desire that it 
should be opened and let her examine. She once 
stopped a little girl carrying home a lady's bonnet, and 
instantly had it out of the box inspecting it, and declar- 
ing it was a " perfect fright " ; she then put it on her 
head, to the amusement of passers-by and the dismay 
of Martha and the little messenger. Ere long she had 
introduced herself to half of Oakland and made her- 
self very notorious. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

ZANITA AMONG THE NUNS. 

" What do you think about nuns, John ? " I said to 
my husband one day as I sat sowing in his study. 

" I don't think about them at all, my dear ; it would 
not be proper ; you know they are vowed to celibacy," 
replied the imperturbable Professor. 

" How tiresome you are 1 I mean, of course, as 
teachers. Sonje' convents, I am told, give first-class 
education, and the moral training is quite unequaled." 

" Indeed I " he said, dryly. 

" Yes, Mrs. Dundas was educated in a convent, and 
you remember you said that she had more self-control 
than any woman you had ever known." 

" I adhere to that opinion still, and I think you had 
. better write to her and ascertain what she thinks of 
tl\e suitability of such a school for Zanita, as I can 
easily see that her case suggested your inquiry. It is 
a subject on. which I am not qualified to give you the 
smallest opinion. Conventual life is one which has 
never interested me." 

Ill pursuance of this conversation I wrote to pur 
friend, asking her opinion, and describing Zanita as 
closely as it was possible to define so singular a char- 
acter. 

In course of post the reply came, and was most sat- 
isfactory. She said that for such a disposition as I had 
delineated a convent would be most desirable ; that 



ZANITA AMONG THE NUNS. 141 

she thought even Zanita would have some difficulty in 
withstanding the order and resisting the moral disci- 
pline in the atmosphere of high honor which pervaded 
these schools. The great secret, she went on to say, 
is the trouble the nuns give themselves for the benefit 
of their young pupils. They make a constant study 
of each character ancT disposition, never falhng into 
the common error of believing that all children are 
alike and must be treated in the same way. A child's 
propensities are carefully observed, and every tempta- 
tion spared her and avoided. The force of example 
is so strong, and the whole school in such perfect 
order, that a child must have an unwonted force of 
character to counterbalance it. 

The control of a child is a perfect art, which the 
nuns of the Ursuline Order make a life-long study; y 
and, like the Jesuits, their success in training the 
youth is quite marvelous. She ventured to predict 
that Zanita would not be expelled from the convent. 
She recommended a beautiful establishment near Santa 
Clara, and inclosed a letter to the mother superior of 
that nunnery in case I should wish to communicate 
with the establishment. 

This I did, minutely detailing the points of Zanita 's 
character, and the reasons for which she had been sent 
home from the various schools, — leaving entirely to 
their discretion whether they would undertake the edu- 
cation of my protSgS. 

I soon received an exquisitely written note, simple 
and yet elegant in diction, showing that letter- writing 
was certainly one of the accomplishments possessed by 
the Ursulines. It stated that they would be happy 
to receive the child on the usual terms — which, by 
the way, was little more than half of the terms of 



142 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

other seminaries ; that the education and trainhig of 
young girls to fill their different positions in life was 
the sole object of the Order of Ursulines ; and that, 
in fulfillment of their vows, they had no choice but to 
receive all who applied, as far as the extent of their 
establishment would admit. They expressed a pleas- 
ant conviction that they should not have very much 
trouble, as I had anticipated ; as from my statement 
she had never been subject to bad example, which they 
feared more than anything else in a child. 

A few weeks after, therefore, saw us en route for 
Santa Clara, Zanita as usual full of wild anticipations 
and curious projects, especially as we understood there 
were some thousand acres of land attached to the con- 
vent, where there was not only a river but hills and 
trees. The nuns had a large farm, supplying almost all 
the wants of the estabUshment ; so Zanita's prospects 
were exceedingly pleasing. 

The Professor had also promised her that if she re- 
mained, and a fair account was rendered of her, he 
would send her a pony to ride provided the nuM had 
no objection. 

As we drove up to the convent through handsome 
park-like grounds, my hopes revived ; and when we 
entered the house, — so scrupulously clean, so airy and 
orderly, — I felt that I had entertained an unjust preju- 
dice all my life against nuns ; all my preconceived no- 
tions of monastic miserv vanished at once before that 
cool quiet parlor into which we were ushered. 

We had time to inspect the room whilst we waited 
for the lady abbess, or the mother superior, as she is 
called in this order. The walls of the apartment were 
tastefully decorated with specimens of penmanship, 
embroidered tableaux, sketches of the different points 



ZANITA AMONG THE NUNS. 143 

of view from their building, and crayon-heads, — per- 
formances, no doubt, of the pupils. There was a 
piano-forte and a harp, two or three magnificently em- 
broidered fauteuih and footstools, the rest of the fur- 
niture being plain and neat. 

Presently the door opened and the mother superior 
swept in with a graceful motion that took me by sur- 
prise, for I had never seen a nun like that before. 
She was a tall, distinguished looking woman, with 
long delicate features, and a soft womanly mouthy be- 
speaking great purity of character : her eyes were 
almond shaped and gray, with a steadfast, dignified ex- 
pression almost overpowering. She wore a long black 
cloth robe which swept the ground ; the sleeves of it, 
in which her hands were folded, hung long and deep 
from the shoulder half-way down the dress ; a broad 
stiff collar encircled her throat, and descended low on 
the breast ; a band of white was bound round her fore- 
head, just above her straight penciled eyebrows ; upon 
her head, coming to a sort of point in front, she wore a 
black opaque veil of some very fine texture ; round her 
waist was fastened a small leathern strap as a waist- 
band, from which was suspended a large rosary of olive 
stones brought from the sacred garden of the Mount 
of Olives, as I afterward understood, together with a 
large crucifix. 

This imposing dress and dignified figure evidently 
produced some effect upon Zanita as well as myself. 
The superior received us gracefully, and with the pol- 
ished manner of a woman of the world accustomed to 
receive guests. There was an impenetrability and a 
dearth of emotionality in her bearing which told of a 
latent power to rule and be obeyed. It was a face 
that seemed never to have heard of vacillation, though 



144 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

it was neither hard nor cold ; a shadow of d^ubt never 
seemed to have crossed it. When she held out her 
hand to Zanita and drew her toward her, and imprint- 
ed a soft kiss on her forehead, I felt she had already 
decided the line of action to be pursued toward her 
pupil ; and, I believe, Zanita had some consciousness 
of this too, for there was an expression in her eyes as 
though a trifle overawed, or puzzled. 

She showed us over the house, and displayed Zani- 
ta's miniature bedroom, which was to be her own ex- 
clusively. " For," she explained, " we never allow 
two girls to room together." 

Slip next took us into a pleasant little dining-room 
reserved for guests, and refreshment was served to us 
by one of the sisters. I was kindly invited to spend 
the night there if I wished ; but I declined, not wish- 
ing in any way to influence the first impressions made 
upon Zanita, and preferring to resign her at once to 
their charge. I was eager also to tell the Professor all 
I had seen and the new experience I had passed 
through. 

" I shall be very curious," said my husband, after 
we had talked over the day's event, " to know the 
result of this new experiment ; it will be extremely 
interesting if those women, whom one is so ready 
to despise, actually control the child, if they cannot 
altogether change her. I would give a dollar to wit- 
ness the first encounter between the superior and Za- 



nita." 



" It would be a study of human nature," I said. 
" For the former looks as though she had quite inade 
up her mind about everything above and below the 
heavens. A woman who, if you told her that a new 
planet bad been discovered, would remark, ' I have 



ZANITA AMONG THE NUNS. 145 

counted them, and know their number, so you must be 
mistaken.' She is satisfied that she was born to be 
superior of that convent, satisfied that it is the best 
destiny that could be provided for her, satisfied that 
she has the pleasantest convent in the world, that her 
community is exactly what it ought to be, and that the 
academy is the best school ; she is not enthusiastic 
about it, but quietly settled in the belief without at- 
tempting to obtrude her views on anybody : a woman 
who would always do her duty, and even make great 
sacrifices without feeling them to be sacrifices; she 
would be kind to all but loving to none. She will 
never display any affection toward Zanita and never 
require any." 

" And there will be one great source of power," re- 
marked the Professor. " Zanita is not a child that 
requires any display of affection, and misuses it when- 
ever she has the opportunity." 

" And yet," I resumed, " the mother superior is a* 
thoroughly womanly woman, without the slightest at- 
tempt at fostering the feeling of masculineness." 

" That proves," said my husband, " that a woman 
may exercise ' unbounded sway if she have native 
power without assuming the character of the opposite 
sex.' Your so-called strong-minded woman rarely be- 
comes a ruler or exercises dominion over others ; she 
is in a chronic state of antagonism without achieving 
any victories. It is the feminine woman who never 
allows her emotions to overcome her wisdom, and who 
holds to a purpose without vacillation, — whose power 
is, and ever will be, felt in the world." 

'* Yes," I replied, " I have no doubt that the mother 
superior reigns supreme in her little world, and her 
influence extends far beyond it. We never hear of a 

10 



146 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

revolt in a convent, or under the monastic system; 
and this must arise from the marvelously sage ruling 
of the head of the establishment." 

" If anything can upset them Zanita will," said my 
husband, laughingly, " for she has an absolute faculty 
for discovering a loop-hole through which she can 
create disorder. I do not know what phrenological 
organ you call it, my dear ; I should name it the bump 
of revolt." 

The mother superior had acceded with a smile to 
my urgent' request that I might be informed weekly 
of Zanita's behavior ; she thought there would be no 
necessity. One week was precisely like another in a 
convent, unless interrupted by some religious festival ; 
but she assured me that everything was so carefully 
arranged that nothing like monotony was ever felt, 
either by nuns or pupils ; and she doubted not that I 
should soon feel satisfied that mj protSgS was progress- 
ing, well. 

The bulletins of conduct came regularly every week 
for some three months. Zanita's short-comings and 
escapades were narrated with faithful accuracy; but 
no fatal results §eemed to arise, or were prognosticated. 
I had, therefore, the pleasure of going to see her at the 
end of six months, and of coming away thoroughly 
delighted with the conventual experiment of train- 
ing. 
I "We left her there for twelve months without her 
returning home. She was fast growing into a beauti- 
ful gu'l, brilliant in every way. She had lost much of 
her ungainly and hoydenish manner, and acquired a 
graceful style wherever it was compatible with her 
erratic movements. 

Now and then she would astonish her small world 



ZANITA AMONG THE NUNS. 147 

by some unimagined freak ; but it was treated with 
impassive cold reprimand by the nuns, and the pupils 
soon came to regard espiegleries as a matter of course, 
and remark, — 

" O, it is only Zanita at some new freak." 



CHAPTER XV. 

A NEW-COMER. 

It was about this time that a stranger made his ap- 
pearance amongst us whose advent was to act upon 
our menage and entourage^ like acid poured into 
some alkaline liquid, setting us all into a ferment, fuss, 
and fume, and keeping our little community in this 
frothy excitement until each had accomplished his sep- 
arate destiny in the drama, — until the curtain had 
fallen over the last act, and all was mute and still. 

Yet this individual was in person the reverse of 
one adapted to fill such a rdle. He was no fire-eat-- 
ing, fiercely-bearded braggadocio, nor even the ir- 
repressible man of wiry sinews, who never knows 
lassitude or reaction himself, and never permits any 
one near him to indulge in them. On the contrary, he 
was a quiet, elegant, undemonstrative young English- 
/ man, whose femininely beautiful face took me captive 
from the first moment I beheld him ; for in spite of my 
study of phrenology, physiognomy, and psychology, I 
am ashamed to say that I am frequently carried away 
by the more attractive claims of art, and my intense 
love of tlie beautiful. 

The young stranger gratified these tastes to the fiiU. 
His figure had reached that perfection of height — 
five feet ten' — leaning more towards the Apollo than 
the Hercules; yet having withal a strength of grace 
and movement which was a constant and ever re- 



A NEW-COMER. 149 

newed pleasure to me to trace. His face was as fair 
as a woman's, with rich clear tints of red and white, 
which the moist climate of Great Britain alone pro- 
duces in perfection. His almond-shaped hazel eyes 
were mellowed hy long dark lashes. The contour of 
the face was a perfect oval, and the mouth and chin 
rivaled the Antinous. There was just that shade of 
haughty sweetness that bespoke the English aristocrat, 
— an unconscious expression of power, with a benign 
simplicity and gentleness. 

" I think he is the most beautiful, but not the hand- 
somest, young man I have ever seen," I imparted to 
the Professor, after narrating all these various points. 

" Well, what of his phrenological aspect ? You have 
only given me a highly colored picture d la Carlo 
Dolci." 

I plead guilty at once to having been carried away 
by his beauty rather than by a study of his mental 
types. " But I am sure he is amiable and good, he has 
such a sweet and dignified expression ; such a face as 
makes one think of his mother, and imagine her the 
perfection of beauty and nobility. I am sure he had a 
splendid mother, — one of those glorious English gems 
set in a court frame, such as we saw at the Queen's 
Drawing Room. Do you not remember the Duchess 
of Sutherland and the Hon. Mrs. Norton ? Now I am 
quite certain he has had such a mother as that." 

" And is there no line or curve about him by which 
you could decipher the character of his grandmother ? " 
said my husband, quizzing me as usual. " Whether, 
■for instance, she was fond of pickles, or took snuff? " 

I ought to tell, according to the strict laws of narra- 
tion, where the individual in question, whom we knew 
by the name of E^grfiiuQnt, was born, where he came 



160' A TALE OF THE Y OS E MITE, 

from last, what he came for, and every detail and par- 
ticular concerning his business and motives. But the 
reader must remember that we lived in California, 
where strangers started up like mushrooms in the night, 
-JL and were recognized next morning as belonging to the 
state of things: no •questions asked, no curiosity ex- 
cited. 

A man might be a dethroned prince, or defaulting 

clerk, — an East India merchant, or a peddler ; no one 

took the least bit more interest in him whether he was 

I- a Professor from Oxford, or a policeman from Ireland. 

'^ It mattered not ; we asked no questions, and wanted 

no lies. 

If the stranger chanced to be too great a villain, and 
the too could be stretched a long way, Judge Lynch 
and the Vigilance Committee attended to him ; and the 
same result was arrived at, whether he was born in a 
palace or a pot-house : too much villainy came to the 
same end in California. 

So beyond hearing that our friend's name was Egre- 
mont, guessing he was English by his complexion, 
that he was a gentleman by the polished ease of his 
manner, that he had received a classical education 
from occasional sentences let fall, rather than paraded, 
in his conversation, we knew absolutely nothing of 
him : where he had sprung from, where going, or 
what doing. 

But the latter was not very long enveloped in mys- 
tery, for it chanced that' at this time I was working 
hard upon a manuscript of my husband's, recopying it 
for the press, and for this purpose generally shut myself ' 
up in his study, where, one morning, Mr. Egremont, ex- 
pecting to find the Professor, came suddenly upon me. 

Glad of the interruption by so pleasant a visitor, I 



luiii^iiji I J iuMi_jiu<^^^v>«i^^HCK9*H^M«i«Pig|gp«P 



^ NEW-COMER. 151 

asked him to remain* In the course of conversation 
I spoke of the tediousness of copying. 

" I quite enjoy it," he said, " and if you would per- 
mit me to assist you it would be conferring a favor 
upon me, for I have ample leisure." 

He looked so bright and earnest, I could not doubt 
that his wish was sincere. 

" I cannot understand your taste," I said, " but I can 
appreciate the effects of it mightily, and shall take you 
at vour word." 

Thus, from thenceforth he became our constant 
visitor, and worked with an assiduity very surprising. 
More and more the fascination of his high breeding, 
and richly stored mind, grew upon me ; and if, as the 
poet says, — 

" A thing of beauty is a joy forever," 

I may here confess that his beautiful shadowless face 
was a constantly renewed enjoyment to me. Yet it 
set my science at naught. I learned nothing from it ; 
it was like guessing at a picture ; and no amount of 
study or scrutiny brought me to a decisive theory. 

Then, as usual, I had recourse to my husband, for 
this is just a case where a husband comes in so use- 
ful ; he is like a revised and corrected edition of one's 
self, to which one can appeal with moderate safety. 

*' I wonder who he is, and where he comes from, 
and how he got here ? " I said, stopping my husband 
between two strata of feldspar and granite, which he 
was marking out on a map. 

** Who, where, my dear — the feldspar ? J'll tell 
you.'* And he was going to commence three millions 
of years before the Biblical date of the Deluge ; when 
I cut him short with a shake ; for I knew if I allowed 
him to start on that explanation, the history would last 
on and off for three weeks. 



152 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. - 

" No, no," I said, " I mean Mr. Egremont." 

" I really do not know, my dear, who he is, or where 
he comes from. Why do you ask especially ? Do you 
know where any of your California friends come from, 
or who they are at home ? *' 

" No," I replied, '* I should not trouble myself to 
inquire, but this young man seems very different." 
I " I find them all different. There is scarcely a 

\/ place in the world where you meet more unique spe- 
cialties of humanity than in California. Every man 
has his own individuality, his own history, his own 
experience, more distinctly than in older countries, 
where men have been bred and born more in classes, 
and have lived under the same influences. Here, also, 
we have draughted to us the more peculiar chai'acters, 
for it is not the commonplace, jog-trot people of any 
community who launch themselves into the terra 
incognita of California : it is the adventurous spirit, 
the energetic enterprising man, who believes in put- 
ting things through, — himself included ; the robust, 
healthy individual of thews an4 sinews, who feels he 
has strength to move mountains, or groove under 
them ; the reckless class that make a dash at anything; 
the exploring mind, ever seeking for new wonders in 
nature ; " — 

" That 's you," I interrupted. 

** The desperado to whom any new country is a 
neutral ground, for a time at least, where he cannot 
mar if he cannot make a fortune ; the unfortunate, 
who haji^e tried everything and succeeded in nothing, 
who have a positive faculty for failing in whatever 
they touch. Then there are the wretched, who fly 

" ' Anywhere, anywhere, out of the world ! ' 

To them it is a refugium afflictorum^ or they fancy so. 



A NEW-COMER. 153 

which amounts to the same thmg. Now when we 
have all these specialties forming an aggregate called 
society, I am surprised, my dear, that you should evince 
curiosity about any individual in particular." 

" O yes ; but he does not belong to any class you 
have mentioned, and his character is no less a puzzle 
to me than his face." 

" Veiy well ; then you find yourself right at home 
in your own sciences ; you will have to make an ana- 
lytical study of him." 

I have often wished that phrenology could be re- 
duced to a positive test, like astronomy or geometry ; 
that we could put the human brain into a crucible, as 
we would a metal, and weigh the residuum of pure 
gold from the dross : a cow has a large brain, but it 
is not fine working matter ; or that we could determine 
the workings of the brain as we do the movements of 
the comets and heavenly bodies in time and space ; or, 
as in chemistry, analyze the component parts of the veg- 
etable kingdom, and determine how much poison lies 
hidden in the sweetest scents and most delicate colors 
of flowers. In mechanics we are still further advanced. 
We can make a piston work in a cylinder, and a crank 
to turn a wheel, with the greatest precision. We 
know what work it will produce, what pressure it will 
bear, and how long it will carry out its function. But 
of ourselves or neighbors, of psychology, phrenology, 
ethics, or metaphysics we know comparatively little. 
If we put a new screw to a bolt, we know it will work 
until it becomes worn and old. But we know nothing 
of whether the machinery of an infant will work until 
it is a grown man. We speculate and ponder over 
ourselves, and grope about in semi-twilight. We feel 
sick, or what is called out of sorts, — a vague, indefinite, 



164 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

wretched suffering, we know not where it begins or 
ends. We attribute it, or some sapient friend does, 
•to iced lemonade, or clam chowder. But how often 
have we experienced this miserable maiaise when noth- 
ing of the sort has passed our lips. 

Thus a man becomes depressed and melancholy, and 
is said to be in love, — how, or why, or wherefore, he 
knows not, nor does any one else. He swears truth- 
fully, no doubt, that he must inevitably worship Lavinia 
to the last moment of his life, and feels sure he shall 
meet her in a blessed land after death. He does, or 
does not, marry Lavinia ; it is not material, for in 
three months he is entirely cured, — Heaven knows 
how, for no one else knows ; he does not himself, the 
psychologist does not, the moral philosopher can give 
no better reason than the veriest old granny. 

If we know Uttle about our interior selves, we 
know scarcely more about our exterior developments. 
Phrenology and physiognomy divide the head, leaving 
us floundering vaguely. Lines and rules, and excel- 
lent theories have been laid down and dulv studied : 
but yet we have not reached the first practical prin- 
ciple of singling out a murderer from a martyr, a sin- 
ner from a saint. True, when a great criminal is ar- 
raigned at the bar of justice, we all go to look at him, 
and express our conviction that we should have easily 
divined what he was — that he bears it upon his coun- 
tenance. Yet every day we trust our goods with those 
who rob us, and our affections with those who trample 
them under foot, and toss them adrift in scorn. 

" Why did not Providence," I said to my husband, 
" shape a man's nose so that a woman could tell if he 
were true or false, as we can tell the breed of cattle 
by the shape of their horns, or the quality of a puppy- 
dog by the strength of his tail ? " 



A NEW-COMER, 155 

" Obviously an oversight in the design of Provi- 
dence, my dear," said the Professor, gravely going on 
with his stratum s. 

From my babyhood my organ of causalty had been 
keenly engaged upon the human front divine. I used 
to take my little stool, and deliberately plant myself 
before everv new visitor, and examine him with the 
widest eyes I could open. I noted with great exacti- 
tude the soft summer eyes, the cold wintry ones, and 
neutral eyes that said nothing at all ; that one man 
had pink transparent nostrils, and another coarse hairy 
ditto. But my chances of kisses or bonbons rarely 
turned out according to my small theories. 

Beautiful faces are the least to be relied on in man 
or woman. Whether the blaze of beauty acts like the 
sun, and dazzles the beholder, or that we naturally 
associate truth and beauty together, it is certain that 
this problem leads the physiognomist astray as well 
as the rest of the world. 

The most tender and beautiful eyes that ever looked 
on this earth were those of Beatrice Cenci, the parri- 
cide. Eugene Aram had an exquisitely refined and 
gentle countenance. Auburn hair is thought to denote 
jealousy, yet Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of 
Scots were both sandy complexioned. The former 
was historically jealous, whilst the other displayed no 
such passion. Nero had a well- shaped face until he 
became too obese. 

The beautiful face is therefore the most contra- 
dictory and bewitching to the student ; like a " will- 
o'-the-wisp," it lures but to betray. The lines falling 
into the perfection of beauty, what should they repre- 
sent but the perfection of worth ? And we most of 
us plunge headlong into this supposition, and scram- 



156 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

ble out at our leisure, with most of our theories frac- 
tured. 

The rose-bud mouth, the " wee bit mou," may close 
over a shameless frailty, as well as in the Fornarina. 
Is not that Adonis' moulded chin the symmetrical 
exponent of a noble, delicate, susceptible character, the 
exterior model of a youthful chivalric soul ? Look at 
those bluish-gray eyes, the perfection of color and 
shape, with their long silken lashes veiling their fire 
and sweetness : a seraph could not look more tender, 
and on his coral lip hangs the divine afflatus of a 
higher sphere ; dignity is enthroned on his marble brow. 
The phrenologist and physiognomist mark him Aowa 
as little inferior to the Angel Gabriel. " Possibly," 
says the non-believer in science ; " but I know that 
he is in the 10th Royal Lancers, and I'll back him for 
consummate deviltry against any number of ' ologies.' " 
And nine times out of ten the man of the world is 
right, and science is wrong. 

Thus, in spite of my savoir, I was as much at sea 
as regarded my new amanuensis as I always declared 
my husband to be about his antediluvian oceans which 
rolled over the tops of the highest sierras, and from 
whence the present volcanic cones poured forth their 
fiery breath like Vesuvius and Etn^ from the blue 
bosom of the Mediterranean. 

I am rather fond of a standing mystery upon which 
I can turn the sluices of imagination when I am at 
leisure. It is pleasant to have some inscrutable thing 
to ponder over ; but of leisure I did not long have the 
/ enjoyment, for Zanita was to return from the convent 
for the holidays, and, if we found her sufficiently 
tamed, she was then to remain at home and study for 
the stage, should the early promise she had given of 
marked dramatic talent ^*^'^ evince itself. 



A NEW-COMER. 157 

Thus it fell out that one morning, while engaged 
with Mr. Egremont in my husband's study, the door 
was flung open with a bang, and Zanita presented 
herself backward, leading by the hook of^ her parasol 
two of my prime Muscovy ducks yoked together by 
her rosary twisted around their handsome green 
throats. Leda and her swans might have been sub- 
lime, but Zanita with her qua'-qua'-ing ducks was 
essentially ridiculous. 

" Zanita I " I exclaimed, " you will strangle my 
pets ; how can you be so mischievous ? " 

She turned and beheld a stranger, and for once I 
think regretted her freak. She would rather have 
appeared well to the handsome visitor ; for a look 
flashed between them, as I introduced them, of undis- 
guised, startled admiration. 

Their eyes met with that glorious inter-commin- 
gling of soul which makes or mars in the hereafter ^ 
either or both. I trembled as I witnessed this unex- 
pected result, and my mouth became dry, as if pre- 
ceding some imminent peril. The laugh caused by 
the ducks, which, poor things, still went waddling 
about the study, held together by the rosary, vanished ; 
speech died away on my lips ; a sensation of terrible 
anguish heightened the ' pulsation of my heart, and I 
was glad to send Zanita to take off her things, and 
Mr. Egremont to carry away the ducks to the yard 
whence Zanita had purloined them. 

She had grown more beautiful than ever ; her feat- 
ures had retained all their delicate symmetry, and her ^ 
eyes were almost of unearthly splendor under the emo- 
tion ; besides she had the heautS du diable^ with all its 
indescribable loveliness, and I felt that unless I could 
turn her ambition and her beauty into some channel 



158 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

where it might have legitimate exercise, there was no 
calculating the calamities it might bring upon her. 

Here was a commencement before she had been 
five minutes in the house. Those two, if thrown 
together, would inevitably make love to each other, 
and although he was charming, yet he might be a 
murderer for all we knew. 

I concluded to drop my copying for the present; 
I was the more satisfied of the wisdom of this decis- 
ion wlien I regarded how much- 1 would be engaged 
with Zanita. 

When I explained this intention to Egremont, thank- 
ing him warmly for the great assistance he had ren- 
dered me, the hot color mounted to his face in wave 
after wave, as though he had clearly divined every 
thought of my mind for the last half hour, and was 
ineffably pained by it. 

A sad, pitiful look of reproach came into his eyes 
as of a child that had been wrongfully blamed. I felt 
my heart relenting, and a strong desire to trust him 
arising. Could I have spoken openly to him, and told 
him exactly my fears, I felt that I might have relied 
upon his honor, not to make or take any advance to or 
from Zariita. But what had I to rest my observations 
upon, — a single glance, — for not a word had passed 
between them. 

I begged him to stay and dine with us as usual, and 
added that he must not believe that because I did not 
accept his farther services that I should not be happy 
to see him at any moment of leisure. • 

I took him somewhat into my confidence, however, 
as regarded Zanita, her singular character, and my 
anxiety that she would turn out a genius for tragedy. 

" Would you not fear the exposure of so much 



A NEW-COMER, 159 

beauty to the temptations of a stage life ? " he asked, 
keeping his eyes fixed upon the manuscript. 

" No," I replied, " not if the love of her art became 
the ruling passion, as I think it would if she adopted 
it at all. I think she would glory in taking a leading 
position, and swaying a mimic world. I do not think 
that Zanita would be tempted out of her own course, 
whatever that might be. She is possessed of a super- 
abundance of power and talent, which I am anixious 
to throw into some safe channel ; or she will assuredly 
fritter it away in an unworthy one. I would rather have 
her a Lady Macbeth on the boards than play the char- 
acter in actual life. Her vivid imagination and vehe- 
ment will must have a vent and course to deploy them- 
selves, or they will revert upon herself and prove hel* 
destruction. Had she been brought up like her sister 
in the Valley, I am convinced that ere this she would 
have broken her own neck, or some one's else, for she 
was no respecter of life in man or beast, and* least of all 
her own. I believe the good nuns have done all that is 
possible to do for her in guiding and training her wild 
and brilliant nature. But no education can fully sub- 
due a spirit as recklessly daring, as wily and defiant as 
hers. Force of example, and propitious circumstances 
have done more than any amount of argument, reason- 
ing, threatening, or coaxing could do ; and yet you see 
her first impulse is not of affection to run to me, her 
only mother, and caress me, but to capture my pet 
' poultry and torment them." 

I noticed the color mounting in Mr. Egremont's 
clear complexion, as though the recurrence to the' 
opening scene afiected him unpleasantly, and the im- 
pression dawned upon him that she was not the most 
amiable character in the world. A mental resolve 



A 



] i-.Oi i. 

it 1 "■ " * ►*■ 

SI - — XJ »* 



u>l* " 






...'" 



158 A 

where it miL 
calculatintT tl. 

Here was 
five minutes 

toijether, woi _ . ^ „., 

and al thou III 1 ^ 

murderer for ; ' . ^- > 

'I. •* — 

I conduded 
I was the mo: .., . 

ion wlien I n 
with Zanita. 

When I ex^ ' 
ino[ him w^ani. 
dered me, the ; 
after wave, as 
thought of my 
ineffably paincl 

A sad, pitlCui 
as of a child tin: 
my heart relent 
arising. Could 
him exactly my 
upon his honor. 
from Zanita. i 
upon, — a sinii' 
between them. 

I begged liii: 
added that he i 
accept his fartl. 
to see him at jr 

I took him s; 
as regarded Z . 
anxiety that si;- 

"Would yo.. 



A NEW-COMER. 



161 



est of womankind. She cares neither for dress nor gew- 
gaws, nor parade nor display. She would as soon go 
to &fHe m her old garden hat as in the finest feathers 
of San Francisco. Frequently I have to leave her at 
home at the last minute, when she appears with her 
ink-soiled dress all in tatters as usual, thinking to 
accorapanv me down Montgomery Street, where she 
^vould hold up her head among all the overdressed 
telles, without an idea that she was not as comely as 
they." 

" And perhaps she is right," said Egremont ; ' beauty 
Unadorned,' you know." , . , 

" There is some truth in that, but I do not thmk 
beauty disheveled in dirt, quite applies. And yet 
I have seen ' Mad Tom ' played when the actor looked 
much handsomer in his rags than in his velvet and 
satin robes." 

But few women believe that, and however prepossess- 
ing one is, she will endeavor to improve herself by 
certain fixiv^g ; and falls into the-error that the more 
expensive those " fixings " are the more they improve 
her appearance. She cannot understand that rubies 
are not more becoming than roses, or pearls than lilies ; 
and thus to gratify her vanity she will sacrifice the real 
gems of hernature. But such a girl is not Zanita. If 
she were given a diamond necklace as a temptation, 
the donor woald probably have the mortification ot 
seeing her wear it wrong side out by mistake. 



u 



160 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

seemed to register itself, that he would not yield to the 
fierce fascination which had just beset him, as he in- 
tuitively perceived that it would be a laiser magestS 
toward me. 

I felt inclined to stroke the beautiful soft face, and 
say, " Pray keep that resolution for my sake, for your 
own, for hers." But the words remained on my lips 
unspoken. Alas, why we do not follow our impulses ! 
Half of them, at least, if attended to would save us 
many an hour's sorrow, and oft«n avert fearful catas- 
trophes. Children listen to their instinctive feelings, 
and rarely break their little necks, though a thousand 
dangers beset them. Animals follow their natural 
impulses and rarely go astray. What is that second 
self in us, which is swifter than our reason, and wiser 
than our educated faculties, — that sees without know- 
ledge, and hears without a sound ? 

But the time went by, and the lost opportunity 
never returns. Resuming the conversation, I said, — 

" The danger for a woman on the stage, I appre- 
hend, arises from three causes : her poverty and iso- 
lation from her family and natural protectors ; her 
heart sensibilities more exposed to be excited ; and the 
temptation to her vanity, — the latter being the most 
perilous perhaps of any. Most actresses succumb from 
their inability to sustain the ordeal of hard work, pov- 
erty, and disappointment, which usually attends their 
early career on the stage. These Zanita would not 
have to submit to, as I should never leave her, and 
she would only appear as a prima donna dSbutante. 
As to her affections, I do not think she possesses enough 
of them to be under their control. Love, I do not be- 
lieve will ever be her passion ; nor vanity, the great 
yawning gulf which swallows up the fairest and bright- 



A NEW-COMER. 161 

est of womankind. She cares neither for dress nor gew- 
gaws, nor parade -nor display. She would as soon go 
to 2ifete in her old garden hat as in the finest feathers 
of San Francisco. Frequently I have to leave her at 
home at the last minute, when she appears with her 
ink-soiled dress all in tatters as usual, thinking to 
accompany me down Montgomery Street, where she 
would hold up her head among all the overdressed 
belles, without an idea that she was not as comely as 
they." 

" And perhaps she is right," said Egremont ; ' beauty 
linadomed,' you know." 

" There is some truth in that, but I do not think 
beauty disheveled in dirt, quite applies. And yet 
I have seen ' Mad Tom ' played when the actor looked 
much handsomer in his rags than in his velvet and 
satin robes." 

But few women believe that, and however prepossess- 
ing one is, she will endeavor to improve herself by 
certain fixings ; and falls into the -error that the more 
expensive those " fixings " are the more they improve 
her appearance. She cannot understand that rubies 
are not more becoming than roses, or pearls than lilies ; 
and thus to gratify her vanity she will sacrifice the real 
gems of her nature. But such a girl is not Zanita. If 
she were given a diamond necklace as a temptation, 
the donor would probably have the mortification of 
seeing her wear it wrong side out by mistake. 

u 



CHAPTER XVL 

A SHADOW FALLING BEFORE. 

Often and often I had had long and intimate con- 
versations with Mr. Egremont, for I ever found him 
intelligent and conversable ; but he never let fall a 
syllable that could enlighten me as to himself, his past 
career, experience of life, or future projects. He was 
a moving mystery in e very-day life. I once asked him 
if his mother was still alive. He answered, " No." 
But the tone of his voice, the painful rush of color 
to his face, and the look of concentrated sorrow, made 
me eschew the subject for the future. Yet now that 
Zanita was come back to us it was the more dangerous 
that he should remain an hahituS in our house. 

The evening passed off pleasantly enough, consider- 
ing the circumstances, for only myself had conceived 
alarm in the position. The Professor never could re- 
sist enjoying Zanita's brilliant sallies upon the poor 
nuns whom she quizzed, and had evidently, according 
to her own showing, tormented most unmercifully. 
Egremont strove ill to conceal his admiration ; but 
Zanita made no effort to hide how much he pleased 
her. I expected her to declare openly every minute 
in her old backwoods' fashion, " I like you ; I like you 
better than anybody I " But she said it with her eyes 
fifty times, and did so much mischief that I felt already 
in .despair of fulfilling my position as guardian of her 
life's drama. 



i 



A SHADOW FALLING BEFORE. 163 ^ 

" Well, Zanita," said the Professor, '* what was your 
last piece of mischief? " 

And forthwith Zanita, thus encouraged, com- 
menced, — " O, Professor I only fancy, I made all 
the nuns believe I was the devil got into the chapel 
right amongst them." 

" I suppose she was the nearest approach to it those 
good folk have ever had to do with," said my husband, 
sotto voce^ to me. 

"How did you persuade them of that?" he con- 
tinued, aloud. " I thought you had two vases of holy 
water at the door of your chapel for the express pur- 
pose of keeping him out ? " 

" So we have," she laughed, " and I got it thrown 
all over me for my pains. I first o contrived to steal 
one of the nun's dresses and veil, leather girdle, and 
rosary, the whole paraphernalia, and dressed my- 
self up in it. Then we have an old French sister 
named Xavier ; she is terribly afriaid of the diahle^ and 
is always making the sign of the cross to keep him off. 
In fact, I think she has a monomania on the point ; for 
when she is sewing she lays her spools in the form of 
a cross, and when she peels potatoes she puts them 
cross-shape, all as preservatives against the evil one. 
She has a limp in her walk, is nearly hump-backed, 
and always wears a green shade, for she has weak 
eyes. I used to go behind her and imitate her w^alk. 
She has also a curious cracked voice, and speaks broken 
English. I could imitate her so well as to startle all 
the girls by crying out in her voice. Void le didble ! 
So I thought it would be capital fun to frighten all the 
nuns in chapel, when they got up in the middle of the 
night to go to matins. O, aunty ! if you had seen me 
dressed you would never have known me, green shade 



164 A TALE OF THE YG-SEMITE. 

and all ; and *I colored my face with coffee, and 
painted it in great wrinkles. The chapel is only, lit 
by one dreary oil-lamp that time in the morning, and 
when the matin-bell rang I hobbled in the procession 
with the rest. 

" Xavier is just my size, Mr. Egremont ! " she said, 
casting upon liim a brilliant glance which instantly pro- 
duced a richer tint over his handsome face. 

" When all was so still you could have heard a pin 
drop, and the lamp, swung by four long chains from the 
arched and groined ceiling, cast flickering, uncertain 
shadows over the nuns all kneelino^ and bowed in med- 
itation in their carved oaken stalls, with the caryatides 
and separations, which, I always fancied, look like 
spirits in purgatory doomed to bear that weight on 
their heads, but, by this dim light, seemed like so 
many demons trying to carry off the stalls, nuns and 
all. The subject of the meditation, I must tell you, 
was ' Death, and the tortures of the damned.' " 

" Surely," cried Egremont, " they do not require 
you to meditate upon such an awful subject ? " 

" O no ! the girls never attend this service — only 
nuns; we are all supposed to be asleep in our beds. 
Just when I thought all their imaginations had become 
thoroughly inflamed with the horrors of the infernal 
regions, I gave an awful shriek in the cracked voice of 
Soeur Xavier, sprang to my^feet, and hobbled a pace or 
two to show t)ff my limp, and threw myself on my 
face in the most violent contortions. O, you should 
have heard how they all screamed ' Mon Dieu ! Jesu 
Maris I Joseph ! Priez pour nous ; ' and called on all 
the patron saints in the calendar before they could stop 
themselves. How the reverend mother, in that awful 
sepulchral voice of her's, commanded silence. But I • 



A SHADOW FALLING BEFQRE. 165 

9 

yelled harder than ever, * Le diahle ! le diahle ! he 
come emporter me I enlever me I yah-hi, yah-hi, I make 
one big sin ; I no confess it, yah-hi ! I put too much 
salt in the butter, the devil he take me.- Him there I 
him here I Cheres soeurs^ him blaze you all up on ac- 
count of my sin I ' 

" The sisters had all rushed round me terrified, be- 
lieving Soeur Xavier was at least possessed by the 
devil ; some begging me to make an act of contrition ; 
some saying the litany for the requiscent for me, and 
the few with presence of mind trying to quiet me and 
hold me still. One, thoroughly convinced of the Sa- 
tanic presence, rushed to the holy water and deluged 
me all over with it. I was terribly afraid my wrinkles 
would be washed off." 

" I wonder the devil didn't really carry you off I " 
burst in Martha, who was coming to and fro in the 
room with the tea during the narration. " Sure, to 
be playing such a trick on them pious nuns as gets out 
of their warm beds to say prayers for such sinful minx 
as you, Miss Zanita I Why that 's worse nor choking 
the kitten and tickling my nose with its tail." 

Here Zanita gave one of her old sidelong glances of 
elfish delight. I verily believe the accomplishment of 
some torture to others was the only enjoyment she 
knew. 

" Well, how did it end ? " said the Professor, de- 
lighted with the vim of the story and the artistic talent 
with which it was narrated. 

" Well," continued Zanita, " in spite of all the 
writhing and floundejing I could do, they carried me 
to Sa3ur Xavier's cell." 

" Should a' carried you to the pump," ejaculated 
Martha, who was a devout Catholic. 



166 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" And," continued Zanita, " they were putting me 
to bed when poor Xavier meekly put in, ' O, pray 
you please not put him in my bed ; O, take him out 
pray, please I ' All turned to look at the real Xavier, 
who now made herself heard in her own meek person, 
when they had thought she was kicking in -fits before 
them. I do not know what would have happened 
next ; perhaps, taking me for the imp of darkness as- 
suming poor Xavier's form, they might have taken me 
to the pump or thrown me out of window." 

" Sarve you right," said Martha. 

" But the string gave way with which I had fas- 
tened on veil, bandeau^ and green shade ; and there I 
was, face and head exposed, with nothing but my 
coffee wrinkles left.' I suppose I looked so odd that 
all the novices burst out laughing. Even Notre Mdre, 
the lady superioress, you know, Mr. Egremont, who 
had been to the pharmacy for sal volatile, could 
scarcely keep a solemn face, and said, as she took me 
by the shoulder and marched me off to my own room, 
* Mademoiselle, vous repondrez au moi.' " 

*' Did you not get fearfully punished ? " asked Mr. 
Egremont, whilst the Professor indulged in a loud 
laugh. 

" O no," replied Zanita, " they never punish 
there ; that is the best of the dear old nuns.' But I 
tell you, aunty, Soeur Dulcima talked to me about one 
thing, not scalding exactly or lecturing, until I felt as 
near like wishing I had not done it as I ever did in 
my life." 

" That must have been a feat of Soeur Dulcima," I 
responded, dryly. " But if you can only personate 
Lady Macbeth, Ophelia, and Juliet as well as you did 
Sister Xavier, I shall forgive you as they did." 



A SHADOW FALLING BEFORE. 167 

" I would rather play Romeo a great deal. I never 
coiild be so mawkish as Juliet and Ophelia." 

"Do you think loving Romeo or Hamlet so ab- 
surd then ? " said Egi'emont, making a desperate effort 
to look indifferent. 

" No," replied the girl with perfect sang-froidy — 
considering that this was her dSbut conversation on 
love with any young man, — " but the manner of it 
is ridiculous." 

"Romeo, why art thou Romeo ! " she mimicked to 
Egremoht, whilst we none of us could restrain our 
laughter. I hastened to change the subject, not wish- 
ing her to enlighten him as to how she could make 
love after her own fashion. 

After that evening Mr. Egremont rarely called ; and 
my fears had partly given place to a pensive regret 
that I had been obliged to banish him from our society, 
and wishing on the whole that Zanita had not dis- 
played*such a decided fancy for him, or that she could 
be induced to restrain it within maidenly bounds, 
which I knew she would not. But, one day driving 
in Oakland, turning over these thoughts, the subject 
of them passed on the road before me. He did not 
perceive me, for there was a gloomy, wearied look on 
his face which never changed. There was something so 
graceful yet haughty about his carriage, that if I had 
seen him for the first time I must inevitably have fallen 
into speculation about him, — as I then did. The old 
conundrum proposed itself for solution. What could 
he be doing here ? What brought him here ? Did he 
really care about Zanita, and was he trying to live down 
the feeling without making any attempt to win her ? 
I concluded that the latter was the case, for unless he 
had been self-conscious I had not said enough to drive 



168 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

him away in that sudden manner. Even the novelty 
of so beautiful and brilliant a girl as Zanita would 
naturally have been attractive to him. I was on my 
road to the ferry-boat to attend one of the Professor's 
lectures in San Francisco. I had vainly urged Zanita 
to accompany me. She did not like lectures on scien- 
tiiic subjects, — the geologj^ of the canons least of all. 

" I know it off by heart, aunty," she pleaded. 
" Didn't we go with the Professor when he found it 
all out?" 

I therefore left her at home reading the life of 
Rachel, whom I always fancied she resembled. 

There was to be a late boat that evening, and the 
Professor aird myself were to return by it after the 
lecture, which went off pleasantly, — as my husband's 
lectures alwavs did. Afterwards we went to the hotel 
with some friends, took some refreshments — as I had 
told Martha not to wait up, — and then returned all 
together by the ferry. • 

The moon shone brightly on the bay, drawing its 
wavelets in rippled silver, and performing marvels of 
masonry on Yerba Buena Island, in shadowy towers, 
and cajstles, and cathedrals, which seemed traceable 
like embers in a fire. 

'' I feel strangely nervous and almost superstitious to- 
night," I said, passing my arm through my husband's. 
" I fancy I can see the figure of Zanita clearly defined 
in the moonlight standing on that pinnacle of rock, 
just as I have seen her stand at the very brink of 
Eagle's Nest or Pom-pom-passa." 

" I see it too, and it is something like her," said the 
Professor. 

" And there is Egremont rising up behind her," I 
said, tracing out the figure, "and about to push her 
over." 



A SHADO W FALLING BEFORE. 169 

" I guess she '11 be first with him, there ! " laughed 
the Professor. " But there, they have both disap- 
peared," as the boat veered round. 

We parted with our friends at our own door. The 
Professor turned the key in the latch and pushed it 
open, and the whole passage was instantly flooded with 
moonlight. I lit the lamp, which had been left for us. 
I noticed the parlor door was partly open and the 
moonbeams slanting in. I went to close it, intending 
to go straight up-stairs to our room. I never can re- 
call what impulse tempted me to look in, but my eyes 
rested upon a sight which instantly paralyzed my lips 
beyond the power to utter an exclamation. There, on 
the sofa, sat Zanita and Mr. Egremont encircled in ^ 
each other's arms, like two statues carved in stone. 
The moon's rays, lying still over their placid faces, 
tinged them with the unearthly hue of two corpses, 
and showed their eyes, slightly open, staring glassily. 
At this moment my husband appeared with' the light : 
the vision changed at once and made them appear 
very much as though they had fallen comfortably 
asleep. 

" Good heavens I " I exclaimed, recovering my 
breath. "What is the meaning of this, Mr. Egre- 
mont? Zanita, I am ashamed of you I " 

But neither moved, though in my excitement I had 
spoken loud enough to rouse the " Seven Sleepers." 
I was about to rush upon Zanita and remove her for- 
cibly from her position when the Professor laid his 
hand on my shoulder. 

" Stop I my dear. Be careful ; there is something 
very curious about this. It is not ordinary sleep." 
And he advanced and passed the light before their 
eyes. The lids never quivered, neither did the pupils 
move. 



170 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

" My God I " I cried, with an awful dread steaKng 
over me, "are they dead ? My darling Zanita, speak 
one word I *' 

" They are not dead," said my husband, " nor is it 
even a case of suspended animation," feeling each 
pulse in turn. "Not sick," he muttered, "either, for 
their color is quite fresh and natural." 

" Nor asleep," I said, " unless they are both som- 
nambulists I " 

" They must be under the effect of some strong 
narcotic," said my husband,." opium or hasheesh. Per- 
haps Martha can throw some light upon the matter. 
Where is she ? " I ran up-stairs and awakened Martha. 

" Do you know anything of Miss Zanita ? " 

" No, ma'am, unless she is asleep in bed. Why, is 
she lost again 1 Up in some other china closet, you 
bet ! " suggested Martha, rubbing her eyes. 

" Did you know Mr. Egremont was here ? " 

" No, I guess he 's not, leastwise not of my letting 
in ; for he called soon after you was gone, and said as 
he would not come in, which he needn't have troubled 
to, for I held the door in my hand and never budged 
an inch to let him pass ; for I guess if I had Miss Za- 
nita and he would soon have been up at some marlicks 
or other." 

" Martha, dress quickly and come down-stairs ! 
Something very strange has happened to Miss Zanita." 

" I'd be more puzzled if it hadn't," responded 
Martha, hurrying on her things. 

We found the Professor still experimenting upon 
the two statues, who sat rigid as though they had been 
frozen. 

" Had we not better send for a doctor ? " I sug- 
gested. 



A SHADOW FALLING BEFORE, 171 

" I do not think it is a case for medical skill," replied 
my husband ; and he added, " it might cause a great 
deal of scandal." 

Martha declared she knew nothing of the event 
whatever. Until she had gone to bed at ten o' clock, 
Miss Zanita had not been moving about. No glass, 
cup, or spoon had been asked for, nor could we discover 
any pill-box, powder-paper, or glass, from which any 
mixture or drug had been taken. Mr. Egremont had 
his walking-cane in one hand, and Zanita had a lovely 
camelia in her right hand, their right and left arms Jay 
loosely round each other. 

" I am sure they were not speaking or moving 
around before I went to bed," persisted Martha, "and 
when I went to see the front door was all right on the 
latch, I noticed the parlor door ajar, and concluded 
Miss Zanita was abed." 

" My lamb, my pet I " moaned Martha, terrified by 
the strange sight, throwing her arms round the still 
form of Zanita and stroking the pale Grecian brow, 
which, with its slight frown, seemed sculptured in white 
marble. " You shall tickte me with the cat's tail, or 
anything else you like, if you will only speak one word 
to your own Martha ! " But poor Martha uttered a 
shriek of dismay, as this appeal was suddenly answered 
by Zanita and Mr. Egremont simultaneously rising 
from their seat and looking upon us with a bewildered 
gaze* 

Instantly the feeling of the impropriety of the situa- 
tion flashed upon us all, and my indignation began to 
boil over and first found vent. 

" Mr. Egremont I " I said, severely, " can you give 
any explanation of this?" 

" None, madam," he replied, the words oozing from 



172 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

his blue lips as though they were thrust forth in agony. 
He had turned perfectly white in fact, almost a livid 
green, since he had awoke, and the miserable ex- 
pression in his eyes seemed to appeal to the ceiling to 
fall and crush him. Shame, remorse, despair, complete 
self-abasement, were depicted upon every line of his 
person. 

Not so Zanita ; after the first stare of astonishment, 
she had fallen into that peculiar furtive look of hers 
when caught or arrested in any piece of mischief. 
The defiant, elfish smile was on her face, and, I must 
say, provoked me more than anything. 

" Zanita I " I exclaimed, " how could you think of 
going to sleep on the sofa with Mr. Egremont ? " 

" Aunty," replied the invincible child, no more 
moved than if I had asked her where she had put a 
spool of thread, "I don't think I did go to sleep on 
the sofa with Mr. Egremont ; at least I don't recollect 
it, if I did." 

*' My dear I " said my husband, coming to the rescue, 
" don't you thiiik we had better postpone this investiga- 
tion until to-morroiy ? Mr. Egremont " — he said, in- 
dicating that individual, who stood like a criminal 
listening to his death-warrant — " will no doubt be 
anxious to answer any and every question, and to-night 
will be glad of rest." 

" Whatever you wish," responded the latter, " but 
I should feel grateful to have my explanations, few as 
they are, postponed until to-morrow." He advanced 
toward me and half held out his hand, but I was too 
angry to give any sign of being propitiated. " Be piti- 
fiil," he mmmured ; " do not judge me too harshly,"— 
and he walked out of the room bowing to us all, like 
the ghost in a magic lantern. 



A SHADOW FALLING BEFORE, 173 

Zanita took up a candle. " Good-night, aunty ! " 
she said, with a mischievous smirk ; " good-night, Pro- 
fessor, — Martha I " and she skipped up- stairs with a 
bound. 

" Wall I " exclaimed Martha, " if she ain't the little 
imperintest, audacious minx. I never did I she ain't 
afraid of man or devil I " 

"No," commented my husband, "she has not a 
particle of fear in her composition I " — and we all 
retired to our chambers. 

When the door was shut and the lamp set down, I 
put my two hands on my husband's shoulders. I 
needed his quiet strength very much that night. 

" John I " I said, " tell me what is it ? Tell me what 
you think ? " He clasped his strong arms round my 
waist. 

" My dear," he said, '*I am not thoroughly satisfied 
myself what it is. I thought it might be some sopo- 
rific, such as chloroform, which Zanita had chanced 
upon, and experimented with. But she, at least, has 
none of the symptoms of having taken such a poison, 
and I am inclined to think that it may be some sin^ 
gular effect of animal magnetism called mesinerism. 
The greater part of the phenomena exhibited, I am 
inclined to regard as a gross humbug. But there is 
no doubt that muscular insensibility can be produced 
by one person over another, the same as by inhaling 
ether ; and that such coma may last for a certain 
length of time." 

" But how could thev have both fallen into this 
condition ? " I exclaimed. " How could they both 
have been mesmerized ? Who could have operated 
upon them ? " 

" There is the mystery," said my husband. " I do 



174 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

not believe any one has been in the house ; and yet I 
never heard of a case of mutual magnetic influence. 
I earnestly wish those two had never met, my dear." 

" That thought has tormented me from the first 
moment they saw each other," I replied. " But what 
is to be done now that the evil has occurred ? " 

" As to that you must be guided by circumstances. 
That they met this evening by any appointment or 
evil intention, I cannot be induced to believe. And 
perhaps the best thing would be to give our sanction 
to their intimacy and thus denude it of that danger- 
ous charm of secrecy." 

" You had better question them separately, and I 
think, you will elicit moye from either of them than I 
could. Egremont will speak more frankly to you, for 
a woman has a knack of arriving at the truth quicker 
than all the cross-questioning a man can put." 



CHAPTER XVn. 

AN APOLOGY FOR LOVE. 

The next morning I felt restless and anxious, ex- 
pecting Mr. Egremont every moment. Zanita had 
resumed her perusal of the life of Rachel in undis- 
turbed equanimity. 

" Aunty," she said, presently, " won't you let me 
have a horse to ride ? I feel so caged up in this small 
house and garden, I am sure it is that which gives 
me the headache ! " 

There was something so reasonable and yet so 
audacious in this request, at the moment when she 
ought to have considered herself in deep disgrace, that 
I paused before making her any reply. In that mo- 
ment I perceived Mr. Egremont coming up the front 
garden. " Zanita, go to your room ! " I said, per- 
emptorily. She quickly descended from the back of 
the chair, where she had been perched like a squirrel, 
and left the room before Martha had attended the 
door. He came in looking haggard and worn as 
though he had not slept all night. After a cold salu- 
tation had passed we sat for some time in silence. I 
was trying to frame a speech sufficiently decisive yet 
without any acrimony, and nervously rejecting each 
sentence as it presented itself; but no sooner had I 
opened my lips to speak than he interrupted me with, 
" Pray, Mrs. Brown, do not upbraid me until you know 
all. I will tell you exactly as far as I remember, all 



176 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

that occurred, and then submit to whatever comments 
you may think fit to make." 

" Proceed I " I said. 

" I called here last evening to see you, and was told 
by Martha that you were out, and as she did not seem 
inclined to let me in, I did not ask for Miss Zanita but 
went away. As I passed the window Zanita threw it 
up and said she wanted to speak to me, and I must get 
in at the window, which invitation I gladly obeyed. 
We talked a few minutes before she asked me to 
take a seat on the sofa by her side. She asked me for 
the flower I had in my buttonhole. I gave it to her 
with a compliment. She looked so beautiful I put my 
arm round her waist and kissed her,'' said Egre- 
mont, wringing out the words as though he was at con- 
fession, and coloring like a girl. 

"I am surprised, Mr. Egremont, that knowing the 
peculiar character of my ward, the anxiety I expe- 
rience on her account, and the intimate footing upon 
which you have been received in this family, that you 
should wantonly enter upon a clandestine flirtation 
with Zanita I " 

His handsome lips trembled and curved at this 
rebuke, and the hot color went and came painfully. 
He was silent for a few moments, and then said in a 
choked voice, — 

" The wanton and clandestine both do me injustice. 
I was absolutely fascinated and bewitched by her 
beauty, as I was the first time I saw her. The inter- 
view was entirely unpremeditated. But I will re- 
sume. 

"The idea occurred to me that I should like to 
exert control over her. I hoped I might gain her 
devotion, and I thought I would like to try to mes- 



AN APOLOGY FOR LOVE. 177 

merize her. I had no thought but a mere experiment. 
I said something of the kind to her ; she replied, ' Take 
care, I may magnetize you, as the snakes do the rab- 
bits.' I believe that is substantially all that passed ; I 
have no recollection whatever of any symptoms of 
sleep coming over me, or of any premonitory con- 
sciousness that I was falling asleep, such as we usually 
experience ; and I swear to you on my honor and con- 
science this is the truth. My feelings toward Zanita 
are honorable, and I will be to her whatever she may *>^ 
desire, — fiiend, lover, or husband." 

" I am glad to hear you speak so frankly, and must 
accept your explanation, however strange and inex- 
plicable it appears. May I ask, did you ever mesmer- ^ 
ize any one before last night ? " 

" I have done so occasionally," he replied, the warm 
wave again mantling his brow. " But that was in the 
regular way of making passes," he added. 

Unwilling to probe his suffering any further, I closed 
the interview, by saying, that the matter must rest 
upon Zanita's feelings ; that, for my own part, I did 
not wish her to engage herself as yet, still less to 
rush into such extraordinary proceedings as that of 
the previous evening ; that I did not think her at all 
calculated to perform the duties of a wife ; " nor 
should I wish," I said, '• to see you her husband, un- 
less I knew more of you." 

He winced at this last remark, and said, — 

" Has there been anything in my conduct that you 
have disapproved of before last night ? " 

" No," I said ; " but you must remember how little 
I know of your previous life, and the alarm I should 
feel at trusting such a wild unmanageable character as 
Zanita's with an entire stranger." 

12 



^nr^^^mi^' 9 ■ m^ 



178 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

• 

" Entire stranger ! " he muttered bitterly, and wished 
me good-morning, with the understanding that he was 
to return on the morrow to receive Zanita's answer 
to his proposition. 

When I made what I considered a necessary ex- 
planation to Martha of the affair, desiring her not to 
mention it in the neighborhood, she exclaimed, — 

" O, my eyes and Betty Martin 1 Ma'am, don't you 
go for to believe him. They were just a keepin' com- 
pany a sitting up with one another, as is reg'lar among 
young folks. Why, when I was cook aright away down 
East, there was a young man as used to come along 
reg'lar at dusk a sitting up with our young lady, an' 
the parlor was always dusted a-purpose for them. An' 
Mrs. Fishgill she used to make us creep about as quiet 
as mice, fear o' disturbing on 'em. Why ma'am, it 's 
quite natural like, only I don't see why they should 
a set so stiff at it. I thought they were dead. I'll be 
blessed if i did not I " 

I gave up the argument again, recommending dis- 
cretion. 

" All right, ma'am ; I'm not the one to be blabbing, 

about 'sitting up."' 

My interview with Zanita was not more satisfactory. 

"Why, aunty, you know what passed last night 
very well ; you have been questioning Mr. Egremont." 

" Yes, my dear, and I w*nt to see if he has told me 
the truth." 

" O yes," she cried, " you want the equipoise of 
evidence. Well, aunty, he has told you the truth, 
for although he is an enormous falsehood on the whole, 
he never tells a direct lie. Now the difference be- 
tween us is, that though I tell a thousand fibs I never 
practice deception, as he does." 



AN APOLOGY FOR LOVE. 179 

" Zanita ! " I said, " do not talk nonsense ; come to 
the point." 

" Well then, aunty, I called Mr. Egremont in and 
made him come through the window, as Martha had 
shut him out of the door. I asked him to sit on the 
sofa." She went on talking rapidly as though it were 
all a matter of course. " He had a flower in his coat, 
and I asked him to give it to me. He said he should 
have offered it to me before, as it perfectly resembled 
me, — ' it was a scarlet camellia,' — but thought I did 
not care for flowers. I said I liked it, because it was 
his flower, and then he put his arm round me and 
kissed me, and I liked that too." 

" Zanita I " I said severely. 

" O yes, I like him better than any one except you, 
aunty." 

I felt wretched, I had dreaded to hear this avowal, 
and had been hoping against hope. 

" And would you like to marry him and become his 
wife ? " I asked despairingly. 

" O no, aunty I I could not be bothered ! " 

I laughed right out at this characteristic reply. 
Zanita never cared for any one more than would 
gratify her immediate purpose. 

Of love, which in a woman consists of tenderness 
and devotion, her character was singularly devoid ; 
they were emotions quite foreign and incomprehensible 
to her. Compassion for man or beast she knew not, 
and would as soon have strangled her lover as her pet 
kitten, and experienced no more remorse. When I 
laughed out at her queer reply, which, nevertheless, 
came so gratefully to me, she joined in with a ter- 
rible reckless glee, that looked almost fiendish upon 
that young beautiful face. 



I 



180 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

** O, Zanita I " I said, taking her delicate hand with 
its long taper fingers in mine. " My dear child, will 
you never learn to feel for any one but yourself, or re- 
flect how much torture you inflict upon others in order 
that you may enjoy a small evanescent gratification ? " 

" What have I done to Mr. Egremont ? " 

" Zanita, you have done a very wicked thing. You 
have encouraged him to place his afiections upon you, 
under the impression that they were reciprocated. 
You have schemed for and obtained from him the 
choicest and holiest gift a man can ofi*er to a woman, 
— his heart and hand. And when you have succeeded 
in winning this, beyond his power to recall, then you 
reject scornfully the whole wealth of his soul which he 
has laid at your feet! My opinion is that a woman 
cannot be guilty of a more heinous and unpardonable 
sin. Heartlessness ought to be visitfed with equal 
reprobation as the weakness of over heartfiillness. 
There is less real evil in the latter than the former.'^ 

" As regards Mr. Egremont," said Zanita, indiffer- 
ently, " I don't think he has either heart or hand to 
give, so you need not lament the gift thrown away. 
He admires me because I admire him, and no more ; 
he will not break his heart any more than I shall; 
and as to his hand it is no doubt given away long ago." 

" What do you mean, Zanita? " for I fancied that 
with her usual trickiness she had slid into the latter 
suggestion the better to make out her case. She gave 
me one of her oblique furtive glances. 

" You don't know that he has not a wife and chil- 
dren in England, or wherever he comes from ? " she 
said. 

" Nonsense ! " I replied, reprovingly. " Of course 
he has not. But it is not of consequence, any way. 



AN APOLOGY FOR LOVE. 181 

Since you do not intend to accept him. I shall inform 
him of your decision." 

" Whatever you like, aunty," she said, carelessly, 
taking up the part of Lady Teazle she was studying. 

" Aunty ! " she called in her most coaxing voice as 
I was leaving the room, "can't I have a horse to 
ride ? " ^ 

" I will see about it," — and I left her. 

When I rejoined the Professor in his study and re- 
counted the various items of the inquirendo^ he ex- 
pressed himself highly satisfied with the result. 

"I am heartily glad she has rejected him. She 
would have been the death of him," laughed my hus- 
band. " She would ruin a whole county of men if 
she were allowed to marry them ; and I am very cer- 
tain, — as I told you when she was a mere infant, — 
that she is not qualified to form the happiness of any 
one. She ought to content herself with being wedded 
to her profession, and I suppose that unless some 
prince or premier makes her an offer, she will not 
think it worth while to be bothered, as she calls it." 

" She will never marry except from ambition or love 
of power," I said ; " yet it is one of the strangest cases 
of attraction — I will not call it love — I have ever 
witnessed. It commenced from the very first moment 
their eyes met, and thus might be classified as ' Love at 
first sight.' But Zanita does not love him, and asserts 
that he does not care for her, and of course she ought 
to know best." 

" And yet," mused the Professor, " you tell me he 
made a formal offer to marry." ^ 

" Yes, certainly ; but I think he might be actuated 
by other motives than love. He possesses a great deal 
of that quality the French call respect humain^ and 



■M 



182 A TALE OF THE YO^SEMITE. 

would be very sorry to forfeit our good opinion ; and 
the matter having been brought to a climax by the 
discovery last evening, he has seen no way out of the 
dilemma but honorable proposal." 

" Very probable," said the Professor. " But ad- 
mitting that to be the case, what is the attraction? 
How was the climax, as you term it, brought about ? " 

" That is a myth," I said, " which none of my ologies 
have yet elucidated. What is love ? What, especially 
at first sight ? A man sees a young woman bearing a 
noble part in her family, enduring patiently a great 
burden of misery, or struggling heroically with the 
rough current of the world. He admires, and pities, 
and reasons logically that such noble qualities if trans- 
ferred to a more genial soil and planted round his 
hearth would make his home an Eden. The interest 
deepens into affection, the pity into tenderness, which 
is all natural, reasonable, and comprehensible. But 
that is the passion of love, only in certain minds : love 
is usually erratic, unreasonable, unruly, and uncon- 
querable. It rushes down like an avalanche, we know 
not from whence, we guess not whither. It changes 
all things, transforms the whole face of nature, beau- 
tifying, glorifying, and gilding all it approaches. It 
makes the stars to shine out, and the moon to be in- 
tensely bright. What lover does not see the moon 
bigger than erst was her wont to be ? The veriest 
clown picks gently the flower he has trodden under 
his hob-nailed shoes all his life, and carries it to his 
Molly. Nature seems in sympathy with this master- 
passion of love, which, at the same time, is metamor- 
phosing and making as wild work in our interior and 
exterior world. The same vivid delusions prevail, as 
concerning the size of the moon, the brilliancy of the 



AN APOLOGY FOR LOVE, 188 

stars, and the beauty of the flowers. This may be 
called the poetic phase, where love idealizes and makes 
life a romance. Poets sing it, and artists depict it. 
Along with it troop a noble band of devotion, worship, 
self-sacrifice, admiration. We drink it in as an elixir, 
sometimes accidentally, but often consciously ; and like 
revelers in champagne we know that intoxication is to 
ensue ; we know that the whole world is to be turned 
like a kaleidoscope, from dull, prosaic gray to rainbow 
tints of gorgeous hue; we know it is the same old 
dull piece of glass, but yet it is mingled with such ec- 
static moments of faith in the bfissM ideal^ and dis- 
gust of the dronish real, that we clutch the flowing 
goblet and sip and sip till our souls are wrapt in an 
elysium of bliss. This is all-absorbing love." 

" Or harmless insanity," put in the Professor. 

" Let us imagine it " — I went on, not heeding the 
sarcasm — " an essence something between spirit and 
matter floating in ambient air, neither all godlike nor 
fully human. We imbibe it with our eyes, and ears, 
and nostrils, and lips, and touch, and every trembling 
fibre of our whole fi*ame." 

" A sort of epidemic," suggested my husband, " in- 
fectious, like cholera or small-pox." 

" You ought to be the best judge of that," I re- 
torted, " for you have experienced the three maladies." 

" Well," he said, " I hope the former has left more 
trace than the three little marks of the latter," — 
placing his finger over three indented white spots on 
his forehead. 

" But, John, I have not come to Zanita's case yet, 
and that kind of fascination is the most mysterious to 
me. She has no love for him of the description we 
have been speaking of, but still is irresistibly attracted 



184 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

toward Egremont and he to her. Do you not think, 
Professor, that the condition we found them in was a 
physical result of negative and positive magnetism 
operating as imperatively upon these two coming to- 
gether as the detonation from an electric cloud ? " 

" That seems a plausible but very dangerous theory, 
especially if you think they might explode of sponta- 
neous combustion," replied the Professor, who always 
worked out my nebulous theory by a little satire. 

" They are thrown together by much the same mag- 
netic attraction that draws the lamb to its own mother 
out of a flock of hundreds of sheep, though it has no 
/ mark by which to distinguish her from the rest. And I 
' believe, that thousands of matches are made, and lives 
marred by mistaking that phenomena for love ; for 
1 if we call it love among the animals, it ought not to be 
dignified with that name in human beings, because the 
soul has really no part in it, and I believe that either 
Zanita or Egremont, in spite of this attraction, would 
\be capable of forming a real attachment to-morrow." 

" I should be sorry for the object of such an aflec- 
tion," said the Professor ; ** but don't you think, my 
dear, that it would be an improvement if these nega- 
tive and positive aflinities could also entertain a little 
devotion and tenderness for each other ? If the moon 
could grow a little larger for them as well as the 
ploughman, or the streamlets ripple out soft sayings to 
their longing ears, par example f " 

" O, certainly I I should know the touch of your 
hand in a crowd, though I did not know that you 
were within miles of me." 

For reply, my husband kissed me, and ksked if I 
should know that, for a sapient little woman as I was. 
He said, he thought " even an unpoetical Professor of 
^ Geology might swear to that in the dark." 



J 



AN APOLOGY FOR LOVE, 185 

"Yes,'M continued, "you must have noticed that 
some hands have the power to soothe in sickness 
whilst certain invalids are irritated by the touch of a 
nurse. You know what an objection your sister has 
to shake hands with strangers, because, she says, in 
touching some people she experiences the most un- 
comfortable sensation, amounting sometimes to a gal- 
vanic shock; and don't you think that sometimes, 
when my hair is emitting electric sparks, that if I laid 
it upon some persons they would feel some magnetic 
influence ? " 

"Without a shadow of doubt," my dear, said my 
husband, roguishly. " You used to wear a long curl 
before we were married, and one day the wind blew it 
round me, and after that I remember it was all over 
with me. Since Samson's time, long hair has been a 
mighty perilous weapon." 

" Particularly," I said, " attached to a javelin, like 
the Spartan women." 

The next day I felt uncomfortably nervous at hav- 
ing to break to Mr. Egremont the unpropitious news 
of his rejection by Zanita. I tormented myself to find 
the mildest form in which I coulji convey it and least 
wound his sensitive temperament. I rehearsed in im- 
agination phrase aft;er phrase, and sentence after sen- 
tence, with a view to making bad look better ; for that 
Zanita had behaved badly I felt bitterly conscious, and 
how deeply he might take it to heart I could not de- 
cide. Sometimes I concluded that I would regard it 
lightly as a mere childish fi*eak ; at others, that I would 
treat it virtuously and indignantly, and condemn Za- 
nita as a heartless coquette who was not worth griev- 
ing about. I even went so far as to think of oflering 
my sympathy and influence to coax Zanita into a more 



186 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

amiable frame of mind. That was the most chimer- 
ical idea of all. The whole was cut short by the an- 
nouncement by Martha of Mr. Egremont. 

" He'll be come to fix up about Miss Zanita," sug- 
gested Martha, confidentially, " and no doubt keeping 
company reg'lar with him an' subdue her like. I know 
when I kep' company with Abimelech Jiggers I felt 
right badly all the time, — a low sinking like; and 
when he went away West to fix about some lot of land 
and wrote me to come on, I didn't feel like it, so I 
just put the letters in the fire that he might think I 
never got them, — post-offices is such iincertin things." 

Still laughing at Martha's Irish solution of her anti- 
matrimonial difficulty, I descended to the parlor and 
made a thorough bungle of all I intended to say, be- 
coming very hot and red in the process. 

" I was quite prepared," answered Mr. Egremont, 
very coolly, " for your communication ; " and a haughty 
sneer settled on his face, which both irritated and 
perplexed me. " Zanita having got into somewhat 
of a scrape with me I thought it best, out of re- 
spect for yourself and the Professor, to make the ofier 
I did, without the slightest idea that it would be ac- 
cepted, and, indeed," he continued, tapping his boot 
with his cane, " with the slight knowledge she had of 
my position, I felt sure she would not.^* 

" Then," said I, angrily, " it would appear that I 
am the only person in earnest in the whole affair ? " 

He smiled a faint sarcastic smile, which rapidly trans- 
figured him to a totally diflerent person. The gentle, 
sweet-faced Adonis suddenly appeared like some llasS 
guardsman, some callous rouS seen lounging about 
most great cities. My eyes flamed up with vexation 
and surprise. " Undjr those circumstances, Mr. Eg- 



AN APOLOGY FOR LOVE. 187 

remont," I said, " I must beg you to avoid such con- 
tretemps'^ as you call scrapes, for the future. I had 
been considering how I could best spare your feelings 
in the matter; but now I perceive that you have 
none." 

" I trust you will not judge me too harshly, Mrs. 
Brown," he said, resuming his soft captivating way, 
" and that in time you will think that this is really the 
best termination to the affair." He bowed gracefully 
with the old sweet smile, and left me. 

" Well," I soliloquized, — for the Professor was out, 
— " he is gone, and the mystery with him ; and I never 
knew anything more provoking and unsatisfactory in 
my life. If I only knew what he was or who he was. 
If I could decide to think well or ill of him, or come to 
any definite conclusion about him. The vague per- 
plexity is tantalizing in the extreme. Why should 
Zanita hint at his being married ? Why should he 
assume that if she knew his position she might act 
differently? How extraordinary that we had been 
upon such intimate terms, and discussing the nearest 
relations he could enter into with us, and we know ab- 
solutely nothing of him, and he had never let fall one 
syllable from which we could draw any conclusion." 

The Professor laughed right out when I recounted 
to him the result of the interview. " He is quite 
right, my dear; this is the very best ending possible. 
If you can only write finis now, you have done well, 
and I congratulate you upon a very narrow escape 
from trouble." 



CHAPTER XVin. 

NEW SYMPTOMS AND A RECOURSE TO NATURE. 

For some weeks after this all went* on quietly at 
our home. We neither saw nor heard anything of 
Mr. Egremont. We decided that as the nuns had 
done all they could for Zanita she was to remain at 
^ home and study for the stage : first by reading with 
me, and afterwards with some tragedian. 

She commenced the study well, and soon delighted 
me with the vivid conception she took of each charac- 
ter, old or young, — ; from Polonius, Ophelia's father, 
to Emilia, lago's wife. She was skillful in seizing the 
identity, and where she could not personify she could 
mimic to perfection. 

The saddle-horse she so much coveted had been 
procured, and she was such a fearless and skilled horse- 
woman that I permitted her to ride out alone, accom- 
panied only by Beppo as groom, in the secluded park- 
like roads of Oakland. Sometimes she would visit her 
old school-mistress, — the matter of the expelling hav- 
ing been quite forgotten, — and would enchant that 
highly cultivated lady with her recitations from the 
, poets. Mrs. Martinette made a point of calling upon 
me to express her strong conviction that Zanita was 
destined to become one of our greatest actresses ; and 
that whenever I felt disposed to let her essay in a pri- 
vate rehearsal, her magnificent class-room would be 
placed at my disposal. 



NEW SYMPTOMS: RECOURSE TO NATURE. 189 

I was beginning to breathe afresh and see my future 
course clearly, when one morning Martha opened the 
parlor door with unusual precaution, and peering round 
stealthily closed it behind her standing with her back 
against it. 

" Are you alone, ma'am ? " she said in a sepulchral 
whisper. 

" Why of course I am, Martha ; what \m earth is 
the matter with you ? " 

" Well, then, ma'am, I thought Miss Zanita might 
be. around, for she is such a flipperty thing you never 
know rightly where she is ; and I wanted just to say, 
ma'am, as Mr. Egremont's not visiting the house 
lately — is he? " 

" Why no, Martha I How can you ask such foolish 
questions ? I told you that as the young people did 
not care for each other the matter was at an end." 

" Yes, ma'am," said Martha, wiping down her two 
red bare arms with her apron as though she had just 
come out of the wash-tub, — " yes, ma'am, yotlPtold me 
so ; but it beats me if them two ain't a keepin' com- 
pany right straight on." 

" O, nonsense 1 Martha. What reason have you for 
supposing such a thing ? " 

" Where does Miss Zanita ride to ? " she asked, 
briskly setting her arms akimbo. * 

^^ She rides about the roads and sometimes to the 
Academy." 

" Pish 1 " ejaculated Martha, disdainfully ; " no sir- 
'ee, she do not 1 " she cried, forgetful of my sex in 
her vehemence. " She rides somewheres direct, and 
back same way, and brings that mare home in a sweat. 
' Where 's this you've been ? ' sez I to Beppo, * to bring 
them horses all home in a sweat, sez I.' ^ Them 's 



190 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

not in a sweat, sez he.' * Them is in a sweat, sez I,' — 
and I just wiped it off with my hand and threw it in 
his face to teach him to lie to me. And moresomever, 
ma'am, just you ask Beppo where they've went just 
after they've been, and you'll see the roundabout rig- 
marole he'll be telling you of nowheres at all." 

" The next time they go out I will ask Miss Zanita," 
I said, " for I think you must be wrong in your sus- 
picions. She had only to express the wish and Mr. 
Egremont could visit her as much as she desires." 

" Bless you, ma'am I^ that 's just her contrart/ness. 
She won't lake what she can have, and will have what 
she can't get." 

Having delivered herself of this lucid explanation, 
Martha wiped her arms again and returned to her 
kitchen, leaving me full of uneasiness ; for although I 
could scarcely believe that Zanita had any rendezvous 
with Mr. Egremont, there was the danger that she had 
formed some other acquaintance ; for discretion formed 
no pariPof her character, and to carry on anything on 
the sly was so much the negro propensity that Beppo 
would make only too ready an ally. 

Satisfied that if there was any foundation for Mar- 
tha's fear I should not elicit anything from Zanita, I 
resolved upon a stratagem. 

The following dsHy, when the two horses were stand- 
ing -ready at the door and Zanita just preparing to 
mount, I suddenly notified my intention of riding with 
her instead of Beppo, and bade him change the saddle. 
Beppo was no master of the art of dissimulation, 
though an apt scholar ; and his great wide open eyes, 
protruding to their utmost, showed how terribly he 
was disconcerted by this change of the programme. 
He cast an appealing look toward his young mistress, 



NEW SYMPTOMS: RECOURSE TO NATURE. 191 

who stood carelessly switching her habit with her rid- 
ing whip. 

" Why, aunty 1 will you not be very tired ? And 
you have company coming this evening." 

" True, I had forgotten that ; but I will go all the 
same.'* 

Directly we turned into the main road both horses 
tried to break into a canter. Zanita checked her s, 
but I gave mine the rein and let him go. The animal 
shook his mane and went off as though intent upon 
doing his duly. 

" O, aunty ! " cried Zanita, " how fast you are rid- 
ing ; you will be quite tired." 

But I never touched my rein determined to let my 
horse have his head and see where he would take me 
to. 

• After riding in this way for some time Zanita sud- 
denly shot past me, for her mare was much fleeter than 
mine, which we used as a buggy horse, and presently 
I saw she was urging her mare to ftill gallop. 

I screamed to her not to gallop, but keep with me ; 
but she heeded me not, and was soon racing with the 
wind. The road was almost straight to the beach. 
She was a fearless rider and sat her horse so well that 
I felt no alarm. She looked so bright and beautiful 
as she flew on, that every passenger turned to look at 
her, and must have thought her the personification of a 
Die Vernon. Unwilling to lose sight of her I had 
now to urge my buggy charger, and he, nothing loth, 
did his best. But we had lost time, and just before 
we came in sight of the beach a curve in the road hid 
the runaway from my sight. 

I rounded the point in time to see Zanita raised in 
her stirrup and waving her handkerchief, fastened to 



192 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

the end of her whip, like a flag of truce. She then 
turned her horse's head and was back at my side im- 
mediately. 

" I wanted to get a glimpse of the beach/' she said, 
" and you do not want to ride so far, I know." 

" I am going on," I replied, without drawing my 
rein. 

When we neared the beach a little skiflF was putting 
oflF manned by a single saUor. 

Could I be mistaken in that lithe, graceful figure 1 
It was too far off to be very certain, but my emotions 
n told me it was Egremont. 

" Who is that in yonder boat ? " I asked, turning 
to Zanita. 

She shaded her eyes with her hand as if to take a 
better view. 

" Which boat, aunty ? You call all manner of 
craft boats. Is it the schooner, the cutter, the row- 
boat, or the man-of-war's boat with the captain in it ? 
Sure enough ! " cried Zanita, as if overjoyed with the 
discovery. 

But the solitary boatman was now hidden by the 
sail, and the little skiff was bounding with joyous 
springs over the blue bay toward San Francisco. 
Zanita kept on chatting about the visit we had been 
asked to pay on board the English man-of-war lying 
off Buena Yerba. I made no reply, but turned home- 
wards with a heavier heart than I had come. Both 
horses stretched out to take the same pace back. They 
had done their work, and evidently knew what was 
expected of them. If they could have spoken they 
could have told me how often Zanita had sped along 
that road at lightning pace. How often their spuming 
hoofs had struck the light from the flints as they tore 



NEW SYMPTOMS: RECOURSE TO NATURE. 193 

up the stony road ; h<iw they had been running this 
race, poor beasts ! for days and weeks, and were ever 
ready to do it again and again. No wonder they came 
home covered with foam. How often had that tiny 
white sail glided into the little cove or bay ; and Za- 
nita's genet could have told too, how often the hand- 
some sailor had sprang ashore to lift the lady from its 
back, and afterwards stood stroking its soft nose and 
call it brave little mare. For he was always kind and 
affable and gentle to animals. But the dumb brutes 
are man's servants and his slaves ; they do his work 
and keep his secret. 

I needed no further enlightenment. I had seen 
enough. Zanita was keeping up her flirtation with 
Egremont, and the secrecy she was practicing could 
arise fi'om no other cause than her contraryness^ as 
Martha called it. 

When I informed the Professor of my discovery he 
was more disturbed than was his wont. 

" If she commences a practice of deceiving you, my 
dear, there is no knowing where it will end ; and sus- 
picion and distrust will keep you in continual anxiety." 

" I should have expected more honorable conduct 
from Egremont. He must see what a wild thoughtless 
child she is, and he is taking advantage of it to amuse 
himself, not at hers, but our expense, for he knows 
that we should be the greatest sufferers from any 
edclandre.'^^ 

Thus the amount of pain endured should be meas- 
ured by the substance upon which it falls, not by the 
weight of the blow given. The organization, and the 
nervous system, regulate the proportion of suffering. 
A person of delicate sensitive temperament endures 
an excess of pain, both mental and physical, over the 

13 



194 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

phlegmatic, obtuse person. Hence a public disgrace 
has killed many a man ; whilst others seek only how 
they can best turn it to account. One man endures an 
agony from the amputation of a limb, whilst another 
could almost dictate a letter whilst the operation was 
going on. 

"I fear we should never induce any dread in 
Zanita of what evil tongues might say of her proceed- 
ings. Whereas you, my dear, will never be free from 
pain for a single instant, until such contingency is put 
beyond all risk. Is it not so ? " 

. " Indeed it is. To have my adopted child the talk 
of the place would utterly destroy my peace of mind ; 
and to avoid this I must never lose sight of her ; for 
' her propensity to be in mischief is just as prominent as 
when she was a child." 

" I think," said my husband, " you had better put 
an end to this affair by taking her home to the Valley 
for a time. It would change the current of her ideas, 
and probably turn them in the channel you wish." 

" That would be the very best thing," I exclaimed. 
" But what will become of you left here by yourself? " 

" O, I shall get on splendidly ; hang the broom out, 
and have a good time generally with my bachelor 
friends." 

I shook my head dolefully. I knew he was the last 
man in the world to be merry when left alone ; that he 
would mope and grow sick ; . wear two odd stockings, 
— even if he were fortunate enough to find two; 
never have a handkerchief, and appear in a disrep- 
utable neck-tie ; that all his linen would take the 
opportunity of my absence to go astray at the laundry. 
But he insisted upon sacrificing himself and his socks 
for the general good, — c*e8t a dire for Zanita's and 



NEW SYMPTOMS: RECOURSE TO NATURE. 195 

mine. So it was decided we should start for the Val- 
ley immediately. 

Zanita heard the news joyfiiUy, and I was happy to 
think that no regrets for tlie handsome gondolier lin- 
gered in her mind. Our preparations were soon com- 
pleted, and the Professor accompanied us to Stockton, 
partly to see a friend, and partly for the pleasure of a 
sail over the Bay of San Francisco, than which there 
is scarcely another to exceed it in beauty. 

The city on its seven hills, like Rome, is more pictur- 
esque to look at from the water than pleasant to trav- 
erse : the beautiful coast-range of mountains, form- 
ing a wall to the golden gate, where alone the glori- 
ous sunlight seemed to be admitted ; the soft green 
hills sloping like velvet to the very verge of the blue 
bay, and rising majestically to the two thousand feet 
of Tamel Pais and Mount Diablo ; the pretty little 
towns and villages nestled in the cafions of the moun- 
tains, overshadowed by luxuriant mandrona and quer- 
cuS'Virens ; the deep intense blue of the water, with 
the pink and gold glow of sunset ; the sweet west 
breeze so fresh and pure, — 

" For of all the ways the wind may blow, 
I dearly love the West," 

all these combined make a sail on the Bay of San 
Francisco at sunset a dream of glorious beauty and 
delight. 

" I never can decide," I communicated to my 
husband, " whether I like this or the Bay of Naples J^ 
the best. To be sure the latter has Vesuvius, Capri, 
and Sorrento, which might be likened to Saneileto, — 

" Without the oranges," said my husband ; " and I 
think there ^is a magical shade of light over Naples, 



196 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

which creates such enthusiasm, and which we lack 
here, though the sunsets are very fine." 

" Yes, I remember what you mean : the after-glow, 
— the very poetry of nature. Do look at Zanita'; she 
is nearly asleep, she cares no more for scenery than 
science." 

" She has no poetry in her soul, obviously," said the 
Professor. 

" I think it is very sad. I should pity a person more 
in being bereft of the faculty of drawing pleasure from 
the glory of God's works, than for being either deaf or 
blind. For nature to the appreciative is like sleep to 
the wakeful : it steals over us in our moments of bitter 
trial and harassing care, and wraps us in downy ob- 
livion, and with imperceptible tonic opens the dead- 
ened senses to new delight and exhilaration. But this 
poor child would never know this balm in her extremis.^^ 

" Poor little child," mused the Professor. 

*' John," I whispered, moving near to him, as I al- 
ways did when I wanted to gain my point, — " John, I 
wish you would try and exercise some of your kindly 
wisdom upon the child ; for I feel she is beyond my 
control.'' 

The Professor pressed my hand softly under my 
shawl, and replied, — 

** My dear, I will do whatever you suggest to help 
you with your protSgS ; but I think in her manage- 
ment she more needs tact than wisdom ; and of the 
former you have more than I; and in interfering I 
might only make mischief. Try the Valley first, and 
then when she returns we shall see if anything ftirther 
is necessary." 

" I have a sad presentiment or foreboding about her. 
I feel as regards her morally now, as I used to do phys- 



NEW SYMPTOMS: RECOURSE TO NATURE. 197 

ically, when she was a little girl in the Valley. She 
was always verging on some danger ; always hazard- 
ing the brink of some precipice. If she was out of 
sight for a minute she was generally discovered hang- 
ing by her frock in some tree, or being carried down 
some gulch by the surging torrent. And now, if it is 
not the peril of Mr. Egremont, it will be something 
else. It seems a strange dispensation of Providence, 

that she cannot lead a smooth and natural life like 
other people I " 

" Well, my dear, let us at least anticipate that once 
in the Valley of Ah-wah-nee, your lives will flow on 
as peacefiiUy as the Mercede, when rippling between 
the banks of azaleas and lilies." 

We remained in Stockton two days, and then hav- 
ing parted with tlie Professor, with much misgiving 
as to the state of liis personal* appearance when I 
should next see him, we resumed our journey, via 
Hornitas, — the Little Oven, so called in Spanish, from 
its intense heat, lying in the mountains very much like 
one. Or as Zanita called it, " via purgatory to Para- 
dise, the Valley." 

To ride behind four well-conditioned horses would 
seem, in the abstract, the most pleasurable way of 
travelling through a beautiful country. But practi- 
cally this ride is one of the worst tortures that can be 
inflicted upon persons guilty of no crime recognizable 
by law as punishable. This coach is so constructed, 
that at every pebble as large as a nut, or hole to ac- 
commodate a taw, it rolls and pitches worse than a 
narrow screw-steamer in a chopping sea. You are 
jigged, and tossed, and bounced up to the ceiling, 
tumbled on the floor, wedged against the window, and 
scattered generally in all directions ; churned up in the 



198 A TALE OF TEE YO-SEMITE. 

corner, or sent sprawling into your neighbors on the 
middle seat, and scratch your nose against a watch- 
chain, or lady's shawl pin. As this alternate beating 
and banging continues from twelve to sixteen hours, 
according to the road, you have very little definite idea 
of yourself whether you are a living, bruised, and 
crushed hunian being, or a palpitating mass of hogshead 
cheese. The only remedy for this is the alternative 
of having the stage crammed with nine stout inside 
passengers, a few children, and a baby or two to stop 
up tlie crevices ; then you travel in the same style as 
poultry going to market promiscuously in a bag. You 
must either sit upon your neighbor, or he will make 
a cushion of you. You find some one's- head pil- 
lowed on your shoulder, and a stray arm round your 
waist. Feet in general are in inextricable pell-mell, 
and woe to the wearer of thin boots troubled with 
corns. It is no use frowning at your vis-d-vis for 
making you a footstool, for it may. be the individual 
in the farthest comer of the coach who has succeeded 
in intersecting his long limbs over the way. What 
canned lobsters must feel is easy to be realized by 
mortals travelling per stage on a hot dusty day in 
California. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

AU REVOIR. 

Never were two escaped negroes more joyous 
than we, when we were mounted on our horses to ride 
to Galen's Rancho. Fortunately, its most estimable 
owner was upon his way home, and accompanied us. 

He was an old man who had lived the greater part 
of his life with Nature for his companion ; he had lived 
so true and close to her that her beauty and purity 
seemed to permeate his entire character. Next to 
Kenmuir, we could not have found a more interesting 
companion for such a ride ; and as we ascended higher 
and higher, four thousand feet, until we reached the 
Rancho, we appeared to be hourly invigorated by the 
pure mountain air. 

The cares, vexations, and anxieties I had expe- 
rienced in the city seemed to be fading away under 
the powerful stimulus of horse exercise and the re- 
freshing beauty of Nature. I know of no better anti- 
dote for a weary and jaded spirit than a brisk gallop 
among the hills aad by-ways of Nature's peaceful 
retreats. 

Zanita was in high spirit, and looked radiant in 
beauty and power, as she always did on horseback. 
The old mountaineer could not help admiring her and 
remarking to me, — 

" She does credit to you, Mrs. Brown, for although 
these mountains gave her talent and power, the r«- 



200 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

fined bearing and culture come from you ; we could 
not have given lier these graces." 

" You are very good to say so, but I think the nuns 
deserve the credit of the refinement you notice." 

" It lias always been interesting to me to trace," he 
said, " how much her birth amidst the stupendous 
grandeur of this scenery, and her life with it alone for 
i^ so many years, have had to do with the formation of 
her character. Those children of Naunton's have 
always been a theme for curious speculation, and I am 
pleased to see such a pleasant result evolved." 

'* Yes," I said, " Zanita has turned out a very brill- 
iant and attractive girl, and sets her own cachet upon 
whatever she does, but her nature still bears the im- 
press of the wild, untrammeled character of the scen- 
ery ; she remains the uncurbed child of nature in spite 
of all we could do to make her conventional." 

We passed the night at Galen's Hospice, and when 
about to start the next morning, on our twenty-five 
miles' ride into the Valley, Galen himself appeared 
leading up his own black mule. 

'' I am going to guide you myself," he said, " for I 
find that Bill is off with a stranger, an artist, who lias 
come up to make sketches of the various points of 
scenery." 

" I am very glad to hear that," I exclaimed, " be- 
cause it gives us your company ; also because we shall 
now probably have some fine pictures of this liixe de 
beauts. Who is he?" 

" I don't recall his name, but he is a very pleasant 
gentleman." 

" I wonder if we could have him give Rosalind some 
lessons? She inherits all her mother's talent for 
painting and music, and has accomplished some very 



AV REVOIR, 201 

creditable pieces with such little instruction as her 
father and myself could give her." 

" So I understand," he replied. " She is growing 
up a very sweet and lovable little creature." 

We were once more winding through the grand 
mountains, gorgeous in their wonderful atmospheric 
tints, and through mighty forests of centurian trees, 
many whose hoary locks denoted thousands of years 
rather than hundreds. To think of these giant pa- 
triarchs dwelling here for centuries, long before this 
Western Continent was dreamed of by Nor'lander or 
Spaniard, — when the limits of the toiling, bubbling, 
surging world of Europe comprised the terra cognita, 

" Think of these majestic hosts that have encamped 
far and wide over this great land welcoming Columbus 
and Balboa to their mossy corridors and wide-spread 
leafy chambers, regaling them with their sweet gums 
and pine nuts, singing them to sleep by the rustling of 
their great feathery arms. They must have seemed 
to them like puling infants in contrast to their aged 
generation. They must have been as much astonished 
as these voyagers were." 

*' Yes," said Galen, *' for I presume they had never 
seen a white man before." 

" And do you think that the Indians are coeval with 
the Sequoia and the Pinus ponderosa ? " I asked. 

" I do. The Bed man is a . type of race which is 
gradually fading out from old age and decay in the 
same manner as the individual dies from the same 
cause. The Indians have ceased to multiply, yet there 
is little doubt that they once populated this vast Con- 
tinent." 

" Do not ride so far ahead I " I called to Zanita. 
But she was off and soon out of sight. 



202 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" I would ride after her," remarked Galen, " but I 
do not apprehend the slightest danger for her ; still, if 
you feel alarmed, Mrs. Brown " — 

" O no ! " I returned, " she will be all right now, 
but we might as well all have kept together." 

In about a quarter of an hour she came riding back 
to meet us, looking well pleased and as gay as she ever 
was. As we turned a point Galen exclaimed, " Ah I 
there they are ! " 

I looked in the direction he indicated and had no 
difficulty in recognizing the brawny shoulders of 
Horseshoe-Bill planted against a tree, his two hands 
thrust into the waist of his trousers, with a short pipe 
in his mouth, in the blissful enjoyment of life ; near 
him was the figure of the artist partly concealed by a 
large white umbrella used to regulate the shade on his 
sketch. As my eyes rested on him he arose from his 
sitting posture and gave me a full view of him ; my 
eyes surely had deceived me. 

" Good heavens I Zanita," I ejaculated. " Zanita, is 
not that Mr. Egremont ? " 

" Yes, aunty. I saw him half an hour ago, and rode 
on to speak to him. He is making a splendid sketch," 
she replied, with the utmost nonchalance. 

*' Nonsense ! " I said, angrily, " why has he come 
to the Valley ? " 

" To make sketches, I suppose, like any other 
artist." 

" I don't believe he is an artist ; if he is why has he 
concealed it from us ? " 

" You are a good judge, you can see for yourself, 
aunty," resumed Zanita, curtly. 

As we approached Mr. Egremont, he advanced with 
that easy grace which was peculiar to him, and looked 



AU RE VOIR. 203 

up at me with that unconscious sweetness that was 
always irresistible. 

" Is not this glorious ? " he said, surveying nature 
around us, and cleverly ignoring the awkwardness of 
our rencontre, 

" Very," I replied, saying within myself, " What a 
consummate hypocrite you are ; " for in the pres- 
ence of Horseshoe-Bill and Mr. Galen I could not ex- 
press myself aloud. 

" You are right-smart at finding the trail now, Mrs. 
Brown, I guess," said Bill. " You remember how 
you were down on your luck first time as I brought 
you along ; and how you wanted to put Kenmuir in 
Stockton mad-house." Here he laughed heartily, 
hitching up his waistband and enjoying the joke. 

*' That was your doing. Bill. Did you not tell me 
that he was 'an idiot ? " 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed Bill, with an unction ; " didn't 
he look like one, a moping and a mowing about the 
rocks ? I didn't suspect as your husband belonged to 
the same profession." 

" Moping and mowing idiots ! " exclaimed Zanita, 
catching briskly at the blunder with her keen mis- 
chievous glance. " It 's well the Professor does not 
hear you, and that aunty is so good tempered." 

" I'm darned if I am up in the professions," said 
Bill, apologetically. 

" Never mind ; Bill, I understand what you mean." 

We all rode on, Egremont mounting his horse and 
acting as my cavalier. He was ready with all those 
delicate attentions, those little easy flowing conven- 
tional speeches which entirely exclude any real and 
earnest conversation however important. Thus, partly 
owing to the interruptions of Zanita or Bill — Galen 



204 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

having taken his leave and returned when we were in 
charge of the guide, — and partly owing to Egre- 
mont's adroitness in warding off any special inquiries, 
I found no opportunity to ask the question which was 
natural and pertinent. 

Long before we reached our destination he had so 
far insinuated himself into my good graces that I found 
myself talking to him in the old familiar way, and tac- 
itly admitting his presence amongst us as a matter 
of course. Strange as it may appear, either by his 
influence, or the mysteriously soothing effect of the 
physical nature around me, my anger and annoyance 
at meeting him subsided. I enjoyed his presence as 
J much as ever without any of the nervousness which 
had so depressed me when leaving San Francisco. 

What would* the Professor think, could he see me 
now, absolutely enjoying the very situation I had gone 
to so much trouble and inconvenience to avoid. My 
"I husband, I knew, would call it caprice ; but I called it 
circumstances over which I had no control. What 
could I do ? If I took Zanita back to Oakland they 
would again carry on their clandestine proceedings ; 
here in the Valley, at least, I could exercise some su- 
pervision, and beside, as there was no other society but 
our own there was no fear of shocking proprieties. I 
had just to allow affairs to take their course, to permit 
^eam to flow on, since I was powerless to stem it. 
Yet how little I dreamed that my last move had 
opened a fresh dam which would ere long overflow 
and carry forcibly all along with its flood. 

At first I imagined that Egremont could not stay 
long in the Valley, as there was only Mr. Naun ton's 
house for accommodation ; and unless he approved of 
his postulate son-in-law, Egremont would be forced to 



AU RE VOIR. 205 

retire. But in tlie course of conversation it came out 
that Horseshoe-Bill had seen Kenmuir, who had 
agreed to receive the young artist into his tiny abode. 
So here again I was foiled, whilst Zanita had mas- 
tered the situation. " So be it," I said again to my- 
self, for I saw no way out of the dilemma. 

But time soon interfered with my philosophy. Rosie 
had grown quite tall, and looked quite a woman, and 
a very charming one. She had not lost her childlike, 
tru^ful expression, but it was mellowed by the dream- 
like dawn of womanhood. Sweetness, resignation, and 
tenderness were all adolescent on her white brow, over 
which her little golden curls clustered coquettishly as 
if well knowing how pretty and privileged they were. 

Her father had attended seriously to her education, 
and I was gfatified to find her very little behind her 
sister in general information and cultivation. She 
quite excelled her in music and painting, and showed 
marked ability. She took a heartfelt interest in Mr. 
Egremont from the first ; partly because he was really 
the first handsome stranger she had ever seen, — poor 
little bird ! — in this secluded Valley ; and eventually 
because he was an artist ; her admiration was excited 
by his fine pictures. 

" Ah, aunty ! '* she exclaimed, a few days after our 
arrival, her bright young face all aglow, " how nice 
it would be if I could go with Mr. Egremont and copy 
the same scene. I should observe how he composed 
his subject, and have all the benefit of his good taste." 

My original idea of her taking lessons from the 
artist returned to me. 

" If Mr. Egremont is agreeable," I replied, " I can 
see no objection ; perhaps Zanita would like to amuse 
herself that way, and I feel inclined myself to do a 



206 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

little sketching ; we could all go out in a party, each 
of us drawing our own conception, you only being 
under the tutelage of Mr. Egremont." 

On being consulted the artist expressed himself 
quite charmed with the idea of helping Rosalind, al- 
ways provided it was not to be considered profession- 
ally. 

A fair day saw us all busy with frames and can- 
vas, — Horseshoe-Bill displaying a talent for carpen- 
tering we had not expected. 

" Wall 1 I guess I could make a right-smart pile 
of money if stuck at the trade ; but I feel somehow 
like enjoying life backward and forward around these 
here diggins ; it's mighty salubresome, I tell you." 

'* Why, Bill, I should not have supposed that you 
had to study your health," said I, laughing, as I sur- 
veyed his herculean limbs. 

" I guess I am not to call sickly-like," grunted Bill, 
as he heaved a blow in chopping up a log that would 
have felled an ox, " ' but there 's nothin' like preserv- 
ing the Lord's blessings,' — as Kenmuir says. Bein' tied 
to one mill, ain't exactly to my fancy. I like to go 
where the Lord sends me," winking at Kenmuir. 

" It 's a long day since the Lord sent you on a mes- 
sage," quoth Kenmuir ; " but if you'll come and help 
me to heave in a log at the saw-mill, I believe He will 
lead you to do that." 

" AH right ! I'm your man," said Bill. 

The sketching party came off quite a success. We 
turned out in full force, and selected "El Capitan" as 
a subject, viewed from a pile of dSbris on the opposite 
side under the Cathedral Rocks, as we called them. 

Egremont sketched with tlie bold dash of an expe- 
rienced artist, and the few first outlines gave promise 



AU RE VOIR, 207 

of a powerful picture. Rosalind closely imitated, in- 
sensibly throwing in a sweet pathos of her own, for 
pictures, like music, imbibe the nature of the composer. 
I selected my own position, and drew as I had been 
taught at school. Zanita's foreground was filled in 
with a very ferocious grizzly bear, and the height of 
Tu-tock-a-nu-lah decorated with an eagle, which, ac- 
cording to the perspective, vied with " El Capitan *' 
himself in dimensions. The face of the " Wandering 
Jew/' which stands out upon that mighty rock, she was 
very particular to make distinct. 

But soon finding herself eclipsed by the superior 
skill of the whole party, she threw down her im- 
promptu easel and commenced painting a little smooth- 
haired white terrier, the property of Horseshoe-Bill, 
with bright patches of cobalt blue, the tip of his tail 
scariet, which caused its master to exclaim when he 
saw the performance, — 

" Wall ! you're a rum 'un, I tell you I " 

Kenmuir belonged to the pre-Raphaelite school, and 
drew and painted every flower and blade of grass and 
every feathery sedge just as it was in nature. 

" A fig for your foreground I " he cried to Egre- 
mont and Rosie. "Those beautiful decayed silvery 
logs you have there, are a mile and a half away, and 
you can't see them from your stand-point." 

" But we have made a composition of them," said 
Egremont. 

" Then do you think you can compose nature better 
than the Almighty ? Man is the most arrogant biped 
that ever walked the earth." 

" Why, Kenmuir ! " exclaimed Rosie, " how bare 
your foreground looks." 

" Bare ! " echoed Kenmuir. " Bare with all those 
flowers in it ? " 



208 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

" They look like ten cents' worth of mixed glass 
beads, such as I used to buy in Oakland," cried Zanita, 
mischievously. " Look at my hog," she said, as she 
resumed her sketch. " There is only one pig in the 
i Valley, and he ought to have his portrait taken just as 
he is engaged in grunting his opinion of the geological 
structure of El Capitan. Aunty, can you confer 
upon him the honorary degree of Valley worshipper ? 
I'm sure he folly appreciates the beauties of nature 
from the expression of his sapient countenance." 

But Zanita soon renounced the sketching expe- 
ditions ; they were not sufficiently exciting for her 
busy brain, or her muscular activity. She renewed 
her horseback exercise, and easily induced Mr. Egre- 
mont to join her. Sometimes Rosie and myself or her 
father accompanied them ; but Rosie was not fond of 
the actual exercise of horsemanship ; but rather for the 
opportunity it afforded of compassing easily different 
coup d' ceils of the landscape — this to me, also, was 
one of the greatest charms of riding in the Valley. 

Every four yards on horseback brought new varie- 
ties of light and shade, and novelties of form, which 
we had not anticipated ; hundreds of new sites for 
sketching subjects were ever presenting themselves: 
there was a luxe de choix perfectly bewildering. 

'* It is difficult to know where to begin," said Egre- 
mont, " and quite impossible to know where to leave 
off." 

Every rock had a score of splendid forms, as seen 
from as many points of view ; every mountain had 
fifty different shades and colors, as seen at different 
times of the day, or in peculiar phases of atmosphere, 
— all beautiful, all alike enchanting. 

But this was not Zanita's pleasure. If there was a 



AU RKVOIR, 209 

swampy piece to be found in the river, into that swamp 
she was sure to flounder, up to her horse's girth ; 
and then she would whip and spur to get him out. 

" O," she would exclaim, as she rode up to us be- 
spattered with mud, " I had a terrible time to get 
Jeroboam out of that mud-hole." 

" But Zani," replied Rosie, laughing, " why did you 
put him in ? You know that is swampy land." 

" O, I thought I could have got through on the 
edge," persisted Zanita. 

She would ride full gallop under the low outspread- 
ing boughs of the oak-trees, her long silky hair flying /* 
loose, and catching round the leaves ; Zanita with a 
jerk of her head carrying away the spray, or leaving 
a lock of hair suspended on the branch. 

" You will share the fate of Absalom, some day, 
Zanita," I remonstrated. "Why must you needs ride ^ 
through a place when there is not actually space, when 
you have the whole Valley to choose from ? " 

At other times she would throw me into a cold per- 
spiration, by forcing Jeroboam over some brink of rock 
where there seemed not footing for a chipmunk — 
the sage beast carefully selecting his footing, while she 
would be shaking the reins, and calling, — 

" Ho 1 Jerry, look lively ; what are you stopping 
for?" 

It came to be a jest beffire we started, to select a 
ride where Zanita could not get into mischief. To 
which she would retort, — 

" Do let us find a place so secure that aunty can't 
get into a fright. Papa, let me have Mu-wah to lead 
my horse." 

This was sure to provoke a laugh from Oswald 
Nan n ton. 

14 



210 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

Gradually the excursions became divided. I found 
more and more occupations in the house which re- 
quired a woman's handiwork, — chairs wanting new 
chintz, windows needing new hangings, new sheets 
wanting hemming, and carpets renovating, table-cloths 
darning, and a thousand and one trifles which denoted 
a too young housewife. 

In all these labors Rosie was only too anxious to 
assist me; patiently waiting to go sketching as the 
treat for her leisure. In the mean time Zanita, who 
could never be induced to sew ten minutes at a time, 
was away among the mountains, shooting with Mu- 
wah, or her father, — more frequently riding with Mr. 
Egremont. 

Thus our family circle seemed to be flowing on 
as smoothly as the soft-flowing Mercede, meandering 
through the Valley, — so resembled it, alas ! in other 
respects, when it dashes its foamy billows over the de- 
fiant rocks, hurling every weaker thing in its course to 
destruction and ruin. But now all was peace and 
summer sunshine ; and, like the humming-bird trumpet 
flowers hanging over the cascade, we were all happy 
on the verge of a precipice. 

True it was that I pondered inwardly upon the 
actual state of affiiirs between Zanita and Egremont. 
Whether they had come to any definite understanding 
as to their future, or whether they had agreed to sip the 
rosy minutes as they flew, and to let the future tell its 
own tale, I could not decide. To surprise a secret 
from either of them was hopeless, and their conduct 
ofiered no elucidation. Mr. Egremont acted with im- 
partial gallantry to both the girls ; he sketched with 
one and rode with the other, and was in every circum- 
stance the pink of gentlemanly good-breeding. 



AU RE VOIR. 211 

Whatever tenderness he might feel toward Zanita, 
he was the last one to display it for the criticism and 
amusement of others. She alone would know the 
depth of his love, while outsiders, however observant, 
could only guess at it. Yet I had noticed that his 
gaze lingered over the peach-like face of Rosie — as 
she would lift her great blue eyes to his with an ex- 
l>ression of baby-wonder, — with something more than 
artistic admiration of her beauty. 

"But a man can't love two women at the same 
time," I said to myself, " and Cozy is but a baby, after 
all." I had faithfully nari'ated every circumstance re- 
lating to Mr. Egremont to Mr. Naunton, upon our ar- 
rival ; but he had in his usual philosophic way laughed 
me to scorn, as I may say, — regarding it all a very 
good joke on the part of his favorite Zanita, unable to 
realize the smallest anxiety concerning her, and ex- 
pressing absolute indifference toward Egremont. 

" My good madam, you are too philanthropic by lialf. 
Zanita is all right ; surely you cannot suppose her to 
be an object of compassion. She is as brilliant as a blue- 
bird, and as frisky as a young kid. As to the artist, 
you acknowledge that you know so little about him, 
and are not even certain that he has a heart to lose ; 
and if he has, he 's big enough to look after himself. 
Don't trouble about them, Mrs. Brown; you are too 
good." 

And Oswald Naunton went off, singing, — 

" Weep when you must, but now be gay ; 
Life is too short to be sighing on." 

Kenmuir took a different view of the case ; but 
persisted in treating it as a good joke. 

" He 's in for it, as sure as death," he said, using his 
Scotch asseveration, as he usually did when excited. 



212 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

*' I would not stand in his shoes for a hundred thou- 
sand dollars. Not 1 1 " he continued ; " for if he mar- 
ries her, and you say he has offered himself, he will 
assuredly wish he had not before twenty-four hours 
are over; and the first journey he'll wish to take will 
be to Chicago. If he refuses to marry her, and thinks 
he'd like some one else, — my certis ! but I wouldn't 
be in his shoes, that 's all ! " cried Kenmuir, enjoying 
the dilemma. 

" I am not so sure about that," I retorted, a little 
piqued ; '* she is really not a disagreeable girl to live 
w^ith. The Professor and myself never have any an- 
noyance with her socially, and we are deeply attached 
to her." 

" That may be ; but you are not her husband. 
Why ! " exclaimed Kenmuir, throwing himself back 
with his two hands grasping his waistband, — " why 
I'd as 'lief be exposed to a female Puck, a Medusa, a 
banshee, an Ariel, a witch of Endor, all tied up in a 
bundle, as to be wedded to Zanita." 

I laughed outright, as Kenmuir shook himself like 
Rollo, as if to get rid from any particle of chance of 
such an event happening to him. 

" Very well, Kenmuir," I said ; " nobody asks you 
to take up this bothersome bundle of confused natures. 
I am sure Mr. Egremont does not care to have you 
for a rival." 

" I hope not," answered Kenmuir, suddenly becom- 
ing serious, and looking me in the face with an ex- 
pression that made my color rise with an undefined 
consciousness of coming evil. 

" Mrs. Brown," he said, earnestly, " I would move 
earth and heaven, and the powers of evil, if such there 
be, to secure the woman I loved from that beautiful 
specimen of humanity you liave brought down here." 



AU RE VOIR, 213 

" I never brought liim ; but now that he is here, 
living with you, try to find out the good in him." 

" The pure blossom opens to the sun," he replied, 
" and reveals its beauties to the day ; it is only the bud 
that has a canker at its core that remains closed and 
secretes its imperfection." 

These conversations had occurred the first few days 
after our arrival at the Valley ; and weeks passed on 
over our lives, floating on as tranquilly, as peacefully 
as the web of yarn from cotton-wood trees, lying 
placidly on the breezeless air. 

Sometimes, Sundays especially, Kenmuir would go 
botanizing, and occasionally Rosie would accompany 
him, returning laden with choice specimens and ferns 
culled from the high peaks around. These she would 
tastefully arrange into bouquets with her mother's 
skill, though not as yet wuth her mother's science. 

Returning from one of these excursions we all met 
together in the meadows at sunset : Mr. Egremont 
with his paint-box on his shoulder, Kenmuir and Rosie 
laden with tall fern branches, and. Zanita careering 
with Mu-wah, fetching the cattle home, for she still 
delighted in her childish freaks. She would spring on 
her horse, with a piece of scarlet braid for a bridle, 
without hat or habit, and flv around with the Indian 
to drive the cattle to the milking corral. 

" What a subject for an artist ! " I exclaimed, as she 
approached us, her hair streaming on the wind, and 
her rich vermilion color dazzling over the white of her 
transparent skin, her dark eyes shooting back the 
golden rays of the sun. " She is magnificent I " 

" As an Amazon, if she were large enough," replied >^ 
Egremont with a slight sneer. *' As a woman, or lady, ' 
she does not convey the type. But I know where I 



214 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

could find the model for a Ceres, or a Hebe, or a pure 
woman, if I wanted one," he continued, his almond 
eyes melting with a glance toward Rosie. 

Kenmuir spun round on one heel, and whistled a 
stave of " Captain Jinks," commencing in the middle. 
Zanita rode up, jumped off, and threw the bridle to 
Egremont, whilst she walked on with Rosie, admiring 
the gigantic size of the ferns, making inquiries as to 
the exact spot where they ^ew. 

Why should a thunderbolt have fallen amidst that 
pleasant group — why should each and all have been 
stricken down ! I have seen a group of luxuriant oaks 
and pines embedded in sylvan grottoes of moss, and 
perfumed with violets, shriveled by a streak of light- 
ning, and turned to ashes. 

Why, why ? But the answer cometh not. 



CHAPTER XX. 

A NEW BUD. 

The autumn was creeping fast upon us in all its 
regal splendor : the oak-trees had here and there a 
bough of cream-tinted leaves, the maples were already 
every shade of yellow, and the wild cherry was gor- 
geous in crimson. The flowers had nearly all disap- 
peared, excepting that an occasional patch of white 
violets enameled the mossy soil ; but, en revanche^ the 
ferns which had grown two or three yards high, were 
waving in a complete sea of burnished gold, flooding 
the whole Valley on every side. Whether it was mere 
force of contrast or actual reality, the rocks seemed to 
have become more dazzlingly white, and glittered in 
the sun, while the " Sentinel " shone like a white marble 
tombstone. The sky was of the deepest blue, and the 
hushed surging of the wind gave a solemn tone to 
the whole landscape. I was sitting beneath the great 
oak that overshadowed the cottage, trying to whittle 
out the sides of a pincushion from the yellow pine 
bark, — the cushion itself to be formed of Sequoia^ 
which rivals emery for that purpose, — when my at- 
tention was attracted by the crunching of dried^ ferns. 
I looked up and saw Egremont approaching. He 

raised his hat as he caught my eye, but his face was 
grave and settled. 

" I hope you are well this morning, and feel com- 
passionate,'' he said, leaning his graceful person against 
the trunk of a tree adjacent to my seat. 



216 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" Quite well ; but why compassionate ? " I asked. 

" Because I want you to be pitiful to me this morn- 
ing. I have come to throw myself upon your mercy, 
and to ask your help to do what is right. I know I 
deserve all sorts of censure, but let me implore you not 
to be too angry with me. I am as much a victim to 
myself as to circumstances." 

He pulled a handful of the gilded ferns and threw 
them at my feet ; then sliding softly down and leaning 
upon his arm looked into my face with one of tliose 
sweet, imploring smiles which I believe no woman in 
the world could resist, unless it might be Nell. 

" I want you to talk to me,*' he said, " as though I 
were your only son, and that I had no other friend in 
the world but my mother." 

" What is it, Egremont ? " I said, entirely mollified, 
as I placed my hand on his fair forehead. 

"^ I have made a great mistake," he said, *' one that 
may appear wicked, but yet a mistake. I never loved 
your adopted daughter, Zanita, never can love her, 
and if I had to force myself to make the attempt, 
should hate her with all the vehemence of my nature." 

While he spoke his color came and went so rapidly 
that. I dreaded he might take a fit. He clutched at 
the ferns and tore them in morsels ; a fierce glare shot 
from under his long dark lashes which gave him the 
look of a maniac. 

" There is really no occasion for this excitement, 
Egremont," I said. " Neither Zanita or any of us 
wish tor any further intimacy between you." 

" She does ! " he said bitterly. " She cares no more 
t for me than I do for her ; and yet " — he cried, spring- 
ing suddenly to his feet and poising himself in a de- 
fiant attitude — " her ambition would induce her to 



A NEW BUD. 217 • 

many me for whom I am 1 " A light of scornfiil 
grandeur seemed to illumine his whole person, and I 
thought I had never seen so haughty and noble look- 
ing a man. 

This speech naturally roused all my latent curiosity, 
and the mystery of Zanita's adherence to him. 

" Have you then favored Zanita with more informa- 
tion than myself, in whom you profess to place con- 
fidence ? " I asked, coldly. 

" Shootee one big bird ! " said a voice close to us. 
We both started. Fortunately it was only Mu-wah, 
the Indian, with an immense grouse as large as a hen, 
which he had just shot. I had necessarily to admire 
it, and then sent him off with it to the kitchen. 

" But I have something more to tell you," con- 
tinued Egremont, when we were alone. 

** If I was so carried away by anger about Zanita, 
it is because I love Cozy. I worship her, and cannot fA 
live without her. In soul and person she is divine. 
The light of her blue eyes' radiance is all I need now 
and evermore. Do," he said, seizing both my hands 
and upsetting my pincushions, bag, and joinering tools, 
— "do give me one other chance in life ! Do let me 
have her I for it all depends on you, and your whole life 
and her's shall bless this one moment of trusting. Tell 
me that you will regard me as you did before that 
fiend-like beauty crossed my path ; let me start afresh 
with Cozy, as though all this delusion had never be- 
gun, and I will prove to you, in five minutes, that you 
have no reason, in a practical, worldly point of view, 
to refase me ; and you will not refuse to make us all 
happy, and everything shall be made clear, and all 
your speculations as regards me," he said, with a half 
smile, " set at rest forever." 



218 A TALE OF THE YOSEMITE. 

He held my hand nervously with one of his, while 
he thrust the other into his breast, where he grasped 
something which he seemed only waiting to produce. 

"I am not surprised," I said, "for I have noticed 
your feelings toward Cozy, but she is far too young ; 
and it fills me with dismay to observe this passion you 
have conceived for these two poor children. Do you 
not think ydu are more their evil genius than they 
yours ? " 

*' Not Cozy's," he said quickly. " It would be a 
delight to be torn by wild animals for Cozy's sake. 
She is the perfection of all that is lovely and exquisite, 
and I would rather be thrown from the top of Tu- 
tock-a-nu-lah than live without her. Tell me I may 
woo and win her ; the rest of her life she shall tread 
on rose-leaves." 

" I fear you have done that without leave," I said, 
gravely. 

" Have I ? Is she mine in heart ? " he exclaimed, 
as his face glowed with fervent passion. " Great God 
be thanked ! " 

Ere I could open my lips to reply, a slight movement 
in the deep ferns arrested my attention. It was not 
Mu-wah this time, for the sun shone on the dark 
gleaming tresses of Zanita as she moved softly away 
on her hands and knees, very much with the motion 
of a bear. I caught Egremont by the arm and pointed 
to where the sun's rays fell on the shiny hair. He 
looked, reeled back against the trunk of the tree, and 
became as pale as death. 

" She has heard every word," I said. 

" She must have b^en there the whole time, and will 
be revenged en one of us," said Egremont, gloomily. 

" You wrong her," I interposed. " She has never 



A NEW BUD. 219 

shown malice toward Rosie, and you can take care of 
yourself. But Zanita is not vindictive ; she forgets 
too soon." 

" Yes," he replied, " but her vengeance may be as 
rapid as her feelings." * 

I rose to leave him, feeling thoroughly discomfited 
by the morning's revelations. 

" Tell me," he said, eagerly, — " tell me, may I 
hope ? and, as regards myself, I will make everything 
satisfactory to you and Mr. Naunton." 

*' I cannot reply at once. I must have time for re- 
flection. I will speak with you again in two or three 
days, provided you promise me you will make no pos- 
itive advance to our dear little Rosie." 

"It shall be exactly as you wish," he said, and 
bowed with that indescribable grace that was native to 
him. 

I went to my room thoroughly bewildered and per- 
plexed with contending emotions. Was it possible 
that after all he should turn out a fine character, — a 
man of position and fortune, perhaps a nobleman, — 
marry Cozy, make her happy, and a duchess ? No 
man but an English nobleman had I ever seen wear 
such a look as he put on when he said, — " She would 
marry me for whom I am." Was it possible that Za- 
nita, with her keen perceptions and vigorous intellect, 
had really fathomed the mystery and made up her 
mind to be a duchess ? This seemed all absurd, yet 
the fact remained that here was a young man who had 
proposed to me for each of my adopted daughters, 
who pertinaciously persisted in concealing his position, 
family, and occupation ; even no.w he asked my per- 
mission to woo my darling Rosie on the simple intima- 
tion that I shall be satisfied with all concerning him 



220 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

when he deigns to elucidate the question. Then arose 
the difficulty about the feelings of the two girls. 
Rosie was clearly in love with him in her gentle, 
delicate, caressing way. No man with a particle of 
tenderness and manhood could fail to appreciate the 
sweet, soft, affectionate, womanly nature of Rosie, let 
alone her dazzling beauty, which almost threw the 
brilliancy of Zanita into the shade. The effiilgence of 
her blue eyes was truly, as he had said, irresistible, 
and the damask of her peach-Uke cheeks alluring to 
the touch ; her full, rosy, laughing mouth would be sure 
to give her a dozen desperate lovers in any city to 
which she might be taken, who would only serve to 
tease and torment the child, for she had no ingredient 
of coquetry in her composition. 

With Zanita, on the contrary, it was impossible to 
tell whether she was flirting or in earnest. So much 
was she a bom actress that even I could not discover 
which was the play and which was the reality, and 
thus it defied my utmost skill to say if she did or did 
not like Egremont. Even in her escapade of the morn- 
ing I vainly tried to determine whether she had been 
treating her imagination to the performance of a grizzly 
bear, or whether she had been maliciously and wick- 
edly eavesdropping. I felt great reluctance to charge 
her wrongfully. If I mentioned the circumstance to 
her father he would be sure to adopt the hypothesis 
which favored Zanita, for he never could see a fault 
in her, and owing to his own frank and guileless na- 
ture could not be brought to realize the cunning of 
hers. " Her mother was as pure and open as day," 
he would argue, "and I am sure deceit is not one 
of my faults. Where can she have got it from ? It 
cannot be a part of her nature." 



A NEW BUD. 221 

This he repeated for the hundredth time,* when, 
later on in the day I sought a private talk with him 
upon the welfare of the children and the present crisis 
of affairs. 

" That is a psychological and ethnological ques- 
tion upon which I cannot precisely enlighten you, 
but there exists no doubt in my mind that Zanita is the 
child of some very remote ancestor, we will hope," I 
said, laughing, '*and that her peculiar qualities are 
innate and not circumstantial. Everything that' af- 
fection, example, practical or scientific training can 
do has been done, but all in vain ; no effect has been 
produced upon her. She has no more conception of 
die beauty or righteousness of truth than she had 
when I first saw her as a baby. I never could make 
her love it, never teach her to admire it. She always 
liked fiction better than fact." 

*' That is so," replied Mr. Naunton. " She was al- 
ways fond of the semblance of anything, and more 
dehghted with the peeling of a fruit, put adroitly to- 
gether, than with its unsullied bloom ; and yet she is a 
great lover of nature, for see how she revels in the 
midst of it." 

" I do not think it is love that stimulates her in any- 
thing," I replied. " The awe-inspiring, terrific grand- 
eur of these mysterious rocks are congenial with her 
wild^ daring imagination. , She does not love their 
beauty, but glories in contending with their power. 
But to come to the practical question. What do you 
think ought to be done in the present emergency ? " 

"Well," said Mr. Naunton, stroking down his 
handsome beard thoughtfully, " I do not anticipate 
anything very serious will ensue. The cold weather 
will soon be upon us, and the first snow-storm will 



222 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

necessarily drive him out of the Valley. Zanita, I am 
sure, will not break her heart," said her father, smil- 
ing humorously — " that 's one blessing ! You see, 
madam, there is some consolation in that." 

" Certainly," I replied, musingly ; " but I never 
know what other worse thing she might not do, if se- 
riously crossed in her plans or desires." 

" O, she never has a plan, she is all impulse," said 
her father. . " I wish to goodness she had ! " 

" Yes, her master of elocution tells me that if she 
would only carry her conception throughout the play, 
or even the character, she would make one of the 
finest actresses the world has ever seen. He says she 
has all the voluptuous grace of a ' Siddons,' with the 
weird power of ' Rachel.' But only fancy what she 
did at the private rehearsal we had among our friends. 
She had literally enraptured us all as Lady Machethy 
with her magnificent rating of her Lord, and when 
she came to the sentence, " But screw your courage to 
the sticking point and we'll not fail," she threw out a 
magnetic power enough to have swayed a kingdom, at 
which there was a unanimous burst of applause. She 
twisted her face to that elfish grimace she has, and 
stooped to tie bootlace, or garter, I really do not know 
which. The audience looked aghast for a moment, 
and then roared with laughter. The Professor of Elo- 
cution was furious, and declared that he would never 
give her another lesson, and my husband fears it would 
be quite unsafe to produce her before a real audience, as 
no reliance could be placed upon her not doing any- 
thing grotesque if the occasion offered." 

Mr. Naunton cried out mirthfully, — "That is just 
like my Zanny. I fancy I see her do it. She never 
had the smallest sense of propriety, or of the fitness 
of things." 



A NEW BUD. 223 

" We have digressed again," I said. " What do 
you think we are to do about Egremont and his offer 
to Rosie ? " 

" I would not do anything. I would just adopt Tal- 
leyrand's advice when consulted on a great crisis. He 
said, ' Ne faites rien,^ I don't want Egremont to 
marry either of my daughters. I don't quite fancy 
him for a son-in-law ; he is not one of us ; he is to me 
something ' uncanny.' He may be an artist, but I 
don't think it; he is on a different plane from any- 
thing we know in this country, and there is something 
about him as though he expected you to doff your hat 
and say ' Your highness ' or ' Your grace.' " 

" Just so," I remarked, " and however familiar you 
may become with him, — and you know I had him first 
as an amanuensis, — yet one never overcomes that 
sort of easy hauteur which surrounds him. He re- 
minds me excessively of one of the royal dukes we 
chanced to meet travelling in Europe." 

"No, no," resumed Mr. Naunton, after a pause, 
" we must just let him go about his business the end 
of this fall. My little Cozy does not want to leave 
her old father yet, and the child is too young to have 
formed any serious attachment." 

Half a dozen yards from the window of the room 
where we sat, stood a gnarled and bowed tree, par- 
tially consumed by fire, which had left it jagged and 
picturesque, as only fire can chisel wood. It bore a 
fresco work of deep black charring, on the silver 
ground of the barkless trunk. One of its own mighty 
boughs, split from the junction, and fallen to the 
ground, had formed a perfect Gothic archway of some 
fifteen feet in height. A dead tree in most places is 
an unsightly object ; but in the happy Valley even 



224 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

death is lovely. The oak leaves, in their sapless 
brown, are as beautiful as in their juicy green. The 
silver trunks of the denuded trees are as handsome as 
the golden bark of the yellow pine and unscathed 
Sequoia; and thus the archway, though in mouldering 
decay, was still rich in mellow coloring. Over it the 
trumpet honeysuckle hung a few bright flowers and 
variegated leaves, — for here nothing decays, it only 
assumes a new form. Just at this moment appeared 
under the archway, as if set in a frame, a picture of 
animate nature, that transfixed my gaze with admira- 
tion and anxiety. It was the figures of Cozy and Egre- 
mont standing together as only lovers stand. They 
were toying over a flower; and she was making some 
pretense at explaining its botanical properties ; but 
it needed no diviner to find out that their thoughts 
were of each other, deeper and more intense than any 
subject of botany could inspire. Every now and then 
she would look right up into his face with those win- 
ning soft eyes, and the delicate blush which always 
hovered about her face when speaking emotionally. 
The sun's rays caught in the loose meshes of her hair 
and twined it into a halo of glory round her delicate 
head ; her lips, like parted rose leaves, smiled ever as 
she spoke ; the goddess of happiness sat enthroned upon 
her young face, which had never known a frown or 
a shadow since she had wept for her mother. How 
strangely has nature arranged these things. She 
seemed to possess, without an efibrt, all the lovable 
qualities her sister lacked ; she had all the sweet ret- 
icence of modesty, combined with that gentle womanly 
yielding which makes a man believe such women 
angels. Egremont gazed upon her with adoring, rev-' 
erential eyes ; and the hot color came and went in 



A NEW BUD. 225 

alternate flashes beneath the transparent skin of his 
temples. But he would not have cast one shade of 
fear over that trusting face for the wealth of Golconda. 
He did not even attempt to touch the little dimpled 
fingers as they played about the petals of the flower ; 
but he gazed on them longingly, and I half dreaded to 
see him snatch them, and press them to his lips. There 
was a subdued self-control about his whole demeanor, 
which contrasted forcibly with his abandon toward 
Zanita, and I could not help reflecting how much a 
man's disposition is formed by the woman he loves or 
who loves him. 

" Look at that picture," I said, indicating them to 
Mr. Naunton. " Is it not exquisite ? What a lovely 
couple they make ? " 

Very handsome," said he. " Only think of papa's 
'chunck' having a lover to herself; for there is no 
mistaking that such he is." 

" No, and I regret to see it. I very much fear they 
are both in earnest." 

" Aye, they are young, they are young," he said, 
rising, and he left the room to look out some fishing 
tackle. 

I hesitated whether or no to disturb them : I did not 
consider myself in duty bound to interfere with Rosie, 
as I should have done with Zanita, though I loved her 
fully as well ; and her father seemed to think that 
matters ought to be allowed to take their course. 
Moreover, the picture possessed a charm for me that 
I hated to disturb. My eyes clung to it as though 
it were a last farewell look of some beloved object, 
and it was thus engraven indelibly On my mind, never 
to be effaced from that moment. It was not alone 
the exquisite grace and tenderness of the picture ; 

15 



226 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

but my heart seemed suddenly to yearn and weep 
over it In that moment I felt I could forgive Egre- 
mont all his faults, — as one forgives the cold, mute 
face of the dead who have wrought us ill, although 
the stony lips ask it not, and were so defiant i^ life. 
As my eyes became humid with the big tears that 
filled them, the fair picture moved, and approached the 
little side window near which I was sitting. Egremont 
was speaking of his departure. 

" When shall you have the first snow-storm ? " he 
asked ; *' I shall have to leave you then or be a prisoner 
for the winter," 

" O, that would be delightful," echoed Rosie in a 
joyous mellow tone. " The winter here is even more 
charming than the summer. You see all these rocks 
and mountains decked out with their choicest jew- 
eliy ; every single ledge, crag, and projection has its 
share of gems, amethysts, pearls and rubies, and strings 
of opals suspended from cliff to cliff; then all the 
cedars and pines put on their fiirry white coats, and 
look so comfortable and happy, as though they dreaded 
no fiiture storm thus clad ; and all is so still and calm, 
that I have only to tread upon the crunching snow to 
make the most delicious harmonies. I often hear new 
tunes, that I can sing and play upon the guitar ; and I 
will show you a thousand new pictures to paint." 

Egremont beamed a glowing smile upon her. 

" They would not let me stay all winter," he said 
sadly ; " but you, Rosie, might come out with us. You 
have never left the Valley, never seen the great world 
and all the beautiful things which are in it. Would 
you uot like to live in a splendid mansion, with fres- 
coed walls, and marble pavement, and statues and 
vases all round, and glorious views from the windows 



A NEW BUD. 227 

of miles of green lawn, with the deer tamely grouping 
under the shadow of the wide-spread oaks ; where the 
lakes are filled with gold and silver fish, so trusting that 
they will come and take the crumbs dropped firom your 
hand ; where there are gardens under glass, with every 
brightest plant, and flowers all through the winter ; 
where a miniature 'world of brilliant-plumed birds will 
come at your call, and perch upon your finger ; where 
the rich-toned voices of Italy come to warble to you, 
and the fine instrumentalists of Germany concert their 
grandest harmonies for your delight. Cozy, darling 
Cozy, will yDU not come to such a home and dwell 
there with me ? " exclaimed he, with a gush of manly 
tenderness that made me tremble for our rose-bud. 

A soft glow spread over her face for a moment, and 
then she looked up to him, her eyes like two blue 
violets melting in dew, — "Ah ! do you live in such a 
lovely place ? I should like to go, but," added she, " I 
should like to go anywhere with you, or stay here 
with you either." 

" Always, Cozy ? " he whispered, leaning over her 
with bated breath, — " forever, beauty ? " 

" Him catchee him horsee," cried Mu-wah, appear- 
ing on the scene. 

" Well, put my saddle on," said Rosie, recovering 
herself, " and saddle the other for Mr. Egi'emont." 

"Saddle him one other Miss Zany?" asked Mu-wah. 

" No," said Egremont, decisively. " Excuse me," 
he said, turning to Rosie, " my interference ; but I al- 
ways feel so uncomfortable riding with Zanita. She 
is forever trying to break her own or some one's else 
neck. Tell me," he whispered, " what I asked you : 
will you go to the home I essayed to paint ? " 

" Should I have to leave father and aunty, and all of 
them ? " sighed Rosie, a little dismayed ? 



228 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" Dear child," he said, " do you remember your 
mother ? " 

*^No, but I know all about her, and feel just as 
though I did." 

" You know, then, that she left all behind to come 
into this wilderness with your father, when even her 
life was in danger from the Indians. Do you not be- 
lieve that what your mother did was right ? " 

^^ O, indeed I do*; papa always says that mamma 
was perfection." 

** And you resemble her in every point," cried 
Egremont, tenderly ; " so say you will come even be- 
fore the first snow-storm." 

" Is it very far ? " asked Rosie, gradually yielding 
to her own heart and his importunity. " I am afraid 
papa would be so lonesome." 

" He could rejoin us, and he would be so amused to 
see you in a long train-dress, and real jewels, instead 
of the frost ones you were describing ; and we could 
give him plenty of fishing, and all the new books that 
are published." 

I could not see Rosie's face ; but I could imagine 
that some little glance of consent was given, for they 
moved away, and soon I heard their horses' feet. 



CHAPTER XXL 

PEERING OVER THE EDGE. 

Here, then, was a direct breach of his promise to me, 
— to allow affairs to remain in statu quo^ until he heard 
from me. Yet he had acted with the same deliberate 
disregard of his word as in Oakland toward Zanita, 
and was urging Rosie to an immediate union, reckless 
of the effect upon her sister. To carry out the im- 
pulse of the moment seemed the sole aim and power 
of his character ; there was no consistency in the basis. 
If he were sincere in the expression of his feelings 
when conversing with me, he showed himself the very 
opposite in his professions when he met with another. 

I felt rather puzzled to guess the reason of their rid- 
ing out together, fot they had never done so before, 
Zanita having invariably been his riding companion, — 
Cozy going with him on the sketching expeditions, 
copying the same view, and, with his help, making al- 
most as good a picture, for she had painted ever since 
she could hold a brush, and possessed admirable talent, 
inherited from her mother. 

Nervous and excited with this momentous day, I be- 
took myself to my good friend Kenmuir, at the saw- 
mill. " When your saw has cut through that log I 
want to have a chat with you," I said, and presently 
we were seated on the little platform, with the great 
amphitheatre of rocks around us in deep shade of co- 
balt blue. The nearer pine-trees were reflected with 



280 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

intense clearness of vivid green against the distant 
domes and pinnacles of the Valley. The air was 
fresh, though laden with odorous compound of bay and 
mint. There was always a solemn, sad sighing of the 
wind surging through the pines in this portion of the 
Valley, arising from the great current brought down 
through the trough of the Yo-semite Fall. To-day it 
seemed melancholy and almost wailing. " It sounds 
to me," I said, " like the wailing of Indian spirits 
over some funereal pyre." 

" O, pshaw ! " cried Kenmuir, " it is glorious ! I love 
it ! It fills me with rapture 1 It is the most perfect 
minor harmony that human ear ever heard I I fear 
you are not well if you feel so melancholy." 

" I am mentally sick, that I admit, and so nervous I 
feel every moment as though some great calamity was 
about to befall us ; as though the Sentinel might tum- 
ble over and crush us all." 

" Let me see ! Two thousand feet high, and calcu- 
lating impetus of dSbriSy would just reach us," laughed 
Kenmuir. 

" Or a sudden waterspout," I continued, " burst 
over Yo-semite, as it did last year, when the water 
rose four feet in twenty minutes, and drown us ! " 

" Yes, but it did not drown w«, for all that, last year, 
and might not this ; and you would so enjoy it, for it 
was the most glorious thing I have ever witnessed. 
We heard a tremendous crash or explosion, as though 
a whole park of artillery had been fired, and the echo 
took it up, and repeated it from Tu-tock-a-nu-lah to 
Tis-sa-ack, for at least twenty seconds, and running 
out we saw the water leaping from rock to rock in a 
ftirious torrent, carrying down great pines (a hun- 
dred feet long) and boulders in its course, that were 



PEERING OVER THE EDGE. 231 

hurled over the top of the lower fall with such vio- 
lence that they struck the giant trees growing at the 
foot and shivered them as if by a thunderbolt. The 
roar and booming was the grandest you ever heard, 
and the water rose in yon pool four feet in less than 
twenty minutes ; but it did not destroy us, and your 
fears are quite imaginary. God has all these things in 
his fingers, and can take care of everj'-thing He has 
made." 

I recapitulated to him the events of the day. He 
looked grave — a rare thing for him, — and seemed to 
come down to humanity with considerable pain. 

" Man," he said, "is. the only mistake, it seems to 
me, in the works of the Creator, and there does ap- 
pear to be something radically wrong about him. It 
is strange to me if Zanita does not feel jealous and 
play them some trick. My poor Rosie I Rosie I " he 
said ; " we shall have to be vigilant to shield her from 
any harm ! " 

" So she loves him," he said, with a sigh, after a 
long pause. 

I could not help quickly regarding his face ; there 
was a gentle regret upon it, as though some half-hope 
had faded out. 

" At the risk of seeming inhospitable," he said, " the 
sooner you take Zanita out of the Valley the better. 
Perhaps Egremont will remain as long as the snow 
will permit him, or he may go out with you, — any 
way would answer, — but something must be done at 
once, or Zanita will torment them as sure as death. 
Their sketching excursions have not escaped her 
supervision, I know ; she has often overhung a cliff 
where nothing but a squirrel would venture, to look 
at them under their umbrella ; but, as you are aware, 



232 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

Effremont is not the man to take any freedom with a 
delicately refined girl like Rosie ; he appreciates her too 
highly, and, I venture to say, her sister never saw a 
look or a movement to feed her jealousy ; but she has 
watched them." 

** How singular," I said, " for her to be jealous of a 
man she has refused and will not accept, — for I pre- 
sume he was still following her when he came down 
here, — and if she had encouraged him, would never 
have thought of Rosie." 

" It is not strange to me," he said. " Zanita never 
could love, — or even keep up the pretense of it, for 
long together ; but she is gratified by attention, and 
strives to enthrall every one in her train. She chooses 
to rule and command. Don't you remember how 
proud and delighted she was, when a little girl, to lead 
that party of ' prospecting miners ' up the Indian 
Cafion to Eagle's Point, and how angry she was with 
the one who stayed back to caiTy Cozy, and how she 
nearly killed him by rolling a piece of rock down upon 
him ? I guess she feels much the same now, and, I 
rather think," he continued, " she has some high-fash- 
ioned notions about our friend being a great man' in 
his own country, in which case she would make him 
marry her. She asked me the other day which was 
the greatest — an actress or a princess. I told her that, 
generally, the princesses were regarded as the highest, 
but that some actresses had been greater than any 
princess. 

" ' How long would it take me to become such a 
one ? ' 

" ' Eight or ten years.' " 

" ' O, bother I ' she cried, and left me. I don't 
know what reason she has for not believing him to be 
an artist." 



PEERING OVER THE EDGE. 233 

" He is very fond of it and very skillful, though it 
is strange that he did not mention his profession at 
first ; but everything about him is strange, and every- 
thing about her goes by the rules of contrary," I 
said. 

" The more reason," he answered, " that we should 
keep asunder these two remarkable freaks of human 
nature. Now you never see that amongst plants or 
trees ; they grow in harmony together, and love each 
other's fellowship, and generally, if transplanted to a 
strange neighborhood, suffer long and bitterly, even if 
they do not pine and die. Moss is a most affectionate 
thing ; it likes to cling and spread itself over the loved 
object. The giant. Sequoia^ grow in family groups 
and frequent twins. Do you think if you cut one of 
those twins down the other would not pine and grieve ? 
I know it would. But, here in human nature, two 
slim, beautiful young saplings, like Zanita and Egre- 
mont, fight and wrangle, and mar each other's sym- 
metrical proportions, regardless of their mutual weal or 
woe. I can't understand it," said Kenmiiir, " there 's 
something radically wrong about human nature. I 
wish they were both safely out of this Valley." 

" You are alarmed lest the Valley should be in any 
way injured by their contention," I observed, laughing. 

" I should be sorry for them to injure the reputation 
of the Valley, — the noblest of the Lord's handiwork. 
For instance, I would not like any one to be killed 
here on these splendid rocks. I would not like them 
to spatter the blood, and dirt, and brains over this 
sublime coloring." 

" O, do cease ! " I exclaimed. " You have turned 
me so sick I How could you suggest such a horrid 
picture ? My heart is quivering within me ! " 



2S4 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

• 

" I am very sorry," he cried. "It was a mere fancy 
that rose before me as though I saw it. Pray forgive 
me ! I ought to have remembered how nervous you 
are to-day." 

*' O, it 's nothing I " I said, " mere weakness, — 
but I seemed to see -the picture vividly, too." 

*' Let us talk of something more genial, — Rosie, for 
instance. Do you not think that her pictures are 
going to turn out real gems ? " 

".I do, indeed I I am going to take some of them to 
San Francisco, submit them to an artist, and dispose 
of them. It would be curious if the two sisters should 
distinguish themselves, — one as an artist, and the 
other as an actress." 

At supper that evening Mr. Egremont did not join 
us, in fact he never did unless specially invited, for 
although Mr. Naunton in his hospitable way had asked 
him to make the cottage his home and the hut his 
lodging, he never paid a visit longer than a call unless 
so requested. 

*' Did you not ask Mr. Egremont to come to supper, 
Rosie ? " I said, addressing her. 

She blushed a sweet pink and answered, '* I did not 
think of it, but I expected he would come." 

After supper Zanita sat in the comer of the divan 
with her febt curled under her reading a book, the 
slight, habitual frown was rather more marked than 
usual, and the lips were tightly compressed. It seemed 
pitiful that a face so young and so beautiful should not 
enjoy more of the sweet joyousness of youth ; yet hers 
was a temperament constituted for suffering, — a dis- 
position that was always chafed and restless ; her face 
in repose had ever a troublous expression, and all the 
enjoyment she knew was comprised in feverish excite- 



PEERING OVER THE EDGE. 235 

ment and in the accomplishment of some fierce design 
she had conceived, usually bringing upon herself the 
antagonism of all around her. She naturally made ene- 
mies instead of friends, and her own heart was inimical 
to her surroundings, whether of man or beast. Poor, 
burning, sapless heart, the milk of human kindness Jjad 
never flowed through it to soften its feverish intensity ; 
it had never known the delights of affection or the rap- 
turous emotions of love, the tenderness of pity or the 
warmth of sympathy. Ambition, strife, and dominion 
had possessed it from its very cradle. 

Zanita's pets had been her victims or slaves; her 
playmates, her tools or servants; her relatives, the 
resources on whom she drew for her necessities, and 
when they ceased to fulfill that useful position they 
were as nothing to her. 

As these thoughts forced themselves upon me, my 
heart yearned with compassion for the poor child, for 
it was not her fault, but her misfortune, that nature 
had dealt so hardly by her. 

She was feeling more bitter and harassed to-night 
than usual ; she was aggravated by the loss of Egre- 
mont's attentions, even in the small matter of taking a 
ride with Rosie ; for the rides were part of her domin- 
ion, and although she had perversely chosen to make 
them distasteful to him, she hated to have her rights 
abrogated, — she wished to command him with the 
power to pain unquestioned. She was now in the 
throes of some new expedient to recapture his alle- 
giance ; and so self-reliant and confident in her own 
power was she, and so unskilled in the boundless te- 
nacity of a real passion, that she had no other thought 
than of reconquering the truant, rejected lover, and of 
bringing him again to her feet. 



V 



236 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

It flashed across me also that memorable night, as I 
studied her strange face, which had been a new volume 
for seven years to me, that for one reason or other she 
would now marry him; perhaps he had dazzled her 
imagination with some ambitious picture of the future 
sujh as he had drawn for Rosie, adapting the coloring 
to suit the taste of his auditor, yet this hypothesis in no 
way sustained his indiflFerence to the refusal of his offer 
and his present desertion. 

Yet if she had resolved to marry him, as my convic- 
tions seemed to foreshadow, then would really come 
the tug of« war. Would she control Egremont by her 
strong magnetic power, or would he, strengthened by 
a pure and holy love, adhere manfully and faithfully to 
the Rose-bud? 

If he acted thus honorably, I thought I could respect 
him 'once more ; but if, on the contrary, he should waver 
and yield to the fascination of Zanita and break our 
little angel's heart, I felt that I should lose all hope of 
the pair and renounce any further interest in the future 
Mrs. Egremont. But my present wish and hope was 
that he would take himself out of the " Life Drama ; " 
altogether withdraw his thread from the woof of these 
two lives, and leave us to weave it out at our leisure 
for the greater good: " Mais I'homme propose, et Dieu 
dispose." All works together for a good end, our min- 
ister used to say when he found that any ends he had 
proposed for Zanita were utterly futile. 

Rosie brought out her guitar, and throwing the blue 
ribbon over her graceful little shoulders, sang in her 
rich mellifluous soprano voice, " Ah scordali di me ; " 
so clear and round was every note, so sweet and thrill- 
ing, that no doubt it would penetrate in delicious 
cadences to the little hut bathed in moonlight, where 



PEERING OVER THE EDGE, 237 

her lover watched and sighed for her; doubtless she 
thought so too, for a tender pathos was breathed in the 
refrain of " scordali di me," which came fresh from the 
young heart overbrimming with its first love. 

Once she stepped quietly to the open door and peeped 
out wistfully. O, that yearning look for the beloved 
form for which we hunger ! How many starve to 
death when the last look has been taken ! Poor little 
Cozy, she looked into the moonlight in vain, 

"Are you reading a tragedy, Zanita," asked her 
father, " that you look so stem? " 

" ' Parisina,' father ; but Cozy's banjo is spoiling the 
effijct." 

Zanita was no musician, and cared nothing for music. 

"Cozy is more given to romance than tragedy," 
mused the father. 

Kenmuir stepped in with the good news that he had 
seen an Indian who had met the Professor on his way 
into the Valley, and he might be expected in a day or 
two. Kenmuir made Rosie sing more love- songs, and 
at last the evening broke up, all feeling happy ; the 
former whispered to me as he bade me good-night, 
*' * All 's well that ends well,' you see." 



CHAPTER XXn. 

THE CREEPING SHADOW. 

Everything went on as usual next day until about 
noon, when I called to Zanita to come and read to me. 

" Shall I do, aunty ? " cried Rosie, starting up 
cheerfully. 

" No, my dear ; I want Zanita to rehearse with me. 
See if you can find her." 

Cozy set off, but returned in ten minutes, saying she 
could not find her. 

I went on with my work, thinking she would come 
in presently. At the end of two hours I again in- 
quired, — " Where do you think Zanita can be gone, 
Cozy ? " 

"I don't know, I am sure, aunty. I have searched 
all her haunts, and she is not with papa, fishing. She 
may be gone for a ramble, — camping^ perhaps," ^^ 
said Rosie, laughing, " as she always would^ do when 
we were children." 

*' She is the strangest girl for doing odd things that 
ever was," I exclaimed, going on with my work. 

At our dinner hour I sent Rosie to look for Ken- 
muir. Probably Zanita had gone ofi^ on some expedi- 
tion with him. 

" No, he had not seen her. Stay I " he said : " did 
she wear a white dress? " 

" No, a pink one. Perhaps you don't know the 
difierence," said Rosie, laughing. 



THE CREEPING SHADOW, 239 

" Perhaps I do, Miss Pert ! I thought I saw a piece 
of the same dress Zanita wore last night up among 
the ceanothus bushes, like a white fleecy cloud. I like 
that dress," said Kenmuir, " it is so much more grace- 
ful than these new-fangled fashions. I thought it was 
Zanita up there, though I did not see her face, and 
then I saw Egremont climbing up shortly after." 

" Has he returned to dinner ? " I asked. 

" No," said Kenmuir. " Now Rosie, to satisfy 
yourself that I do know red from white, go and see if 
you can find the dress Zanita wore last night." 

Rosie trotted off and returned laughing. " Her 
white dress is nowhere to be found, and her pink one 
lies on the floor just as though she had jumped out 
of it." 

Kenmuir seized Rosie by the hand and imprinted a 
kiss upon the golden little curls on her forehead, say- 
ing, — " If you dare to question my knowledge of col- 
ors again I will cut ofl* one of these." 

" Then she has gone with Egremont," I resumed. 
*' What on earth could possess her to put on a mull 
muslin dress to climb rocks and manzanita bushes ? 
She wdll come home with it in ribbons, as of old." I 
spoke angrily, for I could not conceal my vexation that 
she had already commenced her strategic movement. 
I exchanged glances with Kenmuir, and we walked 
apart from Rosie. 

" It is as I told you," he said ; " she has made up 
her mind to have him or she w^ould never discipline 
herself to sitting upon one rock all day watching him 
sketch." 

" You are right," I replied, " and directly the Pro- 
fessor arrives we will leave, though we have to camp 
out at Mono again, and Mr. Naunton must do the 



240 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

best he can about Rosie and Mr. Egi'emont, for he is 
sure to remain behind if I carry Zanita off nolens 
volensJ*^ 

Evening approached, and there was no appearance 
of the excursionists. 

" I should not be a bit surprised," said Rosie, " if 
Zanita made Mr. Egremont camp out, just by way of 
mocking at his discomfort, whilst she will throw her- 
self upon the bushes and sleep as though upon a bed 
of down." 

" In a white mull muslin dress ! " I exclaimed, ir- 
ritably. " It will not look much like down to-morrow 
morning." 

Rosie arid Mr. Naunton laughed at this imaginative 
picture of Zanita next morning, but as daylight re- 
ceded, and the moon rose, I became more nervous. 

" I do not think you need be alarmed, aunty," said 
Rosie ; " Zanita never had an accident, with all her 
hair- breadth escapes of flood and field, and if anything 
had happened to Mr. Egremont," she continued, her 
color rising at the mention of his name, " she would 
have been down ere this for help. I think there is no 
doubt now that she insisted upon camping out just to 
torment him, aunty, and show how brave she -is." 

*' It is very wrong of her, and she shall never go 
out again with Mr. Egremont." 

*' It is too bad of her never to think how alarmed 
you would be, but I am rather glad she is not here 
to-night for I want to tell you a big secret, aunty,'' 
said Rosie, in a tremulous voice. She threw her arms 
around my waist, and laid her blushing, cheeks upon 
my shoulder. 

'" What is it, darling? " I said, caressing her glossy- 
hair. 



THE CREEPING SHADOW. 241 

*' I want to tell you what Mr. Egremont said to me. 
I have been trying all day to do so but could not get 
courage." 

She told me what I already knew, and then — how 
strangely events repeat themselves — I asked her the 
very same question I had put to her sister about the 
same man, — 

" Do you love him, Rosie ? " and the trembling an- 
swer came, " O, so much ! aunty. I hope it does not 
seem ungrateful, but he is more than all the world to 
me — dearer than existence ; and life without him 
would not be worth anything." 

" And would you like to leave us all and become his 
wife ? " 

" Dear aunty ! I should grieve to leave you and 
papa, and Zanita, and Kenmuir, and the Valley, but 
I would rather die than not be his wife when he wishes 
me. 

I took the soft velvety cheeks between my hands 
and kissed them. I then said, — " Has Zanita ever 
spoken to you in confidence about Mr. Egremont ? " 

" No, aunty ! you know she never gives me her 
confidence in anything. Why ? " 

" Because, my dear, perhaps she loves him too ! " 

" Zanita ! " cried Rosie, with a start of surprise. 
" She never cares very much for any one, you know, 
aunty." 

" No, dear, but she likes admiration, which to her is 
the same thing, and I think you ought to know that 
Mr. Egremont admired her once, when first he knew 
her." . 

" I am not surprised at that," she said ; " Zanita is 
very handsome, and talented, and quite bewitching, 
when she likes, — but that would not trouble me. -She 

16 



242 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

intends marrying a prince, — she said so in her sleep 
one night,*— and when I tease her about it she gets 
angry/' 

" I have reason to believe," I said, " that he came 
into the Valley on her account, and I feel, dear, that, 
for the sake oT your happiness, it is somebody's duty 
to ascertain how he stands with Zanita. I cannot be- 
lieve that a man can love two such opposite characters 
at the same time, and to be alternating fi'om one to the 
other is simply disgraceful." 

" O, aunty I you cannot surely look in his fece and 
think him guilty of such conduct." 

" My dear, that face is the greatest puzzle I ever met 
with in my life, and makes me inclined to throw physi- 
ognomy to the winds. If he should turn out dishon- 
orable, and a hypocrite, I shoidd never trust another 
beautiful face as long as I live. What does he mean 
by going out with Zanita and remaining out the whole 
day?" 

" Aunty," laughed Rosie, " you seem to forget that 
Zanita may have insisted upon going with him, just 
for a freak, as she does everything else, without think- 
ing or caring what the consequences may be." 

" But he could return in proper time. It is incom- 
prehensible, and, like everything else concerning him, 
bears the imprint of suspicion." 

After a little more chat Rosie retired to her room, 
and seeing a light in Kenmuir's cabin, I walked over, 
for I was too uneasy and filled with vague conjectures, 
to sleep. The moon shone in mystic splendor, limning 
out distinctly the grandly fantastic rocks of Hum-moo, 
oxidizing its gigantic pilaster and minarets, like some 
wondrous temple erected for the worship of a fabulous 
humanity, — on the scale of the mastodon, still found 



THE CREEPING SHADOW, 243 

in the iron grasp of the granite gorges. The opposite 
side of the Valley being in shade, was one solid mass 
of eberus, but from underneath the pines, obelisks 
sent long straight shadows across the meadows, raying 
them in alternate bars of light and dark. 

As I crossed the Mercede, by the rustic bridge, the 
high ridges of To-coy-ee and Low-oo-too were clearly, 
defined in the crystal waters, — the cedars on their 
summits transversed and standing on their topmost 
branches, pointed with feathery sprays to the lozenge- 
shaped moon, shining like a great Kohinoor diamond 
in the reflected cerulean vault. The owl's plaintive 
cry was reverberated from two antique cedars at either 
side of the bridge. They were pleading with each 
other over some momentous crisis in their lives. 

" Doo-doo-doo ! " sighed one. 

" Doo-doo-doo ! " echoed the other. 

Birds and beasts, as well as men, have their 
troublous times, I ween, and their plans " oft gang 
aglee ! " though Kenmuir seems to think it is only man 
who has got astray out of his orbit, or the ends for 
which he was created. My own idea, in which I agree 
with the Professor, for once, is, that nothing is lost or 
gone astray in the universe of creation, — that men 
and mountains, all fulfill their tasks as appropriately 
as mosquitoes and mastodons. 

The Professor laughs at the idea of " mistakes,'' 
"blunders," and "miscalculations," and vexatious re- 
gret at having createcj this or that, and throwing it 
away in disgust. Whatever is, was intended to be, 
is our theory, and we have to make the best of it, 
unable at the moment to decide whether it will be* 
good or bad in the long run. 

I tapped at Kenmuir's window as I passed. He was 



244 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

sitting writing in company with two tree-frogs, who 
evidently took an interest in his Hterary labors. He 
opened the door for me. 

" I half expected you," he said ; " I know you are 
anxious. Come in and take a seat." 

" No, thank you," I answered, as I noticed a 
third guest, in the shape of a pet rattlesnake^ curled 
up in the corner over a watercourse which Kenmuir 
had encouraged to flow through his abode, in order 
to refresh some ferns which also had domiciled them- 
-eelves under his roof, — " no, thank you, I would 
rather sit outside in the moonlight." 

He pulled his old sheepskin chair to the step. 
Hung around the cabin were Egremont's small oil- 
paintings of the various points of the Valley. Some- 
how the sight of them brought a dimness to my eyes, 
the shadow of approaching wretchedness was so heavy 
upon me. 

" I am sorry to see you so overcome," said Ken- 
muir, noticing my emotion ; " you may need all your 
courage before long." 

" And shall show more than I evince now ! " I said. 
" What do you think of this state of affairs ? " 

Kenmuir settled his back against the door-sill, and 
looking steadily down into my face said, — "I fear 
they are off"! " 

" Eloped ! " I exclaimed, springing to my feet. 

" That 's the proper expression, I suppose. I mean 
that." 

" But they have no horses ; they cannot have 
walked out of the Valley ! " 

• " Not likely ! but she would catch some stray horses^ 
and they would ride bare-backed as far as Galen's 
I Rancho, and then get saddles and go on to Mariposa, 
where they could be married." 



THE CREEPING SHADOW. 245 

" Good Heavens ! " I exclaimed, stamping my foot. 
" How I shall hate him if he has done that 1 I would 
r/ither he had pitched from the top of Tis-sa-ack. 
What are your grounds for such a supposition ? " 

" Well," said Kenmuir, *' they are these : if they 
had camped we should most likely see their fire, and I 
have been round looking. They are not out at Old 
Methley's, for I have been there ; and then Zanita is 
far too good a mountaineer to camp out this weather 
without plenty of blankets and food. Now Egremon^ 
had nothino: but his sketch-box when I saw him, and 
it is not likely he would allow her to carry a burden 
like an Indian squaw." 

" She took nothing from the store closet," I put in, 
" because I had the keys all the morning." 

" No," continued Kenmuir, " I will venture to say 
they are not camping out. If it were any one else but 
Zanita they might have lost their way ; but she knows 
every foot of the ground, and would come back by this 
moonlight as easy as not. That they would remain 
out all night is too improbable, and I am quite certain 
they have not." 

" No," I said, " that seems conclusive, and besides, 
Mr. Egremont would never dare appear before me 
again after such an outrageous proceeding ; and I do 
not believe that Zanita, with all her influence, could 
make him do it. You do not suppose they have gone 
to Radd's," I suggested. 

" No, there is nowhere to sleep there unless they 
turned Radd and his wife out ; and Zanita would never 
put herself under the fire of Mrs. Radd's battery for a 
. whole night : I am morally certain of that." 

" Then what do you think ought to be done ? " 

" Do you want to stop the marriage ? " he asked, 
hesitatingly. 



246 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" Why certainly I do ; they are acting no better 
than two lunatics, and would tear each other to pieces 
before the honeymoon was over. Why, he expressed 
the utmost contempt and bitterness for her yesterday 
morning. I believe he must be subject to aberration of 
mind, and she is acting on some wild fancy ; but she is 
under age, and we can surely prevent this marriage, 
and I shall have no hesitation in doing so : it is my 
duty." 

" Well, then," cried Kenmuir, " I will saddle my 
Bucephalus, and meet them at Mariposa to-morrow 
morning, for they cannot have gone farther, and I 
know Judge Macmach well enough to get him to stay 
the proceedings." 

" When will you start ? " I asked. " It is no good 
consulting Mr. Naunton ; he never has seemed to live 
clearly in this world since his wife's death." 

'•'I am ready this moment, when I have taken the 
precaution to prevent the frogs continuing my manu- 
script with their legs dipped in the ink." He had 
been careful to tether a horse up, foreseeing that he 
might need one. 

He was off in a few minutes. I listened to the 
horse's feet, as they resounded in the stillness for 
miles down the Valley. 

When he was gone my heart sank lower and lower. 
1 did not expect he would find them, although I coin- 
cided with him in his solution of their disappearance ; 
yet I did not realize it in my heart. I am a woman of* 
strong presentiments. I knew she could not have car- 
ried him off against his will, and yet they were gone 
together, — gone never to return it seemed to me ; ^ 
every hour appeared to make this more certain. 

I put my ear to the ground. I could distinctly hear 



THE CREEPING SHADOW. 247 

the scraping of the horse's hoofs over the rocky track 
i-ound the Po-ho-no Fall. I almost wished I had started 
with him; it would have been less trying than this 
nervous waiting, this exhaustive suspense. In action, 
however terrible, I never feel that sickening dread 
which so overpowers me in moments of anxious antici- 
pation. There is certainly no wisdom in meeting 
trouble half-way ; but if I am sure that misfortune is 
approaching, I always feel inclined to rush en avant 
and contend for every inch of ground. To stand still, 
or even to fly, is equally impossible for me. 

As sleep was quite out of the question, I resolved 
to make myself some cofffee, write a little note to Rosie, 
telling her where I was gone to, rouse the Indian, 
Mu-wah, to accompany me, start for the Upper Valley, 
and put Radd on the search. 

But the Indian was nowhere to be found, and I had 
to go in search of Rosie's pony and saddle him myself. 
I debated whether to rouse Mr. Naunton, and ask him 
to join me ; but finally decided not to do so, as he 
would scarcely take my view of the importance of 
the case, and would probably retard me. Apathy and 
a good deal of indifference had grown upon him with 
vears, and the death of his wife, who had seemed 
to be the better half of his soul ; and, moreover, his 
faith in Zanita as a mountaineer was unbounded. 
That she could be lost, stolen, or strayed in the moun- 
tains, seemed to him an utter impossibility. 

" You might search a week in these rocks in vain," 
he had said, when I had proposed seeking for her, 
" and she would walk in at the end of that time as cool 
as though she had only been out an hour. She is a 
real mountain child, the true daughter of Ah-wah-nee ; 
she will never be otherwise, and it is useless to fret 



248 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

about her. She will be home probably by moonlight, 
and if not, by sunrise, and if not, to-morrow or the next 
day ; but she must be let to come her own way." 

I have often thought there was nothing so exhilarat- 
ing as a ride in the early morning in the mountains 
alone. The freshness of Nature seems to descend 
over all, and fold us in her unsullied embrace ; the 
nobility of the whole scene animates us, and dissipates 
those petty troubles which often pester us and destroy 
our happiness, as mosquitoes under a net defy the arts 
of the great god Somnus. 

As I entered the sylvan tangle of the forest, the 
South Fork Canon was dim in the matin twilight ; but 
soon became roseate with incipient day, and ere I had 
ascended far up the rocky path which leads to the 
foot of the falls, bright flashes of slanting light shot 
through the trees, coruscating in golden beams, and 
when I emerged from the umbrose avenue of knotted 
cedars, the sun hung like a ball of resplendent fire be- 
tween the rival domes of Tis-sa-ack and Tah-mah. 

When I had reached the crest of the mountains, 
whence I could command a view of the two falls, and 
look down on the Py-wy-ack, whilst remaining on a 
level with the foot of the Yo-wi-ye, I drew my rein, 
and, as Kenmuir would say, " Let the grandeur and 
sublimity of God's untouched, unsullied creation per- 
meate through every fibre of my existence." I had 
need of the sustaining power of the clear surging wind, 
— of the strength of the majestic cascade that rolls on 
from all time to eternity, — to crave the placitude of 
the mute moss that girdled with many rings the pinus 
ponderoso in sunshine and shower, and snow and heat, 
and cling to them in silent tenderness, 

" Nature is a stem philosophic religionist. 
' Thus it is. Thus it is best,' is her motto." 



THE CREEPING SHADO W. 249 

My soul took in this supremely divine message and 
felt composed. 

Farther on a little bird caroling joyously, as though 
it would burst its little throat in its vigorous evolutions, 
gave me the idea to rouse the echoes. Possibly Zanita 
or Egremont might respond. 

Upon the second trial I received an answer other 
than the echo. Alas I it was a male voice, and a 
baritone, whilst I knew Egremont's was a tenor, from 
his having joined with Rosie in duets. 

I kept up the communication, in some vague hope 
that it might bring good news, and in the space of 
about ten minutes RoUo came bounding up to me ; 
then I knew his master was not far distant, and 
shortly Radd appeared waving the hat with the torn 
brim, which, like the tower of Pisa, was always falling 
but never fell.. 

He welcomed me with u great display of gladness, — 

*• * Hail Aurora, Goddess of the Morn, 
Whose rosy fingers ope the gates of day/ 

" to thee I pay my devoir.^^ 

" Mr, Radd," I replied, in plain prose, " I was on 
my way to see you, .but I must rest here. I want 
you to make me a fire, and warm this coffee, and to 
have a very serious talk with you." 

Radd looked into my face, read thei'e my anxiety, 
and was silent. Gathering a few sticks, my coffee was 
soon warm, and sitting upon a mossy knoll at the foot 
of a wide- spreading evergreen oak, I made him my 
confidante as to the loss of Zanita iind Egremont. 

'^ We will hope it is not a tragedy, madam,'* he said 
softly, — and his face spoke that deeper sensitive sym- 
pathy which made me pity the husband of Nell, — '* but 
unless it turns out as you fear, a wedding, I am almost 
afraid." 



230 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" O, a wedding," I interrupted him, " would be the 
greatest tragedy of all." 

" Greater than death ? " he hazarded, looking at me 
carefully. 

I shrank a little from this fearful alternative. " Why,'' 
I asked, " do you put it so ? " 

" Because, madam, though I would not pain you by 
a heedless thought, yet you should not lose sight of the 
fact that the beautiful daughter of Ah-wah-nee has 
slept upon her mother's bosom too often, not to know 
that her mull muslin dress, as you term it, would be 
frozen about her at this season. Hence she has either 
got out of the mountains, as you say, for a purpose, or 
she is, — and he stopped short and picked at the torn 
rim of his hat. 

My eyes watched it, and thought it would come off; 
but my heart stood still, and I gasped out, " She is — 
what?" 

" Returned to the bosom of her mater natur<B^'* he 
said solemnly. 

My breath came tightly for a moment. " Let us 
hope not," at length I said, pushing the horrid phan- 
tom from me. 

" They have not been up here," he said, — " at least 
not through the Upper Valley ; but they may have 
gone by Mono, and every inch of the road shall be 
searched this day ; you shall not be kept in suspense 
any way. Have you anything about you that belonged 
to either of them ? Rollo will find whatever he has 
once had a scent of, and if he gets on their trail will 
not leave it until he has run them down." 

'* There is a handkerchief I picked up a little way 
from Kenmuir's hut ; it is marked ' Bgremont : ' " I 
handed it to him. 



THE CREEPING SHADO W. 251 

He looked at it carefully. " It is very fine," he re- 
marked. " What is that square hole cut out over his 
name for ? There has' been something above : I can 
see the ink marks on the other side." 

" Very curious," I said ; " but I cannot divine why 
it was cut out." 

" Well, madam, if you will return into the Valley, 
lest the family of our mountain sylph become alarmed, 
I will undertake to search all this portion of the rocks, 
and either find them or give you a positive assurance 
that they are not there." 

Thus, without the trial of encountering Mrs. Nell, 
I wended my solitary way back again, Rosie's pony 
nothing loth to make such a short day of it. 



CHAPTER XXin. 

OVER THE BRINK. 

As I reached the cottage I heard Mr. Naunton's 
voice, exclaiming, "Where in the mischief are all 
the folks gone ? Surely the fairies have been amongst 
us and spirited them away I There is Mu-wah off 
now, and Mrs. Brown, and Kenmuir, and only Cozy 
and myself left." 

*' Here I am ! " I cried, riding upl 

" Well, well," exclaimed Mr. Naunton, " wonders 
will never cease I So vou have been for a matinal 
ride. Bravo ! " 

" Zanita returned ? " I asked. 

" Not yet. I am expecting her every moment." 

" But where do you imagine sh^ is ? " I exclaimed, 
half provoked at his indifference. 

" Well," he said, " it would take a great deal of 
imagination to say the identical spot where she may 
be, but if Mr. Egremont were not with her I should 
not take the trouble to think about it ; but I do not 
exactly like her being away with him so long. I hope- 
they have not found their way to any of the ranchos 
or settlements — it will cause such a talk. But I 
should think Mr. Egremont had more sense than that." 

Here Rosie flew out and gave me a warm, rosy kiss. 
" I declare, aunty, I had become desperately alarmed 
about every one disappearing in such a mj^sterious 
way. I began to think there was some awful catas- 



OVER THE BRINK. 253 

trophe about to peril the Valley, and that the Indians' 
evil spirit had come to assert his reign. But where is 
Kenmuir? I cannot find him anywhere." 

" He has gone on the Mariposa trail, fearing they 
may have met with some accident," I answered, eva- 
sively, — for I could not wound Rosie by the dread 
suspicion. 

" I don't see how they could manage an accident on 
that road, and without horses too," said Mr. Naunton, 
*' unless they chose to jump over. There is no place 
where they could fall down that I know of." 

" Do, aunty, come and take some breakfast, for you 
look as though you had not slept all night. Indeed, I 
do begin to feel very uneasy," she said, nestling close 
to me. " As papa says, if Zanita were alone I should 
not fear, for she knows exactly how to take care of 
herself; but Mr. Egremont would never remain out all 
night, I am sure, and must be withheld from returning 
by some unforeseen accident or misfortune." 

Here old Methuselah came in to inquire if the young 
lady had returned. 

" No," said Mr. Naunton, putting the best face upon 
the matter, " but we are expecting her in hourly." 

*' Because," continued the old man, " I think I can 
do a step or so of a score miles in the service of our 
Queen of the Valley, for never was a more daring, 
fearless mountaineer than that child, whose foster- 
mother was the great Yo-semite. Well," he said, 
diving inconsequently into his memory, — " there 's 
the Duchess of Argyle, — called tlie ' Beautiful Duch- 
ess,' — who carried all the elections with her prowess, 
who won the wager with the Prince Regent, to raise 
a regiment in a shorter time than his Royal High- 
ness, and won it, too, by giving every volunteer a 



254 A TALE OF THE YChSEMITE. 

kiss; then there is Mademoiselle Th^roigne, who 
headed the populace of Paris, ai\d rode on the cannon 
to Versailles. And to go back out of our own day : 
there was Joan of Arc; then, in semi-fact and fic- 
tion, there is the * Daughter of the Regiment,' and 
* Lord Ullin's Daughter.' But I '11 back our ' Daugh- 
ter of -Ah-wah-nee, or the Great Yo-semite,' against 
them all. She can ride a wild horse, or shoot a griz- 
zly, snare a skunk, catch a coyote, with any man ^ in 
the Valley." 

" Grizzly I " exclaimed Rosie, turning pale. " Ah, 
I never thought of that I Supposing grizzly has killed 
them ! They had no arms." 

" A grizzly ! " echoed Mr. . Naunton, contemptu- 
ously. " Why Zanty w<!fcild be half-way up a tree 
before a grizzly could say Jack Robinson." 

We all laughed ; but mine was a mere catenation. 
I was thinking all the time of what other means could 
be devised to expedite the discovery for weal or woe. 
A silent inquisition of memory was rapidly going on 
through every circumstance and event, since the fatal 
meeting of these two exceptional persons in my hus- 
band's study ; seeking vainly to detect a clew to the 
fearful climax which seemed impending, or to find 
some evidence which, followed, might lead up to the 
explanation of the mystery. More definitely asserting 
itself was an eager peering of the spirit into each 
ravine, and-rocky defile or tangled glade. The impa- 
tient, palpitating soul could ill wait the tardy move- 
ments of the bod/, but was away over, the distant 
mountains, scouring the Valley and austere heights, 
penetrating each umbrageous nook and dell, skim- 
ming down the rippling streams, where the oool 
waters might have tempted the fugitives to linger. 



OVER THE BRINK, 255 

glancing into every granite cave and under the tufts 
of plume-like ferns and drooping lichens. 

It has always been to me a subject of speculation 
whether in this mysterious pilgrimage of the spirit out 
of the body it actually discerns tangible objects as re- 
vealed to the physical ; whether in this intense mental 
search for Zanita it would recognize her presence, 
should she be on the spot it visited. We say, quite 
commonly, " O, I had lost an article, and could not 
find it for several davs; I had an idea it was so and 
so, and sure enough ! found it where I thought." Is it 
not possible the spirit messenger had searched it out ? 

Had Zanita been left behind, her prescient intuition 
would have discovered Egremont, and the latter ap- 
peared to have some kind of prevision by which he 
could sift out her hidden whereabouts. But my spirit 
wandered in vain, and saw them not. A dark cloud 
had fallen between our worlds and parted us forever. 

It must not be supposed that I trusted to this spec- 
ulation alone. It was far too chimerical for the present 
absolute emergency. 

So I quickly drew Methuselah on one side and ex- 
pressed to him my fears that the young people had 
met with some serious accident ; that they might be so 
injured as to be unable to move ; and that I considered 
it necessary every exertion should be made to rescue 
them upon this supposition, for the thought of their 
lying wounded, without succor, was too horrible to 
dwell upon. 

The old giant perfectly agreed with me, and arming 
himself with a stout hook and coil of rope, set out 
upon an exploration. 

I began to calculate with Rosie what was the 
earliest time at which Kenmuir could return. 



266 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

" If he went as far as Mariposa," she said, "besides 
scouring the country round, it would be a good hun- 
dred miles, there and back, to say nothing of the gyra- 
tions round to the different settlements, another thirty 
or forty. I fear we cannot look for him back to-night." 

We went into Zanita's room to try to discern any 
indications of her having contemplated a longer ab- 
sence, but all was as usual there. Her pink dress 
liurriedly thrown off, her book half open, — pencil and 
paper lying in it where she was making notes, — the 
last word half completed. That word was " Treach- 
ery ! " The table stood underneath the window, and 
from it was visible Kenmuir's hut and the path leading 
to the great dome. She had doubtless seen the figure 
of Egremont depart, and had, in her impulsive way, 
resolved to go with him, and hastily changed her dress 
to the one she knew he admired, snatched her garden 
hat from the peg, where part of the lining still hung, 
and raced after him. 

The appearance of her room was conclusive to my 
mind that there had been no premeditation. What 
she had succeeded in accomplishing afterward still 
remained wrapped in shadow. The marriage theory 
began to fade away, and 'my hopes from Kenmuir's 
journey to ebb low. The minutes passed like hours, 
and it seemed a whole week since I had given up ex- 
pecting them the night before, and next to impossible 
that Kenmuir had been gone only twelve hours. 

Weary and feverish I lay down and tried to sleep, 
but it was useless. My messenger was still out with 
the search-warrant, — now escalading cliffs impossible 
for humanity to have trodden, now sweeping under 
the falls where it would have been submerged and car- 
ried over the cataracts. 



OVER THE BRINK. 257 

" Rosie I '* I called, — unable to bear the supposition 
alone, — " do you think it possible they could have 
ventured too near to the fall ? *' 

" I do not think it probable. I hope not 1 " said 
Rosie. " Mr. Egremont is never fool-hardy, and always 
tries to prevent Zanita from perpetrating these reckless 
exploits. No," continued poor Rosie, whose joyous 
face began to assume a pitiful look of a baby about to 
cry, — "I am afraid if they are injured it must be 
from the falling of a rock, either from under or upon 
them. I could not bear to entertain the thought at 
first, but it is gradually taking fast hold upon me." 
And she raised her violet eyes to the adamantine 
fortress in front of her with a sad, appealing look. 

I had just closed my eyes again when she ex- 
claimed, — 

" Why here is Rollo coming up the path at full 
speed with something in his mouth. O, aunty dear, 
look ! What is it ? " 

I sprang to my feet. Up came Rollo with the most 
bustling importance, wagging his tail, shaking his head, 
and wriggling his body as though he were conscious of 
being the most welcome guest and of rendering the 
greatest service. " If ever a dog rightly earned his 
dinner, that dog is myself," he appeared to say, as he 
delivered up to us the object he carried. 

It was a piece of canvas, and although torn and 
scratched was evidently an oil-painting. 

" It is Mr. Egremont's last sketch I " cried Rosie, 
turning white, " and O ! is that blood upon it ? " 
And ere I could catch her she had swooned away. 
I called loudly for help. Chang- Wo, the cook, ap- 
peared, fortunately carrying a pitcher of water. I 

17 



258 A TALE OF TUE YO-SEMITE, 

took it &om him and sprinkling it upon Rosie sent him 
for some brandy. 

Rollo stooped over her and licked her face, much 
bewildered at the result of his achievement. She was 
soon conscious again, and the big. tears rolling down 
her face. 

"Courage, my darling! you must nerve yourself 
now, for there is much to be done. Thank God, we 
have a clew at last I " 

" Where is Mr. Naunton, Chang-wo ? " 

" Him away, gone ! " quoth Chang, in his monosyl- 
labic style. 

" Where ? " 

" Away ! takee him long stick, takee him long rope, 
away ! " and he pointed to the mountains. 

" Poor papa ! " cried Rosie, " he has really become 
alarmed ; there must, then, be actual danger." 

We examined the sketch together. It represented 
the half dome of Tis-sa-ack, and the point of the 
Clouds' Rest. 

*' Do you know it, Rosie ? " I asked. .,_ 

" O yes," she replied, " I was with him when he 
began it I I have the fellow copy on my easel." 

" I am surprised he did not ask you to go with him 
to finish it. O, how I wish that your father or the 
Professor were here, for something must be done at 
once. Rosie, have you the courage to go with me ? " 

" Yes, aunty ! I know the exact spot." 

In another minute we had saddled the horses and 
were off at a brisk canter, Indian file, Rollo ahead, 
followed by Rosie and myself. 

About three miles up the Valley Rollo diverged and 
made as for his own home. 

*' Rollo I Rollo I that is not the way," cried Rosie. 



OVER THE BRINK. 259 

The dog hesitated, wagged his tail, and resumed 
his way. 

" He wants us to go home with him. Never muid ! 
push on, Rosie, for you know the spot." 

Rollo stopped, looked wistfully after us, came slowly 
back a piece, stopped again, then took his own way, full 
gallop. 

We were soon on the site whence the sketch had 
been taken. Rosie sprang from the pony. 

** Here it is 1 " she said. " I remember it so well ! " 

" And there are evident marks of his having been 
here." 

" I think these are our tracks," said Rosie, examin- 
ing. " O yes ! " she cried, and burst into an agonized 
sob. 

I looked, and there in the disintegrated, fine granite 
was written the word " Cozy." 

Poor child I I took her in my arms and kissed her 
softly. 

" Do not grieve for this sign of his love. They 
have not been here or it would have been effaced. So 
let us go. I wish we had kept Rollo, for he would 
have guided us to where he found the sketch." 

We -mounted our horses and rode slowly home, 
silent and dispirited. A sudden flicker of soul's light 
had blazed up for a moment, and left us enveloped in 
deeper gloom. 

" Ah ! " exclaimed Rosie, suddenly jerking round 
in her saddle. " Here is old Mophead I " The name 
I had christened him years ago was familiarly used 
by the children ; and moving at right angles toward 
our path, I saw something like a great bunch of tow. 

*' He has surely found something, or he would not 
have given up the search so soon." 



260 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

He saw us and approached. His face had a grand 
old consequential expression, from which I rather 
argued favorably. He looked as though he would 
say, " I am the important personage in these matters ; 
]>]ace yourself in my hands and you will not have 
long to wait for the solution of your difficulties." 
He flung his moppy head back in a stately way as he 
spoke, — 

''I think, madam, that I have discovered a very 
important fact in this case. Do you not think this has 
something to do with the mystery ? " And he pro- 
duced from his bosom an ornament that glittered, and 
shot out rays of light back to the afternoon sun. 

Rosie looked and turned away ; she saw no connec- 
tion between it and her beloved. ' But I took the 
bauble in my hand. It was a sort of star or cross, 
brilliantly set with diamonds in blue and white enamel, 
with a small piece of ribbon attached to fasten it to 
the garment. 

" I have seen such ornaments in Europe," I said. 
" Where in the world did you find it ? " 

" No doubt, madam," he replied. " It is a foreign 
decoration. I remember quite well to have seen it 
[)inned on the breast of high officers on board the 
Bellerophon^ when the great Napoleon was laid low. 
It belongs somehow to courts and camps. 'Do you 
not think it formed a portion of the apparel of your 
distinguished guest? I found it tied round the neck 
of a Pinte Indian who was going up to the 'deer 
feast,' and I succeeded in getting it from him in ex- 
change for a half-dollar. He told me he had just 
found it among the rocks, and I made him go back to 
show me exactly the spot. I searched all about the 
vicinity, but could discover nothing more ; but I had 



OVER THE BRINK, 261 

the Indian tied hand and limb in my castle in case he 
may have been murdered by the party/' 

" This," he whispered, approaching his great head 
which was nearly on a level with mine, though I was 
mounted on hor >eback, — "I brought this down to allay 
your uneasiness. Now I am about to start for the 
Upper Valley to get Randolph's dog. If you have 
anything which belonged to either of them I will 
carry it, to put the dog on the scent. He '11 hunt out 
their traces if they are in the rock." 

We told him how he had found the painting imme- 
diately after our vain search. 

With great strides he was soon out of sight again. 

I regarded the gemmed ornament attentively, and 
suddenly there flashed across me Mr. Egremont's 
movement when putting his hand into his breast and 
saying, " I can prove to you in two minutes." That 
it belonged to him there was not the shadow of a 
doubt in my mind. 

We rode slowly home, thinking to Jbe there when 
Mr. Naunton returned. He had not yet arrived, and 
again w^e were plunged into the horrors of suspense. 

Rosie, after hearing my conviction that the gem 
was Mr. Egremont's, lay motionless with her face 
buried in the divaii cushions. 

*' Do not despair, dear child ! all is not lost yet. I 
feel as though they must find him very soon now. They 
must have had a fall, it would seem, from his things 
being so scattered about, but perhaps he is only dis- 
abled ; and after an hour's rest, if your father is not 
returned, I will again start out for the Upper Valley 
with a few restoratives, and a good strong blanket to 
make a stretcher in case of need, for I feel, dear, that 
we must prepare for something of that nature. You 



262 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

must provide for our coming home. Have Mary keep 
the hot water ready. There is nothing Uke being 
])repared for the worst now." 

I set forth again for the third time that day over the 
same path under the same feelings, on^y more intensi- 
fied. They had risen slowly and gradually to the 
culminating fear that some more alarming, perhaps 
fatal catastrophe, had befallen the missing ones. 

The little incidents above narrated had tended to 
dispel the lingering hope we all had cherished, that 
some unwonted freak of Zanita's might eventually un- 
ravel the mystery. We had dwelt upon the espieglerie 
of the china closet ; and Mr. Naunton laid great stress 
upon the fact of her having once built herself into 
the potato-hole, where she made a fire, in perform- 
ance of an Indian curative custom of the sweat-house. 
On that occasion fortunately Chang had gone to the 
hole for a supply of potatoes, and found her almost 
suffocated. 

" Zanita is fertile in invention, and has struck a new 
lead of mischief we none of us can guess at." 

But speculations of this nature were over. The 
picture had been torn from its case, and there were 
marks of blood upon it, and the ornament had been 
worn under the vest, if anywhere. I thought I would 
ride round by old Mophead's castle, in case he might 
have returned. I found only the Indian, bound hand 
and foot, who bellowed loudly when he saw me, 
" Wah-hi ! wah-hi ! go him away, go him away 1 " — 
meaning that I should unloose him and let him go. 

He was an old man I had occasionally seen roaming 
about, whose soft handsome features we had often re- 
marked. The very last time, I remembered Zanita 
had been with me, and had spoken a few words of In- 



OVER TEE BRINK, 263 

dian to him. I felt sure this man was no murderer, 
but possibly might know something concerning the 
missing ones. ^ 

I dismounted, gave him a drink of water, and asked 
him, — 

" See young squaw. ? — talk Indian ? " 

He understood immediately, and answered, " Ugh ! 
ugh ! Mono," nodding with his head toward that di- 
rection. " Gone fetch him ! " and he appealed to be 
immediately released. 

This I dared not do, but it sent a thrill of pleasure 
through my heart I had not experienced for twenty- 
four hours. 

" I go fetch big knife and cut your rope," I replied, 
smiling on him as I mounted my pony. He chuckled 
a response, and I rode off toward the foot of the 
mountain. I raised our mountain whoop several times, 
in order that the party might hear me and guide me 
to them. Soon I got a response from Radd, — for I 
knew his voice, — at the foot of the " Glacier Point." 
One side of this point, which projects into the Valley, 
is an almost vertical smooth surface for three thousand 
feet, which gives it the name of glacier. On the 
other side it presents a jagged, broken front formed 
of stern, bold rocks, clefts, and ravines, — a 'mass of 
broken stones, as though they had been prepared for 
building purposes. A few stunted shrubs of manzanita 
grow among them without an apparent soil for suste- 
nance. 

As I rode into this embattlement Radd approached 
me carrying in his hands some broken pieces of wood 
which I instantly recognized as the sketch-box. 

" He has found these," said he, pointing to RoUo, 
" but there is more to come." 



264 A TALE OF THE YO^SEMITE. 

I left my horse and we mounted tlie debris. Rollo 
sprang from rock to rock with a plaintive yell that 

chilled mv very soul. 

• • • 

I have heard the sharp excited cry of the fox-hounds 
on full scent in the English hunting field, and the still 
more hitter yelp of the blood-hounds chasing fiigitive 
slaves in America, but the short gasping howl that 
burst from Rollo from time to time was the most dis- 
tressful sound I have ever heard a door utter. 

Old Methley was eagerly following and urging him 
on with encouraging words. At last he bounded 
toward his master and delivered to him what turned 
out to be a bunch of paint brushes. Shortly after- 
ward Mrs. Radd appeared on the shelving rock hold- 
ing up a hat in her hand, which I immediately recog- 
nized. We climbed toward her. She said, as we 
all stood appalled at this evidence, — 

" I know'd it was all up then — when I seen her 
ghost go a-gliding by last night." 

" Woman, hold your peace ! " cried Radd, with 
more severity than I supposed he was capable of as- 
suming. 

" Wall, it don't amount to much neither ways, if I 
says it or other folks says it ; it 's all up with them, and 
that 's what 's the matter ; but I 'U take my bible oath 
that I seen her ghost a-gliding through the moonlight 
in the Upper Valley last night." 

" Is it not possible," I said, catching at this idea 
and comparing it with the Indian's assertion, — " that 
the form mitrht have been Zanita's ? She wore a white 
dress." 

" And she all smashed up in the rocks," quoth Mrs. 
Radd, contemptuously. " Wall, them townsfolk have 
no manner of idee. Rollo never takes on like that 
but when he scents blood " — 



. OVER tSe brink. 265 

" Peace ! woman," vociferated Radd again. 

Rollo was howling piteously over a deep cleft in 
the rock, and Methley's gaunt figure stood over him 
beckoning us like the genius of evil. We scrambled 
up the rugged steep at our utmost speed. The sun 
cast his last lurid beams over the peaks and jutting 
points, and tinged them with a deep blood-red, pene- 
trating every niche and crevice. 

We stood on the brink of the cliff looking into a 
fissure which was as if the rock had been split asun- 
der. A slender streak of red, like blood, crept 
slowly down and down until it was lost in the abyss, y 
and as we were kneeling breathless over it there 
was revealed to us a pallid face, still and mute, turned 
upward to the sky. 

A great cry burst fi'om every lip. 

It was Egremont lying placid in the arms of death. J 

A heavy stillness came over me as I assisted to ^ 
lower the ropes and hooks in order to grapple for him, 
Rollo paced about swaying his head, ever uttering his 
moans. 

With much difficulty we raised the body fi'om the 
depth of some twenty or thirty feet. Alas ! we might 
as well have left it in its granite sepulchre. It was 
torn and mangled, and shattered almost piecemeal. 
His clothes were saturated with gore, to which fi'ag- 
ments of granite had adhered. The skull was crushed, 
and only the beautiful face was left unexcoriated. The 
expression was calm and noble, and the beautifiil 
arched lips and chin looked like chiseled alabaster. It 
was too sad for words and too solemn for grief. 

We carefully laid him in the blanket and each hold- 
ing a corner bore him down. Then Radd and Methley, 
cutting down two young saplings, bound the blanket 



266 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

finiily to them and lifted the sorrowful burden as the 
Chinese carry their loads. 

" Do you not think we should continue the search ? " 
I said, tremhlingly, dreading to Bnish the terrible 
sentenjce. 

" Rollo seems to have given it up," said Radd, 
** and I think he would not do that if there were any- 
other scent to follow." 

Radd, however, made the essay by once more as- 
cending the rock, but Rollo looked after him wistfully, 
with an expression that said, " It is of no use." So 
we set out with our terrible burden. 

Nell remained behind, saying she would take another 
look around, and I rode on in advance to prepare thom 
at the cottage for the shocking catastrophe. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

WAKING AND SLEEPING TERBOBS. 

It was some relief to my heart when, within half a 
mile of the house, I met my husband who had just ar- 
rived, and having been informed of the terrible crisis 
that we were in, he had come on to meet me, 

" My poor Sylvia I " he exclaimed, as he lifted me 
from the saddle, the better to give me a fond caress. 

I laid my head on the breast where I had found 
shelter from this world's sorrow for so many years, 
and burst into heavy sobs. 

I could afford to weep now that he was present to 
act for me. This reliance, this help in need that 
makes a unity of love so precious, is the greatest boon 
granted us here below. For a few minutes I remained 
in his encircling arms, he stroking me gendy and mur- 
muring, — ^ 

"My poor child 1 you are oVertried and over- 
worked. Leave the rest to me." 

But soon I was able to tell him of the dreadful dis- 
covery we had just made. 

" Terrible I " he said — " very terrible 1 He must 
have fallen over the cliff and been dashed to pifeces." 

I calmed myself and we continued our march. 

My husband speedily mastered all the facts in his 
clear way^ and made a resumS which was some com- 
fort to me : — 

" No trace of Zanita havii^ been found on the 



268 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

dShris^ the evidence that the woman saw her, com- 
bined with the Indian's Mono story, would go to show 
that she is safe and well somewhere, and will doubtless 
turn up in her wild way in process of time. But we 
must question the Indian with an interpreter." 

Thus my good husband kept on talking all the 
way home ; and so judicious was his- treatment of my 
nervous excitement, that before we reached the cot- 
tage I was quite calmed and pacified, and able to 
undertake the painful task that lay before me of com- 
municating the sad news to Rosie. She, poor child ! 
rushed out to meet me and clung round my neck. 
She seemed to glean from my face that the mystery 
was solved. Her father had returned, and Kenmuir, 
looking jaded and worn, was just riding up. 

" In vain," said he, shaking his head. " Unsuc- 
cessful." 

On approaching me he too read in my face the 
preface to the awful disclosure, and was silent. I made 
him a sign that I must speak to Rosie alone, and mo- 
tioned him to the Professor, whilst I went to my room 
followed by the poor child. 

" Rosie, my darling ! " I said, " a fearfiil accident 
has happened. He has fallen from the rocks and is 
very much shattered. They are bringing him home.'* 

Rosie had uttered a little cry when I first spoke, 
now she interrupted quickly, — 

" And Zanita ? " 

" We have not seen her. She was not there ; but 
Mrs. Radd saw her alone last night, and she has prob- 
ably gone off on the Mono trail." 

Rosie's large blue eyes dilated with horror. " Gone 
ofi^! " she cried, "and never §ought help: left on the 
cruel rocks all torn and lacerated, to die ! O, 
aunty ! " — and her feice flushed — " it is not possible ! '* 



WAKING AND SLEEPING TERRORS, 289 

" We know nothing, dear, for certain. We have 
not seen her, but that is our conjecture. We shall 
learn more to-morrow." 

" Can he not speak ? " she said, after a pause. 

" No, my darling, I fear we shall never hear his 
voice again.*' 

Rosie was trembling all over, but rising with art 
effort, as though she dreaded to pursue the conversa- 
tion, she said, — 

" Aunty, let me get you some tea ; you look as 
though you were going to faint." 

" No dear, I shall not faint, but you may give me a 
cup of tea ; and there 's poor Kenmuir who has ridden 
some hundred and fifty miles, no doubt, without ever 
being out of saddle." 

I went into the sitting-room. Kenmuir wa^ stand- 
ing with his arms folded and head dropped down. 
There was a dark shade of sorrow on his usually 
bright face. 

" O, Mrs. Brown I " he said, " how grieved I am 
for that young man. There was something noble in 
him that I could not but like," — and then he added, 
in a whisper, " my soul shrinks back affrighted from the 
solution that my judgment gives of the event." 

" Good God ! What ? " I said. 

" No, no," he murmured, clasping his hands, while 
the big drops of sweat oozed out from his forehead, — 
*' I cannot tell you my suspicion. We will wait*" 

"Be ready to prevent Rosie from seeing the 
corpse," I said. " They are to take him to your hut, 
and you must sleep here." 

" O, that makes no difference," he said; '' I would 
as soon remain near tire poor boy dead as alive, but I 
think we ought to try the Mono trail at onpe, and 



270 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

when I have taken a cup of tea and an hour's rest I 
will start again." 

" O, impossible 1 " I exclaimed. " You must have 
already ridden one hundred and fifty miles." 

" Nearly that, for I diverged to the Mariposa Grove 
and Big Trees, and several sheep ranchos, and three 
horses broke down under me. The first thing is to 
examine the Indian, and learn where he last saw her. 
I dread being too late again. If I had gone off on that 
ti*ack last night I might have saved him. Poor lad ! 
his handsome young face will haunt me many a day." 

Here Rosie appeared with the tea. She pressed 
Kenmuir's hand affectionately. There was still a ri- 
gidity about her face that was more alarming than the 
most violent burst of grief, — a wild, horrified look, 
which made her blue eyes assume a shade of black. 

I looked out, fearing she had seen the arrival of 
the party, but they were not in sight. 

" What has she seen ? What does she suspect ? " 
I said to Kenmuir, as she turned to seek her father. 

" My God ! not what I do, or she will go mad," he 
said, passing his hand over his brow. 

What did he suspect? I had not the courage to 
press the inquiry. I felt that I had borne as much as 
I could, for that day, of horrible excitement. My 
head was beginning to feel as in a . dream of hideous 
phan tasmagoria. 

Mr. Naunton was much shocked, but on the whole 
somewhat relieved when he found that it was not his 
own child, and felt quite sure that now Zanita was 
safe somewhere. 

Presently Kenmuir intimated that the party was 
coming. I beguiled Rosie into my room at the other 
side of the house ; for there is something about the 



WAKING AND SLEEPING TERRORS. 271 

appearance of a corpse, however enveloped, which at 
once tells the sad fact that life is no more. Some 
shrinking consciousness we have that there has taken 
place some supernatural change, which has a sort of 
repulsion and terror for us ; and I wished to spare my 
darling this shock if possible. 

It was only a few moments before Kenmuir rapped 
at my door, saying, — 

" Mrs. Brown, you are wanted." 

Then turning to Rosie, I said, " They have brought 
him home, dear child, and I am going to him ; remain 
here unless I send for you ; try to prepare yourself for 
the worst. I can give you no hope." 

The same look 9f horror passed over her face, which 
she strove to hide in the pillow as I left her to attend 
the corpse of her lover. 

It was found impossible to remove any of the 
clothes ; so mutilated was the once graceful form, that 
it seemed held together only by the garments. We 
wrapt him in a sheet and tied a linen cloth about the 
head, leaving the fair white forehead uncovered. 

Ah ! how beautifiil he looked in death. I stooped 
and kissed his closed eyes, with their deep long lashes 
resting on the rounded cheeks where the remains of 
his brilliant color yet lingered, and my tears dropped 
softly on those curved and haughty lips which had ap- 
pealed so piteously to me but the day before. 

" life, so few the days we live ! 
Would that the boon which thou dost give • 

Were life indeed." 

But here was the end of the sad life drama, in which 
we had all played our parts ; and there lay the hero, 
with his secret forever locked within his marble lips. 
O, that they had told it yesterday, he had now been 



272 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

alive and happy, with our Rose-bud in his bosom ; for 
then he would never have gone with Zanita, who, no 
doubt, allured him into that mad danger. It was the 
opinion of all that he had fallen backwards from the 
projecting pinnacle of rock, which shelved out over the 
Valley from Glacier Point. No doubt he had turned 
giddy and lost his balance. 

" I think we ought to make a strong oak coffin, 
lined with cedar, and send him to his friends," said 
Kenmuir. 

" There is the difficulty," I said; "we know abso- 
lutely nothing of his antecedents." 

" Under the circumstances, I think we ought to look 
in his desk." 

We had taken from his pockets a few keys and 
trifling articles, and with one of them we opened the 
desk. There was a great deal of poetry, which seemed 
original, in his handwriting, and some letters, of no 
importance, addressed to Mr. Egremont. Only one 
contained a striking and mysterious inclosure. It con- 
/ sisted of a second envelope addressed to " His Highness 
the Prince Augustus of Cumberland ; " the letter was 
written in a delicate female hand, and commenced, 
" My dear husband." The whole letter was a strong 
i^ pathetic appeal to be taken back in the name of their 
former love, and of their child ; but the tenor of the 
communication left the impression that it had not been 
written by a wife or a lady. It concluded with a cu- 
riqus demand for a larger allowance. There was no 
date or address to this document; it was signed by 
\ the pet name " Maggy." 

Was it really addressed to our poor friend ; was that 
his true name, and did he preserve his incognito from 
some circumstantial necessity? All was a deep and 



WAKING AND SLEEPING TERRORS. 273 

terrible mystery ; but many expressions of Zanita's 
now recurred to my mind, which led to the belief that 
she, at least, had fathomed its depths. When she re- 
appeared, no doubt much would be explained. 

In the mean time old Mophead had gone to bring up 
the Indian, in order to have massed together all the 
knowledge of the language which the three possessed, 
— Naunton, Kenmuir, and himself. 

Bill,* who had come in with my husband, was a car- 
penter as well as a guide, and he set about the melan- 
choly task of making a coffin. Poor Mr. Naunton 
walked away, saying, in response to some suggestion 
from Bill, " I cannot give any directions about that 
work ; it takes me right back to that day when my 
sweet saint went to her home in heaven, and left the 
Valley but a gloomy wilderness to me. If she had 
taken the two little ones with her, I should have been 
thankful ; then we might all have gone together." 

Methlev here came in with the Indian, now untied. 
The former was shaking his old mophead dolefully. 

" I make no account' of him,*' he said. '* Where is 
Mu-wah ? He says that Mu-wah knows all about it ; 
but he has certainly seen our little lady on the Mono 
trail, unless the scamp is making up the story ; and I 
can't, for my life, see why he should." 

Mu-wah was not visible — had not been seen by any 
of us. Ah Chow said he had never returned from the 
deer feast; but this the Indian denied, and said that 
he had. It was nearly certain that the Indian knew 
whatever Mu-wah knew ; but was possessed with the 
notion that Mu-wah should reveal it himself, and again 
volunteered, — "Him fetch him." 

He was promised a dollar if he brought Mu-wah 
back before morning, for we all conceived the impres- 

18 



274 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

sion that Mu-wah was some way in league with Zanita 
in assisting her hiding. 

We all went to take an hour's rest, I looked in 
upon Rosie ; she was lying quite still, with her face in 
the pillow, but she looked up as I approached ; there 
was no sign of weeping, but her eyes wore the same 
awe-stricken expression. 

" Aunty," she said gently, " may I see him before — 
before " — and her soft lips quivered so that she could 
not finish the sentence. She made another eflPort and 
said, " I know what that hammering is ; they are put- 
ting the nails in my heart ! " 

That loving little heart had divined all. I pressed 
her in my arms, hoping that she might be moved to 
tears. 

" Rest to-night, darling, and to-morrow you shall 
see him ; his face is still beautiful." 

" Is it? " she answered, and the lips again quivered 
and prevented farther utterance. 

I lay down, but sleep, in the soothing oblivion which 
brings repose, visited me not. My soul seemed to go 
into a semi-trance : that mystic land of shadows, where 
our bitterest sufferings in actual life are intensified by 
a vague helplessness which seems to surround us. The 
mountains of granite which we have to traverse are 
endless, and boundless as the despair with which we 
continue to struggle to ascend them ; the sky pours 
down a flood of hot lava, or freezing snow, which an- 
nihilates us, and yet we seem to be surviving in death. 
We have no power, we give up and succumb under 
our misery ; we cannot lie down and die — this luxury 
of despair is denied us, 

I have- often thought that if man is doomed to eter- 
nal torment for his crimes, this vividly conscious dreana 



WAKING AND SLEEPING TERRORS, 275 

of agony m\jst be the realization of it ; for bitter as 
was the misery of our actual life at this moment, my 
dream was wrought up to be fifty times more wretched. 
Every spot I had visited on the previous day I was 
again toiling over, with feet more heavily weary and a 
heart bursting to overflowing. 

Poor Egremont's condition was more mangled, and 
the wretched portions of his limbs were constantly fall- 
ing away; his face was distorted, and excruciatingly 
painful. Yet I had to look at it, and I had no power 
to seek relief by turning away. The Indians were 
jabbering, like the blue jay, an unintelligible tongue, yet 
we were compelled to find out what they said. 

At last my soul, having traversed the dark paths of 
yesterday, continued the journey onward in search of 
Zanita : over the rocks and through the Upper Valley, 
where I seemed to see her in company with Mrs. 
Radd,— gliding like a ghostly phantom, whom we 
cried to in vain, and could not reach or touch, though 
we strained every nerve and sinew. She yet floated 
away, and still we had to follow, and follow in an 
agony of dread and anguish. Hither, thither, over 
rugged boulders, over great barriers of fallen trees, 
whose ragged arms pointing upward made a chevaux- 
de-friie over the boiling rapids of rushing torrents ; 
under the cascades of the Upper Valley, flowing from 
the endless melting snow of the huge sierras ; through 
the green rippling river, which, when we entered with 
our naked feet, seemed no longer water but coiling 
green and purple snakes, that hissed and sputtered as 
we passed. 

Still the soft white semblance swept on ; the folds 
of her muslin drapery, like the gauzy mist of the falls, 
left nothing in the eager grasp but moisture. Now we 



276 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

thought she was taking the Mono trail, anon that she 
would sweep up the inaccessible cafion of the outlet of 
the Valley. Yet as she is wafted toward the bare 
frowning side of Tis-sa-ack, there comes an indefinable 
superstition over us, — that we are chasing the goddess 
herself, and no longer Zanita. Up the side of that 
bold and austere height she rolls like a fleecy cloud of 
morning mist : what mortal steps can follow ! yet 
stop we cannot. Will Death enfold us in his cold em- 
brace at last ? No, we must go on, on. 

Our drooping forms are hurried on toward the fear- 
ful edge where six thousand feet overhang the Mirror 
Lake. 

If she is mortal she must be dashed to pieces there, 
and we must share her fate ; for we seem to have 
gained on her, and nearly touch her. On, onward 
she flies, and we pursue ; nearer, and nearer to the 
edge, — and now she is on the brink. We can see 
the surging world below more dizzily before us, and 
the lake shinmieririg in the moonlight. 

One plunge, and she is over 1 But I have caaght 
the white dress, and hold it firmly in my grasp, — the 
piece is left in my hand ! 

I awakened with a stifled cry. 

" O, husband I she is in the lake." 

" Who, dear ? " he answered. " You have had a 
nightmare, and woke me with your cry." 

" Zanita I " I gasped, wiping the perspiration from 
my brow. " I am persuaded that she is in the lake." 

I had grasped the sheet so convulsively that the 
marks were still fresh. The Professor endeavored to 
persuade me to sleep again. 

" O no!" I exclaimed, "not for the world; such 
agony I never experienced in my waking moments — 



WAKING AND SLEEPING TERRORS. 277 

a perfect hell of torments. Besides, they will all be 
ready to go out on the search again, and I am deter- 
mined to go to the Mirror Lake," 

I related my dream excitedly to Kenmuir, though 
not to Mr. Naunton. 

" Do not let this idea distress you," said Kenmuir, 
who nevertheless spoke as though he believed it every 
word, — " it is only a dream, and I had an idea mpelf 
of going there." 

I noticed the same dark look in his eyes, of which 
he seemed conscious, for he looked away as he con- 
tinued : " I will follow the trail you have dreamed of, 
and will come out on the shoulder of Tis-sa-ack, which 
walls in the lake ; you and the Professor can go there 
by the Valley route, and then, if we find nothing, 
we can all go up the canon together toward Lake 
Tomaya, and on to the Mono trail to meet Mu-wah ; 
and then I think we shall have encompassed her 
round." 

Thinking I would not awaken Rosie if she was 
asleep, we stole off quietly: Naunton and Kenmuir 
together on foot, and the Professor and myself on 
horseback. Ah Chow, who seemed aroused to the 
consciousness that the affairs transpiring were very im- 
portant, and that he ought to be equal to them, had 
prepared "a cold roast fowl, which hq divided between 
the parties, and insisted with a kindly smile upon our 
taking, saying, — 

" Him muchee care of Missy Rossy." 

" Take care of her, good Ah Chow," I said. But I 
hoped we might return ere she was fairly awake. 



CHAPTER XXV. 



IN HER mother's ARMS. 



The moon was just at her second rising above the 
Sentinel; it was a waning moon, which makes the 
commonest things of earth look unearthly. She cast 
a weird light over the north dome and royal arches ; 
and the manzanita, which cluster upon it, looked like 
the cavernous entrance to some enchanted castle or 
hobgoblin's cave — every dark archway was deeper 
and more unfathomable; and the round white dome, 
shining distinct in the bright light, completed the hal- 
lucination that this rock was some vast fortress of mid- 
night ghouls and uncanny spirits. 

Now and again we heard the sharp yelp of a wan- 
dering coyote as he prowled in search of prey. When 
we entered on the wooded rocky path, unearthly fig- 
ures seemed starting out of every projecting rock, or 
half concealing themselves behind the trunks of trees ; 
so strong was the impression of^my dream upon me, 
that I could not deter myself from riding around the 
strange objects to ascertain really what they might be. 
The charred trunks of trees presented the most hideous 
spectres to my distracted fancy ; and when a deep 
guttural sound reached my ears, I grasped my hus- 
band's arm with fright. 

" It is only a bear," he said ; " he will not molest us : 
do not be alarmed. I have my revolver in case of 
need. It was a relief to know it was anything so near 



IN HER MOTHERS ARMS, 279 

humanity as a bear, for they rarely take the offensive, 
and generally run away when attacked. 

I was fast losing my self-control. As we trod the 
steep rocky trail leading to the miniature lake, it 
seemed peopled with strange fant^^stic figures, which 
the water in the early summer had hidden from view, 
or only partially revealed, but now were lefl bare in 
the dry season: they were grotesque limbs of trees 
and rocks, scored deeply by the water at its various 
heights. The horses' hoofs sounded hollow as though 
passing over some subterranean world, and sent a dis- 
mal reverberation to the vast tower of See-wahlum, 
which marks the entrance to the Mirror Lake. 

As I knew the trail better than my husband, I had 
gone in advance, it not being wide enough to admit of 
two abreast. My attention was directed to the careful 
guiding of toy horse down a difficult bit of road over 
a slope of flat rock, down which he had to slide. As 
we turned the corner of the great portal into the 
mighty coliseum of granite mountains, the arena of 
which is the brightest Mirror Lake, set in, as it were, X, 
to reflect the whole, I expected to see it as I had done 
so often, with the dome of Tis-sa-ack reflected, and 
the brother peaks of Tocoyae, Hunto, and the smaller 
tower See-wahlum, communing together deep in the 
bowels of the earth, all nodding gravely with each 
ripple, like a state cabinet in solemn conclave on the 
affairs of the upper world. 

As I turned the corner, I raised my eyes, and the 
whole view of the lake was before me. I uttered a 
piercing cry, which the five echoes took up, and 
heralded around, shrieking from cliff to cliff, from tower 
to dome. 

** As though the fiends from heaven that fell 
Had pealed their banner cry of hell." 



i- 



280 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

For there was my dream revealed in stern reality be- 
fore me ; there was the shadow of the great mountains 
bending their giant heads together, and there lay 
Zanita stretched on the mirror, the centre figure. 

There was scarce a ripple on the lake, the silver 
sheen of the waning moon played over its surface and 
mingled with the folds of the white robe which lay 
floating upon it. The face was like whitest chiseled 
marble, framed in the dark locks which waved loosely 
around, and fell in long silky meshes over her bosom. 
She looked like a lovely picture on a silver disk, set in 
the depths of some bottomless gulf. Her hands were 
by her side, and her delicate taper fingers interlaced 
with the water, as if she were playing with quicksilver. 
Her eyes were closed, and the penciled eyebrows 
made a stern line across her Olympian broy^. There 
was an expression of firm endurance about the small 
mouth which had never deigned to complain. 

Long ere my eye had taken in all this, my husband 
had thrown his strong arm round to support me on my 
saddle ; and we sat together . gazing down upon her 
mute and motionless. All hope and all action were at 
-an end ; Death had held her for hours in his icy clasp. 
Calm, placid, and beautiful, around her the mighty 
death watchers towered up solemn and mournful in 
the melancholy moonlight ; underneath them, as she 
floated on the silver slieen, the stars shone out in the 
deepest blue, and her home seemed bright down there. 

The water of the lake had fallen perceptibly, having 
a broad band of white sand, which gleamed in the pale 
light like polished ivory, making a framework* for the 
green fringe of willows that bordered the lake. 

I felt stupefied and palsied at the discovery, and 
as though all energy of motion had suddenly left me. 



IN HER MOTHER'S ARMS. 281 

I had no wish to touch or move the phantom-like 
scene. It seemed as though my life and the world 
were come to an end, and that all was consummated ; 
my whole soul and faculties seemed entranced in my 
gaze. I felt no poignant grief or violent sorrow. I 
liad no sudden burst of anguish, of dread, of regret, 
or of horror. It seemed as though I had become pei^ 
fectly resigned to all that had transpired, and had no 
aspirations beyond. I was in close unison with the 
placid melancholy of the waning moon, — still, cold, 
and death-like. 

How long we sat our horses in tliis way I know not, 
my husband holding me softly to his breast* He 
knew well the condition of my overwrought system 
and brain, and knew best what to do. Presently I 
was rousfed by his saying, — 

" Isn't that Kenmuir and Naunton ? " 

I lifted my eyes for the first time from the scene ; 
and followed where he pointed to the sloping shoulder 
of Tis-sa-ack. We could descry the figures. The Pro- 
fessor waved his handkerchief, and thev returned the 
signal ; but they could hardly have discovered what 
lay in the lake. 

" He had better see her thus,'* I said ; and my hus- 
band raised his voice, and shouted, " Come here ! " 

The echo answered in sepulchral tone, " Here ! " and 
a second cried pitifully, " Here ! " and a third more 
moumftilly, " Here ! " and a mocking sigh, as from 
distant regions, echoed, " Here ! " 

I shuddered, and looked again in the lake, where 
the tall bowing heads of the mountains pointed to the 
figure tliat floated on the centre. " Here ! " they 
seemed to say, — " here is our child, the daughter of p^ 
All-wall-nee, returned to her native home." Again I 



282 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

shuddered, and looked up to Tis-sa-ack. They had 
seen it all. Naunton stood with his face buried in his 
hands ; he was not fascinated as I was : the grandeur 
and immensity of death overcame him. Kenmuir was 
urging the descent ; a few yards before him, my prac- 
ticed woman's eye lit upon something that was not a 
shimmering moonbeam playing on pulverized granite ; 
it was a strip of soft mull muslin ; it hung and fluttered 
from a contorted bough of chaparral, and then I knew 
how it had happened : from thence she had fallen, and 
was dead before she reached the water. All this I 
knew, but said it not ; we sat still again for another 
half hour, till the crackling of the branches announced 
the arrival of the two men, when I heard the con- 
vulsed sob of Mr. Naunton. It seemed to nerve me 
into life again, and an acute sympathetic pain 'grappled 
my heart. I jumped from my horse and approached 
him. 

" Ah ] don't leave her thus," he moaned. 

" See," I said, " look how beautiful she is ; this is 
not death as we regard it ; it is only a change as the 
oak-leaves change, and the ferns are golden, and the 
water dried into silver sand. The child of the moun- 
tain ! See how she sleeps in her cradle of glory." 

But he could not raise his head then, and never 
tnore, for the mountain tops never again saw his brill- 
iant eyes, or the heavens his upturned face. 

" Come away, then, and they will bring her." I led 
him by the arm, and we mounted our horses and rode 
away. 

Kenmuir had not spoken ; but I noticed that the 
fixed dark expression was still on his face, which the 
dusky light made almost ghastly. 

We paced home slowly and in silence ; dumbness 



IN HER MOTHER'S ARMS. 283 

seemed to possess us all, and reign over every other 
emotion. It might have been the shock, or the pe- 
culiarity of the circumstances, or that the tenderest 
passion of love was not awakened by the elf-like child. 
It was more a mystic entrancement than tender affec- 
tion. No heart-wrung cry of sorrow was heard from 
any one, and I felt that the scene was too appalling 
and grand to weep over. I thought Rosie would be 
the one to cry aloud. 

As we passed Kenmuir's cabin I noticed Ah Chow 
sitting on the step almost smothered in a whole bolt of 
white calico which I had brought from San Francisco 
for sheeting. I gazed with stolid wonderment upon him. 
Surely, I was getting light headed ! What could the 
man mean by unfolding my bolt of calico ? Uncer- 
tain if I saw aright, I jumped off my horse and ap- 
proached him. He pointed mysteriously toward the 
door with his thumb. 

" Missy Rossy muchee sorry ! " 

By degrees I comprehended that it required " much- 
ee " calico to make mourning according to Chinese 
fashion. Somewhat relieved as to my own state of 
mind I stepped into the hut, and there lay our Rosie 
half seated, half extended on the bier, her long fair 
curls bestrewing the cold immovable face of the dead. 
I put my arms around her. 

" Come, dear little one, come home with me ! " 

She arose mechanically without uttering a sound, 
and passed out with me. Ah Chow stood aside hesi- 
tating with the funeral calico. I shook my head to 
forbid any demonstration, and he submitted with that 
patience peculiar to Asiatics. 

As Rosie did not make any inquiries as to our suc- 
cess in finding her sister, I resolved to withhold the 



284 A TALE OF rUE YO- SEMITE. 

terrible truth from her as long as possible. When she 
arrived at the house she threw herself upon the divan 
and buried her face as before. 

I went in search of Horseshoe-Bill to send him to 
meet my husband and Kenmuir. I soon heard his 
voice in high confabulation with Mrs. Nell and Mop- 
head, who were helping him with his joinering. 

" I can't see no manner of use in putting of him in 
two coffins : he can't want a Sunday and a week-day 
suit. He has nothin' to do but lie there until the 
trumpet rouses him up at the last day, and I suppose 
the Almighty '11 attend to finding his missing pieces, as 
He does for other folks. I don't see no difference with 
this." 

" It is my opinion," said Methley, ." that he ought to 
be buried with military honor ; for the decoration I 
found is similar to those I saw worn by high officers on 
board the Bellerophon,^^ 

" O, you dry up with your millingtary blesserings. 
He's just one of your British adventurers as come 
over here a-swindling of honest folk with their titles 
and foldermirigs. I make no count on 'em, nohow ! 
I'd jest bury him like other folks. Wall ! I reckon 
he'll have to be sent home to his folks in England, 
and he'll need more nor one coffin to keep him all 
there. I reckon he 's a riorht to that, for he forked me 
out ten dollars when I brought him in here," said 
Bill. 

" Ah, I guess you know which side your bread is 
buttered ; but I guess it 's as likely he 's not left direc- 
tions for the superior 'commodation o' two coffins to be 
paid for." 

" You bet your life he has ! " responded Bill. 

I notified my presence, and explained in a few brief 
words* the misfortune which had befallen Zanita. 



IN HER MOTHERS ARMS. 285 

" Well, well ! " cried Bill, passing his sleeve over ' 
his face ostensibly to dry the perspiration, but really 
to wipe the tears from his eyes, — " I'd a backed that 
young 'un against a thousand doUairs never to have 
missed her footing. What could have ailed her? 
She must have been off her feet." 

" There ! " broke in Nell, triumphantly projecting 
her front tooth, — " there ! did I tell you or did I not ? 
I guess I don't say much as isn't gospel ! When I see 
her ghost come a-flyin' and a-callin' for help through 
the Upper Valley, I knew how as she was burglari- 
ously murdered, and I'd as lief bet a cinnamon bear- 
skin against a cent that this here Britisher, with his 
jewels and hifalutin airs and 'commodation of two 
coffins, is at the bottom of it." 

We all stared at Nell in horrified silence. I felt 
the tight grip on my heart again and my breath com- 
ing heavily. More horrors ! never to cease accumu- 
lating in this memorable twenty-four hours. 

" I did hear 'em a pitchin' into each other right 
smart one day when I was fishin' down below the Po- 
ho-no Falls," said Bill. " Darn me ! if he didn't jest 
rear and tear like a real lunatic ; and she kept on a J 
jeering and a spiting him. Then I thought Td better "^ 
be on hand to see fair play for Miss Zany, if he should 
think o' layin' hands on a woman. Tljere 's no tellin' 
what them furriners 'ill do. Now I wish I'd been on 
hand day 'fore yesterday. I don't believe in her fall- 
ing down there." 

I turned away faint with this new suspicion. Old 
Methley followed me sympathetically, and shaking his 
great mop like a good-natured lion tried to console me. 

" We must not lightly cast suspicion upon a distin-x^ 
guished member of a friendly power like Great Brit- 



286 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

ain. Of course if he had survived we should doubt- 
less have been under the necessity of confining him in 
my casde, and I should have posted myself as honorary 
guard until everything had been cleared up — as it 
was thought fit to do with the Great Napoleon at St. 
Helena, — just to keep him out of mischief. But now 
tliat he is dead I would not dishonor his grave," 

" But supposing he were alive," I said faintly, 
" would you think he had something to do with Zani- 
ta's death ? " 

" I should say that he pushed her over the shoulder 
of Tis-sa-ack in a fit of passion." 

" Good God I " I ejaculated. " How, then, do you 
now account for his death ? " 

" Suicide," replied my companion, deliberately ; 
" suicide, madam. You remember some little time 
ago," continued Methuselah, falling back on his mem- 
ory some fifty years, — " the British Prime Minister, 
Lord Castlereagh, whom Byron satirized a^ ' Carotid 
Artery-cutting Castlereagh ? ' " — 

My heart was too riven with anguish to enter into 
the discussion, and he continued, — 

" But I would bury him with honors if he cannot 
be sent home to his friends." 

" What I " I said, anxious to put to the test the sus- 
picion he had jBxpressed, — " would you confer honor 
upon one whom you believe to be a murderer and a 
suicide ? " 

" We do not know for certain that he is, madam ; 
but the suppositions are strong, that having been seen 
last together alive and found dead apart, that they did 
not each fall from a separate rock by accident. And 
no mountaineer will believe that our young Vestal of 
Tis-sa-ack fell from her high altar, or that she flmig 



IN HER MOTHERS ARMS. 287 

up her young life willingly. Her father, for one, will 
never believe she fell by accident. On the other 
hand, this British stranger going alone to such a narrow 
slip of projecting rock as ' Glacier Point,' and falling 
therefrom, after parting with his sweetheart, indicates^ 
suicide. You know best, madam, if he had any motive 
for committing this damned deed ? " cried the old man, 
excitedly. 

I dared not answer the question. The uncontrol- 
lable vehemence Egremont had shown when last speak- 
ing of Zanita rose to my memory and kept me silent- 
Methuselah, with delicate perception, changed the 
subject. 

" How is poor Naunton ? " he said. " How does he 
bear it ? " 

" I greatly fear it may be his death," I said. " He 
does not seem able to endure deep grief." 

" Some of us are not," he replied. " It kills the 
soul if not the body. Seventy-five years ago I was a 
young man and wooed a young girl. We kept com- 
pany in New England fashion, — became one life, one 
heart, and one soul. Well ! she died. She went 
away, and took with her that part of my soul which 
she alone possessed ; and here I stand alone, and have 
never been the same man since and never shall be . 
again I " sighed old Mophead, " for I am getting old. 
I've never been the same man this seventy-five 
years." 

Mr. Naunton was still in his room, and as I re- 
ceived no answer to my knock I judged it better to 
leave him to himself. 

Fortunately when the sad cortSge arrived we were 
able to bear the poor girl to her own little room with- 
out the knowledge of father or daughter. 



288 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

" I guess I'll fix her up an elegant corpse ! " cried 
Nell. " It would be real mean to bury her as you did 
her mother 1 " 

"I don't think her father will allow her to be 
touched, but you can ask him." 

" What I bury her in them sink-rags ? Well, if he 
isn't a queer cuss, you bet your life ! He 's as con- 
trairy as Dick's hatband, as went nine times round and 
wouldn't tie I I guess we'll have a right-smart time 
with him afore we get her buried, anyhow ! As to 
t'other," she continued, wagging her head in the di- 
rection of the cabin, — "I make no account of fixin' a 
corpse that 's mashed up like hog's head cheese. He'll 
be all right if he gets his two coffins. It 's all them 
Britishers cares for I " 

The " smart time " prophesied by Nell soon came 
about, for although Oswald Naunton was not violent 
as he had been at the death of his wife, yet grief had 
transformed him into a different man. He remained 
shut up in his own room, refusing sympathy, and food, 
and conversation on any point. 

I was anxious to know where he would like his 
child buried, and if Egremont was to be laid along- 
side, — awaiting instructions from his friends. After 
many ineffectual efforts, I succeeded in procuring the 
laconic direction, — 

" Bury her with her mother ! " 

'' And Mr. Egremont — shall we lay him by her 
side ? " 

" No ! Curse him I " thundered Naunton, rising and 
pacing the room with long strides. " Pitch him into 
the deepest pool in the river ! Burn him on the top of 
the highest mountain, and cast his ashes to the winds ! 
Fling him over the Po-ho-no Fall ! Cast him into hell- 



IN HER MOTHERS ARMS. 289 

fire forever I " shrieked the wretched father. " My 
child ! my beautiful child ! " — and he covered his 
face with his hands and moaned aloud. 

It was useless to offer words of consolation. The 
conclusion his mind had arrived at was evidently that 
of Nell and Methley, — the terrible one that his child 
had been murdered by the English stranger, and the 
anguish and horror of the thought was driving him 
mad. There was no comfort for him but time. 

From the father I went to the daughter, and, to my 
surprise, found her in eager conversation with Ken- 
muir, the latter half supporting her with his arm. 
They were gazing into each other's eyes with the same 
appalled expression of dismay I had noticed from the 
first, as though they had seen some fearful spectre 
which froze up every other emotion. They became 
silent as I approached, as though they had resolved to 
spare me the vision^ whatever it might be. It could not 
be the same idea as the father's, or Rosie would never 
have spent the night by her dead lover, had she be- 
liev^ed him to be the murderer of her sister, 

I next sought my husband, my refuge under every 
emergency ; for I was fast losing my presence of mind 
in this rush of inscrutable events. 

" Dear John," I said, " is not the mystery of this 
tragedy terribly crushing ? I feel almost overpowered 
by it. What is the suspicion which is transfixing poor 
Rosie and Kenmuir with horror ? Do you know ? " 

*' Yes," he replied ; " and if you feel that you can 
bear it, I will tell you all about it. But mind I do not 
agree with the hypothesis, nor still less with that of 
Mr. Naunton. I do not agree with any of them. I 
take a different view altogether." He always did take 
a different view of everything from every one, 

19 



I 



fcfc 



290 A TALE OF TEE YO-SEMITE. 

** We met the two Indians," continued the Profess- 
or, " whom Radd was bringing in. Mu-wah is nearly 
out of his senses with some great fear which has seized 
upon him, and is altogether incoherent. His com- 
panion corroborates with a nod and a grunt every in- 
congruity that Mu-wah asserts." 

What do they say ? " I broke in impatiently. 
I am coming to that, my dear. In substance noth- 
ing more than that they saw Zanita and a white man 
out on Palel-lima, or Glacier Point. ' They muchee 
talkee,' which means they were disputing, I suppose." 

" Good heavens," I exclaimed, " surely she never 
pushed him over ? " And I seized my husband by 
both arms, in my eagerness to bring out the fatal secret. 

" Be calm, my dear. I made that stipulation with 
you, you know. Rosie and Kenmuir suspect what you 
have just intimated. Of course without premedita- 
tion, but they think that she gave him a push in her 
impulsive, fierce, bitter way. A very slight push 
would send a man backwards from that point." 

*' Fearful, fearful ! " and a rush of tears came to my 
relief. 

" But," continued the Professor, " Radd says that 
there are man's foot-prints leaving the point ; and the 
Indians are rather confused in a statement that they 
saw them upon the Mono trail. Now my impres- 
sion is, that Zanita had been in one of her aggra- 
vating moods; that she had taken him to Glacier 
Point to show him the 'kingdom of the earth,' 
which he might possess if he wedded her, and subse- 
quently carried him on to Tis-sa-ack ; that there she 
ventured to the very brink for the sole purpose of 
tormenting him ; that he, under terrible fear, had 
attempted to withhold her, —:- the most fatal thing he 



ft' 



IN HER MOTHERS ARMS. 291 

could do under the circumstances ; that she, in defi- 
ance, and scorning his help, had missed her footing and / 
pitched headlong over the brow of Tis-sa-ack. The 
piece of her dress hanging on the bushes denotes she 
has fallen, and I do not for one moment entertain the 
idea that Egremont has murdered her. If you will 
think of it, my dear, such a thing is not at all compati- 
ble with his character," 

" Well, then, who hg.s murdered him ? " I said, 
repeating the word inadvertently. 

" I do not see any grounds for the supposition that 
he was murdered," reasoned the Professor ; " that is 
where all draw illogical deductions. It in no way fol- 
lows as an inevitable sequence that because a man is 
found dead in the cleft of a rock a few thousand feet 
below a platform, upon which he was last seen alive, 
that he has been murdered." 

'* Then you think, like Methley, that he committed 
suicide ? " I cried, becoming every moment more con- 
fused in my ideas. 

" No ! certainly not : why suicide ? He had sought 
Rosie's affection, and obtained it. He did not care for 
Zanita, who was the obstacle, and she is suddenly re- 
moved from liis path. Why should he destroy himself? 
The thing is preposterous. Why is it that human 
nature ever delights to duplicate horrors ? Don't you 
see, my dear, that when the rash girl fell from his grasp 
he could not follow her ; but had to retrace his steps 
at his greatest speed, under the utmost excitement and 
anguish, to seek for help in the Valley. Mechanically 
he would retrace the track she had brought him. He 
would come round that sharp curve on to that dizzy 
height unexpectedly, and at a random speed ; would ^ 
suddenly perceive the danger of his position, launched. 



292 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE. 

as it were, between earth and heaven. His brain 
would reel, vertigo would ensue ; he would overbal- 
ance, and have passed into eternity in less space of 
time than it has taken me to describe it. Few moun- 
taineers would walk out upon that narrow projection 
of rock without nerving themselves for the feat ; 
even Kenmuir would not run out upon it ; and for 
a person unaccustomed to mountain heights to rush 
upon it without warning, and in a great state of 
mental excitement, every nerve and muscle strained to 
the highest tension of haste and suspense, would ob- 
viously result in certain destruction." 

" Then vou believe it to be a series of accidents 
happening in a sort of sequence ? " 

" Unquestionably, to my mind accident is the solu- 
tion of the whole terrible affair," replied the Professor. 

I cannot say that this view of the matter thoroughly 
convinced me ; or that I quite coincided with Kenmuir 
or Methley ; my mind remained in an undecided neu- 
tral condition, more painful to the nerves than any 
positive conviction. For the mind accustoms itself to 
the most painful catastrophes ; but uncertainty goads 
like an open sore that heals not. 

My poor Zanita, without being ^"^ fixed up^'* was 
laid, embalmed only in our pity, beside her mother, — 
her father, Rosie, and Kenmuir declining to attend 
the funeral, although, as I well knew, from different 
motives : the former, because he could not bear to 
look upon his grief; and the other two, because they 
did not dare that others should witness their want of it. 

Poor Rosie shut up her gentle soul within herself, 
and seemed to have no confidence to impart the dread- 
ful secret that had darkened her young life to any one 
but Kenmuir, who shared it with her. Mr. Naunton 



IN HER MOTHERS ARMS. 293 

• 

kept Ins room, and was unapproachable to my husband, 
myself, or any one, and after the funeral I felt that 
I had no longer any mission in the Valley. Old Me- 
thuselah had taken possession of the double coffin with 
the remains of the mysterious Egremont, and had hid- 
den it away from the father's vengeance in one of the p^ 
moss-clad grottoes in the rocks, a natural mausoleum, 
where it may remain to the present day, for we never 
were able to discover his relatives, or any one who 
knew him more than casually. 

He had appeared as a mystery, and so remained to 
the end, and was one of a class of the extraordinary 
characters which may be met every day in California. 
He might have been a prince who had forfeited liis 
principality, or the son of a princess who had made 
disgrace his portion, or a murderer, or an escaped 
felon : we never knew more than that. He had the 
manners, breeding, and education of a gentleman, if 
not the principles. 

But now the end had come, the past was irrevoc- 
able, and my husband sought by every means to divert 
my thoughts from dwelling upon it. We soon, there- 
fore, took our farewell of the Valley of Ah-wah-nee 
forever. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

FINIS. 

We returned home ; but my health and nerves had 
received a shock which I could not overcome, and 
months of weary restless suffering passed on. My 
heart was too full of sorrow to enjoy anything, and thus 
the monotony of my life was fast eating into my 
natural vitality. 

At length my husband proposed our going to Eu- 
rope ; not, as he said, entirely on my account, as he 
did not wish me to suppose myself so ill ; but because 
there were several geologists for whom he had the 
highest respect, yet with whom he was most anxious 
to hold an aroniment. 

Thus four months after the tragedy of the Valley 
saw us landing m Southampton. Change of scene 
and habit wrought that marvelous revolution in my 
feelings which no medicine, spiritual or material, could 
accomplish. 

The Professor disputed to his heart's content ; and 
then went on to Switzerland to make more explora- 
tions. 

" My dear," said my husband one day, pulling out 
a pocketful of dirty stones, '' I do not think this moun- 
tain air agrees with you. You are looking sick and 
weary again." 

" It is not the air," I said, " but the recollections 



/ 



FINIS. 295 

which the scenery recalls. It makes me nervous ; I 
cannot deny it." 

" Let us go to Italy ! " said the Professor. " We 
will see the Thorwaldsen Lion, and then we will 
depart." 

We were gazing on that far-famed work of art in 
rapt admiration, when a firm hand was placed on my 
arm, and, turning, I beheld the glad honest face of 
Kenmuir. Only the face, for the rest was a travelling ^ 
suit of Tweed, and leaning upon him was the graceful 
figure of Cozy. 

Explanation was scarcely necessary. They were on 
their honeymoon trip, " Walking in fresh gardens of 
the Lord," as Kenmuir phrased it ; for in nothing else 
save his Scotch suit was he changed from the moment 
I had first seen him upon that fatal point of Palel- 
lima. 

The news from the Valley was the usual tidings of 
death and marriage, — the former, poor Mr. Naunton, 
and the latter, their own. ' 

Nell and Radd went on as usual, RoUo assisting in 
the household, and pioneering Radd when he had sold 
too many skins to see his own way. Old Mophead 
would doubtless live as long as the famous Dr. Parr ; 
and even the present generation of babies may hope 
to see him if they visit the Valley of Yo-semite some 
twenty years hence. 

Horseshoe Bill conveyed travellers into the Valley, 
never failing to relate, " That horrible mash as took 
place of two human beings in this here spot ! " The 
traveller would examine the place where love and 
jealousy had wrought out their ends, gatlier a flower, 
and sigh, " Alas, poor Zanita I What a poetical name I 



296 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE, 

Is there any more champagne ? Do their ghosts haunt 
the place ? " and so pass on. 

And thus we all pass on through light and shade, — 
through life's joys and crimes, — till we come to the 
end, and the Angel of Death writes up Finis. 



V . 



i^i 



r