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TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE
PUBLISHED BY HURD AND HOUGHTON
tTflininHae: Ufbcrtfilir l^xtii
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRAIY
THE BEQUEST OF
FVERT MNSf N WiNBRlik
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by
HURD AND IIOUGHTON,
in tlie Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
8TSRK0TTPKD AND PKINTSD BT
H. 0. HOUGHTON AND COMPANT.
A Strange Guide 10
The Dauohtebs of Ah-wah-nee 15
A Day's Pijbasurb . 24
The Fall of the Mercede 44
TkE Radds at Home . 56
The Episode of a Kiss . . . . . . . 68
A Return to the Valley 75
Ah-wah-nee . 83
More than a Handful 100
CHAPTER XII. pAGt
Bkeaches op Decokum 124
Zanita's Schooling 131
Zakita among the Nuns 140
A New-comer 148
A Shadow falling befoke ,162
An Apologt for Love . .... . , ,175
New Symptoms and a Bbcodrse to Nature . . .188
Au Revoir 199
A New Bud 216
Peering over the Edge . . . . . \ « 229
The Creeping Shadow . 238
Over the Brink 252
Waking and Sleeping Terrors 267
In her Mother's Arms . . . . . . . . . 278
A TALE OF THE TO-SEMITE.
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
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
" 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
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.
6 A TALE OF THE YO-SEMITE.
" Can I do anything for you ? " asked Kenmuir
" 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
« 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
Horse-shoe Bill remarked my puzzled expression.
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.
" 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.
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 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
"Hal ha!" laughed Kenmuir, "you're a fine
" 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
" 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
Kenmuir had got one more temptation — the moon-
" 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
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.
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
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-
"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
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
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
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-
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
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
" 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
" 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-
" 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
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
" Yes," I replied, " and also how singular is the hor-
izontal growth of the limbs, while the main body is so
" 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
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
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
'* 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
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.
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
" 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 —
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-
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-
" 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
" 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
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-
" 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
"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
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.
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
" 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
" 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
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.
" 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.
* 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
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
" 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
" 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-
" 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.
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
" 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-
" 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
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
" Well, come and see us any way," reiterated Mr.
Naunton, and we- rose to resume our journey.
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-
" How do you maintain that hypothesis," I ex-
" 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
" 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-
" 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
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
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
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
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."
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
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
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
" 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
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
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*
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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" A real pluie de perles^^^ I exclaimed.
" Or Naiad's tears," responded Radd, " weeping that
Venus has usurped the loves of the golden backed
" 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
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 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/ "
" 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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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-^
" 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
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
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 ? "
" 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
" 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
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
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-
** O, nonsense I " he cried, '* there is nothing to be
afraid of when the Lord manifests himself in his om-
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-
" * 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
" 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
The rencontre with the burial of the poor Indian
struck us both as ominous of the future we were about
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
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
" 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,"
" 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
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
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-
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-
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
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.
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
" He said he wanted to buy groceries," pleaded Mr.
" 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
"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
" 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-
" 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-
Here Zanita came bounding along looking like a big
dragon-fly. Her long thin arms and legs extended in
" 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,
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
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
" 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
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
" 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
"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
The " good boy " looked very happy, and did as he
I drew the manzanita easy-chair close to the bed.
" I will rest for a little while," she said, and closed
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 ? "
"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
" 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
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
now, my darling. I will not leave you ; so go to sleep,
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
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-
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-
" 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
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."
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
" 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-
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
" 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
I took some of her best loved flowers and planted
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
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.
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
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
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-
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-
" Zanita ! Zanita 1 " I exclaimed, " stop lashing
your horse ; he will lose his footing and go over the
"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
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
" 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-
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,
" 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-
" 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-
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
" 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
" 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,
"O dear!" I. cried, clinging to my husband's
arm, " then it can't be Zanita ; she was only lost this
" 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-
" 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
" 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
114 A TALE OF THE TO-SEMITE.
gleam of half discomfited mischief in her roguish
" 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
"Now, Zanita, tell me, were you not upon that
" 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-
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
My husband, and I exchanged glances of intelli-
" 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
" 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-
'* 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
"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
" 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-
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
" 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 "
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
Havincr retreated behind her last fastness and unable
to make terms, she yielded at discretion and whis-
" In the wood-shed."
" Come, then," I said, taking her hand, " let us find
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-
" 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
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
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
" 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
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
" 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
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.
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-
" 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
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-
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
" 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,
" 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
'* Say ! " cried Zanita running to the door as I was
politely bowing him out, " have you got any little
girls ? "
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
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."
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
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
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-
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
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-
" 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.
. 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
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
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
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-
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.
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.
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-
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
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
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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
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
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-
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-
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
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."
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
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-
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
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
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-
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
" 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
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
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
] i-.Oi i.
it 1 "■ " * ►*■
SI - — XJ »*
where it miL
toijether, woi _ . ^ „.,
and al thou III 1 ^
murderer for ; ' . ^- >
'I. •* —
I was the mo: .., .
ion wlien I n
When I ex^ '
ino[ him w^ani.
dered me, the ;
after wave, as
thought of my
A sad, pitlCui
as of a child tin:
my heart relent
him exactly my
upon his honor.
from Zanita. i
upon, — a sinii'
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;-
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
" 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
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.
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
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
" 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
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.
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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
"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
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
" And there is Egremont rising up behind her," I
said, tracing out the figure, "and about to push her
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
" 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
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
" 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
" Had we not better send for a doctor ? " I sug-
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
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
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
" 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
" 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."
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-
" 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-
"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."
^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-
" 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
" 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
" 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,
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.
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
" 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
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
" 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."
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
" 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
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
" Are you alone, ma'am ? " she said in a sepulchral
" 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
" 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-
" 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
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
• 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-
" 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
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
She shaded her eyes with her hand as if to take a
" 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
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
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
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
"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
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-
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
" 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
" She has no poetry in her soul, obviously," said the
" 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
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
" 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
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
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
" 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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
" Is not this glorious ? " he said, surveying nature
around us, and cleverly ignoring the awkwardness of
" 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
" 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-
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
" 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
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
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
This was sure to provoke a laugh from Oswald
Nan n ton.
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.
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
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
" 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
" 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.
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
" I fear you have done that without leave," I said,
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
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
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 ;
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
** 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
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.
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
" 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
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
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
** 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
" ' 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
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
" 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
" 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
*' 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
*' 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.
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
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
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."
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
" 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
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
" 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
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
" In a white mull muslin dress ! " I exclaimed, ir-
ritably. " It will not look much like down to-morrow
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
'" What is it, darling? " I said, caressing her glossy-
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
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
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,
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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,
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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 —
" Returned to the bosom of her mater natur<B^'* he
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.
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
" 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
" 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
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
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-
" 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
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
"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-
" 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
*' 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
" 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
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
" I think these are our tracks," said Rosie, examin-
ing. " O yes ! " she cried, and burst into an agonized
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
" 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
" 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
''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
" 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
" 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
" 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
This I dared not do, but it sent a thrill of pleasure
through my heart I had not experienced for twenty-
" 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-
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-
" 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
" 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
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
" 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.
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-
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
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
" 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
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
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
" 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-
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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.
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
** As though the fiends from heaven that fell
Had pealed their banner cry of hell."
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,
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
" 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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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,
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
" 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
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,
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
" 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
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
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
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
The Professor disputed to his heart's content ; and
then went on to Switzerland to make more explora-
" 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
" It is not the air," I said, " but the recollections
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
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-
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.