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THE GOLDEN GATE.

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BENJ. F. TAYLOR,

AUTHOR OF "SONGS OF YESTERDAY," "OLD-TIME PICTURES," "WORLD ON
WHEELS," "CAMP AND FIELD" ETC.

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS.

CHICAGO:
S. C. G-RIGGS AND COMPANY.
1878.

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MRS. MARY SCRANTON BRADFORD,
OF CLEVELAND, OHIO,

WHOSE DAILY DEEDS OF NOBLE KINDNESS HAVE
BRIGHTENED MANY A LIFE AND BEAUTIFIED
HER OWN, THIS BOOK OF DAYS OF
SUNSHINE IS AFFECTIONATELY
INSCRIBED BY HER

RELATIVE AND FRIEND.

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CONFIDENTIAL.

THE only care-free, cloudless summer of my life, since childhood, was spent in California. The going there was a delight, and the leaving there a regret.

This gypsy of a book has few facts and not a word of fiction; not so much as a dry fagot of statistics or a wing-feather of a fancy.

" How do you like California?" was the daily question, and to the uniform reply came the quick rejoinder: "Ah, but you should see it in the winter, for the summer is in the winter."

The writer sympathizes with any reader who misses what he seeks in this small volume, and can only soften " the winter of our discontent" by saying: Ah, but you should know "what pain it was to drown" what had to be omitted!

Perhaps we two may meet again in the groves of Los Angeles, when the oranges are in the gold and the almond blossoms shine.


 

 

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CONTENTS.

OVERLAND TRAIN

" SET SAIL"

PREFACE. CHAPTER I. CHAPTER II.

FROM VALLEY TO MOUNTAIN -

CHAPTER III.

WONDERLAND TO BUGLE CANON -

CHAPTER IV.

THE DESERT, THE DEVIL AND CAPE HORN

CHAPTER V.

FROM WINTER TO SUMMER

CHAPTER VI.

SAN FRANCISCO STREET SCENES

CHAPTER VII.

THE ANIMAL, MAN -   -

"John," the Heathen

" Hoodlum," the Christian Picnics   -   -

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6   CONTENTS.

 

CHAPTER VIII.

 

COAST, FORTY-NINERS AND CLIMATE   -   -

-   94

The Pacific Breezes   -

-   101

Weather on Man   -   -

-   103

_   CHAPTER 1X.

 

GOING TO CHINA   -   -   ••   -

-   106

A Chinese Restaurant   -   -

108

" We'll All Take Tea"

-   109

The Joss-House and the Gods

110

"Twelve Packs in his Sleeve"

114

An Opium Den   -

115

The Opium-Smoker's Dream   -

-   116

"The Royal China Theatre"   -

-   118

"The Play's the Thing"   -   -

-   119

The Orchestra   -   -

-   121

CHAPTER X.

 

MISSION DOLORES AND THE SAINTS   -   -

-   124

The Old Graveyard

126

The Saints   -

-   128

CHAPTER XI.

 

VALLEY RAMBLES AND A CLIMB   -   -

-   131

A Dead Lift at a Live Weight

133

On the High Seas

140

The Hog's Back   -   -   -

143

CHAPTER XII.

 

THE GEYSERS    

-   146

CHAPTER XIII.

 

THE PETRIFIED FOREST   -   -   -   -

156


 

 

CONTENTS.   7

CHAPTER XIV.

HIGHER AND FIRE

CHAPTER XV.

A MINT OF MONEY

Aladdin's Cave

Is it Worth it   - Washing-Day

Midas's Kitchen - Bricks and Hoop-Poles Weighing Live Stock "The Golden Dustman"

CHAPTER XVI.

BOUND FOR THE YO SEMITE   -

Taking a Mountain A Mountain Choir

"The Ayes Have It" Down the Mountains The Big Trees   -

A Forest Ride   -

First Glimpse of the Yo Semite Through the Valley   - The Grand Register -

El Capitan   - The Bridal Veil

Mirror Lake

Up a Trail

Yo Semite Fall and Sun Time Breaking up Camp -

166

174 177 180 182 183 184 189 190

192 200 201 ' 202 203 205 209 210 214 217 221 222 224 227 232 236


 

 

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XVII. WHALES, LIONS AND WAR DOGS

Seals   -   - The Golden Gate

CHAPTER XVIII. A TRIP TO THE TROPIC

A Difficult Sunrise

The Tehachapi Love-Knot

The Mojave Desert A Vegetable Acrobat

The Mirage   -   -

The City of the Angels The Orange Groves The Vineyards

"A Bee Ranch" -

The Mission of San Gabriel

The Garden   -

CHAPTER XIX. KINGS OF SOCIETY

Latitudes -

The Spirit of California The Men and Women Home Again -


 

 

BETWEEN THE GATES.

OVERLAND TRAIN.

1.

FROM Hell Gate to Gold Gate FROM

the Sabbath unbroken, A sweep continental

And the Saxon yet spoken!

By seas with no tears in them,

Fresh and sweet as Spring rains,

By seas with no fears in them,

God's garmented plains,

Where deserts lie down in the prairies' broad calms, Where lake links to lake like the music of psalms.

II.

Meeting rivers bound East

Like the shadows at night,

Chasing rivers bound West

Like the break-of-day light,

Crossing rivers bound South

From dead winter to June,

From the marble-old snows

To perennial noon — Cosmopolitan rivers, Mississippi, Missouri,

That travel the planet like Jordan through Jewry.

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OVERLAND TRAIN.   11

And this world glancing back with a colorless face. Who marvels Mount Sinai was the State House of God? Who wonders the Sermon down old Galilee flowed? That the Father and Son each hallowed a height Where the lightnings were red and the roses were white! Oh, Mountains that lift us to the realm of the Throne, A Sabbath-day's journey without leaving our own, All day ye have cumbered and beclouded the West, Low glooming, high looming, like a storm at its best, By distance struck speechless and the thunder at rest.

v.

All day and all night

It is rattle and clank, All night and all day

Smiting space in the flank,

And no token those clouds Will ever break rank. Still the engines' bright arms

Are bared to the shoulder

In the long level pull

Till the mountains grow bolder.

Ah! we strike the up grade!

We are climbing the world!

And it rallies the soul

Like volcanoes unfurled,

Where it looks like the cloud that led Moses of old, And the pillar of fire born and wove in one fold From the womb and the loom of abysses untold.


 

12   BETWEEN THE GATES.

VI.

We strike the Great Desert

With its wilderness howl, With its cactus and sage,

With its serpent and owl, And its pools of dead water,

Its torpid old streams, The corpse of an earth

And the nightmare of dreams;

And the dim rusty trail

Of the old Forty-nine,
That they wore as they went

To the mountain and mine,
With graves for their milestones;

How slowly they crept,

Like the shade on a dial

Where the sun never slept,

But unwinking, unblinking, from his quiver of ire Like a desolate besom the wilderness swept

With his arrows of fire.

VII.

Now we pull up the globe! It is grander than flying, 'Mid glimpses of wonder that are grander than dying, Through the gloomy arcades shedding winter and drift, By the bastions and towers of omnipotent lift, Through tunnels of thunder with a long sullen roar, Night ever at home and grim Death at the door.

We swing round a headland,

Ah! the track is not there!


 

 

OVERLAND TRAIN.   13

It has melted away

Like a rainbow in air!

Man the brakes! Hold her hard! We are leaving the world!

Red flag and red lantern unlighted and furled.

Lo, the earth has gone down like the set of the sun—Broad rivers unraveled turn to rills as they run—Great monarchs of forest dwindle feeble and old — Wide fields flock together like the lambs in a fold — Yon head-stone a snow-flake lost out of the sky That lingered behind when some winter went by!

Ah, we creep round a ledge

On the world's very edge,

On a shelf of the rock

Where an eagle might nest,

And the heart's double knock

Dies away in the breast

We have rounded Cape Horn! Grand Pacific, good morn!

VIII.

Now the world slopes away to the afternoon sun — Steady one! Steady all! The down grade has begun. Let the engines take breath, they have nothing to do, For the law that swings worlds will whirl the train

through.

Streams of fire from the wheels,

Like flashes from fountains;

And the dizzy train reels

As it swoops down the mountains : And fiercer and faster


 

 

14   BETWEEN THE GATES.

As if demons drove tandem

Engines "Death" and "Disaster!"

From dumb Winter to Spring in one wonderful hour; From. Nevada's white wing to Creation in flower! December at morning tossing wild in its might—A June without warning and blown roses at night!

DOUBLING CAPE HOBN.

Above us are snow-drifts a hundred years old, Behind us are placers with their pockets of gold, And mountains of bullion that would whiten a noon, That would silver the face of the Harvesters' moon. Around us are vineyards with their jewels and gems,

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OVERLAND TRAIN.   15

Living trinkets of wine blushing warm on the stems, And the leaves all afire

With the purple of Tyre.

Beyond us are oceans of ripple and gold,

Where the bread cast abroad rolls a myriad fold—Seas of grain and of answer to the prayer of mankind, And the orange in blossom makes a bride of the wind, And the almond tree shines like a Scripture in bloom, And the bees are abroad with their blunder and boom — Never blunder amiss, for there's something to kiss Where the flowers out-of-doors can smile in all weather, And bud, blossom and fruit grace the gardens together. Thereaway to the South, without fences and bars, Flocks freckle the plains like the thick of the stars; Hereaway to the North, a magnificent wild,

With dimples of canons, as if Universe smiled. Ah! valleys of Vision,

Delectable Mountains

As grand as old Bunyan's,

And opals of fountains,

And garnets of landscapes,

And sapphires of skies,

Where through agates of clouds

Shine the diamond eyes.

Ix.

We die out of Winter in the flash of an eye,

Into Eden of earth, into Heaven of sky;

Sacramento's fair vale with its parlors of God,

Where the souls of the flowers rise and drift all abroad,


 

 

16   BETWEEN THE GATES.

As if resurrection were all the year round

And the writing of Christ sprang alive from the ground, When He said to the woman those words that will last When the globe shall grow human with the dead it has

clasped.

Live-oaks in their orchards, rare exotics run wild, No orphan among them, each Nature's own child. Oh, wonderful land where the turbulent sand

Will burst into bloom at the touch of a hand,

And a destrt baptized

Prove an Eden disguised.

x.

There's a breath from Japan

Of an ocean-born air, Like the blue-water smell

In an Argonaut's hair! 'Tis a carol of joy

With a sweep wild and free;

And the mountains deploy

Round the Queen of the West,

Where she sits by the sea—By the Occident sea

In her Orient vest, Babel Earth at her knee, And the heart of all nations

Alive in her breast—Where she sits by the Gate

With its lintels of rock,

And the key in the lock—


 

 

17

OVERLAND TRAIN.

By the Lord's Golden Gate,

With its crystal-floored chamber,

And its threshold of amber,

Where encamped like a king,

The broad world on the wing, Her grand will can await. Where now are the dunes, The tawny half-moons

Of the sands ever drifting, Of the sands ever sifting, By the shore and the sweep Of the sea in its sleep? Where now are the tents,

With their stains and their rents. All landward and seaward

Like white butterflies blown? All drifted to leeward,

All scattered and gone. And this uttermost post

Of earth's end is the throne Of the Queen- of the Coast, Who has loosened her robe And girdled the globe

With her radiant zone—The throb of her pulses

Has fevered the Age—She has silvered and gilded

All history's page!

She has spoken mankind, 1*


 

 

18   BETWEEN THE GATES.

And has uttered her ships Like the eloquent words

From most eloquent lips — They have flown all abroad Like the angels of God! Sails fleck the world's waters

All bound for the Gate, All their bows to the Bay,

Like the finger of Fate. Child of the wilderness

By deserts confined,

Wide waters before her,

Wild mountains behind, She unlocks her treasures

To the gaze of mankind.

Her name is translated into each human tongue,

Her fame round the curve of the planet is sung,

And she thinks through its swerve By the telegraph nerve.

%I.

When the leaf of the mulberry is spun into thread, Then the spinner is shrouded and the weaver is dead; And that shroud is unwound by the fingers of girls, And the films of pale gold clasp the spool as it whirls,

As it ripens and rounds

Like some exquisite fruit

In the tropical bounds,

In air sweet as a lute,

Till the shroud and the tomb,


 

 

OVERLAND TRAIN.   19

Dyed in rainbow and bloom, Glisten forth from the loom Into garments of pride, Into robes for a bride,

Into lace-woven air

That an angel might wear. Ah! marvelous space

'Twixt the leaf and the lace, From the mulberry worm To the magical grace

Of the fabric and form! Oh, Imperial State,

Splendid empire in leaf,
That grows grand on the way

To the sky and the day, Like the coralline reef

To be royally great.

Dead gold is barbaric, but its threads can be woven

Into harmonies fine, like the tones of Beethoven, Can be raveled and wrought

Into love-knots of faith

For the daughters of Ruth—Into garments of thought,

Into pinions for truth —
And be turned from the wraith

Of a misty ideal

That may vanish in night, To things royal and real That shall live out the light.


 

 

20   BETWEEN THE GATES.

So the true golden days

Shall be kindled at last, And this realm shall rule on When the twilights are gone, In the grandeur of truth And the beauty of youth's

Till long ages have passed!

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ON a bright Spring morning we set sail from Chicago for the Golden Gate. Nothing on solid land is the twin of an ocean voyage but a trans-continental trip by rail. There is a sort of through" look about Pacific-bound passengers. The shaggy blanket; the bruin of an overcoat; the valise not black and glossy, but the color of a sea-lion; the William Penn of a hat, broad as to its brim as the phylacteries of the Pharisees; the ticket that shuts over and over like a Chinese book; the capacious lunch basket where, amid sardines, cheese; dried beef, bread, pickles and pots of butter, protrude bottles with slender necks like Mary's, Queen of Scots, and young teapots with impudent noses; the settling into place like geese for a three-weeks' anchorage—all these betoken, not a flitting, but a flight.

The splendid train of the Chicago and Northwestern road, that controls a line of more than three thousand miles, and traverses six states and territories, steams out of the "Garden City's" ragged edges that refine and soften away into rural scenes, and meets many a lovely village hurrying toward the town. It rings its brazen clangor of salute. Shrubbery and stations clear the way. The horizons curve broadly out. We are fairly at sea amid the rolling glory of Illinois. The eastward world

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22   BETWEEN THE GATES.

slips away beneath the wheels, like the white wake at a schooner's heels.

And then I think of another day in the year '49, and the stormy month of' March, when the tatters of white winter half-hid earth's chilly nakedness, and Euroclydon blew out of the keen East like the King's trumpeter, and a little procession of wagons was drawn up facing West on Lake street, Chicago, and daring fellows were snapping revolvers and casing rifles, and making ready for the long, dim trail through wilderness, desert and canon, through delay, danger and darkness—a trail drawn across the continent like the tremulous writing of a death-warrant when Mercy holds the pen. The horses' heads were toward the sunset, and the stalwart boys were ready, the gold-seekers of the early day. There were women on the sidewalks, there were children lifted in men's stout arms that might never clasp them more.

The captain gave the word, and the cavalcade drew slowly out, the last canvas-covered wain dwindled to an ant's white egg, and the pioneers were gone; gone into a silence as profound as the grave's. Spring should come and go, June should shed its roses, autumn roll its golden sea and break into the barn's broad bays in the high-tides of abundance; the winter fires should glow again, and yet no word from the Argonauts, no lock from the Golden Fleece of the new-found El Dorado of the farthest West. Ah, the weary waitings, the hopes deferred, the letters soiled and wrinkled and old, that crept by returning trains, or doubled the Cape or crossed the Isthmus, that the readers thanked God for and took courage, be-cause the writers were not dead last year.

And now it is a six days' sweep as on wings of eagles


 

 

"SET SAIL."   23

from the Prairies of Garden Gate to Pacific's Golden Gate! Verily Galileo's whisper has swelled to a joyful shout: "THE WORLD MOVES!" Fox river, Rock river, Mississippi, the old Father of them all, are crossed in one sunshine. The Cedar is reached by tea-time ; we are riding the breezy swells of Iowa; the second morning finds us giving Council Bluffs a cold shoulder, and making for " The Big Muddy," which is the prose for that ancient maiden, Missouri. Council Bluffs is the old Ranesville, where the Mormons advanced the first parallel in their long siege to take the parched desert of Utah, with its strange mimicry of the salted ocean that slakes no thirst, and to make a blooming garden with streams of living water.

Omaha goes between wind and water, a bad region for a solid shot to strike a ship, but a good thing for a town. It was the base of supplies for the bearded mountain-men who bundled their furs down to the river. It was the point of departure for the Pike's Peakers and the caravans " Frisco "-bound. It has hot water on both sides of it, from ocean to ocean. It has cold water, such as it is, "slab and good," like witches' broth, in the Missouri that, allied with the Mississippi, flows from the regions of the rude North, up the round world to the Gulf of Mexico and the sea. And it has wind. Caves (f 1Eolus! How it blows! If the wild asses of Scripture times could live on the East wind, they would fairly fat-ten on the Zephyrs of Omaha.

The bridge over the Missouri, swung in the air like a rainbow with no colors in it, and almost three thousand feet long, is a great gateway to the West. It has triumphed over the uneasiest sands that ever slipped 'out from under a foundation, and the worst river to drown


 

 

24   BETWEEN THE GATES.

geographies that ever went anywhere. I have crossed that river in _a stage-coach, in a boat, and on foot. It gets up and lies down in a new place oftener than any other running water in America. It changes beds like a fidgety man in a sultry night. It is as worthless for a boundary-line as a clothes-line. It has been known to slice out an Iowa county-seat, and leave it within the limits of Nebraska, as a sort of lawyer's lunch, to be wrangled over.

Fort Calhoun, some two hours' drive up the river from Omaha, is the point whence Lewis and Clark set forth, seventy-three years ago, into a wilderness that howled, and discovered that great watery trident of the Columbia, and named it Lewis, Clark and Multnomah. A while ago I visited the Fort, and the stump of the flag-staff yet remained whence the old colors drifted out in the morning light, when the Discoverers set forth. In their day the Fort stood on the river's bank, and in case of in-vestment from the landward side, water could be drawn up in buckets from the Missouri, and so they wet their throats and kept their powder dry. In my day, I looked from the old site upon a forest of cottonwoods about a Sabbath-day's journey in breadth! That river had gotten up and lain down again at a quiet and comfortable distance from the click of locks and clank of scabbards. What it will do next nobody can tell.

The Union Pacific train is just ready to move out. The bright-hued cars of the Northwestern are succeeded by the soberly-painted coaches of the Union Pacific. They have taken the tint of ocean-going steamers. Men and women are bundling aboard with bags and baskets. The spacious Depot is thronged with crowds in motley wear.


 

 

"SET SAIL."   25

A breeze draws through the great building like the blast of a furnace. .At one hawk-like swoop it catches up a woman's bonnet and dishevels her head, and blows her

ticket out at one door

while her urchin of a boy trundles out at another. Her desperation is logical. She grasps for the hat, plunges for the ticket, and proceeds to look up the baby. Let no indignant matron deny the soft impeachment. The fact remains: bon-net, ticket, baby.

Here, a Norwe-

gian sits upon a   I °4Poq,c

knapsack colored like   rr

an alligator, his leather breeches polished as a razor-strap, and his hair gone to seed. There, an Indian with his capillary midnight flowing down each side of his oleaginous face, as if he had ambushed in a horse's tail and forgot his body was in sight.

Yonder, a pair of Saxons just escaped from a band-box, fit for the shady side of Broadway, but not for the long trail.

Now, an Englishman in tweed, and sensible shoes with soles as thick as a shortcake, an inevitable white bat, and a vest that nobody would think of asking him to " pull 'down," for a little more waistcoat, and pantaloons could

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26   BETWEEN THE GATES.

go out of fashion. Then, a girl with .a portfolio in a strap, who means to be " a chiel amang us takin' notes," when she ought to be using her bright eyes and giving " Faber No. 2 " a blessed rest.

The Depot bubbles and boils like a caldron. The engine backs, clanging down with a cloud and a rush. People climb on and climb off the laden cars crazier than ever. They are giving old ladies a lift from behind. They are tugging up carpet-bags like cats with their last kittens. They are all colors with excitement and hurry. It strikes you queerly that everybody is going, and no-body is staying. The demon of unrest is the reigning king. "Long live the king!" for life is motion. Still life is death's first cousin. A Babel of trunks is surging toward the baggage-cars. Trucks are piled like dromedaries. There's the Saratoga that might be lived in if it only had a chimney, and the iron-bound chest of the mistletoe-bough tragedy, and the dapper satchel as sleek and black as a wet mink, and the little brindled hair-trunk with its brazen lettering of nail-heads, and the canvas sack as rusty as an elephant. And so they tumble aboard with an infinite jingle of checks; an acrobatic, jolly troop, the heart's delight of the trunk-makers. You see your own property, bought new for the occasion, rolling over and over corner-wise like a possessed porpoise. Alas, for any pigments or unguents or dilutions or perfumes that may break loose in that somerset, and make colored maps of the five continents upon your wedding vest or your snowy wrapper. Last, the leathern purses of the United States Mail fly from the red wagons like chaff from a fanning-mill. The engine's steam and impatience are blown off in a whistle together. It spits


 

 

"SET SAIL."   27

spitefully on one side and the other, like a schoolboy out of the corners of his mouth.

And amid the whirl of the Maelstrom—for if Nor-way has none, at least Omaha has one—there are only two living things that are quiet and serene. The one is a youthful descendant of Ham, with a heel like the head of a clawhammer—five claws instead of a pair—lying on a truck upon a stomach that, like an angleworm's, pervades the whole physical man, and the descendant turned up at both ends, like a rampant mud-turtle, his mouth full of ivory and his eyes round with content.

The other is the " last man "—not Montgomery's, but an earlier product — that man in gray, in a silk cap, and taking lazy whiffs at a cigar that has about crumbled to ashes. He is as calm as the Sphinx, but neither so grand nor so grim. He is going to San Francisco when—the train goes, and he patiently bides his time. He is an old traveler, and watches with an amused eye the human vortex. He has seen it before at Gibraltar, at Canton, and now at Omaha.

At last the conductor gives the word "All aboard!" signals the engineer who has been leaning with his head over his shoulder, the bell lurches from side to side with a clang, your last man gives his cigar a careless toss and swings himself upon the rear platform, and the train with its black banners and white flung aloft pulls out, and we are off for the plains and the deserts, and the gorges and the mountains, and the Western sea.


 

 

CHAPTER H. FROM VALLEY TO MOUNTAIN.

IF a man cannot stay at home, traveling in a Pullman palace car is the most like staying there of any-thing in the world. It takes about an hour to get settled in a train bound for a five days' voyage, and some people never do. See the man across the way. He has turned that carpet-bag over and over like a flapjack, and set it before him as a Christian does the law of the Lord, and had it under his feet, and tried to hang it up somewhere. It is as restless as a San Francisco flea. And then his overcoat has been folded with each side out, and his blanket vexes him, and his hat is an affliction, and he is a nephew-in-law of Martha, who was " troubled about many things." There is a sort of solar-system genius about some men in the adjustment of their rail-way belongings that is pleasant to see: everything with a sort of gravitation to it; all at hand and nothing in the way.

When people leave Omaha for the West they usually have eyes for nothing but the scenery. There was one man in our car who kept his nose in a book, like a pig's in a trough, and he had never traveled the route, and he was a tourist! An asylum for idiots ought to seem like home to him!

The sun was borrowed from an Easter-day. The air


 

 

is transparent. The willows show the green. The mean-der of emerald on the hillsides paints the route of the water-courses. We are overtaking the Spring. Behind us, Winter was begging at the door. The trees were as dumb as an obelisk. Around us are tokens of May and whispers of June. You are turning into a cuckoo —Logan's cuckoo; not General Logan, of the Boys in Blue, nor Logan, the last of his race, who used dolefully to say in the declamation of our boyhood, " not a drop of my blood flows in the veins of any living creature," but Logan the poet, who apostrophized the bird, " Companion of the Spring," and said:

"Sweet bird, thy bower is ever green, Thy sky is ever clear.

There is no sadness in thy song, No winter in thy year!"

We strike the bottom lands of Nebraska, as rich as Egypt. We are following the trail of Lewis and Clark, for here is a stream they christened Papilion, from the clouds of butterflies, those " winged flowers" that blossomed in the air as they went. The men are gone, but the breath of a name remains. Sixty miles from Omaha,

and no sign of wilderness. Towns, farms, rural honas

I confess to a covert feeling of disappointment. I expected to be knocked in the head with the hammer of admiration upon the anvil of sublimity right away. We have entered the great Valley of the Platte, the old highway of the emigrants, who paid fearful toll as they went. The world widens out into one of the grandest plains you ever be-held, and in the midst of it, lying flat as a whipped spaniel, is the Platte, a river that burrows sometimes like a prairie dog, and runs under ground like a mole,

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30   BETWEEN THE GATES.

and sometimes broadens into a sea that can neither be forded or navigated — a river as lawless as the Bedouins. It would not be so much of a misnomer to rechristen it the Flat. And the thread of a train moves through this magnificent hall for hundreds of miles, with its sweeps of green and its touches of russet grass here and there, as if flashes of sunshine had rusted thereon in wet weather. Herds of cattle freckle the distance. An Indian village of smoky tents is pitched beside the track, and the occupants are all out, from the caliper-legged old grizzly to the bead-eyed papoose sprouting behind a squaw from " the fearful hollow " of his mother's dingy blanket. They are here to get the wreck of the lunch-baskets flung from the windows of the eastward trains. The chemistry of civilization has bleached some of them. It is a village of beggars.

Clouds fly low in the Valley of the Platte, and thunder-storms have the right of way. It was wearing toward sundown when great leaden clouds with white edges showed in the route of the train. They looked like -a solid wall with irregular seams of mortar, built up from earth to heaven. Then the wind came out of the wall, and the careening cars hugged the left-hand rail, and the hail played tattoo upon the dim windows, and the engine " slowed," for we were running in the teeth of the storm, and darkness fell down on the Valley like a mantle. The lightning hung all about in tangled skeins, like Spanish moss from the live-oaks, and played like shuttles of fire between heaven and earth, carrying threads of white and red, as if it were weaving a garment of destruction There were evidently but two travelers in the Valley, the storm and the train. And the thunder did not go


 

 

FROM VALLEY TO MOUNTAIN.   31

lowing and bellowing about like the bulls of Bashan, as it does among the Catskills and the Cumberlands, but it crashed short and sharp, like shotted guns, that have a meaning to them, and not like blank cartridges, " full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The scene was sub-lime. The pant of the engine and the grind of the car-wheels were inaudible. We were traversing a battle-field. It was crash, rattle and flash. The " thunder-drum of heaven" must have had a drum-major to beat the long-roll that day.

There was a young lady in our car, California-born, who was returning home from an Eastern visit. She had never heard the thunder nor seen the lightning in all her life. She had lived in a cloudless land of everlasting serenity. The pedal-bass of the skies and the opening and shutting of the doors up aloft filled her with alarm, and when the storm died down to great fitful sighs, the lightest heart in all the train was her own.

We had hoped to see a prairie-fire somewhere on the way, if only it would not harm any body or thing—one of those flying artilleries of flame that sweep the plains in close order from rim to rim of the round world, but we were only indulged with a rehearsal. Just before the storm a fringe of fire showed in the Northwest, like an arc of the horizon in flames. It was as if Day, getting ready for bed, had trimmed it with a valance of fire; but it was "out," like Shakspeare's "brief candle," under the weight of the tempest.

We go to supper at Grand Island in sheets, like so many unbound books, albeit they were sheets of rain, and it was pleasant to get back to the lighted car, with its homelike groups and its summer hum of talk. Prepara-


 

 

tions for going to bed are in order. Sofas turn couches, and couches alcoves. The lean man shelves himself as •a saber is slipped into its scabbard. The fat man, condemned to the upper berth, is pulling himself up the side as an awkward bear boards a boat. There is a flitting of female shapes behind the restless curtains; one bulge in the crimson and the woman is unbuttoning her shoes; another bulge and she says, " Good-by, proud world, I'm going home," and she turns her back upon us and bounces into bed —"to sleep, perchance to dream."

The steady clank-it-e-clank of the wheels grows plain in the silence, like the roar below the dam of a village mill at night. There is something wonderfully sedative about the regular motion of the Overland Train. Its regular twenty and twenty-two miles an hour are as restful as a lullaby. There is no fatigue about it. The nervous dashes of a devil's-darning-needle of a train are as catching as the whooping-cough. They make you nervous also. As twenty-two miles is to forty-five miles, so is one worry to the other, is the Rule-of-Three of the road.

It is not usual for anybody to get up in the morning higher than he went to bed at night, but if you sleep from Grand Island and supper to Sidney and breakfast, you will have slept yourself more than two thousand feet higher than the sea level when you gave that pillow its last double and fell asleep.

The morning is splendid, and everybody is on the alert. "Prairie dogs!" cries some watchful lookout, and every window frames as many eager faces as it will hold. And there, to be sure, they are; the fat, rollicking, sandy dogs, as big as exaggerated. rats, but with tails of their own. They sit up straight as tenpins and watch the


 

 

FROM VALLEY TO MOUNTAIN.   33'

train. Their fore paws hang down from the wrists in a deprecating, mock-solemn way, as if they had just washed their hands of you, and said, " There they are; more of them; jogging along to California." They fling up a pair of heels and dive into their holes. They appear as much at home on one end as the other. Travelers say they bark at the. trains, but they didn't bark at ours, unless they "roared us gently." Soon there is another cry of "Antelope!" and again the car is in commotion. There the graceful fellows are, showing the white feather behind, as they dash off a little way, then turn and look at us with lifted head, then bound down the little hollows and out of sight. Prairie dogs and antelopes, in their native land, were better than two consolidated menageries at the East. To the tame passengers of the party, whereof this writer was one, there was a wilderness flavor about it quite strange and delightful. But there was a couple on board, a British lion and his mate, that never ventured an eye on

the picture. They were

Bible people, for " their strength was in sitting still," and in keeping still withal. The lion parted his hair in the middle, and his eyebrows were arched into the very Gothic of superciliousness. Escaped from the sound of Bow Bells, he was a cockney at large, and of all poultry

an exclusive cockney is the cheapest. The figure is a little mixed, but then there was a gallinaceous strain in

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34   BETWEEN THE GATES.

his leonine veins. Together they made about as lively a brace of beings for the general company as a couple of mummies direct from the pyramid of Cephren would have been I respect the noble, hearty Briton of Motherland; I pray always that peace may dwell in her palaces—but the lion, in his best estate, is apt -to fall off a little in the hinder quarters. His front view is the grander view, but when those quarters are finished out before with the brow and bearing of a snob, it becomes an unendurable animal whose ancestors never would have been admitted into the Ark.

There is a mightier lift to the land. The bluffs and peaks begin to rise in the distance. The horizon is scolloped around as if some cabinet-maker had tried to dove-tail earth and sky together. To eyes that have looked restfully upon the rank green pastures of the East, these billowy sweeps of tawny landscape seem just the grazing that Pharaoh's lean kine starved upon, but they are really in about the finest grass country in America. Watch those dots on the hillsides at the right. They are sheep, and there are thousands if there is so much as one "Mary's little lamb." Those spots on the distant left, like swarms of bees, will develop, under the field-glass, into herds of "the cattle upon a thousand hills."

We are pulling up the world, and away to the North, like thunder-heads at anchor, rise the sullen ranges of the Black Hills, a glimpse or two of surly Alps. The first snow-shed is in sight. It looks like an old rope-walk slipped down the mountain on a land-slide, and we rumble through it while the unglazed windows wink day-light at us in a sinister way that is new, but not nice.

The first glimpse of Winter watching the world from


 

 

FROM VALLEY TO MOUNTAIN.   35

the crest of Colorado is a poem. There he stands in the clear Southwest, calm and motionless as Orion. Long's Peak is in sight! It seems near enough for a neighbor. It is eighty miles away. Its crown of snow is as serenely white in the sunshine as if there had been a coronation this very morning, and it had freshly fallen from the fingers of the Lord, and the height made King of the Silver State, the Centennial child of the Republic.

They say I shall see grander mountains, but that day and that scene will be bright in.my memory as the hour and the picture of perfect purity and peace.

I think of other eyes than mine—weary eyes—that brightened as they caught sight of that December in the sky. I think of the caravans of the long ago; of the heroes of the trail; of the oxen that swung slowly from side to side in their yokes, as if, like pendulums, they would never advance; of the days they traveled toward the Peak that never seemed to grow nearer, like a star in far heaven. And I see at the right of the train the old trail they wore, and the years vanish away, and the camp-fires of the cactus and grass are twinkling again, and I lie down beside them under the sky that is naked and strange, and I hear the cayote's wild cry and the alarms of the night.

An untraveled man's idea of a mountain is of a tremendous, heaven-kissing surge of rock, earth and snow, rolling up at once from the dull plain like a tenth wave of a breaker, and fairly taking your breath away. But a mountain range grows upon you gradually. It some-how gets under your feet before you know it, until the tingling sweep of the light air startles you with the truth that you are above the world.


 

 

36   BETWEEN THE GATES.

Here is an apparent plain, but in twenty miles you begin to encounter the globe's rough weather again. The tandem engines, panting and pulling together like a perfect match, labor up the Black Hills. The dimples of valleys are green as emeralds. The rugged heights are tumbled thick with gray granite, and sprinkled with dwarfs of pines that stand timidly about as if at a loss what to do next. A round eight thousand feet above the sea, where water boils with slight provocation, and you begin to feel a little as if you had swallowed a balloon just as they made ready to inflate it, and the process went on, and you are at Sherman. It is the highest altitude the engine reaches between the two oceans. Strange that the skill of a civil engineer can teach a locomotive how to fly without wings; can wile it up by zigzags and spirals along the craggy heights and through the air, fairly defrauding the attraction of gravitation out of its just due.

The train halted, and everybody disembarked, much as Noah's live cargo might have done on Ararat. We wanted to set foot on the solid ground at high tide like the sea, but we all discovered that it took a great deal of air to do a little breathing with. Nothing was disdained for a souvenir. Pebbles that little David would have despised were picked up and pocketed, and one of the party, more fortunate than the rest—it was the writer's alter ego—found a dainty little horseshoe on that tip-top of railroad things in North America, and bore it cheer-fully away— for doesn't it make us witch and wizard proof ? We accepted it as a good omen, but who wore it? Perhaps the winged horse, Pegasus, made a landing there and cast a shoe—if he was ever shod. Sherman


 

 

was named after the brilliant General who marched to the Sea.

Beyond the hemlock shadows of the spruce pine and the scraggy ridges, where giants played " jack-stones " when giants were, seventy miles away to the South, glitters Pike's Peak, whose name. was inked across many a canvas-covered wain in the old time, and whose cold and deathless light has kindled ardor in many a toiler's tired heart. Long's Peak, to the west of it, and three days'

journey off as the mules go, is near us still.

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CHAPTER M.

 

 

WONDERLAND TO BUGLE CANON.

TO get away from great mountains in white cloaks is about as difficult as to escape from the fixed stars. We travel all day with ridges of snow on our left, billowing away into magnificent ocean scenery, as if the Arctic had been lashed into foaming fury, and then frozen to death with all its icebergs, drifts and caflons imperishable as adamant. They were thirty miles away, yet so distinct and clear-cut against the blue, so palpably present as seen through air that might blow on the plains of Heaven unforbidden, that almost anybody on the train fancied he could walk near enough to make a snowball before breakfast! This mountain atmosphere is a perpetual illusion. Among these gorges are those graceful cats with the long stride, to whom men are mice, the mountain lions—you will see a pair of them caged at the next station—and here are those huge but rather amiable and aromatic brutes, the cinnamon bears, the blondes among the bruins.

The train works its way between the Black Hills and the Rockies, and you half fancy, as you watch the silent plunge-down of their shaggy sides, and the gloomy gorges, and the inaccessible crags, that the grizzlies must have been born of mountains, not of bears. You can hardly realize that those monstrous dromedaries of hills, those

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WONDERLAND TO BUGLE CANON.   39

stone mastodons lying about, with streaks of Winter here and there, really belong to the backbone of the continent.

Among those sombre hills the thunders have their nests, and when the broods come off, as they do sometimes, five at once, the flapping of their wings is something to be remembered. Think of five thunder-storms let loose in the air together, all distinctly outlined like men-of-war!

Nature has its compensations, and so you are not surprised to know that rainbows are about two fingers broader here than they are in the East, and the colors deeper and brighter. There is no lack of material for making those gorgeous old seals of the covenant. But I did not see enough ribbon of a bow to make a girl's necktie, nor hear thunder enough to stock a Fourth-of-July oration.

Before setting out for the Golden Coast, I thought a young earthquake would be pleasant to write about, and there is the Bohemian instinct. I have changed my mind. People who are acquainted with them tell me that no-novice needs an introduction when he experiences one of those planetary ague-thrills. He knows it as well as if he had been rocked in the same cradle and brought up with an earthquake all his life. It jars his ideas of earthly stability all to pieces. Who is it says that the globe is swung by a golden chain out from the throne of God, and that sometimes a careless angel on some errand bound, just touches that chain with the tip of his long wings, and it vibrates through all its links, and so we have the little shiver men call earthquake? I fancy that writer regarded the phenomenon through the long-range telescope of sentimental poetry. "Let us have peace."


 

 

BETWEEN THE GATES.

The tribes and nations of bright-hued flowers every-where are wonderful to behold. No chasm so dark, no mountain so rude, that these fearless children of Eden are not there. They smile back at you with their quaint faces from rugged spots where a Canada thistle would have a tug for its life. They ring blue-bells at you. They salute you with whole belfries of pink and purple chimes. They swing in delicate necklaces from grim rocks. They flare like little flames in unexpected places. You see old favorites of the household magnified and glorified almost beyond recognition. It is as if a poor little aster should full like the moon and be a dahlia. The inmates of the Eastern conservatories are running about wild, like children freed from school. And it does not look effeminate to see a broad-breasted, wrinkled rock with a live posy in its button-hole. I think every human bosom, however rude and rough, has some sweet little flower of thought or memory or affection that it wears and cherishes, though no man knows it. Let us have charity.

Hark! There is nothing to hear! The engines run as still as your grandmother's little wheel with her foot on the treadle. The tandem team is holding its breath a little. It is not exactly facilis est deseensus Averni, but in plain talk we are going down hill. We are making for the Laramie Plains. They open out before us into four thousand square miles of wild pasture. They sweep from the Black Hills to the range of the Medicine Bow. Where are your Kohinoors, your " mountains of light," now? Yonder are the gorgeous Sultans, the Diamond Peaks cut by the great Lapidary of the Universe. And yet they may be tents, those radiant cones, pitched by

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WONDERLAND TO BUGLE CARON.   41

celestial shepherds on that lofty height. Did ever earthly pastures have such regal watch and ward? See there, away beyond the jeweled encampment, where the Snowy Range lifts into the bright air, as if it were a ghostly echo of the Diamond Peaks at hand.

All the country is rich in mineral wealth as a thou-sand government mints. The Bank of England, " the Old Lady of Threadneedle street," could lay the very foundations of her building upon a specie basis should she move it hither. Those suspicious holes far up the mountain sides and away down in the valleys, with their chronic yawn of darkness, are not the burrows of bears nor the dens of beclawed and bewhiskered creatures that make night hideous with complaint. They are the entrances to mines of gold, silver, copper, lead and cinnabar. Cinnabar is the red-faced mother of white quicksilver, but she has a ruddy daughter that inherits the family complexion. You have seen her on sweeter kissing places than these rude mountain heights. She shows at times upon a woman's cheek, and her name is Vermilion.

You see all along, ruined castles, solitary towers, triumphal columns, dismantled battlements, broken arches, some red as with perpetual sunset, and some gray with the grime of uncounted years. At the mouth of that caflon, far up the crags, stands a Gibraltar of desolation, a speechless city where no smokes pillar to the skies, no wheels jar the rocky streets, no banners float from minaret or dome. It is the city of No-man's-land. Its builders are the volcanic blacksmiths. How the forges roared and glowed to make it! Its sculpture is the work of frost and rain and time. It has been founded a thou-sand years.

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42   BETWEEN THE GATES.

The coarse bunches of buffalo grass dot the plains here and there. A mule would carry his ears at "trail arms" if it were offered him for breakfast, but it is sweet to the raspy tongues of the beef-cattle of the wilderness. It is the buffalo's correlative: first the grass, then the beast. Where are the stately herds, fronted like the curly-headed god of wine or the Numidian lion, that in columns myriad strong trampled out ground-thunder as they marched? Gone to gratify the greed of lawless butchers who turned a ton of beef into a vulture's dinner for the sake of a dozen pounds of tongue. Cowper's man who shot the trembling hare was a prince to such fellows.

Sage-brush has the freedom of the desert, highland and lowland. You see its clumps of green everywhere. It is the rank seasoning, the summer-unsavory for the sage-hen. Though without beauty, you regard it with affection. It was the fuel of the old pioneers. It has cooked the buffalo-steak, and boiled the coffee, and baked the wheaten cake. Women with babes in their arms have gathered around the sage-brush fire in the chill nights and thanked God. Strange, indeed, that the more we receive the more ungrateful we grow! And there are the cactuses, the green pincushions of the desert, the points all ready to the heedless hand.

By Point of Rocks, where stand the columns of the American Parthenon, four hundred feet high, a thousand feet in the air, and grander than any Grecian ruin that ever crumbled; over Green river, lighted up by its fine green shale McAdam as an old pasture brightens in May; through clefts where rock and ridge run riot; sunless gorges where crags frown down upon the train from the top of the sky; swinging from cliff to cliff, as spiders float


 

 

WONDERLAND TO BUGLE CANON.   43

on their flying bridges; booming through snow-sheds, with their flitter of sunshine; on tracks looped around upon themselves like love-knots for Vulcan; railroad above you and railroad below; by giants' clubs, and bishops' mitres, and Cleopatra's Needles, and Pompey's Pillars, and monoliths of Pyramids older than Cheops, founded with a breath and builded with a touch; up on the swell and down in the trough of the boisterous old mountains, as a ship rides the sea; past the mouths of grim canons that swallow the day; through tunnels of midnight that never knew dawn; cutting flourish and capital, swings the long, supple train.

Through a gate in the Wahsatch Mountains we plunge into Echo Canon and Utah together; Utah, the tenth sovereignty on our route from New York; Utah, Turkey the second, and the land of harems—much as if you should bind up a leaf or two of the Koran with the books of Moses — a region where the Scripture is reversed, and one man lays hold of seven women. You look to see the red fez and the Turkish veil, and you do see dwellings with a row of front doors that seem to have been added, one after another, as the new brides came into the family; a door a bride, which is pretty much all the adoration any of the poor creatures get.

Yonder, in a row before a house with three doors, sit a man and three women, and around them a group of children of assorted lengths, like the strings of David's harp. Here, for the first time, I see a Mormon store with its sanctimonious sign. It almost seems to talk through_ its nose at you with the twang that often issues from an empty head and seldom from a full heart, and it whines these words: "Holiness to the Lord"—here the picture


 

 

44   BETWEEN THE GATES.

of an eye—"Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution," and the profits of it are the prophet's, and his name was Brigham Young.

The train is just swinging around a bold battlement of rock, beside which Sir Christopher Wren's St. Paul's would be nothing more than the sexton's cottage. You see at its base a well-worn wagon-road, that looks enough like a bit of an old New York thoroughfare to be an emigrant. It is the stage road and trail of the elder time. You catch a glimpse of irregular heaps of stone piled upon the edge of the precipice five hundred feet aloft. They are the solid shot of the Mormon artillery. Twenty years ago, when the United States troops were marching to Salt Lake, with inquisitive bayonets, curious to know whether the Federal Government included the heathendom as well as the Christendom of the United States, they must pass by that rugged throat of a road, and under the frown of the mountain, and here the Nauvoo Legion proposed to crush them with a tempest of rock, but the army halted by the way and the ammunition remains.

The train seems hopelessly bewildered. It makes for a mountain wall eight hundred feet high, just doubles it by a hand's-breadth, sweeps around a curve, plunges into a gorge that is so narrow you think it must strangle itself if it swallows the train; red rocks everywhere huge as great thunder-clouds touched by the sun, and big enough for the kernel of such a baby planet as Mars; monuments, graven by the winds; terraces, along whose mighty steps the sun goes up to bed; the glow of his crimson sandal on the topmost stair, and it is twilight in the valley and midnight in the gorge. It is a fearful


 

 

WONDERLAND TO BUGLE CANON.   45

nightmare of stone giants. Weird witches in gray groups, whispering together in the hollow winds of the mountains; witches' bottles for high revel; Egyptian tombs; fortresses that can never be stormed. Yonder, a thousand years ago, they were launching a ship six hundred feet high in the air, but it holds fast to " the ways" still ! Its stately red bow carries a cedar at the fore for a flag. It is a craft without an admiral. Some day an earth-quake out of business will turn shipwright, put a shoulder to the hull, and leviathan will be seen no more.

If you want to reduce yourself to a sort of human duodecimo, handy to carry in the pocket, you can effect the abridgment as you make the plunge with bated breath into the canon. It is a splendid day, old Herbert's sky above and a Titanic carnival below. Echo Canon, where voices answer voice from cliff and wall and chasm, and talk all around the jagged and gnarled and crushed horizon. Just the place for Tennyson's bugle;

"The splendor falls on castle walls, And snowy summits old in story—"

and here is Castle Rock, with its red lintels and its gray arches, and the mighty Cathedral that no man has builded, with its sculptures and its towers; and yonder is the Pulpit, ten thousand tons of stone heaved up a hundred feet into the air, where Gog and Magog might stand and be pigmies; and there are the white lifts of the Wahsatch Range:

"The long light shakes across the lakes,

And the wild cataract leaps in glory. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

"0, hark, 0 hear! how thin and clear, And thinner, clearer, farther going!

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46   BETWEEN THE GATES.

0, sweet and far from cliff and scar The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!

Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:

Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying—"

 

 

and here are glen and cliff, and here is Elfland. The engine gives a single scream, and airy trains are answering from crag and crown, from gulf and rock, as if engines had turned eagles and taken wing from a hundred mountain eyries.

"0 love, they die in you rich sky,"

 

 

and here is that same sky above us, affluent with the flowing gold of the afternoon sun; an unenvious sky that lets you look through into heaven itself; an ethereal azure like the glance of a blue-eyed angel;

"They faint on hill, on field, on river;"

 

 

and here beside us the Weber River rolls rejoicing, and the hills are not casting their everlasting shadows upon us like the veil of the temple that could not be rent. And then come the last lines, that, thanks unto God, are true the world over:

"Our echoes roll from soul to soul,

And grow forever and forever.

Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,

And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying."

Let the lyric be known as the Song of Echo Canon. In my memory the twain will be always one.

This being afraid of a motionless rock when -there is no more danger of its falling than there is of the moon crushing your hat in, is a new feeling, and yet it is an emotion akin to fear. So vast, so rude, so planetary in magnitude, such ghostly and ghastly and unreal shapes, you fancy some enchantment holds strange beings locked


 

 

WONDERLAND TO BUGLE CARON.   47

in stone; that, some day, there will be a general jail-delivery, and the spell will be broken. To me, as I re-member that valley of illusions, they seem the monstrous petrifications of a wild and riotous imagination. I am glad I saw that huge stoneyard of the gods, but I have no desire, to dwell in it. To have heard a bugle blown in it would have been something to remember, but I should have wanted it to sound " boots and saddles," and then be the first man to mount. To carry those boulders about mentally requires an atlas of a fancy, so I will just leave them where I found them, monuments to the memory of patient centuries and imperishable power. Weber River and the Pacific train are both doing their best to get out of these enchanted mountains, but they stand before us, and close up behind us, and draw in around us, and offer us gorges to hide in, and water to drown in, and gulfs to tumble in, and anvils to dash our brains out, and—there! the escape is accomplished! The rugged canon vanishes like a dream of the night, and a valley of surpassing loveliness, sweet as the vale of Rasselas or Avoca, a little parlor of the Lord, guarded by gentle mountains and carpeted with the fine tapestry of cultivation, and dwelt in by peace, has taken. us in. Have you ever, when walking along a woodland path in s, summer night, discovered a dewdrop at your feet by the light of a star that shone in it? So is that valley, fallen amid those scenes of ruggedness and wonder.

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CHAPTER IV.

THE DESERT, THE DEVIL AND CAPE HORN.

" THE Thousand-mile Tree!" So cried everybody.

There it stands beside the track, with its arms in their evergreen sleeves spread wide in perennial greeting. A thousand miles from Omaha and twenty-five hundred from New York. No stately tree with a Mariposa ambition, yet, after the Oak of the Charter and the Elm of the Treaty, few on the continent are worthier of historic fame. Forty years ago, defended round about by two thousand miles of wilderness, a wilderness as broad as the face of the moon at the full ! To-day it is almost like the tree of knowledge, " in the midst of the garden." The articulate lightnings run to and fro upon their single rail, almost within reach of its arms, from Ocean to Ocean. Hamlets and cities make the transit of the wilderness like Venus crossing the sun. Millions of eyes shall look upon it with a sentiment of affection. It stands in its vigorous life for the Thousandth Milepost on the route of Empire.

Why so many grand things in the Far West go to the Devil by default nobody knows. I think it high time he proved his title. Thus, " Devil's Gate " names a Gothic pass in the cleft mountains, through which, between rocky portals lifting up and up to the snow-line, the mad and crested waters of the Weber River plunge in tumultuous crowds. They seem a forlorn hope storm-

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THE DESERT, THE DEVIL AND CAPE HORN.   49

ing some tremendous Ticonderoga. " The Devil's Slide " is a Druidical raceway seven hundred feet up on the mountain side, twelve feet wide, pitched at an angle of

fifty degrees, and dry as a powder-house. It is bounded

by parallel blocks of granite lifted upon their edges, and projecting from the mountain from twenty to forty feet. A ponderous piece of work, but who was the stone-mason? Instead of being a slide, it seems to me about such a

THOUSAND-MILE TREE.

pig-trough as Cedric the Saxon would have hewn, in the days before "hog" turned "pork" and "calf" was " veal." If it belongs to the Devil at all, it must have been the identical table-ware he pitched after the herd of possessed swine that ran down into the sea, and here it lies high and dry even until this day.

At Ogden we take the Silver Palace-cars of the Central Pacific. Let nobody forget what toil, danger, privation, death and clear grit it cost to bring the twenty miles an hour within human possibilities; that everything from a pound of powder and a pickax to a railroad bar

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followed the track of the whalers of old Nantucket and doubled Cape Horn; a hundred miles and a lift of seven thousand feet heavenward; a hundred miles and not a drop to drink for engine or engineer; a thousand miles and hardly an Anglo-Saxon dweller. Two thousand feet of solid granite barred the way upon the mountain top where eagles were at home. The Chinese Wall was a toy beside it. It could neither be surmounted nor doubled, and so they tunneled what looks like a bank-swallow's hole from a thousand feet below. Powder enough was expended in persuading the iron crags and cliffs to be a thoroughfare to fight half the battles of the Revolution. It was in its time the topmost triumph of engineering nerve and skill in all the world. It stitched the East and the West lovingly together, and who shall say that we are not a United States?

The level rays of the setting sun glorified the scene as we steamed out a- few miles, until at our left, a sea of glass, lay the Great Salt Lake, a fishless sea, and as full of things in " urn" as an old time Water Cure used to be of isms, with its calcium, magnesium and sodium. A man cannot drown in it comfortably. No decent bird will swim in it. If Jonah, the runaway minister, had been pitched into it, that lake would have tumbled him ashore before he had time to take lodgings at the sign of " The Whale." It absolutely rejects everything but some-thing in " um." It ought to be the " duke dons um " for Lot's wife. Everybody passes Promontory Point in the night, the memorable spot where, on that May day, 1869, the East and the West were wedded, and the blows that sent home the spikes of silver and gold securing the last rail in the laurel were repeated by lightning at Wash-


 

 

THE DESERT, THE DEVIL AND CAPE HORN.   51

ington and San Francisco, in the length of a heart-beat; blow for blow, from the Potomac to the Pacific. Think of echo answering echo through a sweep of more than three thousand miles! All in all, after the signing of the Declarationtof Independence, it was the most impressive and thoughtful ceremony that ever graced the continent. It was electric with the spirit of the New Era.

Tally Eleven! We are in Nevada, eleventh sovereignty from the Atlantic seaboard. We have struck the Great American Desert. I wish I could give, with a few brief touches, the scenery of the spreads of utter desolation, strangely relieved by glimpses of valleys of clover that smell of home, and conjure up the little buglers of the dear East, that in their black and buff trimmed uniforms and their rapiers in their coat-tail pockets, used to campaign it over the fields of white clover where we all went Maying; sights of little islands of bright greenery, as at Humboldt, as much the gift of irrigation as Egypt is of the Nile; great everlasting clouds of mountains, tipped as to their upper edges with snow as with an eternal dawn; patches ghastly white with alkali as if earth were a leper, and yellow with sulphur as if the brimstone fire of the Cities of the Plain had been raining here, and salt had been sown and the ground accursed forever.

Tumble in upon these alkali plains a few myriads of the buffalo that have been wantonly slaughtered, and with the steady fire of the unwinking, unrelenting, lid-less sun that glares down upon the dismal scene as if he would like to stare it out of existence, you would have the most stupendous soap factory in the universe, to which the establishments of the Colgates and the Babbitts would be as insignificant as the little inverted conical


 

 

52   BETWEEN THE GATES.

leach of our grandmothers, wherewith they did all the lyeing the dear simple souls were guilty of.

Fancy an immense batch of wheaten dough hundreds of miles across, wet up, perhaps, before Columbus discovered America, permeating and discoloring and tumefying in the sun through five centuries; strown with careless handfuls of salt and sprinkles of mustard, and garnished, like the mouth of a roasted pig, with parsley-looking sage-brush, and tufts of withered grass, and rusty cactuses, and veins of dead water sluggish as postprandial serpents; and whiffs of hot steam from fissures in the unseemly and ill-omened mass; a corpse of a planet weltering and sweltering, with whom gentle Time has not yet begun; no May to quicken it, no June to glorify it, no Autumn to gild it.

Then fancy all this in a huge basin whose red and rusty rim, broken and melted out of shape, you see here and there in the northern horizon—fancy all this, and yet there is nothing but " the sight of the eyes" that will " affect the heart." Miners and mountain men have been lavishly liberal in giving things to the Devil. If he must have something in the way of estate, give him this bleached batch of desert dough for his own consumption!

You will take notice that in this description of waste places I have not mentioned Tadmor nor alluded to Thebes. A man cannot very well be reminded of things he never saw; neither have I quoted anything from Ossian about lonely foxes and disconsolate thistles waving in the wind. All these things have been mentioned once or twice, and the American Desert needs no foreign importations of Fingals to make it poetically horrible.


 

 

THE DESERT, THE DEVIL AND CAPE HORN.   53

You nave gone over it in a palace. You have eaten from tables that would be banquets in the great centres of civilization. You have slept upon a pleasant couch " with none to molest or make you afraid." You have drank water tinkling with ice like the chime of sleigh-bells in a winter night—water brought from mountains fifteen, twenty, thirty miles away. You have retired without weariness and risen without anxiety. Now, I want you to remember the men and women without whom there would be nothing worth seeing that could be seen, on the Pacific Slope; the men and women who crossed these plains in wagons whose very wheels clamored for water as they creaked; those men and women who toiled on through this realm of disaster, parched, famished, dying yet not despairing, to whom every day was only another child of the Summer Solstice, and who said every morning, " Would to God it were night!" Some made their graves by the way, and some lived to look upon the Pacific sea, and I want you to believe that in our time there has never been a sturdier manhood, a ruggeder resolution, a more Miles Standish sort of courage, than marked the career of the pioneers to the West.

Tally Twelve! Twelfth empire from the Atlantic. Less than three hundred miles from the Pacific. We are in California—the old Spanish land of the fiery furnace. The turbaned mountains rise to the right, and the dark cedars and pines in long lines single file, like Knight Templars in circular cloaks, seem marching up the heights.

You feel, somehow, that though not a pine-needle vibrates, the wind must be " blowing great guns," so to


 

 

54   BETWEEN THE GATES.

ruffle up and chafe the solid world. Across ravines that sink away to China like a man falling in a nightmare, and then the swooning chasms suddenly swell to cliffs and heights gloomy with evergreens and bright with Decembers that never come to Christmas, the train pursues its assured way like a comet. It circles and swoops ,and soars and vibrates like a sea-eagle when the storm is abroad. Mingled feelings of awe, admiration and sublimity possess you. Sensations of flying, falling, climbing, dying, master you. The sun is just rising over your left shoulder. It touches up the peaks and towers of ten thousand feet, till they seem altars glowing to the glory of the great God. You hold your breath as you dart out over the gulfs, with their dizzy samphire heights and depths. You exult as you ride over a swell. Going up, you expand. Coming down, you shrink like the kernel of a last year's filbert. We are in the Sierras Nevada! The teeth of the glittering saws with their silver steel of ever-lasting frost cut their way up through the blue air—up to the snow-line—up to the angel-line between two worlds.

It was day an instant ago, and now it is dark night. The train has burrowed in a tunnel to escape the speech-less magnificence. It is roaring through the snow-sheds. It is rumbling over the bridges. Who shall say to these breakers of sod and billows of rock, " Peace, be still!" and the tempest shall be stayed and the globe shall be at rest?

And all at once a snow-storm drives over your head. The air is gray with the slanting lines of the crazy, sleety drift. Some mountain gale that never touches the lower world, but, like a stormy petrel, is forever on the


 

 

THE DESERT, THE DEVIL AND CAPE HORN.   55

wing and never making land, has caught off the white caps and turbans from some 'ambitious peaks, and whipped them whirling through the air. You clap your hands like a boy, whose sled has been banging by the ears in the woodshed all summer, at his sight of the first snow. But the howling, drifting storm goes by, and out flares the sun, and the cliffs are crimson and silver.

You think you have climbed to the crown of the world, but lo, there, as if broke loose from the chains of gravitation, "Alps on Alps arise." Look away on and on, at the white undulations to the uttermost verge of vision, as if a flock of white-plumed mountains had taken wing and flown away.

A chaos of summers and winters and days and nights and calms and storms is tumbled into these gulches and gorges and rugged seams of scars. , Rocks are poised midway gulfward that awaken a pair of perpetual wonders: how they ever came to stop, and how they ever got under way. With such momentum they never should have halted: with such inertia they never should have

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started. Great trees lie head-downward in the gulfs. Shouting torrents leap up at rocky walls as if they meant to climb them. See these herds of broad-backed recumbent hills around us, lying down like elephants to be laden. See the bales of rocks and the howdahs of crags heaped upon them. They are John Milton's own beasts of burden, when he said, " elephants endorsed with towers," and such an endorsement should make anybody's note good for a million.

Do you remember the old covered bridges that used to stand with their feet in the streams like cows in mid-summer, and had little windows all along for the fitful checkers of light? Imagine those bridges grown to giants, from five hundred to two thousand feet long, and strong a a fort. Imagine some of them bent into immense curves that, as you enter, dwindle away in the distance like the inside of a mighty powder-horn, and then lay forty-five miles of them zigzag up and down the Sierras and the Rockies, and wherever the snow drifts wildest and deepest, and you have the snow-sheds of the mountains, with-out which the cloudy pantings of the engines would be as powerless as the breath of a singing sparrow. They are just bridges the other side up. They are made to lift the white winter and shoulder the avalanche. But you can hardly tell how provoking they are sometimes, when they clip off the prospect as a pair of shears snips a thread, just as a love of a valley or a dread of a canon, or something deeper or grander or higher or ruder catches your eye, " Out, brief candle ! " and your sight is extinguished in a snow-shed. But why complain amid these wonders because you have to wink!

Summit Station is reached, with its sky parlors, and


 

 

THE DESERT, THE DEVIL AND CAPE HORN.   57

grand Mount Lincoln, from whose summit it is two miles "plumb down" to the city by the sea, and we have a mile and a half of it to swoop. The two engines begin to talk a little. One says, " Brakes!" and the other, "All right!" " Take a rest!" says the leader. " Done ! " says the wheeler, and they just let go their nervous breaths, and respire as gently as a pair of twin infants. The brakes grasp the wheels like a gigantic thumb and finger, the engines hold back in the breeching, but down we go, into the hollows of the mountains; along craggy spines, as angry as a porcupine's and narrow as the way to glory; out upon breezy hills red as fields of battle; off upon Dariens of isthmuses that inspire a feeling that wings will be next in order. Sparks fly from the trucks like fiery fountains from the knife-grinder's wheel, there is a sullen Bride of expostulation beneath the cars, but down we go. Should the water freeze in the engines' stomachs, " the law that swings worlds would whirl the train through ! "

The country looks as if a herd of mastodons with swinish curiosity had been turned loose to root it inside out. It is the search for gold. Mountains have been rummaged like so many potato-hills. When pickax and powder and cradles fail, and the " wash-bowl on my knee" becomes what Celestial John talks—broken China —then as yonder! Do you see those streams of water playing from iron pipes upon the red hill's broad side? They are bombarding it with water, and washing it all away. The six-inch batteries throw water about as solid under the pressure as cannon-shot. A blow from it would kill you as quick as the club of Hercules. Boulders dance about in it like kernels in a corn-popper. I give


 

 

58   BETWEEN THE GATES.

the earnest artillerymen a toast: "Success to the douche! The heavier the nugget the lighter the heart."

The train is swaying from side to side along the ridges, like a swift skater upon a lake. It is four thousand feet above the sea. It shoulders the mountains to the right and left. It swings around this one, and doubles back upon that one like a hunted fox, and drives bows-on at another like a mad ship. Verily, it is the world's high-tide! You have been watching a surly old giant ahead. There is no climbing him, nor routing him, nor piercing him; but the engines run right on as if they didn't see him. Everybody wears an air of anxious expectancy. We know we are nearing the spot where they let men down the precipice by ropes from the mountain-top, like so many gatherers of samphire, and they nicked and niched a foothold in the dizzy wall. and carved a shelf like the ledge of a curved mantel-piece, and scared away the eagles to let the train swing round.

The mountains at our left begin to stand off, as if to get a good view of the catastrophe. The broad canons dwindle to galleries and alcoves, with the depth and the distance You look down upon the top of a forest, upon a strange spectacle. It resembles a green and crinkled sea full of little scalloped billows, as if it had been overlaid with shells shading out from richest emerald to lightest green. Nature is making ready for something. The road grows narrower and wilder. It ends in empty air There is nothing beyond but the blue! And yet the engines pull stolidly on.

Down brakes! We have reached the edge of the world, and beyond is the empyrean! You stand upon


 

 

THE DESERT, THE DEVIL AND CAPE HORN.   59

the platform. The engines are out of sight. They are gone. The train doubles the headland, halts upon the frontlet of Cape Horn!— clings to the face of the precipice like a swallow's-nest.

 

The Grand Canon is beneath you. It opens out as with visible motion. The sun sweeps aslant the valley like a driving rain of gold, and strikes the side of the mountain a thousand feet from the base. There, twenty-five hundred feet sheer down, and that means almost a half mile of precipice, flows in placid beauty the American River. You venture to the nervous verge. You see two parallel hair-lines in the bottom of the valley. They are the rails of a narrow-gauge railroad. You see bushes that are trees, martin-boxes that are houses, broidered handkerchiefs that are gardens, checked counterpanes that are fields, cattle that are cats, sheep that are prairie-dogs, sparrows that are poultry. You look away into the unfloored chambers of mid-air with a pained thought that the world has escaped you, has gone down like a setting star, has died and left you alive ! Then you can say with John Keats upon a far different scene, when he opened Chapman's magnificent edition of Homer:

"Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He stared at the Pacific, and all his men

Looked at each other with a wild surmise—Silent upon a peak in Darien."

Queer people travel. Returning to the car I saw a broad-gauge Teuton, with the complacent bovine expression of a .ruminating cow, eating a musical Bologna lunch of " linked sweetness long drawn out," and I said to him, " Did you see Cape Horn?" " Cabe Hornd? Vat


 

 

60   BETWEEN THE GATES.

is she?" One of those difficult old-bachelor questions that will never find anybody to answer. Everything in this world but sausage and lager

"A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more."

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ACALIFORNIA train is a human museum. Here now, upon ours, are the stray Governor of Virginia, an army captain going to his company in Arizona, a trader

from the Sandwich Islands, a woman from New Zealand, a clergyman in search of a pastorate, an invalid looking for health, a pair of snobs, Mongolians with tails depending from between their ears, the proprietor of an Oregon salmon-fishery, a gold-digger, a man whose children were born in Canton while his wife lived in San Francisco, some Shoshones and dogs in the baggage car, and a family who ate by the day, breakfasted, dined, supped, lunched, picked and nibbled without benefit of clergy. It would take a chaplain in full work just to "say grace" for that party_ Victuals and death were alike to them. Both had " all seasons for their own." They ate straight across

the continent. If they continue to make grist-mills of

themselves, crape for that family will be in order at an early day.

At some station in the Desert where we halted for water, there sat, huddled upon the platform, some Shoshone Indians, about as gaudy and filthy as dirt and red blankets could make them, and papooses near enough like little images of Hindoo gods to be cousins to the whole mythology. One of the squaws, with an ashen

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gray face and white hair, a forehead like a hawk's, an eye like a lizard's, an arm like a ganglion of fiddle-strings, and a claw of a hand, looked to be a hundred years old, and her voice was as hollow as if she had an inverted kettle for the roof of her mouth, and talked under it. Near by, on the same platform, an English-man was pacing to and fro, putting down his well-shod feet as if he had taken the country in the name of the queen of 'ome and the Empress of India. A Frenchman, in a round cap with a tassel to it, stands with the wind astern and his brow bent like a meditative Bonaparte, trying to light a twisted roll of paper in the hollow of his hand. Two Chinamen in blue, broad-sleeved blouses, their shiny black cues swinging behind like bell-ropes in mourning, stood near, shying their ebony almonds at the whole scene. On the track, waiting for a shake of the bridle, waited the engine, breathing a little louder 'low and then, like a man turning over in his sleep.

Regarded with thoughtful eyes, the grouping was impressive. Here in the Desert, as far away from blue water as they could possibly get, standing upon the same hundred square feet of platform, were Mongolians from the pagoda-land of " the drowsy Easf," aborigines from the heart of the continent, men from Fatherland and Motherland, and the lands of the lilies, the storks, the long nights, the broad days and the —interrogation-points, all met and mingled here for a little minute, and the cause of it is the wonder of it. There it stands upon the track. It is number 110. It is the locomotive, at once a beast of burden, a royal charger, a civilizer and a circuit-rider.

At stations throughout the way, in places unutterably


 

 

FROM WINTER TO SUMMER.   63

dismal and desolate, wagon roads, stage routes and horse trails make for the mountains. No man not gifted with geological eyes, which means a pair of organs that can see through millstones before they are picked, would ever suspect what floods of disguised mercury, what billions of blue-pills and boluses, what caverns of honest silver, what spangled nuggets of clean gold, what Pactolian sands, what wealth of agates of price, what life-giving springs, what Cracows of salt, what fountains of soda, lurk in all impossible places, as if the planet had gone into bankruptcy and hidden its assets in these regions. You pass through a place without knowing it whence seventy-five millions of pure gold have been taken, with a two-million income to-day, and the world is there still — not so much as an eyelet-hole through it.

Unless you have been made cosmopolitan by travel, the Overland Voyage gives you a lonely far-away feeling it will puzzle you to describe. The air is so clear, the horizon so broad, the world so strange, the tune of life keyed two or three notes higher than you ever played it before, that you catch yourself wishing for a lounge on some old native sod where, if your name is not "McGregor," at least it is Richard when he was "himself again," beneath a rock maple that gives you sugar in April, shade in June and beauty in October.

We have rounded Cape Horn! Grand Pacific, good morn! Rattling down the ridges, bringing up with a sweep in niches of valleys, like a four-in-hand before stage-houses with room for the cut of a figure 8. A half-mile down and one hundred and ninety-three out, and there is The Golden Gate. We are plunging into a carnival of flowers. They hold up their dear little faces


 

 

64   BETWEEN THE GATES.

everywhere to be admired, and why not? Snow-storm in the morning and midsummer at noon! Read over the old stories of the Arabian Nights, and believe every word of them. The chaparral of little evergreen oaks shows bright along the hills, and the air is sweet with the white blossoms. You pass settlements of a tree that has original ways of its own. Like the Manzanita tree, it does not grow in Webster's Dictionary. It is the Madrona. It has no fall of the leaf, but it strips off its clothes like a boy bound for a swim, for it slips out of its old bark and is fitted to a new suit. It borrowed the fashion from the Garden of Eden. Its wood is crooked enough for a politician, and it has as much the look of a foreign land as a date-palm. Many trees and shrubs in California are evergreen, though there is nothing about them to make you suspect it, and the reason they are, is that the weather is so wonderful from January to December they never know the proper time to shed their leaves, and so "wear green on their coats" and never change their clothes all the year round!

The valley of the Sacramento is a garden, and Sacramento is the " orbs in horto" of it. It is our first glimpse of the Celestial Flowery Kingdom of the Christian world. Roses never die. Rare exotics that we at the East cherish as if they were infants, and bend over like new-made fathers and mothers, are distrained for conservatory rent and turned out-of-doors. The white dome of the State Capitol rises like a pale planet above the green surges and waving banners of semi-tropic luxuriance — a planet with one mansion, the Temple of Liberty, and one inhabitant, an unprotected female, Power's Genius of California,


 

 

FROM WINTER TO SUMMER.   65

and the blue dome of Mount Diablo lifts in the far horizon.

These are the spacious parlors with their seventeen thousand square miles, and all carpeted with beauty from the silver Sierras " at the eastward of Eden " to the thin apparition of the Coast Range in the West. The orange blossoms are abroad, and the fruit is as golden as the three pawnbroker planets, and as green as a walnut in its first round-about, all at once. They that dwell here sit under their own vine and fig-tree, and the palm waves over their heads. The stately orchards of live-oaks, in their chapeaux of green, stand at ease in the picture, to counterfeit the royal parks of Old England. The Sacramento River wanders down on the way to the sea, while cloudlets of steam and flicker of flag and of wing mark the route. Taste and wealth have conspired with Nature. There is no fairer landscape between the Tropics.

And what a blessed country for Don Quixote! How " the knight of the sorrowful countenance" would brighten at sight of California! The Castilian Alexander sighing for more 'windmills to conquer, would have them here. Every well-ordered family may keep a dog, a cat, or some children, but the windmill is sure to be the pet of the household. It .is an odd sight, fifty windmills in a broad landscape, all going at once; some painted green as dragon-flies, some red, white and blue; these with hoods, those with their arms bare to the shoulder; facing different ways, looking square at you, or askance, or not seeing you at alL Insects out of some gigantic entomology, whirling their antennae at you, to beckon you or frighten you, or halt you or start you. Then with a little whisk of wind, one will whip about like a cat and front the

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other way. Some of them have tails like a fish. Others, in the rolling country, have long slender bodies of wooden aqueducts that suggest devil's-darning-needles, only they have long, thin legs, sometimes four, and then a dozen, just to keep their dropsical bodies at the right altitude for irrigation. These fellows turn their heads like hooded owls on a perch, and it would not astonish you much to see any of them develop wings and fly away, if only it was not your way. They are as thick in California as the little white and yellow butterflies around a wet place in the road. It would have puzzled Agassiz to classify them, but they are the home-made rain-storms of the California summer. Look at those coppery hills yonder, dried to tinder point. See the dust, fine as Scotch mist, rolling around the wagons and enveloping them in clouds as was old Eneas. But how brilliant the green fields, how new the flowers, how glittering the trees, how rank the

corn fresh from

the baptism of the precious bugs of windmills. How sweet the air as with the smell of rain! This is a

rainless land from   -D NQa, OTC'"RADISH

spring to fall, but like other Ships of State it runs by wind and water all the same.

You plunge into a tunnel a thousand feet long, are gone a minute in a kind of short night with noon at one end of it and sunshine at the other. You emerge into valley after valley with picturesque halls between, the mountains keeping company as you go. Diablo draws

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FROM WINTER TO SUMMER.   67

near, gashed with gorges, his robe of mountain blue folded away, and the cowl of a ghostly Franciscan flung over his head. The salt sea breezes, such as Dibdin could have sung a rousing song about, come rushing up to welcome the stranger from the alkali air and the shimmering heat and the giddy heights and the everlasting snow. There are pansies by the way, broad-faced like little moons — pansies, and that's for thought of thankfulness. There are poppies scattered abroad — poppies, and that's for forget-fulness of all things that weary. There are wild lupins, true blue, and buttercups that take you back to child-hood and home pastures, where the reflected tint of the floral gold upon your chin told the secret of your love, not of beauty but of butter. At last! the bay of San Francisco, with its gems of islands, its waters doubling the flags of all nations; the Queen, with her face to the Golden Gate, and her hair wet with the breath of the Pacific. It is seven miles to San Francisco. Say it is ope of the finest voyages you ever made. Thank God you are yet in the United States. There floats the twin of the flag you left three thousand miles ago. The denser, richer, more gracious air comes to you like a familiar friend.

But let us not ride high-horses to bed. The sun is sliding down into what you never saw it drown in before —the Pacific Ocean. The last time you saw it meet with a like calamity, it fell into Lake Michigan. It has strength enough left to show what manner of person you are: as dusty as an elephant, a smutch on your face, a kink in your hat, and your ungloved hand shaded like some smoky work of the old masters. Let us leave scenery for soap, and beauty for broom brushes.


 

 

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The car is an aggravated case of the First of May. Everybody is making ready to move. Leather valises, cot-ton trunks, carpet-bags of the style that it takes two to show the pattern, are repacked, the wrecks and bones of departed luncheons tossed from the window, cloaks and wraps shaken out of wrinkle, traveling-caps wadded and pocketed. Dusky porters are alert, whisking half dollars from coats with a wisp-broom, leaving the dust undisturbed, as if they thought California tourists carried the sacred ashes of their forefathers about with them. A woman is polishing her front hair with a licked finger. One mother is washing a family of three with Desdemona's handkerchief.

Everybody is going everywhere, one to Puget Sound, that looked very dim and other-worldish on the old maps; another to the Halls of the Montezumas, where the grand old hero of Lundy's Lane went; a third to Japan. You open upon a new page of the geography, and hear more names of far-away regions in an hour than you ever heard in your life. They talk in a neighborly way of up the coast to Oregon, and down the coast to Callao, and over to Honolulu, as if it were just across a four-rod street.

The train runs through Oakland, a lovely live-oak suburb of San Francisco, thirty thousand strong, where a thousand houses a year has been the recent rate of growth. You catch a glimpse of the tropical glories. You see hedges of fuchsias and walls of scarlet geraniums twelve feet high, blazing like the Burning Bush. You-see walls of evergreen carved into arches and alcoves and gateways, as if they were green marble. You see the California quail in his neat uniform and his quaint


 

 

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crest running about the door-yards of the city, as domes-tic as witty-legged bantams. You see bits of velvet lawn as emerald as emeralds, and intense as green fire. You see calla-lilies as large and pure as holy chalices. You see a cloud of foliage on a distant hill as blue as if a bit of clear sky had fallen down upon green trees and dyed them the color of heaven. It is the blue gum-tree. You see Australian shrubbery that never knows it is an exile.

At last you go to sea on the cars. You run three miles out in salt water upon a pier. You are in the midst of ocean-going ships, and saucy tugs, and fishing-smacks and rollicking jolly-boats. Men-of-war lie quiet with cables in their noses and anchors at the end of them, nasal charms of gigantic dimensions. You see the double-headed fowl of the imperial standard of the Czar, and the tricolor of France, and the tawny moon of Japan in a brick-red sky, and the calico-pattern of the Hawaiian Islands, and the splendid flag you were born under, more beautiful than all. You hear fitful blasts of music from the distant decks. You see lines of ports like the finger-holes of flutes along the ships' sides. They are the bur-rows of thunder and lightning.

The little company here separate. Good-byes and good wishes interchange, and we part with a figurative " cup of kindness " at our lips, and few, I dare say, left the train who could not have joined in the sad old song of the " Three Friends:"

"And in fancy's wide domain There we all shall meet again."

I do not know Pythias, and I did not see Damon on the train, but I do know that just in proportion as men be-come truly human, they grow frank and friendly.


 

 

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You board one of the grandest ferry-boats in American waters, El Capitan, vast parlors on a bridge that crosses while you sit still, whereon four thousand people can be borne without a battle of the bones. Everything is sweet and tidy as a nice little bride's first house-keeping. I recall the old steamer "Nile," Commodore Blake, that used to sail the fresh-water seas, with a pair of golden lizards at the bow for a figure-head. It was thought grand with its owlish saloons and its stuffy cabins, and its hissings and sputterings and rumblings of hot water everywhere, and its perpetual palsy like an irritable volcano with an uneasy digestion. You could have put the habitable part of that Nile, crocodiles and all, into El Capitan's back parlor.

You left the runners and hackmen of the East in fourand-twenty-blackbird rows, all their mouths wide open like young robins, all hailing you together in gusts of Northeasters, to ride somewhere and stay somewhere, and they are always " going right up." Here, they meet you on the boat. They accost you confidentially, they touch you in a velvety way on the elbow with " kerridge, sir?" They are " the mildest-mannered men- that ever "—asked a fare. I am not sure I quite like it. I take a kind of malicious satisfaction in watching the howling dervishes, as they stand just the other side "the dead line" of the curbstone or the rope railings, and howl. It is delicious to think they cannot get at me and pull me apart, and rend my baggage, and send me around to various hotels a morsel apiece, even as they feed lions and variegated cats in a menagerie.


 

 

SAN FRANCISCO STREET SCENES.

SAN FRANCISCO! Crowned with palaces and dense with business houses as a redwood forest, six cur-rents of life surging along her congested streets that jar with the endless thunder of commerce, four on the side-walks and .two on the cars; the ships of the world courtesying through the Golden Gate and sailing into the Bay like stately old dowagers entering the reception-room of a monarch. And then remember it was a desert of sand-dunes, strown with seaweed and white bones, and desolate as an old African Gold Coast thirty years ago, a time hardly long enough for a century plant to get a good ready for blossoming, and now more than three hundred thousand strong, it faces both ways and con-fronts the world!

The stranger's home is the hotel. There are lions and lions, and no lack of them in San Francisco. The Grand, The Lick, The Occidental, The Russ, The Baldwin, The Cosmopolitan, The Commercial and The Palace. With the affectionate republican weakness for simplicity you go direct to The Palace. It is a house full of houses, a kind of architectural Surinam toad that swallows uncounted broods of little toads to keep them out of danger. The comparison is not appetizing, but it will serve. Five such hotels would have bought all Florida at the time of

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72   BETWEEN THE GATES.

the Government purchase. It has seven stories, seven hundred and fifty rooms, eighteen acres of floor, and has broken out with bay windows till it is knobby as an old-fashioned bank-vault door, and full of eyes as a field of potatoes, or a peacock's tail, or an overwhelming affirmative. If you wish to hide from an enemy who dwells at The Palace, the safest thing to do is to board there yourself. There is slight chance of your ever meeting him. The table, attendance, rooms and prices are all first class, but why a man is any happier on a vulgar fraction of eighteen acres, than on some cozy corner of an acre and a half, and why he is willing to pay more for it, is, perhaps, a vulgar question concerning a vulgar fraction. It is annexing a State to get a bedroom.

A certain degree of elegance comports with the comfort of the average man, but the elegance may attain an uneasy magnificence, as when the luxurious pile of the carpet you tread yields to your foot, resembling a leisurely stroll on an immense feather bed, or as when a man unused to dwelling in a huge looking-glass, is constantly hastening to meet himself and be introduced to himself and be polite to himself. This incessant meeting with the identical stranger gets monotonous after awhile, particularly if you wish to room alone.

The bay-window order of architecture prevails to a degree that suggests the proverb about glass houses and geological restlessness. It is the first feature the stranger observes, and it gives the city a Venetian-balconied look, hinting moons, flutes and troubadours. You think of Juliet when that love-lorn fanatic of a Romeo declared, in defiance of rhetoric and gender, " and Juliet is the sun!"


 

 

SAN FRANCISCO STREET SCENES.   73

You have only to look at the stately fronts mile after mile, with all the windows gracefully leaping out of themselves, to read the weather record. They are an almanac far more accurate than Poor Richard's. The sun of California is a power. There is nothing to dim a fire-fly between the. king and the Californian. But the windows tell you the people crave the sun. " Pleasant, shady rooms to let," says the New York Herald. " Bright, cheerful apartments, with the sun all day," says the San Francisco Chronicle, though how that can be' is not quite so plain, unless you live in a lighthouse. The reason for this love of basking is a misty reason for one so clear. The fogs from the Pacific seldom rise a thousand feet, and the Coast Range of mountains, lifting its magnificent sea-wall, defends the land from these ghosts of the ocean. But they will drive down the Coast' and charge through the Golden Gate like clouds of shadowy horse, and roll over the city and sweep up the valleys. Again you learn from the street fronts that demoralized glaciers never bombard the city with hail-storms, else there would be "a wreck of matter" and a crash of glass. You look in vain for one of the old tallow chandler's fixed bayonets. No thunder-clouds open ports upon San Francisco, and you rejoice that you have escaped the lightning-rod man, who with the book-canvasser and the insurance agent, constitutes the three deadly sins against a quiet life.

Street life in San Francisco is a kaleidoscope that is never at rest. There is nothing like it on the continent. The flower-stands with their gorgeous array, the open-fronted alcoves fairly heaped with floral beauty, as if Eve had just moved in and had no time to arrange her "things"; the glimpses of bright color from leaf and

4


 

 

74   BETWEEN THE GATES.

blossom, that catch the eye everywhere, in mansion, shop and shed; the bits of bouquets you see on draymen's coat-collars, and blooming from broken cups in tinkers'. dens and smithies; smiling in churches in prayer-time; adorning brides with genuine orange blossoms; strewing coffins with everlasting June.

Then the fruit-stands that are never out of sight, with the mosaics of beauty spread upon them, as if Pomona's own self presided at the board. Rubies of tomatoes, plums and cherries; varnished apples from Oregon, as cheeky and ruddy as "a fine ould Irish gentleman "; pears, peaches, apricots, nectarines, oranges, and those cunning Lilliputs of lemons, the limes; strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, that melt at a touch of your tongue; fresh figs, looking like little dark leather purses, and full of seeds and sugar— all these grouped upon the same broad table; everything from all the year round but snowballs, as if the gifts of the seasons were converged, like sunbeams through a lens, upon one luscious spot of summer luxury and brilliance. You halt if you are not hungry, for you have learned that the richest beauty is not always in the flower. You find that fruit goes by avoirdupois; peaches are in pounds and not in pecks; that it is not much cheaper than it is three thousand miles away; that your dimes have turned into "short bits," your quarters into "two bits "; that three "bits" are thirty-seven and a half cents, and it takes forty cents to make it; that pennies are curiosities, and poor little nickels nowhere; if an article is not five cents it is nothing; if . it is twelve cents it is fifteen. So you buy something at a "bit" a bite and move on.

This is the paradise of bootblacks, the rainless-sky


 

 

weather from spring to fall rendering " a shine " a good investment. These artists on leather have little wardrobes of affairs set against the buildings along the sidewalks, furnished with easy-chairs and foot-rests, and often carpeted and adorned with mirrors and pictures. At the first glance, they remind you of the wayside niches in foreign countries wherein some saintly image is enshrined, but a second look, and the saint is resolved into a very earthly piece of human ware, armed with brushes and French polish, to make looking-glasses of your upper leathers. And these Mother Hubbard's cupboards of places are as good as a weather-gauge to a stranger, telling him that the year is one long genial season, neither summer nor winter, but the tonic of the one and the glow of the other.

And there come some strolling players that are not Hamlet's, to confirm the story, with their harps and fiddles stripped of the green-baize jackets of more inclement skies, and naked to the very bones and tendons.

You notice in the ever-moving tides of street life an absence of the rainbow tints and the flickering white of woman's Eastern apparel. The hues are soberer. Seldom a day in a whole year that fur sacques, shawls and over-coats are not in order at some hour between sunrise and bed-time. It is July, but see the fur-trimmed garments and the dark cloaks and the heavy veils go flitting along, and the sun just emptying his quiver of golden arrows all the while.

There, drawn by a span of horses, is a mill. By the wheel, five feet in diameter, you would say it is a grist-mill and runs by water, but the glimpse of a couple of big dogs chained behind discloses the power that moves

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76   BETWEEN THE GATES.

that wheel, for they travel in it without going an inch. Some animals with less feet than Tray and Blanche make incessant efforts to advance with a like result. Tied to a post, they can travel all day without slipping the halter. That mill is a huge machine for sharpening shears, scissors, swords and chopping-knives. It has power enough to put an edge on the battle-ax of young Lochinvar.

A couple of breezy voices with a touch of the fore-castle in them raise a song above the din and roar and sharp castanet accompaniment of iron shoe and, flinty street. You turn and see something that might have been copied out of an old English seaport picture; a pair of 'tall, broad, rolling sailors in neat blue, with the flat tasseled caps and the neckerchief in the conventional salt-water knot. Each has but a single leg to go upon, and you catch yourself looking to see if the missing member is not shut up like a jack-knife, which might be the thing for a jack-tar; but no, it is clean gone, carried away, perhaps, by a cannon-shot, or else shut together like the tube of a telescope. Well, the two messmates with the one pair of legs, standing in the middle of the street, are singing jolly old sea-songs as salt as a mackerel, and swinging about on crutch and cane as the flakes of silver bits rattle down upon the pavement. Passing children bring out their dots of half dimes, and hurrying passers-by remember the old boys of the blue roundabout. It was a pleasant little touch of kindly feeling worth the time it took to see it.

You miss the trim-looking fellows in belted blue, silver buttoned, becapped, armed with clubs, and blazing with stars as big as Venus on the breasts of their coats. They are not here, but in their stead men in gray, neither


 

 

SAN FRANCISCO STREET SCENES.   77

showy nor obtrusive. The streets are safe to walk in by night and by day, and the city seems to a stranger to govern itself.

Here comes a covered wagon emblazoned " Flying Bakery "— a sort of flying battery of batter. It contains a table, chairs, stove, cook and driver. You step aboard, and in the turn of a hand, muffins are served up to you, as light as a wisp of fog and fresh from the fire. Brisk little two-wheelers go darting about jolly as a jaunting-car, and they are flying butteries, laden with butter in rolls shaped like a fruit-can, wrapped in tissue-paper and sweet as a field of red clover. Elephantine four-in-bands drawing huge wagons to match, are forever going and coming. Basket phaetons resembling runaway cradles are working in and out amid the great crashing wains and the saucy coaches and the cars of all colors, as busy as red ants in a flurry, that meet and cross and run side by side and swing about each other in a free-and-easy fashion. The streets are gridironed with tracks. You see thoroughfares lying up against the tall horizon, steep as a house roof, but the wagons go rattling down them at a reckless rate. You see a car at the foot of a hill, laden with passengers, and waiting behind a platform car with a lever in the middle of it, and an engineer without any engine. While you wait for the horses, that platform starts of its own accord, and tugs the car up that hill. It looks like a piece of witchcraft. The wooden horse of the Arab that went by a peg in his ear was not more magical. You see another car coming down without horse or hold-back. You are tempted to cry out, " The cars are running away with themselves!" The traction is an end-less chain beneath the track, the power a stationary engine


 

 

78   BETWEEN THE GATES.

on the top of the hill, and it draws up the cars like so many buckets of passengers. Looking at the cars black with people to the platforms, you say: everybody rides. Working your way through the counter-currents that flow and eddy and whirl around the corners, you say: everybody walks. Regarding both cars and pavements you say: everybody rides and the rest walk. The Italian fruit wagons are banging about; equestrians dashing to and fro upon horses that were born free and caught with a lariat — wiry fellows that will gallop all day without turning a hair.

Sometimes painters used to go to Gibraltar to copy the costumes of far countries that set the streets in a blaze; but to see nations, come to San Francisco! You meet a Spaniard in a wide hat, an Italian with ink in his hair, a correlative of frogs and soupe-maigre, all in a minute. A California Indian in still shoes, a moon-faced Mexican in partial eclipse and a sort of African by brevet, a Russian with a square chin and a furry look, all in three squares. You elbow South Americans, Australians, New Zealanders. You accost a man who was born in Brazil, who hails from Good Hope, who trades in Honolulu. One of the great Chinese merchants with an easy gait, an erect head and a boyish face, is coming around the corner. A man from Calcutta is behind you. " An Israelite in whom is no guile " is before you. The Scotch-man is here with the high cheek bones, the blue eyes, and the cutty-pipe and a word from Robby Burns in his mouth. The Dutch have taken us, and the Irish, do they not " thravel the round wurrld "? Of course, New-England is here, and New York and the South. They are every-where, but show us your Colombians and Peruvians and


 

 

SAN FRANCISCO STREET SCENES.   79

Sea-Islanders, and all sorts of people from the outer edges of geographies and the far borders of atlases, as here. Japanese and Chinese signs grow familiar to you in a week. Sclavonians and Mongolians are as thick as red pepper in East India curry. It is a tremendous Polyglot.

I write in the " Metropolitan Temple." It is built of pine from " the wild where rolls the Oregon," of fir, of sequoia, the giant redwood of California. Nothing composing the structure is familiar to Eastern eyes. We walk upon Portland stone, we drink melted ice from the Sierras, we write upon a portfolio from China, on paper kept in a cabinet from Japan, with a pen of California gold. We step upon a mat from Central America, recline upon a pillow woven of grass from the ocean, eat the eggs of sea-birds with shells clouded like Egyptian marble, sit in the shade of an Australian tree, and swing in a hammock from the Sandwich Islands.

"Stock three papers for ten cents!" is what the darting newsboys say to you when you land in San Francisco from the Overland Ferry. The swift Mercuries of the press are cleaner faced and better clothed than in the East. They are not gamins in any Parisian sense. They are vitalized atoms of California "stock!" and that is the key-note to everything on The Coast. It is a household word from the top of the Sierras to tide-water. The touchy and uncertain thermometers of California Street are read off in lonely ranches and in country cities. Almost everybody is interested—has made money, lost money, hoped money, in mining stocks. He has a bulletin-board on his gate-post. It is as if Wall Street were lengthened and widened to take in the whole of the Em-


 

 

80   BETWEEN THE GATES.

pire State. In San Francisco they deal in the raw material; bricks, bars, ingots, right from the mine; wealth in the original package; in what the mines promise; in what they perform. East, it is " cash down," it is " stamps." West, it is " out with the coin," " down with the dust." You get forty dollars in silver. There are eighty pieces; forty in the right pocket, forty in the left pocket, and there you are, an ass between two panniers, albeit it is a silver lading. How deftly your Californian pairs out the half dollars! They slip from one hand into the other as the creatures went into the ark, and as if they were born twins. On the Atlantic, money is as sonorous, to use old President Backus's simile, as if you should make a bell of a buff cap with a lamb's tail in it. On the Pacific, it is jingle and ring week in and week out. You pay as you go. A half dollar sheds its scales in no time, and nothing is left of it but " a short bit." It looks larger to you than a withered leaf of postal currency. It is more dignified, because its gravity is greater.

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SAN FRANCISCO is a city where people are never any more abroad than when they are at home. They

support three hundred and fifty Restaurants, where all the delicacies and luxuries of this season or any other can be obtained at prices low enough to throw a Chicago caterer into bankruptcy. Not less than fifty thousand people eat at Restaurants, and live in lodgings; perhaps thirty thousand more at the ninety hotels and the eight hundred lodging-houses and the six hundred boarding-places of the city, besides a herd of five thousand that drift from lunch table to lunch table, like so many cattle grazing in a range. It is a Teutonic paradise, there being forty-two breweries; and as for liquors, there are enough to make a pretty heady punch of the Bay of San Francisco, if only they should play Boston Tea-Party with the stock in trade all at once, and rouse a fearful revel in the sign of Pisces, the Fishes, giving an extra tumble to the porpoises, and putting the sharks hors de combat. They tell of " dry statistics," but here is a bit of the wet variety: there are drinking-places so many, that a copper-lined man can take an observation through the bottom of his drained glass once a day for ten years, and not visit the same place twice!

And there are two hundred and sixty bakeries, enough .

Sl

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to make dough of a small harvest in a week. "Our daily bread " is tumbled out of the ovens by the ton. Seeing the fruit and vegetables everywhere, in a profusion and variety before unknown, you infer that this is a graminivorous people; but being nearly run down and made meat of yourself, by uncounted butchers' four-in-hands and dashing carts, a dozen times in a couple of days, and learning that there are four hundred and fifty knights of the white apron, butcher-knife and cleaver, you are morally certain this community is as carnivorous as a Royal Bengal tiger.

And then you go to one after another of the thirteen Public Markets, and there you read the whole story at a glance. San Francisco is undoubtedly omnivorous. A stroll through the " California," the " Washington," or the " Grand Central," will give a dyspeptic man a desire to go out and hang himself. Everything edible that creeps, swims, crawls, runs or flies is here. Forty-pound salmon, the grand fish of the Coast, are heaped in great red slabs like planks of the red sequoia; sturgeon hauled out of the Bay from fifty pounds weight to four hundred; rock-trout with their dappled sides; smelts of slender silver; soles that look as if they grew in slices; those piscatorial infants, the white-bait; calves' heads, their smooth cheeks and chins clean shaven as friars. There is one now with a curious Chinese smile, calf-like " and bland "; mouthfuls of sparrows rolled up in their little jackets and passing for reed-birds; rabbits that simulate rats; lobsters all claws like a legislative bill. Here is a table that runs to tongues, toes and brains. Regardless of the " R's " in the names of the months, oysters are in order the year


 

 

THE ANIMAL, MAN.   83

round; clams likewise, but if they fail it is not so much matter, as morsels of leather well-seasoned will do.

Shrimps—you know shrimps—are heaped about by the bushel. They are ten-legged, long-tailed crustaceans, with whiskers enough for one of Campbell's " whiskered pandours." A plate of those vermin is set before you at a restaurant—by way of recreation, while you are waiting for something to eat. It is all right, but how much more amusing it would be to have them alive! You could plague them with a stick, the precious bugs, and the restaurants could use them again. Here are box ter

rapins about the size

of the old Congressional snuff-box, with a head at one end and a taper tail at the other; sausages

  • " the savory meat" of the Old Testament

  • of every color and

size, from chimney-black to poppy-red, and from puppy to hippopotamus. Mottled and speckled and marbled and freckled, they are the very mosaic of meat. There is one that looks like an elephant's foot.

Everything from the gardens of the year round is here. I count twenty-two varieties of vegetables upon a single stand. Upon another are cocoanuts, oranges, lemons, limes, melons, pineapples, plums, figs, blackberries, rasp-berries, strawberries, apricots, pears, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, grapes, apples, cherries. Now add anything you happen to think of, and it is there. Do you know gumbo? A green, fluted, West-Indies pod, coming to a point like

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a spontoon. A little persuasion turns it into soup. By its name it ought to come from Guinea. Here are gorgeous flowers; and beneath them cages of dogs and doves. California chickens are mostly of the breed that Pharaoh had when his corn-crop failed, and their corn-crops also, but ducks, geese and turkeys are desirable.

"JOHN," THE HEATHEN.

You seem to be in the sign of Libra, the Scales. There is John, the taper-eyed, with his blue shirt and his wapsy trousers, and snubby shoes, and his black braid of stub and twist, thirty thousand of him, going about with a springy pole balanced upon his shoulder, and a deep bushel basket swung from each end, filled with " garden truck." Libra, the Scales, catches the spring of that pole in his knee-joints, and goes teetering about in the most outre and monkeyish manner. If you leave the city and plunge into a canon, you meet John with his pole and his panniers, a peripatetic pair of scales. He is the only man in the world who makes a trunk of a spring-pole.

John always forgets to tuck in his shirt, and if he is well-to-do he wears two, white beneath and blue or black without. He finishes dressing where the rest of mankind begin. What would you have? He advances backward and retreats forward, and falls upward and rises down-ward. He is the animal man inverted, subverted, perverted, and everything but converted. Discover how the world always does anything, and that is precisely the way John never does it. Thus, the other day he was arrested for stabbing a countryman, and where do you suppose he


 

 

THE ANIMAL, MAN.   85

struck him? Why, in the sole of his foot, and that is the Chinese of it.

To me he looks as much alike as a flock of sheep. Shepherds tell me they can distinguish any one in a flock of a thousand by its face, but John is too much alike for me. I pass him on the street, and then in a minute I meet him. To be sure he has changed his shirt and his shoes, but he has kept his face. He took some soiled handkerchiefs of mine one day to wash, which he did not return, and his name it was Foo Ling. So I went out to find him. I succeeded in three minutes. I over-took him, and passed him, and met him. He had those little wipers-away of tears, as white and square as so many satin invitations to a wedding, in his hand, in a towel, in a basket, but he said he was not he, and I was somebody else. It was a fearful case of mistaken identity. The streets were crowded with him,— but alas for Foo Ling, it was fooling he was. It was one of his " ways that are dark." If the devil should have his due, why not John? Without him the Central Pacific road would have waited completion many a long day. Without him San Francisco would not be the cleanest-collared and cuffed and bosomed city in America. Its inhabitants are as white around the edges as the brim of a lily. Neither in New York nor Chicago do you see faultless linen so universal. A laborer's clothes may be out at the knees or the elbows, or any other exposed point to wear and tear, but he is quite sure to show a bosom and collar immaculate. John is a laundry. He can wash, iron, crimp and flute fit for an angel. He is handier than Bridget. He is master of suds, an artist in starch, and a marvel to sprinkle. You should see him do it. He

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takes up a mouthful of water as your horse drinks, and out it plays in a spray so fine that were it a breath mistier it would float away in a cloud. People have unfortunate ways of putting things. They say he spits on the clothes. It is as little like it as the feathery spray of a garden fountain. People visiting China, as you and I will, look through the Celestial markets for rats. They hunt the file-tailed rodent like Scotch terriers, They expect to find him hung by the heels to a perch, just as good Christians bestride that same roost with the delicate and infantile hinder legs of Batrachians, which are frogs, which are tadpoles, which are polliwogs, which are the verdant scum called spawn. Let us play leap-frog and be happy! Let us suffer him to make a bonnebouche of hen's feet while we dispose of the gizzards, and serve up his bird's nests at will while we eat pinfeathery squabs with not a bone in their bodies.

John is a problem that never got into Euclid. We speak slightingly of him, we despise his effeminate look, his insignificant stature, his shirt, his slouch, and the three feet of heathenism in his back-hair. We scout him altogether. But somehow he has gotten into every crack and crevice of the Pacific Coast. Like an invasion of ants, he is everywhere under foot. He is born into this country, not one at a time, but five hundred at a birth. He has made himself useful within doors and without. We eat of his cookery, we wear the garments he has kissed with a hot iron, we ride over the railroads he has builded, and lie upon the pillow he has smoothed. Dogs have been known to take to cats instead of after them, but it is not the rule. Americans have been known to love John, but it is seldom. The sight of him seems to


 

 

THE ANIMAL, MAN.   87

rouse something of the ugliness that lurks in almost everybody.

But his position and destiny have assumed a dignity that commands respect. John has gotten into Congress, and inspired a virulent hatred in the breasts of thou-sands. They would organize him out of existence with the Anti-Coolie Societies, and the Caucasian Orders, and the White Leagues. But he is here, spring-poles, baskets, opium, pig-tail, idols and all. He came legally. He

remains lawfully. He labors 'assiduously. The only general sentiment of admiration he inspires is when he dies and goes to—China. Sensible men want some of him, but not the five hundred millions behind. Those mighty magnates of hot water, the railroad kings, and the mighty ranchmen who cannot look upon their ranges in a day's ride, and whose flocks and herds are uncounted—these men, these monstrous and unnatural products of the Pacific Slope, want all they can get of him. They would elide the true " golden mean" of American society, the

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white Christians who toil with their hands, and leave Midases at one end of humanity and heathens and slaves at the other — a social state that is a libel on the age, a disgrace to man and a dishonor to God.

"HOODLUM," THE CHRISTIAN?

Should a skittish horse come suddenly upon the word "Hoodlum," and it looked and sounded to equine organs as it looks and sounds to mine, that horse would take fright and run away. You instinctively infer it names some creature of the cat kind, monstrous and anomalous, as if a puma should swap heads with the great horned owl. The very word looks as if it might have a verbal lair all by itself, and prowl through the unprotected language by night. It is never found in a place so reputable as Webster's Dictionary.

The thing it names is a two-footed, human, semi-tropical animal, but he is neither the rowdy, the Five-Pointer, the wharf rat, the Bowery boy or the bummer. They are his congeners, but he is a creature of finer grain, of hotter blood, of better breed as breeds go, and infinitely more of a power. He roams San Francisco like the ownerless dogs of Constantinople. He is never alone. He goes in packs. He is from twelve to twenty-two years of age, and seldom gets any older. He doesn't die, but, like the fawn, he loses his spots. I beg pardon of the fawn!

You see him, a slender, wiry, active fellow with some affectation of style, a jaunty way with his hat, a saucy jerk with his elbow, an alert and saucy eye; a free, letall-go stride like a panther's; a sharp-edged chin that can pull out upon occasion like a wash-stand drawer;


 

 

THE ANIMAL, MAN.   89

lean in the flank and lean all over. As Christopher North would say, he is " scranky." A fat Hoodlum would be as great a curiosity as a plethoric greyhound. He often wears good clothes, and may be the son of most respect-able parents. There is about one flight of stairs below him in the cellars of human degradation. He has a ready tongue, a ready knife, and a hand that turns to knuckles any minute. Always reckless and shameless, often desperate, tyrannical by nature, and apprenticed to the devil by his own consent, he makes night hideous and darkness dangerous. No roystering sailors ashore, no bullies on the rampage, can compare with a pack of Hoodlums.

He is a creature impossible in any country with a New England winter and the homes that are born of it. He is the product of two causes: an out-of-door climate where January and June are all one, and the loose, nomadic life of the Restaurants. Home has neither charm nor restraint for him. He eats where it chances, he sleeps where " the wee sma' hours ayont the 'twal" overtake him. The Chinaman is a heathen at one end of the human race, the Hoodlum is a heathen at the other, and extremes meet. In their knowledge of Jesus Christ they are a match. Should the Hoodlums increase like the wielders of joss-sticks, it would take a standing army to keep the peace. A home-made. heathen in a Christian land is an utter heathen.

But the Hoodlum may partially atone for his damaging existence, by furnishing the only check to excessive immigration that exists. John fears him, and rumors of his fame have gone back to the Flowery Kingdom. The representative of "cheap labor" is the object of his malignant abuse, in part, perhaps, because John will do man's work '

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90   BETWEEN THE GATES.

at boys' prices, and in part, because of the devil of which the Hoodlum is seized and possessed. He rings John by the cue as if he were a fire-bell. He jostles ,him from the sidewalk, robs him, and occasionally kills him, to keep his hand in. It is a. little as if the government kept a pack of dogs to worry John out of America.

Yesterday I saw a ten-year-old Hoodlum in a narrow street with a troop of urchins of low degree. He had a pistol and a chin, and just as I passed, he ground out through his set teeth, "I'm a bloody robber!" and fell upon one of the boys and stole his hat. The villainous look on that lad's face was twenty years old if it was a minute. Altogether, San Francisco has two sorts of heathen — the domestic and the imported. If she could only trade with China six Hoodlums for one John, she would be doing a living business, and ameliorating in a local way the condition of the human race. As it is, what with debarking from foreign ships and clambering out of home cradles, " the Greeks are at her doors," and on both sides of them at that!

I have before me a characteristic visiting card that illustrates the possibility of eyes changing color, though the Ethiopian must keep to the shady side and the leopard stick to the old spots. It runs thus:

BLACK EYES,
OR ANY DISCOLORATION OF THE FACE,
CAREFIILLY PAINTED OVER.
PARTIES TREATED AT THEIR RESIDENCES.

What a card for a Donnybrook Fair, and what a trump this frescoer of human top-lights would be, to be sure! I know few better places for such a card than the Hoodlum letter-box.


 

 

PICNICS.

The weather has a singular effect on the calendar. Thus a California week begins on Monday, and the rest of the days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Picnic-day. Picnics are as sure as a Sharpe's rifle, and no rain ever wets the powder. A girl can go in satin shoes with impunity, and her "fellow" wear a sky-blue necktie that, if it could rain, would make the front of him look like a blue gum-tree in full leaf. He has as little need of an umbrella as a rainbow. Nearly all the picnics go by water, but never in it. They cross the Bay to all sorts of resorts and parks and gardens, but they never get wet—outside.

Californians are gregarious as pigeons and clannish as Highlanders. Everybody is sorted out, from tinkers to architects, and distributed into Societies, like so much type, apparently to be semper paratus for a picnic, as the "Minute Men" of Concord were for a fight; and, like printers' types, they sometimes get " set up" just to carry out the figure, and are carried out themselves. There are three hundred and eighty-five Societies in San Francisco, every one of which is bound to picnic at least once a year, and they bear all the names ever known on the Atlantic seaboard, and some besides. There are " Foresters," " Red Men," " Knights of the Red Branch," "Caucasians," " Janissaries of Light," "Oak Leaf," "Ivy," "Pioneers," " Kong Choiv," " Twilight," " Greek Russian Slavonian Society," the names of its officers all ending in vich, as Zenovich, Radovich; and those amiable animals, "The Benevolent Elks"—think of amiable elks! and then the Sons of nearly everybody — Liberty, Golden States, Golden Gate, Golden West, Faderland, Motherland, Revolutionary

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Sires; and closing up the column with Patrons and Sovereigns and Grangers and Ranchers that seem about as much in place in the city as a camel would, swimming the Hellespont. This passion for cutting people up into orders is carried almost within range of the atomic theory. If one man could be subdivided into several orders and institutions, by reducing him to vulgar• fractions, and giving him all sorts of names, such as the order of the Red Right Hand, The Good Liver Club, The True Hearts, The Knights of Shinbone Alley — could this be done without killing him outright, they would have put him in a condition to envy the unhappy man who used to stand with his feet apart like the Colossus of Rhodes on the first page of the old almanac, to be butted by Aries, gored by Taurus, roared at by Leo, shot at by Sagittarius, and abused by the whole twelve signs of the Zodiac.

One of my first experiences countryward was a church picnic, by steamer and rail, to a lovely place called Fair-fax, owned by descendants of the Fairfaxes of old Virginia, and neighbors within breakfast range of George Washington. The boat swarmed with men, women and children. The church. sang hymns, and the band played " The Devil among the Tailors." Arrived at the grounds, the crowd scattered away in groups, some to eat, some to swing, some to dance. The band struck up while sinners danced and saints looked on. The instruments of brass and the instruments of ten strings whirled away in the dizzy waltz, and " Hold the Fort" and " The Evergreen Mountains of Life" floated up from the hollow of the little valley's hand, and were swallowed by the big bas-soon. Sunday-school children ran round and round and


 

 

TILE ANIMAL, MAN.   93

in and out among the whirling sets like squirrels in a wheel. The church drank coffee and the world drank lager, the song went up and the band went on. Nobody quarreled or collided. If Jonah was in the crowd no-body threw him overboard, for the heavens and the earth were fair and calm as old Ben Adhem's dream of peace.

It was a curious spectacle. It was a sort of Happy Family. It was a little as if the leopard lay down with the lamb and didn't eat it, and the little child interviewed the lion without a scratch, and the fatling became a great calf. What sort of vignette for a Millennium Hymn the scene would make, would take an artist's eye to see, but at least it was worth the record, as showing how climate expands latitudes until every degree is a hundred miles long.

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COAST, FORTY-NINERS AND CLIMATE.

THE geographies have been amended so that there is but one ocean, and the ocean has but one coast, and the coast is California—the widest, longest, liveliest, richest, grandest coast that ever had an edge in salt water—nine hundred miles one way by a thousand the other. It would seem to a modest Eastern eye that nine hundred thousand square miles of nothing but continental selvedge must lap inland territory pretty broadly, but it does not. The world is divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, Madagascar, British America, the United States and California, and the last is like charity—it is the greatest.

" The Coast." That is what they call it, and to him who sees it to-day and remembers it twenty-nine years ago, the sublime assurance of the emphatic phrase seems pardonable, and resentment is succeeded by an amiable smile. A sort of defiant self-reliance characterizes your genuine Californian. He was educated to it in the toughest and rudest of schools. He found himself divorced from the world—and sometimes from his wife—by an ox-team trail of two thousand miles through deserts and over mountains on the one side, and a voyage on two oceans through a couple of zones and around Cape Horn on the other. He was about as naked-handed as Robin-

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COAST, FORTY-NINERS AND CLIMATE.   95

son Crusoe before he caught his first goat. From the time he wanted it to the time he got it made everything a year old when it was born into California. What he did, this great city, this marvelous country shows forth on every hand. He fell to and made everything himself. You find San Francisco, in art, invention, production, science, about as self-sustaining as an independent planet. He began with tents. He ended with palaces. His wife wanted silk for a dress. He made it. His daughter de-sired a piano. He made it. His children play "jack-stones " with agates. He grows gold. He cultivates silver. He bottles mercury. He raises stock country-ward and stocks cityward. He has gone to manufacturing doctors, lawyers and preachers. He has raised Mil-tons that are " inglorious" because they are not "mute." He has not reared anybody to his prime yet. He hasn't had time. You can raise perfect women in twenty-five years, but men that are going to stand late -frosts and blights and early Autumns and Northers, do not get ripe at twenty-seven. They taste of the rind, the husk, the shell, or whatever kind of human fruit they are meant to make.

The Californian twenty-two carats fine is twenty-nine years old in this year of grace '78. No matter how old he was when he came here. If he came in '49, that's the year of his birth by California noon-marks and calendars. He forgets that he was ever born before, or born any-where else. He forgets what he left behind him, even to the girl, sometimes, and like the last fowl that left the Ark, he never returns. You meet him every day. He tells you he has not been East in twenty years, and he has no idea of going in twenty more. He knows as


 

 

96   BETWEEN THE GATES.

much of the trans-continental railroad as he does of the stage-route to Jericho.

There is an association of Forty-niners called The Pioneers. " The king can do no wrong," and they all be-long to the royal family, eldest sons, every man of them. They have kept pace with " The Coast," and it has been a round one, but they have not marched abreast with the Eastern world. They are ignorant what gigantic strides the Atlantic coast—let us be modest, and bridle it with an adjective and humble it with a little " c "—and the inter-ocean empires are making. They came when California was not a State, but a predicament; when it was a Spanish-Russian-Indian-Mexican wilderness, and about as hideous and inhospitable as an Hyrcanian tiger. They spoke of home as "the States," and it has descended as a tradition, and so you hear the suckling California neophytes of half-a-dozen years talk flippantly of " the States." The impudent infants should be sent, but not exactly with palm branches in their hands, supperless to bed.

But for your genuine old Forty-niner, covered with Spanish moss and mistletoe, there is some apology when he says " the States." It is a fragment of his ancient talk. And yet there is an evident relish in it to him, as if California were not in the Union at all, but an in-dependent existence. He scorns its greenbacks, its nickels and its copper goddesses of Liberty. He is impatient of criticism. He thinks you an infant, and therefore speech-less, because you are new to California. Should he find a toad in the center of a Coast boulder, he would doff his hat to him as to a Californian older than himself.

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COAST, FORTY-NINERS AND CLIMATE.   97

cause it is genuine. You cannot be around with it a great while without catching it yourself. It is a sort of condensed abridgment of old John Adams patriotism, bound like a book in the covers of California. They cheer " old glory" with the ardor of a perennial Fourth of July, but it looks grander and lovelier, flaring like a flame of fire in the gales from the Pacific, than drooping from its staff over the dome of the Federal Capitol. It quite startles you to hear a band strike up " Hail Columbia," as if they knew it, and not "Hail California," as if it played of its own accord. The wonder is, that there has not been a Coast Anthem before now, a sort of private " Marseillaise" of their own.

The climate of the Coast stimulates men and women like wine. It gives them courage that is not Dutch but weather, and confidence that is not conceit but intoxication. It quickens the pulse and the step and the brain. It sends them wild for pleasurable excitement. It strengthens the passions. It keeps everybody under whip and spur. It makes him impatient of patience. You live ten years in five, and it is scored against you. It is a debt with inevitable payment. A man who has not attained his mental growth can come here and shoot up for ten years like a rocket. But alas, when he comes down, it is sudden, abrupt, like " the stick." A man who has reached his law of limitation can migrate to California, and flash up brilliantly a little longer.

Watch bricklayers, brisk in their motions as busy ants. Those men at the East would move with the de-liberation of an old hall-clock pendulum with the weights just running down. It,is the climate. Seventy miles in twenty-four hours at the East, over a satin road in De-

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cember, is a Jehuc of a drive. Here sixty miles before sunset hurts nobody. Your horse has been drinking California air. He will do his best, or die a-trying. But he will not last, any more than his master. He will want an extra feed. The driver will want an extra drink. He cannot be a chameleon. He cannot live for-ever on air. He looks in a tumbler for a stimulant. By-and-by he flickers, and it is "out, brief candle!" It is the climate. It sharpens appetite.

Boys and girls are born with percussion caps on. Touch them and they explode. They ripen early, in this sun and tonic air, into manhood and womanhood. You can see mothers of fourteen, and see no marvel. About forty thousand pupils are enrolled in the fifty-six public schools of San Francisco, and seven thousand in the hundred and twenty private schools and colleges. It is quite as difficult to govern the young human California animal as it is to catch up a globule of quicksilver from a marble table with a thumb and finger. Is it a boy? He shouts, runs, leaps, struggles, just as his pulse beats—because he cannot stop it. He has- opinions, though his beard is a peachy down. He is as positive as a trip-hammer. Is it a girl? She is as volatile as Cologne, her voice is joyous, her step a dancer's, her laugh contagious. She is as dashing as a yacht in a white-cap breeze.

I live neighbor to the Lincoln School, as fine a structure as you will find anywhere, and set in the midst of a semi-tropical garden. You should see the twelve hundred boys and girls "let out " at noon, and then let themselves out. Swallows coursing a mill-pond; ephemera dancing in sunbeams; bees swarming when the hive is full; happy as speckled trout in the spring brooks, Izaak


 

 

COAST, FORTY-NINERS AND CLIMATE.   99

Walton dead and the anglers gone away; not boisterous, but breezy; not rude, but effervescent. You would not be surprised if the mercury in their veins should distance the mercury in the thermometer and stand at 110°. Quick-eyed, quick-footed, quick-witted, they are forever on a " spree," they exult in a state of chronic climatic intoxication. They are languid as lizards, clumsy as humming-birds, and idle as beavers in high water. Laziness is tried out of you and blown out of you by cloud-less suns and trade-winds.

The weather is as varied in California as the mind of desultory man. Three hundred heroes at the Pass of Thermopylae withstood a hostile world. Excluding those that wear wool, there are as many weathers on the Pacific Slope. When the king of Dahomey and an- Arctic bear can breakfast together in the morning, and each reach his own climate before decent Puritan bed-time without leaving the State, the man who fails to be suited knows too little to be happy, and the bear should be eaten by the " forty children " who alluded to the Prophet's capillary destitution. All the zones come to California for rehearsal, and then they go home to delight Hottentots and Laplanders, eider ducks and cassowaries, and all the sons of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Nowhere in America are the seasons so neighborly as in California. The impropriety of Winter sitting in the lap of Spring has made a public scandal, but when September is on whispering terms with May, and January borrows June's clothes, and July gives all her rainbows to November, it is high time to talk! The Winter is in the Summer and the Spring is in the Winter, and harvest is in seed-time, and Autumn is lost out of the calendar


 

 

100   BETWEEN THE GATES.

altogether; and the siroccos blow from the North and the cold winds from the South, and you must sail by the almanac or lose your reckoning and get lost in the weather.

The effect of this loose state of society among the Seasons is delightfully apparent. You never saw such ignorant roses in all your life. They bud and blossom the year round, and never stop to undress or take a wink of sleep. Ripening fruit and baby blossoms show on the same bush at once as they do in well-blest human families. Cherry trees go into the ruby business in April and keep it up until October. The hills are emerald in the Winter. Ireland would glory in them, and the shamrock grow as big as burdocks. The hills are tawny as African lions or Sahara sands in the Summer. The grasses look withered and dry as tinder, but they hold the concentrated richness of the year cooked down by fire. Turn out an emaciated old ox that resembles a hoop-skirt with a hide on, and though you would make affidavit that on such fare he will resemble a hoop-skirt with the hide off in six weeks, yet the old yoke-bearer will grow fat, smooth and round as a silk hat. The cattle of California are unexcelled for breed and beauty. Go where you will, the splendid " milky mothers of the herd " look handsome enough to sit to Landseer. Rosa Bonheur would be tempted to desert her kind and live with them. The butter of the Coast is as sweet as the dew of June.

The dry spiry grass you see is hay. You do not think that Balaain's beast would covet it. It was cured without cutting. There is no rain to wash out its strength, and it just stands there, desiccated grass, waiting for somebody to eat it. You do not have to tickle


 

 

COAST, FORTY-NINERS AND CLIMATE.   101

it with a fork and toss it about the lot, and comb it with a rake, as they do at the East. Wheat cut green and stacked is used in place of timothy. California is the paradise for laziness and grangers. There's a field of wheat ripe unto whiteness, ripe unto redness. No rain to rust it, no thieves to steal it, no touch to shell it; there it stands waiting for its master. It would stand all summer. It is faithful as Ulysses' dog. It is not lugged to the barn, and tugged out of wagons and " boosted " in again. In this field they are threshing. In that field they are bagging, and those plethoric sacks will lie there as safe from rain as a heap of boulders. That grain will never know its owner has a barn.

THE PACIFIC BREEZES.

For Eastern blood the continent has no Summer climate equal to that of San Francisco. No languid days, no enervating nights, no steam to breathe, no lightning flash to dodge. It is in the route of the trade-winds, that make a friendly call every day for half the year. They come through The Golden Gate like the king's trumpeters, in a hurry, but never hurry enough for a hurricane. More tonic weather passes that gate in the afternoon than all the lungs and windmills in America could dispose of. To the stranger it is at first a little strong. Cold catches him. He growls and barks. He thinks he has that musical instrument called catarrh, but wait awhile, and it will turn into something pleasant: the catarrh is a guitar, and the cheering, invigorating wind welcome as the " one blast upon his bugle-horn

that was worth " a thousand men." Often in the morning it looks like rain and you think umbrella. You fancy

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102   BETWEEN THE GATES.

the dark and angry clouds are threatening, but they are no more clouds than a Scotch mist is a thunder shower. It is only fog from the Pacific that rolled in last night. It will all be neatly reefed by ten o'clock in the morning, like a ship's top-hamper, and out of sight. You see it coming in, leaving the tops of the hills and swinging about below in wreathy, gray gauze, like a woman's veil in the wind. It settles upon the city. You button your overcoat against it. You walk briskly and breast it. It does not taste like the fog of " The States." It comes from the salted sea, a sort of pickled relish, as if Lot's wife should become deliquescent; not close and smothering, but crisp and bracing. And this fog is the summer rain of the Pacific. The spotted flowers revel in it like speckled trout in brook water. It washes the air out as a dexterous hand wipes a crystal globe. This is all true of San Francisco, but right in the midst of the afternoon zephyr, you can go to Oakland in thirty minutes, where there is not wind enough to flutter a flounce. The suburbs are fairly dappled with weather. Take your choice and be happy.

The tourist to California is anxious about what he shall wear, and the writer being here to tell him, is bound to be explicit. Leave all your Winter clothes at home and bring your Summer clothes. To be emphatic, let me say it again: Leave all your Summer clothes at home and bring your Winter clothes. If a month's travel in the State could not make this vexatious pair of contradictions as harmonious as the Four Gospels, then leave all your clothes at home and stay to keep them company. You see furs, feathers Ind gauzes, shirt-sleeves and overcoats all Summer long, but nobody in San Fran-


 

 

COAST, FORTY-NINERS AND CLIMATE.   103

cisco ever has a chilblain or a sunstroke. The mercury ranges from 60° to 75° during the average year, and it never drops down cellar or flies out of the chimney. Once acclimated, people change little but their linen and their opinions during the twelve months.

WEATHER ON MAN.

Having always had man on the weather, why not reverse the authorship and have weather on the man? It has become an axiom that " circumstances make the

man." Have you not

been puzzled, some-times, to think how one of these sayings got a seat among the axioms and nobody objected? And then you felt a little as Haman did when he saw Mordecai, the Jew, sitting in the

king's gate. If climate   o'~ESFO

is a circumstance, then

the axiom is an axiom. A poet of the rude Northern frozen nations is called a scald, because, perhaps, that is the pleasantest thing a man can think of who has to fight frost for a lifetime; but did you ever hear of a great Laplander or an intellectual Hottentot? Neither refrigerators nor furnaces are precisely the places to develop standard men. Now California weather will make a man belligerent and aggressive. It will put new springs in his temper, and make it as quick as a steel trap. It will take your Eastern neighbor, who used to go about

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with his long gray coat, like old Grimes's, " all buttoned down before," and compel him to unbutton that garment, and exchange a heavy waistcoat for a white vest, and set him sailing down the street like a sloop with a brand-new foresail. He was a trifle too affectionate to the American eagle, especially when that bird was perched upon a coin, but the weather makes him generous, opens his heart and band as it opened his overcoat. And there is the other roan who went about from June to September, his shirted back marked with the visible X of his suspenders like a cask of low-grade ale, and looking for cool places, and what with being dizzy in the sun and lazy in the shade, was quite unable to master anything but fans and ice-water. He would be delighted to look for truth in the bottom of a well if he could only stay there. He is energetic as two hundred pounds of putty. Now this other man comes to California, and the next you know of him he is up and clothed and in his right mind, marching in the blaze of noon as happy as a sunflower, and never dreaming that oranges grow golden in the very weather he exults in, and he mentally adapting the beatitude of Sancho Panza upon the man who invented sleep: blessed be he who invented a San Francisco Summer! But even the perfect weather does not make a heaven.

San Francisco is "of the earth, earthy." It has two atoms of things that are both in a lively state of unrest in Summer time. They are fleas and dust, and both products of the blessed weather; but the first are only innocent dots of acrobats, the mustard-seed of full-grown circuses, and the last will leave no darker trace upon a lady's garments than a pinch of salt. The first day of your arrival, when you are filling and tacking and


 

 

COAST, FORTY-NINERS AND CLIMATE.   105

beating up the breeze, and bowing to it as if it were a friend, and blinking at the dust that waltzes at you round the corners, and bears down upon you at an anapestic gait, as Byron's Assyrian came, and you winking at it all as if you had just made a joke and were pleased with it, you vow you will go home to-morrow. And when you are hunting from chin to gaiters for the prince of leapers, and assuring yourself that "the wicked flee when no man pursueth " is not the kind of insect that has just doubled the cape of your left shoulder, and taking yourself to pieces at all hours and never catching anything but a cold, you declare you will go home to-night. But the weeks go on, and the winds blow on, and the fleas leap on, and you stay on, at first resigned, at last delighted.

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CHAPTER IX. GOING TO CHINA.

YOU can reach China and not "go down to the sea in ships." I went one night and returned before the cock crowed midnight. Missionaries used to sail away to Pagan lands, and drop slowly down into the underworld behind the great waves that lapped the horizon. Now, they can visit the " Central Flowery Kingdom" without wetting their feet. We boys used to fancy that somewhere or other there was a hole through the globe direct to China, if only we could find it—a sort of flue for the fragrant cloud supposed to rise from the world's tremendous teapot. I remember looking for it in boyhood, and flushing with a discovery supposing myself a small Christopher Columbus. It was not a Chinaman at the bottom of that burrow, but a woodchuck.

That hole has been found. The city of the Golden Gate happened to be built just around its mouth, and John has swarmed up out of it like swallows from a sooty chimney. Through the courtesy of the chief of police a party of friends, of whom I was one, was furnished with passports to Hong Kong or Peking or Nanking, and with a special officer of intelligence, we sailed. Fancy yourself walking along the gay streets of San Francisco in the edge of the evening—streets bright with light, pleasant with familiar forms, musical with English speech,

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GOING TO CHINA..   107

and feeling all the while, that under the patriotic flight of July flags as thick as pigeons and as gay as redbirds, you were still at home though thousands of miles away — fancy this, and then at the turn of a corner and the breadth of a street, think of dropping with the abruptness of a shifting dream into China, beneath the standard of Hoang-ti who sits upon the dragon throne — that triangle of a flag with its blue monster rampant in a yellow sea. And it is China, unmitigated, debased, idolatrous; unmoved as a rock in the ocean, with the surges of Christian civilization washing the walls of its dwellings.

A strange chatter as of foreign birds in an aviary con-fuses the air. A surf of blue and black shirts and inky heads with tails to them is rolling along the sidewalks. Colored lanterns begin to twinkle. Black-lettered red signs all length and no breadth, the gnarled and crooked characters heaped one above another like a pile of ebony chair-frames, catch the eye. You halt at a building tinseled into cheap magnificence, and hung with gaudy paper glims. The old, far away smell of the lead-lined tea-chest comes back to you—the pale green chest, of whose leaden cuticle you made "sinkers" when you fished with a pin, that used to be tumbled round the world to reach you, with Old Hyson, Young Hyson old Hyson's son, Hysonskin and Bohea.

The creak of a Chinese fiddle shaped a little like a barometer all bulb and little body, scrapes through a crack in a door, as if it was rasped in getting out. Lights stream up from cellar stairs. Odors that are not light steam up with them.


 

 

A CHINESE RESTAURANT.

You enter the Restaurant. It is the " Banquet Saloon " of Yune Fong. And there is Yune Fong himself, a benign, double-chinned old boy who is of a bigness from end to end. He sits by a counter, at which small bits of human China are busy setting words on their heads. Under his hand is a well-thumbed arithmeticon, a family of boys' marbles strung like beads upon parallel wires and set in a frame, wherewith Fong cyphers out your indebtedness and his profits. This floor is a helter-skelter of store-house, kitchen and reception room. China jars and things in matting and things in tinsel and things in packs, and seats as hard as the fellow's perch who was " sitting on the stile, Mary." It is the eating place for the sort of people we are said to have always with us, to wit, the poor. Things have a smoky, oleaginous, flitch-of-bacon look. The lights are feeble, as if there were nothing worth their while to shine on. You climb stairs into an improved edition of the ground floor. The furniture is faintly tidier and better, the table-ware costlier. This is the resort of the happier John whose "short bit" is a quarter. One more lift and you are in large and elegant apartments with partitions of glass, a sort of oriental Delmonico's, gilded and colored and flowered and latticed like a costly work-box or a fancy valentine. The furniture is of Chinese wood dark as mahogany at a hundred years old. The chairs are square and ponderous as those at Mount Vernon, their seats inlaid with marble and covered with mat-like cushions; the tables, rich marble mosaics. Lacquered boxes and curious cabinets abound. Musical instruments, of patterns as quaint as any that Miriam ever sang to, hang upon the walls. There is one

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GOING TO CHINA.   109

of them. You can get an idea of it by fancying a paddle of a pudding-stick turning into a fiddle. The Chinese like to have their ears abused while they regale their palates. A carpeted platform at one end of a banqueting room is a couch, and garnished with two cubic pillows of some sea-grass material, about as hard as Jacob's pillow in the Wilderness, and ingeniously uncomfortable. But you can see a ruder sort down-stairs: hard blocks scooped out to fit— a kind of wooden dish for a block-head, and nearer like Jack Ketch's execution block than anything else an unhappy man ever lay down upon and fell. asleep.

" WE'LL ALL TAKE TEA."

You call for tea, and a couple of waiters border a circular table with a Zodiac of tiny blue-flowered cups each with a cover, and a China spoon as broad as a boy's

tongue. Pale cakes with a waxen look, full of meats, are brought out. They are sausages in disguise. Then more cakes full of seeds as a fig. Then giblets of you-neverknow-what, maybe gizzards, possibly livers, perhaps toes, but not a rat. You must be as crazy as Hamlet to fancy you even hear one in the wainscot. Then preserved ginger and Chinese chestnuts and prepared rice. Last and greatest, TEA. The drawings are in the cups, and Aquarius, the water-bearer, floods them with hot water, replaces the covers, and then a fragrant breath as from a rare bouquet fills the air. This is tea, genuine, delicate, strong as old wine of the cob-webbed vintage of '36. This is what our grandmothers who chinked up their hearts on

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" washing-days" with Cowper's "cup that cheers," sighed for, and like the ancient leader, died without the sight. It sets tongues running. The weak are mighty, and the weary comforted. The precious leaf is worth five dollars a pound. This third-floor restaurant is for magnates; it is a region rarefied to " four bits." What you leave of the tea descends to the next floor, takes another dash of hot water and is served up again for "two bits." The unhappy grounds drop another flight of stairs, the last pennyweight of strength is drowned out, and "a short bit" will buy the syncope of a dilution. Everything goes down this curious thermometer in the same way, and, among them, they come within one of eating what has been eaten before.

THE JOSS-HOUSE AND THE GODS.

You descend to the fresh air. Fong smiles you graciously out; you cross a street and enter a narrow and noisome alley. It is Stout's alley, and the scene of most of the murders in the Chinese Quarters, and the causes are women and gambling. The alley grows dimmer, and full of Chinamen as an ant-hill is of ants. Doors to little bazars, to nooks of sleeping places, to alcoves of shops, stand wide. You count ten in a den where Damon and Pythias could hardly have dwelt a week, unless they were both bed-ridden, without quarreling about cruelty to each other's toes. Here, they are fluting clothes. There, a Chinese tailor is chalking a pair of trousers on a table as if he were drawing a map. John does everything backward. He is the dorsal fin of man-kind. He is a human obliquity. He might have attended a school for crabs. In fact, he is one of " Crabb's Syn-


 

 

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onyms." Yonder, a fellow is cooking in a dog-kennel of a place. Unmusical sounds from unmusical instruments abound.

Just here you fraternize with the policeman and pluck his gray coat by the sleeve. You see he wears no star. You ask him if he doesn't have that silver bit of astronomy? He laughs. " Oh, yes; here it is in my pocket; but all the Chinamen know me." And you see they do. They crowd up toward the party, but getting a glimpse of him, they execute a concentric as the water in a mill-pond does when a pebble strikes it. They give us an horizon of shirts with legs to them. The white soles of their shoes show in the uncertain light. It is the only soul about them of just that color. We are lost in a zig-zag of dingy stairs. We are surrounded by dark walls. We look down into courts that are black. Twinkles show faint like fire-flies in a cloudy night. The murky air reeks like Gehenna. Like the city of Cologne, there are seventy smells, and not one is cologne. Within the space of a few squares are twenty thousand Chinese. The place is a live honeycomb, barring the honey. They are packed like sardines in a box. Our guiding star whips out a candle he has bought, strikes a match on the toe of a heathen god and lights it. We are reduced to the glimmer of other days. In a city filled with light and beauty and Christian churches, we are groping around in the dens and cul-de-sacs of a foreign and idolatrous land by the flare of a tallow candle. It is gloomy as grim Charon's ferry-house.

Up a few steps, down a few steps, round a corner, up a whole flight, along a gallery as dumb as a tomb, we reach the door of the Joss-House, one of eleven heathen


 

 

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temples in San Francisco. It is never closed, and we enter. Floating lights in glass tumblers but dimly reveal the place. " Dim," but not " religious." Gothic flower-supports of white metal, resembling square candlesticks for giants, stand in rows. The inevitable flare of brilliant red and gold and silver tinsel, and gew-gaws, and huge paper bouquets, and black writing on the walls, and sparkling rosettes all about, as if everything had been washed out in rainbows and the tints proved fast colors. In the great shrines are rows of sinister gods with trailing black beard and moustache. One of them, a truculent fellow, in an embroidered night-gown, who might have been modeled from some Chinese-Tartary brigand, is the god of War. Here is a life-size figure holding a small grape-shot between a thumb and finger. He is the deity of Medicine, the Chinese Esculapius, with a most bilious and unhealthy look himself, and that missile is a pill. If it ever found a lodgment in the stomach of any-body blessed with only ordinary powers of deglutition, it must be from the mouth of a howitzer. There is the god of Fortune, with a nugget of gold in one hand, and John sacrifices to him with great fidelity. You pass into another apartment where are two lay figures of young women in gorgeous apparel, canary-colored and gold. They are the goddesses of Love and Beauty—but which is which? One of them is watching the bridge of her own nose with both eyes, as if they kept toll-houses at both ends of the bridge, and were looking out, or rather looking in, lest somebody should " run the gates." And the other looks as if she had been dragged up from the Chinese heaven by her hair, and she had no time to fix it; but there she sits with her lifted eyebrows as if her


 

 

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head-dress were sleek as patience and pomatum could make it.

And now we come to three idols—they are the elements. That party with the florid face, like a harvest moon, is supposed to be Fire. Seated next him is the dropsical divinity of Water, and the unethereal neighbor at his right is the deity of Air. As for Earth, there is quite enough of her in the form of dust. Possibly they made a grist of the goddess and sprinkled her over the whole. In a corner low down, is a cross between a small scare-crow and a Dandy Jack." It is the great Ground Devil, and looks as if he might be his own rag baby. He can raise the mischief, which is the devil, with sick people, if he does not receive proper attention. Before him is a little altar, whereon food designed for invalids must be placed, and whence he adroitly extracts all deleterious qualities. Thus colic is eliminated from withered cabbage, dyspepsia from toasted cheese, and shark's fins are made to agree charmingly with the eater. Near the entrance is a sort of mongrel Vishnu, seated cross-legged like a journeyman tailor.

In a large shrine sits the god of Beasts, a sort of Nimrod, and beside him a brindled cur of unamiable mien, who accompanies his master when he goes out upon mythological business. But, as orie of the party remarked, " a little of this will go a great way."

Not a window visible in this China Closet of gods supernal, infernal and mixed. Doors are open on one side and another, where by the feeble lights you see John watching you, or walking near you as stealthily as a shad-ow. One scene, framed . in a doorway, might have been painted by Rembrandt: already: a Chinese Doctor in his

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robe bending over a book, and resembling a piece of dumb bronze in meditation.

And this is what men are left to do! These garish figures are actually worshiped here and now within an hour, by human beings in their blind gropings for superior powers. You cannot believe it. Here are the little altars of sand wherein the small gummy cylinders of fragrant woods, called joss-sticks, are set up and burned before the gods. Here are some now but half consumed. Their worship is of the economical order. They give the divinities what they themselves can neither use nor give away. Their board does not cost them a copper cash with a hole in it.

"TWELVE PACKS IN HIS SLEEVE."

John has a cunning hand with a good memory. Cards are his affinity. He does not laugh in his bell-mouthed flowing sleeves, but he shuffles cards into them with the adroitness of a wizard. You see the smoky dens as you pass. The gamblers sit around the table which is classic but fallen, covered, as it is, with grease, " but living grease no more." His features come to a focus like a fox's as he watches the play of the cards. His mouth puckers with expectancy. He is furtive but fierce. His eye never brightens. It snaps its delight when the four bits are his by the turn of the game. He will wager everything he possesses, wife, children, friends, anything but his cue, when the "cash" gives out. He is not fair. He is not square. He doesn't read Latin, and so he misunderstands the difference between meum and tuum. He thinks meum is his and tuum his own, when he can get it. His " pickers and stealers" are deft and adroit, and you are daft


 

 

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if you trust him much beyond the range of an ordinary telescope. He will wear a close cap under a hat, and when, having committed a theft, he is pursued, he pockets his hat and, behold, he is another manner of man. He is John with the skull-cap. His tricks are as old as the dynasty of Hoang-ti, and he plays them well.

AN OPIUM DEN.

Blundering our way out we pass a hanging gallery, and, as the song of Captain Kidd has it, "down, down,

derry down" stairs that are crooked and dark, into a court black as Erebus, by the one light, but " how far a

little candle throws its

beams," and the place looks better in the dark

than in the blaze of chandeliers. The odors fi creep up from the dingy floors as we walk.

The royal Dane, had he been of the party, would have repeated a phrase of his talk in the graveyard, " and smells so! Pahl" Our trusty guide went right along with an assured stride. Black figures were stealing about in the gloom. Nobody would wish to be an owl anywhere else. It gets inkier and murkier, but the policeman pushes open a door and lets out a little light.

-'e enter a small box about eight by ten, not much larger than some window-panes. As for window, this room has not so much as a snuff-box has. Compared with

it the tomb of the Capulets is light and airy as a belfry. A table in the center holds a lamp. The sides of the

room are fitted up with stationary bunks. The proprietor

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sits curled up in a lower one, smoking tobacco, for even this cul-de-sac of creation has an owner. You are in an opium den. A guest lies at length upon his shelf, cunningly taking up on a wire, drop after drop of crude opium, black as old-time molasses, and by the flame of a little lamp beside him he heats it and rolls it round the point of the wire, until at last it is a little bead the size of a marrowfat pea. The bowl of the rosewood pipe has a cover perforated in the center, with a hole somewhat smaller, if anything, than the room you are in. He thrusts the bead into the aperture, lights it, and then putting a stem like the little end of a fife to his lips, he pulls for a breath of the drowsy god. The drug hisses like a fragment of frying meat, but he draws steadily till the narcotic smoke begins to roll from his mouth and nose in clear blue volumes.

THE OPIUM-SMOKER'S DREAM.

His head reposes upon the block. He begins to be at peace. You ask him, " How many smoke?" " Ten mo'," he says. The night's luxury will cost him " six bits," which includes bed, board and bliss. He has visions, but he never tells them. He sees a pagoda of gold that is his, and the gods that are in it are his, and they rustle in cloth of gold, and jewels glitter like restless eyes upon their breasts. For the little insignificant box, he has great jars of opium in his cabinet, and the mouth-piece of his pipe is of amber, and the bowl has the name, which is his, of See Ling, in mother-of-pearl, and he rides in a palanquin with curtains of silk and fringes of gold, which is his, with six coolies to bear him and two maidens to fan him. He dwells by the Kin-sha-kiang,


 

 

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which is the river of the golden sand, and his wife has the feet of a mouse. The fragrance of bird's-nest soup is in his nostrils and the voice of the fowls of the nankeen legs makes music in his ears. His tea is brewed from the chests of the king. And then the visions are all folded in silk that is crimson, and the music of cymbals is faint, and he lies upon a cloud that is silver and down, and floats gently away, and with a murmur of " blessed be poppies!" the last whiff of forgetfulness gone out, he lapses into a sleep that is dreamless, and strange as the rhythm of Coleridge,

" In Xauadu did Nubia Khan

A spacious pleasure-dome decree, Where Alph the sacred river ran From caverns fathomless to man

Down to a sunless sea."

The den grows heavy with the ghost of opium. Your head seems inflating like a balloon, as if it were about to make an unauthorized ascension and leave you to look after yourself. The forms of your friends, albeit some of them are " reverend seigniors," begin to sail off in a solemn waltz. You are a second-hand opium smoker, and so, none too soon, the creaky door is pulled open, and we go out into a darkness that is cheerful compared with the drowsy haziness within, and breathe undiluted what De Quincey calls " the mephitic regions of carbonic acid gas."

 

You push open the door of a second den where every head has come to the block of oblivion, give a look and move on.

 

There are dens and dens. Once more in a choked alley that seems a Broadway to the dungeon behind, you see a fresh young face, wily as some of those in Rem-


 

 

brandt Peale's "Court of Death," framed in a little wicket window, which is also a wicked window. She is one of more than a thousand women, few of whom bear the least resemblance to what Ceesar's wife should be; degraded, shameless and, strange to say, content. Woman must have something to cling to. She is naturally religious. She believes in an ideal world. From before Ruth's time she has craved something to trust. Recall the monsters of the Joss-House, and tell me if a woman kneeling at the shrine of such pitiful idols, with not a touch nor a trace of the classic grace of Venus, or the severe purity of Diana, or the manhood of Apollo, can be anything herself but a wanton and a wile? And the girl you saw is as much a slave as ever gathered the snow of a cotton field. There are dens with a " lower deep" than the gloomy chambers of Papaver.

"THE ROYAL CHINA THEATRE."

With a sense of relief we slip out of the alleys that, with their narrowness and darkness and abomination, seem to catch us by the throat, but we have by no means got back to America. We are in China still. Entering a well-lighted hall, garnished on one side with all sorts of celestial tit-bits and relishes, we pay our four bits and enter what great gorgeous letters over the proscenium give a kind of typographical shout at us and name " The Royal China Theatre," and the royal is less apparent than the China.

It has a gallery, but we go into the pit or the dress-circle, or what, with the black heads and the black blouses and the black hats, looks most like a parquet filled with mourners at a funeral. Not a trace of color in that


 

 

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audience, not a streak of white. It is a case of total absorption. Nothing lacking but weeds and weepers.

The play is in full caper. I use the frisky word after considerable meditation. It is the right one. The play is a compound of tragedy, comedy, farce, caravan and circus, and the last was the best. I think celestial Thespians' strongest theatrical hold is their feet and legs. And the name of the play was a compound of pork and carbonate of lime, for it was " Horn-Mun-Sow." I know what it was about, but I never mean to tell. They began it at seven o'clock, and they played right through to one in the morning, which is nothing for them. A drama has been produced at that theatre consuming three weeks in the performance, seculars and Sundays, in sessions of five hours each; a solid week of histrionic distress.

The price of admission to the theatre is graduated by the time you endure it. First of the feast, four bits; ten o'clock, three bits; midnight, two bits; and when it gets down to the very toes of tragedy or the heel-taps of comedy, it is a dime.

Apparently it was a troupe where the women were all men and the men were all women, though you doubted at last whether either were either. Of course there was no curtain to fall upon anything, and the actors entered from apartments at the sides. Of course the orchestra was not in front and below the stage, but upon it and beyond the grand stride-ground of sock and buskin. What would you have?

"THE PLAY'S THE THING."

If you can fancy a flock of gorgeous cockatoos in a state of anarchy, and nobody to read " the riot act, " all

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chattering in falsetto—not an honest, manly bass tone the whole night; if you can suppose the chief of a band of robbers, with the tail of a bird-of-paradise waving from the back of his head, and a pair of white wings at his shoulder-blades, and a fan in his hand, and whisking about in an embossed and brocaded petticoat, with a cackle of a voice, as when a hen lays an egg or sees a hawk or tries to crow, and a face painted to counterfeit a death's-head moth, and finished out with the beard of a billy-goat; if you can picture a bench of high officials in the full " pomp and circumstance of" a state council, all at once setting off in pirouettes and pigeon-wings, and whirling like teetotums, and swinging round like boomerangs, and frisking away in fandangoes, attacked with Saint Vitus's dance, spouting a tragic passage and executing a double shuffle in the same minute; hopping off in a toupee, which means doing your walking on one leg, and then, with the knee of the other a little bent and the foot lifted, advancing upon nothing with a continuous and imaginary kick; swinging two swords like the remaining arms of a dilapidated windmill; then abasing themselves with their brows upon the floor of the sanded stage like worshiping Orientals; then snapping erect like so many spring-bladed Bowie-knives, and all appareled in variegated macaw,— then you will have a genuine spectacular Chinese astonishment.

After that, a battle, when, with the most wonderful crowing and cackling that Reynard's advent ever roused in a populous barn-yard, they flew at each other like enraged and rampant butterflies, with a blending and confusion of tints as if the seven primary colors had been struck with a chromatic Babel, and would never in all this world be sorted out into rainbows again.


 

 

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Had you fallen down and worshiped the whole thing it would have been no sin, for it was the semblance of nothing "in the heavens above or the earth beneath or the waters under' the earth."

After that the entire talent broke to pieces and exploded like fireworks into wheels and rockets and flying leaps. They turned into acrobats, and the circus began. And it was truly wonderful. Fancy a man throwing himself from the height of a dozen feet awl falling flat upon his back and as straight as a rail upon the uncarpeted floor. The dull thug as he fell was unmistakable. And then he was not padded, unless with a mustard plaster, for he was about as thin as a Johnny-cake. Or fancy three or four of them in the air at once, turning over and over as if in pursuit of their toes. How they could be wheels and not turn on an axle and not be driven by wind or water or something, nobody can tell.

THE ORCHESTRA.

But that orchestra! Hogarth's enraged musician never heard its match. There were ticks and clucks and jingles and squeaks, and tinkles of bells, and a frog-and-locust interlude, and emaciated fiddles; but when the battle began they all struck out like Sandwich Islanders in the surf, into a roar of gongs and a clash of cymbals shining and ringing like the shield of Achilles. Sometimes the tune seemed to be " The Arkansas Traveler" or "Old Rosin the Bow," and then those instruments leaped over the musical bars and ran away. The music and the acting were alike—a marvelous jumble. It was as if a medley had swallowed itself.

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heterogeneous elements, a kind of miniature " chaos come again," is contagious. Thus, the last Independence Day was observed with splendid pageantry and fine literary exercises at the "California Theatre." They had " The Star-Spangled Banner," and Drake's bugle-voiced address to the Flag, but between the "Long may it wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave" and the solemn, almost sublime, words of the Declaration, beginning "When in the course of human events," something was sandwiched; and what do you think it was? Not " Yankee Doodle," or "Hail Columbia," or " The Red, White and Blue," but the little Julietish song of " Good-by, Sweetheart"! Could they do anything better in China?

While I have only made a faithful record of the dramatic scenes and sounds, with not one touch of exaggeration, a fact to which one Doctor of Divinity, two traveling missionaries and one neophyte can bear witness, yet it must be frankly admitted that, on reading it over, I hardly believe it myself; but it is severely true for all that.

Out at last and for good and all, we cross from China into America, under a starry sky, and breathing an air fresh and free from beyond the Golden Gate. It was like emerging from a total eclipse into broad and blessed day, and I recalled .the words of Tennyson with all the vividness of poetic creation. It was as if I had written the lines myself:

" Through the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day,

Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.,"

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have been ages when the Crusaders would have effaced them from the continent, like a writing from a slate, with a wet finger, albeit the finger was wet with fresh blood. We sailed to Pagans, and now Pagans sail to us. They have dropped into Christendom like a great black diamond. They are anthracite.

We have regarded John as a sort of overgrown boy, a kind of cushiony creature. You can thrust your finger anywhere into his character. You withdraw it, and it retains no print of it, any more than the water into which you plunge your hand. Within that apparently yielding characterlessness is a spine of heathen iron, and tough as the worst of it. A bridge made of such material would last the world out. And as for that rigid, jointless spine, who can wonder that it exists? Here, now, is a man who represents and believes a religion that runs back to pre-historic ages; to whom the name of the Chinese Moses is as familiar to-day as the name of Jesus Christ in Bible lands; whose eye brightens at the syllables Kung-fu-tse, as at a welcome household word. It names Confucius to Chinese ears, a man who died twenty-three hundred and fifty years ago, whose descendants, in undoubted line, live to-day, the eightieth generation from the great philosopher who died before Socrates began to teach, and his works remain " even until this day." Is it any marvel that a religion indurated through the ages, unyielding and change-less as if absolute truth, wrought into the life, thought, custom and tradition of this man John, should .harden into a firm and almost sullen disbelief in all the world besides? That there should be hardly a vanishing point of contact between him and the out-world races, to make him a full and free-born member of the human family?

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CHAPTER X. MISSION DOLORES AND THE SAINTS.

0-DAY there are one hundred and ten churches, T chapels and missions in San Francisco, giving one place of worship to every three thousand people, exclusive of "the strangers within the gates," and services are conducted in French, Spanish, Russian, Scandinavian, Italian, German, Hebrew, Welsh, English and Chinese. You should hear the Chinamen in full tongue in a Sunday school. After that you can tell where the idea of a gong came from. It is as original as a tremendous echo; and sounds as if the names of all the rivers had got away and ran in together—Yang-tse-kiang-Hoang-ho-kiang-ku-Kin-sha-kiang-Ya-long-kiang-Ding-Do ng !

It was one of those perfect San Francisco days with which the year is almost filled, when the sun and the ocean conspire to sweeten and temper the air with beams and breezes, when the hills grow friendly and draw near, and so we went to the Mission Dolores, founded by the Spanish Friars on the 9th of October, 1776, when much of . the land on which the city stands had not yet come out of the sea, and the shore was a wide waste of dunes.

Here, one hundred years ago, civilization's farthest outpost, half church and half fortress, was established, and its patron Saint Francis was to give the Yerba Buena of the old maps the new name of San Francisco. Built

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about by spacious structures of modern date, faced by the Convent of Notre Dame, the old church remains like a rusted hatchet struck into some sapling in the elder day, and grown around by the living column of a stately tree. Here two ages meet. You see the recent redwood dwelling, and the old adobe house of brick baked without fire standing by its side, whose walls resemble the swallows'-nests that dotted the rafter-peaks of ancient barns as with cottages of mud. You see roofs fluted with red tiles resembling organ-pipes that have tarnished and rusted in a thousand rains and suns.

And there is the old chapel, with its columned front fair to see as a white nun, and there, in three square port-holes, hangs a chime of three bells brought from Castile many a year ago, rung, perhaps, within hearing of the sunlit towers of my Chateaux en Espagne—ah, those castles in Spain!—and now green with rust. Those bells rang out the old century, rang in the new. You enter the low-arched doorway into the chapel, a hundred feet from altar-place to threshold; and where are the hands that set the keystone, and where the priests that blessed the place, and where the hidalgos that stood around? The hands held flowers that drank them up.

"The good swords rust;

Their souls are with the saints, we trust."

But here are the walls of stone and unburned clay, four feet thick, and here the mullioned windows, woven with fan-light sash like spider's web; and here the Spanish linen canvas with its pictures of The Last Supper and the saints; and here two grand shrines of painted wood from Spain, with figures of Saint Francis, Saint Joseph and all; there the Madonna and the Christ that came over the

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sea. And beyond is a heavy arch bearing the legend: " How terrible is this place. This is no other than the house of God and the gate of heaven." You sit in a wooden chair as hard as stone and older than our Fourth of July. Above you is the gallery floor tessellated with a paint-brush — a puncheon floor hewn out with broad-axes.

Here, for a hundred years have matin prayer and vesper song and grand high mass been rung and chanted, said and sung. Here, priests from Spain, from Rome, from France, have lifted hand and blessed the people, while Indians and Mexicans and old Peruvians stood around. Here brave nuns have breathed their Ave Marias in the wilderness. Vanished all, like light from dials when the sun goes down. Think of the long-dead day when a Spanish guard was stationed here to protect the Mission. And the desert is a city and the city a mart, and Spain has ceased to be the Motherland, and Mexico her Daughter-in-law, and no blue-blooded Castilians come to their outlying dependency any more. The face of the world is changed as if fire had swept and God created it anew.

THE OLD GRAVEYARD.

The graveyard of a hundred-and-one years adjoins the church. You pass under the cross that surmounts the gate, and are in the city of " the houses that shall last till doomsday." The earth is rich with the uncounted dead. You tread upon them in the alleyways. There are hundreds and then hundreds. Nameless Indians with their heads to the rising sun lie here by bands and tribes. The old sexton unearths them sometimes wrapped in the hides of wild cattle for shrouds. Soldiers of the blue and the scarlet, English, American, Russian, Spanish, Mexican,


 

 

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have bidden " farewell to the big wars," and gone into camp together. Descendants of Spanish willows vainly weep over alley and grave. Irish yew and English haw-thorn are ever " wearing of the green." Trees in ever-lasting bud and bloom give Christmas roses, and bouquets for June. The ivy's glossy leaves caress the graves. How rich and rank they grow! Let us hope the dead have gained the crown, for behold, the crosses they have left behind. And still they come ! There goes the sexton with his spade. The place is full of angels, altars, lambs, tombs, urns and shrines, in wood washed blank of letter and device, in marble and in granite. You stand by the grave of the first Spanish Governor of California, and you read: "Aqui yacen rectos De Capitan DoN Louts ANTONIO ARGULLA, Prima Gohernador del Alta California." He lies in the sacristy of the old church, the granite chamber where they kept chalices and censers for frankincense and wine; a right stout lodging, and time-proof as the globe. Reading monument after monument, you feel as if in a foreign land. The names are no "household words" of ours. Here is a slab bearing the name, "James Sullivan," the "Yankee " Sullivan of whom the world has heard, and the words, " who died by the hands of the V. C. 1856." That V. C. is graven upon other marbles here, and means Vigilance Committee, and revives the memory of wild and lawless times. Following the name are these significant words: "In Thy mercy Thou shalt destroy mine enemies!"

At last, beside the old adobe wall, the sexton shows an unsuspected grave, no slab nor mound nor coverlet of grass. Beside it is another, with turf subsided like a tired wave. It is surrounded by a bleached and sagging fence of pickets. Over these two graves a small historic


 

 

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war has been waged. Within six months after the Signing of the Declaration they had two funerals; an Indian and a Spaniard were buried here. Now, which was buried first? One has one grave, and one the other—and which the honor of the first inhabitant? Over what trifles will even wise men fight! The name and story of each had fallen out of human speech and memory as long ago as gray-haired men were in their swaddling bands. What matters who or when? The poet Montgomery wrote the epitaph for the broad world's men: " THERE LIVED A MAN."

As you turn to leave the place, the marble figure of a suppliant woman with lifted bands and sad and sight-less eyes turned heavenward, impresses you like a spoken word. So are these all beneath the sod, all but the lifted hands. Speechless, helpless, front-face to Heaven, here they lie and wait. God save the world! Let us go out at the time-stained gate, and into the ever-flowing tides of living creatures. We had almost forgotten the glad sun and the crystal air, and even the roses the sexton gathered from some graves to give us, seemed to shed a sad, funereal fragrance, as of crape, and the vexed and troubled earth that, for the graves they make within it, has little rest.

Quick! There's a Valencia street car. " So dies in human hearts the thought of death."

THE SAINTS.

California geography has the true old Mexican and Castilian stamp upon mountain, town, vale and river. It is genuine as the silver Spanish quarter of other days. To be sure, it does not bear the pillars of Hercules, but the Saints have stepped down from niche and shrine, and


 

 

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seated themselves in the open air. Thus you have San ' Quentin, with a prison on his shoulders, Santa Rosa, the city of the holy roses, where we saw a rose-tree twenty feet high, with a sturdy trunk, and starred like the Milky Way with a thousand full-blown flowers; San Jose, with a city in his lap. Then there are San Benito, San Rafael, San Diego, San Pedro, San Leandro, San Juan—not the Don,—San Mateo, San Andreas, and the rest. Sometimes they take to the water, as San Joaquin River and San Pablo Bay. Then Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Francisco. The principal part of the population of the Calendar seems to have been lured out-of-doors by the weather and never gone in again. Then if they are not saints they are angels, as Los Angeles, and if neither the one nor the other, then an Island in the Bay talks English and says "Angel," and a city and a river cry out in concert, " Sacramento!" Altogether, if a man meant to make a compact sentence unburdened with adverbs, he could say, California is a country where the places are all Saints and the people are all sinners.

The names the miners gave their camps and claims are almost always hooks to hang a history on. Hell's Delight and Devil's Basin are an antipodal offset to Christian Flat and Gospel Gulch. Slapjack Bar and Nut-cake Camp commemorate some dainty dishes. Shirt-tail Cation and Petticoat Slide belong to the wardrobe, while Piety Hill probably christened a vantage ground that no Christian ever went to if he could keep away.

It is easy to see how, as among the old Saxons, names grow out of callings. Thus in Sonoma county there are four John Taylors, and not one of them "John Taylor of Caroline." Three are known by the way they


 

 

BETWEEN THE GATES.

made their fortunes, and the roster runs thus: Whisky John, who never drinks; Sheep John, who is bold as a lion; Hog John, who is no miser; and John. Abolish books and records, and let these names go down tossing carelessly about in a traditionary way for a couple of

generations, and the children of the first would be Whiskies; of the second, Sheep, if not lambs; of the third, Hogs, if not pigs; and the fourth, undoubted

descendants of plain John Taylor.

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CHAPTER XI. VALLEY RAMBLES AND A CLIMB.

TF you wish to be acquainted with California, fall in love with its valleys, smell its flowers, taste its fruits, know its people, breathe its air, you must not sit in a railroad car contemplating somebody's back-hair, or wondering whether the observer next behind you sees any-thing wrong in the nape of your neck; but you must. go in a big covered wagon as strong as a mill, with a pleasant company, and such a friend and Palinurus as I had, in the person of a gentleman who can preach a sermon, give a lecture, edit a paper, build a temple, found a college, and run a railroad. But none of these abilities would have mattered the crack of a whip if he had not known how to drive, and how to " suffer and be strong." He could drive, he did suffer, he was strong. It is curious how many-sided a man may be, a human dodecagon, if you will, and yet be put in a place any minute where he is as useless as the half of a pair of shears.

Crossing San Francisco Bay, all snug and stowed, full of lunch-baskets and expectation, we struck into the Sonoma Valley, bound for the Petrified Trees and the Geysers. Though it never rains here except by programme, yet it rained. They tried to persuade me it was a fog, but a fog that has a body to it and tumbles all to pieces in rattling saucy water, inspires the hope that there will be no such

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132   BETWEEN THE GATES.

thing as California rain until I am safe beyond the mountains. As a boy would say, it was a level rain. The wind blew it straight out, and the couple on the front seat were blue likewise. Those behind, all snug and dry as chickens under a hen, were as merry as grigs. When the water goes drip, drip, upon your nose from the fore-piece of a cap, and spatters from that promontory into your eyes, and runs down your indignant bosom, you feel like praying for a longer visor or an abridged nose, but if anybody thought good words in bad places, nobody said them.

It had only been a day since I was wishing for the fragrance _ and the music of a dear old June shower, bound about its forehead with a rainbow as with a fillet; the flowers nodding sweet approval and the leaves lap-ping it like tongues that are athirst, and here it was, all but the fillet, and I was not content. It is hard to tell precisely what we do want. But it is due to the blessed Coast to add that you might live on it for ten years and see no such misplaced rain. The winters, with their long and amiable rains, would have been a paradise to the frogs of Homer, and they would have broken forth in Greek more eloquently than ever: " brek-ek-ek-koaxkoax." But riding through the valleys in the summer, where it has been as dry as the shower on the old cities of the plain, you will marvel at the glossy green and fresh look of shrub and tree, as if everything, like the rose of the " English Reader," had been washed,

"jest washed in a shower, That Mary to Anna conveyed."

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VALLEY RAMBLES AND A CLIMB.   133

A DEAD LIFT AT A LIVE WEIGHT.

At last, on a slippery grade, the near-wheeler sat
down, inserted two feet between the spokes of a fore-
wheel, two more right under the vehicle, and had he
been as well off for legs as a house-fly, and had another
couple, they would probably have got into the carriage.
As it was, they were distributed about like the multiplied
codicils of a legacy. That wagon was emptied as green

fly out of a pod, and there

the angels stand," for if anything will dispose a woman to wickedness it is when she gets damp around the ankles, and her skirts swash about her footsteps like a frantic dishcloth, and her watery gaiters squeak as she walks like a morsel of cheese curd. When we overtook her the bright smile that she wore should have kindled a rainbow.

There lay twelve hundred pounds of horse and no derrick. The party stood about like monuments dripping in the rain, while °the many-sided man addressed himself to the stern reality of the occasion, or to be accurate, of the wheeler dormant. He bowed himself like Samson

peas pursued by a thumb-nail

they stood like so many bedraggled poultry, all but one mother and two chickens who scudded away through the driving rain to a distant cabin for help. I wish to place it upon record just here, that in fifty or sixty years

that mother will " with

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134   BETWEEN THE GATES.

upon the pillars. He emulated the "I am thy father's ghost!" of Hamlet, and did that horse's " tail unfold." It was a stern pull, a long pull, and a pull• in detail; and that beast, suspended like several swords of Damocles upon hair, swung slowly round as if he were on a rail-road turn-table, scrambled up lookinr; as if the wagon had been drawing him, not he the wagon, and we were once more under way. The misery of it was the music of it, and various versions of the story were retailed about to beguile the long day we sat under the rainy eaves of the sky, and I hereby entail it on the heirs and assigns of the Star who played " the heavy part."

The next morning was a delight. The valley swept out twelve miles to the mountains that were draped in their Sunday blue. For the first time in my life I walked among the peach's first-cousins, the almond trees, the orchard of Ecclesiastes, but the blossoms had ceased to shine, and the limbs were full of fruit. Five varieties of stately oaks stood around the house, but the live-oak was the grandest. Spanish moss hung in festoons and lambrequins of gray lace from the limbs, and solemnly swung in the morning air. They gave a weird and graceful, but a sad look to the landscape, and reminded me of faded mourning, draping some old manorial hall for the dead lord or the lost lady.

"0, the mistletoe bough!" and there it is. All about upon the oaks hang globes of the Druidical parasite, like orreries of green planets, and I felt that I was in a foreign land. I had seen a parasite in the army that showed gray on the blue blouse, but failed to show well; and a parasite at the table of his friends; and never one before that kindled a spark of poetry; but those little


 

 

VALLEY RAMBLES AND A CLIMB.   135

emerald worlds on the oaks lighted the way through the halls of deserted years, and with the Hebrew backward step I walked near enough to hear a voice, clear as a meadow lark's, strike up, when that old song was new,

"The mistletoe hung in the castle hall,

The holly-branch shone on the old oak wall,"

but the cry of "All aboard!" scared the voice away, and the light of the green planets went out.

The children of the party gathered a heap of moss that would fill a bed fat enough for a Mohawk Dutchman, in the vain hope of carrying it home. Do you know that children are capital baggage to take along upon a journey? They ballast the grown people, and keep them on an even keel. It took two to steady our craft. They are full of exuberance as picnic satchels are of luncheons, and you can take a little out now and then, when you feel old about the heart, to make you young again, and nobody will miss it. Let their names be " entered of record": CARRIE, the lassie with the gentle grace of patience, and KNAPP, the lad who was never caught napping. May they live to be gray as the Spanish moss they coveted.

The contrasts of scenery in California are as wonderful as if you should enter a house by one door and leave it all wilderness and winter in the front yard, then go out at another to find it all summer and flowers in the garden. I had such a transition within an hour. We climbed along the edges and shelves of rugged mountains, above rivers in everlasting quarrel with ragged rocks; below heights walled up with stone ruins from the beginning, and finished out with the shaggy, russet backs of a thousand dromedaries; meeting nobody but horsemen with lariats swinging at their saddles; seeing no human dwelling;


 

 

136   BETWEEN THE GATES.

fearing night would come down upon us and no " pillar of fire" to guide. A few rattling downward dashes, and we descended into Knight's Valley, with its homes and its harvests, its fruits and its flowers, its broad parks peopled with the weeping oaks. Fancy a fragile, feminine English willow, drooping, swaying, married to a husband to match her, and that husband would be the weeping oak. It is the blended grace and strength of the vegetable world. A sturdy trunk, a broad crown,- a dense foliage, and then that pendent fringe of green, almost sweeping the ground as it swings in the wind. The level rays of the sinking sun touched everything with the hazy glory of a gold-dust air. You wonder how many years it is and how many degrees away, since you were cautiously creeping along the brinks of cafions, and it was only an hour ago.

Santa Rosa is a city lost in a flower-bed. You can find it by climbing a rose-tree as high as a house, and obeying Sir Christopher Wren's marble injunction, "Look around! " It has a congregation of three or four hundred, that, like Zaccheus, worships in a tree, only his was a sycamore tree. It is the Baptist church, a quaint edifice of unpainted wood, pleasantly suggesting a rural chapel in England, and you think of the ancient .yew-tree and the rooks that should be calling. That house was made of a single redwood; and the interior, from the floor to the ribbed ceiling, was once wrapped in the same bark jacket.

And then you cross a street to see a friend of childhood, a bush that grew by the roadside and showed its sweet white umbrellas of flowers in spring, and its dark red berries in fall, whereof a wine was brewed, harmless as the milk of old Brindle; a bush of whose wood you made


 

 

VALLEY RAMBLES AND A CLIMB.   137

your first "deadly weapon," the pop-gun—the elder of the East. And here is a tree more than four feet in circumference, and shading the eaves of a two-story dwelling. It is the elder of the.old days.

You traverse the Santa Clara Valley, where adobe dwellings linger still, through Alameda avenue of poplars and willows planted by Jesuit hands a century ago, to San Jose, and from the vantage-ground of the Court-House dome you see the horizon of mountains rising, sinking, receding, nearing, like the billows of the sea, and just one little way through, down the royal road you came; and circled by that turbulent horizon, you look down upon a thousand square miles of semi-tropic beauty. You see the sinless inhabitants of the Indies, Australia, Mexico, the Sandwich Islands and Peru, from the stately palm with such a far-away look that it would hardly surprise you to , see a castled elephant move out from its shadow, to the painted leaves of Brazil, appearing as if leopards and tigers had lain down upon them and printed them off in duplicate.

You look down upon the plaza which is the public square, rich as the National Conservatory with foreign loveliness. You gaze away at the checker-work of ranches which are farms. The mallows—the humble thing that grew about your feet in the East, with its tiny blossoms no bigger than a vest button, the dairy plant of childhood, whence you used to gather the little green " cheeses "—is grown into a tree, and the birds'-eyes of flowers have flared out like wild roses, and challenge you on tip-toe to reach them. Booted boys swing by vines an infant could have broken. You look at familiar things through a mysterious magn4er. Like urchins you have not seen

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BETWEEN THE GATES.

in ten years, they have all grown out of your knowledge.

A Yankee examines the soil and despises it. He prefers th.e hillsides of Stonington. The man from Illinois prairies, who lugs a couple of pounds of mud into the house to his wife every time it rains, remembers his level acres in their total eclipse of Ethiopian richness, and regards with contempt the tawny, dusty landscape before him. He shall see it in winter time, when the Lord works miracles with the treasures of His clouds; when the miracle at the wedding in Cana, where "the conscious water knew its God and blushed," grows familiar and annual, and the water is turned into the wine of the vine, yea, into bread and to wine. He shall see an electric energy in this soil that will startle and charm him; at night that the grain has visibly grown—has made a Sabbath-day's journey toward the new harvest;. at morning he shall see that the plants that went only budded to bed have blossomed out in the dark. He wonders if Jonah was not here before Jason, and if seeds from his gourd yet remain. Why not? Grains of wheat three thousand years old, taken from the robe of a mum-my, were sown and were grown, and were molded into bread.

And writing of times so long gone they get new. You may see at the United States mint in San Francisco a golden spoon, of as quaint and delicate workmanship as any of the trinkets of Her Majesty of Sheba. Its bowl is a leaf, and its handle the wreathed stem it grew on. It is frail and exquisite enough for the tea-set of young Cupid. Now the numismatist, if that is the man and I have not mistaken the name, declares he has evidence

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that the spoon was among the belongings of Solomon! If so, have those pennyweights of pale gold come back at last, after all the centuries, to their native land? Did Solomon's ships ever beat up the Pacific coast, and lie off and on in sight of the sands of San Francisco? As the Spanish would say, Quien sabe?

" Cherry ripe!" her lips do cry, and here you are in one of the great cherry orchards of California. The trees are shaped like little Lombardy poplars, with dense dark foliage growing down the trunks like green pantalettes. You see thousands of them of as uniform height as the Queen's Highlanders. The inevitable John is picking the fruit and white men are boxing it for market, in black, red and gold tinted mosaics. They handle each cherry tenderly as if it were glass. Twenty tons have been forwarded, and they will gather thirty more during the season. By the little hatchet of Washington, fifty tons from a single orchard, and not a cherry too many, at the highest of prices. What an Eden for the robin to rob in!

One or two of the party who disposed of a dollar's worth of rubies at a sitting, suffered a slight unpleasantness that could have been covered by an apron without. being alleviated. Those cherries tasted like the little book that John the Revelator ate, " sweet as honey," but—alas!

There is a thistle. At least it would be in the East, and the farmer would be after it with the hoe of destruction, but here it has expanded and brightened into a brilliant scarlet flower, large and handsome enough to trick out a general's chapeau with a feather. Now, if a New York girl had that thistle she would welcome it to

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140   BETWEEN THE GATES.

her flower-garden, give it a new name ending in "ie," like her own, and make a prince of it.

The air is sweet with the yellow glory of the Scottish broom and strange with the odor of the Australian eucalyptus, with its leathery leaves held both sides to the light; a tree that does not grow soberly, but springs to the height of fifty feet while your boy is reaching three. The valley is Elysian, the day is Halcyon, as we set forth for a mountain ride. The grain in green, yellow, white and gold unrolls on every hand. We pass farm after farm rich with the evidences of high cultivation, and not a laborer in view; home after home with their broad verandas, and window and door wide open, and not a soul in sight. Horses by scores, cattle by hundreds, sheep by thousands, and not a master or a shepherd visible. Flowers that seem to be keeping house, their pleasant faces toward the road; vines that show the gentle lead of woman's hand, and not a chick of a child or a flirt of a petticoat. It is as if everybody had gone in a minute, "died and made no sign." Notwithstanding the lovely landscape and the bright air, a feeling of loneliness " o'ercomes you like a summer cloud"—and an imported cloud at that. You are in a land where weeds are in the minority, and Nature does the work. The country in the wildest places, where man never scarred it with plowshare, seems to be a thousand years old. You cannot abandon the notion that this field has been tilled and that grove planted by human hands.

ON THE HIGH SEAS.

The road grows narrower and more rugged. We go down ravines that spread out into little bays of greenery,


 

 

VALLEY RAMBLES AND A CLIMB.   141

and then commit suicide by throttling themselves into gorges. We begin to climb. The mountains grow saucier and wilder. They act as if they would be glad to shoulder us out of existence. The ledge of a road is notched into precipices that tumble a thousand feet down. It looks like a clock-shelf. It is now rock at the right, abyss at the left, and now rock at the left, abyss at the right. The mountains are executing a solemn dance, and as they cross over and back we are lost in the mazes of the measure. Tall trees lift their crowns almost within reach, as if they grew from the under-world. Somewhere below, their roots are holding on with the clutch of a mighty hand. Rocks hang poised midway above, only waiting for the passage of the carriage to let all go, and be aerolites. You fancy the tremendous ricochet when, with thunder and fire, they shall crash down the gulf, through splintering of timber as of hurricanes, and rushing of leaves as of driving rains. Then come the zigzag lifts one after one, and when you reach them you have reached the last letter in the alphabet of free-and-easy traveling. They are the Z's of all thoroughfares.

You see that little nick on the brow of a loftier Alp, like the scar of a sabre-stroke on a trooper's forehead. That little nick is the road you are going! It is getting to be nervous work. In places, you can drop a lead and line plumb down from the wagon's side into the sunless depth. All along, fearless flowers, the Indian pinks, the wild roses, the honeysuckles, the violets, the azaleas, the blue-bells, the giant asters, cling within reach of your hand on one side, and smile in their still way as if they said, " Who's afraid?" but on the other—thin blue emptiness. The old familiar horizons, that have always clasped you


 

 

142   BETWEEN THE GATES.

and kept you from being lonely in the wide world, have grown alienated and deserted you. See them retreating away at your left and behind you, slipping off from the planet and revealing something of what Satan showed the Savior, " the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them." And what a stormy world it is! And you climbing a mighty surge and looking across a tumbling ocean of troubled mountains. You feel as if you were some-how escaping from yourself into the rarer atmosphere — a kind of dying without death. Here and there little cities, the spangled breast-pins of civilization, glitter in the troughs of the sea. It would not surprise you much to see them riding the next wave that comes. Russian River trails along like a streamer lost overboard. The shaded greens and blues of oak and evergreen, and vines and flowers, are " worked down," as painters say, like an ivory picture. Yonder is old Saint Helena, in whose shadow you traveled for hours, and then climbing over his hip slipped down on this side of him. You thought him mighty, but every ravine is dwindled to a wrinkle, a mere bit of deeper color, and altogether he is shriveled down to the haystack in the home meadow. Here are tawny sweeps with the green spray washed off, and you think of streaks of lurid light from a sun you can-not see. There, tall cliffs in ethereal robes azure as a bluebird; yonder, the horizon has broken utterly away, and the world dim and dimmer is flowing through like the floating of a veil of gossamer. Pine Mountain in his dark cloak is in sight. He is a monk among them. High up the acclivities are scars, as if received in some old bombardment. They are entrances to the quicksilver mines. The roads to them are hair-lines in the distance.


 

 

THE HOG'S BACK.

Five miles across, and apparently within the toss of a stone, is the Hog's Back, a spine of a mountain bridging the valley from side to side, and standing at an angle of forty degrees. Some hirsute keeper of swine must have named this gigantic highway. It is complimentary to the hog, but a libel on the mountain. Think of a mastodon

weighing a hundred million tons forever crossing the valley and never leaving it, his gray sides and ridged back lifting vast and bare amid the visible thunders of

the gorges — for have you not seen mountains that looked thunder as you watched them, as if any moment they might give tongue and go bellowing down the world?—and then think of riding after a four-in-hand lashed out to the reckless, rattling gait of the wild steeds of the pampas, down that lifted and angry spine, with a sway, a swing and a sweep, the slopes falling away like a horse's mane from the ridge, and no more chance of a halt than if you were riding a cannon-shot. If you can do it and not feel a cold wave shudder down that spine of your own, you are fit to sit upon the box with Phoebus, when he drives his golden chariot down the sky.

The road comes to emphatic pauses before and above you. It runs out into the air every little way, and disappears like a whiff of yellow dust. You meet it coming back with a bewildered look on the other side of a gorge, as if it were lost or discouraged, and were making the best of its way home. You are sorry for the road and a little sorry for yourself, but you double back on the trail as if the dogs were after you in full cry, and follow on. Some of the party are afraid to look down and afraid to look up, but nobody is reluctant to look off. It

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is going to sea without leaving the shore. At intervals there are ticklish turnouts projected over the precipice, with exactly as much railing to them as there is to Cape Horn, where you doubt whether you want either the rock side or the air side. What if we meet somebody on the tape-line of a road between! And we do! Around that headland come a pair of noses, and there is a simultaneous cry of "team!" The witch of Endor would have been a more welcome apparition, for we could have driven through her and not broken a bone. The noses' owners tugged a wagon into sight with a man and woman in it. It looked like a dead-lock. Were it not for somebody else the writer might have been there yet. You should have seen them lift that wagon, woman and all, and set two wheels of it just over the edge of the precipice. Had so much as an eye snapped with the quick winks some of us executed, and started those horses, that woman might better have been dropped from the talons of an eagle into its nest, for then she would have been some comfort to "the young eagles when they cry." She was as indifferent as a lay-figure at a dressmaker's. It seemed to me like threading a needle with only one chance to do it, and a stitch lost a life lost. But they hemmed the edge, and as she rode around the rocky elbow, that woman's square flat back was as full of expression as her face. They were a match.

Then we made a plunge down the road, and began to learn our letters on the other side of the mountains. It was the mightiest hornbook that ever went without covers. The many-sided man had a foot on the brake, for they drive with brakes and not with reins in California, and the horses traveled around the outer edge of visible things with great humility. In these tremendous ups and downs


 

 

VALLEY RAMBLES AND A CLIMB.   145

I think the downs have it. There is such a tension of feeling about the ascent; such a twanging of violin strings in the nervous music, as the keys go around and the wheels go up; such a thinking that you are climbing away from home and out of the solid world; that you are losing your standing-room on the planet every long and creeping minute, as you take the bold diagonals of the mountain stairs;— all these things temper the grandeur with a touch of awe, and render the exultation something too solemn' for delight. But your eyes are couched in the clearer air, and the winds sweeping from crag to crag again, the broad-winged free-commoners of Heaven, inspire you with a kind of Independence-Day elation. You set Byron's live thunders to leaping, The Vale of Chamouni subliming, " The waters coming down at Lodore," and the Waldensian Song in full chorus; but you are not apt to do it until you have gotten a couple of miles nearer the earth's center of gravity, and are regaling yourself with coffee and tongue-sandwiches by the roadside.

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HAVING ridden for hours the mountains' heavy seas, all at once, with slackened trace and tightened rein and brake hard down, we begin to sink without drowning. It is something like driving a four-in-hand of nightmares. Down we go, a thousand feet a mile, now circling a hill, now balancing as if on the left wing and now on the right; then with swift dashes and pounces, another thousand feet another mile, and then a final plunge, and we bring up with a rattling of bolts, a jingling of chains and a sense of satisfaction at the mouth of Pluton Cation, and in front of a spacious hotel, with its broad hospitable verandas, and its doors and windows all set wide in welcome, like so many pleasant faces under two rows of broad-brimmed hats. In all California you will find no house of refuge combining more of restful comfort, courteous attention, lavish abundance, and the neatness of a young Quakeress. Amid great oaks and beautiful flowers stands the very inn the poet Shenstone would have loved.

So this is The Geysers. You have descended to it with a bold flight, and it is seventeen hundred feet yet to the level of the Pacific. You are in a nook of the world. Around you the mountains lift three and 'four thousand feet above the sea, and watch each other across

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THE GEYSERS.   147

the three-mile chasm. Before you is a gulf with zigzag paths hidden beneath a luxuriant wealth of foliage. Laurel, oak, fir, madrona, vine, shrub and flower, are fairly wrangling together in their rivalry to see which shall grow the fastest. You take an alpenstock and a guide, a garrulous old fellow, who has looked into volcanoes and groped in caves, and turned his memory into a laboratory for all sorts of loose mineral specimens and facts. You settle down in your holdbacks, and walk on your heels. The mountain shows its elbows all along, as if to nudge you off the path. You come to a rustic bridge across a lively stream of clear cold water. It is the Pluton River. There are " books in the running brooks" that swell it, and, what Shakespeare never saw, the speckled trout.; for if he had, he would have named it on some of his lords' and ladies' bills of fare. The flash of its dappled beauty might have diverted Ophelia from her " rooted sorrow," and even my Lady Macbeth forgotten for an instant that "damned spot," as she freed with her little hands the rich flakes from their crisp and golden binding. There are "sermons in stones" withal, for the Pluton lifts its voice in loud and cheerful talk as it runs on. A stealthy, speechless river, like a spy in moccasins, never commanded my admiration.

You stand upon the bridge and look. The mountain seems shut before you, and no " Sesame" at hand where-with to open it. But you listen. The rumble of a grist-mill, the tumble of a water-power, the hissing of an engine, the bubble of boiling caldrons, the jar of a distant train. It is as if the murmuring echoes of a live world were locked up in the heart of these mountains, and the disembodied voices were clamoring for escape.


 

 

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You listen as at the sealed den of some mountain monster with eyes that light his gloomy cavern. You hear the craunch as he grinds a bison's bones, and his heavy snuffing breaths of satisfaction as he rolls them over.

A sudden turn, and the mouth of the canon swallows you before you have quite made up your mind that " Barkis is willing." You follow the crooked trail and reach the Geyser River, warm for water but cool for tea, that seems in a tumultuous hurry to get away, for it tumbles down the giant stairs like the rabble rush of an unruly school. The great green bay-trees, that flourish like the wicked, roof you in. The crooked way grows narrower and wilder. You enter a craggy grotto of romance, and from ledge to ledge pursue your upward way. The California fashion of giving everything to the devil prevails here—a fashion "more honored in the breach than in the observance." The air begins to smell like the right end of a lucifer match. You are in the " Devil's Office." It is an apothecary shop. Epsom salts hang in crystals from the walls of rock; rows of mineral springs, some of sulphur, some of salt, a trace of soda here, of iron there, of alum yonder, each more unpalatable than the other, no matter which end of the stock you begin at. Here is a stone pot of eyewater that, like the widow's cruse, never gives out. People think it strengthens the eyes, and " as a man thinketh so is he."

GOING UP THE CAON.

The narrow cafion opens like a fan. Leaf and shrub disappear. It is getting serious and sulphurous. Rock and earth break out with a most extraordinary rash. The whole family of sulphur, ates, ites and ets, black,


 

 

THE GEYSERS.   149

yellow, white and red, are everywhere. All tints of copper, all shades of iron, strong with ammonia, white with magnesia, gray with borax, crystal with alum. It is as if there had been a universal wreck by earthquake of all the chemical warehouses in America, and the debris had been tumbled into this canon right over an everlasting furnace, and kept hot, like the restaurants that promise " warm meals at all hours." The rocks that bound the narrow gulf are as full of holes as a bank-swallows' village. Puffs of steam issue from them like breath from the lazy nostrils of slumbering mastodons. You are climbing all the while from crag to stepping-stone, up rude stairs of rock, around sharp angles, by boiling caldrons, over streams of smoking water. The ground is hot under your feet. Volumes of steam rise in everlasting torment. Here at your right, in a room without a door, and no place for one, somebody is churning. You hear the dull thud of the dasher. You stand by a stone hopper whose jarring, rumbling jolt assures you they are grinding a grist that nobody has sent you for. As for the miller, he is not in sight, and you are not curious. His punch-bowl is even full, his alum kettle on the boil, it makes your mouth pucker to smell it ; his arm-chair of solid rock is empty, and you occupy it, the only thing among his possessions you seem to covet, except his ink-stand, a broad, liberal piece of furniture filled with a liquid as ebony as " Maynard and Noyes' best black." We come to the miller's family kettle, the Witches' Caldron, twenty-five feet around, with a temperature of a couple of hundred degrees, and filled with a tumbling ocean of smut tea. It is the busiest place you were ever in; a paradise of a kitchen for an imps' boarding-house.


 

 

150   BETWEEN THE GATES.

Under every foot of ground, behind every rock, within every crevice, something is frying, simmering, boiling, gurgling, steaming, fuming. You think the spoons for supping here should have long handles.

Here is the escape-pipe of a Geyser steamboat. It rejects the sticks and stones you throw into it, and blows off steam at times with great resentment. They set it to playing a boatswain's whistle, but it piped " all hands on deck " so relentlessly by night and by day that the weary guests at the hotel, a half mile distant, petitioned that the miller's trumpeter be permitted to lick his lips and smooth them out of pucker for a long vacation.

The soles of your feet burn. Some chemical rodents and mordants are gnawing at the leather. And then you go up a flight of stairs cut and nicked in the face of a - rocky promontory, and climb to the top of a stone column with a pulpit upon it a hundred feet high, and rugged as any a persecuted old Covenanter ever preached from. A flag-staff is set up therein, but the flag that floated there grew as yellow in the brimstone as a pestilence signal, and frittered away.

Not satisfied with endowing Satan with everything, they have proceeded to ordain him, for this is the Devil's Pulpit. You gaze down from the lofty look-out upon a winding hall sloping rapidly away toward the bottom of the cafion, and showing the unrailed galleries and slippery stairways whereby you came, and all one blotch of confused colors like a wagon-painter's shop-door. You look through spirals, wisps 'and clouds of steam, of whiffs from rocks that have sat down on themselves and fallen to smoking their pipes. Your mouth tastes as if you had lunched from a box of matches. You smell as if


 

 

THE GEYSERS.   151

you had been out in Sodom's brimstone rain without an umbrella. You feel as if you had escaped from Tophet's open mouth; and if not quite so intensely, then as if you had been basted with brimstone for the cutaneous effects of that uneasy animal called acarus scabiei. How much more harmless a thing may be when disguised with words of which nobody knows the meaning!

The scene is weird. Macbeth's witches, anybody's witches, would be at home there, and set about making broth of " eye of newt and toe of frog " without so much as a hint from the miller. Leaving the pulpit, you go down over the shoulder of the mountain by a pleasant shady way to Temperance Spring, an artery of splendid water that the roots of the big trees have vainly tried to hold in their crooked fingers. You are in a cool and unsuggestive atmosphere. Some crimson linnets are singing in the trees, but no bird ever flew into the grim cathedral or rested in the blotched cloisters of the canon you have left. You halt at the Lovers' Post-Office, where a rustic seat and a bended tree and a gracious shade invite you. The great hollow of an oak is filled with cards and letters deposited there by travelers from all the world; you read names from New-Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong. It is a cousin of the Charter Oak of old.

Then catching up the broken thread of the trail, you descend into the unshapely dish of a dead volcano. You walk on the lava beds where the earth yields noiselessly to your foot. A cane is thrust into it as easily as into so much bakers' dough, and when withdrawn a puff of steam lazily follows. It would hardly surprise you to hear a discontented snore at the disturbance. One of the ladies cries " Don't," and you don't. The volcano may not


 

 

152   BETWEEN THE GATES.

be dead, but sleeping; let us treat it with respect. We walk amid the gray flour of calcined rocks that would have held an inscription for a thousand years, but they came centuries ago grists to this mill. True it is, " the mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small." You walk across the debatable ground of the crater with the tiptoe feeling with which you used to teeter into church in prayer-time, and come on the side of the volcano to a hot sweat-and-mud bath where the Indians used to bring their sick to be healed. It must be the original office of Dr. Thompson, the ancient prince of steam-doctors, and himself in high esteem. The miller's tea-kettle with its rattling lid above, and its rush of steam and its tumbling brewing below, is the last of the miller's hardware that we visit. The orderly strata of the rocks are torn and twisted out of shape, like a book of tattered leaves. Bleached, encrusted, spangled like nuggets, resembling petrified honeycomb, slate, sandstone, everything, all tumbled out together.

People come here and take a hurried look. They lift their skirts, and worry about their boots, and fresh from Icelandic Geyser pictures with their hundred feet of col-

. umned water, they think this but a wreck of a chemist's kitchen. But let them linger; see that mountain fairly cleft from peak to lowest depth; watch these rocky books rent from their covers and tumbled into heaps of chaos; sift through their thoughtful fingers the pale affrighted dust of stone, ground fine as pollen from a flower; struggle around these quaking, trembling, rumbling, stifling crags and peaks, like a little steamboat shaking with the ague of an engine too big for its body; think of these mountains " rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun," riddled


 

 

with fires and forces no man can estimate; imagine the intensity of the agencies that keep this wreck of matter glowing, and these rocks bubbling like the sap in the sugar-camps in spring; fancy what ruin would be wrought were these safety-valves to shut; go to the bath-house beside the Pluton, and grope in the chamber gray with clouds of steam; or plunge into water hot from the boilers of a thousand years; — think, see, and do all this, and you are inspired with a reverence for these reserved powers that mutter beneath your feet. See the trees that stand like tall hall-clocks upon the very rim and wreck of volcanic ruin, and time the long-gone day when its grim thunders ceased, for lo, they have grown grand since these giants always turning over fell into restless sleep!

BEAUTY IN THE CANON.

But even the grimmest deep of the canon gives birth to beauty. I first saw the steam's white plumes drooping and drifting away over a mountain shoulder, and touched with the morning sun. There was the suspicion of a bow of promise on the clouds. I saw them again when the day went down the western slope. There was a flush of glory on the smokes of the old camp-fires.

And all around this place are nooks and alcoves, picturesque and beautiful. There is one, " The Lovers' Rest," a sort of shrine beneath the laurel's royal roof, where sun and shade play hide-and-seek together, and floor the alcove with curves of green and gold. It hangs like a balcony above the Pluton River, whose voice comes up with laughter from its rocky street. Vines drape the trees, and wild flowers smile from rugged clefts and swing above the water. Gray rocks lie quietly about like flocks

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154   BETWEEN THE GATES.

in the fold at night. A mountain clad in broidered uniform stands guard to keep the grim-mouthed canon out. You could not tell it is within a thousand miles.

 

• It was just here that an anniversary overtook us so strictly personal that the writer hesitated to name it, until he remembered it was an offense he could commit but once in a quarter of a century. His Silver Wedding-day found him and his at the Geysers, and their kind fellow-mountaineers made it memorable with cordial words and pleasant deeds, and under the shade of the laurel, the voice of mountain birds and Geyser river clear and strong, the air bright with sun and sweet with flowers, the seventh of June straight down from Heaven, the wedding feast set forth, the valued friends around, these lines, written where the miner's wash-bowl used to be in the old song, "upon my knee," were read, and then " The 'Lovers' Rest" was left to its loveliness and loneliness, and the wedding guests are scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific. "Here's a health to them that's awa' ! "

 

Five and twenty years ago

And two thousand miles away, With a mingled gleam and glow As of roses in the snow,

Shines a day!

Only day that never set

In all this world of sorrow,

Only day that ever let Weary, wayside hearts forget To-morrow.

All the world was wondrous fair

To the bridegroom and the bride,

With the lilacs in the air And the roses all at prayer Side by side.

In the door stood golden day,

Washed the noon-mark out with light, Larks half sang their souls away

Who dreamed the morning would not stay Until night?


 

 

Dim and bright and far and near

Is the homestead where we met—Friends around no longer here,

Rainbow light in every tear

Together yet!

Ab, the graves since we were wed

That have made that June day dim—Golden crown and silver head

Always dying, never dead,

Like some hymn

Some sweet breath of olden clays:

Lips are dust—on goes the song! Soft in plaint and grand in praise, Living,,brooks by dusty ways

All along!

Wandered wide the loving feet,

Some have made the lilies grow, And have walked the golden street Where the missing mornings meet

From below.

Night the weaver waits to weave,

Facing north I see unfurled Shadows on my Eastern sleeve—Crape of night. but never grieve

For the world.

Now, dear heart, thy hand in mine,

Through clear and cloudy weather, Crowned with blessings half divine We'll drink the cup of life's old wine

Together.

In this "Lovers'" perfect "Rest,"

Beside the Geyser river,

Where mountains heap the burning breast Of giants with the plumy crest

Forever,

New friends grace this Silver Day, Apples gold in pictures fair, Bringing back a royal ray

From the everlasting May

Over there.

We lift the prayer of tiny Tim,

"God bless us every one!" Crown life's goblet to the brim,

While across its Western rim

Shines the Sun.

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CHAPTER XIII.

THE PETRIFJED FOREST.

DELIGHTFUL as it is to go a-gypsying by private conveyance, you want a touch of the four or sixin-hand broad mountain stages, good for a dozen and no crowding. I had such an experience with W. C. Van Arnim, a knight of the road, not a brigand, but master of the whip and ribbons. He can play on the reins as if they were harp-strings. He gathers them up until he feels every mouth with his fingers, and is en rapport, as the mesmerizers say, with all of the six. Then that whip throws out fifteen feet of lash with an electric explosion at the end of it done up in a silk snapper, and he flicks the near leader's ear as accurately as you can lay an argumentative point on one thumb-nail and secure it with the other. The team gives a step or two of a dance, and is off. It plunges up the pitches like a charge of cavalry. It dashes around the capes as swallows over a mill-pond. The leaders have doubled a cape that juts out above a precipice. The wheelers are making straight for the chasm at a swinging trot. The leaders are nowhere. You clutch the seat as the man overboard grasps a hen-coop, and shrink to the rock side with a pinched feeling of apprehension.

And yet it is wonderful to see the earth letting itself down two thousand feet, and holding on with scarred

156


 

 

THE PETRIFIED FOREST.   157

fingers and rocky knuckles to the shelf you are riding upon. You look down. It has taken a river with it, and never spilled a drop, and there it is hurrying along as if nothing had happened. You look across the aerial gulf all free and clear to another world beyond. Sometimes you feel a disposition to fly, and sometimes you feel as if you should fly in spite of yourself. You thought all this since we lost the leaders, for a man thinks fast when he is going to be hanged or drowned, or tumbled from a precipice. Those leaders are headed for a point at right angles to the stage. They must not pull a pound, and you see why—should they draw, the hind wheels would be swung around over the gulf, and so you watch the driver as he fingers out a pair of reins and hauls them taut. The next pair are slackened upon the wheelers' backs.

Yonder are four great S's in a row, two boldly curving toward the gulf, and two hugging the mountain with the convex side. We strike the first and swing in on a scurrying trot ; the next and sweep out ; and so till we have dashed off the S's. It is alcove and column, column and alcove; we whirl around the cornices and dodge into the recesses, but the gulf fits the scallop like a glove. There is no getting rid of it.

You say to Van Arnim in a deprecatory way, a sort of pray-don't-laugh-at-me air, " Isn't the road pretty narrow?" giving a furtive look at the wheel under your hand, that rims along the very selvedge with a little crumbling craunch.

" I have all I can use," is the common-sense reply, as he touches up the off leader. By-and-by we meet a heavily-laden wagon in the narrowest of places. Its


 

 

158   BETWEEN THE GATES

driver sees our cavalcadb of horses, halts square in the road—as who would not? — and nervously jerks the lines this way and that, and his horses swing their heads from side to side like a garden gate with a boy on it, but the bodies never move an inch.

" Well," says our driver in a generous way, " which side of the road do you want? Take your choice, and get out of the middle of it." That sounds fair, but then—. At last, after some backing and sheering and muttering, the wagon is shelved, and the stage just sways astride of the gulf's brink and pulls through. Who ever heard of breaking a precipice to the saddle! And so, up and down, in and out, over and under, we go. It is as graceful as flying.

The road from the Geysers to Cloverdale is like the undulations of a strain in Homer. I think a Grecian could learn to scan it. And there were curious things on the way. Perched upon a tree over the road is a specimen of the peacock of the West—a rare bird, and larger than an ostrich. This one had been repeatedly shot at by ardent tourists, but they never ruffled a feather. It is perched there yet. It is a formation of a redwood limb, and a most remarkable portrait, even to the tail and the detail of Juno's favorite poultry. Farther on, at the left of the road, is a lean mountain, its spine showing sharp as a wedge, and gaunt as a starved wolf.

At the end of this spine, about five hundred feet in the air, is the profile of a Turk. The face is about five yards long—face enough for a vender of lightning-rods. The low forehead, the aquiline nose, the moustached lip, the imperial on the chin, and even the eye


 

 

THE PETRIFIED FOREST.   159

lashes, are plainly seen without the help of keen optics

" To see things not to be seen."

The whole is surmounted by the folds of a turban wound about with Oriental grace, and Nature has thrust a little evergreen in it for a plume—or for a joke, either or both. What innumerable rains have trickled down that patient nose, is the first thought; and the second, what touches of wind and water have .shaped those features into everlasting immobility; of what earthquake shock was that old man of the mountain born, who keeps end-less watch and ward over the brawling canon. It might have been there when King Alfred was making lanterns. And it is less than a dozen years since the Turk swelled the census by one. When the laborers were building the road, the foreman used to watch the cliff as you would the gnomon of a garden dial for the time. The sun struck a little promontory at eleven o'clock, and one day, in an instant, he discovered the whole face, and found it was the tip of another man's nose across which he had been taking sight for noontime.

We rattle down the last declivity of the mountain, ford the Russian River, and are again within lightning-stroke of the world; for yonder is a telegraph wire, and this is Cloverdale and dinner, where the food was cooked first, and the guests were cooked just after they arrived. The land-lord, who called himself a double-headed Dutchman, which means he was High and Low, if not Jack and the Game, had hidden his thermometer for the comfort of his patrons, but it would have read the temperature up to par in the shade, if it could read at all.

The day. we reached the Petrified Trees was a glar•er.


 

 

160   BETWEEN THE GATES.

The sun blazed steadily down upon a responsive earth that blazed back again, and we were between two fires. It is the cemetery of dead redwoods, solemn as the catacombs and looking older than the pyramids. It is a graveyard where every fallen giant is struck with a rocky immortality. You are back in the Stone Age. You look upon the seamed, arid and naked hills covered with unlettered monuments, for the face of some Sphinx that has been staring the centuries out of countenance with its unspeculative eyeballs. You are met by Evans, the Petrified Charley of the tourists, whose fathers were subjects of the Great Frederick ; a tough old sailor aforetime, who having tossed about upon all seas has anchored here and turned Sexton. His home is a bit of a ship's cabin, snug and holy-stoned. His slender-waisted fiddle and some nautical instruments garnish the walls. The bunk where he "turns in " is neat as a new tablecloth. His companions are a dog, " Rascal," and a venerable, inquisitive and aggressive goat, called " Billy."

Now there was a lady in the party as active as an antelope and enduring as young hickory. In the best of senses she would make a "daughter of the regiment," that would carry the boys by storm if the enemy failed. Sparkling with vivacity, ready to scale a mountain or catch a chicken, she was an antidote to the blues and a dyspepsia exterminator. Baron Munchausen would have delighted in her, not because she told stories, but because she told facts as if they were fictions. " Billy" was especially deputed to meet this lady, and they met. The meeting was touching in the extreme. She sprang from the wagon and grasped him saucily by his venerable beard — a salutation to which he sternly replied with


 

 

THE PETRIFIED FOREST.   161

bowed head, she having given him the cold shoulder an instant before. She indulged in a slight retrospect, and Billy gave her a lesson in disjunctive conjunctions beginning with " but." For a man who owns no cow, Evans has an abundance of butter. The lady sat down upon the impression her lesson had made, and meditated. I could hardly abridge my story without omitting the abutment.

A kind of reception-room—or, to carry out the figure, a receiving-vault—is filled with curiosities of redwood

mortality. Here is

 

a coiled snake, the blood-vessels distinct, every detail perfect, struck with petrifaction while taking a nap. Twigs, walking-sticks, knots, bark, all as stony as if Medusa had given them one of her lithographs of a look. There is no

revelry here. You

3

would as soon think

of waltzing with a mummy that had dined once or twice with one of the Pharaohs. Around us are wooded mountains that' shorten the sunshine a couple of hours every day, relieving the place of a whole month of glow and glare in a year.

You climb rocky paths, and up and down over knobs and, knolls of bare earth, grass and shrub, and reach the cemetery, a rough area of twenty acres, where three hundred stone redwoods—sequoias—lie heads down from

7*

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162   BETWEEN THE GATES.

North to South at an angle of 35°, the roots all being up the mountain sides, and unpleasantly suggesting apoplexy had there been any blood or any sap or anything alive in centuries. Some of them have been exhumed from the ashen and thirsty soil by the industrious old Sexton, and some resemble long graves with their covering of earth. The old man regards these stolid logs as a shepherd so many pet lambs. He sees grains of gold in them where you only see streaks of gray. They are his bread-winners. He lives with them summers when you visit him; he lives with them winters when nobody visits him. Like the hero of Juan Fernandez he has a goat and a dog, but no " man Friday," and no more wife than Mungo Park had in the African desert. He pinches in an affectionate way the corrugated bark of these tumbled monoliths that once had life, as if they could take a joke. He picks up a few little stone chips and gives you, but he is prudent, for he sees thousands like yourself who will come for more chips.

You clamber upon a fallen monarch with its thirty-four feet girth and sixty-eight feet exhumed. Here are the bark, the scars, the knots, as in life, and its rings chronicle a thousand years! In its glory it must have been two hundred feet high. Where are the birds to fit

this monster—the birds that nested in its branches—. and what their length and strength of wing and talon?

The breezes that waved its foliage may have been dead five centuries when the little fleet of Admiral Columbus felt for wind with their mildewed sails in 1492.

Some of the trees were scathed by flames before they put Insurance Agents at a discount and became fire-proof, and here are blocks of charcoal turned to stone. Noth-

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ing was spared by the solemn, silent spell. The scene brings back the fable of the enchanted palace of Arab story, where all was stricken with a paralysis of marble. Several trunks are divided into sections of equal lengths, and about right to build the generous fires of our grandfathers; the yule logs of old English Christmas Eves Some say they broke in falling, driving, drifting, but there is too much "method in the madness." Those trees were severed by human hands. Whose hands? God only knows. By what gales of the elder time, blowing

out of the fierce North, were those gigantic corpses of ashen gray uprooted and swept South? Did a volcano shroud them in immortality? Did a cloud from some mysterious alembic chill and deaden them to stone? If these desolate heaps of flint and pebbly sand and thin pinched soil were once a volcano's troubled mouth, the furnace fires went out perhaps before the Conqueror's curfew rang in Saxon England. What a rocking of the cradle there must have been when the earth quaked, and lava put these trees in flinty armor, and transfused their

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164   BETWEEN THE GATES.

veins with dumbness! If Agassiz could have been pilgrim here before he went abroad, we might have known —perhaps:

You pick up chips that are rocks, write your name upon bark as upon a slate, and your first feeling as you traverse the graveyard is disappointment. But the grandeur of the scene grows upon you as you look and think. Here is something out of the common reckoning. The silence of the place is eloquent as speech. These head-long trees are the heroes of old elemental wars. They are dead on the field. They are pre-historic giants.

Young oaks, but older than the Declaration, have crowded up through the shattered and helpless dead. They exult amid the wrecks of a grander time, like young Mariuses amid R,ome's ruins. They are the living dogs, and are they not better than the dead lions beneath them? Then, all at once, it occurs to you that these redwoods are the fallen columns of classic temples, "God's first temples." What would you not give to know the story of this necromantic place ! Did any eye that ever wept in human sympathy behold the transformation ? Did mortal music ever ring amid the columned arches of this wood? Who sang, what tongue, what theme?

You turn from the rent and rigid earth, no springs of living water at your feet, no shadow overhead; from a spot where some mysterious force in the gone ages cried " halt!" to life — and life, with pulses turned to rock and pliant limb to adamant, obeyed. Life halted, but death did not succeed it; death which is change, which falters at time's touch into dust that is driven to and fro of winds in helpless, hopeless atoms. They are old as the hills, and yet were born into the knowledge of modern man but


 

 

THE PETRIFIED FOREST.   165

sixteen years ago. You are glad to get away from Nature out of business; Nature that has closed accounts with life and time.

Altogether, to a thoughtful man, the Petrified Trees are the most impressive things in California. They overwhelm your vanity with gray cairns of what once danced in the rain, whispered in the wind, blossomed in the sun. We need not go to the realms of spirit to apply the words of Hamlet. The royal Dane would have said them here had he walked in this graveyard: " There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in our philosophy!"

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CHAPTER XIV,

 

 

HIGHER AND FIRE.

THE Russian River Valley is fertile as Egypt and fair as Italy. It is two hours from San Francisco, but two weeks nearer the Equator. We halted at Healdsburg, a pleasant town that gave us a welcome_ warm enough to cook an omelet. "Sotoyome" names a hotel, but as it means valley of flowers, it might well christen the whole region. We stopped at the " Sotoyome." There is a funny little affectation of grandeur in the way of announcing arrivals at modern caravansaries. Thus you read that A B has " taken rooms" at the Cosmopolitan. You call on A B, and you find him in number 196, fourth floor back, quite above the jurisdiction of the State, and higher than you have ever gotten since you took the pledge; one chair, one pillow, and eyed like a Cyclops with one window; a room as hopelessly single as Adam seemed in his bachelorhood. But " rooms" is statelier, and we all enjoy it except A B, who skips edgewise to and fro between trunk and bed, as if he were balancing to an invisible partner.

The Russian River, which is not a rushing river in Summer, courses its way oceanward. This country has a history. As late as 1845 the Russians laid claim to it and erected a fortress and raised wheat, and placed a tablet upon Mount Saint Helena that shows his blue-caped shoul-

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HIGHER AND FIRE.   167

der at the eastward, and inlaid an engraved plate of copper bearing some household words from Moscow, and pronounced it a goodly land and desired it for their own. Meanwhile the Spanish Governor down the Coast was fulminating with his Toledo blade, because of the inroad of the furry bears of the North. The subjects of the Czar have gone, but they left their name on the river.

Thermometers run highest in low latitudes. Once find out that people Atlanticward go into country places to get cool, and you may be sure that on the Pacific they will travel in the opposite direction for the same purpose. They do. We had left blankets by night and flannels by day for several degrees of the temperature that all Christians pray against. That ambitious young man, Longfellow's Excelsior, must have fired the mercury with a passion to look down upon him. It ran up the degrees as the nimblest member of Hook-and-Ladder Company Number One climbs a ladder at a fire. It stood on the hundredth round in the shade, and everybody shed his coat and jacket. Like an onion, he came off rind by rind. He husked himself like an ear of corn.

I sat under the vine and fig-tree of a friend—it was a Smyrna fig and full of fruit, and I fancied I was in Smyrna. "In the name of the prophet, figs!" His first look at a fig-tree takes a man back to the day when, with his two unclouded eyes even with the counter, like a pair of planets just ready to rise, he produced a cent and demanded a fig. There were more cents'-worths of comfort in that drum of figs than in a whole orchestra to-day. The tree was Eve's live clothes-line. She found her aprons on it, though she never hung them there. Its name has been upon the Savior's lips. It is a Bible tree.


 

 

It is strange to see it growing by the roadside, with its dark green grape-vine leaves and its pear-shaped fruit. You smile t6 find the little figs, each with its own apron, come right out of the tree complete from the first, and no announcing flourish of blossom. Once a fig, always a

fig.

Oranges were ripening near by. I made believe I was in Florida. The thermometer went up to 106°, and I saw

a cactus that had grown by diagonals, until the topmost pin-cushion was eighteen feet from the ground, and edged with a fringe of pink tassels of flowers, and I dreamed I was in the Bishop; s garden in Havana. The silver marrow in that glass spine stood at 110°, between two thicknesses of trees and a vine. A thermometer is a damage in hot weather. It heats and aggravates the observer with a sort of metallic maliciousness. I put it in the sun to kill it. There it stood, straight as a bamboo, not ten feet from my chair, and grew to 140° in six minutes, and was as sound as ever. I brought it back in my wrath and watched it go down, and so did a crimson linnet who sat on a cherry-tree, with his wings at trail arms and his mouth open. The volatile god sank to 110° and— stood still. I thought of going for a piece of ice to make him reasonable; thought if I could only see that glittering column at a comfortable ninety, I should be more comfortable myself. There was a pomegranate in bright blossom at my left, and a nectarine doing its best, and I was away in Palestine in a minute. That thermometer embraced the opportunity to try another round, and stood at 112°.

A tree with its fruit of violet green was not far• off. It was an olive. Noah had seen a branch from another

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just like it, borne back by the bird to the boat that was waiting for land. It has ever been the emblem of peace since it brought joy to the heart of the first Admiral that ever floated. What are olives in pickle and olives in oil to the living tree! And while I was gone to Italy, the mercury watched its chance and the premium on quick-

silver was fourteen per cent. It

 

 

stood at 114°. I looked between

13o-

the trees upon the plaza and saw   _

 

 

the hot air dancing up and down   j20-

in the sun as if, like some old   ns-/au-

Peruvian, it was a worshiper of fire.

 

 

I thought I would go to the next 90 corner, took an umbrella and went two rods. Nobody could tell which was the hotter, the sun or the earth. The ground flared like the throbbing breath of an engine with the furnace door open and its red vitals inflamed by a gale of forty miles an hour. Then I knew I was in Arabia, and looked out for some stray sheik with a fleet of the " ships of the desert." It always appeared to me a piece of cruelty

 

 

to make a beast of burden of a camel, when the poor animal has to carry the most of himself packed in bales upon his own back. It is an ungenerous indorsement.

 

 

As I went that two rods, and it seemed as if my umbrella would wilt like a poppy, I understood for the first time the dignity of the African potentate, one of whose titles is " Lord of' the Four-and-Twenty Umbrellas."

8

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170   BETWEEN THE GATES.

I knew why he has so many. It is the census of his entire wardrobe. With the air at 145° and the earth you walk on trying to get as hot as the sun, one poor little parasol is worthless. What you want in such a country is a pair—an umbrella at each end: one to keep the earth off, and one to keep the sun off. It was some comfort when the -lightning came along the wire with the word that at Cloverdale, sixteen miles distant, the mercury was 118° and everybody alive but those that were dead before; and that at Skagg's Springs, where people go to be happy, it was 100° at bed-time, and bed-time was postponed till morning.

It helped me, too, when a lady of our party, a moral niece of George Washington, and as incapable of telling a lie as her uncle was, assured me that it has been hot-ter out of the place that the Three Worthies occupied, and in this region also, than we were being "done brown" in; that she saw a little prisoner of a ground-squirrel, whose cage was hung in the sun against a wall and forgotten, actually melted to death by the blaze, like a candle in the fire.

How much better we can bear other people's sorrows than our own! How resigned we are at their bereavements, and how nobly we withstand their temptations! If, with the same set of qualities, we could only be " other people," what a model of human kind every one of us would be!

Some fruit was baked on the sunny side, some flowers wilted, but altogether those furnace days spurred vegetation into a Canterbury gallop. And the wind blew out of the North, and the harder it blew, the hotter it grew. It was as enlivening as the Sirocco. It was the Sirocco if it was not a Simoom.

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HIGHER AND FIRE.   171

Going that two rods, I saw two young human animals; one had legs like a pair of parentheses ( ), and an abridgment of a blue calico frock; the legs of the other were straight as the arrows of Apollo, and her dress was bright and gauzy as a June cloud. The first was a Digger Indian's papoose, with beady eyes, a crafty look, hair cat-black and " banged." The last had eyes blue as a lupin and clear as a China saucer, wavy hair almost the color of corn silk, and the complexion of a sea-shell. I felt in the case of the papoose that it would hardly be a sin to set a trap for it, and yet the dusky mother flung it over her shoulder and nursed it as if it were worth saving! What numberless degrees between the pet and the papoose, and where shall we look for the link? They were both fire-proof, played bare-headed in the sun and were not consumed.

A band of Digger Indians in the valley gave an opportunity for the pursuit of Natural History. Several squaws were pursuing minute specimens of it also, as, like deck-passage ideas, they swarmed the heads of the papooses. But there is no room for anything in the hold. I saw foreheads belonging to stalwart fellows that were barely an inch high, and the hair grew boldly down, like a bison's, almost to the brink of the eyes. It is surprising that John has not caught one of them and made an idol of him.

We hear of people dying violent deaths. Under the impulsive temperature of some California valleys, I think it may be said that the animal and vegetable world live violent lives. Something bit my hand under a snug kid glove one of those torrid days. It was a vicious bite, sharp as a trout's. The glove came off, and there was a


 

 

172   BETWEEN THE GATES.

little beast that looked like a flax-seed, but the hot weather had given him the vorlcity and vivacity of a shark. He didn't mean anything. It was only his incisive way of speaking to me.

We boys, you know, used to thrust a sprig of live-forever in the crack of the wall to see it grow, and thought it wonderful that a poplar whip or a currant slip would furnish its own root, and go into the business of independent living. In California you can thrust a peach limb in the ground, and it will turn into a tree. An old resident on the Pacific Coast and an older friend of mine, set a bit of a budded branch in the earth one November, and the next July it bore a peach as large as a big fist. A cast was made of the prodigy, and when I saw it a sentiment of gratification possessed me that my cane is tipped with an iron ferrule, lest it should take root while I halt to greet a friend, and give me trouble! If there is one place better than another for people given to lying, it is California; for no matter how strange the story they tell, it is pretty sure to be verified somewhere in the State. Example: A calla-lily may be in full chalice out-of-doors, and the ocean fog may case its leaves in ice till it. looks like a lily of glass and frail as a damaged reputation. But that lily is no more harmed by it than it would be by a summer dew in New York. The sun comes up and the ice melts, and the flower is as fresh as ever. And thus you have a sort of January-and-June Millennium.

There is no gradual shading out of anything in California. The rapidity of the contrasts is the wonder of them. A boy is a man, a girl is a woman, before you know it. You are kept in ceaseless astonishment because


 

 

HIGHER AND FIRE.   173

everything young is so old, and everything old is so young. It is quite impossible to.tell what anything will be till it is.

In San Francisco there is no long-subsiding Eastern twilight, that goes down like a great maple-and-hickory fire, to a bed of glow, then red shadows, then memory, then the dead past, then night, without startling you. It is the turn of a wrist. Day is shut off and darkness turned on. You wake up in the night, and all at once it has got to be day. There are no twilight lovers on The Coast. The whispered momentous nothings, that seem to require a little toning down of the light in other countries, are uttered here in broad day, without so much as the protection of a parasol. It is an open-handed, open-spoken, open-hearted land. There are fewer back-doors than elsewhere. Vice goes in and out of mansions whose tenants' names are done in silver upon the panels of the front entrance: " Rose," " Jenny," "Kitty"; but not the names their mothers called them by, and a " rose by any other name smells" just the same. People see more and look less than in lands nearer the North Pole.

Elsewhere people covet the shade. Here they sit in the sun. The beautiful parks where trees shed grateful shadows are not resorts, unless they can find some happy spot just ready to take fire with the noontide blaze. They are baskers, and when the stranger thinks It a perfect temperature, San Francisco goes countryward to boil its blood down in a semi-tropical kettle, and make it a little thicker and richer.

And it was at Healdsburg that we got into the kettle !


 

 

CHAPTER XV. A MINT OF MONEY.

MY rooms front a massive building of British Columbia and California granite. Its severe and classic facade with six huge stone columns like fluted and petrified pines, and its ponderous doors of iron, contrasts too violently with the light and uncertain architecture of a city of wood. There is rock enough in the steps to make a score of Plymouths, a geological fragment that, according to the euphemism of the poet, " welcomed our sires." It was about such a greeting as the royal boy with his clever sling and a paving-stone from the brook Kedron gave the giant.

The building is called by one of Juno's nicknames. Like the modern young woman that can afford it, she had several surnames.— her mother never knew the half of them,— and one of them was Moneta, corrupted by her intimate friends into " Mint." When the Caesars and the gods were in power, money was coined in her temple at Rome, which was handy for her when Jupiter fulminated about her pin-money. From this bit of Latin history anybody can see that it' is the United States Temple of Juno of which I am writing. It is one of the largest and most complete in the world.

Sometimes the gray front, as you watch it, takes a yellowish tint as if a marked case of jaundice had struck

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A MINT OF MONEY.   175

through three feet of stone from the bilious treasure within. It is the reflection of a cloud overhead. You look up and see plumes of golden smoke floating from one tall hat of a chimney, and silver ones from another. There is a laboratory suspicion in the air as if there were trouble in the acid family, and Nitric, Sulphuric and Muriatic were quarreling with somebody. To talk of gold and silver smokes from a mint is no cheap magnificence. That smoke starts for the outer air with precious things that do not belong to it. Silver and gold get wonderfully volatile when you crowd them with fire, and become " the riches that take to themselves wings and fly away." Before that smoke escapes, they tire it out by compelling it to travel a zigzag hall of a flue, and drown it two or three times in reservoirs on the way, so that the precious particles tangled in its folds may drop down in the water, and leave the impoverished vapor to take care of itself. A mint chimney is a sort of pipe for Midas to smoke.

The precious metals are baking, boiling, frying, in the furnaces below. To call the smoke golden is no fancy. Little fortunes go up in those cloudy volumes sometimes. The dust that had settled upon the asphalt roof of the Philadelphia Mint in a quarter of a century was recently removed, and almost a thousand dollars in gold and silver that had fallen out of the smoke were obtained. But then you have seen plain blue smokes issuing from a man's mouth, that in three years carried off a thousand dollars, though not a dime of it ever fell anywhere.

I watched the Mint several days before I ventured to go into it, lest it might make me covetous, or avaricious, or discontented with the sort of postal-currency fortune


 

 

176   BETWEEN THE GATES.

I possess. There was always something going up and coming down that cruel pile of stone steps. Every day, Express wagons and huge drays with elephantine horses came and went. They brought tons of silver bricks and loads of gold bullion. They drew away hundreds of thousands of dollars in coin. I saw the great horses gather themselves up for a scratch of a pull when they started the solid load on the level pavement. Every day, men and boys with shouldered canvas bags of coin went

OLOFNCfllARACT CF THE DOOR STEPS

up and down. A bag of bullion on a shoulder is as common as a gold epaulette was in the Mexican war. Every day a wooden spout, a great eaves-trough, was laid from the top of the steps to the waiting wagons, and bags of silver and boxes of gold were shot down the trough with a metallic chink sweeter to most ears than the chimes of old Trinity, until the great dray was packed as snug with bags as ever was a miller's wagon with flour. I noticed that pedestrians hastening by came to a halt and helped me watch; that horsemen drew rein

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A MINT OF MONEY.   177

and looked; that eddies of people whirled around the wagons and stood still, like friends reverently regarding the face of the dead; that little girls and boys ran up and down the steps beside the auroduct — that word is private property—the treasure-spout, and touched the bags as they tumbled their way down, as if there were healing in them like a touch of the king's garments. Gold and silver inspire profound respect. They are the better part to most men as they are the better part of some men. It may be true that " a fool and his money are soon parted," but it is equally true that a fool married to his money ought to be divorced.

For twenty-five years the Pacific Slope furnished four-fifths of all the gold produced. For twenty-seven days of July, 1877, there were one hundred and sixty-five meltings of $60,000 each, giving sixty-six hundred ingots, or almost ten millions of gold. During the four years ending July, 1877, thirty-five hundred and twenty-two tons of silver were received, and eight hundred and twenty-three tons of gold. The coinage for 1876–7 reached fifty millions of dollars.

But you do not wait for me, but cross over to the Mint.

ALADDIN'S CAVE.

You climb the pyramid of steps and enter halls and rooms that with their stone floors, walls and ceilings are rocky as the Mammoth Cave. Everything reverberates. The voice has a sepulchral ring. If you can fancy a vehement ghost calling the cows, you know how it sounds. Your gentle-spoken friend talks so loud you cannot hear him. You are in the mill where money is made. You see the raw material, fresh from the mines, piled around like

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