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THE CHOSEN VALLEY.
By Mary HALLOCK FOOTE,
Author of " The Led-Horse Claim,” “ John Bodewin's Testimony,” etc.
WITH PICTURES BY THE AUTHOR.
Norrisson had been much apart since the ex
periment of their marriage began,-he, frankly PHILIP REPORTS FOR WORK.
in pursuit of money; she, of the most enlightHAT is it that you hope to do ened ways of spendingit,- and Philip had idealover there? What is the most ized the parent he saw least of. He was prouder you have promised yourself?” of his father's summons, in the name of his Work,
“Why do we always say than a young cadet of his first commission in over there'? Is n't it time, the service of his country; but how commend
if only as a courtesy, we began this enthusiasm to a woman professedly weary to call it home?"
of both husband and country? “ Should I be at home - on the desert “I am looking for an engineer," his father's plains ?"
letter ran,“ with about what I take your quali“ You might concede something to the fact fication to be, to go on big irrigation work — that you will soon have a husband and a son an extension of our present system near the there."
town of Norrisson. Don't you
think you had “I might concede everything, and go my- better come and see what you can make of self! But then there would be one reason less, it over here? I shall have use for all
scithough a poor one, I admit, for your coming ence,- you should have got considerable by back. No, you need not remind me, Philip, now,- and I can give you the practical expethat I have nothing left."
rience no engineer, no American engineer, can Mrs. Norrisson was a pretty, spoiled mother; afford to dispense with. Cable me your answer one that should have died young and lived in directly. The place can't wait.” the memory of her charm. She could argue, Mrs. Norrisson held this letter, folding it and very logically, from her own predispositions, pinching it small in her delicate but not genbut she failed in that logic of the heart which erous hands. enables a woman to feel another's reasons. “What does he want with an engineer?" she Nothing could have convinced her, now, that demanded. “A county surveyor is all they she had not a bitter cause, as the sorrows of need to build what they call their ditches.' women go, even with one who sends a son into They are always working against time, and the battle or gives him up to a fatal choice in mar- quality of the work is quite a second matter. riage. Yet all her grief was that her son had Take my word, Philip, your methods will not chosen a profession which she called narrow, suit your father. He values nothing but time. and elected to practise it in his, in their, native He is what they call a driver.” West; while Philip's culpability lay in that he “That, quite possibly, is what I need,” Philip had not revealed to her this purpose as it grew. answered with provoking humility—“to learn There had been the natural affection, but never something of that drive, which has done so a perfect understanding, between them. If Mrs. much over there." Norrisson had guessed this fact before, she knew “So much and so badly,” the fair renegade it now, passionately declaring there is no mys- retorted. “I don't deny they have pluck; but tery in life like the being one calls one's child. look at their chances, in a new country where
Mr. Price Norrisson had married his wife they are first in the field! You 'd think they “just off the range,” as they say in the cattle might afford at least to be honest. But they countries; sixteen, and the most beautiful girl have the courage of their opportunities. Take he had ever met; mixed blood of course. The the history of their continental railroads, for marriage was pronounced, in the language of example. But granting you can keep out of his set,“ a good gamble.” In the course of her all that, what sort of a school is it for a young subsequent remarkable social progress Mrs. man who has n't finished his education? Your Norrisson had left the range far behind. The father built a ditch over there— the one that fields in which she sought distinction lay to the has made Norrisson—not only without coneast; and here she would have detained her sulting a single engineer of reputation, but acson but that some reactionary sentiment in the tually in defiance of a very able one, a sort of young man called him back. Mr. and Mrs. partner of his. He stood in his and
father got rid of him, because he had a con- his education, his accent, and his wife. He may science about his work. You need not look at go west for his fortune, perhaps; but you do not me, my dear, as if I were talking scandal. He need a fortune, Philip." will tell you the story himself. He glories in The last word was a plea. But Philip could succeeding in just that illogical, immoral way. not forego his retort. It is the triumph of makeshift. That is his school “ Because my father has made one for me? of practical experience. They say the country is that a reason I should spend my life in Eudrives them, and they have to keep the pace, rope, posing as a citizen of the world ?” somehow, or “get left.' I don't go into the “Ah, if you are posing! I thought you were philosophy of it. I 'm only speaking of its ef- doing something more sincere. But now I see sects. You can see them in me. I was bred in you have never been that. You have taken the that same school; I got on famously; I could way of all men with all women; flattering them, do anything I pleased up to a certain point. conceding everything till the moment of disThere I stopped. There I have stopped for covery. And then they ask, why it is a woman want of thoroughness in the beginning. I hoped must always make a scene! Well, go and be you would be a school-boy till you were twenty- 'foot-loose,' as they say over there ! But don't five, then take five years for travel. By that get beaten, and don't get left.' For if you do, time you would have been something more your father will lay it all to Europe and to me." than an · American engineer.' I meant that Philip cabled that he would report at the my son should be a citizen of the world, not a company's office in New York, at once, where local man in a profession half learned.” he hoped for further orders. He knew that
* I 'll come back, my dear mother; but a there was such a town as Norrisson, a metropman must choose his field. It strikes me the olis of the desert plains, named for his father, field for Americans is America; and if the con- who had been the Moses of emigration thither, ditions are so different, the sooner I get over even to the smiting of the dry hills to furnish there and learn them, the better."
forth water for the reclamation of the land. “Who, then, are the Americans? Are you But where lay this field for practical experian American? If you are, you get precious ence, in what precise quarter of his big native little of it from me. My father was an English- West, he was as ignorant as if he had been born man, my grandmother was a Spanish Creole - a cockney. He had a mixed idea that the a Californian I suppose you would call her. people of Norrisson lived in semi-subterranean Why should n't we revert, through these knots dwellings called dugouts; that their only fuel in our blood, to the people we come from was sage-brush; that their sons herded cattle; who had something that could be called race? and their daughters, phenomenally pretty and I am convinced it is the homesickness of gen- ungrammatical, ran barefoot, like the sage-hens, erations that stirs in me whenever I fancy my- until each married her cowboy or successful self back in that ugly, raw, indiscriminate region prospector and became a boarding-house belle you ask me to call home. I may be homeless, in San Francisco. These images were mainly debut that is not my home.”
rived from his mother's generalizations, she “ Has it ever been suggested that you should was a sad recreant to have been born under call the desert plains your home? Come, at the Star of Empire,—and from her free use of least, as far as San Francisco."
hyperbole where her feelings were involved. * I might as well be in London, so far as the She had a singular aversion to the West, and society of my husband and son is concerned.” when she talked of her girlhood there, - a - Well, not quite."
time of unimaginable freedom, by her own ac** The difference in miles does n't begin to count,-it was with a bitterness Philip could make up for the difference in point of residence. only marvel at, seeing that even her distorted But it 's not a question of my going back; descriptions conveyed, in spite of herself, whether I go or stay, my tastes, my principles, a picture that interested and attracted the are the same. But for you it will be the turn- listener. inz-point. I am sure that you will commit your- He began his journey in anything but a triself to something pitiable before the year is out; umphant humor. He was preoccupied with his Lubably to staying there forever. There 's a mother's disappointment, and some of her arfascination about the life, as there is about the guments stayed with him after the heat of confirst stage of every return to barbarism. When tention had subsided. A half-doubt of his own the rope begins to strain, it 's a temptation to choice hampered his outlook. It was not till reverse the wheel; but is it worth while to send he began to go down the long continental the bucket to the bottom again, after so many slope, westward from the Port Neuf, far west turns have brought it nearly to the top ? No; of the great divide, following the Snake River you are making a distinct step backward. A Valley, and towns and farms gave way, and man. I have always insisted, should go east for solitary buttes stood for church-steeples, and
dusty corrals for lawns and meadows, that he been running your education for quite a while saw his work before him, and began to look for- on the European plan; I rather thought it was ward instead of back.
my turn now. And when I 've set you on your legs it will be your turn. Then you can go back if you want to. But I guess after you 've
been two years in the West, with something to HE IS INTRODUCED TO THE SCHEME.
do, you won't want to go back. Let me see, MR. PRICE NORRISSON was at breakfast, how old are you, Philip ? " eating his first course of iced fruit and go- “Twenty-three, sir.' ing through a pile of newspapers, when Philip “You don't say! It's a fact. You were born made his appearance on the morning after his the year of the big strike on the Comstock." arrival. The hours of his father's establishment “And Phosa must be forty years old !” was were a shock to his system; he had not thought the thought Mr. Norrisson did not utter. He of breakfast at half-past seven. Wong, the Chi- was quite used to thinking of himself as a man nese butler, in a white, starched blouse, the of fifty-two, with a chest-measure that increased sleeves of which fell to the knuckles of his rapidly downward. But Phosa a woman of tawny, pointed hands, was making coffee in a forty! His slender, narrow-eyed, rose-mouthed Vienna coffee-pot with the solemnity of a priest gipsy, in whom he had forgiven everything bepreparing an oblation. One side of the room cause of her youth! How could she endure was filled with a great array of glass and china the fact herself? The reflection made him feel in cupboards built into the wall; the opposite more tenderly toward her. side was devoted chiefly to a huge painting of Philip took from his letter-case a photothe Shoshone Falls, the work of a local artist, graph, and pushed it across the cloth. Mr. after a photograph by Jackson of Denver—such Norrisson took it up and looked at it fixedly, an acquisition as the bored possessor some- but without a change of expression. “For me?” times deprecates by explaining that he took it he inquired. for a debt. A long window on the third side; “ If you like it. It is mine only because I divided into casements, opened upon a grass helped myself to it. My mother has her picture terrace where a lawn-sprinkler flung its daz- taken every now and then; her journal intime zling mist into the sunshine. Outside there was she calls the collection. But she is very jeala humming stillness, a perfume of locust-blooms, ous of its circulation." a breeze that blew freshly into the room, whip- “She need n't be afraid, if the others tell no ping the silk sash-curtains out from the rods, more about her than this one. I can't read her turning up the corners of Mr. Norrisson's news- journal. This picture does n't even tell her paper, and tumbling the yellow roses that filled age.” a majolica bowl in the center of the table. “ Neither does her face.”
“ You 're about four inches longer than you “ You better keep it,” said Mr. Norrisson, were when I saw you last,” said Mr. Norrisson, handing back the card with a confirmed stoical measuring his son with his keen, appraising patience in the last look he gave it. “It may glance. “Don't run to fat much: queer how tell you more than it does me. I presume you white everybody looks who 's just out from will miss her a good deal. She's the kind of the East. You ought to have got a Western woman who occupies a man's mind. She did color on shipboard."
mine until I found I could n't think about her In the next five minutes he had asked Philip and do anything else. I don't miss her so much a number of questions, rather difficult to an- as I used to; I don't let myself.” swer, about his mother. “She 's still too good Mr. Norrisson now began upon the second an American, I suppose, to be happy out of course of his substantial breakfast — trout from Europe?"
the hills, served in a wreath of cresses, with “"Where it is well with me, there is my curly slivers of bacon, and potatoes hashed country,' is her creed national,” said Philip, with cream. Philip was breakfasting Contiafter a moment's hesitation.
nental fashion, his father eying him disapprov“ And how is it with you ? Have you got ingly. outside of all your national prejudices?" "I 'm going to take you down the line this “ I have come home,” said Philip.
morning. You can't ride twenty miles on a roll, “Good enough! And what does your mo- a cup of coffee, and a cigarette. Eat something,
! ther think of your going to work ? "
boy! You don't know when you 'll get your While Philip fumbled in his memory for a next meal.” speech of his mother's that would bear repeti- Philip fancied that this prompt call for “boots tion, Mr. Norrisson answered the question for and saddles "might be somewhat in the nature himself.
of a test, and was careful not to keep his father “ Did n't expect it, of course. Well, she has waiting, though the horses were brought round
at once and he was not dressed for riding. Mr. scheme fall through. He had his professional Norrisson glanced at his son's trousers and reputation to look out for; I had my reputafaultless foot-gear, and ordered a servant to fit tion as a business man. If I undertake to make him with a pair of spatterdashes. His“ nar- a deal, I make it; if not on one proposition, row-gage" hat was exchanged for a grass- then on another; carry it through, somehow, cloth helmet, and they set forth.
and stop the leaks afterward. We were the From time to time, as they rode along, the original partners in the scheme, Dunsmuir and father cast an eye upon his son's seat in the I. He has got the location that we should have saddle. At length he spoke of it, approving had only for the split between us. He is canny Philip's readiness to “catch on” to the Ameri- enough to see that he holds the door to the high can way of riding. Philip disclaimed the com- line, the only ditch-line that can reach the big pliment, explaining, with some particularity as tracts below, that we can't reach-300,000 to terms, that he had been taught to ride in acres of the richest arid land in southern Idaho. the French school, which had certain points We have been freezing him out, you understand. of resemblance to the American, notably the It has taken fifteen years to do it. I brought long stirrup. Mr. Norrisson snorted at the idea you over here to be ready for the new scheme of a resemblance; he said that the Americans that is to take in Dunsmuir, location and all.” had no school.
“And is Dunsmuir prepared to be ab“We ride because we want to get there. A sorbed ?” horse is merely the extension of the powers of “Bless you, no. It is n't time to close him a man: if the man likes to make a show of him- out yet. You don't like the vi et armis method, self he can do it better on a horse than on the I see. Well, don't be alarmed. There is n't ground; and that, I take it, is the fundamental going to be any fighting, not even in the courts. principle of the haute école in riding." Dunsmuir's claim is worn pretty thin; but if
They were following the lower bank of the it came to a tussle between us, the side of a big irrigation-canal toward the head-works on the company is always the unpopular side. Dunsriver. The stream which supplied the canal was muir has been laughed at and called a crank an uncelebrated tributary of the Snake, called these ten years; but people have got used to the Wallula, fed by melting snows from the thinking of him, holding on with a bulldog grip, mountains, and now at the flood. Every long, staking every penny he's got on the game, and hot day set the river roaring with added vol- year after year of his life — not to speak of the ume at night; and the dry-plains wind, which lives of his wife and children. It's the sort of blows strongest toward morning, like the ter- spectacle that stirs the blood of your true Westral of the tropics, augmented the sound of its ern man. There is never any sentiment about booming, which could be heard for miles, and the rights of a company. It will be a delicate might have been mistaken for a distant growl bit of work, I presume, this closing deal with of surf. The canal was carrying to its full ca- Dunsmuir. I hear that solitude has become a pacity, a guard of men watching it day and disease with him; that he's completely warped, night. Mr. Norrisson pointed out to his son like a stick of timber left out in the sun. He that the location at which the main ditch had was sound enough once. We might have been been taken out of the river was not a particu- of immense service to each other, if he could larly good one; a fact which Philip had already have brought himself to compromise with that
professional conscience of his. But pride be* That ditch had to go through,” said his fore everything! He had put his name to the father. “ There was only one spot at the time first report on the scheme : it should never go for the head-gates. Better risk the patching through, then, with his consent, but on what and propping than let the scheme grow cold he called a sound basis. Of course there were on my hands. Here, you see, we had no garan- one or two little issues of a personal nature. ties d'intérêts, like your gentlemen of the Ponts I 'll tell you the story some time, but the gist et Chaussées. We had no security but faith in of it is just here — Dunsmuir is a sore-headed the ditch. Private capital, if it 's non-resident theorist, and I am a practical man.” capital, is skittish unless you can show results. They had reached the measuring-weir of the Our parties got scared at the outset. We had main distributing-channel, and the talk plunged to give up our scientific lay-out, and build as into technicalities. Dunsmuir's name was not we could, with what money I could get them to again mentioned between father and son until put up. We made a bad job of it, but we made that evening, in the summer smoking-room, it pay. But there is just where the pride of when Mr. Norrisson returned to the story with your foreign engineer knocks him out. We had evident relish of the opportunity to review it one of them with us at the start, but he could n't with an intelligent listener. He refrained from put up with our American methods. It hurt making points against Dunsmuir, resting his him more to botch the job than to see the whole case honestly or carelessly on its merits, such
as they were. He did not pretend to be proud experience to start an arid-land scheme on the of them, but treated the whole entanglement colonization plan. I was looking up the subas one of the exigencies arising from a practical ject of irrigation myself; it was the spring of man's obligations to his business.
74, and mining stocks had got a black eye. I Above their heads, as they talked, a Japanese made up my mind then that irrigation was lanternsoftly glimmeredinits sheath of wrought- going to be the next big boom. bronze filigree; the pattern of the metal screen “ Dunsmuir was coming down from the wavered upon the circle of light cast upon the Northwest, on horseback, traveling light with ceiling, like the shadow of leafy boughs on a a couple of pack-animals and a half-breed moonlit curtain. Mr. Norrisson was seated in guide. I was on my way across from San a deep, leather chair, one foot resting on the Francisco. We met at Winnemucca, where I ratan lounge where Philip was stretched out, dropped off the train to wait for the stage. He looking both sunburned and pale after his first had got wind of this tract through some old day in the saddle. He was observing his father, Idaho City miners he struck at Vancouver. I'd and smiling to himself at the contrast that bold had my eye on it, going back and forth, ever since masculinity presented to the fair, changeful, '60. I happened to know there was a possibility feminine type which he was accustomed to of the U.P. pushing across it, and that the lands watch, in his usual rôle of the listener. Ugli- must still be open for occupation; but it was ness in one another has a certain fascination for all vague, in the future, with me. He was first men, where its signification is power. Philip on the ground; but he wanted to go in with had seen famous historic heads by the Flemish some American, because, you know, an alien painters, the prototypes of his father, set off by can't locate a water-right under our Governthe ruff, and gold chain, and furred mantle that ment. Well, Dunsmuir turned up that evening, would have suited Mr. Norrisson's middle-aged as I was saying, and we sat up talking irridevelopment much better than a pongee sack- gation, soils, crops, climates, and railroad facoat and a linen collar. Yet he understood cilities till two o'clock in the morning. The what an offense this man of broad instincts and result of our talk was that Dunsmuir gave me hard, vital force might have become, with his his spare saddle-horse, and we rode north tosanguine eye and sagging underlid, to the pet- gether. I don't know that I ever had a pleasted, disdainful sensibilities of the wife who for anter journey. Dunsmuir had a keen eye for twenty years had contemplated only the points a new country; and like most Englishmen he of difference between them.
was a bit of a farmer. He knew soils and cli“ I was joking this morning, you know, at mates, and was watching out for the flowers and the breakfast-table,” said Mr. Norrisson, not birds and all the living things of the desert; very explicitly.
and when we rode at night he had the whole “Yes?" Philip inquired.
map of the stars in his head like an old navi“When I said it was my turn now. I want gator. Those lands, as we rode across them, you to understand that I have n't interfered two days and two nights, seemed to take hold to please myself, though I enjoy having my on his imagination. He saw them with the eye son around as well as any man. It was on your of a dreamer, but he sized 'em up just as coldly account I called you home. I was afraid she'd as I could. I never was surer in my life that polish away at you till all the bark was off, and I had got hold of the right man. But when then your growth would stop. That was one it came to laying out the scheme in detail, I trouble with Dunsmuir. He'd been trained up began to get scared. His very success, forto a certain size and shape, and he could n't merly, in India, was a disadvantage to him. change to fit the circumstances. Dunsmuir was However, I 'm ahead of my story. We agreed not much above thirty when I first knew him, to take hold of the scheme together. He but he was already an engineer of some distinc- wanted me to take it over to the other side tion. He had done excellent work in India, and offer it to some of those swell philanthroin charge of one of the divisions of the Lower pists who want room, outside of their estates, Ganges canal. He became disgusted with what for their crowded agricultural population. But he considered the gross inequality between the I have always had a preference for home cappositions of a civil and a royal engineer in the ital when I can get it. However, it was chiefly Government corps. I believe there is some a question of time with me, and you can't hurry room for jealousy in the treatment of the two an Englishman. We had various nibbles. I branches, and Dunsmuir was n't one to pass closed finally with the Larimers, a New York over a thing like that. When he had served his loan and mortgage house with agents all over term he decided to quit the Government ser- the West. They knew the country pretty well, vice. He had got the colonizing fever, more- and were in some of the railroad combinaover, and was resolved to do something on a tions that were likely to benefit it in the fularge scale over here, making use of his Indian ture. They were really anxious to get in here,