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less interesting; the monotony of country life palls after a season. Change comes over us in a most unexpected guise. Our cañon was decked with the flaming scarlet of the poison-oak; these brilliant bits of foliage are the highlights in almost every California landscape, and must satisfy our love of color, in the absence of the East
autumnal leaf. The gorgeous shrubs stand out like burning bushes by the roadside, on the hill-slope,
in the forest recesses, and almost everywhere. The Artist's chum gave evidence of a special susceptibility to the poison by a severe attack that prostrated bim utterly for a while. Yet he stood by us until his vacation came to an end, and, to the last, there was no complaint heard from this martyr to circumstances.
One day he left us—on mule-back, with hostess or nine dogs fawning upon his stirrup, and her boys. amid a hundred good-byes wasted to him
Another from the house, the smithy, the barn, and smoke the swimming-pool. He had orders to send
under the in the Kid, or his successor, immediately stoop followed, and upon his arrival at the Bay. We must needs then, perhaps, a doze have some one to indulge, some one whose at the cottage, or interests were not involved in the primeval in one of the dozen farther than the pleasure it afforded for the rocking-chairs about hour. The kid was the very thing-a the house, or on the youngster with happiness in heart
, luster in rustic throne hewn his eye, and nothing more serious than from a stump in the grove between the peach-down on his lip; yet there was gravity house and the barn. The sun fooded the enough in his composition to carry him cañon with hot and dazzling light; the air beneath the mere surface of men and things. was spiced with the pungent odor of shrubs; The Kid drove in one night with rifle tall as it was time to rest a little before beginning himself, fishing-tackle, and entomological the laborious sports of the afternoon. Later, truck, wild with enthusiasm and hungry as we all wandered on the banks of the creek
a carp. and were sure to meet at the swimming- What days followed! Our little entopool about four o'clock. Meanwhile the mologist chased scarlet-winged dragon-flies Artist has laid in another study. Foster and descanted on the myriad forms of has finished his tale, and is rocking in a insect-life with premature accomplishment. hammock of green boughs; the Scribe has “ Out of the mouths of babes and suckbooked a half-dozen fragmentary sentences lings” we heard revelations not unmixed that will by and by grow into an article, with the ludicrous superstitions of the and the boys have come home from school. nursery.
By and by we wanted change; the mo- There is a school-house a mile distant, on notony of town life is always more the forks of the creek; we visited it one
Friday, and saw six angular youths, the mule.
the chief joy of the sum total of the young ideas within range hounds; the old couple grew young at the of the instructress, spelled down in broad- scent of the trail, and deserted their whinsides; and heard time-honored recitations ing progeny with Indian stoicism. Two delivered in the same old sing-song that nights and a day were enough for a single could only have been original with the sons hunt,—one may in that time scour the of our first parents. The school-mistress, rocky fortresses of the Last Chance, or with a sun-bonnet that buried her face scale the formidable slopes of the Devil's from the world, passed Ingram's ten times Ribs. a week, footing it silently along the dusty The return from the hunt was a scene road, lunch-pail in hand. She lives in a of picturesque interest : the approach of the lonely cabin on the trail to the wilderness hunters at dusk, as they emerged one after over the hill.
another from the dark wood; the packThe Kid sketched a little ; indeed, the mule prancing proudly under a stark buck artistic fever spread to the granary, where weighing one hundred and thirty-three the boys spent some hours of each day pounds, without its vitals; the baby fawn restoring, not to say improving, the tarnished slain by chance (for no one would acknowlcolor of certain face-cards of an imperfect edge the criminal slaughter); the final euchre deck, the refuse of the palette being arrival of the fagged, sore-footed dogs, who carefully secreted to this end; we never were wildly greeted by the puppies, and knew at what moment we might sit upon kissed on the mouth and banged about by the improvised color-box of some juvenile many a playful paw; the grouping under member of the family.
the trees in front of Bachelors' Hall, where But hunting was our delectable recrea- the buck was slung, head downward among tion; the Doctor would lead off on a half- green leaves, and with stakes crossed bebroken bronco, followed by a select few tween the gaping ribs; the light of the from the house or the friendly camps, flickering lantern; the dogs supping blood Fred bringing up the rear with a pack from the ground where it had dripped; the
satisfaction of the hunters; the admiration Doctor gathered his strength and shook as of the women; the wild excitement of the lively a shoe on the sanded floor of the boys, who all talked at once, at the top of best room as one will hear the clang of in their voices, with gestures quicker than many a day. Clumsy joints grew supple; thought;—this was the Carnival of the heavy boots made the splinters fly; a Primeval.
fellow-townsman, like ourselves on a vacaOne night, the Kid set out for the stubble- tion tour, jigged with the inimitable grace field and lay in wait for wild rabbits; when of a trained dancer. How few of our he came in with his hands full of ears, the muscles are aware of the joy of full devel. glow of moonlight was in his eye, the flush opment! From the wall of the best of sunset on his cheek, the riotous blood's room the “ Family of Horace Greeley,” in best scarlet in his lips, and his laugh was mezzotint, looked down through clouded triumphant; with a discarded hat recalled glass and a veneered frame. The county for camp-duty, a blue shirt open at the map hung vis-à-vis. A family record, throat, hair very much tumbled, and no wherein a pale infant was cradled in safthoughts of self' to detract from the abso- fron, and schooled in pink, passing through lute grace of his pose.
a rainbow-tinted life that reached the But all hunting-parties were not so suc- climax of color at the scarlet and gold cessful. One of seven came home empty- bridal, and ended in a sea-green grave; this handed and disgusted. It became neces- record, with a tablet for appropriate insary, while the unlucky huntsmen were scriptions under each epoch in the family under our roof, to give them festive wel- history, was still further enriched with lids come. Fred drew out his fiddle; the
his fiddle; the of stained isinglass carefully placed over the
domestic calendar, as much as to say,“What is written here is not for the public eye.” On the triangular shelf in the corner, stood the condensed researches of all Arctic explorers, in one obese volume ; its twin contained the revelations of African discoveries boiled down and embellished with numberless cuts; a Family Physician, one volume of legislative documents, and three stray magazines, with a Greek almanac, completed the library. So, even in the primeval state, we were not without food for our minds as well as exercise for our muscles. After a time, even the dance ceased to attract us. The Artist had lined the walls of his chamber with brilliant sketches; the Kid clamored for home.
I suppose we might have tarried a whole summer and still found some turn in the brook, some vista in the wood, some cluster of isolated trees, to hold us entranced; for the peculiar glory of the hour transfigured them, and the same effect was never twice repeated. Moreover, we at last grew intolerant of one great annoyance. You all have known it as we knew it, and doubtless endured it
with as little grace. Is there anything more galling than the surpassing impudence of country fies? We resolved to return to town, and returned close upon the heels of our resolution. Again we threaded the dark windings of the wood, and bade farewell to every object that had become endeared to us. We wondered how soon change would lay its hand upon this primeval beauty. We approached the logging-camp. Presto! in the brief interval since our first glimpse of the forests above it, the hills had been shorn of their antique harvest, and the valley was a place of desolation and of death.
It seemed incredible that the dense growth of gigantic trees could be so soon dragged to market. There was a famous tree—we saw the stump still bleeding and oozing up —which, three feet from the ground, measured eleven and a half feet one way by fourteen feet the other. When its doom was sealed, a path was cut for it and a soft bed made for it to lie on. The land was graded, and covered with a cushion of soft boughs. Had the tree fallen on uneven
Jolanta ground, it would have been shattered ; if it
had swerved to right or left, nothing but fire obliged to climb upon the wagon-seats, and could have cleared the wrecks.
hold our luggage above high-water mark. The making of the death-bed of this At Duncan's, on the home stretch, we monster cost Mrs. Duncan forty dollars. made our final pilgrimage, to a wild glen Then the work began. An ax in the hands over the Russian River, where, a few weeks of a skillful wood-cutter threw the tree head-before, the Bohemian Club had held high long to the earth. Then it was sawed across, jinks. The forest had been a scene of enyielding eighteen logs, each sixteen feet in chantment on that midsummer night; but length, with a diameter of four feet at the now the tents were struck, the Japanese lansmallest end. The logs were put upon terns were extinguished, and nothing was wheels, and run over a light trestle-work to lest to tell the tale but the long tables of the mill, drawn thither by a ridiculous rough deal, where we had feasted. They dummy, which looked not unlike an old- were covered with leaves and dust ; spiders fashioned tavern store on its beam-ends, with bad draped them with filmy robes. The an elbow in the air. At the mill, it was quail piped, the jay-bird screamed, the dove sawed into eighty thousand feet of mar- sobbed, and a slím snake, startled at the ketable lumber.
flight of a bounding hare, glided away Reaching the forest, on our way to the among the rustling leaves. So soon does Mills, we found the river had risen this new land recover the primeval beauty that ten miles from the mouth we were of eternal youth.