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ing. My dear father insisted always— But oh, Suan, Suan, he is dead—I am almost sure of it."
"Him old man quite dead enough, and big hole dug in the land for him. Very good; more good than could be. Suan» no more Inglese."
Well as I had known it long, a catching of the breath and hollow, helpless pain came through me, to meet in dry words thus the dread which might have been but a hovering dream. I turned my face to the wall, and begged her not to send the master in.
But presently a large, firm hand was laid on my shoulder softly, and turning sharply round, I beheld an elderly man looking down at me. His face was plain and square and solid, with short white curls on a rugged forehead, and fresh red cheeks, and a triple chin—fit base for remarkably massive jaws. His frame was in keeping with his face, being very large and powerful, though not of my father's commanding height. His dress and appearance were those of a working—and a really hard-working—man, sober, steadfast, and self-respecting; but what engaged my attention most was the frank yet shrewd gaze of deep-set eyes. I speak of things as I observed them later, for I could not pay much heed just then.
"Tis a poor little missy," he said, with a gentle tone. "What things she hath been through! Will you take an old man's hand, my dear T Your father hath often taken it, though different from his rank of life. Sampson Gun dry is my name, missy. Have you ever heard your father tell of it f
"Many and many a time," I said, as I placed my hot little hand in his. "He never found more than one man true on earth, and it was you, Sir."
"Come, now," he replied, with his eyes for a moment sparkling at my warmth of words; "yon mnst not have that in yonr young head, missy. It leads to a miserable life. Your father hath always been unlucky—the most unlucky that ever I did know. And luck cometh out in nothing clearer than in the kind of folk we meet. But the Lord in heaven ordereth all. I speak like a poor heathen."
"Oh, never mind that!" I cried: "only tell me, were you in time to save—to save—" I could not bear to say what I wanted.
"In plenty of time, my dear; thanks to you. You must have fought when you could not fight: the real stuff, I call it. Your poor father lies where none can harm him. Come, missy, missy, you must not take on so. It is the best thing that could befall a man so bound np with calamity. It is what he hath prayed for for many a year—if only it were not for you. And now you are safe, and for sure he knows it, if the angels heed their business."
With these words he withdrew, and kind
ly sent Suan back to me, knowing that her soothing ways would help me more than argument. To my mind all things lay in deep confusion and abasement. Overcome with bodily weakness and with bitter selfreproach, I even feared that to ask any questions might show want of gratitude. But a thing of that sort could not always last, and before very long I was quite at home with the history of Mr. Gundry.
Solomon Gundry, of Mevagissey, in the county of Cornwall, in England, betook himself to the United States in the last year of the last century. He had always been a most upright man, as well as a first-rate fisherman; and his family had made a rule—as most respectable families at that time did— to run a nice cargo of contraband goods not more than twice in one season. A highly querulous old lieutenant of the British navy (who had served under Nelson and lost both arms, yet kept "the rheumatics" in either stump) was appointed, in an evil hour, to the Cornish coast-guard; and he never rested until he had caught all the best county families smuggling. Through this he lost his situation, and had to go to the workhouse; nevertheless, such a stir had been roused that (to satisfy public opinion) they made a large sacrifice of inferior people, and among them this Solomon Gundry. Now the Gundries had long been a thickset race, and had furnished some champion wrestlers; and Solomon kept to the family stamp in the matter of obstinacy. He made a bold mark at the foot of a bond for £150; and with no other sign than that, his partner in their stanch herring-smack (the Good Hope, of Mevagissey) allowed him to make sail across the Atlantic with all he cared for.
This Cornish partner deserved to get all his money back; and so he did, together with good interest. Solomon Gundry throve among a thrifty race at Boston; he married a sweet New England lass, and his eldest son was Sampson. Sampson, in the prime of life, and at its headstrong period, sought the far West, overland, through not much less of distance, and through even more of danger, than his English father had gone through. His name was known on the western side of the mighty chain of mountains before Colonel Fremont was heard of there, and before there was any gleam of gold on the lonely sunset frontage.
Here Sampson Gundry lived by tillage of the nobly fertile soil ere Sacramento or San Francisco had any name to speak of. And though he did not show regard for any kind of society, he managed to have a wife and son, and keep them free from danger. But (as it appears to me the more, the more I think of every thing) no one must assume to be aside the reach of Fortune because he has gathered himself so small that she should not care to strike at him. At any rate, good or evil powers smote Sampson Gundry heavily.
First he lost his -wife, which was a " great denial" to him. She fell from a cliff while she was pegging out the linen, and the substance of her frame prevented her from ever getting over it. And after that he lost his son, his only son—for all the Gundries were particular as to quality; and the way in which he lost his son made it still more sad for him.
A reputable and valued woman had disappeared in a hasty way from a cattle-place down the same side of the hills. The desire of the Indians was to enlarge her value and get it. There were very few white men as yet within any distance to do good; but Sampson Gundry vowed that, if the will of the Lord went with him, that woman should come back to her family without robbing them of sixpence. To this intent he started with a company of some twenty men—white or black or middle-colored (according to circumstances). He was their captain, and his son Elijah their lieutenant. Elijah had only been married for a fortnight, but was full of spirit, and eager to fight with enemies; and he seems to have carried this too far; for all that came back to his poor bride was a lock of his hair and his blessing. He was buried in a bed of lava on the western slope of Shasta, and his wife died in her confinement, and was buried by the Blue River.
It was said at the time and long afterward that Elijah Gundry—thus cut short— was the finest and noblest young man to be found from the mountains to the ocean. His father, in whose arms he died, led a sad and lonely life for years, and scarcely even cared (although of Cornish and New England race) to seize the glorious chance of wealth which lay at his feet beseeching him. By settlement he had possessed himself of a large and fertile district, sloping from the mountain-foot along the banks of the swift Blue River, a tributary of the San Joaquin. And this was not all; for he also claimed the ownership of the upper valley, the whole of the mountain gorge and spring head, whence that sparkling water flows. And when that fury of gold-digging in 1849 arose, very few men could have done what he did without even thinking twice of it.
For Sampson Gundry stood, like a bull, on the banks of his own river, and defied the worst and most desperate men of all nations to pollute it. He had scarcely any followers or steadfast friends to back him; but his fame for stern courage was clear and strong, and his bodily presence most manifest. Not a shovel was thrust nor a cradle rocked in the bed of the Blue River.
But when a year or two had passed, and all the towns and villages, and even hovels and way-side huts, began to clink with money, Mr. Gundry gradually recovered a whole
some desire to have some. For now his grandson Ephralm was growing into biped shape, and having lost his mother when he first came into the world, was sure to need the more natural and maternal nutriment of money.
Therefore Sampson Gundry, though he would not dig for gold, wrought out a plan which he had long thought of. Nature helped him with all her powers of mountain, forest, and headlong stream. He set up a saw-mill, and built it himself; and there was no other to be found for twelve degrees of latitude and perhaps a score of longitude.
If I think, and try to write forever with .the strongest words, I can not express to any other mind a thousandth part of the gratitude which was and is, and ought to be forever, in my own poor mind toward those who were so good to me. From time to time it is said (whenever any man with power of speech or fancy gets some little grievances) that all mankind are simply selfish, miserly, and miserable. To- contradict that saying needs experience even larger, perhaps, than that which has suggested it; and this I can not have, and therefore only know that I have not found men or women behave at all according to that view of them.
Whether Sampson Gundry owed any debt, either of gratitude or of loyalty, to my father, I did not ask; and he seemed to be (like every one else) reserved and silent as to my father's history. But he always treated me as if I belonged to a rank of life quite different from and much above his own. For instance, it was long before he would allow me to have my meals at the table of the household.
But as soon as I began in earnest to recover from starvation, loss, and loneliness, my heart was drawn to this grand old man, who had seen so many troubles. He had been here and there in the world so much, and dealt with so many people, that the natural frankness of his mind was sharpened into caution. But any weak and helpless person still could get the best of him; and his Bhrewdness certainly did not spring from any form of bitterness. He was rough in his ways sometimes, and could not bear to be contradicted when he was sure that he was right, which generally happened to him. But above all things he had one very great peculiarity, to my mind highly vexations, because it seemed so unaccountable. Sampson Gundry had a very low opinion of feminine intellect. He never showed this contempt in any unpleasant way, and indeed he never, perhaps, displayed it in any posirive sayings. But as I grew older and began to argue, sore I was that it was there; and it always provoked me tenfold as much by seeming to need no assertion, but to stand as some great axiom.
The other members of the household were his grandson Ephraim (or " Firm" Gundry), the Indian woman Suan Isco, and a couple of helps, of race or nation almost unknown to themselves. Suan Isco belonged to a tribe of respectable Black Rock Indians, and had been the wife of a chief among them, and the mother of several children. But Klamath Indians, enemies of theirs (who carried off the lady of the cattle ranch, and afterward shot Elijah), had Suan Isco in their possession, having murdered her husband and children, and were using her as a mere beast of burden, when Sampson Gundry fell on them. He, with his followers, being enraged at the cold-blooded death of Elijah, fell on those miscreants to such purpose that women and children alone were left to hand down their bad propensities.
But the white men rescued and brought away the stolen wife of the stockman, and also the widow of the Black Rock chief. She was in such poor condition and so broken-hearted that none but the finest humanity would have considered her worth a quarter of the trouble of her carriage. But she proved to be worth it a thousandfold; and Sawyer Gundry (as now he was called) knew by this time all the value of uncultivated gratitude. And her virtues were so many that it took a long time to find them out, for she never put them forward, not knowing whether they were good or bad.
Until I knew these people, and the pure depth of their kindness, it was a continual grief to me to be a burden upon them. But when I came to understand them and their simple greatness, the only thing I was ashamed of was my own mistrust of them. Not that I expected ever that any harm would be done to me, only that I knew myself to have no claim on any one.
One day, when I wag fit for nothing but to dwell on trouble, Sampson Gnndry's grandson "Firm"—as he was called for Ephraim —ran up the stairs to the little room where I was sitting by myself.
"Miss Rema, will you come with us t" he said, in his deep, slow style of speech. "We are going up the mountain, to haul down the great tree to the mill."
"To be sure I will come," I answered, gladly. "What great tree is it, Mr. Ephraim V
"The largest tree any where near here— the one we cut down last winter. Ten days it took to cut it down. If I could have saved it, it should have stood. But grandfather did it to prove his rights. We shall have a rare job to lead it home, and I doubt if we can tackle it. I thought you might like to see us try."
In less than a minute I was ready, for the warmth and softness of the air made cloak or shawl unbearable. But when I ran down to the yard of the mill, Mr. Gundry, who was giving orders, came up and gave me an order too.
"You must not go like this, my dear. We have three thousand feet to go upward. The air will be sharp up there, and I doubt if we shall be home by night-fall. Run, Suan, and fetch the young lady's cloak, and a pair of fcicker boots for change."
Suan Isco never ran. That manner of motion was foreign to her, at least as we accomplish it. When speed was required, she attained it by increased length of stride and great vigor of heel. In this way she conquered distance steadily, and with very little noise.
The air, and the light, and the beauty of the mountains were a sudden joy to me. In front of us all strode Sampson Gundry, clearing all tangles with a short, sharp axe, and mounting steep places as if twoscore were struck off his threescore years and five. From time to time he turned round to laugh, or see that his men and trained bullocks were right; and then, as his bright eyes met my dark ones, he seemed to be sorry for the noise he made. On the other hand, I was ashamed of damping any one's pleasure by being there.
But I need not have felt any fear about this. Like all other children, I wrapped myself up too much in my own importance, and behaved as if my state of mind was a thing to be considered. But the longer we rose through the freedom and the height, the lighter grew the heart of every one, until the thick forest of pines closed round us, and we walked in a silence that might be felt.
Hence we issued forth upon the rough bare rock, and after much trouble with the cattle, and some bruises, stood panting on a rugged cone, or crest, which had once been crowned with a Titan of a tree. The tree was still there, but .not its glory; for, alas! the mighty trunk lay prostrate—a grander column than ever was or will be built by human hands. The tapering shaft stretched out of sight for something like a furlong, and the bulk of the butt rose over us so that we could not see the mountains. Having never seen any such tree before, I must have been amazed if I had been old enough to comprehend it.
Sampson Gundry, large as he was, and accustomed to almost every thing, collected his men and the whole of his team on the ground-floor or area of the stump before he would say any thing. Here we all looked so sadly small that several of the men began to laugh; the bullocks seemed nothing but raccoons or beavers to run on the branches or the fibres of the tree; and the chains and the shackles, and the blocks and cranes, and all the rest of the things they meant to use, seemed nothing whatever, or at all to he considered, except as a spider's web upon this tree.
The sagacious bullocks, who knew quite well what they were expected to do, looked blank. Some rubbed their horns into one another's sadly, and some cocked their tails because they felt that they could not be called upon to work. The light of the afternoon sun came glancing along tHe vast pillar, and lit its dying hues—cinnamon, purple," and glabrous red, and soft gray where the lichens grew.
Every body looked at Mr. Gundry, and he began to cough a little, having had lately some trouble with his throat. Then in his sturdy manner he spoke the truth, according to his nature. He set his great square shoulders against the butt of the tree, and delivered himself:
"Friends and neighbors, and hands of my own, I am taken in here, and I own to it. It serves me right for disbelieving what my grandson, Firm Gundry, said. I knew that the tree was a big one, of course, as every body else does; but till you see a tree laid upon earth you get no grip of his girth, no more than you do of a man till he lieth a corpse. At the time of felling I could not come anigh him, by reason of an accident; and I had some words with this boy about it, which kept me away ever since that time. Firm, you were right, and I was wrong. It was a real shame, now I see it, to throw down the ' King of the Mountains.' Bnt, for all that, being down,we must use him. He shall be sawn into fifty-foot lengths. And I invite you all to come again, for six or seven good turns at him."
At the hearing of this, a cheer arose, not only for the Sawyer's manly truth, but also for his hospitality; because on each of these visits to the mountain he was the host, and his supplies were good. But before the descent with the empty teams began, young Ephraim did what appeared to mo to be a gallant and straightforward thing. He stood on the chine of the fallen monster, forty feet above us, having gained the post of vantage by activity and strength, and he asked if he might say a word or two.
"Say away, lad," cried his grandfather, supposing, perhaps, in his obstinate way (for truly he was very obstinate), that his grandson was going now to clear himself from art or part in the murder of that tree— an act which had roused indignation over a hundred leagues of lowland.
"Neighbors," said Firm, in a clear young voice, which shook at first with diffidence, "we all have to thank you, more- than I can tell, for coming to help us with this job. It was a job which required to be done for legal reasons which I do not understand, but
no doubt they were good ones. For that we have my grandfather's word; and no one, I think, will gainsay it. Now, having gone so far, we will not be beaten by it, or else we shall not be Americans."
These simple words were received with great applause; and an orator, standing on the largest stump to be found even in America, delivered a speech which was very good to hear, but need not now be repeated. And Mr. Gundry's eyes were moiBt with pleasure at his grandson's conduct.
"Firm knoweth the right thing to do," he said; "and like a man he doeth it. But whatever aileth you, Miss Rema, and what can 'e see in the distance yonnerf Never mind, my dear, then. Tell me by-and-by, when none of these folk is 'longside of us."
But I could not bear to tell him, till he forced it from me under pain of his displeasure. I had spied on the sky-line far above us, in the desert track of mountain, the very gap in which my father stood and bade me seek this landmark. His memory was true, and his eyesight also; but the great tree had been felled. The death of the "King of the Mountains" had led to the death of the king of mankind, so far as my little world contained one.
Thk influence of the place in which I lived began to grow on me. The warmth of the climate and the clouds of soft and fertile dust were broken by the refreshing rush of water and the clear soft green of leaves. We had fruit trees of almost every kind, from the peach to the amber cherry, and countless oaks by the side of the river—not large, but most fantastic. Here I used to sit and wonder, in a foolish, childish way, whether on earth there was any other child so strangely placed as I was. Of course there were thousands far worse off, more desolate and destitute, but was there any more thickly wrapped in mystery and loneliness?
A wanderer as I had been for years, together with my father, change of place had not supplied the knowledge which flows from lapse of time. Faith, and warmth, and trust in others had not been dashed out of me by any rude blows of the world, as happens with unlucky children huddled together in large cities. My father had never allowed me much acquaintance with other children; for six years he had left me with a community of lay sisters, in a little town of Languedoc, where I was the only pupil, and where I was to remain as I was born, a Bimple heretic. Those sisters were very good to me, and taught me as much as I could take of secular accomplishment. And
it was a bitter day for me when I left them for America.
For during those six years I had seen my father at long intervals, and had almost forgotten the earlier days when I was always with him. I used to be the one little comfort of his perpetual wanderings, when I was a careless child, and said things to amuse him. Not that he ever played with me any more than he played with any thing; but I was the last of his seven children, and he liked to watch me grow. I never knew it, I never guessed it, until he gave his life for mine; but, poor little common thing as I was, I became his only tie to earth. Even to me he was never loving, in the way some fathers are. He never called me by pet names, nor dandled me on his knee, nor kissed me, nor stroked down my hair and smiled. Snch things I never expected of him, and therefore never missed them; I did not even know that happy children always have them.
But one thing I knew, which is not always known to happier children: I had the pleasure of knowing my own name. My name was an English one—Castlewood— and by birth I was an English girl, though of England I knew nothing, and at one time spoke and thought most easily in French. But my longing had always been for England, and for the sound of English voices and the quietude of English ways. In the chatter and heat and drought of South France some faint remembrance of a greener, cooler, and more silent country seemed to touch me now and then. But where in England I had lived, or when I had left that country, or whether I had relations there, and why I was doomed to be a foreign girl —all these questions were but as curling wisps of cloud on memory's sky.
Of such things (much as I longed to know a good deal more about them) I never had dared to ask my father; nor even could I, in a roundabout way, such as clever children have, get second-hand information. In the first place, I was not a clever child; for the next point, I never had underhand skill; and finally, there was no one near me who knew any thing about me. Like all other girls—and perhaps the very same tendency is to be found in boys—I had strong though hazy ideas of caste. The noble sense of equality, fraternity, and so on, seems to come later in life than childhood, which is an age of ambition. I did not know who in the world I was, but felt quite sure of being somebody.
One day, when the great tree had been sawn into lengths, and with the aid of many teams brought home, and the pits and the hoisting tackle were being prepared and strengthened to deal with it, Mr. Gundry, being full of the subject, declared that he would have his dinner in the mill yard. He
was anxious to watch, without loss of time, the settlement of some heavy timbers newly sunk in the river's bed, to defend the outworks of the mill. Having his good leave to bring him his pipe, I found him sitting upon a bench with a level fixed before him, and his empty plate and cup laid by, among a great Utter of tools and things. He was looking along the level with one eye shut, and the other most sternly intent; but when I came near he rose and raised his broad pith hat, and made me think that I was not interrupting him.
"Here is your pipe, Uncle Sam," I said; for, in spite of all his formal ways, I would not be afraid of him. I had known him now quite long enough to be sure he was good and kind. And I knew that the world around these parts was divided into two hemispheres, the better half being of those who loved, and the baser half made of those who hated, Sawyer Sampson Gundry.
"What a queer world it is!" said Mr. Gundry, accepting his pipe to consider that point. "Whoever would have dreamed, fifty years agone, that your father's daughter would ever have come with a pipe to light for my father's sont"
"Uncle Sam," I replied, as he slowly began to make those puffs which seem to be of the highest essence of pleasure, and wisps of blue smoke flitted through his white eyebrows and among the snowy curls of hair— "dear Uncle Sam, I am sure that it would be an honor to a princess to light a pipe for a man like you."
"Miss Rema, I should rather yon would talk no nonsense," he answered, very shortly, and he set his eye along his level, as if I had offended him. Not knowing how to assert myself and declare that I had spoken my honest thoughts, I merely sat down on the bench and waited for him to speak again to me. But he made believe to be very busy, and scarcely to know that I was there. I had a great mind to cry, but resolved not to do it.
"Why, how is this t What's the matter J" he exclaimed at last, when I had been watching the water so long that I sighed to know where it was going to. "Why, missy, you look as if you had never a friend in all the wide world left."
"Then I must look very ungrateful," I said; "for at any rate I have one, and a good one."
"And don't yon know of any one but me, my dear V
"You and Suan Isco and Firm—those are all I have any knowledge of."
"'Tis a plenty—to my mind, almost too many. My plan is to be a good friend to all, but not let too many be friends with me. Rest you quite satisfied with three, Miss Rema. I have lived a good many years, and I never had more than three friends worth a puff of my pipe."