Charles Frederick Holder.

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The palaces of chance with clinking stream
Of silver, ringing showers of gold, — the dream
Of Danae come true, they were for him,
And yet the line gold, how was it waxed dim !
By day and night the gilded ways he strode,
vStalwart as any ; out the Mission Road
Dashed side by side with maddest cavalier
That jingled spur ; but ever in his ear
Sounded the counsel of the white-haired sire
His arm had happed to rescue from the fire,
The third quick fire kindled to sweep away
The hamlet on the dunes down by the bay.
Glorious old roamer ! man}- years before
Famed Forty-Nine he knew the Golden Shore,
And welt a youth might heed tiie thing he said,
Bending benignantly his noble head
As bend the oaks of Napa when they lean
To meet the wild oat in its April green.
" In olden woods the rarest mosses be,
Old heads are white with treasure. Come to me.
These were the words, too round to be denied ;
And then was there not something said beside,
About the "bird" Ninette. " her mother's child,
Orphaned down in the burning southern wild" ?
These last were chance words, dropped in by the way
But to a young heart — let the young hearts say.
" In olden woods" — it echoed on and on ;
The boat slipped from her mooring, the boy was gone
Slow out of sight Yerba Buena passed.
Next rusty Alcatraz, and Angel last ;
Behind, now, lay the windy town, the bay
Rippling and glistening in the perfect day ;
Before, the valley of the oat and oak.




Erelong, lulled off to slumber, when he woke,
'T was time to quit the boat, and with a will
To thrid the oaks far as the western hill,
Where the guide, Cactus, waited in the shade.

h bend the
To meet the

<f Nap<

tit, v Iran

The wind was stirring, and the burr oaks laid
Great shadows, black along the blanching grass,

Matted so thick it would not let him pass

Where it was rankest ; clear, between the swells

Of wind, clear, merry, rang the blackbird bells,

While gurgling music, hurrying note to note,

Spilled from the starling's overflowing throat.

And it was twilight ere he reached the guide

Lounging upon the scenty mountainside-,

Young, lissome Cactus, dusk and debonair

A slave as ever fawned on lady fair ;

And deep the sun was sunk into the west

The hour thev reached the Redwoods and the " Nest.

A mi ,{,;/> tin

mnk into th,



WAS dawn ; at the first calling of the quail
Adolph appeared. Below, the oaken vale
And plunging spines of interjacent hills
Were all in fog, the dense white fog that fills
The world np, there, till broad-backed ranges be
Mere porpoises swimming a vapor sea.
" Helena's cap will lift in just an hour,
Then shall you know old Mother Nature's power":
It was the sire, his hearty welcome said,
Hymning his Redwoods heaven as on he led.
" Here has she set on high, and there laid low,
As pleased her. Guttruff from yon rock can throw
The sight across seven ranges ; turn that way,
And he can count the white sails on the bay.
How now ? And there be wonders in the West?
We hear the stars here, we in Eagle Nest."

Below, the oaken vale
And plunging spines of interjacent hills-

The squirrels flowing round them, the pert jay
Mocking the hawks, the highholes at their play,
The golden-robin with his vigorous tune
Singing his heart into the heart of June ;

The lusty quail lifting amid it

The happiest mountain sound,

wild love's own call, —
Attended thus, fared onward

sire and guest
Till come upon the ' ' one

bird" of the Nest.
T was in one of those fringy,

winding places
Where close the clover- velvet

And the dwarf oak and little


Guttruff from yon rock can thi
The sight across seven ranges.



Lovers, in one another's arms are seen.

Under a manzanita, glossy, dark,

Her yellow head, leaned on its winy bark,

Made sunlight there. " Sire," Adolph sighed, "all Greece

Might well have .sailed to fetch that golden fleece."

Nor was the sighing fainter since the child

Was woman rather, blossoming in the wild,

With song and laughter. It was lesson-time,

And, taught of brooks, she rippled rhyme to rhyme : —

Catch-fly, clocks, and columbine,
Whose am I if he is mine?

Blue-curls, bindweed, baby-eyes,
Love is cruel when he tries.

Hound's- tongue, nightshade, meadow-rue,
I'll have lover none but you.

Pin-bloom, pipe- vine, pimpernel,
This, sweet naughty, you know well.

Shepherd' s-purse and .shooting-star,
Strangest folk all lovers are.

Silverweed and thimbleberry,
Ho, my heart, but we are merry !

Bleeding-heart and virgin's-bower,
Now it is the lover's hour.

Stonecrop, stickseed, tiger-lily,
He will love me — will he, will he ?

Knot-grass and forget-me-not,
Let him swear it on the spot."



/ called them blossoms, thought them such till now.

HK larkspur, painted-brush and poppy flame,

Ay, every peeping sweet without a name,

All, in those sunsets under foot ; the hues

Of purple and of scarlet, greens and blues,

Of hill and valley, all on sward and bough, —

I called them blossoms, thought them such till now.

O sire, that only flower ! that face — that face ! ' '

Adolph leaned forward, poised as for the chase.

And carolling Ninette ? The list'ning wood

Breathed out a shape to her. So bright he stood

She could not tell whether he was of earth

Or owed the old divinities his birth,

Sent down to be her father's friend, since he

So honored them. Her blood ran riot, she

Could feel the traitor shame-spots creep and grow ;

The ruddy god — would he not see, not know

Each silly thought, and tell it, too, and set

All heaven a-laughing ? Innocent Ninette,

A silly child indeed to bleed with shame

Before a god that could not speak her name,

So dumb he was ; one to be led away

That he might arm to woo another day.

Age yet may serve young love. High on the rock
Whence shines the bay, our lover could unlock
His tongue ; unsparing spent he on and on
Until it seemed all love's best words were gone.
The good sire heard, but as one hears in dream ;
His mind was back there by the bay. The gleam,
The growing wind, the smoke, the jam of drays,
The furious hurry in the narrow w r ays ;
At last the wall, the fragile, hanging wall,
And then the cheering — and the blank. Life, all,
Again 'twas saved him by the peerless boy,




And in a torrent broke his father's joy : —

" Once more, once more, kind gods, I find a man

To lift the heart up. Stand, Greek Puritan,

That I may look, gaze till my sight, long dull,

Whets it upon you, strong and beautiful.

Methinks those were your fellows, brown-haired

Who brewed the storm before the walls of Troy ;

There had you buckled armor with the best,

Shining to stir the hovering goddess' breast,

So proud of spirit, and so straight of limb,

Atrides' self had kept you near to him,

And well-worn Nestor — as your Nestor now —

Had, blessing, laid his old hand on your brow.

I said, to-morrow you should go to dig,

To gorge you in the tawny hills ; but, big

With fondness, I so tyrannous am grown

I will to keep you. I v eave me not alone

Until the autumn rains. The gold will wait.

Their lordships roistering by the Golden Gate,

Sow with full hand. Themselves, they swear, have found

The gold-beds first of any ; on the ground,

And in, the very first. They little know —

Ond pity him ! — who roamed here years ago,

Who can, asleep, discourse of rock and sand

To plague their wisest. Put in mine your hand :

You shall have gold in heaps, then, surfeited,

(If she will yield it) her own golden head.

For two years, boy, she bides my one bird still,

And then, why, then as she and Heaven will."

HE summer went ; and overhead the gray
Was growing on the blue. If graver lay
Ninette sang now, the measure ran too free
For true-love bonds, for captive minstrelsy

" Run away, love, and leave to me

The way of the bird and the way of the bee

Flower to flower down to the mead,
Mead to mead over the vale,

Vale to vale as the sunbeams lead,
On to the sea and the endless sail.

11 No no, love, I will not stop,

The butterfly swings in the thistle-top ;

Rock, rock, in the sunny weather,
Song of the bird and sweet of the bee,

Just the day and I together, —
That's the life and the love for me.

They zvere long joyous days from sun to sun —



" Fie, fie, love, bliss enough for me

The song of the bird, the sweet of the bee :

Flower to flower down from the hill,
Flower to flower down to the dale,

Field to field as the free winds will,
Ho, for the sea and the endless sail !"

" Nay, Nature ; flowers will waken at her feet,
Untimely, wrongly flourish in the sweet
Of her false Spring ; ay, quickened, they will blow,
Will, like her, wake and waste, and never know."
So grieved the boy the while he secret heard
The burden of the merry Redwoods bird.
I,orn Adolph ! Song that can deceive the year
May be too subtle for a lover's ear ;
Chance, other measures sang the merry bird
Deep in her heart.

And now the sky was blurred,
And over hill and valley woven and spread
Dull, slumbrous color for the season (lead.
The sire could not sit calmly at his door
And let the boy go, but, well on before,
His voice startling the rabbit and the quail,
Must see him to the forking of the trail : —
" Straight as the pigeon points will run the way.
With Cactus for your guide. He must not stay ;
It is no Sabbath journey, and we need
The shoot of darkness here. The nightshade-seed
Is brother's dog, his crutch ; and past a doubt —
The voice dropped now — the girl were lost without
Her Shadow. Lad, the goddess — does she chide
Or sway the battle to my hero's side ?
How reads the omen ? ' '

11 I have kept my VOW,
Good sire ; so, pray you, let me answer now.''



TWELVE-MONTH passed ere fortune brought the sire
Fresh fuel for his pioneeric fire : —
" Right royal robber}-, boy ! but more, more yet.
By Napa's oak and by the bird Ninette,
Play on, throw on ; it shall be kingdoms. More,
More yet, more, more. Away ! But not before
Ijgjt Some word be left may please a lass's ear.

You scarce have seen Ninette ; too sharp, I fear,
The thorns of honor." Slowly Adolph said,
His brow bared, " Not the slightest little thread
That flies, far shining, from that golden head,
Or wanders down that wondrous neck, love-led,
Has felt a breath from me."


Another June,
And Adolph came to hear the fairy tune
Of air and laughter, even the same he heard
It seemed an age before. The wilding bird
Sang on the same old elfin-measured song.
Trilling along the hills ; the warm day long
The same far ditty, while with lighter feet
The little breezes danced to it, and sweet
The mating birds, 'mong the madrono boughs,
Wove snatches of it in their lover's vows.
Two years had wrought a change. But few days more
Were left the uncle ; haggard now as hoar
Was he that came to hide him from his kind,
The scholar, hurt in body and in mind,
Ninette's tutor, from whom no plant that grows
Could keep the secret of its leaves and blows.
Time had been busy : Gorgon, grim old dog,
Followed her master's heel with feebler jog,
While Hector, the pet elk, had sprouted horn
Fit for the brows of vanished Unicorn.
And not the same was Cactus ; like his charge
And playmate, Hector, he had sprung to large
And dangerous size. To some old tameless race
He pointed, with his native leopard's grace
And withy sinew. And Ninette, the bird,
The one bird of the Nest — love had no word
To name her change. " Good sire," the lover said,
IV— 16

2 3 8


" The child, as any eye may see, has fled,
And I must woo a woman."

" Jacob, boy,
Winced not at plump seven year. The gods help Troy,
And great Achilles sulks. ' '

" Easy the gold
Was rifled from the sands. There was I bold
To lead ; could swing a thief up, hear his groan,
Unmoved ; for play could break a bully's bone,
And laugh, and bid him mend it. Now, I whine ;
Human am I, the other is divine."

" No maid unmans the man can so make stand
'Gainst them that lord it in a new-born land " :
vSo mused the tried old sire, and, musing so —
As once his Jove — he let the battle go.
The sire had notions. " Adolph and Ninette,
They be a parlous pair," he said. " Abet,
Oppose ? Not I. No, not a single word
To Alcibiades or to the bird."

No-tc he ti ted
The cures that grew the water-brook beside —

It was down by a spring that bubbled up

Among the hazels ; with a glossy cup

Of leaves, Ninette was dipping, sipping, like

The smooth noon-bird she was. "Strike, sunlight, strike

Her head ; and in your pretty beating say,

So does love punish, neither will it stay

More cruel stroke if straight you do not own

Your heart is Adolph' s, his, and his alone."

So spoke the youth in thought, then, prying through

The maze of hazels, trolled he verses two

Of an old ditty,—

" On a day it fell
Hefoimd a naiad by her native well."
She turned on him swift as the darting light
Sunned water glances, putting out his sight
With the flash of beauty, — ' Thus he did begin :



' Tzuas in one of those fringy windy places —

1 Prithee, sweet love,' and straight she pushed him in.'

If, sire, your happy Hellas had its art

Supreme, what had this little darling heart

Here in the wild ? While thick love's arrows sped

Against her, up she tossed her glossy head

In golden scorn : " Play, me a tune of war,

The iron string, the stave man's hands are for !

But Venus' viol ! "

Stung by lesser thing,
The lordly creature seeks the herb w r ill bring
Its life back : Adolph tasted, here and there,
All substances on which large love may fare,
Sore wounded. Now he nibbled at a book,
A good old tome that from its rusty nook
Looked out on him in pity ; now he tried
The cures that grew the water-brook beside,
Where strayed the bright-eyed scholar, breathless, pale,
His friend at last. All was of no avail ;
Forthwith the maid, the lesser, frailer thing,
Was sure to turn anew and softly sting.
But, ah, the lonely upland roundelay
She sang in the clear space where all the day
The wild doves come ! There with the gray wild dove,
It was another .song, her song of love : —



" 'Twixt the little oaks the sunbeams pry
And, warm and gold, in the open lie ;
Yea, pretty doves,
So many loves,
And to spare not one !
There be that have loves none.

" Around the doe plays the dappled fawn,
The rabbits dance at dusk and at dawn ;

Yea, pretty doves,

So many loves.
And to spare not one !
There be that have loves none. A

" The chatting squirrels silver-gray,
Tell merry love-tales all the day :

Yea, pretty doves,

So many loves,
Every heart with its own :
And yet you moan, you moan."

HE little lonely upland song of love,

Crooned in the clear space with the mourning dove,

This nature heard, and, down below, the pain

Of the strong man ; but came the two again

Together, not a sound she heard of all.

11 The man would stir my love must fight, ay, fall,

For me ; and though an angel came to say

' Sir Love does love thee,' I would turn away":

Thus mischievous Ninette. Her father gone,

Her uncle, too, and Cactus with him, on

A happy plan she hit, aided, may be,

By certain nettling words dropped craftily

By Hector's only master.

M Shall a man
Stand back for Hector ? What my Shadow can,
It seems a man cannot. Set Hector food,
Prove Love for once could make his great words good."
" 'Tis well," the other answered ; " east or west,
Who challenges the Knight of Eagle Nest ?
If Hector, joust with Hector let it be."

The knight passed in to face armed Hector. He
Set food ; Hector, responding with a thrust,
Caught him, sent him down headlong. Mailed in dust,
Sir Love, no sooner down than up, would try
It out, now, humbled in his ladv's eve.


2 4 I

'Twixt sport and earnest, evenly he strove

With rousing, pressing Hector till he drove

Three short, blunt prongs into his naked side.

Ninette, not seeing this, thinking he tried

To frighten her with show of danger, bade

Him yield the fight if, truly, use he had

For butcher's blade. But when she saw the tide

Slow reddening down the white of his bare side,

She flew to fetch the silver-hilted knife

Swung on the cabin wall. It was now life

Or death. Both little hands on, all her weight

To plunge the blade in, straight it went ; so straight,

Just back of Adolph's body as he held

Round Hector's neck, that prone the brute was felled.

The knight fell with him. Side by side they lay,

One dead, the other — ' twas too soon to say.

The days were many ere she let him speak,

The boy she held from death, but when, still weak,

The words would come, then fell the voice of all

Voices the sweetest : " ' He must fight, ay fall,

For me.' In sorry truth, it has been done."

She smiling, weeping, answered, " Too well won."

Never before the wooing birds gave ear

So close ; for never melody so dear

Was heard or made by mountain stream or bough.

The naiad's heart was making music, now,

And happy Adolph answering, — ''Death is gone,

Sweet ; I remain ; and here will I woo on

Till hale again ; then hence, a knight well tried,

For home, my lance and lady at my side."

RUE was the knightly heart, and true his word —
The word, too ? One there was that overheard,
One all forgot in their full joy, his heart
Rankling with hatred, he whose hellish art
Had so miscarried.

On this fateful day,
The two have wandered to the ledges gray,
Under the " flying bridge," — the hanging pine,
With roots that push into midair, to twine



There, gnarled and naked. Adolph thinks to wind
I lis way out. At the moment, dose- behind,
A Footfall ; and. as sprung up from the ground,
The fiend is on him. Worn, weak with a wound
Unhealed the gulf what chance now ? All his might

What were it all now ? and his very sight

is dim with wasting sickness, On the brink

He holds, strives blindly. Lost ! IK feels him sink,

Plunge over, No, he holds yet. What the shriek?

"Pis hers, Ninette's wild ery ! His head is weak.
But like a vise his eluteh. At least his Life
Will not he hied out : for the villain's knife
Is wrested tVom him : her own panting breath

Has told him that. Was never hug of death
Too strong for love. The lithe and silent snake.
His eoil is crushing : hut a gripe would break
A bullock's neck at last shall make it give :
No devil, so strangled, could mueh longer live.
Looser ! The black rings slacken, slacken : he
Unwinds the limp thing, lifts it, swings it free ;
Ay, well above his head Cactus is hung,
[S -waving forward— hack ward — forward — thing !
N.iv. 'tis tOO horrible. Let US hasten here.
As is the vintage children's wont, for fear
They in their dreams will see the reptile hurled,
Writhing, into the hungry under-world.

And, now, his lotted toil of love fulfilled,
Adolph stood hale and free, and, as he willed,
Bore to the far-off home his mountain bride



WILD, rude tale— and true ? At the fireside

{']> in the hills, when summertime is gone,

And heavily the autumn rains come on,

The vintagers oft tell it, word for word,

Drinking huge bumpers to the " mountain-bird,"

Wishing her joy, she and her blue-eyed knight ;

And full as heartily they cheer the flight

Of Cactus down the gulf and curse his bones,

Left to the vultures, hut among the stones

Under the pine, where all the summer day

The vintage children sport the time away,

Is oftener told the gentle afterpart

Of this grim redwoods story ; and the heart

Is in each little mouth, as, one by one,

They wonder how the miracle was done.

A miracle it was : when next the flowers

Came out, upon a day of golden hours

There sprung, among the rocks around the pine,

The strangest, loveliest blossom that may shine

At any time, in any place. The earth

Has not another like it ; for its birth

Was of the blood of her, the golden-haired,

Slight wounded by the weapon Cactus bared,

And she struck from him. Never tongue shall tell

How fair the flower the children love so well,

The rare rock-flower — one for each drop that fell —

They pluck, and call the Golden Lily-Bell.




ROM the Atlan-
tic to the Pacific
there is no sys-
tem of mountains
which effects more ma-
terially the topography and
climate of the region in its
vicinity than the Sierra
Nevada Range. The moun-
tains on the Atlantic reach
limited altitudes, ranging from
to 3,000 feet, and extend to
within several hundred miles of
the coast, but those on the Pacific
tower from 8,000 to 14,000 feet,
sending great spurs down almost
to the water's edge — the two ranges
sometimes coalescing and merging
into one unbroken line; then again
separating to enclose between their
high walls, rich valleys, or the Coast
Range disappearing, leaving the open
valleys to extend to the sea. What
more obvious reason for this vast dif-
ference in climate, than the mountain
development of these sections of coun-
try? The high trade winds, other-
wise parching the land and absorbing
all moisture from the atmosphere as
they blow in from the arid plateaus,
are cooled in passing over the snowy
elevation of the Sierras, giving our
delicious night breezes, without which
the summers in some regions would
be as warm and dry as those of the

The fertility of the two great valleys
of California, the Sacramento and the
San Joaquin, depends almost entirely
upon the Sierras. The warm, vapor-
laden winds blowing from the ocean
are cooled upon coming in contact
with the air of the snow-capped moun-
tains ; the vapor is condensed and falls
as rain or snow. When the warm
weather begins, the snow, which
sometimes falls in the mountains to a

depth of forty or fifty feet, gradually
melts, feeding the numerous streams
that flow down to irrigate the valleys.
Although the Coast Range mountains
produce their effect upon the country,
it is the Sierra Nevadas that influence
most largely the rainfall of the entire
State. Thus the Sierras are not only
responsible for our unrivaled climate,
but they are the fountain head of all
our moisture — the source of Cali-
fornia's fertility.

The range is of granite formation,
capped with basaltic and other kinds
of lava, with heavy beds of ashes and
breccia ; these features being observ-
able on the route between Truckee
and Sacramento. The rounded gran-
ites give evidence of glacial action,
while in various sections enormous
glaciers still exist. The mountains
extend for 500 miles, with an average
width of seventy miles, passing
through c; 1 .- of latitude.

Although not the highest mountain
in California, Shasta is by far the
most magnificent. Solitary, robed in
snow, it towers 7,000 feet above its
neighbors, reaching a height of 14,440
feet. Though regarded by some as a
great spur of the Coast Range, Mt.
Shasta stands independent of either
system — the keystone of the California
arch of mountains. From the railroad
town of Sisson, Shasta's magnitude
may best be studied. In this locality
there is nothing to intercept a clear
view of the mountain, and the oppor-
tunity afforded for comparison with
Muir's and other peaks, aids in one's
conception of Shasta's stupendous

Following the range down from
Shasta, we find few points of particu-
lar interest until we come to Lake
Tahoe ; and of all the California lakes,
none can compare with Tahoe in size





or beauty. Its elevation, the distinct-
ive coloring- of its shimmering surface,
the picturesqueness of its banks and
surroundings, its clearness and purity,
are supreme. Clustered about this
beautiful sheet of water lies a com-
munity of lesser lakes, each of which
has its own attractive features.

Taking the steamer at Tahpe City,
a complete circuit of the lake may be
made in one day, with ample time to
explore the various places of interest.
Tallac is the starting point for one of
the pleasantest excursions in the vicin-
ity ; namely, to Mt. Tallac, which is
seventeen miles southwest of the hotel.
The trail conducts us through a wild,

Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 31 of 120)