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´╗┐Title: Legends and Tales
Author: Harte, Bret, 1836-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Legends and Tales" ***

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By Bret Harte











The cautious reader will detect a lack of authenticity in the following
pages. I am not a cautious reader myself, yet I confess with some
concern to the absence of much documentary evidence in support of
the singular incident I am about to relate. Disjointed memoranda, the
proceedings of ayuntamientos and early departmental juntas, with other
records of a primitive and superstitious people, have been my inadequate
authorities. It is but just to state, however, that though this
particular story lacks corroboration, in ransacking the Spanish archives
of Upper California I have met with many more surprising and incredible
stories, attested and supported to a degree that would have placed this
legend beyond a cavil or doubt. I have, also, never lost faith in the
legend myself, and in so doing have profited much from the examples
of divers grant-claimants, who have often jostled me in their more
practical researches, and who have my sincere sympathy at the scepticism
of a modern hard-headed and practical world.

For many years after Father Junipero Serro first rang his bell in
the wilderness of Upper California, the spirit which animated that
adventurous priest did not wane. The conversion of the heathen went
on rapidly in the establishment of Missions throughout the land. So
sedulously did the good Fathers set about their work, that around their
isolated chapels there presently arose adobe huts, whose mud-plastered
and savage tenants partook regularly of the provisions, and occasionally
of the Sacrament, of their pious hosts. Nay, so great was their
progress, that one zealous Padre is reported to have administered
the Lord's Supper one Sabbath morning to "over three hundred heathen
Salvages." It was not to be wondered that the Enemy of Souls, being
greatly incensed thereat, and alarmed at his decreasing popularity,
should have grievously tempted and embarrassed these Holy Fathers, as we
shall presently see.

Yet they were happy, peaceful days for California. The vagrant keels of
prying Commerce had not as yet ruffled the lordly gravity of her bays.
No torn and ragged gulch betrayed the suspicion of golden treasure.
The wild oats drooped idly in the morning heat, or wrestled with the
afternoon breezes. Deer and antelope dotted the plain. The watercourses
brawled in their familiar channels, nor dreamed of ever shifting their
regular tide. The wonders of the Yosemite and Calaveras were as yet
unrecorded. The Holy Fathers noted little of the landscape beyond the
barbaric prodigality with which the quick soil repaid the sowing. A new
conversion, the advent of a Saint's day, or the baptism of an Indian
baby, was at once the chronicle and marvel of their day.

At this blissful epoch there lived at the Mission of San Pablo Father
Jose Antonio Haro, a worthy brother of the Society of Jesus. He was
of tall and cadaverous aspect. A somewhat romantic history had given a
poetic interest to his lugubrious visage. While a youth, pursuing his
studies at famous Salamanca, he had become enamored of the charms
of Dona Carmen de Torrencevara, as that lady passed to her matutinal
devotions. Untoward circumstances, hastened, perhaps, by a wealthier
suitor, brought this amour to a disastrous issue; and Father Jose
entered a monastery, taking upon himself the vows of celibacy. It was
here that his natural fervor and poetic enthusiasm conceived expression
as a missionary. A longing to convert the uncivilized heathen succeeded
his frivolous earthly passion, and a desire to explore and develop
unknown fastnesses continually possessed him. In his flashing eye and
sombre exterior was detected a singular commingling of the discreet Las
Casas and the impetuous Balboa.

Fired by this pious zeal, Father Jose went forward in the van of
Christian pioneers. On reaching Mexico, he obtained authority to
establish the Mission of San Pablo. Like the good Junipero, accompanied
only by an acolyte and muleteer, he unsaddled his mules in a dusky
canyon, and rang his bell in the wilderness. The savages--a peaceful,
inoffensive, and inferior race--presently flocked around him. The
nearest military post was far away, which contributed much to the
security of these pious pilgrims, who found their open trustfulness and
amiability better fitted to repress hostility than the presence of an
armed, suspicious, and brawling soldiery. So the good Father Jose said
matins and prime, mass and vespers, in the heart of Sin and Heathenism,
taking no heed to himself, but looking only to the welfare of the Holy
Church. Conversions soon followed, and, on the 7th of July, 1760, the
first Indian baby was baptized,--an event which, as Father Jose piously
records, "exceeds the richnesse of gold or precious jewels or the
chancing upon the Ophir of Solomon." I quote this incident as best
suited to show the ingenious blending of poetry and piety which
distinguished Father Jose's record.

The Mission of San Pablo progressed and prospered until the pious
founder thereof, like the infidel Alexander, might have wept that there
were no more heathen worlds to conquer. But his ardent and enthusiastic
spirit could not long brook an idleness that seemed begotten of sin;
and one pleasant August morning, in the year of grace 1770, Father Jose
issued from the outer court of the Mission building, equipped to explore
the field for new missionary labors.

Nothing could exceed the quiet gravity and unpretentiousness of the
little cavalcade. First rode a stout muleteer, leading a pack-mule laden
with the provisions of the party, together with a few cheap crucifixes
and hawks' bells. After him came the devout Padre Jose, bearing his
breviary and cross, with a black serapa thrown around his shoulders;
while on either side trotted a dusky convert, anxious to show a proper
sense of their regeneration by acting as guides into the wilds of their
heathen brethren. Their new condition was agreeably shown by the absence
of the usual mud-plaster, which in their unconverted state they assumed
to keep away vermin and cold. The morning was bright and propitious.
Before their departure, mass had been said in the chapel, and the
protection of St. Ignatius invoked against all contingent evils, but
especially against bears, which, like the fiery dragons of old, seemed
to cherish unconquerable hostility to the Holy Church.

As they wound through the canyon, charming birds disported upon
boughs and sprays, and sober quails piped from the alders; the willowy
water-courses gave a musical utterance, and the long grass whispered on
the hillside. On entering the deeper defiles, above them towered dark
green masses of pine, and occasionally the madrono shook its bright
scarlet berries. As they toiled up many a steep ascent, Father Jose
sometimes picked up fragments of scoria, which spake to his imagination
of direful volcanoes and impending earthquakes. To the less scientific
mind of the muleteer Ignacio they had even a more terrifying
significance; and he once or twice snuffed the air suspiciously, and
declared that it smelt of sulphur. So the first day of their journey
wore away, and at night they encamped without having met a single
heathen face.

It was on this night that the Enemy of Souls appeared to Ignacio in an
appalling form. He had retired to a secluded part of the camp and had
sunk upon his knees in prayerful meditation, when he looked up and
perceived the Arch-Fiend in the likeness of a monstrous bear. The Evil
One was seated on his hind legs immediately before him, with his fore
paws joined together just below his black muzzle. Wisely conceiving this
remarkable attitude to be in mockery and derision of his devotions,
the worthy muleteer was transported with fury. Seizing an arquebuse,
he instantly closed his eyes and fired. When he had recovered from
the effects of the terrific discharge, the apparition had disappeared.
Father Jose, awakened by the report, reached the spot only in time to
chide the muleteer for wasting powder and ball in a contest with one
whom a single ave would have been sufficient to utterly discomfit. What
further reliance he placed on Ignacio's story is not known; but, in
commemoration of a worthy Californian custom, the place was called La
Canada de la Tentacion del Pio Muletero, or "The Glen of the Temptation
of the Pious Muleteer," a name which it retains to this day.

The next morning the party, issuing from a narrow gorge, came upon a
long valley, sear and burnt with the shadeless heat. Its lower extremity
was lost in a fading line of low hills, which, gathering might and
volume toward the upper end of the valley, upheaved a stupendous bulwark
against the breezy North. The peak of this awful spur was just touched
by a fleecy cloud that shifted to and fro like a banneret. Father Jose
gazed at it with mingled awe and admiration. By a singular coincidence,
the muleteer Ignacio uttered the simple ejaculation "Diablo!"

As they penetrated the valley, they soon began to miss the agreeable
life and companionable echoes of the canyon they had quitted. Huge
fissures in the parched soil seemed to gape as with thirsty mouths. A
few squirrels darted from the earth, and disappeared as mysteriously
before the jingling mules. A gray wolf trotted leisurely along just
ahead. But whichever way Father Jose turned, the mountain always
asserted itself and arrested his wandering eye. Out of the dry and arid
valley, it seemed to spring into cooler and bracing life. Deep cavernous
shadows dwelt along its base; rocky fastnesses appeared midway of its
elevation; and on either side huge black hills diverged like massy roots
from a central trunk. His lively fancy pictured these hills peopled with
a majestic and intelligent race of savages; and looking into futurity,
he already saw a monstrous cross crowning the dome-like summit. Far
different were the sensations of the muleteer, who saw in those awful
solitudes only fiery dragons, colossal bears and break-neck trails.
The converts, Concepcion and Incarnacion, trotting modestly beside the
Padre, recognized, perhaps, some manifestation of their former weird

At nightfall they reached the base of the mountain. Here Father Jose
unpacked his mules, said vespers, and, formally ringing his bell, called
upon the Gentiles within hearing to come and accept the Holy Faith.
The echoes of the black frowning hills around him caught up the pious
invitation, and repeated it at intervals; but no Gentiles appeared that
night. Nor were the devotions of the muleteer again disturbed, although
he afterward asserted, that, when the Father's exhortation was ended,
a mocking peal of laughter came from the mountain. Nothing daunted by
these intimations of the near hostility of the Evil One, Father Jose
declared his intention to ascend the mountain at early dawn; and before
the sun rose the next morning he was leading the way.

The ascent was in many places difficult and dangerous. Huge fragments
of rock often lay across the trail, and after a few hours' climbing they
were forced to leave their mules in a little gully, and continue the
ascent afoot. Unaccustomed to such exertion, Father Jose often stopped
to wipe the perspiration from his thin cheeks. As the day wore on, a
strange silence oppressed them. Except the occasional pattering of a
squirrel, or a rustling in the chimisal bushes, there were no signs of
life. The half-human print of a bear's foot sometimes appeared before
them, at which Ignacio always crossed himself piously. The eye was
sometimes cheated by a dripping from the rocks, which on closer
inspection proved to be a resinous oily liquid with an abominable
sulphurous smell. When they were within a short distance of the summit,
the discreet Ignacio, selecting a sheltered nook for the camp, slipped
aside and busied himself in preparations for the evening, leaving
the Holy Father to continue the ascent alone. Never was there a more
thoughtless act of prudence, never a more imprudent piece of caution.
Without noticing the desertion, buried in pious reflection, Father Jose
pushed mechanically on, and, reaching the summit, cast himself down and
gazed upon the prospect.

Below him lay a succession of valleys opening into each other like
gentle lakes, until they were lost to the southward. Westerly the
distant range hid the bosky canada which sheltered the mission of San
Pablo. In the farther distance the Pacific Ocean stretched away, bearing
a cloud of fog upon its bosom, which crept through the entrance of the
bay, and rolled thickly between him and the northeastward; the same fog
hid the base of mountain and the view beyond. Still, from time to time
the fleecy veil parted, and timidly disclosed charming glimpses of
mighty rivers, mountain defiles, and rolling plains, sear with ripened
oats, and bathed in the glow of the setting sun. As Father Jose gazed,
he was penetrated with a pious longing. Already his imagination, filled
with enthusiastic conceptions, beheld all that vast expanse gathered
under the mild sway of the Holy Faith, and peopled with zealous
converts. Each little knoll in fancy became crowned with a chapel; from
each dark canyon gleamed the white walls of a mission building. Growing
bolder in his enthusiasm, and looking farther into futurity, he beheld
a new Spain rising on these savage shores. He already saw the spires
of stately cathedrals, the domes of palaces, vineyards, gardens, and
groves. Convents, half hid among the hills, peeping from plantations of
branching limes; and long processions of chanting nuns wound through the
defiles. So completely was the good Father's conception of the
future confounded with the past, that even in their choral strain the
well-remembered accents of Carmen struck his ear. He was busied in
these fanciful imaginings, when suddenly over that extended prospect
the faint, distant tolling of a bell rang sadly out and died. It was the
Angelus. Father Jose listened with superstitious exaltation. The mission
of San Pablo was far away, and the sound must have been some miraculous
omen. But never before, to his enthusiastic sense, did the sweet
seriousness of this angelic symbol come with such strange significance.
With the last faint peal, his glowing fancy seemed to cool; the fog
closed in below him, and the good Father remembered he had not had his
supper. He had risen and was wrapping his serapa around him, when he
perceived for the first time that he was not alone.

Nearly opposite, and where should have been the faithless Ignacio, a
grave and decorous figure was seated. His appearance was that of an
elderly hidalgo, dressed in mourning, with mustaches of iron-gray
carefully waxed and twisted around a pair of lantern-jaws. The
monstrous hat and prodigious feather, the enormous ruff and exaggerated
trunk-hose, contrasted with a frame shrivelled and wizened, all
belonged to a century previous. Yet Father Jose was not astonished. His
adventurous life and poetic imagination, continually on the lookout
for the marvellous, gave him a certain advantage over the practical and
material minded. He instantly detected the diabolical quality of his
visitant, and was prepared. With equal coolness and courtesy he met the
cavalier's obeisance.

"I ask your pardon, Sir Priest," said the stranger, "for disturbing
your meditations. Pleasant they must have been, and right fanciful, I
imagine, when occasioned by so fair a prospect."

"Worldly, perhaps, Sir Devil,--for such I take you to be," said the Holy
Father, as the stranger bowed his black plumes to the ground; "worldly,
perhaps; for it hath pleased Heaven to retain even in our regenerated
state much that pertaineth to the flesh, yet still, I trust, not without
some speculation for the welfare of the Holy Church. In dwelling upon
yon fair expanse, mine eyes have been graciously opened with prophetic
inspiration, and the promise of the heathen as an inheritance hath
marvellously recurred to me. For there can be none lack such diligence
in the True Faith, but may see that even the conversion of these
pitiful salvages hath a meaning. As the blessed St. Ignatius discreetly
observes," continued Father Jose, clearing his throat and slightly
elevating his voice, "'the heathen is given to the warriors of Christ,
even as the pearls of rare discovery which gladden the hearts of
shipmen.' Nay, I might say--"

But here the stranger, who had been wrinkling his brows and twisting
his mustaches with well-bred patience, took advantage of an oratorical

"It grieves me, Sir Priest, to interrupt the current of your eloquence
as discourteously as I have already broken your meditations; but the day
already waneth to night. I have a matter of serious import to make with
you, could I entreat your cautious consideration a few moments."

Father Jose hesitated. The temptation was great, and the prospect
of acquiring some knowledge of the Great Enemy's plans not the least
trifling object. And if the truth must be told, there was a certain
decorum about the stranger that interested the Padre. Though well aware
of the Protean shapes the Arch-Fiend could assume, and though free from
the weaknesses of the flesh, Father Jose was not above the temptations
of the spirit. Had the Devil appeared, as in the case of the pious St.
Anthony, in the likeness of a comely damsel, the good Father, with his
certain experience of the deceitful sex, would have whisked her away
in the saying of a paternoster. But there was, added to the security of
age, a grave sadness about the stranger,--a thoughtful consciousness as
of being at a great moral disadvantage,--which at once decided him on a
magnanimous course of conduct.

The stranger then proceeded to inform him, that he had been diligently
observing the Holy Father's triumphs in the valley. That, far from
being greatly exercised thereat, he had been only grieved to see so
enthusiastic and chivalrous an antagonist wasting his zeal in a hopeless
work. For, he observed, the issue of the great battle of Good and Evil
had been otherwise settled, as he would presently show him. "It wants
but a few moments of night," he continued, "and over this interval of
twilight, as you know, I have been given complete control. Look to the

As the Padre turned, the stranger took his enormous hat from his head,
and waved it three times before him. At each sweep of the prodigious
feather, the fog grew thinner, until it melted impalpably away, and the
former landscape returned, yet warm with the glowing sun. As Father Jose
gazed, a strain of martial music arose from the valley, and issuing
from a deep canyon, the good Father beheld a long cavalcade of gallant
cavaliers, habited like his companion. As they swept down the plain,
they were joined by like processions, that slowly defiled from every
ravine and canyon of the mysterious mountain. From time to time the peal
of a trumpet swelled fitfully upon the breeze; the cross of Santiago
glittered, and the royal banners of Castile and Aragon waved over the
moving column. So they moved on solemnly toward the sea, where, in the
distance, Father Jose saw stately caravels, bearing the same familiar
banner, awaiting them. The good Padre gazed with conflicting emotions,
and the serious voice of the stranger broke the silence.

"Thou hast beheld, Sir Priest, the fading footprints of adventurous
Castile. Thou hast seen the declining glory of old Spain,--declining as
yonder brilliant sun. The sceptre she hath wrested from the heathen is
fast dropping from her decrepit and fleshless grasp. The children she
hath fostered shall know her no longer. The soil she hath acquired shall
be lost to her as irrevocably as she herself hath thrust the Moor from
her own Granada."

The stranger paused, and his voice seemed broken by emotion; at the same
time, Father Jose, whose sympathizing heart yearned toward the departing
banners, cried in poignant accents,--

"Farewell, ye gallant cavaliers and Christian soldiers! Farewell, thou,
Nunes de Balboa! thou, Alonzo de Ojeda! and thou, most venerable Las
Casas! Farewell, and may Heaven prosper still the seed ye left behind!"

Then turning to the stranger, Father Jose beheld him gravely draw his
pocket-handkerchief from the basket-hilt of his rapier, and apply it
decorously to his eyes.

"Pardon this weakness, Sir Priest," said the cavalier, apologetically;
"but these worthy gentlemen were ancient friends of mine, and have
done me many a delicate service,--much more, perchance, than these poor
sables may signify," he added, with a grim gesture toward the mourning
suit he wore.

Father Jose was too much preoccupied in reflection to notice the
equivocal nature of this tribute, and, after a few moments' silence,
said, as if continuing his thought,--

"But the seed they have planted shall thrive and prosper on this
fruitful soil."

As if answering the interrogatory, the stranger turned to the opposite
direction, and, again waving his hat, said, in the same serious tone,--

"Look to the East!"

The Father turned, and, as the fog broke away before the waving plume,
he saw that the sun was rising. Issuing with its bright beams through
the passes of the snowy mountains beyond, appeared a strange and motley
crew. Instead of the dark and romantic visages of his last phantom
train, the Father beheld with strange concern the blue eyes and flaxen
hair of a Saxon race. In place of martial airs and musical utterance,
there rose upon the ear a strange din of harsh gutturals and singular
sibilation. Instead of the decorous tread and stately mien of the
cavaliers of the former vision, they came pushing, bustling, panting,
and swaggering. And as they passed, the good Father noticed that giant
trees were prostrated as with the breath of a tornado, and the bowels
of the earth were torn and rent as with a convulsion. And Father Jose
looked in vain for holy cross or Christian symbol; there was but one
that seemed an ensign, and he crossed himself with holy horror as he
perceived it bore the effigy of a bear.

"Who are these swaggering Ishmaelites?" he asked, with something of
asperity in his tone.

The stranger was gravely silent.

"What do they here, with neither cross nor holy symbol?" he again

"Have you the courage to see, Sir Priest?" responded the stranger,

Father Jose felt his crucifix, as a lonely traveller might his rapier,
and assented.

"Step under the shadow of my plume," said the stranger.

Father Jose stepped beside him, and they instantly sank through the

When he opened his eyes, which had remained closed in prayerful
meditation during his rapid descent, he found himself in a vast vault,
bespangled overhead with luminous points like the starred firmament. It
was also lighted by a yellow glow that seemed to proceed from a mighty
sea or lake that occupied the centre of the chamber. Around this
subterranean sea dusky figures flitted, bearing ladles filled with the
yellow fluid, which they had replenished from its depths. From this lake
diverging streams of the same mysterious flood penetrated like mighty
rivers the cavernous distance. As they walked by the banks of this
glittering Styx, Father Jose perceived how the liquid stream at certain
places became solid. The ground was strewn with glittering flakes. One
of these the Padre picked up and curiously examined. It was virgin gold.

An expression of discomfiture overcast the good Father's face at this
discovery; but there was trace neither of malice nor satisfaction in the
stranger's air, which was still of serious and fateful contemplation.
When Father Jose recovered his equanimity, he said, bitterly,--

"This, then, Sir Devil, is your work! This is your deceitful lure for
the weak souls of sinful nations! So would you replace the Christian
grace of holy Spain!"

"This is what must be," returned the stranger, gloomily. "But listen,
Sir Priest. It lies with you to avert the issue for a time. Leave me
here in peace. Go back to Castile, and take with you your bells, your
images, and your missions. Continue here, and you only precipitate
results. Stay! promise me you will do this, and you shall not lack that
which will render your old age an ornament and a blessing;" and the
stranger motioned significantly to the lake.

It was here, the legend discreetly relates, that the Devil showed--as he
always shows sooner or later--his cloven hoof. The worthy Padre, sorely
perplexed by his threefold vision, and, if the truth must be told,
a little nettled at this wresting away of the glory of holy Spanish
discovery, had shown some hesitation. But the unlucky bribe of the Enemy
of Souls touched his Castilian spirit. Starting back in deep disgust,
he brandished his crucifix in the face of the unmasked Fiend, and in a
voice that made the dusky vault resound, cried,--

"Avaunt thee, Sathanas! Diabolus, I defy thee! What! wouldst thou bribe
me,--me, a brother of the Sacred Society of the Holy Jesus, Licentiate
of Cordova and Inquisitor of Guadalaxara? Thinkest thou to buy me with
thy sordid treasure? Avaunt!"

What might have been the issue of this rupture, and how complete might
have been the triumph of the Holy Father over the Arch-Fiend, who was
recoiling aghast at these sacred titles and the flourishing symbol,
we can never know, for at that moment the crucifix slipped through his

Scarcely had it touched the ground before Devil and Holy Father
simultaneously cast themselves toward it. In the struggle they clinched,
and the pious Jose, who was as much the superior of his antagonist in
bodily as in spiritual strength, was about to treat the Great Adversary
to a back somersault, when he suddenly felt the long nails of the
stranger piercing his flesh. A new fear seized his heart, a numbing
chillness crept through his body, and he struggled to free himself, but
in vain. A strange roaring was in his ears; the lake and cavern danced
before his eyes and vanished; and with a loud cry he sank senseless to
the ground.

When he recovered his consciousness he was aware of a gentle swaying
motion of his body. He opened his eyes, and saw it was high noon, and
that he was being carried in a litter through the valley. He felt stiff,
and, looking down, perceived that his arm was tightly bandaged to his

He closed his eyes and after a few words of thankful prayer, thought how
miraculously he had been preserved, and made a vow of candlesticks to
the blessed Saint Jose. He then called in a faint voice, and presently
the penitent Ignacio stood beside him.

The joy the poor fellow felt at his patron's returning consciousness
for some time choked his utterance. He could only ejaculate, "A miracle!
Blessed Saint Jose, he lives!" and kiss the Padre's bandaged hand.
Father Jose, more intent on his last night's experience, waited for his
emotion to subside, and asked where he had been found.

"On the mountain, your Reverence, but a few varas from where he attacked

"How?--you saw him then?" asked the Padre, in unfeigned astonishment.

"Saw him, your Reverence! Mother of God, I should think I did! And your
Reverence shall see him too, if he ever comes again within range of
Ignacio's arquebuse."

"What mean you, Ignacio?" said the Padre, sitting bolt-upright in his

"Why, the bear, your Reverence,--the bear, Holy Father, who attacked
your worshipful person while you were meditating on the top of yonder

"Ah!" said the Holy Father, lying down again. "Chut, child! I would be
at peace."

When he reached the Mission, he was tenderly cared for, and in a few
weeks was enabled to resume those duties from which, as will be seen,
not even the machinations of the Evil One could divert him. The news
of his physical disaster spread over the country; and a letter to the
Bishop of Guadalaxara contained a confidential and detailed account of
the good Father's spiritual temptation. But in some way the story leaked
out; and long after Jose was gathered to his fathers, his mysterious
encounter formed the theme of thrilling and whispered narrative. The
mountain was generally shunned. It is true that Senor Joaquin Pedrillo
afterward located a grant near the base of the mountain; but as Senora
Pedrillo was known to be a termagant half-breed, the Senor was not
supposed to be over-fastidious.

Such is the Legend of Monte del Diablo. As I said before, it may seem
to lack essential corroboration. The discrepancy between the Father's
narrative and the actual climax has given rise to some scepticism on the
part of ingenious quibblers. All such I would simply refer to that part
of the report of Senor Julio Serro, Sub-Prefect of San Pablo, before
whom attest of the above was made. Touching this matter, the worthy
Prefect observes, "That although the body of Father Jose doth show
evidence of grievous conflict in the flesh, yet that is no proof that
the Enemy of Souls, who could assume the figure of a decorous elderly
caballero, could not at the same time transform himself into a bear for
his own vile purposes."



One pleasant New Year's Eve, about forty years ago, Padre Vicentio was
slowly picking his way across the sand-hills from the Mission Dolores.
As he climbed the crest of the ridge beside Mission Creek, his broad,
shining face might have been easily mistaken for the beneficent image of
the rising moon, so bland was its smile and so indefinite its features.
For the Padre was a man of notable reputation and character; his
ministration at the mission of San Jose had been marked with cordiality
and unction; he was adored by the simple-minded savages, and had
succeeded in impressing his individuality so strongly upon them that the
very children were said to have miraculously resembled him in feature.

As the holy man reached the loneliest portion of the road, he naturally
put spurs to his mule as if to quicken that decorous pace which the
obedient animal had acquired through long experience of its master's
habits. The locality had an unfavorable reputation. Sailors--deserters
from whaleships--had been seen lurking about the outskirts of the town,
and low scrub oaks which everywhere beset the trail might have easily
concealed some desperate runaway. Besides these material obstructions,
the devil, whose hostility to the church was well known, was said to
sometimes haunt the vicinity in the likeness of a spectral whaler, who
had met his death in a drunken bout, from a harpoon in the hands of a
companion. The ghost of this unfortunate mariner was frequently observed
sitting on the hill toward the dusk of evening, armed with his favorite
weapon and a tub containing a coil of line, looking out for some belated
traveller on whom to exercise his professional skill. It is related
that the good Father Jose Maria of the Mission Dolores had been twice
attacked by this phantom sportsman; that once, on returning from San
Francisco, and panting with exertion from climbing the hill, he was
startled by a stentorian cry of "There she blows!" quickly followed by
a hurtling harpoon, which buried itself in the sand beside him; that on
another occasion he narrowly escaped destruction, his serapa having
been transfixed by the diabolical harpoon and dragged away in triumph.
Popular opinion seems to have been divided as to the reason for the
devil's particular attention to Father Jose, some asserting that the
extreme piety of the Padre excited the Evil One's animosity, and others
that his adipose tendency simply rendered him, from a professional
view-point, a profitable capture.

Had Father Vicentio been inclined to scoff at this apparition as a
heretical innovation, there was still the story of Concepcion, the
Demon Vaquero, whose terrible riata was fully as potent as the whaler's
harpoon. Concepcion, when in the flesh, had been a celebrated herder of
cattle and wild horses, and was reported to have chased the devil in
the shape of a fleet pinto colt all the way from San Luis Obispo to San
Francisco, vowing not to give up the chase until he had overtaken the
disguised Arch-Enemy. This the devil prevented by resuming his own
shape, but kept the unfortunate vaquero to the fulfilment of his
rash vow; and Concepcion still scoured the coast on a phantom steed,
beguiling the monotony of his eternal pursuit by lassoing travellers,
dragging them at the heels of his unbroken mustang until they were
eventually picked up, half-strangled, by the roadside. The Padre
listened attentively for the tramp of this terrible rider. But no
footfall broke the stillness of the night; even the hoofs of his own
mule sank noiselessly in the shifting sand. Now and then a rabbit
bounded lightly by him, or a quail ran into the bushes. The melancholy
call of plover from the adjoining marshes of Mission Creek came to him
so faintly and fitfully that it seemed almost a recollection of the past
rather than a reality of the present.

To add to his discomposure one of those heavy sea-fogs peculiar to the
locality began to drift across the hills and presently encompassed
him. While endeavoring to evade its cold embraces, Padre Vicentio
incautiously drove his heavy spurs into the flanks of his mule as that
puzzled animal was hesitating on the brink of a steep declivity. Whether
the poor beast was indignant at this novel outrage, or had been for some
time reflecting on the evils of being priest-ridden, has not transpired;
enough that he suddenly threw up his heels, pitching the reverend man
over his head, and, having accomplished this feat, coolly dropped on his
knees and tumbled after his rider.

Over and over went the Padre, closely followed by his faithless mule.
Luckily the little hollow which received the pair was of sand that
yielded to the superincumbent weight, half burying them without further
injury. For some moments the poor man lay motionless, vainly endeavoring
to collect his scattered senses. A hand irreverently laid upon his
collar, and a rough shake, assisted to recall his consciousness. As the
Padre staggered to his feet he found himself confronted by a stranger.

Seen dimly through the fog, and under circumstances that to say the
least were not prepossessing, the new-comer had an inexpressibly
mysterious and brigand-like aspect. A long boat-cloak concealed his
figure, and a slouched hat hid his features, permitting only his eyes
to glisten in the depths. With a deep groan the Padre slipped from the
stranger's grasp and subsided into the soft sand again.

"Gad's life!" said the stranger, pettishly, "hast no more bones in thy
fat carcass than a jellyfish? Lend a hand, here! Yo, heave ho!" and he
dragged the Padre into an upright position. "Now, then, who and what art

The Padre could not help thinking that the question might have more
properly been asked by himself; but with an odd mixture of dignity and
trepidation he began enumerating his different titles, which were by no
means brief, and would have been alone sufficient to strike awe in the
bosom of an ordinary adversary. The stranger irreverently broke in upon
his formal phrases, and assuring him that a priest was the very person
he was looking for, coolly replaced the old man's hat, which had tumbled
off, and bade him accompany him at once on an errand of spiritual
counsel to one who was even then lying in extremity. "To think," said
the stranger, "that I should stumble upon the very man I was seeking!
Body of Bacchus! but this is lucky! Follow me quickly, for there is no
time to lose."

Like most easy natures the positive assertion of the stranger, and
withal a certain authoritative air of command, overcame what slight
objections the Padre might have feebly nurtured during this remarkable
interview. The spiritual invitation was one, also, that he dared
not refuse; not only that; but it tended somewhat to remove the
superstitious dread with which he had begun to regard the mysterious
stranger. But, following at a respectful distance, the Padre could not
help observing with a thrill of horror that the stranger's footsteps
made no impression on the sand, and his figure seemed at times to blend
and incorporate itself with the fog, until the holy man was obliged to
wait for its reappearance. In one of these intervals of embarrassment he
heard the ringing of the far-off Mission bell, proclaiming the hour of
midnight. Scarcely had the last stroke died away before the announcement
was taken up and repeated by a multitude of bells of all sizes, and
the air was filled with the sound of striking clocks and the pealing of
steeple chimes. The old man uttered a cry of alarm. The stranger sharply
demanded the cause. "The bells! did you not hear them?" gasped Padre
Vicentio. "Tush! tush!" answered the stranger, "thy fall hath set triple
bob-majors ringing in thine ears. Come on!"

The Padre was only too glad to accept the explanation conveyed in
this discourteous answer. But he was destined for another singular
experience. When they had reached the summit of the eminence now known
as Russian Hill, an exclamation again burst from the Padre. The stranger
turned to his companion with an impatient gesture; but the Padre heeded
him not. The view that burst upon his sight was such as might well have
engrossed the attention of a more enthusiastic temperament. The fog
had not yet reached the hill, and the long valleys and hillsides of the
embarcadero below were glittering with the light of a populous
city. "Look!" said the Padre, stretching his hand over the spreading
landscape. "Look, dost thou not see the stately squares and brilliantly
lighted avenues of a mighty metropolis. Dost thou not see, as it were,
another firmament below?"

"Avast heaving, reverend man, and quit this folly," said the strange;
dragging the bewildered Padre after him. "Behold rather the stars
knocked out of thy hollow noddle by the fall thou hast had. Prithee, get
over thy visions and rhapsodies, for the time is wearing apace."

The Padre humbly followed without another word. Descending the hill
toward the north, the stranger leading the way, in a few moments the
Padre detected the wash of waves, and presently his feet struck the
firmer sand of the beach. Here the stranger paused, and the Padre
perceived a boat lying in readiness hard by. As he stepped into the
stern sheets, in obedience to the command of his companion, he noticed
that the rowers seemed to partake of the misty incorporeal texture of
his companion, a similarity that became the more distressing when he
perceived also that their oars in pulling together made no noise. The
stranger, assuming the helm, guided the boat on quietly, while the fog,
settling over the face of the water and closing around them, seemed to
interpose a muffled wall between themselves and the rude jarring of
the outer world. As they pushed further into this penetralia, the Padre
listened anxiously for the sound of creaking blocks and the rattling of
cordage, but no vibration broke the veiled stillness or disturbed the
warm breath of the fleecy fog. Only one incident occurred to break the
monotony of their mysterious journey. A one-eyed rower, who sat in front
of the Padre, catching the devout father's eye, immediately grinned
such a ghastly smile, and winked his remaining eye with such diabolical
intensity of meaning that the Padre was constrained to utter a pious
ejaculation, which had the disastrous effect of causing the marine
Cocles to "catch a crab," throwing his heels in the air and his head
into the bottom of the boat. But even this accident did not disturb the
gravity of the rest of the ghastly boat's crew.

When, as it seemed to the Padre, ten minutes had elapsed, the outline of
a large ship loomed up directly across their bow. Before he could utter
the cry of warning that rose to his lips, or brace himself against the
expected shock, the boat passed gently and noiselessly through the sides
of the vessel, and the holy man found himself standing on the berth deck
of what seemed to be an ancient caravel. The boat and boat's crew had
vanished. Only his mysterious friend, the stranger, remained. By the
light of a swinging lamp the Padre beheld him standing beside a
hammock, whereon, apparently, lay the dying man to whom he had been so
mysteriously summoned. As the Padre, in obedience to a sign from his
companion, stepped to the side of the sufferer, he feebly opened his
eyes and thus addressed him:--

"Thou seest before thee, reverend father, a helpless mortal, struggling
not only with the last agonies of the flesh, but beaten down and tossed
with sore anguish of the spirit. It matters little when or how I became
what thou now seest me. Enough that my life has been ungodly and sinful,
and that my only hope of absolution lies in my imparting to thee a
secret which is of vast importance to the holy Church, and affects
greatly her power, wealth, and dominion on these shores. But the terms
of this secret and the conditions of my absolution are peculiar. I
have but five minutes to live. In that time I must receive the extreme
unction of the Church."

"And thy secret?" said the holy father.

"Shall be told afterwards," answered the dying man. "Come, my time is
short. Shrive me quickly."

The Padre hesitated. "Couldst thou not tell this secret first?"

"Impossible!" said the dying man, with what seemed to the Padre a
momentary gleam of triumph. Then, as his breath grew feebler, he called
impatiently, "Shrive me! shrive me!"

"Let me know at least what this secret concerns?" suggested the Padre,

"Shrive me first," said the dying man.

But the priest still hesitated, parleying with the sufferer until the
ship's bell struck, when, with a triumphant, mocking laugh from the
stranger, the vessel suddenly fell to pieces, amid the rushing of waters
which at once involved the dying man, the priest, and the mysterious

The Padre did not recover his consciousness until high noon the next
day, when he found himself lying in a little hollow between the Mission
Hills, and his faithful mule a few paces from him, cropping the sparse
herbage. The Padre made the best of his way home, but wisely abstained
from narrating the facts mentioned above, until after the discovery of
gold, when the whole of this veracious incident was related, with the
assertion of the padre that the secret which was thus mysteriously
snatched from his possession was nothing more than the discovery of
gold, years since, by the runaway sailors from the expedition of Sir
Francis Drake.


On the northerly shore of San Francisco Bay, at a point where the Golden
Gate broadens into the Pacific stands a bluff promontory. It affords
shelter from the prevailing winds to a semicircular bay on the east.
Around this bay the hillside is bleak and barren, but there are traces
of former habitation in a weather-beaten cabin and deserted corral. It
is said that these were originally built by an enterprising squatter,
who for some unaccountable reason abandoned them shortly after. The
"Jumper" who succeeded him disappeared one day, quite as mysteriously.
The third tenant, who seemed to be a man of sanguine, hopeful
temperament, divided the property into building lots, staked off the
hillside, and projected the map of a new metropolis. Failing, however,
to convince the citizens of San Francisco that they had mistaken the
site of their city, he presently fell into dissipation and despondency.
He was frequently observed haunting the narrow strip of beach at low
tide, or perched upon the cliff at high water. In the latter position
a sheep-tender one day found him, cold and pulseless, with a map of his
property in his hand, and his face turned toward the distant sea.

Perhaps these circumstances gave the locality its infelicitous
reputation. Vague rumors were bruited of a supernatural influence that
had been exercised on the tenants. Strange stories were circulated of
the origin of the diabolical title by which the promontory was known. By
some it was believed to be haunted by the spirit of one of Sir Francis
Drake's sailors who had deserted his ship in consequence of stories told
by the Indians of gold discoveries, but who had perished by starvation
on the rocks. A vaquero who had once passed a night in the ruined cabin,
related how a strangely dressed and emaciated figure had knocked at
the door at midnight and demanded food. Other story-tellers, of more
historical accuracy, roundly asserted that Sir Francis himself had
been little better than a pirate, and had chosen this spot to conceal
quantities of ill-gotten booty, taken from neutral bottoms, and had
protected his hiding-place by the orthodox means of hellish incantation
and diabolic agencies. On moonlight nights a shadowy ship was sometimes
seen standing off-and-on, or when fogs encompassed sea and shore the
noise of oars rising and falling in their row-locks could be heard
muffled and indistinctly during the night. Whatever foundation there
might have been for these stories, it was certain that a more weird and
desolate-looking spot could not have been selected for their theatre.
High hills, verdureless and enfiladed with dark canadas, cast their
gaunt shadows on the tide. During a greater portion of the day the wind,
which blew furiously and incessantly, seemed possessed with a spirit of
fierce disquiet and unrest. Toward nightfall the sea-fog crept with
soft step through the portals of the Golden Gate, or stole in noiseless
marches down the hillside, tenderly soothing the wind-buffeted face
of the cliff, until sea and sky were hid together. At such times the
populous city beyond and the nearer settlement seemed removed to an
infinite distance. An immeasurable loneliness settled upon the cliff.
The creaking of a windlass, or the monotonous chant of sailors on
some unseen, outlying ship, came faint and far, and full of mystic

About a year ago a well-to-do middle-aged broker of San Francisco found
himself at nightfall the sole occupant of a "plunger," encompassed in
a dense fog, and drifting toward the Golden Gate. This unexpected
termination of an afternoon's sail was partly attributable to his want
of nautical skill, and partly to the effect of his usually sanguine
nature. Having given up the guidance of his boat to the wind and tide,
he had trusted too implicitly for that reaction which his business
experience assured him was certain to occur in all affairs, aquatic
as well as terrestrial. "The tide will turn soon," said the broker,
confidently, "or something will happen." He had scarcely settled himself
back again in the stern-sheets, before the bow of the plunger, obeying
some mysterious impulse, veered slowly around and a dark object loomed
up before him. A gentle eddy carried the boat further in shore, until
at last it was completely embayed under the lee of a rocky point now
faintly discernible through the fog. He looked around him in the vain
hope of recognizing some familiar headland. The tops of the high hills
which rose on either side were hidden in the fog. As the boat swung
around, he succeeded in fastening a line to the rocks, and sat down
again with a feeling of renewed confidence and security.

It was very cold. The insidious fog penetrated his tightly buttoned
coat, and set his teeth to chattering in spite of the aid he sometimes
drew from a pocket-flask. His clothes were wet and the stern-sheets were
covered with spray. The comforts of fire and shelter continually rose
before his fancy as he gazed wistfully on the rocks. In sheer despair he
finally drew the boat toward the most accessible part of the cliff and
essayed to ascend. This was less difficult than it appeared, and in
a few moments he had gained the hill above. A dark object at a little
distance attracted his attention, and on approaching it proved to be a
deserted cabin. The story goes on to say, that having built a roaring
fire of stakes pulled from the adjoining corral, with the aid of a flask
of excellent brandy, he managed to pass the early part of the evening
with comparative comfort.

There was no door in the cabin, and the windows were simply square
openings, which freely admitted the searching fog. But in spite of these
discomforts,--being a man of cheerful, sanguine temperament,--he amused
himself by poking the fire, and watching the ruddy glow which the flames
threw on the fog from the open door. In this innocent occupation a great
weariness overcame him, and he fell asleep.

He was awakened at midnight by a loud "halloo," which seemed to proceed
directly from the sea. Thinking it might be the cry of some boatman lost
in the fog, he walked to the edge of the cliff, but the thick veil that
covered sea and land rendered all objects at the distance of a few feet
indistinguishable. He heard, however, the regular strokes of oars rising
and falling on the water. The halloo was repeated. He was clearing his
throat to reply, when to his surprise an answer came apparently from the
very cabin he had quitted. Hastily retracing his steps, he was the more
amazed, on reaching the open door, to find a stranger warming himself by
the fire. Stepping back far enough to conceal his own person, he took a
good look at the intruder.

He was a man of about forty, with a cadaverous face. But the oddity
of his dress attracted the broker's attention more than his lugubrious
physiognomy. His legs were hid in enormously wide trousers descending
to his knee, where they met long boots of sealskin. A pea-jacket with
exaggerated cuffs, almost as large as the breeches, covered his chest,
and around his waist a monstrous belt, with a buckle like a dentist's
sign, supported two trumpet-mouthed pistols and a curved hanger. He wore
a long queue, which depended half-way down his back. As the firelight
fell on his ingenuous countenance the broker observed with some concern
that this queue was formed entirely of a kind of tobacco, known as
pigtail or twist. Its effect, the broker remarked, was much heightened
when in a moment of thoughtful abstraction the apparition bit off a
portion of it, and rolled it as a quid into the cavernous recesses of
his jaws.

Meanwhile, the nearer splash of oars indicated the approach of the
unseen boat. The broker had barely time to conceal himself behind the
cabin before a number of uncouth-looking figures clambered up the hill
toward the ruined rendezvous. They were dressed like the previous comer,
who, as they passed through the open door, exchanged greetings with
each in antique phraseology, bestowing at the same time some
familiar nickname. Flash-in-the-Pan, Spitter-of-Frogs, Malmsey Butt,
Latheyard-Will, and Mark-the-Pinker, were the few sobriquets the broker
remembered. Whether these titles were given to express some peculiarity
of their owner he could not tell, for a silence followed as they slowly
ranged themselves upon the floor of the cabin in a semicircle around
their cadaverous host.

At length Malmsey Butt, a spherical-bodied man-of-war's-man, with
a rubicund nose, got on his legs somewhat unsteadily, and addressed
himself to the company. They had met that evening, said the speaker, in
accordance with a time-honored custom. This was simply to relieve that
one of their number who for fifty years had kept watch and ward over
the locality where certain treasures had been buried. At this point the
broker pricked up his ears. "If so be, camarados and brothers all,"
he continued, "ye are ready to receive the report of our excellent and
well-beloved brother, Master Slit-the-Weazand, touching his search for
this treasure, why, marry, to 't and begin."

A murmur of assent went around the circle as the speaker resumed his
seat. Master Slit-the-Weazand slowly opened his lantern jaws, and began.
He had spent much of his time in determining the exact location of the
treasure. He believed--nay, he could state positively--that its position
was now settled. It was true he had done some trifling little business
outside. Modesty forbade his mentioning the particulars, but he would
simply state that of the three tenants who had occupied the cabin during
the past ten years, none were now alive. [Applause, and cries of "Go to!
thou wast always a tall fellow!" and the like.]

Mark-the-Pinker next arose. Before proceeding to business he had a duty
to perform in the sacred name of Friendship. It ill became him to pass
an eulogy upon the qualities of the speaker who had preceded him, for
he had known him from "boyhood's hour." Side by side they had wrought
together in the Spanish war. For a neat hand with a toledo he challenged
his equal, while how nobly and beautifully he had won his present title
of Slit-the-Weazand, all could testify. The speaker, with some show
of emotion, asked to be pardoned if he dwelt too freely on passages of
their early companionship; he then detailed, with a fine touch of
humor, his comrade's peculiar manner of slitting the ears and lips of a
refractory Jew, who had been captured in one of their previous voyages.
He would not weary the patience of his hearers, but would briefly
propose that the report of Slit-the-Weazand be accepted, and that the
thanks of the company be tendered him.

A beaker of strong spirits was then rolled into the hut, and cans
of grog were circulated freely from hand to hand. The health of
Slit-the-Weazand was proposed in a neat speech by Mark-the-Pinker, and
responded to by the former gentleman in a manner that drew tears to the
eyes of all present. To the broker, in his concealment, this momentary
diversion from the real business of the meeting occasioned much anxiety.
As yet nothing had been said to indicate the exact locality of the
treasure to which they had mysteriously alluded. Fear restrained him
from open inquiry, and curiosity kept him from making good his escape
during the orgies which followed.

But his situation was beginning to become critical. Flash-in-the-Pan,
who seemed to have been a man of choleric humor, taking fire during some
hotly contested argument, discharged both his pistols at the breast of
his opponent. The balls passed through on each side immediately below
his arm-pits, making a clean hole, through which the horrified broker
could see the firelight behind him. The wounded man, without betraying
any concern, excited the laughter of the company, by jocosely putting
his arms akimbo, and inserting his thumbs into the orifices of the
wounds, as if they had been arm-holes. This having in a measure restored
good-humor, the party joined hands and formed a circle preparatory to
dancing. The dance was commenced by some monotonous stanzas hummed in
a very high key by one of the party, the rest joining in the following
chorus, which seemed to present a familiar sound to the broker's ear.

     "Her Majestie is very sicke,
     Lord Essex hath ye measles,
     Our Admiral hath licked ye French--
     Poppe! saith ye weasel!"

At the regular recurrence of the last line, the party discharged their
loaded pistols in all directions, rendering the position of the unhappy
broker one of extreme peril and perplexity.

When the tumult had partially subsided, Flash-in-the-Pan called the
meeting to order, and most of the revellers returned to their places,
Malmsey Butt, however, insisting upon another chorus, and singing at the
top of his voice:--

     "I am ycleped J. Keyser--I was born at Spring, hys Garden,
     My father toe make me ane clerke erst did essaye,
     But a fico for ye offis--I spurn ye losels offeire;
     For I fain would be ane butcher by'r ladykin alwaye."

Flash-in-the-Pan drew a pistol from his belt, and bidding some one gag
Malmsey Butt with the stock of it, proceeded to read from a portentous
roll of parchment that he held in his hand. It was a semi-legal
document, clothed in the quaint phraseology of a bygone period. After a
long preamble, asserting their loyalty as lieges of Her most bountiful
Majesty and Sovereign Lady the Queen, the document declared that they
then and there took possession of the promontory, and all the treasure
trove therein contained, formerly buried by Her Majesty's most faithful
and devoted Admiral Sir Francis Drake, with the right to search,
discover, and appropriate the same; and for the purpose thereof they did
then and there form a guild or corporation to so discover, search
for, and disclose said treasures, and by virtue thereof they solemnly
subscribed their names. But at this moment the reading of the parchment
was arrested by an exclamation from the assembly, and the broker
was seen frantically struggling at the door in the strong arms of

"Let me go!" he cried, as he made a desperate attempt to reach the side
of Master Flash-in-the Pan. "Let me go! I tell you, gentlemen, that
document is not worth the parchment it is written on. The laws of
the State, the customs of the country, the mining ordinances, are all
against it. Don't, by all that's sacred, throw away such a capital
investment through ignorance and informality. Let me go! I assure you,
gentlemen, professionally, that you have a big thing,--a remarkably big
thing, and even if I ain't in it, I'm not going to see it fall through.
Don't, for God's sake, gentlemen, I implore you, put your names to such
a ridiculous paper. There isn't a notary--"

He ceased. The figures around him, which were beginning to grow fainter
and more indistinct, as he went on, swam before his eyes, flickered,
reappeared again, and finally went out. He rubbed his eyes and gazed
around him. The cabin was deserted. On the hearth the red embers of
his fire were fading away in the bright beams of the morning sun, that
looked aslant through the open window. He ran out to the cliff. The
sturdy sea-breeze fanned his feverish cheeks, and tossed the white
caps of waves that beat in pleasant music on the beach below. A stately
merchantman with snowy canvas was entering the Gate. The voices of
sailors came cheerfully from a bark at anchor below the point. The
muskets of the sentries gleamed brightly on Alcatraz, and the rolling
of drums swelled on the breeze. Farther on, the hills of San Francisco,
cottage-crowned and bordered with wharves and warehouses, met his
longing eye.

Such is the Legend of Devil's Point. Any objections to its reliability
may be met with the statement, that the broker who tells the story has
since incorporated a company under the title of "Flash-in-the-Pan Gold
and Silver Treasure Mining Company," and that its shares are already
held at a stiff figure. A copy of the original document is said to be on
record in the office of the company, and on any clear day the locality
of the claim may be distinctly seen from the hills of San Francisco.



The church clocks in San Francisco were striking ten. The Devil, who had
been flying over the city that evening, just then alighted on the roof
of a church near the corner of Bush and Montgomery Streets. It will be
perceived that the popular belief that the Devil avoids holy edifices,
and vanishes at the sound of a Credo or Pater-noster, is long since
exploded. Indeed, modern scepticism asserts that he is not averse to
these orthodox discourses, which particularly bear reference to himself,
and in a measure recognize his power and importance.

I am inclined to think, however, that his choice of a resting-place was
a good deal influenced by its contiguity to a populous thoroughfare.
When he was comfortably seated, he began pulling out the joints of a
small rod which he held in his hand, and which presently proved to be an
extraordinary fishing-pole, with a telescopic adjustment that permitted
its protraction to a marvellous extent. Affixing a line thereto, he
selected a fly of a particular pattern from a small box which he carried
with him, and, making a skilful cast, threw his line into the very
centre of that living stream which ebbed and flowed through Montgomery

Either the people were very virtuous that evening or the bait was not a
taking one. In vain the Devil whipped the stream at an eddy in front
of the Occidental, or trolled his line into the shadows of the
Cosmopolitan; five minutes passed without even a nibble. "Dear me!"
quoth the Devil, "that's very singular; one of my most popular flies,
too! Why, they'd have risen by shoals in Broadway or Beacon Street
for that. Well, here goes another." And, fitting a new fly from his
well-filled box, he gracefully recast his line.

For a few moments there was every prospect of sport. The line was
continually bobbing and the nibbles were distinct and gratifying. Once
or twice the bait was apparently gorged and carried off in the upper
stories of the hotels to be digested at leisure. At such times the
professional manner in which the Devil played out his line would have
thrilled the heart of Izaak Walton. But his efforts were unsuccessful;
the bait was invariably carried off without hooking the victim, and
the Devil finally lost his temper. "I've heard of these San Franciscans
before," he muttered; "wait till I get hold of one,--that's all!" he
added malevolently, as he rebaited his hook. A sharp tug and a wriggle
foiled his next trial, and finally, with considerable effort, he landed
a portly two-hundred-pound broker upon the church roof.

As the victim lay there gasping, it was evident that the Devil was in
no hurry to remove the hook from his gills; nor did he exhibit in this
delicate operation that courtesy of manner and graceful manipulation
which usually distinguished him.

"Come," he said, gruffly, as he grasped the broker by the waistband,
"quit that whining and grunting. Don't flatter yourself that you're a
prize either. I was certain to have had you. It was only a question of

"It is not that, my lord, which troubles me," whined the unfortunate
wretch, as he painfully wriggled his head, "but that I should have been
fooled by such a paltry bait. What will they say of me down there? To
have let 'bigger things' go by, and to be taken in by this cheap trick,"
he added, as he groaned and glanced at the fly which the Devil was
carefully rearranging, "is what,--pardon me, my lord,--is what gets me!"

"Yes," said the Devil, philosophically, "I never caught anybody yet who
didn't say that; but tell me, ain't you getting somewhat fastidious
down there? Here is one of my most popular flies, the greenback," he
continued, exhibiting an emerald-looking insect, which he drew from his
box. "This, so generally considered excellent in election season, has
not even been nibbled at. Perhaps your sagacity, which, in spite of
this unfortunate contretemps, no one can doubt," added the Devil, with
a graceful return to his usual courtesy, "may explain the reason or
suggest a substitute."

The broker glanced at the contents of the box with a supercilious smile.
"Too old-fashioned, my lord,--long ago played out. Yet," he added,
with a gleam of interest, "for a consideration I might offer
something--ahem!--that would make a taking substitute for these trifles.
Give me," he continued, in a brisk, business-like way, "a slight
percentage and a bonus down, and I'm your man."

"Name your terms," said the Devil, earnestly.

"My liberty and a percentage on all you take, and the thing's done."

The Devil caressed his tail thoughtfully, for a few moments. He was
certain of the broker any way, and the risk was slight. "Done!" he said.

"Stay a moment," said the artful broker. "There are certain
contingencies. Give me your fishing-rod and let me apply the bait
myself. It requires a skilful hand, my lord; even your well-known
experience might fail. Leave me alone for half an hour, and if you have
reason to complain of my success I will forfeit my deposit,--I mean my

The Devil acceded to his request, bowed, and withdrew. Alighting
gracefully in Montgomery Street, he dropped into Meade & Co.'s clothing
store, where, having completely equipped himself a la mode, he sallied
forth intent on his personal enjoyment. Determining to sink his
professional character, he mingled with the current of human life,
and enjoyed, with that immense capacity for excitement peculiar to his
nature, the whirl, bustle, and feverishness of the people, as a purely
aesthetic gratification unalloyed by the cares of business. What he did
that evening does not belong to our story. We return to the broker, whom
we left on the roof.

When he made sure that the Devil had retired, he carefully drew from
his pocket-book a slip of paper and affixed it on the hook. The line
had scarcely reached the current before he felt a bite. The hook was
swallowed. To bring up his victim rapidly, disengage him from the hook,
and reset his line, was the work of a moment. Another bite and the same
result. Another, and another. In a very few minutes the roof was covered
with his panting spoil. The broker could himself distinguish that
many of them were personal friends; nay, some of them were familiar
frequenters of the building on which they were now miserably stranded.
That the broker felt a certain satisfaction in being instrumental in
thus misleading his fellow-brokers no one acquainted with human nature
will for a moment doubt. But a stronger pull on his line caused him
to put forth all his strength and skill. The magic pole bent like a
coach-whip. The broker held firm, assisted by the battlements of the
church. Again and again it was almost wrested from his hand, and again
and again he slowly reeled in a portion of the tightening line. At last,
with one mighty effort, he lifted to the level of the roof a struggling
object. A howl like Pandemonium rang through the air as the broker
successfully landed at his feet--the Devil himself!

The two glared fiercely at each other. The broker, perhaps mindful
of his former treatment, evinced no haste to remove the hook from his
antagonist's jaw. When it was finally accomplished, he asked quietly
if the Devil was satisfied. That gentleman seemed absorbed in the
contemplation of the bait which he had just taken from his mouth. "I
am," he said, finally, "and forgive you; but what do you call this?"

"Bend low," replied the broker, as he buttoned up his coat ready to
depart. The Devil inclined his ear. "I call it WILD CAT!"




In the second year of the reign of the renowned Caliph Lo there dwelt
in SILVER LAND, adjoining his territory, a certain terrible ogress. She
lived in the bowels of a dismal mountain, where she was in the habit of
confining such unfortunate travellers as ventured within her domain. The
country for miles around was sterile and barren. In some places it was
covered with a white powder, which was called in the language of the
country AL KA LI, and was supposed to be the pulverized bones of those
who had perished miserably in her service.

In spite of this, every year, great numbers of young men devoted
themselves to the service of the ogress, hoping to become her godsons,
and to enjoy the good fortune which belonged to that privileged class.
For these godsons had no work to perform, neither at the mountain
nor elsewhere, but roamed about the world with credentials of their
relationship in their pockets, which they called STOKH, which was
stamped with the stamp and sealed with the seal of the ogress, and which
enabled them at the end of each moon to draw large quantities of gold
and silver from her treasury. And the wisest and most favored of those
godsons were the Princes BADFELLAH and BULLEBOYE. They knew all the
secrets of the ogress, and how to wheedle and coax her. They were also
the favorites of SOOPAH INTENDENT, who was her Lord High Chamberlain and
Prime Minister, and who dwelt in SILVER LAND.

One day, SOOPAH INTENDENT said to his servants, "What is that which
travels the most surely, the most secretly, and the most swiftly?"

And they all answered as one man, "LIGHTNING, my lord, travels the most
surely, the most swiftly, and the most secretly!"

Then said SOOPAH INTENDENT, "Let Lightning carry this message secretly,
swiftly, and surely to my beloved friends the Princes BADFELLAH and
BULLEBOYE, and tell them that their godmother is dying, and bid
them seek some other godmother or sell their STOKH ere it becomes

"Bekhesm! On our heads be it!" answered the servants; and they ran to
Lightning with the message, who flew with it to the City by the Sea,
and delivered it, even at that moment, into the hands of the Princes

Now the Prince BADFELLAH was a wicked young man; and when he had
received this message he tore his beard and rent his garment and reviled
his godmother, and his friend SOOPAH INTENDENT. But presently he arose,
and dressed himself in his finest stuffs, and went forth into the
bazaars and among the merchants, capering and dancing as he walked, and
crying in a loud voice, "O, happy day! O, day worthy to be marked with a
white stone!"

This he said cunningly, thinking the merchants and men of the bazaars
would gather about him, which they presently did, and began to question
him: "What news, O most worthy and serene Highness? Tell us, that we
make merry too!"

Then replied the cunning prince, "Good news, O my brothers, for I have
heard this day that my godmother in SILVER LAND is well." The merchants,
who were not aware of the substance of the real message, envied him
greatly, and said one to another: "Surely our brother the Prince
BADFELLAH is favored by Allah above all men;" and they were about to
retire, when the prince checked them, saying: "Tarry for a moment.
Here are my credentials, or STOKH. The same I will sell you for fifty
thousand sequins, for I have to give a feast to-day, and need much
gold. Who will give fifty thousand?" And he again fell to capering and
dancing. But this time the merchants drew a little apart, and some of
the oldest and wisest said: "What dirt is this which the prince would
have us swallow? If his godmother were well, why should he sell his
STOKH? Bismillah! The olives are old and the jar is broken!" When Prince
BADFELLAH perceived them whispering, his countenance fell, and his knees
smote against each other through fear; but, dissembling again, he said:
"Well, so be it! Lo, I have much more than shall abide with me, for my
days are many and my wants are few. Say forty thousand sequins for my
STOKH and let me depart in Allah's name. Who will give forty thousand
sequins to become the godson of such a healthy mother?" And he again
fell to capering and dancing, but not as gayly as before, for his heart
was troubled. The merchants, however, only moved farther away. "Thirty
thousand sequins," cried Prince BADFELLAH; but even as he spoke they
fled before his face, crying: "His godmother is dead. Lo, the jackals
are defiling her grave. Mashalla! he has no godmother." And they sought
out PANIK, the swift-footed messenger, and bade him shout through the
bazaars that the godmother of Prince BADFELLAH was dead. When he heard
this, the prince fell upon his face, and rent his garments, and covered
himself with the dust of the market-place. As he was sitting thus, a
porter passed him with jars of wine on his shoulders, and the prince
begged him to give him a jar, for he was exceeding thirsty and faint.
But the porter said, "What will my lord give me first?" And the prince,
in very bitterness of spirit, said, "Take this," and handed him his
STOKH, and so exchanged it for a jar of wine.

Now the Prince BULLEBOYE was of a very different disposition. When he
received the message of SOOPAH INTENDENT he bowed his head, and said,
"It is the will of God." Then he rose; and without speaking a word
entered the gates of his palace. But his wife, the peerless MAREE
JAHANN, perceiving the gravity of his countenance, said, "Why is my
lord cast down and silent? Why are those rare and priceless pearls,
his words, shut up so tightly between those gorgeous oyster-shells, his
lips?" But to this he made no reply. Thinking further to divert him,
she brought her lute into the chamber and stood before him, and sang
the song and danced the dance of BEN KOTTON, which is called IBRAHIM's
DAUGHTER, but she could not lift the veil of sadness from his brow.

When she had ceased, the Prince BULLEBOYE arose and said, "Allah is
great, and what am I, his servant, but the dust of the earth! Lo, this
day has my godmother sickened unto death, and my STOKH become as a
withered palm-leaf. Call hither my servants and camel-drivers, and the
merchants that have furnished me with stuffs, and the beggars who have
feasted at my table, and bid them take all that is here, for it is mine
no longer!" With these words he buried his face in his mantle and wept

But MAREE JAHANN, his wife, plucked him by the sleeve. "Prithee, my
lord," said she, "bethink thee of the BROKAH or scrivener, who besought
thee but yesterday to share thy STOKH with him and gave thee his bond
for fifty thousand sequins." But the noble Prince BULLEBOYE, raising his
head, said: "Shall I sell to him for fifty thousand sequins that which I
know is not worth a SOO MARKEE? For is not all the BROKAH'S wealth, even
his wife and children, pledged on that bond? Shall I ruin him to save
myself? Allah forbid! Rather let me eat the salt fish of honest penury,
than the kibobs of dishonorable affluence; rather let me wallow in
the mire of virtuous oblivion, than repose on the divan of luxurious

When the prince had given utterance to this beautiful and edifying
sentiment, a strain of gentle music was heard, and the rear wall of the
apartment, which had been ingeniously constructed like a flat, opened
and discovered the Ogress of SILVER LAND in the glare of blue fire,
seated on a triumphal car attached to two ropes which were connected
with the flies, in the very act of blessing the unconscious prince.
When the walls closed again without attracting his attention, Prince
BULLEBOYE arose, dressed himself in his coarsest and cheapest stuffs,
and sprinkled ashes on his head, and in this guise, having embraced
his wife, went forth into the bazaars. In this it will be perceived
how differently the good Prince BULLEBOYE acted from the wicked Prince
BADFELLAH, who put on his gayest garments to simulate and deceive.

Now when Prince BULLEBOYE entered the chief bazaar, where the merchants
of the city were gathered in council, he stood up in his accustomed
place, and all that were there held their breath, for the noble Prince
BULLEBOYE was much respected. "Let the BROKAH, whose bond I hold for
fifty thousand sequins, stand forth!" said the prince. And the BROKAH
stood forth from among the merchants. Then said the prince: "Here is thy
bond for fifty thousand sequins, for which I was to deliver unto thee
one half of my STOKH. Know, then, O my brother,--and thou, too, O Aga of
the BROKAHS,--that this my STOKH which I pledged to thee is worthless.
For my godmother, the Ogress of SILVER LAND, is dying. Thus do I release
thee from thy bond, and from the poverty which might overtake thee as it
has even me, thy brother, the Prince BULLEBOYE." And with that the noble
Prince BULLEBOYE tore the bond of the BROKAH into pieces and scattered
it to the four winds.

Now when the prince tore up the bond there was a great commotion, and
some said, "Surely the Prince BULLEBOYE is drunken with wine;"
and others, "He is possessed of an evil spirit;" and his friends
expostulated with him, saying, "What thou hast done is not the custom
of the bazaars,--behold, it is not BIZ!" But to all the prince answered
gravely, "It is right; on my own head be it!"

But the oldest and wisest of the merchants, they who had talked with
Prince BADFELLAH the same morning, whispered together, and gathered
around the BROKAH whose bond the Prince BULLEBOYE had torn up. "Hark
ye," said they, "our brother the Prince BULLEBOYE is cunning as a
jackal. What bosh is this about ruining himself to save thee? Such
a thing was never heard before in the bazaars. It is a trick, O thou
mooncalf of a BROKAH! Dost thou not see that he has heard good news
from his godmother, the same that was even now told us by the Prince
BADFELLAH, his confederate, and that he would destroy thy bond for fifty
thousand sequins because his STOKH is worth a hundred thousand! Be not
deceived, O too credulous BROKAH! for this what our brother the prince
doeth is not in the name of ALLAH, but of BIZ, the only god known in the
bazaars of the city."

When the foolish BROKAH heard these things he cried, "Justice, O Aga
of the BROKAHS,--justice and the fulfilment of my bond! Let the prince
deliver unto me the STOKH. Here are my fifty thousand sequins." But the
prince said, "Have I not told that my godmother is dying, and that
my STOKH is valueless?" At this the BROKAH only clamored the more for
justice and the fulfilment of his bond. Then the Aga of the BROKAHS
said, "Since the bond is destroyed, behold thou hast no claim. Go thy
ways!" But the BROKAH again cried, "Justice, my lord Aga! Behold, I
offer the prince seventy thousand sequins for his STOKH!" But the prince
said, "It is not worth one sequin!" Then the Aga said, "Bismillah! I
cannot understand this. Whether thy godmother be dead, or dying, or
immortal, does not seem to signify. Therefore, O prince, by the laws
of BIZ and of ALLAH, thou art released. Give the BROKAH thy STOKH for
seventy thousand sequins, and bid him depart in peace. On his own head
be it!" When the prince heard this command, he handed his STOKH to the
BROKAH, who counted out to him seventy thousand sequins. But the heart
of the virtuous prince did not rejoice, nor did the BROKAH, when he
found his STOKH was valueless; but the merchants lifted their hands in
wonder at the sagacity and wisdom of the famous Prince BULLEBOYE.
For none would believe that it was the law of ALLAH that the prince
followed, and not the rules of BIZ.


Towards the close of the nineteenth century the city of San Francisco
was totally ingulfed by an earthquake. Although the whole coast-line
must have been much shaken, the accident seems to have been purely
local, and even the city of Oakland escaped. Schwappelfurt, the
celebrated German geologist, has endeavored to explain this singular
fact by suggesting that there are some things the earth cannot
swallow,--a statement that should be received with some caution, as
exceeding the latitude of ordinary geological speculation.

Historians disagree in the exact date of the calamity. Tulu Krish, the
well-known New-Zealander, whose admirable speculations on the ruins
of St. Paul as seen from London Bridge have won for him the attentive
consideration of the scientific world, fixes the occurrence in A. D.
1880. This, supposing the city to have been actually founded in 1850,
as asserted, would give but thirty years for it to have assumed the
size and proportions it had evidently attained at the time of its
destruction. It is not our purpose, however, to question the conclusions
of the justly famed Maorian philosopher. Our present business lies with
the excavations that are now being prosecuted by order of the Hawaiian
government upon the site of the lost city.

Every one is familiar with the story of its discovery. For many years
the bay of San Francisco had been famed for the luscious quality of
its oysters. It is stated that a dredger one day raked up a large bell,
which proved to belong to the City Hall, and led to the discovery of
the cupola of that building. The attention of the government was at once
directed to the spot. The bay of San Francisco was speedily drained by a
system of patent siphons, and the city, deeply embedded in mud, brought
to light after a burial of many centuries. The City Hall, Post-Office,
Mint, and Custom-House were readily recognized by the large full-fed
barnacles which adhered to their walls. Shortly afterwards the first
skeleton was discovered; that of a broker, whose position in the
upper strata of mud nearer the surface was supposed to be owing to the
exceeding buoyancy or inflation of scrip which he had secured about his
person while endeavoring to escape. Many skeletons, supposed to be those
of females, encompassed in that peculiar steel coop or cage which seems
to have been worn by the women of that period, were also found in
the upper stratum. Alexis von Puffer, in his admirable work on San
Francisco, accounts for the position of these unfortunate creatures
by asserting that the steel cage was originally the frame of a
parachute-like garment which distended the skirt, and in the submersion
of the city prevented them from sinking. "If anything," says Von Puffer,
"could have been wanting to add intensity to the horrible catastrophe
which took place as the waters first entered the city, it would have
been furnished in the forcible separation of the sexes at this trying
moment. Buoyed up by their peculiar garments, the female population
instantly ascended to the surface. As the drowning husband turned his
eyes above, what must have been his agony as he saw his wife shooting
upward, and knew that he was debarred the privilege of perishing with
her? To the lasting honor of the male inhabitants, be it said that but
few seemed to have availed themselves of their wives' superior levity.
Only one skeleton was found still grasping the ankles of another in
their upward journey to the surface."

For many years California had been subject to slight earthquakes, more
or less generally felt, but not of sufficient importance to awaken
anxiety or fear. Perhaps the absorbing nature of the San Franciscans'
pursuits of gold-getting, which metal seems to have been valuable in
those days, and actually used as a medium of currency, rendered the
inhabitants reckless of all other matters. Everything tends to show that
the calamity was totally unlooked for. We quote the graphic language of

"The morning of the tremendous catastrophe probably dawned upon
the usual restless crowd of gold-getters intent upon their several
avocations. The streets were filled with the expanded figures of gayly
dressed women, acknowledging with coy glances the respectful salutations
of beaux as they gracefully raised their remarkable cylindrical
head-coverings, a model of which is still preserved in the Honolulu
Museum. The brokers had gathered at their respective temples. The
shopmen were exhibiting their goods. The idlers, or 'Bummers,'--a term
applied to designate an aristocratic, privileged class who enjoyed
immunities from labor, and from whom a majority of the rulers
are chosen,--were listlessly regarding the promenaders from the
street-corners or the doors of their bibulous temples. A slight
premonitory thrill runs through the city. The busy life of this restless
microcosm is arrested. The shopkeeper pauses as he elevates the goods
to bring them into a favorable light, and the glib professional
recommendation sticks on his tongue. In the drinking-saloon the glass
is checked half-way to the lips; on the streets the promenaders pause.
Another thrill, and the city begins to go down, a few of the more
persistent topers tossing off their liquor at the same moment. Beyond a
terrible sensation of nausea, the crowds who now throng the streets do
not realize the extent of the catastrophe. The waters of the bay recede
at first from the centre of depression, assuming a concave shape, the
outer edge of the circle towering many thousand feet above the city.
Another convulsion, and the water instantly resumes its level. The city
is smoothly ingulfed nine thousand feet below, and the regular swell
of the Pacific calmly rolls over it. Terrible," says Schwappelfurt, in
conclusion, "as the calamity must have been, in direct relation to the
individuals immediately concerned therein, we cannot but admire its
artistic management; the division of the catastrophe into three
periods, the completeness of the cataclysms, and the rare combination of
sincerity of intention with felicity of execution."


I had been stage-ridden and bewildered all day, and when we swept down
with the darkness into the Arcadian hamlet of "Wingdam," I resolved
to go no farther, and rolled out in a gloomy and dyspeptic state. The
effects of a mysterious pie, and some sweetened carbonic acid known
to the proprietor of the "Half-Way House" as "lemming sody," still
oppressed me. Even the facetiae of the gallant expressman who knew
everybody's Christian name along the route, who rained letters,
newspapers, and bundles from the top of the stage, whose legs frequently
appeared in frightful proximity to the wheels, who got on and off while
we were going at full speed, whose gallantry, energy, and superior
knowledge of travel crushed all us other passengers to envious silence,
and who just then was talking with several persons and manifestly doing
something else at the same time,--even this had failed to interest me.
So I stood gloomily, clutching my shawl and carpet-bag, and watched the
stage roll away, taking a parting look at the gallant expressman as he
hung on the top rail with one leg, and lit his cigar from the pipe of a
running footman. I then turned toward the Wingdam Temperance Hotel.

It may have been the weather, or it may have been the pie, but I was not
impressed favorably with the house. Perhaps it was the name extending
the whole length of the building, with a letter under each window,
making the people who looked out dreadfully conspicuous. Perhaps it was
that "Temperance" always suggested to my mind rusks and weak tea. It was
uninviting. It might have been called the "Total Abstinence" Hotel,
from the lack of anything to intoxicate or inthrall the senses. It was
designed with an eye to artistic dreariness. It was so much too large
for the settlement, that it appeared to be a very slight improvement
on out-doors. It was unpleasantly new. There was the forest flavor of
dampness about it, and a slight spicing of pine. Nature outraged,
but not entirely subdued, sometimes broke out afresh in little round,
sticky, resinous tears on the doors and windows. It seemed to me that
boarding there must seem like a perpetual picnic. As I entered the door,
a number of the regular boarders rushed out of a long room, and set
about trying to get the taste of something out of their mouths, by
the application of tobacco in various forms. A few immediately ranged
themselves around the fireplace, with their legs over each other's
chairs, and in that position silently resigned themselves to
indigestion. Remembering the pie, I waived the invitation of the
landlord to supper, but suffered myself to be conducted into the
sitting-room. "Mine host" was a magnificent-looking, heavily bearded
specimen of the animal man. He reminded me of somebody or something
connected with the drama. I was sitting beside the fire, mutely
wondering what it could be, and trying to follow the particular chord
of memory thus touched, into the intricate past, when a little
delicate-looking woman appeared at the door, and, leaning heavily
against the casing, said in an exhausted tone, "Husband!" As the
landlord turned toward her, that particular remembrance flashed before
me in a single line of blank verse. It was this: "Two souls with but one
single thought, two hearts that beat as one."

It was Ingomar and Parthenia his wife. I imagined a different denouement
from the play. Ingomar had taken Parthenia back to the mountains, and
kept a hotel for the benefit of the Alemanni, who resorted there in
large numbers. Poor Parthenia was pretty well fagged out, and did all
the work without "help." She had two "young barbarians," a boy and a
girl. She was faded, but still good-looking.

I sat and talked with Ingomar, who seemed perfectly at home and told
me several stories of the Alemanni, all bearing a strong flavor of
the wilderness, and being perfectly in keeping with the house. How he,
Ingomar, had killed a certain dreadful "bar," whose skin was just up
"yar," over his bed. How he, Ingomar, had killed several "bucks," whose
skins had been prettily fringed and embroidered by Parthenia, and even
now clothed him. How he, Ingomar, had killed several "Injins," and was
once nearly scalped himself. All this with that ingenious candor which
is perfectly justifiable in a barbarian, but which a Greek might feel
inclined to look upon as "blowing." Thinking of the wearied Parthenia, I
began to consider for the first time that perhaps she had better married
the old Greek. Then she would at least have always looked neat. Then she
would not have worn a woollen dress flavored with all the dinners of
the past year. Then she would not have been obliged to wait on the table
with her hair half down. Then the two children would not have hung about
her skirts with dirty fingers, palpably dragging her down day by day. I
suppose it was the pie which put such heartless and improper ideas in
my head, and so I rose up and told Ingomar I believed I'd go to bed.
Preceded by that redoubtable barbarian and a flaring tallow candle, I
followed him up stairs to my room. It was the only single room he had,
he told me; he had built it for the convenience of married parties who
might stop here, but, that event not happening yet, he had left it half
furnished. It had cloth on one side, and large cracks on the other. The
wind, which always swept over Wingdam at night-time, puffed through the
apartment from different apertures. The window was too small for the
hole in the side of the house where it hung, and rattled noisily.
Everything looked cheerless and dispiriting. Before Ingomar left me,
he brought that "bar-skin," and throwing it over the solemn bier which
stood in one corner, told me he reckoned that would keep me warm, and
then bade me good night. I undressed myself, the light blowing out in
the middle of that ceremony, crawled under the "bar-skin," and tried to
compose myself to sleep.

But I was staringly wide awake. I heard the wind sweep down the
mountain-side, and toss the branches of the melancholy pine, and then
enter the house, and try all the doors along the passage. Sometimes
strong currents of air blew my hair all over the pillow, as with strange
whispering breaths. The green timber along the walls seemed to be
sprouting, and sent a dampness even through the "bar-skin." I felt like
Robinson Crusoe in his tree, with the ladder pulled up,--or like the
rocked baby of the nursery song. After lying awake half an hour, I
regretted having stopped at Wingdam; at the end of the third quarter, I
wished I had not gone to bed; and when a restless hour passed, I got up
and dressed myself. There had been a fire down in the big room. Perhaps
it was still burning. I opened the door and groped my way along the
passage, vocal with the snores of the Alemanni and the whistling of
the night wind; I partly fell down stairs, and at last entering the big
room, saw the fire still burning. I drew a chair toward it, poked it
with my foot, and was astonished to see, by the upspringing flash, that
Parthenia was sitting there also, holding a faded-looking baby.

I asked her why she was sitting up.

"She did not go to bed on Wednesday night before the mail arrived, and
then she awoke her husband, and there were passengers to 'tend to."

"Did she not get tired sometimes?"

"A little, but Abner" (the barbarian's Christian name) "had promised to
get her more help next spring, if business was good."

"How many boarders had she?"

"She believed about forty came to regular meals, and there was transient
custom, which was as much as she and her husband could 'tend to. But HE
did a great deal of work."

"What work?"

"O, bringing in the wood, and looking after the traders' things."

"How long had she been married?"

"About nine years. She had lost a little girl and boy. Three children
living. HE was from Illinois. She from Boston. Had an education (Boston
Female High School,--Geometry, Algebra, a little Latin and Greek).
Mother and father died. Came to Illinois alone, to teach school.
Saw HIM--yes--a love match." ("Two souls," etc., etc.) "Married and
emigrated to Kansas. Thence across the Plains to California. Always on
the outskirts of civilization. HE liked it.

"She might sometimes have wished to go home. Would like to on account
of her children. Would like to give them an education. Had taught them
a little herself, but couldn't do much on account of other work. Hoped
that the boy would be like his father, strong and hearty. Was fearful
the girl would be more like her. Had often thought she was not fit for a
pioneer's wife."


"O, she was not strong enough, and had seen some of his friends' wives
in Kansas who could do more work. But he never complained,--was so
kind." ("Two souls," etc.)

Sitting there with her head leaning pensively on one hand, holding the
poor, wearied, and limp-looking baby wearily on the other arm, dirty,
drabbled, and forlorn, with the firelight playing upon her features no
longer fresh or young, but still refined and delicate, and even in her
grotesque slovenliness still bearing a faint reminiscence of birth and
breeding, it was not to be wondered that I did not fall into excessive
raptures over the barbarian's kindness. Emboldened by my sympathy, she
told me how she had given up, little by little, what she imagined to be
the weakness of her early education, until she found that she acquired
but little strength in her new experience. How, translated to a
backwoods society, she was hated by the women, and called proud and
"fine," and how her dear husband lost popularity on that account with
his fellows. How, led partly by his roving instincts, and partly from
other circumstances, he started with her to California. An account of
that tedious journey. How it was a dreary, dreary waste in her memory,
only a blank plain marked by a little cairn of stones,--a child's
grave. How she had noticed that little Willie failed. How she had called
Abner's attention to it, but, man-like, he knew nothing about children,
and pooh-poohed it, and was worried by the stock. How it happened that
after they had passed Sweetwater, she was walking beside the wagon one
night, and looking at the western sky, and she heard a little voice say
"Mother." How she looked into the wagon and saw that little Willie was
sleeping comfortably and did not wish to wake him. How that in a few
moments more she heard the same voice saying "Mother." How she came
back to the wagon and leaned down over him, and felt his breath upon her
face, and again covered him up tenderly, and once more resumed her weary
journey beside him, praying to God for his recovery. How with her face
turned to the sky she heard the same voice saying "Mother," and directly
a great bright star shot away from its brethren and expired. And how
she knew what had happened, and ran to the wagon again only to pillow
a little pinched and cold white face upon her weary bosom. The thin red
hands went up to her eyes here, and for a few moments she sat still. The
wind tore round the house and made a frantic rush at the front door,
and from his couch of skins in the inner room--Ingomar, the barbarian,
snored peacefully.

"Of course she always found a protector from insult and outrage in the
great courage and strength of her husband?"

"O yes; when Ingomar was with her she feared nothing. But she was
nervous and had been frightened once!"


"They had just arrived in California. They kept house then, and had
to sell liquor to traders. Ingomar was hospitable, and drank with
everybody, for the sake of popularity and business, and Ingomar got to
like liquor, and was easily affected by it. And how one night there was
a boisterous crowd in the bar-room; she went in and tried to get him
away, but only succeeded in awakening the coarse gallantry of the
half-crazed revellers. And how, when she had at last got him in the room
with her frightened children, he sank down on the bed in a stupor, which
made her think the liquor was drugged. And how she sat beside him all
night, and near morning heard a step in the passage, and, looking toward
the door, saw the latch slowly moving up and down, as if somebody were
trying it. And how she shook her husband, and tried to waken him, but
without effect. And how at last the door yielded slowly at the top (it
was bolted below), as if by a gradual pressure without; and how a hand
protruded through the opening. And how as quick as lightning she nailed
that hand to the wall with her scissors (her only weapon), but the point
broke, and somebody got away with a fearful oath. How she never told her
husband of it, for fear he would kill that somebody; but how on one day
a stranger called here, and as she was handing him his coffee, she saw a
queer triangular scar on the back of his hand."

She was still talking, and the wind was still blowing, and Ingomar was
still snoring from his couch of skins, when there was a shout high
up the straggling street, and a clattering of hoofs, and rattling of
wheels. The mail had arrived. Parthenia ran with the faded baby to
awaken Ingomar, and almost simultaneously the gallant expressman stood
again before me addressing me by my Christian name, and inviting me
to drink out of a mysterious black bottle. The horses were speedily
watered, and the business of the gallant expressman concluded, and,
bidding Parthenia good by, I got on the stage, and immediately fell
asleep, and dreamt of calling on Parthenia and Ingomar, and being
treated with pie to an unlimited extent, until I woke up the next
morning in Sacramento. I have some doubts as to whether all this was not
a dyspeptic dream, but I never witness the drama, and hear that noble
sentiment concerning "Two souls," etc., without thinking of Wingdam and
poor Parthenia.

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