O tranquil moon! O
Put forth thy
cool, protecting palms,
And cool their
eyes with cooling alms,
Against the burning tears
O saintly, noiseless-footed
O sad-browed patient
Thy homeless children
while they sleep,
And kiss them, weeping, every
At first there was a loud demonstration
against Logan by the mob, that always gathers about
where a man is captured by his fellows the
wolves that come up when the wounded buffalo falls.
There was talk of a vigilance committee and of lynching.
But when the stout, resolute sheriff
led the man in chains down the trail through the deep
snow, and turned him over to the officer in charge
of a little squad of soldiers at the other side of
the valley, no man interfered further. Indeed,
Dosson and Emens were too anxious about the promised
reward to make any demonstration against this man’s
life now. He was worth to them a thousand dollars.
A lawyer reading this, will smile
here at the loose way in which the law was administered
there in the outer edge of the world at that time.
Here is a sheriff, with a warrant in his pocket, made
returnable to a magistrate. The sheriff arrests
the man on this warrant and takes him directly to
the military authorities, which have been so long seeking
him, utterly unconscious that he is doing aught but
the proper thing. And yet, after all, it was
the shortest and best course to take.
I shall not forget the face of the
prisoner as we stood beside the trail in the snow,
while he was led past down the mouth of the canyon
toward the other side of the valley. It was grand!
Some strangers, standing in the street,
spoke of the majesty of the man’s bearing.
They openly dared to admire his lifted face, and to
speak with derision of his captors as the party passed
on. This made the low element, out of which mobs
are always created, a little bit timid. Possibly
it was this that saved the prisoner. But most
likely it was the resolute face of the honest sheriff.
For, say what you will, there is nothing so cowardly
as a mob. Throw what romance you please over the
actions of the Vigilantes of California, they were
murderers coarse, cowardly and brutal;
murderers, legally and morally, every one of them.
It is to be admitted that they did good work at first.
But their example, followed even down to this day,
has been fruitful of the darkest crimes.
When Forty-nine awoke next morning
from his long drunken slumber, the children were not
there. Dosson called, arrayed in his best; but
Carrie was not to be seen. Forty-nine could give
no account of her. This day of triumph for Dosson
did not yield him so much as he had all the night
before fancied. He was furious.
Forty-nine, as usual, after a spree,
meekly took up his pick, after a breakfast on a piece
of bread and the drawings of coffee grounds that had
been thrice boiled over, and stumbled away towards
his tunnel, and was soon lost in the deeps of the
You may be certain that this desperate
character, just taken after so much trouble and cost,
was securely ironed at the little military camp across
the valley. An old log cabin was made a temporary
prison, and soldiers strode up and down on the four
sides of it day and night.
And yet there was hardly need of such
heavy irons. True, the soldiers outside, as they
walked up and down at night and shifted their muskets
from side to side, and slapped their shoulders with
their arms and hands to keep from freezing, heard
the chains grate and toss and rattle, often and often,
as if some one was trying to tear and loosen them.
But it was only the man tossing his arms in delirium
as he lay on the fir boughs in the corner.
Dosson, after much inquiry, and many
day’s watching about Forty-nine’s cabin,
called and was admitted to see the prisoner, who by
this time, though weak and worn to a skeleton, was
convalescing. The coarse and insolent intruder
started back with dismay. There sat the girl he
so hoped and longed to possess, talking to him tenderly,
soothing him, giving her life for his.
Long and brutal would be the story
of the agent’s endeavors to tear this girl away
from the bedside of the sufferer if such
a place could be called a bedside. The girl would
not leave John Logan, and the timid boy who sat shivering
back in the corner of the cabin, would not leave the
girl. The three were bound together by a chain
stronger than that which bound the wrists of the prisoner;
aye, ten thousand times stronger, for man had fashioned
the one God the other.
Sudden and swift arrives summer in
California. The trail was opened to the Reservation
down the mountain, and the officer collected his few
Indians together in a long, single line, all chained
to a long heavy cable, and prepared to march.
About the middle of the chain stood John Logan, now
strong enough to walk. At the front were placed
a few miserable, spiritless Indians, who had been
found loafing about the miners’s cabins the
drunkards, thieves, vagabonds of their tribe, such
as all tribes have, such as we have, citizen-reader while
the rear was brought up by a boy and girl, Carrie
and Johnny, a pitiful sight!
Do not be surprised. When you
have learned to know the absolute, the utterly unlimited
power and authority of an Indian Agent or sub-Agent,
you have only to ask the capability for villainy he
may possess in order to find the limit of his actions.
Could you have seen the lofty disdain
of this girl for her suitor at that first and every
subsequent meeting, as she kept at the bedside of
John Logan, you could have guessed what might follow.
The man’s love was turned to rage. He resolved
to send her back to the Reservation also. It
is true, the soldiers had learned to respect and to
pity her. It is true, the little Lieutenant said,
with a soldierly oath, as she was being chained, that
she was whiter than the man who was having it done.
Yet the soldiers, and their officer as well, had their
orders; and a soldier’s duties, as you know,
are all bound up in one word.
As for the wretched boy, he might
have escaped. He was a negative sort of a being
at best; and no one, save Logan and the girl, either
hated him or loved him greatly, tender and true as
he was. They both implored him to slip between
the fingers of the soldiers and not go to the Reservation.
But he would not think of being separated from his
sister. Poor, stunted, starved little thing!
There were wrinkles about his face; his hands were
black, short, and hard, from digging roots from the
frosty ground. It is not probable the lad had
ever had enough to eat since he could remember.
And so he was a dwarf, a dwarf in body and in soul;
and instead of showing some spirit and standing up
now and helping the girl, as he should, he leaned
on her utterly, and left her to be the man of the
two. The little spark of fire that had twice or
thrice flashed up in the last few years, seemed now
to die out entirely, and he stood there chained, looking
back now and then over his shoulder at the soldiers,
looking forward trying to catch a glance from his sister
now and then, but never once making any murmur or
It was a hot, sultry day, such as
suddenly enters and takes possession of canyons in
the Sierras, when the little party of prisoners were
marched through the little camp at the end of the canyon
on their way to the Reservation.
And the camp all came out to see,
but the camp was silent. It was not a pleasant
sight. A soldier with a bayonet on his loaded
musket walking by the side of a woman with her hands
in chains, is not an inspiring spectacle. With
all respect for your superior judgments, Mr. President,
Commander-in-Chief, and Captains of the army, I say
there is a nobler use for the army than this.
Let us hasten on from this subject
and this scene. But do not imagine that the miner,
the settler, or even the most hardened about the camp,
felt ennobled at this sight. I tell you there
was a murmur of indignation and disgust heard all
up and down the canyon. The newer and better
element of the camp was furious. One man even
went so far as to write a letter to a country paper
on the subject.
But when the editor responded in a
heavy leader, and assured the camp of its deadly peril
from these prowling savages, and proclaimed that the
Indians were being taken where they would have good
medicine, care, food and clothing, and be educated
and taught the arts of agriculture, the case really
did not look so bad; and in less than a week the whole
affair had been forgotten by all the camp. Aye,
all, save old Forty-nine.
By the express order of sub-Agent
Dosson, the old man, who had been declared a dangerous
character by him, was not permitted to see the girl
from the first day he discovered that she still clung
to Logan. But the old man had worked on and waited.
He had kept constantly sober. He would see and
would save this girl at all hazards.
And now, as the sorrowful remnant
of a once great tribe was being taken, like Israel
into captivity, he rushed forward to meet her, to hold
her hands, to press her to his heart, and bid her
be strong and hopeful.
The agent saw the old man and shouted
to the officer; the officer called to the soldiers the
line moved forward, the bayonets crossed the old man’s
breast as the prisoners passed on down the mountain,
and he saw the sad, pitiful face no more.
Keep the picture before you:
Chained together in long lines, marched always on
foot in single file, under the stars and stripes, officers
in uniforms, clanking swords the uniform
of the Union, riding bravely along the lines!
The two men who had done so much to get this desperate
Indian out of the way, remained behind to keep possession
of his house and land. They had not even the
decency to build a new cabin. They only broke
down the door, put up a new one with stouter hinges
and latch; and the long-coveted land was theirs.
As for old Forty-nine, all the light
had left the mountain and the valley now. Carrie,
whom he had cared for from the first almost, little
Stumps, whom he had found with her, hardly big enough
to toddle about both were gone. All
three gone. John Logan, whom he had taught to
read and taught a thousand things at his own cabin-fire
in the long snowy winters all these gone
together. It was as if the sun had gone down
for Forty-nine forever. There was no sun or moon
or stars, or any thing that shines in the mountains
any more for him. His had been a desolate life
all the long years he had delved away into the mountain
at his tunnel. No man had taken his hand in friendship
for many and many a year.
The man now nailed up his cabin door an
idle task, perhaps, for men instinctively avoided
it, and the trail of late took a cut across the spur
of the hill rather than pass by his door. But
somehow the old man felt that he might not be back
soon. And as men had kept away from that cabin
while he was there, he did not feel that they should
enter it in his absence.
One evening in the hot, sultry summer,
old Forty-nine rode down from the mountain into the
great valley, following the trail taken by the lines
of chained captives, and set his face for the Reservation.
At a risk of repetition, let us look
at this Reservation. The government had ordered
a United States officer, of the rank of lieutenant,
to set apart a Reservation for the Indians on land
not acquired and not likely to be desired by the white
settlers, and to gather the Indians together there
and keep them there by force, if force should be required.
This young man established a Reservation on the border
of a tule lake, shut in by a crescent of low sage-brush
hills. The Indian camp was laid out on the very
edge of this alkali lake. The crescent of sage-brush
hills of a mile in circuit, reaching back and almost
around the Reservation, was mounted at three points
by cannon, ready to sweep the camp below. On
this circuit of hills, healthy and pleasant enough
the officers and soldiers had their quarters.
Down in the damp, deadly valley, on the edge of the
alkali lake, the newly appointed Indian Agent, with
a tremendous appropriation to be expended in building
houses and establishing the Indians in their new homes,
built the village. It was made up of two rows
of low, one-story, one-room huts. Two big lamps
hung in the one street; and from lamp to lamp before
the doors of the little huts with earthen floors and
turf-covered roofs, paced soldiers night and day.
These houses were damp and dismal
from the first. Soon they began to be mouldy;
fungi and toadstools and the like began to grow up
in the corners and out of the logs. Little shiny
reptiles, in the long hot rainy days that followed,
and worms and all sorts of hideous vermin, began to
creep and crawl through these dreadful dens of death,
over the sick and dying Indians. Long slimy,
unnamed, and unknown worms crawled up out of the earth,
as if they could not wait for the victims to die.
The Indians were dying off by hundreds.
They went to the officers and complained. The
officers ordered a double guard to be set. And
that was all.
You marvel that these young lieutenants
could be so imperious and cruel? It does seem
past belief. But pardon just one paragraph of
digression while we recall the conduct of a younger
class only last year on the Hudson. To me the
real question before the courts in the Whitaker case
is not whether this quiet stranger, with a tinge of
black man’s blood in his veins, mutilated himself,
or no. But the real question is, did they or
did they not, by their determined and persistent persécutions
and insults, drive him in a fit of desperation to
do this in the hope of pulling down ruin on the heads
of all? This seems probable to me, and to me
is far more monstrous than if they had, in sudden anger,
cut his ears, or even cut his throat; and if these
young bloods could so treat a stranger there, standing
at such a manifest disadvantage, what would they not
be capable of when they are, for the first time, clothed
with a little brief authority, away out on the savage
edge of the world?
The water here, as the hot season
came on, was something dreadful. It was slimy
with alkali. Little black worms knotted and twisted
themselves together at the bottom of the cup, like
bunches of witch-woven horse-hair. The Indians
were dying of malaria. They were burning up with
the fever. And this was the only water these people,
who had been used to the fresh sweet snow-water of
the Sierras, could have.
What could they do? They appealed
to the officers. They were answered with insult:
“You must get used to it. You must get civilized.”
These dying Indians began to fight
and quarrel among themselves. Ah, they were very
wicked. They were quarrelsome as dogs; almost
as quarrelsome as Christians!
This was a small Paris in siege.
It was Jerusalem surrounded by Titus. Down there,
dying as they were, a savage Simon and a degenerate
John, as in Jerusalem of old, led their followers
against each other, even across their dead that lay
unburied in the mouldy death-pens and about their
dark and narrow doors, and slew each other as did God’s
chosen people when besieged by the son of Vespasian.
Then the men in brass and blue turned
the cannon loose on the howling savages, and shot
them into silence and submission.
John Logan, Carrie and little Stumps,
about this time had been brought with others from
the mountains to the Reservation. Logan insisted
on keeping the two children at his side and under
his protection. He was laughed at by agents,
He was kept chained. He was assigned
to a strong hut with gratings across the window or
rather the little loop-hole which let in the light.
The guards were kept constantly at his door. He
was entered on the books as a very desperate character,
a barn-burner, and possible murderer. And so
night and day he was kept under the constant watch
of the soldiers with fixed bayonets. True, he
was soon too weak to lift his manacled hands in strife.
But nevertheless he was kept chained and doubly guarded
in the little hut with gratings at the loop-hole.
Would he attempt to escape?
There were many broken fragments of
many broken tribes here. Tribes that had fought
each other to the death fought as Germans
and French have fought. And why not, pray?
Has not a heathen as good a right to fight a heathen
as has a Christian to fight a Christian? The only
difference is, we preach and profess peace; they,
Logan was alone in this damp hut and
deadly pen. He could hear the tramp of the soldiers;
he could see the long thin silver beams of the moon
reach through the gratings, reach on and on, around
and over and across the damp, mouldy floor, as if
reaching out, like God’s white fingers, to touch
his face, to cool his fever, and comfort him.
But he could see, hear nothing more. He was so
utterly alone! They would send an unfriendly
Indian in with his breakfast, foul and unfit for even
a well man, and a tin cup of water in the morning.
Soon after the doctor would call around, also.
Then he would see no face again till evening, when
more food and water would be brought. At last
the food was brought only in the morning. This
did not at all affect Logan; for from the first the
old pan containing his food had been taken away untouched.
The man was certainly dying. The guard and garrison
on the hill were waiting for this desperate character,
whose capture had cost so much time and money, to
attempt to escape.
From the first, even in the face of
the blunt refusal, John Logan had begged for the boy
to be brought him. He was certain the little fellow
was dying dying of desolation and a broken
About the sixth day, the man chanced
to hear from an Indian that the boy had quite broken
down, and, refusing all food, lay moaning in his corner
all the time, and all the time crying for John Logan
or Carrie. The man now entreated more persistently
than ever before. He promised the Doctor to eat,
to get well, if only the boy could be brought to him
and be permitted to spend his time there. For
he knew from what the Doctor said that he must soon
die if things kept on as they were. The weather
was growing hotter and hotter; the water and the food,
if possible, more repulsive than ever. Logan
could no longer walk across the pen in which he was
confined. He was so weak that he could not raise
his heavily manacled hands to his face.
After the usual diplomacy and delay,
the Doctor reported his condition, and also his earnest
desire for the boy, to the Indian Agent.
There was a consultation. Would
this crafty and desperate Indian attempt to escape?
Was not all this a ruse on his part? Would not
the United States imperil its peace and security if
this boy and this man were to be allowed together?
This mighty question oppressed the mind of the agent
in charge for a whole day. Then, after the Doctor
again urged the prisoner’s request for
man and boy both seemed to be dying this
man reluctantly consented. Would Logan now escape
after all? Could he ever get through these iron
bars and past the four soldiers pacing up and down
outside? Would he escape from the Reservation
And now, at the close of the hottest
and most dreadful day they had endured, an old Indian
woman, bent almost double, came shuffling in by permission
of the guard, and laid something on a pile of rushes
and willows in a corner of the pen across from where
John Logan lay.
The man heard a noise as of some one
breathing heavily, and attempted to rise. He
could hardly move his head. But in trying to support
himself to a sitting posture, he moved his hands,
and so rattled his manacles. This frightened
the superstitious old woman, and she ran away.
She had laid a little skeleton on the rushes in the
Logan with great effort managed to
sit up and look across into the corner that was now
being slowly illuminated by a beam of bright, white
moonlight, that stole down the wall toward the little
heap lying there, like some holy, white-hooded and
noiseless-footed nun. At last he saw the face.
It was that of little Stumps. The man sank back
where he lay. The sight was so pitiful, so dreadful
to see, that he forgot his own misery and was all
in tears for the little fellow who lay dying before
him. He forgot his own fearful condition at the
sight, and again attempted to rise and reach the little
heap that lay moaning in the corner. It was impossible;
he could not rise.
And how fared Carrie all this time?
Little better than the others. She was no longer
beautiful. And so she was left, along with a score
or more of other dying and desperate creatures, in
another part of the Reservation. She was not
permitted to see the boy. Least of all was she
permitted to see, or even hear from, John Logan.
Day by day she drooped and sank slowly but surely
down toward the grave.
But she did not fear death. She
had faced it in all forms before. And even now
death walked the place night and day, and she was not
afraid. She lay down at night with death.
She knew no fear at all. She constantly asked
for and wanted to see the helpless little boy, in the
hope that she might help or cheer him. But no
one listened to anything she had to say. Once,
after a very hot and horrible day, two of her companions
in captivity were found to be dead. The guard
who paced up and down between the huts was told of
it. But he said it was too late to have them
carted away that night. And so this girl lay there
all night by the side of the dead, and was not afraid.
Nay, she even wished that she too, when the cart came
in the morning, might be found silent and at peace.
And then she thought of those whom she loved, and reproached
herself for being so selfish as to want to die when
she still might be of use to them.
Let us escape from these dreadful
scenes as soon as possible. They are like a nightmare
And yet the mind turns back constantly
to John Logan lying there; the little heap of bones
in the corner; the pure white moonlight creeping softly
down the wall, as if to look into the little fellow’s
eyes, yet as if half afraid of wakening him.
Could Logan escape? Chains, double
guards, death all these at his door holding
him back, waiting to take him if he ever passed out
at that door. Mould on the floor, mould on the
walls, mould on the very blankets. The man was
burning to death with the fever; the boy, too, lying
over there. The boy moaned now and then.
Once Logan heard him cry for water. That warm,
slimy, wormy water! O, for one, just one draught
of cool, sweet water from the mountains their
dearly loved native mountains and die!
The moon rose higher still, round
and white and large; and at last, wheeling over the
camp of death, seemed to pause in pity and look full
in upon those two dying captives. It seemed to
soothe them both.
The little boy saw the moonbeam on
the wall, and was pacified. It looked like the
face of an old friend. It brought back the old
time; the life, the woods, the water above
all, the cool sweet waters of the mountains.
He seemed to know where he was. He lay still a
long time, and then felt stronger. He called
to John Logan. No answer. Then the feeble,
piping little voice lifted up and called as loud as
it could. No answer still. The boy crawled
from off the little pallet and tried to rise.
He sank down on the damp floor, and then tried to
crawl to John Logan. He tried to call again,
as he began to slowly crawl towards the other corner.
But the poor little voice was no louder than a whisper.
Very weak and very wild, and almost quite delirious,
the boy kept on as best he could. He at last
touched the blankets, the breast, and he drew himself
up just as the moon looked down on the pale upturned
face. Then, with a moan, a wild, pitiful cry,
the little fellow fell back on the damp mouldy floor.
John Logan was dead! Despite
the chains, the bars at the window, the double guard
at the door, the man had escaped at last!
The pitying moon did not hasten to
go. It lingered there, reached down along the
damp, mouldy floor to a little form of skin and bone;
and then, as if this moon-beam were the Savior’s
mantle spreading out to cover the white and stainless
soul, it covered the pinched and pitiful little face.
For the boy, too, lay dead.
Here was the end of two lives that
had known only the long dark shadows, only the deep
solitude and solemnity of the forest. Like tall
weeds that sometimes shoot up in dark and unfrequented
places, and that put forth strange, sweet flowers,
these two lives had sprung up there, put forth after
their fashion the best that is in man, and then perished
in darkness, unnamed, unknown.
Who were they? John Logan, it
is now whispered, was the son of an officer made famous
in the war annals of the world. The officer had
been stationed here in early manhood, gave his heart
as she believed to a daughter of a brave and powerful
chief, whose lands lay near where he was stationed
for a summer, and then? The old, old tale of betrayal
and desertion. The woman was disgraced before
her people. And so when they retreated before
the encroachments of the whites, she, being despised
and cast off by her people, remained behind waiting
the promised return of her lover. He? He
did not even acknowledge his child. This General,
who had taken the lives of a thousand men, had not
the moral courage to reach out a hand to this one
little waif which he had called into existence.
Do you know, there never was a dog
drowned in the pound so base and low that he would
not fight? Yet this brute-valor is largely admired,
even to this day, by Christian people. This man
could kill men, could risk his own life, but he could
not give this innocent child his name.
And so it was, the boy, after he had
learned to read, by the help of Forty-nine, and an
occasional missionary who sometimes preached to the
miners, and spent the pleasant summer months in the
mountains this boy, I say, who at last
had heard all the story of his father’s weakness
and wickedness from Forty-nine’s lips disdained
to use his name, but chose one famous in the annals
of the Indians. And this brief sketch is about
all there is to tell of the young man who lay dead
in chains, in the prison-pen of the Reservation.
“Civilization kills the Indian,”
said the Doctor that morning in his daily round, after
he had examined the dead bodies.
“He does not look so desperate,
after all,” said an officer, as he held his
nose with his thumb and finger, and leaned forward
to look at the dead Indian, while his other hand held
his sword gracefully at his side. And then this
officer, after making certain that this desperate
character was quite dead, drew forth his cigar-case,
struck a light, and climbing upon his horse, galloped
back to his quarters on the hill.
The Doctor, now left alone, stooped
and put back the long silken hair from the thin baby-face
of the boy, as the body was brought out and being
carried to the cart made to receive the dead, and remarked
that it was not at all like that of the other Indians.
Another young officer came by as the Doctor did this,
and his attention was called to the fact. The
officer tapped his sword-hilt a little, looked curiously
at the pitiful, pinched little face, and then ordering
the soldiers to move on with their burden, he turned
to the Doctor and remarked, as the two went back together
to their quarters on the hill, that “no doubt
it was the effect of the few days of civilization
on the Reservation that had made the boy so white;
pity he had died so soon; a year on the Reservation,
and he would have been quite white.”
Unlike other parts of the Union, here
the races are much mixed. Créoles, Kanakas,
Mexicans, Malays, whites, and blacks, have intermixed
with the natives, till the color line is not clearly
drawn. And in one case at least some orphan children
of white parentage were sent to the Reservation by
parties who wanted their property. Though I do
not know that the fact of white children being found
on a Reservation makes the sufferings of the savages
less or their wrongs more outrageous. I only
mention it as a frozen fact.
Carrie did not know of the desolation
which death had made in her life, till old Forty-nine,
who arrived too late to attend the burial of his dead,
told her. She did not weep. She did not even
answer. She only turned her face to the wall
as she lay in her wretched bed, burning up with the
fever, but made no sign. There was nothing more
for her to bear. She had felt all that human
nature can feel. She was dull, dazed, indifferent,
now to all that might occur.
To turn back for the space of a paragraph,
I am bound to admit that these dying Indians often
behaved very foolishly, and, in their superstitions
brought much of the fatality upon themselves.
For example, they had a horror of the white man’s
remedies, and refused to take the medicines administered
to them. Brought down from the cool, fresh mountains,
where they lived under the trees in the purest air
and in the most beautiful places, they at once fell
ready victims to malarial fevers. The white man,
by a liberal use of quinine and whisky, as well as
by careful diet, lived very well at the Reservation,
and suffered but little, yet had he been forced to
live in a pen, crowded together like pigs in a sty,
with the bad air, on the damp, mouldy ground, he had
died too, as fast perhaps as the Indian died.
The old man could do but little for
the dying girl. He was in bad odor with the officers;
they treated him with as little consideration almost
as if he too had been a savage. But he was constant
at her side; he brought a lemon which he had begged,
on his knees, as it were, and tried to make her a
cool drink of the slimy, wormy water. But the
girl could not drink it. She turned her face
once more to the wall, and this time, it seemed, to
One morning, before the sun rose,
she recovered her wandering mind and called old Forty-nine
to her side. She was surely dying; but her mind
was clear, and she understood perfectly all she said
or did. Her dark eyes were sunken deep in their
places, and her long, sun-browned hands were only
skin and bone. They fell down across her heaving
little breast, as if they were the hands of a skeleton.
Little wonder that her persecutors had turned away
with horror, perhaps with fear, from those deep, hollow
eyes, and the pitiful emaciated frame, that could no
longer lift itself where it lay.
The old man fell down on his knees
beside her and reached his face across to hers.
With great effort she lifted her two naked long, arms,
and wound them about the old man’s neck.
He seemed to know that death was near, as he reached
his face over hers. Over his cheeks and down his
long white beard the tears ran like rain and fell on
her face and breast.
“Forty-nine, father! Let
me call you father; may I? I never had any father
but you,” said the girl feebly, as the tears
fell fast on her face.
“Yes, yes, call me father.
Call me father, Carrie, my Carrie; my poor, dear,
dear little Carrie, do call me father, for
of all the world I have only you to love and live
for,” sobbed the old man as if his heart would
“Well, then, father, when I
die take me back, take me back to the mountains.
I want to hear the water the cool, sweet,
clear water, where I lie; and the wind in the trees the
cool, pure wind in the trees, father. And you
know the three trees just above the old cabin on the
hill by the water-fall? Bury me, bury me there.
Yes, there, where I can hear the cool water all the
time, and the wind in the trees. And and
won’t you please cut my name on the tree by the
water? My name, Carrie just Carrie,
that’s all. I have no other name just
Carrie. Will you? Will you do this for me?”
“As there is a God as
I live, I will!” and the old man lifted his face
as he bared his head, and looked toward heaven.
The girl’s mind wandered now.
She spoke incoherently for a few moments, and then
was silent. Her form was convulsed, her breast
heaved just a little, her helpless hands reached about
the old man’s neck as if they would hold him
from passing from her presence; they fell away, and
then all was still. It was now gray dawn.
This man’s heart was bursting
with rage and a savage sorrow. He was now stung
with a sense of awful injustice. His heart was
swelling with indignation. He took up the form
before him; up in his arms, as if it had been that
of an infant. He threw his handkerchief across
the face as he passed out, stooping low through the
dark and narrow doorway, and strode in great, long
and hurried steps down the street and over toward
the hills beyond, where his horse was tethered in the
long, brown grass.
As the old man passed the post on
the hill, where the officers slept under the protection
of loaded cannon, the guard stopped him with his bayonet.
“Halt! Where are you going?
And what have you there? Come, where are you
The old man threw back the handkerchief
as the guard approached, and the new sunlight fell
on the girl’s face.
“I am going to bury my dead.”
The guard started back. He almost
dropped his gun as he saw that face; then, recovering
himself, he bared his head, bowed his face reverently,
and motioned the old man on.
Forty-nine reached his horse in the
brown grass, laid his burden down, threw on the saddle,
drew the girth with sudden strength and energy, as
if for a long and desperate ride. Then resuming
his load, tenderly, as if it were a sleeping infant,
he vaulted into the saddle and dashed away for the
Sierras, that lay before him, and lifted like a city
of snowy temples, reared to the worship of the Eternal.
It was a desperate ride for life.
The girl’s long soft black hair was in the wind.
The air was purer, sweeter here; there was a sense
of liberty, of life, in this ride, right in the face
of the rising sun as it streamed down over the snowy
summits of the Sierras. Every plunge of the strong
swift mustang, brought them nearer to home, to hope,
to life. The horse seemed to know that now was
his day of mighty enterprise. Perhaps he was
glad to get away and up and out of that awful valley
of death; for he forged ahead as horse never plunged
before, with his strange double burthen, that had
frightened many a better trained mustang than he.
At last they began to climb the chapparal
hills. Then they touched the hills of pine, and
the breath of balsam had a sense of health and healing
in it that only the invalid who is dying for his mountain
home can appreciate.
The horse was in a foam; the day was
hot; the old man was fainting in the saddle.
Water! Water at last! Down
a steep, mossy crag, hung with brier and blossom,
came tumbling, with loud laughter like merry girls
at play, a little mountain stream. Cool as the
snow, sweet as the blossom, it fell foaming in its
pebbly bed at the base of the crag, under the deep,
cool shadows of the pines.
The old man threw himself from his
horse, and beast and man drank together as he held
the girl in his arms, where the spray dashed down
like a holy baptismal from the very hand of God upon
her hair and face. The hands clutched, the breast
heaved a little, the lips moved as if to drink in
the cool sweet water. Her eyes feebly opened.
And then the old man bore her back under the pines,
and laid her on the soft bed of dry sweet-smelling
Then clasping his hands above her,
as he bent his face to hers, he uttered his first
prayer the first for many and many a weary
year. It was a prayer of thanksgiving, of gratitude.
The girl would live; and he would now have something
to live for to love.
It had been a strange weird sight,
that old man, his long hair in the wind, his strong
horse plunging madly ahead, all white with foam, climbing
the Sierras as the sun climbed up. The girl lay
in his arms before him, her long dark hair all down
over the horse’s neck, tangled in the horse’s
mane, catching in the brush and the wild vines and
leaves that hung over the trail as they flew past.
And oftentime back over his shoulder
the old man threw his long white beard and looked
back. He felt, he knew, that he was pursued.
He fancied he could all the time hear the sound of
Perhaps if his eyes had been gifted
with the vision of the prophets of old, he would indeed
have seen the pursuer. That pursuer was also an
old man, and not much unlike himself; an old man with
a scythe death. Death following fast
from the hot valley of pestilence, where he, death,
kept, if possible, closer watch than the Agents, that
no Indian ever returned to his native mountains.
But death gave up the pursuit, and turned back from
the moment the baptismal fountain touched the girl’s
fevered forehead. At last the old man who held
her in his arms, rose up, rode on and down to his
cabin in the twilight, all secure from pursuit of
Agents, death, or any one. The girl, quite conscious,
opened her eyes and looked around on the tall, nodding
pine trees, that stood in long, dusky lines, as if
drawn up to welcome her return to the heart of the