A CALIFORNIA GIRL
BY EDWARD ELDRIDGE
The Abbey Press PUBLISHERS
114 FIFTH AVENUE NEW YORK
Copyright, 1902 by The Abbey Press
CHAPTER PAGE Prologue 5
I. Clara Lawton 7
II. Ranch Talk 9
III. The Marriage of Charles Herne 21
IV. Julia Hammond 25
V. Ben West 35
VI. Stella Wheelwright 39
VII. Penloe 43
VIII. Ben West's Experience in the Klondike 54
IX. An Arrival 63
X. Mrs. Marston 70
XI. Saunders' Customers 85
XII. Penloe's Sermon 88
XIII. Return of Ben West 104
XIV. Five Years After Marriage 113
XV. A Conversation on the Porch 116
XVI. Tiestan 124
XVII. Penloe's Original Address 143
XVIII. Letters Received by Penloe 163
XIX. Mrs. West Relates Her Dream 170
XX. In the Mountains 174
XXI. A Wedding in Orangeville 184
XXII. The Herne Party 201
XXIII. A Visit from Barker and Brookes 218
XXIV. Out of Bondage 233
This book is not written for the specialist, but for that restless, seething multitude known as "the masses." It is written for busy people, for workers, such as the shop-girl, the factory-girl, the clerk, the mechanic, the farmer, the merchant, and the busy housewife; but ministers, lawyers, and doctors may find food for thought within its covers.
My heart goes out to God's secular army, composed of those who have neither time nor opportunity to go through learned treatises and scholarly essays, yet whose natures are hungering for something better than they see and hear about them. So I have tried to weave into this story the best and latest thought that has been given to the world, believing it to be what the workers most need in the performance of their daily duties, and what will help them out of bondage.
People whose reading and observation have been limited may think that I have drawn on my imagination altogether for most of the material in this book. I can assure them that such is not the case; much of it is real.
In regard to Penloe, there have been men who had greater spiritual gifts than he, and I call to mind one, still living, whose illuminated countenance and remarkable personality are superior to his. In Penloe is seen the interior life of the Hindu combined with the best practical thought of the West.
Let a youth or maiden commence to live the life described by the man who won the heart of the "Oriental Lady," related by Penloe in his "Original Address," and he or she will then realize the facts which have made the characters of Penloe and Stella.
To any sensitive, fastidious reader I would say, it becomes an author, in order to be true to life, to present certain characters as they really are, and put into their mouths the language they actually use.
Whatever there is of error in the book is the result of egoism; whatever of truth and love is the work of Him who has brought me up out of the marshes and lowlands, and caused me to drink at the crystal fountains of the hills. THE AUTHOR.
A CALIFORNIA GIRL.
"Well, dear," said Mrs. Lawton to her daughter Clara, "the home you will enter to-morrow as a bride is very different from the home that I entered as your father's bride. Our home was a log cabin in the Michigan woods, with only an acre of clearing, where the growing season is only about four months long and the winter eight. Snow lay on the ground six months of the year, from one to three feet deep. In our cabin, we had the bare necessaries and your father had to work very hard cutting cord-wood for a living; but we were very happy, for we had love and health; and need I say, dear, what a joy it was to us when you entered our cabin as a passenger on the journey of life.
"My wish for you now is, that you may find as much happiness in the companionship of Charles Herne as I have had in your father's, and as much joy in the advent of a little one in your home as I did in you."
"You have always been one of the kindest and best mothers a girl ever had," said Clara, warmly.
"I have tried to be," said Mrs. Lawton, simply.
Clara Lawton was twenty-two years of age, prepossessing in appearance, with a bright, happy expression. Her nature was deep and affectionate, her tastes domestic and social. When she was twenty, Mr. and Mrs. Lawton had moved to California and settled in the pretty little city of Roseland, which nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.
At a camping party Clara had first met Charles Herne, and the outcome of that meeting was that to-morrow would be Clara's wedding day.
Who can describe the thoughts that filled the mind of Clara the night previous to her marriage? Who, indeed, can describe the thoughts that fill the mind of any maiden as she lays her head on her pillow the night previous to her marriage?
All her life she had been taught to consider this the most important event of her life, the acme of happiness, the end and aim of her womanhood. The thought of her own little world and the decrees of the great world at large alike hold her to that belief. That she is a soul in process of development; that marriage is only one step towards something higher; that the true union is the joining of hands to work for humanity, are doctrines which would sound strange in her ears. She feels that great change that is coming into her life, and her thoughts are in accordance with her character and circumstances. One bride may be filled with the sadness of unwilling acquiescence, another with the joy of complete absorption, a third with the excitement incident upon an entire change of environment. Clara Lawton's sweet nature prompted only tender thoughts of the parents she was leaving, strong love for the man who was to be her husband and the desire to be a true wife and make their union a happy one.
The road going north from the beautiful little city of Roseland to the mountains is known as the Walnut road. Six miles from Roseland, on the Walnut road, is "Treelawn," the home of Charles Herne. A modern two-story house is built well back from the road, and between the house and road are lawns decorated with flower-beds, some tall oleanders, several banana plants, and choice varieties of roses, vines, and shrubbery. On one side of the house there is a thriving orange and lemon orchard; on the other fig, almond, and walnut trees; while back of the house are other extensive orchards of the finest fruits. The house is very comfortably furnished, much better than most houses in the country; its arrangement being very convenient and modern.
Charles Herne, the owner of this property was, at the time our story opens, a young man of twenty-eight, tall, well built, with a pleasant open countenance which was a true index of his character. He always looked closely after his business interests, but at the same time allowed his generous, kindly spirit full scope.
When Charles was eighteen his father thought it would be well for him to go out to work a year or so on other ranches, that he might gain more by experience, get more ideas and know what it was to depend on himself and make his own way in the world. After an absence of two years, came the welcome summons home. On the evening of his return, when Charles and Mr. Herne were seated comfortably on the porch, the father said:
"Well, Charles, relate some of your experiences while working on different ranches."
"Though I did not speak of it in my letters, father," said Charles, "I have had a pretty tough time of it since I left home."
"I thought so," said his father, "and I wish you had written particulars."
"I should have done so," replied Charles, "but I wanted to see if there was any sand in me and what staying qualities I possessed. Well, the first job I struck was at the Funson ranch, driving a six-mule team plowing. The leaders were the most contrary animals that ever had harness on, the swings never would keep in their places, and the near wheeler was so ugly that Pete, the man who had been driving the team, said, 'the Devil couldn't hold a candle to him for pure meanness.' He told me he used to swear at them all day and then lie awake nights cursing himself for being such a fool as to drive them. He said, one morning he took the team out to work, and after he had been working them about an hour, the off mule began to cut up, backing, bucking, and refusing to pull with the near one. At last Pete lost his temper and began laying the whip on him, saying he would 'whale the stuffing out of him'; then the mule got mad, broke the harness and the whole team became unmanageable and got away from him. He let them go and started toward the house, pouring out a steady stream of oaths as he went. Just at the gate he met the boss and greeted him with, 'I'll see that team in Hell before I'll ever draw another line over their backs.' Funson asked him what was the trouble, and Pete said, 'that off mule has been raising hell, and the Devil has got into 'em all, breaking the harness and running away.' The boss told Pete not to make a fool of himself, but to go back to the field and get his team together. Pete said, 'I'll see you in Hell before I'll ever touch that team again. You haven't a well broke team on the ranch for a man to handle. You buy a lot of half-broken, bucking, balky teams because you can get 'em cheap. You don't care how much hell it gives a man to drive 'em.' Funson told him to go and hunt up some cattle, and sent another man to drive the mules. It's an actual fact, father, that if a man had told the boss in polite and correct language what had happened to the team, he would have stared in utter astonishment and surprise."
"Quite true, my son, quite true," said the old gentleman.
"The man that took Pete's place," continued Charles, "drove the team two days and that let him out. Then I came along and got the job. Didn't Pete laugh when he came through the field with a bunch of cattle and saw me trying to take the contrariness out of the leaders. He called out, 'Give 'em hell, give 'em hell!'
"When I came up to the barn at night, Pete was there putting up his broncho, and he greeted me with, 'Well, Charles, how do you like your job?'
"I said I wasn't stuck on it.
"'It's hell, ain't it?' said he; then added, 'the only way you can ever get that team to pull steady is to get right in and cuss 'em good; they are broke to cussing.'
"After supper the boys got together in the barn and played cards for two hours. When they were tired of card-playing, they interested each other by telling yarns about experiences with women, each striving to make his story more thrilling than the last, and this entertainment continued until they were ready to spread out their blankets and sleep.
"It is pretty cold sleeping in a barn December nights, even in our California climate; but, as you know, there are few ranches where the men are allowed to sleep in the house.
"I had to be up before it was light in the mornings and clean off those mules, feed and harness them, and then have my breakfast. After breakfast, just as it was getting light, we started to work. The mornings were very cold. About dark I would bring my team in and by the time I had unharnessed them, fed them, and had my supper, I was ready for bed.
"After a man has put all his energy into a long, hard, tedious day's work, he feels more like a worn-out old plug than a man. He has no surplus force left to expend in elevating mental pursuits, for it has been all exhausted in severe physical labor.
"Such labor continually kept up, has a tendency to dull what few good aspirations a man may have had to bring his animal nature under control. Therefore, after such a day's work, if he has any desires, they are those of the brute, and it is no wonder that men should want something of a sensational, exciting nature at night to keep their minds off themselves and relieve the monotony of their toil.
"Well, father, I did lots of thinking when night came, about such subjects, and came to some very decisive conclusions; but to return to my story.
"One night when I was taking the harness off him, the near leader kicked me on the leg. The pain was so severe that I scarcely slept any that night. They say a mule will be good and gentle in the barn three hundred and sixty-four days in the year, for the sake of getting a chance to kick a man on the three hundred and sixty-fifth day, and I believe it is so.
"After dinner one day, we had just left the house when one of the men said, 'Didn't the old woman give the boss hell, this noon? I tell you she's got a temper.' 'Yes,' said Pete, 'but she's not very old, not forty yet. She's always firing up about something; she keeps him in hell most of the time. The trouble is,' continued he, 'he's got nothing broke on his ranch; his mules are not broke, his broncho cows are not broke, his wife is not broke, and the old cuss himself is not broke.'
"After enduring all the torment and petty aggravation that a man could stand for three months, I left and went to work at the White Oak Ranch. The boss there set me to grubbing out oaks, and I can assure you it was a relief after driving those mules.
"The third night I was at this place, I was the last to join the men at the barn, and when I got there I found the teamsters, George and Harry, making the air blue with oaths. They were giving it to the boss because he would not get new harnesses, the old ones being mended all over with wire and baling rope and the lines rotten. Harry's leaders had broken their lines twice that day, it seemed, and he had nearly lost control of them in consequence. 'The old fool keeps a-promising and a-promising to get new harness,' said George, 'but he never gets it; and he hasn't got a harness on his whole darn ranch that's worth a whoop in hell.' 'My old plugs broke their harness five times to-day,' said Harry. 'Since I've been here, the teams have done more damage and lost more than would pay for a new harness ten times over.'
"When I had been there about a month, the hot weather began to come on, and the feed to dry up, and I had to help clean the ditches out, ready for irrigating. It was a big job, so many willows to grub out, and it took much longer to finish it because we were so constantly called away to drive out cattle and hogs that had broken into the orchard and grain fields. You see, the feed was getting scarce, there was more stock than there was feed for, and the fences were very shaky. The boss kept talking about new fences, but he never had them built, he was satisfied with patching the old ones.
"Well, we got the ditches cleaned out and commenced to irrigate, using all the water we could get. I was one to help irrigate and look after the ditches. The work would have been really pleasant if we could only have kept the band of hogs out. They would get in after the green feed and break the ditches, causing the water to wash the soil away. That band of hogs began to torment me as much as the mules had done. They were so hungry you could not keep them out. I didn't blame them, poor, lank, starved creatures, for getting in and getting something to eat. I would have done the same in their case.
"At last the boss thought he would shut them up in the barnyard and feed them. Well, he had forty starved hogs shut up, and he gave them about as much food each day as ten hogs could eat. Of course, they became like a pack of wolves, and it was all a man could do to get through the yard. Forty hogs would come all around him, squealing and yelling as though they were being butchered, and you had to keep moving lively or they would bite your legs. Henderson, one of the men, told me they ate up four cats and three kittens and more chickens than had been on the table for a year.
"One Sunday morning, after breakfast, I commenced to wash my shirt and overalls, when Henderson called to me, 'Cattle in the peach orchard!' Now, at the further end of the peach orchard there were a hundred nice young trees, covered with tender foliage, looking fine. It seems the cattle got into the orchard in the night and ate all the growth off them, so they looked just like sticks. It really was a shame to see such fine trees damaged in that way, but the boss would not take time to build a good fence around them. That afternoon I went to lie down in the barn; it was hot, the mosquitoes and flies were getting in their best licks at me. I was trying to sleep, and just as I was about succeeding Henderson called out: 'Charles, get your shovel and come quick.' 'What's the matter?' I asked. 'Why, the hogs have played the devil and broke the ditches and the water is running all over Hell.' Mad as I felt about being disturbed, I could not help smiling within at the thought of water running all over hell, and I said to him: 'If those hogs can flood hell with water they ought to be sent to a dime museum.' We went on in silence till we reached the orchard gate, when Henderson said: 'Do you know, I would rather take a licking than open that gate, for it's a back-breaker. It hasn't got a hinge, and is as heavy as an elephant; you have to lift it up and drag it along the ground. It takes more time to hang a gate that way with a band of iron to a post or a bent stick in the place of the iron, than it would to buy two pairs of hinges; and yet that is the only kind he has on the place. It seems as if everything on the place was devised to make work as hard, unhandy, and wrong-end-to as possible.'
"That evening when we had gathered together as usual, Harry opened the conversation by saying: 'What a racket there was to-night at supper! It seems to me the whole family is raising hell all the time, but I don't blame the old woman much for giving the boss a jawing about throwing his old broken harness on her bedroom floor, when he came home in the light rig this afternoon.' 'He is always doing such things,' said George. 'The front room is more like an old store-room than anything else. He don't deserve a house; that man ought to live in a barn.'
"Another of the men said: 'If ever there was any attraction between the boss and his wife, it has long ago disappeared; and the children! What a quarreling gang they are.' Then they proceeded to discuss at length each member of the family, and I must say, father, that although I had become accustomed to much of the roughness of the life of these ranches, I was so shocked over some of the things they said that it took me a long time to get over it. I was not surprised that the boys should be little reprobates, because I didn't see how they could be otherwise, living with such a crew of men around them all the time, but was shocked to hear what they said about the girls. There were two of them: one fifteen years old, the other eighteen. Rather pretty girls they were, too. I had talked with them several times and they seemed modest and quite shy with me. I hadn't seen them much with the other fellows. Well, father, when those men had finished talking, they hadn't left those girls a shred of what the world calls a reputation, and the worst of it was that their stories were for the most part true, as I afterward ascertained. I could scarcely speak to the girls for several days; for somehow one expects more of a girl than of a boy, though I don't know why one should," he added, thoughtfully. "I'm sure I'd want to be as pure as the girl I married.
"Well, I studied over the thing a good deal, and I finally came to this conclusion: Those girls were not bad; they were simply curious. They led such narrow, cramped lives that there was nothing for their active brains to feed on, so they naturally turned to the most interesting thing at hand, themselves, their physical selves. A superabundance of vitality overshadowed their small mental equipment. In the absence of suitable entertainment the physical part of their being had fatally asserted itself. Ignorant of consequences, they sinned innocently. I felt sorry for them, and during the rest of my stay there, I tried to give them some glimpses of a more intellectual life.
"Well," continued Charles, "I stayed in that hell over a year, then left and went to the Lonsdale ranch. There we did not use the barn to sleep in; each man had a bunk to himself in the bunk-house. The interior of the bunk-house was decorated with several choice works of art, one representing three young ladies, in abbreviated costumes, enjoying wine and cigarettes; another showed several men lifting from the water the nude form of a beautiful young woman who had committed suicide; while a third was an exciting picture of a jealous woman, in a much torn garment, holding a pistol to the head of her faithless lover. Some pictures of Fitzsimmons, Jeffries, and Sharkey also adorned the walls. Much time was spent in the evenings discussing the various merits and demerits of the pugilists. I was often surprised at the able and exhaustive manner in which they would handle the subject, and showed some remarkable ability in treating of the qualities of the prize fighting gentlemen. If the same amount of brain power had been turned in other directions, how useful to their country those men might have become. I do not wish to convey the idea that they were always handling such great and momentous topics as the fighting qualities of those noted gentlemen. Very often, by way of variation, they would talk of those feminine types of beauty which appeared so conspicuously in the Police Gazette and the Sporting Times.
"It was astonishing the amount of information they displayed concerning women, what retentive memories they had, and how very familiar they were with the subject of woman, her ways, and her sex nature. Their mental horizon was bounded on the north by the affairs of the ranch, on the east by the boss and his domestic concerns, on the south by woman as manifested by the various phases of her sexual nature, and on the west by the gentry of the prize ring. Within these boundaries was their mental world, their minds never reaching out and beyond these subjects.
"The reading matter on the table was the sensational weekly papers.
"I remember one Sunday to my surprise I saw one of the men reading a book. On looking at the title, it read: 'The Life of Rattlesnake Pete,' and another man had a book lying on his blankets, entitled 'The Adventures of Coyote Bill.' Gambling was their favorite pastime. It was one round of card playing nights and Sundays. When I first went to work on the Lonsdale ranch, the boss put me to cutting oak wood. After I had been at work awhile, he came along and told me that I did not hold the handle of my axe right. The next day he found fault with me for the way I used a cross-cut saw. A week later I was piling brush to burn, and the way I laid the brush did not suit him. He was everlastingly blowing about himself and telling how he did things. I did not seem to be able to do anything right. One night after supper we had all assembled in the bunk-house, when Parsons said: 'I tell you boys, hell went pop this morning. Plaisted gave the boss hell because he commenced to growl at him for the way he held the lines. Plaisted told him he was the greatest old crank that ever run a ranch, and that the devil himself couldn't suit him. He left the team right in the field and called for his money. I tell you the boss's face was as red as a beet. He had to give Simmons six dollars a month more to take the team.'
"Hendricks said, 'I gave the boss a piece of my mind this morning when I tried to open the gate leading into the garden. It is a rod long, and as heavy as hell; the whole weight was on the ground. I told him any man that had such a gate as that on his ranch never ought to own a ranch. I said, 'Why in the devil don't you get some hinges and hang your gates?' Ambrose spoke up, and said, 'Sometimes the boss seems pleasant enough, but he does like to find fault and tell you what big things he has done. To hear him talk you would think that his ranch was the only ranch that was worth anything. He told his visitors to-day that his place would pay the interest on one hundred thousand dollars. You know, boys, it wouldn't sell for twelve thousand.'
"Parsons said: 'The boss has been growling at me ever since I have been with him, but I pay no attention to him. He thinks if you don't do a thing as he does, you don't do it right, and any idea that does not originate in his brain is not worth anything. To hear him talking to that lady visiting here to-day you would think he was a perfect man living on a model ranch.' I will never forget how mad Hendricks was with the boss one Saturday evening. We had just come from supper when Hendricks lit his pipe and gave vent to his feelings, as follows: 'If I had had a four-year-old club at the supper table to-night, I felt so boiling mad that I would have knocked hell out of him. To hear him go on a nagging and fault-finding with that little woman of his. There she has been a-working hard all day, set three good meals, doing the churning and all the housework besides; and all she gets for her patient labor is a growl.' 'Yes,' said another man, 'she has been working like a slave all the week and to-morrow is Sunday, and it will be to her just the same as any other day.' Hendricks said: 'The boss thinks more of his old plugs than he does of his wife. See what care he takes of his horses. One lot is resting while the other lot is working; then those that have been working are put in the pasture, and those that have been resting are put to work. But he never seems to think that poor worn-out woman of his needs a rest and change.'
"Parsons added: 'That is not the worst of it. His wife is a cook-stove slave, and a wash and butter-making machine. It does not matter how tired she is or otherwise physically unfit, he demands his marital privileges as a right, regardless of her wishes or protests. I know it is a fact, for he brags about it.' Parsons continued: 'When a boy I used to hear preachers talk about hell, and I could not see what was the use of sending millions and billions of people to eternal torments, so I thought there ought to be no such place as hell; but if there is a hell, then I think the boss deserves to go there.'
"An intelligent young man from the East by the name of Travers joined in the conversation by saying: 'When I was a boy I remember how serious my good father felt because he thought a neighbor had died without his sins being forgiven, and had gone to hell. At that time the word hell used to have some meaning on the minds of the people, and produced on my mind a feeling of fear and awe. But how different it is now. If a minister was to preach now about all wicked people going to hell, it would produce no more effect on their minds than water on a duck's back, for the word hell is now a spent thunderbolt, used uselessly by the mouths of so many. It may be well for theologians to know (if any of them believe in hell as preached) whether or not they have got through discussing hell; their views have no weight whatever on the minds of the masses, for they are all the time making light, fun, and sport of the word hell.' 'That's so,' joined in the men, and they all laughed.
"I had been at the Lonsdale ranch about three or four months when I received your letter asking me to return home."
"Well, Charles," said the old man Herne, "if I had not worked out for several years on ranches, I should think your stories slightly colored, but from my own experience I should say the half has not been told."
"That is so, father," said Charles. "I have not stated what I have seen and heard half strongly enough."
The father said: "When I bought this ranch, the first thing I did was to build solid fences, raise lots of feed and hang gates on hinges so that a child could open them with its finger. I always make my plans so that I have more feed than stock. I did not set out an orchard till the fences were finished, so that nothing could get in. I made it a point to avoid losing a lot of work through bad management. My hired men have always had a good house to sleep in, each man having a room to himself. The house is cool in the summer through having double porches all round it, and warm in winter because it is well furnished. Men and teams never go out to work in the winter till the sun is up. Every man sits down to supper at six, during the summer months, and they have two hours' nooning. What is the result? I have always had the best men to work for me, and they never want to leave. Each man is put upon his honor, and takes as much interest in doing his best for me as if the place belonged to him. Everything goes on the same at the ranch when I am away as when I am there. No man has used anything but the most respectful language to me. I have heard no swearing at teams. In fact, I have heard no swearing or low stories at all. I never would allow it. Every day the work is done well and without friction."
"Yes," said his son, "I used to think your place was heaven while I was away."
Two years from the time this conversation took place, the father died, leaving the property and some money to his son, Charles, and seven thousand dollars to his daughter Lena.
Charles Herne was not a student of political economy nor a reader of sociology, but what he did was done through an innate sense of justice, with a spirit of generosity, and the munificent treatment of his men was the manifestation of his noble, free spirit. To-morrow will be the greatest event so far in the life of Charles Herne, for he brings to his home his bride.
THE MARRIAGE OF CHARLES HERNE.
Two miles from the Herne ranch, toward Roseland, lived the Holbrooke family.
On the afternoon of the day which was of such importance in the lives of two of our characters, Mr. Holbrooke returned from a survey of his orchard, to be met by his wife with a face full of mysterious importance.
"I've got some news, James," she said. "Now guess what it is—
"Sophia has heard from one of her old beaux," said her husband immediately.
"Get a pail of water and throw it over your dad, Sophia," said Mrs. Holbrooke. "He's always joking you about your beaux. Well," she added, "I see I'll have to tell you, you'll never guess. Charles Herne has just gone by here with a bran-new suit of clothes, a bran-new matched team, a bran-new harness, a bran-new buggy, and a bran-new wife. There! What do you think of that?"
"Why," said her husband, "I think you may see them go by here some day with a brand-new baby."
"The idea of your talking that way before Sophia; that's the way with you men, your mind is always run on such things."
"Well," said her husband, "I don't think such a subject is very foreign to your mind or Sophia's either."
"Sophy, let's you and I take your dad and throw him. We can do it," said Mrs. Holbrooke.
Since the newly-married couple that caused so much interest in the Holbrooke family had gone by, Sophia had laid down her novel, "The Banker's Daughter," and was gazing dreamily out of the window. The young lady being of a rather romantic turn of mind, had just been saying to herself, "What a perfect day to be married. Will everything be as beautiful on my wedding day, I wonder?"
"Well," said Mrs. Holbrooke, "whoever the lady may be, she has got a good man and a lovely home."
"Yes," said her husband, "a good job was done when Charles Herne came into the world."
"Don't talk so rough, James. I never saw a man like you in all my life," said his wife.
"The old man Herne had a long head on him when he sent Charles out into the world to cut his own fodder," added Holbrooke, reflectively.
"Yes," said his wife, "those hired men of his wouldn't be acting like gentlemen the way they are now if Charles had not gone out and rustled."
"Two years ago," he continued, "he devoted the entire proceeds from his orchard for one year, after paying expenses, to fixing up the cottage for his men. He had it painted and papered; had good carpets laid down on the floors; large mirrors and pictures on the walls; put in two large bathrooms with hot and cold water; a billiard table, lots of small games, all the leading papers and magazines. Bought them a fine piano, also an organ, and a lot of music, sacred and sentimental. He also bought a fine matched team with a two-seated buggy, and said: 'Boys, I want you to keep this team for your own riding out evenings, Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Take care of it among yourselves, and I hope you all may have many pleasant rides. There isn't a team in the country gets more grooming than those colts, and not a man has been known to overdrive them. I never see anything like it, those hired men at Herne's live and act as if they were members of some gentlemen's club. They always wash their hands in warm water in the winter, and are particular about keeping their finger-nails clean. On Sundays to see those men dressed up, you would think they had never seen dirt. You don't see Herne's men on a Sunday morning spending their time in washing overalls, shirts, and socks. Herne keeps a Chinaman to do that in the week day. Why, if I was to go and offer one of those men a steady job at ten dollars a month more than Herne pays, he would turn his nose up at me. You can't get a man to leave; they stick to him closer than a brother. He has ten standing applicants to fill the next vacancy he may have. And did you ever see a place where men worked so orderly, harmoniously, and thoroughly as they do on the Herne ranch? You don't see any of the trees in his orchard barked through having careless, mad teamsters while harrowing and cultivating. Herne's horses, harness, and machinery look better and last more than twice as long, because the men take great interest in caring for them. It's not all go out of pocket with Herne in what he does for his men. Some pretty big returns come back."
"Yes," said Mrs. Holbrooke, "Lena Herne told me that her brother and herself were sitting on the porch one evening, and she was talking to Charles about the men and what he had done for them, when he said, 'Lena, I would not give up the love and respect which these men have for me, and I for them, and the quiet, peaceful understanding that exists between us, for all the ranches in the county.' She said that she and her brother very often spent their evenings with the men in games, singing and a general social time, and there are lots of young people in the neighborhood that call on them to play croquet and lawn-tennis of a Saturday afternoon or to spend a pleasant evening. Just think," continued Mrs. Holbrooke, "those men at Herne's only work five and a half days in the week, and those days are short ones. I tell you, Holbrooke, those men have a far better time than you do, though you own a ranch and they don't; you are a slave compared to them."
"Some of the men say that Herne don't talk Christianity to them, but he puts some mighty big Christian principles in practice," said her husband.
It was as Sophia had mentally said, "A perfect day to be married on."
The newly married couple, as they journeyed from Roseland to Treelawn, found the sun just warm enough to be pleasant, for it was in the early part of March. The road was in fine condition, for there was neither mud nor dust. A gentle breeze wafted the sweet scented odors from the flower-decked fields, with their carpets of green. All nature seemed smiling, for was it not its mating season? What was all the chattering going on in the trees and the songs in the bushes, but the feathery tribe making love to each other. It seemed as if on this day all Nature was singing one grand anthem with a hallelujah chorus.
As the happy pair looked at the scene, they forgot for the moment their own happiness in the contemplation of Nature's grandeur.
Before them rose the variegated hills of the Sierras, the sun bringing out the brilliant coloring of the rocks; higher behind these the glittering snow-covered peaks, and above all the matchless blue of the heavens.
To them the world seemed indeed all joy and beauty, and a home together, a paradise. And so they entered upon the new life.
The settlement in which Treelawn was located was called Orangeville, and covered a large area of country. It had a general store—post-office, church, school-house, hall, blacksmith-shop, and two saloons.
For reasons best known to himself, Charles Herne had kept his wedding a secret from all his neighbors, and it was really more by intuition than by actual knowledge that Mrs. Holbrooke came into possession of the fact.
On the morning after the wedding, Sam Gilmore, like a good husband, had quietly risen and dressed himself, leaving his spouse to finish her nap. After seeing that the fire in the kitchen stove was burning brightly and the tea-kettle set on, he went to the barn. After a short time he returned to the house, and putting his head into the bedroom, said with some excitement, "Sarah, I've got some news for you. Charles Herne has got him a wife."
When Sarah Gilmore received that piece of astounding intelligence, the mental shock seemed to produce paralysis, for the garment she was about to put on remained suspended in the air as she exclaimed: "Well, I swan! I thought he was married to his hired pets. How did you hear the news, Sam?"
"Nettleton told me. He was over to see if I would let him have the bays to-day."
"Did you let them go?" asked his wife.
"No, I told him I was going to use them on the ranch to-day," said Sam, closing the door and going back to the barn.
As Sam went out of the bedroom door the paralysis went, too, for no woman ever moved more quickly in putting on the rest of her garments than did Sarah Gilmore that morning.
There was a very good breakfast waiting for Sam when he came in from the barn, and above all Sarah had made him a plate of light, rich batter-cakes, which he always relished very much. They were set a little way into the oven with the door open, to keep warm, his good wife having buttered and sugared them, all ready for Sam to pour rich cream over them.
After breakfast, as Sam was on his way to the barn, he said to himself, "My! Sarah is a fine cook. I would be willing to bet ten dollars she can knock the spots out of Charles Herne's wife in cooking; and she is so cheerful while getting up good meals, and don't make any fuss about it, either."
Sam and the bays worked well that morning in doing a little light work.
Sarah lost no time in putting the breakfast dishes into the dish-pan, but instead of washing them immediately, as was her way, she was seen going over a well-beaten trail toward a house where smoke was coming out of the chimney. When she opened the door, she found Mrs. Green just wiping a mush-bowl which had been used at breakfast.
"Well, Carrie," said Sarah Gilmore to Mrs. Green, "what do you think has happened? Charles Herne has come home with a bride."
"There, now, Sarah, you surprise me," said Mrs. Green.
"I guess every body is surprised," said Mrs. Gilmore.
After a few minutes' more conversation, she hurried back to wash her dishes and get dinner.
When Sam came to dinner he found his wife in the best of spirits, with a big dinner for him to enjoy. Sam's alimentive faculty being in a state of great activity, he ate heartily, finishing up with two pieces of Sarah's extra rich peach cobbler. After dinner Sam went to the fire-place where he sat rocking himself, and soon was enjoying a smoke. He had been smoking about five minutes when his wife said: "I really like the smell of the tobacco you smoke, but if you were to smoke such stinking stuff as Horace does, I would get up and leave you. But yours does smell real sweet."
"Horace Green is too stingy to smoke good tobacco," said Sam, after which remark he brought his hand to the side of his leg each time he let the smoke curl out of his mouth, feeling well satisfied with himself and all the world beside.
Did you ever have the experience of passing through a large barnyard, and going from one end to the other with a lean, hungry hog after you, yelling and squealing, trying to eat you up by snapping first at one of your legs and then at the other? You kick at him with first one foot, saying, "Sooy, sooy;" then you, with the other foot, kick backwards, saying, "Sooy, sooy." And after going through this performance many, many times, you reach the gate and shut it between yourself and the hog, leaving him on the inside, amidst deafening noise made by his hungry squeals. After you have left, he does his best to tear down the fence, so strong are the pangs of hunger in him.
A few minutes after that you take him a pail of rich buttermilk, then a large pail of fresh ripe figs, and two dozen ears of sweet corn. You go out in that barnyard an hour afterwards and you don't hear any hog noise. You don't see a hog even moving, for he is lying down in the greatest state of quiet. He will let you do just what you have a mind to do to him. You can scratch him and you will find him good-natured and he seems to enjoy your attentions. He is in such a contented, happy state, that you can roll him or do anything you wish to him.
So it is with some men. By making love to them through their stomachs, you will find them in as happy a frame of mind as Sam Gilmore was as he finished his pipe. His wife saw that he was taking his last puffs, so she said, "Sam, can I have the bays to go over to the Henshaws' this afternoon?"
"Well," replied Sam, "I was going to haul wood, but I guess I can let that go. What time do you want them?"
"Two o'clock," said his wife.
Sarah said that Sam brought the bays around to the front door and was as lively round her and the team as he was twenty years ago when she was a maiden and he came courting her at her father's.
Talk about the diplomacy of Bismarck, d'Israeli, and the Russian Ambassador in settling the Eastern question at the close of the Russo-Turkish war; why there are women in Orangeville who can give them pointers on diplomacy.
The bays thought that either a peddler or minister was driving them that afternoon, they made so many short calls. There was one thing certain—Sarah Gilmore was not to blame if the people of Orangeville did not know Charles Herne was married.
When Green entered the house his wife said: "Horace, what do you think? Charles Herne has brought home a bride."
"A what?" said her husband.
"A bride," said his wife. "May be it's so long since you saw a bride, you have entirely forgotten how one looks. You had better hustle round and pony up that seventy-five dollars you are owing him. He will need it to buy silks, satins and laces for the bride."
"Hell's to pay," said Green.
Early the same morning Henry Storms entered the "Crow's Nest" saloon in Orangeville, where two men were talking over the bar to the saloon-keeper. Storms, walking up to where they were, saluted them by saying: "Hell's broke loose."
"What's up now?" said one of the men.
"Why," said Storms, "Charles Herne has got a running mate."
"Drinks for four," called out another man.
When the drinks were ready four men raised their glasses, one saying, "Drink hearty to Charles Herne and his partner."
At the conclusion of the toast four glasses of whiskey were emptied down four men's throats.
A man went down from his house to the road where his mailbox was nailed to a redwood post. The stage was just coming in.
"Any news?" asked the man of the stage-driver as he took his mail.
"News!" said the driver. "I should say there was. They tell me that Charles Herne has been, and gone, and done it."
Saunders, the merchant of Orangeville, told his customers that day that "Charles Herne had got spliced."
Tim Collins took a span of kicking mules to Pierce, the blacksmith, to be shod.
"Well, Tim, I got some news for you," said Pierce.
"What is it?" said Tim.
"Charles Herne has got hitched up."
Now one could not discern any perceptible change in Charles Herne, if it were true that he had done all the many and varied things which his neighbors stated he had; such as "Brought home a brand-new wife," "Got him a woman," "Got a bride," "Got a running mate," "Been, gone, and done it," "Got spliced," "Got hitched up," and so on.
The waves of ether in the atmosphere of Orangeville were pregnant with all these sayings and produced such an effect on a number of ladies as to make them call at different times at the Treelawn home.
When some of the ladies had made a call and had seen Mrs. Herne, and these ladies saw some others in Orangeville who had not seen Mrs. Herne, conversation did not drag. And as for speculation. Why the amount of speculative genius displayed by certain ladies of that locality would eclipse all speculative talent of Kant, Spencer and Mill. Listen to some of the inquiries: "Is she proud?" "Is she pretty?" "Has she much style about her?" "Do you think they will get along well together?" "Is she fond of children?" "Will they have any babies?" "Is she fond of dress?" "Is she a society lady?" "Do you think she will get lonesome?" "Can she do housework?" "Is she much account with a needle?" "Is she close and saving?" "Is she extravagant?" "Do you think she will put her foot down on Charles Herne furnishing his men with so many luxuries?" "Is she happy?" "Is she a scold?" "Will she wear the breeches?" and numerous other questions which, like problems concerning the Universe, will take time to solve.
Clara Herne was very happy in her new home as the wife of Charles Herne. She found her duties light and pleasant. Everything in the house and about the house was order and system, no friction, all harmony. She remarked to her husband one evening: "It pays to have good help. Every one here takes an interest in what he has to do and does it the very best he knows how, cheerfully and willingly."
She respected her husband exceedingly for the generous way in which he treated his men, and she helped him to still further their comforts.
On retiring one night after they had both spent the evening with their men, which they often did, she said to her husband: "How good it is to have love and respect between employers and employed. Every one speaks in such a kind way; so considerate for the feelings and interests of each one."
"Yes," said her husband, "it makes life worth living to treat your hired help not as if they were merely machines for the use of getting so much work out of them, but to live and act towards them as if they were men. Better still to realize the thought always, that they are our brothers."
Charles and Clara Herne were very happy as man and wife, because they were a social unit. They were one in their domestic and social natures; they were fond of going out to parties, suppers and dances, and enjoyed entertaining company; they were strictly moral, though not religious, and occasionally attended church.
One evening about a year after they had been married, they were sitting in front of the open fire, interesting themselves in talking about some of the people in Orangeville who were at the party they had attended the evening previous.
"I think last night's party was one of the best we have attended," said Mrs. Herne.
"Yes," said her husband, "the Hammonds are great entertainers. They always make it interesting and pleasant for every one who comes."
"Of course, their daughter Julia has a tact for receiving company and making delicacies for a party," added Clara. "What taste she displayed in the arrangement of the table. Then she herself is personally a great attraction to the young men. I consider her the belle of Orangeville. Her age I think is about twenty-one."
"Yes, but she has a most unusual development for that age. She has such a commanding form, so erect; there is something very fascinating about her expression; and those black eyes of hers denote a powerful magnetism. No wonder she attracts men so strongly."
"She seemed to pay more attention to that young Webber, I thought, than to any one else. Certainly, she smiled very sweetly upon him."
"You don't know Julia," said Mr. Herne, decidedly. "She is like a cat, as meek as Moses or as full of deviltry as Judas Iscariot. She is just playing with Webber and he is too vain and foolish to see it. Why, Julia Hammond would not marry Webber if he were the last man in Orangeville. The man she wants is Ben West, and she scarcely spoke to him during the evening; in fact, did not pay him as much attention as she would have paid to the merest stranger. In most girls such an action would be the result of shyness and the desire to avoid observation; in Julia, I think it arises from an inborn, stubborn pride which prevents her from yielding even to such an uncontrollable feeling. She has an iron will and though she knows she must yield eventually, she holds herself defiantly as long as she can."
"I don't blame her for wanting Ben West, for he is the finest looking and most popular young man in Orangeville," said Clara.
"He is, indeed," replied her husband. "Almost any girl in Orangeville would be glad to marry him, but Julia wants him and she will get him. He has not lost his heart so far, but Julia has not played her cards yet. She knows her power and loves to use it. She would do anything to gain her end."
"Why, dear, you seem to be well posted on Julia's disposition," said his wife.
"You see," he replied, "I have known her ever since she has lived in Orangeville, which has been twelve years. And now I am going to tell you something that will surprise you. I got it straight from Hammond himself, and he and I are close friends, as I have helped him financially out of some hard places. Several times he has made me a confidant. Only one or two in Orangeville know what I am going to tell you.
"It seems that about four years after Mr. and Mrs. Hammond were married, Mrs. Hammond received a letter from her cousin, Mrs. Featherstone, saying that Nat Harrison, a mutual friend, had been shot dead in a dispute over a faro game. He was under the influence of liquor at the time of the trouble. He left a wife and a girl baby eighteen months old, without any means of support, the mother being incompetent to take care of either herself or the child, and the letter asked would Mrs. Hammond like to adopt the baby. If so, Mrs. Featherstone was coming to San Diego in about a month's time and would bring the child (the Hammonds lived at San Diego then). The mother would make her home with her aunt.
"Mrs. Hammond said, after reading the letter, 'Poor Annie Harrison. Only think. I sat beside her at the graduating exercises of Nat Harrison's class, and remember how pleased she was at the applause which greeted the oration delivered by Nat, "American Commerce." So many congratulated him on his talent and thought he would become a rising member of the bar, and his voice would be heard in the halls of legislation of the nation.
"'Annie looked so pretty and sweet that day, you could not have bought her prospects in life for a million dollars. She thought she had a jewel of a lover, poor thing, she was so innocent of the nature of men. She knew nothing of the world, for her mother always treated her as a baby, never teaching her any self-reliance, and had kept her as a hot-house plant. She grew up with no higher ideal in life for herself than to be some rich man's toy and pet, under marriage. She was more adapted to be a flower in the "Garden of Eden" than to fight the battle of life in the present state of society.'
"Nat Harrison had money and was doing well when he married Annie, but being a man of strong passions and appetites, Annie's freshness and bloom soon wilted. Then he sought other pastures for his carnal pleasures, and with that came drinking and gambling. When his estate was settled up after his death they found he was in debt.
"Mr. and Mrs. Hammond talked the matter over and decided to adopt the child. They were both much pleased when they received the baby from Mrs. Featherstone and saw what a fine child she was. They have loved her and done everything that parents could do for a child of their own to make her happy. Julia brought lots of sunshine into their home, and everything went all right and they took a great deal of comfort with her till she got to be about fourteen and then she seemed to become stubborn, grew inattentive to her studies, seemed to care less for her girl companions, but was always with the boys. All she appeared to care for was to be in their company. She took less interest in things in the house, did not care about helping her mother, and would have odd spells. Sometimes she took a notion to do up the work, and it was then done quickly and well. Then for quite a time it would be like pulling teeth to get her to do anything. She has the ability if she would only use it. The last four years she has given Mr. and Mrs. Hammond many an anxious thought, and they have wished that Ben West or some other such man would marry her. They see the older she grows the more the hot blood of her father shows in her. Hammond told me last night at the party that Julia was great on dress parade, but was not there when it came to doing the common every day duties of life with no excitement."
"Why, Charles, the narrative concerning Julia's life is very interesting. Some of the people around us would be just as good material for a novel as those we read about in fiction."
About a week after Mr. Herne had told his wife the history of Julia Hammond, Mr. Hammond, on going to the store for some trifle, was saluted by Saunders, the merchant, with, "Heard the news, Hammond?"
Hammond said: "No. What is it?"
"Why, Ben West is going to the Klondike," said Saunders.
"Going to the Klondike!" said Hammond. "Why, I don't see what he has to go there for. He is the only child, his father owns a fine ranch, and he is always getting big jobs on roads and ditches, making three to four dollars a day, because he can go ahead and knows just what to do and how to do it. He has great muscular strength and can lift about twice as much as any ordinary man."
"Oh, he wants to make a stake," said Saunders. "He is ambitious."
Wescott spoke up and said: "Ben is a rustler; he will get there every time."
Hammond said: "He has lots of vim and pluck; has got sand and backbone to him."
"Yes, he is a hummer," said Saunders.
"I tell you he has got some ambition and grit," said Stearns, admiringly.
It was not long before the news spread all over Orangeville, that Ben West was going to the Klondike, and the abilities which he possessed as a worker and money maker, and an all round good fellow were the theme of conversation in many a household and on many a ranch.
When the news reached the ears of the young ladies of Orangeville, most of them felt a shade of disappointment, because Ben had been good to them.
Not having shown any decided preference for one, he devoted his attentions to many, and having a good fast team he was able to give the young ladies many a pleasant ride to dances, parties and church, so he was a great favorite with them all.
Just previous to Ben West's leaving Orangeville, a great farewell supper and dance was given him. The attendance was very large. The young ladies appeared in their best toilets. Julia looked superb and was very graceful in her deportment. This evening she "played her cards" with evident success, and the result was that as Ben West went home the feeling that had been flickering for some time had now broken out into a flame that fired his blood. Julia did indeed know her power and how to use it, and she intended that some one else should be restless and disturbed as well as herself. So that night there were two persons in Orangeville who tried to sleep but could not. Ben West realized that night that he had become a willing slave. Sometimes the thought seemed pleasant, then again it would be galling in the extreme.
A few of the boys went to Roseland to see Ben off, and they had a time "all to themselves" as they called it in Roseland, the night previous to his departure. Ben West left with the best wishes and prayers for good luck following him from all his friends.
When a rising, popular young man leaves his home and neighborhood for the purpose of making his fortune, he is full of great expectations, and this thought is shared by all his friends. He departs with the best wishes following him, for his companions say: "If a man can strike it rich he can." There does not seem the least doubt in their minds regarding his success, for they have unbounded confidence in him. Now the young man leaving is exceedingly alive to the expressions and sentiments of his friends, and he feels that he must succeed or die in the attempt. His attachment to name and fame and his personal self is so strong, and he is so susceptible and negative to the good opinion of those around him, that he feels he will never want to come back and show himself among his friends unless he has struck it rich, for he knows there is nothing that succeeds like success.
Talk about the idolatry of the heathen! Is there any idolatry in the world that is stronger than that which is found in the so-called "Christian" world in the year 1900? Where do you find any greater idolatry than that which is bestowed on money and on woman? There are more devotees at these two shrines than are to be found worshipping the Divine. Look at a young man fortunate in the financial world. The first year in speculations he makes fifty thousand dollars. The second year he is worth two hundred thousand dollars. The third year he has made half a million. The fourth year he has become a millionaire. Now listen to the eulogies and encomiums passed upon him. He is the lion of the hour, the hero of the day, for he has won the victory that to win fifty thousand other men had tried and failed. He has attained the great end for which most men think they were born, money making. What a number of young ladies see so many excellent qualities in the rising young millionaire, the "Napoleon of Finance." Note how his faults are all glossed over by their mammas, who are ready to act as if they had received a retaining fee as his attorneys, so ready are they to defend him at all times to their daughters and friends. It seems to matter little about his intellectual gifts or moral character. His financial success covers a multitude of sins and weaknesses. Should a young lady raise one or two slight objections in regard to the young millionaire's character, her mother says: "Why, dear, all young men must sow their wild oats. You must not expect to find a pure young man. All young men are fast more or less. It would be hard to find an unmarried man that is moral. After they are married they get steady and settle down."
Should a young lady of moderate means marry a young man who has made a million dollars, there is more rejoicing by the members of her family than if she had become a saint or a great angel of light. She thinks she has attained the great end of her existence in marrying a millionaire and making for herself name and fame and family position.
Should the young millionaire be a little liberal to a few of his friends, he becomes more to them than the Lord himself. Other young men, seeing and knowing all this, are putting forth every effort and straining every nerve to be successful financiers. They realize that the power of money is so great to-day in the eyes of many, that unless they are successful money getters, they are no good to themselves or their friends. They parody the verse in Proverbs something like this: "With all thy getting, get money; get it honestly if you can, but get it anyway."
Such is the gospel that is acted out in the commercial world to-day. All good intentions, all right convictions, all wise counsels of religious teachers, are side-tracked and become as a dead letter if they stand in the way to successful money making.
Ben West knew what the sentiment of the people of Orangeville was towards himself, and it fired his ambition to think of the expressions conveyed to him by his friends, and his heart was fired still more when he thought of the possibility of possessing the fine form of Julia Hammond. He made up his mind that he would be willing to endure all hardships, that he would leave no stone unturned in order to be successful; for he saw before him the chance of getting a fortune and the praise, adoration and admiration of the people of Orangeville.
The form of Julia Hammond seemed to float before the eyes of his mind day and night; and when he saw, in his imagination, that face with its sparkling black eyes, and the finely poised head, with its wavy black hair, her well-rounded bust, and the handsome figure, it made him feel like removing a mountain of dirt or penetrating the bowels of the earth, to get the shiny metal which was to open for him the gates of his earthly paradise.
One afternoon two men were digging post-holes and setting in redwood posts on the side of one of the main roads in Orangeville. Everything had been exceedingly quiet, not a team was seen since dinner. Nothing in the way of excitement had happened to relieve the monotony of their work. They were interested and delighted when they heard a noise, and, looking down the road, saw a vehicle coming, but it was not near enough to tell whose it was. When it got a little nearer one of the men said: "Why, Alfred, it is the old man Wheelwright and his girl Stella."
Alfred replied to James, the man who has just spoken: "Stella was to school at San Jose, and her father has been to Roseland to meet the train which arrived this morning and bring her home."
"How she has grown," remarked James, "since she went away. She has improved in her looks very much."
"Yes," said Alfred, "I think she will make a fine woman, for she has a bright, intelligent eye, and they say she is real smart in her studies, away ahead of most of the girls round here. She seems so different to them. She comes of good stock; her mother is the brightest and best woman in Orangeville, and her father is a well-posted man."
"You must be kind of stuck on her and her folks," replied his companion. "I don't go so much myself on girls who have their heads in books all the time. What does a fellow want with such a girl as that? She may be all right to be a school marm, or woman's rights talker, but I don't want any of them. I say to hell with book women. Give me a girl like Nance Slater. She is round and plump, don't care much for books or papers, but is bright and laughing all the day. She is the girl to have lots of fun with, and when it comes to making a man a good wife, why, she is the best cook in Orangeville. I was over to Slater's on an errand the other morning about ten o'clock, and Nance was looking as pretty as a picture; her cheeks had the blush of the peach on them; her eyes were sparkling bright, her lips red, and when she laughed, her teeth looked like the best and whitest ivory you ever saw. She had on such a pretty, light, calico wrapper, and a white apron with a bib, and was busy taking out of the oven some mince pies and just putting in some apple pies. She had a kettle of doughnuts a frying, and a whole lot of cookie paste ready to cut out and bake. She said: 'James, you must sample my doughnuts. Mother, give James a cup of coffee to go with them; there is some hot on the stove.' Nance is a trump. She is straight goods. The trouble with those Wheelwrights is they live awful close, and instead of cooking good meals, spend their time in reading books. They starve in the kitchen to sit in the parlor. The devil take the books, I say. I wouldn't give a book girl barn room for all the good she would be to me."
Alfred replied: "That's all right; every fellow to his own girl, I say. It would not do for all to be after the same one. As for me, I like Stella. She has some stability of character. There is something interesting about a girl like that, and if she don't care about doing all the cooking, why, I can help her, if she will only let me enjoy her company."
The sun went down and the men went each to his own home, being content in their mind that each man should have his own choice.
Stella was the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wheelwright, she being the only child they ever had had. At the time she returned from school she was sixteen and would have one year more in school. She was very precocious, a thorough student, and would allow nothing to divert her from her studies. She was at that age when the intellectual part of her nature predominated, though the spiritual was just beginning to tinge her mind with its coloring. She possessed a strong individuality; she was a born investigator; would accept no statements without examining them, and rebelled against a great many of the customs and usages of society. She did her own thinking, and nothing seemed to please her more than to take her investigating axe and cut away some of the roots which held her free spirit in bondage. Problems seemed to be crowding on her mind thick and fast, and she could not take the time from her studies to do the necessary amount of reading and thinking to resolve them, and she was looking forward to the time when her last year would expire. During this vacation she took much physical exercise, for she did not believe in developing one side of her nature at the expense of the other. She rode horseback and climbed the sides of steep mountains, mixed with the young people in their recreations, such as camping parties, picnics, and social entertainments. In company she was bright, witty, and entertaining. She had no fear; was full of confidence, and was better balanced than her companions in that she was not carried away by pleasures and the company of the opposite sex.
When she was not away from home on camping or picnic excursions, she would find time to visit the cabin of an old man who lived alone, and had sore eyes so that he could not see to read. She would read to him whatever he liked, cheer him up by her bright, happy talk, and when she left the old man often thought to himself that her comings were like angels' visits, for she seemed to lift him up completely out of himself into a new world. When she laid her head on her pillow at night, after having spent the evening with old Andrews, she thought how much greater a satisfaction she derived from hearing that old man say, on her leaving him: "God bless you, Stella, you always bring sunshine to me," than she did from even the most enjoyable pleasure excursion.
She bestowed the attractions and charm of her social and intellectual nature less on those outside than those inside her home. You saw her at her best when talking to her father and mother.
Some parents let their children outgrow them intellectually, so that there is a great gulf fixed between parents and children, the latter having nothing in common with the former. Mr. and Mrs. Wheelwright tried as much as possible to keep themselves in advance of their daughter's intellectual growth, so that they might always command her respect for their opinions, and that she might realize that in them she found two interesting, intelligent companions, whom she could love and confide in.
The relationship between many parents and their grown children is very unsatisfactory; for being on the material plane, there is nothing very permanent in their relationship. The grown son and his father have only in common business and social interests; that is their world; outside of that neither one has any life that he realizes.
It is the same with the grown daughters and their mother. Their life is mainly in the social and domestic world. Outside of that they apparently have no existence; but the true ideal parents and children are those whose life is in the intellectual and spiritual world. They cease to exist in each other's minds as parents and children, and realize a stronger and more permanent tie, and intellectual and spiritual union, which is blessed, glorious, and eternal. They realize daily that "In Him they live, and breathe, and have their being"; that they are immersed in an ocean of Divine love, and that Divine love permeates them all through and through; and that it is in that ocean of Divine love that they realize that they are one. They feel a blessed nearness and dearness and oneness to each other, though separated by oceans and continents, for they have realized through sweet experience that the same intelligent spiritual thought and love pulses through them all as if they were one organism.
One afternoon Mrs. Herne received a caller. It was Mrs. Cullom. She had met Mrs. Herne twice at parties and promised to call on her each time, but for various reasons she had not been able to fulfil her promise.
After the usual introductory talk, Mrs. Cullom said:
"Did you ever see Penloe or his mother, Mrs. Lanair?"
"No," said Mrs. Herne, "who are they?"
Mrs. Cullom replied: "They live up about a mile above where I do. It's rather lonesome where I live, but it is a very lonesome place where they live. It is not a good road over there. I don't suppose you were ever on that road were you?"
"No," said Mrs. Herne, "I have never been over there. Charles said it was out of the way and a poor road, being muddy in winter and very dusty in summer."
"Well," said Mrs. Cullom, "Mrs. Lenair has been on that place about two years. She seems pleasant, but so different from most women. The second time I called on her, I got there about two o'clock, and I thought I would have a nice afternoon chat. So I began talking to her about my work, and telling her how I worked my butter, and talking to her about my cooking, and I tried to get her to talk, but she would only say a few words about such things. About five minutes was as long as I could get her to talk about her butter and cooking. Why, some women would talk by the hour on such subjects. Now, she did not appear stuck up or proud, she seemed so pleasant, her face being very bright and pleasing; and there seemed to be such a feeling of restfulness about her that I liked to be with her; but she seems to have so little to say about matters we are all so much interested in. I could not get her to talk about herself, so I asked about Penloe, if he was at home. She said, yes, he had returned from San Francisco last week; that he had been away three months. That surprised me, Mrs. Herne, because I did not think they were people who had money to spend in visiting and seeing the sights of a great city. Why, look at their place, it is not much; she sold the fruit on the trees for two hundred dollars, and outside of the orchard they have only pasture enough for four head of stock. Their house has four rooms, the kitchen is the only room I have been in, but it is kept very neat. I said to her: 'Does Penloe have much business in San Francisco?' She smiled and said he had business as long as he washed dishes in a restaurant. That just took my breath away, for to see Penloe you would think he would be the last man in the world to do work like that. I cannot tell you how he looks, but he looks so different from the young men about here; nothing like them at all. He has a face that I like, but I don't know him enough to say much to him.
"Well, after they had been on that place about eighteen months or so, I said to Dan one morning after breakfast, that I did not feel like going out to-day, but I wanted some one here to talk to, and I wished him to hitch up Puss and Bess and go right up and get Mrs. Lenair to come down and spend the day with me, and to tell her that when she wished to go home I would take her back. 'Now, if you don't get a move on you, Dan,' I said, 'you will come home and find a cold stove and no dinner and your cook gone.' Dan moved round like a cat on hot bricks. That kind of talk fetches men to time. I did not have to cook much for dinner because the day before was Dan's birthday. Dan had killed a veal two days previous and I made two kinds of rich cake, two kinds of pies, and some cream puffs. They were very rich. Dan is fond of high living, and he ate very heartily of it all. I laughed at him, and said I never saw a man that liked to dig his grave with his teeth so well as he did. So you see I could get up a good dinner for Mrs. Lenair without having to cook much. It was not long after Dan left before Mrs. Lenair was with me. Well, after she had taken off her things and we chatted awhile, I thought I would tell her the news, as she never goes out anywhere. So I said: 'Did you hear what a hard time Mrs. Dunn had in confinement? The doctor thought he would have to take the child with instruments;' but Mrs. Lenair kept looking out of the window, and all she said was, 'Is that so?' So I said: 'I suppose you have heard about Mrs. Warmstey's case. She had a doctor from Orangeville and two from Roseland.' Just as I said that, she rose from her chair and said so sweetly: 'Mrs. Cullom, I do want to go out and look at your flowers; they look beautiful from the window.'
"Well, I was clean took off my feet, because I was just beginning to tell the most interesting part of Mrs. Warmstey's case. I said: 'Why, yes, Mrs. Lenair,' and I went out with her. She began to be so chatty I thought she was some one else for awhile. She appeared delighted with my flowers, and called them such crack-jaw names, and told me all about their families, and what relation they were to each other. Why, to hear her talk, you would think flowers had babies, she went on so about male and female plants. Then she told me that flowers breathed, and told me all about their coloring, and how they attracted the bee and dusted themselves on him, and much more I cannot remember. She talked to and petted them as if they were alive. You would have thought she had been a flower herself, the way she went on. She said something about the pencilings and colorings of the Almighty being in the tulips.
"When we returned to the house my back was feeling kind of lame, and gave me one or two of those twister pains. I said: 'Oh, my back! It has got one of its spells on.' Mrs. Lenair said it would soon go away, and, to my surprise, it did. Only had it about half an hour, and generally those spells last me all day. I said: 'Mrs. Lenair, do you have any ailments? I never hear you complain, if you do.' She said she had not an ache nor pain in her body for a number of years. I threw my hands up in astonishment, and said: 'You don't say so?' 'That is the truth,' she said. And I believe her, for she looks ten years younger than she really is. 'Why,' I said, 'how different you are from the girls and women around here. Most all the girls not married are ailing more or less, and about every married woman has her aches and pains. I can't make you out.'
"Mrs. Lenair laughed, and said: 'If I were like other women I should be ailing as they are.' Well, I got up just as good a dinner as I knew how. I put on the table fried ham and eggs, baked veal, potatoes, peas, canned tomatoes, red currant jelly, fig preserve, canned nectarines, cream puffs, grape pie, lemon pie, plain cake, and frosted cake; and we had coffee, chocolate, and milk to drink. I did want her to make out a good meal, because I thought she never cooked much at home. Well, what do you think? I could not get her to eat any meat. 'Why,' I said, 'I would starve if I did not have meat two or three times a day with my meals.' She said she had not eaten meat for seventeen years, and was much better without it. She just ate a little potatoes, one egg, some nectarines, bread and butter, and drank a little milk. I told her she must try my cream puffs if she would not eat any cake or pie. At last I did get her to eat a cream puff. That woman don't eat much more than would keep a mouse alive, and yet she is so hearty and well. I told her as she ate so little, Dan and I would have to make up for her. And we did, for we ate as if it were a Thanksgiving dinner. Dan and I say it is our religion not to die in debt to our stomachs. After dinner I felt more like sleep than anything else, and I said, 'Mrs. Lenair, let you and me take a nap.' That seemed to please her, so she laid down on the lounge and I went and laid on my bed. About an hour later I returned to the room where I had left Mrs. Lenair.
"'Well,' I said, 'I have just had the boss sleep and feel so much better. I hope you had a good nap.'
"Mrs. Lenair said, 'I have had a pleasant time lying here, though I did not sleep any.'
"'Why,' I said, 'I could not lie that way. If I was not sleeping I would be nervous, and want to be sitting up or moving about.'
"Then I said to her: 'I should think you must get terribly lonesome up at your place, your son having been away so much, and you all alone with no one to talk to.'
"She said: 'I haven't known what it was to be lonesome since I have lived on the place.'
"'Why,' I said, 'I would not live like you do for ten dollars a day.' She smiled, and said, 'You could not.'
"'I don't see how you can stand it,' I said, 'for it is all I can do to keep from being lonesome here with Dan, and a team to take me anywhere. I have more callers in a week than you have in a year. I am fond of company and so is Dan.'
"Mrs. Lenair said: 'All you have just said, Mrs. Cullom, shows your life, your world; we all have different worlds,' she added.
"I could hardly understand just what she meant, so I changed the subject and thought I would talk to her about Penloe.
"'Is he home now,' I asked.
"She said, 'Yes,' he had got through his work and would be at home most of the time.
"I said: 'Did he ever do any of the kind of work he has been doing at the different places he worked at before he came to Orangeville? For he don't look to me,' I said, 'as if he had worked on a ranch or done road work much.'
"She said, 'He never had done hard work till we came to Orangeville, having only returned to this country from India about a month before coming here, and when we were in India, Penloe went to the University of Calcutta as soon as he was ready to enter as a student. I lived in that city nineteen years.'
"'Why, have you lived in India,' I said.
"Yes,' she answered. 'I left New York a year after I was married. My husband represented a New York company in India. He died six years ago, but we continued to reside there until Penloe finished his University course.'
"I was clean taken back by what she said. I said, 'It's none of my business, Mrs. Lenair, but I don't see why a fine looking young man like Penloe, with the education you say he has had, don't get light, pleasant work, if he has to work out, instead of working at such hard places with the toughest crowds of men.'
"All she said was: 'That is his work.'
"Why, Mrs. Herne, do you know that he worked on the streets of the city of Chicago, and for three months with a gang of a thousand men on the Coast Railroad between Los Angeles and San Francisco! Then he was at the Oakdale cattle ranch, cowboying it, with that fast gang of boys that they keep there. Then he worked for awhile at the Simmons ranch, which is four miles from Roseland, and Simmons always keeps the hardest crew of men on his place. They go to Roseland every other night or so and dance at those low dancing-houses with bad women. They get drunk, fight, and swear all the time. Simmons' ranch has got the name of being the toughest place to work anywhere round here.
"One day when Dan was in Roseland, he saw a man he knew from the Simmons ranch, so he thought he would hear what the fellow had to say about Penloe, as we both are curious to find out all we can about that singular young man.
"Dan said: 'Is Penloe working on the Simmons ranch?'
"The man said: 'Yes.'
"Dan said: 'How does he get along?'
"'Get along!' the man said. 'All I have to say is I wish I could get along as well.'
"Dan said: 'What kind of a chap is he, anyway? I kind of want to know, as he is a neighbor of mine.'
"'Well,' the man said, 'I will tell you, and then you can judge for yourself. I never heard him swear or knew of his telling a lie; he don't drink or tell smutty yarns, or have anything to do with bad women. The boss says he works well, and when he is not at work he never joins the boys in their foolish talk. He is by himself a great deal, praying, I reckon, but he is very sociable if any one will talk sense. Let me tell you what he did which will show you what kind of a man he is. One cold, chilly night in December, when we were all sleeping in the barn, each man having his own blankets, the boys had just turned in when a tramp came in and asked if he could sleep in the barn. One of the boys said, 'Yes.' The fellow lay down on the hay without any blankets, and as soon as he was laid down his teeth began to chatter and he shook all over, for he had a chill. Penloe instantly got up and lit a lantern, took his blankets over to the tramp and said: 'Here, brother, you have got a chill. Take my blankets and roll yourself up in them; you will be better in the morning.' From where I lay I could just see the tramp's face, for Penloe was holding the lantern so the light went on his face. The fellow looked up at Penloe thunderstruck. I guess he never had a man speak to him that way before. He said: 'Well, stranger, you are mighty kind.' So Penloe helped him to roll the blankets round him, and then he went and lay down on the hay himself without any covering. The boys did a heap of thinking that night, but said nothing. The next morning Penloe asked the tramp how he was, and he said he slept pretty well, but he looked real miserable, as though he had not had a good square meal for a month and was weak from chills. Penloe said to the tramp: 'You stay here till I come back,' and he went to see the boss and told him there was a sick tramp in the barn, and would he let him stay there and eat at the same table with us till he got well and strong, and that the boss should take the tramp's board out of his wages. The boss asked a few questions, studied awhile, then said, all right, he didn't care. Penloe went back to the tramp and told him he had seen the boss and he could stay there till he got well and strong, and to eat his meals with them and it would not cost him a cent. Tears came in the tramp's eyes, and he tried to say, 'Thank you, stranger.'
"During the day one of the men told the boss what Penloe had done last night; about giving his blankets up to a tramp and laying all night himself without any covering. After supper the boss called Penloe and told him there was a bed for him in the house, and he wanted him to sleep in it as long as the tramp was here, and as for the tramp, he would let the fellow stay here and board till he got a job in the neighborhood. He would not charge a cent for his board to Penloe. He himself had no work for the tramp.
"When the boys heard what Simmons said and did in regard to the tramp and Penloe, one of them said he was more taken back than if he had seen the devil come out of hell.
"'For you know, Dan,' the man said, 'Old Simmons is a hard nut and as close-fisted as he can be. Some of the boys think now he has got the Penloe fever. I think he got a straight look into Penloe's eyes and saw and felt something he never had seen and felt before. Penloe is a power when you know him.
"The tramp stayed three days and got well. We thought it would be a month before he would be well enough to go to work, but it is that Penloe's doings, I know. He must have some power for healing like they say Christ had. Penloe is never sick. Heat or cold, dry or wet, seem just the same to him.
"'The boss got the tramp a job at Kent's ranch. When he left he gave Penloe his hand, seemed to tremble a moment, tried to speak, but walked away without uttering a word. Penloe told the boss that the way the tramp bid him good-bye and thanked him was eloquently touching and powerful. The boss is very much changed; he is not so close and hard, and you now see a few smiles on his wife's face, where before you only saw lines of sadness; and the children, instead of being scared, as they used to be when they heard his footsteps coming, now run to meet him and hang around him.
"'Simmons says Penloe was the making of him and family. Simmons has a high-priced fancy mare that the boys always have said he thought more of than he did of his family, and no one ever drove her but himself. He would not loan her out to any one for a day for fifty dollars, yet now the boys say 'he would let Penloe have the mare to go to hell and back.'
"'Some of the boys also seem to have caught the fever, and it has made a great change in their lives. Penloe will leave the Simmons ranch soon, but his influence is there to stay. The man said, 'If you have any more men like Penloe in Orangeville, send them down this way, for these God forsaken ranches need men like him!'
"Dan says Penloe is like his mother in regard to tramps. Why, that woman was all alone, and a tramp called at her house to get a job of work. He said work was scarce and he had no money and needed some food; that he was hungry. He told Dan some time afterwards that before she replied she gave him a close look all over. He said her eye seemed to penetrate him, and after scrutinizing him very closely, she said: 'Come in, friend, you can stay here till you can find work.' She set before him plenty of good, hearty food, put a napkin to his plate, and talked to him interestingly about matters which seemed to make him feel that he was a better man. What do you think Mrs. Lenair had him do, Mrs. Herne? Why, he was shown into the bathroom, and given one of Penloe's night-gowns, and after he had taken his bath she had him sleep in her spare bedroom. 'Why,' I said to Mrs. Lenair, 'how could you do such a thing? I would no more have done it than I would have slept in a room with a rattlesnake.'
"She said, 'Mrs. Cullom, that man is my brother, and I treated him as such, and that thought was so impressed on his mind that it touched his better nature, and he could only think of me with the best and purest of feelings. I know that it was impossible for that man to hurt me. I fear no human being in this world.' The tramp stayed at her house for five days, and at the end of that time he got a chance at harvesting on the Thornton ranch. When he came to take leave of Mrs. Lenair, she said to him: 'You have put in five good full days' work, and here is five dollars for you'—handing him a five-dollar gold piece. He said: 'You did not hire me to work, and for what little I have done you have paid me a thousand times more than it is worth, in your conduct towards me. You took me, a poor, miserable, worthless, homeless tramp into your home, as if I had been your own brother, and you acted the true sister towards me. Now I wish to play the brother's part by giving you my work. It is the only thing I can do to show you how I appreciate your sisterly kindness toward me. I can earn all the money I need now at the Thornton ranch. I shall never forget you, because you are the only woman I ever met that received me and treated me as a sister would her brother; and if you ever need any work done on your place, and you have not the money to pay for its being done, remember I am your brother, and will do it gladly; more so than if you paid me two dollars a day.' She thanked him and said he had better take the five dollars, and laid it down on the table for him to take. He said he never would take it, and left it there. His last words to her were, 'I am going to be a new man.'