Part 4 out of 7
employer and not through any personal inclination at all.
In his own case he felt that such an imposition would be
peculiarly obnoxious, for had she not read that cursed Klondike
correspondent's book? A pretty idea she must have of him, a girl
that was too high-toned to have anything to do with a
good-looking, gentlemanly fellow like Morrison. Also, and down
under all his other reasons, Daylight was timid. The only thing
he had ever been afraid of in his life was woman, and he had been
afraid all his life. Nor was that timidity to be put easily to
flight now that he felt the first glimmering need and desire for
woman. The specter of the apron-string still haunted him, and
helped him to find excuses for getting on no forwarder with Dede
Not being favored by chance in getting acquainted with Dede
Mason, Daylight's interest in her slowly waned. This was but
natural, for he was plunged deep in hazardous operations, and the
fascinations of the game and the magnitude of it accounted for
all the energy that even his magnificent organism could generate.
Such was his absorption that the pretty stenographer slowly and
imperceptibly faded from the forefront of his consciousness.
Thus, the first faint spur, in the best sense, of his need for
woman ceased to prod. So far as Dede Mason was concerned, he
possessed no more than a complacent feeling of satisfaction in
that he had a very nice stenographer. And, completely to put the
quietus on any last lingering hopes he might have had of her, he
was in the thick of his spectacular and intensely bitter fight
with the Coastwise Steam Navigation Company, and the Hawaiian,
Nicaraguan, and Pacific-Mexican Steamship-Company. He stirred
up a bigger muss than he had anticipated, and even he was
astounded at the wide ramifications of the struggle and at the
unexpected and incongruous interests that were drawn into it.
Every newspaper in San Francisco turned upon him. It was true,
one or two of them had first intimated that they were open to
subsidization, but Daylight's judgment was that the situation did
not warrant such expenditure. Up to this time the press had been
amusingly tolerant and good-naturedly sensational about him, but
now he was to learn what virulent scrupulousness an antagonized
press was capable of. Every episode of his life was resurrected
to serve as foundations for malicious fabrications. Daylight was
frankly amazed at the new interpretation put upon all he had
accomplished and the deeds he had done. From an Alaskan hero he
was metamorphosed into an Alaskan bully, liar, desperado, and all
around "bad Man." Not content with this, lies upon lies, out of
whole cloth, were manufactured about him. He never replied,
though once he went to the extent of disburdening his mind to
half a dozen reporters. "Do your damnedest," he told them.
"Burning Daylight's bucked bigger things than your dirty, lying
sheets. And I don't blame you, boys... that is, not much.
You can't help it. You've got to live. There's a mighty lot of
women in this world that make their living in similar fashion to
yours, because they're not able to do anything better.
Somebody's got to do the dirty work, and it might as well be you.
You're paid for it, and you ain't got the backbone to rustle
The socialist press of the city jubilantly exploited this
utterance, scattering it broadcast over San Francisco in tens of
thousands of paper dodgers. And the journalists, stung to the
quick, retaliated with the only means in their power-printer's
ink abuse. The attack became bitterer than ever. The whole
affair sank to the deeper deeps of rancor and savageness. The
poor woman who had killed herself was dragged out of her grave
and paraded on thousands of reams of paper as a martyr and a
victim to Daylight's ferocious brutality. Staid, statistical
articles were published, proving that he had made his start by
robbing poor miners of their claims, and that the capstone to his
fortune had been put in place by his treacherous violation of
faith with the Guggenhammers in the deal on Ophir. And there
were editorials written in which he was called an enemy of
society, possessed of the manners and culture of a caveman, a
fomenter of wasteful business troubles, the destroyer of the
city's prosperity in commerce and trade, an anarchist of dire
menace; and one editorial gravely recommended that hanging would
be a lesson to him and his ilk, and concluded with the fervent
hope that some day his big motor-car would smash up and smash him
He was like a big bear raiding a bee-hive and, regardless of the
stings, he obstinately persisted in pawing for the honey. He
gritted his teeth and struck back. Beginning with a raid on two
steamship companies, it developed into a pitched battle with a
city, a state, and a continental coastline. Very well; they
wanted fight, and they would get it. It was what he wanted, and
he felt justified in having come down from the Klondike, for here
he was gambling at a bigger table than ever the Yukon had
supplied. Allied with him, on a splendid salary, with princely
pickings thrown in, was a lawyer, Larry Hegan, a young Irishman
with a reputation to make, and whose peculiar genius had been
unrecognized until Daylight picked up with him. Hegan had Celtic
imagination and daring, and to such degree that Daylight's cooler
head was necessary as a check on his wilder visions. Hegan's was
a Napoleonic legal mind, without balance, and it was just this
balance that Daylight supplied. Alone, the Irishman was doomed
to failure, but directed by Daylight, he was on the highroad to
fortune and recognition. Also, he was possessed of no more
personal or civic conscience than Napoleon.
It was Hegan who guided Daylight through the intricacies of
modern politics, labor organization, and commercial and
corporation law. It was Hegan, prolific of resource and
suggestion, who opened Daylight's eyes to undreamed possibilities
in twentieth-century warfare; and it was Daylight, rejecting,
accepting, and elaborating, who planned the campaigns and
prosecuted them. With the Pacific coast from Peugeot Sound to
Panama, buzzing and humming, and with San Francisco furiously
about his ears, the two big steamship companies had all the
appearance of winning. It looked as if Burning Daylight was
being beaten slowly to his knees. And then he struck--at the
steamship companies, at San Francisco, at the whole Pacific
It was not much of a blow at first. A Christian Endeavor
convention being held in San Francisco, a row was started by
Express Drivers' Union No. 927 over the handling of a small heap
of baggage at the Ferry Building. A few heads were broken, a
score of arrests made, and the baggage was delivered. No one
would have guessed that behind this petty wrangle was the fine
Irish hand of Hegan, made potent by the Klondike gold of Burning
Daylight. It was an insignificant affair at best--or so it
seemed. But the Teamsters' Union took up the quarrel, backed by
the whole Water Front Federation. Step by step, the strike
became involved. A refusal of cooks and waiters to serve scab
teamsters or teamsters' employers brought out the cooks and
waiters. The butchers and meat-cutters refused to handle meat
destined for unfair restaurants. The combined Employers'
Associations put up a solid front, and found facing them the
40,000 organized laborers of San Francisco. The restaurant
bakers and the bakery wagon drivers struck, followed by the
milkers, milk drivers, and chicken pickers. The building trades
asserted its position in unambiguous terms, and all San Francisco
was in turmoil.
But still, it was only San Francisco. Hegan's intrigues were
masterly, and Daylight's campaign steadily developed. The
powerful fighting organization known as the Pacific Slope
Seaman's Union refused to work vessels the cargoes of which were
to be handled by scab longshoremen and freight-handlers. The
union presented its ultimatum, and then called a strike. This
had been Daylight's objective all the time. Every incoming
coastwise vessel was boarded by the union officials and its crew
sent ashore. And with the Seamen went the firemen, the
engineers, and the sea cooks and waiters. Daily the number of
idle steamers increased. It was impossible to get scab crews,
for the men of the Seaman's Union were fighters trained in the
hard school of the sea, and when they went out it meant blood and
death to scabs. This phase of the strike spread up and down the
entire Pacific coast, until all the ports were filled with idle
ships, and sea transportation was at a standstill. The days and
weeks dragged out, and the strike held. The Coastwise Steam
Navigation Company, and the Hawaiian, Nicaraguan, and
Pacific-Mexican Steamship Company were tied up completely. The
expenses of combating the strike were tremendous, and they were
earning nothing, while daily the situation went from bad to
worse, until "peace at any price" became the cry. And still
there was no peace, until Daylight and his allies played out
their hand, raked in the winnings, and allowed a goodly portion
of a continent to resume business.
It was noted, in following years, that several leaders of workmen
built themselves houses and blocks of renting flats and took
trips to the old countries, while, more immediately, other
leaders and "dark horses" came to political preferment and the
control of the municipal government and the municipal moneys. In
fact, San Francisco's boss-ridden condition was due in greater
degree to Daylight's widespreading battle than even San Francisco
ever dreamed. For the part he had played, the details of which
were practically all rumor and guesswork, quickly leaked out, and
in consequence he became a much-execrated and well-hated man.
Nor had Daylight himself dreamed that his raid on the steamship
companies would have grown to such colossal proportions.
But he had got what he was after. He had played an exciting hand
and won, beating the steamship companies down into the dust and
mercilessly robbing the stockholders by perfectly legal methods
before he let go. Of course, in addition to the large sums of
money he had paid over, his allies had rewarded themselves by
gobbling the advantages which later enabled them to loot the
city. His alliance with a gang of cutthroats had brought about a
lot of cutthroating. But his conscience suffered no twinges. He
remembered what he had once heard an old preacher utter, namely,
that they who rose by the sword perished by the sword. One took
his chances when he played with cutting throats, and his,
Daylight's, throat was still intact. That was it! And he had
won. It was all gamble and war between the strong men. The
fools did not count. They were always getting hurt; and that
they always had been getting hurt was the conclusion he drew from
what little he knew of history. San Francisco had wanted war,
and he had given it war. It was the game. All the big fellows
did the same, and they did much worse, too.
"Don't talk to me about morality and civic duty," he replied to a
persistent interviewer. "If you quit your job tomorrow and went
to work on another paper, you would write just what you were told
to write. It's morality and civic duty now with you; on the new
job it would be backing up a thieving railroad with... morality
and civic duty, I suppose. Your price, my son, is just about
thirty per week. That's what you sell for. But your paper would
sell for a bit more. Pay its price to-day, and it would shift
its present rotten policy to some other rotten policy; but it
would never let up on morality and civic duty.
"And all because a sucker is born every minute. So long as the
people stand for it, they'll get it good and plenty, my son. And
the shareholders and business interests might as well shut up
squawking about how much they've been hurt. You never hear ary
squeal out of them when they've got the other fellow down and are
gouging him. This is the time THEY got gouged, and that's all
there is to it. Talk about mollycoddles! Son, those same
fellows would steal crusts from starving men and pull gold
fillings from the mouths of corpses, yep, and squawk like Sam
Scratch if some blamed corpse hit back. They're all tarred with
the same brush, little and big. Look at your Sugar Trust--with
all its millions stealing water like a common thief from New York
City, and short-weighing the government on its phoney scales.
Morality and civic duty! Son, forget it."
Daylight's coming to civilization had not improved him. True,
he wore better clothes, had learned slightly better manners, and
spoke better English. As a gambler and a man-trampler he had
developed remarkable efficiency. Also, he had become used to a
higher standard of living, and he had whetted his wits to razor
sharpness in the fierce, complicated struggle of fighting males.
But he had hardened, and at the expense of his old-time,
whole-souled geniality. Of the essential refinements of
civilization he knew nothing. He did not know they existed. He
had become cynical, bitter, and brutal. Power had its effect on
him that it had on all men. Suspicious of the big exploiters,
despising the fools of the exploited herd, he had faith only in
himself. This led to an undue and erroneous exaltation of his
ego, while kindly consideration of others--nay, even simple
respect--was destroyed, until naught was left for him but to
worship at the shrine of self. Physically, he was not the man of
iron muscles who had come down out of the Arctic. He did not
exercise sufficiently, ate more than was good for him, and drank
altogether too much. His muscles were getting flabby, and his
tailor called attention to his increasing waistband. In fact,
Daylight was developing a definite paunch. This physical
deterioration was manifest likewise in his face. The lean Indian
visage was suffering a city change. The slight hollows in the
cheeks under the high cheek-bones had filled out. The beginning
of puff-sacks under the eyes was faintly visible. The girth of
the neck had increased, and the first crease and fold of a double
chin were becoming plainly discernible. The old effect of
asceticism, bred of terrific hardships and toil, had vanished;
the features had become broader and heavier, betraying all the
stigmata of the life he lived, advertising the man's
self-indulgence, harshness, and brutality.
Even his human affiliations were descending. Playing a lone
hand, contemptuous of most of the men with whom he played,
lacking in sympathy or understanding of them, and certainly
independent of them, he found little in common with those to be
encountered, say at the Alta-Pacific. In point of fact, when the
battle with the steamship companies was at its height and his
raid was inflicting incalculable damage on all business
interests, he had been asked to resign from the Alta-Pacific.
The idea had been rather to his liking, and he had found new
quarters in clubs like the Riverside, organized and practically
maintained by the city bosses. He found that he really liked
such men better. They were more primitive and simple, and they
did not put on airs. They were honest buccaneers, frankly in the
game for what they could get out of it, on the surface more raw
and savage, but at least not glossed over with oily or graceful
hypocrisy. The Alta-Pacific had suggested that his resignation
be kept a private matter, and then had privily informed the
newspapers. The latter had made great capital out of the forced
resignation, but Daylight had grinned and silently gone his way,
though registering a black mark against more than one club member
who was destined to feel, in the days to come, the crushing
weight of the Klondiker's financial paw.
The storm-centre of a combined newspaper attack lasting for
months, Daylight's character had been torn to shreds. There was
no fact in his history that had not been distorted into a
criminality or a vice. This public making of him over into an
iniquitous monster had pretty well crushed any lingering hope he
had of getting acquainted with Dede Mason. He felt that there
was no chance for her ever to look kindly on a man of his
caliber, and, beyond increasing her salary to seventy-five
dollars a month, he proceeded gradually to forget about her. The
increase was made known to her through Morrison, and later she
thanked Daylight, and that was the end of it.
One week-end, feeling heavy and depressed and tired of the city
and its ways, he obeyed the impulse of a whim that was later to
play an important part in his life. The desire to get out of the
city for a whiff of country air and for a change of scene was the
cause. Yet, to himself, he made the excuse of going to Glen
Ellen for the purpose of inspecting the brickyard with which
Holdsworthy had goldbricked him.
He spent the night in the little country hotel, and on Sunday
morning, astride a saddle-horse rented from the Glen Ellen
butcher, rode out of the village. The brickyard was close at
hand on the flat beside the Sonoma Creek. The kilns were visible
among the trees, when he glanced to the left and caught sight of
a cluster of wooded knolls half a mile away, perched on the
rolling slopes of Sonoma Mountain. The mountain, itself wooded,
towered behind. The trees on the knolls seemed to beckon to him.
The dry, early-summer air, shot through with sunshine, was wine
to him. Unconsciously he drank it in deep breaths. The prospect
of the brickyard was uninviting. He was jaded with all things
business, and the wooded knolls were calling to him. A horse was
between his legs--a good horse, he decided; one that sent him
to the cayuses he had ridden during his eastern Oregon boyhood.
had been somewhat of a rider in those early days, and the champ
bit and creak of saddle-leather sounded good to him now.
Resolving to have his fun first, and to look over the brickyard
afterward, he rode on up the hill, prospecting for a way across
country to get to the knolls. He left the country road at the
first gate he came to and cantered through a hayfield. The grain
was waist-high on either side the wagon road, and he sniffed the
warm aroma of it with delighted nostrils. Larks flew up before
him, and from everywhere came mellow notes. From the appearance
of the road it was patent that it had been used for hauling clay
to the now idle brickyard. Salving his conscience with the idea
that this was part of the inspection, he rode on to the
clay-pit--a huge scar in a hillside. But he did not linger long,
swinging off again to the left and leaving the road. Not a
farm-house was in sight, and the change from the city crowding
was essentially satisfying. He rode now through open woods,
across little flower-scattered glades, till he came upon a
spring. Flat on the ground, he drank deeply of the clear water,
and, looking about him, felt with a shock the beauty of the
world. It came to him like a discovery; he had never realized it
before, he concluded, and also, he had forgotten much. One could
not sit in at high finance and keep track of such things. As he
drank in the air, the scene, and the distant song of larks, he
felt like a poker-player rising from a night-long table and
coming forth from the pent atmosphere to taste the freshness of
At the base of the knolls he encountered a tumble-down
stake-and-rider fence. From the look of it he judged it must be
forty years old at least--the work of some first pioneer who had
taken up the land when the days of gold had ended. The woods
were very thick here, yet fairly clear of underbrush, so that,
while the blue sky was screened by the arched branches, he was
able to ride beneath. He now found himself in a nook of several
acres, where the oak and manzanita and madrono gave way to
clusters of stately redwoods. Against the foot of a steep-sloped
knoll he came upon a magnificent group of redwoods that seemed to
have gathered about a tiny gurgling spring.
He halted his horse, for beside the spring uprose a wild
California lily. It was a wonderful flower, growing there in the
cathedral nave of lofty trees. At least eight feet in height,
its stem rose straight and slender, green and bare for two-thirds
its length, and then burst into a shower of snow-white waxen
bells. There were hundreds of these blossoms, all from the one
stem, delicately poised and ethereally frail. Daylight had never
seen anything like it. Slowly his gaze wandered from it to all
that was about him. He took off his hat, with almost a vague
religious feeling. This was different. No room for contempt and
evil here. This was clean and fresh and beautiful-something he
could respect. It was like a church. The atmosphere was one of
holy calm. Here man felt the prompting of nobler things. Much
of this and more was in Daylight's heart as he looked about him.
But it was not a concept of his mind. He merely felt it without
thinking about it at all.
On the steep incline above the spring grew tiny maidenhair ferns,
while higher up were larger ferns and brakes. Great,
moss-covered trunks of fallen trees lay here and there, slowly
sinking back and merging into the level of the forest mould.
Beyond, in a slightly clearer space, wild grape and honeysuckle
swung in green riot from gnarled old oak trees. A gray Douglas
squirrel crept out on a branch and watched him. From somewhere
came the distant knocking of a woodpecker. This sound did not
disturb the hush and awe of the place. Quiet woods, noises
belonged there and made the solitude complete. The tiny bubbling
ripple of the spring and the gray flash of tree-squirrel were as
yardsticks with which to measure the silence and motionless
"Might be a million miles from anywhere," Daylight whispered to
But ever his gaze returned to the wonderful lily beside the
He tethered the horse and wandered on foot among the knolls.
Their tops were crowned with century-old spruce trees, and their
sides clothed with oaks and madronos and native holly. But to
the perfect redwoods belonged the small but deep canon that
threaded its way among the knolls. Here he found no passage out
for his horse, and he returned to the lily beside the spring. On
foot, tripping, stumbling, leading the animal, he forced his way
up the hillside. And ever the ferns carpeted the way of his
feet, ever the forest climbed with him and arched overhead, and
ever the clean joy and sweetness stole in upon his senses.
On the crest he came through an amazing thicket of velvet-trunked
young madronos, and emerged on an open hillside that led down
a tiny valley. The sunshine was at first dazzling in its
brightness, and he paused and rested, for he was panting from the
exertion. Not of old had he known shortness of breath such as
this, and muscles that so easily tired at a stiff climb. A tiny
stream ran down the tiny valley through a tiny meadow that was
carpeted knee-high with grass and blue and white nemophila. The
hillside was covered with Mariposa lilies and wild hyacinth, down
through which his horse dropped slowly, with circumspect feet and
Crossing the stream, Daylight followed a faint cattle trail over
a low, rocky hill and through a wine-wooded forest of manzanita,
and emerged upon another tiny valley, down which filtered another
spring-fed, meadow-bordered streamlet. A jack-rabbit bounded
from a bush under his horse's nose, leaped the stream, and
vanished up the opposite hillside of scrub-oak. Daylight watched
it admiringly as he rode on to the head of the meadow. Here he
startled up a many-pronged buck, that seemed to soar across the
meadow, and to soar over the stake-and-rider fence, and, still
soaring, disappeared in a friendly copse beyond.
Daylight's delight was unbounded. It seemed to him that he had
never been so happy. His old woods' training was aroused, and he
was keenly interested in everything in the moss on the trees and
branches; in the bunches of mistletoe hanging in the oaks; in the
nest of a wood-rat; in the water-cress growing in the sheltered
eddies of the little stream; in the butterflies drifting through
the rifted sunshine and shadow; in the blue jays that flashed in
splashes of gorgeous color across the forest aisles; in the tiny
birds, like wrens, that hopped among the bushes and imitated
certain minor quail-calls; and in the crimson-crested woodpecker
that ceased its knocking and cocked its head on one side to
survey him. Crossing the stream, he struck faint vestiges of a
wood-road, used, evidently, a generation back, when the meadow
had been cleared of its oaks. He found a hawk's nest on the
lightning-shattered tipmost top of a six-foot redwood. And to
complete it all his horse stumbled upon several large broods of
half-grown quail, and the air was filled with the thrum of their
flight. He halted and watched the young ones "petrifying" and
disappearing on the ground before his eyes, and listening to the
anxious calls of the old ones hidden in the thickets.
"It sure beats country places and bungalows at Menlo Park," he
communed aloud; "and if ever I get the hankering for country
life, it's me for this every time."
The old wood-road led him to a clearing, where a dozen acres of
grapes grew on wine-red soil. A cow-path, more trees and
thickets, and he dropped down a hillside to the southeast
exposure. Here, poised above a big forested canon, and looking
out upon Sonoma Valley, was a small farm-house. With its barn
and outhouses it snuggled into a nook in the hillside, which
protected it from west and north. It was the erosion from this
hillside, he judged, that had formed the little level stretch of
vegetable garden. The soil was fat and black, and there was
water in plenty, for he saw several faucets running wide open.
Forgotten was the brickyard. Nobody was at home, but Daylight
dismounted and ranged the vegetable garden, eating strawberries
and green peas, inspecting the old adobe barn and the rusty
plough and harrow, and rolling and smoking cigarettes while he
watched the antics of several broods of young chickens and the
mother hens. A foottrail that led down the wall of the big
canyon invited him, and he proceeded to follow it. A
water-pipe, usually above ground, paralleled the trail, which he
concluded led upstream to the bed of the creek. The wall of the
canon was several hundred feet from top to bottom, and
magnificent were the untouched trees that the place was plunged
in perpetual shade. He measured with his eye spruces five and
six feet in diameter and redwoods even larger. One such he
passed, a twister that was at least ten or eleven feet through.
The trail led straight to a small dam where was the intake for
the pipe that watered the vegetable garden. Here, beside the
stream, were alders and laurel trees, and he walked through
fern-brakes higher than his head. Velvety moss was everywhere,
out of which grew maiden-hair and gold-back ferns.
Save for the dam, it was a virgin wild. No ax had invaded, and
the trees died only of old age and stress of winter storm. The
huge trunks of those that had fallen lay moss-covered, slowly
resolving back into the soil from which they sprang. Some had
lain so long that they were quite gone, though their faint
outlines, level with the mould, could still be seen. Others
bridged the stream, and from beneath the bulk of one monster half
a dozen younger trees, overthrown and crushed by the fall,
growing out along the ground, still lived and prospered, their
roots bathed by the stream, their upshooting branches catching
the sunlight through the gap that had been made in the forest
Back at the farm-house, Daylight mounted and rode on away from
the ranch and into the wilder canons and steeper steeps beyond.
Nothing could satisfy his holiday spirit now but the ascent of
Sonoma Mountain. And here on the crest, three hours afterward,
he emerged, tired and sweaty, garments torn and face and hands
scratched, but with sparkling eyes and an unwonted zestfulness of
expression. He felt the illicit pleasure of a schoolboy playing
truant. The big gambling table of San Francisco seemed very far
away. But there was more than illicit pleasure in his mood. It
was as though he were going through a sort of cleansing bath. No
room here for all the sordidness, meanness, and viciousness that
filled the dirty pool of city existence. Without pondering in
detail upon the matter at all, his sensations were of
purification and uplift. Had he been asked to state how he felt,
he would merely have said that he was having a good time; for he
was unaware in his self-consciousness of the potent charm of
nature that was percolating through his city-rotted body and
brain--potent, in that he came of an abysmal past of wilderness
dwellers, while he was himself coated with but the thinnest rind
of crowded civilization.
There were no houses in the summit of Sonoma Mountain, and, all
alone under the azure California sky, he reined in on the
southern edge of the peak. He saw open pasture country,
intersected with wooded canons, descending to the south and west
from his feet, crease on crease and roll on roll, from lower
level to lower level, to the floor of Petaluma Valley, flat as a
billiard-table, a cardboard affair, all patches and squares of
geometrical regularity where the fat freeholds were farmed.
Beyond, to the west, rose range on range of mountains cuddling
purple mists of atmosphere in their valleys; and still beyond,
over the last range of all, he saw the silver sheen of the
Pacific. Swinging his horse, he surveyed the west and north,
from Santa Rosa to St. Helena, and on to the east, across Sonoma
to the chaparral-covered range that shut off the view of Napa
Valley. Here, part way up the eastern wall of Sonoma Valley, in
range of a line intersecting the little village of Glen Ellen, he
made out a scar upon a hillside. His first thought was that it
was the dump of a mine tunnel, but remembering that he was not in
gold-bearing country, he dismissed the scar from his mind and
continued the circle of his survey to the southeast, where,
across the waters of San Pablo Bay, he could see, sharp and
distant, the twin peaks of Mount Diablo. To the south was Mount
Tamalpais, and, yes, he was right, fifty miles away, where the
draughty winds of the Pacific blew in the Golden Gate, the smoke
of San Francisco made a low-lying haze against the sky.
"I ain't seen so much country all at once in many a day," he
He was loath to depart, and it was not for an hour that he was
able to tear himself away and take the descent of the mountain.
Working out a new route just for the fun of it, late afternoon
was upon him when he arrived back at the wooded knolls. Here, on
the top of one of them, his keen eyes caught a glimpse of a shade
of green sharply differentiated from any he had seen all day.
Studying it for a minute, he concluded that it was composed of
three cypress trees, and he knew that nothing else than the hand
of man could have planted them there. Impelled by curiosity
purely boyish, he made up his mind to investigate. So densely
wooded was the knoll, and so steep, that he had to dismount and
go up on foot, at times even on hands and knees struggling hard
to force a way through the thicker underbrush. He came out
abruptly upon the cypresses. They were enclosed in a small
square of ancient fence; the pickets he could plainly see had
been hewn and sharpened by hand. Inside were the mounds of two
children's graves. Two wooden headboards, likewise hand-hewn,
told the state Little David, born 1855, died 1859; and Little
Roy, born 1853, died 1860.
"The poor little kids," Daylight muttered. The graves showed
signs of recent care. Withered bouquets of wild flowers were on
the mounds, and the lettering on the headboards was freshly
painted. Guided by these clews, Daylight cast about for a trail,
and found one leading down the side opposite to his ascent.
Circling the base of the knoll, he picked up with his horse and
rode on to the farm-house. Smoke was rising from the chimney and
he was quickly in conversation with a nervous, slender young man,
who, he learned, was only a tenant on the ranch. How large was
it? A matter of one hundred and eighty acres, though it seemed
much larger. This was because it was so irregularly shaped.
Yes, it included the clay-pit and all the knolls, and its
boundary that ran along the big canon was over a mile long.
"You see," the young man said, "it was so rough and broken that
when they began to farm this country the farmers bought in the
good land to the edge of it. That's why its boundaries are all
gouged and jagged."
"Oh, yes, he and his wife managed to scratch a living without
working too hard. They didn't have to pay much rent. Hillard,
the owner, depended on the income from the clay-pit. Hillard was
well off, and had big ranches and vineyards down on the flat of
the valley. The brickyard paid ten cents a cubic yard for the
clay. As for the rest of the ranch, the land was good in
patches, where it was cleared, like the vegetable garden and the
vineyard, but the rest of it was too much up-and-down.
"You're not a farmer," Daylight said. The young man laughed and
shook his head. "No; I'm a telegraph operator. But the wife and
I decided to take a two years' vacation, and... here we are
But the time's about up. I'm going back into the office this
fall after I get the grapes off."
Yes, there were about eleven acres in the vineyard--wine grapes.
The price was usually good. He grew most of what they ate. If
he owned the place, he'd clear a patch of land on the side-hill
above the vineyard and plant a small home orchard. The soil was
good. There was plenty of pasturage all over the ranch, and
there were several cleared patches, amounting to about fifteen
acres in all, where he grew as much mountain hay as could be
found. It sold for three to five dollars more a ton than the
rank-stalked valley hay.
Daylight listened, there came to him a sudden envy of this young
fellow living right in the midst of all this which Daylight had
travelled through the last few hours.
"What in thunder are you going back to the telegraph office for?"
The young man smiled with a certain wistfulness. "Because we
can't get ahead here..." (he hesitated an instant), "and
because there are added expenses coming. The rent, small as it
is, counts; and besides, I'm not strong enough to effectually
farm the place. If I owned it, or if I were a real husky like
you, I'd ask nothing better. Nor would the wife." Again the
wistful smile hovered on his face. "You see, we're country born,
and after bucking with cities for a few years, we kind of feel we
like the country best. We've planned to get ahead, though, and
then some day we'll buy a patch of land and stay with it."
The graves of the children? Yes, he had relettered them and hoed
the weeds out. It had become the custom. Whoever lived on the
ranch did that. For years, the story ran, the father and mother
had returned each summer to the graves. But there had come a
time when they came no more, and then old Hillard started the
custom. The scar across the valley? An old mine. It had never
paid. The men had worked on it, off and on, for years, for the
indications had been good. But that was years and years ago. No
paying mine had ever been struck in the valley, though there had
been no end of prospect-holes put down and there had been a sort
of rush there thirty years back.
A frail-looking young woman came to the door to call the young
man to supper. Daylight's first thought was that city living had
not agreed with her. And then he noted the slight tan and
healthy glow that seemed added to her face, and he decided that
the country was the place for her. Declining an invitation to
supper, he rode on for Glen Ellen sitting slack-kneed in the
saddle and softly humming forgotten songs. He dropped down the
rough, winding road through covered pasture, with here and
there thickets of manzanita and vistas of open glades. He
listened greedily to the quail calling, and laughed outright,
once, in sheer joy, at a tiny chipmunk that fled scolding up a
bank, slipping on the crumbly surface and falling down, then
dashing across the road under his horse's nose and, still
scolding, scrabbling up a protecting oak.
Daylight could not persuade himself to keep to the travelled
roads that day, and another cut across country to Glen Ellen
brought him upon a canon that so blocked his way that he was glad
to follow a friendly cow-path. This led him to a small frame
cabin. The doors and windows were open, and a cat was nursing a
litter of kittens in the doorway, but no one seemed at home. He
descended the trail that evidently crossed the canon. Part way
down, he met an old man coming up through the sunset. In his
hand he carried a pail of foamy milk. He wore no hat, and in his
face, framed with snow-white hair and beard, was the ruddy glow
and content of the passing summer day. Daylight thought that he
had never seen so contented-looking a being.
"How old are you, daddy?" he queried.
"Eighty-four," was the reply. "Yes, sirree, eighty-four,and
"You must a' taken good care of yourself," Daylight suggested.
"I don't know about that. I ain't loafed none. I walked across
the Plains with an ox-team and fit Injuns in '51, and I was a
family man then with seven youngsters. I reckon I was as old
then as you are now, or pretty nigh on to it."
"Don't you find it lonely here?"
The old man shifted the pail of milk and reflected. "That all
depends," he said oracularly. "I ain't never been lonely except
when the old wife died. Some fellers are lonely in a crowd, and
I'm one of them. That's the only time I'm lonely, is when I go
to 'Frisco. But I don't go no more, thank you 'most to death.
This is good enough for me. I've ben right here in this valley
since '54--one of the first settlers after the Spaniards."
Daylight started his horse, saying:-
"Well, good night, daddy. Stick with it. You got all the young
bloods skinned, and I guess you've sure buried a mighty sight of
The old man chuckled, and Daylight rode on, singularly at peace
with himself and all the world. It seemed that the old
contentment of trail and camp he had known on the Yukon had come
back to him. He could not shake from his eyes the picture of the
old pioneer coming up the trail through the sunset light. He was
certainly going some for eighty-four. The thought of following
his example entered Daylight's mind, but the big game of San
Francisco vetoed the idea.
"Well, anyway," he decided, "when I get old and quit the game,
I'll settle down in a place something like this, and the city can
go to hell."
Instead of returning to the city on Monday, Daylight rented the
butcher's horse for another day and crossed the bed of the valley
to its eastern hills to look at the mine. It was dryer and
here than where he had been the day before, and the ascending
slopes supported mainly chaparral, scrubby and dense and
to penetrate on horseback. But in the canyons water was
and also a luxuriant forest growth. The mine was an abandoned
affair, but he enjoyed the half-hour's scramble
around. He had had experience in quartz-mining before he went to
Alaska, and he enjoyed the recrudescence of his old wisdom in
such matters. The story was simple to him: good prospects that
warranted the starting of the tunnel into the sidehill; the three
months' work and the getting short of money; the lay-off while
the men went away and got jobs; then the return and a new stretch
of work, with the "pay" ever luring and ever receding into the
mountain, until, after years of hope, the men had given up and
vanished. Most likely they were dead by now, Daylight thought,
he turned in the saddle and looked back across the canyon at the
ancient dump and dark mouth of the tunnel.
As on the previous day, just for the joy of it, he followed
cattle-trails at haphazard and worked his way up toward the
summits. Coming out on a wagon road that led upward, he followed
it for several miles, emerging in a small, mountain-encircled
valley, where half a dozen poor ranchers farmed the wine-grapes
on the steep slopes. Beyond, the road pitched upward. Dense
chaparral covered the exposed hillsides but in the creases of the
canons huge spruce trees grew, and wild oats and flowers.
Half an hour later, sheltering under the summits themselves, he
came out on a clearing. Here and there, in irregular patches
where the steep and the soil favored, wine grapes were growing.
Daylight could see that it had been a stiff struggle, and that
wild nature showed fresh signs of winning--chaparral that had
invaded the clearings; patches and parts of patches of vineyard,
unpruned, grassgrown, and abandoned; and everywhere old
stake-and-rider fences vainly striving to remain intact. Here,
at a small farm-house surrounded by large outbuildings, the road
ended. Beyond, the chaparral blocked the way.
He came upon an old woman forking manure in the barnyard, and
reined in by the fence.
"Hello, mother," was his greeting; "ain't you got any men-folk
around to do that for you?"
She leaned on her pitchfork, hitched her skirt in at the waist,
and regarded him cheerfully. He saw that her toil-worn,
weather-exposed hands were like a man's, callused,
large-knuckled, and gnarled, and that her stockingless feet were
thrust into heavy man's brogans.
"Nary a man," she answered. "And where be you from, and all the
way up here? Won't you stop and hitch and have a glass of wine?"
Striding clumsily but efficiently, like a laboring-man, she led
him into the largest building, where Daylight saw a hand-press
and all the paraphernalia on a small scale for the making of
wine. It was too far and too bad a road to haul the grapes to
the valley wineries, she explained, and so they were compelled to
do it themselves. "They," he learned, were she and her daughter,
the latter a widow of forty-odd. It had been easier before the
grandson died and before he went away to fight savages in the
Philippines. He had died out there in battle.
Daylight drank a full tumbler of excellent Riesling, talked a few
minutes, and accounted for a second tumbler. Yes, they just
managed not to starve. Her husband and she had taken up this
government land in '57 and cleared it and farmed it ever since,
until he died, when she had carried it on. It actually didn't
pay for the toil, but what were they to do? There was the wine
trust, and wine was down. That Riesling? She delivered it to
railroad down in the valley for twenty-two cents a gallon. And
it was a long haul. It took a day for the round trip. Her
daughter was gone now with a load.
Daylight knew that in the hotels, Riesling, not quite so good
even, was charged for at from a dollar and a half to two dollars
a quart. And she got twenty-two cents a gallon. That was the
game. She was one of the stupid lowly, she and her people before
her--the ones that did the work, drove their oxen across the
Plains, cleared and broke the virgin land, toiled all days and
all hours, paid their taxes, and sent their sons and grandsons
out to fight and die for the flag that gave them such ample
protection that they were able to sell their wine for twenty-two
cents. The same wine was served to him at the St. Francis for
two dollars a quart, or eight dollars a short gallon. That was
Between her and her hand-press on the mountain clearing and him
ordering his wine in the hotel was a difference of seven dollars
and seventy-eight cents. A clique of sleek men in the city got
between her and him to just about that amount. And, besides
them, there was a horde of others that took their whack. They
called it railroading, high finance, banking, wholesaling, real
estate, and such things, but the point was that they got it,
while she got what was left,--twenty-two cents. Oh, well, a
sucker was born every minute, he sighed to himself, and nobody
was to blame; it was all a game, and only a few could win, but it
was damned hard on the suckers.
"How old are you, mother?" he asked.
"Seventy-nine come next January."
"Worked pretty hard, I suppose?"
"Sense I was seven. I was bound out in Michigan state until I
was woman-grown. Then I married, and I reckon the work got
harder and harder."
"When are you going to take a rest?"
She looked at him, as though she chose to think his question
facetious, and did not reply.
"Do you believe in God?"
She nodded her head.
"Then you get it all back," he assured her; but in his heart he
was wondering about God, that allowed so many suckers to be born
and that did not break up the gambling game by which they were
robbed from the cradle to the grave.
"How much of that Riesling you got?"
She ran her eyes over the casks and calculated. "Just short of
eight hundred gallons."
He wondered what he could do with all of it, and speculated as to
whom he could give it away.
"What would you do if you got a dollar a gallon for it?" he
"Drop dead, I suppose."
"No; speaking seriously."
"Get me some false teeth, shingle the house, and buy a new wagon.
The road's mighty hard on wagons."
"And after that?"
"Buy me a coffin."
"Well, they're yours, mother, coffin and all."
She looked her incredulity.
"No; I mean it. And there's fifty to bind the bargain. Never
the receipt. It's the rich ones that need watching, their
being so infernal short, you know. Here's my address. You've
to deliver it to the railroad. And now, show me the way out of
here. I want to get up to the top."
On through the chaparral he went, following faint cattle.
trails and working slowly upward till he came out on the divide
and gazed down into Napa Valley and back across to Sonoma
Mountain... "A sweet land," he muttered, "an almighty sweet
Circling around to the right and dropping down along the
cattle-trails, he quested for another way back to Sonoma Valley;
but the cattle-trails seemed to fade out, and the chaparral to
grow thicker with a deliberate viciousness and even when he won
through in places, the canon and small feeders were too
precipitous for his horse, and turned him back. But there was no
irritation about it. He enjoyed it all, for he was back at his
old game of bucking nature. Late in the afternoon he broke
through, and followed a well-defined trail down a dry canon.
Here he got a fresh thrill. He had heard the baying of the hound
some minutes before, and suddenly, across the bare face of the
hill above him, he saw a large buck in flight. And not far
behind came the deer-hound, a magnificent animal. Daylight sat
tense in his saddle and watched until they disappeared, his
breath just a trifle shorter, as if he, too, were in the chase,
his nostrils distended, and in his bones the old hunting ache and
memories of the days before he came to live in cities.
The dry canon gave place to one with a slender ribbon of running
water. The trail ran into a wood-road, and the wood-road emerged
across a small flat upon a slightly travelled county road. There
were no farms in this immediate section, and no houses. The soil
was meagre, the bed-rock either close to the surface or
constituting the surface itself. Manzanita and scrub-oak,
however, flourished and walled the road on either side with a
jungle growth. And out a runway through this growth a man
suddenly scuttled in a way that reminded Daylight of a rabbit.
He was a little man, in patched overalls; bareheaded, with a
cotton shirt open at the throat and down the chest. The sun was
ruddy-brown in his face, and by it his sandy hair was bleached on
the ends to peroxide blond. He signed to Daylight to halt, and
held up a letter. "If you're going to town, I'd be obliged if
you mail this."
"I sure will." Daylight put it into his coat pocket.
"Do you live hereabouts, stranger?"
But the little man did not answer. He was gazing at Daylight in
a surprised and steadfast fashion.
"I know you," the little man announced. "You're Elam
Harnish--Burning Daylight, the papers call you. Am I right?"
"But what under the sun are you doing here in the chaparral?"
Daylight grinned as he answered, "Drumming up trade for a free
rural delivery route."
"Well, I'm glad I wrote that letter this afternoon," the little
man went on, "or else I'd have missed seeing you. I've seen your
photo in the papers many a time, and I've a good memory for
faces. I recognized you at once. My name's Ferguson."
"Do you live hereabouts?" Daylight repeated his query.
"Oh, yes. I've got a little shack back here in the bush a hundred
yards, and a pretty spring, and a few fruit trees and berry
Come in and take a look. And that spring is a dandy. You never
tasted water like it. Come in and try it."
Walking and leading his horse, Daylight followed the
quick-stepping eager little man through the green tunnel and
emerged abruptly upon the clearing, if clearing it might be
called, where wild nature and man's earth-scratching were
inextricably blended. It was a tiny nook in the hills, protected
by the steep walls of a canon mouth. Here were several large
oaks, evidencing a richer soil. The erosion of ages from the
hillside had slowly formed this deposit of fat earth. Under the
oaks, almost buried in them, stood a rough, unpainted cabin, the
wide verandah of which, with chairs and hammocks, advertised an
out-of doors bedchamber. Daylight's keen eyes took in every
thing. The clearing was irregular, following the patches of the
best soil, and every fruit tree and berry bush, and even each
vegetable plant, had the water personally conducted to it. The
tiny irrigation channels were every where, and along some of them
the water was running.
Ferguson looked eagerly into his visitor's face for signs of
"What do you think of it, eh?"
"Hand-reared and manicured, every blessed tree," Daylight
laughed, but the joy and satisfaction that shone in his eyes
contented the little man.
"Why, d'ye know, I know every one of those trees as if they were
sons of mine. I planted them, nursed them, fed them, and brought
them up. Come on and peep at the spring."
"It's sure a hummer," was Daylight's verdict, after due
inspection and sampling, as they turned back for the house.
The interior was a surprise. The cooking being done in the
small, lean-to kitchen, the whole cabin formed a large living
room. A great table in the middle was comfortably littered with
books and magazines. All the available wall space, from floor to
ceiling, was occupied by filled bookshelves. It seemed to
Daylight that he had never seen so many books assembled in one
place. Skins of wildcat, 'coon, and deer lay about on the
"Shot them myself, and tanned them, too," Ferguson proudly
The crowning feature of the room was a huge fireplace of rough
stones and boulders.
"Built it myself," Ferguson proclaimed, "and, by God, she drew!
Never a wisp of smoke anywhere save in the pointed channel, and
that during the big southeasters.
Daylight found himself charmed and made curious by the little
man. Why was he hiding away here in the chaparral, he and his
books? He was nobody's fool, anybody could see that. Then why?
The whole affair had a tinge of adventure, and Daylight accepted
an invitation to supper, half prepared to find his host a
raw-fruit-and-nut-eater or some similar sort of health faddest.
At table, while eating rice and jack-rabbit curry (the latter
shot by Ferguson), they talked it over, and Daylight found the
little man had no food "views." He ate whatever he liked, and
all he wanted, avoiding only such combinations that experience
had taught him disagreed with his digestion.
Next, Daylight surmised that he might be touched with religion;
but, quest about as he would, in a conversation covering the most
divergent topics, he could find no hint of queerness or
unusualness. So it was, when between them they had washed and
wiped the dishes and put them away, and had settled down to a
comfortable smoke, that Daylight put his question.
"Look here, Ferguson. Ever since we got together, I've been
casting about to find out what's wrong with you, to locate a
screw loose somewhere, but I'll be danged if I've succeeded.
What are you doing here, anyway? What made you come here? What
were you doing for a living before you came here? Go ahead and
Ferguson frankly showed his pleasure at the questions.
"First of all," he began, "the doctors wound up by losing all
hope for me. Gave me a few months at best, and that, after a
course in sanatoriums and a trip to Europe and another to
Hawaii. They tried electricity, and forced feeding, and fasting.
I was a graduate of about everything in the curriculum. They
kept me poor with their bills while I went from bad to worse.
The trouble with me was two fold: first, I was a born weakling;
and next, I was living unnaturally--too much work, and
responsibility, and strain. I was managing editor of the
Daylight gasped mentally, for the Times-Tribune was the biggest
and most influential paper in San Francisco, and always had been
"--and I wasn't strong enough for the strain. Of course my body
went back on me, and my mind, too, for that matter. It had to be
bolstered up with whiskey, which wasn't good for it any more than
was the living in clubs and hotels good for my stomach and the
rest of me. That was what ailed me; I was living all wrong."
He shrugged his shoulders and drew at his pipe.
"When the doctors gave me up, I wound up my affairs and gave the
doctors up. That was fifteen years ago. I'd been hunting
through here when I was a boy, on vacations from college, and
when I was all down and out it seemed a yearning came to me to go
back to the country. So I quit, quit everything, absolutely, and
came to live in the Valley of the Moon--that's the Indian name,
you know, for Sonoma Valley. I lived in the lean-to the first
year; then I built the cabin and sent for my books. I never knew
what happiness was before, nor health. Look at me now and dare
to tell me that I look forty-seven."
"I wouldn't give a day over forty," Daylight confessed.
"Yet the day I came here I looked nearer sixty, and that was
fifteen years ago."
They talked along, and Daylight looked at the world from new
angles. Here was a man, neither bitter nor cynical, who laughed
at the city-dwellers and called them lunatics; a man who did not
care for money, and in whom the lust for power had long since
died. As for the friendship of the city-dwellers, his host spoke
in no uncertain terms.
"What did they do, all the chaps I knew, the chaps in the clubs
with whom I'd been cheek by jowl for heaven knows how long? I
was not beholden to them for anything, and when I slipped out
there was not one of them to drop me a line and say, 'How are
you, old man? Anything I can do for you?' For several weeks it
was: 'What's become of Ferguson?" After that I became a
reminiscence and a memory. Yet every last one of them knew I had
nothing but my salary and that I'd always lived a lap ahead of
"But what do you do now?" was Daylight's query. "You must need
cash to buy clothes and magazines?"
"A week's work or a month's work, now and again, ploughing in the
winter, or picking grapes in the fall, and there's always odd
jobs with the farmers through the summer. I don't need much, so
I don't have to work much. Most of my time I spend fooling
around the place. I could do hack work for the magazines and
newspapers; but I prefer the ploughing and the grape picking.
Just look at me and you can see why. I'm hard as rocks. And I
like the work. But I tell you a chap's got to break in to it.
It's a great thing when he's learned to pick grapes a whole long
day and come home at the end of it with that tired happy feeling,
instead of being in a state of physical collapse. That
fireplace--those big stones--I was soft, then, a little, anemic,
alcoholic degenerate, with the spunk of a rabbit and about one
per cent as much stamina, and some of those big stones nearly
broke my back and my heart. But I persevered, and used my body
in the way Nature intended it should be used--not bending over a
desk and swilling whiskey... and, well, here I am, a better man
it, and there's the fireplace, fine and dandy, eh?
"And now tell me about the Klondike, and how you turned San
Francisco upside down with that last raid of yours. You're a
bonny fighter, you know, and you touch my imagination, though my
cooler reason tells me that you are a lunatic like the rest. The
lust for power! It's a dreadful affliction. Why didn't you stay
in your Klondike? Or why don't you clear out and live a natural
life, for instance, like mine? You see, I can ask questions,
too. Now you talk and let me listen for a while."
It was not until ten o'clock that Daylight parted from Ferguson.
As he rode along through the starlight, the idea came to him of
buying the ranch on the other side of the valley. There was no
thought in his mind of ever intending to live on it. His game
in San Francisco. But he liked the ranch, and as soon as he got
back to the office he would open up negotiations with Hillard.
Besides, the ranch included the clay-pit, and it would give him
whip-hand over Holdsworthy if he ever tried to cut up any didoes.
The time passed, and Daylight played on at the game. But the
game had entered upon a new phase. The lust for power in the
mere gambling and winning was metamorphosing into the lust for
power in order to revenge. There were many men in San Francisco
against whom he had registered black marks, and now and again,
with one of his lightning strokes, he erased such a mark. He
asked no quarter; he gave no quarter. Men feared and hated him,
and no one loved him, except Larry Hegan, his lawyer, who would
have laid down his life for him. But he was the only man with
whom Daylight was really intimate, though he was on terms of
friendliest camaraderie with the rough and unprincipled following
of the bosses who ruled the Riverside Club.
On the other hand, San Francisco's attitude toward Daylight had
undergone a change. While he, with his slashing buccaneer
methods, was a distinct menace to the more orthodox financial
gamblers, he was nevertheless so grave a menace that they were
glad enough to leave him alone. He had already taught them the
excellence of letting a sleeping dog lie. Many of the men, who
knew that they were in danger of his big bear-paw when it reached
out for the honey vats, even made efforts to placate him, to get
on the friendly side of him. The Alta-Pacific approached him
confidentially with an offer of reinstatement, which he promptly
declined. He was after a number of men in that club, and,
whenever opportunity offered, he reached out for them and mangled
them. Even the newspapers, with one or two blackmailing
exceptions, ceased abusing him and became respectful. In short,
he was looked upon as a bald-faced grizzly from the Arctic wilds
to whom it was considered expedient to give the trail. At the
time he raided the steamship companies, they had yapped at him
and worried him, the whole pack of them, only to have him whirl
around and whip them in the fiercest pitched battle San Francisco
had ever known. Not easily forgotten was the Pacific Slope
Seaman's strike and the giving over of the municipal government
to the labor bosses and grafters. The destruction of Charles
Klinkner and the California and Altamont Trust Company had been a
warning. But it was an isolated case; they had been confident in
strength in numbers--until he taught them better.
Daylight still engaged in daring speculations, as, for instance,
at the impending outbreak of the Japanese-Russian War, when, in
the face of the experience and power of the shipping gamblers, he
reached out and clutched practically a monopoly of available
steamer-charters. There was scarcely a battered tramp on the
Seven Seas that was not his on time charter. As usual, his
position was, "You've got to come and see me"; which they did,
and, to use another of his phrases, they "paid through the nose"
for the privilege. And all his venturing and fighting had now
one motive. Some day, as he confided to Hegan, when he'd made a
sufficient stake, he was going back to New York and knock the
out of Messrs. Dowsett, Letton, and Guggenhammer. He'd
show them what an all-around general buzz-saw he was and what a
mistake they'd made ever to monkey with him. But he never lost
his head, and he knew that he was not yet strong enough to go
into death-grapples with those three early enemies. In the
meantime the black marks against them remained for a future
Dede Mason was still in the office. He had made no more
overtures, discussed no more books and no more grammar. He had
no active interest in her, and she was to him a pleasant memory
of what had never happened, a joy, which, by his essential
nature, he was barred from ever knowing. Yet, while his interest
had gone to sleep and his energy was consumed in the endless
battles he waged, he knew every trick of the light on her hair,
every quick denote mannerism of movement, every line of her
figure as expounded by her tailor-made gowns. Several times, six
months or so apart, he had increased her salary, until now she
was receiving ninety dollars a month. Beyond this he dared not
go, though he had got around it by making the work easier. This
he had accomplished after her return from a vacation, by
retaining her substitute as an assistant. Also, he had changed
his office suite, so that now the two girls had a room by
His eye had become quite critical wherever Dede Mason was
concerned. He had long since noted her pride of carriage. It
was unobtrusive, yet it was there. He decided, from the way she
carried it, that she deemed her body a thing to be proud of, to
be cared for as a beautiful and valued possession. In this, and
in the way she carried her clothes, he compared her with her
assistant, with the stenographers he encountered in other
offices, with the women he saw on the sidewalks. "She's sure
well put up," he communed with himself; "and she sure knows how
to dress and carry it off without being stuck on herself and
without laying it on thick."
The more he saw of her, and the more he thought he knew of her,
the more unapproachable did she seem to him. But since he had no
intention of approaching her, this was anything but an
unsatisfactory fact. He was glad he had her in his office, and
hoped she'd stay, and that was about all.
Daylight did not improve with the passing years. The life was
not good for him. He was growing stout and soft, and there was
unwonted flabbiness in his muscles. The more he drank cocktails,
the more he was compelled to drink in order to get the desired
result, the inhibitions that eased him down from the concert
pitch of his operations. And with this went wine, too, at meals,
and the long drinks after dinner of Scotch and soda at the
Riverside. Then, too, his body suffered from lack of exercise;
and, from lack of decent human associations, his moral fibres
were weakening. Never a man to hide anything, some of his
escapades became public, such as speeding, and of joy-rides in
his big red motor-car down to San Jose with companions distinctly
sporty--incidents that were narrated as good fun and comically in
Nor was there anything to save him. Religion had passed him by.
"A long time dead" was his epitome of that phase of speculation.
He was not interested in humanity. According to his rough-hewn
sociology, it was all a gamble. God was a whimsical, abstract,
mad thing called Luck. As to how one happened to be
a sucker or a robber--was a gamble to begin with; Luck dealt out
the cards, and the little babies picked up the hands allotted
Protest was vain. Those were their cards and they had to play
them, willy-nilly, hunchbacked or straight backed, crippled or
clean-limbed, addle-pated or clear- headed. There was no
in it. The cards most picked up put them into the sucker class;
the cards of a few enabled them to become robbers. The playing
the cards was life--the crowd of players, society.
The table was the earth, and the earth, in lumps and chunks, from
loaves of bread to big red motor-cars, was the stake. And in the
end, lucky and unlucky, they were all a long time dead.
It was hard on the stupid lowly, for they were coppered to lose
from the start; but the more he saw of the others, the apparent
winners, the less it seemed to him that they had anything to brag
about. They, too, were a long time dead, and their living did
not amount to much. It was a wild animal fight; the strong
trampled the weak, and the strong, he had already
like Dowsett, and Letton, and Guggenhammer,--were not necessarily
the best. He remembered his miner comrades of the Arctic. They
were the stupid lowly, they did the hard work and were robbed of
the fruit of their toil just as was the old woman making wine in
the Sonoma hills; and yet they had finer qualities of truth, and
loyalty, and square-dealing than did the men who robbed them.
winners seemed to be the crooked ones, the unfaithful ones, the
wicked ones. And even they had no say in the matter. They
the cards that were given them; and Luck, the monstrous, mad-god
thing, the owner of the whole shebang, looked on and grinned. It
was he who stacked the universal card-deck of existence.
There was no justice in the deal. The little men that came, the
little pulpy babies, were not even asked if they wanted to try a
flutter at the game. They had no choice. Luck jerked them into
life, slammed them up against the jostling table, and told them:
"Now play, damn you, play!" And they did their best, poor little
devils. The play of some led to steam yachts and mansions; of
others, to the asylum or the pauper's ward. Some played the one
same card, over and over, and made wine all their days in the
chaparral, hoping, at the end, to pull down a set of false teeth
and a coffin. Others quit the game early, having drawn cards
that called for violent death, or famine in the Barrens, or
loathsome and lingering disease. The hands of some called for
kingship and irresponsible and numerated power; other hands
called for ambition, for wealth in untold sums, for disgrace and
shame, or for women and wine.
As for himself, he had drawn a lucky hand, though he could not
see all the cards. Somebody or something might get him yet. The
mad god, Luck, might be tricking him along to some such end. An
unfortunate set of circumstances, and in a month's time the
robber gang might be war-dancing around his financial carcass.
This very day a street-car might run him down, or a sign fall
from a building and smash in his skull. Or there was disease,
ever rampant, one of Luck's grimmest whims. Who could say?
To-morrow, or some other day, a ptomaine bug, or some other of a
thousand bugs, might jump out upon him and drag him down. There
was Doctor Bascom, Lee Bascom who had stood beside him a week ago
and talked and argued, a picture of magnificent youth, and
strength, and health. And in three days he was dead--pneumonia,
rheumatism of the heart, and heaven knew what else--at the end
screaming in agony that could be heard a block away. That had
been terrible. It was a fresh, raw stroke in Daylight's
consciousness. And when would his own turn come? Who could say?
In the meantime there was nothing to do but play the cards he
could see in his hand, and they were BATTLE, REVENGE, AND
COCKTAILS. And Luck sat over all and grinned.
One Sunday, late in the afternoon, found Daylight across the bay
in the Piedmont hills back of Oakland. As usual, he was in a big
motor-car, though not his own, the guest of Swiftwater Bill,
Luck's own darling, who had come down to spend the clean-up of
the seventh fortune wrung from the frozen Arctic gravel. A
notorious spender, his latest pile was already on the fair road
to follow the previous six. He it was, in the first year of
Dawson, who had cracked an ocean of champagne at fifty dollars a
quart; who, with the bottom of his gold-sack in sight, had
cornered the egg-market, at twenty-four dollars per dozen, to the
tune of one hundred and ten dozen, in order to pique the
lady-love who had jilted him; and he it was, paying like a prince
for speed, who had chartered special trains and broken all
records between San Francisco and New York. And here he was once
more, the "luck-pup of hell," as Daylight called him, throwing
his latest fortune away with the same old-time facility.
It was a merry party, and they had made a merry day of it,
circling the bay from San Francisco around by San Jose and up to
Oakland, having been thrice arrested for speeding, the third
time, however, on the Haywards stretch, running away with their
captor. Fearing that a telephone message to arrest them had been
flashed ahead, they had turned into the back-road through the
hills, and now, rushing in upon Oakland by a new route, were
boisterously discussing what disposition they should make of the
"We'll come out at Blair Park in ten minutes," one of the men
announced. "Look here, Swiftwater, there's a crossroads right
ahead, with lots of gates, but it'll take us backcountry clear
into Berkeley. Then we can come back into Oakland from the other
side, sneak across on the ferry, and send the machine back around
to-night with the chauffeur."
But Swiftwater Bill failed to see why he should not go into
Oakland by way of Blair Park, and so decided.
The next moment, flying around a bend, the back-road they were
not going to take appeared. Inside the gate leaning out from her
saddle and just closing it, was a young woman on a chestnut
sorrel. With his first glimpse, Daylight felt there was
something strangely familiar about her. The next moment,
straightening up in the saddle with a movement he could not fail
to identify, she put the horse into a gallop, riding away with
her back toward them. It was Dede Mason--he remembered what
Morrison had told him about her keeping a riding horse, and he
was glad she had not seen him in this riotous company.
Swiftwater Bill stood up, clinging with one hand to the back of
the front seat and waving the other to attract her attention.
His lips were pursed for the piercing whistle for which he was
famous and which Daylight knew of old, when Daylight, with a hook
of his leg and a yank on the shoulder, slammed the startled Bill
down into his seat.
"You m-m-must know the lady," Swiftwater Bill spluttered.
"I sure do," Daylight answered, "so shut up."
"Well, I congratulate your good taste, Daylight. She's a peach,
and she rides like one, too."
Intervening trees at that moment shut her from view, and
Swiftwater Bill plunged into the problem of disposing of their
constable, while Daylight, leaning back with closed eyes, was
still seeing Dede Mason gallop off down the country road.
Swiftwater Bill was right. She certainly could ride. And,
sitting astride, her seat was perfect. Good for Dede! That was
an added point, her having the courage to ride in the only
natural and logical manner. Her head as screwed on right, that
was one thing sure.
On Monday morning, coming in for dictation, he looked at her with
new interest, though he gave no sign of it; and the stereotyped
business passed off in the stereotyped way. But the following
Sunday found him on a horse himself, across the bay and riding
through the Piedmont hills. He made a long day of it, but no
glimpse did he catch of Dede Mason, though he even took the
back-road of many gates and rode on into Berkeley. Here, along
the lines of multitudinous houses, up one street and down
another, he wondered which of them might be occupied by her.
Morrison had said long ago that she lived in Berkeley, and she
had been headed that way in the late afternoon of the previous
Sunday--evidently returning home.
It had been a fruitless day, so far as she was concerned; and yet
not entirely fruitless, for he had enjoyed the open air and the
horse under him to such purpose that, on Monday, his instructions
were out to the dealers to look for the best chestnut sorrel that
money could buy. At odd times during the week he examined
numbers of chestnut sorrels, tried several, and was unsatisfied.
It was not till Saturday that he came upon Bob. Daylight knew
him for what he wanted the moment he laid eyes on him. A large
horse for a riding animal, he was none too large for a big man
like Daylight. In splendid condition, Bob's coat in the sunlight
was a flame of fire, his arched neck a jeweled conflagration.
"He's a sure winner," was Daylight's comment; but the dealer was
not so sanguine. He was selling the horse on commission, and its
owner had insisted on Bob's true charactor being given. The
dealer gave it.
"Not what you'd call a real vicious horse, but a dangerous one.
Full of vinegar and all-round cussedness, but without malice.
Just as soon kill you as not, but in a playful sort of way, you
understand, without meaning to at all. Personally, I wouldn't
think of riding him. But he's a stayer. Look at them lungs.
And look at them legs. Not a blemish. He's never been hurt or
worked. Nobody ever succeeded in taking it out of him. Mountain
horse, too, trail-broke and all that, being raised in rough
country. Sure-footed as a goat, so long as he don't get it into
his head to cut up. Don't shy. Ain't really afraid, but makes
believe. Don't buck, but rears. Got to ride him with a
martingale. Has a bad trick of whirling around without cause
It's his idea of a joke on his rider. It's all just how he feels
One day he'll ride along peaceable and pleasant for twenty miles.
Next day, before you get started, he's well-nigh unmanageable.
Knows automobiles so he can lay down alongside of one and sleep
or eat hay out of it. He'll let nineteen go by without batting
an eye, and mebbe the twentieth, just because he's feeling
he'll cut up over like a range cayuse. Generally
speaking, too lively for a gentleman, and too unexpected.
Present owner nicknamed him Judas Iscariot, and refuses to sell
without the buyer knowing all about him first. There, that's
about all I know, except look at that mane and tail. Ever see
anything like it? Hair as fine as a baby's."
The dealer was right. Daylight examined the mane and found it
finer than any horse's hair he had ever seen. Also, its color
was unusual in that it was almost auburn. While he ran his
fingers through it, Bob turned his head and playfully nuzzled
"Saddle him up, and I'll try him," he told the dealer. "I wonder
if he's used to spurs. No English saddle, mind. Give me a good
Mexican and a curb bit--not too severe, seeing as he likes to
Daylight superintended the preparations, adjusting the curb strap
and the stirrup length, and doing the cinching. He shook his
head at the martingale, but yielded to the dealer's advice and
allowed it to go on. And Bob, beyond spirited restlessness and a
few playful attempts, gave no trouble. Nor in the hour's ride
that followed, save for some permissible curveting and prancing,
did he misbehave. Daylight was delighted; the purchase was
immediately made; and Bob, with riding gear and personal
equipment, was despatched across the bay forthwith to take up his
quarters in the stables of the Oakland Riding Academy.
The next day being Sunday, Daylight was away early, crossing on
the ferry and taking with him Wolf, the leader of his sled team,
the one dog which he had selected to bring with him when he left
Alaska. Quest as he would through the Piedmont hills and along
the many-gated back-road to Berkeley, Daylight saw nothing of
Dede Mason and her chestnut sorrel. But he had little time for
disappointment, for his own chestnut sorrel kept him busy. Bob
proved a handful of impishness and contrariety, and he tried out
his rider as much as his rider tried him out. All of Daylight's
horse knowledge and horse sense was called into play, while Bob,
in turn, worked every trick in his lexicon. Discovering that his
martingale had more slack in it than usual, he proceeded to give
an exhibition of rearing and hind-leg walking. After ten
hopeless minutes of it, Daylight slipped off and tightened the
martingale, whereupon Bob gave an exhibition of angelic goodness.
He fooled Daylight completely. At the end of half an hour of
goodness, Daylight, lured into confidence, was riding along at a
walk and rolling a cigarette, with slack knees and relaxed seat,
the reins lying on the animal's neck. Bob whirled abruptly and
with lightning swiftness, pivoting on his hind legs, his fore
legs just lifted clear of the ground. Daylight found himself
with his right foot out of the stirrup and his arms around the
animal's neck; and Bob took advantage of the situation to bolt
down the road. With a hope that he should not encounter Dede
Mason at that moment, Daylight regained his seat and checked in
Arrived back at the same spot, Bob whirled again. This time
Daylight kept his seat, but, beyond a futile rein across the
neck, did nothing to prevent the evolution. He noted that Bob
whirled to the right, and resolved to keep him straightened out
by a spur on the left. But so abrupt and swift was the whirl
that warning and accomplishment were practically simultaneous.
"Well, Bob," he addressed the animal, at the same time wiping the
sweat from his own eyes, "I'm free to confess that you're sure
the blamedest all-fired quickest creature I ever saw. I guess
the way to fix you is to keep the spur just a-touching--ah! you
For, the moment the spur touched him, his left hind leg had
reached forward in a kick that struck the stirrup a smart blow.
Several times, out of curiosity, Daylight attempted the spur,
and each time Bob's hoof landed the stirrup. Then Daylight,
following the horse's example of the unexpected, suddenly drove
both spurs into him and reached him underneath with the quirt.
"You ain't never had a real licking before," he muttered as Bob,
thus rudely jerked out of the circle of his own impish mental
processes, shot ahead.
Half a dozen times spurs and quirt bit into him, and then
Daylight settled down to enjoy the mad magnificent gallop. No
longer punished, at the end of a half mile Bob eased down into a
fast canter. Wolf, toiling in the rear, was catching up, and
everything was going nicely.
"I'll give you a few pointers on this whirling game, my boy,"
Daylight was saying to him, when Bob whirled.
He did it on a gallop, breaking the gallop off short by fore legs
stiffly planted. Daylight fetched up against his steed's neck
with clasped arms, and at the same instant, with fore feet clear
of the ground, Bob whirled around. Only an excellent rider could
have escaped being unhorsed, and as it was, Daylight was nastily
near to it. By the time he recovered his seat, Bob was in full
career, bolting the way he had come, and making Wolf side-jump to
"All right, darn you!" Daylight grunted, driving in spurs and
quirt again and again. "Back-track you want to go, and
back-track you sure will go till you're dead sick of it."
When, after a time, Bob attempted to ease down the mad pace,
spurs and quirt went into him again with undiminished vim and put
him to renewed effort. And when, at last, Daylight decided
that the horse had had enough, he turned him around abruptly and
put him into a gentle canter on the forward track. After a time
he reined him in to a stop to see if he were breathing painfully.
Standing for a minute, Bob turned his head and nuzzled his
rider's stirrup in a roguish, impatient way, as much as to
intimate that it was time they were going on.
"Well, I'll be plumb gosh darned!" was Daylight's comment. "No
ill-will, no grudge, no nothing-and after that lambasting! You're
sure a hummer, Bob."
Once again Daylight was lulled into fancied security. For an
hour Bob was all that could be desired of a spirited mount, when,
and as usual without warning, he took to whirling and bolting.
Daylight put a stop to this with spurs and quirt, running him
several punishing miles in the direction of his bolt. But when
he turned him around and started forward, Bob proceeded to feign
fright at trees, cows, bushes, Wolf, his own shadow--in short, at
every ridiculously conceivable object. At such times, Wolf lay
down in the shade and looked on, while Daylight wrestled it out.
So the day passed. Among other things, Bob developed a trick of
making believe to whirl and not whirling. This was as
exasperating as the real thing, for each time Daylight was fooled
into tightening his leg grip and into a general muscular tensing
of all his body. And then, after a few make-believe attempts,
Bob actually did whirl and caught Daylight napping again and
landed him in the old position with clasped arms around the neck.
And to the end of the day, Bob continued to be up to one trick or
another; after passing a dozen automobiles on the way into
Oakland, suddenly electing to go mad with fright at a most
ordinary little runabout. And just before he arrived back at the
stable he capped the day with a combined whirling and rearing
broke the martingale and enabled him to gain a perpendicular
position on his hind legs. At this juncture a rotten stirrup
leather parted, and Daylight was all but unhorsed.
But he had taken a liking to the animal, and repented not of his
bargain. He realized that Bob was not vicious nor mean, the
trouble being that he was bursting with high spirits and was
endowed with more than the average horse's intelligence. It was
the spirits and the intelligence, combined with inordinate
roguishness, that made him what he was. What was required to
control him was a strong hand, with tempered sternness and yet
with the requisite touch of brutal dominance.
"It's you or me, Bob," Daylight told him more than once that day.
And to the stableman, that night:--
"My, but ain't he a looker! Ever see anything like him? Best
piece of horseflesh I ever straddled, and I've seen a few in my
And to Bob, who had turned his head and was up to his playful
"Good-by, you little bit of all right. See you again next Sunday
A.M., and just you bring along your whole basket of tricks, you
Throughout the week Daylight found himself almost as much
interested in Bob as in Dede; and, not being in the thick of any
big deals, he was probably more interested in both of them than
in the business game. Bob's trick of whirling was of especial
moment to him. How to overcome it,--that was the thing. Suppose
he did meet with Dede out in the hills; and suppose, by some
lucky stroke of fate, he should manage to be riding alongside of
her; then that whirl of Bob's would be most disconcerting and
embarrassing. He was not particularly anxious for her to see him
thrown forward on Bob's neck. On the other hand, suddenly to
leave her and go dashing down the back-track, plying quirt and
spurs, wouldn't do, either.
What was wanted was a method wherewith to prevent that lightning
whirl. He must stop the animal before it got around. The reins
would not do this. Neither would the spurs. Remained the quirt.
But how to accomplish it? Absent-minded moments were many that
week, when, sitting in his office chair, in fancy he was astride
the wonderful chestnut sorrel and trying to prevent an
whirl. One such moment, toward the end of the week,
occurred in the middle of a conference with Hegan. Hegan,
elaborating a new and dazzling legal vision, became aware that
Daylight was not listening. His eyes had gone lack-lustre, and
he, too, was seeing with inner vision.
"Got it" he cried suddenly. "Hegan, congratulate me. It's as
simple as rolling off a log. All I've got to do is hit him on
the nose, and hit him hard."
Then he explained to the startled Hegan, and became a good
listener again, though he could not refrain now and again from
making audible chuckles of satisfaction and delight. That was
the scheme. Bob always whirled to the right. Very well. He
would double the quirt in his hand and, the instant of the whirl,
that doubled quirt would rap Bob on the nose. The horse didn't
live, after it had once learned the lesson, that would whirl in
the face of the doubled quirt.
More keenly than ever, during that week in the office did
Daylight realize that he had no social, nor even human contacts
with Dede. The situation was such that he could not ask her the
simple question whether or not she was going riding next Sunday.
It was a hardship of a new sort, this being the employer of a
pretty girl. He looked at her often, when the routine work of
the day was going on, the question he could not ask her tickling
at the founts of speech--Was she going riding next Sunday? And
he looked, he wondered how old she was, and what love passages
she had had, must have had, with those college whippersnappers
with whom, according to Morrison, she herded and danced. His
mind was very full of her, those six days between the Sundays,
and one thing he came to know thoroughly well; he wanted her.
And so much did he want her that his old timidity of the
apron-string was put to rout. He, who had run away from women
most of his life, had now grown so courageous as to pursue. Some
Sunday, sooner or later, he would meet her outside the office,
somewhere in the hills, and then, if they did not get acquainted,
it would be because she did not care to get acquainted.
Thus he found another card in the hand the mad god had dealt him.
How important that card was to become he did not dream, yet he
decided that it was a pretty good card. In turn, he doubted.
Maybe it was a trick of Luck to bring calamity and disaster upon
him. Suppose Dede wouldn't have him, and suppose he went on
loving her more and more, harder and harder? All his old
generalized terrors of love revived. He remembered the
disastrous love affairs of men and women he had known in the
past. There was Bertha Doolittle, old Doolittle's daughter, who
had been madly in love with Dartworthy, the rich Bonanza fraction
owner; and Dartworthy, in turn, not loving Bertha at all, but
madly loving Colonel Walthstone's wife and eloping down the Yukon
with her; and Colonel Walthstone himself, madly loving his own
wife and lighting out in pursuit of the fleeing couple. And what
had been the outcome? Certainly Bertha's love had been
unfortunate and tragic, and so had the love of the other three.
Down below Minook, Colonel Walthstone and Dartworthy had fought
it out. Dartworthy had been killed. A bullet through the
Colonel's lungs had so weakened him that he died of pneumonia the
following spring. And the Colonel's wife had no one left alive
on earth to love.
And then there was Freda, drowning herself in the running
mush-ice because of some man on the other side of the world, and
hating him, Daylight, because he had happened along and pulled
her out of the mush-ice and back to life. And the Virgin....
The old memories frightened him. If this love-germ gripped him
good and hard, and if Dede wouldn't have him, it might be almost
as bad as being gouged out of all he had by Dowsett, Letton, and
Guggenhammer. Had his nascent desire for Dede been less, he
might well have been frightened out of all thought of her. As it
was, he found consolation in the thought that some love affairs
did come out right. And for all he knew, maybe Luck had stacked
the cards for him to win. Some men were born lucky, lived lucky
all their days, and died lucky. Perhaps, too, he was such a man,
a born luck-pup who could not lose.
Sunday came, and Bob, out in the Piedmont hills, behaved like an
angel. His goodness, at times, was of the spirited prancing
order, but otherwise he was a lamb. Daylight, with doubled quirt
ready in his right hand, ached for a whirl, just one whirl, which
Bob, with an excellence of conduct that was tantalizing, refused
to perform. But no Dede did Daylight encounter. He vainly
circled about among the hill roads and in the afternoon took the
steep grade over the divide of the second range and dropped into
Maraga Valley. Just after passing the foot of the descent, he
heard the hoof beats of a cantering horse. It was from ahead and
coming toward him. What if it were Dede? He turned Bob around
and started to return at a walk. If it were Dede, he was born to
luck, he decided; for the meeting couldn't have occurred under
better circumstances. Here they were, both going in the same
direction, and the canter would bring her up to him just where
the stiff grade would compel a walk. There would be nothing else
for her to do than ride with him to the top of the divide; and,
once there, the equally stiff descent on the other side would
compel more walking.
The canter came nearer, but he faced straight ahead until he
heard the horse behind check to a walk. Then he glanced over his
shoulder. It was Dede. The recognition was quick, and, with
her, accompanied by surprise. What more natural thing than that,
partly turning his horse, he should wait till she caught up with
him; and that, when abreast they should continue abreast on up
the grade? He could have sighed with relief. The thing was
accomplished, and so easily. Greetings had been exchanged; here
they were side by side and going in the same direction with miles
and miles ahead of them.
He noted that her eye was first for the horse and next for him.
"Oh, what a beauty" she had cried at sight of Bob. From the
shining light in her eyes, and the face filled with delight, he
would scarcely have believed that it belonged to a young woman he
had known in the office, the young woman with the controlled,
subdued office face
"I didn't know you rode," was one of her first remarks. "I
imagined you were wedded to get-there-quick machines."
"I've just taken it up lately," was his answer. "Beginning to
get stout; you know, and had to take it off somehow."
She gave a quick sidewise glance that embraced him from head to
heel, including seat and saddle, and said:--
"But you've ridden before."
She certainly had an eye for horses and things connected with
horses was his thought, as he replied:-
"Not for many years. But I used to think I was a regular
rip-snorter when I was a youngster up in Eastern Oregon, sneaking
away from camp to ride with the cattle and break cayuses and
that sort of thing."
Thus, and to his great relief, were they launched on a topic of
mutual interest. He told her about Bob's tricks, and of the
whirl and his scheme to overcome it; and she agreed that horses
had to be handled with a certain rational severity, no matter how
much one loved them. There was her Mab, which she had for eight
years and which she had had break of stall-kicking. The process
had been painful for Mab, but it had cured her.
"You've ridden a lot," Daylight said.
"I really can't remember the first time I was on a horse," she
told him. "I was born on a ranch, you know, and they couldn't
keep me away from the horses. I must have been born with the
love for them. I had my first pony, all my own, when I was six.
When I was eight I knew what it was to be all day in the saddle
along with Daddy. By the time I was eleven he was taking me on
my first deer hunts. I'd be lost without a horse. I hate
indoors, and without Mab here I suppose I'd have been sick and
dead long ago."
"You like the country?" he queried, at the same moment catching
his first glimpse of a light in her eyes other than gray. "As
much as I detest the city," she answered. "But a woman can't
earn a living in the country. So I make the best of it--along
And thereat she told him more of her ranch life in the days
before her father died. And Daylight was hugely pleased with
himself. They were getting acquainted. The conversation had not
lagged in the full half hour they had been together.
"We come pretty close from the same part of the country," he
said. "I was raised in Eastern Oregon, and that's none so far
The next moment he could have bitten out his tongue for her quick
"How did you know I came from Siskiyou? I'm sure I never
"I don't know," he floundered temporarily. "I heard somewhere
that you were from thereabouts."
Wolf, sliding up at that moment, sleek-footed and like a shadow,
caused her horse to shy and passed the awkwardness off, for they
talked Alaskan dogs until the conversation drifted back to
horses. And horses it was, all up the grade and down the other
When she talked, he listened and followed her, and yet all the
while he was following his own thoughts and impressions as well.
It was a nervy thing for her to do, this riding astride, and he
didn't know, after all, whether he liked it or not. His ideas of
women were prone to be old-fashioned; they were the ones he had
imbibed in the early-day, frontier life of his youth, when no
woman was seen on anything but a side-saddle. He had grown up to
the tacit fiction that women on horseback were not bipeds. It
came to him with a shock, this sight of her so manlike in her
saddle. But he had to confess that the sight looked good to him
Two other immediate things about her struck him. First, there
were the golden spots in her eyes. Queer that he had never
noticed them before. Perhaps the light in the office had not
been right, and perhaps they came and went. No; they were glows
of color--a sort of diffused, golden light. Nor was it golden,
either, but it was nearer that than any color he knew. It
certainly was not any shade of yellow. A lover's thoughts are
ever colored, and it is to be doubted if any one else in the
world would have called Dede's eyes golden. But Daylight's mood
verged on the tender and melting, and he preferred to think of
them as golden, and therefore they were golden.
And then she was so natural. He had been prepared to find her a
most difficult young woman to get acquainted with. Yet here it
was proving so simple. There was nothing highfalutin about her
company manners--it was by this homely phrase that he
differentiated this Dede on horseback from the Dede with the
office manners whom he had always known. And yet, while he was
delighted with the smoothness with which everything was going,
and with the fact that they had found plenty to talk about, he
was aware of an irk under it all. After all, this talk was empty
and idle. He was a man of action, and he wanted her, Dede Mason,
the woman; he wanted her to love him and to be loved by him; and
he wanted all this glorious consummation then and there. Used to
forcing issues used to gripping men and things and bending them
to his will, he felt, now, the same compulsive prod of mastery.
He wanted to tell her that he loved her and that there was
nothing else for her to do but marry him. And yet he did not
obey the prod. Women were fluttery creatures, and here mere
mastery would prove a bungle. He remembered all his hunting
guile, the long patience of shooting meat in famine when a hit or
a miss meant life or death. Truly, though this girl did not yet
mean quite that, nevertheless she meant much to him--more, now,
than ever, as he rode beside her, glancing at her as often as he
dared, she in her corduroy riding-habit, so bravely manlike, yet
so essentially and revealingly woman, smiling, laughing, talking,
her eyes sparkling, the flush of a day of sun and summer breeze
warm in her cheeks.
Another Sunday man and horse and dog roved the Piedmont hills.
And again Daylight and Dede rode together. But this time her
surprise at meeting him was tinctured with suspicion; or rather,
her surprise was of another order. The previous Sunday had been
quite accidental, but his appearing a second time among her
favorite haunts hinted of more than the fortuitous. Daylight was
made to feel that she suspected him, and he, remembering that he
had seen a big rock quarry near Blair Park, stated offhand that
he was thinking of buying it. His one-time investment in a
brickyard had put the idea into his head--an idea that he decided
was a good one, for it enabled him to suggest that she ride along
with him to inspect the quarry.
So several hours he spent in her company, in which she was much
the same girl as before, natural, unaffected, lighthearted,
smiling and laughing, a good fellow, talking horses with
unflagging enthusiasm, making friends with the crusty-tempered
Wolf, and expressing the desire to ride Bob, whom she declared
she was more in love with than ever. At this last Daylight
demurred. Bob was full of dangerous tricks, and he wouldn't
trust any one on him except his worst enemy.
"You think, because I'm a girl, that I don't know anything
about horses," she flashed back. "But I've been thrown off and
bucked off enough not to be over-confident. And I'm not a fool.
I wouldn't get on a bucking horse. I've learned better. And I'm
not afraid of any other kind. And you say yourself that Bob
"But you've never seen him cutting up didoes," Daylight
"But you must remember I've seen a few others, and I've been on
several of them myself. I brought Mab here to electric cars,
locomotives, and automobiles. She was a raw range colt when she
came to me. Broken to saddle that was all. Besides, I won't
hurt your horse."
Against his better judgment, Daylight gave in, and, on an
unfrequented stretch of road, changed saddles and bridles.
"Remember, he's greased lightning," he warned, as he helped her
She nodded, while Bob pricked up his ears to the knowledge that
he had a strange rider on his back. The fun came quickly
enough--too quickly for Dede, who found herself against Bob's
as he pivoted around and bolted the other way. Daylight followed
on her horse and watched. He saw her check the animal quickly to
a standstill, and immediately, with rein across neck and a
prod of the left spur, whirl him back the way he had come and
almost as swiftly.
"Get ready to give him the quirt on the nose," Daylight called.
But, too quickly for her, Bob whirled again, though this time, by
a severe effort, she saved herself from the undignified position
against his neck. His bolt was more determined, but she pulled
him into a prancing walk, and turned him roughly back with her
spurred heel. There was nothing feminine in the way she handled
him; her method was imperative and masculine. Had this not been
so, Daylight would have expected her to say she had had enough.
But that little preliminary exhibition had taught him something
of Dede's quality. And if it had not, a glance at her gray eyes,
just perceptibly angry with herself, and at her firm-set mouth,
would have told him the same thing. Daylight did not suggest
anything, while he hung almost gleefully upon her actions in
anticipation of what the fractious Bob was going to get. And Bob
got it, on his next whirl, or attempt, rather, for he was no more
than halfway around when the quirt met him smack on his tender
nose. There and then, in his bewilderment, surprise, and pain,
his fore feet, just skimming above the road, dropped down.
"Great!" Daylight applauded. "A couple more will fix him. He's
too smart not to know when he's beaten."
Again Bob tried. But this time he was barely quarter around when
the doubled quirt on his nose compelled him to drop his fore feet
to the road. Then, with neither rein nor spur, but by the mere
threat of the quirt, she straightened him out.
Dede looked triumphantly at Daylight.
"Let me give him a run?" she asked.
Daylight nodded, and she shot down the road. He watched her out
of sight around the bend, and watched till she came into sight
returning. She certainly could sit her horse, was his thought,
and she was a sure enough hummer. God, she was the wife for a
man! Made most of them look pretty slim. And to think of her
hammering all week at a typewriter. That was no place for her.
She should be a man's wife, taking it easy, with silks and satins
and diamonds (his frontier notion of what befitted a wife
beloved), and dogs, and horses, and such things--"And we'll see,
Mr. Burning Daylight, what you and me can do about it," he
murmured to himself! and aloud to her:--
"You'll do, Miss Mason; you'll do. There's nothing too good in
horseflesh you don't deserve, a woman who can ride like that.
No; stay with him, and we'll jog along to the quarry." He
chuckled. "Say, he actually gave just the least mite of a
groan that last time you fetched him. Did you hear it? And did
you see the way he dropped his feet to the road--just like he'd
struck a stone wall. And he's got savvee enough to know from now
on that that same stone wall will be always there ready for him
to lam into."
When he parted from her that afternoon, at the gate of the road
that led to Berkeley, he drew off to the edge of the intervening
clump of trees, where, unobserved, he watched her out of sight.
Then, turning to ride back into Oakland, a thought came to him
that made him grin ruefully as he muttered: "And now it's up to
me to make good and buy that blamed quarry. Nothing less than
that can give me an excuse for snooping around these hills."
But the quarry was doomed to pass out of his plans for a time,
for on the following Sunday he rode alone. No Dede on a chestnut
sorrel came across the back-road from Berkeley that day, nor the
day a week later. Daylight was beside himself with impatience
and apprehension, though in the office he contained himself. He