Part 6 out of 7
him, that enigmatic statement of hers that she could more easily
have married the Elam Harnish fresh from the Klondike than the
present Elam Harnish. Well, he concluded, the thing to do was
for him to become more like that old-time Daylight who had come
down out of the North to try his luck at the bigger game. But
that was impossible. He could not set back the flight of time.
Wishing wouldn't do it, and there was no other way. He might as
well wish himself a boy again.
Another satisfaction he cuddled to himself from their interview.
He had heard of stenographers before, who refused their
employers, and who invariably quit their positions immediately
afterward. But Dede had not even hinted at such a thing. No
matter how baffling she was, there was no nonsensical silliness
about her. She was level headed. But, also, he had been
level-headed and was partly responsible for this. He hadn't
taken advantage of her in the office. True, he had twice
overstepped the bounds, but he had not followed it up and made a
practice of it. She knew she could trust him. But in spite of
all this he was confident that most young women would have been
silly enough to resign a position with a man they had turned
down. And besides, after he had put it to her in the right
light, she had not been silly over his sending her brother to
"Gee!" he concluded, as the car drew up before his hotel. "If
I'd only known it as I do now, I'd have popped the question the
first day she came to work. According to her say-so, that would
have been the proper moment. She likes me more and more, and the
more she likes me the less she'd care to marry me! Now what do
youbthink of that? She sure must be fooling."
Once again, on a rainy Sunday, weeks afterward, Daylight
proposed to Dede. As on the first time, he restrained himself
until his hunger for her overwhelmed him and swept him away in
his red automobile to Berkeley. He left the machine several
blocks away and proceeded to the house on foot. But Dede was
out, the landlady's daughter told him, and added, on second
thought, that she was out walking in the hills. Furthermore, the
young lady directed him where Dede's walk was most likely to
Daylight obeyed the girl's instructions, and soon the street he
followed passed the last house and itself ceased where began the
first steep slopes of the open hills. The air was damp with the
on-coming of rain, for the storm had not yet burst, though the
rising wind proclaimed its imminence. As far as he could see,
there was no sign of Dede on the smooth, grassy hills. To the
right, dipping down into a hollow and rising again, was a large,
full-grown eucalyptus grove. Here all was noise and movement,
the lofty, slender trunked trees swaying back and forth in the
wind and clashing their branches together. In the squalls, above
all the minor noises of creaking and groaning, arose a deep
thrumming note as of a mighty harp. Knowing Dede as he did,
Daylight was confident that he would find her somewhere in this
grove where the storm effects were so pronounced. And find her
he did, across the hollow and on the exposed crest of the
opposing slope where the gale smote its fiercest blows.
There was something monotonous, though not tiresome, about the
way Daylight proposed. Guiltless of diplomacy subterfuge, he was
as direct and gusty as the gale itself. had time neither for
greeting nor apology.
"It's the same old thing," he said. "I want you and I've come
you. You've just got to have me, Dede, for the more I think
about it the more certain I am that you've got a Sneaking liking
for me that's something more than just Ordinary liking. And you
don't dast say that it isn't; now dast you?"
He had shaken hands with her at the moment he began speaking, and
he had continued to hold her hand. Now, when she did not answer,
she felt a light but firmly insistent pressure as of his drawing
her to him. Involuntarily, she half-yielded to him, her desire
for the moment stronger than her will. Then suddenly she drew
herself away, though permitting her hand still to remain in his.
"You sure ain't afraid of me?" he asked, with quick compunction.
"No." She smiled woefully. "Not of you, but of myself."
"You haven't taken my dare," he urged under this encouragement.
"Please, please," she begged. "We can never marry, so don't let
us discuss it."
"Then I copper your bet to lose." He was almost gay, now, for
success was coming faster than his fondest imagining. She liked
him, without a doubt; and without a doubt she liked him well
enough to let him hold her hand, well enough to be not repelled
by the nearness of him.
She shook her head. "No, it is impossible. You would lose your
For the first time a dark suspicion crossed Daylight's mind--a
that explained everything.
"Say, you ain't been let in for some one of these secret
The consternation in his voice and on his face was too much for
her, and her laugh rang out, merry and spontaneous as a burst of
joy from the throat of a bird.
Daylight knew his answer, and, vexed with himself decided that
action was more efficient than speech. So he stepped between her
and the wind and drew her so that she stood close in the shelter
of him. An unusually stiff squall blew about them and thrummed
overhead in the tree-tops and both paused to listen. A shower of
flying leaves enveloped them, and hard on the heel of the wind
came driving drops of rain. He looked down on her and on her
hair wind-blown about her face; and because of her closeness to
him and of a fresher and more poignant realization of what she
meant to him, he trembled so that she was aware of it in the hand
that held hers.
She suddenly leaned against him, bowing her head until it rested
lightly upon his breast. And so they stood while another squall,
with flying leaves and scattered drops of rain, rattled past.
With equal suddenness she lifted her head and looked at him.
"Do you know," she said, "I prayed last night about you. I
prayed that you would fail, that you would lose everything
Daylight stared his amazement at this cryptic utterance. "That
sure beats me. I always said I got out of my depth with women,
and you've got me out of my depth now. Why you want me to lose
everything, seeing as you like me--"
"I never said so."
"You didn't dast say you didn't. So, as I was saying: liking me,
why you'd want me to go broke is clean beyond my simple
understanding. It's right in line with that other puzzler of
yours, the more-you-like-me-the-less-you-want-to-marry-me one.
Well, you've just got to explain, that's all."
His arms went around her and held her closely, and this time she
did not resist. Her head was bowed, and he had not see her face,
yet he had a premonition that she was crying. He had learned the
virtue of silence, and he waited her will in the matter. Things
had come to such a pass that she was bound to tell him something
now. Of that he was confident.
"I am not romantic," she began, again looking at him as he spoke.
"It might be better for me if I were. Then I could make a fool
of myself and be unhappy for the rest of my life. But my
abominable common sense prevents. And that doesn't make me a bit
"I'm still out of my depth and swimming feeble," Daylight said,
after waiting vainly for her to go on. "You've got to show me,
and you ain't shown me yet. Your common sense and praying that
I'd go broke is all up in the air to me. Little woman, I just
love you mighty hard, and I want you to marry me. That's
straight and simple and right off the bat. Will you marry me?"
She shook her head slowly, and then, as she talked, seemed to
grow angry, sadly angry; and Daylight knew that this anger was
"Then let me explain, and just as straight and simply as you have
asked." She paused, as if casting about for a beginning. "You
are honest and straightforward. Do you want me to be honest and
straightforward as a woman is not supposed to be?--to tell you
things that will hurt you?--to make confessions that ought to
shame me? to behave in what many men would think was an
The arm around her shoulder pressed encouragement, but he did not
"I would dearly like to marry you, but I am afraid. I am proud
and humble at the same time that a man like you should care for
me. But you have too much money. There's where my abominable
common sense steps in. Even if we did marry, you could never be
my man--my lover and my husband. You would be your money's man.
I know I am a foolish woman, but I want my man for myself. You
would not be free for me. Your money possesses you, taking your
time, your thoughts, your energy, ever thing, bidding you go here
and go there, do this and do that. Don't you see? Perhaps it's
pure silliness, but I feel that I can love much, give much--give
all, and in return, though I don't want all, I want much--and I
want much more than your money would permit you to give me.
"And your money destroys you; it makes you less and less nice. I
am not ashamed to say that I love you, because I shall never
marry you. And I loved you much when I did not know you at all,
when you first came down from Alaska and I first went into the
office. You were my hero. You were the Burning Daylight of the
gold-diggings, the daring traveler and miner. And you looked it.
I don't see how any woman could have looked at you without loving
you--then. But you don't look it now.
"Please, please, forgive me for hurting you. You wanted straight
talk, and I am giving it to you. All these last years you have
been living unnaturally. You, a man of the open, have been
cooping yourself up in the cities with all that that means. You
are not the same man at all, and your money is destroying you.
You are becoming something different, something not so healthy,
not so clean, not so nice. Your money and your way of life are
doing it. You know it. You haven't the same body now that you
had then. You are putting on flesh, and it is not healthy flesh.
You are kind and genial with me, I know, but you are not kind and
genial to all the world as you were then. You have become harsh
and cruel. And I know. Remember, I have studied you six days a
week, month after month, year after year; and I know more about
the most insignificant parts of you than you know of all of me.
The cruelty is not only in your heart and thoughts, but it is
there in face. It has put its lines there. I have watched them
come and grow. Your money, and the life it compels you to lead
have done all this. You are being brutalized and degraded. And
this process can only go on and on until you are hopelessly
He attempted to interrupt, but she stopped him, herself
breathless and her voice trembling.
"No, no; let me finish utterly. I have done nothing but think,
think, think, all these months, ever since you came riding with
me, and now that I have begun to speak I am going to speak all
that I have in me. I do love you, but I cannot marry you and
destroy love. You are growing into a thing that I must in the
end despise. You can't help it. More than you can possibly love
me, do you love this business game. This business--and it's all
perfectly useless, so far as you are concerned--claims all of
you. I sometimes think it would be easier to share you equitably
with another woman than to share you with this business. I might
have half of you, at any rate. But this business would claim,
not half of you, but nine-tenths of you, or ninety-nine
"Remember, the meaning of marriage to me is not to get a man's
money to spend. I want the man. You say you want ME. And
suppose I consented, but gave you only one-hundredth part of me.
Suppose there was something else in my life that took the other
ninety-nine parts, and, furthermore, that ruined my figure, that
put pouches under my eyes and crows-feet in the corners, that
made me unbeautiful to look upon and that made my spirit
unbeautiful. Would you be satisfied with that one-hundredth part
of me? Yet that is all you are offering me of yourself. Do you
wonder that I won't marry you?--that I can't?"
Daylight waited to see if she were quite done, and she went on
"It isn't that I am selfish. After all, love is giving, not
receiving. But I see so clearly that all my giving could not do
you any good. You are like a sick man. You don't play business
like other men. You play it heart and and all of you. No matter
what you believed and intended a wife would be only a brief
diversion. There is that magnificent Bob, eating his head off in
the stable. You would buy me a beautiful mansion and leave me in
it to yawn my head off, or cry my eyes out because of my
helplessness and inability to save you. This disease of business
would be corroding you and marring you all the time. You play it
as you have played everything else, as in Alaska you played the
life of the trail. Nobody could be permitted to travel as fast
and as far as you, to work as hard or endure as much. You hold
back nothing; you put all you've got into whatever you are
"Limit is the sky," he grunted grim affirmation.
"But if you would only play the lover-husband that way--"
Her voice faltered and stopped, and a blush showed in her wet
cheeks as her eyes fell before his.
"And now I won't say another word," she added. "I've delivered a
She rested now, frankly and fairly, in the shelter of his arms,
and both were oblivious to the gale that rushed past them in
quicker and stronger blasts. The big downpour of rain had not
yet come, but the mist-like squalls were more frequent. Daylight
was openly perplexed, and he was still perplexed when he began to
"I'm stumped. I'm up a tree. I'm clean flabbergasted, Miss
Mason--or Dede, because I love to call you that name. I'm free
to confess there's a mighty big heap in what you say. As I
understand it, your conclusion is that you'd marry me if I hadn't
a cent and if I wasn't getting fat. No, no; I'm not joking. I
acknowledge the corn, and that's just my way of boiling the
matter down and summing it up. If I hadn't a cent, and if I was
living a healthy life with all the time in the world to love you
and be your husband instead of being awash to my back teeth in
business and all the rest--why, you'd marry me.
"That's all as clear as print, and you're correcter than I ever
guessed before. You've sure opened my eyes a few. But I'm
stuck. What can I do? My business has sure roped, thrown, and
branded me. I'm tied hand and foot, and I can't get up and
meander over green pastures. I'm like the man that got the bear
by the tail. I can't let go; and I want you, and I've got to let
go to get you.
"I don't know what to do, but something's sure got to happen--I
can't lose you. I just can't. And I'm not going to. Why,
you're running business a close second right now. Business never
kept me awake nights.
"You've left me no argument. I know I'm not the same man that
came from Alaska. I couldn't hit the trail with the dogs as I
did in them days. I'm soft in my muscles, and my mind's gone
hard. I used to respect men. I despise them now. You see, I
spent all my life in the open, and I reckon I'm an open-air man.
Why, I've got the prettiest little ranch you ever laid eyes on,
up in Glen Ellen. That's where I got stuck for that brick-yard.
You recollect handling the correspondence. I only laid eyes on
the ranch that one time, and I so fell in love with it that I
bought it there and then. I just rode around the hills, and was
happy as a kid out of school. I'd be a better man living in the
country. The city doesn't make me better. You're plumb right
there. I know it. But suppose your prayer should be answered
and I'd go clean broke and have to work for day's wages?"
She did not answer, though all the body of her seemed to urge
"Suppose I had nothing left but that little ranch, and was
satisfied to grow a few chickens and scratch a living somehow-
-would you marry me then, Dede?"
"Why, we'd be together all the time!" she cried.
"But I'd have to be out ploughing once in a while, he warned, "or
driving to town to get the grub."
"But there wouldn't be the office, at any rate, and no man to
see, and men to see without end. But it is all foolish and
impossible, and we'll have to be starting back now if we're to
escape the rain."
Then was the moment, among the trees, where they began the
descent of the hill, that Daylight might have drawn her closely
to him and kissed her once. But he was too perplexed with the
new thoughts she had put into his head to take advantage of the
situation. He merely caught her by the arm and helped her over
the rougher footing.
"It's darn pretty country up there at Glen Ellen," he said
meditatively. "I wish you could see it."
At the edge of the grove he suggested that it might be better for
them to part there.
"It's your neighborhood, and folks is liable to talk."
But she insisted that he accompany her as far as the house.
"I can't ask you in," she said, extending her hand at the foot of
The wind was humming wildly in sharply recurrent gusts, but still
the rain held off.
"Do you know," he said, "taking it by and large, it's the
happiest day of my life." He took off his hat, and the wind
rippled and twisted his black hair as he went on solemnly, "And
I'm sure grateful to God, or whoever or whatever is responsible
for your being on this earth. For you do like me heaps. It's
been my joy to hear you say so to-day. It's--" He left the
thought arrested, and his face assumed the familiar whimsical
expression as he murmured: "Dede, Dede, we've just got to get
married. It's the only way, and trust to luck for it's coming
out all right--".
But the tears were threatening to rise in her eyes again, as she
shook her head and turned and went up the steps.
When the ferry system began to run, and the time between Oakland
and San Francisco was demonstrated to be cut in half, the tide of
Daylight's terrific expenditure started to turn. Not that it
really did turn, for he promptly went into further investments.
Thousands of lots in his residence tracts were sold, and
thousands of homes were being built. Factory sites also were
selling, and business properties in the heart of Oakland. All
this tended to a steady appreciation in value of Daylight's huge
holdings. But, as of old, he had his hunch and was riding it.
Already he had begun borrowing from the banks. The magnificent
profits he made on the land he sold were turned into more land,
into more development; and instead of paying off old loans, he
contracted new ones. As he had pyramided in Dawson City, he now
pyramided in Oakland; but he did it with the knowledge that it
was a stable enterprise rather than a risky placer-mining boom.
In a small way, other men were following his lead, buying and
selling land and profiting by the improvement work he was doing.
But this was to be expected, and the small fortunes they were
making at his expense did not irritate him. There was an
exception, however. One Simon Dolliver, with money to go in
with, and with cunning and courage to back it up, bade fair to
become a several times millionaire at Daylight's expense.
Dolliver, too, pyramided, playing quickly and accurately, and
keeping his money turning over and over. More than once Daylight
found him in the way, as he himself had got in the way of the
Guggenhammers when they first set their eyes on Ophir Creek.
Work on Daylight's dock system went on apace, yet was one of
those enterprises that consumed money dreadfully and that could
not be accomplished as quickly as a ferry system. The
engineering difficulties were great, the dredging and filling a
cyclopean task. The mere item of piling was anything but small.
A good average pile, by the time it was delivered on the ground,
cost a twenty-dollar gold piece, and these piles were used in
unending thousands. All accessible groves of mature eucalyptus
were used, and as well, great rafts of pine piles were towed down
the coast from Peugeot Sound.
Not content with manufacturing the electricity for his street
railways in the old-fashioned way, in power-houses, Daylight
organized the Sierra and Salvador Power Company. This
immediately assumed large proportions. Crossing the San Joaquin
Valley on the way from the mountains, and plunging through the
Contra Costa hills, there were many towns, and even a robust
city, that could be supplied with power, also with light; and it
became a street- and house-lighting project as well. As soon as
the purchase of power sites in the Sierras was rushed through,
the survey parties were out and building operations begun.
And so it went. There were a thousand maws into which he poured
unceasing streams of money. But it was all so sound and
legitimate, that Daylight, born gambler that he was, and with his
clear, wide vision, could not play softly and safely. It was a
big opportunity, and to him there was only one way to play it,
and that was the big way. Nor did his one confidential adviser,
Larry Hegan, aid him to caution. On the contrary, it was
Daylight who was compelled to veto the wilder visions of that
able hasheesh dreamer. Not only did Daylight borrow heavily from
the banks and trust companies, but on several of his corporations
he was compelled to issue stock. He did this grudgingly however,
and retained most of his big enterprises of his own. Among the
companies in which he reluctantly allowed the investing public to
join were the Golden Gate Dock Company, and Recreation Parks
Company, the United Water Company, the Uncial Shipbuilding
Company, and the Sierra and Salvador Power Company.
Nevertheless, between himself and Hegan, he retained the
controlling share in each of these enterprises.
His affair with Dede Mason only seemed to languish. While
delaying to grapple with the strange problem it presented, his
desire for her continued to grow. In his gambling simile, his
conclusion was that Luck had dealt him the most remarkable card
in the deck, and that for years he had overlooked it. Love was
the card, and it beat them all. Love was the king card of
trumps, the fifth ace, the joker in a game of tenderfoot poker.
It was the card of cards, and play it he would, to the limit,
when the opening came. He could not see that opening yet. The
present game would have to play to some sort of a conclusion
Yet he could not shake from his brain and vision the warm
recollection of those bronze slippers, that clinging gown, and
all the feminine softness and pliancy of Dede in her pretty
Berkeley rooms. Once again, on a rainy Sunday, he telephoned
that he was coming. And, as has happened ever since man first
looked upon woman and called her good, again he played the blind
force of male compulsion against the woman's secret weakness to
yield. Not that it was Daylight's way abjectly to beg and
entreat. On the contrary, he was masterful in whatever he did,
but he had a trick of whimsical wheedling that Dede found harder
to resist than the pleas of a suppliant lover. It was not a
happy scene in its outcome, for Dede, in the throes of her own
desire, desperate with weakness and at the same time with her
better judgment hating her weakness cried out:--
"You urge me to try a chance, to marry you now and trust to luck
for it to come out right. And life is a gamble say. Very well,
let us gamble. Take a coin and toss it in the air. If it comes
heads, I'll marry you. If it doesn't, you are forever to leave
me alone and never mention marriage again."
A fire of mingled love and the passion of gambling came into
Daylight's eyes. Involuntarily his hand started for his pocket
for the coin. Then it stopped, and the light in his eyes was
"Go on," she ordered sharply. "Don't delay, or I may change my
mind, and you will lose the chance."
"Little woman." His similes were humorous, but there was no
humor in their meaning. His thought was as solemn as his voice.
"Little woman, I'd gamble all the way from Creation to the Day of
Judgment; I'd gamble a golden harp against another man's halo;
I'd toss for pennies on the front steps of the New Jerusalem or
set up a faro layout just outside the Pearly Gates; but I'll be
everlastingly damned if I'll gamble on love. Love's too big to
me to take a chance on. Love's got to be a sure thing, and
between you and me it is a sure thing. If the odds was a hundred
to one on my winning this flip, just the same, nary a flip."
In the spring of the year the Great Panic came on. The first
warning was when the banks began calling in their unprotected
loans. Daylight promptly paid the first several of his personal
notes that were presented; then he divined that these demands but
indicated the way the wind was going to blow, and that one of
those terrific financial storms he had heard about was soon to
sweep over the United States. How terrific this particular storm
was to be he did not anticipate. Nevertheless, he took every
precaution in his power, and had no anxiety about his weathering
Money grew tighter. Beginning with the crash of several of the
greatest Eastern banking houses, the tightness spread, until
every bank in the country was calling in its credits. Daylight
was caught, and caught because of the fact that for the first
time he had been playing the legitimate business game. In the
old days, such a panic, with the accompanying extreme shrinkage
of values, would have been a golden harvest time for him. As it
was, he watched the gamblers, who had ridden the wave of
prosperity and made preparation for the slump, getting out from
under and safely scurrying to cover or proceeding to reap a
double harvest. Nothing remained for him but to stand fast and
He saw the situation clearly. When the banks demanded that he
pay his loans, he knew that the banks were in sore need of the
money. But he was in sorer need. And he knew that the banks did
not want his collateral which they held. It would do them no
good. In such a tumbling of values was no time to sell. His
collateral was good, all of it, eminently sound and worth while;
yet it was worthless at such a moment, when the one unceasing cry
was money, money, money. Finding him obdurate, the banks
demanded more collateral, and as the money pinch tightened they
asked for two and even three times as much as had been originally
accepted. Sometimes Daylight yielded to these demands, but more
often not, and always battling fiercely.
He fought as with clay behind a crumbling wall. All portions of
the wall were menaced, and he went around constantly
strengthening the weakest parts with clay. This clay was money,
and was applied, a sop here and a sop there, as fast as it was
needed, but only when it was directly needed. The strength of
his position lay in the Yerba Buena Ferry Company, the
Consolidated Street Railways, and the United Water Company.
Though people were no longer buying residence lots and factory
and business sites, they were compelled to ride on his cars and
ferry-boats and to consume his water. When all the financial
world was clamoring for money and perishing through lack of it,
the first of each month many thousands of dollars poured into his
coffers from the water-rates, and each day ten thousand dollars,
in dime and nickels, came in from his street railways and
Cash was what was wanted, and had he had the use of all this
steady river of cash, all would have been well with him. As it
was, he had to fight continually for a portion of it.
Improvement work ceased, and only absolutely essential repairs
were made. His fiercest fight was with the operating expenses,
and this was a fight that never ended. There was never any
let-up in his turning the thumb-screws of extended credit and
economy. From the big wholesale suppliers down through the
salary list to office stationery and postage stamps, he kept the
thumb-screws turning. When his superintendents and heads of
departments performed prodigies of cutting down, he patted them
on the back and demanded more. When they threw down their hands
in despair, he showed them how more could be accomplished.
"You are getting eight thousand dollars a year," he told
Matthewson. "It's better pay than you ever got in your life
before. Your fortune is in the same sack with mine. You've got
to stand for some of the strain and risk. You've got personal
credit in this town. Use it. Stand off butcher and baker and
all the rest. Savvee? You're drawing down something like six
hundred and sixty dollars a month. I want that cash. From now
on, stand everybody off and draw down a hundred. I'll pay you
interest on the rest till this blows over."
Two weeks later, with the pay-roll before them, it was:--
"Matthewson, who's this bookkeeper, Rogers? Your nephew? I
thought so. He's pulling down eighty-five a month. After--this
let him draw thirty-five. The forty can ride with me at
"Impossible! " Matthewson cried. "He can't make ends meet on
his salary as it is, and he has a wife and two kids--"
Daylight was upon him with a mighty oath.
"Can't! Impossible! What in hell do you think I'm running? A
home for feeble-minded? Feeding and dressing and wiping the
little noses of a lot of idiots that can't take care of
themselves? Not on your life. I'm hustling, and now's the time
that everybody that works for me has got to hustle. I want no
fair-weather birds holding down my office chairs or anything
else. This is nasty weather, damn nasty weather, and they've got
to buck into it just like me. There are ten thousand men out of
work in Oakland right now, and sixty thousand more in San
Francisco. Your nephew, and everybody else on your pay-roll, can
do as I say right now or quit. Savvee? If any of them get
stuck, you go around yourself and guarantee their credit with the
butchers and grocers. And you trim down that pay-roll
accordingly. I've been carrying a few thousand folks that'll
have to carry themselves for a while now, that's all."
"You say this filter's got to be replaced," he told his chief of
the water-works. "We'll see about it. Let the people of Oakland
drink mud for a change. It'll teach them to appreciate good
water. Stop work at once. Get those men off the pay-roll.
Cancel all orders for material. The contractors will sue? Let
'em sue and be damned. We'll be busted higher'n a kite or on
easy street before they can get judgment."
And to Wilkinson:
"Take off that owl boat. Let the public roar and come home early
to its wife. And there's that last car that connects with the
12:45 boat at Twenty-second and Hastings. Cut it out. I can't
run it for two or three passengers. Let them take an earlier
boat home or walk. This is no time for philanthropy. And you
might as well take off a few more cars in the rush hours. Let
the strap-hangers pay. It's the strap-hangers that'll keep us
And to another chief, who broke down under the excessive strain
"You say I can't do that and can't do this. I'll just show you a
few of the latest patterns in the can-and-can't line. You'll be
compelled to resign? All right, if you think so I never saw the
man yet that I was hard up for. And when any man thinks I can't
get along without him, I just show him the latest pattern in that
line of goods and give him his walking-papers."
And so he fought and drove and bullied and even wheedled his way
along. It was fight, fight, fight, and no let-up, from the first
thing in the morning till nightfall. His private office saw
throngs every day. All men came to see him, or were ordered to
come. Now it was an optimistic opinion on the panic, a funny
story, a serious business talk, or a straight take-it-or-leave-it
blow from the shoulder. And there was nobody to relieve him. It
was a case of drive, drive, drive, and he alone could do the
driving. And this went on day after day, while the whole
business world rocked around him and house after house crashed to
"It's all right, old man," he told Hegan every morning; and it
was the same cheerful word that he passed out all day long,
except at such times when he was in the thick of fighting to have
his will with persons and things.
Eight o'clock saw him at his desk each morning. By ten o'clock,
it was into the machine and away for a round of the banks. And
usually in the machine with him was the ten thousand and more
dollars that had been earned by his ferries and railways the day
before. This was for the weakest spot in the financial dike.
And with one bank president after another similar scenes were
enacted. They were paralyzed with fear, and first of all he
played his role of the big vital optimist. Times were improving.
Of course they were. The signs were already in the air. All
that anybody had to do was to sit tight a little longer and hold
on. That was all. Money was already more active in the East.
Look at the trading on Wall Street of the last twenty-four hours.
That was the straw that showed the wind. Hadn't Ryan said so and
so? and wasn't it reported that Morgan was preparing to do this
As for himself, weren't the street-railway earnings increasing
steadily? In spite of the panic, more and more people were
coming to Oakland right along. Movements were already beginning
in real estate. He was dickering even then to sell over a
thousand of his suburban acres. Of course it was at a sacrifice,
but it would ease the strain on all of them and bolster up the
faint-hearted. That was the trouble--the faint-hearts. Had
been no faint-hearts there would have been no panic. There was
that Eastern syndicate, negotiating with him now to take the
majority of the stock in the Sierra and Salvador Power Company
off his hands. That showed confidence that better times were at
And if it was not cheery discourse, but prayer and entreaty or
show down and fight on the part of the banks, Daylight had to
counter in kind. If they could bully, he could bully. If the
favor he asked were refused, it became the thing he demanded.
And when it came down to raw and naked fighting, with the last
veil of sentiment or illusion torn off, he could take their
But he knew, also, how and when to give in. When he saw the wall
shaking and crumbling irretrievably at a particular place, he
patched it up with sops of cash from his three cash-earning
companies. If the banks went, he went too. It was a case of
their having to hold out. If they smashed and all the collateral
they held of his was thrown on the chaotic market, it would be
the end. And so it was, as the time passed, that on occasion his
red motor-car carried, in addition to the daily cash, the most
gilt-edged securities he possessed; namely, the Ferry Company,
United Water and Consolidated Railways. But he did this
reluctantly, fighting inch by inch.
As he told the president of the Merchants San Antonio who made
the plea of carrying so many others:--
"They're small fry. Let them smash. I'm the king pin here.
You've got more money to make out of me than them. Of course,
you're carrying too much, and you've got to choose, that's all.
It's root hog or die for you or them. I'm too strong to smash.
You could only embarrass me and get yourself tangled up. Your
way out is to let the small fry go, and I'll lend you a hand to
And it was Daylight, also, in this time of financial anarchy, who
sized up Simon Dolliver's affairs and lent the hand that sent
that rival down in utter failure. The Golden Gate National was
the keystone of Dolliver's strength, and to the president of that
institution Daylight said:--
"Here I've been lending you a hand, and you now in the last
ditch, with Dolliver riding on you and me all the time. It don't
go. You hear me, it don't go. Dolliver couldn't cough up eleven
dollars to save you. Let him get off and walk, and I'll tell you
what I'll do. I'll give you the railway nickels for four
days--that's forty thousand cash. And on the sixth of the month
you can count on twenty thousand more from the Water Company."
He shrugged his shoulders. "Take it or leave it. Them's my
"It's dog eat dog, and I ain't overlooking any meat that's
floating around," Daylight proclaimed that afternoon to Hegan;
and Simon Dolliver went the way of the unfortunate in the Great
Panic who were caught with plenty of paper and no money.
Daylight's shifts and devices were amazing. Nothing however
large or small, passed his keen sight unobserved. The strain he
was under was terrific. He no longer ate lunch. The days were
too short, and his noon hours and his office were as crowded as
at any other time. By the end of the day he was exhausted, and,
as never before, he sought relief behind his wall of alcoholic
inhibition. Straight to his hotel he was driven, and straight to
his rooms he went, where immediately was mixed for him the first
of a series of double Martinis. By dinner, his brain was well
clouded and the panic forgotten. By bedtime, with the assistance
of Scotch whiskey, he was full--not violently nor uproariously
full, nor stupefied, but merely well under the influence of a
pleasant and mild anesthetic.
Next morning he awoke with parched lips and mouth, and with
sensations of heaviness in his head which quickly passed away.
By eight o'clock he was at his desk, buckled down to the fight,
by ten o'clock on his personal round of the banks, and after
that, without a moment's cessation, till nightfall, he was
handling the knotty tangles of industry, finance, and human
nature that crowded upon him. And with nightfall it was back to
the hotel, the double Martinis and the Scotch; and this was his
program day after day until the days ran into weeks.
Though Daylight appeared among his fellows hearty voiced,
inexhaustible, spilling over with energy and vitality, deep down
he was a very weary man. And sometime under the liquor drug,
snatches of wisdom came to him far more lucidity than in his
sober moments, as, for instance, one night, when he sat on the
edge of the bed with one shoe in his hand and meditated on Dede's
aphorism to the effect that he could not sleep in more than one
bed at a time. Still holding the shoe, he looked at the array of
horsehair bridles on the walls. Then, carrying the shoe, he got
up and solemnly counted them, journeying into the two adjoining
rooms to complete the tale. Then he came back to the bed and
gravely addressed his shoe:--
"The little woman's right. Only one bed at a time. One hundred
and forty hair bridles, and nothing doing with ary one of them.
One bridle at a time! I can't ride one horse at a time. Poor
old Bob. I'd better be sending you out to pasture. Thirty
million dollars, and a hundred million or nothing in sight, and
what have I got to show for it? There's lots of things money
can't buy. It can't buy the little woman. It can't buy
capacity. What's the good of thirty millions when I ain't got
room for more than a quart of cocktails a day? If I had a
hundred-quart-cocktail thirst, it'd be different. But one
quart--one measly little quart! Here I am, a thirty times over
millionaire, slaving harder every day than any dozen men that
work for me, and all I get is two meals that don't taste good,
one bed, a quart of Martini, and a hundred and forty hair bridles
to look at on the wall."
He stared around at the array disconsolately. "Mr. Shoe, I'm
sizzled. Good night."
Far worse than the controlled, steady drinker is the solitary
drinker, and it was this that Daylight was developing into. He
rarely drank sociably any more, but in his own room, by himself.
Returning weary from each day's unremitting effort, he drugged
himself to sleep, knowing that on the morrow he would rise up
with a dry and burning mouth and repeat the program.
But the country did not recover with its wonted elasticity.
Money did not become freer, though the casual reader of
Daylight's newspapers, as well as of all the other owned and
subsidised newspapers in the country, could only have concluded
that the money tightness was over and that the panic was past
history. All public utterances were cheery and optimistic, but
privately many of the utters were in desperate straits. The
scenes enacted in the privacy of Daylight's office, and of the
meetings of his boards of directors, would have given the lie to
the editorials in his newspapers; as, for instance, when he
addressed the big stockholders in the Sierra and Salvador Power
Company, the United Water Company, and the several other stock
"You've got to dig. You've got a good thing, but you'll have to
sacrifice in order to hold on. There ain't no use spouting hard
times explanations. Don't I know the hard times is on? Ain't
that what you're here for? As I said before, you've got to dig.
I run the majority stock, and it's come to a case of assess.
It's that or smash. If ever I start going you won't know what
struck you, I'll smash that hard. The small fry can let go, but
you big ones can't. This ship won't sink as long as you stay
with her. But if you start to leave her, down you'll sure go
before you can get to shore. This assessment has got to be met
The big wholesale supply houses, the caterers for his hotels, and
all the crowd that incessantly demanded to be paid, had their hot
half-hours with him. He summoned them to his office and
displayed his latest patterns of can and can't and will and
"By God, you've got to carry me!" he told them. "If you think
this is a pleasant little game of parlor whist and that you can
quit and go home whenever you want, you're plumb wrong. Look
here, Watkins, you remarked five minutes ago that you wouldn't
stand for it. Now let me tell you a few. You're going to stand
for it and keep on standin's for it. You're going to continue
supplying me and taking my paper until the pinch is over. How
you're going to do it is your trouble, not mine. You remember
what I did to Klinkner and the Altamont Trust Company? I know
the inside of your business better than you do yourself, and if
you try to drop me I'll smash you. Even if I'd be going to smash
myself, I'd find a minute to turn on you and bring you down with
me. It's sink or swim for all of us, and I reckon you'll find it
to your interest to keep me on top the puddle."
Perhaps his bitterest fight was with the stockholders of the
United Water Company, for it was practically the whole of the
gross earnings of this company that he voted to lend to himself
and used to bolster up his wide battle front. Yet he never
pushed his arbitrary rule too far. Compelling sacrifice from the
men whose fortunes were tied up with his, nevertheless when any
one of them was driven to the wall and was in dire need, Daylight
was there to help him back into the line. Only a strong man
could have saved so complicated a situation in such time of
stress, and Daylight was that man. He turned and twisted,
schemed and devised, bludgeoned and bullied the weaker ones, kept
the faint-hearted in the fight, and had no mercy on the deserter.
And in the end, when early summer was on, everything began to
mend. Came a day when Daylight did the unprecedented. He left
the office an hour earlier than usual, and for the reason that
for the first time since the panic there was not an item of work
waiting to be done. He dropped into Hegan's private office,
before leaving, for a chat, and as he stood up to go, he said:--
"Hegan, we're all hunkadory. We're pulling out of the financial
pawnshop in fine shape, and we'll get out without leaving one
unredeemed pledge behind. The worst is over, and the end is in
sight. Just a tight rein for a couple more weeks, just a bit of
a pinch or a flurry or so now and then, and we can let go and
spit on our hands."
For once he varied his program. Instead of going directly to his
hotel, he started on a round of the bars and cafes, drinking a
cocktail here and a cocktail there, and two or three when he
encountered men he knew. It was after an hour or so of this that
he dropped into the bar of the Parthenon for one last drink
before going to dinner. By this time all his being was
pleasantly warmed by the alcohol, and he was in the most genial
and best of spirits. At the corner of the bar several young men
were up to the old trick of resting their elbows and attempting
to force each other's hands down. One broad-shouldered young
giant never removed his elbow, but put down every hand that came
against him. Daylight was interested.
"It's Slosson," the barkeeper told him, in answer to his query.
"He's the heavy-hammer thrower at the U.C. Broke all records
this year, and the world's record on top of it. He's a husky all
right all right."
Daylight nodded and went over to him, placing his own arm in
"I'd like to go you a flutter, son, on that proposition," he
The young man laughed and locked hands with him; and to
Daylight's astonishment it was his own hand that was forced down
on the bar
"Hold on," he muttered. "Just one more flutter. I reckon I
wasn't just ready that time."
Again the hands locked. It happened quickly. The offensive
attack of Daylight's muscles slipped instantly into defense, and,
resisting vainly, his hand was forced over and down. Daylight
was dazed. It had been no trick. The skill was equal, or, if
anything, the superior skill had been his. Strength, sheer
strength, had done it. He called for the drinks, and, still
dazed and pondering, held up his own arm, and looked at it as at
some new strange thing. He did not know this arm. It certainly
was not the arm he had carried around with him all the years.
The old arm? Why, it would have been play to turn down that
young husky's. But this arm--he continued to look at it with
dubious perplexity as to bring a roar of laughter from the young
This laughter aroused him. He joined in it at first, and then
his face slowly grew grave. He leaned toward the hammer-thrower.
"Son," he said, "let me whisper a secret. Get out of here and
quit drinking before you begin."
The young fellow flushed angrily, but Daylight held steadily on.
"You listen to your dad, and let him say a few. I'm a young man
myself, only I ain't. Let me tell you, several years ago for me
to turn your hand down would have been like committing assault
and battery on a kindergarten."
Slosson looked his incredulity, while the others grinned and
clustered around Daylight encouragingly.
"Son, I ain't given to preaching. This is the first time I ever
come to the penitent form, and you put me there yourself--hard.
I've seen a few in my time, and I ain't fastidious so as you can
notice it. But let me tell you right not that I'm worth the
devil alone knows how many millions, and that I'd sure give it
all, right here on the bar, to turn down your hand. Which means
I'd give the whole shooting match just to be back where I was
before I quit sleeping under the stars and come into the
of cities to drink cocktails and lift up my feet and ride.
Son, that's that's the matter with me, and that's the way I feel
about it. The game ain't worth the candle. You just take care
yourself, and roll my advice over once in a while. Good night."
He turned and lurched out of the place, the moral effect of his
utterance largely spoiled by the fact that he was so patently
full while he uttered it.
Still in a daze, Daylight made to his hotel, accomplished his
dinner, and prepared for bed.
"The damned young whippersnapper!" he muttered. "Put my hand
down easy as you please. My hand!"
He held up the offending member and regarded it with stupid
wonder. The hand that had never been beaten! The hand that had
made the Circle City giants wince! And a kid from college, with
laugh on his face, had put it down--twice! Dede was right. He
was not the same man. The situation would bear more serious
looking into than he had ever given it. But this was not the
time. In the morning, after a good sleep, he would give it
Daylight awoke with the familiar parched mouth and lips and
throat, took a long drink of water from the pitcher beside his
bed, and gathered up the train of thought where he had left it
the night before. He reviewed the easement of the financial
strain. Things were mending at last. While the going was still
rough, the greatest dangers were already past. As he had told
Hegan, a tight rein and careful playing were all that was needed
now. Flurries and dangers were bound to come, but not so grave
as the ones they had already weathered. He had been hit hard,
but he was coming through without broken bones, which was more
than Simon Dolliver and many another could say. And not one of
his business friends had been ruined. He had compelled them to
stay in line to save himself, and they had been saved as well.
His mind moved on to the incident at the corner of the bar of the
Parthenon, when the young athlete had turned his hand down. He
was no longer stunned by the event, but he was shocked and
grieved, as only a strong man can be, at this passing of his
strength. And the issue was too clear for him to dodge, even
with himself. He knew why his hand had gone down. Not because
he was an old man. He was just in the first flush of his prime,
and, by rights, it was the hand of the hammer-thrower which
should have gone down. Daylight knew that he had taken liberties
with himself. He had always looked upon this strength of his as
permanent, and here, for years, it had been steadily oozing from
him. As he had diagnosed it, he had come in from under the stars
to roost in the coops of cities. He had almost forgotten how to
walk. He had lifted up his feet and been ridden around in
automobiles, cabs and carriages, and electric cars. He had not
exercised, and he had dry-rotted his muscles with alcohol.
And was it worth it? What did all his money mean after all?
Dede was right. It could buy him no more than one bed at a time,
and at the same time it made him the abjectest of slaves. It
tied him fast. He was tied by it right now. Even if he so
desired, he could not lie abed this very day. His money called
him. The office whistle would soon blow, and he must answer it.
The early sunshine was streaming through his window--a fine day
for a ride in the hills on Bob, with Dede beside him on her Mab.
Yet all his millions could not buy him this one day. One of
those flurries might come along, and he had to be on the spot to
meet it. Thirty millions! And they were powerless to persuade
Dede to ride on Mab--Mab, whom he had bought, and who was unused
and growing fat on pasture. What were thirty millions when they
could not buy a man a ride with the girl he loved? Thirty
millions!--that made him come here and go there, that rode upon
him like so many millstones, that destroyed him while they grew,
that put their foot down and prevented him from winning this girl
who worked for ninety dollars a month.
Which was better? he asked himself. All this was Dede's own
thought. It was what she had meant when she prayed he would go
broke. He held up his offending right arm. It wasn't the same
old arm. Of course she could not love that arm and that body as
she had loved the strong, clean arm and body of years before. He
didn't like that arm and body himself. A young whippersnapper
had been able to take liberties with it. It had gone back on
him. He sat up suddenly. No, by God, he had gone back on it!
He had gone back on himself. He had gone back on Dede. She was
right, a thousand times right, and she had sense enough to know
it, sense enough to refuse to marry a money slave with a
He got out of bed and looked at himself in the long mirror on the
wardrobe door. He wasn't pretty. The old-time lean cheeks
were gone. These were heavy, seeming to hang down by their own
weight. He looked for the lines of cruelty Dede had spoken of,
and he found them, and he found the harshness in the eyes as
well, the eyes that were muddy now after all the cocktails of the
night before, and of the months and years before. He looked at
the clearly defined pouches that showed under his eyes, and
they've shocked him. He rolled up the sleeve of his pajamas. No
wonder the hammer-thrower had put his hand down. Those weren't
muscles. A rising tide of fat had submerged them. He stripped
off the pajama coat. Again he was shocked, this time but the
bulk of his body. It wasn't pretty. The lean stomach had become
a paunch. The ridged muscles of chest and shoulders and abdomen
had broken down into rolls of flesh.
He sat down on the bed, and through his mind drifted pictures of
his youthful excellence, of the hardships he had endured over
other men, of the Indians and dogs he had run off their legs in
the heart-breaking days and nights on the Alaskan trail, of the
feats of strength that had made him king over a husky race of
And this was age. Then there drifted across the field of vision
of his mind's eye the old man he had encountered at Glen Ellen,
corning up the hillside through the fires of sunset, white-headed
and white-bearded, eighty-four, in his hand the pail of foaming
milk and in his face all the warm glow and content of the passing
summer day. That had been age. "Yes siree, eighty-four, and
spryer than most," he could hear the old man say. "And 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
Next he remembered the old woman of the chaparral, pressing
grapes in her mountain clearing; and Ferguson, the little man who
had scuttled into the road like a rabbit, the one-time managing
editor of a great newspaper, who was content to live in the
chaparral along with his spring of mountain water and his
hand-reared and manicured fruit trees. Ferguson had solved a
problem. A weakling and an alcoholic, he had run away from the
doctors and the chicken-coop of a city, and soaked up health like
a thirsty sponge. Well, Daylight pondered, if a sick man whom
the doctors had given up could develop into a healthy farm
laborer, what couldn't a merely stout man like himself do under
similar circumstances? He caught a vision of his body with all
its youthful excellence returned, and thought of Dede, and sat
down suddenly on the bed, startled by the greatness of the idea
that had come to him.
He did not sit long. His mind, working in its customary way,
like a steel trap, canvassed the idea in all its bearings. It
was big--bigger than anything he had faced before. And he faced
it squarely, picked it up in his two hands and turned it over and
around and looked at it. The simplicity of it delighted him. He
chuckled over it, reached his decision, and began to dress.
Midway in the dressing he stopped in order to use the telephone.
Dede was the first he called up.
"Don't come to the office this morning," he said. "I'm coming
out to see you for a moment." He called up others. He ordered
his motor-car. To Jones he gave instructions for the forwarding
of Bob and Wolf to Glen Ellen. Hegan he surprised by asking him
to look up the deed of the Glen Ellen ranch and make out a new
one in Dede Mason's name. "Who?" Hegan demanded. "Dede Mason,"
Daylight replied imperturbably the 'phone must be indistinct this
morning. "D-e-d-e M-a-s o-n. Got it?"
Half an hour later he was flying out to Berkeley. And for the
first time the big red car halted directly before the house.
Dede offered to receive him in the parlor, but he shook his head
and nodded toward her rooms.
"In there," he said. "No other place would suit."
As the door closed, his arms went out and around her. Then he
stood with his hands on her shoulders and looking down into her
"Dede, if I tell you, flat and straight, that I'm going up to
live on that ranch at Glen Ellen, that I ain't taking a cent with
me, that I'm going to scratch for every bite I eat, and that I
ain't going to play ary a card at the business game again, will
you come along with me?"
She gave a glad little cry, and he nestled her in closely. But
next moment she had thrust herself out from him to the old
position at arm's length.
"I-I don't understand," she said breathlessly.
"And you ain't answered my proposition, though I guess no answer
is necessary. We're just going to get married right away and
start. I've sent Bob and Wolf along already. When will you be
Dede could not forbear to smile. "My, what a hurricane of a man
it is. I'm quite blown away. And you haven't explained a word
Daylight smiled responsively.
"Look here, Dede, this is what card-sharps call a show-down. No
more philandering and frills and long-distance sparring between
you and me. We're just going to talk straight out in
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Now you
answer some questions for me, and then I'll answer yours."
He paused. "Well, I've got only one question after all: Do you
love me enough to marry me?"
"But--" she began.
"No buts," he broke in sharply. "This is a show-down. When I
say marry, I mean what I told you at first, that we'd go up and
live on the ranch. Do you love me enough for that?"
She looked at him for a moment, then her lids dropped, and all of
her seemed to advertise consent.
"Come on, then, let's start." The muscles of his legs tensed
involuntarily as if he were about to lead her to the door. "My
auto's waiting outside. There's nothing to delay excepting
getting on your hat."
He bent over her. "I reckon it's allowable," he said, as he
It was a long embrace, and she was the first to speak.
"You haven't answered my questions. How is this possible? How
can you leave your business? Has anything happened?"
"No, nothing's happened yet, but it's going to, blame quick.
I've taken your preaching to heart, and I've come to the penitent
form. You are my Lord God, and I'm sure going to serve you. The
rest can go to thunder. You were sure right. I've been the
slave to my money, and since I can't serve two masters I'm
letting the money slide. I'd sooner have you than all the money
in the world, that's all." Again he held her closely in his
arms. "And I've sure got you, Dede. I've sure got you.
"And I want to tell you a few more. I've taken my last drink.
You're marrying a whiskey-soak, but your husband won't be that.
He's going to grow into another man so quick you won't know him.
A couple of months from now, up there in Glen Ellen, you'll wake
up some morning and find you've got a perfect stranger in the
house with you, and you'll have to get introduced to him all over
again. You'll say, 'I'm Mrs. Harnish, who are you?" And I'll
say, 'I'm Elam Harnish's younger brother. I've just arrived from
Alaska to attend the funeral.' 'What funeral?' you'll say. And
I'll say, 'Why, the funeral of that good-for-nothing, gambling,
whiskey-drinking Burning Daylight--the man that died of fatty
degeneration of the heart from sitting in night and day at the
business game 'Yes ma'am,' I'll say, 'he's sure a gone 'coon, but
I've come to take his place and make you happy. And now, ma'am,
if you'll allow me, I'll just meander down to the pasture and
milk the cow while you're getting breakfast.'"
Again he caught her hand and made as if to start with her for the
door. When she resisted, he bent and kissed her again and again.
"I'm sure hungry for you, little woman," he murmured "You make
thirty millions look like thirty cents."
"Do sit down and be sensible," she urged, her cheeks flushed, the
golden light in her eyes burning more golden than he had ever
seen it before.
But Daylight was bent on having his way, and when he sat down it
was with her beside him and his arm around her.
"'Yes, ma'am,' I'll say, 'Burning Daylight was a pretty good
cuss, but it's better that he's gone. He quit rolling up in his
rabbit-skins and sleeping in the snow, and went to living in a
chicken-coop. He lifted up his legs and quit walking and
working, and took to existing on Martini cocktails and Scotch
whiskey. He thought he loved you, ma'am, and he did his best,
but he loved his cocktails more, and he loved his money more, and
himself more, and 'most everything else more than he did you.'
And then I'll say, 'Ma'am, you just run your eyes over me and see
how different I am. I ain't got a cocktail thirst, and all the
money I got is a dollar and forty cents and I've got to buy a new
ax, the last one being plumb wore out, and I can love you just
about eleven times as much as your first husband did. You see,
ma'am, he went all to fat. And there ain't ary ounce of fat on
me.' And I'll roll up my sleeve and show you, and say, 'Mrs.
Harnish, after having experience with being married to that old
fat money-bags, do you-all mind marrying a slim young fellow like
me?' And you'll just wipe a tear away for poor old Daylight, and
kind of lean toward me with a willing expression in your eye, and
then I'll blush maybe some, being a young fellow, and put my arm
around you, like that, and then--why, then I'll up and marry my
brother's widow, and go out and do the chores while she's cooking
a bite to eat."
"But you haven't answered my questions," she reproached him, as
she emerged, rosy and radiant, from the embrace that had
accompanied the culmination of his narrative.
"Now just what do you want to know?" he asked.
"I want to know how all this is possible? How you are able to
leave your business at a time like this? What you meant by
saying that something was going to happen quickly? I--" She
hesitated and blushed. "I answered your question, you know."
"Let's go and get married," he urged, all the whimsicality of his
utterance duplicated in his eyes. "You know I've got to make way
for that husky young brother of mine, and I ain't got long to
live." She made an impatient moue, and he continued seriously.
"You see, it's like this, Dede. I've been working like forty
horses ever since this blamed panic set in, and all the time some
of those ideas you'd given me were getting ready to sprout.
Well, they sprouted this morning, that's all. I started to get
up, expecting to go to the office as usual. But I didn't go to
the office. All that sprouting took place there and then. The
sun was shining in the window, and I knew it was a fine day in
the hills. And I knew I wanted to ride in the hills with you
just about thirty million times more than I wanted to go to the
office. And I knew all the time it was impossible. And why?
Because of the office. The office wouldn't let me. All my money
reared right up on its hind legs and got in the way and wouldn't
let me. It's a way that blamed money has of getting in the way.
You know that yourself.
"And then I made up my mind that I was to the dividing of the
ways. One way led to the office. The other way led to Berkeley.
And I took the Berkeley road. I'm never going to set foot in the
office again. That's all gone, finished, over and done with, and
I'm letting it slide clean to smash and then some. My mind's set
on this. You see, I've got religion, and it's sure the old-time
religion; it's love and you, and it's older than the oldest
religion in the world. It's IT, that's what it is--IT, with a
She looked at him with a sudden, startled expression.
"You mean--?" she began.
"I mean just that. I'm wiping the slate clean. I'm letting it
all go to smash. When them thirty million dollars stood up to my
face and said I couldn't go out with you in the hills to-day, I
knew the time had come for me to put my foot down. And I'm
putting it down. I've got you, and my strength to work for you,
and that little ranch in Sonoma. That's all I want, and that's
all I'm going to save out, along with Bob and Wolf, a suit case
and a hundred and forty hair bridles. All the rest goes, and
good riddance. It's that much junk."
But Dede was insistent.
"Then this--this tremendous loss is all unnecessary?" she asked.
"Just what I haven't been telling you. It IS necessary. If that
money thinks it can stand up right to my face and say I can't go
riding with you-"
"No, no; be serious," Dede broke in. "I don't mean that, and you
know it. What I want to know is, from a standpoint of business,
is this failure necessary?"
He shook his head.
"You bet it isn't necessary. That's the point of it. I'm not
letting go of it because I'm licked to a standstill by the panic
and have got to let go. I'm firing it out when I've licked the
panic and am winning, hands down. That just shows how little I
think of it. It's you that counts, little woman, and I make my
But she drew away from his sheltering arms.
"You are mad, Elam."
"Call me that again," he murmured ecstatically. "It's sure
sweeter than the chink of millions."
All this she ignored.
"It's madness. You don't know what you are doing--"
"Oh, yes, I do," he assured her. "I'm winning the dearest wish
of my heart. Why, your little finger is worth more--"
"Do be sensible for a moment."
"I was never more sensible in my lie. I know what I want, and
I'm going to get it. I want you and the open air. I want to get
my foot off the paving-stones and my ear away from the telephone.
I want a little ranch-house in one of the prettiest bits of
country God ever made, and I want to do the chores around that
ranch-house--milk cows, and chop wood, and curry horses, and
plough the ground, and all the rest of it; and I want you there
in the ranch-house with me. I'm plumb tired of everything else,
and clean wore out. And I'm sure the luckiest man alive, for
I've got what money can't buy. I've got you, and thirty millions
couldn't buy you, nor three thousand millions, nor thirty cents-"
A knock at the door interrupted him, and he was left to stare
delightedly at the Crouched Venus and on around the room at
Dede's dainty possessions, while she answered the telephone.
"It is Mr. Hegan," she said, on returning. "He is holding the
line. He says it is important."
Daylight shook his head and smiled.
"Please tell Mr. Hegan to hang up. I'm done with the office and
I don't want to hear anything about anything."
A minute later she was back again.
"He refuses to hang up. He told me to tell you that Unwin is in
the office now, waiting to see you, and Harrison, too. Mr. Hegan
said that Grimshaw and Hodgkins are in trouble. That it
looks as if they are going to break. And he said something about
It was startling information. Both Unwin and Harrison
represented big banking corporations, and Daylight knew that if
the house of Grimshaw and Hodgkins went it would precipitate a
number of failures and start a flurry of serious dimensions. But
Daylight smiled, and shook his head, and mimicked the stereotyped
office tone of voice as he said:--
"Miss Mason, you will kindly tell Mr. Hegan that there is
nothing doing and to hang up."
"But you can't do this," she pleaded.
"Watch me," he grimly answered.
"Say it again'' he cried. "Say it again, and a dozen Grimshaws
and Hodgkins can smash!"
He caught her by the hand and drew her to him.
"You let Hegan hang on to that line till he's tired. We can't be
wasting a second on him on a day like this. He's only in love
with books and things, but I've got a real live woman in my arms
that's loving me all the time she's kicking over the traces."
"But I know something of the fight you have been making," Dede
contended. "If you stop now, all the work you have done,
everything, will be destroyed. You have no right to do it. You
can't do it."
Daylight was obdurate. He shook his head and smiled
"Nothing will be destroyed, Dede, nothing. You don't understand
this business game. It's done on paper. Don't you see? Where's
the gold I dug out of Klondike? Why, it's in twenty-dollar gold
pieces, in gold watches, in wedding rings. No matter what
happens to me, the twenty-dollar pieces, the watches, and the
wedding rings remain. Suppose I died right now. It wouldn't
affect the gold one iota. It's sure the same with this present
situation. All I stand for is paper. I've got the paper for
thousands of acres of land. All right. Burn up the paper, and
burn me along with it. The land remains, don't it? The rain
falls on it, the seeds sprout in it, the trees grow out of it,
the houses stand on it, the electric cars run over it. It's
paper that business is run on. I lose my paper, or I lose my
life, it's all the same; it won't alter one grain of sand in all
that land, or twist one blade of grass around sideways.
"Nothing is going to be lost--not one pile out of the docks, not
one railroad spike, not one ounce of steam out of the gauge of a
ferry-boat. The cars will go on running, whether I hold the
paper or somebody else holds it. The tide has set toward
Oakland. People are beginning to pour in. We're selling
building lots again. There is no stopping that tide. No matter
what happens to me or the paper, them three hundred thousand
folks are coming in the same. And there'll be cars to carry them
around, and houses to hold them, and good water for them to drink
and electricity to give them light, and all the rest."
By this time Hegan had arrived in an automobile. The honk of it
came in through the open window, and they saw, it stop alongside
the big red machine. In the car were Unwin and Harrison, while
Jones sat with the chauffeur
"I'll see Hegan," Daylight told Dede. "There's no need for the
rest. They can wait in the machine."
"Is he drunk?" Hegan whispered to Dede at the door.
She shook her head and showed him in.
"Good morning, Larry," was Daylight's greeting. "Sit down and
rest your feet. You sure seem to be in a flutter."
"I am," the little Irishman snapped back. "Grimshaw and Hodgkins
are going to smash if something isn't done quick. Why didn't you
come to the office? What are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing," Daylight drawled lazily. "Except let them smash, I
"I've had no dealings with Grimshaw and Hodgkins. I don't owe
them anything. Besides, I'm going to smash myself. Look here,
Larry, you know me. You know when I make up my mind I mean it.
Well, I've sure made up my mind. I'm tired of the whole game.
I'm letting go of it as fast as I can, and a smash is the
quickest way to let go."
Hegan stared at his chief, then passed his horror-stricken gaze
on to Dede, who nodded in sympathy.
"So let her smash, Larry," Daylight went on. "All you've got to
do is to protect yourself and all our friends. Now you listen to
me while I tell you what to do. Everything is in good shape to
do it. Nobody must get hurt. Everybody that stood by me must
come through without damage. All the back wages and salaries
must be paid pronto. All the money I've switched away from the
water company, the street cars, and the ferries must be switched
back. And you won't get hurt yourself none. Every company you
got stock in will come through-"
"You are crazy, Daylight!" the little lawyer cried out. "This is
all babbling lunacy. What is the matter with you? You haven't
been eating a drug or something?"
"I sure have!" Daylight smiled reply. "And I'm now coughing it
up. I'm sick of living in a city and playing business--I'm going
off to the sunshine, and the country, and the green grass. And
Dede, here, is going with me. So you've got the chance to be the
first to congratulate me."
"Congratulate the--the devil! " Hegan spluttered. "I'm not
going to stand for this sort of foolishness."
"Oh, yes, you are; because if you don't there'll be a bigger
smash and some folks will most likely get hurt. You're worth a
million or more yourself, now, and if you listen to me you come
through with a whole skin. I want to get hurt, and get hurt to
the limit. That's what I'm looking for, and there's no man or
bunch of men can get between me and what I'm looking for.
Savvee, Hegan? Savvee?"
"What have you done to him?" Hegan snarled at Dede.
"Hold on there, Larry." For the first time Daylight's voice
was sharp, while all the old lines of cruelty in his face stood
forth. "Miss Mason is going to be my wife, and while I don't
mind your talking to her all you want, you've got to use a
different tone of voice or you'll be heading for a hospital,
which will sure be an unexpected sort of smash. And let me tell
you one other thing. This-all is my doing. She says I'm crazy,
Hegan shook his head in speechless sadness and continued to
"There'll be temporary receiverships, of course," Daylight
advised; "but they won't bother none or last long. What you must
do immediately is to save everybody--the men that have been
letting their wages ride with me, all the creditors, and all the
concerns that have stood by. There's the wad of land that New
Jersey crowd has been dickering for. They'll take all of a
couple of thousand acres and will close now if you give them half
a chance. That Fairmount section is the cream of it, and they'll
dig up as high as a thousand dollars an acre for a part of it.
That'll help out some. That five-hundred acre tract beyond,
you'll be lucky if they pay two hundred an acre."
Dede, who had been scarcely listening, seemed abruptly to make up
her mind, and stepped forward where she confronted the two men.
Her face was pale, but set with determination, so that Daylight,
looking at it, was reminded of the day when she first rode Bob.
"Wait," she said. "I want to say something. Elam, if you do
this insane thing, I won't marry you. I refuse to marry you."
Hegan, in spite of his misery, gave her a quick, grateful look.
"I'll take my chance on that," Daylight began.
"Wait!" she again interrupted. "And if you don't do this thing,
I will marry you."
"Let me get this proposition clear." Daylight spoke with
exasperating slowness and deliberation. "As I understand it, if
I keep right on at the business game, you'll sure marry me?
You'll marry me if I keep on working my head off and drinking
After each question he paused, while she nodded an affirmation.
"And you'll marry me right away?"
He pondered for a moment.
"No, little woman, I won't do it. It won't work, and you know it
yourself. I want you--all of you; and to get it I'll have to
give you all of myself, and there'll be darn little of myself
left over to give if I stay with the business game. Why, Dede,
with you on the ranch with me, I'm sure of you--and of myself.
I'm sure of you, anyway. You can talk will or won't all you
want, but you're sure going to marry me just the same. And now,
Larry, you'd better be going. I'll be at the hotel in a little
while, and since I'm not going a step into the office again,
bring all papers to sign and the rest over to my rooms. And you
can get me on the 'phone there any time. This smash is going
through. Savvee? I'm quit and done."
He stood up as a sign for Hegan to go. The latter was plainly
stunned. He also rose to his feet, but stood looking helplessly
"Sheer, downright, absolute insanity," he muttered.
Daylight put his hand on the other's shoulder.
"Buck up, Larry. You're always talking about the wonders of
human nature, and here I am giving you another sample of it and
you ain't appreciating it. I'm a bigger dreamer than you are,
that's all, and I'm sure dreaming what's coming true. It's the
biggest, best dream I ever had, and I'm going after it to get
"By losing all you've got," Hegan exploded at him.
"Sure--by losing all I've got that I don't want. But I'm
hanging on to them hundred and forty hair bridles just the same.
Now you'd better hustle out to Unwin and Harrison and get on down
town. I'll be at the hotel, and you can call me up any time."
He turned to Dede as soon as Hegan was gone, and took her by the
"And now, little woman, you needn't come to the office any more.
Consider yourself discharged. And remember I was your employer,
so you've got to come to me for recommendation, and if you're not
real good, I won't give you one. In the meantime, you just rest
up and think about what things you want to pack, because we'll
just about have to set up housekeeping on your stuff--leastways,
the front part of the house."
"But, Elam, I won't, I won't! If you do this mad thing I never
will marry you."
She attempted to take her hand away, but he closed on it with a
protecting, fatherly clasp.
"Will you be straight and honest? All right, here goes. Which
would you sooner have--me and the money, or me and the ranch?"
"But-" she began.
"No buts. Me and the money?"
She did not answer.
"Me and the ranch?"
Still she did not answer, and still he was undisturbed.
"You see, I know your answer, Dede, and there's nothing more to
say. Here's where you and I quit and hit the high places for
Sonoma. You make up your mind what you want to pack, and I'll
have some men out here in a couple of days to do it for you. It
will be about the last work anybody else ever does for us. You
and I will do the unpacking and the arranging ourselves."
She made a last attempt.
"Elam, won't you be reasonable? There is time to reconsider. I
can telephone down and catch Mr. Hegan as soon as he reaches the
"Why, I'm the only reasonable man in the bunch right now," he
rejoined. "Look at me--as calm as you please, and as happy as a
king, while they're fluttering around like a lot of cranky hens
whose heads are liable to be cut off."
"I'd cry, if I thought it would do any good," she threatened.
"In which case I reckon I'd have to hold you in my arms some more
and sort of soothe you down," he threatened back. "And now I'm
going to go. It's too bad you got rid of Mab. You could have
sent her up to the ranch. But see you've got a mare to ride of
some sort or other."
As he stood at the top of the steps, leaving, she said:-
"You needn't send those men. There will be no packing, because I
am not going to marry you."
"I'm not a bit scared," he answered, and went down the steps.
Three days later, Daylight rode to Berkeley in his red car. It
was for the last time, for on the morrow the big machine passed
into another's possession. It had been a strenuous three days,
for his smash had been the biggest the panic had precipitated in
California. The papers had been filled with it, and a great cry
of indignation had gone up from the very men who later found that
Daylight had fully protected their interests. It was these
facts, coming slowly to light, that gave rise to the widely
repeated charge that Daylight had gone insane. It was the
unanimous conviction among business men that no sane man could
possibly behave in such fashion. On the other hand, neither his
prolonged steady drinking nor his affair with Dede became public,
so the only conclusion attainable was that the wild financier
from Alaska had gone lunatic. And Daylight had grinned and
confirmed the suspicion by refusing to see the reporters.
He halted the automobile before Dede's door, and met her with his
same rushing tactics, enclosing her in his arms before a word
could be uttered. Not until afterward, when she had recovered
herself from him and got him seated, did he begin to speak.
"I've done it," he announced. "You've seen the newspapers, of
course. I'm plumb cleaned out, and I've just called around to
find out what day you feel like starting for Glen Ellen. It'll
have to be soon, for it's real expensive living in Oakland these
days. My board at the hotel is only paid to the end of the week,
and I can't afford to stay after that. And beginning with
to-morrow I've got to use the street cars, and they sure eat up
He paused, and waited, and looked at her. Indecision and trouble
showed on her face. Then the smile he knew so well began to grow
on her lips and in her eyes, until she threw back her head and
laughed in the old forthright boyish way.
"When are those men coming to pack for me?" she asked.
And again she laughed and simulated a vain attempt to escape his
"Dear Elam," she whispered; "dear Elam." And of herself, for
the first time, she kissed him.
She ran her hand caressingly through his hair.
"Your eyes are all gold right now," he said. "I can look in them
and tell just how much you love me."
"They have been all gold for you, Elam, for a long time. I
on our little ranch, they will always be all gold."
"Your hair has gold in it, too, a sort of fiery gold." He
turned her face suddenly and held it between his hands and looked
long into her eyes. "And your eyes were full of gold only the
other day, when you said you wouldn't marry me."
She nodded and laughed.
"You would have your will," she confessed. "But I couldn't be a
party to such madness. All that money was yours, not mine. But
I was loving you all the time, Elam, for the great big boy you
are, breaking the thirty-million toy with which you had grown
tired of playing. And when I said no, I knew all the time it was
yes. And I am sure that my eyes were golden all the time. I had
only one fear, and that was that you would fail to lose
everything. Because, dear, I knew I should marry you anyway, and
I did so want just you and the ranch and Bob and Wolf and those
horse-hair bridles. Shall I tell you a secret? As soon as you
left, I telephoned the man to whom I sold Mab."
She hid her face against his breast for an instant, and then
looked at him again, gladly radiant.
"You see, Elam, in spite of what my lips said, my mind was made
up then. I--I simply had to marry you. But I was praying you
would succeed in losing everything. And so I tried to find what
had become of Mab. But the man had sold her and did not know
what had become of her. You see, I wanted to ride with you over
the Glen Ellen hills, on Mab and you on Bob, just as I had ridden
with you through the Piedmont hills."
The disclosure of Mab's whereabouts trembled on Daylight's lips,
but he forbore.
"I'll promise you a mare that you'll like just as much as Mab,"
But Dede shook her head, and on that one point refused to be
"Now, I've got an idea," Daylight said, hastening to get the
conversation on less perilous ground. "We're running away from
cities, and you have no kith nor kin, so it don't seem exactly
right that we should start off by getting married in a city. So
here's the idea: I'll run up to the ranch and get things in shape
around the house and give the caretaker his walking-papers. You
follow me in a couple of days, coming on the morning train. I'll
have the preacher fixed and waiting. And here's another idea.
You bring your riding togs in a suit case. And as soon as the
ceremony's over, you can go to the hotel and change. Then out
you come, and you find me waiting with a couple of horses, and
we'll ride over the landscape so as you can see the prettiest
parts of the ranch the first thing. And she's sure pretty, that
ranch. And now that it's settled, I'll be waiting for you at the
morning train day after to-morrow."
Dede blushed as she spoke.
"You are such a hurricane."
"Well, ma'am," he drawled, "I sure hate to burn daylight. And
and I have burned a heap of daylight. We've been
scandalously extravagant. We might have been married years ago."
Two days later, Daylight stood waiting outside the little Glen
Ellen hotel. The ceremony was over, and he had left Dede to go
inside and change into her riding-habit while he brought the
horses. He held them now, Bob and Mab, and in the shadow of the
watering-trough Wolf lay and looked on. Already two days of
ardent California sun had touched with new fires the ancient
bronze in Daylight's face. But warmer still was the glow that
came into his cheeks and burned in his eyes as he saw Dede coming
out the door, riding-whip in hand, clad in the familiar corduroy
skirt and leggings of the old Piedmont days. There was warmth
and glow in her own face as she answered his gaze and glanced on
past him to the horses. Then she saw Mab. But her gaze leaped
back to the man.
"Oh, Elam!" she breathed.
It was almost a prayer, but a prayer that included a thousand
meanings Daylight strove to feign sheepishness, but his heart was
singing too wild a song for mere playfulness. All things had
been in the naming of his name--reproach, refined away by
gratitude, and all compounded of joy and love.
She stepped forward and caressed the mare, and again turned and
looked at the man, and breathed:--
"Oh, Elam! "
And all that was in her voice was in her eyes, and in them
Daylight glimpsed a profundity deeper and wider than any speech
or thought--the whole vast inarticulate mystery and wonder of sex
Again he strove for playfulness of speech, but it was too great a
moment for even love fractiousness to enter in. Neither spoke.
She gathered the reins, and, bending, Daylight received her foot
in his hand. She sprang, as he lifted and gained the saddle.
The next moment he was mounted and beside her, and, with Wolf
sliding along ahead in his typical wolf-trot, they went up the
hill that led out of town--two lovers on two chestnut sorrel
steeds, riding out and away to honeymoon through the warm summer
day. Daylight felt himself drunken as with wine. He was at the
topmost pinnacle of life. Higher than this no man could climb
nor had ever climbed. It was his day of days, his love-time and
his mating-time, and all crowned by this virginal possession of a
mate who had said "Oh, Elam," as she had said it, and looked at
him out of her soul as she had looked.
They cleared the crest of the hill, and he watched the joy mount
in her face as she gazed on the sweet, fresh land. He pointed
the group of heavily wooded knolls across the rolling stretches
"They're ours," he said. "And they're only a sample of the
ranch. Wait till you see the big canon. There are 'coons down
there, and back here on the Sonoma there are mink. And deer!--
why, that mountain's sure thick with them, and I reckon we can
scare up a mountain-lion if we want to real hard. And, say,
there's a little meadow=-well, I ain't going to tell you another
word. You wait and see for yourself."
They turned in at the gate, where the road to the clay-pit
crossed the fields, and both sniffed with delight as the warm
aroma of the ripe hay rose in their nostrils. As on his first
visit, the larks were uttering their rich notes and fluttering up
before the horses until the woods and the flower-scattered glades
were reached, when the larks gave way to blue jays and
"We're on our land now," he said, as they left the hayfield
behind. "It runs right across country over the roughest parts.
Just you wait and see."
As on the first day, he turned aside from the clay-pit and worked
through the woods to the left, passing the first spring and
jumping the horses over the ruined remnants of the
stake-and-rider fence. From here on, Dede was in an unending
ecstasy. By the spring that gurgled among the redwoods grew
another great wild lily, bearing on its slender stalk the
prodigious outburst of white waxen bells. This time he did not
dismount, but led the way to the deep canon where the stream had
cut a passage among the knolls. He had been at work here, and a
steep and slippery horse trail now crossed the creek, so they
rode up beyond, through the somber redwood twilight, and, farther
on, through a tangled wood of oak and madrono. They came to a
small clearing of several acres, where the grain stood waist
"Ours," Daylight said.
She bent in her saddle, plucked a stalk of the ripe grain, and
nibbled it between her teeth.
"Sweet mountain hay," she cried. "The kind Mab likes."
And throughout the ride she continued to utter cries and
ejaculations of surprise and delight.
"And you never told me all this!" she reproached him, as they
looked across the little clearing and over the descending slopes
of woods to the great curving sweep of Sonoma Valley.
"Come," he said; and they turned and went back through the forest
shade, crossed the stream and came to the lily by the spring.
Here, also, where the way led up the tangle of the steep hill, he
had cut a rough horse trail. As they forced their way up the
zigzags, they caught glimpses out and down through the sea of
foliage. Yet always were their farthest glimpses stopped by the
closing vistas of green, and, yet always, as they climbed, did
the forest roof arch overhead, with only here and there rifts
that permitted shattered shafts of sunlight to penetrate. And
all about them were ferns, a score of varieties, from the tiny
gold-backs and maidenhair to huge brakes six and eight feet tall.
Below them, as they mounted, they glimpsed great gnarled trunks
and branches of ancient trees, and above them were similar great
Dede stopped her horse and sighed with the beauty of it all.
"It is as if we are swimmers," she said, "rising out of a deep
pool of green tranquillity. Up above is the sky and the sun, but
this is a pool, and we are fathoms deep."
They started their horses, but a dog-tooth violet, shouldering
amongst the maidenhair, caught her eye and made her rein in
They cleared the crest and emerged from the pool as if into
another world, for now they were in the thicket of velvet-trunked
young madronos and looking down the open, sun-washed hillside,
across the nodding grasses, to the drifts of blue and white
nemophilae that carpeted the tiny meadow on either side the tiny
stream. Dede clapped her hands.
"It's sure prettier than office furniture," Daylight remarked.
"It sure is," she answered.
And Daylight, who knew his weakness in the use of the particular
word sure, knew that she had repeated it deliberately and with
They crossed the stream and took the cattle track over the low
rocky hill and through the scrub forest of manzanita, till they
emerged on the next tiny valley with its meadow-bordered
"If we don't run into some quail pretty soon, I'll be surprised
some," Daylight said.
And as the words left his lips there was a wild series of
explosive thrumming as the old quail arose from all about Wolf,
while the young ones scuttled for safety and disappeared
miraculously before the spectators' very eyes.
He showed her the hawk's nest he had found in the
lightning-shattered top of the redwood, and she discovered a
wood-rat's nest which he had not seen before. Next they took the
old wood-road and came out on the dozen acres of clearing where
wine grapes grew in the wine-colored volcanic soil. Then they
followed the cow-path through more woods and thickets and
scattered glades, and dropped down the hillside to where the
farm-house, poised on the lip of the big canon, came into view
only when they were right upon it.
Dede stood on the wide porch that ran the length of the house
while Daylight tied the horses. To Dede it was very quiet. It
was the dry, warm, breathless calm of California midday. All the
world seemed dozing. From somewhere pigeons were cooing lazily.
With a deep sigh of satisfaction, Wolf, who had drunk his fill at
all the streams along the way, dropped down in the cool shadow of
the porch. She heard the footsteps of Daylight returning, and
caught her breath with a quick intake. He took her hand in his,
and, as he turned the door-knob, felt her hesitate. Then he put
his arm around her; the door swung open, and together they passed
Many persons, themselves city-bred and city-reared, have fled to
the soil and succeeded in winning great happiness. In such cases
they have succeeded only by going through a process of savage
disillusionment. But with Dede and Daylight it was different.
They had both been born on the soil, and they knew its naked
simplicities and rawer ways. They were like two persons, after
far wandering, who had merely come home again. There was less of
the unexpected in their dealings with nature, while theirs was
all the delight of reminiscence. What might appear sordid and
squalid to the fastidiously reared, was to them eminently
wholesome and natural. The commerce of nature was to them no
unknown and untried trade. They made fewer mistakes. They
already knew, and it was a joy to remember what they had
And another thing they learned was that it was easier for one who
has gorged at the flesh-pots to content himself with the
meagerness of a crust, than for one who has known only the crust.
Not that their life was meagre. It was that they found keener
delights and deeper satisfactions in little things. Daylight,
who had played the game in its biggest and most fantastic
aspects, found that here, on the slopes of Sonoma Mountain, it
was still the same old game. Man had still work to perform,
forces to combat, obstacles to overcome. When he experimented in
a small way at raising a few pigeons for market, he found no less
zest in calculating in squabs than formerly when he had
calculated in millions. Achievement was no less achievement,
while the process of it seemed more rational and received the
sanction of his reason.
The domestic cat that had gone wild and that preyed on his
pigeons, he found, by the comparative standard, to be of no less
paramount menace than a Charles Klinkner in the field of finance,
trying to raid him for several millions. The hawks and weasels
and 'coons were so many Dowsetts, Lettons, and Guggenhammers that
struck at him secretly. The sea of wild vegetation that tossed
its surf against the boundaries of all his clearings and that
sometimes crept in and flooded in a single week was no mean enemy
to contend with and subdue. His fat-soiled vegetable-garden in
the nook of hills that failed of its best was a problem of
engrossing importance, and when he had solved it by putting in
drain-tile, the joy of the achievement was ever with him. He
never worked in it and found the soil unpacked and tractable
without experiencing the thrill of accomplishment.
There was the matter of the plumbing. He was enabled to purchase