Where the San Leandro turnpike stretches its dusty, hot, and interminable length along the valley, at a point where the heat and dust have become intolerable, the monotonous expanse of wild oats on either side illimitable, and the distant horizon apparently remoter than ever, it suddenly slips between a stunted thicket or hedge of "scrub oaks," which until that moment had been undistinguishable above the long, misty, quivering level of the grain. The thicket rising gradually in height, but with a regular slope whose gradient had been determined by centuries of western trade winds, presently becomes a fair wood of live-oak, and a few hundred yards further at last assumes the aspect of a primeval forest. A delicious coolness fills the air; the long, shadowy aisles greet the aching eye with a soothing twilight; the murmur of unseen brooks is heard, and, by a strange irony, the enormous, widely-spaced stacks of wild oats are replaced by a carpet of tiny-leaved mosses and chickweed at the roots of trees, and the minutest clover in more open spaces. The baked and cracked adobe soil of the now vanished plains is exchanged for a heavy red mineral dust and gravel, rocks and boulders make their appearance, and at times the road is crossed by the white veins of quartz. It is still the San Leandro turnpike,—a few miles later to rise from this canada into the upper plains again,—but it is also the actual gateway and avenue to the Robles Rancho.
Just where the red track of the Los Gatos road streams on and upward like the sinuous trail of a fiery rocket until it is extinguished in the blue shadows of the Coast Range, there is an embayed terrace near the summit, hedged by dwarf firs. At every bend of the heat-laden road the eye rested upon it wistfully; all along the flank of the mountain, which seemed to pant and quiver in the oven-like air, through rising dust, the slow creaking of dragging wheels, the monotonous cry of tired springs, and the muffled beat of plunging hoofs, it held out a promise of sheltered coolness and green silences beyond. Sunburned and anxious faces yearned toward it from the dizzy, swaying tops of stage-coaches, from lagging teams far below, from the blinding white canvas covers of "mountain schooners," and from scorching saddles that seemed to weigh down the scrambling, sweating animals beneath. But it would seem that the hope was vain, the promise illusive. When the terrace was reached it appeared not only to have caught and gathered all the heat of the valley below, but to have evolved a fire of its own from some hidden crater-like source unknown.
The sun was going down on the Carquinez Woods. The few shafts of sunlight that had pierced their pillared gloom were lost in unfathomable depths, or splintered their ineffectual lances on the enormous trunks of the redwoods. For a time the dull red of their vast columns, and the dull red of their cast-off bark which matted the echoless aisles, still seemed to hold a faint glow of the dying day. But even this soon passed. Light and color fled upwards. The dark interlaced treetops, that had all day made an impenetrable shade, broke into fire here and there; their lost spires glittered, faded, and went utterly out. A weird twilight that did not come from the outer world, but seemed born of the wood itself, slowly filled and possessed the aisles. The straight, tall, colossal trunks rose dimly like columns of upward smoke. The few fallen trees stretched their huge length into obscurity, and seemed to lie on shadowy trestles. The strange breath that filled these mysterious vaults had neither coldness nor moisture; a dry, fragrant dust arose from the noiseless foot that trod their bark-strewn floor; the aisles might have been tombs, the fallen trees enormous mummies; the silence the solitude of a forgotten past.
It was noon of the 10th of August, 1838. The monotonous coast line between Monterey and San Diego had set its hard outlines against the steady glare of the Californian sky and the metallic glitter of the Pacific Ocean. The weary succession of rounded, dome-like hills obliterated all sense of distance; the rare whaling vessel or still rarer trader, drifting past, saw no change in these rusty undulations, barren of distinguishing peak or headland, and bald of wooded crest or timbered ravine. The withered ranks of wild oats gave a dull procession of uniform color to the hills, unbroken by any relief of shadow in their smooth, round curves. As far as the eye could reach, sea and shore met in one bleak monotony, flecked by no passing cloud, stirred by no sign of life or motion. Even sound was absent; the Angelus, rung from the invisible Mission tower far inland, was driven back again by the steady northwest trades, that for half the year had swept the coast line and left it abraded of all umbrage and color.
It was a season of unequalled prosperity in Devil's Ford. The half a dozen cabins scattered along the banks of the North Fork, as if by some overflow of that capricious river, had become augmented during a week of fierce excitement by twenty or thirty others, that were huddled together on the narrow gorge of Devil's Spur, or cast up on its steep sides. So sudden and violent had been the change of fortune, that the dwellers in the older cabins had not had time to change with it, but still kept their old habits, customs, and even their old clothes. The flour pan in which their daily bread was mixed stood on the rude table side by side with the "prospecting pans," half full of gold washed up from their morning's work; the front windows of the newer tenements looked upon the one single thoroughfare, but the back door opened upon the uncleared wilderness, still haunted by the misshapen bulk of bear or the nightly gliding of catamount.
Published by VM eBook THE BELL-RINGER OF ANGEL'S CHAPTER I. CHAPTER II. CHAPTER III. CHAPTER IV. JOHNNYBOY. YOUNG ROBIN GRAY. THE SHERIFF OF SISKYOU. A ROSE OF GLENBOGIE. THE MYSTERY OF THE HACIENDA. CHU CHU. MY FIRST BOOK.
Published by VM eBook A MERCURY OF THE FOOT-HILLS COLONEL STARBOTTLE FOR THE PLAINTIFF THE LANDLORD OF THE BIG FLUME HOTEL A BUCKEYE HOLLOW INHERITANCE THE REINCARNATION OF SMITH LANTY FOSTER'S MISTAKE AN ALI BABA OF THE SIERRAS MISS PEGGY'S PROTEGES THE GODDESS OF EXCELSIOR
Published by VM eBook BOOK I. ON THE THRESHOLD. CHAPTER I. WITHOUT. CHAPTER II. WITHIN. CHAPTER III. GABRIEL. CHAPTER IV. NATURE SHOWS THEM THE WAY. CHAPTER V. OUT OF THE WOODS—INTO THE SHADOW. CHAPTER VI. FOOTPRINTS. CHAPTER VII. IN WHICH THE FOOTPRINTS BEGIN TO FADE. CHAPTER VIII. THE FOOTPRINTS GROW FAINTER. CHAPTER IX. IN WHICH THE FOOTPRINTS ARE LOST FOR EVER. BOOK II. AFTER FIVE YEARS. CHAPTER I. ONE HORSE GULCH. CHAPTER II. MADAME DEVARGES. CHAPTER III. MRS. MARKLE. CHAPTER IV. IN WHICH THE ARTFUL GABRIEL IS DISCOVERED. CHAPTER V. SIMPLICITY versus SAGACITY. BOOK III. THE LEAD. CHAPTER I. AN OLD PIONEER OF '49. CHAPTER II. A CLOUD OF WITNESSES. CHAPTER III. THE CHARMING MRS. SEPULVIDA. CHAPTER IV. FATHER FELIPE. CHAPTER V. IN WHICH THE DONNA MARIA MAKES AN IMPRESSION. CHAPTER VI. THE LADY OF GRIEF. CHAPTER VII. A LEAF OUT OF THE PAST. CHAPTER VIII. THE BULLS OF THE BLESSED TRINITY. BOOK IV. DRIFTING. CHAPTER I. MR. AND MRS. CONROY AT HOME. CHAPTER II. IN WHICH THE TREASURE IS FOUND—AND LOST. CHAPTER III. MR. DUMPHY MEETS AN OLD FRIEND. CHAPTER IV. MR. JACK HAMLIN TAKES A HOLIDAY. CHAPTER V. VICTOR MAKES A DISCOVERY. CHAPTER VI. AN EXPERT. BOOK V. THE VEIN. CHAPTER I. IN WHICH GABRIEL RECOGNISES THE PROPRIETIES. CHAPTER II. TRANSIENT GUESTS AT THE GRAND CONROY. CHAPTER III. IN WHICH MR. DUMPHY TAKES A HOLIDAY. CHAPTER IV. MR. DUMPHY HAS NEWS OF A DOMESTIC CHARACTER. CHAPTER V. MRS. CONROY HAS AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR. CHAPTER VI. GABRIEL DISCARDS HIS HOME AND WEALTH. CHAPTER VII. WHAT PASSED UNDER THE PINE AND WHAT REMAINED THERE. BOOK VI. A DIP. CHAPTER I. MR. HAMLIN'S RECREATION CONTINUED. CHAPTER II. MR. HAMLIN TAKES A HAND. CHAPTER III. IN WHICH MR. DUMPHY TAKES POINSETT INTO HIS CONFIDENCE. CHAPTER IV. MR. HAMLIN IS OFF WITH AN OLD LOVE. CHAPTER V. THE THREE VOICES. CHAPTER VI. MR. DUMPHY IS PERPLEXED BY A MOVEMENT IN REAL ESTATE. CHAPTER VII. IN WHICH BOTH JUSTICE AND THE HEAVENS FALL. CHAPTER VIII. IN TENEBRIS SERVARE FIDEM. CHAPTER IX. IN WHICH HECTOR ARISES FROM THE DITCH. BOOK VII. THE BED ROCK. CHAPTER I. IN THE TRACK OF A STORM. CHAPTER II. THE YELLOW ENVELOPE. CHAPTER III. GABRIEL MEETS HIS LAWYER. CHAPTER IV. WHAT AH FE DOES NOT KNOW. CHAPTER V. THE PEOPLE V. JOHN DOE alias GABRIEL CONROY, AND JANE ROE alias JULIE CONROY. BEFORE BOOMPOINTER, J. CHAPTER VI. IN REBUTTAL. CHAPTER VII. A FAMILY GREETING. CHAPTER VIII. IN WHICH THE FOOTPRINTS RETURN. CHAPTER IX. IN WHICH MR. HAMLIN PASSES. CHAPTER X. IN THE OLD CABIN AGAIN. CHAPTER XI. THE RETURN OF A FOOTPRINT. CHAPTER XII. FRAGMENT OF A LETTER FROM OLYMPIA CONROY TO GRACE POINSETT. END OF VOL. IV.
As Clarence Brant, President of the Robles Land Company, and husband of the rich widow of John Peyton, of the Robles Ranche, mingled with the outgoing audience of the Cosmopolitan Theatre, at San Francisco, he elicited the usual smiling nods and recognition due to his good looks and good fortune. But as he hurriedly slipped through the still lingering winter's rain into the smart coupe that was awaiting him, and gave the order "Home," the word struck him with a peculiarly ironical significance. His home was a handsome one, and lacked nothing in appointment and comfort, but he had gone to the theatre to evade its hollow loneliness. Nor was it because his wife was not there, for he had a miserable consciousness that her temporary absence had nothing to do with his homelessness. The distraction of the theatre over, that dull, vague, but aching sense of loneliness which was daily growing upon him returned with greater vigor.
He leaned back in the coupe and gloomily reflected.
Published by VM eBook THE MAN ON THE BEACH I II III TWO SAINTS OF THE FOOT-HILLS "JINNY" ROGER CATRON'S FRIEND "WHO WAS MY QUIET FRIEND?" A GHOST OF THE SIERRAS THE HOODLUM BAND OR THE BOY CHIEF, THE INFANT POLITICIAN, AND THE PIRATE PRODIGY BY JACK WHACKAWAY CHAPTER I CHAPTER II CHAPTER III CHAPTER IV CHAPTER V THE MAN WHOSE YOKE WAS NOT EASY MY FRIEND, THE TRAMP THE MAN FROM SOLANO THE OFFICE SEEKER A SLEEPING-CAR EXPERIENCE MORNING ON THE AVENUE NOTES BY AN EARLY RISER. WITH THE ENTREES
You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.
eReaders and other devices
To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.