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we're a little short in the orchestra. nature; but you will scarce believe how You're a musician, I guess?"
my heart leaped at this. It was like I assured him that, beyond a rudimen- meeting one's wife. I had come home tary acquaintance with
“ Auld Lang again home from unsightly deserts, to Syne" and the “Wearing of the Green,” the green and habitable corners of the I had no pretension whatever to that earth. Every spire of pine along the style. He seemed much put out of coun. hilltop, every trouty pool along that tenance; and one of his taller compan. mountain river, was more dear to me than ions asked him, on the nail, for five dol. a blood relation. Few people have praised lars.
God more happily than I did. And ** You see, sir,” added the latter to me, thenceforward, down by Blue Canyon, "he bet you were a musician ; I bet you Alta, Dutch Flat, and all the old mining weren't. No offence, I hope ? ?
camps, through a sea of mountain forests, “ None whatever,” I said, and the two dropping thousands of feet toward the withdrew to the bar, where I presume the far sea-level as we went, not I only, but debt was liquidated.
all the passengers on board, threw off This little adventure woke bright hopes their sense of dirt and heat and weari. in
my fellow-travellers, who thought they ness, and bawled like schoolboys, and had now come to a country where situa thronged with shining eyes upon the plattions went a-begging. But I am not so form, and became new creatures 'within sure that the offer was in good faith. In. and without. The sun no longer opdeed, I am more than half persuaded it pressed us with heat, - it only shone was but a feeler to decide the bet.
| laughingly along the mountain-side, until Of all the next day I will tell you noth- we were fain to laugh ourselves for glee. ing, for the best of all reasons, that 1 At every turn .we could see further into remember no more than that we contin the land and our own happy futures. At ued through desolate and desert scenes, every town the cocks were tossing their fiery hot and deadly weary. But some clear notes into the golden air, and crowtime after I had fallen asleep that night, ing for the new day and the new country. I was awakened by one of my compan- For this was indeed our destination; this ions. It was in vain that I resisted. A was "the good country” we had been fire of enthusiasm and whiskey burned going to so long. in his eyes; and he declared we were in By afternoon we were at Sacramento, a new country, and I must come forth the city of gardens in a plain of corn; upon the plaiform and see with my own and the next day before the dawn we eyes. The train was then, in its patient were lying to upon the Oakland side of way, standing halted in a by-track. It San Francisco Bay. The day was breakwas a clear, moonlit night; but the valley ing as we crossed the ferry; the fog was was too narrow to admit the moonshine rising over the citied hills of San Frandirect, and only a diffused glimmer whi- cisco; the bay was perfect - not a ripple, tened the tall rocks and relieved the scarce a stain, upon its blue expanse; blackness of the pines. A hoarse clamor everything was waiting, breathless, for filled the air; it was the continuous plunge the sun. A spot of cloudy gold lit first of a cascade somewhere near at hand upon the head of Tamalpais, and then among the mountains. The air struck widened downward on its shapely shoulchill, but tasted good and vigorous in the der; the air seemed to awaken, and began nostrils a tine, dry, old mountain atmo: to sparkle; and suddenly sphere. I was dead sleepy, but I returned
The tall hills Titan discovered, to roost with a grateful mountain feeling at my heart.
and the city of San Francisco, and the When I awoke next morning, I was bay of gold and corn, were lit from end puzzled for a while to know if it were day to end with summer daylight. or night, for the illumination was unusual.
R. L. STEVENSON. I sat up at last, and found we were grading slowly downward through a long snowshed; and suddenly we shot into an open; and before we were swallowed into the
From Blackwood's Magazine. next length of wooden tunnel, I had one glimpse of a huge, pine-forested ravine upon my left, a foaming river, and a sky already colored with the fires of dawn. Í One breezy morning in late March, the am usually very calm over the displays of factor, his grieve, and a couple of keepers
MASTER TOMMY'S EXPERIMENT:
A HEATHER-BURNING STORY.
stood on an occupation road, at a gate not before the thin white grass, to which leading out on to a great stretch of moor- it was applied, caught fire. The grieve land. The heather was black in many thrust a long withered bunch of heather places, or rather there were black spots into the young flame, and in a few seconds and long lanes running through the ran out a line of fire twenty yards long. heather, showing where it had been re- The men ranged themselves up against cently burnt, and the men were discussing it, and with their birch switches beat out the advisability of continuing their work the flame on the windward side, – not aland burning more. The wind was so ways easy work, for it ran through the high, and the ling which came next in undergrowth with wonderful quickness, turn was so dry and parched by it, helped and care, and sometimes a few minutes' by occasional blinks of a March sun, that hard work, was necessary to prevent its the keeper was afraid the fire miglit get spreading in a wrong direction.
In an “the head of them,” and burn more than hour, a very long line of fire was estabwould be good for bis department; and lished, ever eating up against the breeze, the forester, who arrived shortly after the crackling and sputtering, and reducing to discussion began, concurred in these soft black powder or burnt stalks everyviews. But the grieve, a man of weight, thing that came in its way. Then – when both in opinion and substance, vehe. this line was four or five feet wide — the mently scoffed at the possibility of such beather, fifty yards off, was kindled in a a thing happening. “We've plenty of parallel, and a rush of red flame and gray hands,” he said; "the season is getting dense smoke tore over the strip, raging on, and we've still lots to do, and if we and fuming with irresistible fury vill it don't do it now, we shan't do it at all this reached the black boundary, where it imyear — that's my opinion. When the head mediately died harmlessly out. The first keeper suggested that even if half the line was ever carried on well in advance moor was burnt, he, the grieve, would not of the second, and before midday a long, be much put out, that official threw the black trail was left behind; carried up hill taunt aside with a grunt, and fixed his and down dale, straight and even, measeyes on the factor, a waiting his decision. ured and kept in check by the careful And the factor, being interested in the eyes of men trained and experienced in ke er's grouse and the grieve's sheep, as such work. The men had brought what well as in the plantation which the for- they called “a dry piece” with them, and ester was always trying to persuade his the factor supplied the moisture which master to make on part of that hillside, they considered necessary for its proper considered the matter fairly and dispas- digestion – whisky. They all had a glass sionately, and thus gave it : " We'll try it, at dinner-time, and about six o'clock were anyhow, and we'll take plenty of men.' preparing for another as a strengthener Then the grieve blew a joyous whistle, for the last hour's work, when an putting a forefinger of each hand in his cident happened which made them all mouth, causing to issue thence a shrill change their plans, and prevented many sound, which went far over hill and dale; an honest fellow from eating his porridge and in a short time a goodly array of men at home that night, or sleeping in his own appeared from all parts of the compass
bed. from the steading below, and from various That morning Master Tommy, aged bothies and cottages round, some of them ten, son of the laird, went through the finishing their breakfasts as they arrived, programme which he had for some time and all armed with one two long chalked out for hiinself as being necesswitches of birch, called technically,“ beat- sary. He hid hinself in the barn, then ers,” or “trees.” They, too, had been in a shrubbery, was discovered, admon. discussing the wind, uncertain as to what ished, howled, had his ears boxed, and would prove the order of the day; but then consented to set out on his daily when it came they came also, like good visit to the kind minister who was teachsoldiers, keeping their private opinions to ing him Latin a governess accompany: themselves, whatever they might be — or ing him to the gate of the manse, and at all events, not obtruding them upon watching him safely inside the door. Mas. their betters.
ter Tommy had not advanced far enough This small army, twenty or so in num. into the mysteries of the noble language ber, climbed the hill above them, and soon to become greatly enamored of it; and reached the place where the day's work never had the verb amo seemed more
The factor lit a match hollow to him, or more meaningless, than -the wind had it.out in a second, but on that fine March morning. On the
was to commence.
previous day- a half-holiday — he had, heartened at this as might have been for the first time, assisted at the annual supposed. Crushed into a shapeless niass ceremony of “muir-burn." A good-na. in one of his hot knickerbocker pockets tured keeper had got him a birchen switch was an emblem of great power
- a box of suitable to his age and dimensions, and matches, warranted to strike on anything. Tommy, most exceedingly to his edifica. He drew this treasure out, and with a tion, had spent three hours in thrashing shaking hand struck one, and lit a small away at any bit of fame he could reach. isolated tuft of heather. Then with a He got greatly in the way of everybody larger tuft, which he managed to pull up, Now and then he tumbled into a hag, and he beat out the flame almost before it had had to be pulled out. Two or three times well kindled. There was shelter in this he lost himself in the smoke, and an- loilow, though on the open moor the wind nounced his condition to all whom it might was blowing as freshly as ever, and he concern with wild and mournful howls, had no difficulty in accomplishing this. He was voted a nuisance by every one on So for a long time he amused himself the bill; but this did not lessen his enjoy- mightily, burning tiny patches here and ment in the least, and he was much put there ; and as the ground was damp and out when the last flames were exiin- the heather poor and thin, he easily put guished, and he was told the fun was over out his conflagrations. Tommy was for the day. Then he went home; and a sharp and clever boy, and he had sense more grimy, smoky urchin never entered enough to know that a big fame would be his father's house. His clothes were torn lhe means of bringing people down to see and his face black, and he carried with what was the matter and inquire as to the him into the drawing room an atmosphere kindler, - and he did not want to betray which caused him to be promptly ejected, himself and curtail his delightful amuse. a housemaid being sent in chase, with ment. But the spirit of mischief was orders to severely wash him. When the abroad on those moors that March after. process had been carried out not with-noon - · whether in the shape of old Kath. out much kicking - and the soap was erine Buchanan the witch, as some said well from his eyes, he informed her that afterwards, or merely as an impalpable burning heather was the grandest sport essence, as is most likely, matters little in which he had ever engaged, and that and this spirit led Tommy step by step for his part, when he became a man, he from the sale and thinly covered marshy intended to do little else. But the next hollow towards the skirt of a long planta. morning, as we have related, bis manæu- tion. This plantation had been in some vres to avoid lessons were detected and respects a failure. The ground was cold, checkmated, and strict orders were given and the larch and firs had made but small that he was to return to the house imme. progress, rather inclining to bush out in diately the minister let him go, and that width than exert themselves to stand up on no account was he to think of going on as forest trees. After the forester and the hill again. Tommy, without any in his men had several times “beat up" tention of keeping it, gave his word, as the wood, making good the gaps among being the easiest way of preventing a the plants, the owner got tired of their messenger being sent to conduct him want of success. The fences were “let" home at night. But he was so inatten- down, and sheep and cattle could get tive and so iroublesome to his tutor, that in if they wanted. But there was little that gentleman, after a long lecture on his there to tempt them: the long, rank bad behavior and evil ways, was glad to heather, and the still longer sour white let him go at four o'clock - -a full hour grass, would have been despised by any before his time. Tommy carefully recon- old blackface who stood on this side of noitred the road near the manse, to see starvation. This badly developed wood if any one was lying in wait to take him was about eight hundred yards long, and home, and then, climbing the dyke, set off lay broadside on to a vast extent of with a beating heart, as fast as his small moorland, terminated by older woods, and legs would let him, to the nearest billiop, the latter stretched away in stately pride from which he expected to be able to see for miles and miles. The heather on the signs of the whereabouts of the workmen. iar side of the young wood at which His sagacity was rewarded. He saw a Tommy had arrived was exceedingly long line of fire slowly burning up against dense and high. The authorities had the wind, but at a great distance: he could meditated planting this also, but the fail. not make out the figures of the men attend. ure in what had already been done made ing it. Tommy, however, was not so dis-them delay the work, and meanwhile it had not been burnt or interfered with, but | top of the brae the fire got help from the left that it might be a shelter to the wind roughly blowing where there was young trees, if ever they were put in: no shelter, and it then went roaring and young wood does not do well on burnt hissing through the plantation, driving ground.
out all its small tenants - the rabbits and If we have made the surroundings of hares — and proclaiming in a most un. this place clear to the reader, we have mistakable way to all within a wide radius shown that a mischievous boy possessed that it had started off at last to do its of that most dangerous commodity, a lit- work, and that it meant to do it thortle learning, and a box of matches to oughly. boot, could not well have been deposited So, about six o'clock, the men legitiin a locality where he could do more harm. mately burning, a mile and a half or so Tommy eyed the long, rank heather on away from the scene of Master Tommy's the tumbled-down bank of the plantation, little experiment, were thinking of their and a noble ambition shot into his mind. suppers, and impatiently watching the “I'll light it below," he thought, “and indefatigable grieve, who still kept run. then run up the bank and put it out before ning out his safety-lines and calling on it gets on. It'll burn splendidly!” This them to stand by him lest the boundaboy, after his late experiences, considered ries should be passed. Old Mungo himself capable of coping with a very MoNaughton had been sent a little way formidable confiagration. He had been back to bring on the basket which held timid in the hollow, where there was no the whisky and the glasses. Mungo need for fear, and now he was about to be pulled out the cork of one bottle and fearsuily rash where there was the great- tasted it, to see if any of the idle loons est cause for alarm. "Be not too bold.” had been playing a trick on honest men Tommy had never read Spenser, and by exchanging peat water for good liquor; would have appreciated him as much as and while he was slowly tilting the botthe Latin grammar. He struck one of tle's base up against the dying sun, be his last matches, applied it to an invit became aware of something which alarmed ing tussock of dry grass, and sprang up him so much that he swallowed more in the bank, armed with his little heatier one gulp than he could manage, and switch. He did not stay there long, how. nearly choked, and for a moment he could ever, neither had he occasion to use any not call out. By the time the whisky had more of the treasures in his box. In two found out its way some through his or three seconds Tommy jumped off this waistcoat, but the bulk down his shrive bank, dropped his switch, and ran off as elled old throat — the other men had seen fast as his legs would carry him; and the blaze, and he lost forever the credit the wish that predominated then in his and honor of having been the first to call small breast was that he had never been attention to it. “What's that, forester?" born.
-, what's that?” The fire ran quickly up the sloping wood's on fire !" Away with you; run, bank; then for a moment or two it men, run; get to it for God's sake, or seemed baffled, and a man with strong we'll never manage that!” The factor arms and a knowledge of using them, called the oldest and steadiest boy to could have got the mastery. But it slowly him: "Run for your life, lad, to the farm, worked its way across the thin herbage and aların everybody. Shout at all the on the turf dyke, and got inside the bothies, and send up every living soul to wood: a long, venomous, yellow flame the hill.” The lad set off like a young shot out ahead, and touched a tuft of deer, grieving to leave temporarily the grass; ready fuel lay on every side, and scene of so much excitement, and yet the plantation was fairly alight in a few proud of his task, and at being the first seconds. The fire spread out and took | bearer of ill news. Two active men were to itself ample ground. It ran furiously detailed to cut fresh beaters in a neighin a long red and yellow wall up the little boring wood, and then the factor set off brae where the trees first began, encour. after his rapidly lessening men
as hard aged and fanned by the motion in the air as he could stretch, with that peculiar its own blaze made, shrivelling up the sinking about the knees and thumping of stunted Scotch firs and spruce which had the heart which people feel when sud. so long striven to make their livelihood denly called on for exciting work which out of the inhospitable soil, and had now entails great physical labor. Wonderful to see and feel a moment's blaze and pain stories were told afterwards as to the time ruin the work of years. As it neared the taken by some active souls to cover that
. The young
mile and a half. Robert M'Corquodael | side to put out the flaming bits of grass claimed to have been the first at the fire ; which were now and then blown over into but as he was reported to have slunk away the heather. These latter had plenty of half an hour previously, hoping not to be work to do. The light bent new like missed, and bis house lay in the direction small comets from the plantation; and of the manse, he did not ultimately get as the herbage being very dry, it took many much credit for his nimbleness as he quickly repeated blows of the beaters to thought due. However, in no long time put out even a tiny flame, so rapidly did every one was up, different emotions agi- the fire run along the ground. "Swish” tating different bosoms, — some of the would come a huge besom, driven with a youngsters merely excited at the prospect will by a great, strong fellow into a flamof seing enormous damage caused; the ing tuft, and the blaze would seemingly older men understanding well the long go out; but even whilst he was raising and serious work which lay before them. his beater for another stroke, it would The grieve and keepers were horrified at start up again, defying him, and the the sight, and the head forester almost quickly applied strokes of two or three out of his mind at the prospect of such men might be wanted to keep it in check. ruin to his department.
The factor and soine of the men stood at The sight was an appalling one : the the end of the wood, inactive then, for fire was sweeping up the whole breadth the fire had not yet reached the boundary, of the plantation, and not all the inen in but bracing themselves up as it were for Scotland and all the fire-engines in Lon- work which they knew a few minutes don would have availed anything there. would bring them. And then one man The wind drove it furiously on; great there compared small things with great, fames shot out on all sides - twisted, and remembered the description which yellow, scorching flames – licking up Napier gives of how, in one of the great with thirsty tongues everything that came battles of the Peninsula, a lull came over in their way, shooting out with extraordi- the fight, and for a few moments after the nary rapidity twenty feet in advance, and explosion of a magazine the men of both seizing on everything they touched. armies stood idle on the bare Spanish Green or dry it made little difference, and hillside - idle for a moment, to get on the spreading spruce and silver firs, which with their work more fiercely after the would have burned but languidly on a short pause. bonfire, changed in a moment their sappy The sight of the great irregular wall of luxuriance for a shrivelled mass of brown advancing flame was a very grand one, desolation. No one there, however little and it seemed grander to an onlooker a used to such a sight, but knew that to little removed from the smoke and splutattempt to cope with the fire then was as ter and minor noises which it created. useless as to start to bail Loch Awe with Like Job's war-horse, it devoured the a stable-bucket. The god would work ground - all that stood upon the ground; his way in that wood at any rate, let who a man did not need a poetical imagination will say him nay. The men were as bold to compare it with an army. Like an and hardy and daring as Scotch hillmen army it had its advanced guards — the could be, but even they could do nothing long, lurching flames which pioneered the against the mass of red edging from way. The tufts of burning grass, which which flames shot out many feet, and fell thickly on the sides, might be likened fiercely licked round the forms of any to spies sent out to see the lie of the land. standing within measurable distance of And like an irresistible army it pressed their possessions. The grieve pluckily on, — the bravest troops on earth would tried it, darting in at a weak place and have to retreat before such a foe. giving one mighty stroke with his beater. When the men first came round to the The grieve went in, - a man clad in a head of the wood, they set to work to lay hairy and woolly suit of homespun, a good a snare for the enemy they could not curly beard and moustache adorning his fairly meet, and they began to burn a line cheerful face, — and he came out a singed some hundred yards ahead of the last and scorched creature, hardly recognized fence, so that he might exhaust his fury by his wife the next day, every hair on on bare ground. But the heather was so his knickerbockers and coat and stockings dense and rank and dry, and the breadth gone, and inost of those on his face sadly to be covered so great, that the factor curtailed.
stopped them. He was afraid of the new The factor put most of his men in front fire occupying their attention when they of the wood, a few being left on either ought to be grappling with the old.