There was, too, a somewhat eccentric house where a man who was trying to be theosophical had lived and communed with his mystified soul. To foster the process he had more or less blue glass and a window of Gothic form in the peak of his rambling house. In his living-room a round window, with Sanskrit characters, let in a doubtful gleam from another room. In the side-hill a supposedly fireproof vault had been built to hold the manuscript that held his precious thoughts. In the gulch he had a sacred spot, where, under the majestic redwoods, he retired to write, and in a small building he had a small printing-press, from which the world was to have been led to the light. But there was some failure of connection, and stern necessity compelled the surrender of these high hopes. My friend took over the plant, and the reformer reformed and went off to earn his daily bread.
His memory is kept alive by the name Mahatma, given to the gulch, and the blue glass has what effect it may on a neighbor’s vegetables. The little house was made habitable. The home of the press was comfortably ceiled and made into a guest-chamber, and apples and potatoes are stored in the fireproof vault. The acres were fairly covered with a second growth of redwood and a wealth of madronos and other native trees; but there were many spaces where Nature invited assistance, and my friend every year has planted trees of many kinds from many climes, until he has an arboretum hardly equaled anywhere. There are pines in endless variety—from the Sierra and from the seashore, from New England, France, Norway, and Japan. There flourish the cedar, spruce, hemlock, oak, beech, birch, and maple. There in peace and plenty are the sequoia, the bamboo, and the deodar. Eucalypts pierce the sky and Japanese dwarfs hug the ground.
These children of the woodland vary in age from six months to sixteen years, and each has its interest and tells its story of struggle, with results of success or failure, as conditions determine. At the entrance to the grounds an incense-cedar on one side and an arbor-vitae on the other stand dignified guard. The acres have been added to until about sixty are covered with growing trees. Around the house, which wisteria has almost covered, is a garden in which roses predominate, but hollyhocks, coreopsis, and other flowers not demanding constant care grow in luxuriance. There is abundance of water, and filtered sunshine gives a delightful temperature. The thermometer on the vine-clad porch runs up to 80 in the daytime and in the night drops down to 40.
A sympathetic Italian lives not far away, keeping a good cow, raising amazingly good vegetables, gathering the apples and other fruit, and caring for the place. The house is unoccupied except during the five days each month when my friend restores himself, mentally and physically, by rest and quiet contemplation and observation. He takes with him a faithful servitor, whose old age is made happy by these periodical sojourns, and the simple life is enjoyed to the full.