The 30,000 Dollar Bequest and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about The 30,000 Dollar Bequest and Other Stories.
little cottage homes, snug and cozy, and so cobwebbed with vines snowed thick with roses that the doors and windows were wholly hidden from sight—­sign that these were deserted homes, forsaken years ago by defeated and disappointed families who could neither sell them nor give them away.  Now and then, half an hour apart, one came across solitary log cabins of the earliest mining days, built by the first gold-miners, the predecessors of the cottage-builders.  In some few cases these cabins were still occupied; and when this was so, you could depend upon it that the occupant was the very pioneer who had built the cabin; and you could depend on another thing, too—­that he was there because he had once had his opportunity to go home to the States rich, and had not done it; had rather lost his wealth, and had then in his humiliation resolved to sever all communication with his home relatives and friends, and be to them thenceforth as one dead.  Round about California in that day were scattered a host of these living dead men —­pride-smitten poor fellows, grizzled and old at forty, whose secret thoughts were made all of regrets and longings—­regrets for their wasted lives, and longings to be out of the struggle and done with it all.

It was a lonesome land!  Not a sound in all those peaceful expanses of grass and woods but the drowsy hum of insects; no glimpse of man or beast; nothing to keep up your spirits and make you glad to be alive.  And so, at last, in the early part of the afternoon, when I caught sight of a human creature, I felt a most grateful uplift.  This person was a man about forty-five years old, and he was standing at the gate of one of those cozy little rose-clad cottages of the sort already referred to.  However, this one hadn’t a deserted look; it had the look of being lived in and petted and cared for and looked after; and so had its front yard, which was a garden of flowers, abundant, gay, and flourishing.  I was invited in, of course, and required to make myself at home —­it was the custom of the country.

It was delightful to be in such a place, after long weeks of daily and nightly familiarity with miners’ cabins—­with all which this implies of dirt floor, never-made beds, tin plates and cups, bacon and beans and black coffee, and nothing of ornament but war pictures from the Eastern illustrated papers tacked to the log walls.  That was all hard, cheerless, materialistic desolation, but here was a nest which had aspects to rest the tired eye and refresh that something in one’s nature which, after long fasting, recognizes, when confronted by the belongings of art, howsoever cheap and modest they may be, that it has unconsciously been famishing and now has found nourishment.  I could not have believed that a rag carpet could feast me so, and so content me; or that there could be such solace to the soul in wall-paper and framed lithographs, and bright-colored tidies and lamp-mats, and Windsor chairs, and varnished what-nots, with sea-shells and books and china vases on them, and the score of little unclassifiable tricks and touches that a woman’s hand distributes about a home, which one sees without knowing he sees them, yet would miss in a moment if they were taken away.  The delight that was in my heart showed in my face, and the man saw it and was pleased; saw it so plainly that he answered it as if it had been spoken.

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The 30,000 Dollar Bequest and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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