Author: Peter B. Kyne
Release Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5735] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on August 18, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK the valley of the giants ***
Produced by Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
Author of Cappy Ricks, the long chance, Etc.
TO MY WIFE
In the summer of 1850 a topsail schooner slipped into the cove under Trinidad Head and dropped anchor at the edge of the kelp-fields. Fifteen minutes later her small-boat deposited on the beach a man armed with long squirrel-rifle and an axe, and carrying food and clothing in a brown canvas pack. From the beach he watched the boat return and saw the schooner weigh anchor and stand out to sea before the northwest trades. When she had disappeared from his ken, he swung his pack to his broad and powerful back and strode resolutely into the timber at the mouth of a little river.
The man was John Cardigan; in that lonely, hostile land he was the first pioneer. This is the tale of Cardigan and Cardigan’s son, for in his chosen land the pioneer leader in the gigantic task of hewing a path for civilization was to know the bliss of woman’s love and of parenthood, and the sorrow that comes of the loss of a perfect mate; he was to know the tremendous joy of accomplishment and worldly success after infinite labour; and in the sunset of life he was to know the dull despair of failure and ruin. Because of these things there is a tale to be told, the tale of Cardigan’s son, who, when his sire fell in the fray, took up the fight to save his heritage—a tale of life with its love and hate, its battle, victory, defeat, labour, joy, and sorrow, a tale of that unconquerable spirit of youth which spurred Bryce Cardigan to lead a forlorn hope for the sake not of wealth but of an ideal. Hark, then, to this tale of Cardigan’s redwoods:
Along the coast of California, through the secret valleys and over the tumbled foothills of the Coast Range, extends a belt of timber of an average width of thirty miles. In approaching it from the Oregon line the first tree looms suddenly against the horizon—an outpost, as it were, of the host of giants whose column stretches south nearly four hundred miles to where the last of the rear-guard maintains eternal sentry go on the crest of the mountains overlooking Monterey Bay. Far in the interior of the State, beyond the fertile San Joaquin Valley, the allies of this vast army hold a small sector on the west slope of the Sierras.