“Come with me, McTavish,” he said to his woods-boss. They passed through a narrow gap between two low hills and emerged in a long narrow valley where the redwood grew thickly and where the smallest tree was not less than fifteen feet in diameter and two hundred and fifty feet tall. McTavish followed at the master’s heels as they penetrated this grove, making their way with difficulty through the underbrush until they came at length to a little amphitheatre, a clearing perhaps a hundred feet in diameter, oval-shaped and surrounded by a wall of redwoods of such dimensions that even McTavish, who was no stranger to these natural marvels, was struck with wonder. The ground in this little amphitheatre was covered to a depth of a foot with brown, withered little redwood twigs to which the dead leaves still clung, while up through this aromatic covering delicate maidenhair ferns and oxalis had thrust themselves. Between the huge brown boles of the redwoods woodwardia grew riotously, while through the great branches of these sentinels of the ages the sunlight filtered. Against the prevailing twilight of the surrounding forest it descended like a halo, and where it struck the ground John Cardigan paused.
“McTavish,” he said, “she died this morning.”
“I’m sore distressed for you, sir,” the woods-boss answered. “We’d a whisper in the camp yesterday that the lass was like to be in a bad way.”
Cardigan scuffed with his foot a clear space in the brown litter. “Take two men from the section-gang, McTavish,” he ordered, “and have them dig her grave here; then swamp a trail through the underbrush and out to the donkey-landing, so we can carry her in. The funeral will be private.”
McTavish nodded. “Any further orders, sir?”
“Yes. When you come to that little gap in the hills, cease your logging and bear off yonder.” He waved his hand. “I’m not going to cut the timber in this valley. You see, McTavish, what it is. The trees here—ah, man, I haven’t the heart to destroy God’s most wonderful handiwork. Besides, she loved this spot, McTavish, and she called the valley her Valley of the Giants. I—I gave it to her for a wedding present because she had a bit of a dream that some day the town I started would grow up to yonder gap, and when that time came and we could afford it, ’twas in her mind to give her Valley of the Giants to Sequoia for a city park, all hidden away here and unsuspected.