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his cheeks and the flash of his eyes, and even his quick heavy tread, showed plainly that his mind was a little out of balance. He deserved it, however, and I could not grieve.
"You have my best wishes," I replied demurely, "for any state of life to which you may be called. You could scarcely expect any less of me than that."
"How kind you are! But do you really wish that I should marry old Sylvester's girl?"
Firm, as he asked this question, looked so bitterly reproachful (as if he were saying, "Do you wish to see me hanged?") while his eyes took a form which reminded me so of the Sawyer in a furious puzzle, that it was impossible for me to answer as lightly as I meant to do.
"No, I cannot say, Firm, that I wish it at all; unless your heart is set on it
"Don't you know then where my heart is set?" he asked me in a deep voice, coming nearer, and taking the ballad-book from my hands. "Why will you feign not to know, Erema, who is the only one I can ever think of twice? Above me, I know, in every possible way—birth, and education, and mind, and appearance, and now far above me in money as well. But what are all these things? Try to think, if only you could like me. Liking gets over everything; and without it, nothing is anything. Why do I like you so, Erema? Is it because of your birth, and teaching, and manners, and sweet looks, and all that; or even because of your troubles?"
"How can I tell, Firm, how can I tell? Perhaps it is just because of myself. And why do you do it at all, Firm?"
"Ah, why do I do it? How I wish I knew; perhaps then I might cure it. To begin with, what is there, after all, so very wonderful about you?"
"Oh nothing, I should hope. Most surely nothing. It would grieve me to be at all wonderful. That I leave for American ladies."
"Now you don't understand me. I mean of course that you are wonderfully good and kind, and clever; and your eyes, I am sure, and your lips, and smile, and all your other features-there is nothing about them that can be called anything else but wonderful."
"Now, Firm, how exceedingly foolish you are! I did hope that you knew better."
"Erema, I never shall know better. I never can swerve or change, if I live to be a hundred-and-fifty. You think me presumptuous, no doubt, from what you are brought up to. And you are so young, that to seek to bind you, even if you loved me, would be an unmanly thing. But now you are old enough, and you know your own mind surely well enough, just to say, whether you feel as if you could ever love me as I love you."
He turned away, as if he felt that he had no right to press me so, and blamed himself for selfishness; and I liked him better for doing
that, than for anything he had done before. Yet I knew that I ought to speak clearly, and though my voice was full of tears, I tried.
"Dear Firm," I said, as I took his hand, and strove to look at him steadily, "I like and admire you very much; and by and by-by and by, I might—that is, if you did not hurry me. Of all the obstacles you have mentioned, none is worth considering. I am nothing but a poor castaway, owing my life to Uncle Sam and you. But one thing there is which could never be got over, even if I felt as you feel towards me. Never can I think of little matters, or of turning my thoughts to-to any such things as you speak of, as long as a vile reproach and wicked imputation lies on me. And before even that, I have to think of my father, who gave his life for me. delaying, and wasting my time in trifles. Europe long ago. If I am old enough for what you talk of, I am old enough to do my duty. If I am old enough for love, as it is called, I am old enough for hate. I have more to do with hate than love, I think." "Erema," cried Firm, "what a puzzle you are! I never even dreamed that you could be so fierce. You are enough to frighten Uncle Sam himself."
Firm, I have been here too long
"If I frighten you, Firm, that is quite enough. You see now how vain it is to say another word.”
"I do not see anything of the sort. Come back; and look at me quite calmly."
Being frightened at the way in which I had spoken, and having passed the prime of it, I obeyed him in a moment, and came up gently, and let him look at me, to his liking. For little as I thought of such things till now, I seemed already to know more about them, or at least to wonder-which is the stir of the curtain of knowledge. I did not say anything, but laboured to think nothing, and to look up with unconscious eyes. But Firm put me out altogether by his warmth, and made me flutter like a stupid little bird.
"My darling," he said, smoothing back my hair, with a kindness such as I could not resent, and quieting me with his clear blue eyes, "you are not fit for the stormy life to which your high spirit is devoting you. You have not the hardness and bitterness of mind, the cold selfpossession and contempt of others, the power of dissembling and the iron will-in a word, the fundamental nastiness, without which you never could get through such a job. Why, you cannot be contemptuous even to me!" "I should hope not. I should earn your contempt, if I could." "There, you are ready to cry at the thought. Erema, do not mistake yourself. Remember that your father would never have wished it— would have given his life ten thousand times over, to prevent it. Why did he bring you to this remote, inaccessible part of the world, except to save you from further thought of evil? He knew that we listen to no rumours here, no social scandals, or malignant lies; but we value people as we find them. He meant this to be a haven for you; and so it shall
be, if you will only rest; and you shall be the queen of it. Instead of redressing his memory now, you would only distress his spirit. What does he care for the world's gossip now? But he does care for your happiness. I am not old enough to tell you things, as I should like to tell them. I wish I could-how I wish I could! It would make all the difference to me."
"It would make no difference, Firm, to me; because I should know it was selfishness. Not selfishness of yours, I mean, for you never could be selfish-but the vilest selfishness of mine, the same as starved my father. Yon cannot see things as I see them, or else you would not talk So. When you know that a thing is right, you do it. Can you tell me otherwise? If you did, I should despise you."
"If you put it so, I can say no more. You will leave us for ever, Erema?"
"No, not for ever. If the good God wills it, I will come back, when my work is done. Forgive me, dear Firm, and forget me."
"There is nothing to forgive, Erema. But a great deal I never can hope to forget."
OUT OF THE GOLDEN GATE.
LITTLE things, or what we call little, always will come in among great ones, or at least among those which we call great. Before I passed the Golden Gate, in the clipper ship Bridal Veil (so called from one of the Yosemite cascades) I found out what I had long wished to know, why Firm had a crooked nose. At least, it could hardly be called crooked, if anybody looked right at it. But still it departed from the bold straight line, which nature must have meant for it, everything else about him being as right as could be required. This subject had troubled me more than once; though, of course, it had nothing whatever to do with the point of view whence I regarded him. Suan Isco could not tell me, neither could Martin of the mill; I certainly could not ask Firm himself, as the Sawyer told me to do, when once I put the question, in despair, to him. But now, as we stood on the wharf, exchanging farewells perhaps for ever, and tears of anguish were in my eyes, and my heart was both full and empty, ample and unexpected light was thrown on the curvature of Firm's nose.
For a beautiful girl, of about my own age and very nicely dressed, came up, and spoke to the Sawyer (who stood at my side), and then with a blush took his grandson's hand. Firm took off his hat to her very politely, but allowed her to see perhaps by his manner that he was particularly engaged just now; and the young lady, with a quick glance at me, walked off to rejoin her party. But a garrulous old negro servant, who seemed to be in attendance upon her, ran up and caught Firm by his coat, and peered up curiously at his face.
"How young Massa's poor nose dis long time? How him feel, spose now again?"-he inquired with a deferential grin. "Young Massa ebber able take a pinch of good snuff? He, he, Missy berry heavy den. Missy no learn to dance de nose polka den?"
"What on earth does he mean?" I could not help asking, in spite of our sorrowful farewell, as the negro went on with sundry other jokes and cackles at his own facetiousness. And then Uncle Sam, to divert my thoughts, while I waited for signal to say good-bye, told me how Firm got a slight twist to his nose.
Ephraim Gundry had been well taught, in all the common things a man should learn, at a good quiet school at "Frisco," which distinguished itself from all other schools by not calling itself a college. And when he was leaving, to begin home-life, with as much put into him as he could manage for his nature was not bookish-when he was just seventeen years old, and tall, and straight, and upright, but not set into great bodily strength, which could not yet be expected, a terrible fire broke out in a great block of houses newly occupied, over against the school-house front. Without waiting for master's leave or matron's, the boys in the Californian style jumped over the fencing and went to help. And they found a great crowd collected, and flames flaring out of the top of the house. At the top of the house, according to a stupid and therefore general practice, was the nursery, made of more nurses than children, as often happens with rich people. The nurses had run away for their lives, taking two of the children with them ; but the third, a fine little girl of ten, had been left behind, and now ran to the window, with red hot flames behind her. The window was open, and barbs of fire, like serpent's tongues, played over it.
"Jump, child, jump, for God's sake, jump!" cried half a hundred people, while the poor scared creature quivered on the ledge, and shrank from the frightful depth below. At last, stung by a scorching volley, she gathered her nightgown tight, and leaped, trusting to the many faces and the many arms raised towards her. But though many gallant men were there, only one stood fast just where she fell, and that one was the youth, Firm Gundry. Upon him she fell, like a stone from heaven, and though he held up his arms, in the smoky glare, she came down badly. Badly at least for him, but as her father said, providentially. For one of her soles, or heels, alighted on the bridge of Ephraim's young He caught her on his chest, and forgetful of himself, he bore her to her friends triumphantly, unharmed, and almost smiling. But the symmetry of an important part of his face was spoiled for ever.
When I heard of this noble affair, and thought of my own pusillanimous rendering-for verily I had been low enough, from rumours of Firm's pugnacity, to attribute these little defects of line to some fisticuffs with some miner-I looked at Firm's nose, through the tears in my eyes, and had a great mind not to go away at all. For what is the noblest of all things in man?-as I bitterly learned thereafter, and already
had some guesses-not the power of moving multitudes, with eloquence or by orders, not the elevation of one tribe through the lowering of others, nor even the imaginary lift of all, by sentiments as yet above them; there may be glory in all of these, but the greatness is not with them. It remains with those who behave like Firm, and get their noses broken.
However, I did not know those things, at that time of life, though I thought it right for every man to be brave and good; and I could not help asking who the young lady was, as if that were part of the heroism. The Sawyer, who never was unready for a joke, of however ancient quality, gave a great wink at Firm (which I failed to understand), and asked him how much the young lady was worth. He expected that Firm would say, "Five hundred thousand dollars"-which was about her value, I believe-and Uncle Sam wanted me to hear it; not that he cared a single cent himself, but to let me know what Firm could do.
Firm, however, was not to be led into any trap of that sort. He knew me better than the old man did, and that nothing would stir me to jealousy; and he quite disappointed the Sawyer.
"I have never asked what she is worth," he said, with a glance of contempt at money; "but she scarcely seems worth looking at, compared-compared with certain others."
In the distance I saw the young lady again, attempting no attraction, but walking along quite harmlessly, with the talkative negro after her. It would have been below me to pursue the subject, and I waited for others to reopen it; but I heard no more about her until I had been for more than a week at sea, and was able again to feel interest. Then I heard that her name was Annie Banks, of the firm of Heniker, Banks, & Co., who owned the ship I sailed in.
But now it was nothing to me who she was, or how beautiful, or how wealthy, when I clung for the last time to Uncle Sam, and implored him not to forget me. Over and over again he promised to be full of thoughts of me; even when the new mill was started, which would be a most trying time. He bowed his tall white bead into my shevelled hair, and blessed and kissed me, although I never deserved it, and a number of people were looking on. Then I laid my hand in Firm's; and he did not lift it to his lips, or sigh, but pressed it long and softly, and looked into my eyes without a word. And I knew that there would be none to love like them, wherever I might go.
But the last of all to say "Good-by" was my beloved Jowler. He jumped into the boat after me (for we were obliged to have a boat, the ship having laden further down), and he put his forepaws on my shoulders, and whined, and drooped his under-jaw. And when he looked at me, as he used, to know whether I was in fun or earnest, with more expression in his bright brown eyes than any human being has, I fell back under his weight and sobbed, and could not look at any one.
We had beautiful weather and the view was glorious, as we passed