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stopped just as we met them, and which would be only intensified as they proceeded over the broad desert area between here and the Humboldt. I felt thirsty myself, and got out of our wagon to drink at the well where the herdsmen were supplying their need. The water was a warm, nauseous solution of minerals, which betrayed the existence of sulphur in the soil as well as the near neighborhood of the lake. I drank as much of it as I could, hoping that it would moisten my throat sufficiently to last till I could get a draught from the city conduits; but its effect was only to sicken even my far from fastidious stomach, and increase my thirst to such a miserable degree that Townsend's was doubly welcome when we arrived shortly after sundown. The effect of the snow lying in the lofty valleys between the mountain-tops of the Wahsatch and the pure red lustre of the Wahsatch itself, in the twilight reflections from the brilliant heaven over the Oquirrh, behind which the sun had just gone down, was a sight of such magical beauty as no pen or brush can hope to paint, no heart which it has filled with ecstasy can ever forget. Nine thousand feet above the Jordan, twelve thousand above the sea, inaccessible in many places to any climbing, and accessible nowhere short of forty or fifty miles' difficult, devious, and dangerous climb, those spotless abysses of pearl and rose-tinted opal, of marble and clear onyx, contrasted with vast masses of bare mountain that were all one auroral blush, looked to our enamored eyes like part of the heaven itself—the very gates and foundations of the city of God.
It is as hard to leave San Francisco as to get there. To a traveller paying his first visit it has the interest of a new planet. It ignores the meteorological laws which govern the rest of the world. There is no snow there. There are no summer showers. The tailor recognizes no aphelion or perihelion in his custom: the thin woolen suit which his patron had made in April is comfortably worn until April again. The only change of stockings there is from wet to dry, or from soiled to clean. Save that in so-called winter frequent rainfalls alternate with spotless intervals of amber weather, and that soi-disant summer is one entire amber mass, its unbroken divine days concrete in it, there is no inequality on which to forbid the bans between May and December. In San Francisco there is no work for the scene-shifter of Nature: the wealth of that great dramatist, the year, resulting in the same manner as the poverty of dabblers in private theatricals, — a single flat doing service for the entire play. Thus, save for the purpose of notes of hand, the almanac of San Francisco might replace its mutable months and seasons with one great kindly, constant, sumptuous All the Year Round. Out of this benignant sameness what glorious fruits are produced Fruit enough metaphorical: for the scientific man or artist who cannot make hay while such a sun shines from April to November must be a slothful laborer indeed. But fruit also literal : for what joy of vegetation is lacking to the man who every month in the year can look through his studywindow on a green lawn, and have strawberries and cream for his breakfast, — who can sit down to this royal fruit, and at the same time to apricots, peaches, nectarines, blackberries, raspberries, melons, figs both yellow and purple, early apples, and grapes of three kinds 2 Another delightful fact of San Francisco is the Occidental Hotel. Its comfort is like that of a royal home. There is nothing inn-ish about it. Remembering the chief hotels of many places, I am constrained to say that I have never, even in New York, seen its equal for elegance of appointment, attentiveness of servants, or excellence of cuisine. Having come to this extreme of civilization from the extreme of barbarism, we found that it actually needed an exertion to leap from the lap of luxury, after a fortnight's pleasaunce, and take to the woods again in flannel and corduroys. But far more seductive than the beautiful bay, the heavenly climate, the paradisaical fruits, and the royal hotel of San Francisco, were the old friends whom we found, and the new ones we made there. With but one exception (and that an express-company, not a man), we were received by all our San Francisco acquaintance in a kind and helpful manner, with a welcome and a cheer as delightful to ourselves as it was honorable to them. Need I say whose brotherly hands were among the very first outstretched to us, in whose happy home we found our sweetest rest, by whose radiant face and golden speech we were most lovingly detained evening after evening and far into the night? A few days after our return to the East, when we read that dreadful message, “Starr King is dead,” the lightning that carried it seemed to end in our hearts. We withered under it; California had lost its soul for us; at noon or in dreams that balmy land would nevermore be the paradise it once was to us. The last hand that pressed our own, when we sailed for the Isthmus on our way home, was the same that had been first to give us our California welcome. Just before the lines were cast off, Starr King stood at the door of our state-room, and said,
“I could not bear to have you go away without one more good-by. Here are the cartes-de-visite I promised. They look hard-worked, but they look like me. Good-by! God bless you ! I hope to make a visit to the East next summer, and then we will get together somewhere by the sea. Good-by!”
He went down the ladder. When the steamer glided off his bright face sent benedictions after us as far as we could see; and then, for the last time on earth, that great, that good, that beloved man faded from our sight, — but, O! never from our hearts, either in the here or the hereafter. “We shall see him, but not now.” We shall be together with him “in the summer by the sea; ” but that summer shall have other glory than the sun to lighten it, and the sea shall be of crystal.
King was to have joined us in our Yo-Semite trip. We little knew that we were losing, for this world, our last opportunity of close daily intercourse with his sweet spirit, though we were grievously disappointed when he told us, on the eve of our setting out, that work for the nation must detain him in San Francisco, after all.
If report was true, we were going to the original site of the Garden of Eden, – into a region which out-Bendemered Bendemere, out-valleyed the valley of Rasselas, surpassed the Alps in its waterfalls, and the Himmal'yeh in its precipices. As for the two former subjects of comparison, we never met any tourist who could adjust the question from his own experience; but the superiority of the Yo-Semite to the Alpine cataracts was a matter put beyond doubt by repeated judgments; and a couple of English officers who had explored the wildest Himmal'yeh scenery told Starr King that there was no precipice in Asia to be compared for height or grandeur with Tutoch-anula and Tis-sa-ack.
We were going into the vale whose giant domes and battlements had months before thrown their photographic shadow through Watkins's camera across the mysterious wide Continent, causing exclamations of awe at Goupil's window, and ecstasy in Dr. Holmes's study. At Goupil's counter and in Starr King's drawing-room we had gazed on them by the hour already, - I, let me confess it, half a Thomas-a Didymus to Nature, unwilling to believe the utmost true of her till I could put my finger in her very prints. Now we were going to test her reported largess for ourselves.
No Saratoga affair, this! A total lack of tall trunks, frills, and curling-kids. Driven by the oestrum of a Yo-Semite pilgrimage, the San Francisco belle forsakes (the Western vernacular is “goes back on ”) her back hair, abandons her capillary “waterfalls” for those of the Sierra, and, like John Phoenix's old lady, who had her whole osseous system removed by the patent tooth-puller, departs, leaving her “skele