[The real name of the author of this romance was Maria Teresa Longworth. The name and title on the titlepage she gave herself when leaving England to come to America. "Kenmuir" is her name for John Muir, who had been living at Yosemite since 1869.]
. . . I thought if I could secure a horse and guide, I would wander forth in search of that marvelous Valley of Yo-semite, so recently discovered by white men, and already exciting so much interest in the world at large, as well as in scientific circles.
|[Approaching Valley, she sees a figure on mountain,
whom her guide, Horse-shoe Bill, calls "that darned idiot
. . . the singular figure was seen swaying to and fro with extended arms as if moved by the wind, the head thrown back as in swimming, and the long brown hair falling wildly about his face and neck.
The point on which he stood was a smooth jutting rock only a few inches in width, and a stone thrown over it would fall vertically into the valley five thousand feet below. My heart beat fast with horrible dread as my guide coolly explained this fact to me. I hardly dared to fix my eyes upon the figure lest I should see it disappear, or remove them, lest it should be gone when I looked again. In my desperation, I exerted that power of will which is said to convey itself through space without material aid. I strove to communicate with him by intangible force. The charm seemed to work well. He turned quickly towards me, and, with a spring like an antelope, was presently on terra firma and approaching us.
"There, you'll have plenty on him now," said Horse-shoe Bill. "He loafs about this here valley gatherin' stocks and stones, as I may say, to be Scriptural, and praisin' the Lord for makin' of him sech a born fool. Well some folks is easy satisfied."
As the lithe figure approached, skipping over the rough boulders, poising with the balance of an athlete, or skirting a shelf of rock with the cautious activity of a goat, never losing for a moment the rhythmic motion of his flexile form, I began to think that his attitude on the overhanging rock might not, after all, have been so chimerical; and my resolves, as to how I should treat this phase of insanity, began to waver very sensibly, and I fell back on that mental rear-guard,--good intentions; but when he stood before me with a pleasant "Good day, madam," my perplexity increased ten-fold, for his bright intelligent face revealed no trace of insanity, and his open blue eyes of honest questioning, and glorious auburn hair might have stood as a portrait of the angel Raphael. His figure was about five feet nine, well knit, and bespoke that active grace which only trained muscles can assume.
The guide increased my confusion by exclaiming, "Hallo, Kenmuir! the lady wants to speak to you."
I wished the guide at Jericho for giving me such false notions. Why he had induced me to believe this man a raving maniac, only to compel me, like old Dogberry, to write myself down an ass. I could have as soon reproached one of the clouds gyrating round the crest of the mountain with running into danger.
"Can I do anything for you?" asked Kenmuir gently.
"She wants to know what you were doing out on that bloody knob overhanging etarnity?"
"Praising God," solemnly replied Kenmuir.
"Thought that would start him," interrupted the guide.
"Praising God, madam, for his mighty works, his glorious earth, and the sublimity of these fleecy clouds, the majesty of that great roaring torrent," pointing to the Nevada, "that leaps from rock to rock in exultant joy, and laves them, and kisses them with caresses of downiest foam. O, no mother ever pressed her child in tenderer embrace, or sung to it in more harmonious melody; and my soul joins in with all this shout of triumphant gladness, this burst of glorious life; this eternity of truth and beauty and joy; rejoices in the gorgeous canopy above us, in the exquisite carpet with which the valley is spread of living, palpitating, breathing splendor. Harken to the hymn of praise which resounds upwards from every tiny sedge, every petal and calyx of myriads and myriads of flowers, all perfect, all replete with the divine impress of Omnipotent power. Shall man alone be silent and callous? Come, madam, let me lead you to Pal-li-li-ma, the point I have just left, where you can have a more complete view of this miracle of nature, for I am sure you also can worship in this temple of our Lord."