Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

My Queen, an electronic edition

by Sandette [Walsh, Marie A.]

date: 1878
source publisher: G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers; S. Low, Son & Co.
collection: Genre Fiction

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CHAPTER XLV.
OVER THE MOUNTAINS TO JIM TRACY.

NARROW trail coils serpent-like around the mountain, six thousand feet above the sea. How light, how pure is the air! The atmosphere seems to glow with the brightness of some radiant world, shining far beyond our sphere, and ever and anon flash out effulgent beams undreamed of in the world below; beams pulsing with divine inspiration. Here mountain towers over mountain, huge bowlders piled one upon another, with here and there a ridge of gleaming quartz, a block, iris-veined, the mystic sentinels of earth's hidden treasures, sphinxes whose riddles have destroyed thousands. Two hundred feet below, down a narrow precipitous canyon, flows a mountain streamed fringed with verdure. Beyond, to the North, stretches the great Salt Desert, mountain-ribbed. As far as the eye can see, it is desert and mountain, mountain and desert, an infinite solitude. And yet beyond lies the busy world, with its cities, its millions of restless beings. And this world is but a drop, an atom in the universe. | | 351 Aye, truly, the voices of the mountains are echoes from the infinite.

Along the trail rides a solitary horseman. It is the same one whom Elsie saw carry off that tiny package upon the delivery of which her hopes depended. The slow gait of the tired horse is unendurable to swift-winged thought. So let him plod along, while we speed onwards. As the trail ascends the mountains, they appear less rugged, the canyon grows narrower and less deep, until at last it disappears, and the mountain stream ripples over the rocks only a few feet below the trail. Suddenly voices and laughter break upon the ear. Turning a point, we come upon a tent sheltered by an abutting rock. At a few yards' distance is a habitation built of rough stone roofed with canvas. Higher in the mountain is a rude blacksmith's forge, by its side yawns a cavernous opening. It is a mine in its first stage of development; and the primitive habitations form a mining camp.

Half a dozen miners are assembled in the tent. They are not begrimmed, dissatisfied, hopeless beings, toiling in the bowels of the earth for a miserable pittance; but sanguine, self-important men, working their own property, or prospecting for a rich strike; already millionaires in imagination. In the rough stone habitation Jim Tracy sits alone. He was never very social; few had ever seen him smile. He was a man with a history. His companions felt this, and respected his taciturnity; but if not social he was kind and generous, and his many good deeds had won more than respect. Fortune had favored him. Not only had he "struck it rich," but he had sold his strike at a good figure, a lucky event of rare occur- | | 352 rence. Solitary people are apt to talk to themselves. Jim Tracy had this habit. Alone in his cabin he mutters aloud. "For this, then, I have lived--to get rich--to save my Elsie from misery--for this I have borne a charmed life. Yes, a charmed life. Great Heavens--all killed, all, men, women and children--and I by the simplest chance absent. What an escape! Then cut down by the fierce Indian. Left for dead. Aye, that was a fearful gash. It spoiled my looks. I hope Elsie won't mind it. No, she will be too happy. I was saved--yes saved! A miracle indeed! Then hunger, riot, dissipation. But death"--His soliloquy was interrupted.

"Jim Tracy, here's a package for you. It is a very small one; but I was told that it was of great importance."

"Thank you, friend, it, is indeed of importance."

Jim Tracy took the packet, and hastily returned to his cabin. There he tore open the paper. At the sight of the ring his brow grew dark,--when he read Elsie's appeal, it grew darker. Then he drew from its hiding-place his old companion, the beautiful weapon we saw once before. "Your day has come; no relenting now." He placed it in its old-resting-place, where his heart could feel it, and prepared for departure.

A few minutes later, the miners were surprised to see Jim Tracy standing before them equipped for a journey. "Friends," he said, "business calls me away for a few days. Good bye till then." He was gone before they could return his good bye. "Jim Tracy is a queer one, there's no mistake," was the general comment of the men as they returned to their interrupted game.

| | 353

Along the trail hastened the lonely man, a deadly purpose in his mind, a deadly weapon next his heart. Quietly the elder reposed in his comfortable bed, undisturbed by phantom or fear. His enemies were brought low, and, in his triumph, he cried, "They will trouble me no more." Foolish is the triumph of the wicked. While he boasted in his security, swiftly towards him sped Nemesis.

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