(SIERRAS, 1876)

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

First Tourist
Second Tourist
Yuba Bill, Driver
A Stranger

FIRST TOURIST

Look how the upland plunges into cover,
Green where the pines fade sullenly away.
Wonderful those olive depths! and wonderful, moreover--

SECOND TOURIST

The red dust that rises in a suffocating way.

FIRST TOURIST

Small is the soul that cannot soar above it,
Cannot but cling to its ever-kindred clay:
Better be yon bird, that seems to breathe and love it--

SECOND TOURIST

Doubtless a hawk or some other bird of prey.
Were we, like him, as sure of a dinner
That on our stomachs would comfortably stay;
Or were the fried ham a shade or two just thinner,
That must confront us at closing of the day:
Then might you sing like Theocritus or Virgil,
Then might we each make a metrical essay;
But verse just now--I must protest and urge--ill
Fits a digestion by travel led astray.

CHORUS OF PASSENGERS

Speed, Yuba Bill! oh, speed us to our dinner!
Speed to the sunset that beckons far away.

SECOND TOURIST

William of Yuba, O Son of Nimshi, hearken!
Check thy profanity, but not thy chariot's play.
Tell us, O William, before the shadows darken,
Where, and, oh! how we shall dine? O William, say!

YUBA BILL

It ain't my fault, nor the Kumpeney's, I reckon,
Ye can't get ez square meal ez any on the Bay,
Up at you place, whar the senset 'pears to beckon--
Ez thet sharp allows in his airy sort o' way.
Thar woz a place wor yer hash ye might hev wrestled,
Kept by a woman ez chipper ez a jay--
Warm in her breast all the morning sunshine nestled;
Red on her cheeks all the evening's sunshine lay.

SECOND TOURIST

Praise is but breath, O chariot compeller!
Yet of that hash we would bid you farther say.

YUBA BILL

Thar woz a snipe--like you, a fancy tourist--
Kem to that ranch ez if to make a stay,
Ran off the gal, and ruined jist the purist
Critter that lived--

STRANGER (quietly)

You're a liar, driver!

YUBA BILL (reaching for his revolver).

Eh!
Here take my lines, somebody--

CHORUS OF PASSENGERS

Hush, boys! listen!
Inside there's a lady! Remember! No affray!

YUBA BILL

Ef that man lives, the fault ain't mine or his'n.

STRANGER

Wait for the sunset that beckons far away,
Then--as you will! But, meantime, friends, believe me,
Nowhere on earth lives a purer woman; nay,
If my perceptions do surely not deceive me,
She is the lady we have inside to-day.
As for the man--you see that blackened pine tree,
Up which the green vine creeps heavenward away!
He was that scarred trunk, and she the vine that sweetly
Clothed him with life again, and lifted--

SECOND TOURIST

Yes; but pray
How know you this?

STRANGER

She's my wife.

YUBA BILL

The h-ll you say!


About Francis Bret Harte


Francis Bret Harte was an American author and poet, best remembered for his accounts of pioneering life in California. He was born in Albany, New York, as Francis Brett Hart. He was named after his great-grandfather Francis Brett, and his family name was Hart. When he was young his father changed the spelling of the family name from Hart to Harte. Later, Francis preferred to be known by his middle name, but he spelled it with only one "t", becoming Bret Harte. He moved to California in 1853, later working there in a number of capacities, including miner, teacher, messenger,... Read more...

Poet of the day

Ethel Turner was an Australian novelist and children's writer.

Biography

Ethel Turner was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England on 24th January, 1872. She migrated to Australia with her widowed mother, older sister Lilian and step sister, Jeannie in 1880.

Educated at Sydney Girls’ High School, she and Lilian wrote stories...
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Poem of the day


Dugdraaben blinker paa Rosengreen;
Den tindrer, den zittrer af Glæde:
I mindste Dugperle, klar og reen,
Er Verdenssolen tilstede.

Sjæle er Draaber paa Livets Green;
De tindre, de zittre af Glæde:
I Sjælens Dugperle, klar og reen,
Er Verdensaanden tilstede.

Dugdraaben blinker et Øjeblik; Read more...