Tales of the Argonauts
The Rose Of Tuolumne
It was nearly two o'clock in the morning. The lights were out in Robinson's Hall,
where there had been dancing and revelry; and the moon, riding high, painted
the black windows with silver. The cavalcade, that an hour ago had shocked the
sedate pines with song and laughter, were all dispersed. One enamoured swain
had ridden east, another west, another north, another south; and the object of
their adoration, left within her bower at Chemisal Ridge, was calmly going to bed.
I regret that I am not able to indicate the exact stage of that process. Two chairs
were already filled with delicate inwrappings and white confusion; and the young
lady herself, half-hidden in the silky threads of her yellow hair, had at one time
borne a faint resemblance to a partly-husked ear of Indian corn. But she was now
clothed in that one long, formless garment that makes all women equal; and the
round shoulders and neat waist, that an hour ago had been so fatal to the peace
of mind of Four Forks, had utterly disappeared. The face above it was very
pretty: the foot below, albeit shapely, was not small. "The flowers, as a general
thing, don't raise their heads MUCH to look after me," she had said with superb
frankness to one of her lovers.
The expression of the "Rose" to-night was contentedly placid. She walked slowly
to the window, and, making the smallest possible peephole through the curtain,
looked out. The motionless figure of a horseman still lingered on the road, with
an excess of devotion that only a coquette, or a woman very much in love, could
tolerate. The "Rose," at that moment, was neither, and, after a reasonable pause,
turned away, saying quite audibly that it was "too ridiculous for any thing." As she
came back to her dressing-table, it was noticeable that she walked steadily and
erect, without that slight affectation of lameness common to people with whom
bare feet are only an episode. Indeed, it was only four years ago, that without
shoes or stockings, a long-limbed, colty girl, in a waistless calico gown, she had
leaped from the tailboard of her father's emigrant-wagon when it first drew up at
Chemisal Ridge. Certain wild habits of the "Rose" had outlived transplanting and
A knock at the door surprised her. In another moment she had leaped into bed,
and with darkly-frowning eyes, from its secure recesses demanded "Who's
An apologetic murmur on the other side of the door was the response.
"Why, father!--is that you?"
There were further murmurs, affirmative, deprecatory, and persistent.