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Chapter IX
The old-fashioned Union Street cable car, with its low, comfortable outside seats, put
Blix and Condy down just inside the Presidio Government Reservation. Condy asked a
direction of a sentry nursing his Krag-Jorgensen at the terminus of the track, and then
with Blix set off down the long board walk through the tunnel of overhanging
The day could not have been more desirable. It was a little after ten of a Monday
morning, Condy's weekly holiday. The air was neither cool nor warm, effervescent
merely, brisk and full of the smell of grass and of the sea. The sky was a speckless
sheen of pale blue. To their right, and not far off, was the bay, blue as indigo. Alcatraz
seemed close at hand; beyond was the enormous green, red, and purple pyramid of
Tamalpais climbing out of the water, head and shoulders above the little foothills, and
looking out to the sea and to the west.
The Reservation itself was delightful. There were rows of the officers' houses, all alike,
drawn up in lines like an assembly of the staff; there were huge barracks, most like
college dormitories; and on their porches enlisted men in shirt sleeves and overalls
were cleaning saddles, and polishing the brass of head-stalls and bridles, whistling the
while or smoking corn-cob pipes. Here on the parade-ground a soldier, his coat and
vest removed, was batting grounders and flies to a half-dozen of his fellows. Over by
the stables, strings of horses, all of the same color, were being curried and cleaned. A
young lieutenant upon a bicycle spun silently past. An officer came from his front gate,
his coat unbuttoned and a briar in his teeth. The walks and roads were flanked with
lines of black-painted cannon-balls; inverted pieces of abandoned ordnance stood at
corners. From a distance came the mellow snarling of a bugle.
Blix and Condy had planned a long walk for that day. They were to go out through the
Presidio Reservation, past the barracks and officers' quarters, and on to the old fort at
the Golden Gate. Here they would turn and follow the shore-line for a way, then strike
inland across the hills for a short half-mile, and regain the city and the street-car lines by
way of the golf-links. Condy had insisted upon wearing his bicycle outfit for the
occasion, and, moreover, carried a little satchel, which, he said, contained a pair of
But Blix was as sweet as a rose that morning, all in tailor-made black but for the
inevitable bands of white satin wrapped high and tight about her neck. The St. Bernard
dog-collar did duty as a belt. She had disdained a veil, and her yellow hair was already
blowing about her smooth pink cheeks. She walked at his side, her step as firm and
solid as his own, her round, strong arms swinging, her little brown eyes shining with
good spirits and vigor, and the pure, clean animal joy of being alive on that fine cool
Western morning. She talked almost incessantly. She was positively garrulous. She
talked about the fine day that it was, about the queer new forage caps of the soldiers,