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yonder one day, when he was n't so high, and taught him to beg for his dinner; and then thar 's Polly — that's the magpie she knows no end of tricks, and makes it quite sociable of evenings with her talk, and so I don't feel like as I was the only living being about the ranch. And Jim here,” said Miggles, with her old laugh again, and coming quite out into the firelight, “ Jim — why, boys, you would admire to see how much he knows for a man like him. Sometimes I bring him flowers, and he looks at ’em just as natural as if he knew 'em; and times, when we're sitting alone, I read him those things on the wall. Why, Lord !” said Miggles, with her frank laugh, “I've read him that whole side of the house this winter. There never was such a man for reading as Jim."
“ Why,” asked the Judge,“ do you not marry this man to whom you have devoted your youthful life ?”
“ Well, you see,” said Miggles, " it would be playing it rather low down on Jim to take advantage of his being so helpless. And then, too, if we were man and wife, now, we'd both know that I was bound to do what I do now of my own accord.”
“ But you are young yet and attractive”
" It's getting late,” said Miggles, gravely, 6 and you 'd better all turn in. Good-night, boys ;” and, throwing the blanket over her head, Miggles laid herself down beside Jim's chair, her head pillowed on the low stool that held his feet, and spoke no more. The fire slowly faded from the hearth; we each sought our blankets in silence ; and presently there was no sound in the long room but the pattering of the rain upon the roof, and the heavy breathing of the sleepers.
It was nearly morning when I awoke from a troubled dream. The storm had passed, the stars were shining, and through the shutterless window the full moon, lifting itself over the solemn pines without, looked into the room. It touched the lonely figure in the chair with an infinite compassion, and seemed to baptize with a shining flood the lowly head of the woman whose hair, as in the sweet old story, bathed the feet of him she loved. It even lent a kindly poetry to the rugged outline of Yuba Bill, half reclining on his elbow between them and his passengers, with savagely patient eyes keeping watch and ward. And then I fell asleep, and only woke at broad day, with Yuba Bill standing over me, and “ All aboard” ringing in my ears.
Coffee was waiting for us on the table, but Miggles was gone. We wandered about the house and lingered long after the horses were harnessed, but she did not return. It was evident that she wished to avoid a formal leave-taking, and had so left us to depart as we had come. After we had helped the ladies into the coach, we returned to the house and solemnly shook hands with the paralytic Jim, as solemnly settling him back into position after each hand-shake. Then we looked for the last time around the long, low room, at the stool where Miggles had sat, and slowly took our seats in the waiting coach. The whip cracked, and we were off !
But as we reached the highroad, Bill's dexterous hand laid the six horses back on their haunches, and the stage stopped with a jerk. For there, on a little eminence beside the road, stood Miggles, her hair flying, her eyes sparkling, her white handkerchief waving, and her white teeth flashing a last “good-by.” We waved our hats in return. And then Yuba Bill, as if fearful of further fascination, madly lashed his horses forward, and we sank back in our seats. We exchanged not a word until we reached the North Fork, and the stage drew up at the Independence House. Then, the Judge leading, we walked into the bar-room and took our places gravely at the bar.
“ Are your glasses charged, gentlemen ?” said the Judge, solemnly taking off his white hat.
“ Well, then, here's to Miggles, — GOD BLESS HER!”
Perhaps He had. Who knows ?
I do not think that we ever knew his real name. Our ignorance of it certainly never gave us any social inconvenience, for at Sandy Bar in 1854 most men were christened anew. Sometimes these appellatives were derived from some distinctiveness of dress, as in the case of “ Dungaree Jack;" or from some peculiarity of habit, as shown in “Saleratus Bill,” so called from an undue proportion of that chemical in his daily bread; or from some unlucky slip, as exhibited in “ The Iron Pirate," a mild, inoffensive man, who earned that baleful title by his unfortunate mispronunciation of the term “iron pyrites.” Perhaps this may have been the beginning of a rude heraldry; but I am constrained to think that it was because a man's real name in that day rested solely upon his own unsupported statement. “Call yourself Clifford, do you ? ” said Boston, addressing a timid new - comer with infinite