SWIFTLY, and very sweetly for Sandy, the days went by in the Forks; down there deep in the earth, almost in the dark of the underworld, in the cool of the forest, in the fragrance and spice and sweetness of the fir, and madrona, and tamarack, forever dripping with dew, and dropping their fragrant gums and spices on the carpeted, mossy mountain side, filling the deep chasm with an odor found nowhere save in the heart of the Sierras, and Sandy was happy at last.
"You will please come again. You are such good company!" Sandy had come to think he was one of the best talkers in the world; and thinking so he was really able to begin to talk. Such is the tact and power, for good or ill, of woman.
Water will find its level. In this camp, in all new camps, in all new countries, new enterprises, wars, controversies no matter what, there are certain men who come to the surface. These come to the front, and men stand aside, and they take their place. They stay there, for they belong there. They may not come immediately; but let any great question be taken up, let it be one of enough consequence to stir up the waters, and the waters will find their level.
No man need stilt himself up, or seek applause, or friends in high places, or loud praise. If he belongs to the front he will get there in time, and will remain there when he arrives. If he does not, there is but little need for him to push and bribe and bother at all about it. He will only stand up in the light long enough to show to the world that some one has escaped from the woodcut of a comic almanac, or the Zoological Gardens, and will then sink back, to end his life in complaining of hard treatment and lack of appreciation.
Let us rather accept the situation, good or bad, play the piece out, and look to promotion in the next great drama.
Do not despise my spicy little camp in the Sierras. It was a world of itself. Perhaps it was as large as all Paradise was at the first; and then it was so new, so fresh, so fragrant, sweet, and primitive.
It was something to be the first man in that camp. Caesar, if they have written their chronicles true, would have preferred it to the second place in Rome.
Here only the strong, clear heads towered up. It was not accident that made Sandy, or the Parson either, a head man in the Forks.
The Forks knew just how sterling, and how solid, and how sincere he was. No flattery here. There was not a penny to win by it. No applause to care for here. No public opinion to appease or woo. If a man did not like the company at the Howling Wilderness he need not put in an appearance. He could stay at home, lord of his castle, toil three hundred and sixty five days in the year, and no man would question him or doubt his motives.
Nor was it any accident that made Limber Tim the partner of Sandy. These things have a deeper root than men suppose. Sandy was the strongest man in the camp, Limber Tim was the weakest. Nothing in nature was more natural than their present relation.
It is as remarkable as it is true, that wild beasts, even when the sexes, more decent than men, are divided from each other, mate thus. The strong bear or the strong buck companions with the weak.
This Sandy never blustered or asserted himself, at all. He was born above most men of his class, and he stood at their head boldly without knowing it. Had he been born an Indian he would have been a chief, would have led in battle, and dictated in council, without question or without opposition from any one. Had he been born in the old time of kings he would have put out his hand, taken a crown, and worn it as a man wears the most fitting garment, by instinct.
Sandy was born King of the Forks. He was king already, without knowing it or caring to rule it.
There are people just like that in the world, you know, great, silent, fearless fellows, or at least there are in the Sierra world, and they are as good as they are great. They are there, throned there, filling up more of the world than any ten thousand of those feeble things that God sent into the world, in mercy to the poor good men who sit all day silent, and cross legged, and in nine parts, sewing, on a table.
They will not go higher, they can not go lower. They accept the authority as if they had inherited through a thousand sires.Start reading Chapter9 of The First Famlies of the Sierras