Puget Sound

Two thousand miles of zigzag shores, running south and running north, branching east and branching west, — no wonder that the chartless De Fuca, sailing between them day after day, believed himself to be exploring a vast river. Abler navigators than he, coming later still, clung to the idea, and it is not yet a hundred years since the majestic waters received their true name and place in the ocean family tree. No possible accuracy of naming, however, no completeness of definition, can lessen the spell of their fantastic wandering course. No matter if one were to commit their maps to heart and know their charts like a pilot, he would never lose a vague sense of expectation, surprise, and half bewilderment in cruising among their labyrinths. Bays within bays, inlets on inlets, seas linking seas,—over twelve thousand square miles of surface, the waters come and go, rise and fall, past a splendid succession of islands, promontories, walls of forest, and towering mountains. Voyaging on them, one drifts back into their primitive past, and finds himself unconsciously living over the experiences of their earliest navigators. The old Indian names which still haunt the shores heighten the illusion ; and even the shrill screams of the saw-mill cannot wholly dispel it. The wilderness is dominant still. Vast belts of forest and stretches of shore lie yet untracked, untrodden, as they were a century ago, when Vancouver’s young Lieutenant Puget took the first reckonings and measurements of their eminent domain. But the days of the wilderness are numbered. It is being conquered and taken possession of by an army of invaders more irresistible than warriors, — men of the axe, the plow, the steam-engine; conquerors, indeed, against whom no land can make fight. The siege they lay is a siege which cannot be broken ; for all the forces of nature are on their side. The organic secrets of the earth are their allies, also the hidden things of the sea; and the sun and the rain are loyal to the dynasty of their harvests. There is, in this might of peaceful conquest of new lands by patient tillers of the soil, something so much grander than is to be seen in any of the processes of violence and seizure that one could wish there were on this globe limitless uninhabited regions, to make endless lure and opportunity for pioneer men and women so long as the human race shall endure. Once, and not so very long ago, we thought we had such a limitless region on our own continent. In the United States government’s earlier treaties with the Indians, the country “ west of the Mississippi ” is again and again spoken of as beyond the probable reach of white settlement. In 1835, when the Cherokees were removed from Georgia to their present home in Indian Territory, the United States government by treaty guaranteed to them “ a perpetual outlet west, and a free and unmolested use of all the country west of their western boundary,” — “ as far west as the sovereignty of the United States and their rights of soil extend.” And as late as 1842, one Mr. Mitchell, a superintendent of Indian affairs, said in a report, “If we draw a line running north and south, so as to cross the Missouri about the mouth of the Vermilion River, we shall designate the limits beyond which civilized men are never likely to settle. At this point the Creator seems to have said to the tides of emigration that are annually rolling toward the west, ‘ Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.’ ” To read such records as these to-day is half comic, half sad.

This line recommended by Mr. Mitchell would run just east of Dakota, through the eastern portion of Nebraska, a little to the east of the middle of Kansas, through the middle of Indian Territory and Texas. Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and New Mexico all lie west of it; and if the Cherokees were to attempt to-day to claim that “ perpetual outlet to the west, and the use of all the country west of” their own, they would be confronted by hundreds of thousands of Texan rangers, New Mexico stockmen, Arizona miners, and California orange growers.

In the north, across Montana and Idaho, — through and beyond the Nez Percés’ old country, — immigrants by the thousand are steadily pouring into Oregon and Washington Territory. Two railroads are racing, straining muscles of men and sinews of money, to be first ready to carry this great tide. The grandchildren of the men who are now cutting down primeval pines on the shores of Puget Sound, and on the foothills of Oregon’s mountains, will live to see Oregon as thickly settled as Massachusetts, and the shore line of Puget Sound set іull of beautiful hamlets and summer homes, like the Mediterranean Riviera.

The foreseeing, forecasting of all this gives a tender, regretful, dreamy flavor to every moment of one’s sailing on the Sound. As island after island recedes, and promontory after promontory slips back again into the obscurity of its own sheltering forest shadows, the imagination halts and lingers behind with them, peopling their solitudes, and creating on shore and hill a prophetic mirage of cities to be. Shifting fogs add their capricious illusions and everywhere heighten the mystery and multiply the mirage. These mists are the Puget Sound lottery for voyagers, and, like all lotteries, they deal out many bitter blanks of disappointment to one prize. Scores of travelers cruise for days in the Sound without once seeing land, except when their boat touches shore. In July and August, what with fogs and smoke from burning forests, a clear day is a rare thing, and navigation, though never dangerous, becomes tiresome enough. “ I tell you, you get tired of feelin’ your way round here in the fog, in August,” said one of the Sound captains to us. “ It don’t make any difference to me. I can run my boat into Victoria, when I can’t see my hand’s length before me, just as well’s when it’s clear sunshine ; but it’s awful tedious. There’s lots of folks come up here, an’ go back, and they hain’t any more idea o’ what the Sound ’s like than ’s if they ’d sat still in Portland. I always feel real sorry for them. I just hate to see any travelers comin’ aboard after August. June’s the month for the Sound. You people could n’t have done better if you'd been sailin’ here all your lives. You ’ve hit it exactly right.”

We had, indeed. We had drawn a seven days’ prize of fair weather : they were June’s last seven. It is only fair to pass on the number of our ticket; for it is the one likeliest to be lucky in any year.

By boat from Portland down the Wallamet River into the Columbia, down the Columbia to Kalama, and from Kalama to New Tacoma by rail, is the ordinary dry-weather route from Portland to Puget Sound. Kalama, however, has a habit of ducking under, in the high times of the Columbia River ; and at these seasons travelers must push on, northward, till they come to some spot where the railroad track is above water. On this occasion we had to sail well up the Cowlitz River before we reached a place where steam engines could go dry-shod and safe. Thence ninety miles to Tacoma, — ninety miles of half-cleared wilderness ; sixteen embryo towns on the way, many of them bearing musical old Indian names : Olequa, Napavine, Newaukum, Chehalis, Seata, Temino. Very poor by contrast with these sounded Centreville, Lake View, and Hillhurst. So, also, it must be confessed, did Skookum Chuck, which is, however, simply another instance of the deteriorating effect on the Indian of intercourse with the whites ; Skookum Chuck being a phrase of the barbarous Chinook jargon invented by the Hudson Bay Company, to save themselves the trouble of learning the Indians’ languages. Skookum Chuck means “ plenty of water,” but it sounds like choking to death. There seems an unwitting tribute to the cleverness of the Indians in thus throwing on them the burden of learning a new language, in which to carry on traffic and intercourse.

The town of Tacoma is at the head of Admiralty Inlet. It is half on, half under, bluffs so steep that ladder-like stairways are built to scale them. It fronts east and south. To the east its outlook is over seas and isthmuses of forest lands. Its south horizon is cleft by the majestic snow dome of Mount Rainier. In the west and northwest lie the long Olympic ranges, also snow topped. No town on the Sound commands such sunrises and sunsets on snowy peaks and stretches of sea.

We reached Tacoma at five o’clock in the afternoon. Mount Rainier then was solid white. It loomed up like a citadel of ice nearly three miles high in the air. In less than an hour it had turned from solid white to solid gold. The process seemed preternatural. In many years’ familiar knowledge of all the wonders which sunrise and sunset can work on peaks in the Rocky Mountain ranges, I had never seen any such effect. It was as if the color came from within, and not from without; as if the mighty bulwark were being gradually heated from central fires. Still more slowly than it had changed from snow white to gleaming gold, it changed again from the gleaming gold to a luminous red, like that of live coals. This fiery glow was broken, here and there, by irregular spaces of a vivid dark wine color, wherever rocky ledges cropped out. The spectacle was so solemn that it was impossible to divest one’s self of a certain sense of awe. The glow grew hotter and hotter, until it seemed as if fire must burst from it. The whole mountain seemed translucent and quivering with heat. The long northern twilight deepened, but the mountain did not change, unless it were to burn even more fierily in the dimmer light. At last pale ember tints began to creep upward from the base of the peaks, very slowly, — as a burning coal cools when it falls into a bed of warm ashes. These tints grew gray, blue, and finally faded into the true ashy tint of cold embers; gradually they spread over the whole surface of the mountain. At the top, a flicker of the red lingered long, heightening still more the suggestion of slowly cooling fires. The outcropping ledges faded from their vivid wine color to a pale blue, the exact shade of shadows on dead embers ; and this also heightened the pallor of the ashy tint on the rest of the mountain.

Two brigs lay at anchor in the Tacoma harbor. Their every mast and spar and rope stood out as if etched on the cold yellow sky in the north. As our boat glided out into the silent, dusky vistas of forest and sea, in the deepening darkness, this network of crossing and countercrossing lines on the sky seemed to have mysterious significance, as if they might belong to a system of preternatural triangulation; wrought by powers of the air, whose colossal beacon we had just seen extinguished.

Next morning, at four o’clock, from our stateroom windows (this plural should be emphasized; for there are not to be found on many waters steamboats which contain staterooms with two windows and double beds, such as are to be found on Puget Sound), — next morning, from our stateroom windows, at four o’clock, we looked out on one of the characteristic Puget Sound pictures. It glided past, changing each second: terraces and peaks of mountain and cloud ; amber against a pale green sky; domes and lines of dark fir forest, a hair line of gold edging each one to the east ; here and there a roof or a chimney among the trees ; wooded islands sailing into and out of sight in a twinkling, their shadows trailing purple on the water; a cluster of white houses close on the shore; boats drawn up; the tide out, and a stretch of shingle sparkling wet ; a beach wall of tall firs a few rods back ; a boat pulling over from another dusky shore, opposite and near; sun’s rays stealing up ahead of the sun, flashing on the boatman’s oars and lighting up every window in the hamlet. Our boat swung round and in, and halted ; a man leaped ashore. The silence was so absolute that the commonest act or motion seemed stealthy. As the boat backed out of the inlet, the sun rose from behind a fir forest, and flashed every one of the spear tops into a sort of sudden presenting of arms along the whole sky-line. It was not full sunrise yet in the inlet; but once out in the wider sea, we swept into broad light. In the distance a steamboat and a brig were sailing side by side. The brig took rank with nature at once : no sign of effort about her motion ; only a little curl of white water at her bows, like a quiet, satisfied chuckle. For one second her masts cut across the great dome of Mount Rainier, and reaching half-way to its top seemed suddenly to shoot towards the sky. The whole picture, — landing, departure, dawn, sunrise, — all was over and past in less time than its telling takes. The swift beauty of these moments is only an average succession of average moments of which hours are made up, when one sails on Puget Sound.

Our next stop was at Port Gamble. To reach it, we had sailed twenty-four miles; yet by a road across the promontory it was only eleven miles away from our sunrise halting-place, so much do the winding water roads double on themselves. Port Gamble is, like most of the Puget Sound towns, simply a saw-mill village. It has a population of four hundred people, every man of whom is at work in, or in connection with, the lumber-mills. The village is only a clearing in the shore side of the forest: rough little houses, painted white, with here and there a flower garden. On the wharf sat a handsome Indian woman. Her face was more Egyptian than Indian, and, with its level eyebrows, fine nostrils, and strongly moulded mouth and chin, would have done no discredit to a priestess on the Nile. She was one of the British Columbia Indians ; free to come and go where she pleased. The captain of our boat knew her, and said she was very “well off;” her husband worked in the lumber-mills. “She’s a British subject, you see,” he added. “ There can’t anybody molest her, ’s long’s she behaves herself The British Columbia Indians are a good lot, generally.”

“ Yes,” I replied. “ The English government has treated its Indians better than we have ours.”

“ That ’s so,” said the captain, emphatically. “ They don’t deceive ’em, in the first place, nor plunder ’em, in the second place.”

The air was resonant with shrill sawmill noises. Lurid smoke, like that from smelting-works, poured up from the fires. The mill itself was a deafening, blinding, terrifying storm of machinery : saws by dozens, upright, horizontal, circular, whirring and whizzing on all sides ; great logs, sixty, a hundred feet long, being hauled up, dripping, out of the water, three at a time, by fierce clanking chains, slid into grooves, turned, hung, drawn, and quartered, driven from one end of the building to the other like lightning, — a whole tree slaughtered, made into planks, laths, staves, blocks, shavings, and sawdust, in the twinkling of an eye.

One hundred and fifty thousand feet of lumber in a day are now turned out in this mill. There is a record of a year when, running day and night, it turned out fifty-four million feet. Its furnaces are fed solely by its own sawdust, automatically poured in in ceaseless streams. But even these cannot consume half the sawdust made ; great piles of it, outside, are perpetually burning; night and day, the fires smoulder and blaze, burning up the sawdust and bits of wood, but they cannot keep pace with the mill. Such waste of tons of fuel makes one’s heart ache, thinking of the cities full of poor, shivering and freezing every winter.

The most demoniacal thing in the mill was a sort of huge iron nipper, with a head whose shape suggested some grotesque heathen idol. This came up at regular intervals, a few seconds apart, through an opening in the floor, opened its jaws, seized a log, and turned it over; then sank again out of sight, till the next log was ready for turning. There was a fierce and vindictive expression in the intermittent action of this automaton, which made it seem like a sentient and malignant demon, rather than a machine.

Sitting with his face sheltered behind a large pane of glass, which was mounted like a screen, sat a man sharpening saws on a big iron wheel, driven by steam. The wheel revolved so swiftly that volleys of blazing sparks flew right and left from the saw teeth. Perhaps nothing could give a stronger impression of the amount of force expended in the mill than the fact that this saw sharpener and his lightning wheel never rest while the mill is going.

Shutting one’s eyes and listening attentively to the whirring din, one perceived myriads of fine upper violin notes in it, and now and then a splendid bass chord, as of a giant violoncello ; again, thuds of heavy logs would crash in among the finer metallic sounds, till the sound seemed like the outburst of a colossal discordant orchestra.

Outside the mill were huge booms of logs floating in the water. One might walk over acres of them. They had all come from distant forests on the Sound. The mill companies are too shrewd to cut their own timber, in the vicinity of the mills, yet the company to which this mill belongs is said to own a quarter of a million acres of solid forest; but at present they buy all their logs, most of them from men who cut them under the Timber Act.

The wharves were lined with ships waiting to carry the lumber away. The ships themselves, many of them, had been built on the Sound, at Port Townsend and other ports. Their masts, a hundred feet tall, without knot or blemish, had come from the same forests which had supplied the planks now being stowed ignominiously away in their holds. It was a marvelous sight to see the loading. Each ship was packed many tiers deep with lumber; the hold filled in solid, and the deck piled high. The planks were lifted by a derrick, on the wharf, and shot down, sliding, to the deck.

At the rate trees are being cut down, and lumber shipped away from this region, it is a comparatively simple calculation to reckon how long it will take to strip the country bare. England, France, Australia, China, Japan, and even the Sandwich Islands are using Oregon and Washington pine and fir. The Pacific coast of South America uses little else. Enthusiastic statisticians publish estimates of the vast amounts of standing timber ; showing, for instance, that the timber now standing in Washington Territory alone is equal to the consumption of the whole United States during the last hundred years. To the unthinking American this seems a sufficient ground for dismissing all anxiety on the subject ; and he does not pause to establish any connection in his mind between this statement and the fact that the mills on Puget Sound, when all at work, have a cutting capacity of three hundred millions of feet a year, three of them cutting over a hundred thousand feet a day each, and a fourth being put into condition to cut two hundred thousand. Americans are often reproached, and justly, for their lack of reverence for the past; there seems even a greater dishonor in their lack of sense of responsibility for the future.

Leaving Port Gamble, we sailed straight into a cloud of silver radiances; fog banks, sifted and shot through by sun’s rays. Ceaselessly shifting and illumining, retreating and advancing, they wrapped us in a new world, almost more beautiful than that from which they shut us out. Now and then, a weird shape glided past, with warning cries : a steamboat, or a big log boom drawn by a tug. These log booms are among the most picturesque features of the Sound. They are sometimes fifteen hundred feet long and sixty wide, and contain a million feet of lumber. The logs, being all barked, are yellow and glistening; and as the boom sways and curves on the water, the whole surface of it shines like a floor of fluted gold.

At Port Ludlow, another saw-mill town, we stopped opposite a huge water tank, which stood on posts some fifteen or twenty feet high, close to the shore. It was a beautiful instance of nature’s readiness to adopt and beautify the barest and baldest things. This rough board tank, just as it stood, dripping water at every crevice, would have been an ornament to any conservatory in the land. From every joint waved grasses and vines ; they hung over, nodded and blew into tangles with each breeze. The cross-beams were covered with green moss, and from each side there hung out plants in blossom : yellow and purple asters, a tall spike of red fireweed in one corner, and myriads of fine white flowers whose name I did not know.

Before ten o’clock we had reached Port Townsend. Entering its harbor, we sailed through the fog wall as through dividing folds of curtains at a doorway. “ Never a fog in Port Townsend Harbor,” is a saying on the Sound. The town lies on high bluffs, and a prettier village could not be found. We jumped ashore, took a carriage, and saw all of the town which could be seen in fifteen minutes’ rapid driving. The houses are wooden, chiefly white, but are bowered in roses and honeysuckles. The white honeysuckle is indigenous to the region and grows with a luxuriance incredible to those who know it only as a cultivated exotic. It was no rare sight here to see a cottage with one side covered, from eaves to ground, by a matted wall of the fragrant blossoms. Port Townsend is a military post, and an air of orderly precision seems to pervade the whole place. The off-look over the Sound is grand : on the one hand the Olympic Mountains, and on the other, Mount Baker and its ranges; between these, countless vistas of inlet and island and promontory.

As we came out of the harbor, the fog stood, an amber wall, across our path. It curved outward at the middle, and as we drove straight on into it, it seemed as if it were bending before us, till it broke, and took us into its silvery centre.

From Port Townsend it is a three hours’ run, across the Straits of De Fuca, to Victoria on Vancouver’s Island ; and here, at one’s first step, he realizes that he is on British soil. It is strange that two peoples speaking the same language, holding in the main the same or similar beliefs, can have in their daily living so utterly dissimilar atmospheres as do the Americans and the English. This sharp contrast can nowhere be more vividly seen than in going from Washington Territory to Vancouver’s Island. Victoria is a town which would well repay a careful study. Even in the most cursory glances at it, one sees symptoms of reticent life, a flavor of mystery and leisure, backgrounds of traditionary dignity and hereditary squalor, such as one might go up and down the whole Pacific coast, from San Diego to Portland, and not find. When Victoria is, as it is sure to become, sooner or later, a wide known summering place, no doubt its byways and highways, its bygone ways and days, will prove mines of treasure to the imagination of some dreaming story-teller. The business part of the town, if one may be pardoned such a misnomer in speaking of its sleepy streets, is rubbishy and littered. The buildings are shabby, unadorned, with no pretense of design or harmony. They remind one of the inferior portions of secondclass commercial towns in England, and the men and women in the shops, on doorsteps, and in alley-ways look as if they might have just come from Hull. But once outside this part of the town, all is changed: delightful, picturesque lanes ; great meadow spaces full of oaks; knolls of mossy bowlders ; old trees swathed in ivy; cottages buried in roses and honey-suckle ; comfortable houses, with lawns and hedges, sun-dials and quaint weather-vanes; castle-like houses of stone, with lodges and high walls and driveways; and, to complete the picture, sauntering down the lanes, or driving at stately paces along the perfect roads, nonchalant men and leisurely women, whose nonchalance and leisure could not be outdone or outstared in Hyde Park.

At every turn is a new view of the sea, or a sudden glimpse of some halfhidden inlet or bay. These bursts and surprises of beautiful bits of water are the greatest charm of the place. Driving westward from the town one has the superb Royal Roads harbor on the left for miles ; then, turning to the right, through woods that meet overhead, past fields full of tossing fringes of brakes and thickets of spiræa twenty feet high, he comes suddenly on another exquisite land-locked, unsuspected harbor, — the Esquimault harbor, with its own little hamlet. Skirting around this, and bearing back towards the town again, by a road farther inland, he finds that to reach the town he must cross inlet after inlet. Wooded, dark, silent, amber - colored, they are a very paradise for lovers of rowing; or for lovers of wooing, either, we thought, as we came again and again on a tiny craft, in which two sat with idle oars. At other times, as we were crossing some picturesque stone bridge, a pleasure barge, with gay flags flying, and young men and maidens singing, would shoot out from under it, and disappear around a leafy corner. From every higher ground we could see the majestic wall of the Olympic range rising in the south. The day will come when some painter will win fame for himself by painting this range as seen from Victoria: a solid wall of turquoise blue, with its sky-line fretted and turretted in silver snow, rising abrupt and perpendicular out of a dark green and purple sea. I do not know any mountain range so beautiful or so grandly set. Often its base is wrapped in white mists, which look as if they were crystallized in ripples and ridges, like a field of ice floes. Rising out of these, the blue wall and snowy summits seem lifted into the skies; to have no connection with earth except by the ice-floe belt.

Turning one’s back on the sea, and driving northward from the town, one finds a totally new country and expression : little farms of grazing or grain fields, the oats and wheat struggling in a hand-to-hand fight with the splendid, triumphant brakes; stretches of forest so thick their depths are black, and the tree-tops meet above the road. Except for occasional glimpses of blue water on the right, it would seem as if the sea must be hundreds of miles away. Farmers working in fields, or driving in primitive carts, look as removed from the careless, slatternly shop people in the town as from the gentlemen folks of the stone castles or the cathedral close. Wood roads turn off to right and left, disappearing at once in such obscurity of shadow that they seem little more than cave openings. We followed one of them through miles of tunneled forest, till it was suddenly stopped by a gate, beyond which all that could be seen of road seemed little more than a trail. The lure of an unknown road drew us irresistibly, and we pushed on, over bowlders, through spicy, dark hollows of fir forest, winding and climbing, till we saw through the trees a low chimney and a gleam of sea. A few rods more, and we came out on a rocky knoll, where, in a thicket of trees and honeysuckles and roses, stood a tiny cottage, looking out on a sea view which a monarch might have coveted: on the right hand, a wooded cove, running far up into the forest ; in front, a broad expanse of illue water, with the great Olympic range rising out of it in the south distance ; on the left, a shore line of wooded points and promontories, as far as the eye could reach, growing more and more dusky, till they melted into the hazy blue of the Cascade range.

It was a Scotch sheep farmer, who had speired about till he found for himself this delectable nook. He had four hundred sheep on the place, and made a living for himself, wife, and four children by selling mutton, wool, and now and then lambs. The sea brought to him all the fish his family could eat, and he had at his back miles of fir forest for fuel. It was never cold in winter, and never hot in summer, he said ; and the glossy leaves of a manzanita copse on the crest of his rocky knoll bore witness to the truth of his words. A short distance from shore, just in front of the house, lay one small island, as if moored. On it was a curious structure of weatherbeaten boards, half house, half platform. It was an Indian burial-place. The farmer said the Indians came there, often from a great distance, bringing their dead for burial. They came in fleets of canoes, singing and chanting. Some of the bodies were buried in graves, but chiefs and distinguished warriors were wrapped in their blankets, and laid upon shelves in the house. He had often been tempted, he said, to go over and examine the place ; but he thought “ may be the Indians would n’t like it,” and not one of his family had ever set foot on the island. All that they knew of the spot, or of the ceremonies of the funerals taking place there, was what they had been able to see with a glass from their own shore.

There could be nowhere in the world a sharper transition, in a day’s journey, than that which we made in going from Victoria to Seattle. Seattle is twentyseven years old by the calendar, but by record of actual life only six, so that it has all the bustle and stir of a new American town. One can fancy a Victoria citizen being stunned and bewildered on landing at Seattle. Its six thousand people are all aswarm ; streets being graded, houses going up, wharves building, steamers loading with coal, and yet blackberry vines, stumps, and wild brakes are to be seen in half the streets.

The town lies on and among high terraces, rising steeply from the shores of the Sound. It fronts west, and has on its distant western horizon the same grand Olympic Mountains which Victoria sees to the south. Between it and them stretch zigzag shores, wooded to the water’s edge, and broken by high cliffs and bold promontories. It is rich in other waters, also, having behind it, only two miles away, Union Lake, eight miles long and two wide, connected by a portage of six hundred feet with Washington Lake, which is twenty-eight miles long and from two to ten wide. These lakes are surrounded by wooded uplands of good soil. When Seattle is a rich commercial city, a terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad, these uplands will be the place where Seattle fortunes will be spent in building villas. Already land on these forest ridges commands fifteen hundred dollars an acre ; and the charter is granted for a horsecar route, many miles out into what is now unbroken wilderness. Seattle has a university, with three hundred pupils, boys and girls ; and a Catholic hospital, to which our driver paid a warm tribute, exclaiming, “ Those Catholic sisters are the women I want to have take care of me when I ’m sick. They take care of everybody all alike. If a fellow’s got money, he must pay; but if he has n’t got a cent, they ’ll take just as good care of him, all the same.”

A large part of the present and prospective wealth of Seattle is in coal mines. The principal ones lie twenty miles southeast of the town, in the appropriately named village of Newcastle, to which a narrow-gauge railroad runs out, through a lane of wild syringa, spiræa, black alder, pines and firs. It was like a long gallery of Corots: no tops of trees to be seen, but myriads of vistas of drooping branches and folds of foliage. Linnea vines hung in wreaths and white clover in drifts over the edges and sides of the railroad cuts ; so tropical a luxuriance of growth comes even in these northern latitudes from their solid half year of rain.

“ It does n’t really rain all the time, does it ? ” I said to a discontented Newcastle woman, who had been complaining of the wet winters.

“ Well, if you was to see me hanging out my clo’es Monday morning, an’ waitin’ till Saturday for ’em to dry, an’ then takin’ ’em in an’ dryin’ ’em by the fire, I guess you’d think it rained about all the time,” she replied resentfully. “ I ’ve lived here goin’ on five years, an’ I hain’t ever dried a week’s wash out-ofdoors in the winter time yet, an’ I ’m sick on ’t. To be sure, you can’t ever say it’s cold. That’s one comfort.”

Newcastle is a grimy huddle of huts on the sides of a pocket of hillside and forest: huts above huts ; stumps above stumps ; handfuls of green grass among patches of rocks ; bits of palings ; labyrinths of goat paths from hut to hut; strips of stairways here and there, to the houses of the more ambitious ; wooden chimneys of rough planks built aslant against the houses’ outside walls ; coal heaps; heaps of refuse; blackened cars drawn by mules ; miners running hither and yon, sooty as imps, each with a lurid flame burning in a tin tube on his cap visor, — the scene was weird and horrible. A small white chapel stood on one of the highest ridges: it took a stairway of twenty-two steps to reach it, but the bottom stair was above most of the chimneys of the village. I sat down on this staircase and looked with dismay over the place. Presently there came hobbling by an old woman, leaning on a cane ; with her, an agile, evil-faced little boy, who was evidently kept by her side much against his will. I. did not need to hear her speak to know that she was English. English squalor, especially if it have once been respectability, is even more instantaneously recognizable than English finery : carpet shoes ; a dingy calico gown ; a red knit shawl ; a black velvet bonnet, a score of years old, the crown shirred in squares and gray with dust; a draggled feather atop of still more draggled and rusty lace ; in the front a velvet braid, of three separate shades of brown which had once been red ; a burnt-out old frizette of brown hair, — all this above a pitiful aged face, bright hazel eyes, full of nervous irritability and wan sorrow. It was long since I had seen such a study.

A glance was all the invitation she needed to sit down by my side, and begin to pour out her tale. She had come up to Newcastle from Renton, for her “ ’elth.”

“And how far is Renton ?”

“Wull, ye ’ll coam from Renton to this for forty cents.”

I was struck by the novelty of this method of estimating distance. The rich reckon it by hours ; the poor, it seems, by cents.

She was born in Staffordshire, England, where she lived till she was forty years old. Her first husband was a collier. “Ee was a vary ’eavy man. An’ he made too much blood. For five years ’ee was a makkin too much blood ; an’ the doctors said it ’u’d be good for ’im to go to America. Else I’d never have gone. ’T was for that I brought ’im. I did not start till I was turned forty. Oh, I’ve ’ad troubles ! Ay, the oops and downs in this life ! Ye doan know what ye ’ll live through with.

“ I lost five children a-cuttin’ teeth, a-runnin’, at fourteen months each ; an’ then their father was killed, too, an’ that was worse than the children.

“ It was agen all my prayers that ’ee went in the mine that day. I’d a bad dream : an’ I said to ’im, Now I ’ve ’ad a dream ; an’ if ye go in the mine ’t ’ull be your grave ye goin’ into ; an’ afore night he was dead. There was nineteen others killed, too. It was a coal mine; a slaughter mine, — that’s what it was, by rights.”

This was in Virginia; in the coal mines in the southern part of the State. She soon married again, and with her second husband was keeping a country store, and earning money fast, when, only three months before the war broke out, their store burned down, without insurance.

“ We wa’n’t like a many folks,” she said, “ not payin’ our debts because we was burned out. We paid up every dollar we owed, an’ had enough money left to take us back to England for a visit. I was n’t ever afraid o’ my hands. I was as liberal to work as if it was to airn a fortune. I was always a singin’ to my work like a nartingale.”

When they returned to America they joined a party of English emigrants to Vancouver’s Island, and her husband went into the mines there. But misfortune did not quit its hold of her. In an accident in a mine, her husband was injured by falling beams, so that he could never again do heavy work, and all of her children died except the youngest.

“ There ’s a great pleasure with having children,” she said, “ an’ there ’s a great trouble to lose ’em ; but I’ve lived to thank the Lord that he took mine as he did. It’s a wicked world for ’em to coam through. There was three men was lynched down at Seattle last week. It’s trew they ’d done a murder; but I think they s’u’d ’a’ ’ad the right o’ the good law. When I heered it, it made me sick. I was a-thinkin’ they ’d got mothers, mabbe, ’an if a woman was to ’ear that she ’d a child to be lynched that way, it ’u’d be the finishin’ of her; an ’art-breakin’ thing, to be sure.”

She rambled on and on, with such breaks in her narrative, in time and sequence, that it was almost incoherent; every now and then she would sink into half soliloquy, with a recurrence of ejaculations, as if she were her own Greek chorus. Her “ Ay, ay, I ’ve ’ad troubles,” reminded me of Carlyle’s too late, poignant “ Ay, de’ me.”

She is seventy-three years old. Her husband is seventy-nine. He earns two dollars a day in a mine.

“ Ah,” said I cheerfully. “ That gives you sixty dollars a month. That is a comfortable income.”

“ Na ! na ! ” she said sharply, — “ na sixty dollars : there’s but six days to the week. There ’s nobody belonging to me ’ull do Sunday work. Sunday work ’s no good. No luck comes o’ Sunday work,” and she gazed sternly up at the sky as she reiterated the words. “ I’m o’ the Wesleyans,” she continued, half defiantly.

“ That is a very good religion,” I replied, in a conciliatory voice.

“ You bet it is! ” she exclaimed with sudden vivacity, — “you bet it is! If you do as they say, you ’ll be all right.”

When I bade her good-by, she sighed heavily, and said, —

“ Well, good-day to ye. I wish ye luck, where ’s’ ever ye’re goin’. I expect ye ’ve a deal o’ pleasure in yer life, but it ’s a hard world to coam through before yer done with it; ” and with a petulant, unsmiling nod she turned away.

In Carbonado, another colliery village on the Sound, thirty miles south of Tacoma, we found the same grimy desolation as in Newcastle. Blackened stumps, half-burnt logs, bowlders, piles of waste rubbish, met one at every turn. But there was an expression of cheer and life in the place; and huge playbills, all over the town, announcing an entertainment by the “ Carbonado Minstrel Club,” gave evidence of an astonishing knack at mirthfulness under difficulties. The programme was a droll one; a first and second part, with orchestra overtures before and between, a “conversationalist in the centre” — whatever that may mean, — an “ opening chorus,” a farce at the end, and Professor John Brenner’s string band, to be “ engaged for dancing after the performance at reasonable rates.”

“ Shouting Extraordinary,” by Charlie Poole, and a “ comic song, Baby’s got the Cramp, by Dan Davis,” were among the attractions of the second part of the entertainment; the price of admission, fifty cents for adults and half price for children.

We had run out from Tacoma to Carbonado on a special train. As we drew near the station, I saw a girl, ten or eleven years old, racing down the hill at full speed, her sunbonnet Hying off her head. As we stepped out of our box car, she looked at us with supreme contempt.

“ Well, I did get fooled ! ” she exclaimed. “ I thought you was the mail ! ”

Her curiosity as to our errand in Carbonado was great, and took expression in an exuberant hospitality.

“ Why did n’t you come up to see us Friday ?” she said. “ We’re going to have a review in school Friday, and spell down. We spelled down last Friday, too.”

“ Did you beat the whole school ? ” I asked.

“ No. Si Hopkins, he spelled the word, — spelled me down. Teacher’s going to spell the whole school down next time on a new word, — shoddish.”

“ Shoddish ! ” I exclaimed. “ There is not any such word in the English language.”

“There is too!” she replied dauntlessly. “I ’ve got it written down, but I can’t learn it to save me. It’s a kind o’ dance, or something o’ that sort.”

“ Oh ! Schottisch,” I said.

“ Yes, that ’s it,” she nodded : “ it ’s the name of a dance. Teacher’s seen it, she says. I know I 'll get spelled down on it, though : it ’s a real mean word to spell. There ain’t any sense in it. I ’ll take you up to the school, to see teacher,” she added eagerly. “ She 'll be real glad to see you. She just let me run down to the train when we heard the whistle. We thought ’t was the mail. That’s Battle Row,” she continued, pointing to a sort of alley of board shanties, evidently chiefly drinking saloons. “There ’s a fight there every day, most. We don ’t go down there, any of us, if we can help it. I ’d be ashamed to live anywhere near there. It’s just rightly named. My mother says she ’d like to see it burned down any night. We did like to all burn up here, three weeks ago. Did you hear about it ? Well, it was just awful. We had all the things out o’ our house; and lots o’ the neighbors did, too. The fire ain’t out yet. You can see it smoking there, in the edge of the timber.”

This, then, explained a part of the blackened desolateness of the little hamlet. The wall of fir forests which had seemed its protection had proved its dire danger. A belt of charred trees, gaunt as a forest of ebony masts, showed where the fires had blazed along, and come near sweeping away the village.

“ It was well the wind went down when it did,” the little maid continued sagely. “ I expect if it had n’t, you would n’t have found any of us here. It was just as hot ’s anything, all round; an’ you could n’t get your breath.”

Looking around, one realized the terrible danger of forest fires in such a spot. The little village was walled on three sides by a forest of firs and cedars, from one hundred to three hundred feet high ; and we had come through miles of such forests, so dense that only a few feet back from their outer edge the shade became darkness impenetrable by the eye. There is a sombre splendor about these dark forests of giant trees, which it would be hard to analyze, and impossible to render by any art. Language and color alike fall short of expressing it.

The school was in a rough boarded room which had been originally built for a store. The hats, bonnets, books, and slates were piled on the shelves, and the thirty children sat on high benches, their feet swinging clear of the floor. There was not a robust or healthyfaced child in the room, and their thin, pale cheeks were a sad commentary on the conditions of their lives. Later in the day, as I walked from home to home, and saw everywhere slow-trickling streams of filthy water, blue, iridescent, and foul-odored, I wondered not that the children were pale, but that they were alive. The history class was reciting a memorized list of “ epochs,” when I went in. They had them at their tongues’ ends. I suggested to the teacher to aSK them what the word “ epoch ” meant. Blank dismay spread over their faces. One girl alone made answer. She was an Indian, or perhaps half-breed, fourteen years of age; the healthiest child and the best scholar in the school, the teacher said. “ The time between,” was her prompt definition of the word epoch, given with a twinkle in her eye of evident amusement that the rest did not know what it meant. The first class in reading, then read from the Fourth Independent Reader, in stentorian voices, Trowbridge’s poem of The Wonderful Sack. The effect of slight changes of a single letter here and there was most ludicrously illustrated by one sturdy little chap’s delivery of the lines,

“His limbs were strong,
His beard was long.”

With loud and enthusiastic emphasis he read them,

“ His lambs were strong,
His bread was long.”

Not a member of the class changed countenance, or gave any sign of disagreeing with his interpretation of the text; and the teacher, being engaged in herculean efforts to keep the poor little primary bench still, failed to hear the lines.

As soon as school was out, most of the children went to work carrying water. The only water in the village is in a huge tank behind the engine-house. From this each family must draw its supply. It was sad to see children not over six or seven years old lugging a heavy pail of water in each hand.

“ I ’ve got all the wash-water to carry this afternoon,” said my little guide; “so I ’ve got to be excused from school. My mother did n’t wash to-day, because she wa’n’t well. Most always we get the wash-water Sundays.”

“You ’ll be sure to go down the incline, won’t you,” she added; “that ’s splendid. I ’d just like to go up an’ down in that car all the time. It’s the nicest thing here. I expect that ’s what you all came for, wa’n’t it ? There ’s lots o’ folks come out from Tacoma just to go down in it. There ain’t another like it in the whole country,” she added, with a superb complacence. “ You be sure an’ go down, now.”

It was indeed a fine shoot down, on a nearly perpendicular steel-railed track, over a thousand feet, to the bed of the river, on the banks of which are the openings of the mines. The coal is drawn, and the miners go up and down in cars, on this seemingly perilous track. There is no other way down. The river is a glacial stream, and dashes along, milky white, between its steep banks. On the narrow shore rims is a railway, along which cars are drawn by mules, from mine to mine, crossing the river back and forth. In a distance of some three or four miles, there are a dozen galleries and shafts. The supply of coal is supposed to be inexhaustible; a most convenient thing for the Central Pacific Railroad, which owns it.

It was a weird ride at bottom of this chasm : the upper edges lined thick with firs and cedars ; the sides covered with mosses and ferns and myriads of shrubs, red columbines and white spiræas, with blossom plumes a foot and a half long, — everything dripping and sparkling with the river foam and the moisture from innumerable springs in the rocks. Bob, the handsome mule that drew us over the road, deserves a line of history. He has spent three years jogging up and down this river bed. His skin is like brown satin, and his eyes are bright; he knows more than any other mule in the world the miners think. He knows all their dinner pails by sight, and can tell which pails have pie in them. Pie is the only one of human foods which Bob likes. Hide their dinner pails as they may, the miners cannot keep pie away from Bob, if he is left loose. “ He ’ll go through a row o’ dinner pails in a jiffy, and jest clean out every speck o’ pie there is there; an’ he won’t touch another thing, sir,” said his driver with fond pride.

The Carbonado picture I shall remember longest is of a little five-year-old mother; just five, the oldest of four. She sat in a low rocking-chair, holding her three months’ old sister, looking down into her face: cooing to her, chucking her under the chin, laughing with delight, and exulting at each response the baby made.

“ I can’t hardly get the baby out of her arms,” said the mother. “ She ’s always been that way, ever since she was born. She takes care of all three o’ the others. I don’t know what I’d ever ha’ done without her. She don’t seem to want anything else, if she can just get to hold the baby.”

“ Oh, look at her ! look at her ! ” exclaimed the child, pointing to the baby’s face, over which a vague smile was flitting. “ I just did so to her” (making a little comic grimace), “and she laughed back ! She really did, just like we do.”

After all, values in human life are the same ; conditions make less difference than we think, and much of the pity we spend on Newcastles and Carbonados is wasted. I am not sure that I have ever seen on any child’s face such a look of rapturous delight as on this little mother’s ; and I make no doubt that if we could have stayed to hear Charlie Poole’s Shouting Extraordinary at the minstrel club’s entertainment we should have seen an audience as heartily gay as any at the best show Paris could offer.

Our last Puget Sound day was made memorable by the sight of a sunrise on Mount Rainier. At quarter before four o’clock the distant south horizon of Tacoma was shut out by walls of rose-colored clouds. These presently opened, floated off, and disclosed Mount Rainier, its eastern slope rose red, its western pale blue. One white cloud lingered at the summit, blowing like a pennant, to the west; the rose red changed to gold, — gold which seemed molten, as it streamed slowly down the mountain side ; then it changed back to rose red again, as the sky grew yellower and yellower; next, three oval barges of gold swam out in the east, as if the sun were coming by sea; the forest lines were black as night; the stretches of water, first silvery, then gray, then crossed with golden bars; then the sky turned to opaline lavender, the woods went blue, the water blazed out red ; a great column of light shot across from shore to shore ; and the sun rose. On the instant, the whole mountain turned white again, calm and impassive, as though it had had no share in the pageantry of the last half hour.

The Indian name of Mount Rainier was Tacoma: meaning, according to some, “ snow mountain ; ” according to others, “ heart food,” or “ breast food.” One catches a glimpse through the clumsy English phrase of a subtly beautiful idea, and a sentiment worthy of the mountain and of the reverential Indian nature. It is a shame to abandon the name. Retaining it for the town is a small atonement for stealing it from the mountain. There seems a perverse injustice in substituting the names of wandering foreigners, however worthy, and however enterprising in discovery, for the old names born of love, and inspired by poetry we know not how many centuries ago; names sacred, moreover, as the only mementoes which, soon, will be left of a race that has died at our hands.

H. H.