Newspaper Page Text
The SCARLET PLAGUE
by JACK LONDON COPVRIOHT 191+* 09 AVCLURB WEW3PaP» 3XHDICATB' CHAPTER IV—Continued. B— “Once, when the Chauffeur was away fishing, she begged me to kill him. With tears in her eyes she begged me to kill him. But he was a strong and violent man, and I was afraid. Afterward I talked with him I offered him my horse, my pony, my dogs, ail that 1 possessed, if he would give Vesta to me. and he grinned in my face and shook his head He was very insulting. He said that in the old days he had been a servant, had been dirt under the feet of men like me and of women like Vesta, and that now he had the greatest lady in the land to be servant to him and cook his food and nurse his brats ‘You had your day before the plague,’ he said; ‘but this is my day, and a damned good day it is. 1 wouldn’t trade back to the old times for anything.’ Such words he spoke, but they are not his words. He was a vulgar, low-minded man. and vile oaths fell continually from his lips “Also he told me that If he caught me making eyes at his woman he’d wring my neck and give her a beating as well What was 1 to do? I was afraid He was a brute. That first night, when I discovered the camp. Vesta And I had great talk about the things of our vanished world We talked of art, and books, and poetry; and the Chauffeur listened and grinned and sneered. He was bored and an gered by our way of speech which he not comprehend, and finally he spoke up and said; ‘And this is Vesta Van Warden, one-time wife of Van Warden the magnate—a high and stuck-up beauty, who is now my squaw Eh, Professor Smith, times is changed, times is changed Here, you woman, take off my moccasins and lively about it 1 want Professor Smith tc see how well 1 have you trained.’ "I saw her clench her teeth, and the flame of revolt rise in her face. He drew back his gnarled fist to strike, and I was afraid, and sick at heart I could do nothing to prevail against him So I got up to go. and not be witness to such indignity. But the Chauffeur laughed and threatened me with a beating if I did not stay and behold And 1 sat there, perforce, by the campfire on the shore of Lake Temescal and saw Vesta. Vesta Van Warden, kneel and remove the moc ccsins of that grinning, hairy, ape like human brute “ —Oh. you do not understand, my grandsons. You have never known anything else, and you do not under stand “ ‘Halter broke and bridle wise.’ the Chauffeur gloated, while she performed that dreadful, menial task ‘A trifle balky at times, professor, a trifle balky; but a clout alongside the jaw makes her as meek and gentle as a lamb.’ ‘‘And another time he said: ‘We’ve got to start all over and replenish the earth and multiply. You’re handi capped. professor You ain't got no wife, and we’re up against a regular Garden-of-Eden proposition. But 1 ain’t proud I’ll tell you what, profes sor' He pointed at their little infant, barely a year old ‘There's your wife, though you’ll have to wait till shj grows up It's rich, ain’t it? We’re all equals here, and I’m the biggest toad in the splash But I ain’t stuck up—not 1 Ido you the honor. Pro fessor Smith, the very great honor, of betrothing to you my and Vesta War den’s daughter. Ain’t it cussed bad that Van Warden ain’t here to see?’ “I lived three weeks of infinite tor inent ‘here in the Chauffeur’s camp And then, one day. tiring of me, or of what to 1 im was my bad effect on Vesta, he told me that the year before, wandering through the Contra Costa hills to the straits of Carquinez, across the Btraits he had seen a smoke This meant" that there were still other hu man beings, and that for three weeks he had kept this inestimable precious information from me. 1 departed at once, my dogs and horses, and jour neyed across the Contra Costa hills to the straits I saw no smoke on the other side, but at Port Costa discov ered a small steel barge oil which I was able to embark my animals Old canvas which I found served me for a sail, and southerly breeze fanned me across the straits and up to the ruins of Vallejo. Here, on the out skirts of tne city 1 found evidences of a recently occupied camp. Many clam shells showed me wh> these humans had come to the shores of the bay This was the Santa Rosa tribe, and I followed Its track along the old rail road right of way across the salt guirsliea 'jo Sonoma valley. Here, at the old brickyard at Glen Ellen, I came upon the camp. There were eighteen souls all told Two were old men, one of whom was Jones, a banker The other was Harrison, a retired pawnbroker, who had taken for a wife the matron of the State Hospital for the Insane at Napa. Of all the per sons of the city of Napa, and of all the other towns and villages In that rich and populous valley, she had been the only survivor. Next, there were the three young men —CardifT and Hale, who had been farmers, and Wain wrigbt. a common day laborer All three had found wives. To Hale, a crude, illiterate farmer, bad fallen Isa dore, the greatest prize, next to Vesta, of the women who came through the plague. She was one of the world's most noted singers, and the plague had caught her at San Francisco She had talked with me for hours at a time, telling me of her adventures, un til. at last, rescued by Hale In the Mendocino forest reserve, there had remained nothing for her to do but become his wife But Hale was a good rellow In spite of his Illiteracy. He had a keen sense of lustlce. "The wives of Cardiff and Wain wright were ordinary women, ac customed to toll, with strong constltu lions —Just the type for the wild new life which they were compelled to live In addition were two adult Idiots from the feeble minded home at Eldredge, and five or six young children and in fants born after the formation of the Santa Rosa tribe Also, there was Bertha She was a good wom an Hare-Lip, In spite of the sneers of your father. Her I took for wife. She was the mother of your father, Edwin, and of yours, Hoo-Hoo. And It was our daughter, Vera, who mar ried your father. Hare-Lip—your la ther. Sandow. who was the eldest son of Vesta Van Warden and the Chauf feur. "There are only two other tribes that we know of —the Los Angelitos and the Carmelltos. The latter start ed from one man and woman. He was called Lopez, and he was descend ed from the ancient Mexicans and was very black. He was a cowherd In the ranges beyond Carmel, and his wife was a maidservant In the Great Del Monte hotel. It was seven years be fore we first got In touch with the Los Angelitos. They have a good country down there, but it Is too warm. I estimated the present population of the world at between three hundred and fifty and four hundred—provided, of course, that there are no scattered little tribes elsewhere in the world. If there be such, we have not heard of them. Since Johnson crossed the desert from Utah, no word or sign has come from the East or anywhere else. The great world which I knew in my boyhood and early manhood Is gone. It has ceased to be. I am the last man who was alive In the days of the plague and who knows the wonders of that far-off time. We. who mastered the planet—lts earth, and sea. and sky—and who were as very gods, now live In primitive savagery along the water courses of this California coun try. “But we are Increasing rapidly— your sister, Hare-Lip. already has four children We are increasing rapidly and making ready for a new climb to ward civilization. In time, pressure of population will compel us to spread out. and a hundred generations from now we may expect our descendants to start across the Sierras, oozing slowly along, generation by genera tion, over the great continent to the colonization of the East —a new Aryan drift around the world. “But It will be slow, very slow; we have so far to climb. We fell so hope lessly far. If only one physicist or one chemist had survived! But It was not to be. and we have forgotten every thing The Chauffeur started working In Iron. He bulß the forge which we use to this day. But he was a lazy man. and when he died he took with him all he knew of metals and ma chinery. What was I to know of such things? I was a classical scholar, not a chemist. The other men who sur vived were not educated. Only two things did the Chauffeur accomplish— the brewing of strong drink and the growing of tobacco. It was while he was drunk, once, that he killed Vesta I firmly believe that he killed Vesta in a fit of drunken cruelty, though lie always maintained that she fell Into the lake and was drowned. “And, my grandsons, let me warn you agalnbt the medicine men. They call themselves doctors, travestying what was once a noble profession, but THE CHEYENNE RECORD. In reality they are medicine men. derll men. and they make for super stition and darkness. They are cheats and liars. But so debased and degrad ed are we that we believe their lies. They, too, will Increase In numbers as we Increase, and they will strive to rule us. Yet they are liars and charla tans. Look at young Cross-Eyes, pos ing as a doctor, selling charms against sickness, giving good hunting, ex changing promises of fair weather for good meat and skins, sending the death stick, performing a thousand abominations. Yet I say to you, that when be says he can do these things, he lies. I, J. H. Smith, say that he lies I have told him so to his teeth. Why has be not sent me the deatn stick? Because be knows that with me it Is without avail. But you. Hare- Lip, so deeply are you sunk In black superstition that did you awake this night and find the death stick beside you, you would surely die. And you would die, not because of any virtue in the stick, but because you are a savage with the dark and clouded mind of a savage. "The doctors must be destroyed, and all that was lost must be discovered over again. Wherefore, earnestly, I repeat unto you certain things which you must remember and tell to your children after you. You must tell them that when water Is made hot by fire there resides In It a wonderful thing called steam, which Is stronger than ten thousand men and which can do all man’s work for him. There are other very useful things. In the light ning flash there resides a similarly strong servant of man, which was of old his slave and which some day will be his slave again. "Quite a different thing is the alpha bet. It is what enables me to know the meaning of fine markings, whereas you boys know only rude picture writ ing. I have stored many books in that dry cave on Telegraph hill, where you see me often go when ”-e tribe Is down by the sea In them Is great wisdom. Also with them, I have placed a key to the alphabet, so that one who knows picture writing may also know print. Some day men will read again; and then, if no accident has befallen my cave, thsy wil know that Professor Smith once lived and saved for them the knowledge of the ancients. "There Is another little device that man Inevitably will rediscover It Is called gunpowder. It was what en abled us to kill surely and at long dis tances. Certain things which are found in the ground, when combined in the right proportions, will make this gunpowder. What these things are. I have forgotten, or else I never knew. But I wish I did know. Then would I make powder, and then would I certainly kill Cross-Eyes and rid the land of superstition—” “After I am man grown I am going to give Cross-Eyes all the goats and meat, and skins I can get, so that he’ll teach me to be a doctor." Hoo-Hoo as serted. "And when 1 know. I'll make everybody else sit up and take notice. They’ll get down In the dirt to me, you bet.” The old man nodded his bead sol emnly. and murmured; “Strange it is to hear the vestige and remnants of the complicated Ar yan speech fall from the lips of a filthy little skin-clad savage All the world Is topsy-turvy. And It has been topsy-turvy ever since the plague." “You won’t make me sit up," Hare- Lip boasted to the would-be medicine man. “If I paid you for a sending of the death stick, and It didn’t work. I'd bust In your head—understand, you Hoo-Hoo, you?" “I’m going to get Granser to remem ber this here gunpowder stuff.” Edwin said softly, "and then [’ll have you all on the run. You, Hare-Lip, will do my fighting for me, and you, Hoo- Hoo. will send the death stick for me and make everybody afraid. And If I catch Hare-Lip trying to bust your head, Hoo-Hoo, I’ll fix him with that same gunpowder Granser ain’t such a fool as you think, and I’m going to listen to him and some day I’ll be boss over the whole bunch of you." The old man shook his head sadly, and said; “The gunpowder will come Noth ing can stop It —the same old story over and over. Man will increase, and men will fight. The gunpowder will enable men to kill millions of men, and in this way only, by fire and blood, will a new civilization. In some remote day, be evolved. And of what profit will It be? Just as the old civilization passed, so will the new. It may take fifty thou sand years to build, but It will pass All things pass. Only remain cosmic force and matter, ever In flux, ever act ing and reacting and realizing the eternal types—the priest, the soldier, and the king. Out of the mouths of babes comes the wisdom of all the ages. Some will fight, some will rule, some will pray; and all the rest will toll and suffer sore while on their bleeding carcasses Is reared again, and yet again, without end, the amazing beauty and surpassing wonder of the civilized state It were Just as well that I destroyed those cave-stock books —whether they remain or per ish, all their old truths will be dia- covered, their old lies lived and hand ed down. What is the proflt—" Hare-Lip leaped to bis feet, giving a quick glance at the pasturing goats and the afternoon sun "Gee!" he muttered to Edwin. “The old geezer gets more long winded every day. Let's pull for camp” While the other two, aided by the dogs, assembled the goats and started them for the trail through the forest, Edwin stayed by the old man and guided him in the same 'direction When they reached the old rlght-of way. Edwin stopped suddenly and looked back. Hare-Lip and Hoo-Hoo and the dogs and the goats passed on Edwin was looking at a small herd of wild horses which had come down on the hard sand. There were at least twenty of them, young colts and year lings and mares, led by a beautiful stallion which stood in the foam at the edge of~the surf, with arched neck and bright wild eyes, sniffing the salt air from the sea. “What is It?” Granser queried. "Horses," waß the answer. “Firs! time I ever Been ’em on the beach. It’s the mountain lions getting thicket and thicker and driving ’em down.” The low sun shot red shafts of light fan-shaped, up from a cloud-tumbled horizon And close at hand, fn the white waste of Bhore-lashed waters, the sea lions, bellowing their old primeval chant, hauled up out of the se-. on the black rocks and fought and loved. "Come on, Granser,” Edwin prompt ed. And old man and boy, skin-clad and barbaric, turned and went along the right-of-way Into the forest In the wake of the goats. THE END. SPREAD A SPIRIT OF JOY Fat Man, With Hia Laugh, Dispelled Some of the “Blue Monday” Downheartedness. The scene was a crowded street car, and the time was about eight of a Monday morning. Blue Monday was written plainly across the face of nearly every passenger—except one He was a man round of face and al most spherical of figure, who clung to a strap and swayed with the crowd as the car rounded the turns. In his free hand he held a humorous weekly, which he read between sways. And as he read he laughed. Not a dry cackle or a low chuckle, but a whole some laugh, which seemed to start somewhere near his shoes and gather volume and tone as It rose through his body and finally emerged from his parted Ups Some gazed at him with a kind of subdued horror expressed in their eyes, as if he had intruded on their private case of blues But the malority looked upon him with envy, and that envy called attention to a common human failing all too common for the good of the race. We are In clined to look upon wholesome laugh ter, especially In public, as a sign of reprehensible vulgarity. But then why the envy? Perhaps because the man seemed to be enjoying himself after his own fashion, and though his fash ion might be wrong, the enjoyment might be all right. There Is some thing refreshing about wholesome laughter, which Is contagious, and It Is probable that those who heard the fat man laugh went to their work in better spirits. In that case he per formed a real public service, and he is a man to be praised. And in any case there can be little doubt that the fat man ate better, slept better and worked better for his totally uncon scious exhibition of a rare talent. Little Wooden Shoes. As I tramped for hours among the refugees from Antwerp, one thing Im pressed Itself strongly upon my mem ory: the noise of so many little wood en shoes —children’s shoes —that click clacked on the cobblestones In the characteristic short run of frightened people. My memory bolds a whole collection of noises, but none quite so pathetic as the quick tok-iok-tok" of these hordes of children trying des perately with their tired little legs to keep up with father and mother.— From the Amsterdam Handelsblad. Pain Is a Hint to the Wise. One thing that should be regarded seriously Is pain In any form in any part of the body If there Is a dull headache frequently, find out what causes It Pain In the knee, the arch of the foot or itt any point should be taken seriously Pain means some thing wrong. It may be brave to bear It, but it Is not wise. Remember that pain felt in one part of the body may be the result of something wrong In another part See a wise doctor about it. —Hoy Scout Handbook. Daily Thought. Life is made up not of great sacri fices or duties, but of little things In which smiles and kindness and small obligations given habitually are what win the heart and secure comfort — Davy. Daily Thought In character, in manners, in style. In all things, the supreme excellence ts simplicity.—Longfellow. HOW MRS. BEAN MET THE CRISIS Carried Safely Through Change of Life by Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound. Nashville,Tenn. —“When I was going through the Change of life I had a tu —ilii niiiiiiiiiiinii ||| m °r aa large as a juMUjull child’s head. The doctor aaid it was three years coming and gave me medi mmimt c^na f° r until i was called away lC3g|Hm from the city for < JaaJ sometime. Of JJ1 course I could not * E° him then, so Jf f jBpjBB my sister-in-law told iiSr- l ■ that she thought Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Com pound would cure It. It helped both the Change of Life and the tumor and when I got home I did not need the doctor. I took tile Pinkbam remedies until the tumor was gone, the doctor said, and I have not felt it since. I tell every one how I was cured. If this letter will help others you are welcome to use it." —Mrs. E. H. Bean, 625 Joseph Avenue, Nashville, Tenn. Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Com pound, a pure remedy containing the extractive properties of good old fash ioned roots and herbs, meets the needs of woman’s system at this critical period of her life. Try it If there is any symptom in your case which pozzies you, write to the Lydia E. Plnkham Medicine Co., Lynn, Mass. TOO SEVERE A PUNISHMENT Tramp Objected to So Long a Sojourn In a Town That Shall Re main Nameless. A certain town —not the one you live in, dear reader, but It's nearest and dearest rival —was noted for being dead slow. There was no amusement In the place, not even so much as a moving-picture show, and everybody went to bed at nine o'clock every night because there was no other place to go. One day a tramp was caught beg ging In the streets of this town and was promptly arrested and arralgnod before the justice of the peace. After hearing the evidence the mag istrate put on his sternest look and said: ‘‘lt appears from the testimony presented here that you are a vagrant without visible means of support. In order that you may not become a charge upon the taxpayers of a re spectable community I sentence you to leave this town In three hours." “Aw Judge," pleaded the tramp, with a look of abject terror on his face, “have a heart, won’t yer 1 I didn't do nuthln' but ask a guy fer a nickel. Please don't make me stay In dls burg all dat time. Make it three minutes, Judge, can’t yer?” A girl thinks she has made good as soon as she hypnotizes some young man Into buying her an engagement ring. All He Wanted and More. “Did you ever have all yer wanted of anything?” "Yes; two things—advice and wa ter." Ever Eat Grape-Nuts? There’s a vast army of physical and mental workers who do. One reason —its deli cious nut-like flavour. Another —it is easily and quickly digested generally in about one hour. But the big reason is— Grape-Nuts, Lesides hav ing delicious taste, sup plies all the rich nutri ment of whole wheat and malted barley, including the “vital” mineral salts necessary for building brain, nerve and muscle. Always ready to eat direct from the package, Grape-Nuts with cream or good milk is a well balanced ration —the ut most in sound nourish ment. “There’s a Reason” —sold by Grocers.