TOO MUCH PARADISE
A land that looks to the morrow not too eagerly, nor with too much enthusiasm, for a bountiful nature provides for to-day
SOMEBODY, somewhere, had once told John Eldon that if he wanted to see Aready outside of Arcadia, that if he wanted to discover South Sea Islands beyond the South Seas, or that if he wanted to find life untrammeled and very much as it must have been lived in some of its phases a thousand years ago, then the proper thing would be to buy a ticket on the good ship Emma, or some other coaster, and make such arrangements that Jimmy, the smiling-faced purser, would drop him—
John Eldon— his baggage, and Jimmy’s doubtful blessing, over the side of the vessel at any one of the half score ports to be found on those islands which dot the Pacific out beyond the Hecate Straits.
The spirit of that advice matters not at all.
The point which counts is that it was productive.
For John Eldón was a bit of an iconoclast; he defied Webster, and the only definition he could find for Aready was “opportunity.”
Even on a map of liberal scale, the Queen Charlotte Islands appear to do but little more than occupy space. There are a few romantic names scattered along their two-hundred-odd miles from north to south.
“What are they good for?” John Eldon demanded briskly, when he found the Captain, leaning against the railing of his bridge.
“They help me to find my course at night,” the Captain returned, without even a glance at the speaker. “Beyond that? I have often wondered.”
John Eldon stared.
“Oh!” he said, at length, “I’m talking about the Islands, the Aready, the land of opportunity. There must be great chances over there for a chap like me; but this confounded map doesn’t show where anything’s to be found. Thought you’d know.”
The Captain’s night-tested eyes cut through the darkness and discovered that the speaker was that breezy and energetic person of the thirties who had boarded the Prince John at Prince Rupert. His insistence broke through the Captain’s reserve. He talked so long about the Islands in a modest and mysterious and inquiring way, that at last the Captain’s calm eyes left off gazing at the philosophic stars, and he muttered:
“This way. It’s my own map; made it myself. Charted some of the channels and sandbars. Had to do it, for, goodness knows, the whole coast isn’t explored yet. But it’s resources you’re talking about. Look at that, and that.... and That. ..”
Eldon looked, and his eyes grew wider.
The lure was there. Lumber, timber, myriads of tons of it! Fish, a floundering welter of them. And that greatest magic of them all—gold!
Here and there the land was marked with its resources, and there was a wealth of them. Enough to stir up the instincts of avarice. But all down one coast there was that flaming signal.
The Gold Coast
“X^ES, it’s the Gold Coast,” the Captain said, without Ï enthusiasm, as he caught the extra glitter in John Eldon’s eye. “Sure thing. You always find people where there’s gold. Some, I mean. I don’t, know; might be twenty in there now. Has-been thirty on a good summer, that is, when there’s lots of south-easters.”
“Thirty people on a gold coast? But, gad, man, this map shows the whole coast plastered with it!” the questioner exclaimed; and a certain fever broke out on him as he thought of the thirty other passengers on the good ship Emma and wondered if perchance they were the beginning of a rush to answer the lure of wealth.
“Only eighteen miles of gold,” the Captain corrected patiently. “Yes, they say it’s easy to get, at times. They just scrape it up off the sand on the shore.”
“They just scrape it off the sand?” Eldon’s eyes grew wider still, and the fever grew hotter, “Then for goodness’ sake, why isn’t there an army on the job?”
The Captain shrugged his shoulders philosophically, as though to say that he had caught some of the spirit of the Islands himself, and he turned back to gaze at the far-off
“Too much trouble,” he said, “they just don’t bother.” “Then here’s one little boy who’ll bother. All I ask,
Cap, is that you put me off at the right dock.”
“Speak to Jimmy, the purser, you know. He won’t forget.”
So in due time, in the thin grey of the morning, the Prince John slipped down the shifting channel of Massett Inlet, and John Eldon found himself bustling over the side with a club-bag in either hand, and with Jimmy on the deck grinning his farewells.
“Pick you up next trip,” Jimmy cheered. “And don’t get lost in the muskegs.”
So the steamer slid away again, and the bustling traveler looked about him. Through the thinning mists of the morning there were a half dozen faces to be seem. There was a man with a bag of mail in his hands, there were two lumberjacks, and there were three Indian children who had come down to greet an Indian mother, the only other passenger to be thrust over the edge of the vessel at this port by Jimmy the purser.
The gold rush, John Eldon reflected, had probably net ripened yet.
“Where’s the best hotel?” he demanded of the departing mail-man.
“Best?” the man stared; then slowly his eyes took in the voyager’s natty figure. “The Vancouver, six hundred miles away; but if you’re thinking of stopping at Port Clements long, somebody’ll put you up. That’s the hotel there, with all them purty boards nailed across the window. Yes, it closed down two-three years ago when
the lumbering business went up......But you ain’t come
to start something, have you, stranger?”
The phrase, significant as it is, has varying meanings in different localities; but just now John Eldon decided that it was innocent enough.
“Might,” he said, “if I saw something big enough .. .
“Then you’re just the man we’ve been needing here for
years,” the mail-man gavé his judgment, “but don’t be in any too big hurry jumping into anything. There’s so many things about here that a man ought to take time. Now, there’s two or three good places for lumber mills, and there’s a couple around the Inlet somewhere or other which used to. run, but closed down. We could do with a canning plant in here, or a crab-factory, but you’re too far south for whales. And then there’s some grand land for farming; but I s'pose you’re too big a man for anything of that kind.”
The Land of Opportunity
ELDON reflected. Opportunities, it was plain, were overflowing from the lap of the land of Aready. They were pouring upon him in confusing profusion.
“There don’t happen to be any minerals around here?” he asked.
“We’re just over-run with them,” the citizen assured. “There’s coal, and iron and copper and silver and gold.. .”
“Then I’ll just rustle some breakfast, and if you’ll have a motor ready for me in an hour, I’ll start out looking some things over. How far did you say it was over to the Gold Coast?”
The package of mail almost slipped from the hands of the citizen of Port Clements, and he stood there for some time, staring at every detail of the traveler, from the tips of his shining auburn shoes to the crease of his velvet hat.. In that moment it seemed that he came to a sad decision.
“The Gold Coast ain’t more’n fifteen miles across country,” he spoke1 listlessly, as he. had first spoken. “But these Islands ain’t more’n two hundred miles long and they ain’t more’n seventy-five wide at the widest spot. Now, where’d you think we got any use for a motor car up here? ■ There ain’t a car this side of the mainland. I could go over and get Sid Whalen to come in with his ox-cart, but we do our own walking in this part of the country.”
The suggestion was adequate, so John Eldon wandered up the wooden way, through the wooden town, and he wondered at the queer little houses fringing the route of that narrow, winding plank walk that made up the sole and only street which came to greet his eyes. That planked highway rambled through the stumps ana the houses, and once, when he stopped to stare about him, he picked some wild berries which had forced their way over the edge of the wooden roadway. Some Haida children tramped by, on the far side stolid, wide-eyed and curious; and when he looke'i past them, he saw that the rambling roadway vanished somewhere beyond the curves into the pine forests which blotted out the whole world of normal distance.
So John Eldon brea Masted with the mail-carrying post-master, and in time it developed that the official’s name was Mackeall, and that in addition to making the only public coffee in the community for the benefit of stray lumberjacks and fisherfolk, he had a complete corner on the mercantile transactions for the district.
“Now, what we want is action,” Eldon bounded to his feet; “fifteen miles, you say? I’ll throw a pack together and be over at the Gold Coast by night.”
Mackeall glanced up from his week-old newspaper, and asked laconically:
“Where you going to get a tent? You might get across to Tellel; that’s on the East' Coast, but that’s smaller than this place, and since they pack everything in from here, I know they ain’t got a tent. There’s one over at Buckley Bay; leastways there was a month ago, because Bill Parsons told me he’s going to borrow it from the Indian Agent. Bill, he hunts once in a while; but he’s a shiftless cuss; and if he’s got that tent, it won’t
be back till fail, and you won’t bë able tó go into the Gold Coast till next summer.”
John Eldon sat down on the edge of a combination sofa-bed running across one end of Mackeall’s cabin, and he began to reflect, seriously, for the first time since he had left Vancouver six hundred miles to the South.
A youngster of ten strolled in, looked for a time at the «nsorted mail on the floor, and made a bold remark.
“Dad wants his paper,” he declared.
“Ain’t sorted yet; get out.” Mackeall returned to a perusal of the newspaper which was already passing into history; but the youngster was persistent.
“Dad’s gonna sail over Buckley Bay way this afternoon, and he wants the paper, ’cause he thinks maybe he'll have to wait a couple of days before the sawmill opens,”
"Huh,” Mackeall conceded, as he plunged into the mail sack. “If they’re turning out a stick there, short of a year, I’m a duffer. Dad’s kinda previous, ain’t he, Jimmy? If he got there a year after the mill opened, it’d be more natural. Now get out; you’re a nuisance.” jimmy got out, with a grin on his lips. Mackeall returned to his paper.
Problems in Procrastination
PERHAPS I’d better run over to Buckley Bay with that kid’s dad this afternoon to see about that tent,” he ventured; but Mackeall’s eyes did not pause in their reading.
“How’d you get back?” he demanded, “Jimmy’s dad is going over there in that one-horse fishing tug of his, and don’t you go thinking he’s looking for a job. The only thing that’d drive Jack Kelvin back here inside a week would be the whining of the saws in the mill what ain’t going to open. So you see?”
As a matter of fact, John Eldon did not see. He gathered that there was an essential tent somewhere; but that there was, all about him, a vast indifference to the routine of life.
“I say,” he burst out so impetuously that Mackeall dropped his paper, “I’m going over to the Gold Coast, and I’ve got'to have that tent and all the rest of the outfit, and I’m not going to wait till next summer to do it. What you people need around here is somebody to jack a little life into you.”
“No, ’tain’t that,” Mackeall corrected calmly and unoffended, “what we need is somebody to come in here with money and develop the country. Why, look at me! I had half this town surveyed off into lots three years ago; spent my own money, ’cause they told me the saw-mill was going to build double. Well, it ain’t done it; it’s closed altogether now. That’s what we want; somebody to come in here and develop the country. The place is just running over with good chances for a young man with money.
There’s timber and fish and land and minerals..
“Then why don’t you take your feet down off the counter and get me that tent?”
Mackeall considered the harsh remark carefully.
“I’ll talk to Kelvin about it,” he made his concession, “that is, if I see him before he goes. But I’m telling you, there ain’t anything to be gained by hurrying.”
But Eldon, being filled with the thrill of the Gold Coast, talked about it, and finally paraded his wonder at this great sloth towards the lure of riches.
“For goodness sake,” he demanded, “why aren’t you over there now? You say they scrape the gold up in their hands; then why don’t you go?”
“Been there once,”
Mackeall declared. “Sure, you scrape up the gold in your hands; but you got to wait for a south-easter. Too much bother. Though there’s always some folks from the outside try it every summer.”
Being vigorous with the thrill of life and eager for a rap at the world, Eldon pressed his point in favor of his Arcady.
“Then why don’t you saw up some of this timber I see all around?”
“Takés money. Ain’t got it; don’t know where I’d get it. That’s what I’m telling you; somebody’s got to come in here with money.”
“Then why don’t you fish?”
“Do,” Mackeall declared in triumph. “Went out last week; got a hundred pounds in an hour. Take another week to eat it”
“But I mean fish,” Eldon interrupted impatiently. “Open up a packing plant. Fish in a big way.”
“Oh, the Indians do that,” the patient Mackeall informed wearily. “Thought you knew that. There’s no more than enough packing plants now to keep the Indians going. They got to make a living somehow; can’t crowd them out of a job.”
“But what I mean is start a new plant; get the big wheelg turning.” Mackeall nodded solemnly and ‘reflectively')
“You’re rightj stranger, ” hé admitted. “Somebody’ll do thftti some day.”
The yöüth and vitality of the visitor were being held under difficult restraint, but there was still another point which was too close at hand, too obvious, to pass by.
“Then why don’t you farm?” he demanded. “It doesn’t take a capitalist to come in and open up a farm in Arcady.”
“In what?” Mackeall asked. “Oh, I see. No, it don’t; and you just ought to go in and see Professor Dubrow’s place. Say, but that’s the spot. He’s only been here ten years, and he’s got a mile and a half of corduroy road built; and he’s got two team of oxen. You just got to see that place, or Ben Tinker’s. Ben’s got the best oat farm around here; wonderful opportunities for a young man.
“Ben Tinker’s one of our live wires; and you got to meet him. He come in here five, or six years ago, a young chap like you, with lots of get-up-and-go to him; and now he’s got what I call the best farm on the whole of the Queen Charlottes, and he’s one of our leading citizens.”
Eldon rose briskly to his feet.
“Then he’s the sort of chap I want to see,” he declared. “Where do you find his farm? He might have a tent to spare.”
“Just follow the plank road to the end of the town and take the trail through the pines to the left. You’ll come to Ben’s place about five mile out. You can’t miss it; for it’s a ten-acre clearing...”
“Ten acres?” Eldon gasped, and he sat down again somewhat weakly.
Something in that seemed to touch the pride of Mack-
eall, for he bridled to the defence of “The Islands’ ” leading agriculturist. .
“He’s going to have two more acres to oats a year from next summer,” he began, angrily; then subsided, as though even anger were not worth the pains.
For a time after that, the visitor and Mackeall stared at each other, in search for the dawn of understanding. Eldon was the first to recover his voice; and when he spoke again, there was less of impatience and eagerness in
his tónés—á resignation to the general lethargy.
“Then what do you do up here?” he asked, and the inflection somehow seemed sympathetic.
“A lot of things,” Mackeall nodded, “but there’s one thing we don’t do, and that’s worry. I used to be young and on my toes just like you, stranger, when I came here twenty years ago; but you get over that here. It ain’t worth while. Why, there’s lots of things to do. You fish and you hunt and you dream; and you tell every stranger you see that the thing we want is capital... Why, see' what a saw-mill would do for my town lots. And I guess it’ll build double some day; that is, if it ever opens again. Say, stranger, you stay here a while and you’ll see things the way I do. I just picked up that there Province paper from Vancouver, and what does it say? Talks already about whether they’ll be having bread lines this winter. Say, stranger, I’m laughing all over, Why, all we got to do is get hungry, then we hold the front door open and let some more fish run in, or partridge, or whatever you want. And you talk about living in a city? There ain’t anything to worry about here; it all comes to you. You just stay a couple of years, stranger, and you’ll be as good as any of us.”
Once more the visitor rose hurriedly to his feet; and he threw out protesting hands.
“Heaven forbid!” he exclaimed. “I’m good enough' now; and I want that tent. It’s the Gold Coast for me, and not lotus-land. Say, Mackeall, I’ve got too much dash to snuggle down in a place like this and let thesalmon swim in the front door. Now, stand off and watch my smoke; it’ll do you good. Unless,” he added, as an .after-thought, “you want to come along, Oh, yepet of Homer!”
Mackeall shrugged his shoulders patiently.
“I won’t bother,” he decided. “It’s too much trouble.”
So he and various others of the tribe of lotus-eaters sat down to watch the smoke of the stranger and within a week they found that he had dug up a Haida Indian witha gasoline fishing-boat, that they had been to Buckley Bay and back, a journey of at least thirty miles, thattheyhad rescued the Island tent from Bill Parsons—for Bill, after all, had decided to postpone his hunting until next season—and that he was all decked out in bright new goods, ready for the perils of the Muskeg Trail leading from the Inlet across a wing of the Island to the eastern Gold Coast.
.Two days later, when Eldon floundered his way out through the muskeg to Tellel, the glittering costume was: as stained and draggled as anything which Mackeall had ever worn; but somehow or other, when he caught a glimpse of the high wooded shore, with a lazy surf idling its way over the lure of the yellow sands, and with the long, listless stretch of the sea melting and blending with the haze of the horizon, the problem of costume did not seem to matter after all.
At Tellel an Indian or two, and an odd white, strayed down to watch him uncritically; and when he asked, a little less briskly, for the Gold Coast somebody nodded and pointed towards the shimmering mystery of those gleaming sands.
“Eighteen miles of it, gold strewn. And nobody here to work it!” Eldon’s voice wrestled with the problem, and some time later somebody answered.
“You’ll find two or three camps down the coast a ways. Straight ahead; can’t miss them.” He did find a camp the next day, five miles down the coast; but there was about it none of the magic fever of a gold rush.
A woman was sitting there in the sun, with the odor of the pines all about her, and with the whiff of the salt sea in the air, and she was blowing gold from sand. She sat there, with an idle breeze at her back; she dipped her fingers into a vessel of blackish sand, and as the substance trickled through the air, she blew upon it lightly. Black specks drifted away through the air, while thin, gjeaming yellow ones fell to the cloth beneath.
Eldon looked away from the woman’s eyes, at
Continued on page 47
Too Much Paradise
Continued from page 31
those small glittering flakes, and he knew them for gold.
“Hello,” she said calmly, and went on blowing.
Eldon watched her for an hour or more, fascinated. The sand in the vessel was black, and the gold was glittering, like flecks of sunshine dropping through the air. The woman worked on, dipping, blowing, dipping, monotonously; the pile of black sand dwindled, and the thin riffle of gold grew, almost imperceptibly.
Then he looked about him; but as far as the eye could reach, that sand upon the shore was yellow, and it was like any other sand to be found on a myriad shores of the sea.
“Where’d you get it?” he asked, nodding towards the flakes of gold.
“Gotta wait until a south-easter blows; then the gold comes up from the sea,” the woman smiled. “At least, we like to think so. It is more romantic, you know. Where it really comes from, we do not know. But after a south-easter, this shore, miles and miles of it, is strewn with this black sand . And see the gold in it, gleaming!”
The fever came to the stranger’s veins once more, and tormented him until it shone from his eyes. The woman nodded again, and smiled.
“I used to feel like that,” she confessed. “Going to stay? Allright. Bob will be back after a while to help with your tent. Pick a spot. Any place will do. There’ll be a south-easter, sometime.”
So he picked a spot, beneath tne pines, where the caress of the sea-breeze fanned his cheeks; and through the days which followed he set up his sluice-boxes and his riffles; and then he drifted through the lazy days, waiting until that southeaster should dim the skies. At times, he blew sand for the woman; at times he went out in Bob Armstrong’s tiny craft to be rocked in the arms of the Pacific; at times they all three hunted for treasure like children cast upon an idle shore. For there was treasure, yes. Tradition had placed it there. Tradition had gone back to the old days when the Haida warriors had raged along the Pacific with the scalplocks blowing in the breeze, and when there had been officials of the Hudson Bay Company, and war and death, and treasures of gold, all interwoven and blended into one wild paean of the past. Yes, somewhere, on the Islands, on the shore, or in the waters beneath, there was an inch-wide vein of virgingold cleaving its way through the rock for unmeasured space; or at least tradition had placed it there. Tradition had woven about it a mystery of war and death, and had buried the key with the mystery.
So Eldon and Bob Armstrong and the woman drifted through the listless days. There were other camps, on the coast below; but the stranger just stayed on, in the tent beneath the pines; and when a month slipped away, and still there was no south-easter, it did not seem to matter quite so much after all.
When the South Easter Blows
THEN the sky grew dim, and black, in the east, and the first spindrift was caught from the tips of the waves. For five days and five nights the south-easter raged and lashed at the coast of gold; then on a brightening morning Eldon strolled down to the shore. Nor did he pause to reflect that a month ago he would have sat through the nights waiting for the rage of the storm to spend itself, and that in the morning he would have rushed for that black sand which was the cradle of gold.
The woman was the e first, looking down upon the welter of wreckage which the storm had left behind it. John Eldon looked, stared, then drew back in wonder. For the coast, as far as the eye could see, was a litter of driftwood. It was piled up in places, three, five, eight feet high; but showing through its tangle there was the shimmer of black sand. With the fire springing up once more in his veins, he leaped down through the slippery mass, and scraped up a double-handful of black, as it lay spread out there like veneer upon the yellow of sand beneath.
Flecks of gold glinted back in the sunshine and touched the greed of his eyes.
“Now, this is where we get busy,” he exclaimed.
By night, after racking toil, he had cast aside some of that driftwood; he had stretched his sluice box down the sand; then in came the tide, and when its whim had played itself out, John Eldon’s work lay there undone. For a week he struggled; lie fought frantically with the driftwood and the tide to recover little pyramids of that black sand, a handful here, a handful there; and with each tide which came in and went out again he watched that treasure of black sand creeping back to the sea which had borne it.. Then at last it was gone, and the driftwood with it; and there came more days of golden sunshine, and the blowing of sand, and the searching for treasure.
The Lotus Land
WHEN the unbroken south-easters of Fall drove them out, he discovered that he had earned fair wages, even for the days he had idled, and so he had more than enough to carry him through until the Spring which must follow. He drifted back to Port Clements and there he met Mackeall again.
John Eldon nodded solemnly.
“Tons of gold there,” he said calmly. “What we need is some big company, or somebody with capital to come in and work it properly. The Armstrongs told me that a camp down the coast was trying out an amalgam this summer, but that it didn’t work.”
Mackeall agreed; and then Eldon wandered on, and in time he found himself at the “ranch” of Ben Tinker, the Island’s leading agriculturist. Ben was struggling with ditches and muskeg, so Eldon lent a hand. In that way he came to know Ben Tinker well, and by New Year’s he felt that he might talk freely.
“You got twelve acres clear now, Ben; but where does it get you?” he asked. “You raise oats, but you can’t send them to the mainland, and nobody wants them around here. There’s no use having a saddle horse, for there are no trails leading anywhere; so you raise oats to feed horses to raise oats. And you raise oats to feed a few cattle and sheep to eat; and while you do it, you’ve got to shoot the rabbits to keep them from eating the oats. So why don’t you eat the rabbits first and let it go at that?”
Through the Winter, what little there was of it, he wandered and hunted and fished. Sometimes he idled about a lumber camp somewhere along the coast; but once at Massett he made his big mistake. He showered two coppers upon a solemn-eyed Haida child; and from that time on, wherever he went, he had a personal following of a score or more of those solemn-faced, broad-cheeked ones who seem to be the only living remnants of a once warlike tribe which brought terror to the coast. Then he left Massett, driven out by the swirl of popularity; and the Spring found him back at Ben Tinker’s. Ben was sowing more oats, and keeping the rabbits away.
But the Winter had cost Eldon so little that he could not see the gain of that.
“A couple of handfuls of black sand would buy all the meat two families could eat in a year,” he figured it out. “Let’s go back to the Gold Coast, Ben.”
They went, with Mrs. Tinker and two small Tinkers in the train. They idled, blew sand, and waited for the southeasters, and when Fall drove them out once more, the oats were still standing, a little rabbit-bitten, a little over-ripe, but still serviceable. Ben Tinker forgot to dig ditches that Winter for the reclamation of more acres, though there was but one flurry of snow which lasted for a half-dozen days and only one crackling of ice upon the ponds.
“Let’s get a mine somewhere,” Eldon suggested the next Spring; so they went out and staked a half-dozen claims in the iron and copper districts; and towards the middle of the Summer they did a little work around the canning plant at Wattoon Bay. In the Fall, .Mackeall suggested that they open another town, for rumor had warned them that a new lumber mill might be coming in. So they picked a site, measured it off in town lots, and left it there.
“What we need,” said Tinker that Fall, “is somebody to come in here with money to develop this place. We’ve got mining claims and town lots and
farming land; but unless somebody comes along with money, it’s no use.”
John Eldon agreed solemnly; then he wandered some more. He tried a little whaling next season, but it was too mussy.
He blew a little more gold from the black sand; and he got into the habit of picking up the Vancouver papers and was watching for those items about the bread-lines in the cities. Whenever he saw such an item, he would pick up gun or fishing outfit and he would laugh quietly at those worries of a far-off world. Life here demanded so little of him, in effort or toil; it had so many returns in leisure. The spirit of lotus-land had breathed upon him. And that is a thing which creeps calmly upon one, which steals into the blood with steps too slow to be measured. It is a phase of living which has to be felt to be known.
Last summer John Eldon was still there, wandering idly up and down the coast, searching vaguely for treasures of mind and of matter. I found him on the dock at Lockport, with the thin trickle of a score or so of houses outspread along the foothills behind him, with snowtipped mountains seemingly within reach of his hands, and with a little crescent of a bay pocketed there in the sunshine. The rest of the world was somewhere, beyond sight and sound; but when he stood there on the dock and lazily caught a rope as it was tossed overboard from the good ship Prince John, there was nothing in his manner to indicate that those far-off things of the world could ever matter again.
“Where to?” he asked, after a while, as his eye met mine.
“Gold Coast. They tell me it is a wonderful spot up there. Coming along?”
He pondered that for a time.
“Guess not,” he declared, “been there; and it’s too much trouble. Don’t think I’ll bother.” Then, some time later, he added, “You haven’t brought money to invest, have you?....No, thought not. Brought a few thousand myself a few years ago, but I didn’t bother. It wasn’t enough... But what we want is somebody to come in here with capital and open up the place. . .. ”
He was still talking capital when the ship drifted away from the dock; so we waved hands and parted, ships which had spoken in the night.
Yes, he is coming back some time,— next year, or the year after. . or the year after that...or that... But having breathed once of the lotus, who dare say what year it will be?
Beautiful Slumbering Islands
SUCH are the Queen Charlottes, Canada’s careless isles, flung down there in the sunshine beyond the coast of the Pacific. Slumbering isles, which somehow make one think of a cat yawning and blinking lazily in the sun! Beautiful isles, with their mantle of green and of snowtipped mountains about them; wonderful isles, where, as the poet would have us believe, life glides on like rivers that water the woodlands; primitive isles, where life is fundamental and unspoiled in the making.
They are there, as any map of Canada will show you, flung into the Pacific; and they are to be reached, as the steamship agents will tell you, by the Government line running out of Vancouver or Prince Rupert, running once a fortnight perhaps, sometimes oftener, sometimes less. The Islands are there, drowsing mostlj ; sometimes turning angrily from their snatches of sleep to demand that help which the rest of the world has never given them. The Islanders are there, perhaps a thousand whites, perhaps, as many more Haidas, spread over a vast space; and they are proud of their possibilities, proud of their green forests, of their darting schools of fish, of their unworked farming lands, of their untapped mountains of ore; but most of all they are proud of their para-
A few canning mills, crab plants and whaling stations are running with every season which makes the call; and at times a lumber mill here or there will shriek into life for a few months, or years. But for the most part it is paradise.
And except for the transients who come and go, and who are so fevered with the throb of living that they cannot catch the breath of the lotus, the Islanders are,
for the most part, those who know the spirit of John Eldon. They dream through many a day in a land which has so little to ask, and so much to give.
And, with that lingering odor of the lotus still stirring up visions of careless days beside a lazy surf on an idle shore, how can one say that the dream is not the reality, after all?