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The World As I Have Found It / Sequel to Incidents in the Life of a Blind Girl By Mary L. Day Characters: 6517

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

"And this our life-exempt from public haunt,

Finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in everything."

We next visited San Jose, one of the most romantically, beautiful towns in California, which would require the subtle gift of genius, a touch of poetic fire, and, above all, the fullness and richness of descriptive power, to enable me to give any adequate conception of its charms. It was almost a fairy realm, with its fields of waving grain, then golden with the glow of the harvest season; trees laden with fruitage, and vineyards drooping with their ripe, purple clusters.

One of the prominent attractions of the place was the residence of General Negley, nestling in the centre of extended grounds, combining the richly, blending beauties of nature and art. Groves and streams, rustic bridges and flowing fountains, shrubby labyrinths and flowery dells, were grouped in happiest harmony. Received by the General with the genial hospitality which should characterize the presiding spirit of such an Eden, dispensing itself in so many pleasant ways, we were led from house to garden, and from vineyard to wine press, where all were temptingly lured to taste the freshly pressed grape juice.

It was a novel sight to those accustomed only to white or negro labor, to see the efficient corps of Chinese employees who had proven themselves such valuable servants. It is with some degree of trepidation that I follow a desire which impels me to describe a bunch of grapes I saw in this vineyard. I must beg my readers to free me from any taint of the spirit of the renowned Baron Munchausen, whose intensely magnifying vision threw its impress upon all objects, but, without the faintest degree of exaggeration, I can say, that while I am no Lilliputian in size, I stood, holding with great difficulty, the weight of a single bunch of grapes in my extended hand, while the other end of it rested upon the ground, nor would I dare to tell this grape story unless many of my readers were familiar with the mammoth fruits of California.

After this delightful visit we took the horse car to Santa Clara, and certainly the world cannot boast of a public route so redolent with beauty as this. Both sides of the road are shaded with trees of almost a century's growth; for this "Alameda" was planted by the Jesuit Fathers in 1799. These left the vines and olives of their native Spain, and planted upon the soil of their new home this grove, which was, doubtless, intended as a sacred haunt, never dreaming that its sanctity would be invaded by the sacrilegious sounds of modern civilization, and, above all, by the rumble of the horse car.

All along this beauteous line of shade, musical with the melody of birds, are elegant villas, evidently the abodes of wealth and fashion.

Back again to Sacramento, we met Mr. Charles Cummings, who gave us a general pass over the various stage routes of that portion of the State, and we at once went to Stockton by rail, where we took the stage for the celebrated Calevaros trees. So stupendous appeared every tree upon the route, that a score of times we fancied ourselves nearing the world famed giants, but how did these monsters dwindle into comparative insig

nificance when we found the real grove.

After this tedious, tiresome stage ride, it was indeed a luxury to find ourselves safely ensconced in the large, elegant hotel in the midst of the Calevaros, the season being quite advanced, and in consequence the hotel less crowded. This being one of the few places in the State in which we found cool water, we luxuriated in draught after draught of this crystal, ice-cold beverage, and no fabled fountain of rejuvenating power could have been more exhilarating.

Next morning, in eager anxiety, we took an early look at the great trees, all of which are named for some person of distinction. We stood first beside General Grant, and, as Hattie laid her hand upon the side of the hero, she bade me start around him and see what a distance it would be to find her again. When I was upon the opposite side I felt quite isolated and lonely, and when I regained her companionship it seemed to have been after a long separation. We next took a reverent look at the "Mother of the Forest," which is eighty-seven feet in circumference and four hundred feet in height, and we must confess that these proportions made her look quite like an Amazon. The "Father of the Forest" was quite prostrate, his huge bulk, as he lay upon the ground, seeming that of a fallen hero. Thus in the vegetable as in the animal world, the female has the greater power of endurance. Man, in spite of his conceded superiority of physical strength and supposed mental supremacy, bows before the tornado of life, while woman ofttimes stands erect and fearless amid the storms and winds of years.

The heart of the Father had been bored out, and the hollow converted into a drive, admitting a horse and rider for eighty-seven feet, and allowing them room to turn and go back. I had the pleasure of taking this novel ride, allowing my horse to be led.

Many of my readers have seen, and most of them have heard of the novel dancing-hall in the heart of one of these denizens of the forest, which admits four quadrilles upon its floors, and can imagine the romance of "tripping the light fantastic toe" amid such surroundings. Another tree had been sawed into tablets, upon which each visitor left a name or record. The day previous to our visit, a little boy of eight years old had visited the grove. When his bright eyes rested for a time upon the tablet, his little fingers grasped a piece of chalk, and he readily wrote: "And God said, let there be a Big Tree, and there was a Big Tree."

We looked admiringly upon the "Twin Trees" named for Ingomar and Parthenia, and perhaps like these lovers of old, embodied "two hearts that beat as one." During our three days visit we left no tree unexamined, each one being fraught with individuality, and each in living language addressing our hearts in its own characteristic sentiment.

These veterans varied in age from twelve hundred to twenty-five thousand years, and for their accumulated cycles commanded veneration.

After fully satisfying our love of sight seeing, and taking time to fully contemplate the beauty and sublimity of the wonders, we returned by way of Sonora and Columbia to our temporary home in Sacramento, not only satisfied but highly gratified by our tour.

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