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"You have saved my light, and perhaps my life," he said weakly,
taking her hand.

Possibly she did not understand him, for her only answer was a
vague smile. But the next instant she started up, listening
intently, and then with a frightened cry drew away her hand and
suddenly dashed out of the building. In the midst of his amazement
the door was darkened by a figure--a stranger dressed like an
ordinary miner. Pausing a moment to look after the flying Olooya,
the man turned and glanced around the room, and then with a coarse,
familiar smile approached Pomfrey.

"Hope I ain't disturbin' ye, but I allowed I'd just be neighborly
and drop in--seein' as this is gov'nment property, and me and my
pardners, as American citizens and tax-payers, helps to support it.
We're coastin' from Trinidad down here and prospectin' along the
beach for gold in the sand. Ye seem to hev a mighty soft berth of
it here--nothing to do--and lots of purty half-breeds hangin'
round!"

The man's effrontery was too much for Pomfrey's self-control,
weakened by illness. "It IS government property," he answered
hotly, "and you have no more right to intrude upon it than you have
to decoy away my servant, a government employee, during my illness,
and jeopardize that property."

The unexpectedness of this attack, and the sudden revelation of the
fact of Pomfrey's illness in his flushed face and hollow voice
apparently frightened and confused the stranger. He stammered a
surly excuse, backed out of the doorway, and disappeared. An hour
later Jim appeared, crestfallen, remorseful, and extravagantly
penitent. Pomfrey was too weak for reproaches or inquiry, and he
was thinking only of Olooya.

She did not return. His recovery in that keen air, aided, as he
sometimes thought, by the herbs she had given him, was almost as
rapid as his illness. The miners did not again intrude upon the
lighthouse nor trouble his seclusion. When he was able to sun
himself on the sands, he could see them in the distance at work on
the beach. He reflected that she would not come back while they
were there, and was reconciled. But one morning Jim appeared,
awkward and embarrassed, leading another Indian, whom he introduced
as Olooya's brother. Pomfrey's suspicions were aroused. Except
that the stranger had something of the girl's superiority of
manner, there was no likeness whatever to his fair-haired
acquaintance. But a fury of indignation was added to his
suspicions when he learned the amazing purport of their visit. It
was nothing less than an offer from the alleged brother to SELL his
sister to Pomfrey for forty dollars and a jug of whiskey!
Unfortunately, Pomfrey's temper once more got the better of his
judgment. With a scathing exposition of the laws under which the
Indian and white man equally lived, and the legal punishment of
kidnaping, he swept what he believed was the impostor from his
presence. He was scarcely alone again before he remembered that
his imprudence might affect the girl's future access to him, but it
was too late now.

Still he clung to the belief that he should see her when the
prospectors had departed, and he hailed with delight the breaking
up of the camp near the "sweat-house" and the disappearance of the
schooner. It seemed that their gold-seeking was unsuccessful; but
Pomfrey was struck, on visiting the locality, to find that in their
excavations in the sand at the estuary they had uncovered the
decaying timbers of a ship's small boat of some ancient and
obsolete construction. This made him think of his strange dream,
with a vague sense of warning which he could not shake off, and on
his return to the lighthouse he took from his shelves a copy of the
old voyages to see how far his fancy had been affected by his
reading. In the account of Drake's visit to the coast he found a
footnote which he had overlooked before, and which ran as follows:
"The Admiral seems to have lost several of his crew by desertion,
who were supposed to have perished miserably by starvation in the
inhospitable interior or by the hands of savages. But later
voyagers have suggested that the deserters married Indian wives,
and there is a legend that a hundred years later a singular race of
half-breeds, bearing unmistakable Anglo-Saxon characteristics, was
found in that locality." Pomfrey fell into a reverie of strange
hypotheses and fancies. He resolved that, when he again saw
Olooya, he would question her; her terror of these men might be
simply racial or some hereditary transmission.

But his intention was never fulfilled. For when days and weeks had
elapsed, and he had vainly haunted the river estuary and the rocky
reef before the lighthouse without a sign of her, he overcame his
pride sufficiently to question Jim. The man looked at him with
dull astonishment.

"Olooya gone," he said.

"Gone!--where?"

The Indian made a gesture to seaward which seemed to encompass the
whole Pacific.

"How? With whom?" repeated his angry yet half-frightened master.

"With white man in ship. You say YOU no want Olooya--forty dollars
too much. White man give fifty dollars--takee Olooya all same."





Under the Redwoods by Bret Harte
Category:
General Fiction
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