The Turtles of Tasman by Jack London


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Page 2

"He always laughs and says I'll never be able to get along
with you. But I don't agree with him. Besides, I've never seen
a really, truly blood relative in my life, and there's your
daughter. Think of it!--a real live cousin!

"In anticipation,
"Your niece,
"BRONISLAWA PLASKOWEITZKAIA TRAVERS.

"P.S. You'd better telegraph the money, or you won't see Dad
at all. He doesn't know how sick he is, and if he meets any
of his old friends he'll be off and away on some wild goose
chase. He's beginning to talk Alaska. Says it will get the
fever out of his bones. Please know that we must pay the
boarding house, or else we'll arrive without luggage.

"B.P.T."


Frederick Travers opened the door of a large, built-in safe and
methodically put the letters away in a compartment labelled "Thomas
Travers."

"Poor Tom! Poor Tom!" he sighed aloud.


II

The big motor car waited at the station, and Frederick Travers thrilled
as he always thrilled to the distant locomotive whistle of the train
plunging down the valley of Isaac Travers River. First of all westering
white-men, had Isaac Travers gazed on that splendid valley, its
salmon-laden waters, its rich bottoms, and its virgin forest slopes.
Having seen, he had grasped and never let go. "Land-poor," they had
called him in the mid-settler period. But that had been in the days when
the placers petered out, when there were no wagon roads nor tugs to draw
in sailing vessels across the perilous bar, and when his lonely grist
mill had been run under armed guards to keep the marauding Klamaths off
while wheat was ground. Like father, like son, and what Isaac Travers
had grasped, Frederick Travers had held. It had been the same tenacity
of hold. Both had been far-visioned. Both had foreseen the
transformation of the utter West, the coming of the railroad, and the
building of the new empire on the Pacific shore.

Frederick Travers thrilled, too, at the locomotive whistle, because,
more than any man's, it was his railroad. His father had died still
striving to bring the railroad in across the mountains that averaged a
hundred thousand dollars to the mile. He, Frederick, had brought it in.
He had sat up nights over that railroad; bought newspapers, entered
politics, and subsidised party machines; and he had made pilgrimages,
more than once, at his own expense, to the railroad chiefs of the East.
While all the county knew how many miles of his land were crossed by the
right of way, none of the county guessed nor dreamed the number of his
dollars which had gone into guaranties and railroad bonds. He had done
much for his county, and the railroad was his last and greatest
achievement, the capstone of the Travers' effort, the momentous and
marvellous thing that had been brought about just yesterday. It had
been running two years, and, highest proof of all of his judgment,
dividends were in sight. And farther reaching reward was in sight. It
was written in the books that the next Governor of California was to be
spelled, Frederick A. Travers.

Twenty years had passed since he had seen his elder brother, and then it
had been after a gap of ten years. He remembered that night well. Tom
was the only man who dared run the bar in the dark, and that last time,
between nightfall and the dawn, with a southeaster breezing up, he had
sailed his schooner in and out again. There had been no warning of his
coming--a clatter of hoofs at midnight, a lathered horse in the stable,
and Tom had appeared, the salt of the sea on his face as his mother
attested. An hour only he remained, and on a fresh horse was gone, while
rain squalls rattled upon the windows and the rising wind moaned through
the redwoods, the memory of his visit a whiff, sharp and strong, from
the wild outer world. A week later, sea-hammered and bar-bound for that
time, had arrived the revenue cutter _Bear_, and there had been a
column of conjecture in the local paper, hints of a heavy landing of
opium and of a vain quest for the mysterious schooner _Halcyon_. Only
Fred and his mother, and the several house Indians, knew of the
stiffened horse in the barn and of the devious way it was afterward
smuggled back to the fishing village on the beach.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 15th Dec 2019, 20:55