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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesBurning Daylight - PART II - Chapter XXIV
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Burning Daylight - PART II - Chapter XXIV Post by :Hugosan Category :Long Stories Author :Jack London Date :March 2011 Read :1563

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Burning Daylight - PART II - Chapter XXIV

Three days later, Daylight rode to Berkeley in his red car. It
was for the last time, for on the morrow the big machine passed
into another's possession. It had been a strenuous three days,
for his smash had been the biggest the panic had precipitated in
California. The papers had been filled with it, and a great cry
of indignation had gone up from the very men who later found that
Daylight had fully protected their interests. It was these
facts, coming slowly to light, that gave rise to the widely
repeated charge that Daylight had gone insane. It was the
unanimous conviction among business men that no sane man could
possibly behave in such fashion. On the other hand, neither his
prolonged steady drinking nor his affair with Dede became public,
so the only conclusion attainable was that the wild financier
from Alaska had gone lunatic. And Daylight had grinned and
confirmed the suspicion by refusing to see the reporters.

He halted the automobile before Dede's door, and met her with his
same rushing tactics, enclosing her in his arms before a word
could be uttered. Not until afterward, when she had recovered
herself from him and got him seated, did he begin to speak.

"I've done it," he announced. "You've seen the newspapers, of
course. I'm plumb cleaned out, and I've just called around to
find out what day you feel like starting for Glen Ellen. It'll
have to be soon, for it's real expensive living in Oakland these
days. My board at the hotel is only paid to the end of the week,
and I can't afford to stay after that. And beginning with
to-morrow I've got to use the street cars, and they sure eat up
the nickels."

He paused, and waited, and looked at her. Indecision and trouble
showed on her face. Then the smile he knew so well began to grow
on her lips and in her eyes, until she threw back her head and
laughed in the old forthright boyish way.

"When are those men coming to pack for me?" she asked.

And again she laughed and simulated a vain attempt to escape his
bearlike arms.

"Dear Elam," she whispered; "dear Elam." And of herself, for
the first time, she kissed him.

She ran her hand caressingly through his hair.

"Your eyes are all gold right now," he said. "I can look in them
and tell just how much you love me."

"They have been all gold for you, Elam, for a long time. I
on our little ranch, they will always be all gold."

"Your hair has gold in it, too, a sort of fiery gold." He
turned her face suddenly and held it between his hands and looked
long into her eyes. "And your eyes were full of gold only the
other day, when you said you wouldn't marry me."

She nodded and laughed.

"You would have your will," she confessed. "But I couldn't be a
party to such madness. All that money was yours, not mine. But
I was loving you all the time, Elam, for the great big boy you
are, breaking the thirty-million toy with which you had grown
tired of playing. And when I said no, I knew all the time it was
yes. And I am sure that my eyes were golden all the time. I had
only one fear, and that was that you would fail to lose
everything. Because, dear, I knew I should marry you anyway, and
I did so want just you and the ranch and Bob and Wolf and those
horse-hair bridles. Shall I tell you a secret? As soon as you
left, I telephoned the man to whom I sold Mab."

She hid her face against his breast for an instant, and then
looked at him again, gladly radiant.

"You see, Elam, in spite of what my lips said, my mind was made
up then. I--I simply had to marry you. But I was praying you
would succeed in losing everything. And so I tried to find what
had become of Mab. But the man had sold her and did not know
what had become of her. You see, I wanted to ride with you over
the Glen Ellen hills, on Mab and you on Bob, just as I had ridden
with you through the Piedmont hills."

The disclosure of Mab's whereabouts trembled on Daylight's lips,
but he forbore.

"I'll promise you a mare that you'll like just as much as Mab,"
he said.

But Dede shook her head, and on that one point refused to be

"Now, I've got an idea," Daylight said, hastening to get the
conversation on less perilous ground. "We're running away from
cities, and you have no kith nor kin, so it don't seem exactly
right that we should start off by getting married in a city. So
here's the idea: I'll run up to the ranch and get things in shape
around the house and give the caretaker his walking-papers. You
follow me in a couple of days, coming on the morning train. I'll
have the preacher fixed and waiting. And here's another idea.
You bring your riding togs in a suit case. And as soon as the
ceremony's over, you can go to the hotel and change. Then out
you come, and you find me waiting with a couple of horses, and
we'll ride over the landscape so as you can see the prettiest
parts of the ranch the first thing. And she's sure pretty, that
ranch. And now that it's settled, I'll be waiting for you at the
morning train day after to-morrow."

Dede blushed as she spoke.

"You are such a hurricane."

"Well, ma'am," he drawled, "I sure hate to burn daylight. And
and I have burned a heap of daylight. We've been
scandalously extravagant. We might have been married years ago."

Two days later, Daylight stood waiting outside the little Glen
Ellen hotel. The ceremony was over, and he had left Dede to go
inside and change into her riding-habit while he brought the
horses. He held them now, Bob and Mab, and in the shadow of the
watering-trough Wolf lay and looked on. Already two days of
ardent California sun had touched with new fires the ancient
bronze in Daylight's face. But warmer still was the glow that
came into his cheeks and burned in his eyes as he saw Dede coming
out the door, riding-whip in hand, clad in the familiar corduroy
skirt and leggings of the old Piedmont days. There was warmth
and glow in her own face as she answered his gaze and glanced on
past him to the horses. Then she saw Mab. But her gaze leaped
back to the man.

"Oh, Elam!" she breathed.

It was almost a prayer, but a prayer that included a thousand
meanings Daylight strove to feign sheepishness, but his heart was
singing too wild a song for mere playfulness. All things had
been in the naming of his name--reproach, refined away by
gratitude, and all compounded of joy and love.

She stepped forward and caressed the mare, and again turned and
looked at the man, and breathed:--

"Oh, Elam! "

And all that was in her voice was in her eyes, and in them
Daylight glimpsed a profundity deeper and wider than any speech
or thought--the whole vast inarticulate mystery and wonder of sex
and love.

Again he strove for playfulness of speech, but it was too great a
moment for even love fractiousness to enter in. Neither spoke.
She gathered the reins, and, bending, Daylight received her foot
in his hand. She sprang, as he lifted and gained the saddle.
The next moment he was mounted and beside her, and, with Wolf
sliding along ahead in his typical wolf-trot, they went up the
hill that led out of town--two lovers on two chestnut sorrel
steeds, riding out and away to honeymoon through the warm summer
day. Daylight felt himself drunken as with wine. He was at the
topmost pinnacle of life. Higher than this no man could climb
nor had ever climbed. It was his day of days, his love-time and
his mating-time, and all crowned by this virginal possession of a
mate who had said "Oh, Elam," as she had said it, and looked at
him out of her soul as she had looked.

They cleared the crest of the hill, and he watched the joy mount
in her face as she gazed on the sweet, fresh land. He pointed
the group of heavily wooded knolls across the rolling stretches
ripe grain.

"They're ours," he said. "And they're only a sample of the
ranch. Wait till you see the big canon. There are 'coons down
there, and back here on the Sonoma there are mink. And deer!--
why, that mountain's sure thick with them, and I reckon we can
scare up a mountain-lion if we want to real hard. And, say,
there's a little meadow=-well, I ain't going to tell you another
word. You wait and see for yourself."

They turned in at the gate, where the road to the clay-pit
crossed the fields, and both sniffed with delight as the warm
aroma of the ripe hay rose in their nostrils. As on his first
visit, the larks were uttering their rich notes and fluttering up
before the horses until the woods and the flower-scattered glades
were reached, when the larks gave way to blue jays and

"We're on our land now," he said, as they left the hayfield
behind. "It runs right across country over the roughest parts.
Just you wait and see."

As on the first day, he turned aside from the clay-pit and worked
through the woods to the left, passing the first spring and
jumping the horses over the ruined remnants of the
stake-and-rider fence. From here on, Dede was in an unending
ecstasy. By the spring that gurgled among the redwoods grew
another great wild lily, bearing on its slender stalk the
prodigious outburst of white waxen bells. This time he did not
dismount, but led the way to the deep canon where the stream had
cut a passage among the knolls. He had been at work here, and a
steep and slippery horse trail now crossed the creek, so they
rode up beyond, through the somber redwood twilight, and, farther
on, through a tangled wood of oak and madrono. They came to a
small clearing of several acres, where the grain stood waist

"Ours," Daylight said.

She bent in her saddle, plucked a stalk of the ripe grain, and
nibbled it between her teeth.

"Sweet mountain hay," she cried. "The kind Mab likes."

And throughout the ride she continued to utter cries and
ejaculations of surprise and delight.

"And you never told me all this!" she reproached him, as they
looked across the little clearing and over the descending slopes
of woods to the great curving sweep of Sonoma Valley.

"Come," he said; and they turned and went back through the forest
shade, crossed the stream and came to the lily by the spring.

Here, also, where the way led up the tangle of the steep hill, he
had cut a rough horse trail. As they forced their way up the
zigzags, they caught glimpses out and down through the sea of
foliage. Yet always were their farthest glimpses stopped by the
closing vistas of green, and, yet always, as they climbed, did
the forest roof arch overhead, with only here and there rifts
that permitted shattered shafts of sunlight to penetrate. And
all about them were ferns, a score of varieties, from the tiny
gold-backs and maidenhair to huge brakes six and eight feet tall.

Below them, as they mounted, they glimpsed great gnarled trunks
and branches of ancient trees, and above them were similar great
gnarled branches.

Dede stopped her horse and sighed with the beauty of it all.

"It is as if we are swimmers," she said, "rising out of a deep
pool of green tranquillity. Up above is the sky and the sun, but
this is a pool, and we are fathoms deep."

They started their horses, but a dog-tooth violet, shouldering
amongst the maidenhair, caught her eye and made her rein in

They cleared the crest and emerged from the pool as if into
another world, for now they were in the thicket of velvet-trunked
young madronos and looking down the open, sun-washed hillside,
across the nodding grasses, to the drifts of blue and white
nemophilae that carpeted the tiny meadow on either side the tiny
stream. Dede clapped her hands.

"It's sure prettier than office furniture," Daylight remarked.

"It sure is," she answered.

And Daylight, who knew his weakness in the use of the particular
word sure, knew that she had repeated it deliberately and with

They crossed the stream and took the cattle track over the low
rocky hill and through the scrub forest of manzanita, till they
emerged on the next tiny valley with its meadow-bordered

"If we don't run into some quail pretty soon, I'll be surprised
some," Daylight said.

And as the words left his lips there was a wild series of
explosive thrumming as the old quail arose from all about Wolf,
while the young ones scuttled for safety and disappeared
miraculously before the spectators' very eyes.

He showed her the hawk's nest he had found in the
lightning-shattered top of the redwood, and she discovered a
wood-rat's nest which he had not seen before. Next they took the
old wood-road and came out on the dozen acres of clearing where
wine grapes grew in the wine-colored volcanic soil. Then they
followed the cow-path through more woods and thickets and
scattered glades, and dropped down the hillside to where the
farm-house, poised on the lip of the big canon, came into view
only when they were right upon it.

Dede stood on the wide porch that ran the length of the house
while Daylight tied the horses. To Dede it was very quiet. It
was the dry, warm, breathless calm of California midday. All the
world seemed dozing. From somewhere pigeons were cooing lazily.
With a deep sigh of satisfaction, Wolf, who had drunk his fill at
all the streams along the way, dropped down in the cool shadow of
the porch. She heard the footsteps of Daylight returning, and
caught her breath with a quick intake. He took her hand in his,
and, as he turned the door-knob, felt her hesitate. Then he put
his arm around her; the door swung open, and together they passed

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Burning Daylight - PART II - Chapter XXV Burning Daylight - PART II - Chapter XXV

Burning Daylight - PART II - Chapter XXV
Many persons, themselves city-bred and city-reared, have fled tothe soil and succeeded in winning great happiness. In such casesthey have succeeded only by going through a process of savagedisillusionment. But with Dede and Daylight it was different. They had both been born on the soil, and they knew its nakedsimplicities and rawer ways. They were like two persons, afterfar wandering, who had merely come home again. There was less ofthe unexpected in their dealings with nature, while theirs wasall the delight of reminiscence. What might appear sordid andsqualid to the fastidiously reared, was to them eminentlywholesome

Burning Daylight - PART II - Chapter XXIII Burning Daylight - PART II - Chapter XXIII

Burning Daylight - PART II - Chapter XXIII
"But I know something of the fight you have been making," Dedecontended. "If you stop now, all the work you have done,everything, will be destroyed. You have no right to do it. Youcan't do it."Daylight was obdurate. He shook his head and smiledtantalizingly."Nothing will be destroyed, Dede, nothing. You don't understandthis business game. It's done on paper. Don't you see? Where'sthe gold I dug out of Klondike? Why, it's in twenty-dollar goldpieces, in gold watches, in wedding rings. No matter whathappens to me, the twenty-dollar pieces, the watches, and thewedding rings