The candle wick in a shallow pool of tallow flared high, and went out.
"You smile, O poet, and what do you? You lean from your window and watch life's column Trampling and struggling through dust and dew, Filled with its purposes grave and solemn; An act, a gesture, a face - who knows? And you pluck from your bosom the verse that grows, And down it flies like my red, red rose, And you sit and dream as away it goes, And think that your duty is done - now, don't you?"
In the early days it was called the Mountaineer House. Now it is colloquially known as the "stone house," and has for sixty years been the home of the Owen King family. It is surrounded today by one of the most beautiful orchards in the foothills. Wide verandahs of the native gray granite to match the old house itself have been added. It is electrically lighted and furnace heated, modern in every way, yet still the romance of former times seems to cling to its sturdy old walls.
All that remain unchanged are three huge trees flanking the highway in front. What tales they could tell, if they would, of what passed by the junction of two roads beneath them. Of the long and weary caravans from across the plains crawling up from the bridge at Whiskey Bar, below Rattlesnake, glad that their six months' struggle was nearly over: of horsemen on beautiful Spanish horses riding furiously, whither no one knew nor dared ask; of dark deeds in the old stone house below, that was so inscrutably quiet by day and so mysteriously alive by night; of ghastly doings by the Tom Bell gang which ranged all the way from the Oregon border to the southern lakes.
They will never tell all they know - these big old trees - of those who went in by the door and "came out by the cellar" of Tom Bell's stronghold. In the end the place fell, in the war between order and lawlessness and, as the pessimists love to assert, a woman, as usual, was the cause of it. The tale is told:
Rosa Phillips sat in the Mountaineer House strumming a Spanish guitar, and singing,
"There's a turned down page, as some writer says, in every human life, A hidden story of happier days, of peace amidst the strife. A folded down leaf which the world knows not. A love dream rudely crushed, The sight of a face that is not forgot. Although the voice be hushed."
She rose and stood at a window, holding the dusty curtain aside with one white hand and peering cautiously forth into the dusk. A horse was galloping up the Folsom road. The horseman was near - was under the trees in front - was past - and gone down the river road without slackening his animal's rapid gait.