Notes on the text
Notes by David Page. The page and line numbers below refer to the Authorised Edition of Abaft the Funnel published by Doubleday and Page, New York, in 1909.
One pleasant New Year’s eve, about forty years ago, Padre Vicentio was slowly picking his way across the sandhills from the Mission Dolores.[Page 186, line 10] The Sacramento River in California, U.S.A. on which the city of the same name stands. It is the capital of California. The river flows on and into the sea at San Francisco Bay. In From Sea to Sea, chapter XXVI, Kipling describes riding past it in a Pullman car on his train journey from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon. The names he mentions are from various Bret Harte stories.
By the time I had discovered that a profusion of nickel-plating, plush, and damask does not compensate for closeness and dust, the train ran into the daylight on the banks of the Sacramento River. . . . At six in the morning the heat was distinctly unpleasant, but seeing with the eye of the flesh that I was in Bret Harte’s own country, I rejoiced. There were the pines and madrone-clad hills his miners lived and fought among; there was the heated red earth that showed whence the gold had been washed; the dry gulch, the red, dusty road where Hamblin was used to stop the stage in the intervals of his elegant leisure and superior card-play; there was the timber felled and sweating resin in the sunshine; and, above all, there was the quivering pungent heat that Bret Harte drives into your dull brain with the magic of his pen. . . .[Page 186, line 10] Saloon bar or public house (pub.).
A girl came out of the only other house but one, and shading her eyes with a brown hand stared at the panting train. She didn’t recognise me, but I knew her—had known her for years. She was M’liss. She never married the schoolmaster, after all, but stayed, always young and always fair, among the pines. I knew Red-Shirt too. He was one of the bearded men who stood back when Tennessee claimed his partner from the hands of the Law. The Sacramento River, a few yards away, shouted that all these things were true. The train went on while Baby Sylvester stood on his downy head, and M’liss swung her sun-bonnet by the strings.