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The Bell-Ringer of Angel's by Bret Harte
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Where the North Fork of the Stanislaus River begins to lose its youthful
grace, vigor, and agility, and broadens more maturely into the plain,
there is a little promontory which at certain high stages of water lies
like a small island in the stream. To the strongly-marked heroics of
Sierran landscape it contrasts a singular, pastoral calm. White and
gray mosses from the overhanging rocks and feathery alders trail their
filaments in its slow current, and between the woodland openings there
are glimpses of vivid velvet sward, even at times when the wild oats and
"wire-grasses" of the plains are already yellowing. The placid river,
unstained at this point by mining sluices or mill drift, runs clear
under its contemplative shadows. Originally the camping-ground of a
Digger Chief, it passed from his tenancy with the American rifle bullet
that terminated his career. The pioneer who thus succeeded to its
attractive calm gave way in turn to a well-directed shot from the
revolver of a quartz-prospector, equally impressed with the charm of
its restful tranquillity. How long he might have enjoyed its riparian
seclusion is not known. A sudden rise of the river one March night
quietly removed him, together with the overhanging post oak beneath
which he was profoundly but unconsciously meditating. The demijohn of
whiskey was picked up further down. But no other suggestion of these
successive evictions was ever visible in the reposeful serenity of the
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