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Out Of The Mouth Of Babes
by [?]

Perhaps it was a mere matter of nerves, but it seemed to me that morning that it was the cliffs of the Valley. Those mighty, overshadowing, everlasting walls and towers of the Yosemite seem to be endowed with the power to produce numberless changes of feeling.

Sometimes you gaze at them, and they lift up your spirit and hold it aloft in the free air, and send it up, and up, and up, until it reaches the very blue of heaven, and you know that you are free and powerful and ennobled, made one with the saints and mighty ones of earth.

The next morning you go forth and look up at those silent granite heights, and expect them to repeat their miracle. But they will not. They frown upon you and crush you down into the earth you are made of. Like an accusing conscience, they lift their stern, forbidding faces above you on all sides and look you steadily in the eyes with their insistence upon your unworthiness, until, in despair, you are ready to shut yourself up to escape their persecutions.

Of course, as I said before, it may not be the cliffs at all. It may be nothing but nerves. But I think it is the walls of the Valley.

On that particular morning they had made me bite the dust until I could no longer endure the sight of them. To escape their solemn, contemptuous faces I ran down a little path which led into a dense thicket of young pines and cedars. The trees grew so close together that they shut out all view of everything beyond a few feet on each side of the path. The ground was brown with their cast-off needles, and the air was pungent with their fragrance. Overhead there were glimpses of a smiling blue sky, and the cool, fragrant shadows of the thicket were brightened by patches of gleaming sunshine. The friendly sounds of woodpeckers hammering the trees, and of birds singing among the branches, pleased my ears and diverted my thoughts.

The only reminder of those towering granite Preachers, with their everlasting “All is vanity,” was the roaring and crashing of the Yosemite Falls, which filled the Valley with their thunder and made the air tremble.

The sights, the sounds, the odors, enveloped my senses and filled me with delighted, languorous content. It was very comforting, and I sat down on a log in the edge of a little opening, all pink and fragrant with wild roses, to enjoy the sensuous delight of it all and so take revenge upon the great stone Preachers waiting for me outside the thicket.

Presently there came from beyond the glade a soft, crooning noise, which in an instant more became that sweetest of sounds, the voice of a happy child alone with nature.

A little girl, perhaps four or five years old, came slowly down the path. She was talking to herself and to the trees and birds and squirrels, and even to the brown pine-needles under her feet. Her hat, which she had stuck full of wild roses, hung at the back of her head, the ends of her brown curls just peeping below it. Without the least trace of childish shyness she came straight to where I sat, mounted the log beside me, and asked me to take a thorn from her finger.

“Did it hurt you?” I asked, as I patted the chubby brown fist after the operation. “You are a very brave little girl not to cry.”

“Yes, I know it,” she replied, looking at me with big violet eyes, frank and confiding. She was a beautiful child, with a glorious perfection of feature and complexion. “I ‘m always brave. My papa says so, and my new mamma says so, too. I ‘ve got two mammas–my new mamma and my gone-away mamma. But I like my new mamma best.”