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23 “Cavanagh”and the“Winds of Destiny” No doubt the reader has come to the conclusion,at this point,that my habits as an author were not in the least like those of Burroughs or Howells. There has never been anything cloistered about my life,on the contrary my study has always been a point of departure rather than a cell of meditation. From Elm Street, from the Homestead, I frequently darted away to the plains or the Rocky Mountains,keenly aware of the fact that the miner and cattleman ,the trapper and the trailer were being pushed into ever remoter valleys by the men of the hoe and the spade, and that the customs and habits which the mountaineer had established were about to pass, precisely as the blossoming prairies had long since been broken and fenced and made commonplace by the plow. That the destruction of the eagle and the mountain lion marked another stage of that remorseless march which is called civilization I fully recognized and—in a certain sense—approved,although the raising of billions of hens and pigs admittedly useful,was not to me an inspiring employment of human energy.The long-horn whitefaced steer was more picturesque than a “Mooly” cow. Doubtless a dairyman is a more valuable citizen in the long run than a prospector or miner, but he does not so easily appeal to the imagination.To wade irrigating ditches,hoe in hand,is not incompatible with the noblest manhood, but it is none the less true that men riding the trail or exploring ledges of quartz are more alluring characters to the novelist—at least that was the way I felt in 1909 when I began to shape another book concerning the great drama which was going on in the forests of the High Country. For more than fifteen years, while trailing among the mountains of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, I had seen the Forest Service,under Gifford Pinchot’s leadership,gradually getting into effect.I had seen the silver miner disappear and the army of forest rangers grow from a handful of hardy cowboys and “lonesome 277 Garland_Daughter_to press 10/20/06 3:43 PM Page 277 men” into a disciplined force of over two thousand young foresters who represented in some degree the science and the patriotism of their chief. As in Hesper and The Captain of the Gray Horse Troop I had attempted to depict certain types of the red men,miners and ranchers .I now began to study the mountain vedettes from the point of view of the Forest Ranger, a federal officer who represented our newly acquired ideals of Conservation, and whose duty it was to act as custodian of the National Forests.I decided to write a novel which should, in some degree, delineate the heroic side of this warden’s solitary life as I had seen it and shared it in a half-dozen forests in Colorado,Wyoming and Montana. In this writing I put myself at the opposite pole from the scenes of The Shadow World, a study of psychic phenomena with which I had been deeply involved for a year or more. From dark cabinets in murky seance chambers, from contact with morbid, death-fearing, light-avoiding residents of crowded apartments, I now found myself riding once again ten thousand feet above sea level with men who “took chances” almost every hour of their lives—not from any reckless defiance of death but merely by way of duty, men who lived alone and rode alone, men in whose ears the mountain streams as they fell from the white silences of the snows,uttered songs of exultation.In the presence of these hardy trailers the doings of darkened seance rooms seemed morbid, if not actually insane. The stark heroism of these forest guards, their loyalty to a faroff chieftain (whom they knew only by name) appealed to me with increasing power.Their problem became my problem. More than this they kindled my admiration, for many of them possessed the cowboy’s masterful skill with bronchos, his deft handling of rope and gun and the grace which had made him the most admired figure in our literature,—but in addition to all this, they had something finer, something which the cowboy often lacked. At their best they manifested the loyalty of soldiers.Heedful of the Federal Government, they strove to dispense justice over the lands which had been allotted to their care, and their...


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