Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/11

This page has been validated.




MAY, 1881.


By Professor DAVID S. JORDAN.

IN the realm of the Northwest Wind, on the boundary-line between the dark fir-forests and the sunny plains, there stands a mountain, a great white cone two miles and a half in perpendicular height. On its lower mile, the dense fir-woods cover it with never-changing green; on its next half-mile, a lighter green of grass and bushes gives place in winter to white; and, on its uppermost mile, the snows of the great Ice age still linger in unspotted purity. The people of Washington Territory say that this mountain is the great "Kingpin of the Universe," which shows that, even in its own country. Mount Rainier is not without honor.

Flowing down from the southwest slope of Mount Rainier is a cold, clear river fed by the melting snows of the mountain. Madly it hastens down over white cascades and beds of shining sands, through birch-woods and belts of dark firs to mingle its waters at last with those of the great Columbia.

This river is the Cowlitz, and on its bottom, not many years ago, there lay half-buried in the sand a number of little orange-colored globules, each about as large as a pea. These were not much in themselves, but, like the philosopher's monads, each one had in it the promise and potency of an active life. In the water above them, little suckers and chubs and prickly sculpins were straining their mouths to draw these globules from the sand, and vicious-looking crawfishes picked them up with their blundering hands and examined them with their telescopic eyes. But one, at least, of the globules escaped their scientific curiosity, else this story would not be worth telling.

The sun shone down on it through the clear water, and the ripples of the Cowlitz said over it their incantations, and in it at last awoke a