Bound For California
With buoyant heart he left his home for that bright wond’rous land
Where gold ore gleams in countless mines, and gold dust strews the sand;
And youth’s dear ties were riven all, for as wild, as vain, a dream
As the meteor false that leads astray the traveller with its gleam.
Vainly his father frowned dissent, his mother, tearful, prayed,
Vainly his sisters, with fond words, his purpose would have stayed;
He heard them all with heedless ear, with dauntless heart and bold—
Whisp’ring to soothe each yearning fear “I go to win you gold.”
Restless he paced the deck until he saw the sails unfurled
Of the ship which was to bear him to that new and distant world;
And when his comrades stood with him and watched the lessening land,
His clear laugh rose the loudest ’mid that gay gold-seekers’ band.
In changing moods of grief and mirth the ocean way was passed,
And all were weary, when the cry of “Land” was heard at last.
Like birds escaped from thraldom long, the happy, smiling crowd
Thronged to the deck with eager looks, rejoicing long and loud.
Yet one was missing ’mid that band who foremost should have been,
Whose hopeful heart had cheered them oft when winds blew fierce and keen;
And when dead calms or drizzling rains made the ocean way seem long
Had wiled the time with lively tale, with jest, or stirring song.
But a sudden change had come o’er him, his ringing voice was hushed,
The smooth young cheek grew pallid, or, at times, was deeply flushed;
And now he lay in his lonely cot, a prey to sickness drear,
His frame all filled with racking pain—his heart with doubt and fear.
“Oh, raise me up,” he faintly breathed, “that I one glance may win
Of that long looked for promised land I ne’er may enter in;
Till I recall the tender words of friends, well loved of old—
The friends I left without a pang, in idle search for gold.”
The Exile’s prayer was soon obeyed, and round his fevered brow
The cool land breeze is playing, but death’s damps are on it now!
His spirit passed from earth away as Sol’s last dying beams
Lit up the golden Eldorado of all his boyish dreams.