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The Islands of the Bay.

Tamalpais wrapped her mantle
Of the clouds about her shoulders.
Gray the day, and melancholy,
For December rains were falling,
Falling in a steady downpour.
Mournful branches of the redwoods,
Drooping, dripping, swayed above us;
Moaned above the lonely cabin
On the slope of Tamalpais.
Raindrops pattered on the shingles,
Beat against the eastern windows,
Flooding down the glass in torrents.

Through the veil of slanting rainfall.
Could be seen the distant harbor,
With its flecks of fleecy vapors
Floating, merging, disappearing.

In the fireplace of the cabin,
Logs and knots of pine were blazing,
Snapping with the pitch imprisoned;
Flocks of sparks were flying upward;
Flags of flame were waving welcome,
Warming, cheering, exorcising
Ghosts of Gloom and eerie phantoms;
Bringing brightness and the odor
Of the burning pitch that lingers
As the incense of the forests.

By the fireplace sat the Tamal,
Lone survivor of her people -
Sat and listened to the patter
Of the raindrops on the shingles,
To the soughing of the west-wind
In the branches of the redwoods.
Long she gazed upon the harbor,
Lying leaden-gray below us.
Then, she told this ancient legend -
Legend of her tribe, the Tamals,
Legend of an ancient deluge.

"Do you see," she said, "the Islands
Of the Albatross and Beaver?
By another name you call them.
One is crested by a prison,
Grim and somber, melancholy;
One is gay with flags and bunting,
Ringing with the martial music
Of your sailor boys in training;
Yet, if you observe them closely,
You will see in one the profile
Of an Albatross, a giant
Sea bird, sleeping on the water;
While the other is a Beaver
Facing always to the eastward.
When the noon sun casts its shadows
You may see his stony features
From the deck of ferry steamers
Near the pier that wades the shallows
On the harbor's eastern border,
Tamals call them Sacred Islands
Of the Albatross and Beaver,
For upon their backs were carried
All the Tamals through the deluge.

Down the ages came the legend,
Told by Fathers to the children,
Told on rainy winter evenings
Round the campfires of the Tamals.

From the ocean rolled the rain-clouds,
Came unceasingly the rain-clouds.
Black and heavy were the rain-clouds,
Lighted only by the flashes
Of the lightning playing in them.
Fell the rain as falls the torrents
In the waterfalls of rivers,
Fell through days of murky darkness,
Fell through nights of inky blackness,
Fell for days and nights unnumbered.
Waters covered plains and valleys.
On the coast the sea was rising,
Flooding all the lower country,
Creeping up the mountain foothills;
Still the rains in floods descended.

Up the slopes of Tamalpais
Climbed the people of the Tamals,
While behind them crept the waters,
Covering the hills and mountains.
One by one the peaks were swallowed
In the flood of rising waters.
On the gray and sullen waters
Floated logs and trees uprooted;
On the trunks and in the branches
Cowered creatures of the forests,
Then the people prayed the Spirit -
Prayed the Father in the Heavens -
That he save his tribe, the Tamals,
Ere the waters rise above them;
And the Spirit heard their pleading,
Sent the Albatross and Beaver,
Giant messengers from Heaven,
As the Saviors of the Tamals.

Albatross came from the westward,
Through the lightning of the storm-clouds,
Growing larger, coming nearer,
Till the thunder of his pinions
Echoed from the cliffs above them,
Then he rested on the waters.

From the eastward came the Beaver,
Swimming through the turbid waters,
Growing, growing, ever growing,
Till he had become a Giant,
On whose back the tribe of Tamals
Could find refuge from the waters.

Then a voice spoke from the storm-clouds,
Spoke in mighty tones of thunder:
'I have heard your prayer, Oh Tamals;
You shall live, and shall re-people
All the world with men and women.
I will give to them the spirit
Of the Albatross who searches
Distant seas on tireless pinions.
I will give to them the wisdom
Of the Beaver who with patience
Labors, building and constructing.
On the Albatross and Beaver
You shall ride, until the waters
Shall return to their own borders.'

On the Albatross and Beaver
All the Tamals rode in safety,
While the swirling deluge covered
All the foothills and the mountains.
Then the northwind, dry and scorching,
Drove the rain-clouds to the ocean,
And the sun-rays, piercing through them,
Glinted on the troubled waters.
Came the peak of Tamalpais
As an island to the surface;
Down the slopes the flood receded
Baring forests to the sunlight,
Then the grass-lands of the valleys
And the old familiar coastline.

With rejoicing all the Tamals
Sought their homes along the bayshore,
Singing thanks to the Great Spirit,
Singing praises to their saviors,
Giant Albatross and Beaver,
Resting then, within the harbor.
Then again, in voice of thunder,
Spoke the Spirit from the Heavens;
'Let the Totem of the Tamals
Be the Albatross and Beaver;
Search and Labor, be their motto;
And, lest children of their children
May forget their mighty saviors,
Giant Albatross and Beaver
Shall be changed to rocky Islands -
Monuments to stand forever,
In the Harbor of the Tamals.'

Thus the ancient Tamal woman
Told the Legend of the Islands,
While December rains were falling,
And the fragrant pine was burning
In the fireplace of the cabin
On the slope of Tamalpais.

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