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On the Nob of Nob Hill

On the very nob of Nob Hill there is the ruin of a mansion which was the Whittell home. In ruins it still is a mansion. In ruins it is grander than any place around because it belonged to the grand days.

There is an enclosed garden in the rear after the fashion of old Spanish gardens in Monterey. And between the boards that cover a door in the high wall, one may peek and catch a glimpse of hollyhocks in a row and roses running wild, trellises of green lattice and ghosts of beautiful ladies having afternoon tea.

To one side of the mansion there is a formal garden that hugs up close to the ivy-covered walls of the house. It is such a garden as one sees in elaborately illustrated copies of Mother Goose "with silver bells and cockle shells." It's so beautiful that it doesn't seem real. California gardens are like that, and to those of us from bleak countries they look like pictures out of books. There is this well-groomed garden of the living present hugging up close to the ruins of yesterday and then, if you please, Mother Nature, with her penchant for whimsy, has grown right up against these two a riot of purple and gold lupine, a product of her own unaided husbandry.

I am not much on allegory nor sermonizing, but I declare San Francisco gets me started. And when walking along about one's business, one sees such a vivid picture, the allegory forces itself. The grandeur of yesterday, the serious beauty of today, and then the wild flowers that covered the hills before man interfered and will live on after man has gone into dust to make new flowers.

Such a contemplation would make some people blue but it gives me a feeling of something basic and secure and eternal in all this strange puzzle of life. It was a beautiful day up there on the tip-toe of Nob Hill. What a beautiful view they must have had from the mansion windows. The same sky and the same banks of heavy soft white clouds. And Job, that mysterious man of the Bible, must have looked up at just such a sky when those stern questions came to him:

"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou hast understanding.

"Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him that is perfect in knowledge?"

"Hast thou with Him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?"

The nob of Nob Hill, how close it is to the sky.

The Leighton Press San Francisco, Cal.

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