The Land of Little Rain
by Mary Austin

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The Land of
Little Rain

"The Comfortress of Unsuccess"


The Land of Little Rain
Water Trails of the Ceriso
The Scavengers
The Pocket Hunter
Shoshone Land
Jimville--A Bret Harte Town
My Neighbor's Field
The Mesa Trail
The Basket Maker
The Streets of the Mountains
Water Borders
Other Water Borders
Nurslings of the Sky
The Little Town of the Grape Vines


I confess to a great liking for the Indian fashion of name-giving:
every man known by that phrase which best expresses him to whoso
names him. Thus he may be Mighty-Hunter, or Man-Afraid-of-a-Bear,
according as he is called by friend or enemy, and Scar-Face to
those who knew him by the eye's grasp only. No other fashion, I
think, sets so well with the various natures that inhabit in us,
and if you agree with me you will understand why so few names are
written here as they appear in the geography. For if I love a lake
known by the name of the man who discovered it, which endears
itself by reason of the close-locked pines it nourishes about its
borders, you may look in my account to find it so described. But
if the Indians have been there before me, you shall have their
name, which is always beautifully fit and does not originate in the
poor human desire for perpetuity.

Nevertheless there are certain peaks, canons, and clear meadow
spaces which are above all compassing of words, and have a
certain fame as of the nobly great to whom we give no familiar
names. Guided by these you may reach my country and find or not
find, according as it lieth in you, much that is set down here.
And more. The earth is no wanton to give up all her best to every
comer, but keeps a sweet, separate intimacy for each. But if you
do not find it all as I write, think me not less dependable nor
yourself less clever. There is a sort of pretense allowed in
matters of the heart, as one should say by way of illustration,
"I know a man who . . . " and so give up his dearest experience
without betrayal. And I am in no mind to direct you to delectable
places toward which you will hold yourself less tenderly than I.
So by this fashion of naming I keep faith with the land and annex
to my own estate a very great territory to which none has a surer