Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Vardis Fisher, fully Vardis Alvero Fisher

American Author known for his historical novels of the Old West

"Do people love truth? On the contrary, mankind has employed its subtlest ingenuity and intelligence in efforts to evade or conceal it... Do human beings love justice? The sordid travesties in our courts year after year suggest that they love justice only for themselves. Do they love peace? Can anyone seriously ask the question? Do they love freedom? Only for those who share their views. Love of peace, freedom, justice, truth - this is a myth that has been created by the folk mind, and if the artist does not look behind the myth to the reality, he will indeed wander amid the phantoms which he creates."

"He thought that possibly the Creator had given sleep to His creatures so that they would awaken with the eyes of morning and a fresh discovery of the world."

"Reading nature, for Sam, was like reading the Bible; in both, the will of the Creator was plain. Or so anyway it had seemed to him… One day he had looked down from the ledge on three baby redtails in a nest with a dead squirrel: one baby hawk, no larger than his brothers but more aggressive, was so determined to have all the squirrel that when the other two strove for a part of it he struck them fiercely with talons and beak, and then seizing one by the tail, upended him and pushed him over the rim of the nest and down... And another time he had observed the amazing mating dance of the sage cock. The birds had returned to their nesting grounds, to which they came year after year; and while the plainly dressed hens looked for insects and seemed not to care at all for wooing, the handsome males showed themselves off in dance steps. A cock would take six or eight quick steps and half turn, his wings drooping, his spiked tail spread to its fullest width, his proud head high and back, his chest puffed full of arrogance… As he danced, feathers parted and small bare areas of his body became visible, looking like grey leather; and his air sacks, for all the world like two eggs nesting in white down, alternately filled and collapsed. As the air sacs collapsed he uttered a kind of gobbling or plopping sound and raised his wings, holding them high an instant and letting them fall. This part of his act he usually repeated three times, and then danced again. His gutterals were in a series of three and at the end of the third the cock voiced a high flutelike sound that carried to the farthest hen in the area. When thirty or forty cocks were dancing and strutting, the mountain men thought it one of the doggonedest spectacles they had ever seen. But whether it was the loon treading with both feet and wingtips at high-speed across the waters and uttering his insane yell, or the hummingbird poised on wings that move too fast for the human eye while with her long bill she thrust deep into the throat of her baby and pumped food into its stomach, or the meadowlark or purple finch or bluebird or woodthrush pouring upon the golden air their liquid notes, or the water ouzel diving twenty feet to stroll along the bottom of the pool, or the snipe’s tailfeathers making fantastic music at dusk, or the harsh symphony from the music boxes of a hundred frogs and toads, it was all for Sam a part of the divine plan, and he loved it all. What made him most unhappy were the hours he had to give to sleep, in a life that was short at best. He thought that possibly the Creator had given sleep to his creatures so that they would awaken with the eyes of morning and a fresh discovery of the world. "