I IAXFI EL
LEX I HH I Sill
" //e sa silent in front of the cabin-door, with his pipe in his
mouth, and his hands folded, a picture of rest and contented
meditation." THANKSGIVING JOE.
CAMP AND CABIN:
SKETCHES OF LIFE AND TRAVEL
BY ROSSITER W. RAYMOND,
L.ATK L T . S. COMMISSIONKH OF MINING STATISTICS; EDITOB
" KNOINEKKING AND MINING JOUKNAL;" AUTI1OB
"MIMCS OF THE AVJCST," ETC.
FORDS, HOWARD, & HULBERT.
BY ROSSITER W. RAYMOND.
it Cm r-
Electrotyped and Printed
By Rand, Avery, &&gt; Company,
117 Franklin Street,
|HE sketches collected in this little volume
have been printed in various periodicals
within the last eight or nine years; and
the reader will bear this in mind as an explanation
of the fresh enthusiasm with which some of them
speak of scenes not so unfamiliar to the reading pub
lic now as when these papers were written. This is
particularly true of the " Sketches of the Yellowstone
Country," which it was rny privilege to traverse in
1871, when few white men had seen its beauties and
With the single exception of " The Widow Baker,"
the contents of the book are studies of character and
scenery in the Far West. The only justification I
can offer for including a New-England story in such
a collection is the fact that the language and the
influence of New England are found everywhere in
the West, and that nobody objects to their com
11. W. R.
BROOKLYN, N.Y., Dec. 10, 1879.
THANKSGIVING JOE . .... , . . . 7
AGAMEMNON ... . . . . , . 47
I. Young Bullion . . *.... . .47
II. Further Acquaintance . . ... 60
III. The Prodigal Father . .. . . .71
I V. The School-Teacher . . . . . . 81
V. Not Miss Mary but "quite Contrairy " . 91
VI. Similia Similibus Curantur . . .99
WIDOW BAKER . . . . . . . .104
I. Squire and Deacon 104
II. The Story of the Bakers 110
III. Board and Lodging 117
IV. Susan Peabody 124
V. Jotham 129
VI. How the Widow Interfered . ... 159
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE . . . ..153
I. An Exploring Party 153
II. Up the Madison 162
III. March and Camp 168
IV. Hot-Springs and Geysers . . . .177
V. The Lower Geyser-Basin of the Fire-Hole . 186
VI. The Upper Geyser-Basin of the Fire-Hole . 193
VII. Yellowstone Lake and River . . . .201
THE ICE-CAVES OF WASHINGTON TERRITORY . . 208
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK 225
A STORY OF THE SAGE-BRUSH.
llXACTLY whereabouts in the State of Ne
vada lies the now depopulated and aban
doned district once kno\vn to its numerous
residents, and introduced by " The Reese
River Reveille" to fame, as Silver Sheen, I shall not
reveal, lest some enterprising person should start at
once to find it, and to " relocate " - that is to say,
"jump" the extremely valuable claims which some
of my friends still own (and hope to sell) within its
borders. Suffice it to say, therefore, that Silver Sheen
was somewhere between Washoe and White Pine, and
partook, in the opinion of its population, of the favora
ble " indications" of both places. Certainly it looked
quite as promising as did either of those famously pro
ductive mining-fields before their treasures had been
discovered. But, to be candid, so does any point you
CAMP AND CA1UN.
may please to choose in that vast desert basin known
as " the sage-brush country." Everywhere there are
the same broad, arid valleys, in which feeble moun
tain streams lose themselves and disappear without
gaining any goal ; the same bunch-grass, withered and
unpromising, but in reality nutritious, a sort of
standing hay, with seeds like kernels of grain held
tightly in its driecl-up fingers ; the same bare, weather-
beaten hills, cleft by precipitous canons in which are
hidden stunted plantations of plnon and cottonwood,
and along the sides of which, after snows melt in the
early summer, innumerable flowers adorn the desola
tion with a brief glory; the same dust-columns, mys
teriously rising in hot afternoons from the surface of
the plain, and whirling in slow dances like tall, slen
der genii of the air; the same exquisite mirage,
mocking the traveler with visions of rippling lakes
and cool bowery islands, where in reality only the
alkali flats stretch aw r ay, varied by an occasional clump
of gray bushes ; the same inevitable, ubiquitous sage
brush, always old, always dusty, always wasting its
aromatic fragrance upon heedless breezes or scornful
men; the white sage, small and silvery, beloved of
cattle ; the soft blue sky, the transparent air that
brings near the most distant horizon, and makes the
day s long journey seem in prospect but an hour s
walk ; the magical hues of brown and purple that
clothe at sunrise and sunset the mountain-side, and
the rich golden shade that rests upon the meadows
and slopes of bunch-grass : these elements are found
in so many localities, that I run no risk of exposing
Silver Sheen to the invasion of "jumpers " when I
say that it possessed them all.
I am reasonably safe, moreover, in remarking that
the district was richly endowed with mineral wealth.
Who ever knew of a mining-district in the West that
was not? Of course it had a "Mammoth " vein, and
a " Eureka," and a " Crown Point No. 2," and a
" Ruby," and numerous other promising deposits,
carefully baptized with names of good augury. Of
course, also, there was a grand tunnel scheme for pier
cing through the whole mountain-range, and " devel
oping its inexhaustible wealth ; " and a stamp-mill
(an experimental five-stamp affair) for reducing ores;
and of course the ores were refractory, and wouldn t
be reduced without some patent process yet undis
covered, but certain to be discovered if " capital "
could be had; and of course there was a weekly
paper, and a half-dozen bar-rooms, and talk of a
church. So far, nobody can distinguish Silver Sheen
from many another district in similar circumstances.
The driver of a semi-weekly stage which carried the
mail from Austin to all these districts in succession
could scarcely have told the camps apart, but for his
personal acquaintance with the bar-tenders and their
beverages, and with the peculiar bad piece of road
that each canon presented.
But Silver Sheen possessed Thanksgiving Joe, and
10 CAMP AND CABIN.
he was certainly unique. Individual character devel
ops eccentricity much more easily in such rough
societies than under the restraints and convention
alities of polite life. All the citizens of Silver Sheen
were peculiar, each in his way, and each without
attracting special comment upon his oddity. Old
Heinrich, who would wear a red bandana in place
of a hat; Sam AVetherill, who regularly put on a
white shirt and a blue swallow-tail coat with brass
buttons -every Sunday morning; Redhead Pete, who
spent all his earnings in bribing Shoshone Indians to
show him the Lost Silver Mine, a mass of native
silver, concerning which everybody knows that it
exists, and nobody knows where, these gentlemen,
and a host of others who squandered at poker and
monte the proceeds of their labor or their speculations,
were allowed to pursue their ways without ridicule,
censure, or admiration. Then why should Thanks
giving Joe be regarded as singular?
This singularity could not consist, either, in the
mystery that surrounded his previous life. As Col.
Gore remarked in a quiet evening gathering at the
International, " The past, gentlemen, I say it with
out hesitation, and I think no person present will
differ : if so, I would like to speak further with that
person, the past belongs to the individooal ! It is
sacred, gentlemen, sacred ! "
A certain portion of the colonel s past had been
spent in sacred seclusion between stone walls ; and
THANKSGIVING -JOE. 11
there were not a few among his auditors who had their
own reasons for guarding their own memories. So
no questions were asked by anybody, for fear of ques
tions in reply. Everty man s career was held to have
begun when he first "struck into the sage-brush."
For a new district must be populated by the overflow
from older ones, and it is the scum which overflows;
and if you keep stirring it up, why, nothing will ever
settle. I fancy, moreover, that there is in this rude
tolerance an element of noble feeling, a germ^f char
ity, a recognition of the duty of giving another chance
to those who, "the luck being against them," have
fallen from respectability, even so far as the humili
ation of public exposure. Certainly I have known
some instances of lives once wrecked that were suc
cessfully reconstructed, and launched again upon hon
orable voyages, from the friendly oblivion of such
Yet, after all, Thanksgiving Joe had appeared in
Silver Sheen in a manner calculated to distinguish
him, even in that adventurous and uninquisitive soci
ety. For, as the colonel said to Mr. Pickens of Chi
cago, when he pointed out to that gentleman, the morn
ing after his arrival, the cabin of Thanksgiving Joe,
high up the canon, half a mile beyond any other, " lie
never came to Silver Sheen at all, sir: Silver Sheen
came to him. When our hardy pioneers first entered
this secluded but immensely endowed region, and
penetrated to the heart of its argentiferous belt, there,
12 CAMP AND CABIN.
sir, prostrate upon the outcrop of the biggest quartz-
ledge in the camp, they found him lying, with a bullet
in his shoulder, and and a fever in his brain,"
added the colonel, to satisfy his ear for rhetoric.
This had, in truth, been the introduction of Joe s fel
low-citizens to him. While he was still unconscious,
oscillating between life and death, they had scoured
the neighborhood to find the villain who had shot him.
It must have been his "pardner ; " and the shot had
been delivered from behind, two circumstances
which would have secured short shrift for the culprit
if he had been caught. But the search was fruitless ;
and the boys returned from such trivial distractions
to the serious work of life. The district had to be
organized, and provided with a name. " Murder
Canon" did duty for a few weeks; but when Col.
Gore made his appearance it was changed, after an
eloquent speech from him, to " Silver Sheen." Then
"Veins had to be discovered, and claims " located,"
"recorded," and "prospected." Yet Joe was not
entirely forgotten. A rough cabin was constructed
over the very spot where he had beer found: in this
the sick man was made rudely comfortable ; and, one
at a time, the population took turns in watching with
him. Moreover, they located in his name; and set
apart for him, two hundred feet of the " ledge " on
which he had fallen, and " which, gentlemen," said
the colonel, "he had recorded with his blood."
AH this had happened two years before the time
THANKSGIVING JOE. 13
at which my story is going by and by to begin.
Joe recovered his consciousness after a week, and
his strength in the course of two months. The man
who was with him w r hen he first awoke in his right
mind, from the critical sleep that denoted the turning
of the fever, remarked in describing the scene that
he " never see a feller so grateful for nothin at all.
Thanked me for a drink o water s if it d been a
barrel o whiskey. Asked me whar he was, n I told
him ; n how he came thar, n I told him ; n whether
anybody was with him, n I told him nary one ; n I
jest informed him what a kiting old hunt we had for
the feller as drawed on jhim f m behind, n how mad
we was not to git a holt on him ; and says he, Thank
God ! and goes to sleep again like a baby."
The next man on watch had a few additional par
ticulars to report. The patient had awaked again at
midnight, and inquired after a buckskin money-belt,
which, having been found by his side apparently
empty when he was first discovered, had been kept
rather by accident than design, and lay at that mo
ment neglected on the floor in a corner of the cabin.
The belt w r as brought to him ; and he lifted it feebly,
without any expression of surprise at its lightness, ran
his fingers along the pliant leather to the end, and
then with a sudden smile said, " Thank God ! " and
dropped to sleep again. The watcher, unaccustomed
to hear such expressions of gratitude from men whose
money-belts had been rifled (for this W 7 as the univer-
14 CAMP AND CABIN.
sal verdict with regard to Joe s case), had subsequent
ly examined the belt, and found in it d folded paper,
bearing these words in a handwriting which might
have been that of a woman, but on this point the
witness, being no expert, and a little off practice be
sides, could not be positive :
" Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; "
and below them a date (time but no place being
given) and a single initial J. The date was five years
old. lie had spelled out the motto, and returned the
paper to its resting-place, with a half-superstitious
feeling that it was an amulet of some sort. A simi
lar impression prevailed among those who heard of
it ; and from that day the convalescent was called
Thanksgiving Joe, a title which he accepted without
protest or inquiry. The " Joe " was a happy expan
sion of the J in the secret paper; and, as the recipient
of the name answered when thus addressed, it served
all the purposes of a complete and perfect title. To
a visitor who once asked him if that were his real
name, he replied simply, " It is my given name ;" and
curiosity received no further satisfaction.
AVhen Joe got well enough to work, he began as a
day-laborer for another miner ; for in all the new dis
tricts there are almost from the beginning a few at
least who bring some money with them, which they
can employ in the more ra,pid development of the
claims they select; and by working for these few at
THANKSGIVING JOE. 15
high rates of wages the others earn the funds neces
sary for the purchase of food and clothing to supply
them while they lay open their own selected ground.
Like all the miners in Silver Sheen, Joe did a good
day s work for a day s wages. Laziness was not the
besetting sin of the boys, except, perhaps, on occa
sions when they really laid themselves out to be lazy.
Then even Broadway could not turn out an equal
number of more perfectly listless and vacuous loafers.
At other times that sort of thing was left mainly to
Col. Gore, whose business was loafing as a sort of
master of ceremonies to the bar-room of the Interna
tional, in the profits of which he had a share.
But Thanksgiving Joe had his own way of loafing.
Nobody was more faithful than he with pick or sledge
while the "shift" lasted; but when work was done
he would go off up the canon alone to his solitary
cabin, and presently would be seen the slender smoke
of his fire as he fried his bacon and boiled his coffee.
A little later Joe himself would be visible against the
clear yellowing sky, as he sat silent in front of the
cabin-door, with his pipe in his mouth, and his hands
placidly folded, a picture of rest and contented medi
tation. In any other state of society he would have
been a strange figure. His hair and beard were long
and snow-white, his form was slightly bent ; but those
signs of age were merely the results of his fever, and
were moreover contradicted by the brightness of his
dark eyes, and the great strength which he occasion-
16 CAMP AND CABIN.
ally exhibited. When the drift of the Desdemona
caved in, and the day-shift were all caught in the
timbers, it was Joe who held up the lagging in the
broken ground till the boys got a stull wedged under
it, and crawled out safe and sound. And when the
memorable cloud-burst of G9 took place on the sum
mit above Silver Sheen, and twenty feet of water
came booming down the canon, it was Joe who waded
in the nick of time to the shebang where Sam "VVeth-
erill lay helpless with rheumatism (the result, by the
way, of too much white shirt on an. inclement Sun
day), and brought him bodily, mattress, vicuna blan
ket, and all, to the dry bank. In short, Thanksgiving
Joe was looked upon by his comrades as a sort of
tutelary demi-god, a Hercules or Hiawatha, dwelling
somewhat apart, but ready to descend at a moment s
notice, and perform deeds of deliverance for the
dwellers in the land below.
As they had taken turns watching with him while
he was ill, so now they took turns in visiting him ; for
it was soon discovered that before two or three, listen
ers he was prone to silence, but when a single friend
approached him sympathetically he would talk with a
simple, homely elevation of spirit that made him seem
like a messenger from another country. " He ain t
our kind exactly," the boys concluded; "but he s a
better kind, and no shenannigan about him either."
(" Shenannigan " is the miner s term for humbug.)
So they fell into the habit of strolling up the canon,
one at a time, to hear Joe talk.
THANKSGIVING JOE. 17
The nickname they had given him grew more and
more appropriate as they learned to know him better ;
for the characteristic feature of his moods and words
was a marvelous perpetual gratitude. " No : he don t
look on the bright side neither," replied Sam Wether-
ill one day, to somebody s comment upon one of Joe s
sayings : " things don t have nary bright side nor dark
side to him. Told me that himself. Says he, * When
things is transparent, it s bright o both sides/ says
he, purvided there s a light on t other; " which
somewhat distorted version of Joe s apothegm con
veyed well enough the meaning that was meant to
shine through it.
With his first savings Joe had fitted -himself out for
a period of labor on his own hook at the Mammoth
vein, on which, by common consent, he held the cen
tral claim. But the Mammoth, like many another
huge quartz outcrop in that country, seemed to consist
of a maximum of barren gangue and a minimum of
valuable ore. Black specks thpre were through the
mass, and now and then a considerable body of some
unknown mineral, over which the most experienced
miners shook their heads, and said it was " no doubt
this yer base metal, and wouldn t amalgamate worth
a red." Joe toiled patiently on, however, until he had
sunk his prospecting shaft, without aid from any otlier
person, to the depth of twelve feet, and had extracted
from it a dozen tons of rock, out of which a couple of
tons of ore were, with much hammering and overhaul-
18 CAMP AND CABIN.
ing, selected. By this time the little five-stamp mill
had been erected in the camp ; and to this establish
ment Joe packed a ton of his selected ore, to have it
" worked " as a test. In a few days a stylish certifi
cate was returned to him, from which it appeared that
his ore had yielded two dollars and fifty cents, while
the charge for operating upon it was twenty-five dol
lars. It took the last coin in his leather belt to pay
the bill ; but he paid it like a man, and walked
straight back to the Desdemona, where they were
giad enough to take him again into the day-shift.
That evening Sam Wetherill found him smoking
his pipe as usual in front of the cabin. This edifice,
by the way, deserves a brief description. It was con
structed of piilon (nut-pine) stems, sharpened at the
lower end, and driven into the rocky debris, which took,
in that locality, the place of soil. Three sides of the
single apartment constituting the dwelling were thus
inclosed. In one of them a door was constructed by
the simple process of leaving out three or four stakes.
The fourth side, or back, was formed by the project
ing outcrop of the " Mammoth Ledge," itself; and
Joe, having more room than he needed for his bunk
and stool, and the shelf which served him as a table,
had carried on his mining operations in the place
where he slept and ate, gradually accumulating a heap
of waste rock, which he piled up into a heavy parti
tion between the bedroom and the mine. In this way
the mine, which began by being in doors, gradually
THANKSGIVING JOE. 1 ( J
found itself out doors, and caused no further inconven
ience to the house than might result from the drop
ping, after a blast, of a stray rock through the roof.
But nobody was inside at such times ; and the damage
was easily repaired with a little sage-brush and adobs
clay, the latter being, in fact, the universally useful
material with which all leaks in Silver Sheen were
stopped against wind and weather.
It was before this mud-and-stockade villa that Sam
AVetherill found Thanksgiving Joe, after his first day
of renewed experience in the Desdemona. Sam s
way of meeting such a disappointment as he thought
Joe had experienced would have been to put on that
white shirt and that blue dress-coat, and drown his
sorrows in a majestic spree at the International; but,
feeling instinctively that this remedy would not suit
his friend, he came up to show his sympathy in the
way of words at least, not without a shade of secret
satisfaction that Joe had finally struck a piece of ill
fortune, over which even he could scarcely give
" A little down on yer luck, old man? " was his con-
dolorous greeting. " Wai now, it was too bad for
th is yer Mammoth Ledge to go back on yer that way !
That thar base metal don t do nothin in the pans but
jest flour the quick, n slum it all up. 1 But you jest
hold up your head, old man, n get a pardner, n pros-
1 Granulate the quicksilver used in amalgamation, and render it
20 CAMP AND CABIN.
pect around a little. S no good, this yer coyotin
alone, 1 n backin out o yer hole every time you -want
a drink o water. F I hadn t gone in with Dutch
Ileinrich, on the Bismarck Extension, almighty big
thing too, I d like to be yer pardner myself: n
thar s Redhead Pete, he s a good hand to work, s
long s he does work ; but he s off agin arter that lost
silver mine, somebody 11 find that thar mine some o
these days; but it won t be Pete. Dutchy says there s
no end o stories about sich mines in his country, and
nobody finds em on purpose. Some galoot out after
jackass-rabbits, or sage-hens, or mountain-sheep, jest
accidentally pulls up a bush, or sets down on a rock,
n happens to look between his boots, n thar s a
chunk o the clear bullion 950 fine. But Pete
he ll never find nothin but Injun wicky-ups. 2 How
ever, you won t have no trouble about a pardner.
Anybody ll be glad to get you, n set you up in
bacon and beans to start on too. So you jest shake
yourself, old man, n cheer up. It s all fer the best,
you know f yer able to see it in that light."
Sam was very well satisfied with the rate at which
he was getting on in his new role of messenger of
consolation ; but, as ho afterwards expressed it, his
" idees all leaked out " of him when Thanksgiving
1 Digging like a coyote, or prairie-fox.
2 The slight temporary shelter of brush, under which the Nevada
Indians sleep, not worthy to he compared with the wigwams and
lodges of the stronger and richer tribes of the North.
THANKSGIVING JOE. 21
Joe took liis pipe from his mouth, and said reflec
" There isn t any other light, is there? "
"Wai, no," replied Sam in a dubious way, and
added, with evident relief, as if he had found a solu
tion, "not ef you see it in that light."
"Exactly," continued Joe. "Light is light; and
there s only one kind, thank God ! "
16 An may I be if you ain t the "
(These dashes are not my device for indicating
Sam s ready profanity. They show where that fluent
blasphemer actually paused and choked, leaving a
significant silence. For Joe s thanksgiving carried a
sort of echo, in the presence of which a man couldn t
start right oft , and invoke heaven or hell as if nothing
had happened. Moreover, Sam s choking attracted
his own attention as a novel phenomenon. He
stopped for a moment, pondered it, and broke out in
a new spot " as follows) :
"The boys in this yer camp mention Him, you
know" here Sam took off his hat, and replaced it
with the air of having done the handsome thing for
once in his life " toPble frequent and free ; but I
don t jest recall any onreas nable number of em as
lays emselves out to thank him. They ain t heavy
on the thank ! They jest let the parsons do that by
contract, n they take it mighty easy, only one shift
a week, n singlehand drillin at that. But you do
the thankin fur the crowd. Not that anybody s got
22 CAMP AND CA1JIN.
any Ijcction; only, when you take to thankin over
them mill-returns, it might sort o seem to any feller
that didn t know ycr ways, as if you was p raps rub-
bin it in a trifle, playing off on us, you know.
Now, you can t be glad o that thar base metal, you
know: it s agin reason."
; I didn t say I was glad," replied Joe imperturba-
bly, watching the long shadows from the summit as
they reached down like fingers, and clasped the settle
ment in the canon. " I am thankful now ; and I expect
to be glad."
Sam seated himself by his paradoxical friend, like
one who was bound to get to the bottom of a mystery.
" Go easy," said he : " I ain t used to the road,
but I m bound to know what you re drivin fur. Now,
let s locate our discovery stake, n take our bearin s.
You don t handle pick n sledge jest fur amusement,
or yer shattered constitution. What do you figger on,
-town-lots, or rich quartz, or what n thundery "
" Patience ! " said Joe.
Sam Wetherill swallowed the first word that came
to his lips, and sat in silence for a while, trying to get
up a substitute less objectionable, and equally expres
sive of his feeling. But the vocabulary of ejacula
tions is small at best, and the habit of profanity nar
rows it still further. Nobody is so hopelessly stuck
for a word as the man who suddenly suppresses a con
venient oath. So Mr. Wetherill, in despair, whistled
softly to himself a bar of "My name it is Joe Bowers,"
THANKSGIVING JOE. 23
and then, looking up, remarked, " Thar s a good pros
pect for that. Putty much every tiling that happens 11
assay well enough, n yield rich in the pans too, ef all
you want to git out of it is patience, and not bullion."
u Yes," said Joe : "all things work together."
"Well, I give it up," replied Sam. "All I got to
say is, you do. as I tell you, n git yerself a pardner.
When you n him work together, as you say, I hope
you ll strike something that pays better n patience
though I expect that pays too, in the long-run, when a
fellow comes to the last big clean-up." And *he hon
est miner, stepping down the zigzag trail to the canon,
disappeared in the gathering shadows. ,
Thanksgiving Joe continued for a month his quiet
and regular life ; then he took a partner after a fasli-
ion which rendered this natural and advisable step
one of the most surprising of the many unusual fea
tures of his career in Silver Sheen. Everybody said
he d " be blowed," when he first heard of it ; and about
half the camp bet two to one with the other half that
it wasn t true, the takers being secretly of that opin
ion themselves, but accepting the odds just to make
things lively. A very positive skeptic (no people are
so positive, by the way, as those who assume the neg
ative) went so far, on being assured of the circum
stance by Joe himself, as to offer to put up five dollars
that Joe was mistaken. And Col. Gore, scarcely ever
at a loss for words, was fairly staggered to express
what at last ho called the " preposterosity " of the
24 CAMP AND CABIN.
story. For, according- to the statements of the par
ties concerned, this meekest, mildest, quietest, and
thankfullest of men had selected, out of a camp full
of friends, the only man who was not his friend,
Bill Hazard, the new hand on the night-shift at the
Desdemona: a fellow who was set down as a "rough,"
and quietly let alone. If anybody even Joe had
killed him, it would have been reckoned nothing as
tonishing; and the presumption would have been
strong, in the absence of evidence, that " Bill must
a dra^d on the other feller first." But that any
one not himself a "rough" should join hands with
Bill for any honest purpose was amazing beyond
Yet Mr. William Hazard bore an appearance which
strangely belied his reputation. Ho was handsome
almost to effeminacy, with a smooth, pale-dark beauty
which neither sun nor wind seemed io affect. But
the delicacy of his face was striking at a distance
only : upon a closer view it was perceived to bear the
nameless shadow of evil passions, a soft face grown
hard. But some things distinguished Bill Hazard
from his class. He did not drink, that was not so
strange : many of these men are practically teetotal
ers ; but they usually abstain from stimulants because
they are gamblers, and wish to be, under all cir
cumstances, masters of themselves ; whereas Hazard
did not play cards, and, strangest of all, he never
indulged in that cheap vice, which, since it affecte
THANKSGIVING JOE. 25
directly neither the personal efficiency of the individ
ual, nor the property interests of the community, is
apt to be universally allowed and practiced in rude
settlements: I mean profanity, "the only thing," as
Sam Wetherill once said (after he had given it up,
by the way, "swore off"), "the only thing that a
real poor sinner could git cheap."
This freedom from all vices was one great element
that helped to make Bill Hazard intolerable to his
companions. Their instincts read clearly the princi
ple which they could not have put in words, that true
goodness of nature involves good nature. Perhaps
Sam, after all, expressed it philosophically when he
said, " These yer bad habits are the devil s contriv
ances, you bet ; n he catches many a poor feller s soul
that never meant no harm. But I ve knowed fellers
to strike it rich, n make a home stake, n just take
their Wells Fargo drafts, n git for the East, n. hunt
up their old folks, or mebbe their wives ? n young uns,
n. leave off their liquor, n never touch a card why,
ef you d ask em to * ante up, they wouldn t know
what you meant; 11 all these yer devil s traps was
clean busted for them. But when you clap your eyes
on one of them smooth fellers like Bill Hazard, s
hard n s barren s cap-rock, you don t want no further
news about him. The devil s in him: he don t go
for to waste no bad habits on a sure thing like that."
No, Sam was not quite correct. He overlooked a
deeper-lying truth. The vices that brutalize men are
26 CAMP AND CABIN.
dead weights that hang upon them for ever : no euro
can enable him to walk in the full, erect stature of
manhood who has bent earthward for years under
such burdens. And, on the other hand, souls may
be hardened by malign passion, which, nevertheless,
being smitten aright, shall suddenly be transformed,
and Lucifer become again the Son of the Morning.
Hatred, akin to love, has somewhat of love s preserv
ing power. Jt may ward off meaner fiends ; and
though its condor talons, and dark, brooding wings
are surely fatal in the end to its helpless captive, yet,
if frightened from its nest in time, it may soar
gloomily away, to return no more, and leave behind
the rescued soul like a child unharmed.
Thanksgiving Joe, replying to the remark of Sam
Wetherill above quoted, put the argument in a home
lier way :
"I don t know about that, Sam: it is a good deal
like sickness. When I had my fever, I should never
have pulled through unless I had been helped by my
good constitution. A man may have one thing pretty
bad, and get over it ; but, if he has too many things
ailing him at once, it s a poor show for the doctors.
Now, if Will was only cured of the one thing that
troubles him, I think he would be a pretty healthy
man; whereas you boys, if you don t look out, will
get yourselves tangled up with so many diseases, that
your moral constitutions will be just disintegrated,
like any old outcrop, and nothing will take hold of
THANKSGIVING JOE. 27
you. And thank God ! " added Joe softly, half to
himself, " I believe I can cure him."
Sam was surprised to hear the new partner called
"Will," a form of his name which no one else in
the camp employed. It argued even affection for
him ; being as far removed from the ceremonious
"Mr.," on one hand, as from the "BillV of mere ordi
nary acquaintanceship, on the other. But he made
no comment, and presently sauntered homeward, more
than ever convinced that Thanksgiving Joe was "too
good for this yer style o thing," and would certainly
get into trouble with his kind heart and foggy head,
if some friend without too tender a conscience did not
stand between him and the perilous results of his
unsuspicious kindness. The conclusion of this train
of thought was a resolve to "keep an eye on that
Hazard ; n if he tried any games on Joe, jest put a
hole in him."
This was the evening of the day on which the part
nership had been formed. It had been negotiated at
sunrise, as the clay-shift going into the Desdernona
met the night-shift coming out. Bill Hazard, coming
out of the mine, looked up, as if drawn by a strange,
horrid fascination, to the long white outcrop of the
Mammoth vein, that caught the first tints of day, and
stood out clearly over the dimness of the deep canon.
Then he turned away with set teeth, as if the sight
both pained and angered him, and, as he turned, felt
on his shoulder the hand of Thanksgiving Joe, whose
28 CAMP AND CABIN.
face was moved as if with the emotion of a sudden
recognition. Hazard glanced at him carelessly, and
started to pass on. But Joe detained him, and said
" I want a partner, and I must have you. There s
my place, yonder, on the hill. Come up to-night,
and talk it over."
Something in the tone of Joe s voice startled the
listener. It was like a voice, perhaps, that he had
heard before ; but as he hurriedly glanced again at
the speaker, who had partly turned from him to
point out the cabin on the mountain, he saw only the
white hair and beard and the stooping shoulders. It
was certainly a stranger. Yet he could not command
a perfect cynical indifference in replying to the
stranger s words. There was a shade of sadness in
"If you talk it over, you ll change your mind.
You made some mistake in your man."
" Then I won t talk it over," replied Joe. " Call it
settled. No mistake, thank God ! on my part. I
shall expect you. You know wheie to find me."
And, with another gesture toward his cabin, he moved
"No, not there," ejaculated Bill Hazard fiercely.
The other was already some distance away; and his
features were not distinctly seen as he paused at these
words, and stood with his back to the morning; but
his voice carried mingled compassion and command.
THANKSGIVING JOE. 29
"Yes, there!" said lie, and, swiftly striding to
wards the mine, met the rest of the night-shift hast-
iii2f homeward. At the same moment he overtook his
own companions : the two parties were mingled.
" My last day with you, boys," he remarked cheer
fully. "Will Hazard and I are going to try our luck
Thus the surprising news was conveyed in a trice
to the two classes that composed the population of
Silver Sheen, namely, those who worked by day,
and those who worked by night. Before Joe came
out of the Desdemona at the close of his shift, in the
afternoon, everybody had heard of it.
After Sam Wetherill s brief call that evening at
the cabin, Thanksgiving Joe sat alone, waiting for
the other visitor whom he expected. His usual calm
demeanor seemed to have forsaken him. He piled
brush on the smoldering fire where he had cooked
his supper, until it flamed like the beacon that Hero
S2t to guide the course of her coming lover. By its
blazing light he strove to see down the path that led
to the canon, but to his dazzled eyes the shadows
were darker than before. Far below, like stars re
flected, twinkled the candles in many a window ; but
between them and him w r as a black gulf. Drawing
from his pocket a worn newspaper, he began to read,
by way of enforcing patience ; but nothing attracted
his interest until his eye fell upon a bold head-line
introducing the governor s proclamation of Thanks-
30 CAMP AND CABIN.
giving Day. The name reminded him of his own
sobriquet, and he glanced down the lines as if the
announcement had some special meaning for him.
The governor, not unwilling to combine business with
worship, had painted in brilliant colors the produc
tiveness of the mines of the State, and hinted, as
additional cause for gratitude, that new discoveries
well worthy of the attention of capitalists were daily
made. That part Joe passed over with a smile,
thinking, perhaps, of his Mammoth vein, and its per
fidious "base metal." Over another paragraph he
paused with brightening looks. It alluded to the cir
cumstance that all the States now observed, in ac
cordance with the President s recommendation, a
simultaneous Thanksgiving Day. His thoughts wan
dered far to the East, over deserts and mountains,
and the great plains and the great rivers, to the
Jersey village which he had not seen for five years ;
from which, since his fever, two years ago, he had not
heard. The memory was disquieting; for it was his
own course alone that had thus cut him off from
whom? Only one friend ; and she only a friend. It
was Thanksgiving Day, too, when he saw her last.
The parson s sermon he had forgotten it, all but
the text : that Jenny had written out for him, to
satisfy a whim of his ; and he had folded up the paper,
and carried it night and "day ever since. If he had
spoken plainly that night, would she have become
more than a friend? Alas, perhaps ! yet no, no.
THANKSGIVING JOE. 31
A hundred times he had been thankful that she was
ignorant of his love and his sacrifice ; that he had
left her with a pleasant farewell, expecting to return,
after two or three years, with money enough to justify
him in asking for her hand ; that he had never be
trayed his feelings in those friendly letters which ho
had sent so regularly, and which were so regularly
answered until ah ! he must not think of that.
Her dear letters were all destroyed. He had burned
them himself, keeping only the Thanksgiving text,
and vowing, for her sake, and his own soul s sake,
and the sake of him whom Jenny loved, to live
apart from her, save in his secret thoughts, and, haply,
in the life to come. To-morrow was Thanksgiving
Day again, and he tried to think it a good omen.
His sacrifice was not complete : to-night, he hoped,
would happily perfect his \\ork. Yet the pain of loss
was not wholly dead ; and even at this moment he
would give worlds to undo utterly, so that it could be
as if it had not been, the scheme which he was never
theless ready to give his life, if need be, to consum
mate. For a man is still a man; and Joe was only
thirty, for all his white hairs.
Absorbed in thought, he heeded not the sound of
climbing feet, until a step close at hand aroused him.
As he sprang up and stood erect, with the fire-light
full upon him, William Hazard strode suddenly out
of the darkness, looked for an instant with an intense,
bewildered, frightened gaze, into his eyes, and stag-
32 CAMP AND CA1UN.
gered speechless back against tlie corner of the cabin,
staring as at a ghost. The governor s proclamation
fell from Joe s hands, which were stretched out in
" Don t look at me that way, Will," he said. " I
see you know me now, though you did not this morn
ing. I m changed since my fever, but not in my
heart toward you."
The stony look of fright passed from the pale,
young face, the hard lines softened ; but Will Hazard
still shrank from the clasp of Joe s welcoming hands.
" Shoot," he said, folding his arms across his breast :
" it s your turn, and I m glad of it ! "
"Amen! " replied the deep voice of Thanksgiving
Joe. " It is my turn : your life belongs to me. Is it
His visitor nodded without speaking, and gloomily
smiled his contempt for the worthless existence al
"I suppose I may spare it, if I prefer that way,"
" As you choose," replied Hazard.
"As I was saying this morning," continued Joe,
with a quiet consciousness of the power over a des
perate soul which this strange interview had for a
moment given him, " I want a partner, and you are
the man. I told you to come here and talk it over;
and you have come. Now, if I kill you, how can we
talk it over? " he added slowly, and rubbed his hands
THANKSGIVING JOE. 33
together in mute applause at the triumphant argu
ment. "There s some mistake, Will. You gave me
no chance to explain, otherwise you could not have
thought I was your enemy." Then, suddenly chan
ging his manner, he asked, " Have you heard from
Jenny Lockhart? "
" What is the use of tormenting me with her
name? " returned Will. " She is the cause of all the
trouble. A woman is not worth a friend; and for
that woman I threw my friend away. I loved you,
George, till the devil of jealousy took possession of
me. When I left the States, three years ago, she had
promised to be my wife. You were her cousin and
my friend. She wrote to you, and you read me her
letters. They were pleasant, cousinly letters, and I
liked to hear them. I did not tell you of the love-
letters she wrote at the same time to me. I wanted
to watch you. I suspected you of receiving others of
which you said nothing.
" You carried in your belt a paper which you never
showed. I felt sure it contained your secret. I tried
to get it without your knowledge; but you kept it
always on your body, night and day. At last you
did receive a letter a letter from her which you
did not show to me. I saw you read it, at night, by
the light of the camp-fire, when you thought I was
asleep. You put your head in your hands, and sat a
long time. Then you took from your bosom a pack
age of letters, put them all in the fire with the one
3-1 CAMP AND CAJUN.
you had just read, and watched them till they were
burned up. You took that paper from your belt, as
if you would burn that too ; and, as you did so, I
prepared to spring out of my blanket, and seize it.
I was determined to know what was in it. But you
read it through, shook your head, and put it back in
" The next clay as we were exploring, two or three
miles from our camp, we came over the summit to
the head of this canon. You know well enough what
happened. You sat down close by this spot, on the
croppings of that ledge, and began to tell me that
you had received a letter from Jenny. It was too
much for me to bear : I had been cursing over it all
night, anyhow. I hated her and you as a pair of
double-dealing deceivers. I forgot that she only was
deceiving me : you could not know that I was en
gaged to her. I interrupted you fiercely, charged you
with treachery, demanded the secret paper from you,
and, without waiting for your answer, sprang upon
you in a fury to snatch the belt from your waist.
" We fell together. I swear to you, George Gra
ham, that I did not draw my revolver. It went off
by accident. But the rage of murder was in my
heart; and it seemed to me as if my black thoughts
had become hands, and fired the pistol. You fainted,
I suppose. I thought I had killed you, and I fled like
Cain. But I would have come back to you, only I
saw from a distance a party approaching. They
THANKSGIVING JOE. 35
came, as if guided by a pointing hand, straight to the
spot where you lay. I saw them take you up, and
knew by their angry gestures, and their keen looks in
every direction, that they were determined to hunt
do\vn your murderer. At first I would have re
turned, and surrendered myself; but, when some of
them started in the direction where I crouched, the
instinct of fear took hold on me, and I ran. They
neither caught nor discovered me ; and I found my
way to Austin, to Virginia City, to Unionville, to
Boise, to Helena, to Salt Lake, to Denver, to Santa
Fc, to Prescott and Tucson, to La Paz, and San
Diego, to San Francisco, Sacramento, Yreka, every
where, with the devil in my heart.
" Two desires tortured me for ever. I could not de
stroy them, and I dared not fulfill them. One was to
return to this place, gain some news of you, and find
at least your grave. The other was to go back to
Jersey, meet Jenny Lockhart, tell her of the ruin she
had brought on honest men, how one had lost his
life, and the other his soul, by her faithlessness, and
so make her taste a share of the bitterness that I felt.
I couldn t do it I in short, I loved the girl yet, in
spite of all she had done, and I despised myself for
it. I m bad enough, too bad, in fact, to take any
pleasure in the beastly sins of these low-lived Wretches.
I don t like mankind well enough to drink or gamble
with them. I don t fight them even, though they
seem to think me a desperate fellow, who would as
36 CAMP AND CABIN.
soon kill a dozen of them as not. Bah ! if a man
simply despises them, they think he must want their
blood. Sots, thieves, and murderers : that s their
classification of society. They were right, so far as
I am concerned. I was a murderer in passion, and I
thought in deed; but the business had no such at
tractions as to make me intend to carry it on whole
sale and for life.
" I ll not make a long story of it. But you wanted
to talk it over, and you had better hear me out.
When I am done, I am done. I don t play the re
pentant sinner with you, George Graham. It seems
to me there is no room and no use for repentance. I
could love you if you could trust me again; but
that s impossible. Your forgiveness I don t want.
What I want is to pay my debt. I will not be your
partner; but, if you will let me work for you, it will
be a better reparation than I expected to make when
I came up here to-night. I came here, as I came to
this camp a fortnight ago, because I couldn t keep
aw r ay. When they talked of Thanksgiving Joe, and
showed me your cabin, on the very spot that was the
most dreadful to me in all the w r orld, I knew in my
soul that somehow my fate w r as fastened to yours.
I thought you had my secret, and would be my judge.
I wouldn t let anybody tell me the story of Thanks
giving Joe the name was awful to me. And at
last you found me, and called me and I came to my
doom. It is better than I dreamed. Even I can
THANKSGIVING JOE. 37
give thanks to know that George Graham, hated and
wronged, was not killed outright by the hand of his
" George, I will do for you what man may do.
Perhaps you may some day begin to trust me over
again, and lay the blame of my crime upon the
woman w r ho betrayed us both."
During this long, speech neither of the parties had
moved. Will Hazard stood, at its conclusion, with
his arms still folded, and looked into the fire. He
had kept his eyes fixed on the glowing brands, speak
ing in low, measured tones, as if another spoke
through him. But George Graham had never re
moved his keen gaze from the face of his friend;
and now he stepped forward once more, laid his hand
upon Will s shoulder, and said,
" Thank God, you love her yet ! "
The young man, taken by surprise at this sudden
assault, started, and tried to speak. But George went
on, with simple, quaint gravity,
" No : it is my turn now. Come here and sit
down. As I said before, I want a partner. Now
we re going to talk it over. You re all wrong, Will.
If you had seen the letter I burned, you would know
that Jenny Lockhart was true as steel to you. She
told me in that letter what you had not let me
know. She begged me to be your friend always, as
I had been hers. I I d rather not talk about that
night. It s all past now, you know," said George,
38 CAMP AND CA13IN.
with a tremor of his voice. Will did not perceive it:
he was too much absorbed in the effect of the dis
covery upon his own feelings.
" Then you didn t love her, after all ! " he cried :
" you were only her cousin and friend ! "
There was a moment s silence ; and then George
answered, like an echo from afar, "Yes, her cousin
" But you burned up her letters ? " pursued the
young man, so eagerly following the clew of the
riddle that seemed to hold his happiness as to forget
entirely for the moment his recent attitude of con
fessed culprit. " And you kept one? "
Thanksgiving Joe, with slow and steady hand, un
buckled his belt, took from it the folded paper,
opened it, and handed it to him, saying, without
further explanation, "We ll burn that too."
Will read, bewildered, the words which seemed so
far from being the shrine of any special secret.
" Let us come before his presence with Thanksgiv
ing. There is nothing in that ! "
Thanksgiving Joe silently stretched out his hand,
took back the paper, replaced it in his belt, and, with
a simplicity that was more baffling than diplomacy,
resumed the thread of his discourse. " As I was
saying, I want a partner. To-morrow morning you ll
write to Jenny; and we two will go to work in
earnest. It won t be long before you can go back to
her. We are wiser than we were. It isn t worth
THANKSGIVING JOE. 39
while to spend a lifetime trying to get ready to begin.
Jenny don t want you to be rich. She said so in
in that letter. When we get a good mine, you can
go home, and leave me to work it. I am better off
out here : I ve got used to the country. I mean to
live and die out here somewhere. And if you and
Jenny will write to me why, I won t burn your
letters any more."
This pleasantry had a mournful tone that would
have revealed to any disinterested observer the sorrow
that lurked beneath. But Will s thoughts were miles
away; and, when he recalled them, it was only for
self-reproach. He lamented gloomily his un worthi
ness, and declared, that, though heaven now opened
before him, he dared not set his foot upon the thresh
old. "No, George," he said, "I owe the rest of my
life to you. If we could go back together but what
folly ! Here w r e sit, as poor as your old Mammoth
vein there, and dream of happiness. I have earned
and squandered money enough in these tw r o years
past to make our dreams come true; but now I must
reap what I have sown. It was almost better to be
lieve her false."
He rose gloomily as he spoke, and George did not
detain him. His morbid mind could not be all at
once restored to health. It was better to let him be
alone for a while, and realize his new position. So
George rose also, and the two men clasped hands for
a brief farewell. An instant they stood thus, and
40 CAMP AND CABIN.
then, by a common impulse, kissed each other. Ifc
was the pledge of reconciliation and hope. The
terms of their relation seemed to be settled by it ; for
they parted with an air of familiarity, and with no
more formal words than, " Well, good-night, old fel
low. Take care of yourself. See you in the morn
ing." Whereat Thanksgiving Joe went straightway
into his cabin, and Will Hazard took the path down
the canon. The former, exhausted by the interview,
but at peace with himself, rolled into his bunk, and
soon slept soundly ; but the latter stopped half way
down the hill, seated himself on a rock, and gave
himself up to wakeful meditation.
All this time the governor s proclamation of
Thanksgiving had lain unnoticed where it had fallen
from Joe s hands. The fire had burned nearly out;
but a few coals remained, to brighten occasionally as
a puff of the night-wind touched them. At every
puff, moreover, the newspaper with the governor s
proclamation hitched a little nearer to the fire. Be
tween times it paused, or seemed to retreat ; then, by
rolling over, and sliding swiftly forward, it made up
every loss of ground. It seemed to be alive, and
hesitating, while it advanced, to carry out some plan
of mischief. At last, with a leap of undisguised in
tent, it fell upon the embers, swept across them,
bursting into flame as it did so, and, flying over the
short intervening space, clung like a fiery monster to
the dry, resinous pinon-stems of the cabin, within
THANKSGIVING JOE. 41
which, unconscious of his peril, lay Thanksgiving
A moment later Will Hazard was aware of a lurid
light that threw his own shadow in front of him, and,
starting from his revery, turned to see wrapped in
flames the cabin he had recently left. His trumpet-
call of "Fire! " brought the miners from their work
or sleep ; and a dozen men were soon hastening up
the hillside. But Will had the start of them by a
long ascent; and with flying feet he sped to the
cabin, shouting as he bounded up the rocky steep.
Thanksgiving Joe was dreaming of a quiet Jersey
village-church, and a sweet face therein, when he was
aroused by the shouts, and sprang up bewildered to
find himself surrounded with smoke and flame. A
step through the scorching circle would have placed
him in safety; but alas! in his confusion he rushed
in the wrong direction, and, instead of escaping by
the door in front, stumbled over the pile of rock and
ore at the rear of his cabin, and fell headlong into
the shaft of the Mammoth. A second after, Will
Hazard leaped through the blazing ruins, calling his
friend s name. The bed, the room, were empty;
but a feeble voice replied from the depths to his
frantic call, and by the light of the burning cabin
he saw Thanksgiving Joe lying helpless, twelve feet
below him, at the bottom of the shaft.
The first miners that arrived met Will carrying in
his arms a heavy burden, the body of his friend.
42 CAMP AND CABIN.
Thanksgiving Joe (by this name he was best known
to them and to us) had fainted away. Tenderly they
carried him to the nearest cabin, and applied their
simple means of restoration. But for hours they
could not bring him back to consciousness.
It was during this period that Sam Wetherill, who
had been foremost in service by the bunk of the
sufferer, stepped to where Will Hazard sat in a stupor
of grief, touched him on the shoulder, and beckoned
him to follow. lie was obeyed, and presently the
two men stood together in the open air. The dawn
" Look here ! " said Sam quietly. " This yer busi
ness has got to be explored. I was at Joe s cabin
last night, and I know he was expectin you. If
you ve got any remarks to make, you might as well
make em to me -unless you prefer a committee."
This allusion to lynch law did not move the nerves
of the pale young man, whose reputation as a des
perado seemed now likely to put him in peril.
"If George Graham dies," said he, "I shall not
want to live."
Sam turned, with a quick revulsion of feeling.
"You knowed him? you loved him?" said he.
"He was the best man in the sage-brush. Thar
warn t no discount on him." He warn t no slouch.
He was a man Give us your hand!" And the
discovery of a big burn, hitherto unheeded, on AVill
Hazard s hand, furnished final testimony to his sin
cere efforts for the rescue of Thanksgiving Joe.
THANKSGIVING JOE. 43
At tliis moment occurred another incident, for the
preliminary explanation of which a few words are
Redhead Pete, it will be remembered, has gone on
one of his periodical hunts after the Lost Silver Mine.
For many days, nothing has been heard from him.
But now, in the cold, first light of the morning, he
comes over the summit, ragged, hirsute, defeated, but
not conquered. Once more his quest has failed, yet
the hope which inspired it springs eternal in his
He pauses at the sight of the smoldering ruins of
Joe s cabin. No one is near to explain the mystery.
Pete walks to the edge of the shaft, among the smok
ing brands, and reflectively turns over with his booted
foot the blackened fragments of Joe s pile of worth
less ore. "This yer base metal," he mutters but
suddenly he stoops, seizes a stone, rubs it up and
down on his buckskin breeches to clean its surface,
and eagerly examines a dozen little whitish pellets
that seem to be clinging to it like drops of perspira
tion. As a final test, he takes out his jack-knife,
and cuts into one of them. It is pure silver !
Pete is no fool. His credulity towards Shoshones
and their legends does not prevent him now from be
having like a wise and prudent man. He walks to
the end of Joe s claim on the Mammoth, and there
erects one of the half-burnt poles of the cabin, on
which he rudt ly carves the words, "Ex. No. 1, South,
44 CAMP AND CABIN.
Peter Jackson." Then, and not before, he comes
down into the quiet, solemn camp, leaping from rock
to rock, with hair and arms flying abroad, and whoop
ing and shouting:
" Whar s Thanksgiving Joe? Whar is he? That
thar ledge o his n s the clear bullion : the ore only
wants to be burnt, n the silver jest biles out of it"
And so, bestowing on the air and on the distant
ears of men his reckless and fragmentary explana
tions, he rushes dowitward to the spot where Sam
and Will are standing. Their sad faces hush him at
once. But Thanksgiving Joe, lying until now uncon
scious within the cabin, has been roused by the shouts,
has recognized his name, has opened his eyes, and
looked around upon the sorrowful company, as for
some missing face. Divining his mute request, the
colonel steps to the door, and calls in the three who
stand outside. As they enter, Joe looks inquiringly
upon them. Sam takes his hand.
" All right, old man ! " says Sam. " You jest shake
yerself, 11 you ll git over this. Thr.r s good news at
last. That thar Mammoth Ledge, as we all thought
was base metal, was jest nothin but this yer roastin
ore, like what they tell of up to Austin, base metal
ef you try to work it wet, n putty nigh the clear
spoon metal if you jest warm it up with fire afore-
Candor compels me to state that several of the
sympathetic audience glide quietly from the room
THANKSGIVING JOE. 45
during these brief remarks, and, on getting outside
the house, begin a fierce race to the Mammoth claim,
a proceeding which Redhead Pete, secure in the
possession of Extension No. 1, South, regards with
Thanksgiving Joe listens intelligently. " Thank
God ! " his faint voice murmurs, breaking into the
familiar ascription for the last time. Then, gather
ing his strength, he says with an effort, but dis
" Gentlemen, my name is George Graham. This
man, William Hazard, is my dear friend and partner.
He is half-owner in the Mammoth claim; and the
half-interest that belongs to me I hereby give
and bequeath to him in trust for Miss Janet
Lockhart he knows. Sam, you will see the papers
straight ? "
Sam nods. " Whatever you say, Joe, is better n
law in this camp. There s nobody here that ll go
back on your words."
A murmur of subdued assent runs round the room.
Will Hazard falls on his knees by the bunk, and
buries his face in the blanket. Thanksgiving Joe,
still holding Sam Wetherill s hand in one of his own,
lays the other upon Will s clustering hair.
" Give her my love, Will," he says, and closes his
eyes for several minutes. The stillness is broken
only by sobs from the kneeling figure of Hazard.
At last the dying man looks up once more.
CAMP AND CAKLV.
"My belt," he says. They had taken it off \vhon
they were hunting upon his body for the injuries,
which, being, alas! internal, could neither be found
nor cured. Now they bring it to him, and once more
his fingers feebly seek the precious paper which it
contains. He draws it forth, reads with fading sight
the well-known lines. A wave of peace glides over
his face, an expression of unutterable gratitude.
Soundlessly his lips form the solemn " Amen." The
hand falls lifeless Joe lias obeyed the summons of
the Almighty Father, and entered into his presence
A STORY OF CALIFORNIA.
OT? You bet it s hot! A cool one hundred
and fifteen in the shade ! " So Stephen
Moore, the stage-driver, paradoxically de
scribed the weather, while he watered his
horses from a rather slimy-looking spring by a soli
tary cabin among the foot-hills. Before him were
barren reaches of dusty white ascending road, their
ridges dotted with black spots of scrub-oak, then be
yond all the blue line of the High Sierra. Behind
him the great plain of California, or rather that por
tion of it which lies around and south of Tulare Lake,
shimmered in the heat, and sent up little dust whirl
winds that traveled hither and thither over its glow
ing surface like slender pillars of cloud. In a few
years the desert would blossom, and miles upon miles
48 % CAMP AND CABIN.
of golden harvest would wave where now the vrild oats
and grasses, early browned by sultry summer, only
mimicked the husbandry of man. A little later the
locomotive would shoot and toot through these spa
cious solitudes. But that time was not yet; and as it
is said to be darkest just before daybreak, so it seemed
most lonely in the land just before it was going to
become most "lively."
" Yes, sir" said Stephen, "one hundred and fifteen,
if it s an inch! But you don t feel the heat here as
you do in the States. Why, ninety on Broadway just
knocks the people over right and left with sunstrokes.
But there s Young Bullion there, a-sleeping on the
coach, with his hat off, and his face to the sun, and
not taking any harm, either."
Stephen s remarks were addressed to the passenger
who shared with him the driver s seat, a young man
of whose personal appearance at that moment little
can be said, since, like everybody else who had trav
eled that day along the valley road, with the wind
dead in the rear, he was so covered with dust as to be
all of one color from head to foot, except where his
eyes peeped out under their dusty lashes, like clean
children at the window of an adobe cabin. It is not
necessary to say much concerning this young man.
He has little to . do with the story, except to tell it ;
for the truth must out. It was the present narrator
who sat as aforesaid on the clay above mentioned,
while Stephen watered the horses, and Young Bullion
slept sprawling on the top of the coach. Having
confessed so much, it is hardly worth while to keep
the traveler who tells this story in the chilly and
unconfidential position of a third person any longer:
and he will therefore, with the reader s permission,
speak of himself, as folks usually do, in the first
I was going up into the mountains to visit a newly-
discovered mining-district when Stephen first called
my attention to Young Bullion, as narrated above. I
had not noticed him before; but this was easily ex
plained by the fact that I had only just got a chance
to ride outside, the seat having been occupied from
Stockton by an exasperating old cattle-breeder, who
never wanted to change places with an inside passen
ger. Heat, dust, night, sleep, wind, whatever usu
ally disposes the outsider to make such a temporary
exchange, had no effect upon him. But at last we
came to a ranche where the cattle-breeder alighted
for good, leaving my friend Stephen free to offer the
seat by his side to me, whom he called "Professor,"
because I was going up to inspect mines. In the
Middle West it is "Judge" or "Kernel:" in the Far
West " Professor " has been added to the list of handy
titles for strangers.
Stephen and I w r ere not strangers, however. We
had made many a trip together on the Wells-Fargo
coaches in California, Oregon, and Nevada; and once
we had started for a real vacation-spree, gone through
50 CAMP AND CABIN.
the Yosomite, the Hetch-Hetchy, up to the headwaters
of the Tuolumne, and so on through the High Sierra,
away to the mighty canons of Kern and King Rivers,
camping on the bare ground at night, wherever we
could find water and grass for our horses. So we had
plenty to talk about now that we had met again;
and, when I climbed to my place by his side, I paid
no attention to the form that lay stretched on the still
higher seat, behind the, driver s.
But at the next stopping-place, as I have already
remarked, Stephen mentioned the sleeping passenger
as "Young Bullion; " and this caused me to turn and
inspect him. He was so short, that he lay at full-
length upon the seat, without hanging over his feet, or
doubling up his legs, as experience had taught me I
must needs do when I tried to sleep in that situation.
The freckled face, light yellow hair, and brown
stubby hand, presented nothing extraordinary. It
was evidently a mere boy, exposing his complexion
in a way which his mother would have disapproved,
had she known he was so emphatically "out."
"What makes you call him Young Bullion ?" I
asked, surveying his coarse, patched clothes, and fail
ing to see any special indications of the precious
metal about him.
" Well," replied Stephen, as he swashed the horses
legs with the water they had left in the pail, "it s a
name the boys gave him, over at Pactolus district,
lie discovered the district ; and he owns the best claim
on the best mine there, the biggest thing on the
coast, they say, next to the Comstock."
As this was a statement which I had heard concern
ing a score of mines at different times, I \vas not as
deeply thrilled by it as a tyro might have been ; and
it was with some indifference that I said, "Ah!
what s the name of the mine? "
"The Agamemnon," said Stephen. "It s named
after him. Agamemnon s his real name."
That did give me a little start; for the Agamemnon
mine in Pactolus district was the very property I had
been sent from San Francisco to^xamine. But I re
flected that many claims might be located side by side
on the same lode, and doubtless some other part than
that which belonged to this boy had attracted the
notice of my clients. At all events, I preserved a
due professional reticence as to my own business, and
remarked only, " Agamemnon is a queer name. Aga
memnon what V "
By this time the driver was mounting again ; and,
before he could answer my question, he had to unwind
the reins from the break-bar, arrange them properly
in the gloved fingers of his left hand, pick up his
long-lashed whip from the top of the coach, then take
off the break, and tell the horses pithily to " Git ! "
These operations were scarcely completed, when
Young Bullion suddenly sat upright, and replied in
person to my inquiry, which he must have overheard.
" Agamemnon Atrides O Ballyhan," said he, with a
52 CAMP AND CABIN.
twinkle in his shrewd gray eyes. " The boys call it
Bullion when the old man ain t around. Twouldift
suit the old man, you bet! "
" Who is the old man V your father? " I said.
" Oh, no ! " he replied gravely. " My son."
Seeing my look of blank amazement, Stephen in
terposed the explanation that this was the jocose way
in which the camp chose to consider the relationship.
"Well," said Agamemnon, "how s a feller to
know, except by what folks say? And think I d let
the old man play father around my place? He
couldn t run the macBine a day."
" I was somewhat displeased by this disrespectful
tone; but I let it pass without comment, partly be
cause the atmosphere w r as not favorable to lectures en
filial piety, and partly because I was following in my
mind a suggested coincidence. To make myself cer
tain, I took out my note-book, and sought the address
of the party to whom I was to apply for permission
to inspect the Agamemnon mine. It was, as I had
supposed, Mr. O Ballyhan. Turning +o the boy, who
had watched my movements keenly, I said, " I think
it must be your father with whom I have some
" Who? The old man? Business? Not much ! If
you ve got any business, it s with me: you just rest
easy on that! Come up from the Bay to look at tho
Agamemnon ledge, now, hain t you? Well, I m your
man! Oh! you needn t go for to doubt my word.
I m the only fust-class, responsible, business O Bally-
lian on the Pacific coast. Bet ye what ye like.
Put up yer money, 11 leave it to Steve. No, I won t !
Don t bet ; swore off. Never did, very heavy, any
how. But Steve there, he ll tell yer it s all right.
Go in, Steve ! If he won t believe yer, bet with him
yerself, n leave it to the first bullwhacker ye meet."
But I was ready to accept Steve s assurance that
this premature young adventurer was actually the
mine-owner with whom my clients were negotiating.
A very little further conversation soon put this point
beyond the shadow of a doubt.
" You ve been pretty lively," said he. " Thought
I d be one coach ahead o ye, and git a chance to
open up the mine a little. But I had to stop over at
Stockton to buy some powder and steel. Got a new
kind o powder, this yer giant powder : made the
feller show me how to use it. We went out o town
half a mile, an couldn t find no rocks : so we blowed a
scrub-oak all to sawdust. That s how I lost a day."
"Have you been in San Francisco?" I inquired.
"It is strange that my friends did not mention it."
"Think I d let em know I was there?" he replied
with a w y ink. " I ll tell ye jest what I did : went
down to Stockton with twelve mules an a big load o
fust-class Agamemnon ore, this yer black sulphuret,
free gold sprinkled all through it, an put it in the
fire, an the silver sw 7 eats out to boot, sent it down
from Stockton by boat, an sot on the bags myself,
54 CAMP AND CABIN.
you bet, all the way, with a six-shooter in my pocket.
Soon s I d got it down thar all safe, n locked up in a
warehouse, I went off to git some dinner. When the
waiter fetched the pork n beans, I kind o liked his
looks; n says I, I want a agent for a little bit o
business here in town, n I guess you re my man.
lie laughed at fust ; thought I was fool n him, or
else was a fool myself. But I fixed that quick
enough. Says I, Now don t go for to think you
can take me in because I m small. Ye can t come
110 tricks over me. I ve got fifteen tons o fust-class
Agamemnon ore to sell, all picked and sacked. Here s
a fair sample, n there s plenty more whar that came
from. If you want to sell it for me, n earn a hun
dred dollars easy, say so.
"Well, his eyes stuck out so when he see my sam
ple, that he looked half scared to death. But he was
glad enough to be my agent. He was a big swell
when he was dressed up, n he could make a power-
fid impression, only not on me. I ain t what I was,
says he, while we was a-talkin : I ve seen better
days. Now you jest come down, says I: I don t
want no more o that! Git enough f m in old man.
As for you, ye re putty nigh what ye always was n
always will be, n y hain t seen no better day n this
one 11 be, if ye behave yerself.
" Young man/ says he, you ought to be respeck-
fnl to yer elders.
" Elders ! says I, hollerin like mad, who d ye
call elders? I was born in the year one, n I m eigh
teen hundred n sixty-five years old, A.D., U.S. : d ye
hear that? Then I laid my six-shooter alongside o
my plate ; n says I, I ll be obliged to you if you ll
call me Mr. O Ballyhan.
" Well, that s the way I got my agent. He was
the politest feller, after that, you ever see. When
he went round to a big house in Market Street,
where they was a-buyin ores to send to Europe, me
n my six-shooter just went along. *No shenanni-
gan, James/ says I. We ll just wait on the door
step, n protect ye when ye come out. Well, after a
few minutes he comes out, n says, If the rest o the
lot is like the sample, they ll give a thousand dollars
a ton for it. Not much, says I : they ll have it
assayed, and they ll make a bid accordin , that s what
they ll do. An that s what they did do, n gimme
twenty thousand dollars for that lot of ore, rather n
lemme go. Wouldn t a sold it for that, either, only
they began to talk about the mine, n said they d
probably like to buy her. When my agent told me
that, I says, Well, I hain t no partic lar objection.
She s a good mine, n I wouldn t retire from her for
less n a hundred thousand dollars. If they wan t her
at that price, they can take her or they can leave
her. An if you sell her, James, says I, you ll get a
thousand on top o your hundred. Well, there was
big talk an lots of it for a couple o days; but I kept
quiet n out o sight, n James he negotiated till you
56 CAMP AND CABIN.
couldn t rest. Fust thing they wanted was a report,
Sent em one that the old man wrote and printed in
< The Pactolus Weekly Nozzle/ The old man is hefty
on a report : he jist slings the ink, now, I tell ye !
About all he kin do."
I remarked that I had seen the report. It was
indeed an extraordinary sample, even of that extraor
dinary kind of literature. It abounded in gorgeous
descriptions of the beauty of the natural scenery, the
immense display of geological phenomena, the un
limited amount of " yet undiscovered " treasure slum
bering beneath the rocky surface, the salubrious cli
mate, the exactly central geographical position (proved
by drawing a circle round it on any map), and the
metropolitan future, of Pactolus district. I remem
bered particularly the glowing conclusion : " The
Gulch, to the golden sands of which this marvelous
region owes its name, has long ceased to yield a suita
ble auriferous return to the honest hand of labor.
[Note by the editor of The Weekly Nozzle : " " But
it will pay big to hydraulic."] But in the gold and
silver veins which lie along certain magnetic lines in
the rocks there are treasures surpassing those of the
Lydian River, and which will be, in the words of the
great Thucydides, Ktema es aei, a thing forever."
Agamemnon continued, " They said that report
wa n t enough : so I sent word to em to send up their
own man; n I expect you re the feller."
I replied that I was the feller.
" Thought so the minute I laid eyes on yer. Well,
now, we ll jest licv a few plain words about this busi
ness, 11 perhaps they ll save you the trouble o goiu
any farther. S pose yer know I ve got to pay yer fee.
Left the money in bank down t the Bay."
I nodded assent.
" S pose y expect I ll give something ex try if you
make a good report, n the mine gets sold hey? "
"Well," I said gravely, "it would be reasonable,
wouldn t it ? "
" treasonable ? " said he, with a steady light in his
gray eyes, as he turned, and looked me full in the
face. "I don t know about that. But it s jest impos
sible d ye hear that ? You can go back to Frisco,
unless yer want to examine somebody else s mine :
yer can t git into the Agamemnon. There s goin to
be fair play with her, or nothin ." And with that he
turned iiis back to me.
After an embarrassing silence, I said, "But, Mr.
O Ballyhan, you made the offer, didn t you ? "
" Wanted to find ye out, n I found ye out," he
replied curtly, without deigning to look at me.
"Well," I rejoined, " I wanted to find you out, and
I ve found you out. I m very glad you regard it as
dishonorable to give a bribe. If you had really
tendered me one, I should have reported it to my
clients, and advised them to drop the business."
" Too thin ! " was Agamemnon s sole reply ; and I
saw on Steve s face a grin of intense amusement at
58 CAMP AND CABIN.
" Look here ! " said T as a last resort, " I ll leave ifc
to Steve, lie knows rne ; and he ll tell you that J am
an honest man."
Steve could hardly resist the temptation to make
matters worse by a dubious ans\ver ; but, seeing in
my face that the trouble might be serious, he changed
his tone, and gave to his remarks a satisfactory end.
" Well," he said slowly, " I don t know : it s my
impression that he stole my last pipeful of Lone Jack,
and smoked it himself in camp on the Tuolunme;
and a man that would do that hey, boys? No:
he s all right, Young Bullion : he ll do the square
thing by you. I know him."
Young Bullion turned, and held out his hand.
" Put it there ! " he said. And I " put it there," shak
ing hands with him in token of good faith. " Yer
see," he continued presently, u th ole man ll try it on.
He s a disgrace to the family, he is. Don t you take
nothin I mean no promises (he hain t got nothin
else to give you) from th ole man. I m try in* to
reform him, I am : swore oft lots c things on his
account ( n for some other partic lar reasons). But
soon s any stranger comes around, th ole man slumps
back agin into th ole ways, goes to gamblin an
drinkin . Ever play poker? "
I said I had no knowledge of that accomplishment.
"Well, I can play it with any man in Pactolus, or
anyw r here else. Th ole man taught me himself.
But I swore off f m gamblin, n I got all the boys to
say they won t play with th olc man : so he nad to
shut up. They wa n t very sorry to promise : lie used
to clean em out every time. But it wasn t the
square thing; n I I the name o the O Ballyhans
is goin to be kept "clean after this, by !" Was I
mistaken, or did I see this premature young person
dash a tear from his eye? Instantly I heard him
mutter, " Thar, now, I ve swore off swearin , n jist
been n almost done it again ! "
I need hardly say that by this time I was much
interested in the strange character here presented
for study. With mingled curiosity and respect I set
myself to win his confidence, and extract an outline
of his history. In spite of all his preternatural
shrewdness and coolness, I found that he was at
heart a boy, and required only the touch of sympathy
and appreciation to make him talk freely. For more
than an hour he ran on, with a queer mixture of
simplicity and acuteness, narrating the experiences
of an uneventful and yet heroic life; while Stephen
and I listened without comment, except that the stage-
driver nodded occasionally in confirmation of some
statements that came within his own knowledge, or
touched up his leaders with crackling emphasis when
his feelings were particularly aroused.
CO CAMP AND CABIN.
I LEARNED that Agamemnon Atrides O Ballyhan
owed his classical name to the fancy of his father,
a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and a careless,
jolly spendthrift, who, after running through his own
inheritance and a small fortune brought him by his
wife, had taken sudden leave of his creditors, and
come to California in the early days, after the dis
covery of gold. Plis scraps of classical and mathe
matical learning found no market here. He had no
solid attainments, no capacity for work, and no con
science : so, without much resistance, he yielded to
the downward current, and became a gambler, per
haps worse. He was not fit to be an honest gambler,
if I may use the paradox ; that is to say, he could
not rely upon skill and coolness to guarantee him a
living in that profession, without resort to cheating ,
for he speedily became a drunkard also; and no suc
cessful gambler can afford to indulge that vice. The
result was inevitable, a vagabond life, interspersed
with scenes of exposure and disgrace. From one
mining-camp to another he dragged his wife and the
young Agamemnon, who, born in the midst of these
debasing associations, grew up to a premature knowl
edge of evil, and an utter ignorance of any higher
code of ethics than the rude life of the minors
Young Bullion was not explicit concerning these
darker features of his experience. He seemed to
avoid details with a sense of shame ; and I fancied
that the shame was of recent origin, that something
had lately aroused him to a perception of the disgrace,
and to an odd resolution, not at all like the usual
repentance of awakened sinners, to clean the name of
the O Ballyhans. What this cause was I could not
gather.. He was silent on that point. But, whatever
it was, it had made a man of him before his time.
He was sixteen years old, though he looked both
older and. younger. He showed no trace of Irish
origin in his talk, w r hich differed from the mixed
lingo of the Pacific coast, only in a freedom from
coarseness and profanity which evidently cost him
some effort. I inferred that this also was a recent
change, dating from the time when he had "swore
off " from gambling and drinking, and had put his
father in the strait- jacket of filial discipline. Of his
mother he spoke with a queer, kindly indifference,
saying that she "wasn t much account," had no " sa-
vey;"but "th ole man s goin s-on had been rough
on her." He regarded his father as an "enfant terri
ble," an unwelcome responsibility, the management
of whom, nevertheless, gave him a certain sense of
pleasure in his own skill. "TV ole man s sharp,"
he said ; " but he ain t no match for me ! "
62 CAMP AND CABIN.
A year before this, the O Ballyhans, with slender
stock of household goods, had emigrated to Pactolus
Gulch. It was not a promising field. The placer
diggings were nearly exhausted, and the population
had nearly all departed. But there was business
enough still (there always is) for one liquor-saloon ;
and in this establishment the elder O Ballyhan be
came barkeeper. His taste for whiskey would have
made him an unprofitable servant ; but his dexterity
with cards made him useful to the proprietor, who
pitted him against all comers in the fashionable
operation of "playing for the drinks." Now that
the claims in the Gulch paid so poorly, and dust was
not plenty, the gambling of the Pactolus people sel
dom went beyond these modest stakes ; and as O Bal
lyhan was allowed to drink only what he could earn
in this way, why, the more he drank, the better for
Meanwhile the boy, so far as T could make out,
had turned his hand to whatever he could find in the
way of occasional occupation. He had been a super
numerary hostler to the stage; he had worked a while
in a played-out placer-claim; he had caught trout in
the North Fork, above the place where the tailings
made it too muddy even for a sucker or an eel ; he
had hunted quails, rabbits, and gophers, and some
times deer ; once he had shot a grizzly bear.
When he mentioned that experience, I interrupted
him to ask for further particulars. " How did I do
it? " said he. " I jist walked up within twenty yards
of him, n shot him in the mouth. He rolled over
quiet enough. Yer see, I had Jim Knowles s repeat-
in rifle. A grizzly ain t nothin if yer have a repeatin
rifle, n keep cool. T that shot hadn t fetched him,
there was seven more ready for him ; n there never
was a grizzly that could s waller seven ounce-balls at
With the precarious proceeds of these industries,
he had (as I managed to make him own) kept his
mother from starvation ; and his quick wits and ready
helpfulness had evidently moved all the Pactolians
to admiration and friendship. He hfid never taken
much to book-learning, having rebelled entirely at a
languid attempt of the old man to educate him.
" Educate ! " said he contemptuously, as he told us
about it : " didn t want none o his kind. Two fellers
in one family slingin Latin, n puttin on the heavy
genteel, d a been too much gravy for the meat."
But I gathered that there was a school now at Pacto-
lus of which he had a very high opinion.
" Do you go ? " I asked, forgetting, for the moment,
that he was a capitalist, and man of business.
" No," he replied gloomily : " hain t got time. But
I walk over there afternoons to see the teacher."
u ls he a very good teacher? "
" It s a lady," he said shortly, and changed the
subject, proceeding to tell of the great discovery
which had in six months brought fresh life to Pac-
64 CAMP AND CABIN.
tolus district, and changed the fate of more than one
of its inhabitants ; namely, the discovery of the Aga
memnon lode, and the inauguration thereby of a new
era of prosperous activity.
It was the old story, repeated in so many districts
on the Pacific coast in early days. Young Bullion
had found the outcrop of the lode far above the head
of the Gulch, and had pounded up a sack-full of the
strange, dark ore, and " panned " it in vain for gold.
Disappointed but curious, he had carried a specimen
of it to the saloon, and passed, it around among the
loungers who sat sociably about the red-hot stove.
They could mike nothing of it. But O Ballyhan,
senior, who was mellow .with a day s professional
work, had got possession of it, and with drunken elo
quence pronounced it to be lapis philosophorum, the
philosopher s stone (" with a lot of other Latin,"
added Agamemnon), and finally, seizing the poker
for a wand, had opened the door of the stove, tossed
the specimen into the blazing fire, and declared him
self to be an alchemist engaged in the manufacture
of aurum potabile. This, at least, is my version of it,
based on Young Bullion s attempt to repeat the jar
gon of his drunken dad. True, the ancient alchemist
did not make aurum potabile in the fire, but over it;
not by fusion, but by solution ; but O Ballyhan was
drunk, and so may have departed from the prescrip
tion. Nobody cared for his vagaries. Only his son,
when tho others had departed, raked over the embers
to recover his specimen, and found it studded with
globules of exuded silver.
lie was too shrewd to make immediate outcry over
the discovery. For several days he kept it to him
self, while he meditated thoroughly his plan of pro
cedure. Then, taking into his counsel a miner who
had had some experience in "quartz," he arranged a
programme, which was carried out to the letter. A
meeting of citizens was held ; the startling announce
ment of the existence of silver veins in the neigh
borhood was proclaimed ; and a code of laws was
proposed. The assembly, being fiercely eager to
adjourn and go " prospecting," passed the laws in a
hurry ; and the first location recorded was the Aga
memnon. A week later, every chunk or bowlder of
rock, in place or out of place, streaked, spotted, black,
or white, that showed itself on that mountain-slope,
had been " discovered," named, and recorded. A fine
crop of litigation and pistol-shooting about disputed
titles had been planted. But the title to the Aga
memnon no one disputed: its discoverer was the
benefactor of the district. The saloon-keeper, deeply
impressed by the incident of the stove, advanced five
hundred dollars for a fractional interest in the claim ;
and with this money Young Bullion began operations.
But, foreseeing that it would not last long, he called
the miners together, and proposed, that, instead of
wasting their labor each on his own mine, they should
unite to open the Agamemnon to a considerable,
6G CAMP AND CABIN.
depth, extract a lot of ore, send it to the Bay, and
sell it for the benefit of all parties. This they had
done with unexpected success ; and Young Bullion
had been able to send by express from San Francisco
a good round sum for each of them, besides opening
the negotiation far the sale of his mine. Meanwhile
the news had spread, and the tide of population had
turned again to flood. Empty houses were inhabited
once more; the hotel was re-opened; The Weekly
Nozzle " (christened in honor of a now defunct
hydraulic scheme) began to play again, and talked
of expanding into a daily under the title of "The
Morning Blast ; " and the schoolhouse had once more
Listening to Agamemnon s story made the time
pass rapidly ; and, before we were aware, we were
at the next station, where the horses were to be
changed, and the passengers fed.
I do not know why I have omitted to mention that
the stage was w r ell filled inside, but that the pas
sengers were not a particularly interesting company,
with the exception of one, a singularly intelligent
and refined-looking young woman, w T ho had joined us
at the last station before that at which I went out
side. A new-comer al\vays has a great advantage in
such circumstances. Even an ordinary woman, if
neatly dressed, and spotless as to collar and cuffs,
seems almost a saint or an angel by comparison with
a thoroughly dusty load of travel-worn sufferers.
But this- lady was not an ordinary person. There
was a what s the use of trying to describe her ? I
will at least postpone the desperate task; and per
haps the progress of my story may make it unneces
sary. Suffice it to say here, that an hour s sitting
opposite her in the stage had quite filled my mind
with a sort of tender curiosity as to her character,
her history, and her errand into the rude society of
the Sierra. But Young Bullion, with his quaint and
vigorous narrative, had driven out her image.
It returned, however, with fresh force, when we all
alighted for dinner, and I hastened gallantly to help
her out of the coach, on which occasion, let me say,
I observed that her foot and hand were small, while
her step and clasp were firm. (There s so much of
my description unconsciously done for me, thank
But surely it was not at sight of me that she
blushed, and looked confused ? ]^~o : it was at some
one behind me, to wit, Young Bullion ; and, upon
my word, he was blushing too, unless his complexion
deceived me. The next instant my fair unknown
(yes, she was fair : put that down in the descrip
tion) walked straight up to him, and said in her
peculiarly sweet, clear voice (another item). " How
do you do, Mr. O Ballyhan ? Have you had a pleas
ant journey ? It is quite an unexpected pleasure to
meet you here. I have been spending a day or two
visiting some friends in the Valley." [This with a
68 CAMP AND CABIN.
graceful but indefinite gesture, \vhich might indicate
any thing from Los Angeles to Chico.] "We have
had a little vacation, to get a new floor put in the
It struck me that she seemed a trifle anxious to
answer his possible questions before he asked them.
If so, she need not have feared embarrassment from
any inquisitiveness on his part. In her presence
Young Bullion the capitalist. Agamemnon the ruler
of men, was merely an awkward boy. It was all he
could do to introduce me, at my request. But style
was not important under the circumstances; and I
was satisfied when I found myself on a footing of
agreeable acquaintance with Miss Mary Carleton, the
At the table I managed to improve a good many
opportunities in the way of " passing " the potatoes,
and such delicacies ; and, as Young Bullion closely
watched and eagerly imitated these courtesies, I
fancy Miss Mary was waited upon as never before.
All the company resumed their places at the accus
tomed signal ; and the rest of the journey passed
quietly enough. Agamemnon apparently did not
wish to talk, and, as evening approached, rolled
himself up and went to sleep again on the upper
seat. The shadows deepened in the canons ; and the
red evening-glow slipped upward on the hills, and
faded out at last from their summits into the sky,
where it lingered yet a while before giving place
entirely to the starlight.
Stephen and I chatted sedately and at intervals,
until the spirit of the time charmed us to silence, and
\ve smoked our pipes in placid re very. At midnight
everybody was aroused ; for with cracking of whip,
and barking of dogs, and clattering of hoofs, and
rattling of wheels, we drove up to the Pactolus hotel ;
and nobody was going any farther. I lodged at the
hotel, and saw no more of Young Bullion that night.
Tired as I was, I noted, with a slight touch of envy,
that he re-entered the stage, for the purpose, as I
inferred, of "seeing Miss Mary home."
Next morning, after breakfast, Agamemnon ap
peared, to "talk business." We walked through
the single street of the town, along the edge of
the irregular excavation which had been Nature s
" gulch," and had become man s " diggin s," until
the last house was reached. It was the schoolhouse ;
and Miss Mary, standing in the doorway, just about
to ring the " second bell," waved us a greeting as we
passed. (She had a pretty arm, too !) On a little
height beyond, we paused, and turned to enjoy the
very picturesque prospect of houses and pine-covered
hills, great red excavations, busy miners, and rolling
foot-hills piled behind and below all
" That s whar the O Ballyhans live," said my com
panion, pointing to the house nearest the schoolhouse,
a low, large log-cabin.
" And where does Miss Carleton live ? " I asked.
" She boards with us," he replied curtly, and faced
about to resume the march.
70 CAMP AND GAVIN.
The miners of the West have a notion that the
richest mines are to be sought in the most inacces
sible places. How far this might be recognized, if
otherwise stated, as a fact with a scientific reason,
I will not stop to explain. At all events, it was true
of the Agamemnon, which occupied a very high and
very bare mountain-spur of porphyritic rock, belong
ing properly to a more eastern belt than the granite
and slate of the gulch proper. A lower summit and
a heavy belt of pine-timber separated this desert
height from the settlement. One might say that the
characteristic scenery of two States was here brought
close together. Nevada peeped over a gap in the
edge of the Sierra into California.
I began my examination at once, and soon became
satisfied that it was indeed a mine of extraordinary
value. How this conclusion was reached I do not
need to describe here. But it was only after several
visits, and many careful samplings and measure
ments, that my opinion became definite as well as
positive. Even this definite judgment was held in
abeyance to await the results of the assays of the
samples, to be made at San Francisco.
THE PRODIGAL FATHER.
Ox this first day \ve spent but a couple of hours in
and about the mine, and then returned to town, \vhere
I had accepted an invitation to call on the O Bally-
hans. It was long past the dinner-hour. We had
shared the miners meal at their t4 boarding-house "
on the mountain. As we passed the schoolhouse, the
hum of reciting voices told that Miss Mary was at
work. Presently we entered the rude mansion of
Agamemnon s family.
The door opened directly into a large sitting-room ;
and, as Young Bullion pushed it open without cere
mony, we surprised the paternal O Ballyhan, sitting
before a pine table, and lazily engaged, pipe in mouth,
in some sort of solitary game of cards.
" At it again? " said Agamemnon angrily ; " r n you
hain t copied them papers, neither ! "
" Hem acu tetigisti : bedad ! ye ve touched the thing
acutely, Aggy, me boy : et nihil tettr/isti quod nan orna-
ris//, an ye niver touched any thing that ye didn t
adorn. Come, now, that s rather nate, av ye only
understood it." This airy reply was thrown oft , like
a soap-bubble from a pipe, with a wave of the hand
and an affectation of easy unconcern. Nevertheless,
72 CAMP AND CABIN.
the speaker managed with the same gesture to sweep
the cards into a drawer ; and it was not difficult to
see that the theatrical sire was really in awe of his
The latter paid no attention to the classical effusion
with which he had been greeted, but continued stern
ly, " Been drinkin too. Look here, ole man, this has
got to stop. You hear me ! "
" Vultus est index animi" responded the awful dad :
" sure it s me physiognomy betrays me sowi. In vino
veritas: I couldn t tell ye a lie, me boy. Ecce signum!
there s the bottle ; elieu ! quantum mutatus ab illo ! an
divil a bit left in it ! "
Agamemnon might have proceeded to further in
quiry and rebuke; but, suddenly recollecting my pres
ence, he dropped, for the time, the process of family
discipline, and introduced me as " the quartz-sharp
from San Francisco."
The O Ballyhan rose with exuberant cordiality,
and skipped towards me as if I were his partner in a
contra-dance. I despair of depicting him. Imagine
a grizzly, rummy, bleared visage, surmounted by a
shock of bristling gray hair ; a short, fat figure clad
in a most dilapidated but once gorgeous, large-fig
ured, flowing dressing-gown, which did not pretend
to conceal a very dirty shirt ; tight pantaloons of the
cut and the pattern that were the rage a score of
years ago ; and a pair of slippers that flapped the floor
at every stop: in short, a person without the slightest
AGA MENNON. 73
remaining trace of dandyism. Imagine this being to
talk and move with immense affectation of gentle
manly style, and you may gain some conception of the
O Ballyhan. I ought to add that his hands would
have been white if they had been clean, and that his
pipe was a common, short black "cuddy." His pro
fuse quotations of trite scraps of Latin, usually ac
companied by free translations into English with a
brogue, added to the bizarre and incongruous effect of
his whole appearance.
" Salce . " he exclaimed : " ye re welcome to the
castle o the O Ballyhans. Non sumus quales eramus :
we re not ourselves at all since we left our swate
ancistral hall, natale solum, so to spake. But ccelum
non animum mutant : it s the climate, and not the char
t/ether, they change "
" Qui frans mare currunt, who come to Castle Gar
den," said I, finishing his quotation in his own style.
"Dies fauxtus, cretd notandus I " exclaimed the old
scapegrace, with a gesture as if he w^ould embrace
me : " it s a blissed day it is, an we ll mark it wid
chalk ; that is to say, wid something better. Sure,
Aggy, me boy, ye won t grudge yer old father a glass
to mark the day. Dale obolum Belisario : there s no
use translatin that to ye, ye hard-hearted spalpeen."
The last part of this speech was delivered in an
altered tone, caused by a frown and shake of the head
from Agamemnon, who at this point turned to leave
the room. " Where s Mother? " said he.
74 CAMP AND CABIN.
"In partis inferior thus, it s the back-yard I mane,
sittin in the rockin -chair \vid her otium cum digni-
tate an a favorite author."
True enough, as Agamemnon opened a door oppo
site to that by -which we had entered, I caught a
glimpse of the matron, enjoying the pleasant after
noon air in the manner described. Her rocking-chair
was the genuine article, city made, and doubtless
hauled, with other household belongings, many a
weary mile through ono family pilgrimage after
another. It bore the scars of age and trouble ; but
it was still able to rock, though in a somewhat rick
ety way. Mrs. O Ballyhan was maintaining this mo
tion by timely application of her toes to the ground,
while her eyes were riveted upon a pamphlet, of
which I could only see that the cover was yellow.
Then the door closed behind Agamemnon, and I was
left with the sinful sire.
" It s a foine boy," he began, " but clane spoilt wid
consate, an disrespict o payrints. Sequitur patrem
liaud passibus equis he takes after his father, but he
can t kape up; and it irritates him. Nori tarn Mi
nerva quam Mercurio : it s business he manes, an not
learnin . But he wasn t born wid a rale jaynius for
business, non nascitur fit, faith that s a nate one too,
an it s mesilf 11 show him a thing. Business is
it ? Negotium f Si negotium quceris circumspice. Siste
viator! Av ye re travelin on business, talk wid the
Here he assumed a significant air, which convinced
me that he intended some confidential communica
tion. Suspecting at the same time that the tawdry
adornments of Latin quotations and misquotations in
his discourse were deliberately affected, I said, " Well,
Mr. O Ballyhan, if you have any thing to say about
the business on which I am traveling, it is my busi
ness to hear you. But we shall save time if we
confine ourselves to English."
" Lex loci" said the incorrigible scamp, in a final
effort to impose upon me: "it s the custom o the
country. These barbarians, damnatl a<l metalla, con-
dimned to work in the mines, so to spake, pretind to
talk nothin but English, an a voile mess they make
o that too. But /YfcVrt est alea in medias res: I ll begin
wid the business immajitly, an it s dumb in the dead
languages I ll be to plaze ye, till 1 have the honor to
resave ye in Ballyhan Castle, County Clare, wid me
complate edition o the Auctores Classic! ad Usum
Del/jhini in the bookcase behind our two selves, an*
the amphora, wid the sugar and the hot vvather, on the
table afore us."
After all, he seemed to*take so much squalid com
fort in his Latin, that I was half sorry I had tried to
cut it short. But the voice of Agamemnon was heard
outside ; and the old man had only time to say,
" Whisht ! I ll mate ye sub rosa (beggin your par
don) to-night in the little grane-room at the back o
the International saloon, and tell ye what s important,
7G CAMP AND CABIN.
if true (an true it is) ; an in the best of English I ll
tell it, on the \vurrd of an Oirish jintleman ! " Then
the door opened, and Agamemnon ushered in his
After making the acquaintance of Mrs. O Ballyhan,
I was lost in wonder, that from such a couple the
keen, energetic, and straightforward son could have
sprung. It was a clear case of what the philosophers
call atavism, the re-appearance, in some remote
descendant, of ancestral qualities which are entirely
wanting in the intermediate generations. Doubtless,
I reflected, the stimulating atmosphere of this newest
New World had developed the dormant germs of
character in Young Bullion.
Few words will suffice for Mrs. O Ballyhan. She
was, perhaps, the most utterly negative, washed-out
woman I ever met. In all my observation of her I
detected only two feelings that had survived the
otherwise complete wreck of will and emotion;
namely, her appetite for novel-reading, and her ad--
miration for her humbug of a husband. Toward
Agamemnon, whose industry and executive ability
were the only support of tlie family, she entertained,
apparently, only the mournful sentiment that he was
not like his father. I tried once to converse with her
on the subject of a sensational romance which she had
just been reading, and the result convinced me that
she did not remember a word or scene of it. She was
like a drunkard, who tastes his liquor only for a brief
instant while he swallows it, and can not recall its
flavor in his craving for more.
I wondered who cooked and washed, surely not
this mere echo of a woman? and who maintained
the general order of the house, the interior of which
was by no means so slovenly in appearance as its
nominal master and mistress. Two windows mutely
answered my two mental queries. Through one of
them I saw John Chinaman carrying an armful of
wood to the kitchen ; through the other, Miss Mary
Carleton, briskly returning from school.
I was curious to see what sort of conversation could
come of such a strange mixture of ingredients.
Would the O Ballyhan continue to spout maudlin
classics, and his spouse sit in rapt vacuity, with her
finger in the place where she had left off reading?
Would Agamemnon talk about the mine, which must
be Greek to the school-teacher, and the school-teacher
discourse concerning topics that must be equally
Greek to Agamemnon?
"Greek to Agamemnon!" The w r himsical coinci
dence carried my thought further. Of course Miss
Mary would have tact, and would speak with Aga
memnon in his own tongue as it were. A superior
being like her would know how to come down to the
level of half-grown natures. Then I found that I
was forgetting the whole race of O Ballyhans, and
thinking with all my might of the pretty school
teacher; and then the door opened, and she stood
78 CAMP AND CABIN.
like a picture against the background of pine-woods
She did not enter, but said she was going to the
post-office to mail a letter. I offered to accompany
her ; and she assented graciously, observing, that, as
the office was next door to the hotel, it would not take
me out of my way. So, making an appointment with
Agamemnon for the following morning, I took leave
of the O Ballyhans.
We walked slowly down the street in the slant sun
shine. What we said as we walked, I think is hardly
worth repetition. Indeed, I remember of it only ho\v
hard I tried to be agreeable, and how neatly she foiled
my attempts to learn any thing about herself.
After supper, as I sat lazily on the porch, watching
a dog-fight in the "middle distance," I became aware
of the presence of the O Ballyhan, who had come
from his mansion by the perilous road of the gulch
itself to avoid the keen eyes of Agamemnon, or the
greetings of tell-tale acquaintances. Everybody knew
that he was under filial surveillance, and in process of
reform against his will ; and there were thoughtless
persons who would not have hesitated to ask him, in
a too sonorous and repetitious way, whether he had a
pass from his son to be out after dark.
"Bedad!"he said in a stage-whisper, as he came
suddenly upon me out of the shadows, " it s hard
worrk I had to lave em behind, domus et placens uxor,
an thim sharp eyes o the school-misthress an me
firrst-borrn. Av they hadn t fell a-talkin \vid wan
another, actum est de Repitblica, it would a been all
up wid the O Ballyhan. But I gev era the slip ;
an the O Ballyhan kapes his worrd non sine pul-
vere, not widout a dale o throuble. Sure I came
widin an ace of findin meself paddlin about in yur-
ghe vasto in the ould hydthraulic reservoir. A rare
swimmer I d a been an that s a nate thing too,
av ye comprehind it ! "
I was in no mood for the old fellow s discursive
conversation, and I brought him peremptorily to biisi-
ness. Thereupon he led the way to the neighboring
saloon, and, entering by a back-door, showed me into
a room of considerable size, in which a motley crowd
was gathered about a green-baize-covered table, intent
upon gambling. No one paid attention to us; al
though the O Ballyhan, following an impulse which
he could not resist, paused at the table, and stood on
tiptoe, to watch the game over the shoulders of the
"Maybe ye d loike to try yer luck," he whispered.
" Audaces fortuna juvat, the bould boy s the lucky wan !
Or ye moight make use o my supayrior skill an
expayrience, by permittin me the honor to invist a
small amount for ye?"
I shook my head sternly, and motioned him away.
" Ah, thin, it s a comforthable drop ye d prefer. Ad
utrumque paratm the O Ballyhan s ready to accom
modate ye." He withdrew me to a small table in a
80 CAMP AND CABIN.
remote corner, and, disappearing for a moment, re
turned with two glasses full of some variety of alco
holic "mixed drink," such as the seasoned palates
of Pactolus required. When I declined to join him,
he proceeded in due course to perform duty for both
of us, and, as I found afterwards, at my expense.
(" D ye think," said the barkeeper forcibly, " that
we d a trusted that old galoot for half a dozen
drinks, if he hadn t ordered for a respectable gent? ")
After all these preliminaries, he began to develop
his important communication. It was twofold : first,
he wanted to bribe me; secondly, he tried to black
mail my clients through me. He had the power to
destroy the value of the title to the Agamemnon lode,
and would use it if he were not bought off. To this
I replied, "Very well. If there is any such trouble
about the title, I shall advise my clients to have
nothing to do with it, and of course I shall tell your
son the ground of my unfavorable decision. "
At this he began to weep, with whisky and emotion,
and lapsed into Latin, from which his strictly busi
ness communication had been comparatively free.
" Est qucedam jiere voluptas, there s a certain relayf
in tares," quoth he: "hinc illce lachrymce. But ye
wouldn t tell the boy, now, nee prece nee pretio, not for
love nor money. Sure, he d murther me." And, in
his dismay over this prospect, he abandoned his plan
of operations, and confessed that his claim to the title
of the mine consisted merely in the fact that Aga-
memnon was a minor, and that he was consequently
himself the real owner. After which I had to help
As I turned away from his door, with his " Serus in
ccdum redeas, may ye live a thousand yares, an spind
all yer avenin s in improvin conversation wid the
O Ballvhan ! " sounding in my ears, I saw through a
window Miss Mary Carle ton in her own room. She
sat, pen in hand, with a half-written letter before her.
Her face was raised, and her eyes were turned upward.
AVas she thinking of some absent friend, or only hunt
ing after a suitable adjective? 1 know not; but I
know that she had a beautiful profile.
I FELT it my duty, on the following day, to call
Young Bullion s attention to the possible defect in
his title to the mine which bore his name. He
chuckled with a knowing air, and, instead of reply
ing to the point, at once began to tease me about
my interview with his father.
" Th ole man show ye how to play cards ? "
" No : I didn t choose to learn."
82 CAMP AND CABIN.
" Stuck ye for the drinks, hey ? I knowed it when
I see yer towin him home."
" For his drinks. Yes : I must confess I was obliged
to pay for them, or make trouble. But how did you
happen to see us ? I thought you were all abed,
except Miss Carleton. There was a light in her
" Oh ! T was jest prowlin around, n thinkin matters
over who does she keep a-writin to, n stoppin, n
cryin ? That s what I want ter know ! " he added
With sublime virtue I replied that I didn t know,
and that perhaps it was none of our business.
44 Ke-retY," said Young Bullion: " it s none o yours.
But it s my business when she cries, now, you bet!
She ain t a-goin to cry if Agamemnon O Ballyhan
can help it."
" Who is she ? " I inquired.
"Ain t a man in this camp as know r s. She jest
come down on the camp out o the sky, s ef she was
sent. Ye see, when things got livelier, on account o
the quartz, the boys said we orter start up the school-
house agin. Some on em was for havin church too,
right away ; said it looked more like civ l zation : n
the others said no, they couldn t afford to run a fust-
class parson, an they warn t goin to have no cheap
sardine of a parson to bring the gospel into con
tempt. Nor they couldn t agree on the kind o church,
to begin with. Some of em up 11 said they was
Catholics, an some was Methodists, n so on ; n,
afore the meetin that we had to consider the ques
tion come to ajourn, there was a dozen religions a-cuss-
in one another, where nobody knowed, up to that
time, there was ary one. So they broke up in a row ;
n the next day a committee come round to me, n
said the camp was goin to leave it to me, cause my
head was level, n I hadn t got no prejudices.
" Well, gentlemen. says I, yer wrong than ye
hain t allowed for curiosity. I never was inside of a
church while she was in operation; n I m o good
mind to give it a trial. But we ll wait n see how
the mines turn out, n we ll get the school to produ-
cin reg lar, n at the same time we can prospect
around, n stake out for a church. Then they had
another meeting, n lected me chairman o the com
mittee on education n religion. Th ole man, he
thought he d got a soft thing, n was going to be
principal o the academy. But I sot on him. N in
a day or two along come Miss Carleton, n said she
was a candidate. Well, we hed a meetin o the com
mittee, n they asked her fur her references; n she
give one o her looks, ye know, n said right out,
straight n clear, Gentlemen, says she, fur reasons
o my own, I don t propose to give references. I have
taught school in the States, n I think I am compe
tent. If you will give me a trial, you will soon find
out whether I can manage and teach the children.
"French Joe, he was on the committee, n he ob-
84 CAMP AND CABIN.
jected. But somebody said how would he like to
furnish references, n he shut up quick. N Miss
Carle ton turned round n spoke about a dozen words
to him in his own lingo, clear French; n Joe was
unanimous for her after that, you bet! Well, the
more they talked, the more they liked her; n at last
they voted her in. Now there ain t a man in Pacto-
lus that wouldn t go through fire n water to serve
"Then, since your school is so well provided for,"
said I, "you are about ready to start a church."
" I ain t no jedge o that," responded Young Bullion ;
" but I guess our boys d rather hev things as they
are. You see, Miss Carleton has half the camp up to
the schoolhouse every Sunday afternoon to her Bible-
readin s ; n the boys spend a good part o the fore
noon fixin up n gettin ready, n that keeps em out
o mischief. Besides, nobody d want to go to Bible-
readin tight: so they jist haul off early Saturday
night, nstead o keepin t up all night n all Sun
day. N they set round there till dark, talkin an
thinkin it over; n what she says jest stays by a
feller. Somebody sort o mentioned the church busi
ness the other day, 11 all he got was to dry up : what
was the use o leasin a priest, s long s we had one
o the Lord s own angels free ? "
Agamemnon s eloquence on this subject might have
continued indefinitely ; but I remembered my duty
to my employers, and reminded him that the serious
question of title ought to be settled immediately,
since, without a satisfactory basis in that particular, I
could not properly spend time and labor in examining
"Oh!" said he, "that s all right. The ole man
don t git ahead o me! Why, he was a-copyin the
papers yesterday ; n when he found that one of em
was a full deed o his right, title, n interest, he
thought he d struck it rich. Didn t know he hed any
right, title, n interest up to that time. N he hain t,
accordin to the laws o this district. But I jest got a
p int or two through my agent in San Francisco, so as
to make things all serene ; n when he said the law
yers said that wards, minors, n id jits, n so forth,
couldn t give deeds, says I, Who s an idjit ? Oh !
says he, * it s a minor you are. What kind of a
minor, says I, * if I can t sell a mine ? But James
he wa n t no slouch. He understood it right up to
the handle ; n he explained it all, n we got the papers
fixed before I left."
" But perhaps your father will refuse to sign, unless
you pay him some of the money."
" He won t sign, won t he?" said Young Bullion
with superb contempt. " He d sign away his ole soul
for five dollars, or one dollar, or two bits ; n he ll
sign that thar deed for nothin when I tell him to."
" You seem to be very confident of your power over
him. Do you use corporal punishment in the fam
ily? " I asked jocosely. *
86 CAMP AND CABIN.
He took my question quite in earnest. " I know
what you mean," said he : "we had a talk about that
in the school committee ; n Miss Carleton said she
wouldn t hev it. But it s a hefty thing to fall back
on. As to my family, I never had to lick th old man
but once ; but I did it up in style that time. He was
bangin* th ole woman about the room ; n I made up
my mind if he couldn t set a better example n that,
I d commence n boss the shebang myself. But I ve
got a better holt on him than that. Don t you worry:
he ll sign."
I suspected afterwards, no matter on what evidence,
that the son had saved the father from either lynch
ing or jail by paying some claim, which, if pressed,
would have convicted the old scamp of felony ; and
that he now held in terrorem over the culprit s head,
for purposes of reform, the proofs of the crime.
What a strange feeling he must have entertained
towards a father whom he could make r,uch sacrifices
to save, and then govern by a mixture of thrashing
and blackmail ! Young Bullion s code of ethics was
certainly confused. He seemed to have a sense that
the family was a burden laid on him by fate, to be
borne without complaining, and a fierce determina
tion, that, though it was a burden, it should cease to
be a disgrace.
My examination of the mine and neighborhood
was prolonged through that week and the next. I
sent off very early, however, my preliminary report
and a box of samples by express, with a letter to my
clients, saying that I would await further advices, and
watch the developments of the work then going on.
This was no doubt wdse : but I was conscious that
circumstances made it also pleasant ; for, as the days
went on, I became, in every respect except her own^
personal history, very well acquainted with Miss Carle-
ton. We had many subjects of conversation which
she could not discuss with the rude inhabitants of
Pactolus. She possessed the great charm of direct
ness and simplicity. Perfectly aware of the worship
ing regard of her constituency, she spoke of it as
openly, and yet with as little vanity (or affected mod
esty, which is the same thing), as if it were another
person, and not herself, that \vas concerned. " It is a
great pleasure," she said one day, "to be really a
superior being/ and to go down to help and lift such
thankful souls as these. There is a sort of intoxica
tion about it for a young w T oman of twenty-one."
" Do you never feel a longing for some compan
ionship more congenial, more like what you have
been accustomed to ? "
"I did; and I am grateful to you for taking so
much interest in my work, giving me such intelligent
I felt a little guilty at this ; for my interest in the
work was certainly subordinate to my interest in
the woman. Our acquaintance, however, remained on
the same footing as at first. I wondered why I could
88 CAMP AND CABIN.
not even assume the fraternal tone. When she was
sad, as I often fancied she was, why did she so effec
tively evade sympathy, saying, " Now I am tired and
melancholy, don t mourn with me, but make me
laugh ? " And why
Well, thus I drifted, until it was high time for me
to stop wondering over her position, and take an
observation as to my own. But everybody knows
that it may be high time for some duty, and yet one
may take no note of the time until some signal
sounds the hour. At last the clock struck for me.
On the second Saturday a letter arrived from my
clients, advising me that the results of all assays had
been favorable beyond my estimates, and that, if my
own judgment continued to approve the purchase,
they would close the bargain at once. I was instruct
ed to see that the papers were made out in due form,
and Mr. O Ballyhan could then express them to his
agent in San Francisco, who could deliver them, and
receive the money.
I went at once to Young Bullion, half expecting
that this good news would startle him out of his
preternatural maturity. It would have been a relief
to hear him whoop with joy, or see him stand on his
head. But he turned pale, and staggered as if he had
" It s most too much for me," he said ; " not the
With an effort that gave me a higher conception
* AGAMEMNON. 89
than ever of his manly self-control, he turned hastily
to the table-drawer, and produced the papers of
title. They were complete in every particular, the
certificate of original location, the deeds of the co-
locators to Agamemnon Atrides O Ballyhan, the com
plete and absolute quit-claim of Miles O Ballyhan
and Leonora his wife, to the said Agamemnon, all
duly acknowledged and indorsed by the proper officer,
as recorded in the proper " Liber." The young man
had evidently not been idle. He must have ridden
to the county-seat, many miles away, to secure these
last, and in those days somewhat unusual, evidences
of regularity. The papers were all in the same
handwriting, an elaborate, flourishing script, which
he said was the old man s. Finally he showed me
another deed, transferring the title in blank, and not
yet signed. " When I put my name to that," said
he, "the thing s drove in n clinched. I left this one
blank ; because, if your folks didn t buy, I might want
to use it for some one else."
"I find every thing in order," I replied. "You
have only to fill up and execute this final deed, and
send it to your agent."
Then I walked out, and up into the woods, and medi
tated for a long time upon non-professional matters,
without coming to any conclusion.
Should I seek a final interview with Miss Carleton ?
and, if so, what should I say to her? I was not so
really "in love" as to deliberately intend to offer my-
90 CAMP AND CABIN.
self to her without knowing any thing of her history;
yet I felt that a farewell talk might lead rne to just
that rash act, unless I definitely decided beforehand
what should be its nature.
My reflections were suddenly interrupted by the
appearance of the lady herself. Since it was Sat
urday afternoon, and therefore holiday, she \vas
evidently intending to use her freedom for a walk.
Ordinarily I would have hastened to join her, with
a pleasant impression that my company was not un
welcome. This time, however, I hesitated; because
I had not yet finished my mental debate, and was
in a perilous state of impressible uncertainty. I re
mained sitting a little distance from the path, in the
expectation that she would pass by without seeing
me ; then, I thought, I would hasten to make up my
mind, and on her return I could casually meet her,
prepared to speak as the result of my reflection might
dictate. I ought to add that prudence would have
had, in any case, nothing to say if I had been able to
see any signs of a more than friendly interest on her
part; but I could not honestly say to myself that
any such sign had been discernible hitherto. I could
not doubt that a declaration of any special interest on
my part would be a great surprise to her ; and really,
I was not myself prepared to make it, unless hurried
over the edge of deliberation by some sudden im
She neither saw me nor passed me : on the con-
trary, she stepped aside from the path, and seating
herself on a fallen tree a few yards in front of me,
and with her back to me, read and re-read a letter ;
then, looking steadfastly down over the town, and
out through the gulch, toward the foot-hills and the
valley, she seemed to be weeping. Which would be
more embarrassing? to make my presence known,
or to remain an involuntary witness of her suffering?
I had just resolved to go forward and speak to her
any words that would comfort her when a new inci
dent checked my purpose. Headlong up the path
came Mr. Agamemnon Atrides O Ballyhan. There
was no indecision about his manner. He came, to
use a homely comparison, "as if he had been sent
NOT MISS MARY BUT "QUITE CONTRAIRY."
A MOMENT more, and he stood before Miss Carleton.
" I saw ye goin up the hill," he said breathlessly,
" n I thought I d catch yer. The Agamemnon s sold,
Miss Mary : she s sold ! "
With ready sympathy, putting aside her own trouble,
she replied, " How glad I am ! Now what will you
92 CAMP AND CABIN.
" That s what what I was a-goin to ask y about.
Ye see, I s pose th ole man n Mother ought to be
fixed somehow ; ought to be took care of, I mean.
Not to have any money: they can t take care o
money. Ye see, he d spend it in cards n whisk} ,
n she d spend it in novels and opium. Gets opium
on the sly from the Chinamen. Now, I mean to ap-
pint Cripple Dan gardeen for them two. He ll never
do no more work since the bank caved in on him ; but
he is smart enough to watch ? em, n not be took in by
any o their tricks. He can play cards with th ole
man to keep him out o gamblin , n he can buy nov
els as fast as Mother can swaller em. Shouldn t
wonder if he could ring in some o th old ones on
her once in a while, by changin the covers. But
whisky n opium they must be kep out."
"A very practical arrangement, I should say.
But what are you going to do? "
At this simple question Young Bullion became
much embarrassed. " Do you," said he, " Miss Mary
would you is seventy-five thousand dollars
enough, do you think, to run a reg lar gentleman s
house ? "
She sighed involuntarily. " It is enough to main
tain a happy home with every comfort and luxury.
There are many refined gentlemen who bring up
their families in content on far less money than the
income of that sum."
" Well, but Miss Mary would it be enough for
you f "
She started in astonishment. " For me ? What do
you mean ? "
" I mean," replied the young man, conquering his
timidity, and speaking with a simple dignity that
made him handsome, "I mean that you are the one
that made me want to be a gentleman, n I can t be
a gentleman unless you help me ; n I love the ground
you tread on, Miss Mary. If you ll be my wife, you
shall never work, or cry, or be sorry again."
There was a moment of painful silence. Then she
said, "I did not dream of this. I am so much older
than you, you know."
" You are not so very much older," he pleaded.
"That is not what troubled me. But you are so
much better n wiser, that s what s the matter with
you ! I wouldn t a dared to speak to ye ; but I
knowed ye was in trouble. N now the Agamem
non s sold, n what s it all good for, f I can t give it
to you ? "
" My dear friend," she answered slowly, but with
that simple frankness which belonged to her, " I have
been I am in trouble ; but I can not take your
help. You must forget, as I will forget, all that you
have said, but not the kindness that prompted it, nor
the gratitude with which I refuse it."
Agamemnon looked keenly at her, with the air of
one who still pursued a fixed purpose. The refusal
of his offer did not seem to be a conclusive defeat to
94 CAMP AND CABIN.
" Ye couldn t change yer mind ? " he asked reflec
" Not never ? Not if I was older n I be ? "
" Never. You must not think of it."
u Then ye re married to some other feller! " said
Agamemnon, with a sad triumph. "Now, Miss
Mary, it ain t no business o mine, I know; but ye d
better tell me, anyhow. Wouldn t ifc sort o quiet my
mind, n do me good, hey ? "
This subtle appeal to her benevolence accomplished
what no inquisitive stratagem could have compassed.
After a slight hesitation she said, " There is not much
to tell, and it is not very important that I should
keep it secret, only I have preferred to do so ; and I
trust you to help me in that. Yes, I am married; and
my dear husband is slowly recovering at at a place
on the San Joaquin, from a long, wasting fever, I
left him when he was pronounced out of danger, and
I have seen him but once since then. It was the
other day, when I took the journey by stage from
which I returned on the same coach with you. It is
hard to be parted from him.
" Now, don t ye cry again, Miss Mary. It ain t none
o my business, ye know ; but it would sort o settle
my mind he s good to ye, ain t he ? Ye didn t go
for to leave him cause he wouldn t let ye boss the
ranch ? "
- The ranch V " she replied sadly. " I left him be-
cause, after his long illness, we were so poor that we
were in danger of losing our pretty ranch altogether,
and of starving perhaps, unless one of us could get
work. That one was I ; and the work I understand
best is teaching."
" You bet ! " assented Young Bullion with enthusi
asm. " But jest to ease iny mind completely, ye
know why didn t you tell somebody afore? This
camp would a raised yer salary, n fetched yer hus
band up here, n built ye a shebang, n look here,
what line o business is he in ? "
"He is a minister."
" Whoop la ! " shouted Young Bullion : " that s our
lay exactly. There s a fust-class vacancy right here,
n I ll no, T guess I couldn t quite stand it, hevin
him around : that s what s the matter with me ! But
why didn t you tell us afore this this trouble was
made? We d a voted him n you in unanimous.
Anybody that s a good nough husband fer you s a
good nough minister fer us."
" I wish I had told you all at the beginning," said
she ; " but, perhaps, if I had done so, you would have
declined my services altogether. I heard about your
dispute over a minister, and I feared to let you know
I was a minister s wife. It was so important, so very
important to me then, to get a place immediately."
Young Bullion made no reply. If what he had
heard had not " eased his mind," it had at least given
him much to think about. The silence which ensued
06 CAMP AND CABIN.
recalled me to a sense of ray embarrassing position as
a listener ; and, with sudden presence of mind, I
"You must pardon me, my friends," I said, "that
I have overheard your conversation. Nothing that
you have said shall be repeated. But every word has
deepened my respect for both of you. If I can in any
way be of service to you, Mrs. Mrs. Mary, you
have only to command me as a faithful friend."
Then I lifted my cap, and retired in as good order as
a fellow could under the circumstances.
I had gone but a few steps when Young Bullion
overtook me. That boy s penetration was most an
noying at times, and this w r as one of the times.
" Goin to play fer the school-teacher yerself, wa n t
ye, if I hedn t got the call fust?" was his dreadful
greeting. u Well, tain t no use fer nary one of us.
You jest go n thank the Lord y ever knowed her, n
don t you whine cause she s picked out a better man.
No cryin over spilt milk. That s me ! " And he
straightened himself until his short stature visibly
I got rid of Young Bullion as soon as practicable,
and went to the hotel in a dazed condition, as if I
had fallen from the top of the mountain, and rolled
down the gulch. When one has seriously weighed a
question like that which had occupied my thoughts
that afternoon, it is inevitably startling to find that it
was a matter wholly beyond question all the time. I
wanted to think it over. But I did not succeed in
thinking it over on the porch after supper: so I
went to bed to meditate there ; and finally I went to
sleep, my last reflection being, that I would review the
whole matter on the morrow, after which I would pay
the school-teacher a cordial, friendly farewell call.
But the morrow brought its own topics for surprise
and reflection. At early dawn I was waked by a
hand on my shoulder, and, turning sleepily in bed,
met the energetic look of Agamemnon Atrides O Bal-
lyhan. He, at least, had thought over his situation,
and made his decision.
" Sorry to h ist ye so early," said he ; " but I m off.
Now, don t ye go fer to ask no questions, but tend to
business. Here s them papers : they re all right, n
you ll find my directions along with em. I m off.
Take care o yerself, ole boy." And he was gone.
I opened the package he had left on rny bed. It
contained all the papers I had previously inspected.
The final deed, however, had been filled up and exe
cuted ; and I was not a little surprised to find my
own name inserted as the new owner of the Agamem
non. Enclosed in the deed, however, was a document
in a cramped schoolboy hand which threw full light
on the transaction. It ran as follows :
" This is my Will But I aint ded no nor goin to be but
I am as good as ded wich it is All the Same line gon over
the Range the mine belongs to miss mary and u give her
the inunny she kuos about Criple dann and the olrnan
93 CAMP AND CABIN.
and mother you pay my agent 1 tliousn Dolars and doan
take nothin for yureself yure foaks pays u with the munny
i antid up i truss u becaus u likt miss mary too.
"AGAMEMNON ATBIDES O BALLYHAN."
Why should I detain the reader with an account of
what followed V It was not easy for me to execute
the charge confided to me. The lady at first utterly
refused to accept the strange legacy of which I was
trustee. But I succeeded in persuading her to take
the money, and carry out Agamemnon s wishes until
he should be found, an event which I felt sure he
would not permit to happen. " Get your husband to
come here and live," I said. u If the boy ever means
to be seen again, it is to this place he will come ; and
it is here, in the good work you have begun, of which
his own awakened manhood was one of the first-
fruits, that you should expend the income of his
Cripple Dan, it turned out, had been already sound
ed as to his willingness to take charge of the two way
ward O Ballyhans on a handsome allowance for the
three. He assumed the position at once, and smashed
two hidden bottles for the O Ballyhan the first day.
That disconsolate old toper supposed the orders for
this vandalism proceeded from the school-teacher.
" Dux fcemina factij it s a woman is in it: cedant arma
toyce, the glory o the O Ballyhans is swipt away be a
petticoat," was his lament. But he submitted to be
made comfortable, and seemed none the worse for his
SIMILIA SIMILIBUS CURANTUR.
THUS I left them all, and closed a chapter in my
own life which I expected never to re-open. But
time brings about unexpected coincidences; and what
should it bring to me, the ether day, ten years after
the even Is narrated in this story, but a visit from Aga
memnon Atrides O Ballyhan ? a prosperous, manly
fellow as one would wish to see, with stylish clothes
and a fine mustache. And on his arm could I be
lieve my eyes ? Was it the school-teacher, become as
much younger as Agamemnon had grown, older ?
"Mrs. O Ballyhan," said he proudly, "Miss Mary s
sister. You and I didn t feel very happy that day,
you know; but now I m glad I waited." The latter
remark was fortunately an aside, so that Mrs. O Bal
lyhan did not hear it.
. "You bet!" I answered, clothing due felicitation
in what I thought would be congenial style. But
1 was mistaken as to the style. Agamemnon had
" swore off " from slang so far as human nature would
permit. Only now and then, as he confessed, "con
versation got the better of him."
During the short half-hour that the happy pair sat
in my office, my old friend gave me an outline of his
100 CAMP AND CABIN.
career from the day when we had parted. It would
make another story by itself, and I am sorry that it
must be condensed in a few lines.
After striking it rich " again, over the Range in
Nevada, and accumulating from several lucky hits a
fortune at least double that which he had given away,
he had returned to Pactolus six years from the day of
" It took me about that time," said he, "to get over
things. But then I couldn t rest till I had seen the
old place, and so I came back.. The old folks were
both dead best thing for em. But there was the
minister and his wife just about worshiped by every
body ; and there was an Agamemnon Academy, and
an Agamemnon Free Library, and so on, all built
with the interest of my money. You d better believe
everybody was astonished to see me. All thought [
was dead, sure, except Miss Mary : she stuck to it
I would come back. Even when they found some
body s bones over in the sage-brush beyond the sum
mit, and had a funeral on em, she wouldn t let em
call my name at the funeral, nor put it on the tomb
" Well, they wanted me to take back my capital.
But I told em I d got enough ; and, at any rate, there
wasn t any hurry. I d stay round a while, and con
sider. So, after I had considered a little, I went to
Miss Mary and the parson, and says I, What 1 want
is to go to school. I feel pretty old; but I guess I
ain t too old to learn. You see, my Susy here, she
was assistant teacher in the academy, and I thought
she could teacli me if anybody could. But they said
I was too big to go and sit on the benches in the
academy. Susy said she couldn t think of trying to
manage a scholar twenty-two years old: that was so
very old, a whole year older than she was! So I
had to take up with the minister s offer to give me
private instruction. And I got my pay, too, before
long; for the minister said I got ahead so fast that I
had better join the reading-class. That meant to
come every other day and read and talk over books
with him and his wife and Susy.
"It was a good while before I made up to Susy.
Had a good lesson once, you know and, besides,
I had got more bashful. The more I learned, the
more 1 found I didn t know ; and I felt so ugly and
clumsy, and inferior every way, it didn t seem as if a
lady like her would care for me unless it was by
reason of the two hundred thousand dollars. But
Susy didn t know about that, and she wouldn t have
minded it a mite if she had. Fact is, she thought a
good deal better of me than I deserved all the time ;
for her folks had been cracking me up for years and
years, and all the Academy Commencements and the
Annual Reports had a lot in em about the * munifi
cent founder and the generous benefactor, and I
don t know what all; and so, when I turned up alive
at last, she was prepared to believe I w r as better than
102 CAMP AND CABIN.
I looked. Anyhow, I got to be like one of the fam
ily ; and Susy was as good as she could be, and took
no end of pains with me, to help me put on a little
style, and talk the correct thing, and so on. And one
day she was showing me how to hold yarn for her to
wind; and says I, sitting there as meek as a lamb,
4 Seems to me, if you couldn t manage a big boy of
twenty-two, you ve somehow got the knack of mana
ging him now he s nigh twenty-four.
" Well, one thing led to another ; and that skein
of yarn got so tangled (because I forgot to lay it
down), that Susy said it should never be unraveled.
She keeps it as a curiosity.
" The next morning I went to the parson, and says
I, Now let s talk business. I ll take that hundred
thousand back, just to please you; though I ve got
twice as much, and I don t want it. He said, i All
right ; but he looked a little cast down too. Par
sons are human.
"* Now, says I, it s mine ; and I m going to make
another business proposition. You marry Susy and
me, and I ll give you, say, a hundred thousand dollars
as a wedding-fee.
" * Oho ! says he. * Well, my boy ; she s worth it.
You ve made a good bargain, and so have I.
" That was two years ago ; and Susy and I have
just been the happy pair you read about, ever since.
She s been going right ahead with my education, and
got about as much polish on me, I guess, as the grain
will bear. You can t make mahogany out o red
wood, if you rub it for ever. So the other day I
made a little turn in Agamemnon stock, those
blamed fools in California Street thought the mine
was played out. when they had a new body of first-
class ore right under their noses, and I asked Susy
if she didn t think a little foreign travel was about
the thing to finish off with. She wasn t long saying
yes to that ; and here we are, bound for everywhere.
I expect we ll go round the world before we stop."
We had a most friendly and familiar chat; and the
last I heard of them was as they were departing in
merry mood together, and the sweet voice of Mrs.
O Ballyhan said, " He offered to get the Legislature to
change it; but I said No. I like him just as he is,
name and all Agamemnon Atrides O Ballyhan."
She laughed a musical laugh of mingled mirth and
pride as she added, glancing fondly at her husband,
44 But I call him * my dear, for short."
A NEW-ENGLAND STORY.
SQUIRE AND DEACON.
|T was a bright., still day, after the first hard
frost. The chestnuts were dropping in the
woods; and Squire Hawkins, one of the
selectmen of the town of Hucklebury, was
burning brush on his side-hill ten-acre-lot. The
squire had got through with the heavy work, and had
nothing to do but to watch the fire while he tinkered
here and there at the fence. So, when Deacon Pea-
body s white horse, pulling a shay with the deacon
in it, came in sight on the hill-road, the squire had
no reason to deny himself the expectation of a com
fortable and leisurely clr >: From where he stood,
he could see the turnpike tuat came from the corners
arid went through the valley, past the red school-
house, and past Westcott s sawmill, to Hucklebury
WIDOW BAKER. 105
Center and South Ilucklebury, and so on to larger
places. And when he saw the deacon s shay turn
from the pike and begin to ascend the hill-road, he
knew that in about fifteen minutes the deacon would
be at hand. That gave him time to fix up one more
length of fence, and to fold his arms sociably on the
top-rail, ready for an. interview. The deacon s horse
stopped opposite the squire, without needing any hint
from his driver. He knew the custom of the coun
try, and was not averse to it, particularly when the
opportunity to observe it occurred on a convenient,
level spot, at the end of a steep pull.
"Wai, Deacon," said the squire heartily, "I m glad
to see ye out agin. We ve kind o missed ye at
meetin , n everywhere else too, for that matter. The
parson, he says he s all lost o Sundays thout you to
look at : dunno whether he s been sufficiently explicit
on a tough pint o doctrine, or not. You took it most
too hard, Deacon. Grief is nateral, of course, to a
reasonable extent; but Mis Peabody had been a-
f ailiu so long, ye know ; and it was a gret marcy
she passed away comfortable in body an mind; an ,
on the hull, there s much to be thankful for. I
expect it is kind o lonesome, now she s gone ; " and
the squire paused, W 7 ith the air of one who had
administered consolation and rebuke in wise propor
Deacon Phineas Peabody took no offense where
none was meant. He had nursed his invalid wife
106 CAMP AND CABIN.
through her long illness, an old-fashioned, slow
consumption, and he had shut himself up for a
month after her death, in a silent sorrow too deep
for words ; but now he had braced himself again for
the duties of life, and he quite assented to the rough
but well-meant observations of his friend.
" Yes," said the deacon meditatively, " she lasted a
good while ; *n I dunno s I ever quite giv up hopin
about her. She d git a little better some weeks, n
then agin a little wuss ; n she was allers lookin on
the dark side herself, so / sort o got in the way o
s posin mebbe she wa n t so bad s she thought for.
Them last drops that her sister Mahaly sent up from
Boston seemed to take right hold of her cough. But
it wa n t no use : it was ordained. Cynthy w r as right,
after all. I s pose the Lord kind o prepared her for
what was comin ."
"There s Susan," said the squire. "She must be
gret comfort to ye. She s a good gal, Susan is. I ve
follered her ever sence she was a little bit of a thing,
comin over to our house after maple-sugar. I used
to think young Jotham Baker and she would make a
match on t; but, bless you! these young folks will
hev their own idees, and they re too sharp for us old
fellows to find em out. I tell ye, I was jest up-an -
down mortified when Jotham carne to me, an told me
he was engaged to Westcott s darter Nancy. Not
but she was a nice gal, n I had nothin agin the
match, except that old Westcott was a Methodist n
WIDOW BAKER. 107
a Democrat, n it did Seem kind o mean to hold Nancy
responsible for that. But I thought, after all his
goin s on with Susan, it wasn t jest exactly right for
him to go off arter another one ; n I told him so.
Says I, Jotham, my boy, there ain t no objection to
your takin a wife, in the fear o the Lord, wherever
you find her, amongst the Moabites, or the Hittites,
or the Methodists, or the Democrats ; but I don t like
this philanderin at the same time with Susan Pea-
bedy. Jotham, he bust out a-larnn , n says he,
Why, Susan has know d all about it ever sence it
began. Thet s what I talk about to Susan, says he.
Well, says I, it s none o my business, you know,
Jotham: you hevn t got to answer to me for your
doin s ; but I d like to know how long ago it be
" Wai, he was ready enough to talk about it. He d
a talked all day if I d a let him. You see, I was
an old friend of his fam ly, n Widder Baker sot a
good deal by my advice; n Jotham, he was like
a son to me. So he told me he had been acquainted
with Nancy Westcott ever sence the quiltin down to
W^estcott s, jest afore last year s donation-party. Do
tell ! says I, tol ble scornful ; n you ve know d
Susan Peabody all your life. You must excuse me
for sayin of it, young man ; but Susan is wuth a
dozen of her.
" Susan is the best girl that ever lived, says he,
* exceptin Nancy ; but that s a very different matter.
108 CAMP AND CABIN.
I tell ye, Susan wouldn t loolt at me, onless as a
friend. So oft he went, n that s a most the last
time I see him. He sailed for the East Injees that
fall, n now it s about two year, n he hain t been
heerd from. I ve hed it on my mind many a time to
tell ye about that talk ; cause, says I to myself, per
haps the deacon hed the same idee as I did, n he
might think strange on it that Jotham Baker got
engaged, afore he sailed, to Xancy Westcott, arter he d
been pay in attentions to Susan Peabody. "
The deacon had listened to the squire s voluble
story in an absent-minded way, paying, in truth, very
little attention to it. lie had never quite realized
that his little Susan had come to bo a young woman.
To him she was a dutiful and comely daughter,
deeply but not demonstratively loved, a brisk house
keeper, a skillful nurse to her invalid mother, a
melodious singer in the choir, and a great favorite
with the Widow Baker. Since his wife s death, he
had thought more about Susan ; and now the squire s
allusion to her aroused a host of feelings and remi
niscences, in which the love-affairs of Jotham Baker
had not the remotest share.
u Exactly," said the deacon, not very exactly, so
far as a logical reply was concerned. c; Susan s a
good darter, n a middlin manager. She used to
be a bright, heal thy- look in gal; but I think it lias
wore on her, tendin to her ma. She ain t so spry as
she was, n the color is kind o faded out of her
WIDOW BAKER. 109
cheeks. I m af eared she s a-goin to be delicate.
Fact is, I was jest ridin over to Widder Baker s to
talk to her about Susan. I thought mebbe she d fix
her up suthin to take, that d do her good, n s j t her
up. Susan mopes n reads too much ; though I dunno
s she slights her housekeepin any. But she s a gret
hand for books takes after her ma. But she won t
never be sech a woman as her ma was. Miss Baker
was a gret friend o my Cynthy "
The deacon s simple admiration of his deceased
wife would have been amusing, if it had not been
pathetic. Probably nobody else would have extolled
the intellect of the late Mrs. Peabody ; and certainly
nobody would have dreamed of pronouncing Susan
her inferior, Susan, who talked on terms of equality
with the parson and the doctor and the schoolmaster,
and who had even written poetry which had been pub
lished with editorial commendation in " The Adver
tiser/ But to the patient and apparently prosaic
deacon, there never had come an end of the romantic
admiration with which he had in his youth regarded
his Cynthia. Indeed, his present visit to the Widow
Baker, undertaken on the pretext of talking about
Susan, was really inspired by the longing to talk
about his wife with one who had known and loved
110 CAMP AND CABIN.
THE STORY OF THE BAKERS.
GOIN over to Widder Baker s, be ye? " answered
the squire. " Xpect ye hain t heerd the news. Law
yer Marigold, over to the Center, has foreclosed on
that Baker mortgage ; n it s likely Widder Baker ll
be turned out o house n home. I was over to the
Center yesterday to see what could be done about it.
Marigold, he was reasonable enough ; didn t want
nothin but his money, an he s waited for that this
ten year, not wishin to disturb the fam ly. Ye see,
the kernel borrowed the money. Kernel Baker was
a well-meanin man ; but all his geese was swans, an
he was shif less besides, allers a-contrivin suthin,
or in ven tin* suthin, n never reelly amountin to
nothin . There was that patriotic warfle-iron o
liis n, in the shape of the American eagle. He
was sure he had got a fortin in that. Fact is, I
thought it was a good idee myself, men-folks don t
know much about cookin , ye see, an I let him
have a hundred dollars just to start the thing. AVall,
he brought the very fust one down to our house, n
made a present on t to my wife ; n, the minit she sot
eyes on it, she took the sense o the thing, and was
sartin it wouldn t work. The idee was good enough
WIDOW BAKER. HI
for any thing bat a warfle-iron ; but ye couldn t make
a warfle on it, to save your life. When the beak n
the thunderbolts was done to a crips, the innards was
most raw ! Now that was Kernel Baker, overdone
in one spot, n underdone in another spot, s long s he
"Wai, s I was sayin , Marigold let him have two
thousand dollars on his farm. The land -ain t worth
the money, you know, not even if you throw in the
house and barn. But the kernel he had found a
gold-mine up in the rocks on top o the hill; n sure
enough he did show r some gold that he got out on t,
n I guess that sort o stirred old Marigold s blood.
Ye know thct hole the kernel s cow fell into n broke
her neck? Wai, thet s the mine. They never could
make it pay; n the kernel he pottered around about
it, washin an malgamatin , an the Lord knows what,
till he got the rheumatiz, n salivated himself with
the quicksilver, n kind o run down an died. Then
Eliakim started off out West to seek his fortin ; an
Marigold promised him to wait five years, so s to
give him a chance to redeem the old place. It w an t
wuth the money; but folks will get their hearts sot
on the place they was born in, if it s too poor for a
chicken-paster. Thet s nateral. But, afore the five
years was up, Eliakim he d took a fever out there in
Illinois, n died, n left nothiiv. So there was nobody
but the widder n Jotham. I tell ye, Deacon it como
mighty hard on Jotham to make up his mind to go
112 CAMP AND CABIN.
away n leave his mother. He tried every way to git
a livin out o the farm ; but all he could do he couldn t
niore n make both ends meet, n hard scratchin at
thet, teachin school in the winter, n workin at
Westcott s sawmill, besides all the farm-work n
chores at home. Then come that courtin business
with Xancy ; n AVestcott didn t half like it. But the
gal was headstrong, n there was nothin to be said
agin Jotham, only he was poor. But Westcott he had
been poor himself, n he didn t stand so much on thet;
only he said the young folks must wait. Fact is,
Jotham was too proud to settle down onto a father-
in-law, partic ly with his mother. So he started off
to sea. Advised him to go myself. He couldn t do
so well any other way. It was a good chance, super
cargo I b lieve they called it, with middlin fair pay,
11 the priv lege o speculatin a little on his own hook.
An Lawyer Marigold he said he d wait another year
to see what d come of it. I clunno how much you ve
heerd o this afore, Deacon : what with Miss Peabody
bein so thick with Widder Baker, nd your Susan
sech good friends with Jotham, it s more n likely you
kep the run o the whole thing. But what I m com-
in to ll be news to ye. About a week ago I see in
The Advertiser that Jotham s ship had been giv up
for lost, n the insurance company lied paid the insur
ance on her. That s a purty sartin sign, ye know.
When one o them companies pays up, it must be a
tol ble clear case.
WIDOW BAKER. 113
"So, as I was savin , I hitched up yesterday, n
drove over to the Center, to see Lawyer Marigold
about it. Says I, There s the Widow Baker without
kith or kin, n how she ll git along s more n I can
see. Jotharn left her his winter s arnin s ; n the farm
has jest about kep her in vittles. One o my men
worked ikon shares. But he give her all it perduced ;
n I made it all right with him. Iwaii t goin to hev
Jotham come back, n find we d let the old lady suf
fer. However, says I, thet s no way to get along.
" * Won t Westcott do nothin ? says Marigold.
" Westcott s not a bad man, says I, if he is cluss.
But I don t think the widow d take any help from him.
Ye see, she knows it was all along o Nancy that her
boy went off, n she takes it hard that Nancy hain t
been to see her. Gals is gals, n I don t want to jedge
em ; but the fact is, Nancy never did care quite so
much for Jotham as she made out to. N about a year
arter he was gone, that smart young feller from Boston
came a-cuttin round, n she was mightily taken with
him. They say there wa n t no reg lar engagement
between her an Jotham : the old man wouldn t hear
on t. So the long an short on t is, they re goin to be
married day before Christmas, n she s goin to live in
Boston, n keep her own kerridge. No wonder she
was a little shy o the widder ! "
The deacon listened to the squire s long story, and
gently poked oft with his whip the flies that settled
on the white horse. His kind heart was beginning to
CAMP AND CABIN.
stir within him, and to take an interest in the trials
and sorrows of other people. " Seems to me," said
the deacon, "I heu heerd a good deal o this afore;
but I cal late I ve ben too much occupied with my
own troubles. I sort o let it go through my ears with
out stoppin . I do remember Susan lettin out the
other day about Nancy Westcott, an sayin it was a
shame she was goin to git married; but I jest put it
down as gals talk. Wai, what did Lawyer Marigold
" He said he hadn t no idee o turnin . the Widow
Baker out o house an home at her age; but ho didn t
see no good o leavin on her there when she couldn t
git her livin . lie guessed he d hev to foreclose so s
to get a clear title to the farm, ef it ever should be
worth any thing. Somebody d hev to pay taxes, n
keep up the fences, an so on. When the branch rail
road come in to Hucklebury, the land might be
wanted. It was a good place for a tunnel, anyhow.
But he was ready to give a bond, that ef Widder
Baker, or any other Baker, wanted the place back
agin, they should have it for what it cost him.
" * Wai, says I, Mr. Marigold, thet s fair n square.
As for the widder, I don t see but she ll hev to come
on the town. "
When Deacon Peabody heard that, he winced a
little; but on second thought he said reflectively,
"Wai, it ain t a disgrace, so far as I know, for a
good woman to be took care of by her neighbors,
WIDOW BAKER. 115
when she s brought up her family well, 11 lost em all,
an got beyond takin* care of herself."
"Jest so," replied the squire. "I thought I d go
over an* break it to her; but 1 didn t quite like to do
it, pavtic ly now, with this news about Jotham s ship
bein lost, an the boy drowned. An I had an idee
that there wan t no need o tellin her the hull on t.
We might auction off her board, accordin to law ; V
then the lowest bidder could jest step over, n invite
her to stay with him."
The deacon suddenly broke off the conversation.
" I must be gittin on," said he, "and addressed the
white horse with a sudden " G dap ! " that surprised
that venerable animal into a trot up hill. A listener
unacquainted with the characters of these worthy
people would have been shocked to hear a conversa
tion which showed at least some faculty of sympathy
and respect for the Widow Baker terminate with the
cold-blooded proposition to put her up at auction as a
pauper, and let her go to the citizen who would give
her board and lodging for the smallest sum. Yet
such a judgment would have been unjust. Under
plain words and ways, both the squire and the deacon
meant nothing but kindness. Either of them was
ready to take the widow into his own home, and
make her old age comfortable. Neither would have
exacted payment from her; but that was no reason
why the town shouldn t pay something for keeping
her. Indeed, strange as it may appear, not only
110 CAMP AND CABIN.
these two men, but many another substantial citizen,
would have argued that whoever, not being a rela
tive, and so bound to support her, should undertake
her maintenance, ought, as a matter of right to his
neighbors, to accept from the common treasury some
payment for his pains. It was the only way in which
all could contribute. This way of looking at the
matter would not long have survived any considera
ble increase in the number of the poor. But Huckle-
bury had hardly any paupers. A blind man, a para
lytic, and one or two old people who had, like Widow
Baker, outlived their relations and means of subsist
ence, comprised the entire list. Every year the
selectmen put them up at auction, after town-meet
ing; and on this small scale, and among such simple
and kind-hearted folks, the plan worked well.
The deacon, softened by his own recent grief, and
touched with the remembrance of the relations be
tween his lost Cynthy and the Widow Baker, had
made up his mind at once and irrevocably to give
the latter a home in his own household. He didn t
mean to wait for the auction even. He would take
her in, if he had to pay her whole support himself.
But, of course, he would bid, like other people; and
no false delicacy would prevent him from accepting
the stipend which the selectmen were bound to pay.
WIDOW BAKER. 117
BOARD AND LODGING.
WIDOW BAKER was in her sitting-room alone. It
was not a handsome apartment : indeed, it had no
element of beauty except that spotless neatness which
is the sole adornment within the reach of poor folks.
People used to say, " Widder Baker s settin -room s
as clean s a June sky," and the expression carried a
sens t e of thoroughness with it \vhich was well deserved.
One was sure that under the clean rag-carpet there
was an unstained floor, that the shining brass candle
sticks on the mantelpiece hid no lurking windrows
of dust, that under the settee, and behind the doors,
and aw ays on the top- shelf of the dresser, a bride
might have rubbed the finger of her white kid glove
without sullying its purity. Just so unspotted of the
world seemed Widow Baker herself as she sat in her
high-backed rocking-ch-air, with her snowy cap, and
her kerchief crossed on her breast, the great Bible
open on her knee, and lying on its ample page her
hands, clasped, and holding her silver-rimmed specta
cles. It could not be a mere coincidence that the
folded hands covered the words, " Though He slay me,
yet will I trust in him."
118 CAMP AND CABIN.
The widow s eyes were turned to the wide pros
pect that spread itself beneath her windows; but -she
seemed to be looking far beyond over the blue horizon,
beyond the valley fields, where the thick stubble told
of the fruitful harvest ; beyond the comfortable farm
houses, sending up banners of hospitality from their
chimneys into the frosty air ; beyond the fire-tipped
steeple of the Hucklebury meeting-house ; beyond the
floating clouds and the crystal sky, to "a better
country, that is, an heavenly."
Deacon Peabody drove up to the gate, descended
from his shay, hitched his horse (a superfluous pro
ceeding), and walked into the house, shouting to the
widow as he passed the window, " Don t ye git up
now ; jest set there comfortable, 11 I ll open the door
myself." But she arose, nevertheless, and met him
at the threshold with a smile of grateful welcome.
44 This is very good of you, Deacon," she said, " to
think of me in your own sorrow."
44 Yes," said the deacon, not meaning to accept the
praise exactly, but following a habit of his, " yes, I
thought I d come over n. see how ye was gittin along.
Putty cold spell yesterday n to-day."
He looked at her as he spoke, with a sudden doubt
whether she had heard the whole of the evil tidings
concerning her own fate, the loss of her last son,
and the impending loss of home. Her placid air
told him little; and it was to cover his embarrassment
that he plunged into the subject, yet with an instinc-
WJDOIV HAKER. 119
tive delicacy that the squire could never have imi
44 We re right lonesome down to our house, Miss
Baker, Susan n me ; V it occurred to my mind that
p raps you d be willin to come down V spend a stay
as long "s ye could, n keep us company, Susan n me.
Susan misses her ma n so do J. You was a good
friend to my Cynthy, n I cal late you d be a good
friend to her darter. S long s you expected to meet
Jotham agin, it was nateral to want to keep a home
for him. But " -
Here the deacon, remembering that perhaps she did
not know of Jotham s death, hesitated for an instant,
and then continued, " But ye know, if Jotham should
come back, he d be welcome too. Jotham s company
is worth more n his board any day."
44 Pliineas Peabody," said the widow earnestly,
4k you come like an answer to prayer! There s no
news of my boy ; and I should be wearied with wait
ing if I didn t know, that, wherever he is, he has not
forgotten his mother. But I am sure he would not
wish me to be a burden on my friends ; and that I
shall be, if I try to keep up the farm any longer. I m
too good a housekeeper, Deacon, not to have found
out that the squire has helped a good deal this year.
There s more oats and corn and potatoes than my half
of the crops, and yet there ll be nothing to pay inter
est or debts. If Jotham comes back, he ought to
start fair; and so I ve made up my mind that
120 CAMP AND CABIN.
the old place will have to go. As for me well,
I ve thought over it a good deal, and I m not ashamed,
in my old .age, to be poor."
There were tears in her eyes, which the deacon did
not see, because of something in his own. " Sho
now; yes, yes," said the deacon hastily: "don t ye
worry about that. You jest come n visit with Susan
n me. That reminds me, I want you to kind o doc
tor up Susan a little. There s suthin the matter
with her. She misses her ma, V she don t have her
A few days after this conversation, the deacon s
shay carried Widow Baker to her new home ; and the
deacon s lumber-wagon and ox-team followed with a
load of bedding and furniture, only ^ one load,
enough to furnish a single room. Close upon this
event followed an auction of all the remaining per
sonal property of the Baker family. The proceeds
amounted to very little, about two hundred dollars,
and the squire, somewhat to the surprise of the
community, claimed the money in payment of his
own advances during the past two years. It seemed
to contradict his previous generous behavior ; but the
squire explained his conduct to the deacon in few
words. " Two hundred dollars amounts to nothin ,
said he; "but, s long s the widder s got any money,
we can t take her up n support her, accordin to law.
She d hev to spend all her money fust. You jest give
her a, hint, Deacon : if she wants any spendin money,
she can draw on me, V I ll make it right, besides, in
my will." Moreover, it turned out that the squire
had bought all the household stuff himself: so it was
his o\vn money he was saving for the widow.
Xext came the auction of the farm under the fore
closure. That was bought by Lawyer Marigold, who,
being able without cash expenditure to offer the full
sum expressed in the mortgage, had no competitors.
After the sale, however, there was a friendly and
shrewd conversation between the lawyer and the
deacon, which resulted in the absolute purchase of
the farm by the latter for five hundred dollars.
Then came the queerest action of all, the sale of
the widow herself. This was not carried on with the
noise and publicity of an ordinary public sale. The
selectmen and freeholders simply talked the matter
over, and the few paupers of Hucklebury were
allotted to the lowest bidders for the privilege of
boarding them. As for the Widow Baker, there was
quite an animated competition for her. Plenty of
people were willing to take her at small profit, and a
few offered to accept the bare cost of her subsistence.
But when the squire and the deacon began to bid
below cost, "the boldest held their breath for a
time." They ran down the scale with prudence, yet
with firmness, until at last Phineas Peabody having
bi 1* two shillings a week equivalent to thirty-three
and one-third cents the squire said, " Wai, Deacon,
this is gittin redic lous. Ef ye don t look out, ye
122 CAMP AND CABIN.
\\on t realize nothin at all. But, sence you re bound
to have the widder, I ll give up ; 11 I must say it s
the best thing for both on ye."
All of which was quite unknown to the good old
lady, who went on, in her quiet, cheerful resignation,
** visiting" at the deacon s house. She did not know
that the money which the deacon gave her every Sun
day to put into the contribution-plate (aside from his
own contribution, let us add) was the price of her
board. But, if she had known it, her esteem for the
deacon would not have been diminished; for she
would have understood, as a stranger in Huckle-
bury could not have done, the combination of genuine
kindness with habitual business-like exactness and
economy which formed a part of the local character.
In fact, the deacon was more delicate in his generosity
than any of his neighbors would have been. It is
true, not even they ever alluded to the widow s pov
erty in her presence; but that was chiefly because it
did not occur to them as a matter separating them
and her in any way. Their treatment of the poor,
however disguised beneath the hard forms of a bar
gain, was in spirit more like the Christian commun
ism of the New 7 Testament than like the almsgiving
of ancient (and modern) Pharisees.
But, as a bargain, the boarding of the Widow
Baker was an unqualified success. It soon proved
that she, and not her host, bestowed benefaction.
What a blessing in the house is a serene and wise
WIDOW BAKER. 123
soul ! What a contagious peace is that which is the
fruit of sorrow rightly borne ! The widow s un
worldly spirit was not that of a dreamer. She was
full of activity and helpfulness. She did not run
from barn to kitchen, and from attic to cellar, like
Susan ; yet her directing mind was everywhere, and
a new spirit of system and order began to pervade the
establishment. The deceased Mrs. Cynthia Peabody
had been one of those restless housekeepers who
" fuss " when they are well, and worry when they are
sick ; and Susan, as the result of her tuition, was apt
to bustle more, and plan less, than circumstances re
quired. It was wonderful to see how, after the com
mand of affairs had gradually lapsed into the old
lady s hands, every thing began to work smoothly
in doors and out. The very hired men on the farm
caught the new fashion. The yard and the barn
emulated the house in orderly neatness. The old
white horse and the shay and harness were curried,
washed, and oiled into new youth and beauty. The
deacon s shirt- bosoms, and, what was more important,
the deacon s brow, appeared without a crease or
wrinkle. And, as a consequence of this universal
decrease of friction, there was a saving of power in
the whole machinery of house and farm. A shrewd
observer like the deacon could not fail to see that the
presence of this motherly guest was not only pleasant
but profitable. And Squire Hawkins saw it too, and
summed it im very neatly, when, in reply to old
124 CAMP AND CAlttN.
Westcott s remark that "the deacon couldn t be mak-
in much, boardin Granny Baker at two shillin a
week," he replied, " Wai, now, I dunno s Phiueas
Peabody kin make money so fast any other way as
by boardin Mis Baker at two shillin a week. I tell
ye, Westcott, godliness is profitable; V the kind
that Widder Baker has got is the quickest-pay in
investment y ever see."
This remark was made the week before Christmas,
when Westcott was distributing invitations to his
daughter s wedding with the gentleman from Boston.
Hence the squire s concluding observation was not
without point : " I won t undertake to say iiothin
about young Jotham ; but it s sartin sure as you live,
Westcott, your Nancy s missed the best mother-in-law
that ever was raised in these parts. They don t hev
em so good as that in Boston."
OF all who were blessed by the saintly and yet
practical influence of the Widow Baker, Susan was,
and had reason to be, the most grateful. She found
what she had hitherto greatly lacked in two direc-
WIDOW BAKER. 125
tions, wise counsel in her daily duties on the one
hand, and sympathy for all her aspirations on the
other. It was Susan who first began to call the
widow "Mother Baker; " and Phineas and the whole
household followed her example. Indeed, it spread
through the town; for she seemed like a mother to
No one ever heard her complain; and seldom did
she speak of the sorrows of the past. But somehow,
to Susan it was natural for her to talk about old
times, and that led to the mention of later and later
times, until at last all their conversations wound up
with Jotham, as all roads lead to Rome. The dif
ference between them was, that, while Mother Baker
gradually settled into the conviction that her son was
no longer on earth, and ranked him in her thoughts
with the host of dear ones that waited for her in the
new home that could not decay, nor be broken and
scattered, Susan vehemently insisted that Jotham
was still alive, and would return. " Two years is not
so very long," she used to urge. "People are often
missing for tw-o years, particularly in the East
And that creature, Nancy Westcott, had a letter
from Jotham in her pocket, and never told anybody !
It was rather embarrassing to her; and like a good
many of us, when caught in the current of trouble
some circumstances, she drifted in the vague hope
that matters would somehow fix themselves. The
126 CAMP AND CABIN.
chief elements of the case were these : first, she never
had loved him " so very much as all that; " secondly,
his letter did not arrive until she had as good as
accepted the Boston gentleman ; thirdly, its contents
were not satisfactory, as they told of shipwreck and
disaster, and offered no other hope than that of further
waiting until he could make a new start with " an
idea " that he had, for all the world just like his
shiftless father; fourthly, of course he had written
to his mother, and she knew all about it, and had
probably informed him that Miss Westcott had thrown
him overboard figuratively about the time that the
typhoon had done him the same service literally;
fifthly, why should she go to see his mother, just be
cause he asked it, or write a letter to meet him on his
arrival at Boston, which, of course, the Boston gentle
man would not approve? sixthly, she would decide
to-morrow or next day what to do about it; seventhly,
she forgot all about it, except so far as an occasional
momentary uneasiness might be called a recollection.
So it came to pass that those who longed to see the
living Jotham knew not of his coming, while she who
knew it was not at all desirous of it. Once she might
have told Susan as they met on the meeting-hous3
steps ; but Susan was " huffy," and carried her head
very high, which made Miss Westcott huffy likewise :
so they marched asunder, keeping their own secrets.-
" Heartless thing ! " soliloquized Susan. " She s mad,"
thought Nancy, " because I m engaged, and she ain t.
WIDOW BAKER. 127
Shouldn t wonder if she stands up for Jotham Baker :
she was always a friend o his n, nothin more n a
friend, though, that s one comfort. He s told me so
a dozen times." Even after discarding her humbler
lover, she didn t quite like to think of his " takin
up " with anybody else.
As for Susan, concealment was no "worm i the
bud" of her cheek. Since the coming of Mother
Baker she had grown contented and even happy.
She sang in the choir, and taught in the Sunday
school, went to sewing-society and quiltings, patron
ized the very young gentlemen (who could be kept at
a distance), made butter and pies, dried apples, pre
served quinces, and attended to other duties daily
and periodically, each. in its season, as the almanac
indicated, and with it all read poetry, and thought
a good deal about Jotham, in a sisterly manner, of
course, and merely by way of indignation at the wrong
that had been done him, and query whether he would
feel it so much, when he should come home, as to go
right away again in his despair. That would be
very wrong, and she would certainly tell him so. It
would be his duty to stay on his mother s account.
A fortnight before Christmas came the cards which
formally announced, what everybody knew, the cere
mony of Miss Westcott s wedding. It was to be the
sensation of the age for Hucklebury. Every thing
was to be imported from Boston for the occasion,
u down to the vittles and fiddlers." As Squire Haw-
128 CAMP AND CABIN.
kins said, adding, in his disenchanting way, " the set-
tm -room is goin to be jest kivered with hemlock, n
I hev heerd that they intend to light up the stoop
n the yard." Of course everybody was. eager to be
invited ; and nobody was disappointed. Miss West-
cott would riot willingly omit a single witness to her
Susan flung the cards into Mother Baker s lap, with
a passionate exclamation of contempt. " To think ! "
said she, " after the way she treated Jotham ! I won t
go near her horrid wedding ! "
" My dear," said the placid old lady, with that in
nocent air which old ladies can assume when they are
up to mischief, " you were a good friend to Jotharn,
and if he were alive "
" lie is alive ! I know he is," interrupted Susan.
" Well, do you want him to come home and marry
Nancy AVestcott against her will ? She was not bound
to him, you know ; and she has found somebody who
is better suited to her."
" How she could ever prefer that dandy to Jo
tham ! " said Susan hotly.
" We wouldn t, of course," replied Mother Baker.
" But there s no accounting for tastes; and, if you stay
away from her wedding on that account, won t folks
say you think too much of Jotham s mother ? "
This suggestion was sheer nonsense ; but it had a
startling effect upon Susan, who turned red and white
in a moment, then blushed again to think that she
WIDOW VAKEK. 129
had blushed, and at last said that she was sure there
\vas something burning in the kitchen, whither she
departed with all speed, and proceeded to quench the
something that was burning by plunging her face into
a basinful of cold water. The active preparations
which began next day, in the way of clear-starching
and ironing, indicated sufficiently that Susan was
going to the party.
IN due course of time Mr. Jotham Baker, follow
ing pretty close upon his letter, landed in Boston,
and, finding no news from home, made his way with
all haste to his native town of Hucklebury. It was
already dark when he arrived at the Center, where
the stage stopped. Curiously enough he couldn t
find a horse or a sleigh in the place. The tavern-
keeper (a stranger to him) said they were all gone to
AVestcott s. Very well : the rest of the way, a good
two-hours walk, he would have to make on foot;
but he stopped long enough to call at Lawyer Mari
gold s for the purpose of getting some news from
home. The girl who came to the door did not recog-
130 CAMP AND CABIN.
nize him, for two good reasons. In the first place,
his full beard had changed his appearance : in the
second place, she had never seen him, with or without
a beard. So she told him merely that Mr. Marigold
had gone to Westcott s, like everybody else, and shut
the door in his face, with a promptness due to Hie
coldness of the wintry air. The reply was a sort of
omen to him ; and, vaguely wondering why everybody
had gone to Westcott s, lie started off at a swinging
pace over the crisp snow, bound for the same destina
tion. That is, he started to go home ; but the road
would lead him past A\ r estcott s.
Jotham, striding along the highway under the stars,
was certainly a comely young fellow. Two years of
adventure had made him stouter and browner, and
for a shipwrecked wanderer he had a strange well-to-
do appearance. People reduced to the extremity of
poverty don t have such substantial baggage as the
valise he had left in the Eagle Tavern, Ilucklebury
Center, nor wear such comfortable clothes as those in
which he was now hastening homeward.
His thoughts, as he swiftly pursued his solitary
way, were not altogether pleasant. First of all, he
reproached himself for having left his mother alone
two years before, and wondered whether Squire Haw
kins had been, according to promise, a true friend, to
her. Jotham did not doubt that his mother knew of
his return. To her he had written fully more than
once. AVhy she had never received a single letter
WIDOW BAKER. 131
from him is one of the mysteries of the post-office,
which, dear reader, the author is sorry to say nobody
can clear up : hence it must be allowed to remain a
mystery, as it is far too late now to ask for its inves
tigation by a committee. Of all this Jotham was
ignorant, but tormented himself, as he walked, with
imagining what might have happened to his mother.
Once lie stopped suddenly what if she were dead !
Then he .started again with violent speed, saying
aloud, "No, no, no!" as if such a protest could af
fect the irrevocable past.
Then he thought of Nancy Westcott. What a
strange thing it was, that, once out of her presence,
he had found it so hard to believe in her sincerity !
That letter which he had written to try her now
seemed, on the whole, not a very honorable thing;
though he had thought it fair at the time. Instead
of telling her of his shipwreck, leaving her to infer
that he was ruined, and asking her if she could wait
for him a little longer, in the secret hope that she
would not stand the test, he should have confessed
frankly his own discovery that what he had thought
love w r as only a transitory glamour.
i4 Jotham," said Jotham, "you are well paid for
your shrewdness. You wanted to escape, and at the
same time have the credit of being constant, though
you pretended to me that it was your firm intention
and desire to remain true to the girl if she was true
to you. Now you ve got to face the music. What if
132 CAMP AND CAlllN.
she is true to you ? I shouldn t wonder if she was ;
it s as likely as not ; it s very probable ; by gracious,
Jotham Baker, I believe it s so ! Ugh, \vhat a cold
night ! and yet this walking makes a fellow per
" And there s Susan Peabody, Jotham : what do you
think of her? If you hadn t made a fool of yourself
with Nancy, you might have had some chance, per
haps, with Susan. But she despised you after you
went and gushed to her your silly nonsense about the
other one. Don t you recollect when you told her?
She never w T as the same to you after it came out who
the girl was. No wonder : she w r as disappointed in
you. / saw it, if you didn t. She had thought you
had more sense. Don t flatter yourself she ever loved
you, Jotham ; she never dreamed of that: but she re
spected you until you made a fool of yourself. And
you might have gone on from that to O you don
key ! "
He took a grim pleasure in this sarcastic soliloquy.
But self-castigation soon tires both the executioner
and the victim; and his muttered eloquence ended
in a sigh as he approached the Westcott mansion,
now 7 glorious with streaming lights, and musical with
voices and violins. The impulse of curiosity was too
strong to be resisted, and, crossing the yard unnoticed,
he gained a shadow r ed corner by one of the front-
windows, whence he could survey the festive scene.
Almost the first person he distinguished from the
WIDOW BAKER. 133
gay confusion was a dazzling being in white satin,
with china-blue eyes, and flaxen locks erected into a
stupendous structure above them, surrounded with a
cloud of gauzy veil, and looking, on the \vhole, like
a child substituted at the last moment for some larger
bride, so that thj wedding-dress should not be wasted.
Only a second glance showed that the features were
not merely childish. There was full-grown triumph
in them, and a complete consciousness of the business
aspects of matrimony. Jotham recognized at once
the lady who would henceforward be known in Xew-
England phrase as "she that was Nancy Westcott."
The marriage was already over, and Miss Westcott
was Mrs. no, I won t give the name: I don t
mean to pain anybody if I can help it ; and the fact is,
that the Boston gentleman some years after, having
lost all his money by extravagance and speculation,
signed another Boston gentleman s name to a check,
and left the country. All the parties are dead long
ago ; but how do I know but they have relatives yet
living, relatives a great deal larger than I am?
In another instant Jotham saw Susan. Her dark
hair and earnest eyes ; her cheek, paler than when he
had looked upon it last ; her plain muslin dress, that
showed so little fashion, and so much taste ; every
thing about her, in short, made her a complete con
trast to the bride. To Jotham she seemed at once
more beautiful and more unapproachable than ever
before. There was a new expression on her face,
134 CAMP AND CABIN.
which, of course, the foolish fellow could not read;
the work of sorrow and patience bearing fruit of
peace. All he felt was that she reminded him
strangely of his mother, and that somehow, in spite
of that, she was far beyond his reach. He could
never talk with brotherly freedom to that dignified
and lovely woman : he could only fall at her feet,
and lie there till she left him in disdain.
As for the dandy in a white cravat, on whose arm
"she that was Nancy AVestcott " promenaded through
the room, Jotham paid no attention to him ; and why
should we consider him? We always knew he would
turn out badly, didn t we? To our hero he served as
a slim piece of collateral evidence, corroborating the
white satin and veil and orange-blossoms. Who he
was didn t matter. He was not Jotham Baker Hal
But man is ungrateful, and Jotham was not satis
fied with his happy escape. He had made the impor
tant discovery that he didn t want Nancy because he
did want Susan ; and, being a young man of decision,
he would not waste further time in useless repinings
at the window. And he turned resolutely away to
pursue his journey homeward.
But, as he passed the door, it was opened wide, and
an imposing sable gentleman in white cotton gloves
addressed him cordially with, u Second story front,
sah ! " This was one of the features imported for
the occasion from Boston, a darkey to open the door
WIDOW BAKER. 135
whenever he heard steps approaching. And our
young man of decision, having determined to walk
straight by, and being suddenly tempted by this dark
and mysterious providence, was deflected ninety de
grees from his course, and walked straight in.
Now, it happened that Nancy Westcott, just before
coming down stairs to be married, had had occasion
to rummage her bureau for a smelling-bottle, or a
hair-pin, or something of that sort, and had suddenly
come upon Jotham s letter, which, as a well-regulated
person, she ought to have destroyed long before.
There were too many w r omen-folk fussing round to
make it safe to destroy it now : so, with a hopeless
glance at the fire, she thrust it into her dress, say
ing merely, and that not for anybody s hearing,
" Goodness gracious ! " Thus it came to pass that
she was actually married with Jotham s letter in her
bosom, a horribly improper state of affairs !
During the solemn ceremony, which the parson made
long enough to permit, if not to necessitate, some wan
dering of the thoughts, she perceived Susan Peabody,
and made up her mind that Susan looked " stuck up,"
and didn t half realize the splendor of the occasion.
Of course, if Susan was not suitably impressed, the
admiration of all the rest would not suffice. That s
human nature since the days of Haman. So, later
in the evening, in fact, just at the moment when
Jotham left the window, she got an opportunity to
worry Susan, and began to do it with feminine skill.
136 CAMP AND CABIN.
"You haven t been introduced to my husband,
Susan. You d like him, I know. He says you re
the most distangy woman in the room. But you an
me mustn t be rivals agin. Hev you heard from
Jo from Mr. Baker lately? "
This was even more cruel than Nancy intended ; for
she really supposed the fact of Jotham s return was
known to his friends, though she had never told of it,
because she did not care to reveal her recent recep
tion of his letter. It was much simpler to let her
friends say, as they did, that there never had been
any thing between him and her, at least, nothing
more than a flirtation.
But Susan was on her guard, and Nancy was no
match for her. Without a sign of any emotion, not
even scorn she said slowly, " Mr Baker has reason
to congratulate himself."
That made Nancy " as mad as fire." She under
stood by it more than was meant ; for it led her to
suppose that Jotham, having been informed of her
faithlessness, had pretended he was glad to be rid of
her. Her breast heaved with passion, and fortunately
(the bridal dress being a tight fit) that very heaving
made her aware of Jotham s letter : otherwise there
might have been a " scene." But this enabled her to
restrain her wrath, and to say, in tones that attracted
no attention from the rest of the company, " Perhaps
he tries to make you think so, Miss Feabody. But
that ain t the way he writes to me! " Whereat she
WIDOW BAKER. 137
pulled out the letter, thrust it into Susan s hand, and
sailed away with her nose in the air, inwardly con
scious that she had done a very foolish thing, and not
at all aware that it was the best thing that could have
been done for everybody but herself.
Susan recognized the handwriting ; seized the let
ter; forgot Nancy, the company, every thing; made
her escape blindly out of the room ; and rushed up
stairs to the ladies dressing-room (second story back),
clasping the letter in her hand. Jotham was alive!
Nobody was in the rotmi. She could read the letter
unobserved. In her tumultuous happiness she was
about to kiss it; but her eye fell on the address,
"Miss Nancy Westcott " (she had forgotten for a mo
ment to whom the letter had been written). As for
kissing "Miss Nancy Westcott " -that was a little
too much. But she did open the paper, and put to
her lips a carefully-selected spot on the inside, which
bore the words, "Yours truly, Jotham Baker." Then
she hastily read the letter; and not even its apparent
testimony that he still loved the heartless creature
down stairs could silence in her heart the singing
voice, "Jotham is alive! "
Meanwhile the young man himself had left the
window, walked slowly, though decidedly (as I have
before mentioned), to the front-door and into the
hall, and was at this moment at the top of the stairs,
on his way to the second story front; so that, when
Susan raised her eyes from the perusal of his letter,
she saw him passing the door.
138 CAMP AND CABIN.
With a cry of joy she sprang forward, calling his
name; but, as he turned, she recollected what must
be his present anguish, and said only, holding out
both hands, " O Jotham, I m so sorry for you ! "
Alas ! what a comedy of errors it was ! Poor
Jotham, already in a maze of conflicting emotions,
lost his head entirely at hearing her friendly words,
and burst into an incoherent explanation about Xancy
and his own affections, out of which confusion
emerged presently a declaration of love to Susan.
This he made still worse bj* dropping on his knees
before her, as he had just been wildly dreaming he
would do some day. He was a handsome fellow; but
no fellow ought to kneel down in his overcoat. He
deserved to be laughed at for his pains. But Susan
was in no mood for laughing. Her maidenly pride
burned hotly in cheek and eye. " Mr. Baker," she
said with bitter politeness, "now you re down, per
haps you will have the goodness to pick up that let
ter. Nancy gave it to me, and I will take this oppor
tunity to return it to the writer."
She watched him with un moving look as he clutched
the letter, recognized it, rose, and staggered from the
room. Down stairs he rushed, and past the astounded
doorkeeper, into the open air. She listened until she
heard the bang with which the door closed behind
him; then, having nothing else in the world to do,
Susan Peabody fainted away, and fell on the spot
where he had knelt.
WIDOW BAKER. 139
HOW THE WIDOW INTERFERED.
JOTHAM felt, as he reached the road, as if he had
escaped from a burning house in which was every
thing he held dear in life. But his second thought
was of his mother. He had her to live for, at least;
and to her he would devote himself. So he hastened
up the hill-road, past the squire s farm, and on to the
well-remembered house where he expected to find
her. It was always a rather lonesome place ; but to
night, as he approached it, and saw neither light in
the windows, nor living thing about the yard, a chill
struck his heart. The barking of a dog, or the de
liberate rising of a cow disturbed in her repose by his
passage, would have been most welcome. His knock
ing at the door called forth no answer; and when,
after fruitless shouting, he lifted a window-sash,
climbed into the sitting-room, struck a light, and
found the place dismantled and empty, except for
that " litter " peculiar to an abandoned room, which
told him more plainly than any thing else that his
neat and efficient mother could no longer be in au
thority there, the revulsion was overpowering. The
stalwart young fellow dropped his match, and, lean
ing in the darkness against the mantel-piece, cried as
140 CAMP AND CABIN.
if his heart would break. This blow was indeed the
worst of all.
A moment later he was again out of doors, and
rushing down the hill-road at a terrible pace. As he
passed the lane that turned down to the squire s
house, a sleigh came up with much clangor of silvery
bells, bringing the squire and Mrs. Hawkins, who
were just returning from the party at Westcott s.
"Jerusalem!" ejaculated the hearty squire, " ef
that ain t Jotham Whoa, there ! Why, Jptham,
how d ye do? Where did ye come from? n how on
airth but here! git right in, there s room for ye;
come right along to the house."
"The house is empty," said Jotham in quick,
hoarse tones. "What has happened? Where s my
" She s boardin at Deacon Peabody s," replied the
squire ; " n she looks twenty years younger for t.
You jest come along. Ye can t see your mother to
night ; n ye mustn t see her nohow, till I ve put ye up
to the news."
So Jotham spent the rest of a long evening and the
night at the Hawkins s, and slept soundly in spite of
his sorrows. The squire told him all about every
thing, dwelling particularly on Susan and her affec
tion for his mother, and much surprised that Jotham
regarded that subject with evident pain.
"What s the matter with ye, Jotham?" pursued
the squire. " Now, I m a plain man, n I go to the
WIDOW BAKER. 141
pint. It ain t no use for you to worry about Nancy
Westcotfc though she d be a pretty good match,
jest now, for a feller as poor s you be."
" I don t care a sixpence for Nancy Westcott," in
terrupted Jotham sullenly, "and I m not so poor as
" Why, the hull cargo was lost, I cal late : them
companies wouldn t a paid the insurance without
proof o that "
"Exactly. They paid tlic insurance, and my goods
were insured, as well as the rest. I knew that would
be all right, and I bought a home cargo on the
strength of it, and made enough by the voyage to
give me a good start."
" Ginger an spices haft riz," said the squire thought
fully. " I read that in The Advertiser last week.
Dew tell! Wai, Jotham, I m glad on t. But don t
ye go to buy in back the old farm : it ll ruin ye, sure."
" On the contrary," said Jotham, " I shall buy it at
once, and sell the mine-hill to a man who is coming
up from Boston right away to look at it."
" What! " cried the squire, " gold, arter all? "
" Wai, there s plenty o that on t," said the squire.
"Yes; and it will be the best place for a quarry
that can be found when the branch railroad is built.
But I don t care much about it now, except for
mother s sake," added Jotham with a sigh.
The squire looked at him shrewdly. "My boy,"
142 CAMP AND CAJUN.
said he, "there s somethin the matter between you
an Susan, n ye d better tell me all about it. I ain t
one that ll talk about it, like the women-folks."
(Mrs. Hawkins had retired, or this remark would
have been suppressed.)
Jotham made a clean breast on this invitation, first
handing over the unlucky letter as a text, and then
furnishing a full commentary upon it. At the con
clusion, the squire whistled reflectively, and at last
delivered his opinion :
"It looks like a bad job, Jotham; but I ve seen
wuss. Susan was glad to see ye stick a pin there!
An she was mad to hev ye make a fool o yourself, n
try to made a fool o her. Wai, now, look at it cool
an reasonable, n who wouldn t be? I tell ye what,"
continued the squire, warming up as he went on,
"it s all right, an so you ll see. You go to bed ! "
Meanwhile Susan, whom we left "all in a heap"
on the floor of the "second story back," had recovered
from her faint without help, and without attracting
attention. Of course her first act was to scrub and
rub her pale cheeks till they glowed, replace and
tighten various hair-pins (which always become loose
in moments of emotion), and obliterate the traces of
her agitation Then she went down stairs, found her
father, and persuaded him to take her home, no
difficult matter, since he was bored with the new
fangled stiffness of the entertainment. On the way
they spoke little. Phineas was occupied with driving,
and only once put a question to his daughter :
" Hope ye had an interestin time, Susan? "
" Yes, very interesting," said she, and lapsed again
into silence. But her thoughts were busy enough,
recalling painfully the strange behavior and incohe
rent speech of Jotharn, and wondering whether she
had not done him some injustice. That letter of his
to Xancy was not so very loving. There was a mys
tery in it ; and an old friend should not be discarded
without an opportunity to explain his conduct. Per
haps he was at this moment with his mother. He was
an affectionate and dutiful son, at least. " Couldn t
you drive a little faster, father? " said Susan.
But on arrival she found that Mother Baker was in
bed, and that nobody had called. She kept the secret
of Jotham s return. Why should she say any thing
to her father about it ? Everybody would know it in
the morning. But, when the morning came, she was
thoughtful enough to prepare the widow for the joy
ful surprise of meeting her son, assuring her that he
had really returned, and would soon make his appear
ance, but declining to tell how she had got the news,
except that she had heard it at the party.
When Jotham knocked at the door, it was Susan,
much to his embarrassment, who opened it. He
began an apology for his intrusion, which she checked
with a gesture. "Your mother is expecting you/
said she, pointing to the door of the room in which
the widow was sitting, and withdrew, to fidget in the
kitchen ; while Jotham, forgetting for the moment all
144 CAMP AND CABIN.
woes and embarrassment, entered to clasp in arms of
unalterable affection and perfect joy the darlingest
old mother that ever lived.
Widow Baker was so glad to get her son back on
any terras, that she needed little to satisfy her curiosity
concerning his long absence and silence. When he
alluded to letters he had written her, she did not tell
him, in this first happy hour, that she had never re
ceived them. When he mentioned to her his plan
about the old place, which he had already found he
could buy back, and which would be, after all, a
source of profit to the family, her face lit up with a
proud smile such as the late Colonel Baker might
well have returned to enjoy. " That s what your
father always said," was her comment. Dear soul !
she had put sympathy, if not faith, in every one of
her husband s schemes ; raid it was to her simple
affection a sort of vindication of his misunderstood
and depreciated career, to have his gold-mine turn
out at least a granite-quarry.
"Well, my son," said the widow at last, "the dea-
con ll be glad to have you stop here for a while, until
you can set up a house of your own. lie told me
that when he first invited me. I wouldn t have come
to a house, you know, where my boy would not have
been welcome." This was the good lady s artful
approach to a subject that lay near her heart.
" The deacon is a true friend," replied Jotham,
" and I shall tell him so. But I I d rather not stop
WIDOW BAKER. 145
in his house. Don t you think you could visit some
where else, say, at Squire Hawkins s?"
"Why, what should I do without Susan? " was the
deeply innocent reply ; to which Jotham made a
somewhat testy rejoinder :
"You ll have to do without Susan sooner or later,-
and you might as well begin ! "
Now, by this time, Susan, having rattled about the
kitchen vigorously, doing nothing, for half an hour,
had found it absolutely necessary to come to the
sitting-room. She wanted a "holder" to protect her
fair fingers in lifting a kettle from the fire; and the
holder in the kitchen didn t suit her no, not at all.
But there was one in the sitting-room that would suit
and that one she must have. So, with a timid pre
liminary knock on the half-open door, she walked in.
The widow watched her keenly.
" Susan," she said, " our Jotham has come ! "
" Yes," replied Susan, with a beating heart, and a
voice far too unsteady for the leading soprano of the
Ilucklebury choir, " I ve met Mr. Baker already. I
I hope he s very well." Upon this she went to
wards the fireplace, where the " holder " hung on a
nail, and, before she got there, forgot what she was
going for, and so, coming to a dead stop, looked into
the fire with preposterous earnestness and a great de
sire to cry. Jotham, on his part, studied a spot on
the floor till it began to revolve before his eyes in an
amazing way, and then said hastily that he thought
he had better go and attend to some other matters.
H6 CAMP AND CABIN.
" Don t go on my account," said the young girl at
the fire ; at which Jotham stopped short, and the
situation was worse than ever. But the widow, bless
her! was more than equal to it. She divined the
state of affairs better than if they had told her all
about it, though that s not saying much ; for, if they
had undertaken to tell her, a pretty mess they would
have made of it with their confusions and cross pur
poses and reservations and pique and embarrassments.
" I want Jotham to visit with us a few days, till he
gets ready a place of his own, for him and me,"
said she ; " but he thinks he had better not."
" I suppose he is right," remarked Miss Peabody to
" He wants me to go and stay somewhere else with
him," continued the widow.
Susan turned half round, with a sudden movement,
and then resolutely back to her former position, say
" No, no ! you mustn t leave us. Nobody can do
without you, dear Mother Baker! *
It was strange that she could not even face her
dearest friend, wasn t it? But the fact is, she had
come in a hurry, and her handkerchief was missing,
as handkerchiefs are so apt to be at the very minute
when they are worth their weight in gold.
" If anybody needs me, then my only son needs me
most," said the old lady, going over to Jotham, and
putting her thin hands on his broad shoulder.
" Where he had better not stay, I will not stay."
WIDOW BAKER. 147
"Then he must stay," said the voice by the fire.
" He needn t go on my account."
" Mother," interrupted the subject of this dialogue,
shaking off his wretched timidity, and speaking in a
straightforward, commanding way, that settled things
at once in his favor (though he was not aware of
that), " don t trouble Miss Peabody any further. She
has reason to think I have treated her with some
indignity, though she is wrong: I would die first."
" Of course," said the widow heartily. " But Susan
don t believe any such thing. Why, she can t: it s
impossible. O Susan ! shake hands with Jotham,
and tell him so yourself."
Susan held out her hand with averted face; but
the young man was bent on no half-way measures.
" No," he said imperatively. " Hear me out. She is
wrong in her thought of me, though I am to blame
for her mistake ; but she is right in saying (as she
did before you spoke of leaving here) that I had bet
ter not stay in this house."
Miss Peabody had withdrawn again her neglected
hand, and, having no better use for it, was pressing
it against her heart, a most insipid and unprofitable
use of both hand and heart. Mr. Jotham Baker,
having the floor, went on, as is the custom of orators,
addressing the chair, but meaning to be heard by the
"For I love her I love her dearly; and I will
not stay in her house, or touch her hand, or look into
148 CAMP AND CABIN.
her face because I couldn t bear it. I don t want
to be old friends again."
" You d better stay," said Susan feebly. " Your
mother wants you to sta}^."
The Widow Baker smiled, as a general might smile,
who, just as he was about to order a retreat, should
see through his field-glass the white flag hoisted by
the enemy. But Jotham had no field-glass, and went
on with his last despairing volley.
" No," he said impatiently, " it is impossible. If
if you felt as I do, you would understand me. But I
do not deserve to be utterly despised ; and I think,
Miss Peabody, that I ought to explain to you before I
Susan shook her shoulders. "I don t want any
explanation," she said.
"And / do" said desperate Jotham. "I claim it
as a right: it is my last chance, and I will be heard."
That obstinate young woman put her fingers in her
ears, and that obstinate young man went right on
addressing the chair; and the chair, that is to say,
Widow Baker, positively laughed in his face. The
sublime was evidently sliding fast facilis descensus
- into the ridiculous.
Now, this scene would not have lasted half as long
if Susan had had a handkerchief. When a person
has been crying ever so little, and is obliged by cir
cumstances to dry before the fire, without the aid of
cambric or bandanna, the conversation must be pro-
WIDOW BAKER. 149
longed, to give that person a reasonable time. But
if the person begins again why, then all subter
fuges are in vain. Thus it came to pass that Susan,
whose fingers were not so very tightly pressed into
her ears, heard Jotham walk towards the door. The
blundering, lucky fellow ! Just as he was about to
resign the game, he gave checkmate. For Susan
Peabody turned like a flash, and called him by name
no mistake about it, and no " Mr." a good, clear,
unfaltering " Jotham ! "
But he was smitten with blindness. Not even the
sight of her, blushing, tearful, radiant, holding out
both hands towards him, could make him understand.
" Then you will hear my explanation ? " said stupid
" I tell you," said she, stamping with her little
foot, "I have heard enough, I won t have any ex
planations ! "
" But before I go " pursued the incorrigible
u Mr. Jotham Baker," said Susan, laying down
the proposition with the air of a teacher whose pa
tience was exhausted, and emphasizing it with a
didactic forefinger, " your mother and I are
never going to let you go away from
us as long as you live : so, there ! "
Here the Widow Baker, who had so wisely inter
fered, perceived with equal wisdom that her interfer
ence was no longer called for. And her departure
CAMP AND CABIN.
from the room cuts short my story at this most
interesting point; for, although I am very intimate
with all the parties, Susan and Jotham never would
repeat to me and I am utterly unable to imagine
the conversation that followed.
SKETCHES OF WESTERN TRAVEL,
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE.
AN EXPLORING PARTY.
(AST summer 1 two of us found ourselves, on
professional duty connected with " the de
velopment of the mineral resources " of our
country, in the Territory of Montana, to
wit, the capital thereof, Virginia City ; and there we
did devise a journey up the Madison Valley to the
Spouting Geysers, over the mountains to the lake,
canon, cataracts, and hot-springs of the Yellowstone,
and so on, as events might determine; traversing, in
short, that large area of nearly four thousand square
miles, of which Congress has wisely made a Na
tional Park. Our party was not a full-fledged affair,
with wings of military escort, and claws of tools and
instruments for detailed scientific investigation, but
an assemblage of volunteers, comprising no small
amount of original and unconventional character.
1 The summer of 1871.
154 CAMP AND CABIN.
Numerous eminent citizens of Virginia City had
enthusiastically declared their intention of joining
our company, and we reasonably expected to invade
the mountain solitudes with a great array of rank
and intellect. But, when the critical day arrived,
there was an amazing pressure of business, legal and
otherwise, iu the usually somewhat dull town, which
hindered every one of our distinguished friends from
starting. Far be it from me to suggest that a very
recent raid of the Sioux into the Gal latin Valley
had any thing to do with this unanimous inability
to go where glory waited. That could not be; for
did not each reluctantly declining friend take pains
to add, " There ll be no danger, I guess, where you
are going. You just keep a good lookout, and you ll
get through all right, I guess. Got plenty of arms
and ammunition, haven t you? "
Under these inspiriting encouragements we pre
pared to set forth. There were six of us men, eight
of us horses, and one of us mule. Gilman Sawtelle,
the guide, will forgive me for bringing him before the
public by name. I can not rank him with any of the
typical pioneers, from Leatherstocking down, who
have been familiar in novels of Western life. He
affects no singularity of dress or speech; indulges
not in long and silent laughter; prefers not an old
single-barreled, small-bore, muzzle-loading Kentucky
rifle to the modern arms of precision ; does not pre
tend to see in the night as well as in the daytime, or
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 155
to follow a trail where there isn t any; misses a shot
now and then, at long range, like any other honest
man ; reads books and newspapers ; and does not de
spise his kind. A stalwart, blond, blue-eyed, jovial
woodsman is he, w T ho for years has kept a solitary
ranch on the bank of Henry s Lake, some sixty miles
from the settlements. Half a dozen well-built log-
houses constitute his establishment. There is a com
fortable dwelling, a stable, a work-shop, store-houses
for skins and game, and an ice-house. Mr. Saw-
telle s principal business has been spearing trout,
packing them in ice, hauling them in wagons to
Virginia City, and even as far as Helena, and dis
posing of them at handsome prices to the busy popu
lation who haven t time to fish for themselves. A
farm supplies him with vegetables and grain ; the
valleys afford him excellent hay; and land and water
all about him swarm with game of every kind.
Mr. Thrasher the photographer is another charac- t
ter of public interest, whom I will not disguise under
a fictitious name, because the one he wears by right
exactly suits him. He invests the profession of
photography with all the romance of adventure.
What other men will do for self-defense, or excite
ment, or a positive reward, he does for a "negative. *
No mountain is too high for him, if there s a "vie\v"
from the top. No perilous precipice daunts him, if
it is just the place for his camera. If there is a
picturesque region where nobody has been, thither
156 CAMP AND CABIN.
he hastens, with company if company offers ; alone
if need be, he and his pack-mule, carrying the pre
cious chemicals and glasses. Sometimes, after a
long and arduous expedition, that mule will roll
down a steep mountain-face, and smash every thing 1 .
Then Thrasher begins again, nothing daunted. It is
a sight to see him, when, struck by the beauty of
some sudden vista, he halts, and rapidly unpacks,
erecting his tripod, and hanging to the bough of
some convenient tree his black-cloth laboratory. In
a trice the plate is prepared, the view is taken :
Thrasher buries his head, ostrich-like, in the dark
chamber, exposing recklessly, as he kneels at his
work, the dilapidated rear of his corduroys. Then
speedily comes from the black tent a muffled shout
of triumph, and the artist emerges backward on all-
threes, holding up a dripping negative for general
admiration. Or perhaps it doesn t suit him, and the
boys are told to go on ; he will stay and " wrastle "
with that view; and an hour after camp is made,
when all have subsided into the delights of dolce far
nientc, supper being over, and guard not begun,
along comes Thrasher with "that cussed mule," who
will persist in trying to carry her unwieldy pack be
tween precisely the trees that stand too close for
passage, Thrasher, I say, weary, hungry, irate, but
I may mention here, that, after we had been sev
eral weeks in the mountains, Mr. Thrasher became
WONDEES OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 157
entirely unmanageable. He had so many views to
take that there was no hope of getting him back
to civilization until his chemicals were used up and
he had provided a desperately large stock. So on
the canon of the Yellowstone we left him, with Saw-
telle ; while the rest of us rode home without him.
I have heard since that lie got " burnt out" by a for
est fire, losing every thing but Ids negatives; and that
after returning to Virginia City, and procuring a new
outfit, he posted back again, this time alone, to " do
the rest of that country, or bust."
O Thrasher! Thy mule, with the sharp-pointed
legs of the camera-tripod projecting from her stern,
was unpleasant to the next-following horseman when
she backed in a narrow defile ; nor was it altogether
delightful to get up prematurely in order to form
part of one of thy frequent "sunrise scenes :" but
thou wert most excellent company on the march and
in camp, and thy energy and enthusiasm were sub
lime. May I not fail to fare with thee again, some
day, through wild and rugged ways, pursuing with
tireless steps the spirit of beauty to her remotest
Another member of the party was Mr. Hardpan,
of the editorial staff of "The Weekly Alloutdoors,"
published at Bucksborough, Montana, a fine speci
men of the frontier "local," possessing the wide
awake characteristics of the city species, but superior
in point of manliness. Interviewing people against
158 CAMP AND CABIN.
their will, following with intent nose the trails of
scandal, picking up scraps of information around
the doors of public offices, and the like occupations,
tend to obliterate in the city reporter somewhat of
the gentleman, and more of the man. But the habit
of traversing mountains and valleys in search of
news, interviewing the hardy miners and hunters in
the gulches or by the camp-fire, " prospecting " en
route for wash-gold or quartz (for your Western
editor has always been at some time a miner him
self, and can not pass black sand or rusty rock with
out "just taking a look at hsr"), not disdaining to
follow the fleet deer, and impale the wrigglesorne
trout, nor shirking the due share of danger before
the grizzly or the Sioux, this life, I say, makes
quite another man of the reporter. Paul Pry and
Ilardpan have nothing in common : in fact, one
would not have imagined that the gentleman from
" The Weekly Alloutdoors " was an emissary of the
press at all. If he "took notes," it was in secret, as
a gentleman should. He has since immortalized us
all in a highly embellished account of the journey;
but he inflicted upon us no preliminary tortures
during the trip, and the picture he has painted is as
delicately and truthfully flattering as one of Hunt-
ington s portraits, or Sarony s photographs. It is a
comfort to " sit " to an artist who will see to it that
freckles are omitted, and that a pleasing expression
is secured at any cost. For the rest, Hardpan was a
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 159
jolly companion, who obtruded no "shop-talk," and
endeared himself to all by his extraordinary skill in
the preparation of " dough-gods" and "bull-whacker s
butter," two triumphs of camp-cw/sme not to be
compassed by any thing short of genius.
The other three of us decline to be publicly por
trayed; but we permit it to be said, in all modera
tion, that we possessed among us all the beauties
of form and feature, all the virtues of character, and
all the varieties of learning and accomplishment,
that anybody ever found in anybody. What one
of us lacked another was sure to have until that
woeful day when none of us possessed so much as a
pipeful of "Lone Jack;" but this deficiency was
abundantly remedied as soon as we returned to the
settlements, and we now present to the pen of the
eulogist our pristine perfection.
But how can we omit to mention Sawtelle s dog?
ugliest, hardiest, most enthusiastic and affectionate,
most ardent in the chase, most patient in hunger,
and insensible to fatigue, of all the canine race, a
dog of no distinguished lineage, and no advantage
in early education, but full of an excellent spirit
and a companionable soul. The enthusiasm with
which that dog would attempt the impossible,
chasing grouse upon the wing, or swimming fiercely
after ducks that contemptuously waited for him till
he almost touched them, and then, just as he raised
his yelp of anticipated triumph, dove under him, and
160 CAMP AND CABIN.
re-appeared behind him, to his blank bewilderment,
the brisk enthusiasm with which he would essay these
feats, stimulated every day by the remembrance of
past failures to wilder racing and louder yelping, was
a moral to mortals. Some day, I am persuaded, that
dog will catch a grouse upon the wing, or a duck upon
the wave. Nothing can be impossible forever to such
perseverance. He rejoiced in several names, being
chiefly called Bob, for short, in allusion to his tail.
With the remainder of our party, that is to say,
with the horses and the mule, w 7 e began to get ac
quainted very early in the journey. The first day s
march was a succession of packings, chasings, shout
ings, draggings, and buckings, from the time we were
escorted out of Virginia City by the merchant-princes,
legal luminaries, and small boys of the town, until
we made camp on the other side of the "divide,"
after dark, cold and hungry and tired, by the rush
ing waters of the Madison. It took some time, how
ever, to learn all the peculiarities of all the animals,
and to produce in them the sure conviction that we
knew their tricks and their manners. One ancient
white steed, who was used to carrying packs, infected
the rest with his wisdom. He taught them to swell
up when they were " sinched," so that the girths
might slip afterward ; to lie down and roll with their
packs on; to start on wild prairie gallops without
warning, and work their burdens around their bel
lies, where they could be conveniently kicked ; to
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 161
"buck," when they could thereby throw any body or
any thing into a river; and at night, when they were
turned out for rest and grazing, to start in solemn
procession for home, and travel a dozen miles before
daylight. But that sublime being, man, is more than
a match for that noble animal, horse; and due subor
dination was ere long established. Did time permit,
I would gladly sing the praises of the " diamond
hitch," that mystery of ropes and running-knots,
which, once properly adjusted upon a well-balanced
and well-settled load, defies the cunning of the equine
or asinine bearer, and will not even yield to a pine-
tree, tearing and scraping against it in the forest.
But we have lingered too long already over the inci
dentals of our trip though, in truth, they are rather
to be reckoned as essentials; for the destination of
a journey like ours may be \vherever you please, if
you are well fitted out for the march and the camp ;
but without good company, good arms, and a knowl
edge of the "diamond hitch," one had better not start
162 CAMP AND CABIN.
UP THE MADISON.
As I have hinted, our party was escorted out of
Virginia City by the friendly population, and took
its -way over the divide which separates that town
from the valley of the Madison. And here, O un
suspecting reader ! shall be sprung upon thee a trap
of instruction. But be not dismayed, the agony shall
be brief. And, moreover, there is no dread examina
tion awaiting you beyond, to reveal your wicked
neglect if you skip the next paragraph altogether.
Geography is not pleasant, but grievous; yet is it
necessary to him who would travel, whether in per
son or by sympathetic imagination. Wherefore
The two great river-systems of the Missouri-Mis
sissippi, on the one hand, and the Snake-Columbia,
on the other, have their highest sources close to
gether, in the Rocky Mountains, where their upper
waters even pass each other in opposite directions,
like the fingers of two hands, employed in the fasci
nating game of
" Here s the church, and here s the steeple:
Open the door, and there s the people! "
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 163
Persons who do not know this game will be bewil
dered by the illustration, just as persons who enter
for the first time the country of which I speak are
bewildered when they find one stream running north
for the Gulf of Mexico, and the next running south
for the Pacific Ocean. For this perplexity, dear
reader, there are only two remedies : you must either
learn the game, or visit the region.
It is the Missouri system which chiefly concerns us
here ; and it must suffice to say of it that four large
rivers rise not far from the north-west corner of Wyo
ming Territory, and flow for some distance northward.
Three of them the Jefferson, the Madison, and the
Gallatin unite at Gallatiu City, Montana, to form
the Missouri, which continues northward to near the
British boundary, which it avoids by a great bend to
the east, after which it gradually assumes a south
east course to the Mississippi. The fourth river is
the Yellowstone, which bends on its own hook, so
to speak, before reaching the Missouri, and finally
joins that river on the borders of Dakota. In the
upper part of their course, therefore, the valleys of
the Jefferson, Madison, Gallatin, and Yellowstone,
are in a general way, parallel, and their order from
west to east is indicated by the order in which I
have named them. The Gallatin, being the shortest,
rises farther north than the others, and the head
waters of the Madison are separated from the Yel
lowstone Lake, which may be called the head of the
164 CAMP AND CABIN.
Yellowstone, by mountain-ranges only. To traverse,
mainly by valley routes, the geysers of the Upper
Madison (or Fire Hole River), the Yellowstone Lake,
cafion and cataracts, and the hot-springs that dot the
region between these rivers, one may either ascend
the Yellowstone, cross the mountains to the Madison,
and descend the Madison, or vice versa. The first is
what the parties of Washburne and Hay den did.
The second is what our party did only we left the
Yellowstone after following it down to the great
canon, and returned by a different trail across the
mountains to the Madison Valley, by which we re
turned to the settlements. Here endeth the first
lesson in geography.
Sawtelle and his dog did not share in the trium
phal departure from Virginia City, but awaited us
at the camp on the Madison, nine miles from town.
Next morning, being the 10th of August, we began
our journey in earnest, and traveled eighteen miles
up the valley, a fair day s work for the pack-ani
mals, though on our way home we "pushed things"
over the same ground at the rate of thirty miles
daily. The valley of the Madison at this point is
an inspiring scene. The river is accompanied on
the east by the splendid chain of the Madison Moun
tains, with their bold outlines, rugged brown-and-
red rock-surfaces, snow-touched crests, and occasional
tracery of piney canons. Opposite these is a succes
sion of inferior but picturesque ridges, and between
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 165
is the broad, fair, grassy valley, a very paradise for
stock-raisers. To the north, it draws together into
the dark and precipitous lower canon of the Madison.
Southward (i.e., up the valley), the benched or ter
raced structure of the terrain becomes more and more
distinct, until at last three or four gigantic terraces,
rising one above another from the stream to the
mountains, stretch away for many miles on cither
side along the valley. What a natural preparation
for a railroad ! The engineer need only choose his
level, and then "go it" on a gravel foundation hun
dreds of feet deep. There is more or less volcanic
rock all along the ranges; but as we ascend the river
it becomes predominant, and forms at length high
lava-walls, like the Palisades of the Hudson. Upon
these lavas and the gravel terraces, the vegetation is
scanty, though the clear mountain-streams which cut
their way through deep side-canons at intervals of
about ten miles are delightfully shadowed with pines
and cottonwoods and fringed with verdure. The
general aspect of the scenery, after the meadows are
left behind, is desolate and grand.
Impossible to describe is the quiet beauty of an
evening or noon-day camp by a rushing stream in
these sublime solitudes, the blazing fire, the lux
urious repose of man and beast, the fragrant pipe,
well chosen by some early poet of coppery hue as par
excellence the emblem of peace ! Grouse strut and
flutter in the bushes ; eagles scream and wheel in
166 CAMP AND CABIN.
the sky ; processions of ducks make straight, swift
course down the river ; the service-berry thickets and
the freshly-turned stones and stumps betray the re
cent presence of the fruit and insect loving bear (no
bug-bear to us and our repeating breech-loaders) ;
there are upon the trail delicate footprints of ante
lope and deer, and heavy hoof-marks of the elk.
From our green, cool covert we look lazily out upon
the valley, hot with the meridian glow, or vast and
hazy in the twilight, or mystical and solemn beneath
On the fourth day we reached the middle canon of
the Madison, where the river breaks through the*
main chain of the Rocky Mountains ; and, to avoid
the difficulty of the passage, we turned out of the
valley, crossed the low divide known as the Reynolds
Pass, and saw before us the gleaming waters of
Henry s Lake. Here we found hospitable shelter in
Sawtelle s ranch, and excellent amusement for a day
in hunting and fishing upon his preserves. What
with innumerable grouse on the hillsides, ducks and
geese in the sedgy sloughs, snowy swans and pelicans
upon the lake, and four-footed game of every variety
in forest and field, the sportsman s taste can not fail
to be gratified. If he is an adventurous Englishman,
and must have danger, let him hunt skunks : there
are plenty of them, and they strike fear into the
Who was Henry? and how came he to have a
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 1C7
lake? Henry was a prominent fur-trading capitalist
of early days, I believe, and had this geographical
greatness thrust upon him. Henry s Lake is the
source of the Henry, or north fork of the Snake. It
is surrounded by lofty mountains, but connected
with the outer world by four remarkably low passes,
all practicable, and two of them (Snake River and
the Reynolds Pass) positively inviting, for a railroad.
Southward, the north fork runs with steady grade
out to the great plains of Idaho. North-west, a pass
over a low divide leads to Red Rock Lake, the head
of a branch of the Beaverhead and the Jefferson.
Northward, the Reynolds Pass communicates with
the terraced valley of the Madison ; and eastward,
the Henry Pass gives easy entrance to the great
Madison basin, above the middle canon. Here end-
eth the second lesson in geography,
Our route lay through the latter opening; and a
charming day s ride it was, from the placid lake,
through the glens and glades of the pass, beneath
the shining summits, along the willowy banks of
the streams, by the great beaver-dams, and finally
across the wide basin, densely covered with slender
pines, until we camped again on the banks of the
river we had left two or three days before.
At this camp we got a taste of the mosquitoes and
black flies, which taught us that the country did not
swarm with game exclusively for us. After a fellow
has been slaughtering the inhabitants of the wilder-
168 CAMP AND CABIN.
ness for a week, it is, perhaps, a wholesome lesson
for him to be slaughtered in turn. The helplessness
of man against insects is one of Nature s sarcastic
comments upon intellect. Camels we can manage,
swallow even, if necessary ; but gnats are too many
for us. Our unfortunate animals couldn t eat, but
wound themselves up in their lariats, in frantic at
tempts to get away from the multitudinous foe. Old
Whitey showed his sagacity by quietly usurping the
smoky side of the camp-fire, whence he was not to
be enticed away. An hour after sunset, however, the
cold stiffened all winged nuisances, an August night
in these latitudes means frost, and, before they
thawed out in the morning, we had sounded our
" packs, saddles, and away!"
MARCH AND CAMP.
THE great Madison basin is perhaps thirty miles
wide by fifty long. The river enters it on the south
by a narrow canon, which now lay before us, and
leaves it on the north by the canon we had avoided
in our detour by Henry s Lake. The southern canon,
upon which we entered after crossing the basin, is
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 169
nine or ten miles long, and extremely picturesque.
Basaltic cliffs a thousand feet in height overhang the
passage, at the bottom of which there is room for
the rushing river, with grassy openings and groves of
pine on either side. The forest and the wave alike
teem with legged and winged game. Fish there are
none to speak of, probably on account of the hot and
mineral springs above, the effect of which is percep
tible in the moderate (though not tepid) temperature
of the water, the dense mists which arise from it in
early morning, and the presence of certain aquatic
plants along the bottom, which we (perhaps mis
takenly) attributed to the warm springs above. The
Lower Madison abounds in fish, and there is nothing
to prevent them from ascending to this point, except
the possible effect of the thermal waters.
We named no end of grand pinnacles and preci
pices in this beautiful canon ; but I fear oar names
will not stick. Doubtless Hayden or somebody came
along afterward, with a dictionary and a reporter,
and dubbed them all over again; and ere long the
Plantation Bitters man, with his pot and brush, will
have obliterated distinctions utterly, and labeled all
the prominent points alike. It is with a sad presen
timent, therefore, that I recall the glories of Cathe
dral Rock, where high in the air the basaltic columns
strangely curve and meet to form in the face of the
cliff the outline of a stately Gothic arch ; or Pul
pit Rock, a bold elevated rostrum aftar the fashion
170 CAMP AND CABIN.
which Mr Beecher detests ; or Thrasher s Hole, a gap
in the western wall, through which was seen a fasci
nating amphitheater of wooded hills, arid which got
its name from the difficulty with which Thrasher,
his mule, and his camera, were restrained from "go
ing for it," to the infinite delay of the expedition ; or
Family Buttes, a magnificent series of jutting peaks
and buttresses, terminating the canon, beneath the
shadow of which we made camp after the passage.
Our journey had not been altogether without stir
ring adventures, such as the christening of Duck
Creek and the interview of Hardpan with a bear.
The way to christen a creek is to immerse some
thing in it; and the article immersed, in this case,
was a member of the party, who desires me to sup
press his name. We were trotting along the river-
bottom, when an inquisitive coyote, or prairie-wolf,
poked his head over the terrace above us. A rifle
shot checked his curiosity without really frightening
him much, and he kept pace with us upon his upper
level in that graceful and leisurely way which char
acterizes his tribe, the loafers of the wilderness.
Sawtelle was suitably indifferent, as an old hunter
should be, knowing well the small pecuniary value
of a coyote-skin. But Sawtelle s dog raced after the
trivial prey like mad; aud two or three of us, realiz
ing that any thing is game which gives you a good
chase, sprang up the terrace in eager pursuit, lie-
suit: Mr. Coyote surveying us with calm wonder, out
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 171
of rifle-range, and with the whole continent for his
line of retreat; a brace of panting sportsmen, look
ing and feeling ridiculous ; and, worst of all, Saw-
telle s dog yelping away, with all the breath left in
his body, after a dozen antelope that sailed away up
the highland, alarmed by our too sudden emergence
from below. There was nothing for it but an
antelope-hunt by another relay of the party, and an
ignominious return of the defeated ones to lead and
drive the pack animals.
The gentleman to whom I have dimly alluded
happened to have the task of leading an ambitious
bay horse, to whose noble but somewhat broken-
winded spirit the pack was an unaccustomed insult.
As we pushed along the valley we came to a narrow,
lively stream, across which most of us passed with
out difficulty. The docile steed which this gentle
man rode waded peacefully through the flood, and
the vicious beast he was leading bucked " suddenly
on the hither shore. He would not let go the lead
ing rope, since that involved a long gallop after a
runaway ; and, firmly holding on, he exhorted the
recusant in an inspiring tone to " git up and git ! "
Unfortunately exhortations are most heeded where
not needed ; the good horse got up and got, and the
naughty horse sat down. Between the two, I found
myself I mean the anonymous gentleman found
himself suddenly disporting in the cool, cool wave.
Blessings on those big Spanish stirrups out of which
172 CAMP AND CABIN.
one slips so easily ! So we christened it Duck Creek,
and went our dripping- way. Thank fortune, those
fellows who went after antelope didn t get any that
time ! There is a damp kind of misery which can
not bear to look upon success; and drying one s self
at a gallop in a biting wind makes the temper as
creaky as the joints.
The hero of Duck Creek was likewise he who
climbed the dead cottonwood after a wounded eagle
in its nest. Those who remained to scoff, under the
tree, say it was beautiful to see him, embracing with
legs and arms the wind-swayed trunk, proceed, after
the fashion of a measuring-worm, while the bottoms
of his pantaloons, catching the contagious upward
tendenc}^ traveled kneeward along his noble limbs
faster than he skyward on the cottonwood. Four
times that heroic being ascended in vain ; four times
he descended, with rapid friction, bringing much
rotten and cotton wood : but the fifth time he car
ried up in his indomitable clinched teeth the end of
a lariat, which he fastened around the tree, and
then, descending in triumph, planted himself on a
neighboring knoll, victoriously tetered out, and cap
tured the shot eagle and two eaglets.
It was down at the camp on Bear Creek that
Hardpan interviewed the bear. lie was not hunting
bear just at that time, but eating berries with both
hands and all his might and mouth. A rustling in
the bushes indicated the approach of a bear. lie
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 173
awaited the encounter -with stern courage, resolved
to stab the bear with his jack-knife at the moment
of the fatal hug; for, in changing his position to
get a better view of the foe, he had accidentally left
behind his hat and his gun. It was a very large
bear, to judge by the rustling in the bushes. In
fact, continuing to judge, with that rapidity which
brave men show in the face of danger, he judged
that there were several of them, all large. Unfor
tunately, stepping across to a point about half a
mile farther down the creek, to get a still better
view, he lost so much time (a full minute and a
half), -that the bears escaped. In a solemn proces
sion to the berry ing-ground, we saw the very bushes
that had rustled, and recovered the hat and rifle.
Our practice at night w r as to pour water on the
fire after supper, and picket the animals close around
us where we lay on the ground. After reaching the
Upper Madison, we took turns in standing guard, to
watch against possible stealing or stampeding of the
stock, and also, from time to time, to see to it that
the picket-ropes were clear. When you want to
pasture one hors3 for one night on an ample lawn,
the business is easy enough. You drive your picket-
pin deep enough to hold, and leave enough of it
above ground to permit the firm fastening of the
rope, but not to permit the winding up of the rope
on the pin by possible circular promenades on the
horse s part ; after which, you bid the horse, and all
174 CAMP AND CABIN.
care on his behalf, good-night. Unless he is a very
raw recruit at picket-duty, he will move about with
perfect freedom over the whole circle of which the
rope is the radius ; and you will hear him nibble and
crunch the squeaking grass at all hours of the night.
But, when you apprehend Indians, you can t afford to
hunt up a smooth lawn for each horse. As the higher
mountains are entered, the grass grows scanty, and
it is necessary to make the best of such patches as
occur. So the animals get picketed where bushes
interfere with tho free circulation of the ropes, or so
near together that they can (and accordingly do) get
up mutual entanglements. Every such performance
shortens the radius, and the realm of food. An ex
perienced picketer generally makes one or two at
tempts to disentangle himself, by traveling around
in the direction that first occurs to him. If this hap
pens to bo the right one, he may work out again to
the full area of his destined supper : otherwise he
winds himself up, and then (unlike a clock) stops
going. It ir, the duty of the guard to go out, unwind
him, and start him again, lest, standing in patient dis
gust all night, he be found in the morning empty of
grass and of spirit for the day s work. It is solemnly
amusing to march in a moony midnight hither and
thither, followed by a silent steed, through all the
intricacies of the knot he has tied, with the aid of
stumps, bushes, his own legs, and his neighbor s rope.
Fancy yourself unraveling a bad case of shoestring,
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 175
and obliged to pull a horse through every loop at the
end of the string. The "Lancers" is nothing to it.
For a real mazy dance, to puzzle the floor-committee,
give me the nine-horse picket-cotillion. %
At daylight the animals are let loose, and stray
about, trailing their long ropes, in search of un tram
pled grass for breakfast. It is easy to catch them by
means of the ropes, though now and then an experi
enced old fellow has learned the exact length of his
lariat, and will not let you get near enough to clutch
the end of it.
This keeping guard at night without the compan
ionship of the camp-fire is a chilly and dispiriting
affair. The first watch is not very lonely. There is
generally some wakeful comrade who sits up in his
bed to talk ; or perhaps the whole party linger around
the flameless embers, exchanging stories of adventure.
But he who "goes on " from midnight till dawn, sur
rounded only by mummies rolled in blankets on the
ground, is thrown upon his thoughts for company.
The night-noises are mysterious and amazingly vari
ous, particularly if the camp is surrounded by woods.
There are deer and elk going down to the water to
drink ; there are unnatural birds that whistle and
answer, for all the world, like ambuscading savages;
there are crackling twigs ; the picket-ropes crawl
through the grass with a dreadful sound; the grass
itself squeaks in an unearthly way when it is pulled
by the horses mouths. The steady crunching of their
176 CAMP AND CAHIN.
grinders is a re-assuring, because familiar sound ; but
ever and anon it stops suddenly, all the horses seem
ing to stand motionless, .and to listen. Their ears are.
.quicker than yours: they hear something moving in
the forest, doubtless the wily Sioux. You glide
from tree to tree, revolver in hand, until you get near
enough to see that they are all asleep. Old Bony is
dreaming unpleasantly besides : it is an uncanny
thing, a horse with the nightmare. You make the
rounds. They all wake and go to eating again : so
you know they were not scared except the blooded
bay, who mistakes you for an Indian, and snorts and
I remember well such a night, near the banks of
the Yellowstone Lake, when we were doubly suspi
cious, because we had heard a rifle-shot close by our
camp, not fired by any member of our party. I was
on guard at about one A.M., and keenly alive to all
the blood-curdling sensations I have mentioned, when
suddenly the trees above and the ground beneath
were shaken by a brief but unmistakable earthquake.
The shock was in the nature of a horizontal vibra
tion ; and the emotion produced by the experience at
such an hour, in the solemn woods, w r as a unique com
bination of awe and nausea. I was not sorry that
one or two of the party were waked by it : under the
circumstances, I w r as grateful for a little conversa
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 177
HOT- SPRINGS AND GEYSERS.
BY our camp under Family Buttes, at the upper
end of the third great Madison canon, the river
" forks; " a considerable stream, called the East Fork
of the Madison, coming in at this point. We as
cended this stream two or three miles, attracted by
the appearance of a stream in the distance, which we
found to proceed from a group of large hot-springs.
These we studied with great zeal, and named with
much ingenuity. Unfortunately, the greater wonders
subsequently observed have driven these out of my
memory; and one of my note-books, in which the
whole thing is carefully recorded, with a view to im
mortality, is, at the moment of the present writing, in
the pocket of my other coat ; and I fear that coat has
been surreptitiously sold by my wife, for pin-money,
to a gentleman from Jerusalem who does business in
our street ; and at any rate I don t want the thing,
and wouldn t use it if I had it. It is my impression
that we called one spring the Caldron, another the
Kettle, a third the Safety- Valve, a fourth the Reser
voir, and a fifth the Devil s something or other. Ne
cessity is generally the mother of profanity in the
nomenclature of hot-springs. But I remember the
178 CAMP AND CABIN.
Bath-Tub, a deep crystal Lauy, on the brim of which
we sat, and parboiled our feet in the steaming tide,
until, the action of the water having in some strange
way thinned the aggregate cuticle, and increased the
sensitiveness of the membrane left, the fear of blis
ters overcame the love of romance.
Probably none of these springs are active geysers,
though one or two of the group may be so, and some
of them boil with great vehemence. The Caldron, in
particular, lifts a pyramid of ebullition, several feet
in diameter, to the height, occasionally, of two feet.
The most interesting feature of the group is the prc;-
cipitation of iron in the quieter parts of their reser
voirs. We could see, for instance, in the Bath-Tub,
bubbles of steam ascending from many small vents
at the bottom, indicating the points where the heated
water from beneath came up. As the hot stream
escaped from subterraneous pressure, and came in
contact with the cooler water above, it apparently
precipitated a portion of its iron (doubtless held in
solution under pressure as bicarbonate); and this pre
cipitation took place around the jet of hot water, so as
to form a tube, from the upper end of which the hot
ter current continued to escape. The process goes on,
of course, very slowly; and the tubes do not harden,
but are flexible and slimy. In the largest reservoir
they have accumulated great size, and lie along the
bottom wherever the hottest currents have flowed.
They look like reddish-brown slime-covered logs; but
WONDEES OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 179
a little scientific investigation with a long pole dissi
pates at once the log and the illusion.
Returning to the main stream, or rather the Fire-
Ilole River, since this is the name given to the west
ern branch, from this point up, we ascended its
course southward. For a dozen miles it traverses a
wild and narrow canon, breaking through the moun
tain-range which forms one wall of the Madison canon
described in the last chapter. Our course lay up and
down, and every whither ; sometimes in the stream
itself, when the steep precipices gave no footing ;
sometimes along a narrow grassy margin beneath
the cliffs ; sometimes straight up a fearful " climb ; "
sometimes straight down an awful slide ; through
the thick forests, over or around the fallen timber;
Thrasher s mule playing fantastic tricks, with only a
hand s-breadth between her and everlasting smash,
with the ruin of American art as a consequence ; the
other animals occasionally infected with the desire of
trying impossible passages, or of unloading them
selves at any expense : but cool heads, and good tem
per, and the diamond hitch, were finally triumphant
over all. It was a glorious, though a fatiguing, dozen
miles. Several fine falls and rapids were passed ; and
frequently we left the trail, to steal out upon some
projecting point, and gaze into the deep gorge, and
the whirling, roaring, iridescent flood. The scenery
of this region is never going to get justice from the
critics. Everybody will rave about the geysers and
180 CAMP AND CABIN.
the Yellowstone, and these lovely glades and wild
ravines will be set down as ordinary in comparison.
Nor can I afford to dally any longer by the way in
this sentimental fashion, I must give up the itine
rary style, and plunge at once, so to speak, into the
hot-springs and geysers. And, before we go a step
farther, I mean to get rid of a heavy weight of sci
ence which has burdened my soul long enough. You
shall not see a single geyser till you have heard the
The word "geyser" is an Icelandic term, meaning
to break forth : consequently, nothing is truly a gey
ser which is not truly a "buster." As Hardpan says,
after seeing the genuine article in the Fire-Hole
basin, " Those small sizzlers they call geysers in
California might just as well dry up or simmer
down: they can t run a two-for-a-bit side-show along
of this ! "
The true geyser, then, is characterized by a pecul
iar intermittent activity. It discharges periodically,
with almost explosive force, a column of hot water
and steam into the air; and, after the eruption is
over, it remains quiet for a considerable time. Now,
ask me four questions; to wit: Where does the water
come from? What makes it hot? Why does it
shoot into the air ? Why does it stop shooting ?
and don t bother me with cross-questionings; for this
is a subject that will bear more explanation than dis
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 181
The water comes, no doubt, from the same source
that supplies all ordinary springs ; namely, the clouds.
This is proved by the location of the geysers and hot-
springs at the foot of mountains, &c., where the per
colating waters would naturally find an outlet. How
deeply they have penetrated, however, before they ap
pear in their heated condition, it is impossible to say.
The fact that the surface all around is cold, except
when actually wet with the hot water, or permeated
with hot gases, seems to indicate a deep origin of the
heat. It is probable, however, that only a part, if
any, of the percolating springs actually penetrate so
far. At comparatively shallow depths they are prob
ably met by ascending vapors from below, at intense
temperatures, and thus heated to a mean degree.
According to some authors, the source of all this
heat, like that of volcanoes and earthquakes, is cos-
mical; that is to say, the store of heat still remain
ing from the early incandescence of the earth, or, in
other words, the fiery fluid interior of the globe. Ac
cording to others, it is chemical, or the result of solu
tions and decompositions in underground deposits.
That the latter cause is sufficient to account for vast
degrees of heat, there is no doubt; though there is
reason to believe that volcanic phenomena are due, in
part at least, to wider causes, and that the solf ataras,
hot-springs, and geysers belong in the same class.
My own observations incline me to believe that both
the heat and the decomposition of subterranean rocks
182 CAMP AND CABIN.
contribute to the temperature of thermal springs.
In cases where waters contain much iron, sulphuric
acid, sulphurated hydrogen, or alkalies, a considera
ble decomposition of the rocks may be plausibly in
ferred. When, however, as in most of the geysers
of the Madison, the water contains little mineral mat
ter, and that mostly silica, it is difficult to give an
adequate chemical cause of the heat, without assum
ing boldly that the results of decomposition have
been precipitated on their way up to the surface.
The peculiar discharge of the geysers, and their
still more remarkable intermittency, is the result of
the geyser tube and its connection. A thermal spring,
particularly a silicious one, tends to form for itself a
mound by the evaporation of its continual overflow;
and through the center of this mound runs, more or
less vertical and regular, the channel or tube of the
spring, branching oft at the bottom into the duct or
ducts through which the water is supplied. It has
been supposed that the intermittent action of the
geysers was due to subterranean reservoirs in which
steam accumulated until its force was sufficient to
cause an explosion ; but Bunsen showed, nearly twen
ty-five years ago, that the tube itself is sufficient to
account for all these irregularities. His experiments
were made upon the Great Geyser in Iceland, the
tube of which is from ten to eighteen feet in diame
ter, and has been probed to a depth of seventy or
seventy-five feet, lie ascertained the temperature of
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 183
the water at various parts of the tube just before an
explosion, and found that, strange to say, it was no
where boiling hot. This expression requires some
explanation. Our phrase u boiling hot" does not
signify any particular temperature. In the first place
different liquids boil at very different heats. Ether
and alcohol boil long before water : mercury, and
most other fluids familiar to us in daily life, require
a much higher temperature. If we were to try to
boil mercury in a lead or tin spoon, the spoon would
melt before the mercury would boil. But, even with
one and the same liquid, the boiling-point depends
on the pressure. Water may be heated in a closed
vessel to 400 without boiling. Our boiling point of
212 Farenheit is the temperature at which water
boils at the level of the sea at a barometric pressure
of thirty inches of mercury. As we ascend in alti
tude, the temperature of boiling water decreases.
The boiling-point for any pressure is the tempera
ture of saturated steam at that pressure. Assuming
the altitude of the geyser basin at about sixty-five
hundred feet, we have (2-3.64 inches barometer) 200
for the temperature of the water at boiling-point.
At different depths in the geyser tube, when it is
full of water, we have (by rough calculation) the fol
lowing boiling-points :
Ten feet, 210 ; twenty feet, 229 ; thirty feet, 240;
forty feet, 250 ; fifty feet, 258 ; sixty feet, 266 ;
seventy feet, 273 ; one hundred feet (if the tube is
184 CAMP AND CABIN.
so deep) 290 ; four hundred feet, 380 (about a hun
dred and eighty-five pounds pressure) ; one thousand
feet, 452, or about 453 pounds per square inch.
Now, if the water at forty feet from the surface is,
say, 245 hot, it can not boil ; but, if any thing could
move it up to thirty feet, it would there begin to boil,
and give off steam vigorously, because it would be
several degrees above the boiling temperature for
that depth. The pressure at forty feet from the
water in the tube is thirty pounds per inch ; and
that of the steam (at 245), only about twenty-seven
pounds. But at thirty feet the hydrostatic pressure
is only twenty-five pounds; and hence, if the water at
forty feet were pushed up to this point, it would be
hot enough to fly into steam, and the steam would
have two pounds surplus pressure. The column of
water above would, therefore, be lifted. If it were
entirely lifted, so that the whole tube above thirty
feet were full of steam, moving upward, the pressure
upon the water below would be greatly reduced, and
this would fly into steam with still greater excess of
power. Practically, the two operations take place
simultaneously; and from the middle, upward and
downward, the whole geyser tube bursts into steam,
and blows its contents out with great force.
The necessary preliminary lifting of the geyser
column is effected by portions of steam, generated at
the hottest points in the side-ducts, and forcing their
way into the main tube. Here they meet with cooler
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 185
water, by which they are condensed, unless, before
that takes place, they lift the whole column enough to
cause an eruption. The entrance, condensation, and
collapse of these bodies of steam, may be distin
guished at the surface by a sudden "jump," and
subsidence again of the water in the geyser-pool over
the tube, accompanied by explosive reports from be
low. Tyndall aptly calls these movements abortive
eruptions. After numerous repetitions of them, dur
ing which the water in the tube reaches its maximum
heat throughout, some larger lift than usual hoists
the whole affair with its own petard, and it becomes
the inquisitive observer to stand clear.
The duration of an eruption depends upon the
amount of sufficiently hot water " banked up " in the
subterranean channels which supply it. Its conclu
sion is marked by a diminution of steam pressure in
the tube and a condensation of the remaining steam,
causing a suction downward, which draws back the
water from the surface-pool.
186 CAMP AND CABIN.
THE LOWER GEYSER-BASIN OF THE FIRE-HOLE.
WE approached the geyser-basin with our expec
tation at the boiling-point, and ready to discharge;
for we had among the baggage two copies of " Scrib-
ner s," containing Mr. Lang-ford s account of the
wonders of the region, as seen by the Washburne ex
ploring party. His article occupied two numbers, and
we had t\vo copies of each : so four persons could be
accommodated with intellectual sustenance at one
time. For the other two, it was, as one of them
mournfully observed, "Testaments, or nothinV
Mr. Langford s articles (see " Scribner s " for May
and June, 1871) were vivid and tascinating; and we
found them, in the end, highly accurate. At the out
set, however, we were inclined to believe them some
what exaggerated; and Thrasher w r as divided between
his desire to catch an instantaneous view of a spout
ing column two hundred and fifty-six feet high, and
his ambition to prove, by the relentless demonstration
of photography, that these vents of steam and hot
water were u not half as big as they had been cracked
up to be."
We were not at first aware that there are two gey
ser-basins on the Fire-Hole River; the upper one,
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 187
ten miles above the other, being the smaller, but con
taining the largest geysers. It was this one which
Washbu rue s party, coming from Yellowstone Lake,
first stumbled upon, and, after viewing its splendid
display, naturally passed by the inferior basin with
little notice. But we, emerging from the forest, and
finding ourselves on the border of a great gray plain,
with huge mounds in the distance, from which arose
perpetually clouds of steam, supposed we had reached
the great sensation, and prepared to be enthusiastic
or cynical as circumstances might dictate.
We rode for a mile across the barren plain, picking
our way to avoid the soft places. This is quite neces
sary in the neighborhood of the hot-springs. Where
they have deposited a white, hard crust, it is gener
ally strong enough to bear horse and man ; but, over
large areas, the ground is like what we call, in the
East, "spring-holes; " and the treacherous surface
permits uncomfortable slumping through, haply into
scalding water. It is not very deep; but a small
depth under such circumstances is enough to make a
fellow " suffer some," like the "lobster in the lobster-
The plain contains a few scattered springs; and
along the river, its western border, there are many in
active ebullition. The. principal group of geysers is
at the upper or southern end, extending for some dis
tance up the valley of a small tributary from the east.
With cautious daring, we rode up the side of the
188 CAMP AND CABIN.
great white mound, winding among the numerous fis
sures, craters, and reservoirs that on every side of us
hissed, gurgled, or quietly vapored, with now and
then a slight explosion, and a spurt to the height of
a dozen feet or more. Sawtelle s dog nosed suspi
ciously around several of the basins, until, finding
one that seemed not too hot for a bath, he plunged
in, and emerged in a great hurry, with a yelp of dis
A couple of dead pines stood, lonesome enough, in
the side of the hill, " whence all the rest had fled."
They had died at their posts, and to the said* posts we
made fast our horses, and ascended a few rods far
ther, until we stood by the borders of the summit
springs. There were two or three large vents at the
bottom of deep reservoirs or intricate caverns. It
gives one an unpleasant thrill, at first, to hear the
tumult of the imprisoned forces, and to feel their
throes and struggles shaking the ground beneath
one s feet; but this soon passes away, and the phi
losopher is enabled to stand with equanimity on the
rim of the boiling flood, or even to poke his inquisi
tive nose into some dark fissure, out of which, per
haps, in a few moments more a mass of uproarious
liquid and vapor will burst forth.
We lingered much longer in this basin than my
brief notice of it indicates ; for, you see, we thought
we had found the geysers ; and oh the hours that
we spent " identifying " the individual springs that
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 189
Langford had described 1 Since the largest eruptions
we observed did not exceed forty-five feet in height,
we set down his account as hugely overdrawn, and
were deeply disgusted at the depravity of travelers.
But Sawtelle remarked, in his quiet way, that, "if it
w r ere not for that there article in that there magazine,
these yer springs would be considered a big thing,
after all ; and perhaps it was just as well to let the
magazine go to thunder, and enjoy the scenery."
This sensible advice we followed with much profit
and pleasure ; and we are all now ready to admit that
our happening upon the wrong lot of geysers first was
a most fortunate occurrence, since we should other
wise have been tempted to pass them by as insignifi
cant. The truth is, that, in some of the elements of
beauty and interest, the lower basin is superior to its
more startling rival. It is broader, and more easily
surveyed as a whole ; and its springs are more numer
ous, though not so powerful. Nothing can be lovelier
than the sight, at sunrise, of the white steam- columns,
tinged with rosy morning, ascending against the back
ground of the dark-pine woods and the clear sky above.
The variety in form and character of these springs is
quite remarkable. A few of them make faint de
posits of sulphur, though the greater number appear
to be purely silicious. One very large basin (forty
by sixty feet) is filled with the most beautiful slime,
varying in tint from white to pink, which blobs and
spits away, trying to boil, like a heavy theologian
190 CAMP AND CABIN.
forcing a laugh to please a friend, in spite of his
natural specific gravity. We called it the Paint-Vat;
and Hayden s people, I see, have called it the Mud-
Puff. Paint-Mud, or Puff- Vat, or any other permuta
tion or combination, will do.
A geyser in its old age becomes a quiet, deep pool,
or laiKj. This may occur by reason of the choking of
the vent, or the gradual growth in altitude of the
mound or tube, so that the hydrostatic pressure per
petually prevents explosive discharges ; or any other
causs leading to the opening of some new vent in its
neighborhood ; or, finally, a local diminution of the
heat, a change in the subterranean channels by \vhich
the heated vapors reach the spring-water, or such an
excess of the water-supply as prevents any part of it
from being converted into steam. In Hayden s report
it is suggested that the geyser eruptions must be most
frequent and grand in the spring and autumn, when
the supply of water is most abundant. It is possible,
ho\vever, that a large and sudden supply of water
may render them less frequent, or less grand, or both.
The lauys, or extinct geysers, are the most beautiful
objects of all. Around their borders the white in
crustations form quaint arabesques and ornamental
bosses, resembling petrified vegetable growths. (At
the risk of spoiling the rhetorical effort of this pas
sage, I will boldly say that they most frequently look
like sponges and cauliflowers.) The sides of the res
ervoir are corrugated and indented fancifully, like the
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 191
recesses and branching passages of a fairy cavern.
The water is brightly but not deeply blue. Over its
surface curls a light vapor; through its crystal clear
ness one may gaze, apparently, to unfathomable
depths; and, seen through this wondrous medium,
the white walls seem like silver, ribbed and crusted
with pearl. When the sun strikes across the SCPHO,
the last touch of unexpected beauty is added. The
projected shadow of the decorated edge reveals by
contrast new glories in the depths : every ripple on
the surface makes marvelous play of tint and shade
on the pearly bottom. One half expects to see a
lovely naiad emerge with floating grace from her fan-
tastically-carven covert, and gayly kiss her snowy
hand through the blue wave. AVhat we did see, in
one such romantic instance, was the whitened skele
ton of a mountain buffalo. Was it a case of disap
pointed love, and suicide? We voted otherwise, in
our degraded cynicism, and decided that the old fool
had come down from the hills to "take a little some
thing hot," lost his footing (as folks will, who do
that sort of thing), and got drowned, like Duke Clar
ence, in his own toddy. " Served him right," says
Hard pan: "there w 7 as too much water in his drink."
Whatever may be the moral of it, no king or saint
was ever more magnificently entombed. Not the
shrine of St. Antony of Padua, with its white mar
bles and its silver lamps, is so resplendent as this
sepulcher in the wilderness. Thrasher thought it
192 CAMP AND CABIN.
would make an elegant view, and would "take"
amazingly as part of a stereopticonical exhibition,
being a great natural curiosity. Everybody knows
flies in amber ; but who ever heard of a buifalo in
sapphire? Still, there are some things which Thrasher
can not do; and of these there are a very few which
he will not even attempt. One of them is to stand
astride of a deep pool of hot water, greater in diam
eter than the length of his legs, hold up a camera,
and take a flying shot at a sub-aqueous buffalo.
With unutterable woe in his countenance, he pro
nounced the unaccustomed words, " It can t be done,"
and was with difficulty prevented from taking a drink
of collodion (by mistake) in his despair.
It was not until we had crossed the mountains to
the Yellowstone that we discovered, through the
courtesy of Lieut. Doane, whom we met upon that
river, that we had not seen the grandest of the gey
sers. So, from the Great Canon we struck straight
across the ranges by a new route, and, emerging upon
the Fire-Hole, followed it to the upper basin.
WONDEES OF THE YELLOWSTONE.
THE UPPER GEYSER-BASIN OF THE FIRE-HOLE.
THE centers of the two geyser-basins are about ten
miles apart; though the distance along the river be
tween them, in which no springs are found, does not
exceed two or three miles. It is a lovely ride, fringed
with groves made musical by the rippling stream, and
watched over by the grandeur of the far hills. For a
part of the way, the traveler winds along the slopes of
vast accumulations of disintegrated geyser-sinter, like
ashes, only stained in various colors with sulphur and
iron, and mineral salts. At one place, several enor
mous hot-springs, which have built themselves up on
the river-bank, unite to pour over their incrusted rirn
a steaming cascade into the main current. But such
sights are grown familiar to us by this time, and we
do not even ford the stream to take a closer look at
Just as we were about entering the upper basin,
some quick eye caught sight of four strange spots on
the side of a snowy geyser-mound in the distance
ahead. They looked like so many dark paddles laid
in a row; but we recognized them, with a thrill of
anticipated feasting, as wild geese, lying, with their
necks extended, to comfortably snooze and simmer in
194 CAMP AND CABIN.
the sun. It is not a common thing to catch wild
geese asleep : so we made preparations to terminate
slumber with slaughter. The bold Hardpan and ihe
wise , like Diomed and Ulysses in the glorious
tenth book of the Iliad, "both lay down without the
path," and wriggled towards the enemy s camp,
while all the rest of us Greeks awaited the result.
There was a long interval of silence, broken only by
the occasional crackling of a twig. We learned sub
sequently that Ulysses insisted on crawling half a
mile or so upon his stomach, and made the impetuous
TyJides Hardpan do the same. At length the two
belligerents emerged from the forest, in serpentine
stillness, 011 the river-bank, just opposite the Trojans,
who slept serenely, but at long range. Our warriors,
sprawled at full-length, and stretching out their
heads as far as their limited necks would allow, to
reconnoiter the position, resembled ludicrously their
sleeping victims. The gleam of two rifle-barrels was
seen; a sharp double report broke the stillness; some
white dust flew from the distant mound and eighty
pounds Troy weight of uninjured goose-flesh got up
hastily, and went squawking down stream. As the
discomfited sportsmen returned, Hardpan remarked,
with assumed cheerfulness, that, by Jove, he had
scared em some! But this paltry consolation availed
nothing with the well-grieved Greeks. So, our ex
periment in the Homeric line being a failure, we
shot a couple of ordinary ducks for dinner, and rode
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE.
A short distance farther brought us into the Upper
Basin. This is about three miles long by half a mile
wide. Entering at the lower end, and passing numer
ous quiescent springs, we recognized at once the cone
of the Giant Geyser, which rises about ten feet above
the surface of a low mound, and looks like the petri
fied hollow stump of a big tree. Riding by it a few
hundred yards over the white sinter that covered the
ground, we camped in the edge of a grove, almost
under the shadow of the architectural pile of the
Castle Geyser. But, while we were removing packs
and saddles, a roar from the north indicated some
unusual occurrence; and, looking thither, we saw the
Giant in full activity. A few moments brought us to
the spot; and approaching the geyser on the wind
ward side, to escape the driving spray, we were able
to examine it closely. Out of its throat, five feet
in diameter, was rushing a full column of mingled
steam and water, the latter rising a hundred feet (by
measurement taken of a less than maximum height),
and the former shooting cloudily much higher, and
then drifting a\vay with the wind. This monstrous
eruption lasted three hours; and during its continu
ance the volume of the river into w r hich the water
flowed was nearly doubled.
A dozen feet from the main cone w r as a small vent,
which for a long time only vapored quietly, like a
meditative teakettle. Suddenly, however, this small
side-vent began to blow off steam with considerable
CAMP AND CABIN.
noise and power, and immediately the force of the
Giant Geyser was perceptibly weakened. This was
a safety-valve, or rather a low-water detector such as
we attach to steam-boilers. When the water sunk to
a certain level under ground, the steam escaped
through this side-channel, and thus the pressure in
the main tube was weakened. We thought the erup
tion was about to come to a close ; but new accessions
of steam and water below revived its enthusiasm,
the safety-valve shut up again, and the column rose
to its former height, this process being several times
repeated during the long continuance of the spring s
Near the Giant is the Grotto, a geyser which has
covered over its cone, so that the vent is partly hori
zontal. Some of us put our heads in, and could see
the boiling and muttering w r ater about twenty feet
below. One of the party proposed to crawl through
the cavern of sinter, with irregular side-openings,
which housed this spring; but he was fortunately
dissuaded. If he had tried it, he would have been a
parboiled man, and of no further use to anybody,
except to point a paragraph of soul-harrowing de
scription in this article, and to stop that hole against
some other fool, until the operation of time and hot
water had reduced him to the merely ornamental
condition of a skeleton, like that of the. buffalo.
lately described, the only insoluble things about
him being his bones, and how they got there. For
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 197
the geyser suddenly began to play, and a scalding
stream poured from the openings just now so safe and
This geyser also had its safety-valve companion,
in fact, more than one of them. The one which most
attracted us was a deep and beautiful reservoir, into
which ran one of the streams from the gushing Grotto.
Supposing that the reservoir was thus being filled,
we placed a pebble on the margin at the water s edge,
that we might measure the rate of its rise ; but re
turning in eight minutes, we found, to our surprise,
that the water had fallen a foot. The geyser was
emptying the reservoir from below, while it returned
but a portion of its contents by the surface stream we
had noticed. One of the scientific gentlemen said he
knew 7 all about it, it was in Greenleaf s Arithmetic :
" A cistern has two spouts : one is able to fill it in
one hour, and the other will empty it in half an hour.
Now, if the diameter of the cistern be 173,258,421
feet, and the height 25,479,623 feet, and the weight
of the water 62.49 pounds per cubic foot, and the
rate of legal interest six per cent, and both spouts be
running, how long will it take to fill the cistern?"
He said it was only necessary to substitute x and y
for some of these quantities, to make the case apply
to the Grotto Geyser; and he promised to work the
thing out for me when we got home. But now he
says that part of his Greenleaf has been torn out ;
and, besides, he is sure it is one of those things " that
198 CAMP AND CABIN.
no fellow can find out," because it depends on the
amount of water, which varies with the reports of the
Signal Service Bureau.
After we returned to camp, Old Faithful, in many
respects the most beautiful geyser of all, gave us a
brief but very satisfactory exhibition. This geyser
is situated near the upper end of the basin, upon the
top of a symmetrical mound; and its tube, being
smooth and vertical, gives a remarkably straight and
perfect jet, rising, sometimes, to the height of two
hundred feet. The performance of Old Faithful
lasts only about twenty minutes; but it is repeated
generally every hour. It was in full sight from camp,
and we could admire it at our ease, without leaving
our late and welcome dinner. A lively breeze car
ried the white steam away to one side, and left a
clean, sharp, vertical edge on the other side, marking
against the woods and the sky the column of the
fountain, and giving to the whole the appearance of
a gigantic plume. At intervals during the night we
turned our heads, without rising, as we heard Old
.Faithful s booming signal, and beheld through the
trees the pillar of cloud, snow-white and sparkling in
the starry night.
Probably the geysers are not regular in their times
of eruption. The Great Geyser of Iceland is notori
ously lazy and whimsical ; and often parties are
obliged to leave without having seen it discharge at
all, after camping and watching beside it for many
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 199
days. In our American geyser-basins, the springs
are so numerous, that no one fails to see at least a
dozen eruptions, though the largest are not the most
frequent. Here is a list of some of the principal
geysers of the Upper Basin, as seen by Washburne s,
Hayden s, or our party. The heights have been de
termined by actual though sometimes rude measure
ment; but it must be borne in mind that they gener
ally represent the maximum observed. Some of the
geysers maintain this maximum height with surpris
ing steadiness : others rapidly diminish in power.
Giant. Diameter, 5 feet ; height, 140 feet ; lasts 3
Giantess. Diameter, 18 feet; height of small jet,
250 feet; lasts 20 minutes.
Beehive. Diameter, 2 feet; height, 219 feet; lasts
Grand Geyser. Diameter, 6 feet; height, 200 feet;
lasts 20 minutes.
Old Faithful. Diameter, 20 inches; height, 200
feet; lasts 20 minutes.
Grotto. Diameter, 4 feet; height, GO feet; lasts 30
Castle. Diameter, 3 feet ; height, 50 feet.
Fan. Height, 60 feet; lasts 10 to 30 minutes.
Besides these, there are numerous geysers throwing
their jets from ten to forty feet, and many springs
which bear every indication of being geysers, though
they have not yet been observed in violent action.
200 CAMP AND CABIN.
A still larger number have once been geysers, and
have now relapsed into the quiet old age of the laug,
or have never been geysers, but hope to be some clay,
when they have accumulated a tube of sufficient
height, just as boys, when I was a boy, looked
forward to the achievements of manhood as synony
mous with tho possession of high standing-collars.
It was hard for us to tear ourselves away from this
interesting region; but duty called, and lack of pro
visions and ammunition induced us to listen. So,
from the Upper Basin we went back to Virginia City,
by forced marches, in four days, at the rate of over
thirty miles a day. Oar homeward journey was en
livened by one small " Indian encounter/ which, if I
should embellish it after the manner of frontier his
torians, would cause the sympathetic scalps of many
a Christian household to tingle. But "my con
science, hanging about the neck of my heart," bids
me confess that there was no fighting done, and that
our running was executed with dignified firmness.
This is not all of my story ; for I shall go back, as
the novelists do, and take up the thread of the tale
in the middle thereof, narrating in my next chapter
our experiences of the great lake, cafion, and cataracts
of the Yellowstone.
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 201
YELLOWSTONE LAKE AND RIVER.
THE great lake from which the Yellowstone River
flows is about twenty-two miles long from north to
south, and ten to fifteen miles wide from east to west.
Several long peninsulas extend into it from the
southern shore; so that the shape of the lake has been
compared to a human hand. The imaginative gen
tleman who discovered this resemblance must have
thought the size and form of fingers to be quite insig
nificant, provided the number was complete. The
hand in question is afflicted with elephantiasis in the
thumb, dropsy in the little finger, hornet-bites on
the third finger, and the last stages of starvation in
the other two. There are several islands in the lake ;
and soundings taken at many points indicate a depth
nowhere exceeding fifty fathoms. The altitude above
sea-level is 7,427 feet.
The scene presented to our eyes by this lake, as we
emerged from the thick forests on the western side,
and trod with exultation its sandy shore, was indeed
lovely. The broad expanse of shining water, the
wooded banks and bosky islands, the summits of lofty
mountains beyond it, faintly flushed with sunset, the
deep sky, and the perfect solitude and silence, com
bined to produce a memorable impression.
202 CAMP AND CAT] IN.
We camped near a group of hot springs, in one of
which we cooked our beans for breakfast by suspend
ing the kettle over night in the boiling tide. Beans
take a good while to " do," especially at such alti
tudes, where the temperature of boiling water is many
degrees lower than at sea-level. We regarded this
piece of cookery, therefore, as a culinary triumph.
Near our camp was another hot-spring, illustrating
in a curious way the precipitation of silica, to which I
have alluded in previous articles. The water emerged
at high temperature from a vent in the bottom of the
lake two or three feet from tlie shore. Coming in
contact with the cold water of the lake, it lost so
much heat by the mixture as to be forced to precipi
tate its silica; but this precipitation had always taken
place at a certain distance from the vent. In the
course of time, therefore, a wall of silica had been
built up through the lake-water, like a coffer-dam;
so that now the hot spring was completely protected
against the cold water, and stood in the lake like a
basin, with its surface several inches above the lake-
surface, and its hot current spilling over this self-
constructed brim. On the shore- side there was no
The lake swarms with salmon-trout, weighing from
one to four pounds each. Many of them are afflicted
with a curious intestinal worm, of a different species
from the two which are already recognized as para
sites of the salmon genus in Europe. Too many of
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 203
these tape-worms are not good for a trout ; but five or
six do not seem to hurt him much. We had no diffi
culty in rejecting, from the great number which \ve
caught with hook and line in a short time, such as
were unfit for food. The wormy fellows bite the
best, which is strange, when one considers that they
have already more bait in them than is wholesome.
Thrasher was wild with enthusiasm about the views
to be obtained from every point around the lake ; and
it took the whole company to tear him away from
each successive promontory. By judiciously indul
ging him on occasions of peculiar importance, however,
we succeeded in bringing him to the outlet, at the
north-west corner of the lake, where the Yellowstone
proper begins. Here we camped in a beautiful grove
commanding a prospect of the lake, woods, moun
tains, and river, so lovely as to linger yet in my memo
ry, the last and the fairest picture of all. About
six miles below the lake, and again at eight miles,
there are groups of sulphur-springs and "mud- volca
noes." The presence of sulphur in these waters leads
to the formation of numerous salts, such as alum, &c.,
and the precipitation by sublimation of beautiful
specimens of crystallized sulphur. These are very
fragile; and it severely taxed the ingenuity of our
party to pack them, in the absence of suitable materi
als, so as to safely transport them. (" The absence
of materials " is very poor stuff to pack things in, as
you will find out if you try it.)
204 CAMP AND CABIN.
It was while venturing, in search of specimens, too
near the edge of a vehemently bubbling and roaring
caldron, that Thrasher slumped through the thin
crust, and took a steam-and-sulphtir bath up to his
waist. He scrambled out so quickly, however, that
he suffered no apparent effects, unless we were right
in attributing to chemical re-actions the increased
spottiness of his corduroys.
The largest "mud volcano," or geyser, is situated
on a steep hillside, and surrounded with trees. The
crater is about forty feet in diameter at the top, ami
contracts rapidly to less than half that size. By
cautiously approaching the edge, and seizing the
opportunity when the steam drifts away, a view may
be obtained of the dingy and dismal interior. At the
depth of about thirty feet may be seen the surface
of the boiling mass, consisting of very thin mud in
the most violent agitation. We saw nothing like an
eruption ; and the only proof of such an occurrence
is the condition of the surrounding trees, some of
which have been killed, while others (even young
and growing trees) are covered more or less with
About eighteen miles below the lake, the Yellow
stone plunges from its high level into tho upper
canon. Only a few rapids give warning of the ap
proaching change. The river runs between low but
steep, and sometimes vertical rocky banks, until,
bursting through a narrow gateway, it leapn down in
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 205
a fine cataract a hundred and forty feet. Thence it
flows tumultuously onward (re-enforced by Cascade
Creek, which tumbles into it from the West), through
a picturesque canon, for about one-third of a mile ;
and then comes the grand cataract, three hundred and
fifty feet in one unbroken plunge. The surface of the
country around rather increases than diminishes in alti
tude as we follow the river down. The canon is carved
in it; and the banks rise from twelve hundred to
fifteen hundred feet above the river in the bottom.
A curious architectural effect is given to the scene
by the peculiar form of the canon. The material of
the country just below the falls is largely composed
of soft clays, sand, tufa, volcanic ash and breccia, &c ,
v/ith occasional masses (layers or boulders) of basalt
and other harder rocks. In this soft material the
agencies of rain, frost, and mountain-streams, have
wrought effectively. Every little brook or temporary
stream that spills into the Yellowstone at this point
from the surrounding highlands has cut a deep notch
of its own; and between these side-gulches great but
tresses are left standing in the main canon. These
would soon be carried away by the surface-sweeping
agencies mentioned, but for the fact that thc-ir forces
toward the river are protected by terminal rock-
masses too hard to be thus disintegrated and removed.
But their upper surfaces, between these termini and
the main bank, are sometimes deeply degraded, so
that the rocky points stand like pinnacles. We went
206 CAMP AND CABIN.
out upon one or two of them, first descending some
what, then traversing a narrow neck (about a yard
wide, with a precipice on either hand), and then climb
ing up to the pinnacle. The feat is more perilous in
appearance than in reality; for the soft, ashy material
gives excellent footing, and, even if one slipped, one
might slide to the bottom without injury. Standing
upon the pinnacle is far more trying to the nerves.
Here one finds one s self upon a rock not larger than
a dinner-table, with an almost vertical precipice of
more than a, thousand feet on three sides, and a slim
connection with terra firma on the fourth. Most
people prefer, under the circumstances, to sit down :
so at least did we, and gathered composure by a brief
rest, before giving ourselves up to the contemplation
of one of the most magnificent scenes on earth.
From our point of observation we command a view
of several miles of the canon. To the north, it soon-
disappears by a sharp turn, and penetrates gloomier
scenes. We can see the black walls that overhang,
far away, its awful depths. Southward, and beneath
and around us, there is no gloom, but grandeur
steeped in glory. A thousand feet below us. the river,
tiny in the distance, stretches its ribbon of emerald,
embroidered with silver foam. The great walls of
the canon glow with barbaric splendor, in such hues
as Nature s palette seldom furnishes. The bright
yellow of the sulphury clay is splashed with blood-
red stains of iron, and striped here and there with
WONDERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE. 207
black bands of lava. It is the " Schwarz Roth
Gold" of the ancient German banner, than which
there never was or will be a more gorgeous blazonry.
Above it the dark pine-woods finish the picture with
a green fringe against the bine depths of the sky ;
and, as the eye ranges up the long line of crested
pinnacles and shining precipices, it rests at last upon
the snowy column of the distant cataracts. It is too
far aw^ay to make its warning heard. This is the
banquet of the eye, and the ear is not invited. In
the clear, upper air we approach the perfect stillness
of which the poet sings, " that lucid interspace
twixt world and world," where dwell the gods,
" Nor sound of human sorrow mounts to rnar
Their secret, everlasting calm."
To bid farewell to such a scene is like descending
from the heights of heaven. Precious indeed is the
memory of so fair a vision, yet blent forever with the
pain t)f yearning. O silent splendors of solitude !
shall we never greet you again? Verily, not as be
fore; for ye are now part of a National Park, and ye
have a superintendent, and are speedily to be provided
with a turnpike and a hotel, and daily stages connect
ing with the railroad ; and, when \ve revisit you, \vo
shall pay toll to the man who owns the staircase at
the pinnacle ; and the fair being who leans upon our
arm will view the scene through her lorgnette, and
say it is not so nice as Niagara, and hurry us away.
THE ICE-CAVES OP WASHINGTON
ice ! Disconsolate drinkers hung about
the bar-rooms, sipping insipid cocktails and
cobblers, or playing "freeze out* in grim
irony, to decide who should have the first
lump out of that refrigerant cargo daily expected
from the North. Butter pathetically , swam about
on the platters ; cucumbers visibly wilted for disap
pointed hope ; fresh meat grew prematurely old with
sorrow ; the ice-cream shebangs shut up their busi
ness, and all over town might be heard the dia
bolical chuckle and supercilious snuffle of the tea
kettles, celebrating the triumph of hot water over
cold. Even the Templars couldn t stand it. That
worthy association had no scruples about appropriat
ing the convivial songs of all ages, and skillfully
injecting "cold water" into the place originally oc
cupied by " ruby wine," to adapt them for the uses of
reform ; but the strongest stomach in the fraternity
THE ICE-CAVES OF WASHINGTON. 209
rebelled at the Bacchanalian choruses, " Warm water
for me!" "Tepid and bright in its liquid light," "In
the simmering stream our bro\vs we lave, and par
boil our lips in the crystal wave." For once, the all-
transforming wand of the Muse of Temperance was
powerless, and the melodeon of the Lodge "dried
up." This was the situation at Portland, Or. ; and
it was, to borrow the most expressive word in the
Chinook jargon, that ripest fruit of time, product
of all languages, essence of concentrated speech, it
was, I say, cult us : yes, Injns cultus, or, in feeble Saxon,
highly inconvenient, disgusting, demoralizing.
Happy Dalles City, meanwhile, reveled in ice. The
living were content, the unburied dead were comforta
ble, and topers were saved the additional sin of pro
fanity ; for the seductive bar-room sign of " Iced Mixed
Drinks" was not a taunting, fraudulent voice crying
in the sage-brush. The philosophic observer, inquir
ing as to the cause of this strange contrast, was in
formed that a mysterious ice-cave in Washington
Territory constituted a reserve upon which the Dalles
fell back in seasons when the improvidence of the
Oregonians, and some unusual irregularity in cli
mate, combined, exhausted the supply of the great
necessity of civilized life.
Moved by various individual motives, but united
in the desire to render thanks at headquarters for
this blessed relief, a small party of us formed the
plan of an excursion to the cave. There was a keen
210 CAMP AND CABIN.
and portly Portlander, who cherished a secret inten
tion of building a hotel, constructing a wagon-road,
and creating out of the cave a fashionable ice-water
ing-place. There was a young, enthusiastic tourist
from the Mississippi Valley, who, having lived out
West till the West was East, had come to explore
the veritable Occident, beyond which there is none.
There was a veteran inhabitant, who goes out every
spring on snow-shoes, and "claims" the cave, under
an ingenious application of mining law, as a mineral
deposit, so as to obtain a monopoly of the ice-packing
business. And, finally, there was the present writer,
a person habitually animated by the purest impulses
known to reconstructed humanity, who joined the
party because he -wished to do so, than which no
reason could be more conclusive, or free from base
As we disembarked from the handsome steamer of
the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, near the
mouth of the White Salmon, we found ourselves as
sembled upon the sandy bank, as follows : four men,
four horses, and a huge quantity of bacon, crackers,
&c., together with a pair of blankets apiece. The
work of distributing the baggage, and packing it be
hind our saddles, so that it would not pound on a
trot, nor rattle on a gallop, nor quietly slip off on
a walk, so that the matches would not ignite upon
the coffee-pot, nor the bacon flavor the sugar, nor the
sardines burst among the crackers^ nor the candles
THE ICE-CAVES OF WASHINGTON. 211
(for exploring the cave) be mangled by the knives
and spoons (for exploring the victuals), was not ac
complished without some difficulty. But at length
all was adjusted except the frying-pan, which would
not pack, and was accepted by the Veteran, with, some
profane grumbling, as a very unnecessary evil, which
ought by rights to be "slung to thunder," but was
unjustly slung to him instead. That frying-pan owes
its safety throughout our trip to the fact that it was
borrowed, and must be returned. The Veteran rode
ahead, brandishing it sullenly, like some new instru
ment of warfare, and we followed in single file.
It was a ride of some forty miles to the cave,
through the bewildering beauty and grandeur of the
Cascade Mountains. We galloped over high, breezy
table-lands; we looked down on Josselin s nestling
ranch, alive with cattle, and lovely with fruit-laden
orchards; we followed the narrow trail along the
steep mountain-side, the deep misty canon of the
White Salmon below us, and beyond it the leafy
mountains rising, ridge above ridge, until they were
veiled in the smoke of burning forests far away.
We threaded our way through thick wildernesses of
undergrowth, parting the branches with our hands,
and scarcely able to see before us the path, well worn
for the feet by patient pack-mules, but not yet quite
ready for a rider taller than a bundle of ice. Anon
we emerged into beautiful openings carpeted with
bunch-grass or wild oats, and dotted with stately
212 CAMP AND CABIN.
oaks and pines, the ground kept smooth and lawny
by woodland fires, that creep silently from tuft to
tuft of grass or dry leaves, or smolder along the
course of fallen trunks, and kiss with burning, de
ceitful passion, as they pass, the feet of the giants of
the forest, that disdain to notice such trifles while
they can look abroad upon a measureless world and
sky. But now and then, favored by drought and
wind, the creeping fires grow bold, and spring like
tigers upon some feeble, dry old tree, wrapping it in
flame from root to crown ; or they gnaw at a sturdy
trunk till its strength is undermined, and then, some
fair, quiet day, like that on which we rode through
these solitudes, the overstrained column gives way
suddenly, and with a groan, a rustle of unavailing
resistance, a vain wringing of leafy hands, and wild
tossing of rugged arms, a crackling, a crashing, a
great rush and sweep, and a final heavy boom as of
far artillery, waking the echoes of the pitying hills
a tree falls ! Beautiful, but ah ! how sad, were the
belief, that imprisoned within it was a conscious
Dryad conscious, but not immortal to feel her
life carried downward in that mighty fall, into the
hopeless abyss of annihilation ; or, sadder yet, to lie
thereafter prone in the forest, and wait the deliver
ance even of utter destruction at the merciful hands
of Time and Decay!
But now we stand upon the crest of a high, steep
ridge, down which, with slow and careful steps, we
THE ICE-CAVES OF WASHINGTON. 213
must lead our horses. At the bottom rushes the
swift White Salmon, which we cross upon a frail,
swaying bridge to climb the rocky height upon the
other side, and mount again to gallop through the
woods. West of the river the surface rises in irregu
lar terraces, the results of successive basaltic over
flows. The rocky ridges, peeping through the soil,
cross our path at intervals ; and the fine dust rising
from the trail beneath our horses feet is the same in
character as that which daily chases the wagons on
the roads over the vast volcanic highlands between
the Columbia and the Snake. These rugged out
crops are the haunts of the graceful rattlesnake and
the vivacious yellow-jacket. My acquaintance with
one individual of the latter, though brief, was long
enough to be fatal to him, and memorable to me.
Our party was quietly jogging through the forest, and
my eyes were fixed, with mild lack of interest, upon
the crupper of the steady beast that bore the tourist,
when suddenly that respectable charger stopped, tried
to kick with all his feet at once, reared, plunged,
bucked, and revolved his tail with furious rapidity
in a plane at right angles with the axis of his body.
A moment after, my own steed began a similar series
of antics, under the attacks of a host of little ban
dits in golden mail, whose retreat we had invaded.
I laughed aloud at the novel situation ; but the insult
was terribly avenged. Straight out of the empty air
came a raging cavalier to answer the challenge, and
214 CAMP AND CABIN.
we fought it out in half a second. He insisted on
his right to choose ground, weapons, and distance ; to
wit, my hand, his sting, and considerably less than
nothing. His arrangements were so well made that
ho was well "into" me before I got "onto" him.
Result : one small dead yellow-jacket, of no account
whatever, and a hand and arm nearly as useless, i
<k gained flesh " for an hour with astonishing speed
losing sight of knuckles and sinews; and, had I that
day presented my hand to an aged, purblind father,
he would have had cause to say, " The voice is the
voice of Jacob ; but the hand is the hand of the boy
in Pickwick." Some good whiskey was wasted (as
the veteran opined) in external lotions ; but for a day
or two I could only hang up the useless member, and
make believe I had lost an arm at Gettysburg, and
deserved well of a grateful republic. Since that
time, I have had opportunity to study the yellow-
jacket ; and I know that, like other desperate charac
ters who hold life cheap, he is to be respected and
feared. He who would merely kill you may be a
coward, after all, and you need not leave the country
on his account ; but he who hates you, and, in com
parison with that passion, cares not whether you kill
him or no, is dangerous. Avoid him if you can, treat
him kindly when you may, smash him when you
must ; but be sure, that, nine times out of ten, he will
first put dagger into you.
We strike into the well-trodden trail of the In-
THE ICE-CAVES OF WASHINGTON. 215
dians, and frequently meet cavalcades of them re
turning, heavy-laden, from the great huckleberry-
patches, where they collect their winter store. Others
of them are spearing or netting salmon at the cas
cades of the Columbia and Des Chutes, and, with
dried fish and fruit galore, they will pass a merry
winter in their squalid manner. These fragmentary
tribes of the Upper Columbia Klikatats, and what
not are not so handsome as the Nez Perce s, farther
to the north-east; but there are now and then fine
faces among them, laughing-eyed young squaws,
old men with judicial brows, straight, strong ath
letes, and the children all promise a future beauty
which privation, hardship, and disease too surely
erase as they grow up." Was there a time when the
Red Man roamed, &c., contented and happy, valiant
and handsome, the perfect and worthy child of Na
ture V Show us the relics of former decent habi
tations, and good victuals, and we may, perchance,
answer in the affirmative. But perpetually living out
of doors, without clothes to speak of, and subsisting
upon food in precarious supply and frequently of
inferior quality, is not calculated to develop a high
type of physical, any more than of mental manhood.
If this doctrine be held to cast a slur upon Adam,
who represents to us the state of savage innocence to
which some people think we ought to return, I can
only say that Adam s career was a disgraceful one.
He had a better chance than the rest of us, and he
216 CAMP AND CABIN.
ruined himself and his descendants by a piece of real
Indian laziness and folly. Lolling about, and eating
the spontaneous fruits of the earth, instead of tilling
Ihe garden with industry, is just his sin, and theirs.
This copper-colored Adam, who was placed in the
Eden of the New World, has mismanaged it in the
same way. He and his dusky Eve have loitered and
idled away the centuries, living carelessly upon the
bounty of the passing time. Verily, by reason of
family resemblance to Adam (and, for that matter, to
Cain also), the Indians should be set down as a very
early offshoot from the Eden stock, transplanted be
fore the parent tree had begun its better growth.
"Too much preaching and philosophizing," says the
Tourist, who is interested in .the squaws and babies,
and not at all in Adam. In deference to his wishes, I
subside into silence and a trot. These Indians all talk
Chinook, which is the most fascinating of tongues.
Being the product of a deliberate agreement of men,
a compromise, it is said, between the Hudson s Bay
Company s agents, the Jesuit missionaries, and the
once powerful Chinook tribe, it is, of course, supe
rior to those misshapen dialects that spring up of
themselves, no one knows how. From the French,
Spanish, English, Indian, and Hawaiian, these wise
etymologists took what was best in each, and the
result comprises melody, force, and wondrous laconic
expressiveness. It is none of your tame tongues, that
can be spoken without gesture. Little boys declaim-
THE ICE-CAVES OF WASHINGTON. 217
ing in jargon could not possibly retain in nervous
grasp the seams of their trouser-legs. One of the
most frequent words is kahkwa, meaning " thus," or
" like this," and invariably accompanied with picto
rial illustration of movement or feature. Let us ad
dress this ancient chieftain, solemnly riding at the
head of a long train of " cayuse " horses, laden with his
household, his "traps," and his huckleberries: " Kla-
liowya sikhs?" (" How dost thou, venerable sir?") "kali
mika klatawa?" ("and whither journeyest? ") " Nika
klatawa kopa Simcoe. Mika King George, lilikum, Boston
tilikum?" ("I travel to the Simcoe Reservation. Are
ye of King George s men, that is to say, Englishmen,
or of the Boston tribe, that is to say, Yankees? ")
" Nesika Boston tilikum. King George cultus." ("We
are Americans all, and regard King George with
loathingandcontem.pt.") " Okook mika klootchman?"
we ask, (" Is yon beauteous being thy bride ? ")
" Nawitka" ("Yes.") "Siah kopa lamonti?" ("Is it
far to the mountains?" lamonti, from the French
la montagne.) " Wake siah ; wayltut hyas kloshe, okook
sun ; kali cldlchil kahkwa tomolla keekwillie kahkwa ;
tomolla moosum kopa lamonti." (" Xot far ; good
road to-day, steep; to-morrow, low and level, thus
and thus ; to-morrow night a camp at the moun
tain.") A very commonplace conversation, but full
of music, as you will discover, if you read it aloud,
Mademoiselle, with your sweet voice. But the Vet
eran is loping far ahead. Jargon has no charms for
218 CAMP AND CABIN.
him: he has prattled too many years with these babes
of the wood.
It is thirty-five miles from the mouth of the White
Salmon to the ice-cave; and over this trail by which
we travel the ice is " packed " upon the backs of
mules and horses. We meet upon the road the
leaded train. On each beast two sacks, each of
which contained, at starting, a block of ice weighing,
perhaps, t\vo hundred pounds, but destined to melt
away to half its original dimensions before it reaches
the steamboat-landing. By this simple device, as
the toilsome day wears on, the burden diminishes,
andj while it grows lighter, distills refreshing cool
ness on the bearer. The dividends of the business
would be larger, however, as the Portlander acutely
remarks, if the ice were better packed at the cave.
But this is a fair sample of the mining industry of
the coast. Happy that enterprise, whereof the drip
pings only equal the savings!
The sun drops into the hazy west as we ride into
a forest glade, and the Veteran exclaims, " Here she
is ! " We resolve upon an immediate preliminary
examination of the cave, and subsequent supper and
sleep. All that presented itself was an opening in
the ground a dozen feet square, formed by the fall of
a portion of the roof. We had passed, within a few
hours, numerous openings of this kind, the mention
of which I have omitted for artistic reasons. I would
not fritter away the reader s interest in minor caverns
THE ICE-CAVES OF WASHINGTON. 219
on the way. The examination of several, however,
qualifies me to give wise explanation of their nature.
Thcso caves are channels in the basalt, through
which the latest flows of melted matter passed. The
phenomenon of a stream of lava walled and roofed
with congealed material of the same character may
be observed at almost any active volcano. I have
seen it on the sides of Vesuvius during a quiet erup
tion. If the source of such a stream is suddenly
choked, the lava will continue to flow for some dis
tance, protected from rapid cooling by the crust
above, and thus a portion of the channel will be left
empty. It is not difficult to recognize this process in
the basalt caves of Washington Territory. Their
walls are covered with the traces of the departing fluid
matter, and on their floors may be found masses of the
congealed lava, still fibrous from its last vain effort
to follow the current. It looks, my young friend,
like that piece of abortive molasses candy which
you threw away in despair, because it got so stiff
and would not "pull." But whence the ice that
strange dweller in these homes of fire? That, also,
you .shall know.
Only a few of these caverns contain ice ; and they
are connected at both ends with the open air, by
means of passages formed by the falling-ill of the
crust, or the flssuring of the rocks by frost, or, finally,
by the gradual denudation of the surface, exposing
the ancient channels themselves. The intense rei ri-
220 CAMP AND CABIN.
gerating airs of winter are thus allowed free passage.
Alternately with these, the percolating waters of the
surface find their way into the caves in such small
quantities that they freeze, layer upon layer, solid
from the bottom ; and the store of ice thus accumu
lated thaws slowly during the summer. This sum
mer thaw is retarded, not only by the covering which
protects the ice from the direct rays of the sun. but
also by the fact that the melting ice at one end of
the cave, through which the summer draught enters,
itself refrigerates the air, and maintains a freezing-
temperature at the other end. We noted in the
main ice-cave, which we explored, a decided differ
ence in the degrees of thaw at different points.
This difference was due to the cause above men
tioned; and I had the honor to determine it by slid
ing unintentionally down a glacial stalagmite, and
observing practically the degree of moisture upon
its surface. The popular report, that, as fast as ice
is removed from the cave, it continually and at all
seasons forms again, is without foundation. The
amount of it in the cave is not very great, though as
yet undetermined; and what there is, perpetually,
though slowly, wastes away. The main body of ice
has a level surface, indicating subterranean drainage
at a certain point, above which water does not remain
in the cave. There are a few stalactites, and still
more numerous stalagmites, here and there. One of
these is a superb, transparent hillock, rising nearly
THE ICE-CAVES OF WASHINGTON. 221
to the roof, and christened "the Iceberg." Here I
took my slide.
The entrance used by the ice-miners is the opening
in the roof already alluded to. At this point the
channel turns at right angles, and this sharp turn
left the roof with less support, so that it fell in. We
followed the cave more than two hundred feet in one
direction from this entrance, and perhaps five hun
dred in the other. The short arm of it contains
most of the ice, and the long arm simply reaches out
through fallen rocks and rubbish to daylight. The
terminus of the cave in the other direction was
reached by the Tourist, who, being a small man and
an ambitious, hatcheted his way over the iceberg, and
crawled out of sight into a fissure beyond, from the
depths of which his voice was presently heard, an
nouncing that it was " too tight a fit" for him to go
farther. Tableau: Tourist in the hole, triumphant;
Writer perched on the iceberg, curious, but cautious;
portly Portlander, halfway to the entrance, resolving
to have that hole made bigger when the hotel is
built; and Veteran at the entrance, not caring a
The dimensions of the cavern are not large. It
does not exceed thirty feet in width, nor (at present,
\vith the bottom full of ice and fallen fragments of
basalt) twenty in height. Others in the neighbor
hood are larger, but do not contain so much ice.
From the nature of their origin, it is not likely that
222 CAMP AND CABIN.
any of them possess extraordinary dimensions, ex
cept in length. In this direction they extend for
miles; though they can seldom be followed under
ground, without labor in removing rocks, &c., for
more than a few hundred feet. It was in the present
instance the indefatigable Tourist, who, with the do
cile Writer in his wake, made a second visit to Hades
after supper, and, entering by the familiar chasm,
found the new exit far to the south, and emerged
thereby, to the great amazement of the party by the
camp-fire, under whose unconscious feet they had
passed, to re-appear in an unexpected quarter.
If you ever visit the cave, don t let the Veteran
persuade you that it is necessary to ride two miles
farther to camp, on account of water. There are
pools of clear ice-water within it; and behind a tall
pine, not far away, you will find two wooden troughs
half sunk in the earth. One of them is very leaky;
the other not so much. Let one of you stand at the
bottom of the cave, and another lower from above
the coffee-pot, made fast to a lariat. A third can
run to and fro with the precious liquid ; and in a few
minutes you will have water for your horses in the
trough. The Veteran will sit on a log, scornfully at
first, but finally snort his approbation. At least, that
was the order of operations on the present occasion.
The joys of camping out I do not undertake to
describe. In this effeminate day, when people sit in
their parlors and read about things, instead of doing
THE ICE-CAVES OF WASHINGTON. 223
them, thank goodness there is something left which
can not be put into words ! There is a period of per
fect peace, when, rising at midnight, and putting a
fresh log on the fire, one gazes placidly about upon
his sleeping comrades, lights a pipe, and communes
with himself, the dancing flame, and the solemn,
silent forest. Interjected between the jollity of the
evening rneal and the business-like activity of break
fast, packing, and mounting, this midnight pipe of
peace is like a whiff from another w 7 orld. Ho\v
ridiculously different from sitting up in bed, and
lighting the gas !
Another thing which I omit is a description of fair
St. Helen s and grand Mount Adams. How they ac
company us with their eternal beauty all the way !
How delightful is the change from the gloomy caves
to the paradise that lies just beneath the edge of the
melting snows on Mount Adams ! There innumerable
varieties of flowers bloom, even at this late season,
the whole Flora of the coast, but dw arfed by their
Alpine locality into forms of infinite delicacy, and,
hovering among them, multitudes of humming-birds,
who have gathered here to find again the blossoms of
June, vanished long since from the South. Streams
alive with trout (liyiu tenas salmon) and white goats
on the snowy fields above, to tax the skill and daring
of the more ambitious sportsman I could give you
a fine description of all these things; but T must stop
here. And morally it is quite as well, for the smoke
CAMP AND CABIN.
in the air prevented us from seeing Adams, or visit
ing the Paradise of Humming-birds but which is,
nevertheless, there ; and so you will find out, when,
next July, you add to your summer trip along the
grand Columbia a charming three-days excursion to
the region I have faintly depicted.
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK. 1
HE ascent of the Rocky Mountains from the
east begins so far away, that it is useless to
include the whole of it in this brief sketch.
Even at Omaha, one is nine hundred and
sixty-six feet above sea-level ; and, in traveling west
ward to Cheyenne, one trundles smoothly up hill,
until, by imperceptible degrees, the altitude of six
thousand and forty-one feet has been attained. The
bugbear of the Rocky Mountains, and the way it
vanishes when assailed, are a perpetual joke on man
kind. One is amused, in the midst of the monoto
nous iteration of buffalo- grass and sky, by the re
currence of the reflection that this is the forbidden
barrier between East and West, about as much of
a barrier as the hole in the fence through which one
used, in comparative infancy, to kiss the little girl
that lived next door, a positive opportunity, an in
vitation, not a hindrance.
But if you think, fair reader, that the rest of the
fence is like this easy gap in it, just come along with
22G CAMP AND CA1UN.
me, and climb one of the pickets. We are going,
two or three of us, to ascend Gray s Peak.
From Cheyenne to Denver is a ride over the Plains
of about a hundred and ten miles. The new railroad
is excellently built and stocked. The view from the
car-window is enlivened by glimpses of prairie-dogs
erect on stern at the doors of their burrows, and now
and then an owl blinking in the sun. The dogs and
owls do live together in the proportion of a great
many dogs to one owl : wisdom is in the minority in
this world. But don t you believe that story about
the rattlesnakes being members of the same happy
families. As far as I can find out, the snakes inhabit
the holes, as the first of them may have lived in Eden,
after the ejection of the original tenants. Believe
what good you choose about all other branches of
creation, but never you 1st up on snakes : that way
There are antelopes too, charming compounds of
timidity and curiosity, their slender legs carrying
them swiftly away as the train approaches, and their
slender noses, with skillful leverage, whirling them
about to sniff and stare. But we do not need these
petty distractions; for, lo ! vision denied till now
through all the weary way the rreat mountains
themselves now loom up, silent and majestic on the
\vest, and accompany us, hour after hour, with their
shining crests, and purple canons, and floating wreaths
of cloud. The sun sets behind them, and their glo-
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK. 227
ries vanish in a cold, gray monotone. You should see
them at sunrise, if you would learn their infinite beau
ty. Then the but this won t do : we have got to
climb Gray s Peak, and we are using up all the adjec
tives beforehand. That s Gray s Peak yonder ; and
that other, close by, is Irwin s. Away to the north is
Long s; and terminating our view of the range to
the south is Pike s, grandest in outline of them all.
This view of two hundred miles of the Rocky Moun
tains in one picture, from the Plains by Denver, is
not surpassed in the w r orld. The Alps seen from the
top of Milan Cathedral are lovely, but too faint and
far. There is a place on the old road from Dalles
City to Canon City in Oregon, where a similar pano
ramic view of the Cascade Range may be obtained,
including Shasta, Jefferson, The Sisters, Hood, St.
Helena, Adams, and even (to a good eye, favored with
a clear day, a first-rate glass, and a fine imagination)
Baker, and Rainier. That view is equal to this ; but
it is a great deal harder to reach. So, considering all
things, we may decide that the display of the moun
tains before Denver is the finest thing of the kind
ever provided by Nature, and developed by railroads.
This thrifty settlement, by the way, is the new col
ony of Greeley. Two hundred houses already, and
not a solitary one last spring. The inhabitants all
have more or less capital, and so they will escape the
poverty-stricken children of most pioneer settlements.
There are only one or two Democrats in town, not
228 CAMP AND CABIN.
enough to keep the Republican party from splitting.
And there are no liquor-stores at all, a miracle in
these parts. Is it partially accounted for by the very
near neighborhood of Evans (only a couple of miles
away), formerly a temporary terminus of the railroad,
and a very busy place, where now there is scarcely any
thing left but saloons and bars? Let us hope that the
Greeleyites will let Evans alone.
But here we are at Denver, a pretty town, more
substantially built than any other of the interior, not
even excepting Salt Lake. Denver has three rail
roads already, the Denver Pacific to Cheyenne / the
Kansas Pacific to Kansas City and St. Louis, and the
Colorado Pacific to Golden City, all shortened, to
save the valuable time of hotel clerks and runners,
to the D. P., the K. P., and the C. P. Remember,
moreover, that, if you take the D. P., you must be
going to Cheyenne to connect with the U. P. : so mind
your P s and cues, or you ll lose your baggage.
The Colorado Pacific, with sublime audacity, strikes
straight at the heart of the mountains What it has
to do with the ocean whence it borrows half its name,
can only be seen by continuing the line of the road
through a dozen or more of the highest ranges in the
country. This process is easy on a map with a lead-
pencil ; but drawing a line is not drawing a train.
However, there is inspiration in names, and nobody
knows what may happen. A few years ago any Paci
fic railroad was chimerical : a few years hence all of
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK. 229
them may be achieved and trite, and we may be
laughing at the Kamtschatka Baltic, or the Cape of
Good Hope Mediterranean, or the Patagonia Arctic.
Having had our joke, let us take our tickets. Fif
teen miles, or thereabout, is the distance to Golden
City, the present terminus of the railroad. The route
winds among grassy foothills capped with basalt, that
seem to be a compromise between rugged mountain
and rolling plain. Golden is nestled among them,
a thriving, ambitious town, endowed with fire-clay,
coal-mines, and a fine seminary. A territorial school
of mines is about to be established here; possibly the
students will find the locality more agreeable, but
less profitable, than Georgetown or Central, where the
arts of mining and metallurgy are extensively illus
trated in practice.
Not desiring to visit Central at present, we will
cross over from Golden to the main stage-road for
Georgetown. The excellent coaches of the Colorado
Stage Company bear us to Idaho City, and hence up
the long, magnificent Virginia Canon to Georgetown.
Idaho (let us drop the " City : " most of these moun
tain towns were founded for metropolitan purposes,
and their high-sounding titles now have a ring of dis
appointment; so that the inhabitants save themselves
both time and mortification by dropping the sugges
tive appendix: hence Denver, Golden, Central, Vir
ginia, Ruby, Empire, Diamond, Star, and what not;
hence, also, Idaho) is picturesquely situated at the
230 CAMP AND CABIN.
meeting of two or three canons, the main one being
that of Clear Creek. Certain hot-springs give the
town a permanent importance as a watering-place :
and numerous mines in the neigborhood bestow upon
it the flickering reflections of their fluctuating pros
perity. The ten miles of Clear Creek Canon that lie
between this and Georgetown are full of fine rock
scenery, not unlike portions of the Via Mala in Switz
erland, though here the snowy peaks are not in view.
People say, moreover, that the legendary and his
toric charms which add so much to the attractions of
Nature in foreign lands are wanting in our own; but
that is a mistake. If you don t believe it, talk to the
driver. The guide told you, somewhere in the Alps,
did he? of a peasant who found the treasures of the
mountain-elves, and when he \vent to look for them
again, with a party of friends to carry them away,
lo ! there was nothing but barren rock. Bless you,
that happens here every day ! Up yonder, a thou
sand feet over your head, is a white rock. That is
the outcrop of the Salamander Ledge. The man
that owned it knew 7 it was the mother-lode of the
Kocky Mountains; the geologist who examined it was
sure it was the real "igneous fatuous " rock, and no
mistake; and the company that bought it proposed
to pay the national debt, after satiating their stock
holders. But there never Vas a pound of ore discov
ered in it, except the specimens that went East, and
there is a touch of the legendary in them even. Beat
that story in the Alps, if you can.
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK. 231
They talk, too, about ruined castles, stately old
rookery on a hill, desolate cloister in the valley,
knight went to Palestine in olden days, villain way
laid knight, began suit to lady, rascally priest mixed
up in the business, and sp on. Not a bit more pa
thetic than the history of yonder magnificent pile, the
Megatherium Mill, with its pristine splendor, knights
and ladies (pardon me, Madam, for alluding to them),
its suits and battles, its final abandonment and pres
ent desolation. The lively dwelling-house beyond is
a monastery now, and a monk in red flannel shirt and
long beard smokes a pipe there.
Ruined aqueducts of the Campagna? We can
match them too. Look at these flumes and ditches,
and grim, toothless wheels, sported by the current
they once controlled! See the heaps of boulders,
every one of which has been lifted by zealous hands,
if perchance the philosopher s stone might lie beneath.
Yes, the romance of the past is here. These wild
scenes are clothed, as truly as those of the elder world,
with the ambitions, hopes, disappointments, and tra
gedies of the human heart.
But all around us here is the life and busy indus
try of the present. Fortunes are carved out of these
rocks ; and Clear Creek Canon discharges to the wide
plains andHhe wider world^ its steady stream of wealth.
Of course, I don t mean to say this is romantic. I
throw in the remark merely for the information of
capitalists, and to satisfy my conscience, which might
CAMP AND CABJN.
otherwise be quickened unpleasantly by some justice-
loving citizen of Colorado, who would fire a revolver
or a leading article at me to remind me that the terri
tory is by no means dead yet.
Here is Georgetown, imbosomed in the mountains
which overshadow it on every side, and leave it only
space enough to be comfortable and beautiful. It is,
indeed, a lovely site, and doubly so by comparison
with the awkwardness of Central, squeezed into its
three or four precipitous canons as one rubs putty in
a crack. Georgetown possesses, however, what Cen
tral doesn t even claim, a good hotel. On the other
hand, let us be just, and then fear not, the mines
about Central produce a great deal more money at
this time ; the achievements of the districts around
Georgetown being but respectable at present, and
magnificent in future.
Perhaps you think we are coming but slowly to
Gray s Peak. Not so. While I have beguiled the
way with gossip, we have steadily ascended, until now
we are some nine thousand feet above the sea. You
wouldn t have a man begin to climb a mountain at
nine thousand feet, and call that the outset ? lleflect,
moreover, that I had a clear right to begin at the At
lantic Ocean. Where should we be now in that case?
Certainly not out of the clutches of Chica^%. Sleep
in peace this night : to-morrow s sunrise will see us
far on our way.
u To-morrow s sunrise" is a phrase carefully chosen ;
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK. 233
for the sun makes no haste to rise in these deep canons.
We may even, on our winding route, enjoy half a
dozen sunrises, plunging again, after each one, into
the chill shadows of last night. But gloriously tipped
with gold are the crest-ridges, and steadily the luster
crawls down the steep rock-faces, until at last the
glowing day is everywhere, save in those profound
coverts where the cold, clear springs are hidden under
tufted mosses and closely-twined arms of Dryads, and
in the subterranean recesses of shaft, or tunnel, or
stope, where the swart miner swings the sledge in per
Mounted on the active, sure-footed horses of this
region (which have better endurance than the coursers
of the plains, as the Denver boys found out when
they bet their money at the Georgetown races), we
follow the wagon-road up the canon of the north fork
of the middle branch, or the middle fork of the south
branch, or something to that effect, of South Clear
Creek. The stream was once well named. They say
one could count the trout in its waters only they
were too many to be counted. .But sluices and tail
ings have long ago corrupted its lower course. Only
up here towards its source is it still worthy, in some
degree, of its pretty title. The turnpike follows it
patiently, under many difficulties, now clinging along
a steep bluff far above it, now crossing it by a rustic
bridge, now peacefully enjoying for a season its close
company through a bit of fertile or gravelly bottom-
234 CAMP AND CABIN.
land. The mountains crowd us all they can, and
now and then they seem to have cornered us entirely.
Just above Georgetown there is apparently no way
out of the cul-de-sac into which they have driven our
brave little creek ; but a way there is, and through it
Clear Creek leaps into Georgetown. Of course the
gap is called the Devil s Gate, or something similarly
diabolical. It is the Western way to clap the infer-
nalest names on the heavenliest places, flying, in such
cases as this, moreover, in the face of Scripture, which
informs us that the Devil s gate is not narrow, but
broad and easy.
The mountain-sides are still covered with timber,
though sadly scarred by great fires which the reck
lessness of the inhabitants occasions or permits. The
straight, dead pines, first charred and afterwards
bleached, bristle like gray porcupine-quills on the
back of the range. In the more accessible places
wood-cutters are at work, felling the dry timber, and
shooting it down the steep precipices to the valley.
All along the base of the mountains are the mouths
of inchoate tunnels, reminding us of those curious
organisms that begin with a mouth only, and develop
their bowels afterward. High above, sometimes fif
teen hundred feet over the stream, are dumps and
windlasses, showing where the silver-veins have been
found. So many promising veins have been discov
ered on these bare summits, that it is almost a maxim
with some of the prospectors that,
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK. 235
" A good silver-mine
Is above timber-line
Ten times out of nine."
But let us drop the subject. That way lies science.
At Brownsville, three miles distant from George
town, are the Brown and Terrible Mines, and the
smelting-works of the former company. The mines
are situated up a steep, rocky gulch, above the Brown
works, the Brown Mine being uppermost, and the
Terrible between. The ore extracted from the Brown
is brought down on an aerial tramway, the rails of
which are tightly-stretched wire-cables ; and in this
way the Brown transportation goes on through the
air, over the heads of the Terrible people. The
smoke and fumes from the smelting-works float up
the canon for a long distance, and supply the cloud
hitherto lacking in this morning s spotless sky.
Three miles farther, through the constantly nar
rowing and rising valley, bring us to the settlement
and the handsome mill of the Baker Company. It is
this company to which we are indebted for the good
road we have traveled thus far : and indeed the bless
ing is not yet exhausted; for the company s mine
is not far from the summit of Gray s Peak, and the
company s teams have made a capital wagon-road up
to the mines.
At this point w 7 e leave Clear Creek, and follow up
a tributary known as Kelso. The road now mounts
more steeply. The pines and quaking-asps, dwarfed
236 CAMP AND CABIN.
somewhat in stature, come close to us as we ride, as
though they were lonesome, and huddled along the
road to catch a social glance or word from a passing
traveler. The birds and squirrels, so plenty a mile
below, suddenly cease to be seen or heard. The pecul
iar stillness of the upper air makes itself felt. Pres
ently we have emerged from the last belt of timber,
and are alone with heaven.
No, not yet! Hundreds of feet still above us, on
the side of Kelso Mountain, are the buildings of the
Baker Mine. A shanty may mean any thing ; but a
house with a chimney is a sign of permanent habita
tion. At that warning finger, Solitude gets up and
goes. Nevertheless, barring the Baker Mine, the
scene is grand as Nature before the age of man. On
the right, Kelso Mountain turns to us a rounded, con
ical form, grass-clad. On the left, McClellan Moun
tain presents a circling ridge ; the face turned toward
us being as steep and rugged as it can be, and not fall
over. Whoever has ascended Vesuvius, and remem
bers how the central cone arises from within the sur
rounding precipices of a former crater, will compre
hend the general position of the parts of this wild
scene. But these rocks are not volcanic. The farther
side of McClellan is sloping, like this side of Kelso ;
and the farther side of Kelso is rough and perpendicu
lar, like this side of McClellan ; and the ridge of Mc
Clellan does not completely surround Kelso, but at its
farther end soars up into two peaks, and there stops.
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK. 237
These two peaks are Gray s and Irwin s; and, as we
journey, they come into full near view from behind the
head of Kelso.
I am glad enough that the scene is not volcanic.
This gray granite, or gneiss, has far greater variety
and beauty of form, and gives us delicate shadows.
Though it may lack the imperial purples of trachytes
and tufas seen in the distance, it does not offer us
their horrid blackness seen near by. Besides, there
are dainty grasses and blossoms that sometimes hang
by one hand from clefts in the granite, and swing in
the wind. Yosemite, Smoky Valley, and Gray s Peak,
let the lava people, with their Snake Caiions, Sho-
shone Falls, and gloomy Dalles, match this granite
trio if they can !
It is lucky that our path doesn t lie up that face of
McClellan Mountain. Lie? It couldn t : it would
have to stand. No mortal could climb there without
wings. I?ut what is that a thousand feet up the clilf ?
A house ye gods! a boarding-house! The glass
shows us fragments of a zigzag trail, interspersed
with ladders where the precipices are otherwise im
passable. Now we see, at the foot of the cliif, another
house, and between the two, fine lines, like a spider s
web, stretched through a thousand feet of air. That
is the somewhat celebrated Stevens Mine. The men,
lumber, provisions, &c., are all carried up, and the
ore is all brought down, by means of one of the in
genious wire- tramways now becoming common in
238 CAMP AND CABIN.
Colorado. How the mine was ever discovered, I can
not say : somebody must have " lit on it."
The summit is close before us now, glistening with
patches of snow. On the neck between Gray and
Irwin, there is a regular turnover collar of a drift.
It looks small enough here ; but you couldn t pass it
without a twenty-foot tunnel in the snow. There s
not much life up here, scarcely even a mountain-
goat or a snow-quail for a six-hundred-dollar break
fast. Bill, here, will tell you that story: he hasn t
opened his mouth the whole way.
" Well, tain t much of a story ; but it gives the
Georgetown boys the deadwood on Dick Irwin and
me, and they hain t let up on us yet, nor wont s long s
they kin git anybody to swop lies with em. How
ever, this yer s no lie. Ye see Dick and me that
thar mountain was named after Dick ; that is to say,
these two was ary one Irwin s Peak, and whichary
wasn t Irwin s was Gray s, and nobody knov?ed. Gray,
he was a great weed-sharp down East somewhar, and
he gin so many names to this yer bunch-grass and
stuff, that they thought they d gin his name to the
highest peak, though I don t see it myself. So these
scientific fellers kept a-comin up here, and a-meas-
urin , and they couldn t agree. Some on em biled
water on the top, and some on em friz mercury ; but
they couldn t agree. So at last a lot on em fresh
from college camped out all night right on the top
of Gray s, and took observations, you bet ! every five
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK. 239
minutes ; and when they come down there wasn t no
manner of doubt in their minds but what Gray s was
the highest peak in the whole fandango. So Dick he
come down like a gentleman, and took the next best
himself. Well, Dick and me was out huntin , and
looking up blossom-quartz around yeiy and we raised
one of these yer white snow-quails, and I found the
nest with six eggs into it. So says I to Dick, You jest
hold on, an we ll have a reg lar Delmonico sockdolo-
ger. And we fried them there eggs, and eat em ; and
Dick said, Bust his crust, if he d ever had a break
fast set so comfortable-like as that one did. * All we
want, says Dick, is a drop of whisky to wash it down.
So we went down to Bakerville, and was a-settin round
in the bar-room as sociable as you please, spittin on
the stove, when Dick happened to mention them snow r -
quails eggs; and a long, slab-sided, scientific son of
a gun, with spectacles, riz up like a derrick, and says
he, l My friend, the Smithsonian Institution has of
fered a reward of one hundred dollars for a single
specimen of the snow-quail s egg. Most anybody
would V stopped to swear, and have a drink on that ;
but it never was nothin but an idee and a start with
Dick Irwin. When he thought of a thing, he was
goin to do it sure ; and this time he made just two
jumps out of doors, and moseyed up the mountain,
with his rifle. Afore we saw him agin, he had been
away down on the Grand, and all through the Snowy
and the Wasatch. Then we heerd on him in the
240 CAMP AND CABIN.
Middle Park; and one day he walked over the range,
and into the bar-room at Bakerville, as if nothin had
happened; and says he, Boys, that six-hundred-dol
lar breakfast has used up the last snow-quail s egg in
the whole dam Rockies. What 41 ye take?
Not so well told, Bill, as when first you reeled it off
to me under the shadow of McClellan. However,
this expurgated version, though not so good for your
reputation as a raconteur, is doubtless better for your
We have reclined on a sunny bit of grass, letting
our horses nibble their luncheon while we disposed
of our own, Bill s employment as a story-teller serv
ing to keep him down to a fair share of the sand
wiches and sardines. Now let us scale the final peak.
It looks but a -short distance, yet it is a good hour s
work. You need not walk, however : the horses are
used to it.
The peak seems to be formed of loose fragments
of rock, piled up in confusion How did they get
here? They didn t get here: they were here always.
This heap of stones is the effect of ages of frost and
snow and wind upon the once solid rock. At our
left, as we ascend, stands a solitary crag, which has
not yet quite yielded, nor toppled into ruins, but is
seamed and cracked through and through.
No extensive prospect from here. It is one of the
advantages of this route, that we mount gradually,
and without great trouble, yet do not have the final
THE ASCENT OF GEAY S PEAK. 241
glory of the view from the summit wasted upon us
in driblets by the way. McClellan and Gray and
Irwin still rise solidly between us and the land of
promise, into which we shall presently gaze. There
are snow-drifts here and there, but not enough to
trouble us. The trail goes back and forward, wind
ing sharply among the rocks. We have not yet risen
above all life. There are tracks of light-footed ani
mals in the snow ; and yonder, as I live! there is one
more mine. Yes, the Atlantic and Pacific Lode sits
astride the backbone of the continent; and the en
thusiastic discoverer, sure of having found at last the
argentiferous heart of the continent, has put down
a shaft exactly on the divide. Pity that a location
so admirable for drainage and ventilation should have
to be abandoned " for lack of capital " ! We must wait
for the C. P. to come this way.
But, the last turn and the last snowdrift being
passed, we stand at last on the summit of Gray s Peak.
It is a place for deep breaths of delight and admira
tion, but not for words, at least not until, the first
ecstasy of silence being passed, the inevitable member
of the party who carries the opera-glass, and who
knows all the geography of the scene, begins to dis
pense his information. Never mind him. He is a
good fellow ; but he has been here before, and you
have not. Hear what he has to say, and then sit on a
rock beyond ear-shot, and look for yourself.
Southward, the crowding summits of the range,
CAMP AND CABIN.
intersected by the deep canons of the Platte and its
tributaries, and, beyond all, Pike s Peak, superb in
Westward, sweeping the circle from the south, the
South and Middle Parks, pieces of the plains, caught
and half-lifted by the mountains, in the midst of
which their broad, fair surfaces lie imbosomed ; the
dark, tiny caiions of the Blue and other streams, that
hasten to join the great south-western system of.
waters. One of them is full of clinging smoke ; the
woods are a-fire for miles. Far beyond the Parks is
the Snowy Range, and the lofty peak of Mount Lin
coln. Down in this labyrinth of glades, cliffs, and
gorges, emerald lakes and rushing streams, there are
human beings living and laboring, digging and slui
cing, blasting and crushing, scalping or being scalped
for the Arraphoes make a dash at the Utes or the
whites, now and then, in the Middle Park but we
reck nothing of it all. We might imagine ourselves
to be the first who were looking on the fair expanse,
but for this piece of " The New -York Herald," and
this old sardine-box, left by a former party, and the
minute cluster of dots in one of those far canons,
which closer inspection reveals to be the town of
Northward, infinite variety of battlements, spires,
domes, and whatever other thing you choose to name,
by way of dwarfing the sublimity you cannot de
scribe; innumerable vistas -and half-revelations; Ir-
THE ASCENT OF GRAY S PEAK. 243
win s Peak in the foreground, looming up on a level
with us, so near, apparently, that one might throw a
stone to its lone flagstaff and skeleton of a tent ;
Long s Peak closing the view in the distance, brown
Eastward, another turn of the marvelous kaleido
scope, and a new combination of the endless beauties
of outline, tint, and shade ; and beyond all ending
and blending in the illimitable sky, the vast ocean of
Upward, the empty heavens, speaking unutterable
things ; and everywhere the thin, pure, sweet moun
tain-air, which one rather drinks than breathes, feel
ing the while that intoxicating combination of in
spiring stimulus and delicious languor which nothing
It takes a good while to go up to Gray s Peak ; but
mark how short a tale shall put you down. A climb
for descending the steep summit, leading the horses,
a brisk ride, with gallops interspersed, down the val
ley, through deepening twilight and at last, beneath
the glamour of a full white moon Georgetown
Denver, C. P. R. R.
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voted exclusively to the uses of Odd Fellows
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urday nights of each week, it shall be the
duty of the Librarian to open the Library
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vided by Rule 3. the cost for replacing such
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