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´╗┐Title: Maw's Vacation - The Story of a Human Being in the Yellowstone
Author: Hough, Emerson, 1857-1923
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                             MAW'S VACATION


                       THE STORY OF A HUMAN BEING

                                _in the_

                               YELLOWSTONE

                                  _by_

                              EMERSON HOUGH

      AUTHOR OF: The Sagebrusher, Hearts Desire, The Covered Wagon,
                        Curly of the Range, etc.



                               ILLUSTRATED



                               SAINT PAUL
                         J. E. HAYNES, Publisher
                                  1921



                             COPYRIGHT 1920
                      THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY


                             COPYRIGHT 1921
                             EMERSON HOUGH

[Illustration: "Maw"]



Times has changed, says Maw to herself, says she. Things ain't like what
they used to be. Time was when I worked from sunup to sundown, and we
didn't have no daylight-saving contraptions on the old clock, neither.
The girls was too little then, and I done all the work myself--cooking,
sweeping, washing and ironing, suchlike. I never got to church Sundays
because I had to stay home and get the Sunday dinner. Like enough they'd
bring the preacher home to dinner. You got to watch chicken--it won't
cook itself. Weekdays was one like another, and except for shoveling
snow and carrying more coal I never knew when summer quit and winter
come. There was no movies them days--a theater might come twice a
winter, or sometimes a temperance lecturer that showed a picture of the
inside of a drunkard's stomach, all redlike and awful. We didn't have
much other entertainment. Of course we had church sociables now and
then, or a surprise party on someone. Either way, the fun no more than
paid for the extra cooking. I never seen nothing or went nowhere, and if
when I was down town after the groceries I'd 'a' stepped into the drug
store and bought me a lemonade--and they didn't have no nut sundaes
then--they'd of had me up before the church for frivolous conduct.

Of course Paw kicks about the crops and prices, but I've been living
with Paw forty years, and I dunno as I can remember a time when he
didn't kick. He kicks now on the wages he pays these city boys that come
out to farm; says they're no good at all. But somehow or other, things
gets raised. I notice the last few years we somehow have had more
clothes and things, and more money in the bank. When Paw bought the
automobile he didn't ask the minister if it was right, and he didn't
have to ask the bank for a consent, neither. Cynthy's back from
college, and it's all paid for somehow. Jimmy's in a mail-order store
in Chicago. I've got a girl to help me that calls herself a maid, which
is all right enough, though we used to call Judge Harmsworth's help a
girl and let it go at that, law me! My other girls, Hattie and Roweny,
are big enough to help a lot, and Paw reasons with them considerable
about it. I've always been so used to work that I think I can do it
better myself. I always like to do for my children.

But Paw, ever since I married him, has been one of those energetics.
They call him an aggressive business man. Some of them call him a
dominant man, because of his whiskers, though he knows well enough about
how scared of him I am. Only time I ever was scared of Paw was when he
got the car. I thought he would break his fool neck and kill Roweny,
that had clim in with him. He did break down the fence in front of the
house and run over the flower beds and all.



The Park-Bound Throng of Maws


But this summer we allowed we all would get in the car and take a big
trip out West--go right into some of the parks, if nothing happened.

We borrowed our tent from the Hickory Bend Outing Club that Paw belongs
to back home. The poles go along the fenders and stick out a good way
behind. I could always cook without a stove, from experience at picnics
when I was younger. The dishes goes in a box. Paw nailed a rack on top
of the fenders, and we carry a lot of stuff that way. Cynthy always has
her suitcase on the outside because it's the newest one. The other girls
set on the bedding on the rear seat, and I ride in front with Paw. We
mostly wear overalls.

Yes, times has changed, says Maw.

As a dispassionate observer in one of our national parks, expressing the
belief in modern speech, I'll say they have. I have met Maw this
summer, ninety thousand of her, concentrated on a piece of mountain
scenery about fifty miles square--Maw on her first vacation in a life of
sixty years. Dear old Maw!

Ninety thousand replicas of Maw cause the rest of us to eat copiously of
alkaline dust and to shiver each time we approach a turn on the roads of
Yellowstone Park, which were laid out on a curling iron. You cannot
escape seeing Paw and Maw, and Cynthy in her pants, and Hattie and
Roweny in overalls and putties. I have seen their camp fire rising on
every remaining spot of grass on all that busy fifty miles. I have
photographed Maw and Cynthy and the other girls, and Cynthy has
photographed me because I looked funny. Bless them all, the whole ninety
thousand of them--I would not have missed them on their vacation this
summer for all the world. They are, I suppose, what we call the new
people of America, who never have been out like this before. They've
been at home. Maw has been getting the Sunday dinner. Paw has been
plowing, paying the taxes which this Government has spent for him. But
now Paw pays income tax also; and both he and Maw construe this fact to
mean that they can at last read their title clear to a rest, and a car,
and a vacation. So they have swung out from the lane at last, after
forty years of work, and on to the roads that lead to the
transcontinental highway. They have crossed the prairies and come up
into the foothills--the price of gas increasing day by day, and Paw
kicking but paying cash--and so they have at last arrived among the
great mountains of which Maw has dreamed all her long life of cooking
and washing and ironing.



Studies in Mountain Pants


I shall not inquire by what miracle of grace Paw has learned to find his
way about on these curling-iron mountain roads. I am content to eat a
barrel of dust a day rather than miss the sight of Maw, placid and
bespectacled, on the front seat of the flivver. Without her the mountain
roads would never be the same for me, and my own vacation would be
spoiled. Frankly, I am in love with Maw; and as for Cynthy in her
pants----

Times has changed. Maw also wears pants today. She says that they are
convenienter when she sits down round on the grass. Sometimes her pants
are fastened round the ankles with large and shiny safety pins,
apparently saved from the time when Jimmy was a baby. Sometimes they
hang straight down _au naturel_, and sometimes they stop at the knee--in
which case, as Maw's _au naturel_ is disposed to adipose--they make a
startling adjunct to the mountain scenery. But, bless her heart, Maw
doesn't care! She is on her way and on her vacation, the first in all
her life. There rest on her soul the content and poise which her own
square and self-respecting mind tells her are due her after forty years
of labor, including the Lord's Days thereof. I call Maw's vacation her
Lord's Day. It ought to be held a sacred thing by all who tour our
national parks, where Maw is gregariously accumulated in these days. I
used to own this park, you and I did. It's Maw's park now. Forty years
of hard work!

Has she earned a vacation? I'll say she has. Is she taking it? I'll say
she is.

Maw has company in the park--not always just the company she or I would
select, were it left to us. Some of these do not go out by motor car. Of
course Abe Klinghammer, of the Plasterers' Union, Local Number Four,
being rich, goes out by rail on a round trip. He can go to the tents
and log cottages of the Camps Company. He does not kick any more than
Maw kicks. To tell the truth, in spite of the front he throws, Abe is a
little bit scared at all this sudden splendor in his life. He is a
little uneasy about how to act, how to seem careless about it, as though
he had been used to it all his life. Abe takes it out in neckties.
Having bought a swell one of four colors and inserted a large cameo in
it, he loses his nerve and begins to doubt whether he is getting by. You
will always see Abe looking at your necktie.

And there is Benjamin D. O'Cleave of New York--with a flourish under it
on the register. He and his wife take it out in diamonds. You would
never see one of the O'Cleave family at a roadside camp fire such as
that where Maw fries the trout and Rowena toasts the bread on a fork.
The original O'Cleave came over in the Mayflower, as I am informed--but,
without question in my mind, came steerage. You will find Mr. O'Cleave
in the swellest hotel, in the highest-priced room. He is first in war,
first in peace, and first in the dining room.

Mr. O'Cleave pays a plenty a head for all his family, for rooms with
bath and meals. The hotel company would gladly charge him more, and Mr.
O'Cleave gladly would pay more. He confides to the hotel clerk--who is a
Y. M. C. A. secretary back East--that he should not care if it was even
fifty dollars a day, he could pay it. But, if so, he would already want
for his money more service, which he waits five hours and not enough
cars to get him over to see the Giantess Geyser play, which the Giantess
maybe didn't play again for eight days, and should a business man and
taxpayer wait eight days because of not cars enough by a hotel, which is
the only place a man has to go with his family? Is it reasonable?



Maw in War Paint


The highly specialized hotel clerk admits that it is not reasonable,
that nothing is reasonable, that he has spoken to the Giantess a dozen
times about her irregular habits; but what can he do? "I would gladly
charge you one hundred dollars a day, Mr. O'Cleave, if I had the consent
of the Interior Department. It isn't my fault."

I wish I had a movie of the Y. M. C. A. hotel clerk when he is off duty
at the desk. I wonder if his faith upholds him when he recalls the
threat of Benjamin D. O'Cleave to go to Europe next year. Ah, well, even
if he does, Maw will remain.

I know that next year I shall again see Maw leaning against a big pine,
as she sits upon the ground drinking real handmade coffee of her own
from a tin cup with the handle cut so it will nest down in the box.
Maw's meals do not cost her four bits a throw, because they brought
things along. Paw catches a trout sometimes on the cane pole that hangs
alongside the car; not always, but sometimes, he catches one. And Maw,
once she had conquered the notion that you ought to skin a trout the way
you do a bullhead back in Ioway, took to cooking trout naturally; and
her trout, with pancakes and sirup, to my notion beat anything the hotel
chef in the best hotel can do. Maw does not worry about a room with
bath, though sometimes when the rain comes through the old wall tent she
gets both. The pink and green war paint which you sometimes see beneath
Maw's specs when you meet her on the road represents only the mark of
the bedquilts, where the colors were not too proud to run.

Maw finds it wonderful in these mountains. I know she does, because she
has never yet told me so. Maw throws no fits. But many a time I have
seen her sitting, in the late afternoon, her hands, in the first
idleness they have known in all her life, lying in her ample lap, her
faded eyes quietly gazing through her steel-bowed far-lookers at the
vast pictures across some valley she has found. It is her first valley
of dreams, her first valley of rest and peace and quiet. The lights on
these hills are such as she did not see in Ioway, or even in Nebraska,
when she went there once, time Mary's baby was born. The clouds are so
strange to Maw, their upturned edges so very white against the black
body of their over-color. And the rains that come, with hail--but here
you don't need worry, for there are no crops for the hail to spoil. And
sometimes in the afternoon, never during the splendor of the mellow
morning such as Maw never before has seen, comes the lightning and rips
the counterpane of clouds to let the sun shine through.

I know Maw loves it all, because she never has told me so. She is very
shy about her new world in this new day. She wouldn't like to talk
about it. We never do like to talk about it, once we really have looked
out across our valley of dreams.

You can't fail to like Hattie and Rowena and Cynthy. Often I walk with
Cynthy and her Vassarrority on the Angel Terrace, when the moon is up,
when it is all white, and Cynthy is almost the only angel left there.
Such a moon as the Interior Department does provide for the summer here!
I defy any Secretary of any other Department--War, Navy, Commerce, Labor
or anything--to produce any such moon as this at six dollars and fifty
cents a day with bath; or four dollars and fifty cents a day with two
towels; or four bits a day at Maw's camp on the Madison. So though I
know Cynthy would prefer the young park ranger--who really is the son of
a leading banker in Indianapolis--to explain the algae and the Algys, I
do the best I can at my age of life with Cynthy.

Rowena, the younger, seventeen now, who wears hers with spirals, tells
me that Cynthy keeps a diary, because she herself found it in the tool
box. "And once," says Rowena to me, "Cynthy, after coming into camp from
a walk through the moonlit pines, wrote in her diary: 'August 12,
11 p. m. Trout for supper. Walked with ---- toward the Hymen Terrace, just
beyond Jupiter Hill, I think it is called. The moon wonderful what woman
is there who has not at some time in her life longed to be swept off her
feet by some Strong Man!'"

I copy this as Rowena did, punctuation and all. Rowena has not yet gone
to Vassar.

Cynthy is the one who thinks the family ought to have a six-cylinder car
next year, with seats that lie back, and air mattresses. Maw does not
agree with her, and says that four cylinders are plenty hard enough for
Paw to keep clean. By what marvel Cynthy is always so stunning; and
Hattie so nurselike in denim and white; and Rowena always so neat in
hers with spirals, which she bought ready made at the store for seven
dollars and fifty-two cents--I cannot say; but when I see these marvels
I renew my faith in my country and its people, even though I do wish
that Paw would pause at some geyser and have a Sunday shave. He says he
forgot his razor and left it home.



In the Grip of the Law


Speaking of room with bath, Maw solved the ablutionary problem for
herself the other day at Old Faithful Ranger Station. The young men who
make up the ranger force there have built a simple shanty over the
river's brim, which they use as their own bathhouse. As there is no
sentinel stationed there Maw thought it was public like everything else.
She told me about it later.

"I went in," said she, "and seen what it was. There was a long tub and a
tin pail. There was a trapdoor in the floor that was right over the
river. I reached down and drew up a pail of water, and it was right
cold. Then I seen a turn faucet, end of a pipe that stuck out over the
tub. It brought in some right hot water that come up within six feet of
the door. It didn't take me long to figure that this was the hot-water
faucet. So there was hot and cold water both right on the spot, and I
reckon there ain't no such natural washtub as that in all Ioway. I got
me a wash that will last me a long while. There wasn't no towels, and so
I took my skirt. Now, Cynthy----"

But Cynthy was writing notes in her diary. All college girls write notes
in diaries, and sometimes they take to free verse. Of course writing in
a diary is only a form of egotism, precisely like writing on a geyser
formation. They both ought to be illegal, and one is. Maw knows all
about that. Sometimes, even now, she will tell me how she came to be
fined by the United States commissioner at Mammoth Hot Springs.

[Illustration: "So Maw, dear, old, happy, innocent Maw, knelt down with
her hatpin and wrote:"--p. 19]

You see, the geysers rattled Maw, there being so many and she loving
them all so much. One day when they were camped near the Upper Basin,
Maw was looking down in the cone of Old Faithful, just after that
Paderewski of the park had ceased playing. She told me she wanted to
see where all the suds came from. But all at once she saw beneath her
feet a white, shiny expanse of something that looked like chalk. At a
sudden impulse she drew a hatpin from her hair and knelt down on the
geyser cone--not reflecting how long and slow had been its growth.

For the first time a feeling of identity came to Maw. She never had been
anybody all her life, even to herself, before this moment on her
vacation. But now she had seen the mountains and the sky, and had
oriented herself as one of the owners of this park. So Maw, dear, old,
happy, innocent Maw, knelt down with her hatpin and wrote: Margaret D.
Hanaford, Glasgow, Iowa.

She was looking at her handiwork and allowing she could have done it
better, when she felt a touch on her shoulder, and looked up into the
stern young face, the narrow blond mustache, of the ranger from
Indianapolis. The ranger was in the Engineers of the A. E. F. When Maw
saw him she was frightened, she didn't know why.

"Madam," said the ranger, "are you Margaret D. Hanaford?"

"That's me," answered Maw; "I don't deny it."

"Did you write that on the formation?"

Maw could not tell a lie any more than George Washington when caught, so
she confessed on the spot.

"Then you are under arrest! Don't you know it's against the regulations
to deface any natural object in the park? I'll have to telephone in the
number of your car. You must see the commissioner before you leave the
park."

"Me arrested?" exclaimed Maw in sudden consternation. "What'll that man
do to me?"

"He'll fine you ten dollars and costs. If you had written it a little
bit larger it would have been twenty-five dollars and costs. Now get
down and rub it out before it sets, and do it quick, before the geyser
plays again."

And so Maw got down on her knees and rubbed out her first feeling of
identity. And the commissioner fined her ten dollars and costs in due
time--for Maw was honest as the day and didn't try to evade the
punishment that she thought was hers.

"I ought to have knew better," she said "me, a woman of my years. I
don't begretch the money, and I think the young man was right, and so
was the judge, and I'll never do it again. The commissioner said that I
looked like a woman of sense. I always did have sense before. I think it
must be these mountains, or the moon, or something. I never felt that
way before."

It was this young man who walked down to Maw's camp to take her number.
It was there that he met Cynthy, and I am inclined to think that she
took his number at the time. Later on I often saw them walking together,
past the great log hotel with its jazz architecture, and beyond the
fringe of pine that separates the camp trippers from the O'Cleaves, who
live in the hotels. The young ranger was contrite about arresting Maw,
but that latter was the first to exonerate him.

"You only done right," said she. "I done what I knew was wrong. Now,
Hattie, and you, Roweny, don't you let this spoil your trip none at all.
It's once your Maw has allowed herself the privilege of being an old
fool, the first time in her life. I dunno but it was worth ten dollars,
at that."

And so I suppose we should let Cynthy and the young ranger go out into
the moonshine to learn how the algae grow, of how many different colors.
Consider the algae of the geysers, how they grow. Solomon in all his
glory had nothing on the algae; and the Queen of Sheba nothing on
Cynthy.

[Illustration: "--and The Queen of Sheba had nothing on Cynthy."--p.
22.]

Sometimes, even yet, Maw and I talk about the time she was fined ten
dollars for writing her name. "It might have been worse," said she to
me. "When we was coming through some place a ways back we heard about a
man there that was sentenced to be hung after he had been tried several
times. His friends done what they could with the governor, but it didn't
come to nothing. So after a while his lawyer come in the jail, and he
says: 'Bill, I can't do nothing more for you. On next Monday morning at
six o'clock you've got to be hung by the neck until you're dead, and may
God have mercy on your soul.' 'Well, all I can say,' says Bill, 'that's
a fine way to begin the week, ain't it now?'"

The time she wrote her name upon the geyser will always remain the great
event in Maw's life. When she makes down her bedquilt bed in the pine
woods, from which she can hear the music of the hotel orchestra when the
nocturnal dance has begun, and can see the searchlight playing on the
towering pillar of Old Faithful, once more in its twenty-four daily
essays from the bowels of the mysterious earth shooting up into the
mysterious blackness of the night sky, Maw on her hands and knees says
to herself: "I'm glad my name ain't on that thing. It was too little to
go with that, even if for a minute I felt like somebody."

Speaking of the midnight and the music, sometimes I go over to the hotel
to tread a measure with Stella O'Cleave, able for a moment to forget
Stella's father in the opulent beauty of Stella herself. Her mother is
what is called a fine figure of a woman, and so will Stella be some day.
Sometimes, when we have left the dance floor to sit along the rail where
the yellow cars will line up next morning to sweep Stella away within a
day after she and her putties have come into my young life, I may say
that I find Stella O'Cleave not difficult to look upon. I always feel a
sense of Oriental luxury, as though I had bought a new rug, when Stella
turns on me the slumberous midnight of her eyes. I am enamored of the
piled black shadows of Stella's hair, even as displayed in the somewhat
extreme cootie garages which, in the vernacular of the A. E. F.,
indicate the presence of her ears. I admire the long sure lines which
her evidently expensive New York tailor has given to hers; they are
among the best I have seen in the park. I could wish that the heels on
Stella's French shoes were less than five inches high. I could wish that
she did not wrap her putties, one from the inside out, and the other
from the outside in. But these are details. The splendor of her eyes,
the ripe redness of her lips, the softness of her voice, combined, have
disposed me to forgive her all.

"There are times," sighed Stella that evening, beneath the moon, as we
sat against the log rail and listened to the jazz, "out here in these
mountains, when I feel as though I were a wild creature, like these
others."

"My dear," said I, "I can believe you. Your putties do look wild."

"Listen," said she to me. "You do not get me."

The sob of the saxophone came through the window near by, the froufrou
of the dancers made a soft susurration faintly audible. I looked into
Stella's dark eyes, at her clouded brow.

"Come again, loved one," said I to her.

"What I mean to say," she resumed, "is that there are times when I feel
as though I did not care what I did or what became of me out here."

My hand fell upon her slender fingers as they lay twitching in the
twilight.

"Stella," I exclaimed, "lit-tel one, if that is the way you really
feel--or the way really you feel--or really the way you feel--why don't
you go down to Jackson's Hole and try a congressional lunch?"



Enough for Five More


The spruce trees rustled amid their umbrageous boughs. The sob of the
saxophone still came through the window. I saw Stella tremble through
all her tall young body. A tear fell upon the floor and rebounded
against one of the rustic posts.

"No, No!" said she in sudden contrition, burying her face in both her
shapely hands. "Say anything but that! I did not mean me hasty words. My
uncle is a congressman, and he has told me all."

A silence fell between us. The sob of the saxophone, still doing jazz,
came through the window. Once more I recalled the classic story--no
doubt you know it well. A musician one evening passed a hat among the
dancers, after a number had been concluded.

"Please, sir," said he to each, "would you give fifty cents to bury a
saxophone player?" Then out spoke one jovial guest, to the clink of his
accompanying coin: "Here's three dollars, friend. Bury six saxophone
players!"

Absent-mindedly recalling this story I reached out my hand with a
five-dollar bill in it, as I saw a quiet-looking gentleman passing by
with a hat in his hand.

"Bury ten saxophone players," I hissed through my set lips. He turned to
me mildly.

"Excuse me sir," said he, "I am not an undertaker. I am only the
Secretary of the Interior."

Of course one will make mistakes. Still, under our form of government
methinks the Secretary of the Interior really is responsible for the
existence of saxophone players within the limits of the park.

In common with Maw and others, I realized that in many ways the park
might be better. It might be far more practicably administered. This
morning I met a procession of fifty women, all in overalls, who all
looked precisely alike. Maw was at their head.

"We're going over to the store to get a loaf of bread," said she, "and a
picture of Old Faithful Geyser and a burnt-leather pillow. And lookit
here, mister, here is a book I bought for Roweny to read. I can stand
for most of it. But here it says that the geysers is run by hot water,
and when they freeze up in the winter the men that live in the park cut
the ice and use it for foot warmers, it's so hot. That might be true,
and then again it might not. If it ain't, why should they try to fool
the people?"

I referred Maw to the superintendent of the park, with the explanation
that he has full control over all the natural objects, and that if any
geyser proves guilty of obnoxious conduct he is empowered to eject it.

"I dunno but what that would be the best way to do," said she. "If these
places ain't fit to walk on, summer or winter neither one, something
ought to be done about it.

"But lookit here," she went on, "if you want to see people busy, come
down to our camp, some sundown. There ain't that many mosquitoes in all
Ioway, and they call this place a national playground. It ain't no such
place. And yet, when I go to the post office, store, or the
superintendent's office, or the head clerk's house, or the curio store
to get some mosquito dope to rub on myself, they ain't got no mosquito
dope; but for four dollars you can buy a lovely leather pillow with
'Mother' on it. What do I want with a leather pillow with 'Mother' on it
when mosquitoes are biting; or a picture of an Indian on one side of a
sheepskin; or bead bags; or moccasins that they say are made by the
Indians? What I want is mosquito dope and bread; something practical.
When you got a bite on your elbow you don't care a durn about a card
showing a picture of Artist Point, and I am as good a Presbyterian as
anybody. I say them stores ain't practical."

Quite often when I stroll down to interview Maw and her family at their
camp I am able to obtain free expression of opinion on current matters.
The other evening Paw was hammering at something which at first looked
like a piece of stone.

"It breaks right easy," said he. "I got this piece off the Angel Cake
Terrace. Having so many in the car I have to cut down the weight. But
what I and Maw want," he said, "is a pair of them elk horns. If I can
get a good pair I allow to paint them red and black, with gold round the
lower ends. Maw and me think they'd look right good in the parlor."



Old Stanley's Story


They have visitors now and then, Paw and Maw, at their camp. The local
old-timers seem to gravitate toward them. One evening I found old man
Stanley sitting on a log and talking to them in reminiscent mood about
himself, his deeds and his dentition.

"It looks to me like a fellow could work hard enough in three months to
last him the hull year," said old man Stanley. "Just last week the camp
folks wanted me to go to work for them. I told them I wouldn't work for
nobody but the Gover'ment, and only three months in the year at that.
But they persuaded me to go to work for night watchman. I said all
right, only I had to go down to Gardiner and get my teeth fixed. They
asked me why I didn't go to Livingston. I told them some of my friends
down to Gardiner had been pulling my teeth for me for six or eight
years, them having a good pair of forceps. Of course they break some,
but take it one way with the other, them uppers of mine get along right
well. So I goes down to them friends last week, and had some more teeth
pulled. They mostly get nearly all the pieces out. I've got four teeth
left now, and that's enough for anybody. I sort of wish they'd track a
little better; but still, four teeth is enough for any reasonable man."

Maw spoke to me in an aside: "I wisht I could believe everything I see
and hear," said she, _sotto voce_. "Now, here, this man and old Tom
Newcomb, they both tell me that them and old John Yancey, which is dead
now, was here so long ago they saw the water turned into Yellowstone
River. Of course it may be true; but then again, sometimes I doubt the
things I hear."

"The safest thing you could do is to doubt them geysers," interrupted
her husband, who overheard her. "I was walking round on them just the
other day, right where signs said 'Dangerous.' It didn't seem to me
there was no danger at all, for nothing was happening. But one of them
rangers come up to me and asked if I didn't see the sign. 'That's all
right, brother,' says I. 'I've tried this place and it's all right.' And
right then she went off."

"And you should have seen Paw come down off from there," commented his
spouse. "I didn't know he could run that fast, his time of life."

"If they let me have my gun," said Paw, uncrossing one leg from the
other, "I could mighty soon get me a pair of elk horns for myself. But
what can a fellow do when they tie his gun up, time he comes in the
park?"

"You ain't maybe noticed that hole in the back end of our car,"
explained Maw to me, pointing to an aperture in the curtain which looked
as though a cat had been thrown through it with claws extended. "Tell
him about it Paw."



Spontaneous Eruption


"Well, I dunno as it's much to tell," said that gentleman, somewhat
crestfallen. "This here old musket of mine is the hardest shooting gun
in our country. I've kilt me a goose with it many a time, at a hundred
yards. She's a Harper's Ferry musket that done good service in the Civil
War. She's been hanging in my room, loaded, for three or four years, I
reckon, and when I told the ranger man, coming in, that she was loaded
he says: 'You can't take no loaded gun through the park. We'll have to
shoot her off before you can go in the park.' So we took old Suse round
behind the house, and snaps six or eight caps on her, but she didn't go
off. Finally the ranger allowed that that gun was perfectly safe, and
they let me bring her on in, of course, having wired up the working end.

"I think old Suse must have got some sort of examples from these
geysers. I just throwed her in back of the car, on top of the bed
clothes, pointing back behind where the girls was setting. All at once,
several hours later, without no warning, she just erupted. There's
something eruptious in the air up here I guess."

"And they do the funniest things," nodded Maw. "I was saying I thought
this park wasn't practical, but some ways I believe it is. For instance,
they told me about how when they was making the new road from the Lake
Hotel over to the Canyon the engineer run the line in the winter time,
and it run right over on top a grave, where a man was buried. There was
a headstone there, but the snow was so deep the engineer didn't see it.
Come spring, the road crew graded the road right through, grave and all.
When the superintendent heard of that he come down and complained about
it.

"'Now,' says he, 'you've gone built that expensive road right over that
feller, and we've got to take him up and move him.' There was an Irish
foreman that had run the road crew, and he reasons thoughtful for a
while, and then he says to the superintendent, says he: 'Why can't we
just move the headstone and leave him where he's at?' So they done that,
and everybody is perfectly contented, his widow and all. What I don't
see is why don't the yellow cars stop there and point out that for a
point of interest? But they don't. I believe I'll speak to the
superintendent about that."

As to the latter personage mentioned by my friends, one must search far
to find a more long-suffering man. As a boy the superintendent was wild,
and during a moment of unrestraint he slew his Sabbath-school teacher
while yet a youth. The judge, in sentencing him, said that hanging would
not be severe enough, so he condemned him to a life as superintendent of
a national park--a sentence barely constitutional.

The park superintendent is a study in natural history. During the open
season on superintendents, some three months in duration, he does not
sleep at all. For one month after the first snowfall he digs a hole
beneath a rock, somewhere above timberline, and falls into a torpor,
using no food for thirty days. Then he goes to Washington to meet the
Director of Parks, after which he gets no more sleep until next fall. It
is this perpetual insomnia which gives a park superintendent his haunted
look. He knows he ought not to have killed his teacher, so he suffers in
silence.

When the superintendent comes down to his office in the morning Maw is
sitting on the front steps, sixty thousand of her. She has not got that
letter with the money in it yet; and it's such things as that which
keeps people away from the parks. And what has become of her dog? He was
right in the car last night and he never harmed nobody in his life and
wouldn't bite nobody's bears if left alone. And what can folks do when
it rains this way and the roads so slippy? And about that man on the
truck that sassed us the other day? And about the price of gas--how can
folks afford it even if they only need two gallons to get to the
railroad? And if I couldn't make better soup than they serve at the
camps I'd resign from the church. And how far is it to Norris Geyser
Basin and why do they call it a basin and who was Mr. Norris and do they
name all the things after people and why not name something after
Congressman Smith or the editor of some Montana paper and what's the
reason people have to pay to ride in the parks anyways and why can't we
bottle Apollinaris Spring and would some salts help the Iron Spring and
what makes the pelican's mouth so funny that way and do they eat fish
and is there any swans on Swan Lake Flats and which way is the garage
and is there church on Sundays and who preaches and why don't they have
a Presbyterian and is that map up to date and are you a married man and
how many people does it take to run the park and how much do the hotels
make and why is the owner of the camps always in such a hurry to get
away when you want to talk with him and who is the man who drives the
sprinkler wagon with specs and can you get pictures cheaper if you take
say a dozen and why can't everybody sell pictures and run hotels--we
could take them right with our Kapoks anyways--and is there a place
where you can get some writing paper and an envelope and do you write
all your own letters yourself but of course how could a stenographer
stand the altitude? Why, I get out of breath sometimes.



His Busy Day


I think Maw, sixty thousand of her, does sometimes get out of breath,
but not often and not for long. The superintendent, contrite because of
his past, is patient when he replies.

"Dear madam," he begins, the tips of his fingers together as he sits
back in his chair, "your inquiry regarding this national park is noted,
and in reply I beg to state that I will answer all your questions after
I have told the rangers where to let the hotels cut wood and where to
run their milk herd and how to feed the hay crews and where to send the
road crews and where to have the gravel crews sleep and where to get
four more good trucks and two more garage men and a steno and a new man
on the files and look after the Appropriations Committee and write my
annual report to the Secretary of the Interior and my weekly report to
the Director of the Parks and my daily report for the records and my
personal correspondence and see where the automobile blanks all have
gone and get the daily total of visitors classified and find a new site
for a camp and lay out twelve miles of new road and have the garbage
moved and get the elk counted again and the antelope estimated and stop
the sale of elk teeth and investigate the reasons why the bears don't
come in and look at a sick lady at the Fountain and wire the Shriners
that I will meet them at the train and write Congressman Jones that his
trip is all arranged for and pick out a camp site for the director's
Chicago friends and make my daily drive of five hundred miles round the
park to see if they haven't carried off the mountains and tell the
United States commissioner to soak that party who wrote six names on the
Castle Geyser and get in oats for the road teams and take up the
topographic maps with the U. S. engineers and send some photos to twelve
magazines and arrange for the last movie man to photograph the bears
and see about some colored prints of Old Faithful and have the bridal
chambers of the hotel renovated for the party of New York editors and
get a new collar for my wife's dog, and explain why there are so many
mosquitoes this year even under a Republican Administration--and a lot
more things that are on the daily tickler pad. Then I have to keep my
personal books and write my longhand letters until after midnight and
read up some more of the geology of the park and the times of
intermission for the geysers and the altitudes of all the peaks and
learn the personal names of all the geysers and woodchucks and----"

"That man wasn't right polite to me," said Maw in commenting upon some
of this. "He told me he was busy. I'd like to know what he's got to do,
just setting round."

Myself, I sometimes think the punishment of the superintendent is almost
too severe. He is obliged, for instance, to know everything in the
world that everyone else in the world does not know. He has pictures and
exact measurements of all the game animals in the park, all the flowers,
knows all the colors of the Grand Canyon and the location of every
sprinkling hose in fifty square miles. I have never been able to ask him
any questions that he cannot answer--except perhaps my favorite
question: "Why do they have this curio junk in all the park
stores--moccasins, leather Indian heads, and all that sort of thing?" He
sobbed when I asked him that, but I thought I could hear some muttered
word about there being a popular demand. As for me, I hold with Maw
that, if a person is being bitten on the elbow, better a bottle of
marmalade, a loaf of bread or a bottle of mosquito dope than a pair of
beef-hide moccasins with puckered toes. In my belief a few paintings by
Mr. Thomas Moran at a cost of fifteen thousand or twenty thousand
dollars, or sets of the works of some of our more popular authors, with
flexible backs, would be far more appropriate in the curio stores.

Maw is of the opinion that most of the merchants, storekeepers and
venders of commodities west of the Mississippi River are robbers. "Not
that I mean real robbers like used to hold up the stagecoaches here in
the park," she explained. "They don't do that no more since the cars has
come--I suppose because they go so fast that it ain't convenient for
robbers no more. But in the old times, they tell me, when they run
stagecoaches in here, and didn't have no railroad in on the west side,
there used to be a regular business of holding up the stagecoaches right
over where old man Dwelley used to have his eating house for lunch.
There's a clubhouse there now, instead of his old eating house, they
say. I heard that when they wanted to buy old man Dwelley out for a club
and asked him how much he wanted, he thought a while, and then did some
counting, and then allowed that about twelve thousand dollars would be
about right. The man that was buying the place, he set down and writ a
check right then for twelve thousand dollars. But old man Dwelley didn't
take it. 'I dunno what that thing is,' says he. 'When I say twelve
thousand dollars I mean twelve thousand dollars in real money.'"



When Bozeman Was Riled


They told him he had for to wait a few days and they went over to
Livingston and got twelve thousand dollars in five-dollar bills, and
brung it to Dwelley, and told him to count it. He counted a little of
it, and then said it was all right; he'd take their word for it that
there was twelve thousand dollars there. So then he put it in a sack
where he had some beaver hides. They told me he sent it all by express
to a fur buyer in Salt Lake after a while, and told him to put it in a
bank. He had one thousand five hundred dollars saved out, so they told
me, and he put that in the bank over to Bozeman. It riled them people at
Bozeman a good deal to think that anybody not from Bozeman should have
one thousand five hundred dollars inaccessible in their town. So one day
when old man Dwelley was there they fined him one thousand five hundred
dollars for killing a elk out of season, or something. That made him
mad. Still and all, he had his twelve thousand dollars left, not
mentioning what he got for his beaver hides.

"One thing with another," continued Maw after a period of rumination,
"you can't say but what this park is a fine place. Of course there's
always a wonder in my mind where they get all the hot water for the
geysers. It looks to me like a industrial waste. If the geysers could be
used for laundries, that would be something like. Then, again, they're
all the same color. If they'd throw in some bluing now and then, or some
red or green, they'd look prettier--that'd give more variety, like. Yet
they say these geysers has been running for years and no let-up. Ain't
it funny the things you see, away from home?

[Illustration: "If the geysers could be used for laundries, that would
be something like."--Maw--p. 48]

"I like to ride along these roads up in the mountains, and look down at
the rivers. You get way up above a river and it looks like a long
washboard, down below, here in the mountains. And I'll have to say
the roads is crooked. I say to Paw: 'We're all church members except
Cynthy, which went to college, and if we go we go.' And even if we
do--why, we've all had a vacation, and I'll tell it to the world that a
vacation trip once in a lifetime is something no family ought to be
without, no matter what the preacher says about idleness. I'm strong for
vacations from this time on. Fact is, I believe Paw and me has got to
have them, though this is our first. And to think we was afraid to buy
ice cream once, except on the Fourth of July! Now, Paw goes right up to
one of them stands and buys five dollars of gasoline like it was
nothing. Times has changed, like I said. Lookit at our car now. I can
remember back--not so far, neither--when if I got a ride in a side-bar
buggy I thought I was a mighty lucky girl. And here we are, traveling
with every sort of comfort anybody could ask."

There were many appliances which Maw gradually had installed for
facilitating housekeeping in her day-to-day camps--folding beds, a
cracker-box pantry, a planed board for table, racks for groceries and
the like, all strung alongside the car, so numerous and extensive that
by the time the Hickory Bend Outing Club's great wall tent had been
added you barely could see the wheels underneath the moving mass. From
the midst of all projected the steering wheel, which Paw grasped as he
sat, with only the top of his hat visible to the naked eye. Maw rode
beside him somewhere. I never was able satisfactorily to determine where
Cynthy, Hattie and Rowena rode. Danny, the family dog, had his seat
outside on the fender, against the hood. I presume Danny's feet got hot
sometimes on the up grades, but Maw said he ought to be used to it by
now.



All Ready for Bud


On top of the load, with the stock projecting well forward, I quite
often was able to recognize old Suse, the ancient firearm of geyserlike
proclivities. Maw said she always felt more comfortable when there was a
gun round, because she never could get used to bears, no matter how
afraid they was of folks.

"When we come out here we didn't know but what we could get a shot on
the quiet at a buffalo, Paw never having killed one in his life. Plenty
people believes the same till they get here. When we was at the ranger
station we seen one Arkansas car come in with six shooting irons, and
they all made a kick about having their guns locked up. Then there was a
deputy sheriff from Arizony, with woolly pants on, and he made a holler
about them locking up his six-shooter. 'This here may cost me my life,'
said he to the ranger. 'I dunno for sure that Bud Cottrell is in this
here park, but he might be; and if I should run across him I serve
notice on you right now I'm going to bust this seal.'

"'My!' says the ranger to this Arizony man, 'you look to me like a sort
of ferocious person. Have you killed many people?'

"That sort of quieted him down. 'Well, no,' says he, 'I ain't never
killed nobody, but I've saw it did, and if I ever meet Bud Cottrell I
shore am going to bust this seal.' I ain't ever heard whether he busted
it or not."

"Funniest thing to me about this here park," commented Paw, "is that
they call me a sagebrusher and the people at the hotels dudes. And the
girls in the hotel dining rooms they call savages, though some of them
wears specs, and most of them is school-teachers, with a few
stenographers throwed in. Why they should call them people savages is
what I can't understand. And what do they mean by dude wrangling,
mister?"

I explained to Paw that this was a new industry recently sprung up in
the West, among those residents of adjacent states who take out camping
and hunting parties, or even such persons as desire to see mountain
scenery and the footprints of large game, formerly embedded in the soil
and now protected by log parapets.

"So that's what it is," nodded Maw as I gave this information. "I
suppose it's just part of the funny things that happens back here. Such
things as a person does see on a vacation! Don't it beat all? Now I
caught Hattie walking off towards the electric light last night with a
young man that had specs and leather leggins like the officers has, and
I declare if she didn't tell me he was a perfessor of geology down at
Salt Lake or Omaha. Once I give a quarter for a tip to a man that
brought me some gasoline, and I declare if I didn't find out he teaches
law in a university somewheres! Then, they tell me that the young man
who peels potatoes in the kitchen back of our camp has only one more
year to get through Princeton--whoever Princeton is. I wish he was
through now, because he sings things.

"We're making quite a stay here in the park--longer than what we allowed
we would do, Paw and me. The girls seem to be having a sort of good time
here, one thing with another. You can't leave a girl alone anywheres
here, unless she's taken in by some perfessor or ranger or guide or cook
or chauffeur or something, who comes along and carries her off to show
her the bears or Old Faithful or Inspiration Point or something. Seems
to me like we've heard them words before, too--and then there's Lovers'
Leap and the Devil's Slide. We've even got them in Ioway, where the
hills is rough.

"Set down on the log here," said Maw, "and rest yourself, and I'll build
up the fire. Ain't it fine outdoors? I declare, I let out my corsets
four inches above and below, I breathe that much deeper here in the
mountains; and the air makes you feel so fine. What was I saying?--oh,
about my knitting. You see at home, when I get my work done, I knit or
crochet or embroider. Mary's baby is a right cute little thing, and I
like to sew or knit things anyways. But Joseph said to me: 'Now, Maw!
Now you forget it; we're going to have a vacation now, with no work at
all for no one at all, and all strings off. We're just going to have one
mighty good time,' says Joseph to me. At first, having nothing to do, I
felt right strange, but I'm getting used to it now, though I do think I
could knit comfortable while setting watching the geysers spout.

"I dunno how we happened to come out so far as this--we didn't allow to
spend over two hundred dollars, but I allow we've spent over five
hundred or six hundred dollars now. The funny thing is, Paw don't seem
to care. He always was aggressive. He just driv right on West till we
got here. He said his Paw traveled across all that country in a ox team,
and he allowed he could in a automobile. So we done it, and here we are.
I don't care if we don't get home till after harvest."

Many and many a talk I had with Maw, dear old Maw, some sixty thousand
of her, this past summer. The best of all vacations is to see someone
else having a vacation who never has had a vacation before in his or her
life. The delight of Maw in this new phase of her existence has been my
main delight for many a week in the months spent, not so much in
watching geysers as in watching Maw. Sometimes I steal away from the
pleadings of the saxophone, leaving even Stella O'Cleave with the
slumberous eyes sitting alone at the log rail of Old Faithful Inn. I
want to see Maw once more, and talk with her once again about the
virtues of a vacation now and again; at least once in a lifetime spent
in work for others.

I do not always find the girls at home in the camp. For some reason they
seem of late to be out later and later of evenings. Paw has found a
crony here and there about the camps, and swaps reminiscences of this
sort or that. Sometimes I find Maw alone, sitting on the log, gazing
into her little camp fire. Once, I recall, one of the girls was at home.

"Roweny!" called out Maw suddenly. "Roweny, where are you? Come and talk
to the gentleman."

A voice replied from the other side of the car, where Rowena was sitting
on the running board. I discovered her, chin in hand, looking out into
the dark.

"I was afraid some perfessor had got her," explained Maw to me. "Come on
out, Roweny, and set by the fire. This gentleman seems sort of nice, and
he's old."

Rowena, seventeen years of age, uncrossed her long young limbs and came
out of the darkness, seating herself on the running board on our side,
where the firelight shone on her clean young features, her splendid
young figure of an American girl. She was comely enough in her spiral
putties and her tanned boots as she sat, her small round chin on the
hand whose arm was supported by a knee. Rowena appeared downcast. While
Maw was busy a moment later, I asked her why.

I think it must have been the mountain moon again; for Rowena, seventeen
years of age, once more looked gloomily out into the night.

"If I thought I could ever find a man that would understand me I believe
I would marry him!" said she, as has every young girl in her time.

"Tut, tut! Rowena!" I replied. "I believe that I understand you, simple
as I am myself, and you need not marry me at all. I understand you
perfectly. You are just a fine young girl, out on almost your first
vacation, with your Maw. It is the moon, Rowena. It is youth, Rowena,
and the air of the hills. Believe me, it will all come right when the
cook has finished his Princeton; of that I am sure.

"And Rowena," I added, "you will grow up after a while--you will grow up
to be a wholesome, useful American woman, precisely like your Maw."

"Precisely?" said Rowena, smiling.

But I saw how soft her eye was, after all, when I mentioned Maw--her
Maw, who came out of another day; who has worked so hard she is
uncomfortable now without her knitting when Old Faithful plays.

"Come, Rowena," said I, and held out my hand to her. "Let us go."

"Land sakes!" exclaimed Maw, just then emerging into the firelight of
the sagebrush camp. "I almost got a turn. One of them two bears, Teddy
and Eymogene, is always hanging round us begging for doughnuts, and here
it was standing on its hind legs and mooching its nose, and I stepped
right into it. I declare, I can't hardly get used to bears. There ain't
none in Ioway. But if Eymogene gets into my bed again tonight I declare
I'll bust her on the snoot, no matter what the park regulations is.
People has got to sleep. Not that you girls seem to be troubled about
sleeping. Where were you going?"

She spoke as Rowena and I stood hand in hand, after so brief an
acquaintance as might not elsewhere have served us, except in these
vacation hills.

"I was going," said I, "to take Rowena up past the camp and beyond the
hotel and the electric light to the curio store. I was going to get
something for Rowena to bring to you--a sort of present from a nice old
man, you know."

"As which?" said Maw.

"I was going with Rowena, Maw," said I, "to get you a present."

"As which?"

"And it shall be a leather pillow; and on it shall be the word
'Mother.'"

You see, the moon on the sage makes a strange light.

It may even enable you to see into the hearts of other people.

                     Standard Books
                         on the
                       Yellowstone

HAYNES GUIDE. The Complete Handbook of Yellowstone
Park; 1921 ed. 8 vo., 160 pp. Officially approved by
The National Park Service, Washington, D. C., and
The Yellowstone Trail Association. Illustrated, maps,
diagrams, charts. Descriptive, Historical, Geological,
and contains the Motorists' Complete Road Log; By
J. E. Haynes, B. A.                       83c postpaid

THE DISCOVERY OF YELLOWSTONE PARK. Diary of the
Expedition to the Yellowstone and Firehole Rivers
in 1870. 8 vo., board, 122 pp. Illustrated; Maps;
Drawings; By Nathaniel P. Langford, first
superintendent of the Park, who served for five years
without pay to save the Park for the American people.
                                        $1.62 postpaid

YELLOWSTONE IN JINGLETONE, a De Luxe booklet of catchy
jingles containing "Geysergrams," "Recollections of a
Barn Dog," "The Buffalo Stampede," "Paintin' the
Canyon," etc., in envelope suitable for mailing; By
C. A. Brewer.                             55c postpaid



                     _Published by_
                      J. E. HAYNES
                        ST. PAUL



    +-----------------------------------------------+
    | Transcriber's Note:                           |
    |                                               |
    | Typographical errors corrected in text:       |
    |                                               |
    | Page 30 postoffice changed to post office     |
    |                                               |
    | Page 33 overhead changed to overheard         |
    |                                               |
    | Page 49 applainces changed to appliances      |
    |                                               |
    +-----------------------------------------------+





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