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Title: The Comstock Club
Author: Goodwin, Charles Carroll
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Comstock Club" ***

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                        THE COMSTOCK CLUB.

                         BY C. C. GOODWIN


    Neither radiant angels nor magnified monsters, but just plain,
    true men.


    _Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1891, by_
    _in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C._

    TO THE

    _Salt Lake City, Utah, December 15, 1891._
























"The pioneer! Who shall fitly tell the story of his life and work?

"The soldier leads an assault; it lasts but a few minutes; he knows that
whether he lives or dies, immortality will be his reward. What wonder
that there are brave soldiers!

"But when this soldier of peace assaults the wilderness, no bugles sound
the charge; the forest, the desert, the wild beast, the savage, the
malaria, the fatigue, are the foes that lurk to ambush him, and if,
against the unequal odds, he falls, no volleys are fired above him; the
pitiless world merely sponges his name from its slate.

"Thus he blazes the trails, thus he fells the trees, thus he plants his
rude stakes, thus he faces the hardships, and whatever fate awaits him,
his self-contained soul keeps its finger on his lips, and no
lamentations are heard.

"He smooths the rugged fields, he turns the streams, and the only cheer
that is his is when he sees the grain ripen, and the flowers bloom where
before was only the frown of the wilderness. When over the trail that he
has blazed, enlightenment comes joyously, with unsoiled sandals, and
homes and temples spring up on the soil that was first broken by him,
his youth is gone, hope has been chastened into silence within him; he
realizes that he is but a back number.

"Not one in a thousand realizes the texture of the manhood that has been
exhausting itself within him; few comprehend his nature or have any
conception of his work.

"But he is content. The shadows of the wilderness have been chased away;
the savage beast and savage man have retired before him; nature has
brought her flowers to strew the steps of his old age; in his soul he
feels that somewhere the record of his work and of his high thoughts has
been kept; and so he smiles upon the younger generation and is content.

"May that contentment be his to the end."

It was an anniversary night in Pioneer Hall, in Virginia City, Nevada,
one July night in 1878, and the foregoing were the closing words of a
little impromptu speech that Alex Strong had delivered.

A strange, many-sided man was Alex Strong. He was an Argonaut. When the
first tide set in toward the Golden Coast, he, but a lad, with little
save a pony and a gun, joined a train that had crossed the Missouri and
was headed westward.

The people in the company looked upon him as a mere boy, but, later,
when real hardships were encountered and sickness came, the boy became
the life of the company. When women and children drooped under the
burdens and the fear of the wilderness, it was his voice that cheered
them on; his gun secured the tender bit of antelope or grouse to tempt
their failing appetites; his songs drove away the silence of the desert.
He was for the company a lark at morn, a nightingale at night.

Arriving in California, he sought the hills. When his claim would not
pay he indicted scornful songs to show his "defiance of luck." Some of
these were published in the mountain papers, and then a few people knew
that somewhere in miner's garb a genius was hiding. Amid the hills, in
his cabin, he was an incessant reader, and with his books, his friction
against men and in the study of nature's mighty alphabet, as left upon
her mountains, with the going by of the years he rounded into a
cultured, alert, sometimes pathetic and sometimes boisterous man, but
always a shrewd, all-around man of affairs.

When we greet him he had been for several years a brilliant journalist.

He had jumped up to make a little speech in Pioneer Hall, and the last
words of his speech are given above.

When he had finished another pioneer, Colonel Savage, was called upon.
He was always prepared to make a speech. He delighted, moreover, in
taking the opposite side to Strong. So springing to his feet, he cried

"Too serious are the words of my friend. What of hardships, when youth,
the beautiful, walks by one's side! What of danger when one feels a
young heart throbbing in his breast!

"Who talks of loneliness while as yet no fetter has been welded upon
hope, while yet the unexplored and unpeopled portions of God's world
beckon the brave to come to woo and to possess them!

"The pioneers were not unhappy. The air is still filled with the echoes
of the songs that they sung; their bright sayings have gone into the
traditions; the impression which they made upon the world is a monument
which will tell of their achievements, record their sturdy virtues and
exalt their glorified names."

As the Colonel ceased and some one else was called upon to talk, Strong
motioned to Savage and both noiselessly sought some vacant seats in the
rear of the hall.

Colonel Savage was another genius. He was a young lawyer in New York
when the first news of gold discoveries in California was carried to
that city. He, with a hundred others, chartered a bark that was lying
idle in the harbor, had her fitted up and loaded, and in her made a
seven months' voyage around the Cape to San Francisco. He was the most
versatile of the Argonauts. Every mood of poor human nature found a
response in him. At a funeral he shamed the mourners by the sadness of
his face; at a festival he added a sparkle to the wines; he could
convulse a saloon with a story; he could read a burial service with a
pathos that stirred every heart, and so his life ran on until when we
find him he had been several years a leading member of a brighter bar
than ever before was seen in a town of the size of Virginia City.

He was a tall, handsome man, his face was classical, and all his
bearing, even when all unbent, was that of a high-born, self-contained
and self-respecting man.

Strong, on the other hand, was of shorter statue; his face was the
perfect picture of mirthfulness; there was a wonderful magnetism in his
smile and hand-clasp; but when in repose a close look at his face
revealed, below the mirthfulness, that calm which is the close attendant
upon conscious power.

As they reached their seats Alex spoke:

"You were awfully good to-night, Colonel."

"Of course; I always am. But what has awakened your appreciation

"I thought my speech was horrible."

"For once it would require a brave man to doubt your judgment," said the
Colonel, sententiously.

"I was sure of it until I heard you speak; then I recovered my
self-respect, believing that, by comparison, my speech would ring in the
memories of the listeners, like a psalm."

"You mean Sam, the town-crier and bootblack. His brain is a little weak,
but his lungs are superb."

"I believe you are jealous of his voice, Colonel. But sit down: I want
to tell you about the most unregenerate soul on earth."

"Proceed, Alex, only do not forget that under the merciful statutes of
the State of Nevada no man is obliged to make statements which will
criminate himself."

"What a comfort that knowledge must be to you."

"It often is. My heart is full of sympathy for the unfortunate, and more
than once have I seen eyes grow bright when I have given that
information to a client."

"The study of that branch of law must have had a peculiar fascination to

"Indeed, it did, Alex. At every point where the law draws the shield of
its mercy around the accused, in thought it seemed made for one or
another of my friends, and, mentally, I found myself defending one after
the other of them."

"Did you, at the same time, keep in thought the fact that in an
emergency the law permits a man to plead his own cause?"

"Never, on my honor. In those days my life was circumspect, even as it
now is, and my associates--not as now--were so genteel that there was no
danger of any suspicion attaching to me, because of the people I was
daily seen with."

"That was good for you, but what sort of reputations did your associates
have?" asked Alex.

"They went on from glory to glory. One became a conductor on a railroad,
and in four years, at a salary of one hundred dollars per month, retired
rich. One became a bank cashier, and three years later, through the
advice of his physicians, settled in the soft climate of Venice, with
which country we have no extradition treaty. Another one is a broker
here in this city, and I am told, is doing so well that he hopes next
year to be superintendent of a mine."

"Why have you not succeeded better, Colonel, financially?"

"I am too honest. Every day I stop law suits which I ought to permit to
go on. Every day I do work for nothing which I ought to charge for. I
tell you, Alex, I would sooner be right than be President."

"I cannot, just now, recall any one who knows you, Colonel, who does not
feel the same way about you."

"That is because the most of my friends are dull, men, like yourself.
But how prospers that newspaper?"

"It is the same old, steady grind," replied Alex, thoughtfully. "I saw a
blind horse working in a whim yesterday. As he went round and round,
there seemed on his face a look of anxiety to find out how much longer
that road of his was, and I said to him, compassionately: 'Old Spavin,
you know something of what it is to work on a daily paper.' I went to
the shaft and watched the buckets as they came up, and there was only
one bucket of ore to ten buckets of waste. Then I went back to the horse
and said to him: 'You do not know the fact, you blissfully ignorant old
brute, but your work is mightily like ours, one bucket of ore to ten of

"How would you like to have me write an editorial for your paper?"

"I should be most grateful," was the reply.

"On what theme?"

"Oh, you might make your own selection."

"How would you like an editorial on----scoundrels?"

"It would, with your experience, be truthfully written, doubtless, but
Colonel, it is only now and then in good taste for a man to supply the
daily journals with his own autobiography."

"How modest you are. You did not forget that, despite the impersonality
of journalism, you would have the credit of the article."

"No, I was afraid of that credit, and I am poor enough now, Colonel; but
really, that credit does not count. If, for five days in the week, I
make newspapers, which my judgment tells me are passably good, it
appears to me the only use that is made of them is for servant girls to
kindle fires with, and do up their bangs in: but if, on the sixth day,
my heart is heavy and my brain thick, and the paper next morning is
poor, it seems to me that everybody in the camp looks curiously at me,
as if to ascertain for a certainty, whether or no, I am in the early
stages of brain softening."

"A reasonable suspicion, I fancy, Alex; but what do you think of your
brother editors of this coast as men and writers?"

"Most of them are good fellows, and bright writers. If you knew under
what conditions some of them work, you would take off your hat every
time you met them."

"To save my hat?" queried the Colonel. "But whom do you consider the
foremost editor of the coast?"

"There is no such person. Men with single thoughts and purposes, are, as
a rule, the men who make marks in this world. For instance, just now,
the single purpose of James G. Fair, is to make money through mining.
Hence, he is a great miner, and he, now and then, I am told, manages to
save a few dollars in the business. The dream of C. P. Huntington is to
make money through railroads, so he builds roads, that he may collect
more fares and freights, and he collects more fares and freights so that
he may build more roads, and I believe, all in all, that he is the
ablest, if not the coldest and most pitiless, railroad man in the world.
The ruling thought of Andy Barlow is to be a fighter, and he can draw
and shoot in the space of a lightning's flash. The dream of George
Washington, he having no children, was to create and adopt a nation
which should at once be strong and free, and the result is, his grave is
a shrine. But, as the eight notes of the scale, in their combinations,
fill the world with music--or with discords, so the work of an editor
covers all the subjects on which men have ever thought, or ever will
think, and the best that any one editor can do is to handle a few
subjects well. Among our coast editors there is one with more marked
characteristics, more flashes of genius, in certain directions, more
contradictions and more pluck than any other one possesses.

"That one is Henry Mighels, of Carson. I mention him because I have been
thinking of him all day, and because I fear that his work is finished.
The last we heard of him, was, that he was disputing with the surgeons
in San Francisco, they telling him that he was fatally ill, and he,
offering to wager two to one that they were badly mistaken."

"Poor Henry," mused the Colonel; "he is a plucky man. I heard one of our
rich men once try to get him to write something, or not to write
something, I have forgotten which, and when Mighels declined to consent,
the millionaire told him he was too poor to be so exceedingly
independent. Here Mighels, in a low voice, which sounded to me like the
purr of a tiger, said: 'You are quite mistaken, you do not know how rich
I am. I have that little printing office at Carson; paper enough to last
me for a week or ten days. I have a wife and three babies,' and then
suddenly raising his voice, to the dangerous note, and bringing his fist
down on the table before him with a crash, he shouted, '_and they are
all mine_!'

"The rich man looked at him, and, smiling, said: 'Don't talk like a
fool, Mighels.' The old humor was all back in Mighels' face in an
instant, as he replied, 'Was I talking like a fool, old man? What a
sublime faculty I have of exactly gauging my conversation to the mental
grasp of my listener!' But, Alex, do you not think there is a great deal
of humbug about the much vaunted power of the press?"

"There's gratitude for you. You ask _me_ such a question as that."

"And why not?" inquired the Colonel.

"You won a great suit last week, did you not--the case of Jones vs.

"Yes. It was wonderful; let me tell you about it."

"No; spare me," cried Alex. "But how much did you receive for winning
that case?"

"I received a cool ten thousand dollars."

"And you still ask about the influence of the press?"

"Yes. Why should I not?"

"Sure enough, why should you not? If you will stop and think you will
know that three months ago you could not have secured a jury in the
State that would have given you that verdict. There was a principle on
trial that public opinion was pronounced against in a most marked
manner. The press took up the discussion and fought it out. At length it
carried public opinion with it. That thing has been done over and over
right here. At the right time, your case, which hung upon that very
point, was called. You think you managed it well. It was simply a
walkover for you. The men with the Fabers had done the work for you. The
jury unconsciously had made up their minds before they heard the
complaint in the case read. The best thoughts in your argument you had
unconsciously stolen from the newspapers, and the judge, looking as wise
as an Arctic owl, unconsciously wrung half an editorial into his charge.
You received ten thousand dollars, and to the end of his days your
client will tell (heaven forgive his stupidity) what a lawyer you are,
but ask him his opinion of newspaper men and he will shrug his
shoulders, scowl, and with a donkey's air of wisdom, answer: 'Oh, they
are necessary evils. We want the local news and the dispatches, and we
have to endure them.'

"I am glad you robbed him, Colonel. I wish you could rob them all. If a
child is born to one of them we have to tell of it, and mention
delicately how noble the father is and how lovely the mother is. If one
of them dies we have to jeopardize our immortal souls trying to make out
a character for him. They want us every day; we hold up their business
and their reputations, beginning at the cradle, ending only at the

"What kind of character would you give me, were I to die?"

"Try it, Colonel! Try it! And if 'over the divide' it should be possible
for you to look back and read the daily papers, when your shade gets
hold of my notice, I promise you it shall be glad that you are dead."

"But what about that unregenerate soul that you were going to tell me
of--has some broker sold out some widow's stocks?"

"No: worse than that."

"Has some one burglarized some hospital or orphan asylum?" suggested the

"Oh, no. Old Angus Jacobs, you know, is rich. Among strangers he parades
his thin veneering of reading, and poses as though all his vaults were
stuffed with reserves of knowledge. Well, while East last spring, he ran
upon a distinguished publisher there, with whom he agreed that he would,
on his return, write and send for publication an article on the West.

"He came and begged me to write it, confessing that he had deceived the
publisher, and asserting that, he must keep up the deception, or the
integrity of the West would be injured in the estimation of that

"I went to work, wrote an article, became enthused as I wrote, wrote it
over, spent as much as three solid days upon it, and when it was
finished I looked upon my work, and lo, it was good.

"Then, at my own expense, I had it carefully copied and gave the copy to
old Angus. He sent it East. To-day he received a dozen copies and a
letter of profuse praise and thanks from the publisher.

"I saw the old thief give one of the copies to a literary man from San
Francisco, telling him, cheerfully, as he did, that he dashed the
article off hastily, that most of the language was crude and awkward,
but it might entertain him a little on the train going to San

"I never heard of anything meaner or more depraved than that,"
indignantly remarked the Colonel, "except when I read the funeral
service over an old Dutchman's child once, in Downieville. Speaking of
it afterward, the old Hessian said:

"'Dot Colonel's reading vos fine, but he dond vos haf dot prober look uf
regret vot he ought to haf had'--but here comes the Professor."

Professor Stoneman joined the pair, and when the greetings were over the
Professor said:

"I am just in from Eastern Nevada: went to Eureka to examine a mine
owned by a jolly miner named Moore. It is a good one, too--a contact
vein between lime and quartzite. The fellow worked, running a tunnel,
all winter, and now he has struck, and cross-cut, his vein. It is fully
seven feet thick, and rich. I asked him how he felt when at last he cut
the vein.

"'How did I feel, Professor,' he said, 'how did I feel? Why, General
Jackson's overcoat would not have made a paper collar for me.'

"There are a great many queer characters out that way. Moore is not a
very well educated man. In Eureka I was telling about the mine--that
Moore ought to make a fortune out of it--when a man standing by, a
stranger to me, stretched up both his arms and cried: 'A fortune! Look
at it, now! Moore is so unspeakably ignorant that he could not spell out
the name of the Savior if it were written on White Pine Mountain in
letters bigger than the Coast Range. But he strikes it rich! His kind
always do.' Then he added, bitterly: 'If I could find a chimpanzee, I
would draw up articles of copartnership with him in fifteen minutes.'

"And then a quiet fellow, who was present, said: 'Jim, maybe the
chimpanzee, after taking a good look at you, would not stand it.'

"I was sitting in a barroom there one day, and a man was talking about
the Salmon River mines, and insisting that they were more full of
promise than anything in Nevada, when another man in the crowd earnestly

"'If my brother were to write me that it was a good country, and advise
me to come up there, I would not believe him.'

"Quick as lightning, still another man responded: 'If we all knew your
brother as well as you do, maybe none of us would believe him.'

"That is the way they spend their time out there. But I secured some
lovely specimens: specimens of ore, rare shells, some of the finest
specimens of mirabilite of lead that I ever saw. It is a most
interesting region. But I don't agree entirely with Clarence King on the
geology of the district. You see King's theory is--"

"Oh, hold on, Professor," said the Colonel, "it does not lack an hour of
midnight. You have not time, positively. Heigh ho. Here is Wright. How
is the mine, Wright?"

"About two hundred tons lighter than it was this morning, I reckon,"
replied Wright.

"But tell us about the mine, Wright," said Alex, impatiently. "How is
the temperature?"

"How is your health?" responded Wright, jocularly. "If you do not expect
to live long, you might come down and take some preparatory lessons;
that is, if you anticipate joining the majority of newspaper men."

"No, no; you are mistaken," said Alex. "You mean the Colonel. He is a
lawyer, you know."

"It is the Professor that needs the practice," chimed in the Colonel.
"Just imagine him 'down below,' explaining to the gentleman in green how
similar the formation is to a hot drift that he once found in the

"I will tell you a hotter place than any drift in the Comstock," said
the Professor. "Put all the money that you have into stocks, having a
dead pointer from a friend who is posted, buy on a margin, and then have
the stocks begin to go down; that will start the perspiration on you."

"We have all been in that drift," said Alex.

"Indeed, we have," responded Wright.

"I have lived in that climate for twelve years. One or two winters it
kept me so warm that I did not need an overcoat or watch, so I loaned
them to----'mine uncle,'" remarked the Colonel.

"But, do you know any points on stocks, Wright?"

"No, not certainly, Alex. I heard some rumors last night and ordered 100
Norcross this morning. Some of the boys think it will jump up three or
four dollars in the next ten days."

"I took in a block of Utah yesterday. They are getting down pretty deep,
and there is lots of unexplored ground in that mine," said the Colonel,

The Professor, looking serious, said: "I have all my money the other
way, in Justice and Silver Hill. They are not deep enough in the north
end yet."

Alex got up from his chair. "You are all mistaken," said he, "Overman is
the best buy, but it is growing late and I must go to work. What shift
are you on, Wright?"

"I go on at seven in the morning. By the way, you should come up of an
evening to our Club. We would be glad to see all three of you."

"And pray, what do you mean by your Club?" asked the Colonel.

"Why," said Wright, "I thought you knew. Three or four of us miners met
up here one night last month. Joe Miller was in the party, and as we
were drinking beer and talking about stocks, Miller proposed that we
should hire a vacant house on the divide--the old Beckley House--and
give up the boarding and lodging houses. We talked it all over, how
shameful we had been going on, how we were spending all our money, how,
if we had the house, we could save fifty or sixty dollars a month, and
eat what we pleased, do what we pleased, and have a place in which to
pass our leisure time without going to the saloons; so we picked up
three or four more men, and, on last pay-day, moved in--seven of us in
all--each man bringing his own chair, blankets and food. The latter, of
course, was all put into common stock, and Miller had fixed everything
else. Since then we have been getting along jolly.'"

"But who makes up your company?" inquired Alex.

"Oh, you know the whole outfit," answered Wright. "There is Miller, as I
told you; there are, besides, Tom Carlin, old man Brewster, Herbert
Ashley, Sammy Harding, Barney Corrigan and myself."

"It is a good crowd; but you are not all working in the same mine, are
you?" said the Professor, inquiringly.

"Oh, no. Brewster is running a power-drill in the Bullion. He is a
mechanic, you know, and not a real miner. Miller and Harding are in the
Curry, Barney is in the Norcross, Carlin and Ashley are in the Imperial,
and I in the Savage. But we all happen to be on the same shift, so, for
this month at least, we have our evenings together."

"It must be splendid," enthusiastically remarked the Colonel.

"How do you spend your evenings?" asked Alex.

"We talk on all subjects except politics. That subject, we agreed at the
start, should not be discussed. We read and compare notes on stocks."

"How do you manage about your cooking?" queried the Professor.

"We have a Chinaman, who is a daisy. He is cook, housekeeper,
chambermaid, and would be companion and musician if we could stand it.
You must come up and see us."

"I will come to-morrow evening," Alex replied, eagerly.

"So will I," said the Colonel, with a positiveness that was noticeable.

"And so will I," shouted the Professor.

Just then the eleven o'clock whistles sounded up and down the lead.
"That is our signal for retiring," said Wright, "and so good night."

"Let us go out and take a night cap, first," said the Colonel.

"Well, if I must," said Wright. "Though the rule of our Club is only a
little for medicine."

The night caps were ordered and swallowed. Then the men separated, the
Colonel, Professor and Wright going home, the journalist to his work.

Professor Stoneman was a character. Tall and spare, with such an outline
as Abraham Lincoln had. He was fifty years of age, with grave and serene
face when in repose, and with the mien of one of the faculty of a
university. Still he had that nature which caused him when a boy to run
away from his Indiana home to the Mexican war, and he fought through all
that long day at Buena Vista, a lad of eighteen years. Of course he was
with the first to reach California. He had tried mining and many other
things, but the deeper side of his nature was to pursue the
sciences--the lighter to mingle with good fellows. He would tell a story
one moment and the next would combat a scientific theory with the most
learned of the Eastern scientists, and carry away from the controversy
the full respect of his opponent. There was a great fund of merriment
within him, and his generosity not only kept his bank account a minus
number, but moreover, kept his heart aching that he had no more to give.
When by himself he was an incessant student, and beside knowing all that
the books taught, he had his own ideas of their correctness, especially
those that deal with the formation of ore deposits. He was a learned
writer, a gifted lecturer and an expert of mines, and, over all, the
most genial of men.

Adrian Wright was of another stamp altogether. He was tall and strong,
with large feet and hands, a massive man in all respects, and forty-five
years of age.

He had a cool and brave gray eye, a firm, strong mouth, very light brown
hair and carried always with him a something which first impressed those
who saw him with his power, while a second look gave the thought that
beside the power which was visible, he had unmeasured reserves of
concealed force which he could call upon on demand.

He went an uncultured lad to California. He was at first a placer miner.
Obtaining a good deal of money he became a mountain trader and the owner
of a ditch, which supplied some hydraulic grounds. He was brusque in his
address, said "whar" and "thar," but his head was large and firmly
poised; his heart was warm as a child's, and he was loved for his clear,
good sense and for the sterling manhood which was apparent in all his
ways. Though uncultured in the schools, he had read a great deal, and,
mixing much with men, his judgment had matured, until in his mountain
hamlet his word had become an authority.

His friends persuaded him to become a candidate for the State
Legislature. After he had consented to run he spent a good deal of money
in the campaign. He was elected and went to Sacramento. There he was
persuaded to buy largely of Comstock stocks. He bought on a margin. When
it came time to put up more money he could not without borrowing. He
would not do that through fear that he could not pay. He lost the
stocks. He went home in the spring to find that his clerks had given
large credits to miners; the hydraulic mines ceased to pay, which
rendered his ditch property valueless, and a few days later his store
burned down. When his debts were paid he had but a few hundred dollars
left. He said nothing about his reverses, but went to Virginia City and
for several years had been working in the mines.

As already said, a miners' mess had been formed. Seven miners on the
Comstock might be picked out who would pretty nearly represent the whole

This band had been drawn together partly because of certain traits that
they possessed in common, though they were each distinctly different
from all the others.

We have read of Wright. Of the others, James Brewster, was the eldest of
the company. He was fifty years of age, and from Massachusetts. He was
not tall, but was large and powerful.

There were streaks of gray in his hair, but his eyes were clear, and
black as midnight. He had a bold nose and invincible mouth; the
expression of his whole face was that of a resolute, self-contained, but
kindly nature. All his movements were quick and positive.

He was educated, and though of retiring ways, when he talked everybody
near him listened. He was not a miner, but a mechanical engineer, and
his work was the running of power drills in the mine. He never talked
much of his own affairs, but it was understood that misfortune in
business had caused him to seek the West somewhat late in life. The
truth was he had never been rich. He possessed a moderately prosperous
business until a long illness came to his wife, and when the depression
which followed the reaction from the war and the contraction of the
currency fell upon the North, he found he had little left, and so sought
a new field.

He was the Nestor of the Club and was exceedingly loved by his

Miller, who first proposed the Club, was a New Yorker by birth, a man
forty-five years of age, medium height, keen gray eyes, a clear-cut,
sharp face, slight of build, but all nerve and muscle, and lithe as a
panther. He had been for a quarter of a century on the west coast, and
knew it well from British Columbia to Mexico, and from the Rocky
Mountains to the Pacific.

He was given a good education in his youth; he had mingled with all
sorts of men and been engaged in all kinds of business. There was a
perpetual flash to his eyes, and a restlessness upon him which made him
uneasy if restrained at all. He had the reputation of being inclined to
take desperate chances sometimes, but was honorable, thoroughly, and
generous to a fault.

He had studied men closely, and of Nature's great book he was a constant
reader. He knew the voices of the forests and of the streams; he had a
theory that the world was but a huge animal; that if we were but wise
enough to understand, we should hear from Nature's own voices the story
of the world and hear revealed all her profound secrets.

He possessed a magnetism which drew friends to him everywhere. His hair
was still unstreaked with gray, but his face was care-worn, like that of
one who had been dissipated or who had suffered many disappointments.

Carlin was twenty-eight years of age, long of limb, angular, gruff, but
hearty; quick, sharp and shrewd, but free-handed and generally in the
best of humors. He was an Illinois man, and a good type of the men of
the Old West.

His eyes were brown, his hair chestnut; erect, he was six feet in
height, but seated, there seemed to be no place for his hands and hardly
room enough for his feet. He was well-educated, and had been but three
and a half years on the Comstock.

All the Californians in the Club insisted, of course, that there was no
other place but that, but this Carlin always vehemently denied, for he
came from the State of Lincoln and Douglas, and the State, moreover,
that had Chicago in one corner of it, and he did not believe there was
another such State in all the Republic.

Ashley was from Pennsylvania; a young man of twenty-five, above medium
height, compact as a tiger in his make-up, and weighing, perhaps, one
hundred and eighty pounds. His eyes were gray, his hair brown, his face
almost classic in its outlines; his feet and hands were particularly
small and finely formed, and there was a jollity and heartiness about
his laugh which was contagious. He had an excellent education, and had
seen a good deal of business in his early manhood.

Corrigan was a thorough Irishman, generous, warm-hearted, witty,
sociable, brave to recklessness, curly-haired, with laughing, blue eyes;
the most open and frank of faces that was ever smiling, powerfully built
and ready at a moment's notice to fight anyone or give anyone his purse.

Everybody knew and liked him, and he liked everybody that, as he
expressed it, was worth the liking.

He had come to America a lad of ten. He lived for twelve years in New
York City, attended the schools, and was in his last year in the High
School when, for some wild freak, he had been expelled. He worked two
years in a Lake Superior copper mine, then went to California and worked
there until lured to Nevada by the silver mines, and had been on the
Comstock five years when the Club was formed.

Harding was the boy of the company, only twenty-two years of age, a
native California lad. But he was hardly a type of his State.

His eyes were that shade of gray which looks black in the night; his
hair was auburn. He had a splendid form, though not quite filled out;
his head was a sovereign one.

But he was reticent almost to seriousness, and it was in this respect
that he did not seem quite like a California boy. There was a reason for
it. He was the son of an Argonaut who had been reckless in business and
most indulgent to his boy. He had a big farm near Los Angeles, and
shares in mines all over the coast. The boy had grown up half on the
farm and half in the city. He was an adept in his studies; he was just
as much an adept when it came to riding a wild horse.

He had gained a good education and was just entering the senior class in
college when his father suddenly died. He mourned for him exceedingly,
and when his affairs were investigated it was found there was a mortgage
on the old home.

He believed there was a future for the land. So he made an arrangement
to meet the interest on the mortgage annually, then went to San
Francisco, obtained an order for employment on a Comstock
superintendent, went at once to Virginia City and took up his regular
labor as a miner. He had been thus employed for a year when the Club was

This was the company that had formed a mess. Miller had worked up the

It had been left to Miller to prepare the house--to buy the necessary
materials for beginning housekeeping, like procuring the dishes, knives
and forks and spoons, and benches or cheap chairs, for the dining room,
and it was agreed to begin on the next pay day.


About four o'clock in the afternoon of the day appointed for commencing
housekeeping, our miners gathered at this new home. The provisions,
bedding and chairs had been sent in advance, in care of Miller, who had
remained above ground that day, in order to have things in apple-pie
shape. The chairs were typical of the men. Brewster's was a common,
old-fashioned, flag-bottomed affair, worth about three dollars. Carlin
and Wright each had comfortable armchairs; Ashley and Harding had neat
office chairs, while Miller and Corrigan each had heavy upholstered
armchairs, which cost sixty dollars each.

When all laughed at Brewster's chair, he merely answered that it would
do, and when Miller and Corrigan were asked what on earth they had
purchased such out-of-place furniture for, to put in a miner's cabin,
Miller answered: "I got trusted and didn't want to make a bill for
nothing," and Corrigan said: "To tell the truth, I was not over-much
posted on this furniture business, I did not want to invest in too chape
an article, so I ordered the best in the thavin' establishment, because
you know a good article is always chape, no matter what the cost may

The next thing in order was to compare the bills for provisions.
Brewster drew his bill from his pocket and read as follows: Twenty
pounds bacon, $7.50; forty pounds potatoes, $1.60; ten pounds coffee,
$3.75; one sack flour, $4.00; cream tartar and salaratus, $1.00; ten
pounds sugar, $2.75; pepper, salt and mustard, $1.50; ten pounds prunes,
$2.50; one bottle XXX for medicine, $2.00; total, $32.60.

The bill was receipted. The bills of Wright and Harding each comprised
about the same list, and amounted to about the same sum. They, too, were
receipted. The funny features were that each one had purchased nearly
similar articles, and the last item on each of the bills was a charge of
$2.00 for medicine. It had been agreed that no liquor should be bought
except for medicine.

The bills of Carlin and Ashley were not different in variety, but each
had purchased in larger quantities, so that those bills footed up about
$45 each. On each of the bills, too, was an item of $4.75 for demijohn
and "half gallon of whisky for medicine." All were receipted.

Corrigan's bill amounted to $73, including one-half gallon of whisky and
one bottle of brandy "for medicine," and his too was receipted.

Miller read last. His bill had a little more variety, and amounted to
$97.16. The last item was: "To demijohn and one gallon whisky for
medicine, $8.00." On this bill was a credit for $30.00.

A general laugh followed the reading of these bills. The variety
expected was hardly realized, as Corrigan remarked: "The bills lacked
somewhat in versatility, but there was no doubt about there being plenty
of food of the kind and no end to the medicine."

When the laugh had subsided, Brewster said: "Miller estimated that our
provisions would not cost to exceed $15.00 per month apiece. I tried to
be reasonable and bought about enough for two months, but here we have a
ship load. Why did you buy out a store, Miller?"

"I had to make a bill and I did not want the grocery man to think we
were paupers," retorted Miller.

"How much were the repairs on the house, Miller?" asked Carlin.

"There's the beggar's bill. It's a dead swindle, and I told him so. He
ought to have been a plumber. He had by the Eternal. He has no more
conscience than a police judge. Here's the scoundrel's bill," said
Miller, excitedly, as he proceeded to read the following:

"'To repairing roof, $17.50; twenty battens, $4.00; to putting on
battens, $3.00; hanging one door, $3.50; six lights glass, $3.00;
setting same, $3.00; lumber, $4.80; putting up bunks, $27.50; total,

"The man is no better than a thief; if he is, I'm a sinner."

"You bought some dishes, did you not, Miller?" inquired Ashley. "How
much did they amount to?"

"There's another scalper," answered Miller, warmly. "I told him we
wanted a few dishes, knives, forks, etc.--just enough for seven men to
cabin with--and here is the bill. It foots up $63.37. A bill for wood
also amounts to $15.00; two extra chairs, $6.00."

Brewster, who had been making a memorandum, spoke up and said: "If I
have made no error the account stands as follows:

    Provisions                                  $357 56
    Crockery, knives, forks, etc.                 53 37
    Wood                                          19 00
    Repairs                                       66 50
    One month's rent                              50 00
    One month's water                              7 00
    Chairs                                         6 00
    Making a total of                           $559 43

Or, in round numbers, eighty dollars per capita for us all. I settled my
account at the store, amounting to $32.60, which leaves $47.40 as my
proportion of the balance. Here is the money."

This was like Brewster. Some of the others settled and a part begged-off
until next pay-day.

The next question was about the cooking. After a brief debate it was
determined that all would join in getting up the first supper. So one
rushed to a convenient butcher shop and soon returned with a basket full
of porter house steaks, sweetbreads and lamb chops; another prepared the
potatoes and put them in the oven; another attended to the fire; another
to setting the table. Brewster was delegated to make the coffee. To
Corrigan was ascribed the task of cooking the meats, while Miller
volunteered to make some biscuits that would "touch their hearts."

He mixed the ingredients in the usual way and thoroughly kneaded the
dough. He then, with the big portion of a whisky bottle for a
rolling-pin, rolled the dough out about a fourth of an inch thick. He
then touched it gently all over with half melted butter; rolled the thin
sheet into a large roll; then with the bottle reduced this again to the
required thickness for biscuits, and, with a tumbler, cut them out. His
biscuit trick he had learned from an old Hungarian, who, for a couple of
seasons, had been his mining partner. It is an art which many a fine
lady would be glad to know. The result is a biscuit which melts like
cream in the mouth--like a fair woman's smile on a hungry eye. Corrigan
had his sweetbreads frying, and when the biscuits were put in the oven,
the steak and chops were put on to broil. The steak had been salted and
peppered--miner's fashion--and over it slices of bacon, cut thin as
wafers, had been laid. The bacon, under the heat, shriveled up and
rolled off into the fire, but not until the flavor had been given to the
steak. One of the miners had opened a couple of cans of preserved
pine-apples; the coffee was hot, the meats and the biscuits were ready,
and so the simple supper was served. Harding had placed the chairs;
Brewster's was at the head of the table.

Corrigan waited until all the others had taken their seats at the table;
then, with a glass in his hand and a demijohn thrown over his right
elbow, he stepped forward and said:

"To didicate the house, and also as a medicine, I prescribe for aitch
patient forty drops."

Each took his medicine resignedly, and as the last one returned the
glass, Corrigan added: "It appears to me I am not faling ony too well
meself," and either as a remedy or preventive, he took some of the

The supper was ravenously swallowed by the men, who for months had eaten
nothing but miners' boarding-house fare. With one voice they declared
that it was the first real meal they had eaten for weeks, and over their
coffee they drank long life to housekeeping and confusion to

When the supper was over and the things put away, the pipes were
lighted. By this time the shadow of Mount Davidson around them had
melted into the gloom of the night, and for the first time in months
these men settled themselves down to spend an evening at home. It was a
new experience.

"It is just splendid," cried Wright. "No beer, no billiards, no painted
nymphs, no chance for a row. We have been sorry fools for months--for
years, for that matter--or we would have opened business at this stand
long ago."

"We have, indeed," said Ashley. "To-night we make a new departure. What
shall we call our mess?"

Many names were suggested, but finally "The Comstock Club" was proposed
and nominated by acclamation.

[Illustration: THE COMSTOCK CLUB.]

It was agreed, too, that no other members, except honorary members,
should be admitted, and no politics talked. Then the conversation became
general, and later, confidential; and each member of the Club uncovered
a little his heart and his hopes.

Miller meant, so soon as he "made a little stake," to go down to San
Francisco and assault the stock sharps right in their Pine and
California street dens. He believed he had discovered the rule which
could reduce stock speculation to an exact science, and he was anxious
for the opportunity which a little capital would afford, "to show those
sharpers at the Bay a trick or two, which they had never yet 'dropped
on.'" He added, patronizingly: "I will loan you all so much money, by
and by, that each of you will have enough to start a bank."

"I shtarted a bank alridy, all be mesilf, night before last," said

"What kind of a bank was it, Barney?" asked Harding.

"One of King Pharo's. I put a twenty-dollar pace upon the Quane; that
shtarted the bank. The chap on the other side of the table commenced to
pay out the pictures, and the Quane----"

"Well, what of the Queen, Barney?" asked Carlin.

"She fill down be the side of the sardane box, and the chap raked in me
double agle."

"How do you like that style of banking, Barney?" asked Ashley.

"Oh! Its mighty plisant and enthertainin', of course; the business sames
to be thransacted with a grate dale of promptness and dispatch; the only
drawback seems to be that the rates of ixchange are purty high."

Tom Carlin knew of a great farm, a store, a flour mill, and a hazel-eyed
girl back in Illinois. He coveted them all, but was determined to
possess the girl anyway.

After a little persuasion, he showed her picture to the Club. They all
praised it warmly, and Corrigan declared she was a daisy. In a neat hand
on the bottom of the picture was written: "With love, Susie Richards."
Carlin always referred to her as "Susie Dick."

Harding, upon being rallied, explained that his father came with the
Argonauts to the West; that he was brilliant, but over-generous; that he
had lived fast and with his purse open to every one, and had died while
yet in his prime, leaving an encumbered estate, which must be cleared of
its indebtedness, that no stain might rest upon the name of Harding.
There was a gleam in the dark eyes, and a ring to the voice of the boy
as he spoke, that kindled the admiration of the Club, and when he ceased
speaking, Miller reached out and shook his hand, saying: "You should
have the money, my boy!"

Back in Massachusetts, Brewster had met with a whole train of
misfortunes; his property had become involved; his wife had died--his
voice lowered and grew husky when mentioning this--he had two little
girls, Mable and Mildred. He had kept his children at school and paid
their way despite the iron fortune that had hedged him about, and he was
working to shield them from all the sorrows possible, without the aid of
the Saint who had gone to heaven. The Club was silent for a moment, when
the strong man added, solemnly, and as if to himself: "Who knows that
she does not help us still?"

In his youth, Brewster acquired the trade of an engineer. At this time,
as we learned before, he was running a power drill in the Bullion. He
was a great reader and was thorough on many subjects.

Wright had his eyes on a stock range in California, where the land was
cheap, the pasturage fine, the water abundant, and where, with the land
and a few head of stock for a beginning, a man would in a few years be
too rich to count his money. He had been accustomed to stock, when a
boy, in Missouri, and was sure that there was more fun in chasing a wild
steer with a good mustang, than finding the biggest silver mine in

Ashley had gained some new ideas since coming West. He believed he knew
a cheap farm back in Pennsylvania, that, with thorough cultivation,
would yield bountifully. There were coal and iron mines there also,
which he could open in a way to make old fogies in that country open
their eyes. He knew, too, of a district there, where a man, if he
behaved himself, might be elected to Congress. It was plain, from his
talk, that he had some ambitious plans maturing in his mind.

Corrigan had an old mother in New York. He was going to have a few acres
of land after awhile in California, where grapes and apricots would
grow, and chickens and pigs would thrive and be happy. He was going to
fix the place to his own notion, then was going to send for his mother,
and when she came, every day thereafter he was going to look into the
happiest old lady's eyes between the seas.

So they talked, and did not note how swiftly the night was speeding,
until the deep whistle of the Norcross hoisting engine sounded for the
eleven o'clock shift, and in an instant was followed by all the whistles
up and down the great lode.

Then the good nights were said, and in ten minutes the lights were
extinguished and the mantles of night and silence were wrapped around
the house.


An early breakfast was prepared by the whole Club, as the supper of the
previous evening had been. The miners had to be at the mines, where they
worked, promptly at 7 o'clock, to take the places of the men who had
worked since eleven o'clock the previous night.

While at breakfast the door of the house was softly opened and a
Chinaman showed his face. He explained that he was a "belly good cook,"
and would like to work for ten dollars a week.

Carlin was nearest the door, and in a bantering tone opened a
conversation with the Mongolian.

"What is your name, John?"

"Yap Sing."

"Are you a good cook, sure, Yap?"

"Oh, yes, me belly good cook; me cookie bleef-steak, chickie, turkie,
goosie; me makie bled, pie, ebbything; me belly good cook."

"Have you any cousins, Yap?"

"No cuzzie; no likie cuzzie."

"Do you get drunk, Yap?"

"No gettie glunk; no likie blandy."

"Do you smoke opium?"

"No likie smokie opium. You sabe, one man smokie opium, letee while he
all same one fool; all same one d----d monkey."

"Suppose we were to hire you, Yap, how long would it take you to steal
everything in the ranch?"

"Me no stealie; me no likie stealie."

"Now, Yap, suppose we hire you and we all go off to the mines and leave
you here, and some one comes and wants to buy bacon and beans and flour
and sugar, what would you do?"

"Me no sellie."

"Suppose some one comes and wants to steal things, what then?"

"Me cuttie his ears off; me cuttie his d----d throat."

At this Brewster interposed and said: "I believe it would be a good idea
to engage this Chinaman. We are away and the place is unprotected all
day; besides, after a man has worked all day down in the hot levels of
the Comstock, he does not feel like cooking his own dinner. Let us give
John a trial."

It was agreed to. Yap Sing was duly installed. He was instructed to have
supper promptly at six o'clock; orders were given him on the markets for
fresh meat, vegetables, etc. From the remnants of the breakfast the
dinner buckets were filled and the men went away to their work.

Yap Sing proved to be an artist in his way. When the members of the Club
met again at their home, a splendid, hot supper was waiting for them.
They ate, as hungry miners do, congratulating themselves that, as it
were from the sky, an angel of a heathen had dropped down upon them.

After supper, when the pipes were lighted, the conversation of the
previous evening was resumed.

The second night brought out something of the history of each. They had
nearly all lived in California; some had wandered the Golden Coast all
over; all had roughed it, and all had an experience to relate. These
evening visits soon became very enjoyable to the members of the Club,
and the friendship of the members for each other increased as they the
more thoroughly, knew the inner lives of each other.

On this night, Wright was the last to speak of himself. When he had
concluded, Ashley said to him: "Wright, you have had some lively
experiences. What is the most impressive scene that you ever witnessed?"

"I hardly know." Wright replied. "I think maybe a mirage that was
painted for me, one day, out on the desert, this side of the sink of the
Humbolt, when I was crossing the plains, shook me up about as much as
anything that ever overtook me, except the chills and fever, which I
used to have when a boy, back in Missouri. For only a picture it was
right worrisome."

The Club wanted to hear about it, and so Wright proceeded as follows:

"We had been having rough times for a good while; thar had been sickness
in the train; some of the best animals had been poisoned with alkali;
thar had been some Injun scares--it was in '57--and we all had been
broken, more or less, of our rest, I in particular, was a good deal
jolted up; was nervous and full of starts and shivers. I suspect thar
was a little fever on me. We halted one morning on the desert, to rest
the stock, and make some coffee. It was about eight o'clock. We had been
traveling since sundown the night before, crossing the great desert, and
hoped to reach Truckee River that afternoon.

"While resting, a mighty desire took possession of me to see the river,
and to feel that the desert was crossed.

"I had a saddle mule that was still in good condition. I had petted him
since he was three days old, had broken him, and he and myself were the
best of friends. His mother was a thoroughbred Kentucky mare; from her
he had inherited his courage and staying qualities, while he had also
just enough of his father's stubbornness to be useful, for it held his
heart up to the work when things got rough.

"I looked over the train; it was all right; I was not needed; would not
be any more that day.

"The mule was brought up in the Osage hills, and I had named him Osage,
which after awhile became contracted to Sage. I went to him and looked
him over. He was quietly munching a bacon sack. I took a couple of
quarts of wheaten flour, mixed it into a soft paste, with water from one
of the kegs which had been brought along, and gave it to him. He drank
it as a hungry boy drinks porridge, and licked the dish clean. The
journey had impressed upon him the absolute need of exercising the
closest economy.

"When he had finished his rather light breakfast, I whispered to him
that if he would stand in with me, I would show him, before night, the
prettiest stream of water--snow water--in the world. I think he
understood me perfectly. Telling the people of the train that I would go
ahead and look out a camping place, I took my shotgun, put a couple of
biscuits in my pocket, and mounted Sage. He struck out at once on his
long swinging walk.

"It was an August morning and had been hot ever since the sun rose. That
is a feature out thar on the desert in the summer. The nights get cold,
but so soon as the sun comes up, it is like going down into the
Comstock. In fifteen minutes everything is steaming. Old Ben Allen, down
on the borders of the Cherokee Nation, never of a morning, warmed up his
niggers any livelier than the sun does the desert.

"I rode for a couple of hours. As I said, I was weak and nervous. In the
sand, Sage's feet hardly made any sound, and the glare and the silence
of the desert were around and upon me. If you never experienced it you
don't know what the silence of the desert means. Take a day when the
winds are laid; when in all directions, as far as your vision extends,
thar is not a moving thing; when all that you can see is the brazen sky
overhead, and the scarred breast of the earth, as if smitten and
transfixed by Thor's thunderbolts, lying prone and desolate like the
face of a dead world, before you; and withal not one sound: absolute
stillness; and strong nerves after awhile become strained. On me, that
forenoon, my surroundings became almost intolerable. I had been on foot
driving team all night; I had eaten nothing since midnight, and then had
only forced down a small slice of bread and a cup of horrible black
coffee, and was really not more than half myself. One moment I was
chilly; the next was perspiring, and sometimes it seemed as though I
should suffocate. With my nerves strung up as they were, I guess it
would not have required much to give me a panic.

"Just then, out against the sun to the southward, and apparently a mile
away, I saw something. Talk about being impressed! that was my time. I
was sure I saw five hundred Indian warriors, all mounted. They were
wheeling in black squadrons on the desert, wheeling and forming, as I
thought. Horses and men were all black, and now and then as they wheeled
or swung to and fro, I marked what I was sure was the gleam of steel.
They evidently had seen me: I expected every moment to hear their yell
and wondered that I did not feel the tremble of the earth beneath their
horses' feet; I was too nearly paralyzed to try to escape. I slipped or
fell, I don't know which, from my mule, and lay panting like a tired
hound upon the sand. But I could not keep my eyes from the terrible
sight before me. Still those tawny warriors kept wheeling and forming,
and as I believed, menacing me.

"At length I grew a little calmer, and remember that I explained to
myself that the reason I did not hear the thunder of their horses' feet,
was because of the sand, and from the fact that the ponies could not be
shod. But I wondered more and more where an Indian tribe could get so
many black horses.

"Once, when they seemed particularly furious, and just on the point of
charging down upon me; I remember that I said to myself: 'If they eat me
they will have to broil me in the sun, for thar is no fuel here.' All
the time too, I was pitying Sage, and my own voice frightened me as I
unconsciously said: 'Poor Sage, it is a hard fate to be faithful and
suffer as you have and then fall into the hands of savages.'

"When a little more under my own control, I cautiously rose to my feet
and looked at the mule. It was no use. On top of the fatigue of coming
quite two thousand miles, he had, on that morning, been constantly
traveling for fourteen hours, with only two rests of thirty minutes
each. He never could get away from those fresh ponies. I looked back in
the direction of the train; it was nowhar in sight and must have been
back probably five miles.

"In this strait I looked up again toward my savages. At that very moment
the charge commenced; the whole array was bearing down upon me. I took
my gun from the horn of the saddle and sat down on the ground. I
felt--but no matter how I felt; I only know that at that moment I would
have given my note for a large sum to have been back in Missouri.

"On they swept, and I watched them coming. But somehow they began to
grow smaller and smaller, and in an instant more the squadron vanished.
Where the moment before an armed band, terrible with life and bristling
with fury, had shone upon my eyes, now all that there was to be seen was
a flock of perhaps twenty ravens, flying with short flights, and hopping
and lighting around some little thing, which lay above the level of the
desert. I mounted Sage and rode out to the spot, some four hundred yards

"I found another road, and strung along it, were the carcasses of a good
many cattle that had died in emigrant trains. The ravens were hopping
about these carcasses and flying from one to another. I had heard of the
mirage of the desert, when a boy in school, and suddenly 'I dropped
upon' the whole business. By some mighty refraction of the beams of
light, these miserable scavengers of the desert had been magnified into
formidable, mounted warriors, and the glint of steel that I had seen,
was but the shimmer of sunbeams upon their black wings.

"Again I headed Sage for the river. In a little while he commenced to
stretch out his nose; soon, of his own accord, he quickened his pace to
a trot, a little later he took up his long lope and never relaxed his
speed until he drove his nose into the delicious water of the Truckee. I
dismounted and joined him. Right there we each took the biggest and
longest drink of our lives; then I gave Sage one of my biscuits and ate
the other myself, and we both felt immensely refreshed. I stripped the
saddle and bridle from the mule and let him go. The river bank was green
with grass and Sage was happy.

"Throwing myself upon the ground, and laying my head upon the saddle, I
composed myself for a sleep.

"I was greatly in need of sleep, but the moment I closed my eyes, here
came my black cavalry charging down upon me again, and I sprang up with
a cry. Of all impressive scenes, that was my biggest one sure. I see it
in my dreams still, at times, and I never, from this mountain side, look
down to where the sand clouds are piling up their dunes over toward the
Sink of the Carson, that I do not instinctively take one furtive glance
in search of my savages."

"I had a livelier mirage than that once," said Miller with a laugh. "I
was prospecting for quartz in the foothills of Rogue River Valley,
Oregon, and looking up, I thought I saw four or five deer, lying under a
tree, on a hill side, about three hundred yards away. I raised the sight
on my gun, took as good aim as I could on horseback, and blazed away.

"In a second, four of those Rogue River Indians sprang from the ground
and made for me. I had a good horse, but they ran me six miles before
they gave up the chase. No more mirages like that for me, if you

"I had a worse one than either of yees," chimed in Corrigan. "It was in
that tough winter of '69. I had been placer mining up by Pine Grove, in
California, all summer. I had a fair surface claim, and by wurking half
the time, I paid me way and had a few dollars besides. The other half of
the time I was wurking upon a dape cut, through bid rock, to get a fall
in which I could place heavy sluices, and calculated that with the
spring I could put in a pipe, and hydraulic more ground in one sason
than I could wurk in the ould way in tin. One day, late in the autumn, I
went up to La Porte to buy supplies, and on the night that I made that
camp it began to snow. When once it got shtarted, it just continued to
snow, as it can up in those mountains, and niver "lit up" for four hours
at a time for thray wakes. It began to look as though the glacial period
had returned to the wurld.

"When I wint into town, I put up at Mrs. O'Kelly's boardin' and lodgin'
house. Mrs. O'Kelly was a big woman, weighin' full two hundred pounds,
and she was a business woman. She didn't pretind to be remainin' in La
Porte jist for her hilth.

"But there was a beautiful girl waitin' on the table in Mrs. O'Kelly's
home. Her name was Maggie Murphy, and she was as thrim and purty a girl
as you would wish to mate. She had bright, cheery ways, and whin she
wint up to a table and sung out 'Soup'? all the crockery in the dinin'
room would dance for joy.

"Of an avenin' I used, after a few days, to visit a bit with Maggie.
Some one had told about the camp that I had a great mine, and was all
solid, and I was willin' to have the delusion kipt up, anyway until the
storm saised. Maggie, I have a suspicion, had hurd the same story, for
she was exceedingly gracious loike to me. One avenin,' as I was sayin'
'good night'--we were growin' mighty familiar loike thin--I said
'Maggie,' says I, 'the last woman I iver kissed was my ould mother, may
I not kiss you, for I love you, darlint?' 'Indade you shall not,' says
she, but in spite of that, somethin' in her eyes made me bould loike,
and I saised upon and hild her--but she did not hould so very hard--and
I kissed her upon chake and lips and eyes, and me arms were around her,
and her heart was throbbin' warm against mine, and me soul was in the
siventh heaven.

"After awhile we quieted down a bit, and with me arms shtill around her,
I asked, didn't she think Corrigan was a purtier name nor Murphy, and as
I could not change my name fur her sake, wouldn't she change hers fur

"Thin with the tears shinin' loike shtars in her beautiful eyes, she
raised up her arms, let thim shtale round me neck, and layin' her chake
against me breast, which was throbbin' loike a stone bruise, said, said
she, 'Yis, Barney, darlint.'

"I had niver thought Barney was a very beautiful name before, but jist
then it shtruck upon me ear swater thin marriage bells."

Here Miller interrupted with, "You felt pretty proud just then, did you
not, Barney?"

"The Koohinoor would not hiv made a collar button fur me."

"Don't interrupt him, Miller," interposed Carlin; "let Barney tell us the
rest of the story."

"There was a sofay near by. I drew Maggie to it, sat down and hild her
to me side. She was pale, and we were both sort of trembly loike.

"We did not talk much at first, but after awile Maggie said, suddent,
said she: 'What a liar you are, Barney!'

"And I said 'for why?' And she said 'to say you had niver kissed a woman
since you had lift your ould mother. You have had plinty of practice.'

"'And how do you know,' says I, and thin--but no matter, we had to begin
all over again.

"After awhile I wint away to bid, and talk about your mirages; all that
night there was a convoy of angels around me, and the batein' of their
wings was swater than the echoes that float in whin soft music comes
from afar over still wathers.

"One of the angels had just folded her wings and taken the form of
Maggie, and was jist bend in' over me, whisperin' beautiful loike, whin,
oh murther, I was wakened with a cry of: 'Are ye there now, ye
blackguard?' I opened me eyes, and there stood Mrs. O'Kelly, with a
broomstick over her head, and somethin' in her eye that looked moighty
like a cloudburst.

"'Ye thavin' villin,' said she, 'pertendin' to be a rich miner, and
atin' up a poor woman all the time.' Thin she broke down intoirely and
comminced wailin.

"'Oh, Mr. Corrigan,' she howled through her sobs, 'How could yees come
here and impose upon a unsuspectin' widdie; you know how hard I wurk;
that I am up from early mornin' until the middle of the night, cookin'
and shwapin' and makin' beds, and slavin' loike a black nigger, and----'
by this time she recovered her timper and complated the sintence with:
'If yees don't pay me at once I'll--I'll, I'll--'

"I found breath enough after awhile to tell her to hould on. My
pantaloons were on a chair within aisy rache; I snatched thim up, sayin'
as I did so: 'How much is your bill, Mrs. O'Kelly?'

"'Thray wakes at iliven dollars is thray and thirty dollars, and one
extra day is a dollar and five bits, or altogither, thirty-four dollars
and five bits.'

"I shtill had siveral twinty-dollar paces; I plunged me hand into the
pocket of me pants, saized them all, thin let them drop upon aich other,
all but two, and holdin' these out, said sharply, and still with the
grand air of a millionaire: 'The change, if you plase, Mrs. O'Kelly.'

"She took the money, gazed upon it a moment with a dazed and surprised
look; thin suddenly her face was wrathed in smiles, and as softly as a
woman with her voice (it sounded loike a muffled threshing machine)
could, said: 'Take back your money. Mr. Corrigan, and remain as long as
you plase. I was only jist after playin' a bit of a trick upon yees.
What do yees think I care for a few beggarly dollars?'

"But I could not see it; I remained firm. Again I said: 'The change, if
you plase, Mrs. O'Kelly, and as soon too as convanient.'

"She brought me the change, sayin': 'I'll have your brikfast smokin' hot
for yees, in five minutes, Mr. Corrigan.'

"I put on me clothes and looked out. The storm had worn itself out at
last. I wint down stairs to the dinin' room door, and beckoned to
Maggie. She came to me, and there ware the rale love-light in her
beautiful eyes. I can see her now. She was straight as a pump rod; her
head sat upon her nick like a picture; the nick itsilf was white loike
snow--but niver mind.

"'Come out in the hall a bit.' I whispered, and she come. I clasped her
hand for a moment and said: 'It's goin' home I am, Maggie; I am goin' to
fix me house a little: it will take me forty days to make me
arrangements. If I come thin, will you take me name and go back with

"'I will,' says she.

"This is the sivinteenth of the month, Maggie; the sivinteenth of next
month will be thirty days, and tin more will make it the twinty-sivinth.
If I come thin, will yees go?' I asked.

"'I will, Barney, Dear,' was the answer.

"'Have yees thought it over, and will yees be satisfied, darlint?' I

"'I have, Barney; I shall be satisfied, and I will be a good wife to
yees, darlint,' was the answer.

[Illustration: MAGGIE.]

"Thin I hild out me arms and she sprang into thim. There was an embrace
and a kiss and thin--

"'Goodbye, Maggie!'

"'Good bye, Barney!' and I wint away.

"I wint to a ristaurant and got a cup of coffee, and was jist startin'
fer home, whin a frind come up and said: 'Barney,' said he; 'there's a
man here you ought to go and punch the nose off of.'

"'What fur,' says I.

"'He's a slanderin' of yer,' says he.

"'Who is the man and what is he sayin?' says I.

"'It's Mike Dougherty, the blacksmith,' says he; and he is a sayin' as
how your claim is no account, and that you are a bummer.'

"Me heart was too light to think of quarrelin'; on me lips the honey of
Maggie's kiss was still warm, and what did I care what ony man said. I
merely laughed, and said: 'Maybe he is right,' and wint upon me way."

With this Corrigan ceased speaking. After a moment or two of silence,
Carlin said:

"Well, Barney, how was it in six weeks?"

"I had another mirage thin," said Barney. "I wint up to town; called at
Mrs. O'Kelly's; she mit me, smilin' like, and said: 'Walk in, Mr.
Corrigan!' I said: 'If you please, Mrs. O'Kelly, can I see Miss Murphy?'
There was a vicious twinkle in her eye, as she answered, pointin' to a
nate house upon the hillside, as she spoke.

"'You will find her there, but her name is changed now. She was married
on Thursday wake, to Mr. Mike Dougherty, the blacksmith. A foine man,
and man of property, is Mr. Dougherty.'

"Talk about shtrong impressions! For a moment I felt as though I was
fallin' down a shaft. I----but don't mention it."

Barney was still for a moment, and then said, in a voice almost husky:
"As I came into town that day, all the great pines were noddin,'
shmilin' and stretchin' out their mighty arms, as much as to say: 'We
congratulate you, Mr. Corrigan.' As I turned away from Mrs. O'Kelly's,
it samed to me that ivery one of thim had drawn in its branches and
stood as the hoodlum does whin he pints his thumb to his nose and
wriggles his fingers."

Just then the Potosi whistle rung out on the still night again, the
others answered the call, and the Club, at the signal, retired.


As the pipes were lighted next evening, Carlin said to Barney:
"Corrigan, does the ghost of your La Porte mirage haunt you as Wright's
does him?"

"Not a bit of it," answered Corrigan sharply. "It hurt for awhile, I
confess it, but a year and a half after Maggie was married, I passed her
house one avenin' in the gloaming, and in a voice which I knew well,
though all the swateness had been distilled out of it, this missage came
out upon the air: 'Mike, if yees have got the brat to slape, yees had
better lay him down and come out to your tay. I should loike to get
these supper things put away sometime to-night.' Be dad, there was no
mirage about that, no ravens about that, Wright; it was the charge of
the rale Injun!'"

"Speaking of babies," said Miller nonchalantly, "do you know that about
the most touching scene I ever witnessed was over a baby? It was in
Downieville. California, way back in '51 or '2. You know at that time
babies were not very numerous in the Sierras. There were plenty of men
there who had not seen a good woman, or a baby, for two years or more.
You may not believe it, but you shut the presence of women and children
all out of men's lives, for months at a time, and they contract a
disease, which I call 'heart hunger,' and because of that I suspect that
more whiskey has been drunk in this country, and more killings have
grown out of trifling quarrels, than through all other causes combined.
Without the eyes of women, good women, that he respects, upon a man, in
a little while the wild beast, which is latent in all men's hearts,
begins to assert itself. Because of this, men who were born to be good
and true, have, to kill the unrest within their souls, taken to drink;
the drink has led naturally up to a quarrel; they have got away with
their first fight; the fools around them have praised them for their
'sand'; there has been no look of sorrow and reproach in any honest
woman's eyes to bring them back to their senses; and after such a
beginning, look for them in a year, and, in nine cases out of ten, you
will find that they are lost men.

"But I commenced to tell you about the Downieville baby. It had been
decided that we would have a Fourth of July celebration. There was no
trouble about getting it up. We had a hundred men in camp, either one of
whom could make as pretty a speech as you ever heard; everybody had
plenty of money, and there was no trouble about fixing things to have a
lively time. True, there was no chance for a triumphal car, with a
Goddess of Liberty, and a young lady to represent each State. There was
a good reason for it. There were not thirty young ladies within three
hundred miles of us.

"But we had a big live eagle to represent Sovereignty, and a grizzly
bear as a symbol of Power, which we hauled in the procession; we had
some mounted men, including some Mexican packers on mule back; a vast
variety of flags, and many citizens on foot in the procession. Of course
we had a marshal and his staff, a president of the day, an orator, poet,
reader and chaplain, and last, but not least, a brass band of a few
months' training. There were flags enough for a grand army, and every
anvil in town was kept red hot firing salutes.

"After the parade, the more sedate portion of the people repaired to the
theatre, to hear the Declaration, poem, and oration. The prayer,
Declaration and poem had been disposed of, and the president of the day
was just about to introduce the orator, when a solitary baby but a few
months old, set up a most energetic yell, and continued it for two or
three minutes, the frightened mother not daring in that crowd to supply
the soothing the youngster was evidently demanding. To cause a
diversion, I suppose, the leader of the brass band nodded to the others,
and they commenced to play the 'Star Spangled Banner.' The band had not
had very much more practice than the baby, but the players were doing
the best they could, when a tremendous, big-whiskered miner sprang upon
a back seat, and waving his hat wildly, in a voice like a thunder-roll,
shouted: 'Stop that----d band and give the baby a chance!'

"Nothing like what followed during the next ten minutes had ever been
seen on this earth, since the confusion of tongues transpired among the
builders of Babel's Tower. Men shouted and yelled like mad men,
strangers shook each other by the hand and screamed 'hurrah,' and in the
crowd I saw a dozen men crying like children.

"For a moment every heart was softened by the memories that baby's cries

"The next time you feel provoked because the children shout and shy
rocks as they return from school, you may all remember that could the
world be carried on without children, it would not require more than two
generations to transform men into wild beasts."

When Miller ceased speaking, Ashley remarked: "Miller, yon talk very
wisely on the subject of babies, why have you none of your own?"

Miller waited a moment before answering, and then in an absent-minded
manner said:

"Did you never hear a gilt-edged expert talk familiarly about a mine, as
though he knew all about it, when he did not really know a streak of ore
from east country porphyry?"

At this the others all laughed, and Miller joined in the merriment
heartily, but nevertheless, something in the thoughts which the question
awakened, had its effect upon him, for he was moody and preoccupied for
several minutes. Meanwhile, a spell seemed to be upon the whole Club,
except Brewster, who was reading a pamphlet on "The Creation of Mineral
Veins," and Carlin, who was absorbed in a daily paper.

"Whoever stops to think," proceeded Miller, speaking as much to himself
as to the others, "upon what sorrows the foundations of new States are
laid, how many hearts are broken, how many strong lives are worn out in
the pitiless struggle?

"Where are the men who were the Argonauts of the golden days? The most
of them are gone. Every hill side is marked with their graves. They were
a strong, brave, generous race. They laid the wand of their power on the
barbarism which met them; it melted away at their touch; they blazed the
trails and smoothed the paths, that, unsoiled, the delicate sandals of
civilization might draw near; they rifled the hills and ravines of their
stores of gold, and poured it into the Nation's lap, until every
sluggish artery of business was set bounding; they built temples to
Religion, to Learning, to Justice and to Industry; as they moved on,
cities sprung up in their wake; following them came the enchantments of
home and the songs of children; but for them, what was their portion?
They were to work, to struggle, to be misjudged in the land whence they
came; to learn to receive any blows which outrageous fortune might hurl
at them, without plaint; to watch while States grew into place around
them, and while the frown on the face of the desert relaxed into a smile
at their toil, that toil was simply to be accepted as a matter of course
by the world, and in the severe and self-satisfied civilization of older
States, only pity was to be felt for their ignorance, and only horror
for their rough ways. They were to be path-finders, the sappers and
miners to storm the strong-holds of barbarism; through summer's heat,
and winter's cold, to continue their march, until the final night should
come, and then to sink to a dreamless bivouac under the stars. What
wonder if some became over-wearied! if others grew reckless?"

He had risen and was walking the floor, to and fro, like a caged lion,
as he talked. Going now to the kitchen door, he cried: "Yap, bring some
hot water, some sugar, a nutmeg and some limes, if you have them."

The heathen obeyed, and Miller made seven big, hot whiskey punches. Then
lifting his glass he offered this toast:

"Here's to the Old Boys; to those who worked and suffered and died, but
never complained!"

All rose and drank in silence.


At the next meeting, when the pipes were all lighted, Ashley, turning to
Miller, said:

"You took too gloomy a view of things last night. What you said, or
rather something in your tone, has haunted me ever since. But you were
wrong. The Argonauts will not be forgotten.

"The names of the kings who compelled the building of the pyramids are
mostly matters of conjecture now, but no man who ever gazed upon those
piles of stone that have borne unscarred the desert storms that have
been breaking upon and around them through the centuries, has failed to
think of the tremendous energy of the race that reared those monuments
above the sand; reared them so that the abrasion of the ages avails not
against them.

"One loves to dream of how that race must have looked, there under that
sky, while yet the world was young, and while the energy and beauty of
youth was upon it. There was no steam power to assist, no power drills,
there were only rude, untempered tools. The plain wedge, and the lever
in its more effective form, were about all that was known of mechanics;
still from the quarries of Syene, far up the Nile, those blocks were
wrested, hewed, transported, lifted up and laid in place, and with such
mathematical precision was the work performed, that the ebb and flow of
the centuries have no effect upon the work. While this material work was
going on, in the same realm wise men were putting into a language the
alphabet of the sky, tracing out the procession of the stars and solving
the mystery of the seasons. When we think of Ancient Egypt, it is not of
her kings, but what was wrought out there by brain and hand.

"To-day I was at work on the twenty-four hundred-foot level of the mine.
Around me power drills were working, cars were rattling, cages were
running; three hundred men were stoping, timbering and rolling cars to
and from the chutes and ore-breasts, and in the spectral light I thought
it was a scene for a painter. But while so thinking, for some reason,
there came to me the thought of the one hundred times three hundred men,
who, for a generation, worked on a single pyramid; worked without pay
days, without so much as a kind word, and on poorer fare than one gets
at a fourth-rate miners' boarding house; and, as I reflected over that,
our little work here seemed small indeed.

"So, in estimating Greece, we do not pick out a few men or women to
remember, but we think of the race that made Thermopylæ and Marathon
possibilities, of the men who followed Xenophon, of the women who closed
their hearts and left their deformed offspring to perish in the woods
that Greece should rear no woman who could not bear soldiers, no man who
could not bear arms; of the race so finely strung that poetry was born
of it; that sculpture and eloquence were so perfected in, that to copy
is impossible; that was so susceptible to beauty that it turned justice
aside, and yet that was so valiant that it mastered the world.

"So of Rome! It is not that the great Julius lived that we call it 'The
Imperial Nation.' We stand in awe of it still, not because out of its
millions a few superb figures shine. Rather, we think of the valor that
from a little nucleus widened until it subdued the world; of the ten
thousand fields on which Romans fought and conquered. We think how they
marshaled their armies, and taught the nations how to lay out camps; how
they built roads and aqueducts, that their land might be defended and
the Imperial City sustained; how they carved out an architecture of
their own which the world still clings to in its most stately edifices;
how, from barbarism, they progressed, until they framed a code which is
still respected; how, in literature and the arts, they excelled, and
how, for a thousand years, they were the concernment of the world.

"So of England. Which merits the greater glory, King John or the stern,
half barbarous barons who, with an instinct generations in advance of
their age, circled around their sullen king and compelled him to give to
them 'the great charter?' Through the thousand years that have succeeded
that act, how many individual names can we rescue from the hosts that on
that little isle have lived and died? Not many. But the grand career of
the nation is in the mind forever. How, through struggle after struggle,
the advance has been made; struggles that, though full of errors, knew
no faltering or despair, until at last, for the world, she became the
center and the bulwark of civilization; until in material strength she
had no equal; until the sheen of her sails gave light to all the seas,
and under her flag signal stations were upreared the world around. We do
not remember many men, but there is ever in the mind the thought of
English valor and persistence, and the clear judgment which backed the
valor by land and sea.

"But we need not go abroad; our own land has examples enough. Not many
can call over the names of those who came in the 'Mayflower,' or those
who made up the colonies up and down the Atlantic coast. But the
spectacle of the 'Mayflower' band kneeling, on their arrival, in the
snow and singing a triumphal song, is a picture the tints of which will
deepen in splendor with the ages. We need not call over the names of our
statesmen and warriors; they give but a slight impression of our race.
But when we think how, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, the woods
were made to give place to gardens, fruitful fields and smiling homes;
when we think that the majority of those families had each of them less
to start with than any one of us gets for a month's labor, and yet how
they subdued the land, pressed back the savage, reared and educated and
created a literature for their children, until over all the vast expanse
there was peace, prosperity, enlightenment and joy, then it is that we
begin to grow proud.

"If the Argonauts of the Golden Coast can show that they have wrought as
well, they will not be forgotten. Those who succeed them will know that
they were preceded by a race that was strong and brave and true, and
their memory in the West will be embalmed with the memory of those in
the East who, starting under the spray that is tossed from the white
surf of the eastern sea, with no capital but pluck, hewed out and
embellished the Republic.

"Of course, there have been sorrows; of course, hearts have broken; but
there has been much of triumph also. It is something to have a home in
this Far West; there is something in the hills, the trees, the free air
and action of this region which brings to men thoughts that they would
never have had in other lands. It is not bad sometimes for men to leave
their books and turn to Nature for instruction. Here of all the world
some of the brightest pages of Nature's book are spread open for the
reader. And many a man that others pity because they think his heart
must be heavy, does not ask that pity; does not feel its need. Those
hearts have gathered to themselves delights, which, if not, perhaps, of
the highest order, still are very sweet. Let me give an instance.

"Last year I went to look at a mine down in Tuolumne county, California.
I was the guest of a miner who had lived in the same cabin for more than
twenty years. He was his own cook and housekeeper and seldom had any
company except his books--a fine collection--his daily papers, his gun
and some domestic animals. He had a little orchard and garden. Around
his garden tame rabbits played with his dogs. In explanation, he said:
'They were all babies at the same time and have grown up together.'
While walking with him in his garden, he asked me if I had ever seen a
mountain quail on her nest. At the same moment he parted the limbs of a
shrub, and there, within six inches of his hand, sat a bird, her bright
eyes looking up in perfect confidence into his.

"The place was in the high foothills; there was a space in front of his
cabin. From that point the hills, in steadily increasing waves, swelled
into the great ridges of the higher Sierras, and far away to the east
the blue crest of Mount Bodie stood out clear against the sky.

"It was not strange to me that he loved the place. When within doors he
talked upon every subject with a peculiar terse shrewdness all his own.
He had had many bouts with the world; he knew men thoroughly; he had in
a measure withdrawn himself from them, and found a serener comfort in
his pets, his hills and trees. He had acquired that faculty which men
often do when a great deal alone in the mountains. He did not reason his
way up through the proof of a proposition, but with a clear sagacity
reached the truth at a bound, and left the reasoning for others. He had
his theory of how fissures were originally formed and filled; he had his
opinion of ancient and modern authors; he understood politics well, and
gave brief and true reasons for his belief. In short, he was a
self-appointed ambassador to the court of the hills, to represent all
the world.

"My admiration for him increased the longer I remained with him, for he
knew much of interest to me; but he spoke always in a tone as though he
was revealing only a little of what he knew. I suspect that was the real
state of the case. There was a charm, too, about his manner. Though I
knew that he had suffered many disappointments, if not sorrows, there
was no bitterness. Whatever he did or said, was with a gentle grace of
his own. He was free, alike, from either harshness, egotism or
diffidence. Something of the great calm of the hills around him had
entered into his soul.

"But the greatest surprise was reserved for me to the last. I had to get
up at three o'clock in the morning and walk over a dim trail two or
three miles to a little village, in order to take the stage which passed
the village at five o'clock. When I was ready, my friend said: 'There
are so many trails through the hills you might take the wrong one in the
uncertain light. I will pilot you.'

"When we set out it was yet dark. There was an absolute hush upon the
world. Up through the branches of the great pines, God's lanterns were
swinging as though but just trimmed and lighted, and under the august
roof where they swung, they shone with rays more pure than vestal lamps.
But at length up the east some shafts of light were shot, and soon the
miracle of the dawn began to unfold. It was a June morning and entirely
cloudless. Soon the warm rays of approaching day began to bend over the
hills from the east; the foliage which had been black began to grow
green; the scarlet of the hills shone out where the light touched it;
the sentinel fires above began to grow dim. A little later the hills
began to grow resonant with the manifold voices which they held, and
which commenced to awaken to hail the approaching day.

"Then my sententious companion, as though kindled by the same
influences, opened his lips. He seemed to have forgotten that I was
near; he was answering the greetings of his friends in the woods. I can
only give the faintest idea of what he said, and I grieve over it, for
it was sweeter than music. His words ran something like this:

"'Chirp, chirp; O, my martin, (the swallow's grandmother); as usual you
are up first, to say good morning, the first to hail the beautiful
coming day. Ah, there you are, whistling, my lovely quail, you charming
cockaded glory; and now, my mocking bird, you brown splendor with a flat
nose, where do you get all your voices? Heigh, O! you are up, Mr. Jacob
(woodpecker) up to see if Mrs. Jacob is gathering acorns this morning,
you old miser of the woods, with your black and white clothes and your
thrift worse than a Chinaman's; and now, my morning dove has commenced
its daily drone, growling because breakfast is not ready, I suppose. At
last you have opened your eyes, Mrs. Lark; a nice bird you are to claim
to be an early riser, but you have a cheery voice, nevertheless. Now, my
wren and my oreole, you are making some genuine music, if both of you
together are not as big as one note of an organ. Hist! that was a
curlew's cry from away down on the river's bank, and now you are all
awake and singing, you noisy chatterers, as though your hearts would
burst for joy. Finally, old night-raiding owl, you are saying 'good
night' this morning, you old burglar of the woods.'

"Meanwhile the banners of the dawn had grown more and more bright in the
sky, and as he ceased speaking, the full disc of the sun, lighted with
omnipotent fires, shone full above the hills, with a splendor too severe
for human eyes.

"I had not interrupted my friend during the half hour that he, striding
before me on the trail, had been talking. I half suspected that he had
forgotten that I was near, absorbed as he was in greeting his warblers.
Of course I have not named the birds in their order; nor have I named
half that he greeted; I might as well try to repeat to you all the
scientific terms in one of Professor Stewart's earthquake lectures. But
all that day, and for many days afterwards, his words were ringing in my
ears; and often have I wondered, if, with his thoughts and his
surroundings, he was not with more reason and more peace, passing down
life's trail, than as though he were out in the pitiless world of men,
striving for wealth and for power. Never since have I seen a lonely man
in town, with shy face which revealed that he was unused to the crowds
of the city, purchasing some few little necessaries, and, apparently,
hurrying to get away, that I have not said to myself: 'He has a cabin
somewhere with books and dogs, and with a garden outside, and he knows
every bird in the forest by its morning call.'"

While Ashley was talking, he had unconsciously fixed his eyes upon the
light which shone from a reflector, up through the window from the
hoisting works down the hill, and seemed to forget the presence of any
one near.

As he ceased and looked around, he discovered that all his auditors had
fallen asleep in their chairs, except Yap Sing, who had stolen into the
room. He looked up knowingly, smiled and said:

"You talkie belly nice. Me heap sabbie, clail, chickie, duckie, goosie.
Me cookie lem flirst late, you bettie."

"You be--" said Ashley, and went to bed. The rest, awakened by the
whistles, started up in surprise, and Corrigan said: "I was dramin' of
agles and pacocks and swans and hummin' birds. I must have been afther
atin too much supper."


The next evening as the club gathered around the hearth, Brewster, who,
next to Harding, was the most reticent member of the party, said
apologetically to Ashley:

"It was shabby of us not to give more heed to your story last night, but
the truth with me was, I was very tired. We were cutting out a station
on the 2,300 level of the mine, yesterday; the work was hard, the
ventilation bad, and it was hot and prostrating work. But, I heard most
of your story, nevertheless. While I know nothing of your miner who
lives with his books and birds and dogs and flowers; and hence know
nothing of what storms he has breasted and what heart-aches he has
borne; and, therefore, cannot, in my own mind, fix his place, still, on
general principles, it is man's duty never to accept any rebuff of
unkind fortune as a reason for ceasing to try; but rather he should
struggle on and do the best he can; if needs be dying with the harness
on his back. Moreover, as a rule, it is the easier way. It is in harmony
with nature's first great law, and man seldom errs when he follows the
laws that were framed before the world's foundations were laid. When man
was given his two feet to stand upon; his arms to cleave out for himself
a path and a career, and his brain to be his guide; then with the rich
earth for a field, in the opinion of the Infinite Goodness, he has all
the capital that he required. The opportunities of this land, especially
this free West, with a capacity to plan and work, are enough for any
man. The trouble is, men falter too soon. On that last night of anxiety,
before the New World rose out of the sea to greet the eyes of Columbus;
when his sullen and fear-stricken crews were on the point of mutiny,
suddenly there came to the senses of the great commander, the perfume of
earthly flowers. Soon after the veil of the ocean was rent asunder, and
upon his thrilled eyes there burst a light. Columbus was not the only
man who ever discovered a new world. They are being found daily. I meet
men often on the street and know by something in their faces, that, at
that very moment, the perfume of the flowers of some glory to come is
upon them, and that the first rays of the dawn of a divine light are
commencing to fill with splendor their eyes.

"When the idea of the Alexandrian, after having been transmitted from
mortal to mortal, for more than fifty generations, at last materialized,
and the care worn man who was watching, heard the first sob of
artificial life come from a steam engine, to him was the perfume and the

"When, after generations of turmoil and war, in the deadly double
struggle to assimilate various peoples, and at the same time out of
barbarism to construct a stable and enlightened government; when the
stern old English barons caught the right inspiration, and gathering
around their sovereign, asked him to recognize the rights of the men on
whose valor his throne leaned for safety and to sign Magna Charta; to
them came the perfume and the light.

"When the desire of the colonies, voiceless before, at length through
the pen of Jefferson, found expression in the words: 'We hold these
truths to be self-evident--that all men are created equal; that they are
endowed by their Creater with certain unalienable rights;' then to a
whole nation, yes to the world, came the perfume and the light.

"In public life these emotions are marked, and the world applauds. In
humble life they are generally unnoticed, but they are frequent, and the
enchantment of the perfume becomes like incense, and it is a softer
light that dawns. When the poor man, who lays aside daily but a pittance
from his earnings, finds at last, after months and years, that the sum
has increased until it is certain that he can build a little home for
his wife--a home which is to be all his own--and that he can educate his
children; then the perfume and lights of a new world entrance him, and
in his sphere he is as great as was the dark-eyed Italian.

"In the Bible we read that all the prophets were given to fasting and to
labor, in order to bring the body under subjection to the soul. This is
but typical of what a great soul must submit to, if it would catch the
perfume and the light. The world's wealth rests on labor. Whether a man
tills a garden or writes a book, the harvest will be worth gathering
just in proportion to the soil, and to the energy and intelligence of
the work performed. Columbus could never have discovered a new world by
standing on the sea shore and straining his eyes to the West. The
tempests had to be met; the raging seas outrode; the mutinous crew
controlled. There are tempests, waves and mutineers in every man's path,
and it is only over and beyond them that there comes the perfume and the
light. The lesson taught at Eden's gate is the one that must still be
learned. All that man can gain is by labor, and the sword that guards
the gate flames just as fiercely as of old.

"To the Argonauts was given a duty. They were appointed to redeem a wild
and create a sovereign state. I believe they were a brave, true race.
The proof is, that without the restraint of pure women and without law,
they enforced order. Their energy, also, was something tremendous. After
building up California, they, in great part, made a nucleus for
civilization to gather to in each of half-a-dozen neighboring
Territories. But they had advantages which the men who settled the
Eastern States--the region beyond the Mississippi River, I mean--never
possessed. They had better food to eat, a better climate to live in. If
they did not have capital, they knew a living, at least, could be had
from the nearest gravel bank or ravine, and if they lacked the
encircling love of wife and children, they were spared the sorrow of
seeing dear women wear out lives of hardship and poverty, as has been
seen on all other frontiers in America.

"If some fell by the wayside, it was natural, for human nature is weak
and Death is everywhere; if some in the pitiless struggle failed, they
had no right to cease to try, for when men do that the hope that to them
will come the perfume or that upon their eyes will ever shine the light,
is forever closed."

"All that is good," said Carlin, "but the rule does not always hold
true. There is sometimes a limit to man's capacity to suffer, and his
heart breaks; and still after that his face gives no sign, and there is
no abatement of his energies. In such cases, however, men generally lose
the capacity to reason calmly and chase impossibilities. I saw a case
yesterday. I met a man mounted on a cheap mustang, and leading another
on which was packed a little coarse food, a pick, shovel, pan,
coffee-pot and frying pan. As he moved slowly up C. street, a
friend--himself an Argonaut--clutched me by the arm with one hand, and
with the other pointing to the man on horseback, asked me if I knew him.
Replying that I did not, he said: 'Why, that is "Prospecting Joe"; I
thought everybody knew him.' I told him I had never heard of him, when
he related his story, almost word for word, as follows:

"He came to the far West from some Eastern state in the old, old days.
He was not then more than twenty-three or twenty-four years old.
Physically he was a splendid specimen of a man, I am told. He was,
moreover, genial and generous, and drew friends around him wherever he
went. He secured a claim in the hills above Placerville. One who knew
him at that time told me, that, calling at his cabin one night, he
surprised him poring over a letter written in a fair hand, while beside
him on his rude table lay the picture of a beautiful girl. His heart
must have been warmed at the time, for picking up the picture and
handing it to my friend, he said. 'Look at her! She is my Nora, _my_
Nora. She, beautiful as she is, would in her divinity have bent and
married a coarse mold of clay like myself, and poor, too, as I was; but
her father said: 'Not yet, Joe. Go out into the world, make a struggle
for two years, then come back, and if by that time you have established
that you are man enough to be a husband to a true woman, and you and
Nora still hold to the thought that is in your hearts now, I will help
you all I can. And, mind you, I don't expect you to make a fortune in
two years; I only want you to show that the manhood which I think you
have within you is true.' 'That was square and sensible talk, and it was
not unkind. So I came away.' Then he took the picture and looked fondly
at it for a long time, and said: 'I see the delicious girl as she looked
on that summer's day, when she waved me her last good by. I shall see
her all my life, if I live a thousand years.'

"Well, Joe worked on week days; on Sundays, as miners did in those days,
he went to camp to get his mail and supplies. His claim paid him only
fairly well, but he was saving some money. In eight months he had been
able to deposit twelve hundred dollars in the local bank. One Sunday he
did not receive the expected letter from his Nora, and during the next
hour or two he drank two or three times with friends. He was about to
leave for home, when three men whom he slightly knew, and who had all
been drinking too much, met him and importuned him to drink with them.
He declined with thanks, when one of the three caught him by the arm and
said he must drink.

"At any other time he would have extricated him self without trouble and
gone on his way. But on that day he was not in good humor, so he shook
the man off roughly and shortly told him to go about his own affairs.

"The others were just sufficiently sprung with liquor to take offense at
this, and the result was a terrific street fight. Joe was badly bruised
but he whipped all three of the others. Then he was arrested and ordered
to appear next morning to answer a charge of fighting. He was of course
cleared without difficulty, but it took one-fourth of his deposit to pay
his lawyer. Then the miners gathered around him and called him a hero
and he went on his first spree.

"Next morning when he awoke and thought of as much as he could remember
of the previous day's events, he was thoroughly ashamed. As he went down
to the office of the hotel, in response to an inquiry as to how he felt,
he answered: 'Full of repentance and beer.' A friend showed him the
morning paper with a full account of the Sunday fight and his trial and
acquittal. This was embellished with taking head-lines, as is the custom
with reporters. It cut him to the heart. He knew that if the news
reached his old home of his being in a street fight on Sunday, all his
hopes would be ended. His first thought was to draw his money and take
the first steamer for Panama and New York. He went to the bank and asked
how his account stood, for he remembered to have drawn something the
previous day. He was answered that there was still to his credit $150.
The steamer fare was $275. Utterly crushed, he returned to his claim.
The fear that the news of his disgrace would reach home, haunted him
perpetually and made him afraid to write. He continued to work, but not
with the old hope.

"After some weeks, a rumor came that rich ground had been 'struck' away
to the north, somewhere in Siskiyou county. He drew what money he had,
bought a couple of ponies, one to ride and one to pack, and started for
the new field. Before starting, he confided to a friend that the
previous night he had dreamed of a mountain, the crest of which
glittered all over with gold, and he was going to find it.

"The friend told him it was but a painted devil of the brain, the child
of a distempered imagination, but he merely shook his head and went

"He has pursued that dream ever since. His eyes have been ever strained
to catch the reflection from those shining heights. When he began the
search, his early home and the loving arms which were there stretched
out to him, began to recede in the distance. In a few years they
disappeared altogether. Then his hopes one by one deserted him, until
all had fled except the one false one which was, and still is, driving
him on. Youth died and was buried by the trail, but so absorbed was he
that he hardly grieved. As Time served notice after notice upon him; as
his hair blanched, his form bent and the old sprightliness went out of
his limbs, he retired more and more from the haunts of men; more and
more he drew the mantle of the mountains around him. But his eyes, now
bright with an unnatural splendor, were still strained upon the shining
height. There were but a few intervening hills and some forests that
obstructed his view. A little further on and the goal would be reached.
Last night he was in his cups and he told my friend that this time he
would 'strike it sure,' that the old man would make his showing yet,
that he would yet go back to the old home and be a Providence to those
he loved when a boy.

"Poor wretch. There is an open grave stretched directly across his
trail. On this journey or some other soon, he will, while his eyes are
still straining towards his heights of gold, drop into that grave and
disappear forever.

"Some morning as he awakens, amid the hills or out upon the desert,
there will be such a weariness upon him that he will say, 'I will sleep
a little longer,' and from that sleep he will never waken.

"Heaven grant that his vision will then become a reality and that he may
mount the shining heights at last.

"Of course it is easy to say that he was originally weak, but that is no
argument, for human nature is prone to be weak. His was a high-strung,
sensitive, generous nature. He never sought gold for the joy it would
give him, but for the happiness he dreamed it would give to those he
loved. His Nora was a queen in his eyes and he wanted to give her, every
day, the surroundings of a queen. He made one mistake and never rallied
from it. Had the letter come that fatal Sunday from Nora, as he was
expecting it, or had he left for home half an hour earlier, or had he
been of coarser clay, that day's performance would have been avoided, or
would have been passed as an incident not to be repeated, but not to be
seriously minded. But he was of different mold, and then that was a blow
from Fate. It is easy enough to say that there is nothing in that thing
called luck. Such talk will not do here on the Comstock. There is no
luck when a money lender charges five dollars for the use of a hundred
for a month and exacts good security. He gets his one hundred and five
dollars, and that is business.

"But in this lead where ore bodies lie like melons on a vine, when ore
is reported in the Belcher and in the Savage, when Brown buys stock in
the Belcher and Rogers buys in the Savage; when the streak of ore in the
Belcher runs into a bonanza and Brown wakes up rich some morning, and
when the streak of ore in the Savage runs into a Niagara of hot water
which floods the mine and Rogers's stock is sold out to meet an
assessment, it will not do to call Brown a shrewd fellow and Rogers an

"Still, I do not object to the theory that a man should always keep
trying, even if the lack is against him, because luck may change
sometime, and if it does not, he sleeps better when he knows that with
the lights before him he has done the best he could. A man can stand
almost anything when his soul does not reproach him as he tries to go to

"Then, too, man is notoriously a lazy animal, and unless he has the
nerve to spur himself to work, even when unfortunate, he is liable to
fail and get the dry rot, which is worse than death.

"But my heart goes out in sympathy when I think of the glorified
spirits, which on this coast have failed and are failing every day,
because from the first an iron fortune has hedged them round and baffled
their every effort, struggle as they would."

Carlin ceased speaking, and the silence which prevailed in the Club for
a moment was broken by Miller, who said: "Don't worry about them,
Carlin. If they do fail they have lots of fun in trying."

"I would grave more for your mon Joe," interposed Corrigan, "did I not
remember Mrs. Dougherty, who married the gintleman of properthy, and
thin your Joe war a fraud onyway. What war there in a bit of a scrap to
make a mon grave himself into craziness over it?"

"Your stock-buying illustration is not fair, Carlin, for that is only a
form of gambling at best," suggested Brewster.

The club winced under this a little, for every member dabbled in stocks
sometimes, except Brewster and Harding.

For two evenings Harding had been scribbling away behind the table, and
during a lull in the conversation Ashley asked him what he had been
writing. "Letters?" suggested Ashley.

"No, not letters," answered Harding, sententiously.

"What is it, then," asked Miller; "won't you read it to us?"

"Yes, rade it, rade it," said Corrigan, and the rest all joined in the

"You won't laugh?" said Harding, inquiringly.

They all promised, and Harding read as follows:

                THE PROSPECTOR.

    How strangely to-night my memory flings
    From the face of the past its shadowy wings,
    And I see far back through the mist and tears
    Which make the record of twenty years;
    From the beautiful days in the Golden State,
    When life seemed sure by long leases from Fate;
    From the wondrous visions of "long ago"
    To the naked shade that we call "now."

    Those halcyon days! There were four with me then--
    Ernest and Ned, Wild Tom and Ben.
    Now all are gone; Tom was first to die.
    I held his hands, closed his glazed eye;
    And many a tear o'er his grave we shed
    As we tenderly pillowed his curly head
    In the shadows deep of the pines, that stand
    Forever solemn, forever fanned
    By the winds that steal through the Golden Gate
    And spread their balm o'er the Golden State.

    And the others, too, they all are dead.
    By the turbid Gila perished Ned;
    Brave, noble Ernest, he was lost
    Amid Montana's ice and frost;
    And out upon a desert trail
    Our Bennie met the spectre pale.

    And I am left--the last of all--
    And as to-night the white snows fall,
    As barbarous winds around me roar,
    I think the long past o'er and o'er--
    What I have hoped and suffered, all,
    From twenty years rolls back the pall,
    From the dusty, thorny, weary track,
    As the tortuous path I follow back.

    In my childhood's home they think me, there,
    A failure, or lost, till my name in the prayer
    At eve is forgot. Well, they cannot know
    That my toil through heat, through tempest and snow,
    While it seemed for naught but a struggle for pelf,
    Was more for them, far more, than myself.

    Ah, well! As my hair turns slowly to snow
    The places of childhood more distantly grow;
    And my dreams are changing. 'Tis home no more,
    For shadowy hands from the other shore
    Stretch nightly down, and it seems as when
    I lived with Tom, Ned, Ernest and Ben.

    And the mountains of Earth seem dwindling down,
    And the hills of Eden, with golden crown,
    Rise up, and I think, in the last great day,
    Will my claim above bear a fire assay?
    From the slag of earth, and the baser strains,
    Will the crucible show of precious grains
    Enough to give me a standing above,
    Where in temples of Peace rock the cradles of Love?

"That is good, but it is too serious by half," Miller said, critically.
"What is a young fellow like you doing with such a melancholy view of

"It's a heap better to write such things for pleasure in boyhood than to
have to feel them for a fact in old age," said Wright.

"I say, Harding, have you measured all the faet in that poem?" remarked
Corrigan, good-naturedly.

"We have been talking too seriously for two or three evenings and it is
influencing Harding," was Miller's comment.

Brewster thought it was a good way for Sammie to spend his evenings. It
would give him discipline, which would help him in writing all his life.


The next evening Wright had business down town.

"Carlin was right last night," began Miller, "when he said that all men
were naturally lazy. Laziness is a fixed principle in this world. I can
prove it by my friend Wand down at Pioche.

"When he was not so old as he has been these last few years, he made a
visit to San Francisco, and one day, passing a building on Fourth
street, saw within several hives of bees, evidently placed there to be
sold. Some whim led him within the building and, from the man in charge,
he learned that in California, because of the softer climate, bees
worked quite nine months in the year; that a good swarm of bees would
gather a certain number of pounds of honey in a season, which sold
readily at a certain price, making a tremendous percentage on the cost
of the bees, which was, if I remember correctly, one hundred dollars per
hive. The idea seemed to strike Wand. He had fifteen hundred dollars,
and all that day he was mentally estimating how much money could be made
out of fifteen swarms of bees in a year. The figures looked exceedingly
encouraging. They always do, you know, when your mind is fixed upon a
certain business which you want to engage in.

"That evening Wand happened to meet a friend who had just come in from
Honolulu. This friend was enthusiastic over the Hawaiian Islands. There
was perpetual summer there and ever-blooming flowers. Before one flower
cast its leaves, others on the same tree were budding. Their glory was
ever before the eyes and their incense ever upon the air.

"Wand fell asleep that night trying to estimate how much money a swarm
of bees would make a year in a land of perpetual summer. The conclusion
was that next morning Wand bought twelve hives of bees, and that
afternoon sailed with them for Honolulu.

"He found a lovely place for his bees, and saw with kindling pleasure
that they readily assimilated with the new country and went to work with
apparent enthusiasm.

"The bees worked steadily until, in their judgment, it was time for
winter to come. Then they ceased to work, remained in their hives until
they ate up their hoarded wealth, and then, as Wand expresses it, 'took
to the woods.'

"He borrowed the money necessary to pay his passage to San Francisco,
and ever since has sworn that bees are like men, 'natural loafers,' that
will not work unless they are forced to. He believes that the much
lauded ant would be the same way if it were not urged on to work
perpetually by the miser's fear of starvation."

Carlin suggested that the question be tested nearer home, and called
out, "Yap Sing!"

The Mongolian came in from the kitchen and Carlin interrogated him.

"Yap, do you like to work?"

"Yes, me heap likee workee."

"How many hours a day do you like to work, Yap?"

"Maybe eight hour, maybe ten hour, maybe slixteen hour."

"We give you forty dollars a month. Would you work harder if we paid you
fifty dollars?"

"No. Me thinkee not," answered Yap, adroitly. "You sabbie, you hire me,
me sellee you my time. Me workee all the slame, forty doll's, fifty
doll's, one hundred doll's. No diffelence."

"Yap, suppose you were to get $3,000, would you work then?"

"Oh, yes. Me workee all the slame, now."

"Suppose, Yap, you had $5,000--what then?"

"Me workee all the slame."

"Do you ever buy stocks?"

"Slum time buy lettle; not muchee."

"Suppose, Yap, that some time stocks would go up and make you $20,000,
would you work then?"

The Chinaman, with eyes blazing, replied vehemently: "Not one d----d

The Club agreed that Carlin had pretty well settled a vexed question,
that conditions which would make both the bee and the Chinaman idlers,
would be apt to very soon cause the Caucasian to lie in the shade.

"And yet," mused Brewster, "there are mighty works going on everywhere.
This Nation to-day makes a showing such as this world never saw before.
From sea to sea, for three thousand miles, the chariot wheels of toil
are rolling and roaring as they never did in any other land. The energy
that is exhausted daily amounts to more than all the world's working
forces did a hundred years ago. The thing to grieve about is not that
there is not enough work being performed, but that in this intensely
practical, and material age, the gentler graces in the hearts of men are
being neglected. In the race for wealth the higher aspirations are being
smothered. If from the 'tongue-less past' there could be awakened the
silent voices, the cry which would be heard over all others would be: 'I
had some golden thoughts; I meant to have given them expression, but the
swiftly moving years with their cares were too much for me, and I died
and made no sign.'

"If there is such a thing as a ghost of memory, all the aisles of the
past are full of wailing voices, wailing over facts unspoken, over
eloquence that died in passionate hearts unuttered, over divine poems
that never were set to earthly music. Aside from native indolence, most
men are struggling for bread, and when the day's work is completed,
brain and hand are too weary for further effort. So the years drift by
until the zeal of young ambition loses its electric thrill; until cares
multiply; until infirmities of body keep the chords of the soul out of
tune, and the night follows, and the long sleep. There were great
soldiers before Achilles or Hector, but there were no Homers, or if
there were, they were dissipated fellows, or they were absorbed in
business, or, under the clear Grecian sky, it was their wont to dream
the beautiful days away, and so, no sounds were uttered, of the kind
which, booming through space, strike at last on the immortal heights,
and there make echoes which thrill the earth with celestial music ever
after. If fortune had not made an actor of Shakespeare, and if his
matchless spirit, working in the line of his daily duties, had not felt
that all the plays offered were mean and poor, as wanting in dramatic
power as they were false to human nature, and so was roused to fill a
business need, the chances are a thousand to one that he 'would have
died with all his music in him,' and would, to-day, have been as
entirely lost in oblivion as are the boors who were his neighbors. Just
now there is not much hope for our own country, and probably will not be
for another century. Present efforts are all for wealth and power and
are almost all earthly. Everything is calculated from a basis of coin.
Before that, brains are cowed, and for it Beauty reserves her sweetest
smiles. The men who are pursuing grand ideas with no motive more selfish
than to make the masses of the world nobler, braver and better, or to
give new symphonies to life, are wondrously few. There are splendid
triumphs wrought, but they are almost every one material and practical.

"The men who created the science of chemistry dreamed of finding the
elixir of life; the modern chemist pursues the study until he invents a
patent medicine or a baking powder, and then all his energies are
devoted to selling his discovery.

"In its youthful vitality the Nation has performed wonders, and from the
masses individuals have solved many of nature's mysteries and bridled
many elemental forces.

"The winds have been forced to swing open the doors to their caves and
show where they are brewed; the lightnings have submitted to curb and
rein; the ship goes out against the tempest, carried forward on its own
iron arms; the secret of the sunlight has been fathomed and a
counterfeit light created; the laws which govern sound have been
mastered until the human voice now thrills a wire and is caught with
perfect distinctness sixty miles away, and a thousand other such
triumphs have been achieved.

"But no deathless poem has been written, no immortal picture has been
called to life on canvas; no master hand has touched the cold stone and
transfigured it into something which seems ready, like the fabled statue
of the old master, to warm into life and smiles.

"Souls surcharged at first with celestial fire have waited for the work
of the bodies to be finished, that they might materialize into words of
form and splendor, waited until the tenement around them fell away and
left them unvoiced, to seek a purer sphere, and a generation, three
generations have died with their deepest tints unpainted, their sweetest
music unsung.

"This is one of the penalties attached to the laying of the foundations
of new States. There is too much to be accomplished, too many purely
material struggles to be made, and so hearts are stifled and souls,
glowing with celestial fervor, are forbidden an altar on which to kindle
their sacred flame.

"England struggled a thousand years before a man appeared to shame
wealth, power and titles with the majesty of a divine mind. Perhaps it
will be as long in the United States before some glorified spirit will
appear to show by example that the things which this generation is
struggling most for are mere dust, which, when obtained, are but Dead
Sea apples to the lips of hope."

"But Brewster," said Harding, "do you not think that a good miner is of
more use to the world than a bad sculptor?"

"Suppose," said Carlin, "we were all to stop this four dollars a day
business of ours and go to writing poetry, who would pay the Chinaman
and settle the grocery bills at the end of the month?"

"Were not the Argonauts making pretty good use of their time," asked
Miller, "when in twelve years they dug up and gave to the world nearly a
thousand millions of dollars and caused such a change in the business of
the country as comes to the fainting man's circulation through a
transfusion of healthy blood into his veins?"

"Did you not tell us last evening," said Ashley, "that when a poor man
earned a home for his wife and babies, that to him came the perfume and
the light?"

"I carved out some beautiful stories and shpoke any amount of illegint
poethry to Maggie Murphy, but it would not do," said Corrigan.

"There is a mirage before Brewster's eyes to-night," said Miller; "the
business of most men is to earn bread."

Then Brewster, bristling up, responded:

"My answer to all of you is this: Man's first duty is to provide for
himself, and for those dependent upon him, by honest toil, either of
hand or brain, or both. For a long time you have each worked eight hours
out of the twenty-four; perhaps eight hours more have been absorbed in
eating and sleeping. What have you done with the other eight hours? You
are miners. You can set timbers in line, you can lie on your backs and
hit a drill above you with perfect precision; but could you make a
draught of a mine, or clothe a description of one in good language on
paper? You look upon a piece of ore, but can you test it and tell how
much it is worth? These are all legitimate parts of your business as
miners, and I refer to them merely to illustrate that in the excitements
of this city, and the dream of getting rich in stock speculations, you
have not only neglected your better natures, but have failed to
thoroughly accomplish yourselves in your real business. You can see what
you have actually lost, but you cannot estimate the pleasure you have
been denying yourselves. Then when you are too old to work, what
amusements and diversions are you preparing for old age?"

"For that, matter," said Miller, "ask the man who fell down the Alta
shaft last week, 800 feet to the sump, and the pieces of whose body,
that could be found, were sewed up in canvas to be brought to the

Then there was a silence for several minutes until a freight train, with
two locomotives (a double header), came up the heavy grade from Gold
Hill and, when opposite the house of the Club, both locomotives
whistled. At this Corrigan said:

"Hear those black horses neigh! What a hail they give to the night! What
a power they have under their black skins! I wonder if they don't think
sometimes, the off-colored monsters."

"If the steam engine has not reflective faculties it ought to have,"
said Harding. "The highest pleasures which a man, in his normal state,
can have are the approving whispers of his own soul. If in the iron
frame of the steam engine there could be hidden a soul, what whispers
would thrill it in these days! Methinks they would be something like

"'When I was born Invention gave to Progress a child which was to be to
the modern world what the Genii were to the ancient world, except that I
am real, while the Genii were but dreams. In me man finds the
materialization of a dream which haunted mortals through the centuries,
while the world was slowly pressing onward to a better state. At my
birth men were glad to give to me their burdens, because I could carry
them without fatigue. They thought me but a dumb slave to do their
bidding; they saw that I could add greatly to their achievements by
enabling them to overcome heavy matter, and with tireless feet to chase
the swift hours. I cannot add to man's actual years, but I can make one
hour for him equal to a day in the olden time. At first my work was
confined to the closely peopled regions. But at length I was pushed out
beyond the settlements of men, and then something of the divinity within
me began to assert itself. Savage man and the wild beast retired before
me; when the path was made for me into the immemorial hills, before my
scream the scream of the eagle died away. The lordly bird spread his
wings to seek more impenetrable crags. Following in my wake,
civilization came; homes sprang up, temples to art and to learning were
upreared, and on the air, which but a year before was startled only by
barbarous cries, there fell the benediction of children's voices, as
with swinging satchels in their hands, they sang their songs going to
and returning from schools. Then man began to discover that there was
more to me than polished iron and brass; more than a heart of fire and a
breath of steam. In my headlight they began to discover a faint
reflection of the Infinite light, and in whispers began to say: "It is
not a dumb slave; rather it is to Progress an evangel." As my power
increased, it was seen that as the wild man and wild beast fled before
me, old bigotries and old superstitions likewise fled, snarling like
wolves, from my path; man moved up to a higher plane, and as he
comprehended himself better, his thoughts were led upward; with enlarged
ideas and deeper reverence, he turned to the contemplation of the First
Great Cause who thrilled the dull matter of the universe with His own
celestial light and order, and established that nothing was made in
vain. And now a path is to be made down where the terrible Spaniard
wrested an empire from the Aztecs; where, with the sword, he hewed down
the altars on which human sacrifices were made, and built up new altars
consecrated to Christianity. The people there will gather around me and
rejoice. They think only of material things; how I will carry their
burdens, take from them the fatigue of travel and increase their trade.
They do not know that mine is a higher mission; that as I do their work
there is to gradually fade from the faith that holds them, the
superstitions which for centuries have environed their better selves and
benumbed their grander energies. They will not realize, what is true,
that angels still walk with men; that it is the near presence of the
angels of Progress, Truth, Free Thought, Mercy and Eternal Justice, all
rejoicing, which will give the thrill to their hearts. As yet my work
has hardly commenced. It is not yet fifty years since I became a power
in the world. Wait until I am better understood, until the smooth paths
are made for me through all the wilderness, over all the rivers and
hills, and I am given dominion over all the deep seas, that I may
swiftly bring together the children of men, till gradually the nations
will take on common thoughts and return to that tongue which was
universal when the world was young, and, as yet, man walked in the clear
image of his Creator. Then armies will melt away before me as savage
tribes now do; then no more cannons will be cast, no more swords
fashioned. Then, through my example, labor in the walks of peace will
become exalted; then the thirst for gold will cease, because I will till
the field, drive the loom, and take from man all that is servile or
gross in toil; and gradually the wild beast in men's souls will be bred
out, and in the peace of perfect brotherhood men will possess the earth,
and I will be the good angel that will take away the burdens.'"

As if in response to the words of Harding, just as he finished, the
whistles all up and down the great lode sounded for the eleven o'clock
change of shift, and the Club retired with this remark from Corrigan:

"Harding, they heard what yez was remarkin' upon, and now hear the whole
row of them cheerin' your spache."


Just after the lamps were lighted the next evening the door opened and
the Professor, Colonel Savage and Alex Strong came in. The greetings
were warm all around, and at once conversation turned upon stocks. The
Professor insisted that the first great showing was to be made in the
south end mines, Alex still believed in Overman, the Colonel was
sanguine over Utah, Ashley asked the opinion of the others on Sierra
Nevada. The general sentiment was that if Skae had any real indication
there the Bonanza firm would gobble it up before any outsider could

Wright still inclined to the belief that the water must be conquered
pretty soon in the Savage and that there would be a showing that would
make every servant girl and hostler on the coast want some Savage.

So the conversation ran on for an hour, until something was said which
turned the conversation upon the strange characters which had been met
on the western coast. At length the Colonel settled down for a talk, and
the others became willing listeners.

"I have met many royal people on this coast," began the Colonel. "Royal,
though they never wore crowns, at least crowns not visible in the dim
light of this world. The emblems of their royalty were hidden from most
mortal eyes. In narrow spheres they lived and died, and only a few,
besides God, knew of their sovereignty. One of these was


"His last years were passed in Plumas and Lassen counties, California.
When he came there his hair was already silvered; he must have been
fifty years of age.

"No one knew his antecedents. In the excitements and free-heartedness of
those days not many questions were asked. Besides the young and hopeful
there were many who had sought the new land as a balm for domestic
troubles; as a spot where former misfortunes might be forgotten, where
early mistakes might, in earnest lives, be buried out of sight. With the
rest came Zack Taylor. From the first that region seemed to possess a
charm for him. No person can imagine the splendor in natural scenery of
Plumas county. It must be seen to be comprehended. The mountains are
tremendous; the valleys are so fair that they seem like pictures in
their mountain frames. And so they are. They are the work of a Master's
hand, whose work never fades. His signet is upon them as it was
indented, when, in the long ago, it was decided that at last the earth
was fitted to be a habitation for man.

"The forests are such forests as are no where seen in this world, except
in the Pacific States of the United States. There is no exaggeration in
this. Ordinary pines will make ten thousand feet of lumber, and they
stand very near together, those mighty pines of the Sierras.

"The panoramas that are unrolled there when nature is in the
picture-making mood are most gorgeous. Some that I saw there linger
fresh upon my mind still. They come to me sometimes when I am down in
the depths of the mine, and for a moment I forget the heat and the

"As a rule, all the summer long, the skies are of a crystal clearness;
the green of the hill tops melts into the everlasting incandescent white
beyond, and there is no change for days and weeks at a time, except as
the green of the day fades into the shadows of the night, and the gold
of the sunlight gives place to the silver of the stars.

"It was to this region that Zack Taylor came and made his abode. About
him was an air of perfect contentment. Besides his blanching hair, there
were deep lines about his face, which were an alphabet from which could
be spelled out stories of past excitements and trials, but if sorrows
and sufferings were included, the firm lips gave no sign, and the
bright, black eyes were ever kindly. There were rumors that he had been
a soldier, but the general impression was, that from childhood, he had
been tossed about on the frontier. He had the moods, the gestures and
dialect of the frontier. He liked wild game cooked upon a camp fire,
and, in frontier phrase, he could 'punish a heap of whisky.'

"He was at home everywhere; in the saloons his coming was always
welcome; when he met a lady on the street, no matter whether she was
young or old, fair or ugly, he always doffed his hat, and the few
children of those early days looked upon him as a father--or an angel.
He had a cheery, hearty, winsome way about him which drew all hearts to

"When I saw him last the gray hair had turned to snowy white; the scars
of time had grooved deeper furrows on cheek and brow, the old elastic,
merry way had grown sedate, but the black eyes were still kindly and
bright. At that time he lived, a welcome pauper, on the citizens of
Susanville, in Lassen county.

"When hungry he went where he pleased and got food; when he needed
clothes they were forthcoming in any store where he applied for them.
When, sometimes, merchants would in jest banter him for money on account
of what he owed, his way was to softly suggest to them that if the
patronage of the place did not, in their judgments, justify them in
remaining; there was no constitutional objection that he was aware of to
prevent their making an auction.

"One fearfully cold winter's night a few of us were sitting around the
stove in the Stewart House, in Susanville, when old Zack came in. The
circle was widened for him, and as he drew up to the fire, some one
said: 'Zack, tell us about that night's work when you tended bar for the
poker players?'

"'Itwusdown on Noth Fok (North Fork) of Feather River, 'bout '52 or '53,
I disremember which,' began Zack. 'It wus in the winter, and it being
too cold for mining, ther boys wus all in camp. Thar wus no women thar,
least ways, no ladies, and women as isn't ladies--but we dun no who thar
mothers wus, nor how much they has suffered, and we haint got no
business to talk about 'em. But, as I wus sayin', the boys wus all in
camp, and thar wus lots of beans and whisky and sich things, and we hed
good times, you bet!

"Jake Clark kept a saloon thar, which wus sort of headquarters, and
sometimes when the boys got warmed up on Jake's whisky thar wus lively
times. Well, I _should_ remark. It wussent much wonder, neither, for
Jake made his whisky in the back room, made it out of old boots,
akerfortis and sich things, and if you believe me, a fire assay of that
beverage would have shown 93 per cent, of cl'ar hell. Thar wus three or
four copies of Shakespeare in camp, and everbody got a Sacermento
_Union_ every week when the express came in; so we kept posted solid.
Speakin' of that, if folks only jest stick to Shakespeare and then
paternize one first-class paper, sich as the old _Union_ wus, and read
'em, in the long run they'd have a heap more sense.

"'Of course the boys would play poker sometimes. Men will always do that
when the reproach in honest women's eyes is taken away, and I have
heard, now and then, of one who would play in spite of good influences.
At least thar is rumors to that effect.

"'Well, they wus playin' one night, five or six of them, inter Jake's
saloon. It got to be about ten o'clock, and Jake says to me, says he,
'Zack, them fellers is playin' and will most likely run it all night. By
mornin' Tom D. will have the hul pile, and Tom never pays nuthin'. I'm
goin' home. You run the ranch, Zack, and when they call for it you give
'em whisky outer this 'ere keg, so if they never pay we won't lose too
much." This he told me in a low voice behind the bar, in confidence

"'Jake started for home and I went on watch. Thar wus lots of coin and
dust on the table and the boys wus playin' high. I stood behind the bar
and watched 'em, and as I watched I said to myself, says I, "The
doggoned cusses! They come here and bum Jake's fuel and lights, and
drink his whisky, and don't pay nuthin'. It's too bad."

"'Then an idea struck me. I had a log of fat pine in the back yard. It
wus fuller of pitch than Bill Pardee is of religion in revival times,
and I thought of somethin'. I went out, got a lot of the pitch, warmed
it in the candle down behind the bar and rubbed it all along the bottom
of my hands, so, and then I waited developments.

"'Pretty soon thar wus a call for whisky. I started out with a bottle in
one hand and a glass in the other, and, setting down the glass first, I
said, "'Ere's your glass," and settin' down the bottle, said, "'Ere's
your whisky."

"'They drank all 'round, when Harlow Porter said: "This is mine, Zack."
I argued the pint with him and asked him how a man could furnish a
house, lights, fires and whisky, and keep it up if nobody paid? They
told me to "hire a hall," and all laughed. It wus only old Zack, you

"'But I did tolerable well after all. When I sat down the glass half a
dollar stuck to my hand, and when I sat down the whisky the other hand
caught up a two and a half piece.

"'The playin' went on, and I warmed my hands. By and by more whisky wus
called for. I responded. Once more I said, '"Ere's your glass," and
"'Ere's your whisky." They drank, and then Henry Moore said to Hugh
Richmond: "Why don't you ante?" "I have," wus Hugh's reply; "I jist put
up five dollars." "No you didn't," said Henry. "Yes I did," said Hugh,
hotly. "You're a liar," said Miller, and then biff! biff! biff! came the

"'I got down behind the bar, for some of them cusses would shoot if half
a chance wus given them. The truth wus, I had picked up the five with my
pitch when I said "'Ere's your whisky."

"'The boys got hold and stopped the row and the players proceeded. The
oftener they drank the wurs bookkeepers they became, and all the time I
wus doin' reasonably well.

"'Durin' the night I took in eighty-three dollars and seen a beautiful

"'I didn't tell of it, though, for nigh onto three year, 'cept to Jake.
It nearly killed me to keep it to myself. But Lord! wouldn't they have
made it tropic for me if they'd ever dropped on the business! Well, I
should remark!'

"When Zack finished his story I asked if he would not take something.

"He remarked that he was not particularly proud and, besides, the
weather was 'powerful sarchin';' he believed he would.

"He swallowed a stiff drink, returned to the stove, resumed his seat,
began and told the whole story over, except that the whisky was having
its effect, and as he drew towards the close he commenced to exaggerate,
and wound up by the assertion that he took in one hundred and sixty
dollars and saw two tremendous fights.

"Some one else asked him to drink. He accepted, then returned to his
chair and apparently fell into a doze. After a few minutes, however, he
aroused himself and began again, as follows:

"'It wus down on North Fok of Feather River, in '52 or '53, I
disremember which. It was in the winter, and it bein' too cold for
minin' ther boys wus all in camp. Thar wus no women thar, leastways no
ladies, and women as is no ladies--but we dun no.'

"Here I arose and slipped out of the room. Returning about fifteen
minutes later. I found old Zack gesticulating wildly and in a high key

"'I everlastingly broke the boys with my pitch. I took in _three hundred
and forty-three dollars_ and seen three the _dod-durndest fights in the

"But it was not this that I began to tell. Three or four years before
Zack's death, a courier announced to the people of Susanville that three
days before, out near Deep Hole, on the desert eighty miles east of
Susanville, a man had been killed by renegade Pi Ute Indians. The
announcement made only a temporary impression, for such news was often
brought to Susanville in those days. In a very few years eighty Lassen
county men were murdered by Indians.

"A few days after the news of this particular murder was brought in,
Susanville began to be vexed by the evident presence of a mysterious
thief. If a hunter brought in a brace of grouse or rabbits and left them
exposed for a little while they disappeared.

"If a string of trout were caught from the river and were left anywhere
for a few minutes they were lost. Gardens were robbed of fruit and
vegetables; blankets, flannels and groceries disappeared from stores.
The losses became unbearable at length, everybody was aroused and on the
alert, but no thief could be discovered, though the depredations still
went on. This continued for days and weeks, until the people became
desperate, and many a threat was made that when the thief should finally
be caught, in disposing of him the grim satisfaction of the frontier
should be fully enjoyed. Old Zack was especially fierce in his

"One morning a horseman dashed into town, his mustang coming in on a
dead run. Reining up in front of the main hotel, he sprang down from his
horse and to the people who came running to see what was the matter, he
explained that half a mile from town, around the bend of the hill, in
the old deserted cabin, he had found the widow of the man killed weeks
before by the Indians; had found her and a nest of babies, and none of
them with sufficient food or clothing.

"When the story was finished, men and women--half the population of the
village--made a rush for the cabin. It was nearly concealed from view
from the road by thick bushes, but they found the woman there and four
little children. The woman seemed like one half dazed by sorrow and
despair, but when questioned, she replied that she had been there five
weeks. 'But how have you lived?' asked half a dozen voices in concert.
Then the woman explained that she and her children would have starved,
had it not been for a kind old gentleman who brought her everything that
she required.

"'Indeed,' she added, 'he brought me many things that I did not need,
and which I felt that I ought not to accept, but he over-persuaded me,
telling me that I did not know how rich he was, that his supplies were
simply inexhaustible.

"When asked to describe this man, she began to say: 'He is a heavy-set
old gentleman; wears blue clothes; his hair is white as snow, but his
eyes are black, and--'but she was not allowed to go any farther, for
twenty voices, between weeping and laughing, cried 'Old Zack!'

"The widow and her children were taken to the village, a house with its
comforts provided for them, and there was, thenceforth, no more trouble
from the ubiquitous thief.

"Living on charity himself, with the wreck of a life behind him and
nothing before him but the grave, which he was swiftly nearing, this
great-hearted, old heavenly bummer and Christian thief, had taken care
of this helpless family, and had done it because despite the dry rot and
the whisky which had benumbed his energies, his soul, deep down, was
royal to the core.

"It is true that he had robbed the town to minister to the woman and her
babies, but in the books of the angels, though it was written that he
was a thief, in the same sentence it was also added, 'and God bless
him,' and these words turned to gold even as they were being written.

"When Old Zack was asked why he did not make the facts about the family
known, after waiting a moment he replied:

"'You see I've been tossed about a powerful sight in my time; have drank
heaps of bad whisky; have done a great many no-account things and not a
great many good ones. Since I wus a boy I have never had chick or kin of
my own. I met the woman and her babies up by the cabin; they wus as
pitiful a sight as ever you seen; and besides, the woman wus jist about
to go stark mad with grief and hunger and anxiety and weariness. I seen
she must have quiet and that anxiety about her children must be soothed
some way. Then I did some of the best lyin' you ever heard. I got her to
eat some supper and waited until the whole outfit wus fast asleep. I
watched 'em a little while and then I got curis to know what kind of a
provider I would have made for a family had I started out in life
different, and that wus all there wus about it.'

"Is it a wonder, then, that when the old man died his body was dressed
in soft raiment, placed in a costly casket, and that, preceded by a
martial band playing a requiem, all the people followed sorrowingly to
the grave; and that, as they gently heaped the sods above his breast
they sent after him into the Beyond heartfelt 'all-hails and

"You see your man through colored spectacles, Colonel," spoke up
Brewster. "From your description, I think there was more of the border
deviltry in the old man than there was true royalty. Life had been a
joke to him always; he played it as a joke to the end. One such a man
was entertainment to the village; had there been a dozen more like him
they would have become intolerable nuisances?"

"That," said the Colonel, "only shows how miserable are my descriptive
powers. There are not a dozen other such men as old Zack Taylor was
among all the fourteen hundred millions of people on this sorrowful

"No," interposed Miller, "you told the story well enough, but it was
only descriptive of a good-humored bummer at best--of one who was
warm-hearted without a conscience, of one who was more willing to work
to perpetrate a joke on others than to honorably earn the bread that he

"I will tell you of a royal fellow that I knew. It was Billie Smith. He
lived in Eureka that first hard winter of '70-71. He was not a miner as
we are, receiving four dollars per day. He and his partner, a surly old
fellow, had a claim which they were developing, hoping that it would
amount to something in the spring. That was before smelting had been
made a success. The ores were all base and of too low a grade to ship
away. These men had a little supply of flour, bacon and coffee, and that
was about all, and it was all they expected until spring.

"It was early in January and the weather was exceedingly cold. Their
cabin was but a rude hut, open on every side to the winds. I was there
and I know how things were. One day I was waiting in a tent, which by
courtesy was called a store, when Billie came in. He had a cheery smile
and hearty, welcome words for every one. He had been there but a few
minutes when his partner came in. The old man was fairly boiling with
rage. So angry was he that he could hardly articulate distinctly.
Finally he explained that some thief had stolen their mattress, a pair
of their best blankets and a sack of flour. He wanted an officer
dispatched with a search warrant. Then I overheard the following
conversation between the two men:

"'O, never mind,' said Billie; 'some poor devil needed the things or he
would not have taken them.'

"'Yes, but we need them, too; need them more than anything else,' was
the response.

"'O, we will get along; we have plenty.'

"'Yes,' retorted the partner, 'but what are we going to do for a bed?
Our hair mattress and best pair of blankets are gone, and the cabin is

"'We can sew up some sacks into a mattress, and fill it with soft brush
and leaves, and use our coats for blankets,' replied Billie. 'We'll get
along all right. The truth is we have been sleeping too warm of late.'

"Too warm!' said the partner, bitterly; 'I should think so. A polar bear
would freeze in that cabin without a bed.'

"'Do you think so?' asked Billie, smiling. 'Well, that is the way to
keep it, and so if any wild animal comes that way we can freeze him out.
Brace up, partner! Why should a man make a fuss about the loss of a
trifle like that?'

"Later I found out the facts. A little below Billie's cabin was another
cabin, into which a family of emigrants had moved. They were dreadfully
poor. Going to and returning from town Billie had noticed how things
were. One night as he passed, going home in the dark, he heard a child
crying in the cabin and heard it say to its mother that it was hungry
and cold.

"Next morning he waited until his partner had gone away, then rolled the
mattress around a sack of flour, then rolled the mattress and flour up
in his best pair of blankets, swung the bundle on his shoulder, carried
it down the trail to the other cabin, where, opening the door, he flung
it inside; then with finger on his lip he said in a hoarse whisper to
the woman: 'Don't mention it! Not a word. I stole the bundle, and if you
ever speak of it you will get me sent to prison,' and in a moment was
swinging down the trail singing joyously:

    "If I had but a thousand a year, Robin Ruff,
    If I had but a thousand a year."

"Last winter, after the fire, there was one man in this city, John W.
Mackay, who gave $150,000 to the poor. It was a magnificent act, and was
as grandly and gently performed as such an act could be. No one would
ever have known it, had not the good priest who distributed the most of
it, one day, mentioned the splendid fact. That man will receive his
reward here, and hereafter, for it was a royal charity. But he has
$30,000,000 to draw against, while, when Billie in the wilderness gave
up his bed and his food, he not only had not a cent to draw against, but
he had not a reasonably well-defined hope.

"When at last the roll-call of the real royal men of this world shall be
sounded, if any of you chance to be there, you will hear, close up to
the head of the list, the name of Billie Smith, and when it shall be
pronounced, if you listen, you will hear a very soft but dulcet refrain
trembling along the harps and a murmur among the emerald arches that
will sound like the beating of the wings of innumerable doves."

"That was a good mon, surely. Did he do well with his mine?" asked

"No," answered Miller. "It was but a little deposit, and was quickly
worked out. He scuffled along until the purchase of the Eureka Con. in
the spring, then went to work there for a few months, then came here,
and a day or two after arriving, was shot dead by the ruffian Perkins.

"He was shot through the brain, and people tell me he was so quickly
transfixed that in his coffin the old sunny smile was still upon his
face. I don't believe that, though. I believe the smile came when, as
the light went out here, he saw the dawn and felt the hand clasps on the
other side.

"By the way, there was a man here who knew him, and who wrote something
with the thought of poor Billie in his mind while he was writing."

At this Miller arose and went to his carpet-sack, opened it and drew out
a paper. Then handing it to Harding, he said: "Harding, you read better
than I do, read it for us all."

Harding took the paper and read as follows:

            ERNEST FAITHFUL.

    'Twas the soul of Ernest Faithful
      Loosed from its home of clay--
    Its mission on earth completed,
      To the judgment passed away.

    'Twas the soul of Ernest Faithful
      Stood at the bar above,
    Where the deeds of men are passed upon
      In justice, but in love.

    And an angel questioned Faithful
      Of the life just passed on earth!
    What could he plead of virtue,
      What could he count of worth.

    And the soul of Ernest Faithful
      Trembled in sore dismay;
    And from the judgment angel's gaze
      Shuddering, turned away.

    For memory came and whispered
      How worldly was that life;
    Unfairly plotting, sometimes,
      In anger and in strife;

    For a selfish end essaying
      To treasures win or fame,
    And the soul of Ernest cowered 'neath
      The angel's eye of flame.

    Then from a book the angel drew
      A leaf with name and date,
    A record of this Ernest's life
      Wove in the looms of Fate.

    And said: "O, Faithful, answer me,
      Here is a midnight scroll,
    What didst thou 'neath the stars that night?
      Didst linger o'er the bowl?

    "Filling the night with revelry
      With cards and wine and dice,
    And adding music's ecstacy,
      To give more charms to vice?"

    Then the soul of Faithful answered,
      "By the bedside of a friend
    I watched the long hours through; that night
      His life drew near its end."

    "Here's another date at midnight,
      Where was't thou this night, say?"
    "I was waiting by the dust of one
      Whose soul had passed that day."

    "These dollar marks," the angel said;
      "What mean they, Ernest, tell?"
    "It was a trifle that I gave
      To one whom want befell."

    "Here's thine own picture, illy dressed;
      What means this scant attire?"
    "I know not," answered Faithful, "save
      That once midst tempest dire,

    "I found a fellow-man benumbed,
      And lost amid the storm
    And so around him wrapped my vest,
      His stiffening limbs to warm."

    "Here is a woman's face, a girl's.
      O, Ernest, is this well?
    Knowst thou how often women's arms
      Have drawn men's souls to hell?"

    Then Ernest answered: "This poor girl
      An orphan was. I gave
    A trifle of my ample store
      The child from want to save."

    "Next are some words. What mean they here?"
      Then Ernest answered low:
    "A fellow-man approached me once
      Whose life was full of woe,

    "When I had naught to give, except
      Some words of hope and trust;
    I bade him still have faith, for God
      Who rules above is just."

    Then the grave angel smiled and moved
      Ajar the pearly gate
    And said: "O, soul! we welcome thee
      Unto this new estate.

    "Enter! Nor sorrow more is thine,
      Nor grief; we know thy creed--
    Thou who hast soothed thy fellowmen
      In hour of sorest need.

    "Thou who hast watched thy brother's dust,
      When the wrung soul had fled;
    And to the stranger gave thy cloak,
      And to the orphan, bread.

    "And when all else was gone, had still
      A word of kindly cheer
    For one more wretched than thyself,
      Thou, soul, art welcome here.

    "Put on the robe thou gav'st away
      'Tis stainless now and white;
    And all thy words and deeds are gems;
      Wear them, it is thy right!"

    And then from choir and harp awoke
      A joyous, welcome strain,
    Which other harps and choirs took up,
      In jubilant refrain,

    Till all the aisles of Summer Land
      Grew resonant, as beat
    The measures of that mighty song
      Of welcome, full and sweet.

"That is purty. I hope there were no mistake about the gintleman making
the showing up above," said Corrigan.

"What lots of music there must be up in that country," chimed in Carlin.
"I wonder if there are any buildings any where on the back streets where
new beginners practice."

"That represents the Hebrew idea of Heaven," said Alex. "I like that of
the savage better, with hills and streams and glorious old woods. There
is a dearer feeling of rest attached to it, and rest is what a life
craves most after a buffet of three score years in this world."

"Rest is a pretty good thing after an eight-hours' wrestle with the
gnomes down on a 2,300 level of the Comstock," said Miller; "suppose we
say good night."

"Withdraw the motion for a moment, Miller," said Wright. "First, I move
that our friends here be made honorary members of the Club."

It was carried by acclamation, and thereafter, for several nights, the
three were present nightly.


When the Club reassembled Carlin, addressing the Colonel, said: "You
told us of a royal old bummer last night, and Miller told us of an angel
in miner's garb. Your stories reminded me of something which happened in
Hamilton, in Eastern Nevada, in the early times, when the thermometer
was at zero, when homes were homes and food was food. There was a royal
fellow there, too, only he was not a miner, and though he lived upon the
earnings of others, he never accepted charity. By profession he was a
gambler, and not a very 'high-toned' gambler at that. He was known as
'Andy Flinn,' though it was said, for family reasons, he did not pass
under his real name.

"Well, Andy had, in sporting parlance, been 'playing in the worst kind
of luck' for a good while. One afternoon his whole estate was reduced to
the sum of fifteen dollars. He counted it over in his room, slipped it
back into his pocket and started up town. A little way from the lodging
where he roomed he was met by a man who begged him to step into a house
near by and see how destitute the inmates were.

"Andy mechanically followed the man, who led the way to a cabin, threw
open the door and ushered Andy in. There was a man, the husband and
father, ill in bed, while the wife and mother, a delicate woman, and two
little children, were, in scanty garments, hovering around the ghost of
a fire.

"Andy took one look, then rushed out of doors, the man who had led him
into the cabin following. Andy walked rapidly away until out of hearing
of the wretched people in the house, then swinging on his heel, for full
two minutes hurled the most appalling anathemas at the man for leading
him, as Andy expressed it, 'into the presence of those advance agents of
a famine.'

"When he paused for breath the man said, quietly: 'I like that; I like
to see you fellows, that take the world so carelessly and easily,
stirred up occasionally.'

"'Easy!' said Andy; 'you had better try it. You think our work is easy;
you are a mere child. We don't get half credit. I tell you to make a man
an accomplished gambler requires more study than to acquire a learned
profession; more labor than is needed to become a deft artisan. You talk
like a fool. Easy, indeed!'

"'I don't care to discuss that point with you, Andy,' said the man. 'I
expect you are right, but that is not the question. What are you, a big,
strong, healthy fellow, going to do to help those poor wretches in the
cabin yonder?'

"Andy plunged his hand into his pocket, drew out the fifteen dollars and
was just going to pass it over to the man when a thought struck him.
'Hold on,' he said; 'a man is an idiot that throws away his capital and
then has to take his chances with the thieves that fill this camp. You
come with me. I am going to try to take up a collection. By the way,' he
said, shortly, 'do you ever pray?'

"The man answered that he did sometimes. 'Then,' said Andy, 'you put in
your very biggest licks when I start my collection.'

"Not another word was said until they reached and entered a then famous
saloon on Main street.

"Going to the rear where a faro game was in progress, Andy exchanged his
fifteen dollars for chips and began to play. He never ceased; hardly
looked up from the table for two hours. Sometimes he won and sometimes
he lost, but the balance was on the winning side. Finally he ceased
playing, gathered up his last stakes, and beckoning to the man who had
come with him to the saloon, and who had watched his playing with lively
interest, he led the way into the billiard room.

"Andy went to a window on one side of the room and began to search his
pockets, piling all the money he could find on the sill of the window.
The money was all in gold and silver.

"When his pockets were emptied, with the quickness of men of his class,
he ran the amount over. Then taking from a billiard table a bit of chalk
he, with labored strokes, wrote on the window sill the following:

    hul sum                     $263 50
    starter                       15 00
        doo ter god             $248 50

"He picked up a ten-dollar piece and a five-dollar piece from the
amount, then pushing the rest along the sill away from the figures,
asked the man to count it. He did so and said:

"'I make altogether $248.50, Andy.'

"'I suspect you are correct,' said Andy, 'and now you take that money
and go and fix up those people as comfortably as you can. Tell 'em we
took up a collection among the boys; don't say a word about it on the
outside, and see here. If you ever again show me as horrible a sight as
that crowd makes in that accursed den down the street, I'll break every
bone in your body.'

"'But,' said the man, 'this is not right, Andy. It is too much. Fifty
dollars would be a most generous contribution from you. Give me fifty
dollars and you take back the rest.'

"'What do you take me for?' was Andy's reply. 'Don't you think I have
any honor about me? When I went into that saloon I promised God that if
He would stand in with me, His poor should have every cent that I could
make in a two hours' deal. I would simply be a liar and a thief if I
took a cent of that money. You praying cusses have not very clear ideas
of right and wrong after all.'

"The man went on his errand of mercy, and Andy returned and invested his
money in the bank again, as he said, 'to try to turn an honest penny.'"

"That was a right ginerous man," remarked Corrigan.

"May be and may be not," was the remark of the Colonel. "It is possible
that he had been 'playing in bad luck,' as they say, for a good while
and did it to change that luck. Confirmed gamesters never reason clearly
on ordinary subjects. They are either up in the clouds or down in the
depths; they are perpetually studying the doctrine of chances, and are
as full of superstitions as so many fortune tellers."

"That class of men are proverbially generous, though," said Harding;
"but the way they get their money, I suspect, has something to do with
the matter. Had the man earned the money at four dollars a day, running
a car down in a hot mine, he would hardly have given up the whole sum."

Here Miller took up the conversation. "I knew a man down in Amador
county, California," said he, "who worked in a mine as we are working
here, except that wages were $3.50 instead of $4.00 per day. He came
there in the fall of the year and worked eight months. His clothes were
always poor. He lived in a cabin by himself, and such miners as happened
into his cabin at meal time declared their belief that his food did not
cost half a dollar a day. He never joined the miners down town; was
never known to treat to as much as a glass of beer. We all hated him
cordially and looked upon him as a miner so avaricious that he was
denying himself the common comforts of life. He was the talk of the
mine, and many were the scornful words which he was made to hear and to
know that they were uttered at his expense. Still he was quiet and
resented nothing that was said, and there was no dispute about his being
a most capable and faithful miner. At last one morning as the morning
shift were waiting at the shaft to be lowered into the mine, Baxter
(that was his name) appeared, and, after begging our attention for a
moment, said:

"'Gentlemen, there is the dead body of an old man up in the cabin across
from the trail. It will cost sixty dollars to bury it in a decent
coffin. The undertaker will not trust me, but if twenty of you will put
in three dollars each, I will pay you all when pay-day comes.'

"Then we questioned him, and it came out at last that Baxter had found
the old man sick a few days after he came to work, and of his $3.50 per
day had spent $3.00 in food, medicine and medical attendance upon the
man, all through the long winter, and had moreover often watched with
him twelve hours out of the twenty-four. It was not a child that
something might be hoped for; there was no beautiful young girl about
the place to be in love with. It was simply a death watch over a
worn-out pauper. I thought then, I think still, it was as fine a thing
as ever I saw.

"There were sixty of us on the mine. We put in ten dollars apiece, went
to Baxter in a body, and, begging his pardon, asked him to accept it.

"With a smile, he answered: 'I thank you, but I cannot take it. I have
wasted much money in my time. Now I feel as though I had a little on
interest, and I shall get along first rate.'

"Talk about royalty, our Baxter was an Emperor."

"He did have something on interest," said Brewster. "Something for this
world and the world to come."

"Did you ever hear about Jack Marshall's attempt to pay his debts by
clerking in a store?" asked Savage. "Jack brought a good deal of coin
here and opened a store. He did first rate for several months, and after
awhile branched out into a larger business, which required a good many
men. When everything was promising well a fire came and swept away the
store and a flood destroyed the other property. There was just enough
saved out of the wreck to pay the laborers.

"When all was settled up Jack had but forty-three dollars left and an
orphan boy to take care of. Just then a man that Jack had known for a
good while as a miner, came into town, and hearing of Jack's
misfortunes, hunted him up and told him that he had given up mining and
settled down to farming, and begged Jack to come and make his home with
him until he had time to think over what was best to do. He further said
that he had twelve acres of land cleared and under fence, with ditches
all dug for irrigating the crop; that he had a yoke of oxen to plough
the land; that his intention was to plant the whole twelve acres to
potatoes; that a fair crop would yield him sixty tons, which, as
potatoes then were four cents a pound, would bring him nearly $5,000 for
the season. But he explained that he could not drive oxen, and more than
that, it required two men to do the work, and as he had not much money
and did not want to run in debt, his business in town was to find some
steady man who could drive oxen, who would go with him and help him
plant, tend, harvest and sell the crop on shares. The ranch was down on
Carson River, not far from Fort Churchill.

"When the man had finished his story, Jack said to him: 'How would I do
for a steady man and a bovine manipulator?'

"'My God, Mr. Marshall! you would not undertake to drive oxen and plant
potatoes, would you?' said the man.

"'That's just what I would,' said Jack, 'if you think you can endure me
for a partner. I will become a horny-handed tender of the vine--the
potato vine. What say you?'

"Well, that evening both men started for the farm. No friend of Jack
knew his real circumstances. They knew he had been unfortunate, but did
not know that it was a case of 'total wreck.' He bade a few of them
good-bye, with the careless remark that he was going for a few days'
hunt down toward the sink of the Carson.

"Well, he ploughed the land, the two men planted the crop and irrigated
it until the potatoes were splendidly advanced and just ready to
blossom. It got to be the last of June and the promise for a bountiful
crop was encouraging. They had worked steadily since the middle of
March. But just then a thief, who had some money, made a false
affidavit, got from a court an injunction against the men and shut off
the water. It was just at the critical time when the life of the crop
depended upon water. In two weeks the whole crop was ruined. In the
meantime for seed and provisions, clothes, etc., a debt of one hundred
and fifty dollars had been contracted at the store of a Hebrew named
Isaacs. News of the injunction reached the merchant, and one morning he
put in an appearance.

"'Meester Marshall, hous dings?' asked Isaacs.

"Pointing to the blackened and withering crop, Jack answered: 'They look
a little bilious, don't you think so?'

"'Mine Gott! Mine Gott!' was the wailing exclamation. Then, after a
pause, 'Ven does you suppose you might pay me, Meester Marshall?'

"'As things have been going of late, I think in about seven years. It is
said that bad luck changes about every seven years.'

"'Mine Gott! Meester Marshall,' cried Isaacs; 'haven't you got nodings
vot you can pay? I vill discount de bill--say ten per cent.'

"'Nothing that I can think of, except a dog. I have a dog that is worth
two hundred dollars, but to you I will discount the dog twenty-five per

"'O, mine Gott! vot you dinks I could do mit a dog?' said the despairing

"'Why keep him for his society, Mr. Isaacs,' was the bantering answer.
'With him salary is not so much an object as a comfortable and
respectable home. There's too much alkali on the soil to encourage fleas
to remain, so there's no difficulty on that score; and he's an awfully
good dog, Isaacs; no bad habits, and the most regular boarder you ever
saw; he has never been late to a meal since we have been here. You had
better take him; twenty-five per cent is an immense discount.'

"By this time the Hebrew was nearly frantic.

"'Meester Marshall,' he said, hesitatingly, 'did you clerk ever in a

"'Oh, yes.'

"'Vould you clerk for me?'

"'Yes: that is, until that bill shall be settled.'

"'Ven could you come?'

"'Whenever you wish.'

"'Vould you come next Monday--von of mine clerks, Henery, goes avay

"'Yes, I will be on hand Monday. Let us see; it is seven miles to walk.
I will be there about nine o'clock in the morning.'

"'Vell, I danks you, Meester Marshall; danks you very much.'

"He turned away and rode off a few steps, then stopped and called back:
'Meester Marshall, if you dinks vot de society of de dog is essential to
your comfort, bring him.'

"'Thanks, Isaacs,' cried Jack, cheerfully; 'considering where I am going
to work, and the company I am going to keep, it will not be necessary.'

"Jack went as he had promised. Isaacs, who was a thoroughly good man,
was delighted to see him, shook hands cordially, and then suddenly, with
a mysterious look, led him to the extreme rear end of the store, and
when there, placing his lips close to Jack's ear, in a hoarse whisper,

"'Meester Marshall, de vater here is ---- bad; it is poison, horrible.
You drinks nodings but vine until you gets used to de vater.'

"Marshall went to work at once. It was in 1863. The war was at its
height, and Jack was intensely Union, while Isaacs, his employer, was a
furious Democrat. Nothing of especial interest transpired for a couple
of weeks, when one day an emigrant woman, just across the plains,
leading two little children, came into the store.

"She was an exceedingly poor woman, evidently. All her clothes were not
worth three dollars, while her children were pitiful looking beyond

"Isaacs was in the front of the store; Jack was putting up goods in the
rear, but in hearing, while another clerk was in the warehouse outside
of the main store. Isaacs went to wait on the woman. She picked out some
needed articles of clothing for her children, amounting to some six or
eight dollars, then unrolling a dilapidated kerchief, from its inner
folds drew out a Confederate twenty-dollar note and tendered it in

"Isaacs, who had been all smiles, drew back in horror, exclaiming: 'I
cannot take dot; dot is not monish, madam.'

"Jack overheard what Isaacs said and the woman's reply, as follows:

"'It is all that I have; it is all the money that we have had in
Arkansas since the war commenced. Everybody takes it in Arkansas.'

"This conversation continued for two or three minutes, and the woman was
just about turning away without the goods when Jack, unable to longer
bear it, stepped forward and said:

"'Mr. Isaacs, Mr. Smith would like to see you in the warehouse; please
permit me to wait upon the lady.'

"'All right,' said Isaacs, 'only (in a whisper) remember dot ish not

"Isaacs passed out of the store and Jack then said: 'If you please,
madam, let me see your money.'

"The woman, with a trembling hand, presented the Confederate note. Jack
glanced at it and said:

"'Why, this is first-class money, madam. It is just a prejudice that
that infernal old Abolitionist has. I will discharge him to-night. They
would hang him in two hours in Arkansas, and they ought to hang him
here. Buy all the goods you want, madam.'

"With eyes full of gratitude the woman increased the bill, until it
amounted to eleven dollars and a half. Jack tied up the goods, took the
Confederate note, handed the woman a five-dollar gold piece and three
dollars and fifty cents in silver, and she went on her way holding the
precious coin, the first she had seen in years, closely clasped in her

"Jack charged goods to cash twenty dollars, charged himself to cash
twenty dollars, and went back to putting up goods, humming to himself.

"'Half the world never knows how the other half lives.' Jack's salary
was one hundred and fifty dollars a month. He owed one hundred and fifty
dollars when he went to work. It took him four months to pay off his
indebtedness, but when he gave up his place he had all his pockets full
of Confederate money."

As the story was finished, Miller said: "A real pleasant but
characteristic thing happened right here in this city when Bishop W----
first came here.

"He wanted to establish a church, and his first work was to select men
who would act and be a help to him as trustees.

"It is nothing to get trustees for a mining company here, but a church
is a different thing. In a church, you know, a man has to die to fill
his shorts, and then, somehow, in these late years men have doubts about
the formation, so that when a man starts a company on that lead any more
he finds it mighty hard to place any working capital.

"At the time I was speaking of it was just about impossible to get a
full staff of trustees that would exactly answer the orthodox
requirements. But the Bishop is a man of expedients. It was sinners that
he came to call to repentance, and it did not take him long to discover
that right here was a big field. He went to work at once with an energy
that has never abated for a moment since. He selected all his trustees
but one, and looking around for him, with a clear instinct he determined
that Abe E---- should be that one if he would accept the place.

"Now Abe was the best and truest of men, but he would swear sometimes.
Indeed when he got started on that stratum he was a holy terror. But the
Bishop put him down as a trustee, and, meeting Abe on the street,
informed him that he was trying to organize a church; had taken the
liberty to name him as a trustee, and asked Abe to do him the honor of
attending a trustees' meeting at 1 o'clock the next afternoon.

"'I would be glad to help you, Bishop,' said Abe, 'but----it----I
don't know. I can run a mine or a quartz mill, but I don't know any more
than a Chinaman about running a church.'

"But the Bishop plead his case so ably that Abe at length surrendered,
promised to attend the meeting, and, having promised, like the sterling
business man that he was, promptly put in an appearance.

"Besides Abe and the Bishop, there were six others. When all had
assembled the Bishop explained that he desired to build a church; that
he had plans, specifications and estimates for a church to cost $9,000,
with lot included; that he believed $1,500 might be raised by
subscription, leaving the church but $7,500 in debt, which amount would
run at low interest and which in a growing place like Virginia City the
Bishop thought might be paid up in four or five years, leaving the
church free. He closed by asking the sense of the trustees as to the
wisdom and practicability of making the attempt.

"There was a general approval of the plan expressed by all present
except Abe, who was silent until his opinion was directly asked by the

"'Why ---- it, Bishop,' said he, 'I told you that I knew nothing about
church business, but I don't like the plan. If you were to get money at
fifteen per cent per annum, which is only half the regular banking rate,
your interest would amount to nearly $1,200 a year, or almost as much as
you hope to raise for a commencement. I am afraid, Bishop, you would
never live long enough to get out of debt. You want a church, why ----
it, why don't you work the business as though you believed it would pay?
That is the only way you can get up any confidence in the scheme.'

"Abe sat down and the Bishop's heart sank with him.

"With a smile, one of the other gentlemen asked Abe what his plan for
getting a church would be.

"'I will tell you,' said Abe, 'I move that an assessment of one thousand
dollars be levied upon each of the trustees, payable immediately.'

"It was a startling proposition to the Bishop, who was just from the
East and who had not become accustomed to Comstock ways. With a
faltering voice he said:

"'Mr. E., I fear that I cannot at present raise $1,000.'

"'Never mind, Bishop,' said Abe, 'we will take yours out in preaching;
but there is no rebate for any of the rest of you. If you are going to
serve the Lord, you have got to be respectable about it. Your checks if
you please, gentlemen.'

"All were wealthy men, the checks were laughingly furnished, with joking
remarks that it was the first company ever formed in Virginia City where
the officers really invested any money.

"'Abe took the checks, added his own to the number, begged the Bishop to
excuse him, remarking as he went out that while he had every faith in
the others still he was anxious to reach the bank a little in advance of
them, and started up town.

"He met this man and that and demanded of each a check for from $50 to
$250, as he thought they could respectively afford to pay.

"When asked how long he would want the money his reply was: 'I want it
for keeps, ---- it. I am building a church.' In forty minutes he had the
whole sum. He took the checks to the bank and for them received a
certificate of deposit in the Bishop's name. Carrying this to the
Bishop's house he rang the bell.

"'The Bishop had seen his coming and answered the summons in person.
Handing him the certificate Abe said:

"'Take that for a starter, Bishop. It won't be enough, for a church is
like an old quartz mill. The cost always exceeds the estimates a good
deal, but go ahead, and when you need more money we will levy another
assessment on the infernal sinners.'"

Strong, who had been listening attentively said: "I heard the Bishop
preach and pray over Abe's dead body three years ago, and watched him as
he took a last, long look at Abe's still, clear-cut splendid face as it
was composed in death. Abe never joined the church, and I am told that
he swore a little to the last. His part in building the church was
simply one of his whims, but for years he was a Providence here to
scores of people. No one knew half his acts of bountiful, delicate
charity, or in how many homes bitter tears were shed when he died.

"But the Bishop knew enough to know and feel as he was praying over his
remains, that while it was well as a matter of form, it was quite
unnecessary; that, so far as Abe was concerned, he was safe; that in the
Beyond where the mansions are and where the light is born; where, over
all, are forever stretched out the brooding wings of celestial peace,
Abe had been received, and that, upon his coming, while the welcomes
were sounding and the greetings were being made to him, flowers burst
through the golden floor and blossomed at his feet.

"Among the royal ones of the earth, the soul of Abe E---- bore the
sceptre of perfect sovereignty."

"I knew him," said Corrigan, "may his soul rest in peace, for he was a
noble man."

"I knew him," interposed Carlin, "no words give an idea of how sterling
and true a man he was."

"I knew him," added Wright. "When he died Virginia City did not realize
the loss which his death entailed."

"I knew him," concluded Strong. "His heart was a banyan tree, its limbs
were perpetually bending down and taking root, till it made shade for
the poor of the city."

Then Carlin, opening the door to the kitchen, called Yap Sing to bring
glasses. A night-cap toddy was made and as it was drank the good nights
were spoken.


With the lighting of the pipes the next night Miller said:

"All your royal people so far, though not perfect men, have had
redeeming traits. I once knew one who had not a single characteristic,
except, perhaps, some pluck. My man was simply a royal liar. In Western
parlance, 'he was a boss.' His name was Colonel Jensen.

"Now, in my judgment, lying is the very grossest of human evils. A
common liar is a perpetual proof of the truth of the doctrine of
original sin. By that vice more friendships are broken and more real
misery is perpetrated and perpetuated in the world than comes through
any other channel.

"But as genius excites admiration even when exerted for sinister
purposes, so when the art of lying is reduced to an absolute science
there is something almost fine about it.

"My liar, when I first knew him, seemed to be between fifty and sixty
years of age; but no one ever knew what his real age was.

"But he was quite an old man, for his hair was perfectly white, and
that, with a singularly striking face and fine faculty of expressing his
ideas, gave him an appearance at once venerable and engaging. It was
hard to look into his almost classical face and to think that if he had
told the truth within twenty years, it must have been an accident; but
such was the fact, nevertheless.

"He was indeed a colossal prevaricator. He was at home, too, on every
theme, and there was the charm of freshness to every new falsehood, for
he spoke as one who was on the spot--an actor. If it was an event that
he was describing, he was a participant; if a landscape or a structure,
it was from actual observation; if it chanced to be a scientific theme,
he invariably reported the words of some great scientist 'just as they
fell from his lips.'

"He knew and had dined with all the great men of his generation--that
is, he said so. He always spoke with particularly affectionate
remembrance of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, always referring to them
as 'Hank' and 'Dan,' so intimate had he been with them.

"My introduction to him was on a stormy winter night, in the early years
of the Washoe excitement. A few of us were conversing in a hotel. One
gentleman was describing something that he had witnessed in his boyhood,
in Columbus, Ohio.

"As he finished his story, a venerable gentleman, who was a stranger in
Washoe, and who had, for several minutes, been slowly pacing up and down
the room, suddenly stopped and inquired of the gentleman who had been
talking if he was from Columbus? When answered in the affirmative, the
stranger extended his hand, dropped into a convenient seat as he spoke,
and expressed his pleasure at meeting a gentleman from Columbus, at the
same time introducing himself as Colonel Jensen and remarking that one
of the happiest recollections of his life was of a day in Columbus, on
which day all his prospects in life were changed and wonderfully

"With such an exordium, the rest could do no less than to press the old
gentleman to favor the company with a rehearsal of what had transpired.

"The story was as follows:

"I had just returned with the remnant of my regiment from Mexico, and
had received the unanimous thanks of the Legislature of Ohio for--so the
resolution was worded--"the magnificent ability and steadfast and
desperate courage displayed by Colonel Jensen for twelve consecutive
hours on the field of Buena Vista." I was young at the time and had not
got over caring for such things. The day after this resolution of thanks
was passed the Governor of the State ordered a grand review, at the
capital, of the militia of the State in honor of the soldiers who had
survived the war. As a mark of especial honor I was appointed
Adjutant-General on the Governor's staff. My place at the review was
beside the Governor--who was, of course, Commander-in-Chief--except when
my particular regiment was passing.

"'There are a few things which I have never outgrown a weakness for. One
is a real Kentucky blood horse. I had sent to Kentucky and paid four
thousand dollars for a son of old Gray Eagle. I bought him cheap, too,
because of his color. He was a dappled gray. The Boston stock of horses
was just then becoming the rage, and gray was beginning to be an off
color for thoroughbreds. My horse was a real beauty. He had been trained
on the track, and from a dead stand would spring twenty-two feet the
first bound. But he was thoroughly broken and tractable, though he had
more style than a peacock, and when prancing and careering, though not
pulling five pounds on the bit, he looked as though in a moment he would
imitate Elijah's chariot and take to the clouds.

"'As the hour for the review approached I mounted my horse and took my
position, as assigned, beside the Governor.

"'I was quietly conversing with him and with our Brigadier-General, when
a runaway team, attached to an open carriage in which were two ladies,
dashed past us.

"'What followed was instinct. I gave Gray Eagle both rein and spur. In a
few seconds he was beside the running horses. I sprang from his back
upon the back of the near carriage horse, gathered the inside reins of
the team, drew the heads of the two horses together and brought them to
a standstill only a few feet from the bluffs, which any one from that
city will remember, and over which the team would have dashed in a
moment more.

"'People gathered around instantly, took the horses in hand and helped
the ladies from the vehicle. Being relieved, I caught and remounted my
horse, took my place and the review proceeded.

"'After the review, I received a note from the Governor asking me to
dine with him that evening.

"'I accepted, supposing the invitation was due to my Mexican record.
Judge my surprise, then, when going to the Governor's mansion, I was
shown into the parlor, and, on being presented to the Governor's wife
and her beautiful unmarried sister, in a moment found myself being
overwhelmed by the grateful thanks of the two ladies, learning for the
first time, from their lips, that they were the ladies I had rescued.

"'Of course, after that, I was a frequent visitor at the house, and in a
few months the young lady became my wife.'

"His story was told with an air of such modest candor and at the same
time with such dramatic effect, that what might have seem improbable or
singular about it, had it been differently related, was not thought of
at the time. The old man was a real hero for a brief moment at least.

"When, later, we knew the Colonel had never been in the Mexican war or
any other war; that he had never been married; that if he had ever
witnessed a military review it was from a perch on a fence or tree; that
he had never possessed four thousand or four hundred dollars with which
to buy a horse, and that his oldest acquaintances did not believe that
he had ever been on a horse's back, still, while the admiration for the
man was somewhat chilled, there was no difference of opinion as to the
main fact, which was that as a gigantic and dramatic liar, on merit, he
was entitled to the post of honor on a day when the Ananiases of all the
world were passing in review.

"Old and middle-aged men in the West will remember the delightful
letters, which Lieut. B., under the _nom de plume_ of 'Ching Foo,' used
to write to the Sacramento _Union_. Once in the presence of Colonel
Jensen these letters were referred to as masterpieces. The Colonel
smiled significantly and said:

"'They were delicious letters, truly. Take him all in all, Ching Foo was
the most intelligent Chinaman I ever saw. He cooked for me three years
in California. I taught him reading and writing. I reckon he would have
been with me still, but the early floods in '54 washed out my bed-rock
flume in American River and I had to break up my establishment. I had a
ton of gold in sight in the river bed, but next morning the works were
all gone and with them $125,000 which I had used in turning the river.'

"One day an Ohio man and a Tennessee man engaged in a warm dispute over
the relative excellencies of the respective State houses in Ohio and
Tennessee. Finally they appealed to Colonel Jensen for an opinion. The
Colonel, with his sovereign air, said to the Ohio man:

"'You are wrong, Tom. I had just completed the State house at Columbus,
when I was sent for to go and make the plans and superintend the
construction of the State house at Nashville. It would have been strange
if I had not made a great many improvements over the Ohio structure, in
preparing plans for the one to be erected in Tennessee.'

"The Colonel was a bungling carpenter by trade, and never built anything
more complicated or imposing than a miner's cabin.

"One more anecdote and I will positively stop. Two neighbors had a law
suit in Washoe City. One was an honest man, the other a scoundrel. As is
the rule in Nevada, both the plaintiff and defendant testified. The
defendant denied point blank the testimony of the plaintiff. It was
plain that one or the other had committed terrible perjury. Some other
witnesses were called, the case was closed and the jury retired to
consider upon a verdict. But how to decide was the question. Which was
the honest man and which the scoundrel?

"At last one juror hit upon a happy thought. He said:

"Gentlemen, did you notice closely the last witness for the defendant?
His hair was white as snow, his body bent, his steps were feeble and
tottering. That man has already one foot in the grave; he will not
survive another month. Surely a man in his condition would tell the
truth.' The argument seemed logical and the reasoning sound. The verdict
was unanimous for the defendant.

"No case ever showed clearer the 'infallibility' of a jury. The witness
was Colonel Jensen. The defendant was the perjurer, and all the Colonel
knew of the case was what the defendant had, that morning, out behind a
hay corral, drilled him to know and to swear to, for a five-dollar

"The Colonel has gone now to join his ancestors on the other side. In
the old orthodox days there would not have been the slightest doubt as
to who his original ancestor was, or of the temperature of his present
quarters, but who knows?

"I only know that, while upon the earth, he was one of the few men whom
I have known that I believed was a native genius; a very Shakespeare (or
Bacon) in language; a Michael Angelo in coloring; a colossal,
all-embracing, magnificent, measureless liar."

"He was a good one, sure," said Carlin.

"He was a bad one, sure," remarked Ashley.

Then Brewster, taking up the theme, said: "He had a chronic disease,
that was all. He was as much of an inebriate in his way as ever was
drunkard a slave to alcohol. He had great vanity and self-esteem and a
flowery imagination. These were chastened or disciplined by no moral
attributes. He could no more help being what he was than can the raven
avoid being black."

"There was bad stock in the mon," said Corrigan. "He should have been
strangled in his cradle; for sich a mon is forever making bitterness in
a neighborhood, and is not fit to live."

"Boys," asked the Colonel, "do you believe that lying is ever

Brewster, Harding and Ashley simultaneously answered "No."

"It depends," said Carlin.

"Hardly iver," said Corrigan.

Miller thought it might be necessary.

"For one's self, no; for another, perhaps yes," said the Professor.

"That is just the point," remarked the Colonel. "Let me tell you about a
case which transpired right here in this city. There were two men whose
first names were the same, while their surnames were similar. Their
given names were Frank and their surnames were, we will say, Cady and
Carey, respectively. Cady was a young married man. He had a beautiful
wife, a lovely little girl three years of age and a baby boy a year old
at the time I am speaking of. Carey was five or six years younger and
single. They were great friends, notwithstanding that Cady was pretty
fast while Carey was as pure-hearted a young man as ever came here.
More, he was devotedly attached to a young lady who was a close friend
of the wife of Cady. The young couple were expecting to be married in a
few weeks at the time the incident happened which I am going to relate.

"Cady was wealthy, while Carey was poor and a clerk in a mercantile
establishment. One day Cady said to his friend: 'Carey, I bought some
Con. Virginia stock to-day at $55. I have set aside eighty shares for
you. Some people think it is going to advance before long. If it does
and there is anything made on the eighty shares it shall be yours.'
Sixty days later the stock struck $463, when it was sold and the bank
notified Carey that there was a deposit of $32,000 to his credit. When
this stroke of good fortune came the youth hastened to tell the good
news to the girl of his heart, and before they separated their troth was
plighted and the marriage day fixed.

"During this delicious period, one morning Carey stepped into the outer
office of Cady and was horrified to hear from behind the glass screen
which separated the inner office from the main office the wife of Cady
upbrading her husband in a most violent manner. Her back was to the
front of the building. She was holding a letter in her hand, and as
Carey entered the building she began and read the letter through, and
wound up by crying: 'Who is this Marie who is writing to you and
directing the letters simply to Frank, Postoffice box 409? You are
keeping a private box, are you? But you are too careless by half; you
left this letter in your overcoat pocket, and when I went to sew a
button on the coat this morning it fell out, so I could not help but see

"Just then Cady looked up and saw Carey through the glass petition. The
latter with a swift motion touched a finger to his lips and shook his
head, which in perfect pantomime said: 'Don't give yourself away,' then
in a flash slipped noiselessly from the building.

"Once outside, he hastily, on a leaf of his memorandum book, wrote to
the postmaster that if he called with a lady and asked what his
postoffice box was to answer 409; to at once take out anything that
might be in the box, and if he had time to seal and stamp an envelope,
direct it to him and put it in 409, and he added: 'Don't delay a

"Calling a bootblack who was standing near, he gave him the note and a
silver dollar, bade him run with the letter to the postoffice and to be
sure to deliver the note only to some of the responsible men there, to
the postmaster himself if possible.

"Then, with a good deal of noise, he rushed into his friend's place of
business again.

"As he entered he heard his friend's wife, through her sobs, saying:
'Oh, Frank! I should have thought that respect for our children would
have prevented this, even if you have no more love for me.'

"Carey dashed through the sash door, seemed taken all aback at seeing
Cady's wife in the office. In great apparent confusion he advanced and
said: 'Excuse me, Cady, but I am in a little trouble this morning. I was
expecting a letter last night directed simply to my first name and my
postoffice box. It has not come, and as you and myself have the same
first name, I did not know but the mistake might have been made at the
postoffice.' He was apparently greatly agitated and unstrung and seemed
particularly anxious about the letter.

"Cady replied: 'With my mail last night a letter came directed as you
say. I opened and glanced over it, thought it was some joke, put it in
my pocket and thought no more about it until my wife brought it in this
morning. Somehow she does not seem satisfied at my explanation.'

"At this the lady sprang up, and, confronting the young man, said:
'Frank Carey, what is the number of your box in the postoffice?'

"With steady eyes and voice he answered; '409.' The woman was dumfounded
for a moment, but she quickly rallied.

"'Come with me,' she said. The young man obeyed. She took her way
directly to the postoffice. Arriving, she tapped at the delivery window
and asked if she could see the postmaster in person. The boy delivered
the message and in a moment the door opened and the pair were ushered
into the private office of the postmaster. Hardly were they seated when
the lady said abruptly: 'We have come, Judge, on a serious business.
Will you be kind enough to tell me the number of this gentleman's
postoffice box?'

"The postmaster looked inquiringly at Carey, who nodded assent. Then in
response to the lady, he replied: 'I do not exactly remember. I will
have to look at the books.'

"He passed into the main office, but returned in a moment with a petty
ledger containing an alphabetical index. He opened at the 'C's' and
read: 'Frank Carey, box 409; paid for one quarter from Jan----'
Continuing, he said: 'I remember now, Frank, you hired the box about the
time you realized on Con. Virginia, and the quarter has about a month
more to run.'

"This he said with an imperturbable, and incorruptible face, and with an
air of mingled candor and business which it was charming to behold.

"The lady was nearly paralyzed, but she made one more effort.

"'There can be no possible mistake in what you have told me, Judge?' she

"'I think not the least in the world,' was the reply, and, rising, he
continued: 'Please step this way.' He led the way to the boxes, and
there over 409 was the name of Frank Carey. More, there was a sprinkle
of dust over it, showing that it had been there for some time.

"'By the way,' said the postmaster, you have a letter, Frank. It must be
a drop letter, as no mail has been received this morning.' He took the
letter from the box in a manner so awkward that the lady could not help
seeing that it had evidently been directed in a disguised female hand,
and that the superscription was simply 'Frank, P. O. Box 409.'

"Arrived again in the private office, the lady said to the young man, in
a latitude 78-degree north tone, 'I see, sir, you have a very extensive,
and I have no doubt, very _select_ correspondence.'

"At the same time she caught up her skirts--the ladies wore long skirts
that year--and, with a 'I thank you, Judge; good morning,' started
toward the door. As she passed Carey she drew close to the wall, as
though for her robes to touch the hem of his garments would be
contamination, and passed haughtily into the street.

"When she had disappeared Carey sank into a chair and drew a long breath
of relief, while the grave face of the ancient 'Nasby' unlimbered and
warmed into a smile which shone like virtue's own reward.

"'Lord! Lord!' he said, 'but it was a close shave. I had just got things
fixed when you came. And was not she mad though? She looked like the
prospectus of a cyclone. But tell me, Carey, am I not rather an
impressive liar, when, in the best interests of domestic peace, my duty
leads me into that channel?'

"Frank answered, 'As Mark Twain told those wild friends of his who
perpetrated the bogus robbery upon him, "You did a marvelous sight too
well for a mere amateur." But now, Judge, mum is the word about this

"'Mum is the word,' was the reply.

"That evening Carey called at the home of his betrothed. A servant
showed him into the parlor, but for the first time the young lady did
not put in an appearance. In her stead her mother came. The elder lady,
without sitting, in a severe tone said: 'Mr. Carey, my daughter has
heard something to-day from Mrs. Cady. Until you explain that matter to
my satisfaction my daughter will beg to decline to see you.'

"Carey replied: 'Since your daughter has heard of the matter, it does
concern _her_, and I shall very gladly explain to her; but I cannot to
any one else, not even to you.'

"'You could easily impose upon a silly girl who is in love, but I am no
silly girl, and am not in love, especially not with _you_, and you will
have to explain to _me_,' said the lady.

"'My dear madam,' said Carey, mildly, 'in one sense there is nothing in
all that gossip. In another sense so much is involved that I would not
under the rack whisper a word of it to any soul on earth save she who
has promised to give her happiness into my keeping. When your daughter
becomes my wife your authority as mother in our home shall never be
questioned by me. Until then my business is not with you.'

"'It is not worth while to prolong this discussion,' said the old lady,
excitedly. 'If you have nothing more to say, I will bid you good

"'Good evening, madam,' said Carey, and went out into the night.

"A year later the young lady married the wildest rake on the Comstock,
but Carey never married, and died last year.

"When Cady saw how things were going, he went to Carey and said: 'Carey,
let me go and explain to those ladies. It kills me to see you as your

"'It will never do,' was the reply. 'They would not keep the secret,
especially the elder one never would. It would kill her not to get even
with your wife. It worried me a little at first, for I feared that ----
might grieve some and be disappointed; but she is all right. I watched
her covertly at the play last night. She will forget me in a month. She
will be married within the year. We will take no chance of having your
home made unhappy. Dear friend, it is all just as I would have it.'"

"It was too bad," said Harding.

"That Carey was a right noble fellow," was Wright's comment.

Miller thought if he had been right game he would have seen that girl,
old woman or no old woman.

"He was punished for his falsehood. He had to atone for his own and his
friend's sins," was Brewster's conclusion.

"O, murther! I think he had a happy deliverance from the whole family
intoirely," said Corrigan.

Carlin, addressing Brewster, said: "You say he was punished for the sins
of himself and his friend; how do you dispose of the wickedness of the

"Possibly," was the response, "he is wicked by habit, and it may be he
is being reserved for some particular judgment."

"All that I see remarkable about Carey's case," said Ashley, "is that he
made the money in the first place. Had that stock been carried for me,
the mine would have been flooded the next week and my work would have
been mortgaged for a year to come to make good the loss."

"It was a hard case, no doubt," said Strong, "but I think with Corrigan,
that the punishment was not without its compensations."

"He had his mirage and it was worse than wild Injuns, was it not,
Wright?" asked Corrigan.

"Or worse, Barney," said Wright, "than a blacksmith, a foine mon and a
mon of property."

"O, murther, Wright," said Corrigan; "stop that. There go the whistles.
Let us say good night."


About this time Virginia City was visited one day by a heavy rain storm
accompanied with thunder. But as the sun was disappearing behind Mount
Davidson, the clouds broke and rolled away from the west, while at the
same time a faint rainbow appeared in the East, making one of those
beautiful spectacles common to mountainous regions.

At the same time the flag on Mount Davidson caught the beams from the
setting sun and stood out a banner of fire. This, too, is not an
unfrequent spectacle in Virginia City, and long ago inspired a most
gifted lady to write a very beautiful poem, "The Flag on Fire."

The storm and the sunset turned the minds of the Club to other beautiful
displays of nature which they had seen. Said Miller, "I never saw
anything finer than a sunset which I witnessed once at sea down off the
Mexican coast.

"We were in a tub of a steamship, the old "Jonathan." We had been in a
storm for four days, three of which the steamer had been thrown up into
the wind, the machinery working slowly, just sufficient to keep
steerageway on the ship.

"There were 600 passengers on board, with an unusual number of women and
children, and we had been miserable past expression. But at last, with
the coming of the dawn, the wind ceased; as soon as the waves ran down
so that it was safe to swing the ship, she was turned about and put upon
her course.

"In a few hours the sea grew comparatively smooth, and the passengers by
hundreds sought the deck.

"All the afternoon the Mexican coast was in full view, blue and
rock-bound and not many miles away.

"Just before the sun set its bended rays struck those blue head-lands
and transfigured them. They took on the forms of walls and battlements
and shone like a city of gold rising out of the sea in the crimson East,
and looked as perhaps the swinging gardens of Semiramis did from within
the walls of Babylon. In the West the disc of the sun, unnaturally
large, blazed in insufferable splendor, while in glory this seeming city
shone in the East. Between the two pictures the ship was plunging on her
course and we could feel the pulses of the deep sea as they throbbed
beneath us. The multitude upon the deck hardly made a sound; all that
broke the stillness was the heavy respirations of the engines and the
beating of the paddles upon the water. The spell lasted but a few
minutes, for when the sun plunged beneath the sea, the darkness all at
once began as is common in those latitudes, but while it lasted it was

"Speaking of Nature's pictures, in my judgment about the most impressive
sight that is made in this world, is a storm at sea. I mean a real storm
in which a three thousand ton ship is tossed about like a cork, when the
roar of the storm makes human voices of no avail, and when the billows
give notice that 'deep is answering unto deep.'

"When a boy I often went down under the overhanging rock over which the
current of Niagara pours. As I listened to the roar and tried to compute
the energy which had kept those thunders booming for, heaven only knows
how many thousands of years, it used to make me feel small enough; but
it never influenced me as does an ocean storm. When all the world that
is in sight goes into the business of making Niagaras, and turns out a
hundred of them every minute, I tell you about all an ordinary landsman
can do is to sit still and watch the display.

"A real ocean storm--a shore shaker--is about the biggest free show that
this world has yet invented."

Corrigan spoke next; said he: "Spakin' of storms, did you iver watch the
phenomenon of a ragin' snow storm high up in the Sierras? When it is
approaching there is a roar in the forest such as comes up a headland
when the sea is bating upon its base. This will last for hours, the
pines rocking like auld women at a wake, and thin comes the snow. Its no
quiet, respectable snow such as you see in civilized countries, but it
just piles down as though a new glacial period had descinded upon the
worreld. As it falls all the voices of the smaller streams grow still
and the wind itself grows muffled as though it had a could in the head.
The trees up there are no shrubs you know. They grow three hundred feet
high and have branches in proportion, and whin they git to roarin' and
rockin', it is as though all the armies of the mountains were presentin'

"When the storm dies away, thin it is you see a picture, if the weather
is not too cold. The snow masses itself upon the branches, and thin you
stand in a temple miles in extent, the floor of which is white like
alabaster while the columns that support it are wrought in a lace-work
of emerald and of frost more lofty and dilicate than iver was traced out
by the patient hand of mortal in grand cathadrals."

Here Carlin interrupted.

"Say, Barney, is there not a great deal of frieze to one of those Sierra

"It might same so, lookin' from the standpoint of the nave," was
Barney's quick reply.

Groans followed this outbreak, from various members of the Club. They
were the first puns that had been fired into that peaceful company and
they were hailed as omens of approaching trouble.

The gentle voice of Brewster next broke the silence.

"I saw," he said, "in Salt Lake City, three years ago on a summer
evening, a sunset scene which I thought was very beautiful. The electric
conditions had been strangely disturbed for several days; there had been
clouds and a good deal of thunder and lightning. You know Salt Lake City
lies at the western base of the Wasatch range. On this day toward
evening the sky to the west had grown of a sapphire clearness, but in
the east beyond the first high hills of the range a great electric storm
was raging. The clouds of inky blackness which shrouded the more distant
heights, and through which the lightnings were incessantly zigzaging,
were in full view from the city, though the thunders were caught and
tied in the deep caverns of the intervening hills. To the southeast the
range with its imposing peaks was snow-crowned and under a clear sky. In
the southwest the Oquirrh range was blue and beautiful. Just then from
beyond the great lake the setting sun threw out his shafts of fire, and
the whole firmament turned to glory. The sun blazed from beyond the
waters in the west, the lightnings blazed beyond the nearer hills in the
east, the snowy heights in the southeast were turned to purple, while in
the city every spire, every pane of glass which faced the west, every
speck of metal on house and temple in a moment grew radiant as burnished
gold, and there was a shimmer of splendor in all the air. Then suddenly
over the great range to the east and apparently against the black clouds
in which the lightnings were blazing the glorious arch of a magnificent
rainbow was upreared. All the colors were deep-dyed and perfectly
distinct. There was neither break nor dimness in all the mighty arch.
There it stood, poised in indescribable splendor for quite five minutes.
So wonderful was the display that houses were deserted: men and women
came out into the open air and watched the spectacle in silence and with
uncovered heads.

"No one stopped to think that the glory which shone on high was made
merely by sunlight shining through falling water; the cold explanation
made by science was forgotten, and hundreds of eyes furtively watched,
half expecting to catch glimpses of a divine hand and brush, for the
pictures were rare enough to be the perfect work of celestial beings
sent to sketch for mortals a splendor which should kindle within them
dim conceptions of the glories which fill the spheres where light is

"Salt Lake City is famous for its sunsets, but to this one was added new
and unusual enchantments by the storm which was wheeling its sable
squadrons in the adjacent mountains.

"As I watched that display I realized for the first time how it was that
before books were made men learned to be devout and to pray; for the
picture was as I fancy Sinai must have appeared, when all the elements
combined to make a spectacle to awe the multitude before the mountain;
and when they were told that the terrible cloud on the mountain's crest
was the robe which the infinite God had drawn around Himself in mercy,
lest at a glimpse of His unapproachable brightness they should perish,
it was not strange if they believed it."

It was not often that Brewster talked, but when he did there was about
him a grave and earnest manner which impressed all who heard him with
the perfect sincerity of the man.

After he ceased speaking the room was still for several seconds. At
length the Colonel broke the silence:

"Brewster, you spoke of Sinai. What think you of that story; of the Red
Sea affair; of the Sinai incident, and the golden calf business?"

"Believed literally," Brewster continued, "it is the most impressive of
earthly literature; looked upon allegorically, still it is sublime. Its
lesson is, that when in bondage to sorrow and to care, if we but bravely
and patiently struggle on, the sea of trouble around us will at length
roll back its waves into walls and leave for us a path. Unless we keep
straining onward and upward, no voice of Hope, which is the voice of
God, will descend to comfort us. If we are thirsty we must smite the
rock for water; that is, for what we have we must work, and if we cease
our struggle and go into camp, we not only will not hold our own, but in
a little while we will be bestowing our jewels upon some idol of our own
creation. If we toil and never falter, before we die we shall climb
Pisgah and behold the Promised Land; that is, we shall be disciplined
until we can look every fate calmly in the face and turn a smiling brow
to the inevitable.

"I found a man once, living upon almost nothing, in a hut that had not
one comfort. He had graded out a sharp hillside, set some rude poles up
against the bank, covered them with brush, and in that den on a bleak
mountain's crest he had lived through a rough winter. I asked him how he
managed to exist without becoming an idiot or a lunatic. His answer was
worthy of an old Roman. 'Because,' said he, 'I at last am superior to

"He had reached the point that Moses reached when he gained the last
mountain crest. After that the Promised Land was forever in sight."

"Suppose," asked Savage, "you buy stocks when they are high and sell
them, or have them sold for you, when they are low, where does the
Promised Land come in?"

"What becomes of the 'superior to distress' theory," asked Carlin, "when
a man in his fight against fate gets along just as the men do in the
Bullion shaft, finding nothing but barren rock, and all the time the air
grows hotter and there is more and more hot water?"

"Oh, bother the stocks and the hot water," said Strong. "Professor, we
have heard about the Wasatch Range and Mount Sinai, shake up your memory
and tell us about old Mount Shasta! I heard you describe it once. It is
a grand mountain, is it not?"

"The grandest in America, so far as I have seen," was the reply. "It is
said that Whitney is higher, but Whitney has for its base the Sierras,
and the peaks around it dwarf its own tremendous height. But Shasta
rises from the plain a single mountain, and while all the year around
the lambs gambol at its base, its crown is eternal snow. Men of the
North tell me that it is rivaled by Tacoma, but I never saw Tacoma. In
the hot summer days as the farmers at Shasta's base gather their
harvests, they can see where the wild wind is heaping the snow drifts
about his crest. The mountain is one of Winter's stations, and from his
forts of snow upon its top he never withdraws his garrison. There are
the bastions of ice, the frosty battlements; there his old bugler, the
wind, is daily sounding the advance and the retreat of the storm. The
mountain holds all latitudes and all seasons at the same time in its
grasp. Flowers bloom at its base, further up the forest trees wave their
ample arms; further still the brown of autumn is upon the slopes and
over all hangs the white mantle of eternal winter.

"Standing close to its base, the human mind fails to grasp the immensity
of the butte. But as one from a distance looks back upon it, or from
some height twenty miles away views it, he discovers how magnificent are
its proportions.

"For days will the mountain fold the mist about its crest like a vail
and remain hidden from mortal sight, and then suddenly as if in
deference to a rising or setting sun, the vapors will be rolled back and
the watcher in the valley below will behold gems of topaz and of ruby
made of sunbeams, set in the diadem of white, and towards the sentinel
mountain, from a hundred miles around, men will turn their eyes in
admiration. In its presence one feels the near presence of God, and as
before Babel the tongues of the people became confused, so before this
infinitely more august tower man's littleness oppresses him, and he can
no more give fitting expression to his thoughts.

"It frowns and smiles alternately through the years; it hails the
outgoing and the incoming centuries, changeless amid the mutations of
ages, forever austere, forever cold and pure. The mountain eagle strains
hopelessly toward its crest; the storms and the sunbeams beat upon it in
vain; the rolling years cannot inscribe their numbers on its naked

"Of all the mountains that I have seen it has the most sovereign look;
it leans on no other height; it associates with no other mountain; it
builds its own pedestal in the valley and never doffs its icy crown.

"The savage in the long ago, with awe and trembling, strained his eyes
to the height and his clouded imagination pictured it as the throne of a
Deity who issued the snow, the hoar frost and the wild winds from their
brewing place on the mountain's top.

"The white man, with equal awe, strains his eye upward to where the
sunlight points with ruby silver and gold the mimic glaciers of the
butte, and is not much wiser than the unlettered savage in trying to
comprehend how and why the mighty mass was upreared.

"It is a blessing as well as a splendor. With its cold it seizes the
clouds and compresses them until their contents are rained upon the
thirsty fields beneath; from its base the Sacramento starts, babbling on
its way to the sea; despite its frowns it is a merciful agent to
mankind, and on the minds of those who see it in all its splendor and
power a picture is painted, the sheen and the enchantment of which will
linger while memory and the gift to admire magnificence is left."

"That is good, Professor," said Corrigan; "but to me there is
insupportable loneliness about an isolated mountain. It sames always to
me like a gravestone set up above the grave of a dead worreld. But
spakin' of beautiful things, did yees iver sae Lake Tahoe in her glory?

"I was up there last fall, and one day, in anticipation of the winter, I
suppose, she wint to her wardrobe, took out all her winter white caps
and tied them on; and she was a daisy.

"Her natural face is bluer than that of a stock sharp in a falling
market; but whin the wind 'comes a wooin' and she dons her foamy lace,
powders her face with spray and fastens upon her swellin' breast a
thousand diamonds of sunlight, O, but she is a winsome looking beauty,
to be sure. Thin, too, she sings her old sintimintal song to her shores,
and the great overhanging pines sway their mighty arms as though keeping
time, joining with hers their deep murmurs to make a refrain; and thus
the lake sings to the shore and the shore answers back to the song all
the day long. Tahoe, in her frame of blue and grane, is a fairer picture
than iver glittered on cathadral wall; older, fairer and fresher than
ancient master iver painted tints immortal upon. There in the strong
arms of the mountains it is rocked, and whin the winds ruffle the azure
plumage of the beautiful wathers, upon wather and upon shore a splendor
rists such as might come were an angel to descend to earth and sketch
for mortals a sane from Summer Land."

"You are right, Corrigan," said Ashley. "If the thirst for money does
not denude the shores of their trees, and thus spoil the frame of your
wonderful picture, Lake Tahoe will be a growing object of interest until
its fame will be as wide as the world.

"But while on grand themes, have you ever seen the Columbia River? To me
it is the glory of the earth. It is a great river fourteen hundred miles
above its mouth, and from thence on it rolls to the sea with increasing
grandeur all the way. Where it hews its way through the Cascades a new
and gorgeous picture is every moment painted, and when the mountain
walls are pierced, with perfect purity and with mighty volume it sweeps
on toward the ocean. It is, through its last one hundred and fifty
miles, watched over by great forests and magnificent mountains. There
are Hood and St. Helens and the rest, and where, upon the furious bar,
the river joins the sea, there is an everlasting war of waters as
beautiful as it is terrible.

"It makes a man a better American to go up the Columbia to the Cascades
and look about him. He is not only impressed with the majesty of the
scene, but thoughts of empire, of dominion and of the glory of the land
over which his country's flag bears sovereignty, take possession of him.
He looks down upon the rolling river and up at Mount Hood, and to both
he whispers, 'We are in accord; I have an interest in you,' and the
great pines nod approvingly, and the waterfalls babble more loud.

"The Mississippi has greater volume than the Oregon, the Hudson makes
rival pictures which perhaps are as beautiful as any painted in the
Cascades; but there is a power, a beauty, a purity and a wildness about
the river of the West which is all its own and which is unapproachable
in its charms.

"More than that. To me the river is the emblem of a perfect life.
Through all the morning of its career it fights its way, blazing an
azure trail through the desert. There is no green upon its banks, hardly
does a bird sing as it struggles on. But it bears right on, and so
austere is its face that the desert is impotent to soil it. Then it
meets a rocky wall and breaks through it, roaring on its way. Then it
takes the Willamette to its own ample breast, and it bears it on until
it meets the inevitable, and then undaunted goes down to its grave.

"It fights its way, it bears its burdens, it remains pure and brave to
the last. That is all the best man that ever lived could do."

As Ashley concluded Strong said: "Why, Ashley! that is good. Why do you
not give up mining and devote yourself to writing?"

Ashley laughed low, and said: "Because I have had what repentant sinners
are said to have had, my experience. Let me tell you about it.

"It was in Belmont in Eastern Nevada, during that winter when the small
pox was bad. It took an epidemic form in Belmont, and a good many died.

"Among the victims was Harlow Reed. Harlow was a young and handsome
fellow, a generous, happy-hearted fellow, too, and when he was stricken
down, a 'soiled dove,' hearing of his illness, went and watched over him
until he died.

"The morning after his death, Billy S. came to me, and handing me a slip
of paper on which was Reed's name, age, etc., asked me to prepare a
notice for publication. I fixed it as nearly as I could, as I had seen
such things in newspapers. It read:

     DIED--In Belmont, Dec. 17, Harlow Reed, a native of New Jersey
     aged twenty-three years.

"Billie glanced at the paper and then said: 'Harlow was a good fellow
and a good friend of ours, can you not add something to this notice?'

"In response I sat down and wrote a brief eulogy of the boy, and closed
the article in these words:

     And for her, the poor woman, who braving the dangers of the
     pestilence, went and sat at the feet of the man she loved,
     until he died; for her, though before her garments were soiled,
     we know that this morning, in the Recording Angel's book it is
     written "her robes are white as snow."

"Billie took the paper to the publisher, and as he went away, I had a
secret thought that, all things being considered, the notice was not

"Next morning I went into a restaurant for breakfast and took a seat at
a small table on one side of the narrow room. Directly opposite me were
two short-card sharps. One was eating his breakfast, while the other,
leaning back to catch the light, was reading the morning paper. Suddenly
he stopped, and peering over his paper, though with chair still tilted
back, said to his companion: 'Did you see this notice about that woman
who took care of Harlow Reed while he was sick?'

"'No,' was the reply. 'What is it?' asked the companion.

"'It's away up,' said the first speaker. 'But what is it?' asked the

"The first speaker then threw down the paper, leaned forward, and,
seizing his knife and fork, said shortly:

"'Oh, it's no great shakes after all. It says the woman while taking
care of Harlow got her clothes dirty, but after he died she changed her
clothes and she's all right now.'

"Since then I have never thought that I had better undertake a literary
career so long as I could get four honest dollars a day for swinging a
hammer in a mine; but I have always been about half sorry that I did not
kill that fellow, notwithstanding the lesson that he taught me."

There was a hearty laugh at Ashley's expense, and then Strong roused
himself and said:

"The Columbia is very grand, but you must follow it up to its chief
tributary if you would find perfect glory--follow it into the very
desert. You have heard of the lava beds of Idaho. They were once a river
of molten fire from 300 feet to 900 feet in depth, which burned its way
through the desert for hundreds of miles. To the east of the source of
this lava flow, the Snake River bursts out of the hills, becoming almost
at once a sovereign river, and flowing at first south-westerly, and then
bending westerly, cuts its way through this lava bed, and, continuing
its way with many bends, finally, far to the north merges with the
Columbia. On this river are several falls. First, the American Falls,
are very beautiful. Sixty miles below are the Twin Falls, where the
river, divided into two nearly equal parts, falls one hundred and eighty
feet. They are magnificent. Three miles below are the Shoshone Falls,
and a few miles lower down the Salmon Falls. It was of the Shoshone
Falls that I began to speak.

"They are real rivals of Niagara. Never anywhere else was there such a
scene; never anywhere else was so beautiful a picture hung in so rude a
frame; never anywhere else on a background so forbidding and weird were
so many glories clustered.

"Around and beyond there is nothing but the desert, sere, silent,
lifeless, as though Desolation had builded there everlasting thrones to
Sorrow and Despair.

"Away back in remote ages, over the withered breast of the desert, a
river of fire one hundred miles wide and four hundred miles long, was
turned. As the fiery mass cooled, its red waves became transfixed and
turned black, giving to the double desert an indescribably blasted and
forbidding face.

"But while this river of fire was in flow, a river of water was fighting
its way across it, or has since made the war and forged out for itself a
channel through the mass. This channel looks like the grave of a volcano
that has been robbed of its dead.

"But right between its crumbling and repellant walls a transfiguration
appears. And such a picture! A river as lordly as the Hudson or the
Ohio, springing from the distant snow-crested Tetons, with waters
transparent as glass, but green as emerald, with majestic flow and
ever-increasing volume, sweeps on until it reaches this point where the
august display begins.

"Suddenly, in different places in the river bed, jagged, rocky reefs are
upraised, dividing the current into four rivers, and these, in a mighty
plunge of eighty feet downward, dash on their way. Of course, the waters
are churned into foam and roll over the precipice white as are the
garments of the morning when no cloud obscures the sun. The loveliest of
these falls is called "The Bridal Veil," because it is made of the lace
which is woven with a warp of falling waters and a woof of sunlight.
Above this and near the right bank is a long trail of foam, and this is
called "The Bridal Train." The other channels are not so fair as the one
called "The Bridal Veil," but they are more fierce and wild, and carry
in their furious sweep more power.

"One of the reefs which divides the river in mid-channel runs up to a
peak, and on this a family of eagles have, through the years, may be
through the centuries, made their home and reared their young, on the
very verge of the abyss and amid the full echoes of the resounding boom
of the falls. Surely the eagle is a fitting symbol of perfect
fearlessness and of that exultation which comes with battle clamors.

"But these first falls are but a beginning. The greater splendor
succeeds. With swifter flow the startled waters dash on and within a few
feet take their second plunge in a solid crescent, over a sheer
precipice, two hundred and ten feet to the abyss below. On the brink
there is a rolling crest of white, dotted here and there, in sharp
contrast, with shining eddies of green, as might a necklace of emerald
shimmer on a throat of snow, and then the leap and fall.

"Here more than foam is made. Here the waters are shivered into fleecy
spray, whiter and finer than any miracle that ever fell from India loom,
while from the depths below an everlasting vapor rises--the incense of
the waters to the water's God. Finally, through the long, unclouded
days, the sun sends down his beams, and to give the startling scene its
crowning splendor, wreaths the terror and the glory in a rainbow halo.
On either sullen bank the extremities of its arc are anchored, and there
in its many-colored robes of light it stands outstretched above the
abyss like wreaths of flowers above a sepulcher. Up through the glory
and the terror an everlasting roar ascends, deep-toned as is the voice
of Fate, a diapason like that the rolling ocean chants when his eager
surges come rushing in to greet and fiercely woo an irresponsive

"But to feel all the awe and to mark all the splendor and power that
comes of the mighty display, one must climb down the steep descent to
the river's brink below, and, pressing up as nearly as possible to the
falls, contemplate the tremendous picture. There something of the energy
that creates that endless panorama is comprehended; all the deep
throbbings of the mighty river's pulses are felt; all the magnificence
is seen.

"In the reverberations that come of the war of waters one hears
something like God's voice; something like the splendor of God is before
his eyes; something akin to God's power is manifesting itself before
him, and his soul shrinks within itself, conscious as never before of
its own littleness and helplessness in the presence of the workings of
Nature's immeasurable forces.

"Not quite so massive is the picture as is Niagara, but it has more
lights and shades and loveliness, as though a hand more divinely skilled
had mixed the tints, and with more delicate art had transfixed them upon
that picture suspended there in its rugged and sombre frame.

"As one watches it is not difficult to fancy that away back in the
immemorial and unrecorded past, the Angel of Love bewailed the fact that
mortals were to be given existence in a spot so forbidding, a spot that
apparently was never to be warmed with God's smile, which was never to
make a sign through which God's mercy was to be discerned; that then
Omnipotence was touched, that with His hand He smote the hills and
started the great river in its flow; that with His finger He traced out
the channel across the corpse of that other river that had been fire,
mingled the sunbeams with the raging waters and made it possible in that
fire-blasted frame of scoria to swing a picture which should be, first
to the red man and later to the pale races, a certain sign of the
existence, the power and the unapproachable splendor of the Great First

"And as the red man through the centuries watched the spectacle,
comprehending nothing except that an infinite voice was smiting his
ears, and insufferable glories were blazing before his eyes; so through
the centuries to come the pale races will stand upon the shuddering
shore and watch, experiencing a mighty impulse to put off the sandals
from their feet, under an overmastering consciousness that the spot on
which they are standing is holy ground.

"There is nothing elsewhere like it; nothing half so weird, so wild, so
beautiful, so clothed in majesty, so draped with terror; nothing else
that awakens impressions at once so startling, so winsome, so profound.
While journeying through the desert to come suddenly upon it, the
spectacle gives one something of the emotions that would be experienced
to behold a resurrection from the dead. In the midst of what seems like
a dead world, suddenly there springs into irrepressible life something
so marvelous, so grand, so caparisoned with loveliness and irresistible
might, that the head is bowed, the strained heart throbs tumultuously
and the awed soul sinks to its knees."

The whistles had sounded while Strong was speaking, and as he finished
the good nights were spoken and the lights put out.


With the lighting of the pipes one evening, the conversation of the Club
turned upon what constituted courage and a high sense of honor; whether
they were native or acquired gifts. A good deal of talk ensued, until at
last Wright's opinion was asked:

"You are all right," said he, "and all wrong. Some men are born
insensible to fear, and some have a high sense of honor through
instinct. But this, I take it, is not the rule and comes, I think,
mostly as an hereditary gift, through long generations of proud
ancestors. In my judgment, no gift to mortals is as noble as a lofty,
honest pride. I do not mean that spurious article which we see so much
of, but the pride which will not permit a man or woman to have an
unworthy thought, because of the sense of degradation which it brings to
the breast that entertains it. This, I believe, is more common in women
than in men, and I suppose that it was this divine trait, manifesting
itself in a brutal age, which gave birth to the chivalry of the Middle

"I have known a few men who, I believe, were born without the instinct
of fear. Charley Fairfax was one of these. He was a dead shot with a
pistol. He had some words with a man one day on the street in
Sacramento, and the man being very threatening, Fairfax drew and cocked
his Derringer. At the same moment the man drove the blade of a sword
cane through one of the lungs of Fairfax, making a wound which
eventually proved fatal. Fairfax raised his Derringer and took a quick
aim at the heart of the murderer, but suddenly dropped the weapon and
said: 'You have killed me, but you have a wife and children; for their
sakes I give you your life,' and sank fainting and, as he thought,
dying, into the arms of a friend who caught him as he was falling.

"There are other men as generous as Fairfax was, but to do what he did,
when smarting under a fatal wound, requires the coolness and the nerve
of absolute self-possession.

"Not one man in a million under such circumstances could command himself
enough to think to be generous. Many a man has, for his courage, had a
statue raised to his memory who never did and never could have given any
such proof of a manhood absolutely self-contained as did Fairfax on that

"But, as a rule, we are all mere creatures of education. A friend of
mine came 'round the Horn in a clipper ship. He told me that when off
the cape they encountered a gale which drove the ship far to the
southward; that the weather was so dreadfully cold that the ship's
rigging was sheeted with ice from sleet and frozen spray.

"One evening the gale slackened a little and some sails were bent on,
but toward the turn of the night the wind came on again and the sails
had to be taken in. Said my friend: 'The men went up those swaying masts
and out upon those icy yards apparently without a thought of danger,
while I stood upon the deck fairly trembling with terror merely watching
them.' After awhile the storm was weathered, the cape was rounded and
the ship put into Valparaiso for fresh supplies.

"The sailors were given a holiday. They went ashore and hired saddle
horses to visit some resort a few miles out of town. They mounted and
started away, but within three minutes half of them returned leading
their horses, and one spoke for all when he said: 'The brute is crank; I
am afraid he will broach to and capsize.'

"The men who rode the icy spars off Cape Horn on that inky midnight were
afraid to ride those gentle mustangs.

"There are, I suppose, in this city to-night one hundred men who, with
knife or pistol, would fight anybody and not think much about it. But
what would they do were they placed where I saw Corrigan unconcernedly
working to-day?

"He was sitting on a narrow plank which had been laid across a shaft at
the eight hundred-foot level, repairing a pump column. He was eight
hundred feet from the surface, and there was only that plank between him
and the bottom of that shaft nine hundred feet below. Put the ordinary
ruffian who cuts and shoots on that plank and he would faint and fall
off through sheer fright."

"I guess you are right," interposed Carlin. "There is the Mexican who
lives across the street from us. If I were to take a revolver and go
over there in the morning and attack him, the chances are I would scare
him to death; were I to try the same experiment with a bowie knife the
chances are more than even that he would give me more of a game than I
would want, and simply because he is accustomed to a knife and not to a

"So the mountain trapper will attack a grizzly bear with perfect
coolness, or cross the swiftest stream in a canoe without any fear, but
bring the same man for the first time here to the mine and ask him to
get on a cage with you and go down a shaft, and he will grow pale and
tremble like a girl."

"An Indian," suggested the Professor, "at the side of a white man will
go into a desperate battle and never flinch; so long as the white man
lives he will fight even unto death. But let a white man engage in a
hand to hand fight with two or three Indians, and if he has the nerve to
hold him up to the fight for two or three minutes he will conquer,
because an hereditary fear overcomes the savage that the pale face will
conquer in the end. That is really the cowardice which Falstaff assumed
to feel, the cowardice of instinct in the presence of the true prince,
and is the mark which the Indian mothers have impressed upon their babes
for ten generations.

"The rule is that we follow our trades!"

"Then some men are brave at one time and cowardly at another," said the
Colonel. "Men who will fight without shrinking, by day, are often
completely demoralized by a night attack. With such men the trouble is,
they cannot see to estimate their danger, and their imaginations
multiply and magnify it a hundred fold. I know a man in this city who
has been in a hundred fights, many of them most desperate encounters. He
told me once that he believed it would frighten him to death to be
awakened at night by a burglar in his room.

"This is the fear, too, which paralyzes men in the presence of an
earthquake. The sky may be clear and the air still, but the thought that
in a moment chaos may come is too much for the ordinary nerves of

"The bravest act I ever witnessed was on C street in this city,"
responded Strong. "It was a little Hebrew dunning a desperado for the
balance due on a pair of pantaloons. The amount was six dollars and
fifty cents. I would not have asked the fighter for the money for six
times the sum, but the little chap not only asked for it, but when the
fighter tried to evade him, he seized him by the arm with one hand and
putting the forefinger of his other hand alongside his own nose, in the
most insulting tone possible said: 'You does not get avay. Der man vot
does not bay for his glose is, vots yer call him? one d----d loafer. I
vants my monish.'

"The fighter could no more escape from that eye than a chicken hawk can
from the spell of the eye of the black snake, and so he settled.

"That was the courage which it required the hardships and persecutions
of one hundred generations of suffering men to acquire, and I tell you
there was something thrilling in the way it was manifested."

"So, too, men's ideas of honor are often warped strangely by education,"
Miller said. "Do you remember there was a Frenchman hanged in this city
a few years ago? On the scaffold, with a grandiloquent air, just before
the cap was drawn over his face, he said: 'Zey can hang me, but zey
cannot hang Frawnce.' He had from childhood entertained the belief that
there was but one entirely invincible nation on this earth, and that was
France; and the thought that to the last France must be honored
possessed him.

"That man had murdered a poor woman of the town for her money."

"I should say there were some queer ideas of honor in this country,"
chipped in the Colonel. "I believe the rule among some or all sporting
men is, that it is entirely legitimate to practice any advantage on an
opponent in a game, so long as the same idea controls the opponent.
Still those men have most tenacious ideas of honor. Indeed they have a
code of their own. If one borrows money of another he pays it if he has
to rob someone to do it. If one stakes another--that is gives him money
to play--and a winning is made, the profits are scrupulously divided. If
one loses more at night than he has money to pay, he must have it early
next morning or go into disgrace.

"A friend of mine who lived on Treasure Hill during that first fearful
winter, told me that during that season a faro game was running, and the
owners of the bank had won some thirty-five hundred dollars. The
dealer's habit was to lock up his place in the forenoon and not return
until evening. The interval was his only time for sleep, as the game
frequently ran all night.

"Three or four 'sports' who lived together in a house, had lost heavily
at this game. One morning, one of them said that if he could only get
that dealer's cards for half an hour he believed he could 'fix' them so
that the luck of the boys would change.

"They had for a cook and servant a young man who had confessed that he
left the East without any extensive or extended preparations, and that
he did it to avoid paying a penalty for picking a lock and robbing a

"He was called up, it was explained to him what was wanted and for what
reason, and asked if it was not possible for him to procure those cards.

"The youth took kindly to the proposition, went away, and in a few
minutes returned--not with the cards--but with the dealer's sack of
coin, saying as he laid down the sack: 'As I picked the lock of the
drawer I found the sack and the cards lying side by side. I thought it
would be easier to take the coin than to fool with the cards, and here
it is.'

"Instantly there was a commotion, and a perfect storm of imprecations
was poured out upon the thief. On every side were shouts of: 'Take back
that money! you miserable New York thief! What do you take us for? Take
back that sack or we will sell you for headcheese before night!'

"The youth carried back the coin and brought the cards. They were found
to be 'fixed'; they were 'fixed' over and returned, and that night 'on
the dead square,' the bank was broken. The boys had the sack for the
second time, but this time the transaction, according to their code, was
entirely legitimate.

"By the operation the professional thief obtained new ideas of the nice
distinctions which are made in the gamblers' code of honor."

"I once in Idaho knew a most conscientious judge," said Miller. "In his
court a suit involving the title of some mining ground was pending
between two companies. In another part of the district the Judge had
some claims which were looked upon as mere 'wild cat.'

"He had for a year been trying to raise money to open his claims, but
without avail. He had incorporated with 40,000 shares and held his
shares at one dollar, with the understanding that twenty per cent. of
the stock should be set aside as a working capital. But no one could see
the ground with the sanguine eyes of the Judge, so he still had all his

"But one night quite late the Judge heard a soft knock on the door. In
answer to his 'come in,' the president of the company that was plaintiff
in the mining suit entered, when this conversation ensued:

"'I was looking at your claims over on the east side to-day,' said the
President, 'and I believe they are good and would like some of the

"There is some of it for sale at one dollar,' was the reply.

"'I will take ten thousand shares,' said the President. 'If you please,
have the stock ready and I will call at nine o'clock to-morrow morning
with the money.'

"'I suppose this transaction had better be kept secret at present,'
suggested the Judge.

"'Oh, yes. It is a private speculation of my own and I would rather my
company would not hear of it.'

"'Very well, the stock will be ready.'

"The money was promptly paid and the stock delivered.

"The day of trial drew near, when one day the Judge met the
superintendent of the company which was defendant in the suit. The Judge
told the superintendent that he had some promising claims, and added
impressively that if he could afford to purchase about 10,000 shares he
felt sure that he would do well. The superintendent admitted that he had
examined the claims with considerable care, and believed with the Judge,
that there was promise in them. The result was that the next day another
ten thousand dollars was paid to the Judge and ten thousand more shares
delivered. The Judge deposited sixteen thousand dollars to his own
account and four thousand dollars to the credit of the company. With the
four thousand dollars he let a contract for work on the mine.

"In due time the case in court came on and was decided in favor of the
plaintiff and an appeal provided for. The plaintiff kept still about the
stock transaction, but the superintendent of the defendant company did
not hesitate to declare that the Judge was a thief. So matters ran along
for some months, when one day the aforesaid president and superintendent
each received a note asking them to call at the office of the Judge at a
certain hour. Both responded, and each was greatly surprised to see the

"The Judge opened the business by saying that a grand deposit of ore had
been struck on one of the claims from which enough ore had already been
taken to enable the company to pay a dollar per share dividend on the
capital stock, upon which he pushed a check for ten thousand dollars to
each of the men. He then went on to say that he had that morning
received an offer of two hundred thousand dollars for the property,
which he thought was a fair price, and asked the opinion of the others.
They thought so too, and in a few days the money was paid over and each
of the two received fifty thousand dollars.

"'Now,' said the Judge, 'let me give you some advice. Settle up that
foolish lawsuit outside of court. The claim is not worth what either one
of you will pay out in attorneys' fees if you fight it out in the

"By this time the three men had grown familiar, so the superintendent
ventured to say:

"'Judge, will you tell me what caused you to urge me to buy those

"'I thought it was a good investment,' was the reply.

"'But was not there something else?' asked the superintendent.

"'To tell you the truth,' replied the Judge, 'I had received ten
thousand dollars from the President here, and I was afraid if the matter
went that way into the court I might be prejudiced, so I sold you a like
amount that I might go upon the bench, to try the case, _entirely

"He was a good judge, no doubt, but he ividently had a leaning toward
the east side," said Corrigan.

"That was one case where the only justification was success," said

"He took his chances, that was all," Miller remarked, "and that is the
corner-stone on which every fortune on the coast has been builded. I
mean every fortune in mining."

"That is so," chimed in Carlin. "Mining is simply a grand lottery and is
about as much of a game of chance as poker or faro."

"Oh, no, Carlin," said Strong. "You have picked up the idea that is
popular, but there is nothing to it. I am not referring to mining on
paper, that mining which is done on Pine and California streets. That is
not only gambling, but it is, nine times out of ten, pure stealing. But
what I mean is where a man, or a few men, from the unsightly rock, by
honest labor, wrest something, which all men, barbarous and civilized
alike, hold as precious; something which was not before, but which when
found, the whole world accepts as a measure of values, and the
production of which makes an addition to the world's accumulated wealth,
and not only injures none, but quickens the arteries of trade
everywhere; that is not gambling. Of course there are mistakes, of
course worlds of unnecessary work have been performed, of course hopes
have been blasted and hearts broken through the business, but in this
world men have to pay for their educations. Twenty years ago there was
not a man in America who could work Comstock ores up to seventy-five per
cent. of their money value; only a scholarly few knew anything about the
formations in which ore veins are liable to be found; processes to work
ores and economical methods to open and work mines had to be invented;
so far as the West was concerned the business of mining and reducing
ores had to be created. The results do not justify any man in calling
mining a lottery. In my judgment, it is the most legitimate business in
the world; the only one in which there can be no overproduction, and the
one which, above all others, advances every other industry of the

"When the steam engine was first invented steam boilers blew up every
day. This was no argument against the engine, but was a notice to men to
build better boilers. For the same reason the sixty-pound steel rail has
been substituted for the old wooden rail with an iron strap on top on
railways, and the sixteen ton Pullman car for the old rattle trap that
the slightest collision would smash. The Westinghouse air brake and the
Miller platform are part of the same education.

"By and by men will learn to know the rocks, and when their marks and
signs are reduced to a perfect alphabet the crude work of mining as
carried on now will take on the dignity of a science, and mining will
become what it deserves to be, the most honored of industries."


At length the first sorrow fell upon the Club. The mail brought to
Corrigan one day the news of the death of his mother in New York. It was
a terrible blow to him. It had been his dream all through the years that
he had been absent from his home that some time he would accumulate
money enough to provide her with a home, where around her life every
comfort would be drawn, and from her life every heart-breaking care
would be driven away. But time would not wait for him, and the letter,
which only in gentle words told him of his mother's death, kindled in
his heart such bitter self-reproaches that for awhile the warm-hearted
man's grief was inconsolable.

The Club heartily sympathized with him, but there was little said. The
men who face death daily in a deep mine either come to think, after
awhile, that this life hangs on too tender a thread to be grieved over
so very much when that thread is broken, or, because of the nature of
their occupation, which is necessarily carried on mostly in silence,
they lose the faculty to say the words which in society circles are
intruded upon people who are in deep sorrow.

On this evening the supper was eaten in silence, Corrigan hardly tasting

As the Club took their seats Ashley found opportunity to covertly
whisper to Yap Sing that Corrigan had received bad news and he must
prepare something especially tempting for him to eat. When the meal was
nearly finished Yap Sing brought a mammoth dish of strawberries, a bowl
of sugar and pitcher of cream, and after the noiseless manner of his
race, set them in front of Corrigan's plate. No one else at the table
seemed to notice the act of the Chinaman. Corrigan gave a quick glance
around the table and when he saw that no one else was to be served with
the berries--that it was meant as a special act of sympathy for him--his
eyes filled with tears and he hastily withdrew from the room.

At his leisure during the evening Yap Sing ate the berries and the
cream, remarking to himself as he did so:

"Me heap slory Meester Clorigan; me likee be heap slory ebbly day."

For an hour after supper the Club did little but smoke. At length,
however, Harding, who usually spent his evenings absorbed in reading,
laid aside his book and in his low and kindly voice, began to talk.

"Often when a boy I heard my father tell a story of a woman, a Sister of
Charity, which, I think, may be, it will be good to tell to-night. In
one of the mountain towns of Northern California a good many years ago,
while yet good women, compared to the number of the men, were so
disproportionately few, suddenly one day, upon the street, clad in the
unattractive garb of a Sister of Charity, appeared a woman whose
marvelous loveliness the coarse garments and uncouth hood peculiar to
the order could not conceal.

"There was a Sisters' Hospital in the place and this nun was one of the
devoted women who had come to minister to the sick in that hospital.

"She was of medium size and height, and despite her shapeless garments
it was easy to see that her form was beautiful. The hand that carried a
basket was a delicate one; under her unsightly hood glimpses of a brow
as white as a planet's light could be caught; the coarse shoes upon her
feet were three sizes too large. When she raised her eyes from the inner
depths a light like that of kindly stars shone out, and though a Sister
of Charity, there was something about her lips which seemed to say that
of all famines a famine of kisses was hardest to endure. There was a
stately, kindly dignity in her mien, but in all her ways there was a
dainty grace which, upon the hungry eyes of the miners of that mountain
town, seemed like enchantment. She could not have been more than twenty
years of age.

"It was told that she was known as 'Sister Celeste,' that she had
recently come to the Western Coast, it was believed, from France, and
that was all that was known of her. When the Mother Superior at the
hospital was questioned about the new sister, she simply answered:
'Sister Celeste is a sister now; she will be a glorified saint by and

"The first public appearance of Sister Celeste in the town was one
Sunday afternoon. She emerged from her hospital and started to carry
some delicacy to a poor, sick woman, a Mrs. De Lacy, who lived on the
opposite side of the town from the hospital; so to visit her the nun was
obliged to walk almost the whole length of the one long, crooked street
which, in the narrow canon, included all the business portion of the

"When the nun started out from the hospital the town was full of miners,
as was the habit in those days on Sunday afternoons, and as the Sister
passed along the street hundreds of eyes were bent upon her. She seemed
unconscious of the attention she was attracting; had she been walking in
her sleep she could not have been more composed.

"Many were the comments made as she passed out of the hearing of
different groups of men. One big, rough miner, who had just accepted an
invitation to drink, caught sight of the vision, watched the Sister as
she passed and then said to the companion who had asked him:

"'Excuse me, Bob, I have a feeling as though my soul had just partaken
of the sacrament. No more gin for me to-day.'

"Said another: 'It is a fearful pity. That woman was born to be loved,
and to love somebody better than nine hundred and ninety out of every
thousand could. Her occupation is, in her case, a sin against nature.
Every hour her heart must protest against the starvation which it feels;
every day she must feel upon her robes the clasp of little hands which
are not to be.'

"One boisterous miner, a little in his cups, watched until the Sister
disappeared around a bend in the crooked street, and then cried out:
'Did you see her, boys? That is the style of a woman that a man could
die for and smile while dying. Oh! Oh!' Then drawing from his belt a
buckskin purse, he held it aloft and shouted: 'Here are eighty ounces of
the cleanest dust ever mined in Bear Gulch; it's all I have in the
world, but I will give the last grain to any bruiser in this camp who
will look crooked at that Sister when she comes back this way, and let
me see him do it. In just a minute and a half--but no matter, I'm better
that I have seen her.'

"After that, daily, for all the following week, Sister Celeste was seen
going to and returning from the sick woman's house. It suddenly grew to
be a habit with everybody to uncover their heads as Sister Celeste came

"Sunday came around again, and it was noticed that on that morning the
nun went early to visit her charge and remained longer than usual. On
her return, when just about opposite the main saloon of the place, a
kindly, elderly gentleman, who was universally known and respected,
ventured to cross the path of the Sister, and address her as follows:

"'I beg pardon, good Sister, but you are attending upon a sick person.
We understand that it is a woman. May I not ask if we can not in some
way assist you and the woman?'

"A faint flush swept over the glorious face of Sister Celeste as she
raised her eyes, but simply and frankly, and with a slight French
accent, she answered:

"'The lady, kind sir, is very ill. Unless, in some way, we can manage to
remove her to the hospital, where she can have an evenly warmed room and
close nursing, I fear she will not live; but she is penniless and we are
very poor, and, moreover, I do not see how she can be moved, for there
are no carriages.'

"She spoke with perfect distinctness, notwithstanding the slight foreign
accent. The accent was no impediment; rather from her lips it gave her
words a rhythm like music.

"The man raised his voice: 'Boys,' he shouted, 'there is a suffering
woman up the street. She is very destitute and very ill, and must be
removed to the hospital. The first thing required is some money.' Then,
taking off his hat with one hand, with the other he took from his pocket
a twenty-dollar piece, put the money in the hat, then sprang upon a low
stump that was standing by the trail and added: 'I start the
subscription, those who have a trifle that they can spare will please
pass around this way and drop the trifle into the hat.'

"Then Sister Celeste had a new experience. In an instant she was
surrounded by a shouting, surging, struggling crowd, all eager to
contribute. There was a Babel of voices, but for once a California crowd
were awakened to full roar without an oath being heard. The boys could
not swear in the presence of Sister Celeste.

"In a few minutes between seven and eight hundred dollars was raised. It
was poured out of the hat into a buckskin purse, the purse was tied, and
handed, by the man who first addressed her, to Sister Celeste, with the
remark that it was for her poor and that when she needed more the boys
would stand in.

"Again the nun raised her eyes and in a low voice which trembled a
little, she said:

"'Please salute the gentlemen and say to them that God will keep the

"The man turned around and with an awkward laugh said: 'Boys! I am
authorized, by one of His angels, to say that for your contribution, God
has taken down your names, and given you credit.'

"Then a wild fellow cried out from the crowd:

"'Three cheers for the Angel!'

"The cheers rang out like the braying of a thousand trumpets in accord.
Then in a hoarse under-tone a voice shouted 'Tiger!' and the deep-toned
old-day California 'Tiger' rolled up the hillsides like an ocean roar.
It would have startled an ordinary woman, but Sister Celeste was looking
at the purse, and it is doubtful if she heard it at all.

"Then the first speaker called from the crowd eight men, by name, and

"'You were all married men in the States and for all that I know to the
contrary, were decent, respectable gentlemen. As master of ceremonies I
delegate you, as there are no carriages in this camp, to go to the sick
woman's house, and carry her to the hospital, while the good Sister
proceeds in advance and makes a place for her.'

"This was agreed to, and the Sister was told that in half an hour she
might expect her patient.

"Then she hurried away, the crowd watching her and remarking that her
usual stately step seemed greatly quickened.

"Long afterward, the Mother Superior related that, when Sister Celeste
reached the hospital on that day, she fell sobbing into the Mother's
arms, and when she could command her voice, said: 'Those shaggy men that
I thought were all tigers are all angels disguised. O, Mother, I have
seen them as Moses and Elias were, transfigured.'

"The eight men held a brief consultation in the street, then going to a
store they bought a pair of heavy white blankets, an umbrella and four
pick handles. Borrowing a packer's needle and some twine they began to
sew the pick handles into the sides of the blanket, first rolling the
handles around once or twice in the edges of the blanket. They then
proceeded to the sick woman's house; one went in first and told the sick
woman, gently, what they had come to do, and bade her have no fears,
that she was to be moved so gently that if she would close her eyes she
would not know anything about it. The others were called in; the blanket
was laid upon the floor; the bed was lifted with its burden from the
bedstead and laid on the blanket; the covers were neatly tucked under
the mattress; four men seized the pickhandles at the sides, lifted the
bed, woman and all from the floor, a fifth man stepped outside, raised
the umbrella and held it above the woman's face, and so, as gently as
ever mother rocked her babe to sleep, the sick woman was carried the
whole length of the street to the hospital, where Sister Celeste and the
Mother Superior received her.

"Then all hands went up town and talked the matter over, and I am afraid
that some of them drank a little, but the burden of all the talk and all
the toasts, was Sister Celeste.

"After that the nun was often seen, going on her errands of mercy, and
it is true that some men who had been rough and who had drank hard for
months previous to the coming of the Sister, grew quiet in their lives
and ceased to go to the saloons.

"One day a most laughable event transpired. Two men got quarrelling in
the street which in a moment culminated in a fight. The friends of the
respective men joined and soon there was a general fight in which
perhaps thirty men were engaged. When it was at its height (and such a
fight meant something) Sister Celeste suddenly turned the sharp bend of
the street and came into full view not sixty yards from where the melee
was raging in full fury.

"One of the fighters saw her and made a sound between a hiss and a low
whistle, a peculiar sound of alarm and warning, so significant that all
looked up.

"In an instant the men clapped their hands into their side pockets, and
commenced moving away, some of them whistling low and dancing as they
went, as though the whole thing was but a jovial lark. When Sister
Celeste reached the spot a moment afterward, the street was entirely
clear. The men washed their faces, some wag began to describe the
comical scene which they made when they concluded that the street under
certain circumstances was no good place for a fight; good humor was
restored, the chief combatants shook hands with perfect cordiality, a
drink of reconciliation was ordered all around, and when the glasses
were emptied, a man cried out: 'Fill up once more, boys. I want you to
drink with me the health of the only capable peace officer that we have
ever had in town--Sister Celeste.' The health was drank with enthusiasm.

"The winter came on at length and there was much sickness. Sister
Celeste redoubled her exertions; she was seen at all hours of the day,
and was met, sometimes, as late as midnight, returning from her watch
beside a sick bed.

"The town was full of rough men; some of them would cut or shoot at a
word, but Sister Celeste never felt afraid. Indeed, since that Sabbath
when the subscription was taken up in the street she had felt that
nothing sinister could ever happen to her in that place.

"Once, however, she met a jolly miner who had been in town too long, and
who had started for home a good deal the worse for liquor. She met him
in a lonely place where the houses had been a few days previous burned
down on both sides of the street. Emboldened by rum, the man stepped
directly in front of the nun and said:

"'My pretty Sister, I will give your hospital a thousand dollars for one

"The Sister never wavered; she raised her calm and undaunted eyes to the
face of the man, an incandescent whiteness warmed upon her cheek, giving
to her striking face unwonted splendor. For a moment she held the man
under the spell of her eyes, then stretching her right arm out toward
the sky, slowly and with infinite sadness in her tones said:

"'If your mother is watching from there, what will she think of her

"The man fell on his knees, crying 'pardon,' and Sister Celeste, with
her accustomed stately step, passed slowly on her way.

"Next day an envelope directed to Sister Celeste was received at the
hospital. Within there was nothing but a certificate of deposit from a
local bank for one thousand dollars, made to the credit of the hospital.

"On another occasion the nun had a still harder trial to bear. A young
man was stricken with typhoid fever and sent to the hospital. He was a
rich and handsome man. He had come from the East only a few weeks before
he was taken down. His business in California was to settle the estate
of an uncle recently deceased, who had died leaving a large property.

"When carried to the hospital Sister Celeste was appointed his nurse.
The fever ran twenty-one days, and when it left him finally, he lay
helpless as a child and hovering on the very threshhold of the grave for

"With a sick man's whim, no one could do anything for him but Sister
Celeste. She had to move him on his pillows, give him his medicines and
such food as he could bear. In lifting him her arms were very often
around him and her bosom was so near his breast that she could feel the
throbbing of his heart.

"As health slowly returned, the young man watched the nurse with
steadily increasing interest.

"At length the time came when the physician said that in another week
the patient would require no further attendance, but that he ought, so
soon as possible, to go to the seaside, where the salt air would furnish
him the tonic that he needed most.

"When the physician went away the young man said: 'Sister Celeste, sit
down and let us talk.' She obeyed. 'Let me hold your hand,' he said: 'I
want to tell you of my mother and my home, and with your hand in mine it
will seem as though the dear ones there were by my side.' She gave him
her hand in silence.

"Then he told her of his beautiful home in the East; of the love that
had always been a benediction to that home; of his mother and little
sister, of their daily life and their unbroken happiness.

"Insidiously the story flowed on until at length he said, with returning
health, his business being nearly all arranged, he should return to
those who awaited, anxiously, his coming. And before Sister Celeste had
any time for preparation or remonstrance, the young man added:

"'You have been my guardian angel; you have saved my life. The world
will be all dark without you. You can serve God and, humanity better as
my wife than as a lowly and poor Sister here. Some women have higher
destinies and a nobler sphere to fill on earth than as Sisters of
Charity; you were never meant to be a nun, but a loving wife. Be mine.
If it is the poor you wish to serve, a thousand shall bless you where
one blesses you here; but come with me, filling my mother's heart with
joy and taking your rightful place as my wife. Be my guardian angel

"The face of Sister Celeste was white as the pillow on which her hand
lay; for a moment she seemed choking, while about her lips and eyes
there was a tremulousness as though she was about to break into a storm
of uncontrollable sobs. But she rallied under a tremendous effort at
self-control, gently disengaged her hand from the hand that held it,
rose to her feet and said:

"'I ought not to have permitted this; ought not to have heard what you
said. However, we must bear our cross. I do not belong to the world; but
do not misjudge me, I have not always been as you see me. I can only
tell you this: To a woman now and then there comes a time when either
her heart must break or she must give it to God. I have given mine to
Him. I cannot take it back. I would not if I could.

"'If you suffer a little now, you will forget it with returning
strength. I only ask that when you are strong and well and far away, you
will sometimes remember that the world is full of heart aches. Comfort
as many as you can. And now, God bless you, and farewell.'

"She laid her hand a moment on his brow, then drew it down upon his
cheek, where it lingered for a moment like a caress, and then she was

"After that the Mother Superior became the young man's nurse until he
left the hospital. He tried hard, but never saw Sister Celeste again.
While he remained in the place she ceased to appear on the street.

"Another year passed by and Sister Celeste grew steadily in the love of
the people. With the winter months some cases of smallpox broke out. The
country was new, the people careless, and no particular alarm was felt
until the breaking out of ten cases in one day awakened the people to
the fact that the disease prevailed generally.

"Sister Celeste labored almost without rest, night or day, until the
violence of the contagion had passed; then she was stricken. She
recovered, but was shockingly marked by the disease.

"She was in a darkened room, and how to break to her the news of her
disfigurement was a matter of sore distress to the other nuns. But one
day, to a Sister who was watching by her bed side, she suddenly said:

"'I am almost well now, Sister. Throw back the blinds and bring me a
mirror,' and, with a gentle gaiety that never forsook her when with her
sister nuns, she added: 'It is time that I began to admire myself.'

"The nun opened the blinds, brought the glass, laid it upon the bed and
sat down in fear and trembling.

"Sister Celeste, without glancing at the mirror, laid one hand upon it,
and, shading her eyes with the other hand, for a moment was absorbed in
silent prayer. Then she picked up the glass and held it before her face.
The watching nun; hardly breathing and in an agony of suspense, waited.
After a long, earnest look, without a shade passing over her face,
Sister Celeste laid down the glass, clasped her hands and said: 'God be
praised! Now all is peace. Never, never again will my face bring sorrow
to my heart.'

"The waiting nun sank, sobbing, to her knees; but as she did so, she
saw, on the face of the stricken woman, a smile which she declared was
as sweet as the smile of God.

"With the return of health, Sister Celeste again took up her work of
mercy, and for a few months more her presence was a benediction to the
place. At last, however, it began to be noticed that her presence on the
street was less frequent than formerly, and soon an unwelcome rumor
began to circulate that she was ill. The truth of this was soon
confirmed, and then, day by day, for some weeks, the report was that she
was growing weaker and weaker, and finally, one morning, it was known
that she was dead.

"A lady of the place who was greatly attached to Sister Celeste, because
of that attachment and because of her devotion to 'Mother Church,' was
permitted to watch through the last hours of the nun's life. Of the
closing moments of the glorified woman's life she gave the following

"For an hour the dying nun had been motionless, as though hushed in a
peaceful sleep. When the first rays of the dawn struck on the window, a
lark lighted on the sill, and in full voice warbled its greeting to the
day. Then the Sister opened her eyes, already fringed by the death
frost, and in faint and broken sentences murmured:

"'A delicious vision has been sent me. _Deo gratias_, every act meant in
kindness that I have ever done, in the vision had become a flower,
giving out an incense ineffable. These had been woven into a diadem for
me. Every word, meant in comfort or sympathy, that I have ever spoken,
had been set to exquisite music, which voices and harps not of this
world were singing and playing while I was being crowned. Every tear of
mine shed in pity had become a precious gem. These were woven into the
robes of light that they drew around me. A glass was held before me;
from face and bosom the cruel scars were all gone, and to eye and brow
and cheek the luster and enchantment of youth had returned, and near all

"'The eyes, with a look of inexpressibly joyous surprise in them, grew
fixed, and all was still save where on the casement the lark was
repeating her song.'

"Among the effects left by Sister Celeste was found a package addressed
to the same lady who had watched during the closing hours of the dead
nun's life. This was brought to her by the Mother Superior. On being
opened, within was found another package, tied with silver strings,
sealed with wax, and the seal bore the date on which she took her vows.
This in turn was opened, and a large double locket was revealed. In one
side was the picture of a young man in the uniform of a French colonel.
From the other side a picture had evidently been hastily removed, as
though in a moment of excitement, for there were scars upon the case
which had been made by a too impetuous use of some sharp instrument. On
the outer edge of the case was a half-round hole, such as a bullet
makes, and there were dark stains on one side of the case. Below the
picture in a woman's delicate hand-writing, were the words: 'Henrie.
Died at Majenta.'

"The lady called the Mother Superior aside and showed her the picture.
Tears came to the faded eyes of the devoted woman.

"'Now God be praised!' said she. 'Three nights since, as I watched by
the poor child, I heard her murmur that name in her fevered sleep, and I
was troubled, for I feared she was dreaming of the youth she nursed back
to life here in the hospital. It was not so. Her work was finished on
earth, she was nearing the spheres where love never brings sorrow; her
soul was already outstretching its wings to join--' the poor nun
stopped, breathed short and hard a few times, and then incoherently
began to tell her beads in Latin.

"While they were conversing the body of Sister Celeste lay dressed for
the grave in another apartment, watched over by two Sisters. When the
Mother Superior ceased speaking, the lady said to her:

"Mother, come with me to where Sister Celeste is sleeping! When we reach
the room, send the watchers away, and then do not look at me. I want to
put this picture away.'

"The Mother Superior was strangely agitated, but she led the way to the
room, bade the nuns there go and get some rest, then knelt by the foot
of the casket, and bowed her head in prayer.

"The lady slipped the locket beneath the folds of the winding sheet,
where it lay above the pulseless heart of the dead nun.

"The whole population of the place were sorrowing mourners at the
obsequies of Sister Celeste, and for years afterward, every morning, in
summer and winter, upon her grave, a dressing of fresh flowers could be

"On the day of the funeral the miners made up a purse and gave it to
Mrs. De Lacy, the consideration being that every day for a year, the
grave of the Sister should be flower-crowned. The contract was renewed
yearly until Mrs. De Lacy moved away. In the meantime a wild rosebush
and cypress had been planted beside the grave, and they keep watch there

The good-night whistles had already blown when Harding finished his
story. Not much was said as the Club retired, but Corrigan,
understanding why the story had been told, in silence wrung Harding's


The Club had now been running a month. It had been most enjoyable. When
Yap Sing had been installed as cook and housekeeper he was given a
memorandum book, on the first page of which was written an order for
such supplies as the Club might require at the stores and markets.
Brewster had objected to this at first, inasmuch as the Mongolian was a
stranger, and because it was not good to make bills. But he was
overruled by the explanation that almost everything required, except
fresh vegetables and, now and then, fresh meat, had already been
provided, and that the Chinaman could not cheat very much with seven men
to watch him.

But from the first day the Club fared sumptuously. Yap Sing was a
thorough artist in his way. He had a trick of preparing substantials and
dainties, and of arranging a table, which was wonderful. His breakfasts
and suppers were masterpieces, and daily as the dinner buckets, which
Yap Sing had filled, were opened at the mines, the members of the Club
were the envy of all the men, underground, who were their companions. It
was a change from the boarding houses, so delicious, that the members of
the Club did not care to consider what the probable extra expense would
be. Moreover, each had a feeling that so long as the rest were satisfied
it was not worth while to interrupt the pleasant course which events
were taking by intruding questions which possibly might lead to
unpleasant developments.

But on pay day the bills were sent in. For provisions and crockery they
amounted to more than three hundred dollars, or about one dollar and a
half per day for each member of the Club. This was in addition to the
stock of food purchased at the beginning.

The first thought was that Yap Sing had been robbing the Club. He was
called in, confronted with the bills and questioned as to what he had to
say to the amount.

He declared it to be his belief that it was "belly cheapee."

Miller took up the case for the plaintiffs and said: "But, Yap, you
understand when you came here a month ago we had plenty of
provisions--flour, butter, bacon, lard, tea, coffee, sugar--everything
required except fresh vegetables and, now and then, fresh meat."

"Yes, me sabbe; got plentie now, allee samee," said Yap.

"But, Yap," said Miller, "you know in boarding-houses and restaurants
board is only eight dollars a week. Besides what you had at the
beginning, this is costing a dollar and a half a day for each one of us.
What have you to say to that?"

"Me say him heap cheapee," said Yap. "Me no care for bloarding-housie;
me no care for lestaulent; me heap sabbie 'em. You likie 'em, you
bletter go lare eatie. You no likie loyster; you likie hashie. You no
likie tlenderloin; you likie corn beefe. You no likie turkie; you likie
bull beefe. You no likie plum puddie; you likie dlied apples. All litie,
me cookie him; me no care. You no likie bloiled tongue, loast chickie
and devil ham for dinner bucket; you likie blead and onion. All litie,
me fixie him. You wantie one d----d cheapee miners' bloarding-housie.
All litie, no difflence me."

It was hard to argue the point with the countryman of Confucius.
Notwithstanding the magnificent fare, the impression was general that
Yap Sing had been feeding three or four of his cousins and making a
little private pocket change for himself by the transaction, but it
would have been useless to try to convict him. Indeed, it would have
been impossible, for when any particularly outrageous item was pointed
out he would cite some special occasion when he had outdone himself in
his art.

"What a time-keeper he would make for a mine!" said Carlin. "He would
have his pay-roll full every day if he had to rob a graveyard of all the
names on its monuments to fill it."

"What a superintendent he would make!" said Miller. "There would not be
an item in the monthly accounts that he would not be prepared to explain
with entire satisfaction and appalling promptness, and all the time he
would have looked like a sorrowful statue of unappreciated innocence."

"What a mining expert he would be!" said Ashley. "With his faculty for
making doubtful things look plausible, and his powers of expression, he
would convince the ordinary man that he could see further into the
ground than you could bore with a diamond drill."

"But his cooking is lovely; you must all admit that," said Wright.

"If there be blame anywhere, it rests on us," said Brewster, "for we
could all see that we were living a little high, and yet not one of us
so much as cautioned Yap to go slow."

It was finally decided that there must be a return to sound and economic
principles. Yap was paid his month's salary and instructed that, in
future, the fare must be reduced to plain, solid miner's food. The money
to pay all the bills, together with what was due on the previous month,
and also the rent, was contributed and placed in Miller's hands as
treasurer and paymaster, that he might pay the accounts, and the Club
settled down to its pipes and conversation.

In the meantime the honorary members had come in. As usual, the first
theme was the condition of stocks. Miller believed that Silver Hill was
the best buy on the lode, Corrigan had heard that day that a secret
drift had been run west from the thirteen hundred level of the Con.
Virginia; that up in the Andes ground an immense body of ore had been
cut through, but that nothing would come of it until the Bonanza firm
could gather in more of the stock. Carlin was disposed to believe that a
development was about to be made in Chollar Potosi, because during the
past month the superintendent had come up twice from Oakland,
California, to look at the property. Strong was disposed to unload all
the stocks that he had and invest in Belcher and Crown Point because the
superintendent of both mines had that day assured him that they had no
developments worth mentioning.

At length the conversation turned on silver. The Club had that day
received a portion of their month's pay in silver, and some grumbled,
thinking they should have received their full wages in gold. After a
good deal had been said, the Professor, who had been quietly reading and
had taken no part in the discussion, was asked for his opinion. He
answered as follows:

"It is not right to pay laboring men in a depreciated currency; it is a
still greater wrong that there is a discount on silver. It is the
steadiest measure of values that mankind has ever found; it is the only
metal that three-fifths of the human race can measure their daily
transactions in; its full adoption by our Government, as a measure of
values and basis of money, would mean prosperity; its rejection during
the past five years and the denying to it its old sovereignty, have
wrought incalculable loss.

"Here on the Comstock it sleeps in the same matrix with gold, the
proportion in bullion being about forty-four per cent. gold to fifty-six
per cent. silver. The Nation cannot make a better adjustment than to
keep that proportion good in her securities. Five years ago silver
commanded a premium over gold. Since then two dollars in gold to one in
silver have been taken from the earth, but silver is at a discount,
because through unwise if not dishonest legislation, its sovereignty as
a measure of values, its recognition as money was taken away. The whole
burden was put upon gold, and the result is that the purchasing power of
gold has been enhanced, and silver is, or seems to be, at a discount.
Those who have accomplished this wrong affect to scorn the proposition
that legislation could restore to silver its old value, ignoring the
fact that the present apparent depreciation is due entirely to
unfriendly legislation, and conveniently forgetting that with silver,
everything else is at a discount when measured by gold. That is, gold is
inflated by the discriminations which have been made in its favor. The
chief use of silver in the world is for a measure of values, as the
chief use of wheat is for material out of which to make bread. Were men
forbidden to make any more bread from wheaten flour and compelled to use
corn meal as a substitute, would the present prices of wheat and corn
remain respectively the same?

"Silver should be restored to its old full sovereignty, side by side
with gold. Then, in this country, just as little of either metal as
possible should be used in men's daily transactions. Handling gold and
silver directly in trade is but continuing the barter of savage men, and
is a relic of a dark age. Moreover, the loss by abrasion is very great.
Both metals should be cast into ingots and their values stamped upon
them. Then they should be stored in the Treasury and certificates
representing their value should be issued as the money of the people. If
this makes the Government a banker no matter, so long as it supplies to
the people a money on which there can be no loss. The thought that this
would drain our land of gold has not much force, because the trade
balances are coming our way and will soon be very heavy; if the gold
shall be taken away something will have to be returned in lieu of it,
and after all the truth is that four-fifths of our people do not see a
gold piece twice a year. Our internal commerce is very much greater than
our foreign commerce, and to keep that moving without jar should be the
first anxiety of American statesmen. For that purpose nothing could be
better than the silver certificate.

"The Government has commenced to coin silver and has partially
remonetized it. It is only partial because gold is still made the
absolute measure of values and preference is reserved for it in ways
which will keep silver depressed until there shall come a demand for it
which cannot at once be met; then it will be discovered that it is still
one of the precious metals and it will take its place in trade as it has
its place here in the mines, side by side and the full brother of gold.
Were the Government to-morrow to commence to absorb and hoard all the
product of our mines and keep this up for a generation, issuing
certificates on the same for the full value, at the end of about thirty
years there would be on deposit as security for the paper afloat more
than one thousand millions of dollars. This seems like a vast sum, but
it would then amount to but ten dollars per capita for our people. You
have each received two and a half times that amount to-day on account of
your last month's wages, and the only serious inconvenience it has
inflicted upon you is the discount which wicked legislation has given to

"But long before one thousand millions in silver could be secured it
would command a premium, because that would mean one-fourth of all the
silver in circulation, and this old world cannot spare to one Nation
that amount and still keep her commerce running and the arts supplied."

"But, Professor," said Alex, "why hoard the metals? Why may not money be
represented by paper backed by the Nation's faith? Why pile up the
metals in the Government vaults when the printing press can supply as
good money as the people want?"

"That," replied the Professor, "is an argument for times of peace and
prosperity only. The failure of one crop would so lessen the faith of
the people that a serious discount would fall upon the money that was
only backed by faith. And suppose Europe were to combine to fight the
United States, then what would the loss be to the people? We can only
estimate the amount by thinking what the United States currency was
worth in 1864.

"Such a combination is not at all impossible. There is a vast country to
the south of us, the trade of which should be ours, and with the
Governments of which we have notified Europe there must be no
interference from beyond the Atlantic. There are channels for ships to
be hewed through the Spanish American Isthmus, and their control is to
become a question.

"Above all, the light and majesty of our Republic are becoming a terror
to the Old World. Think of it. The immigrants that come to us annually,
together with the young men and women that annually reach their majority
here, are enough to supply the places of all the people of this coast
were they to go away. Who can estimate the swelling strength that is
sufficient to fully equip a new state annually?

"Before the spectacle thrones are toppling and kings sleep on pillows of
thorns. If our soil was adjacent to Europe, the nations would combine
and assail us to-morrow, in sheer self-defense. They have tremendous
armies; they are accumulating mighty navies and arming them as ships
were never armed before. Suppose that sometime they decide that the
world's equilibrium is being disturbed by the Great Republic, even as
they did when Napoleon the first became their terror, and that, as with
him, they determine that our country shall be divided or crushed. What
then? Of course they will maneuver to have a rebellion in our country
and espouse the cause of the weaker side. This is what nearly happened
in 1862; what would have surely happened had not Great Britain possessed
the knowledge that if she joined with France in the proposed scheme,
whatever the outcome might be, one thing was certain, for a season at
least, there would be no night on the sea; the light made by British
ships in flames would make perpetual day.

"Then ocean commerce was carried mostly in ships that had to trust alone
to the fickle winds for headway. In twenty years more steam will be the
motive power for carrying all valuable freights, and will be
comparatively safe as against pursuing cruisers.

"Imagine such a crisis upon us, what then would the unsupported paper
dollar be worth? But imagine that behind the Republic there was in the
treasury a thousand millions of dollars in silver, the original money of
the world, and another thousand millions in gold, what combination of
forces could place the money of the Nation in danger of loss by

"Gold and silver when produced are simply the measures of the labor
required to produce them; they are labor made imperishable; and when
either is destroyed--and demonetization is destruction--just so much
labor is destroyed, and you who work have to make up the loss by working
more hours for a dollar. You are supposed to receive the same wages that
the miners did who worked on this lode six years ago, for a month's
work. But you do not because, through the mistake of honest men or the
manipulation of knaves, twenty per cent. of the twenty-five dollars paid
you in silver for last month's work has been destroyed; and now those
who have dealt this blow insist that money can in no wise be changed in
value by legislation.

"The trouble is our law-makers do not estimate at half its worth their
own country. They stand in awe of what they call the money centers of
the world, and refuse to see that already the world is placed at a
disadvantage by our Republic; that within thirty years all existing
nations, all the nations that have existed through all the long watches
of the past, will, in material wealth and strength, seem mean and poor
in comparison with our own.

"Look at it! Five hundred thousand foreigners absorbed annually, and not
a ripple made where they merge with the mighty current of our people!
What is equal to a new State, with all its people and equipments,
launched upon the Union every year--it makes me think of the Creator
launching worlds--with immeasurable resources yet to be utilized; the
wealth of the country already equal to that of Great Britain, with all
her twelve hundred years of spoils; all our earnings our own; no five
millions of people toiling to support another million that stand on
guard, as is required in France and Germany and Russia and Austria and
Italy; our great Southern staple commanding tribute from all the world;
hungry Europe looking to our Northern States for meat and bread, and to
our rivers for fish; our Western miners supplying to business the tonic
which keeps its every artery throbbing with buoyant health, while over
all is our flag, which symbols a sovereignty so awful in power and yet
so beneficent in mercies, that while the laws command and protect, they
bring no friction in their contact; rather they guarantee the perfect
liberty of every child of the Republic, to seize with equal hand upon
every opportunity for fortune, or for fame, which our country holds
within her august grasp.

"To carry on the business of such a land an ocean of money is needed,
and infinitely more will be required in future. And for this money there
must be a solid basis; not merely a faith which expands with this year's
prosperity and contracts with next year's calamity; not something which
the death of a millionaire or a visitation of grasshoppers will throw
down; but something which is the first-born child of labor, and is
therefore immortal and without change. This is represented by gold and
silver, and to commerce they are what 'the great twin brethren' at Lake
Regillus were to Rome."

When the Professor ceased speaking, Harding said: "Professor, what you
have been saying about our Republic sounds to me almost like a
coincidence. Did you dream what you have been saying?"

The Professor replied that he did not, and asked what in the world
prompted such a question.

Harding smiled and blushed, and then said: "Because I had a dream last

All wanted to hear what it was.

"You won't laugh, Carlin?" said Harding.

Carlin said he would not.

"And you will not call me a fool, Wright?" Harding asked.

Wright promised to conceal his sentiments, if necessary.

"You will not call it a mirage, Corrigan?" asked Harding.

Corrigan agreed to refrain.

"And, Colonel, you will not ask mysterious questions about who usually
sits as a commission of lunacy in Virginia City?" Harding inquired.

The Colonel agreed to restrain himself.

"And, Alex, you will not expose me in the paper?" questioned Harding.

Alex promised to be merciful to the public.

In final appeal, Harding said: "And you, Professor, you will not say it
is a tough, hard formation and too nearly primitive to carry any

The Professor assured him that faults and displacements were common in
the richest mineral-bearing veins.

"Well," said Harding, "I was tired and nervous last night. I could not
sleep, and so determined to get up and read for an hour. I happened to
pick up a volume of Roman history, and became so absorbed in it that I
read for an hour or two more than I ought to. I went to bed at last, and
my body dropped to sleep in a moment, but my brain was still half awake,
and for a while ran things on its own account in a confused sort of a

"I thought I was sitting here alone, when, suddenly, a stranger appeared
and began to pace, slowly, up and down the room. He had an eye like a
hawk, nose like an eagle's beak and an air that was altogether martial.
His walk had the perfect, measured step of the trained veteran soldier.
After watching him for a little space, I grew bold and demanded of him
his name and business. When I spoke the sound of my own voice startled
me, for he was more savage looking than a shift boss. He turned round to
me--don't laugh, I pray you--and said:

"'I am that Scipio to whom Hannibal the terrible capitulated. I was
proud of my Rome and my Romans. We were the "Iron Nation," truly. All
that human valor and human endurance could do we accomplished. Amid the
snows of the Alps and the sands of Africa we were alike invincible. We
were not deficient either in brain power. We left monuments enough to
abundantly establish that fact. To us the whole civilized world yielded
fealty, but we were barbarians after all. Listen!'

"Just then there floated in through the open window what seemed a full
diapason of far-off but exquisite music.

"'Do you know what that is?' he asked. 'It is the echo of the melody
which the children of this Republic awaken, singing in their free
schools. It smites upon and charms the ear of the sentinel angel, whose
station is in the sun, through one-eighth of his daily round; those
echoes that with an enchantment all their own ride on the swift pinions
of the hours over all the three thousand miles between the seas.

"My Rome had nothing like that. We trusted alone to the law of might,
and though we tried to be just, the slave was chained daily at our
gates; we sold into slavery our captives taken in war; we fought
gladiators and wild beasts for the amusement of our daughters and wives;
we never learned to temper justice with mercy; only the first leaves of
the book of knowledge were opened to us; our brains and our bodies were
disciplined, but our hearts were darkened and we perished because we
were no longer fit to rule.

"'Whether by evolution the world has advanced, or whether, indeed, the
lessons of that Nazarene, whom our soldiers crucified, are bearing
celestial fruit, who knows! But surely our Rome, with all its power, all
its splendor, all its heroic men and stately women; its victories in the
field, its pageants in the Imperial City on the days when, returning
from a conquest, our chieftians were laurel-crowned; our art, our
eloquence--all, were nothing compared with this song of songs. It
started at first where the sullen waves wash against Plymouth Rock; it
swelled in volume while the deep woods gave place to smiling fields;
over mountain and desert it rolled in full tones and only ceases, at
last, where the roar of the deep sea, breaking outside the Golden Gate,
or meeting in everlasting anger the Oregon upon her stormy bar, gives
notice that the pioneer must halt at last in his westward march.'

"As he ceased to speak the melody was heard again, sweeter, clearer and
fuller than before. My guest faded away before me and I awoke. In all
the air there was no sound save the deep respirations of the hoisting
engine in the Norcross works, and the murmur of the winds, as on slow
beating wings they floated up over the Divide and swept on, out over the

The verdict of the Club was that if old Scipio talked in that strain he
had softened down immensely since the days when he was setting his
legions in array against the swarthy hosts of the mighty Carthagenian.

After a while Corrigan spoke: "You native Americans," he said, "at least
the majority of yees, do not half appreciate your country. I was but a
lad whin, after a winter of half starvation, in the care of an uncle, I
lift Ireland in an English imigrant ship. One mornin' as me uncle and
meself were watchin' from the deck a sail rose out of the say directly
in our path. It grew larger and larger, in a little while the hull
appeared, and soon after we could discern that it was a frigate. The
wind was off her beam, blowing fresh; every sail was crowded on, and as
her black beak rose and fell with the says, I thought her more beautiful
than the smile of the sunlight on the hills of Kildare. Half careened as
she was under the pressure on her sails, but still resolutely rushing
on, she made a pictur' of courage which has shone before me eyes a
thousand times since, when me heart has been heavy. She drew quite near,
and as she swung upon her tack her flag was dipped in salute. Then me
uncle bent and said: 'Barney, lad, mark will that flag! That is an
Amirican ship of war.'

"Great God! Child that I was, I think in that moment I knew how the
young mother feels, when in the curtained dimness of her room, she half
fainting, hears the blissful whisper that unto her is born a son.

"There was the ensign of the land which held all joy in thought for us;
which to us opened the gates of hope; that wondrous land in the air of
which the pallid cheek of Want grows rosy red and Irish hearts cast off
hereditary dispair.

"I rushed forward, where thray hundred imigrants were listlessly
lounging about the deck, and, in mad excitement, shouted: 'See! See! It
is the Amirican flag!' Just then the sunlight caught in its folds and
turned it to gold.

"O, but thin there was a transformation sane. Ivery person on that deck
sprang up and shouted. Men waved their hats and women embraced each
other, and with a mighty 'All Hail' those Irish imigrants--Irish no
longer, but henceforth forever to be Amiricans--greeted that flag. In
response the marines manned the yards, and off to us across the wathers
came the first ringing Amirican chare that we had iver heard. We
answered back with a yell like that which might have been awakened at
Babel. It was not a disciplined chare, but simply a wild cry of joy, and
it was none the less hearty that over us swung haughtily the red cross
of St. George.

"You native Amiricans are like spiled children, that niver having known
an unsatisfied want, surfeit on dainties."

Corrigan relapsed into silence, but his eyes were glistening and there
was a tremble about his lips. His mind was still in the burial place,
where "memory was calling up its dead."

While the spell of Barney's words was still upon the Club, Yap Sing
softly opened the door and announced that the evening luncheon was
ready. The heathen had inaugurated these luncheons on the first day of
his coming. They were at once accepted and had become a regular thing.
Seeing that they were received approvingly, Yap had exhausted every
device to make them a marked feature of the Club.

On this occasion the table was fully set, but there was no food on the
table. Beside each plate stood a glass of water and a dish of salt. When
the company was seated, Yap went to the cooking range, took out and set
upon the table an immense platter which was piled high with huge baked
potatoes, after which, with a face utterly destitute of expression, he
went to his bench in the corner of the room and sat down.

Wright, who was nearest him, said: "What is the matter, Yap? Are you

"Nothing matter; me no sickie," said Yap.

"But why do you not bring on the supper?" asked Wright.

"No catchie any more," was the answer.

"What! Just potatoes straight, Yap? What is the matter?" said Wright.

"I no sabbie what's the matter," said the sullen Oriental. "You livie
belly cheapie now. Potato belly good. Blenty potato, blenty saltie,
blenty cold water; no makie you sickie; I dink belly good."

The Club took in the situation with great hilarity; the cause of Yap
Sing's frugality was briefly explained to the guests; each seized a
potato and commenced their meal.

At length Carlin asked Yap Sing if he could not furnish a little butter
with the salt. Yap shook his head resolutely, and said:

"No catchie. Blutter five bittie [sixty-two and a half cents] one pound.
No buy blutter for five bittie to putee on potato; too muchie money
allee time pay out for hashie."

Then Ashley asked for a pickle, but Yap Sing was firm. Said he: "Pickle
slix bittie one bottle; no can standee."

A great many other things were banteringly asked for, from cold tongue
and horse-radish to blackberry jam; but the imperturbable face of the
Mongolian never relaxed and his ears remained deaf to all entreaties.

The potatoes were eaten with a decided relish, though there was no
seasoning except salt, and when the repast was over the Club still sat
at the table while the Colonel delivered a dissertation upon the virtues
of the potato in general and upon the Nevada potato in particular. He
insisted that the potato was the great modern mind food, and instanced
the effect of potato diet upon the people of Ireland, pointing out that
the failure of a crop there meant mental prostration and despair, while
the news of a bountiful crop was a certain sign of a lively revolution
within the year. From a scientific standpoint he demonstrated that no
where else on the continent were the conditions absolutely perfect for
producing potatoes that were potatoes, except upon the high, dry,
slightly alkaline table lands between the Sierras and the Wasatch Range,
and, giving his lively imagination full play, he pictured that region as
it would be fifty years hence; when transportation shall be reduced;
when artesian wells shall be plenty; when the rich men of the earth will
not be able to give entertainments without presenting their guests with
Nevada or Utah potatoes, and when to say that a man has a potato estate
in the desert will be as it now is to say that a man has a wheat farm in
Dakota, an orange orchard in Los Angeles, or a cotton plantation in

While talking, the Colonel managed, between sentences, to dispose of a
second potato.

When the pipes were resumed, the joke of Yap Sing was fully discussed,
and finally the Chinese question came up for consideration.

Strong took up this latter theme and said:

"The men of the Eastern States think that we of the West are a cruel,
half-barbarous race, because we look with distrust upon the swelling
hosts of Mongolians that are swarming like locusts upon this coast. They
say: 'Our land has ever been open to the oppressed, no matter in what
guise they come. The men of the West are the first to stretch bars
across the Golden Gate to keep out a people. And this people are
peaceable and industrious; all they petition for is to come in and work.
Still, there is a cry which swells into passionate invective against
them. It must be the cry of barbarism and ignorance. It surely fairly
reeks with injustice and cruelty and sets aside a fundamental principle
of our Government which dedicates our land to freedom and opens all its
gates to honest endeavor.'

"Those people will not stop to think that we came here from among
themselves. We were no more ignorant, we were no worse than they when we
came away. We have had better wages and better food since our coming
than the ordinary men of the East obtain. Almost all of us have dreamed
of homes, of wives and children that are men's right to possess, but
which are not for us; and though they of the East do not know it, this
experience has softened, not hardened our hearts, toward the weak and
the oppressed. If they of the East would reflect they would have to
conclude that it is not avarice that moves us; that there must be a less
ungenerous and deeper reason.

"Our only comfort is, that, by and by, maybe while some of us still
live, those men and women who now upbraid us, will, with their souls on
their knees, ask pardon for so misjudging us.

"We quarantine ships when a contagion is raging among her crew; we frame
protective laws to hold the price of labor up to living American rates;
New England approves these precautions, but when we ask to have the same
rules, in another form, enforced upon our coast, her people and her
statesmen, in scorn and wrath, declare that we are monsters.

"There is Yap Sing in the kitchen. You have just paid him forty dollars
for a month's work. All the clothes that he wears were made in China. If
he boarded himself, as nearly as possible, he would eat only the food
sent here from China. Of his forty dollars just received, thirty at
least will be returned to China and be absorbed there. There are one
hundred thousand of his people in this State and California. We will
suppose that they save only thirty cents each per day. That means, for
all, nine hundred thousand dollars per month, or more than ten million
dollars per annum that they send away. This is the drain which two
States with less than one million inhabitants are annually subjected to.
How long would Massachusetts bear a similar drain, before through all
her length and breadth, her cities would blaze with riots, all her air
grow black with murder? Ireland, with six times as many people, and with
the richest of soils, on half that tax, has become so poor that around
her is drawn the pity of the world.

"'But,' say the Eastern people, 'you must receive them, Christianize
them, and after awhile they will assimilate with you.'

"Waiving the degradation to us, which that implies, they propose an
impossibility. They might just as well go down to where the Atlantic
beats against the shore, and shout across the waste to the Gulf stream,
commanding it to assimilate with the 'common waters' of the sea. Not
more mysterious is the law that holds that river of the deep within its
liquid banks, than is the instinct which prevents the Chinaman from
shaking off his second nature and becoming an American. He looks back
through the halo of four thousand years, sees that without change, the
nation of his forefathers has existed, and with him all other existing
nations except Japan and India and Persia, are parvenues.

"For thousands of years, he and his fathers before him, have been waging
a hand-to-hand conflict with Want. He has stripped and disciplined
himself until he is superior to all hardships except famine, and that he
holds at bay longer than any other living creature could.

"Through this training process from their forms everything has
disappeared except a capacity to work; in their brains every attribute
has died except the selfish ones; in their hearts nearly all generous
emotions have been starved to death. The faces of the men have given up
their beards, the women have surrendered their breasts and the ability
to blush has faded from their faces.

"Like all animals of fixed colors they change neither in habits nor
disposition. In four thousand years they have changed no more than have
the wolves that make their lairs in the foothills of the Ural mountains,
except that they have learned to economize until they can even live upon
half the air which the white man requires to exist in. They have trained
their stomachs until they are no longer the stomachs of men; but such as
are possessed by beasts of prey; they thrive on food from which the
Caucasian turns with loathing, and on this dreadful fare work for
sixteen hours out of the twenty-four.

"The moral sentiments starved to death in their souls centuries ago.
They hold woman as but an article of merchandise and delight to profit
by her shame.

"Other foreigners come to America to share the fortunes of Americans.
Even the poor Italian, with organ and monkey, dreams while turning his
organ's crank, that this year or next, or sometime, he will be able to
procure a little home, have a garden of his own, and that his children
will grow up--sanctified by citizenship--defenders of our flag.

"But the Chinaman comes with no purpose except for plunder; the sole
intention is to get from the land all that is possible, with the design
of carrying it or sending it back to native land. The robbery is none
the less direct and effective for being carried on with a non-combatant
smile instead of by force.

"It is such a race as this that we are asked to welcome and compete
with, and when we explain that the food we each require--we, without
wife or child to share with--costs more in the market daily than these
creatures are willing to work for and board themselves; the question,
with a lofty disdain, is asked: 'Are you afraid to compete with a

"It is an unworthy question, born of ignorance and a false
sentimentality; for no mortal can overcome the impossible.

"In the cities these creatures fill the places of domestics and absorb
all the simpler trades. The natural results follow. Girls and boys grow
up without ever being disciplined to labor. But girls and boys must have
food and clothes. If their parents can not clothe and feed them other
people must. If poor girls with heads and hands untrained have nothing
but youth and beauty to offer for food, when hungry enough they will
barter both for bread.

"The vices and diseases which the Chinese have already scattered
broadcast over the west, are maturing in a harvest of measureless and
indescribable suffering.

"The Chinese add no defense to the State. They have no patriotism except
for native land; they are all children of degraded mothers, and as
soldiers are worthless.

"Moreover it is not a question of sharing our country with them; it is
simply a question of whether we should surrender it to them or not. When
the western nations thoroughly understand the Chinese they will realize
that with their numbers, their imitative faculties, their capacity to
live and to work on food which no white man can eat, with their
appalling thrift and absence of moral faculties, they are, to-day, the
terror of the earth.

"The nations forced China to open her gates to them. It was one of the
saddest mistakes of civilization.

"To ask that their further coming be stopped, is simply making a
plea for the future generations of Americans, a prayer for the
preservation of our Republic. It springs from man's primal right of
self-preservation, and when we are told that we should share our country
and its blessings with the Chinese, the first answer is that they
possess already one-tenth of the habitable globe; their empire has
everything within it to support a nation; they have, besides, the
hoarded wealth of a hundred generations, and if these were not enough,
there are still left illimitable acres of savage lands. Let them go
occupy and subdue them.

"The civilization of China had been as perfect as it now is for two
thousand years when our forefathers were still barbarians. While our
race has been subduing itself and at the same time learning the lessons
which lead up to submission to order and to law; while, moreover, it has
been bringing under the ægis of freedom a savage continent, the
Mongolian has remained stationary. To assert that we should now turn
over this inheritance (of which we are but the trustees for the future),
or any part of it, to 'the little brown men,' is to forget that a
nation's first duty is like a father's, who, by instinct, watches over
his own child with more solicitude than over the child of a stranger,
and who, above all things, will not place his child under the influence
of anything that will at once contaminate and despoil him.

"Finally, by excluding these people no principle of our Government is
set aside, and no vital practice which has grown up under our form of
government. Ours is a land of perfect freedom, but we arrest robbers and
close our doors to lewd women. While these precautions are right and
necessary it is necessary and right to turn back from our shores the
sinister hosts of the Orient."

With this the whole Club except Brewster heartily agreed. Brewster
merely said: "Maybe you are right, but your argument ignores the saving
grace of Christianity, and maybe conflicts with God's plans."

Then the good-nights were said.


The next evening when supper was prepared, Harding was not present. He
had bruised one hand so badly in the mine the previous day, that he was
forced to have it bound up and treated with liniments and had not worked
that day. Thinking he would be home soon the rest ate their suppers, but
it was an hour before he came. When he arrived he had a troubled look,
and being pressed to tell what had gone wrong, he stated that he had met
a group of five miners from the Sierra Nevada day shift, men whom they
all knew, who, without provocation, had commenced abusing him; jeering
him about joining with six or seven more miners, hiring a house and a
cook, and putting on airs; that finally they dared him to fight, and
when he offered to fight any one of them, they said it was a mere
"bluff," that he would not fight a woman unless she were sick, and
further declared their purpose at some future time to go up and "clean
out" the whole outfit.

Harding was the younger member of the Club; the rest knew about his
former life; how his father, joining the reckless throng of the early
days, lived fast, and suddenly died, just as the boy came from school;
how the young man had put aside his hopes, learned mining, and with a
brave purpose was working hard and dreaming of the time when he would
wipe away every reproach which rested on his father's memory.

To have him set upon by roughs, causelessly, was like a blow in the face
to every other member of the Club. When Harding had told his story,
Miller said: "Who did you say these men were, Harding?"

Harding told their names.

"Why, they are not miners at all," said Carlin. "They are a lot of
outside bruisers who have come here because there is going to be an
election this year, and they have got their names on a pay roll to keep
from being arrested as vagrants. You did just right, Harding, to get
away from them with your crippled hand without serious trouble."

"Indeed you did, Harding," said Brewster. "One street fight at your age
might ruin you for life."

"That is quite true," said Miller; "I am glad you had no fight."

Said Corrigan: "You offered to fight any one of the blackguards, and
whin they refused, you came away? It was the proper thing to do."

"Did you have any weapons with you, Harding?" asked Ashley.

"Not a thing in the world," was the reply.

"I am glad of that," said Ashley. "The temptation to wing one or two of
the brutes, would have been very great had you been 'fixed.'"

"I am glad it was no worse," said Wright. "You said it was down by the
California Bank corner?"

"No," replied Harding; "it was by the Fredericksburg Brewery corner, on
Union Street, just below C."

"You managed the matter first-rate, Harding," said Wright. "Do not think
any more about it."

Harding, thus reassured by his friends, felt better, but said if three
of the Club would go with him he would undertake to do his part to bring
hostilities to a successful close with the bullies.

Ashley and Corrigan at once volunteered, but Wright and Carlin
interfered and said it must not be, and Brewster expostulated against
any such thing.

Corrigan and Ashley caught a look and gesture from Wright which caused
them to subside, and Harding at length went out to supper.

When Harding came in from up town, Miller was making arrangements to go
out, as he said, to meet a broker as per agreement. As Harding went to
supper, Miller went out and Brewster resumed the reading of a book in
which he was engaged. The Professor, Colonel and Alex had not yet come

Significant glances passed between the others, and soon Wright arose and
said: "Boys! the Emmetts drill to-night; suppose we go down to the
armory and look on for half an hour."

The rest all agreed that it would be good exercise, and quietly the four
men went out, Wright saying as he started: "Brewster, if the others
come, tell them we have just gone down to the Emmetts armory, and will
be back in half an hour or so."

The Professor and Alex shortly after came in, a little later the Colonel
and Miller. It was nearly an hour before the others returned. When they
did they were in the best possible humor; spoke of the perfectness of
the Emmetts' drill; told of something they had heard down town which was
droll, while Barney in particular was full of merriment over a speech
that had that day been made by a countryman of his, Mr. Snow, in a
Democratic convention, and insisted upon telling Brewster about it.

Brewster laid down his book and assumed the attitude of a listener.

"It was this way," said Barney. "The convintion had made all its
nominations, when it was proposed that on Friday nixt a grand
mass-ratification matin' should be hild at Carson City, the matin' to be
intinded for the inauguratin' of the campaign, where all the faithful
from surroundin' counties might mate and glorify, and thus intimidate
the inemy from the viry commincement.

"The proposition was carried by acclamation, and jist thin a mimber
sprang up and moved that the matin' should be a barbecue. This motion
likewise carried by an overwhilmin' vote. Whin the noise died away a
bit, my ould friend Snow, he of the boardin' house, arose and made a
motion. It was beautiful. Listen!

"'Mr. Spaker! Bain that the hift of the Dimocratic party do not ate
_mate_ of a Friday, I move yees, sir, that we make it a _fish_

A great laugh followed Barney's account of the motion, and then the
usual comparison of notes on stocks took place. Miller was sure that
Silver Hill was the best buy on the lode; Corrigan had been told by a
Gold Hill miner that Justice was looking mighty encouraging; the Colonel
had heard the superintendent of the Curry tell the superintendent of the
Belcher that he was in wonderfully kindly ground on the two thousand
foot level; the Professor had that day heard the superintendent of the
Savage declare that the water was lowering four feet an hour, while all
were wondering when the Sierra Nevada would break, as it was too high
for the development. By all is meant all but Brewster and Harding; they
never joined in any conversations about stocks.

At length the stock talk slackened, when Corrigan again referred to the
fish barbecue resolution. Naturally enough, the conversation drifted
into a discussion of the humor of the coast, when the Colonel said:

"There is not much pure humor on this coast. There is plenty of that
material called humor, which has a bitter sting to it, but that is not
the genuine article. The men here who think as Hood wrote, are not
plenty. I suspect the bitter twang to all the humor here comes from the
isolation of men from the society of women, from broken hopes, and it
seems to me is generally an attempt to hurl contempt, not upon the
individual at whom it is fired, but at the outrageous fortunes which
hedge men around. The coast has been running over with that sort of
thing, I guess since 'forty-nine.'

"A man here, fond of his wife and children, said to a friend a day or
two after they went away for a visit to California: 'Did you ever see a
motherless colt?'

"'Oh, yes,' was the reply.

"'Then,' said the man, 'you know just how I feel.'

"'Yes,' said the friend. 'I suppose you feel as though you are not worth
a dam.'

"I know a brother lawyer who is somewhat famous for getting the clients
whom he defends convicted. One morning he met a brother attorney, a wary
old lawyer, and said to him: 'I heard some men denouncing you this
morning and I took up your defense.'

"'What did you say?' the other asked.

"'Those men were slandering you and I took it upon myself to defend
you,' said the first lawyer.

"The old lawyer took the other by the arm, led him aside, then putting
his lips close to the ear of his friend, in a hoarse whisper said:
'Don't do it any more.'

"'I am going to lecture to-night at C----,' said a pompous man.

"'I am glad of it,' was the quick answer. 'I have hated the people there
for years. No punishment is too severe for them.'

"'I am particular who I drink with,' said a man curtly to another.

"'Yes?' was the answer. 'I outgrew that foolish pride long ago. I would
as soon you would drink with me as not.'

"'I do not require lecturing from you,' said a man. 'I am no reformed

"'Then why do you not reform?' was the response.

"This coast is full of the echoes of such things."

The Professor spoke next. "I think," said he, "that there is more
extravagance in figures of speech on this coast than in any other
country. Marcus Shults had a difficulty in Eureka the other day, when I
was there. He told me about it. Said he: 'I told him to keep away; that
I was afraid of him. I wanted some good man to hear me say that, but I
had my eye on him every minute, and had he come a step nearer, why--when
the doctors would have been called in to dissect him they would have
thought they had struck a new lead mine.'"

Here Wright interrupted the Professor. "Marcus was from my State,
Professor. Did you ever hear him explain why he did not become a

The Professor answered that he never had, when Wright continued:

"Marcus never took kindly to hard work. Indeed, he seems to have
constitutional objections to it. As he tells the story, while crossing
the plains he made up his mind that, upon reaching California, he would
declare himself and speedily develop into a fighter. His words, when he
told me the story, were: 'They knew me back in Missouri, and I was a
good deal too smart to attempt to practice any such profession there,
but my idea was that California was filled with Yankees, and in that
kind of a community I would have an easy going thing. Well, I crossed
the Sierras and landed at Diamond Springs, outside of Placerville a few
miles, and when I had been there a short time I changed my mind.'

"Of course at this point some one asks him why he changed his mind,
whereupon he answers solemnly:

"'The first day I was there a State of Maine man cut the stomach out of
a Texan.'

"Marcus was with the boys during that first tough winter in Eureka. One
fearfully cold day a man was telling about the cold he had experienced
in Idaho. When the story was finished Marcus cast a look of sovereign
contempt upon the man and said:

"'You know nothing about cold weather, sir; you never saw any. You
should go to Montana. In Montana I have seen plenty of mornings when
were a man to have gone out of a warm room, crossed a street sixty feet
wide and shaken his head, his ears would have snapped off like icicles.'

"The stranger, overawed, retired."

Alex spoke next: "The other day Dan Dennison asked me to go and look at
a famous trotting horse that he has here. We went to the stable, and
when the stepper was pointed out I started to go into the stall beside
him, whereupon Dan caught me by the arm, drew me back, and said:

"'Be careful! Sometimes he deals from the bottom.'

"He stripped the covers from the horse and backed him out where I could
look at him. The horse was not a beauty by any means and I intimated my
belief of that fact to Dan.

"'No,' said Dennison. The truth is--' He hesitated a moment and then the
words came in a volley:

"'He's deformed with speed.'

"There is a lawyer down town, you all know him. He has a head as big as
the old croppings of the Gould and Curry, but like some other lawyers
that practice at the Virginia City bar (here he glanced significantly at
the Colonel), he is not an exceedingly bright or profound man. He was
passing a downtown office yesterday when a man, who chanced to be
standing in the office, said to the bookkeeper of the establishment:

"'Look at Judge ----. His head is bigger than Mount Davidson, but I am
told that where his brains ought to be there is a howling wilderness.'

"The bookkeeper stopped his writing, carefully wiped his pen, laid it
down, came out from behind his desk, came close up to the man who had
spoken to him, and said:

"'Howling wilderness? I tell you, sir, that man's head is an unexplored
mental Death Valley.'"

"Yes," said the Colonel, "his is a queer family. He has a brother who is
a journalist; he has made a fortune in the business. His great theme is
sketching the lives and characters of people."

"But has he made a fortune publishing sketches of that description?"
asked Miller.

"Oh, no," replied the Colonel; "he has made his money by refraining from
publishing them. People have paid him to suppress them."

"Colonel," asked Strong, "did it never occur to you that other fortunes
might be made the same way by people just exactly adapted to that style
of writing?"

"If it had," was the reply. "I should have considered that the field
here was fully occupied."

"You might write a sketch of your own career," suggested the Professor.

"Don't do it, Colonel," said Alex.

"Why not?" asked Ashley.

"There is a law which sadly interferes with the circulation of a certain
character of literature," said Alex.

"Alex," said the Colonel, "what a painstaking and delicate task it will
be, under that law, to write your obituary."

"There will be great risk in writing yours, Colonel," said Alex; "but it
will be a labor of love, nevertheless; a labor of love, Colonel."

"If you have it to do, Alex, don't forget my strongest characteristic,"
said the Colonel; "that lofty generosity, blended with a self-contained
dignity, which made me indifferent always to the slanders of bad men."

It was always a delight to the Club to get these two to bantering each

Ashley here interposed and said: "You all know Professor ----. One night
in Elko, last summer, he was conversing with Judge F---- of Elko. Both
had been indulging a little too much; the Professor was growing
talkative and the Judge morose.

"The Professor was telling about the battle of Buena Vista, in which he,
a boy at the time, participated. In the midst of the description the
Judge interrupted him with some remark which the Professor construed
into an impeachment of his bravery.

"He leaned back in his chair and sat looking at the Judge for a full
minute, as if in an astonished study, and then in a tone most dangerous,

"'I do not know how to classify you, sir. I do not know, sir, whether
you are a wholly irresponsible idiot, or an unmitigated and infamous
scoundrel, sir.'

"He was conscientious and methodical even in his wrath. He would not
pass upon the specimen of natural history before him until certain to
what species it belonged."

Said Miller: "Did you ever hear how Judge T---- of this city met a man
who had been saying disrespectful things about him, but who came up to
the Judge in a crowd and, with a smile, extended his hand? The Judge
drew back quickly, thrust both hands in his side pockets and said:

"'Excuse me, sir; I have just washed my hands.'"

"I heard something yesterday of a rough man whom you all know, Zince
Barnes," said the Professor, "which seemed to me as full of bitter humor
as anything I have heard on this mountain side. You know that politics
are running pretty high.

"Well, an impecunious man--so the story goes--called upon a certain
gentleman who is reported to be rich and to have political aspirations,
and tried to convince him that the expenditure of a certain sum of money
in a certain way would redound amazingly to the credit, political, of
the millionaire. The man of dollars could not see the proposition
through the poor man's magnifying glasses, and the patriot retired

"A few minutes later, and while yet warm in his disappointment, he met
Zince Barnes, told him of the interview and closed by expressing the
belief that the millionaire was a tough, hard formation.

"'Hard!' said Zince. 'I should think so. The tears of widows and orphans
are water on his wheel.'"

At this Corrigan 'roused up and said: "Speakin' of figures of spache, I
heard some from a countrywoman of mine one bitter cowld mornin' last
March. It was early; hardly light. John Mackay was comin' down from the
Curry office on his way to the Con. Virginia office, and whin just
opposite the Curry works, he met ould mother McGarrigle, who lives down
by the freight depot. I was in the machane shop of the Curry works; they
were just outside, and there being only an inch boord and about ten feet
of space between us, I could hear ivery word plain, or rather I could
not help but hear. The conversation ran about after this style:

"'Mornin', Meester Mackay, and may the Lord love yees.'

"'Good morning, madam.'

"'How's the beautiful wife and the charmin' childers over the big
wathers, Mr. Mackay?'

"'They are all right.'

"'God be thanked intirely. Does yees know, Mr. Mackay, that in the hull
course of me life I niver laid eyes upon childer so beautiful loike
yees. Often and often I've tould the ould man that same. And they're
will, are they?'

"'Yes, they are first-rate. I had a cable from them yesterday.'

"'A tilligram, was it? Oh, but is not that wonderful, though! A missige
under the say and over the land to this barbarous place. It must have
come like the smile of the Good God to yees.'

"'Oh, I get them every day.'

"'Ivery day! And phat do they cost?'

"'Oh, seven or eight dollars; sometimes more. It depends upon their

"'Sivin or eight dollars! Oh, murther! But yees desarve it, Mr. Mackay.
What would the poor do without yees in this town, Mr. Mackay? Only
yisterday I was sayin' to the ould man, says I: "Mike, it shows the
mercy of God whin money is given to a mon like Mr. John Mackay. It's a
Providence he is to the city. God bless him." I did, indade.'

"By this time Mackay began to grow very ristless.

"'What can I do for you this morning, Mrs. McGarrigle?'

"'It's the ould mon, Lord love yees, Mr. Mackay. It's no work he's had
for five wakes, and it's mighty little we have aither to ait or to wear.
It's work I want for him.'

"'I am sorry, but our mines are full. Indeed, we are employing more men
than we are justified in doing.'

"'But Mr. Mackay, it's so poor we are, and so hard it is getting along
at all; put him on for a month and may all the saints bless yees.'

"'The city is full of poor people, madam. To determine what to do to
mitigate the distress here occupies half our time.'

"'Yis, but ours is a particular hard case intirely. I am dilicate
meself. I know I don't look so, but I am; and yees ought ter interpose
to help a poor countryman of yees own in trouble.'

"By this time Mackay was half frozen and thoroughly out of patience. In
his quick, sharp way he said: 'Madam, we cannot give all the men in the
country employment.'

"The mask of the woman was off in an instant. With a scorn and hate
unutterable she burst forth in almost a scrame.

"'Oh, yees can't. Oh, no! Yees forgits fen yees was poor your ownsilf,
ye blackguard. Refusin' a poor man work, and shakin the mountains and
churnin' the ocean avery day wid your siven and eight dollar missages.
Yees can't employ all the min in the counthry. Don't yees own the whole
counthry? And do yees think we'd apply to yees at all if we could find a
dacant mon in the worreld? May the divil fly away wid yees, and whin he
does yees may tell him for me if he gives a short bit for yer soul he'll
chate himself worse nor he's been chated since he bargained with Judas
Iscariot. Thake that, sur, wid me compliments, yees purse-proud

"When the woman began to rave, Mackay walked rapidly away, but she niver
relaxed the scrame of her tirade until Mackay disappeared from sight.
Thin she paused for a moment, thin to herself she muttered, 'But I got
aven wid him oneway.' She thin turned and walked away toward her cabin.

"It was a case where money was no assistance to a man."

"There is a good deal of humor displayed in courts of justice at times,
is there not, Colonel?" asked Wright.

"Oh, yes," was the reply. "Anyone would think so who ever heard old
Frank Dunn explain to a court that the reason of his being late was
because he had no watch, and deploring meanwhile his inability to
purchase a watch because of the multitude of unaccountable fines which
His Honor had seen proper, from time to time, to impose upon him."

"In that first winter in Eureka," said Wright, "I strolled into court
one day when a trial was in progress.

"Judge D---- was managing one side and a volunteer lawyer the other. The
volunteer lawyer had the best side, and to confuse the court, Judge
D----, in his argument, misquoted the testimony somewhat. His opponent
interrupted and repeated exactly what the witness had testified to.

"Turning to his opponent, Judge D----, with a sneer, said:

"'I see, sir, you are very much interested in the result of this case.'

"'Oh, no,' was the response. 'I am doing this for pure love. I do not
make a cent in this case.'

"Then Judge D----, with still more bitterness, said:

"'That is like you. You try cases for nothing and cheat _good_ lawyers
out of their fees.'

"With a look of unfeigned astonishment the other lawyer said:

"'Well, what are _you_ angry about? How does that interfere with

Here Brewster, who had been reading, laid down his book and said:

"I heard of a case as I came through Salt Lake City some years ago,
which, if not particularly humorous, revealed wonderful presence of mind
on the part of the presiding judge. It may be the story is not true, but
it was told in Salt Lake City as one very liable to be true.

"A miner, who had been working a placer claim in the hills all
summer--so the story ran--and who had been his own cook, barber,
chambermaid and tailor, came down to Salt Lake City to see the sights
and purchase supplies. He had dough in his whiskers, grease upon his
overalls, pine twigs in his hair, and altogether did not present the
appearance of a dancing master or a millionaire. Hardly had he reached
the city when he thought it necessary to take something in order to
'brace up.' One drink gave him courage to take another, and in forty
minutes he was dead drunk on the sidewalk.

"The police picked him up and tossed him into a cell in the jail,
disdaining to search him, so abject seemed his condition.

"Next morning he was brought before the Police Judge and the charge of
D. D. was preferred against him.

"'You are fined ten dollars, sir,' was the brief sentence of the Court.
The man unbuttoned two pairs of overalls and from some inner recess of
his garments produced a roll of greenbacks as big as a man's fist. It
was a trying moment for the Judge, but his presence of mind did not fail
him. He raised up from his seat, leaned one elbow on his desk and, as if
in continuation of what he had already said, thundered out: 'And one
hundred dollars for contempt of court.'

"The man paid the one hundred and ten dollars and hastily left the court
and the city."

Miller was the next to speak. Said he: "Once in Idaho I heard a specimen
of grim humor which entertained me immensely. There was a man up there
who owned a train of pack mules and made a living by packing in goods to
the traders and packing out ore to be sent away to the reduction works.
He was caught in a storm midway between Challis and Powder Flat. It was
mid-winter; the thermometer at Challis marked thirty-four degrees below
zero. He was out in the storm and cold two days and one night, and his
sufferings must have been indescribable. When safely housed and
ministered to at last a friend said to him: 'George, that was a tough
experience, was it not?'

"'Oh, regular business should never be called tough,' said he, 'but
since I began to get warm I have been thinking that, if I make money
enough, may be in three or four years I will get married, if I can
deceive some woman into making the arrangement. If I should succeed, and
if after a reasonable time a boy should be born to us, and if the
youngster should "stand off" the colic, teething, measles, whooping
cough, scarlet fever and falling down stairs, and grow to be ten or
twelve years old, and have some sense, if I ever tell him the story of
the past two days of my life and he don't cry his eyes out, I will beat
him to death, sure.'"

The Professor was reminded by the anecdote of something which transpired
in Belmont, Nevada, the previous winter. Said he: "I went to Belmont to
examine a property last winter and while there Judge ---- came in from a
prospecting trip down into the upper edge of Death Valley. I saw him as
he drove into town, and went to meet him. He was in no very good
spirits. On the way to his office he said: 'I was persuaded against my
better judgment to go on that trip. The thief who coaxed me away told a
wonderful story. He had been there; he had seen the mine, but had been
driven away by the Shoshones; he knew every spring and camping place. It
would be just a pleasure trip. So, like an idiot, I went with him. It
was twice as far as he said, and we got out of food; he could not find
one particular spring, and we were forty hours without water. We had to
camp in the snow, and the only pleasure I had in the whole journey was
in seeing my companion slip and sit down squarely on a Spanish bayonet
plant. It was a double pleasure, indeed; one pleasure to see him sit
down and another pleasure to see him get right up again without resting
at all, and with a look on his face as though a serious mistake had been
made somewhere.'

"By this time we had reached the Judge's office. On the desk lay a score
of letters which had been accumulating during his absence. Begging me to
excuse him for five minutes, he sat down and commenced to run through
his mail.

"Suddenly he stopped, seized a pen and wrote rapidly for two or three
minutes. Then he threw down the pen and begged my attention. First he
read a letter which was dated somewhere in Iowa. The writer stated that
he had a few thousand dollars, but had determined to leave Iowa and seek
some new field, and asked the Judge's advice about removing to Nevada. I
asked the Judge if he knew the man.

"'Of course not,' said he. 'He has found my name in some directory, and
so has written at random. He has probably written similar letters to
twenty other men. Possibly he is writing a book descriptive of the Far
West by an actual observer,' continued the Judge.

"'How are you going to reply?' I asked.

"'That is just the point,' he answered. 'I have written and I want you
to tell me if I have done about the right thing. Listen.'

"At this he read his letter. It was in these identical words:

     MY DEAR SIR:--Your esteemed favor is at hand and after careful
     deliberation I have determined to write to you to come to
     Nevada. I cannot, in the brief space to which a letter must
     necessarily be confined, enter into details; but I can assure
     you that if you will come here, settle and invest your means,
     the final result will be most happy to you. A few brief years
     of existence here will prepare you to enjoy all the rest and
     all the beatitudes which the paradise of the blessed can
     bestow, and if, perchance, your soul should take the other
     track, hell itself can bring you no surprises. Respectfully,

"He mailed the letter, but at last accounts the gentleman had not come

"That," said Alex, "reminds me of Charley O----'s mining experience. An
Eastern company purchased a series of mines at Austin and made Charley
superintendent of the company at a handsome salary. Charley proceeded to
his post of duty, built a fine office and drew his salary for a year. He
did his best, too, to make something of the property, but it is a most
difficult thing to make a mine yield when there is no ore in it. The
result was nothing but 'Irish dividends' for the stockholders. It was in
the old days, before the railway came along.

"One morning, when the overland coach drove into Austin, a gentleman
dismounted, asked where the office of the Lucknow Gold and Silver
Consolidated Mining and Milling Company was, and being directed, went to
the office and without knocking, opened the door and walked in. Charley
was sitting with his feet on the desk, smoking a cigar and reading the
morning paper.

"'Is Mr. O---- in?' politely inquired the stranger.

"'I am Mr. O----,' responded Charley. The stranger unbuttoned his coat,
dived into a side pocket and drawing out a formidable envelope,
presented it to O----.

"Charley tore open the envelope and found that the letter within was a
formal notice from the secretary of the company that the bearer had been
appointed superintendent and resident manager of the L. G. and S. C. M.
& M. Co., and requesting O----to surrender to him the books and all
other property of the company. After reading the letter Charley looked
up and said to the stranger:

"'And so you have come to take my place?'

"'It seems so,' was the reply.

"'On your account I am awfully sorry,' said Charley.

"The stranger did not believe that he was in any particular need of

"'But you will not live six months here,' said Charley.

"The stranger was disposed to take his chances.

"This happened in August. Charley took the first stage and came in to
Virginia City. In the following December the morning papers here
contained a dispatch announcing that Mr. ----, superintendent of the
Lucknow Gold and Silver Consolidated Mining and Milling Company, was
dangerously ill of pneumonia. On the succeeding morning there was
another dispatch from Austin saying that Mr. ----, late superintendent
of the Lucknow Gold and Silver Consolidated Mining and Milling Company,
died the previous evening and that the body would be sent overland to
San Francisco, to be shipped from there to the East. Two days after
that, about the time the overland coaches were due, Charley was seen
wading through the mud down to the Overland barn. He went in and saw two
coaches with fresh mud upon them. The curtains of the first were rolled
up. The curtains of the second were buckled down close. O---- went to
the second coach, loosened one of the curtains and threw it back; then
reaching in and tapping the coffin with his knuckles, said: 'Didn't I
tell you? Didn't I tell you? You thought you could stop my salary and
still live. See what a fix it has brought you to!' And then he went
away. No one would ever have known that he had been there had not an
'ostler overheard him.

"Speaking of Austin, I think the remark made by Lawyer J. B. Felton of
Oakland, California, regarding the mines of Austin, was as cute as
anything I ever heard. When the mines were first discovered Felton was
induced to invest a good deal of money in them.

"The mines were three hundred and fifty miles from civilization, there
being no reduction works of any kind, and pure silver would hardly have
paid. So Felton did not realize readily from his investment. After some
months had gone by Felton was standing on Montgomery street, San
Francisco, one day when a long procession, celebrating St. Patrick's
day, filed past. Of course Erin's flag was 'full high advanced' in the
procession. Turning to a friend, Felton said: 'Can you tell why that
flag is like a Reese River mine?'

"The friend could not.

"Said Felton: 'It's composed mostly of sham rock and a blasted lyre!'"

Ashley was next to speak.

"After all," said he, "the funniest things are sometimes those which are
not meant to be funny at all. Steve Gillis, in a newspaper office down
town, perpetrated one the other day. An Eastern editor was here, and
when he found out how some of the men in the office were working he was
paralyzed, and said to Gillis:

"'There's ----, you will go into his room some day and find him dead. He
will go like a flash some time. No man can do what he is doing and stand

"'Do you think so?' asked Gillis.

"'Indeed I do; I know it,' said the man.

"'Then,' said Gillis, 'you ought to be here. You would see the most
magnificent funeral ever had in Virginia City.'"

By this time it was very late and the Club dispersed for the night.

Next morning Harding, who was reading the morning paper, came upon this

                         A LIVELY SCRIMMAGE.

     Last evening, about seven-thirty o'clock, there was a terrific
     fight on Union Street, near the depot; four men against five.
     It lasted but a few minutes, but the five men were dreadfully
     beaten. No one seemed to know the origin of the fight. A boy
     who was standing across the street says the men met, a few low
     words passed between them, and then the fight ensued. The four
     men, who seem to have been the assailants, hardly suffered any
     damage, but the five others were so badly beaten that two of
     them had to be carried home, while the other three had fearful
     mansard roofs put upon them.

     There were no arrests; indeed little sympathy was felt for the
     injured men, for though at present at work in the mines, they
     are known as bullies and roughs by trade.

     No one seems to know who the victors were, except that they
     were miners. One man told our reporter that he knew one of the
     men by sight; that he was, he thought, a Gold Hill miner. No
     weapons were drawn on either side, and no loud words were
     spoken, but it was as fierce an encounter as has been seen here
     since the old fighting days.

Harding looked up from the paper and said:

"Wright, what was it you said about the drill of the Emmett Guards, last

"They are splendid, those Emmetts," was the reply, with an imperturbable


Pay day was on the fifth of the month. On the night of the thirteenth,
when the Club met at the usual hour for supper, Miller was not present.
He was never as regular as the others, so the rest did not wait supper
for him. After supper the Club settled down to their pipes, the
Professor, the Colonel and Alex came in, and the usual discussion about
stocks was indulged in for some minutes, the chief matter dwelt upon
being the steady and unaccountable rise in Sierra Nevada. At length it
was noticed that Carlin did not join as usual in the conversation, and
Ashley asked him what he seemed so cast down about.

At this Carlin shook himself together and said: "I will be glad if you
will all give me your attention for a moment." He took a letter from his
pocket and read as follows:

     CARLIN: When you receive this I shall be on my way, by
     horseback (overland), to Eastern Nevada. I am going to Austin,
     and if I do not obtain employment there, shall continue on to
     Eureka. You can find me in one place or the other by Sunday.

     The evening of pay day, with the money which the Club had
     placed in my hands to pay the bills, I went down town to carry
     out the wishes of the Club, when I met a friend, who is in the
     close confidence of the "big ring" of operators. He called me
     aside and told me that he had inside information that within
     three days Silver Hill would commence to jump, that within a
     week the present value would be multiplied by five or six and
     more likely by ten. That there would be an immediate and great
     advance he assured me was absolutely certain. He told me how he
     had received his information, and it seemed to me to be

     I found a broker, unloaded my pockets, and bade him buy Silver
     Hill; to buy on a margin all he could afford to. The stock has
     fallen thirty per cent., and the indications are that it will
     go still lower. Yesterday I suppose it was sold out, for on the
     previous day I received a notice from the broker to please call
     at his office at once. My courage, that never failed me before,
     broke down. I could not go. The amount of money belonging to
     the Club which I had was altogether $575.00. Of course it in
     lost. It is a clear case of breach of trust, if not of
     embezzlement. You can make me smart for it, if you feel
     disposed to, or if you can give me the time, I can pay the
     money in about eight months after I get to work. That is, I can
     send you about eighty dollars per month. If wanted I will be in
     Austin or Eureka.

     I might make this letter much longer, but I suspect by the time
     you will have read this much, you will think it long enough.
     Believe me none of you can think meaner of me than I do of


After the reading of the letter, Wright was the first to find his voice.
Said he: "It is too bad. I knew Miller was reckless, but I believed his
recklessness never could go beyond his own affairs. I had implicit faith
in him."

"Had he only told us," said Ashley, "that he wanted to use the money, he
could have had five times the sum."

"What I hate about it, is the want of courage and the lack of faith in
the rist of us," said Corrigan. "Why did he not come loike a mon and
say, 'Boys, I have lost a trifle of your money in the malstroom of
stocks; be patient and I will work out?'"

"It is a pitiable business," said Carlin. "The money--that is the loss
of it--does not hurt at all. But it was Miller who proposed the forming
of this Club, and he is the one who first betrays us, and then lacks the
sand to tell us about it frankly. But no matter. Jesus Christ failed to
secure twelve men who were all true. What do you think of it, Brewster?"

"What Miller has done," said Brewster, "is but a natural result when a
working man goes down into the pit of stock gambling. The hope in that
business is to obtain money without earning it. It is a kind of lunacy.
In a few months, men so engaged lose everything like a steady poise to
their minds. They take on all the attributes which distinguish the
gambler. Their ideas are either up in the clouds or down in the depths.
Worst of all, they forget that a dollar means so many blows, so many
drops of sweat, that a dollar, when we see it, means that sometime,
somewhere, to produce that dollar, an honest dollar's worth of work was
performed, that when that dollar is transferred to another, another
dollar's worth of work in some form must be given in return, or the
eternal balance of Justice will be disarranged. Miller reached the point
where he did not prize his own dollars at their true value. It ought not
to be expected that he would be more careful of ours."

"Colonel, what is your judgment about the business?" Carlin asked.

"It seems to me," was the reply, "that when he went away Miller insulted
all of you--all of us, for that matter. His conduct assumes that we are
all pawnbrokers who would go into mourning over a few dollars lost."

"Oh, no, I think not," said Strong. "Miller is a sensitive, high-strung
man. He has been in all sorts of dangers and difficulties and has never
faltered. At last he found himself in a place where, for the first time,
he felt his honor wounded, and his courage failed him. He is not running
away from us, he is trying to run away from himself."

"What is your judgment, Professor?" asked Carlin.

"As they say out here, Miller got off wrong," said the Professor; "and
he seems blinded by the mistake so much that he cannot see his best way

"Harding, why are you so still?" asked Carlin.

"I am sorry for Miller," said Harding. "He is the best-hearted man in
the world."

"It is a most unpleasant business. What shall we do about it?" asked
Carlin. "I wish all would express an opinion."

"What ought to be done, Carlin?" asked Wright.

Carlin answered: "The business way would be to formally expel him from
the Club, and to write him that, without waiving any legal rights, we
will give him the time he requires in which to settle."

"That would no doubt be just," said Wright.

"There would be no injustice in it, from a business standpoint," said

"He certainly," said Brewster, "would have no right to complain of such

Said Corrigan: "The verdict of the worreld would be that we had acted

"No one," said the Colonel, "could blame you for firing him out. He has
not only wronged you directly, but at the same moment has attacked your
credit in the city where you are owing bills."

"That is true," said the Professor.

"It is only a matter of discretion what to do," said Alex. "All the
direct equities are against Miller."

"There is no decision so fair as by a secret ballot," said Harding. "Let
us take a vote on the proposition of Miller's expulsion, and all must
take part."

This was agreed to. Nine slips of paper were prepared, all of one size
and length, one was given to each man to write "expulsion, yes," or
"expulsion, no," as he pleased. A hat was placed on the table for a
ballot-box; each in turn deposited his ballot and resumed his seat.

The silence was growing painful when Brewster said: "Carlin, Miller
wrote back to you; you will have to write to him. Suppose you be the
returning board to count the votes and make up the returns."

Carlin arose and went to the table. There he paused, and his face wore a
look of extreme trouble; but he shook off the influence, whatever it
was, stretched out his hand in an absent-minded way, picked up a ballot
and slowly brought it before his eyes. He looked at it, turned it over
and looked on the other side, then with a foolish laugh he said: "Why,
the ballot is blank."

He transferred it to his left hand, picked up another ballot with his
right hand; looked at it; it, too, was blank.

So in turn he took up one after another. They all were blank.

As he called the last one and started to resume his seat, Harding, in a
low voice, as to himself, said: "Thank God!"

All looked a little foolish for a moment, and then the Colonel said:
"Why, Carlin, you are not much of a returning board, after all."

Said Corrigan: "It sames the convintion moved to make it unanimous."

Said Carlin: "I could not vote to expel Miller. He has long been my
friend. I know how sensitive he is. He wronged us a little, but I just
could not do it."

Said Brewster: "I could not do it, because that would be the quickest
way to cause a man, when on the down grade, to keep on. To make him feel
that those who have been most intimate with him, despise him, may be
exact justice, but it seldom brings reformation."

Said the Colonel: "I could not do it in his absence. It would have had a
look of assassination from behind."

"I could not do it," said the Professor. "The news would have got out
and the Club would have been disgraced."

"It was not much more than an error of judgment, on Miller's part," said
Wright. "He never intended to wrong us out of a penny. Crime is measured
only by the intention."

"That is the true inwardness of the whole business, Wright, and that
thought kept my ballot blank," was Alex's suggestion.

"I could not do it," said Ashley. "His expulsion would have looked as
though we measured friendship by dollars. If a man ever needs friends,
it is when he is in trouble."

"I could not do it," chimed in Corrigan. "Suppose all our mistakes shall
be remimbered against us, how will we iver git admitted to the great
Club above?"

"I could not do it, because I love him," said Harding.

"I feared," said Brewster, "that things were going wrong with Miller a
week ago, when I noticed that in lieu of the costly chair which he first
brought to the Club, he was using that old, second-hand cheap affair."

"I think," said Harding, "that I have a right to tell now what has been
a secret. You know Miller and myself worked together. We were coming up
from the mine one evening, ten days ago, when we chanced to pass old man
Arnold's cabin--Arnold, who was crippled by a fall in the Curry some
months ago. The old man was sitting outside his cabin and resting his
crippled limb on a crutch. Miller stopped and asked him how he was
getting on, and talked pleasantly with him for a few minutes, when an
express wagon came by. Miller left the old man with a pleasant word,
asked me if I would not wait there a few minutes, hailed the expressman,
jumped upon his wagon, said something to the man which I did not
understand, and the wagon was driven rapidly away.

"In a few minutes it returned; Miller sprang down; the expressman handed
him the great easy chair; he carried it into the door of the cabin,
setting it just inside; then lifted the old man in his arms from his
hard chair, placed him in the soft cushions of the other, moved it
gently until it was in just the position where the old man could best
enjoy looking at the descending night; then, picking up the old battered
chair, he said, cheerily: 'Arnold, I want to trade chairs with you,' and
walked so rapidly away that the old man could not recover from his
surprise enough to thank him. This old chair is the one he brought away.

"Coming home he said to me: 'Harding, don't give me away on this
business, please. We are all liable to be crippled some time, and to
need comforts which we do not half appreciate now. I would have given
the old man the chair two weeks ago, but I did not have it quite paid
for at that time.'

"I tell you the story now because I do not think there is any obligation
to keep it a secret any longer."

When Harding had finished there was not one man present who was not glad
that the vote had resulted unanimously against the generous man's

The next question was as to the form of the letter that should be sent
Miller. This awakened a good deal of discussion. It was finally decided
that each should write a letter, and that the one which should strike
the Club most favorably should be sent, or that from the whole a new
letter should be prepared. Writing materials were brought out and all
went to work on their letters. For several minutes nothing but the
scratching of pens broke the silence.

When the letters were all completed, Carlin was called upon to read
first. He proceeded as follows:

     VIRGINIA CITY, August 13th, 1878.

     Friend Miller:--The Club has talked everything over. All think
     you made a great mistake in going away, and that it would be
     better for you to return to your work. Your old place in the
     Club will be kept open for you.

     Sincerely yours,


Wright read next as follows:

     VIRGINIA CITY, August 13th, 1878.

     JOE:--I make a poor hand at writing. I have been banging
     hammers too many years. But what I want to say is, you had
     better, so soon as your visit is over, come along back. There
     wasn't a bit of sense in your going away. Your absence breaks
     up the equilibrium of the Club amazingly. The whole outfit is
     becoming demoralized, and the members are growing more
     garrulous than so many magpies. We shall look for you within a
     week. We all want to see you.

     Your sincere friend,


The Colonel responded next.

     VIRGINIA CITY, August 13th, 1878.

     MILLER:--You made a precious old fool of yourself, rushing off
     as you did. Are you the first man who has ever been deceived by
     Comstock "dead points?" If you think you are, try and explain
     how it is that while some thousands of bright fellows have
     devotedly pursued the business during the past fifteen years,
     you can, in five minutes, count on your fingers all that have
     saved a quarter of a dollar at the business.

     The whole Club join me in saying that you ought to return
     without delay.

     Yours truly,


The Professor's letter, which was next read, was as follows:

     VIRGINIA CITY, August 13th, 1878.

     DEAR MILLER:--We do not like your going away. The act was
     deficient in candor, and seems to have a look as though you
     estimated yourself or the Club at too low a figure. Suppose you
     did get a little off; the true business would have been to have
     told us all about it. We would have "put up the mud" and
     carried the thing along until it came your way. But what is
     done is done. The thing to decide now is what it is best for
     you to do. Austin is no place for you. The mines there are
     rich, but the veins are small and the district restricted. In
     that camp the formation makes impossible the creation of a big
     body of ore; the fissures are necessarily small. You would die
     of asphyxia within a month or go blind searching for a place
     where an ore body "could make." Eureka is open to other
     objections. It would require six months for you to become
     acclimated there, and the chances are that within that time you
     would be tied up in a knot with lead colic. The proper course
     to pursue is to come back. The Club are all agreed on that

     Yours truly,


Ashley's letter, in these words, followed:

     VIRGINIA CITY, August 13th, 1878.

     DEAR FRIEND JOE:--Your going away has caused us ever so much
     trouble. It was foolish and cruel of you to imagine--even when
     you were in trouble--that any of the Club weighed friendship on
     old-fashioned placer diggings gold scales. We are sorry for
     your misfortune, but it is on _your_ account that we are sorry.
     It is not so serious that it cannot be made up in a little
     while, if you do not persist in remaining in some place where
     there are no opportunities to do any good for yourself. It may
     be a long time, among strangers, before you can obtain
     employment. Because you have made one mistake, do not make
     another, but without delay come back. This is Tuesday. It will
     take you until about Saturday next to get to Austin. You will
     be pretty badly used up and will have to rest a day. But on
     Sunday evening you ought to start back by stage and rail. That
     will bring you home a week from to-day. A week from to-night
     then, we shall expect your account of how big the mosquitoes
     are at the sink of the Carson, and what your opinion is of
     Churchill County as a location for a country residence.

     Yours fraternally,


Alex's letter was very brief, as follows:

     VIRGINIA CITY, August 13th, 1878.

     Come back, Joe. Were your precedent to be strictly followed, we
     should suddenly lose a majority of our most respected citizens.
     In the interest of society and of the Club come.


     TO MR. JOE MILLER, Austin.

Corrigan did not like to read his letter, but the Club insisted, and
after declaring that the Club would get "a dale the worst of it," he
proceeded as follows:

     VIRGINIA CITY, Nevada, August 13th, 1878.

     DEAR AULD JO:--It's murthered yees ought to be for doing
     onything phat compills me to write you a lether. Whin I
     commince to write I fale as though all the air pipes were shut
     off intirely. I would sooner pick up a thousand dollars in the
     strate, ony day, than to have to hould a pin in me hand and
     make sinse in my head at the same moment. You know that same,
     too, and hince phy did yees go away and force all this work
     upon me? Is it in love wid horseback exercise that ye are? We
     have been talkin' your case over, quiet loike, in the Club, and
     we have unanimously rached the irresistible conclusion that it
     was an unpatriotic thing for yees to do--to propose this Club
     business and thin dezart it just whin our habits had become
     fixed, so to spake; and it would become a mather of sarious
     inconvanience for us to change. In this wurreld a man can shirk
     onything excipt his duty, and it is a plain proposition that it
     is your duty immejitely to come back. My poor fingers are
     cramped to near brakin' by this writin', and it is your falt,
     the whole of it, ond I pray yees don't let it happen ony more.



     P. S.--Should you nade a bit of coin to return comfortably draw
     on me through W. F. & Co.


Harding read next.

     VIRGINIA, August 13th, 1878.

     DEAR FRIEND MILLER:--Enclosed I send certificate of deposit for
     $100. The Club desire, unanimously, that you return without a
     moment's unnecessary delay. All agree that this is the best
     field for you. I will see the foreman in the morning, tell him
     you have been called away for a week and get him to hold your
     place for you. It was very wicked of you to go away. You can
     only get forgiveness by hurrying back.



Brewster's was the final letter, and was in these words:

     VIRGINIA CITY, Nevada. }

     8th month, 13th day, A. D. 1878. }


     DEAR SIR AND FRIEND:--I have this evening, with great pain,
     learned that you have left this place, and, moreover, have
     heard explained the reasons which prompted that course on your
     part. It would be a lack of candor on my part not to inform you
     that I sincerely deplore the wrong which you have done yourself
     and us. At the same time I believe that the real date of the
     wrong was when you permitted yourself first to engage in stock
     gambling. This world is framed on a foundation of perfect
     justice. The books of the Infinite always exactly balance. In
     the beginning it was decreed that man should have nothing
     except what he earned. It was meant that the world's
     accumulations of treasures--in money, in brain, in love, or in
     any other material that man holds dear--should, from day to
     day, and from year to year, represent simply the honest effort
     put forth to produce the treasure.

     Men have changed this in form. Some men get what they have not
     earned; but the rule is inexorable and cannot be changed. The
     books must balance.

     So when one man gets more than his share, the amount has to be
     made up by the toil of some other man or men. This last is what
     you have been called upon to do, and, naturally, you suffer.

     But I acquit you of any sinister intention toward us. So do we
     all. Your fault was when you first attempted to set aside God's
     law. You may recall what was said a few nights ago. "The decree
     which was read at Eden's gate is still in full force, and
     behind it, just as of old, flashes the flaming sword."

     We have thoughtfully considered your case. The unanimous
     conclusion is that you should at once return; that here among
     friends and acquaintances, with the heavy work which is going
     on, you have a far better opportunity to recover your lost
     ground than you possibly could among strangers.

     Moreover, you are familiar with this lode and the manner of
     working these mines. You are likewise accustomed to this
     climate, hence I conclude that your chances against accident or
     disease would be from fifteen to twenty per cent. in favor of
     your returning.

     In conclusion, I beg, without meaning any offense, but on the
     other hand, with a sincere desire to serve you, to say that I
     have a few hundred dollars on hand, enough perhaps to cover all
     your indebtedness here. If you would care to use it, it shall
     be yours, _in hearty welcome_, until such time as you can
     conveniently return it.

     I beg, sir, to subscribe myself your friend and servant,


"God bless you, Brewster," said Harding impetuously.

"That is a boss lether," said Corrigan.

"I could not do better than that myself," was Ashley's comment.

"It is a diamond drill, and strikes a bonanza on the lower level," said

"The formation is good, the pay chute large, the trend of the lode most
regular, the grade of the ore splendid," said the Professor.

Wright said: "It is a good letter, sure."

"It reads as I fancy the photographs of the Angels of Mercy and Justice
look when taken together," suggested Alex.

The Colonel remarked that the letter established the fact that Brewster
was not so bad a man as he looked to be.

What should be sent to Miller was next discussed again. It was finally
determined that all the letters should be sent except Harding's; that he
should rewrite his, and instead of sending the certificate of deposit,
should, like Corrigan, instruct Miller to draw on him if he needed
money, and that any such drafts should be shared by the whole Club.

Then the money to pay the bills was raised among the old members of the
Club, and placed in Carlin's hands to be paid out next day.

When all was finished a sort of heaviness came upon the company. There
was an impression of sorrow upon them. They had been happy in their
innocent enjoyment, but suddenly one who was a favorite, who was at
heart the most generous one of the company, had failed them, and they
brooded over the change.

At length Harding roused himself and said: "Miller must be sleeping
somewhere down in the desert to-night. I wish I could call to him by
telephone and bring him back."

"That reminds me," said Alex, "of something that I heard of yesterday.
Down at the Sisters' Academy there is a telephone. There is a little
miss attending that school, and every morning at a certain hour there is
a ring at a certain house down town. The response goes back, 'Who is
it?' and then the conversation goes on as follows: 'Is that you, papa?'
'Yes!' 'Good morning, papa!' 'Good morning, little one.' 'Is mamma
there?' 'Yes.' 'Say good morning and give my love to mamma.' 'Yes.'
'Goodbye.' 'Good bye.'

"In the evening the same call is made; the same answer; and then from
the still convent on noiseless pinions these words go out through the
night, and pulsate on the father's ear: 'Good night, papa! Good night,
mamma! a kiss for each of you!' and then the weird instrument
materializes two kisses for the father's ear.

"He is a rough fellow, but he declares that since he commenced to
receive those kisses, he knows that an answer to prayer is not
impossible; that if that child's voice can come to him, stealing past
the night patrol unheard, stealing in clear and distinct and like a
benediction, while the winds and the city are roaring outside, there is
nothing wonderful in believing that on the invisible wire of faith the
same voice could send its music to the furthest star, and that the Great
Father would bend His ear to listen."

"It is a pretty story," said Brewster. "The telephone is the most
poetical of inventions. There is a metallic sound to the click of the
telegraph, as though its chief use was to further the work and the worry
of mankind. There is something like a sob to the perfecting press, as
though saddened by the very thought of the abuses it must reform. There
is a something about a steam engine which reminds one of the heavy
respirations of the slave, toiling on his chain, but the telephone has a
voice for but one ear at a time, and when it is a voice that we love its
messages come like caresses.

"Not the least of its triumphs is that it has broken the silence of the

"At last voices from the outer world thrill through the thick walls, and
the patient women who are immured there hear the good nights and the
kisses which by loving lips are sent away to loving homes. How their
starved hearts must be thrilled by those messages! Sometimes, too, they
must realize that the course of Nature cannot be changed; that the
beginning of heaven is in the love which canopies true homes on earth.
But with that thought there comes another, that from the Infinite, to
palace, convent and humble homes alike, celestial wires, too fine for
mortal eyes to discern, stretch down, and all alike are held in one
sheltering hand. Sometime all these wires will work in accord, and the
good-nights and the kisses in the souls of men will materialize into
harmony and fill the world with music."

"That is, Brewster," said Corrigan, "supposin' the wires do not get
crossed and the girls do not kiss the wrong papas."

"Suppose, Brewster," said the Colonel, "that at the final concert it
shall be discovered that certain gentlemen have not settled their
monthly rents for a long time, and their connection has been cut off?"

"There is no music where there are no ears to hear," said Wright. "What
if some souls are born deaf and dumb?"

"Suppose," said the Professor, "that there are souls which have no ear
for music?"

"I do not know," said Brewster, "but I fancy that the fairest final
prizes may not be to the best musicians, but to those who made the
sorest sacrifices in order to get a ticket to the concert."

With this the good nights were repeated.


At length there came a day when there was real trouble in the Club. The
foreman of the mine in which Wright was at work ordered Wright and a
fellow miner to go to the surface to assist in handling some machinery
which was to be sent down into the mine.

The two men stepped upon the cage and three bells were sounded--the
signal to the engineer at the surface that men were to be hoisted and
all care used.

The cage started from the 2,400-foot level. Nothing unusual happened
until, as they neared the surface, Wright said to his comrade: "By the
way we are passing the levels, it seems to me they must be in a hurry on

The other miner answered: "I guess it is all right;" but hardly were the
words spoken, when they shot up into the light; in an instant the cage
went crashing into the sheaves and was crushed, the men being thrown
violently out.

Wright's companion, as he fell, struck partly on the curbing of the
shaft, rolled in and was of course dashed to pieces.

Wright was thrown outside the shaft, and though not killed outright, two
or three ribs were broken, one lung was badly injured, besides he was
otherwise terribly bruised.

People unfamiliar with mining may not understand the above. On the
Comstock the hoisting engines are set from forty to eighty feet from the
mouths of the shafts. Directly over the shafts are frames from thirty to
fifty feet in height, on which pulleys (rimmed iron wheels) are
fastened. The cages are lowered and raised by flat, plaited, steel wire
cables, which are generally four or five inches wide and about
three-eighths of an inch in thickness.

This cable is first coiled on the reel of the engine, then the loose end
is drawn over the pulley, then down to the cage, to which it is made
fast. The wheel of a pulley is called a sheave, and by habit it has
grown to be a common expression to call the block and wheel in hoisting
works "the sheaves." At intervals of one or two hundred feet on the
cables they are wound with white cloth, as a guide to the engineer, as
the cable is uncoiled in lowering or coiled in hoisting. Also, on the
outer rim of the reel, is a dial with figures or marks at regular
intervals, and a hand (like the hand of a clock) which perpetually
indicates to the engineer about where the cage is in all stages of
lowering or hoisting.

These engineers work eight hour shifts, and sometimes twelve. Of the
nature of their work an idea can be formed by the statement that during
the two or three years when the great Bonanza in the California
and Con. Virginia mines was giving up its treasure, through two
double-compartment shafts, all the work of those two mines was carried
on. The main ore body was between the 1,300-foot and 1,700-foot levels.
Every day from six hundred to eight hundred men were lowered into and
hoisted out of the mine. One hundred thousand feet (square measure) of
timbers were lowered daily (three million feet per month); nearly or
quite one thousand tons of ore was hoisted daily; the picks, drills and
gads were sent up to be sharpened and returned; the powder used and five
tons of ice daily were lowered, and besides this work, there was
machinery to lower and hoist; the waste rock to be handled and visitors
and officers of the mine to be lowered and hoisted. The cages are about
four feet six inches in length and three feet in width, and are simply
iron frames with a wooden floor and iron bonnet over the top and made to
exactly fit the size of the shaft. Three of these compartments had
double cages--one above the other, and one had three cages. A
three-decker carries three tons of ore or twenty-seven men at a time.

Of course when such work is being driven, the eyes of an engineer have
to be every moment on their work. Men follow the occupation for months
and years without an accident or mistake, but now and then, through the
ceaseless strain, their nerves break down; something like an aberration
of the mind comes over them and they watch, dazed like sleep-walkers, as
the cage shoots out of the shaft and mounts up into the sheaves and
cannot command themselves enough to move the lever of the engine which
is in their hand.

Such an accident as this overtook Wright and his companion. Poor Wright
was carried home by brother miners. The accident happened only about an
hour before the time for changing shifts and hardly was Wright laid in
his bed before the other members of the Club met at their home.

The best surgical talent of the city was called; the members of the Club
took turns in watching; there was not a moment that one or the other was
not bending over their friend.

At first, when he rallied from the shock of the injury, Wright told all
about the accident. He further told his friends that he had no near
relatives, instructed the Club, in the event of his death, to open his
trunk, burn the papers and divide the little money there among
themselves, designated little presents for each one and said: "Miller
will be grieved if I die, and may think my heart was not altogether warm
toward him, so give him my watch; it is the most valuable trinket that I

When the first reaction from the shock came, his friends were encouraged
to believe he would recover; but it was a vain hope. He soon went into a
half unconscious, half delirious state, from which it was hard to 'rouse
him for even a few minutes at a time.

He lay that way for two days and nights and then died.

On the afternoon of the second day it was clear that he was almost
gone--the spray began to splash upon his brow from the dark river--and
all the Club grouped around him.

Out of the shadow of death his mind cleared for a moment. In almost his
old natural tones, but weak, like the voices heard through a telephone,
he said:

"I have seen another mirage, boys. It was the old home under the Osage
shadows. It was all plain; the old house, the orchard, the maples were
red in the autumn sun, and my mother, who died long ago, seemed to be
there, smiling and holding out her arms to me.

"It was all real, but you don't know how tired I am. Carlin, old friend,
turn me a little on my side and let me sleep."

Gently as mothers move their helpless babes, the strong miner turned his
friend upon his pillows.

He breathed shorter and shorter for a few minutes, then one long sigh
came from his mangled breast, and all was still.

There was perfect silence in the room for perhaps five minutes. Then
Brewster, with a voice full of tears, said: "God grant that the mirage
is now to him a delicious reality," and all the rest responded, "Amen."

The undertaker came, the body was dressed for the grave and placed in a
casket, and the Club took up their watch around it.

Now and then a subdued word was spoken, but they were very few. The
hearts of the watchers were all full, and conversation seemed out of
place. Wright was one of the most manly of men, and the hearts of the
friends were very sore. The evening wore on until ten o'clock came, when
there fell a gentle knock on the outer door. The door was opened and by
the moonlight four men could be seen outside. One of them spoke:

"We 'eard as 'ow Hadrian wur gone, and thot to sing a wee bit to he as
'ow the lad might be glad."

They were the famous quartette of Cornish miners and were at once
invited in.

They filed softly into the room--the Club rising as they entered--and
circled around the casket. After a long look upon the face of the
sleeper they stood up and sang a Cornish lament. Their voices were
simply glorious. The words, simple but most pathetic, were set to a
plaintive air, the refrain of each stanza ending in some minor notes,
which gave the impression that tears of pity, as they were falling, had
been caught and converted into music.

The effect was profound. The stoicism of the

Club was completely broken down by it. When the lament ceased all were
weeping, while warm-hearted and impetuous Corrigan was sobbing like a
grieved child.

The quartette waited a moment and then sang a Cornish farewell, the
music of which, though mostly very sad, had, here and there, a bar or
two such as might be sung around the cradle of Hope, leaving a thought
that there might be a victory even over death, and which made the hymn
ring half like the _Miserere_ and half like a benediction.

When this was finished and the quartette had waited a moment more, with
their magnificent voices at full volume, they sang again--a requiem,
which was almost a triumph song, beginning:

    Whatever burdens may be sent
        For mortals here to bear,
    It matters not while faith survives
        And God still answers prayer.
    I will not falter, though my path
        Leads down unto the grave;
    The brave man will accept his fate,
        And God accepts the brave.

Then with a gentle "Good noight, lads," they were gone.

It was still in the room again until Corrigan said: "I hope Wright heard
that singin'; the last song in particular."

"Who knows?" said Ashley. "It was all silence here; those men came and
filled the place with music. Who knows that it will not, in swelling
waves, roll on until it breaks upon the upper shore?"

"Who knows," said Harding, "that he did not hear it sung first and have
it sent this way to comfort us? I thought of that when the music was
around us, and I fancied that some of the tones were like those that
fell from Wright's lips, when, in extenuation of Miller's fault, he was
reminding us that it was the intent that measured the wrong, and that
Miller never intended any wrong. Music is born above and comes down; its
native place is not here."

"He does not care for music," said the Colonel. "See how softly he
sleeps. All the weariness that so oppressed him has passed away. The
hush of eternity is upon him, and after his hard life that is sweeter
than all else could be."

"Oh, cease, Colonel," said Brewster. "Out of this darkened chamber how
can we speak as by authority of what is beyond. As well might the mole
in his hole attempt to tell of the eagle's flight.

"We only know that God rules. We watched while the great transition came
to our friend. One moment in the old voice he was conversing with us;
the next that voice was gone, but we do not believe that it is lost. As
we were saying of the telephone, when we speak those only a few feet
away hear nothing. The words die upon the air, and we explain to
ourselves that they are no more. But thirty miles away, up on the side
of the Sierras, an ear is listening, and every tone and syllable is
distinct to that ear. Who knows what connections can be made with those
other heights where Peace rules with Love?

"Our friend whose dust lies here was not called from nothing simply to
buffet through some years of toil and then to return to nothing through
the pitiless gates of Death. To believe such a thing would be to impeach
the love, the mercy and the wisdom of God. Wright is safe somewhere and
happier than he was with us. I should not wonder if Harding's theory
were true, and that it was to comfort us that he impelled those singers
to come here."

"Brewster," said Alex, "your balance is disturbed to-night. You say
'from out our darkened chamber we cannot see the light,' and then go on
to assert that Wright is happier than when here. You do not know; you
hope so, that is all. So do I, and by the calm that has pressed its
signet on his lips, I am willing to believe that all that was of him is
as much at rest as is his throbless heart, and that the mystery which so
perplexes us--this something which one moment greets us with smiles and
loving words, but which a moment later is frozen into everlasting
silence--is all clear to him now. I hope so, else the worlds were made
in vain, and the sun in heaven, and all the stars whose white fires fill
the night, are worthy of as little reverence as a sage brush flame; and
it was but a cruel plan which permitted men to have life, to kindle in
their brains glorious longings and in their hearts to awaken affections
more dear than life itself."

Then Harding, as if to himself repeated: "It matters not while Faith
survives, and God still answers prayer."

Half an hour more passed, then the Colonel arose, looked long on the
face in the casket and said:

"How peaceful is his sleep. The mystery of the unseen brings no look of
surprise to his face. Around him is the calm of the dreamless bivouac:
the brooding wings of eternal rest have spread their hush above him.
To-morrow the merciful earth will open her robes of serge to receive
him; in her ample bosom will fold his weary limbs, and while he sleeps
will shade his eyes from the light. In a brief time, save to the few of
us who love him, he will be forgotten among men. Days will dawn and set;
the seasons will advance and recede; the years will ebb and flow; the
tempest and the sunshine will alternately beat upon his lonely couch,
until ere long it will be leveled with the surrounding earth; his body
will dissolve into its original elements and it will be as though he had
never lived. The great ocean of life will heave and swell, and there
will be no one to remember this drop that fell upon the earth in spray
and was lost.

"This is as it seems to us, straining our dull eyes out upon the
profound beyond our petty horizon. But who knows? We can trace the
thread of this life as it was until it passed beyond the range of our
visions, but who of us knows whether it was all unwound or whether in
the 'beyond' it became a golden chain so strong that even Death can not
break it, and thrilled with harmonies which could never vibrate on this
frail thread that broke to-day?"

Then the Colonel sat down and the Professor stood up, and with his left
hand resting on the casket, said:

"Three days ago this piece of crumbling dust was a brave soldier of
peace. I mean the words in their fullest sense. Just now our brothers in
the East are fearful lest so much silver will be produced that it will
become, because of its plentifulness, unfit to be a measure of values.
They do not realize what it costs or they would change their minds. They
do not know how the gnomes guard their treasures, or what defense Nature
uprears around her jewels. They revile the stamp which the Government
has placed upon the white dollar. Could they see deeper they would
perceive other stamps still. There would be blood blotches and seams
made by the trickling of the tears of widows and orphans, for before the
dollar issues bright from the mint, it has to be sought for through
perils which make unconscious heroes of those who prosecute the search.
For nearly twenty years now, on this lode, tragedies like this have been
going on. We hear it said: 'A man was killed to-day in the Ophir,' or 'a
man was dashed to pieces last night in the Justice,' and we listen to it
as merely the rehearsal of not unexpected news. Could a list of the men
who have been killed in this lode be published, it would be an appalling
showing. It would outnumber the slain of some great battle.

"Besides the deaths by violence, hundreds more, worn out by the heat and
by the sudden changes of temperature between the deep mines and the
outer air, have drooped and died.

"The effect is apparent upon our miners. Their bearing perplexes
strangers who come here. They do not know that in the conquests of labor
there are fields to be fought over which turn volunteers into veteran
soldiers quite as rapidly as real battle fields. They know nothing about
storming the depths; of breaking down the defences of the deep hills.
They can not comprehend that the quiet men whom they meet here on the
streets are in the habit of shaking hands with Death daily until they
have learned to follow without emotion the path of duty, let it lead
where it may, and to accept whatever may come as a matter of course.

"Such an one was this our friend, who fell at his post; fell in the
strength of his manhood, and when his great heart was throbbing only in
kindness to all the world.

"One moment he exulted in his splendid life, the next he was mangled and
crushed beyond recovery.

"Still there was no repining, no spoken regrets. For years the
possibility of such a fate as this had been before his eyes steadily; it
brought much anguish to him, but no surprise.

"He had lived a blameless life. As it drew near its close the vision of
his mother was mercifully sent to him, and so in his second birth the
same arms received him that cradled him when before he was as helpless
as he is now.

"By the peace that is upon him, I believe those arms are around his soul
to-night; I believe he would not be back among us if he could.

"We have a right on our own account to grieve that he is gone, but not
on his. He filled on earth the full measure of an honest, honorable,
brave and true life. That record went before him to Summer Land. I
believe it is enough and that he needs neither tears nor regrets."

The Professor sat down and Corrigan then arose and went and looked long
and fondly upon the upturned face. At last in a low voice he said:

"Auld frind, if yees can, give me a sign some time that something was
saved from this mighty wrick. I will listen for the call in the dape
night. I will listen by the timbers in the dape drifts; come back if
yees can and give us a hope that there will be hand clasps and wilcomes
for us whin the last shift shall be worked out."

So one after the other talked until the night stole away before the
smile of the dawn. Harding pulled aside the curtains, and at that moment
the sun, panoplied in glory, shed rosy tints all over the desert to the

"See," said Harding. "It was on such a morning as this that on the
desert was painted the mirage which troubled poor Wright so much, until
the clearer light drove it away. Let us hope that there are no
refractions of the rays to bring fear to him where he is."

There was the usual inquest, and on the second day after his death,
Wright was buried. After the funeral his effects were looked over; the
bills were paid, a simple stone was ordered to be placed over his grave,
and his money, some few hundred dollars, was divided among the hospitals
of the city.


A few days more went by, but the old joy of the Club was no more.

Wright was gone, and all that had been heard from Miller was a brief
note thanking the Club for their kindness, but giving no intimation that
he contemplated returning.

One morning about the twenty-fifth of the month the five miners who were
left went away to their work as usual, but all were unusually depressed,
as though a sense of sorrow or of approaching sorrow was upon them.

As said before, Brewster was working in the Bullion. Toward noon of this
day word was passed down into the other mines that an accident was
reported in the Bullion; some said it was a cave and some that it was a
fire, but it was not certainly known.

Each underground foreman and boss was instructed to see that the
bulkheads, which, when closed, shut off the underground connections
between the several mines, were made ready to be closed at a moment's
notice, in case the accident proved to be a fire. The whisper of "fire
in the mine" is a terrible one on the Comstock, for in the deeps there
are dried timbers sufficient to build a great city, and once on fire
they would make a roaring hell.

When the news of an accident in the Bullion was circulated in the other
mines, but one thought took form in the minds of the other four members
of the Club. Brewster was working in the Bullion, and it might be that
he was in peril.

Within half an hour, and almost at the same moment, Carlin, Corrigan,
Ashley and Harding appeared at the Bullion hoisting works.

The superintendent stood at the shaft, and though perfectly
self-contained, he was very pale and it needed but a glance at his face
to know that he was either suffering physically or was greatly troubled.
By this time, too, the wives of the miners at work in the Bullion had
commenced to gather around the works.

Mingled with the condensing vapors at the mouth of the shaft, there was
the ominous odor of burning timbers.

Just as the Club miners entered the Bullion works, the bell struck and
the cage came rapidly to the surface. There was nothing on the cage, but
tied to one of the iron braces was a slip of paper. This the
superintendent seized and eagerly scanned.

Turning to a miner who stood near, he said: "Sandy, go outside and tell
those women to go home. Say to them that the accident involves only one
man, and he has no family here. His name is Brewster, and we hope to
save him yet."

At this the four members of the Club sprang to the shaft and demanded to
be let down.

They were sternly ordered back by the superintendent.

"But," said Carlin, fiercely, "this man whom you have named is like a
brother to us; if he is in danger we must go to his rescue."

The rest were quite as eager in their demands. Seeing how earnest they
were, the superintendent said: "You are strangers to the mine. The whole
working force from all the levels has been sent to the point of the
accident. You would only be in the way."

But they still insisted, vehemently. Said Ashley: "Your men are working
for money, and will take no risks; it is different with us."

"You do not know what you are doing in refusing us," said Harding; "that
man's life is worth a thousand ordinary lives."

"Suppose your brother were in danger and some man stood in the way
forbidding you to go to him, what would you think?" asked Carlin.

"Yees are superintindint and rule this mine," said Corrigan, "but you
have no rule over min's lives, and this is a matter of the grandest life
upon the lode, and yees have no right to refuse us."

"Very well," said the superintendent; "if you men can be of any possible
use you shall be sent down."

On a bit of paper he wrote a brief note, tied it to the frame of the
cage and sent it down. When the cage disappeared in the shaft, he turned
to the men and explained that he had been upon the surface but a few
minutes; that long before a drift had been run off from the main gallery
at the twenty-one hundred-foot level some fifty feet through ground so
hard that it had never required timbering. At the farther end soft
ground had been encountered and a stringer of ore. Following this
stringer a lateral drift had been run some fifty feet each way. This
lateral drift was timbered when it was run. No ore of any value having
been uncovered the work was abandoned, and since then the drift had been
used as a storage place for powder and candles. That morning the foreman
had gone into this drift with a surveyor to establish some point which
the engineer required. To assist the surveyor the foreman had stuck his
candlestick into a timber and had gone with the surveyor to one end of
this lateral drift.

Looking back they saw that the candle had fallen against the timber,
which was dry as tinder.

It had caught on fire and the flame had already run up and was in the

They rushed back, and though not seriously injured, were pretty badly
scorched. All the miners in the mine were called to that point, and the
work of putting out the fire, or of keeping it from connecting with the
main drift, was begun. The superintendent was at the time on the
twenty-four hundred-foot level. He had hastened to the spot at the first
alarm. A donkey pump was at the twenty-one hundred-foot station, with
plenty of hose. This was running within fifteen minutes. The fire, after
burning a little way in each direction along the lateral drift,
exhausting the oxygen in the air, ceased to flame and just burrowed its
way through the timbers. This produced a dense and sifting smoke.

A heavy stream of water was turned into this drift, the superintendent
directing the work until, under the heat and smoke, he had fainted and
been brought to the surface.

Holding up the note which had come up on the cage, he said the man
Brewster who was holding the nozzle of the hose had gone too far into
the drift, under where the logging had burned away and had been caught
in a cave, but the rest were working to release him.

The bell sounded again and in three minutes the cage shot out of the
shaft. The paper which it brought had only these few words: "If you can
send two (2) first-class miners, all right, but not more. Any others
would only be in the way. It is a very dangerous place, don't send any
but thorough men." This was signed by the foreman.

When the superintendent read the note the four men rushed forward, and
for a moment their clamors were indescribable.

"It is my place to go," said Ashley. "I have as little to live for as
any of you. Do not hold me back."

"Stand back," said Harding. "I would rather never go home than not to go
with Brewster."

Seizing Harding by the arm, Carlin hurled him back, exclaiming: "Art
crazy, boy? Your bark is but just launched; this is work for old hulks
that are used to rocks and storms."

Over all the voice of Corrigan rang out: "Hould, men! This is me place.
Me life has been but a failure. I will make what amind I can," and he
sprang upon the cage, and, seizing a brace with either hand, turned his
glittering eyes upon his friends.

At length over the Babel the voice of the superintendent was heard
commanding "Silence!"

"You all alike seem determined," he said, "but only two can go. You will
have to draw lots to decide." This proposition was with many murmurs
agreed to. The superintendent prepared four bits of paper, two long and
two short ones. He placed the slips in his hat, and, holding it above
the level of the men's eyes, said: "You will each draw a slip of paper;
the two who draw the long slips will go, the others will remain. Go on
with the drawing!"

The long slips were drawn by Corrigan and Carlin. With smiles of triumph
these two shook hands with the others, who were weeping. Said Corrigan:

"Whativer may happen, do not grave, boys. I will see yees again before
night, or--I will see me mither."

The two men stepped upon the cage. In his old careless way, Carlin said:
"Don't worry about me, boys! I will come back by and by and bring
Brewster, or I will know as much as Wright does before night."

With these words the two devoted men disappeared with the cage into the
dreadful depths.

With bitter self-reproaches the two remaining men sat down and waited. A
half hour went by, when the bell struck and the engine began to hoist.
The cage again bore only a slip of paper. This the superintendent read
as follows:

"We have had another cave; another man is hurt; all the miners are much
exhausted. Send a couple more men if possible."

The two men sprang upon the cage, the superintendent joined them, and
they were rapidly lowered into the depths. Reaching the fatal level,
they learned that Corrigan and Carlin, on going down, had insisted on
taking the lead; that they had partly uncovered Brewster when another
cave had come. It had caught and buried Corrigan, but Carlin, though
stunned and bruised somewhat, had escaped. By this time the smoke had
partially cleared, but the drift was intensely hot.

The superintendent again took charge. Timbers and heavy plank were
brought. The drift was rapidly shored up, and within an hour Harding and
Ashley recovered the body of Corrigan.

There was very little rock over him, but he was quite dead. He had been
struck and crushed by a boulder from the roof of the drift. He was
bending down at the time, the boulder struck him fairly in the back of
the neck and he must have died instantly.

Very soon Brewster's body, too, was uncovered. He also was dead. He had
been buried by decomposed rock, and had died from asphyxia.

The bodies were carried to the shaft; each was wrapped in a blanket, and
that of Corrigan was placed upon the cage. The superintendent, with
Carlin and two other miners, stepped on the cage and it was hoisted to
the surface. It returned in a few minutes, and this time Brewster's body
was placed upon it, and Harding and Ashley, with two other miners,
accompanied it to the surface.

In the daylight the faces of the dead were both peaceful, as though in
sleep. The bodies were sent away to an undertaker, and as Brewster had
been heard to say, at Wright's funeral, that if he should die in the
West, he would want his body sent East to be buried beside that of his
wife, word was sent to the undertaker to try and get the coroner's
permission and then to embalm the body of Brewster.

The three remaining members of the Club were carried to their dreary
home. Besides their sorrow, they were terribly exhausted. Harding had
fainted once in the drift; Carlin was, besides being worn out, badly
bruised, and Ashley was so exhausted that upon reaching the surface he
was seized with chills and vomiting. The Professor, the Colonel and Alex
were at the hoisting works when they were hoisted to the surface. They
accompanied them home and remained, ministering to them until late in
the night, when at last all were sleeping peacefully.

With the morning the desolateness of their situation seemed more
oppressive than ever. Yap Sing had prepared a dainty breakfast, but when
they entered the dining room and saw only three plates where a few days
before there had been seven, it was impossible for them to eat a
mouthful. Each drank a cup of black coffee, but neither tasted food.

Returned to the sitting room, it was determined to examine the effects
of their dead friends. There was little in Corrigan's bundles except
clothing and a memorandum book. This book had $150 in greenbacks, and a
great many memorandums of stocks purchased, extending over a period of
three years. These, a few words at the bottom of the pages showed, had
almost all been sold either on too short margins or for assessments.
Corrigan's humor ran all through the book in penciled remarks. The
following are samples:

"I had a sure thing; was the only mon in the sacret. I was but one and I
caught it."

"I bate Mr. Broker mon. He bought for me on a fifty per cint margin, and
it broke that fast he could not get out from below it."

"This was a certain sure point. Bedad, I found it that same."

"I took the Scorpion to my bosom and, the blackguard, he stung me."

"I stuck to Jacket until I had not a ghoust of a jacket to me back."

"I made love to Julia. She was more ungrateful than Maggie Murphy."

But between these same pages was found the letter Corrigan had received
announcing his mother's death, and this was almost illegible because of
the tear stains upon it.

In Brewster's trunk everything was found in the perfect order which had
marked all his ways.

A book showed every dollar that he had received since coming to the
Comstock; his monthly expenses, the sums he had sent his sister for his
children, and his bank book showed exactly how much was to his credit.

Another paper was found giving directions that if anything fatal should
happen to him, his body should be returned to Taunton, Massachusetts,
and if anything should be left above the necessary expenses of
forwarding his body, the amount should be sent to his sister, Mrs.
Martha Wolcott, of Taunton, for his children. The paper also contained
an order on his banker for whatever money might be to his credit, and a
statement that he owed no debts. There were also sealed letters directed
to each of his children. Another large package was tied up carefully and
endorsed, "My children's letters. Please return them to Taunton without
breaking the package."

The bank book showed that there was eleven hundred and sixty-three
dollars to his credit.

Brewster was a man that even death could not surprise. He was always

When the examination was completed, Carlin suggested to Ashley that he
take the book, call at the bank, see if the amount was correct and if
the bank would pay it on the order found in the book.

Ashley hesitated. "There is something else, Carlin, that should be done,
but I do not know how to go about it. That sister should be advised of
her brother's death, that she may communicate the news to Brewster's

"I have been thinking of that ever since yesterday," said Carlin, "but I
can not do it."

"I have been thinking of it, too," said Harding, "but by evening we can
determine when the body will be sent and can include everything in one

Ashley went away, leaving Carlin and Harding together.

"I am not sure," said Harding, "but I begin to believe that the man who
invented dealing in stocks was an enemy to his race. Look at the result
of Corrigan's life; think what poor Wright had to show for all his years
of toil. They could not have fared much worse had they dealt in poker or
faro straight."

"And they are only two," responded Carlin. "There are three thousand
more miners like them here and a hundred times three thousand other
people scattered up and down this coast, trying to get rich in the same
way, while here and in San Francisco a dozen men sit behind their
counters and draw in the earnings of the coast. It is worse than folly,
Harding. It is a kind of lunacy, a sort of an every day financial

By this time it was past eleven o'clock in the forenoon. Suddenly,
without a preliminary knock, the door opened and Miller stood before the
two men. They sprang to their feet and welcomed him, the tears starting
to all their eyes as they shook hands.

"Oh, Miller!" said Harding, "why did you go away? We have had only
trouble and sorrow since."

"It was not fair of you, Miller," said Carlin, "You held our friendship
at a miserably low price."

"You are awfully good," said Miller; "but you are looking from your
standpoint. I looked from mine, and I could not do differently. But tell
me about this dreadful business. I saw about Wright, and read the
account of this fearful accident of yesterday as I was coming up in the
train, but still, there must have been some blundering somewhere."

Everything was explained, and also what had been discovered of the
effects of the dead miners.

"Poor grand souls," said Miller. "It was a tough ending. Never before
did three such royal hearts stop beating in a single fortnight on the

Ashley returned, and, with words full of affectionate reproach, greeted

Ashley had found everything at the bank as the book indicated, and the
undertaker had promised that Brewster's remains should be ready for
shipment on the evening of the next day.

Then the question of the dispatch to the family came up again.

"Before deciding upon that," said Miller, "let me tell you something:

"When I took the money to pay the bills, I had, with a little of my own,
something over seven hundred dollars. I bought on a margin of only
twenty-five per cent.--the broker was my friend--all the Silver Hill
that the money would purchase. I thought I had a sure thing. My
informant was a Silver Hill miner. I believed I could multiply the money
by three within as many days. In five days it fell thirty per cent. What
could I do? A note from the broker asking me to call, received the
evening before I went away, decided me. I went away, but when I saw by
dispatches that Wright had been killed, and I could get nothing to do, I
determined to come back.

"Well, I met my broker this morning. He asked me to call at his place.
There he informed me that the day he purchased Silver Hill he met the
superintendent and learned from him that there was not yet a
development; that the stock was more liable to fall than to rise for two
or three weeks to come, the rage being just then for north end stocks.
He could not find me, and accordingly, on his own responsibility, he
sold the stock, losing nothing but commissions and cost of dispatches.

"There was a little lull in Sierra Nevada that day, and, believing it
was good, he bought with my money and on my account. As it shot up he
kept buying. At last, a week ago, he had two thousand shares and sold
five hundred, and by the sale paid himself all up except $21,000.

"Hearing day before yesterday that I had left the city, he sold the
other fifteen hundred shares at $157. This morning he handed me a
certificate of deposit in my favor for $213,000, and here it is."

Most heartily did the others congratulate Miller on his good fortune.

But Miller said: "Congratulate yourselves! I used the money of the Club.
The profit I always intended should be the Club's. Wright and Corrigan
and Brewster are gone, but you are left and Brewster's children are
left. If I am correct, $213,000 divided by five, makes exactly $42,600.
That is, you each have $42,600 on deposit in the bank, and a like sum is
there for two fatherless and motherless children in Massachusetts."

It was useless to try to reason the matter with Miller. He merely said:
"It shall be my way. It was a square deal. I meant it so from the first;
only," he added, sadly, "I wish Wright and Corrigan and Brewster could
have lived to know it." Then turning quickly to Harding, he said:
"Harding, how much is that indebtedness which has worried you so long?"

Harding replied that the mortgage was $8,000, while the personal debts
amounted to $3,000 more.

"Then," said Miller, "you can pay the debts and have nearly $30,000 more
with which to build your house and barns, to stock and fix your place
for a home."

The tears came to Harding's eyes, but he could not answer.

"Never mind, old boy," said Miller; "did I not tell you I would make
things all right for you?"

Then Carlin got up, went into the adjoining room, brought out the watch
which had been Wright's and told Miller how Wright, under the shadow of
death, had bequeathed the watch to him.

For the first time Miller broke down and burst into tears.

When he recovered somewhat the command of himself, he said:

"Now, I have a proposition to make. Let us all give up this mining. It
is a hard life, and generally ends either in poverty or in a fatal
accident. I am going to San Francisco. The place to make money is where
there is money, and I am going to try my skill at the other end of the

"You are right," said Carlin. "I am never going down into the Comstock
again. I made up my mind to that yesterday. I am going back to

"And I am going to Pennsylvania," said Ashley.

"I gave up mining yesterday, also," said Harding; "at least on the
Comstock. I do not mind the labor or the danger, but it is not a life
that fits a man for a contented old age."

Suddenly Miller said: "Harding, were you ever in the Eastern States?"

"No," said Harding; "the present boundary of my life is limited to
California and Nevada."

"Well," said Miller, "if we all give ourselves credit for all the good
we ever dreamed of doing, still neither of us, indeed, all of us
together, are not worthy to be named on the same day with James
Brewster. His body must go East, and on its arrival there only an aged
woman and two little orphan children await to receive it. I think it
would be shabby to send the dust of the great-hearted and great-souled
man there unattended. What say you, Ashley and Harding, will you not
escort the body to its old home?"

Both at once assented. A dispatch was prepared announcing Brewster's
death, and adding that his body would be shipped the next evening
escorted by two brother miners, Herbert Ashley and Samuel Harding. This
was signed by the superintendent of the Bullion company.

The superintendent also made a written statement that he had examined
the effects of Brewster and found that, less the expenses of embalming,
transportation, etc., together with $80 due Brewster from the Bullion
company, there was left the sum of $840.25. With this statement a bill
of exchange on Boston for the $840.25 was enclosed, and Ashley took
charge of it.

The bills were all paid. The money due Brewster's orphans, according to
Miller's calculation, was also converted into a bill of exchange payable
to Mabel and Mildred Brewster. Ashley and Harding took charge of the
first and left the second of exchange to be forwarded by Colonel Savage,
and before night all preparations for leaving the next day were made.

The next morning Corrigan's funeral took place with all the ostentatious
parade which Virginia City was famous for in the flush times when some
one who had been a favorite had passed away. At the hall of the Miners'
Union Colonel Savage delivered a eulogy which was infinitely more
beautiful than some of the orations which have been treasured among the
gems of the century.

He was followed by Strong in a eulogy that touched every heart. Here is
a sample:

"Gentle and unpretentious was Barney Corrigan. There was no disguise in
his nature. Could his heart have been worn outside his breast, and could
it, every moment, have thrown off pictures of the emotions that warmed
it, to those who knew him well, those pictures would have thrown no new
light on his nature.

"Generous and true was he; true as a man, a friend a citizen. His walk
through life was an humble one, but it was, nevertheless, grand. So
brave was he that he performed heroic acts as a matter of course, and
all unconscious that he was a hero.

"So he toiled on, his path lighted by his own genial eyes, and strewn
behind him with generous deeds.

"When death came to him the blessed anæsthetic which made him
indifferent to his sufferings was the thought that in a little while he
would rescue a friend in peril, or feel the grasp of the spirit hand of
his mother.

"Noble was his life; consecrated will be the ground that receives his
mortal part. The world was better that he lived; it is sadder that he
has died.

"With tears we part with him; our souls send tender 'all hails and
farewells' out to his soul that has fled, and we pray that his sleep may
be sweet."

The Colonel, Professor and Alex, with Miller, Carlin, Ashley and
Harding, rode in the mourning carriages. These were followed by a long
line of carriages and quite one thousand miners on foot. At the grave
the services were simply a prayer and a hymn sung by the Cornish
quartette. They made his grave close beside that of Wright's; they
ordered a duplicate stone to be placed above it, and left him to his
long sleep.

Yap Sing was paid off and a handsome present made him, the furniture and
food in the Club house was distributed among poor families in the
neighborhood, and on the evening train the four living men, with the
body of their dead friend, moved out of Virginia City.

A great crowd was at the depot to see them off, and the last hands wrung
were those of the Professor, the Colonel and Alex.

On the way to Reno, Carlin said to Miller: "One thing I cannot
understand, Miller; whatever possessed that broker to turn over that
money to you when he was not compelled to?"

"I have no idea in the world," said Miller, "except that we are old

"But did you never do him any great favor, Miller--any particularly
great favor?" asked Carlin.

"No," said Miller, "I cannot think of any." But after a moment's silence
he added: "By the way, come to think of it, I did do him a little favor
once. I saved his life."

"How was it?" asked Carlin. "Why," answered Miller, "he and myself had a
running fight with a band of renegade Indians. There were seven or eight
of them at first, and we got them reduced to four, when one of them
killed the broker's horse. It was a very close game then. It required
the promptest kind of work. When the horse fell the broker was thrown
violently on his shoulder and the side of his head and was too stunned
to gather his wits together for a few minutes. I had a gentle horse, so
sprang down from him and let him go. I got behind a low rock and
succeeded in stopping two of the Indians, when the others concluded it
was no even thing and took the back track. But the broker was "powerful"
nervous when I got up to him. The worst of all was, I had to ride and
tie with him for seventeen miles, and he was so badly demoralized that I
had to do all the walking."

At Reno Miller bade the others good-bye and took the west-bound train.
Carlin sent a dispatch to an Illinois town. Late in the night the
east-bound Overland express came in; the body of Brewster was put on
board, the three friends entered a sleeper and the long ride began.


Following a long established habit our three travelers were up next
morning shortly after dawn.

The train was then thundering over the desert northeast of Wadsworth.
Carlin noticed the country and said:

"This must be almost on the spot where poor Wright saw his wonderful

As he spoke the bending rays of the rising sun swept along the sterile
earth, and a shimmer in the air close to the ground revealed how swiftly
the heat waves were advancing.

"It is as Wright said; the desert grows warm at once, so soon as the
morning sun strikes it," said Harding. "Heavens, how awful a desolation.
It is as though the face-cloth had been lifted from a dead world."

"Do you remember what Wright told us, about the appalling stillness of
this region?" asked Ashley. "One can realize a little of it by looking
out. Were the train not here what would there be for sound to act upon?"

"Is it not pitiful," said Harding, "to think of a grand life like
Wright's being worn out as his was? He met the terrors here when but a
boy. From that time on there was but blow after blow of this merciless
world's buffetings until the struggle closed in a violent and untimely

"You forget," said Ashley, "that a self-contained soul and royal heart
like his, are their own comforters. He had joys that the selfish men of
this world never know."

All that day the conversation was only awakened at intervals and then
was not long continued. Not only the sorrow in their hearts was claiming
their thoughts and imposing the silence which real sorrow covets; but
the swift changes wrought in the week just passed, had really resulted
in an entire revolution in all their thoughts and plans.

It was to them an epoch. The breakfast station came, later the dinner,
later the supper station. All the day the train swept on up the Humboldt
valley. Along the river bottom were meadows, but about the only change
in the monotonous scenery, was from desert plains to desert mountains
and back again to the plains.

Night came down in Eastern Nevada. When they awoke next morning the
train was skirting the northwest shore of Great Salt Lake and the rising
sun was painting the splendors that, with lavish extravagance, the dawn
always pictures there on clear days, and no spot has more clear days
during the year.

Ogden was reached at nine o'clock in the morning, the transfer to the
Union Pacific train was made; breakfast eaten, and toward noon, the
beauties of Echo Canyon began to unfold. Green River was crossed in the
gloaming; in the morning Laramie was passed, at noon Cheyenne, and the
train was now on a down grade toward the East. With the next morning men
were seen gathering their crops; the desert had been left behind and the
travelers were now entering the granary of the Republic.

Late that night the train entered Omaha. The usual delay was made; the
transfers effected and early next morning the journey across Iowa, so
wonderful to one who has been long in the desert, began. Ashley darted
from side to side of the coach that he might not lose one bit of the
view; but Harding sat still, by the window, hardly moving, but straining
his eyes over the low waves of green, which, in the stillness of the
summer day, seemed like a sea transfixed.

Carlin was strangely restless. He did not seem to heed the scenery
around him. He studied his guidebook and every quarter of an hour looked
at his watch. When spoken to, he answered in an absent-minded way; it
was plain that he was absorbed by some overmastering thought.

Noon came at length, then one o'clock, then two; the train gave a long
whistle, slackened speed, and in a moment was brought to a standstill in
front of a station.

With the first signal Carlin had sprang from his seat and walked rapidly
toward the end of the car.

"What can the matter be with Carlin?" asked Harding. "He has been half
wild all day and altogether different from his usual self."

"He will be home sometime to-night," replied Ashley. "He has been absent
a long time, and I do not wonder at his unrest. I expect to have my
attack next week when the southern hills of Pennsylvania lift up their
crests, and the old familiar haunts begin to take form."

"Look! Look!" said Harding. "Carlin's unrest is taking a delicious form,

Two ladies were standing on the platform. Carlin had leaped from the
train while yet it was moving quite rapidly. He bent and kissed the
first lady, but the second one he caught in his arms, held her in a long
embrace and kissed her over and over again.

"He has struck a bonanza," said Ashley.

"And the formation is kindly," said Harding.

"The indications are splendid," said Ashley. "Mark the trend of the
vein; it is exquisite."

"It does not seem to be rebellious or obstinate ore to manipulate
either. Carlin's process seems to work like a fire assay," said Harding.

"Just by the surface showing the claim is worth a thousand dollars a
share," said Ashley. "I wonder if Carlin has secured a patent yet?"

"And I wonder," said Harding, "if we are not a pair of blackguards to be
talking this way. Let us go and meet them."

The friends arose and started for the platform, but were met half way by
Carlin and the ladies. There were formal introductions to Mrs. and Miss
Richards. Under the blushes of the young lady could be traced the
lineaments of the "Susie Dick" that Carlin had shown to the Club in the

Crimson, but still smiling, the young lady said: "Gentlemen, did you see
Mr. Carlin at the station, before a whole depot of giggling ninnies,
too? Was ever anything half so ridiculous?" Then glancing up at Carlin
with a forgiving look, but still in a delicious scolding tone, she
added: "I really had hoped that the West had partly civilized him."

Harding and Ashley glanced at each other with a look which said plainly
enough, "Carlin has proved up without any contest; even if the patent is
not already issued, his title is secure."

The friends had the drawing room and a section outside. With a quick
instinct Ashley seated the elder lady in the section, bade Harding
entertain her, then swinging back the drawing room door, said: "Miss
Richards, I know that you want to scold Carlin for the next hour, and he
deserves it. Right in here is the best place on the car for the purpose.
Please walk in." Saying which he stepped back and seated himself beside

The elder lady was a charming traveling companion. She wanted to know
all about the West. She knew all about the region they were passing
through, and the whole afternoon ride was a delight.

During the journey Harding and Ashley had been begging Carlin to
accompany them to Massachusetts, and he had finally promised to give
them a positive answer that day. After a while he emerged from the
drawing room and said: "I am sorry, but I cannot go East with you. These
ladies have been good enough to come out and meet me. We will all go on
as far as Chicago and see you off, but we cannot very well extend the
journey further. Indeed, Miss Susie intimates that I am too awkward a
man to be safe east of Chicago."

The others saw how it was and did not further importune him. Next day
they separated, Carlin's last words being, "If you ever come within five
hundred miles of Peoria stop and stay a month."

The grand city was passed. The train swung around the end of Lake
Michigan, leaving the magical city in its wake. Through the beautiful
region of Southern Michigan it hurried on. Detroit was reached and
passed; the arm of the Dominion was crossed, and finally, when in the
early morning the train stopped, the boom of Niagara filled the air, and
the enchantment of the picture which the river and the sunlight suspend
there before mortals, was in full view. Next the valley of the Genesee
was unfolded, and with each increasing mile more and more distinct grew
the clamors of toiling millions, jubilant with life and measureless in
energy. Swifter and more frequent was the rush of the chariots on which
modern commerce is borne, and all the time to the eyes of the men of the
desert the lovely homes which fill that region flitted by like the
castles of dreamland.

Later in the day the panorama of the Mohawk Valley began to unroll and
was drawn out in picture after picture of rare loveliness.

Ashley and Harding were enchanted. It was as though they had emerged
into a new world.

"Think of it, Ashley," said Harding. "It is but eight days--at this very
hour--since we were having that wrestle with death in the depths of the
Bullion mine. Think of that and then look around upon these serene homes
and the lavish loveliness of this scenery."

"I know now how Moses felt, when from the crest of Pisgah he looked down
to where the Promised Land was outstretched before him," was the reply.
"I feel as I fancy a soul must feel, when at last it realizes there is a
second birth."

Said Harding: "I dread more and more to meet these people where we are
going. How uncouth we will seem to them and to ourselves."

"Our errand will plead our excuses," said Ashley; "besides they will be
too much absorbed with something else to pay much attention to us.
Moreover they will know that our lives of late have been passed mostly
under ground, and they will not expect us to reflect much light."

"What are your plans, Ashley, for the near future, after this business
which we have in hand shall be over?" asked Harding.

"A home in old Pennsylvania is to be purchased," said Ashley, "and then
a trial with my fellow men for a fortune and for such honors as may be
fairly won. And you Harding, what have you marked out?"

Said Harding: "My father's estate is to be redeemed; after that,
whatever a strong right arm backing an honest purpose, can win. But one
thing we must not forget. We must be the semi-guardians of those
children of Brewster, until they shall pass beyond our care."

"You are very right, my boy," said Ashley. "Brewster was altogether
grand and his children must ever be our concernment."

In the early night the Hudson was crossed and the train plunged on
through the hills beyond. At Walpole early next morning the train was
boarded by three gentlemen who searched out Harding and Ashley and
introduced themselves as old friends of Brewster and his family. They
had come out to escort the body of Brewster to Taunton, now only a few
miles off. The names of these men were respectively Hartwell, Hill and

Hartwell explained that the remains would be taken to an undertaker, and
examined to see if it would be possible for the children and Mrs.
Wolcott, the sister of Brewster, to look upon their father's and
brother's face. He also said the funeral would be on the succeeding day.
Then the particulars of the accident were asked.

A full and graphic account of the whole affair had been published in the
Virginia City papers.

Copies of these were produced and handed over as giving a full idea of
the calamity.

The statement made by the superintendent of the Bullion including the
smaller certificate of deposit, also the other effects of Brewster, all
but the money obtained from Miller, were transferred to Mr. Hartwell.

On reaching Taunton a great number of sympathizing friends were in
waiting, for Brewster had lived there all his life until he went West
three years before, and he was much esteemed. The manner of his death
added to the general sympathy.

A hearse in waiting, at once took the body away. The young men were
taken to his home by Mr. Hartwell. They begged to be permitted to go to
a hotel, but the request would not be listened to.

On examination it was found that the work of the embalmer had been most
thorough. The face of Brewster was quite natural and placid, as though
in sleep.

Breakfast was in waiting for the young men, and when it was disposed of
they were shown again to the parlors and introduced to a score of people
who had gathered in to hear the story of Brewster's death from the lips
of the men who had taken his body from the deep pit and brought it home
for burial.

In the conversation which followed two or three hours were consumed.

When the callers had gone, Hartwell said:

"Gentlemen, I advise you to go to your rooms and try and get some rest.
In two or three hours I shall want you to go and make a call with me, if
the poor family of my friend can bear it."

Late that afternoon Hartwell knocked on the door of the sitting room,
which, with sleeping apartments on either side, had been given Harding
and Ashley, and when the door was opened, he said:

"Gentlemen, please come with me, the children of James Brewster desire
to see you!"

The young men arose and followed their host. Brewster had always
referred to his daughters as his "little girls;" the man who had the
young men to go and meet them, spoke of them as "the children of James
Brewster." Both Harding and Ashley, as they followed Hartwell, were
mentally framing words of comfort to speak to school misses just
entering their teens, who were in sorrow.

When then, they were ushered into the presence of two thoroughly
accomplished young women, and when these ladies, with tears streaming
down their faces, came forward, shook their hands, and, in broken words
of warmest gratitude, thanked them for all they had done and were doing,
and for all they had been to their father in life and in death, the men
from the desert were lost in surprise and astonishment.

As Harding said later: "I felt as though I was in a drift on the
2,800-foot level, into which no air pipe had been carried."

This apparition was all the more startling to them, because during the
two or three years that they had been at work on the Comstock, the very
nature of their occupation forbade their mingling in the society of
refined women to any but a most limited extent.

From the papers given the family by Hartwell that day, matters were
fully understood by the sister of Brewster and the young ladies, so no
explanations were asked. At first the conversation was little more than
warm thanks on the part of the young ladies and modest and half
incoherent replies.

The ladies were in the humble home of their father's widowed sister,
Mrs. Wolcott. That they were all poor was apparent from all the
surroundings. This fact at length forced its way through the bewildered
brain of Harding and furnished him a happy expedient to say something
without advertising himself the idiot that he, in that hour, would have
been willing to make an affidavit that he was. Said he:

"Ladies, amid all the sorrows that we bring to you, we have, what but
for your grief would be good news. Tell them, Ashley!"

"Oh, yes," said Ashley, "we have something which is yours, and which,
while no balm for sorrow like yours, will, we sincerely hope, be the
means of driving some cares from your lives."

Taking a memorandum from his pocket, he continued:

"Your father left more property than he himself knew of. How it was
Harding and myself will explain at some other time, if you desire. At
present it is only necessary to say that the amount is forty-two
thousand and six hundred dollars, for which we have brought you a bill
of exchange." With that he extended the paper to Miss Brewster. Then
these brave girls began to tremble and quake indeed. "It can not be,"
said Mabel. "There must be some mistake," said Mildred.

"Indeed, there is no mistake," said Harding. "See, it is a banker's
order on a Boston bank, and is payable to your joint order. No one can
draw it until you have both endorsed it, for it is yours."

Then these girls fell into each others arms and sobbed afresh.

As soon as they could the miners retired.

Mabel Brewster was tall, of slender form and severely classic face. She
had blue eyes, inherited from her mother, and that shade of hair which
is dusky in a faint light, but which turns to gold in sunlight. Her
complexion was very fair, her hands and arms were exquisite and her
manners most winsome.

Mildred, her sister, was of quite another type. A year and a half
younger than Mabel, she looked older than her sister. She had her
father's black eyes, and like him, a prominent nose and resolute mouth.
She was lower of statue and fuller of form than her sister. She had also
a larger hand and stronger arm. Over all was poised a superb head,
crowned with masses of tawny hair.

Standing in their simple mourning robes, with the afternoon sun shining
around them, they looked as Helen and Cassandra might have looked, while
yet the innocence and splendor of early womanhood were upon them.

Mabel was such a woman as men dream of and struggle to possess; Mildred
was such an one as men die for when necessary, and do not count it a

[Illustration: MABEL AND MILDRED.]

From the house the young men walked rapidly away, and so busy were they
with their own thoughts that neither spoke until they entered a wooded
park or common, and finding a rustic bench sat down.

Harding was the first to speak. "After all his mighty toil; after his
self-sacrificing life; after all his struggles, Brewster died and was
not permitted to see his children. It is most pitiable."

"May be he sees them now," said Ashley, softly. "It can not be far from
here to Heaven."

"I wish I had never seen her," said Harding, impetuously. And then all
his reserve breaking down he arose, stretched out his arms and cried:

"I wish I had died in Brewster's stead."

"Is she not divine?" said Ashley. "A very Iris, goddess of the rainbow,
bringing divine commands to man, his guide and his adviser."

"Say not so," said Harding. "Rather she is Ceres, in her original purity
returned to earth; flowers bloom under the soft light of her divine
eyes, and all bountifulness rests in the heaven of her white arms. I
tell you, Ashley, the man who could have that woman's eyes to smile up
approvingly upon him, would have to move on from conquest to conquest so
long as life lasted."

An anxious look came over the face of Ashley. "Which lady do you mean?"
he asked.

"Mean!" echoed Harding. "I mean she of the royal brow and starry eyes,
Mildred Brewster."

"Thank God," said Ashley with a great sigh of relief.

"And why do you thank God?" asked Harding.

"Because," said Ashley, "to me Mabel is the dainty, the divine one. She
comes upon the eye as a perfect soprano voice smites on a musical ear."

"You are growing musical, are you?" said Harding. "Well then, the other
is a celestial contralto, deep-toned and full and sweet, materialized."

After this both were silent for a moment and then Ashley began to laugh
low to himself.

"What is your hilarity occasioned by?" asked Harding.

"I was thinking what fools we have been making of ourselves," said

"And how did you reach that estimate, pray?" asked Harding.

"Why, Harding," was the answer, "an hour ago we met two ladies. They
were not what we expected to find, and they brought a sort of
enchantment to us. We saw them first an hour ago; we will to-morrow see
them once more, and that will be all; and still we have been raving like
two lunatics for the past half hour about them."

"You are right," was the sad reply. "See yonder on the street corner."

Just then a dainty carriage and a set of heavy trucks met on the corner
and passed each other, the carriage turning to the east, the trucks to
the west.

"Typical, is it not?" said Ashley. "The trucks go west--at least they
will to-morrow night."

"Most true," said Harding, "and still I think I would like to kiss the
carpet that has been sanctified by the footfalls of Mildred Brewster."

Ashley reached out, seized Harding's wrist and felt his pulse.

"You have got it bad, Harding," said he, "and I don't feel very well
myself. If poor Corrigan were alive again and here we would get him to
tell us about Maggie Murphy."

"We have had a mirage, Ashley. Let us pray that it will soon pass by,"
said Harding.

And then without another word being spoken, they returned to the
hospitable house of Hartwell.


The following is the copy of a letter written by Mrs. Wolcott to the
widow of her deceased husband's brother, Mrs. Abby Roberts, of Eastport,

     TAUNTON, Sept. 20th, 1878.

     MY DEAR SISTER:--I wrote you briefly of the dispatch announcing
     the death of my brother James, in a Nevada mine, and that his
     embalmed body was being brought home by two miners. Since then
     events have crowded upon me so swiftly that I have not had
     composure enough to think of writing.

     The remains of my brother reached here on the 29th ultimo. Mr.
     Hartwell, Mr. Hill and Mr. Burroughs went out as far as Walpole
     on the railroad to meet the train on which the body was being

     The miners were taken home by Mr. Hartwell. On examination my
     poor brother's face was found to look quite natural, and it
     wore an expression so restful that I could not help but feel as
     though it was an indictation that after his hard physical toil
     and fierce mental troubles, he was at peace at last.

     Mabel, you know, has been with me since she graduated in June.
     On receiving the dispatch we telegraphed to Mildred at Mt.
     Holyoke to come home at once, so both girls were with me when
     the remains arrived.

     From the two miners who came with the body Mr. Hartwell
     received the Nevada papers giving an account of the accident in
     which James was killed; also a letter from the superintendent
     of the mine, stating that after all expenses were paid my poor
     brother left eight hundred and forty dollars to his children.
     This we all thought was most wonderful, considering the amount
     regularly sent the children. It shows that poor James lived a
     most economical life in the West and that the wages paid there
     are generous.

     The letter of the superintendent stated that the two miners who
     were to accompany the remains home had risked their lives in
     trying to rescue James, and the published account showed that
     one of them had fainted in the dreadful chamber of the mine
     while the exhaustion of the other was so extreme that he was
     entirely prostrated and seized with chills and vomiting upon
     being brought out into the open air.

     Of course myself and the girls were anxious to meet and thank
     these men, but I confess that at the same time we all dreaded
     the interview awfully. Good land! You know what we have been
     reading about Western miners for the last twenty-five years,
     and we could not help but feel that if they should prove to be
     quiet men it would only at best be a case of wild beast with a
     collar and chain on. And what to do with them at the funeral
     was something which had been troubling us ever since the
     receipt of the dispatch. It was to be in church and on Sunday
     and it was certain that there would be a church full of people.
     How to be polite, and at the same time how to get those men in
     and out of a church without their doing something dreadful was
     a question which I confess had worried me and I could see that
     it was worrying Mabel, too. Mildred did not seem to think much
     about it.

     Mr. Hartwell called upon us and told us he was going to bring
     them over at once and we sat down in fear and trembling to wait
     their arrival.

     You can never imagine our surprise when Mr. Hartwell showed
     them into our parlor and we saw them for the first time. Both
     were young men, one not more than thirty, and the other not
     more than twenty-four years of age; both were dressed with
     perfect taste, in dark business suits of fashionable clothes,
     and though slightly confused--I guess startled is a better
     word--both, with considerate gentleness, and with a grave
     courtesy, in low voices, addressed me first and then the

     They expected to find school children, they met young ladies--I
     may say beautiful young ladies if I am their aunt--and I think
     the surprise for a moment threw them off their guard.

     But they certainly were not more astonished than were we. Mabel
     well nigh broke down, but Mildred, with her more matter-of-fact
     nature, bore the ordeal nobly.

     While the girls were talking I stole the opportunity to look
     more closely at the men. My surprise increased every moment.
     Instead of a pair of bronzed bruisers, they stood there with
     faces that were as free from tan as the face of a
     closely-housed woman. They were each of about medium height,
     but with broad shoulders, tremendous chests and powerful arms.
     The younger one had a firm foot and large hand and the frankest
     open face you ever looked into. The other had smaller hands,
     feet and features, but their heads were both superb, and the
     first words they spoke revealed that both were fairly educated.
     The younger one was light with auburn hair. He wore a heavy
     mustache; the rest of his face was clean shaven. The other was
     darker with gray eyes, brown hair, with full beard, but neatly
     trimmed, and the hair of both was of fashionable cut. I tell
     you, sister, as they stood there they would have borne
     inspection even in Boston.

     After the first greetings were over and we had all gained a
     little composure, the men explained to us that James was
     possessed of more property than he himself was aware of, and
     one of them handed to Mabel a paper which he called "a bill of
     exchange" on a Boston bank for forty two thousand six hundred
     dollars. Since then they have explained that the money was made
     by a friend of my brother, and that it was accomplished by
     buying stocks when they were low and selling them when they
     were high, which seems to me to be a most profitable business.
     You see it makes the girls rich when they thought they were so
     poor, and were counting only on lives of hard work.

     The visit of the young men was only a very brief one, not five
     minutes in duration it seemed to me, but they were moments of
     great excitement to our little household as you may well
     believe. When they were gone Mabel said: "Are they not
     perfectly splendid?" and I said: "Indeed, they are," but
     Mildred merely said: "They seem to be real gentlemen." That
     Mildred is the strangest girl.

     The funeral was to be the next day, and in anticipation of it
     we had bought cheap mourning hats and plain bombazine mourning
     habits, such as I thought would be becoming to people in our
     circumstances. But when I learned that the girls were no longer
     poor, I thought it would be only proper that they should have
     more expensive dresses. So as soon as the young men had gone, I
     sent a message to Mrs. Buffets, the dressmaker, and Mrs.
     Tibbetts, the milliner, asking them to do me the favor to call
     upon me at once, if possible. They both called within a few
     minutes. Before they came, however, I explained to the girls
     what I had done, at which Mabel was very glad, but Mildred
     seemed perfectly indifferent. She hardly spoke after the young
     men went away for several minutes. I think their coming had
     turned her thoughts back more intently upon her father. Mrs.
     Tibbetts came first and from her Mabel ordered three expensive
     hats. I expostulated against her buying a hat for me but she
     would have it so. When we explained what was wanted to Mrs.
     Buffets, she declared at first that it was impossible without
     working after twelve o'clock on Saturday night which she did
     not like to do as she was a member in good standing in the
     First Baptist church, but she finally agreed that she would
     try, provided we would pay what would be extra for her sewing
     girls. This she estimated would amount on three dresses to at
     least seven dollars and a half. I have no idea that the girls
     got more than half a dollar apiece extra and there were but
     seven of them, and that the rest was clear gain to Mrs.
     Buffets, but that is the advantage which is always taken of
     people when there is a funeral.

     We had a hard time with Mildred. She insisted that two dresses
     and hats were all that were required, one for Mabel and one for
     aunty; that as yet she was a school girl and the cheap raiment
     was good enough for her. I think she would have refused to
     yield had I not told her that unless she did I would not accept
     either hat or habit; then she consented.

     Of course, it may seem like vanity to speak of such a thing in
     so sad a connection, but the dresses were most lovely. The
     girls' were of rich and soft cashmere, mine was of Henrietta
     cloth. I must say that in the new clothes the girls did look
     beautiful at the funeral, and I was as proud of them as I could
     be on so sad an occasion.

     That Saturday evening after we talked the matter over, the
     girls sent an invitation over to Mr. Hartwell's house to the
     miners to attend the funeral with us. The invitation was
     answered by the younger miner, Harding. He accepted the
     invitation for himself and his friend, stating that Ashley (the
     other one) was temporarily absent in the city. The note was
     beautifully written and every word was spelled correctly.

     Next morning, a few minutes before it was time to proceed to
     the church, the young men came in.

     They were scrupulously dressed in black and their attire even
     to their hats and gloves was in perfect taste.

     Mildred betrayed more agitation than on the first meeting. She
     is a strange girl and the loss of her father almost crushed
     her. Mabel, however, received them with a grace which was
     queenly and in her new robes she looked like a queen indeed.

     When it came time to go to the church, I supposed, of course,
     the young men would offer to escort the girls. Besides Mildred,
     Mabel and myself, Aunt Abigail, James' wife's grandmother had
     come down to the funeral. You know she is old now--past 73; she
     never was very pretty and coming down from the country her
     dress and bonnet--good land, she was a sight.

     Mabel could not conceal her mortification, and I must say I
     should have been glad if she had not come.

     As we stood up to go, the younger miner said gently: "Ashley,
     will you not see to Mrs. Wolcott?" and then he went up to Aunt
     Abigail and with as much kindly politeness as I ever saw
     displayed, asked her to lean upon him in the walk to the
     church. The other one gave me his arm, at the same time saying:
     "The young ladies are the nearer relatives, they should walk in
     front." His face was fair, but the arm I took was as hard as

     I said: "No matter, Mildred take the other arm of Mr. Ashley
     and Mabel take that of Mr. Harding!" This was done except that
     somehow in the confusion Mildred took the arm of Harding and
     Mabel sought the disengaged arm of Ashley.

     At the church we were seated in the front pew, of course. You
     never saw such a crowd at a funeral. I noticed as we worked our
     way up the aisle, men there that had not been in a church
     before for years.

     There were, besides, the Brown, the Smith and the Jones
     families who were never before known to attend an ordinary

     I mention this merely to show how much James was respected.

     The services were most impressive. The organ was played as we
     entered the church. When we were seated there was a short
     prayer, then a chant with organ accompaniment was rendered.
     Professor Van Dyke, the music teacher at the seminary, presided
     at the organ and Jane Emerson led the sopranos. She sang her
     best and people do tell me that they have paid money to hear
     women sing in concerts that could not sing as well as Jane
     Emerson. If Jane was only a little better looking and knew how
     to dress in better style and if her father only belonged to a
     better family, there would not be a young woman in Taunton with
     brighter prospects than hers.

     Mr. Ashman's main prayer was a most touching one and it moved
     many in the congregation to tears. He preached from John, the
     fourteenth chapter and eighteenth verse.

         "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you."

     It was generally conceded that the sermon was one of the
     minister's best efforts since be preached in Taunton. Miss Hume
     who was present says she never heard a finer discourse in

     The burden of the sermon was that the promise to send a
     comforter to the disciples was a promise made for all time, to
     those in sorrow, that if they would but ask, the comforter
     would come to them. When the sermon was over and the choir had
     sung again; the minister said, as many persons present would
     like to know the particulars of James' death he would read the
     account from the _Territorial Enterprise_, a paper published in
     Virginia City only a few miles from the Nevada mines. He said
     further that the report was written by a Mr. De Quille, who he
     presumed was a descendant of the distinguished family of France
     of that name, that the account showed that he was a very
     learned man and graphic writer, and such a man could only be
     retained by the receipt of an enormous salary.

     He further explained that where the word shaft was used it
     meant a hole like a well which men sunk in order to get the
     rock out from underground that had silver in it, that drifts
     were places in the mines where the rock that had the silver in
     it lay in ridges like snow drifts; that stations were where men
     kept lunch stands for the miners, that tunnels were holes made
     in the shape of a funnel to get air down in the mine, that a
     winze was a corruption for windlass, and cages were simply
     elevators, like those in use in hotels, but made like cages so
     that men could not fall out, that run up and down in the well.

     You never at a revival saw a congregation so excited as that
     one was during the reading of that account. They tell me that
     men were as pale as death all over the house while the sobbing
     of women could be heard above the reading.

     But our two miners never showed a bit of emotion and never
     seemed conscious that every eye in the church was on them. The
     only things I noticed were that during the singing the older
     one was softly beating time on his hymn book, and both moved a
     little uneasily in their seats when the minister was explaining
     the mining terms.

     After the children had looked for the last time on their
     father's face, the young men who had been standing at the foot
     of the coffin, walked up to the head, one on each side. After a
     long gaze at James' face they turned facing each other and
     stretching out their hands, clasped hands a moment over the
     coffin. I suppose that is a custom among miners in the west.

     Brother's body was buried beside that of his wife.

     The young men remained in Taunton two weeks after the funeral.
     We all went on a little excursion to Buzzards Bay and to Cape
     Cod. I never saw better behaved men, even those that come down
     from Boston, than those two miners. They received a great many
     attentions, too, here in Taunton and every day were obliged to
     decline invitations to dinner.

     There is a story going around, but I do not believe it is true,
     that one morning early they went to a livery stable and asked
     for two wild horses, regular furies, that had thrown their
     riders the previous day, that they mounted them and the horses
     reared and plunged awfully but they rode rapidly out of town;
     that they were gone an hour and a half and when they returned
     the horses were covered with foam and seemed perfectly gentle.

     Just before going away they came over one day to my house and
     telling the girls that they had received so many kindnesses
     from so many people that they wanted to make a little picnic
     festival in Mr. Hartwell's grounds, asked them to help suggest
     names for the invitations. The festival was to be the next
     afternoon. What do you think? That morning carpenters came and
     fixed benches and tables on the grounds, the three o'clock
     train brought the ---- Cornet Band from Boston, and at five
     o'clock in the afternoon the waiters in the ---- Hotel
     appeared, set the tables and waited on the guests. They had
     sent up to Boston for the dinner and I never saw anything like
     it in my life.

     Mr. Hartwell says the expense must have been at least two
     hundred and twenty-five dollars. Those Western men are awfully

     Next morning they went away. The older one to Pennsylvania,
     where he will live hereafter, and the other one to California,
     where he has property. We have been real lonesome ever since
     they went away.

     Mildred left us yesterday to return to school, and will
     graduate next June, she says on the day she is eighteen. Mabel,
     you know, was eighteen and a half when she graduated last June,
     but Mildred always was a little the most forward scholar of her
     age. Since the funeral the girls have purchased some beautiful
     clothing, and it would do your heart good to see them. My
     letter is pretty long but I could tell you as much more if I
     had time.

     Your loving sister,


     P. S.--I want to tell you a secret. I think that Ashley, the
     older miner, and Mabel have a liking for each other, though I
     don't know, except that I saw Ashley kiss Mabel as he was going
     away. All I can say is that if they should make a match, there
     would not be a handsomer couple in Massachusetts. It is only a
     surmise on my part that they are fond of each other. After the
     young men had been gone for several hours I asked Mabel if
     there were any serious relations between her and Ashley, and
     she answered: "Not the least serious auntie, our relations are
     altogether pleasant."

     M. W.

The next letter from Mrs. Wolcott to Mrs. Roberts read like this:

     TAUNTON, Sept. 13th, 1879.

     MY DEAR SISTER:--It is now almost a year since I wrote you the
     letter telling you of brother James' funeral and that I half
     suspected a fondness had sprung up between one of the men who
     came with the remains of James and Mabel. Well, I was correct
     in my suspicion for last Thursday they were married and left by
     the evening train for their future home in Pennsylvania. He has
     an iron mine in the mountains and reduction works at Pittsburg
     and is making money very fast. Their home is in Pittsburg.

     I thought at first that I was mistaken because no letters came
     to Mabel, but it seems Mabel made a confident of her cousin
     George who is a conductor on a train which runs between here
     and Providence, he hired a box in the postoffice there, Mabel's
     letters were sent to that postoffice and George brought them to
     her. This was done to thwart the curiosity of the wife of the
     postmaster here. The postmaster himself is a good meaning man,
     but his wife is a real gossip and had frequent letters come
     from one place to Mabel the whole town would have known it in
     no time. When it was known that the girls had received a large
     amount of money the Browns, the Smiths and the Proctors, who
     had never called before, all came and begged Mabel, now that
     she had graduated, (look at the hypocrisy) to come out more in
     the world. Young Henry Proctor called several times and in less
     than a fortnight asked Mabel if he might not sit up with her on
     Saturday nights. He is a very proud young man and it is said he
     will have twelve thousand dollars when he goes out for himself
     next year, but Mabel declined any particular attentions from
     him. She did the same thing with half a dozen more young men of
     the best families. I was perplexed. Of course I was in no hurry
     for Mabel to marry, but good opportunities for girls are none
     too plenty, so many young men go West, and when I saw her throw
     away chance after chance, and some of them so eligible, I was
     afraid she would be sorry sometime, for careless as girls are,
     they all expect sometime to be married. It went on so until six
     weeks ago when suddenly one evening Mabel said: "Auntie come go
     with me to Boston to-morrow." "What are you going to Boston
     for?" I asked. "There is a young man coming here to carry me
     away in a few weeks, Aunty, and I need a few things," said she.
     "And who is the young man, Mabel?" I asked. "Herbert Ashley,"
     was the answer, and then she fell on her knees and burying her
     face in my lap sobbed for joy. I cried a little, too, it was so
     sudden. "But when were you engaged?" I asked after she grew a
     little composed. "We have had a perfect understanding since the
     week after father's funeral," said she, and then added: "My
     heart followed him out of the house on that first day when I
     had only looked once in his eyes. Is he not grand, Auntie?"
     "But why have you never told me?" I asked. Then she put her
     arms around me and said: "Because, dear Aunty, you know you
     could not have kept my secret." I was hurt at this, because
     every body knows how close mouthed I am. But I went to Boston
     and, what do you think? that girl spent over seven hundred
     dollars just for clothes. I remonstrated, but she cut me short,
     saying, "I am going with my king, and I must not disgrace his
     court." Did you ever hear such talk? When I was married I had
     just two merino dresses, one brown and one blue, four muslin
     dresses and some plain underclothing. But I had a beautiful
     feather bed that I had made myself, four comforters, two
     quilted bed spreads in small patterns, and a full set of dishes
     that cost six dollars and a half in Portland. Things are
     greatly changed since I was a girl. Well, Mr. Ashley came; he
     is a splendid man. Mabel slipped away with her cousin and went
     down to Providence to meet him. He brought Mabel jewelry that
     the best judges here think cost as much as a thousand dollars.
     It is shameful, the extravagance of those Western men. Why, he
     gave the minister that married them fifty dollars, which you
     know yourself was a clear waste of forty-five dollars. Five
     dollars is certainly enough for five minutes work of a
     minister, especially if he and his wife are also given a fine
     supper. Mr. Ashley also gave Mildred some beautiful jewelry. It
     must have cost two hundred and fifty dollars, and he was most
     generous to me, too. On his wedding day he got five dispatches
     from the West; one from Illinois, two from Virginia City,
     Nevada, and two from California, congratulating him, and they
     must have cost the senders as much as fifty dollars. Thank
     goodness, they all came marked "paid." The wedding was in the
     church in the evening. It had been whispered around and the
     church was full. Land sakes, but they were a lovely couple.
     Mabel's dress was white satin with princesse train of brocaded
     satin. The front of the skirt was trimmed with lace flounces,
     headed with garlands of lilies of the valley and orange
     blossoms. She wore also a long tulle veil, with orange blossoms
     in the hair. Her dress cost one hundred and fifty-three dollars
     and thirty-seven cents. I did not think the train was necessary
     and there was no need of a veil, leastwise not so long a one,
     but it was Mabel's wish to have them, so I did not object. Mrs.
     White said she never saw a handsomer bride in Boston nor a more
     manly looking groom. I confess I was proud of them both. We had
     a quiet little party at my house and a supper, and at ten
     o'clock they went away by special train to Providence. Think of
     the foolishness of hiring a special train, when the regular
     train would have come by next morning. Mr. Ashley wanted to
     have what he called a "boss wedding;" wanted to ask half the
     town and, as he said, "shake up Taunton for once," but Mabel
     coaxed him out of the idea. He wanted me to sell or rent my
     place and with Mildred go and make his home mine, but I don't
     think that is the best way. Young married folks want to be let
     alone mostly, while they are getting acquainted with each
     other. Mildred has been home since she graduated in June. I
     think she has discouraged more men since she came home than
     ever Mabel did. She has improved greatly in her personal
     appearance and is a girl of most decided character. When she
     first came home we used to tease her about her beaux, but we do
     not any more. When the young men were here last year, after we
     got pretty well acquainted, one day when they had called
     Mildred took a sheet of paper and pen and going to Mr. Harding,
     said: "Mr. Harding, please write an inscription to put upon
     Father's monument." He took the pen and wrote: "The truest,
     best of men." Well, one day about a month ago Mildred had gone
     down town for something when Mabel wanting scissors, or thimble
     or something which she had mislaid, went to Mildred's work
     basket to get hers. There under some soft wools that Mildred
     had been working upon Mabel saw the end of a ribbon and picking
     it up drew out a locket which was attached to it. She could not
     control her curiosity but brought it to me. I gave Mabel
     liberty to open it though my sense of perfect justice was a
     good deal shocked. To tell the truth I was dying to see what
     was in it. Mabel opened it and inside there was nothing but
     that bit of paper with the words in Harding's hand-writing:
     "The truest, best of men." There were some stains on the paper
     but whether they were made by kisses or tears we could not make
     out though I put on my gold-rimmed spectacles, which are
     powerful magnifiers, and looked my best. Mabel put the locket
     back, but to this day there has not been a word said to give me
     any idea whether there is anything like an engagement or not.
     Mildred is so quiet and self-contained that if her heart was
     breaking I do not believe she would say a word. I should be
     glad to think they were engaged, for privately, I liked Mr.
     Harding a little the best, but if they had been it seems to me
     he would have been here to the wedding. I don't know when I
     have been so worked up about anything. If I was fifteen years
     younger, and I thought the majority of men in the West were
     like the two that I have seen, I would sell my place and go
     West, too.

     Your affectionate sister,


     P. S.--When Mr. Ashley was here he took the girls out to James'
     grave. We had put up a plain stone but Mr. Ashley did not like
     it. When he came in he ordered the finest monument in the
     marble works. Those that have seen it say it is real Italian
     marble, and that it is handsomer than the one that the banker
     Sherman erected over his wife and that cost over five hundred
     and fifty dollars.

     M. W.

This letter explains itself:

     LOS ANGELES, Cal., March 20, 1880.

     MY DARLING SISTER:--We reached our home here last night. While
     I write the perfume of almonds and orange blossoms, of climbing
     vines, and roses shedding their incense in lavish fragrance
     steals in through the open window. A mocking bird is mimicking
     an oriole's warblings, and I fancy I feel at this moment as do
     ransomed souls when amid the mansions of the redeemed they open
     their eyes and know that for them joy is to be eternal. You
     have always called me "Old Matter-of-Fact." Well, then, just
     imagine me sitting here half blinded by the tears of happiness
     that I can not restrain.

     But let me tell you of my journey. You remember that though the
     sky was bright overhead--as bright as it can be in
     Pittsburg--on the morning that we were married, when we took
     the train in the evening it was snowing hard. Before morning
     the train was delayed by the snow. We worried along, however,
     and the next evening arrived at Peoria, Illinois. Here an old
     friend of my husband (is not that word husband lovely?) your
     husband and father's, with his wife met us at the depot and we
     had to go home with them and stay two days. The man's name is
     Carlin and he is "a splendid fellow," as they say out this way.
     He was one of the Club to which our husbands belonged. He has a
     mill, store and farm a few miles from Peoria and seems to be
     the first man in that region. He has, too, a charming wife whom
     he calls "Susie Dick," and a six months' old baby which he
     calls "Brewster Miller Carlin." They are as hearty people in
     their friendship as I ever met. They asked all about your
     husband, and yourself, and I had to get out your photograph to
     convince them that you were far more beautiful than myself.
     When we arrived Mr. Carlin sent out and got in some twenty
     couples, and to use his own expression, "we made a night of
     it," and "painted the town red," that is until midnight. They
     made me sing and play, and one old gentleman present made me
     proud, by telling me "you beat ord'nary primer donners." After
     the company retired Mr. Carlin asked me how I liked the old
     gentleman's pronunciation, and then husband said the old
     gentleman knew as much about music as our minister in Taunton
     did about mining. Then he told Mr. Carlin what Mr. Ashman said
     about tunnels, drifts, stations, etc., and the man laughed
     until the tears ran down his cheeks. Well, at length, with
     blessings, presents, and packed lunch baskets, we got away. All
     through Illinois and Iowa the world was hid by the snow, we
     passed Omaha, crossed Nebraska, climbed the Rocky Mountains and
     came down on this side, and swept across the desert of Nevada
     to Reno. Here we stopped and next day went to Virginia City. I
     wanted to visit the place where our father died. In Virginia
     City--which is a city on a desert mountain side--you cannot
     conceive of such a place--the wind was blowing a hurricane;
     blowing as at the old home, it comes in sometimes from the
     ocean in a southeaster. Husband took me to the fatal Bullion
     shaft. The men were just then changing shift as they call it;
     the men who had worked eight hours were coming out of the mine,
     those who were to work the next eight hours were going down.
     The shaft is half a mile deep and the cage loaded with nine men
     shoots up out of the dreadful gloom or drops back into it as
     though it were nothing. Many of the miners greeted husband
     warmly, and were hearty in their welcomes to me, though they
     were not encumbered by any great amount of clothing. I turned
     away from the shaft almost in a panic, I could not bear to took
     at it. But Virginia City is a wonderful place, I would tell you
     more of it, if you had not some one near you who can tell it
     much better than I can. We met a great many pleasant people
     there, especially a lawyer named Col. Savage, a journalist, a
     Mr. Strong and a Professor Stoneman. They met us like brothers
     and spoke of your Herbert as another brother. We left that same
     evening and returning to Reno started up the Sierras. I confess
     that a feeling of something like desolation took possession of
     me. The region was so dreary, it seemed to me that only my
     husband was between me and chaos. After leaving Reno a couple
     of hours, we entered the snow sheds and I went to sleep with a
     thought that I was under a mountain of snow. I wakened next
     morning in Sacramento and when I looked out the birds were
     singing and flowers were blooming around me. Before noon we
     reached San Francisco and drove to the Palace. There we were
     met by a gentleman named Miller, the one that made for father
     our money. He is very rich. He told husband that he had been
     "coppering" the market ever since he came to the city and had
     "taken every trick." Later I asked husband what "coppering"
     meant and he smiled and said: "betting that it will not win." I
     do not quite understand it yet, but I know it is right for
     husband says so. This Mr. Miller told husband that he was going
     to make me a present and that he must not say a word at which
     Sammy said "go ahead." Then he handed me a little package but
     said I must not open it until I reached home. What do you
     think? It is a diamond cluster which the cost of must have been
     fifteen hundred dollars. In San Francisco I found the most
     delicious flowers I ever saw. Tell aunty, too, that there are
     no such hotels, as one or two in San Francisco, "not even in
     Boston." There are splendid churches and theatres. The Bay is
     beautiful, the park is going to be grand, the ladies dress most
     richly. We sailed over to Saucelito and San Rafael, looked out
     through the Golden Gate--in short, ran around for a week. Then
     we came directly home, reaching this place last night.

     A charming supper was in waiting, and, all smiles, the Chinaman
     who prepared it was in attendance. His name is Yap Sing, and he
     has been with husband ever since his first return from the
     East. He was the cook for the Club which you have heard our
     husbands talk about, and of course knew father. He fairly ran
     over with joy at our coming, and such a cook as he is. I would
     like to hear what Aunt Martha would say to one of his dinners.
     But husband pays him forty dollars a month. Is not that a
     dreadful price for a cook?

     We have received good news since coming home. Husband's mine in
     Arizona is yielding him for his one-half interest twelve
     hundred and fifty dollars per month.

     My house is a beautiful cottage, with broad halls and verandas,
     and is furnished elegantly all through.

     My heart runs over with gratitude. My soul is on its knees in
     thankfulness all the time. I believe I am the happiest woman in
     the world. "The truest and best of men" sits across the room
     writing letter after letter, clearing up a delayed
     correspondence. He is handsomer than on that day when I first
     looked in his eyes, and knew in an instant that he was my fate,
     that I should worship him forever, whether he knew it or not;
     that if he did not ask me to be his wife, I should never be a
     wife, but by myself should walk through life bearing my burdens
     as humbly and bravely as I could, and keeping my heart warm by
     the flame in the vestal lamp which his smile had kindled within

     Now heaven has opened to me, and so jubilant is my heart that I
     can feel it throbbing as I write, and with a thankfulness
     unspeakable I worship at my hero's feet.

     With warmest love to you, dear sister, and to your husband and
     Auntie, in which my other self joins heartily, I am

     Your loving sister,


     P. S.--Sister: This morning as we sat here I asked my lord why
     he and your husband clasped hands over our father's coffin.
     Waiting a moment, he answered that on the journey East with
     father's body, your husband and himself made a covenant
     together that henceforth, whatever might happen, they would
     watch over us as a sacred trust received from our father, and
     that the hand-clasp was but an involuntary pledge of the
     sincerity of that compact.

     Can we ever be good enough wives to these men who do not half
     realize how grand they are?

     Love and kisses,


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