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Title: Roughing It
Author: Twain, Mark
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              ROUGHING IT

                             by Mark Twain


                           CALVIN H. HIGBIE,
                             Of California,
        an Honest Man, a Genial Comrade, and a Steadfast Friend.
                         THIS BOOK IS INSCRIBED
                             By the Author,
                     In Memory of the Curious Time
                              When We Two

                              ROUGHING IT

                              MARK TWAIN.
                          (SAMUEL L. CLEMENS.)


This book is merely a personal narrative, and not a pretentious history
or a philosophical dissertation. It is a record of several years of
variegated vagabondizing, and its object is rather to help the resting
reader while away an idle hour than afflict him with metaphysics, or goad
him with science. Still, there is information in the volume; information
concerning an interesting episode in the history of the Far West, about
which no books have been written by persons who were on the ground in
person, and saw the happenings of the time with their own eyes. I allude
to the rise, growth and culmination of the silver-mining fever in Nevada
-a curious episode, in some respects; the only one, of its peculiar kind,
that has occurred in the land; and the only one, indeed, that is likely
to occur in it.

Yes, take it all around, there is quite a good deal of information in the
book. I regret this very much; but really it could not be helped:
information appears to stew out of me naturally, like the precious ottar
of roses out of the otter. Sometimes it has seemed to me that I would
give worlds if I could retain my facts; but it cannot be. The more I calk
up the sources, and the tighter I get, the more I leak wisdom. Therefore,
I can only claim indulgence at the hands of the reader, not



My Brother appointed Secretary of Nevada--I Envy His Prospective
Adventures--Am Appointed Private Secretary Under Him--My Contentment
Complete--Packed in One Hour--Dreams and Visions--On the Missouri River
--A Bully Boat

Arrive at St. Joseph--Only Twenty-five Pounds Baggage Allowed--Farewell
to Kid Gloves and Dress Coats--Armed to the Teeth--The “Allen”--A
Cheerful Weapon--Persuaded to Buy a Mule--Schedule of Luxuries--We Leave
the “States”--“Our Coach”--Mails for the Indians--Between a Wink and an
Earthquake--A Modern Sphynx and How She Entertained Us--A Sociable Heifer

“The Thoroughbrace is Broke”--Mails Delivered Properly--Sleeping Under
Difficulties--A Jackass Rabbit Meditating, and on Business--A Modern
Gulliver--Sage-brush--Overcoats as an Article of Diet--Sad Fate of a
Camel--Warning to Experimenters

Making Our Bed--Assaults by the Unabridged--At a Station--Our Driver a
Great and Shining Dignitary--Strange Place for a Frontyard
--Accommodations--Double Portraits--An Heirloom--Our Worthy Landlord
--“Fixings and Things”--An Exile--Slumgullion--A Well Furnished Table--The
Landlord Astonished--Table Etiquette--Wild Mexican Mules--Stage-coaching
and Railroading

New Acquaintances--The Cayote--A Dog's Experiences--A Disgusted Dog--The
Relatives of the Cayote--Meals Taken Away from Home

The Division Superintendent--The Conductor--The Driver--One Hundred and
Fifty Miles' Drive Without Sleep--Teaching a Subordinate--Our Old Friend
Jack and a Pilgrim--Ben Holliday Compared to Moses

Overland City--Crossing the Platte--Bemis's Buffalo Hunt--Assault by a
Buffalo--Bemis's Horse Goes Crazy--An Impromptu Circus--A New Departure
--Bemis Finds Refuge in a Tree--Escapes Finally by a Wonderful Method

The Pony Express--Fifty Miles Without Stopping--“Here he Comes”--Alkali
Water--Riding an Avalanche--Indian Massacre

Among the Indians--An Unfair Advantage--Laying on our Arms--A Midnight
Murder--Wrath of Outlaws--A Dangerous, yet Valuable Citizen

History of Slade--A Proposed Fist-fight--Encounter with Jules--Paradise
of Outlaws--Slade as Superintendent--As Executioner--A Doomed Whisky
Seller--A Prisoner--A Wife's Bravery--An Ancient Enemy Captured--Enjoying
a Luxury--Hob-nobbing with Slade--Too Polite--A Happy Escape

Slade in Montana--“On a Spree”--In Court--Attack on a Judge--Arrest by
the Vigilantes--Turn out of the Miners--Execution of Slade--Lamentations
of His Wife--Was Slade a Coward?

A Mormon Emigrant Train--The Heart of the Rocky Mountains--Pure
Saleratus--A Natural Ice-House--An Entire Inhabitant--In Sight of
“Eternal Snow”--The South Pass--The Parting Streams--An Unreliable Letter
Carrier--Meeting of Old Friends--A Spoiled Watermelon--Down the
Mountain--A Scene of Desolation--Lost in the Dark--Unnecessary Advice
--U.S. Troops and Indians--Sublime Spectacle--Another Delusion Dispelled
--Among the Angels

Mormons and Gentiles--Exhilarating Drink, and its Effect on Bemis--Salt
Lake City--A Great Contrast--A Mormon Vagrant--Talk with a Saint--A Visit
to the “King”--A Happy Simile

Mormon Contractors--How Mr. Street Astonished Them--The Case Before
Brigham Young, and How he Disposed of it--Polygamy Viewed from a New

A Gentile Den--Polygamy Discussed--Favorite Wife and D. 4--Hennery for
Retired Wives--Children Need Marking--Cost of a Gift to No. 6
--A Penny-whistle Gift and its Effects--Fathering the Foundlings
--It Resembled Him--The Family Bedstead

The Mormon Bible--Proofs of its Divinity--Plagiarism of its Authors
--Story of Nephi--Wonderful Battle--Kilkenny Cats Outdone

Three Sides to all Questions--Everything “A Quarter”--Shriveled Up
--Emigrants and White Shirts at a Discount--“Forty-Niners”--Above Par--Real

Alkali Desert--Romance of Crossing Dispelled--Alkali Dust--Effect on the
Mules--Universal Thanksgiving

The Digger Indians Compared with the Bushmen of Africa--Food, Life and
Characteristics--Cowardly Attack on a Stage Coach--A Brave Driver--The
Noble Red Man

The Great American Desert--Forty Miles on Bones--Lakes Without Outlets
--Greely's Remarkable Ride--Hank Monk, the Renowned Driver--Fatal Effects
of “Corking” a Story--Bald-Headed Anecdote

Alkali Dust--Desolation and Contemplation--Carson City--Our Journey
Ended--We are Introduced to Several Citizens--A Strange Rebuke--A Washoe
Zephyr at Play--Its Office Hours--Governor's Palace--Government Offices
--Our French Landlady Bridget O'Flannigan--Shadow Secrets--Cause for a
Disturbance at Once--The Irish Brigade--Mrs. O'Flannigan's Boarders--The
Surveying Expedition--Escape of the Tarantulas

The Son of a Nabob--Start for Lake Tahoe--Splendor of the Views--Trip on
the Lake--Camping Out--Reinvigorating Climate--Clearing a Tract of Land
--Securing a Title--Outhouse and Fences

A Happy Life--Lake Tahoe and its Moods--Transparency of the Waters--A
Catastrophe--Fire! Fire!--A Magnificent Spectacle--Homeless Again--We
take to the Lake--A Storm--Return to Carson

Resolve to Buy a Horse--Horsemanship in Carson--A Temptation--Advice
Given Me Freely--I Buy the Mexican Plug--My First Ride--A Good Bucker--I
Loan the Plug--Experience of Borrowers--Attempts to Sell--Expense of the
Experiment--A Stranger Taken In

The Mormons in Nevada--How to Persuade a Loan from Them--Early History of
the Territory--Silver Mines Discovered--The New Territorial Government--A
Foreign One and a Poor One--Its Funny Struggles for Existence--No Credit,
no Cash--Old Abe Currey Sustains it and its Officers--Instructions and
Vouchers--An Indian's Endorsement--Toll-Gates

The Silver Fever--State of the Market--Silver Bricks--Tales Told--Off for
the Humboldt Mines

Our manner of going--Incidents of the Trip--A Warm but Too Familiar a
Bedfellow--Mr. Ballou Objects--Sunshine amid Clouds--Safely Arrived

Arrive at the Mountains--Building Our Cabin--My First Prospecting Tour
--My First Gold Mine--Pockets Filled With Treasures--Filtering the News to
My Companions--The Bubble Pricked--All Not Gold That Glitters

Out Prospecting--A Silver Mine At Last--Making a Fortune With Sledge and
Drill--A Hard Road to Travel--We Own in Claims--A Rocky Country

Disinterested Friends--How “Feet” Were Sold--We Quit Tunnelling--A Trip
to Esmeralda--My Companions--An Indian Prophesy--A Flood--Our Quarters
During It

The Guests at “Honey Lake Smith's”--“Bully Old Arkansas”--“Our Landlord”
 --Determined to Fight--The Landlord's Wife--The Bully Conquered by Her
--Another Start--Crossing the Carson--A Narrow Escape--Following Our Own
Track--A New Guide--Lost in the Snow

Desperate Situation--Attempts to Make a Fire--Our Horses leave us--We
Find Matches--One, Two, Three and the Last--No Fire--Death Seems
Inevitable--We Mourn Over Our Evil Lives--Discarded Vices--We Forgive
Each Other--An Affectionate Farewell--The Sleep of Oblivion

Return of Consciousness--Ridiculous Developments--A Station House--Bitter
Feelings--Fruits of Repentance--Resurrected Vices

About Carson--General Buncombe--Hyde vs. Morgan--How Hyde Lost His Ranch
--The Great Landslide Case--The Trial--General Buncombe in Court--A
Wonderful Decision--A Serious Afterthought

A New Travelling Companion--All Full and No Accommodations--How Captain
Nye found Room--and Caused Our Leaving to be Lamented--The Uses of
Tunnelling--A Notable Example--We Go into the “Claim” Business and Fail
--At the Bottom

A Quartz Mill--Amalgamation--“Screening Tailings”--First Quartz Mill in
Nevada--Fire Assay--A Smart Assayer--I stake for an advance

The Whiteman Cement Mine--Story of its Discovery--A Secret Expedition--A
Nocturnal Adventure--A Distressing Position--A Failure and a Week's

Mono Lake--Shampooing Made Easy--Thoughtless Act of Our Dog and the
Results--Lye Water--Curiosities of the Lake--Free Hotel--Some Funny
Incidents a Little Overdrawn

Visit to the Islands in Lake Mono--Ashes and Desolation--Life Amid Death
Our Boat Adrift--A Jump For Life--A Storm On the Lake--A Mass of Soap
Suds--Geological Curiosities--A Week On the Sierras--A Narrow Escape From
a Funny Explosion--“Stove Heap Gone”

The “Wide West” Mine--It is “Interviewed” by Higbie--A Blind Lead--Worth
a Million--We are Rich At Last--Plans for the Future

A Rheumatic Patient--Day Dreams--An Unfortunate Stumble--I Leave
Suddenly--Another Patient--Higbie in the Cabin--Our Balloon Bursted
--Worth Nothing--Regrets and Explanations--Our Third Partner

What to do Next?--Obstacles I Had Met With--“Jack of All Trades”--Mining
Again--Target Shooting--I Turn City Editor--I Succeed Finely

My Friend Boggs--The School Report--Boggs Pays Me An Old Debt--Virginia

Flush Times--Plenty of Stock--Editorial Puffing--Stocks Given Me--Salting
Mines--A Tragedian In a New Role

Flush Times Continue--Sanitary Commission Fund--Wild Enthusiasm of the
People--Would not wait to Contribute--The Sanitary Flour Sack--It is
Carried to Gold Hill and Dayton--Final Reception in Virginia--Results of
the Sale--A Grand Total

The Nabobs of Those Days--John Smith as a Traveler--Sudden Wealth--A
Sixty-Thousand-Dollar Horse--A Smart Telegraph Operator--A Nabob in New
York City--Charters an Omnibus--“Walk in, It's All Free”--“You Can't Pay
a Cent”--“Hold On, Driver, I Weaken”--Sociability of New Yorkers

Buck Fanshaw's Death--The Cause Thereof--Preparations for His Burial
--Scotty Briggs the Committee Man--He Visits the Minister--Scotty Can't
Play His Hand--The Minister Gets Mixed--Both Begin to See--“All Down
Again But Nine”--Buck Fanshaw as a Citizen--How To “Shook Your Mother”
 --The Funeral--Scotty Briggs as a Sunday School Teacher

The First Twenty-Six Graves in Nevada--The Prominent Men of the County
--The Man Who Had Killed His Dozen--Trial by Jury--Specimen Jurors--A
Private Grave Yard--The Desperadoes--Who They Killed--Waking up the Weary
Passenger--Satisfaction Without Fighting

Fatal Shooting Affray--Robbery and Desperate Affray--A Specimen City
Official--A Marked Man--A Street Fight--Punishment of Crime

Captain Ned Blakely--Bill Nookes Receives Desired Information--Killing of
Blakely's Mate--A Walking Battery--Blakely Secures Nookes--Hang First and
Be Tried Afterwards--Captain Blakely as a Chaplain--The First Chapter of
Genesis Read at a Hanging--Nookes Hung--Blakely's Regrets

The Weekly Occidental--A Ready Editor--A Novel--A Concentration of
Talent--The Heroes and the Heroines--The Dissolute Author Engaged
--Extraordinary Havoc With the Novel--A Highly Romantic Chapter--The Lovers
Separated--Jonah Out-done--A Lost Poem--The Aged Pilot Man--Storm On the
Erie Canal--Dollinger the Pilot Man--Terrific Gale--Danger Increases--A
Crisis Arrived--Saved as if by a Miracle

Freights to California--Silver Bricks--Under Ground Mines--Timber
Supports--A Visit to the Mines--The Caved Mines--Total of Shipments in

Jim Blaine and his Grandfather's Ram--Filkin's Mistake--Old Miss Wagner
and her Glass Eye--Jacobs, the Coffin Dealer--Waiting for a Customer--His
Bargain With Old Robbins--Robbins Sues for Damage and Collects--A New Use
for Missionaries--The Effect--His Uncle Lem and the Use Providence Made
of Him--Sad Fate of Wheeler--Devotion of His Wife--A Model Monument--What
About the Ram?

Chinese in Virginia City--Washing Bills--Habit of Imitation--Chinese
Immigration--A Visit to Chinatown--Messrs. Ah Sing, Hong Wo, See Yup, &c.

Tired of Virginia City--An Old Schoolmate--A Two Years' Loan--Acting as
an Editor--Almost Receive an Offer--An Accident--Three Drunken Anecdotes
--Last Look at Mt. Davidson--A Beautiful Incident

Off for San Francisco--Western and Eastern Landscapes--The Hottest place
on Earth--Summer and Winter

California--Novelty of Seeing a Woman--“Well if it ain't a Child!”--One
Hundred and Fifty Dollars for a Kiss--Waiting for a turn

Life in San Francisco--Worthless Stocks--My First Earthquake--Reportorial
Instincts--Effects of the Shocks--Incidents and Curiosities--Sabbath
Breakers--The Lodger and the Chambermaid--A Sensible Fashion to Follow
--Effects of the Earthquake on the Ministers

Poor Again--Slinking as a Business--A Model Collector--Misery loves
Company--Comparing Notes for Comfort--A Streak of Luck--Finding a Dime
--Wealthy by Comparison--Two Sumptuous Dinners

An Old Friend--An Educated Miner--Pocket Mining--Freaks of Fortune

Dick Baker and his Cat--Tom Quartz's Peculiarities--On an Excursion
--Appearance On His Return--A Prejudiced Cat--Empty Pockets and a Roving

Bound for the Sandwich Islands--The Three Captains--The Old Admiral--His
Daily Habits--His Well Fought Fields--An Unexpected Opponent--The Admiral
Overpowered--The Victor Declared a Hero

Arrival at the Islands--Honolulu--What I Saw There--Dress and Habits of
the Inhabitants--The Animal Kingdom--Fruits and Delightful Effects

An Excursion--Captain Phillips and his Turn-Out--A Horseback Ride--A
Vicious Animal--Nature and Art--Interesting Ruins--All Praise to the

Interesting Mementoes and Relics--An Old Legend of a Frightful Leap--An
Appreciative Horse--Horse Jockeys and Their Brothers--A New Trick--A Hay
Merchant--Good Country for Horse Lovers

A Saturday Afternoon--Sandwich Island Girls on a Frolic--The Poi
Merchant--Grand Gala Day--A Native Dance--Church Membership--Cats and
Officials--An Overwhelming Discovery

The Legislature of the Island--What Its President Has Seen--Praying for
an Enemy--Women's Rights--Romantic Fashions--Worship of the Shark--Desire
for Dress--Full Dress--Not Paris Style--Playing Empire--Officials and
Foreign Ambassadors--Overwhelming Magnificence

A Royal Funeral--Order of Procession--Pomp and Ceremony--A Striking
Contrast--A Sick Monarch--Human Sacrifices at His Death--Burial Orgies

“Once more upon the Waters.”--A Noisy Passenger--Several Silent Ones--A
Moonlight Scene--Fruits and Plantations

A Droll Character--Mrs. Beazely and Her Son--Meditations on Turnips--A
Letter from Horace Greeley--An Indignant Rejoinder--The Letter Translated
but too Late

Kealakekua Bay--Death of Captain Cook--His Monument--Its Construction--On
Board the Schooner

Young Kanakas in New England--A Temple Built by Ghosts--Female Bathers--I
Stood Guard--Women and Whiskey--A Fight for Religion--Arrival of

Native Canoes--Surf Bathing--A Sanctuary--How Built--The Queen's Rock
--Curiosities--Petrified Lava

Visit to the Volcano--The Crater--Pillar of Fire--Magnificent Spectacle
--A Lake of Fire

The North Lake--Fountains of Fire--Streams of Burning Lava--Tidal Waves

A Reminiscence--Another Horse Story--My Ride with the Retired Milk Horse
--A Picnicing Excursion--Dead Volcano of Holeakala--Comparison with
Vesuvius--An Inside View

A Curious Character--A Series of Stories--Sad Fate of a Liar--Evidence of

Return to San Francisco--Ship Amusements--Preparing for Lecturing
--Valuable Assistance Secured--My First Attempt--The Audience Carried
--“All's Well that Ends Well.”

Highwaymen--A Predicament--A Huge Joke--Farewell to California--At Home
Again--Great Changes.  Moral.

A.--Brief Sketch of Mormon History
B.--The Mountain Meadows Massacre
C.--Concerning a Frightful Assassination that was never Consummated


My brother had just been appointed Secretary of Nevada Territory--an
office of such majesty that it concentrated in itself the duties and
dignities of Treasurer, Comptroller, Secretary of State, and Acting
Governor in the Governor's absence.  A salary of eighteen hundred dollars
a year and the title of “Mr. Secretary,” gave to the great position an
air of wild and imposing grandeur.  I was young and ignorant, and I
envied my brother.  I coveted his distinction and his financial splendor,
but particularly and especially the long, strange journey he was going to
make, and the curious new world he was going to explore.  He was going to
travel!  I never had been away from home, and that word “travel” had a
seductive charm for me.  Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of
miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of
the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, and
antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or
scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all
about it, and be a hero.  And he would see the gold mines and the silver
mines, and maybe go about of an afternoon when his work was done, and
pick up two or three pailfuls of shining slugs, and nuggets of gold and
silver on the hillside.  And by and by he would become very rich, and
return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and
the ocean, and “the isthmus” as if it was nothing of any consequence to
have seen those marvels face to face.  What I suffered in contemplating
his happiness, pen cannot describe.  And so, when he offered me, in cold
blood, the sublime position of private secretary under him, it appeared
to me that the heavens and the earth passed away, and the firmament was
rolled together as a scroll!  I had nothing more to desire.  My
contentment was complete.

At the end of an hour or two I was ready for the journey.  Not much
packing up was necessary, because we were going in the overland stage
from the Missouri frontier to Nevada, and passengers were only allowed a
small quantity of baggage apiece.  There was no Pacific railroad in those
fine times of ten or twelve years ago--not a single rail of it.
I only proposed to stay in Nevada three months--I had no thought of
staying longer than that.  I meant to see all I could that was new and
strange, and then hurry home to business.  I little thought that I would
not see the end of that three-month pleasure excursion for six or seven
uncommonly long years!

I dreamed all night about Indians, deserts, and silver bars, and in due
time, next day, we took shipping at the St. Louis wharf on board a
steamboat bound up the Missouri River.

We were six days going from St. Louis to “St. Jo.”--a trip that was so
dull, and sleepy, and eventless that it has left no more impression on my
memory than if its duration had been six minutes instead of that many
days.  No record is left in my mind, now, concerning it, but a confused
jumble of savage-looking snags, which we deliberately walked over with
one wheel or the other; and of reefs which we butted and butted, and then
retired from and climbed over in some softer place; and of sand-bars
which we roosted on occasionally, and rested, and then got out our
crutches and sparred over.

In fact, the boat might almost as well have gone to St. Jo. by land, for
she was walking most of the time, anyhow--climbing over reefs and
clambering over snags patiently and laboriously all day long.  The
captain said she was a “bully” boat, and all she wanted was more “shear”
 and a bigger wheel.  I thought she wanted a pair of stilts, but I had the
deep sagacity not to say so.


The first thing we did on that glad evening that landed us at St. Joseph
was to hunt up the stage-office, and pay a hundred and fifty dollars
apiece for tickets per overland coach to Carson City, Nevada.

The next morning, bright and early, we took a hasty breakfast, and
hurried to the starting-place.  Then an inconvenience presented itself
which we had not properly appreciated before, namely, that one cannot
make a heavy traveling trunk stand for twenty-five pounds of baggage
--because it weighs a good deal more.  But that was all we could take
--twenty-five pounds each.  So we had to snatch our trunks open, and make a
selection in a good deal of a hurry.  We put our lawful twenty-five
pounds apiece all in one valise, and shipped the trunks back to St. Louis
again.  It was a sad parting, for now we had no swallow-tail coats and
white kid gloves to wear at Pawnee receptions in the Rocky Mountains, and
no stove-pipe hats nor patent-leather boots, nor anything else necessary
to make life calm and peaceful.  We were reduced to a war-footing.  Each
of us put on a rough, heavy suit of clothing, woolen army shirt and
“stogy” boots included; and into the valise we crowded a few white
shirts, some under-clothing and such things.  My brother, the Secretary,
took along about four pounds of United States statutes and six pounds of
Unabridged Dictionary; for we did not know--poor innocents--that such
things could be bought in San Francisco on one day and received in Carson
City the next.  I was armed to the teeth with a pitiful little Smith &
Wesson's seven-shooter, which carried a ball like a homoeopathic pill,
and it took the whole seven to make a dose for an adult.  But I thought
it was grand.  It appeared to me to be a dangerous weapon.  It only had
one fault--you could not hit anything with it.  One of our “conductors”
 practiced awhile on a cow with it, and as long as she stood still and
behaved herself she was safe; but as soon as she went to moving about,
and he got to shooting at other things, she came to grief.  The Secretary
had a small-sized Colt's revolver strapped around him for protection
against the Indians, and to guard against accidents he carried it
uncapped.  Mr. George Bemis was dismally formidable.  George Bemis was
our fellow-traveler.

We had never seen him before.  He wore in his belt an old original
“Allen” revolver, such as irreverent people called a “pepper-box.” Simply
drawing the trigger back, cocked and fired the pistol.  As the trigger
came back, the hammer would begin to rise and the barrel to turn over,
and presently down would drop the hammer, and away would speed the ball.
To aim along the turning barrel and hit the thing aimed at was a feat
which was probably never done with an “Allen” in the world.  But George's
was a reliable weapon, nevertheless, because, as one of the stage-drivers
afterward said, “If she didn't get what she went after, she would fetch
something else.” And so she did.  She went after a deuce of spades nailed
against a tree, once, and fetched a mule standing about thirty yards to
the left of it.  Bemis did not want the mule; but the owner came out with
a double-barreled shotgun and persuaded him to buy it, anyhow.  It was a
cheerful weapon--the “Allen.” Sometimes all its six barrels would go off
at once, and then there was no safe place in all the region round about,
but behind it.

We took two or three blankets for protection against frosty weather in
the mountains.  In the matter of luxuries we were modest--we took none
along but some pipes and five pounds of smoking tobacco.  We had two
large canteens to carry water in, between stations on the Plains, and we
also took with us a little shot-bag of silver coin for daily expenses in
the way of breakfasts and dinners.

By eight o'clock everything was ready, and we were on the other side of
the river.  We jumped into the stage, the driver cracked his whip, and we
bowled away and left “the States” behind us.  It was a superb summer
morning, and all the landscape was brilliant with sunshine.  There was a
freshness and breeziness, too, and an exhilarating sense of emancipation
from all sorts of cares and responsibilities, that almost made us feel
that the years we had spent in the close, hot city, toiling and slaving,
had been wasted and thrown away.  We were spinning along through Kansas,
and in the course of an hour and a half we were fairly abroad on the
great Plains.  Just here the land was rolling--a grand sweep of regular
elevations and depressions as far as the eye could reach--like the
stately heave and swell of the ocean's bosom after a storm.  And
everywhere were cornfields, accenting with squares of deeper green, this
limitless expanse of grassy land.  But presently this sea upon dry ground
was to lose its “rolling” character and stretch away for seven hundred
miles as level as a floor!

Our coach was a great swinging and swaying stage, of the most sumptuous
description--an imposing cradle on wheels.  It was drawn by six handsome
horses, and by the side of the driver sat the “conductor,” the legitimate
captain of the craft; for it was his business to take charge and care of
the mails, baggage, express matter, and passengers.  We three were the
only passengers, this trip.  We sat on the back seat, inside.  About all
the rest of the coach was full of mail bags--for we had three days'
delayed mails with us.  Almost touching our knees, a perpendicular wall
of mail matter rose up to the roof.  There was a great pile of it
strapped on top of the stage, and both the fore and hind boots were full.
We had twenty-seven hundred pounds of it aboard, the driver said--“a
little for Brigham, and Carson, and 'Frisco, but the heft of it for the
Injuns, which is powerful troublesome 'thout they get plenty of truck to
read.” But as he just then got up a fearful convulsion of his countenance
which was suggestive of a wink being swallowed by an earthquake, we
guessed that his remark was intended to be facetious, and to mean that we
would unload the most of our mail matter somewhere on the Plains and
leave it to the Indians, or whosoever wanted it.

We changed horses every ten miles, all day long, and fairly flew over the
hard, level road.  We jumped out and stretched our legs every time the
coach stopped, and so the night found us still vivacious and unfatigued.

After supper a woman got in, who lived about fifty miles further on, and
we three had to take turns at sitting outside with the driver and
conductor.  Apparently she was not a talkative woman.  She would sit
there in the gathering twilight and fasten her steadfast eyes on a
mosquito rooting into her arm, and slowly she would raise her other hand
till she had got his range, and then she would launch a slap at him that
would have jolted a cow; and after that she would sit and contemplate the
corpse with tranquil satisfaction--for she never missed her mosquito; she
was a dead shot at short range.  She never removed a carcase, but left
them there for bait.  I sat by this grim Sphynx and watched her kill
thirty or forty mosquitoes--watched her, and waited for her to say
something, but she never did.  So I finally opened the conversation
myself.  I said:

“The mosquitoes are pretty bad, about here, madam.”

“You bet!”

“What did I understand you to say, madam?”

“You BET!”

Then she cheered up, and faced around and said:

“Danged if I didn't begin to think you fellers was deef and dumb.  I did,
b'gosh.  Here I've sot, and sot, and sot, a-bust'n muskeeters and
wonderin' what was ailin' ye.  Fust I thot you was deef and dumb, then I
thot you was sick or crazy, or suthin', and then by and by I begin to
reckon you was a passel of sickly fools that couldn't think of nothing to
say.  Wher'd ye come from?”

The Sphynx was a Sphynx no more!  The fountains of her great deep were
broken up, and she rained the nine parts of speech forty days and forty
nights, metaphorically speaking, and buried us under a desolating deluge
of trivial gossip that left not a crag or pinnacle of rejoinder
projecting above the tossing waste of dislocated grammar and decomposed

How we suffered, suffered, suffered!  She went on, hour after hour, till
I was sorry I ever opened the mosquito question and gave her a start.
She never did stop again until she got to her journey's end toward
daylight; and then she stirred us up as she was leaving the stage (for we
were nodding, by that time), and said:

“Now you git out at Cottonwood, you fellers, and lay over a couple o'
days, and I'll be along some time to-night, and if I can do ye any good
by edgin' in a word now and then, I'm right thar.  Folks'll tell you't
I've always ben kind o' offish and partic'lar for a gal that's raised in
the woods, and I am, with the rag-tag and bob-tail, and a gal has to be,
if she wants to be anything, but when people comes along which is my
equals, I reckon I'm a pretty sociable heifer after all.”

We resolved not to “lay by at Cottonwood.”


About an hour and a half before daylight we were bowling along smoothly
over the road--so smoothly that our cradle only rocked in a gentle,
lulling way, that was gradually soothing us to sleep, and dulling our
consciousness--when something gave away under us!  We were dimly aware of
it, but indifferent to it.  The coach stopped.  We heard the driver and
conductor talking together outside, and rummaging for a lantern, and
swearing because they could not find it--but we had no interest in
whatever had happened, and it only added to our comfort to think of those
people out there at work in the murky night, and we snug in our nest with
the curtains drawn.  But presently, by the sounds, there seemed to be an
examination going on, and then the driver's voice said:

“By George, the thoroughbrace is broke!”

This startled me broad awake--as an undefined sense of calamity is always
apt to do.  I said to myself: “Now, a thoroughbrace is probably part of a
horse; and doubtless a vital part, too, from the dismay in the driver's
voice.  Leg, maybe--and yet how could he break his leg waltzing along
such a road as this?  No, it can't be his leg.  That is impossible,
unless he was reaching for the driver.  Now, what can be the
thoroughbrace of a horse, I wonder?  Well, whatever comes, I shall not
air my ignorance in this crowd, anyway.”

Just then the conductor's face appeared at a lifted curtain, and his
lantern glared in on us and our wall of mail matter.  He said:
“Gents, you'll have to turn out a spell.  Thoroughbrace is broke.”

We climbed out into a chill drizzle, and felt ever so homeless and
dreary.  When I found that the thing they called a “thoroughbrace” was
the massive combination of belts and springs which the coach rocks itself
in, I said to the driver:

“I never saw a thoroughbrace used up like that, before, that I can
remember.  How did it happen?”

“Why, it happened by trying to make one coach carry three days' mail
--that's how it happened,” said he.  “And right here is the very direction
which is wrote on all the newspaper-bags which was to be put out for the
Injuns for to keep 'em quiet.  It's most uncommon lucky, becuz it's so
nation dark I should 'a' gone by unbeknowns if that air thoroughbrace
hadn't broke.”

I knew that he was in labor with another of those winks of his, though I
could not see his face, because he was bent down at work; and wishing him
a safe delivery, I turned to and helped the rest get out the mail-sacks.
It made a great pyramid by the roadside when it was all out.  When they
had mended the thoroughbrace we filled the two boots again, but put no
mail on top, and only half as much inside as there was before.  The
conductor bent all the seat-backs down, and then filled the coach just
half full of mail-bags from end to end.  We objected loudly to this, for
it left us no seats.  But the conductor was wiser than we, and said a bed
was better than seats, and moreover, this plan would protect his
thoroughbraces.  We never wanted any seats after that.  The lazy bed was
infinitely preferable.  I had many an exciting day, subsequently, lying
on it reading the statutes and the dictionary, and wondering how the
characters would turn out.

The conductor said he would send back a guard from the next station to
take charge of the abandoned mail-bags, and we drove on.

It was now just dawn; and as we stretched our cramped legs full length on
the mail sacks, and gazed out through the windows across the wide wastes
of greensward clad in cool, powdery mist, to where there was an expectant
look in the eastern horizon, our perfect enjoyment took the form of a
tranquil and contented ecstasy.  The stage whirled along at a spanking
gait, the breeze flapping curtains and suspended coats in a most
exhilarating way; the cradle swayed and swung luxuriously, the pattering
of the horses' hoofs, the cracking of the driver's whip, and his “Hi-yi!
g'lang!” were music; the spinning ground and the waltzing trees appeared
to give us a mute hurrah as we went by, and then slack up and look after
us with interest, or envy, or something; and as we lay and smoked the
pipe of peace and compared all this luxury with the years of tiresome
city life that had gone before it, we felt that there was only one
complete and satisfying happiness in the world, and we had found it.

After breakfast, at some station whose name I have forgotten, we three
climbed up on the seat behind the driver, and let the conductor have our
bed for a nap.  And by and by, when the sun made me drowsy, I lay down on
my face on top of the coach, grasping the slender iron railing, and slept
for an hour or more.  That will give one an appreciable idea of those
matchless roads.  Instinct will make a sleeping man grip a fast hold of
the railing when the stage jolts, but when it only swings and sways, no
grip is necessary.  Overland drivers and conductors used to sit in their
places and sleep thirty or forty minutes at a time, on good roads, while
spinning along at the rate of eight or ten miles an hour.  I saw them do
it, often.  There was no danger about it; a sleeping man will seize the
irons in time when the coach jolts.  These men were hard worked, and it
was not possible for them to stay awake all the time.

By and by we passed through Marysville, and over the Big Blue and Little
Sandy; thence about a mile, and entered Nebraska.  About a mile further
on, we came to the Big Sandy--one hundred and eighty miles from St.

As the sun was going down, we saw the first specimen of an animal known
familiarly over two thousand miles of mountain and desert--from Kansas
clear to the Pacific Ocean--as the “jackass rabbit.” He is well named.
He is just like any other rabbit, except that he is from one third to
twice as large, has longer legs in proportion to his size, and has the
most preposterous ears that ever were mounted on any creature but a

When he is sitting quiet, thinking about his sins, or is absent-minded or
unapprehensive of danger, his majestic ears project above him
conspicuously; but the breaking of a twig will scare him nearly to death,
and then he tilts his ears back gently and starts for home.  All you can
see, then, for the next minute, is his long gray form stretched out
straight and “streaking it” through the low sage-brush, head erect, eyes
right, and ears just canted a little to the rear, but showing you where
the animal is, all the time, the same as if he carried a jib.  Now and
then he makes a marvelous spring with his long legs, high over the
stunted sage-brush, and scores a leap that would make a horse envious.
Presently he comes down to a long, graceful “lope,” and shortly he
mysteriously disappears.  He has crouched behind a sage-bush, and will
sit there and listen and tremble until you get within six feet of him,
when he will get under way again.  But one must shoot at this creature
once, if he wishes to see him throw his heart into his heels, and do the
best he knows how.  He is frightened clear through, now, and he lays his
long ears down on his back, straightens himself out like a yard-stick
every spring he makes, and scatters miles behind him with an easy
indifference that is enchanting.

Our party made this specimen “hump himself,” as the conductor said.  The
secretary started him with a shot from the Colt; I commenced spitting at
him with my weapon; and all in the same instant the old “Allen's” whole
broadside let go with a rattling crash, and it is not putting it too
strong to say that the rabbit was frantic!  He dropped his ears, set up
his tail, and left for San Francisco at a speed which can only be
described as a flash and a vanish!  Long after he was out of sight we
could hear him whiz.

I do not remember where we first came across “sage-brush,” but as I have
been speaking of it I may as well describe it.

This is easily done, for if the reader can imagine a gnarled and
venerable live oak-tree reduced to a little shrub two feet-high, with its
rough bark, its foliage, its twisted boughs, all complete, he can picture
the “sage-brush” exactly.  Often, on lazy afternoons in the mountains, I
have lain on the ground with my face under a sage-bush, and entertained
myself with fancying that the gnats among its foliage were liliputian
birds, and that the ants marching and countermarching about its base were
liliputian flocks and herds, and myself some vast loafer from Brobdignag
waiting to catch a little citizen and eat him.

It is an imposing monarch of the forest in exquisite miniature, is the
“sage-brush.”  Its foliage is a grayish green, and gives that tint to
desert and mountain.  It smells like our domestic sage, and “sage-tea”
 made from it taste like the sage-tea which all boys are so well
acquainted with.  The sage-brush is a singularly hardy plant, and grows
right in the midst of deep sand, and among barren rocks, where nothing
else in the vegetable world would try to grow, except “bunch-grass.”
 --[“Bunch-grass” grows on the bleak mountain-sides of Nevada and
neighboring territories, and offers excellent feed for stock, even in the
dead of winter, wherever the snow is blown aside and exposes it;
notwithstanding its unpromising home, bunch-grass is a better and more
nutritious diet for cattle and horses than almost any other hay or grass
that is known--so stock-men say.]--The sage-bushes grow from three to
six or seven feet apart, all over the mountains and deserts of the Far
West, clear to the borders of California.  There is not a tree of any
kind in the deserts, for hundreds of miles--there is no vegetation at all
in a regular desert, except the sage-brush and its cousin the
“greasewood,” which is so much like the sage-brush that the difference
amounts to little.  Camp-fires and hot suppers in the deserts would be
impossible but for the friendly sage-brush.  Its trunk is as large as a
boy's wrist (and from that up to a man's arm), and its crooked branches
are half as large as its trunk--all good, sound, hard wood, very like

When a party camps, the first thing to be done is to cut sage-brush; and
in a few minutes there is an opulent pile of it ready for use.  A hole a
foot wide, two feet deep, and two feet long, is dug, and sage-brush
chopped up and burned in it till it is full to the brim with glowing
coals.  Then the cooking begins, and there is no smoke, and consequently
no swearing.  Such a fire will keep all night, with very little
replenishing; and it makes a very sociable camp-fire, and one around
which the most impossible reminiscences sound plausible, instructive, and
profoundly entertaining.

Sage-brush is very fair fuel, but as a vegetable it is a distinguished
failure.  Nothing can abide the taste of it but the jackass and his
illegitimate child the mule.  But their testimony to its nutritiousness
is worth nothing, for they will eat pine knots, or anthracite coal, or
brass filings, or lead pipe, or old bottles, or anything that comes
handy, and then go off looking as grateful as if they had had oysters for
dinner.  Mules and donkeys and camels have appetites that anything will
relieve temporarily, but nothing satisfy.

In Syria, once, at the head-waters of the Jordan, a camel took charge of
my overcoat while the tents were being pitched, and examined it with a
critical eye, all over, with as much interest as if he had an idea of
getting one made like it; and then, after he was done figuring on it as
an article of apparel, he began to contemplate it as an article of diet.
He put his foot on it, and lifted one of the sleeves out with his teeth,
and chewed and chewed at it, gradually taking it in, and all the while
opening and closing his eyes in a kind of religious ecstasy, as if he had
never tasted anything as good as an overcoat before, in his life.  Then
he smacked his lips once or twice, and reached after the other sleeve.
Next he tried the velvet collar, and smiled a smile of such contentment
that it was plain to see that he regarded that as the daintiest thing
about an overcoat.  The tails went next, along with some percussion caps
and cough candy, and some fig-paste from Constantinople.  And then my
newspaper correspondence dropped out, and he took a chance in that
--manuscript letters written for the home papers.  But he was treading on
dangerous ground, now.  He began to come across solid wisdom in those
documents that was rather weighty on his stomach; and occasionally he
would take a joke that would shake him up till it loosened his teeth; it
was getting to be perilous times with him, but he held his grip with good
courage and hopefully, till at last he began to stumble on statements
that not even a camel could swallow with impunity.  He began to gag and
gasp, and his eyes to stand out, and his forelegs to spread, and in about
a quarter of a minute he fell over as stiff as a carpenter's work-bench,
and died a death of indescribable agony.  I went and pulled the
manuscript out of his mouth, and found that the sensitive creature had
choked to death on one of the mildest and gentlest statements of fact
that I ever laid before a trusting public.

I was about to say, when diverted from my subject, that occasionally one
finds sage-bushes five or six feet high, and with a spread of branch and
foliage in proportion, but two or two and a half feet is the usual


As the sun went down and the evening chill came on, we made preparation
for bed.  We stirred up the hard leather letter-sacks, and the knotty
canvas bags of printed matter (knotty and uneven because of projecting
ends and corners of magazines, boxes and books).  We stirred them up and
redisposed them in such a way as to make our bed as level as possible.
And we did improve it, too, though after all our work it had an upheaved
and billowy look about it, like a little piece of a stormy sea.  Next we
hunted up our boots from odd nooks among the mail-bags where they had
settled, and put them on.  Then we got down our coats, vests, pantaloons
and heavy woolen shirts, from the arm-loops where they had been swinging
all day, and clothed ourselves in them--for, there being no ladies either
at the stations or in the coach, and the weather being hot, we had looked
to our comfort by stripping to our underclothing, at nine o'clock in the
morning.  All things being now ready, we stowed the uneasy Dictionary
where it would lie as quiet as possible, and placed the water-canteens
and pistols where we could find them in the dark.  Then we smoked a final
pipe, and swapped a final yarn; after which, we put the pipes, tobacco
and bag of coin in snug holes and caves among the mail-bags, and then
fastened down the coach curtains all around, and made the place as “dark
as the inside of a cow,” as the conductor phrased it in his picturesque
way.  It was certainly as dark as any place could be--nothing was even
dimly visible in it.  And finally, we rolled ourselves up like
silk-worms, each person in his own blanket, and sank peacefully to sleep.

Whenever the stage stopped to change horses, we would wake up, and try to
recollect where we were--and succeed--and in a minute or two the stage
would be off again, and we likewise.  We began to get into country, now,
threaded here and there with little streams.  These had high, steep banks
on each side, and every time we flew down one bank and scrambled up the
other, our party inside got mixed somewhat.  First we would all be down
in a pile at the forward end of the stage, nearly in a sitting posture,
and in a second we would shoot to the other end, and stand on our heads.
And we would sprawl and kick, too, and ward off ends and corners of
mail-bags that came lumbering over us and about us; and as the dust rose
from the tumult, we would all sneeze in chorus, and the majority of us
would grumble, and probably say some hasty thing, like: “Take your elbow
out of my ribs!--can't you quit crowding?”

Every time we avalanched from one end of the stage to the other, the
Unabridged Dictionary would come too; and every time it came it damaged
somebody.  One trip it “barked” the Secretary's elbow; the next trip it
hurt me in the stomach, and the third it tilted Bemis's nose up till he
could look down his nostrils--he said.  The pistols and coin soon settled
to the bottom, but the pipes, pipe-stems, tobacco and canteens clattered
and floundered after the Dictionary every time it made an assault on us,
and aided and abetted the book by spilling tobacco in our eyes, and water
down our backs.

Still, all things considered, it was a very comfortable night.  It wore
gradually away, and when at last a cold gray light was visible through
the puckers and chinks in the curtains, we yawned and stretched with
satisfaction, shed our cocoons, and felt that we had slept as much as was
necessary.  By and by, as the sun rose up and warmed the world, we pulled
off our clothes and got ready for breakfast.  We were just pleasantly in
time, for five minutes afterward the driver sent the weird music of his
bugle winding over the grassy solitudes, and presently we detected a low
hut or two in the distance.  Then the rattling of the coach, the clatter
of our six horses' hoofs, and the driver's crisp commands, awoke to a
louder and stronger emphasis, and we went sweeping down on the station at
our smartest speed.  It was fascinating--that old overland stagecoaching.

We jumped out in undress uniform.  The driver tossed his gathered reins
out on the ground, gaped and stretched complacently, drew off his heavy
buckskin gloves with great deliberation and insufferable dignity--taking
not the slightest notice of a dozen solicitous inquires after his health,
and humbly facetious and flattering accostings, and obsequious tenders of
service, from five or six hairy and half-civilized station-keepers and
hostlers who were nimbly unhitching our steeds and bringing the fresh
team out of the stables--for in the eyes of the stage-driver of that day,
station-keepers and hostlers were a sort of good enough low creatures,
useful in their place, and helping to make up a world, but not the kind
of beings which a person of distinction could afford to concern himself
with; while, on the contrary, in the eyes of the station-keeper and the
hostler, the stage-driver was a hero--a great and shining dignitary, the
world's favorite son, the envy of the people, the observed of the
nations.  When they spoke to him they received his insolent silence
meekly, and as being the natural and proper conduct of so great a man;
when he opened his lips they all hung on his words with admiration (he
never honored a particular individual with a remark, but addressed it
with a broad generality to the horses, the stables, the surrounding
country and the human underlings); when he discharged a facetious
insulting personality at a hostler, that hostler was happy for the day;
when he uttered his one jest--old as the hills, coarse, profane, witless,
and inflicted on the same audience, in the same language, every time his
coach drove up there--the varlets roared, and slapped their thighs, and
swore it was the best thing they'd ever heard in all their lives.  And
how they would fly around when he wanted a basin of water, a gourd of the
same, or a light for his pipe!--but they would instantly insult a
passenger if he so far forgot himself as to crave a favor at their hands.
They could do that sort of insolence as well as the driver they copied it
from--for, let it be borne in mind, the overland driver had but little
less contempt for his passengers than he had for his hostlers.

The hostlers and station-keepers treated the really powerful conductor of
the coach merely with the best of what was their idea of civility, but
the driver was the only being they bowed down to and worshipped.  How
admiringly they would gaze up at him in his high seat as he gloved
himself with lingering deliberation, while some happy hostler held the
bunch of reins aloft, and waited patiently for him to take it!  And how
they would bombard him with glorifying ejaculations as he cracked his
long whip and went careering away.

The station buildings were long, low huts, made of sundried, mud-colored
bricks, laid up without mortar (adobes, the Spaniards call these bricks,
and Americans shorten it to 'dobies).  The roofs, which had no slant to
them worth speaking of, were thatched and then sodded or covered with a
thick layer of earth, and from this sprung a pretty rank growth of weeds
and grass.  It was the first time we had ever seen a man's front yard on
top of his house.  The building consisted of barns, stable-room for
twelve or fifteen horses, and a hut for an eating-room for passengers.
This latter had bunks in it for the station-keeper and a hostler or two.
You could rest your elbow on its eaves, and you had to bend in order to
get in at the door.  In place of a window there was a square hole about
large enough for a man to crawl through, but this had no glass in it.
There was no flooring, but the ground was packed hard.  There was no
stove, but the fire-place served all needful purposes.  There were no
shelves, no cupboards, no closets.  In a corner stood an open sack of
flour, and nestling against its base were a couple of black and venerable
tin coffee-pots, a tin teapot, a little bag of salt, and a side of bacon.

By the door of the station-keeper's den, outside, was a tin wash-basin,
on the ground.  Near it was a pail of water and a piece of yellow bar
soap, and from the eaves hung a hoary blue woolen shirt, significantly
--but this latter was the station-keeper's private towel, and only two
persons in all the party might venture to use it--the stage-driver and
the conductor.  The latter would not, from a sense of decency; the former
would not, because did not choose to encourage the advances of a
station-keeper.  We had towels--in the valise; they might as well have
been in Sodom and Gomorrah.  We (and the conductor) used our
handkerchiefs, and the driver his pantaloons and sleeves.  By the door,
inside, was fastened a small old-fashioned looking-glass frame, with two
little fragments of the original mirror lodged down in one corner of it.
This arrangement afforded a pleasant double-barreled portrait of you when
you looked into it, with one half of your head set up a couple of inches
above the other half.  From the glass frame hung the half of a comb by a
string--but if I had to describe that patriarch or die, I believe I would
order some sample coffins.

It had come down from Esau and Samson, and had been accumulating hair
ever since--along with certain impurities.  In one corner of the room
stood three or four rifles and muskets, together with horns and pouches
of ammunition.  The station-men wore pantaloons of coarse, country-woven
stuff, and into the seat and the inside of the legs were sewed ample
additions of buckskin, to do duty in place of leggings, when the man rode
horseback--so the pants were half dull blue and half yellow, and
unspeakably picturesque.  The pants were stuffed into the tops of high
boots, the heels whereof were armed with great Spanish spurs, whose
little iron clogs and chains jingled with every step.  The man wore a
huge beard and mustachios, an old slouch hat, a blue woolen shirt, no
suspenders, no vest, no coat--in a leathern sheath in his belt, a great
long “navy” revolver (slung on right side, hammer to the front), and
projecting from his boot a horn-handled bowie-knife.  The furniture of
the hut was neither gorgeous nor much in the way.  The rocking-chairs and
sofas were not present, and never had been, but they were represented by
two three-legged stools, a pine-board bench four feet long, and two empty
candle-boxes.  The table was a greasy board on stilts, and the
table-cloth and napkins had not come--and they were not looking for them,
either.  A battered tin platter, a knife and fork, and a tin pint cup,
were at each man's place, and the driver had a queens-ware saucer that
had seen better days.  Of course this duke sat at the head of the table.
There was one isolated piece of table furniture that bore about it a
touching air of grandeur in misfortune.  This was the caster.  It was
German silver, and crippled and rusty, but it was so preposterously out
of place there that it was suggestive of a tattered exiled king among
barbarians, and the majesty of its native position compelled respect even
in its degradation.

There was only one cruet left, and that was a stopperless, fly-specked,
broken-necked thing, with two inches of vinegar in it, and a dozen
preserved flies with their heels up and looking sorry they had invested

The station-keeper upended a disk of last week's bread, of the shape and
size of an old-time cheese, and carved some slabs from it which were as
good as Nicholson pavement, and tenderer.

He sliced off a piece of bacon for each man, but only the experienced old
hands made out to eat it, for it was condemned army bacon which the
United States would not feed to its soldiers in the forts, and the stage
company had bought it cheap for the sustenance of their passengers and
employees.  We may have found this condemned army bacon further out on
the plains than the section I am locating it in, but we found it--there
is no gainsaying that.

Then he poured for us a beverage which he called “Slum gullion,” and it
is hard to think he was not inspired when he named it.  It really
pretended to be tea, but there was too much dish-rag, and sand, and old
bacon-rind in it to deceive the intelligent traveler.

He had no sugar and no milk--not even a spoon to stir the ingredients

We could not eat the bread or the meat, nor drink the “slumgullion.” And
when I looked at that melancholy vinegar-cruet, I thought of the anecdote
(a very, very old one, even at that day) of the traveler who sat down to
a table which had nothing on it but a mackerel and a pot of mustard.  He
asked the landlord if this was all.  The landlord said:

“All!  Why, thunder and lightning, I should think there was mackerel
enough there for six.”

“But I don't like mackerel.”

“Oh--then help yourself to the mustard.”

In other days I had considered it a good, a very good, anecdote, but
there was a dismal plausibility about it, here, that took all the humor
out of it.

Our breakfast was before us, but our teeth were idle.

I tasted and smelt, and said I would take coffee, I believed.  The
station-boss stopped dead still, and glared at me speechless.  At last,
when he came to, he turned away and said, as one who communes with
himself upon a matter too vast to grasp:

“Coffee!  Well, if that don't go clean ahead of me, I'm d---d!”

We could not eat, and there was no conversation among the hostlers and
herdsmen--we all sat at the same board.  At least there was no
conversation further than a single hurried request, now and then, from
one employee to another.  It was always in the same form, and always
gruffly friendly.  Its western freshness and novelty startled me, at
first, and interested me; but it presently grew monotonous, and lost its
charm.  It was:

“Pass the bread, you son of a skunk!”  No, I forget--skunk was not the
word; it seems to me it was still stronger than that; I know it was, in
fact, but it is gone from my memory, apparently.  However, it is no
matter--probably it was too strong for print, anyway.  It is the landmark
in my memory which tells me where I first encountered the vigorous new
vernacular of the occidental plains and mountains.

We gave up the breakfast, and paid our dollar apiece and went back to our
mail-bag bed in the coach, and found comfort in our pipes.  Right here we
suffered the first diminution of our princely state.  We left our six
fine horses and took six mules in their place.  But they were wild
Mexican fellows, and a man had to stand at the head of each of them and
hold him fast while the driver gloved and got himself ready.  And when at
last he grasped the reins and gave the word, the men sprung suddenly away
from the mules' heads and the coach shot from the station as if it had
issued from a cannon.  How the frantic animals did scamper!  It was a
fierce and furious gallop--and the gait never altered for a moment till
we reeled off ten or twelve miles and swept up to the next collection of
little station-huts and stables.

So we flew along all day.  At 2 P.M.  the belt of timber that fringes the
North Platte and marks its windings through the vast level floor of the
Plains came in sight.  At 4 P.M.  we crossed a branch of the river, and
at 5 P.M.  we crossed the Platte itself, and landed at Fort Kearney,
fifty-six hours out from St. Joe--THREE HUNDRED MILES!

Now that was stage-coaching on the great overland, ten or twelve years
ago, when perhaps not more than ten men in America, all told, expected to
live to see a railroad follow that route to the Pacific.  But the
railroad is there, now, and it pictures a thousand odd comparisons and
contrasts in my mind to read the following sketch, in the New York Times,
of a recent trip over almost the very ground I have been describing.  I
can scarcely comprehend the new state of things:


     “At 4.20 P.M., Sunday, we rolled out of the station at Omaha, and
     started westward on our long jaunt.  A couple of hours out, dinner
     was announced--an 'event' to those of us who had yet to experience
     what it is to eat in one of Pullman's hotels on wheels; so, stepping
     into the car next forward of our sleeping palace, we found ourselves
     in the dining-car.  It was a revelation to us, that first dinner on
     Sunday.  And though we continued to dine for four days, and had as
     many breakfasts and suppers, our whole party never ceased to admire
     the perfection of the arrangements, and the marvelous results
     achieved.  Upon tables covered with snowy linen, and garnished with
     services of solid silver, Ethiop waiters, flitting about in spotless
     white, placed as by magic a repast at which Delmonico himself could
     have had no occasion to blush; and, indeed, in some respects it
     would be hard for that distinguished chef to match our menu; for, in
     addition to all that ordinarily makes up a first-chop dinner, had we
     not our antelope steak (the gormand who has not experienced this
     --bah! what does he know of the feast of fat things?) our delicious
     mountain-brook trout, and choice fruits and berries, and (sauce
     piquant and unpurchasable!) our sweet-scented, appetite-compelling
     air of the prairies?

     “You may depend upon it, we all did justice to the good things, and
     as we washed them down with bumpers of sparkling Krug, whilst we
     sped along at the rate of thirty miles an hour, agreed it was the
     fastest living we had ever experienced.  (We beat that, however, two
     days afterward when we made twenty-seven miles in twenty-seven
     minutes, while our Champagne glasses filled to the brim spilled not
     a drop!) After dinner we repaired to our drawing-room car, and, as
     it was Sabbath eve, intoned some of the grand old hymns--“Praise God
     from whom,” etc.; “Shining Shore,” “Coronation,” etc.--the voices of
     the men singers and of the women singers blending sweetly in the
     evening air, while our train, with its great, glaring Polyphemus
     eye, lighting up long vistas of prairie, rushed into the night and
     the Wild.  Then to bed in luxurious couches, where we slept the
     sleep of the just and only awoke the next morning (Monday) at eight
     o'clock, to find ourselves at the crossing of the North Platte,
     three hundred miles from Omaha--fifteen hours and forty minutes


Another night of alternate tranquillity and turmoil.  But morning came,
by and by.  It was another glad awakening to fresh breezes, vast expanses
of level greensward, bright sunlight, an impressive solitude utterly
without visible human beings or human habitations, and an atmosphere of
such amazing magnifying properties that trees that seemed close at hand
were more than three mile away.  We resumed undress uniform, climbed
a-top of the flying coach, dangled our legs over the side, shouted
occasionally at our frantic mules, merely to see them lay their ears back
and scamper faster, tied our hats on to keep our hair from blowing away,
and leveled an outlook over the world-wide carpet about us for things new
and strange to gaze at.  Even at this day it thrills me through and
through to think of the life, the gladness and the wild sense of freedom
that used to make the blood dance in my veins on those fine overland

Along about an hour after breakfast we saw the first prairie-dog
villages, the first antelope, and the first wolf.  If I remember rightly,
this latter was the regular cayote (pronounced ky-o-te) of the farther
deserts.  And if it was, he was not a pretty creature or respectable
either, for I got well acquainted with his race afterward, and can speak
with confidence.  The cayote is a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking
skeleton, with a gray wolf-skin stretched over it, a tolerably bushy tail
that forever sags down with a despairing expression of forsakenness and
misery, a furtive and evil eye, and a long, sharp face, with slightly
lifted lip and exposed teeth.  He has a general slinking expression all
over.  The cayote is a living, breathing allegory of Want.  He is always

He is always poor, out of luck and friendless.  The meanest creatures
despise him, and even the fleas would desert him for a velocipede.  He is
so spiritless and cowardly that even while his exposed teeth are
pretending a threat, the rest of his face is apologizing for it.  And he
is so homely!--so scrawny, and ribby, and coarse-haired, and pitiful.
When he sees you he lifts his lip and lets a flash of his teeth out, and
then turns a little out of the course he was pursuing, depresses his head
a bit, and strikes a long, soft-footed trot through the sage-brush,
glancing over his shoulder at you, from time to time, till he is about
out of easy pistol range, and then he stops and takes a deliberate survey
of you; he will trot fifty yards and stop again--another fifty and stop
again; and finally the gray of his gliding body blends with the gray of
the sage-brush, and he disappears.  All this is when you make no
demonstration against him; but if you do, he develops a livelier interest
in his journey, and instantly electrifies his heels and puts such a deal
of real estate between himself and your weapon, that by the time you have
raised the hammer you see that you need a minie rifle, and by the time
you have got him in line you need a rifled cannon, and by the time you
have “drawn a bead” on him you see well enough that nothing but an
unusually long-winded streak of lightning could reach him where he is
now.  But if you start a swift-footed dog after him, you will enjoy it
ever so much--especially if it is a dog that has a good opinion of
himself, and has been brought up to think he knows something about speed.

The cayote will go swinging gently off on that deceitful trot of his, and
every little while he will smile a fraudful smile over his shoulder that
will fill that dog entirely full of encouragement and worldly ambition,
and make him lay his head still lower to the ground, and stretch his neck
further to the front, and pant more fiercely, and stick his tail out
straighter behind, and move his furious legs with a yet wilder frenzy,
and leave a broader and broader, and higher and denser cloud of desert
sand smoking behind, and marking his long wake across the level plain!
And all this time the dog is only a short twenty feet behind the cayote,
and to save the soul of him he cannot understand why it is that he cannot
get perceptibly closer; and he begins to get aggravated, and it makes him
madder and madder to see how gently the cayote glides along and never
pants or sweats or ceases to smile; and he grows still more and more
incensed to see how shamefully he has been taken in by an entire
stranger, and what an ignoble swindle that long, calm, soft-footed trot
is; and next he notices that he is getting fagged, and that the cayote
actually has to slacken speed a little to keep from running away from
him--and then that town-dog is mad in earnest, and he begins to strain
and weep and swear, and paw the sand higher than ever, and reach for the
cayote with concentrated and desperate energy.  This “spurt” finds him
six feet behind the gliding enemy, and two miles from his friends.  And
then, in the instant that a wild new hope is lighting up his face, the
cayote turns and smiles blandly upon him once more, and with a something
about it which seems to say: “Well, I shall have to tear myself away from
you, bub--business is business, and it will not do for me to be fooling
along this way all day”--and forthwith there is a rushing sound, and the
sudden splitting of a long crack through the atmosphere, and behold that
dog is solitary and alone in the midst of a vast solitude!

It makes his head swim.  He stops, and looks all around; climbs the
nearest sand-mound, and gazes into the distance; shakes his head
reflectively, and then, without a word, he turns and jogs along back to
his train, and takes up a humble position under the hindmost wagon, and
feels unspeakably mean, and looks ashamed, and hangs his tail at
half-mast for a week.  And for as much as a year after that, whenever
there is a great hue and cry after a cayote, that dog will merely glance
in that direction without emotion, and apparently observe to himself,
“I believe I do not wish any of the pie.”

The cayote lives chiefly in the most desolate and forbidding desert,
along with the lizard, the jackass-rabbit and the raven, and gets an
uncertain and precarious living, and earns it.  He seems to subsist
almost wholly on the carcases of oxen, mules and horses that have dropped
out of emigrant trains and died, and upon windfalls of carrion, and
occasional legacies of offal bequeathed to him by white men who have been
opulent enough to have something better to butcher than condemned army

He will eat anything in the world that his first cousins, the
desert-frequenting tribes of Indians will, and they will eat anything
they can bite.  It is a curious fact that these latter are the only
creatures known to history who will eat nitro-glycerine and ask for more
if they survive.

The cayote of the deserts beyond the Rocky Mountains has a peculiarly
hard time of it, owing to the fact that his relations, the Indians, are
just as apt to be the first to detect a seductive scent on the desert
breeze, and follow the fragrance to the late ox it emanated from, as he
is himself; and when this occurs he has to content himself with sitting
off at a little distance watching those people strip off and dig out
everything edible, and walk off with it.  Then he and the waiting ravens
explore the skeleton and polish the bones.  It is considered that the
cayote, and the obscene bird, and the Indian of the desert, testify their
blood kinship with each other in that they live together in the waste
places of the earth on terms of perfect confidence and friendship, while
hating all other creature and yearning to assist at their funerals.  He
does not mind going a hundred miles to breakfast, and a hundred and fifty
to dinner, because he is sure to have three or four days between meals,
and he can just as well be traveling and looking at the scenery as lying
around doing nothing and adding to the burdens of his parents.

We soon learned to recognize the sharp, vicious bark of the cayote as it
came across the murky plain at night to disturb our dreams among the
mail-sacks; and remembering his forlorn aspect and his hard fortune, made
shift to wish him the blessed novelty of a long day's good luck and a
limitless larder the morrow.


Our new conductor (just shipped) had been without sleep for twenty hours.
Such a thing was very frequent.  From St. Joseph, Missouri, to
Sacramento, California, by stage-coach, was nearly nineteen hundred
miles, and the trip was often made in fifteen days (the cars do it in
four and a half, now), but the time specified in the mail contracts, and
required by the schedule, was eighteen or nineteen days, if I remember
rightly.  This was to make fair allowance for winter storms and snows,
and other unavoidable causes of detention.  The stage company had
everything under strict discipline and good system.  Over each two
hundred and fifty miles of road they placed an agent or superintendent,
and invested him with great authority.  His beat or jurisdiction of two
hundred and fifty miles was called a “division.” He purchased horses,
mules harness, and food for men and beasts, and distributed these things
among his stage stations, from time to time, according to his judgment of
what each station needed.  He erected station buildings and dug wells.
He attended to the paying of the station-keepers, hostlers, drivers and
blacksmiths, and discharged them whenever he chose.  He was a very, very
great man in his “division”--a kind of Grand Mogul, a Sultan of the
Indies, in whose presence common men were modest of speech and manner,
and in the glare of whose greatness even the dazzling stage-driver
dwindled to a penny dip.  There were about eight of these kings, all
told, on the overland route.

Next in rank and importance to the division-agent came the “conductor.”
 His beat was the same length as the agent's--two hundred and fifty miles.
He sat with the driver, and (when necessary) rode that fearful distance,
night and day, without other rest or sleep than what he could get perched
thus on top of the flying vehicle.  Think of it!  He had absolute charge
of the mails, express matter, passengers and stage, coach, until he
delivered them to the next conductor, and got his receipt for them.

Consequently he had to be a man of intelligence, decision and
considerable executive ability.  He was usually a quiet, pleasant man,
who attended closely to his duties, and was a good deal of a gentleman.
It was not absolutely necessary that the division-agent should be a
gentleman, and occasionally he wasn't.  But he was always a general in
administrative ability, and a bull-dog in courage and determination
--otherwise the chieftainship over the lawless underlings of the overland
service would never in any instance have been to him anything but an
equivalent for a month of insolence and distress and a bullet and a
coffin at the end of it.  There were about sixteen or eighteen conductors
on the overland, for there was a daily stage each way, and a conductor on
every stage.

Next in real and official rank and importance, after the conductor, came
my delight, the driver--next in real but not in apparent importance--for
we have seen that in the eyes of the common herd the driver was to the
conductor as an admiral is to the captain of the flag-ship.  The driver's
beat was pretty long, and his sleeping-time at the stations pretty short,
sometimes; and so, but for the grandeur of his position his would have
been a sorry life, as well as a hard and a wearing one.  We took a new
driver every day or every night (for they drove backward and forward over
the same piece of road all the time), and therefore we never got as well
acquainted with them as we did with the conductors; and besides, they
would have been above being familiar with such rubbish as passengers,
anyhow, as a general thing.  Still, we were always eager to get a sight
of each and every new driver as soon as the watch changed, for each and
every day we were either anxious to get rid of an unpleasant one, or
loath to part with a driver we had learned to like and had come to be
sociable and friendly with.  And so the first question we asked the
conductor whenever we got to where we were to exchange drivers, was
always, “Which is him?”  The grammar was faulty, maybe, but we could not
know, then, that it would go into a book some day.  As long as everything
went smoothly, the overland driver was well enough situated, but if a
fellow driver got sick suddenly it made trouble, for the coach must go
on, and so the potentate who was about to climb down and take a luxurious
rest after his long night's siege in the midst of wind and rain and
darkness, had to stay where he was and do the sick man's work.  Once, in
the Rocky Mountains, when I found a driver sound asleep on the box, and
the mules going at the usual break-neck pace, the conductor said never
mind him, there was no danger, and he was doing double duty--had driven
seventy-five miles on one coach, and was now going back over it on this
without rest or sleep.  A hundred and fifty miles of holding back of six
vindictive mules and keeping them from climbing the trees!  It sounds
incredible, but I remember the statement well enough.

The station-keepers, hostlers, etc., were low, rough characters, as
already described; and from western Nebraska to Nevada a considerable
sprinkling of them might be fairly set down as outlaws--fugitives from
justice, criminals whose best security was a section of country which was
without law and without even the pretence of it.  When the
“division-agent” issued an order to one of these parties he did it with
the full understanding that he might have to enforce it with a navy
six-shooter, and so he always went “fixed” to make things go along

Now and then a division-agent was really obliged to shoot a hostler
through the head to teach him some simple matter that he could have
taught him with a club if his circumstances and surroundings had been
different.  But they were snappy, able men, those division-agents, and
when they tried to teach a subordinate anything, that subordinate
generally “got it through his head.”

A great portion of this vast machinery--these hundreds of men and
coaches, and thousands of mules and horses--was in the hands of Mr. Ben
Holliday.  All the western half of the business was in his hands.  This
reminds me of an incident of Palestine travel which is pertinent here, so
I will transfer it just in the language in which I find it set down in my
Holy Land note-book:

      No doubt everybody has heard of Ben Holliday--a man of prodigious
      energy, who used to send mails and passengers flying across the
      continent in his overland stage-coaches like a very whirlwind--two
      thousand long miles in fifteen days and a half, by the watch!  But
      this fragment of history is not about Ben Holliday, but about a
      young New York boy by the name of Jack, who traveled with our small
      party of pilgrims in the Holy Land (and who had traveled to
      California in Mr. Holliday's overland coaches three years before,
      and had by no means forgotten it or lost his gushing admiration of
      Mr. H.) Aged nineteen.  Jack was a good boy--a good-hearted and
      always well-meaning boy, who had been reared in the city of New
      York, and although he was bright and knew a great many useful
      things, his Scriptural education had been a good deal neglected--to
      such a degree, indeed, that all Holy Land history was fresh and new
      to him, and all Bible names mysteries that had never disturbed his
      virgin ear.

      Also in our party was an elderly pilgrim who was the reverse of
      Jack, in that he was learned in the Scriptures and an enthusiast
      concerning them.  He was our encyclopedia, and we were never tired
      of listening to his speeches, nor he of making them.  He never
      passed a celebrated locality, from Bashan to Bethlehem, without
      illuminating it with an oration.  One day, when camped near the
      ruins of Jericho, he burst forth with something like this:

      “Jack, do you see that range of mountains over yonder that bounds
      the Jordan valley?  The mountains of Moab, Jack!  Think of it, my
      boy--the actual mountains of Moab--renowned in Scripture history!
      We are actually standing face to face with those illustrious crags
      and peaks--and for all we know” [dropping his voice impressively],
      “our eyes may be resting at this very moment upon the spot WHERE
      LIES THE MYSTERIOUS GRAVE OF MOSES!  Think of it, Jack!”

      “Moses who?”  (falling inflection).

      “Moses who!  Jack, you ought to be ashamed of yourself--you ought to
      be ashamed of such criminal ignorance.  Why, Moses, the great guide,
      soldier, poet, lawgiver of ancient Israel!  Jack, from this spot
      where we stand, to Egypt, stretches a fearful desert three hundred
      miles in extent--and across that desert that wonderful man brought
      the children of Israel!--guiding them with unfailing sagacity for
      forty years over the sandy desolation and among the obstructing
      rocks and hills, and landed them at last, safe and sound, within
      sight of this very spot; and where we now stand they entered the
      Promised Land with anthems of rejoicing!  It was a wonderful,
      wonderful thing to do, Jack!  Think of it!”

      “Forty years?  Only three hundred miles?  Humph!  Ben Holliday would
      have fetched them through in thirty-six hours!”

The boy meant no harm.  He did not know that he had said anything that
was wrong or irreverent.  And so no one scolded him or felt offended with
him--and nobody could but some ungenerous spirit incapable of excusing
the heedless blunders of a boy.

At noon on the fifth day out, we arrived at the “Crossing of the South
Platte,” alias “Julesburg,” alias “Overland City,” four hundred and
seventy miles from St. Joseph--the strangest, quaintest, funniest
frontier town that our untraveled eyes had ever stared at and been
astonished with.


It did seem strange enough to see a town again after what appeared to us
such a long acquaintance with deep, still, almost lifeless and houseless
solitude!  We tumbled out into the busy street feeling like meteoric
people crumbled off the corner of some other world, and wakened up
suddenly in this.  For an hour we took as much interest in Overland City
as if we had never seen a town before.  The reason we had an hour to
spare was because we had to change our stage (for a less sumptuous
affair, called a “mud-wagon”) and transfer our freight of mails.

Presently we got under way again.  We came to the shallow, yellow, muddy
South Platte, with its low banks and its scattering flat sand-bars and
pigmy islands--a melancholy stream straggling through the centre of the
enormous flat plain, and only saved from being impossible to find with
the naked eye by its sentinel rank of scattering trees standing on either
bank.  The Platte was “up,” they said--which made me wish I could see it
when it was down, if it could look any sicker and sorrier.  They said it
was a dangerous stream to cross, now, because its quicksands were liable
to swallow up horses, coach and passengers if an attempt was made to ford
it.  But the mails had to go, and we made the attempt.  Once or twice in
midstream the wheels sunk into the yielding sands so threateningly that
we half believed we had dreaded and avoided the sea all our lives to be
shipwrecked in a “mud-wagon” in the middle of a desert at last.  But we
dragged through and sped away toward the setting sun.

Next morning, just before dawn, when about five hundred and fifty miles
from St. Joseph, our mud-wagon broke down.  We were to be delayed five or
six hours, and therefore we took horses, by invitation, and joined a
party who were just starting on a buffalo hunt.  It was noble sport
galloping over the plain in the dewy freshness of the morning, but our
part of the hunt ended in disaster and disgrace, for a wounded buffalo
bull chased the passenger Bemis nearly two miles, and then he forsook his
horse and took to a lone tree.  He was very sullen about the matter for
some twenty-four hours, but at last he began to soften little by little,
and finally he said:

“Well, it was not funny, and there was no sense in those gawks making
themselves so facetious over it.  I tell you I was angry in earnest for
awhile.  I should have shot that long gangly lubber they called Hank, if
I could have done it without crippling six or seven other people--but of
course I couldn't, the old 'Allen's' so confounded comprehensive.  I wish
those loafers had been up in the tree; they wouldn't have wanted to laugh
so.  If I had had a horse worth a cent--but no, the minute he saw that
buffalo bull wheel on him and give a bellow, he raised straight up in the
air and stood on his heels.  The saddle began to slip, and I took him
round the neck and laid close to him, and began to pray.  Then he came
down and stood up on the other end awhile, and the bull actually stopped
pawing sand and bellowing to contemplate the inhuman spectacle.

“Then the bull made a pass at him and uttered a bellow that sounded
perfectly frightful, it was so close to me, and that seemed to literally
prostrate my horse's reason, and make a raving distracted maniac of him,
and I wish I may die if he didn't stand on his head for a quarter of a
minute and shed tears.  He was absolutely out of his mind--he was, as
sure as truth itself, and he really didn't know what he was doing.  Then
the bull came charging at us, and my horse dropped down on all fours and
took a fresh start--and then for the next ten minutes he would actually
throw one hand-spring after another so fast that the bull began to get
unsettled, too, and didn't know where to start in--and so he stood there
sneezing, and shovelling dust over his back, and bellowing every now and
then, and thinking he had got a fifteen-hundred dollar circus horse for
breakfast, certain.  Well, I was first out on his neck--the horse's, not
the bull's--and then underneath, and next on his rump, and sometimes head
up, and sometimes heels--but I tell you it seemed solemn and awful to be
ripping and tearing and carrying on so in the presence of death, as you
might say.  Pretty soon the bull made a snatch for us and brought away
some of my horse's tail (I suppose, but do not know, being pretty busy at
the time), but something made him hungry for solitude and suggested to
him to get up and hunt for it.

“And then you ought to have seen that spider legged old skeleton go! and
you ought to have seen the bull cut out after him, too--head down, tongue
out, tail up, bellowing like everything, and actually mowing down the
weeds, and tearing up the earth, and boosting up the sand like a
whirlwind!  By George, it was a hot race!  I and the saddle were back on
the rump, and I had the bridle in my teeth and holding on to the pommel
with both hands.  First we left the dogs behind; then we passed a jackass
rabbit; then we overtook a cayote, and were gaining on an antelope when
the rotten girth let go and threw me about thirty yards off to the left,
and as the saddle went down over the horse's rump he gave it a lift with
his heels that sent it more than four hundred yards up in the air, I wish
I may die in a minute if he didn't.  I fell at the foot of the only
solitary tree there was in nine counties adjacent (as any creature could
see with the naked eye), and the next second I had hold of the bark with
four sets of nails and my teeth, and the next second after that I was
astraddle of the main limb and blaspheming my luck in a way that made my
breath smell of brimstone.  I had the bull, now, if he did not think of
one thing.  But that one thing I dreaded.  I dreaded it very seriously.
There was a possibility that the bull might not think of it, but there
were greater chances that he would.  I made up my mind what I would do in
case he did.  It was a little over forty feet to the ground from where I
sat.  I cautiously unwound the lariat from the pommel of my saddle----”

“Your saddle?  Did you take your saddle up in the tree with you?”

“Take it up in the tree with me?  Why, how you talk.  Of course I didn't.
No man could do that.  It fell in the tree when it came down.”


“Certainly.  I unwound the lariat, and fastened one end of it to the
limb.  It was the very best green raw-hide, and capable of sustaining
tons.  I made a slip-noose in the other end, and then hung it down to see
the length.  It reached down twenty-two feet--half way to the ground.
I then loaded every barrel of the Allen with a double charge.  I felt
satisfied.  I said to myself, if he never thinks of that one thing that I
dread, all right--but if he does, all right anyhow--I am fixed for him.
But don't you know that the very thing a man dreads is the thing that
always happens?  Indeed it is so.  I watched the bull, now, with anxiety
--anxiety which no one can conceive of who has not been in such a
situation and felt that at any moment death might come.  Presently a
thought came into the bull's eye.  I knew it! said I--if my nerve fails
now, I am lost.  Sure enough, it was just as I had dreaded, he started in
to climb the tree----”

“What, the bull?”

“Of course--who else?”

“But a bull can't climb a tree.”

“He can't, can't he?  Since you know so much about it, did you ever see a
bull try?”

“No!  I never dreamt of such a thing.”

“Well, then, what is the use of your talking that way, then?  Because you
never saw a thing done, is that any reason why it can't be done?”

“Well, all right--go on.  What did you do?”

“The bull started up, and got along well for about ten feet, then slipped
and slid back.  I breathed easier.  He tried it again--got up a little
higher--slipped again.  But he came at it once more, and this time he was
careful.  He got gradually higher and higher, and my spirits went down
more and more.  Up he came--an inch at a time--with his eyes hot, and his
tongue hanging out.  Higher and higher--hitched his foot over the stump
of a limb, and looked up, as much as to say, 'You are my meat, friend.'
Up again--higher and higher, and getting more excited the closer he got.
He was within ten feet of me!  I took a long breath,--and then said I,
'It is now or never.'  I had the coil of the lariat all ready; I paid it
out slowly, till it hung right over his head; all of a sudden I let go of
the slack, and the slipnoose fell fairly round his neck!  Quicker than
lightning I out with the Allen and let him have it in the face.  It was
an awful roar, and must have scared the bull out of his senses.  When the
smoke cleared away, there he was, dangling in the air, twenty foot from
the ground, and going out of one convulsion into another faster than you
could count!  I didn't stop to count, anyhow--I shinned down the tree and
shot for home.”

“Bemis, is all that true, just as you have stated it?”

“I wish I may rot in my tracks and die the death of a dog if it isn't.”

“Well, we can't refuse to believe it, and we don't.  But if there were
some proofs----”

“Proofs!  Did I bring back my lariat?”


“Did I bring back my horse?”


“Did you ever see the bull again?”


“Well, then, what more do you want?  I never saw anybody as particular as
you are about a little thing like that.”

I made up my mind that if this man was not a liar he only missed it by
the skin of his teeth.  This episode reminds me of an incident of my
brief sojourn in Siam, years afterward.  The European citizens of a town
in the neighborhood of Bangkok had a prodigy among them by the name of
Eckert, an Englishman--a person famous for the number, ingenuity and
imposing magnitude of his lies.  They were always repeating his most
celebrated falsehoods, and always trying to “draw him out” before
strangers; but they seldom succeeded.  Twice he was invited to the house
where I was visiting, but nothing could seduce him into a specimen lie.
One day a planter named Bascom, an influential man, and a proud and
sometimes irascible one, invited me to ride over with him and call on
Eckert.  As we jogged along, said he:

“Now, do you know where the fault lies?  It lies in putting Eckert on his
guard.  The minute the boys go to pumping at Eckert he knows perfectly
well what they are after, and of course he shuts up his shell.  Anybody
might know he would.  But when we get there, we must play him finer than
that.  Let him shape the conversation to suit himself--let him drop it or
change it whenever he wants to.  Let him see that nobody is trying to
draw him out.  Just let him have his own way.  He will soon forget
himself and begin to grind out lies like a mill.  Don't get impatient
--just keep quiet, and let me play him.  I will make him lie.  It does seem
to me that the boys must be blind to overlook such an obvious and simple
trick as that.”

Eckert received us heartily--a pleasant-spoken, gentle-mannered creature.
We sat in the veranda an hour, sipping English ale, and talking about the
king, and the sacred white elephant, the Sleeping Idol, and all manner of
things; and I noticed that my comrade never led the conversation himself
or shaped it, but simply followed Eckert's lead, and betrayed no
solicitude and no anxiety about anything.  The effect was shortly
perceptible.  Eckert began to grow communicative; he grew more and more
at his ease, and more and more talkative and sociable.  Another hour
passed in the same way, and then all of a sudden Eckert said:

“Oh, by the way!  I came near forgetting.  I have got a thing here to
astonish you.  Such a thing as neither you nor any other man ever heard
of--I've got a cat that will eat cocoanut!  Common green cocoanut--and
not only eat the meat, but drink the milk.  It is so--I'll swear to it.”

A quick glance from Bascom--a glance that I understood--then:

“Why, bless my soul, I never heard of such a thing.  Man, it is

“I knew you would say it.  I'll fetch the cat.”

He went in the house.  Bascom said:

“There--what did I tell you?  Now, that is the way to handle Eckert.  You
see, I have petted him along patiently, and put his suspicions to sleep.
I am glad we came.  You tell the boys about it when you go back.  Cat eat
a cocoanut--oh, my!  Now, that is just his way, exactly--he will tell the
absurdest lie, and trust to luck to get out of it again.

“Cat eat a cocoanut--the innocent fool!”

Eckert approached with his cat, sure enough.

Bascom smiled.  Said he:

“I'll hold the cat--you bring a cocoanut.”

Eckert split one open, and chopped up some pieces.  Bascom smuggled a
wink to me, and proffered a slice of the fruit to puss.  She snatched it,
swallowed it ravenously, and asked for more!

We rode our two miles in silence, and wide apart.  At least I was silent,
though Bascom cuffed his horse and cursed him a good deal,
notwithstanding the horse was behaving well enough.  When I branched off
homeward, Bascom said:

“Keep the horse till morning.  And--you need not speak of this
--foolishness to the boys.”


In a little while all interest was taken up in stretching our necks and
watching for the “pony-rider”--the fleet messenger who sped across the
continent from St. Joe to Sacramento, carrying letters nineteen hundred
miles in eight days!  Think of that for perishable horse and human flesh
and blood to do!  The pony-rider was usually a little bit of a man,
brimful of spirit and endurance.  No matter what time of the day or night
his watch came on, and no matter whether it was winter or summer,
raining, snowing, hailing, or sleeting, or whether his “beat” was a level
straight road or a crazy trail over mountain crags and precipices, or
whether it led through peaceful regions or regions that swarmed with
hostile Indians, he must be always ready to leap into the saddle and be
off like the wind!  There was no idling-time for a pony-rider on duty.
He rode fifty miles without stopping, by daylight, moonlight, starlight,
or through the blackness of darkness--just as it happened.  He rode a
splendid horse that was born for a racer and fed and lodged like a
gentleman; kept him at his utmost speed for ten miles, and then, as he
came crashing up to the station where stood two men holding fast a fresh,
impatient steed, the transfer of rider and mail-bag was made in the
twinkling of an eye, and away flew the eager pair and were out of sight
before the spectator could get hardly the ghost of a look.  Both rider
and horse went “flying light.” The rider's dress was thin, and fitted
close; he wore a “round-about,” and a skull-cap, and tucked his
pantaloons into his boot-tops like a race-rider.  He carried no arms--he
carried nothing that was not absolutely necessary, for even the postage
on his literary freight was worth five dollars a letter.

He got but little frivolous correspondence to carry--his bag had business
letters in it, mostly.  His horse was stripped of all unnecessary weight,
too.  He wore a little wafer of a racing-saddle, and no visible blanket.
He wore light shoes, or none at all.  The little flat mail-pockets
strapped under the rider's thighs would each hold about the bulk of a
child's primer.  They held many and many an important business chapter
and newspaper letter, but these were written on paper as airy and thin as
gold-leaf, nearly, and thus bulk and weight were economized.  The
stage-coach traveled about a hundred to a hundred and twenty-five miles
a day (twenty-four hours), the pony-rider about two hundred and fifty.
There were about eighty pony-riders in the saddle all the time, night and
day, stretching in a long, scattering procession from Missouri to
California, forty flying eastward, and forty toward the west, and among
them making four hundred gallant horses earn a stirring livelihood and
see a deal of scenery every single day in the year.

We had had a consuming desire, from the beginning, to see a pony-rider,
but somehow or other all that passed us and all that met us managed to
streak by in the night, and so we heard only a whiz and a hail, and the
swift phantom of the desert was gone before we could get our heads out of
the windows.  But now we were expecting one along every moment, and would
see him in broad daylight.  Presently the driver exclaims:


Every neck is stretched further, and every eye strained wider.  Away
across the endless dead level of the prairie a black speck appears
against the sky, and it is plain that it moves.  Well, I should think so!

In a second or two it becomes a horse and rider, rising and falling,
rising and falling--sweeping toward us nearer and nearer--growing more
and more distinct, more and more sharply defined--nearer and still
nearer, and the flutter of the hoofs comes faintly to the ear--another
instant a whoop and a hurrah from our upper deck, a wave of the rider's
hand, but no reply, and man and horse burst past our excited faces, and
go winging away like a belated fragment of a storm!

So sudden is it all, and so like a flash of unreal fancy, that but for
the flake of white foam left quivering and perishing on a mail-sack after
the vision had flashed by and disappeared, we might have doubted whether
we had seen any actual horse and man at all, maybe.

We rattled through Scott's Bluffs Pass, by and by.  It was along here
somewhere that we first came across genuine and unmistakable alkali water
in the road, and we cordially hailed it as a first-class curiosity, and a
thing to be mentioned with eclat in letters to the ignorant at home.
This water gave the road a soapy appearance, and in many places the
ground looked as if it had been whitewashed.  I think the strange alkali
water excited us as much as any wonder we had come upon yet, and I know
we felt very complacent and conceited, and better satisfied with life
after we had added it to our list of things which we had seen and some
other people had not.  In a small way we were the same sort of simpletons
as those who climb unnecessarily the perilous peaks of Mont Blanc and the
Matterhorn, and derive no pleasure from it except the reflection that it
isn't a common experience.  But once in a while one of those parties
trips and comes darting down the long mountain-crags in a sitting
posture, making the crusted snow smoke behind him, flitting from bench to
bench, and from terrace to terrace, jarring the earth where he strikes,
and still glancing and flitting on again, sticking an iceberg into
himself every now and then, and tearing his clothes, snatching at things
to save himself, taking hold of trees and fetching them along with him,
roots and all, starting little rocks now and then, then big boulders,
then acres of ice and snow and patches of forest, gathering and still
gathering as he goes, adding and still adding to his massed and sweeping
grandeur as he nears a three thousand-foot precipice, till at last he
waves his hat magnificently and rides into eternity on the back of a
raging and tossing avalanche!

This is all very fine, but let us not be carried away by excitement, but
ask calmly, how does this person feel about it in his cooler moments next
day, with six or seven thousand feet of snow and stuff on top of him?

We crossed the sand hills near the scene of the Indian mail robbery and
massacre of 1856, wherein the driver and conductor perished, and also all
the passengers but one, it was supposed; but this must have been a
mistake, for at different times afterward on the Pacific coast I was
personally acquainted with a hundred and thirty-three or four people who
were wounded during that massacre, and barely escaped with their lives.
There was no doubt of the truth of it--I had it from their own lips.  One
of these parties told me that he kept coming across arrow-heads in his
system for nearly seven years after the massacre; and another of them
told me that he was struck so literally full of arrows that after the
Indians were gone and he could raise up and examine himself, he could not
restrain his tears, for his clothes were completely ruined.

The most trustworthy tradition avers, however, that only one man, a
person named Babbitt, survived the massacre, and he was desperately
wounded.  He dragged himself on his hands and knee (for one leg was
broken) to a station several miles away.  He did it during portions of
two nights, lying concealed one day and part of another, and for more
than forty hours suffering unimaginable anguish from hunger, thirst and
bodily pain.  The Indians robbed the coach of everything it contained,
including quite an amount of treasure.


We passed Fort Laramie in the night, and on the seventh morning out we
found ourselves in the Black Hills, with Laramie Peak at our elbow
(apparently) looming vast and solitary--a deep, dark, rich indigo blue in
hue, so portentously did the old colossus frown under his beetling brows
of storm-cloud.  He was thirty or forty miles away, in reality, but he
only seemed removed a little beyond the low ridge at our right.  We
breakfasted at Horse-Shoe Station, six hundred and seventy-six miles out
from St. Joseph.  We had now reached a hostile Indian country, and during
the afternoon we passed Laparelle Station, and enjoyed great discomfort
all the time we were in the neighborhood, being aware that many of the
trees we dashed by at arm's length concealed a lurking Indian or two.
During the preceding night an ambushed savage had sent a bullet through
the pony-rider's jacket, but he had ridden on, just the same, because
pony-riders were not allowed to stop and inquire into such things except
when killed.  As long as they had life enough left in them they had to
stick to the horse and ride, even if the Indians had been waiting for
them a week, and were entirely out of patience.  About two hours and a
half before we arrived at Laparelle Station, the keeper in charge of it
had fired four times at an Indian, but he said with an injured air that
the Indian had “skipped around so's to spile everything--and ammunition's
blamed skurse, too.” The most natural inference conveyed by his manner of
speaking was, that in “skipping around,” the Indian had taken an unfair

The coach we were in had a neat hole through its front--a reminiscence of
its last trip through this region.  The bullet that made it wounded the
driver slightly, but he did not mind it much.  He said the place to keep
a man “huffy” was down on the Southern Overland, among the Apaches,
before the company moved the stage line up on the northern route.  He
said the Apaches used to annoy him all the time down there, and that he
came as near as anything to starving to death in the midst of abundance,
because they kept him so leaky with bullet holes that he “couldn't hold
his vittles.”

This person's statement were not generally believed.

We shut the blinds down very tightly that first night in the hostile
Indian country, and lay on our arms.  We slept on them some, but most of
the time we only lay on them.  We did not talk much, but kept quiet and
listened.  It was an inky-black night, and occasionally rainy.  We were
among woods and rocks, hills and gorges--so shut in, in fact, that when
we peeped through a chink in a curtain, we could discern nothing.  The
driver and conductor on top were still, too, or only spoke at long
intervals, in low tones, as is the way of men in the midst of invisible
dangers.  We listened to rain-drops pattering on the roof; and the
grinding of the wheels through the muddy gravel; and the low wailing of
the wind; and all the time we had that absurd sense upon us, inseparable
from travel at night in a close-curtained vehicle, the sense of remaining
perfectly still in one place, notwithstanding the jolting and swaying of
the vehicle, the trampling of the horses, and the grinding of the wheels.
We listened a long time, with intent faculties and bated breath; every
time one of us would relax, and draw a long sigh of relief and start to
say something, a comrade would be sure to utter a sudden “Hark!” and
instantly the experimenter was rigid and listening again.  So the
tiresome minutes and decades of minutes dragged away, until at last our
tense forms filmed over with a dulled consciousness, and we slept, if one
might call such a condition by so strong a name--for it was a sleep set
with a hair-trigger.  It was a sleep seething and teeming with a weird
and distressful confusion of shreds and fag-ends of dreams--a sleep that
was a chaos.  Presently, dreams and sleep and the sullen hush of the
night were startled by a ringing report, and cloven by such a long, wild,
agonizing shriek!  Then we heard--ten steps from the stage--

“Help!  help!  help!” [It was our driver's voice.]

“Kill him!  Kill him like a dog!”

“I'm being murdered!  Will no man lend me a pistol?”

“Look out! head him off! head him off!”

[Two pistol shots; a confusion of voices and the trampling of many feet,
as if a crowd were closing and surging together around some object;
several heavy, dull blows, as with a club; a voice that said appealingly,
“Don't, gentlemen, please don't--I'm a dead man!” Then a fainter groan,
and another blow, and away sped the stage into the darkness, and left the
grisly mystery behind us.]

What a startle it was!  Eight seconds would amply cover the time it
occupied--maybe even five would do it.  We only had time to plunge at a
curtain and unbuckle and unbutton part of it in an awkward and hindering
flurry, when our whip cracked sharply overhead, and we went rumbling and
thundering away, down a mountain “grade.”

We fed on that mystery the rest of the night--what was left of it, for it
was waning fast.  It had to remain a present mystery, for all we could
get from the conductor in answer to our hails was something that sounded,
through the clatter of the wheels, like “Tell you in the morning!”

So we lit our pipes and opened the corner of a curtain for a chimney, and
lay there in the dark, listening to each other's story of how he first
felt and how many thousand Indians he first thought had hurled themselves
upon us, and what his remembrance of the subsequent sounds was, and the
order of their occurrence.  And we theorized, too, but there was never a
theory that would account for our driver's voice being out there, nor yet
account for his Indian murderers talking such good English, if they were

So we chatted and smoked the rest of the night comfortably away, our
boding anxiety being somehow marvelously dissipated by the real presence
of something to be anxious about.

We never did get much satisfaction about that dark occurrence.  All that
we could make out of the odds and ends of the information we gathered in
the morning, was that the disturbance occurred at a station; that we
changed drivers there, and that the driver that got off there had been
talking roughly about some of the outlaws that infested the region (“for
there wasn't a man around there but had a price on his head and didn't
dare show himself in the settlements,” the conductor said); he had talked
roughly about these characters, and ought to have “drove up there with
his pistol cocked and ready on the seat alongside of him, and begun
business himself, because any softy would know they would be laying for

That was all we could gather, and we could see that neither the conductor
nor the new driver were much concerned about the matter.  They plainly
had little respect for a man who would deliver offensive opinions of
people and then be so simple as to come into their presence unprepared to
“back his judgment,” as they pleasantly phrased the killing of any
fellow-being who did not like said opinions.  And likewise they plainly
had a contempt for the man's poor discretion in venturing to rouse the
wrath of such utterly reckless wild beasts as those outlaws--and the
conductor added:

“I tell you it's as much as Slade himself want to do!”

This remark created an entire revolution in my curiosity.  I cared
nothing now about the Indians, and even lost interest in the murdered
driver.  There was such magic in that name, SLADE!  Day or night, now, I
stood always ready to drop any subject in hand, to listen to something
new about Slade and his ghastly exploits.  Even before we got to Overland
City, we had begun to hear about Slade and his “division” (for he was a
“division-agent”) on the Overland; and from the hour we had left Overland
City we had heard drivers and conductors talk about only three things
--“Californy,” the Nevada silver mines, and this desperado Slade.  And a
deal the most of the talk was about Slade.  We had gradually come to have
a realizing sense of the fact that Slade was a man whose heart and hands
and soul were steeped in the blood of offenders against his dignity; a
man who awfully avenged all injuries, affront, insults or slights, of
whatever kind--on the spot if he could, years afterward if lack of
earlier opportunity compelled it; a man whose hate tortured him day and
night till vengeance appeased it--and not an ordinary vengeance either,
but his enemy's absolute death--nothing less; a man whose face would
light up with a terrible joy when he surprised a foe and had him at a
disadvantage.  A high and efficient servant of the Overland, an outlaw
among outlaws and yet their relentless scourge, Slade was at once the
most bloody, the most dangerous and the most valuable citizen that
inhabited the savage fastnesses of the mountains.


Really and truly, two thirds of the talk of drivers and conductors had
been about this man Slade, ever since the day before we reached
Julesburg.  In order that the eastern reader may have a clear conception
of what a Rocky Mountain desperado is, in his highest state of
development, I will reduce all this mass of overland gossip to one
straightforward narrative, and present it in the following shape:

Slade was born in Illinois, of good parentage.  At about twenty-six years
of age he killed a man in a quarrel and fled the country.  At St. Joseph,
Missouri, he joined one of the early California-bound emigrant trains,
and was given the post of train-master.  One day on the plains he had an
angry dispute with one of his wagon-drivers, and both drew their
revolvers.  But the driver was the quicker artist, and had his weapon
cocked first.  So Slade said it was a pity to waste life on so small a
matter, and proposed that the pistols be thrown on the ground and the
quarrel settled by a fist-fight.  The unsuspecting driver agreed, and
threw down his pistol--whereupon Slade laughed at his simplicity, and
shot him dead!

He made his escape, and lived a wild life for awhile, dividing his time
between fighting Indians and avoiding an Illinois sheriff, who had been
sent to arrest him for his first murder.  It is said that in one Indian
battle he killed three savages with his own hand, and afterward cut their
ears off and sent them, with his compliments, to the chief of the tribe.

Slade soon gained a name for fearless resolution, and this was sufficient
merit to procure for him the important post of overland division-agent at
Julesburg, in place of Mr. Jules, removed.  For some time previously, the
company's horses had been frequently stolen, and the coaches delayed, by
gangs of outlaws, who were wont to laugh at the idea of any man's having
the temerity to resent such outrages.  Slade resented them promptly.

The outlaws soon found that the new agent was a man who did not fear
anything that breathed the breath of life.  He made short work of all
offenders.  The result was that delays ceased, the company's property was
let alone, and no matter what happened or who suffered, Slade's coaches
went through, every time!  True, in order to bring about this wholesome
change, Slade had to kill several men--some say three, others say four,
and others six--but the world was the richer for their loss.  The first
prominent difficulty he had was with the ex-agent Jules, who bore the
reputation of being a reckless and desperate man himself.  Jules hated
Slade for supplanting him, and a good fair occasion for a fight was all
he was waiting for.  By and by Slade dared to employ a man whom Jules had
once discharged.  Next, Slade seized a team of stage-horses which he
accused Jules of having driven off and hidden somewhere for his own use.
War was declared, and for a day or two the two men walked warily about
the streets, seeking each other, Jules armed with a double-barreled shot
gun, and Slade with his history-creating revolver.  Finally, as Slade
stepped into a store Jules poured the contents of his gun into him from
behind the door.  Slade was plucky, and Jules got several bad pistol
wounds in return.

Then both men fell, and were carried to their respective lodgings, both
swearing that better aim should do deadlier work next time.  Both were
bedridden a long time, but Jules got to his feet first, and gathering his
possessions together, packed them on a couple of mules, and fled to the
Rocky Mountains to gather strength in safety against the day of
reckoning.  For many months he was not seen or heard of, and was
gradually dropped out of the remembrance of all save Slade himself.  But
Slade was not the man to forget him.  On the contrary, common report said
that Slade kept a reward standing for his capture, dead or alive!

After awhile, seeing that Slade's energetic administration had restored
peace and order to one of the worst divisions of the road, the overland
stage company transferred him to the Rocky Ridge division in the Rocky
Mountains, to see if he could perform a like miracle there.  It was the
very paradise of outlaws and desperadoes.  There was absolutely no
semblance of law there.  Violence was the rule.  Force was the only
recognized authority.  The commonest misunderstandings were settled on
the spot with the revolver or the knife.  Murders were done in open day,
and with sparkling frequency, and nobody thought of inquiring into them.
It was considered that the parties who did the killing had their private
reasons for it; for other people to meddle would have been looked upon as
indelicate.  After a murder, all that Rocky Mountain etiquette required
of a spectator was, that he should help the gentleman bury his game
--otherwise his churlishness would surely be remembered against him the
first time he killed a man himself and needed a neighborly turn in
interring him.

Slade took up his residence sweetly and peacefully in the midst of this
hive of horse-thieves and assassins, and the very first time one of them
aired his insolent swaggerings in his presence he shot him dead!  He
began a raid on the outlaws, and in a singularly short space of time he
had completely stopped their depredations on the stage stock, recovered a
large number of stolen horses, killed several of the worst desperadoes of
the district, and gained such a dread ascendancy over the rest that they
respected him, admired him, feared him, obeyed him!  He wrought the same
marvelous change in the ways of the community that had marked his
administration at Overland City.  He captured two men who had stolen
overland stock, and with his own hands he hanged them.  He was supreme
judge in his district, and he was jury and executioner likewise--and not
only in the case of offences against his employers, but against passing
emigrants as well.  On one occasion some emigrants had their stock lost
or stolen, and told Slade, who chanced to visit their camp.  With a
single companion he rode to a ranch, the owners of which he suspected,
and opening the door, commenced firing, killing three, and wounding the

From a bloodthirstily interesting little Montana book.--[“The Vigilantes
of Montana,” by Prof. Thos. J. Dimsdale.]--I take this paragraph:

      “While on the road, Slade held absolute sway.  He would ride down to
      a station, get into a quarrel, turn the house out of windows, and
      maltreat the occupants most cruelly.  The unfortunates had no means
      of redress, and were compelled to recuperate as best they could.”

On one of these occasions, it is said he killed the father of the fine
little half-breed boy Jemmy, whom he adopted, and who lived with his
widow after his execution.  Stories of Slade's hanging men, and of
innumerable assaults, shootings, stabbings and beatings, in which he was
a principal actor, form part of the legends of the stage line.  As for
minor quarrels and shootings, it is absolutely certain that a minute
history of Slade's life would be one long record of such practices.

Slade was a matchless marksman with a navy revolver.  The legends say
that one morning at Rocky Ridge, when he was feeling comfortable, he saw
a man approaching who had offended him some days before--observe the fine
memory he had for matters like that--and, “Gentlemen,” said Slade,
drawing, “it is a good twenty-yard shot--I'll clip the third button on
his coat!”  Which he did.  The bystanders all admired it.  And they all
attended the funeral, too.

On one occasion a man who kept a little whisky-shelf at the station did
something which angered Slade--and went and made his will.  A day or two
afterward Slade came in and called for some brandy.  The man reached
under the counter (ostensibly to get a bottle--possibly to get something
else), but Slade smiled upon him that peculiarly bland and satisfied
smile of his which the neighbors had long ago learned to recognize as a
death-warrant in disguise, and told him to “none of that!--pass out the
high-priced article.”  So the poor bar-keeper had to turn his back and
get the high-priced brandy from the shelf; and when he faced around again
he was looking into the muzzle of Slade's pistol.  “And the next
instant,” added my informant, impressively, “he was one of the deadest
men that ever lived.”

The stage-drivers and conductors told us that sometimes Slade would leave
a hated enemy wholly unmolested, unnoticed and unmentioned, for weeks
together--had done it once or twice at any rate.  And some said they
believed he did it in order to lull the victims into unwatchfulness, so
that he could get the advantage of them, and others said they believed he
saved up an enemy that way, just as a schoolboy saves up a cake, and made
the pleasure go as far as it would by gloating over the anticipation.
One of these cases was that of a Frenchman who had offended Slade.
To the surprise of everybody Slade did not kill him on the spot, but let
him alone for a considerable time.  Finally, however, he went to the
Frenchman's house very late one night, knocked, and when his enemy opened
the door, shot him dead--pushed the corpse inside the door with his foot,
set the house on fire and burned up the dead man, his widow and three
children!  I heard this story from several different people, and they
evidently believed what they were saying.  It may be true, and it may
not.  “Give a dog a bad name,” etc.

Slade was captured, once, by a party of men who intended to lynch him.
They disarmed him, and shut him up in a strong log-house, and placed a
guard over him.  He prevailed on his captors to send for his wife, so
that he might have a last interview with her.  She was a brave, loving,
spirited woman.  She jumped on a horse and rode for life and death.
When she arrived they let her in without searching her, and before the
door could be closed she whipped out a couple of revolvers, and she and
her lord marched forth defying the party.  And then, under a brisk fire,
they mounted double and galloped away unharmed!

In the fulness of time Slade's myrmidons captured his ancient enemy
Jules, whom they found in a well-chosen hiding-place in the remote
fastnesses of the mountains, gaining a precarious livelihood with his
rifle.  They brought him to Rocky Ridge, bound hand and foot, and
deposited him in the middle of the cattle-yard with his back against a
post.  It is said that the pleasure that lit Slade's face when he heard
of it was something fearful to contemplate.  He examined his enemy to see
that he was securely tied, and then went to bed, content to wait till
morning before enjoying the luxury of killing him.  Jules spent the night
in the cattle-yard, and it is a region where warm nights are never known.
In the morning Slade practised on him with his revolver, nipping the
flesh here and there, and occasionally clipping off a finger, while Jules
begged him to kill him outright and put him out of his misery.  Finally
Slade reloaded, and walking up close to his victim, made some
characteristic remarks and then dispatched him.  The body lay there half
a day, nobody venturing to touch it without orders, and then Slade
detailed a party and assisted at the burial himself.  But he first cut
off the dead man's ears and put them in his vest pocket, where he carried
them for some time with great satisfaction.  That is the story as I have
frequently heard it told and seen it in print in California newspapers.
It is doubtless correct in all essential particulars.

In due time we rattled up to a stage-station, and sat down to
breakfast with a half-savage, half-civilized company of armed and
bearded mountaineers, ranchmen and station employees.  The most
gentlemanly-appearing, quiet and affable officer we had yet found along
the road in the Overland Company's service was the person who sat at the
head of the table, at my elbow.  Never youth stared and shivered as I did
when I heard them call him SLADE!

Here was romance, and I sitting face to face with it!--looking upon it
--touching it--hobnobbing with it, as it were!  Here, right by my side, was
the actual ogre who, in fights and brawls and various ways, had taken the
lives of twenty-six human beings, or all men lied about him!  I suppose I
was the proudest stripling that ever traveled to see strange lands and
wonderful people.

He was so friendly and so gentle-spoken that I warmed to him in
spite of his awful history.  It was hardly possible to realize that
this pleasant person was the pitiless scourge of the outlaws, the
raw-head-and-bloody-bones the nursing mothers of the mountains terrified
their children with. And to this day I can remember nothing remarkable
about Slade except that his face was rather broad across the cheek bones,
and that the cheek bones were low and the lips peculiarly thin and
straight.  But that was enough to leave something of an effect upon me,
for since then I seldom see a face possessing those characteristics
without fancying that the owner of it is a dangerous man.

The coffee ran out.  At least it was reduced to one tin-cupful, and Slade
was about to take it when he saw that my cup was empty.

He politely offered to fill it, but although I wanted it, I politely
declined.  I was afraid he had not killed anybody that morning, and might
be needing diversion.  But still with firm politeness he insisted on
filling my cup, and said I had traveled all night and better deserved it
than he--and while he talked he placidly poured the fluid, to the last
drop.  I thanked him and drank it, but it gave me no comfort, for I could
not feel sure that he would not be sorry, presently, that he had given it
away, and proceed to kill me to distract his thoughts from the loss.
But nothing of the kind occurred.  We left him with only twenty-six dead
people to account for, and I felt a tranquil satisfaction in the thought
that in so judiciously taking care of No. 1 at that breakfast-table I had
pleasantly escaped being No. 27.  Slade came out to the coach and saw us
off, first ordering certain rearrangements of the mail-bags for our
comfort, and then we took leave of him, satisfied that we should hear of
him again, some day, and wondering in what connection.


And sure enough, two or three years afterward, we did hear him again.
News came to the Pacific coast that the Vigilance Committee in Montana
(whither Slade had removed from Rocky Ridge) had hanged him.  I find an
account of the affair in the thrilling little book I quoted a paragraph
from in the last chapter--“The Vigilantes of Montana; being a Reliable
Account of the Capture, Trial and Execution of Henry Plummer's Notorious
Road Agent Band: By Prof. Thos. J. Dimsdale, Virginia City, M.T.”
 Mr. Dimsdale's chapter is well worth reading, as a specimen of how the
people of the frontier deal with criminals when the courts of law prove
inefficient.  Mr. Dimsdale makes two remarks about Slade, both of which
are accurately descriptive, and one of which is exceedingly picturesque:
“Those who saw him in his natural state only, would pronounce him to be a
kind husband, a most hospitable host and a courteous gentleman; on the
contrary, those who met him when maddened with liquor and surrounded by a
gang of armed roughs, would pronounce him a fiend incarnate.”  And this:
“From Fort Kearney, west, he was feared a great deal more than the
almighty.”  For compactness, simplicity and vigor of expression, I will
“back” that sentence against anything in literature.  Mr. Dimsdale's
narrative is as follows.  In all places where italics occur, they are

      After the execution of the five men on the 14th of January, the
      Vigilantes considered that their work was nearly ended.  They had
      freed the country of highwaymen and murderers to a great extent, and
      they determined that in the absence of the regular civil authority
      they would establish a People's Court where all offenders should be
      tried by judge and jury.  This was the nearest approach to social
      order that the circumstances permitted, and, though strict legal
      authority was wanting, yet the people were firmly determined to
      maintain its efficiency, and to enforce its decrees.  It may here be
      mentioned that the overt act which was the last round on the fatal
      ladder leading to the scaffold on which Slade perished, was the
      tearing in pieces and stamping upon a writ of this court, followed
      by his arrest of the Judge Alex. Davis, by authority of a presented
      Derringer, and with his own hands.

      J. A. Slade was himself, we have been informed, a Vigilante; he
      openly boasted of it, and said he knew all that they knew.  He was
      never accused, or even suspected, of either murder or robbery,
      committed in this Territory (the latter crime was never laid to his
      charge, in any place); but that he had killed several men in other
      localities was notorious, and his bad reputation in this respect was
      a most powerful argument in determining his fate, when he was
      finally arrested for the offence above mentioned.  On returning from
      Milk River he became more and more addicted to drinking, until at
      last it was a common feat for him and his friends to “take the
      town.”  He and a couple of his dependents might often be seen on one
      horse, galloping through the streets, shouting and yelling, firing
      revolvers, etc.  On many occasions he would ride his horse into
      stores, break up bars, toss the scales out of doors and use most
      insulting language to parties present.  Just previous to the day of
      his arrest, he had given a fearful beating to one of his followers;
      but such was his influence over them that the man wept bitterly at
      the gallows, and begged for his life with all his power.  It had
      become quite common, when Slade was on a spree, for the shop-keepers
      and citizens to close the stores and put out all the lights; being
      fearful of some outrage at his hands.  For his wanton destruction of
      goods and furniture, he was always ready to pay, when sober, if he
      had money; but there were not a few who regarded payment as small
      satisfaction for the outrage, and these men were his personal

      From time to time Slade received warnings from men that he well knew
      would not deceive him, of the certain end of his conduct.  There was
      not a moment, for weeks previous to his arrest, in which the public
      did not expect to hear of some bloody outrage.  The dread of his
      very name, and the presence of the armed band of hangers-on who
      followed him alone prevented a resistance which must certainly have
      ended in the instant murder or mutilation of the opposing party.

      Slade was frequently arrested by order of the court whose
      organization we have described, and had treated it with respect by
      paying one or two fines and promising to pay the rest when he had
      money; but in the transaction that occurred at this crisis, he
      forgot even this caution, and goaded by passion and the hatred of
      restraint, he sprang into the embrace of death.

      Slade had been drunk and “cutting up” all night.  He and his
      companions had made the town a perfect hell.  In the morning, J. M.
      Fox, the sheriff, met him, arrested him, took him into court and
      commenced reading a warrant that he had for his arrest, by way of
      arraignment.  He became uncontrollably furious, and seizing the
      writ, he tore it up, threw it on the ground and stamped upon it.

      The clicking of the locks of his companions' revolvers was instantly
      heard, and a crisis was expected.  The sheriff did not attempt his
      retention; but being at least as prudent as he was valiant, he
      succumbed, leaving Slade the master of the situation and the
      conqueror and ruler of the courts, law and law-makers.  This was a
      declaration of war, and was so accepted.  The Vigilance Committee
      now felt that the question of social order and the preponderance of
      the law-abiding citizens had then and there to be decided.  They
      knew the character of Slade, and they were well aware that they must
      submit to his rule without murmur, or else that he must be dealt
      with in such fashion as would prevent his being able to wreak his
      vengeance on the committee, who could never have hoped to live in
      the Territory secure from outrage or death, and who could never
      leave it without encountering his friend, whom his victory would
      have emboldened and stimulated to a pitch that would have rendered
      them reckless of consequences.  The day previous he had ridden into
      Dorris's store, and on being requested to leave, he drew his
      revolver and threatened to kill the gentleman who spoke to him.
      Another saloon he had led his horse into, and buying a bottle of
      wine, he tried to make the animal drink it.  This was not considered
      an uncommon performance, as he had often entered saloons and
      commenced firing at the lamps, causing a wild stampede.

      A leading member of the committee met Slade, and informed him in the
      quiet, earnest manner of one who feels the importance of what he is
      saying: “Slade, get your horse at once, and go home, or there will
      be ---- to pay.”  Slade started and took a long look, with his dark
      and piercing eyes, at the gentleman.  “What do you mean?”  said he.
      “You have no right to ask me what I mean,” was the quiet reply, “get
      your horse at once, and remember what I tell you.”  After a short
      pause he promised to do so, and actually got into the saddle; but,
      being still intoxicated, he began calling aloud to one after another
      of his friends, and at last seemed to have forgotten the warning he
      had received and became again uproarious, shouting the name of a
      well-known courtezan in company with those of two men whom he
      considered heads of the committee, as a sort of challenge; perhaps,
      however, as a simple act of bravado.  It seems probable that the
      intimation of personal danger he had received had not been forgotten
      entirely; though fatally for him, he took a foolish way of showing
      his remembrance of it.  He sought out Alexander Davis, the Judge of
      the Court, and drawing a cocked Derringer, he presented it at his
      head, and told him that he should hold him as a hostage for his own
      safety.  As the judge stood perfectly quiet, and offered no
      resistance to his captor, no further outrage followed on this score.
      Previous to this, on account of the critical state of affairs, the
      committee had met, and at last resolved to arrest him.  His
      execution had not been agreed upon, and, at that time, would have
      been negatived, most assuredly.  A messenger rode down to Nevada to
      inform the leading men of what was on hand, as it was desirable to
      show that there was a feeling of unanimity on the subject, all along
      the gulch.

      The miners turned out almost en masse, leaving their work and
      forming in solid column about six hundred strong, armed to the
      teeth, they marched up to Virginia.  The leader of the body well
      knew the temper of his men on the subject.  He spurred on ahead of
      them, and hastily calling a meeting of the executive, he told them
      plainly that the miners meant “business,” and that, if they came up,
      they would not stand in the street to be shot down by Slade's
      friends; but that they would take him and hang him.  The meeting was
      small, as the Virginia men were loath to act at all.  This momentous
      announcement of the feeling of the Lower Town was made to a cluster
      of men, who were deliberation behind a wagon, at the rear of a store
      on Main street.

      The committee were most unwilling to proceed to extremities.  All
      the duty they had ever performed seemed as nothing to the task
      before them; but they had to decide, and that quickly.  It was
      finally agreed that if the whole body of the miners were of the
      opinion that he should be hanged, that the committee left it in
      their hands to deal with him.  Off, at hot speed, rode the leader of
      the Nevada men to join his command.

      Slade had found out what was intended, and the news sobered him
      instantly.  He went into P. S. Pfouts' store, where Davis was, and
      apologized for his conduct, saying that he would take it all back.

      The head of the column now wheeled into Wallace street and marched
      up at quick time.  Halting in front of the store, the executive
      officer of the committee stepped forward and arrested Slade, who was
      at once informed of his doom, and inquiry was made as to whether he
      had any business to settle.  Several parties spoke to him on the
      subject; but to all such inquiries he turned a deaf ear, being
      entirely absorbed in the terrifying reflections on his own awful
      position.  He never ceased his entreaties for life, and to see his
      dear wife.  The unfortunate lady referred to, between whom and Slade
      there existed a warm affection, was at this time living at their
      ranch on the Madison.  She was possessed of considerable personal
      attractions; tall, well-formed, of graceful carriage, pleasing
      manners, and was, withal, an accomplished horsewoman.

      A messenger from Slade rode at full speed to inform her of her
      husband's arrest.  In an instant she was in the saddle, and with all
      the energy that love and despair could lend to an ardent temperament
      and a strong physique, she urged her fleet charger over the twelve
      miles of rough and rocky ground that intervened between her and the
      object of her passionate devotion.

      Meanwhile a party of volunteers had made the necessary preparations
      for the execution, in the valley traversed by the branch.  Beneath
      the site of Pfouts and Russell's stone building there was a corral,
      the gate-posts of which were strong and high.  Across the top was
      laid a beam, to which the rope was fastened, and a dry-goods box
      served for the platform.  To this place Slade was marched,
      surrounded by a guard, composing the best armed and most numerous
      force that has ever appeared in Montana Territory.

      The doomed man had so exhausted himself by tears, prayers and
      lamentations, that he had scarcely strength left to stand under the
      fatal beam.  He repeatedly exclaimed, “My God! my God! must I die?
      Oh, my dear wife!”

      On the return of the fatigue party, they encountered some friends of
      Slade, staunch and reliable citizens and members of the committee,
      but who were personally attached to the condemned.  On hearing of
      his sentence, one of them, a stout-hearted man, pulled out his
      handkerchief and walked away, weeping like a child.  Slade still
      begged to see his wife, most piteously, and it seemed hard to deny
      his request; but the bloody consequences that were sure to follow
      the inevitable attempt at a rescue, that her presence and entreaties
      would have certainly incited, forbade the granting of his request.
      Several gentlemen were sent for to see him, in his last moments, one
      of whom (Judge Davis) made a short address to the people; but in
      such low tones as to be inaudible, save to a few in his immediate
      vicinity.  One of his friends, after exhausting his powers of
      entreaty, threw off his coat and declared that the prisoner could
      not be hanged until he himself was killed.  A hundred guns were
      instantly leveled at him; whereupon he turned and fled; but, being
      brought back, he was compelled to resume his coat, and to give a
      promise of future peaceable demeanor.

      Scarcely a leading man in Virginia could be found, though numbers of
      the citizens joined the ranks of the guard when the arrest was made.
      All lamented the stern necessity which dictated the execution.

      Everything being ready, the command was given, “Men, do your duty,”
       and the box being instantly slipped from beneath his feet, he died
      almost instantaneously.

      The body was cut down and carried to the Virginia Hotel, where, in a
      darkened room, it was scarcely laid out, when the unfortunate and
      bereaved companion of the deceased arrived, at headlong speed, to
      find that all was over, and that she was a widow.  Her grief and
      heart-piercing cries were terrible evidences of the depth of her
      attachment for her lost husband, and a considerable period elapsed
      before she could regain the command of her excited feelings.

There is something about the desperado-nature that is wholly
unaccountable--at least it looks unaccountable.  It is this.  The true
desperado is gifted with splendid courage, and yet he will take the most
infamous advantage of his enemy; armed and free, he will stand up before
a host and fight until he is shot all to pieces, and yet when he is under
the gallows and helpless he will cry and plead like a child.  Words are
cheap, and it is easy to call Slade a coward (all executed men who do not
“die game” are promptly called cowards by unreflecting people), and when
we read of Slade that he “had so exhausted himself by tears, prayers and
lamentations, that he had scarcely strength left to stand under the fatal
beam,” the disgraceful word suggests itself in a moment--yet in
frequently defying and inviting the vengeance of banded Rocky Mountain
cut-throats by shooting down their comrades and leaders, and never
offering to hide or fly, Slade showed that he was a man of peerless
bravery.  No coward would dare that.  Many a notorious coward, many a
chicken-livered poltroon, coarse, brutal, degraded, has made his dying
speech without a quaver in his voice and been swung into eternity with
what looked liked the calmest fortitude, and so we are justified in
believing, from the low intellect of such a creature, that it was not
moral courage that enabled him to do it.  Then, if moral courage is not
the requisite quality, what could it have been that this stout-hearted
Slade lacked?--this bloody, desperate, kindly-mannered, urbane gentleman,
who never hesitated to warn his most ruffianly enemies that he would kill
them whenever or wherever he came across them next!  I think it is a
conundrum worth investigating.


Just beyond the breakfast-station we overtook a Mormon emigrant train of
thirty-three wagons; and tramping wearily along and driving their herd of
loose cows, were dozens of coarse-clad and sad-looking men, women and
children, who had walked as they were walking now, day after day for
eight lingering weeks, and in that time had compassed the distance our
stage had come in eight days and three hours--seven hundred and
ninety-eight miles!  They were dusty and uncombed, hatless, bonnetless
and ragged, and they did look so tired!

After breakfast, we bathed in Horse Creek, a (previously) limpid,
sparkling stream--an appreciated luxury, for it was very seldom that our
furious coach halted long enough for an indulgence of that kind.  We
changed horses ten or twelve times in every twenty-four hours--changed
mules, rather--six mules--and did it nearly every time in four minutes.
It was lively work.  As our coach rattled up to each station six
harnessed mules stepped gayly from the stable; and in the twinkling of an
eye, almost, the old team was out, and the new one in and we off and away

During the afternoon we passed Sweetwater Creek, Independence Rock,
Devil's Gate and the Devil's Gap.  The latter were wild specimens of
rugged scenery, and full of interest--we were in the heart of the Rocky
Mountains, now.  And we also passed by “Alkali” or “Soda Lake,” and we
woke up to the fact that our journey had stretched a long way across the
world when the driver said that the Mormons often came there from Great
Salt Lake City to haul away saleratus.  He said that a few days gone by
they had shoveled up enough pure saleratus from the ground (it was a dry
lake) to load two wagons, and that when they got these two wagons-loads
of a drug that cost them nothing, to Salt Lake, they could sell it for
twenty-five cents a pound.

In the night we sailed by a most notable curiosity, and one we had been
hearing a good deal about for a day or two, and were suffering to see.
This was what might be called a natural ice-house.  It was August, now,
and sweltering weather in the daytime, yet at one of the stations the men
could scape the soil on the hill-side under the lee of a range of
boulders, and at a depth of six inches cut out pure blocks of ice--hard,
compactly frozen, and clear as crystal!

Toward dawn we got under way again, and presently as we sat with raised
curtains enjoying our early-morning smoke and contemplating the first
splendor of the rising sun as it swept down the long array of mountain
peaks, flushing and gilding crag after crag and summit after summit, as
if the invisible Creator reviewed his gray veterans and they saluted with
a smile, we hove in sight of South Pass City.  The hotel-keeper, the
postmaster, the blacksmith, the mayor, the constable, the city marshal
and the principal citizen and property holder, all came out and greeted
us cheerily, and we gave him good day.  He gave us a little Indian news,
and a little Rocky Mountain news, and we gave him some Plains information
in return.  He then retired to his lonely grandeur and we climbed on up
among the bristling peaks and the ragged clouds.  South Pass City
consisted of four log cabins, one if which was unfinished, and the
gentleman with all those offices and titles was the chiefest of the ten
citizens of the place.  Think of hotel-keeper, postmaster, blacksmith,
mayor, constable, city marshal and principal citizen all condensed into
one person and crammed into one skin.  Bemis said he was “a perfect
Allen's revolver of dignities.”  And he said that if he were to die as
postmaster, or as blacksmith, or as postmaster and blacksmith both, the
people might stand it; but if he were to die all over, it would be a
frightful loss to the community.

Two miles beyond South Pass City we saw for the first time that
mysterious marvel which all Western untraveled boys have heard of and
fully believe in, but are sure to be astounded at when they see it with
their own eyes, nevertheless--banks of snow in dead summer time.  We were
now far up toward the sky, and knew all the time that we must presently
encounter lofty summits clad in the “eternal snow” which was so common
place a matter of mention in books, and yet when I did see it glittering
in the sun on stately domes in the distance and knew the month was August
and that my coat was hanging up because it was too warm to wear it, I was
full as much amazed as if I never had heard of snow in August before.
Truly, “seeing is believing”--and many a man lives a long life through,
thinking he believes certain universally received and well established
things, and yet never suspects that if he were confronted by those things
once, he would discover that he did not really believe them before, but
only thought he believed them.

In a little while quite a number of peaks swung into view with long claws
of glittering snow clasping them; and with here and there, in the shade,
down the mountain side, a little solitary patch of snow looking no larger
than a lady's pocket-handkerchief but being in reality as large as a
“public square.”

And now, at last, we were fairly in the renowned SOUTH PASS, and whirling
gayly along high above the common world.  We were perched upon the
extreme summit of the great range of the Rocky Mountains, toward which we
had been climbing, patiently climbing, ceaselessly climbing, for days and
nights together--and about us was gathered a convention of Nature's kings
that stood ten, twelve, and even thirteen thousand feet high--grand old
fellows who would have to stoop to see Mount Washington, in the twilight.
We were in such an airy elevation above the creeping populations of the
earth, that now and then when the obstructing crags stood out of the way
it seemed that we could look around and abroad and contemplate the whole
great globe, with its dissolving views of mountains, seas and continents
stretching away through the mystery of the summer haze.

As a general thing the Pass was more suggestive of a valley than a
suspension bridge in the clouds--but it strongly suggested the latter at
one spot.  At that place the upper third of one or two majestic purple
domes projected above our level on either hand and gave us a sense of a
hidden great deep of mountains and plains and valleys down about their
bases which we fancied we might see if we could step to the edge and look
over.  These Sultans of the fastnesses were turbaned with tumbled volumes
of cloud, which shredded away from time to time and drifted off fringed
and torn, trailing their continents of shadow after them; and catching
presently on an intercepting peak, wrapped it about and brooded there
--then shredded away again and left the purple peak, as they had left the
purple domes, downy and white with new-laid snow.  In passing, these
monstrous rags of cloud hung low and swept along right over the
spectator's head, swinging their tatters so nearly in his face that his
impulse was to shrink when they came closet.  In the one place I speak
of, one could look below him upon a world of diminishing crags and
canyons leading down, down, and away to a vague plain with a thread in it
which was a road, and bunches of feathers in it which were trees,--a
pretty picture sleeping in the sunlight--but with a darkness stealing
over it and glooming its features  deeper and deeper under the frown of a
coming storm; and then, while no film or shadow marred the noon
brightness of his high perch, he could watch the tempest break forth down
there and see the lightnings leap from crag to crag and the sheeted rain
drive along the canyon-sides, and hear the thunders peal and crash and
roar.  We had this spectacle; a familiar one to many, but to us a

We bowled along cheerily, and presently, at the very summit (though it
had been all summit to us, and all equally level, for half an hour or
more), we came to a spring which spent its water through two outlets and
sent it in opposite directions.  The conductor said that one of those
streams which we were looking at, was just starting on a journey westward
to the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean, through hundreds and
even thousands of miles of desert solitudes.  He said that the other was
just leaving its home among the snow-peaks on a similar journey eastward
--and we knew that long after we should have forgotten the simple rivulet
it would still be plodding its patient way down the mountain sides, and
canyon-beds, and between the banks of the Yellowstone; and by and by
would join the broad Missouri and flow through unknown plains and deserts
and unvisited wildernesses; and add a long and troubled pilgrimage among
snags and wrecks and sandbars; and enter the Mississippi, touch the
wharves of St. Louis and still drift on, traversing shoals and rocky
channels, then endless chains of bottomless and ample bends, walled with
unbroken forests, then mysterious byways and secret passages among woody
islands, then the chained bends again, bordered with wide levels of
shining sugar-cane in place of the sombre forests; then by New Orleans
and still other chains of bends--and finally, after two long months of
daily and nightly harassment, excitement, enjoyment, adventure, and awful
peril of parched throats, pumps and evaporation, pass the Gulf and enter
into its rest upon the bosom of the tropic sea, never to look upon its
snow-peaks again or regret them.

I freighted a leaf with a mental message for the friends at home, and
dropped it in the stream.  But I put no stamp on it and it was held for
postage somewhere.

On the summit we overtook an emigrant train of many wagons, many tired
men and women, and many a disgusted sheep and cow.

In the wofully dusty horseman in charge of the expedition I recognized
John -----.  Of all persons in the world to meet on top of the Rocky
Mountains thousands of miles from home, he was the last one I should have
looked for.  We were school-boys together and warm friends for years.
But a boyish prank of mine had disruptured this friendship and it had
never been renewed.  The act of which I speak was this.  I had been
accustomed to visit occasionally an editor whose room was in the third
story of a building and overlooked the street.  One day this editor gave
me a watermelon which I made preparations to devour on the spot, but
chancing to look out of the window, I saw John standing directly under it
and an irresistible desire came upon me to drop the melon on his head,
which I immediately did.  I was the loser, for it spoiled the melon, and
John never forgave me and we dropped all intercourse and parted, but now
met again under these circumstances.

We recognized each other simultaneously, and hands were grasped as warmly
as if no coldness had ever existed between us, and no allusion was made
to any.  All animosities were buried and the simple fact of meeting a
familiar face in that isolated spot so far from home, was sufficient to
make us forget all things but pleasant ones, and we parted again with
sincere “good-bye” and “God bless you” from both.

We had been climbing up the long shoulders of the Rocky Mountains for
many tedious hours--we started down them, now.  And we went spinning away
at a round rate too.

We left the snowy Wind River Mountains and Uinta Mountains behind, and
sped away, always through splendid scenery but occasionally through long
ranks of white skeletons of mules and oxen--monuments of the huge
emigration of other days--and here and there were up-ended boards or
small piles of stones which the driver said marked the resting-place of
more precious remains.

It was the loneliest land for a grave!  A land given over to the cayote
and the raven--which is but another name for desolation and utter
solitude.  On damp, murky nights, these scattered skeletons gave forth a
soft, hideous glow, like very faint spots of moonlight starring the vague
desert.  It was because of the phosphorus in the bones.  But no
scientific explanation could keep a body from shivering when he drifted
by one of those ghostly lights and knew that a skull held it.

At midnight it began to rain, and I never saw anything like it--indeed, I
did not even see this, for it was too dark.  We fastened down the
curtains and even caulked them with clothing, but the rain streamed in in
twenty places, nothwithstanding.  There was no escape.  If one moved his
feet out of a stream, he brought his body under one; and if he moved his
body he caught one somewhere else.  If he struggled out of the drenched
blankets and sat up, he was bound to get one down the back of his neck.
Meantime the stage was wandering about a plain with gaping gullies in it,
for the driver could not see an inch before his face nor keep the road,
and the storm pelted so pitilessly that there was no keeping the horses
still.  With the first abatement the conductor turned out with lanterns
to look for the road, and the first dash he made was into a chasm about
fourteen feet deep, his lantern following like a meteor.  As soon as he
touched bottom he sang out frantically:

“Don't come here!”

To which the driver, who was looking over the precipice where he had
disappeared, replied, with an injured air: “Think I'm a dam fool?”

The conductor was more than an hour finding the road--a matter which
showed us how far we had wandered and what chances we had been taking.
He traced our wheel-tracks to the imminent verge of danger, in two
places.  I have always been glad that we were not killed that night.
I do not know any particular reason, but I have always been glad.
In the morning, the tenth day out, we crossed Green River, a fine, large,
limpid stream--stuck in it with the water just up to the top of our
mail-bed, and waited till extra teams were put on to haul us up the steep
bank.  But it was nice cool water, and besides it could not find any
fresh place on us to wet.

At the Green River station we had breakfast--hot biscuits, fresh antelope
steaks, and coffee--the only decent meal we tasted between the United
States and Great Salt Lake City, and the only one we were ever really
thankful for.

Think of the monotonous execrableness of the thirty that went before it,
to leave this one simple breakfast looming up in my memory like a
shot-tower after all these years have gone by!

At five P.M.  we reached Fort Bridger, one hundred and seventeen miles
from the South Pass, and one thousand and twenty-five miles from St.
Joseph.  Fifty-two miles further on, near the head of Echo Canyon, we met
sixty United States soldiers from Camp Floyd.  The day before, they had
fired upon three hundred or four hundred Indians, whom they supposed
gathered together for no good purpose.  In the fight that had ensued,
four Indians were captured, and the main body chased four miles, but
nobody killed.  This looked like business.  We had a notion to get out
and join the sixty soldiers, but upon reflecting that there were four
hundred of the Indians, we concluded to go on and join the Indians.

Echo Canyon is twenty miles long.  It was like a long, smooth, narrow
street, with a gradual descending grade, and shut in by enormous
perpendicular walls of coarse conglomerate, four hundred feet high in
many places, and turreted like mediaeval castles.  This was the most
faultless piece of road in the mountains, and the driver said he would
“let his team out.”  He did, and if the Pacific express trains whiz
through there now any faster than we did then in the stage-coach, I envy
the passengers the exhilaration of it.  We fairly seemed to pick up our
wheels and fly--and the mail matter was lifted up free from everything
and held in solution!  I am not given to exaggeration, and when I say a
thing I mean it.

However, time presses.  At four in the afternoon we arrived on the summit
of Big Mountain, fifteen miles from Salt Lake City, when all the world
was glorified with the setting sun, and the most stupendous panorama of
mountain peaks yet encountered burst on our sight.  We looked out upon
this sublime spectacle from under the arch of a brilliant rainbow!  Even
the overland stage-driver stopped his horses and gazed!

Half an hour or an hour later, we changed horses, and took supper with a
Mormon “Destroying Angel.”

“Destroying Angels,” as I understand it, are Latter-Day Saints who are
set apart by the Church to conduct permanent disappearances of obnoxious
citizens.  I had heard a deal about these Mormon Destroying Angels and
the dark and bloody deeds they had done, and when I entered this one's
house I had my shudder all ready.  But alas for all our romances, he was
nothing but a loud, profane, offensive, old blackguard!  He was murderous
enough, possibly, to fill the bill of a Destroyer, but would you have any
kind of an Angel devoid of dignity?  Could you abide an Angel in an
unclean shirt and no suspenders?  Could you respect an Angel with a
horse-laugh and a swagger like a buccaneer?

There were other blackguards present--comrades of this one.  And there
was one person that looked like a gentleman--Heber C. Kimball's son, tall
and well made, and thirty years old, perhaps.  A lot of slatternly women
flitted hither and thither in a hurry, with coffee-pots, plates of bread,
and other appurtenances to supper, and these were said to be the wives of
the Angel--or some of them, at least.  And of course they were; for if
they had been hired “help” they would not have let an angel from above
storm and swear at them as he did, let alone one from the place this one
hailed from.

This was our first experience of the western “peculiar institution,” and
it was not very prepossessing.  We did not tarry long to observe it, but
hurried on to the home of the Latter-Day Saints, the stronghold of the
prophets, the capital of the only absolute monarch in America--Great Salt
Lake City.  As the night closed in we took sanctuary in the Salt Lake
House and unpacked our baggage.


We had a fine supper, of the freshest meats and fowls and vegetables--a
great variety and as great abundance.  We walked about the streets some,
afterward, and glanced in at shops and stores; and there was fascination
in surreptitiously staring at every creature we took to be a Mormon.
This was fairy-land to us, to all intents and purposes--a land of
enchantment, and goblins, and awful mystery.  We felt a curiosity to ask
every child how many mothers it had, and if it could tell them apart; and
we experienced a thrill every time a dwelling-house door opened and shut
as we passed, disclosing a glimpse of human heads and backs and
shoulders--for we so longed to have a good satisfying look at a Mormon
family in all its comprehensive ampleness, disposed in the customary
concentric rings of its home circle.

By and by the Acting Governor of the Territory introduced us to other
“Gentiles,” and we spent a sociable hour with them.  “Gentiles” are
people who are not Mormons.  Our fellow-passenger, Bemis, took care of
himself, during this part of the evening, and did not make an
overpowering success of it, either, for he came into our room in the
hotel about eleven o'clock, full of cheerfulness, and talking loosely,
disjointedly and indiscriminately, and every now and then tugging out a
ragged word by the roots that had more hiccups than syllables in it.
This, together with his hanging his coat on the floor on one side of a
chair, and his vest on the floor on the other side, and piling his pants
on the floor just in front of the same chair, and then comtemplating the
general result with superstitious awe, and finally pronouncing it “too
many for him” and going to bed with his boots on, led us to fear that
something he had eaten had not agreed with him.

But we knew afterward that it was something he had been drinking.  It was
the exclusively Mormon refresher, “valley tan.”

Valley tan (or, at least, one form of valley tan) is a kind of whisky,
or first cousin to it; is of Mormon invention and manufactured only in
Utah.  Tradition says it is made of (imported) fire and brimstone.  If I
remember rightly no public drinking saloons were allowed in the kingdom
by Brigham Young, and no private drinking permitted among the faithful,
except they confined themselves to “valley tan.”

Next day we strolled about everywhere through the broad, straight, level
streets, and enjoyed the pleasant strangeness of a city of fifteen
thousand inhabitants with no loafers perceptible in it; and no visible
drunkards or noisy people; a limpid stream rippling and dancing through
every street in place of a filthy gutter; block after block of trim
dwellings, built of “frame” and sunburned brick--a great thriving orchard
and garden behind every one of them, apparently--branches from the street
stream winding and sparkling among the garden beds and fruit trees--and a
grand general air of neatness, repair, thrift and comfort, around and
about and over the whole.  And everywhere were workshops, factories, and
all manner of industries; and intent faces and busy hands were to be seen
wherever one looked; and in one's ears was the ceaseless clink of
hammers, the buzz of trade and the contented hum of drums and fly-wheels.

The armorial crest of my own State consisted of two dissolute bears
holding up the head of a dead and gone cask between them and making the
pertinent remark, “UNITED, WE STAND--(hic!)--DIVIDED, WE FALL.”  It was
always too figurative for the author of this book.  But the Mormon crest
was easy.  And it was simple, unostentatious, and fitted like a glove.
It was a representation of a GOLDEN BEEHIVE, with the bees all at work!

The city lies in the edge of a level plain as broad as the State of
Connecticut, and crouches close down to the ground under a curving wall
of mighty mountains whose heads are hidden in the clouds, and whose
shoulders bear relics of the snows of winter all the summer long.

Seen from one of these dizzy heights, twelve or fifteen miles off, Great
Salt Lake City is toned down and diminished till it is suggestive of a
child's toy-village reposing under the majestic protection of the Chinese

On some of those mountains, to the southwest, it had been raining every
day for two weeks, but not a drop had fallen in the city.  And on hot
days in late spring and early autumn the citizens could quit fanning and
growling and go out and cool off by looking at the luxury of a glorious
snow-storm going on in the mountains.  They could enjoy it at a distance,
at those seasons, every day, though no snow would fall in their streets,
or anywhere near them.

Salt Lake City was healthy--an extremely healthy city.

They declared there was only one physician in the place and he was
arrested every week regularly and held to answer under the vagrant act
for having “no visible means of support.”  They always give you a good
substantial article of truth in Salt Lake, and good measure and good
weight, too. [Very often, if you wished to weigh one of their airiest
little commonplace statements you would want the hay scales.]

We desired to visit the famous inland sea, the American “Dead Sea,” the
great Salt Lake--seventeen miles, horseback, from the city--for we had
dreamed about it, and thought about it, and talked about it, and yearned
to see it, all the first part of our trip; but now when it was only arm's
length away it had suddenly lost nearly every bit of its interest.  And
so we put it off, in a sort of general way, till next day--and that was
the last we ever thought of it.  We dined with some hospitable Gentiles;
and visited the foundation of the prodigious temple; and talked long with
that shrewd Connecticut Yankee, Heber C. Kimball (since deceased), a
saint of high degree and a mighty man of commerce.

We saw the “Tithing-House,” and the “Lion House,” and I do not know or
remember how many more church and government buildings of various kinds
and curious names.  We flitted hither and thither and enjoyed every hour,
and picked up a great deal of useful information and entertaining
nonsense, and went to bed at night satisfied.

The second day, we made the acquaintance of Mr. Street (since deceased)
and put on white shirts and went and paid a state visit to the king.
He seemed a quiet, kindly, easy-mannered, dignified, self-possessed old
gentleman of fifty-five or sixty, and had a gentle craft in his eye that
probably belonged there.  He was very simply dressed and was just taking
off a straw hat as we entered.  He talked about Utah, and the Indians,
and Nevada, and general American matters and questions, with our
secretary and certain government officials who came with us.  But he
never paid any attention to me, notwithstanding I made several attempts
to “draw him out” on federal politics and his high handed attitude toward
Congress.  I thought some of the things I said were rather fine.  But he
merely looked around at me, at distant intervals, something as I have
seen a benignant old cat look around to see which kitten was meddling
with her tail.

By and by I subsided into an indignant silence, and so sat until the end,
hot and flushed, and execrating him in my heart for an ignorant savage.
But he was calm.  His conversation with those gentlemen flowed on as
sweetly and peacefully and musically as any summer brook.  When the
audience was ended and we were retiring from the presence, he put his
hand on my head, beamed down on me in an admiring way and said to my

“Ah--your child, I presume?  Boy, or girl?”


Mr. Street was very busy with his telegraphic matters--and considering
that he had eight or nine hundred miles of rugged, snowy, uninhabited
mountains, and waterless, treeless, melancholy deserts to traverse with
his wire, it was natural and needful that he should be as busy as
possible.  He could not go comfortably along and cut his poles by the
road-side, either, but they had to be hauled by ox teams across those
exhausting deserts--and it was two days' journey from water to water, in
one or two of them.  Mr. Street's contract was a vast work, every way one
looked at it; and yet to comprehend what the vague words “eight hundred
miles of rugged mountains and dismal deserts” mean, one must go over the
ground in person--pen and ink descriptions cannot convey the dreary
reality to the reader.  And after all, Mr. S.'s mightiest difficulty
turned out to be one which he had never taken into the account at all.
Unto Mormons he had sub-let the hardest and heaviest half of his great
undertaking, and all of a sudden they concluded that they were going to
make little or nothing, and so they tranquilly threw their poles
overboard in mountain or desert, just as it happened when they took the
notion, and drove home and went about their customary business!  They
were under written contract to Mr. Street, but they did not care anything
for that.  They said they would “admire” to see a “Gentile” force a
Mormon to fulfil a losing contract in Utah!  And they made themselves
very merry over the matter.  Street said--for it was he that told us
these things:

“I was in dismay.  I was under heavy bonds to complete my contract in a
given time, and this disaster looked very much like ruin.  It was an
astounding thing; it was such a wholly unlooked-for difficulty, that I
was entirely nonplussed.  I am a business man--have always been a
business man--do not know anything but business--and so you can imagine
how like being struck by lightning it was to find myself in a country
where written contracts were worthless!--that main security, that
sheet-anchor, that absolute necessity, of business.  My confidence left
me. There was no use in making new contracts--that was plain.  I talked
with first one prominent citizen and then another.  They all sympathized
with me, first rate, but they did not know how to help me.  But at last a
Gentile said, 'Go to Brigham Young!--these small fry cannot do you any
good.'  I did not think much of the idea, for if the law could not help
me, what could an individual do who had not even anything to do with
either making the laws or executing them?  He might be a very good
patriarch of a church and preacher in its tabernacle, but something
sterner than religion and moral suasion was needed to handle a hundred
refractory, half-civilized sub-contractors.  But what was a man to do? I
thought if Mr. Young could not do anything else, he might probably be
able to give me some advice and a valuable hint or two, and so I went
straight to him and laid the whole case before him.  He said very little,
but he showed strong interest all the way through.  He examined all the
papers in detail, and whenever there seemed anything like a hitch, either
in the papers or my statement, he would go back and take up the thread
and follow it patiently out to an intelligent and satisfactory result.
Then he made a list of the contractors' names.  Finally he said:

“'Mr. Street, this is all perfectly plain.  These contracts are strictly
and legally drawn, and are duly signed and certified.  These men
manifestly entered into them with their eyes open.  I see no fault or
flaw anywhere.'

“Then Mr. Young turned to a man waiting at the other end of the room and
said: 'Take this list of names to So-and-so, and tell him to have these
men here at such-and-such an hour.'

“They were there, to the minute.  So was I.  Mr. Young asked them a
number of questions, and their answers made my statement good.  Then he
said to them:

“'You signed these contracts and assumed these obligations of your own
free will and accord?'


“'Then carry them out to the letter, if it makes paupers of you!  Go!'

“And they did go, too!  They are strung across the deserts now, working
like bees.  And I never hear a word out of them.

“There is a batch of governors, and judges, and other officials here,
shipped from Washington, and they maintain the semblance of a republican
form of government--but the petrified truth is that Utah is an absolute
monarchy and Brigham Young is king!”

Mr. Street was a fine man, and I believe his story.  I knew him well
during several years afterward in San Francisco.

Our stay in Salt Lake City amounted to only two days, and therefore we
had no time to make the customary inquisition into the workings of
polygamy and get up the usual statistics and deductions preparatory to
calling the attention of the nation at large once more to the matter.

I had the will to do it.  With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I
was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here--until
I saw the Mormon women.  Then I was touched.  My heart was wiser than my
head.  It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically “homely”
 creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I
said, “No--the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian
charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their
harsh censure--and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of
open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered
in his presence and worship in silence.”

      [For a brief sketch of Mormon history, and the noted Mountain Meadow
      massacre, see Appendices A and B. ]


It is a luscious country for thrilling evening stories about
assassinations of intractable Gentiles.  I cannot easily conceive of
anything more cosy than the night in Salt Lake which we spent in a
Gentile den, smoking pipes and listening to tales of how Burton galloped
in among the pleading and defenceless “Morisites” and shot them down, men
and women, like so many dogs.  And how Bill Hickman, a Destroying Angel,
shot Drown and Arnold dead for bringing suit against him for a debt.
And how Porter Rockwell did this and that dreadful thing.  And how
heedless people often come to Utah and make remarks about Brigham, or
polygamy, or some other sacred matter, and the very next morning at
daylight such parties are sure to be found lying up some back alley,
contentedly waiting for the hearse.

And the next most interesting thing is to sit and listen to these
Gentiles talk about polygamy; and how some portly old frog of an elder,
or a bishop, marries a girl--likes her, marries her sister--likes her,
marries another sister--likes her, takes another--likes her, marries her
mother--likes her, marries her father, grandfather, great grandfather,
and then comes back hungry and asks for more.  And how the pert young
thing of eleven will chance to be the favorite wife and her own venerable
grandmother have to rank away down toward D 4 in their mutual husband's
esteem, and have to sleep in the kitchen, as like as not.  And how this
dreadful sort of thing, this hiving together in one foul nest of mother
and daughters, and the making a young daughter superior to her own mother
in rank and authority, are things which Mormon women submit to because
their religion teaches them that the more wives a man has on earth, and
the more children he rears, the higher the place they will all have in
the world to come--and the warmer, maybe, though they do not seem to say
anything about that.

According to these Gentile friends of ours, Brigham Young's harem
contains twenty or thirty wives.  They said that some of them had grown
old and gone out of active service, but were comfortably housed and cared
for in the henery--or the Lion House, as it is strangely named.  Along
with each wife were her children--fifty altogether.  The house was
perfectly quiet and orderly, when the children were still.  They all took
their meals in one room, and a happy and home-like sight it was
pronounced to be.  None of our party got an opportunity to take dinner
with Mr. Young, but a Gentile by the name of Johnson professed to have
enjoyed a sociable breakfast in the Lion House.  He gave a preposterous
account of the “calling of the roll,” and other preliminaries, and the
carnage that ensued when the buckwheat cakes came in.  But he embellished
rather too much.  He said that Mr. Young told him several smart sayings
of certain of his “two-year-olds,” observing with some pride that for
many years he had been the heaviest contributor in that line to one of
the Eastern magazines; and then he wanted to show Mr. Johnson one of the
pets that had said the last good thing, but he could not find the child.

He searched the faces of the children in detail, but could not decide
which one it was.  Finally he gave it up with a sigh and said:

“I thought I would know the little cub again but I don't.”  Mr. Johnson
said further, that Mr. Young observed that life was a sad, sad thing
--“because the joy of every new marriage a man contracted was so apt to be
blighted by the inopportune funeral of a less recent bride.”  And Mr.
Johnson said that while he and Mr. Young were pleasantly conversing in
private, one of the Mrs. Youngs came in and demanded a breast-pin,
remarking that she had found out that he had been giving a breast-pin to
No. 6, and she, for one, did not propose to let this partiality go on
without making a satisfactory amount of trouble about it.  Mr. Young
reminded her that there was a stranger present.  Mrs. Young said that if
the state of things inside the house was not agreeable to the stranger,
he could find room outside.  Mr. Young promised the breast-pin, and she
went away.  But in a minute or two another Mrs. Young came in and
demanded a breast-pin.  Mr. Young began a remonstrance, but Mrs. Young
cut him short.  She said No. 6 had got one, and No. 11 was promised one,
and it was “no use for him to try to impose on her--she hoped she knew
her rights.”  He gave his promise, and she went.  And presently three
Mrs. Youngs entered in a body and opened on their husband a tempest of
tears, abuse, and entreaty.  They had heard all about No. 6, No. 11, and
No. 14.  Three more breast-pins were promised.  They were hardly gone
when nine more Mrs. Youngs filed into the presence, and a new tempest
burst forth and raged round about the prophet and his guest.  Nine
breast-pins were promised, and the weird sisters filed out again.  And in
came eleven more, weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth.  Eleven
promised breast-pins purchased peace once more.

“That is a specimen,” said Mr. Young.  “You see how it is.  You see what
a life I lead.  A man can't be wise all the time.  In a heedless moment I
gave my darling No. 6--excuse my calling her thus, as her other name has
escaped me for the moment--a breast-pin.  It was only worth twenty-five
dollars--that is, apparently that was its whole cost--but its ultimate
cost was inevitably bound to be a good deal more.  You yourself have seen
it climb up to six hundred and fifty dollars--and alas, even that is not
the end!  For I have wives all over this Territory of Utah.  I have
dozens of wives whose numbers, even, I do not know without looking in the
family Bible.  They are scattered far and wide among the mountains and
valleys of my realm.  And mark you, every solitary one of them will hear
of this wretched breast pin, and every last one of them will have one or
die.  No. 6's breast pin will cost me twenty-five hundred dollars before
I see the end of it.  And these creatures will compare these pins
together, and if one is a shade finer than the rest, they will all be
thrown on my hands, and I will have to order a new lot to keep peace in
the family.  Sir, you probably did not know it, but all the time you were
present with my children your every movement was watched by vigilant
servitors of mine.  If you had offered to give a child a dime, or a stick
of candy, or any trifle of the kind, you would have been snatched out of
the house instantly, provided it could be done before your gift left your
hand.  Otherwise it would be absolutely necessary for you to make an
exactly similar gift to all my children--and knowing by experience the
importance of the thing, I would have stood by and seen to it myself that
you did it, and did it thoroughly.  Once a gentleman gave one of my
children a tin whistle--a veritable invention of Satan, sir, and one
which I have an unspeakable horror of, and so would you if you had eighty
or ninety children in your house.  But the deed was done--the man
escaped.  I knew what the result was going to be, and I thirsted for
vengeance.  I ordered out a flock of Destroying Angels, and they hunted
the man far into the fastnesses of the Nevada mountains.  But they never
caught him.  I am not cruel, sir--I am not vindictive except when sorely
outraged--but if I had caught him, sir, so help me Joseph Smith, I would
have locked him into the nursery till the brats whistled him to death.
By the slaughtered body of St. Parley Pratt (whom God assail!) there
was never anything on this earth like it!  I knew who gave the whistle to
the child, but I could, not make those jealous mothers believe me.  They
believed I did it, and the result was just what any man of reflection
could have foreseen: I had to order a hundred and ten whistles--I think
we had a hundred and ten children in the house then, but some of them are
off at college now--I had to order a hundred and ten of those shrieking
things, and I wish I may never speak another word if we didn't have to
talk on our fingers entirely, from that time forth until the children got
tired of the whistles.  And if ever another man gives a whistle to a
child of mine and I get my hands on him, I will hang him higher than
Haman!  That is the word with the bark on it!  Shade of Nephi!  You don't
know anything about married life.  I am rich, and everybody knows it.  I
am benevolent, and everybody takes advantage of it.  I have a strong
fatherly instinct and all the foundlings are foisted on me.

“Every time a woman wants to do well by her darling, she puzzles her brain
to cipher out some scheme for getting it into my hands.  Why, sir, a
woman came here once with a child of a curious lifeless sort of
complexion (and so had the woman), and swore that the child was mine and
she my wife--that I had married her at such-and-such a time in
such-and-such a place, but she had forgotten her number, and of course I
could not remember her name.  Well, sir, she called my attention to the
fact that the child looked like me, and really it did seem to resemble
me--a common thing in the Territory--and, to cut the story short, I put
it in my nursery, and she left.  And by the ghost of Orson Hyde, when
they came to wash the paint off that child it was an Injun!  Bless my
soul, you don't know anything about married life.  It is a perfect dog's
life, sir--a perfect dog's life.  You can't economize.  It isn't
possible.  I have tried keeping one set of bridal attire for all
occasions.  But it is of no use.  First you'll marry a combination of
calico and consumption that's as thin as a rail, and next you'll get a
creature that's nothing more than the dropsy in disguise, and then you've
got to eke out that bridal dress with an old balloon.  That is the way it
goes.  And think of the wash-bill--(excuse these tears)--nine hundred and
eighty-four pieces a week!  No, sir, there is no such a thing as economy
in a family like mine.  Why, just the one item of cradles--think of it!
And vermifuge! Soothing syrup!  Teething rings!  And 'papa's watches' for
the babies to play with!  And things to scratch the furniture with!  And
lucifer matches for them to eat, and pieces of glass to cut themselves
with! The item of glass alone would support your family, I venture to
say, sir. Let me scrimp and squeeze all I can, I still can't get ahead as
fast as I feel I ought to, with my opportunities.  Bless you, sir, at a
time when I had seventy-two wives in this house, I groaned under the
pressure of keeping thousands of dollars tied up in seventy-two bedsteads
when the money ought to have been out at interest; and I just sold out
the whole stock, sir, at a sacrifice, and built a bedstead seven feet
long and ninety-six feet wide.  But it was a failure, sir.  I could not
sleep. It appeared to me that the whole seventy-two women snored at once.
The roar was deafening.  And then the danger of it!  That was what I was
looking at.  They would all draw in their breath at once, and you could
actually see the walls of the house suck in--and then they would all
exhale their breath at once, and you could see the walls swell out, and
strain, and hear the rafters crack, and the shingles grind together. My
friend, take an old man's advice, and don't encumber yourself with a
large family--mind, I tell you, don't do it.  In a small family, and in a
small family only, you will find that comfort and that peace of mind
which are the best at last of the blessings this world is able to afford
us, and for the lack of which no accumulation of wealth, and no
acquisition of fame, power, and greatness can ever compensate us. Take my
word for it, ten or eleven wives is all you need--never go over it.”

Some instinct or other made me set this Johnson down as being unreliable.
And yet he was a very entertaining person, and I doubt if some of the
information he gave us could have been acquired from any other source.
He was a pleasant contrast to those reticent Mormons.


All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the “elect” have
seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it.  I brought away a
copy from Salt Lake.  The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a
pretentious affair, and yet so “slow,” so sleepy; such an insipid mess of
inspiration.  It is chloroform in print.  If Joseph Smith composed this
book, the act was a miracle--keeping awake while he did it was, at any
rate.  If he, according to tradition, merely translated it from certain
ancient and mysteriously-engraved plates of copper, which he declares he
found under a stone, in an out-of-the-way locality, the work of
translating was equally a miracle, for the same reason.

The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of imaginary history, with the
Old Testament for a model; followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New
Testament.  The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint,
old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James's translation of the
Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel--half modern glibness, and half
ancient simplicity and gravity.  The latter is awkward and constrained;
the former natural, but grotesque by the contrast.  Whenever he found his
speech growing too modern--which was about every sentence or two--he
ladled in a few such Scriptural phrases as “exceeding sore,” “and it came
to pass,” etc., and made things satisfactory again.  “And it came to
pass” was his pet.  If he had left that out, his Bible would have been
only a pamphlet.

The title-page reads as follows:


      Wherefore it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi,
      and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a
      remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile; written
      by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of
      revelation.  Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that
      they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of
      God unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni,
      and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of
      Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God.  An
      abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also; which is a record of
      the people of Jared; who were scattered at the time the Lord
      confounded the language of the people when they were building a
      tower to get to Heaven.

“Hid up” is good.  And so is “wherefore”--though why “wherefore”?  Any
other word would have answered as well--though--in truth it would not
have sounded so Scriptural.

Next comes:

      Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people unto
      whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the
      Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which
      contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and
      also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of
      Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we
      also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of
      God, for His voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a
      surety that the work is true.  And we also testify that we have seen
      the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown
      unto us by the power of God, and not of man.  And we declare with
      words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and
      he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the
      plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the
      grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld
      and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvellous in
      our eyes; nevertheless the voice of the Lord commanded us that we
      should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the
      commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things.  And we know
      that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the
      blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of
      Christ, and shall dwell with Him eternally in the heavens.  And the
      honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which
      is one God.  Amen.
                          OLIVER COWDERY,
                          DAVID WHITMER,
                          MARTIN HARRIS.

Some people have to have a world of evidence before they can come
anywhere in the neighborhood of believing anything; but for me, when a
man tells me that he has “seen the engravings which are upon the plates,”
 and not only that, but an angel was there at the time, and saw him see
them, and probably took his receipt for it, I am very far on the road to
conviction, no matter whether I ever heard of that man before or not, and
even if I do not know the name of the angel, or his nationality either.

Next is this:

      Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people unto
      whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of
      this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken,
      which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the
      said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands; and we also
      saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of
      ancient work, and of curious workmanship.  And this we bear record
      with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for
      we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith
      has got the plates of which we have spoken.  And we give our names
      unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen;
      and we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
                          CHRISTIAN WHITMER,
                          JACOB WHITMER,
                          PETER WHITMER, JR.,
                          JOHN WHITMER,
                          HIRAM PAGE,
                          JOSEPH SMITH, SR.,
                          HYRUM SMITH,
                          SAMUEL H.  SMITH.

And when I am far on the road to conviction, and eight men, be they
grammatical or otherwise, come forward and tell me that they have seen
the plates too; and not only seen those plates but “hefted” them, I am
convinced.  I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire
Whitmer family had testified.

The Mormon Bible consists of fifteen “books”--being the books of Jacob,
Enos, Jarom, Omni, Mosiah, Zeniff, Alma, Helaman, Ether, Moroni, two
“books” of Mormon, and three of Nephi.

In the first book of Nephi is a plagiarism of the Old Testament, which
gives an account of the exodus from Jerusalem of the “children of Lehi”;
and it goes on to tell of their wanderings in the wilderness, during
eight years, and their supernatural protection by one of their number, a
party by the name of Nephi.  They finally reached the land of
“Bountiful,” and camped by the sea.  After they had remained there “for
the space of many days”--which is more Scriptural than definite--Nephi
was commanded from on high to build a ship wherein to “carry the people
across the waters.”  He travestied Noah's ark--but he obeyed orders in
the matter of the plan.  He finished the ship in a single day, while his
brethren stood by and made fun of it--and of him, too--“saying, our
brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship.”  They did
not wait for the timbers to dry, but the whole tribe or nation sailed the
next day.  Then a bit of genuine nature cropped out, and is revealed by
outspoken Nephi with Scriptural frankness--they all got on a spree!
They, “and also their wives, began to make themselves merry, insomuch
that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness;
yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness.”

Nephi tried to stop these scandalous proceedings; but they tied him neck
and heels, and went on with their lark.  But observe how Nephi the
prophet circumvented them by the aid of the invisible powers:

      And it came to pass that after they had bound me, insomuch that I
      could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord,
      did cease to work; wherefore, they knew not whither they should
      steer the ship, insomuch that there arose a great storm, yea, a
      great and terrible tempest, and we were driven back upon the waters
      for the space of three days; and they began to be frightened
      exceedingly, lest they should be drowned in the sea; nevertheless
      they did not loose me.  And on the fourth day, which we had been
      driven back, the tempest began to be exceeding sore.  And it came to
      pass that we were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea.

Then they untied him.

      And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the
      compass, and it did work whither I desired it.  And it came to pass
      that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed, the winds did
      cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm.

Equipped with their compass, these ancients appear to have had the
advantage of Noah.

Their voyage was toward a “promised land”--the only name they give it.
They reached it in safety.

Polygamy is a recent feature in the Mormon religion, and was added by
Brigham Young after Joseph Smith's death.  Before that, it was regarded
as an “abomination.”  This verse from the Mormon Bible occurs in Chapter
II. of the book of Jacob:

      For behold, thus saith the Lord, this people begin to wax in
      iniquity; they understand not the Scriptures; for they seek to
      excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things
      which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.  Behold,
      David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing
      was abominable before me, saith the Lord; wherefore, thus saith the
      Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by
      the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous
      branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.  Wherefore, I the Lord
      God, will no suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.

However, the project failed--or at least the modern Mormon end of it--for
Brigham “suffers” it.  This verse is from the same chapter:

      Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate, because of their
      filthiness and the cursings which hath come upon their skins, are
      more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment
      of the Lord, which was given unto our fathers, that they should
      have, save it were one wife; and concubines they should have none.

The following verse (from Chapter IX. of the Book of Nephi) appears to
contain information not familiar to everybody:

      And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ascended into heaven,
      the multitude did disperse, and every man did take his wife and his
      children, and did return to his own home.

      And it came to pass that on the morrow, when the multitude was
      gathered together, behold, Nephi and his brother whom he had raised
      from the dead, whose name was Timothy, and also his son, whose name
      was Jonas, and also Mathoni, and Mathonihah, his brother, and Kumen,
      and Kumenenhi, and Jeremiah, and Shemnon, and Jonas, and Zedekiah,
      and Isaiah; now these were the names of the disciples whom Jesus had

In order that the reader may observe how much more grandeur and
picturesqueness (as seen by these Mormon twelve) accompanied on of the
tenderest episodes in the life of our Saviour than other eyes seem to
have been aware of, I quote the following from the same “book”--Nephi:

      And it came to pass that Jesus spake unto them, and bade them arise.
      And they arose from the earth, and He said unto them, Blessed are ye
      because of your faith.  And now behold, My joy is full.  And when He
      had said these words, He wept, and the multitude bear record of it,
      and He took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and
      prayed unto the Father for them.  And when He had done this He wept
      again, and He spake unto the multitude, and saith unto them, Behold
      your little ones.  And as they looked to behold, they cast their
      eyes toward heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw
      angels descending out of heaven as it were, in the midst of fire;
      and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they
      were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto
      them, and the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they
      know that their record is true, for they all of them did see and
      hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two
      thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women,
      and children.

And what else would they be likely to consist of?

The Book of Ether is an incomprehensible medley of if “history,” much of
it relating to battles and sieges among peoples whom the reader has
possibly never heard of; and who inhabited a country which is not set
down in the geography.  These was a King with the remarkable name of
Coriantumr, and he warred with Shared, and Lib, and Shiz, and others,
in the “plains of Heshlon”; and the “valley of Gilgal”; and the
“wilderness of Akish”; and the “land of Moran”; and the “plains of
Agosh”; and “Ogath,” and “Ramah,” and the “land of Corihor,” and the
“hill Comnor,” by “the waters of Ripliancum,” etc., etc., etc.  “And it
came to pass,” after a deal of fighting, that Coriantumr, upon making
calculation of his losses, found that “there had been slain two millions
of mighty men, and also their wives and their children”--say 5,000,000 or
6,000,000 in all--“and he began to sorrow in his heart.”  Unquestionably
it was time.  So he wrote to Shiz, asking a cessation of hostilities, and
offering to give up his kingdom to save his people.  Shiz declined,
except upon condition that Coriantumr would come and let him cut his head
off first--a thing which Coriantumr would not do.  Then there was more
fighting for a season; then four years were devoted to gathering the
forces for a final struggle--after which ensued a battle, which, I take
it, is the most remarkable set forth in history,--except, perhaps, that
of the Kilkenny cats, which it resembles in some respects.  This is the
account of the gathering and the battle:

      7.  And it came to pass that they did gather together all the
      people, upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save
      it was Ether.  And it came to pass that Ether did behold all the
      doings of the people; and he beheld that the people who were for
      Coriantumr, were gathered together to the army of Coriantumr; and
      the people who were for Shiz, were gathered together to the army of
      Shiz; wherefore they were for the space of four years gathering
      together the people, that they might get all who were upon the face
      of the land, and that they might receive all the strength which it
      was possible that they could receive.  And it came to pass that when
      they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he
      would, with their wives and their children; both men, women, and
      children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and
      breast-plates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner
      of war, they did march forth one against another, to battle; and
      they fought all that day, and conquered not.  And it came to pass
      that when it was night they were weary, and retired to their camps;
      and after they had retired to their camps, they took up a howling
      and a lamentation for the loss of the slain of their people; and so
      great were their cries, their howlings and lamentations, that it did
      rend the air exceedingly.  And it came to pass that on the morrow
      they did go again to battle, and great and terrible was that day;
      nevertheless they conquered not, and when the night came again, they
      did rend the air with their cries, and their howlings, and their
      mournings, for the loss of the slain of their people.

      8.  And it came to pass that Coriantumr wrote again an epistle unto
      Shiz, desiring that he would not come again to battle, but that he
      would take the kingdom, and spare the lives of the people.  But
      behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and
      Satan had full power over the hearts of the people, for they were
      given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of
      their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again
      to battle.  And it came to pass that they fought all that day, and
      when the night came they slept upon their swords; and on the morrow
      they fought even until the night came; and when the night came they
      were drunken with anger, even as a man who is drunken with wine; and
      they slept again upon their swords; and on the morrow they fought
      again; and when the night came they had all fallen by the sword save
      it were fifty and two of the people of Coriantumr, and sixty and
      nine of the people of Shiz.  And it came to pass that they slept
      upon their swords that night, and on the morrow they fought again,
      and they contended in their mights with their swords, and with their
      shields, all that day; and when the night came there were thirty and
      two of the people of Shiz, and twenty and seven of the people of

      9.  And it came to pass that they ate and slept, and prepared for
      death on the morrow.  And they were large and mighty men, as to the
      strength of men.  And it came to pass that they fought for the space
      of three hours, and they fainted with the loss of blood.  And it
      came to pass that when the men of Coriantumr had received sufficient
      strength, that they could walk, they were about to flee for their
      lives, but behold, Shiz arose, and also his men, and he swore in his
      wrath that he would slay Coriantumr, or he would perish by the
      sword: wherefore he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did
      overtake them; and they fought again with the sword.  And it came to
      pass that when they had all fallen by the sword, save it were
      Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with loss of blood.
      And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword,
      that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.  And it came
      to pass that after he had smote off the head of Shiz, that Shiz
      raised upon his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for
      breath, he died.  And it came to pass that Coriantumr fell to the
      earth, and became as if he had no life.  And the Lord spake unto
      Ether, and said unto him, go forth.  And he went forth, and beheld
      that the words of the Lord had all been fulfilled; and he finished
      his record; and the hundredth part I have not written.

It seems a pity he did not finish, for after all his dreary former
chapters of commonplace, he stopped just as he was in danger of becoming

The Mormon Bible is rather stupid and tiresome to read, but there is
nothing vicious in its teachings.  Its code of morals is unobjectionable
--it is “smouched” [Milton] from the New Testament and no credit given.


At the end of our two days' sojourn, we left Great Salt Lake City hearty
and well fed and happy--physically superb but not so very much wiser, as
regards the “Mormon question,” than we were when we arrived, perhaps.
We had a deal more “information” than we had before, of course, but we
did not know what portion of it was reliable and what was not--for it all
came from acquaintances of a day--strangers, strictly speaking.  We were
told, for instance, that the dreadful “Mountain Meadows Massacre” was the
work of the Indians entirely, and that the Gentiles had meanly tried to
fasten it upon the Mormons; we were told, likewise, that the Indians were
to blame, partly, and partly the Mormons; and we were told, likewise, and
just as positively, that the Mormons were almost if not wholly and
completely responsible for that most treacherous and pitiless butchery.
We got the story in all these different shapes, but it was not till
several years afterward that Mrs. Waite's book, “The Mormon Prophet,”
 came out with Judge Cradlebaugh's trial of the accused parties in it and
revealed the truth that the latter version was the correct one and that
the Mormons were the assassins.  All our “information” had three sides to
it, and so I gave up the idea that I could settle the “Mormon question”
 in two days.  Still I have seen newspaper correspondents do it in one.

I left Great Salt Lake a good deal confused as to what state of things
existed there--and sometimes even questioning in my own mind whether a
state of things existed there at all or not.  But presently I remembered
with a lightening sense of relief that we had learned two or three
trivial things there which we could be certain of; and so the two days
were not wholly lost.  For instance, we had learned that we were at last
in a pioneer land, in absolute and tangible reality.

The high prices charged for trifles were eloquent of high freights and
bewildering distances of freightage.  In the east, in those days, the
smallest moneyed denomination was a penny and it represented the smallest
purchasable quantity of any commodity.  West of Cincinnati the smallest
coin in use was the silver five-cent piece and no smaller quantity of an
article could be bought than “five cents' worth.”  In Overland City the
lowest coin appeared to be the ten-cent piece; but in Salt Lake there did
not seem to be any money in circulation smaller than a quarter, or any
smaller quantity purchasable of any commodity than twenty-five cents'
worth.  We had always been used to half dimes and “five cents' worth” as
the minimum of financial negotiations; but in Salt Lake if one wanted a
cigar, it was a quarter; if he wanted a chalk pipe, it was a quarter; if
he wanted a peach, or a candle, or a newspaper, or a shave, or a little
Gentile whiskey to rub on his corns to arrest indigestion and keep him
from having the toothache, twenty-five cents was the price, every time.
When we looked at the shot-bag of silver, now and then, we seemed to be
wasting our substance in riotous living, but if we referred to the
expense account we could see that we had not been doing anything of the

But people easily get reconciled to big money and big prices, and fond
and vain of both--it is a descent to little coins and cheap prices that
is hardest to bear and slowest to take hold upon one's toleration.  After
a month's acquaintance with the twenty-five cent minimum, the average
human being is ready to blush every time he thinks of his despicable
five-cent days.  How sunburnt with blushes I used to get in gaudy Nevada,
every time I thought of my first financial experience in Salt Lake.
It was on this wise (which is a favorite expression of great authors, and
a very neat one, too, but I never hear anybody say on this wise when they
are talking).  A young half-breed with a complexion like a yellow-jacket
asked me if I would have my boots blacked.  It was at the Salt Lake House
the morning after we arrived.  I said yes, and he blacked them.  Then I
handed him a silver five-cent piece, with the benevolent air of a person
who is conferring wealth and blessedness upon poverty and suffering.  The
yellow-jacket took it with what I judged to be suppressed emotion, and
laid it reverently down in the middle of his broad hand.  Then he began
to contemplate it, much as a philosopher contemplates a gnat's ear in the
ample field of his microscope.  Several mountaineers, teamsters,
stage-drivers, etc., drew near and dropped into the tableau and fell to
surveying the money with that attractive indifference to formality which
is noticeable in the hardy pioneer.  Presently the yellow-jacket handed
the half dime back to me and told me I ought to keep my money in my
pocket-book instead of in my soul, and then I wouldn't get it cramped and
shriveled up so!

What a roar of vulgar laughter there was!  I destroyed the mongrel
reptile on the spot, but I smiled and smiled all the time I was detaching
his scalp, for the remark he made was good for an “Injun.”

Yes, we had learned in Salt Lake to be charged great prices without
letting the inward shudder appear on the surface--for even already we had
overheard and noted the tenor of conversations among drivers, conductors,
and hostlers, and finally among citizens of Salt Lake, until we were well
aware that these superior beings despised “emigrants.”  We permitted no
tell-tale shudders and winces in our countenances, for we wanted to seem
pioneers, or Mormons, half-breeds, teamsters, stage-drivers, Mountain
Meadow assassins--anything in the world that the plains and Utah
respected and admired--but we were wretchedly ashamed of being
“emigrants,” and sorry enough that we had white shirts and could not
swear in the presence of ladies without looking the other way.

And many a time in Nevada, afterwards, we had occasion to remember with
humiliation that we were “emigrants,” and consequently a low and inferior
sort of creatures.  Perhaps the reader has visited Utah, Nevada, or
California, even in these latter days, and while communing with himself
upon the sorrowful banishment of these countries from what he considers
“the world,” has had his wings clipped by finding that he is the one to
be pitied, and that there are entire populations around him ready and
willing to do it for him--yea, who are complacently doing it for him
already, wherever he steps his foot.

Poor thing, they are making fun of his hat; and the cut of his New York
coat; and his conscientiousness about his grammar; and his feeble
profanity; and his consumingly ludicrous ignorance of ores, shafts,
tunnels, and other things which he never saw before, and never felt
enough interest in to read about.  And all the time that he is thinking
what a sad fate it is to be exiled to that far country, that lonely land,
the citizens around him are looking down on him with a blighting
compassion because he is an “emigrant” instead of that proudest and
blessedest creature that exists on all the earth, a “FORTY-NINER.”

The accustomed coach life began again, now, and by midnight it almost
seemed as if we never had been out of our snuggery among the mail sacks
at all.  We had made one alteration, however.  We had provided enough
bread, boiled ham and hard boiled eggs to last double the six hundred
miles of staging we had still to do.

And it was comfort in those succeeding days to sit up and contemplate the
majestic panorama of mountains and valleys spread out below us and eat
ham and hard boiled eggs while our spiritual natures revelled alternately
in rainbows, thunderstorms, and peerless sunsets.  Nothing helps scenery
like ham and eggs.  Ham and eggs, and after these a pipe--an old, rank,
delicious pipe--ham and eggs and scenery, a “down grade,” a flying coach,
a fragrant pipe and a contented heart--these make happiness.  It is what
all the ages have struggled for.


At eight in the morning we reached the remnant and ruin of what had been
the important military station of “Camp Floyd,” some forty-five or fifty
miles from Salt Lake City.  At four P.M.  we had doubled our distance and
were ninety or a hundred miles from Salt Lake.  And now we entered upon
one of that species of deserts whose concentrated hideousness shames the
diffused and diluted horrors of Sahara--an “alkali” desert.  For
sixty-eight miles there was but one break in it.  I do not remember that
this was really a break; indeed it seems to me that it was nothing but a
watering depot in the midst of the stretch of sixty-eight miles.  If my
memory serves me, there was no well or spring at this place, but the
water was hauled there by mule and ox teams from the further side of the
desert.  There was a stage station there.  It was forty-five miles from
the beginning of the desert, and twenty-three from the end of it.

We plowed and dragged and groped along, the whole live-long night,
and at the end of this uncomfortable twelve hours we finished the
forty-five-mile part of the desert and got to the stage station where the
imported water was.  The sun was just rising.  It was easy enough to
cross a desert in the night while we were asleep; and it was pleasant to
reflect, in the morning, that we in actual person had encountered an
absolute desert and could always speak knowingly of deserts in presence
of the ignorant thenceforward.  And it was pleasant also to reflect that
this was not an obscure, back country desert, but a very celebrated one,
the metropolis itself, as you may say.  All this was very well and very
comfortable and satisfactory--but now we were to cross a desert in
daylight.  This was fine--novel--romantic--dramatically adventurous
--this, indeed, was worth living for, worth traveling for!  We would
write home all about it.

This enthusiasm, this stern thirst for adventure, wilted under the sultry
August sun and did not last above one hour.  One poor little hour--and
then we were ashamed that we had “gushed” so.  The poetry was all in the
anticipation--there is none in the reality.  Imagine a vast, waveless
ocean stricken dead and turned to ashes; imagine this solemn waste tufted
with ash-dusted sage-bushes; imagine the lifeless silence and solitude
that belong to such a place; imagine a coach, creeping like a bug through
the midst of this shoreless level, and sending up tumbled volumes of dust
as if it were a bug that went by steam; imagine this aching monotony of
toiling and plowing kept up hour after hour, and the shore still as far
away as ever, apparently; imagine team, driver, coach and passengers so
deeply coated with ashes that they are all one colorless color; imagine
ash-drifts roosting above moustaches and eyebrows like snow accumulations
on boughs and bushes.  This is the reality of it.

The sun beats down with dead, blistering, relentless malignity; the
perspiration is welling from every pore in man and beast, but scarcely a
sign of it finds its way to the surface--it is absorbed before it gets
there; there is not the faintest breath of air stirring; there is not a
merciful shred of cloud in all the brilliant firmament; there is not a
living creature visible in any direction whither one searches the blank
level that stretches its monotonous miles on every hand; there is not a
sound--not a sigh--not a whisper--not a buzz, or a whir of wings, or
distant pipe of bird--not even a sob from the lost souls that doubtless
people that dead air.  And so the occasional sneezing of the resting
mules, and the champing of the bits, grate harshly on the grim stillness,
not dissipating the spell but accenting it and making one feel more
lonesome and forsaken than before.

The mules, under violent swearing, coaxing and whip-cracking, would make
at stated intervals a “spurt,” and drag the coach a hundred or may be two
hundred yards, stirring up a billowy cloud of dust that rolled back,
enveloping the vehicle to the wheel-tops or higher, and making it seem
afloat in a fog.  Then a rest followed, with the usual sneezing and
bit-champing.  Then another “spurt” of a hundred yards and another rest at
the end of it.  All day long we kept this up, without water for the mules
and without ever changing the team.  At least we kept it up ten hours,
which, I take it, is a day, and a pretty honest one, in an alkali desert.
It was from four in the morning till two in the afternoon.  And it was so
hot! and so close! and our water canteens went dry in the middle of the
day and we got so thirsty!  It was so stupid and tiresome and dull! and
the tedious hours did lag and drag and limp along with such a cruel
deliberation!  It was so trying to give one's watch a good long
undisturbed spell and then take it out and find that it had been fooling
away the time and not trying to get ahead any!  The alkali dust cut
through our lips, it persecuted our eyes, it ate through the delicate
membranes and made our noses bleed and kept them bleeding--and truly and
seriously the romance all faded far away and disappeared, and left the
desert trip nothing but a harsh reality--a thirsty, sweltering, longing,
hateful reality!

Two miles and a quarter an hour for ten hours--that was what we
accomplished.  It was hard to bring the comprehension away down to such a
snail-pace as that, when we had been used to making eight and ten miles
an hour.  When we reached the station on the farther verge of the desert,
we were glad, for the first time, that the dictionary was along, because
we never could have found language to tell how glad we were, in any sort
of dictionary but an unabridged one with pictures in it.  But there could
not have been found in a whole library of dictionaries language
sufficient to tell how tired those mules were after their twenty-three
mile pull.  To try to give the reader an idea of how thirsty they were,
would be to “gild refined gold or paint the lily.”

Somehow, now that it is there, the quotation does not seem to fit--but no
matter, let it stay, anyhow.  I think it is a graceful and attractive
thing, and therefore have tried time and time again to work it in where
it would fit, but could not succeed.  These efforts have kept my mind
distracted and ill at ease, and made my narrative seem broken and
disjointed, in places.  Under these circumstances it seems to me best to
leave it in, as above, since this will afford at least a temporary
respite from the wear and tear of trying to “lead up” to this really apt
and beautiful quotation.


On the morning of the sixteenth day out from St. Joseph we arrived at the
entrance of Rocky Canyon, two hundred and fifty miles from Salt Lake.
It was along in this wild country somewhere, and far from any habitation
of white men, except the stage stations, that we came across the
wretchedest type of mankind I have ever seen, up to this writing.  I
refer to the Goshoot Indians.  From what we could see and all we could
learn, they are very considerably inferior to even the despised Digger
Indians of California; inferior to all races of savages on our continent;
inferior to even the Terra del Fuegans; inferior to the Hottentots, and
actually inferior in some respects to the Kytches of Africa.  Indeed, I
have been obliged to look the bulky volumes of Wood's “Uncivilized Races
of Men” clear through in order to find a savage tribe degraded enough to
take rank with the Goshoots.  I find but one people fairly open to that
shameful verdict.  It is the Bosjesmans (Bushmen) of South Africa.  Such
of the Goshoots as we saw, along the road and hanging about the stations,
were small, lean, “scrawny” creatures; in complexion a dull black like
the ordinary American negro; their faces and hands bearing dirt which
they had been hoarding and accumulating for months, years, and even
generations, according to the age of the proprietor; a silent, sneaking,
treacherous looking race; taking note of everything, covertly, like all
the other “Noble Red Men” that we (do not) read about, and betraying no
sign in their countenances; indolent, everlastingly patient and tireless,
like all other Indians; prideless beggars--for if the beggar instinct
were left out of an Indian he would not “go,” any more than a clock
without a pendulum; hungry, always hungry, and yet never refusing
anything that a hog would eat, though often eating what a hog would
decline; hunters, but having no higher ambition than to kill and eat
jack-ass rabbits,  crickets and grasshoppers, and embezzle carrion from
the buzzards and cayotes; savages who, when asked if they have the common
Indian belief in a Great Spirit show a something which almost amounts to
emotion, thinking whiskey is referred to; a thin, scattering race of
almost naked black children, these Goshoots are, who produce nothing at
all, and have no villages, and no gatherings together into strictly
defined tribal communities--a people whose only shelter is a rag cast on
a bush to keep off a portion of the snow, and yet who inhabit one of the
most rocky, wintry, repulsive wastes that our country or any other can

The Bushmen and our Goshoots are manifestly descended from the self-same
gorilla, or kangaroo, or Norway rat, which-ever animal--Adam the
Darwinians trace them to.

One would as soon expect the rabbits to fight as the Goshoots, and yet
they used to live off the offal and refuse of the stations a few months
and then come some dark night when no mischief was expected, and burn
down the buildings and kill the men from ambush as they rushed out.
And once, in the night, they attacked the stage-coach when a District
Judge, of Nevada Territory, was the only passenger, and with their first
volley of arrows (and a bullet or two) they riddled the stage curtains,
wounded a horse or two and mortally wounded the driver.  The latter was
full of pluck, and so was his passenger.  At the driver's call Judge Mott
swung himself out, clambered to the box and seized the reins of the team,
and away they plunged, through the racing mob of skeletons and under a
hurtling storm of missiles.  The stricken driver had sunk down on the
boot as soon as he was wounded, but had held on to the reins and said he
would manage to keep hold of them until relieved.

And after they were taken from his relaxing grasp, he lay with his head
between Judge Mott's feet, and tranquilly gave directions about the road;
he said he believed he could live till the miscreants were outrun and
left behind, and that if he managed that, the main difficulty would be at
an end, and then if the Judge drove so and so (giving directions about
bad places in the road, and general course) he would reach the next
station without trouble.  The Judge distanced the enemy and at last
rattled up to the station and knew that the night's perils were done; but
there was no comrade-in-arms for him to rejoice with, for the soldierly
driver was dead.

Let us forget that we have been saying harsh things about the Overland
drivers, now.  The disgust which the Goshoots gave me, a disciple of
Cooper and a worshipper of the Red Man--even of the scholarly savages in
the “Last of the Mohicans” who are fittingly associated with backwoodsmen
who divide each sentence into two equal parts: one part critically
grammatical, refined and choice of language, and the other part just such
an attempt to talk like a hunter or a mountaineer, as a Broadway clerk
might make after eating an edition of Emerson Bennett's works and
studying frontier life at the Bowery Theatre a couple of weeks--I say
that the nausea which the Goshoots gave me, an Indian worshipper, set me
to examining authorities, to see if perchance I had been over-estimating
the Red Man while viewing him through the mellow moonshine of romance.
The revelations that came were disenchanting.  It was curious to see how
quickly the paint and tinsel fell away from him and left him treacherous,
filthy and repulsive--and how quickly the evidences accumulated that
wherever one finds an Indian tribe he has only found Goshoots more or
less modified by circumstances and surroundings--but Goshoots, after all.
They deserve pity, poor creatures; and they can have mine--at this
distance.  Nearer by, they never get anybody's.

There is an impression abroad that the Baltimore and Washington Railroad
Company and many of its employees are Goshoots; but it is an error.
There is only a plausible resemblance, which, while it is apt enough to
mislead the ignorant, cannot deceive parties who have contemplated both
tribes.  But seriously, it was not only poor wit, but very wrong to start
the report referred to above; for however innocent the motive may have
been, the necessary effect was to injure the reputation of a class who
have a hard enough time of it in the pitiless deserts of the Rocky
Mountains, Heaven knows!  If we cannot find it in our hearts to give
those poor naked creatures our Christian sympathy and compassion, in
God's name let us at least not throw mud at them.


On the seventeenth day we passed the highest mountain peaks we had yet
seen, and although the day was very warm the night that followed upon its
heels was wintry cold and blankets were next to useless.

On the eighteenth day we encountered the eastward-bound
telegraph-constructors at Reese River station and sent a message to his
Excellency Gov. Nye at Carson City (distant one hundred and fifty-six

On the nineteenth day we crossed the Great American Desert--forty
memorable miles of bottomless sand, into which the coach wheels sunk from
six inches to a foot.  We worked our passage most of the way across.
That is to say, we got out and walked.  It was a dreary pull and a long
and thirsty one, for we had no water.  From one extremity of this desert
to the other, the road was white with the bones of oxen and horses.
It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that we could have walked the
forty miles and set our feet on a bone at every step!  The desert was one
prodigious graveyard.  And the log-chains, wagon tyres, and rotting
wrecks of vehicles were almost as thick as the bones.  I think we saw
log-chains enough rusting there in the desert, to reach across any State
in the Union.  Do not these relics suggest something of an idea of the
fearful suffering and privation the early emigrants to California

At the border of the Desert lies Carson Lake, or The “Sink” of the
Carson, a shallow, melancholy sheet of water some eighty or a hundred
miles in circumference.  Carson River empties into it and is lost--sinks
mysteriously into the earth and never appears in the light of the sun
again--for the lake has no outlet whatever.

There are several rivers in Nevada, and they all have this mysterious
fate.  They end in various lakes or “sinks,” and that is the last of
them.  Carson Lake, Humboldt Lake, Walker Lake, Mono Lake, are all great
sheets of water without any visible outlet.  Water is always flowing into
them; none is ever seen to flow out of them, and yet they remain always
level full, neither receding nor overflowing.  What they do with their
surplus is only known to the Creator.

On the western verge of the Desert we halted a moment at Ragtown.  It
consisted of one log house and is not set down on the map.

This reminds me of a circumstance.  Just after we left Julesburg, on the
Platte, I was sitting with the driver, and he said:

“I can tell you a most laughable thing indeed, if you would like to
listen to it.  Horace Greeley went over this road once.  When he was
leaving Carson City he told the driver, Hank Monk, that he had an
engagement to lecture at Placerville and was very anxious to go through
quick.  Hank Monk cracked his whip and started off at an awful pace.
The coach bounced up and down in such a terrific way that it jolted the
buttons all off of Horace's coat, and finally shot his head clean through
the roof of the stage, and then he yelled at Hank Monk and begged him to
go easier--said he warn't in as much of a hurry as he was awhile ago.
But Hank Monk said, 'Keep your seat, Horace, and I'll get you there on
time'--and you bet you he did, too, what was left of him!”

A day or two after that we picked up a Denver man at the cross roads, and
he told us a good deal about the country and the Gregory Diggings.
He seemed a very entertaining person and a man well posted in the affairs
of Colorado.  By and by he remarked:

“I can tell you a most laughable thing indeed, if you would like to
listen to it.  Horace Greeley went over this road once.  When he was
leaving Carson City he told the driver, Hank Monk, that he had an
engagement to lecture at Placerville and was very anxious to go through
quick.  Hank Monk cracked his whip and started off at an awful pace.  The
coach bounced up and down in such a terrific way that it jolted the
buttons all off of Horace's coat, and finally shot his head clean through
the roof of the stage, and then he yelled at Hank Monk and begged him to
go easier--said he warn't in as much of a hurry as he was awhile ago.
But Hank Monk said, 'Keep your seat, Horace, and I'll get you there on
time!'--and you bet you he did, too, what was left of him!”

At Fort Bridger, some days after this, we took on board a cavalry
sergeant, a very proper and soldierly person indeed.  From no other man
during the whole journey, did we gather such a store of concise and
well-arranged military information.  It was surprising to find in the
desolate wilds of our country a man so thoroughly acquainted with
everything useful to know in his line of life, and yet of such inferior
rank and unpretentious bearing.  For as much as three hours we listened
to him with unabated interest.  Finally he got upon the subject of
trans-continental travel, and presently said:

“I can tell you a very laughable thing indeed, if you would like to
listen to it.  Horace Greeley went over this road once.  When he was
leaving Carson City he told the driver, Hank Monk, that he had an
engagement to lecture at Placerville and was very anxious to go through
quick.  Hank Monk cracked his whip and started off at an awful pace.  The
coach bounced up and down in such a terrific way that it jolted the
buttons all off of Horace's coat, and finally shot his head clean through
the roof of the stage, and then he yelled at Hank Monk and begged him to
go easier--said he warn't in as much of a hurry as he was awhile ago.
But Hank Monk said, 'Keep your seat, Horace, and I'll get you there on
time!'--and you bet you he did, too, what was left of him!”

When we were eight hours out from Salt Lake City a Mormon preacher got in
with us at a way station--a gentle, soft-spoken, kindly man, and one whom
any stranger would warm to at first sight.  I can never forget the pathos
that was in his voice as he told, in simple language, the story of his
people's wanderings and unpitied sufferings.  No pulpit eloquence was
ever so moving and so beautiful as this outcast's picture of the first
Mormon pilgrimage across the plains, struggling sorrowfully onward to the
land of its banishment and marking its desolate way with graves and
watering it with tears.  His words so wrought upon us that it was a
relief to us all when the conversation drifted into a more cheerful
channel and the natural features of the curious country we were in came
under treatment.  One matter after another was pleasantly discussed, and
at length the stranger said:

“I can tell you a most laughable thing indeed, if you would like to
listen to it.  Horace Greeley went over this road once.  When he was
leaving Carson City he told the driver, Hank Monk, that he had an
engagement to lecture in Placerville, and was very anxious to go through
quick.  Hank Monk cracked his whip and started off at an awful pace.  The
coach bounced up and down in such a terrific way that it jolted the
buttons all off of Horace's coat, and finally shot his head clean through
the roof of the stage, and then he yelled at Hank Monk and begged him to
go easier--said he warn't in as much of a hurry as he was awhile ago.
But Hank Monk said, 'Keep your seat, Horace, and I'll get you there on
time!'--and you bet you bet you he did, too, what was left of him!”

Ten miles out of Ragtown we found a poor wanderer who had lain down to
die.  He had walked as long as he could, but his limbs had failed him at
last.  Hunger and fatigue had conquered him.  It would have been inhuman
to leave him there.  We paid his fare to Carson and lifted him into the
coach.  It was some little time before he showed any very decided signs
of life; but by dint of chafing him and pouring brandy between his lips
we finally brought him to a languid consciousness.  Then we fed him a
little, and by and by he seemed to comprehend the situation and a
grateful light softened his eye.  We made his mail-sack bed as
comfortable as possible, and constructed a pillow for him with our coats.
He seemed very thankful.  Then he looked up in our faces, and said in a
feeble voice that had a tremble of honest emotion in it:

“Gentlemen, I know not who you are, but you have saved my life; and
although I can never be able to repay you for it, I feel that I can at
least make one hour of your long journey lighter.  I take it you are
strangers to this great thorough fare, but I am entirely familiar with
it.  In this connection I can tell you a most laughable thing indeed, if
you would like to listen to it.  Horace Greeley----”

I said, impressively:

“Suffering stranger, proceed at your peril.  You see in me the melancholy
wreck of a once stalwart and magnificent manhood.  What has brought me to
this?  That thing which you are about to tell.  Gradually but surely,
that tiresome old anecdote has sapped my strength, undermined my
constitution, withered my life.  Pity my helplessness.  Spare me only
just this once, and tell me about young George Washington and his little
hatchet for a change.”

We were saved.  But not so the invalid.  In trying to retain the anecdote
in his system he strained himself and died in our arms.

I am aware, now, that I ought not to have asked of the sturdiest citizen
of all that region, what I asked of that mere shadow of a man; for, after
seven years' residence on the Pacific coast, I know that no passenger or
driver on the Overland ever corked that anecdote in, when a stranger was
by, and survived.  Within a period of six years I crossed and recrossed
the Sierras between Nevada and California thirteen times by stage and
listened to that deathless incident four hundred and eighty-one or
eighty-two times.  I have the list somewhere.  Drivers always told it,
conductors told it, landlords told it, chance passengers told it, the
very Chinamen and vagrant Indians recounted it.  I have had the same
driver tell it to me two or three times in the same afternoon.  It has
come to me in all the multitude of tongues that Babel bequeathed to
earth, and flavored with whiskey, brandy, beer, cologne, sozodont,
tobacco, garlic, onions, grasshoppers--everything that has a fragrance to
it through all the long list of things that are gorged or guzzled by the
sons of men.  I never have smelt any anecdote as often as I have smelt
that one; never have smelt any anecdote that smelt so variegated as that
one.  And you never could learn to know it by its smell, because every
time you thought you had learned the smell of it, it would turn up with a
different smell.  Bayard Taylor has written about this hoary anecdote,
Richardson has published it; so have Jones, Smith, Johnson, Ross Browne,
and every other correspondence-inditing being that ever set his foot upon
the great overland road anywhere between Julesburg and San Francisco; and
I have heard that it is in the Talmud.  I have seen it in print in nine
different foreign languages; I have been told that it is employed in the
inquisition in Rome; and I now learn with regret that it is going to be
set to music.  I do not think that such things are right.

Stage-coaching on the Overland is no more, and stage drivers are a race
defunct.  I wonder if they bequeathed that bald-headed anecdote to their
successors, the railroad brakemen and conductors, and if these latter
still persecute the helpless passenger with it until he concludes, as did
many a tourist of other days, that the real grandeurs of the Pacific
coast are not Yo Semite and the Big Trees, but Hank Monk and his
adventure with Horace Greeley.  [And what makes that worn anecdote the
more aggravating, is, that the adventure it celebrates never occurred.
If it were a good anecdote, that seeming demerit would be its chiefest
virtue, for creative power belongs to greatness; but what ought to be
done to a man who would wantonly contrive so flat a one as this?  If I
were to suggest what ought to be done to him, I should be called
extravagant--but what does the sixteenth chapter of Daniel say?  Aha!]


We were approaching the end of our long journey.  It was the morning of
the twentieth day.  At noon we would reach Carson City, the capital of
Nevada Territory.  We were not glad, but sorry.  It had been a fine
pleasure trip; we had fed fat on wonders every day; we were now well
accustomed to stage life, and very fond of it; so the idea of coming to a
stand-still and settling down to a humdrum existence in a village was not
agreeable, but on the contrary depressing.

Visibly our new home was a desert, walled in by barren, snow-clad
mountains.  There was not a tree in sight.  There was no vegetation but
the endless sage-brush and greasewood.  All nature was gray with it.  We
were plowing through great deeps of powdery alkali dust that rose in
thick clouds and floated across the plain like smoke from a burning

We were coated with it like millers; so were the coach, the mules, the
mail-bags, the driver--we and the sage-brush and the other scenery were
all one monotonous color.  Long trains of freight wagons in the distance
envelope in ascending masses of dust suggested pictures of prairies on
fire.  These teams and their masters were the only life we saw.
Otherwise we moved in the midst of solitude, silence and desolation.
Every twenty steps we passed the skeleton of some dead beast of burthen,
with its dust-coated skin stretched tightly over its empty ribs.
Frequently a solemn raven sat upon the skull or the hips and contemplated
the passing coach with meditative serenity.

By and by Carson City was pointed out to us.  It nestled in the edge of a
great plain and was a sufficient number of miles away to look like an
assemblage of mere white spots in the shadow of a grim range of mountains
overlooking it, whose summits seemed lifted clear out of companionship
and consciousness of earthly things.

We arrived, disembarked, and the stage went on.  It was a “wooden” town;
its population two thousand souls.  The main street consisted of four or
five blocks of little white frame stores which were too high to sit down
on, but not too high for various other purposes; in fact, hardly high
enough.  They were packed close together, side by side, as if room were
scarce in that mighty plain.

The sidewalk was of boards that were more or less loose and inclined to
rattle when walked upon.  In the middle of the town, opposite the stores,
was the “plaza” which is native to all towns beyond the Rocky Mountains
--a large, unfenced, level vacancy, with a liberty pole in it, and very
useful as a place for public auctions, horse trades, and mass meetings,
and likewise for teamsters to camp in.  Two other sides of the plaza were
faced by stores, offices and stables.

The rest of Carson City was pretty scattering.

We were introduced to several citizens, at the stage-office and on the
way up to the Governor's from the hotel--among others, to a Mr. Harris,
who was on horseback; he began to say something, but interrupted himself
with the remark:

“I'll have to get you to excuse me a minute; yonder is the witness that
swore I helped to rob the California coach--a piece of impertinent
intermeddling, sir, for I am not even acquainted with the man.”

Then he rode over and began to rebuke the stranger with a six-shooter,
and the stranger began to explain with another.  When the pistols were
emptied, the stranger resumed his work (mending a whip-lash), and Mr.
Harris rode by with a polite nod, homeward bound, with a bullet through
one of his lungs, and several in his hips; and from them issued little
rivulets of blood that coursed down the horse's sides and made the animal
look quite picturesque.  I never saw Harris shoot a man after that but it
recalled to mind that first day in Carson.

This was all we saw that day, for it was two o'clock, now, and according
to custom the daily “Washoe Zephyr” set in; a soaring dust-drift about
the size of the United States set up edgewise came with it, and the
capital of Nevada Territory disappeared from view.

Still, there were sights to be seen which were not wholly uninteresting
to new comers; for the vast dust cloud was thickly freckled with things
strange to the upper air--things living and dead, that flitted hither and
thither, going and coming, appearing and disappearing among the rolling
billows of dust--hats, chickens and parasols sailing in the remote
heavens; blankets, tin signs, sage-brush and shingles a shade lower;
door-mats and buffalo robes lower still; shovels and coal scuttles on the
next grade; glass doors, cats and little children on the next; disrupted
lumber yards, light buggies and wheelbarrows on the next; and down only
thirty or forty feet above ground was a scurrying storm of emigrating
roofs and vacant lots.

It was something to see that much.  I could have seen more, if I could
have kept the dust out of my eyes.

But seriously a Washoe wind is by no means a trifling matter.  It blows
flimsy houses down, lifts shingle roofs occasionally, rolls up tin ones
like sheet music, now and then blows a stage coach over and spills the
passengers; and tradition says the reason there are so many bald people
there, is, that the wind blows the hair off their heads while they are
looking skyward after their hats.  Carson streets seldom look inactive on
Summer afternoons, because there are so many citizens skipping around
their escaping hats, like chambermaids trying to head off a spider.

The “Washoe Zephyr” (Washoe is a pet nickname for Nevada) is a peculiar
Scriptural wind, in that no man knoweth “whence it cometh.”  That is to
say, where it originates.  It comes right over the mountains from the
West, but when one crosses the ridge he does not find any of it on the
other side!  It probably is manufactured on the mountain-top for the
occasion, and starts from there.  It is a pretty regular wind, in the
summer time.  Its office hours are from two in the afternoon till two the
next morning; and anybody venturing abroad during those twelve hours
needs to allow for the wind or he will bring up a mile or two to leeward
of the point he is aiming at.  And yet the first complaint a Washoe
visitor to San Francisco makes, is that the sea winds blow so, there!
There is a good deal of human nature in that.

We found the state palace of the Governor of Nevada Territory to consist
of a white frame one-story house with two small rooms in it and a
stanchion supported shed in front--for grandeur--it compelled the respect
of the citizen and inspired the Indians with awe.  The newly arrived
Chief and Associate Justices of the Territory, and other machinery of the
government, were domiciled with less splendor.  They were boarding around
privately, and had their offices in their bedrooms.

The Secretary and I took quarters in the “ranch” of a worthy French lady
by the name of Bridget O'Flannigan, a camp follower of his Excellency the
Governor.  She had known him in his prosperity as commander-in-chief of
the Metropolitan Police of New York, and she would not desert him in his
adversity as Governor of Nevada.

Our room was on the lower floor, facing the plaza, and when we had got
our bed, a small table, two chairs, the government fire-proof safe, and
the Unabridged Dictionary into it, there was still room enough left for a
visitor--may be two, but not without straining the walls.  But the walls
could stand it--at least the partitions could, for they consisted simply
of one thickness of white “cotton domestic” stretched from corner to
corner of the room.  This was the rule in Carson--any other kind of
partition was the rare exception.  And if you stood in a dark room and
your neighbors in the next had lights, the shadows on your canvas told
queer secrets sometimes!  Very often these partitions were made of old
flour sacks basted together; and then the difference between the common
herd and the aristocracy was, that the common herd had unornamented
sacks, while the walls of the aristocrat were overpowering with
rudimental fresco--i.e., red and blue mill brands on the flour sacks.

Occasionally, also, the better classes embellished their canvas by
pasting pictures from Harper's Weekly on them.  In many cases, too, the
wealthy and the cultured rose to spittoons and other evidences of a
sumptuous and luxurious taste.  [Washoe people take a joke so hard that I
must explain that the above description was only the rule; there were
many honorable exceptions in Carson--plastered ceilings and houses that
had considerable furniture in them.--M. T.]

We had a carpet and a genuine queen's-ware washbowl.  Consequently we
were hated without reserve by the other tenants of the O'Flannigan
“ranch.”  When we added a painted oilcloth window curtain, we simply took
our lives into our own hands.  To prevent bloodshed I removed up stairs
and took up quarters with the untitled plebeians in one of the fourteen
white pine cot-bedsteads that stood in two long ranks in the one sole
room of which the second story consisted.

It was a jolly company, the fourteen.  They were principally voluntary
camp-followers of the Governor, who had joined his retinue by their own
election at New York and San Francisco and came along, feeling that in
the scuffle for little territorial crumbs and offices they could not make
their condition more precarious than it was, and might reasonably expect
to make it better.  They were popularly known as the “Irish Brigade,”
 though there were only four or five Irishmen among all the Governor's

His good-natured Excellency was much annoyed at the gossip his henchmen
created--especially when there arose a rumor that they were paid
assassins of his, brought along to quietly reduce the democratic vote
when desirable!

Mrs. O'Flannigan was boarding and lodging them at ten dollars a week
apiece, and they were cheerfully giving their notes for it.  They were
perfectly satisfied, but Bridget presently found that notes that could
not be discounted were but a feeble constitution for a Carson
boarding-house.  So she began to harry the Governor to find employment
for the “Brigade.”  Her importunities and theirs together drove him to a
gentle desperation at last, and he finally summoned the Brigade to the
presence. Then, said he:

“Gentlemen, I have planned a lucrative and useful service for you
--a service which will provide you with recreation amid noble landscapes,
and afford you never ceasing opportunities for enriching your minds by
observation and study.  I want you to survey a railroad from Carson City
westward to a certain point!  When the legislature meets I will have the
necessary bill passed and the remuneration arranged.”

“What, a railroad over the Sierra Nevada Mountains?”

“Well, then, survey it eastward to a certain point!”

He converted them into surveyors, chain-bearers and so on, and turned
them loose in the desert.  It was “recreation” with a vengeance!
Recreation on foot, lugging chains through sand and sage-brush, under a
sultry sun and among cattle bones, cayotes and tarantulas.

“Romantic adventure” could go no further.  They surveyed very slowly,
very deliberately, very carefully.  They returned every night during the
first week, dusty, footsore, tired, and hungry, but very jolly.  They
brought in great store of prodigious hairy spiders--tarantulas--and
imprisoned them in covered tumblers up stairs in the “ranch.”  After the
first week, they had to camp on the field, for they were getting well
eastward.  They made a good many inquiries as to the location of that
indefinite “certain point,” but got no information.  At last, to a
peculiarly urgent inquiry of “How far eastward?”  Governor Nye
telegraphed back:

“To the Atlantic Ocean, blast you!--and then bridge it and go on!”

This brought back the dusty toilers, who sent in a report and ceased from
their labors.  The Governor was always comfortable about it; he said Mrs.
O'Flannigan would hold him for the Brigade's board anyhow, and he
intended to get what entertainment he could out of the boys; he said,
with his old-time pleasant twinkle, that he meant to survey them into
Utah and then telegraph Brigham to hang them for trespass!

The surveyors brought back more tarantulas with them, and so we had quite
a menagerie arranged along the shelves of the room.  Some of these
spiders could straddle over a common saucer with their hairy, muscular
legs, and when their feelings were hurt, or their dignity offended, they
were the wickedest-looking desperadoes the animal world can furnish.
If their glass prison-houses were touched ever so lightly they were up
and spoiling for a fight in a minute.  Starchy?--proud?  Indeed, they
would take up a straw and pick their teeth like a member of Congress.
There was as usual a furious “zephyr” blowing the first night of the
brigade's return, and about midnight the roof of an adjoining stable blew
off, and a corner of it came crashing through the side of our ranch.
There was a simultaneous awakening, and a tumultuous muster of the
brigade in the dark, and a general tumbling and sprawling over each other
in the narrow aisle between the bedrows.  In the midst of the turmoil,
Bob H---- sprung up out of a sound sleep, and knocked down a shelf with
his head.  Instantly he shouted:

“Turn out, boys--the tarantulas is loose!”

No warning ever sounded so dreadful.  Nobody tried, any longer, to leave
the room, lest he might step on a tarantula.  Every man groped for a
trunk or a bed, and jumped on it.  Then followed the strangest silence--a
silence of grisly suspense it was, too--waiting, expectancy, fear.  It
was as dark as pitch, and one had to imagine the spectacle of those
fourteen scant-clad men roosting gingerly on trunks and beds, for not a
thing could be seen.  Then came occasional little interruptions of the
silence, and one could recognize a man and tell his locality by his
voice, or locate any other sound a sufferer made by his gropings or
changes of position.  The occasional voices were not given to much
speaking--you simply heard a gentle ejaculation of “Ow!” followed by a
solid thump, and you knew the gentleman had felt a hairy blanket or
something touch his bare skin and had skipped from a bed to the floor.
Another silence.  Presently you would hear a gasping voice say:

“Su--su--something's crawling up the back of my neck!”

Every now and then you could hear a little subdued scramble and a
sorrowful “O Lord!” and then you knew that somebody was getting away from
something he took for a tarantula, and not losing any time about it,
either.  Directly a voice in the corner rang out wild and clear:

“I've got him!  I've got him!” [Pause, and probable change of
circumstances.]  “No, he's got me!  Oh, ain't they never going to fetch a

The lantern came at that moment, in the hands of Mrs. O'Flannigan, whose
anxiety to know the amount of damage done by the assaulting roof had not
prevented her waiting a judicious interval, after getting out of bed and
lighting up, to see if the wind was done, now, up stairs, or had a larger

The landscape presented when the lantern flashed into the room was
picturesque, and might have been funny to some people, but was not to us.
Although we were perched so strangely upon boxes, trunks and beds, and so
strangely attired, too, we were too earnestly distressed and too
genuinely miserable to see any fun about it, and there was not the
semblance of a smile anywhere visible.  I know I am not capable of
suffering more than I did during those few minutes of suspense in the
dark, surrounded by those creeping, bloody-minded tarantulas.  I had
skipped from bed to bed and from box to box in a cold agony, and every
time I touched anything that was furzy I fancied I felt the fangs.  I had
rather go to war than live that episode over again.  Nobody was hurt.
The man who thought a tarantula had “got him” was mistaken--only a crack
in a box had caught his finger.  Not one of those escaped tarantulas was
ever seen again.  There were ten or twelve of them.  We took candles and
hunted the place high and low for them, but with no success.  Did we go
back to bed then?  We did nothing of the kind.  Money could not have
persuaded us to do it.  We sat up the rest of the night playing cribbage
and keeping a sharp lookout for the enemy.


It was the end of August, and the skies were cloudless and the weather
superb.  In two or three weeks I had grown wonderfully fascinated with
the curious new country and concluded to put off my return to “the
States” awhile.  I had grown well accustomed to wearing a damaged slouch
hat, blue woolen shirt, and pants crammed into boot-tops, and gloried in
the absence of coat, vest and braces.  I felt rowdyish and “bully,” (as
the historian Josephus phrases it, in his fine chapter upon the
destruction of the Temple).  It seemed to me that nothing could be so
fine and so romantic.  I had become an officer of the government, but
that was for mere sublimity.  The office was an unique sinecure.  I had
nothing to do and no salary.  I was private Secretary to his majesty the
Secretary and there was not yet writing enough for two of us.  So Johnny
K---- and I devoted our time to amusement.  He was the young son of an
Ohio nabob and was out there for recreation.  He got it.  We had heard a
world of talk about the marvellous beauty of Lake Tahoe, and finally
curiosity drove us thither to see it.  Three or four members of the
Brigade had been there and located some timber lands on its shores and
stored up a quantity of provisions in their camp.  We strapped a couple
of blankets on our shoulders and took an axe apiece and started--for we
intended to take up a wood ranch or so ourselves and become wealthy.
We were on foot.  The reader will find it advantageous to go horseback.
We were told that the distance was eleven miles.  We tramped a long time
on level ground, and then toiled laboriously up a mountain about a
thousand miles high and looked over.  No lake there.  We descended on the
other side, crossed the valley and toiled up another mountain three or
four thousand miles high, apparently, and looked over again.  No lake
yet.  We sat down tired and perspiring, and hired a couple of Chinamen to
curse those people who had beguiled us.  Thus refreshed, we presently
resumed the march with renewed vigor and determination.  We plodded on,
two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake burst upon us--a noble
sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the
level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that
towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still!  It was a vast oval,
and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling
around it.  As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly
photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the
fairest picture the whole earth affords.

We found the small skiff belonging to the Brigade boys, and without loss
of time set out across a deep bend of the lake toward the landmarks that
signified the locality of the camp.  I got Johnny to row--not because I
mind exertion myself, but because it makes me sick to ride backwards when
I am at work.  But I steered.  A three-mile pull brought us to the camp
just as the night fell, and we stepped ashore very tired and wolfishly
hungry.  In a “cache” among the rocks we found the provisions and the
cooking utensils, and then, all fatigued as I was, I sat down on a
boulder and superintended while Johnny gathered wood and cooked supper.
Many a man who had gone through what I had, would have wanted to rest.

It was a delicious supper--hot bread, fried bacon, and black coffee.
It was a delicious solitude we were in, too.  Three miles away was a
saw-mill and some workmen, but there were not fifteen other human beings
throughout the wide circumference of the lake.  As the darkness closed
down and the stars came out and spangled the great mirror with jewels, we
smoked meditatively in the solemn hush and forgot our troubles and our
pains.  In due time we spread our blankets in the warm sand between two
large boulders and soon feel asleep, careless of the procession of ants
that passed in through rents in our clothing and explored our persons.
Nothing could disturb the sleep that fettered us, for it had been fairly
earned, and if our consciences had any sins on them they had to adjourn
court for that night, any way.  The wind rose just as we were losing
consciousness, and we were lulled to sleep by the beating of the surf
upon the shore.

It is always very cold on that lake shore in the night, but we had plenty
of blankets and were warm enough.  We never moved a muscle all night, but
waked at early dawn in the original positions, and got up at once,
thoroughly refreshed, free from soreness, and brim full of friskiness.
There is no end of wholesome medicine in such an experience.  That
morning we could have whipped ten such people as we were the day before
--sick ones at any rate.  But the world is slow, and people will go to
“water cures” and “movement cures” and to foreign lands for health.
Three months of camp life on Lake Tahoe would restore an Egyptian mummy
to his pristine vigor, and give him an appetite like an alligator.  I do
not mean the oldest and driest mummies, of course, but the fresher ones.
The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and
delicious.  And why shouldn't it be?--it is the same the angels breathe.
I think that hardly any amount of fatigue can be gathered together that a
man cannot sleep off in one night on the sand by its side.  Not under a
roof, but under the sky; it seldom or never rains there in the summer
time.  I know a man who went there to die.  But he made a failure of it.
He was a skeleton when he came, and could barely stand.  He had no
appetite, and did nothing but read tracts and reflect on the future.
Three months later he was sleeping out of doors regularly, eating all he
could hold, three times a day, and chasing game over mountains three
thousand feet high for recreation.  And he was a skeleton no longer, but
weighed part of a ton.  This is no fancy sketch, but the truth.  His
disease was consumption.  I confidently commend his experience to other

I superintended again, and as soon as we had eaten breakfast we got in
the boat and skirted along the lake shore about three miles and
disembarked.  We liked the appearance of the place, and so we claimed
some three hundred acres of it and stuck our “notices” on a tree.  It was
yellow pine timber land--a dense forest of trees a hundred feet high and
from one to five feet through at the butt.  It was necessary to fence our
property or we could not hold it.  That is to say, it was necessary to
cut down trees here and there and make them fall in such a way as to form
a sort of enclosure (with pretty wide gaps in it).  We cut down three
trees apiece, and found it such heart-breaking work that we decided to
“rest our case” on those; if they held the property, well and good; if
they didn't, let the property spill out through the gaps and go; it was
no use to work ourselves to death merely to save a few acres of land.
Next day we came back to build a house--for a house was also necessary,
in order to hold the property.  We decided to build a substantial
log-house and excite the envy of the Brigade boys; but by the time we had
cut and trimmed the first log it seemed unnecessary to be so elaborate,
and so we concluded to build it of saplings.  However, two saplings, duly
cut and trimmed, compelled recognition of the fact that a still modester
architecture would satisfy the law, and so we concluded to build a
“brush” house.  We devoted the next day to this work, but we did so much
“sitting around” and discussing, that by the middle of the afternoon we
had achieved only a half-way sort of affair which one of us had to watch
while the other cut brush, lest if both turned our backs we might not be
able to find it again, it had such a strong family resemblance to the
surrounding vegetation.  But we were satisfied with it.

We were land owners now, duly seized and possessed, and within the
protection of the law.  Therefore we decided to take up our residence on
our own domain and enjoy that large sense of independence which only such
an experience can bring.  Late the next afternoon, after a good long
rest, we sailed away from the Brigade camp with all the provisions and
cooking utensils we could carry off--borrow is the more accurate word
--and just as the night was falling we beached the boat at our own landing.


If there is any life that is happier than the life we led on our timber
ranch for the next two or three weeks, it must be a sort of life which I
have not read of in books or experienced in person.  We did not see a
human being but ourselves during the time, or hear any sounds but those
that were made by the wind and the waves, the sighing of the pines, and
now and then the far-off thunder of an avalanche.  The forest about us
was dense and cool, the sky above us was cloudless and brilliant with
sunshine, the broad lake before us was glassy and clear, or rippled and
breezy, or black and storm-tossed, according to Nature's mood; and its
circling border of mountain domes, clothed with forests, scarred with
land-slides, cloven by canons and valleys, and helmeted with glittering
snow, fitly framed and finished the noble picture.  The view was always
fascinating, bewitching, entrancing.  The eye was never tired of gazing,
night or day, in calm or storm; it suffered but one grief, and that was
that it could not look always, but must close sometimes in sleep.

We slept in the sand close to the water's edge, between two protecting
boulders, which took care of the stormy night-winds for us.  We never
took any paregoric to make us sleep.  At the first break of dawn we were
always up and running foot-races to tone down excess of physical vigor
and exuberance of spirits.  That is, Johnny was--but I held his hat.
While smoking the pipe of peace after breakfast we watched the sentinel
peaks put on the glory of the sun, and followed the conquering light as
it swept down among the shadows, and set the captive crags and forests
free.  We watched the tinted pictures grow and brighten upon the water
till every little detail of forest, precipice and pinnacle was wrought in
and finished, and the miracle of the enchanter complete.  Then to

That is, drifting around in the boat.  We were on the north shore.
There, the rocks on the bottom are sometimes gray, sometimes white.
This gives the marvelous transparency of the water a fuller advantage
than it has elsewhere on the lake.  We usually pushed out a hundred yards
or so from shore, and then lay down on the thwarts, in the sun, and let
the boat drift by the hour whither it would.  We seldom talked.
It interrupted the Sabbath stillness, and marred the dreams the luxurious
rest and indolence brought.  The shore all along was indented with deep,
curved bays and coves, bordered by narrow sand-beaches; and where the
sand ended, the steep mountain-sides rose right up aloft into space--rose
up like a vast wall a little out of the perpendicular, and thickly wooded
with tall pines.

So singularly clear was the water, that where it was only twenty or
thirty feet deep the bottom was so perfectly distinct that the boat
seemed floating in the air!  Yes, where it was even eighty feet deep.
Every little pebble was distinct, every speckled trout, every
hand's-breadth of sand.  Often, as we lay on our faces, a granite
boulder, as large as a village church, would start out of the bottom
apparently, and seem climbing up rapidly to the surface, till presently
it threatened to touch our faces, and we could not resist the impulse to
seize an oar and avert the danger.  But the boat would float on, and the
boulder descend again, and then we could see that when we had been
exactly above it, it must still have been twenty or thirty feet below the
surface.  Down through the transparency of these great depths, the water
was not merely transparent, but dazzlingly, brilliantly so.  All objects
seen through it had a bright, strong vividness, not only of outline, but
of every minute detail, which they would not have had when seen simply
through the same depth of atmosphere.  So empty and airy did all spaces
seem below us, and so strong was the sense of floating high aloft in
mid-nothingness, that we called these boat-excursions “balloon-voyages.”

We fished a good deal, but we did not average one fish a week.  We could
see trout by the thousand winging about in the emptiness under us, or
sleeping in shoals on the bottom, but they would not bite--they could see
the line too plainly, perhaps.  We frequently selected the trout we
wanted, and rested the bait patiently and persistently on the end of his
nose at a depth of eighty feet, but he would only shake it off with an
annoyed manner, and shift his position.

We bathed occasionally, but the water was rather chilly, for all it
looked so sunny.  Sometimes we rowed out to the “blue water,” a mile or
two from shore.  It was as dead blue as indigo there, because of the
immense depth.  By official measurement the lake in its centre is one
thousand five hundred and twenty-five feet deep!

Sometimes, on lazy afternoons, we lolled on the sand in camp, and smoked
pipes and read some old well-worn novels.  At night, by the camp-fire, we
played euchre and seven-up to strengthen the mind--and played them with
cards so greasy and defaced that only a whole summer's acquaintance with
them could enable the student to tell the ace of clubs from the jack of

We never slept in our “house.”  It never recurred to us, for one thing;
and besides, it was built to hold the ground, and that was enough.  We
did not wish to strain it.

By and by our provisions began to run short, and we went back to the old
camp and laid in a new supply.  We were gone all day, and reached home
again about night-fall, pretty tired and hungry.  While Johnny was
carrying the main bulk of the provisions up to our “house” for future
use, I took the loaf of bread, some slices of bacon, and the coffee-pot,
ashore, set them down by a tree, lit a fire, and went back to the boat to
get the frying-pan.  While I was at this, I heard a shout from Johnny,
and looking up I saw that my fire was galloping all over the premises!
Johnny was on the other side of it.  He had to run through the flames to
get to the lake shore, and then we stood helpless and watched the

The ground was deeply carpeted with dry pine-needles, and the fire
touched them off as if they were gunpowder.  It was wonderful to see with
what fierce speed the tall sheet of flame traveled!  My coffee-pot was
gone, and everything with it.  In a minute and a half the fire seized
upon a dense growth of dry manzanita chapparal six or eight feet high,
and then the roaring and popping and crackling was something terrific.
We were driven to the boat by the intense heat, and there we remained,

Within half an hour all before us was a tossing, blinding tempest of
flame!  It went surging up adjacent ridges--surmounted them and
disappeared in the canons beyond--burst into view upon higher and farther
ridges, presently--shed a grander illumination abroad, and dove again
--flamed out again, directly, higher and still higher up the
mountain-side--threw out skirmishing parties of fire here and there, and
sent them trailing their crimson spirals away among remote ramparts and
ribs and gorges, till as far as the eye could reach the lofty
mountain-fronts were webbed as it were with a tangled network of red lava
streams. Away across the water the crags and domes were lit with a ruddy
glare, and the firmament above was a reflected hell!

Every feature of the spectacle was repeated in the glowing mirror of the
lake!  Both pictures were sublime, both were beautiful; but that in the
lake had a bewildering richness about it that enchanted the eye and held
it with the stronger fascination.

We sat absorbed and motionless through four long hours.  We never thought
of supper, and never felt fatigue.  But at eleven o'clock the
conflagration had traveled beyond our range of vision, and then darkness
stole down upon the landscape again.

Hunger asserted itself now, but there was nothing to eat.  The provisions
were all cooked, no doubt, but we did not go to see.  We were homeless
wanderers again, without any property.  Our fence was gone, our house
burned down; no insurance.  Our pine forest was well scorched, the dead
trees all burned up, and our broad acres of manzanita swept away.  Our
blankets were on our usual sand-bed, however, and so we lay down and went
to sleep.  The next morning we started back to the old camp, but while
out a long way from shore, so great a storm came up that we dared not try
to land.  So I baled out the seas we shipped, and Johnny pulled heavily
through the billows till we had reached a point three or four miles
beyond the camp.  The storm was increasing, and it became evident that it
was better to take the hazard of beaching the boat than go down in a
hundred fathoms of water; so we ran in, with tall white-caps following,
and I sat down in the stern-sheets and pointed her head-on to the shore.
The instant the bow struck, a wave came over the stern that washed crew
and cargo ashore, and saved a deal of trouble.  We shivered in the lee of
a boulder all the rest of the day, and froze all the night through.  In
the morning the tempest had gone down, and we paddled down to the camp
without any unnecessary delay.  We were so starved that we ate up the
rest of the Brigade's provisions, and then set out to Carson to tell them
about it and ask their forgiveness.  It was accorded, upon payment of

We made many trips to the lake after that, and had many a hair-breadth
escape and blood-curdling adventure which will never be recorded in any


I resolved to have a horse to ride.  I had never seen such wild, free,
magnificent horsemanship outside of a circus as these picturesquely-clad
Mexicans, Californians and Mexicanized Americans displayed in Carson
streets every day.  How they rode!  Leaning just gently forward out of
the perpendicular, easy and nonchalant, with broad slouch-hat brim blown
square up in front, and long riata swinging above the head, they swept
through the town like the wind!  The next minute they were only a sailing
puff of dust on the far desert.  If they trotted, they sat up gallantly
and gracefully, and seemed part of the horse; did not go jiggering up and
down after the silly Miss-Nancy fashion of the riding-schools.  I had
quickly learned to tell a horse from a cow, and was full of anxiety to
learn more.  I was resolved to buy a horse.

While the thought was rankling in my mind, the auctioneer came skurrying
through the plaza on a black beast that had as many humps and corners on
him as a dromedary, and was necessarily uncomely; but he was “going,
going, at twenty-two!--horse, saddle and bridle at twenty-two dollars,
gentlemen!” and I could hardly resist.

A man whom I did not know (he turned out to be the auctioneer's brother)
noticed the wistful look in my eye, and observed that that was a very
remarkable horse to be going at such a price; and added that the saddle
alone was worth the money.  It was a Spanish saddle, with ponderous
'tapidaros', and furnished with the ungainly sole-leather covering with
the unspellable name.  I said I had half a notion to bid.  Then this
keen-eyed person appeared to me to be “taking my measure”; but I
dismissed the suspicion when he spoke, for his manner was full of
guileless candor and truthfulness.  Said he:

“I know that horse--know him well.  You are a stranger, I take it, and so
you might think he was an American horse, maybe, but I assure you he is
not.  He is nothing of the kind; but--excuse my speaking in a low voice,
other people being near--he is, without the shadow of a doubt, a Genuine
Mexican Plug!”

I did not know what a Genuine Mexican Plug was, but there was something
about this man's way of saying it, that made me swear inwardly that I
would own a Genuine Mexican Plug, or die.

“Has he any other--er--advantages?”  I inquired, suppressing what
eagerness I could.

He hooked his forefinger in the pocket of my army-shirt, led me to one
side, and breathed in my ear impressively these words:

“He can out-buck anything in America!”

“Going, going, going--at twent--ty--four dollars and a half, gen--”

“Twenty-seven!” I shouted, in a frenzy.

“And sold!” said the auctioneer, and passed over the Genuine Mexican Plug
to me.

I could scarcely contain my exultation.  I paid the money, and put the
animal in a neighboring livery-stable to dine and rest himself.

In the afternoon I brought the creature into the plaza, and certain
citizens held him by the head, and others by the tail, while I mounted
him.  As soon as they let go, he placed all his feet in a bunch together,
lowered his back, and then suddenly arched it upward, and shot me
straight into the air a matter of three or four feet!  I came as straight
down again, lit in the saddle, went instantly up again, came down almost
on the high pommel, shot up again, and came down on the horse's neck--all
in the space of three or four seconds.  Then he rose and stood almost
straight up on his hind feet, and I, clasping his lean neck desperately,
slid back into the saddle and held on.  He came down, and immediately
hoisted his heels into the air, delivering a vicious kick at the sky, and
stood on his forefeet.  And then down he came once more, and began the
original exercise of shooting me straight up again.  The third time I
went up I heard a stranger say:

“Oh, don't he buck, though!”

While I was up, somebody struck the horse a sounding thwack with a
leathern strap, and when I arrived again the Genuine Mexican Plug was not
there.  A California youth chased him up and caught him, and asked if he
might have a ride.  I granted him that luxury.  He mounted the Genuine,
got lifted into the air once, but sent his spurs home as he descended,
and the horse darted away like a telegram.  He soared over three fences
like a bird, and disappeared down the road toward the Washoe Valley.

I sat down on a stone, with a sigh, and by a natural impulse one of my
hands sought my forehead, and the other the base of my stomach.  I
believe I never appreciated, till then, the poverty of the human
machinery--for I still needed a hand or two to place elsewhere.  Pen
cannot describe how I was jolted up.  Imagination cannot conceive how
disjointed I was--how internally, externally and universally I was
unsettled, mixed up and ruptured.  There was a sympathetic crowd around
me, though.

One elderly-looking comforter said:

“Stranger, you've been taken in.  Everybody in this camp knows that
horse.  Any child, any Injun, could have told you that he'd buck; he is
the very worst devil to buck on the continent of America.  You hear me.
I'm Curry.  Old Curry.  Old Abe Curry.  And moreover, he is a simon-pure,
out-and-out, genuine d--d Mexican plug, and an uncommon mean one at that,
too.  Why, you turnip, if you had laid low and kept dark, there's chances
to buy an American horse for mighty little more than you paid for that
bloody old foreign relic.”

I gave no sign; but I made up my mind that if the auctioneer's brother's
funeral took place while I was in the Territory I would postpone all
other recreations and attend it.

After a gallop of sixteen miles the Californian youth and the Genuine
Mexican Plug came tearing into town again, shedding foam-flakes like the
spume-spray that drives before a typhoon, and, with one final skip over a
wheelbarrow and a Chinaman, cast anchor in front of the “ranch.”

Such panting and blowing!  Such spreading and contracting of the red
equine nostrils, and glaring of the wild equine eye!  But was the
imperial beast subjugated?  Indeed he was not.

His lordship the Speaker of the House thought he was, and mounted him to
go down to the Capitol; but the first dash the creature made was over a
pile of telegraph poles half as high as a church; and his time to the
Capitol--one mile and three quarters--remains unbeaten to this day.  But
then he took an advantage--he left out the mile, and only did the three
quarters.  That is to say, he made a straight cut across lots, preferring
fences and ditches to a crooked road; and when the Speaker got to the
Capitol he said he had been in the air so much he felt as if he had made
the trip on a comet.

In the evening the Speaker came home afoot for exercise, and got the
Genuine towed back behind a quartz wagon.  The next day I loaned the
animal to the Clerk of the House to go down to the Dana silver mine, six
miles, and he walked back for exercise, and got the horse towed.
Everybody I loaned him to always walked back; they never could get enough
exercise any other way.

Still, I continued to loan him to anybody who was willing to borrow him,
my idea being to get him crippled, and throw him on the borrower's hands,
or killed, and make the borrower pay for him.  But somehow nothing ever
happened to him.  He took chances that no other horse ever took and
survived, but he always came out safe.  It was his daily habit to try
experiments that had always before been considered impossible, but he
always got through.  Sometimes he miscalculated a little, and did not get
his rider through intact, but he always got through himself.  Of course I
had tried to sell him; but that was a stretch of simplicity which met
with little sympathy.  The auctioneer stormed up and down the streets on
him for four days, dispersing the populace, interrupting business, and
destroying children, and never got a bid--at least never any but the
eighteen-dollar one he hired a notoriously substanceless bummer to make.
The people only smiled pleasantly, and restrained their desire to buy, if
they had any.  Then the auctioneer brought in his bill, and I withdrew
the horse from the market.  We tried to trade him off at private vendue
next, offering him at a sacrifice for second-hand tombstones, old iron,
temperance tracts--any kind of property.  But holders were stiff, and we
retired from the market again.  I never tried to ride the horse any more.
Walking was good enough exercise for a man like me, that had nothing the
matter with him except ruptures, internal injuries, and such things.
Finally I tried to give him away.  But it was a failure.  Parties said
earthquakes were handy enough on the Pacific coast--they did not wish to
own one.  As a last resort I offered him to the Governor for the use of
the “Brigade.”  His face lit up eagerly at first, but toned down again,
and he said the thing would be too palpable.

Just then the livery stable man brought in his bill for six weeks'
keeping--stall-room for the horse, fifteen dollars; hay for the horse,
two hundred and fifty!  The Genuine Mexican Plug had eaten a ton of the
article, and the man said he would have eaten a hundred if he had let

I will remark here, in all seriousness, that the regular price of hay
during that year and a part of the next was really two hundred and fifty
dollars a ton.  During a part of the previous year it had sold at five
hundred a ton, in gold, and during the winter before that there was such
scarcity of the article that in several instances small quantities had
brought eight hundred dollars a ton in coin!  The consequence might be
guessed without my telling it: peopled turned their stock loose to
starve, and before the spring arrived Carson and Eagle valleys were
almost literally carpeted with their carcases!  Any old settler there
will verify these statements.

I managed to pay the livery bill, and that same day I gave the Genuine
Mexican Plug to a passing Arkansas emigrant whom fortune delivered into
my hand.  If this ever meets his eye, he will doubtless remember the

Now whoever has had the luck to ride a real Mexican plug will recognize
the animal depicted in this chapter, and hardly consider him exaggerated
--but the uninitiated will feel justified in regarding his portrait as a
fancy sketch, perhaps.


Originally, Nevada was a part of Utah and was called Carson county; and a
pretty large county it was, too.  Certain of its valleys produced no end
of hay, and this attracted small colonies of Mormon stock-raisers and
farmers to them.  A few orthodox Americans straggled in from California,
but no love was lost between the two classes of colonists.  There was
little or no friendly intercourse; each party staid to itself.  The
Mormons were largely in the majority, and had the additional advantage of
being peculiarly under the protection of the Mormon government of the
Territory.  Therefore they could afford to be distant, and even
peremptory toward their neighbors.  One of the traditions of Carson
Valley illustrates the condition of things that prevailed at the time I
speak of.  The hired girl of one of the American families was Irish, and
a Catholic; yet it was noted with surprise that she was the only person
outside of the Mormon ring who could get favors from the Mormons.  She
asked kindnesses of them often, and always got them.  It was a mystery to
everybody.  But one day as she was passing out at the door, a large bowie
knife dropped from under her apron, and when her mistress asked for an
explanation she observed that she was going out to “borry a wash-tub from
the Mormons!”

In 1858 silver lodes were discovered in “Carson County,” and then the
aspect of things changed.  Californians began to flock in, and the
American element was soon in the majority.  Allegiance to Brigham Young
and Utah was renounced, and a temporary territorial government for
“Washoe” was instituted by the citizens.  Governor Roop was the first and
only chief magistrate of it.  In due course of time Congress passed a
bill to organize “Nevada Territory,” and President Lincoln sent out
Governor Nye to supplant Roop.

At this time the population of the Territory was about twelve or fifteen
thousand, and rapidly increasing.  Silver mines were being vigorously
developed and silver mills erected.  Business of all kinds was active and
prosperous and growing more so day by day.

The people were glad to have a legitimately constituted government, but
did not particularly enjoy having strangers from distant States put in
authority over them--a sentiment that was natural enough.  They thought
the officials should have been chosen from among themselves from among
prominent citizens who had earned a right to such promotion, and who
would be in sympathy with the populace and likewise thoroughly acquainted
with the needs of the Territory.  They were right in viewing the matter
thus, without doubt.  The new officers were “emigrants,” and that was no
title to anybody's affection or admiration either.

The new government was received with considerable coolness.  It was not
only a foreign intruder, but a poor one.  It was not even worth plucking
--except by the smallest of small fry office-seekers and such.  Everybody
knew that Congress had appropriated only twenty thousand dollars a year
in greenbacks for its support--about money enough to run a quartz mill a
month.  And everybody knew, also, that the first year's money was still
in Washington, and that the getting hold of it would be a tedious and
difficult process.  Carson City was too wary and too wise to open up a
credit account with the imported bantling with anything like indecent

There is something solemnly funny about the struggles of a new-born
Territorial government to get a start in this world.  Ours had a trying
time of it.  The Organic Act and the “instructions” from the State
Department commanded that a legislature should be elected at
such-and-such a time, and its sittings inaugurated at such-and-such a
date.  It was easy to get legislators, even at three dollars a day,
although board was four dollars and fifty cents, for distinction has its
charm in Nevada as well as elsewhere, and there were plenty of patriotic
souls out of employment; but to get a legislative hall for them to meet
in was another matter altogether.  Carson blandly declined to give a room
rent-free, or let one to the government on credit.

But when Curry heard of the difficulty, he came forward, solitary and
alone, and shouldered the Ship of State over the bar and got her afloat
again.  I refer to “Curry--Old Curry--Old Abe Curry.”  But for him the
legislature would have been obliged to sit in the desert.  He offered his
large stone building just outside the capital limits, rent-free, and it
was gladly accepted.  Then he built a horse-railroad from town to the
capitol, and carried the legislators gratis.

He also furnished pine benches and chairs for the legislature, and
covered the floors with clean saw-dust by way of carpet and spittoon
combined.  But for Curry the government would have died in its tender
infancy.  A canvas partition to separate the Senate from the House of
Representatives was put up by the Secretary, at a cost of three dollars
and forty cents, but the United States declined to pay for it.  Upon
being reminded that the “instructions” permitted the payment of a liberal
rent for a legislative hall, and that that money was saved to the country
by Mr. Curry's generosity, the United States said that did not alter the
matter, and the three dollars and forty cents would be subtracted from
the Secretary's eighteen hundred dollar salary--and it was!

The matter of printing was from the beginning an interesting feature of
the new government's difficulties.  The Secretary was sworn to obey his
volume of written “instructions,” and these commanded him to do two
certain things without fail, viz.:

1.  Get the House and Senate journals printed; and,
2.  For this work, pay one dollar and fifty cents per “thousand” for
composition, and one dollar and fifty cents per “token” for press-work,
in greenbacks.

It was easy to swear to do these two things, but it was entirely
impossible to do more than one of them.  When greenbacks had gone down to
forty cents on the dollar, the prices regularly charged everybody by
printing establishments were one dollar and fifty cents per “thousand”
 and one dollar and fifty cents per “token,” in gold.  The “instructions”
 commanded that the Secretary regard a paper dollar issued by the
government as equal to any other dollar issued by the government.  Hence
the printing of the journals was discontinued.  Then the United States
sternly rebuked the Secretary for disregarding the “instructions,” and
warned him to correct his ways.  Wherefore he got some printing done,
forwarded the bill to Washington with full exhibits of the high prices of
things in the Territory, and called attention to a printed market report
wherein it would be observed that even hay was two hundred and fifty
dollars a ton.  The United States responded by subtracting the
printing-bill from the Secretary's suffering salary--and moreover
remarked with dense gravity that he would find nothing in his
“instructions” requiring him to purchase hay!

Nothing in this world is palled in such impenetrable obscurity as a U.S.
Treasury Comptroller's understanding.  The very fires of the hereafter
could get up nothing more than a fitful glimmer in it.  In the days I
speak of he never could be made to comprehend why it was that twenty
thousand dollars would not go as far in Nevada, where all commodities
ranged at an enormous figure, as it would in the other Territories, where
exceeding cheapness was the rule.  He was an officer who looked out for
the little expenses all the time.  The Secretary of the Territory kept
his office in his bedroom, as I before remarked; and he charged the
United States no rent, although his “instructions” provided for that item
and he could have justly taken advantage of it (a thing which I would
have done with more than lightning promptness if I had been Secretary
myself).  But the United States never applauded this devotion.  Indeed, I
think my country was ashamed to have so improvident a person in its

Those “instructions” (we used to read a chapter from them every morning,
as intellectual gymnastics, and a couple of chapters in Sunday school
every Sabbath, for they treated of all subjects under the sun and had
much valuable religious matter in them along with the other statistics)
those “instructions” commanded that pen-knives, envelopes, pens and
writing-paper be furnished the members of the legislature.  So the
Secretary made the purchase and the distribution.  The knives cost three
dollars apiece.  There was one too many, and the Secretary gave it to the
Clerk of the House of Representatives.  The United States said the Clerk
of the House was not a “member” of the legislature, and took that three
dollars out of the Secretary's salary, as usual.

White men charged three or four dollars a “load” for sawing up
stove-wood.  The Secretary was sagacious enough to know that the United
States would never pay any such price as that; so he got an Indian to saw
up a load of office wood at one dollar and a half.  He made out the usual
voucher, but signed no name to it--simply appended a note explaining that
an Indian had done the work, and had done it in a very capable and
satisfactory way, but could not sign the voucher owing to lack of ability
in the necessary direction.  The Secretary had to pay that dollar and a
half.  He thought the United States would admire both his economy and his
honesty in getting the work done at half price and not putting a
pretended Indian's signature to the voucher, but the United States did
not see it in that light.

The United States was too much accustomed to employing dollar-and-a-half
thieves in all manner of official capacities to regard his explanation of
the voucher as having any foundation in fact.

But the next time the Indian sawed wood for us I taught him to make a
cross at the bottom of the voucher--it looked like a cross that had been
drunk a year--and then I “witnessed” it and it went through all right.
The United States never said a word.  I was sorry I had not made the
voucher for a thousand loads of wood instead of one.

The government of my country snubs honest simplicity but fondles artistic
villainy, and I think I might have developed into a very capable
pickpocket if I had remained in the public service a year or two.

That was a fine collection of sovereigns, that first Nevada legislature.
They levied taxes to the amount of thirty or forty thousand dollars and
ordered expenditures to the extent of about a million.  Yet they had
their little periodical explosions of economy like all other bodies of
the kind.  A member proposed to save three dollars a day to the nation by
dispensing with the Chaplain.  And yet that short-sighted man needed the
Chaplain more than any other member, perhaps, for he generally sat with
his feet on his desk, eating raw turnips, during the morning prayer.

The legislature sat sixty days, and passed private tollroad franchises
all the time.  When they adjourned it was estimated that every citizen
owned about three franchises, and it was believed that unless Congress
gave the Territory another degree of longitude there would not be room
enough to accommodate the toll-roads.  The ends of them were hanging over
the boundary line everywhere like a fringe.

The fact is, the freighting business had grown to such important
proportions that there was nearly as much excitement over suddenly
acquired toll-road fortunes as over the wonderful silver mines.


By and by I was smitten with the silver fever.  “Prospecting parties”
 were leaving for the mountains every day, and discovering and taking
possession of rich silver-bearing lodes and ledges of quartz.  Plainly
this was the road to fortune.  The great “Gould and Curry” mine was held
at three or four hundred dollars a foot when we arrived; but in two
months it had sprung up to eight hundred.  The “Ophir” had been worth
only a mere trifle, a year gone by, and now it was selling at nearly four
thousand dollars a foot!  Not a mine could be named that had not
experienced an astonishing advance in value within a short time.
Everybody was talking about these marvels.  Go where you would, you heard
nothing else, from morning till far into the night.  Tom So-and-So had
sold out of the “Amanda Smith” for $40,000--hadn't a cent when he “took
up” the ledge six months ago.  John Jones had sold half his interest in
the “Bald Eagle and Mary Ann” for $65,000, gold coin, and gone to the
States for his family.  The widow Brewster had “struck it rich” in the
“Golden Fleece” and sold ten feet for $18,000--hadn't money enough to buy
a crape bonnet when Sing-Sing Tommy killed her husband at Baldy Johnson's
wake last spring.  The “Last Chance” had found a “clay casing” and knew
they were “right on the ledge”--consequence, “feet” that went begging
yesterday were worth a brick house apiece to-day, and seedy owners who
could not get trusted for a drink at any bar in the country yesterday
were roaring drunk on champagne to-day and had hosts of warm personal
friends in a town where they had forgotten how to bow or shake hands from
long-continued want of practice.  Johnny Morgan, a common loafer, had
gone to sleep in the gutter and waked up worth a hundred thousand
dollars, in consequence of the decision in the “Lady Franklin and Rough
and Ready” lawsuit.  And so on--day in and day out the talk pelted our
ears and the excitement waxed hotter and hotter around us.

I would have been more or less than human if I had not gone mad like the
rest.  Cart-loads of solid silver bricks, as large as pigs of lead, were
arriving from the mills every day, and such sights as that gave substance
to the wild talk about me.  I succumbed and grew as frenzied as the

Every few days news would come of the discovery of a bran-new mining
region; immediately the papers would teem with accounts of its richness,
and away the surplus population would scamper to take possession.  By the
time I was fairly inoculated with the disease, “Esmeralda” had just had a
run and “Humboldt” was beginning to shriek for attention.  “Humboldt!
Humboldt!” was the new cry, and straightway Humboldt, the newest of the
new, the richest of the rich, the most marvellous of the marvellous
discoveries in silver-land was occupying two columns of the public prints
to “Esmeralda's” one.  I was just on the point of starting to Esmeralda,
but turned with the tide and got ready for Humboldt.  That the reader may
see what moved me, and what would as surely have moved him had he been
there, I insert here one of the newspaper letters of the day.  It and
several other letters from the same calm hand were the main means of
converting me.  I shall not garble the extract, but put it in just as it
appeared in the Daily Territorial Enterprise:

      But what about our mines?  I shall be candid with you.  I shall
      express an honest opinion, based upon a thorough examination.
      Humboldt county is the richest mineral region upon God's footstool.
      Each mountain range is gorged with the precious ores.  Humboldt is
      the true Golconda.

      The other day an assay of mere croppings yielded exceeding four
      thousand dollars to the ton.  A week or two ago an assay of just
      such surface developments made returns of seven thousand dollars to
      the ton.  Our mountains are full of rambling prospectors.  Each day
      and almost every hour reveals new and more startling evidences of
      the profuse and intensified wealth of our favored county.  The metal
      is not silver alone.  There are distinct ledges of auriferous ore.
      A late discovery plainly evinces cinnabar.  The coarser metals are
      in gross abundance.  Lately evidences of bituminous coal have been
      detected.  My theory has ever been that coal is a ligneous
      formation.  I told Col.  Whitman, in times past, that the
      neighborhood of Dayton (Nevada) betrayed no present or previous
      manifestations of a ligneous foundation, and that hence I had no
      confidence in his lauded coal mines.  I repeated the same doctrine
      to the exultant coal discoverers of Humboldt.  I talked with my
      friend Captain Burch on the subject.  My pyrhanism vanished upon his
      statement that in the very region referred to he had seen petrified
      trees of the length of two hundred feet.  Then is the fact
      established that huge forests once cast their grim shadows over this
      remote section.  I am firm in the coal faith.

      Have no fears of the mineral resources of Humboldt county.  They are

Let me state one or two things which will help the reader to better
comprehend certain items in the above.  At this time, our near neighbor,
Gold Hill, was the most successful silver mining locality in Nevada.  It
was from there that more than half the daily shipments of silver bricks
came.  “Very rich” (and scarce) Gold Hill ore yielded from $100 to $400
to the ton; but the usual yield was only $20 to $40 per ton--that is to
say, each hundred pounds of ore yielded from one dollar to two dollars.
But the reader will perceive by the above extract, that in Humboldt from
one fourth to nearly half the mass was silver!  That is to say, every one
hundred pounds of the ore had from two hundred dollars up to about three
hundred and fifty in it.  Some days later this same correspondent wrote:

      I have spoken of the vast and almost fabulous wealth of this
      region--it is incredible.  The intestines of our mountains are
      gorged with precious ore to plethora.  I have said that nature
      has so shaped our mountains as to furnish most excellent
      facilities for the working of our mines.  I have also told you
      that the country about here is pregnant with the finest mill
      sites in the world.  But what is the mining history of Humboldt?
      The Sheba mine is in the hands of energetic San Francisco
      capitalists.  It would seem that the ore is combined with metals
      that render it difficult of reduction with our imperfect mountain
      machinery.  The proprietors have combined the capital and labor
      hinted at in my exordium.  They are toiling and probing.  Their
      tunnel has reached the length of one hundred feet.  From primal
      assays alone, coupled with the development of the mine and public
      confidence in the continuance of effort, the stock had reared
      itself to eight hundred dollars market value.  I do not know that
      one ton of the ore has been converted into current metal.  I do
      know that there are many lodes in this section that surpass the
      Sheba in primal assay value.  Listen a moment to the calculations
      of the Sheba operators.  They purpose transporting the ore
      concentrated to Europe.  The conveyance from Star City (its
      locality) to Virginia City will cost seventy dollars per ton;
      from Virginia to San Francisco, forty dollars per ton; from
      thence to Liverpool, its destination, ten dollars per ton.  Their
      idea is that its conglomerate metals will reimburse them their
      cost of original extraction, the price of transportation, and the
      expense of reduction, and that then a ton of the raw ore will net
      them twelve hundred dollars.  The estimate may be extravagant.
      Cut it in twain, and the product is enormous, far transcending
      any previous developments of our racy Territory.

      A very common calculation is that many of our mines will yield
      five hundred dollars to the ton.  Such fecundity throws the Gould
      & Curry, the Ophir and the Mexican, of your neighborhood, in the
      darkest shadow.  I have given you the estimate of the value of a
      single developed mine.  Its richness is indexed by its market
      valuation.  The people of Humboldt county are feet crazy.  As I
      write, our towns are near deserted.  They look as languid as a
      consumptive girl.  What has become of our sinewy and athletic
      fellow-citizens?  They are coursing through ravines and over
      mountain tops.  Their tracks are visible in every direction.
      Occasionally a horseman will dash among us.  His steed betrays
      hard usage.  He alights before his adobe dwelling, hastily
      exchanges courtesies with his townsmen, hurries to an assay
      office and from thence to the District Recorder's.  In the
      morning, having renewed his provisional supplies, he is off again
      on his wild and unbeaten route.  Why, the fellow numbers already
      his feet by the thousands.  He is the horse-leech.  He has the
      craving stomach of the shark or anaconda.  He would conquer
      metallic worlds.

This was enough.  The instant we had finished reading the above article,
four of us decided to go to Humboldt.  We commenced getting ready at
once.  And we also commenced upbraiding ourselves for not deciding
sooner--for we were in terror lest all the rich mines would be found and
secured before we got there, and we might have to put up with ledges that
would not yield more than two or three hundred dollars a ton, maybe.  An
hour before, I would have felt opulent if I had owned ten feet in a Gold
Hill mine whose ore produced twenty-five dollars to the ton; now I was
already annoyed at the prospect of having to put up with mines the
poorest of which would be a marvel in Gold Hill.


Hurry, was the word!  We wasted no time.  Our party consisted of four
persons--a blacksmith sixty years of age, two young lawyers, and myself.
We bought a wagon and two miserable old horses.  We put eighteen hundred
pounds of provisions and mining tools in the wagon and drove out of
Carson on a chilly December afternoon.  The horses were so weak and old
that we soon found that it would be better if one or two of us got out
and walked.  It was an improvement.  Next, we found that it would be
better if a third man got out.  That was an improvement also.  It was at
this time that I volunteered to drive, although I had never driven a
harnessed horse before and many a man in such a position would have felt
fairly excused from such a responsibility.  But in a little while it was
found that it would be a fine thing if the drive got out and walked also.
It was at this time that I resigned the position of driver, and never
resumed it again.  Within the hour, we found that it would not only be
better, but was absolutely necessary, that we four, taking turns, two at
a time, should put our hands against the end of the wagon and push it
through the sand, leaving the feeble horses little to do but keep out of
the way and hold up the tongue.  Perhaps it is well for one to know his
fate at first, and get reconciled to it.  We had learned ours in one
afternoon.  It was plain that we had to walk through the sand and shove
that wagon and those horses two hundred miles.  So we accepted the
situation, and from that time forth we never rode.  More than that, we
stood regular and nearly constant watches pushing up behind.

We made seven miles, and camped in the desert.  Young Clagett (now member
of Congress from Montana) unharnessed and fed and watered the horses;
Oliphant and I cut sagebrush, built the fire and brought water to cook
with; and old Mr. Ballou the blacksmith did the cooking.  This division
of labor, and this appointment, was adhered to throughout the journey.
We had no tent, and so we slept under our blankets in the open plain.  We
were so tired that we slept soundly.

We were fifteen days making the trip--two hundred miles; thirteen,
rather, for we lay by a couple of days, in one place, to let the horses

We could really have accomplished the journey in ten days if we had towed
the horses behind the wagon, but we did not think of that until it was
too late, and so went on shoving the horses and the wagon too when we
might have saved half the labor.  Parties who met us, occasionally,
advised us to put the horses in the wagon, but Mr. Ballou, through whose
iron-clad earnestness no sarcasm could pierce, said that that would not
do, because the provisions were exposed and would suffer, the horses
being “bituminous from long deprivation.”  The reader will excuse me from
translating.  What Mr. Ballou customarily meant, when he used a long
word, was a secret between himself and his Maker.  He was one of the best
and kindest hearted men that ever graced a humble sphere of life.  He was
gentleness and simplicity itself--and unselfishness, too.  Although he
was more than twice as old as the eldest of us, he never gave himself any
airs, privileges, or exemptions on that account.  He did a young man's
share of the work; and did his share of conversing and entertaining from
the general stand-point of any age--not from the arrogant, overawing
summit-height of sixty years.  His one striking peculiarity was his
Partingtonian fashion of loving and using big words for their own sakes,
and independent of any bearing they might have upon the thought he was
purposing to convey.  He always let his ponderous syllables fall with an
easy unconsciousness that left them wholly without offensiveness.
In truth his air was so natural and so simple that one was always
catching himself accepting his stately sentences as meaning something,
when they really meant nothing in the world.  If a word was long and
grand and resonant, that was sufficient to win the old man's love, and he
would drop that word into the most out-of-the-way place in a sentence or
a subject, and be as pleased with it as if it were perfectly luminous
with meaning.

We four always spread our common stock of blankets together on the frozen
ground, and slept side by side; and finding that our foolish, long-legged
hound pup had a deal of animal heat in him, Oliphant got to admitting him
to the bed, between himself and Mr. Ballou, hugging the dog's warm back
to his breast and finding great comfort in it.  But in the night the pup
would get stretchy and brace his feet against the old man's back and
shove, grunting complacently the while; and now and then, being warm and
snug, grateful and happy, he would paw the old man's back simply in
excess of comfort; and at yet other times he would dream of the chase and
in his sleep tug at the old man's back hair and bark in his ear.  The old
gentleman complained mildly about these familiarities, at last, and when
he got through with his statement he said that such a dog as that was not
a proper animal to admit to bed with tired men, because he was “so
meretricious in his movements and so organic in his emotions.”  We turned
the dog out.

It was a hard, wearing, toilsome journey, but it had its bright side; for
after each day was done and our wolfish hunger appeased with a hot supper
of fried bacon, bread, molasses and black coffee, the pipe-smoking,
song-singing and yarn-spinning around the evening camp-fire in the still
solitudes of the desert was a happy, care-free sort of recreation that
seemed the very summit and culmination of earthly luxury.

It is a kind of life that has a potent charm for all men, whether city or
country-bred.  We are descended from desert-lounging Arabs, and countless
ages of growth toward perfect civilization have failed to root out of us
the nomadic instinct.  We all confess to a gratified thrill at the
thought of “camping out.”

Once we made twenty-five miles in a day, and once we made forty miles
(through the Great American Desert), and ten miles beyond--fifty in all
--in twenty-three hours, without halting to eat, drink or rest.  To stretch
out and go to sleep, even on stony and frozen ground, after pushing a
wagon and two horses fifty miles, is a delight so supreme that for the
moment it almost seems cheap at the price.

We camped two days in the neighborhood of the “Sink of the Humboldt.”
 We tried to use the strong alkaline water of the Sink, but it would not
answer.  It was like drinking lye, and not weak lye, either.  It left a
taste in the mouth, bitter and every way execrable, and a burning in the
stomach that was very uncomfortable.  We put molasses in it, but that
helped it very little; we added a pickle, yet the alkali was the
prominent taste and so it was unfit for drinking.

The coffee we made of this water was the meanest compound man has yet
invented.  It was really viler to the taste than the unameliorated water
itself.  Mr. Ballou, being the architect and builder of the beverage felt
constrained to endorse and uphold it, and so drank half a cup, by little
sips, making shift to praise it faintly the while, but finally threw out
the remainder, and said frankly it was “too technical for him.”

But presently we found a spring of fresh water, convenient, and then,
with nothing to mar our enjoyment, and no stragglers to interrupt it, we
entered into our rest.


After leaving the Sink, we traveled along the Humboldt river a little
way.  People accustomed to the monster mile-wide Mississippi, grow
accustomed to associating the term “river” with a high degree of watery
grandeur.  Consequently, such people feel rather disappointed when they
stand on the shores of the Humboldt or the Carson and find that a “river”
 in Nevada is a sickly rivulet which is just the counterpart of the Erie
canal in all respects save that the canal is twice as long and four times
as deep.  One of the pleasantest and most invigorating exercises one can
contrive is to run and jump across the Humboldt river till he is
overheated, and then drink it dry.

On the fifteenth day we completed our march of two hundred miles and
entered Unionville, Humboldt county, in the midst of a driving
snow-storm.  Unionville consisted of eleven cabins and a liberty-pole.
Six of the cabins were strung along one side of a deep canyon, and the
other five faced them.  The rest of the landscape was made up of bleak
mountain walls that rose so high into the sky from both sides of the
canyon that the village was left, as it were, far down in the bottom of a
crevice. It was always daylight on the mountain tops a long time before
the darkness lifted and revealed Unionville.

We built a small, rude cabin in the side of the crevice and roofed it
with canvas, leaving a corner open to serve as a chimney, through which
the cattle used to tumble occasionally, at night, and mash our furniture
and interrupt our sleep.  It was very cold weather and fuel was scarce.
Indians brought brush and bushes several miles on their backs; and when
we could catch a laden Indian it was well--and when we could not (which
was the rule, not the exception), we shivered and bore it.

I confess, without shame, that I expected to find masses of silver lying
all about the ground.  I expected to see it glittering in the sun on the
mountain summits.  I said nothing about this, for some instinct told me
that I might possibly have an exaggerated idea about it, and so if I
betrayed my thought I might bring derision upon myself.  Yet I was as
perfectly satisfied in my own mind as I could be of anything, that I was
going to gather up, in a day or two, or at furthest a week or two, silver
enough to make me satisfactorily wealthy--and so my fancy was already
busy with plans for spending this money.  The first opportunity that
offered, I sauntered carelessly away from the cabin, keeping an eye on
the other boys, and stopping and contemplating the sky when they seemed
to be observing me; but as soon as the coast was manifestly clear, I fled
away as guiltily as a thief might have done and never halted till I was
far beyond sight and call.  Then I began my search with a feverish
excitement that was brimful of expectation--almost of certainty.
I crawled about the ground, seizing and examining bits of stone, blowing
the dust from them or rubbing them on my clothes, and then peering at
them with anxious hope.  Presently I found a bright fragment and my heart
bounded!  I hid behind a boulder and polished it and scrutinized it with
a nervous eagerness and a delight that was more pronounced than absolute
certainty itself could have afforded.  The more I examined the fragment
the more I was convinced that I had found the door to fortune.  I marked
the spot and carried away my specimen.  Up and down the rugged mountain
side I searched, with always increasing interest and always augmenting
gratitude that I had come to Humboldt and come in time.  Of all the
experiences of my life, this secret search among the hidden treasures of
silver-land was the nearest to unmarred ecstasy.  It was a delirious

By and by, in the bed of a shallow rivulet, I found a deposit of shining
yellow scales, and my breath almost forsook me!  A gold mine, and in my
simplicity I had been content with vulgar silver!  I was so excited that
I half believed my overwrought imagination was deceiving me.  Then a fear
came upon me that people might be observing me and would guess my secret.
Moved by this thought, I made a circuit of the place, and ascended a
knoll to reconnoiter.  Solitude.  No creature was near.  Then I returned
to my mine, fortifying myself against possible disappointment, but my
fears were groundless--the shining scales were still there.  I set about
scooping them out, and for an hour I toiled down the windings of the
stream and robbed its bed.  But at last the descending sun warned me to
give up the quest, and I turned homeward laden with wealth.  As I walked
along I could not help smiling at the thought of my being so excited over
my fragment of silver when a nobler metal was almost under my nose.  In
this little time the former had so fallen in my estimation that once or
twice I was on the point of throwing it away.

The boys were as hungry as usual, but I could eat nothing.  Neither could
I talk.  I was full of dreams and far away.  Their conversation
interrupted the flow of my fancy somewhat, and annoyed me a little, too.
I despised the sordid and commonplace things they talked about.  But as
they proceeded, it began to amuse me.  It grew to be rare fun to hear
them planning their poor little economies and sighing over possible
privations and distresses when a gold mine, all our own, lay within sight
of the cabin and I could point it out at any moment.  Smothered hilarity
began to oppress me, presently.  It was hard to resist the impulse to
burst out with exultation and reveal everything; but I did resist.  I
said within myself that I would filter the great news through my lips
calmly and be serene as a summer morning while I watched its effect in
their faces.  I said:

“Where have you all been?”


“What did you find?”


“Nothing?  What do you think of the country?”

“Can't tell, yet,” said Mr. Ballou, who was an old gold miner, and had
likewise had considerable experience among the silver mines.

“Well, haven't you formed any sort of opinion?”

“Yes, a sort of a one.  It's fair enough here, may be, but overrated.
Seven thousand dollar ledges are scarce, though.

“That Sheba may be rich enough, but we don't own it; and besides, the rock
is so full of base metals that all the science in the world can't work
it.  We'll not starve, here, but we'll not get rich, I'm afraid.”

“So you think the prospect is pretty poor?”

“No name for it!”

“Well, we'd better go back, hadn't we?”

“Oh, not yet--of course not.  We'll try it a riffle, first.”

“Suppose, now--this is merely a supposition, you know--suppose you could
find a ledge that would yield, say, a hundred and fifty dollars a ton
--would that satisfy you?”

“Try us once!” from the whole party.

“Or suppose--merely a supposition, of course--suppose you were to find a
ledge that would yield two thousand dollars a ton--would that satisfy

“Here--what do you mean?  What are you coming at?  Is there some mystery
behind all this?”

“Never mind.  I am not saying anything.  You know perfectly well there
are no rich mines here--of course you do.  Because you have been around
and examined for yourselves.  Anybody would know that, that had been
around.  But just for the sake of argument, suppose--in a kind of general
way--suppose some person were to tell you that two-thousand-dollar ledges
were simply contemptible--contemptible, understand--and that right yonder
in sight of this very cabin there were piles of pure gold and pure
silver--oceans of it--enough to make you all rich in twenty-four hours!

“I should say he was as crazy as a loon!” said old Ballou, but wild with
excitement, nevertheless.

“Gentlemen,” said I, “I don't say anything--I haven't been around, you
know, and of course don't know anything--but all I ask of you is to cast
your eye on that, for instance, and tell me what you think of it!” and I
tossed my treasure before them.

There was an eager scramble for it, and a closing of heads together over
it under the candle-light.  Then old Ballou said:

“Think of it?  I think it is nothing but a lot of granite rubbish and
nasty glittering mica that isn't worth ten cents an acre!”

So vanished my dream.  So melted my wealth away.  So toppled my airy
castle to the earth and left me stricken and forlorn.

Moralizing, I observed, then, that “all that glitters is not gold.”

Mr. Ballou said I could go further than that, and lay it up among my
treasures of knowledge, that nothing that glitters is gold.  So I learned
then, once for all, that gold in its native state is but dull,
unornamental stuff, and that only low-born metals excite the admiration
of the ignorant with an ostentatious glitter.  However, like the rest of
the world, I still go on underrating men of gold and glorifying men of
mica.  Commonplace human nature cannot rise above that.


True knowledge of the nature of silver mining came fast enough.  We went
out “prospecting” with Mr. Ballou.  We climbed the mountain sides, and
clambered among sage-brush, rocks and snow till we were ready to drop
with exhaustion, but found no silver--nor yet any gold.  Day after day we
did this.  Now and then we came upon holes burrowed a few feet into the
declivities and apparently abandoned; and now and then we found one or
two listless men still burrowing.  But there was no appearance of silver.
These holes were the beginnings of tunnels, and the purpose was to drive
them hundreds of feet into the mountain, and some day tap the hidden
ledge where the silver was.  Some day!  It seemed far enough away, and
very hopeless and dreary.  Day after day we toiled, and climbed and
searched, and we younger partners grew sicker and still sicker of the
promiseless toil.  At last we halted under a beetling rampart of rock
which projected from the earth high upon the mountain.  Mr. Ballou broke
off some fragments with a hammer, and examined them long and attentively
with a small eye-glass; threw them away and broke off more; said this
rock was quartz, and quartz was the sort of rock that contained silver.
Contained it!  I had thought that at least it would be caked on the
outside of it like a kind of veneering.  He still broke off pieces and
critically examined them, now and then wetting the piece with his tongue
and applying the glass.  At last he exclaimed:

“We've got it!”

We were full of anxiety in a moment.  The rock was clean and white, where
it was broken, and across it ran a ragged thread of blue.  He said that
that little thread had silver in it, mixed with base metal, such as lead
and antimony, and other rubbish, and that there was a speck or two of
gold visible.  After a great deal of effort we managed to discern some
little fine yellow specks, and judged that a couple of tons of them
massed together might make a gold dollar, possibly.  We were not
jubilant, but Mr. Ballou said there were worse ledges in the world than
that.  He saved what he called the “richest” piece of the rock, in order
to determine its value by the process called the “fire-assay.”  Then we
named the mine “Monarch of the Mountains” (modesty of nomenclature is not
a prominent feature in the mines), and Mr. Ballou wrote out and stuck up
the following “notice,” preserving a copy to be entered upon the books in
the mining recorder's office in the town.


      “We the undersigned claim three claims, of three hundred feet each
      (and one for discovery), on this silver-bearing quartz lead or lode,
      extending north and south from this notice, with all its dips,
      spurs, and angles, variations and sinuosities, together with fifty
      feet of ground on either side for working the same.”

We put our names to it and tried to feel that our fortunes were made.
But when we talked the matter all over with Mr. Ballou, we felt depressed
and dubious.  He said that this surface quartz was not all there was of
our mine; but that the wall or ledge of rock called the “Monarch of the
Mountains,” extended down hundreds and hundreds of feet into the earth
--he illustrated by saying it was like a curb-stone, and maintained a
nearly uniform thickness-say twenty feet--away down into the bowels of
the earth, and was perfectly distinct from the casing rock on each side
of it; and that it kept to itself, and maintained its distinctive
character always, no matter how deep it extended into the earth or how
far it stretched itself through and across the hills and valleys.  He
said it might be a mile deep and ten miles long, for all we knew; and
that wherever we bored into it above ground or below, we would find gold
and silver in it, but no gold or silver in the meaner rock it was cased
between.  And he said that down in the great depths of the ledge was its
richness, and the deeper it went the richer it grew.  Therefore, instead
of working here on the surface, we must either bore down into the rock
with a shaft till we came to where it was rich--say a hundred feet or so
--or else we must go down into the valley and bore a long tunnel into the
mountain side and tap the ledge far under the earth.  To do either was
plainly the labor of months; for we could blast and bore only a few feet
a day--some five or six.  But this was not all.  He said that after we
got the ore out it must be hauled in wagons to a distant silver-mill,
ground up, and the silver extracted by a tedious and costly process.  Our
fortune seemed a century away!

But we went to work.  We decided to sink a shaft.  So, for a week we
climbed the mountain, laden with picks, drills, gads, crowbars, shovels,
cans of blasting powder and coils of fuse and strove with might and main.
At first the rock was broken and loose and we dug it up with picks and
threw it out with shovels, and the hole progressed very well.  But the
rock became more compact, presently, and gads and crowbars came into
play.  But shortly nothing could make an impression but blasting powder.

That was the weariest work!  One of us held the iron drill in its place
and another would strike with an eight-pound sledge--it was like driving
nails on a large scale.  In the course of an hour or two the drill would
reach a depth of two or three feet, making a hole a couple of inches in
diameter.  We would put in a charge of powder, insert half a yard of
fuse, pour in sand and gravel and ram it down, then light the fuse and
run.  When the explosion came and the rocks and smoke shot into the air,
we would go back and find about a bushel of that hard, rebellious quartz
jolted out.  Nothing more.  One week of this satisfied me.  I resigned.
Clagget and Oliphant followed.  Our shaft was only twelve feet deep.  We
decided that a tunnel was the thing we wanted.

So we went down the mountain side and worked a week; at the end of which
time we had blasted a tunnel about deep enough to hide a hogshead in, and
judged that about nine hundred feet more of it would reach the ledge.
I resigned again, and the other boys only held out one day longer.
We decided that a tunnel was not what we wanted.  We wanted a ledge that
was already “developed.”  There were none in the camp.

We dropped the “Monarch” for the time being.

Meantime the camp was filling up with people, and there was a constantly
growing excitement about our Humboldt mines.  We fell victims to the
epidemic and strained every nerve to acquire more “feet.”  We prospected
and took up new claims, put “notices” on them and gave them grandiloquent
names.  We traded some of our “feet” for “feet” in other people's claims.
In a little while we owned largely in the “Gray Eagle,” the “Columbiana,”
 the “Branch Mint,” the “Maria Jane,” the “Universe,” the
“Root-Hog-or-Die,” the “Samson and Delilah,” the “Treasure Trove,” the
“Golconda,” the “Sultana,” the “Boomerang,” the “Great Republic,” the
“Grand Mogul,” and fifty other “mines” that had never been molested by a
shovel or scratched with a pick.  We had not less than thirty thousand
“feet” apiece in the “richest mines on earth” as the frenzied cant
phrased it--and were in debt to the butcher.  We were stark mad with
excitement--drunk with happiness--smothered under mountains of
prospective wealth--arrogantly compassionate toward the plodding millions
who knew not our marvellous canyon--but our credit was not good at the

It was the strangest phase of life one can imagine.  It was a beggars'
revel.  There was nothing doing in the district--no mining--no milling
--no productive effort--no income--and not enough money in the entire camp
to buy a corner lot in an eastern village, hardly; and yet a stranger
would have supposed he was walking among bloated millionaires.
Prospecting parties swarmed out of town with the first flush of dawn, and
swarmed in again at nightfall laden with spoil--rocks.  Nothing but
rocks.  Every man's pockets were full of them; the floor of his cabin was
littered with them; they were disposed in labeled rows on his shelves.


I met men at every turn who owned from one thousand to thirty thousand
“feet” in undeveloped silver mines, every single foot of which they
believed would shortly be worth from fifty to a thousand dollars--and as
often as any other way they were men who had not twenty-five dollars in
the world.  Every man you met had his new mine to boast of, and his
“specimens” ready; and if the opportunity offered, he would infallibly
back you into a corner and offer as a favor to you, not to him, to part
with just a few feet in the “Golden Age,” or the “Sarah Jane,” or some
other unknown stack of croppings, for money enough to get a “square meal”
 with, as the phrase went.  And you were never to reveal that he had made
you the offer at such a ruinous price, for it was only out of friendship
for you that he was willing to make the sacrifice.  Then he would fish a
piece of rock out of his pocket, and after looking mysteriously around as
if he feared he might be waylaid and robbed if caught with such wealth in
his possession, he would dab the rock against his tongue, clap an
eyeglass to it, and exclaim:

“Look at that!  Right there in that red dirt!  See it?  See the specks of
gold?  And the streak of silver?  That's from the Uncle Abe.  There's a
hundred thousand tons like that in sight!  Right in sight, mind you!
And when we get down on it and the ledge comes in solid, it will be the
richest thing in the world!  Look at the assay!  I don't want you to
believe me--look at the assay!”

Then he would get out a greasy sheet of paper which showed that the
portion of rock assayed had given evidence of containing silver and gold
in the proportion of so many hundreds or thousands of dollars to the ton.

I little knew, then, that the custom was to hunt out the richest piece of
rock and get it assayed!  Very often, that piece, the size of a filbert,
was the only fragment in a ton that had a particle of metal in it--and
yet the assay made it pretend to represent the average value of the ton
of rubbish it came from!

On such a system of assaying as that, the Humboldt world had gone crazy.
On the authority of such assays its newspaper correspondents were
frothing about rock worth four and seven thousand dollars a ton!

And does the reader remember, a few pages back, the calculations, of a
quoted correspondent, whereby the ore is to be mined and shipped all the
way to England, the metals extracted, and the gold and silver contents
received back by the miners as clear profit, the copper, antimony and
other things in the ore being sufficient to pay all the expenses
incurred?  Everybody's head was full of such “calculations” as those
--such raving insanity, rather.  Few people took work into their
calculations--or outlay of money either; except the work and expenditures
of other people.

We never touched our tunnel or our shaft again.  Why?  Because we judged
that we had learned the real secret of success in silver mining--which
was, not to mine the silver ourselves by the sweat of our brows and the
labor of our hands, but to sell the ledges to the dull slaves of toil and
let them do the mining!

Before leaving Carson, the Secretary and I had purchased “feet” from
various Esmeralda stragglers.  We had expected immediate returns of
bullion, but were only afflicted with regular and constant “assessments”
 instead--demands for money wherewith to develop the said mines.  These
assessments had grown so oppressive that it seemed necessary to look into
the matter personally.  Therefore I projected a pilgrimage to Carson and
thence to Esmeralda.  I bought a horse and started, in company with
Mr. Ballou and a gentleman named Ollendorff, a Prussian--not the party
who has inflicted so much suffering on the world with his wretched
foreign grammars, with their interminable repetitions of questions which
never have occurred and are never likely to occur in any conversation
among human beings.  We rode through a snow-storm for two or three days,
and arrived at “Honey Lake Smith's,” a sort of isolated inn on the Carson
river.  It was a two-story log house situated on a small knoll in the
midst of the vast basin or desert through which the sickly Carson winds
its melancholy way.  Close to the house were the Overland stage stables,
built of sun-dried bricks.  There was not another building within several
leagues of the place.  Towards sunset about twenty hay-wagons arrived and
camped around the house and all the teamsters came in to supper--a very,
very rough set.  There were one or two Overland stage drivers there,
also, and half a dozen vagabonds and stragglers; consequently the house
was well crowded.

We walked out, after supper, and visited a small Indian camp in the
vicinity.  The Indians were in a great hurry about something, and were
packing up and getting away as fast as they could.  In their broken
English they said, “By'm-by, heap water!” and by the help of signs made
us understand that in their opinion a flood was coming.  The weather was
perfectly clear, and this was not the rainy season.  There was about a
foot of water in the insignificant river--or maybe two feet; the stream
was not wider than a back alley in a village, and its banks were scarcely
higher than a man's head.

So, where was the flood to come from?  We canvassed the subject awhile
and then concluded it was a ruse, and that the Indians had some better
reason for leaving in a hurry than fears of a flood in such an
exceedingly dry time.

At seven in the evening we went to bed in the second story--with our
clothes on, as usual, and all three in the same bed, for every available
space on the floors, chairs, etc., was in request, and even then there
was barely room for the housing of the inn's guests.  An hour later we
were awakened by a great turmoil, and springing out of bed we picked our
way nimbly among the ranks of snoring teamsters on the floor and got to
the front windows of the long room.  A glance revealed a strange
spectacle, under the moonlight.  The crooked Carson was full to the brim,
and its waters were raging and foaming in the wildest way--sweeping
around the sharp bends at a furious speed, and bearing on their surface a
chaos of logs, brush and all sorts of rubbish.  A depression, where its
bed had once been, in other times, was already filling, and in one or two
places the water was beginning to wash over the main bank.  Men were
flying hither and thither, bringing cattle and wagons close up to the
house, for the spot of high ground on which it stood extended only some
thirty feet in front and about a hundred in the rear.  Close to the old
river bed just spoken of, stood a little log stable, and in this our
horses were lodged.

While we looked, the waters increased so fast in this place that in a few
minutes a torrent was roaring by the little stable and its margin
encroaching steadily on the logs.  We suddenly realized that this flood
was not a mere holiday spectacle, but meant damage--and not only to the
small log stable but to the Overland buildings close to the main river,
for the waves had now come ashore and were creeping about the foundations
and invading the great hay-corral adjoining.  We ran down and joined the
crowd of excited men and frightened animals.  We waded knee-deep into the
log stable, unfastened the horses and waded out almost waist-deep, so
fast the waters increased.  Then the crowd rushed in a body to the
hay-corral and began to tumble down the huge stacks of baled hay and roll
the bales up on the high ground by the house.  Meantime it was discovered
that Owens, an overland driver, was missing, and a man ran to the large
stable, and wading in, boot-top deep, discovered him asleep in his bed,
awoke him, and waded out again.  But Owens was drowsy and resumed his
nap; but only for a minute or two, for presently he turned in his bed,
his hand dropped over the side and came in contact with the cold water!
It was up level with the mattress!  He waded out, breast-deep, almost,
and the next moment the sun-burned bricks melted down like sugar and the
big building crumbled to a ruin and was washed away in a twinkling.

At eleven o'clock only the roof of the little log stable was out of
water, and our inn was on an island in mid-ocean.  As far as the eye
could reach, in the moonlight, there was no desert visible, but only a
level waste of shining water.  The Indians were true prophets, but how
did they get their information?  I am not able to answer the question.
We remained cooped up eight days and nights with that curious crew.
Swearing, drinking and card playing were the order of the day, and
occasionally a fight was thrown in for variety.  Dirt and vermin--but let
us forget those features; their profusion is simply inconceivable--it is
better that they remain so.

There were two men----however, this chapter is long enough.


There were two men in the company who caused me particular discomfort.
One was a little Swede, about twenty-five years old, who knew only one
song, and he was forever singing it.  By day we were all crowded into one
small, stifling bar-room, and so there was no escaping this person's
music.  Through all the profanity, whisky-guzzling, “old sledge” and
quarreling, his monotonous song meandered with never a variation in its
tiresome sameness, and it seemed to me, at last, that I would be content
to die, in order to be rid of the torture.  The other man was a stalwart
ruffian called “Arkansas,” who carried two revolvers in his belt and a
bowie knife projecting from his boot, and who was always drunk and always
suffering for a fight.  But he was so feared, that nobody would
accommodate him.  He would try all manner of little wary ruses to entrap
somebody into an offensive remark, and his face would light up now and
then when he fancied he was fairly on the scent of a fight, but
invariably his victim would elude his toils and then he would show a
disappointment that was almost pathetic.  The landlord, Johnson, was a
meek, well-meaning fellow, and Arkansas fastened on him early, as a
promising subject, and gave him no rest day or night, for awhile.  On the
fourth morning, Arkansas got drunk and sat himself down to wait for an
opportunity.  Presently Johnson came in, just comfortably sociable with
whisky, and said:

“I reckon the Pennsylvania 'lection--”

Arkansas raised his finger impressively and Johnson stopped.  Arkansas
rose unsteadily and confronted him.  Said he:

“Wha-what do you know a--about Pennsylvania?  Answer me that.  Wha--what
do you know 'bout Pennsylvania?”

“I was only goin' to say--”

“You was only goin' to say.  You was!  You was only goin' to say--what
was you goin' to say?  That's it!  That's what I want to know.  I want to
know wha--what you ['ic) what you know about Pennsylvania, since you're
makin' yourself so d---d free.  Answer me that!”

“Mr. Arkansas, if you'd only let me--”

“Who's a henderin' you?  Don't you insinuate nothing agin me!--don't you
do it.  Don't you come in here bullyin' around, and cussin' and goin' on
like a lunatic--don't you do it.  'Coz I won't stand it.  If fight's what
you want, out with it!  I'm your man!  Out with it!”

Said Johnson, backing into a corner, Arkansas following, menacingly:

“Why, I never said nothing, Mr. Arkansas.  You don't give a man no
chance.  I was only goin' to say that Pennsylvania was goin' to have an
election next week--that was all--that was everything I was goin' to say
--I wish I may never stir if it wasn't.”

“Well then why d'n't you say it?  What did you come swellin' around that
way for, and tryin' to raise trouble?”

“Why I didn't come swellin' around, Mr. Arkansas--I just--”

“I'm a liar am I!  Ger-reat Caesar's ghost--”

“Oh, please, Mr. Arkansas, I never meant such a thing as that, I wish I
may die if I did.  All the boys will tell you that I've always spoke well
of you, and respected you more'n any man in the house.  Ask Smith.  Ain't
it so, Smith?  Didn't I say, no longer ago than last night, that for a
man that was a gentleman all the time and every way you took him, give me
Arkansas?  I'll leave it to any gentleman here if them warn't the very
words I used.  Come, now, Mr. Arkansas, le's take a drink--le's shake
hands and take a drink.  Come up--everybody!  It's my treat.  Come up,
Bill, Tom, Bob, Scotty--come up.  I want you all to take a drink with me
and Arkansas--old Arkansas, I call him--bully old Arkansas.  Gimme your
hand agin.  Look at him, boys--just take a look at him.  Thar stands the
whitest man in America!--and the man that denies it has got to fight me,
that's all.  Gimme that old flipper agin!”

They embraced, with drunken affection on the landlord's part and
unresponsive toleration on the part of Arkansas, who, bribed by a drink,
was disappointed of his prey once more.  But the foolish landlord was so
happy to have escaped butchery, that he went on talking when he ought to
have marched himself out of danger.  The consequence was that Arkansas
shortly began to glower upon him dangerously, and presently said:

“Lan'lord, will you p-please make that remark over agin if you please?”

“I was a-sayin' to Scotty that my father was up'ards of eighty year old
when he died.”

“Was that all that you said?”

“Yes, that was all.”

“Didn't say nothing but that?”


Then an uncomfortable silence.

Arkansas played with his glass a moment, lolling on his elbows on the
counter.  Then he meditatively scratched his left shin with his right
boot, while the awkward silence continued.  But presently he loafed away
toward the stove, looking dissatisfied; roughly shouldered two or three
men out of a comfortable position; occupied it himself, gave a sleeping
dog a kick that sent him howling under a bench, then spread his long legs
and his blanket-coat tails apart and proceeded to warm his back.  In a
little while he fell to grumbling to himself, and soon he slouched back
to the bar and said:

“Lan'lord, what's your idea for rakin' up old personalities and blowin'
about your father?  Ain't this company agreeable to you?  Ain't it?  If
this company ain't agreeable to you, p'r'aps we'd better leave.  Is that
your idea?  Is that what you're coming at?”

“Why bless your soul, Arkansas, I warn't thinking of such a thing.  My
father and my mother--”

“Lan'lord, don't crowd a man!  Don't do it.  If nothing'll do you but a
disturbance, out with it like a man ['ic)--but don't rake up old bygones
and fling'em in the teeth of a passel of people that wants to be
peaceable if they could git a chance.  What's the matter with you this
mornin', anyway?  I never see a man carry on so.”

“Arkansas, I reely didn't mean no harm, and I won't go on with it if it's
onpleasant to you.  I reckon my licker's got into my head, and what with
the flood, and havin' so many to feed and look out for--”

“So that's what's a-ranklin' in your heart, is it?  You want us to leave
do you?  There's too many on us.  You want us to pack up and swim.  Is
that it?  Come!”

“Please be reasonable, Arkansas.  Now you know that I ain't the man to--”

“Are you a threatenin' me?  Are you?  By George, the man don't live that
can skeer me!  Don't you try to come that game, my chicken--'cuz I can
stand a good deal, but I won't stand that.  Come out from behind that bar
till I clean you!  You want to drive us out, do you, you sneakin'
underhanded hound!  Come out from behind that bar!  I'll learn you to
bully and badger and browbeat a gentleman that's forever trying to
befriend you and keep you out of trouble!”

“Please, Arkansas, please don't shoot!  If there's got to be bloodshed--”

“Do you hear that, gentlemen?  Do you hear him talk about bloodshed?  So
it's blood you want, is it, you ravin' desperado!  You'd made up your
mind to murder somebody this mornin'--I knowed it perfectly well.  I'm
the man, am I?  It's me you're goin' to murder, is it?  But you can't do
it 'thout I get one chance first, you thievin' black-hearted,
white-livered son of a nigger!  Draw your weepon!”

With that, Arkansas began to shoot, and the landlord to clamber over
benches, men and every sort of obstacle in a frantic desire to escape.
In the midst of the wild hubbub the landlord crashed through a glass
door, and as Arkansas charged after him the landlord's wife suddenly
appeared in the doorway and confronted the desperado with a pair of
scissors!  Her fury was magnificent.  With head erect and flashing eye
she stood a moment and then advanced, with her weapon raised.  The
astonished ruffian hesitated, and then fell back a step.  She followed.
She backed him step by step into the middle of the bar-room, and then,
while the wondering crowd closed up and gazed, she gave him such another
tongue-lashing as never a cowed and shamefaced braggart got before,
perhaps!  As she finished and retired victorious, a roar of applause
shook the house, and every man ordered “drinks for the crowd” in one and
the same breath.

The lesson was entirely sufficient.  The reign of terror was over, and
the Arkansas domination broken for good.  During the rest of the season
of island captivity, there was one man who sat apart in a state of
permanent humiliation, never mixing in any quarrel or uttering a boast,
and never resenting the insults the once cringing crew now constantly
leveled at him, and that man was “Arkansas.”

By the fifth or sixth morning the waters had subsided from the land, but
the stream in the old river bed was still high and swift and there was no
possibility of crossing it.  On the eighth it was still too high for an
entirely safe passage, but life in the inn had become next to
insupportable by reason of the dirt, drunkenness, fighting, etc., and so
we made an effort to get away.  In the midst of a heavy snow-storm we
embarked in a canoe, taking our saddles aboard and towing our horses
after us by their halters.  The Prussian, Ollendorff, was in the bow,
with a paddle, Ballou paddled in the middle, and I sat in the stern
holding the halters.  When the horses lost their footing and began to
swim, Ollendorff got frightened, for there was great danger that the
horses would make our aim uncertain, and it was plain that if we failed
to land at a certain spot the current would throw us off and almost
surely cast us into the main Carson, which was a boiling torrent, now.
Such a catastrophe would be death, in all probability, for we would be
swept to sea in the “Sink” or overturned and drowned.  We warned
Ollendorff to keep his wits about him and handle himself carefully, but
it was useless; the moment the bow touched the bank, he made a spring and
the canoe whirled upside down in ten-foot water.

Ollendorff seized some brush and dragged himself ashore, but Ballou and I
had to swim for it, encumbered with our overcoats.  But we held on to the
canoe, and although we were washed down nearly to the Carson, we managed
to push the boat ashore and make a safe landing.  We were cold and
water-soaked, but safe.  The horses made a landing, too, but our saddles
were gone, of course.  We tied the animals in the sage-brush and there
they had to stay for twenty-four hours.  We baled out the canoe and
ferried over some food and blankets for them, but we slept one more night
in the inn before making another venture on our journey.

The next morning it was still snowing furiously when we got away with our
new stock of saddles and accoutrements.  We mounted and started.  The
snow lay so deep on the ground that there was no sign of a road
perceptible, and the snow-fall was so thick that we could not see more
than a hundred yards ahead, else we could have guided our course by the
mountain ranges.  The case looked dubious, but Ollendorff said his
instinct was as sensitive as any compass, and that he could “strike a
bee-line” for Carson city and never diverge from it.  He said that if he
were to straggle a single point out of the true line his instinct would
assail him like an outraged conscience.  Consequently we dropped into his
wake happy and content.  For half an hour we poked along warily enough,
but at the end of that time we came upon a fresh trail, and Ollendorff
shouted proudly:

“I knew I was as dead certain as a compass, boys!  Here we are, right in
somebody's tracks that will hunt the way for us without any trouble.
Let's hurry up and join company with the party.”

So we put the horses into as much of a trot as the deep snow would allow,
and before long it was evident that we were gaining on our predecessors,
for the tracks grew more distinct.  We hurried along, and at the end of
an hour the tracks looked still newer and fresher--but what surprised us
was, that the number of travelers in advance of us seemed to steadily
increase.  We wondered how so large a party came to be traveling at such
a time and in such a solitude.  Somebody suggested that it must be a
company of soldiers from the fort, and so we accepted that solution and
jogged along a little faster still, for they could not be far off now.
But the tracks still multiplied, and we began to think the platoon of
soldiers was miraculously expanding into a regiment--Ballou said they had
already increased to five hundred!  Presently he stopped his horse and

“Boys, these are our own tracks, and we've actually been circussing round
and round in a circle for more than two hours, out here in this blind
desert!  By George this is perfectly hydraulic!”

Then the old man waxed wroth and abusive.  He called Ollendorff all
manner of hard names--said he never saw such a lurid fool as he was, and
ended with the peculiarly venomous opinion that he “did not know as much
as a logarythm!”

We certainly had been following our own tracks.  Ollendorff and his
“mental compass” were in disgrace from that moment.

After all our hard travel, here we were on the bank of the stream again,
with the inn beyond dimly outlined through the driving snow-fall.  While
we were considering what to do, the young Swede landed from the canoe and
took his pedestrian way Carson-wards, singing his same tiresome song
about his “sister and his brother” and “the child in the grave with its
mother,” and in a short minute faded and disappeared in the white
oblivion.  He was never heard of again.  He no doubt got bewildered and
lost, and Fatigue delivered him over to Sleep and Sleep betrayed him to
Death.  Possibly he followed our treacherous tracks till he became
exhausted and dropped.

Presently the Overland stage forded the now fast receding stream and
started toward Carson on its first trip since the flood came.  We
hesitated no longer, now, but took up our march in its wake, and trotted
merrily along, for we had good confidence in the driver's bump of
locality.  But our horses were no match for the fresh stage team.  We
were soon left out of sight; but it was no matter, for we had the deep
ruts the wheels made for a guide.  By this time it was three in the
afternoon, and consequently it was not very long before night came--and
not with a lingering twilight, but with a sudden shutting down like a
cellar door, as is its habit in that country.  The snowfall was still as
thick as ever, and of course we could not see fifteen steps before us;
but all about us the white glare of the snow-bed enabled us to discern
the smooth sugar-loaf mounds made by the covered sage-bushes, and just in
front of us the two faint grooves which we knew were the steadily filling
and slowly disappearing wheel-tracks.

Now those sage-bushes were all about the same height--three or four feet;
they stood just about seven feet apart, all over the vast desert; each of
them was a mere snow-mound, now; in any direction that you proceeded (the
same as in a well laid out orchard) you would find yourself moving down a
distinctly defined avenue, with a row of these snow-mounds an either side
of it--an avenue the customary width of a road, nice and level in its
breadth, and rising at the sides in the most natural way, by reason of
the mounds.  But we had not thought of this.  Then imagine the chilly
thrill that shot through us when it finally occurred to us, far in the
night, that since the last faint trace of the wheel-tracks had long ago
been buried from sight, we might now be wandering down a mere sage-brush
avenue, miles away from the road and diverging further and further away
from it all the time.  Having a cake of ice slipped down one's back is
placid comfort compared to it.  There was a sudden leap and stir of blood
that had been asleep for an hour, and as sudden a rousing of all the
drowsing activities in our minds and bodies.  We were alive and awake at
once--and shaking and quaking with consternation, too.  There was an
instant halting and dismounting, a bending low and an anxious scanning of
the road-bed.  Useless, of course; for if a faint depression could not be
discerned from an altitude of four or five feet above it, it certainly
could not with one's nose nearly against it.


We seemed to be in a road, but that was no proof.  We tested this by
walking off in various directions--the regular snow-mounds and the
regular avenues between them convinced each man that he had found the
true road, and that the others had found only false ones.  Plainly the
situation was desperate.  We were cold and stiff and the horses were
tired.  We decided to build a sage-brush fire and camp out till morning.
This was wise, because if we were wandering from the right road and the
snow-storm continued another day our case would be the next thing to
hopeless if we kept on.

All agreed that a camp fire was what would come nearest to saving us,
now, and so we set about building it.  We could find no matches, and so
we tried to make shift with the pistols.  Not a man in the party had ever
tried to do such a thing before, but not a man in the party doubted that
it could be done, and without any trouble--because every man in the party
had read about it in books many a time and had naturally come to believe
it, with trusting simplicity, just as he had long ago accepted and
believed that other common book-fraud about Indians and lost hunters
making a fire by rubbing two dry sticks together.

We huddled together on our knees in the deep snow, and the horses put
their noses together and bowed their patient heads over us; and while the
feathery flakes eddied down and turned us into a group of white statuary,
we proceeded with the momentous experiment.  We broke twigs from a sage
bush and piled them on a little cleared place in the shelter of our
bodies.  In the course of ten or fifteen minutes all was ready, and then,
while conversation ceased and our pulses beat low with anxious suspense,
Ollendorff applied his revolver, pulled the trigger and blew the pile
clear out of the county!  It was the flattest failure that ever was.

This was distressing, but it paled before a greater horror--the horses
were gone!  I had been appointed to hold the bridles, but in my absorbing
anxiety over the pistol experiment I had unconsciously dropped them and
the released animals had walked off in the storm.  It was useless to try
to follow them, for their footfalls could make no sound, and one could
pass within two yards of the creatures and never see them.  We gave them
up without an effort at recovering them, and cursed the lying books that
said horses would stay by their masters for protection and companionship
in a distressful time like ours.

We were miserable enough, before; we felt still more forlorn, now.
Patiently, but with blighted hope, we broke more sticks and piled them,
and once more the Prussian shot them into annihilation.  Plainly, to
light a fire with a pistol was an art requiring practice and experience,
and the middle of a desert at midnight in a snow-storm was not a good
place or time for the acquiring of the accomplishment.  We gave it up and
tried the other.  Each man took a couple of sticks and fell to chafing
them together.  At the end of half an hour we were thoroughly chilled,
and so were the sticks.  We bitterly execrated the Indians, the hunters
and the books that had betrayed us with the silly device, and wondered
dismally what was next to be done.  At this critical moment Mr. Ballou
fished out four matches from the rubbish of an overlooked pocket.  To
have found four gold bars would have seemed poor and cheap good luck
compared to this.

One cannot think how good a match looks under such circumstances--or how
lovable and precious, and sacredly beautiful to the eye.  This time we
gathered sticks with high hopes; and when Mr. Ballou prepared to light
the first match, there was an amount of interest centred upon him that
pages of writing could not describe.  The match burned hopefully a
moment, and then went out.  It could not have carried more regret with it
if it had been a human life.  The next match simply flashed and died.
The wind puffed the third one out just as it was on the imminent verge of
success.  We gathered together closer than ever, and developed a
solicitude that was rapt and painful, as Mr. Ballou scratched our last
hope on his leg.  It lit, burned blue and sickly, and then budded into a
robust flame.  Shading it with his hands, the old gentleman bent
gradually down and every heart went with him--everybody, too, for that
matter--and blood and breath stood still.  The flame touched the sticks
at last, took gradual hold upon them--hesitated--took a stronger hold
--hesitated again--held its breath five heart-breaking seconds, then gave a
sort of human gasp and went out.

Nobody said a word for several minutes.  It was a solemn sort of silence;
even the wind put on a stealthy, sinister quiet, and made no more noise
than the falling flakes of snow.  Finally a sad-voiced conversation
began, and it was soon apparent that in each of our hearts lay the
conviction that this was our last night with the living.  I had so hoped
that I was the only one who felt so.  When the others calmly acknowledged
their conviction, it sounded like the summons itself.  Ollendorff said:

“Brothers, let us die together.  And let us go without one hard feeling
towards each other.  Let us forget and forgive bygones.  I know that you
have felt hard towards me for turning over the canoe, and for knowing too
much and leading you round and round in the snow--but I meant well;
forgive me.  I acknowledge freely that I have had hard feelings against
Mr. Ballou for abusing me and calling me a logarythm, which is a thing I
do not know what, but no doubt a thing considered disgraceful and
unbecoming in America, and it has scarcely been out of my mind and has
hurt me a great deal--but let it go; I forgive Mr. Ballou with all my
heart, and--”

Poor Ollendorff broke down and the tears came.  He was not alone, for I
was crying too, and so was Mr. Ballou.  Ollendorff got his voice again
and forgave me for things I had done and said.  Then he got out his
bottle of whisky and said that whether he lived or died he would never
touch another drop.  He said he had given up all hope of life, and
although ill-prepared, was ready to submit humbly to his fate; that he
wished he could be spared a little longer, not for any selfish reason,
but to make a thorough reform in his character, and by devoting himself
to helping the poor, nursing the sick, and pleading with the people to
guard themselves against the evils of intemperance, make his life a
beneficent example to the young, and lay it down at last with the
precious reflection that it had not been lived in vain.  He ended by
saying that his reform should begin at this moment, even here in the
presence of death, since no longer time was to be vouchsafed wherein to
prosecute it to men's help and benefit--and with that he threw away the
bottle of whisky.

Mr. Ballou made remarks of similar purport, and began the reform he could
not live to continue, by throwing away the ancient pack of cards that had
solaced our captivity during the flood and made it bearable.

He said he never gambled, but still was satisfied that the meddling with
cards in any way was immoral and injurious, and no man could be wholly
pure and blemishless without eschewing them.  “And therefore,” continued
he, “in doing this act I already feel more in sympathy with that
spiritual saturnalia necessary to entire and obsolete reform.”  These
rolling syllables touched him as no intelligible eloquence could have
done, and the old man sobbed with a mournfulness not unmingled with

My own remarks were of the same tenor as those of my comrades, and I know
that the feelings that prompted them were heartfelt and sincere.  We were
all sincere, and all deeply moved and earnest, for we were in the
presence of death and without hope.  I threw away my pipe, and in doing
it felt that at last I was free of a hated vice and one that had ridden
me like a tyrant all my days.  While I yet talked, the thought of the
good I might have done in the world and the still greater good I might
now do, with these new incentives and higher and better aims to guide me
if I could only be spared a few years longer, overcame me and the tears
came again.  We put our arms about each other's necks and awaited the
warning drowsiness that precedes death by freezing.

It came stealing over us presently, and then we bade each other a last
farewell.  A delicious dreaminess wrought its web about my yielding
senses, while the snow-flakes wove a winding sheet about my conquered
body.  Oblivion came.  The battle of life was done.


I do not know how long I was in a state of forgetfulness, but it seemed
an age.  A vague consciousness grew upon me by degrees, and then came a
gathering anguish of pain in my limbs and through all my body.  I
shuddered.  The thought flitted through my brain, “this is death--this is
the hereafter.”

Then came a white upheaval at my side, and a voice said, with bitterness:

“Will some gentleman be so good as to kick me behind?”

It was Ballou--at least it was a towzled snow image in a sitting posture,
with Ballou's voice.

I rose up, and there in the gray dawn, not fifteen steps from us, were
the frame buildings of a stage station, and under a shed stood our still
saddled and bridled horses!

An arched snow-drift broke up, now, and Ollendorff emerged from it, and
the three of us sat and stared at the houses without speaking a word.
We really had nothing to say.  We were like the profane man who could not
“do the subject justice,” the whole situation was so painfully ridiculous
and humiliating that words were tame and we did not know where to
commence anyhow.

The joy in our hearts at our deliverance was poisoned; well-nigh
dissipated, indeed.  We presently began to grow pettish by degrees, and
sullen; and then, angry at each other, angry at ourselves, angry at
everything in general, we moodily dusted the snow from our clothing and
in unsociable single file plowed our way to the horses, unsaddled them,
and sought shelter in the station.

I have scarcely exaggerated a detail of this curious and absurd
adventure.  It occurred almost exactly as I have stated it.  We actually
went into camp in a snow-drift in a desert, at midnight in a storm,
forlorn and hopeless, within fifteen steps of a comfortable inn.

For two hours we sat apart in the station and ruminated in disgust.
The mystery was gone, now, and it was plain enough why the horses had
deserted us.  Without a doubt they were under that shed a quarter of a
minute after they had left us, and they must have overheard and enjoyed
all our confessions and lamentations.

After breakfast we felt better, and the zest of life soon came back.
The world looked bright again, and existence was as dear to us as ever.
Presently an uneasiness came over me--grew upon me--assailed me without
ceasing.  Alas, my regeneration was not complete--I wanted to smoke!
I resisted with all my strength, but the flesh was weak.  I wandered away
alone and wrestled with myself an hour.  I recalled my promises of reform
and preached to myself persuasively, upbraidingly, exhaustively.  But it
was all vain, I shortly found myself sneaking among the snow-drifts
hunting for my pipe.  I discovered it after a considerable search, and
crept away to hide myself and enjoy it.  I remained behind the barn a
good while, asking myself how I would feel if my braver, stronger, truer
comrades should catch me in my degradation.  At last I lit the pipe, and
no human being can feel meaner and baser than I did then.  I was ashamed
of being in my own pitiful company.  Still dreading discovery, I felt
that perhaps the further side of the barn would be somewhat safer, and so
I turned the corner.  As I turned the one corner, smoking, Ollendorff
turned the other with his bottle to his lips, and between us sat
unconscious Ballou deep in a game of “solitaire” with the old greasy

Absurdity could go no farther.  We shook hands and agreed to say no more
about “reform” and “examples to the rising generation.”

The station we were at was at the verge of the Twenty-six-Mile Desert.
If we had approached it half an hour earlier the night before, we must
have heard men shouting there and firing pistols; for they were expecting
some sheep drovers and their flocks and knew that they would infallibly
get lost and wander out of reach of help unless guided by sounds.

While we remained at the station, three of the drovers arrived, nearly
exhausted with their wanderings, but two others of their party were never
heard of afterward.

We reached Carson in due time, and took a rest.  This rest, together with
preparations for the journey to Esmeralda, kept us there a week, and the
delay gave us the opportunity to be present at the trial of the great
land-slide case of Hyde vs. Morgan--an episode which is famous in Nevada
to this day.  After a word or two of necessary explanation, I will set
down the history of this singular affair just as it transpired.


The mountains are very high and steep about Carson, Eagle and Washoe
Valleys--very high and very steep, and so when the snow gets to melting
off fast in the Spring and the warm surface-earth begins to moisten and
soften, the disastrous land-slides commence.  The reader cannot know what
a land-slide is, unless he has lived in that country and seen the whole
side of a mountain taken off some fine morning and deposited down in the
valley, leaving a vast, treeless, unsightly scar upon the mountain's
front to keep the circumstance fresh in his memory all the years that he
may go on living within seventy miles of that place.

General Buncombe was shipped out to Nevada in the invoice of Territorial
officers, to be United States Attorney.  He considered himself a lawyer
of parts, and he very much wanted an opportunity to manifest it--partly
for the pure gratification of it and partly because his salary was
Territorially meagre (which is a strong expression).  Now the older
citizens of a new territory look down upon the rest of the world with a
calm, benevolent compassion, as long as it keeps out of the way--when it
gets in the way they snub it.  Sometimes this latter takes the shape of a
practical joke.

One morning Dick Hyde rode furiously up to General Buncombe's door in
Carson city and rushed into his presence without stopping to tie his
horse.  He seemed much excited.  He told the General that he wanted him
to conduct a suit for him and would pay him five hundred dollars if he
achieved a victory.  And then, with violent gestures and a world of
profanity, he poured out his grief.  He said it was pretty well known
that for some years he had been farming (or ranching as the more
customary term is) in Washoe District, and making a successful thing of
it, and furthermore it was known that his ranch was situated just in the
edge of the valley, and that Tom Morgan owned a ranch immediately above
it on the mountain side.

And now the trouble was, that one of those hated and dreaded land-slides
had come and slid Morgan's ranch, fences, cabins, cattle, barns and
everything down on top of his ranch and exactly covered up every single
vestige of his property, to a depth of about thirty-eight feet.  Morgan
was in possession and refused to vacate the premises--said he was
occupying his own cabin and not interfering with anybody else's--and said
the cabin was standing on the same dirt and same ranch it had always
stood on, and he would like to see anybody make him vacate.

“And when I reminded him,” said Hyde, weeping, “that it was on top of my
ranch and that he was trespassing, he had the infernal meanness to ask me
why didn't I stay on my ranch and hold possession when I see him
a-coming!  Why didn't I stay on it, the blathering lunatic--by George,
when I heard that racket and looked up that hill it was just like the
whole world was a-ripping and a-tearing down that mountain side
--splinters, and cord-wood, thunder and lightning, hail and snow, odds and
ends of hay stacks, and awful clouds of dust!--trees going end over end
in the air, rocks as big as a house jumping 'bout a thousand feet high
and busting into ten million pieces, cattle turned inside out and
a-coming head on with their tails hanging out between their teeth!--and
in the midst of all that wrack and destruction sot that cussed Morgan on
his gate-post, a-wondering why I didn't stay and hold possession!  Laws
bless me, I just took one glimpse, General, and lit out'n the county in
three jumps exactly.

“But what grinds me is that that Morgan hangs on there and won't move
off'n that ranch--says it's his'n and he's going to keep it--likes it
better'n he did when it was higher up the hill.  Mad!  Well, I've been so
mad for two days I couldn't find my way to town--been wandering around in
the brush in a starving condition--got anything here to drink, General?
But I'm here now, and I'm a-going to law.  You hear me!”

Never in all the world, perhaps, were a man's feelings so outraged as
were the General's.  He said he had never heard of such high-handed
conduct in all his life as this Morgan's.  And he said there was no use
in going to law--Morgan had no shadow of right to remain where he was
--nobody in the wide world would uphold him in it, and no lawyer would take
his case and no judge listen to it.  Hyde said that right there was where
he was mistaken--everybody in town sustained Morgan; Hal Brayton, a very
smart lawyer, had taken his case; the courts being in vacation, it was to
be tried before a referee, and ex-Governor Roop had already been
appointed to that office and would open his court in a large public hall
near the hotel at two that afternoon.

The General was amazed.  He said he had suspected before that the people
of that Territory were fools, and now he knew it.  But he said rest easy,
rest easy and collect the witnesses, for the victory was just as certain
as if the conflict were already over.  Hyde wiped away his tears and

At two in the afternoon referee Roop's Court opened and Roop appeared
throned among his sheriffs, the witnesses, and spectators, and wearing
upon his face a solemnity so awe-inspiring that some of his
fellow-conspirators had misgivings that maybe he had not comprehended,
after all, that this was merely a joke.  An unearthly stillness
prevailed, for at the slightest noise the judge uttered sternly the

“Order in the Court!”

And the sheriffs promptly echoed it.  Presently the General elbowed his
way through the crowd of spectators, with his arms full of law-books, and
on his ears fell an order from the judge which was the first respectful
recognition of his high official dignity that had ever saluted them, and
it trickled pleasantly through his whole system:

“Way for the United States Attorney!”

The witnesses were called--legislators, high government officers,
ranchmen, miners, Indians, Chinamen, negroes.  Three fourths of them were
called by the defendant Morgan, but no matter, their testimony invariably
went in favor of the plaintiff Hyde.  Each new witness only added new
testimony to the absurdity of a man's claiming to own another man's
property because his farm had slid down on top of it.  Then the Morgan
lawyers made their speeches, and seemed to make singularly weak ones
--they did really nothing to help the Morgan cause.  And now the General,
with exultation in his face, got up and made an impassioned effort; he
pounded the table, he banged the law-books, he shouted, and roared, and
howled, he quoted from everything and everybody, poetry, sarcasm,
statistics, history, pathos, bathos, blasphemy, and wound up with a grand
war-whoop for free speech, freedom of the press, free schools, the
Glorious Bird of America and the principles of eternal justice!

When the General sat down, he did it with the conviction that if there
was anything in good strong testimony, a great speech and believing and
admiring countenances all around, Mr. Morgan's case was killed.
Ex-Governor Roop leant his head upon his hand for some minutes, thinking,
and the still audience waited for his decision.  Then he got up and stood
erect, with bended head, and thought again.  Then he walked the floor
with long, deliberate strides, his chin in his hand, and still the
audience waited.  At last he returned to his throne, seated himself, and
began impressively:

“Gentlemen, I feel the great responsibility that rests upon me this day.
This is no ordinary case.  On the contrary it is plain that it is the
most solemn and awful that ever man was called upon to decide.
Gentlemen, I have listened attentively to the evidence, and have
perceived that the weight of it, the overwhelming weight of it, is in
favor of the plaintiff Hyde.  I have listened also to the remarks of
counsel, with high interest--and especially will I commend the masterly
and irrefutable logic of the distinguished gentleman who represents the
plaintiff.  But gentlemen, let us beware how we allow mere human
testimony, human ingenuity in argument and human ideas of equity, to
influence us at a moment so solemn as this.  Gentlemen, it ill becomes
us, worms as we are, to meddle with the decrees of Heaven.  It is plain
to me that Heaven, in its inscrutable wisdom, has seen fit to move this
defendant's ranch for a purpose.  We are but creatures, and we must
submit.  If Heaven has chosen to favor the defendant Morgan in this
marked and wonderful manner; and if Heaven, dissatisfied with the
position of the Morgan ranch upon the mountain side, has chosen to remove
it to a position more eligible and more advantageous for its owner, it
ill becomes us, insects as we are, to question the legality of the act or
inquire into the reasons that prompted it.  No--Heaven created the
ranches and it is Heaven's prerogative to rearrange them, to experiment
with them around at its pleasure.  It is for us to submit, without

“I warn you that this thing which has happened is a thing with which the
sacrilegious hands and brains and tongues of men must not meddle.
Gentlemen, it is the verdict of this court that the plaintiff, Richard
Hyde, has been deprived of his ranch by the visitation of God!  And from
this decision there is no appeal.”

Buncombe seized his cargo of law-books and plunged out of the court-room
frantic with indignation.  He pronounced Roop to be a miraculous fool, an
inspired idiot.  In all good faith he returned at night and remonstrated
with Roop upon his extravagant decision, and implored him to walk the
floor and think for half an hour, and see if he could not figure out some
sort of modification of the verdict.  Roop yielded at last and got up to
walk.  He walked two hours and a half, and at last his face lit up
happily and he told Buncombe it had occurred to him that the ranch
underneath the new Morgan ranch still belonged to Hyde, that his title to
the ground was just as good as it had ever been, and therefore he was of
opinion that Hyde had a right to dig it out from under there and--

The General never waited to hear the end of it.  He was always an
impatient and irascible man, that way.  At the end of two months the fact
that he had been played upon with a joke had managed to bore itself, like
another Hoosac Tunnel, through the solid adamant of his understanding.


When we finally left for Esmeralda, horseback, we had an addition to the
company in the person of Capt. John Nye, the Governor's brother.  He had
a good memory, and a tongue hung in the middle.  This is a combination
which gives immortality to conversation.  Capt. John never suffered the
talk to flag or falter once during the hundred and twenty miles of the
journey.  In addition to his conversational powers, he had one or two
other endowments of a marked character.  One was a singular “handiness”
 about doing anything and everything, from laying out a railroad or
organizing a political party, down to sewing on buttons, shoeing a horse,
or setting a broken leg, or a hen.  Another was a spirit of accommodation
that prompted him to take the needs, difficulties and perplexities of
anybody and everybody upon his own shoulders at any and all times, and
dispose of them with admirable facility and alacrity--hence he always
managed to find vacant beds in crowded inns, and plenty to eat in the
emptiest larders.  And finally, wherever he met a man, woman or child, in
camp, inn or desert, he either knew such parties personally or had been
acquainted with a relative of the same.  Such another traveling comrade
was never seen before.  I cannot forbear giving a specimen of the way in
which he overcame difficulties.  On the second day out, we arrived, very
tired and hungry, at a poor little inn in the desert, and were told that
the house was full, no provisions on hand, and neither hay nor barley to
spare for the horses--must move on.  The rest of us wanted to hurry on
while it was yet light, but Capt. John insisted on stopping awhile.
We dismounted and entered.  There was no welcome for us on any face.
Capt. John began his blandishments, and within twenty minutes he had
accomplished the following things, viz.: found old acquaintances in three
teamsters; discovered that he used to go to school with the landlord's
mother; recognized his wife as a lady whose life he had saved once in
California, by stopping her runaway horse; mended a child's broken toy
and won the favor of its mother, a guest of the inn; helped the hostler
bleed a horse, and prescribed for another horse that had the “heaves”;
treated the entire party three times at the landlord's bar; produced a
later paper than anybody had seen for a week and sat himself down to read
the news to a deeply interested audience.  The result, summed up, was as
follows: The hostler found plenty of feed for our horses; we had a trout
supper, an exceedingly sociable time after it, good beds to sleep in, and
a surprising breakfast in the morning--and when we left, we left lamented
by all!  Capt. John had some bad traits, but he had some uncommonly
valuable ones to offset them with.

Esmeralda was in many respects another Humboldt, but in a little more
forward state.  The claims we had been paying assessments on were
entirely worthless, and we threw them away.  The principal one cropped
out of the top of a knoll that was fourteen feet high, and the inspired
Board of Directors were running a tunnel under that knoll to strike the
ledge.  The tunnel would have to be seventy feet long, and would then
strike the ledge at the same dept that a shaft twelve feet deep would
have reached!  The Board were living on the “assessments.”  [N.B.--This
hint comes too late for the enlightenment of New York silver miners; they
have already learned all about this neat trick by experience.]  The Board
had no desire to strike the ledge, knowing that it was as barren of
silver as a curbstone.  This reminiscence calls to mind Jim Townsend's
tunnel.  He had paid assessments on a mine called the “Daley” till he was
well-nigh penniless.  Finally an assessment was levied to run a tunnel
two hundred and fifty feet on the Daley, and Townsend went up on the hill
to look into matters.

He found the Daley cropping out of the apex of an exceedingly
sharp-pointed peak, and a couple of men up there “facing” the proposed
tunnel. Townsend made a calculation.  Then he said to the men:

“So you have taken a contract to run a tunnel into this hill two hundred
and fifty feet to strike this ledge?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, do you know that you have got one of the most expensive and
arduous undertakings before you that was ever conceived by man?”

“Why no--how is that?”

“Because this hill is only twenty-five feet through from side to side;
and so you have got to build two hundred and twenty-five feet of your
tunnel on trestle-work!”

The ways of silver mining Boards are exceedingly dark and sinuous.

We took up various claims, and commenced shafts and tunnels on them, but
never finished any of them.  We had to do a certain amount of work on
each to “hold” it, else other parties could seize our property after the
expiration of ten days.  We were always hunting up new claims and doing a
little work on them and then waiting for a buyer--who never came.  We
never found any ore that would yield more than fifty dollars a ton; and
as the mills charged fifty dollars a ton for working ore and extracting
the silver, our pocket-money melted steadily away and none returned to
take its place.  We lived in a little cabin and cooked for ourselves; and
altogether it was a hard life, though a hopeful one--for we never ceased
to expect fortune and a customer to burst upon us some day.

At last, when flour reached a dollar a pound, and money could not be
borrowed on the best security at less than eight per cent a month (I
being without the security, too), I abandoned mining and went to milling.
That is to say, I went to work as a common laborer in a quartz mill, at
ten dollars a week and board.


I had already learned how hard and long and dismal a task it is to burrow
down into the bowels of the earth and get out the coveted ore; and now I
learned that the burrowing was only half the work; and that to get the
silver out of the ore was the dreary and laborious other half of it.
We had to turn out at six in the morning and keep at it till dark.
This mill was a six-stamp affair, driven by steam.  Six tall, upright
rods of iron, as large as a man's ankle, and heavily shod with a mass of
iron and steel at their lower ends, were framed together like a gate, and
these rose and fell, one after the other, in a ponderous dance, in an
iron box called a “battery.”  Each of these rods or stamps weighed six
hundred pounds.  One of us stood by the battery all day long, breaking up
masses of silver-bearing rock with a sledge and shoveling it into the
battery.  The ceaseless dance of the stamps pulverized the rock to
powder, and a stream of water that trickled into the battery turned it to
a creamy paste.  The minutest particles were driven through a fine wire
screen which fitted close around the battery, and were washed into great
tubs warmed by super-heated steam--amalgamating pans, they are called.
The mass of pulp in the pans was kept constantly stirred up by revolving
“mullers.”  A quantity of quicksilver was kept always in the battery, and
this seized some of the liberated gold and silver particles and held on
to them; quicksilver was shaken in a fine shower into the pans, also,
about every half hour, through a buckskin sack.  Quantities of coarse
salt and sulphate of copper were added, from time to time to assist the
amalgamation by destroying base metals which coated the gold and silver
and would not let it unite with the quicksilver.

All these tiresome things we had to attend to constantly.  Streams of
dirty water flowed always from the pans and were carried off in broad
wooden troughs to the ravine.  One would not suppose that atoms of gold
and silver would float on top of six inches of water, but they did; and
in order to catch them, coarse blankets were laid in the troughs, and
little obstructing “riffles” charged with quicksilver were placed here
and there across the troughs also.  These riffles had to be cleaned and
the blankets washed out every evening, to get their precious
accumulations--and after all this eternity of trouble one third of the
silver and gold in a ton of rock would find its way to the end of the
troughs in the ravine at last and have to be worked over again some day.
There is nothing so aggravating as silver milling.  There never was any
idle time in that mill.  There was always something to do.  It is a pity
that Adam could not have gone straight out of Eden into a quartz mill, in
order to understand the full force of his doom to “earn his bread by the
sweat of his brow.”  Every now and then, during the day, we had to scoop
some pulp out of the pans, and tediously “wash” it in a horn spoon--wash
it little by little over the edge till at last nothing was left but some
little dull globules of quicksilver in the bottom.  If they were soft and
yielding, the pan needed some salt or some sulphate of copper or some
other chemical rubbish to assist digestion; if they were crisp to the
touch and would retain a dint, they were freighted with all the silver
and gold they could seize and hold, and consequently the pan needed a
fresh charge of quicksilver.  When there was nothing else to do, one
could always “screen tailings.”  That is to say, he could shovel up the
dried sand that had washed down to the ravine through the troughs and
dash it against an upright wire screen to free it from pebbles and
prepare it for working over.

The process of amalgamation differed in the various mills, and this
included changes in style of pans and other machinery, and a great
diversity of opinion existed as to the best in use, but none of the
methods employed, involved the principle of milling ore without
“screening the tailings.”  Of all recreations in the world, screening
tailings on a hot day, with a long-handled shovel, is the most

At the end of the week the machinery was stopped and we “cleaned up.”
 That is to say, we got the pulp out of the pans and batteries, and washed
the mud patiently away till nothing was left but the long accumulating
mass of quicksilver, with its imprisoned treasures.  This we made into
heavy, compact snow-balls, and piled them up in a bright, luxurious heap
for inspection.  Making these snow-balls cost me a fine gold ring--that
and ignorance together; for the quicksilver invaded the ring with the
same facility with which water saturates a sponge--separated its
particles and the ring crumbled to pieces.

We put our pile of quicksilver balls into an iron retort that had a pipe
leading from it to a pail of water, and then applied a roasting heat.
The quicksilver turned to vapor, escaped through the pipe into the pail,
and the water turned it into good wholesome quicksilver again.
Quicksilver is very costly, and they never waste it.  On opening the
retort, there was our week's work--a lump of pure white, frosty looking
silver, twice as large as a man's head.  Perhaps a fifth of the mass was
gold, but the color of it did not show--would not have shown if two
thirds of it had been gold.  We melted it up and made a solid brick of it
by pouring it into an iron brick-mould.

By such a tedious and laborious process were silver bricks obtained.
This mill was but one of many others in operation at the time.  The first
one in Nevada was built at Egan Canyon and was a small insignificant
affair and compared most unfavorably with some of the immense
establishments afterwards located at Virginia City and elsewhere.

From our bricks a little corner was chipped off for the “fire-assay”--a
method used to determine the proportions of gold, silver and base metals
in the mass.  This is an interesting process.  The chip is hammered out
as thin as paper and weighed on scales so fine and sensitive that if you
weigh a two-inch scrap of paper on them and then write your name on the
paper with a course, soft pencil and weigh it again, the scales will take
marked notice of the addition.

Then a little lead (also weighed) is rolled up with the flake of silver
and the two are melted at a great heat in a small vessel called a cupel,
made by compressing bone ashes into a cup-shape in a steel mold.  The
base metals oxydize and are absorbed with the lead into the pores of the
cupel.  A button or globule of perfectly pure gold and silver is left
behind, and by weighing it and noting the loss, the assayer knows the
proportion of base metal the brick contains.  He has to separate the gold
from the silver now.  The button is hammered out flat and thin, put in
the furnace and kept some time at a red heat; after cooling it off it is
rolled up like a quill and heated in a glass vessel containing nitric
acid; the acid dissolves the silver and leaves the gold pure and ready to
be weighed on its own merits.  Then salt water is poured into the vessel
containing the dissolved silver and the silver returns to palpable form
again and sinks to the bottom.  Nothing now remains but to weigh it; then
the proportions of the several metals contained in the brick are known,
and the assayer stamps the value of the brick upon its surface.

The sagacious reader will know now, without being told, that the
speculative miner, in getting a “fire-assay” made of a piece of rock from
his mine (to help him sell the same), was not in the habit of picking out
the least valuable fragment of rock on his dump-pile, but quite the
contrary.  I have seen men hunt over a pile of nearly worthless quartz
for an hour, and at last find a little piece as large as a filbert, which
was rich in gold and silver--and this was reserved for a fire-assay!  Of
course the fire-assay would demonstrate that a ton of such rock would
yield hundreds of dollars--and on such assays many an utterly worthless
mine was sold.

Assaying was a good business, and so some men engaged in it,
occasionally, who were not strictly scientific and capable.  One assayer
got such rich results out of all specimens brought to him that in time he
acquired almost a monopoly of the business.  But like all men who achieve
success, he became an object of envy and suspicion.  The other assayers
entered into a conspiracy against him, and let some prominent citizens
into the secret in order to show that they meant fairly.  Then they broke
a little fragment off a carpenter's grindstone and got a stranger to take
it to the popular scientist and get it assayed.  In the course of an hour
the result came--whereby it appeared that a ton of that rock would yield
$1,184.40 in silver and $366.36 in gold!

Due publication of the whole matter was made in the paper, and the
popular assayer left town “between two days.”

I will remark, in passing, that I only remained in the milling business
one week.  I told my employer I could not stay longer without an advance
in my wages; that I liked quartz milling, indeed was infatuated with it;
that I had never before grown so tenderly attached to an occupation in so
short a time; that nothing, it seemed to me, gave such scope to
intellectual activity as feeding a battery and screening tailings, and
nothing so stimulated the moral attributes as retorting bullion and
washing blankets--still, I felt constrained to ask an increase of salary.
He said he was paying me ten dollars a week, and thought it a good round
sum.  How much did I want?

I said about four hundred thousand dollars a month, and board, was about
all I could reasonably ask, considering the hard times.

I was ordered off the premises!  And yet, when I look back to those days
and call to mind the exceeding hardness of the labor I performed in that
mill, I only regret that I did not ask him seven hundred thousand.

Shortly after this I began to grow crazy, along with the rest of the
population, about the mysterious and wonderful “cement mine,” and to make
preparations to take advantage of any opportunity that might offer to go
and help hunt for it.


It was somewhere in the neighborhood of Mono Lake that the marvellous
Whiteman cement mine was supposed to lie.  Every now and then it would be
reported that Mr. W. had passed stealthily through Esmeralda at dead of
night, in disguise, and then we would have a wild excitement--because he
must be steering for his secret mine, and now was the time to follow him.
In less than three hours after daylight all the horses and mules and
donkeys in the vicinity would be bought, hired or stolen, and half the
community would be off for the mountains, following in the wake of
Whiteman.  But W. would drift about through the mountain gorges for days
together, in a purposeless sort of way, until the provisions of the
miners ran out, and they would have to go back home.  I have known it
reported at eleven at night, in a large mining camp, that Whiteman had
just passed through, and in two hours the streets, so quiet before, would
be swarming with men and animals.  Every individual would be trying to be
very secret, but yet venturing to whisper to just one neighbor that W.
had passed through.  And long before daylight--this in the dead of
Winter--the stampede would be complete, the camp deserted, and the whole
population gone chasing after W.

The tradition was that in the early immigration, more than twenty years
ago, three young Germans, brothers, who had survived an Indian massacre
on the Plains, wandered on foot through the deserts, avoiding all trails
and roads, and simply holding a westerly direction and hoping to find
California before they starved, or died of fatigue.  And in a gorge in
the mountains they sat down to rest one day, when one of them noticed a
curious vein of cement running along the ground, shot full of lumps of
dull yellow metal.  They saw that it was gold, and that here was a
fortune to be acquired in a single day.  The vein was about as wide as a
curbstone, and fully two thirds of it was pure gold.  Every pound of the
wonderful cement was worth well-nigh $200.

Each of the brothers loaded himself with about twenty-five pounds of it,
and then they covered up all traces of the vein, made a rude drawing of
the locality and the principal landmarks in the vicinity, and started
westward again.  But troubles thickened about them.  In their wanderings
one brother fell and broke his leg, and the others were obliged to go on
and leave him to die in the wilderness.  Another, worn out and starving,
gave up by and by, and laid down to die, but after two or three weeks of
incredible hardships, the third reached the settlements of California
exhausted, sick, and his mind deranged by his sufferings.  He had thrown
away all his cement but a few fragments, but these were sufficient to set
everybody wild with excitement.  However, he had had enough of the cement
country, and nothing could induce him to lead a party thither.  He was
entirely content to work on a farm for wages.  But he gave Whiteman his
map, and described the cement region as well as he could and thus
transferred the curse to that gentleman--for when I had my one accidental
glimpse of Mr. W. in Esmeralda he had been hunting for the lost mine, in
hunger and thirst, poverty and sickness, for twelve or thirteen years.
Some people believed he had found it, but most people believed he had
not.  I saw a piece of cement as large as my fist which was said to have
been given to Whiteman by the young German, and it was of a seductive
nature.  Lumps of virgin gold were as thick in it as raisins in a slice
of fruit cake.  The privilege of working such a mine one week would be
sufficient for a man of reasonable desires.

A new partner of ours, a Mr. Higbie, knew Whiteman well by sight, and a
friend of ours, a Mr. Van Dorn, was well acquainted with him, and not
only that, but had Whiteman's promise that he should have a private hint
in time to enable him to join the next cement expedition.  Van Dorn had
promised to extend the hint to us.  One evening Higbie came in greatly
excited, and said he felt certain he had recognized Whiteman, up town,
disguised and in a pretended state of intoxication.  In a little while
Van Dorn arrived and confirmed the news; and so we gathered in our cabin
and with heads close together arranged our plans in impressive whispers.

We were to leave town quietly, after midnight, in two or three small
parties, so as not to attract attention, and meet at dawn on the “divide”
 overlooking Mono Lake, eight or nine miles distant.  We were to make no
noise after starting, and not speak above a whisper under any
circumstances.  It was believed that for once Whiteman's presence was
unknown in the town and his expedition unsuspected.  Our conclave broke
up at nine o'clock, and we set about our preparation diligently and with
profound secrecy.  At eleven o'clock we saddled our horses, hitched them
with their long riatas (or lassos), and then brought out a side of bacon,
a sack of beans, a small sack of coffee, some sugar, a hundred pounds of
flour in sacks, some tin cups and a coffee pot, frying pan and some few
other necessary articles.  All these things were “packed” on the back of
a led horse--and whoever has not been taught, by a Spanish adept, to pack
an animal, let him never hope to do the thing by natural smartness.  That
is impossible.  Higbie had had some experience, but was not perfect.  He
put on the pack saddle (a thing like a saw-buck), piled the property on
it and then wound a rope all over and about it and under it, “every which
way,” taking a hitch in it every now and then, and occasionally surging
back on it till the horse's sides sunk in and he gasped for breath--but
every time the lashings grew tight in one place they loosened in another.
We never did get the load tight all over, but we got it so that it would
do, after a fashion, and then we started, in single file, close order,
and without a word.  It was a dark night.  We kept the middle of the
road, and proceeded in a slow walk past the rows of cabins, and whenever
a miner came to his door I trembled for fear the light would shine on us
an excite curiosity.  But nothing happened.  We began the long winding
ascent of the canyon, toward the “divide,” and presently the cabins began
to grow infrequent, and the intervals between them wider and wider, and
then I began to breathe tolerably freely and feel less like a thief and a
murderer.  I was in the rear, leading the pack horse.  As the ascent grew
steeper he grew proportionately less satisfied with his cargo, and began
to pull back on his riata occasionally and delay progress.  My comrades
were passing out of sight in the gloom.  I was getting anxious.  I coaxed
and bullied the pack horse till I presently got him into a trot, and then
the tin cups and pans strung about his person frightened him and he ran.
His riata was wound around the pummel of my saddle, and so, as he went by
he dragged me from my horse and the two animals traveled briskly on
without me.  But I was not alone--the loosened cargo tumbled overboard
from the pack horse and fell close to me.  It was abreast of almost the
last cabin.

A miner came out and said:


I was thirty steps from him, and knew he could not see me, it was so very
dark in the shadow of the mountain.  So I lay still.  Another head
appeared in the light of the cabin door, and presently the two men walked
toward me.  They stopped within ten steps of me, and one said:

“Sh!  Listen.”

I could not have been in a more distressed state if I had been escaping
justice with a price on my head.  Then the miners appeared to sit down on
a boulder, though I could not see them distinctly enough to be very sure
what they did.  One said:

“I heard a noise, as plain as I ever heard anything.  It seemed to be
about there--”

A stone whizzed by my head.  I flattened myself out in the dust like a
postage stamp, and thought to myself if he mended his aim ever so little
he would probably hear another noise.  In my heart, now, I execrated
secret expeditions.  I promised myself that this should be my last,
though the Sierras were ribbed with cement veins.  Then one of the men

“I'll tell you what!  Welch knew what he was talking about when he said
he saw Whiteman to-day.  I heard horses--that was the noise.  I am going
down to Welch's, right away.”

They left and I was glad.  I did not care whither they went, so they
went.  I was willing they should visit Welch, and the sooner the better.

As soon as they closed their cabin door my comrades emerged from the
gloom; they had caught the horses and were waiting for a clear coast
again.  We remounted the cargo on the pack horse and got under way, and
as day broke we reached the “divide” and joined Van Dorn.  Then we
journeyed down into the valley of the Lake, and feeling secure, we halted
to cook breakfast, for we were tired and sleepy and hungry.  Three hours
later the rest of the population filed over the “divide” in a long
procession, and drifted off out of sight around the borders of the Lake!

Whether or not my accident had produced this result we never knew, but at
least one thing was certain--the secret was out and Whiteman would not
enter upon a search for the cement mine this time.  We were filled with

We held a council and decided to make the best of our misfortune and
enjoy a week's holiday on the borders of the curious Lake.  Mono, it is
sometimes called, and sometimes the “Dead Sea of California.”  It is one
of the strangest freaks of Nature to be found in any land, but it is
hardly ever mentioned in print and very seldom visited, because it lies
away off the usual routes of travel and besides is so difficult to get at
that only men content to endure the roughest life will consent to take
upon themselves the discomforts of such a trip.  On the morning of our
second day, we traveled around to a remote and particularly wild spot on
the borders of the Lake, where a stream of fresh, ice-cold water entered
it from the mountain side, and then we went regularly into camp.  We
hired a large boat and two shot-guns from a lonely ranchman who lived
some ten miles further on, and made ready for comfort and recreation.
We soon got thoroughly acquainted with the Lake and all its


Mono Lake lies in a lifeless, treeless, hideous desert, eight thousand
feet above the level of the sea, and is guarded by mountains two thousand
feet higher, whose summits are always clothed in clouds.  This solemn,
silent, sail-less sea--this lonely tenant of the loneliest spot on earth
--is little graced with the picturesque.  It is an unpretending expanse
of grayish water, about a hundred miles in circumference, with two
islands in its centre, mere upheavals of rent and scorched and blistered
lava, snowed over with gray banks and drifts of pumice-stone and ashes,
the winding sheet of the dead volcano, whose vast crater the lake has
seized upon and occupied.

The lake is two hundred feet deep, and its sluggish waters are so strong
with alkali that if you only dip the most hopelessly soiled garment into
them once or twice, and wring it out, it will be found as clean as if it
had been through the ablest of washerwomen's hands.  While we camped
there our laundry work was easy.  We tied the week's washing astern of
our boat, and sailed a quarter of a mile, and the job was complete, all
to the wringing out.  If we threw the water on our heads and gave them a
rub or so, the white lather would pile up three inches high.  This water
is not good for bruised places and abrasions of the skin.  We had a
valuable dog.  He had raw places on him.  He had more raw places on him
than sound ones.  He was the rawest dog I almost ever saw.  He jumped
overboard one day to get away from the flies.  But it was bad judgment.
In his condition, it would have been just as comfortable to jump into the

The alkali water nipped him in all the raw places simultaneously, and he
struck out for the shore with considerable interest.  He yelped and
barked and howled as he went--and by the time he got to the shore there
was no bark to him--for he had barked the bark all out of his inside, and
the alkali water had cleaned the bark all off his outside, and he
probably wished he had never embarked in any such enterprise.  He ran
round and round in a circle, and pawed  the earth and clawed the air, and
threw double somersaults, sometimes backward and sometimes forward, in
the most extraordinary manner.  He was not a demonstrative dog, as a
general thing, but rather of a grave and serious turn of mind, and I
never saw him take so much interest in anything before.  He finally
struck out over the mountains, at a gait which we estimated at about two
hundred and fifty miles an hour, and he is going yet.  This was about
nine years ago.  We look for what is left of him along here every day.

A white man cannot drink the water of Mono Lake, for it is nearly pure
lye.  It is said that the Indians in the vicinity drink it sometimes,
though.  It is not improbable, for they are among the purest liars I ever
saw.  [There will be no additional charge for this joke, except to
parties requiring an explanation of it.  This joke has received high
commendation from some of the ablest minds of the age.]

There are no fish in Mono Lake--no frogs, no snakes, no polliwigs
--nothing, in fact, that goes to make life desirable.  Millions of wild
ducks and sea-gulls swim about the surface, but no living thing exists
under the surface, except a white feathery sort of worm, one half an inch
long, which looks like a bit of white thread frayed out at the sides.  If
you dip up a gallon of water, you will get about fifteen thousand of
these.  They give to the water a sort of grayish-white appearance.  Then
there is a fly, which looks something like our house fly.  These settle
on the beach to eat the worms that wash ashore--and any time, you can see
there a belt of flies an inch deep and six feet wide, and this belt
extends clear around the lake--a belt of flies one hundred miles long.
If you throw a stone among them, they swarm up so thick that they look
dense, like a cloud.  You can hold them under water as long as you
please--they do not mind it--they are only proud of it.  When you let
them go, they pop up to the surface as dry as a patent office report, and
walk off as unconcernedly as if they had been educated especially with a
view to affording instructive entertainment to man in that particular
way.  Providence leaves nothing to go by chance.  All things have their
uses and their part and proper place in Nature's economy: the ducks eat
the flies--the flies eat the worms--the Indians eat all three--the wild
cats eat the Indians--the white folks eat the wild cats--and thus all
things are lovely.

Mono Lake is a hundred miles in a straight line from the ocean--and
between it and the ocean are one or two ranges of mountains--yet
thousands of sea-gulls go there every season to lay their eggs and rear
their young.  One would as soon expect to find sea-gulls in Kansas.
And in this connection let us observe another instance of Nature's
wisdom.  The islands in the lake being merely huge masses of lava, coated
over with ashes and pumice-stone, and utterly innocent of vegetation or
anything that would burn; and sea-gull's eggs being entirely useless to
anybody unless they be cooked, Nature has provided an unfailing spring of
boiling water on the largest island, and you can put your eggs in there,
and in four minutes you can boil them as hard as any statement I have
made during the past fifteen years.  Within ten feet of the boiling
spring is a spring of pure cold water, sweet and wholesome.

So, in that island you get your board and washing free of charge--and if
nature had gone further and furnished a nice American hotel clerk who was
crusty and disobliging, and didn't know anything about the time tables,
or the railroad routes--or--anything--and was proud of it--I would not
wish for a more desirable boarding-house.

Half a dozen little mountain brooks flow into Mono Lake, but not a stream
of any kind flows out of it.  It neither rises nor falls, apparently, and
what it does with its surplus water is a dark and bloody mystery.

There are only two seasons in the region round about Mono Lake--and these
are, the breaking up of one Winter and the beginning of the next.  More
than once (in Esmeralda) I have seen a perfectly blistering morning open
up with the thermometer at ninety degrees at eight o'clock, and seen the
snow fall fourteen inches deep and that same identical thermometer go
down to forty-four degrees under shelter, before nine o'clock at night.
Under favorable circumstances it snows at least once in every single
month in the year, in the little town of Mono.  So uncertain is the
climate in Summer that a lady who goes out visiting cannot hope to be
prepared for all emergencies unless she takes her fan under one arm and
her snow shoes under the other.  When they have a Fourth of July
procession it generally snows on them, and they do say that as a general
thing when a man calls for a brandy toddy there, the bar keeper chops it
off with a hatchet and wraps it up in a paper, like maple sugar.  And it
is further reported that the old soakers haven't any teeth--wore them out
eating gin cocktails and brandy punches.  I do not endorse that
statement--I simply give it for what it is worth--and it is worth--well,
I should say, millions, to any man who can believe it without straining
himself.  But I do endorse the snow on the Fourth of July--because I know
that to be true.


About seven o'clock one blistering hot morning--for it was now dead
summer time--Higbie and I took the boat and started on a voyage of
discovery to the two islands.  We had often longed to do this, but had
been deterred by the fear of storms; for they were frequent, and severe
enough to capsize an ordinary row-boat like ours without great
difficulty--and once capsized, death would ensue in spite of the bravest
swimming, for that venomous water would eat a man's eyes out like fire,
and burn him out inside, too, if he shipped a sea.  It was called twelve
miles, straight out to the islands--a long pull and a warm one--but the
morning was so quiet and sunny, and the lake so smooth and glassy and
dead, that we could not resist the temptation.  So we filled two large
tin canteens with water (since we were not acquainted with the locality
of the spring said to exist on the large island), and started.  Higbie's
brawny muscles gave the boat good speed, but by the time we reached our
destination we judged that we had pulled nearer fifteen miles than

We landed on the big island and went ashore.  We tried the water in the
canteens, now, and found that the sun had spoiled it; it was so brackish
that we could not drink it; so we poured it out and began a search for
the spring--for thirst augments fast as soon as it is apparent that one
has no means at hand of quenching it.  The island was a long, moderately
high hill of ashes--nothing but gray ashes and pumice-stone, in which we
sunk to our knees at every step--and all around the top was a forbidding
wall of scorched and blasted rocks.  When we reached the top and got
within the wall, we found simply a shallow, far-reaching basin, carpeted
with ashes, and here and there a patch of fine sand.  In places,
picturesque jets of steam shot up out of crevices, giving evidence that
although this ancient crater had gone out of active business, there was
still some fire left in its furnaces.  Close to one of these jets of
steam stood the only tree on the island--a small pine of most graceful
shape and most faultless symmetry; its color was a brilliant green, for
the steam drifted unceasingly through its branches and kept them always
moist.  It contrasted strangely enough, did this vigorous and beautiful
outcast, with its dead and dismal surroundings.  It was like a cheerful
spirit in a mourning household.

We hunted for the spring everywhere, traversing the full length of the
island (two or three miles), and crossing it twice--climbing ash-hills
patiently, and then sliding down the other side in a sitting posture,
plowing up smothering volumes of gray dust.  But we found nothing but
solitude, ashes and a heart-breaking silence.  Finally we noticed that
the wind had risen, and we forgot our thirst in a solicitude of greater
importance; for, the lake being quiet, we had not taken pains about
securing the boat.  We hurried back to a point overlooking our landing
place, and then--but mere words cannot describe our dismay--the boat was
gone!  The chances were that there was not another boat on the entire
lake.  The situation was not comfortable--in truth, to speak plainly, it
was frightful.  We were prisoners on a desolate island, in aggravating
proximity to friends who were for the present helpless to aid us; and
what was still more uncomfortable was the reflection that we had neither
food nor water.  But presently we sighted the boat.  It was drifting
along, leisurely, about fifty yards from shore, tossing in a foamy sea.
It drifted, and continued to drift, but at the same safe distance from
land, and we walked along abreast it and waited for fortune to favor us.
At the end of an hour it approached a jutting cape, and Higbie ran ahead
and posted himself on the utmost verge and prepared for the assault.  If
we failed there, there was no hope for us.  It was driving gradually
shoreward all the time, now; but whether it was driving fast enough to
make the connection or not was the momentous question.  When it got
within thirty steps of Higbie I was so excited that I fancied I could
hear my own heart beat.  When, a little later, it dragged slowly along
and seemed about to go by, only one little yard out of reach, it seemed
as if my heart stood still; and when it was exactly abreast him and began
to widen away, and he still standing like a watching statue, I knew my
heart did stop.  But when he gave a great spring, the next instant, and
lit fairly in the stern, I discharged a war-whoop that woke the

But it dulled my enthusiasm, presently, when he told me he had not been
caring whether the boat came within jumping distance or not, so that it
passed within eight or ten yards of him, for he had made up his mind to
shut his eyes and mouth and swim that trifling distance.  Imbecile that I
was, I had not thought of that.  It was only a long swim that could be

The sea was running high and the storm increasing.  It was growing late,
too--three or four in the afternoon.  Whether to venture toward the
mainland or not, was a question of some moment.  But we were so
distressed by thirst that we decide to try it, and so Higbie fell to work
and I took the steering-oar.  When we had pulled a mile, laboriously,
we were evidently in serious peril, for the storm had greatly augmented;
the billows ran very high and were capped with foaming crests,
the heavens were hung with black, and the wind blew with great fury.
We would have gone back, now, but we did not dare to turn the boat
around, because as soon as she got in the trough of the sea she would
upset, of course.  Our only hope lay in keeping her head-on to the seas.
It was hard work to do this, she plunged so, and so beat and belabored
the billows with her rising and falling bows.  Now and then one of
Higbie's oars would trip on the top of a wave, and the other one would
snatch the boat half around in spite of my cumbersome steering apparatus.
We were drenched by the sprays constantly, and the boat occasionally
shipped water.  By and by, powerful as my comrade was, his great
exertions began to tell on him, and he was anxious that I should change
places with him till he could rest a little.  But I told him this was
impossible; for if the steering oar were dropped a moment while we
changed, the boat would slue around into the trough of the sea, capsize,
and in less than five minutes we would have a hundred gallons of
soap-suds in us and be eaten up so quickly that we could not even be
present at our own inquest.

But things cannot last always.  Just as the darkness shut down we came
booming into port, head on.  Higbie dropped his oars to hurrah--I dropped
mine to help--the sea gave the boat a twist, and over she went!

The agony that alkali water inflicts on bruises, chafes and blistered
hands, is unspeakable, and nothing but greasing all over will modify it
--but we ate, drank and slept well, that night, notwithstanding.

In speaking of the peculiarities of Mono Lake, I ought to have mentioned
that at intervals all around its shores stand picturesque turret-looking
masses and clusters of a whitish, coarse-grained rock that resembles
inferior mortar dried hard; and if one breaks off fragments of this rock
he will find perfectly shaped and thoroughly petrified gulls' eggs deeply
imbedded in the mass.  How did they get there?  I simply state the fact
--for it is a fact--and leave the geological reader to crack the nut at his
leisure and solve the problem after his own fashion.

At the end of a week we adjourned to the Sierras on a fishing excursion,
and spent several days in camp under snowy Castle Peak, and fished
successfully for trout in a bright, miniature lake whose surface was
between ten and eleven thousand feet above the level of the sea; cooling
ourselves during the hot August noons by sitting on snow banks ten feet
deep, under whose sheltering edges fine grass and dainty flowers
flourished luxuriously; and at night entertaining ourselves by almost
freezing to death.  Then we returned to Mono Lake, and finding that the
cement excitement was over for the present, packed up and went back to
Esmeralda.  Mr. Ballou reconnoitred awhile, and not liking the prospect,
set out alone for Humboldt.

About this time occurred a little incident which has always had a sort of
interest to me, from the fact that it came so near “instigating” my
funeral.  At a time when an Indian attack had been expected, the citizens
hid their gunpowder where it would be safe and yet convenient to hand
when wanted.  A neighbor of ours hid six cans of rifle powder in the
bake-oven of an old discarded cooking stove which stood on the open
ground near a frame out-house or shed, and from and after that day never
thought of it again.  We hired a half-tamed Indian to do some washing for
us, and he took up quarters under the shed with his tub.  The ancient
stove reposed within six feet of him, and before his face.  Finally it
occurred to him that hot water would be better than cold, and he went out
and fired up under that forgotten powder magazine and set on a kettle of
water.  Then he returned to his tub.

I entered the shed presently and threw down some more clothes, and was
about to speak to him when the stove blew up with a prodigious crash, and
disappeared, leaving not a splinter behind.  Fragments of it fell in the
streets full two hundred yards away.  Nearly a third of the shed roof
over our heads was destroyed, and one of the stove lids, after cutting a
small stanchion half in two in front of the Indian, whizzed between us
and drove partly through the weather-boarding beyond.  I was as white as
a sheet and as weak as a kitten and speechless.  But the Indian betrayed
no trepidation, no distress, not even discomfort.  He simply stopped
washing, leaned forward and surveyed the clean, blank ground a moment,
and then remarked:

“Mph!  Dam stove heap gone!”--and resumed his scrubbing as placidly as if
it were an entirely customary thing for a stove to do.  I will explain,
that “heap” is “Injun-English” for “very much.”  The reader will perceive
the exhaustive expressiveness of it in the present instance.

I now come to a curious episode--the most curious, I think, that had yet
accented my slothful, valueless, heedless career.  Out of a hillside
toward the upper end of the town, projected a wall of reddish looking
quartz-croppings, the exposed comb of a silver-bearing ledge that
extended deep down into the earth, of course.  It was owned by a company
entitled the “Wide West.”  There was a shaft sixty or seventy feet deep
on the under side of the croppings, and everybody was acquainted with the
rock that came from it--and tolerably rich rock it was, too, but nothing
extraordinary.  I will remark here, that although to the inexperienced
stranger all the quartz of a particular “district” looks about alike, an
old resident of the camp can take a glance at a mixed pile of rock,
separate the fragments and tell you which mine each came from, as easily
as a confectioner can separate and classify the various kinds and
qualities of candy in a mixed heap of the article.

All at once the town was thrown into a state of extraordinary excitement.
In mining parlance the Wide West had “struck it rich!”  Everybody went to
see the new developments, and for some days there was such a crowd of
people about the Wide West shaft that a stranger would have supposed
there was a mass meeting in session there.  No other topic was discussed
but the rich strike, and nobody thought or dreamed about anything else.
Every man brought away a specimen, ground it up in a hand mortar, washed
it out in his horn spoon, and glared speechless upon the marvelous
result.  It was not hard rock, but black, decomposed stuff which could be
crumbled in the hand like a baked potato, and when spread out on a paper
exhibited a thick sprinkling of gold and particles of “native” silver.
Higbie brought a handful to the cabin, and when he had washed it out his
amazement was beyond description.  Wide West stock soared skywards.  It
was said that repeated offers had been made for it at a thousand dollars
a foot, and promptly refused.  We have all had the “blues”--the mere
sky-blues--but mine were indigo, now--because I did not own in the Wide
West.  The world seemed hollow to me, and existence a grief.  I lost my
appetite, and ceased to take an interest in anything.  Still I had to
stay, and listen to other people's rejoicings, because I had no money to
get out of the camp with.

The Wide West company put a stop to the carrying away of “specimens,” and
well they might, for every handful of the ore was worth a sum of some
consequence.  To show the exceeding value of the ore, I will remark that
a sixteen-hundred-pounds parcel of it was sold, just as it lay, at the
mouth of the shaft, at one dollar a pound; and the man who bought it
“packed” it on mules a hundred and fifty or two hundred miles, over the
mountains, to San Francisco, satisfied that it would yield at a rate that
would richly compensate him for his trouble.  The Wide West people also
commanded their foreman to refuse any but their own operatives permission
to enter the mine at any time or for any purpose.  I kept up my “blue”
 meditations and Higbie kept up a deal of thinking, too, but of a
different sort.  He puzzled over the “rock,” examined it with a glass,
inspected it in different lights and from different points of view, and
after each experiment delivered himself, in soliloquy, of one and the
same unvarying opinion in the same unvarying formula:

“It is not Wide West rock!”

He said once or twice that he meant to have a look into the Wide West
shaft if he got shot for it.  I was wretched, and did not care whether he
got a look into it or not.  He failed that day, and tried again at night;
failed again; got up at dawn and tried, and failed again.  Then he lay in
ambush in the sage brush hour after hour, waiting for the two or three
hands to adjourn to the shade of a boulder for dinner; made a start once,
but was premature--one of the men came back for something; tried it
again, but when almost at the mouth of the shaft, another of the men rose
up from behind the boulder as if to reconnoitre, and he dropped on the
ground and lay quiet; presently he crawled on his hands and knees to the
mouth of the shaft, gave a quick glance around, then seized the rope and
slid down the shaft.

He disappeared in the gloom of a “side drift” just as a head appeared in
the mouth of the shaft and somebody shouted “Hello!”--which he did not
answer.  He was not disturbed any more.  An hour later he entered the
cabin, hot, red, and ready to burst with smothered excitement, and
exclaimed in a stage whisper:

“I knew it!  We are rich!  IT'S A BLIND LEAD!”

I thought the very earth reeled under me.  Doubt--conviction--doubt
again--exultation--hope, amazement, belief, unbelief--every emotion
imaginable swept in wild procession through my heart and brain, and I
could not speak a word.  After a moment or two of this mental fury, I
shook myself to rights, and said:

“Say it again!”

“It's blind lead!”

“Cal, let's--let's burn the house--or kill somebody!  Let's get out where
there's room to hurrah!  But what is the use?  It is a hundred times too
good to be true.”

“It's a blind lead, for a million!--hanging wall--foot wall--clay
casings--everything complete!” He swung his hat and gave three cheers,
and I cast doubt to the winds and chimed in with a will.  For I was worth
a million dollars, and did not care “whether school kept or not!”

But perhaps I ought to explain.  A “blind lead” is a lead or ledge that
does not “crop out” above the surface.  A miner does not know where to
look for such leads, but they are often stumbled upon by accident in the
course of driving a tunnel or sinking a shaft.  Higbie knew the Wide West
rock perfectly well, and the more he had examined the new developments
the more he was satisfied that the ore could not have come from the Wide
West vein.  And so had it occurred to him alone, of all the camp, that
there was a blind lead down in the shaft, and that even the Wide West
people themselves did not suspect it.  He was right.  When he went down
the shaft, he found that the blind lead held its independent way through
the Wide West vein, cutting it diagonally, and that it was enclosed in
its own well-defined casing-rocks and clay.  Hence it was public
property.  Both leads being perfectly well defined, it was easy for any
miner to see which one belonged to the Wide West and which did not.

We thought it well to have a strong friend, and therefore we brought the
foreman of the Wide West to our cabin that night and revealed the great
surprise to him.  Higbie said:

“We are going to take possession of this blind lead, record it and
establish ownership, and then forbid the Wide West company to take out
any more of the rock.  You cannot help your company in this matter
--nobody can help them.  I will go into the shaft with you and prove to
your entire satisfaction that it is a blind lead.  Now we propose to take
you in with us, and claim the blind lead in our three names.  What do you

What could a man say who had an opportunity to simply stretch forth his
hand and take possession of a fortune without risk of any kind and
without wronging any one or attaching the least taint of dishonor to his
name?  He could only say, “Agreed.”

The notice was put up that night, and duly spread upon the recorder's
books before ten o'clock.  We claimed two hundred feet each--six hundred
feet in all--the smallest and compactest organization in the district,
and the easiest to manage.

No one can be so thoughtless as to suppose that we slept, that night.
Higbie and I went to bed at midnight, but it was only to lie broad awake
and think, dream, scheme.  The floorless, tumble-down cabin was a palace,
the ragged gray blankets silk, the furniture rosewood and mahogany.
Each new splendor that burst out of my visions of the future whirled me
bodily over in bed or jerked me to a sitting posture just as if an
electric battery had been applied to me.  We shot fragments of
conversation back and forth at each other.  Once Higbie said:

“When are you going home--to the States?”

“To-morrow!”--with an evolution or two, ending with a sitting position.
“Well--no--but next month, at furthest.”

“We'll go in the same steamer.”


A pause.

“Steamer of the 10th?”

“Yes.  No, the 1st.”

“All right.”

Another pause.

“Where are you going to live?”  said Higbie.

“San Francisco.”

“That's me!”


“Too high--too much climbing”--from Higbie.

“What is?”

“I was thinking of Russian Hill--building a house up there.”

“Too much climbing?  Shan't you keep a carriage?”

“Of course.  I forgot that.”


“Cal., what kind of a house are you going to build?”

“I was thinking about that.  Three-story and an attic.”

“But what kind?”

“Well, I don't hardly know.  Brick, I suppose.”


“Why?  What is your idea?”

“Brown stone front--French plate glass--billiard-room off the
dining-room--statuary and paintings--shrubbery and two-acre grass plat
--greenhouse--iron dog on the front stoop--gray horses--landau, and a
coachman with a bug on his hat!”

“By George!”

A long pause.

“Cal., when are you going to Europe?”

“Well--I hadn't thought of that.  When are you?”

“In the Spring.”

“Going to be gone all summer?”

“All summer!  I shall remain there three years.”

“No--but are you in earnest?”

“Indeed I am.”

“I will go along too.”

“Why of course you will.”

“What part of Europe shall you go to?”

“All parts.  France, England, Germany--Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Syria,
Greece, Palestine, Arabia, Persia, Egypt--all over--everywhere.”

“I'm agreed.”

“All right.”

“Won't it be a swell trip!”

“We'll spend forty or fifty thousand dollars trying to make it one,

Another long pause.

“Higbie, we owe the butcher six dollars, and he has been threatening to
stop our--”

“Hang the butcher!”


And so it went on.  By three o'clock we found it was no use, and so we
got up and played cribbage and smoked pipes till sunrise.  It was my week
to cook.  I always hated cooking--now, I abhorred it.

The news was all over town.  The former excitement was great--this one
was greater still.  I walked the streets serene and happy.  Higbie said
the foreman had been offered two hundred thousand dollars for his third
of the mine.  I said I would like to see myself selling for any such
price.  My ideas were lofty.  My figure was a million.  Still, I honestly
believe that if I had been offered it, it would have had no other effect
than to make me hold off for more.

I found abundant enjoyment in being rich.  A man offered me a
three-hundred-dollar horse, and wanted to take my simple, unendorsed note
for it.  That brought the most realizing sense I had yet had that I was
actually rich, beyond shadow of doubt.  It was followed by numerous other
evidences of a similar nature--among which I may mention the fact of the
butcher leaving us a double supply of meat and saying nothing about

By the laws of the district, the “locators” or claimants of a ledge were
obliged to do a fair and reasonable amount of work on their new property
within ten days after the date of the location, or the property was
forfeited, and anybody could go and seize it that chose.  So we
determined to go to work the next day.  About the middle of the
afternoon, as I was coming out of the post office, I met a Mr. Gardiner,
who told me that Capt. John Nye was lying dangerously ill at his place
(the “Nine-Mile Ranch”), and that he and his wife were not able to give
him nearly as much care and attention as his case demanded.  I said if he
would wait for me a moment, I would go down and help in the sick room.
I ran to the cabin to tell Higbie.  He was not there, but I left a note
on the table for him, and a few minutes later I left town in Gardiner's


Captain Nye was very ill indeed, with spasmodic rheumatism.  But the old
gentleman was himself--which is to say, he was kind-hearted and agreeable
when comfortable, but a singularly violent wild-cat when things did not
go well.  He would be smiling along pleasantly enough, when a sudden
spasm of his disease would take him and he would go out of his smile into
a perfect fury.  He would groan and wail and howl with the anguish, and
fill up the odd chinks with the most elaborate profanity that strong
convictions and a fine fancy could contrive.  With fair opportunity he
could swear very well and handle his adjectives with considerable
judgment; but when the spasm was on him it was painful to listen to him,
he was so awkward.  However, I had seen him nurse a sick man himself and
put up patiently with the inconveniences of the situation, and
consequently I was willing that he should have full license now that his
own turn had come.  He could not disturb me, with all his raving and
ranting, for my mind had work on hand, and it labored on diligently,
night and day, whether my hands were idle or employed.  I was altering
and amending the plans for my house, and thinking over the propriety of
having the billard-room in the attic, instead of on the same floor with
the dining-room; also, I was trying to decide between green and blue for
the upholstery of the drawing-room, for, although my preference was blue
I feared it was a color that would be too easily damaged by dust and
sunlight; likewise while I was content to put the coachman in a modest
livery, I was uncertain about a footman--I needed one, and was even
resolved to have one, but wished he could properly appear and perform his
functions out of livery, for I somewhat dreaded so much show; and yet,
inasmuch as my late grandfather had had a coachman and such things, but
no liveries, I felt rather drawn to beat him;--or beat his ghost, at any
rate; I was also systematizing the European trip, and managed to get it
all laid out, as to route and length of time to be devoted to it
--everything, with one exception--namely, whether to cross the desert from
Cairo to Jerusalem per camel, or go by sea to Beirut, and thence down
through the country per caravan.  Meantime I was writing to the friends
at home every day, instructing them concerning all my plans and
intentions, and directing them to look up a handsome homestead for my
mother and agree upon a price for it against my coming, and also
directing them to sell my share of the Tennessee land and tender the
proceeds to the widows' and orphans' fund of the typographical union of
which I had long been a member in good standing.  [This Tennessee land
had been in the possession of the family many years, and promised to
confer high fortune upon us some day; it still promises it, but in a less
violent way.]

When I had been nursing the Captain nine days he was somewhat better,
but very feeble.  During the afternoon we lifted him into a chair and
gave him an alcoholic vapor bath, and then set about putting him on the
bed again.  We had to be exceedingly careful, for the least jar produced
pain.  Gardiner had his shoulders and I his legs; in an unfortunate
moment I stumbled and the patient fell heavily on the bed in an agony of
torture.  I never heard a man swear so in my life.  He raved like a
maniac, and tried to snatch a revolver from the table--but I got it.
He ordered me out of the house, and swore a world of oaths that he would
kill me wherever he caught me when he got on his feet again.  It was
simply a passing fury, and meant nothing.  I knew he would forget it in
an hour, and maybe be sorry for it, too; but it angered me a little, at
the moment.  So much so, indeed, that I determined to go back to
Esmeralda.  I thought he was able to get along alone, now, since he was
on the war path.  I took supper, and as soon as the moon rose, began my
nine-mile journey, on foot.

Even millionaires needed no horses, in those days, for a mere nine-mile
jaunt without baggage.

As I “raised the hill” overlooking the town, it lacked fifteen minutes of
twelve.  I glanced at the hill over beyond the canyon, and in the bright
moonlight saw what appeared to be about half the population of the
village massed on and around the Wide West croppings.  My heart gave an
exulting bound, and I said to myself, “They have made a new strike
to-night--and struck it richer than ever, no doubt.”  I started over
there, but gave it up.  I said the “strick” would keep, and I had climbed
hill enough for one night.  I went on down through the town, and as I was
passing a little German bakery, a woman ran out and begged me to come in
and help her.  She said her husband had a fit.  I went in, and judged she
was right--he appeared to have a hundred of them, compressed into one.
Two Germans were there, trying to hold him, and not making much of a
success of it.  I ran up the street half a block or so and routed out a
sleeping doctor, brought him down half dressed, and we four wrestled with
the maniac, and doctored, drenched and bled him, for more than an hour,
and the poor German woman did the crying.  He grew quiet, now, and the
doctor and I withdrew and left him to his friends.

It was a little after one o'clock.  As I entered the cabin door, tired
but jolly, the dingy light of a tallow candle revealed Higbie, sitting by
the pine table gazing stupidly at my note, which he held in his fingers,
and looking pale, old, and haggard.  I halted, and looked at him.  He
looked at me, stolidly.  I said:

“Higbie, what--what is it?”

“We're ruined--we didn't do the work--THE BLIND LEAD'S RELOCATED!”

It was enough.  I sat down sick, grieved--broken-hearted, indeed.  A
minute before, I was rich and brimful of vanity; I was a pauper now, and
very meek.  We sat still an hour, busy with thought, busy with vain and
useless self-upbraidings, busy with “Why didn't I do this, and why didn't
I do that,” but neither spoke a word.  Then we dropped into mutual
explanations, and the mystery was cleared away.  It came out that Higbie
had depended on me, as I had on him, and as both of us had on the
foreman.  The folly of it!  It was the first time that ever staid and
steadfast Higbie had left an important matter to chance or failed to be
true to his full share of a responsibility.

But he had never seen my note till this moment, and this moment was the
first time he had been in the cabin since the day he had seen me last.
He, also, had left a note for me, on that same fatal afternoon--had
ridden up on horseback, and looked through the window, and being in a
hurry and not seeing me, had tossed the note into the cabin through a
broken pane.  Here it was, on the floor, where it had remained
undisturbed for nine days:

      “Don't fail to do the work before the ten days expire.  W.
      has passed through and given me notice.  I am to join him at
      Mono Lake, and we shall go on from there to-night.  He says
      he will find it this time, sure.  CAL.”

“W.”  meant Whiteman, of course.  That thrice accursed “cement!”

That was the way of it.  An old miner, like Higbie, could no more
withstand the fascination of a mysterious mining excitement like this
“cement” foolishness, than he could refrain from eating when he was
famishing.  Higbie had been dreaming about the marvelous cement for
months; and now, against his better judgment, he had gone off and “taken
the chances” on my keeping secure a mine worth a million undiscovered
cement veins.  They had not been followed this time.  His riding out of
town in broad daylight was such a common-place thing to do that it had
not attracted any attention.  He said they prosecuted their search in the
fastnesses of the mountains during nine days, without success; they could
not find the cement.  Then a ghastly fear came over him that something
might have happened to prevent the doing of the necessary work to hold
the blind lead (though indeed he thought such a thing hardly possible),
and forthwith he started home with all speed.  He would have reached
Esmeralda in time, but his horse broke down and he had to walk a great
part of the distance.  And so it happened that as he came into Esmeralda
by one road, I entered it by another.  His was the superior energy,
however, for he went straight to the Wide West, instead of turning aside
as I had done--and he arrived there about five or ten minutes too late!
The “notice” was already up, the “relocation” of our mine completed
beyond recall, and the crowd rapidly dispersing.  He learned some facts
before he left the ground.  The foreman had not been seen about the
streets since the night we had located the mine--a telegram had called
him to California on a matter of life and death, it was said.  At any
rate he had done no work and the watchful eyes of the community were
taking note of the fact.  At midnight of this woful tenth day, the ledge
would be “relocatable,” and by eleven o'clock the hill was black with men
prepared to do the relocating.  That was the crowd I had seen when I
fancied a new “strike” had been made--idiot that I was.

[We three had the same right to relocate the lead that other people had,
provided we were quick enough.] As midnight was announced, fourteen men,
duly armed and ready to back their proceedings, put up their “notice” and
proclaimed their ownership of the blind lead, under the new name of the
“Johnson.”  But A. D. Allen our partner (the foreman) put in a sudden
appearance about that time, with a cocked revolver in his hand, and said
his name must be added to the list, or he would “thin out the Johnson
company some.”  He was a manly, splendid, determined fellow, and known to
be as good as his word, and therefore a compromise was effected.  They
put in his name for a hundred feet, reserving to themselves the customary
two hundred feet each.  Such was the history of the night's events, as
Higbie gathered from a friend on the way home.

Higbie and I cleared out on a new mining excitement the next morning,
glad to get away from the scene of our sufferings, and after a month or
two of hardship and disappointment, returned to Esmeralda once more.
Then we learned that the Wide West and the Johnson companies had
consolidated; that the stock, thus united, comprised five thousand feet,
or shares; that the foreman, apprehending tiresome litigation, and
considering such a huge concern unwieldy, had sold his hundred feet for
ninety thousand dollars in gold and gone home to the States to enjoy it.
If the stock was worth such a gallant figure, with five thousand shares
in the corporation, it makes me dizzy to think what it would have been
worth with only our original six hundred in it.  It was the difference
between six hundred men owning a house and five thousand owning it.  We
would have been millionaires if we had only worked with pick and spade
one little day on our property and so secured our ownership!

It reads like a wild fancy sketch, but the evidence of many witnesses,
and likewise that of the official records of Esmeralda District, is
easily obtainable in proof that it is a true history.  I can always have
it to say that I was absolutely and unquestionably worth a million
dollars, once, for ten days.

A year ago my esteemed and in every way estimable old millionaire
partner, Higbie, wrote me from an obscure little mining camp in
California that after nine or ten years of buffetings and hard striving,
he was at last in a position where he could command twenty-five hundred
dollars, and said he meant to go into the fruit business in a modest way.
How such a thought would have insulted him the night we lay in our cabin
planning European trips and brown stone houses on Russian Hill!


What to do next?

It was a momentous question.  I had gone out into the world to shift for
myself, at the age of thirteen (for my father had endorsed for friends;
and although he left us a sumptuous legacy of pride in his fine Virginian
stock and its national distinction, I presently found that I could not
live on that alone without occasional bread to wash it down with).  I had
gained a livelihood in various vocations, but had not dazzled anybody
with my successes; still the list was before me, and the amplest liberty
in the matter of choosing, provided I wanted to work--which I did not,
after being so wealthy.  I had once been a grocery clerk, for one day,
but had consumed so much sugar in that time that I was relieved from
further duty by the proprietor; said he wanted me outside, so that he
could have my custom.  I had studied law an entire week, and then given
it up because it was so prosy and tiresome.  I had engaged briefly in the
study of blacksmithing, but wasted so much time trying to fix the bellows
so that it would blow itself, that the master turned me adrift in
disgrace, and told me I would come to no good.  I had been a bookseller's
clerk for awhile, but the customers bothered me so much I could not read
with any comfort, and so the proprietor gave me a furlough and forgot to
put a limit to it.  I had clerked in a drug store part of a summer, but
my prescriptions were unlucky, and we appeared to sell more stomach pumps
than soda water.  So I had to go.  I had made of myself a tolerable
printer, under the impression that I would be another Franklin some day,
but somehow had missed the connection thus far.  There was no berth open
in the Esmeralda Union, and besides I had always been such a slow
compositor that I looked with envy upon the achievements of apprentices
of two years' standing; and when I took a “take,” foremen were in the
habit of suggesting that it would be wanted “some time during the year.”

I was a good average St. Louis and New Orleans pilot and by no means
ashamed of my abilities in that line; wages were two hundred and fifty
dollars a month and no board to pay, and I did long to stand behind a
wheel again and never roam any more--but I had been making such an ass of
myself lately in grandiloquent letters home about my blind lead and my
European excursion that I did what many and many a poor disappointed
miner had done before; said “It is all over with me now, and I will never
go back home to be pitied--and snubbed.”  I had been a private secretary,
a silver miner and a silver mill operative, and amounted to less than
nothing in each, and now--

What to do next?

I yielded to Higbie's appeals and consented to try the mining once more.
We climbed far up on the mountain side and went to work on a little
rubbishy claim of ours that had a shaft on it eight feet deep.  Higbie
descended into it and worked bravely with his pick till he had loosened
up a deal of rock and dirt and then I went down with a long-handled
shovel (the most awkward invention yet contrived by man) to throw it out.
You must brace the shovel forward with the side of your knee till it is
full, and then, with a skilful toss, throw it backward over your left
shoulder.  I made the toss, and landed the mess just on the edge of the
shaft and it all came back on my head and down the back of my neck.
I never said a word, but climbed out and walked home.  I inwardly
resolved that I would starve before I would make a target of myself and
shoot rubbish at it with a long-handled shovel.

I sat down, in the cabin, and gave myself up to solid misery--so to
speak.  Now in pleasanter days I had amused myself with writing letters
to the chief paper of the Territory, the Virginia Daily Territorial
Enterprise, and had always been surprised when they appeared in print.
My good opinion of the editors had steadily declined; for it seemed to me
that they might have found something better to fill up with than my
literature.  I had found a letter in the post office as I came home from
the hill side, and finally I opened it.  Eureka!  [I never did know what
Eureka meant, but it seems to be as proper a word to heave in as any when
no other that sounds pretty offers.] It was a deliberate offer to me of
Twenty-Five Dollars a week to come up to Virginia and be city editor of
the Enterprise.

I would have challenged the publisher in the “blind lead” days--I wanted
to fall down and worship him, now.  Twenty-Five Dollars a week--it looked
like bloated luxury--a fortune a sinful and lavish waste of money.
But my transports cooled when I thought of my inexperience and consequent
unfitness for the position--and straightway, on top of this, my long
array of failures rose up before me.  Yet if I refused this place I must
presently become dependent upon somebody for my bread, a thing
necessarily distasteful to a man who had never experienced such a
humiliation since he was thirteen years old.  Not much to be proud of,
since it is so common--but then it was all I had to be proud of.  So I
was scared into being a city editor.  I would have declined, otherwise.
Necessity is the mother of “taking chances.”  I do not doubt that if, at
that time, I had been offered a salary to translate the Talmud from the
original Hebrew, I would have accepted--albeit with diffidence and some
misgivings--and thrown as much variety into it as I could for the money.

I went up to Virginia and entered upon my new vocation.  I was a rusty
looking city editor, I am free to confess--coatless, slouch hat, blue
woolen shirt, pantaloons stuffed into boot-tops, whiskered half down to
the waist, and the universal navy revolver slung to my belt.  But I
secured a more Christian costume and discarded the revolver.

I had never had occasion to kill anybody, nor ever felt a desire to do
so, but had worn the thing in deference to popular sentiment, and in
order that I might not, by its absence, be offensively conspicuous, and a
subject of remark.  But the other editors, and all the printers, carried
revolvers.  I asked the chief editor and proprietor (Mr. Goodman, I will
call him, since it describes him as well as any name could do) for some
instructions with regard to my duties, and he told me to go all over town
and ask all sorts of people all sorts of questions, make notes of the
information gained, and write them out for publication.  And he added:

“Never say 'We learn' so-and-so, or 'It is reported,' or 'It is rumored,'
or 'We understand' so-and-so, but go to headquarters and get the absolute
facts, and then speak out and say 'It is so-and-so.'  Otherwise, people
will not put confidence in your news.  Unassailable certainly is the
thing that gives a newspaper the firmest and most valuable reputation.”

It was the whole thing in a nut-shell; and to this day when I find a
reporter commencing his article with “We understand,” I gather a
suspicion that he has not taken as much pains to inform himself as he
ought to have done.  I moralize well, but I did not always practise well
when I was a city editor; I let fancy get the upper hand of fact too
often when there was a dearth of news.  I can never forget my first day's
experience as a reporter.  I wandered about town questioning everybody,
boring everybody, and finding out that nobody knew anything.  At the end
of five hours my notebook was still barren.  I spoke to Mr. Goodman.  He

“Dan used to make a good thing out of the hay wagons in a dry time when
there were no fires or inquests.  Are there no hay wagons in from the
Truckee?  If there are, you might speak of the renewed activity and all
that sort of thing, in the hay business, you know.

“It isn't sensational or exciting, but it fills up and looks business

I canvassed the city again and found one wretched old hay truck dragging
in from the country.  But I made affluent use of it.  I multiplied it by
sixteen, brought it into town from sixteen different directions, made
sixteen separate items out of it, and got up such another sweat about hay
as Virginia City had never seen in the world before.

This was encouraging.  Two nonpareil columns had to be filled, and I was
getting along.  Presently, when things began to look dismal again, a
desperado killed a man in a saloon and joy returned once more.  I never
was so glad over any mere trifle before in my life.  I said to the

“Sir, you are a stranger to me, but you have done me a kindness this day
which I can never forget.  If whole years of gratitude can be to you any
slight compensation, they shall be yours.  I was in trouble and you have
relieved me nobly and at a time when all seemed dark and drear.  Count me
your friend from this time forth, for I am not a man to forget a favor.”

If I did not really say that to him I at least felt a sort of itching
desire to do it.  I wrote up the murder with a hungry attention to
details, and when it was finished experienced but one regret--namely,
that they had not hanged my benefactor on the spot, so that I could work
him up too.

Next I discovered some emigrant wagons going into camp on the plaza and
found that they had lately come through the hostile Indian country and
had fared rather roughly.  I made the best of the item that the
circumstances permitted, and felt that if I were not confined within
rigid limits by the presence of the reporters of the other papers I could
add particulars that would make the article much more interesting.
However, I found one wagon that was going on to California, and made some
judicious inquiries of the proprietor.  When I learned, through his short
and surly answers to my cross-questioning, that he was certainly going on
and would not be in the city next day to make trouble, I got ahead of the
other papers, for I took down his list of names and added his party to
the killed and wounded.  Having more scope here, I put this wagon through
an Indian fight that to this day has no parallel in history.

My two columns were filled.  When I read them over in the morning I felt
that I had found my legitimate occupation at last.  I reasoned within
myself that news, and stirring news, too, was what a paper needed, and I
felt that I was peculiarly endowed with the ability to furnish it.
Mr. Goodman said that I was as good a reporter as Dan.  I desired no
higher commendation.  With encouragement like that, I felt that I could
take my pen and murder all the immigrants on the plains if need be and
the interests of the paper demanded it.


However, as I grew better acquainted with the business and learned the
run of the sources of information I ceased to require the aid of fancy to
any large extent, and became able to fill my columns without diverging
noticeably from the domain of fact.

I struck up friendships with the reporters of the other journals, and we
swapped “regulars” with each other and thus economized work.  “Regulars”
 are permanent sources of news, like courts, bullion returns, “clean-ups”
 at the quartz mills, and inquests.  Inasmuch as everybody went armed, we
had an inquest about every day, and so this department was naturally set
down among the “regulars.”  We had lively papers in those days.  My great
competitor among the reporters was Boggs of the Union.  He was an
excellent reporter.  Once in three or four months he would get a little
intoxicated, but as a general thing he was a wary and cautious drinker
although always ready to tamper a little with the enemy.  He had the
advantage of me in one thing; he could get the monthly public school
report and I could not, because the principal hated the Enterprise.
One snowy night when the report was due, I started out sadly wondering
how I was going to get it.  Presently, a few steps up the almost deserted
street I stumbled on Boggs and asked him where he was going.

“After the school report.”

“I'll go along with you.”

“No, sir.  I'll excuse you.”

“Just as you say.”

A saloon-keeper's boy passed by with a steaming pitcher of hot punch, and
Boggs snuffed the fragrance gratefully.  He gazed fondly after the boy
and saw him start up the Enterprise stairs.  I said:

“I wish you could help me get that school business, but since you can't,
I must run up to the Union office and see if I can get them to let me
have a proof of it after they have set it up, though I don't begin to
suppose they will.  Good night.”

“Hold on a minute.  I don't mind getting the report and sitting around
with the boys a little, while you copy it, if you're willing to drop down
to the principal's with me.”

“Now you talk like a rational being.  Come along.”

We plowed a couple of blocks through the snow, got the report and
returned to our office.  It was a short document and soon copied.
Meantime Boggs helped himself to the punch.  I gave the manuscript back
to him and we started out to get an inquest, for we heard pistol shots
near by.  We got the particulars with little loss of time, for it was
only an inferior sort of bar-room murder, and of little interest to the
public, and then we separated.  Away at three o'clock in the morning,
when we had gone to press and were having a relaxing concert as usual
--for some of the printers were good singers and others good performers on
the guitar and on that atrocity the accordion--the proprietor of the
Union strode in and desired to know if anybody had heard anything of
Boggs or the school report.  We stated the case, and all turned out to
help hunt for the delinquent.  We found him standing on a table in a
saloon, with an old tin lantern in one hand and the school report in the
other, haranguing a gang of intoxicated Cornish miners on the iniquity of
squandering the public moneys on education “when hundreds and hundreds of
honest hard-working men are literally starving for whiskey.”  [Riotous
applause.]  He had been assisting in a regal spree with those parties for
hours.  We dragged him away and put him to bed.

Of course there was no school report in the Union, and Boggs held me
accountable, though I was innocent of any intention or desire to compass
its absence from that paper and was as sorry as any one that the
misfortune had occurred.

But we were perfectly friendly.  The day that the school report was next
due, the proprietor of the “Genessee” mine furnished us a buggy and asked
us to go down and write something about the property--a very common
request and one always gladly acceded to when people furnished buggies,
for we were as fond of pleasure excursions as other people.  In due time
we arrived at the “mine”--nothing but a hole in the ground ninety feet
deep, and no way of getting down into it but by holding on to a rope and
being lowered with a windlass.  The workmen had just gone off somewhere
to dinner.  I was not strong enough to lower Boggs's bulk; so I took an
unlighted candle in my teeth, made a loop for my foot in the end of the
rope, implored Boggs not to go to sleep or let the windlass get the start
of him, and then swung out over the shaft.  I reached the bottom muddy
and bruised about the elbows, but safe.  I lit the candle, made an
examination of the rock, selected some specimens and shouted to Boggs to
hoist away.  No answer.  Presently a head appeared in the circle of
daylight away aloft, and a voice came down:

“Are you all set?”

“All set--hoist away.”

“Are you comfortable?”


“Could you wait a little?”

“Oh certainly--no particular hurry.”

“Well--good by.”

“Why?  Where are you going?”

“After the school report!”

And he did.  I staid down there an hour, and surprised the workmen when
they hauled up and found a man on the rope instead of a bucket of rock.
I walked home, too--five miles--up hill.  We had no school report next
morning; but the Union had.

Six months after my entry into journalism the grand “flush times” of
Silverland began, and they continued with unabated splendor for three
years.  All difficulty about filling up the “local department” ceased,
and the only trouble now was how to make the lengthened columns hold the
world of incidents and happenings that came to our literary net every
day.  Virginia had grown to be the “livest” town, for its age and
population, that America had ever produced.  The sidewalks swarmed with
people--to such an extent, indeed, that it was generally no easy matter
to stem the human tide.  The streets themselves were just as crowded with
quartz wagons, freight teams and other vehicles.  The procession was
endless.  So great was the pack, that buggies frequently had to wait half
an hour for an opportunity to cross the principal street.  Joy sat on
every countenance, and there was a glad, almost fierce, intensity in
every eye, that told of the money-getting schemes that were seething in
every brain and the high hope that held sway in every heart.  Money was
as plenty as dust; every individual considered himself wealthy, and a
melancholy countenance was nowhere to be seen.  There were military
companies, fire companies, brass bands, banks, hotels, theatres,
“hurdy-gurdy houses,” wide-open gambling palaces, political pow-wows,
civic processions, street fights, murders, inquests, riots, a whiskey
mill every fifteen steps, a Board of Aldermen, a Mayor, a City Surveyor,
a City Engineer, a Chief of the Fire Department, with First, Second and
Third Assistants, a Chief of Police, City Marshal and a large police
force, two Boards of Mining Brokers, a dozen breweries and half a dozen
jails and station-houses in full operation, and some talk of building a
church.  The “flush times” were in magnificent flower!  Large fire-proof
brick buildings were going up in the principal streets, and the wooden
suburbs were spreading out in all directions.  Town lots soared up to
prices that were amazing.

The great “Comstock lode” stretched its opulent length straight through
the town from north to south, and every mine on it was in diligent
process of development.  One of these mines alone employed six hundred
and seventy-five men, and in the matter of elections the adage was, “as
the 'Gould and Curry' goes, so goes the city.”  Laboring men's wages were
four and six dollars a day, and they worked in three “shifts” or gangs,
and the blasting and picking and shoveling went on without ceasing, night
and day.

The “city” of Virginia roosted royally midway up the steep side of Mount
Davidson, seven thousand two hundred feet above the level of the sea, and
in the clear Nevada atmosphere was visible from a distance of fifty
miles!  It claimed a population of fifteen thousand to eighteen thousand,
and all day long half of this little army swarmed the streets like bees
and the other half swarmed among the drifts and tunnels of the
“Comstock,” hundreds of feet down in the earth directly under those same
streets.  Often we felt our chairs jar, and heard the faint boom of a
blast down in the bowels of the earth under the office.

The mountain side was so steep that the entire town had a slant to it
like a roof.  Each street was a terrace, and from each to the next street
below the descent was forty or fifty feet.  The fronts of the houses were
level with the street they faced, but their rear first floors were
propped on lofty stilts; a man could stand at a rear first floor window
of a C street house and look down the chimneys of the row of houses below
him facing D street.  It was a laborious climb, in that thin atmosphere,
to ascend from D to A street, and you were panting and out of breath when
you got there; but you could turn around and go down again like a house
a-fire--so to speak.  The atmosphere was so rarified, on account of the
great altitude, that one's blood lay near the surface always, and the
scratch of a pin was a disaster worth worrying about, for the chances
were that a grievous erysipelas would ensue.  But to offset this, the
thin atmosphere seemed to carry healing to gunshot wounds, and therefore,
to simply shoot your adversary through both lungs was a thing not likely
to afford you any permanent satisfaction, for he would be nearly certain
to be around looking for you within the month, and not with an opera
glass, either.

From Virginia's airy situation one could look over a vast, far-reaching
panorama of mountain ranges and deserts; and whether the day was bright
or overcast, whether the sun was rising or setting, or flaming in the
zenith, or whether night and the moon held sway, the spectacle was always
impressive and beautiful.  Over your head Mount Davidson lifted its gray
dome, and before and below you a rugged canyon clove the battlemented
hills, making a sombre gateway through which a soft-tinted desert was
glimpsed, with the silver thread of a river winding through it, bordered
with trees which many miles of distance diminished to a delicate fringe;
and still further away the snowy mountains rose up and stretched their
long barrier to the filmy horizon--far enough beyond a lake that burned
in the desert like a fallen sun, though that, itself, lay fifty miles
removed.  Look from your window where you would, there was fascination in
the picture.  At rare intervals--but very rare--there were clouds in our
skies, and then the setting sun would gild and flush and glorify this
mighty expanse of scenery with a bewildering pomp of color that held the
eye like a spell and moved the spirit like music.


My salary was increased to forty dollars a week.  But I seldom drew it.
I had plenty of other resources, and what were two broad twenty-dollar
gold pieces to a man who had his pockets full of such and a cumbersome
abundance of bright half dollars besides?  [Paper money has never come
into use on the Pacific coast.]  Reporting was lucrative, and every man
in the town was lavish with his money and his “feet.”  The city and all
the great mountain side were riddled with mining shafts.  There were more
mines than miners.  True, not ten of these mines were yielding rock worth
hauling to a mill, but everybody said, “Wait till the shaft gets down
where the ledge comes in solid, and then you will see!”  So nobody was
discouraged.  These were nearly all “wild cat” mines, and wholly
worthless, but nobody believed it then.  The “Ophir,” the “Gould &
Curry,” the “Mexican,” and other great mines on the Comstock lead in
Virginia and Gold Hill were turning out huge piles of rich rock every
day, and every man believed that his little wild cat claim was as good as
any on the “main lead” and would infallibly be worth a thousand dollars a
foot when he “got down where it came in solid.”  Poor fellow, he was
blessedly blind to the fact that he never would see that day.  So the
thousand wild cat shafts burrowed deeper and deeper into the earth day by
day, and all men were beside themselves with hope and happiness.  How
they labored, prophesied, exulted!  Surely nothing like it was ever seen
before since the world began.  Every one of these wild cat mines--not
mines, but holes in the ground over imaginary mines--was incorporated and
had handsomely engraved “stock” and the stock was salable, too.  It was
bought and sold with a feverish avidity in the boards every day.  You
could go up on the mountain side, scratch around and find a ledge (there
was no lack of them), put up a “notice” with a grandiloquent name in it,
start a shaft, get your stock printed, and with nothing whatever to prove
that your mine was worth a straw, you could put your stock on the market
and sell out for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.  To make money,
and make it fast, was as easy as it was to eat your dinner.

Every man owned “feet” in fifty different wild cat mines and considered
his fortune made.  Think of a city with not one solitary poor man in it!
One would suppose that when month after month went by and still not a
wild cat mine (by wild cat I mean, in general terms, any claim not
located on the mother vein, i.e., the “Comstock”) yielded a ton of rock
worth crushing, the people would begin to wonder if they were not putting
too much faith in their prospective riches; but there was not a thought
of such a thing.  They burrowed away, bought and sold, and were happy.

New claims were taken up daily, and it was the friendly custom to run
straight to the newspaper offices, give the reporter forty or fifty
“feet,” and get them to go and examine the mine and publish a notice of
it.  They did not care a fig what you said about the property so you said
something.  Consequently we generally said a word or two to the effect
that the “indications” were good, or that the ledge was “six feet wide,”
 or that the rock “resembled the Comstock” (and so it did--but as a
general thing the resemblance was not startling enough to knock you
down).  If the rock was moderately promising, we followed the custom of
the country, used strong adjectives and frothed at the mouth as if a very
marvel in silver discoveries had transpired.  If the mine was a
“developed” one, and had no pay ore to show (and of course it hadn't), we
praised the tunnel; said it was one of the most infatuating tunnels in
the land; driveled and driveled about the tunnel till we ran entirely out
of ecstasies--but never said a word about the rock.  We would squander
half a column of adulation on a shaft, or a new wire rope, or a dressed
pine windlass, or a fascinating force pump, and close with a burst of
admiration of the “gentlemanly and efficient Superintendent” of the mine
--but never utter a whisper about the rock.  And those people were always
pleased, always satisfied.  Occasionally we patched up and varnished our
reputation for discrimination and stern, undeviating accuracy, by giving
some old abandoned claim a blast that ought to have made its dry bones
rattle--and then somebody would seize it and sell it on the fleeting
notoriety thus conferred upon it.

There was nothing in the shape of a mining claim that was not salable.
We received presents of “feet” every day.  If we needed a hundred dollars
or so, we sold some; if not, we hoarded it away, satisfied that it would
ultimately be worth a thousand dollars a foot.  I had a trunk about half
full of “stock.”  When a claim made a stir in the market and went up to a
high figure, I searched through my pile to see if I had any of its stock
--and generally found it.

The prices rose and fell constantly; but still a fall disturbed us
little, because a thousand dollars a foot was our figure, and so we were
content to let it fluctuate as much as it pleased till it reached it.
My pile of stock was not all given to me by people who wished their
claims “noticed.”  At least half of it was given me by persons who had no
thought of such a thing, and looked for nothing more than a simple verbal
“thank you;” and you were not even obliged by law to furnish that.
If you are coming up the street with a couple of baskets of apples in
your hands, and you meet a friend, you naturally invite him to take a
few.  That describes the condition of things in Virginia in the “flush
times.”  Every man had his pockets full of stock, and it was the actual
custom of the country to part with small quantities of it to friends
without the asking.

Very often it was a good idea to close the transaction instantly, when a
man offered a stock present to a friend, for the offer was only good and
binding at that moment, and if the price went to a high figure shortly
afterward the procrastination was a thing to be regretted.  Mr. Stewart
(Senator, now, from Nevada) one day told me he would give me twenty feet
of “Justis” stock if I would walk over to his office.  It was worth five
or ten dollars a foot.  I asked him to make the offer good for next day,
as I was just going to dinner.  He said he would not be in town; so I
risked it and took my dinner instead of the stock.  Within the week the
price went up to seventy dollars and afterward to a hundred and fifty,
but nothing could make that man yield.  I suppose he sold that stock of
mine and placed the guilty proceeds in his own pocket.  [My revenge will
be found in the accompanying portrait.]  I met three friends one
afternoon, who said they had been buying “Overman” stock at auction at
eight dollars a foot.  One said if I would come up to his office he would
give me fifteen feet; another said he would add fifteen; the third said
he would do the same.  But I was going after an inquest and could not
stop.  A few weeks afterward they sold all their “Overman” at six hundred
dollars a foot and generously came around to tell me about it--and also
to urge me to accept of the next forty-five feet of it that people tried
to force on me.

These are actual facts, and I could make the list a long one and still
confine myself strictly to the truth.  Many a time friends gave us as
much as twenty-five feet of stock that was selling at twenty-five dollars
a foot, and they thought no more of it than they would of offering a
guest a cigar.  These were “flush times” indeed!  I thought they were
going to last always, but somehow I never was much of a prophet.

To show what a wild spirit possessed the mining brain of the community,
I will remark that “claims” were actually “located” in excavations for
cellars, where the pick had exposed what seemed to be quartz veins--and
not cellars in the suburbs, either, but in the very heart of the city;
and forthwith stock would be issued and thrown on the market.  It was
small matter who the cellar belonged to--the “ledge” belonged to the
finder, and unless the United States government interfered (inasmuch as
the government holds the primary right to mines of the noble metals in
Nevada--or at least did then), it was considered to be his privilege to
work it.  Imagine a stranger staking out a mining claim among the costly
shrubbery in your front yard and calmly proceeding to lay waste the
ground with pick and shovel and blasting powder!  It has been often done
in California.  In the middle of one of the principal business streets of
Virginia, a man “located” a mining claim and began a shaft on it.  He
gave me a hundred feet of the stock and I sold it for a fine suit of
clothes because I was afraid somebody would fall down the shaft and sue
for damages.  I owned in another claim that was located in the middle of
another street; and to show how absurd people can be, that “East India”
 stock (as it was called) sold briskly although there was an ancient
tunnel running directly under the claim and any man could go into it and
see that it did not cut a quartz ledge or anything that remotely
resembled one.

One plan of acquiring sudden wealth was to “salt” a wild cat claim and
sell out while the excitement was up.  The process was simple.

The schemer located a worthless ledge, sunk a shaft on it, bought a wagon
load of rich “Comstock” ore, dumped a portion of it into the shaft and
piled the rest by its side, above ground.  Then he showed the property to
a simpleton and sold it to him at a high figure.  Of course the wagon
load of rich ore was all that the victim ever got out of his purchase.
A most remarkable case of “salting” was that of the “North Ophir.”
 It was claimed that this vein was a “remote extension” of the original
“Ophir,” a valuable mine on the “Comstock.”  For a few days everybody was
talking about the rich developments in the North Ophir.  It was said that
it yielded perfectly pure silver in small, solid lumps.  I went to the
place with the owners, and found a shaft six or eight feet deep, in the
bottom of which was a badly shattered vein of dull, yellowish,
unpromising rock.  One would as soon expect to find silver in a
grindstone.  We got out a pan of the rubbish and washed it in a puddle,
and sure enough, among the sediment we found half a dozen black,
bullet-looking pellets of unimpeachable “native” silver.  Nobody had ever
heard of such a thing before; science could not account for such a queer
novelty.  The stock rose to sixty-five dollars a foot, and at this figure
the world-renowned tragedian, McKean Buchanan, bought a commanding
interest and prepared to quit the stage once more--he was always doing
that.  And then it transpired that the mine had been “salted”--and not in
any hackneyed way, either, but in a singularly bold, barefaced and
peculiarly original and outrageous fashion.  On one of the lumps of
“native” silver was discovered the minted legend, “TED STATES OF,” and
then it was plainly apparent that the mine had been “salted” with melted
half-dollars!  The lumps thus obtained had been blackened till they
resembled native silver, and were then mixed with the shattered rock in
the bottom of the shaft.  It is literally true.  Of course the price of
the stock at once fell to nothing, and the tragedian was ruined.  But for
this calamity we might have lost McKean Buchanan from the stage.


The “flush times” held bravely on.  Something over two years before, Mr.
Goodman and another journeyman printer, had borrowed forty dollars and
set out from San Francisco to try their fortunes in the new city of
Virginia.  They found the Territorial Enterprise, a poverty-stricken
weekly journal, gasping for breath and likely to die.  They bought it,
type, fixtures, good-will and all, for a thousand dollars, on long time.
The editorial sanctum, news-room, press-room, publication office,
bed-chamber, parlor, and kitchen were all compressed into one apartment
and it was a small one, too.  The editors and printers slept on the
floor, a Chinaman did their cooking, and the “imposing-stone” was the
general dinner table.  But now things were changed.  The paper was a
great daily, printed by steam; there were five editors and twenty-three
compositors; the subscription price was sixteen dollars a year; the
advertising rates were exorbitant, and the columns crowded.  The paper
was clearing from six to ten thousand dollars a month, and the
“Enterprise Building” was finished and ready for occupation--a stately
fireproof brick.  Every day from five all the way up to eleven columns
of “live” advertisements were left out or crowded into spasmodic and
irregular “supplements.”

The “Gould & Curry” company were erecting a monster hundred-stamp mill at
a cost that ultimately fell little short of a million dollars.  Gould &
Curry stock paid heavy dividends--a rare thing, and an experience
confined to the dozen or fifteen claims located on the “main lead,” the
“Comstock.”  The Superintendent of the Gould & Curry lived, rent free, in
a fine house built and furnished by the company.  He drove a fine pair of
horses which were a present from the company, and his salary was twelve
thousand dollars a year.  The superintendent of another of the great
mines traveled in grand state, had a salary of twenty-eight thousand
dollars a year, and in a law suit in after days claimed that he was to
have had one per cent. on the gross yield of the bullion likewise.

Money was wonderfully plenty.  The trouble was, not how to get it,--but
how to spend it, how to lavish it, get rid of it, squander it.  And so it
was a happy thing that just at this juncture the news came over the wires
that a great United States Sanitary Commission had been formed and money
was wanted for the relief of the wounded sailors and soldiers of the
Union languishing in the Eastern hospitals.  Right on the heels of it
came word that San Francisco had responded superbly before the telegram
was half a day old.  Virginia rose as one man!  A Sanitary Committee was
hurriedly organized, and its chairman mounted a vacant cart in C street
and tried to make the clamorous multitude understand that the rest of the
committee were flying hither and thither and working with all their might
and main, and that if the town would only wait an hour, an office would
be ready, books opened, and the Commission prepared to receive
contributions.  His voice was drowned and his information lost in a
ceaseless roar of cheers, and demands that the money be received now
--they swore they would not wait.  The chairman pleaded and argued, but,
deaf to all entreaty, men plowed their way through the throng and rained
checks of gold coin into the cart and skurried away for more.  Hands
clutching money, were thrust aloft out of the jam by men who hoped this
eloquent appeal would cleave a road their strugglings could not open.
The very Chinamen and Indians caught the excitement and dashed their half
dollars into the cart without knowing or caring what it was all about.
Women plunged into the crowd, trimly attired, fought their way to the
cart with their coin, and emerged again, by and by, with their apparel in
a state of hopeless dilapidation.  It was the wildest mob Virginia had
ever seen and the most determined and ungovernable; and when at last it
abated its fury and dispersed, it had not a penny in its pocket.

To use its own phraseology, it came there “flush” and went away “busted.”

After that, the Commission got itself into systematic working order, and
for weeks the contributions flowed into its treasury in a generous
stream.  Individuals and all sorts of organizations levied upon
themselves a regular weekly tax for the sanitary fund, graduated
according to their means, and there was not another grand universal
outburst till the famous “Sanitary Flour Sack” came our way.  Its history
is peculiar and interesting.  A former schoolmate of mine, by the name of
Reuel Gridley, was living at the little city of Austin, in the Reese
river country, at this time, and was the Democratic candidate for mayor.
He and the Republican candidate made an agreement that the defeated man
should be publicly presented with a fifty-pound sack of flour by the
successful one, and should carry it home on his shoulder.  Gridley was
defeated.  The new mayor gave him the sack of flour, and he shouldered it
and carried it a mile or two, from Lower Austin to his home in Upper
Austin, attended by a band of music and the whole population.  Arrived
there, he said he did not need the flour, and asked what the people
thought he had better do with it.  A voice said:

“Sell it to the highest bidder, for the benefit of the Sanitary fund.”

The suggestion was greeted with a round of applause, and Gridley mounted
a dry-goods box and assumed the role of auctioneer.  The bids went higher
and higher, as the sympathies of the pioneers awoke and expanded, till at
last the sack was knocked down to a mill man at two hundred and fifty
dollars, and his check taken.  He was asked where he would have the flour
delivered, and he said:

“Nowhere--sell it again.”

Now the cheers went up royally, and the multitude were fairly in the
spirit of the thing.  So Gridley stood there and shouted and perspired
till the sun went down; and when the crowd dispersed he had sold the sack
to three hundred different people, and had taken in eight thousand
dollars in gold.  And still the flour sack was in his possession.

The news came to Virginia, and a telegram went back:

“Fetch along your flour sack!”

Thirty-six hours afterward Gridley arrived, and an afternoon mass meeting
was held in the Opera House, and the auction began.  But the sack had
come sooner than it was expected; the people were not thoroughly aroused,
and the sale dragged.  At nightfall only five thousand dollars had been
secured, and there was a crestfallen feeling in the community.  However,
there was no disposition to let the matter rest here and acknowledge
vanquishment at the hands of the village of Austin.  Till late in the
night the principal citizens were at work arranging the morrow's
campaign, and when they went to bed they had no fears for the result.
At eleven the next morning a procession of open carriages, attended by
clamorous bands of music and adorned with a moving display of flags,
filed along C street and was soon in danger of blockade by a huzzaing
multitude of citizens.  In the first carriage sat Gridley, with the flour
sack in prominent view, the latter splendid with bright paint and gilt
lettering; also in the same carriage sat the mayor and the recorder.
The other carriages contained the Common Council, the editors and
reporters, and other people of imposing consequence.  The crowd pressed
to the corner of C and Taylor streets, expecting the sale to begin there,
but they were disappointed, and also unspeakably surprised; for the
cavalcade moved on as if Virginia had ceased to be of importance, and
took its way over the “divide,” toward the small town of Gold Hill.
Telegrams had gone ahead to Gold Hill, Silver City and Dayton, and those
communities were at fever heat and rife for the conflict.  It was a very
hot day, and wonderfully dusty.  At the end of a short half hour we
descended into Gold Hill with drums beating and colors flying, and
enveloped in imposing clouds of dust.  The whole population--men, women
and children, Chinamen and Indians, were massed in the main street, all
the flags in town were at the mast head, and the blare of the bands was
drowned in cheers.  Gridley stood up and asked who would make the first
bid for the National Sanitary Flour Sack.  Gen. W. said:

“The Yellow Jacket silver mining company offers a thousand dollars,

A tempest of applause followed.  A telegram carried the news to Virginia,
and fifteen minutes afterward that city's population was massed in the
streets devouring the tidings--for it was part of the programme that the
bulletin boards should do a good work that day.  Every few minutes a new
dispatch was bulletined from Gold Hill, and still the excitement grew.
Telegrams began to return to us from Virginia beseeching Gridley to bring
back the flour sack; but such was not the plan of the campaign.  At the
end of an hour Gold Hill's small population had paid a figure for the
flour sack that awoke all the enthusiasm of Virginia when the grand total
was displayed upon the bulletin boards.  Then the Gridley cavalcade moved
on, a giant refreshed with new lager beer and plenty of it--for the
people brought it to the carriages without waiting to measure it--and
within three hours more the expedition had carried Silver City and Dayton
by storm and was on its way back covered with glory.  Every move had been
telegraphed and bulletined, and as the procession entered Virginia and
filed down C street at half past eight in the evening the town was abroad
in the thoroughfares, torches were glaring, flags flying, bands playing,
cheer on cheer cleaving the air, and the city ready to surrender at
discretion.  The auction began, every bid was greeted with bursts of
applause, and at the end of two hours and a half a population of fifteen
thousand souls had paid in coin for a fifty-pound sack of flour a sum
equal to forty thousand dollars in greenbacks!  It was at a rate in the
neighborhood of three dollars for each man, woman and child of the
population.  The grand total would have been twice as large, but the
streets were very narrow, and hundreds who wanted to bid could not get
within a block of the stand, and could not make themselves heard.  These
grew tired of waiting and many of them went home long before the auction
was over.  This was the greatest day Virginia ever saw, perhaps.

Gridley sold the sack in Carson city and several California towns; also
in San Francisco.  Then he took it east and sold it in one or two
Atlantic cities, I think.  I am not sure of that, but I know that he
finally carried it to St. Louis, where a monster Sanitary Fair was being
held, and after selling it there for a large sum and helping on the
enthusiasm by displaying the portly silver bricks which Nevada's donation
had produced, he had the flour baked up into small cakes and retailed
them at high prices.

It was estimated that when the flour sack's mission was ended it had been
sold for a grand total of a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in
greenbacks!  This is probably the only instance on record where common
family flour brought three thousand dollars a pound in the public market.

It is due to Mr. Gridley's memory to mention that the expenses of his
sanitary flour sack expedition of fifteen thousand miles, going and
returning, were paid in large part if not entirely, out of his own
pocket.  The time he gave to it was not less than three months.
Mr. Gridley was a soldier in the Mexican war and a pioneer Californian.
He died at Stockton, California, in December, 1870, greatly regretted.


There were nabobs in those days--in the “flush times,” I mean.  Every
rich strike in the mines created one or two.  I call to mind several of
these.  They were careless, easy-going fellows, as a general thing, and
the community at large was as much benefited by their riches as they were
themselves--possibly more, in some cases.

Two cousins, teamsters, did some hauling for a man and had to take a
small segregated portion of a silver mine in lieu of $300 cash.  They
gave an outsider a third to open the mine, and they went on teaming.  But
not long.  Ten months afterward the mine was out of debt and paying each
owner $8,000 to $10,000 a month--say $100,000 a year.

One of the earliest nabobs that Nevada was delivered of wore $6,000 worth
of diamonds in his bosom, and swore he was unhappy because he could not
spend his money as fast as he made it.

Another Nevada nabob boasted an income that often reached $16,000 a
month; and he used to love to tell how he had worked in the very mine
that yielded it, for five dollars a day, when he first came to the

The silver and sage-brush State has knowledge of another of these pets of
fortune--lifted from actual poverty to affluence almost in a single
night--who was able to offer $100,000 for a position of high official
distinction, shortly afterward, and did offer it--but failed to get it,
his politics not being as sound as his bank account.

Then there was John Smith.  He was a good, honest, kind-hearted soul,
born and reared in the lower ranks of life, and miraculously ignorant.
He drove a team, and owned a small ranch--a ranch that paid him a
comfortable living, for although it yielded but little hay, what little
it did yield was worth from $250 to $300 in gold per ton in the market.
Presently Smith traded a few acres of the ranch for a small undeveloped
silver mine in Gold Hill.  He opened the mine and built a little
unpretending ten-stamp mill.  Eighteen months afterward he retired from
the hay business, for his mining income had reached a most comfortable
figure.  Some people said it was $30,000 a month, and others said it was
$60,000.  Smith was very rich at any rate.

And then he went to Europe and traveled.  And when he came back he was
never tired of telling about the fine hogs he had seen in England, and
the gorgeous sheep he had seen in Spain, and the fine cattle he had
noticed in the vicinity of Rome.  He was full of wonders of the old
world, and advised everybody to travel.  He said a man never imagined
what surprising things there were in the world till he had traveled.

One day, on board ship, the passengers made up a pool of $500, which was
to be the property of the man who should come nearest to guessing the run
of the vessel for the next twenty-four hours.  Next day, toward noon, the
figures were all in the purser's hands in sealed envelopes.  Smith was
serene and happy, for he had been bribing the engineer.  But another
party won the prize!  Smith said:

“Here, that won't do!  He guessed two miles wider of the mark than I did.”

The purser said, “Mr. Smith, you missed it further than any man on board.
We traveled two hundred and eight miles yesterday.”

“Well, sir,” said Smith, “that's just where I've got you, for I guessed
two hundred and nine.  If you'll look at my figgers again you'll find a 2
and two 0's, which stands for 200, don't it?--and after 'em you'll find a
9 (2009), which stands for two hundred and nine.  I reckon I'll take that
money, if you please.”

The Gould & Curry claim comprised twelve hundred feet, and it all
belonged originally to the two men whose names it bears.  Mr. Curry owned
two thirds of it--and he said that he sold it out for twenty-five hundred
dollars in cash, and an old plug horse that ate up his market value in
hay and barley in seventeen days by the watch.  And he said that Gould
sold out for a pair of second-hand government blankets and a bottle of
whisky that killed nine men in three hours, and that an unoffending
stranger that smelt the cork was disabled for life.  Four years afterward
the mine thus disposed of was worth in the San Francisco market seven
millions six hundred thousand dollars in gold coin.

In the early days a poverty-stricken Mexican who lived in a canyon
directly back of Virginia City, had a stream of water as large as a man's
wrist trickling from the hill-side on his premises.  The Ophir Company
segregated a hundred feet of their mine and traded it to him for the
stream of water.  The hundred feet proved to be the richest part of the
entire mine; four years after the swap, its market value (including its
mill) was $1,500,000.

An individual who owned twenty feet in the Ophir mine before its great
riches were revealed to men, traded it for a horse, and a very sorry
looking brute he was, too.  A year or so afterward, when Ophir stock went
up to $3,000 a foot, this man, who had not a cent, used to say he was the
most startling example of magnificence and misery the world had ever
seen--because he was able to ride a sixty-thousand-dollar horse--yet
could not scrape up cash enough to buy a saddle, and was obliged to
borrow one or ride bareback.  He said if fortune were to give him another
sixty-thousand-dollar horse it would ruin him.

A youth of nineteen, who was a telegraph operator in Virginia on a salary
of a hundred dollars a month, and who, when he could not make out German
names in the list of San Francisco steamer arrivals, used to ingeniously
select and supply substitutes for them out of an old Berlin city
directory, made himself rich by watching the mining telegrams that passed
through his hands and buying and selling stocks accordingly, through a
friend in San Francisco.  Once when a private dispatch was sent from
Virginia announcing a rich strike in a prominent mine and advising that
the matter be kept secret till a large amount of the stock could be
secured, he bought forty “feet” of the stock at twenty dollars a foot,
and afterward sold half of it at eight hundred dollars a foot and the
rest at double that figure.  Within three months he was worth $150,000,
and had resigned his telegraphic position.

Another telegraph operator who had been discharged by the company for
divulging the secrets of the office, agreed with a moneyed man in San
Francisco to furnish him the result of a great Virginia mining lawsuit
within an hour after its private reception by the parties to it in San
Francisco.  For this he was to have a large percentage of the profits on
purchases and sales made on it by his fellow-conspirator.  So he went,
disguised as a teamster, to a little wayside telegraph office in the
mountains, got acquainted with the operator, and sat in the office day
after day, smoking his pipe, complaining that his team was fagged out and
unable to travel--and meantime listening to the dispatches as they passed
clicking through the machine from Virginia.  Finally the private dispatch
announcing the result of the lawsuit sped over the wires, and as soon as
he heard it he telegraphed his friend in San Francisco:

“Am tired waiting.  Shall sell the team and go home.”

It was the signal agreed upon.  The word “waiting” left out, would have
signified that the suit had gone the other way.

The mock teamster's friend picked up a deal of the mining stock, at low
figures, before the news became public, and a fortune was the result.

For a long time after one of the great Virginia mines had been
incorporated, about fifty feet of the original location were still in the
hands of a man who had never signed the incorporation papers.  The stock
became very valuable, and every effort was made to find this man, but he
had disappeared.  Once it was heard that he was in New York, and one or
two speculators went east but failed to find him.  Once the news came
that he was in the Bermudas, and straightway a speculator or two hurried
east and sailed for Bermuda--but he was not there.  Finally he was heard
of in Mexico, and a friend of his, a bar-keeper on a salary, scraped
together a little money and sought him out, bought his “feet” for a
hundred dollars, returned and sold the property for $75,000.

But why go on?  The traditions of Silverland are filled with instances
like these, and I would never get through enumerating them were I to
attempt do it.  I only desired to give, the reader an idea of a
peculiarity of the “flush times” which I could not present so strikingly
in any other way, and which some mention of was necessary to a realizing
comprehension of the time and the country.

I was personally acquainted with the majority of the nabobs I have
referred to, and so, for old acquaintance sake, I have shifted their
occupations and experiences around in such a way as to keep the Pacific
public from recognizing these once notorious men.  No longer notorious,
for the majority of them have drifted back into poverty and obscurity

In Nevada there used to be current the story of an adventure of two of
her nabobs, which may or may not have occurred.  I give it for what it is

Col. Jim had seen somewhat of the world, and knew more or less of its
ways; but Col. Jack was from the back settlements of the States, had led
a life of arduous toil, and had never seen a city.  These two, blessed
with sudden wealth, projected a visit to New York,--Col. Jack to see the
sights, and Col. Jim to guard his unsophistication from misfortune.  They
reached San Francisco in the night, and sailed in the morning.  Arrived
in New York, Col.  Jack said:

“I've heard tell of carriages all my life, and now I mean to have a ride
in one; I don't care what it costs.  Come along.”

They stepped out on the sidewalk, and Col. Jim called a stylish barouche.
But Col. Jack said:

“No, sir!  None of your cheap-John turn-outs for me.  I'm here to have a
good time, and money ain't any object.  I mean to have the nobbiest rig
that's going.  Now here comes the very trick.  Stop that yaller one with
the pictures on it--don't you fret--I'll stand all the expenses myself.”

So Col. Jim stopped an empty omnibus, and they got in.  Said Col. Jack:

“Ain't it gay, though?  Oh, no, I reckon not!  Cushions, and windows, and
pictures, till you can't rest.  What would the boys say if they could see
us cutting a swell like this in New York?  By George, I wish they could
see us.”

Then he put his head out of the window, and shouted to the driver:

“Say, Johnny, this suits me!--suits yours truly, you bet, you!  I want
this shebang all day.  I'm on it, old man!  Let 'em out!  Make 'em go!
We'll make it all right with you, sonny!”

The driver passed his hand through the strap-hole, and tapped for his
fare--it was before the gongs came into common use.  Col. Jack took the
hand, and shook it cordially.  He said:

“You twig me, old pard!  All right between gents.  Smell of that, and see
how you like it!”

And he put a twenty-dollar gold piece in the driver's hand.  After a
moment the driver said he could not make change.

“Bother the change!  Ride it out.  Put it in your pocket.”

Then to Col.  Jim, with a sounding slap on his thigh:

“Ain't it style, though?  Hanged if I don't hire this thing every day for
a week.”

The omnibus stopped, and a young lady got in.  Col. Jack stared a moment,
then nudged Col. Jim with his elbow:

“Don't say a word,” he whispered.  “Let her ride, if she wants to.
Gracious, there's room enough.”

The young lady got out her porte-monnaie, and handed her fare to Col.

“What's this for?”  said he.

“Give it to the driver, please.”

“Take back your money, madam.  We can't allow it.  You're welcome to ride
here as long as you please, but this shebang's chartered, and we can't
let you pay a cent.”

The girl shrunk into a corner, bewildered.  An old lady with a basket
climbed in, and proffered her fare.

“Excuse me,” said Col. Jack.  “You're perfectly welcome here, madam, but
we can't allow you to pay.  Set right down there, mum, and don't you be
the least uneasy.  Make yourself just as free as if you was in your own

Within two minutes, three gentlemen, two fat women, and a couple of
children, entered.

“Come right along, friends,” said Col.  Jack; “don't mind us.  This is a
free blow-out.”  Then he whispered to Col.  Jim,

“New York ain't no sociable place, I don't reckon--it ain't no name for

He resisted every effort to pass fares to the driver, and made everybody
cordially welcome.  The situation dawned on the people, and they pocketed
their money, and delivered themselves up to covert enjoyment of the
episode.  Half a dozen more passengers entered.

“Oh, there's plenty of room,” said Col.  Jack.  “Walk right in, and make
yourselves at home.  A blow-out ain't worth anything as a blow-out,
unless a body has company.”  Then in a whisper to Col.  Jim: “But ain't
these New Yorkers friendly?  And ain't they cool about it, too?  Icebergs
ain't anywhere.  I reckon they'd tackle a hearse, if it was going their

More passengers got in; more yet, and still more.  Both seats were
filled, and a file of men were standing up, holding on to the cleats
overhead.  Parties with baskets and bundles were climbing up on the roof.
Half-suppressed laughter rippled up from all sides.

“Well, for clean, cool, out-and-out cheek, if this don't bang anything
that ever I saw, I'm an Injun!” whispered Col. Jack.

A Chinaman crowded his way in.

“I weaken!” said Col. Jack.  “Hold on, driver!  Keep your seats, ladies,
and gents.  Just make yourselves free--everything's paid for.  Driver,
rustle these folks around as long as they're a mind to go--friends of
ours, you know.  Take them everywheres--and if you want more money, come
to the St. Nicholas, and we'll make it all right.  Pleasant journey to
you, ladies and gents--go it just as long as you please--it shan't cost
you a cent!”

The two comrades got out, and Col. Jack said:

“Jimmy, it's the sociablest place I ever saw.  The Chinaman waltzed in as
comfortable as anybody.  If we'd staid awhile, I reckon we'd had some
niggers.  B' George, we'll have to barricade our doors to-night, or some
of these ducks will be trying to sleep with us.”


Somebody has said that in order to know a community, one must observe the
style of its funerals and know what manner of men they bury with most
ceremony.  I cannot say which class we buried with most eclat in our
“flush times,” the distinguished public benefactor or the distinguished
rough--possibly the two chief grades or grand divisions of society
honored their illustrious dead about equally; and hence, no doubt the
philosopher I have quoted from would have needed to see two
representative funerals in Virginia before forming his estimate of the

There was a grand time over Buck Fanshaw when he died.  He was a
representative citizen.  He had “killed his man”--not in his own quarrel,
it is true, but in defence of a stranger unfairly beset by numbers.
He had kept a sumptuous saloon.  He had been the proprietor of a dashing
helpmeet whom he could have discarded without the formality of a divorce.
He had held a high position in the fire department and been a very
Warwick in politics.  When he died there was great lamentation throughout
the town, but especially in the vast bottom-stratum of society.

On the inquest it was shown that Buck Fanshaw, in the delirium of a
wasting typhoid fever, had taken arsenic, shot himself through the body,
cut his throat, and jumped out of a four-story window and broken his
neck--and after due deliberation, the jury, sad and tearful, but with
intelligence unblinded by its sorrow, brought in a verdict of death “by
the visitation of God.”  What could the world do without juries?

Prodigious preparations were made for the funeral.  All the vehicles in
town were hired, all the saloons put in mourning, all the municipal and
fire-company flags hung at half-mast, and all the firemen ordered to
muster in uniform and bring their machines duly draped in black.  Now
--let us remark in parenthesis--as all the peoples of the earth had
representative adventurers in the Silverland, and as each adventurer had
brought the slang of his nation or his locality with him, the combination
made the slang of Nevada the richest and the most infinitely varied and
copious that had ever existed anywhere in the world, perhaps, except in
the mines of California in the “early days.”  Slang was the language of
Nevada.  It was hard to preach a sermon without it, and be understood.
Such phrases as “You bet!”  “Oh, no, I reckon not!”  “No Irish need
apply,” and a hundred others, became so common as to fall from the lips
of a speaker unconsciously--and very often when they did not touch the
subject under discussion and consequently failed to mean anything.

After Buck Fanshaw's inquest, a meeting of the short-haired brotherhood
was held, for nothing can be done on the Pacific coast without a public
meeting and an expression of sentiment.  Regretful resolutions were
passed and various committees appointed; among others, a committee of one
was deputed to call on the minister, a fragile, gentle, spiritual new
fledgling from an Eastern theological seminary, and as yet unacquainted
with the ways of the mines.  The committeeman, “Scotty” Briggs, made his
visit; and in after days it was worth something to hear the minister tell
about it.  Scotty was a stalwart rough, whose customary suit, when on
weighty official business, like committee work, was a fire helmet,
flaming red flannel shirt, patent leather belt with spanner and revolver
attached, coat hung over arm, and pants stuffed into boot tops.
He formed something of a contrast to the pale theological student.  It is
fair to say of Scotty, however, in passing, that he had a warm heart, and
a strong love for his friends, and never entered into a quarrel when he
could reasonably keep out of it.  Indeed, it was commonly said that
whenever one of Scotty's fights was investigated, it always turned out
that it had originally been no affair of his, but that out of native
good-heartedness he had dropped in of his own accord to help the man who
was getting the worst of it.  He and Buck Fanshaw were bosom friends, for
years, and had often taken adventurous “pot-luck” together.  On one
occasion, they had thrown off their coats and taken the weaker side in a
fight among strangers, and after gaining a hard-earned victory, turned
and found that the men they were helping had deserted early, and not only
that, but had stolen their coats and made off with them!  But to return
to Scotty's visit to the minister.  He was on a sorrowful mission, now,
and his face was the picture of woe.  Being admitted to the presence he
sat down before the clergyman, placed his fire-hat on an unfinished
manuscript sermon under the minister's nose, took from it a red silk
handkerchief, wiped his brow and heaved a sigh of dismal impressiveness,
explanatory of his business.

He choked, and even shed tears; but with an effort he mastered his voice
and said in lugubrious tones:

“Are you the duck that runs the gospel-mill next door?”

“Am I the--pardon me, I believe I do not understand?”

With another sigh and a half-sob, Scotty rejoined:

“Why you see we are in a bit of trouble, and the boys thought maybe you
would give us a lift, if we'd tackle you--that is, if I've got the rights
of it and you are the head clerk of the doxology-works next door.”

“I am the shepherd in charge of the flock whose fold is next door.”

“The which?”

“The spiritual adviser of the little company of believers whose sanctuary
adjoins these premises.”

Scotty scratched his head, reflected a moment, and then said:

“You ruther hold over me, pard.  I reckon I can't call that hand.  Ante
and pass the buck.”

“How? I beg pardon.  What did I understand you to say?”

“Well, you've ruther got the bulge on me.  Or maybe we've both got the
bulge, somehow.  You don't smoke me and I don't smoke you.  You see, one
of the boys has passed in his checks and we want to give him a good
send-off, and so the thing I'm on now is to roust out somebody to jerk
a little chin-music for us and waltz him through handsome.”

“My friend, I seem to grow more and more bewildered.  Your observations
are wholly incomprehensible to me.  Cannot you simplify them in some way?
At first I thought perhaps I understood you, but I grope now.  Would it
not expedite matters if you restricted yourself to categorical statements
of fact unencumbered with obstructing accumulations of metaphor and

Another pause, and more reflection.  Then, said Scotty:

“I'll have to pass, I judge.”


“You've raised me out, pard.”

“I still fail to catch your meaning.”

“Why, that last lead of yourn is too many for me--that's the idea.  I
can't neither-trump nor follow suit.”

The clergyman sank back in his chair perplexed.  Scotty leaned his head
on his hand and gave himself up to thought.

Presently his face came up, sorrowful but confident.

“I've got it now, so's you can savvy,” he said.  “What we want is a
gospel-sharp.  See?”

“A what?”

“Gospel-sharp.  Parson.”

“Oh!  Why did you not say so before?  I am a clergyman--a parson.”

“Now you talk!  You see my blind and straddle it like a man.  Put it
there!”--extending a brawny paw, which closed over the minister's small
hand and gave it a shake indicative of fraternal sympathy and fervent

“Now we're all right, pard.  Let's start fresh.  Don't you mind my
snuffling a little--becuz we're in a power of trouble.  You see, one of
the boys has gone up the flume--”

“Gone where?”

“Up the flume--throwed up the sponge, you understand.”

“Thrown up the sponge?”

“Yes--kicked the bucket--”

“Ah--has departed to that mysterious country from whose bourne no
traveler returns.”

“Return!  I reckon not.  Why pard, he's dead!”

“Yes, I understand.”

“Oh, you do?  Well I thought maybe you might be getting tangled some
more.  Yes, you see he's dead again--”

“Again?  Why, has he ever been dead before?”

“Dead before?  No!  Do you reckon a man has got as many lives as a cat?
But you bet you he's awful dead now, poor old boy, and I wish I'd never
seen this day.  I don't want no better friend than Buck Fanshaw.
I knowed him by the back; and when I know a man and like him, I freeze to
him--you hear me.  Take him all round, pard, there never was a bullier
man in the mines.  No man ever knowed Buck Fanshaw to go back on a
friend.  But it's all up, you know, it's all up.  It ain't no use.
They've scooped him.”

“Scooped him?”

“Yes--death has.  Well, well, well, we've got to give him up.  Yes
indeed.  It's a kind of a hard world, after all, ain't it?  But pard, he
was a rustler!  You ought to seen him get started once.  He was a bully
boy with a glass eye!  Just spit in his face and give him room according
to his strength, and it was just beautiful to see him peel and go in.
He was the worst son of a thief that ever drawed breath.  Pard, he was on
it!  He was on it bigger than an Injun!”

“On it?  On what?”

“On the shoot.  On the shoulder.  On the fight, you understand.
He didn't give a continental for any body.  Beg your pardon, friend, for
coming so near saying a cuss-word--but you see I'm on an awful strain, in
this palaver, on account of having to cramp down and draw everything so
mild.  But we've got to give him up.  There ain't any getting around
that, I don't reckon.  Now if we can get you to help plant him--”

“Preach the funeral discourse?  Assist at the obsequies?”

“Obs'quies is good.  Yes.  That's it--that's our little game.  We are
going to get the thing up regardless, you know.  He was always nifty
himself, and so you bet you his funeral ain't going to be no slouch
--solid silver door-plate on his coffin, six plumes on the hearse, and a
nigger on the box in a biled shirt and a plug hat--how's that for high?
And we'll take care of you, pard.  We'll fix you all right.  There'll be
a kerridge for you; and whatever you want, you just 'scape out and we'll
'tend to it.  We've got a shebang fixed up for you to stand behind, in
No. 1's house, and don't you be afraid.  Just go in and toot your horn,
if you don't sell a clam.  Put Buck through as bully as you can, pard,
for anybody that knowed him will tell you that he was one of the whitest
men that was ever in the mines.  You can't draw it too strong.  He never
could stand it to see things going wrong.  He's done more to make this
town quiet and peaceable than any man in it.  I've seen him lick four
Greasers in eleven minutes, myself.  If a thing wanted regulating, he
warn't a man to go browsing around after somebody to do it, but he would
prance in and regulate it himself.  He warn't a Catholic.  Scasely.  He
was down on 'em.  His word was, 'No Irish need apply!'  But it didn't
make no difference about that when it came down to what a man's rights
was--and so, when some roughs jumped the Catholic bone-yard and started
in to stake out town-lots in it he went for 'em!  And he cleaned 'em,
too!  I was there, pard, and I seen it myself.”

“That was very well indeed--at least the impulse was--whether the act was
strictly defensible or not.  Had deceased any religious convictions?
That is to say, did he feel a dependence upon, or acknowledge allegiance
to a higher power?”

More reflection.

“I reckon you've stumped me again, pard.  Could you say it over once
more, and say it slow?”

“Well, to simplify it somewhat, was he, or rather had he ever been
connected with any organization sequestered from secular concerns and
devoted to self-sacrifice in the interests of morality?”

“All down but nine--set 'em up on the other alley, pard.”

“What did I understand you to say?”

“Why, you're most too many for me, you know.  When you get in with your
left I hunt grass every time.  Every time you draw, you fill; but I don't
seem to have any luck.  Lets have a new deal.”

“How?  Begin again?”

“That's it.”

“Very well.  Was he a good man, and--”

“There--I see that; don't put up another chip till I look at my hand.
A good man, says you?  Pard, it ain't no name for it.  He was the best
man that ever--pard, you would have doted on that man.  He could lam any
galoot of his inches in America.  It was him that put down the riot last
election before it got a start; and everybody said he was the only man
that could have done it.  He waltzed in with a spanner in one hand and a
trumpet in the other, and sent fourteen men home on a shutter in less
than three minutes.  He had that riot all broke up and prevented nice
before anybody ever got a chance to strike a blow.  He was always for
peace, and he would have peace--he could not stand disturbances.  Pard,
he was a great loss to this town.  It would please the boys if you could
chip in something like that and do him justice.  Here once when the Micks
got to throwing stones through the Methodis' Sunday school windows, Buck
Fanshaw, all of his own notion, shut up his saloon and took a couple of
six-shooters and mounted guard over the Sunday school.  Says he, 'No
Irish need apply!'  And they didn't.  He was the bulliest man in the
mountains, pard!  He could run faster, jump higher, hit harder, and hold
more tangle-foot whisky without spilling it than any man in seventeen
counties.  Put that in, pard--it'll please the boys more than anything
you could say.  And you can say, pard, that he never shook his mother.”

“Never shook his mother?”

“That's it--any of the boys will tell you so.”

“Well, but why should he shake her?”

“That's what I say--but some people does.”

“Not people of any repute?”

“Well, some that averages pretty so-so.”

“In my opinion the man that would offer personal violence to his own
mother, ought to--”

“Cheese it, pard; you've banked your ball clean outside the string.
What I was a drivin' at, was, that he never throwed off on his mother
--don't you see?  No indeedy.  He give her a house to live in, and town
lots, and plenty of money; and he looked after her and took care of her
all the time; and when she was down with the small-pox I'm d---d if he
didn't set up nights and nuss her himself!  Beg your pardon for saying
it, but it hopped out too quick for yours truly.

“You've treated me like a gentleman, pard, and I ain't the man to hurt
your feelings intentional.  I think you're white.  I think you're a
square man, pard.  I like you, and I'll lick any man that don't.  I'll
lick him till he can't tell himself from a last year's corpse!  Put it
there!” [Another fraternal hand-shake--and exit.]

The obsequies were all that “the boys” could desire.  Such a marvel of
funeral pomp had never been seen in Virginia.  The plumed hearse, the
dirge-breathing brass bands, the closed marts of business, the flags
drooping at half mast, the long, plodding procession of uniformed secret
societies, military battalions and fire companies, draped engines,
carriages of officials, and citizens in vehicles and on foot, attracted
multitudes of spectators to the sidewalks, roofs and windows; and for
years afterward, the degree of grandeur attained by any civic display in
Virginia was determined by comparison with Buck Fanshaw's funeral.

Scotty Briggs, as a pall-bearer and a mourner, occupied a prominent place
at the funeral, and when the sermon was finished and the last sentence of
the prayer for the dead man's soul ascended, he responded, in a low
voice, but with feelings:

“AMEN.  No Irish need apply.”

As the bulk of the response was without apparent relevancy, it was
probably nothing more than a humble tribute to the memory of the friend
that was gone; for, as Scotty had once said, it was “his word.”

Scotty Briggs, in after days, achieved the distinction of becoming the
only convert to religion that was ever gathered from the Virginia roughs;
and it transpired that the man who had it in him to espouse the quarrel
of the weak out of inborn nobility of spirit was no mean timber whereof
to construct a Christian.  The making him one did not warp his generosity
or diminish his courage; on the contrary it gave intelligent direction to
the one and a broader field to the other.

If his Sunday-school class progressed faster than the other classes, was
it matter for wonder?  I think not.  He talked to his pioneer small-fry
in a language they understood!  It was my large privilege, a month before
he died, to hear him tell the beautiful story of Joseph and his brethren
to his class “without looking at the book.”  I leave it to the reader to
fancy what it was like, as it fell, riddled with slang, from the lips of
that grave, earnest teacher, and was listened to by his little learners
with a consuming interest that showed that they were as unconscious as he
was that any violence was being done to the sacred proprieties!


The first twenty-six graves in the Virginia cemetery were occupied by
murdered men.  So everybody said, so everybody believed, and so they will
always say and believe.  The reason why there was so much slaughtering
done, was, that in a new mining district the rough element predominates,
and a person is not respected until he has “killed his man.”  That was
the very expression used.

If an unknown individual arrived, they did not inquire if he was capable,
honest, industrious, but--had he killed his man?  If he had not, he
gravitated to his natural and proper position, that of a man of small
consequence; if he had, the cordiality of his reception was graduated
according to the number of his dead.  It was tedious work struggling up
to a position of influence with bloodless hands; but when a man came with
the blood of half a dozen men on his soul, his worth was recognized at
once and his acquaintance sought.

In Nevada, for a time, the lawyer, the editor, the banker, the chief
desperado, the chief gambler, and the saloon keeper, occupied the same
level in society, and it was the highest.  The cheapest and easiest way
to become an influential man and be looked up to by the community at
large, was to stand behind a bar, wear a cluster-diamond pin, and sell
whisky.  I am not sure but that the saloon-keeper held a shade higher
rank than any other member of society.  His opinion had weight.  It was
his privilege to say how the elections should go.  No great movement
could succeed without the countenance and direction of the
saloon-keepers.  It was a high favor when the chief saloon-keeper
consented to serve in the legislature or the board of aldermen.

Youthful ambition hardly aspired so much to the honors of the law, or the
army and navy as to the dignity of proprietorship in a saloon.

To be a saloon-keeper and kill a man was to be illustrious.  Hence the
reader will not be surprised to learn that more than one man was killed
in Nevada under hardly the pretext of provocation, so impatient was the
slayer to achieve reputation and throw off the galling sense of being
held in indifferent repute by his associates.  I knew two youths who
tried to “kill their men” for no other reason--and got killed themselves
for their pains.  “There goes the man that killed Bill Adams” was higher
praise and a sweeter sound in the ears of this sort of people than any
other speech that admiring lips could utter.

The men who murdered Virginia's original twenty-six cemetery-occupants
were never punished.  Why?  Because Alfred the Great, when he invented
trial by jury and knew that he had admirably framed it to secure justice
in his age of the world, was not aware that in the nineteenth century the
condition of things would be so entirely changed that unless he rose from
the grave and altered the jury plan to meet the emergency, it would prove
the most ingenious and infallible agency for defeating justice that human
wisdom could contrive.  For how could he imagine that we simpletons would
go on using his jury plan after circumstances had stripped it of its
usefulness, any more than he could imagine that we would go on using his
candle-clock after we had invented chronometers?  In his day news could
not travel fast, and hence he could easily find a jury of honest,
intelligent men who had not heard of the case they were called to try
--but in our day of telegraphs and newspapers his plan compels us to swear
in juries composed of fools and rascals, because the system rigidly
excludes honest men and men of brains.

I remember one of those sorrowful farces, in Virginia, which we call a
jury trial.  A noted desperado killed Mr. B., a good citizen, in the most
wanton and cold-blooded way.  Of course the papers were full of it, and
all men capable of reading, read about it.  And of course all men not
deaf and dumb and idiotic, talked about it.  A jury-list was made out,
and Mr. B. L., a prominent banker and a valued citizen, was questioned
precisely as he would have been questioned in any court in America:

“Have you heard of this homicide?”


“Have you held conversations upon the subject?”


“Have you formed or expressed opinions about it?”


“Have you read the newspaper accounts of it?”


“We do not want you.”

A minister, intelligent, esteemed, and greatly respected; a merchant of
high character and known probity; a mining superintendent of intelligence
and unblemished reputation; a quartz mill owner of excellent standing,
were all questioned in the same way, and all set aside.  Each said the
public talk and the newspaper reports had not so biased his mind but that
sworn testimony would overthrow his previously formed opinions and enable
him to render a verdict without prejudice and in accordance with the
facts.  But of course such men could not be trusted with the case.
Ignoramuses alone could mete out unsullied justice.

When the peremptory challenges were all exhausted, a jury of twelve men
was impaneled--a jury who swore they had neither heard, read, talked
about nor expressed an opinion concerning a murder which the very cattle
in the corrals, the Indians in the sage-brush and the stones in the
streets were cognizant of!  It was a jury composed of two desperadoes,
two low beer-house politicians, three bar-keepers, two ranchmen who could
not read, and three dull, stupid, human donkeys!  It actually came out
afterward, that one of these latter thought that incest and arson were
the same thing.

The verdict rendered by this jury was, Not Guilty.  What else could one

The jury system puts a ban upon intelligence and honesty, and a premium
upon ignorance, stupidity and perjury.  It is a shame that we must
continue to use a worthless system because it was good a thousand years
ago.  In this age, when a gentleman of high social standing, intelligence
and probity, swears that testimony given under solemn oath will outweigh,
with him, street talk and newspaper reports based upon mere hearsay, he
is worth a hundred jurymen who will swear to their own ignorance and
stupidity, and justice would be far safer in his hands than in theirs.
Why could not the jury law be so altered as to give men of brains and
honesty and equal chance with fools and miscreants?  Is it right to show
the present favoritism to one class of men and inflict a disability on
another, in a land whose boast is that all its citizens are free and
equal?  I am a candidate for the legislature.  I desire to tamper with
the jury law.  I wish to so alter it as to put a premium on intelligence
and character, and close the jury box against idiots, blacklegs, and
people who do not read newspapers.  But no doubt I shall be defeated
--every effort I make to save the country “misses fire.”

My idea, when I began this chapter, was to say something about
desperadoism in the “flush times” of Nevada.  To attempt a portrayal of
that era and that land, and leave out the blood and carnage, would be
like portraying Mormondom and leaving out polygamy.  The desperado
stalked the streets with a swagger graded according to the number of his
homicides, and a nod of recognition from him was sufficient to make a
humble admirer happy for the rest of the day.  The deference that was
paid to a desperado of wide reputation, and who “kept his private
graveyard,” as the phrase went, was marked, and cheerfully accorded.
When he moved along the sidewalk in his excessively long-tailed
frock-coat, shiny stump-toed boots, and with dainty little slouch hat
tipped over left eye, the small-fry roughs made room for his majesty;
when he entered the restaurant, the waiters deserted bankers and
merchants to overwhelm him with obsequious service; when he shouldered
his way to a bar, the shouldered parties wheeled indignantly, recognized
him, and--apologized.

They got a look in return that froze their marrow, and by that time a
curled and breast-pinned bar keeper was beaming over the counter, proud
of the established acquaintanceship that permitted such a familiar form
of speech as:

“How're ye, Billy, old fel?  Glad to see you.  What'll you take--the old

The “old thing” meant his customary drink, of course.

The best known names in the Territory of Nevada were those belonging to
these long-tailed heroes of the revolver.  Orators, Governors,
capitalists and leaders of the legislature enjoyed a degree of fame, but
it seemed local and meagre when contrasted with the fame of such men as
Sam Brown, Jack Williams, Billy Mulligan, Farmer Pease, Sugarfoot Mike,
Pock Marked Jake, El Dorado Johnny, Jack McNabb, Joe McGee, Jack Harris,
Six-fingered Pete, etc., etc.  There was a long list of them.  They were
brave, reckless men, and traveled with their lives in their hands.  To
give them their due, they did their killing principally among themselves,
and seldom molested peaceable citizens, for they considered it small
credit to add to their trophies so cheap a bauble as the death of a man
who was “not on the shoot,” as they phrased it.  They killed each other
on slight provocation, and hoped and expected to be killed themselves
--for they held it almost shame to die otherwise than “with their boots
on,” as they expressed it.

I remember an instance of a desperado's contempt for such small game as a
private citizen's life.  I was taking a late supper in a restaurant one
night, with two reporters and a little printer named--Brown, for
instance--any name will do.  Presently a stranger with a long-tailed coat
on came in, and not noticing Brown's hat, which was lying in a chair, sat
down on it.  Little Brown sprang up and became abusive in a moment.  The
stranger smiled, smoothed out the hat, and offered it to Brown with
profuse apologies couched in caustic sarcasm, and begged Brown not to
destroy him.  Brown threw off his coat and challenged the man to fight
--abused him, threatened him, impeached his courage, and urged and even
implored him to fight; and in the meantime the smiling stranger placed
himself under our protection in mock distress.  But presently he assumed
a serious tone, and said:

“Very well, gentlemen, if we must fight, we must, I suppose.  But don't
rush into danger and then say I gave you no warning.  I am more than a
match for all of you when I get started.  I will give you proofs, and
then if my friend here still insists, I will try to accommodate him.”

The table we were sitting at was about five feet long, and unusually
cumbersome and heavy.  He asked us to put our hands on the dishes and
hold them in their places a moment--one of them was a large oval dish
with a portly roast on it.  Then he sat down, tilted up one end of the
table, set two of the legs on his knees, took the end of the table
between his teeth, took his hands away, and pulled down with his teeth
till the table came up to a level position, dishes and all!  He said he
could lift a keg of nails with his teeth.  He picked up a common glass
tumbler and bit a semi-circle out of it.  Then he opened his bosom and
showed us a net-work of knife and bullet scars; showed us more on his
arms and face, and said he believed he had bullets enough in his body to
make a pig of lead.  He was armed to the teeth.  He closed with the
remark that he was Mr. ---- of Cariboo--a celebrated name whereat we shook
in our shoes.  I would publish the name, but for the suspicion that he
might come and carve me.  He finally inquired if Brown still thirsted for
blood.  Brown turned the thing over in his mind a moment, and then--asked
him to supper.

With the permission of the reader, I will group together, in the next
chapter, some samples of life in our small mountain village in the old
days of desperadoism.  I was there at the time.  The reader will observe
peculiarities in our official society; and he will observe also, an
instance of how, in new countries, murders breed murders.


An extract or two from the newspapers of the day will furnish a
photograph that can need no embellishment:

      FATAL SHOOTING AFFRAY.--An affray occurred, last evening, in a
      billiard saloon on C street, between Deputy Marshal Jack Williams
      and Wm. Brown, which resulted in the immediate death of the latter.
      There had been some difficulty between the parties for several

      An inquest was immediately held, and the following testimony

      Officer GEO. BIRDSALL, sworn, says:--I was told Wm. Brown was drunk
      and was looking for Jack Williams; so soon as I heard that I started
      for the parties to prevent a collision; went into the billiard
      saloon; saw Billy Brown running around, saying if anybody had
      anything against him to show cause; he was talking in a boisterous
      manner, and officer Perry took him to the other end of the room to
      talk to him; Brown came back to me; remarked to me that he thought
      he was as good as anybody, and knew how to take care of himself; he
      passed by me and went to the bar; don't know whether he drank or
      not; Williams was at the end of the billiard-table, next to the
      stairway; Brown, after going to the bar, came back and said he was
      as good as any man in the world; he had then walked out to the end
      of the first billiard-table from the bar; I moved closer to them,
      supposing there would be a fight; as Brown drew his pistol I caught
      hold of it; he had fired one shot at Williams; don't know the effect
      of it; caught hold of him with one hand, and took hold of the pistol
      and turned it up; think he fired once after I caught hold of the
      pistol; I wrenched the pistol from him; walked to the end of the
      billiard-table and told a party that I had Brown's pistol, and to
      stop shooting; I think four shots were fired in all; after walking
      out, Mr. Foster remarked that Brown was shot dead.

Oh, there was no excitement about it--he merely “remarked” the small

Four months later the following item appeared in the same paper (the
Enterprise).  In this item the name of one of the city officers above
referred to (Deputy Marshal Jack Williams) occurs again:

      ROBBERY AND DESPERATE AFFRAY.--On Tuesday night, a German named
      Charles Hurtzal, engineer in a mill at Silver City, came to this
      place, and visited the hurdy-gurdy house on B street.  The music,
      dancing and Teutonic maidens awakened memories of Faderland until
      our German friend was carried away with rapture.  He evidently had
      money, and was spending if freely.  Late in the evening Jack
      Williams and Andy Blessington invited him down stairs to take a cup
      of coffee.  Williams proposed a game of cards and went up stairs to
      procure a deck, but not finding any returned.  On the stairway he
      met the German, and drawing his pistol knocked him down and rifled
      his pockets of some seventy dollars.  Hurtzal dared give no alarm,
      as he was told, with a pistol at his head, if he made any noise or
      exposed them, they would blow his brains out.  So effectually was he
      frightened that he made no complaint, until his friends forced him.
      Yesterday a warrant was issued, but the culprits had disappeared.

This efficient city officer, Jack Williams, had the common reputation of
being a burglar, a highwayman and a desperado.  It was said that he had
several times drawn his revolver and levied money contributions on
citizens at dead of night in the public streets of Virginia.

Five months after the above item appeared, Williams was assassinated
while sitting at a card table one night; a gun was thrust through the
crack of the door and Williams dropped from his chair riddled with balls.
It was said, at the time, that Williams had been for some time aware that
a party of his own sort (desperadoes) had sworn away his life; and it was
generally believed among the people that Williams's friends and enemies
would make the assassination memorable--and useful, too--by a wholesale
destruction of each other.

It did not so happen, but still, times were not dull during the next
twenty-four hours, for within that time a woman was killed by a pistol
shot, a man was brained with a slung shot, and a man named Reeder was
also disposed of permanently.  Some matters in the Enterprise account of
the killing of Reeder are worth nothing--especially the accommodating
complaisance of a Virginia justice of the peace.  The italics in the
following narrative are mine:

      MORE CUTTING AND SHOOTING.--The devil seems to have again broken
      loose in our town.  Pistols and guns explode and knives gleam in our
      streets as in early times.  When there has been a long season of
      quiet, people are slow to wet their hands in blood; but once blood
      is spilled, cutting and shooting come easy.  Night before last Jack
      Williams was assassinated, and yesterday forenoon we had more bloody
      work, growing out of the killing of Williams, and on the same street
      in which he met his death.  It appears that Tom Reeder, a friend of
      Williams, and George Gumbert were talking, at the meat market of the
      latter, about the killing of Williams the previous night, when
      Reeder said it was a most cowardly act to shoot a man in such a way,
      giving him “no show.”  Gumbert said that Williams had “as good a
      show as he gave Billy Brown,” meaning the man killed by Williams
      last March.  Reeder said it was a d---d lie, that Williams had no
      show at all.  At this, Gumbert drew a knife and stabbed Reeder,
      cutting him in two places in the back.  One stroke of the knife cut
      into the sleeve of Reeder's coat and passed downward in a slanting
      direction through his clothing, and entered his body at the small of
      the back; another blow struck more squarely, and made a much more
      dangerous wound.  Gumbert gave himself up to the officers of
      justice, and was shortly after discharged by Justice Atwill, on his
      own recognizance, to appear for trial at six o'clock in the evening.
      In the meantime Reeder had been taken into the office of Dr. Owens,
      where his wounds were properly dressed.  One of his wounds was
      considered quite dangerous, and it was thought by many that it would
      prove fatal.  But being considerably under the influence of liquor,
      Reeder did not feel his wounds as he otherwise would, and he got up
      and went into the street.  He went to the meat market and renewed
      his quarrel with Gumbert, threatening his life.  Friends tried to
      interfere to put a stop to the quarrel and get the parties away from
      each other.  In the Fashion Saloon Reeder made threats against the
      life of Gumbert, saying he would kill him, and it is said that he
      requested the officers not to arrest Gumbert, as he intended to kill
      him.  After these threats Gumbert went off and procured a
      double-barreled shot gun, loaded with buck-shot or revolver balls,
      and went after Reeder.  Two or three persons were assisting him along
      the street, trying to get him home, and had him just in front of the
      store of Klopstock & Harris, when Gumbert came across toward him
      from the opposite side of the street with his gun.  He came up
      within about ten or fifteen feet of Reeder, and called out to those
      with him to “look out! get out of the way!” and they had only time
      to heed the warning, when he fired.  Reeder was at the time
      attempting to screen himself behind a large cask, which stood
      against the awning post of Klopstock & Harris's store, but some of
      the balls took effect in the lower part of his breast, and he reeled
      around forward and fell in front of the cask.  Gumbert then raised
      his gun and fired the second barrel, which missed Reeder and entered
      the ground.  At the time that this occurred, there were a great many
      persons on the street in the vicinity, and a number of them called
      out to Gumbert, when they saw him raise his gun, to “hold on,” and
      “don't shoot!”  The cutting took place about ten o'clock and the
      shooting about twelve.  After the shooting the street was instantly
      crowded with the inhabitants of that part of the town, some
      appearing much excited and laughing--declaring that it looked like
      the “good old times of '60.”  Marshal Perry and officer Birdsall
      were near when the shooting occurred, and Gumbert was immediately
      arrested and his gun taken from him, when he was marched off to
      jail.  Many persons who were attracted to the spot where this bloody
      work had just taken place, looked bewildered and seemed to be asking
      themselves what was to happen next, appearing in doubt as to whether
      the killing mania had reached its climax, or whether we were to turn
      in and have a grand killing spell, shooting whoever might have given
      us offence.  It was whispered around that it was not all over yet
      --five or six more were to be killed before night.  Reeder was taken
      to the Virginia City Hotel, and doctors called in to examine his
      wounds.  They found that two or three balls had entered his right
      side; one of them appeared to have passed through the substance of
      the lungs, while another passed into the liver.  Two balls were also
      found to have struck one of his legs.  As some of the balls struck
      the cask, the wounds in Reeder's leg were probably from these,
      glancing downwards, though they might have been caused by the second
      shot fired.  After being shot, Reeder said when he got on his feet
      --smiling as he spoke--“It will take better shooting than that to
      kill me.”  The doctors consider it almost impossible for him to
      recover, but as he has an excellent constitution he may survive,
      notwithstanding the number and dangerous character of the wounds he
      has received.  The town appears to be perfectly quiet at present, as
      though the late stormy times had cleared our moral atmosphere; but
      who can tell in what quarter clouds are lowering or plots ripening?

Reeder--or at least what was left of him--survived his wounds two days!
Nothing was ever done with Gumbert.

Trial by jury is the palladium of our liberties.  I do not know what a
palladium is, having never seen a palladium, but it is a good thing no
doubt at any rate.  Not less than a hundred men have been murdered in
Nevada--perhaps I would be within bounds if I said three hundred--and as
far as I can learn, only two persons have suffered the death penalty
there.  However, four or five who had no money and no political influence
have been punished by imprisonment--one languished in prison as much as
eight months, I think.  However, I do not desire to be extravagant--it
may have been less.

However, one prophecy was verified, at any rate.  It was asserted by the
desperadoes that one of their brethren (Joe McGee, a special policeman)
was known to be the conspirator chosen by lot to assassinate Williams;
and they also asserted that doom had been pronounced against McGee, and
that he would be assassinated in exactly the same manner that had been
adopted for the destruction of Williams--a prophecy which came true a
year later.  After twelve months of distress (for McGee saw a fancied
assassin in every man that approached him), he made the last of many
efforts to get out of the country unwatched.  He went to Carson and sat
down in a saloon to wait for the stage--it would leave at four in the
morning.  But as the night waned and the crowd thinned, he grew uneasy,
and told the bar-keeper that assassins were on his track.  The bar-keeper
told him to stay in the middle of the room, then, and not go near the
door, or the window by the stove.  But a fatal fascination seduced him to
the neighborhood of the stove every now and then, and repeatedly the
bar-keeper brought him back to the middle of the room and warned him to
remain there.  But he could not.  At three in the morning he again
returned to the stove and sat down by a stranger.  Before the bar-keeper
could get to him with another warning whisper, some one outside fired
through the window and riddled McGee's breast with slugs, killing him
almost instantly.  By the same discharge the stranger at McGee's side
also received attentions which proved fatal in the course of two or three


These murder and jury statistics remind me of a certain very
extraordinary trial and execution of twenty years ago; it is a scrap of
history familiar to all old Californians, and worthy to be known by other
peoples of the earth that love simple, straightforward justice
unencumbered with nonsense.  I would apologize for this digression but
for the fact that the information I am about to offer is apology enough
in itself.  And since I digress constantly anyhow, perhaps it is as well
to eschew apologies altogether and thus prevent their growing irksome.

Capt. Ned Blakely--that name will answer as well as any other fictitious
one (for he was still with the living at last accounts, and may not
desire to be famous)--sailed ships out of the harbor of San Francisco for
many years.  He was a stalwart, warm-hearted, eagle-eyed veteran, who had
been a sailor nearly fifty years--a sailor from early boyhood.  He was a
rough, honest creature, full of pluck, and just as full of hard-headed
simplicity, too.  He hated trifling conventionalities--“business” was the
word, with him.  He had all a sailor's vindictiveness against the quips
and quirks of the law, and steadfastly believed that the first and last
aim and object of the law and lawyers was to defeat justice.

He sailed for the Chincha Islands in command of a guano ship.  He had a
fine crew, but his negro mate was his pet--on him he had for years
lavished his admiration and esteem.  It was Capt. Ned's first voyage to
the Chinchas, but his fame had gone before him--the fame of being a man
who would fight at the dropping of a handkerchief, when imposed upon, and
would stand no nonsense.  It was a fame well earned.  Arrived in the
islands, he found that the staple of conversation was the exploits of one
Bill Noakes, a bully, the mate of a trading ship.  This man had created a
small reign of terror there.  At nine o'clock at night, Capt. Ned, all
alone, was pacing his deck in the starlight.  A form ascended the side,
and approached him.  Capt. Ned said:

“Who goes there?”

“I'm Bill Noakes, the best man in the islands.”

“What do you want aboard this ship?”

“I've heard of Capt. Ned Blakely, and one of us is a better man than
'tother--I'll know which, before I go ashore.”

“You've come to the right shop--I'm your man.  I'll learn you to come
aboard this ship without an invite.”

He seized Noakes, backed him against the mainmast, pounded his face to a
pulp, and then threw him overboard.

Noakes was not convinced.  He returned the next night, got the pulp
renewed, and went overboard head first, as before.

He was satisfied.

A week after this, while Noakes was carousing with a sailor crowd on
shore, at noonday, Capt. Ned's colored mate came along, and Noakes tried
to pick a quarrel with him.  The negro evaded the trap, and tried to get
away.  Noakes followed him up; the negro began to run; Noakes fired on
him with a revolver and killed him.  Half a dozen sea-captains witnessed
the whole affair.  Noakes retreated to the small after-cabin of his ship,
with two other bullies, and gave out that death would be the portion of
any man that intruded there.  There was no attempt made to follow the
villains; there was no disposition to do it, and indeed very little
thought of such an enterprise.  There were no courts and no officers;
there was no government; the islands belonged to Peru, and Peru was far
away; she had no official representative on the ground; and neither had
any other nation.

However, Capt. Ned was not perplexing his head about such things.  They
concerned him not.  He was boiling with rage and furious for justice.
At nine o'clock at night he loaded a double-barreled gun with slugs,
fished out a pair of handcuffs, got a ship's lantern, summoned his
quartermaster, and went ashore.  He said:

“Do you see that ship there at the dock?”

“Ay-ay, sir.”

“It's the Venus.”

“Ay-ay, sir.”

“You--you know me.”

“Ay-ay, sir.”

“Very well, then.  Take the lantern.  Carry it just under your chin.
I'll walk behind you and rest this gun-barrel on your shoulder, p'inting
forward--so.  Keep your lantern well up so's I can see things ahead of
you good.  I'm going to march in on Noakes--and take him--and jug the
other chaps.  If you flinch--well, you know me.”

“Ay-ay, sir.”

In this order they filed aboard softly, arrived at Noakes's den, the
quartermaster pushed the door open, and the lantern revealed the three
desperadoes sitting on the floor.  Capt.  Ned said:

“I'm Ned Blakely.  I've got you under fire.  Don't you move without
orders--any of you.  You two kneel down in the corner; faces to the wall
--now.  Bill Noakes, put these handcuffs on; now come up close.
Quartermaster, fasten 'em.  All right.  Don't stir, sir.  Quartermaster,
put the key in the outside of the door.  Now, men, I'm going to lock you
two in; and if you try to burst through this door--well, you've heard of
me.  Bill Noakes, fall in ahead, and march.  All set.  Quartermaster,
lock the door.”

Noakes spent the night on board Blakely's ship, a prisoner under strict
guard.  Early in the morning Capt. Ned called in all the sea-captains in
the harbor and invited them, with nautical ceremony, to be present on
board his ship at nine o'clock to witness the hanging of Noakes at the

“What!  The man has not been tried.”

“Of course he hasn't.  But didn't he kill the nigger?”

“Certainly he did; but you are not thinking of hanging him without a

“Trial!  What do I want to try him for, if he killed the nigger?”

“Oh, Capt.  Ned, this will never do.  Think how it will sound.”

“Sound be hanged!  Didn't he kill the nigger?”

“Certainly, certainly, Capt.  Ned,--nobody denies that,--but--”

“Then I'm going to hang him, that's all.  Everybody I've talked to talks
just the same way you do.  Everybody says he killed the nigger, everybody
knows he killed the nigger, and yet every lubber of you wants him tried
for it.  I don't understand such bloody foolishness as that.  Tried!
Mind you, I don't object to trying him, if it's got to be done to give
satisfaction; and I'll be there, and chip in and help, too; but put it
off till afternoon--put it off till afternoon, for I'll have my hands
middling full till after the burying--”

“Why, what do you mean?  Are you going to hang him any how--and try him

“Didn't I say I was going to hang him?  I never saw such people as you.
What's the difference?  You ask a favor, and then you ain't satisfied
when you get it.  Before or after's all one--you know how the trial will
go.  He killed the nigger.  Say--I must be going.  If your mate would
like to come to the hanging, fetch him along.  I like him.”

There was a stir in the camp.  The captains came in a body and pleaded
with Capt. Ned not to do this rash thing.  They promised that they would
create a court composed of captains of the best character; they would
empanel a jury; they would conduct everything in a way becoming the
serious nature of the business in hand, and give the case an impartial
hearing and the accused a fair trial.  And they said it would be murder,
and punishable by the American courts if he persisted and hung the
accused on his ship.  They pleaded hard.  Capt. Ned said:

“Gentlemen, I'm not stubborn and I'm not unreasonable.  I'm always
willing to do just as near right as I can.  How long will it take?”

“Probably only a little while.”

“And can I take him up the shore and hang him as soon as you are done?”

“If he is proven guilty he shall be hanged without unnecessary delay.”

“If he's proven guilty.  Great Neptune, ain't he guilty?  This beats my
time.  Why you all know he's guilty.”

But at last they satisfied him that they were projecting nothing
underhanded.  Then he said:

“Well, all right.  You go on and try him and I'll go down and overhaul
his conscience and prepare him to go--like enough he needs it, and I
don't want to send him off without a show for hereafter.”

This was another obstacle.  They finally convinced him that it was
necessary to have the accused in court.  Then they said they would send a
guard to bring him.

“No, sir, I prefer to fetch him myself--he don't get out of my hands.
Besides, I've got to go to the ship to get a rope, anyway.”

The court assembled with due ceremony, empaneled a jury, and presently
Capt. Ned entered, leading the prisoner with one hand and carrying a
Bible and a rope in the other.  He seated himself by the side of his
captive and told the court to “up anchor and make sail.”  Then he turned
a searching eye on the jury, and detected Noakes's friends, the two

He strode over and said to them confidentially:

“You're here to interfere, you see.  Now you vote right, do you hear?--or
else there'll be a double-barreled inquest here when this trial's off,
and your remainders will go home in a couple of baskets.”

The caution was not without fruit.  The jury was a unit--the verdict.

Capt.  Ned sprung to his feet and said:

“Come along--you're my meat now, my lad, anyway.  Gentlemen you've done
yourselves proud.  I invite you all to come and see that I do it all
straight.  Follow me to the canyon, a mile above here.”

The court informed him that a sheriff had been appointed to do the
hanging, and--

Capt.  Ned's patience was at an end.  His wrath was boundless.  The
subject of a sheriff was judiciously dropped.

When the crowd arrived at the canyon, Capt. Ned climbed a tree and
arranged the halter, then came down and noosed his man.  He opened his
Bible, and laid aside his hat.  Selecting a chapter at random, he read it
through, in a deep bass voice and with sincere solemnity.  Then he said:

“Lad, you are about to go aloft and give an account of yourself; and the
lighter a man's manifest is, as far as sin's concerned, the better for
him.  Make a clean breast, man, and carry a log with you that'll bear
inspection.  You killed the nigger?”

No reply.  A long pause.

The captain read another chapter, pausing, from time to time, to impress
the effect.  Then he talked an earnest, persuasive sermon to him, and
ended by repeating the question:

“Did you kill the nigger?”

No reply--other than a malignant scowl.  The captain now read the first
and second chapters of Genesis, with deep feeling--paused a moment,
closed the book reverently, and said with a perceptible savor of

“There.  Four chapters.  There's few that would have took the pains with
you that I have.”

Then he swung up the condemned, and made the rope fast; stood by and
timed him half an hour with his watch, and then delivered the body to the
court.  A little after, as he stood contemplating the motionless figure,
a doubt came into his face; evidently he felt a twinge of conscience--a
misgiving--and he said with a sigh:

“Well, p'raps I ought to burnt him, maybe.  But I was trying to do for
the best.”

When the history of this affair reached California (it was in the “early
days”) it made a deal of talk, but did not diminish the captain's
popularity in any degree.  It increased it, indeed.  California had a
population then that “inflicted” justice after a fashion that was
simplicity and primitiveness itself, and could therefore admire
appreciatively when the same fashion was followed elsewhere.


Vice flourished luxuriantly during the hey-day of our “flush times.”  The
saloons were overburdened with custom; so were the police courts, the
gambling dens, the brothels and the jails--unfailing signs of high
prosperity in a mining region--in any region for that matter.  Is it not
so?  A crowded police court docket is the surest of all signs that trade
is brisk and money plenty.  Still, there is one other sign; it comes
last, but when it does come it establishes beyond cavil that the “flush
times” are at the flood.  This is the birth of the “literary” paper.
The Weekly Occidental, “devoted to literature,” made its appearance in
Virginia.  All the literary people were engaged to write for it.  Mr. F.
was to edit it.  He was a felicitous skirmisher with a pen, and a man who
could say happy things in a crisp, neat way.  Once, while editor of the
Union, he had disposed of a labored, incoherent, two-column attack made
upon him by a contemporary, with a single line, which, at first glance,
seemed to contain a solemn and tremendous compliment--viz.: “THE LOGIC OF
OUR ADVERSARY RESEMBLES THE PEACE OF GOD,”--and left it to the reader's
memory and after-thought to invest the remark with another and “more
different” meaning by supplying for himself and at his own leisure the
rest of the Scripture--“in that it passeth understanding.”  He once said
of a little, half-starved, wayside community that had no subsistence
except what they could get by preying upon chance passengers who stopped
over with them a day when traveling by the overland stage, that in their
Church service they had altered the Lord's Prayer to read: “Give us this
day our daily stranger!”

We expected great things of the Occidental.  Of course it could not get
along without an original novel, and so we made arrangements to hurl into
the work the full strength of the company.  Mrs. F. was an able romancist
of the ineffable school--I know no other name to apply to a school whose
heroes are all dainty and all perfect.  She wrote the opening chapter,
and introduced a lovely blonde simpleton who talked nothing but pearls
and poetry and who was virtuous to the verge of eccentricity.  She also
introduced a young French Duke of aggravated refinement, in love with the
blonde.  Mr. F. followed next week, with a brilliant lawyer who set about
getting the Duke's estates into trouble, and a sparkling young lady of
high society who fell to fascinating the Duke and impairing the appetite
of the blonde.  Mr. D., a dark and bloody editor of one of the dailies,
followed Mr. F., the third  week, introducing a mysterious Roscicrucian
who transmuted metals, held consultations with the devil in a cave at
dead of night, and cast the horoscope of the several heroes and heroines
in such a way as to provide plenty of trouble for their future careers
and breed a solemn and awful public interest in the novel.  He also
introduced a cloaked and masked melodramatic miscreant, put him on a
salary and set him on the midnight track of the Duke with a poisoned
dagger.  He also created an Irish coachman with a rich brogue and placed
him in the service of the society-young-lady with an ulterior mission to
carry billet-doux to the Duke.

About this time there arrived in Virginia a dissolute stranger with a
literary turn of mind--rather seedy he was, but very quiet and
unassuming; almost diffident, indeed.  He was so gentle, and his manners
were so pleasing and kindly, whether he was sober or intoxicated, that he
made friends of all who came in contact with him.  He applied for
literary work, offered conclusive evidence that he wielded an easy and
practiced pen, and so Mr. F. engaged him at once to help write the novel.
His chapter was to follow Mr. D.'s, and mine was to come next.  Now what
does this fellow do but go off and get drunk and then proceed to his
quarters and set to work with his imagination in a state of chaos, and
that chaos in a condition of extravagant activity.  The result may be
guessed.  He scanned the chapters of his predecessors, found plenty of
heroes and heroines already created, and was satisfied with them; he
decided to introduce no more; with all the confidence that whisky
inspires and all the easy complacency it gives to its servant, he then
launched himself lovingly into his work: he married the coachman to the
society-young-lady for the sake of the scandal; married the Duke to the
blonde's stepmother, for the sake of the sensation; stopped the
desperado's salary; created a misunderstanding between the devil and the
Roscicrucian; threw the Duke's property into the wicked lawyer's hands;
made the lawyer's upbraiding conscience drive him to drink, thence to
delirium tremens, thence to suicide; broke the coachman's neck; let his
widow succumb to contumely, neglect, poverty and consumption; caused the
blonde to drown herself, leaving her clothes on the bank with the
customary note pinned to them forgiving the Duke and hoping he would be
happy; revealed to the Duke, by means of the usual strawberry mark on
left arm, that he had married his own long-lost mother and destroyed his
long-lost sister; instituted the proper and necessary suicide of the Duke
and the Duchess in order to compass poetical justice; opened the earth
and let the Roscicrucian through, accompanied with the accustomed smoke
and thunder and smell of brimstone, and finished with the promise that in
the next chapter, after holding a general inquest, he would take up the
surviving character of the novel and tell what became of the devil!
It read with singular smoothness, and with a “dead” earnestness that was
funny enough to suffocate a body.  But there was war when it came in.
The other novelists were furious.  The mild stranger, not yet more than
half sober, stood there, under a scathing fire of vituperation, meek and
bewildered, looking from one to another of his assailants, and wondering
what he could have done to invoke such a storm.  When a lull came at
last, he said his say gently and appealingly--said he did not rightly
remember what he had written, but was sure he had tried to do the best he
could, and knew his object had been to make the novel not only pleasant
and plausible but instructive and----

The bombardment began again.  The novelists assailed his ill-chosen
adjectives and demolished them with a storm of denunciation and ridicule.
And so the siege went on.  Every time the stranger tried to appease the
enemy he only made matters worse.  Finally he offered to rewrite the
chapter.  This arrested hostilities.  The indignation gradually quieted
down, peace reigned again and the sufferer retired in safety and got him
to his own citadel.

But on the way thither the evil angel tempted him and he got drunk again.
And again his imagination went mad.  He led the heroes and heroines a
wilder dance than ever; and yet all through it ran that same convincing
air of honesty and earnestness that had marked his first work.  He got
the characters into the most extraordinary situations, put them through
the most surprising performances, and made them talk the strangest talk!
But the chapter cannot be described.  It was symmetrically crazy; it was
artistically absurd; and it had explanatory footnotes that were fully as
curious as the text.  I remember one of the “situations,” and will offer
it as an example of the whole.  He altered the character of the brilliant
lawyer, and made him a great-hearted, splendid fellow; gave him fame and
riches, and set his age at thirty-three years.  Then he made the blonde
discover, through the help of the Roscicrucian and the melodramatic
miscreant, that while the Duke loved her money ardently and wanted it, he
secretly felt a sort of leaning toward the society-young-lady.  Stung to
the quick, she tore her affections from him and bestowed them with
tenfold power upon the lawyer, who responded with consuming zeal.  But
the parents would none of it.  What they wanted in the family was a Duke;
and a Duke they were determined to have; though they confessed that next
to the Duke the lawyer had their preference.  Necessarily the blonde now
went into a decline.  The parents were alarmed.  They pleaded with her to
marry the Duke, but she steadfastly refused, and pined on.  Then they
laid a plan.  They told her to wait a year and a day, and if at the end
of that time she still felt that she could not marry the Duke, she might
marry the lawyer with their full consent.  The result was as they had
foreseen: gladness came again, and the flush of returning health.  Then
the parents took the next step in their scheme.  They had the family
physician recommend a long sea voyage and much land travel for the
thorough restoration of the blonde's strength; and they invited the Duke
to be of the party.  They judged that the Duke's constant presence and
the lawyer's protracted absence would do the rest--for they did not
invite the lawyer.

So they set sail in a steamer for America--and the third day out, when
their sea-sickness called truce and permitted them to take their first
meal at the public table, behold there sat the lawyer!  The Duke and
party made the best of an awkward situation; the voyage progressed, and
the vessel neared America.

But, by and by, two hundred miles off New Bedford, the ship took fire;
she burned to the water's edge; of all her crew and passengers, only
thirty were saved.  They floated about the sea half an afternoon and all
night long.  Among them were our friends.  The lawyer, by superhuman
exertions, had saved the blonde and her parents, swimming back and forth
two hundred yards and bringing one each time--(the girl first).  The Duke
had saved himself.  In the morning two whale ships arrived on the scene
and sent their boats.  The weather was stormy and the embarkation was
attended with much confusion and excitement.  The lawyer did his duty
like a man; helped his exhausted and insensible blonde, her parents and
some others into a boat (the Duke helped himself in); then a child fell
overboard at the other end of the raft and the lawyer rushed thither and
helped half a dozen people fish it out, under the stimulus of its
mother's screams.  Then he ran back--a few seconds too late--the blonde's
boat was under way.  So he had to take the other boat, and go to the
other ship.  The storm increased and drove the vessels out of sight of
each other--drove them whither it would.

When it calmed, at the end of three days, the blonde's ship was seven
hundred miles north of Boston and the other about seven hundred south of
that port.  The blonde's captain was bound on a whaling cruise in the
North Atlantic and could not go back such a distance or make a port
without orders; such being nautical law.  The lawyer's captain was to
cruise in the North Pacific, and he could not go back or make a port
without orders.  All the lawyer's money and baggage were in the blonde's
boat and went to the blonde's ship--so his captain made him work his
passage as a common sailor.  When both ships had been cruising nearly a
year, the one was off the coast of Greenland and the other in Behring's
Strait.  The blonde had long ago been well-nigh persuaded that her lawyer
had been washed overboard and lost just before the whale ships reached
the raft, and now, under the pleadings of her parents and the Duke she
was at last beginning to nerve herself for the doom of the covenant, and
prepare for the hated marriage.

But she would not yield a day before the date set.  The weeks dragged on,
the time narrowed, orders were given to deck the ship for the wedding--a
wedding at sea among icebergs and walruses.  Five days more and all would
be over.  So the blonde reflected, with a sigh and a tear.  Oh where was
her true love--and why, why did he not come and save her?  At that moment
he was lifting his harpoon to strike a whale in Behring's Strait, five
thousand miles away, by the way of the Arctic Ocean, or twenty thousand
by the way of the Horn--that was the reason.  He struck, but not with
perfect aim--his foot slipped and he fell in the whale's mouth and went
down his throat.  He was insensible five days.  Then he came to himself
and heard voices; daylight was streaming through a hole cut in the
whale's roof.  He climbed out and astonished the sailors who were
hoisting blubber up a ship's side.  He recognized the vessel, flew
aboard, surprised the wedding party at the altar and exclaimed:

“Stop the proceedings--I'm here!  Come to my arms, my own!”

There were foot-notes to this extravagant piece of literature wherein the
author endeavored to show that the whole thing was within the
possibilities; he said he got the incident of the whale traveling from
Behring's Strait to the coast of Greenland, five thousand miles in five
days, through the Arctic Ocean, from Charles Reade's “Love Me Little Love
Me Long,” and considered that that established the fact that the thing
could be done; and he instanced Jonah's adventure as proof that a man
could live in a whale's belly, and added that if a preacher could stand
it three days a lawyer could surely stand it five!

There was a fiercer storm than ever in the editorial sanctum now, and the
stranger was peremptorily discharged, and his manuscript flung at his
head.  But he had already delayed things so much that there was not time
for some one else to rewrite the chapter, and so the paper came out
without any novel in it.  It was but a feeble, struggling, stupid
journal, and the absence of the novel probably shook public confidence;
at any rate, before the first side of the next issue went to press, the
Weekly Occidental died as peacefully as an infant.

An effort was made to resurrect it, with the proposed advantage of a
telling new title, and Mr. F. said that The Phenix would be just the name
for it, because it would give the idea of a resurrection from its dead
ashes in a new and undreamed of condition of splendor; but some
low-priced smarty on one of the dailies suggested that we call it the
Lazarus; and inasmuch as the people were not profound in Scriptural
matters but thought the resurrected Lazarus and the dilapidated mendicant
that begged in the rich man's gateway were one and the same person, the
name became the laughing stock of the town, and killed the paper for good
and all.

I was sorry enough, for I was very proud of being connected with a
literary paper--prouder than I have ever been of anything since, perhaps.
I had written some rhymes for it--poetry I considered it--and it was a
great grief to me that the production was on the “first side” of the
issue that was not completed, and hence did not see the light.  But time
brings its revenges--I can put it in here; it will answer in place of a
tear dropped to the memory of the lost Occidental.  The idea (not the
chief idea, but the vehicle that bears it) was probably suggested by the
old song called “The Raging Canal,” but I cannot remember now.  I do
remember, though, that at that time I thought my doggerel was one of the
ablest poems of the age:


On the Erie Canal, it was,
All on a summer's day,
I sailed forth with my parents
Far away to Albany.

From out the clouds at noon that day
There came a dreadful storm,
That piled the billows high about,
And filled us with alarm.

A man came rushing from a house,
Saying, “Snub up your boat I pray,
[The customary canal technicality for 'tie up.']
Snub up your boat, snub up, alas,
Snub up while yet you may.”

Our captain cast one glance astern,
Then forward glanced he,
And said, “My wife and little ones
I never more shall see.”

Said Dollinger the pilot man,
In noble words, but few,
--“Fear not, but lean on Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through.”

The boat drove on, the frightened mules
Tore through the rain and wind,
And bravely still, in danger's post,
The whip-boy strode behind.

“Come 'board, come 'board,” the captain cried,
“Nor tempt so wild a storm;”
 But still the raging mules advanced,
And still the boy strode on.

Then said the captain to us all,
“Alas, 'tis plain to me,
The greater danger is not there,
But here upon the sea.

“So let us strive, while life remains,
To save all souls on board,
And then if die at last we must,
Let .  .  .  .  I cannot speak the word!”

Said Dollinger the pilot man,
Tow'ring above the crew,
“Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through.”

“Low bridge!  low bridge!” all heads went down,
The laboring bark sped on;
A mill we passed, we passed church,
Hamlets, and fields of corn;
And all the world came out to see,
And chased along the shore
Crying, “Alas, alas, the sheeted rain,
The wind, the tempest's roar!
Alas, the gallant ship and crew,
Can nothing help them more?”

And from our deck sad eyes looked out
Across the stormy scene:
The tossing wake of billows aft,
The bending forests green,
The chickens sheltered under carts
In lee of barn the cows,
The skurrying swine with straw in mouth,
The wild spray from our bows!

“She balances!
She wavers!
Now let her go about!
If she misses stays and broaches to,
We're all”--then with a shout,
“Huray!  huray!
Avast!  belay!
Take in more sail!
Lord, what a gale!
Ho, boy, haul taut on the hind mule's tail!”
 “Ho! lighten ship! ho! man the pump!
Ho, hostler, heave the lead!”

“A quarter-three!--'tis shoaling fast!
Three feet large!--t-h-r-e-e feet!
--Three feet scant!” I cried in fright
“Oh, is there no retreat?”

Said Dollinger, the pilot man,
As on the vessel flew,
“Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through.”

A panic struck the bravest hearts,
The boldest cheek turned pale;
For plain to all, this shoaling said
A leak had burst the ditch's bed!
And, straight as bolt from crossbow sped,
Our ship swept on, with shoaling lead,
Before the fearful gale!

“Sever the tow-line!  Cripple the mules!”
 Too late!  There comes a shock!
Another length, and the fated craft
Would have swum in the saving lock!

Then gathered together the shipwrecked crew
And took one last embrace,
While sorrowful tears from despairing eyes
Ran down each hopeless face;
And some did think of their little ones
Whom they never more might see,
And others of waiting wives at home,
And mothers that grieved would be.

But of all the children of misery there
On that poor sinking frame,
But one spake words of hope and faith,
And I worshipped as they came:
Said Dollinger the pilot man,
--(O brave heart, strong and true!)
--“Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
For he will fetch you through.”

Lo!  scarce the words have passed his lips
The dauntless prophet say'th,
When every soul about him seeth
A wonder crown his faith!

“And count ye all, both great and small,
As numbered with the dead:
For mariner for forty year,
On Erie, boy and man,
I never yet saw such a storm,
Or one't with it began!”

So overboard a keg of nails
And anvils three we threw,
Likewise four bales of gunny-sacks,
Two hundred pounds of glue,
Two sacks of corn, four ditto wheat,
A box of books, a cow,
A violin, Lord Byron's works,
A rip-saw and a sow.

A curve!  a curve!  the dangers grow!
--Hard-a-port, Dol!--hellum-a-lee!
Haw the head mule!--the aft one gee!
Luff!--bring her to the wind!”

For straight a farmer brought a plank,
--(Mysteriously inspired)
--And laying it unto the ship,
In silent awe retired.

Then every sufferer stood amazed
That pilot man before;
A moment stood.  Then wondering turned,
And speechless walked ashore.


Since I desire, in this chapter, to say an instructive word or two about
the silver mines, the reader may take this fair warning and skip, if he
chooses.  The year 1863 was perhaps the very top blossom and culmination
of the “flush times.”  Virginia swarmed with men and vehicles to that
degree that the place looked like a very hive--that is when one's vision
could pierce through the thick fog of alkali dust that was generally
blowing in summer.  I will say, concerning this dust, that if you drove
ten miles through it, you and your horses would be coated with it a
sixteenth of an inch thick and present an outside appearance that was a
uniform pale yellow color, and your buggy would have three inches of dust
in it, thrown there by the wheels.  The delicate scales used by the
assayers were inclosed in glass cases intended to be air-tight, and yet
some of this dust was so impalpable and so invisibly fine that it would
get in, somehow, and impair the accuracy of those scales.

Speculation ran riot, and yet there was a world of substantial business
going on, too.  All freights were brought over the mountains from
California (150 miles) by pack-train partly, and partly in huge wagons
drawn by such long mule teams that each team amounted to a procession,
and it did seem, sometimes, that the grand combined procession of animals
stretched unbroken from Virginia to California.  Its long route was
traceable clear across the deserts of the Territory by the writhing
serpent of dust it lifted up.  By these wagons, freights over that
hundred and fifty miles were $200 a ton for small lots (same price for
all express matter brought by stage), and $100 a ton for full loads.
One Virginia firm received one hundred tons of freight a month, and paid
$10,000 a month freightage.  In the winter the freights were much higher.
All the bullion was shipped in bars by stage to San Francisco (a bar was
usually about twice the size of a pig of lead and contained from $1,500
to $3,000 according to the amount of gold mixed with the silver), and the
freight on it (when the shipment was large) was one and a quarter per
cent. of its intrinsic value.

So, the freight on these bars probably averaged something more than $25
each.  Small shippers paid two per cent.  There were three stages a day,
each way, and I have seen the out-going stages carry away a third of a
ton of bullion each, and more than once I saw them divide a two-ton lot
and take it off.  However, these were extraordinary events.
[Mr. Valentine, Wells Fargo's agent, has handled all the bullion shipped
through the Virginia office for many a month.  To his memory--which is
excellent--we are indebted for the following exhibit of the company's
business in the Virginia office since the first of January, 1862: From
January 1st to April 1st, about $270,000 worth of bullion passed through
that office, during the next quarter, $570,000; next quarter, $800,000;
next quarter, $956,000; next quarter, $1,275,000; and for the quarter
ending on the 30th of last June, about $1,600,000.  Thus in a year and a
half, the Virginia office only shipped $5,330,000 in bullion.  During the
year 1862 they shipped $2,615,000, so we perceive the average shipments
have more than doubled in the last six months.  This gives us room to
promise for the Virginia office $500,000 a month for the year 1863
(though perhaps, judging by the steady increase in the business, we are
under estimating, somewhat).  This gives us $6,000,000 for the year.
Gold Hill and Silver City together can beat us--we will give them
$10,000,000.  To Dayton, Empire City, Ophir and Carson City, we will
allow an aggregate of $8,000,000, which is not over the mark, perhaps,
and may possibly be a little under it.  To Esmeralda we give $4,000,000.
To Reese River and Humboldt $2,000,000, which is liberal now, but may not
be before the year is out.  So we prognosticate that the yield of bullion
this year will be about $30,000,000.  Placing the number of mills in the
Territory at one hundred, this gives to each the labor of producing
$300,000 in bullion during the twelve months.  Allowing them to run three
hundred days in the year (which none of them more than do), this makes
their work average $1,000 a day.  Say the mills average twenty tons of
rock a day and this rock worth $50 as a general thing, and you have the
actual work of our one hundred mills figured down “to a spot”--$1,000 a
day each, and $30,000,000 a year in the aggregate.--Enterprise.
[A considerable over estimate--M.  T.]]

Two tons of silver bullion would be in the neighborhood of forty bars,
and the freight on it over $1,000.  Each coach always carried a deal of
ordinary express matter beside, and also from fifteen to twenty
passengers at from $25 to $30 a head.  With six stages going all the
time, Wells, Fargo and Co.'s Virginia City business was important and

All along under the centre of Virginia and Gold Hill, for a couple of
miles, ran the great Comstock silver lode--a vein of ore from fifty to
eighty feet thick between its solid walls of rock--a vein as wide as some
of New York's streets.  I will remind the reader that in Pennsylvania a
coal vein only eight feet wide is considered ample.

Virginia was a busy city of streets and houses above ground.  Under it
was another busy city, down in the bowels of the earth, where a great
population of men thronged in and out among an intricate maze of tunnels
and drifts, flitting hither and thither under a winking sparkle of
lights, and over their heads towered a vast web of interlocking timbers
that held the walls of the gutted Comstock apart.  These timbers were as
large as a man's body, and the framework stretched upward so far that no
eye could pierce to its top through the closing gloom.  It was like
peering up through the clean-picked ribs and bones of some colossal
skeleton.  Imagine such a framework two miles long, sixty feet wide, and
higher than any church spire in America.  Imagine this stately
lattice-work stretching down Broadway, from the St. Nicholas to Wall
street, and a Fourth of July procession, reduced to pigmies, parading on
top of it and flaunting their flags, high above the pinnacle of Trinity
steeple. One can imagine that, but he cannot well imagine what that
forest of timbers cost, from the time they were felled in the pineries
beyond Washoe Lake, hauled up and around Mount Davidson at atrocious
rates of freightage, then squared, let down into the deep maw of the mine
and built up there.  Twenty ample fortunes would not timber one of the
greatest of those silver mines.  The Spanish proverb says it requires a
gold mine to “run” a silver one, and it is true.  A beggar with a silver
mine is a pitiable pauper indeed if he cannot sell.

I spoke of the underground Virginia as a city.  The Gould and Curry is
only one single mine under there, among a great many others; yet the
Gould and Curry's streets of dismal drifts and tunnels were five miles in
extent, altogether, and its population five hundred miners.  Taken as a
whole, the underground city had some thirty miles of streets and a
population of five or six thousand.  In this present day some of those
populations are at work from twelve to sixteen hundred feet under
Virginia and Gold Hill, and the signal-bells that tell them what the
superintendent above ground desires them to do are struck by telegraph as
we strike a fire alarm.  Sometimes men fall down a shaft, there, a
thousand feet deep.  In such cases, the usual plan is to hold an inquest.

If you wish to visit one of those mines, you may walk through a tunnel
about half a mile long if you prefer it, or you may take the quicker plan
of shooting like a dart down a shaft, on a small platform.  It is like
tumbling down through an empty steeple, feet first.  When you reach the
bottom, you take a candle and tramp through drifts and tunnels where
throngs of men are digging and blasting; you watch them send up tubs full
of great lumps of stone--silver ore; you select choice specimens from the
mass, as souvenirs; you admire the world of skeleton timbering; you
reflect frequently that you are buried under a mountain, a thousand feet
below daylight; being in the bottom of the mine you climb from “gallery”
 to “gallery,” up endless ladders that stand straight up and down; when
your legs fail you at last, you lie down in a small box-car in a cramped
“incline” like a half-up-ended sewer and are dragged up to daylight
feeling as if you are crawling through a coffin that has no end to it.
Arrived at the top, you find a busy crowd of men receiving the ascending
cars and tubs and dumping the ore from an elevation into long rows of
bins capable of holding half a dozen tons each; under the bins are rows
of wagons loading from chutes and trap-doors in the bins, and down the
long street is a procession of these wagons wending toward the silver
mills with their rich freight.  It is all “done,” now, and there you are.
You need never go down again, for you have seen it all.  If you have
forgotten the process of reducing the ore in the mill and making the
silver bars, you can go back and find it again in my Esmeralda chapters
if so disposed.

Of course these mines cave in, in places, occasionally, and then it is
worth one's while to take the risk of descending into them and observing
the crushing power exerted by the pressing weight of a settling mountain.
I published such an experience in the Enterprise, once, and from it I
will take an extract:

      AN HOUR IN THE CAVED MINES.--We journeyed down into the Ophir mine,
      yesterday, to see the earthquake.  We could not go down the deep
      incline, because it still has a propensity to cave in places.
      Therefore we traveled through the long tunnel which enters the hill
      above the Ophir office, and then by means of a series of long
      ladders, climbed away down from the first to the fourth gallery.
      Traversing a drift, we came to the Spanish line, passed five sets of
      timbers still uninjured, and found the earthquake.  Here was as
      complete a chaos as ever was seen--vast masses of earth and
      splintered and broken timbers piled confusedly together, with
      scarcely an aperture left large enough for a cat to creep through.
      Rubbish was still falling at intervals from above, and one timber
      which had braced others earlier in the day, was now crushed down out
      of its former position, showing that the caving and settling of the
      tremendous mass was still going on.  We were in that portion of the
      Ophir known as the “north mines.”  Returning to the surface, we
      entered a tunnel leading into the Central, for the purpose of
      getting into the main Ophir.  Descending a long incline in this
      tunnel, we traversed a drift or so, and then went down a deep shaft
      from whence we proceeded into the fifth gallery of the Ophir.  From
      a side-drift we crawled through a small hole and got into the midst
      of the earthquake again--earth and broken timbers mingled together
      without regard to grace or symmetry.  A large portion of the second,
      third and fourth galleries had caved in and gone to destruction--the
      two latter at seven o'clock on the previous evening.

      At the turn-table, near the northern extremity of the fifth gallery,
      two big piles of rubbish had forced their way through from the fifth
      gallery, and from the looks of the timbers, more was about to come.
      These beams are solid--eighteen inches square; first, a great beam
      is laid on the floor, then upright ones, five feet high, stand on
      it, supporting another horizontal beam, and so on, square above
      square, like the framework of a window.  The superincumbent weight
      was sufficient to mash the ends of those great upright beams fairly
      into the solid wood of the horizontal ones three inches, compressing
      and bending the upright beam till it curved like a bow.  Before the
      Spanish caved in, some of their twelve-inch horizontal timbers were
      compressed in this way until they were only five inches thick!
      Imagine the power it must take to squeeze a solid log together in
      that way.  Here, also, was a range of timbers, for a distance of
      twenty feet, tilted six inches out of the perpendicular by the
      weight resting upon them from the caved galleries above.  You could
      hear things cracking and giving way, and it was not pleasant to know
      that the world overhead was slowly and silently sinking down upon
      you.  The men down in the mine do not mind it, however.

      Returning along the fifth gallery, we struck the safe part of the
      Ophir incline, and went down it to the sixth; but we found ten
      inches of water there, and had to come back.  In repairing the
      damage done to the incline, the pump had to be stopped for two
      hours, and in the meantime the water gained about a foot.  However,
      the pump was at work again, and the flood-water was decreasing.
      We climbed up to the fifth gallery again and sought a deep shaft,
      whereby we might descend to another part of the sixth, out of reach
      of the water, but suffered disappointment, as the men had gone to
      dinner, and there was no one to man the windlass.  So, having seen
      the earthquake, we climbed out at the Union incline and tunnel, and
      adjourned, all dripping with candle grease and perspiration, to
      lunch at the Ophir office.

      During the great flush year of 1863, Nevada [claims to have]
      produced $25,000,000 in bullion--almost, if not quite, a round
      million to each thousand inhabitants, which is very well,
      considering that she was without agriculture and manufactures.
      Silver mining was her sole productive industry. [Since the above was
      in type, I learn from an official source that the above figure is
      too high, and that the yield for 1863 did not exceed $20,000,000.]
      However, the day for large figures is approaching; the Sutro Tunnel
      is to plow through the Comstock lode from end to end, at a depth of
      two thousand feet, and then mining will be easy and comparatively
      inexpensive; and the momentous matters of drainage, and hoisting and
      hauling of ore will cease to be burdensome.  This vast work will
      absorb many years, and millions of dollars, in its completion; but
      it will early yield money, for that desirable epoch will begin as
      soon as it strikes the first end of the vein.  The tunnel will be
      some eight miles long, and will develop astonishing riches.  Cars
      will carry the ore through the tunnel and dump it in the mills and
      thus do away with the present costly system of double handling and
      transportation by mule teams.  The water from the tunnel will
      furnish the motive power for the mills.  Mr. Sutro, the originator
      of this prodigious enterprise, is one of the few men in the world
      who is gifted with the pluck and perseverance necessary to follow up
      and hound such an undertaking to its completion.  He has converted
      several obstinate Congresses to a deserved friendliness toward his
      important work, and has gone up and down and to and fro in Europe
      until he has enlisted a great moneyed interest in it there.


Every now and then, in these days, the boys used to tell me I ought to
get one Jim Blaine to tell me the stirring story of his grandfather's old
ram--but they always added that I must not mention the matter unless Jim
was drunk at the time--just comfortably and sociably drunk.  They kept
this up until my curiosity was on the rack to hear the story.  I got to
haunting Blaine; but it was of no use, the boys always found fault with
his condition; he was often moderately but never satisfactorily drunk.
I never watched a man's condition with such absorbing interest, such
anxious solicitude; I never so pined to see a man uncompromisingly drunk
before.  At last, one evening I hurried to his cabin, for I learned that
this time his situation was such that even the most fastidious could find
no fault with it--he was tranquilly, serenely, symmetrically drunk--not a
hiccup to mar his voice, not a cloud upon his brain thick enough to
obscure his memory.  As I entered, he was sitting upon an empty
powder-keg, with a clay pipe in one hand and the other raised to command
silence.  His face was round, red, and very serious; his throat was bare
and his hair tumbled; in general appearance and costume he was a stalwart
miner of the period.  On the pine table stood a candle, and its dim light
revealed “the boys” sitting here and there on bunks, candle-boxes,
powder-kegs, etc.  They said:

“Sh--!  Don't speak--he's going to commence.”

                THE STORY OF THE OLD RAM.

I found a seat at once, and Blaine said:

'I don't reckon them times will ever come again.  There never was a more
bullier old ram than what he was.  Grandfather fetched him from Illinois
--got him of a man by the name of Yates--Bill Yates--maybe you might have
heard of him; his father was a deacon--Baptist--and he was a rustler,
too; a man had to get up ruther early to get the start of old Thankful
Yates; it was him that put the Greens up to jining teams with my
grandfather when he moved west.

'Seth Green was prob'ly the pick of the flock; he married a Wilkerson
--Sarah Wilkerson--good cretur, she was--one of the likeliest heifers that
was ever raised in old Stoddard, everybody said that knowed her.  She
could heft a bar'l of flour as easy as I can flirt a flapjack.  And spin?
Don't mention it!  Independent?  Humph!  When Sile Hawkins come a
browsing around her, she let him know that for all his tin he couldn't
trot in harness alongside of her.  You see, Sile Hawkins was--no, it
warn't Sile Hawkins, after all--it was a galoot by the name of Filkins
--I disremember his first name; but he was a stump--come into pra'r meeting
drunk, one night, hooraying for Nixon, becuz he thought it was a primary;
and old deacon Ferguson up and scooted him through the window and he lit
on old Miss Jefferson's head, poor old filly.  She was a good soul--had a
glass eye and used to lend it to old Miss Wagner, that hadn't any, to
receive company in; it warn't big enough, and when Miss Wagner warn't
noticing, it would get twisted around in the socket, and look up, maybe,
or out to one side, and every which way, while t' other one was looking
as straight ahead as a spy-glass.

'Grown people didn't mind it, but it most always made the children cry, it
was so sort of scary.  She tried packing it in raw cotton, but it
wouldn't work, somehow--the cotton would get loose and stick out and look
so kind of awful that the children couldn't stand it no way.  She was
always dropping it out, and turning up her old dead-light on the company
empty, and making them oncomfortable, becuz she never could tell when it
hopped out, being blind on that side, you see.  So somebody would have to
hunch her and say, “Your game eye has fetched loose.  Miss Wagner dear”
 --and then all of them would have to sit and wait till she jammed it in
again--wrong side before, as a general thing, and green as a bird's egg,
being a bashful cretur and easy sot back before company.  But being wrong
side before warn't much difference, anyway; becuz her own eye was
sky-blue and the glass one was yaller on the front side, so whichever way
she turned it it didn't match nohow.

'Old Miss Wagner was considerable on the borrow, she was.  When she had a
quilting, or Dorcas S'iety at her house she gen'ally borrowed Miss
Higgins's wooden leg to stump around on; it was considerable shorter than
her other pin, but much she minded that.  She said she couldn't abide
crutches when she had company, becuz they were so slow; said when she had
company and things had to be done, she wanted to get up and hump herself.
She was as bald as a jug, and so she used to borrow Miss Jacops's wig
--Miss Jacops was the coffin-peddler's wife--a ratty old buzzard, he was,
that used to go roosting around where people was sick, waiting for 'em;
and there that old rip would sit all day, in the shade, on a coffin that
he judged would fit the can'idate; and if it was a slow customer and kind
of uncertain, he'd fetch his rations and a blanket along and sleep in the
coffin nights.  He was anchored out that way, in frosty weather, for
about three weeks, once, before old Robbins's place, waiting for him; and
after that, for as much as two years, Jacops was not on speaking terms
with the old man, on account of his disapp'inting him.  He got one of his
feet froze, and lost money, too, becuz old Robbins took a favorable turn
and got well.  The next time Robbins got sick, Jacops tried to make up
with him, and varnished up the same old coffin and fetched it along; but
old Robbins was too many for him; he had him in, and 'peared to be
powerful weak; he bought the coffin for ten dollars and Jacops was to pay
it back and twenty-five more besides if Robbins didn't like the coffin
after he'd tried it.  And then Robbins died, and at the funeral he
bursted off the lid and riz up in his shroud and told the parson to let
up on the performances, becuz he could not stand such a coffin as that.
You see he had been in a trance once before, when he was young, and he
took the chances on another, cal'lating that if he made the trip it was
money in his pocket, and if he missed fire he couldn't lose a cent.  And
by George he sued Jacops for the rhino and got jedgment; and he set up
the coffin in his back parlor and said he 'lowed to take his time, now.
It was always an aggravation to Jacops, the way that miserable old thing
acted.  He moved back to Indiany pretty soon--went to Wellsville
--Wellsville was the place the Hogadorns was from.  Mighty fine family.
Old Maryland stock.  Old Squire Hogadorn could carry around more mixed
licker, and cuss better than most any man I ever see.  His second wife
was the widder Billings--she that was Becky Martin; her dam was deacon
Dunlap's first wife.  Her oldest child, Maria, married a missionary and
died in grace--et up by the savages.  They et him, too, poor feller
--biled him.  It warn't the custom, so they say, but they explained to
friends of his'n that went down there to bring away his things, that
they'd tried missionaries every other way and never could get any good
out of 'em--and so it annoyed all his relations to find out that that
man's life was fooled away just out of a dern'd experiment, so to speak.
But mind you, there ain't anything ever reely lost; everything that
people can't understand and don't see the reason of does good if you only
hold on and give it a fair shake; Prov'dence don't fire no blank
ca'tridges, boys.  That there missionary's substance, unbeknowns to
himself, actu'ly converted every last one of them heathens that took a
chance at the barbacue.  Nothing ever fetched them but that.  Don't tell
me it was an accident that he was biled.  There ain't no such a thing as
an accident.

'When my uncle Lem was leaning up agin a scaffolding once, sick, or drunk,
or suthin, an Irishman with a hod full of bricks fell on him out of the
third story and broke the old man's back in two places.  People said it
was an accident.  Much accident there was about that.  He didn't know
what he was there for, but he was there for a good object.  If he hadn't
been there the Irishman would have been killed.  Nobody can ever make me
believe anything different from that.  Uncle Lem's dog was there.  Why
didn't the Irishman fall on the dog?  Becuz the dog would a seen him a
coming and stood from under.  That's the reason the dog warn't appinted.
A dog can't be depended on to carry out a special providence.  Mark my
words it was a put-up thing.  Accidents don't happen, boys.  Uncle Lem's
dog--I wish you could a seen that dog.  He was a reglar shepherd--or
ruther he was part bull and part shepherd--splendid animal; belonged to
parson Hagar before Uncle Lem got him.  Parson Hagar belonged to the
Western Reserve Hagars; prime family; his mother was a Watson; one of his
sisters married a Wheeler; they settled in Morgan county, and he got
nipped by the machinery in a carpet factory and went through in less than
a quarter of a minute; his widder bought the piece of carpet that had his
remains wove in, and people come a hundred mile to 'tend the funeral.
There was fourteen yards in the piece.

'She wouldn't let them roll him up, but planted him just so--full length.
The church was middling small where they preached the funeral, and they
had to let one end of the coffin stick out of the window.  They didn't
bury him--they planted one end, and let him stand up, same as a monument.
And they nailed a sign on it and put--put on--put on it--sacred to--the
m-e-m-o-r-y--of fourteen y-a-r-d-s--of three-ply--car---pet--containing
all that was--m-o-r-t-a-l--of--of--W-i-l-l-i-a-m--W-h-e--'

Jim Blaine had been growing gradually drowsy and drowsier--his head
nodded, once, twice, three times--dropped peacefully upon his breast, and
he fell tranquilly asleep.  The tears were running down the boys' cheeks
--they were suffocating with suppressed laughter--and had been from the
start, though I had never noticed it.  I perceived that I was “sold.”
 I learned then that Jim Blaine's peculiarity was that whenever he reached
a certain stage of intoxication, no human power could keep him from
setting out, with impressive unction, to tell about a wonderful adventure
which he had once had with his grandfather's old ram--and the mention of
the ram in the first sentence was as far as any man had ever heard him
get, concerning it.  He always maundered off, interminably, from one
thing to another, till his whisky got the best of him and he fell asleep.
What the thing was that happened to him and his grandfather's old ram is
a dark mystery to this day, for nobody has ever yet found out.


Of course there was a large Chinese population in Virginia--it is the
case with every town and city on the Pacific coast.  They are a harmless
race when white men either let them alone or treat them no worse than
dogs; in fact they are almost entirely harmless anyhow, for they seldom
think of resenting the vilest insults or the cruelest injuries.  They are
quiet, peaceable, tractable, free from drunkenness, and they are as
industrious as the day is long.  A disorderly Chinaman is rare, and a
lazy one does not exist.  So long as a Chinaman has strength to use his
hands he needs no support from anybody; white men often complain of want
of work, but a Chinaman offers no such complaint; he always manages to
find something to do.  He is a great convenience to everybody--even to
the worst class of white men, for he bears the most of their sins,
suffering fines for their petty thefts, imprisonment for their robberies,
and death for their murders.  Any white man can swear a Chinaman's life
away in the courts, but no Chinaman can testify against a white man.
Ours is the “land of the free”--nobody denies that--nobody challenges it.
[Maybe it is because we won't let other people testify.] As I write, news
comes that in broad daylight in San Francisco, some boys have stoned an
inoffensive Chinaman to death, and that although a large crowd witnessed
the shameful deed, no one interfered.

There are seventy thousand (and possibly one hundred thousand) Chinamen
on the Pacific coast.  There were about a thousand in Virginia.  They
were penned into a “Chinese quarter”--a thing which they do not
particularly object to, as they are fond of herding together.  Their
buildings were of wood; usually only one story high, and set thickly
together along streets scarcely wide enough for a wagon to pass through.
Their quarter was a little removed from the rest of the town.  The chief
employment of Chinamen in towns is to wash clothing.  They always send a
bill, like this below, pinned to the clothes.  It is mere ceremony, for
it does not enlighten the customer much.  Their price for washing was
$2.50 per dozen--rather cheaper than white people could afford to wash
for at that time.  A very common sign on the Chinese houses was: “See
Yup, Washer and Ironer”; “Hong Wo, Washer”; “Sam Sing & Ah Hop, Washing.”
 The house servants, cooks, etc., in California and Nevada, were chiefly
Chinamen.  There were few white servants and no Chinawomen so employed.
Chinamen make good house servants, being quick, obedient, patient, quick
to learn and tirelessly industrious.  They do not need to be taught a
thing twice, as a general thing.  They are imitative.  If a Chinaman were
to see his master break up a centre table, in a passion, and kindle a
fire with it, that Chinaman would be likely to resort to the furniture
for fuel forever afterward.

All Chinamen can read, write and cipher with easy facility--pity but all
our petted voters could.  In California they rent little patches of
ground and do a deal of gardening.  They will raise surprising crops of
vegetables on a sand pile.  They waste nothing.  What is rubbish to a
Christian, a Chinaman carefully preserves and makes useful in one way or
another.  He gathers up all the old oyster and sardine cans that white
people throw away, and procures marketable tin and solder from them by
melting.  He gathers up old bones and turns them into manure.
In California he gets a living out of old mining claims that white men
have abandoned as exhausted and worthless--and then the officers come
down on him once a month with an exorbitant swindle to which the
legislature has given the broad, general name of “foreign” mining tax,
but it is usually inflicted on no foreigners but Chinamen.  This swindle
has in some cases been repeated once or twice on the same victim in the
course of the same month--but the public treasury was no additionally
enriched by it, probably.

Chinamen hold their dead in great reverence--they worship their departed
ancestors, in fact.  Hence, in China, a man's front yard, back yard, or
any other part of his premises, is made his family burying ground, in
order that he may visit the graves at any and all times.  Therefore that
huge empire is one mighty cemetery; it is ridged and wringled from its
centre to its circumference with graves--and inasmuch as every foot of
ground must be made to do its utmost, in China, lest the swarming
population suffer for food, the very graves are cultivated and yield a
harvest, custom holding this to be no dishonor to the dead.  Since the
departed are held in such worshipful reverence, a Chinaman cannot bear
that any indignity be offered the places where they sleep.
Mr. Burlingame said that herein lay China's bitter opposition to
railroads; a road could not be built anywhere in the empire without
disturbing the graves of their ancestors or friends.

A Chinaman hardly believes he could enjoy the hereafter except his body
lay in his beloved China; also, he desires to receive, himself, after
death, that worship with which he has honored his dead that preceded him.
Therefore, if he visits a foreign country, he makes arrangements to have
his bones returned to China in case he dies; if he hires to go to a
foreign country on a labor contract, there is always a stipulation that
his body shall be taken back to China if he dies; if the government sells
a gang of Coolies to a foreigner for the usual five-year term, it is
specified in the contract that their bodies shall be restored to China in
case of death.  On the Pacific coast the Chinamen all belong to one or
another of several great companies or organizations, and these companies
keep track of their members, register their names, and ship their bodies
home when they die.  The See Yup Company is held to be the largest of
these.  The Ning Yeong Company is next, and numbers eighteen thousand
members on the coast.  Its headquarters are at San Francisco, where it
has a costly temple, several great officers (one of whom keeps regal
state in seclusion and cannot be approached by common humanity), and a
numerous priesthood.  In it I was shown a register of its members, with
the dead and the date of their shipment to China duly marked.  Every ship
that sails from San Francisco carries away a heavy freight of Chinese
corpses--or did, at least, until the legislature, with an ingenious
refinement of Christian cruelty, forbade the shipments, as a neat
underhanded way of deterring Chinese immigration.  The bill was offered,
whether it passed or not.  It is my impression that it passed.  There was
another bill--it became a law--compelling every incoming Chinaman to be
vaccinated on the wharf and pay a duly appointed quack (no decent doctor
would defile himself with such legalized robbery) ten dollars for it.
As few importers of Chinese would want to go to an expense like that, the
law-makers thought this would be another heavy blow to Chinese

What the Chinese quarter of Virginia was like--or, indeed, what the
Chinese quarter of any Pacific coast town was and is like--may be
gathered from this item which I printed in the Enterprise while reporting
for that paper:

      CHINATOWN.--Accompanied by a fellow reporter, we made a trip through
      our Chinese quarter the other night.  The Chinese have built their
      portion of the city to suit themselves; and as they keep neither
      carriages nor wagons, their streets are not wide enough, as a
      general thing, to admit of the passage of vehicles.  At ten o'clock
      at night the Chinaman may be seen in all his glory.  In every little
      cooped-up, dingy cavern of a hut, faint with the odor of burning
      Josh-lights and with nothing to see the gloom by save the sickly,
      guttering tallow candle, were two or three yellow, long-tailed
      vagabonds, coiled up on a sort of short truckle-bed, smoking opium,
      motionless and with their lustreless eyes turned inward from excess
      of satisfaction--or rather the recent smoker looks thus, immediately
      after having passed the pipe to his neighbor--for opium-smoking is a
      comfortless operation, and requires constant attention.  A lamp sits
      on the bed, the length of the long pipe-stem from the smoker's
      mouth; he puts a pellet of opium on the end of a wire, sets it on
      fire, and plasters it into the pipe much as a Christian would fill a
      hole with putty; then he applies the bowl to the lamp and proceeds
      to smoke--and the stewing and frying of the drug and the gurgling of
      the juices in the stem would well-nigh turn the stomach of a statue.
      John likes it, though; it soothes him, he takes about two dozen
      whiffs, and then rolls over to dream, Heaven only knows what, for we
      could not imagine by looking at the soggy creature.  Possibly in his
      visions he travels far away from the gross world and his regular
      washing, and feast on succulent rats and birds'-nests in Paradise.

Mr. Ah Sing keeps a general grocery and provision store at No.  13 Wang
street.  He lavished his hospitality upon our party in the friendliest
way.  He had various kinds of colored and colorless wines and brandies,
with unpronouncable names, imported from China in little crockery jugs,
and which he offered to us in dainty little miniature wash-basins of
porcelain.  He offered us a mess of birds'-nests; also, small, neat
sausages, of which we could have swallowed several yards if we had chosen
to try, but we suspected that each link contained the corpse of a mouse,
and therefore refrained.  Mr. Sing had in his store a thousand articles
of merchandise, curious to behold, impossible to imagine the uses of, and
beyond our ability to describe.

His ducks, however, and his eggs, we could understand; the former were
split open and flattened out like codfish, and came from China in that
shape, and the latter were plastered over with some kind of paste which
kept them fresh and palatable through the long voyage.

We found Mr. Hong Wo, No. 37 Chow-chow street, making up a lottery
scheme--in fact we found a dozen others occupied in the same way in
various parts of the quarter, for about every third Chinaman runs a
lottery, and the balance of the tribe “buck” at it.  “Tom,” who speaks
faultless English, and used to be chief and only cook to the Territorial
Enterprise, when the establishment kept bachelor's hall two years ago,
said that “Sometime Chinaman buy ticket one dollar hap, ketch um two tree
hundred, sometime no ketch um anything; lottery like one man fight um
seventy--may-be he whip, may-be he get whip heself, welly good.”

However, the percentage being sixty-nine against him, the chances are,
as a general thing, that “he get whip heself.”  We could not see that
these lotteries differed in any respect from our own, save that the
figures being Chinese, no ignorant white man might ever hope to succeed
in telling “t'other from which;” the manner of drawing is similar to

Mr. See Yup keeps a fancy store on Live Fox street.  He sold us fans of
white feathers, gorgeously ornamented; perfumery that smelled like
Limburger cheese, Chinese pens, and watch-charms made of a stone
unscratchable with steel instruments, yet polished and tinted like the
inner coat of a sea-shell.  As tokens of his esteem, See Yup presented
the party with gaudy plumes made of gold tinsel and trimmed with
peacocks' feathers.

We ate chow-chow with chop-sticks in the celestial restaurants; our
comrade chided the moon-eyed damsels in front of the houses for their
want of feminine reserve; we received protecting Josh-lights from our
hosts and “dickered” for a pagan God or two.  Finally, we were impressed
with the genius of a Chinese book-keeper; he figured up his accounts on a
machine like a gridiron with buttons strung on its bars; the different
rows represented units, tens, hundreds and thousands.  He fingered them
with incredible rapidity--in fact, he pushed them from place to place as
fast as a musical professor's fingers travel over the keys of a piano.

They are a kindly disposed, well-meaning race, and are respected and well
treated by the upper classes, all over the Pacific coast.  No Californian
gentleman or lady ever abuses or oppresses a Chinaman, under any
circumstances, an explanation that seems to be much needed in the East.
Only the scum of the population do it--they and their children; they,
and, naturally and consistently, the policemen and politicians, likewise,
for these are the dust-licking pimps and slaves of the scum, there as
well as elsewhere in America.


I began to get tired of staying in one place so long.

There was no longer satisfying variety in going down to Carson to report
the proceedings of the legislature once a year, and horse-races and
pumpkin-shows once in three months; (they had got to raising pumpkins and
potatoes in Washoe Valley, and of course one of the first achievements of
the legislature was to institute a ten-thousand-dollar Agricultural Fair
to show off forty dollars' worth of those pumpkins in--however, the
territorial legislature was usually spoken of as the “asylum”).  I wanted
to see San Francisco.  I wanted to go somewhere.  I wanted--I did not
know what I wanted.  I had the “spring fever” and wanted a change,
principally, no doubt.  Besides, a convention had framed a State
Constitution; nine men out of every ten wanted an office; I believed that
these gentlemen would “treat” the moneyless and the irresponsible among
the population into adopting the constitution and thus well-nigh killing
the country (it could not well carry such a load as a State government,
since it had nothing to tax that could stand a tax, for undeveloped mines
could not, and there were not fifty developed ones in the land, there was
but little realty to tax, and it did seem as if nobody was ever going to
think of the simple salvation of inflicting a money penalty on murder).
I believed that a State government would destroy the “flush times,” and I
wanted to get away.  I believed that the mining stocks I had on hand
would soon be worth $100,000, and thought if they reached that before the
Constitution was adopted, I would sell out and make myself secure from
the crash the change of government was going to bring.  I considered
$100,000 sufficient to go home with decently, though it was but a small
amount compared to what I had been expecting to return with.  I felt
rather down-hearted about it, but I tried to comfort myself with the
reflection that with such a sum I could not fall into want.  About this
time a schoolmate of mine whom I had not seen since boyhood, came
tramping in on foot from Reese River, a very allegory of Poverty.
The son of wealthy parents, here he was, in a strange land, hungry,
bootless, mantled in an ancient horse-blanket, roofed with a brimless
hat, and so generally and so extravagantly dilapidated that he could have
“taken the shine out of the Prodigal Son himself,” as he pleasantly

He wanted to borrow forty-six dollars--twenty-six to take him to San
Francisco, and twenty for something else; to buy some soap with, maybe,
for he needed it.  I found I had but little more than the amount wanted,
in my pocket; so I stepped in and borrowed forty-six dollars of a banker
(on twenty days' time, without the formality of a note), and gave it him,
rather than walk half a block to the office, where I had some specie laid
up.  If anybody had told me that it would take me two years to pay back
that forty-six dollars to the banker (for I did not expect it of the
Prodigal, and was not disappointed), I would have felt injured.  And so
would the banker.

I wanted a change.  I wanted variety of some kind.  It came.  Mr. Goodman
went away for a week and left me the post of chief editor.  It destroyed
me.  The first day, I wrote my “leader” in the forenoon.  The second day,
I had no subject and put it off till the afternoon.  The third day I put
it off till evening, and then copied an elaborate editorial out of the
“American Cyclopedia,” that steadfast friend of the editor, all over this
land.  The fourth day I “fooled around” till midnight, and then fell back
on the Cyclopedia again.  The fifth day I cudgeled my brain till
midnight, and then kept the press waiting while I penned some bitter
personalities on six different people.  The sixth day I labored in
anguish till far into the night and brought forth--nothing.  The paper
went to press without an editorial.  The seventh day I resigned.  On the
eighth, Mr. Goodman returned and found six duels on his hands--my
personalities had borne fruit.

Nobody, except he has tried it, knows what it is to be an editor.  It is
easy to scribble local rubbish, with the facts all before you; it is easy
to clip selections from other papers; it is easy to string out a
correspondence from any locality; but it is unspeakable hardship to write
editorials.  Subjects are the trouble--the dreary lack of them, I mean.
Every day, it is drag, drag, drag--think, and worry and suffer--all the
world is a dull blank, and yet the editorial columns must be filled.
Only give the editor a subject, and his work is done--it is no trouble to
write it up; but fancy how you would feel if you had to pump your brains
dry every day in the week, fifty-two weeks in the year.  It makes one low
spirited simply to think of it.  The matter that each editor of a daily
paper in America writes in the course of a year would fill from four to
eight bulky volumes like this book!  Fancy what a library an editor's
work would make, after twenty or thirty years' service.  Yet people often
marvel that Dickens, Scott, Bulwer, Dumas, etc., have been able to
produce so many books.  If these authors had wrought as voluminously as
newspaper editors do, the result would be something to marvel at, indeed.
How editors can continue this tremendous labor, this exhausting
consumption of brain fibre (for their work is creative, and not a mere
mechanical laying-up of facts, like reporting), day after day and year
after year, is incomprehensible.  Preachers take two months' holiday in
midsummer, for they find that to produce two sermons a week is wearing,
in the long run.  In truth it must be so, and is so; and therefore, how
an editor can take from ten to twenty texts and build upon them from ten
to twenty painstaking editorials a week and keep it up all the year
round, is farther beyond comprehension than ever.  Ever since I survived
my week as editor, I have found at least one pleasure in any newspaper
that comes to my hand; it is in admiring the long columns of editorial,
and wondering to myself how in the mischief he did it!

Mr. Goodman's return relieved me of employment, unless I chose to become
a reporter again.  I could not do that; I could not serve in the ranks
after being General of the army.  So I thought I would depart and go
abroad into the world somewhere.  Just at this juncture, Dan, my
associate in the reportorial department, told me, casually, that two
citizens had been trying to persuade him to go with them to New York and
aid in selling a rich silver mine which they had discovered and secured
in a new mining district in our neighborhood.  He said they offered to
pay his expenses and give him one third of the proceeds of the sale.
He had refused to go.  It was the very opportunity I wanted.  I abused
him for keeping so quiet about it, and not mentioning it sooner.  He said
it had not occurred to him that I would like to go, and so he had
recommended them to apply to Marshall, the reporter of the other paper.
I asked Dan if it was a good, honest mine, and no swindle.  He said the
men had shown him nine tons of the rock, which they had got out to take
to New York, and he could cheerfully say that he had seen but little rock
in Nevada that was richer; and moreover, he said that they had secured a
tract of valuable timber and a mill-site, near the mine.  My first idea
was to kill Dan.  But I changed my mind, notwithstanding I was so angry,
for I thought maybe the chance was not yet lost.  Dan said it was by no
means lost; that the men were absent at the mine again, and would not be
in Virginia to leave for the East for some ten days; that they had
requested him to do the talking to Marshall, and he had promised that he
would either secure Marshall or somebody else for them by the time they
got back; he would now say nothing to anybody till they returned, and
then fulfil his promise by furnishing me to them.

It was splendid.  I went to bed all on fire with excitement; for nobody
had yet gone East to sell a Nevada silver mine, and the field was white
for the sickle.  I felt that such a mine as the one described by Dan
would bring a princely sum in New York, and sell without delay or
difficulty.  I could not sleep, my fancy so rioted through its castles in
the air.  It was the “blind lead” come again.

Next day I got away, on the coach, with the usual eclat attending
departures of old citizens,--for if you have only half a dozen friends
out there they will make noise for a hundred rather than let you seem to
go away neglected and unregretted--and Dan promised to keep strict watch
for the men that had the mine to sell.

The trip was signalized but by one little incident, and that occurred
just as we were about to start.  A very seedy looking vagabond passenger
got out of the stage a moment to wait till the usual ballast of silver
bricks was thrown in.  He was standing on the pavement, when an awkward
express employee, carrying a brick weighing a hundred pounds, stumbled
and let it fall on the bummer's foot.  He instantly dropped on the ground
and began to howl in the most heart-breaking way.  A sympathizing crowd
gathered around and were going to pull his boot off; but he screamed
louder than ever and they desisted; then he fell to gasping, and between
the gasps ejaculated “Brandy!  for Heaven's sake, brandy!”  They poured
half a pint down him, and it wonderfully restored and comforted him.
Then he begged the people to assist him to the stage, which was done.
The express people urged him to have a doctor at their expense, but he
declined, and said that if he only had a little brandy to take along with
him, to soothe his paroxyms of pain when they came on, he would be
grateful and content.  He was quickly supplied with two bottles, and we
drove off.  He was so smiling and happy after that, that I could not
refrain from asking him how he could possibly be so comfortable with a
crushed foot.

“Well,” said he, “I hadn't had a drink for twelve hours, and hadn't a
cent to my name.  I was most perishing--and so, when that duffer dropped
that hundred-pounder on my foot, I see my chance.  Got a cork leg, you
know!” and he pulled up his pantaloons and proved it.

He was as drunk as a lord all day long, and full of chucklings over his
timely ingenuity.

One drunken man necessarily reminds one of another.  I once heard a
gentleman tell about an incident which he witnessed in a Californian
bar-room.  He entitled it “Ye Modest Man Taketh a Drink.”  It was nothing
but a bit of acting, but it seemed to me a perfect rendering, and worthy
of Toodles himself.  The modest man, tolerably far gone with beer and
other matters, enters a saloon (twenty-five cents is the price for
anything and everything, and specie the only money used) and lays down a
half dollar; calls for whiskey and drinks it; the bar-keeper makes change
and lays the quarter in a wet place on the counter; the modest man
fumbles at it with nerveless fingers, but it slips and the water holds
it; he contemplates it, and tries again; same result; observes that
people are interested in what he is at, blushes; fumbles at the quarter
again--blushes--puts his forefinger carefully, slowly down, to make sure
of his aim--pushes the coin toward the bar-keeper, and says with a sigh:

“Gimme a cigar!”

Naturally, another gentleman present told about another drunken man.  He
said he reeled toward home late at night; made a mistake and entered the
wrong gate; thought he saw a dog on the stoop; and it was--an iron one.

He stopped and considered; wondered if it was a dangerous dog; ventured
to say “Be (hic) begone!”  No effect.  Then he approached warily, and
adopted conciliation; pursed up his lips and tried to whistle, but
failed; still approached, saying, “Poor dog!--doggy, doggy, doggy!--poor
doggy-dog!”  Got up on the stoop, still petting with fond names; till
master of the advantages; then exclaimed, “Leave, you thief!”--planted a
vindictive kick in his ribs, and went head-over-heels overboard, of
course.  A pause; a sigh or two of pain, and then a remark in a
reflective voice:

“Awful solid dog.  What could he ben eating?  ['ic!) Rocks, p'raps.
Such animals is dangerous.--'  At's what I say--they're dangerous.  If a
man--['ic!)--if a man wants to feed a dog on rocks, let him feed him on
rocks; 'at's all right; but let him keep him at home--not have him layin'
round promiscuous, where ['ic!) where people's liable to stumble over him
when they ain't noticin'!”

It was not without regret that I took a last look at the tiny flag (it
was thirty-five feet long and ten feet wide) fluttering like a lady's
handkerchief from the topmost peak of Mount Davidson, two thousand feet
above Virginia's roofs, and felt that doubtless I was bidding a permanent
farewell to a city which had afforded me the most vigorous enjoyment of
life I had ever experienced.  And this reminds me of an incident which
the dullest memory Virginia could boast at the time it happened must
vividly recall, at times, till its possessor dies.  Late one summer
afternoon we had a rain shower.

That was astonishing enough, in itself, to set the whole town buzzing,
for it only rains (during a week or two weeks) in the winter in Nevada,
and even then not enough at a time to make it worth while for any
merchant to keep umbrellas for sale.  But the rain was not the chief
wonder.  It only lasted five or ten minutes; while the people were still
talking about it all the heavens gathered to themselves a dense blackness
as of midnight.  All the vast eastern front of Mount Davidson,
over-looking the city, put on such a funereal gloom that only the
nearness and solidity of the mountain made its outlines even faintly
distinguishable from the dead blackness of the heavens they rested
against.  This unaccustomed sight turned all eyes toward the mountain;
and as they looked, a little tongue of rich golden flame was seen waving
and quivering in the heart of the midnight, away up on the extreme
summit! In a few minutes the streets were packed with people, gazing with
hardly an uttered word, at the one brilliant mote in the brooding world
of darkness.  It flicked like a candle-flame, and looked no larger; but
with such a background it was wonderfully bright, small as it was.  It
was the flag!--though no one suspected it at first, it seemed so like a
supernatural visitor of some kind--a mysterious messenger of good
tidings, some were fain to believe.  It was the nation's emblem
transfigured by the departing rays of a sun that was entirely palled from
view; and on no other object did the glory fall, in all the broad
panorama of mountain ranges and deserts.  Not even upon the staff of the
flag--for that, a needle in the distance at any time, was now untouched
by the light and undistinguishable in the gloom.  For a whole hour the
weird visitor winked and burned in its lofty solitude, and still the
thousands of uplifted eyes watched it with fascinated interest.  How the
people were wrought up!  The superstition grew apace that this was a
mystic courier come with great news from the war--the poetry of the idea
excusing and commending it--and on it spread, from heart to heart, from
lip to lip and from street to street, till there was a general impulse to
have out the military and welcome the bright waif with a salvo of

And all that time one sorely tried man, the telegraph operator sworn to
official secrecy, had to lock his lips and chain his tongue with a
silence that was like to rend them; for he, and he only, of all the
speculating multitude, knew the great things this sinking sun had seen
that day in the east--Vicksburg fallen, and the Union arms victorious at

But for the journalistic monopoly that forbade the slightest revealment
of eastern news till a day after its publication in the California
papers, the glorified flag on Mount Davidson would have been saluted and
re-saluted, that memorable evening, as long as there was a charge of
powder to thunder with; the city would have been illuminated, and every
man that had any respect for himself would have got drunk,--as was the
custom of the country on all occasions of public moment.  Even at this
distant day I cannot think of this needlessly marred supreme opportunity
without regret.  What a time we might have had!


We rumbled over the plains and valleys, climbed the Sierras to the
clouds, and looked down upon summer-clad California.  And I will remark
here, in passing, that all scenery in California requires distance to
give it its highest charm.  The mountains are imposing in their sublimity
and their majesty of form and altitude, from any point of view--but one
must have distance to soften their ruggedness and enrich their tintings;
a Californian forest is best at a little distance, for there is a sad
poverty of variety in species, the trees being chiefly of one monotonous
family--redwood, pine, spruce, fir--and so, at a near view there is a
wearisome sameness of attitude in their rigid arms, stretched down ward
and outward in one continued and reiterated appeal to all men to “Sh!
--don't say a word!--you might disturb somebody!”  Close at hand, too,
there is a reliefless and relentless smell of pitch and turpentine; there
is a ceaseless melancholy in their sighing and complaining foliage; one
walks over a soundless carpet of beaten yellow bark and dead spines of
the foliage till he feels like a wandering spirit bereft of a footfall;
he tires of the endless tufts of needles and yearns for substantial,
shapely leaves; he looks for moss and grass to loll upon, and finds none,
for where there is no bark there is naked clay and dirt, enemies to
pensive musing and clean apparel.  Often a grassy plain in California, is
what it should be, but often, too, it is best contemplated at a distance,
because although its grass blades are tall, they stand up vindictively
straight and self-sufficient, and are unsociably wide apart, with
uncomely spots of barren sand between.

One of the queerest things I know of, is to hear tourists from “the
States” go into ecstasies over the loveliness of “ever-blooming
California.”  And they always do go into that sort of ecstasies.  But
perhaps they would modify them if they knew how old Californians, with
the memory full upon them of the dust-covered and questionable summer
greens of Californian “verdure,” stand astonished, and filled with
worshipping admiration, in the presence of the lavish richness, the
brilliant green, the infinite freshness, the spend-thrift variety of form
and species and foliage that make an Eastern landscape a vision of
Paradise itself.  The idea of a man falling into raptures over grave and
sombre California, when that man has seen New England's meadow-expanses
and her maples, oaks and cathedral-windowed elms decked in summer attire,
or the opaline splendors of autumn descending upon her forests, comes
very near being funny--would be, in fact, but that it is so pathetic.
No land with an unvarying climate can be very beautiful.  The tropics are
not, for all the sentiment that is wasted on them.  They seem beautiful
at first, but sameness impairs the charm by and by.  Change is the
handmaiden Nature requires to do her miracles with.  The land that has
four well-defined seasons, cannot lack beauty, or pall with monotony.
Each season brings a world of enjoyment and interest in the watching of
its unfolding, its gradual, harmonious development, its culminating
graces--and just as one begins to tire of it, it passes away and a
radical change comes, with new witcheries and new glories in its train.
And I think that to one in sympathy with nature, each season, in its
turn, seems the loveliest.

San Francisco, a truly fascinating city to live in, is stately and
handsome at a fair distance, but close at hand one notes that the
architecture is mostly old-fashioned, many streets are made up of
decaying, smoke-grimed, wooden houses, and the barren sand-hills toward
the outskirts obtrude themselves too prominently.  Even the kindly
climate is sometimes pleasanter when read about than personally
experienced, for a lovely, cloudless sky wears out its welcome by and by,
and then when the longed for rain does come it stays.  Even the playful
earthquake is better contemplated at a dis----

However there are varying opinions about that.

The climate of San Francisco is mild and singularly equable.  The
thermometer stands at about seventy degrees the year round.  It hardly
changes at all.  You sleep under one or two light blankets Summer and
Winter, and never use a mosquito bar.  Nobody ever wears Summer clothing.
You wear black broadcloth--if you have it--in August and January, just
the same.  It is no colder, and no warmer, in the one month than the
other.  You do not use overcoats and you do not use fans.  It is as
pleasant a climate as could well be contrived, take it all around, and is
doubtless the most unvarying in the whole world.  The wind blows there a
good deal in the summer months, but then you can go over to Oakland, if
you choose--three or four miles away--it does not blow there.  It has
only snowed twice in San Francisco in nineteen years, and then it only
remained on the ground long enough to astonish the children, and set them
to wondering what the feathery stuff was.

During eight months of the year, straight along, the skies are bright and
cloudless, and never a drop of rain falls.  But when the other four
months come along, you will need to go and steal an umbrella.  Because
you will require it.  Not just one day, but one hundred and twenty days
in hardly varying succession.  When you want to go visiting, or attend
church, or the theatre, you never look up at the clouds to see whether it
is likely to rain or not--you look at the almanac.  If it is Winter, it
will rain--and if it is Summer, it won't rain, and you cannot help it.
You never need a lightning-rod, because it never thunders and it never
lightens.  And after you have listened for six or eight weeks, every
night, to the dismal monotony of those quiet rains, you will wish in your
heart the thunder would leap and crash and roar along those drowsy skies
once, and make everything alive--you will wish the prisoned lightnings
would cleave the dull firmament asunder and light it with a blinding
glare for one little instant.  You would give anything to hear the old
familiar thunder again and see the lightning strike somebody.  And along
in the Summer, when you have suffered about four months of lustrous,
pitiless sunshine, you are ready to go down on your knees and plead for
rain--hail--snow--thunder and lightning--anything to break the monotony
--you will take an earthquake, if you cannot do any better.  And the
chances are that you'll get it, too.

San Francisco is built on sand hills, but they are prolific sand hills.
They yield a generous vegetation.  All the rare flowers which people in
“the States” rear with such patient care in parlor flower-pots and
green-houses, flourish luxuriantly in the open air there all the year
round. Calla lilies, all sorts of geraniums, passion flowers, moss
roses--I do not know the names of a tenth part of them.  I only know that
while New Yorkers are burdened with banks and drifts of snow,
Californians are burdened with banks and drifts of flowers, if they only
keep their hands off and let them grow.  And I have heard that they have
also that rarest and most curious of all the flowers, the beautiful
Espiritu Santo, as the Spaniards call it--or flower of the Holy Spirit
--though I thought it grew only in Central America--down on the Isthmus.
In its cup is the daintiest little facsimile of a dove, as pure as snow.
The Spaniards have a superstitious reverence for it.  The blossom has
been conveyed to the States, submerged in ether; and the bulb has been
taken thither also, but every attempt to make it bloom after it arrived,
has failed.

I have elsewhere spoken of the endless Winter of Mono, California, and
but this moment of the eternal Spring of San Francisco.  Now if we travel
a hundred miles in a straight line, we come to the eternal Summer of
Sacramento.  One never sees Summer-clothing or mosquitoes in San
Francisco--but they can be found in Sacramento.  Not always and
unvaryingly, but about one hundred and forty-three months out of twelve
years, perhaps.  Flowers bloom there, always, the reader can easily
believe--people suffer and sweat, and swear, morning, noon and night, and
wear out their stanchest energies fanning themselves.  It gets hot there,
but if you go down to Fort Yuma you will find it hotter.  Fort Yuma is
probably the hottest place on earth.  The thermometer stays at one
hundred and twenty in the shade there all the time--except when it varies
and goes higher.  It is a U.S. military post, and its occupants get so
used to the terrific heat that they suffer without it.  There is a
tradition (attributed to John Phenix [It has been purloined by fifty
different scribblers who were too poor to invent a fancy but not ashamed
to steal one.--M.  T.]) that a very, very wicked soldier died there,
once, and of course, went straight to the hottest corner of perdition,
--and the next day he telegraphed back for his blankets.  There is no doubt
about the truth of this statement--there can be no doubt about it.  I
have seen the place where that soldier used to board.  In Sacramento it
is fiery Summer always, and you can gather roses, and eat strawberries
and ice-cream, and wear white linen clothes, and pant and perspire, at
eight or nine o'clock in the morning, and then take the cars, and at noon
put on your furs and your skates, and go skimming over frozen Donner
Lake, seven thousand feet above the valley, among snow banks fifteen feet
deep, and in the shadow of grand mountain peaks that lift their frosty
crags ten thousand feet above the level of the sea.

There is a transition for you!  Where will you find another like it in
the Western hemisphere?  And some of us have swept around snow-walled
curves of the Pacific Railroad in that vicinity, six thousand feet above
the sea, and looked down as the birds do, upon the deathless Summer of
the Sacramento Valley, with its fruitful fields, its feathery foliage,
its silver streams, all slumbering in the mellow haze of its enchanted
atmosphere, and all infinitely softened and spiritualized by distance--a
dreamy, exquisite glimpse of fairyland, made all the more charming and
striking that it was caught through a forbidden gateway of ice and snow,
and savage crags and precipices.


It was in this Sacramento Valley, just referred to, that a deal of the
most lucrative of the early gold mining was done, and you may still see,
in places, its grassy slopes and levels torn and guttered and disfigured
by the avaricious spoilers of fifteen and twenty years ago.  You may see
such disfigurements far and wide over California--and in some such
places, where only meadows and forests are visible--not a living
creature, not a house, no stick or stone or remnant of a ruin, and not a
sound, not even a whisper to disturb the Sabbath stillness--you will find
it hard to believe that there stood at one time a fiercely-flourishing
little city, of two thousand or three thousand souls, with its newspaper,
fire company, brass band, volunteer militia, bank, hotels, noisy Fourth
of July processions and speeches, gambling hells crammed with tobacco
smoke, profanity, and rough-bearded men of all nations and colors, with
tables heaped with gold dust sufficient for the revenues of a German
principality--streets crowded and rife with business--town lots worth
four hundred dollars a front foot--labor, laughter, music, dancing,
swearing, fighting, shooting, stabbing--a bloody inquest and a man for
breakfast every morning--everything that delights and adorns existence
--all the appointments and appurtenances of a thriving and prosperous and
promising young city,--and now nothing is left of it all but a lifeless,
homeless solitude.  The men are gone, the houses have vanished, even the
name of the place is forgotten.  In no other land, in modern times, have
towns so absolutely died and disappeared, as in the old mining regions of

It was a driving, vigorous, restless population in those days.  It was a
curious population.  It was the only population of the kind that the
world has ever seen gathered together, and it is not likely that the
world will ever see its like again.  For observe, it was an assemblage of
two hundred thousand young men--not simpering, dainty, kid-gloved
weaklings, but stalwart, muscular, dauntless young braves, brimful of
push and energy, and royally endowed with every attribute that goes to
make up a peerless and magnificent manhood--the very pick and choice of
the world's glorious ones.  No women, no children, no gray and stooping
veterans,--none but erect, bright-eyed, quick-moving, strong-handed young
giants--the strangest population, the finest population, the most gallant
host that ever trooped down the startled solitudes of an unpeopled land.
And where are they now?  Scattered to the ends of the earth--or
prematurely aged and decrepit--or shot or stabbed in street affrays--or
dead of disappointed hopes and broken hearts--all gone, or nearly all
--victims devoted upon the altar of the golden calf--the noblest holocaust
that ever wafted its sacrificial incense heavenward.  It is pitiful to
think upon.

It was a splendid population--for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained
sloths staid at home--you never find that sort of people among pioneers
--you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material.  It was that
population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding
enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring
and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this
day--and when she projects a new surprise, the grave world smiles as
usual, and says “Well, that is California all over.”

But they were rough in those times!  They fairly reveled in gold, whisky,
fights, and fandangoes, and were unspeakably happy.  The honest miner
raked from a hundred to a thousand dollars out of his claim a day, and
what with the gambling dens and the other entertainments, he hadn't a
cent the next morning, if he had any sort of luck.  They cooked their own
bacon and beans, sewed on their own buttons, washed their own shirts
--blue woollen ones; and if a man wanted a fight on his hands without any
annoying delay, all he had to do was to appear in public in a white shirt
or a stove-pipe hat, and he would be accommodated.  For those people
hated aristocrats.  They had a particular and malignant animosity toward
what they called a “biled shirt.”

It was a wild, free, disorderly, grotesque society!  Men--only swarming
hosts of stalwart men--nothing juvenile, nothing feminine, visible

In those days miners would flock in crowds to catch a glimpse of that
rare and blessed spectacle, a woman!  Old inhabitants tell how, in a
certain camp, the news went abroad early in the morning that a woman was
come!  They had seen a calico dress hanging out of a wagon down at the
camping-ground--sign of emigrants from over the great plains.  Everybody
went down there, and a shout went up when an actual, bona fide dress was
discovered fluttering in the wind!  The male emigrant was visible.  The
miners said:

“Fetch her out!”

He said: “It is my wife, gentlemen--she is sick--we have been robbed of
money, provisions, everything, by the Indians--we want to rest.”

“Fetch her out!  We've got to see her!”

“But, gentlemen, the poor thing, she--”


He “fetched her out,” and they swung their hats and sent up three rousing
cheers and a tiger; and they crowded around and gazed at her, and touched
her dress, and listened to her voice with the look of men who listened to
a memory rather than a present reality--and then they collected
twenty-five hundred dollars in gold and gave it to the man, and swung
their hats again and gave three more cheers, and went home satisfied.

Once I dined in San Francisco with the family of a pioneer, and talked
with his daughter, a young lady whose first experience in San Francisco
was an adventure, though she herself did not remember it, as she was only
two or three years old at the time.  Her father said that, after landing
from the ship, they were walking up the street, a servant leading the
party with the little girl in her arms.  And presently a huge miner,
bearded, belted, spurred, and bristling with deadly weapons--just down
from a long campaign in the mountains, evidently--barred the way, stopped
the servant, and stood gazing, with a face all alive with gratification
and astonishment.  Then he said, reverently:

“Well, if it ain't a child!” And then he snatched a little leather sack
out of his pocket and said to the servant:

“There's a hundred and fifty dollars in dust, there, and I'll give it to
you to let me kiss the child!”

That anecdote is true.

But see how things change.  Sitting at that dinner-table, listening to
that anecdote, if I had offered double the money for the privilege of
kissing the same child, I would have been refused.  Seventeen added years
have far more than doubled the price.

And while upon this subject I will remark that once in Star City, in the
Humboldt Mountains, I took my place in a sort of long, post-office single
file of miners, to patiently await my chance to peep through a crack in
the cabin and get a sight of the splendid new sensation--a genuine, live
Woman!  And at the end of half of an hour my turn came, and I put my eye
to the crack, and there she was, with one arm akimbo, and tossing
flap-jacks in a frying-pan with the other.

And she was one hundred and sixty-five [Being in calmer mood, now, I
voluntarily knock off a hundred from that.--M.T.] years old, and hadn't a
tooth in her head.


For a few months I enjoyed what to me was an entirely new phase of
existence--a butterfly idleness; nothing to do, nobody to be responsible
to, and untroubled with financial uneasiness.  I fell in love with the
most cordial and sociable city in the Union.  After the sage-brush and
alkali deserts of Washoe, San Francisco was Paradise to me.  I lived at
the best hotel, exhibited my clothes in the most conspicuous places,
infested the opera, and learned to seem enraptured with music which
oftener afflicted my ignorant ear than enchanted it, if I had had the
vulgar honesty to confess it.  However, I suppose I was not greatly worse
than the most of my countrymen in that.  I had longed to be a butterfly,
and I was one at last.  I attended private parties in sumptuous evening
dress, simpered and aired my graces like a born beau, and polkad and
schottisched with a step peculiar to myself--and the kangaroo.  In a
word, I kept the due state of a man worth a hundred thousand dollars
(prospectively,) and likely to reach absolute affluence when that
silver-mine sale should be ultimately achieved in the East.  I spent
money with a free hand, and meantime watched the stock sales with an
interested eye and looked to see what might happen in Nevada.

Something very important happened.  The property holders of Nevada voted
against the State Constitution; but the folks who had nothing to lose
were in the majority, and carried the measure over their heads.  But
after all it did not immediately look like a disaster, though
unquestionably it was one I hesitated, calculated the chances, and then
concluded not to sell.  Stocks went on rising; speculation went mad;
bankers, merchants, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, laborers, even the very
washerwomen and servant girls, were putting up their earnings on silver
stocks, and every sun that rose in the morning went down on paupers
enriched and rich men beggared.  What a gambling carnival it was!  Gould
and Curry soared to six thousand three hundred dollars a foot!  And then
--all of a sudden, out went the bottom and everything and everybody went
to ruin and destruction!  The wreck was complete.

The bubble scarcely left a microscopic moisture behind it.  I was an
early beggar and a thorough one.  My hoarded stocks were not worth the
paper they were printed on.  I threw them all away.  I, the cheerful
idiot that had been squandering money like water, and thought myself
beyond the reach of misfortune, had not now as much as fifty dollars when
I gathered together my various debts and paid them.  I removed from the
hotel to a very private boarding house.  I took a reporter's berth and
went to work.  I was not entirely broken in spirit, for I was building
confidently on the sale of the silver mine in the east.  But I could not
hear from Dan.  My letters miscarried or were not answered.

One day I did not feel vigorous and remained away from the office.  The
next day I went down toward noon as usual, and found a note on my desk
which had been there twenty-four hours.  It was signed “Marshall”--the
Virginia reporter--and contained a request that I should call at the
hotel and see him and a friend or two that night, as they would sail for
the east in the morning.  A postscript added that their errand was a big
mining speculation!  I was hardly ever so sick in my life.  I abused
myself for leaving Virginia and entrusting to another man a matter I
ought to have attended to myself; I abused myself for remaining away from
the office on the one day of all the year that I should have been there.
And thus berating myself I trotted a mile to the steamer wharf and
arrived just in time to be too late.  The ship was in the stream and
under way.

I comforted myself with the thought that may be the speculation would
amount to nothing--poor comfort at best--and then went back to my
slavery, resolved to put up with my thirty-five dollars a week and forget
all about it.

A month afterward I enjoyed my first earthquake.  It was one which was
long called the “great” earthquake, and is doubtless so distinguished
till this day.  It was just after noon, on a bright October day.  I was
coming down Third street.  The only objects in motion anywhere in sight
in that thickly built and populous quarter, were a man in a buggy behind
me, and a street car wending slowly up the cross street.  Otherwise, all
was solitude and a Sabbath stillness.  As I turned the corner, around a
frame house, there was a great rattle and jar, and it occurred to me that
here was an item!--no doubt a fight in that house.  Before I could turn
and seek the door, there came a really terrific shock; the ground seemed
to roll under me in waves, interrupted by a violent joggling up and down,
and there was a heavy grinding noise as of brick houses rubbing together.
I fell up against the frame house and hurt my elbow.  I knew what it was,
now, and from mere reportorial instinct, nothing else, took out my watch
and noted the time of day; at that moment a third and still severer shock
came, and as I reeled about on the pavement trying to keep my footing,
I saw a sight!  The entire front of a tall four-story brick building in
Third street sprung outward like a door and fell sprawling across the
street, raising a dust like a great volume of smoke!  And here came the
buggy--overboard went the man, and in less time than I can tell it the
vehicle was distributed in small fragments along three hundred yards of

One could have fancied that somebody had fired a charge of chair-rounds
and rags down the thoroughfare.  The street car had stopped, the horses
were rearing and plunging, the passengers were pouring out at both ends,
and one fat man had crashed half way through a glass window on one side
of the car, got wedged fast and was squirming and screaming like an
impaled madman.  Every door, of every house, as far as the eye could
reach, was vomiting a stream of human beings; and almost before one could
execute a wink and begin another, there was a massed multitude of people
stretching in endless procession down every street my position commanded.
Never was solemn solitude turned into teeming life quicker.

Of the wonders wrought by “the great earthquake,” these were all that
came under my eye; but the tricks it did, elsewhere, and far and wide
over the town, made toothsome gossip for nine days.

The destruction of property was trifling--the injury to it was
wide-spread and somewhat serious.

The “curiosities” of the earthquake were simply endless.  Gentlemen and
ladies who were sick, or were taking a siesta, or had dissipated till a
late hour and were making up lost sleep, thronged into the public streets
in all sorts of queer apparel, and some without any at all.  One woman
who had been washing a naked child, ran down the street holding it by the
ankles as if it were a dressed turkey.  Prominent citizens who were
supposed to keep the Sabbath strictly, rushed out of saloons in their
shirt-sleeves, with billiard cues in their hands.  Dozens of men with
necks swathed in napkins, rushed from barber-shops, lathered to the eyes
or with one cheek clean shaved and the other still bearing a hairy
stubble.  Horses broke from stables, and a frightened dog rushed up a
short attic ladder and out on to a roof, and when his scare was over had
not the nerve to go down again the same way he had gone up.

A prominent editor flew down stairs, in the principal hotel, with nothing
on but one brief undergarment--met a chambermaid, and exclaimed:

“Oh, what shall I do!  Where shall I go!”

She responded with naive serenity:

“If you have no choice, you might try a clothing-store!”

A certain foreign consul's lady was the acknowledged leader of fashion,
and every time she appeared in anything new or extraordinary, the ladies
in the vicinity made a raid on their husbands' purses and arrayed
themselves similarly.  One man who had suffered considerably and growled
accordingly, was standing at the window when the shocks came, and the
next instant the consul's wife, just out of the bath, fled by with no
other apology for clothing than--a bath-towel!  The sufferer rose
superior to the terrors of the earthquake, and said to his wife:

“Now that is something like!  Get out your towel my dear!”

The plastering that fell from ceilings in San Francisco that day, would
have covered several acres of ground.  For some days afterward, groups of
eyeing and pointing men stood about many a building, looking at long
zig-zag cracks that extended from the eaves to the ground.  Four feet of
the tops of three chimneys on one house were broken square off and turned
around in such a way as to completely stop the draft.

A crack a hundred feet long gaped open six inches wide in the middle of
one street and then shut together again with such force, as to ridge up
the meeting earth like a slender grave.  A lady sitting in her rocking
and quaking parlor, saw the wall part at the ceiling, open and shut
twice, like a mouth, and then drop the end of a brick on the floor like a
tooth.  She was a woman easily disgusted with foolishness, and she arose
and went out of there.  One lady who was coming down stairs was
astonished to see a bronze Hercules lean forward on its pedestal as if to
strike her with its club.  They both reached the bottom of the flight at
the same time,--the woman insensible from the fright.  Her child, born
some little time afterward, was club-footed.  However--on second
thought,--if the reader sees any coincidence in this, he must do it at
his own risk.

The first shock brought down two or three huge organ-pipes in one of the
churches.  The minister, with uplifted hands, was just closing the
services.  He glanced up, hesitated, and said:

“However, we will omit the benediction!”--and the next instant there was
a vacancy in the atmosphere where he had stood.

After the first shock, an Oakland minister said:

“Keep your seats!  There is no better place to die than this”--

And added, after the third:

“But outside is good enough!”  He then skipped out at the back door.

Such another destruction of mantel ornaments and toilet bottles as the
earthquake created, San Francisco never saw before.  There was hardly a
girl or a matron in the city but suffered losses of this kind.  Suspended
pictures were thrown down, but oftener still, by a curious freak of the
earthquake's humor, they were whirled completely around with their faces
to the wall!  There was great difference of opinion, at first, as to the
course or direction the earthquake traveled, but water that splashed out
of various tanks and buckets settled that.  Thousands of people were made
so sea-sick by the rolling and pitching of floors and streets that they
were weak and bed-ridden for hours, and some few for even days
afterward.--Hardly an individual escaped nausea entirely.

The queer earthquake--episodes that formed the staple of San Francisco
gossip for the next week would fill a much larger book than this, and so
I will diverge from the subject.

By and by, in the due course of things, I picked up a copy of the
Enterprise one day, and fell under this cruel blow:

      NEVADA MINES IN NEW YORK.--G.  M.  Marshall, Sheba Hurs and Amos H.
      Rose, who left San Francisco last July for New York City, with ores
      from mines in Pine Wood District, Humboldt County, and on the Reese
      River range, have disposed of a mine containing six thousand feet
      and called the Pine Mountains Consolidated, for the sum of
      $3,000,000.  The stamps on the deed, which is now on its way to
      Humboldt County, from New York, for record, amounted to $3,000,
      which is said to be the largest amount of stamps ever placed on one
      document.  A working capital of $1,000,000 has been paid into the
      treasury, and machinery has already been purchased for a large
      quartz mill, which will be put up as soon as possible.  The stock in
      this company is all full paid and entirely unassessable.  The ores
      of the mines in this district somewhat resemble those of the Sheba
      mine in Humboldt.  Sheba Hurst, the discoverer of the mines, with
      his friends corralled all the best leads and all the land and timber
      they desired before making public their whereabouts.  Ores from
      there, assayed in this city, showed them to be exceedingly rich in
      silver and gold--silver predominating.  There is an abundance of
      wood and water in the District.  We are glad to know that New York
      capital has been enlisted in the development of the mines of this
      region.  Having seen the ores and assays, we are satisfied that the
      mines of the District are very valuable--anything but wild-cat.

Once more native imbecility had carried the day, and I had lost a
million!  It was the “blind lead” over again.

Let us not dwell on this miserable matter.  If I were inventing these
things, I could be wonderfully humorous over them; but they are too true
to be talked of with hearty levity, even at this distant day. [True, and
yet not exactly as given in the above figures, possibly.  I saw Marshall,
months afterward, and although he had plenty of money he did not claim to
have captured an entire million.  In fact I gathered that he had not then
received $50,000.  Beyond that figure his fortune appeared to consist of
uncertain vast expectations rather than prodigious certainties.  However,
when the above item appeared in print I put full faith in it, and
incontinently wilted and went to seed under it.] Suffice it that I so
lost heart, and so yielded myself up to repinings and sighings and
foolish regrets, that I neglected my duties and became about worthless,
as a reporter for a brisk newspaper.  And at last one of the proprietors
took me aside, with a charity I still remember with considerable respect,
and gave me an opportunity to resign my berth and so save myself the
disgrace of a dismissal.


For a time I wrote literary screeds for the Golden Era. C. H. Webb had
established a very excellent literary weekly called the Californian, but
high merit was no guaranty of success; it languished, and he sold out to
three printers, and Bret Harte became editor at $20 a week, and I was
employed to contribute an article a week at $12.  But the journal still
languished, and the printers sold out to Captain Ogden, a rich man and a
pleasant gentleman who chose to amuse himself with such an expensive
luxury without much caring about the cost of it.  When he grew tired of
the novelty, he re-sold to the printers, the paper presently died a
peaceful death, and I was out of work again.  I would not mention these
things but for the fact that they so aptly illustrate the ups and downs
that characterize life on the Pacific coast.  A man could hardly stumble
into such a variety of queer vicissitudes in any other country.

For two months my sole occupation was avoiding acquaintances; for during
that time I did not earn a penny, or buy an article of any kind, or pay
my board.  I became a very adept at “slinking.”  I slunk from back street
to back street, I slunk away from approaching faces that looked familiar,
I slunk to my meals, ate them humbly and with a mute apology for every
mouthful I robbed my generous landlady of, and at midnight, after
wanderings that were but slinkings away from cheerfulness and light, I
slunk to my bed.  I felt meaner, and lowlier and more despicable than the
worms.  During all this time I had but one piece of money--a silver ten
cent piece--and I held to it and would not spend it on any account, lest
the consciousness coming strong upon me that I was entirely penniless,
might suggest suicide.  I had pawned every thing but the clothes I had
on; so I clung to my dime desperately, till it was smooth with handling.

However, I am forgetting.  I did have one other occupation beside that of
“slinking.”  It was the entertaining of a collector (and being
entertained by him,) who had in his hands the Virginia banker's bill for
forty-six dollars which I had loaned my schoolmate, the “Prodigal.”  This
man used to call regularly once a week and dun me, and sometimes oftener.
He did it from sheer force of habit, for he knew he could get nothing.
He would get out his bill, calculate the interest for me, at five per
cent a month, and show me clearly that there was no attempt at fraud in
it and no mistakes; and then plead, and argue and dun with all his might
for any sum--any little trifle--even a dollar--even half a dollar, on
account.  Then his duty was accomplished and his conscience free.  He
immediately dropped the subject there always; got out a couple of cigars
and divided, put his feet in the window, and then we would have a long,
luxurious talk about everything and everybody, and he would furnish me a
world of curious dunning adventures out of the ample store in his memory.
By and by he would clap his hat on his head, shake hands and say briskly:

“Well, business is business--can't stay with you always!”--and was off in
a second.

The idea of pining for a dun!  And yet I used to long for him to come,
and would get as uneasy as any mother if the day went by without his
visit, when I was expecting him.  But he never collected that bill, at
last nor any part of it.  I lived to pay it to the banker myself.

Misery loves company.  Now and then at night, in out-of-the way, dimly
lighted places, I found myself happening on another child of misfortune.
He looked so seedy and forlorn, so homeless and friendless and forsaken,
that I yearned toward him as a brother.  I wanted to claim kinship with
him and go about and enjoy our wretchedness together.  The drawing toward
each other must have been mutual; at any rate we got to falling together
oftener, though still seemingly by accident; and although we did not
speak or evince any recognition, I think the dull anxiety passed out of
both of us when we saw each other, and then for several hours we would
idle along contentedly, wide apart, and glancing furtively in at home
lights and fireside gatherings, out of the night shadows, and very much
enjoying our dumb companionship.

Finally we spoke, and were inseparable after that.  For our woes were
identical, almost.  He had been a reporter too, and lost his berth, and
this was his experience, as nearly as I can recollect it.  After losing
his berth he had gone down, down, down, with never a halt: from a
boarding house on Russian Hill to a boarding house in Kearney street;
from thence to Dupont; from thence to a low sailor den; and from thence
to lodgings in goods boxes and empty hogsheads near the wharves.  Then;
for a while, he had gained a meagre living by sewing up bursted sacks of
grain on the piers; when that failed he had found food here and there as
chance threw it in his way.  He had ceased to show his face in daylight,
now, for a reporter knows everybody, rich and poor, high and low, and
cannot well avoid familiar faces in the broad light of day.

This mendicant Blucher--I call him that for convenience--was a splendid
creature.  He was full of hope, pluck and philosophy; he was well read
and a man of cultivated taste; he had a bright wit and was a master of
satire; his kindliness and his generous spirit made him royal in my eyes
and changed his curb-stone seat to a throne and his damaged hat to a

He had an adventure, once, which sticks fast in my memory as the most
pleasantly grotesque that ever touched my sympathies.  He had been
without a penny for two months.  He had shirked about obscure streets,
among friendly dim lights, till the thing had become second nature to
him.  But at last he was driven abroad in daylight.  The cause was
sufficient; he had not tasted food for forty-eight hours, and he could
not endure the misery of his hunger in idle hiding.  He came along a back
street, glowering at the loaves in bake-shop windows, and feeling that he
could trade his life away for a morsel to eat.  The sight of the bread
doubled his hunger; but it was good to look at it, any how, and imagine
what one might do if one only had it.

Presently, in the middle of the street he saw a shining spot--looked
again--did not, and could not, believe his eyes--turned away, to try
them, then looked again.  It was a verity--no vain, hunger-inspired
delusion--it was a silver dime!

He snatched it--gloated over it; doubted it--bit it--found it genuine
--choked his heart down, and smothered a halleluiah.  Then he looked
around--saw that nobody was looking at him--threw the dime down where it
was before--walked away a few steps, and approached again, pretending he
did not know it was there, so that he could re-enjoy the luxury of
finding it.  He walked around it, viewing it from different points; then
sauntered about with his hands in his pockets, looking up at the signs
and now and then glancing at it and feeling the old thrill again.
Finally he took it up, and went away, fondling it in his pocket.  He
idled through unfrequented streets, stopping in doorways and corners to
take it out and look at it.  By and by he went home to his lodgings--an
empty queens-ware hogshead,--and employed himself till night trying to
make up his mind what to buy with it.  But it was hard to do.  To get the
most for it was the idea.  He knew that at the Miner's Restaurant he
could get a plate of beans and a piece of bread for ten cents; or a
fish-ball and some few trifles, but they gave “no bread with one
fish-ball” there.  At French Pete's he could get a veal cutlet, plain,
and some radishes and bread, for ten cents; or a cup of coffee--a pint at
least--and a slice of bread; but the slice was not thick enough by the
eighth of an inch, and sometimes they were still more criminal than that
in the cutting of it.  At seven o'clock his hunger was wolfish; and still
his mind was not made up.  He turned out and went up Merchant street,
still ciphering; and chewing a bit of stick, as is the way of starving

He passed before the lights of Martin's restaurant, the most aristocratic
in the city, and stopped.  It was a place where he had often dined, in
better days, and Martin knew him well.  Standing aside, just out of the
range of the light, he worshiped the quails and steaks in the show
window, and imagined that may be the fairy times were not gone yet and
some prince in disguise would come along presently and tell him to go in
there and take whatever he wanted.  He chewed his stick with a hungry
interest as he warmed to his subject.  Just at this juncture he was
conscious of some one at his side, sure enough; and then a finger touched
his arm.  He looked up, over his shoulder, and saw an apparition--a very
allegory of Hunger!  It was a man six feet high, gaunt, unshaven, hung
with rags; with a haggard face and sunken cheeks, and eyes that pleaded
piteously.  This phantom said:

“Come with me--please.”

He locked his arm in Blucher's and walked up the street to where the
passengers were few and the light not strong, and then facing about, put
out his hands in a beseeching way, and said:

“Friend--stranger--look at me!  Life is easy to you--you go about, placid
and content, as I did once, in my day--you have been in there, and eaten
your sumptuous supper, and picked your teeth, and hummed your tune, and
thought your pleasant thoughts, and said to yourself it is a good world
--but you've never suffered!  You don't know what trouble is--you don't
know what misery is--nor hunger!  Look at me!  Stranger have pity on a
poor friendless, homeless dog!  As God is my judge, I have not tasted
food for eight and forty hours!--look in my eyes and see if I lie!  Give
me the least trifle in the world to keep me from starving--anything
--twenty-five cents!  Do it, stranger--do it, please.  It will be nothing
to you, but life to me.  Do it, and I will go down on my knees and lick
the dust before you!  I will kiss your footprints--I will worship the
very ground you walk on!  Only twenty-five cents!  I am famishing
--perishing--starving by inches!  For God's sake don't desert me!”

Blucher was bewildered--and touched, too--stirred to the depths.  He
reflected.  Thought again.  Then an idea struck him, and he said:

“Come with me.”

He took the outcast's arm, walked him down to Martin's restaurant, seated
him at a marble table, placed the bill of fare before him, and said:

“Order what you want, friend.  Charge it to me, Mr. Martin.”

“All right, Mr. Blucher,” said Martin.

Then Blucher stepped back and leaned against the counter and watched the
man stow away cargo after cargo of buckwheat cakes at seventy-five cents
a plate; cup after cup of coffee, and porter house steaks worth two
dollars apiece; and when six dollars and a half's worth of destruction
had been accomplished, and the stranger's hunger appeased, Blucher went
down to French Pete's, bought a veal cutlet plain, a slice of bread, and
three radishes, with his dime, and set to and feasted like a king!

Take the episode all around, it was as odd as any that can be culled from
the myriad curiosities of Californian life, perhaps.


By and by, an old friend of mine, a miner, came down from one of the
decayed mining camps of Tuolumne, California, and I went back with him.
We lived in a small cabin on a verdant hillside, and there were not five
other cabins in view over the wide expanse of hill and forest.  Yet a
flourishing city of two or three thousand population had occupied this
grassy dead solitude during the flush times of twelve or fifteen years
before, and where our cabin stood had once been the heart of the teeming
hive, the centre of the city.  When the mines gave out the town fell into
decay, and in a few years wholly disappeared--streets, dwellings, shops,
everything--and left no sign.  The grassy slopes were as green and smooth
and desolate of life as if they had never been disturbed.  The mere
handful of miners still remaining, had seen the town spring up spread,
grow and flourish in its pride; and they had seen it sicken and die, and
pass away like a dream.  With it their hopes had died, and their zest of
life.  They had long ago resigned themselves to their exile, and ceased
to correspond with their distant friends or turn longing eyes toward
their early homes.  They had accepted banishment, forgotten the world and
been forgotten of the world.  They were far from telegraphs and
railroads, and they stood, as it were, in a living grave, dead to the
events that stirred the globe's great populations, dead to the common
interests of men, isolated and outcast from brotherhood with their kind.
It was the most singular, and almost the most touching and melancholy
exile that fancy can imagine.--One of my associates in this locality, for
two or three months, was a man who had had a university education; but
now for eighteen years he had decayed there by inches, a bearded,
rough-clad, clay-stained miner, and at times, among his sighings and
soliloquizings, he unconsciously interjected vaguely remembered Latin and
Greek sentences--dead and musty tongues, meet vehicles for the thoughts
of one whose dreams were all of the past, whose life was a failure; a
tired man, burdened with the present, and indifferent to the future; a
man without ties, hopes, interests, waiting for rest and the end.

In that one little corner of California is found a species of mining
which is seldom or never mentioned in print.  It is called “pocket
mining” and I am not aware that any of it is done outside of that little
corner.  The gold is not evenly distributed through the surface dirt, as
in ordinary placer mines, but is collected in little spots, and they are
very wide apart and exceedingly hard to find, but when you do find one
you reap a rich and sudden harvest.  There are not now more than twenty
pocket miners in that entire little region.  I think I know every one of
them personally.  I have known one of them to hunt patiently about the
hill-sides every day for eight months without finding gold enough to make
a snuff-box--his grocery bill running up relentlessly all the time--and
then find a pocket and take out of it two thousand dollars in two dips of
his shovel.  I have known him to take out three thousand dollars in two
hours, and go and pay up every cent of his indebtedness, then enter on a
dazzling spree that finished the last of his treasure before the night
was gone.  And the next day he bought his groceries on credit as usual,
and shouldered his pan and shovel and went off to the hills hunting
pockets again happy and content.  This is the most fascinating of all the
different kinds of mining, and furnishes a very handsome percentage of
victims to the lunatic asylum.

Pocket hunting is an ingenious process.  You take a spadeful of earth
from the hill-side and put it in a large tin pan and dissolve and wash it
gradually away till nothing is left but a teaspoonful of fine sediment.
Whatever gold was in that earth has remained, because, being the
heaviest, it has sought the bottom.  Among the sediment you will find
half a dozen yellow particles no larger than pin-heads.  You are
delighted.  You move off to one side and wash another pan.  If you find
gold again, you move to one side further, and wash a third pan.  If you
find no gold this time, you are delighted again, because you know you are
on the right scent.

You lay an imaginary plan, shaped like a fan, with its handle up the
hill--for just where the end of the handle is, you argue that the rich
deposit lies hidden, whose vagrant grains of gold have escaped and been
washed down the hill, spreading farther and farther apart as they
wandered.  And so you proceed up the hill, washing the earth and
narrowing your lines every time the absence of gold in the pan shows that
you are outside the spread of the fan; and at last, twenty yards up the
hill your lines have converged to a point--a single foot from that point
you cannot find any gold.  Your breath comes short and quick, you are
feverish with excitement; the dinner-bell may ring its clapper off, you
pay no attention; friends may die, weddings transpire, houses burn down,
they are nothing to you; you sweat and dig and delve with a frantic
interest--and all at once you strike it!  Up comes a spadeful of earth
and quartz that is all lovely with soiled lumps and leaves and sprays of
gold.  Sometimes that one spadeful is all--$500.  Sometimes the nest
contains $10,000, and it takes you three or four days to get it all out.
The pocket-miners tell of one nest that yielded $60,000 and two men
exhausted it in two weeks, and then sold the ground for $10,000 to a
party who never got $300 out of it afterward.

The hogs are good pocket hunters.  All the summer they root around the
bushes, and turn up a thousand little piles of dirt, and then the miners
long for the rains; for the rains beat upon these little piles and wash
them down and expose the gold, possibly right over a pocket.  Two pockets
were found in this way by the same man in one day.  One had $5,000 in it
and the other $8,000.  That man could appreciate it, for he hadn't had a
cent for about a year.

In Tuolumne lived two miners who used to go to the neighboring village in
the afternoon and return every night with household supplies.  Part of
the distance they traversed a trail, and nearly always sat down to rest
on a great boulder that lay beside the path.  In the course of thirteen
years they had worn that boulder tolerably smooth, sitting on it.  By and
by two vagrant Mexicans came along and occupied the seat.  They began to
amuse themselves by chipping off flakes from the boulder with a
sledge-hammer.  They examined one of these flakes and found it rich with
gold. That boulder paid them $800 afterward.  But the aggravating
circumstance was that these “Greasers” knew that there must be more gold
where that boulder came from, and so they went panning up the hill and
found what was probably the richest pocket that region has yet produced.
It took three months to exhaust it, and it yielded $120,000.  The two
American miners who used to sit on the boulder are poor yet, and they
take turn about in getting up early in the morning to curse those
Mexicans--and when it comes down to pure ornamental cursing, the native
American is gifted above the sons of men.

I have dwelt at some length upon this matter of pocket mining because it
is a subject that is seldom referred to in print, and therefore I judged
that it would have for the reader that interest which naturally attaches
to novelty.


One of my comrades there--another of those victims of eighteen years of
unrequited toil and blighted hopes--was one of the gentlest spirits that
ever bore its patient cross in a weary exile: grave and simple Dick
Baker, pocket-miner of Dead-House Gulch.--He was forty-six, gray as a
rat, earnest, thoughtful, slenderly educated, slouchily dressed and
clay-soiled, but his heart was finer metal than any gold his shovel ever
brought to light--than any, indeed, that ever was mined or minted.

Whenever he was out of luck and a little down-hearted, he would fall to
mourning over the loss of a wonderful cat he used to own (for where women
and children are not, men of kindly impulses take up with pets, for they
must love something).  And he always spoke of the strange sagacity of
that cat with the air of a man who believed in his secret heart that
there was something human about it--may be even supernatural.

I heard him talking about this animal once.  He said:

“Gentlemen, I used to have a cat here, by the name of Tom Quartz, which
you'd a took an interest in I reckon--most any body would.  I had him
here eight year--and he was the remarkablest cat I ever see.  He was a
large gray one of the Tom specie, an' he had more hard, natchral sense
than any man in this camp--'n' a power of dignity--he wouldn't let the
Gov'ner of Californy be familiar with him.  He never ketched a rat in his
life--'peared to be above it.  He never cared for nothing but mining.
He knowed more about mining, that cat did, than any man I ever, ever see.
You couldn't tell him noth'n 'bout placer diggin's--'n' as for pocket
mining, why he was just born for it.

“He would dig out after me an' Jim when we went over the hills
prospect'n', and he would trot along behind us for as much as five mile,
if we went so fur.  An' he had the best judgment about mining ground--why
you never see anything like it.  When we went to work, he'd scatter a
glance around, 'n' if he didn't think much of the indications, he would
give a look as much as to say, 'Well, I'll have to get you to excuse me,'
'n' without another word he'd hyste his nose into the air 'n' shove for
home.  But if the ground suited him, he would lay low 'n' keep dark till
the first pan was washed, 'n' then he would sidle up 'n' take a look, an'
if there was about six or seven grains of gold he was satisfied--he
didn't want no better prospect 'n' that--'n' then he would lay down on
our coats and snore like a steamboat till we'd struck the pocket, an'
then get up 'n' superintend.  He was nearly lightnin' on superintending.

“Well, bye an' bye, up comes this yer quartz excitement.  Every body was
into it--every body was pick'n' 'n' blast'n' instead of shovelin' dirt on
the hill side--every body was put'n' down a shaft instead of scrapin' the
surface.  Noth'n' would do Jim, but we must tackle the ledges, too, 'n'
so we did.  We commenced put'n' down a shaft, 'n' Tom Quartz he begin to
wonder what in the Dickens it was all about.  He hadn't ever seen any
mining like that before, 'n' he was all upset, as you may say--he
couldn't come to a right understanding of it no way--it was too many for
him.  He was down on it, too, you bet you--he was down on it powerful
--'n' always appeared to consider it the cussedest foolishness out.  But
that cat, you know, was always agin new fangled arrangements--somehow he
never could abide'em.  You know how it is with old habits.  But by an' by
Tom Quartz begin to git sort of reconciled a little, though he never
could altogether understand that eternal sinkin' of a shaft an' never
pannin' out any thing.  At last he got to comin' down in the shaft,
hisself, to try to cipher it out.  An' when he'd git the blues, 'n' feel
kind o'scruffy, 'n' aggravated 'n' disgusted--knowin' as he did, that the
bills was runnin' up all the time an' we warn't makin' a cent--he would
curl up on a gunny sack in the corner an' go to sleep.  Well, one day
when the shaft was down about eight foot, the rock got so hard that we
had to put in a blast--the first blast'n' we'd ever done since Tom Quartz
was born.  An' then we lit the fuse 'n' clumb out 'n' got off 'bout fifty
yards--'n' forgot 'n' left Tom Quartz sound asleep on the gunny sack.

“In 'bout a minute we seen a puff of smoke bust up out of the hole, 'n'
then everything let go with an awful crash, 'n' about four million ton of
rocks 'n' dirt 'n' smoke 'n; splinters shot up 'bout a mile an' a half
into the air, an' by George, right in the dead centre of it was old Tom
Quartz a goin' end over end, an' a snortin' an' a sneez'n', an' a clawin'
an' a reachin' for things like all possessed.  But it warn't no use, you
know, it warn't no use.  An' that was the last we see of him for about
two minutes 'n' a half, an' then all of a sudden it begin to rain rocks
and rubbage, an' directly he come down ker-whop about ten foot off f'm
where we stood Well, I reckon he was p'raps the orneriest lookin' beast
you ever see.  One ear was sot back on his neck, 'n' his tail was stove
up, 'n' his eye-winkers was swinged off, 'n' he was all blacked up with
powder an' smoke, an' all sloppy with mud 'n' slush f'm one end to the

“Well sir, it warn't no use to try to apologize--we couldn't say a word.
He took a sort of a disgusted look at hisself, 'n' then he looked at us
--an' it was just exactly the same as if he had said--'Gents, may be you
think it's smart to take advantage of a cat that 'ain't had no experience
of quartz minin', but I think different'--an' then he turned on his heel
'n' marched off home without ever saying another word.

“That was jest his style.  An' may be you won't believe it, but after
that you never see a cat so prejudiced agin quartz mining as what he was.
An' by an' bye when he did get to goin' down in the shaft agin, you'd 'a
been astonished at his sagacity.  The minute we'd tetch off a blast 'n'
the fuse'd begin to sizzle, he'd give a look as much as to say: 'Well,
I'll have to git you to excuse me,' an' it was surpris'n' the way he'd
shin out of that hole 'n' go f'r a tree.  Sagacity?  It ain't no name for
it.  'Twas inspiration!”

I said, “Well, Mr. Baker, his prejudice against quartz-mining was
remarkable, considering how he came by it.  Couldn't you ever cure him of

“Cure him!  No!  When Tom Quartz was sot once, he was always sot--and you
might a blowed him up as much as three million times 'n' you'd never a
broken him of his cussed prejudice agin quartz mining.”

The affection and the pride that lit up Baker's face when he delivered
this tribute to the firmness of his humble friend of other days, will
always be a vivid memory with me.

At the end of two months we had never “struck” a pocket.  We had panned
up and down the hillsides till they looked plowed like a field; we could
have put in a crop of grain, then, but there would have been no way to
get it to market.  We got many good “prospects,” but when the gold gave
out in the pan and we dug down, hoping and longing, we found only
emptiness--the pocket that should have been there was as barren as our
own.--At last we shouldered our pans and shovels and struck out over the
hills to try new localities.  We prospected around Angel's Camp, in
Calaveras county, during three weeks, but had no success.  Then we
wandered on foot among the mountains, sleeping under the trees at night,
for the weather was mild, but still we remained as centless as the last
rose of summer.  That is a poor joke, but it is in pathetic harmony with
the circumstances, since we were so poor ourselves.  In accordance with
the custom of the country, our door had always stood open and our board
welcome to tramping miners--they drifted along nearly every day, dumped
their paust shovels by the threshold and took “pot luck” with us--and now
on our own tramp we never found cold hospitality.

Our wanderings were wide and in many directions; and now I could give the
reader a vivid description of the Big Trees and the marvels of the Yo
Semite--but what has this reader done to me that I should persecute him?
I will deliver him into the hands of less conscientious tourists and take
his blessing.  Let me be charitable, though I fail in all virtues else.

Note: Some of the phrases in the above are mining technicalities, purely,
and may be a little obscure to the general reader.  In “placer diggings”
 the gold is scattered all through the surface dirt; in “pocket” diggings
it is concentrated in one little spot; in “quartz” the gold is in a
solid, continuous vein of rock, enclosed between distinct walls of some
other kind of stone--and this is the most laborious and expensive of all
the different kinds of mining.  “Prospecting” is hunting for a “placer”;
“indications” are signs of its presence; “panning out” refers to the
washing process by which the grains of gold are separated from the dirt;
a “prospect” is what one finds in the first panful of dirt--and its value
determines whether it is a good or a bad prospect, and whether it is
worth while to tarry there or seek further.


After a three months' absence, I found myself in San Francisco again,
without a cent.  When my credit was about exhausted, (for I had become
too mean and lazy, now, to work on a morning paper, and there were no
vacancies on the evening journals,) I was created San Francisco
correspondent of the Enterprise, and at the end of five months I was out
of debt, but my interest in my work was gone; for my correspondence being
a daily one, without rest or respite, I got unspeakably tired of it.
I wanted another change.  The vagabond instinct was strong upon me.
Fortune favored and I got a new berth and a delightful one.  It was to go
down to the Sandwich Islands and write some letters for the Sacramento
Union, an excellent journal and liberal with employees.

We sailed in the propeller Ajax, in the middle of winter.  The almanac
called it winter, distinctly enough, but the weather was a compromise
between spring and summer.  Six days out of port, it became summer
altogether.  We had some thirty passengers; among them a cheerful soul
by the name of Williams, and three sea-worn old whaleship captains going
down to join their vessels.  These latter played euchre in the smoking
room day and night, drank astonishing quantities of raw whisky without
being in the least affected by it, and were the happiest people I think
I ever saw.  And then there was “the old Admiral--”  a retired whaleman.
He was a roaring, terrific combination of wind and lightning and thunder,
and earnest, whole-souled profanity.  But nevertheless he was
tender-hearted as a girl.  He was a raving, deafening, devastating
typhoon, laying waste the cowering seas but with an unvexed refuge in the
centre where all comers were safe and at rest.  Nobody could know the
“Admiral” without liking him; and in a sudden and dire emergency I think
no friend of his would know which to choose--to be cursed by him or
prayed for by a less efficient person.

His Title of “Admiral” was more strictly “official” than any ever worn by
a naval officer before or since, perhaps--for it was the voluntary
offering of a whole nation, and came direct from the people themselves
without any intermediate red tape--the people of the Sandwich Islands.
It was a title that came to him freighted with affection, and honor, and
appreciation of his unpretending merit.  And in testimony of the
genuineness of the title it was publicly ordained that an exclusive flag
should be devised for him and used solely to welcome his coming and wave
him God-speed in his going.  From that time forth, whenever his ship was
signaled in the offing, or he catted his anchor and stood out to sea,
that ensign streamed from the royal halliards on the parliament house and
the nation lifted their hats to it with spontaneous accord.

Yet he had never fired a gun or fought a battle in his life.  When I knew
him on board the Ajax, he was seventy-two years old and had plowed the
salt water sixty-one of them.  For sixteen years he had gone in and out
of the harbor of Honolulu in command of a whaleship, and for sixteen more
had been captain of a San Francisco and Sandwich Island passenger packet
and had never had an accident or lost a vessel.  The simple natives knew
him for a friend who never failed them, and regarded him as children
regard a father.  It was a dangerous thing to oppress them when the
roaring Admiral was around.

Two years before I knew the Admiral, he had retired from the sea on a
competence, and had sworn a colossal nine-jointed oath that he would
“never go within smelling distance of the salt water again as long as he
lived.”  And he had conscientiously kept it.  That is to say, he
considered he had kept it, and it would have been more than dangerous to
suggest to him, even in the gentlest way, that making eleven long sea
voyages, as a passenger, during the two years that had transpired since
he “retired,” was only keeping the general spirit of it and not the
strict letter.

The Admiral knew only one narrow line of conduct to pursue in any and all
cases where there was a fight, and that was to shoulder his way straight
in without an inquiry as to the rights or the merits of it, and take the
part of the weaker side.--And this was the reason why he was always sure
to be present at the trial of any universally execrated criminal to
oppress and intimidate the jury with a vindictive pantomime of what he
would do to them if he ever caught them out of the box.  And this was why
harried cats and outlawed dogs that knew him confidently took sanctuary
under his chair in time of trouble.  In the beginning he was the most
frantic and bloodthirsty Union man that drew breath in the shadow of the
Flag; but the instant the Southerners began to go down before the sweep
of the Northern armies, he ran up the Confederate colors and from that
time till the end was a rampant and inexorable secessionist.

He hated intemperance with a more uncompromising animosity than any
individual I have ever met, of either sex; and he was never tired of
storming against it and beseeching friends and strangers alike to be wary
and drink with moderation.  And yet if any creature had been guileless
enough to intimate that his absorbing nine gallons of “straight” whiskey
during our voyage was any fraction short of rigid or inflexible
abstemiousness, in that self-same moment the old man would have spun him
to the uttermost parts of the earth in the whirlwind of his wrath.  Mind,
I am not saying his whisky ever affected his head or his legs, for it did
not, in even the slightest degree.  He was a capacious container, but he
did not hold enough for that.  He took a level tumblerful of whisky every
morning before he put his clothes on--“to sweeten his bilgewater,” he
said.--He took another after he got the most of his clothes on, “to
settle his mind and give him his bearings.”  He then shaved, and put on a
clean shirt; after which he recited the Lord's Prayer in a fervent,
thundering bass that shook the ship to her kelson and suspended all
conversation in the main cabin.  Then, at this stage, being invariably
“by the head,” or “by the stern,” or “listed to port or starboard,” he
took one more to “put him on an even keel so that he would mind his
hellum and not miss stays and go about, every time he came up in the
wind.”--And now, his state-room door swung open and the sun of his
benignant face beamed redly out upon men and women and children, and he
roared his “Shipmets a'hoy!” in a way that was calculated to wake the
dead and precipitate the final resurrection; and forth he strode, a
picture to look at and a presence to enforce attention.  Stalwart and
portly; not a gray hair; broadbrimmed slouch hat; semi-sailor toggery of
blue navy flannel--roomy and ample; a stately expanse of shirt-front and
a liberal amount of black silk neck-cloth tied with a sailor knot; large
chain and imposing seals impending from his fob; awe-inspiring feet, and
“a hand like the hand of Providence,” as his whaling brethren expressed
it; wrist-bands and sleeves pushed back half way to the elbow, out of
respect for the warm weather, and exposing hairy arms, gaudy with red and
blue anchors, ships, and goddesses of liberty tattooed in India ink.
But these details were only secondary matters--his face was the lodestone
that chained the eye.  It was a sultry disk, glowing determinedly out
through a weather beaten mask of mahogany, and studded with warts, seamed
with scars, “blazed” all over with unfailing fresh slips of the razor;
and with cheery eyes, under shaggy brows, contemplating the world from
over the back of a gnarled crag of a nose that loomed vast and lonely out
of the undulating immensity that spread away from its foundations.
At his heels frisked the darling of his bachelor estate, his terrier
“Fan,” a creature no larger than a squirrel.  The main part of his daily
life was occupied in looking after “Fan,” in a motherly way, and
doctoring her for a hundred ailments which existed only in his

The Admiral seldom read newspapers; and when he did he never believed
anything they said.  He read nothing, and believed in nothing, but “The
Old Guard,” a secession periodical published in New York.  He carried a
dozen copies of it with him, always, and referred to them for all
required information.  If it was not there, he supplied it himself, out
of a bountiful fancy, inventing history, names, dates, and every thing
else necessary to make his point good in an argument.  Consequently he
was a formidable antagonist in a dispute.  Whenever he swung clear of the
record and began to create history, the enemy was helpless and had to
surrender.  Indeed, the enemy could not keep from betraying some little
spark of indignation at his manufactured history--and when it came to
indignation, that was the Admiral's very “best hold.”  He was always
ready for a political argument, and if nobody started one he would do it
himself.  With his third retort his temper would begin to rise, and
within five minutes he would be blowing a gale, and within fifteen his
smoking-room audience would be utterly stormed away and the old man left
solitary and alone, banging the table with his fist, kicking the chairs,
and roaring a hurricane of profanity.  It got so, after a while, that
whenever the Admiral approached, with politics in his eye, the passengers
would drop out with quiet accord, afraid to meet him; and he would camp
on a deserted field.

But he found his match at last, and before a full company.  At one time
or another, everybody had entered the lists against him and been routed,
except the quiet passenger Williams.  He had never been able to get an
expression of opinion out of him on politics.  But now, just as the
Admiral drew near the door and the company were about to slip out,
Williams said:

“Admiral, are you certain about that circumstance concerning the
clergymen you mentioned the other day?”--referring to a piece of the
Admiral's manufactured history.

Every one was amazed at the man's rashness.  The idea of deliberately
inviting annihilation was a thing incomprehensible.  The retreat came to
a halt; then everybody sat down again wondering, to await the upshot of
it.  The Admiral himself was as surprised as any one.  He paused in the
door, with his red handkerchief half raised to his sweating face, and
contemplated the daring reptile in the corner.

“Certain of it?  Am I certain of it?  Do you think I've been lying about
it?  What do you take me for?  Anybody that don't know that circumstance,
don't know anything; a child ought to know it.  Read up your history!
Read it up-----, and don't come asking a man if he's certain about a bit
of ABC stuff that the very southern niggers know all about.”

Here the Admiral's fires began to wax hot, the atmosphere thickened, the
coming earthquake rumbled, he began to thunder and lighten.  Within three
minutes his volcano was in full irruption and he was discharging flames
and ashes of indignation, belching black volumes of foul history aloft,
and vomiting red-hot torrents of profanity from his crater.  Meantime
Williams sat silent, and apparently deeply and earnestly interested in
what the old man was saying.  By and by, when the lull came, he said in
the most deferential way, and with the gratified air of a man who has had
a mystery cleared up which had been puzzling him uncomfortably:

“Now I understand it.  I always thought I knew that piece of history well
enough, but was still afraid to trust it, because there was not that
convincing particularity about it that one likes to have in history; but
when you mentioned every name, the other day, and every date, and every
little circumstance, in their just order and sequence, I said to myself,
this sounds something like--this is history--this is putting it in a
shape that gives a man confidence; and I said to myself afterward, I will
just ask the Admiral if he is perfectly certain about the details, and if
he is I will come out and thank him for clearing this matter up for me.
And that is what I want to do now--for until you set that matter right it
was nothing but just a confusion in my mind, without head or tail to it.”

Nobody ever saw the Admiral look so mollified before, and so pleased.
Nobody had ever received his bogus history as gospel before; its
genuineness had always been called in question either by words or looks;
but here was a man that not only swallowed it all down, but was grateful
for the dose.  He was taken a back; he hardly knew what to say; even his
profanity failed him.  Now, Williams continued, modestly and earnestly:

“But Admiral, in saying that this was the first stone thrown, and that
this precipitated the war, you have overlooked a circumstance which you
are perfectly familiar with, but which has escaped your memory.  Now I
grant you that what you have stated is correct in every detail--to wit:
that on the 16th of October, 1860, two Massachusetts clergymen, named
Waite and Granger, went in disguise to the house of John Moody, in
Rockport, at dead of night, and dragged forth two southern women and
their two little children, and after tarring and feathering them conveyed
them to Boston and burned them alive in the State House square; and I
also grant your proposition that this deed is what led to the secession
of South Carolina on the 20th of December following.  Very well.”  [Here
the company were pleasantly surprised to hear Williams proceed to come
back at the Admiral with his own invincible weapon--clean, pure,
manufactured history, without a word of truth in it.]  “Very well, I say.
But Admiral, why overlook the Willis and Morgan case in South Carolina?
You are too well informed a man not to know all about that circumstance.
Your arguments and your conversations have shown you to be intimately
conversant with every detail of this national quarrel.  You develop
matters of history every day that show plainly that you are no smatterer
in it, content to nibble about the surface, but a man who has searched
the depths and possessed yourself of everything that has a bearing upon
the great question.  Therefore, let me just recall to your mind that
Willis and Morgan case--though I see by your face that the whole thing is
already passing through your memory at this moment.  On the 12th of
August, 1860, two months before the Waite and Granger affair, two South
Carolina clergymen, named John H. Morgan and Winthrop L.  Willis, one a
Methodist and the other an Old School Baptist, disguised themselves, and
went at midnight to the house of a planter named Thompson--Archibald F.
Thompson, Vice President under Thomas Jefferson,--and took thence, at
midnight, his widowed aunt, (a Northern woman,) and her adopted child, an
orphan--named Mortimer Highie, afflicted with epilepsy and suffering at
the time from white swelling on one of his legs, and compelled to walk on
crutches in consequence; and the two ministers, in spite of the pleadings
of the victims, dragged them to the bush, tarred and feathered them, and
afterward burned them at the stake in the city of Charleston.  You
remember perfectly well what a stir it made; you remember perfectly well
that even the Charleston Courier stigmatized the act as being unpleasant,
of questionable propriety, and scarcely justifiable, and likewise that it
would not be matter of surprise if retaliation ensued.  And you remember
also, that this thing was the cause of the Massachusetts outrage.  Who,
indeed, were the two Massachusetts ministers?  and who were the two
Southern women they burned?  I do not need to remind you, Admiral, with
your intimate knowledge of history, that Waite was the nephew of the
woman burned in Charleston; that Granger was her cousin in the second
degree, and that the woman they burned in Boston was the wife of John H.
Morgan, and the still loved but divorced wife of Winthrop L. Willis.
Now, Admiral, it is only fair that you should acknowledge that the first
provocation came from the Southern preachers and that the Northern ones
were justified in retaliating.  In your arguments you never yet have
shown the least disposition to withhold a just verdict or be in anywise
unfair, when authoritative history condemned your position, and therefore
I have no hesitation in asking you to take the original blame from the
Massachusetts ministers, in this matter, and transfer it to the South
Carolina clergymen where it justly belongs.”

The Admiral was conquered.  This sweet spoken creature who swallowed his
fraudulent history as if it were the bread of life; basked in his furious
blasphemy as if it were generous sunshine; found only calm, even-handed
justice in his rampart partisanship; and flooded him with invented
history so sugarcoated with flattery and deference that there was no
rejecting it, was “too many” for him.  He stammered some awkward, profane
sentences about the-----Willis and Morgan business having escaped his
memory, but that he “remembered it now,” and then, under pretence of
giving Fan some medicine for an imaginary cough, drew out of the battle
and went away, a vanquished man.  Then cheers and laughter went up, and
Williams, the ship's benefactor was a hero.  The news went about the
vessel, champagne was ordered, and enthusiastic reception instituted in
the smoking room, and everybody flocked thither to shake hands with the
conqueror.  The wheelman said afterward, that the Admiral stood up behind
the pilot house and “ripped and cursed all to himself” till he loosened
the smokestack guys and becalmed the mainsail.

The Admiral's power was broken.  After that, if he began argument,
somebody would bring Williams, and the old man would grow weak and begin
to quiet down at once.  And as soon as he was done, Williams in his
dulcet, insinuating way, would invent some history (referring for proof,
to the old man's own excellent memory and to copies of “The Old Guard”
 known not to be in his possession) that would turn the tables completely
and leave the Admiral all abroad and helpless.  By and by he came to so
dread Williams and his gilded tongue that he would stop talking when he
saw him approach, and finally ceased to mention politics altogether, and
from that time forward there was entire peace and serenity in the ship.


On a certain bright morning the Islands hove in sight, lying low on the
lonely sea, and everybody climbed to the upper deck to look.  After two
thousand miles of watery solitude the vision was a welcome one.  As we
approached, the imposing promontory of Diamond Head rose up out of the
ocean its rugged front softened by the hazy distance, and presently the
details of the land began to make themselves manifest: first the line of
beach; then the plumed coacoanut trees of the tropics; then cabins of the
natives; then the white town of Honolulu, said to contain between twelve
and fifteen thousand inhabitants spread over a dead level; with streets
from twenty to thirty feet wide, solid and level as a floor, most of them
straight as a line and few as crooked as a corkscrew.

The further I traveled through the town the better I liked it.
Every step revealed a new contrast--disclosed something I was
unaccustomed to. In place of the grand mud-colored brown fronts of
San Francisco, I saw dwellings built of straw, adobies, and cream-colored
pebble-and-shell-conglomerated coral, cut into oblong blocks and laid in
cement; also a great number of neat white cottages, with green
window-shutters; in place of front yards like billiard-tables with iron
fences around them, I saw these homes surrounded by ample yards, thickly
clad with green grass, and shaded by tall trees, through whose dense
foliage the sun could scarcely penetrate; in place of the customary
geranium, calla lily, etc., languishing in dust and general debility, I
saw luxurious banks and thickets of flowers, fresh as a meadow after a
rain, and glowing with the richest dyes; in place of the dingy horrors of
San Francisco's pleasure grove, the “Willows,” I saw huge-bodied,
wide-spreading forest trees, with strange names and stranger appearance
--trees that cast a shadow like a thunder-cloud, and were able to stand
alone without being tied to green poles; in place of gold fish, wiggling
around in glass globes, assuming countless shades and degrees of
distortion through the magnifying and diminishing qualities of their
transparent prison houses, I saw cats--Tom-cats, Mary Ann cats,
long-tailed cats, bob-tailed cats, blind cats, one-eyed cats, wall-eyed
cats, cross-eyed cats, gray cats, black cats, white cats, yellow cats,
striped cats, spotted cats, tame cats, wild cats, singed cats, individual
cats, groups of cats, platoons of cats, companies of cats, regiments of
cats, armies of cats, multitudes of cats, millions of cats, and all of
them sleek, fat, lazy and sound asleep. I looked on a multitude of
people, some white, in white coats, vests, pantaloons, even white cloth
shoes, made snowy with chalk duly laid on every morning; but the majority
of the people were almost as dark as negroes--women with comely features,
fine black eyes, rounded forms, inclining to the voluptuous, clad in a
single bright red or white garment that fell free and unconfined from
shoulder to heel, long black hair falling loose, gypsy hats, encircled
with wreaths of natural flowers of a brilliant carmine tint; plenty of
dark men in various costumes, and some with nothing on but a battered
stove-pipe hat tilted on the nose, and a very scant breech-clout;
--certain smoke-dried children were clothed in nothing but sunshine
--a very neat fitting and picturesque apparel indeed.

In place of roughs and rowdies staring and blackguarding on the corners,
I saw long-haired, saddle-colored Sandwich Island maidens sitting on the
ground in the shade of corner houses, gazing indolently at whatever or
whoever happened along; instead of wretched cobble-stone pavements, I
walked on a firm foundation of coral, built up from the bottom of the sea
by the absurd but persevering insect of that name, with a light layer of
lava and cinders overlying the coral, belched up out of fathomless
perdition long ago through the seared and blackened crater that stands
dead and harmless in the distance now; instead of cramped and crowded
street-cars, I met dusky native women sweeping by, free as the wind, on
fleet horses and astride, with gaudy riding-sashes, streaming like
banners behind them; instead of the combined stenches of Chinadom and
Brannan street slaughter-houses, I breathed the balmy fragrance of
jessamine, oleander, and the Pride of India; in place of the hurry and
bustle and noisy confusion of San Francisco, I moved in the midst of a
Summer calm as tranquil as dawn in the Garden of Eden; in place of the
Golden City's skirting sand hills and the placid bay, I saw on the one
side a frame-work of tall, precipitous mountains close at hand, clad in
refreshing green, and cleft by deep, cool, chasm-like valleys--and in
front the grand sweep of the ocean; a brilliant, transparent green near
the shore, bound and bordered by a long white line of foamy spray dashing
against the reef, and further out the dead blue water of the deep sea,
flecked with “white caps,” and in the far horizon a single, lonely sail
--a mere accent-mark to emphasize a slumberous calm and a solitude that
were without sound or limit.  When the sun sunk down--the one intruder
from other realms and persistent in suggestions of them--it was tranced
luxury to sit in the perfumed air and forget that there was any world but
these enchanted islands.

It was such ecstacy to dream, and dream--till you got a bite.

A scorpion bite.  Then the first duty was to get up out of the grass and
kill the scorpion; and the next to bathe the bitten place with alcohol or
brandy; and the next to resolve to keep out of the grass in future.  Then
came an adjournment to the bed-chamber and the pastime of writing up the
day's journal with one hand and the destruction of mosquitoes with the
other--a whole community of them at a slap.  Then, observing an enemy
approaching,--a hairy tarantula on stilts--why not set the spittoon on
him?  It is done, and the projecting ends of his paws give a luminous
idea of the magnitude of his reach.  Then to bed and become a promenade
for a centipede with forty-two legs on a side and every foot hot enough
to burn a hole through a raw-hide.  More soaking with alcohol, and a
resolution to examine the bed before entering it, in future.  Then wait,
and suffer, till all the mosquitoes in the neighborhood have crawled in
under the bar, then slip out quickly, shut them in and sleep peacefully
on the floor till morning.  Meantime it is comforting to curse the
tropics in occasional wakeful intervals.

We had an abundance of fruit in Honolulu, of course.  Oranges,
pine-apples, bananas, strawberries, lemons, limes, mangoes, guavas,
melons, and a rare and curious luxury called the chirimoya, which is
deliciousness itself.  Then there is the tamarind.  I thought tamarinds
were made to eat, but that was probably not the idea.  I ate several, and
it seemed to me that they were rather sour that year.  They pursed up my
lips, till they resembled the stem-end of a tomato, and I had to take my
sustenance through a quill for twenty-four hours.

They sharpened my teeth till I could have shaved with them, and gave them
a “wire edge” that I was afraid would stay; but a citizen said “no, it
will come off when the enamel does”--which was comforting, at any rate.
I found, afterward, that only strangers eat tamarinds--but they only eat
them once.


In my diary of our third day in Honolulu, I find this:

I am probably the most sensitive man in Hawaii to-night--especially about
sitting down in the presence of my betters.  I have ridden fifteen or
twenty miles on horse-back since 5 P.M.  and to tell the honest truth, I
have a delicacy about sitting down at all.

An excursion to Diamond Head and the King's Coacoanut Grove was planned
to-day--time, 4:30 P.M.--the party to consist of half a dozen gentlemen
and three ladies.  They all started at the appointed hour except myself.
I was at the Government prison, (with Captain Fish and another
whaleship-skipper, Captain Phillips,) and got so interested in its
examination that I did not notice how quickly the time was passing.
Somebody remarked that it was twenty minutes past five o'clock, and that
woke me up.  It was a fortunate circumstance that Captain Phillips was
along with his “turn out,” as he calls a top-buggy that Captain Cook
brought here in 1778, and a horse that was here when Captain Cook came.
Captain Phillips takes a just pride in his driving and in the speed of
his horse, and to his passion for displaying them I owe it that we were
only sixteen minutes coming from the prison to the American Hotel--a
distance which has been estimated to be over half a mile.  But it took
some fearful driving.  The Captain's whip came down fast, and the blows
started so much dust out of the horse's hide that during the last half of
the journey we rode through an impenetrable fog, and ran by a pocket
compass in the hands of Captain Fish, a whaler of twenty-six years
experience, who sat there through the perilous voyage as self-possessed
as if he had been on the euchre-deck of his own ship, and calmly said,
“Port your helm--port,” from time to time, and “Hold her a little free
--steady--so--so,” and “Luff--hard down to starboard!” and never once
lost his presence of mind or betrayed the least anxiety by voice or
manner. When we came to anchor at last, and Captain Phillips looked at
his watch and said, “Sixteen minutes--I told you it was in her!  that's
over three miles an hour!” I could see he felt entitled to a compliment,
and so I said I had never seen lightning go like that horse.  And I never

The landlord of the American said the party had been gone nearly an hour,
but that he could give me my choice of several horses that could overtake
them.  I said, never mind--I preferred a safe horse to a fast one--I
would like to have an excessively gentle horse--a horse with no spirit
whatever--a lame one, if he had such a thing.  Inside of five minutes I
was mounted, and perfectly satisfied with my outfit.  I had no time to
label him “This is a horse,” and so if the public took him for a sheep I
cannot help it.  I was satisfied, and that was the main thing.  I could
see that he had as many fine points as any man's horse, and so I hung my
hat on one of them, behind the saddle, and swabbed the perspiration from
my face and started.  I named him after this island, “Oahu” (pronounced
O-waw-hee).  The first gate he came to he started in; I had neither whip
nor spur, and so I simply argued the case with him.  He resisted
argument, but ultimately yielded to insult and abuse.  He backed out of
that gate and steered for another one on the other side of the street.
I triumphed by my former process.  Within the next six hundred yards he
crossed the street fourteen times and attempted thirteen gates, and in
the meantime the tropical sun was beating down and threatening to cave
the top of my head in, and I was literally dripping with perspiration.
He abandoned the gate business after that and went along peaceably
enough, but absorbed in meditation.  I noticed this latter circumstance,
and it soon began to fill me with apprehension.  I said to my self, this
creature is planning some new outrage, some fresh deviltry or other--no
horse ever thought over a subject so profoundly as this one is doing just
for nothing.  The more this thing preyed upon my mind the more uneasy I
became, until the suspense became almost unbearable and I dismounted to
see if there was anything wild in his eye--for I had heard that the eye
of this noblest of our domestic animals is very expressive.

I cannot describe what a load of anxiety was lifted from my mind when I
found that he was only asleep.  I woke him up and started him into a
faster walk, and then the villainy of his nature came out again.  He
tried to climb over a stone wall, five or six feet high.  I saw that I
must apply force to this horse, and that I might as well begin first as
last.  I plucked a stout switch from a tamarind tree, and the moment he
saw it, he surrendered.  He broke into a convulsive sort of a canter,
which had three short steps in it and one long one, and reminded me
alternately of the clattering shake of the great earthquake, and the
sweeping plunging of the Ajax in a storm.

And now there can be no fitter occasion than the present to pronounce a
left-handed blessing upon the man who invented the American saddle.
There is no seat to speak of about it--one might as well sit in a shovel
--and the stirrups are nothing but an ornamental nuisance.  If I were to
write down here all the abuse I expended on those stirrups, it would make
a large book, even without pictures.  Sometimes I got one foot so far
through, that the stirrup partook of the nature of an anklet; sometimes
both feet were through, and I was handcuffed by the legs; and sometimes
my feet got clear out and left the stirrups wildly dangling about my
shins.  Even when I was in proper position and carefully balanced upon
the balls of my feet, there was no comfort in it, on account of my
nervous dread that they were going to slip one way or the other in a
moment.  But the subject is too exasperating to write about.

A mile and a half from town, I came to a grove of tall cocoanut trees,
with clean, branchless stems reaching straight up sixty or seventy feet
and topped with a spray of green foliage sheltering clusters of
cocoa-nuts--not more picturesque than a forest of collossal ragged
parasols, with bunches of magnified grapes under them, would be.

I once heard a gouty northern invalid say that a cocoanut tree might be
poetical, possibly it was; but it looked like a feather-duster struck by
lightning.  I think that describes it better than a picture--and yet,
without any question, there is something fascinating about a cocoa-nut
tree--and graceful, too.

About a dozen cottages, some frame and the others of native grass,
nestled sleepily in the shade here and there.  The grass cabins are of a
grayish color, are shaped much like our own cottages, only with higher
and steeper roofs usually, and are made of some kind of weed strongly
bound together in bundles.  The roofs are very thick, and so are the
walls; the latter have square holes in them for windows.  At a little
distance these cabins have a furry appearance, as if they might be made
of bear skins.  They are very cool and pleasant inside.  The King's flag
was flying from the roof of one of the cottages, and His Majesty was
probably within.  He owns the whole concern thereabouts, and passes his
time there frequently, on sultry days “laying off.”  The spot is called
“The King's Grove.”

Near by is an interesting ruin--the meagre remains of an ancient heathen
temple--a place where human sacrifices were offered up in those old
bygone days when the simple child of nature, yielding momentarily to sin
when sorely tempted, acknowledged his error when calm reflection had
shown it him, and came forward with noble frankness and offered up his
grandmother as an atoning sacrifice--in those old days when the luckless
sinner could keep on cleansing his conscience and achieving periodical
happiness as long as his relations held out; long, long before the
missionaries braved a thousand privations to come and make them
permanently miserable by telling them how beautiful and how blissful a
place heaven is, and how nearly impossible it is to get there; and showed
the poor native how dreary a place perdition is and what unnecessarily
liberal facilities there are for going to it; showed him how, in his
ignorance he had gone and fooled away all his kinfolks to no purpose;
showed him what rapture it is to work all day long for fifty cents to buy
food for next day with, as compared with fishing for pastime and lolling
in the shade through eternal Summer, and eating of the bounty that nobody
labored to provide but Nature.  How sad it is to think of the multitudes
who have gone to their graves in this beautiful island and never knew
there was a hell!

This ancient temple was built of rough blocks of lava, and was simply a
roofless inclosure a hundred and thirty feet long and seventy wide
--nothing but naked walls, very thick, but not much higher than a man's
head.  They will last for ages no doubt, if left unmolested.  Its three
altars and other sacred appurtenances have crumbled and passed away years
ago.  It is said that in the old times thousands of human beings were
slaughtered here, in the presence of naked and howling savages.  If these
mute stones could speak, what tales they could tell, what pictures they
could describe, of fettered victims writhing under the knife; of massed
forms straining forward out of the gloom, with ferocious faces lit up by
the sacrificial fires; of the background of ghostly trees; of the dark
pyramid of Diamond Head standing sentinel over the uncanny scene, and the
peaceful moon looking down upon it through rifts in the cloud-rack!

When Kamehameha (pronounced Ka-may-ha-may-ah) the Great--who was a sort
of a Napoleon in military genius and uniform success--invaded this island
of Oahu three quarters of a century ago, and exterminated the army sent
to oppose him, and took full and final possession of the country, he
searched out the dead body of the King of Oahu, and those of the
principal chiefs, and impaled their heads on the walls of this temple.

Those were savage times when this old slaughter-house was in its prime.
The King and the chiefs ruled the common herd with a rod of iron; made
them gather all the provisions the masters needed; build all the houses
and temples; stand all the expenses, of whatever kind; take kicks and
cuffs for thanks; drag out lives well flavored with misery, and then
suffer death for trifling offences or yield up their lives on the
sacrificial altars to purchase favors from the gods for their hard
rulers.  The missionaries have clothed them, educated them, broken up the
tyrannous authority of their chiefs, and given them freedom and the right
to enjoy whatever their hands and brains produce with equal laws for all,
and punishment for all alike who transgress them.  The contrast is so
strong--the benefit conferred upon this people by the missionaries is so
prominent, so palpable and so unquestionable, that the frankest
compliment I can pay them, and the best, is simply to point to the
condition of the Sandwich Islanders of Captain Cook's time, and their
condition to-day.

Their work speaks for itself.


By and by, after a rugged climb, we halted on the summit of a hill which
commanded a far-reaching view.  The moon rose and flooded mountain and
valley and ocean with a mellow radiance, and out of the shadows of the
foliage the distant lights of Honolulu glinted like an encampment of
fireflies.  The air was heavy with the fragrance of flowers.  The halt
was brief.--Gayly laughing and talking, the party galloped on, and I
clung to the pommel and cantered after.  Presently we came to a place
where no grass grew--a wide expanse of deep sand.  They said it was an
old battle ground.  All around everywhere, not three feet apart, the
bleached bones of men gleamed white in the moonlight.  We picked up a lot
of them for mementoes.  I got quite a number of arm bones and leg bones
--of great chiefs, may be, who had fought savagely in that fearful battle
in the old days, when blood flowed like wine where we now stood--and wore
the choicest of them out on Oahu afterward, trying to make him go.  All
sorts of bones could be found except skulls; but a citizen said,
irreverently, that there had been an unusual number of “skull-hunters”
 there lately--a species of sportsmen I had never heard of before.

Nothing whatever is known about this place--its story is a secret that
will never be revealed.  The oldest natives make no pretense of being
possessed of its history.  They say these bones were here when they were
children.  They were here when their grandfathers were children--but how
they came here, they can only conjecture.  Many people believe this spot
to be an ancient battle-ground, and it is usual to call it so; and they
believe that these skeletons have lain for ages just where their
proprietors fell in the great fight.  Other people believe that
Kamehameha I.  fought his first battle here.  On this point, I have heard
a story, which may have been taken from one of the numerous books which
have been written concerning these islands--I do not know where the
narrator got it.  He said that when Kamehameha (who was at first merely a
subordinate chief on the island of Hawaii), landed here, he brought a
large army with him, and encamped at Waikiki.  The Oahuans marched
against him, and so confident were they of success that they readily
acceded to a demand of their priests that they should draw a line where
these bones now lie, and take an oath that, if forced to retreat at all,
they would never retreat beyond this boundary.  The priests told them
that death and everlasting punishment would overtake any who violated the
oath, and the march was resumed.  Kamehameha drove them back step by
step; the priests fought in the front rank and exhorted them both by
voice and inspiriting example to remember their oath--to die, if need be,
but never cross the fatal line.  The struggle was manfully maintained,
but at last the chief priest fell, pierced to the heart with a spear, and
the unlucky omen fell like a blight upon the brave souls at his back;
with a triumphant shout the invaders pressed forward--the line was
crossed--the offended gods deserted the despairing army, and, accepting
the doom their perjury had brought upon them, they broke and fled over
the plain where Honolulu stands now--up the beautiful Nuuanu Valley
--paused a moment, hemmed in by precipitous mountains on either hand and
the frightful precipice of the Pari in front, and then were driven over
--a sheer plunge of six hundred feet!

The story is pretty enough, but Mr. Jarves' excellent history says the
Oahuans were intrenched in Nuuanu Valley; that Kamehameha ousted them,
routed them, pursued them up the valley and drove them over the
precipice.  He makes no mention of our bone-yard at all in his book.

Impressed by the profound silence and repose that rested over the
beautiful landscape, and being, as usual, in the rear, I gave voice to my
thoughts.  I said:

“What a picture is here slumbering in the solemn glory of the moon!  How
strong the rugged outlines of the dead volcano stand out against the
clear sky!  What a snowy fringe marks the bursting of the surf over the
long, curved reef!  How calmly the dim city sleeps yonder in the plain!
How soft the shadows lie upon the stately mountains that border the
dream-haunted Mauoa Valley!  What a grand pyramid of billowy clouds
towers above the storied Pari!  How the grim warriors of the past seem
flocking in ghostly squadrons to their ancient battlefield again--how the
wails of the dying well up from the--”

At this point the horse called Oahu sat down in the sand.  Sat down to
listen, I suppose.  Never mind what he heard, I stopped apostrophising
and convinced him that I was not a man to allow contempt of Court on the
part of a horse.  I broke the back-bone of a Chief over his rump and set
out to join the cavalcade again.

Very considerably fagged out we arrived in town at 9 o'clock at night,
myself in the lead--for when my horse finally came to understand that he
was homeward bound and hadn't far to go, he turned his attention strictly
to business.

This is a good time to drop in a paragraph of information.  There is no
regular livery stable in Honolulu, or, indeed, in any part of the Kingdom
of Hawaii; therefore unless you are acquainted with wealthy residents
(who all have good horses), you must hire animals of the wretchedest
description from the Kanakas.  (i.e.  natives.) Any horse you hire, even
though it be from a white man, is not often of much account, because it
will be brought in for you from some ranch, and has necessarily been
leading a hard life.  If the Kanakas who have been caring for him
(inveterate riders they are) have not ridden him half to death every day
themselves, you can depend upon it they have been doing the same thing by
proxy, by clandestinely hiring him out.  At least, so I am informed.  The
result is, that no horse has a chance to eat, drink, rest, recuperate, or
look well or feel well, and so strangers go about the Islands mounted as
I was to-day.

In hiring a horse from a Kanaka, you must have all your eyes about you,
because you can rest satisfied that you are dealing with a shrewd
unprincipled rascal.  You may leave your door open and your trunk
unlocked as long as you please, and he will not meddle with your
property; he has no important vices and no inclination to commit robbery
on a large scale; but if he can get ahead of you in the horse business,
he will take a genuine delight in doing it.  This traits is
characteristic of horse jockeys, the world over, is it not?  He will
overcharge you if he can; he will hire you a fine-looking horse at night
(anybody's--may be the King's, if the royal steed be in convenient view),
and bring you the mate to my Oahu in the morning, and contend that it is
the same animal.  If you make trouble, he will get out by saying it was
not himself who made the bargain with you, but his brother, “who went out
in the country this morning.”  They have always got a “brother” to shift
the responsibility upon.  A victim said to one of these fellows one day:

“But I know I hired the horse of you, because I noticed that scar on your

The reply was not bad: “Oh, yes--yes--my brother all same--we twins!”

A friend of mine, J.  Smith, hired a horse yesterday, the Kanaka
warranting him to be in excellent condition.

Smith had a saddle and blanket of his own, and he ordered the Kanaka to
put these on the horse.  The Kanaka protested that he was perfectly
willing to trust the gentleman with the saddle that was already on the
animal, but Smith refused to use it.  The change was made; then Smith
noticed that the Kanaka had only changed the saddles, and had left the
original blanket on the horse; he said he forgot to change the blankets,
and so, to cut the bother short, Smith mounted and rode away.  The horse
went lame a mile from town, and afterward got to cutting up some
extraordinary capers.  Smith got down and took off the saddle, but the
blanket stuck fast to the horse--glued to a procession of raw places.
The Kanaka's mysterious conduct stood explained.

Another friend of mine bought a pretty good horse from a native, a day or
two ago, after a tolerably thorough examination of the animal.  He
discovered today that the horse was as blind as a bat, in one eye.  He
meant to have examined that eye, and came home with a general notion that
he had done it; but he remembers now that every time he made the attempt
his attention was called to something else by his victimizer.

One more instance, and then I will pass to something else.  I am informed
that when a certain Mr. L., a visiting stranger, was here, he bought a
pair of very respectable-looking match horses from a native.  They were
in a little stable with a partition through the middle of it--one horse
in each apartment.  Mr. L.  examined one of them critically through a
window (the Kanaka's “brother” having gone to the country with the key),
and then went around the house and examined the other through a window on
the other side.  He said it was the neatest match he had ever seen, and
paid for the horses on the spot.  Whereupon the Kanaka departed to join
his brother in the country.  The fellow had shamefully swindled L.  There
was only one “match” horse, and he had examined his starboard side
through one window and his port side through another!  I decline to
believe this story, but I give it because it is worth something as a
fanciful illustration of a fixed fact--namely, that the Kanaka
horse-jockey is fertile in invention and elastic in conscience.

You can buy a pretty good horse for forty or fifty dollars, and a good
enough horse for all practical purposes for two dollars and a half.  I
estimate “Oahu” to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty-five
cents.  A good deal better animal than he is was sold here day before
yesterday for a dollar and seventy-five cents, and sold again to-day for
two dollars and twenty-five cents; Williams bought a handsome and lively
little pony yesterday for ten dollars; and about the best common horse on
the island (and he is a really good one) sold yesterday, with Mexican
saddle and bridle, for seventy dollars--a horse which is well and widely
known, and greatly respected for his speed, good disposition and
everlasting bottom.

You give your horse a little grain once a day; it comes from San
Francisco, and is worth about two cents a pound; and you give him as much
hay as he wants; it is cut and brought to the market by natives, and is
not very good it is baled into long, round bundles, about the size of a
large man; one of them is stuck by the middle on each end of a six foot
pole, and the Kanaka shoulders the pole and walks about the streets
between the upright bales in search of customers.  These hay bales, thus
carried, have a general resemblance to a colossal capital 'H.'

The hay-bundles cost twenty-five cents apiece, and one will last a horse
about a day.  You can get a horse for a song, a week's hay for another
song, and you can turn your animal loose among the luxuriant grass in
your neighbor's broad front yard without a song at all--you do it at
midnight, and stable the beast again before morning.  You have been at no
expense thus far, but when you come to buy a saddle and bridle they will
cost you from twenty to thirty-five dollars.  You can hire a horse,
saddle and bridle at from seven to ten dollars a week, and the owner will
take care of them at his own expense.

It is time to close this day's record--bed time.  As I prepare for sleep,
a rich voice rises out of the still night, and, far as this ocean rock is
toward the ends of the earth, I recognize a familiar home air.  But the
words seem somewhat out of joint:

“Waikiki lantoni oe Kaa hooly hooly wawhoo.”

Translated, that means “When we were marching through Georgia.”


Passing through the market place we saw that feature of Honolulu under
its most favorable auspices--that is, in the full glory of Saturday
afternoon, which is a festive day with the natives.  The native girls by
twos and threes and parties of a dozen, and sometimes in whole platoons
and companies, went cantering up and down the neighboring streets astride
of fleet but homely horses, and with their gaudy riding habits streaming
like banners behind them.  Such a troop of free and easy riders, in their
natural home, the saddle, makes a gay and graceful spectacle.  The riding
habit I speak of is simply a long, broad scarf, like a tavern table cloth
brilliantly colored, wrapped around the loins once, then apparently
passed between the limbs and each end thrown backward over the same, and
floating and flapping behind on both sides beyond the horse's tail like a
couple of fancy flags; then, slipping the stirrup-irons between her toes,
the girl throws her chest for ward, sits up like a Major General and goes
sweeping by like the wind.

The girls put on all the finery they can on Saturday afternoon--fine
black silk robes; flowing red ones that nearly put your eyes out; others
as white as snow; still others that discount the rainbow; and they wear
their hair in nets, and trim their jaunty hats with fresh flowers, and
encircle their dusky throats with home-made necklaces of the brilliant
vermillion-tinted blossom of the ohia; and they fill the markets and the
adjacent street with their bright presences, and smell like a rag factory
on fire with their offensive cocoanut oil.

Occasionally you see a heathen from the sunny isles away down in the
South Seas, with his face and neck tatooed till he looks like the
customary mendicant from Washoe who has been blown up in a mine.  Some
are tattooed a dead blue color down to the upper lip--masked, as it were
--leaving the natural light yellow skin of Micronesia unstained from
thence down; some with broad marks drawn down from hair to neck, on both
sides of the face, and a strip of the original yellow skin, two inches
wide, down the center--a gridiron with a spoke broken out; and some with
the entire face discolored with the popular mortification tint, relieved
only by one or two thin, wavy threads of natural yellow running across
the face from ear to ear, and eyes twinkling out of this darkness, from
under shadowing hat-brims, like stars in the dark of the moon.

Moving among the stirring crowds, you come to the poi merchants,
squatting in the shade on their hams, in true native fashion, and
surrounded by purchasers.  (The Sandwich Islanders always squat on their
hams, and who knows but they may be the old original “ham sandwiches?”
 The thought is pregnant with interest.) The poi looks like common flour
paste, and is kept in large bowls formed of a species of gourd, and
capable of holding from one to three or four gallons.  Poi is the chief
article of food among the natives, and is prepared from the taro plant.

The taro root looks like a thick, or, if you please, a corpulent sweet
potato, in shape, but is of a light purple color when boiled.  When
boiled it answers as a passable substitute for bread.  The buck Kanakas
bake it under ground, then mash it up well with a heavy lava pestle, mix
water with it until it becomes a paste, set it aside and let if ferment,
and then it is poi--and an unseductive mixture it is, almost tasteless
before it ferments and too sour for a luxury afterward.  But nothing is
more nutritious.  When solely used, however, it produces acrid humors, a
fact which sufficiently accounts for the humorous character of the
Kanakas.  I think there must be as much of a knack in handling poi as
there is in eating with chopsticks.  The forefinger is thrust into the
mess and stirred quickly round several times and drawn as quickly out,
thickly coated, just as it it were poulticed; the head is thrown back,
the finger inserted in the mouth and the delicacy stripped off and
swallowed--the eye closing gently, meanwhile, in a languid sort of
ecstasy.  Many a different finger goes into the same bowl and many a
different kind of dirt and shade and quality of flavor is added to the
virtues of its contents.

Around a small shanty was collected a crowd of natives buying the awa
root.  It is said that but for the use of this root the destruction of
the people in former times by certain imported diseases would have been
far greater than it was, and by others it is said that this is merely a
fancy.  All agree that poi will rejuvenate a man who is used up and his
vitality almost annihilated by hard drinking, and that in some kinds of
diseases it will restore health after all medicines have failed; but all
are not willing to allow to the awa the virtues claimed for it.  The
natives manufacture an intoxicating drink from it which is fearful in its
effects when persistently indulged in.  It covers the body with dry,
white scales, inflames the eyes, and causes premature decripitude.
Although the man before whose establishment we stopped has to pay a
Government license of eight hundred dollars a year for the exclusive
right to sell awa root, it is said that he makes a small fortune every
twelve-month; while saloon keepers, who pay a thousand dollars a year for
the privilege of retailing whiskey, etc., only make a bare living.

We found the fish market crowded; for the native is very fond of fish,
and eats the article raw and alive!  Let us change the subject.

In old times here Saturday was a grand gala day indeed.  All the native
population of the town forsook their labors, and those of the surrounding
country journeyed to the city.  Then the white folks had to stay indoors,
for every street was so packed with charging cavaliers and cavalieresses
that it was next to impossible to thread one's way through the cavalcades
without getting crippled.

At night they feasted and the girls danced the lascivious hula hula--a
dance that is said to exhibit the very perfection of educated notion of
limb and arm, hand, head and body, and the exactest uniformity of
movement and accuracy of “time.”  It was performed by a circle of girls
with no raiment on them to speak of, who went through an infinite variety
of motions and figures without prompting, and yet so true was their
“time,” and in such perfect concert did they move that when they were
placed in a straight line, hands, arms, bodies, limbs and heads waved,
swayed, gesticulated, bowed, stooped, whirled, squirmed, twisted and
undulated as if they were part and parcel of a single individual; and it
was difficult to believe they were not moved in a body by some exquisite
piece of mechanism.

Of late years, however, Saturday has lost most of its quondam gala
features.  This weekly stampede of the natives interfered too much with
labor and the interests of the white folks, and by sticking in a law
here, and preaching a sermon there, and by various other means, they
gradually broke it up.  The demoralizing hula hula was forbidden to be
performed, save at night, with closed doors, in presence of few
spectators, and only by permission duly procured from the authorities and
the payment of ten dollars for the same.  There are few girls now-a-days
able to dance this ancient national dance in the highest perfection of
the art.

The missionaries have christianized and educated all the natives.  They
all belong to the Church, and there is not one of them, above the age of
eight years, but can read and write with facility in the native tongue.
It is the most universally educated race of people outside of China.
They have any quantity of books, printed in the Kanaka language, and all
the natives are fond of reading.  They are inveterate church-goers
--nothing can keep them away.  All this ameliorating cultivation has at
last built up in the native women a profound respect for chastity--in
other people.  Perhaps that is enough to say on that head.  The national
sin will die out when the race does, but perhaps not earlier.--But
doubtless this purifying is not far off, when we reflect that contact
with civilization and the whites has reduced the native population from
four hundred thousand (Captain Cook's estimate,) to fifty-five thousand
in something over eighty years!

Society is a queer medley in this notable missionary, whaling and
governmental centre.  If you get into conversation with a stranger and
experience that natural desire to know what sort of ground you are
treading on by finding out what manner of man your stranger is, strike
out boldly and address him as “Captain.”  Watch him narrowly, and if you
see by his countenance that you are on the wrong tack, ask him where he
preaches.  It is a safe bet that he is either a missionary or captain of
a whaler.  I am now personally acquainted with seventy-two captains and
ninety-six missionaries.  The captains and ministers form one-half of the
population; the third fourth is composed of common Kanakas and mercantile
foreigners and their families, and the final fourth is made up of high
officers of the Hawaiian Government.  And there are just about cats
enough for three apiece all around.

A solemn stranger met me in the suburbs the other day, and said:

“Good morning, your reverence.  Preach in the stone church yonder, no

“No, I don't.  I'm not a preacher.”

“Really, I beg your pardon, Captain.  I trust you had a good season.  How
much oil”--

“Oil?  What do you take me for?  I'm not a whaler.”

“Oh, I beg a thousand pardons, your Excellency.

“Major General in the household troops, no doubt?  Minister of the
Interior, likely?  Secretary of war?  First Gentleman of the Bed-chamber?
Commissioner of the Royal”--

“Stuff!  I'm no official.  I'm not connected in any way with the

“Bless my life!  Then, who the mischief are you?  what the mischief are
you?  and how the mischief did you get here, and where in thunder did you
come from?”

“I'm only a private personage--an unassuming stranger--lately arrived
from America.”

“No?  Not a missionary!  Not a whaler!  not a member of his Majesty's
Government!  not even Secretary of the Navy!  Ah, Heaven!  it is too
blissful to be true; alas, I do but dream.  And yet that noble, honest
countenance--those oblique, ingenuous eyes--that massive head, incapable
of--of--anything; your hand; give me your hand, bright waif.  Excuse
these tears.  For sixteen weary years I have yearned for a moment like
this, and”--

Here his feelings were too much for him, and he swooned away.  I pitied
this poor creature from the bottom of my heart.  I was deeply moved.  I
shed a few tears on him and kissed him for his mother.  I then took what
small change he had and “shoved”.


I still quote from my journal:

I found the national Legislature to consist of half a dozen white men and
some thirty or forty natives.  It was a dark assemblage.  The nobles and
Ministers (about a dozen of them altogether) occupied the extreme left of
the hall, with David Kalakaua (the King's Chamberlain) and Prince William
at the head.  The President of the Assembly, His Royal Highness M.
Kekuanaoa, [Kekuanaoa is not of the blood royal.  He derives his princely
rank from his wife, who was a daughter of Kamehameha the Great.  Under
other monarchies the male line takes precedence of the female in tracing
genealogies, but here the opposite is the case--the female line takes
precedence.  Their reason for this is exceedingly sensible, and I
recommend it to the aristocracy of Europe: They say it is easy to know
who a man's mother was, but, etc., etc.] and the Vice President (the
latter a white man,) sat in the pulpit, if I may so term it.
The President is the King's father.  He is an erect, strongly built,
massive featured, white-haired, tawny old gentleman of eighty years of
age or thereabouts.  He was simply but well dressed, in a blue cloth coat
and white vest, and white pantaloons, without spot, dust or blemish upon
them.  He bears himself with a calm, stately dignity, and is a man of
noble presence.  He was a young man and a distinguished warrior under
that terrific fighter, Kamehameha I., more than half a century ago.  A
knowledge of his career suggested some such thought as this: “This man,
naked as the day he was born, and war-club and spear in hand, has charged
at the head of a horde of savages against other hordes of savages more
than a generation and a half ago, and reveled in slaughter and carnage;
has worshipped wooden images on his devout knees; has seen hundreds of
his race offered up in heathen temples as sacrifices to wooden idols, at
a time when no missionary's foot had ever pressed this soil, and he had
never heard of the white man's God; has believed his enemy could secretly
pray him to death; has seen the day, in his childhood, when it was a
crime punishable by death for a man to eat with his wife, or for a
plebeian to let his shadow fall upon the King--and now look at him; an
educated Christian; neatly and handsomely dressed; a high-minded, elegant
gentleman; a traveler, in some degree, and one who has been the honored
guest of royalty in Europe; a man practiced in holding the reins of an
enlightened government, and well versed in the politics of his country
and in general, practical information.  Look at him, sitting there
presiding over the deliberations of a legislative body, among whom are
white men--a grave, dignified, statesmanlike personage, and as seemingly
natural and fitted to the place as if he had been born in it and had
never been out of it in his life time.  How the experiences of this old
man's eventful life shame the cheap inventions of romance!”

The christianizing of the natives has hardly even weakened some of their
barbarian superstitions, much less destroyed them.  I have just referred
to one of these.  It is still a popular belief that if your enemy can get
hold of any article belonging to you he can get down on his knees over it
and pray you to death.  Therefore many a native gives up and dies merely
because he imagines that some enemy is putting him through a course of
damaging prayer.  This praying an individual to death seems absurd enough
at a first glance, but then when we call to mind some of the pulpit
efforts of certain of our own ministers the thing looks plausible.

In former times, among the Islanders, not only a plurality of wives was
customary, but a plurality of husbands likewise.  Some native women of
noble rank had as many as six husbands.  A woman thus supplied did not
reside with all her husbands at once, but lived several months with each
in turn.  An understood sign hung at her door during these months.  When
the sign was taken down, it meant “NEXT.”

In those days woman was rigidly taught to “know her place.”  Her place
was to do all the work, take all the cuffs, provide all the food, and
content herself with what was left after her lord had finished his
dinner.  She was not only forbidden, by ancient law, and under penalty of
death, to eat with her husband or enter a canoe, but was debarred, under
the same penalty, from eating bananas, pine-apples, oranges and other
choice fruits at any time or in any place.  She had to confine herself
pretty strictly to “poi” and hard work.  These poor ignorant heathen seem
to have had a sort of groping idea of what came of woman eating fruit in
the garden of Eden, and they did not choose to take any more chances.
But the missionaries broke up this satisfactory arrangement of things.
They liberated woman and made her the equal of man.

The natives had a romantic fashion of burying some of their children
alive when the family became larger than necessary.  The missionaries
interfered in this matter too, and stopped it.

To this day the natives are able to lie down and die whenever they want
to, whether there is anything the matter with them or not.  If a Kanaka
takes a notion to die, that is the end of him; nobody can persuade him to
hold on; all the doctors in the world could not save him.

A luxury which they enjoy more than anything else, is a large funeral.
If a person wants to get rid of a troublesome native, it is only
necessary to promise him a fine funeral and name the hour and he will be
on hand to the minute--at least his remains will.

All the natives are Christians, now, but many of them still desert to the
Great Shark God for temporary succor in time of trouble.  An irruption of
the great volcano of Kilauea, or an earthquake, always brings a deal of
latent loyalty to the Great Shark God to the surface.  It is common
report that the King, educated, cultivated and refined Christian
gentleman as he undoubtedly is, still turns to the idols of his fathers
for help when disaster threatens.  A planter caught a shark, and one of
his christianized natives testified his emancipation from the thrall of
ancient superstition by assisting to dissect the shark after a fashion
forbidden by his abandoned creed.  But remorse shortly began to torture
him.  He grew moody and sought solitude; brooded over his sin, refused
food, and finally said he must die and ought to die, for he had sinned
against the Great Shark God and could never know peace any more.  He was
proof against persuasion and ridicule, and in the course of a day or two
took to his bed and died, although he showed no symptom of disease.
His young daughter followed his lead and suffered a like fate within the
week.  Superstition is ingrained in the native blood and bone and it is
only natural that it should crop out in time of distress.  Wherever one
goes in the Islands, he will find small piles of stones by the wayside,
covered with leafy offerings, placed there by the natives to appease evil
spirits or honor local deities belonging to the mythology of former days.

In the rural districts of any of the Islands, the traveler hourly comes
upon parties of dusky maidens bathing in the streams or in the sea
without any clothing on and exhibiting no very intemperate zeal in the
matter of hiding their nakedness.  When the missionaries first took up
their residence in Honolulu, the native women would pay their families
frequent friendly visits, day by day, not even clothed with a blush.
It was found a hard matter to convince them that this was rather
indelicate.  Finally the missionaries provided them with long, loose
calico robes, and that ended the difficulty--for the women would troop
through the town, stark naked, with their robes folded under their arms,
march to the missionary houses and then  proceed to dress!--The natives
soon manifested a strong proclivity for clothing, but it was shortly
apparent that they only wanted it for grandeur.  The missionaries
imported a quantity of hats, bonnets, and other male and female wearing
apparel, instituted a general distribution, and begged the people not to
come to church naked, next Sunday, as usual.  And they did not; but the
national spirit of unselfishness led them to divide up with neighbors who
were not at the distribution, and next Sabbath the poor preachers could
hardly keep countenance before their vast congregations.  In the midst of
the reading of a hymn a brown, stately dame would sweep up the aisle with
a world of airs, with nothing in the world on but a “stovepipe” hat and a
pair of cheap gloves; another dame would follow, tricked out in a man's
shirt, and nothing else; another one would enter with a flourish, with
simply the sleeves of a bright calico dress tied around her waist and the
rest of the garment dragging behind like a peacock's tail off duty; a
stately “buck” Kanaka would stalk in with a woman's bonnet on, wrong side
before--only this, and nothing more; after him would stride his fellow,
with the legs of a pair of pantaloons tied around his neck, the rest of
his person untrammeled; in his rear would come another gentleman simply
gotten up in a fiery neck-tie and a striped vest.

The poor creatures were beaming with complacency and wholly unconscious
of any absurdity in their appearance.  They gazed at each other with
happy admiration, and it was plain to see that the young girls were
taking note of what each other had on, as naturally as if they had always
lived in a land of Bibles and knew what churches were made for; here was
the evidence of a dawning civilization.  The spectacle which the
congregation presented was so extraordinary and withal so moving, that
the missionaries found it difficult to keep to the text and go on with
the services; and by and by when the simple children of the sun began a
general swapping of garments in open meeting and produced some
irresistibly grotesque effects in the course of re-dressing, there was
nothing for it but to cut the thing short with the benediction and
dismiss the fantastic assemblage.

In our country, children play “keep house;” and in the same high-sounding
but miniature way the grown folk here, with the poor little material of
slender territory and meagre population, play “empire.”  There is his
royal Majesty the King, with a New York detective's income of thirty or
thirty-five thousand dollars a year from the “royal civil list” and the
“royal domain.”  He lives in a two-story frame “palace.”

And there is the “royal family”--the customary hive of royal brothers,
sisters, cousins and other noble drones and vagrants usual to monarchy,
--all with a spoon in the national pap-dish, and all bearing such titles as
his or her Royal Highness the Prince or Princess So-and-so.  Few of them
can carry their royal splendors far enough to ride in carriages, however;
they sport the economical Kanaka horse or “hoof it” with the plebeians.

Then there is his Excellency the “royal Chamberlain”--a sinecure, for his
majesty dresses himself with his own hands, except when he is ruralizing
at Waikiki and then he requires no dressing.

Next we have his Excellency the Commander-in-chief of the Household
Troops, whose forces consist of about the number of soldiers usually
placed under a corporal in other lands.

Next comes the royal Steward and the Grand Equerry in Waiting--high
dignitaries with modest salaries and little to do.

Then we have his Excellency the First Gentleman of the Bed-chamber--an
office as easy as it is magnificent.

Next we come to his Excellency the Prime Minister, a renegade American
from New Hampshire, all jaw, vanity, bombast and ignorance, a lawyer of
“shyster” calibre, a fraud by nature, a humble worshipper of the sceptre
above him, a reptile never tired of sneering at the land of his birth or
glorifying the ten-acre kingdom that has adopted him--salary, $4,000 a
year, vast consequence, and no perquisites.

Then we have his Excellency the Imperial Minister of Finance, who handles
a million dollars of public money a year, sends in his annual “budget”
 with great ceremony, talks prodigiously of “finance,” suggests imposing
schemes for paying off the “national debt” (of $150,000,) and does it all
for $4,000 a year and unimaginable glory.

Next we have his Excellency the Minister of War, who holds sway over the
royal armies--they consist of two hundred and thirty uniformed Kanakas,
mostly Brigadier Generals, and if the country ever gets into trouble with
a foreign power we shall probably hear from them.  I knew an American
whose copper-plate visiting card bore this impressive legend:
“Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Infantry.”  To say that he was proud of
this distinction is stating it but tamely.  The Minister of War has also
in his charge some venerable swivels on Punch-Bowl Hill wherewith royal
salutes are fired when foreign vessels of war enter the port.

Next comes his Excellency the Minister of the Navy--a nabob who rules the
“royal fleet,” (a steam-tug and a sixty-ton schooner.)

And next comes his Grace the Lord Bishop of Honolulu, the chief dignitary
of the “Established Church”--for when the American Presbyterian
missionaries had completed the reduction of the nation to a compact
condition of Christianity, native royalty stepped in and erected the
grand dignity of an “Established (Episcopal) Church” over it, and
imported a cheap ready-made Bishop from England to take charge.  The
chagrin of the missionaries has never been comprehensively expressed, to
this day, profanity not being admissible.

Next comes his Excellency the Minister of Public Instruction.

Next, their Excellencies the Governors of Oahu, Hawaii, etc., and after
them a string of High Sheriffs and other small fry too numerous for

Then there are their Excellencies the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister
Plenipotentiary of his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the French; her
British Majesty's Minister; the Minister Resident, of the United States;
and some six or eight representatives of other foreign nations, all with
sounding titles, imposing dignity and prodigious but economical state.

Imagine all this grandeur in a play-house “kingdom” whose population
falls absolutely short of sixty thousand souls!

The people are so accustomed to nine-jointed titles and colossal magnates
that a foreign prince makes very little more stir in Honolulu than a
Western Congressman does in New York.

And let it be borne in mind that there is a strictly defined “court
costume” of so “stunning” a nature that it would make the clown in a
circus look tame and commonplace by comparison; and each Hawaiian
official dignitary has a gorgeous vari-colored, gold-laced uniform
peculiar to his office--no two of them are alike, and it is hard to tell
which one is the “loudest.”  The King had a “drawing-room” at stated
intervals, like other monarchs, and when these varied uniforms congregate
there--weak-eyed people have to contemplate the spectacle through smoked
glass.  Is there not a gratifying contrast between this latter-day
exhibition and the one the ancestors of some of these magnates afforded
the missionaries the Sunday after the old-time distribution of clothing?
Behold what religion and civilization have wrought!


While I was in Honolulu I witnessed the ceremonious funeral of the King's
sister, her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria.  According to the royal
custom, the remains had lain in state at the palace thirty days, watched
day and night by a guard of honor.  And during all that time a great
multitude of natives from the several islands had kept the palace grounds
well crowded and had made the place a pandemonium every night with their
howlings and wailings, beating of tom-toms and dancing of the (at other
times) forbidden “hula-hula” by half-clad maidens to the music of songs
of questionable decency chanted in honor of the deceased.  The printed
programme of the funeral procession interested me at the time; and after
what I have just said of Hawaiian grandiloquence in the matter of
“playing empire,” I am persuaded that a perusal of it may interest the

      After reading the long list of dignitaries, etc., and remembering
      the sparseness of the population, one is almost inclined to wonder
      where the material for that portion of the procession devoted to
      “Hawaiian Population Generally” is going to be procured:

Royal School.  Kawaiahao School.  Roman Catholic School.  Maemae School.
Honolulu Fire Department.
Mechanics' Benefit Union.
Attending Physicians.
Knonohikis (Superintendents) of the Crown Lands, Konohikis of the Private
  Lands of His Majesty Konohikis of the Private Lands of Her late Royal
Governor of Oahu and Staff.
Hulumanu (Military Company).
Household Troops.
The Prince of Hawaii's Own (Military Company).
The King's household servants.
Servants of Her late Royal Highness.
Protestant Clergy.  The Clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.
His Lordship Louis Maigret, The Right Rev. Bishop of Arathea,
  Vicar-Apostolic of the Hawaiian Islands.
The Clergy of the Hawaiian Reformed Catholic Church.
His Lordship the Right Rev.  Bishop of Honolulu.
Her Majesty Queen Emma's Carriage.
His Majesty's Staff.
Carriage of Her late Royal Highness.
Carriage of Her Majesty the Queen Dowager.
The King's Chancellor.
Cabinet Ministers.
His Excellency the Minister Resident of the United States.
H. B. M's Commissioner.
H. B. M's Acting Commissioner.
Judges of Supreme Court.
Privy Councillors.
Members of Legislative Assembly.
Consular Corps.
Circuit Judges.
Clerks of Government Departments.
Members of the Bar.
Collector General, Custom-house Officers and Officers of the Customs.
Marshal and Sheriffs of the different Islands.
King's Yeomanry.
Foreign Residents.
Ahahui Kaahumanu.
Hawaiian Population Generally.
Hawaiian Cavalry.
Police Force.

I resume my journal at the point where the procession arrived at the
royal mausoleum:

      As the procession filed through the gate, the military deployed
      handsomely to the right and left and formed an avenue through which
      the long column of mourners passed to the tomb.  The coffin was
      borne through the door of the mausoleum, followed by the King and
      his chiefs, the great officers of the kingdom, foreign Consuls,
      Embassadors and distinguished guests (Burlingame and General Van
      Valkenburgh).  Several of the kahilis were then fastened to a
      frame-work in front of the tomb, there to remain until they decay
      and fall to pieces, or, forestalling this, until another scion of
      royalty dies.  At this point of the proceedings the multitude set
      up such a heart-broken wailing as I hope never to hear again.

The soldiers fired three volleys of musketry--the wailing being
previously silenced to permit of the guns being heard.  His Highness
Prince William, in a showy military uniform (the “true prince,” this
--scion of the house over-thrown by the present dynasty--he was formerly
betrothed to the Princess but was not allowed to marry her), stood guard
and paced back and forth within the door.  The privileged few who
followed the coffin into the mausoleum remained sometime, but the King
soon came out and stood in the door and near one side of it.  A stranger
could have guessed his rank (although he was so simply and
unpretentiously dressed) by the profound deference paid him by all
persons in his vicinity; by seeing his high officers receive his quiet
orders and suggestions with bowed and uncovered heads; and by observing
how careful those persons who came out of the mausoleum were to avoid
“crowding” him (although there was room enough in the doorway for a wagon
to pass, for that matter); how respectfully they edged out sideways,
scraping their backs against the wall and always presenting a front view
of their persons to his Majesty, and never putting their hats on until
they were well out of the royal presence.

He was dressed entirely in black--dress-coat and silk hat--and looked
rather democratic in the midst of the showy uniforms about him.  On his
breast he wore a large gold star, which was half hidden by the lapel of
his coat.  He remained at the door a half hour, and occasionally gave an
order to the men who were erecting the kahilis [Ranks of long-handled
mops made of gaudy feathers--sacred to royalty.  They are stuck in the
ground around the tomb and left there.]  before the tomb.  He had the
good taste to make one of them substitute black crape for the ordinary
hempen rope he was about to tie one of them to the frame-work with.
Finally he entered his carriage and drove away, and the populace shortly
began to drop into his wake.  While he was in view there was but one man
who attracted more attention than himself, and that was Harris (the
Yankee Prime Minister).  This feeble personage had crape enough around
his hat to express the grief of an entire nation, and as usual he
neglected no opportunity of making himself conspicuous and exciting the
admiration of the simple Kanakas.  Oh! noble ambition of this modern

It is interesting to contrast the funeral ceremonies of the Princess
Victoria with those of her noted ancestor Kamehameha the Conqueror, who
died fifty years ago--in 1819, the year before the first missionaries

      “On the 8th of May, 1819, at the age of sixty-six, he died, as he
      had lived, in the faith of his country.  It was his misfortune not
      to have come in contact with men who could have rightly influenced
      his religious aspirations.  Judged by his advantages and compared
      with the most eminent of his countrymen he may be justly styled not
      only great, but good.  To this day his memory warms the heart and
      elevates the national feelings of Hawaiians.  They are proud of
      their old warrior King; they love his name; his deeds form their
      historical age; and an enthusiasm everywhere prevails, shared even
      by foreigners who knew his worth, that constitutes the firmest
      pillar of the throne of his dynasty.

      “In lieu of human victims (the custom of that age), a sacrifice of
      three hundred dogs attended his obsequies--no mean holocaust when
      their national value and the estimation in which they were held are
      considered.  The bones of Kamehameha, after being kept for a while,
      were so carefully concealed that all knowledge of their final
      resting place is now lost.  There was a proverb current among the
      common people that the bones of a cruel King could not be hid; they
      made fish-hooks and arrows of them, upon which, in using them, they
      vented their abhorrence of his memory in bitter execrations.”

The account of the circumstances of his death, as written by the native
historians, is full of minute detail, but there is scarcely a line of it
which does not mention or illustrate some by-gone custom of the country.
In this respect it is the most comprehensive document I have yet met
with.  I will quote it entire:

      “When Kamehameha was dangerously sick, and the priests were unable
      to cure him, they said: 'Be of good courage and build a house for
      the god' (his own private god or idol), that thou mayest recover.'
      The chiefs corroborated this advice of the priests, and a place of
      worship was prepared for Kukailimoku, and consecrated in the
      evening.  They proposed also to the King, with a view to prolong his
      life, that human victims should be sacrificed to his deity; upon
      which the greater part of the people absconded through fear of
      death, and concealed themselves in hiding places till the tabu [Tabu
      (pronounced tah-boo,) means prohibition (we have borrowed it,) or
      sacred.  The tabu was sometimes permanent, sometimes temporary; and
      the person or thing placed under tabu was for the time being sacred
      to the purpose for which it was set apart.  In the above case the
      victims selected under the tabu would be sacred to the sacrifice]
      in which destruction impended, was past.  It is doubtful whether
      Kamehameha approved of the plan of the chiefs and priests to
      sacrifice men, as he was known to say, 'The men are sacred for the
      King;' meaning that they were for the service of his successor.
      This information was derived from Liholiho, his son.

      “After this, his sickness increased to such a degree that he had not
      strength to turn himself in his bed.  When another season,
      consecrated for worship at the new temple (heiau) arrived, he said
      to his son, Liholiho, 'Go thou and make supplication to thy god; I
      am not able to go, and will offer my prayers at home.'  When his
      devotions to his feathered god, Kukailimoku, were concluded, a
      certain religiously disposed individual, who had a bird god,
      suggested to the King that through its influence his sickness might
      be removed.  The name of this god was Pua; its body was made of a
      bird, now eaten by the Hawaiians, and called in their language alae.
      Kamehameha was willing that a trial should be made, and two houses
      were constructed to facilitate the experiment; but while dwelling in
      them he became so very weak as not to receive food.  After lying
      there three days, his wives, children and chiefs, perceiving that he
      was very low, returned him to his own house.  In the evening he was
      carried to the eating house,  where he took a little food in his
      mouth which he did not swallow; also a cup of water.  The chiefs
      requested him to give them his counsel; but he made no reply, and
      was carried back to the dwelling house; but when near midnight--ten
      o'clock, perhaps--he was carried again to the place to eat; but, as
      before, he merely tasted of what was presented to him.  Then
      Kaikioewa addressed him thus: 'Here we all are, your younger
      brethren, your son Liholiho and your foreigner; impart to us your
      dying charge, that Liholiho and Kaahumanu may hear.' Then Kamehameha
      inquired, 'What do you say?' Kaikioewa repeated, 'Your counsels for

      “He then said, 'Move on in my good way and--.' He could proceed no
      further.  The foreigner, Mr. Young, embraced and kissed him.
      Hoapili also embraced him, whispering something in his ear, after
      which he was taken back to the house.  About twelve he was carried
      once more to the house for eating, into which his head entered,
      while his body was in the dwelling house immediately adjoining.  It
      should be remarked that this frequent carrying of a sick chief from
      one house to another resulted from the tabu system, then in force.
      There were at that time six houses (huts) connected with an
      establishment--one was for worship, one for the men to eat in, an
      eating house for the women, a house to sleep in, a house in which to
      manufacture kapa (native cloth) and one where, at certain intervals,
      the women might dwell in seclusion.

      “The sick was once more taken to his house, when he expired; this
      was at two o'clock, a circumstance from which Leleiohoku derived his
      name.  As he breathed his last, Kalaimoku came to the eating house
      to order those in it to go out.  There were two aged persons thus
      directed to depart; one went, the other remained on account of love
      to the King, by whom he had formerly been kindly sustained.  The
      children also were sent away.  Then Kalaimoku came to the house, and
      the chiefs had a consultation.  One of them spoke thus: 'This is my
      thought--we will eat him raw. [This sounds suspicious, in view of
      the fact that all Sandwich Island historians, white and black,
      protest that cannibalism never existed in the islands.  However,
      since they only proposed to “eat him raw” we “won't count that”.
      But it would certainly have been cannibalism if they had cooked
      him.--M.  T.]  Kaahumanu (one of the dead King's widows) replied,
      'Perhaps his body is not at our disposal; that is more properly with
      his successor.  Our part in him--his breath--has departed; his
      remains will be disposed of by Liholiho.'

      “After this conversation the body was taken into the consecrated
      house for the performance of the proper rites by the priest and the
      new King.  The name of this ceremony is uko; and when the sacred hog
      was baked the priest offered it to the dead body, and it became a
      god, the King at the same time repeating the customary prayers.

      “Then the priest, addressing himself to the King and chiefs, said:
      'I will now make known to you the rules to be observed respecting
      persons to be sacrificed on the burial of this body.  If you obtain
      one man before the corpse is removed, one will be sufficient; but
      after it leaves this house four will be required.  If delayed until
      we carry the corpse to the grave there must be ten; but after it is
      deposited in the grave there must be fifteen.  To-morrow morning
      there will be a tabu, and, if the sacrifice be delayed until that
      time, forty men must die.'

      “Then the high priest, Hewahewa, inquired of the chiefs, 'Where
      shall be the residence of King Liholiho?'  They replied, 'Where,
      indeed?  You, of all men, ought to know.'  Then the priest observed,
      'There are two suitable places; one is Kau, the other is Kohala.'
      The chiefs preferred the latter, as it was more thickly inhabited.
      The priest added, 'These are proper places for the King's residence;
      but he must not remain in Kona, for it is polluted.'  This was
      agreed to.  It was now break of day.  As he was being carried to the
      place of burial the people perceived that their King was dead, and
      they wailed.  When the corpse was removed from the house to the
      tomb, a distance of one chain, the procession was met by a certain
      man who was ardently attached to the deceased.  He leaped upon the
      chiefs who were carrying the King's body; he desired to die with him
      on account of his love.  The chiefs drove him away.  He persisted in
      making numerous attempts, which were unavailing.  Kalaimoka also had
      it in his heart to die with him, but was prevented by Hookio.

      “The morning following Kamehameha's death, Liholiho and his train
      departed for Kohala, according to the suggestions of the priest, to
      avoid the defilement occasioned by the dead.  At this time if a
      chief died the land was polluted, and the heirs sought a residence
      in another part of the country until the corpse was dissected and
      the bones tied in a bundle, which being done, the season of
      defilement terminated.  If the deceased were not a chief, the house
      only was defiled which became pure again on the burial of the body.
      Such were the laws on this subject.

      “On the morning on which Liholiho sailed in his canoe for Kohala,
      the chiefs and people mourned after their manner on occasion of a
      chief's death, conducting themselves like madmen and like beasts.
      Their conduct was such as to forbid description; The priests, also,
      put into action the sorcery apparatus, that the person who had
      prayed the King to death might die; for it was not believed that
      Kamehameha's departure was the effect either of sickness or old age.
      When the sorcerers set up by their fire-places sticks with a strip
      of kapa flying at the top, the chief Keeaumoku, Kaahumaun's brother,
      came in a state of intoxication and broke the flag-staff of the
      sorcerers, from which it was inferred that Kaahumanu and her friends
      had been instrumental in the King's death.  On this account they
      were subjected to abuse.”

You have the contrast, now, and a strange one it is.  This great Queen,
Kaahumanu, who was “subjected to abuse” during the frightful orgies that
followed the King's death, in accordance with ancient custom, afterward
became a devout Christian and a steadfast and powerful friend of the

Dogs were, and still are, reared and fattened for food, by the natives
--hence the reference to their value in one of the above paragraphs.

Forty years ago it was the custom in the Islands to suspend all law for a
certain number of days after the death of a royal personage; and then a
saturnalia ensued which one may picture to himself after a fashion, but
not in the full horror of the reality.  The people shaved their heads,
knocked out a tooth or two, plucked out an eye sometimes, cut, bruised,
mutilated or burned their flesh, got drunk, burned each other's huts,
maimed or murdered one another according to the caprice of the moment,
and both sexes gave themselves up to brutal and unbridled licentiousness.

And after it all, came a torpor from which the nation slowly emerged
bewildered and dazed, as if from a hideous half-remembered nightmare.
They were not the salt of the earth, those “gentle children of the sun.”

The natives still keep up an old custom of theirs which cannot be
comforting to an invalid.  When they think a sick friend is going to die,
a couple of dozen neighbors surround his hut and keep up a deafening
wailing night and day till he either dies or gets well.  No doubt this
arrangement has helped many a subject to a shroud before his appointed

They surround a hut and wail in the same heart-broken way when its
occupant returns from a journey.  This is their dismal idea of a welcome.
A very little of it would go a great way with most of us.


Bound for Hawaii (a hundred and fifty miles distant,) to visit the great
volcano and behold the other notable things which distinguish that island
above the remainder of the group, we sailed from Honolulu on a certain
Saturday afternoon, in the good schooner Boomerang.

The Boomerang was about as long as two street cars, and about as wide as
one.  She was so small (though she was larger than the majority of the
inter-island coasters) that when I stood on her deck I felt but little
smaller than the Colossus of Rhodes must have felt when he had a
man-of-war under him.  I could reach the water when she lay over under a
strong breeze.  When the Captain and my comrade (a Mr. Billings), myself
and four other persons were all assembled on the little after portion of
the deck which is sacred to the cabin passengers, it was full--there was
not room for any more quality folks.  Another section of the deck, twice
as large as ours, was full of natives of both sexes, with their customary
dogs, mats, blankets, pipes, calabashes of poi, fleas, and other luxuries
and baggage of minor importance.  As soon as we set sail the natives all
lay down on the deck as thick as negroes in a slave-pen, and smoked,
conversed, and spit on each other, and were truly sociable.

The little low-ceiled cabin below was rather larger than a hearse, and as
dark as a vault.  It had two coffins on each side--I mean two bunks.
A small table, capable of accommodating three persons at dinner, stood
against the forward bulkhead, and over it hung the dingiest whale oil
lantern that ever peopled the obscurity of a dungeon with ghostly shapes.
The floor room unoccupied was not extensive.  One might swing a cat in
it, perhaps, but not a long cat.  The hold forward of the bulkhead had
but little freight in it, and from morning till night a portly old
rooster, with a voice like Baalam's ass, and the same disposition to use
it, strutted up and down in that part of the vessel and crowed.  He
usually took dinner at six o'clock, and then, after an hour devoted to
meditation, he mounted a barrel and crowed a good part of the night.
He got hoarser all the time, but he scorned to allow any personal
consideration to interfere with his duty, and kept up his labors in
defiance of threatened diphtheria.

Sleeping was out of the question when he was on watch.  He was a source
of genuine aggravation and annoyance.  It was worse than useless to shout
at him or apply offensive epithets to him--he only took these things for
applause, and strained himself to make more noise.  Occasionally, during
the day, I threw potatoes at him through an aperture in the bulkhead, but
he only dodged and went on crowing.

The first night, as I lay in my coffin, idly watching the dim lamp
swinging to the rolling of the ship, and snuffing the nauseous odors of
bilge water, I felt something gallop over me.  I turned out promptly.
However, I turned in again when I found it was only a rat.  Presently
something galloped over me once more.  I knew it was not a rat this time,
and I thought it might be a centipede, because the Captain had killed one
on deck in the afternoon.  I turned out.  The first glance at the pillow
showed me repulsive sentinel perched upon each end of it--cockroaches as
large as peach leaves--fellows with long, quivering antennae and fiery,
malignant eyes.  They were grating their teeth like tobacco worms, and
appeared to be dissatisfied about something.  I had often heard that
these reptiles were in the habit of eating off sleeping sailors' toe
nails down to the quick, and I would not get in the bunk any more.  I lay
down on the floor.  But a rat came and bothered me, and shortly afterward
a procession of cockroaches arrived and camped in my hair.  In a few
moments the rooster was crowing with uncommon spirit and a party of fleas
were throwing double somersaults about my person in the wildest disorder,
and taking a bite every time they struck.  I was beginning to feel really
annoyed.  I got up and put my clothes on and went on deck.

The above is not overdrawn; it is a truthful sketch of inter-island
schooner life.  There is no such thing as keeping a vessel in elegant
condition, when she carries molasses and Kanakas.

It was compensation for my sufferings to come unexpectedly upon so
beautiful a scene as met my eye--to step suddenly out of the sepulchral
gloom of the cabin and stand under the strong light of the moon--in the
centre, as it were, of a glittering sea of liquid silver--to see the
broad sails straining in the gale, the ship heeled over on her side, the
angry foam hissing past her lee bulwarks, and sparkling sheets of spray
dashing high over her bows and raining upon her decks; to brace myself
and hang fast to the first object that presented itself, with hat jammed
down and coat tails whipping in the breeze, and feel that exhilaration
that thrills in one's hair and quivers down his back bone when he knows
that every inch of canvas is drawing and the vessel cleaving through the
waves at her utmost speed.  There was no darkness, no dimness, no
obscurity there.  All was brightness, every object was vividly defined.
Every prostrate Kanaka; every coil of rope; every calabash of poi; every
puppy; every seam in the flooring; every bolthead; every object; however
minute, showed sharp and distinct in its every outline; and the shadow of
the broad mainsail lay black as a pall upon the deck, leaving Billings's
white upturned face glorified and his body in a total eclipse.
Monday morning we were close to the island of Hawaii.  Two of its high
mountains were in view--Mauna Loa and Hualaiai.

The latter is an imposing peak, but being only ten thousand feet high is
seldom mentioned or heard of.  Mauna Loa is said to be sixteen thousand
feet high.  The rays of glittering snow and ice, that clasped its summit
like a claw, looked refreshing when viewed from the blistering climate we
were in.  One could stand on that mountain (wrapped up in blankets and
furs to keep warm), and while he nibbled a snowball or an icicle to
quench his thirst he could look down the long sweep of its sides and see
spots where plants are growing that grow only where the bitter cold of
Winter prevails; lower down he could see sections devoted to production
that thrive in the temperate zone alone; and at the bottom of the
mountain he could see the home of the tufted cocoa-palms and other
species of vegetation that grow only in the sultry atmosphere of eternal
Summer.  He could see all the climes of the world at a single glance of
the eye, and that glance would only pass over a distance of four or five
miles as the bird flies!

By and by we took boat and went ashore at Kailua, designing to ride
horseback through the pleasant orange and coffee region of Kona, and
rejoin the vessel at a point some leagues distant.  This journey is well
worth taking.  The trail passes along on high ground--say a thousand feet
above sea level--and usually about a mile distant from the ocean, which
is always in sight, save that occasionally you find yourself buried in
the forest in the midst of a rank tropical vegetation and a dense growth
of trees, whose great bows overarch the road and shut out sun and sea and
everything, and leave you in a dim, shady tunnel, haunted with invisible
singing birds and fragrant with the odor of flowers.  It was pleasant to
ride occasionally in the warm sun, and feast the eye upon the
ever-changing panorama of the forest (beyond and below us), with its many
tints, its softened lights and shadows, its billowy undulations sweeping
gently down from the mountain to the sea.  It was pleasant also, at
intervals, to leave the sultry sun and pass into the cool, green depths
of this forest and indulge in sentimental reflections under the
inspiration of its brooding twilight and its whispering foliage.
We rode through one orange grove that had ten thousand tree in it!
They were all laden with fruit.

At one farmhouse we got some large peaches of excellent flavor.
This fruit, as a general thing, does not do well in the Sandwich Islands.
It takes a sort of almond shape, and is small and bitter.  It needs
frost, they say, and perhaps it does; if this be so, it will have a good
opportunity to go on needing it, as it will not be likely to get it.
The trees from which the fine fruit I have spoken of, came, had been
planted and replanted sixteen times, and to this treatment the proprietor
of the orchard attributed his-success.

We passed several sugar plantations--new ones and not very extensive.
The crops were, in most cases, third rattoons.  [NOTE.--The first crop is
called “plant cane;” subsequent crops which spring from the original
roots, without replanting, are called “rattoons.”] Almost everywhere on
the island of Hawaii sugar-cane matures in twelve months, both rattoons
and plant, and although it ought to be taken off as soon as it tassels,
no doubt, it is not absolutely necessary to do it until about four months
afterward.  In Kona, the average yield of an acre of ground is two tons
of sugar, they say.  This is only a moderate yield for these islands, but
would be astounding for Louisiana and most other sugar growing countries.
The plantations in Kona being on pretty high ground--up among the light
and frequent rains--no irrigation whatever is required.


We stopped some time at one of the plantations, to rest ourselves and
refresh the horses.  We had a chatty conversation with several gentlemen
present; but there was one person, a middle aged man, with an absent look
in his face, who simply glanced up, gave us good-day and lapsed again
into the meditations which our coming had interrupted.  The planters
whispered us not to mind him--crazy.  They said he was in the Islands for
his health; was a preacher; his home, Michigan.  They said that if he
woke up presently and fell to talking about a correspondence which he had
some time held with Mr. Greeley about a trifle of some kind, we must
humor him and listen with interest; and we must humor his fancy that this
correspondence was the talk of the world.

It was easy to see that he was a gentle creature and that his madness had
nothing vicious in it.  He looked pale, and a little worn, as if with
perplexing thought and anxiety of mind.  He sat a long time, looking at
the floor, and at intervals muttering to himself and nodding his head
acquiescingly or shaking it in mild protest.  He was lost in his thought,
or in his memories.  We continued our talk with the planters, branching
from subject to subject.  But at last the word “circumstance,” casually
dropped, in the course of conversation, attracted his attention and
brought an eager look into his countenance.  He faced about in his chair
and said:

“Circumstance?  What circumstance?  Ah, I know--I know too well.  So you
have heard of it too.”  [With a sigh.] “Well, no matter--all the world
has heard of it.  All the world.  The whole world.  It is a large world,
too, for a thing to travel so far in--now isn't it?  Yes, yes--the
Greeley correspondence with Erickson has created the saddest and
bitterest controversy on both sides of the ocean--and still they keep it
up!  It makes us famous, but at what a sorrowful sacrifice!  I was so
sorry when I heard that it had caused that bloody and distressful war
over there in Italy.  It was little comfort to me, after so much
bloodshed, to know that the victors sided with me, and the vanquished
with Greeley.--It is little comfort to know that Horace Greeley is
responsible for the battle of Sadowa, and not me.

“Queen Victoria wrote me that she felt just as I did about it--she said
that as much as she was opposed to Greeley and the spirit he showed in
the correspondence with me, she would not have had Sadowa happen for
hundreds of dollars.  I can show you her letter, if you would like to see
it.  But gentlemen, much as you may think you know about that unhappy
correspondence, you cannot know the straight of it till you hear it from
my lips.  It has always been garbled in the journals, and even in
history.  Yes, even in history--think of it!  Let me--please let me, give
you the matter, exactly as it occurred.  I truly will not abuse your

Then he leaned forward, all interest, all earnestness, and told his
story--and told it appealingly, too, and yet in the simplest and most
unpretentious way; indeed, in such a way as to suggest to one, all the
time, that this was a faithful, honorable witness, giving evidence in the
sacred interest of justice, and under oath.  He said:

“Mrs. Beazeley--Mrs. Jackson Beazeley, widow, of the village of
Campbellton, Kansas,--wrote me about a matter which was near her heart
--a matter which many might think trivial, but to her it was a thing of
deep concern.  I was living in Michigan, then--serving in the ministry.
She was, and is, an estimable woman--a woman to whom poverty and hardship
have proven incentives to industry, in place of discouragements.
Her only treasure was her son William, a youth just verging upon manhood;
religious, amiable, and sincerely attached to agriculture.  He was the
widow's comfort and her pride.  And so, moved by her love for him, she
wrote me about a matter, as I have said before, which lay near her heart
--because it lay near her boy's.  She desired me to confer with
Mr. Greeley about turnips.  Turnips were the dream of her child's young
ambition.  While other youths were frittering away in frivolous
amusements the precious years of budding vigor which God had given them
for useful preparation, this boy was patiently enriching his mind with
information concerning turnips.  The sentiment which he felt toward the
turnip was akin to adoration.  He could not think of the turnip without
emotion; he could not speak of it calmly; he could not contemplate it
without exaltation.  He could not eat it without shedding tears.  All the
poetry in his sensitive nature was in sympathy with the gracious
vegetable.  With the earliest pipe of dawn he sought his patch, and when
the curtaining night drove him from it he shut himself up with his books
and garnered statistics till sleep overcame him.  On rainy days he sat
and talked hours together with his mother about turnips.  When company
came, he made it his loving duty to put aside everything else and
converse with them all the day long of his great joy in the turnip.

“And yet, was this joy rounded and complete?  Was there no secret alloy of
unhappiness in it?  Alas, there was.  There was a canker gnawing at his
heart; the noblest inspiration of his soul eluded his endeavor--viz: he
could not make of the turnip a climbing vine.  Months went by; the bloom
forsook his cheek, the fire faded out of his eye; sighings and
abstraction usurped the place of smiles and cheerful converse.  But a
watchful eye noted these things and in time a motherly sympathy unsealed
the secret.  Hence the letter to me.  She pleaded for attention--she said
her boy was dying by inches.

“I was a stranger to Mr. Greeley, but what of that?  The matter was
urgent.  I wrote and begged him to solve the difficult problem if
possible and save the student's life.  My interest grew, until it partook
of the anxiety of the mother.  I waited in much suspense.--At last the
answer came.

“I found that I could not read it readily, the handwriting being
unfamiliar and my emotions somewhat wrought up.  It seemed to refer in
part to the boy's case, but chiefly to other and irrelevant matters--such
as paving-stones, electricity, oysters, and something which I took to be
'absolution' or 'agrarianism,' I could not be certain which; still, these
appeared to be simply casual mentions, nothing more; friendly in spirit,
without doubt, but lacking the connection or coherence necessary to make
them useful.--I judged that my understanding was affected by my feelings,
and so laid the letter away till morning.

“In the morning I read it again, but with difficulty and uncertainty
still, for I had lost some little rest and my mental vision seemed
clouded.  The note was more connected, now, but did not meet the
emergency it was expected to meet.  It was too discursive.  It appeared
to read as follows, though I was not certain of some of the words:

      “Polygamy dissembles majesty; extracts redeem polarity; causes
      hitherto exist.  Ovations pursue wisdom, or warts inherit and
      condemn.  Boston, botany, cakes, folony undertakes, but who shall
      allay?  We fear not.  Yrxwly,
                               HEVACE EVEELOJ.'

“But there did not seem to be a word about turnips.  There seemed to be
no suggestion as to how they might be made to grow like vines.  There was
not even a reference to the Beazeleys.  I slept upon the matter; I ate no
supper, neither any breakfast next morning.  So I resumed my work with a
brain refreshed, and was very hopeful.  Now the letter took a different
aspect-all save the signature, which latter I judged to be only a
harmless affectation of Hebrew.  The epistle was necessarily from Mr.
Greeley, for it bore the printed heading of The Tribune, and I had
written to no one else there.  The letter, I say, had taken a different
aspect, but still its language was eccentric and avoided the issue.  It
now appeared to say:

      “Bolivia extemporizes mackerel; borax esteems polygamy; sausages
      wither in the east.  Creation perdu, is done; for woes inherent one
      can damn.  Buttons, buttons, corks, geology underrates but we shall
      allay.  My beer's out.  Yrxwly,
                                         HEVACE EVEELOJ.'

“I was evidently overworked.  My comprehension was impaired.  Therefore I
gave two days to recreation, and then returned to my task greatly
refreshed.  The letter now took this form:

      “Poultices do sometimes choke swine; tulips reduce posterity; causes
      leather to resist.  Our notions empower wisdom, her let's afford
      while we can.  Butter but any cakes, fill any undertaker, we'll wean
      him from his filly.  We feel hot.
                                    Yrxwly, HEVACE EVEELOJ.'

“I was still not satisfied.  These generalities did not meet the
question.  They were crisp, and vigorous, and delivered with a confidence
that almost compelled conviction; but at such a time as this, with a
human life at stake, they seemed inappropriate, worldly, and in bad
taste.  At any other time I would have been not only glad, but proud, to
receive from a man like Mr. Greeley a letter of this kind, and would have
studied it earnestly and tried to improve myself all I could; but now,
with that poor boy in his far home languishing for relief, I had no heart
for learning.

“Three days passed by, and I read the note again.  Again its tenor had
changed.  It now appeared to say:

      “Potations do sometimes wake wines; turnips restrain passion; causes
      necessary to state.  Infest the poor widow; her lord's effects will
      be void.  But dirt, bathing, etc., etc., followed unfairly, will
      worm him from his folly--so swear not.
                                              Yrxwly, HEVACE EVEELOJ.'

“This was more like it.  But I was unable to proceed.  I was too much
worn.  The word 'turnips' brought temporary joy and encouragement, but my
strength was so much impaired, and the delay might be so perilous for the
boy, that I relinquished the idea of pursuing the translation further,
and resolved to do what I ought to have done at first.  I sat down and
wrote Mr. Greeley as follows:

      “DEAR SIR: I fear I do not entirely comprehend your kind note.  It
      cannot be possible, Sir, that 'turnips restrain passion'--at least
      the study or contemplation of turnips cannot--for it is this very
      employment that has scorched our poor friend's mind and sapped his
      bodily strength.--But if they do restrain it, will you bear with us
      a little further and explain how they should be prepared?  I observe
      that you say 'causes necessary to state,' but you have omitted to
      state them.

      “Under a misapprehension, you seem to attribute to me interested
      motives in this matter--to call it by no harsher term.  But I assure
      you, dear sir, that if I seem to be 'infesting the widow,' it is all
      seeming, and void of reality.  It is from no seeking of mine that I
      am in this position.  She asked me, herself, to write you.  I never
      have infested her--indeed I scarcely know her.  I do not infest
      anybody.  I try to go along, in my humble way, doing as near right
      as I can, never harming anybody, and never throwing out
      insinuations.  As for 'her lord and his effects,' they are of no
      interest to me.  I trust I have effects enough of my own--shall
      endeavor to get along with them, at any rate, and not go mousing
      around to get hold of somebody's that are 'void.'  But do you not
      see?--this woman is a widow--she has no 'lord.'  He is dead--or
      pretended to be, when they buried him.  Therefore, no amount of
      'dirt, bathing,' etc., etc., howsoever 'unfairly followed' will be
      likely to 'worm him from his folly'--if being dead and a ghost is
      'folly.'  Your closing remark is as unkind as it was uncalled for;
      and if report says true you might have applied it to yourself, sir,
      with more point and less impropriety.
                               Very Truly Yours, SIMON ERICKSON.

“In the course of a few days, Mr. Greely did what would have saved a
world of trouble, and much mental and bodily suffering and
misunderstanding, if he had done it sooner.  To wit, he sent an
intelligible rescript or translation of his original note, made in a
plain hand by his clerk.  Then the mystery cleared, and I saw that his
heart had been right, all the time.  I will recite the note in its
clarified form:

      'Potatoes do sometimes make vines; turnips remain passive: cause
      unnecessary to state.  Inform the poor widow her lad's efforts will
      be vain.  But diet, bathing, etc.  etc., followed uniformly, will
      wean him from his folly--so fear not.
                                         Yours, HORACE GREELEY.'

“But alas, it was too late, gentlemen--too late.  The criminal delay had
done its work--young Beazely was no more.  His spirit had taken its
flight to a land where all anxieties shall be charmed away, all desires
gratified, all ambitions realized.  Poor lad, they laid him to his rest
with a turnip in each hand.”

So ended Erickson, and lapsed again into nodding, mumbling, and
abstraction.  The company broke up, and left him so....  But they did not
say what drove him crazy.  In the momentary confusion, I forgot to ask.


At four o'clock in the afternoon we were winding down a mountain of
dreary and desolate lava to the sea, and closing our pleasant land
journey.  This lava is the accumulation of ages; one torrent of fire
after another has rolled down here in old times, and built up the island
structure higher and higher.  Underneath, it is honey-combed with caves;
it would be of no use to dig wells in such a place; they would not hold
water--you would not find any for them to hold, for that matter.
Consequently, the planters depend upon cisterns.

The last lava flow occurred here so long ago that there are none now
living who witnessed it.  In one place it enclosed and burned down a
grove of cocoa-nut trees, and the holes in the lava where the trunks
stood are still visible; their sides retain the impression of the bark;
the trees fell upon the burning river, and becoming partly submerged,
left in it the perfect counterpart of every knot and branch and leaf,
and even nut, for curiosity seekers of a long distant day to gaze upon
and wonder at.

There were doubtless plenty of Kanaka sentinels on guard hereabouts at
that time, but they did not leave casts of their figures in the lava as
the Roman sentinels at Herculaneum and Pompeii did.  It is a pity it is
so, because such things are so interesting; but so it is.  They probably
went away.  They went away early, perhaps.  However, they had their
merits; the Romans exhibited the higher pluck, but the Kanakas showed the
sounder judgment.

Shortly we came in sight of that spot whose history is so familiar to
every school-boy in the wide world--Kealakekua Bay--the place where
Captain Cook, the great circumnavigator, was killed by the natives,
nearly a hundred years ago.  The setting sun was flaming upon it, a
Summer shower was falling, and it was spanned by two magnificent
rainbows.  Two men who were in advance of us rode through one of these
and for a moment their garments shone with a more than regal splendor.
Why did not Captain Cook have taste enough to call his great discovery
the Rainbow Islands?  These charming spectacles are present to you at
every turn; they are common in all the islands; they are visible every
day, and frequently at night also--not the silvery bow we see once in an
age in the States, by moonlight, but barred with all bright and beautiful
colors, like the children of the sun and rain.  I saw one of them a few
nights ago.  What the sailors call “raindogs”--little patches of rainbow
--are often seen drifting about the heavens in these latitudes, like
stained cathedral windows.

Kealakekua Bay is a little curve like the last kink of a snail-shell,
winding deep into the land, seemingly not more than a mile wide from
shore to shore.  It is bounded on one side--where the murder was done--by
a little flat plain, on which stands a cocoanut grove and some ruined
houses; a steep wall of lava, a thousand feet high at the upper end and
three or four hundred at the lower, comes down from the mountain and
bounds the inner extremity of it.  From this wall the place takes its
name, Kealakekua, which in the native tongue signifies “The Pathway of
the Gods.”  They say, (and still believe, in spite of their liberal
education in Christianity), that the great god Lono, who used to live
upon the hillside, always traveled that causeway when urgent business
connected with heavenly affairs called him down to the seashore in a

As the red sun looked across the placid ocean through the tall, clean
stems of the cocoanut trees, like a blooming whiskey bloat through the
bars of a city prison, I went and stood in the edge of the water on the
flat rock pressed by Captain Cook's feet when the blow was dealt which
took away his life, and tried to picture in my mind the doomed man
struggling in the midst of the multitude of exasperated savages--the men
in the ship crowding to the vessel's side and gazing in anxious dismay
toward the shore--the--but I discovered that I could not do it.

It was growing dark, the rain began to fall, we could see that the
distant Boomerang was helplessly becalmed at sea, and so I adjourned to
the cheerless little box of a warehouse and sat down to smoke and think,
and wish the ship would make the land--for we had not eaten much for ten
hours and were viciously hungry.

Plain unvarnished history takes the romance out of Captain Cook's
assassination, and renders a deliberate verdict of justifiable homicide.
Wherever he went among the islands, he was cordially received and
welcomed by the inhabitants, and his ships lavishly supplied with all
manner of food.  He returned these kindnesses with insult and
ill-treatment.  Perceiving that the people took him for the long vanished
and lamented god Lono, he encouraged them in the delusion for the sake of
the limitless power it gave him; but during the famous disturbance at
this spot, and while he and his comrades were surrounded by fifteen
thousand maddened savages, he received a hurt and betrayed his earthly
origin with a groan.  It was his death-warrant.  Instantly a shout went
up: “He groans!--he is not a god!” So they closed in upon him and
dispatched him.

His flesh was stripped from the bones and burned (except nine pounds of
it which were sent on board the ships).  The heart was hung up in a
native hut, where it was found and eaten by three children, who mistook
it for the heart of a dog.  One of these children grew to be a very old
man, and died in Honolulu a few years ago.  Some of Cook's bones were
recovered and consigned to the deep by the officers of the ships.

Small blame should attach to the natives for the killing of Cook.
They treated him well.  In return, he abused them.  He and his men
inflicted bodily injury upon many of them at different times, and killed
at least three of them before they offered any proportionate retaliation.

Near the shore we found “Cook's Monument”--only a cocoanut stump, four
feet high and about a foot in diameter at the butt.  It had lava boulders
piled around its base to hold it up and keep it in its place, and it was
entirely sheathed over, from top to bottom, with rough, discolored sheets
of copper, such as ships' bottoms are coppered with.  Each sheet had a
rude inscription scratched upon it--with a nail, apparently--and in every
case the execution was wretched.  Most of these merely recorded the
visits of British naval commanders to the spot, but one of them bore this

     “Near this spot fell
      The Distinguished Circumnavigator,
      Who Discovered these Islands
      A. D.  1778.”

After Cook's murder, his second in command, on board the ship, opened
fire upon the swarms of natives on the beach, and one of his cannon balls
cut this cocoanut tree short off and left this monumental stump standing.
It looked sad and lonely enough to us, out there in the rainy twilight.
But there is no other monument to Captain Cook.  True, up on the mountain
side we had passed by a large inclosure like an ample hog-pen, built of
lava blocks, which marks the spot where Cook's flesh was stripped from
his bones and burned; but this is not properly a monument since it was
erected by the natives themselves, and less to do honor to the
circumnavigator than for the sake of convenience in roasting him.
A thing like a guide-board was elevated above this pen on a tall pole,
and formerly there was an inscription upon it describing the memorable
occurrence that had there taken place; but the sun and the wind have long
ago so defaced it as to render it illegible.

Toward midnight a fine breeze sprang up and the schooner soon worked
herself into the bay and cast anchor.  The boat came ashore for us, and
in a little while the clouds and the rain were all gone.  The moon was
beaming tranquilly down on land and sea, and we two were stretched upon
the deck sleeping the refreshing sleep and dreaming the happy dreams that
are only vouchsafed to the weary and the innocent.


In the breezy morning we went ashore and visited the ruined temple of the
last god Lono.  The high chief cook of this temple--the priest who
presided over it and roasted the human sacrifices--was uncle to Obookia,
and at one time that youth was an apprentice-priest under him.  Obookia
was a young native of fine mind, who, together with three other native
boys, was taken to New England by the captain of a whaleship during the
reign of Kamehameha I, and they were the means of attracting the
attention of the religious world to their country.  This resulted in the
sending of missionaries there.  And this Obookia was the very same
sensitive savage who sat down on the church steps and wept because his
people did not have the Bible.  That incident has been very elaborately
painted in many a charming Sunday School book--aye, and told so
plaintively and so tenderly that I have cried over it in Sunday School
myself, on general principles, although at a time when I did not know
much and could not understand why the people of the Sandwich Islands
needed to worry so much about it as long as they did not know there was a
Bible at all.

Obookia was converted and educated, and was to have returned to his
native land with the first missionaries, had he lived.  The other native
youths made the voyage, and two of them did good service, but the third,
William Kanui, fell from grace afterward, for a time, and when the gold
excitement broke out in California he journeyed thither and went to
mining, although he was fifty years old.  He succeeded pretty well, but
the failure of Page, Bacon & Co. relieved him of six thousand dollars,
and then, to all intents and purposes, he was a bankrupt in his old age
and he resumed service in the pulpit again.  He died in Honolulu in 1864.

Quite a broad tract of land near the temple, extending from the sea to
the mountain top, was sacred to the god Lono in olden times--so sacred
that if a common native set his sacrilegious foot upon it it was
judicious for him to make his will, because his time had come.  He might
go around it by water, but he could not cross it.  It was well sprinkled
with pagan temples and stocked with awkward, homely idols carved out of
logs of wood.  There was a temple devoted to prayers for rain--and with
fine sagacity it was placed at a point so well up on the mountain side
that if you prayed there twenty-four times a day for rain you would be
likely to get it every time.  You would seldom get to your Amen before
you would have to hoist your umbrella.

And there was a large temple near at hand which was built in a single
night, in the midst of storm and thunder and rain, by the ghastly hands
of dead men!  Tradition says that by the weird glare of the lightning a
noiseless multitude of phantoms were seen at their strange labor far up
the mountain side at dead of night--flitting hither and thither and
bearing great lava-blocks clasped in their nerveless fingers--appearing
and disappearing as the pallid lustre fell upon their forms and faded
away again.  Even to this day, it is said, the natives hold this dread
structure in awe and reverence, and will not pass by it in the night.

At noon I observed a bevy of nude native young ladies bathing in the sea,
and went and sat down on their clothes to keep them from being stolen.
I begged them to come out, for the sea was rising and I was satisfied
that they were running some risk.  But they were not afraid, and
presently went on with their sport.  They were finished swimmers and
divers, and enjoyed themselves to the last degree.

They swam races, splashed and ducked and tumbled each other about, and
filled the air with their laughter.  It is said that the first thing an
Islander learns is how to swim; learning to walk being a matter of
smaller consequence, comes afterward.  One hears tales of native men and
women swimming ashore from vessels many miles at sea--more miles, indeed,
than I dare vouch for or even mention.  And they tell of a native diver
who went down in thirty or forty-foot waters and brought up an anvil!
I think he swallowed the anvil afterward, if my memory serves me.
However I will not urge this point.

I have spoken, several times, of the god Lono--I may as well furnish two
or three sentences concerning him.

The idol the natives worshipped for him was a slender, unornamented staff
twelve feet long.  Tradition says he was a favorite god on the Island of
Hawaii--a great king who had been deified for meritorious services--just
our own fashion of rewarding heroes, with the difference that we would
have made him a Postmaster instead of a god, no doubt.  In an angry
moment he slew his wife, a goddess named Kaikilani Aiii.  Remorse of
conscience drove him mad, and tradition presents us the singular
spectacle of a god traveling “on the shoulder;” for in his gnawing grief
he wandered about from place to place boxing and wrestling with all whom
he met.  Of course this pastime soon lost its novelty, inasmuch as it
must necessarily have been the case that when so powerful a deity sent a
frail human opponent “to grass” he never came back any more.  Therefore,
he instituted games called makahiki, and ordered that they should be held
in his honor, and then sailed for foreign lands on a three-cornered raft,
stating that he would return some day--and that was the last of Lono.
He was never seen any more; his raft got swamped, perhaps.  But the
people always expected his return, and thus they were easily led to
accept Captain Cook as the restored god.

Some of the old natives believed Cook was Lono to the day of their death;
but many did not, for they could not understand how he could die if he
was a god.

Only a mile or so from Kealakekua Bay is a spot of historic interest--the
place where the last battle was fought for idolatry.  Of course we
visited it, and came away as wise as most people do who go and gaze upon
such mementoes of the past when in an unreflective mood.

While the first missionaries were on their way around the Horn, the
idolatrous customs which had obtained in the island, as far back as
tradition reached were suddenly broken up.  Old Kamehameha I., was dead,
and his son, Liholiho, the new King was a free liver, a roystering,
dissolute fellow, and hated the restraints of the ancient tabu.  His
assistant in the Government, Kaahumanu, the Queen dowager, was proud and
high-spirited, and hated the tabu because it restricted the privileges of
her sex and degraded all women very nearly to the level of brutes.
So the case stood.  Liholiho had half a mind to put his foot down,
Kaahumahu had a whole mind to badger him into doing it, and whiskey did
the rest.  It was probably the rest.  It was probably the first time
whiskey ever prominently figured as an aid to civilization.  Liholiho
came up to Kailua as drunk as a piper, and attended a great feast; the
determined Queen spurred his drunken courage up to a reckless pitch, and
then, while all the multitude stared in blank dismay, he moved
deliberately forward and sat down with the women!

They saw him eat from the same vessel with them, and were appalled!
Terrible moments drifted slowly by, and still the King ate, still he
lived, still the lightnings of the insulted gods were withheld!
Then conviction came like a revelation--the superstitions of a hundred
generations passed from before the people like a cloud, and a shout went
up, “the tabu is broken!  the tabu is broken!”

Thus did King Liholiho and his dreadful whiskey preach the first sermon
and prepare the way for the new gospel that was speeding southward over
the waves of the Atlantic.

The tabu broken and destruction failing to follow the awful sacrilege,
the people, with that childlike precipitancy which has always
characterized them, jumped to the conclusion that their gods were a weak
and wretched swindle, just as they formerly jumped to the conclusion that
Captain Cook was no god, merely because he groaned, and promptly killed
him without stopping to inquire whether a god might not groan as well as
a man if it suited his convenience to do it; and satisfied that the idols
were powerless to protect themselves they went to work at once and pulled
them down--hacked them to pieces--applied the torch--annihilated them!

The pagan priests were furious.  And well they might be; they had held
the fattest offices in the land, and now they were beggared; they had
been great--they had stood above the chiefs--and now they were vagabonds.
They raised a revolt; they scared a number of people into joining their
standard, and Bekuokalani, an ambitious offshoot of royalty, was easily
persuaded to become their leader.

In the first skirmish the idolaters triumphed over the royal army sent
against them, and full of confidence they resolved to march upon Kailua.
The King sent an envoy to try and conciliate them, and came very near
being an envoy short by the operation; the savages not only refused to
listen to him, but wanted to kill him.  So the King sent his men forth
under Major General Kalaimoku and the two host met a Kuamoo.  The battle
was long and fierce--men and women fighting side by side, as was the
custom--and when the day was done the rebels were flying in every
direction in hopeless panic, and idolatry and the tabu were dead in the

The royalists marched gayly home to Kailua glorifying the new
dispensation.  “There is no power in the gods,” said they; “they are a
vanity and a lie.  The army with idols was weak; the army without idols
was strong and victorious!”

The nation was without a religion.

The missionary ship arrived in safety shortly afterward, timed by
providential exactness to meet the emergency, and the Gospel was planted
as in a virgin soil.


At noon, we hired a Kanaka to take us down to the ancient ruins at
Honaunan in his canoe--price two dollars--reasonable enough, for a sea
voyage of eight miles, counting both ways.

The native canoe is an irresponsible looking contrivance.  I cannot think
of anything to liken it to but a boy's sled runner hollowed out, and that
does not quite convey the correct idea.  It is about fifteen feet long,
high and pointed at both ends, is a foot and a half or two feet deep, and
so narrow that if you wedged a fat man into it you might not get him out
again.  It sits on top of the water like a duck, but it has an outrigger
and does not upset easily, if you keep still.  This outrigger is formed
of two long bent sticks like plow handles, which project from one side,
and to their outer ends is bound a curved beam composed of an extremely
light wood, which skims along the surface of the water and thus saves you
from an upset on that side, while the outrigger's weight is not so easily
lifted as to make an upset on the other side a thing to be greatly
feared.  Still, until one gets used to sitting perched upon this
knifeblade, he is apt to reason within himself that it would be more
comfortable if there were just an outrigger or so on the other side also.
I had the bow seat, and Billings sat amidships and faced the Kanaka, who
occupied the stern of the craft and did the paddling.  With the first
stroke the trim shell of a thing shot out from the shore like an arrow.
There was not much to see.  While we were on the shallow water of the
reef, it was pastime to look down into the limpid depths at the large
bunches of branching coral--the unique shrubbery of the sea.  We lost
that, though, when we got out into the dead blue water of the deep.
But we had the picture of the surf, then, dashing angrily against the
crag-bound shore and sending a foaming spray high into the air.

There was interest in this beetling border, too, for it was honey-combed
with quaint caves and arches and tunnels, and had a rude semblance of the
dilapidated architecture of ruined keeps and castles rising out of the
restless sea.  When this novelty ceased to be a novelty, we turned our
eyes shoreward and gazed at the long mountain with its rich green forests
stretching up into the curtaining clouds, and at the specks of houses in
the rearward distance and the diminished schooner riding sleepily at
anchor.  And when these grew tiresome we dashed boldly into the midst of
a school of huge, beastly porpoises engaged at their eternal game of
arching over a wave and disappearing, and then doing it over again and
keeping it up--always circling over, in that way, like so many
well-submerged wheels.  But the porpoises wheeled themselves away, and
then we were thrown upon our own resources.  It did not take many minutes
to discover that the sun was blazing like a bonfire, and that the weather
was of a melting temperature.  It had a drowsing effect, too. In one
place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and
all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing.
Each heathen would paddle three or four hundred yards out to sea, (taking
a short board with him), then face the shore and wait for a particularly
prodigious billow to come along; at the right moment he would fling his
board upon its foamy crest and himself upon the board, and here he would
come whizzing by like a bombshell!  It did not seem that a lightning
express train could shoot along at a more hair-lifting speed.  I tried
surf-bathing once, subsequently, but made a failure of it.  I got the
board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but missed the
connection myself.--The board struck the shore in three quarters of a
second, without any cargo, and I struck the bottom about the same time,
with a couple of barrels of water in me.  None but natives ever master
the art of surf-bathing thoroughly.

At the end of an hour, we had made the four miles, and landed on a level
point of land, upon which was a wide extent of old ruins, with many a
tall cocoanut tree growing among them.  Here was the ancient City of
Refuge--a vast inclosure, whose stone walls were twenty feet thick at the
base, and fifteen feet high; an oblong square, a thousand and forty feet
one way and a fraction under seven hundred the other.  Within this
inclosure, in early times, has been three rude temples; each two hundred
and ten feet long by one hundred wide, and thirteen high.

In those days, if a man killed another anywhere on the island the
relatives were privileged to take the murderer's life; and then a chase
for life and liberty began--the outlawed criminal flying through pathless
forests and over mountain and plain, with his hopes fixed upon the
protecting walls of the City of Refuge, and the avenger of blood
following hotly after him!

Sometimes the race was kept up to the very gates of the temple, and the
panting pair sped through long files of excited natives, who watched the
contest with flashing eye and dilated nostril, encouraging the hunted
refugee with sharp, inspiriting ejaculations, and sending up a ringing
shout of exultation when the saving gates closed upon him and the cheated
pursuer sank exhausted at the threshold.  But sometimes the flying
criminal fell under the hand of the avenger at the very door, when one
more brave stride, one more brief second of time would have brought his
feet upon the sacred ground and barred him against all harm.  Where did
these isolated pagans get this idea of a City of Refuge--this ancient
Oriental custom?

This old sanctuary was sacred to all--even to rebels in arms and invading
armies.  Once within its walls, and confession made to the priest and
absolution obtained, the wretch with a price upon his head could go forth
without fear and without danger--he was tabu, and to harm him was death.
The routed rebels in the lost battle for idolatry fled to this place to
claim sanctuary, and many were thus saved.

Close to the corner of the great inclosure is a round structure of stone,
some six or eight feet high, with a level top about ten or twelve in
diameter.  This was the place of execution.  A high palisade of cocoanut
piles shut out the cruel scenes from the vulgar multitude.  Here
criminals were killed, the flesh stripped from the bones and burned, and
the bones secreted in holes in the body of the structure.  If the man had
been guilty of a high crime, the entire corpse was burned.

The walls of the temple are a study.  The same food for speculation that
is offered the visitor to the Pyramids of Egypt he will find here--the
mystery of how they were constructed by a people unacquainted with
science and mechanics.  The natives have no invention of their own for
hoisting heavy weights, they had no beasts of burden, and they have never
even shown any knowledge of the properties of the lever.  Yet some of the
lava blocks quarried out, brought over rough, broken ground, and built
into this wall, six or seven feet from the ground, are of prodigious size
and would weigh tons.  How did they transport and how raise them?

Both the inner and outer surfaces of the walls present a smooth front and
are very creditable specimens of masonry.  The blocks are of all manner
of shapes and sizes, but yet are fitted together with the neatest
exactness.  The gradual narrowing of the wall from the base upward is
accurately preserved.

No cement was used, but the edifice is firm and compact and is capable of
resisting storm and decay for centuries.  Who built this temple, and how
was it built, and when, are mysteries that may never be unraveled.
Outside of these ancient walls lies a sort of coffin-shaped stone eleven
feet four inches long and three feet square at the small end (it would
weigh a few thousand pounds), which the high chief who held sway over
this district many centuries ago brought thither on his shoulder one day
to use as a lounge!  This circumstance is established by the most
reliable traditions.  He used to lie down on it, in his indolent way, and
keep an eye on his subjects at work for him and see that there was no
“soldiering” done.  And no doubt there was not any done to speak of,
because he was a man of that sort of build that incites to attention to
business on the part of an employee.

He was fourteen or fifteen feet high.  When he stretched himself at full
length on his lounge, his legs hung down over the end, and when he snored
he woke the dead.  These facts are all attested by irrefragable

On the other side of the temple is a monstrous seven-ton rock, eleven
feet long, seven feet wide and three feet thick.  It is raised a foot or
a foot and a half above the ground, and rests upon half a dozen little
stony pedestals.  The same old fourteen-footer brought it down from the
mountain, merely for fun (he had his own notions about fun), and propped
it up as we find it now and as others may find it a century hence, for it
would take a score of horses to budge it from its position.  They say
that fifty or sixty years ago the proud Queen Kaahumanu used to fly to
this rock for safety, whenever she had been making trouble with her
fierce husband, and hide under it until his wrath was appeased.  But
these Kanakas will lie, and this statement is one of their ablest
efforts--for Kaahumanu was six feet high--she was bulky--she was built
like an ox--and she could no more have squeezed herself under that rock
than she could have passed between the cylinders of a sugar mill.  What
could she gain by it, even if she succeeded?  To be chased and abused by
a savage husband could not be otherwise than humiliating to her high
spirit, yet it could never make her feel so flat as an hour's repose
under that rock would.

We walked a mile over a raised macadamized road of uniform width; a road
paved with flat stones and exhibiting in its every detail a considerable
degree of engineering skill.  Some say that that wise old pagan,
Kamehameha I planned and built it, but others say it was built so long
before his time that the knowledge of who constructed it has passed out
of the traditions.  In either case, however, as the handiwork of an
untaught and degraded race it is a thing of pleasing interest.  The
stones are worn and smooth, and pushed apart in places, so that the road
has the exact appearance of those ancient paved highways leading out of
Rome which one sees in pictures.

The object of our tramp was to visit a great natural curiosity at the
base of the foothills--a congealed cascade of lava.  Some old forgotten
volcanic eruption sent its broad river of fire down the mountain side
here, and it poured down in a great torrent from an overhanging bluff
some fifty feet high to the ground below.  The flaming torrent cooled in
the winds from the sea, and remains there to-day, all seamed, and frothed
and rippled a petrified Niagara.  It is very picturesque, and withal so
natural that one might almost imagine it still flowed.  A smaller stream
trickled over the cliff and built up an isolated pyramid about thirty
feet high, which has the semblance of a mass of large gnarled and knotted
vines and roots and stems intricately twisted and woven together.

We passed in behind the cascade and the pyramid, and found the bluff
pierced by several cavernous tunnels, whose crooked courses we followed a
long distance.

Two of these winding tunnels stand as proof of Nature's mining abilities.
Their floors are level, they are seven feet wide, and their roofs are
gently arched.  Their height is not uniform, however.  We passed through
one a hundred feet long, which leads through a spur of the hill and opens
out well up in the sheer wall of a precipice whose foot rests in the
waves of the sea.  It is a commodious tunnel, except that there are
occasional places in it where one must stoop to pass under.  The roof is
lava, of course, and is thickly studded with little lava-pointed icicles
an inch long, which hardened as they dripped.  They project as closely
together as the iron teeth of a corn-sheller, and if one will stand up
straight and walk any distance there, he can get his hair combed free of


We got back to the schooner in good time, and then sailed down to Kau,
where we disembarked and took final leave of the vessel.  Next day we
bought horses and bent our way over the summer-clad mountain-terraces,
toward the great volcano of Kilauea (Ke-low-way-ah).  We made nearly a
two days' journey of it, but that was on account of laziness.  Toward
sunset on the second day, we reached an elevation of some four thousand
feet above sea level, and as we picked our careful way through billowy
wastes of lava long generations ago stricken dead and cold in the climax
of its tossing fury, we began to come upon signs of the near presence of
the volcano--signs in the nature of ragged fissures that discharged jets
of sulphurous vapor into the air, hot from the molten ocean down in the
bowels of the mountain.

Shortly the crater came into view.  I have seen Vesuvius since, but it
was a mere toy, a child's volcano, a soup-kettle, compared to this.
Mount Vesuvius is a shapely cone thirty-six hundred feet high; its crater
an inverted cone only three hundred feet deep, and not more than a
thousand feet in diameter, if as much as that; its fires meagre, modest,
and docile.--But here was a vast, perpendicular, walled cellar, nine
hundred feet deep in some places, thirteen hundred in others,
level-floored, and ten miles in circumference!  Here was a yawning pit
upon whose floor the armies of Russia could camp, and have room to spare.

Perched upon the edge of the crater, at the opposite end from where we
stood, was a small look-out house--say three miles away.  It assisted us,
by comparison, to comprehend and appreciate the great depth of the basin
--it looked like a tiny martin-box clinging at the eaves of a cathedral.
After some little time spent in resting and looking and ciphering, we
hurried on to the hotel.

By the path it is half a mile from the Volcano House to the
lookout-house.  After a hearty supper we waited until it was thoroughly
dark and then started to the crater.  The first glance in that direction
revealed a scene of wild beauty.  There was a heavy fog over the crater
and it was splendidly illuminated by the glare from the fires below.  The
illumination was two miles wide and a mile high, perhaps; and if you
ever, on a dark night and at a distance beheld the light from thirty or
forty blocks of distant buildings all on fire at once, reflected strongly
against over-hanging clouds, you can form a fair idea of what this looked

A colossal column of cloud towered to a great height in the air
immediately above the crater, and the outer swell of every one of its
vast folds was dyed with a rich crimson luster, which was subdued to a
pale rose tint in the depressions between.  It glowed like a muffled
torch and stretched upward to a dizzy height toward the zenith.  I
thought it just possible that its like had not been seen since the
children of Israel wandered on their long march through the desert so
many centuries ago over a path illuminated by the mysterious “pillar of
fire.”  And I was sure that I now had a vivid conception of what the
majestic “pillar of fire” was like, which almost amounted to a

Arrived at the little thatched lookout house, we rested our elbows on the
railing in front and looked abroad over the wide crater and down over the
sheer precipice at the seething fires beneath us.  The view was a
startling improvement on my daylight experience.  I turned to see the
effect on the balance of the company and found the reddest-faced set of
men I almost ever saw.  In the strong light every countenance glowed like
red-hot iron, every shoulder was suffused with crimson and shaded
rearward into dingy, shapeless obscurity!  The place below looked like
the infernal regions and these men like half-cooled devils just come up
on a furlough.

I turned my eyes upon the volcano again.  The “cellar” was tolerably well
lighted up.  For a mile and a half in front of us and half a mile on
either side, the floor of the abyss was magnificently illuminated; beyond
these limits the mists hung down their gauzy curtains and cast a
deceptive gloom over all that made the twinkling fires in the remote
corners of the crater seem countless leagues removed--made them seem like
the camp-fires of a great army far away.  Here was room for the
imagination to work!  You could imagine those lights the width of a
continent away--and that hidden under the intervening darkness were
hills, and winding rivers, and weary wastes of plain and desert--and even
then the tremendous vista stretched on, and on, and on!--to the fires and
far beyond!  You could not compass it--it was the idea of eternity made
tangible--and the longest end of it made visible to the naked eye!

The greater part of the vast floor of the desert under us was as black as
ink, and apparently smooth and level; but over a mile square of it was
ringed and streaked and striped with a thousand branching streams of
liquid and gorgeously brilliant fire!  It looked like a colossal railroad
map of the State of Massachusetts done in chain lightning on a midnight
sky.  Imagine it--imagine a coal-black sky shivered into a tangled
net-work of angry fire!

Here and there were gleaming holes a hundred feet in diameter, broken in
the dark crust, and in them the melted lava--the color a dazzling white
just tinged with yellow--was boiling and surging furiously; and from
these holes branched numberless bright torrents in many directions, like
the spokes of a wheel, and kept a tolerably straight course for a while
and then swept round in huge rainbow curves, or made a long succession of
sharp worm-fence angles, which looked precisely like the fiercest jagged
lightning.  These streams met other streams, and they mingled with and
crossed and recrossed each other in every conceivable direction, like
skate tracks on a popular skating ground.  Sometimes streams twenty or
thirty feet wide flowed from the holes to some distance without dividing
--and through the opera-glasses we could see that they ran down small,
steep hills and were genuine cataracts of fire, white at their source,
but soon cooling and turning to the richest red, grained with alternate
lines of black and gold.  Every now and then masses of the dark crust
broke away and floated slowly down these streams like rafts down a river.
Occasionally the molten lava flowing under the superincumbent crust broke
through--split a dazzling streak, from five hundred to a thousand feet
long, like a sudden flash of lightning, and then acre after acre of the
cold lava parted into fragments, turned up edgewise like cakes of ice
when a great river breaks up, plunged downward and were swallowed in the
crimson cauldron.  Then the wide expanse of the “thaw” maintained a ruddy
glow for a while, but shortly cooled and became black and level again.
During a “thaw,” every dismembered cake was marked by a glittering white
border which was superbly shaded inward by aurora borealis rays, which
were a flaming yellow where they joined the white border, and from thence
toward their points tapered into glowing crimson, then into a rich, pale
carmine, and finally into a faint blush that held its own a moment and
then dimmed and turned black.  Some of the streams preferred to mingle
together in a tangle of fantastic circles, and then they looked something
like the confusion of ropes one sees on a ship's deck when she has just
taken in sail and dropped anchor--provided one can imagine those ropes on

Through the glasses, the little fountains scattered about looked very
beautiful.  They boiled, and coughed, and spluttered, and discharged
sprays of stringy red fire--of about the consistency of mush, for
instance--from ten to fifteen feet into the air, along with a shower of
brilliant white sparks--a quaint and unnatural mingling of gouts of blood
and snow-flakes!

We had circles and serpents and streaks of lightning all twined and
wreathed and tied together, without a break throughout an area more than
a mile square (that amount of ground was covered, though it was not
strictly “square”), and it was with a feeling of placid exultation that
we reflected that many years had elapsed since any visitor had seen such
a splendid display--since any visitor had seen anything more than the now
snubbed and insignificant “North” and “South” lakes in action.  We had
been reading old files of Hawaiian newspapers and the “Record Book” at
the Volcano House, and were posted.

I could see the North Lake lying out on the black floor away off in the
outer edge of our panorama, and knitted to it by a web-work of lava
streams.  In its individual capacity it looked very little more
respectable than a schoolhouse on fire.  True, it was about nine hundred
feet long and two or three hundred wide, but then, under the present
circumstances, it necessarily appeared rather insignificant, and besides
it was so distant from us.

I forgot to say that the noise made by the bubbling lava is not great,
heard as we heard it from our lofty perch.  It makes three distinct
sounds--a rushing, a hissing, and a coughing or puffing sound; and if you
stand on the brink and close your eyes it is no trick at all to imagine
that you are sweeping down a river on a large low-pressure steamer, and
that you hear the hissing of the steam about her boilers, the puffing
from her escape-pipes and the churning rush of the water abaft her
wheels.  The smell of sulphur is strong, but not unpleasant to a sinner.

We left the lookout house at ten o'clock in a half cooked condition,
because of the heat from Pele's furnaces, and wrapping up in blankets,
for the night was cold, we returned to our Hotel.


The next night was appointed for a visit to the bottom of the crater, for
we desired to traverse its floor and see the “North Lake” (of fire) which
lay two miles away, toward the further wall.  After dark half a dozen of
us set out, with lanterns and native guides, and climbed down a crazy,
thousand-foot pathway in a crevice fractured in the crater wall, and
reached the bottom in safety.

The irruption of the previous evening had spent its force and the floor
looked black and cold; but when we ran out upon it we found it hot yet,
to the feet, and it was likewise riven with crevices which revealed the
underlying fires gleaming vindictively.  A neighboring cauldron was
threatening to overflow, and this added to the dubiousness of the
situation.  So the native guides refused to continue the venture, and
then every body deserted except a stranger named Marlette.  He said he
had been in the crater a dozen times in daylight and believed he could
find his way through it at night.  He thought that a run of three hundred
yards would carry us over the hottest part of the floor and leave us our
shoe-soles.  His pluck gave me back-bone.  We took one lantern and
instructed the guides to hang the other to the roof of the look-out house
to serve as a beacon for us in case we got lost, and then the party
started back up the precipice and Marlette and I made our run.
We skipped over the hot floor and over the red crevices with brisk
dispatch and reached the cold lava safe but with pretty warm feet.  Then
we took things leisurely and comfortably, jumping tolerably wide and
probably bottomless chasms, and threading our way through picturesque
lava upheavals with considerable confidence.  When we got fairly away
from the cauldrons of boiling fire, we seemed to be in a gloomy desert,
and a suffocatingly dark one, surrounded by dim walls that seemed to
tower to the sky.  The only cheerful objects were the glinting stars high

By and by Marlette shouted “Stop!” I never stopped quicker in my life.
I asked what the matter was.  He said we were out of the path.  He said
we must not try to go on till we found it again, for we were surrounded
with beds of rotten lava through which we could easily break and plunge
down a thousand feet.  I thought eight hundred would answer for me, and
was about to say so when Marlette partly proved his statement by
accidentally crushing through and disappearing to his arm-pits.

He got out and we hunted for the path with the lantern.  He said there
was only one path and that it was but vaguely defined.  We could not find
it.  The lava surface was all alike in the lantern light.  But he was an
ingenious man.  He said it was not the lantern that had informed him that
we were out of the path, but his feet.  He had noticed a crisp grinding
of fine lava-needles under his feet, and some instinct reminded him that
in the path these were all worn away.  So he put the lantern behind him,
and began to search with his boots instead of his eyes.  It was good
sagacity.  The first time his foot touched a surface that did not grind
under it he announced that the trail was found again; and after that we
kept up a sharp listening for the rasping sound and it always warned us
in time.

It was a long tramp, but an exciting one.  We reached the North Lake
between ten and eleven o'clock, and sat down on a huge overhanging
lava-shelf, tired but satisfied.  The spectacle presented was worth
coming double the distance to see.  Under us, and stretching away before
us, was a heaving sea of molten fire of seemingly limitless extent.  The
glare from it was so blinding that it was some time before we could bear
to look upon it steadily.

It was like gazing at the sun at noon-day, except that the glare was not
quite so white.  At unequal distances all around the shores of the lake
were nearly white-hot chimneys or hollow drums of lava, four or five feet
high, and up through them were bursting gorgeous sprays of lava-gouts and
gem spangles, some white, some red and some golden--a ceaseless
bombardment, and one that fascinated the eye with its unapproachable
splendor.  The mere distant jets, sparkling up through an intervening
gossamer veil of vapor, seemed miles away; and the further the curving
ranks of fiery fountains receded, the more fairy-like and beautiful they

Now and then the surging bosom of the lake under our noses would calm
down ominously and seem to be gathering strength for an enterprise; and
then all of a sudden a red dome of lava of the bulk of an ordinary
dwelling would heave itself aloft like an escaping balloon, then burst
asunder, and out of its heart would flit a pale-green film of vapor, and
float upward and vanish in the darkness--a released soul soaring homeward
from captivity with the damned, no doubt.  The crashing plunge of the
ruined dome into the lake again would send a world of seething billows
lashing against the shores and shaking the foundations of our perch.  By
and by, a loosened mass of the hanging shelf we sat on tumbled into the
lake, jarring the surroundings like an earthquake and delivering a
suggestion that may have been intended for a hint, and may not.  We did
not wait to see.

We got lost again on our way back, and were more than an hour hunting for
the path.  We were where we could see the beacon lantern at the look-out
house at the time, but thought it was a star and paid no attention to it.
We reached the hotel at two o'clock in the morning pretty well fagged

Kilauea never overflows its vast crater, but bursts a passage for its
lava through the mountain side when relief is necessary, and then the
destruction is fearful.  About 1840 it rent its overburdened stomach and
sent a broad river of fire careering down to the sea, which swept away
forests, huts, plantations and every thing else that lay in its path.
The stream was five miles broad, in places, and two hundred feet deep,
and the distance it traveled was forty miles.  It tore up and bore away
acre-patches of land on its bosom like rafts--rocks, trees and all
intact.  At night the red glare was visible a hundred miles at sea; and
at a distance of forty miles fine print could be read at midnight.  The
atmosphere was poisoned with sulphurous vapors and choked with falling
ashes, pumice stones and cinders; countless columns of smoke rose up and
blended together in a tumbled canopy that hid the heavens and glowed with
a ruddy flush reflected from the fires below; here and there jets of lava
sprung hundreds of feet into the air and burst into rocket-sprays that
returned to earth in a crimson rain; and all the while the laboring
mountain shook with Nature's great palsy and voiced its distress in
moanings and the muffled booming of subterranean thunders.

Fishes were killed for twenty miles along the shore, where the lava
entered the sea.  The earthquakes caused some loss of human life, and a
prodigious tidal wave swept inland, carrying every thing before it and
drowning a number of natives.  The devastation consummated along the
route traversed by the river of lava was complete and incalculable.  Only
a Pompeii and a Herculaneum were needed at the foot of Kilauea to make
the story of the irruption immortal.


We rode horseback all around the island of Hawaii (the crooked road
making the distance two hundred miles), and enjoyed the journey very
much.  We were more than a week making the trip, because our Kanaka
horses would not go by a house or a hut without stopping--whip and spur
could not alter their minds about it, and so we finally found that it
economized time to let them have their way.  Upon inquiry the mystery was
explained: the natives are such thorough-going gossips that they never
pass a house without stopping to swap news, and consequently their horses
learn to regard that sort of thing as an essential part of the whole duty
of man, and his salvation not to be compassed without it.  However, at a
former crisis of my life I had once taken an aristocratic young lady out
driving, behind a horse that had just retired from a long and honorable
career as the moving impulse of a milk wagon, and so this present
experience awoke a reminiscent sadness in me in place of the exasperation
more natural to the occasion.  I remembered how helpless I was that day,
and how humiliated; how ashamed I was of having intimated to the girl
that I had always owned the horse and was accustomed to grandeur; how
hard I tried to appear easy, and even vivacious, under suffering that was
consuming my vitals; how placidly and maliciously the girl smiled, and
kept on smiling, while my hot blushes baked themselves into a permanent
blood-pudding in my face; how the horse ambled from one side of the
street to the other and waited complacently before every third house two
minutes and a quarter while I belabored his back and reviled him in my
heart; how I tried to keep him from turning corners and failed; how I
moved heaven and earth to get him out of town, and did not succeed; how
he traversed the entire settlement and delivered imaginary milk at a
hundred and sixty-two different domiciles, and how he finally brought up
at a dairy depot and refused to budge further, thus rounding and
completing the revealment of what the plebeian service of his life had
been; how, in eloquent silence, I walked the girl home, and how, when I
took leave of her, her parting remark scorched my soul and appeared to
blister me all over: she said that my horse was a fine, capable animal,
and I must have taken great comfort in him in my time--but that if I
would take along some milk-tickets next time, and appear to deliver them
at the various halting places, it might expedite his movements a little.
There was a coolness between us after that.

In one place in the island of Hawaii, we saw a laced and ruffled cataract
of limpid water leaping from a sheer precipice fifteen hundred feet high;
but that sort of scenery finds its stanchest ally in the arithmetic
rather than in spectacular effect.  If one desires to be so stirred by a
poem of Nature wrought in the happily commingled graces of picturesque
rocks, glimpsed distances, foliage, color, shifting lights and shadows,
and failing water, that the tears almost come into his eyes so potent is
the charm exerted, he need not go away from America to enjoy such an
experience.  The Rainbow Fall, in Watkins Glen (N.Y.), on the Erie
railway, is an example.  It would recede into pitiable insignificance if
the callous tourist drew on arithmetic on it; but left to compete for the
honors simply on scenic grace and beauty--the grand, the august and the
sublime being barred the contest--it could challenge the old world and
the new to produce its peer.

In one locality, on our journey, we saw some horses that had been born
and reared on top of the mountains, above the range of running water, and
consequently they had never drank that fluid in their lives, but had been
always accustomed to quenching their thirst by eating dew-laden or
shower-wetted leaves.  And now it was destructively funny to see them
sniff suspiciously at a pail of water, and then put in their noses and
try to take a bite out of the fluid, as if it were a solid.  Finding it
liquid, they would snatch away their heads and fall to trembling,
snorting and showing other evidences of fright.  When they became
convinced at last that the water was friendly and harmless, they thrust
in their noses up to their eyes, brought out a mouthful of water, and
proceeded to chew it complacently.  We saw a man coax, kick and spur one
of them five or ten minutes before he could make it cross a running
stream.  It spread its nostrils, distended its eyes and trembled all
over, just as horses customarily do in the presence of a serpent--and for
aught I know it thought the crawling stream was a serpent.

In due course of time our journey came to an end at Kawaehae (usually
pronounced To-a-hi--and before we find fault with this elaborate
orthographical method of arriving at such an unostentatious result, let
us lop off the ugh from our word “though”).  I made this horseback trip
on a mule.  I paid ten dollars for him at Kau (Kah-oo), added four to get
him shod, rode him two hundred miles, and then sold him for fifteen
dollars.  I mark the circumstance with a white stone (in the absence of
chalk--for I never saw a white stone that a body could mark anything
with, though out of respect for the ancients I have tried it often
enough); for up to that day and date it was the first strictly commercial
transaction I had ever entered into, and come out winner.  We returned to
Honolulu, and from thence sailed to the island of Maui, and spent several
weeks there very pleasantly.  I still remember, with a sense of indolent
luxury, a picnicing excursion up a romantic gorge there, called the Iao
Valley.  The trail lay along the edge of a brawling stream in the bottom
of the gorge--a shady route, for it was well roofed with the verdant
domes of forest trees.  Through openings in the foliage we glimpsed
picturesque scenery that revealed ceaseless changes and new charms with
every step of our progress.  Perpendicular walls from one to three
thousand feet high guarded the way, and were sumptuously plumed with
varied foliage, in places, and in places swathed in waving ferns.
Passing shreds of cloud trailed their shadows across these shining
fronts, mottling them with blots; billowy masses of white vapor hid the
turreted summits, and far above the vapor swelled a background of
gleaming green crags and cones that came and went, through the veiling
mists, like islands drifting in a fog; sometimes the cloudy curtain
descended till half the canon wall was hidden, then shredded gradually
away till only airy glimpses of the ferny front appeared through it--then
swept aloft and left it glorified in the sun again.  Now and then, as our
position changed, rocky bastions swung out from the wall, a mimic ruin of
castellated ramparts and crumbling towers clothed with mosses and hung
with garlands of swaying vines, and as we moved on they swung back again
and hid themselves once more in the foliage.  Presently a verdure-clad
needle of stone, a thousand feet high, stepped out from behind a corner,
and mounted guard over the mysteries of the valley.  It seemed to me that
if Captain Cook needed a monument, here was one ready made--therefore,
why not put up his sign here, and sell out the venerable cocoanut stump?

But the chief pride of Maui is her dead volcano of Haleakala--which
means, translated, “the house of the sun.”  We climbed a thousand feet up
the side of this isolated colossus one afternoon; then camped, and next
day climbed the remaining nine thousand feet, and anchored on the summit,
where we built a fire and froze and roasted by turns, all night.  With
the first pallor of dawn we got up and saw things that were new to us.
Mounted on a commanding pinnacle, we watched Nature work her silent
wonders.  The sea was spread abroad on every hand, its tumbled surface
seeming only wrinkled and dimpled in the distance.  A broad valley below
appeared like an ample checker-board, its velvety green sugar plantations
alternating with dun squares of barrenness and groves of trees diminished
to mossy tufts.  Beyond the valley were mountains picturesquely grouped
together; but bear in mind, we fancied that we were looking up at these
things--not down.  We seemed to sit in the bottom of a symmetrical bowl
ten thousand feet deep, with the valley and the skirting sea lifted away
into the sky above us!  It was curious; and not only curious, but
aggravating; for it was having our trouble all for nothing, to climb ten
thousand feet toward heaven and then have to look up at our scenery.
However, we had to be content with it and make the best of it; for, all
we could do we could not coax our landscape down out of the clouds.
Formerly, when I had read an article in which Poe treated of this
singular fraud perpetrated upon the eye by isolated great altitudes,
I had looked upon the matter as an invention of his own fancy.

I have spoken of the outside view--but we had an inside one, too.  That
was the yawning dead crater, into which we now and then tumbled rocks,
half as large as a barrel, from our perch, and saw them go careering down
the almost perpendicular sides, bounding three hundred feet at a jump;
kicking up cast-clouds wherever they struck; diminishing to our view as
they sped farther into distance; growing invisible, finally, and only
betraying their course by faint little puffs of dust; and coming to a
halt at last in the bottom of the abyss, two thousand five hundred feet
down from where they started!  It was magnificent sport.  We wore
ourselves out at it.

The crater of Vesuvius, as I have before remarked, is a modest pit about
a thousand feet deep and three thousand in circumference; that of Kilauea
is somewhat deeper, and ten miles in circumference.  But what are either
of them compared to the vacant stomach of Haleakala?  I will not offer
any figures of my own, but give official ones--those of Commander Wilkes,
U.S.N., who surveyed it and testifies that it is twenty-seven miles in
circumference!  If it had a level bottom it would make a fine site for a
city like London.  It must have afforded a spectacle worth contemplating
in the old days when its furnaces gave full rein to their anger.

Presently vagrant white clouds came drifting along, high over the sea and
the valley; then they came in couples and groups; then in imposing
squadrons; gradually joining their forces, they banked themselves solidly
together, a thousand feet under us, and totally shut out land and ocean
--not a vestige of anything was left in view but just a little of the rim
of the crater, circling away from the pinnacle whereon we sat (for a
ghostly procession of wanderers from the filmy hosts without had drifted
through a chasm in the crater wall and filed round and round, and
gathered and sunk and blended together till the abyss was stored to the
brim with a fleecy fog).  Thus banked, motion ceased, and silence
reigned.  Clear to the horizon, league on league, the snowy floor
stretched without a break--not level, but in rounded folds, with shallow
creases between, and with here and there stately piles of vapory
architecture lifting themselves aloft out of the common plain--some near
at hand, some in the middle distances, and others relieving the monotony
of the remote solitudes.  There was little conversation, for the
impressive scene overawed speech.  I felt like the Last Man, neglected of
the judgment, and left pinnacled in mid-heaven, a forgotten relic of a
vanished world.

While the hush yet brooded, the messengers of the coming resurrection
appeared in the East.  A growing warmth suffused the horizon, and soon
the sun emerged and looked out over the cloud-waste, flinging bars of
ruddy light across it, staining its folds and billow-caps with blushes,
purpling the shaded troughs between, and glorifying the massy
vapor-palaces and cathedrals with a wasteful splendor of all blendings
and combinations of rich coloring.

It was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think the memory
of it will remain with me always.


I stumbled upon one curious character in the Island of Maui.  He became a
sore annoyance to me in the course of time.  My first glimpse of him was
in a sort of public room in the town of Lahaina.  He occupied a chair at
the opposite side of the apartment, and sat eyeing our party with
interest for some minutes, and listening as critically to what we were
saying as if he fancied we were talking to him and expecting him to
reply.  I thought it very sociable in a stranger.  Presently, in the
course of conversation, I made a statement bearing upon the subject under
discussion--and I made it with due modesty, for there was nothing
extraordinary about it, and it was only put forth in illustration of a
point at issue.  I had barely finished when this person spoke out with
rapid utterance and feverish anxiety:

“Oh, that was certainly remarkable, after a fashion, but you ought to
have seen my chimney--you ought to have seen my chimney, sir!  Smoke!
I wish I may hang if--Mr. Jones, you remember that chimney--you must
remember that chimney!  No, no--I recollect, now, you warn't living on
this side of the island then.  But I am telling you nothing but the
truth, and I wish I may never draw another breath if that chimney didn't
smoke so that the smoke actually got caked in it and I had to dig it out
with a pickaxe!  You may smile, gentlemen, but the High Sheriff's got a
hunk of it which I dug out before his eyes, and so it's perfectly easy
for you to go and examine for yourselves.”

The interruption broke up the conversation, which had already begun to
lag, and we presently hired some natives and an out-rigger canoe or two,
and went out to overlook a grand surf-bathing contest.

Two weeks after this, while talking in a company, I looked up and
detected this same man boring through and through me with his intense
eye, and noted again his twitching muscles and his feverish anxiety to
speak.  The moment I paused, he said:

“Beg your pardon, sir, beg your pardon, but it can only be considered
remarkable when brought into strong outline by isolation.  Sir,
contrasted with a circumstance which occurred in my own experience, it
instantly becomes commonplace.  No, not that--for I will not speak so
discourteously of any experience in the career of a stranger and a
gentleman--but I am obliged to say that you could not, and you would not
ever again refer to this tree as a large one, if you could behold, as I
have, the great Yakmatack tree, in the island of Ounaska, sea of
Kamtchatka--a tree, sir, not one inch less than four hundred and fifteen
feet in solid diameter!--and I wish I may die in a minute if it isn't so!
Oh, you needn't look so questioning, gentlemen; here's old Cap Saltmarsh
can say whether I know what I'm talking about or not.  I showed him the

Captain Saltmarsh--“Come, now, cat your anchor, lad--you're heaving too
taut.  You promised to show me that stunner, and I walked more than
eleven mile with you through the cussedest jungle I ever see, a hunting
for it; but the tree you showed me finally warn't as big around as a beer
cask, and you know that your own self, Markiss.”

“Hear the man talk!  Of course the tree was reduced that way, but didn't
I explain it?  Answer me, didn't I?  Didn't I say I wished you could have
seen it when I first saw it?  When you got up on your ear and called me
names, and said I had brought you eleven miles to look at a sapling,
didn't I explain to you that all the whale-ships in the North Seas had
been wooding off of it for more than twenty-seven years?  And did you
s'pose the tree could last for-ever, con-found it?  I don't see why you
want to keep back things that way, and try to injure a person that's
never done you any harm.”

Somehow this man's presence made me uncomfortable, and I was glad when a
native arrived at that moment to say that Muckawow, the most
companionable and luxurious among the rude war-chiefs of the Islands,
desired us to come over and help him enjoy a missionary whom he had found
trespassing on his grounds.

I think it was about ten days afterward that, as I finished a statement I
was making for the instruction of a group of friends and acquaintances,
and which made no pretence of being extraordinary, a familiar voice
chimed instantly in on the heels of my last word, and said:

“But, my dear sir, there was nothing remarkable about that horse, or the
circumstance either--nothing in the world!  I mean no sort of offence
when I say it, sir, but you really do not know anything whatever about
speed.  Bless your heart, if you could only have seen my mare Margaretta;
there was a beast!--there was lightning for you!  Trot!  Trot is no name
for it--she flew!  How she could whirl a buggy along!  I started her out
once, sir--Colonel Bilgewater, you recollect that animal perfectly well
--I started her out about thirty or thirty-five yards ahead of the
awfullest storm I ever saw in my life, and it chased us upwards of
eighteen miles!  It did, by the everlasting hills!  And I'm telling you
nothing but the unvarnished truth when I say that not one single drop of
rain fell on me--not a single drop, sir!  And I swear to it!  But my dog
was a-swimming behind the wagon all the way!”

For a week or two I stayed mostly within doors, for I seemed to meet this
person everywhere, and he had become utterly hateful to me.  But one
evening I dropped in on Captain Perkins and his friends, and we had a
sociable time.  About ten o'clock I chanced to be talking about a
merchant friend of mine, and without really intending it, the remark
slipped out that he was a little mean and parsimonious about paying his
workmen.  Instantly, through the steam of a hot whiskey punch on the
opposite side of the room, a remembered voice shot--and for a moment I
trembled on the imminent verge of profanity:

“Oh, my dear sir, really you expose yourself when you parade that as a
surprising circumstance.  Bless your heart and hide, you are ignorant of
the very A B C of meanness! ignorant as the unborn babe! ignorant as
unborn twins!  You don't know anything about it!  It is pitiable to see
you, sir, a well-spoken and prepossessing stranger, making such an
enormous pow-wow here about a subject concerning which your ignorance is
perfectly humiliating!  Look me in the eye, if you please; look me in the
eye.  John James Godfrey was the son of poor but honest parents in the
State of Mississippi--boyhood friend of mine--bosom comrade in later
years.  Heaven rest his noble spirit, he is gone from us now.  John James
Godfrey was hired by the Hayblossom Mining Company in California to do
some blasting for them--the “Incorporated Company of Mean Men,” the boys
used to call it.

“Well, one day he drilled a hole about four feet deep and put in an awful
blast of powder, and was standing over it ramming it down with an iron
crowbar about nine foot long, when the cussed thing struck a spark and
fired the powder, and scat! away John Godfrey whizzed like a skyrocket,
him and his crowbar!  Well, sir, he kept on going up in the air higher
and higher, till he didn't look any bigger than a boy--and he kept going
on up higher and higher, till he didn't look any bigger than a doll--and
he kept on going up higher and higher, till he didn't look any bigger
than a little small bee--and then he went out of sight!  Presently he
came in sight again, looking like a little small bee--and he came along
down further and further, till he looked as big as a doll again--and down
further and further, till he was as big as a boy again--and further and
further, till he was a full-sized man once more; and then him and his
crowbar came a wh-izzing down and lit right exactly in the same old
tracks and went to r-ramming down, and r-ramming down, and r-ramming down
again, just the same as if nothing had happened!  Now do you know, that
poor cuss warn't gone only sixteen minutes, and yet that Incorporated

I said I had the headache, and so excused myself and went home.  And on
my diary I entered “another night spoiled” by this offensive loafer.
And a fervent curse was set down with it to keep the item company.  And
the very next day I packed up, out of all patience, and left the Island.

Almost from the very beginning, I regarded that man as a liar.

The line of points represents an interval of years.  At the end of which
time the opinion hazarded in that last sentence came to be gratifyingly
and remarkably endorsed, and by wholly disinterested persons.  The man
Markiss was found one morning hanging to a beam of his own bedroom (the
doors and windows securely fastened on the inside), dead; and on his
breast was pinned a paper in his own handwriting begging his friends to
suspect no innocent person of having any thing to do with his death, for
that it was the work of his own hands entirely.  Yet the jury brought in
the astounding verdict that deceased came to his death “by the hands of
some person or persons unknown!”  They explained that the perfectly
undeviating consistency of Markiss's character for thirty years towered
aloft as colossal and indestructible testimony, that whatever statement
he chose to make was entitled to instant and unquestioning acceptance as
a lie.  And they furthermore stated their belief that he was not dead,
and instanced the strong circumstantial evidence of his own word that he
was dead--and beseeched the coroner to delay the funeral as long as
possible, which was done.  And so in the tropical climate of Lahaina the
coffin stood open for seven days, and then even the loyal jury gave him
up.  But they sat on him again, and changed their verdict to “suicide
induced by mental aberration”--because, said they, with penetration, “he
said he was dead, and he was dead; and would he have told the truth if he
had been in his right mind?  No, sir.”


After half a year's luxurious vagrancy in the islands, I took shipping in
a sailing vessel, and regretfully returned to San Francisco--a voyage in
every way delightful, but without an incident: unless lying two long
weeks in a dead calm, eighteen hundred miles from the nearest land, may
rank as an incident.  Schools of whales grew so tame that day after day
they played about the ship among the porpoises and the sharks without the
least apparent fear of us, and we pelted them with empty bottles for lack
of better sport.  Twenty-four hours afterward these bottles would be
still lying on the glassy water under our noses, showing that the ship
had not moved out of her place in all that time.  The calm was absolutely
breathless, and the surface of the sea absolutely without a wrinkle.
For a whole day and part of a night we lay so close to another ship that
had drifted to our vicinity, that we carried on conversations with her
passengers, introduced each other by name, and became pretty intimately
acquainted with people we had never heard of before, and have never heard
of since.  This was the only vessel we saw during the whole lonely
voyage.  We had fifteen passengers, and to show how hard pressed they
were at last for occupation and amusement, I will mention that the
gentlemen gave a good part of their time every day, during the calm, to
trying to sit on an empty champagne bottle (lying on its side), and
thread a needle without touching their heels to the deck, or falling
over; and the ladies sat in the shade of the mainsail, and watched the
enterprise with absorbing interest.  We were at sea five Sundays; and
yet, but for the almanac, we never would have known but that all the
other days were Sundays too.

I was home again, in San Francisco, without means and without employment.
I tortured my brain for a saving scheme of some kind, and at last a
public lecture occurred to me!  I sat down and wrote one, in a fever of
hopeful anticipation.  I showed it to several friends, but they all shook
their heads.  They said nobody would come to hear me, and I would make a
humiliating failure of it.

They said that as I had never spoken in public, I would break down in the
delivery, anyhow.  I was disconsolate now.  But at last an editor slapped
me on the back and told me to “go ahead.”  He said, “Take the largest
house in town, and charge a dollar a ticket.”  The audacity of the
proposition was charming; it seemed fraught with practical worldly
wisdom, however.  The proprietor of the several theatres endorsed the
advice, and said I might have his handsome new opera-house at half price
--fifty dollars.  In sheer desperation I took it--on credit, for
sufficient reasons.  In three days I did a hundred and fifty dollars'
worth of printing and advertising, and was the most distressed and
frightened creature on the Pacific coast.  I could not sleep--who could,
under such circumstances?  For other people there was facetiousness in
the last line of my posters, but to me it was plaintive with a pang when
I wrote it:

           “Doors open at 7 1/2.  The trouble will begin at 8.”

That line has done good service since.  Showmen have borrowed it
frequently.  I have even seen it appended to a newspaper advertisement
reminding school pupils in vacation what time next term would begin.  As
those three days of suspense dragged by, I grew more and more unhappy.
I had sold two hundred tickets among my personal friends, but I feared
they might not come.  My lecture, which had seemed “humorous” to me, at
first, grew steadily more and more dreary, till not a vestige of fun
seemed left, and I grieved that I could not bring a coffin on the stage
and turn the thing into a funeral.  I was so panic-stricken, at last,
that I went to three old friends, giants in stature, cordial by nature,
and stormy-voiced, and said:

“This thing is going to be a failure; the jokes in it are so dim that
nobody will ever see them; I would like to have you sit in the parquette,
and help me through.”

They said they would.  Then I went to the wife of a popular citizen, and
said that if she was willing to do me a very great kindness, I would be
glad if she and her husband would sit prominently in the left-hand
stage-box, where the whole house could see them.  I explained that I
should need help, and would turn toward her and smile, as a signal, when
I had been delivered of an obscure joke--“and then,” I added, “don't wait
to investigate, but respond!”

She promised.  Down the street I met a man I never had seen before.  He
had been drinking, and was beaming with smiles and good nature.  He said:

“My name's Sawyer.  You don't know me, but that don't matter.  I haven't
got a cent, but if you knew how bad I wanted to laugh, you'd give me a
ticket.  Come, now, what do you say?”

“Is your laugh hung on a hair-trigger?--that is, is it critical, or can
you get it off easy?”

My drawling infirmity of speech so affected him that he laughed a
specimen or two that struck me as being about the article I wanted, and I
gave him a ticket, and appointed him to sit in the second circle, in the
centre, and be responsible for that division of the house.  I gave him
minute instructions about how to detect indistinct jokes, and then went
away, and left him chuckling placidly over the novelty of the idea.

I ate nothing on the last of the three eventful days--I only suffered.
I had advertised that on this third day the box-office would be opened
for the sale of reserved seats.  I crept down to the theater at four in
the afternoon to see if any sales had been made.  The ticket seller was
gone, the box-office was locked up.  I had to swallow suddenly, or my
heart would have got out.  “No sales,” I said to myself; “I might have
known it.”  I thought of suicide, pretended illness, flight.  I thought
of these things in earnest, for I was very miserable and scared.  But of
course I had to drive them away, and prepare to meet my fate.  I could
not wait for half-past seven--I wanted to face the horror, and end it
--the feeling of many a man doomed to hang, no doubt.  I went down back
streets at six o'clock, and entered the theatre by the back door.
I stumbled my way in the dark among the ranks of canvas scenery, and
stood on the stage.  The house was gloomy and silent, and its emptiness
depressing.  I went into the dark among the scenes again, and for an hour
and a half gave myself up to the horrors, wholly unconscious of
everything else.  Then I heard a murmur; it rose higher and higher, and
ended in a crash, mingled with cheers.  It made my hair raise, it was so
close to me, and so loud.

There was a pause, and then another; presently came a third, and before I
well knew what I was about, I was in the middle of the stage, staring at
a sea of faces, bewildered by the fierce glare of the lights, and quaking
in every limb with a terror that seemed like to take my life away.  The
house was full, aisles and all!

The tumult in my heart and brain and legs continued a full minute before
I could gain any command over myself.  Then I recognized the charity and
the friendliness in the faces before me, and little by little my fright
melted away, and I began to walk. Within three or four minutes I was
comfortable, and even content.  My three chief allies, with three
auxiliaries, were on hand, in the parquette, all sitting together, all
armed with bludgeons, and all ready to make an onslaught upon the
feeblest joke that might show its head.  And whenever a joke did fall,
their bludgeons came down and their faces seemed to split from ear to

Sawyer, whose hearty countenance was seen looming redly in the centre of
the second circle, took it up, and the house was carried handsomely.
Inferior jokes never fared so royally before.  Presently I delivered a
bit of serious matter with impressive unction (it was my pet), and the
audience listened with an absorbed hush that gratified me more than any
applause; and as I dropped the last word of the clause, I happened to
turn and catch Mrs.--'s intent and waiting eye; my conversation with her
flashed upon me, and in spite of all I could do I smiled.  She took it
for the signal, and promptly delivered a mellow laugh that touched off
the whole audience; and the explosion that followed was the triumph of
the evening.  I thought that that honest man Sawyer would choke himself;
and as for the bludgeons, they performed like pile-drivers.  But my poor
little morsel of pathos was ruined.  It was taken in good faith as an
intentional joke, and the prize one of the entertainment, and I wisely
let it go at that.

All the papers were kind in the morning; my appetite returned; I had a
abundance of money.  All's well that ends well.


I launched out as a lecturer, now, with great boldness.  I had the field
all to myself, for public lectures were almost an unknown commodity in
the Pacific market.  They are not so rare, now, I suppose.  I took an old
personal friend along to play agent for me, and for two or three weeks we
roamed through Nevada and California and had a very cheerful time of it.
Two days before I lectured in Virginia City, two stagecoaches were robbed
within two miles of the town.  The daring act was committed just at dawn,
by six masked men, who sprang up alongside the coaches, presented
revolvers at the heads of the drivers and passengers, and commanded a
general dismount.  Everybody climbed down, and the robbers took their
watches and every cent they had.  Then they took gunpowder and blew up
the express specie boxes and got their contents.  The leader of the
robbers was a small, quick-spoken man, and the fame of his vigorous
manner and his intrepidity was in everybody's mouth when we arrived.

The night after instructing Virginia, I walked over the desolate “divide”
 and down to Gold Hill, and lectured there.  The lecture done, I stopped
to talk with a friend, and did not start back till eleven.  The “divide”
 was high, unoccupied ground, between the towns, the scene of twenty
midnight murders and a hundred robberies.  As we climbed up and stepped
out on this eminence, the Gold Hill lights dropped out of sight at our
backs, and the night closed down gloomy and dismal.  A sharp wind swept
the place, too, and chilled our perspiring bodies through.

“I tell you I don't like this place at night,” said Mike the agent.

“Well, don't speak so loud,” I said.  “You needn't remind anybody that we
are here.”

Just then a dim figure approached me from the direction of Virginia--a
man, evidently.  He came straight at me, and I stepped aside to let him
pass; he stepped in the way and confronted me again.  Then I saw that he
had a mask on and was holding something in my face--I heard a click-click
and recognized a revolver in dim outline.  I pushed the barrel aside with
my hand and said:


He ejaculated sharply:

“Your watch!  Your money!”

I said:

“You can have them with pleasure--but take the pistol away from my face,
please.  It makes me shiver.”

“No remarks!  Hand out your money!”


“Put up your hands!  Don't you go for a weapon!  Put 'em up!  Higher!”

I held them above my head.

A pause.  Then:

“Are you going to hand out your money or not?”

I dropped my hands to my pockets and said:

“Certainly!  I--”

“Put up your hands!  Do you want your head blown off?  Higher!”

I put them above my head again.

Another pause.

“Are you going to hand out your money or not?  Ah-ah--again?  Put up your
hands!  By George, you want the head shot off you awful bad!”

“Well, friend, I'm trying my best to please you.  You tell me to give up
my money, and when I reach for it you tell me to put up my hands.  If you
would only--.  Oh, now--don't!  All six of you at me!  That other man
will get away while.--Now please take some of those revolvers out of my
face--do, if you please!  Every time one of them clicks, my liver comes
up into my throat!  If you have a mother--any of you--or if any of you
have ever had a mother--or a--grandmother--or a--”

“Cheese it!  Will you give up your money, or have we got to--.  There
--there--none of that!  Put up your hands!”

“Gentlemen--I know you are gentlemen by your--”

“Silence!  If you want to be facetious, young man, there are times and
places more fitting.  This is a serious business.”

“You prick the marrow of my opinion.  The funerals I have attended in my
time were comedies compared to it.  Now I think--”

“Curse your palaver!  Your money!--your money!--your money!  Hold!--put
up your hands!”

“Gentlemen, listen to reason.  You see how I am situated--now don't put
those pistols so close--I smell the powder.

“You see how I am situated.  If I had four hands--so that I could hold up
two and--”

“Throttle him!  Gag him!  Kill him!”

“Gentlemen, don't!  Nobody's watching the other fellow.  Why don't some
of you--.  Ouch!  Take it away, please!

“Gentlemen, you see that I've got to hold up my hands; and so I can't take
out my money--but if you'll be so kind as to take it out for me, I will
do as much for you some--”

“Search him Beauregard--and stop his jaw with a bullet, quick, if he wags
it again.  Help Beauregard, Stonewall.”

Then three of them, with the small, spry leader, adjourned to Mike and
fell to searching him.  I was so excited that my lawless fancy tortured
me to ask my two men all manner of facetious questions about their rebel
brother-generals of the South, but, considering the order they had
received, it was but common prudence to keep still.  When everything had
been taken from me,--watch, money, and a multitude of trifles of small
value,--I supposed I was free, and forthwith put my cold hands into my
empty pockets and began an inoffensive jig to warm my feet and stir up
some latent courage--but instantly all pistols were at my head, and the
order came again:

They stood Mike up alongside of me, with strict orders to keep his hands
above his head, too, and then the chief highwayman said:

“Beauregard, hide behind that boulder; Phil Sheridan, you hide behind
that other one; Stonewall Jackson, put yourself behind that sage-bush
there.  Keep your pistols bearing on these fellows, and if they take down
their hands within ten minutes, or move a single peg, let them have it!”

Then three disappeared in the gloom toward the several ambushes, and the
other three disappeared down the road toward Virginia.

It was depressingly still, and miserably cold.  Now this whole thing was
a practical joke, and the robbers were personal friends of ours in
disguise, and twenty more lay hidden within ten feet of us during the
whole operation, listening.  Mike knew all this, and was in the joke, but
I suspected nothing of it.  To me it was most uncomfortably genuine.
When we had stood there in the middle of the road five minutes, like a
couple of idiots, with our hands aloft, freezing to death by inches,
Mike's interest in the joke began to wane.  He said:

“The time's up, now, aint it?”

“No, you keep still.  Do you want to take any chances with these bloody

Presently Mike said:

“Now the time's up, anyway.  I'm freezing.”

“Well freeze.  Better freeze than carry your brains home in a basket.
Maybe the time is up, but how do we know?--got no watch to tell by.
I mean to give them good measure.  I calculate to stand here fifteen
minutes or die.  Don't you move.”

So, without knowing it, I was making one joker very sick of his contract.
When we took our arms down at last, they were aching with cold and
fatigue, and when we went sneaking off, the dread I was in that the time
might not yet be up and that we would feel bullets in a moment, was not
sufficient to draw all my attention from the misery that racked my
stiffened body.

The joke of these highwayman friends of ours was mainly a joke upon
themselves; for they had waited for me on the cold hill-top two full
hours before I came, and there was very little fun in that; they were so
chilled that it took them a couple of weeks to get warm again.  Moreover,
I never had a thought that they would kill me to get money which it was
so perfectly easy to get without any such folly, and so they did not
really frighten me bad enough to make their enjoyment worth the trouble
they had taken.  I was only afraid that their weapons would go off
accidentally.  Their very numbers inspired me with confidence that no
blood would be intentionally spilled.  They were not smart; they ought to
have sent only one highwayman, with a double-barrelled shot gun, if they
desired to see the author of this volume climb a tree.

However, I suppose that in the long run I got the largest share of the
joke at last; and in a shape not foreseen by the highwaymen; for the
chilly exposure on the “divide” while I was in a perspiration gave me a
cold which developed itself into a troublesome disease and kept my hands
idle some three months, besides costing me quite a sum in doctor's bills.
Since then I play no practical jokes on people and generally lose my
temper when one is played upon me.

When I returned to San Francisco I projected a pleasure journey to Japan
and thence westward around the world; but a desire to see home again
changed my mind, and I took a berth in the steamship, bade good-bye to
the friendliest land and livest, heartiest community on our continent,
and came by the way of the Isthmus to New York--a trip that was not much
of a pic-nic excursion, for the cholera broke out among us on the passage
and we buried two or three bodies at sea every day.  I found home a
dreary place after my long absence; for half the children I had known
were now wearing whiskers or waterfalls, and few of the grown people I
had been acquainted with remained at their hearthstones prosperous and
happy--some of them had wandered to other scenes, some were in jail, and
the rest had been hanged.  These changes touched me deeply, and I went
away and joined the famous Quaker City European Excursion and carried my
tears to foreign lands.

Thus, after seven years of vicissitudes, ended a “pleasure trip” to the
silver mines of Nevada which had originally been intended to occupy only
three months.  However, I usually miss my calculations further than that.


If the reader thinks he is done, now, and that this book has no moral to
it, he is in error.  The moral of it is this: If you are of any account,
stay at home and make your way by faithful diligence; but if you are “no
account,” go away from home, and then you will have to work, whether you
want to or not.  Thus you become a blessing to your friends by ceasing to
be a nuisance to them--if the people you go among suffer by the



Mormonism is only about forty years old, but its career has been full of
stir and adventure from the beginning, and is likely to remain so to the
end.  Its adherents have been hunted and hounded from one end of the
country to the other, and the result is that for years they have hated
all “Gentiles” indiscriminately and with all their might.  Joseph Smith,
the finder of the Book of Mormon and founder of the religion, was driven
from State to State with his mysterious copperplates and the miraculous
stones he read their inscriptions with.  Finally he instituted his
“church” in Ohio and Brigham Young joined it.  The neighbors began to
persecute, and apostasy commenced.  Brigham held to the faith and worked
hard.  He arrested desertion.  He did more--he added converts in the
midst of the trouble.  He rose in favor and importance with the brethren.
He was made one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church.  He shortly fought
his way to a higher post and a more powerful--President of the Twelve.
The neighbors rose up and drove the Mormons out of Ohio, and they settled
in Missouri.  Brigham went with them.  The Missourians drove them out and
they retreated to Nauvoo, Illinois.  They prospered there, and built a
temple which made some pretensions to architectural grace and achieved
some celebrity in a section of country where a brick court-house with a
tin dome and a cupola on it was contemplated with reverential awe.
But the Mormons were badgered and harried again by their neighbors.
All the proclamations Joseph Smith could issue denouncing polygamy and
repudiating it as utterly anti-Mormon were of no avail; the people of the
neighborhood, on both sides of the Mississippi, claimed that polygamy was
practised by the Mormons, and not only polygamy but a little of
everything that was bad.  Brigham returned from a mission to England,
where he had established a Mormon newspaper, and he brought back with him
several hundred converts to his preaching.  His influence among the
brethren augmented with every move he made.  Finally Nauvoo was invaded
by the Missouri and Illinois Gentiles, and Joseph Smith killed.  A Mormon
named Rigdon assumed the Presidency of the Mormon church and government,
in Smith's place, and even tried his hand at a prophecy or two.  But a
greater than he was at hand.  Brigham seized the advantage of the hour
and without other authority than superior brain and nerve and will,
hurled Rigdon from his high place and occupied it himself.  He did more.
He launched an elaborate curse at Rigdon and his disciples; and he
pronounced Rigdon's “prophecies” emanations from the devil, and ended by
“handing the false prophet over to the buffetings of Satan for a thousand
years”--probably the longest term ever inflicted in Illinois.  The people
recognized their master.  They straightway elected Brigham Young
President, by a prodigious majority, and have never faltered in their
devotion to him from that day to this.  Brigham had forecast--a quality
which no other prominent Mormon has probably ever possessed.
He recognized that it was better to move to the wilderness than be moved.
By his command the people gathered together their meagre effects, turned
their backs upon their homes, and their faces toward the wilderness, and
on a bitter night in February filed in sorrowful procession across the
frozen Mississippi, lighted on their way by the glare from their burning
temple, whose sacred furniture their own hands had fired!  They camped,
several days afterward, on the western verge of Iowa, and poverty, want,
hunger, cold, sickness, grief and persecution did their work, and many
succumbed and died--martyrs, fair and true, whatever else they might have
been.  Two years the remnant remained there, while Brigham and a small
party crossed the country and founded Great Salt Lake City, purposely
choosing a land which was outside the ownership and jurisdiction of the
hated American nation.  Note that.  This was in 1847.  Brigham moved his
people there and got them settled just in time to see disaster fall
again.  For the war closed and Mexico ceded Brigham's refuge to the
enemy--the United States!  In 1849 the Mormons organized a “free and
independent” government and erected the “State of Deseret,” with Brigham
Young as its head.  But the very next year Congress deliberately snubbed
it and created the “Territory of Utah” out of the same accumulation of
mountains, sage-brush, alkali and general desolation,--but made Brigham
Governor of it.  Then for years the enormous migration across the plains
to California poured through the land of the Mormons and yet the church
remained staunch and true to its lord and master.  Neither hunger,
thirst, poverty, grief, hatred, contempt, nor persecution could drive the
Mormons from their faith or their allegiance; and even the thirst for
gold, which gleaned the flower of the youth and strength of many nations
was not able to entice them!  That was the final test.  An experiment
that could survive that was an experiment with some substance to it

Great Salt Lake City throve finely, and so did Utah.  One of the last
things which Brigham Young had done before leaving Iowa, was to appear in
the pulpit dressed to personate the worshipped and lamented prophet
Smith, and confer the prophetic succession, with all its dignities,
emoluments and authorities, upon “President Brigham Young!”  The people
accepted the pious fraud with the maddest enthusiasm, and Brigham's power
was sealed and secured for all time.  Within five years afterward he
openly added polygamy to the tenets of the church by authority of a
“revelation” which he pretended had been received nine years before by
Joseph Smith, albeit Joseph is amply on record as denouncing polygamy to
the day of his death.

Now was Brigham become a second Andrew Johnson in the small beginning and
steady progress of his official grandeur.  He had served successively as
a disciple in the ranks; home missionary; foreign missionary; editor and
publisher; Apostle; President of the Board of Apostles; President of all
Mormondom, civil and ecclesiastical; successor to the great Joseph by the
will of heaven; “prophet,” “seer,” “revelator.”  There was but one
dignity higher which he could aspire to, and he reached out modestly and
took that--he proclaimed himself a God!

He claims that he is to have a heaven of his own hereafter, and that he
will be its God, and his wives and children its goddesses, princes and
princesses.  Into it all faithful Mormons will be admitted, with their
families, and will take rank and consequence according to the number of
their wives and children.  If a disciple dies before he has had time to
accumulate enough wives and children to enable him to be respectable in
the next world any friend can marry a few wives and raise a few children
for him after he is dead, and they are duly credited to his account and
his heavenly status advanced accordingly.

Let it be borne in mind that the majority of the Mormons have always been
ignorant, simple, of an inferior order of intellect, unacquainted with
the world and its ways; and let it be borne in mind that the wives of
these Mormons are necessarily after the same pattern and their children
likely to be fit representatives of such a conjunction; and then let it
be remembered that for forty years these creatures have been driven,
driven, driven, relentlessly!  and mobbed, beaten, and shot down; cursed,
despised, expatriated; banished to a remote desert, whither they
journeyed gaunt with famine and disease, disturbing the ancient solitudes
with their lamentations and marking the long way with graves of their
dead--and all because they were simply trying to live and worship God in
the way which they believed with all their hearts and souls to be the
true one.  Let all these things be borne in mind, and then it will not be
hard to account for the deathless hatred which the Mormons bear our
people and our government.

That hatred has “fed fat its ancient grudge” ever since Mormon Utah
developed into a self-supporting realm and the church waxed rich and
strong.  Brigham as Territorial Governor made it plain that Mormondom was
for the Mormons.  The United States tried to rectify all that by
appointing territorial officers from New England and other anti-Mormon
localities, but Brigham prepared to make their entrance into his
dominions difficult.  Three thousand United States troops had to go
across the plains and put these gentlemen in office.  And after they were
in office they were as helpless as so many stone images.  They made laws
which nobody minded and which could not be executed.  The federal judges
opened court in a land filled with crime and violence and sat as holiday
spectacles for insolent crowds to gape at--for there was nothing to try,
nothing to do nothing on the dockets!  And if a Gentile brought a suit,
the Mormon jury would do just as it pleased about bringing in a verdict,
and when the judgment of the court was rendered no Mormon cared for it
and no officer could execute it.  Our Presidents shipped one cargo of
officials after another to Utah, but the result was always the same--they
sat in a blight for awhile they fairly feasted on scowls and insults day
by day, they saw every attempt to do their official duties find its
reward in darker and darker looks, and in secret threats and warnings of
a more and more dismal nature--and at last they either succumbed and
became despised tools and toys of the Mormons, or got scared and
discomforted beyond all endurance and left the Territory.  If a brave
officer kept on courageously till his pluck was proven, some pliant
Buchanan or Pierce would remove him and appoint a stick in his place.
In 1857 General Harney came very near being appointed Governor of Utah.
And so it came very near being Harney governor and Cradlebaugh judge!
--two men who never had any idea of fear further than the sort of murky
comprehension of it which they were enabled to gather from the
dictionary.  Simply (if for nothing else) for the variety they would have
made in a rather monotonous history of Federal servility and
helplessness, it is a pity they were not fated to hold office together in

Up to the date of our visit to Utah, such had been the Territorial
record.  The Territorial government established there had been a hopeless
failure, and Brigham Young was the only real power in the land.  He was
an absolute monarch--a monarch who defied our President--a monarch who
laughed at our armies when they camped about his capital--a monarch who
received without emotion the news that the august Congress of the United
States had enacted a solemn law against polygamy, and then went forth
calmly and married twenty-five or thirty more wives.


The persecutions which the Mormons suffered so long--and which they
consider they still suffer in not being allowed to govern themselves
--they have endeavored and are still endeavoring to repay.  The now almost
forgotten “Mountain Meadows massacre” was their work.  It was very famous
in its day.  The whole United States rang with its horrors.  A few items
will refresh the reader's memory.  A great emigrant train from Missouri
and Arkansas passed through Salt Lake City and a few disaffected Mormons
joined it for the sake of the strong protection it afforded for their
escape.  In that matter lay sufficient cause for hot retaliation by the
Mormon chiefs.  Besides, these one hundred and forty-five or one hundred
and fifty unsuspecting emigrants being in part from Arkansas, where a
noted Mormon missionary had lately been killed, and in part from
Missouri, a State remembered with execrations as a bitter persecutor of
the saints when they were few and poor and friendless, here were
substantial additional grounds for lack of love for these wayfarers.
And finally, this train was rich, very rich in cattle, horses, mules and
other property--and how could the Mormons consistently keep up their
coveted resemblance to the Israelitish tribes and not seize the “spoil”
 of an enemy when the Lord had so manifestly “delivered it into their

Wherefore, according to Mrs. C. V. Waite's entertaining book, “The Mormon
Prophet,” it transpired that--

“A 'revelation' from Brigham Young, as Great Grand Archee or God, was
dispatched to President J. C. Haight, Bishop Higbee and J. D. Lee
(adopted son of Brigham), commanding them to raise all the forces they
could muster and trust, follow those cursed Gentiles (so read the
revelation), attack them disguised as Indians, and with the arrows of the
Almighty make a clean sweep of them, and leave none to tell the tale; and
if they needed any assistance they were commanded to hire the Indians as
their allies, promising them a share of the booty.  They were to be
neither slothful nor negligent in their duty, and to be punctual in
sending the teams back to him before winter set in, for this was the
mandate of Almighty God.”

The command of the “revelation” was faithfully obeyed.  A large party of
Mormons, painted and tricked out as Indians, overtook the train of
emigrant wagons some three hundred miles south of Salt Lake City, and
made an attack.  But the emigrants threw up earthworks, made fortresses
of their wagons and defended themselves gallantly and successfully for
five days!  Your Missouri or Arkansas gentleman is not much afraid of the
sort of scurvy apologies for “Indians” which the southern part of Utah
affords.  He would stand up and fight five hundred of them.

At the end of the five days the Mormons tried military strategy.  They
retired to the upper end of the “Meadows,” resumed civilized apparel,
washed off their paint, and then, heavily armed, drove down in wagons to
the beleaguered emigrants, bearing a flag of truce!  When the emigrants
saw white men coming they threw down their guns and welcomed them with
cheer after cheer!  And, all unconscious of the poetry of it, no doubt,
they lifted a little child aloft, dressed in white, in answer to the flag
of truce!

The leaders of the timely white “deliverers” were President Haight and
Bishop John D. Lee, of the Mormon Church.  Mr. Cradlebaugh, who served a
term as a Federal Judge in Utah and afterward was sent to Congress from
Nevada, tells in a speech delivered in Congress how these leaders next

“They professed to be on good terms with the Indians, and represented
them as being very mad.  They also proposed to intercede and settle the
matter with the Indians.  After several hours parley they, having
(apparently) visited the Indians, gave the ultimatum of the savages;
which was, that the emigrants should march out of their camp, leaving
everything behind them, even their guns.  It was promised by the Mormon
bishops that they would bring a force and guard the emigrants back to the
settlements.  The terms were agreed to, the emigrants being desirous of
saving the lives of their families.  The Mormons retired, and
subsequently appeared with thirty or forty armed men.  The emigrants were
marched out, the women and children in front and the men behind, the
Mormon guard being in the rear.  When they had marched in this way about
a mile, at a given signal the slaughter commenced.  The men were almost
all shot down at the first fire from the guard.  Two only escaped, who
fled to the desert, and were followed one hundred and fifty miles before
they were overtaken and slaughtered.  The women and children ran on, two
or three hundred yards further, when they were overtaken and with the aid
of the Indians they were slaughtered.  Seventeen individuals only, of all
the emigrant party, were spared, and they were little children, the
eldest of them being only seven years old.  Thus, on the 10th day of
September, 1857, was consummated one of the most cruel, cowardly and
bloody murders known in our history.”

The number of persons butchered by the Mormons on this occasion was one
hundred and twenty.

With unheard-of temerity Judge Cradlebaugh opened his court and proceeded
to make Mormondom answer for the massacre.  And what a spectacle it must
have been to see this grim veteran, solitary and alone in his pride and
his pluck, glowering down on his Mormon jury and Mormon auditory,
deriding them by turns, and by turns “breathing threatenings and

An editorial in the Territorial Enterprise of that day says of him and of
the occasion:

“He spoke and acted with the fearlessness and resolution of a Jackson;
but the jury failed to indict, or even report on the charges, while
threats of violence were heard in every quarter, and an attack on the
U.S. troops intimated, if he persisted in his course.

“Finding that nothing could be done with the juries, they were discharged
with a scathing rebuke from the judge.  And then, sitting as a committing
magistrate, he commenced his task alone.  He examined witnesses, made
arrests in every quarter, and created a consternation in the camps of the
saints greater than any they had ever witnessed before, since Mormondom
was born.  At last accounts terrified elders and bishops were decamping
to save their necks; and developments of the most starling character were
being made, implicating the highest Church dignitaries in the many
murders and robberies committed upon the Gentiles during the past eight

Had Harney been Governor, Cradlebaugh would have been supported in his
work, and the absolute proofs adduced by him of Mormon guilt in this
massacre and in a number of previous murders, would have conferred
gratuitous coffins upon certain citizens, together with occasion to use
them.  But Cumming was the Federal Governor, and he, under a curious
pretense of impartiality, sought to screen the Mormons from the demands
of justice.  On one occasion he even went so far as to publish his
protest against the use of the U.S. troops in aid of Cradlebaugh's

Mrs. C. V. Waite closes her interesting detail of the great massacre with
the following remark and accompanying summary of the testimony--and the
summary is concise, accurate and reliable:

“For the benefit of those who may still be disposed to doubt the guilt of
Young and his Mormons in this transaction, the testimony is here collated
and circumstances given which go not merely to implicate but to fasten
conviction upon them by 'confirmations strong as proofs of Holy Writ:'

“1.  The evidence of Mormons themselves, engaged in the affair, as shown
by the statements of Judge Cradlebaugh and Deputy U.S.  Marshall Rodgers.

“2.  The failure of Brigham Young to embody any account of it in his
Report as Superintendent of Indian Affairs.  Also his failure to make any
allusion to it whatever from the pulpit, until several years after the

“3.  The flight to the mountains of men high in authority in the Mormon
Church and State, when this affair was brought to the ordeal of a
judicial investigation.

“4.  The failure of the Deseret News, the Church organ, and the only
paper then published in the Territory, to notice the massacre until
several months afterward, and then only to deny that Mormons were engaged
in it.

“5.  The testimony of the children saved from the massacre.

“6.  The children and the property of the emigrants found in possession
of the Mormons, and that possession traced back to the very day after the

“7.  The statements of Indians in the neighborhood of the scene of the
massacre: these statements are shown, not only by Cradlebaugh and
Rodgers, but by a number of military officers, and by J. Forney, who was,
in 1859, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory.  To all
these were such statements freely and frequently made by the Indians.

“8.  The testimony of R. P. Campbell, Capt.  2d Dragoons, who was sent in
the Spring of 1859 to Santa Clara, to protect travelers on the road to
California and to inquire into Indian depredations.”


If ever there was a harmless man, it is Conrad Wiegand, of Gold Hill,
Nevada.  If ever there was a gentle spirit that thought itself unfired
gunpowder and latent ruin, it is Conrad Wiegand.  If ever there was an
oyster that fancied itself a whale; or a jack-o'lantern, confined to a
swamp, that fancied itself a planet with a billion-mile orbit; or a
summer zephyr that deemed itself a hurricane, it is Conrad Wiegand.
Therefore, what wonder is it that when he says a thing, he thinks the
world listens; that when he does a thing the world stands still to look;
and that when he suffers, there is a convulsion of nature?  When I met
Conrad, he was “Superintendent of the Gold Hill Assay Office”--and he was
not only its Superintendent, but its entire force.  And he was a street
preacher, too, with a mongrel religion of his own invention, whereby he
expected to regenerate the universe.  This was years ago.  Here latterly
he has entered journalism; and his journalism is what it might be
expected to be: colossal to ear, but pigmy to the eye.  It is extravagant
grandiloquence confined to a newspaper about the size of a double letter
sheet.  He doubtless edits, sets the type, and prints his paper, all
alone; but he delights to speak of the concern as if it occupies a block
and employs a thousand men.

[Something less than two years ago, Conrad assailed several people
mercilessly in his little “People's Tribune,” and got himself into
trouble.  Straightway he airs the affair in the “Territorial Enterprise,”
 in a communication over his own signature, and I propose to reproduce it
here, in all its native simplicity and more than human candor.  Long as
it is, it is well worth reading, for it is the richest specimen of
journalistic literature the history of America can furnish, perhaps:]

From the Territorial Enterprise, Jan. 20, 1870.


TO THE EDITOR OF THE ENTERPRISE: Months ago, when Mr. Sutro incidentally
exposed mining management on the Comstock, and among others roused me to
protest against its continuance, in great kindness you warned me that any
attempt by publications, by public meetings and by legislative action,
aimed at the correction of chronic mining evils in Storey County, must
entail upon me (a) business ruin, (b) the burden of all its costs, (c)
personal violence, and if my purpose were persisted in, then (d)
assassination, and after all nothing would be effected.

In large part at least your prophecies have been fulfilled, for (a)
assaying, which was well attended to in the Gold Hill Assay Office (of
which I am superintendent), in consequence of my publications, has been
taken elsewhere, so the President of one of the companies assures me.
With no reason assigned, other work has been taken away.  With but one or
two important exceptions, our assay business now consists simply of the
gleanings of the vicinity.  (b) Though my own personal donations to the
People's Tribune Association have already exceeded $1,500, outside of our
own numbers we have received (in money) less than $300 as contributions
and subscriptions for the journal.  (c) On Thursday last, on the main
street in Gold Hill, near noon, with neither warning nor cause assigned,
by a powerful blow I was felled to the ground, and while down I was
kicked by a man who it would seem had been led to believe that I had
spoken derogatorily of him.  By whom he was so induced to believe I am as
yet unable to say.  On Saturday last I was again assailed and beaten by a
man who first informed me why he did so, and who persisted in making his
assault even after the erroneous impression under which he also was at
first laboring had been clearly and repeatedly pointed out.  This same
man, after failing through intimidation to elicit from me the names of
our editorial contributors, against giving which he knew me to be
pledged, beat himself weary upon me with a raw hide, I not resisting, and
then pantingly threatened me with permanent disfiguring mayhem, if ever
again I should introduce his name into print, and who but a few minutes
before his attack upon me assured me that the only reason I was
“permitted” to reach home alive on Wednesday evening last (at which time
the PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE was issued) was, that he deems me only half-witted,
and be it remembered the very next morning I was knocked down and kicked
by a man who seemed to be prepared for flight.

[He sees doom impending:]

How long before the whole of your prophecy will be fulfilled I cannot
say, but under the shadow of so much fulfillment in so short a time, and
with such threats from a man who is one of the most prominent exponents
of the San Francisco mining-ring staring me and this whole community
defiantly in the face and pointing to a completion of your augury, do you
blame me for feeling that this communication is the last I shall ever
write for the Press, especially when a sense alike of personal
self-respect, of duty to this money-oppressed and fear-ridden community,
and of American fealty to the spirit of true Liberty all command me, and
each more loudly than love of life itself, to declare the name of that
prominent man to be JOHN B. WINTERS, President of the Yellow Jacket
Company, a political aspirant and a military General?  The name of his
partially duped accomplice and abettor in this last marvelous assault, is
no other than PHILIP LYNCH, Editor and Proprietor of the Gold Hill News.

Despite the insult and wrong heaped upon me by John B. Winters, on
Saturday afternoon, only a glimpse of which I shall be able to afford
your readers, so much do I deplore clinching (by publicity) a serious
mistake of any one, man or woman, committed under natural and not
self-wrought passion, in view of his great apparent excitement at the
time and in view of the almost perfect privacy of the assault, I am far
from sure that I should not have given him space for repentance before
exposing him, were it not that he himself has so far exposed the matter
as to make it the common talk of the town that he has horsewhipped me.
That fact having been made public, all the facts in connection need to be
also, or silence on my part would seem more than singular, and with many
would be proof either that I was conscious of some unworthy aim in
publishing the article, or else that my “non-combatant” principles are
but a convenient cloak alike of physical and moral cowardice.  I
therefore shall try to present a graphic but truthful picture of this
whole affair, but shall forbear all comments, presuming that the editors
of our own journal, if others do not, will speak freely and fittingly
upon this subject in our next number, whether I shall then be dead or
living, for my death will not stop, though it may suspend, the
publication of the PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE. [The “non-combatant” sticks to
principle, but takes along a friend or two of a conveniently different

On Saturday morning John B. Winters sent verbal word to the Gold Hill
Assay Office that he desired to see me at the Yellow Jacket office.
Though such a request struck me as decidedly cool in view of his own
recent discourtesies to me there alike as a publisher and as a
stockholder in the Yellow Jacket mine, and though it seemed to me more
like a summons than the courteous request by one gentleman to another for
a favor, hoping that some conference with Sharon looking to the
betterment of mining matters in Nevada might arise from it, I felt
strongly inclined to overlook what possibly was simply an oversight in
courtesy.  But as then it had only been two days since I had been bruised
and beaten under a hasty and false apprehension of facts, my caution was
somewhat aroused.  Moreover I remembered sensitively his contemptuousness
of manner to me at my last interview in his office.  I therefore felt it
needful, if I went at all, to go accompanied by a friend whom he would
not dare to treat with incivility, and whose presence with me might
secure exemption from insult.  Accordingly I asked a neighbor to
accompany me.

Although I was not then aware of this fact, it would seem that previous
to my request this same neighbor had heard Dr. Zabriskie state publicly
in a saloon, that Mr. Winters had told him he had decided either to kill
or to horsewhip me, but had not finally decided on which.  My neighbor,
therefore, felt unwilling to go down with me until he had first called on
Mr. Winters alone.  He therefore paid him a visit.  From that interview
he assured me that he gathered the impression that he did not believe I
would have any difficulty with Mr. Winters, and that he (Winters) would
call on me at four o'clock in my own office.

As Sheriff Cummings was in Gold Hill that afternoon, and as I desired to
converse with him about the previous assault, I invited him to my office,
and he came.  Although a half hour had passed beyond four o'clock, Mr.
Winters had not called, and we both of us began preparing to go home.
Just then, Philip Lynch, Publisher of the Gold Hill News, came in and
said, blandly and cheerily, as if bringing good news:

“Hello, John B. Winters wants to see you.”

I replied, “Indeed!  Why he sent me word that he would call on me here
this afternoon at four o'clock!”

“O, well, it don't do to be too ceremonious just now, he's in my office,
and that will do as well--come on in, Winters wants to consult with you
alone.  He's got something to say to you.”

Though slightly uneasy at this change of programme, yet believing that in
an editor's house I ought to be safe, and anyhow that I would be within
hail of the street, I hurriedly, and but partially whispered my dim
apprehensions to Mr. Cummings, and asked him if he would not keep near
enough to hear my voice in case I should call.  He consented to do so
while waiting for some other parties, and to come in if he heard my voice
or thought I had need of protection.

On reaching the editorial part of the News office, which viewed from the
street is dark, I did not see Mr. Winters, and again my misgivings arose.
Had I paused long enough to consider the case, I should have invited
Sheriff Cummings in, but as Lynch went down stairs, he said: “This way,
Wiegand--it's best to be private,” or some such remark.

[I do not desire to strain the reader's fancy, hurtfully, and yet it
would be a favor to me if he would try to fancy this lamb in battle, or
the duelling ground or at the head of a vigilance committee--M.  T.:]

I followed, and without Mr. Cummings, and without arms, which I never do
or will carry, unless as a soldier in war, or unless I should yet come to
feel I must fight a duel, or to join and aid in the ranks of a necessary
Vigilance Committee.  But by following I made a fatal mistake.  Following
was entering a trap, and whatever animal suffers itself to be caught
should expect the common fate of a caged rat, as I fear events to come
will prove.

Traps commonly are not set for benevolence.
[His body-guard is shut out:]

I followed Lynch down stairs.  At their foot a door to the left opened
into a small room.  From that room another door opened into yet another
room, and once entered I found myself inveigled into what many will ever
henceforth regard as a private subterranean Gold Hill den, admirably
adapted in proper hands to the purposes of murder, raw or disguised, for
from it, with both or even one door closed, when too late, I saw that I
could not be heard by Sheriff Cummings, and from it, BY VIOLENCE AND BY
FORCE, I was prevented from making a peaceable exit, when I thought I saw
the studious object of this “consultation” was no other than to compass
my killing, in the presence of Philip Lynch as a witness, as soon as by
insult a proverbially excitable man should be exasperated to the point of
assailing Mr. Winters, so that Mr. Lynch, by his conscience and by his
well known tenderness of heart toward the rich and potent would be
compelled to testify that he saw Gen. John B. Winters kill Conrad Wiegand
in “self-defence.”  But I am going too fast.

Mr. Lynch was present during the most of the time (say a little short of
an hour), but three times he left the room.  His testimony, therefore,
would be available only as to the bulk of what transpired.  On entering
this carpeted den I was invited to a seat near one corner of the room.
Mr. Lynch took a seat near the window.  J. B. Winters sat (at first) near
the door, and began his remarks essentially as follows:

“I have come here to exact of you a retraction, in black and white, of
those damnably false charges which you have preferred against me in
that---infamous lying sheet of yours, and you must declare yourself their
author, that you published them knowing them to be false, and that your
motives were malicious.”

“Hold, Mr. Winters.  Your language is insulting and your demand an
enormity.  I trust I was not invited here either to be insulted or
coerced.  I supposed myself here by invitation of Mr. Lynch, at your

“Nor did I come here to insult you.  I have already told you that I am
here for a very different purpose.”

“Yet your language has been offensive, and even now shows strong
excitement.  If insult is repeated I shall either leave the room or call
in Sheriff Cummings, whom I just left standing and waiting for me outside
the door.”

“No, you won't, sir.  You may just as well understand it at once as not.
Here you are my man, and I'll tell you why!  Months ago you put your
property out of your hands, boasting that you did so to escape losing it
on prosecution for libel.”

“It is true that I did convert all my immovable property into personal
property, such as I could trust safely to others, and chiefly to escape
ruin through possible libel suits.”

“Very good, sir.  Having placed yourself beyond the pale of the law, may
God help your soul if you DON'T make precisely such a retraction as I
have demanded.  I've got you now, and by--before you can get out of this
room you've got to both write and sign precisely the retraction I have
demanded, and before you go, anyhow--you---low-lived--lying---, I'll
teach you what personal responsibility is outside of the law; and, by--,
Sheriff Cummings and all the friends you've got in the world besides,
can't save you, you---, etc.!  No, sir.  I'm alone now, and I'm prepared
to be shot down just here and now rather than be villified by you as I
have been, and suffer you to escape me after publishing those charges,
not only here where I am known and universally respected, but where I am
not personally known and may be injured.”

I confess this speech, with its terrible and but too plainly implied
threat of killing me if I did not sign the paper he demanded, terrified
me, especially as I saw he was working himself up to the highest possible
pitch of passion, and instinct told me that any reply other than one of
seeming concession to his demands would only be fuel to a raging fire,
so I replied:

“Well, if I've got to sign--,” and then I paused some time.  Resuming,
I said, “But, Mr. Winters, you are greatly excited.  Besides, I see you
are laboring under a total misapprehension.  It is your duty not to
inflame but to calm yourself.  I am prepared to show you, if you will
only point out the article that you allude to, that you regard as
'charges' what no calm and logical mind has any right to regard as such.
Show me the charges, and I will try, at all events; and if it becomes
plain that no charges have been preferred, then plainly there can be
nothing to retract, and no one could rightly urge you to demand a
retraction.  You should beware of making so serious a mistake, for
however honest a man may be, every one is liable to misapprehend.
Besides you assume that I am the author of some certain article which you
have not pointed out.  It is hasty to do so.”

He then pointed to some numbered paragraphs in a TRIBUNE article, headed
“What's the Matter with Yellow Jacket?” saying “That's what I refer to.”

To gain time for general reflection and resolution, I took up the paper
and looked it over for awhile, he remaining silent, and as I hoped,
cooling.  I then resumed saying, “As I supposed.  I do not admit having
written that article, nor have you any right to assume so important a
point, and then base important action upon your assumption.  You might
deeply regret it afterwards.  In my published Address to the People, I
notified the world that no information as to the authorship of any
article would be given without the consent of the writer.  I therefore
cannot honorably tell you who wrote that article, nor can you exact it.”

“If you are not the author, then I do demand to know who is?”

“I must decline to say.”

“Then, by--, I brand you as its author, and shall treat you accordingly.”

“Passing that point, the most important misapprehension which I notice
is, that you regard them as 'charges' at all, when their context, both at
their beginning and end, show they are not.  These words introduce them:
'Such an investigation [just before indicated], we think MIGHT result in
showing some of the following points.' Then follow eleven specifications,
and the succeeding paragraph shows that the suggested investigation
'might EXONERATE those who are generally believed guilty.' You see,
therefore, the context proves they are not preferred as charges, and this
you seem to have overlooked.”

While making those comments, Mr. Winters frequently interrupted me in
such a way as to convince me that he was resolved not to consider
candidly the thoughts contained in my words.  He insisted upon it that
they were charges, and “By--,” he would make me take them back as
charges, and he referred the question to Philip Lynch, to whom I then
appealed as a literary man, as a logician, and as an editor, calling his
attention especially to the introductory paragraph just before quoted.
He replied, “if they are not charges, they certainly are insinuations,”
 whereupon Mr. Winters renewed his demands for retraction precisely such
as he had before named, except that he would allow me to state who did
write the article if I did not myself, and this time shaking his fist in
my face with more cursings and epithets.

When he threatened me with his clenched fist, instinctively I tried to
rise from my chair, but Winters then forcibly thrust me down, as he did
every other time (at least seven or eight), when under similar imminent
danger of bruising by his fist (or for aught I could know worse than that
after the first stunning blow), which he could easily and safely to
himself have dealt me so long as he kept me down and stood over me.

This fact it was, which more than anything else, convinced me that by
plan and plot I was purposely made powerless in Mr. Winters' hands, and
that he did not mean to allow me that advantage of being afoot, which he
possessed.  Moreover, I then became convinced, that Philip Lynch (and for
what reason I wondered) would do absolutely nothing to protect me in his
own house.  I realized then the situation thoroughly.  I had found it
equally vain to protest or argue, and I would make no unmanly appeal for
pity, still less apologize.  Yet my life had been by the plainest
possible implication threatened.  I was a weak man.  I was unarmed.  I
was helplessly down, and Winters was afoot and probably armed.  Lynch was
the only “witness.”  The statements demanded, if given and not explained,
would utterly sink me in my own self-respect, in my family's eyes, and in
the eyes of the community.  On the other hand, should I give the author's
name how could I ever expect that confidence of the People which I should
no longer deserve, and how much dearer to me and to my family was my life
than the life of the real author to his friends.  Yet life seemed dear
and each minute that remained seemed precious if not solemn.  I sincerely
trust that neither you nor any of your readers, and especially none with
families, may ever be placed in such seeming direct proximity to death
while obliged to decide the one question I was compelled to, viz.: What
should I do--I, a man of family, and not as Mr. Winters is, “alone.”
 [The reader is requested not to skip the following.--M.  T.:]

To gain time for further reflection, and hoping that by a seeming
acquiescence I might regain my personal liberty, at least till I could
give an alarm, or take advantage of some momentary inadvertence of
Winters, and then without a cowardly flight escape, I resolved to write a
certain kind of retraction, but previously had inwardly decided:

First.--That I would studiously avoid every action which might be
construed into the drawing of a weapon, even by a self-infuriated man, no
matter what amount of insult might be heaped upon me, for it seemed to me
that this great excess of compound profanity, foulness and epithet must
be more than a mere indulgence, and therefore must have some object.
“Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.”  Therefore,
as before without thought, I thereafter by intent kept my hands away from
my pockets, and generally in sight and spread upon my knees.

Second.--I resolved to make no motion with my arms or hands which could
possibly be construed into aggression.

Third.--I resolved completely to govern my outward manner and suppress
indignation.  To do this, I must govern my spirit.  To do that, by force
of imagination I was obliged like actors on the boards to resolve myself
into an unnatural mental state and see all things through the eyes of an
assumed character.

Fourth.--I resolved to try on Winters, silently, and unconsciously to
himself a mesmeric power which I possess over certain kinds of people,
and which at times I have found to work even in the dark over the lower

Does any one smile at these last counts?  God save you from ever being
obliged to beat in a game of chess, whose stake is your life, you having
but four poor pawns and pieces and your adversary with his full force
unshorn.  But if you are, provided you have any strength with breadth of
will, do not despair.  Though mesmeric power may not save you, it may
help you; try it at all events.  In this instance I was conscious of
power coming into me, and by a law of nature, I know Winters was
correspondingly weakened.  If I could have gained more time I am sure he
would not even have struck me.

It takes time both to form such resolutions and to recite them.  That
time, however, I gained while thinking of my retraction, which I first
wrote in pencil, altering it from time to time till I got it to suit me,
my aim being to make it look like a concession to demands, while in fact
it should tersely speak the truth into Mr. Winters' mind.  When it was
finished, I copied it in ink, and if correctly copied from my first draft
it should read as follows.  In copying I do not think I made any material

To Philip Lynch, Editor of the Gold Hill News: I learn that Gen. John B.
Winters believes the following (pasted on) clipping from the PEOPLE'S
TRIBUNE of January to contain distinct charges of mine against him
personally, and that as such he desires me to retract them unqualifiedly.

In compliance with his request, permit me to say that, although Mr.
Winters and I see this matter differently, in view of his strong feelings
in the premises, I hereby declare that I do not know those “charges” (if
such they are) to be true, and I hope that a critical examination would
altogether disprove them.
                              CONRAD WIEGAND.
                         Gold Hill, January 15, 1870.

I then read what I had written and handed it to Mr. Lynch, whereupon Mr.
Winters said:

“That's not satisfactory, and it won't do;” and then addressing himself
to Mr. Lynch, he further said: “How does it strike you?”

“Well, I confess I don't see that it retracts anything.”

“Nor do I,” said Winters; “in fact, I regard it as adding insult to
injury.  Mr. Wiegand you've got to do better than that.  You are not the
man who can pull wool over my eyes.”

“That, sir, is the only retraction I can write.”

“No it isn't, sir, and if you so much as say so again you do it at your
peril, for I'll thrash you to within an inch of your life, and, by--,
sir, I don't pledge myself to spare you even that inch either.  I want
you to understand I have asked you for a very different paper, and that
paper you've got to sign.”

“Mr. Winters, I assure you that I do not wish to irritate you, but, at
the same time, it is utterly impossible for me to write any other paper
than that which I have written.  If you are resolved to compel me to sign
something, Philip Lynch's hand must write at your dictation, and if, when
written, I can sign it I will do so, but such a document as you say you
must have from me, I never can sign.  I mean what I say.”

“Well, sir, what's to be done must be done quickly, for I've been here
long enough already.  I'll put the thing in another shape (and then
pointing to the paper); don't you know those charges to be false?”

“I do not.”

“Do you know them to be true?”

“Of my own personal knowledge I do not.”

“Why then did you print them?”

“Because rightly considered in their connection they are not charges, but
pertinent and useful suggestions in answer to the queries of a
correspondent who stated facts which are inexplicable.”

“Don't you know that I know they are false?”

“If you do, the proper course is simply to deny them and court an

“And do YOU claim the right to make ME come out and deny anything you may
choose to write and print?”

To that question I think I made no reply, and he then further said:

“Come, now, we've talked about the matter long enough.  I want your final
answer--did you write that article or not?”

“I cannot in honor tell you who wrote it.”

“Did you not see it before it was printed?”

“Most certainly, sir.”

“And did you deem it a fit thing to publish?”

“Most assuredly, sir, or I would never have consented to its appearance.
Of its authorship I can say nothing whatever, but for its publication I
assume full, sole and personal responsibility.”

“And do you then retract it or not?”

“Mr. Winters, if my refusal to sign such a paper as you have demanded
must entail upon me all that your language in this room fairly implies,
then I ask a few minutes for prayer.”

“Prayer!---you, this is not your hour for prayer--your time to pray was
when you were writing those--lying charges.  Will you sign or not?”

“You already have my answer.”

“What!  do you still refuse?”

“I do, sir.”

“Take that, then,” and to my amazement and inexpressible relief he drew
only a rawhide instead of what I expected--a bludgeon or pistol.  With
it, as he spoke, he struck at my left ear downwards, as if to tear it
off, and afterwards on the side of the head.  As he moved away to get a
better chance for a more effective shot, for the first time I gained a
chance under peril to rise, and I did so pitying him from the very bottom
of my soul, to think that one so naturally capable of true dignity, power
and nobility could, by the temptations of this State, and by unfortunate
associations and aspirations, be so deeply debased as to find in such
brutality anything which he could call satisfaction--but the great hope
for us all is in progress and growth, and John B.  Winters, I trust, will
yet be able to comprehend my feelings.

He continued to beat me with all his great force, until absolutely weary,
exhausted and panting for breath.  I still adhered to my purpose of
non-aggressive defence, and made no other use of my arms than to defend
my head and face from further disfigurement.  The mere pain arising from
the blows he inflicted upon my person was of course transient, and my
clothing to some extent deadened its severity, as it now hides all
remaining traces.

When I supposed he was through, taking the butt end of his weapon and
shaking it in my face, he warned me, if I correctly understood him, of
more yet to come, and furthermore said, if ever I again dared introduce
his name to print, in either my own or any other public journal, he would
cut off my left ear (and I do not think he was jesting) and send me home
to my family a visibly mutilated man, to be a standing warning to all
low-lived puppies who seek to blackmail gentlemen and to injure their
good names.  And when he did so operate, he informed me that his
implement would not be a whip but a knife.

When he had said this, unaccompanied by Mr. Lynch, as I remember it, he
left the room, for I sat down by Mr. Lynch, exclaiming: “The man is mad
--he is utterly mad--this step is his ruin--it is a mistake--it would be
ungenerous in me, despite of all the ill usage I have here received, to
expose him, at least until he has had an opportunity to reflect upon the
matter.  I shall be in no haste.”

“Winters is very mad just now,” replied Mr. Lynch, “but when he is
himself he is one of the finest men I ever met.  In fact, he told me the
reason he did not meet you upstairs was to spare you the humiliation of a
beating in the sight of others.”

I submit that that unguarded remark of Philip Lynch convicts him of
having been privy in advance to Mr. Winters' intentions whatever they may
have been, or at least to his meaning to make an assault upon me, but I
leave to others to determine how much censure an editor deserves for
inveigling a weak, non-combatant man, also a publisher, to a pen of his
own to be horsewhipped, if no worse, for the simple printing of what is
verbally in the mouth of nine out of ten men, and women too, upon the

While writing this account two theories have occurred to me as possibly
true respecting this most remarkable assault:

First--The aim may have been simply to extort from me such admissions as
in the hands of money and influence would have sent me to the
Penitentiary for libel.  This, however, seems unlikely, because any
statements elicited by fear or force could not be evidence in law or
could be so explained as to have no force.  The statements wanted so
badly must have been desired for some other purpose.

Second--The other theory has so dark and wilfully murderous a look that I
shrink from writing it, yet as in all probability my death at the
earliest practicable moment has already been decreed, I feel I should do
all I can before my hour arrives, at least to show others how to break up
that aristocratic rule and combination which has robbed all Nevada of
true freedom, if not of manhood itself.  Although I do not prefer this
hypothesis as a “charge,” I feel that as an American citizen I still have
a right both to think and to speak my thoughts even in the land of Sharon
and Winters, and as much so respecting the theory of a brutal assault
(especially when I have been its subject) as respecting any other
apparent enormity.  I give the matter simply as a suggestion which may
explain to the proper authorities and to the people whom they should
represent, a well ascertained but notwithstanding a darkly mysterious
fact.  The scheme of the assault may have been:

First--To terrify me by making me conscious of my own helplessness after
making actual though not legal threats against my life.

Second--To imply that I could save my life only by writing or signing
certain specific statements which if not subsequently explained would
eternally have branded me as infamous and would have consigned my family
to shame and want, and to the dreadful compassion and patronage of the

Third--To blow my brains out the moment I had signed, thereby preventing
me from making any subsequent explanation such as could remove the

Fourth--Philip Lynch to be compelled to testify that I was killed by John
B.  Winters in self-defence, for the conviction of Winters would bring
him in as an accomplice.  If that was the programme in John B.  Winters'
mind nothing saved my life but my persistent refusal to sign, when that
refusal seemed clearly to me to be the choice of death.

The remarkable assertion made to me by Mr. Winters, that pity only spared
my life on Wednesday evening last, almost compels me to believe that at
first he could not have intended me to leave that room alive; and why I
was allowed to, unless through mesmeric or some other invisible
influence, I cannot divine.  The more I reflect upon this matter, the
more probable as true does this horrible interpretation become.

The narration of these things I might have spared both to Mr. Winters and
to the public had he himself observed silence, but as he has both
verbally spoken and suffered a thoroughly garbled statement of facts to
appear in the Gold Hill News I feel it due to myself no less than to this
community, and to the entire independent press of America and Great
Britain, to give a true account of what even the Gold Hill News has
pronounced a disgraceful affair, and which it deeply regrets because of
some alleged telegraphic mistake in the account of it.  [Who received the
erroneous telegrams?]

Though he may not deem it prudent to take my life just now, the
publication of this article I feel sure must compel Gen. Winters (with
his peculiar views about his right to exemption from criticism by me) to
resolve on my violent death, though it may take years to compass it.
Notwithstanding I bear him no ill will; and if W. C. Ralston and William
Sharon, and other members of the San Francisco mining and milling Ring
feel that he above all other men in this State and California is the most
fitting man to supervise and control Yellow Jacket matters, until I am
able to vote more than half their stock I presume he will be retained to
grace his present post.

Meantime, I cordially invite all who know of any sort of important
villainy which only can be cured by exposure (and who would expose it if
they felt sure they would not be betrayed under bullying threats), to
communicate with the PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE; for until I am murdered, so long
as I can raise the means to publish, I propose to continue my efforts at
least to revive the liberties of the State, to curb oppression, and to
benefit man's world and God's earth.

                              CONRAD WIEGAND.

[It does seem a pity that the Sheriff was shut out, since the good sense
of a general of militia and of a prominent editor failed to teach them
that the merited castigation of this weak, half-witted child was a thing
that ought to have been done in the street, where the poor thing could
have a chance to run.  When a journalist maligns a citizen, or attacks
his good name on hearsay evidence, he deserves to be thrashed for it,
even if he is a “non-combatant” weakling; but a generous adversary would
at least allow such a lamb the use of his legs at such a time.--M.  T.]

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