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283 Works of Bret Harte

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The Iliad of Sandy Bar

Story type: Literature

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BEFORE nine o’clock it was pretty well known all along the river that the two partners of the “Amity Claim” had quarrelled and separated at daybreak. At that time the attention of their nearest neighbor had been attracted by the sounds of altercations and two consecutive pistol-shots. Running out, he had seen, dimly, in the […]

There was commotion in Roaring Camp. It could not have been a fight, for in 1805 that was not novel enough to have called together the entire settlement. The ditches and claims were not only deserted, but “Tuttle’s grocery” had contributed its gamblers, who, it will be remembered, calmly continued their game the day that […]

Tennessee’s Partner

Story type: Literature

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I do not think that we ever knew his real name. Our ignorance of it certainly never gave us any social inconvenience, for at Sandy Bar in 1854 most men were christened anew. Sometimes these appellatives were derived from some distinctiveness of dress, as in the case of “Dungaree Jack,” or from some peculiarity of […]

As Mr. John Oakhurst, gambler, stepped into the main street of Poker Flat on the morning of the 23d of November, 1850, he was conscious of a change in its moral atmosphere since the preceding night. Two or three men, conversing earnestly together, ceased as he approached, and exchanged significant glances. There was a Sabbath […]

The Idyll of Red Gulch

Story type: Literature

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Sandy was very drunk. He was lying under an azalea-bush, in pretty much the same attitude in which he had fallen some hours before. How long he had been lying there he could not tell, and didn’t care; how long he should lie there was a matter equally indefinite and unconsidered. A tranquil philosophy, born […]

It had been a day of triumph for Colonel Starbottle. First, for his personality, as it would have been difficult to separate the Colonel’s achievements from his individuality; second, for his oratorical abilities as a sympathetic pleader; and third, for his functions as the leading counsel for the Eureka Ditch Company versus the State of […]

Brown of Calaveras

Story type: Literature

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A subdued tone of conversation, and the absence of cigar smoke and boot heels at the windows of the Wingdam stagecoach, made it evident that one of the inside passengers was a woman. A disposition on the part of loungers at the stations to congregate before the window, and some concern in regard to the […]

The Idyl Of Red Gulch

Story type: Literature

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Sandy was very drunk. He was lying under an azalea bush, in pretty much the same attitude in which he had fallen some hours before. How long he had been lying there he could not tell, and didn’t care; how long he should lie there was a matter equally indefinite and unconsidered. A tranquil philosophy, […]

Miggles

Story type: Literature

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We were eight, including the driver. We had not spoken during the passage of the last six miles, since the jolting of the heavy vehicle over the roughening road had spoiled the Judge’s last poetical quotation. The tall man beside the Judge was asleep, his arm passed through the swaying strap and his head resting […]

The Man Of No Account

Story type: Literature

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His name was Fagg–David Fagg. He came to California in ’52 with us, in the SKYSCRAPER. I don’t think he did it in an adventurous way. He probably had no other place to go to. When a knot of us young fellows would recite what splendid opportunities we resigned to go, and how sorry our […]

A Lonely Ride

Story type: Literature

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As I stepped into the Slumgullion stage I saw that it was a dark night, a lonely road, and that I was the only passenger. Let me assure the reader that I have no ulterior design in making this assertion. A long course of light reading has forewarned me what every experienced intelligence must confidently […]

High Water Mark

Story type: Literature

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When the tide was out on the Dedlow Marsh, its extended dreariness was patent. Its spongy, low-lying surface, sluggish, inky pools, and tortuous sloughs, twisting their slimy way, eel-like, toward the open bay, were all hard facts. So were the few green tussocks, with their scant blades, their amphibious flavor and unpleasant dampness. And if […]

PART I–IN THE FIELD It was near the close of an October day that I began to be disagreeably conscious of the Sacramento Valley. I had been riding since sunrise, and my course through the depressing monotony of the long level landscape affected me more like a dull dyspeptic dream than a business journey, performed […]

The year of grace 1797 passed away on the coast of California in a southwesterly gale. The little bay of San Carlos, albeit sheltered by the headlands of the blessed Trinity, was rough and turbulent; its foam clung quivering to the seaward wall of the Mission garden; the air was filled with flying sand and […]

Mliss

Story type: Literature

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CHAPTER I Just where the Sierra Nevada begins to subside in gentler undulations, and the rivers grow less rapid and yellow, on the side of a great red mountain, stands “Smith’s Pocket.” Seen from the red road at sunset, in the red light and the red dust, its white houses look like the outcroppings of […]

Barker’s Luck

Story type: Literature

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A bird twittered! The morning sun shining through the open window was apparently more potent than the cool mountain air, which had only caused the sleeper to curl a little more tightly in his blankets. Barker’s eyes opened instantly upon the light and the bird on the window ledge. Like all healthy young animals he […]

In 1858 Fiddletown considered her a very pretty woman. She had a quantity of light chestnut hair, a good figure, a dazzling complexion, and a certain languid grace which passed easily for gentle-womanliness. She always dressed becomingly, and in what Fiddletown accepted as the latest fashion. She had only two blemishes: one of her velvety […]

A Yellow Dog

Story type: Literature

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I never knew why in the Western States of America a yellow dog should be proverbially considered the acme of canine degradation and incompetency, nor why the possession of one should seriously affect the social standing of its possessor. But the fact being established, I think we accepted it at Rattlers Ridge without question. The […]

A Mother Of Five

Story type: Literature

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She was a mother–and a rather exemplary one–of five children, although her own age was barely nine. Two of these children were twins, and she generally alluded to them as “Mr. Amplach’s children,” referring to an exceedingly respectable gentleman in the next settlement who, I have reason to believe, had never set eyes on her […]

In The Tules

Story type: Literature

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He had never seen a steamboat in his life. Born and reared in one of the Western Territories, far from a navigable river, he had only known the “dugout” or canoe as a means of conveyance across the scant streams whose fordable waters made even those scarcely a necessity. The long, narrow, hooded wagon, drawn […]

Bulger’s Reputation

Story type: Literature

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We all remembered very distinctly Bulger’s advent in Rattlesnake Camp. It was during the rainy season–a season singularly inducive to settled reflective impressions as we sat and smoked around the stove in Mosby’s grocery. Like older and more civilized communities, we had our periodic waves of sentiment and opinion, with the exception that they were […]

The largest tent of the Tasajara camp meeting was crowded to its utmost extent. The excitement of that dense mass was at its highest pitch. The Reverend Stephen Masterton, the single erect, passionate figure of that confused medley of kneeling worshipers, had reached the culminating pitch of his irresistible exhortatory power. Sighs and groans were […]

The American paused. He had evidently lost his way. For the last half hour he had been wandering in a medieval town, in a profound medieval dream. Only a few days had elapsed since he had left the steamship that carried him hither; and the accents of his own tongue, the idioms of his own […]

It was high hot noon on the Casket Ridge. Its very scant shade was restricted to a few dwarf Scotch firs, and was so perpendicularly cast that Leonidas Boone, seeking shelter from the heat, was obliged to draw himself up under one of them, as if it were an umbrella. Occasionally, with a boy’s perversity, […]

In another chronicle which dealt with the exploits of “Chu Chu,” a Californian mustang, I gave some space to the accomplishments of Enriquez Saltillo, who assisted me in training her, and who was also brother to Consuelo Saitillo, the young lady to whom I had freely given both the mustang and my youthful affections. I […]

The four men on the “Zip Coon” Ledge had not got fairly settled to their morning’s work. There was the usual lingering hesitation which is apt to attend the taking-up of any regular or monotonous performance, shown in this instance in the prolonged scrutiny of a pick’s point, the solemn selection of a shovel, or […]

The Big Flume stage-coach had just drawn up at the Big Flume Hotel simultaneously with the ringing of a large dinner bell in the two hands of a negro waiter, who, by certain gyrations of the bell was trying to impart to his performance that picturesque elegance and harmony which the instrument and its purpose […]

The extravagant supper party by which Mr. James Farendell celebrated the last day of his bachelorhood was protracted so far into the night, that the last guest who parted from him at the door of the principal Sacramento restaurant was for a moment impressed with the belief that a certain ruddy glow in the sky […]

Lanty Foster was crouching on a low stool before the dying kitchen fire, the better to get its fading radiance on the book she was reading. Beyond, through the open window and door, the fire was also slowly fading from the sky and the mountain ridge whence the sun had dropped half an hour before. […]

Johnny Starleigh found himself again late for school. It was always happening. It seemed to be inevitable with the process of going to school at all. And it was no fault “o’ his.” Something was always occurring,–some eccentricity of Nature or circumstance was invariably starting up in his daily path to the schoolroom. He may […]

When the two isolated mining companies encamped on Sycamore Creek discovered on the same day the great “Excelsior Lead,” they met around a neutral camp fire with that grave and almost troubled demeanor which distinguished the successful prospector in those days. Perhaps the term “prospectors” could hardly be used for men who had labored patiently […]

Miss Peggy’s Proteges

Story type: Literature

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The string of Peggy’s sunbonnet had become untied–so had her right shoe. These were not unusual accidents to a country girl of ten, but as both of her hands were full she felt obliged to put down what she was carrying. This was further complicated by the nature of her burden–a half-fledged shrike and a […]

It was nearly midnight when the festivities were interrupted. “Hush!” said Dick Bullen, holding up his hand. It was the querulous voice of Johnny from his adjacent closet: “Oh, dad!” The Old Man arose hurriedly and disappeared in the closet. Presently he reappeared. “His rheumatiz is coming on agin bad,” he explained, “and he wants […]

CHAPTER I Just where the track of the Los Gatos road streams on and upward like the sinuous trail of a fiery rocket until it is extinguished in the blue shadows of the Coast Range, there is an embayed terrace near the summit, hedged by dwarf firs. At every bend of the heat-laden road the […]

CHAPTER I It must be admitted that the civilizing processes of Rough and Ready were not marked by any of the ameliorating conditions of other improved camps. After the discovery of the famous “Eureka” lead, there was the usual influx of gamblers and saloon-keepers; but that was accepted as a matter of course. But it […]

A Tale Of Three Truants

Story type: Literature

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The schoolmaster at Hemlock Hill was troubled that morning. Three of his boys were missing. This was not only a notable deficit in a roll-call of twenty, but the absentees were his three most original and distinctive scholars. He had received no preliminary warning or excuse. Nor could he attribute their absence to any common […]

A Night On The Divide

Story type: Literature

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With the lulling of the wind towards evening it came on to snow–heavily, in straight, quickly succeeding flakes, dropping like white lances from the sky. This was followed by the usual Sierran phenomenon. The deep gorge, which, as the sun went down, had lapsed into darkness, presently began to reappear; at first the vanished trail […]

He was scarcely eight when it was believed that he could have reasonably laid claim to the above title. But he never did. He was a small boy, intensely freckled to the roots of his tawny hair, with even a suspicion of it in his almond-shaped but somewhat full eyes, which were the greenish hue […]

He was a “cowboy.” A reckless and dashing rider, yet mindful of his horse’s needs; good-humored by nature, but quick in quarrel; independent of circumstance, yet shy and sensitive of opinion; abstemious by education and general habit, yet intemperate in amusement; self-centred, yet possessed of a childish vanity,–taken altogether, a characteristic product of the Western […]

Two Americans

Story type: Literature

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Perhaps if there was anything important in the migration of the Maynard family to Europe it rested solely upon the singular fact that Mr. Maynard did not go there in the expectation of marrying his daughter to a nobleman. A Charleston merchant, whose house represented two honorable generations, had, thirty years ago, a certain self-respect […]

The wind was getting up on the Bolinas Plain. It had started the fine alkaline dust along the level stage road, so that even that faint track, the only break in the monotony of the landscape, seemed fainter than ever. But the dust cloud was otherwise a relief; it took the semblance of distant woods […]

He was such a large, strong man that, when he first set foot in the little parallelogram I called my garden, it seemed to shrink to half its size and become preposterous. But I noticed at the same time that he was holding in the open palm of his huge hand the roots of a […]

The Passing Of Enriquez

Story type: Literature

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When Enriquez Saltillo ran away with Miss Mannersley, her relatives and friends found it much easier to forgive that ill-assorted union than to understand it. For, after all, Enriquez was the scion of an old Spanish-Californian family, and in due time would have his share of his father’s three square leagues, whatever incongruity there was […]

Salomy Jane’s Kiss

Story type: Literature

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Only one shot had been fired. It had gone wide of its mark,–the ringleader of the Vigilantes,–and had left Red Pete, who had fired it, covered by their rifles and at their mercy. For his hand had been cramped by hard riding, and his eye distracted by their sudden onset, and so the inevitable end […]

See Yup

Story type: Literature

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I don’t suppose that his progenitors ever gave him that name, or, indeed, that it was a NAME at all; but it was currently believed that–as pronounced “See UP”–it meant that lifting of the outer angle of the eye common to the Mongolian. On the other hand, I had been told that there was an […]

“Then it isn’t a question of property or next of kin?” said the consul. “Lord! no,” said the lady vivaciously. “Why, goodness me! I reckon old Desborough could, at any time before he died, have ‘bought up’ or ‘bought out’ the whole lot of his relatives on this side of the big pond, no matter […]

They were partners. The avuncular title was bestowed on them by Cedar Camp, possibly in recognition of a certain matured good humor, quite distinct from the spasmodic exuberant spirits of its other members, and possibly from what, to its youthful sense, seemed their advanced ages–which must have been at least forty! They had also set […]

"Unser Karl"

Story type: Literature

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The American consul for Schlachtstadt had just turned out of the broad Konig’s Allee into the little square that held his consulate. Its residences always seemed to him to wear that singularly uninhabited air peculiar to a street scene in a theatre. The facades, with their stiff, striped wooden awnings over the windows, were of […]

A Jersey Centenarian

Story type: Literature

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I have seen her at last. She is a hundred and seven years old, and remembers George Washington quite distinctly. It is somewhat confusing, however, that she also remembers a contemporaneous Josiah W. Perkins of Basking Ridge, N. J., and, I think, has the impression that Perkins was the better man. Perkins, at the close […]

Baby Sylvester

Story type: Literature

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It was at a little mining-camp in the California Sierras that he first dawned upon me in all his grotesque sweetness. I had arrived early in the morning, but not in time to intercept the friend who was the object of my visit. He had gone “prospecting,”–so they told me on the river,–and would not […]

The Fool Of Five Forks

Story type: Literature

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He lived alone. I do not think this peculiarity arose from any wish to withdraw his foolishness from the rest of the camp, nor was it probable that the combined wisdom of Five Forks ever drove him into exile. My impression is, that he lived alone from choice,–a choice he made long before the camp […]

I think we all loved him. Even after he mismanaged the affairs of the Amity Ditch Company, we commiserated him, although most of us were stockholders, and lost heavily. I remember that the blacksmith went so far as to say that “them chaps as put that responsibility on the old man oughter be lynched.” But […]

He always thought it must have been fate. Certainly nothing could have been more inconsistent with his habits than to have been in the Plaza at seven o’clock of that midsummer morning. The sight of his colorless face in Sacramento was rare at that season, and, indeed, at any season, anywhere publicly, before two o’clock […]

Wan Lee, The Pagan

Story type: Literature

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As I opened Hop Sing’s letter, there fluttered to the ground a square strip of yellow paper covered with hieroglyphics, which, at first glance, I innocently took to be the label from a pack of Chinese fire-crackers. But the same envelope also contained a smaller strip of rice-paper, with two Chinese characters traced in India […]

The Rose Of Tuolumne

Story type: Literature

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CHAPTER I It was nearly two o’clock in the morning. The lights were out in Robinson’s Hall, where there had been dancing and revelry; and the moon, riding high, painted the black windows with silver. The cavalcade, that an hour ago had shocked the sedate pines with song and laughter, were all dispersed. One enamoured […]

Morning On The Avenue

Story type: Literature

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NOTES BY AN EARLY RISER I have always been an early riser. The popular legend that “Early to bed and early to rise,” invariably and rhythmically resulted in healthfulness, opulence, and wisdom, I beg here to solemnly protest against. As an “unhealthy” man, as an “unwealthy” man, and doubtless by virtue of this protest an […]

With The Entrees

Story type: Literature

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“Once, when I was a pirate–!” The speaker was an elderly gentleman in correct evening dress, the room a tasteful one, the company of infinite respectability, the locality at once fashionable and exclusive, the occasion an unexceptionable dinner. To this should be added that the speaker was also the host. With these conditions self-evident, all […]

It was in a Pullman sleeping-car on a Western road. After that first plunge into unconsciousness which the weary traveler takes on getting into his berth, I awakened to the dreadful revelation that I had been asleep only two hours. The greater part of a long winter night was before me to face with staring […]

The Office Seeker

Story type: Literature

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He asked me if I had ever seen the “Remus Sentinel.” I replied that I had not, and would have added that I did not even know where Remus was, when he continued by saying it was strange the hotel proprietor did not keep the “Sentinel” on his files, and that he, himself, should write […]

The Man From Solano

Story type: Literature

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He came toward me out of an opera lobby, between the acts,–a figure as remarkable as anything in the performance. His clothes, no two articles of which were of the same color, had the appearance of having been purchased and put on only an hour or two before,–a fact more directly established by the clothes-dealer’s […]

My Friend, The Tramp

Story type: Literature

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I had been sauntering over the clover downs of a certain noted New England seaport. It was a Sabbath morning, so singularly reposeful and gracious, so replete with the significance of the seventh day of rest, that even the Sabbath bells ringing a mile away over the salt marshes had little that was monitory, mandatory, […]

He was a spare man, and, physically, an ill-conditioned man, but at first glance scarcely a seedy man. The indications of reduced circumstances in the male of the better class are, I fancy, first visible in the boots and shirt; the boots offensively exhibiting a degree of polish inconsistent with their dilapidated condition, and the […]

The Hoodlum Band

Story type: Literature

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THE BOY CHIEF, THE INFANT POLITICIAN, AND THE PIRATE PRODIGY CHAPTER I It was a quiet New England village. Nowhere in the valley of the Connecticut the autumn sun shone upon a more peaceful, pastoral, manufacturing community. The wooden nutmegs were slowly ripening on the trees, and the white pine hams for Western consumption were […]

A Ghost Of The Sierras

Story type: Literature

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It was a vast silence of pines, redolent with balsamic breath, and muffled with the dry dust of dead bark and matted mosses. Lying on our backs, we looked upward through a hundred feet of clear, unbroken interval to the first lateral branches that formed the flat canopy above us. Here and there the fierce […]

“Stranger!” The voice was not loud, but clear and penetrating. I looked vainly up and down the narrow, darkening trail. No one in the fringe of alder ahead; no one on the gullied slope behind. “O! stranger!” This time a little impatiently. The California classical vocative, “O,” always meant business. I looked up, and perceived […]

Roger Catron’s Friend

Story type: Literature

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I think that, from the beginning, we all knew how it would end. He had always been so quiet and conventional, although by nature an impulsive man; always so temperate and abstemious, although a man with a quick appreciation of pleasure; always so cautious and practical, although an imaginative man, that when, at last, one […]

"Jinny"

Story type: Literature

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I think that the few who were permitted to know and love the object of this sketch spent the rest of their days not only in an attitude of apology for having at first failed to recognize her higher nature, but of remorse that they should have ever lent a credulous ear to a priori […]

It never was clearly ascertained how long they had been there. The first settler of Rough-and-Ready–one Low, playfully known to his familiars as “The Poor Indian”–declared that the Saints were afore his time, and occupied a cabin in the brush when he “blazed” his way to the North Fork. It is certain that the two […]

The Man On The Beach

Story type: Literature

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I He lived beside a river that emptied into a great ocean. The narrow strip of land that lay between him and the estuary was covered at high tide by a shining film of water, at low tide with the cast-up offerings of sea and shore. Logs yet green, and saplings washed away from inland […]

When the waters were up at “Jules’” there was little else up on that monotonous level. For the few inhabitants who calmly and methodically moved to higher ground, camping out in tents until the flood had subsided, left no distracting wreckage behind them. A dozen half-submerged log cabins dotted the tranquil surface of the waters, […]

Trent’s Trust

Story type: Literature

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I Randolph Trent stepped from the Stockton boat on the San Francisco wharf, penniless, friendless, and unknown. Hunger might have been added to his trials, for, having paid his last coin in passage money, he had been a day and a half without food. Yet he knew it only by an occasional lapse into weakness […]

Sally Dows

Story type: Literature

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PROLOGUE. THE LAST GUN AT SNAKE RIVER. What had been in the cool gray of that summer morning a dewy country lane, marked only by a few wagon tracks that never encroached upon its grassy border, and indented only by the faint footprints of a crossing fox or coon, was now, before high noon, already […]

It is to be feared that the hero of this chronicle began life as an impostor. He was offered to the credulous and sympathetic family of a San Francisco citizen as a lamb, who, unless bought as a playmate for the children, would inevitably pass into the butcher’s hands. A combination of refined sensibility and […]

There was surprise and sometimes disappointment in Rough and Ready, when it was known that Dick Spindler intended to give a “family” Christmas party at his own house. That he should take an early opportunity to celebrate his good fortune and show hospitality was only expected from the man who had just made a handsome […]

Even to the eye of the most inexperienced traveler there was no doubt that Buena Vista was a “played-out” mining camp. There, seamed and scarred by hydraulic engines, was the old hillside, over whose denuded surface the grass had begun to spring again in fitful patches; there were the abandoned heaps of tailings already blackened […]

The editorial sanctum of the “Calaveras Clarion” opened upon the “composing-room” of that paper on the one side, and gave apparently upon the rest of Calaveras County upon the other. For, situated on the very outskirts of the settlement and the summit of a very steep hill, the pines sloped away from the editorial windows […]

It was at best merely a rocky trail winding along a shelf of the eastern slope of the Santa Cruz range, yet the only road between the sea and the inland valley. The hoof-prints of a whole century of zigzagging mules were impressed on the soil, regularly soaked by winter rains and dried by summer […]

It had been raining in the valley of the Sacramento. The North Fork had overflowed its banks and Rattlesnake Creek was impassable. The few boulders that had marked the summer ford at Simpson’s Crossing were obliterated by a vast sheet of water stretching to the foothills. The up stage was stopped at Grangers; the last […]

PART I–WEST. The sun was rising in the foot-hills. But for an hour the black mass of Sierra eastward of Angel’s had been outlined with fire, and the conventional morning had come two hours before with the down coach from Placerville. The dry, cold, dewless California night still lingered in the long canyons and folded […]

She was a Klamath Indian. Her title was, I think, a compromise between her claim as daughter of a chief, and gratitude to her earliest white protector, whose name, after the Indian fashion, she had adopted. “Bob” Walker had taken her from the breast of her dead mother at a time when the sincere volunteer […]

The latch on the garden gate of the Folinsbee Ranch clicked twice. The gate itself was so much in shadow that lovely night, that “old man Folinsbee,” sitting on his porch, could distinguish nothing but a tall white hat and beside it a few fluttering ribbons, under the pines that marked the entrance. Whether because […]

We all knew that Mr. Thompson was looking for his son, and a pretty bad one at that. That he was coming to California for this sole object was no secret to his fellow-passengers; and the physical peculiarities, as well as the moral weaknesses, of the missing prodigal were made equally plain to us through […]

The Poet Of Sierra Flat

Story type: Literature

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As the enterprising editor of the “Sierra Flat Record” stood at his case setting type for his next week’s paper, he could not help hearing the woodpeckers who were busy on the roof above his head. It occurred to him that possibly the birds had not yet learned to recognize in the rude structure any […]

CHAPTER I It was an enormous wheat-field in the Santa Clara valley, stretching to the horizon line unbroken. The meridian sun shone upon it without glint or shadow; but at times, when a stronger gust of the trade winds passed over it, there was a quick slanting impression of the whole surface that was, however, […]

On the northerly shore of San Francisco Bay, at a point where the Golden Gate broadens into the Pacific stands a bluff promontory. It affords shelter from the prevailing winds to a semicircular bay on the east. Around this bay the hillside is bleak and barren, but there are traces of former habitation in a […]

The church clocks in San Francisco were striking ten. The Devil, who had been flying over the city that evening, just then alighted on the roof of a church near the corner of Bush and Montgomery Streets. It will be perceived that the popular belief that the Devil avoids holy edifices, and vanishes at the […]

THE OGRESS OF SILVER LAND; OR, THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF PRINCE BADFELLAH AND PRINCE BULLEBOYE. In the second year of the reign of the renowned Caliph Lo there dwelt in SILVER LAND, adjoining his territory, a certain terrible ogress. She lived in the bowels of a dismal mountain, where she was in the habit of […]

A STORY FOR LITTLE SOLDIERS. It was the Christmas season in California,–a season of falling rain and springing grasses. There were intervals when, through driving clouds and flying scud, the sun visited the haggard hills with a miracle, and death and resurrection were as one, and out of the very throes of decay a joyous […]

PART I. On the northerly shore of San Francisco Bay a line of bluffs terminates in a promontory, at whose base, formed by the crumbling debris of the cliff above, there is a narrow stretch of beach, salt meadow, and scrub oak. The abrupt wall of rock behind it seems to isolate it as completely […]

PART I. The tiny lights that had been far scattered and intermittent as fireflies all along the dark stream at last dropped out one by one, leaving only the three windows of “Parks’ Emporium” to pierce the profoundly wooded banks of the South Fork. So all-pervading was the darkness that the mere opening of the […]

PART I. It was bitterly cold. When night fell over Lakeville, Wisconsin, the sunset, which had flickered rather than glowed in the western sky, took upon itself a still more boreal tremulousness, until at last it seemed to fade away in cold blue shivers to the zenith. Nothing else stirred; in the crisp still air […]

CHAPTER I It had grown dark on Burnt Ridge. Seen from below, the whole serrated crest that had glittered in the sunset as if its interstices were eaten by consuming fires, now, closed up its ranks of blackened shafts and became again harsh and sombre chevaux de frise against the sky. A faint glow still […]

CHAPTER I “Come in,” said the editor. The door of the editorial room of the “Excelsior Magazine” began to creak painfully under the hesitating pressure of an uncertain and unfamiliar hand. This continued until with a start of irritation the editor faced directly about, throwing his leg over the arm of his chair with a […]

CHAPTER I As Mr. Robert Rushbrook, known to an imaginative press as the “Maecenas of the Pacific Slope,” drove up to his country seat, equally referred to as a “palatial villa,” he cast a quick but practical look at the pillared pretensions of that enormous shell of wood and paint and plaster. The statement, also […]

I. The steamer Silveropolis was sharply and steadily cleaving the broad, placid shallows of the Sacramento River. A large wave like an eagre, diverging from its bow, was extending to either bank, swamping the tules and threatening to submerge the lower levees. The great boat itself–a vast but delicate structure of airy stories, hanging galleries, […]

I. We all held our breath as the coach rushed through the semi-darkness of Galloper’s Ridge. The vehicle itself was only a huge lumbering shadow; its side-lights were carefully extinguished, and Yuba Bill had just politely removed from the lips of an outside passenger even the cigar with which he had been ostentatiously exhibiting his […]

I. It was a freshly furrowed field, so large that the eye at first scarcely took in its magnitude. The irregular surface of upturned, oily, wave-shaped clods took the appearance of a vast, black, chopping sea, that reached from the actual shore of San Francisco Bay to the low hills of the Coast Range. The […]

I. The consul for the United States of America at the port of St. Kentigern was sitting alone in the settled gloom of his private office. Yet it was only high noon, of a “seasonable” winter’s day, by the face of the clock that hung like a pallid moon on the murky wall opposite to […]

I. The rain was dripping monotonously from the scant eaves of the little church of the Sidon Brethren at West Woodlands. Hewn out of the very heart of a thicket of buckeye spruce and alder, unsunned and unblown upon by any wind, it was so green and unseasoned in its solitude that it seemed a […]

I. For many minutes there had been no sound but the monotonous drumming of the rain on the roof of the coach, the swishing of wheels through the gravelly mud, and the momentary clatter of hoofs upon some rocky outcrop in the road. Conversation had ceased; the light-hearted young editor in the front seat, more […]

As night crept up from the valley that stormy afternoon, Sawyer’s Ledge was at first quite blotted out by wind and rain, but presently reappeared in little nebulous star-like points along the mountain side, as the straggling cabins of the settlement were one by one lit up by the miners returning from tunnel and claim. […]

The Youngest Miss Piper

Story type: Literature

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I do not think that any of us who enjoyed the acquaintance of the Piper girls or the hospitality of Judge Piper, their father, ever cared for the youngest sister. Not on account of her extreme youth, for the eldest Miss Piper confessed to twenty-six–and the youth of the youngest sister was established solely, I […]

The Widow Wade was standing at her bedroom window staring out, in that vague instinct which compels humanity in moments of doubt and perplexity to seek this change of observation or superior illumination. Not that Mrs. Wade’s disturbance was of a serious character. She had passed the acute stage of widowhood by at least two […]

Some forty years ago, on the northern coast of California, near the Golden Gate, stood a lighthouse. Of a primitive class, since superseded by a building more in keeping with the growing magnitude of the adjacent port, it attracted little attention from the desolate shore, and, it was alleged, still less from the desolate sea […]

The junior partner of the firm of Sparlow & Kane, “Druggists and Apothecaries,” of San Francisco, was gazing meditatively out of the corner of the window of their little shop in Dupont Street. He could see the dimly lit perspective of the narrow thoroughfare fade off into the level sand wastes of Market Street on […]

Under The Eaves

Story type: Literature

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The assistant editor of the San Francisco “Daily Informer” was going home. So much of his time was spent in the office of the “Informer” that no one ever cared to know where he passed those six hours of sleep which presumably suggested a domicile. His business appointments outside the office were generally kept at […]

Mr. Jackson Potter halted before the little cottage, half shop, half hostelry, opposite the great gates of Domesday Park, where tickets of admission to that venerable domain were sold. Here Mr. Potter revealed his nationality as a Western American, not only in his accent, but in a certain half-humorous, half-practical questioning of the ticket-seller–as that […]

“Oh! it’s you, is it?” said the Editor. The Chinese boy to whom the colloquialism was addressed answered literally, after his habit:– “Allee same Li Tee; me no changee. Me no ollee China boy.” “That’s so,” said the Editor with an air of conviction. “I don’t suppose there’s another imp like you in all Trinidad […]

A Romance Of The Line

Story type: Literature

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As the train moved slowly out of the station, the Writer of Stories looked up wearily from the illustrated pages of the magazines and weeklies on his lap to the illustrated advertisements on the walls of the station sliding past his carriage windows. It was getting to be monotonous. For a while he had been […]

It is but just to the respectable memory of San Francisco that in these vagrant recollections I should deprecate at once any suggestion that the levity of my title described its dominant tone at any period of my early experiences. On the contrary, it was a singular fact that while the rest of California was […]

Thankful Blossom

Story type: Literature

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I The time was the year of grace 1779; the locality, Morristown, New Jersey. It was bitterly cold. A northeasterly wind had been stiffening the mud of the morning’s thaw into a rigid record of that day’s wayfaring on the Baskingridge road. The hoof-prints of cavalry, the deep ruts left by baggage-wagons, and the deeper […]

I first knew her as the Queen of the Pirate Isle. To the best of my recollection she had no reasonable right to that title. She was only nine years old, inclined to plumpness and good humor, deprecated violence, and had never been to sea. Need it be added that she did NOT live in […]

The cautious reader will detect a lack of authenticity in the following pages. I am not a cautious reader myself, yet I confess with some concern to the absence of much documentary evidence in support of the singular incident I am about to relate. Disjointed memoranda, the proceedings of ayuntamientos and early departmental juntas, with […]

One pleasant New Year’s Eve, about forty years ago, Padre Vicentio was slowly picking his way across the sand-hills from the Mission Dolores. As he climbed the crest of the ridge beside Mission Creek, his broad, shining face might have been easily mistaken for the beneficent image of the rising moon, so bland was its […]

Towards the close of the nineteenth century the city of San Francisco was totally ingulfed by an earthquake. Although the whole coast-line must have been much shaken, the accident seems to have been purely local, and even the city of Oakland escaped. Schwappelfurt, the celebrated German geologist, has endeavored to explain this singular fact by […]

A Night At Wingdam

Story type: Literature

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I had been stage-ridden and bewildered all day, and when we swept down with the darkness into the Arcadian hamlet of “Wingdam,” I resolved to go no farther, and rolled out in a gloomy and dyspeptic state. The effects of a mysterious pie, and some sweetened carbonic acid known to the proprietor of the “Half-Way […]

I. There was little doubt that the Lone Star claim was “played out.” Not dug out, worked out, washed out, but played out. For two years its five sanguine proprietors had gone through the various stages of mining enthusiasm; had prospected and planned, dug and doubted. They had borrowed money with hearty but unredeeming frankness, […]

PROLOGUE. It was noon of the 10th of August, 1838. The monotonous coast line between Monterey and San Diego had set its hard outlines against the steady glare of the Californian sky and the metallic glitter of the Pacific Ocean. The weary succession of rounded, dome-like hills obliterated all sense of distance; the rare whaling […]

Found At Blazing Star

Story type: Literature

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The rain had only ceased with the gray streaks of morning at Blazing Star, and the settlement awoke to a moral sense of cleanliness, and the finding of forgotten knives, tin cups, and smaller camp utensils, where the heavy showers had washed away the debris and dust heaps before the cabin doors. Indeed, it was […]

A Blue-Grass Penelope

Story type: Literature

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I. She was barely twenty-three years old. It is probable that up to that age, and the beginning of this episode, her life had been uneventful. Born to the easy mediocrity of such compensating extremes as a small farmhouse and large lands, a good position and no society, in that vast grazing district of Kentucky […]

CHAPTER I. The mail stage had just passed Laurel Run,–so rapidly that the whirling cloud of dust dragged with it down the steep grade from the summit hung over the level long after the stage had vanished, and then, drifting away, slowly sifted a red precipitate over the hot platform of the Laurel Run post-office. […]

Rupert The Resembler

Story type: Literature

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RUPERT THE RESEMBLER By A–TH–Y H-PE CHAPTER I RUDOLPH OF TRULYRURALANIA When I state that I was own brother to Lord Burleydon, had an income of two thousand a year, could speak all the polite languages fluently, was a powerful swordsman, a good shot, and could ride anything from an elephant to a clotheshorse, I […]

CHAPTER I. The schoolmistress of Pine Clearing was taking a last look around her schoolroom before leaving it for the day. She might have done so with pride, for the schoolroom was considered a marvel of architectural elegance by the citizens, and even to the ordinary observer was a pretty, villa-like structure, with an open […]

Johnson’s "Old Woman"

Story type: Literature

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It was growing dark, and the Sonora trail was becoming more indistinct before me at every step. The difficulty had increased over the grassy slope, where the overflow from some smaller watercourse above had worn a number of diverging gullies so like the trail as to be undistinguishable from it. Unable to determine which was […]

A Night At "Hays"

Story type: Literature

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CHAPTER I. It was difficult to say if Hays’ farmhouse, or “Hays,” as it was familiarly called, looked any more bleak and cheerless that winter afternoon than it usually did in the strong summer sunshine. Painted a cold merciless white, with scant projections for shadows, a roof of white-pine shingles, bleached lighter through sun and […]

Her father’s house was nearly a mile from the sea, but the breath of it was always strong at the windows and doors in the early morning, and when there were heavy “southwesters” blowing in the winter, the wind brought the sharp sting of sand to her cheek, and the rain an odd taste of […]

In A Pioneer Restaurant

Story type: Literature

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CHAPTER I. There was probably no earthly reason why the “Poco Mas o Menos” Club of San Francisco should have ever existed, or why its five harmless, indistinctive members should not have met and dined together as ordinary individuals. Still less was there any justification for the gratuitous opinion which obtained, that it was bold, […]

There should have been snow on the ground to make the picture seasonable and complete, but the Western Barbarian had lived long enough in England to know that, except in the pages of a holiday supplement, this was rarely the accompaniment of a Christmas landscape, and he cheerfully accepted, on the 24th of December, the […]

It was a slightly cynical, but fairly good-humored crowd that had gathered before a warehouse on Long Wharf in San Francisco one afternoon in the summer of ’51. Although the occasion was an auction, the bidders’ chances more than usually hazardous, and the season and locality famous for reckless speculation, there was scarcely any excitement […]

An Heiress Of Red Dog

Story type: Literature

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The first intimation given of the eccentricity of the testator was, I think, in the spring of 1854. He was at that time in possession of a considerable property, heavily mortgaged to one friend, and a wife of some attraction, on whose affections another friend held an encumbering lien. One day it was found that […]

CHAPTER I. A CLOUD ON THE MOUNTAIN. They lived on the verge of a vast stony level, upheaved so far above the surrounding country that its vague outlines, viewed from the nearest valley, seemed a mere cloud-streak resting upon the lesser hills. The rush and roar of the turbulent river that washed its eastern base […]

Outside of my window, two narrow perpendicular mirrors, parallel with the casement, project into the street, yet with a certain unobtrusiveness of angle that enables them to reflect the people who pass, without any reciprocal disclosure of their own. The men and women hurrying by not only do not know they are observed, but, what […]

A Legend Of Sammtstadt

Story type: Literature

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It was the sacred hour of noon at Sammtstadt. Everybody was at dinner; and the serious Kellner of “Der Wildemann” glanced in mild reproach at Mr. James Clinch, who, disregarding that fact and the invitatory table d’hote, stepped into the street. For Mr. Clinch had eaten a late breakfast at Gladbach, was dyspeptic and American, […]

It was growing quite dark in the telegraph-office at Cottonwood, Tuolumne County, California. The office, a box-like enclosure, was separated from the public room of the Miners’ Hotel by a thin partition; and the operator, who was also news and express agent at Cottonwood, had closed his window, and was lounging by his news-stand preparatory […]

In the early days of the Californian immigration, on the extremest point of the sandy peninsula, where the bay of San Francisco debouches into the Pacific, there stood a semaphore telegraph. Tossing its black arms against the sky,–with its back to the Golden Gate and that vast expanse of sea whose nearest shore was Japan,–it […]

At nightfall it began to rain. The wind arose too, and also began to buffet a small, struggling, nondescript figure, creeping along the trail over the rocky upland meadow towards Rylands’s rancho. At times its head was hidden in what appeared to be wings thrown upward from its shoulders; at times its broad-brimmed hat was […]

Oh, you’re the girl lives on the corner? Come in–if you want to–come quick! There’s no one but me in the house, and the cook–but she’s only a stick. Don’t try the front way, but come over the fence–through the window–that’s how. Don’t mind the big dog–he won’t bite you–just see him obey me! there, […]

“Crying!” Of course I am crying, and I guess you would be crying, too, If people were telling such stories as they tell about me, about YOU. Oh yes, you can laugh if you want to, and smoke as you didn’t care how, And get your brains softened like uncle’s. Dr. Jones says you’re gettin’ […]

On The Landing

Story type: Poetry

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(AN IDYL OF THE BALUSTERS) BOBBY, aetat. 3 1/2. JOHNNY, aetat. 4 1/2. BOBBY Do you know why they’ve put us in that back room, Up in the attic, close against the sky, And made believe our nursery’s a cloak-room? Do you know why? JOHNNY No more I don’t, nor why that Sammy’s mother, What […]

Our window’s not much, though it fronts on the street; There’s a fly in the pane that gets nothin’ to eat; But it’s curious how people think it’s a treat For ME to look out of the window! Why, when company comes, and they’re all speaking low, With their chairs drawn together, then some one […]

If Mr. Jones, Lycurgus B., Had one peculiar quality, ‘Twas his severe advocacy Of conjugal fidelity. His views of heaven were very free; His views of life were painfully Ridiculous; but fervently He dwelt on marriage sanctity. He frequently went on a spree; But in his wildest revelry, On this especial subject he Betrayed no […]

Beetling walls with ivy grown, Frowning heights of mossy stone; Turret, with its flaunting flag Flung from battlemented crag; Dungeon-keep and fortalice Looking down a precipice O’er the darkly glancing wave By the Lurline-haunted cave; Robber haunt and maiden bower, Home of Love and Crime and Power,– That’s the scenery, in fine, Of the Legends […]

(OPENING OF THE PACIFIC RAILROAD) What was it the Engines said, Pilots touching,–head to head Facing on the single track, Half a world behind each back? This is what the Engines said, Unreported and unread. With a prefatory screech, In a florid Western speech, Said the Engine from the WEST: “I am from Sierra’s crest; […]

(ON THE APPROACH OF SPRING) Oh, come, my beloved, from thy winter abode, From thy home on the Yuba, thy ranch overflowed; For the waters have fallen, the winter has fled, And the river once more has returned to its bed. Oh, mark how the spring in its beauty is near! How the fences and […]

II. THE HOMELY PATHETIC The dews are heavy on my brow; My breath comes hard and low; Yet, mother dear, grant one request, Before your boy must go. Oh! lift me ere my spirit sinks, And ere my senses fail, Place me once more, O mother dear, Astride the old fence-rail. The old fence-rail, the […]

Affection’s charm no longer gilds The idol of the shrine; But cold Oblivion seeks to fill Regret’s ambrosial wine. Though Friendship’s offering buried lies ‘Neath cold Aversion’s snow, Regard and Faith will ever bloom Perpetually below. I see thee whirl in marble halls, In Pleasure’s giddy train; Remorse is never on that brow, Nor Sorrow’s […]

My Papa knows you, and he says you’re a man who makes reading for books; But I never read nothing you wrote, nor did Papa,–I know by his looks. So I guess you’re like me when I talk, and I talk, and I talk all the day, And they only say, “Do stop that child!” […]

It was spring the first time that I saw her, for her papa and mamma moved in Next door, just as skating was over, and marbles about to begin; For the fence in our back yard was broken, and I saw, as I peeped through the slat, There were “Johnny-jump-ups” all around her, and I […]

I have found out a gift for my fair; I know where the fossils abound, Where the footprints of Aves declare The birds that once walked on the ground. Oh, come, and–in technical speech– We’ll walk this Devonian shore, Or on some Silurian beach We’ll wander, my love, evermore. I will show thee the sinuous […]

(BEING THE ONLY GENUINE SEQUEL TO “MAUD MULLER”) Maud Muller all that summer day Raked the meadow sweet with hay; Yet, looking down the distant lane, She hoped the Judge would come again. But when he came, with smile and bow, Maud only blushed, and stammered, “Ha-ow?” And spoke of her “pa,” and wondered whether […]

Oh, say, have you seen at the Willows so green– So charming and rurally true– A singular bird, with a manner absurd, Which they call the Australian Emeu? Have you Ever seen this Australian Emeu? It trots all around with its head on the ground, Or erects it quite out of your view; And the […]

North Beach

Story type: Poetry

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(AFTER SPENSER) Lo! where the castle of bold Pfeiffer throws Its sullen shadow on the rolling tide,– No more the home where joy and wealth repose, But now where wassailers in cells abide; See yon long quay that stretches far and wide, Well known to citizens as wharf of Meiggs: There each sweet Sabbath walks […]

Avitor

Story type: Poetry

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(AN AERIAL RETROSPECT) What was it filled my youthful dreams, In place of Greek or Latin themes, Or beauty’s wild, bewildering beams? Avitor! What visions and celestial scenes I filled with aerial machines, Montgolfier’s and Mr. Green’s! Avitor! What fairy tales seemed things of course! The roc that brought Sindbad across, The Calendar’s own winged […]

The Ritualist

Story type: Poetry

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(BY A COMMUNICANT OF “ST. JAMES’S”) He wore, I think, a chasuble, the day when first we met; A stole and snowy alb likewise,–I recollect it yet. He called me “daughter,” as he raised his jeweled hand to bless; And then, in thrilling undertones, he asked, “Would I confess?” O mother dear! blame not your […]

High on the Thracian hills, half hid in the billows of clover, Thyme, and the asphodel blooms, and lulled by Pactolian streamlet, She of Miletus lay, and beside her an aged satyr Scratched his ear with his hoof, and playfully mumbled his chestnuts. Vainly the Maenid and the Bassarid gamboled about her, The free-eyed Bacchante […]

When I bought you for a song, Years ago–Lord knows how long!– I was struck–I may be wrong– By your features, And–a something in your air That I couldn’t quite compare To my other plain or fair Fellow creatures. In your simple, oval frame You were not well known to fame, But to me–’twas all […]

Did I ever tell you, my dears, the way That the birds of Cisseter–“Cisseter!” eh? Well “Ciren-cester”–one OUGHT to say, From “Castra,” or “Caster,” As your Latin master Will further explain to you some day; Though even the wisest err, And Shakespeare writes “Ci-cester,” While every visitor Who doesn’t say “Cissiter” Is in “Ciren-cester” considered […]

DEAD AT PITTSFIELD, MASS., 1876 O poor Romancer–thou whose printed page, Filled with rude speech and ruder forms of strife, Was given to heroes in whose vulgar rage No trace appears of gentler ways and life!– Thou who wast wont of commoner clay to build Some rough Achilles or some Ajax tall; Thou whose free […]

Behind the footlights hangs the rusty baize, A trifle shabby in the upturned blaze Of flaring gas and curious eyes that gaze. The stage, methinks, perhaps is none too wide, And hardly fit for royal Richard’s stride, Or Falstaff’s bulk, or Denmark’s youthful pride. Ah, well! no passion walks its humble boards; O’er it no […]

Her Last Letter

Story type: Poetry

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BEING A REPLY TO “HIS ANSWER” June 4th! Do you know what that date means? June 4th! By this air and these pines! Well,–only you know how I hate scenes,– These might be my very last lines! For perhaps, sir, you’ll kindly remember– If some OTHER things you’ve forgot– That you last wrote the 4th […]

(LEGEND OF THE CLIFF HOUSE, SAN FRANCISCO) Where the sturdy ocean breeze Drives the spray of roaring seas, That the Cliff House balconies Overlook: There, in spite of rain that balked, With his sandals duly chalked, Once upon a tight-rope walked Mr. Cooke. But the jester’s lightsome mien, And his spangles and his sheen, All […]

To The Pliocene Skull* (A GEOLOGICAL ADDRESS) “Speak, O man, less recent! Fragmentary fossil! Primal pioneer of pliocene formation, Hid in lowest drifts below the earliest stratum Of volcanic tufa! “Older than the beasts, the oldest Palaeotherium; Older than the trees, the oldest Cryptogami; Older than the hills, those infantile eruptions Of earth’s epidermis! “Eo–Mio–Plio–whatsoe’er […]

Wondering maiden, so puzzled and fair, Why dost thou murmur and ponder and stare? “Why are my eyelids so open and wild?” Only the better to see with, my child! Only the better and clearer to view Cheeks that are rosy and eyes that are blue. Dost thou still wonder, and ask why these arms […]

Don’t mind me, I beg you, old fellow,–I’ll do very well here alone; You must not be kept from your “German” because I’ve dropped in like a stone. Leave all ceremony behind you, leave all thought of aught but yourself; And leave, if you like, the Madeira, and a dozen cigars on the shelf. As […]

The Old Camp-Fire

Story type: Poetry

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Now shift the blanket pad before your saddle back you fling, And draw your cinch up tighter till the sweat drops from the ring: We’ve a dozen miles to cover ere we reach the next divide. Our limbs are stiffer now than when we first set out to ride, And worse, the horses know it, […]

O joy of creation To be! O rapture to fly And be free! Be the battle lost or won, Though its smoke shall hide the sun, I shall find my love,–the one Born for me! I shall know him where he stands, All alone, With the power in his hands Not o’erthrown; I shall know […]

“So she’s here, your unknown Dulcinea, the lady you met on the train, And you really believe she would know you if you were to meet her again?” “Of course,” he replied, “she would know me; there never was womankind yet Forgot the effect she inspired. She excuses, but does not forget.” “Then you told […]

O bells that rang, O bells that sang Above the martyrs’ wilderness, Till from that reddened coast-line sprang The Gospel seed to cheer and bless, What are your garnered sheaves to-day? O Mission bells! Eleison bells! O Mission bells of Monterey! O bells that crash, O bells that clash Above the chimney-crowded plain, On wall […]

An empty bench, a sky of grayest etching, A bare, bleak shed in blackest silhouette, Twelve years of platform, and before them stretching Twelve miles of prairie glimmering through the wet. North, south, east, west,–the same dull gray persistence, The tattered vapors of a vanished train, The narrowing rails that meet to pierce the distance, […]

"Crotalus"

Story type: Poetry

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(RATTLESNAKE BAR, SIERRAS) No life in earth, or air, or sky; The sunbeams, broken silently, On the bared rocks around me lie,– Cold rocks with half-warmed lichens scarred, And scales of moss; and scarce a yard Away, one long strip, yellow-barred. Lost in a cleft! ‘Tis but a stride To reach it, thrust its roots […]

Above the bones St. Ursula owns, And those of the virgins she chaperons; Above the boats, And the bridge that floats, And the Rhine and the steamers’ smoky throats; Above the chimneys and quaint-tiled roofs, Above the clatter of wheels and hoofs; Above Newmarket’s open space, Above that consecrated place Where the genuine bones of […]

(SEQUOIA GIGANTEA) Brown foundling of the Western wood, Babe of primeval wildernesses! Long on my table thou hast stood Encounters strange and rude caresses; Perchance contented with thy lot, Surroundings new, and curious faces, As though ten centuries were not Imprisoned in thy shining cases. Thou bring’st me back the halcyon days Of grateful rest, […]

Name of my heroine, simply “Rose;” Surname, tolerable only in prose; Habitat, Paris,–that is where She resided for change of air; Aetat twenty; complexion fair; Rich, good looking, and debonnaire; Smarter than Jersey lightning. There! That’s her photograph, done with care. In Paris, whatever they do besides, EVERY LADY IN FULL DRESS RIDES! Moire antiques […]

Alnaschar

Story type: Poetry

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Here’s yer toy balloons! All sizes! Twenty cents for that. It rises Jest as quick as that ‘ere, Miss, Twice as big. Ye see it is Some more fancy. Make it square Fifty for ’em both. That’s fair. That’s the sixth I’ve sold since noon. Trade’s reviving. Just as soon As this lot’s worked off, […]

Lone Mountain

Story type: Poetry

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(CEMETERY, SAN FRANCISCO) This is that hill of awe That Persian Sindbad saw,– The mount magnetic; And on its seaward face, Scattered along its base, The wrecks prophetic. Here come the argosies Blown by each idle breeze, To and fro shifting; Yet to the hill of Fate All drawing, soon or late,– Day by day […]

Address

Story type: Poetry

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(OPENING OF THE CALIFORNIA THEATRE, SAN FRANCISCO, JANUARY 19, 1870) Brief words, when actions wait, are well: The prompter’s hand is on his bell; The coming heroes, lovers, kings, Are idly lounging at the wings; Behind the curtain’s mystic fold The glowing future lies unrolled; And yet, one moment for the Past, One retrospect,–the first […]

The Two Ships

Story type: Poetry

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As I stand by the cross on the lone mountain’s crest, Looking over the ultimate sea, In the gloom of the mountain a ship lies at rest, And one sails away from the lea: One spreads its white wings on a far-reaching track, With pennant and sheet flowing free; One hides in the shadow with […]

Dolly Varden

Story type: Poetry

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Dear Dolly! who does not recall The thrilling page that pictured all Those charms that held our sense in thrall Just as the artist caught her,– As down that English lane she tripped, In bowered chintz, hat sideways tipped, Trim-bodiced, bright-eyed, roguish-lipped,– The locksmith’s pretty daughter? Sweet fragment of the Master’s art! O simple faith! […]

To A Sea-Bird

Story type: Poetry

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(SANTA CRUZ, 1869) Sauntering hither on listless wings, Careless vagabond of the sea, Little thou heedest the surf that sings, The bar that thunders, the shale that rings,– Give me to keep thy company. Little thou hast, old friend, that’s new; Storms and wrecks are old things to thee; Sick am I of these changes, […]

"Twenty Years"

Story type: Poetry

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Beg your pardon, old fellow! I think I was dreaming just now when you spoke. The fact is, the musical clink Of the ice on your wine-goblet’s brink A chord of my memory woke. And I stood in the pasture-field where Twenty summers ago I had stood; And I heard in that sound, I declare, […]

Dickens In Camp

Story type: Poetry

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“Dickens In Camp” is held by many admirers of Bret Harte to be his masterpiece of verse. The poem is so held for the evident sincerity and depth of feeling it displays as well as for the unusual quality of its poetic expression. Bret Harte has been generally accepted as the one American writer who […]

Over the chimney the night-wind sang And chanted a melody no one knew; And the Woman stopped, as her babe she tossed, And thought of the one she had long since lost, And said, as her teardrops back she forced, “I hate the wind in the chimney.” Over the chimney the night-wind sang And chanted […]

Guild’s Signal

Story type: Poetry

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[William Guild was engineer of the train which on the 19th of April, 1813, plunged into Meadow Brook, on the line of the Stonington and Providence Railroad. It was his custom, as often as he passed his home, to whistle an “All’s well” to his wife. He was found, after the disaster, dead, with his […]

(MASSACHUSETTS SHORE, 1800) I mind it was but yesterday: The sun was dim, the air was chill; Below the town, below the hill, The sails of my son’s ship did fill,– My Jacob, who was cast away. He said, “God keep you, mother dear,” But did not turn to kiss his wife; They had some […]

(A CHEMICAL NARRATIVE) Certain facts which serve to explain The physical charms of Miss Addie De Laine, Who, as the common reports obtain, Surpassed in complexion the lily and rose; With a very sweet mouth and a retrousse nose; A figure like Hebe’s, or that which revolves In a milliner’s window, and partially solves That […]

Jack Of The Tules

Story type: Poetry

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(SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) Shrewdly you question, Senor, and I fancy You are no novice. Confess that to little Of my poor gossip of Mission and Pueblo You are a stranger! Am I not right? Ah! believe me, that ever Since we joined company at the posada I’ve watched you closely, and–pardon an old priest– I’ve caught […]

A Newport Romance

Story type: Poetry

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They say that she died of a broken heart (I tell the tale as ’twas told to me); But her spirit lives, and her soul is part Of this sad old house by the sea. Her lover was fickle and fine and French: It was nearly a hundred years ago When he sailed away from […]

A Greyport Legend

Story type: Poetry

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(1797) They ran through the streets of the seaport town, They peered from the decks of the ships that lay; The cold sea-fog that came whitening down Was never as cold or white as they. “Ho, Starbuck and Pinckney and Tenterden! Run for your shallops, gather your men, Scatter your boats on the lower bay.” […]

By scattered rocks and turbid waters shifting, By furrowed glade and dell, To feverish men thy calm, sweet face uplifting, Thou stayest them to tell The delicate thought that cannot find expression, For ruder speech too fair, That, like thy petals, trembles in possession, And scatters on the air. The miner pauses in his rugged […]

San Francisco

Story type: Poetry

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(FROM THE SEA) Serene, indifferent of Fate, Thou sittest at the Western Gate; Upon thy height, so lately won, Still slant the banners of the sun; Thou seest the white seas strike their tents, O Warder of two continents! And, scornful of the peace that flies Thy angry winds and sullen skies, Thou drawest all […]

Madrono

Story type: Poetry

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Captain of the Western wood, Thou that apest Robin Hood! Green above thy scarlet hose, How thy velvet mantle shows! Never tree like thee arrayed, O thou gallant of the glade! When the fervid August sun Scorches all it looks upon, And the balsam of the pine Drips from stem to needle fine, Round thy […]

Grizzly

Story type: Poetry

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Coward,–of heroic size, In whose lazy muscles lies Strength we fear and yet despise; Savage,–whose relentless tusks Are content with acorn husks; Robber,–whose exploits ne’er soared O’er the bee’s or squirrel’s hoard; Whiskered chin and feeble nose, Claws of steel on baby toes,– Here, in solitude and shade, Shambling, shuffling plantigrade, Be thy courses undismayed! […]

Coyote

Story type: Poetry

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Blown out of the prairie in twilight and dew, Half bold and half timid, yet lazy all through; Loath ever to leave, and yet fearful to stay, He limps in the clearing, an outcast in gray. A shade on the stubble, a ghost by the wall, Now leaping, now limping, now risking a fall, Lop-eared […]

(MOUTH OF THE SHAFT) What I want is my husband, sir,– And if you’re a man, sir, You’ll give me an answer,– Where is my Joe? Penrhyn, sir, Joe,– Caernarvonshire. Six months ago Since we came here– Eh?–Ah, you know! Well, I am quiet And still, But I must stand here, And will! Please, I’ll […]

"Seventy-Nine"

Story type: Poetry

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(MR. INTERVIEWER INTERVIEWED) Know me next time when you see me, won’t you, old smarty? Oh, I mean YOU, old figger-head,–just the same party! Take out your pensivil, d–n you; sharpen it, do! Any complaints to make? Lots of ’em–one of ’em’s YOU. You! who are YOU, anyhow, goin’ round in that sneakin’ way? Never […]

Why, as to that, said the engineer, Ghosts ain’t things we are apt to fear; Spirits don’t fool with levers much, And throttle-valves don’t take to such; And as for Jim, What happened to him Was one half fact, and t’other half whim! Running one night on the line, he saw A house–as plain as […]

REPORTED BY TRUTHFUL JAMES It was Andrew Jackson Sutter who, despising Mr. Cutter for remarks he heard him utter in debate upon the floor, Swung him up into the skylight, in the peaceful, pensive twilight, and then keerlessly proceeded, makin’ no account what WE did– To wipe up with his person casual dust upon the […]

It was the stage-driver’s story, as he stood with his back to the wheelers, Quietly flecking his whip, and turning his quid of tobacco; While on the dusty road, and blent with the rays of the moonlight, We saw the long curl of his lash and the juice of tobacco descending. “Danger! Sir, I believe […]

Artemis In Sierra

Story type: Poetry

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DRAMATIS PERSONAE Poet. Philosopher. Jones of Mariposa. POET Halt! Here we are. Now wheel your mare a trifle Just where you stand; then doff your hat and swear Never yet was scene you might cover with your rifle Half as complete or as marvelously fair. PHILOSOPHER Dropped from Olympus or lifted out of Tempe, Swung […]

(REPORTED BY TRUTHFUL JAMES) Waltz in, waltz in, ye little kids, and gather round my knee, And drop them books and first pot-hooks, and hear a yarn from me. I kin not sling a fairy tale of Jinnys* fierce and wild, For I hold it is unchristian to deceive a simple child; But as from […]

REPORTED BY TRUTHFUL JAMES We hev tumbled ez dust Or ez worms of the yearth; Wot we looked for hez bust! We are objects of mirth! They have played us–old Pards of the river!–they hev played us for all we was worth! Was it euchre or draw Cut us off in our bloom? Was it […]

(SIERRAS, 1876) DRAMATIS PERSONAE First Tourist Second Tourist Yuba Bill, Driver A Stranger FIRST TOURIST Look how the upland plunges into cover, Green where the pines fade sullenly away. Wonderful those olive depths! and wonderful, moreover– SECOND TOURIST The red dust that rises in a suffocating way. FIRST TOURIST Small is the soul that cannot […]

(YREKA, 1873) Which it is not my style To produce needless pain By statements that rile Or that go ‘gin the grain, But here’s Captain Jack still a-livin’, and Nye has no skelp on his brain! On that Caucasian head There is no crown of hair; It has gone, it has fled! And Echo sez […]

The Hawk’s Nest

Story type: Poetry

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(SIERRAS) We checked our pace, the red road sharply rounding; We heard the troubled flow Of the dark olive depths of pines resounding A thousand feet below. Above the tumult of the canyon lifted, The gray hawk breathless hung, Or on the hill a winged shadow drifted Where furze and thorn-bush clung; Or where half-way […]

It is the story of Thompson–of Thompson, the hero of Angels. Frequently drunk was Thompson, but always polite to the stranger; Light and free was the touch of Thompson upon his revolver; Great the mortality incident on that lightness and freedom. Yet not happy or gay was Thompson, the hero of Angels; Often spoke to […]

(REPORTED BY TRUTHFUL JAMES) Being asked by an intimate party,– Which the same I would term as a friend,– Though his health it were vain to call hearty, Since the mind to deceit it might lend; For his arm it was broken quite recent, And there’s something gone wrong with his lung,– Which is why […]

Her Letter

Story type: Poetry

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I’m sitting alone by the fire, Dressed just as I came from the dance, In a robe even YOU would admire,– It cost a cool thousand in France; I’m be-diamonded out of all reason, My hair is done up in a cue: In short, sir, “the belle of the season” Is wasting an hour upon […]

(NYE’S FORD, STANISLAUS, 1870) Do I sleep? do I dream? Do I wonder and doubt? Are things what they seem? Or is visions about? Is our civilization a failure? Or is the Caucasian played out? Which expressions are strong; Yet would feebly imply Some account of a wrong– Not to call it a lie– As […]

(MUD FLAT, 1860) So you’re back from your travels, old fellow, And you left but a twelvemonth ago; You’ve hobnobbed with Louis Napoleon, Eugenie, and kissed the Pope’s toe. By Jove, it is perfectly stunning, Astounding,–and all that, you know; Yes, things are about as you left them In Mud Flat a twelvemonth ago. The […]

"Cicely"

Story type: Poetry

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(ALKALI STATION) Cicely says you’re a poet; maybe,–I ain’t much on rhyme: I reckon you’d give me a hundred, and beat me every time. Poetry!–that’s the way some chaps puts up an idee, But I takes mine “straight without sugar,” and that’s what’s the matter with me. Poetry!–just look round you,–alkali, rock, and sage; Sage-brush, […]

In The Tunnel

Story type: Poetry

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Didn’t know Flynn,– Flynn of Virginia,– Long as he’s been ‘yar? Look ‘ee here, stranger, Whar HEV you been? Here in this tunnel He was my pardner, That same Tom Flynn,– Working together, In wind and weather, Day out and in. Didn’t know Flynn! Well, that IS queer; Why, it’s a sin To think of […]

(TABLE MOUNTAIN, 1870) Which I wish to remark, And my language is plain, That for ways that are dark And for tricks that are vain, The heathen Chinee is peculiar, Which the same I would rise to explain. Ah Sin was his name; And I shall not deny, In regard to the same, What that […]

Penelope

Story type: Poetry

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(SIMPSON’S BAR, 1858) So you’ve kem ‘yer agen, And one answer won’t do? Well, of all the derned men That I’ve struck, it is you. O Sal! ‘yer’s that derned fool from Simpson’s, cavortin’ round ‘yer in the dew. Kem in, ef you WILL. Thar,–quit! Take a cheer. Not that; you can’t fill Them theer […]

Luke

Story type: Poetry

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(IN THE COLORADO PARK, 1873) Wot’s that you’re readin’?–a novel? A novel!–well, darn my skin! You a man grown and bearded and histin’ such stuff ez that in– Stuff about gals and their sweethearts! No wonder you’re thin ez a knife. Look at me–clar two hundred–and never read one in my life! That’s my opinion […]

I reside at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James; I am not up to small deceit or any sinful games; And I’ll tell in simple language what I know about the row That broke up our Society upon the Stanislow. But first I would remark, that it is not a proper plan For […]

It was noon by the sun; we had finished our game, And was passin’ remarks goin’ back to our claim; Jones was countin’ his chips, Smith relievin’ his mind Of ideas that a “straight” should beat “three of a kind,” When Johnson of Elko came gallopin’ down, With a look on his face ‘twixt a […]

(BIG PINE FLAT, 1871) “Something characteristic,” eh? Humph! I reckon you mean by that Something that happened in our way, Here at the crossin’ of Big Pine Flat. Times aren’t now as they used to be, When gold was flush and the boys were frisky, And a man would pull out his battery For anything–maybe […]

(REFECTORY, MISSION SAN GABRIEL, 1869) Good!–said the Padre,–believe me still, “Don Giovanni,” or what you will, The type’s eternal! We knew him here As Don Diego del Sud. I fear The story’s no new one! Will you hear? One of those spirits you can’t tell why God has permitted. Therein I Have the advantage, for […]

It was the morning season of the year; It was the morning era of the land; The watercourses rang full loud and clear; Portala’s cross stood where Portala’s hand Had planted it when Faith was taught by Fear, When monks and missions held the sole command Of all that shore beside the peaceful sea, Where […]

At The Hacienda

Story type: Poetry

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Know I not whom thou mayst be Carved upon this olive-tree,– “Manuela of La Torre,”– For around on broken walls Summer sun and spring rain falls, And in vain the low wind calls “Manuela of La Torre.” Of that song no words remain But the musical refrain,– “Manuela of La Torre.” Yet at night, when […]

The Lost Galleon

Story type: Poetry

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In sixteen hundred and forty-one, The regular yearly galleon, Laden with odorous gums and spice, India cottons and India rice, And the richest silks of far Cathay, Was due at Acapulco Bay. Due she was, and overdue,– Galleon, merchandise and crew, Creeping along through rain and shine, Through the tropics, under the line. The trains […]

(1865) FATHER FELIPE I speak not the English well, but Pachita, She speak for me; is it not so, my Pancha? Eh, little rogue? Come, salute me the stranger Americano. Sir, in my country we say, “Where the heart is, There live the speech.” Ah! you not understand? So! Pardon an old man,–what you call […]

Chiquita

Story type: Poetry

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Beautiful! Sir, you may say so. Thar isn’t her match in the county; Is thar, old gal,–Chiquita, my darling, my beauty? Feel of that neck, sir,–thar’s velvet! Whoa! steady,–ah, will you, you vixen! Whoa! I say. Jack, trot her out; let the gentleman look at her paces. Morgan!–she ain’t nothing else, and I’ve got the […]

"Jim"

Story type: Poetry

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Say there! P’r’aps Some on you chaps Might know Jim Wild? Well,–no offense: Thar ain’t no sense In gittin’ riled! Jim was my chum Up on the Bar: That’s why I come Down from up yar, Lookin’ for Jim. Thank ye, sir! YOU Ain’t of that crew,– Blest if you are! Money? Not much: That […]

Dow’s Flat

Story type: Poetry

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(1856) Dow’s Flat. That’s its name; And I reckon that you Are a stranger? The same? Well, I thought it was true,– For thar isn’t a man on the river as can’t spot the place at first view. It was called after Dow,– Which the same was an ass,– And as to the how Thet […]

Cadet Grey

Story type: Poetry

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CANTO I I Act first, scene first. A study. Of a kind Half cell, half salon, opulent yet grave; Rare books, low-shelved, yet far above the mind Of common man to compass or to crave; Some slight relief of pamphlets that inclined The soul at first to trifling, till, dismayed By text and title, it […]

Of all the fountains that poets sing,– Crystal, thermal, or mineral spring, Ponce de Leon’s Fount of Youth, Wells with bottoms of doubtful truth,– In short, of all the springs of Time That ever were flowing in fact or rhyme, That ever were tasted, felt, or seen, There were none like the Spring of San […]

This is the tale that the Chronicle Tells of the wonderful miracle Wrought by the pious Padre Serro, The very reverend Junipero. The heathen stood on his ancient mound, Looking over the desert bound Into the distant, hazy South, Over the dusty and broad champaign, Where, with many a gaping mouth And fissure, cracked by […]

(PRESIDIO DE SAN FRANCISCO, 1800) I Looking seaward, o’er the sand-hills stands the fortress, old and quaint, By the San Francisco friars lifted to their patron saint,– Sponsor to that wondrous city, now apostate to the creed, On whose youthful walls the Padre saw the angel’s golden reed; All its trophies long since scattered, all […]

The Angelus

Story type: Poetry

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(HEARD AT THE MISSION DOLORES, 1868) Bells of the Past, whose long-forgotten music Still fills the wide expanse, Tingeing the sober twilight of the Present With color of romance! I hear your call, and see the sun descending On rock and wave and sand, As down the coast the Mission voices, blending, Girdle the heathen […]

Ramon

Story type: Poetry

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(REFUGIO MINE, NORTHERN MEXICO) Drunk and senseless in his place, Prone and sprawling on his face, More like brute than any man Alive or dead, By his great pump out of gear, Lay the peon engineer, Waking only just to hear, Overhead, Angry tones that called his name, Oaths and cries of bitter blame,– Woke […]

"For The King"

Story type: Poetry

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(NORTHERN MEXICO, 1640) As you look from the plaza at Leon west You can see her house, but the view is best From the porch of the church where she lies at rest; Where much of her past still lives, I think, In the scowling brows and sidelong blink Of the worshiping throng that rise […]

(WAR OF THE REBELLION, 1884) No, I won’t,–thar, now, so! And it ain’t nothin’,–no! And thar’s nary to tell that you folks yer don’t know; And it’s “Belle, tell us, do!” and it’s “Belle, is it true?” And “Wot’s this yer yarn of the Major and you?” Till I’m sick of it all,–so I am, […]

The Aged Stranger

Story type: Poetry

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AN INCIDENT OF THE WAR “I was with Grant”–the stranger said; Said the farmer, “Say no more, But rest thee here at my cottage porch, For thy feet are weary and sore.” “I was with Grant”–the stranger said; Said the farmer, “Nay, no more,– I prithee sit at my frugal board, And eat of my […]

(NEW JERSEY, 1780) Here’s the spot. Look around you. Above on the height Lay the Hessians encamped. By that church on the right Stood the gaunt Jersey farmers. And here ran a wall,– You may dig anywhere and you’ll turn up a ball. Nothing more. Grasses spring, waters run, flowers blow, Pretty much as they […]

Miss Blanche Says

Story type: Poetry

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And you are the poet, and so you want Something–what is it?–a theme, a fancy? Something or other the Muse won’t grant To your old poetical necromancy; Why, one half you poets–you can’t deny– Don’t know the Muse when you chance to meet her, But sit in your attics and mope and sigh For a […]

DELIVERED ON THE FOURTEENTH ANNIVERSARY OF CALIFORNIA’S ADMISSION INTO THE UNION, SEPTEMBER 9, 1864 We meet in peace, though from our native East The sun that sparkles on our birthday feast Glanced as he rose on fields whose dews were red With darker tints than those Aurora spread. Though shorn his rays, his welcome disk […]

St. Thomas

Story type: Poetry

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(A GEOGRAPHICAL SURVEY, 1868) Very fair and full of promise Lay the island of St. Thomas: Ocean o’er its reefs and bars Hid its elemental scars; Groves of cocoanut and guava Grew above its fields of lava. So the gem of the Antilles– “Isles of Eden,” where no ill is– Like a great green turtle […]

An Arctic Vision

Story type: Poetry

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Where the short-legged Esquimaux Waddle in the ice and snow, And the playful Polar bear Nips the hunter unaware; Where by day they track the ermine, And by night another vermin,– Segment of the frigid zone, Where the temperature alone Warms on St. Elias’ cone; Polar dock, where Nature slips From the ways her icy […]

Off Scarborough

Story type: Poetry

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(SEPTEMBER, 1779) I “Have a care!” the bailiffs cried From their cockleshell that lay Off the frigate’s yellow side, Tossing on Scarborough Bay, While the forty sail it convoyed on a bowline stretched away. “Take your chicks beneath your wings, And your claws and feathers spread, Ere the hawk upon them springs,– Ere around Flamborough […]

Relieving Guard

Story type: Poetry

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THOMAS STARR KING. OBIIT MARCH 4, 1864 Came the relief. “What, sentry, ho! How passed the night through thy long waking?” “Cold, cheerless, dark,–as may befit The hour before the dawn is breaking.” “No sight? no sound?” “No; nothing save The plover from the marshes calling, And in yon western sky, about An hour ago, […]

This is the reed the dead musician dropped, With tuneful magic in its sheath still hidden; The prompt allegro of its music stopped, Its melodies unbidden. But who shall finish the unfinished strain, Or wake the instrument to awe and wonder, And bid the slender barrel breathe again, An organ-pipe of thunder! His pen! what […]

The Goddess

Story type: Poetry

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CONTRIBUTED TO THE FAIR FOR THE LADIES’ PATRIOTIC FUND OF THE PACIFIC “Who comes?” The sentry’s warning cry Rings sharply on the evening air: Who comes? The challenge: no reply, Yet something motions there. A woman, by those graceful folds; A soldier, by that martial tread: “Advance three paces. Halt! until Thy name and rank […]

The Copperhead

Story type: Poetry

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(1864) There is peace in the swamp where the Copperhead sleeps, Where the waters are stagnant, the white vapor creeps, Where the musk of Magnolia hangs thick in the air, And the lilies’ phylacteries broaden in prayer. There is peace in the swamp, though the quiet is death, Though the mist is miasma, the upas-tree’s […]

I read last night of the grand review In Washington’s chiefest avenue,– Two hundred thousand men in blue, I think they said was the number,– Till I seemed to hear their trampling feet, The bugle blast and the drum’s quick beat, The clatter of hoofs in the stony street, The cheers of people who came […]

Last night, above the whistling wind, I heard the welcome rain,– A fusillade upon the roof, A tattoo on the pane: The keyhole piped; the chimney-top A warlike trumpet blew; Yet, mingling with these sounds of strife, A softer voice stole through. “Give thanks, O brothers!” said the voice, “That He who sent the rains […]

(1869) We know him well: no need of praise Or bonfire from the windy hill To light to softer paths and ways The world-worn man we honor still. No need to quote the truths he spoke That burned through years of war and shame, While History carves with surer stroke Across our map his noonday […]

(RE-UNION, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, 12TH MAY, 1871) Well, you see, the fact is, Colonel, I don’t know as I can come: For the farm is not half planted, and there’s work to do at home; And my leg is getting troublesome,–it laid me up last fall,– And the doctors, they have cut and hacked, […]

Have you heard the story that gossips tell Of Burns of Gettysburg?–No? Ah, well: Brief is the glory that hero earns, Briefer the story of poor John Burns. He was the fellow who won renown,– The only man who didn’t back down When the rebels rode through his native town; But held his own in […]

Battle Bunny

Story type: Poetry

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(MALVERN HILL, 1864) “After the men were ordered to lie down, a white rabbit, which had been hopping hither and thither over the field swept by grape and musketry, took refuge among the skirmishers, in the breast of a corporal.”–Report of the Battle of Malvern Hill. Bunny, lying in the grass, Saw the shining column […]

Down the picket-guarded lane Rolled the comfort-laden wain, Cheered by shouts that shook the plain, Soldier-like and merry: Phrases such as camps may teach, Sabre-cuts of Saxon speech, Such as “Bully!” “Them’s the peach!” “Wade in, Sanitary!” Right and left the caissons drew As the car went lumbering through, Quick succeeding in review Squadrons military; […]

Our Privilege

Story type: Poetry

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Not ours, where battle smoke upcurls, And battle dews lie wet, To meet the charge that treason hurls By sword and bayonet. Not ours to guide the fatal scythe The fleshless Reaper wields; The harvest moon looks calmly down Upon our peaceful fields. The long grass dimples on the hill, The pines sing by the […]

The Reveille

Story type: Poetry

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Hark! I hear the tramp of thousands, And of armed men the hum; Lo! a nation’s hosts have gathered Round the quick alarming drum,– Saying, “Come, Freemen, come! Ere your heritage be wasted,” said the quick alarming drum. “Let me of my heart take counsel: War is not of life the sum; Who shall stay […]

Waiting For The Ship

Story type: Literature

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A FORT POINT IDYL. About an hour’s ride from the Plaza there is a high bluff with the ocean breaking uninterruptedly along its rocky beach. There are several cottages on the sands, which look as if they had recently been cast up by a heavy sea. The cultivated patch behind each tenement is fenced in […]

A Belle of Canada City

Story type: Literature

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Cissy was tying her hat under her round chin before a small glass at her window. The window gave upon a background of serrated mountain and olive-shadowed canyon, with a faint additional outline of a higher snow level–the only dreamy suggestion of the whole landscape. The foreground was a glaringly fresh and unpicturesque mining town, […]

PART I Mr. Jack Fleming stopped suddenly before a lifeless and decaying redwood-tree with an expression of disgust and impatience. It was the very tree he had passed only an hour before, and he now knew he had been describing that mysterious and hopeless circle familiar enough to those lost in the woods. There was […]

I There was a slight jarring though the whole frame of the coach, a grinding and hissing from the brakes, and then a sudden jolt as the vehicle ran upon and recoiled from the taut pole-straps of the now arrested horses. The murmur of a voice in the road was heard, followed by the impatient […]

I When Joshua Bilson, of the Summit House, Buckeye Hill, lost his wife, it became necessary for him to take a housekeeper to assist him in the management of the hotel. Already all Buckeye had considered this a mere preliminary to taking another wife, after a decent probation, as the relations of housekeeper and landlord […]

It was four o’clock in the afternoon, and the hottest hour of the day on that Sierran foothill. The western sun, streaming down the mile-long slope of close-set pine crests, had been caught on an outlying ledge of glaring white quartz, covered with mining tools and debris, and seemed to have been thrown into an […]

PART I “Well!” said the editor of the “Mountain Clarion,” looking up impatiently from his copy. “What’s the matter now?” The intruder in his sanctum was his foreman. He was also acting as pressman, as might be seen from his shirt-sleeves spattered with ink, rolled up over the arm that had just been working “the […]

An Apostle Of The Tules

Story type: Literature

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I On October 10, 1856, about four hundred people were camped in Tasajara Valley, California. It could not have been for the prospect, since a more barren, dreary, monotonous, and uninviting landscape never stretched before human eye; it could not have been for convenience or contiguity, as the nearest settlement was thirty miles away; it […]

They had all known him as a shiftless, worthless creature. From the time he first entered Redwood Camp, carrying his entire effects in a red handkerchief on the end of a long-handled shovel, until he lazily drifted out of it on a plank in the terrible inundation of ’56, they never expected anything better of […]

A Sarah Walker

Story type: Literature

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It was very hot. Not a breath of air was stirring throughout the western wing of the Greyport Hotel, and the usual feverish life of its four hundred inmates had succumbed to the weather. The great veranda was deserted; the corridors were desolated; no footfall echoed in the passages; the lazy rustle of a wandering […]

The Sheriff Of Siskyou

Story type: Literature

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I. On the fifteenth of August, 1854, what seemed to be the entire population of Wynyard’s Bar was collected upon a little bluff which overlooked the rude wagon road that was the only approach to the settlement. In general appearance the men differed but little from ordinary miners, although the foreign element, shown in certain […]

Young Robin Gray

Story type: Literature

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The good American barque Skyscraper was swinging at her moorings in the Clyde, off Bannock, ready for sea. But that good American barque–although owned in Baltimore–had not a plank of American timber in her hulk, nor a native American in her crew, and even her nautical “goodness” had been called into serious question by divers […]

Johnnyboy

Story type: Literature

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The vast dining-room of the Crustacean Hotel at Greyport, U. S., was empty and desolate. It was so early in the morning that there was a bedroom deshabille in the tucked-up skirts and bare legs of the little oval breakfast-tables as they had just been left by the dusting servants. The most stirring of travelers […]

CHAPTER I. Where the North Fork of the Stanislaus River begins to lose its youthful grace, vigor, and agility, and broadens more maturely into the plain, there is a little promontory which at certain high stages of water lies like a small island in the stream. To the strongly-marked heroics of Sierran landscape it contrasts […]

Chu Chu

Story type: Literature

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I do not believe that the most enthusiastic lover of that “useful and noble animal,” the horse, will claim for him the charm of geniality, humor, or expansive confidence. Any creature who will not look you squarely in the eye–whose only oblique glances are inspired by fear, distrust, or a view to attack; who has […]

Dick Bracy gazed again at the Hacienda de los Osos, and hesitated. There it lay–its low whitewashed walls looking like a quartz outcrop of the long lazy hillside–unmistakably hot, treeless, and staring broadly in the uninterrupted Californian sunlight. Yet he knew that behind those blistering walls was a reposeful patio, surrounded by low-pitched verandas; that […]

A Rose Of Glenbogie

Story type: Literature

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The American consul at St. Kentigern stepped gloomily from the train at Whistlecrankie station. For the last twenty minutes his spirits had been slowly sinking before the drifting procession past the carriage windows of dull gray and brown hills–mammiform in shape, but so cold and sterile in expression that the swathes of yellow mist which […]

My First Book

Story type: Literature

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When I say that my “First Book” was NOT my own, and contained beyond the title-page not one word of my own composition, I trust that I will not be accused of trifling with paradox, or tardily unbosoming myself of youthful plagiary. But the fact remains that in priority of publication the first book for […]

At exactly half past nine o’clock on the morning of Saturday, August 26, 1865, Master Charles Summerton, aged five years, disappeared mysteriously from his paternal residence on Folsom Street, San Francisco. At twenty-five minutes past nine he had been observed, by the butcher, amusing himself by going through that popular youthful exercise known as “turning […]

Melons

Story type: Literature

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As I do not suppose the most gentle of readers will believe that anybody’s sponsors in baptism ever wilfully assumed the responsibility of such a name, I may as well state that I have reason to infer that Melons was simply the nickname of a small boy I once knew. If he had any other, […]

From A Balcony

Story type: Literature

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The little stone balcony, which, by a popular fallacy, is supposed to be a necessary appurtenance of my window, has long been to me a source of curious interest. The fact that the asperities of our summer weather will not permit me to use it but once or twice in six months does not alter […]

A Venerable Impostor

Story type: Literature

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As I glance across my table, I am somewhat distracted by the spectacle of a venerable head whose crown occasionally appears beyond, at about its level. The apparition of a very small hand–whose fingers are bunchy and have the appearance of being slightly webbed–which is frequently lifted above the table in a vain and impotent […]

As the new Benevolent Association has had the effect of withdrawing beggars from the streets, and as Professional Mendicancy bids fair to be presently ranked with the Lost Arts, to preserve some records of this noble branch of industry, I have endeavored to recall certain traits and peculiarities of individual members of the order whom […]

A Boys’ Dog

Story type: Literature

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As I lift my eyes from the paper, I observe a dog lying on the steps of the opposite house. His attitude might induce passers-by and casual observers to believe him to belong to the people who live there, and to accord to him a certain standing position. I have seen visitors pat him, under […]

Sidewalkings

Story type: Literature

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The time occupied in walking to and from my business I have always found to yield me a certain mental enjoyment which no other part of the twenty-four hours could give. Perhaps the physical exercise may have acted as a gentle stimulant of the brain, but more probably the comfortable consciousness that I could not […]

(Intra Muros.) I. Fowl, that sing’st in yonder pool, Where the summer winds blow cool,Are there hydropathic cures For the ills that man endures? Know’st thouPriessnitz? What? alack Hast no other word but “Quack?” II. Cleopatra’s barge might pale To the splendors of thy tail, Or thestately caravel Of some “high-pooped admiral.” Never yet left […]

My Suburban Residence

Story type: Literature

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I live in the suburbs. My residence, to quote the pleasing fiction of the advertisement, “is within fifteen minutes’ walk of the City Hall.” Why the City Hall should be considered as an eligible terminus of anybody’s walk, under any circumstances, I have not been able to determine. Never having walked from my residence to […]

I. A bay-window once settled the choice of my house and compensated for many of its inconveniences. When the chimney smoked, or the doors alternately shrunk and swelled, resisting any forcible attempt to open them, or opening of themselves with ghostly deliberation, or when suspicious blotches appeared on the ceiling in rainy weather, there was […]

I have sometimes thought, while watching the departure of an Eastern steamer, that the act of parting from friends–so generally one of bitterness and despondency–is made by an ingenious Californian custom to yield a pleasurable excitement. This luxury of leave-taking, in which most Californians indulge, is often protracted to the hauling in of the gang-plank. […]

On A Vulgar Little Boy

Story type: Literature

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The subject of this article is at present leaning against a tree directly opposite to my window. He wears his cap with the wrong side before, apparently for no other object than that which seems the most obvious,–of showing more than the average quantity of very dirty face. His clothes, which are worn with a […]