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Tennessee’s Partner
by [?]

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 habit, as shown in “Saleratus Bill,” so called from an undue proportion of that chemical in his daily bread; or from some unlucky slip, as exhibited in “The Iron Pirate,” a mild, inoffensive man, who earned that baleful title by his unfortunate mispronunciation of the term “iron pyrites. ” Perhaps this may have been the beginning of a rude heraldry; but I am constrained to think that it was because a man’s real name in that day rested solely upon his own unsupported statement.

“Call yourself Clifford, do you?” said Boston, addressing a timid new-comer with infinite scorn; “hell is full of such Cliffords!” He then introduced the unfortunate man, whose name happened to be really Clifford, as “Jay-bird Charley”—an unhallowed inspiration of the moment that clung to him ever after.

But to return to Tennessee’s Partner, whom we never knew by any other than this relative title; that he had ever existed as a separate and distinct individuality we only learned later. It seems that in 1853 he left Poker Flat to go to San Francisco, ostensibly to procure a wife. He never got any farther than Stockton. At that place he was attracted by a young person who waited upon the table at the hotel where he took his meals. One morning he said something to her which caused her to smile not unkindly, somewhat coquettishly to break a plate of toast over his upturned, serious, simple face, and to retreat to the kitchen. He followed her and emerged a few moments later, covered with more toast and victory. That day week they were married by a Justice of the Peace and returned to Poker Flat. I am aware that something more might be made of this episode, but I prefer to tell it as it was current at Sandy Bar—in the gulches and bar-rooms—where all sentiment was modified by a strong sense of humour.

Of their married felicity but little is known, perhaps for the reason that Tennessee, then living with his partner, one day took occasion to say something to the bride on his own account, at which, it is said, she smiled not unkindly and chastely retreated—this time as far as Marysville, where Tennessee followed her, and where they went to housekeeping without the aid of a Justice of the Peace. Tennessee’s Partner took the loss of his wife simply and seriously, as was his fashion. But to everybody’s surprise, when Tennessee one day returned from Marysville, without his partner’s wife—she having smiled and retreated with somebody else—Tennessee’s Partner was the first man to shake his hand and greet him with affection. The boys who had gathered in the cañon to see the shooting were naturally indignant. Their indignation might have found vent in sarcasm, but for a certain look in Tennessee’s Partner’s eye that indicated a lack of humerous appreciation. In fact, he was a grave man, with a steady application to practical detail which was unpleasant in a difficulty.

Meanwhile a popular feeling against Tennessee had grown up on the Bar. He was known to be a gambler; he was suspected to be a thief. In these suspicions Tennessee’s Partner was equally compromised; his continued intimacy with Tennessee after the affair above quoted could only be accounted for on the hypothesis of a co-partnership of crime. At last Tennessee’s guilt became flagrant. One day he overtook a stranger on his way to Red Dog. The stranger afterwards related that Tennessee beguiled the time with interesting anecdote and reminiscence, but illogically concluded the interview in the following words:

“And now, young man, I’ll trouble you for your knife, your pistols, and your money. You see, your wrappings might get you into trouble at Red Dog, and your money’s a temptation to the evilly disposed. I think you said your address was San Francisco. I shall endeavour to call. ” It may be stated here that Tennessee had a fine flow of humour, which no business preoccupation could wholly subdue.