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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 tradition concerning her family characteristics. She had not escaped that calumny which she shared with the rest of her sex for those youthful follies, levities, and indiscretions which belong to immaturity. It is very probable that the firmness that distinguished her maturer will in youth might have been taken for obstinacy, that her nice discrimination might at the same period have been taken for adolescent caprice, and that the positive expression of her quick intellect might have been thought youthful impertinence before her years had won respect for her judgment

She was foaled at Indian Creek, and one month later, when she was brought over to Sawyer’s Bar, was considered the smallest donkey ever seen in the foot-hills. The legend that she was brought over in one of “Dan the Quartz Crusher’s” boots required corroboration from that gentleman; but his denial being evidently based upon a masculine vanity regarding the size of his foot rather than a desire to be historically accurate, it went for nothing. It is certain that for the next two months she occupied the cabin of Dan, until, perhaps incensed at this and other scandals, she one night made her way out. “I hadn’t the least idee wot woz comin’,” said Dan, “but about midnight I seemed to hear hail onto the roof, and a shower of rocks and stones like to a blast started in the canyon. When I got up and struck a light, thar was suthin’ like onto a cord o’ kindlin’ wood and splinters whar she’d stood asleep, and a hole in the side o’ the shanty, and–no Jinny! Lookin’ at them hoofs o’ hern–and mighty porty they is to look at, too–you would allow she could do it!” I fear that this performance laid the foundation of her later infelicitous reputation, and perhaps awakened in her youthful breast a misplaced ambition, and an emulation which might at that time have been diverted into a nobler channel. For the fame of this juvenile performance–and its possible promise in the future–brought at once upon her the dangerous flattery and attention of the whole camp. Under intelligently directed provocation she would repeat her misguided exercise, until most of the scanty furniture of the cabin was reduced to a hopeless wreck, and sprains and callosities were developed upon the limbs of her admirers. Yet even at this early stage of her history, that penetrating intellect which was in after years her dominant quality was evident to all. She could not be made to kick at quartz tailings, at a barrel of Boston crackers, or at the head or shin of “Nigger Pete.” An artistic discrimination economized her surplus energy. “Ef you’ll notiss,” said Dan, with a large parental softness, “she never lets herself out to onst like them mules or any jackass ez I’ve heerd of, but kinder holds herself in, and, so to speak, takes her bearings–sorter feels round gently with that off foot, takes her distance and her rest, and then with that ar’ foot hoverin’ round in the air softly, like an angel’s wing, and a gentle, dreamy kind o’ look in them eyes, she lites out! Don’t ye, Jinny? Thar! jist ez I told ye,” continued Dan, with an artist’s noble forgetfulness of self, as he slowly crawled from the splintered ruin of the barrel on which he had been sitting. “Thur! did ye ever see the like! Did ye dream that all the while I was talkin’ she was a meditatin’ that?”

The same artistic perception and noble reticence distinguished her bray. It was one of which a less sagacious animal would have been foolishly vain or ostentatiously prodigal. It was a contralto of great compass and profundity–reaching from low G to high C–perhaps a trifle stronger in the lower register, and not altogether free from a nasal falsetto in the upper. Daring and brilliant as it was in the middle notes, it was perhaps more musically remarkable for its great sustaining power. The element of surprise always entered into the hearer’s enjoyment; long after any ordinary strain of human origin would have ceased, faint echoes of Jinny’s last note were perpetually recurring. But it was as an intellectual and moral expression that her bray was perfect. As far beyond her size as were her aspirations, it was a free and running commentary of scorn at all created things extant, with ironical and sardonic additions that were terrible. It reviled all human endeavor, it quenched all sentiment, it suspended frivolity, it scattered reverie, it paralyzed action. It was omnipotent. More wonderful and characteristic than all, the very existence of this tremendous organ was unknown to the camp for six months after the arrival of its modest owner, and only revealed to them under circumstances that seemed to point more conclusively than ever to her rare discretion.