Charles Frederick Holder.

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Santa Barbara beach. The priests
acquired her bird-skin dress and all
her curious chattels. " The dress
the priests have," says Nidever. "I
think they sent it to Rome. My wife
let them have her needles and all her
things. " On the same subject Brown
remarks: "Nidever gave it [the
dress] to the priests, and they sent it
to Rome. She had needle-bone with
eyes drilled in, a knife made of bone,
and another of a piece of wood. She
had the wooden knife when I found
her, cleaning the seal-skin. She had



nails pointed for catching- fish with,
and the rope was as nicely twisted
with sinews as any rope-maker could
do it. And she had bottles made of
grass about the size of a gallon demi-
john, and we found some dishes of
wood with handles. I gave all these
things to Nidever."

Juana Maria's life on San Nicolas
Island was the exceptional experi-
ence of a human being who was not,
as was the case with Alexander Sel-
kirk, left alone thousands of miles
away from a coast inhabited by a
civilized community. She was no
great distance from the mainland,
where the matin and vesper bell rang
morning and night at Christian mis-

sions. Otter-hunters undoubtedly
visited the island during her whole
residence on it, and the her

existence there was evidently known.
But not until her verv nature w .
changed that she had become
tented with her lot and had ceased
her cry of " Manequauna" to the pass-
ing ships, were any ineasui,
to remove her from her rocky
Then they carried her off, unfortu-
nate Juana Maria Better-than-Noth-
ing! White men made her sin
She lost her babe or bal>
her family; she lost the know],
of her language ; and at last, poisoned
by the luxuries of a more civil:
race, she lost her life.



(Author of "The Johnstown Stage," "The Drummer of Co. C," etc.)

'gjE was a private in
^j Troop "J," nth
^j regiment, U. S.
Jj Cavalry, and so
B was I. We served
gl together up at
H Fort Ripley, in
Idaho Territory,
a good many
years ago. John
Smith was the
name I was known by on the company
rolls, and his name was Daniel Bor-
ley. My number was 36, and his was
37, and our bunks stood together in
the squad-room. This was twenty-
five years ago, before the time when
the quartermaster issued woven wire
mattresses, sheets and pillow-cases.
In our days bunks were made of inch
planks, and in the way of bedding
bed-sacks filled with clean straw at
the corral every Saturday, together
with a pair of blankets, was thought
to be luxury enough. Indeed the
contrast between us and the soldiers

"camp and garrison equipage."
We were a different set of men al-
together. Any old resident of San
Francisco will recall the time when
our regiment came west by \\ ..-.
the Isthmus (of which we took pos-
session completely from Aspinwall to
Panama, driving the Dagos in terror
from the road) and how, when we
came to San Francisco, the dti*
besought the general commanding
the division to get us out of the
town before we had looted it cntm 1 v
It was soon after the war, and while
the respectable portion of the dis-
banded armies had gone back to its
home life and regular occupati<
the riff-raff was floating about and
naturally drifted into the cateh-1
of the recruiting oflfn

We were a hard lot, and when I
use the word " we" let it be under-
stood that it is with no sense of pride
in the blackguardly achievement
the regiment. Through stress of cir-
cumstances I was simply wearing its
uniform, that was all, and Dan Bor-



ley was my "bunky." Dan was a
Western man, powerfully built, of
medium height, thin in the flank and
deep in the chest, with square shoul-
ders and square, clean-shaven jaws, a
hard rider in the field and a model
soldier on parade. His uniform fitted
him as though Lester had made it, a
rare thing in those days when the
quartermaster issued ready-made
clothing in sizes from i to 4, and the
men preferred to invest their money
in beer rather than waste it on the
company tailor. When Dan went on
guard his metal-work was fairly daz-
zling, and the adjutant always picked
him out for the commanding officer's

We all had our faults, or our mis-
fortunes, whichever way you choose
to regard them. They were the cause
of more than one of us losing his
identity in a cavalry regiment on the
frontier. Dan's trouble was com-
monplace enough — he was in the
habit of getting drunk. When I
think of the loneliness of that deso-
late land, with its prairies floored
with parched buffalo-grass, glaring
and empty under the summer sun, or
stretching gaunt and gray under the
cold, dreary sky of winter, it is no
surprise to me that the men who
lived in it got drunk. It was a
brutalizing sort of life, and this
seemed the only means of getting
away from ourselves. The trouble
with Dan was that he would not get
drunk in a quiet way and go off in
the brush to sleep himself sober as
others did. When he started in to
drink he wanted everybody to know
it, and nothing less would content
him than to take the post as he had
helped to take the Isthmus. So then
there would be wild work between
him and the guard until they had
landed him in the dark cell, with the
door shut on his ravings, if, in the
mean time, the officer of the day had
not come along and ordered him
gagged and tied up by the thumbs.

The men of Troop " J " of the nth
were not thinkers or reasoners, and

as a rule they were none too good for
their condition; indeed, some of
them would have been suitably off
in a penitentiary. And Dan — well,
when Dan had liquor in him he could
hold his own with the worst. Sober,
he was a decent enough sort of fel-
low, with an ox-like intellect, a stanch
friend and a strong enemy, seeing
little humor in life, governed by his
feelings, which he never attempted
to analyze, and priding himself solely
on keeping his horse in good condi-
tion and his kit clean.

The captain of our troop, gener-
ally known as "the old man," had
been appointed from the volunteers.
I doubt if he would have been able to
pass the examinations that have been
recently instituted, but he was a good
commander, and managed his troops
with an iron hand. He was a bach-
elor, as were the other officers at the
post; the surgeon, who was a civilian,
a "contract doctor," being the only
married man. I have said that there
were no refining influences at Fort
Ripley, and though women are gen-
erally supposed to exert a refining
influence the statement holds, for the
doctor's wife was a shrill-voiced, slat-
ternly woman of middle age, whose
energies were all bent on ruling her
husband, bringing up her family of
five ill-favored children, and squeez-
ing all that she could out of the Gov-
ernment. Besides this inattractive
person there were two other women,
wives of soldiers, and laundresses for
the troops, who lived in small log
houses back of the barracks. The
doctor's wife, across the parade
ground, was universally disliked, and
"Wash-Tub Avenue," as the line of
married men's quarters was called,
was the breeding-place of most of the
rows and scandals that disturbed the
peace ; so that the presence of these
women was distinctly not refining.
But there came a time when this con-
dition was changed. That was when
our new lieutenant's wife joined. It
may be that I am wrong in attribut-
ing to this gentlewoman's presence



the incidents which go to make up
my bunky's story. But that you
shall judge for yourself.

The former first lieutenant of our
troops had recently been promoted
away from the post, and we were ex-
pecting his successor, an officer who
had been east on leave of absence.
The day before he arrived Dan put
in a pass for twenty-four hours to
go to Blue Gulch. Blue Gulch was
the nearest settlement to the fort,
about ten miles away, just outside of
the Indian reservation. It was the
terminus of the Boise City and Coeur
d'Alene stage line, and besides the
hotel and one store it was made up
of saloons, dance-houses, and like
places. The largest of these was the
"Miner's Rest," which had a gor-
geous bar with plate-glass mirror and
nickel-plated fittings, and which con-
ducted a number of gambling games
on percentage in its one big room
opening on the street. Dan came
back from the social amusements of
Blue Gulch on time, just sober enough
to pass inspection, and with his hand
tied up in a cloth.

"It's a bite," he said, taking off
the wrapping and looking at his
thumb, which, sure enough, was in-
flamed and swollen, with the mark of
teeth in it. " It was Monty Pete that
done it," explained Dan, with a sin-
ister look. "I'll get even with him
for it one o' these days." Then he
went on to tell me, with a good deal
of profanity, how it had happened.
"I was in the 'Rest' last night," he
said, " and Monty Pete had a faro lay-
out, and I begun chucking agin' it.
Full? of course I was full — full as
a tick! But for all that I knowed
what I was a-doin'. I coppered the
queen and he turned up a queen for
the bank, an' he says, as bold as brass,
'Queen loses, ten wins,' and pulled
down my pile. 'The hell queen loses!'
I say. 'You turned up a queen ; what
do you mean by that?' But he paid
no more attention to me than if I'd
been a blind coyote. So then seein'
that both his hands was busv at each

end of the lay-out, I just naturally
reached over and helped myself to
the cash. But quicker'n I could get
out of the way he stooped his ugly
mug and he grabbed my hand with
his teeth and shook it like a terrier
would a rat. The pain of it made
me drop the money; then he lei
my hand and whipped out his pistol
and stood me off. There was a lively
time for a moment. I had no pii
and some o' the crowd grabbed me
and was for taking me out and bang-
ing me, and others were for throw
the d — d drunken soldier into the
street. And in the middle of it all a
stranger shoves his way alongside o*
me, and says, 'Gentleman, let's have
fair play. Because the man's a
dier is no reason why he should be
abused. ' Then Pete opened out on
him, but the stranger didn't bluff
worth a cent, and Dick Stone, who
owns half interest and was tending
bar, he chips in and tells Pete to shut
up, and then he asks for the ri^ht oJ
the trouble, and I give it to him
straight. He was for smoothing
things over by making Pete give DM
back my stake, but I says, 'No. I
either won the money or I didn't,
an' if I couldn't have my winning. 1
didn't want my stake.' And the
stranger spoke up and said that was
fair. And the upshot of it was that
Dick Stone, after talking awhile with
Pete and the others that was playing,
gave me back my stake and my win-
ning. But I'll get even with tin-
cheating son of a hound!" concluded
Dan, examining his maimed hand,
and shaking his head slowly from
side to side.

" Did you find out who the man
was that took your part?" I asked.

" No, " said Dan, " but he was a gen-

"I've no doubt," I replied, know-
ing that every man who carried a
pistol in that country was a gentle-

" He was a gentleman, I tell you,"
said Dan doggedly. "I ain't been
bunking with a gentleman for two



years without bein' able to size one
up when I see him."

"However that may be," I said,
knowing very well that Dan's notion
of a gentleman was not necessar-
ily complimentary, and that he was
merely stating what he considered to
be a fact, as though he had said I
was a gambler or a pugilist. " How-
ever that may be," I said, "the best
thing you can do is to go to the hos-
pital steward and get him to do some-
thing for that wound, or you'll have
trouble with it."

That afternoon at stable call our
new lieutenant made his appearance
with the captain, walking up and
down the lines talking about the
horses. Dan was grooming the horse
next to mine, accompanying his
brush with a peculiar hissing sound,
as is the habit of some hostlers, when,
after the officers had passed us, he
whispered to me, " That's him !"

4 ' Who?" I said, knocking my brush
against the curry-comb to cover the
conversation from the sergeant.

" The stranger that took my part in
the 'Miner's Rest' last night," said

I looked at the new lieutenant
again, with more interest, and al-
though I still had my doubts as to my
bunky's ability to tell a gentleman
when he saw one, he was undoubtedly
right in this instance.

It was a week after his arrival at
the post that the lieutenant drove
into Blue Gulch with the ambulance,
a two-seated spring wagon, to meet
the stage which was to bring his wife.
Darkness had fallen when he re-
turned, so that few knew of her com-
ing, and it was a surprise for most of
us next morning at guard-mount
when we saw the slender figure of a
woman dressed in a light summer
costume standing on the porch of the
lieutenant's quarters. After guard-
mount she crossed the parade-ground
with her husband for a stroll. She
wore a garden hat made up of white
lace with a flower or two, and she
carried a parasol covered with lace

and lined with rose-colored silk that
shed a soft, warm radiance, in which
she walked. So dainty a thing was
a strange sight for us rough riders,
and the men crowded at the little
windows, craning their necks to get
a furtive look at her.

Dan was on guard that day, and as
usual was the commanding officer's
orderly. The officers' houses were
built double, a set of quarters on each
side with a porch extending along
the front common to both. The
lieutenant's quarters adjoined the
captain's, who commanded the post,
so that Dan, whose business it was to
stand in front of the commanding
officer's house in readiness for his
call, saw this lady near at hand sev-
eral times during the course of the
day. And when he came off duty
that evening some of the men chaffed
him about it, and asked him if he had
spent a pleasant day with the lieu-
tenant's wife ; was he going to call on
her in the evening? and uttered other
cheap witticisms of like nature, not
very refined, perhaps, but meaning
no harm. To their surprise, Borley
turned upon them, and with his usual
forcible and profane language pro-
ceeded to give them a lecture on de-
cency and respect, which coming
from him was singular. Dan con-
cluded his remarks by telling them
that if they did not like it they knew
what they could do, and waited with
a lowering face to see whether any of
them would accept his challenge.
But they, knowing very well what
he could do, wisely let it pass un-
heeded, turning the matter off with a

During the three weeks that fol-
lowed, the lieutenant's wife, as was
proper, showed an interest in her
husband's troops and learned the
names of several of the men, and
among others my bunky's name, he
being prominent as orderly, and had
a pleasant smile and a good-morning'
for him when she came out on the
porch at guard-mount. Dan had told
me about this one evening when he



came off, and how he had turned red
and saluted.

" I didn't know what the h — 1 to
do," he said, knocking the ashes out
of his clay pipe on the toe of his

" I don't know what else there was
to do," I replied.

" She's not like anything I ever
seen before, " he said, meditating. " I
didn't know as there was any women
like that."

And then he got up and proposed
that we go over to the sutler's store
and get a drink. I declined ; but he
went. He had kept sober for an un-
usually long time, and I was not sur-
prised when he failed to get back that
night. I tumbled his blankets to
make it seem that he was in them in
case of a check roll-call, but he did
not appear at reveille and was re-
ported absent again at "stables." It
was not until about four o'clock in
the afternoon, when half of the garri-
son was dozing and the silence was so
profound you could hear the crickets
chirping in the hot grass outside, that
Dan made his presence known. He
started his row at the trader's store.
Going out on the barrack porch, I saw
the corporal and a file of the guard
come out of the guard-house and go
over after him. He came back be-
tween them, talking loud though
otherwise peaceable, till they got
him half-way across the parade-
ground; then all of a sudden he
straightened out both of his arms and
sent the corporal staggering one way
and the private another, after which
he began rolling up his sleeves and
crying out that he was nothing but
a poor drunken soldier, but that it
would take more than a corporal and
a file of the guard to take him to the
guard-house, and that he wanted
everybody to know it. Everybody
did know it, for the noise he made
could be heard all over the post and
brought plenty of spectators out to
see the cause of it. The corporal and
his man, as soon as they recovered,
jumped him right away, but encum-

bered with their arms they were no
match for him, and the sergeant, see-
ing this from the porch of tin
house, sent another man to help. Hut
the three of them had more than they
could do to carry Dan. for he just lay
on his back and cried and fought and
swore, till at last the corporal, losing
all patience, ordered his two men to
stand aside, and drawing his sabre,
seemed as though he would give the
business a bloody ending, when
at this moment our lieutenant,
was officer of the day, came striding
across the parade-ground and bade
the corporal wait. Then turninj
the crazy athlete, who had risen t<» his
feet and was swaying from side to
side with the sweat pouring down his
red face and neck, his hair in his
eyes, and his chest heaving under his
torn shirt, he said : " Borley, go to the

"Lieutenant," said Dan, saluting
him, "I'm nothing but a poor, mil
able, drunken soldier!"

"Go to the guard-house!" repeated
the lieutenant.

" I'll do it," said Dan after looking
at him for a moment. " I'll do it for
you, but there's not another man in
the garrison I'd do it for." And off
he started for the guard-house.

The corporal sheathed his sabre
and stepped alongside of him and a
private stepped on the other side,
each taking him by an arm. But
Dan stopped and shook them off with
an oath, and stood at bay once more.
" Take your hands off of me, " he said.
"I'm obeying the lieutenant's orders,
and I can do it without your help."
Whereupon the lieutenant told the
corporal to let him walk quietly if he
would, and so they started once more,
and Dan walked himself into the dark
cell and was locked up.

The next morning I went on guard
and Dan turned out with the prison-
ers, looking sodden and stale. The
prisoners were kept at work all day,
and it fell to me to go out with them
on the first relief as sentinel. After
we had taken the water-wagon around



and filled the water-barrels at the
different houses, I took the prisoners,
as was the custom, into the back
yards of the officers' quarters to saw
and split stove wood. While they
were at work in the lieutenant's yard
I stood near the entrance to the
passageway. Dan was carrying a
load of small wood into the kitchen
and had just tumbled it into the box,
when the lieutenant's wife, dressed
as usual in some fresh and dainty
fashion, came out of the dining-room.
Dan was for walking out looking
neither to right nor left, but she
spoke to him.

" Borley," she said, in a tone of re-
buke, "I am sorry to see you here."
Dan turned very red, stood at atten-
tion, with his eyes on the floor, and
said nothing. "I had thought," she
added, "that you had more pride."
Then she turned away and gave some
instructions to the cook, while Dan
came on out into the yard and went
to splitting wood without a word.

Well, a garrison court gave him
twenty days in the guard-house and
a forfeiture of ten dollars of his pay
for this affair, which was not so much.
for getting drunk, I fancy, as for re-
sisting the sergeant of the guard and
raising a row on the parade-ground.
When Dan had served out his time
as a prisoner and come back to duty,
he was very taciturn and quiet, which
was only natural. He devoted all of
his hours to keeping his kit clean and
bright, but it was a long time before
he was chosen orderly again. No
one but I knew how hard Dan worked
for his old place, and how he went on
guard each morning in his fine parade
clothes fitting his squarely built figure
like a glove and the sheen of his car-
bine barrel and his buttons as dazzling
as the sun, hoping that this would be
the morning he would win it back;
but it was always some other man
who walked over to the commanding
officer's quarters to report when the
old guard was relieved, while Borley
was left pacing his beat in front
of the guard-house, showing all who

cared to see how a perfect soldier
stood sentry duty. He never made
any complaint or even spoke to me
of the matter. We both knew that
the "old man" had told the adjutant
not to appoint him. Only the two
lines that went from the corners of
Dan's mouth to the corners of his
square chin deepened as I had seen
them deepen when we were in a tight
place in an Indian skirmish, or when
he was stripped to the waist standing
up against some man in the troops to
see which was the better of the two;
and at every disappointment he only
strove the more.

Until, at last, a day came when the
ban was removed and it was Dan
who marched over to the command-
ing officer's house to report as orderly,
and the lieutenant's wife was stand-
ing on the porch when he brought
his heels together and saluted. After
that he was orderly every time he
went on guard until his usual period
for going on a spree once more came
around. I supposed, of course, that
the ordinary routine would be fol-
lowed, and was much surprised when
a week passed by without his relax-
ing attention to duty. Then another
week went by, and a third, till a
month had elapsed, and my bunky
was still sober. It was an unheard-
of state of affairs, and bets were made
in the troops on how long it would
last, those who bet against his nerve
doing their best, under the guise of
friendship, to induce him to take a
drink, knowing well that one would
suffice. But those grim lines about
Dan's mouth kept their place until
six weeks had passed by. Then one
day the first sergeant sent me to the
captain's house to get the " Morning
Report" book. I found the captain
standing on the porch talking to the'
lieutenant, and so I stood at the bot-
tom of the steps waiting until he
should ask me my errand. I heard
him say, " Oh, yes, that's so. There
isn't a better man in the troops so
long as he leaves whiskey alone."

" He certainly has behaved remark-



ably well during the last six months,"
said the lieutenant. " Maybe that
court-martial " had a good effect on

" I doubt it, " said the captain ; " it's
too old a story with him. However,
he has done so well I'm willing to
give him a chance, though, as I tell
you, I haven't much confidence in

Then he turned to me and I deliv-
ered my message, got the book, and
walked off. I suspected that my
bunky was the subject of their con-
versation, but I did not understand
what it meant until the next day,
when it was announced that Private
Borley was appointed a corporal.

It was a proud day for Dan when
he first wore his chevrons. He went
on duty as non-commissioned officer
of the guard, and in the afternoon
the lieutenant sent for him on some
business about the prisoners. The
lieutenant's wife was, as usual in this
hot weather, sitting on the porch
sewing, and when her husband had
finished his instructions, she looked
at Borley with a smile and said: "I
congratulate you on your promotion,
corporal." Dan told me this after-
ward, in a subdued sort of way, and I
sat there and wondered at the man.
Seeing what an impression all this
seemed to have made on his stolid
nature, I found myself forecasting in
my mind what would happen when
he lost his chevrons — what would be
the effect on him when this moral
impulse had expended itself and he
had fallen back into the depths of
drunkenness and degradation. And
for the first time I felt a sort of pity
for him.

It was about three weeks after Dan
had been made a corporal that two
men of the troops deserted. This
was no unusual thing; in fact, there
had been so many desertions that the
commanding officer was very anxious
to catch the deserters and make an
example of them. The morning fol-
lowing the departure of these two,

Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 90 of 120)