John C. (John Calhoun) Bell.

The pilgrim and the pioneer; the social and material developments in the Rocky Mountains online

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girl about thirty, raw-boned, muscular, with a coarse voice
and abrupt, independent air, was mistress of the dining
room, seated the guests, took the orders, collected the bills,
and practically ordered the boarders to tip her liberally.
She, and the unique guests which they were fortunate
enough to meet here, used a slang that made their conver-
sation almost a riddle to the ordinary visitor. It is not pre-
tended that these guests, this waiter, or this restaurant,
were fair samples of those common to Butte City. The
owner of the gambling hall blandly referred to the cook as
a "pot- wrestler," to the waiter as a "hash-slinger," and
to the victuals as "chuck," etc.

By the time they got comfortably seated a man and a
woman, dressed mostly in leather, with high gauntlet
gloves, red leather leggins, and immense sombreros, came
sweeping across the dining-room to their table and gush-
ingly grasped the hand of the gambler, familiarly calling
him "Gray Eagle," because of his prematurely iron-gray
hair; he addressed the man as "Hackey" and the woman
as "Bronchey," they being generally known in the com-
munity as "Hackberry Charlie" and "Broncho Kate."

Gray Eagle was consuming an immense beefsteak,
large enough for four men. "Bronchey" inquired : "Gray
Eagle, what does that slab off the unfortunate bovine set
you back?" He replied, "I don't know, Bronchey, the
hash-slinger hasn't presented me with a bill of lading
yet." The waiter soon came in and cried out "Beefsteak,
ham and eggs." "Hackey" and "Bronchey" consulted a
moment, then "Hackey" answered : "Bring us a couple of
slabs from the most elevated portion of the rear perambu-
lating machinery of the lamented swine and a healthy
bunch of green hen fruit." The waiter inquired: "How



will you have your eggs cooked?" "Hackey" in a low,
confidential tone said, "Fry mine up and down stairs,"
then solicitously looked at "Bronchey" for a reply. She
piped out, "You may close the eyes of mine, too." One
would have thought these three persons controlled the des-
tiny of Butte to hear their conversation. "Gray Eagle"
mentioned one capitalist after another and declared them
real enemies of the town; said they employed men of
families or old fogies who put their money into savings
banks and sent it away to relatives, and that the saloons
and gambling halls, which kept up Butte and distributed
the money among the people, got but little benefit from
such miners, and that the sports would leave town unless
things changed, and the houses in Butte would be filled
with bats and burros if this wide-awake business class
should abandon it.

"Bronchey" and "Hackey" fully agreed with him.
They pushed back their plates and "Hackey" inquired,
"Hash-slinger, how much is the till shy on this re-
plenishing of our empty bread baskets?" The girl
answered: "$3.50." He threw down a five dollar
bill and said : "Can you break a V ?" She replied, "You
bet your sweet life we can break anything from a broncho
buster to a bonanza king if we can get a cinch on them."
She threw him down a dollar and a half in silver, say-
ing, "There is your dough." He threw the girl back a half
dollar, retorting, "Plant that in the heel of your stock-
ing with my love. I like to encourage a real artist in hash-
slinging." The girl grabbed the half dollar and replied,
"Bully boy with a glass eye, thanks awfully; if I
am around I shall dance at your funeral for the nice comp'
and the half dollar to sew in my stocking heel." With
great cordiality "Hackey" took the gambler by the hand


and bade him good-bye, saying that he had greatly enjoyed
this "jaw service" and regretted that Butte was not filled
with such wide-awake and enterprising business men as
he. The gambler thanked him, looked patronizingly at
"Bronchey" and said that when he saw the graceful shape
of "Bronchey" glued to the apex of her pretty caballo
this A. M. he envied his station as her "pal." "Bronchey"
shot her long red hand into the gambler's and said : "Shake
a bunch of fives on that handsome lip service, pardner ; I
am your huckleberry hereafter." Then "Hackey" and
"Bronchey" stalked out to their horses.

The waiter suggested: "I like them kind of people
who always speaks pure English so one can understand
them, and then they pays for what they get. I'll bet they
plank down to me $3 a week for good attentions. I de-
spise these Boston and "N&w York people who come here
and try to use those high-falutin words that they don't
know the meaning of themselves ; and then they squeeze a
dollar until the eagle on it gasps for breath before they
will let it go. Shucks, if one of them eats here a week I
wouldn't get a dollar out of him. He might leave ten cents
by his plate if I was right sweet on him, but what could
one expect of these tender-feet who always lived among the
old fogies in Boston or !N"ew York where they never see
nothing and where they never get a glimpse of a dollar un-
less some of our western boys go back there and blow in
their stuff. I wish they would quit spending their
money in "New York and Boston and let the natives starve
awhile. I'll bet that would bring them to their milk. I
am always sorry for people who have to live in such ignor-
ance and poverty as they have to in New York and

The gambler said they knew no better and, "in the



language of Milton or Byron or the Bible or somebody,
'Ignorance is bliss/ or something like that/' arose, threw her
a half dollar, and departed, and the weary travelers were
afraid not to put up a half dollar each lest she might think
they were from the poor villages of New York or Boston.

The Pioneer said, "There are extremes in society;
that part that always lives on a frontier or at a cross road
town without an opportunity of seeing the more advanced
centers of civilization believes that all on earth that is
precious or desirable centers in the villages or on the fron-
tier, and they are really sorry for those who have to live
in the more advanced settlements. The other extreme
moves from place to place until it believes there is no place
on earth fit to live in. The breezy waiter belongs to the
former class. As between the two extremes the former is
much more desirable as there is love of home and content-
ment associated with this lot, while the nightmare of
restlessness and dissatisfaction are ever at the heels of the

When the Pioneer and Mr. Campbell came out into
the office, the owner of the gambling hall was sitting at
a round card-table playing solitaire. The Pioneer said,
"Wait for me here, Mr. Campbell, until I get shaved."
Mr. Campbell walked over and watched the game of soli-
taire, and the owner of the gambling hall asked him if
he ever speculated any with cards. Mr. Campbell re-
plied that he could play a little, but did not believe in
gambling. "Very well," said the owner of the gambling
hall, "we will amuse ourseives with a little friendly game
of shoot-mouth," and he dealt the cards. He always
allowed Mr. Campbell to win and constantly eulogized his
luck and his brilliant plays.

The Pioneer soon returned and looked on the game


for a few moments. Every time the owner of the gambling
hall got the deal he gave Mr. Campbell a phenomenal hand
and had bully-ragged him to bet until he was about to

The Pioneer said, "Give me your hand, Mr. Camp-
bell, you see if the horses are all right."

The stranger, when it came his turn to deal, gave the
Pioneer three queens; the Pioneer said nothing about
betting, but made a show down and won the pot. The next
time his new friend got a deal, he gave the Pioneer three
jacks and a pair of queens. The Pioneer said, "Ah! I
have a winning hand this time." The gambler threw
down twenty dollars and said, "I'll bet you twenty. You
dare not bet; you haven't got the nerve. I dare you."

The Pioneer coolly laid twenty dollars on the table,
drew a vicious looking bull-dog revolver fiom his hip
pocket, stuck it in the gambler's face and said, "Lay down
that hand. Lay it down, or I shall drop you right in your

The gambler spread out three kings and a pair of
queens and said, "Don't get excited, my friend, put up
that gun, it might go off accidentally. Those things are
always unpleasant, if not dangerous."

The Pioneer spread upon the table four aces, picked
up the forty dollars and put them in his pocket.

The gambler flushed up and said, "It looks to me like
there was some swindle about this."

"Yes," replied the Pioneer, "it is all a swindle on both
sides. You started in to rob that boy, and I returned
just in time to save him. Then you tried to 'cold-deck'
me by stealing out three jacks and a pair of queens for
me, and three kings and a pair of queens for yourself, but
while you were getting together these two hands, I took


out the four aces and put them under my leg, and returned
your three jacks and pair of queens to the deck. Now,
what are you going to do about it? Squeal, I presume."

"Ah !" answered the gambler, "you are all right a
dead game sport. The money is yours, but I am surprised,
I never suspected you at all. I was trying to keep you
from watching me, but I never thought of watching you.
Say, partner, I should like to go in 'cahoots 7 with you.
I know where we can make a barrel of money. Will you
join me ?"

The Pioneer straightened up to a superb dignity
and replied, "No, I am no sport. I never gambled in my
life, sir, and shall hardly begin now in my rapidly declin-
ing years."

"Oh, yes, yes, I understand that," answered the sport,
"that is all right."

The Pioneer returned to the dining-room and gave
the two helpers each five dollars, then went to the kitchen
and gave the two helpers there five dollars each.

When he returned he said, "Sir, I have given the
money I wrenched from you to the helpers in the dining-
room and in the kitchen. I should not taint my business
transactions with such ill-gotten gains."

"Oh, that's all right," answered the gambler, "don't
be offended; I admire you. Such generosity is always
found in dead game sports. When can I have a long busi-
ness talk with you?"

"Never," said the Pioneer, as he stepped out on the

The owner of the gambling hall stepped up to the
clerk and inquired, "Did you ever see that fellow before
that just went out of here ?"

"Yes," replied the clerk. "I just saw him distrib-


ute twenty dollars among the help. I think he is some
crazy fellow."

"No," answered the gambler, "he is the slickest and
gamiest sport that I ever tackled and I am going in
'cahoots' with him if I have to follow him for a year. I'll
bet he's got a barrel of money. When he cools off, he will
be back, then you send for me."

Mr. Campbell saw all this and fully realized
that he was the sole cause of this dangerous escapade.
Between the fear and humiliation he almost had nervous
prostration. This was the first time he had ever seen the
Pioneer aroused and it filled him with all kinds of morose
forebodings. It made him long for old Tennessee again.

It occurred to Mr. Campbell that the Pioneer had
been very morose ever since they passed a band of Indians
the evening before; that when he saw the savages he in-
stantly turned his back upon them ; that his checks puffed
up with accumulated blood and he walked briskly in the
opposite direction; that he had had little to say since,
and that probably these most forcible reminders of his
ruin had unbalanced his mind.

In the morning the Pilgrim and the Pioneer took
a stroll over this famous mining-camp. There was noth-
ing which would lead the untutored in the mineral king-
dom to expect great mineral values here. The so-called
mountain upon which the mining and prospecting were
being done, was a low, barren ridge hugging the little set-
tlement below. There was not a tree, a bunch of grass, or
a flower visible in the town. They asked the editor of the
newspaper why no one had a grass plot, a tree, or a bunch
of hardy flowers. "My dear sirs," said he, "the fumes
from the minerals here are destructive to vegetable growth.
A bunch of grass or a potted plant left out here over night



will be dead in the morning." They asked how he account-
ed for the giant-like men they met on every street corner.
"That is the consequence of a wise business prin-
ciple that is recognized in but few places, though its
soundness is as well established among the thinking em-
ployers of labor as the law of gravitation is among scien-
tists, and that is, the cheapest per diem is usually the
dearest labor. Butte City has the reputation of maintain-
ing the highest mining wage^scale of any place, hence the
very best miners of British Columbia and the United
States gravitate to this point. Hon. James G. Blaine,
when Secretary of State, showed in one of his reports
that while the American artisan obtained a much higher
per diem than his European brethren, at the same time
he accomplished so much more than they that
the American manufacturer completed a yard of
cloth at a less cost than did his European com-
petitor. The philosophy of this seeming contradiction
rests on indisputable premises. For over a hundred years
the American wage-scale has been much higher than that
of Europe, This occasioned a constant inflow of the most
aggressive, strong, and efficient workmen of the Old World
to the American employers, giving them the great advan-
tage bound up in the principle that he who continually
employs at the highest per diem gets such an advantage
in superior efficiency that he in reality uses the cheapest
labor. I knew one great mine, the manager of which fully
recognized the principle and persisted in paying from 25
to 50 cents above the current wages, and thereby obtained
the choice of all accessible miners, and made money.
The mine owners protested and sent a committee to
him to persuade him to abide by the usual scale. The
astute manager replied, 'My mine is at timber line, the


highest in the district. If I pay the usual scale of wages
I will get only such miners as cannot get employment at
the lower and more congenial altitudes, and will there-
fore have the refuse of the camp, and lose money. By
paying one-half dollar per day more than the usual scale I
obtain the pick of the miners of the country, and I find
that this apparently dearer labor is, in fact, much cheaper
than that obtained at the usual scale. 7 '

After a very instructive sojourn in Butte they moved
down the Missoula River between stately mountain sides,
covered with great pine forests, to the little city of Mis-
soula, with bleak, parched, shadeless background of the
ever present sage brush.



Early in the morning, the Pilgrim and the Pioneer
were attracted to five or six unkept-looking men, dressed
in greasy buckskins, with uncombed, long ringlet hair and
waving, bushy whiskers, escorting one cadaverous-looking,
malarialized, though neatly dressed and refined, middle-
aged woman, from the station to the Missoula Hotel.

She had evidently just left the malaria beds of the
East, as no such complexion or neat dressing was indigen-
ous to this region. One man and the woman hurried away
to the parlor. It was soon narrated to the Pilgrim and the
Pioneer that John and this woman knew each other in
childhood, and that he had not seen her since her short-
dress and barefoot school days ; but of late they had been
using the pen, and she had just arrived from Illinois
to become John*s " worn an."

John soon emerged with a forlorn and dis-
appointed look upon his face, showing that things
were not just as he had expected. A small, wiry little
Justice of the Peace, apparently with his father's
wedding suit on, at least fifty years out of date, hur-
ried up to him and asked if he was ready to have the
ceremony performed. The prospective groom shook his
head and said, "In a little while," and walked across to
a clothing store. In half an hour he returned, clad in a
suit of shoddy clothes and a white shirt without a collar,
and seemed as awkward and restless in his woollen

clothes as a young colt at his first appearance in harness.



His comrades gathered about him and asked, "Wouldn't
your woman marry you in your buckskin suit and blue
shirt?" Another said, "She must be mighty high-toned."
Another warned him : "John, it won't do for you to wear
them store clothes and that 'biled' shirt over to the Coeur
d' Alenes. W'y the boys would have no respect for you
in those high-toned fixins'." John shook his head.
"She never seen anything like this and ft makes
her home-sick, but I told her that after she had lived here
six months she wouldn't like anything but the buckskin
suit and blue shirts, and you couldn't hire her to live
anywhere else; but she says these suits scare her now.
Things don't seem to be as she expected, and I'm afraid
she regrets her bargain."

The frisky Justice of the Peace asked him if he was
ready to be married. John answered, "In a few minutes."
He soon came out again, more embarrassed than before.
One after another asked him if he was ready. He shook
his head and re-entered the clothing store, and soon re-
turned with a high standing collar, which went above
his short neck and pushed his large ears up into folds ; but
he was still minus a necktie.

His comrades were astounded. They said that they
never thought that "any woman could ever get John
Farley into such dude fixin's as them." They all thought
that he had made a mistake in selecting his "woman."
They said that he was a good provider; he had built a
good peeled-log cabin for her and had gone to great ex-
pense in putting in a board floor and a glass window, and
in putting the boards under the dirt roof so close together
that not a crumb of dirt would sift through ; and they were
willing to bet that from her high-toned Eastern ideas she
wouldn't be satisfied.


In a few minutes John appeared and leaned against
the door to keep from falling in his embarrassment. His
"woman" had tied one of her white silk handkerchiefs
around his neck as a tie and he sought to keep this hidden
from his comrades. He mumbled out, "Come in now."
As soon as the spry little Justice of the Peace entered the
door, he began the ceremony, and he really did his part
skillfully. At the conclusion he kissed the bride. The
old hunters then, one by one, walked up and spread their
flowing beards over the bride's pale face and made their
muscular lips fairly pop in their vigorous contact with
those of John's "woman." Her heart seemed to stop and
her muscles trembled like aspen leaves in a mountain
zephyr. She would have given all she possessed to re-
trace her steps, but it was Joo late.

In half an hour John .returned to the street
in his buckskins and blue shirt, and was a model of
grace and comfort. He walked briskly to a
livery stable and soon returned with a huge unpainted
lumber wagon with three sets of side boards, the
bottom loaded with hard wood and iron bands ; above this
was piled in a load of light furniture. He had six lop-
eared, wild-eyed bronchos hitched to the wagon, prancing
and standing on theii; hind feet. The high spring seat
was tilted on the third set of side-boards, which put it
ten or twelve feet in mid air. One comrade brought the
bride, another a step-ladder for her to ascend to this
elevated seat. At the foot of the ladder John's "woman"
burst into tears, and exclaimed, "I can never get up there,
and if I could I never could stay there. I know I'll be
killed !" The men crowded around her and tried to con-
sole her, told her how safe it was, and what an opportunity
she would have to see the beautiful country. They said




that in six months she would not change this life for any
other. One Pioneer pointed out to her how fortunate
John was to have a good mattress along; that it would
be so much better than rolling up in a blanket when they
camped on top of the range that night. Her heart sank
within her when she found that she was to camp out that
night among the crags. Her muscles relaxed and like a
conquered deer she gave up and by her actions at least,
said, "Do what you will with me. You can do no more
than kill me." The men took hold of her and literally
pushed hoi- UT> the ladder and into the high spring seat.
She eagerly grasped one end of the seat with her left hand
and fastened the fingers of the other hand in the collar of
John's buckskin coat. One of the men got a firm hold on
her jacket, Johii popped his whip, the six wild bron-
chos bolted into a dead run, and the last the Pilgrim and
Pioneer saw of the bride, she was swaying to the right
and to the left as though on a teeter board, as the surface
of the ground changed. But few brides in the world can
have so wild and romantic a honeymoon as John's "wom-
an" experienced on that reckless run from Missoula to
the Coeur d'Alenes.

The parting salutation of the Pioneer was, "What a
superb mother that refined and cultivated woman will
make, for that wild animal's children. It is to be hoped
that they will, as usual, be modeled after the mother, es-
pecially so in this case."



After seeing the bride swing off on her depressing
honeymoon, the Pilgrim and the Pioneer picked up and
took a short mountain trail for the same wild jungle. They
encountered many little tributaries headed in smooth
basins up among the rugged hills, occupied, generally, by
a lone man, though now and then they found a family
there. Travelers could always depend on these settlers
to give them a dismal picture of the country that they
might move on and leave this lone occupant monarch of
his basin.

On a sloping hill, by a gushing spring, in a clump of
quaking asp trees, they picketed the horses out to grass,
and went down to a long pole cabin, with elk and deer
heads all over it, a long rough board nailed aver the door,
and a sign written with charcoal, "WOOLY APHIS
INN." The snow was deep, and as the shades of evening
crept over Woolly Aphis Mining Camp it became bitterly
cold. Old Woolly Aphis had a big Dutch fire-place across
one end of the cabin, and one corner of the room was
filled with large pine logs. All hands put their blankets
as near as possible to the fire-place and retired early, all
except the grotesque host, doubling up to try to keep
both sides warm. About one o'clock in the morning, some
one knocked on the door, and a quivering female voice
piped out, "Can I come in ? I am almost frozen."

John's "woman" had become so hysterical on that

high seat and over the thought that she had to sleep out




among the crags that night, that he had put her in the mail
wagon that plied from Missoula to Wallace, running day
and night, and told her to stop off at Wolly Aphis Inn,
"a first class stopping place," he said, and he would pick
her up the next day.

Old Woolly Aphis rolled out of his blankets and ex-
claimed, "I, hoky, boys, thars the first woman that ever
put her foot in Woolly Aphis ! and how can we take care
of her? We ain't fixed for ladies?"

He hurriedly opened the door and the woman, with
chattering teeth and a benumbed body, almost fell into
the room. As she began to warm up a little she came near
falling into the yawning Dutch fire-place. Mr. Wickham
arose and said, "Gentlemen, this woman must have a
place to sleep. We must divide our blankets with her,
or some of us must sit up."

Old Woolly Aphis retorted, "Pardner, you content
your soul in peace and patience. I guess old Woolly
Aphis can run his own house and look after his own
guests, if one on 'em do be a woman." He turned down
his blankets and got one of the long logs of wood from
the corner and placed it in the middle of his blanket-bed,
and said, "My dear, m'am, I ain't fixed very well for
ladies, but I'll provide for you the best I ken. Now, you
see this back log in the center of my blankets is the dead
line between us. You get on the side of the log next to
the fire and go to sleep, and I'll guarantee you will be
jest as safe in my blankets as in your mother's arms.
Narry a finger nor a toe of old Woolly Aphis will ever
cross to your side of that back log. While you are a
guest here, I'll be your protector." The woman, benumbed
and stupid, dropped between the blankets with her clothes

Online LibraryJohn C. (John Calhoun) BellThe pilgrim and the pioneer; the social and material developments in the Rocky Mountains → online text (page 26 of 33)