Press enter after choosing selection

A Sierra Wedding

A Sierra Wedding image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

It was late in the f all, and it certainly must have been a cold, frosty moming, for Sandj's teeth chattered together as I if lie had an ague, wiien lio told the Judge. In fact, he stood around the Howling Wilderness more than half a day ; but lic could not, or at least wotüd not, drink, though he did very many foolish things, and seemed ill at fase and troubled in a way that was 'new to liim. At last he got the Judge cornered. He took him by the collar with both hands, he baoked him up in a comer, and as he did so his teeth chattered and ground together as if he stood half naked on the everlasting snows that surrounded them. 11 ■ pushed his face down into the reel ! apple-like face of the magistrate, and began as if he was abont to reveal the most terrible crime in the anmils of the world. All the time he was holding on to the Judge with both hands, as if ho feared he might not listen to his proposal, but tear away and attempt to escape. "Good, good?" The Judge drew a long breath. He swelled out almost instantly to nearly twico his usual importance. You could have seen him grow. It was now the udge's turn to lay hold of Sandy. For uow, as the grest strong man ünd accomplished his fearfnl task, told his secret, and done all that was necessary to do, hc wanted to get away, to go home, to go anywhere and collect his thoughts, and to rest. The Judge held him there, told him the great advantages that wonld como of it, the high responsibility that he was about to put his shoulders to, and talked t him, in fact, till he grew white and etiff as a signpost. Yet all that Sandy could remember, for almost all he said, was something about "the glorious climate of Californy. " Never rode a king into his capital with such majesty as did the Judge that day enter the Forks. He WB8 swelling, bursting with the importance of his se cret. ISut now he had Sandy's permission to teil the boys, and he went straight to the Howling Wilderness for that purpose. His face glowed liko fire as he stood there rubbing his hands above the great, mounting blaze, and bowing right and left in a .si irt of a way to the miners who had sauntered iuto the saloon. At last the litüe red-faccd man turned hifi back to the iire, stuck his two hands back behind liis coat, which he kept lifting np and down and fanning carelessly, as if in deep thought ; stood almost on tiptoe, stuck out his round little body, and seemed about to burstwith liis secret. " Oh, tliis wonderful Califomy climate ?" He puft'ed a littlc as he said this, and fanned his coat-tails a little bit higher, perked out his belly a little bit further, and stood there as if he expected some one to speak. But, as the miners seemed to think they had heard Homething like this before, or at least lliat tlie remark was not wholly new, none of them feit called upon to rcspond. "Wcll," - the Jittle man tilted upon liis toes as he said this, and took in a long breath - "hit comes off about the iirst suow-fall." He had saicl these words one at a time, and by inclirs, is it were - slowly, delibn-ately, as if he knew perfectly well that lic had something to say, and that men were l)ound to listen. This time they all looked up, and a half of them spoke, And oh ! didn't he torture them ? Not that he pretended to keep his secret of half a day - Dot at nll ! Om the cöntrarV, he kept tftlking on, mul tiptoeing and fmig i,;( coat taüfi, :inil (MiJiiiü1 dut liis belly, and (■nilii! out bis cbeekfl just as careleasly and tndift'erent as il' all tlie world knew jiist wliat he was going to say, and was perfectly familiar with the subject. "Yes, gentlemen," pnffed tho littlo man, "on or ábout the first snowfal), the widow, as a widow, ceases to exièl. That lovely flowef, my rriends, i.s to bc transplanted from its present bed to - to - into - the - wouderful cliniato of Oftlifornyl" The Howling Wildernees wbb as silent ixs the cataeombs of Home lor ïiearly a minuta. The lirst thiug that was heard was something like a red-hot caimonshot. The omnamon-Leaáod man behind the bav dodged down bohincl his barricade of sand-bag, t í 11 ouly his bristling red hair and a six-snooter wero visible. The decanters tilted together as if theïc had been au earthquake. It was onlya Missourian sweariug. Somebody back in the corner said, " Jerusalem!" - said it in joints and pieoeB ; and then carne forward and kicked the iire, and stood up by 11 ie side of the red little man and looked down at him as if he would liko lo eat liim for a pieco of raw beef. A tal!, fair boy went back to a bunk against the fnrther wal!, wlicro tho barkeepers buil dog lay sleeping in his blankets, and put his arms about his neek, and put his face down and remained there a long time. Perhaps he wept. There was a great big hairy head moved out of the crowd and up to fche I bar. The head rolled on the shoolders from side to side, as if it was not very I ; flrmly iixcd there and did not particularly care at this particular timo whethor i it remained there or not. A big h'st feil j like a stone on the bir. Tho glasses I jumped as if frightened lialf to death ; they ran up against each otlier, and ! clicked and huddled together there, and fairly screamed and split their sides in their terror. A big niouth opened behind au awful barricade of beard, again the big list feil down, again the glasses screamcd and clinked with terror, and the head rolled sidewise again, and the j big niouth opened again, and tho big volee said : "By the bald-headed Elijah!" and ' that was all. Then there was another calm, and you raight have heard the little brown wood mice nibbliug at the old boots and the leather belts and tin cans stow;d away among the other rubbisli up in the lolt of the Howling Wilderness. Then the flst came down again, and the big niouth opened, and the big mouth said, slow and loud and long and savage, like the grbwl of a grizzly : " Swaller my grandmothor's boots !" Then the man feil back aud melted into the crowd ; and whatever romance there was in his life, whatever sentiment ho niay have liad, whatever poetry there ! was pent up iu the heart of this great j Titan, it f ound no other expression than ; this. The genteel gambler who sat beliind a table, with his greea cloth and silver faro box, forgot to throw his card, bnt ' j held hifi arm poised in the air till any ! man couliï have seen the jack of clubs, ] i though a thousand dollars worth of gold dust depended on the turn. Yet all this soou had an end, of course, and there was a confusión of tongues and a noisc j that settíéd gradüally over against the ! bar. Even there it was afterward remarked, though the men really '■ ested did nofc know it at the time, that the cinnamon-headed dealer of drinks put cayenne pepper in a gin coc'itail, and Schiedam schnapps in a toni and jerry. i Ijimbcr Tim was th;re iu their midst, but was a sad and silent man. Perhaps , he had been told all about it beore, and perhaps not. Tim was not a talker, but a thiuker. This to him maant the loss of his partner, the man he lovcd - a ■ drvorce. Poor Lamber ! he only backed up ; against the wall, screwed his back there, tvist?d one leg in beliind tho other, stuck his hands in behind him, and so stood tliere uutil he aaw a man looking at him. Then he flopped over with his faoe to the wall, dug up his great pencil from iii.s great pocket, and feil to writiug on the wall and trying to hide his face from his fellows. " Eather sudden, ain't it, Judgc ?" " WeZJ, not so sudden - notso sudden, considerin' this - this - this glorious ; climate of Oidiforny." The wedding-day came. The camp liad been invited to a man. There was but one place in the camp that eould j hold a titile of its people, and that was : the Howling Wilderness. The plan had been to have the wedding under the pines on tho hill ; but the wind came pitcliing down the mountain, with frost and snow iu its beard, that morning, and drove them to tho shelter. What a placea was that Howling Wilderness ! It was battle-lield, pnze-ring, dead-house, gambüng-hell, coiirt-house, chapcl, evcrything by turns. Thero they stood, side by side and hand in hand, before tlie crackling lire, before the little Judge. 1 The house was hot. It was crowded as thick as the 'men could stand. Tighte than sardines in a tin box the men stood there bareheaded, with hardly room to breathe. Tho fat little magistrate was terribly embai-rassed. He had sent all the way across the mountains by the last p:ick-train, by the last express, by the i last man who had dared the snows ; but no pack-train, no express, aothing liad returned with tlio ooveted, tho so-muchneeded marriage ceremony and service, which ho liad resolved to read to the people, interspcrsed with such reinarks and moral observations as the case might require. Alas ! tho forni of the ceremony had not arrived. He liad nothing of the kind to guidte hini. He had liever offieiated in this way before. He had never studied up in this branch. Why should he have studied up in this line, when thero was but one womaii in all the camp, in all his little world ? As the form had not arrrivod, ho had nothing in the world but his moral observations to use on tliis imposing occasion, and he was embarrassed as man had never been etmbarrassed before. He j stoodthcrctrying hard to begin. Hecóuld ' hear the men breathe. The protty little ! woman was troubled, too. Her face was all the time held down, her eyes drooped, and die did not look up - did not look ; right or lelt, or anywhero - but Beemed to surrender herself to fato, to give , fiíúi away. Her soul seemed elsewhere, as if she Rat on a high bank above all this, and was not of' it or in it at all. " Do you solemuly swear ?" The Judge had jerked himself together with an efïbrt that matle his joints fairly rattle. He hoistod his right hand in tho j air as he said this, and, having once breken gvound, he went on: "Doycra solemnly Bwear to love, honor, and obey?" Poor Limber Tim, who had just room enough behind tho Judge to turn over, here became embarrassed through syinpathy for the Ittüe red-faced magistrale, and, of eourse, nopped over ánd b to wi'ite his oame kocI the date and ttiake pictures on Uw av:i!I, willi a QervöHS rapidity proportionatc to his embaí ment. " Do you solenmly swear?" It wns very painful. The littlo mim took down his löted flagstefl to wipe Iris littlo bakl head ; and ho could not get it j op again, bat stood there atill and ' lese. You could heat tho men breatïie as they leaiied and liatonod with uil their miglit to hear. They heard tho water j outside gttrgling on down over tho great bowlders, over daïos, and on thrcmgh the canon. TIicy heard the littlo ' brown wood-mico nibblo and nibble ut tho bits of bacon rind and old loather ! boots up in tho lofts above their hcads ; bilt that was uil. At last tho Judgo revived, and bogan again, and in a voicu that was full of dos]ioration : " Do you solomnly swear to love md protect and honor and obcy till doath do you part, aiid - - " Hcre the voico foll dovii low, lowor, and tho Judge was again floundoriug n the water, 'l'lion his hond wout nm lev utterly. Thou he roso, and " Now 1 lay me down to sloop " rolled troinulonsly through the ailent room from the h'ps of the Judgo. Thcn again the head was midcr water ; then it roso up ngain, and there was somethiug like " Twinklo, : twinklo, littlo star." Thcn the voico diod again ; tho. head was ïmdor waU'r. Then it rose agaiu, and the hcatl went up j high in tho air, and tho voice was lond and resolute, and tho man roso on his tiptoes, and, begiiming with " Whou in tho course of human events, " he went on ! in a deep and splendid tone vntii the Declaration of Indopondenciï to the vory tceth of the very tyrannical King George, and then, bringing his hand down phatically on tho gamiug tibio tliat stood to his right, said, lond and cloar and resolute and authoritatively, as he tilted . wavd on his toes : " So help you God, and I pronounce you man and wife." - !


Old News
Michigan Argus