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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




AT the end of our two days' sojourn, we left Great Salt
Lake City hearty and well fed and happy—physically
superb but not so very much wiser, as regards the “Mormon
question,” than we were when we arrived, perhaps. We had
a deal more “information” than we had before, of course, but
we did not know what portion of it was reliable and what was
not—for it all came from acquaintances of a day—strangers,
strictly speaking. We were told, for instance, that the dreadful
“Mountain Meadows Massacre” was the work of the Indians
entirely, and that the Gentiles had meanly tried to fasten it
upon the Mormons; we were told, likewise, that the Indians
were to blame, partly, and partly the Mormons; and we were
told, likewise, and just as positively, that the Mormons were
almost if not wholly and completely responsible for that most
treacherous and pitiless butchery. We got the story in all
these different shapes, but it was not till several years afterward
that Mrs. Waite's book, “The Mormon Prophet,” came
out with Judge Cradlebaugh's trial of the accused parties in
it and revealed the truth that the latter version was the correct
one and that the Mormons were the assassins. All our
“information” had three sides to it, and so I gave up the idea
that I could settle the “Mormon question” in two days. Still
I have seen newspaper correspondents do it in one.

I left Great Salt Lake a good deal confused as to what
state of things existed there—and sometimes even questioning
in my own mind whether a state of things existed there at all


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 137. In-line image of three men in western clothes talking with a Native American.]
or not. But presently I remembered with a lightening sense
of relief that we had learned two or three trivial things there
which we could be certain of; and so the two days were not
wholly lost. For instance, we had learned that we were at last
in a pioneer land, in absolute and tangible reality. The high
prices charged for trifles were eloquent of high freights and
bewildering distances of freightage. In the east, in those days,
the smallest moneyed denomination was a penny and it represented
the smallest purchasable quantity of any commodity.
West of Cincinnati the smallest coin in use was the silver five-cent
piece and no smaller quantity of an article could be
bought than “five cents' worth.” In Overland City the lowest
coin appeared to be the ten-cent piece; but in Salt Lake
there did not seem to be any money in circulation smaller
than a quarter, or any smaller quantity purchasable of any
commodity than twenty-five cents' worth. We had always
been used to half dimes and “five cents' worth” as the minimum
of financial negotiations; but in Salt Lake if one wanted
a cigar, it was a quarter; if he wanted a chalk pipe, it was a


Page 138
quarter; if he wanted a peach, or a candle, or a newspaper,
or a shave, or a little Gentile whiskey to rub on his corns to
arrest indigestion and keep him from having the toothache,
twenty-five cents was the price, every time. When we looked
at the shot-bag of silver, now and then, we seemed to be
wasting our substance in riotous living, but if we referred to
the expense account we could see that we had not been doing
anything of the kind. But people easily get reconciled to
big money and big prices, and fond and vain of both—it is a
descent to little coins and cheap prices that is hardest to bear
and slowest to take hold upon one's toleration. After a
month's acquaintance with the twenty-five cent minimum, the
average human being is ready to blush every time he thinks of
his despicable five-cent days. How sunburnt with blushes I
used to get in gaudy Nevada, every time I thought of my first
financial experience in Salt Lake. It was on this wise (which
is a favorite expression of great authors, and a very neat one,
too, but I never hear anybody say on this wise when they are
talking). A young half-breed with a complexion like a yellow-jacket
asked me if I would have my boots blacked. It was
at the Salt Lake House the morning after we arrived. I said
yes, and he blacked them. Then I handed him a silver five-cent
piece, with the benevolent air of a person who is conferring
wealth and blessedness upon poverty and suffering. The
yellow-jacket took it with what I judged to be suppressed
emotion, and laid it reverently down in the middle of his
broad hand. Then he began to contemplate it, much as a
philosopher contemplates a gnat's ear in the ample field of


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 139. In-line image of a group of men fighting over a small Native American.]
his microscope. Several mountaineers, teamsters, stage-drivers,
etc., drew near and dropped into the tableau and fell to
surveying the money with that attractive indifference to formality
which is noticeable in the hardy pioneer. Presently the
yellow-jacket handed the half dime back to me and told me I
ought to keep my money in my pocket-book instead of in
my soul, and then
I wouldn't get it
cramped and shriveled
up so!

What a roar of
vulgar laughter
there was! I destroyed
the mongrel
reptile on the spot,
but I smiled and
smiled all the time
I was detaching his
scalp, for the remark
he made was
good for an “Injun.”

Yes, we had
learned in Salt Lake
to be charged great
prices without letting the inward shudder appear on the surface—for
even already we had overheard and noted the tenor
of conversations among drivers, conductors, and hostlers, and
finally among citizens of Salt Lake, until we were well aware
that these superior beings despised “emigrants.” We permitted
no tell-tale shudders and winces in our countenances,
for we wanted to seem pioneers, or Mormons, half-breeds,
teamsters, stage-drivers, Mountain Meadow assassins—anything
in the world that the plains and Utah respected and admired—
but we were wretchedly ashamed of being “emigrants,” and
sorry enough that we had white shirts and could not swear in
the presence of ladies without looking the other way.

And many a time in Nevada, afterwards, we had occasion


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 140. In-line image of a group of men pointing at another man in a black top hat.]
to remember with humiliation that we were “emigrants,” and
consequently a low and inferior sort of creatures. Perhaps
the reader has visited Utah, Nevada, or California, even in
these latter days, and while communing with himself upon the
sorrowful banishment of those countries from what he considers
“the world,” has had his wings clipped by finding that
he is the one to be pitied, and that there are entire populations
around him ready and willing to do it for him—yea, who
are complacently doing it
for him already, wherever
he steps his foot. Poor
thing, they are making fun
of his hat; and the cut of
his New York coat; and
his conscientiousness about
his grammar; and his feeble
profanity; and his consumingly
ludicrous ignorance of
ores, shafts, tunnels, and
other things which he never
saw before, and never felt
enough interest in to read
about. And all the time
that he is thinking what a sad fate it is to be exiled to that
far country, that lonely land, the citizens around him are looking
down on him with a blighting compassion because he is
an “emigrant” instead of that proudest and blessedest creature
that exists on all the earth, a “Forty-Niner.

The accustomed coach life began again, now, and by midnight
it almost seemed as if we never had been out of our
snuggery among the mail sacks at all. We had made one alteration,
however. We had provided enough bread, boiled ham
and hard boiled eggs to last double the six hundred miles of
staging we had still to do.

And it was comfort in those succeeding days to sit up
and contemplate the majestic panorama of mountains and
valleys spread out below us and eat ham and hard boiled


Page 141
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 504EAF. Page 141. Tail-piece image of a man about to walk through a gate to a large house.] eggs while our spiritual natures revelled alternately in rainbows,
thunderstorms, and peerless sunsets. Nothing helps
scenery like ham and eggs. Ham and eggs, and after these a
pipe—an old, rank, delicious pipe—ham and eggs and scenery,
a “down grade,” a flying coach, a fragrant pipe and a contented
heart—these make happiness. It is what all the ages
have struggled for.