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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




I DO not know how long I was in a state of forgetfulness,
but it seemed an age. A vague consciousness grew upon
me by degrees, and then came a gathering anguish of pain in
my limbs and through all my body. I shuddered. The thought
flitted through my brain, “this is death—this is the hereafter.”

Then came a white upheaval at my side, and a voice said,
with bitterness:

“Will some gentleman be so good as to kick me behind?”

It was Ballou—at least it was a towzled snow image in a
sitting posture, with Ballou's voice.

I rose up, and there in the gray dawn, not fifteen steps
from us, were the frame buildings of a stage station, and under
a shed stood our still saddled and bridled horses!

An arched snow-drift broke up, now, and Ollendorff
emerged from it, and the three of us sat and stared at the
houses without speaking a word. We really had nothing to
say. We were like the profane man who could not “do the
subject justice,” the whole situation was so painfully ridiculous
and humiliating that words were tame and we did not know
where to commence anyhow.

The joy in our hearts at our deliverance was poisoned;
well-nigh dissipated, indeed. We presently began to grow
pettish by degrees, and sullen; and then, angry at each other,
angry at ourselves, angry at everything in general, we moodily
dusted the snow from our clothing and in unsociable single
file plowed our way to the horses, unsaddled them, and sought
shelter in the station.

I have scarcely exaggerated a detail of this curious and


Page 239
absurd adventure. It occurred almost exactly as I have stated
it. We actually went into camp in a snow-drift in a desert, at
midnight in a storm, forlorn and hopeless, within fifteen steps
of a comfortable inn.

For two hours we sat apart in the station and ruminated in
disgust. The mystery was gone, now, and it was plain enough
why the horses had deserted us. Without a doubt they were
under that shed a quarter of a minute after they had left us,
and they must have overheard and enjoyed all our confessions
and lamentations.

After breakfast we felt better, and the zest of life soon
came back. The world looked bright again, and existence
was as dear to us as ever. Presently an uneasiness came over
me—grew upon me—assailed me without ceasing. Alas, my
regeneration was not complete—I wanted to smoke! I resisted
with all my strength, but the flesh was weak. I wandered
away alone and wrestled with myself an hour. I
recalled my promises of reform and preached to myself
persuasively, upbraidingly, exhaustively. But it was all vain,
I shortly found myself sneaking among the snow-drifts hunting
for my pipe. I discovered it after a considerable search,
and crept away to hide myself and enjoy it. I remained
behind the barn a good while, asking myself how I would
feel if my braver, stronger, truer comrades should catch me in
my degradation. At last I lit the pipe, and no human being
can feel meaner and baser than I did then. I was ashamed
of being in my own pitiful company. Still dreading discovery,
I felt that perhaps the further side of the barn would be somewhat
safer, and so I turned the corner. As I turned the one
corner, smoking, Ollendorff turned the other with his bottle
to his lips, and between us sat unconscious Ballou deep in
a game of “solitaire” with the old greasy cards!

Absurdity could go no farther. We shook hands and
agreed to say no more about “reform” and “examples to the
rising generation.”

The station we were at was at the verge of the Twenty-six-Mile
Desert. If we had approached it half an hour earlier


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 240. In-line image of three men outside of a building. One man is seated one is exiting through the door, and another is coming around the side of the building.]
the night before, we must have heard men shouting there and
firing pistols; for they were expecting some sheep drovers
and their flocks and knew that they would infallibly get lost
and wander out of reach of help unless guided by sounds.
While we remained at the station, three of the drovers arrived,
nearly exhausted with their wanderings, but two others of
their party were never heard of afterward.

We reached Carson in due time, and took a rest. This
rest, together with preparations for the journey to Esmeralda,
kept us there a week, and the delay gave us the opportunity
to be present at the trial of the great land-slide case of Hyde
vs. Morgan—an episode which is famous in Nevada to this
day. After a word or two of necessary explanation, I will set
down the history of this singular affair just as it transpired.