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Elizabeth Visits America by Elinor Glyn

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Brounker-Courtfield's view that it is the life a man leads more than
blood even, which tells; and there they are fighting the earth for the
ore with great courage and endurance and hard manual labour, and so it
produces finer expressions of faces, and lither forms than using your
brains to be sharper in business than your neighbour.

All the time Nelson and the man with the roguish eye stood on either
side of me, and the Senator moved from Octavia backwards and forwards,
and when we got outside they both held my arms, not with the least
familiarity, but the gentle protective respect they might have to
an aged queen, or you, Mamma; and it was just as well, because the
sidewalks were up on sort of sleepers, and were all uneven, and in some
places a board worn through, so one could have a bad fall by oneself.
And it was very agreeable, but I noticed that Nelson held mine rather
tight, and that his arm trembled. I suppose he was still feeling the
vibration of the train. I hope you picture it all--us walking through
these quaint streets, surrounded by a crowd of great big men. And
neither Octavia nor I have ever walked in a street before at night, so
it did seem fun.

After this we went to the large dance hall. It was too interesting, and
I simply longed to dance. I must describe it to you, Mamma, because of
course you have never heard of anything of this sort before. It was a
very large board room, like a barn with a rail across the front end of
it, and a gate; and in the front part a drinking bar, the musicians at
the other end on a platform, and beyond the rail and gate a beautiful
dance floor, while at the side were boxes where one could retire to
watch the dancing--all rough boards and gaudy cretonne curtains. The
lady partners were not in evening dress, just blouses and skirts, and it
seemed the custom for the man to pay the proprietor for each dance, take
his lady through the gate, and when it was over escort her to the bar to
have a drink. It could only have been very innocent refreshment, as no
one seemed the least drunk or offensive. The bar part was crowded with
every type of the mining camp, two-thirds of them splendid faces and
figures, just glorious men; the other third, dwindling gradually to a
rather brutal typed Mexican; and even though their dress was the rough
miner's, with great boots, all were freshly shaven and smart, and all
had a "gun" in their belt, although it is against the law to wear
one concealed. But grim death lurks near all the time. Numbers were
presented to us, and in no court in Europe could one find more courtly
ease of manner or sans gene. Octavia and I are "crazy" about them.

There is no class here; it is the real thing, and the only part we have
seen yet of America where equality is a fact. That is, it is the man
who counts, not any money or position, only his personal merit; and the
Senator says if they are "yellow dogs" they sooner or later get wiped
out. It is a sort of survival of the fittest, and don't you think it is
a lovely plan, Mamma? And how I wish we had it in England. What heaps
could be cleared away and never be missed!

There was a Master of Ceremonies who called out the dances, and not more
than ten or twelve couples were allowed to dance each time, two-steps
and valses, and without exception it is the finest dancing I have ever
seen,--the very poetry of Motion. Nothing violent or rude, or like a
servants' ball at home, although they held their partners a little more
clasped than we do, and the woman's hands both on the man's shoulders,
and sometimes round his neck. (Tom says he means to introduce this style
at Chevenix the next ball they have. Think of the face of the County!)
But in spite of their funny holding, or perhaps on account of it, there
is a peculiar movement of the feet, perfect grace and rhythm and glide,
which I have never seen at a real ball. One could understand it was
a pure delight to them, and they felt every note of the music. They
treated Octavia and me with the courtesy fit for queens, and some
of them told us delightful things of shootings and blood-curdling
adventures, and all with a delicious twinkle in the eye, as much as to
say, "We are keeping up the character of the place to please you." We
did enjoy ourselves. The Senator says this quality of perfect respect
for women is universal in the mining camps. Any nice woman is absolutely
safe among them. I think there ought to be mining camps to teach men
manners all over Europe. You will feel I am exaggerating, Mamma, and
talking a great deal about this, but it is so marked and astonishing;
all have that perfect ease and poise of well born gentlemen (the Harry
manner, in fact) completely without self consciousness. I suppose they
get drunk sometimes, and probably there are riotous scenes here, but
I can only tell you of what we saw, and that was people happy, and
behaving as decorously as at a court ball.

Just before we left three or four really villainous looking men came in,
and instantly there seemed to be a stir of some sort; and Nelson and the
Senator stood very close to me, and while apparently doing nothing got
us near the door, and we all strolled out, and then they spoke rather
low to one another while they never let go of my arms. Awkward
customers, the Senator told us, and when these bad spirits were "around"
things often ended in a row. It was tiresome it did not happen, wasn't
it? Both Octavia and I felt we should have loved to see a really
exciting moment! To-morrow we go down the great Osages mine, which
belongs to Nelson and the Senator, and then to a dinner party in one of
the shacks, and the next day we start for the real wild, because this is
civilisation, and we are going to a quite young camp called Moonbeams,
miles across the desert. We shall have to leave the car, at the end of
the railway, and go in rough kinds of motors. It sounds too exciting,
and the Senator says there they can show us the real thing and we are
not to mind roughing it. We are so looking forward to it, and if you are
writing to Harry--but, no, do not mention me. By now he must have found
out Mrs. Smith has things which aren't attractive in a tent.

Tell Hurstbridge I will bring him a "gun," and Ermyntrude a papoose

Love from,

Your affectionate daughter,


_Still Osages City_.

DEAREST MAMMA,--I must write each day, because I have so much to say, if
I didn't I should get all behind.--I don't believe you would like going
into a mine a bit!

We seemed to drive through unspeakable dust to a banked-up, immense heap
of greyish green earth, with some board houses on it, and a tall shaft
sticking out; and in one of these houses we changed, or rather dressed
up in overcoats and caps, and were each given a dip candle. Then we went
to the lift. But it wasn't a nice place, with a velvet sofa, but just
about three boards joined together to stand on, with a piece of iron
going up the centre to a cross-bar overhead; no sides or top. And this
hung in what looked mid-air.

Mercedes and I got in first, with Nelson and the Vicomte beyond us, with
their arms tight round us, and our hands clinging to the cross-bar of
iron above. Then we began to descend into the bowels of the earth. It
felt too extraordinary: a slightly swaying motion, and not close to the
sides as even in the most primitive lift, seeing or rather feeling space
beyond. Nelson held me so tight I could hear his heart thumping like a
sledge hammer. It felt very agreeable, and I am sure I should have been
terribly frightened otherwise. Mercedes did not seem to mind, either,
and from what I know of Gaston, he wasn't making the least of the

Finally, about eight hundred feet down, we stopped, and got out on to
firm ground and waited for the others, who came in batches of four. The
air was pumped in, I suppose, from somewhere, because just here it was
cool, and not difficult to breathe. We had such fun, but Nelson was
rather pale and silent, I don't know why. When everyone was there we
started on our explorations, and seemed to walk miles in the weirdest
narrow passages, in single file, on a single board sometimes, each
carrying our light. We climbed ladders and had to cross narrow ledges on
the edge of the abysses, and it was altogether most interesting to learn
the different sounds the rock with ore in it made when hammered on, to
the earth rock. They broke off some with a pickaxe to give to each of
us. "High grade," he called, and even the scraps about as big as my two
hands which I have now, they say will produce about sixteen dollars'
worth of gold; so is not this wonderful riches, Mamma? What a great and
splendid country, and how puny and small seem the shallow little aims
of towns and cities, when here is this rich earth, waiting only to be
explored. There, in the strange light of the dip candles, and everyone
chaffing, Nelson and the Senator seemed to stand out like two giants,
and there was something aloof in their faces, and apart from the rest.
If one searched the world, Mamma, one could not find two nobler men.

At last we climbed into two great caverns out of which they had taken
the finest gold, nineteen thousand dollars to a ton of rock. The miners
(I am sure not the lovely courtly creatures we saw last night, but some
low other ones) stole so much that now they have to be searched as they
leave the mine. We hated to hear that. They could conceal about twenty
dollars' worth a day on themselves each, and so it got to be called
"high grading." Isn't that a nice word, and what heaps of "highgraders"
there are in different walks of life! Pilfering brains and ideas and
thoughts from other people!

They were blasting in the shaft below and the fumes came up and made us
all a little faint, so we decided to come to the earth's surface without
going down about two hundred feet lower, which we could have done.
In one long gallery we came upon a single miner working away in a
cul-de-sac, with, it seemed, absolutely no air. Think of the courage
and endurance it must take to continue this, day after day! I do admire
them. Then they have the knowledge that if they like to chance things
and go off with an "outfit"--two donkeys, which are called "burros"--
carrying their tools, they can prospect in the desert and peg out their
own claims, and all have the possibility of becoming millionaires. It is
a wonderful and rugged life.

Gaston must have said something definite to Mercedes in the dark for
they both looked conscious when we came into daylight; but we have not
heard anything yet. Octavia's friend is quite devoted to her, and Tom
is getting a little jealous; so good for him, he won't be so absolutely
casual in future, I hope. And if, Mamma, I had not an underneath feeling
of I don't know what about Harry and that Smith creature, I could be
awfully happy, as I find Nelson an attentive dear; but there it is, just
as I am beginning to feel frolicsome, a recollection rushes over me of
them together in Africa, and a sick sensation comes up, and I feel I
could play the devil if I had the chance--and I believe I would if it
were someone else; but Nelson seems too fine to trifle with. Heigh ho! I
now know that Harry is really rather like these miners, only he has not
got such good manners, but just the same absolutely fearless unconscious
assurance and nerve and pluck. I suppose that is why I love him so
much--I mean I did love him, Mamma, because, of course, I don't now; I
am quite indifferent, as you know.

On our way back to lunch we took a drive round the city. There is not
a blade of living thing rowing but the sage brush. It is a desolation
beyond description, and clouds of dust. But everything seems alive
and there is no gloom or depression. The hotel was full of bustle and
movement, and groups of men were talking together as if some news had
come in, and the Senator presently told us that there had been rather a
row at the dance hall after we left, and the four villainous looking men
we had seen had "done a bit of shootin,'" but no one was hurt much,
and they had left to-day for no one knows where. He says this class of
desperadoes are like a pestilence; whenever they descend trouble of
sorts brews, and the chief of them is a man called Curly Grainger--the
"lowest yellow dog out of hell."

In the afternoon we paid some calls on the ladies who had dined with
us, and you can't think what dear little homes they have, looking like
chicken houses outside, and inside cosey and comfortable; and they were
all so kind and hospitable and made us feel welcomed and honoured. And
these are real manners, Mamma--that politeness which comes from the

We were allowed to dress as in New York for our dinner party, given by
Octavia's friend at his shack, and to see the girls and Lola, and
indeed us all, looking like Paris fashion plates in dainty clothes and
feathered hats seemed so quaint; but when we got inside it was not out
of place.

Such a person of refinement he must be! The outside was made of boards
like the rest, but inside it had bookcases and comfortable chairs and
cosey sofas, and the nice look of a man's room who is no fool and reads
books and thinks thoughts. There were several more lovely creatures whom
we had not met before, altogether about eighteen the party was, and as
the dining-room only held ten, naturally the rest sat on boxes, and
the table was elongated with a packing case. But the fun we had! As
delightful as the evening with the Squirrels; each of these pets
out-doing the other in remarkable Western phrases and stories, and all
with that whimsical fine sense of humour that can see the fun even in
themselves. I wish I could remember the sentences, but they are too
difficult, only they had not to be translated or explained; they were
simply the most unusual English applied in that crisp exact fashion that
is an art in itself, meaning _exactly_ what is necessary to present an
idea. The whole entertainment was cooked for, and waited on by, a most
delightful coloured lady called Cassandra, who chewed gum and joined in
the conversation.

Fancy the consternation and horror of Mrs. Spleist or Mrs. Craik V.
Purdy, if either had been the hostess of such a party! They would have
apologised the whole time. It was all enchanting.

"Now, Mr. Johnson," Cassandra said (our host's name is Burke Johnson),
"why yo go for to put all de peas in dat great heap on yo plate? Didn't
I tell yo to be careful? Dey won't go 'round." And she looked like a
reproving mother to a greedy boy, showing her splendid teeth in a grin.
We were so amused. But when the subjects interested her she would pause
with a dish in the air and give her opinion in the friendliest way, not
the least impertinently, but as some fond, privileged Nanny might at a
children's party.

"Fact is, you spoil Mr. Johnson, Cassandra," Nelson said; "you feed him
too well and keep him too snug." Then she tossed her head, "Mr. Johnson
is my care, Mr. Nelson," she said; "you can talk 'bout that to some
other coloured lady," and her laugh rang out like a silver bell.

I cannot give you any idea, Mamma, of how perfectly delightful all these
people are.

After dinner we played a game of poker in the sitting-room, not for
high stakes, only just chaff and fun, and Tom made outrageous love to
Columbia, who answered him with the cleverest parries. American girls
are miles ahead of us in brilliant repartee. Then someone played the
piano and we all sang songs, and from the kitchen where Cassandra was
washing up the dishes, came the most melodious second in that sweet
perfect harmony which the negroes seem so well to understand.

Placed carelessly among some books on a table by the side of the piano
were two revolvers (I must call them "guns" here, because that is their
name) and I did such a silly thing without thinking, so unaccustomed are
we at home to realise anything could be loaded that was casually lying
about. I picked one up and examined the tracing on the barrel, never
noticing that it was pointing straight up at my head, until I felt
Nelson's iron grip upon my wrist, while he took it from my hand. His
face was white as death. "My God!" he said, "my God, quit touching
that!" Then he walked quickly to the door and opened it and looked out
on the night. There was no hall, the sitting-room is straight on the
street. He took a great deep breath and came back again, and then he
laughed, "Guess I'm a pretty fool," he said; "I've had them pointed
direct at me with the finger on the trigger, too, and never turned a
hair, but, by the Lord, to see your flower face close to that grim thing
makes me kind of sick." It moved me deeply, Mamma; I wonder why?

The whole company walked home with us, but I clung on to the Senator's
arm and let my other be held by the one with the roguish smile of the
night before; and Nelson seemed to be extraordinarily gay as he strode
beside Octavia, though when we said goodnight, just outside my room, his
eyes were full of mist.

I don't feel the least sleepy, and I am sitting here in the
rocking-chair thinking of all our trip, and the different impressions it
has made, and how deeply I admire and respect this wonderful people.
As soon as they have grown out of being touchy, and rounded off their
edges, they will have no equals on earth. This great vast country we
have come through seems like the great vast brains of the men from here
who are the real nation builders. The successful schemers and business
men are remarkable, too, but these are the ones who make for splendour
and glory and noble ideas. They are like strong pure air blowing away
migraines; and yet the business men also are to be respected; it
requires such indomitable pluck in either case, only this kind of
outdoor pluck makes male creatures turn more into the things which women

There was one point I did not remember to tell you about in its place,
and that was the rather pathetic spectacle the boys are, in numbers of
families in the East,--tied to their mothers' apron strings, treated
like girls and taken constantly to Europe with or without a tutor;
little, blase grandfathers driving motor cars and dressing in grown up
clothes. I longed to send them all to Eton and let them get flogged and
have to fag and be turned into children first, and then men. I asked the
fourteen year old Spleist boy to get me down a branch of blossom far up
on an apple tree, and for the world he wouldn't have rubbed his patent
leather boots, even if he had known how to hold on to reach so high. All
the children are old, more or less, and wearied with expensive toys and
every wish gratified. Only that they are more surrounded with servants
and governesses or go to school, numbers and numbers are like "Matilda"
on the ship. Out here there don't seem to be any children, or hardly
any, but those there are, I expect, are like everything else in the
West, free and growing. But there is one quality which seems exclusively
American, West or East, unbounded hospitality and kindly feeling, and
ever and always I shall think of them all as dear friends.

Perhaps I shall not be able to post a letter again for some days, Mamma,
but good-night now, and fond love from,

Your affectionate daughter,





DEAREST MAMMA,--When you hear of all I have to tell you you will wonder
I can write so quietly. But I will make myself, and keep everything in
its place, so that you get a clear picture.

We started early yesterday morning in the private car, for a junction,
or terminus (I am not sure which) called Hot Creek,--everyone in the
best of spirits after a send off from all our friends. Marcus Aurelius's
face to welcome us on board was enough to rejuvenate anyone, simply
a full moon of black and white smiles, and I am sure he is the first
person Merecdes has confided her love affair to, for he seems to watch
over her and Gaston like a deus ex machina.

Nelson and I sat out on the observation veranda again, and he told me
many things of all this land, and how often the poor adventurers coming
out West will climb on to the irons under the trains, and then cling for
countless miles, chancing hideous death to be carried along; and how,
sometimes, they will get lost and die of starvation. And just then, in
the grimmest country of absolutely arid desert valley, between highish
barren hills, we saw a beautiful lake of blue water with green trees
reflected in it, and when I looked at Nelson his eyes were sad. Nothing
could have seemed more cool or refreshing; it made one long to jump
out of the train and go and bathe, for now, though still early in the
spring, it is getting very hot. "It is nothing but a mirage," Nelson
said. "There is no water there and no trees. It comes and goes in this
part of the desert according to the state of the atmosphere, and it has
been the cause of many a poor fellow's end." How treacherous, Mamma! How
cruel of Nature to treat her children so! And then he put his head back
and pulled his hat over his eyes.

"A mirage," he said, like one dreaming. "Guess it's often like
life." And then he told me of the curious effect it had had upon his
imagination the first time he had seen it, when alone with his burros,
prospecting; how it seemed to say to him to make a reality of green
and prosperity out of the parched world, and how his thoughts always
returned there when he had successes, and he dreamed of a day when he
should rest a little by just such a lake. "To rest my soul," he said,
"if I have any; to rest it with someone I should love."

And, as once before, the Senator broke in upon us with his cheery,
charming voice, "Guess you two are talking like high-flown poet coons,"
he said, "and there is breakfast to be thought of, and happy things like
that." And then as Nelson went in front he stepped back and put his kind
hand under my chin, and raised it and looked straight into my eyes.

"Little daughter," he said, "little friend, p'raps your heart's aching
for someone over the sea, but don't make his heart ache, too, now.
Promise me." And of course I won't, Mamma, and of course I promised.
Isn't it a queer world? And all mirage, as Nelson said. Well, now let us
get on and laugh and be gay. An eleven o'clock breakfast was our usual
fun; you can't imagine such a well arranged party, never a jar or
disagreement, like, I am sure, we should be having if there were
Englishwomen. In a flock Americans are infinitely more agreeable to deal
with. I expect it is in the blood, having had to spend such quantities
of time, all women together, while the men are away.

The moment we finished our food we drew up at our destination, and in
this wilderness there was a telegraph station and a few shanties, but it
could all be lit by electric light! The most strong, paintless, hardy
looking automobiles were awaiting us, into which we climbed, a
very close pack. The maids and valets had all been left behind at
Osages--think of asking Agnes to really rough it, even if there had been
room! So we had all to attend to the luggage, and were only allowed a
teeny hand bag each, with a nighty and comb and brush in it. Our hair
and faces were already grey with dust, and all sense of appearance had
been forgotten.

I sat between Lola and Nelson, with the little Vinerhorn and the
secretary in front of us, while the Senator was next our chauffeur, whom
they addressed as "Bob"--a friend, not an employe. The rest of the party
squashed into the other motors and so we started, ours leading over a
track, not a road; the sage brush had been removed, that was all, and
there were deep ruts to guide us. We flew along with a brilliant blue
sky overhead, high hills which presently grew mountainous on either
side, and what seemed an endless sea of greenish drab scrub before. Once
or twice we passed tired, weary-looking men plodding on foot, and I did
wish we could have picked them up and helped them along; but there was
not an inch of room. The ruts were so extremely deep that I certainly
should have been pitched out but that Nelson held me tight. Mr.
Vinerhorn frowned so when he held Lola, too, that he was obliged to
leave her alone, and I am sure she must have had a most uncomfortable
journey. I suppose this little Randolph has picked up that selfish
jealous trait in England with his clothes, only thinking of _his_
emotions, not his wife's comfort, quite unlike kind Americans. After
about an hour we began to go up the steepest hills on the winding track,
and got among pine trees and great boulders, up and up until the air
grew quite chill; and then as we turned a sharp corner the most unique
scene met our view. I told you before I can't describe scenery, Mamma,
but I must try this, because it was so wonderful, and reminded me of the
pictures in Paradise Lost illustrated by Dore, when the Devil looks down
on that weird world.

A grey-sand, flat place far below us, about fifty miles across,
surrounded by mountains turning blue in their shadows in the afternoon
light--it might have been a supremely vast Circus Maximus or giants'
race course, and there was the giant towering above the rest, with a
snow cap on his head, peeping from between the lower mountains. It
seemed it could not be possible we could descend to there, but we did,
the track getting more primitive as we went on, and once on the edge of
a precipice we met a waggon and team of eight mules driven by a Mexican
with a cracking whip, and getting past might have tried your nerves, but
no one notices such things in a country of this sort!

Every atom of food for Moonbeams has to be drawn over this ninety miles
of desert by waggons or mule carts, and every drop of water comes in six
miles from the camp. What splendid pluck and daring to wrest gold from
the earth under such circumstances! What general would fight an enemy so
far from his food supply?

We seemed to be no time being raced and shaken over the flat sand basin,
meeting and passing more teams on the way, and twice a petrol and drink
station of one board shed, and a man with a jolly Irish face and a gun
openly in his belt, to attend to it. We had no breakdowns, and just at
sunset got into the one and only street of Moonbeams. But there were no
stone houses or anything but sheds of one storey, generally, and more
often rows of tents. The Moonbeams is not three months old! So quickly
do these places grow when a rush for newly discovered rich gold is made.
We had passed quantities of "claims" on the way; piles of stones like
little cairns marking their four corners; and I wonder if in five
hundred years the socialists of that day will scream and try to
demonstrate that the descendants of those brave adventurers have no
right to their bit of land, but should give it up to them, who only talk
and fume and do no work upon it.

Everyone was in from the mines, which are all close, shafts sticking
up from every hill and heaps of broken rock and earth rising like mole
hills. The straggling street was full of men, and I should not think
in the world there can be a collection of more splendid looking
humanity--all young and strong and wholesome. The Senator says life is
so impossibly difficult here that only those in the best of health can
stand it, and to face such chances requires the buoyancy and hope of
youth. Whatever the cause they were all lovely creatures, just like our
guardsmen, numbers tall and slender and thin through, and many of them
might have been the Eton eleven or Oxford eight, and all with the
insouciance and careless grace I have already told you of.

You know what I mean by "thin through," Mamma: that lovely look of
narrow hips and slender waist and fine shoulders, not padded and not
too square, and looked at sideways not a bit thick; the chest, not the
tummy, the most sticking out part, and the general expression of race
horses. You would have to melt off layers of hips and other bits of most
of the Eastern American, and then alter the set of their bones to get
them to resemble any of these. And yet I suppose they are all Americans,
too, drifted here from other States; but they look so absolutely
different; I expect they are not the conglomeration of all nations who
have emigrated, like in New York, but the original pure stock. Or can it
be the life after all? In any case it is too attractive, and I wish you
could see them, Mamma?

They welcomed the Senator and his party as friends, and as we went at
walking pace they conducted us to the hotel. And it was a hotel!!! Think
of one long, long board barn of two storeys high, not finished quite,
being built, with kind of little rabbit hole rooms off each side of a
long passage on both floors, in some the boards not meeting, so that you
can see into the next person's apartment, or into the open air as the
case may be, and in all, if a knot is out of the wood, a peep hole! The
flimsiest door not fitting, with the number of each room printed on a
bit of paper and fastened on with a tack; furniture consisting of a
rickety iron bed, a box that has been a packing case for a table,
another for a washstand, a rough single chair, sometimes a rocking
chair, and all crowned by a looking-glass that makes half your nose in
one part of your face, and one eye up in your forehead--too deliciously
comic. It was all very clean, except the bed clothes, but we won't speak
of them; their recollection shivers me.

Octavia and Tom had one room at the very end, and the rest of our
party had to scatter where we could, as numbers were taken, and it was
difficult to get even enough to go round. Mine was a very grand one,
because it had newspapers pasted on the boards partition, but it was
very deceptive, because one could not at once discern the knots and
cracks, and anyone might surprise one by poking a finger through in
unexpected places. Gaston had the next on my right, and Mercedes and
Columbia the one beyond him, and I did wonder, under the circumstances,
which of us he would peep at. I felt it would be me, because Mercedes
and Columbia being jeune filles, and he being a Frenchman, they would be
sacred. Nelson and the Senator together had a rather larger one on my
left, and that side my newspapers were torn, but I felt no apprehension.
The chivalry of American men is temptation proof.

Downstairs there was a bar and gambling saloon in one, with a sort of
hall place, a few feet square, but no dining room or any place for food.
It was merely a shelter from outside air. One had to trot along the
street to another shed called a restaurant, for meals.

How we laughed and the fun we had over it all! Nothing has delighted us
so much. Only Randolph Vinerhorn doesn't like it, but he is afraid to
say it before the Senator, though I heard him grumbling from across the
passage to Lola because he has not got his valet to shave him! Tom, of
course, is just as happy as we are. How I _love_ an adventure, Mamma!
Did you ever? And if you could see Tom in his flannel shirt and his
shabbiest old grey suit, and a felt slouch hat, you could not tell him
from one of these lovely miners. Octavia says she is getting in love
with him again on account of it. Her one unfortunately had to stay in
Osages, but the one with the beautiful teeth has come in his place.

We couldn't wash or brush up much because we had only each either a
cracked pudding dish or an old cake tin to wash in, but we did our best
and started off for our dinner. Three of the most prominent young mine
owners had invited us to a feast, and when we got to the tent in which
it was held we found that was the chief restaurant, and lots of miners
were already there at different tables.

Ours was a long one in the middle and much grander than the rest,
because it had a bit of marbled white oil cloth on it for a cloth. The
dears all the people were, and the kind generous spirit to ask us to a
feast when food was so scarce and expensive! And fancy, Mamma, in the
middle was a bouquet of yellow daisies, and they were worth their weight
in gold--yellow daisies brought over ninety miles of desert, and how
many hundred miles of train!

None of the people at the other tables took the slightest notice of our
party; beyond a friendly greeting to those they knew, they did not even
glance our way; think of the beautiful manners, and the difference, too,
if these had been rough men of any other country in an eating house. I
tell you these Westerners are a thing apart for courtesy and respect to
women--a lesson to all the world; and the food was not at all awful, and
we had the best of champagne! while the tent was lit by electric light,
and had a board floor and benches for seats. We were so gay at dinner,
and while we were finishing, news came, I do not know how, that the
desperado, Curly Grainger, and his comrades, were in the camp. The man
next me told me, and I never thought to tell Nelson, who was at my other
side, which was foolish, as events proved.

After it, when they had made some speeches to bid us all welcome, we
went out to see the sights--principally a private gambling saloon where
they were playing extremely high, about seven men intent on poker, some
with green shades over their eyes of talc, which gave the strangest
livid glow on their faces, and made them look like dead men. After each
round a felt-slippered bar-tender would slip in and give them all drinks
in small glasses--rum and milk and different things--and I am sure one
of the desperadoes was playing, his villainous face was in such contrast
to the others.

Their revolvers were all up on a shelf, because, as the proprietor told
us, "They so often got to shootin' one another when they played as high
as that," he found it "more conducive to a peaceable evenin' if their
guns were handed out before they began!" How such things must add to the
excitement of a game, Mamma!

The lowest stake was one thousand dollars and some had twenty-five
thousand dollars in front of them. There was a queer intent ominous
hush, and we watched in silence for a while, and then went to a most
quaint sort of theatrical entertainment--songs and dances going on, the
most primitive stage at one end, while a bar and drinks were at the
other. We only stayed about five minutes, because it did not seem
quite the place for girls, although everyone treated us with the most
scrupulous respect, instantly hushing their jokes as we approached,
and making way for us like courtiers for foreign royalties in a
drawing-room. And when we got out in the street there appeared to be
some excitement in the air. Hundreds of men were loitering about or
talking in groups, and the Senator, much to our disappointment, made us
go back to the hotel. It was only about half past nine o'clock, and we
thought to go to bed an extremely dull proceeding. But we did not like
to question or argue, and obediently went upstairs. And when the Senator
and Nelson saw us safely in our rooms, with the secretary and Mr.
Vinerhorn left to be a sort of guard to us, they all went out again to
show Tom more sights.

Everything was perfectly quiet; the hotel is against the mountain and
rather away from the main and only regular street.

Then, left to ourselves we felt just like naughty children, obliged to
get into some mischief, and when Mercedes suggested we should change all
the numbers on the doors, it seemed a nice outlet for us! Octavia had
gone to her room, or, she says, she would not have let us, and Lola and
her Randolph had retired, too, while the secretary had gone down to the
bar, so there was no one to prevent us. It was, of course, very naughty
of us, Mamma, and I dare say we deserved all that followed, but it was a
funny idea, wasn't it? The only ones we did not change were our own two;
everyone else's in the hotel, and there were about thirty-six rooms
altogether, we mixed all up and then we scampered in to bed!

There were only little oil lamps here, the electric lights not having
been fixed yet, and when I piled all the bed clothes on the floor and
rolled myself up in the quilt, I was off to sleep in a minute.

It did not seem very long afterwards when drunken footsteps came up the
passage and woke me up, and then a fumbling at the Senator's door and
frightful swearing because the key would not fit. The creature, whoever
it was, was perfectly furious, and one could hear him muttering "29, yes
it's 29," and then fearful oaths, and at last, with a shove, he wrenched
down the crazy door and got into the room and I suppose was too sleepy
or drunk to notice it was not his own, and retired to the Senator's bed!
Because I could hear him snoring next me through the cracked partition.

A little while after, in the still of night air, there was a distant
murmur of voices, and then some shots rang out. It was a grim, sinister
sound, and in about ten minutes running feet were heard, and two or
three men came up the passage. They banged at Lola's door; hers had been
24 and was now 201. They cursed and swore and demanded to come in, and
at last a voice said, "I'm Curly Grainger," and then some terrible
oaths. "Open this minute, Jim; we've done for two of 'em, but they've
got Bill, and you must come and bail him out."

No answer, of course, as Lola was crouching terrified in bed, Randolph
just as frightened, I suppose, while even through the Vicomte's room I
could hear Columbia and Mercedes giggle, and I, too, for a minute felt
inclined to laugh, it seemed too dramatic to be real. But the voices got
menacing and then the excitement began! With the most dreadful language
they just kicked down the door, intending to pull "Jim" out of bed, I
suppose, and when they saw it was one of the strangers' rooms, I suppose
the idea came to them they might do a little robbery as well.

Suddenly there was a rush of feet and more men came up the stairs. I got
out of bed, wondering what would be best to do, when I heard Lola shriek
and a shot in the passage. So I felt I must go to her help and opened
the door, and such a scene, Mamma! There were seven of the most awful
looking men you ever saw, the ones who, I told you, had come into the
dance hall at Osages. Among them Lola and Randolph in night clothes,
were already lined up against the wall, with their hands above their
heads. While one brute stood at the end of the passage pointing his gun
at them, one of the others was rifling their room, others had kicked
down the girls' door and one was at the end by Octavia's. None of the
other people, miners of sorts, except one man's wife, had come in yet,
as it was not more than half past ten o'clock! She was soon pulled out,
too, and one brute seized me and roughly threw my hands up while he held
a gun to my head. I did feel very frightened, Mamma, but it was all
so terribly exciting, it was quite worth while. I wish I had had a
revolver. I would have used it in a minute. As it was I just watched
from under the brute's arm. Every door was broken down then, and as
noiselessly as they could they ransacked each room. If we had attempted
to scream they would have shot us dead. The girls were speechless with
terror, only Octavia looked a contemptuous tragedy queen in her white
nighty, and the miner's wife had a face of petrified rage; she wasn't
a bit frightened, either. Then up the stairs ran the secretary and the
proprietor's wife, a kind amusing old woman. She had evidently seen this
sort of hold up before (it is called a "hold up," Mamma), for she called
out: "Don't be afraid, ladies, dears, they won't hurt you if you don't
yell"; and then she bolted down the stairs again like a rabbit to get
help, while my brute turned his attention from me for a minute to fire
after her. She had got past the turn of the stairs, but he caught the
secretary in the ankle, and he fell with a groan on the floor.

It was an unpleasant situation, wasn't it, Mamma, six women in
nightgowns with their hands above their heads, Randolph an object of
misery with his pink silk pyjamas torn, and the secretary lying in a
pool of blood, unconscious, by the stairs, while two wretches covered
the whole party with their revolvers!

It seemed an eternity before the men had finished ransacking the rooms,
swearing terribly at finding so little there; and then they came out and
made for the door at the end, which had an outside staircase leading
on to the mountain. At last a noise of voices like distant thunder was
heard getting nearer and nearer, and before they could kick that door
down and escape, Nelson and Tom dashed up the stairs, their revolvers in
their hands; and the last coherent thing I remember was seeing Nelson
take instant aim and shoot the man who was holding the gun to my head as
he had his finger on the trigger to shoot me; and if Nelson had given
him a second more to aim he would have blown my brains out; but being so
quick, Nelson's bullet must have reached him as he fired at me, for his
shot went off through the roof. As the brute fell, there seemed to be a
general scrimmage, but the rest got off through the end door, which they
at last broke down, just as the Senator and the Vicomte and the other
miners came up the stairs. Wasn't it thrilling, Mamma? I would not have
missed it for worlds, now it is over.

I suppose the bullet which killed my assailant grazed a scrap of my
shoulder, or perhaps it was his gun going off did it, anyway I felt it
wet. The next instant I was in Nelson's arms, being carried into my
room. His face was again like death, and he bent over me.

"My God, have I hurt you?" he said in an agonised voice. "My darling, my
lady, my love----" But I don't feel as if I ought to tell you the rest
of his words, Mamma. They burst from him in the anguish of his heart,
and he is the dearest, noblest gentleman, and I feel honoured and
exalted by his love.

I reassured him as well as I could. I told him I was not really hurt at
all, only a little grazed, and I helped him to soak up the blood with my
handkerchief, and then for a few minutes I felt faint and can't remember
any more.

I don't suppose I could have been stupid for more than five minutes,
but when I came to, Octavia was there with a quilt pinned over her
nightgown, and she and the Senator were bathing my shoulder, and even
that little cut hurt rather and I fear will leave a deep scar.

The poor secretary had his ankle broken, but otherwise was unhurt, and
nobody minded at all about the man Nelson had killed. They only wished
he had exterminated more of them. And Tom and the Vicomte are having the
time of their lives, for as soon as dawn broke they joined the Sheriff
with a posse, aided by the state police in pursuit of the escaped
desperadoes, and as the _Moonbeams Chronicle_ prints it today, "A
general round up of bad men is in progress."

Fancy us having the luck to come in for all this, Mamma, and to see
the real thing! The Senator had only been joking, he said, when he had
promised us that, as all this sort of excitement is a thing of the past
in camps, which are generally perfectly orderly now; and he thought by
making us go to bed he was causing us to avoid seeing even a little
quarrelling in the streets.

None of the dear real miners would have touched us, and by some strange
chance not one of the men of our party had heard that the famous
desperadoes were arrived in the town. They will all be lynched if they
are caught, of course, so I can't help rather hoping they will get away.
Perhaps it would be a lesson to them, and I hate to think of any more
people being killed. But, of course, if Nelson had not had the nerve to
fire, just like William Tell, the man would have blown my brains out,
and as you know, Mamma, I have always despised mawkish sentiment, and I
would rather he was dead than me, so I shan't let myself think a thing
more about it, only to be deeply and profoundly grateful to Nelson for
saving my life.

We are going back to Osages this afternoon, and now I must stop, dearest

Your affectionate daughter,



_On the private car again._

DEAREST MAMMA,--I am writing again today because I thought that perhaps
my yesterday's letter might have worried you, and there is nothing in
the least to mind about. My shoulder will soon heal, and I shall always
feel proud of the scar. It is plastered up and does not hurt much, so
don't be the smallest degree anxious. The hotel proprietor and some
handy miners who could do carpentering came up while we were away at
breakfast, and mended the doors, and everyone laughed and pretended
nothing had happened; only Nelson had rather a set face, and after
breakfast we climbed up on the steep mountain behind the hotel and
watched the world. He never spoke, only helped me over the rough places,
until we got high up above the last tent, and there we sat on a crag and
looked down at the camp. And I think he is the finest character of a
man I have ever known. It is only to you, Mamma, I would tell all this,
because you will understand.

It was so hot he had no coat on, only his flannel shirt, and his
trousers tucked into his long boots, and the grim gun stuck in his belt.
He looked extremely attractive with that felt hat slouched over his
eyes. He seemed to be gazing into distance as if alone, and then, after
a while, he turned and looked at me, and his eyes were full of pain like
a tortured animal, and I felt a wrench at my heart. Then he clasped his
hands tight together as though he were afraid he should take mine, and
he said the dearest things a man could say to a woman--how the stress of
the situation last night had forced from him an avowal of his love
for me. "I never meant to tell you, my sweet lady," he said. "I am no
weakling, I hope, to go snivelling over what is not for me; and when I
comprehended you were married, on the Lusitania, I just faced up the
situation and vowed I'd be a strong man."

Then he paused a moment as if his throat were dry: "No one can control
his emotion of love for a woman," he went on; "the sentiment he feels,
I mean, but the strong man controls the demonstration." He looked
away again, and his face was set like bronze. "I love you better than
anything on God's earth," he said, "and I want to tell you all the
truth, so that you won't feel you can't trust me, or when, if ever I
should chance to meet your husband, I can't look him straight in the
face. I love you, but I never mean to bother you or do anything in the
world but be your best friend." "Indeed, indeed, yes," I said, and I
told him how dreadfully sorry I was if I had hurt him, and how noble and
brave he seemed to me.

"You are my star," he said, "and I am going to crush this pain out of my
heart, and make it just a glad thing that I've known you, and something
to remember always; so don't you feel sorry, my lady, dear. It was not
your fault. It was nobody's fault--just fate. And we out in this desert
country learn to size up a situation and face it out. But I don't want
you to go away from this happy party of ours with an ache in your tender
heart, thinking I am a weakling and going to cry by myself in a corner;
I am not. Nothing's going to be changed, and you can count till death on
Nelson Renour."

I don't know what I said, Mamma, I was so profoundly touched. What a
noble gentleman; how miles and miles above the puny Europeans, setting
snares for every married woman's heart, if she is anything which
attracts them. Suddenly all the men I know seemed to turn into little
paltry dolls, and Harry with his dear blue eyes flashing at me seemed to
be the only reality, except this splendid Western hero; and a great
lump came in my throat, and I could not speak. Then he took my hand and
kissed it. "We're through with all our sad talk, my Lady Elizabeth," he
said, the kindest smile in his faithful eyes, "and now I am going to
show you I can keep my word, and not be a bleating lambkin."

We came down the mountain after that, and he told me just interesting
things about the camp, and the life, and the wonderful quantities of
gold there. And when we got into the restaurant tent where we were to
meet the others for lunch, Tom and the Vicomte and the rest had returned
after a fruitless search for desperadoes, and underneath I am glad they
have got away after all.

The journey back to Hot Creek was too divinely beautiful, in spite of
two broken tyres which delayed us. The view this way is indescribably
grand and vast--the sunset a pale magenta turning into crimson, and the
sky a blue turning to green, the desert grey, and the mountains beyond
deepest violet turning to sapphire and peacock blue. Does not it sound
as if I were romancing, Mamma! But it was really so, and luminous and
clear, so that we could see perhaps a hundred miles, all a vast sea of
sage brush. The Senator sat by me this time, and Octavia, while Nelson
went in front with the chauffeur, and the Senator held my arm and kept
my sore shoulder from getting shaken; and he seemed such a comfort and
so strong, and he asked us if we had enjoyed our trip in spite of the
catastrophe last night, and we both said we had, and all the more on
account of it, because it was lovely seeing the real thing. And he said
it was a chance in a thousand, as all the camps were so orderly now,
not as in Bret Harte, or as it was in his young days. And he said both
Octavia and I would make splendid miners' wives not to be squeamish or
silly over the "carrion" that was shot, and not to have trembling nerves
today. We felt so pleased, and only that underneath I can't help being
sad about Nelson, we should all have been very gay. It was about nine
o'clock when we reached the car and Marcus Aurelius's welcoming smiles,
and an appetising supper. And now I am writing to you to post where we
stop in the morning. We only stay one day in Osages and then go on our
way to the tarpons at last, and the joys of Mexico. It has been all more
than delightful, and I do hope the Americans like us as much as we like
them; from East to here we have received nothing but exquisite courtesy
and kindness, and I can never tell you what a grand and open and
splendid nation they are, Mamma, or how little understood in Europe. All
their faults are the faults of youth, as I said before; and everyone
will admit youth is a gift of the gods.

Now, good-night, dearest Mamma.

Fond love to all,

From your affectionate daughter,



P.S.--The Senator's mail caught us up at the only station we passed, and
in the packets of letters for everyone was another from Jane Roose for
me saying more odious insinuations about Mrs. Smith and Harry. I feel
perfectly sick, Mamma, and I shan't be good any more. I will never speak
to him again, and shall just divorce him, become a naturalized American
and marry some lovely millionaire.

_Osages again_.

DEAREST MAMMA,--I am so fearfully excited I can hardly write. Listen! We
got back here late in the afternoon, as we stopped at a place by the way
where the Senator had business, and while I was up in my room dressing
for dinner, in the worst temper I ever remember, still feeling so
furious over Jane Roose's words, a noise of quick footsteps was heard in
the passage, and without even a knock someone tried the door, which was
naturally locked. Agnes in fear and trembling went to it, as from the
tale of the night at Moonbeams, she thought, I suppose, it was another
desperado. I was too cross to look round until I heard her scream:
"Milor!" and then I saw a vision of Harry in the door way!!! In a grey
flannel suit and a slouchy felt hat, looking just like a lovely miner.

Nothing in my life has ever given me such an emotion, Mamma. And do you
know I forgot all about injured pride, or Mrs. Smith or anything, and
rushed into his arms. We were both perfectly incoherent with passionate
joy, and just think! There was not a word of truth in it all! That
creature never was on the ship, and Harry only landed in Africa and got
a cable from you saying I had started for America and he caught
another steamer that was sailing that night, and gave up his lions and
everything, and just flew after me, and when in New York he heard we had
gone out West and Gaston was one of the party, he nearly went mad with
rage, and as I told you before he would, he came out here with the
intention of at least beating me and shooting the Vicomte. But when we
had had hundreds of kisses, and I could stay quietly in his arms, we
explained everything, and we have both said we are sorry, and I love him
a thousand times more than ever, and he says he will never let me out
of his sight again for the rest of our lives. And we are crazily happy,
Mamma, and I can't write any more, only we are not going on to Mexico,
but straight home to Valmond; and please bring Hurstbridge and
Ermyntrude to meet us at Liverpool when the Lusitania gets in.

Your affectionate daughter,


P.S.--I quite understand Aunt Maria liking a second honeymoon--even
after fifty years!

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