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adoration, - I know not; but her very frankness suggested a perfect sexual equality that was cruelly humiliating to the younger members of our party.
The incident of the bear did not add anything in Miggles's favor to the opinions of those of her own sex who were present. In fact, the repast over, a chillness radiated from the two lady passengers that no pineboughs brought in by Yuba Bill and cast as a sacrifice upon the hearth could wholly overcome. Miggles felt it; and suddenly declaring that it was time to “turn in," offered to show the ladies to their bed in an adjoining room. “You, boys, will have to camp out here by the fire as well as you can,” she added, “ for thar ain't but the one room."
Our sex — by which, my dear sir, I allude of course to the stronger portion of humanity — has been generally relieved from the imputation of curiosity, or a fondness for gossip. Yet I am constrained to say that hardly had the door closed on Miggles than we crowded together, whispering, snickering, smiling, and exchanging suspicions, surmises, and a thousand speculations in regard to our pretty hostess and her singular com
panion. I fear that we even hustled that imbecile paralytic, who sat like a voiceless Memnon in our midst, gazing with the serene indifference of the Past in his passionless eyes upon our wordy counsels. In the midst of an exciting discussion the door opened again and Miggles reëntered.
But not, apparently, the same Miggles who a few hours before had flashed upon us. Her eyes were downcast, and as she hesitated for a moment on the threshold, with a blanket on her arm, she seemed to have left behind her the frank fearlessness which had charmed us a moment before. Coming into the room, she drew a low stool beside the paralytic's chair, sat down, drew the blanket over her shoulders, and saying, “ If it's all the same to you, boys, as we're rather crowded, I'll stop here to-night,” took the invalid's withered hand in her own, and turned her eyes upon the dying fire. An instinctive feeling that this was only premonitory to more confidential relations, and perhaps some shame at our previous curiosity, kept us silent. The rain still beat upon the roof, wandering gusts of wind stirred the embers into momentary brightness, until, in a lull of the elements, Miggles suddenly
lifted up her head, and, throwing her hair
that knows me?” There was no reply.
“ Think again! I lived at Marysville in '53. Everybody knew me there, and everybody had the right to know me. I kept the Polka Saloon until I came to live with Jim. That's six years ago. Perhaps I've changed some.”
The absence of recognition may have disconcerted her. She turned her head to the fire again, and it was some seconds before she again spoke, and then more rapidly
Well, you see I thought some of you must have known me. There's no great harm done, any way. What I was going to say was this: Jim here" she took his hand in both of hers as she spoke — “ used to know me, if you did n't, and spent a heap of money upon me. I reckon he spent all he had. And one day - it's six years ago this winter - Jim came into
room, sat down on my sofy, like as you see him in that chair, and never moved again without help. He was struck all of a heap, and never seemed to know what ailed him. The
doctors came and said as how it was caused all along of his way of life, — for Jim was mighty free and wild like, - and that he would never get better, and could n't last long any way. They advised me to send him to Frisco to the hospital, for he was no good to any one and would be a baby all his life. Perhaps it was something in Jim's eye, perhaps it was that I never had a baby, but I said No. I was rich then, for I was popular with everybody, - gentlemen like yourself, sir, came to see me, and I sold out my business and bought this yer place, because it was sort of out of the
of travel, you see, and I brought my baby here."
With a woman's intuitive tact and poetry, she had, as she spoke, slowly shifted her position so as to bring the mute figure of the ruined man between her and her audience, hiding in the shadow behind it, as if she offered it as a tacit apology for her actions. Silent and expressionless, it yet spoke for her; helpless, crushed, and smitten with the Divine thunderbolt, it still stretched an invisible arm around her.
Hidden in the darkness, but still holding his hand, she went on:
“ It was a long time before I could get
the hang of things about yer, for I was used to company and excitement. I could n't get any woman to help me, and a man I dursn't trust; but what with the Indians hereabout, who 'd do odd jobs for me, and having everything sent from the North Fork, Jim and I managed to worry through. The Doctor would run up from Sacramento once in a while. He'd ask to see · Miggles's baby,' as he called Jim, and when he'd go away he'd say, Miggles, you ’re a trump, — God bless you !' and it did n't seem lonely after that. But the last time he was here he said, as he opened the door to go, • Do you know, Miggles, your baby will grow up to be a man yet and an honor to his mother; but not here, Miggles, not here!' And I thought he went away sad, — and — and ” — and here Miggles's voice and head were somehow both lost completely in the shadow.
“ The folks about here are very kind,” said Miggles, after a pause, coming a little into the light again. “ The men from the fork used to hang around here, until they found they was n't wanted, and the women are kind, — and don't call. I was pretty lonely until I picked up Joaquin in the woods