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Strange to say, the child thrived. Perhaps the invigorating climate of the mountain camp was compensation for material deficiencies. Nature took the foundling to her broader breast. In that rare atmosphere of the Sierra foot-hills, — that air pungent with balsamic odor, that ethereal cordial at once bracing and exhilarating, — he may have found food and nourishment, or a subtle chemistry that transmuted ass's milk to lime and phosphorus. Stumpy inclined to the belief that it was the latter and good nursing. “Me and that ass," he would say,
" has been father and mother to him! Don't you,” he would add, apostrophizing the helpless bundle before him, “never go back on us.”
By the time he was a month old the necessity of giving him a name became apparent. He had generally been known as “ The Kid,” “Stumpy's Boy,” “The Coyote” (an allusion to his vocal powers), and even by Kentuck’s endearing diminutive of “The d-d little cuss.” But these were felt to be
vague and unsatisfactory, and were at last dismissed under another influence. Gamblers and adventurers are generally superstitious, and Oakhurst one day declared that the baby had brought "the luck” to Roaring Camp.
It was certain that of late they had been successful. “Luck” was the name agreed upon, with the prefix of Tommy for greater convenience. No allusion was made to the mother, and the father was unknown. “It's better,” said the philosophical Oakhurst,“ to take a fresh deal all round. Call him Luck, and start him fair.” A day was accordingly set apart for the christening. What was meant by this ceremony the reader may imagine, who has already gathered some idea of the reckless irreverence of Roaring Camp. The master of ceremonies was one “ Boston," a noted wag, and the occasion seemed to promise the greatest facetiousness. This ingenious satirist had spent two days in preparing a burlesque of the Church service, with pointed local allusions. The choir was properly trained, and Sandy Tipton was to stand godfather. But after the procession had marched to the grove with music and banners, and the child had been deposited before a mock altar, Stumpy stepped before the expectant crowd.
“It ain't my style to spoil fun, boys,” said the little man, stoutly eying the faces around him, “but it strikes me that this thing ain't exactly on the squar. It 's playing it pretty low down on this yer
baby to ring in fun on him that he ain't goin' to understand. And ef there's going to be any godfathers round, I'd like to see who's got any better rights than me.” A silence followed Stumpy's speech. To the credit of all humorists be it said that the first man to acknowledge its justice was the satirist, thus stopped of his fun. “But," said Stumpy, quickly following up his advantage,
’re here for a christening, and we'll have it. I proclaim you Thomas Luck, according to the laws of the United States and the State of California, so help me God.” It was the first time that the name of the Deity had been otherwise uttered than profanely in the camp. The form of christening was perhaps even more ludicrous than the satirist had conceived; but, strangely enough, nobody saw it and nobody laughed. “Tommy” was christened as seriously as he would have been under a Christian roof, and cried and was comforted in as orthodox fashion.
And so the work of regeneration began in Roaring Camp. Almost imperceptibly a change came over the settlement. The cabin assigned to “Tommy Luck" - or “The Luck," as he was more frequently called — first showed signs of improvement. It was
kept scrupulously clean and whitewashed. Then it was boarded, clothed, and papered. The rosewood cradle - packed eighty miles by mule — had, in Stumpy's way of putting it, “ sorter killed the rest of the furniture.” So the rehabilitation of the cabin became a necessity. The men who were in the habit of lounging in at Stumpy's to see “how “The Luck' got on" seemed to appreciate the change, and, in self-defence, the rival establishment of “Tuttle's grocery” bestirred itself, and imported a carpet and mirrors. The reflections of the latter on the appearance of Roaring Camp tended to produce stricter habits of personal cleanliness. Again, Stumpy imposed a kind of quarantine upon those who aspired to the honor and privilege of holding The Luck. It was a cruel mortification to Kentuck --- who, in the carelessness of a large nature and the habits of frontier life, had begun to regard all garments as a second cuticle, which, like a snake's, only sloughed off through decay — to be debarred this privilege from certain prudential reasons. Yet such was the subtle influence of innovation, that he thereafter appeared regularly every afternoon in a clean shirt, and face still shining from his
ablutions. Nor were moral and social sanitary laws neglected. “Tommy," who was supposed to spend his whole existence in a persistent attempt to repose, must not be disturbed by noise. The shouting and yelling which had gained the camp its infelicitous title were not permitted within hearing dis tance of Stumpy's. The men conversed in whispers, or smoked with Indian gravity. Profanity was tacitly given up in these sacred precincts, and throughout the camp a popular form of expletive, known as “D-n the luck!” and “ Curse the luck!” was abandoned, as having a new personal bearing. Vocal music was not interdicted, being supposed to have a soothing, tranquillizing quality, and one song, sung by “Man-o'-War Jack," an English sailor from her Majesty's Australian colonies, was quite popular as a lullaby. It was a lugubrious recital of the exploits of “the Arethusa, Seventy-four,” in a muffled minor, ending with a prolonged dying fall at the burden of each verse, “On b-00-0-ard of the Arethusa.” It was a fine sight to see Jack holding The Luck, rocking from side to side as if with the motion of a ship, and crooning forth this naval ditty. Either through the peculiar rocking of Jack