As he gazed at his recumbent fellow-exiles, the loneliness begotten of his pariah-trade, his habits of life, his very vices, for the first time seriously oppressed him. On his way out of town, he is joined by The Duchess, a saloon girl; Mother Shipton, a madam; and Uncle Billy, the town drunk and a suspected robber. And so reclining, the younger and purer pillowing the head of her soiled sister upon her virgin breast, they fell asleep. The ruined cabin, patched and covered with pine boughs, was set apart for the ladies. Certain inhabitants of Poker Flat feel that the community is going downhill. All you know about it for certain is that its bound to change.
The frail Duchess and the malevolent Mother Shipton were probably too stunned to remark upon this last evidence of simplicity, and so turned without a word to the hut. I fear that a certain defiant tone and Covenanters swing to its chorus, rather than any devotional quality, caused it speedily to infect the others, who at last joined in the refrain: Im proud to live in the service of the Lord, And Im bound to die in His army. Oakhurst seems to be notorious for attempting to preserve innocence recall his protectiveness of Tom Simson when he lost his gambling match , we might view Mr. He told straight facts to expose the tragedy of their lives, so people would realize the real, tragic effects of slavery. Oakhurst's kick a superior power that would not bear trifling. He is described as a virgin who encounters the exiles while traveling with Piney Woods to get married. There was a Sabbath lull in the air, which, in a settlement unused to Sabbath influences, looked ominous.
It was apparently of a jocular nature, for he felt impelled to slap his leg again and cram his fist into his mouth. Oakhurst knows that Uncle Billy left the camp and was never coming back, he kept the truth to himself as to not upset the others. Piney was no chicken, but it was a soothing and original theory of the pair thus to account for the fact that she didnt swear and wasnt improper. He did fall from the bridge but not into the river. He is thrilled to see him, and the young couple decides to spend some time with the group, obviously unaware of the fact that they were exiled for being immoral. They sat together by their own open-air fire.
Under a tall tree a playing card was stuck into the wood by a knife. If you ain't--and perhaps you'd better not--you can wait till Uncle Billy gets back with provisions. Day by day closer around them drew the snowy circle, until at last they looked from their prison over drifted walls of dazzling white, that towered twenty feet above their heads. A few of the committee had urged hanging him as a possible example, and a sure method of reimbursing themselves from his pockets of the sums he had won from them. As it was, he felt compelled to retire up the cañon until he could recover his gravity.
Oakhurst returned from a weary search for the trail, he heard the sound of happy laughter echoed from the rocks. Uncle Billy passed rapidly from a bellicose state into one of stupor, the Duchess became maudlin, and Mother Shipton snored. People were over the sugar coated, romanticized writing that they could not connect with. But it was high up in the cold Sierra Mountains, and the path was anything but smooth. Haply the time was beguiled by an accordion, produced somewhat ostentatiously by Tom Simson from his pack. I reckon now youre used to fine things at Poker Flat, said Piney.
It was not until he caught sight of the blazing fire through the still-blinding storm and the group around it that he settled to the conviction that it was square fun. Mother Shipton later makes the ultimate sacrifice when she secretly starves herself in order to ensure enough food for Piney Woods. Looking about, he realizes that he is the only one awake, but soon discovers someone had awoken before him: Uncle Billy is missing, with the group's mules and horses stolen. For example, the red dust of Poker Flat has an eerie, assaulting effect on Oakhurst and can perhaps symbolize the haziness of the truth for the supposedly upright citizens of Poker Flat. But that did not matter. The snow had continued to fall and was deeper than ever. If the narrator would have described his concern with more aggression and emotion we would probably gain even more concern for the situation the characters are encountering.
Writers focused on how their character responded to a situation. Consequently a secret committee is elected. This committee decides who will be killed and who expatriated. The moon through the rifted clouds looked down upon what had been the camp. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares.
Most of all, this quotation foreshadows Oakhurst's suicide, as it signals that Oakhurst recognizes his luck changing even before the other characters realize that they are doomed. Tom told Oakhurst that he had a little food. Harte diffuses the concern during this situation by reinstating Mr. Oakhurst, whose professional habits had enabled him to live on the smallest possible amount of sleep, in dividing the watch with Tom Simson, somehow managed to take upon himself the greater part of that duty. He even pointed out the fact that there was no provision, nor means of making a camp. It was experiencing a spasm of virtuous reaction, quite as lawless and ungovernable as any of the acts that had provoked it.
If you can hold your cards right along you're all right. That night the storm reached its greatest fury, and, rending asunder the protecting pines, invaded the very hut. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. The tracks were already rapidly disappearing in the snow. Whether he was conscious of any predisposing cause, was another question.
But they were furnished with liquor, which in this emergency stood them in place of food, fuel, rest, and prescience. A secret committee had determined to rid the town of all improper persons. And, doing so, suddenly he heard his own name called. They said he looked peaceful. The Duchess turned away sharply to conceal something that reddened her cheeks through its professional tint, and Mother Shipton requested Piney not to chatter. Narrator This is the narrator's final word on John Oakhurst, wherein the narrator plays with the idea that although Oakhurst is often represented as the stoic, macho presence in the group, he was simultaneously its weakest member. Considered almost unprintable, shocking in its time and unnerving to readers to this day.