California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 127 pages of information about California.

Among the clouds of smoke puffed forth by some score of pipes and as many cigarettos, there were to be seen, mingled together, Indians of various degrees of civilisation, and corresponding styles of dress, varying from the solitary cloth kilt to the cotton shirts and jackets and trousers of Russia duck; with groups of trappers from as far up as Oregon, clad in coats of buffalo hide, and with faces and hands so brown and wrinkled that one would take their skins to be as tough as the buffalo’s, and almost as indifferent to a lump of lead.  “Captain,” said one of these gentry, shaking a bag of gold as we passed, “I guess this beats beaver skins—­eh, captain?” Another of them, who had a savage-looking wolf-dog with him, was holding a palaver with an Indian from the borders of the Klamath Lake; and the most friendly understanding seemed to exist between them.  “You see those two scoundrels?” said the Captain to me.  “They look and talk for all the world like brothers; but only let either of them get the chance of a shot at the other after scenting his trail, may be for days, across those broad hunting-grounds, where every man they meet they look upon as a foe, and the one that has the quickest eye and the readiest hand will alone live to see the sun rise next day.”

Threading his way amongst the crowd, I was somewhat struck by the appearance of a Spanish Don of the old school, looking as magnificent as a very gaudy light blue jacket with silver buttons and scarlet trimmings, and breeches of crimson velvet, and striped silk sash, and embroidered deer-skin shoes, and a perfumed cigaretto could make him.  He wore his slouched sombrero jauntily placed on one side, and beneath it, of course, the everlasting black silk handkerchief, with the corners dangling over the neck behind.  Following him was his servant, in slouched hat and spangled garters, carrying an old Spanish musket over his shoulder, and casting somewhat timid looks at the motley assemblage of Indians and trappers, who every now and then jostled against him.  Beyond these, there were a score or two of go-ahead Yankees—­“gentlemen traders,” I suppose they called themselves—­with a few pretty Californian women, who are on their way with their husbands to the mines.  I noticed that the Captain had a word for almost every one, and that he seemed to be held in very great respect.

Bradley informed me to-night of the origin of a scar which is just distinguishable in Captain Sutter’s face.  It seems that the Captain, who is a Swiss, was one of Charles the Tenth’s guards in 1830, and that a slight cut from the sabre of one of the youths of the Polytechnic School had left in his visage a standing memorial of the three glorious days.  Indeed the Captain seems generally to have taken the side of the constituted authorities, as in thy revolution of 1845 he turned out with all his people for the Mexican Government.  However, he was more fortunate in California than in Paris, as he didn’t even get his skin scratched on this occasion.

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Project Gutenberg
California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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