California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about California.
The vehicle was got across the river that night.  In the morning he started it off well laden with provisions, and arrived here without any accident the same evening.  We were now well victualled for a month, but were puzzled how to stow away our large stock of provisions, and only accomplished it satisfactorily by giving up the tent for this purpose.  This compelled us all to sleep in the open air; but as yet the nights are very mild and pleasant.

Among the fresh arrivals at the diggings the native Californians have begun to appear in tolerable numbers.  Many of these people have brought their wives, who are attended usually by Indian girls.  The graceful Spanish costume of the new-comers adds quite a feature to the busy scene around.  There, working amidst the sallow Yankees, with their wide white trousers and straw hats, and the half-naked Indian, may be seen the native-born Californian, with his dusky visage and lustrous black eye, clad in the universal short tight jacket with its lace adornments, and velvet breeches, with a silk sash fastened round his waist, splashing away with his gay deerskin botas in the mudded water.  The appearance of the women is graceful and coquettish.  Their petticoats, short enough, to display in most instances a well-turned ankle, are richly laced and embroidered, and striped and flounced with gaudy colours, of which scarlet seems to have the preference.  Their tresses hang in luxuriant plaits down their backs:  and in all the little accessories of dress, such as ear-rings, necklaces, etc., the costume is very rich.  Its distinguishing, feature, however, is the reboso, a sort of scarf, generally made of cotton, which answers to the mantilla of Old Spain.  It is worn in many different and very graceful fashions—­sometimes twined round the waist and shoulders; at others, hanging in pretty festoons about the figure, but always disposed with that indescribable degree of coquettish grace which Spanish women have been for ages, allowed to possess in the management of the fan and the mantilla.  Since these arrivals almost every evening a fandango is got up on the green, before some of the tents.  The term fandango, though originally signifying a peculiar kind of dance, seems to be used here for an evening’s dancing entertainment, in which many different pas are introduced.  I was present at a fandango a few nights ago where a couple of performers were dancing “el jarabe,” which seemed to consist chiefly of a series of monotonous toe and heel movements on the ground.  The motions of the foot were, however, wonderfully rapid, and always in exact time to the music.  But at these entertainments the waltz seems to be the standing dish.  It is danced with numerous very intricate figures, to which, however, all the Californians appear quite au fait.  Men and women alike waltz beautifully, with an easy, graceful, swinging motion.

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California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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