As I told the latter part of the story a reverent, loving, self-forgetful look came into her face, and made her seem to me like an angel. As for myself, the recalling of the incident, now that I knew its sequel, prevented my keeping my eyes dry. I felt a little ashamed of myself and hurried away, but her look while I spoke of her father, and her trembling form in my arms while Mrs. Markson raved at her, were constantly in my mind, and muddled a great many important estimates. They finally troubled me so that I drove down again and had a long and serious talk with Helen.
What we said, though perfectly proper and sensible, might not be interesting in print, so I omit it. I will say, however, that my longing—when I first saw Helen as a little girl—for a daughter just like her, has been fulfilled so exactly, that I have named her Helen Markson Raines, after her mother; and if she is not as much comfort to me as I supposed she would be, it is no fault of hers, but rather because the love of her mother makes me, twenty years after the incidents of this story occurred, so constantly happy, that I need the affection of no one else.
On a certain day in November, 1850, there meandered into the new mining camp of Painter Bar, State of California, an individual who was instantly pronounced, all voices concurring, the ugliest man in the camp. The adjective ugly was applied to the man’s physiognomy alone; but time soon gave the word, as applied to him, a far wider significance. In fact, the word was not at all equal to the requirements made of it, and this was probably what influenced the prefixing of numerous adjectives, sacred and profane, to this little word of four letters.
The individual in question stated that he came from “no whar in pu’tiklar,” and the savage, furtive glance that shot from his hyena-like eyes seemed to plainly indicate why the land of his origin was so indefinitely located. A badly broken nose failed to soften the expression of his eyes, a long, prominent, dull-red scar divided one of his cheeks, his mustache was not heavy enough to hide a hideous hare-lip; while a ragged beard, and a head of stiff, bristly red hair, formed a setting which intensified rather than embellished the peculiarities we have noted.
The first settlers, who seemed quite venerable and dignified, now that the camp was nearly a fortnight old, were in the habit of extending hospitality to all newcomers until these latter could build huts for themselves; but no one hastened to invite this beauty to partake of cracker, pork and lodging-place, and he finally betook himself to the southerly side of a large rock, against which he placed a few boughs to break the wind.
The morning after his arrival, certain men missed provisions, and the ugly man was suspected; but so depressing, as one miner mildly put it, was his aspect when even looked at inquiringly, that the bravest of the boys found excuse for not asking questions of the suspected man.