“It wasn’t my fault,” he ventured at last; “it was Billy Gillis’s fault.”
“No such thing. You know better. Mr. Gillis has been here often. It was you.”
“But do you realize, ma’am, how tired and hungry we are? Haven’t you got a bite for us to eat?”
“No, sir, not a bite—for such as you.”
The offender’s eyes, wandering about the room, spied something in a corner.
“Isn’t that a guitar over there?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, it is; what of it?”
The culprit walked over, and taking it up, tuned the strings a little and struck the chords. Then he began to sing. He began very softly and sang “Fly Away, Pretty Moth,” then “Araby’s Daughter.” He could sing very well in those days, following with the simpler chords. Perhaps the mother “Quail” had known those songs herself back in the States, for her manner grew kindlier, almost with the first notes. When he had finished she was the first to ask him to go on.
“I suppose you are just like all young folks,” she said. “I was young myself once. While you sing I’ll get some supper.”
She left the door to the kitchen open so that she could hear, and cooked whatever she could find for the belated party.
THE JUMPING FROG
It was the rainy season, the winter of 1864 and 1865, but there were many pleasant days, when they could go pocket-hunting, and Samuel Clemens soon added a knowledge of this fascinating science to his other acquirements. Sometimes he worked with Dick Stoker, sometimes with one of the Gillis boys. He did not make his fortune at pocket-mining; he only laid its corner-stone. In the old note-book he kept of that sojourn we find that, with Jim Gillis, he made a trip over into Calaveras County soon after Christmas and remained there until after New Year’s, probably prospecting; and he records that on New Year’s night, at Vallecito, he saw a magnificent lunar rainbow in a very light, drizzling rain. A lunax rainbow is one of the things people seldom see. He thought it an omen of good-fortune.
They returned to the cabin on the hill; but later in the month, on the they crossed over into Calaveras again, and began pocket-hunting not far from Angel’s Camp. The note-book records that the bill of fare at the Camp hotel consisted wholly of beans and something which bore the name of coffee; also that the rains were frequent and heavy.
January 27. Same old
diet—same old weather—went out
pocket-claim—had to rush back.