Joaquin Miller's Romantic Life Amongst the Red Indians: An Autobiography

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Saxon & Company, 1890 - Frontier and pioneer life - 253 pages
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Page 21 - Valley makes quite a dimple in the sable sea, and men plow there, and Mexicans drive mules or herd their mustang ponies on the open plain. But the valley is limited, surrounded by the forest, confined and imprisoned. Look intently down among the black and rolling hills, forty miles away to the west, and here and there you will see a haze of cloud or smoke hung up above the trees; or, driven by the wind that is coming from the sea, it may drag and creep along as if tangled in the tops. These are mining...
Page 19 - The immigrant coming from the east beholds the snowy, solitary pillar from afar out on the arid sagebrush plains, and lifts his hands in silence as in answer to a sign. Column upon column of stormstained tamarack, strong-tossing pines, and warlike-looking firs have rallied here. They stand with their backs against this mountain, frowning down dark-browed, and confronting the face of the Saxon. They defy the advance of civilization into their ranks. What if these dark and splendid columns, a hundred...
Page 55 - I hurried on a mile or so to the foot-hills, and stood in the heart of the placer mines. Now the smoke from the low chimneys of the log cabins began to rise and curl through the cool, clear air on every hand, and the miners to come out at the low doors; great hairy, bearded, six-foot giants, hatless, and half-dressed.
Page 97 - This boy sat there on the stone as the village burned, the smoke from burning skins, the wild-rye straw, willow-baskets and Indian robes, ascended, and a smell of burning bodies went up to the Indians' God and the God of us all, and no one said nay, and no one approached him; the men looked at him from under their slouched hats as they moved around, but said nothing. I pitied him. God knows I pitied him. I was a boy myself, alone, helpless, in an army of strong and unsympathetic men. I would have...
Page 45 - He seemed to always want to cheat me — to get my labour for nothing. I could appreciate and enter into the heart of an Indian. Perhaps it was because he was natural ; a child of nature ; nearer to God than the white man. I think what I most needed in order to understand, get on and not be misunderstood, was a long time at school, where my rough points could be ground down. The schoolmaster should have taken me between his thumb and finger and rubbed me about till I was as smooth and as round as...
Page 93 - The crowd advanced to within half a pistol shot, and gave a shout as they drew and leveled their arms. Old squaws came out — bang! bang! bang! shot after shot, and they were pierced and fell, or turned to run. The whites, yelling, howling, screaming, were now among the lodges, shooting down at arm's length man, woman, or child. Some attempted the river, I should say, for I afterward saw streams of blood upon the ice, but not one escaped; nor was a hand raised in defense. It was all done in a little...
Page 37 - He is a human being, full of passion and of poetry. His soul must find some expression; his heart some utterance. The long, long nights of darkness, without any lighted city to walk about in, or books to read. Think of that! Well, all this mind, or thought, or soul, or whatever it may be, which we scatter in so many directions, and on so many things, they center on one or two.
Page 81 - They got wood, made snow shoes, cleared off race tracks, and ran races by hundreds on great shoes, twelve and fifteen feet in length, or made coasting places on the hillsides, and slid down hill. At night, many would get out the old greasy pack of cards, sit before the fire, and play innocent games of old sledge, draw poker, euchre or whist, while some would read by the pine-log light ; others, possessed with a little more devilment, or restlessness, maybe, or idle curiosity, would take the single...
Page 99 - ... so intimate with death, so pitiful! if I had dared, dared the reproach of men-brutes. There was a sort of nobility about him; his recklessness, his desire to die, lifting his little arms against an army of strong and reckless men, his proud and defiant courage, that made me feel at once that he was above me, stronger, somehow better, than I. Still, he was a boy, and I was a boy — the only boys in the camp, and my heart went out, strong and true, toward him. The work of destruction was now too...
Page 85 - Sometimes we would meet one on the narrow trail; he would gather his skins about him, hide his bow and arrows under their folds, and, without seeming to see any one, would move past us still as a shadow. I do not remember that I ever saw one of these Indians laugh, not even to smile. A hard-featured, half-starved set of savages, of whom the wise men of the camp prophesied no good. The snow, unusually deep this winter, had driven them all down from the mountains, and they were compelled to camp on...

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