I find Canda waiting impatiently for me at my new abode.
“You’ve got to check this out, boss,” he says, “I ran across the sheriff of Snake County in Idaho, nice guy name of Jed Savage. Anyway, turns out his grandfather told him a story about his own grandfather in California that pretty much shows what Americans have always been like. Since Savage is a Null Five, I was able to capture his memories and store them in my right foreleg. I give you permission to access them. Might give you a better perspective on what kind of future Americans deserve.”
“Thanks, Canda.” I focus on his foreleg and absorb the sounds, scents and images of a time nearly two hundred years in the past.
A Savage Tale
From snow-covered mountain peaks I see a small Indian village at the foot of a beautiful valley. The village is a collection of fewer than a dozen huts. Small children play, women weave baskets or walk through the village intent on carrying water or scraping bark from long poles. No men can be seen.
A huge stream of water smashes into the village. A woman basket weaver is literally picked up by the water, carried several feet and smashed into a tree. Children and women scatter and scream.
On a high bluff overlooking the village three white miners dressed in red shirts and khaki breeches gesture at what looks like a huge hydraulic cannon (it’s called the Monitor) aimed at the villagers.
The miners are clearly enjoying themselves, grinning, laughing, slapping each other on the back.
“Look at them heathens. Goin’ for a swim.”
“Hey, be sure and get that fat squaw over there.”
Almost all the village huts have been knocked down. Poles and hides swirl in confusion in the surging water. Several of the children look as if they are drowning. A few women, at the periphery of the devastation, rush back into the swirling water attempting to rescue the terrified children. The sound of the rushing water is deafening.
Rifle shots ring out. The stream of water stops.
One of the miners is on the ground clutching his right leg where he has been shot, blood streaming from the wound. The other two run for cover towards the trees.
In their rush, they bump the hydraulic cannon, which is now pointed towards the top of the bluff, spewing water, knocking the two running men down.
They get up, only to be knocked down again. No longer laughing, they are cursing. The expression on their faces is one of pure terror.
Seated on a horse with his rifle raised to eye level is Jack Savage, mid-twenties, tall, strikingly handsome, with dark hair and no beard.
He smiles, sheathes his carbine, and rides away.
Where the Indian village once stood several Indian men appear and help the surviving children and women to safety.
The water begins to recede, slowly soaking into the ground.
Behind a large desk in the makeshift office of the All Saints Mining Company sits Elder Isaiah Cain, president. A large, bewhiskered man in his early fifties, he has a piercing glare and a deep, rumbling voice. Dressed formally in black suit, stiff high collar and black tie, he waves his hand angrily at the other man in the office, standing across the room from him.
This is Joe Turner, a tall, rangy man, dressed in work pants with leather leggings, white shirt, brown leather vest and high-topped miner’s boots. He also sports a gun belt with a Colt revolver in a holster strapped to his right leg.
“I tell you, Elder, the boys was just havin’ a little fun.”
“Fun? Turning the Monitor on helpless savages?”
“You know we got to get them damn Indians out of our way before we can sluice more.”
“You will not curse in my presence, Mr. Turner.”
“You want to hold up while we parley and load ‘em up with denthalium? That’d be costin’ us our bonuses.”
“I want you to stop work on the east end of the diggings until I figure out a way to get the Miwoks to move peaceably. Your men can continue work on the north side.”
“But Mister Cain, that’s just about sluiced out. You don’t watch out, we’re gonna get way behind all the other companies up here. And that’d be a shame. ‘Cause you Mormons have the best minin’ engineers around. Hell, you practically invented hydraulic placerin’. And now you won’t let us use it. Lemme tell you, the other big outfits don’t have your fine scruples. Hell, down in Grass Valley they’re fittin’ out huntin’ parties. Huntin’ heathens.”
“Just keep our men in line. I will not condone the slaughter of these poor souls.”
Red-faced and angry, Turner instinctively reaches towards his Colt. “Now you listen to me for a change and listen good. Me and my men ain’t gonna put up with no more white glove treatment of these
savages. . .”
The door to the mining office swings open and Seth Blackridge walks in. He is a giant of a man, nearly six and a half feet tall, heavy-set with a jagged scar running all the way along his right cheek. Dressed in black, including a long trail coat, flecked with dirt, open to reveal a revolver stuck in a hip holster.
“Elder? The boys are just getting bedded down.”
“Seth, I’d like you to meet my foreman, Joe Turner.”
Turner glances in Blackridge’s direction, gives a sneer and a nod. “Like I was tellin’ the Reverend here. . .”
“I’m no Reverend, I’m an Elder of the Church.”
“Like I was tellin’ the good Elder here, we got to get these Indians out of our way and soon or this here enterprise is gonna go belly up.”
“Mr. Blackridge is an emissary from the Mother Church, isn’t that right, Seth?”
Blackridge nods, his face an expressionless mask.
“Well, hooray for him. . .”
“Brigham sent him here to make sure everything is going right.”
Thoroughly frustrated, Turner once again reaches towards his revolver.
“I don’t give a goddamn who sent him. Let’s talk sense here.”
With almost unbelievable swiftness, Blackridge reaches out and removes Turner’s Colt from its holster before Turner can even touch it.
“You just simmer down, Mister. What you want me to do, Elder?”
“Just keep his gun for a bit, Seth. Now Mr. Turner, you should know that Seth here and three of his men are emissaries from President Young. They’re here to make sure we don’t pull a Sam Brannan. In the meantime, they do what I ask, as long as they know I’m not cheating the Church. Just to make everything clear, they’re real special emissaries, from Brigham’s own bodyguard.”
Turner is taken aback.
“We’ve been called that,” says Seth.
Turner starts backing out of the office. With a small show of bravado, he lightly stutters his parting words. “Just keep in mind, Danites or no Danites, my miners are near the ends of their ropes.”
“Seth, leave your men here. In the meanwhile, I have a job for you.”
Elder Cain and Seth stroll along the edge of the All Saints diggings. The devastation wrought by hydraulic placer mining is everywhere evident. Ugly gullies. Hills literally washed away.
“If we don’t do something, the miners will massacre the Miwoks who live in these valleys. So I have written Brigham asking if the Church could buy some land to settle the Miwoks on.”
“Kind of a private reservation? Does the Church have that kind of money?”
“All Saints is profitable. Land is cheap. What would we need? A thousand acres? Ten thousand? I’ve heard back from Brigham. He agrees in principle. What you need is someone to talk to the Miwoks, persuade them to move.”
“Do you have somebody in mind?”
“Ever heard of Jack Savage?”
“Heard of a James Savage. Has several trading posts in Tulare Valley.”
“Jack is James’s brother. Half-brother, I should say. Jedediah Savage was their father. The mountain man.”
“I’ve heard of him.”
“Jack is his son by a Yokut woman.”
“A half-breed, then.”
“Yes. But he’s a smart one. Jedediah Savage sent Jack back school in St. Louis”.
“Say the word and I’ll look him up.”
Jack Savage rides on a narrow forest trail. As he rounds a bend, he is confronted by half a dozen Miwoks, whose leaders are Teneya and Cipriano. Teneya is an older man, with hair beginning to turn quite grey. Cipriano is younger and fierce-looking.
“What are you doing here, Savage?” Cipriano bristles with contempt.
“I should kill you.”
“Betraying the Yokut.”
“The Army lied to me same as them.”
“Next time I see you, I will kill you.”
Teneya, Cipriano and the Miwok warriors wheel their horses and ride away.
At the Indian Treaty Commissioners’ camp uniformed dragoons swarm and preen. A dozen or so dignified looking Indians regard their antics with studied indifference.
The three Indian Treaty Commissioners, Redick McKee, George Barbour, and Orin Wozencraft are seated behind a high bench. The Commissioners are distinguished-looking middle-aged men who speak with Southern accents. Seated to their right is Jim McKee, Redick McKee’s son and official secretary to the Treaty Commission. A scattering of white men, including James Savage, stand or sit nonchalantly at the fringes of the room.
In the center of the room, facing the Commissioners, are Teneya and Cipriano.
“Chief Teneya,” says Redick McKee, “we three are Treaty Commissioners sent by the Great White Father to make peace with your people.”
“Do not call me Chief. Who is this Great White Father you speak of? Where does he live? I have not heard of such a one.”
“He is the chief of chiefs of our nation. He lives far away in a place called Washington.”
“Does he have a name? Is he a good man?”
“His name is President Zachary Taylor. He is a very good man.”
“If he is a good man I will listen to what you have to say.”
“You must understand, Chief, I mean Teneya,” says Barbour, “that our nation received this land, your land, and all the rest of California, from Mexico. In a treaty, the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. . .”
“What is this Mexico? I have never heard of it. How does this Mexico have the right to give our lands away?”
“Why, it’s international law.”
“Good heavens, George,” says Redick McKee, “do you think the Chief here gives a fig about international law? Chief Teneya, the point is that there are many white men here now, many more than just a year ago, and ten times, maybe a hundred times more are coming soon.”
“Let them come. We have nothing against white men. Unless they harm us.”
“The Great White Father has many red children east of your mountains. He has learned that white people and his red children must live apart. Or harm will come to both.”
“How does your chief gather together his red children in the East? To keep them from harm?”
“On what we call reservations. White people live on some of the land and red people live on the rest. Where the red people live are called reservations.”
“Fine. We will take the mountains. That is Miwok land. You can talk to the Pomo about land near the Great Lake.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible, Chief Teneya. There are white men already in the mountains. And there will be more. You can’t stop them. Even we can’t stop them. We must have the mountains. You can have the valley.”
“Some of the valley,” observes Wozencroft.
“We do not want the valley. What would we do with the valley? It is a desert. If you look outside these walls, you will see a graveyard. There are our fathers and our grandfathers. You have seen that eagle nest mountain and that rabbit hole mountain? When God made them, he gave us this place. We have always been here. We do not care for any other place. We have always lived here. We would rather die here. Our fathers did. We cannot leave them. How can we go away? If you give us the best place in the world it is not as good for us as this. We do not want any other place. If you will not let us have this place, we will go into the mountains like quail and die there, the old people, the women and children. But Cipriano and I and the men will stay behind and we will kill you. We will kill for our home.”
“Teneya,” Redick says gently, “I fear for your people. You cannot kill all of us. We are many and armed with rifles and cannon. Can we speak further on this?”
Teneya is silent. James Savage raises his hand. He is a remarkably handsome man but does not in any way resemble his half-brother. James is in his mid-thirties, medium height, clean-shaven, with blonde hair hanging below his shoulders in ringlets.
“Can I speak to the Chief in his own language? Maybe he’d understand better.”
“Go ahead, Mr. Savage.”
James begins speaking to Teneya in Miwok. “Teneya, old friend, don’t you know you can’t win against the white man?”
Why should I listen to you, defiler of our women? You grow fat from the trade we give you, And what do you give us in return?”
“I can help you with these men. I know their ways and I know yours. I can get them to treat you fairly.”
“I will not speak with you. I will speak with them.”
“What does he say?” asks Redick.
“That he wishes to parley further with you.”
“Excellent. Now, Cipriano,” McKee leans over to James Savage.
“By the bye, why does Cipriano have a Mexican name and claims never to have heard of Mexico?”
James laughs. “He’s just funning you. He speaks Mexican as good as a grandee. Learned it from the Mission Indians.”
McKee directs his attention back to Cipriano. “I understand you are a leader of warriors and a Medicine Man.”
“I am a warrior. I do not understand ‘Medicine Man.’”
“A man of religion.”
“What is this religion?”
“Your belief in the Great Spirit.”
“We have no Great Spirit.”
“Have you no knowledge of a Supreme Being, or prime cause of all things?” Barbour asks.
“I know the grass grows, the trees grow and produce acorns and leaves, but the cause I am ignorant of. I think there is some great power in the heavens, and that it has a good head and wishes the Indian well, but I don’t know much about it. How should I know?”
“Is there a Bad Spirit, then?” asks Barbour.
“I know there are bad men and bad animals and I suppose there might be a Bad Spirit somewhere.”
“Do you think you live after death?” Wozencroft inquires.
“No idea. How should I know? Do you know?”
McKee interrupts impatiently. “This theological discussion is getting us nowhere. Teneya, Cipriano. We must meet with other leaders. We have made an offer to the Yokut who live on the San Joaquin River. Talk to the Yokut. They think it is a fair offer.”
“I will do as you ask,”Teneya replies. “We do not wish to quarrel with you.”
Teneya and Cipriano turn and stride from the room. There is a brief silence.
“Well, Mr. Savage,” says Barbour, “you know these people. What do you think?”
“I don’t know, Colonel Barbour. You can’t trust an Indian. Especially not a Miwok. But I think your troops out there might have scared ’em a bit.”
“They didn’t look very scared to me,” says Redick McKee.
“Ah, it’s an act. They all do it. The brave brave. Fact is, they’re not fighters, except a little among themselves. They’re basket weavers and acorn eaters. If you want, I could lead your troops to where they hide out. I know all their hiding places. That’d scare them even more. They’d come around to your way of thinking pretty fast.”
“No,” McKee says firmly, “I don’t want to start anything with these people. I want them to know we’re here on a peace mission, not a war mission.”
“Suit yourself, Colonel McKee. But you can parley with these fellas for a month of Sundays and you’ll get nothing out of them.”
“Patience, Mr. Savage. These things take time.”
“Yes sir. But like you yourself said, there’s thousands of men coming into the gold fields every week. These men have come a long way. Across the prairies or around the Horn. They aren’t going to let a few Diggers stand in their way.
McKee turns to his son. “Jim, which chief do we see next?”
Large sailing ships and small sloops clutter San Francisco’s harbor. The scene is one of unmitigated chaos. Eliza Burnham is being carried from the sloop Circassia by two sailors holding her on either side under the armpits. Eliza is twenty-five, petite with raven-dark, wavy hair. Quite beautiful and, at the moment, quite furious.
One sailor is a tall, tattooed South Sea Islander, bald except for a topknot. The other is a short, squat Limey. Because of the porters’ difference in height, Eliza is transported at a precarious angle and her dress and numerous petticoats are becoming soaked.
“You blackguards! You’re freezing me! You’re drowning me!”
The two men march imperturbably onward, at last depositing her on a quay. They then turn around and slog back through the waist deep water towards the Circassia.“My trunk, my things?
“Delivered to your hotel, ma’am,” says the Limey
“But I don’t have a hotel.”
“Yes you do, ma’am. The Niantic.”
But the sailors don’t respond. Eliza stands on the quay, looking forlorn.
Then she turns and begins walking towards the chaotic streets of Gold Rush San Francisco, is a city of tents with only the occasional wooden building.
Once off the quay, Eliza finds herself jostled and pushed. Several men stop and stare longingly at her. She is the only woman on the street.
But “street” is truly a euphemism. It is a vast mudhole, with carriages either slogging slowly along or irretrievably stuck in the mire. Terrified horses neigh with terror and try to scramble free of the muck. There is no formal boardwalk. Before each tent establishment, mostly gambling dens, saloons and whorehouses, there are makeshift and wildly varying piles of planks or rocks. Pedestrians step gingerly along this highly hazardous route. Eliza is clearly bewildered and terrified. She tugs at the sleeve of a man dressed as a gentleman.
“Could you tell me where I may find my lodgings? Called something like the Atlantic?”
“Head to Portsmouth Square. That way.” He points in a southerly direction.
Eliza continues on her way, again jostled and gawked at. She reaches a corner and looks around helplessly. A passerby bumps hard into her and she is thrown into the quagmire of the street, face down. As she raises her muddy face, a crowd of men gathers at the corner. They laugh.
Despite herself, Eliza begins to cry. Then she hears a strong, male voice resound through the snickering male crowd. The voice, with a slight Irish accent, belongs to David Broderick, a barrel-chested, plain-looking man of medium height in his early thirties. Dressed exquisitely in the latest fashion, he exudes authority and self-confidence.
“Here now. Gentlemen, gentlemen. Can’t you see the lady’s in distress?”
“Yeah, she surely is DI-stressed,” says an especially unkempt member of the motley crowd.
“Then, sir, I suggest you help her.”
Broderick reaches out and with a mighty push sends the man, arms and legs akimbo, to splatter face down in the street alongside Eliza. The crowd laughs even harder. The man tries to get up and faces in Broderick’s direction.
“Why you. . . .” he sputters, then sees who pushed him. Sheepishly, he says, “Oh, it’s you, Mr. Broderick.”
“The same. Now, please be good enough to help the lady.”
The man pulls on Eliza’s arm, gets her part way up, then they both fall back in the mud. The crowd laughs even louder and even Broderick gives a ghost of a smile. After two or three false starts, the man finally deposits Eliza on the “boardwalk”. She starts to wipe the mud off her face. Broderick solemnly hands her a large, white, perfectly laundered handkerchief.
“David Broderick at your service, ma’am. Allow me to apologize for the behavior of my fellow San Franciscans. They’re a brutish lot at best.”
“Mrs. Eliza Burnham, Mr.Broderick, and I thank you.”
Broderick looks at her outstretched muddy hand with a smile, then grasps it warmly. Mrs. Burnham. A pleasure. Now, how may I be of service? Have you lodgings, a hotel? We must get you warm and clean before you catch your death.”
“I do have a hotel. But I really don’t know the name of it. Something like Atlantic. . .”
“The Niantic. Of course. It’s on Portsmouth Square. Here, boys.”
Broderick signals at two Chinese men, dressed in coolie fashion, carrying a makeshift sedan chair. They come over and Broderick hands them some coins. “Take Mrs. Farnham to the Niantic, make sure you hand her over to the proprietress, Mrs. Mudge. Chop, chop, lads.”
“My trunk, my clothes. . .”
“Are you newly arrived?”
“The name of your ship?”
“I will see that your things are safely delivered. And ma’am, if you don’t object, may I look in on you to assure myself that you are all right?”
“Of course, sir. Oh how can I thank you?”
Broderick is already on his way down the street.
“Think nothing of it, Mrs. Burnham. Anything for a fellow New Yorker.
“ How do you know I’m a New Yorker?” Eliza calls after him
But Broderick has been swallowed up by the crowd and there is no answer.
Straddled along one bank of the Tuolomne River, the Mariposa Mining camp consists of tents and lean-to shacks irregularly spaced. The only illumination comes from numerous campfires. Sounds of singing and raucous laughter can be dimly heard.
A tall, well-muscled Miwok brave moves along one of the makeshift paths that connect the miners’ dwellings. He is dressed like a miner and, in fact, is one of the dozens of Indians who work as miners at the Mariposa. Only his bandana and chiseled features indicate that he’s an Indian. He stops in front of one of the tents. Laughter, grunting, and then a woman’s scream are heard from the tent.
“Bigler, you filth! Come out!” the brave shouts.
“Get lost, Injun boy,” comes a voice from inside the tent.”
“You leggo my woman.”
“Hey, digger, I likes your woman. Gonna keep her. Go away, now.”
“I kill you, Bigler!”
Bigler steps out of the tent. He is a short, fat, greasy-faced miner with a greying beard. He has a rifle in his hands. “I don’t think so.”
He shoots the unarmed Miwok, who is blown back by the blast and dies without a sound. A Miwok woman, obviously naked under a blanket pulled around her, rushes out of the tent, screaming and attacks Bigler.
“Get away from me.”
Bigler clubs her with his rifle. She falls, gets up and attacks him again. He drops the rifle, pushes her away and draws his pistol, which he aims at her and shoots her in the face, blowing most of it away. There is commotion in the nearby tents
“What’s goin’ on?”
“Damn squaw and a digger tried to kill me.”
Quickly a crowd of miners gather around Bigler, staring at the two dead Indians.
“These goddamn diggers. Ain’t no white man safe around ’em,” says a miner who looks too young to shave.
“Damn straight. And they’re gettin’ lots of our gold, too.” This from an oldtimer
“Shouldn’t be no diggers minin’ with white men.”
A chorus of approval for this sentiment arises from the growing crowd.
“Let’s get ’em!” Several voices are raised.
The miners gather up their weapons and start marching along the trail to the Miwok miners camp. As they approach, some Indians emerge from their tents. The miners start shooting and clubbing to death unarmed Miwok men, women, and children. The killers are fiercely indifferent to the grunts of pain, screams, the deadly thud of bullets, the wails of injured and dying children.
When it is all over, the beardless young miner raises a jug of whiskey and howls. The others join in.
“Death to diggers!”
The Niantic Hotel is a ship that was dragged ashore and used as the foundation for a hotel. The prow sticks out into the street, the ship’s name still emblazoned on it in faded letters.
Eliza, freshly bathed, dressed in shift and multiple petticoats, pulls dresses out of her steamer trunk and chats with Mrs. Mudge, a short, sturdy woman of about forty with a cheerful, almost pretty face and a pleasant manner.
“So, Mr. Broderick. What do you know of him?”
“He’s a great gentleman, Miss. One of the greatest in San Francisco.”
“Now, Mrs. Mudge, I know gentlemen. I don’t especially care for gentlemen, but I know them and Mr. Broderick is not one. The way he talks, the way he dresses. . .”
“He most certainly is a gentleman, Miss.”
“Ma’am, Mrs. Mudge. I am a widow, not a spinster.”
“Ma’am, then. Why Mr. Broderick was almost a Congressman. And from your New York, too.”
“An almost Congressman? Well, if he’d actually become one that certainly would have disqualified him permanently from being a gentleman”.
“Well, we love Mr. Broderick here, Ma’am. He’s always for the downtrodden, the working man.”
“And the working woman? Like yourself, Mrs. Mudge?”
“Us, too. He believes in the protection of women.”
“Protection? I don’t need protection. I need the vote. I was at Seneca Falls, Mrs. Mudge. So what about that? Does Mr. Broderick support votes for women?”
“Ask him yourself. At dinner.”
“The only reason I’m having dinner with Mr. Broderick is to find out how he knows I am from New York.”
“Maybe a wee bit of gratitude? For protecting you?”
“I could have taken care of myself in that situation. Given time.”
“As you say, Ma’am. Now what will you be wearing this evening. Widow’s weeds, I suppose?”
“Absolutely not, Mrs. Mudge. Modern women don’t need to advertise their grief. I think the green taffeta, what do you think?”
“Ah, green always warms the heart of a fine Irish gentleman. Like Mr. Broderick.”
Eliza glares at Mrs. Mudge and tosses her head in annoyance.
The Savage Trading Post is a large, ramshackle log building. Seth Blackridge pulls up his horse, dismounts, and ties the reins to the hitching post. He then walks through the large, swinging double entrance door,
emerging into a large, dimly lighted room. On his right is a counter, behind which are stacked several rows of dry goods. On his left is a tavern with a bar counter and five tables. Three men, two whites and an Indian, sit at one of the tables. James Savage is standing behind the bar, drying glasses.
“Is Mr. Savage about?” Blackridge asks.
“I’m Savage. What can I do for you?”
Blackridge walks over to the bar and extends his right hand. They shake hands. “Seth Blackridge. Elder Cain told me to look you up. Said you might be able to tell me the whereabouts of your brother.”
“I’m not my brother’s keeper, Mr. Blackridge . . .
“Seth. Although he could probably use one. What do you want him for?”
“Got a little Indian trouble up at All Saints Mining. Elder Cain said maybe your brother could help out.”
“Him being half Indian and all? Drink, Seth?”
“Just some water, thanks.”
“Oh, that’s right. You fellas don’t drink the good stuff. Well, I’ll tell you. Jack and me aren’t real close, so I can’t really tell you exactly where he is. But last I heard he was headed San Francisco way.”
“Any special place in San Francisco?”
“No. But he’s a Broderick man. You could ask him.”
“Dave Broderick. Local San Francisco politico. Runs the Irish gangs.”
A pretty Indian girl, about eleven years old, comes up beside Blackridge.
James puts down the glass and dishtowel, reaches over the bar and picks her up under the arms, raising her over the bar into his arms and kisses her on the mouth.
“Hey, Small Horse!”
He puts her down and grins at Blackridge.
“Hell, no. Wife. I got eleven of ’em. All Indian. All from different tribes.”
“Sure. Helps keep the peace at all my trading posts. Don’t look so surprised. You fellas know all about having a bunch of wives.”
“Maybe, but we don’t usually start ’em out quite that young.”
“Then Seth, me lad, you don’t know what you’re missing,” Savage laughs.
David Broderick is seated in a private booth as Eliza enters the dining room. She looks radiant in her green taffeta dress. Broderick smiles and rises from his seat.
“Mrs. Burnham. A great pleasure to see you looking so. . .”
“Indeed. Clean is precisely the word I was seeking.”
Eliza sweeps into the booth. Broderick nods to a waiter who promptly comes over.
“There are no menus here,” Broderick says, “but may I suggest the sea bass? With a nice French white Bordeaux?”
“I don’t usually allow gentlemen to order for me but since you are familiar with the cuisine. . . .”
Broderick nods again at the waiter, who turns silently away.
“Now, Mrs. Burnham, you were curious about how I knew you were from New York.”
He removes a sheet of paper from his vest pocket and holds it up.
“Does this look familiar?” Broderick smiles and begins reading:
“The death of my husband, Thomas J. Burnham, Esquire, at San Francisco, in September last, renders it expedient that I should visit California during the coming season. . . .”
“Please, Mr. Broderick. No more.”
“Oh, but I must. This circular, after all, carries the endorsement of Henry Ward Beecher, William Cullen Bryant and Horace Greeley himself. All gentlemen with whom I am acquainted. I was, for a short time, almost a Congressman from our fair city.”
“So I’ve heard.”
Broderick continues reading: “Having a desire to accomplish some greater good by my journey than to give the necessary attention to my private affairs, and believing that the presence of women would be one of the surest checks upon many of the evils that are apprehended in California, I desire to ask attention to a plan for organizing a party of such persons to emigrate to that country:
“Among the many privations and deteriorating influences to which the thousands of men who are flocking to the Gold Rush will be subjected, one of the greatest is the absence of woman, with all her kindly cares and powers, so peculiarly conservative to man under such circumstances.
“It would exceed the limits of this circular to hint at the benefits that would flow to the growing population of California from the introduction among these men of intelligent, virtuous and efficient women. It is believed that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of such females in our country who are not bound by any tie that would hold them here, who might, by going to California, have the satisfaction of improving man and at the same time of serving their own interests more effectively than if they were employed in mundane pursuits here.
“I therefore propose that a company of no less than one hundred women, not under twenty-five years of age, with a certificate of good character from their clergyman, accompany me to California for the greater purpose of civilizing that base frontier. Those who desire further information will receive it by calling on the subscriber. Signed Eliza W. Burnham.” Broderick smiles. “How many lady volunteers did you end up with?”
“Not a one,” Eliza says miserably.
“I’m sorry to hear that. It is a good idea.”
“Are you making sport of me, Mr. Broderick?”
“Not at all. The civilizing influence of women is something badly needed in this country. Now, may I ask you about the business that brought you here? Your late husband’s affairs. I understand he had a share in the Bloodgood Mine at Mariposa.”
“You’re surprisingly well informed.”
“It’s my business. Politics you know. Did Mr. Burnham leave a will?
“Yes, he sent me a copy of it. While he was in hospital.
“The original will be on file at the Courthouse. May I suggest a lawyer? I assume you don’t have one, yet.”
“I don’t and I don’t have money for one.”
“No matter. Ned McGowan’s your man. He knows the peculiar laws of our fledgling country better than anyone. And he’s a dear friend of mine. He won’t charge you.”
“Why are you being so kind to me, Mr. Broderick? What is it exactly that you want from me?”
“It’s what I mentioned before, Mrs. Burnham. Politics.”
“But I don’t understand. I’m not political.”
“Not yet, perhaps. But you will be.”
“I trust you can explain.”
“As you yourself observed, there are few women in California. Even fewer respectable women. And the number of beautiful, respectable women? Exactly two. Jesse Fremont and yourself. Now Jesse’s going to get John Fremont elected Senator when California becomes a state. He’ll have little to do with it, id’yit that he is. And you will do the same for me, in return for my kindnesses.”
“Mr. Broderick! How dare you.”
“Don’t misunderstand me. I’m proposing nothing improper. Not even marriage, the most improper proposition of all. It’s simply that, whether you want them to or not, men will flock to you. They will seek out your opinion. And when they do, perhaps you could put in a kind word for me. That’s all.”
“But I don’t even know your politics.”
“Let me ask you one question. Are you pro or anti slavery?”
“Why anti, of course.”
“As am I. You see, Mrs. Burnham, there’s a small group of fine, wealthy self-styled gentlemen here in California, most of them from the South, who want California to come in to the Union as a slave state. They call themselves the Chivalry. And it’s mainly due to them that the Republic of California right now allows slavery. Including Indian slavery.”
“I will do what I can to help you defeat these men, Mr. Broderick. Slavery is an abomination. I don’t even care what the rest of your politics is.”
“Oh, as for that. I’m for a fair shake for the working man and against the monopoly of power by the rich and well born.”
“What about them?”
“Are you for women obtaining the vote?”
“Of course. But not publicly.”
“What good is that?”
“Not much, I admit. But that’s a long struggle. I like to pick the fights that I might be able to win in my lifetime. And stopping slavery from spreading is a fight we just might win.”
“Very well. I will help you, Mr. Broderick.”
“David. But first I need to go to the Bloodgood Mine. Meet my husband’s partners.”
“It’s a dangerous journey, Eliza. May I call you Eliza?”
“Of course. But as for the journey to the mine, I must go.”
“Very well. First meet with Ned McGowan tomorrow. He’ll tell you what your legal situation is. In the meantime, I have someone in mind who can escort you safely to Mariposa Diggings and the Bloodgood Mine if anyone can.”
“And who is that?”
“His name is Jack Savage. You’ll meet him tomorrow when you talk with Ned.”
James Savage and half a dozen men ride into the Mariposa Mining camp. They are immediately surrounded by red-shirted miners.
“Where’s Bigler?” asks James.
“You started the killing the other day.”
“I was attacked by a Digger.”
“Not the way I heard it. You know much money you and these other jackasses cost me? I was renting those Indians out at a good price and the bunch of you up and kills half of ’em. So the rest just skedaddle.”
“Well, I don’t much care about your money problems, Savage. You’re already milkin’ us dry with your Tradin’ Post. Fifty dollars for a pound of flour. A hundred for a slab of bacon. . . .”
James nimbly alights from his horse. “So you don’t care about my money problems? Well, maybe I’ll make you care.” James draws his Colt revolver and whips Bigler across the face with the barrel. The miner falls to the ground. Some of the redshirts look as if they might intervene until they see James’ men with their carbines out, pointed in the miners’ direction.
James continues whipping Bigler with the revolver, pausing occasionally to give him a few good kicks.
After Bigler is bruised, bloody, and about half dead, James stops and remounts his horse. He looks out at the miners.
“You ever cost me money like that again, I’m going to come here and kill every last one of you. You got no business messing with my trade.”
James wheels his horse and rides off, followed by his men.
David Broderick’s office is located on Kearny, a typical, jumbled San Francisco street. The office is in an unpretentious, ramshackle building. A makeshift sign, “David Broderick, Esq.” is tacked to the front door.
The office itself is a muddled disarray of a couple of desks and piles of paper everywhere. Broderick is seated behind the largest desk. Across from him sit Eliza and Ned McGowan, a handsome, silver-haired man in his mid-fifties with the red-faced complexion of the habitual drinker.
“So Ned, is Mr. Burnham’s will in order?”
“It is, Davey, it is. He gives everything to Mrs. Burnham, which amounts to a one quarter interest in the Bloodgood Mine.”
“What do we know about the mine? Is it thriving or not?”
“Last I heard, barely eking out twenty dollars a day. But Terry Bloodgood has high hopes for hitting a deeper vein.”
“As do all these miners.” Broderick turns to Eliza. “Do you still want to make the journey?”
“Yes. I want to see the mine for myself. And let the other partners know that I expect my fair share, if there’s anything at all to share.”
“I think Mrs. Burnham is wise to go there. As far as I know, Bloodgood and the others are honest men. But when it comes to gold, even the best of us can become more than a trifle greedy.”
“Very well. It’s settled, then. Ah, here’s Jack.”
The front door opens and in walks Jack Savage. Dressed in conventional gentlemen’s clothing, he does not look especially Indian. His expression is taciturn and his manner reserved.
“Jack, I would like you to meet Mrs. Eliza W. Burnham, a New Yorker come to settle her late husband’s estate.”
“Mrs. Burnham. A pleasure.”
“Mrs. Burnham has inherited a one quarter interest in the Bloodgood Mine and would like to see her property. I’ve told her you’re just the man to escort her there safely. Will you do it?”
“If you like, Dave. I do owe you a favor or two. When would you like to leave, ma’am?”
“Don’t call me ma’am, Mr. Savage. As soon as possible.”
My apologies, Mrs. Burnham. Tomorrow then? Dave will advise you on what to bring. We will take a steamer to Sacramento. From there it’s by horse four nights and five days to the Mariposa Diggings. I assume you ride, Mrs. Burnham?”
“Very well, in fact.”
“Good. And your maid will accompany us?”
“I don’t have a maid. I cannot afford one.”
“A woman chaperone, then. An older woman. Obviously, Mrs. Burnham, we can’t travel by ourselves.”
“And why not?”
“Why, it just isn’t done, Mrs. Burnham. Especially. . . .”
“You haven’t told her, Dave?”
“Told me what?” interjects Eliza, exasperated. “Will you two try to make sense?”
Ned McGowan speaks up. “Mr. Savage here is a half-breed. Not that he looks it and in San Francisco he passes for white, but he’s known in Sacramento and the gold-mining territory. Californians won’t go for a white woman being alone on a journey with an Indian.”
“Thanks, Ned, for that lucid explanation.”
“Sorry, Jack, but I don’t know another way to say half-breed. Do you?”
“You’re right, Ned. And we’re both right about Mrs. Burnham needing a woman chaperone.”
“Mrs. Mudge will do,” says Broderick.
“Mrs. Mudge? She’s supposed to protect me?”
Broderick grins. “Mrs. Mudge is a formidable woman, Eliza. She came out to California by wagon train in ’43. She can shoot better than most men I know.”
“Well now that’s settled,” says Jack. “I’ll go get some supplies. We can pick up provisions and horses at Captain Sutter’s.” He turns to Eliza. “Tomorrow morning we will take the steamboat up the Delta to Sacramento. If you like, you can leave a trunk with Captain Sutter but be sure to pack riding clothes. Mrs. Mudge will advise you on anything else you need to bring.”
Jack prepares to leave, nodding at Broderick and McGowan and also at Eliza. “Gentlemen. Mrs. Burnham.”
After Jack’s departure, Eliza glares at Broderick. “Mr. Savage is not exactly what I expected.”
“Quite the gent, isn’t he?” says Ned. “Old Jedediah, his pappy, was too. A real scholar. Knew Latin and Greek. Schooled the boy when he was little. Then sent him off to St. Louis for five years with the nuns.”
“He had some later schooling of a different kind, too,” says Broderick. “Fought with an Indian regiment in the Mexican War.”
“He hardly seems old enough.”
“He was nineteen when he signed up.”
McGowan frowns. “Too bad the Indians never got anything for fightin’ in the war. Except promises as empty as a papoose’s belly.”
Terry O’Brien, a burly Irishman in his early twenties, bursts through Broderick’s front door. He is almost out of breath.
“The Vigilance Committee’s havin’ a rally in Portsmouth Square.”
Broderick leaps to his feet. “Damn! Ned, Terry, get a bunch of the boys from the Fire Station. Let’s see if we can put a stop to this once and for all.”
“But there’s hundreds of ’em.”
“So?” Broderick asks calmly.
Portsmouth Square is mobbed with unruly San Franciscans.
Standing on the front porch of the old government adobe overlooking the crowd is Sam Brannan, a large red-faced man in his early forties. Quieting the crowd with a wave of his hands, he bellows out: “Are you weary of lawlessness?” Most of the crowd roars back, yes. “Are you fed up with foreigners taking your jobs? Then support the Vigilance Committee of San Francisco. We promise to root out the wrongdoers, give ’em a fair trial, and hang ’em.”
The crowd roars its approval.
David Broderick, at the head of about thirty men, forces his way to the front. A man tries to block him but Broderick picks him up by his shirt collar and tosses him back into the crowd. His men, Irish toughs from the Fire Station, do likewise to anyone who gets in their path.
At the back of the crowd Seth Blackridge inquires of a disinterested bystander, “Who’s that?
“And on the porch?”
Blackridge smiles and begins to force his way through the crowd in the wake of Broderick’s men.
Broderick is now on the porch. He pushes Brannan aside.
“You men should be ashamed of yourselves! You want to let men like Sam Brannan take the law into their own hands?”
Somebody from the crowd yells, “Get off from there! Hang Broderick!”
“Oh, you’re real brave, aren’t you? Mobs are always brave. And every member of a mob is a no-good coward.” The crowd roars in disapproval.
“Come on! I dare any one of you. No, let’s make it any two of you, to come up here and face off with me man to man.”
No one makes a move in response to Broderick’s challenge.
“See, I told you! Now go on home and don’t listen to any more foolishness from the likes of Sam Brannan.”
Blackridge has made his way to the porch. He walks up to Brannan and taps him on the shoulder.
“You Sam Brannan?”
Brannan turns around. He looks frightened. “And if I am?”
“The same Sam Brannan who told an emissary from Brigham Young come to get the tithes you collected that you’d give up the Lord’s money when Brigham sends you a receipt signed by the Lord?”
“Who are you?”
“You’re a Danite. You’re gonna kill me.”
“Maybe. But not right now. Not in front of all these people.”
Brannan backs away, then turns and flees off the porch.
Broderick looks at Blackridge.
“Who’re you that put the fear of the Lord in old Sam?”
“Name’s Seth Blackridge. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Broderick. James Savage told me you might know the whereabouts of his brother. I’ve got a job for him.”
“What kind of a job?”
“I work for Isaiah Cain. All Saints Mining in Mariposa? We’ve got some trouble between our miners and the Indians in the area. I was told Jack Savage might be of help.”
“All Saints is the Mormon outfit, right? I believe I’ve heard of you, Mr. Blackridge. You got three or four men with you. Sent by President Young. You’re Danites.”
“You’re well-informed, Mr. Broderick.”
“That’s my business. When I heard you’d come to California, I was hoping that it was to kill Sam Brannan.”
“I was hoping that, too. But no. The Church is more interested in making sure All Saints is profitable. What’s your problem with Brannan?”
“He likes to stir up trouble. Especially against the South Americans. Hates the Chileans. Mexicans, too. These are hard workers. Someday they’re going to be voters. I’m for ’em as much as Sam is against ’em.”
“Well, maybe when this problem with All Saints is over, I could lend you a hand.”
“I’d appreciate it. What do you want to do with the Indians? Miwok, aren’t they?”
“Yes. Mostly Yosemite Miwok. President Young is willing to buy up some land for a private reservation. At least until the treaties are settled.”
“Interesting idea. But you know you can’t settle ’em on just any old land. These mountain Indians aren’t going leave the mountains.”
“You heard about the killing of the Indian miners at Mariposa?”
“No, when was this?”
“Few days ago. Bunch of miners got liquored up. Wiped out a whole bunch of Indian miners. Women, children, too. Different tribes. But a lot were Miwok.”
“Well that sure as hell didn’t make the ‘Alta California’”.
“Elder Cain’s worried that this will spread. The miners at All Saints hate the Indians who are in their way even more than they hate the Indian miners. Do you think Savage will help us?”
“You’ll have to ask him. Right now, he’s not too fond of his red brothers.”
“Why is that?” Eliza has joined the two men.
“Too busy wanting to be a white man, I guess,” says Broderick. “He thinks all these tribes are dumb as stumps for stirring up trouble against the miners. Figures that’s a sure way for them all to get killed.”
“Where can I find Savage?”
“Well, Mr. Blackridge, you’re in luck. Jack is heading back Mariposa way tomorrow. Escorting Mrs. Burnham here to her late husband’s mine. Why don’t you join them? Give you some time to talk to Jack. Boat leaves at noon tomorrow.”
Canda looms over me, a broad smile on his face. “Sorry to interrupt you, boss, but I thought you would want to know that the President has just declared martial law in Nebraska.”
“Nobody seems to know.”
“ Canda, this is all I know about Nebraska.
“A Colorado football fan, a Florida fan and a Nebraska fan are in Saudi Arabia, boozing it up. The Saudi police quickly arrest them and they are sentenced to death.
“ After a year they manage to appeal their sentence to life imprisonment. The day their trial finished happened to be a Saudi holiday so the judge decided they could be released after receiving just twenty lashes each.
“As they prepare for their whipping, the judge says, ‘It’s my first wife’s birthday today, and she has asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping.’
“The Florida fan is first in line so he thinks about this for a while and then said, ‘Please tie a pillow to my back.’ The pillow only lasts through ten lashes after which the Floridian becomes a bloody mess and is hauled away unconscious.
“The Colorado fan is next and says “OK. Tie two pillows on my back.” But even two pillows can only take fifteen lashes before the whip penetrates causing the Colorado fan to weep and wail piteously.
“The Nebraska fan is the last one up but before he can say anything, the judge says, ‘You support the greatest football team in the world so for this, you may have two wishes!’
“‘Thanks, your seraphic Sheikness,’ the Husker fan replies. In recognition of your kindness, my first wish is that you give me not twenty, but one hundred lashes.’
“‘Not only are you an honorable man, you are also very brave,’ the judge says admiringly. ‘If one hundred lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish? What is it to be?’
“‘Tie the Colorado fan to my back.’”
“Anyway, Canda, don’t bother me again unless something really important happens.”
Cipriano peers at the Maroposa Mining Camp from three hundred feet above, moving his eyes along the irregular terrain, pausing at the small traders’ outpost at his far right. A crude sign reads “Savage Goods and Mercantile”. It is Sunday and a dozen or so miners are lined up to buy provisions for the week. He turns to face his band of about ten warriors, all armed with rifles as well as bows and sheafs of arrows.
Cipriano gestures in the direction of the camp.
“We will move to the ridge. Then. . . .”
“There are many of them,” says one of his warriors.
“We will strike quickly. Then vanish. Come.”
Cipriano begins moving quickly and silently down the mountainside. His men follow him. When they reach a ridge about a hundred feet above the trading post, they quietly spread out and cock their rifles.
In front of the trading post a group of miners are talking and jostling one another. Most seem in high spirits. As a shot rings a miner joking with another loses the back of his skull. The red-shirted men begin to mill about in frantic confusion. Those that are armed have only pistols. More shots ring out. Two more miners drop to the ground, mortally wounded.
Some of the miners aim their pistols futilely at the mountains. They can’t tell where the shots are coming from and, besides, Cipriano and his men are well beyond the range of pistol fire.
Several more shots are heard but by this time, most of the remaining miners have found cover.
Cipriano and his men move quickly up the mountainside. They disappear into the dense foliage.
Blackridge and Jack stand at the railing on the second deck of the steamship Vigilance. Eliza and Mrs. Mudge, several feet away, look out at the rugged contours of the San Francisco skyline. A handful of people are still boarding. Several of these are stylishly dressed while others look ready for the trail. Jack is dressed in a different suit than he wore the day before. Seth is wearing his customary black outfit.
“I don’t know, Seth,” Jack is saying. “The Miwok are a stubborn bunch. Especially the Yosemite Miwok.”
“It’s worth trying, don’t you think?”
“Trouble is, how are you going to find a large enough parcel of land, acceptable to the Miwok, that won’t someday be mined for gold?”
“Let’s worry about that later. Right now, these Indians are in danger. You know miners better than I do. They’re not a patient lot.”
“True enough. Fine, then. Once we get Mrs. Farnham’s business settled, I’ll see what I can do. Can’t promise anything. I’m not real popular with the Miwok. Mostly thanks to James.”
“You’re still the best bet we’ve got.”
“Hey, there’s Dave.”
Broderick, boarding the ship, waves at them. He’s dressed in his usual splendor. “Figured I’d join you,” he grins.
“All the way to Mariposa?”
“No, just Sacramento.”
’Bad news. It’s gonna be in the ‘Alta California’ tomorrow. Bunch of Indians attacked the Mariposa Camp. Killed a couple of miners. Happened at your brother’s trading post.”
“Revenge for the massacre last week.” More of a statement than a question from Seth.
“When did this happen?” Jack asks.
“Three days ago. Yeah, I know. The miners kill a couple of dozen Indians and nobody hears about it. The ‘Alta California’ is gonna make this thing out to be a major Indian massacre.”
“Hell, I don’t know. Probably.”
“So what does this have to do with you?” asks Seth
“Politics, Mr. Blackridge. I’ve got to get to Sacramento. Governor Burnett will probably call a special meeting. I need to be there to be the miners’ friend.”
“And the Indians’ enemy?”
“I hope not”.
“Jesus, Dave. If they hit one of James’s posts, who knows what he’ll do?”
“Yeah. He’s a crazy bastard. Excuse me. I need to talk to Mrs. Burnham.”
“David, what are you doing here?” asks Eliza.
“Long story. Tell you later. Look, I’m going to host a little soirée onboard tonight. Lots of important folks heading to Sacramento. This is where you can start being my eyes and ears, Eliza.”
“The quid pro quo for all your help?”
“Only if you’re agreeable.”
“Of course. If only to see your theory put to the test.”
“What theory?” Mrs. Mudge asks.
“That I will be the cynosure for all male eyes.”
“The sign of what? Mrs. Burnham, don’t be usin’ no fancy words around me.”
“Sorry. Mr. Broderick thinks that the female-deprived male population of California will somehow flock to me and unburden themselves of their deepest political secrets, whereupon I relay said information to Mr. Broderick so he can make political hay with it.”
“Don’t know about the rest of it,” Mrs. Mudge winks knowingly “but honey, I do know the men will be flockin’.”
That evening Eliza dresses in a striking blue gown. Mrs. Mudge, pins in her mouth, carefully arranges the folds.
“Mr. Savage is a strange man, don’t you think?” Eliza asks the older woman.
“All men are strange, if you ask me.”
“I mean educated, even polished. . . .”
“That too, I suppose. And yet he’s led such a rough and violent life.”
“Look, I like Jack Savage,” Mrs. Mudge stands back and admires her handiwork. “He’s a man to have in your corner. But there’s no gettin’ over the fact that he’s a ’breed and he don’t like it.”
“Why Mrs. Mudge, are you an Indian hater, too?”
“Mrs. Burnham, I come out here by wagon train. My no good husband abandoned me the third day out of Saint Jo. That trip took more’n a year. Prairie, desert, mountains. ’Long the way we ran into hundreds of Indians, dozens of tribes. Not a one of ‘em looked at us crossways. Fact is, without their help, half of us wouldn’t have made it. Includin’ me. So don’t call me no Indian hater. I’m less of one than Jack Savage.”
“But I don’t understand.”
“No, you don’t. Maybe I don’t neither. All’s I know is he wants to be treated like a white man. And that ain’t gonna happen. Except with Dave Broderick and some of his crowd who only care what a man can do, not what he is.”
“I see. It must be terrible for Mr. Savage.”
“Sure. But I don’t think you’ll hear him whine about it much.”
Passengers, all male, most very well dressed, mill about the deck of the Vigilance, drinking and talking. Eliza is surrounded by a large group of male admirers. Jack and Broderick stand separated from the rest of the passengers, sipping their drinks and talking quietly.
“Jack, me lad, when this brouhaha is over, leave California, I tell you. It’s the only way.”
“And do what?”
“Change your name. Change your nationality. You could pass for a Spaniard. Or even a damned Eye-talian. Who’s gonna know, unless you tell ’em?”
“And then what? Come back in through New York or New Orleans?”
“Why not? I’ve seen a good bit more of the wide world than you have and believe me, people pretty much think what you tell ’em. Tell ’em you’re the damned lost Dauphin. They’ll believe it.”
“And if I don’t want to live a lie?”
“Then I guess you’ll have to live the truth. And like it.”
An obviously drunk passenger in an ill-fitting brown suit comes up to them.
“Hey, Broderick. Mighty funny company you’re keepin’.”
“Not so funny. I mean, you ain’t”.
“Rather talk to a digger? Diggers don’t vote.”
“You’re drunk. Get out of here.”
The drunk pokes his face right up to Jack’s chest.
“Fancy dressed digger, ’aintcha?”
Without changing expression, Jack calmly slugs the passenger in the stomach. He falls to his knees, gasping. “You’ll be sorry for this”.
“I don’t think so, Mister.” Broderick smiles. “This here’s Jack Savage.”
“Oh, God.” The frightened drunk scurries away.
Broderick turns his smile to Jack. “Maybe I was wrong. Maybe you shouldn’t change your name.”
Later that evening Jack stands alone on the deck, gazing up at the stars, smoking a cheroot. Eliza emerges from below, sees him, hesitates slightly.
“Mr. Savage. A peaceful night, isn’t it?”
“Mrs. Burrnham,” Jack acknowledges her presence. “Has tonight’s social success kept you from sleeping?”
“All those awful men.”
“Were all of them awful?”
“Oh yes,” Eliza says with a shudder. “All of them.”
“The trials of being a friend of Dave Broderick’s.”
“You’re a friend of his, too.”
“Dave’s a good man.”
“For a politician?”
“For an anything. Did you know that in New York he used to run a saloon, where he’d personally throw out the rowdies? Not wise to get into fisticuffs with Dave Broderick. The saloon was called ‘The Subterranean’.”
“The same as the newspaper?”
“Which he edited.”
Eliza recites: “’Through the ages thou has slept in chains and night/ Arise now MAN and vindicate thy right!’”
“So you’re familiar with it?”
“Oh yes, it was considered very radical and, of course, far too wicked for a woman to read.”
Jack smiles. “So, of course you, Mrs. Burnham, made a point of reading it.”
“Of course. And please call me Eliza.”
“And I’m Jack. May I ask you a question, Eliza?”
“How long had your husband been out here
before. . . .”
“He died? Almost two years. Twice as long as we’d been married when he left.”
“Oh, don’t be. I’m not. Thomas was a weak and foolish man. He left me alone and unprovided for to seek his fortune in the gold fields. If he had stayed, we would have lived apart. The marriage was a disaster.”
“You’re very frank, Eliza.”
“And now, may I ask you a question?”
“I hardly know him.”
“You don’t get along?”
“James was eight when his mother died, ten when I was born. He couldn’t stand that my father married a Yokut woman.”
“Were they married?”
“Oh, yes. In both a Christian and a Yokut ceremony. So James went off on his own. He and my father never saw each other after that. I’ve only run into him a half dozen times in my life. So it’s not so much that we don’t get along, although we don’t. We just don’t know each other.”
“But your brother himself has an Indian wife.”
“Wives. Seth tells me he has eleven.”
“But that’s horrible!”
“Several of them young girls. It’s his way of making alliances, getting cooperation out of different tribes so he can buy their goods cheap and sell them at his trading posts. He’s a good businessman, is James.”
“So he makes his living by exploiting Indians.”
“Exploiting. That’s a good Dave Broderick word. But I’d have to say that’s exactly what he does.”
“But I’ve heard it said that you yourself hate Indians”.
“That’s nonsense,” Jack snorts. “You have to realize that I wasn’t very well treated by the Yokut, especially after my father and then my mother died. They don’t like ’breeds any more than whites do. And then I was put in charge of an Indian company in the Mexican War. My superiors told me to promise them land, even citizenship, when California becomes a state. These were lies. I should have known that. But I was only nineteen. I fell for the lies just like the Indians under my command. So I’m not trusted by most of them. Including the Miwok, who refused to fight in the War. But they’ve heard that my word’s no good. And they know James. Know for sure he can’t be trusted. So you see, Eliza, it’s not that I hate Indians. A lot of them just hate me.”
“But don’t you want to help them?”
“I suppose. I sure don’t want to see them slaughtered. Which is exactly what’s happening. Seth and Cain’s private reservation plan is a good idea. If we can get Teneya and the other Miwok to go along with it..”
“A Miwok leader. Yosemite. They don’t use the word, ‘Chief’. An old man and a wise one. A good friend of my father’s. He doesn’t like me much but he might just listen to me. Either that or he’ll kill me on sight.”
“But this latest incident.”
“I know. Puts that whole plan in jeopardy. I don’t know if we can even locate Teneya. He’s a crafty old fox.”
“But you’ll try?”
“Yes.” Jack gives Eliza a sardonic look. “Between my brother and me, Eliza, I guess I’m the noble Savage.”
James Savage and a company of about a hundred armed men spread out on a ridge overlooking a large Chowchilla Indian village, comprising perhaps five hundred men, women, and children. James glares angrily at Lafayette Bunnell, a tall, slender man dressed in backwoods buckskin.
“Damn it, James,” says Bunnell, “The Chowchilla didn’t attack your trading post. You know it was Miwok.”
“I don’t care, Laf. They’ve got Walking Deer.”
“So? She took off. Christ, how many wives do you need?”
“Can’t let ’em have the upper hand. Not ever.”
James turns and waves at his men. “Have at ’em, boys!”
James’s men swoop down on the Chowchilla camp, lighting torches on the way, which they throw into the wood huts. Dazed, confused Chowchillas emerge from their huts, only to be shot down. When it is all over, at least two dozen Indians are dead, another hundred or so wounded and James Savage sits atop his horse, nuzzling the neck of the very young and terrified Walking Deer, whom he has pulled onto his horse.
In the center courtyard of Sutter’s Fort, Jack, Eliza, Blackridge and Mrs. Mudge are dressed for the trail. Broderick, resplendent in still another handsome suit is bidding them goodbye.
“Like I thought,” he says, “Governor Burnett’s put together a little group to discuss what to do about the latest Indian ‘massacres.’”
“There’s more than one?” asks Eliza.
“Down south on the Gila River. Glanton and a bunch of his men.”
“The ferry boat profiteer?” Jack is scornful. “Good riddance.”
“He won’t be mourned. Problem is, the victims were white. Anyway, I’ve managed to horn in on Burnett’s group, though I’ll probably be the only one that’s not Chivalry.”
“What do you think they’ll do?” asks Seth.
“Don’t know for sure, but more than likely authorize some kind of military action. Anyway, you all need to get to Mariposa as soon as possible. Try to calm things down up there before this whole thing gets way out of hand.”
Outside the principal Savage Trading Post, Redick and Jim McKee face James Savage and about twenty mounted and armed men.
“Was that kind of force really necessary?” Redick asks through tightly drawn lips.
“Yes, sir,” says James earnestly. “We had no choice. They’d kidnapped my wife and weren’t about to give her up.”
“You said once before you could find Chief Teneya. I need to talk with him.”
“I’ll find him.”
“No violence, though. I don’t want to start a full-scale Indian war. Unfortunately for us, our regular troops have been called down south. So, under my authority as a treaty commissioner, I’m decreein’ that you and your men are voluntary militia ‘til I say otherwise. You’re the commandin’ officer with the rank of Major.”
James grins broadly. “Sir, yes, sir, Colonel McKee.”
“Where do you think Teneya and his people might be?”
“Couple of possibilities. There’s a village on the south fork of the Merced. Chief’s a friend of mine. I’ll start there.”
“Remember now, Major Savage, no undue violence.”
“I understand, Colonel. But you know I think Teneya and Cipriano did the raid on my post.”
“That’s a separate matter. We’ll worry about it after we’ve gotten a peace agreement out of the Yosemites.”
“Aye, aye, sir.”
“That’s navy talk. You’re a brevet Major in the U.S. Army Volunteers. Speak like one.”
“Yes, sir.” James mounts his horse and turns to his men.
“You heard the Colonel. We go after Teneya peaceable-like. Let’s go, men.”
Redick McKee looks at his son.
“I hope I’m doin’ the right thing.”
“Me too, father. But Major Savage is a good choice. He knows the Indians around here better than anyone. Speaks their languages, knows where they hunt and where they hide.”
“Yes, but there is something about the man that bothers me.”
“Eleven Indian wives kind of bothers me.”
“No, it’s more than that. I think he’s mean and trigger-happy.”
“He’s mean all right. But maybe he’ll hold back on Teneya. He’s the most important Miwok chief so if we don’t get his Yosemite Miwoks to agree to peace, then. . . .”
“Then we don’t get peace.”
Eliza, Jack, Blackridge and Mrs. Mudge ride slowly along a dusty trail in the midst of a beautiful green mountain meadow.
“It wasn’t too far from here gold was first discovered,” Jack tells Eliza.
“I remember the New York papers when it first happened. A Mr. Marshall, wasn’t it?”
“Jim Marshall. But it was one of his Indians, a Pomo, I think, who actually found the nugget in the creek.”
“I hope he was suitably rewarded.”
“I don’t think so. Jim Marshall didn’t get anything out of it, either. The main gold finds have been further up in the mountains. Anyway, I’m going to stop by and say hi to Jim. His cabin’s just beyond the bend.”
They ride in silence, enjoying the vista of meadow and mountain. As they round the bend, they see a cabin. A man is on the front stoop, his head in his hands. Jack rides towards him.
Marshall looks up, his face streaked with tears.
“Jim, what’s happened?”
“They killed ’em, Jack. They killed my Indians.”
“All of ’em? Jess and Brown Elk, too?”
“All of ’em.”
“Dunno exactly. Miners, I think. Just came in here a few hours ago and shot ‘em down like dogs. I just finished buryin’ the last one.”
Eliza, Blackridge and Mrs. Mudge dismount and huddle around Jack and Jim Marshall.
“Mr. Marshall,” Eliza says with tears in her eyes, “I’m so sorry.”
“They was my friends, my best friends. All five of ’em.”
Eliza turns to Jack and Seth. “This is an outrage!”
“Which way did they go, Jim?” asks Jack
“Back up the trail. Towards Hangtown.”
“Four of ’em. One was riding a real nice roan.”
“We must go after them,” Eliza says decisively. “Bring them to justice.”
“Seth and I are supposed to escort you to the Bloodgood Mine. Can’t go off chasing killers. No place to leave you behind.”
“Take us with you.”
“Now you know we can’t do that.”
“I know no such thing.”
“Jack’s right, Mrs. Burnham,” interjects Seth. “There’s nothing I’d like better than to go after those killers but we can’t expose you and Mrs. Mudge to that kind of danger.”
Mrs. Mudge speaks up. “Don’t worry none about me. I’d like to shoot their noses off. And I can do it, too.”
“I’m sure you can but we’re not going after these men. Best we can do is be on the lookout for them and for that roan. Is there anything we can do for you, Jim?”
Marshall shakes his head disconsolately.
“Then let’s get going.”
As the small party leaves Marshall’s cabin, Eliza rides beside Jack
“For all your fine talk and reputation, Mr. Savage, you seem a shade reluctant to face real danger.”
“If you want to think I’m a coward, Mrs. Burnham, that’s your privilege.
Mrs. Mudge whispers to Blackridge, “He don’t get mad real easy, does he?”
“No. And neither do I. But dammit, I’m getting close.”
James Savage smiles at the Miwok chief, Tall Bear, a middle-aged heavy-set man, who glances around him nervously at Tames’ ragtag band of citizen soldiers.
“Tall Bear, it is good to see you, old friend”.
“And you, too, Savage. How is Gray Horse keeping you?”
“She’s the joy of my heart.”
“I heard what happened to the Chowchilla.”
“Yes, well they kidnapped Walking Deer.”
“What do you want with us?”
“I need to bring you and your people back to the treaty commissioners. They will offer you good land to live on and be safe from the whites.”
“But not this land?”
“No, it’s land on the Fresno.”
“Wait ’til you see it. It’s not so bad. And I need to find Teneya and all the Yosemites. Same offer to them. Can you help?”
“I can send runners to the Great Valley.”
“Good. Tell them to make sure Teneya understands that we’re not out to hurt him or his people. We’re official now. Under the orders of the treaty commissioners. I’m a Major.”
“Oh, Savage! A Major. Gray Horse will be very impressed!”
Towards evening, James and Bunnell look on as the Miwok torch their own village. Tall Bear stands several yards away, a sad expression on his normally cheerful countenance.
“Sign of good faith? This village burning?” asks Bunnell.
“Shows they’re willing to be our prisoners.”
A Miwok runner dashes up to Tall Bear and confers briefly with him. James and Bunnell stroll over.
“What did he say?” James asks.
“The Yosemites are in camp in the Great Valley,” replies Tall Bear. “But the snow is very deep. Teneya says he will honor your request but he cannot come here with his people. Not yet. Not until the snow melts.”
“That lying old scoundrel!”
“Teneya says he will come alone. To talk peace with you. In two days.”
“Damn him! Bunnell, let’s get the men ready for an expedition. Only the fittest. That’ll take a couple of days. If Teneya isn’t here by sundown day after tomorrow, we’ll go get him. Tall Bear, I’ll need two of your braves to lead us through the pass to Teneya’s camp.”
“So we finally get to see the Great Valley,” says Bunnell.
“The hell with the Great Valley! Teneya will find he can’t hide from me.”
“I think Teneya will come,” Tall Bear says quietly.
“Because he said he would.”
I am awakened from my reverie by JoeL giving me a kick in the hooves. “You better have a good reason for this,” I snarl.
“I do,” he replies calmly. “Agent Dribble insists on seeing you, pronto.”
I revert to my Thornhill form and greet you at the door to my study. I smile. You frown. “Presserwesser just launched another war,” you say with a scrumptious sigh.
“Really? Against whom?”
“Nigeria, this time.”
“Do you know why?”
“Lots of oil, lots of black people, lots of Muslims. Presserwesser loves oil and hates Muslims and blacks.”
“No doubt you will be unhappy to learn that His Majesty’s Government strongly supports this incursion.”
“Yes, that does depress me. And about you, Roger, do you stand behind your government?”
I smile and shrug. “Not my place, is it? Humble servant of the Crown and all that.”
“‘Humble’ is not a term I associate with you.” Your eyes flash, your tone is caustic, you actually snort (though most becomingly.) “I am a civil servant as well but I have opinions independent of government policy and my opinion is that President Presserwesser is a prick.”
Of course I cannot agree more, especially as my putative plan is to unleash the notable nastiness of Boola Boola Shakhur upon the entire Presserwesser administration, leaving the whole lot of them to view their entrails descending into dust. But of course I cannot tell you any of this. For the sake of my Father, I must maintain with you a fulsome and farcical façade.
“Ah, my dear,” I blandly observe, “this too shall pass. In fifty, a hundred years, who will care?”
Now you really are incensed. “The long view, Roger,” you say acidly, “ is always short-sighted.”
You depart in a huff and I summon Asira. “We must put a brake on Presserwesser. Otherwise he might destroy humanity before we do. Didn’t you say that his National Security Advisor is a Null Five?”
Asira nods. “Cherry Churchill.”
“Aloondrum into one of her earrings immediately. And see if you can steer the president on a more pacific course.”
“Whatever you say, Loki. But don’t hold out much hope. Presserwesser is as stubborn as he is stupid.”
“Well, do your best,” I sigh and return to the sights and sounds of old California.
Hangtown is a tiny,bustling mining town. James, Eliza, Blackridge, and Mrs. Mudge stable their horses and regroup on Main Street in front of the General Store.
“We need flour, bacon, coffee.” James removes a long black leather wallet from the inside of his dust jacket.
“I’ll get it,” says Seth.
“No, I will. Dave is financing this trip. You’re just along for the ride. Until we get to Mariposa.”
Mrs. Mudge taps James on the shoulder. “Wasn’t that a bay roan Mr. Marshall said one of them desperadoes was ridin’?”
“Yes, a big bay roan with white speckles,” says Eliza, looking down the street “That’s it, Mrs. Mudge, you’ve spotted it.” She turns to Jack. “Are you going to find out who owns it?”
“Not our business.”
“Not our business? Well, I’ll make it my business.” Eliza, in fine fury, starts across the street. Blackridge moves to restrain her. The roan, along with several other horses, is tethered to the hitching post outside The Gold Luck Saloon.
“I’ll go,” Seth tells her. “You can’t go in there.”
He looks back at Jack. “Comin’?”
Jack smiles wryly. “Only if the ladies promise to stay on this side of the street and not get into trouble.”
Eliza starts to say something but Mrs. Mudge interrupts her. “Hush up, now, Mrs. Burnham. We promise.”
Jack and Blackridge cross the street and enter The Gold Luck, a murky, smoke-filled devil’s den. Four men are at the bar and a blowsy, tired looking blonde woman of indeterminate age is standing by the piano singing more or less on tune:
“Oh, what was your name in the States?
Was it Thompson, or Johnson or Bates?
Did you flee for your life or murder your wife?
Say, what was your name in the States?”
Jack and Blackridge rest their arms on the bar.
“Two whiskies,” Jack tells the barkeep, an unkempt looking ex-miner by the look of his faded red shirt. “No, make that one whiskey and a big glass of spring water.” He smiles at the teetotalling Blackridge.
Jack gets his whiskey, sips it and surveys the bar. The men are all dressed as miners, bearded and rugged looking.
“Say, that’s a mighty nice lookin’ roan stallion out there. Belong to any of you boys?” Jack asks in a friendly tone.
“Me, Mister, and he ain’t for sale.” This from the biggest and ugliest of the miners. Blackridge gets up from his bar stool and glances at Jack, who gives an almost imperceptible nod. Seth walks over to the big man.
“Saw somethin’ looks like dried blood on that roan’s flank,” he says in a conversational voice. “Have a little accident did you?”
“Weren’t no accident,” the big miner snickers. “Killed us a coupla diggers.”
With stunning speed, Blackridge reaches out his right hand and grabs the miner by his shirt collar, pulling him off the bar stool.
The three other men at the bar reach for their guns.
“I wouldn’t,” says Jack who rests his revolver on the bartop. It is pointed directly at the three miners.
“Now, we don’t want trouble here,” whines the barkeep.
“Those Indians you killed were friends of Jim Marshall’s,” says Jack
“So Jim Marshall’s a friend of mine. Come to think of it those Indians were friends of mine so you and your friends’re going to pay.”
Another of the miners speaks up, “’Case you ain’t heard, killin’ Injuns is legal.”
“Oh, I’ve heard. You’re still gonna pay. Now drop those gunbelts slow and easy and put ’em on the bar.”
“I’m goin’ for the Sheriff,” says the barkeep.
“No you’re not,” says Seth his revolver now drawn.
“Reckon not,” the barkeep agrees.
The miners put their gunbelts on the bar. Jack and Blackridge wave the four remaining men towards the bar door and out to the street.
“Whatcha gonna do now?” sneers the big miner. “Shoot us?”
“As a matter of fact,” Jack says. He shoots the big miner in the right knee.
Seth does the same for the young miner. Both men scream and fall to the ground, clutching their bleeding knees in agony. The remaining two miners turn tail and start to run. Seth and Jack shoot them in the back calves of their legs. As the four miners writhe on the ground, Jack and Seth methodically pistol whip them. In the face. On the shoulders. The sound of bones crunching and breaking fills the air.
From across Main Street, a man with a badge, obviously the Sheriff, runs towards the violent scene.
“Stop that!” the Sheriff yells. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Settling a minor disagreement.” says Jack.
“Yeah, well drop your guns, now.
“Tell you what, Sheriff,” says Seth, “why don’t you drop your gun?”
“My friend here is Jack Savage. Maybe you’ve heard of him? And I’m just an old Danite fresh from Utah.”
“You’re Mr. Cain’s protection, ain’t you?”
“Elder Cain. Yessir. And Elder Cain and me and Jack don’t take kindly to Indian killers, which is what these boys are. Killed five over on Jim Marshall’s place.”
The Sheriff glares at the four men on the ground.
“That right? You kilt Jim Marshall’s Injuns? You sonsabitches. They was good boys.” He looks at Jack and Seth with marked increase in sympathy.
“Wish I could run ’em in. But you know the law.”
“Yes, Sheriff,” says Jack, “we know the law. Wish we could kill ’em. But we can’t.”
“Nope. Not ’less you want a posse after you the rest of your born days.”
“You can’t arrest these murderers?” Eliza asks the Sheriff coldly.
She walks over to the big miner and kicks him in the head.
“Now, hold it there, ma’am.”
“Hanging is too good for them.”
“I agree,” the Sheriff says, “but now I suggest your little party get out of town. I’m gonna go for the doctor. With any luck, it might take me a coupla hours and these fellas will have bled to death.”
“That’s your idea of justice?”
“Best I can do.”
“He’s right, Mrs. Burnham,” says Seth. “We’d better go.”
The four ride glumly out of Hangtown Eliza rides up beside Jack. Seth and Mrs. Mudge slow down their horses to let the other two get ahead.
“So, Blackridge, tell me,” Mrs. Mudge asks, “you got a passel of wives like Brigham Young and all them other Utah men?”
“No, ma’am. I don’t have any wives.”
“None? A fine-lookin’ well set up fella like you?”
“As Danites, we take a vow of celibacy.”
“A vow of what? Sounds like some kinda lettuce.”
“It means while we serve President Young and the Church, we can’t marry.”
“That don’t seem hardly right. Him with all them wives and you with nary a one. How long you sign up to be a whatchamacallit?”
“There’s no set time. I’ve been a Danite for seven years. When we feel we’ve served long enough, we ask permission of President Young to release us from our vows. As far as I know, he’s never refused to do so.”
“Well, now. I think you oughta think about settlin’ down. Why not here in California? There ain’t a lot of good women here, yet. But I can think of one.”
“You mean Mrs. Burnham? Not my type, I’m afraid. Besides, I think Broderick’s taken a shine to her.”
“I weren’t talkin’ about Mrs. Burnham.”
“I’m sorry for what I said back at Mr. Marshall’s,” Eliza says to Jack.
“Think nothing of it, Mrs. Burnham.”
“Oh, now it’s Mrs. Burnham?”
“Injuns and ‘breeds’re used to bein’ called cowards.”
“You’re not very good at accepting apologies, are you?”
“Don’t give ’em. Don’t accept ’em.”
James Savage watches as his men bustle about, preparing to depart the following morning on the expedition to track down Teneya and the Yosemite Miwok. Bunnell approaches him.
“I’ve detailed thirty men to stay behind and guard Tall Bear’s Miwok.”
“Good. So we’ll be leaving with seventy-two men and the two guides that Tall Bear picked out.”
“Snow’s deep, they say.”
“We’re travelin’ light. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
At the edge of camp, a lone figure rides in. It is Teneya. A sentry stops him.
“Will you look at that?” James asks in something approaching amazement. “The old coot came in after all.” He yells at the sentry, “Let him pass!”
Teneya rides up to Bunnell and James. He looks old and very tired as he slowly dismounts.
“Teneya, welcome!” James is almost jovial.
“Savage, I got your terms. We go to the San Joaquin. All of us.”
“You agree to the terms? Really?”
“Yes. But we must wait. We cannot move women and children through the snow. Maybe in a week or two.”
“Now, old man, your women and children can go through any terrain. Better’n me. Better’n you, even. I wait a week, they’ll have all hightailed it to God knows where. No, they’ve gotta come in, now.”
“You are a hard man, Savage. I will tell them.”
“No, you stay here. I’ll have Tall Bear send a runner to tell them they’ve got to come in. If we don’t start seein’ them by tomorrow evening, we’re goin’ in after them. I’m sure you don’t want that.”
“Give me your medicine stick, so they know the message comes from you.”
Teneya hands James an ornately decorated stick about a yard long. “Now all we got to do is wait.”
“We’re gettin’ real good at that,” says Lafayette Bunnell.
The office of the Bloodgood Mine is a half tumbled-down shack with mining equipment, paper, partially eaten plates of food, and assorted debris scattered about. Seated behind a rickety-looking desk is Ted Carlin, one of the partners in the mine. Eliza, Jack, and Seth stand facing him. Mrs. Mudge is looking after the horses.
“I’m Mrs. Thomas Burnham, here to see Mr. Bloodgood.”
“Mrs. Burnham.” Carlin is overly hearty in his greeting. “Delighted to meet you at last. We are all so sorry about poor Thomas. A tragic loss. I’m Ted Carlin, one of the partners. I’m afraid Mr. Bloodgood is away at the moment. A hunting expedition. We expect him back in about four or five days.”
“Then perhaps you can help me. My husband had a one-quarter interest in your mine, which he left to me. I’ve come to obtain my share of the profits and inquire about selling my interest to the other partners.”
“Now as to the first question, there aren’t any profits so far.”
“No, ma’am. But we have a heap of debt. Which leads to your second question. About selling? You’d be selling debt and I’m afraid none of us would be buying.”
“But I thought the mine was doing well.”
“We were doing all right, making ends meet anyway, up until about six months ago when things went dry. We’ve been looking for another strike on this stake. But now we have almost no miners.”
Carlin sighs. “Well, the white miners had a little fit a few weeks back and killed a bunch of the Indian miners, including most of ours. And the rest of the Indians took off.”
“You use Indian miners? What, as slaves?”
Carlin is indignant. “No, not slaves. Not strictly speaking, anyway. More like indentured workers. We pay the fellow who gets them for us and he’s supposed to pay them. Not sure that he ever did, though. Beyond food money.”
“You are employing slaves at a mine of which I am part owner? This must stop at once!”
“Oh, it’s stopped. Like I said, they either got killed or ran off. And we don’t have the money to pay white miners.”
“From whom did you obtain these slaves?”
“Indentured workers, Mrs. Burnham.” He points at Jack. “And we got them from this man’s brother. Major Savage rented us mine owners most of the Indian miners that worked around here.”
“Did you say, Major Savage?” asks Jack.
“Sure. Haven’t you heard? Your brother’s leading a force of official militia volunteers against the Yosemite. Treaty Commisioners made him a major for it.”
Jack turns to Seth and in an urgent tone says, “I’ve got to find Teneya and his people before James does. Have you spoken to the Elder?”
“I have. He’s got authorization from President Young to offer the Miwok private land somewhere in the mountains. All Saints is still a rich strike and Elder Cain always refused to hire on Indian slaves or even. . .indentured servants.”
“Why do you need to find this Teneya before your brother does?” Eliza asks.
“Because, Mrs. Burnham, it’s not going to be possible to offer the Yosemite this land if they’re all dead.”
A half dozen well-dressed men are sitting around Governor Peter Burnett’s room in the Bear Flag Hotel. In addition to Burnett and Broderick, there is John McDougal, a portly drunk, William Gwin, an elderly man with a strong inclination towards pomposity; and Solomon Heydenfeldt, a prominent and sharp-tongued representative of the “Chivalry” bloc. The men are drinking brandy and smoking cigars.
“So how’re we going to avoid a full-scale Indian war?” asks the Governor.
“Not by putting James Savage in charge of it,” says Broderick.
“These peace treaties the commissioners are negotiatin’ are pure hogwash,” says Heydenfeldt. “There ain’t nothin’ to do with the Injuns, ’cept send ’em all off to Injun Territory or kill ’em.”
“Export or exterminate?” observes Gwin sardonically.
“Now wait a minute,” Broderick says, “I thought you gentlemen wanted to avoid a war. That kind of policy is a war.”
The Governor seems to agree. “Yes, come, come, now. Let’s try to be constructive.”
“Constructive?” says Heydenfeldt. “I must say, Governor Burnett, that I am mightily offended already by the riff-raff that has washed up on the shores of our beautiful country of California. I mean we got hordes of pig-tailed, blear-eyed, rank smellin’ Chinese, single dandy negras who strut as only a negra can strut in holiday clothes; a bunch of teeny little Maylays; ugly tatooed Fiji sailors; Chileans, Peruvians, and Mexicans, all different shades of brown. And you might notice far too many thick-lipped, hook-nosed, ox-eyed, cunning, oily Jews! I say, get rid of ’em all. ’Specially the Injuns, ’cause they’re smack dab in our way.
“Good God, Solomon! How you do carry on!” Broderick laughs.
“Sol-O-Mon. Sounds pretty darn Jewish to me.”
“It’s an Old Testament name.”
“Well, if I remember what the good nuns taught me, those Old Testament fellas were pretty much Jews, weren’t they? Including our dear Savior?
Heydenfeldt splutters. “And Heydenfeldt? That an Old Testament name, too?”
“Of course not. I’m Swiss-German by ancestry.”
“I think, So-Lo-Mon, that you’re one of those Jews that hates Jews.”
“I’m not a Jew!” says Heydenfeldt furiously.
“Now, gentlemen,” says Burnett, “please calm yourselves.
“I, John McDougal. . . I, John McDougal, am ready for another brandy.”
“Well, I, Dave Broderick, am going to part company with you gentlemen. Governor, I urge you to write to the treaty commissioners asking that they relieve Major Savage of his command. In the meantime, I am heading up to the Mariposa to see what can be done to avert further bloodshed.”
“Oh, that I would dearly love to see,” sneers Gwin. “The quintessential city boy outfitted for a trek into the wild country.”
“Now, Mr. Gwin, I may not set a horse the way a Southern gentleman like you can, but I ride well enough and I can outshoot any of you Chivalry boys.”
’I wouldn’t be so certain of that,” says Heydenfeldt.
“Anytime you might care to put it to the test, I am at your disposal.”
“Are you calling me out, you insignificant Irish swine?”
“Not at the moment, So-Lo-Mon. I’ve other things to take care of. But if you ever insult me or my glorious motherland again, I will happily despatch you to whatever circle of hell you deserve.”
Heydenfeldt looks as if he’s about to leap from his chair but Burnett puts a restraining hand on his right arm.
“No more of that, either of you. One of the first orders of business, after we get a Legislature elected, is to outlaw dueling. We’ve lost too many good men to that foul practice.”
“Excellent idea, Governor,” says Gwin. “I’m sure you’re right. A law will certainly prevent gentlemen from satisfying their sacred honor.”
Ignoring Gwin, Broderick addresses Burnett. “Governor, can I take a letter from you to the treaty commissioners about James Savage?”
“Yes. I’ve heard unsettling things about the man as well. Please come by before you leave for the camps. I’ll have it ready for you.”
“Thank you, sir. Gentlemen.”
Broderick takes his leave.
“I don’t like that man,” Gwin says.
“He’s an Irish roughneck,” Burnett agrees. “But they love him in San Francisco.”
“Oh, not everybody loves him. People of property and standing don’t care for him at all.”
“And how many of those are there in San Francisco?”
“Not many, Governor. Not many. Yet.”
From behind his desk, Elder Isaiah Cain fixes a stern look on Jack and Seth.
“So, your plan?”
“To find Teneya and the rest of the Yosemites before my brother does,” says Jack. “Persuade him that you are making an offer of good land in good faith.”
“Just the two of you?”
“We can move faster than a company of ragtag volunteers.”
“Your brother has a head start, Mr. Savage.”
“Yes, but my father once told me of a shortcut to the Great Valley.”
“One you’ve never taken.”
“You’re right about that, Elder. In fact, Jedediah didn’t actually take it either. As far as I know, no one outside the Yosemite Miwok have ever even seen the Great Valley. It’s sacred land to them.”
“You don’t want to take any of your men, Seth?
“I think they’ll do better staying here. Keeping Turner and his men in line.”
“Very well. Godspeed.”
Jack and Blackridge encounter Eliza just outside the All Saints Mining Company mining office.
“I’m coming with you,” Eliza says firmly.
“No, you’re not,” says Jack, equally firmly. “Aside from any other considerations, you’d just slow us down.”
“Why on earth would you want to go with us on such a dangerous mission?” Seth asks. “You have no knowledge of these people. This has nothing to do with settling your husband’s estate.”
“No, it has to do with saving innocents from slaughter.”
“For which you will be of no help,” says Jack. “In fact, you’d be a hindrance.”
“I won’t slow you down. You know I’m a good rider. I just can’t stand around here in this horrible old pesthole of a mining camp waiting for Mr. Bloodgood to return from his hunting expedition when I’m certain he’ll tell me pretty much what Mr. Carlin told me.”
“Well, you’re not going. And that’s the end of it.”
“Elder Cain will look after you and Mrs. Mudge,” says Seth. “He can even arrange to have someone escort you back to Sacramento after you’ve spoken with Bloodgood.”
“That’s very good of him, I’m sure. But I’m not staying here.”
“Come on, Seth,” says Jack with the merest ghost of a smile. “Let’s get out of here before she talks us into it.”
On the edge of Tall Bear’s now destroyed camp, James, Bunnell, and several other members of the Volunteers are mounted. James faces Teneya, his manner angry.
“We’ve wasted enough time. None of your people has come in, so we’re goin’ out after ’em. And you’re gonna lead us. No tricks, either. We got two of Tall Bear’s men’ll tell us if you try to pull a fast one.”
“A fast one?”
“You know what I mean. You keep on eye on him, Laf.”
Bunnell nods. James waves at the rest of the mounted men, about thirty in all. The others remain behind to guard Tall Bear’s people, who have now been assembled in a makeshift stockade.
The Volunteers ride out in single file through scenic countryside up the divide between the South Fork and the Merced. At the top of the divide snow begins to fall, initially very little, but soon they encounter drifts of five feet and more. The horses at the front of the column struggle through the increasingly deep snow. Those riding in the back, including James, have an easier time of it, the snow fairly well packed by the riders and horses in front of them.
Without warning and seemingly by magic, fifty or so Indian men, women and children appear on both sides of the front part of the column. James rides up to Teneya and Bunnell.
“These are your people.”
“I told you they would be coming.”
The women and children laugh at the Volunteers as they slip and slide in and out of snowdrifts. Several of the children clap their hands in glee. Two of the Volunteers are counting the number. One rides up to James.
“Charlie and I make it out to be sixty-two in all.”
“Where are all the others?” James asks Teneya.
“Many that have been with me are from other tribes; all have gone with their wives and children to the Tuolomne and to the Monos.”
“You’re a liar. I suppose that’s where Cipriano is supposed to be?”
“I do not know where Cipriano is. He is on a hunting party.”
“You mean a war party. He and his ‘hunting’ party killed three of my men at the Mariposa.”
“If this is true, they must have deserved it.”
“We’re going on to your camp. You’re not gonna fool me into believing that this is all that’s left of your tribe this side of the mountains.”
“Whatever you wish, Savage. But these are all the Yosemites you will find.”
Jack and Seth ride carefully along a high mountain trail. The wind has blown most of the snow off the narrow trail and, while they are not riding fast, they are making far better time than James’s floundering Volunteers.
Peaks rise high above them and creeks swirl swiftly past them and the soil is yellow clay and mountain grades choked with mud and the smell of the land is fresh and wild.
The trail struggles upgrade and chasms stretch rocky and deep.
A rider and horse appear in the near distance. The wind and snow make the rider difficult to identify but as Jack and Seth draw nearer, they see that it is a young Indian woman, wrapped warmly in blankets and skins.
“Is that you, Waniki?” Jack shouts out.
“Jack? Jack Savage?”
Jack rides forward. Seth stays back while Jack and the Indian woman engage in animated conversation.
Mrs. Mudge and Eliza ride into the clearing and approach Seth. They are both warmly wrapped in Indian blankets and look extremely pleased with themselves.
Jack and Waniki continue talking for a short period longer, then Waniki turns her horse and rides away. Jack turns towards Seth and a look of irritation crosses his face as he sees Eliza and Mrs. Mudge.
“You two are going to get yourselves killed one of these days. I’ve a mind to do it myself.”
“I told you we wouldn’t stay behind in that horrid old mining camp,” says Eliza.
“Turn back. Now,” Jack says firmly.
“I don’t think we’re going to change their minds,” says Seth, tipping his hat to Mrs. Mudge
“This ain’t so bad,” observes Mrs. Mudge “I ran into a lot worse back in ’43.”
“This is nothing compared to a winter in New York,” Eliza says. “Who was that? One of your Indian doxies?”
“I don’t have Indian doxies, Mrs. Burnham. Her name is Waniki. My wife’s sister.”
“I was. Her name was Winima. She died of smallpox while I was away at the War. She was only eighteen.”
Eliza’s hostile expression softens. “Oh Jack, I’m so sorry.”
“What were you two talking about?” asks Seth.
“She’s Yokut but married to a Yosemite. One of Cipriano’s right-hand men. Waniki says that Teneya has ordered the older women and all the children to join Tall Bear’s people and go with them to the Treaty Commissioners’ main camp. The younger women have been directed to go to the Tuolomne on the Eastern slope of the Sierra and wait until the rest of the Miwok join them.”
“So where is Cipriano?”
“In the Great Valley with most of the Yosemite warriors. Teneya is leading James and his men there.”
“I thought Teneya and Cipriano didn‘t trust you.”
“They don’t. But Waniki does. Incidentally, she says that Tall Bear has instructions from Teneya to make a break for it with his whole band plus the Yosemite women and children once they’ve reached the commissioners’ camp. Teneya knows that there are only a few dragoons there to guard them.”
“So they’re going in peaceably and when they get there, they’ll escape,” says Seth, admiration in his voice. “You’re right. Teneya is a crafty old fox.”
As Jack and his companions ride single file along the narrow trail the wind begins to die down. As they ride over the crest of a hill, the broad sweep of the Yosemite Valley lies before them. All four pause and look upon the pristine scene.
“I have never seen anything so beautiful!” exclaims Eliza.
“And to think we’re probably the first white people to see it,” says Seth
“Speak for yourself.”
“Sorry, Jack. I keep forgetting you don’t think of yourself as white.”
They remain transfixed by the beauty of the “Great Valley” for several more moments, then begin winding their way down the trail. When the trail widens, Eliza rides up beside Jack.
“Tell me about Teneya.”
“Jedediah, my father, liked Teneya a great deal. Said he was one of the wisest of the Indian leaders he’d met. Like I said, they’re not called chiefs or anything like chiefs. They’re more like tribal elders. Their people trust them because they’ve shown that they can be trusted. Jedediah called Teneya and the Yosemite Miwok, the “walking shadows”. You know, from Macbeth?”
“What a wonderful name! But why walking shadows?”
“Because they appear and disappear almost like magic. Jedediah was the last person anybody could sneak up on but he told me that the Yosemites did that to him regularly. They’d do it and then laugh and laugh. He asked Teneya to teach him how they did it and Teneya said that they had to keep at least a few secrets from the white man. They’ve done it to me, too. But they don’t laugh. Because they don’t like me or trust me.”
“But now you want to help them.”
“If I can. I think Cipriano was behind the attack on James’s trading post. He’s the main Yosemite war leader. James will want to kill him. So I need to find Cipriano, too.”
“What’s he like?”
“Strong. Very brave. Very smart. James won’t find him easily. And when he does, Cipriano might very well kill him.”
“Your brother sounds ruthless.”
“You could say that. But he’s no coward. And he’s one of the best shots in California. Jedediah taught him how to shoot, just as he taught me. He’s also a darn good tracker. Learned that from Jedediah as well.”
“So how will you find the Yosemites before your brother does?”
“I don’t know. Hope for luck, I guess.”
David Broderick sits at a table across from the three Treaty Commissioners, Wozencraft, Barbour, and Redick McKee. Jim McKee is seated beside his father. Broderick hands Redick the letter from Governor Burnett. Redick reads it through and shakes his head in frustration. “I guess we should have consulted Governor Burnett before appointing James Savage to head up the Volunteers.”
“Now, Redick, how long would that have taken?” says Barbour. “Time was of the essence.”
“Nevertheless, gentlemen,” says Broderick, “the key point is that no one is more likely to spark off a major Indian war than James Savage.”
“But he seemed the perfect choice,” says Wozencraft. “He knows the languages. He’s a natural leader.”
“If you want somebody to lead a lynch mob.”
“In a practical sense, there’s not much we can do,” Redick says. “We received word two days ago that Savage has taken a party of Volunteers into this Great Valley the Yosemites talk about. Evidently, Chief Teneya is with Savage.”
“Can’t you send someone after him with a letter from the three of you, relieving him of his command?”
“I’ll go,” says Jim McKee.
“Do you know the way?”
“No, but Tall Bear can give me a scout.”
“I don’t know, son,” says Redick. “This could be a dangerous mission. What if Savage refuses to give up command?”
“Then, under the Treaty Commission’s authority, I’ll arrest him.”
“Hold it, now,” interjects Broderick, “that would be a sure way to get instantly dead.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“I’m sure you can. No offense. Really. But from what I hear, there’s only two or three men in California who might take on James Savage and have any chance at all of surviving.”
“I still think I should go. Father?”
Redick ponders the problem for a long moment. “If you promise not to threaten Savage. Instead of relieving him of his command, tell him that we need him back here for an important job. That bringing the Yosemites in can wait.”
“Now that sounds like a much more sensible way to go about it,” says Broderick. “You can relieve him when he gets here. You still have a few regular army men here?”
“That should be enough.” Broderick turns to Jim McKee.
“I’d like to go with you, son.”
“No offense, Mr. Broderick, but you don’t look like you know your way around the mountains much. I’m afraid you’d just slow me down.”
“But I might just keep you alive.”
“Do you claim to be one of those two or three men that can go up against James Savage?”
Broderick laughs. “Lord, no. A fist fight, for certain. Or a straight duel, maybe. But I’m not talking about fighting him. I’m a politician, a negotiator. Like your father and these other two good gentlemen here. I think I can maybe unruffle his feathers, if they get ruffled, that is.”
“Mr. Broderick has a point,” says Redick
“And I promise not to slow you down much. I may not be a mountain man but I have what is known as Irish stamina.”
“I think, Mr. Broderick,” says Jim McKee with a smile, “that you have what is known as Irish blarney.”
“That, too,” Broderick agrees. “Or so I’ve been told.”
“What, now?” I ask irritably. Canda, as usual, is not apologetic for disturbing me.
“You wanted me to keep you posted on virus thefts. According to the news, a vial of Ebola 666 is missing from Fort Dietrick.”
“Sounds like the possibilities of plague are still nouvelle vague. Notify the Hague. I’ll look into it later.”
James and the Volunteers are lined up on a bluff overlooking the Great Valley, from a lower vantage point than Jack and his party but they are equally stunned by the beauty of the place.
“My God!” Bunnell turns to Teneya. “No wonder you call this place sacred.”
Teneya says nothing. He looks out on the vista calmly and perhaps with a slight indication of pride. James rides up to them.
“Well, I’ve finally seen it. Seems like I’ve heard about this place for most of my life. Even Jedediah never came here.”
“He would have been welcome,” says Teneya.
James points to an area near a high falls, fingering the Army telescope that hangs from his neck. “Spotted your camp over there. There’s people there, too.”
“Perhaps a few.”
“More than a few, I reckon.” He waves at the column of Volunteers. “Let’s go, men!”
As they ride closer to the camp, they can see smoke rising in the distance.
Finally arriving at the base of a huge rock formation, the Volunteers find a sizeable collection of Indian huts. Some campfires are still smoldering.
“Looks like they left not long ago,” Bunnell says to James.
One of the Volunteers rides up.
“There’s a stash of acorns up in some of the trees. Fair amount of provisions.”
“Couldn’t carry it all with them,” says James, looking at Teneya. “Thought you said they was all on the other side of the mountains.”
“You know, Teneya, it’d be real nice if you told the truth now and again.
Let’s keep going, men. They’re out there somewhere.”
The Volunteers ride off. Again they see smoke in the distance.
They come to a ford where the river is swollen with the winter runoff.
With some difficulty, James’s party crosses the river. Not far on the other side, Bunnell is startled by a movement in the brush. It turns out to be a very old Indian woman who huddles by a fire and ignores the passing militia men. At length, the Volunteers reach a clearing. James gives the signal to dismount.
“Let’s make camp, here. We’re not going to find any Indians today.”
“Where you suppose they run off to?” Bunnell wonders.
“My guess is that they’re hiding up in the cliffs.”
“How we gonna find ’em up there?”
“Oh, they can be tracked. It’s not easy, but it can be done.”
“This I gotta see.”
Jack, Eliza, Blackridge, and Mrs. Mudge have set up a small camp.
All four sit around the campfire, swathed in Indian blankets and drinking steaming coffee.
“You seen any sign of the Yosemites yet?” Seth asks Jack.
“No, but I didn’t expect to. We’re not going to find them. They’re going to find us.”
“Well, I hope they find us soon,” says Mrs. Mudge, “I’m beginnin’ to feel right lost.”
As if on cue, Cipriano and four other Yosemite warriors appear in the middle of the camp, almost as if they had materialized out of thin air.
Seth reaches for his rifle.
“Don’t bother, Seth,” says Jack calmly. “You scared the daylights out of us, Cipriano.”
“What are you doing here, Savage? Your brother and his men are camped a few miles from here. They have Teneya. Are you with them?”
“No. We were hoping to find you before they did. I’m pretty sure James is bent on revenge.”
“For you attacking his Mariposa trading post and killing three of his men.”
“Do you know what they did to our people? And your brother wants revenge? We want revenge.”
“Listen Cipriano. We might be able to settle all this peacefully. This man here is Mr. Blackridge. He works for Elder Cain.”
“Cain is a fair man.”
“Mr. Blackridge has a proposition for you.”
“Elder Cain offers the Yosemites ten thousand acres of good mountain land for you to settle on,” says Seth. “The kind of land you’re used to. Not river bottom.”
“How big is ten thousand acres?”
“That’s a little hard to explain. But it is a lot of land.”
“Is it as large as this valley?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen all of the valley, yet. But pretty close.”
“Good. Then let us have this valley.”
“Fine by me. If it’s for sale.”
“It’s already ours. Why would you need to buy it.? Just let us live here in peace.”
“What do you think, Jack?”
“I’m afraid as soon as the whites find out about this place, there is no way they will let Indians have it”.
“Why do you think we have kept it a secret all this time?” asks Cipriano.
“Still, we can try,” says Seth. “Go to the Treaty Commissioners. After all, why shouldn’t the Yosemites live here? They have more right to it than anyone.”
“Problem is,” Jack says, “they have more right than anyone to all land in California. That doesn’t mean the whites are going to let them have it.”
“You don’t understand, Savage,” says Cipriano. “The Yosemites are not going to let the whites have our Great Valley.”
“I know how you feel. But the whites are now coming to our land by the thousands. Soon by the tens of thousands. How will you stop them?”
“We will kill them all.”
“And I would help you kill them if I thought you had any chance at all. But you don’t.”
“We will see.” Cipriano waves his right hand and, as suddenly as they had appeared, he and the other four warriors vanish.
“I see what you mean,” says Eliza. “‘Walking shadows’ fits them perfectly.
“What do we do, now?” asks Seth.
“We need to talk to Teneya,” says Jack. “See what he has to say about your offer. And that, I’m afraid, means hooking up with brother James.”
James, Bunnell, and the rest of the Volunteers are stretched out around three large campfires. Teneya is off to the side, rolled up in a blanket, apparently asleep.
“This valley should have a name,” says Bunnell
“How about Paradise Valley?” says one of the younger Volunteers
“Merced Valley?” says another.
“Let’s call it Savage Valley,” says a third.
“I think we ought to name it after the band of Indians that have lived in it for so long. Yosemite Valley.”
“Devil take the Indians and their names,” says the young Volunteer. “What does Yosemite mean, anyway, Major Savage?”
“Huh? Oh, it means old grizzly bear.”
“Like Teneya over there.”
“Yes. Exactly like Teneya.”
“What say you?” says Bunnell. “Who votes to name the valley Yosemite?”
A chorus of tired “ayes” emerges from the gathered men. “All right with you, Major?”
“Fine,” says James, bored with the discussion. “Say, you boys get the feelin’ we’re bein’ watched?”
“Now that you mention it,” says the young Volunteer.
“Maybe we should call it the Valley of the Shadows of Death,” says James
The next morning as the Volunteers mount their horses, Bunnell walks over Teneya. “We had a confab last night. Decided to name this valley after your tribe. Yosemite.”
“Its name is Great Valley.”
“Not no more it ain’t. It’s a big honor, Chief. Havin’ the valley named after your people.”
“How is this an honor? You have no right to name this valley. If we had wanted to name it after ourselves, we would have done it.”
“Well, gee, Chief. I thought you’d be pleased.”
“ I am not a chief and I can think of nothing you whites do that pleases me.”
Broderick and Jim McKee move swiftly along the same trail that the Volunteers followed a few days ago. Because the snow has been packed tight by the Volunteers, they are making good time. Ahead of them rides one of Tall Bear’s scouts.
“So what do you do as a politician, Mr. Broderick?” Jim asks.
“Dave, it is. Not much, yet. But I plan to get elected to the Constitutional Convention from San Francisco and make sure California enters the Union a free state.”
“My father is a slave owner, you know.”
“I know. What about you?”
“I plan to stay in the West. In California in fact. I don’t hold with slavery, Negro or Indian. So if I could vote for you, I would.”
“Well, bless you, son. Move to San Francisco and vote.”
“No, I like it up here. In the mountains.”
“Going to try your hand at gold mining?”
“Naw. Seen too many folks get broke real quick that way. Think I’ll buy a little spread, see how ranching suits me.”
“A noble calling.”
“You think everything’s a noble calling, don’t you?”
“Pretty much everything is. So long as it’s obtained by honest toil. Problem is in California so far, there’s not been a whole lot of honesty and precious little toil.”
The Volunteers are on the search for the Yosemites once again.
James is at the front of the column, dismounted, leading his horse and staring intently at the ground, obviously following a faint trail.
Bunnell and Teneya are riding side by side.
“I can’t get over what you said to me this mornin’, Chief.”
“Don’t call me Chief.”
“Teneya, then. About how nothin’ we do pleases you. You got to admit we’re way ahead of you Indians in everything that matters.”
“You are children.”
“Hey, now wait a minute.”
“You white people have never cared for land or deer or bear. When we kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots, we make little holes. When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don’t ruin things. We shake down acorns and pine nuts. We don’t chop down the trees. We only use dead wood. But the white people plow up the ground, pull down the trees, kill everything. The tree says, “Don’t. I am sore. Don’t hurt me.” But they chop it down and cut it up. They blast out trees and saw up the trees. That hurts them. We never hurt anything, but the white people destroy all. They blast rocks and scatter them on the ground. The rock says, ‘Don’t. You are hurting me.’ But the white people pay no attention. When we use rocks, we take little round ones for cooking. How can the earth like the white man? Everywhere the white man has touched it, it is sore.”
James rides up. “I hope you’re not payin’ this old scoundrel no never mind, Lafayette.”
“I dunno, James. What he’s sayin’ makes some sense.”
“The only thing that makes sense to me is finding Cipriano and bringing him to justice.”
The young Volunteer rides up, creating a flurry of dust.
“There’s some folks here to talk to Teneya.”
James spurs his horse and rides to the front of the column. He sees Jack, Eliza, Seth and Mrs. Mudge surrounded by his Volunteers.
“Well, I’ll be go to hell,” he says to Jack, “ you’re the last person I expected to see in these parts. Jesus, Jack, what’re you doing up here?”
“Heard you have Teneya. Mr. Blackridge here has a proposition for him. Authorized by Elder Cain and Brigham Young.”
“Blackridge, I see you found my baby brother. This the private reservation thing?”
“That’s right, Major.”
“Teneya’s not gonna go for it.”
“Can we talk to him?”
“Sure, Jack. But first, introduce me to your charming female companions and explain what in God’s great creation they’re doing in this wilderness in the middle of an Indian War.”
“We can speak for ourselves, Major Savage,” says Eliza sharply. “My name is Eliza Burnham, widow of Thomas Burnham, a partner in the Bloodgood Mine. And this is my friend, Mrs. Mudge of San Francisco.”
“And you just decided to mosey on up into uncharted parts of the Sierra Nevada with Jack and Mr. Blackridge here for what? Pleasure? Diversion? Adventure?”
“We are here to help prevent needless slaughter of innocent Indians.”
“Well,” says James sarcastically, “your assistance is much appreciated, ma’am.”
“Where is Teneya?” asks Seth.
“This soldier will take you to him.”
The four visitors follow the young Volunteer.
Looking thoughtful, James summons half a dozen Volunteers to his side.
Jack and Blackridge speak with Teneya while Eliza and Mrs. Mudge listen intently.
“You have spoken with Cipriano, about this”
“How did you know?” asks Jack.
“My answer is the same as his. We want the Great Valley, the Ahwahnee.”
“I can’t promise you that,” says Seth, “but I sure can try.”
Their conversation is interrupted by the clicking sound of rifle bolts.
Jack and Seth wheel around to see six Volunteers surrounding them, their rifles pointed directly at their chests. Seth instinctively reaches for his gun.
“Don’t, Seth,” says Jack. “They’ve got us”.
“This is an outrage!” Eliza is furious. “What do you men think you’re doing?”
James rides up. “They’re following my orders. Jack, Blackridge, loosen your gun belts with your left hands and let them drop to the ground.”
Seth and Jack reluctantly comply. “I’m putting the four of you under military arrest for consorting with the enemy.”
“You gave us permission to speak with Teneya,” says Jack.
“But not with Cipriano.”
“How did you know that we spoke with Cipriano?” asks Eliza.
James smiles. “Only a guess. Which you, ma’am, just confirmed.”
Eliza looks stricken. Jack and Seth face James angrily.
“So what now, Major?” Jack shouts, “you going to execute us?”
“Nothing so drastic. My men will keep watch on you. I just don’t want you to be free to take tales to Cipriano.”
“We don’t need to. You’ll never catch him. Not in this country.”
“We’ll see about that.”
Strung out in half a dozen different directions, the Mariposa Volunteers
proceed cautiously but it is evident that Cipriano and his Yosemite warriors are flitting like ghosts through the dense forest just at the periphery of the Volunteers’ vision. The Volunteers become increasingly frustrated until finally James calls a halt, indicating that they are to make camp.
That evening James, Bunnell, and about twenty of the Volunteers are seated around a campfire. Teneya is off by himself, guarded by two of the Volunteers. Jack, Eliza, Seth and Mrs. Mudge are under guard near the campfire.
“Damn it, Major,” complains a Volunteer, “they was all around us today. I could feel ‘em. Off in the trees. Playin’ with us.”
“We’ll never catch ’em at this rate,” agrees Bunnell.
James sighs. “You’re right. This calls for new tactics.”
“Like what?” asks Bunnell
“Remember that squaw we saw the first day?” James asks the young Volunteer. “Take a couple of men, find her, and bring her here.”
A slight commotion at the edge of camp causes everyone to look up as Broderick and Jim McKee come riding in. “Jim, what are you doing here?” James asks. “And who’s this?”
“David Broderick, at your service, Major Savage.” Broderick spies Jack and the others. “What have we here? You have my friends under arrest?”
“That we do, Mr. Broderick. Explanations later. Jim, I’m waiting for your answer.”
“I bring orders from the Treaty Commissioners, Major. They want you to return to Main Camp immediately. Some trouble has come up and they need the Mariposa Volunteers to put it down.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“Some of the Chowchilla Yokuts are making trouble down by the South Fork. There are no regular army troops to put it down. So the Mariposa Volunteers’ve got to do it.”
“Fine. After I capture Cipriano we’ll head back. You can tell your Daddy and the other Commissioners that.”
“That won’t do, Major Savage,” Jim says firmly. “These are direct orders. You’re to forget about Cipriano and the Yosemites for now and return to Main Camp immediately.”
“Now Jim, don’t get all hot under the collar. I aim to head back tomorrow. And I’ll have Cipriano in tow.”
“Now that’s settled,” says Broderick, “what about Mrs. Burnham, Mr. Blackridge, Mrs. Mudge and your brother?”
“They’re under military arrest. For consorting with the enemy.”
Broderick turns to Jim McKee. “Don’t you think the good major here better un-arrest them?”
Jim addresses James Savage. “These folks had authorization through Mr. Broderick here from the Governor to make an offer of land to the Yosemites. You can’t put them under arrest.”
“Well, until I see that authorization in writing, I’m keeping ’em under guard,” James says in a lazy drawl. “Just don’t trust ’em. Any of ’em. And I don’t need no Fancy Dan San Francisco politician telling me what to do.”
“If you knew me better, Major Savage,” says Broderick in a quiet, dangerous tone, “you’d know I’m no Fancy Dan.”
“Fine. Fact remains, they’re under arrest until I say otherwise.”
James wheels his horse and rides away from Broderick and Jim McKee
“He can’t do that,” Jim says to Broderick.
“With seventy-two men, he can do pretty much what he wants.”
Broderick and Jim McKee dismount and approach Jack and his companions who remain seated by a wagon, their guards visible but not too close.
“It’s a fine pickle you’re all in, now,” says Broderick.
“When I’m freed from here, I will shoot Major Savage myself.” Says Eliza with spirit.
“For that, I’m afraid, you will have to wait in line. First, if I’m not mistaken, will be you, Jack.”
“This time he’s gone too far, Dave.”
“Well, I don’t think he’s going to disobey a direct order from the Treaty Commissioners,” says Jim. “He said they’re going to start heading back tomorrow.”
“I can’t imagine him leaving here without Cipriano.”
“Unless he captures him by tomorrow morning, he may have to.”
Later that evening Blackridge and Mrs. Mudge huddle in conversation.
Jack sits next to Eliza.
“When this is all over, do you plan to return to New York?” asks Jack.
“I can see that my share of the Bloodgood Mine is worthless but I have nothing in New York to go back to. I think I will stay here on the frontier.”
“Help out Dave with his political ambitions?”
“At least to the extent of making California a free state. What about you?”
“Oh, I suppose I’ll keep doing the odd job for Dave but what I’d really like to do is ranch. There’s a nice piece of land just north of Monterey that I’ve had my eye on. Pretty country there.”
“Surely no prettier than this?”
“No. Just different.”
“Do you think Teneya and his people will get to keep this land?”
“Not if the whites want it. And you know they will.”
“But that’s so unfair.”
“Yes it is. But I don’t think Elder Cain and the Church are going to be able to come up with enough cash to purchase this for the Yosemites. And with no title to the land, they’ll be driven away, just like every place else.”
“May I ask why your brother hates The Yosemites so?”
“I don’t really know the whole story but I’ve heard that both Teneya and Cipriano have outsmarted him a bunch of times in the past. So that killing those three men outside his trading post might have been the last straw for James.”
“You were right about one thing.”
“Of the two of you, you are certainly the noble Savage.”
James saunters up to them. “Well, and it’s a fine fix you’re in now, lad.”
He bows in Eliza’s direction. “And lass.”
Eliza’s countenance wrinkles in distaste. “You, sir, are an abomination.”
“Such a fancy word. I guess you’re what they call a lady, aren’t you? Never met one in my life. Except my mother. And she died when I was wee. Heard about ladies, though. Sound useless to me. Always trying to civilize their menfolk. Give me a whore or a squaw any day.”
“What’s your business with us?” asks Jack.
“Nothing, baby brother. Just thought I’d drop by and rile you up some. You know, old Jedediah taught me everything he knew while he was still a young man. By the time he got to you, he was old, couldn’t hardly see even. So just so’s you know, I’m a better tracker than you are. And a better shot. In fact, an all around better man.”
“You wouldn’t care to put that to the test would you, James? Especially the shooting part. Right here and now?”
“Patience, baby brother. We’ll get around to that soon enough.”
He tips his hat to Eliza and leaves
“Do you mean this to end in a duel?” Eliza asks Jack.
“It’s got to end some way. A duel’s as good as any other.”
“But he’s your brother.”
“That’s why it’s got to end.”
The next morning a group of Volunteers stand by the supply wagon guarding the old Miwok woman who is holding a baby.
James speaks to the old woman in Miwok. “How old are you, grandmother?”
“I am the mother of all these mountains.”
James nods in the direction of the infant. “And who does this one belong to?”
“A friend who died.”
James turns to the young Volunteer. “Hold the child.” Then to the old woman in Miwok, “Follow me.”
James and the woman walk out of the camp into a clearing.
He takes his revolver from his holster and points it at her head, cups his left hand around his mouth and shouts.
“Cipriano, I know you’re out there! If you don’t show yourself by the time I count to three, this old woman will be dead!”
“Bunnell starts to move forward but several Volunteers restrain him.
Jack tries to move as well but two guards point their rifles at him. Broderick clenches his jaw. Eliza’s hands fly to her face, which is struck with horror.
“One. . . .Two. . . .Three.” James counts slowly.
After a pause of perhaps two seconds James pulls the trigger and the old Miwok woman collapses in a heap. Without turning around, James calls out to the young Volunteer. “Bring me the child.”
“Oh, no!” wails Eliza.
The young Volunteer moves hesitantly forward and hands the infant to James who cradles it in his left arm and smiles at it. Then he shouts.
“Cipriano! You saw what I did with the old woman. The same thing goes for the papoose here.”
James holds the infant by its little hide shirt and points the revolver at the child’s head.
“Don’t do it, Savage!” yells Bunnell.
“One. . .Two. . .” Cipriano materializes in the clearing. James smiles.
“Three.” He pulls the trigger, literally blowing the infant’s head apart.
Eliza screams. Teneya lets out a loud moan. Cipriano regards James with unalloyed hatred.
James gestures to the small group of Volunteers standing off to one side. “Take this filthy murderer into custody.”
He turns and walks back to the camp pausing in front of Broderick and Jim McKee. “We’ll be heading back to Main Camp now.”
The Volunteers are strung out in single file along the trail leading out of the valley. At their head is Cipriano, bound with his hands behind his back and tied with a rope to James’s saddle horn. He walks with only an occasional stumble, his head held high. At the rear of the column Teneya and Jack and his companions, including Broderick and McKee, ride surrounded by guards.
“You are angry,” Teneya says to Jack.
“You know I don’t trust you.
Jack nods. “Because of the War.”
“You told my friends, the Yokuts, they would receive land and gold if they fought for the white men.”
“I believed it myself.”
“Whites are not to be trusted.”
“You trusted my father.”
“True. But not too far. Will you kill your brother?”
“I will try.”
“Will you set Cipriano free?”
“If I can.”
Teneya makes a covert hand signal. Instantaneously, about twenty Miwok warriors materialize out of the forest, quickly wrestling the guards to the ground. It is all done so quickly and silently that the Volunteers further up the column remain unaware of the ambush.
“Follow me,” says Teneya.
Jack, Eliza, Mrs. Mudge and Seth wheel their horses to follow the old man.
Broderick and McKee whisper quietly and quickly to one another.
“We’ll stay with the column,” says Broderick to Jack. “Where will we meet?”
“The Main Camp.”
Jack and his companions gallop off, riding hard for nearly twenty minutes before pausing at a trail crossing.
“I must return to the mountains,” says Teneya. “Follow this trail. It will lead you much faster back to your Main Camp. Take this.” He removes a small black stone from the pouch that hangs from his neck and hands it to Jack.
“What is this?”
Teneya shrugs. “I do not know. A charm? I only know that it is old. Do not forget your promise about your brother.”
“I won’t,” Jack says grimly.
Teneya and the other Miwoks ride off.
“Let’s go quickly,” Seth says. “James still has our guns.”
“We’ll find others.”
A searing sun rises from behind the Sierras and turns the earth to dull gold and sage and scattered rock and dry streambeds litter the landscape.
The mountains are barely visible in early morning light. Meadows hedged by dense forest, distant passes like age wrinkles on the rugged landscape.
The trail leads through scrubby pine and the air is thin and cold and the horses pant softly and the people feel isolated and are silent.
The high chaparral with its primeval vegetation, strewn with boulders beckons the riders and they spur their horses gently and lope easily along.
At the Main Camp, Captain Bryce Tunnehill addresses Commissioner Redick McKee, his voice resonating with surprised displeasure. “I can’t say what happened, Commissioner. We had four guards posted. They just vanished.”
“Tall Bear and three hundred of his Miwoks just up and cleared out? And your men didn’t hear a peep or see a goldarned thing?”
“That’s the size of it, sir.”
“God help us all.”
Jack and his companions ride in. Still mounted, Jack says to McKee.
“Are you one of the Commissioners, sir?”
“I’m Colonel McKee. What can I do for you gentlemen and,”
he tips his hat politely to Eliza and Mrs. Mudge, “ladies.”
“We have a story to tell you, which will be confirmed by your son and Mr. Broderick when they arrive with the Volunteers.
“Please, all of you, step into my offices.”
The Volunteers arrive, James at the head. The exhausted Cipriano is tied to a pack horse. Redick McKee comes out the headquarters building to greet them.
“Major, I need to see you and Mr. Broderick in my office.”
“Commissioner,” James smiles broadly, “I’m happy to report that I’ve brought back the villain, Cipriano, for trial.”
“So I see. In my offices, sir.”
Jack, Eliza, Seth, and Mrs. Mudge are waiting in McKee’s office as Redick enters, followed by James, Broderick, and Jim McKee. Redick seats himself behind his desk and gives James a look of withering contempt.
“Major Savage, did you hold these people prisoner?”
“I did, sir,” James’ tone borders on insolence “They were consorting with the enemy.”
“Mr. Blackridge here informs me that as I had authorized through Mr. Broderick, he and the rest of the group were simply presenting the Yosemites with an offer of land to be purchased by the All Saints Mining Company.”
“They were helping Cipriano to escape. And these four escaped from our custody this morning, taking that damned Teneya with them.”
“It was quite the other way around, Major,” says Eliza. “Teneya took us.”
“And did you slaughter an Indian woman and child in order to force Cipriano to surrender?” Redick can barely contain his anger.
“It was the only way to capture him. They could have evaded us for the rest of eternity, knowing that valley like they do.”
“Major Savage, you are a disgrace! I hereby relieve you of your command.”
“Fuck you, Colonel. I hereby resign.”
“You will turn Cipriano over to me.”
“I’m no longer under your orders, Colonel. I’m going to execute Cipriano and there’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve got seventy-two men to your handful of dragoons.”
Jack rises from his chair and backhands James across the face. James staggers but does not fall.
“You sniveling coward!” Jack shouts. “All you can do is kill defenseless women and children and unarmed men. I challenge you to try your luck against an armed man.”
James smiles. “’Course, little brother. I always figured it would come to this.” He looks at Redick. “A fine Southern gentlemen like you’s got to have a brace of pistols somewhere.”
“Now look here,” says Redick, “I don’t approve of dueling. You’ll turn Cipriano over to me and whatever quarrel you and your bother have can be settled at another time, another place.”
“Colonel, I got a whole slew of men out there loyal to me. You’re not going to get Cipriano unless I say so. And I won’t say so unless you let little old Jack and me have at it.”
“Sir, I will not allow you to blackmail me. . .”
“Father,” says Jim McKee, “I really do think this might be the only way.”
“I agree,” says Broderick.
“Why don’t you give them that fine set of pistols that belonged to grandfather?” Jim asks.
“Very well, gentlemen,” says Redick reluctantly. “Who will act as seconds?
“I will stand for Jack,” says Broderick.
“Lafayette Bunnell for me,” says James.
“Very well. You will meet in exactly one half hour at 2:30. Jim and I will examine the pistols to make certain they are in firing order. Gentlemen.”
A few minutes prior to the appointed time, Jack and Broderick stand in the interior courtyard speaking in a low tone. Eliza approaches them.
“Mr. Savage, I have something to tell you.”
“Yes, Mrs. Burnhham?
It’s just that. . .well that I would suffer a distinct loss of tranquillity if you should be killed.
“Eliza! But I thought you and Dave here. . . .”
“Lad, have you not eyes to see?” Broderick chuckles. “Mrs. Burnham and I are political allies. Nothing more.”
James stands at the far end of the clearing.
With his hands tied behind his back and his feet tethered, Cipriano is surrounded by five Volunteers plus Lafayette Bunnell.
James speaks to them in a low voice.
“In case Jack gets lucky, I want you to blow Cipriano’s head off.
He stares at Cipriano with a hard look. “You ain’t gettin’ out of this alive, my friend.”
Cipriano is unperturbed. “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a wolf in the wintertime. It is the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
“You heard what I said?”
The Volunteers grunt their assent but Bunnell looks troubled.
James turns to face Jack and Broderick.
Jack begins to move towards the center of the clearing. Broderick accompanies him for a few paces, then steps in front and hits Jack in the jaw with a powerful roundhouse blow. Jack crumples to the ground.
“What the hell’s goin’ on?” yells the startled James.
Broderick picks up the dueling pistol. Seth walks over to him.
“I couldn’t let him go up against his own brother,” he tells Seth.
“I understand, Mr. Broderick. But let me do this. I have a bit of a grudge against James Savage.”
“But. . .”
“Please, Mr. Broderick. This my kind of work, not yours.”
“I don’t care which one of you wants to die. But decide quick, will you?” James says impatiently.
Broderick hands the pistol to Blackridge.
James and Blackridge stand back to back with their pistols raised in their right hands. Redick McKee stands next to them and begins counting.
“One. . . Two. . . Three. . .”
Bunnell takes out his Bowie knife and gestures for the other Volunteers to stand back.
“Boys, you know this knife was given to me by Jim Bowie hisself and I’m near as good with it as he ever was, so don’t give me trouble.”
Bunnell begins cutting through the ropes that bind Cipriano.
“Five. . .Six. . .”
James suddenly pivots and aims his pistol at the back of Blackridge’s head.
Mrs. Mudge screams.
Blackridge wheels and shoots.
Almost simultaneously James is hit in the face with Seth’s shot and in the chest with Bunnell’s Bowie knife, thrown by Cipriano.
With a look of disbelief, James registers this double attack before dropping to the ground.
Cipriano moves with extraordinary speed to an unmounted horse, leaps on it and is gone before anybody can react.
The young Volunteer raises his rifle to aim at Cipriano but Bunnell knocks it aside.
Surrounded by Eliza, Broderick, Seth, Mrs. Mudge, and Redick and Jim McKee, Jack lies on a makeshift cot in McKee’s office. Slowly, he begins to come to consciousness.
“Cipriano and Seth despatched your brother,” says Broderick
“Dave, why the hell did you hit me?”
“You would never have forgiven yourself. No matter how much you hated him, he was still your brother.”
“Vanished like the wind.”
“Good. Thanks, Seth. What are you going to do, now?”
“I’ve asked Mrs. Mudge to be my wife.”
“And I’d better be the only one,” grins Mrs. Mudge.
“What about you, Jack?” asks Seth.
Jack smiles at Eliza. “I’m contemplating a proposal of marriage as well. If the lady in question will have me.”
“That remains to be seen,” Eliza says primly. “When an actual proposal is forthcoming.”
“However that works out, you two, I still want you to join me. In the fight against slavery. In defeating the Chivalry. In getting Indians proper treatment and decent land.”
“You know we’ll lose, don’t you?” Jack says.
Broderick grins widely and puts his arms around Eliza and Jack.
“Maybe so. But, by heavens, they’ll at least know they’ve been in a fight.”
“Thank you, Canda,” I say, the entire story I just related to you, my darling, having taken me less than two minutes to absorb. “What happened to Teneya and Cipriano, do you know?”
“They never surrendered and were never found,” says Canda.
Some element in this tale disturbs me but, at the moment, I cannot determine what exactly it is.