A Deal in Wheat And Other Stories
preserved. But Karslake, being a young man not very much given to introspection, his
work is more a picture of things seen than a transcription of things thought. However, one
may read between the lines; the very breaks are eloquent, while the break at the end
speaks with a significance that no words could attain.
The manuscript in itself is interesting. It is written partly in pencil, partly in ink (no doubt
from a fountain pen), on sheets of manila paper torn from some sort of long and narrow
account-book. In two or three places there are smudges where the powder-blackened
finger and thumb held the sheets momentarily. I would give much to own it, but Tejada
will not give it up without Bass's permission, and Bass has gone to the Klondike.
As to Karslake himself. He was born in Raleigh, in North Carolina, in 1868, studied law
at the State University, and went to the Bahamas in 1885 with the members of a
government coast survey commission. Gave up the practice of law and "went in" for
fiction and the study of the ethnology of North America about 1887. He was unmarried.
The reasons for his enlisting have long been misunderstood. It was known that at the time
of his death he was a member of B Troop of the Sixth Regiment of United States Cavalry,
and it was assumed that because of this fact Karslake was in financial difficulties and not
upon good terms with his family. All this, of course, is untrue, and I have every reason to
believe that Karslake at this time was planning a novel of military life in the Southwest,
and, wishing to get in closer touch with the milieu of the story, actually enlisted in order
to be able to write authoritatively. He saw no active service until the time when his
narrative begins. The year of his death is uncertain. It was in the spring probably of 1896,
in the twenty-eighth year of his age.
There is no doubt he would have become in time a great writer. A young man of twenty-
eight who had so lively a sense of the value of accurate observation, and so eager a desire
to produce that in the very face of death he could faithfully set down a description of his
surroundings, actually laying down the rifle to pick up the pen, certainly was possessed of
"They came in sight early this morning just after we had had breakfast and had broken
camp. The four of us--'Bunt,' 'Idaho,' Estorijo and myself--were jogging on to the
southward and had just come up out of the dry bed of some water-hole--the alkali was
white as snow in the crevices--when Idaho pointed them out to us, three to the rear, two
on one side, one on the other and--very far away--two ahead. Five minutes before, the
desert was as empty as the flat of my hand. They seemed literally to have grown out of
the sage-brush. We took them in through my field-glasses and Bunt made sure they were
an outlying band of Hunt-in-the-Morning's Bucks. I had thought, and so had all of us, that
the rest of the boys had rounded up the whole of the old man's hostiles long since. We are
at a loss to account for these fellows here. They seem to be well mounted.
"We held a council of war from the saddle without halting, but there seemed very little to
be done--but to go right along and wait for developments. At about eleven we found