The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Stories
A bird twittered! The morning sun shining through the open window was apparently
more potent than the cool mountain air, which had only caused the sleeper to curl a little
more tightly in his blankets. Barker's eyes opened instantly upon the light and the bird on
the window ledge. Like all healthy young animals he would have tried to sleep again, but
with his momentary consciousness came the recollection that it was his turn to cook the
breakfast that morning, and he regretfully rolled out of his bunk to the floor. Without
stopping to dress, he opened the door and stepped outside, secure in the knowledge that
he was overlooked only by the Sierras, and plunged his head and shoulders in the bucket
of cold water that stood by the door. Then he began to clothe himself, partly in the cabin
and partly in the open air, with a lapse between the putting on of his trousers and coat
which he employed in bringing in wood. Raking together the few embers on the adobe
hearth, not without a prudent regard to the rattlesnake which had once been detected in
haunting the warm ashes, he began to prepare breakfast. By this time the other sleepers,
his partners Stacy and Demorest, young men of about his own age, were awake, alert, and
lazily critical of his progress.
"I don't care about my quail on toast being underdone for breakfast," said Stacy, with a
yawn; "and you needn't serve with red wine. I'm not feeling very peckish this morning."
"And I reckon you can knock off the fried oysters after the Spanish mackerel for ME,"
said Demorest gravely. "The fact is, that last bottle of Veuve Clicquot we had for supper
wasn't as dry as I am this morning."
Accustomed to these regular Barmecide suggestions, Barker made no direct reply.
Presently, looking up from the fire, he said, "There's no more saleratus, so you mustn't
blame me if the biscuit is extra heavy. I told you we had none when you went to the
"And I told you we hadn't a red cent to buy any with," said Stacy, who was also treasurer.
"Put these two negatives together and you make the affirmative--saleratus. Mix freely and
bake in a hot oven."
Nevertheless, after a toilet as primitive as Barker's they sat down to what he had prepared
with the keen appetite begotten of the mountain air and the regretful fastidiousness born
of the recollection of better things. Jerked beef, frizzled with salt pork in a frying-pan,
boiled potatoes, biscuit, and coffee composed the repast. The biscuits, however, proving
remarkably heavy after the first mouthful, were used as missiles, thrown through the open
door at an empty bottle which had previously served as a mark for revolver practice, and
a few moments later pipes were lit to counteract the effects of the meal and take the taste
out of their mouths. Suddenly they heard the sound of horses' hoofs, saw the quick
passage of a rider in the open space before the cabin, and felt the smart impact upon the
table of some small object thrown by him. It was the regular morning delivery of the