At the end of that time, when it was logically established that at least nine-tenths of the population of Calaveras were harmless lunatics, and everybody else's reason seemed to totter on its throne, an exhausted jury succumbed one day to the presence of Peg in the court-room.
They were much smaller in every way than the so-called big trees to be found in the Calaveras and Mariposa groves; but these had not at that time been discovered, and the pines were the largest trees our hero had ever encountered. Ben looked about him in vain to find a suitable hiding-place in the immediate neighborhood of the cabin.
The watercourses brawled in their familiar channels, nor dreamed of ever shifting their regular tide. The wonders of the Yosemite and Calaveras were as yet unrecorded. The Holy Fathers noted little of the landscape beyond the barbaric prodigality with which the quick soil repaid the sowing.
It was sung in Poker Flat with the addition of a local chorus, and danced as an unhallowed rhythmic dance by the Pyrrhic phalanx of One Horse Gulch, known as "The Festive Stags of Calaveras." Some unhappy ambiguities of expression gave rise to many new readings, notes, and commentaries, which, I regret to state, were more often marked by ingenuity than delicacy of thought or expression.
The one-time mining king, the most redoubtable poker player of Calaveras County, permitted himself a momentary twinkle of his eyes. "By then it will be too late. We will, all of us, have made our fortunes by then." The remark left Presley astonished out of all measure He never could accustom himself to these strange lapses in the Governor's character.
In seven miles I came to the Stanislaus River, running in a deep and splendid canon. The river here is spanned by a fine concrete bridge, built jointly by Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties, between which the river forms the dividing line. In the bottom of the canon is the Melones mine, with a mill operating one hundred stamps.
I then perceived that the next great gap in the belt to the northward, forty miles wide, extending between the Calaveras and Tuolumne groves, occurs in the basin of the great ancient mer de glace of the Tuolumne and Stanislaus basins, and that the smaller gap between the Merced and Mariposa groves occurs in the basin of the smaller glacier of the Merced.
Still, any kind of effort-making is better than inaction, and there is something sublime in seeing men working in dead earnest at anything, pursuing an object with glacier-like energy and persistence. Many a brave fellow has recorded a most eventful chapter of life on these Calaveras rocks.
"That's not very 'markable," returned the stranger, in profound guttural accents, "considerin' as how I come from California this week." "You have brought home tons of gold, I dare say," said old Van Quintem, playfully. "A little," growled the stranger. "The diggins was poor in Calaveras County when I fust went there, but latterly they improved."
Murphy's camp is a curious old mining-town in Calaveras County, at an elevation of 2400 feet above the sea, situated like a nest in the center of a rough, gravelly region, rich in gold.