Monday, September 29, 2014


Call me Sardo Pat. Everbody else does, why not you? You know what sardo is, doncha? It’s that special bread they bake down in Frisco. Folks claim the air got some special magical yeast in it or sumpin, makes it all so taste salty an’ tangy. Anyhow, my real name is Patrick Menahee Machlachglenahee and I was borned in Ireland. Came to 'merica when I was two. My pappy he worked on the Eerie Canal. You heard of that, aintcha? Lived in Skanecktidee. Came out west with the Rush I did, got me a claim on a placer on the Consumniss River, and my main drag is the town of Judas Gulch.
I gots to tell y’all a little sumpin bout how it all came about, too, how I come out here, becuz I am oner those them like to call “Original FortyNiners”— That is, I made it out here while there was still somethin’ good about it, an’ I had a chance to make me an ackshul bit of money. Nowadays with all the hydrollicking goin on, there’s lots of land get washed through but lots less gold fer the pickin’! When I com here a man could still work his own damn claim, didn’t need no help or none.
But that’s all different now. Takes me my six pardners and me together workin’ a sixty feet sluice together to get what little we gets. Oh its still somethin, usually bout two ounces a day I supose, but it aint like the old days when you could jest find them nuggets willy-nilly sometimes.
I come from Skanecktidee New York, like I said, ain’t all so much back there ‘cept my folks and little brother, and I ain’t been back, an’ I don’t care if I don’t, neither. I left Skanecktidee and got myself on a boat outa city of New York called the Curij. The Curij she were jest a two-master, culdn’t take the trip round the Horn, you know, and so I had me passage to Limon in Costa Rica, down there in jungle land. Took me a week of hard travelin’ through them rustic vines and tangles, with a cupple Injuns as my guides, with twenny others, hackin’ and hewin’ our way to the Pacific. But we got there, and we got to Puntarenas.
I was lucky, some of them other fellers took ill off malaria cause they got killer skeeters down there, an’ a couple of cholera, because ain’t no good water, I was lucky I had this here special large canteen carried my own so sip by sip I slipped across the Isthmus. Soon as we gets to Puntarenas we all catched a schooner headed up Frisco way. Ackshully it was headed to Portland Oregon, but had a stop there.
Frisco! Man what a place. Folks told me that when I got there was about started to get hoppin’ and it’s been hoppin’ ever since! I only stayed enough time to get me a map and an outfit- for me that meant a pickhammer , a shevel,and a pannin’ pan and a fryin’ pan, and a good hat. That lucky hat’s been with me all along, too! And I headed up this here way to Judas Gulch, and put down my claim on my little place on the Consumness. Made me a couple of friends there, them is now pardners in the minin’ comp’ny, too, Piney and Transom. An’ Cakey. Cakey’s sorta like our man Fridey, he’s frum th’ Sandwich Islands, he is.
In fact, Cakey were the first actual man I met that first day on the street of Frisco. I was just to set about gettin’ my land legs when this feller comes up to me- he’s got dark skin like a Nigro but more tan- an’ he asks me if I would be going up to the mines.
I said, “Why, yes, what man here ain’t?”
He proceeds to tell me he will make me an excellent guide, for a small fee. He is Cakey Kowakowa, from the island of Owahoo, an’ dang if he ain’t already been up thar in the gold fields and has his own claim goin’. Says, I will need some good advice as to how to go about things, this I cannot argue with, and he says, again, for a small fee, he will guide me to a good panning river, the Consumness, and he will help git me an outfit (that war the shevel and pick and pan and a little rocker) an’ we would both git two mules, and I can strap my gear on the back of one.
Now I happent to have brought me a blanket, and that were a good thing, since that would have cosset me some fifty dollars there if I got it in Frisco. The shevel and pan and pick war bad enough, that war a whole thirty. By the time I had bought us both lunch and paid for the supplies and paid the rent on two mules, I had about spent near seventy whole dollers, and I had left only about a hunnert, for whatever else would need come up.
Cakey said, though, that up thar a man must rely on his wits, slim supply, must make his shelter, must have good strong clothes, “much also he must have good strong back, because mine is hard work.”
I weren’t afraid of no hard work, that is so.
So anyhow I must also pay for the ferry for us both. My ticket was thirty and Cakey’s was thrityfive dollers on account of his Kanaka color, but we got the ferry, and left Frisco that same afternoon.
Now there were some troubles going on, and which I had of course no sense of the meaning, though Cakey seemed to.
“We get out of there just in time, Pat” he says, looking back over his shoulder at the town of Frisco as it diminished behind us on the water.
“Big bad fight happen. Sidney Ducks and Frisco Hounds making big trouble for Chillytown minders.”
“Chillytown? Frisco Hounds? Sidney Ducks? Me no savvy,” I says, intersted in the paticulars.
“Chillytown. Make homes there in tents, many Spannards from Chilly. Come up to work mines with sons and wives. Sidney Ducks- bad news operators. With Frisco Hounds, get paid to watch docks, and drag sailors back to boats. Unlucky sailor cannot leave his ship to go mines! Bad.”
“Sidney Ducks, Frisco Hounds, back there, they raging on Chillytown. Say, men from Chilly have no pay tax on mines. I pay tax on mines too! Yes, twenny dollah! Twenny dollah for year for man work mines not white American man. But Hounds mad that many, so many, too many Chillyman here in Frisco. So fight. Big fight go on, we leave it behind us. Big trouble. Where we go, not so bad. Lots of kanaka, lots of Chillymen, lots of Chinaman, lots of Injuns. But many men friends. You see. Gold work magic!”
I had to let this sink in for a whiles, but what I would find, of course, would be nothing like he described things.
When the ferry docked at Sackaminnow, he said it would be good for us to rest the night. We held the mules with a livery man at a hotel. Weren’t much of a hotel, just a little tent with five or six partitioned made out of drop cloth just like the walls. But they charged me and Cakey three dollers each to sleep thar. In the orning we rustled grub- was not so bad cept it were a dollar apiece, again. He still had not given me a price for his “good honest fee” but I was hanging on (if I could) to every cent I had. Still, it were tough. Not so tough as the steak we ate for breakfast, though!
We got up in the mornin’ and saddled the mules, and riding on mine were not much fun withtht rocker behind my butt, but somehow I managed and so did the mule.
Cakey was leading me onward, to the fated camptown of Judas Gulch.

So when Cakey get me up there into the hills, and after we had passed through Sackaminnow and I seen that fer what it was, we pulls into Judas Gulch on our old mules and goes up a hill where’s his place. Now I seen from the way he were livin’ weren’t much to advertise and that I wanted my own cabin right aways, jest as soon as I could make one. Cakey said “Oh fine, das right, I help you make house, you no worries!”
 First things I gets offa the mule, he sets me down in this llittle hutch of his. I don’t know what else you’re gonna call it, causeit aint more than a roof and a wall, and on three sides mostly open to the are. He pinned back canvas around the edges. It was not til winter I seen him double back up them canvas flaps and make it almost a proper house, but that’s all it was, canvas flaps bent round some posts. And the roof, well, it were only a piece of grass really, flowers and all growing on the top of it.
Anway he sets me down an’ asks me what I’ll have ta drink.
“I don’t know, watch you got?”
Cakey says he gots whisky, but I passed on that, I figger I can see whisky enough once I gets my strike, and then have more reason ta drink it. He says he gots coffee so I says, “OK, fine”
He pulls some coffeebeans outta a big old sack and pounds them with a hammer on a stump-head, and scrapes them off into a pot, throws water on, biles it, and there, that’s a cup of coffee. Weren’t no nothing to it. Of course I was gonna set him back on his tail oncet he seen the cofee grinder I buys when I gets flush but fer now this were luxury.
Then he asks me eff I’m hongry, and of course I am, since we ain’t et nothin since this mornin when we lit out of Sackaminnow, and pulls a can offa his wall. He musta had twenty more these cans up there on a shelf and they all says the same thing- “Mr. Cook’s Two Finger Poi”. I never heard of this none. He says maybe I will like it. He opens up a can and I looks in and it’s the mos’ ugly looking purple slop!
 He laughs, and pours it inta a skillet, grabs a jug of molasses and mixes it around, stirs that gloop like it were a regular soup or somethin’. Once its hot he says “Give a while cool down” then once it looks like it is, why, he takes his forefingers and dips it in, pulls up a hunk of it on ‘em, and slurps it right down!
I says, “Don’t you got a spoon for me?”
Cakey laughs and says if I needs a spoon, I be’s no good in Sandwich Islands, but he hands me one, and so I tried to start anyway, eating the glopaguss.
“It go so much bettah with fish. I show you nex’ time.”
RIght now I guess he ain’t got no fish, so I sat myself there and stared into the wiggly face of the glopaguss and I et what I could. Which weren’t all of it. ‘Cept for the molasses that were some purty rank stuff. Half sar, and that were probly cause it were sar to start off with! Without that molasses I can’t see none how anyone let alone Kanakas could want to tech it. Mus’ be a quired taste.
When I et my full of his “poy” I asset him where he got it, seein’ as were a Sandwich Island dellikasy.
He said he got a whole case of it brung to Stockton secure and custom, when he made his first strike. Tells me once a man makes his strike well it’s lots like the gates of Heaven opens. All kinds of things is used and useful and comes to him easy like, much never thought of before. I was talking to him this way when he takes that thar empty poy can and flattens it and throws it in a bucket full of other poy cans, similarly skwarshed. I assed him what he was saving them all fer and he says, “ I melt down latuh. Make small pile tin and iron. Sell again.”
This were a unique conception to me of how to get ridda the trash. I made me a mental note about it.
“Now,” he says “Let’s see the river and the claim!”
I reckon I had no other reason to be there to begin with and he leads me on a path heads up a hil then down again and we are now walkin in what I sees as a reckonizable river valley. He brung along a gold pan with him, since he wanted me to see I was not bein’ led astray none- this were a bonafidee good claim, and all I needed to do was set myself down and start washin’.
When we gets down to the river is when I meets Jamjob and Suthrun. They are workin in the sun, Jamjob is loading the rocker, and Suthrun is trickin’ the sluicebox. On the flat side of a big old rock there is sparkly nuggets drying in the sun- first I seen the Californee gold! But it were real.
“Howdy Suthrun!”— all happy bright says Cakey.
“Howdy, Cakey! Who’s the Boston?”
I gesset and gesset right that the Boston were me, since there were none other in the presence.
“This hea Mista Pat— how he say- Micklockhagenahee- Dang his name almos’ bad as  Kanaka Joe’s!”
Them other boys they laughed and interduced themselves. Suthrun been workin’ there best part of the year, and Jamjob, he were but three weeks ahead of me. Already they said they had their own cabin made up and I were welcome to sleep in tonight, if I would have none of Cakey’s little grass shack.
And that were it, of course. When I had set there watching them, Cakey were in the crick himself, and he brought that big old gold pan over to me and showed me some of what he had washed out of it. Sure enough, that was gold thar, in that pan, and all of it came from the river gravel, and if I would like to get my feet wet now, well, I could start working on my own pile!
That sounded purty good. So for the next thre hours, while them other boys sat on the river bank and did their little fill and wash and sort and preen, I did my own bit of pannin’.  It took me a bit to get the hang of it, and Cakey showed me just zackly how you angle the pan and dip it so slightly for more water and to let off the sand or dross rock, but I did get the hang of it, and dang if I did not at least take a half-ounce of gold, home with me all wrapped up in my little bandanner! That were real good for a first day, Cakey says.
“Now you see I no Gyp you, I telling you honest humbug!” he said.
Yep, it were honest humbug, and I knew I had found the answer at least for now what I come all this way for.
Them other two boys takes me in to their cabin and sets me there and then I succumbed to their request to share their homemade whisky, which I insist, were perty good- smooth, clear, sets down the throat all smooth and syrup like and soon enough, you’re setting there and singin. Cakey come over after an hour or so with a little pint size git-tar he calls a ookoolaylay and plays and sings while we set there, sometimes we’re singin’ ourselves, sometimes it is jest him. And the moon starts rising big and full over the large mountains on the Eastern side, and them crickets commence their serenades, and all is fine, and that were the honest humbug.

The Cosumness River runs roughly east-west from the Sierras and empties in marshlands off the San Joaquin. It is one of about forty tributaries of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers which madeup the bulk of the gold rush digging known as the Mother Lode— Names such as the Tuololumne and Mokelumnee, the American, the Feather, and the Stanislaus are all a part of the great network of Sierra Nevada watersheds which come to a due conclusion in the waters of the great San Francisco Bay. In Sardo Pat’s day all of this was virgin and unspoiled territory—men were just only now beginning to ply up the delta in steamships, bringing daily hundreds of gold seekersup from San Francisco- or Frisco, as everybody called it then.
If things had been left to the work of individuals and even companies comprised of same, perhaps it may not have ended as it had to— perhaps the evidence, a century and a half on, might not have been quite as obvious. Yet greed was the currency in common all men that came to the Mother Lode shared. Greed took many forms but most often, it morphed itself into the shape of larger and larger collective enterprises and took more and more technological forms until the great waters had been stuffed back into artificial flues which stretched for miles up and down each river and stream, and great hoses capable of knocking a man down at a hundred paces were plied against the hillsides, that the hillsides themselves transformed into mile after mile of pulverized piles of dusty earth... which still remain, evidence for all of the complete ecological ignorance of 19th C. Man.

When I first started workin’ it, I started with the riverbank of course. Must have gotten eighty ounces out of it, that first summer. People asket me war didja hide it all! I ain’t a tellin them but I’ll tell you- when I had it all assyed an’ converted into Samuels I hid it all up in a coffee can under a floorboard in my cabin, is war it is, and unless you’re a damn fool, you won’t get any ideas yerself about comin to steal it from me, cause now I gots a Colt, and I can use it too.
Anyhow I said eighty ounces, that was a lot of money, yeh and I went back to Frisco that October once I had it and once winter come on cause who is gonna tryin’ be the big fool and mine the Consumness in winter? I come back to Frisco and musta blown a good half my wad then. I stays away from Sydney Town of course, and I stayed away from a lotta things, but I had me a ‘stablishment I prioritized and it were good fer whisky and decent card games and sometimes even a good decent breakfast, with eggs and bacon and ham and some beer.
Piney, he come from Caroliner, all the way hisself in a Conestoga wagon, the hard way to the stars crosset Injun land from Misery. Misery ain’t got much to recommend it, he says, but the Mississip, and Saint Louie, but nothin there but trail vultures, he says, and the ones led him out here was nearly well that too. Had him a few Injun scrapes, and I guess nobody amongst us hates Injuns now more than old Piney. He’d be ready to shoot one and scalp one ifet one even stuck up a feather over the edge of the rocks beside the sluice run!
Transom, now there is a characer. He come from Phillidelphy and he uset to be a solid citizen and all, but when he heard the word the gold was out here, he took off from his wife an little ones like you never seen a man do for want of it, and he sold half of his land right out under them and bought a ticket round the Horn. Him I met in that little stablishment I was talkin’ about. He was just headin up here and I was goin’ back, so I took this gentle tenderfoot aside and told him some of the facts of life, which he was thankful for, because after our first spring together, Piney and Transom and then Nicletto ganged up on me and forcet me to begin the company with them. I can’t say twas a bad decision, cuz we have darn near made six times over together what I did myself end of forty nine, but still, somtimes I get hungry for the old days, when you didn’t need to split nothin with nobody and you were always sure then of an even Steven, cause weren’t no Steven!
Me and Transom though we did get along, and amongst all them other fellers there, he seemed to be earnest even if he was a tenderfoot. I asket him why he was fool enough to sell out his land underneath a wife and kids, and you know what he said? He said, “Pat, if you had one chance to make the world a better place for them wife and kids, and you knew that you could do it, and you knew there weren’t no hope in the grocery bizness like it carries on in Phllidelphia, and that if you could make it in Californee and ship yerself back soon enough, who wouldn’t try and do it? D’you think you could? Specially if you loves that woman and kinders like I do.”
I looked at him long and said “Well, it musta been some gamble, cause now you been out here two year already and you ain’t doin yet half as well as you figgered! Why doncha go on back, now?”
“Because, Pat, them is goners to me, now. Yeh, oncet I been out here a while it was the girl got the old itch and began lookin’  round fer someone sensible. Like a lawyer. Sent me a letter one day said she had got herself one, and a deevorse, and now she was take up with him too! So now I gots nothin to go back for, Pat, and I jest mine fer myself and my own dreams.”
“Seems like you bout lost all you had to get what you didn’t need to me, son.”
“I reckon it too.”
That was last year when I had that talk with Transom. But let’s go back again because I got to keep on tellin’ you about how I come up here! I did not finish really I jumpet the claim on yer story.
I built this here cabin in the winter of forty nine and that was a good thing. It has a stove, yep, genuwine Franklin, and it has a farplace, yep, and I does my cooking either way. Has me a little feather bed and pillers to rest my head, and a rockin chair, and an awl lamp, yep, and each new day I gets up and sweeps out the dust and shakes out my special carpet, was a soovenir from my first Frisco trip, too. Folks told me it was stupid expense, but I thought it was good to have at least one purty thing in my house, and this rug be it. On the wall I keeps all my surplies—a can of lard, cans of beans, bags of sugar and flar, can of pepper, sack of grits, sack of coffee beans. A sack of Injun popcorn, too, that’ll come in good in a pinch, by crackee. A keg o’ gunpowder an’ some pistol balls, an’ another one o’ terbacky, so’s I can smoke my own cigartees. Sometimes though I likes a pipe instead, it’s more homey, and sometimes, you jes aint got the cirgartee papers. Yeh I got me a good coffee grinder too, got that offa Teasewater runs the store down in town, cosset me thirty bucks. I make do with what I eat cause I catches fish, I snares rabbits, I shoots squirrels and other varmints, and deers, when I can. I got tard of tryin’ to keep horns fer trophies, though, I don’t want a bunch of clutter, so I gives most of the heads to the other guys, they are happy to hang um on their walls.
I hardly never see no eggs, cause they cost about a whole doller just for one, but if you go down to town you can get them, if you wanna pay an arm, leg, or foot t’ get some. I keep happy with hunks off my side of sowbelly, I buys one every season, that’s good enough, with a little beans, makes a tasty meal. I makes hortcakes with muh flar and sugars them over, and with my coffee ever mornin, it’ s breakfast. Any day a man can get up and make his coffee, ets a good life and a good day t’ die! I don’t care.
I grows me taters, too, on the sunny side of the cabin, got a whole wall side deddicated to nothin but taters. Takes so little to get so many, you only hasta set down a few good starters, and in half a year boy, you got enough taters last ya through as much time again! Taters is might good with that bacon and beans. Course me being Irish I cannot do without my taters and neither would you.
I come up, partly on the riverboat, the Sitka, an’ partly on the stage. The stage dumpeded me an’ Cakey off and I took on up toward the river. I was gonna git me a good spot, I was, and weren’t nobody here this side o’ Sodom was gonna tell me they was thar on the river firset on me. Cause I was! An’ was I ever lucky cause most of the other boys thought war I chose were none too smart- was way too much heavy boulderin’ thar, was not a lot of sandbar either, an’ besides, they said it was on the wrong side of the river bend for it to have any good placer. Well I reckon them boys all figgered wrong, cause the first week I brung out of there a mighty whole ten ounces and that were well enough to stablish me amongst the eyes of all the citizens here in Judas Gulch that I was, at least, one lucky Irishman, and I ain’t really looked back since, ‘cept to tell y’all this.
Yep, I had some luck. Me and Transom eventually decidet we needed to pardner up, and there war other pardners, and I guess I’m a gittin a little bit ahead of m’self, but Transom were a good guy to meet, regardless. I reckon his natrual honesty were better than most of the boys up here, who may as well been created liars right outta the fire, because Transom, when he set his own claim, he made sure that he left me that overhang of rock on the bend the overlapped his, if you reckon by a plum line, that was mine, aright and I’m glad he knew it, ‘cause the next year when I blowed that rock aprt I found a nice quartzite seam inside her was less pyrite than gold enough, and that boulder set me up for another twenty ounces all itself.
Now days when they come up and do all the highdrollickin’ like to see fit to wash all the hills into the durn sea, you can find sums like that lots quicker, if you set yer jets right and you happen to have a good vein to mine. Lots of people got claims that were nothin but a whole wash— lost lotsa money on them hose and pumps, lost lotsa money on their sluce runs, lost a lotta time cause they never had the sense to test the sedimentry layers fust. I tell you even smarties like Transom come out here, alls they ever knowed about gold is what they read in books, but some of them find that nothin’ out here is quite like they found it to be in college books, nope, cept it is true, that gold runs in quartzite, and so do mica and pyrite, and a man’s got t’ have a good eye t’ tell pyrite from gold on sight anyhow. But I ain’t ever been fooled. Even gold flakes is heavier than pyrite kind, and you kin tell jest by turnin’ it in the sun if it’s black on one side, was pyrite anyhoo, might as well hand up the pan and filler up agin.
I gots my coffee grinder, like I said, from the store here. Old Teasewater runs the place, he’s another smartypants college boy, says he went to Wesley in Massachoosits, has him a brood of little brats and a wife of course he hatched them all with. They are some fierce little terrors, and some of the boys say they is even worset than Injuns, for all the troubles they sponsible for sometimes. Them boys of the group loves to play pranks specially if they think they can get their Dad some money by means of doing so— I tell ya, one of them little varmints near broke up part of our sluice run just so McDavish would need to buy more railing from his Dad! Things like that happen up here, though. That coffee grinder, anyhow, it’s my only concession to what them folks back home might call “civilized.” Otherwise, me and the rest of the company, we’re right True Barbarians.
Suthrun is one of them sort come up outta the South, which is why is his name Suthrun. Him and Piney get along real famous. But you orter hear them two talkin. Sounds like they hardly knows a word of English. I’ll bring that into it later. But Suthrun, he come from Georgia, some say he escaped and has a bounty on his head, but he don’t seem to act none like a crim’nal to me any. Mostly he stays up in his little shack- and I mean it, his place ain’t even a cabin proper, just a little lean-to that he made ‘reiginally out of a tent and some post beam, then when he got good and ready, he mad a little roof from a dilapidated river raft, and hung it up on to. He ain’t got much of nothin but a moss bag to sleep on, and a lamp, o’course, and he do all his cooking on a fire. On rainy days he is plum outta luck so he eats down at the Eye. It’s good for that, too, yes it is. But I likes to save my dough, not spend it, so I eats at home mostly. A lot more than Suthrun do at least!
McDavish, he’s a Scotsman. I reckon I gets along with him partly for that, and cause he was borned over there too, and come around the same time as my Pappy did, around the same age s me, too, ‘cept a little older. He’s got the red har and the temper, t oo, and if you pore him a mite of whisky, well, that would just wet his whiskers, he’d soon be at ya fer the whole bottleful. That’s why I never drinks with him, on account of trying to stay friends. Hard to stay friends with a man if you drinks too much with him, I thinks.
An then the last one of our company, Jamjob. He’s a sartin piece of work he is. Ain’t nobody ain’t a white man he’ll even speak to, not even a white woman, outta what he thinks is courtesy. Otherwise again if a feller ain’t white, I knows he hates ‘em. I never seen such a skirtscairt pigeon in all my days as that man. Why one day I seen Millie talking with him, and he kept his hat on his chest like to be handled, and backed away from her so fast... Everone at the Eyeball laffed at that. We found out later that Jamjob has a wife back east too, just like Transom, only he’s tryin to be a good little boy and then someday (maybe) he thinks he’ll be able to order her up and bring her to Frisco. Jes’ like that! I knows it’s a ‘saster jes’ waitin’ to happen.
Now Cakey Kowakowa, he’s been up har since before even the word came out about the First Strike. He’s from Honnalooloo, an’ fust he war a sailor, but when the Strike hit, he took off like a jackrabbit fer the Gold Country here. Lucky I found him, too, I spoze, and he was lucky I was all green and all like I was, cause I needed somebody to larn me the way this is all spposed to shake out, you know? I might not a got the hang of pannin’, nor even reckoned with no idears about a Long Tom or a Company, eff I hadna runned into him. He’s been a good soul, too, not a streak of savage in his heart, even if he does like eating pounded goop. He ain’t a full pardner, on account of him not being a white man, but we do give him chancets to take his own cut, and he swears he’s savin’ his dust for a trip back to Honnalooloo sometime soon.
Arcadia Cosmopolitan Mining Company we calls ourselves, and that we are, cause we is cosmpolitian—Why what else can ya call it when you gots an Irishman, a Scotman, an Eyetalian, a Boston, a Suthrunner or two, an’ a Kanaka? “A right mess!” says MacDavish, an’ I reckon he ain’t far from wrong.

The summertime fog of morning hangs like the hand of a lunatic monk over the land west of the Sierra Nevada, above the sleepy little town of Judas Gulch, above the sleeping heads of Sardo Pat and his partners— Transom, McDavish , Nicletto, Suthrun, Jamjob, and Keiki Kalakaua. Great piles of cumulus are lumping up above the mountains now, pregnant with the first storm of autumn. From the valley foothills, they appear like rough clumps of cake frosting, sculpted into high forms the height of the mountains themselves and more, shaded in tinges of grey, blue-grey, and white. As dawn arrives the cumulus are now colored with the back-light of the sun, which as yet may not break through, and perhaps, over the mountain towns of Truckee and Nevada City, may not break at all today. For the storms often remain a day or two. They got off easy this summer— few rained any if at all, and the cumulus had remained white. But now with the onset of winter, the wind out of the Oregon lava beds had added a northern chill to their makeup, and lofted them much higher than summer’s, and they settled over the mountain passes like men who meant business.

Monday, September 8, 2014


 Something felt wrong. I do not know what made me think it, really, although you could sense there was something out-of-sorts about the day... I went about the morning as usual, by calling out Will to take care of the horses and the stable, and by walking Panoptes along the strand. When I came back to the tavern, we had already opened, and Pamela was bustling about, with the trays of bread from upstairs all hot, and laying them out on shelves in our kitchen. There were not many guests yet, but I looked out in the hall and there were at least four men, weary looking, and obviously they had arrived from the war in Wales, for they wore mail, and two of them were bowmen, who had their weapons with them.
I greeted them with an offer of ale, which they accepted, then one asked if they could each have a loaf of bread, and surely so, I said, and brought them back both a large pitcher of ale and a loaf of bread for every one of them, Three farthings each, and they were satisfied.
But there was not one among them who seemed cheerful, and relieved to be let go from the battle. I asked them, for I could tell, there really was something wrong.
“Don’t you know? We are back from Wales. Our Baron Anselm is dead!”
Dead! The man to whom I owed my loyalty, my rents, and the entire beginning of my venture here- dead!
“Anselm, dead?”
“Quite so, sire.” He did not speak any more, but he bit off his bread, and chewed bitterly.
“How then did this happen?”
“It was two weeks ago at the battle of Stalling Down. Anselm was leading a party to charge on the Welsh, but he took an arrow in the cheek, and another in the neck, and then one to his chest. It was terrible. He lived but a few minutes, before he coughed up lung and died. Right there amongst the host of us.”
“Anselm did fall, and at such a price! Prince Henry has released us from his service to return home. We marched through Cardiff to the jeers of the Welsh villein. And Trewidden will now be another home for Lord De Courtenay. This was also granted by the Prince, as Anselm left no wife nor child to whom it can pass. As De Courtenay rules Cornwall, so he shall now take Trewidden.”
He saw the look on my face, and grimly patted me on the shoulder.
“I know this is hard to take, lad. But These things do happen in war.”
I could hardly think of what to do. My first thought was to close the tavern for the day, but then, I would lose any business, and this would not be a good idea. The most I might do for now would be to hang Anselm’s coat of arms from a prominent place on the wall.
“Do not be surprised, then, sire, if Lord De Courtenay himself comes to this place to sup. He will be traveling back from Wales soon, and overseeing the changes to the castle. And he will bring man in his train that will also eat here. Business will be good for you.”
This was hardly any consolation. My good friend Anselm, dead! For that was how I thought of him, now. I needed to get my mind around this, and it was hard. In the last year then I had lost to war the most favorable adults in my life, my benefactors, Richard Stephen’s father, and Anselm, my patron and landlord. I would have to tell Mary. I would need to tell the entire group of my employees, and Clarence and Ranulf, too.
The men continued to munch on their loaves, drank from their pitcher, and then they asked for a chicken, spitted, that they could share among themselves. I nodded, and went back into the kitchen.
Pamela was fixing a large tub of salad, when I came through the door. She saw the look in my eyes, she must have, for all she said was “What is wrong, Julian?.”
“Pamela, it is terrible, the Baron Anselm is dead. He was killed in Wales. He will only be coming back to Trewidden to be buried. The castle has now passed to Lord De Courtenay.”
This news took her aback as well. There was a pause, a silence, and into it, Mary walked.
“Julian, what ever is wrong?” she asked “I can see it in your eyes. You never are like this, unless something is wrong.”
“Mary, Anselm is dead. He died in Wales a fortnight ago.”
She brought her hand to her mouth in an expression of shock, and began to cry.
“That is truly hard.”
“Anselm was one of the few men here we could trust. Even as he fought Henry he kept an ear out for us and the cause. Now De Courtenay will have Trewidden. The dregs who rule the castle will now be our new landlords. And we must now be oh so careful about our speech! Even more than we were before.”
“Julian, now what? I had the ale ready for Anselm, we were going to bring it up to him in two more days.”
“I think for now, we can ignore the order for the castle. And until De Courtenay comes to call on us, let us just continue on, as though the castle and Anselm are no longer there. For they aren’t, any longer, for us to consider as any kind of refuge.”
Now Pamela and Mary were both crying. I had never been in the presence of crying women before, so I hardly knew what to do. Instead, I told Pamela to see to the chicken for the soldiers, and Mary and I went out to the bowling lawn with the dog, to sit on the bench. She held my hand and fought back her tears.
I did not know what I could do, but in my sorrow, when it came to the end of the evening, I took Wilmot aside, and had Ranulf beside me as well, and we played a dirge meant in memory of Baron Anselm. Wilmot’s vielle sobbed long, drawn out cries while Ranulf’s pipes evoked what I felt was maybe the very spirit of Anselm himself, beside us. Perhaps he was there, as we played for our pain and grief, and the people who sat at the tables all were silent while we played, obviously thinking of what they had lost as well.
For what we had lost was not only our lord and liege, and someone who kept our faith and secrets, but we had all lost a friend, someone who had used his power with care, and wisely, who had ruled kindly and well, and had never given cause for any of us to hate nor despise him, for he had been fair and evenhanded, and nothing like the new men who now took his place. If there were such a thing as a scourge by brimstone, it would be fair to say, I felt, that the people listening to us as we played would have preferred Trewidden be burnt to ash with it, than to know it had fallen to the hands of such cruel despots. But that was how things truly were, and when we finished, all three of us had tears in our eyes, so did many of the people, and they called out a hearty “three cheers for our late Baron, Anselm of Newlyn! May his memory live long beyond him!”

Mary and I had an afternoon to ourselves, at long last. With Clarence, Wilmot, Pamela and Deprez taking care of the tavern, we decide to make our own day out of it, and made preparation to have our afternoon supper in a refreshing way.
Mary put all the ingredients for our meal into a large basket she covered with a light cloth. There was bread, cheese, half a hen well-roasted, there were pickled beets and strawberries and a small jug of wine, which we would both share. There was a place I knew— up on the heath before the Glen of Trewidden— which was grassy, and not grazed nor plowed, but wild as the ancient hills, and from this spot we might overlook all of Newlyn, Penzance to our left, the sea, the Mount, and of course, we had an eye to our own cypress tree line, and how it led to the beach.
I held her in my arms and told her how I felt very happy we would be a family.
“At long last, we will need to think of more than ourselves,” she reminded me.
“Oh, it has been a while since I even gave myself much thought,” I answered. “It has been difficult making our idea for the tavern work. That has taken so much of my attention, I have probably failed people like Ranulf in remembering they need to eat too. It has been horrible what we have seen the castle become while Anselm has been away. And it is sometimes frustrating just getting the things I need from the shops or the market fair. But we have done fair.”
“I think we should have to do better.”
“I feel I should by certes do better, toward those who are my friends. But we give Stephen our money for honey, we give Albertus money for wine, we help Wilmot and Jack of Rowe and others like them (and Ranulf) someplace they might make some coin. Soon we shall have one more mouth to feed, and they will answer us with no fair amount of noise, if we cannot deliver. But one day... one day, those new little hands will be along here to help us as well.”
“So I know, yes, Julian, so I know. Listen, I have no doubt we will succeed. We are succeeding, are we not? And each week we hear new tales of people that tell us how far and wide our place is become known. I am glad for this. Aren’t you?”
“True, it makes me smile. But only when those that tell it make it a point to come back.”
“I feel for Stephen and Roger. Now that they have left again for France, one hopes their trips will be assured of safety. Now that the French are stirred against England, Albertus may have an even harder time than he did in the spring, being assured of a port, or of any sort of landing.”
“Well Albertus did bring us that good wine. Did you know, Julian, there is much wine which was taken at sea by English raiders, and that in Dartmouth they have been selling it at a huge profit?”
“I had not heard that.”
“Well, this is something my friends have told me. And we could have some of that, if you were...”
“No, I have already sealed my deals with Albertus, he will be my main supply, now that we cannot count on Anselm, and that the castle has all but locked up their stores.”
“It is said that at the castle, they have brought some of that captured French wine too, and it is a glut upon them.”
“Much is a glut upon them, This I would not be surprised to hear. And anyway, they have allies on that side of the Lizard, even if they do not have many here.”
The dippers were singing in the trees, and our little shady spot had begun to catch more of the direct light from the sun, but between cups of wine and bites of food, Mary made me feel back where we were when younger in Cheshire a year or two ago, when we had rolled ourselves silly in the hayfields of May, and all was radiant about her, as though she not only carried my child, but a secret of the universe inside her. I was grateful for those moments, whenever I might find them, for those were the moments when I was assured by my soul that time is endless and wherever we are in our lives, there is so much more beyond ourselves and yet we are that as well, there is never a need to feel real fear, when you have this peace of God. And that we too were part of this great chain of being stretching out beyond us into the lives of our children and theirs, and that all things were as they should be, and there was naught to argue, but for the inconveniences of men.
That was my state of mind. As the sun grew hotter we moved closer toward the trees and the shade, and our dog Panoptes sat panting beside us. I put my attention upon him, and tossed to him a stick, and he made a game out of going to catch it, further and further away each time.
And we lay there talking, the sky above Cornwall quite blue, empty of cloud, bees buzzing in the tall clover, jack-in-the-pulpits winking purple and green at us, the high grass—waist high where we yet had to tamp it down. In our basket the meal she had made up for us.
Mary’s kiss brought me to my senses, an refreshed it, again and again. For now, a few hours at least, I was no longer “Julian of the Fallen Lady,” but traveling minstrel Julian in my Chester-dress holding the Queen of the May in my arms, her kiss soft, sweet, wet, and fulfilling.
    It were not long ‘afore the desire within us both caught flame, burst forth, and we sweating couple together upon the blanket we had brought. Conclusion gave us both another chance to begin whatever conversation we’d neglected. But there was no need to talk.
It was only a man and his wife, lying beside each other on a hot summer’s day. The calls of a heron could be heard echoing up from the glen, and of course the dippers, clappers, and divers, all the water birds raucous and declaring the bounty of River Coombe as their own.
“Was Deftwulf of Ravenglass really a French spy?” was the first thing Mary asked me, when she had at last recovered the mood of speaking.
“Was he? I never asked.”
“Ranulf thought he was.”
“So he told me. Even if he was, I have made up my mind— I shall have no part in anyone’s troubles. Even if it be on behalf of our cause! I have lost my dear friend, again. It hurts me sore. And what if he were a spy, and Aleuderis too, and what if Clarence, Wilmot, Claire, and even Pamela- what if all of our friends were spies? It matters not a whit to me! For all I wish to do is keep on loving you, dear Mary. Our love surpasses what is here of this world— which hangs like dross upon the great tapestry of the Master Weaver. All the struggle of this world! It’s just—it’s just not real, though we do our best to convince ourselves. And then, we finally die of it. No, the weave of he Master Weaver is not really of this life. You miss the pattern by seeking the warp and woof alone.”
“Sometimes, Julian, you astound me. I never think of such things!”
“I know it. But that is something I like about you, since you concern yourself with what is important to the two of us, while I— I guess sometimes all that consumes me are things outside what most people think are important. Just, sometimes, I feel I nee a break from worry, and I like to remember we’re not put here to worry, but to love, and live!”
“More deep waters from my complicated husband” She laughed, and came closer to me.
“All the better for my appreciation of you.”
Again we were lost in each other’s kisses, for a time.

When the sun was halfway to the sea, we gathered everything and returned home.
Moselles stood at the top of the stair, a reminder that “the real world” still existed.
“Julian! Good day! Listen! I have some good news for you! Remember when the Devons said they were requiring us to send them food?”
I did recall, and thought it quite strange they had never but sent us an order even once. Instead, they had come down upon me like locusts to punish me for my song, and the “crimes” of young Wilmot. Anyway, could Moselles have to say I wondered.
“Well, what about it?”
“They have let me know they will buy all my hot cross buns this week! Buy them!”
“What will it mean to our profits?”
“It should bring us at least pair of tuppence.”
“And they said they would pay us?”
“Yes, yes! That Beaufort fellow. I took his bond, he’s ordered three baker’s dozens! Zat is usually vut ve lay out in a veek! And he offered down payment of three farthings, and said ze rest will come- on delivairy!”
Well, I knew what that meant. Saddle Magdalene and store the buns in a hamper and ride to the castle... and speak to them. I did not relish these thoughts. And this really wasn’t that much to get all excited about. I sensed, rather, Moselles was trying to tell me something about how the castle men were... softening toward me.
Moselles disappeared back into his bakery, and I ducked into the kitchen through the back way.
We put aside our worries, for there was always the tavern, more a barrel of monkeys than ever when we returned there, what with the singing of Wilmot in his quavering voice, and the slamming of cups and plates on tables, the shouts of diners, the hustle of Pamela and Deprez to keep up with their demands. I took over the seat by the hearth from Wilmot, and sang:
I own my sock, I own my soul
I own everything in my control
Hole in my sock, hole in the coal
You best not meet up with me when I’m on the troll

A basket here and a casket there
And of your own acts, may you despair
I have blown my fortune on kingdom come
my life a tale most venturesome

you never met a man like me
I’m fleet an heat and bound for Picardy
I work all night with a bottle in my hand
My geese and pen are at my own command!

Let’s eat our meat and drink our wine
While on the world it’s ours to dine
meat and wine, mud and clay
We’ll all meet there on Judgment Day!
And in the morning I took Magdalene for her ride, and Panoptes for his run alongside, and I ended up again looking out to sea over the south toward France, the France I had seen and now remembered, even as Saint Michel’s Mount remained a blur at the edge of my eye.
I paused there to rethink- quite unlike yesterday, when I had felt so pure and part of everything that a star might have fallen and I should never have paid any mind, it was the remembrance of my friends no longer with me that I considered. Richard, Stephen’s father, perhaps the first of all my benefactor if I  discount Porcull, killed by a pair of knights intent on robbing him at sword point. Anselm, my worthy patron, perhaps the most just of men, if Richard had been the kindest, laid low by an arrow in the heat of battle. Why should it be that the best, the kindest, the most just, should all be laid down by those so unworthy of ever being so described, and why take them away from those of us who need the help, the kindnesses, the good decisions, the fair treatment? Why were we again yet under the wheel of the unworthy, the plain, the mediocre, the powerful with an eye to more power? I had no answer for this, for it seemed this was separate and apart from the answers that I felt I had been party to on the afternoon just passed.
I felt for Wales, for I knew without any doubt the rebellion despite the French, would fail. Without Anselm, even those of us far from home, we from Cheshire, exiled here in Cornwall, would hardly have much chance to see a free Cheshire, apart form the “Prince of Wales,” that title so self-amended and added to that of the Crown Prince of England. And I knew there would come a time, perhaps, even when Owain Glyndwyr in his glory could not overcome the strength of all the nobility of Britain arrayed against him, and that there would be no end to the derision, and the division, of the people of Wales from the language and the errors of the Crown. A dream, a fleeting dream, a great dream, but a dream no less. So it was, and the waves washed the sands, and I turned back for home, my heart a burden of care.

From the History of Pamela of Chester: The Failure of the Rebellion
My winter of 1404 had some desperation. News came to us of the death of the good Baron Anselm: Now it would be so that the castle Trewydden would revert into the very hands of the men who had been oppressing the nearby Cornish- not only that, but De Courtenay would now become our good Julian’s landlord—very likely the rent on Julian’s house, as well as the tax he would pay on his tavern, would rise, as well, it was quite likely that the new castle tenants would raise the stakes of the voluntarily tithe my friend Mary paid them in ale. In the midst of this, we learned Mary was pregnant, and she would, the next year, give birth to a little girl, whom she and Julian named Aslaine. But before she was born, the war in Wales took a very dark turn.
Owain Glyndwyr had won a precious victory in the very battle which took the life of Anselm, Stalling Down. But it was not followed up with more of the same. Indeed. While Julian himself spoke to me that now he felt sure the cause could not be won, King Henry next won two more victories which would, in time, be seen as turning back the tide of independence for the Welsh. The first of these was Grosmont, which came in January of the year 1405. Eight hundred Welsh and allies were killed, and no prisoners taken save one high ranking man, whom King Henry allowed to be ransomed later. Prince Henry had won the battle, and so he would go on to win another, Mrydd-y-Pull, in March. This was won even before the men of Charles VI arrived in Wales and were put into Owain’s campaigns. At this battle, some fifteen hundred Welshmen perished, among these Glyndwyr’s younger brother, Tudor. His son Gryffdd was taken prisoner, and sent to the Tower, and so, Owain Glyndwyr would spend the next four years fighting more defensively than ever, as King Henry himself now took to campaigning, returning to Wales.
In June and July he attempted one more gallant sortie over the borders in Worcestershire, and took to the very city walls again lands near Shrewsbury, as a hundred and forty French ships under command of Jean de Rieux the Marichal of France, and Sire de Hugueville sailed from Brest, and gave themselves to fight for Glyndwyr. Even still, the armies of the Henrys prevailed. The fighting in Hereford and at Shrewsbury was so fierce even the “brave” Crown Prince took flight, joining his father in the south, and then, together they again saw fit to drive upward to Wales. Glyndwyr took to the mountains eventually and fought by intermittent raiding. Many of the gentle people of South Wales took advantage of the King’s grace, and were taken back to be Englishmen again, foreswearing all further attempts toward independence. The entire affair of course took years to run to completion, but the dreams of we Cheshires remained but only that. The English Saxons might rule over us forever. Sic Propono, Hr yn byw Cymru!