18 Bret harte's choice bits.
a triangular valley, between two hills and a river.
The only outlet was a steep trail over the summit
of a hill that faced the cabin, now illuminated by
the rising moon. The suffering woman might have
seen it from the rude bunk whereon she lay,—seen
it winding like a silver thread until it was lost in
the stars above.
A fire of withered pine-boughs added sociability
to the gathering. By degrees the natural levity of
Roaring Camp returned. Bets were freely offered
and taken regarding the result. Three to five that
" Sal would get through with it;" even, that the
child would survive; side bets as to the sex and
complexion of the coming stranger. In the midst
of an excited discussion, an exclamation came from
those nearest the door, and the camp stopped to
listen. Above the swaying and moaning of the
pines, the swift rush of the river, and the crackling
of the fire, rose a sharp, querulous cry,—a cry
unlike anything heard before in the camp. The
pines stopped moaning, the river ceased to rush,
and the fire to crackle. It seemed as if Nature had
stopped to listen too.
The camp rose to its feet as one man ! It was
proposed to explode a barrel of gunpowder, but, in
consideration of the situation of the mother, better
counsds prevailed, and only a few revolvers were
discharged; for, whether owing to the rude surgery