24 BRET harte's CHOICE BITS.
took the foundling to her broader breast. In that
rare atmosphere of the Sierra foothills,—that air
pungent with balsamic odour, that ethereal cordial
at once bracing and exhilarating,—he may have
found food and nourishment, or a subtle chemistry
that transmitted asses' milk to lime and phosphorus.
Stumpy inclined to the belief that it was the latter
and good nursing. " Me and that ass," he would
say, " has been father and mother to him ! Don't
you," he would add, apostrophising the helpless
bundle before him, " never go back on us.''
By the time he was a month old, the necessity
of giving him a name became apparent. He had
generally been known as " the Kid," " Stumpy's
boy," " the Cayote" (an allusion to his vocal
powers), and even by Kentuck's endearing diminu¬
tive of " the d—d little cuss." But these were felt
to be vague and unsatisfactory, and were at last
dismissed under another influence. Gamblers and
ad venturers are generally superstitious, and Oakhurst
one day declared that the baby had brought " the
luck " to Roaring Camp. It was certain that of
late they had been successful. " Luck " was the
name agreed upon, with the prefix of Tommy for
greater convenience. No allusion was made to the
mother, and the father was unknown. "It's better,"
said the philosophical Oakhurst, "to take a fresh
deal all round. Call him Luck, and start him fair."