Short Stories: The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte

Bret Harte demonstrates this idea in the story "The Luck of Roaring Camp." In this story, Bret Harte shows that even the roughest men can regenerate into kind, gentle, wholesome people, with the love of...

American literature : “The Luck of Roaring Camp”

Nov 12, 2012 · I enjoyed reading “The Luck of Roaring Camp”
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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 Coyote" (an allusion to his vocal powers), and even by Kentuck's endearing diminutive 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 adventurers 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." A day was accordingly set apart for the christening.

The Luck of Roaring Camp Francis Bret Harte ..

What was meant by this ceremony the reader may imagine who has already gathered some idea of the reckless irreverence of Roaring Camp. The master of ceremonies was one "Boston," a noted wag, and the occasion seemed to promise the greatest facetiousness. This ingenious satirist had spent two days in preparing a burlesque of the Church service, with pointed local allusions. The choir was properly trained, and Sandy Tipton was to stand godfather. But after the procession had marched to the grove with music and banners, and the child had been deposited before a mock altar, Stumpy stepped before the expectant crowd. "It ain't my style to spoil fun, boys," said the little man, stoutly eyeing the faces around him, "but it strikes me that this thing ain't exactly on the squar. It's playing it pretty low down on this yer baby to ring in fun on him that he ain't goin' to understand. And ef there's goin' to be any godfathers round, I'd like to see who's got any better rights than me."

And so the work of regeneration began in Roaring Camp
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Nor were moral and social sanitary laws neglected. "Tommy," who was supposed to spend his whole existence in a persistent attempt to repose, must not be disturbed by noise. The shouting and yelling, which had gained the camp its infelicitous title, were not permitted within hearing distance of Stumpy's. The men conversed in whispers or smoked with Indian gravity. Profanity was tacitly given up in these sacred precincts, and throughout the camp a popular form of expletive, known as " D--n the luck!" and "Curse the luck! " was abandoned, as having a new personal bearing.

Zach Neal: The Luck of Roaring Camp, by Bret Harte.

The next day Cherokee Sal had such rude sepulture as RoaringCamp afforded. After her body had been committed to the hillside,there was a formal meeting of the camp to discuss what should bedone with her infant. A resolution to adopt it was unanimous andenthusiastic. But an animated discussion in regard to the mannerand feasibility of providing for its wants at once sprang up. Itwas remarkable that the argument partook of none of those fiercepersonalities with which discussions were usually conducted atRoaring Camp. Tipton proposed that they should send the child toRed Dog,--a distance of forty miles,--where female attention couldbe procured. But the unlucky suggestion met with fierce andunanimous opposition. It was evident that no plan which entailedparting from their new acquisition would for a moment beentertained. "Besides," said Tom Ryder, "them fellows at Red Dogwould swap it, and ring in somebody else on us." A disbelief in thehonesty of other camps prevailed at Roaring Camp, as in otherplaces.

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The introduction of a female nurse in the camp also met withobjection. It was argued that no decent woman could be prevailed toaccept Roaring Camp as her home, and the speaker urged that "theydidn't want any more of the other kind." This unkind allusion tothe defunct mother, harsh as it may seem, was the first spasm ofpropriety,--the first symptom of the camp's regeneration. Stumpyadvanced nothing. Perhaps he felt a certain delicacy in interferingwith the selection of a possible successor in office. But whenquestioned, he averred stoutly that he and "Jinny"--the mammalbefore alluded to--could manage to rear the child. There wassomething original, independent, and heroic about the plan thatpleased the camp. Stumpy was retained. Certain articles were sentfor to Sacramento. "Mind," said the treasurer, as he pressed a bagof gold-dust into the expressman's hand, "the best that can begot,--lace, you know, and filigree-work and frills,--damn thecost!"