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The men of the camp decide to raise the child themselves, and his presence inspires them to stop fighting and gambling and to clean up themselves and the camp. When they discover gold, they believe that the child has brought them the fortune. Tragedy strikes, however, when a flood sweeps the camp, killing both the Luck and his protector.
The story is a sentimental tall tale told by an ironic first-person narrator and is notable for its characterizations and wealth of local colour. The Luck of Roaring Camp.
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The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte, 1870
Our story today is called, "The Luck of Roaring Camp. Here is Harry Monroe with our story. Roaring Camp was the noisiest gold mining town in California. More than one-hundred men from every part of the United States had come to that little camp — stopping there for a short time on their way to getting rich. Many of these gold miners were criminals. All of them were violent. They filled the peaceful mountain air with shouting and gun shots.
THE LUCK OF ROARING CAMP AND OTHER TALES
In , it was felt to be desirable that Mr. Harte's scattered work should be brought together in convenient form, and the result was a compact edition of five volumes. After that date, as before, he continued to produce poems, tales, sketches, and romances in steady succession, and in his publishers undertook a uniform and orderly presentation of the results of more than thirty years of his literary activity. The fourteen volumes that embodied those results were enriched by Introductions and a Glossary prepared by Mr. Harte himself.
The Luck of Roaring Camp Summary
They have traveled to California to brave primitive conditions as they pan for gold in the streams that rush down from the Sierras. The hundred or so men come from across the world and from every walk of life. Some are criminals, many bear scars and mutilations that show they have been in fights, and none displays any sign of education or refinement. Cherokee Sal, "a coarse and, it is to be feared, a very sinful woman," is the only female in the camp, which reflects the fact that in California at the time women made up only a very small proportion of the population. When the story opens, Sal is in the throes of childbirth. Death, generally by violence, is an everyday occurrence in this community, but birth is an unprecedented event. After pausing as Sal screams out in agony, the men decide that she must have help, and they send one Stumpy to her aid, not that he possesses any real medical expertise but simply because he is known to have fathered two families some time back.
The Luck of Roaring Camp
There was commotion in Roaring Camp. It could not have been a fight, for in that was not novel enough to have called together the entire settlement. The ditches and claims were not only deserted, but "Tuttle's grocery" had contributed its gamblers, who, it will be remembered, calmly continued their game the day that French Pete and Kanaka Joe shot each other to death over the bar in the front room. The whole camp was collected before a rude cabin on the outer edge of the clearing. Conversation was carried on in a low tone, but the name of a woman was frequently repeated. It was a name familiar enough in the camp - "Cherokee Sal.