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Bret Harte wrote a story entitled “The Luck of Roaring Camp”.

The story goes that Roaring Camp was supposed to be the meanest, toughest mining town in all of the West. It was reported that there were more murders and thefts than any other place around. It was a terrible place inhabited entirely by men, except for one woman who made her living in the only way she knew how. Her name was Cherokee Sal.

She became pregnant by who knows whom and died while giving birth to a baby. The men took the baby and put her in a box with some old rags under her. Somehow that just didn’t seem right, so one of the men rode eighty miles to buy a rosewood cradle. He brought it back, and they put the rags and the baby in the beautiful new rosewood cradle. But the rags didn’t look very nice in the beautiful new cradle, so they had another man ride to Sacramento where he bought some beautiful silk and lace blankets. Now they put the baby in the cradle lined with silk and put the new blanket over her. It looked fine until someone happened to notice that the floor was so filthy.

So these hardened, tough men got down on their hands and knees, and with their calloused hands scrubbed the floor until it was spotless. Of course, now the walls and the ceiling and the dirty windows without curtains looked absolutely terrible. So they washed down the walls and the ceiling, and they put curtains at the windows. Things were beginning to look a lot better. But of course, they had to give up a lot of their fighting, because the baby slept a lot, and babies can’t sleep during a brawl. So the whole temperature of Roaring Camp seemed to go down.

They would take the baby out and set her by the entrance to the mine in her rosewood cradle, with one of the men staying next to her, so the others could see her when they came...

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