The Fiend's Delight, by Ambrose Bierce

“Items” from the Press of Interior California.

. . . . A little bit of romance has just transpired to relieve the monotony of our metropolitan life. Old Sam Choggins, whom the editor of this paper has so often publicly thrashed, has returned from Mud Springs with a young wife. He is said to be very fond of her, and the way he came to get her was this:

Some time ago we courted her, but finding she was “on the make,” threw her off, after shooting her brother and two cousins. She vowed revenge, and promised to marry any man who would horsewhip us. This Sam agreed to undertake, and she married him on that promise.

We shall call on Sam to-morrow with our new shot-gun, and present our congratulations in the usual form. — Hangtown “Gibbet.”

 

. . . . The purposeless old party with the boiled shirt, who has for some days been loafing about the town peddling hymn-books at merely nominal prices (a clear proof that he stole them), has been disposed of in a cheap and satisfactory manner. His lode petered out about six o’clock yesterday afternoon; our evening edition being delayed until that time, by request. The cause of his death, as nearly as could be ascertained by a single physician-Dr. Duffer being too drunk to attend-was Whisky Sam, who, it will be remembered, delivered a lecture some weeks ago entitled “Dan’l in the Lion’s Den; and How They’d aEt ‘Im ef He’d Ever ben Ther”— in which he triumphantly overthrew revealed religion.

His course yesterday proves that he can act as well as talk. — Devil Gully “Expositor.”

 

. . . . There was considerable excitement, in the street yesterday, owing to the arrival of Bust–Head Dave, formerly of this place, who came over on the stage from Pudding Springs. He was met at the hotel by Sheriff Knogg, who leaves a large family, and whose loss will be universally deplored. Dave walked down the street to the bridge, and it reminded one of old times to see the people go away as he heaved in view. It was not through any fear of the man, but from the knowledge that he had made a threat (first published in this paper) to clean out the town. Before leaving the place Dave called at our office to settle for a year’s subscription (invariably in advance) and was informed, through a chink in the logs, that he might leave his dust in the tin cup at the well.

Dave is looking very much larger than at his last visit just previous to the funeral of Judge Dawson. He left for Injun Hill at five o’clock, amidst a good deal of shooting at rather long range, and there will be an election for Sheriff as soon as a stranger can be found who will accept the honour. — Yankee Flat “Advertiser.”

 

. . . . It is to be hoped the people will all turn out to-morrow, according to advertisement in another column. The men deserve hanging, no end, but at the same time they are human, and entitled to some respect; and we shall print the name of every adult male who does not grace the occasion with his presence. We make this threat simply because there have been some indications of apathy; and any man who will stay away when Bob Bolton and Sam Buxter are to be hanged, is probably either an accomplice or a relation. Old Blanket–Mouth Dick was not the only blood relation these fellows have in this vicinity; and the fate that befell him when they could not be found ought to be a warning to the rest.

We hope to see a full attendance. The bar is just in rear of the gibbet, and will be run by a brother of ours. Gentlemen who shrink from publicity will patronize that bar. — San Louis Jones “Gazette.”

 

. . . . A painful accident occurred in Frog Gulch yesterday which has cast a good deal of gloom over a hitherto joyous and whisky loving community. Dan Spigger-or as he was familiarly called, Murderer Dan-got drunk at his usual hour yesterday, and as is his custom took down his gun, and started after the fellow who went home with his girl the night before. He found him at breakfast with his wife and thirteen children. After killing them he started out to return, but being weary, stumbled and broke his leg. Dr. Bill found him in that condition, and having no waggon at hand to convey him to town, shot him to put him out of his misery.

Dan was dearly loved by all who knew him, and his loss is a Democratic gain. He seldom disagreed with any but Democrats, and would have materially reduced the vote of that party had he not been so untimely cut off. — Jackass Gap “Bulletin.”

 

. . . . The dance-house at the corner of Moll Duncan Street and Fish-trap Avenue has been broken up. Our friend, the editor of the Jamboree, succeeded in getting his cock-eyed sister in there as a beer-slinger, and the hurdy-gurdy girls all swore they would not stand her society; and they got up and got. The light fantastic is not tripped there any more, except when the Jamboree man sneaks in and dances a jig for his morning pizen. — Murderburg “Herald.”

 

. . . . The Superintendent of the Mag Davis Mine requests us to state that the custom of pitching Chinamen and Injins down the shaft will have to be stopped, as he has resumed work in the mine. The old well, back of Jo Bowman’s, is just as good, and is more centrally located. — New Jerusalem “Courier.”

 

. . . . Three women while amusing themselves in Calaveras county met with a serious accident. They were jumping across a hole eight hundred feet deep and ten wide. One of them couldn’t quite make it, succeeding only in grasping a sage-bush on the opposite edge, where she hung suspended. Her companions, who had just stepped into an adjacent saloon, saw her peril, and as soon as they had finished drinking went to her assistance. Previously to liberating her, one of them by way of a joke uprooted the bush. This exasperated the other, and she, threw her companion half-way across the shaft. She then attempted to cross over to the other side in two jumps.

The affair has made considerable talk. — Red Head “Tribune.”

 

. . . . A family who for fifteen years have lived at the bottom of a mine shaft in Siskiyou county, were all drowned by a rain-storm last Wednesday night. They had neglected their usual precaution of putting an umbrella over the mouth of the shaft. The man-who had always been vacillating in politics-was taken out a stiff Radical. — Dog Valley “Howl.”

 

. . . . There is a fellow in town who claims to be the man that murdered Sheriff White some months ago. We consider him an impostor, seeking admission into society above his level, and hope people will stop inviting him to their houses. — Nigger Hill “Patriot.”

 

. . . . A stranger wearing a stovepipe hat arrived in town yesterday, putting up at the Nugget House. The boys are having a good time with that hat this morning, and the funeral will take place at two o’clock. — Spanish Camp “Flag.”

 

. . . . The scoundrel who tipped over our office last month will be hung to-morrow, and no paper will be issued next day. — Sierra “Fire-cracker.”

 

. . . . The old grey-headed party who lost his life last Friday at the jewelled hands of our wife, deserves more than a passing notice at ours. He came to this city last summer, and started a weekly Methodist prayer meeting, but being warned by the Police, who was formerly a Presbyterian, gave up the swindle. He afterward undertook to introduce Bibles and hymn-books, and, it is said, on one occasion attempted to preach. This was a little more than an outraged community could be expected to endure, and at our suggestion he was tarred and feathered.

For a time this treatment seemed to work a reform, but the heart of a Methodist is, above all things, deceitful and desperately wicked, and he was soon after caught in the very act of presenting a spelling-book to old Ben Spoffer’s youngest daughter, Ragged Moll, since hung. The Vigilance Committee pro tem. waited upon him, when he was decently shot and left for dead, as was recorded in this paper, with an obituary notice for which we have never received a cent. Last Friday, however, he was discovered sneaking into the potato patch connected with this paper, and our wife, God bless her, got an axe and finished him then and there.

His name was John Bucknor, and it is reported (we do not know with how much truth) that at one time there was an improper intimacy between him and the lady who despatched him. If so, we pity Sal. — Coyote “Trapper.”

 

. . . . Our readers may have noticed in yesterday’s issue an editorial article in which we charged Judge Black with having murdered his father, beaten his wife, and stolen seven mules from Jo Gorman. The facts are substantially true, though somewhat different from what we stated. The killing was done by a Dutchman named Moriarty, and the bruises we happened to see on the face of the Judge’s wife were caused by a fall-she being, doubtless, drunk at the time. The mules had only strayed into the mountains, and have returned all right.

We consider the Judge’s anger at so trifling an error very ridiculous and insulting, and shall shoot him the first time he comes to town. An Independent Press is not to be muzzled by any absurd old buffer with a crooked nose, and a sister who is considerably more mother than wife. Not as long as we have our usual success in thinning out the judiciary with buck shot. — Lone Tree “Sockdolager.”

 

. . . . Yesterday, as Job Wheeler was returning from a clean-up at the Buttermilk Flume, he stopped at Hell Tunnel to have a chat with the boys. John Tooley took a fancy to Job’s watch, and asked for it. Being refused, he slipped away, and going to Job’s shanty, killed his three half-breed children and a valuable pig. This is the third time John has played some scurvy trick, and it is about time the Superintendent discharged him. There is entirely too much of this practical joking amongst the boys, and it will lead to trouble yet. — Nugget Hill “Pickaxe of Freedom.”

 

. . . . The stranger from Frisco with the claw-hammer coat, who put up at the Gag House last Thursday, and was looking for a chance to invest, was robbed the other night of three hundred ounces of clean dust. We know who did it, but don’t be frightened, John Lowry; we’ll never tell, though we are awful hard up, owing to our subscribers going back on us. — Choketown “Rocker.”

 

. . . . Old Mother Gooly, who works a ranch on shares near Whiskyville, was married last Sunday to the new Episcopalian preacher from Dogburg. It seems that he laboured more faithfully to convert her soul than to save the crop, and the bride protested against his misdirected industry, with a crowbar. The citizens are very much grieved to lose one whose abilities they never fairly appreciated until his brain was scraped off the iron and weighed. It was found to be considerably heavier than the average.

But the verdict of the people is unanimously given. He ought not to have fooled with Mother Gooly’s immortal part, to the neglect of the wheat crop. That kind of thing is not popular at Whiskyville. It is not business. —“Bullwhacker’s Own.”

 

. . . . The railroad from this city north-west will be commenced as soon as the citizens get tired of killing the Chinamen brought up to do the work, which will probably be within three or four weeks. The carcases are accumulating about town and begin to become unpleasant. — Gravel Hill “Thunderbolt.”

 

. . . . The man who was shot last week at the Gulch will be buried next Thursday. He is not yet dead, but his physician wishes to visit a mother-in-law at Lard Springs, and is therefore very anxious to get the case off his hands. The undertaker describes the patient as “the longest cuss in that section.”— Santa Peggie “Times.”

 

. . . . There is some dispute about land titles at Little Bilk Bar. About half a dozen cases were temporarily decided on Wednesday, but it is supposed the widows will renew the litigation. The only proper way to prevent these vexatious lawsuits is to hang the Judge of the County Court. — Cow–County “Outcropper.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/bierce/ambrose/fiends-delight/chapter7.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31