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    Chapter XVII

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    At the end of our two days' sojourn, we left Great Salt Lake City hearty
    and well fed and happy--physically superb but not so very much wiser, as
    regards the "Mormon question," than we were when we arrived, perhaps.
    We had a deal more "information" than we had before, of course, but we
    did not know what portion of it was reliable and what was not--for it all
    came from acquaintances of a day--strangers, strictly speaking. We were
    told, for instance, that the dreadful "Mountain Meadows Massacre" was the
    work of the Indians entirely, and that the Gentiles had meanly tried to
    fasten it upon the Mormons; we were told, likewise, that the Indians were
    to blame, partly, and partly the Mormons; and we were told, likewise, and
    just as positively, that the Mormons were almost if not wholly and
    completely responsible for that most treacherous and pitiless butchery.
    We got the story in all these different shapes, but it was not till
    several years afterward that Mrs. Waite's book, "The Mormon Prophet,"
    came out with Judge Cradlebaugh's trial of the accused parties in it and
    revealed the truth that the latter version was the correct one and that
    the Mormons were the assassins. All our "information" had three sides to
    it, and so I gave up the idea that I could settle the "Mormon question"
    in two days. Still I have seen newspaper correspondents do it in one.

    I left Great Salt Lake a good deal confused as to what state of things
    existed there--and sometimes even questioning in my own mind whether a
    state of things existed there at all or not. But presently I remembered
    with a lightening sense of relief that we had learned two or three
    trivial things there which we could be certain of; and so the two days
    were not wholly lost. For instance, we had learned that we were at last
    in a pioneer land, in absolute and tangible reality.

    The high prices charged for trifles were eloquent of high freights and
    bewildering distances of freightage. In the east, in those days, the
    smallest moneyed denomination was a penny and it represented the smallest
    purchasable quantity of any commodity. West of Cincinnati the smallest
    coin in use was the silver five-cent piece and no smaller quantity of an
    article could be bought than "five cents' worth." In Overland City the
    lowest coin appeared to be the ten-cent piece; but in Salt Lake there did
    not seem to be any money in circulation smaller than a quarter, or any
    smaller quantity purchasable of any commodity than twenty-five cents'
    worth. We had always been used to half dimes and "five cents' worth" as
    the minimum of financial negotiations; but in Salt Lake if one wanted a
    cigar, it was a quarter; if he wanted a chalk pipe, it was a quarter; if
    he wanted a peach, or a candle, or a newspaper, or a shave, or a little
    Gentile whiskey to rub on his corns to arrest indigestion and keep him
    from having the toothache, twenty-five cents was the price, every time.
    When we looked at the shot-bag of silver, now and then, we seemed to be
    wasting our substance in riotous living, but if we referred to the
    expense account we could see that we had not been doing anything of the
    kind.

    But people easily get reconciled to big money and big prices, and fond
    and vain of both--it is a descent to little coins and cheap prices that
    is hardest to bear and slowest to take hold upon one's toleration. After
    a month's acquaintance with the twenty-five cent minimum, the average
    human being is ready to blush every time he thinks of his despicable
    five-cent days. How sunburnt with blushes I used to get in gaudy Nevada,
    every time I thought of my first financial experience in Salt Lake.
    It was on this wise (which is a favorite expression of great authors, and
    a very neat one, too, but I never hear anybody say on this wise when they
    are talking). A young half-breed with a complexion like a yellow-jacket
    asked me if I would have my boots blacked. It was at the Salt Lake House
    the morning after we arrived. I said yes, and he blacked them. Then I
    handed him a silver five-cent piece, with the benevolent air of a person
    who is conferring wealth and blessedness upon poverty and suffering. The
    yellow-jacket took it with what I judged to be suppressed emotion, and
    laid it reverently down in the middle of his broad hand. Then he began
    to contemplate it, much as a philosopher contemplates a gnat's ear in the
    ample field of his microscope. Several mountaineers, teamsters, stage-
    drivers, etc., drew near and dropped into the tableau and fell to
    surveying the money with that attractive indifference to formality which
    is noticeable in the hardy pioneer. Presently the yellow-jacket handed
    the half dime back to me and told me I ought to keep my money in my
    pocket-book instead of in my soul, and then I wouldn't get it cramped and
    shriveled up so!

    What a roar of vulgar laughter there was! I destroyed the mongrel
    reptile on the spot, but I smiled and smiled all the time I was detaching
    his scalp, for the remark he made was good for an "Injun."

    Yes, we had learned in Salt Lake to be charged great prices without
    letting the inward shudder appear on the surface--for even already we had
    overheard and noted the tenor of conversations among drivers, conductors,
    and hostlers, and finally among citizens of Salt Lake, until we were well
    aware that these superior beings despised "emigrants." We permitted no
    tell-tale shudders and winces in our countenances, for we wanted to seem
    pioneers, or Mormons, half-breeds, teamsters, stage-drivers, Mountain
    Meadow assassins--anything in the world that the plains and Utah
    respected and admired--but we were wretchedly ashamed of being
    "emigrants," and sorry enough that we had white shirts and could not
    swear in the presence of ladies without looking the other way.

    And many a time in Nevada, afterwards, we had occasion to remember with
    humiliation that we were "emigrants," and consequently a low and inferior
    sort of creatures. Perhaps the reader has visited Utah, Nevada, or
    California, even in these latter days, and while communing with himself
    upon the sorrowful banishment of these countries from what he considers
    "the world," has had his wings clipped by finding that he is the one to
    be pitied, and that there are entire populations around him ready and
    willing to do it for him--yea, who are complacently doing it for him
    already, wherever he steps his foot.

    Poor thing, they are making fun of his hat; and the cut of his New York
    coat; and his conscientiousness about his grammar; and his feeble
    profanity; and his consumingly ludicrous ignorance of ores, shafts,
    tunnels, and other things which he never saw before, and never felt
    enough interest in to read about. And all the time that he is thinking
    what a sad fate it is to be exiled to that far country, that lonely land,
    the citizens around him are looking down on him with a blighting
    compassion because he is an "emigrant" instead of that proudest and
    blessedest creature that exists on all the earth, a "FORTY-NINER."

    The accustomed coach life began again, now, and by midnight it almost
    seemed as if we never had been out of our snuggery among the mail sacks
    at all. We had made one alteration, however. We had provided enough
    bread, boiled ham and hard boiled eggs to last double the six hundred
    miles of staging we had still to do.

    And it was comfort in those succeeding days to sit up and contemplate the
    majestic panorama of mountains and valleys spread out below us and eat
    ham and hard boiled eggs while our spiritual natures revelled alternately
    in rainbows, thunderstorms, and peerless sunsets. Nothing helps scenery
    like ham and eggs. Ham and eggs, and after these a pipe--an old, rank,
    delicious pipe--ham and eggs and scenery, a "down grade," a flying coach,
    a fragrant pipe and a contented heart--these make happiness. It is what
    all the ages have struggled for.
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