In the preceding chapter it was necessary to show to the reader the dark side of the cloud; but it has a golden lining, and though many a cursory observer, or disappointed speculator may deny this fact, yet thousands have seen it, and know to their hearts' content that it is there. Yes! Life in the mountains has many charms. The one great blessing is perfect freedom. Untrammelled by the artificial restraints of more highly organized society, character develops itself so fully and so truly, that a man who has a friend knows it, and there is a warmth and depth in the attachment which unites the dwellers in the wilderness, that is worth years of the insipid and uncertain regard of so-called polite circles, which, too often, passes by the name of friendship, and, sometimes, insolently ages the attributes, and dishonors the fame of love itself. Those who have slept at the same watch-fire, and traversed together many a weary league, sharing hardships and privations, are drawn together by ties which civilization wots not of. Wounded or sick, far from home, and depending for life itself upon the ministration and tender care of some fellow traveller, the memory of these deeds of mercy and kindly fellowship often mutually rendered, is as an oasis in the desert, or as a crystal stream to the fainting pilgrim.
As soon as towns are built society commences to organize, and there is something truly cheering in the ready hospitality, the unfeigned welcome, and the friendly toleration of personal peculiarities which mark the intercourse of the dwellers in the land of gold. Every one does what pleases him best. Forms and ceremonies are at a discount, and generosity has its home in the pure air of the Rocky Mountains. This virtue, indeed, is as inseparable from mountaineers of all classes, as the pick and. shovel from the prospector. When a case of real destitution is made public, if any well-known citizen will but take a paper in his hand and go round with it, the amount collected would astonish a dweller in Eastern cities, and it is a fact that gamblers and saloon keepers are the very men who subscribe the most liberally. Mountaineers think little of a few hundreds of dollars, when the feelings are engaged, and the number of instances in which men have been helped to fortunes and presented with valuable property by their friends is truly astonishing.
The mountains also may be said to circumscribe and bound the paradise of amiable and energetic women. For their labor they are paid magnificently, and they are treated with a deference and liberality unknown in other climes. There seems to be a law, unwritten but scarcely ever transgressed, which assigns to a virtuous and amiable woman a power for good which she can never hope to attain elsewhere. In his wildest excitement, a mountaineer respects a woman, and anything like an insult overed to a lady would be instantly resented, probably with fatal effect, by any bystander. Dancing is the great amusement with persons of both sexes, and we might say all ages. The comparative disproportion between the male and female elements of society ensures the possessor of personal charms of the most ordinary kind, if she be good natured, the greatest attention, and the most liberal provision for her wants, whether real or fancied.
If two men are friends, an insult to one is resented by both, an alliance, offensive ance defensive, being a necessary condition of. friendship in the mountains. A popular citizen is safe everywhere, and any man may be popular that has anything useful or genial about him.
''Putting on style," or the assumption of aristocratic airs, is the detestation of everybody. No one but a person lacking sense attempts it. It is neither forgotten nor forgiven, and kills a man like a bullet. It should also be remembered that no people more admire and respect upright moral conduct than do the sojourners. in mining camps, while at the same time none more thoroughly despise hypocrisy in any shape. In fact, good men and good women may be as moral and as religious as they choose to be in the mining countries, and as happy as human beings can be. Much they will miss that they have been used to, and much they will receive that none offered them before.
Money is commonly plentiful; if prices are high, remuneration for work is liberal, and, in the end, care and industry will achieve success and procure competence. We have travelled far and seen much of the world, and the result of our experience is a love for our mountain home that time and change of scene can never efface.