“When a man has been running free all day, what’s the natural thing for him to do? Why, to come home. And if he ain’t in a condition to go home, what can his best friend do? Why, bring him home! And here’s Tennessee has been running free, and we brings him home from his wandering…It ain’t the first time that I’ve packed him on my back, as you see’d me now. It ain’t the first time that I brought him to this yer cabin when he couldn’t help himself; it ain’t the first time that I and ‘Jinny’ have waited for him on yon hill, and picked him up and so fetched him home, when he couldn’t speak, and didn’t know me. And now that it’s the last time, why, you see it’s sort of rough on his pardner…And now, gentlemen, the fun’s over; and my thanks, and Tennessee’s thanks, to you for your trouble.” (Tennessee’s Partner, p.5)
The Luck of Roaring Camp is another illustration of how Bret Harte’s celebrates the virtues of those living in society’s periphery. One of the early literary successes that catapulted Harte to national fame, this story is conceived on a broad canvas, with a wide assortment eccentric characters that inhabit Roaring Camp. The camp is inhabited by petty thieves and thugs of unstable temperament and unpredictable behavior. The only woman of the camp was a fallen one, who is rumored to be a tramp and the fact that she’s carrying a baby has completed the total tarnish of her image. Not only is the baby conceived outside of wedlock but even the paternity is unknown.
“Perhaps the less said of her the better. She was a coarse, and, it is to be feared, a very sinful woman…Dissolute, abandoned, and irreclaimable, she was yet suffering martyrdom hard enough to bear even when veiled by sympathizing womanhood, but now terrible in her loneliness. The primal curse had come to her in that original isolation which must have made the punishment of the first transgression so dreadful.” (The Luck of Roaring Camp, p.1)
It is under these circumstances that the woman, who goes by the name of Cherokee Sal, goes into labor. The laboring wails of Cherokee Sal draws the attention of the entire camp. The Roaring Camp is a place where grown up people find abode for a short time before being sent to prison or relocating for further criminal activity. This accounts for why there is never any respectable woman inhabiting it. Hence, the prospect of a newborn baby into this loose assemblage of vagabonds suddenly confounds all of them.
“The assemblage numbered about a hundred men. One or two of these were actual fugitives from justice, some were criminal, and all were reckless. Physically, they exhibited no indication of their past lives and character. The greatest scamp had a Raphael face, with a profusion of blond hair; Oakhurst, a gambler, had the melancholy air and intellectual abstraction of a Hamlet…The term ‘roughs’ applied to them was a distinction rather than a definition. Perhaps in minor details of fingers, toes, ears, etc, the camp may have been deficient, but these slight omissions did not detract from their aggregate force…” (The Luck of Roaring Camp, p.1)