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I THINK it was the "Old Mud Turtle," as we had not inappropriately named her, that came into port that day, some forty years ago; at all events it was the regular steamer, and her passengers having been safely beached, refreshed, and billed for Los Angeles, the well filled stages soon thereafter rolled out from San Pedro; the famous team of sorrel mules whose reputation was much more than local taking the lead, of course. Comparative quiet then again settled down upon the embryo city; a quiet that was destined, however, to be of short duration.

For scarcely had the dust stirred up by the outgoing teams found time to settle, ere another steamer was sighted swiftly rounding the point, and one of whose coming we had received no word of advice; she being the pioneer of an opposition line, and had left 'Frisco a day or two later than the old reliable, and very nearly overtaken her too, as had been planned.

The new steamer had but a small showing of passengers, but there was enough of them, and to spare. They had thought out no reason why they should not have a real good time, and were having it after their fashion. It commenced on or before they boarded the steamer, and had since known no intermissions. The merry, boisterous crowd promptly took possession of every thing in sight immediately upon landing and had their own way right along; as viewed from their standpoint, their doings were square and commendable, but they proved just the least bit annoying to some of us.

There seemed no way out of it, however, but that we must bear with them for twenty-four hours or more. No stages on hand, nor not even a driver,

though horses in plenty had we and riders galore; only one old, long-discarded mud wagon, and some half broken, fiery mustangs, made up the sum of available means to rid ourselves of the invaders.

I do not to this day understand what possessed me to speak as I did; it is one of those mysterious things that are quite past finding out; some spirit of mischief must surely have been abroad in the land, and had made my brain his headquarters. For I knew nothing whatever about driving. The most I had ever done in that line was to check and chirrup at an old farm horse or two, though even they always did best when I left all to them. And yet here was I saying to my good friend Banning, whose acquaintance I made years before in the city of Brotherly Love :

"If you think the wheels on that old rattletrap yonder can be coaxed to revolve, have some horses hitched to it, load up this noisy crew, and I'll undertake to get them at least part way to the city by midnight."

"I am afraid it would be a kind of an undertaking job, sure enough," answered Banning; then his eye brightening at the bare possibility of such a happy riddance, he continued:

"You don't really mean it, though, do you? You never told me you could handle a stage team."

I was on my mettle in an instant; “an undertaking job," forsooth - that phrase settled it. I would go through with it now, even if it cost a limb or two. So I said to him impressively :

"You must forget, Phineas, that only last year I crossed the plains with a fourin hand."

He did not wait for particulars. Had he questioned me, he would have known

that my four-in-hand consisted of four yoke of well-broken oxen; that I never but the once attempted to straighten a whip lash; that was at St. Joe's, and in effort to obtain a regulation report from it I took off my left ear, or at least came near enough to so doing for all practical purposes; and that five minutes later I completed arrangements with a farmer's boy to do all my share of driving on the journey.

But I was elected. The vaqueros had received their orders, and were galloping away towards the hills to bring in the horses. What did it matter? A man can die but the once; and would n't the fool killer snap me up in a second anyhow, when he got his eye on me? These were the only comforting thoughts I had while the preparations for my taking off were in progress.

I saw them tinkering at the old wagon, and there was lassooing and blinding of mustangs that they might be harnessed, serving the most fractious as the boy said his shot-gun served him: "kicked him down, then kicked him three or four times after he was down." There was much tying of knots in traces to shorten them, and lengthening out others with ropes, I looking on supinely all the while.

At last I knew that my to-be companions were tumbling aboard in hilarious mood, their baggage consisting in the main of bottles and demijohns. I heard Banning say to someone, perhaps to myself, as he tallied them off:

"Fourteen at seven is ninety-eight dollars; more than the entire outfit is worth"; and then I heard him whispering:

"When the crash comes, if any of the survivors can walk, keep them headed towards the city, for mercy's sake." This I promised to do, then mounted to the box, or barrel, or whatever it was, and commenced my preparations for death by entangling my hands and wrists in the lines in a strictly original manner.

I heard cries of "Let go of their heads," "Jump out of the way," "Now they're off," "Stop, stop!" and something about a loose trace. In reply I uttered a scalp-lifting Indian war-whoop, which fairly set the horses frantic; and I had only time to request them to "get out of this" ere fright closed my lips, for I never before or since saw horses in harness go as they were going.

My first grievance came in the knowledge that I had surely been most shamefully imposed upon. After half a mile perhaps had been covered, I realized that there were five horses in the drove, instead of four, the number that I understood was to be detailed to land myself and fellow outcasts in perdition. For a time I half believed the extra was a volunteer, and had in pure equine friskiness crowded in between my leaders. How came it then that their heads were so entangled together in the straps? On the other hand, I felt sure I had nothing at all to do with him. My common sense assured me of that. I wasn't so far gone but what I could count. There were but four lines. Nor did he have anything at all to do with the outfit but to kick, for his traces were fastened to nothing but himself; it seemed as though he might have had a perpetual motion machine wound up to the point of snapping the spring inside of him somewhere, and connecting firmly with his hind legs; his activity in that quarter (or ought I to write it half?) impelled the loose traces to take wild flights of anything but fancy; when they were not in the air they were taking turns at violently lashing his spine; it was a sort of double back action, self-propelling contrivance, as yet unpatented.

It was not so much the thing itself, either, as the effect it had upon my crew, that vexed me. To be informed over and over, in thirteen more or less dead languages, foully murdered all, that those traces were unhitched, was truly exasperating; for was not I the Captain

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and supposed to know what was going on? The worm that would not turn under such provocation deserved to be stepped on some more. I was about to turn, when I received the fourteenth punch in my back, and thus knew that the only man of them all who could speak understandable English was about to relieve his mind.

"Didn't you vas see dot draces mit the left hand front horses loose comes, don't it?"

A sharp, short rise in the road just there favoring the maneuver, I stopped the team, and in reply to the rear end of his question answered: "It does," then in effort to be cutting and sarcastic, I continued:

"Aint it was did n't it you want to make ten dollars in a minute? If so, get out and hook those traces."

He sprang toward the deadly breach with an alacrity which could not but win my admiration, though I knew I risked nothing in making the offer. The mustang noticed his approach, and with much skill and celerity balanced himself on his ear apparently, and then proceeded to box the compass several times with his heels. I now saw, or thought I did, a good chance to rid myself of the presence of this man. Always impulsive, I instantly issued a second and revised edition of the war whoop, and was quick to find it had not lost its virtue; with a jerk that almost pulled the stage in two, my fiery steeds sped away like the wind, and I was happy.

Several hundred yards had been scored, and I was trying to recall a childhood's song which I thought ran somewhat like this:

"One got left,

Then there were thirteen," when I heard considerable rustling in the stage, which was quickly followed by a familiar punch between my shoulder blades, and these words were hissed into my ear:

"I did n't some more ride all night, eh, if I was n't dot tail gate snatches?" I answered that he had sized it up correctly, and inquired as to what he was going to do about it; not understanding a word of this, but probably imagining it was a splendid joke, he laughed right heartily, and in company with the echo of his laugh my ill humor sailed away.

Presently the subject of brakes occurred to me, and I was quite delighted when I found there was really one attached to our equipage; to familiarize myself with its workings I brought the brake-bar forward, and put about half my weight upon it; then came a great surprise; so very large was it that there was considerable more than enough to go around.

Certain am I, that I never heard such an unearthly screech as immediately rent the air; in the words of Mrs. Nickleby, "It came upon me like a flash of fire and almost froze my blood." Passengers and team were alike thrilled with it as no mere sound, I imagine, had ever before thrilled them. It could give any fog syren in existence 90 points in a possible 100, and then win easily. There were no leathers on the brakeblocks, and when the protruding heads of numerous nails came in sudden contact with the swift revolving tires, the resultant din was simply brain-crashing. I made no attempt to stop at the half way house which we were now flying by in the dark. It belonged to our firm, and was the only building on the road between San Pedro and Los Angeles, and was itself but a mere shanty. The stock in trade of its single occupant consisted, so far as my observation ever went, in a wooden pipe with a far-reaching odor, and a can of axle grease; his business there to render any needed assistance to the passing stages and teams belonging to A. & B.

That heaven-piercing shriek brought him to the door, lantern in hand, but he could make out nothing of what was

transpiring. He knew of no stage to send in that direction, nor of any occasion to send one; looking back I could see by the gleams from his lantern that he was following as if in pursuit. Later I heard that he made a fairly good night's work of it, for the road along there was a bit jolty, and hence he took back with him to his cabin three hats, a gripsack well filled with soiled linen, and what he called a "Jimmy-John," it nearly half full, which I in self defense had

simple air; none of my merry men were constructed on that plan; they could and did, over and over, each lug several tunes at once without least apparent effort, and when occasionally they all chanced to be buckling down to their work at the same instant, each grinding out a different so-called melody, the composite produced was what might truly be called a stunner.

A tiny gleam of light showing dimly on our port-bow at last, convinced me tha

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slyly tipped out of the stage with my our uncomfortable cruise was nearing foot when opportunity served.

Perhaps no one listened for three consecutive hours to such a perfect Niagara of vocal thunder as I did that night, and lived to tell of it The stream rolled and roared continuously, and in volume was perfectly terrific. We hear sometimes that so and so is quite unable to carry a

its end. Greatly elated over the fact that I had really brought my unwieldy craft with its explosive cargo safely within sight of its anchorage, my pride over the accomplishment of this feat in the very eyes and teeth as it were of the owner's predictions nearly proved my ruin; for I was puffed up with boyish pride to the

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