Thursday, March 25, 2010

On "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" by Bret Harte (4049 words) ****

Here's a story about facing death, slowly and meanly. Poker Flat is a mining camp, but some of the local residents don't like the looks of certain others. A few are hanged. But in the end, the kinder thing to do with most is just tell them they've got X hours to get out of town. And so that they do, wandering out into the wilderness toward another. One of these is John Oakhurst, a seemingly honorable man who has just a little too much success at the poker table for the other townspeople. With him is a set of supposedly neer-do-well women and a scoundrel of a man. Near the end of the first day, they meet with a young man Oakhurst knew from a poker game, a man who Oakhurst treated kindly and who now feels like he owes Oakhurst a favor. They also meet with snow--a good lot of it, enough to keep them from moving forward. And that's when things get interesting. Read the story here at

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