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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 10

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“ No, I haven’t,” I answered promptly. Only two days, but I kept that information to myself. “ Are you going to Tonopah?” This time the question was direct. “ Yes,” I replied lightly as I played on. She looked at me steadily for a moment, and then an expression of sadness came into her eyes. Young as I was, I realized this desert woman was looking into the life ahead of me with eyes of experience, and the brooding pity in her face struck across my happiness like a chill wind. In my heart I resented her judgment. I was young, true. And inexperienced. But I was enthusiastic and in love. Why shouldn’t I be happy? Then Hugh appeared and we retired to our room. Our journey would be resumed at four o’clock in the morning. I looked at the bedding and shuddered; but I knew we had to have rest, so I did get into bed. However, in a few minutes I was conscious of something crawling . This I couldn’t endure! So, sitting upright in an old Morris chair, wrapped in my heavy coat and with Hugh’s overcoat on my knees, I managed to slip off to sleep. It was still night when we were roused by a heavy knocking on the door. We dressed quickly, for the room was dead cold and there was no hot water. In the same dark room where we had dined, the Chinese cook offered us something that passed for coffee and two eggs cooked, mercifully, in their shells. But at least the room was warm, and we did get the chill out of us before we stepped out onto the station platform. There, drawn up and ready for departure, was the train that would carry us to the next way station - Sodaville - where we would transfer to the stagecoach that would take us the last sixty- five miles to Tonopah. In the east a faint green glow told us sunrise was not too far off. All around me in the darkness were eerie shadows of men, bundles of tents and blankets, and piles of freight. By this time I realized I was the only woman in the party, and my spirits rose with the novelty of the occasion. The air was filled with the smell of burning cottonwood. The odor was like incense, and I was enchanted. Through all my desert years and even today, when I smell burning cottonwood, I am back in that early morning when I stepped out of the shack hotel at Hawthorne. Day was breaking when me arrived at Sodaville, three rough- board cabins and a stable clustered haphazardly around a well, a way station in the middle of nowhere. As the train creaked and wheezed to a stop, with one last jolt by which to remember the journey, the conductor yelled:



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