Morality Among the "Outcasts of Poker Flat"

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Morality Among the "Outcasts of Poker Flat"
As Mr. John Oakhurst, gambler, stepped into the main street of Poker Flat on the morning of the twenty third of November, 1850, he was conscious of a change in its moral atmosphere from the preceding night. Two or three men, conversing earnestly together, ceased as he approached, and exchanged significant glances. There was a Sabbath lull in the air, which, in a settlement unused to Sabbath influences, looked ominous. Mr. Oakhurst's calm handsome face betrayed small concern of these indications. Whether he was conscious of any predisposing cause was another question. ‘I reckon they are after somebody,' he reflected; ‘likely it's me.' He returned to his pocket the handkerchief he had been whipping away the red duct of Poker Flat from his neat boots, and quietly discharged his mind of any further conjecture. In point of fact, Poker Flat was ‘after somebody.' It had lately suffered the loss of several thousand dollars, two valuable horses, and a prominent citizen. It was experiencing a spasm of virtuous reaction, quite as lawless and ungovernable as any of the acts that had provoked it. A secret committee had determined to rid the town of all improper persons. This was done permanently in regard of two men who were then hanging from boughs of a sycamore in the gulch, and temporarily in the banishment of certain other objectionable characters. I regret to say that some of these were ladies. It is but due to the sex, however, to state that their impropriety was professional, and it was only in such easily established standards of evil that Poker Flat ventured to sit in judgment. Mr. Oakhurst was right in supposing that he was included in this category. A few of the committee had urged hanging him as a possible example, and a sure method of reimbursing themselves from his pockets of the sums he had won from them. ‘It's again justice,' said Jim Wheeler, ‘to let this yer young man from Roaring Camp – an entire stranger –...
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