Previous Index Next


152   My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

people; and that the dinner should contain fifty of each faction and should be presided over in his official capacity by the mayor. The ordinary procession, in barouches, was rather more exhilarating than usual, and reduced the faithful secret service men very nearly to the condition of Bedlamites. The crowd was filled with whooping enthusiasm and every kind of whiskey, and in their desire to be sociable, broke the lines and jammed right up to the carriage. . . . Seth Bullock, riding close beside the rear wheel of my carriage, for there were hosts of so-called `rednecks' or 'dynamiters' in the crowd, was such a splendid looking fellow with his size and supple strength, his strangely marked aquiline face, with its big moustache, and the broad brim of his soft dark hat drawn down over his dark eyes. However, no one made a motion to attack me... .

"My address was felt to be honor enough for one hotel, so the dinner was given in the other. When the dinner was announced, the Mayor led me in!-to speak more accurately, tucked me under one arm and lifted me partially off the ground so that I felt as if I looked like one of those limp dolls with dangling legs, carried around by small children, like Mary Jane in the `Gollywogs,' for instance. As soon as we got in the banquet hall and sat at the end of the table, the Mayor hammered lustily with the handle of his knife and announced, `Waiter, bring on the feed.' Then, in a spirit of pure kindliness, `Waiter, pull up the curtains and let the people see the President eat';-but to this, I objected. The dinner was soon in full swing, and it was interesting in many respects. Besides my own party, including Seth Bullock and Willis, there were fifty men from each of the Butte factions.

"In Butte, every prominent man is a millionaire, a gambler, or a labor leader, and generally he has been all three. Of the hundred men who were my hosts, I suppose at least half had killed their man in private war or had striven to compass the assassination of an enemy. They had fought one another with reckless ferocity. They had been allies and enemies in every

kind of business scheme, and companions in brutal revelry. As they drank great goblets of wine, the sweat glistened on their hard, strong, crafty faces. They looked as if they had come out of the pictures in Aubrey Beardsley's Yellow Book. The millionaires had been laboring men once, the labor leaders intended to be millionaires in their turn, or else to pull down all who were. They had made money in mines, had spent it on the races, in other mines or in gambling and every form of vicious luxury, but they were strong men for all that. They had worked, and striven, and pushed, and trampled, and had always been ready, and were ready now, to fight to the death in many different kinds of conflicts. They had built up their part of the West, they were men with whom one had to reckon if thrown in contact with them. . . . But though most of them hated each other, they were accustomed to take their pleasure when they could get it, and they took it fast and hard with the meats and wines."

The above description by the pen of my brother is the most vivid that could be given of a certain type of man of the West. The types were many. . . . The Sylvane Ferrises and the Will Merrifields were as bold and resourceful as these inhabitants of the city of Butte and its vicinity, but for the former, life was an adventure in which the spirit of beauty and kindness had its share in happy contrast to the aims and objects of the men described by my brother in this extraordinary pen-picture. The picture is so forcibly painted that it brings before one's mind, almost as though it were an actual stage-setting, this type of American, who would appear to be a belated brother of the men of the barbaric period of the Middle Ages in the Old World, in their case, however, rendered even more formidable by a New World enterprise and acumen, strangely unlike what has ever been produced before.

It was because of his knowledge of just such men, and of the fact that they knew, although his aims were so different and his ideals so alien to theirs, that the courage of his mental and physical equipment could meet them on their own ground, that

The Elkhorn Ranch


Previous Index Next