The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Tales
- "The Luck of Roaring Camp" is the lead short story in this collection of writings by American author Bret Harte. This 1897 Riverside Edition consists of a uniform and orderly presentation of the results of more than thirty years of Harte's literary activity, and in addition to The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Tales includes Condensed Novels, Spanish and American Legends and Earlier Papers. The Luck of Roaring Camp was first published in the August 1868 issue of the Overland Monthly and helped push Harte to international prominence. The short story is about a small struggling mining town located in the foothills of the California mountains at the time of the gold rush. The camp is suffering from a long string of bad luck. With only one woman in their midst, it seems as though the miners have no future. However, the tide turns when a small boy is born. The boy's mother, Cherokee Sal, dies in childbirth, so the men of Roaring Camp must raise it themselves. Believing the child to be a good luck charm, the miners christen the boy Thomas Luck. Afterwards, they decide to refine their behavior and refrain from gambling and fighting. The miners become cheerful, foliage begins to grow; there's talk of building a hotel to attract outsiders. Unfortunately, the hope is wiped out by the sudden death of Luck in flash flood that strikes the camp. Water brought gold to the gulches, giving miners their first glimmer of hope, and water takes away what seems their last glimmer -- Luck. The flood theme may have come from the Great Flood of California, witnessed by Harte in 1862, which resulted from weeks of torrential rains throughout the entire state, combined with warming temperatures in mid January that melted the snowpack.