~Part Five~

So that is why I say:

Do it James Reed! Make your rescue!

Do it Mary Graves, cook that meat!

You'd better clean those guns, Foster and Pike!

Why not try and break up a fight this afternoon, Margaret Reed—and make sure your daughter has a dolly to play with, too!

This is my...this is my boulder to tell now, I suppose, so I might as well get it rolling because that is all it will ever do! I roll it up only so that it may tumble back down once more. That's the show folks! Greatest in the West, Dear Reader!

[He drowns his caipirinha.]

So yes, let us get to the wolves that howled and dug up the shallow graves between the rescue missions!

Let us remember how Tamsen Donner passed up the chance to leave so that she might take care of her husband, George, whose wounded hand had become a gangrene arm.

Let us also speak of her three daughters in their linsey dresses and the little coats they wore, two red and one blue. Shall we remind ourselves that she gave these three cherubs over to two of the rescuers who had lingered longest with provisions and were most desperate to leave? That she induced them to take the girls with Luke Halloran's $1,500 in coined gold—$500 for each one's safe passage? And let us remember, too, that those two men took the money and then abandoned the girls to another cabin a mile away from Alder Creek, in Truckee with some of the others who remained.

(After all, lest you forget: not every character may play the hero, Dear Reader.)

The fourth relief, Eddy included, found the girls alive but barely, and not far away found the body of Mrs. Graves with the flesh stripped from both of her legs and one of her arms. Her breasts had been taken, too, yet her youngest child, an infant yet, howled as it clung to the remaining arm.

The snows raged until May of that year, when the final man, Lewis Keseberg was rescued, the rest of his family dead.