Stagecoach Driver

“The ‘ripper,’ or driver, who is bound to the gold regions of Pike’s Peak, is a queer specimen of humanity. He usually hails from one of the old Atlantic cities in fact, from settled America and, like the civilized man generally, he betrays a remarkable aptitude for facile descent into savagery. His dress is a harlequinade, typical of his disposition. Eschewing the chimney-pot or stove-pipe tile of the bourgeois, he affects the ‘Kossuth,’ an Anglo-American version of the sombrero, which converts felt into every shape and form, from the jaunty little head-covering of the modern sailor to the tall steeple-crown of the old Puritan. He disregards the trichotomy of St. Paul, and emulates St. Anthony and the American aborigines in the length of his locks, whose ends are curled inward, with a fascinating sausage-like roll not unlike the Cockney ‘aggrawator.’ If a young hand, he is probably in the buckskin mania, which may pass into the squaw mania, a disease which knows no cure: the symptoms are, a leather coat and overalls to match, embroidered if possible, and finished along the arms and legs with fringes cut as long as possible, while a pair of gaudy moccasins, resplendent with red and blue porcelain beads, fits his feet tightly as silken hose. I have heard of coats worth $250, vests $100, and pants $150 : indeed, the poorest of buckskin suits will cost $75, and if hard-worked it must be renewed every six months. The successful miner or the gambler in these lands the word is confined to the profession will add $10 gold buttons to the attractions of his attire. The older hand prefers to buckskin a ” wamba” or round-about, a red or rainbow-colored flannel over a check cotton shirt; his lower garments, garnished a tergo with leather, are turned into Hessians by being thrust inside his cow-hide Wellingtons; and, when in riding gear, he wraps below each knee a fold of deer, antelope, or cow skin, with edges scalloped where they fall over the feet, and gartered tightly against thorns and stirrup thongs, thus effecting that graceful elephantine bulge of the lower leg for which “Jack ashore” is justly celebrated. Those who suffer from sore eyes wear huge green goggles, which give a crab-like air to the physiognomy, and those who can not procure them line the circumorbital region with lampblack, which is supposed to act like the surma or kohl of the Orient. A broad leather belt supports on the right a revolver, generally Colt’s Navy or medium size (when Indian fighting is expected, the large dragoon pistol is universally preferred); and on the left, in a plain black sheath, or sometimes in the more ornamental Spanish scabbard, is a buck-horn or ivory-handled bowie-knife.”