Short Story #119: The Outcasts of Poker Flat by Brett Harte

Title:  The Outcasts of Poker Flat

Author:  Brett Harte


Selected Stories of Brett Harte by Brett Harte. Puritan Publishing Company
John Oakhurst among a handful of others are rounded up and kicked out of Poker Flats in the midst of some attempt to become more civilized.  As they make their way across the untamed land, they eventually set up camp, unable to move further.  About this time, they encounter Tom Simson and his soon-to-be bride, Piney.  The two set up camp with them for the night and come morning are confronted with the starts of a storm.  The snow-storm rages on for days and keeps them from going anywhere.  However, food supplies and wood are running low and at least one member had fled.  Oakhurst attempts to help out Simson by creating a pair of snowshoes and guiding him to the path that he needs to take.  By the time that Simson returns, the entire group is dead.  Oakhurst is found near the gulch that he guided Simson to under a pine tree with a note on a tree.  He had shot himself rather than be a further strain on those back at the campsite.


It’s a decent story about castaways who often show a nobler side than what the town that kicked them out would have known.  The colorful characters are interesting but not nearly fleshed out enough to full enjoy.  The mix of humor and tragedy is a nice touch and seems to work well. 

Short Story #119 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/20/2014
Source:  Selected Stories of Brett Harte by Brett Harte. Puritan Publishing Company.  This entire anthology can be found at this page on the Gutenberg Project.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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