Read CHAPTER V - ENOUGH FOR FIVE MORE of Maw's Vacation The Story of a Human Being in the Yellowstone , free online book, by Emerson Hough, on

The spruce trees rustled amid their umbrageous boughs.  The sob of the saxophone still came through the window.  I saw Stella tremble through all her tall young body.  A tear fell upon the floor and rebounded against one of the rustic posts.

“No, No!” said she in sudden contrition, burying her face in both her shapely hands.  “Say anything but that!  I did not mean me hasty words.  My uncle is a congressman, and he has told me all.”

A silence fell between us.  The sob of the saxophone, still doing jazz, came through the window.  Once more I recalled the classic story ­no doubt you know it well.  A musician one evening passed a hat among the dancers, after a number had been concluded.

“Please, sir,” said he to each, “would you give fifty cents to bury a saxophone player?” Then out spoke one jovial guest, to the clink of his accompanying coin:  “Here’s three dollars, friend.  Bury six saxophone players!”

Absent-mindedly recalling this story I reached out my hand with a five-dollar bill in it, as I saw a quiet-looking gentleman passing by with a hat in his hand.

“Bury ten saxophone players,” I hissed through my set lips.  He turned to me mildly.

“Excuse me sir,” said he, “I am not an undertaker.  I am only the Secretary of the Interior.”

Of course one will make mistakes.  Still, under our form of government methinks the Secretary of the Interior really is responsible for the existence of saxophone players within the limits of the park.

In common with Maw and others, I realized that in many ways the park might be better.  It might be far more practicably administered.  This morning I met a procession of fifty women, all in overalls, who all looked precisely alike.  Maw was at their head.

“We’re going over to the store to get a loaf of bread,” said she, “and a picture of Old Faithful Geyser and a burnt-leather pillow.  And lookit here, mister, here is a book I bought for Roweny to read.  I can stand for most of it.  But here it says that the geysers is run by hot water, and when they freeze up in the winter the men that live in the park cut the ice and use it for foot warmers, it’s so hot.  That might be true, and then again it might not.  If it ain’t, why should they try to fool the people?”

I referred Maw to the superintendent of the park, with the explanation that he has full control over all the natural objects, and that if any geyser proves guilty of obnoxious conduct he is empowered to eject it.

“I dunno but what that would be the best way to do,” said she.  “If these places ain’t fit to walk on, summer or winter neither one, something ought to be done about it.

“But lookit here,” she went on, “if you want to see people busy, come down to our camp, some sundown.  There ain’t that many mosquitoes in all Ioway, and they call this place a national playground.  It ain’t no such place.  And yet, when I go to the post office, store, or the superintendent’s office, or the head clerk’s house, or the curio store to get some mosquito dope to rub on myself, they ain’t got no mosquito dope; but for four dollars you can buy a lovely leather pillow with ‘Mother’ on it.  What do I want with a leather pillow with ‘Mother’ on it when mosquitoes are biting; or a picture of an Indian on one side of a sheepskin; or bead bags; or moccasins that they say are made by the Indians?  What I want is mosquito dope and bread; something practical.  When you got a bite on your elbow you don’t care a durn about a card showing a picture of Artist Point, and I am as good a Presbyterian as anybody.  I say them stores ain’t practical.”

Quite often when I stroll down to interview Maw and her family at their camp I am able to obtain free expression of opinion on current matters.  The other evening Paw was hammering at something which at first looked like a piece of stone.

“It breaks right easy,” said he.  “I got this piece off the Angel Cake Terrace.  Having so many in the car I have to cut down the weight.  But what I and Maw want,” he said, “is a pair of them elk horns.  If I can get a good pair I allow to paint them red and black, with gold round the lower ends.  Maw and me think they’d look right good in the parlor.”