Bio: Harte, Bret (Francis Brett Harte) (härt), 1836-1902, American writer of short stories and humorous verse, b. Albany, N.Y. At 19 he went to California, where he tried his hand at teaching, clerking, and mining. In 1868 he helped establish the Overland Monthly, where his short stories and verse first appeared. He gained enormous success with the publication of The Luck of Roaring Camp, the first of his picturesque stories of Western local color, and with such later stories as The Outcasts of Poker Flat and Brown of Calaveras. Although Harte did not develop character and motivation, he had an observant eye and a brisk reportorial style. He was U.S. consul in Germany and Scotland from 1878 to 1885. The remainder of his life was spent near London.
In Rough and Ready, a mining camp in California, Dick Spindler has found gold. He builds himself an impressive house and, decides to invite his family, who always thought he was a loser, to spend Christmas with him. Several surprises turn up, including a pair of orphans and an uninvited grass widow.
Six passengers on a stage are bushwhacked by three road agents as they try to make it through Eagles Pass before the snow closes it for the winter. Believe it or not, this holiday story has a romantic angle as well