Page 251. " an affair of honor "

This scene, where the Judge talks Couts out of arresting them for murder, seems unbelievable and makes Couts look a little stupid, until you bear in mind this incident summarised from Cout's diaries:

Couts seems to have also acquired the stereotyped traits of the "southern gentleman"—notably placing personal integrity above all else and a willingness to chastise those opponents threatening his honor. This became evident after an army officer, Major Justus McKinstry, verbally maligned Couts' new-found sweetheart, Ysidora Bandini. Incensed, Couts sent a friend, Lieutenant George Evans, with a note challenging McKinstry to a fight. Declining the summons, McKinstry chose instead to thrash it out with Evans in Old Town Plaza, much to the ire of Couts.

Page 252. " He quoted Coke and Blackstone, "

The legal writings of Coke and Blackstone were for many years recognised as primary texts in English and American law.


Sir Edward Coke (1 February 1552 - 3 September 1634)
Public DomainSir Edward Coke (1 February 1552 - 3 September 1634) - Credit: Thomas Athow

Sir Edward Coke was an English barrister, judge and politician. He was considered the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, and as Attorney General led the prosecution in several notable cases, including Robert Devereux, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. He did much to lay down the foundations of modern law in his Institutes, was instrumental in the passage of the Petition of Rights (a document considered one of the three crucial constitutional documents of England, along with the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights 1689), and profoundly influenced the Third and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution while necessitating the Sixteenth.


Sir William Blackstone (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780)
Public DomainSir William Blackstone (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780) - Credit: National Portrait Gallery













Sir William Blackstone was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the 18th century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England, a work which had a tremendous influence on English and American common law and which continues to be cited in Supreme Court decisions to this day.

Page 252. " Anaximander, Thales. "

Anaximander and Thales were pre-Socratic Greek philosophers from Miletus in Asia Minor.

Thales (c. 625 - 546 BC)
Public DomainThales (c. 625 - 546 BC) - Credit: Ernst Wallis


Thales was one of the Seven Sages of Greece, regarded by many, most notably Aristotle, as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition. His attempts to explain natural phenomena without reference to mythology would greatly influence subsequent philosophy and laid the foundations of the scientific revolution. As the first to define general principles and set forth hypotheses, he has been dubbed the ‘Father of Science’, and, as the first known individual to whom a mathematical discovery has been attributed, the first true mathematician. He founded the Milesian school, where he was master to Anaximander.


Anaximander (c. 610 BC - c. 546 BC)
Public DomainAnaximander (c. 610 BC - c. 546 BC) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons












Anaximander succeeded Thales to become the second master of the Milesian school where he counted Anaximens and possibly Pythagoras amongst his pupils. He is considered the first philosopher to have recorded his studies, although only one fragment of his work remains. He was an early proponent of science and tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest in its origins, claiming that nature is ruled by laws, just like human societies, and anything that disturbs the balance of nature does not last long. He also made significant contributions in astronomy, geometry and geography.

Page 254. " The parasalene "
Illustration of a Moon dog (1890)
Public DomainIllustration of a Moon dog (1890) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A parasalene is the scientific term for a lunar phenomenon commonly known as a moon dog. This is a relatively rare bright circular spot on a lunar halo, which shows little colour to the unaided eye because its light is not bright enough to activate the cone cells of humans' eyes.


Moon dog
Creative Commons AttributionMoon dog - Credit: Karl Frankowski
Page 255. " Ringgold "


Samuel B. Ringgold (1796 – May 11, 1846) was an artillery officer in the United States Army, responsible for several military innovations which led him to be called the "Father of Modern Artillery." He was also, according to some records, the first U.S. officer to fall in the Mexican-American War, perishing from wounds inflicted during the Battle of Palo Alto.

Page 255. " They rode that night through forests of saguaro up into the hills to the west. "
Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) forest, Arizona
Creative Commons AttributionSaguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) forest, Arizona - Credit: Alan Vernon

The saguaro is a large, tree-sized cactus. It is native to the Sonoran Desert in the US state of Arizona, the Mexican state of Sonora, a small part of Baja California in the San Felipe Desert and an extremely small area of California, USA.

The common name saguaro came into the English language through the Spanish language, originating in the O'odham language.

Page 256. " a woman named Sarah Borginnis led them to seek out the brother. She was a huge woman with a great red face and she read him riot. "
Depiction of Sarah Borginnis entitled The Great Western as Landlady (c. 1846)
Public DomainDepiction of Sarah Borginnis entitled The Great Western as Landlady (c. 1846) - Credit: Samuel E. Chamberlain
More commonly known as Sarah A. Bowman, Sarah Borginnis was an innkeeper and madam who gained fame as a camp follower of Zachary Taylor’s army during the Mexican American War.

Her statuesque physique (6 feet tall and weighing some 200 pounds) earned her the nickname the ‘Great Western’, in reference to the SS Great Western, for a time the largest ship in the world. She also became known as the ‘Heroine of Fort Brown’, after her bravery in continuing to provide the besieged American soldiers of Fort Brown with their daily schedule of three meals a day, even after bullets struck both her bonnet and bread tray.

After her death in 1866 from a spider bite, she was granted the title of honorary colonel and buried with military honours in the Fort Yuma cemetery.

Page 258. " they watched the fire which does contain within it something of men themselves inasmuch as they are less without it and are divided from their origins and are exiles. "

In Greek mythology Prometheus, a Titan, stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals.

Prometheus is therefore credited with playing a pivotal role in the early history of mankind.

Fire can represent power, knowledge and technology.

Page 266. " There were in the camp a number of Yuma indians. "
Illustration of Quechan indians (1857)
Public DomainIllustration of Quechan indians (1857) - Credit: William H. Emory
Quechan mother and daughter (c. 1890)
Public DomainQuechan mother and daughter (c. 1890) - Credit: walnutsantiques

The Yuma (properly known as Quechan, meaning ‘those who descended’) are a Native American tribe who live on the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation on the lower Colorado River in Arizona and California.

Although initially friendly towards the Spanish explorers who made contact in 1774, subsequent Spanish settlement among the Quechan did not go smoothly. In 1781, the tribe rebelled and killed 4 priests and 30 soldiers, and damaged the Spanish mission settlements San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer and Puerto de Purísima Concepción.

The tribe retained control of the area until the early 1850s when the territory was annexed by the United States following the Mexican-American War. Conflicts with the U.S. Army and other tribes, such as the Cocopah and Maricopa, took a severe toll on the tribe and by 1857 the Quechen were no longer a military power.

Page 266. " many of them were lovely and many more bore the marks of syphilis. "

When Spanish settlers started to arrive in Quechan territory in the late 1770s, they brought with them a number of diseases to which the Indians had no immunity, including syphilis.

Syphilis is a disease primarily transmitted through sexual contact, although it can also be passed from an infected mother to her unborn child. The signs and symptoms vary, including chancres, rashes upon the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, gummas, and neurological or cardiac symptoms. The exact origin of syphilis is unknown.

Page 270. " Cancer, Virgo, Leo raced the ecliptic down the southern night "
Constellation of Cancer
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeConstellation of Cancer - Credit: Till Credner
Constellation of Virgo
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeConstellation of Virgo - Credit: Till Credner
Constellation of Leo
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeConstellation of Leo - Credit: Till Credner

Cancer, Virgo, and Leo are three of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac.

Cancer (Latin for crab) is small and its stars are faint. lt lies between Gemini to the west and Leo to the east, Lynx to the north and Canis Minor and Hydra to the south,

Virgo (Latin for virgin) is the second largest constellation in the sky. It lies between Leo to the west and Libra to the east.

Leo (Latin for Lion) lies between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east.




The ecliptic is the plane of the earth’s orbit around the sun. The name ecliptic arises because eclipses occur when the full or new Moon is very close to this path of the Sun.


Celestial equator and ecliptic
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCelestial equator and ecliptic - Credit: Joshua Cesa
Photograph showing the plane of the ecliptic, taken from the 1994 lunar prospecting Clementine spacecraft
Public DomainPhotograph showing the plane of the ecliptic, taken from the 1994 lunar prospecting Clementine spacecraft - Credit: NASA
Page 270. " constellation of Cassiopeia "

In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia was the beautiful but vain queen of Ethiopia. Her boasts led Poseidon to threaten the whole country with a sea monster, who was to be appeased by the sacrifice of daughter Andromeda until Perseus saved her.

Poseidon punished Cassiopeia in any case.  He tied her to a chair in the heavens, in such a position that she would spend half of each year upside down.  So it is with the constellation named after her: it is sometimes upside down.