The Outcasts of Poker Flat Questions and Answers
by Bret Harte

The Outcasts of Poker Flat book cover
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What does the rescue party discover at the end of "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"?

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The rescue party first comes upon the cabin where the outcasts had been snow-bound at the end of the story.  There, they find the Dutchess and Piney Woods, where the author states, "you could scarcely have told from the equal peace that dwelt upon them, which was she that had sinned."  The cold and snow has taken away all traces of the Dutchess's sin and revealed that in death, both sinner and virgin are the same.  Thus, the party left them locked in each other's arms, embracing in death.  Finally, the rescue party comes to a gulch where the deuce of clubs (the lowest card in a poker hand) is tacked to a tree, and beneath lies the body of John Oakhurst.  Oakhurst had killed himself with his gun, because, as the author notes, he "was at once the strongest and yet the weakest of the outcasts of Poker Flat."  He had left the two women to fend for themselves, knowing that he wasn't going to make it back to town to reach a rescue party.

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