Part 4 out of 4
bid you good evening."
"Not so fast!" said the leader, putting his hand heavily on his
shoulder. "You deserve to be punished, and you shall be. Friends,
what shall we do with him?"
"Kill him! String him up!" shouted some.
The Rip-tail Roarer's swarthy face grew pale as he heard these
ominous words. He knew something of the wild, stern justice of those
days. He knew that more than one for an offense like his had
expiated his crime with his life.
"It seems to me," said the leader, "that the man he injured should
fix the penalty. Say you so?"
"Aye, aye!" shouted the miners.
"Will you two," turning to Joe and Bickford, "decide what shall be
done with this man? Shall we string him up?"
The Pike man's nerve gave way.
He flung himself on his knees before Joshua and cried:
"Mercy! mercy! Don't let them hang me!"
Joshua was not hard-hearted. He consulted with Joe and then said:
"I don't want the critter's life. If there was any wild-cats round,
I'd like to see him tackle his weight in 'em, as he says he can. As
there isn't, let him be tied on the old nag he put off on me, with
his head to the horse's tail, supplied with one day's provisions, and
then turned loose!"
This sentence was received with loud applause and laughter.
The horse was still in camp and was at once brought out. The man
from Pike was securely tied on as directed, and then the poor beast
was belabored with whips till he started off at the top of his speed,
which his old owner, on account of his reversed position, was unable
to regulate. He was followed by shouts and jeers from the miners,
who enjoyed this act of retributive justice.
"Mr. Bickford, you are avenged," said Joe,
"So I am, Joe. I'm glad I've got my hoss back; but I can't help
pityin' poor old Rip-tail, after all. I don't believe he ever killed
a wildcat in his life."
TAKING ACCOUNT OF STOCK
Three months passed. They were not eventful. The days were spent in
steady and monotonous work; the nights were passed around the
camp-fire, telling and hearing, stories and talking of home. Most of
their companions gambled and drank, but Mr. Bickford and Joe kept
clear of these pitfalls.
"Come, man, drink with me," more than once one of his comrades said
"No, thank you," said Joshua.
"Why not? Ain't I good enough?" asked the other, half offended.
"You mean I'm puttin' on airs 'cause I won't drink with you? No,
sir-ree. There isn't a man I'd drink with sooner than with you."
"Come up, then, old fellow. What'll you take?"
"I'll take a sandwich, if you insist on it."
"That's vittles. What'll you drink?"
"Nothing but water. That's strong enough for me."
"Danged if I don't believe you're a minister in disguise."
"I guess I'd make a cur'us preacher," said Joshua, with a comical
twist of his features. "You wouldn't want to hear me preach more'n
In this way our friend Mr. Bickford managed to evade the hospitable
invitations of his comrades and still retain their good-will--not
always an easy thing to achieve in those times.
Joe was equally positive in declining to drink, but it was easier for
him to escape. Even the most confirmed drinkers felt it to be wrong
to coax a boy to drink against his will.
There was still another--Kellogg--who steadfastly adhered to cold
water, or tea and coffee, as a beverage. These three were dubbed by
their companions the "Cold-Water Brigade," and accepted the
"Joshua," said Joe, some three months after their arrival, "have you
taken account of stock lately?"
"No," said Joshua, "but I'll do it now."
After a brief time he announced the result.
"I've got about five hundred dollars, or thereabouts," he said.
"You have done a little better than I have."
"How much have you?"
"About four hundred and fifty."
"I owe you twenty-five dollars, Joe. That'll make us even."
Joshua was about to transfer twenty-five dollars to Joe, when the
latter stayed his hand.
"Don't be in a hurry, Mr. Bickford," he said. "Wait till we get to
"Do you know, Joe," said Joshua, in a tone of satisfaction, "I am
richer than I was when I sot out from home?"
"I am glad to hear it, Mr. Bickford. You have worked hard, and
deserve your luck."
"I had only three hundred dollars then; now I've got four hundred and
seventy-five, takin' out what I owe you."
"You needn't take it out at all."
"You've done enough for me, Joe. I don't want you to give me that
"Remember, Joshua, I have got a business in the city paying me money
all the time. I expect my share of the profits will be more than I
have earned out here."
"That's good. I wish I'd got a business like you. You'd be all
right even if you only get enough to pay expenses here."
"I am getting rather tired of this place, Mr. Bickford," said Joe,
after a little pause.
"You don't think of going back to the city?" asked Joshua
"Not directly, but I think I should like to see a little more of
California. These are not the only diggings."
"Where do you want to go?"
"I haven't considered yet. The main thing is, will you go with me?"
"We won't part company, Joe."
"Good! Then I'll inquire, and see what I can find out about other
places. This pays fairly, but there is little chance of getting
nuggets of any size hereabouts."
"I'd just like to find one worth two thousand dollars. I'd start for
home mighty quick, and give Sukey Smith a chance to become Mrs.
"Success to you!" said Joe, laughing.
A STARTLING TABLEAU
Joe finally decided on some mines a hundred miles distant in a
southwesterly direction. They were reported to be rich and promising.
"At any rate," said he, "even if they are no better than here, we
shall get a little variety and change of scene."
"That'll be good for our appetite."
"I don't think, Mr. Bickford, that either of us need be concerned
about his appetite. Mine is remarkably healthy."
"Nothing was ever the matter with mine," said Joshua, "as long as the
provisions held out."
They made some few preparations of a necessary character. Their
clothing was in rags, and they got a new outfit at the mining store.
Each also provided himself with a rifle. The expense of these made
some inroads upon their stock of money, but by the time they were
ready to start they had eight hundred dollars between them, besides
their outfit, and this they considered satisfactory.
Kellogg at first proposed to go with them, but finally he changed his
"I am in a hurry to get home," he said, "and these mines are a sure
thing. If I were as young as you, I would take the risk. As it is,
I had better not. I've got a wife and child at home, and I want to
go back to them as soon as I can."
"You are right," said Joe.
"I've got a girl at home," said Joshua, "but I guess she'll wait for
"Suppose she don't," suggested Joe.
"I shan't break my heart," said Mr. Bickford. "There's more than one
girl in the world."
"I see you are a philosopher, Mr. Bickford," said his old
"I don't know about that, but I don't intend to make a fool of myself
for any gal. I shall say, 'Sukey, here I am; I've got a little
money, and I'm your'n till death if you say so. If you don't want
me, I won't commit susancide."
"That's a capital joke, Joshua," said Joe. "Her name is Susan, isn't
"Have I made a joke? Waal, I didn't go to do it."
"It is unconscious wit, Mr. Bickford," said Kellogg.
"Pooty good joke, ain't it?" said Joshua complacently. "Susan-cide,
and her name is Susan. Ho! ho! I never thought on't."
And Joshua roared in appreciation of the joke which he had
unwittingly perpetrated, for it must be explained that he thought
susan-cide the proper form of the word expressing a voluntary
severing of the vital cord.
Years afterward, when Joshua found himself the center of a social
throng, he was wont to say, "Ever heard that joke I made about
Susan?" and then he would cite it amid the plaudits of his friends.
Mr. Bickford and Joe had not disposed of their horses. They had
suffered them to forage in the neighborhood of the river, thinking it
possible that the time would come when they would require them.
One fine morning they set out from the camp near the banks of the
Yuba and set their faces in a southwesterly direction. They had made
themselves popular among their comrades, and the miners gave them a
hearty cheer as they started.
"Good luck, Joe! Good luck, old man!" they exclaimed heartily.
"The same to you, boy!"
So with mutual good feeling they parted company.
"We ain't leavin' like our friend from Pike County," said Mr.
Bickford. "I often think of the poor critter trottin' off with face
to the rear."
"I hope we shan't meet him or any of his kind," said Joe.
"So do I. He'd better go and live among the wildcats."
"He is some like them. He lives upon others."
It would only be wearisome to give a detailed account of the journey
of the two friends. One incident will suffice.
On the fourth day Joe suddenly exclaimed in excitement:
The exclamation was a natural one. At the distance of forty rods a
man was visible, his hat off, his face wild with fear, and in
dangerous proximity a grizzly bear of the largest size doggedly
"It's Hogan!" exclaimed Joe in surprise. "We must save him."
A GRIZZLY ON THE WAR-PATH
It may surprise some of my young friends to learn that the grizzly
bear is to be found in California. Though as the State has increased
in population mostly all have been killed off, even now among the
mountains they may be found, and occasionally visit the lower slopes
and attack men and beasts.
Hogan had had the ill-luck to encounter one of these animals.
When he first saw the grizzly there was a considerable space between
them. If he had concealed himself, he might have escaped the notice
of the beast, but when he commenced running the grizzly became aware
of his presence and started in pursuit.
Hogan was rather dilapidated in appearance. Trusting to luck instead
of labor, he had had a hard time, as he might have expected. His
flannel shirt was ragged and his nether garments showed the ravages
of time. In the race his hat had dropped off and his rough, unkempt
hair was erect with fright. He was running rapidly, but was already
showing signs of exhaustion. The bear was getting over the ground
with clumsy speed, appearing to take it easily, but overhauling his
intended victim slowly, but surely.
Joe and Bickford were standing on one side, and had not yet attracted
the attention of either party in this unequal race.
"Poor chap!" said Joshua. "He looks most tuckered out. Shall I
"Wait till the bear gets a little nearer. We can't afford to miss.
He will turn on us."
"I'm in a hurry to roll the beast over," said Joshua. "It's a cruel
sight to see a grizzly hunting a man."
At this moment Hogan turned his head with the terror-stricken look of
a man who felt that he was lost.
The bear was little more than a hundred feet behind him and was
gaining steadily. He was already terribly fatigued--his breathing
was reduced to a hoarse pant. He was overcome by the terror of the
situation, and his remaining strength gave way. With a shrill cry he
sank down upon the ground, and, shutting his eyes, awaited the attack.
The bear increased his speed.
"Now let him have it!" said Joe in a sharp, quick whisper.
Mr. Bickford fired, striking the grizzly in the face.
Bruin stood still and roared angrily. He wagged his large head from
one side to the other, seeking by whom this attack was made.
He espied the two friends, and, abandoning his pursuit of Hogan,
rolled angrily toward them.
"Give it to him quick, Joe!" exclaimed Bickford. "He's making for
Joe held his rifle with steady hand and took deliberate aim. It was
well he did, for had he failed both he and Bickford would have been
in great peril.
His faithful rifle did good service.
The bear tumbled to the earth with sudden awkwardness. The bullet
had reached a vital part and the grizzly was destined to do no more
"Is he dead, or only feigning?" asked Joe prudently.
"He's a gone coon," said Joshua. "Let us go up and look at him."
They went up and stood over the huge beast. He was not quite dead.
He opened his glazing eyes, made a convulsive movement with his paws
as if he would like to attack his foes, and then his head fell back
and he moved no more.
"He's gone, sure enough," said Bickford. "Good-by, old grizzly. You
meant well, but circumstances interfered with your good intentions."
"Now let us look up Hogan," said Joe.
The man had sunk to the ground utterly exhausted, and in his weakness
and terror had fainted.
Joe got some water and threw it in his face.
He opened his eyes and drew a deep breath. A sudden recollection
blanched his face anew, and he cried:
"Don't let him get at me!"
"You're safe, Mr. Hogan," said Joe. "The bear is dead."
"Dead! Is he really dead?"
"If you don't believe it, get up and look at him," said Bickford.
"I can't get up--I'm so weak."
"Let me help you, then. There--do you see the critter?"
Hogan shuddered as he caught sight of the huge beast only twenty-five
feet distant from him.
"Was he as near as that?" he gasped.
"He almost had you," said Bickford. "If it hadn't been for Joe and
me, he'd have been munchin' you at this identical minute. Things
have changed a little, and in place of the bear eatin' you you shall
help eat the bear."
By this time Hogan, realizing that he was safe, began to recover his
strength. As he did so he became angry with the beast that had
driven him such a hard race for life. He ran up to the grizzly and
"Take that!" he exclaimed with an oath. "I wish you wasn't dead, so
that I could stick my knife into you."
"If he wasn't dead you'd keep your distance," said Joshua dryly. "It
don't require much courage to tackle him now."
Hogan felt this to be a reflection upon his courage.
"I guess you'd have run, too, if he'd been after you," he said.
"I guess I should. Bears are all very well in their place, but I'd
rather not mingle with 'em socially. They're very affectionate and
fond of hugging, but if I'm going to be hugged I wouldn't choose a
"You seem to think I was a coward for runnin' from the bear."
"No, I don't. How do I know you was runnin' from the bear? Maybe
you was only takin' a little exercise to get up an appetite for
"I am faint and weak," said Hogan. "I haven't had anything to eat
for twelve hours."
"You shall have some food," said Joe. "Joshua, where are the
provisions? We may as well sit down and lunch."
"Jest as you say, Joe. I most generally have an appetite."
There was a mountain spring within a stone's throw. Joshua took a
tin pail and brought some of the sparkling beverage, which he offered
first to Hogan.
Hogan drank greedily. His throat was parched and dry, and he needed
He drew a deep breath of relief.
"I feel better," said he. "I was in search of a spring when that
cursed beast spied me and gave me chase."
They sat down under the shade of a large tree and lunched.
"What sort of luck have you had since you tried to break into my
restaurant, Mr. Hogan?" asked Joe.
Hogan changed color. The question was an awkward one.
"Who told you I tried to enter your restaurant?" he asked.
"The man you brought there."
"That wasn't creditable of you, Hogan," said Joshua, with his mouth
full. "After my friend Joe had given you a supper and promised you
breakfast, it was unkind to try to rob him. Don't you think so
"I couldn't help it," said Hogan, who had rapidly decided on his
"Couldn't help it?" said Joe in a tone of inquiry. "That's rather a
"It's true," said Hogan. "The man forced me to do it."
"How was that?"
"He saw me comin' out of the restaurant a little while before, and
when he met me, after trying to rob me and finding that it didn't
pay, he asked me if I was a friend of yours. I told him I was. Then
he began to ask if you slept there at night and if anybody was with
you. I didn't want to answer, but he held a pistol at my head and
forced me to. Then he made me go with him. I offered to get in,
thinking I could whisper in your ear and warn you, but he wouldn't
let me. He stationed me at the window and got in himself. You know
what followed. As soon as I saw you were too strong for him I ran
away, fearing that he might try to implicate me in the attempt at
Hogan recited this story very glibly and in a very plausible manner.
"Mr. Hogan," said Joe, "if I didn't know you so thoroughly, I might
be disposed to put confidence in your statements. As it is, I regret
to say I don't believe you."
"Hogan," said Joshua, "I think you're one of the fust romancers of
the age. If I ever start a story-paper I'll engage you to write for
"I am sorry you do me so much injustice, gentlemen," said Hogan, with
an air of suffering innocence. "I'm the victim of circumstances."
"I expect you're a second George Washington. You never told a lie,
"Some time you will know me better," said Hogan.
"I hope not," said Joe. "I know you better now than I want to."
THE NEW DIGGINGS
When lunch-was over, Joe said:
"Good day, Mr. Hogan. Look out for the grizzlies, and may you have
better luck in future."
"Yes, Hogan, good by," said Joshua. "We make over to you all our
interest in the bear. He meant to eat you. You can revenge yourself
by eatin' him."
"Are you going to leave me, gentlemen?" asked Hogan in alarm.
"You don't expect us to stay and take care of you, do you?"
"Let me go with you," pleaded Hogan. "I am afraid to be left alone
in this country. I may meet another grizzly, and lose my life."
"That would be a great loss to the world," said Mr. Bickford, with
"It would be a great loss to me," said Hogan.
"Maybe that's the best way to put it," observed Bickford. "It would
have been money in my friend Joe's pocket if you had never been born."
"May I go with you?" pleaded Hogan, this time addressing himself to
"Mr. Hogan," said Joe, "you know very well why your company is not
acceptable to us."
"You shall have no occasion to complain," said Hogan earnestly.
"Do you want us to adopt you, Hogan?" asked Joshua.
"Let me stay with you till we reach the nearest diggings. Then I
won't trouble you any more."
Joe turned to Bickford.
"If you don't object," he said, "I think I'll let him come."
"Let the critter come," said Bickford. "He'd be sure to choke any
grizzly that tackled him. For the sake of the bear, let him come."
Mr. Hogan was too glad to join the party, on any conditions, to
resent the tone which Mr. Bickford employed in addressing him. He
obtained his suit, and the party of three kept on their way.
As they advanced the country became rougher and more hilly. Here and
there they saw evidences of "prospecting" by former visitors. They
came upon deserted claims and the sites of former camps. But in
these places the indications of gold had not been sufficiently
favorable to warrant continued work, and the miners had gone
At last, however, they came to a dozen men who were busily at work in
a gulch. Two rude huts near-by evidently served as their temporary
"Well, boys, how do you find it?" inquired Bickford, riding up.
"Pretty fair," said one of the party.
"Have you got room for three more?"
"Yes--come along. You can select claims alongside and go to work if
you want to."
"What do you say, Joe?"
"I am in favor of it."
"We are going to put up here, Hogan," said Mr. Bickford. "You can do
as you've a mind to. Much as we value your interestin' society, we
hope you won't put yourself out to stay on our account."
"I'll stay," said Hogan.
Joe and Joshua surveyed the ground and staked out their claims,
writing out the usual notice and posting it on a neighboring tree.
They had not all the requisite tools, but these they were able to
purchase at one of the cabins.
"What shall I do?" asked Hogan. "I'm dead broke. I can't work
without tools, and I can't buy any."
"Do you want to work for me?" asked Joshua.
"What'll you give?"
"That'll depend on how you work. If you work stiddy, I'll give you a
quarter of what we both make. I'll supply you with tools, but
they'll belong to me."
"Suppose we don't make anything," suggested Hogan.
"You shall have a quarter of that. You see, I want to make it for
your interest to succeed."
"Then I shall starve."
The bargain was modified so that Hogan was assured of enough to eat,
and was promised, besides, a small sum of money daily, but was not to
participate in the gains.
"If we find a nugget, it won't do you any good. Do you understand,
"Yes, I understand."
He shrugged his shoulders, having very little faith in any
"Then we understand each other. That's all I want."
On the second day Joe and Mr. Bickford consolidated their claims and
became partners, agreeing to divide whatever they found. Hogan was
to work for them jointly.
They did not find their hired man altogether satisfactory. He was
lazy and shiftless by nature, and work was irksome to him.
"If you don't work stiddy, Hogan," said Joshua, "you can't expect to
eat stiddy, and your appetite is pretty reg'lar, I notice."
Under this stimulus Hogan managed to work better than he had done
since he came out to California, or indeed for years preceding his
departure. Bickford and Joe had both been accustomed to farm work
and easily lapsed into their old habits.
They found they had made a change for the better in leaving the banks
of the Yuba. The claims they were now working paid them better.
"Twenty-five dollars to-day," said Joshua, a week after their
arrival. "That pays better than hoeing pertaters, Joe."
"You are right, Mr. Bickford. You are ten dollars ahead of me. I am
afraid you will lose on our partnership."
"I'll risk it, Joe."
Hogan was the only member of the party who was not satisfied.
"Can't you take me into partnership?" he asked.
"We can, but I don't think we will, Hogan," said Mr. Bickford.
"It wouldn't pay. If you don't like workin' for us, you can take a
claim of your own."
"I have no tools."
"Why don't you save your money and buy some, instead of gamblin' it
away as you are doin'?"
"A man must have amusement," grumbled Hogan. "Besides, I may have
luck and win."
"Better keep clear of gamblin', Hogan."
"Mr. Hogan, if you want to start a claim of your own, I'll give you
what tools you need," said Joe.
Upon reflection Hogan decided to accept this offer.
"But of course you will have to find your own vittles now," said
"I'll do it," said Hogan.
The same day he ceased to work for the firm of Bickford & Mason, for
Joe insisted on giving Mr. Bickford the precedence as the senior
party, and started on his own account.
The result was that he worked considerably less than before. Being
his own master, he decided not to overwork himself, and in fact
worked only enough to make his board. He was continually grumbling
over his bad luck, although Joshua told him plainly that it wasn't
luck, but industry, he lacked.
"If you'd work like we do," said Bickford, "you wouldn't need to
complain. Your claim is just as good as ours, as far as we can tell."
"Then let us go in as partners," said Hogan.
"Not much. You ain't the kind of partner I want."
"I was always unfortunate," said Hogan.
"You were always lazy, I reckon. You were born tired, weren't you?"
"My health ain't good," said Hogan. "I can't work like you two."
"You've got a healthy appetite," said Mr. Bickford. "There ain't no
trouble there that I can see."
Mr. Hogan had an easier time than before, but he hadn't money to
gamble with unless he deprived himself of his customary supply of
food, and this he was reluctant to do.
"Lend me half-an-ounce of gold-dust, won't you?" he asked of Joe one
"What do you want it for--to gamble with?"
"Yes," said Hogan. "I dreamed last night that I broke the bank. All
I want is money enough to start me."
"I don't approve of gambling, and can't help you."
Hogan next tried Mr. Bickford, but with like result.
"I ain't quite such a fool, Hogan," said the plain-spoken Joshua.
About this time a stroke of good luck fell to Joe. bout three
o'clock one afternoon he unearthed a nugget which, at a rough
estimate, might be worth five hundred dollars.
Instantly all was excitement in the mining-camp, not alone for what
he had obtained, but for the promise of richer deposits. Experienced
miners decided that he had, struck upon what is popularly called a
"pocket," and some of these are immensely remunerative.
"Shake hands, Joe," said Bickford. "You're in luck."
"So are you, Mr. Bickford. We are partners, you know."
In less than an hour the two partners received an offer of eight
thousand dollars for their united claim, and the offer was accepted.
Joe was the hero of the camp. All were rejoiced at his good fortune
except one. That one was Hogan, who from a little distance, jealous
and gloomy, surveyed the excited crowd.
"Why don't luck come to me?" muttered Hogan to himself. "That green
country boy has made a fortune, while I, an experienced man of the
world, have to live from hand to mouth. It's an outrage!"
The parties to whom Joe and his partner sold their claim were
responsible men who had been fortunate in mining and had a
bank-account in San Francisco.
"We'll give you an order on our banker," they proposed.
"That will suit me better than money down," said Joe. "I shall start
for San Francisco to-morrow, having other business there that I need
to look after."
"I'll go too, Joe," said Joshua. "With my share of the
purchase-money and the nugget, I'm worth, nigh on to five thousand
dollars. What will dad say?"
"And what will Susan Smith say?" queried Joe.
"I guess she'll say she's ready to change her name to Bickford," said
"You must send me some of the cake, Mr. Bickford."
"Just wait, Joe. The thing ain't got to that yet. I tell you, Joe,
I shall be somebody when I get home to Pumpkin Hollow with that pile
of money. The boys'll begin to look up to me then. I can't hardly
believe it's all true. Maybe I'm dreamin' it. Jest pinch my arm,
Joe complied with his request.
"That'll do, Joe. You've got some strength in your fingers. I guess
it's true, after all."
Joe observed with some surprise that Hogan did not come near them.
The rest, without exception, had congratulated them on their
extraordinary good luck.
"Seems to me Hogan looks rather down in the mouth," said Joe to
"He's mad 'cause he didn't find the nugget. That's what's the matter
with him. I say, Hogan, you look as if your dinner didn't agree with
"My luck don't agree with me."
"You don't seem to look at things right. Wasn't you lucky the other
day to get away from the bear?"
"I was unlucky enough to fall in with him."
"Wasn't you lucky in meetin' my friend Joe in New York, and raisin'
money enough out of him to pay your passage out to Californy?"
"I should be better off in New York. I am dead broke."
"You'd be dead broke in New York. Such fellers as you always is dead
"Do you mean to insult me, Mr. Bickford?" demanded Hogan irritably.
"Oh, don't rare up, Hogan. It won't do no good. You'd ought to have
more respect for me, considerin' I was your boss once."
"I'd give something for that boy's luck."
"Joe's luck? Well, things have gone pretty well with turn; but that
don't explain all his success--he's willin' to work."
"So am I."
"Then go to work on your claim. There's no knowin' but there's a
bigger nugget inside of it. If you stand round with your hands in
your pockets, you'll never find it."
"It's the poorest claim in the gulch," said Hogan discontentedly.
"It pays the poorest because you don't work half the time."
Hogan apparently didn't like Mr. Bickford's plainness of speech. He
walked away moodily, with his hands in his pockets. He could not
help contrasting his penniless position with the enviable position of
the two friends, and the devil, who is always in wait for such
moments, thrust an evil suggestion into his mind.
It was this:
He asked himself why could he not steal the nugget which Joe had
"He can spare it, for he has sold the claim for a fortune," Hogan
reasoned. "It isn't fair that he should have everything and I should
have nothing. He ought to have made me his partner, anyway. He
would if he hadn't been so selfish. I have just as much right to a
share in it as this infernal Yankee. I'd like to choke him."
This argument was a very weak one, but a man easily persuades himself
of what he wants to do.
"I'll try for it," Hogan decided, "this very night."
THE NUGGET IS STOLEN.
At this time Joe and Joshua were occupying a tent which they had
purchased on favorable terms of a fellow miner.
They retired in good season, for they wished to start early on their
journey on the following morning.
"I don't know as I can go to sleep," said Joshua. "I can't help
thinkin' of how rich I am, and what dad and all the folks will say."
"Do you mean to go home at once, Mr. Bickford?"
"Jest as soon as I can get ready. I'll tell you what I am goin' to
do, Joe. I'm goin' to buy a tip-top suit when I get to Boston, and a
gold watch and chain, and a breast-pin about as big as a saucer.
When I sail into Pumpkin Holler in that rig folks'll look at me, you
bet. There's old Squire Pennyroyal, he'll be disappointed for one."
"Why will he be disappointed?"
"Because he told dad I was a fool to come out here. He said I'd be
back in rags before a year was out. Now, the old man thinks a good
deal of his opinion, and he won't like it to find how badly he's
"Then he would prefer to see you come home in rags?"
"You bet he would."
"How about Susan? Ain't you afraid she has married the store clerk?"
Joshua looked grave for a moment.
"I won't say but she has," said he; "but if she has gone and
forgotten about me jest because my back is turned, she ain't the gal
I take her for, and I won't fret my gizzard about her."
"She will feel worse than you when she finds you have come back with
"And you will easily find some one else," suggested Joe.
"There's Sophrony Thompson thinks a sight of me," said Mr. Bickford.
"She's awful jealous of Susan. If Susan goes back on me, I'll call
round and see Sophrony."
"I won't feel anxious about you, Joshua," he said, "since I find you
have two girls to choose between."
"Not much danger of breakin' my heart. It's pretty tough."
There was a brief silence.
Then Joshua said:
"What are your plans, Joe? Shall you remain in San Francisco?"
"I've been thinking, Mr. Bickford, that I would like to go home on a
visit. If I find that I have left my business in good hands in the
city, I shall feel strongly tempted to go home on the same steamer
"That would be hunky," said Bickford, really delighted. "We'd have a
I think we would. But, Mr. Bickford, I have no girls to welcome me
home, as you have."
"You ain't old enough yet, Joe. You're a good-lookin' feller, and
when the time comes I guess you can find somebody."
"I don't begin to trouble myself about such things yet," said Joe,
laughing. "I am only sixteen."
"You've been through considerable, Joe, for a boy of sixteen. I wish
you'd come up to Pumpkin Holler and make me a visit when you're to
"Perhaps I can arrange to be present at your wedding, Mr.
Bickford--that is, if Susan doesn't make you wait too long."
While this conversation was going on the dark figure of a man was
prowling near the tent.
"Why don't the fools stop talking and go to sleep," muttered Hogan.
"I don't want to wait here all night." His wish was gratified.
The two friends ceased talking and lay quite still. Soon Joe's deep,
regular breathing and Bickford's snoring convinced the listener that
the time had come to carry out his plans.
With stealthy step he approached the tent, and stooping over gently
removed the nugget from under Joshua's head. There was a bag of
gold-dust which escaped his notice. The nugget was all he thought of.
With beating heart and hasty step the thief melted into the darkness,
and the two friends slept on unconscious of their loss.
The sun was up an hour before Joe and Bickford awoke. When Joe
opened his eyes he saw that it was later than the hour he intended to
rise. He shook his companion.
"Is it mornin'?" asked Bickford drowsily.
"I should say it was. Everybody is up and eating breakfast. We must
prepare to set out on our journey."
"Then it is time--we are rich," said Joshua, with sudden remembrance.
"Do you know, Joe, I hain't got used to the thought yet. I had
actually forgotten it."
"The sight of the nugget will bring it to mind."
Bickford felt for the nugget, without a suspicion that the search
would be in vain.
Of course he did not find it.
"Joe, you are trying to play a trick on me," he said. "You've taken
"What!" exclaimed Joe, starting. "Is it missing?"
"Yes, and you know all about it. Where have you put it, Joe?"
"On my honor, Joshua, I haven't touched it," said Joe seriously.
"Where did you place it?"
"Under my head--the last thing before I lay down."
"Are you positive of it?"
"Then," said Joe, a little pale, "it must have been taken during the
"Who would take it?"
"Let us find Hogan," said Joe, with instinctive suspicion. "Who has
Hogan's claim was in sight, but he was not at work. Neither was he
"I'll bet the skunk has grabbed the nugget and cleared out,"
exclaimed Bickford, in a tone of conviction.
"Did you hear or see anything of him during the night?"
"No--I slept too sound."
"Is anything else taken?" asked Joe. "The bag of dust------"
"Is safe. It's only the nugget that's gone."
The loss was quickly noised about the camp. Such an incident was of
common interest. Miners lived so much in common--their property was
necessarily left so unguarded--that theft was something more than
misdemeanor or light offense. Stern was the justice which overtook
the thief in those days. It was necessary, perhaps, for it was a
primitive state of society, and the code which in established
communities was a safeguard did not extend its protection here.
Suspicion fell upon Hogan at once. No one of the miners remembered
to have seen him since rising.
"Did any one see him last night?" asked Joe.
"I saw him near your tent," he said. "I did not think anything of
it. Perhaps if I had been less sleepy I should have been more likely
to suspect that his design was not a good one."
"About what hour was this?"
"It must have been between ten and eleven o'clock."
"We did not go to sleep at once. Mr. Bickford and I were talking
over our plans."
"I wish I'd been awake when the skunk come round," said Bickford.
"I'd have grabbed him so he'd thought an old grizzly'd got hold of
"Did you notice anything in his manner that led you to think he
intended robbery?" asked Kellogg.
"He was complainin' of his luck. He thought Joe and I got more than
our share, and I'm willin' to allow we have; but if we'd been as lazy
and shif'less as Hogan we wouldn't have got down to the nugget at
An informal council was held, and it was decided to pursue Hogan. As
it was uncertain in which direction he had fled, it was resolved to
send out four parties of two men each to hunt him. Joe and Kellogg
went together, Joshua and another miner departed in a different
direction, and two other pairs started out.
"I guess we'll fix him," said Mr. Bickford. "If he can dodge us all,
he's smarter than I think he is."
Meanwhile Hogan, with the precious nugget in his possession, hurried
forward with feverish haste. The night was dark and the country was
broken. From time to time he stumbled over some obstacle, the root
of a tree or something similar, and this made his journey more
"I wish it was light," he muttered.
Then he revoked his wish. In the darkness and obscurity lay his
hopes of escape.
"I'd give half this nugget if I was safe in San Francisco," he said
He stumbled on, occasionally forced by his fatigue to sit down and
"I hope I'm going in the right direction, but I don't know," he said
He had been traveling with occasional rests for four hours when
fatigue overcame him. He lay down to take a slight nap, but when he
awoke the sun was up.
"Good Heaven!" he exclaimed in alarm. "I must have slept for some
hours. I will eat something to give me strength, and then I must
He had taken the precaution to take some provisions with him, and he
began to eat them as he hurried along.
"They have just discovered their loss," thought Hogan. "Will they
follow me, I wonder? I must be a good twelve miles away, and this is
a fair start. They will turn back before they have come as far as
this. Besides, they won't know in what direction I have come."
Hogan was mistaken in supposing himself to be twelve miles away. In
reality, he was not eight. During the night he had traveled at
disadvantage, and taken a round-about way without being aware of it.
He was mistaken also in supposing that the pursuit would be easily
abandoned. Mining communities could not afford to condone theft, nor
were they disposed to facilitate the escape of the thief. More than
once the murderer had escaped, while the thief was pursued
relentlessly. All this made Hogan's position a perilous one. If he
had been long enough in the country to understand the feeling of the
people, he would not have ventured to steal the nugget.
About eleven o'clock Hogan sat down to rest. He reclined on the
greensward near the edge of a precipitous descent. He did not dream
that danger was so close till he heard his name called and two men
came running toward him. Hogan, starting to his feet in dismay,
recognized Crane and Peabody, two of his late comrades.
"What do you want?" he faltered, as they came within hearing.
"The nugget," said Crane sternly.
Hogan would have denied its possession if he could, but there it was
at his side.
"There it is," he said.
"What induced you to steal it?" demanded Crane.
"I was dead broke. Luck was against me. I couldn't help it."
"It was a bad day's work for you," said Peabody. "Didn't you know
the penalty attached to theft in the mining-camps?"
"No," faltered Hogan, alarmed at the stem looks of his captors.
"What is it?"
"Death by hanging," was the terrible reply.
Hogan's face blanched, and he sank on his knees before them.
"Don't let me be hung!" he entreated. "You've got the nugget back.
I've done no harm. No one has lost anything by me."
"Eight of us have lost our time in pursuing you. You gave up the
nugget because you were forced to. You intended to carry it away."
"Mercy! mercy! I'm a very unlucky man. I'll go away and never
trouble you again."
"We don't mean that you shall," said Crane sternly. "Peabody, tie
his hands; we must take him back with us."
"I won't go," said Hogan, lying down. "I am not going back to be
It would obviously be impossible to carry a struggling man back
fifteen miles, or more.
"We must hang you on the spot then," said Crane, producing a cord.
"Say your prayers; your fate is sealed."
"But this is murder!" faltered Hogan, with pallid lips.
"We take the responsibility."
He advanced toward Hogan, who now felt the full horrors of his
situation. He sprang to his feet, rushed in frantic fear to the edge
of the precipice, threw up his arms, and plunged headlong. It was
done so quickly that neither of his captors was able to prevent him.
They hurried to the precipice and looked over. A hundred feet below,
on a rough rock, they saw a shapeless and motionless figure, crushed
out of human semblance.
"Perhaps it is as well," said Crane gravely. "He has saved us an
The nugget was restored to its owners, to whom Hogan's tragical fate
"Poor fellow!" said Joe soberly. "I would rather have lost the
"So would I," said Bickford. "He was a poor, shif'less critter; but
I'm sorry for him."
HOW JOE'S BUSINESS PROSPERED
Joe and his friend Bickford arrived in San Francisco eight days later
without having met with any other misadventure or drawback. He had
been absent less than three months, yet he found changes. A
considerable number of buildings had gone up in different parts of
the town during his absence.
"It is a wonderful place," said Joe to his companion.
"It is going to be a great city some day."
"It's ahead of Pumpkin Holler already," said Mr. Bickford, "though
the Holler has been goin' for over a hundred years."
Joe smiled at the comparison. He thought he could foresee the rapid
progress of the new city, but he was far from comprehending the
magnificent future that lay before it. A short time since, the
writer of this story ascended to the roof of the Palace Hotel, and
from this lofty elevation, a hundred and forty feet above the
sidewalk, scanned with delighted eyes a handsome and substantial
city, apparently the growth of a century, and including within its
broad limits a population of three hundred thousand souls. It will
not be many years before it reaches half-a-million, and may fairly be
ranked among the great cities of the world.
Of course Joe's first visit was to his old place of business. He
received a hearty greeting from Watson, his deputy.
"I am glad to see you, Joe," said he, grasping our hero's hand
cordially. "When did you arrive?"
"Ten minutes ago. I have made you the first call."
"Perhaps you thought I might have 'vamosed the ranch,'" said Watson,
smiling, "and left you and the business in the lurch."
"I had no fears on that score," said Joe. "Has business been good?"
"Excellent. I have paid weekly your share of the profits to Mr.
"Am I a millionaire yet?" asked Joe.
"Not quite. I have paid Mr. Morgan on your account"--here Watson
consulted a small account-book--"nine hundred and twenty-five
"Is it possible?" said Joe, gratified. "That is splendid."
"Then you are satisfied?"
"More than satisfied."
"I am glad of it. I have made the same for myself and so have nearly
half made up the sum which I so foolishly squandered at the
"I am glad for you, Mr. Watson."
"How have you prospered at the mines?"
"I have had excellent luck."
"I don't believe you bring home as much money as I have made for you
"Don't bet on that, Mr. Watson, for you would lose."
"You don't mean to say that you have made a thousand dollars?"
exclaimed Watson, surprised.
"I have made five thousand dollars within a hundred or two."
"Is it possible!" ejaculated Watson. "You beat everything for luck,
"So he does," said Bickford, who felt that it was time for him to
speak. "It's lucky for me that I fell in with him. It brought me
luck, too, for we went into partnership together."
"Have you brought home five thousand dollars, too?" asked Watson.
"I've got about the same as Joe, and now I'm going home to marry
Susan Smith if she'll have me."
"She'll marry a rich miner, Mr. Bickford. You needn't be concerned
"I feel pretty easy in mind," said Joshua.
"How soon do you sail?"
"When does the next steamer go?"
"In six days."
"I guess it'll carry me."
Watson turned to Joe.
"I suppose you will now take charge of your own business?" said lie.
"I am ready to hand over my trust at any minute."
"Would you object to retaining charge for--say for four months to
come?" asked Joe.
"Object? I should be delighted to do it. I couldn't expect to make
as much money any other way."
"You see, Mr. Watson, I am thinking of going home myself on a visit.
I feel that I can afford it, and I should like to see my old friends
and acquaintances under my new and improved circumstances."
Watson was evidently elated at the prospect of continued employment
of so remunerative a character.
"You may depend upon it that your interests are safe in my hands,"
said he. "I will carry on the business as if it were my own.
Indeed, it will be for my interest to do so."
"I don't doubt it, Mr. Watson. I have perfect confidence In your
Joe's next call was on his friend Morgan, by whom also he was
"Have you called on Watson?" he asked.
"Then he has probably given you an idea of how your business has gone
on during your absence. He is a thoroughly reliable man, in my
opinion. You were fortunate to secure his services."
"So I think."
"Have you done well at the mines?" asked Mr. Morgan doubtfully.
"You hope so, but you don't feel confident?" said Joe, smiling.
"You can read my thoughts exactly. I don't consider mining as
reliable as a regular business."
"Nor I, in general, but there is one thing you don't take into
"What is that?"
Mr. Bickford answered the question.
"Then you have been lucky?"
"How much do you think I have brought home?"
"A thousand dollars?"
"Five times that sum."
"Are you in earnest?" asked Mr. Morgan, incredulous.
"Then let me congratulate you--on that and something else."
"What is that?"
"The lots you purchased, including the one on which your restaurant
is situated, have more than doubled in value."
"Bully for you, Joe!" exclaimed Mr. Bickford enthusiastically.
"It never rains but it pours," said Joe, quoting an old proverb. "I
begin to think I shall be rich some time, Mr. Morgan."
"It seems very much like it."
"What would you advise me to do, Mr. Morgan--sell out the lots at the
"Hold on to them, Joe. Not only do that, but buy more. This is
destined some day to be a great city. It has a favorable location,
is the great mining center, and the State, I feel convinced, has an
immense territory fit for agricultural purposes. Lots here may
fluctuate, but they will go up a good deal higher than present
"If you think so, Mr. Morgan, I will leave in your hands three
thousand dollars for investment in other lots. This will leave me,
including my profits from the business during my absence, nearly
three thousand dollars more, which I shall take East and invest
"I will follow your instructions, Joe, and predict that your real
estate investments will make you rich sooner than you think."
"Joe," said Bickford, "I've a great mind to leave half of my money
with Mr. Morgan to be invested in the same way."
"Do it, Mr. Bickford. That will leave you enough to use at home."
"Yes--I can buy a farm for two thousand dollars and stock it for five
hundred more. Besides, I needn't pay more than half down, if I don't
"A good plan," said Joe.
"Mr. Morgan, will you take my money and invest it for me just like
Joe's? Of course I want you to take a commission for doing it."
"With pleasure, Mr. Bickford, more especially as I have decided to
open a real estate office in addition to my regular business. You
and Joe will be my first customers. I shouldn't wonder if the two or
three thousand dollars you leave with me should amount in ten years
to ten thousand."
"Ten thousand!" ejaculated Joshua, elated. "Won't I swell round
Pumpkin Holler when I'm worth ten thousand dollars!"
Six days later, among the passengers by the steamer for Panama, were
Joseph Mason and Joshua Bickford.
JOE'S WELCOME HOME
On arriving in New York both Joe and Mr. Bickford bought new suits of
clothes. Mr. Bickford purchased a blue dress suit, resplendent with
brass buttons, and a gold watch and chain, which made a good deal of
show for the money. His tastes were still barbaric, and a quiet suit
of black would not have come up to his idea of what was befitting a
successful California miner.
He surveyed himself before the tailor's glass with abundant
"I guess that'll strike 'em at home, eh, Joe?" he said.
"You look splendid, Mr. Bickford."
"Kinder scrumptious, don't I?"
"I say, Joe, you'd better have a suit made just like this."
Joe shuddered at the thought. In refinement of taste he was
decidedly ahead of his friend and partner.
"I'm going to buy a second-hand suit," he said.
"What!" ejaculated Joshua.
"I knew you'd be surprised, but I'll explain. I want people to think
at first that I have been unlucky."
"Oh, I see," said Joshua, nodding; "kinder take 'em in."
"Just so, Mr. Bickford."
"Well, there is something in that."
"Then I shall find out who my true friends are."
* * * * *
It is not my purpose to describe Mr. Bickford's arrival in Pumpkin
Hollow, resplendent in his new suit. Joshua wouldn't have changed
places with the President of the United States on that day. His old
friends gathered about him, and listened open-mouthed to his stories
of mining life in California and his own wonderful exploits, which
lost nothing in the telling. He found his faithful Susan unmarried,
and lost no time in renewing his suit. He came, he saw, he conquered!
In four weeks Susan became Mrs. Bickford, her husband became the
owner of the farm he coveted, and he at once took his place among the
prominent men of Pumpkin Hollow. In a few years he was appointed
justice of the peace, and became known as Squire Bickford. It may be
as well to state here, before taking leave of him, that his real
estate investments in San Francisco proved fortunate, and in ten
years he found himself worth ten thousand dollars. This to Joshua
was a fortune, and he is looked upon as a solid man in the town where
We now turn to Joe.
Since his departure nothing definite had been heard of him. Another
boy had taken his place on Major Norton's farm, but he was less
reliable than Joe.
"I am out of patience with that boy. I wish I had Joe back again."
"Have you heard anything of Joe since he went away?" inquired Oscar.
"Not a word."
"I don't believe he went to California at all."
"In that case we should have heard from him."
"No, Joe's proud--poor and proud!" said Oscar. "I guess he's wished
himself back many a time, but he's too proud to own it."
"Joe was good to work," said the major.
"He was too conceited. He didn't know his place. He thought himself
as good as me," said Oscar arrogantly.
"Most people seemed to like Joe," said the major candidly.
"I didn't," said Oscar, tossing his head. "If he'd kept in his place
and realized that he was a hired boy, I could have got along well
enough with him."
"I wish he would come back," said the major. "I would take him back."
"I dare say he's had a hard time and would be humbler now," said
At this moment a knock was heard at the door, and just afterward Joe
He wore a mixed suit considerably the worse for wear and patched in
two or three places. There was a rip under the arm, and his hat, a
soft felt one, had become shapeless from long and apparently hard
usage. He stood in the doorway, waiting for recognition.
"How do you do, Joe?" said Major Norton cordially. "I am glad to see
Joe's face lighted up.
"Thank you, sir," he said.
"Shake hands, Joe."
Major Norton was mean in money matters, but he had something of the
gentleman about him.
Oscar held aloof.
"How do you do, Oscar?"
"I'm well," said Oscar. "Have you been to California?"
"You don't seem to have made your fortune," said Oscar
superciliously, eying Joe's shabby clothing.
"I haven't starved," said Joe.
"Where did you get that suit of clothes?" asked Oscar.
"I hope you'll excuse my appearance," said Joe.
"Well, Joe, do you want to come back to your old place?" asked Major
Norton. "I've got a boy, but he doesn't suit me."
"How much would you be willing to pay me, Major Norton?"
The major coughed.
"Well," said he, "I gave you your board and clothes before. That's
pretty good pay for a boy."
"I'm older now."
"I'll do the same by you, Joe, and give you fifty cents a week
"Thank you for the offer, Major Norton. I'll take till to-morrow to
think of it."
"You'd better accept it now," said Oscar. "Beggars shouldn't be
"I am not a beggar, Oscar," said Joe mildly.
"You look like one, anyway," said Oscar bluntly.
"Oscar," said Major Norton, "if Joe has been unlucky, you shouldn't
throw it in his teeth."
"He went off expecting to make his fortune," said Oscar, in an
exulting tone. "He looks as if he had made it. Where are you going?"
"I am going to look about the village a little. I will call again."
After Joe went out Oscar said:
"It does me good to see Joe come in rags. Serves him right for
putting on airs."
On the main street Joe met Annie Raymond.
"Why, Joe!" she exclaimed, delighted. "Is it really you?"
"Bad pennies always come back," said Joe.
"Have you---- I am afraid you have not been fortunate," said the
young lady, hesitating as she noticed Joe's shabby clothes.
"Do you think less of me for that?"
"No," said Annie Raymond warmly. "It is you I like, not your
clothes. You may have been unfortunate, but I am sure you deserved
"You are a true friend, Miss Annie, so I don't mind telling you that
I was successful."
Annie Raymond looked astonished.
"And these clothes--" she began.
"I put on for Oscar Norton's benefit. I wanted to see how he would
receive me. He evidently rejoiced at my bad fortune."
"Oscar is a mean boy. Joe, you must come to our house to supper."
"Thank you, I will; but I will go round to the hotel and change my
"But I do mind. I don't fancy a shabby suit as long as I can afford
to wear a good one."
Joe went to the hotel, took off his ragged clothes, put on a new and
stylish suit which he recently had made for him, donned a gold watch
and chain, and hat in the latest style, and thus dressed, his natural
good looks were becomingly set off.
"How do I look now?" he asked, when he met Miss Annie Raymond at her
"Splendidly, Joe. I thought you were a young swell from the city."
After supper Annie said, her eyes sparkling with mischief:
"Suppose we walk over to Major Norton's and see Oscar."
"Just what I wanted to propose."
Oscar was out in the front yard, when he caught sight of Joe and
Annie Raymond approaching. He did not at first recognize Joe, but
thought, like the young lady, that it was some swell from the city.
"You see I've come again, Oscar," said Joe, smiling.
Oscar could not utter a word. He was speechless with astonishment.
"I thought you were poor," he uttered, at last.
"I have had better luck than you thought."
"I suppose you spent all your money for those clothes."
"You are mistaken, Oscar. I am not so foolish. I left between two
and three thousand dollars in a New York bank, and I have more than
twice that in San Francisco."
"It isn't possible!" exclaimed Oscar, surprised and disappointed.
"Here is my bank-book; you can look at it," and Joe pointed to a
deposit of twenty-five hundred dollars. "I don't think, Oscar, it
will pay me to accept your father's offer and take my old place."
"I don't understand it. How did you do it?" asked the bewildered
"I suppose it was my luck," said Joe.
"Not wholly that," said Annie Raymond. "It was luck and labor."
"I accept the amendment, Miss Annie."
Oscar's manner changed at once. Joe, the successful Californian, was
very different from Joe, the hired boy. He became very attentive to
our hero, and before he left town condescended to borrow twenty
dollars of him, which he never remembered to repay. He wanted to go
back to California with Joe, but his father would not consent.
When Joe returned to San Francisco, by advice of Mr. Morgan he sold
out his restaurant to Watson and took charge of Mr. Morgan's real
estate business. He rose with the rising city, became a very rich
man, and now lives in a handsome residence on one of the hills that
overlook the bay. He has an excellent wife--our old friend, Annie
Raymond--and a fine family of children. His domestic happiness is
by no means the smallest part of Joe's luck.