Digging for GoldŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
ďWhat is that, Mr. Tarbox, to the lives of the passengers and the safety of the train?Ē
ďYou donít understand me, Mrs. T. Under the circumstances I think I ought to have half the money he received.Ē
ďMr. Tarbox!Ē exclaimed his wife in profound disgust.
ďThatís so, and of course if I had it he wouldnít have no twenty dollars to throw away on a suit of clothes.Ē
ďYou forget, Mr. Tarbox, that it has saved you the money you would have to pay for a new suit for him.Ē
ďIt has saved me nothing. I wouldnít have bought him a new suit. My grandson, Rodney, was goiní to give him one of his old suits. Now I think of it, Iíll go down and see Mr. Shick and warn him not to make up the suit, telliní him that Grant canít pay for it with my permission.Ē
ďThat will be a mean thing to do, Seth Tarbox.Ē
Mrs. Tarbox always called her husband by his full name when she had occasion to feel displeased with him.
ďYou and I donít look on things in the same way, Mrs. T.,Ē said her husband calmly. ďIíll go and see Mr. Shick at once.Ē
The tailor shop was still open for business when Mr. Tarbox entered.
ďWell, Mr. Tarbox, have you come to pick out a suit for yourself?Ē
ďNo, I havenít. Have you cut out Grantís suit yet?Ē
ďYes; it is nearly finished.Ē
ďThen Iím sorry for you. You mustnít make it up?Ē
ďBecause I shall forbid the boy to pay for it. Heís got the money, as Iíve found out, but part of it belongs to me, and I wonít have him spendiní it so extravagantly.Ē
ďI shanít be able to oblige you, Mr. Tarbox. The suit will be made up, as I agreed, and delivered to Grant.Ē
ďWell, youíll be takiní a risk. Iíve warned you that you wonít get your pay.Ē
ďYou are behind the times, Mr. Tarbox. You have taken your walk for nothing. The suit is already paid for.Ē
ďWhat!Ē ejaculated Mr. Tarbox.
ďIt is just as I said. Grant has paid me for the suit in advance. I advise you to give me an order and do the same thing.Ē
Mr. Tarbox felt that he had been outwitted. He persuaded himself that Grant had treated him meanly. Of course there was no resource. He was too wise to ask Mr. Shick to refund the money, for he knew he would not do it. He found nothing to say, and shuffled out, looking down in the mouth.
ďThere goes the meanest man in town!Ē soliloquized the tailor, as his visitor walked slowly down the road. ďGrant must have a pretty uncomfortable time at home. I am glad that in this case the boy has got the better of his step-father.Ē
ďHeís got five dollars left,Ē reflected Mr. Tarbox. ďIíd ought to have that, for it was in my time that he earned the money. Iíll go upstairs and get it to-night when Grant is asleep.Ē
Grant went to bed about nine oíclock, for he was tired out, and he was soon asleep.
Usually he did not wake up at all till morning, but it so happened that this night he waked up about eleven, and saw Mr.
Tarbox rummaging in the pocket of his pantaloons.
He hardly knew whether to feel amused or indignant.
ďWhat are you doing here, Mr. Tarbox?Ē he demanded in a voice which he made purposely loud.
GRANT MAKES UP HIS MIND
Mr. Tarbox had not bargained for Grantís being awake, and he had the grace to look ashamed, but he put a bold face on it.
ďIíve come for the rest of the money you got for stoppiní the train,Ē he said.
ďWhat right have you to it, Mr. Tarbox,Ē said Grant, more amused than surprised. ďIt was given to me.Ē
ďMebbe it was, but you stopped the train in my time, and Iíd ought to have half the money.Ē
ďYou canít have it, Mr. Tarbox.Ē
ďI know youíve fooled away twenty dollars on a new suit, when you might have had Rodneyís; but you got as much as twenty-five dollars, so Jotham Perry said.Ē
ďHow did he find out?Ē asked Grant in artful surprise.
ďThen you did get twenty-five?Ē
ďSo I thought. Well, I want you to give me the five. You came home an hour late.Ē
ďAnd you charge me five dollars for an hour? If youíll pay me at that rate, Mr. Tarbox, Iíll work for you all my life.Ē
ďQuit your fooliní, Grant Colburn,Ē said Seth, feeling that logic was against him. ďIím your guardian, and I claim the money. Iíll keep four dollars of it for you.Ē
ďThe fact is, Mr. Tarbox, Iíve disposed of part of the money. Iíve only got a dollar left.Ē
This was true, for Grant had given his mother four dollars, to buy a new print dress.
ďWhat did you do with it?Ē asked his step-father, disappointed.
ďI gave it to mother.Ē
ďYouíd ought to have given it to me.Ē
ďI donít think so.Ē
ďWhereís the other dollar?Ē
ďItís in my vest pocket.Ē
Seth Tarbox thrust his fingers into the pocket of Grantís vest, and drew out two silver half-dollars. It was better than nothing, but he felt disappointed.
ďIíll take this,Ē he said, ďto pay for your time.Ē
ďYou are welcome to it, but donít you think you could spare me one half-dollar?Ē asked Grant meekly.
ďWhen youíve gone and spent twenty for a suit? No, I guess not. You can think yourself pretty lucky to get as much as you did.Ē
Seth Tarbox took the candle, and went slowly down stairs. Grant was so much amused by the way in which he had outwitted his step-father that he laughed loud enough for Mr. Tarbox to hear.
ďThatís a queer boy,Ē said Tarbox to himself. ďI donít think heís exactly right in his head. Iíd ought to have got more than one dollar out of all the money the passengers raised for him; but still itís something.Ē
When Grant came down stairs to breakfast the next morning he looked very cheerful, in spite of losing his money the night before, and laughed two or three times, without any apparent reason for doing so. Mr. Tarbox had suggested to his wife the propriety of giving up to him half the money she had received from Grant, but Mrs. Tarbox, yielding as she generally was, had positively refused. Indeed, Grant had made her promise to do so.
Grantís new suit was finished in time for him to wear it on Sunday. He had great satisfaction in entering the village church decently clothed. Indeed, he felt that he was as well dressed as any boy in town, and this was for him a decidedly new sensation.
Grant had one hundred and twenty-seven dollars left in the hands of Luke Weldon. He withdrew ten dollars, and bought some shirts and underclothing. This did not come to the notice of Mr. Tarbox, who was under the impression that Grantís stock of money was exhausted. Had he known the truth, he would have moved heaven and earth to get hold of the balance of Grantís little fortune.
Grant was anxious to see John Heywood, the returned Californian. He was more than ever determined to leave the service of his step-father, and make a bold stroke for a fortune. All day he thought of the Golden State of the Pacific Coast, and all night he dreamed of it. For him it had the greatest fascination. The idea of wandering across the continent to this wonderful new land became strengthened, and he felt that, with the sum he had at command, he would be able to do it. He spoke of it to his mother privately, and, though it made her feel anxious, he succeeded in persuading her that it would be for the best.
But he could do nothing without seeing John Heywood, and getting more information. He thought of going to Crestville, and accordingly, one morning after breakfast, he started without notifying Mr. Tarbox, and walked the whole distance Ė six miles.
Mr. Heywood lived half a mile this side of the village, and Grant had the luck to find him at home.
ďGood-morning, Grant,Ē said the young man. ďWhat brings you to Crestville so early?Ē
ďI came to see you, Mr. Heywood.Ē
ďYou did? Well, Iím glad to see you. Wonít you come into the house?Ē
ďNo, Iíll sit down here,Ē and Grant took a seat on a wood horse, while Heywood leaned against the well curb, and waited for his young visitor to open his business.
ďI hear you have been very lucky in California, Mr. Heywood.Ē
ďYes,Ē answered the young man, with complacency. ďI brought home ten thousand dollars. It makes me feel like a rich man. Iím only twenty-nine, and I didnít look to be worth that sum before I was sixty-nine. A clear gain of forty years!Ē he added with a laugh.
ďYou got it by digging gold, didnít you?Ē
ďAnd I suppose thereís more gold in California? You didnít take it all?Ē
ďI should say not. Thereís piles, and piles of it left.Ē
ďIs digging gold very hard work? Is it too hard for a boy?Ē
ďYou donít mean to say youíre thinkiní of goiní to California yourself?Ē said Heywood quickly.
ďYes, I do.Ē
ďWell, youíre a good, stout boy. I donít see why you should not succeed. But youíll have to work hard.Ē
ďI am willing to.Ē
ďWhat will your folks say?Ē
ďMother has given her consent. As for Mr. Tarbox, my step-father, he hasnít got anything to say about it.Ē
ďYou are working for him now, arenít you?Ē
ďYes, Iím working for my board and clothes. The board is fair enough, but he is not willing to give me any clothes.Ē
ďThatís a nice suit you have on.Ē
ďSo it is, but I had to buy it with my own money. He hasnít spent but ten dollars for my clothing in a whole year.Ē
ďIíve heard he was a mean man.Ē
ďHe thinks everything of a dollar. Mother made a great mistake in marrying him.Ē
ďThen, under the circumstances, Grant, I donít know as I blame you. But, you know, it takes money to go to California.Ē
ďI know that. How much did it cost you?Ē
ďI went across the plains. By the time I reached the mines I had spent about ninety dollars.Ē
ďNinety dollars!Ē repeated Grant in a tone of satisfaction. ďBut how am I to go, even if I have the money. I canít start across the plains alone.Ē
ďNo, of course not. Itís always better to have a little company. Thereís a family goiní from this town in about a week Ė Mr. Cooperís family. I am sure they will be willing to have you go with them. Shall I speak to them about it?Ē
ďYes, I wish you would.Ē
Much pleased, Grant set out on his long walk home. He found his step-father furious at his absence.
ďWhere have you been, Grant?Ē he demanded.
ďOver to Crestville.Ē
ďYouíve taken ímost a day of my time. Itís a shame! I canít afford to take care of you, and give you victuals and clothes, when youíre playiní truant half the time.Ē
ďI donít expect you to, Mr. Tarbox. I donít want you to lose money by me,Ē said Grant demurely, ďso Iíve made up my mind to leave you.Ē
ďTo leave me?Ē ejaculated Seth Tarbox, aghast. ďWhere are you goiní?Ē
ďIím going to California!Ē
Seth Tarbox dropped the hoe he had in his hand, and stared at Grant as though the boy had taken leave of his senses.
ALL IS SETTLED
ďGoiní to Californy!Ē ejaculated Mr. Tarbox in a dazed tone.
ďYes. Iíve seen John Heywood Ė thatís what I went to Crestville for Ė and he tells me thereís a chance for a boy to make money out there.Ē
ďGoiní to walk, I sípose,Ē said Seth satirically.
ďIím going across the plains, if thatís what you mean.Ē
ďWhere are you goiní to get the money? It will cost a good deal.Ē
ďI have made arrangements about the money.Ē
ďIs John Heywood goiní to supply you with funds?Ē
ďIíd rather not tell,Ē answered Grant mysteriously. He was glad that this idea had occurred to his step-father, as he did not wish him to know that he had any funds of his own.
ďI donít know as Iíll let you go,Ē went on Seth Tarbox slowly.
ďWhat right have you to stop me?Ē demanded Grant, not very much alarmed.
ďIím your step-father.Ē
ďYes; but youíre not my guardian.Ē
ďMind, I donít say Iíll stop you,Ē said Seth, for an idea had occurred to him whereby he might turn the expedition to his own advantage. Should Grant bring back a good sum of money, he meant to get control of it, and thought he should succeed on account of the boyís being so young.
ďNo, Mr. Tarbox, it wouldnít be any use.Ē
ďDoes John Heywood really think you can make it pay?Ē
ďHe says thereís piles of gold there.Ē
ďPiles of gold!Ē repeated Seth Tarbox, an expression of greed stealing over his face.
ďYes, thatís what he said.Ē
ďI wish I was a young man. I ainít sure but Iíd go myself. But Iím sixty-eight.Ē
ďThatís a little too old to go.Ē
ďIf you are prosperous, Grant, take care of your money and bring it all home. Weíll be glad to see you back safe and prosperous, your mother and me.Ē
ďThank you, Mr. Tarbox.Ē
This conversation relieved Grantís mind. Even if Mr. Tarbox were opposed to his going, he meant to go all the same, but it was pleasanter to have no trouble in the matter.
The next day he went to Crestville again, this time to see Jerry Cooper, as everybody called him, and his son Tom, and ascertain whether they were willing that he should join their party.
Mr. Cooper, a weather-beaten man of fifty, was at work in his yard when Grant came up. Grant knew him by sight, and bade him good-morning.
ďHas John Heywood spoken to you about me?Ē he asked.
ďYes. Youíre the boy that wants to go to Californy with us.Ē
ďYou look kind of rugged; I guess you can stand it,Ē said the blacksmith, surveying critically Grantís broad shoulders and athletic frame.
ďYes, Mr. Cooper; Iím not a city dude. Iíve always been accustomed to hard work.Ē
ďThatís good. Thereís a good deal of hard work in goiní across the plains.Ē
ďHow long do you think it will take to make the journey?Ē
ďAbout four months.Ē
ďIt will give us a good chance to see the country Ė Ē
ďThat ainít what Iím goiní for. When you get to be fifty years old you wonít care much about seeiní the country. You will be more practical.Ē
ďI shall try to be practical,Ē said Grant, with a smile.
ďItís my belief we shall see more of the country than we care for. I wish it wasnít so fur.Ē
ďSo do I. Some time there may be a railroad across the continent.Ē
Mr. Cooper shook his head.
ďI never expect to see that,Ē he said. ďIt wouldnít pay. Youíre a boy, and by the time you get to be an old man there may be a railroad, but I doubt it.Ē
ďWhen do you expect to start, Mr. Cooper?Ē
ďNext Thursday. Can you be ready?Ē
ďI could be ready to-morrow if necessary,Ē returned Grant promptly. ďHow much is it going to cost me, Mr. Cooper?Ē he added. ďIf you will tell me, I can give you the money in a lump, and you can undertake to see me through.Ē
ďMebbe that will be a good plan, as I shall have to lay in more supplies. Weíll say seventy-five dollars; and it will be well for you to bring a pair of blankets.Ē
ďAll right. I will give you the money now if you will give me a paper acknowledging the receipt, and what it is for.Ē
ďJust as you say, Grant.Ē
Grant had brought a hundred dollars with him, and handed over to Jerry Cooper the sum he had mentioned, receiving back a receipt. This he put into his pocket with a sense of satisfaction. He felt that now the die was cast, and he was really bound for California; that he had taken the first step on the road to fortune.
On his way home he chanced to meet Rodney Bartlett. Rodney was walking with an affected step and swinging his cane. He had an idea that he was a striking figure and excited the admiration of all whom he met.
When his eyes fell on Grant, he started in genuine surprise.
ďHow do you happen to be over here, Grant Colburn?Ē he asked.
ďI am here on business,Ē answered Grant.
ďOh, come over on an errand for my grandfather, I suppose.Ē
ďNo, I came on business of my own.Ē
Rodney arched his eyebrows.
ďOh, so you have business of your own?Ē he said, in a ironical tone.
ďWhat is it?Ē
ďI donít think you would feel interested in it.Ē
ďLook here, Grant, I donít believe you have any business here at all,Ē said Rodney rudely.
ďIt makes little difference to me what you think,Ē returned Grant briefly.
ďI think you are playing truant from the farm Ė that you have come over here to get rid of work. If I were grandfather I wouldnít let you come. Iíd keep you at work.Ē
ďYou are very kind and considerate, as usual, Rodney. However, you are mistaken in one thing.Ē
ďYou think I am in the employ of your grandfather.Ē
ďI know you are a farm boy.Ē
ďI was, but am so no longer.Ē
ďWhat do you mean? Has grandfather discharged you?Ē
ďNo, I have discharged myself. I donít expect to work for your grandfather any longer.Ē
ďWhat are you going to do? Do you expect to live without work?Ē
ďNo; I expect to work harder next year than ever before.Ē
ďI donít understand you,Ē said Rodney, puzzled. ďAre you trying to fool me?Ē
ďThen what do you mean?Ē
ďI start next Thursday for California.Ē
Rodney was surprised.
ďYou Ė donít Ė mean Ė it!Ē he ejaculated.
ďWho are you going with?Ē
ďWith Jerry Cooperís family.Ē
ďBut you canít go without money.Ē
ďAnd you havenít got any.Ē
ďThatís a mistake. I have all I need.Ē
ďWhere did you get it?Ē
ďThatís my business.Ē
ďWho put you up to going?Ē
ďI had a talk with John Heywood. He told me he thought I would succeed in making money.Ē
ďOh, I see. I suppose he was fool enough to lend you the money.Ē
Grant smiled, but did not answer. This confirmed Rodney in his belief. He looked at Grant with envy and dislike. With the amiable desire to depress him, he said, ďI predict that youíll come back poorer than you went away.Ē
ďIt may be so, but I donít believe it.Ē
When he parted with Grant, Rodney went around to John Heywoodís house, with the view of ascertaining whether he had supplied Grant with the funds necessary for his journey.
ďI think you are foolish, Mr. Heywood,Ē Rodney began, ďto lend Grant Colburn money to go to California.Ē
John Heywood looked up from his work.
ďWho told you I had supplied him with money?Ē he asked.
ďWell, no one.Ē
ďThen why do you say I did?Ē
ďHe must have got the money somewhere, so I concluded you had let him have it.Ē
ďThen you concluded wrong. He never asked me to lend him money. If he had Ė Ē
ďWell, if he had?Ē repeated Rodney eagerly.
ďIf he had, I should probably have done it. Grant Colburnís a hardworking boy and a good fellow, and I think heíll be happier out in California than on your grandfatherís farm.Ē
ďItíll be a relief to grandfather to have him go. Heís been supporting him for the last two years.Ē
ďGrant has earned his living twice over. Heíll have to work hard in California, but heíll be paid for it. I shouldnít be surprised to see him a rich man some time.Ē
Rodney scowled and walked away. He thought the prediction ridiculous, and hoped it would not come true.
THE LONG JOURNEY BEGINS
The day before they were to start Grant came over and spent the night with Mr. Cooper and his family. The blacksmith had been guided by John Heywood in making his preparations. Independence, Mo., was at that time the usual starting-point for overland emigrants, and it was to this point that the little party directed their course. Mr. Cooper started with two horses, but at Independence he exchanged one of them for a yoke of oxen, being advised that oxen were upon the whole more reliable, and less likely to be stolen by the Indians. Here, too, he laid in a supply of flour, bacon, coffee, and sugar, with a quantity of rice, crackers, and smaller articles, for they were going through a land where there were no hotels, and must carry their own provender.
When they had completed their outfit they set out. A long journey lay before them. From Independence to the gold region was rather more than two thousand miles, and such were the difficulties of the way that they only averaged about fifteen miles a day. A detailed account of the trip would only be wearisome, and I shall confine myself to some of the salient incidents.
The custom was to make an early start and stop at intervals, partly for the preparation of meals and partly to give the patient animals a chance to rest.
One evening Ė it was about ten weeks after the start Ė they had encamped for the night, and Mrs. Cooper, assisted by Grant, was preparing supper, a fire having been kindled about fifty feet from the wagon, when steps were heard, and a singular looking figure emerged from the underbush. It was a man, with a long, grizzled beard, clad in a tattered garb, with an old slouch hat on his head, and a long, melancholy visage.
ďI trust you are well, my friends,Ē he said. ďDo not be alarmed. I mean you no harm.Ē
Tom Cooper laughed.
ďWe are not alarmed,Ē he said. ďThat is, not much. Who are you?Ē
ďAn unhappy wayfarer, who has been wandering for days, almost famished, through this wilderness.Ē
ďDo you live about here?Ē
ďNo; I am on my way to California.Ē
ďNot alone, surely?Ē
ďI started with a party, but we were surprised a week since by a party of Cheyenne Indians, and I alone escaped destruction.Ē
Mrs. Cooper turned pale.
ďAre the Indians so bloodthirsty, then?Ē
ďSome of them, my dear lady, some of them. They took all our supplies, and I have been living on what I could pick up. Pardon my saying so, but I am almost famished.Ē
ďOur supper is nearly ready,Ē said Mrs. Cooper hospitably. ďYou are welcome to a portion.Ē
ďAh, how kind you are!Ē ejaculated the stranger, clasping his hands. ďI shall, indeed, be glad to join you.Ē
ďWhat is your name, sir?Ē asked the blacksmith cautiously.
ďThatís a strange name.Ē
ďYes, but I am not responsible for it. We do not choose our own names.Ē
ďAnd where are you from?Ē
ďI came from Illinois.ĒŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
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