[Frontispiece: "You stole those papers"]
GOLD SEEKERS OF '49
HOW IN THE YEAR 1849 CHARLEY ADAMS AND HIS FATHER SET OUT FOR FAR CALIFORNIA, THERE TO FIND A GOLD MINE; HOW THEY CROSSED THE TROPICAL ISTHMUS OF PANAMA, BY CANOE AND BY MULE TO THE PACIFIC SIDE; HOW THEY LANDED AT LAST IN WONDERFUL SAN FRANCISCO, AND WHAT BEFELL THEM THERE AND IN THE HIGH SIERRAS; RELATING HOW THEY ENCOUNTERED FORTUNE AND MISFORTUNE IN THAT NEW LAND PEOPLED FROM EVERY QUARTER OF THE GLOBE
EDWIN L. SABIN
AUTHOR OF "WITH CARSON AND FREMONT," "ON THE PLAINS WITH CUSTER," "BUFFALO BILL AND THE OVERLAND TRAIL," ETC.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
CHARLES H. STEPHENS
PHILADELPHIA & LONDON
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
THE AMERICAN BOY
THIS WONDERFUL LAND WHICH IS HIS
IN WHICH TO GROW AND PROSPER
Part of God's providence it was to found A Nation's bulwark on this chosen ground; Not Jesuit's zeal nor pioneer's unrest Planted these pickets in the distant West, But He who first the Nation's fate forecast Placed here His fountains sealed for ages past, Rock-ribbed and guarded till the coming time Should fit the people for their work sublime; When a new Moses with his rod of steel Smote the tall cliffs with one wide-ringing peal, And the old miracle in record told To the new Nation was revealed in gold. —BRET HARTE
It has taken Americans to build the Panama Canal, and it took the Americans to build California. These are two great feats of which we Americans of the United States may well be proud: the building of that canal, in the strange tropics 2000 miles away across the water, and the up-rearing of a mighty State, under equally strange conditions, 2000 miles away across plains and mountains.
On the Isthmus men of many nationalities combined like a vast family; each man, from laborer to engineer, doing his stint, without favoritism and without graft, toward the big result. So in California likewise a people collected from practically all the world became Americans together under the Flag, and working shoulder to shoulder—rich and poor, old and young, educated and uneducated, no matter what their manner of life previously—they joined forces to make California worthy of being a State in the Union.
So hurrah for the Panama Canal, built by American methods which encourage every man to do his share; and hurrah for California, raised to Statehood upon the foundation of American equality!
The discovery of gold in California was hailed as an occasion for getting rich quick; but its purpose proved to be the development of character. It seems a long, long way back to Forty-nine, when across the Isthmus and across the plains thousands of men—yes, and not a few women and children—pluckily forged ahead, bound for the Land of Gold. Some made their fortunes, but the best that any of them achieved lay in the towns that they founded, the laws that they enacted, the homes that they established, and the realization that these things were of more importance than the mere frenzy for quick wealth.
In not many years the completion of the Canal will also seem a long, long way back. We Americans will have turned to some other marvelous accomplishment, but the Canal will continue to exist as a monument to American energy and democracy.
So we who share in that California which our elders made, by railroad and canal hurried so comfortably over the trails that they toilsomely opened in years agone, have a great deal to think about and a great deal of which to be proud.
EDWIN L. SABIN
CALIFORNIA, June 1, 1915.
THE STORY OF CALIFORNIA THE PANAMA CANAL I. THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER II. HURRAH FOR THE GOLDEN WEST III. AN UNWELCOME COMPANION IV. A FRIEND IN NEED V. AN ATTACK BY THE ENEMY VI. THE LANDING AT THE ISTHMUS VII. A RACE UP THE RIVER VIII. A TRICK—AND ITS CONSEQUENCES IX. TIT FOR TAT X. ALMOST LEFT BEHIND XI. CHARLEY LOSES OUT XII. CALIFORNIA HO! XIII. INTO THE GOLDEN GATE XIV. ALL ASHORE XV. THE SIGHTS OF SAN FRANCISCO XVI. CHARLEY HEARS A CONVERSATION XVII. ON TO THE DIGGIN'S XVIII. THE TRAIL OF THE ENEMY XIX. A GREAT DISCOVERY XX. ANOTHER GREAT DISCOVERY XXI. MINERS' JUSTICE XXII. THE BEST OF ALL
"YOU STOLE THOSE PAPERS" . . . . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece
"OVER THEY GO!"
DOWN SLIPPED CHARLEY'S HORSE FROM THE TRAIL
"I'VE LOST THE PAPERS"
BILLY STEPPED ON HIS LEAD ROPE AND LEVELED HIS GUN LIKE LIGHTNING
THE MAP FROM THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER
FROM NEW ORLEANS TO SAN FRANCISCO, 1849
THE ROUTE ACROSS THE ISTHMUS IN 1849
THE VOYAGE OF THE SCHOONER "MARY ANN" FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO THE GOLD FIELDS, 1849
FROM SACRAMENTO TO "THE DIGGIN'S," 1849
THE STORY OF CALIFORNIA
1542—On September 28, 1542, Captain Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator in the service of Spain, on a voyage of exploration along the coast northward from Mexico casts anchor of his two small ships, the San Salvador and the Victoria, in San Diego Bay. He christens it the Puerta de San Miguel (Port of Saint Michael). Thence his ships explore north clear to the line of present Oregon. Mid-voyage he dies from an accident, and is buried on San Miguel Island, opposite present Santa Barbara. The exploration is continued by his lieutenant, Bartolome Ferrelo.
1579—In June, 1579, Sir Francis Drake, English adventurer, lands near the Bay of San Francisco, to overhaul his ship, the Golden Hind. He takes possession of the shore for Queen Elizabeth, christens it New Albion, and erects a monument. His bay is called Francis Drake's Bay.
1587—The Bay of Monterey visited, according to description, in 1587, by the Spanish navigator Pedro de Unamunu, in his ship Nuestra Senora de la Esperanca (Our Lady of Hope). He lands and erects a cross, and christens the place Puerta de San Lucas (Port of Saint Luke), taking possession for the King of Spain.
1595—In 1595 the Spanish navigator Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno is wrecked in Francis Drake's Bay, to which he gives the name Bay of San Francisco. This was a small bay behind Point Reyes, north of the entrance to the Golden Gate.
1602—Cabrillo's Port of San Miguel entered in 1602 by the Spanish navigator Sebastian Vizcaino, with four vessels: the San Diego (Saint James), the Santo Tomas (Saint Thomas), the Tres Reyes (Three Kings), and a launch. He christens the bay San Diego. Voyaging further, he rediscovers the Port of San Lucas, and christens it Monterey, in honor of the Count of Monterey, the ruler for Spain in Mexico.
1769—Sent out by Comandante Jose de Galvez, inspector general for Spain in Mexico, in 1769 the first expedition by land ascends from Lower California of Mexico into Alta (Upper) California. It is in two parties, one commanded by Captain Rivera y Moncada and accompanied by the Franciscan priest Padre Juan Crespi, the other commanded by Gaspar de Portola, governor of the Californias for Spain, and accompanied by the Franciscan priest Padre Junipero Serra. The object was to establish three Franciscan missions—one at San Diego, one at Monterey, one at San Francisco; and at Monterey a town and a fort. By sea set forth, with another expedition, and with supplies, the ships San Carlos (Saint Charles), San Antonio (Saint Anthony), and San Jose (Saint Joseph). The San Jose was disabled at the start. The meeting place was to be San Diego. Here, July 16, 1769, the mission of San Diego de Arcala is founded.
1769—November 2, 1769, the present Bay of San Francisco is discovered, from a hill, by some soldiers in the party of Gaspar de Portola, who had led an expedition northward from San Diego, to search for Monterey.
1770—June 3, 1770, the mission of San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey is founded. Three other missions follow, to September, 1772.
1776—September 17, 1776, the presidio or military station of San Francisco is founded.
1776—October 9, 1776, the mission of San Francisco de Asis is dedicated, on the shore of the real San Francisco Bay. By August 23, 1823, twenty-one missions have been placed.
1781—September 4, 1781, the town of Los Angeles is established.
1794—In 1794, as old records say, the first American arrived, landing from a ship and settling in Santa Barbara. He is called by the Californians, "Boston Boy."
1804—Upper California is made a separate Spanish province, by royal decree of August 29, 1804.
1821—By revolt of Mexico against Spain, in 1821 California becomes a Mexican province.
1826—In 1826 arrive the first Americans by land, being a party of trappers led from Salt Lake by Jedediah S. Smith.
1832—Captain Benjamin Morrell, Jr., of the American vessel Tartar, after having stopped at California publishes, in 1832, a book upon his travels, in which he urges the acquisition of California by the United States.
1835—President Andrew Jackson authorizes Colonel Anthony Butler, American official in Mexico, to purchase, if possible, for the United States, "the whole bay of San Francisco." The plan fails.
1839—July 3, 1839, arrives at Monterey Captain John August Sutter, a Swiss-American. In August he takes up a tract of land on the south bank of the American River, east from present Sacramento, and there establishes a trading post which he names New Helvetia, but which became better known as Sutter's Fort. The post grows to be a rallying place for American trappers and settlers.
1841—In November, 1841, arrive the first company of American immigrants, led by J. Bartleson and John Bidwell, from the Missouri River, along the Oregon Trail to the Salt Lake cut-off, thence down the Humboldt River and across the Sierra Nevada mountains and down the Stanislaus River. Numbering thirty-nine, they reach the ranch of Dr. John Marsh, early American settler, back of the present city of Oakland, opposite San Francisco.
1841—In October and November, 1841, the Bay of San Francisco, and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers are surveyed by the Government exploring expedition under command of Captain Charles W. Wilkes, United States Navy.
1842—The Honorable Waddy Thompson, United States minister to Mexico, informs President John Tyler, April 29, 1842, that Mexico is willing to sell Texas and Upper California. He emphasizes the importance of California.
1842—October 20, 1842, Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones of the United States Navy raises the American flag over Monterey, thinking that war with Mexico had been declared. The next day he apologizes; but the sale of California is interrupted.
1842-43-44—The American immigration overland gradually increases in 1842, 1843, 1844, and alarms the Mexican authorities, who fear the spread of American influence. The majority of the settlers locate in Northern California.
1844—In February, 1844, Captain John C. Fremont and party, on exploring expedition for the War Department at Washington, cross the Sierra Nevada, to Sutter's Fort, and traverse California from north to south.
1845—Negotiations for the purchase of California are resumed in 1845 by President James K. Polk. The American consul at Monterey, Thomas O. Larkin, is appointed "confidential agent" for the United States, and is instructed to keep watch against any scheming by France or Great Britain, and to influence the California people to unite themselves with the Republic.
1845—In the winter of 1845-1846 Fremont again leads a party to Sutter's Fort, and on toward the coast. He is ordered out; proceeds up for Oregon, and is recalled, May 8, 1846, into California by a naval officer with dispatches for him.
1846—June, 1846, American settlers and adventurers, in the neighborhood of Sutter's Fort, revolt against the Mexican government of California; June 14 they capture Sonoma, north of San Francisco, where they raise the Bear Flag and proclaim California to be an independent republic. Fremont aids the revolution.
1846—Following news of war between the United States and Mexico, on July 7, 1846, Commodore John D. Sloat raises the American flag over Monterey; on July 9 it is raised over San Francisco and Sonoma; on July 11, over Sutter's Fort; on August 13, Los Angeles is invested, and the flag raised there.
1847—After several engagements between the American forces and the Californians, on January 13, 1847, by the treaty of Cahuenga the Californians agree to lay down their arms.
1848—By the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo between the United States and Mexico, at the close of the Mexican War, and ratified at Washington, March 16, 1848, California is ceded to the United States.
1848—James Marshall, in the employ of Captain Sutter, while washing out a mill-race at Coloma, on the American River, about thirty miles west of Sutter's Fort, on January 24, 1848, discovers flakes of gold. The news spreads; it reaches Monterey, the capital, May 29, and creates intense excitement. In December the news officially reaches Washington, by communication from General Richard B. Mason and former consul James O. Larkin, and is included in President Polk's message to Congress. During 1848 $10,000,000 in gold is gathered by miners in California.
1849—In the spring of 1849 20,000 people are collected at the Missouri River, prepared to start overland 2000 miles to the California gold fields. More than 30,000 people make the land pilgrimage this year. Others sail around Cape Horn. Many others choose to cross the Isthmus of Panama, and reach the Pacific that way. The first shipload of gold seekers arrive in San Francisco February 28, 1849. San Francisco, formerly the hamlet of Yerba Buena (Good Herb), leaps from a population of 500 to one of 15,000, and the harbor has 500 vessels at anchor, flying all flags. In 1849 $40,000,000 of gold is taken from the soil by the miners.
1849—September 1, 1849, a convention to frame a State Constitution assembles at Monterey, the capital. On October 10 the constitution is adopted.
1850—September 9, 1850, California is admitted as a State, into the Union, without having been a Territory. Since then she has forged to the front as one of the richest members of the Republic. Her soil has been found to yield greater treasures than gold, and her people pride themselves upon being among the most progressive of all between the two oceans.
THE PANAMA CANAL
1513—September 25, the young Spanish navigator Vasco Nunez de Balboa and party, from the Atlantic, exploring afoot the Isthmus of Panama (first called the Isthmus of Darien), on the mountain divide sight the Pacific Ocean. This they reach and claim for the King of Spain. They were the first white men to cross the Isthmus, and they discovered the Pacific Ocean.
1516—Balboa again crosses the Isthmus, transporting the material for four ships from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Two thousand native Indians die by the hard labor of jungle travel.
1520-1529—Various other explorations are made by Spain, in hopes of finding a water-way clear through the Isthmus.
1521—Charles the Fifth of Spain orders a Royal Road constructed across the Isthmus between Nombre de Dios on the Atlantic side and Panama on the Pacific side. It crossed the Chagres River at Las Cruces.
1530—Vessels begin to navigate the Chagres up to Gorgona and Cruces, and there connect with the Royal Road from Panama.
1534—The Spanish authorities of this New Spain undertake a survey of the Isthmus, in order to construct a water-way from ocean to ocean. The project fails.
1535-1814—Nothing more has been accomplished toward bettering communication across the Isthmus, although a water route by way of Lake Nicaragua has been much discussed.
1814—Spain authorizes the construction of a canal through the Isthmus, but by a revolution loses her Central America provinces.
1825—The Republic of Central America requests the assistance of the United States in the construction of a canal through Nicaragua.
1826—Aaron H. Palmer, of New York, contracts with the Republic of Central America for the construction of a canal across Nicaragua. This project also fails, and so does an English plan.
1827—President Bolivar of the Republic of Colombia (formed by the States of New Granada, Ecuador and Venezuela, and thus embracing the Isthmus) commissions J. A. Lloyd to survey the Isthmus with a view to a rail-and-water route across. Lloyd recommends a canal from Limon Bay to the Chagres River (as now), the river route as far on as possible, and a railroad thence to the Pacific coast.
1835-1841—The United States further debates the subject of a ship canal across the Isthmus or up through Nicaragua. Commissioners report in favor of the Nicaragua route.
1838—A French company obtains from New Granada a concession to open a route by land or water across the Isthmus. Although many surveys are made, and a canal from Limon Bay to the vicinity of Panama is mapped out, no actual construction work is done.
1847—The Republic of New Granada grants the right to a French syndicate to build a railroad across the Isthmus. The right expired in 1848.
1848—Spurred on by the acquisition of California, the United States secures from New Granada the right of passage across the Isthmus.
1849—The United States secures from Nicaragua the right to construct communication of any sort between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
1840—The American, Atlantic and Pacific Ship Canal Company, headed by Cornelius Vanderbilt, is formed, to build across Nicaragua. The company makes fresh surveys of value, but does no construction work, and in 1856 its concession is recalled by Nicaragua.
1849—The Panama Railroad Company is formed by John Lloyd Stevens, William Henry Aspinwall and Henry Chauncy of New York, to build across the Isthmus. Work is started.
1855—After tremendous labor in the jungles and swamps, and the loss of thousands of lives, the railroad is finished. On January 27, 1855, the first locomotive crosses from ocean to ocean. Reconstructed to conform to the canal, the railroad is in operation to-day.
1866—The United States Senate requests the Secretary of the Navy to supply it with all available information upon the feasibility of a canal across the Isthmus.
1867—Nineteen canal and seven railroad projects for the Isthmus region are submitted in the report to the Senate. The report recommends that a route be found through Panama.
1869—President Grant recommends to Congress the building of an American canal across the Isthmus. Resolutions are adopted.
1872—An Interoceanic Canal Commission authorized by Congress begins various surveys throughout the Isthmus country. Its final report (1876) unanimously recommends the route through Nicaragua, instead of through Panama.
1875—France forms a company to secure from the Republic of Colombia, which again controls the Isthmus, the rights to build a canal across, and to operate it for ninety-nine years. Lieutenant Lucien B. Wyse of the French Navy makes a survey and a report.
1879—An International Congress of 135 delegates, eleven being from the United States, is held at Paris, to discuss the route for a canal. Ferdinand de Lesseps, French engineer who had built the Suez Canal, presides. The route selected is that through Panama, between Colon and Panama. The Universal Company of the Panama Interoceanic Canal is incorporated. De Lesseps is made chief engineer. He calculates that the canal can be built in eight years, at a cost of $127,000,000. Shares in the company are widely sold.
1881—Work on the French canal is started.
1892—The French company has already spent eight years and $260,000,000, and has accomplished little actual headway. An enormous amount of money has been wasted. The company is declared insolvent and a receiver is appointed by the French court.
1894—The company is reorganized as the New Panama Canal Company. In five years it expends $8,000,000, in work on about two-fifths of the canal.
1899—By authority of Congress President McKinley appoints an Isthmian Canal Commission to investigate the property of the French company and see by what methods it can be purchased. The commission in its report recommends a route up through Nicaragua. Estimates are made that $102,000,000 and ten years' work will be required.
1901—The question of a Panama canal or a Nicaragua canal is debated in Congress. Expert opinion from engineers and shipping interests favors the Panama route.
1902—By authorizing the purchase of the French company's property and franchises for $40,000,000 the United States declares its purpose to build a Panama canal itself. The Secretary of War is instructed to make plans upon an expense basis not to exceed $130,000,000.
1903-1904—The United States formally takes over the French rights and concludes a canal treaty with Panama, the canal to be completed in fourteen years.
1904—The Canal Commission appointed by the President and under supervision of the Secretary of War, William H. Taft, arrives on the Isthmus to pursue the building of the canal. John F. Wallace is engineer-in-chief. The commission decides on a lock canal, instead of a sea-level canal as originally planned.
1905—John F. Stevens succeeds Mr. Wallace as chief engineer.
1906—The foreign members of an International Board of Consulting Engineers which visits the canal at the invitation of the United States report in favor of a sea-level canal; American members, in the minority, report in favor of the lock canal.
1906—In his message to Congress President Roosevelt supports the minority report favoring the lock canal. Congress adopts the minority report.
1907—Engineer Stevens resigns. The canal work is placed under the direction of the War Department. Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Goethals, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A., is made engineer-in-chief. He estimates the cost of a lock canal at $375,000,000; of a sea-level canal, $563,000,000.
1913—October 10 (the anniversary of the day upon which Balboa took possession of the Pacific Ocean) the Gamboa dike, marking the division between the canal waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific, is blown open when President Wilson presses an electric button at the White House. This year a mud scow passes through the canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
1914—January 7, the steam crane boat Alexander la Valley, 1200 tons, makes the passage—the first vessel by steam. February 1 the ocean tug Reliance, Captain R. C. Thompson, having steamed around the Horn returns to the Atlantic through the canal—the first commercial vessel to pass.
1914—The annual report of Colonel Goethals states that the cost of constructing the canal to date, has been $353,559,049, including fortifications.
1915—The great canal is formally opened. Including the $40,000,000 paid to France, and the $10,000,000 paid to the Republic of Panama, the outlay represented by the canal as built by the United States totals about $400,000,000, of which not a cent was misused.
GOLD SEEKERS OF '49
THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER
Charley Adams was trudging up to his knees in snow, on his way home from down town. It was Washington's Birthday, 1849, and winter had sent St. Louis a late valentine in shape of a big snowstorm. As this occurred seventy-five years ago, there were no street-cars in St. Louis (or in any other American city, for that matter); and even had there been street-cars they doubtless would have been tied up. At all events, Charley had walked down, and now he was trudging back with the mail.
His father was very anxious to see that mail. It contained the Eastern papers, and these probably would add to the tidings printed in the St. Louis papers, from the marvelous gold fields of California.
Since January, when President Polk's annual message to Congress had been read in St. Louis, in the papers, St. Louis people, like the whole population of the United States, had been crazy over the California gold. It was claimed that as far back as January, 1848, a man named Marshall, while digging a mill-race somewhere in interior Upper California, for a Captain Sutter of Sutter's Fort ranch, on the emigrant trail over the Sierra Nevada mountain-range down to Sacramento, had washed into plain sight an unlimited supply of gold flakes.
However, when the news first had reached Washington and New York and had filtered back to St. Louis, it was several months old and seemed scarcely worth attention, California being such a long way off. But now the President himself was authority for the fact that gold actually was lying around loose, for anybody to pick up, in this fair new land of California, and that thousands of people already were gathering it!
The President offered as proof letters from Colonel Richard B. Mason, the military governor of California, and from the Honorable Thomas O. Larkin, who had been the United States consul in California. The letters said not only that gold had been found, as before stated, but that 10,000 people (nearly all the able-bodied population of California) were out looking for more, and finding it, too! Sailors were deserting the ships and soldiers the ranks; servants were leaving the houses and merchants the stores, and the whole territory was wild. Congressmen at Washington asserted so much gold would be put on the market that gold money would lose its value, it would be so common.
These reports sounded like fairy-tales come true. Think of it! Gold, lying around on the surface of the ground, to be pocketed by the first finders! In spite of the fact that California had been a part of the United States only two years, or since the war with Mexico, and was distant 2000 miles across uninhabited desert and mountains, as soon as the word about gold was guaranteed to be really the truth a tremendous number of people here in the "States" set about dropping everything else and starting right away, to seek their fortunes.
Hundreds of St. Louis people had left, in parties large and small, a few to travel clear around Cape Horn of South America, or to cross the Isthmus of Panama and to sail up the Pacific Coast, but the majority to ride and walk, with wagon and team, across the deserts and mountains from the Missouri River 2000 miles to California. A number of neighbors and other friends of the Adamses had gone. Even Mr. Walker, Billy Walker's father, was going as soon as he could provide so that his family would not suffer in his absence; and he was talking of taking Billy. As Billy was Charley's best chum, this seemed pretty mean—for Charley, not for Billy, of course. To Charley there seemed no chance of his going, traveling across those wild plains and ranges, sleeping out of doors, and fighting Indians, perhaps, and then gathering gold in far California itself. His father was laid up, still recovering from wounds received in the war with Mexico. Charley was proud of his soldier father, who had served under General Scott all through the war, until disabled in the capture of Mexico City; but he did wish that there was some way for them to go to those gold fields.
The snow-storm had about ceased. The snow was two feet deep, in the streets, and the air was nipping chill. The streets were deserted, as evening settled down and Charley neared home. Now when he passed an open stairway, leading up into a building, he saw a huddled figure just inside the entrance.
He hurried on, but suddenly he stopped short. The figure had not stirred, as he passed—it looked odd—maybe it was only crouching there for shelter from the wind and snow—or maybe it was asleep—or maybe frozen. Jiminy! He ought not to go and leave it. Boy Scouts of America had not been organized, in 1849; but Charley was a Boy Scout at heart, so he turned back, anxious to do a good turn if possible.
When he peered into the entrance to the stairway, the huddled figure was there, just as first seen. It was that of a man, in ragged clothing, with worn boots, slouch hat, and unkempt beard visible where the face was bent forward upon the chest and folded arms. The figure did not move, and Charley spoke to it.
There was no response.
"Hello, there! What are you doing?"
Still no answer of any kind.
"Hey! Wake up!" bade Charley, more boldly. "You'll freeze."
Into Charley's throat welled a little tinge of fear; the figure remained so quiet and motionless. He reached in and shook the man by the shoulder. It was cold and stiff.
"Wake up! Wake up!"
Hurrah! The man was alive, anyway, for now he did stir drowsily, and mumbled as if objecting. Charley noticed that his hands were clenched tightly over the side-pockets of his old jacket, where the corners were drawn into his lap.
"Wake up! You'd better get out of here. You'll freeze. Want me to help you?"
Charley tried to lift the man, and to force him to move; but the man sat as a dead weight, and only mumbled crossly, and held back.
"Oh, crickity!" despaired Charley. "I'll have to get somebody to help. He's half frozen already. That's what's the matter with him."
Charley bolted out, to peer up and down the dusky white street. He had a notion to run to a little store about a block away, when he saw a man walking hastily along on the opposite side of the street. Out into the middle of the street floundered Charley, and hailed him.
"Hello! Can you please come over here a minute?"
"Sure, sonny." And he turned off, curiously approaching. "What is it you want, now?"
"There's a man freezing to death in the doorway, yonder," said Charley, excited. "He ought to be taken out."
"Who is he?"
"I don't know."
"What doorway, sonny?"
"That one. I'll show you." And Charley led off, the other man following him. He was a dark complexioned, sharp-faced man, with a little black moustache and a long drooping nose. He had bright black, narrow eyes, piercing but rather shifty. He wore a round fur cap and an overcoat with a cape.
The figure in the stairway entrance sat exactly as Charley had left him, except that he appeared to have gathered his coat pockets tighter.
"See?" directed Charley.
"Humph!" The long-nosed man peered in keenly. "Drunk, isn't he?" And he ordered roughly: "Come! get out o' here! Stir your stumps. This is no place to sleep."
The figure mumbled and swayed.
"I don't think he's drunk," ventured Charley. "He doesn't act like it, does he?"
"I dunno," grunted the long-nosed man, as if irritated. He reached in and, as Charley had done, but more rudely, grasped the figure by the shoulder; shook him and attempted to drag him forward; raised him a few inches and let him drop back again.
"We can't do anything. He looks like a beggar, anyhow. I'll see if I can find a watchman, on my way down town, and send him up."
That sounded inhuman, and Charley, for one, could not think of letting the figure huddle there, in the cold and the night, until the watchman should arrive. He did not like the long-nosed man.
"If you'll help, I'll take him home," volunteered Charley. "'Tisn't far."
"How far?" demanded the long-nosed man.
"Just a block and a half."
"What'll you do with him there?"
"Get him warm. My mother and father'll tend to him. They won't mind."
"Humph!" grunted the long-nosed man. "Well, let's see. But I don't intend to break my back for some no-'count trash such as this is. Come," he ordered, to the figure. "Get out o' here."
He grasped the figure by the arms and pulled him forward. Charley tried to get behind and boost. The tramp (if that was his kind) mumbled and actually resisted—hanging back and fighting feebly. His arms were wrenched from their position across his chest, and his coat corners fell back, with a thud, against the sides of the stairway.
"This fellow must be carrying a brick in each pocket," grumbled the long-nosed man. And halting his operations, despite the other man's resistance he roughly felt of the coat corners. But when he would have thrust in his hand, to investigate further, the other clutched the pockets so tightly and moaned "No! No!" so imploringly, that much to Charley's relief the long-nosed man quit.
Supporting their charge between them, and wading through the snow, they proceeded up the street. The "tramp" half shambled, half slid; darkness had gathered, stars were peeping out in the blue-black sky, the way seemed hard and lonesome, and Charley was glad indeed that they were bound to a place of warmth and shelter: home.
"It's right in the middle of this next block," panted Charley to the long-nosed man. "Where that horse-step is, under the big old oak."
The gate was ajar, and they turned through, dragging their awkwardly shambling burden. As they gained the front porch the front door was flung wide, and Mrs. Adams stood there, peering out, to find what was the meaning of this scuffling and grunting. Charley was glad to see her, framed in the lamp-light.
"Why, Charley!" she exclaimed. "What's the matter?"
"Please, mother, let us in," answered Charley. "We've got a man who was freezing in a stairway. Where'll we put him?"
"Gracious goodness! Take him right through and put him on the sofa. Oh, George!" and she called to Mr. Adams. "Is he badly frozen, Charley?" she asked, as Charley, tugging away, passed her.
"I don't think so, ma'am," replied the long-nosed man, speaking up. "No, ma'am. Not yet. He's fairly limber." And he scolded, to the "tramp": "Come on, now! You weigh a ton, with all your ballast."
Carrying and guiding the man, both, they continued on through the hall, into the pleasant sitting-room lighted by a whale-oil lamp and heated by a large wood-stove. At the call of his wife, Mr. Adams had hastily come from the back part of the house.
"Hello," he greeted. "What's here? Who is he, Charley?"
Charley's father was a tall man (he stood six feet one inch in his stockinged feet), and before the war he had been powerfully muscled. Now he was worn thin, and was a little stooped; and because of the wound in his knee, from a copper bullet, he limped. His full beard, trimmed around, was brown, but his eyes were a bright keen blue. Charley thought him the handsomest man in the world—and about the biggest.
"Somebody they've taken out of a stairway," explained Mrs. Adams, to him. "He was freezing. I told them to put him on the sofa."
"I should say so!" ejaculated Mr. Adams, and limped forward to help. Mrs. Adams quickly rearranged the knitted spread and the pillow; and with Mr. Adams attending to the feet end of the rescued stranger and Charley and the long-nosed man attending to the body and head, on the sofa the unknown was deposited.
"He's so thinly clothed!" cried Mrs. Adams, hovering over. "I'll get some hot milk." And away she bustled, for the kitchen.
"Let's take off his coat and boots," directed Mr. Adams, with soldierly decision. "Hope his feet aren't frozen." And he worked at the boots, to haul them from the cold, stiff feet.
Charley and the long-nosed man had a harder time with the coat. The unknown resisted, as before. He had opened his eyes (they were vacant and frightened) and had roused a little more strength. He even shoved the long-nosed man back.
"You," he appealed, huskily, to Charley, whom he seemed to accept as his friend. "You—take it."
"Well, I'll be jiggered!" ejaculated the long-nosed man. "There's gratitude for you!"
But he stood back, while Charley went ahead removing the coat. The unknown grasped the pockets, for the last time, and tried to hand them on to Charley.
"Keep it. You——" and he fell back, exhausted.
"We don't want your coat, my man," assured Mr. Adams, briskly rubbing the feet.
"He's got something in the pockets, dad," explained Charley. "Something heavy."
"Look and see, then," bade the long-nosed man. "Now's your chance."
"Shall I?" queried Charley, of his father, doubtfully, holding the coat.
"Why, yes, if you want to. Perhaps we ought to know."
"Here's the milk," announced Mrs. Adams, hurrying in bearing glass and steaming pitcher.
Charley, with the long-nosed man peering curiously, and Mr. and Mrs. Adams looking, as well, fished out the weight from the right-hand coat pocket. It was a little buckskin sack, round and heavy with its contents.
"By thunder!" exclaimed the long-nosed man. "Hooray! I suspicioned it. This fellow's from the Californy gold mines, and that sack's stuffed with gold dust, as they call it. Open her up and see. Where's the other one? He's got the mate in t'other pocket, I'll bet you."
"Hold on, Charley. Don't open it," ordered Mr. Adams, as Charley fumbled with the string tied tightly around the puckered mouth of the little sack. "It isn't yours."
"Pass it to me and I'll open it," invited the long-nosed man. "Let me feel. Yes, sirs; that's gold dust, all right; several hundred dollars' worth."
"We'll not open it, just the same," insisted Mr. Adams, firmly. "Put the sack back in the pocket, Charley, and hang coat and all away. Wait, though. Look through the other pockets and see if there are any letters or such things to tell who he is."
Charley sought. In the other side pocket he felt another buckskin sack, round and heavy (just as the long-nosed man, who was watching closely, had predicted), but the inside pockets contained nothing at all.
The unknown murmured weakly.
"I'd better give him a little hot milk, if he can drink it, hadn't I?" proffered Mrs. Adams; she poured a few inches into the glass and held it to his bearded lips. He tried to sip—did sip, greedily, and sank back.
Charley started off with the coat, to hang it over a chair.
"Here, you!" objected the long-nosed man. "What are you going to do? Half that coat's mine, remember. I helped fetch him in. Half the plunder comes to me."
"That's no way to talk, sir," reproved Mr. Adams, sternly. "Would you rob a helpless stranger? Not in this house, sir!"
"He's not dead. He's only fainted," informed Mrs. Adams, indignant.
"But he gave the stuff away, didn't he?" demanded the long-nosed man. "Sure he did. Supposing he dies on your hands, you count on getting all he has, I reckon! But you won't."
"He told me to keep it, anyway, didn't he?" retorted Charley.
"He didn't mean you to keep it for yourself, Charley," corrected Mr. Adams. "That's foolishness. He meant that you should keep it safe until he could use it."
"Of course," nodded Mrs. Adams. "What had we better do with him, George?"
"Let him sleep, if he wants to. His feet are getting warm. He'll be all right."
"Lookee here," blustered the long-nosed man. "I come in for half, remember. I helped fetch him in. If it hadn't been for my help he'd have frozen solid where he was, or else the watchman would have picked him up and taken him off. I'm going, now. I've got business to tend to—same as before I was interrupted. I left a business errand, to help fetch him here. Understand? My time's worth money. I know where this house is, and I know your names; and I'm coming 'round again, to see what's what. Half that dust is mine, or I'll make you trouble."
"If he doesn't use it, himself, it will go to his kin, sir," returned Mr. Adams.
"Kin!" snorted the long-nosed man. "He's from the gold fields. Look at that shirt, and those whiskers and boots; and the dust itself tells the tale. As like as not he hasn't any kin, within reach; and if he has, you're a blamed fool to summon 'em. We've got things in our own hands—understand? Think it over. I'll be 'round. Good-night."
"Good-night," they answered. "Open the door for him, Charley," bade Mr. Adams.
With a grunty grumble the long-nosed man passed out into the night. Charley hastened back to look at the unknown again.
From the California gold fields! Think of that! And with two sacks of gold dust! Who could he be? Where was he going in St. Louis? What had he seen and done, in California? But here he lay, in a stupor, with Mr. Adams rubbing his arms and legs, and Mrs. Adams hovering over with the glass and pitcher.
HURRAH FOR THE GOLDEN WEST
As the evening wore on the stranger tossed and murmured more and more, until it was evident that he was ill with something graver than mere exposure.
"Charley, I think you'd better go for the doctor," said Mr. Adams, finally, about eight o'clock, after they all had done what they could. "This man's getting no better. He looks as though he might have a fever."
"Yes; that's what I've been thinking, too," nodded Mrs. Adams. "Hurry on, Charley. And if the doctor isn't there leave word for him to come as soon as he can."
Out into the cold again, and into the darkness as well, bolted Charley, donning cap and scarf and mittens as he went. The adventure was growing more exciting. What a shame if the man should not recover and they would have to guess all about him!
Old Doctor Paulis, the Adams family doctor, lived but three blocks away, and through the snow and the night Charley ran the whole distance. The doctor said that he'd be along immediately, or as soon as he had finished his supper; and arrive he did, when Charley had been home only a few minutes.
He examined the stranger very carefully.
"It's a case of fever—a kind probably contracted on the Isthmus or on shipboard, if he returned that way," at last pronounced the doctor. "I'm afraid, after his exposure to the cold, that I may not pull him through; but I'll do what I can. Meantime if you can get in communication with any of his relatives or friends, you'd better do so."
The doctor left a quantity of medicine, to be given at such frequent intervals that somebody must be up all night. However, Charley went to bed and slept, and dreamed that the mysterious stranger was sitting on the sofa and was telling them that in California gold dust was shaken from the trees and shoveled into flour-sacks.
But the mysterious stranger was by no means sitting up, when after breakfast Charley saw him. He was quieter, to be sure, and he seemed to be partially conscious; he even appeared to recognize Charley; still, he was terribly weak.
It was Charley's turn to stay with him. Mrs. Adams went out to do some marketing; Mr. Adams lay down, to rest. Charley sat near the sofa, to give the medicine, and keep up the fire, and between times to pick out interesting news about California, in the papers that he had brought home. Gold, gold, gold! That was it—gold! Everybody out there was finding gold, and everybody else was making ready to start.
One item told about a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama, too—that it probably would be begun soon, by Americans; and with that completed there would be an easy way to California.
The man on the sofa was making a strange sound; and looking over at him, Charley was astonished to see himself beckoned. Up he jumped, and crossed.
"Paper," whispered the man, in Charley's ear. "Paper——" and he feebly signed that he wanted to write.
Charley flew to the desk in the corner and got a writing pad and pencil. But the man was so weak that he made only a few wavy, uncertain lines, and fell back exhausted.
"You write; I sign," he whispered, to Charley. Charley obediently took pad and pencil, and the man dictated. "Date. Say 'For service rendered I give—bearer—all my rights in—Golden West mining claim—California.' I sign. Quick." And he motioned for the pencil.
Charley held the pad, and watched him feebly scrawl a "T" and what might have been an "o"—and a haggling "m"; and then the pencil dropped. He looked so strange, he scarcely breathed; and frightened, Charley darted into the other room where his father was lying resting.
"Oh, dad! Dad!"
"Hello? What's the matter?"
Mr. Adams jumped to the floor and at rapid limp hastened for the living-room.
"He acts worse," explained Charley, pointing. "See? He talked, and started to write, and fell back."
Mr. Adams bent over the sofa and with ear down listened. He put his hand upon the stranger's forehead.
"Get the doctor as quick as you can, Charley," he bade.
Out bolted Charley, but he did not have far to go, for he met the doctor at the gate. A glance at the sofa decided Doctor Paulis. He soberly shook his head. His examination need be very short.
"I can do no more," he said.
"I feared so," confessed Charley's father. "To bad. Well, now what can we do, I wonder."
"I'll notify the coroner," proffered the old doctor. "Meanwhile, you'd better look through the clothes and see if you can find out anything more."
The doctor left. Mr. Adams gently searched the man's trouser pockets, finding nothing, not even a knife.
"Now for the coat again," he directed.
Charley brought the coat from the closet. His father handled it. It was heavy with the two little buckskin sacks; but the pockets contained nothing else—and yet Mr. Adams's fingers paused in their search, as he was about to lay the coat aside.
"There's a paper in here somewhere," he said. "I felt it. It's inside the lining." He fished out his pen-knife; and ripping a seam, extracted the paper from under the lining.
It seemed to be several pages from an old diary, and was worn so that the pencilings could scarcely be read. Charley and his father could make out names of places in California, evidently—"Sutter's," "American R.," "Coloma,"—and stray words such as "good camp," "prospects bright," "ounces," "pan," "rain," "home"; on an inside page was sketched a rough map.
But this penciled map was so worn and faint that Charley and his father, and his mother, too, puzzled over it almost in vain. Starting from the joining of two rivers, it appeared to represent an exploring trip up along one of the rivers, and through the country, with crosses scattered like camps, and the letters "G. H." set down here and there. The page was thumb-marked so badly, and so scuffed, that some of it was well-nigh rubbed out. Charley and his father and mother later puzzled a great deal over that map, which looked like this.
But now the next thing was the examination of the sacks, round and heavy.
"I suppose we'd better open them," mused Mr. Adams. He untied the worn, greasy thong about the neck of one, and loosened the mouth. He peered in; so did Charley.
"Gold dust, sure as shooting," gasped Mr. Adams. "What in the world are we to do with it? Nuggets, too. Ever see any, Charley? Here——" and with thumb and finger he fished out a smoothish lump about the size of a navy bean.
Charley saw it. He saw the dust, too—a mass of fine particles, glinting dully yellow amidst the brownish interior. Gee whiz! And the other sack held the same!
"How much do you suppose it makes?"
Mr. Adams weighed the sacks in his hand, thoughtfully.
"I judge they weigh about three pounds apiece," he mused. "Gold is selling at fourteen dollars an ounce, I hear. Humph! If each sack contains three pounds, that makes—er, twelve ounces to the pound—thirty-six ounces in each sack, at fourteen dollars—say $500 apiece, or $1000 in all. I declare!"
That seemed like a lot of money.
"He gave it to me," declared Charley, eagerly. "Really he did, dad. And he gave me his mine, too, out in California. He did. I wrote as he told me to on a piece of paper, and he started to sign, and then he quit. It's the Golden West mine. See?" and Charley, showed the writing on the pad.
"Well!" muttered his father. "I declare! 'Tom,' that looks like. Tom who, I wonder. That's the most importance. Of course we don't want his mine or his money. Didn't he tell his last name?"
"No, sir. But he gave me the money, and he gave me the mine. He——" but Charley was interrupted by a resounding knock on the front door.
"See who that is," bade his father. "I'll lay these things away."
When Charley opened the front door, the long-nosed man stood there, on the threshold.
"Hello," he greeted, brusquely. "I called around to see our friend. How is he?"
"Why," stammered Charley. "He's—he's dead."
"Just a few moments ago."
"He is, is he? I'll have to look into that." And the long-nosed man pushed by Charley and strode through the hall. Charley could do nothing but follow. He found the man confronting Mr. Adams. The figure on the sofa had been covered by a cloth.
"The kid says our friend has passed over," rather roughly spoke the long-nosed man. "How about it?"
"Yes, sir," answered Mr. Adams. "There he is."
"Huh!" And walking across, the long-nosed man peeped in under the cloth. "All right," he said. "Now's our chance to divvy, then, isn't it?"
"Just what do you mean, sir?" demanded Mr. Adams, flushing—and Charley knew that his father was angry.
"I mean you get half and I get half, and no questions asked. Where are those sacks?"
"No, sir!" returned Mr. Adams, decidedly. "There'll be no such performance. I shall put those sacks and their contents, just as they are, on deposit with the bank or other authorities, subject to the heirs. They're neither mine nor yours."
"He gave them to me, anyway," blurted Charley, angrily, to the man. "There's $1000. And he——"
"Charley, be quiet," ordered his father, sternly. "It doesn't concern us how much there is, or what he did. He wasn't in his right mind."
"What else did he do, bub?" queried the man.
But Charley held his tongue.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," continued Mr. Adams, severely, to the long-nosed man, "trying to take the hard-earned gains of a poor fellow who probably has left a needy family somewhere, and was going back to them! If you think we'll be partners with you, you're highly mistaken. Understand? I've never yet taken advantage of anybody in misfortune, and I've never yet robbed a guest, most of all a dead man. Now you'll oblige me by clearing out."
The long-nosed man sneered.
"Oh, yes," he said. "I see. You've got the swag, and no doubt he's told you about some mine, and you count on getting that, too! But your high and mighty virtue doesn't down, with me. My name's Jacobs: Jasper Jacobs. I've lived on the frontier. I'm half wild hoss and half Mississippi alligator; and I'm a bad man to cross. I'm going to watch you, and when this swag comes to light again I'll have my share. See? Put that in your pipe and smoke it."
"Look here, sir," answered Mr. Adams, standing straight and tall—and Charley never could have believed that his father could seem so fierce, except in battle. "I'm a soldier, and I've faced worse dangers than you can threaten. Clear out, or I'll throw you out. You're insulting me, and you're desecrating that unfortunate lying there. Now go!"
The long-nosed man actually shrank. But as he retreated he still blustered, "I'm not done with you. I'll watch you. Remember, I'm on your trail. This matter hasn't ended." And he slammed the door as he went outside.
"Ha!" uttered Mr. Adams, and his face calmed. "So much for him. Now we'll do just as I said, Charley; and your mother'll approve. We'll deposit the sacks and any other valuables, with the bank, after we've told the coroner; and we'll advertise for heirs. We'll use only enough of the funds to pay the doctor, and other expenses. By the way, did the poor fellow say anything else? Give any directions of any kind?"
"No, sir. He just called for paper and pencil and tried to write and couldn't, and then had me write for him, and all he signed was 'Tom.'"
"That's very indefinite. If only he had finished his name, we'd have had some clue. But the map's no good to us, in such shape. Besides, we wouldn't think of touching money or mine, as long as there's a single chance of the rightful claimants turning up."
Charley's mother entered. She agreed that this was right; and Charley, although a little disappointed, could not help but agree, too. They pored over the diary and map, but had to give up, and put them away. They told only Doctor Paulis and the coroner.
However, although they advertised at once in the papers, for the unknown's relatives (referring claimants to a lawyer's office), nobody turned up who proved to be a genuine heir. After the funeral expenses were paid, there were over $800 left, lying in the bank. The long-nosed man, Mr. Jacobs, was unable to get at this, but he bothered the Adamses considerably by hanging about, and whenever he met Charley he made insulting remarks, and threats, and insisted that there was a mine. He did not dare to say much to Mr. Adams, though. After a few weeks he seemed to have tired, and to have drawn off. He had been very annoying.
"Well, George," said old Dr. Paulis, one evening, "I guess you and Charley fall heir to that dust and mine. Nobody else appears to have any shadow of claim on them."
Charley's heart leaped; but his father shook his head.
"They're not ours, doctor," he replied. "I'd much prefer that somebody turn up who needs them and is entitled to them."
"My dear man," protested the doctor, earnestly, "you do need them. That's the point. You need them and you're to have them. I want you to take the money and go to California!"
"Oh—hurrah!" cried Charley, springing up and sitting down again.
"Why——!" gasped his father. "But look here, anyway: it wouldn't be mine; it belongs to Charley, remember. The man gave it to Charley, if he gave it to anybody."
"Humph," grunted the old doctor, eyes twinkling. "Supposing Charley lends you half, then—and he takes the other half and you and he go shares on the trip and on what you find."
"Hurrah!" again cheered Charley. "I don't want it; dad can have it all, of course. But I'd like to go, if I can."
"No arguments, now," warned the old doctor, to Mr. Adams, who sat bewildered. "Your wife and I've agreed. You need a sea voyage, and a little roughing it in the out-of-doors yonder in the California mountains. That's just what you need, to set you up again. Now's your chance. Besides, there's the mine——"
"The Golden West mine!" cheered Charley. "Sure. That's ours, too."
"There's the mine," continued the old doctor. "Somebody ought to be developing that mine. If any real heirs ever do turn up, you see, you'll have more than $800 to give them."
"They'll certainly get either the mine or their $800," asserted Mr. Adams. "I don't want pay for taking care of anybody in distress."
"By all means no," concurred the old doctor. "But according to what Charley understood (and you heard some of it, yourself), that man gave him the dust, and also wanted him to have the mine. So you and he are going out there, and you'll start just as soon as you possibly can."
"You will go, won't you, George?" urged Mrs. Adams. "I'll get along splendidly. The main thing is your health. We can't any of us be happy or contented while you're poorly—and the doctor says California is the very thing for you. It does seem as though the way had been opened by Providence. I'm just as glad as I can be!"
"So am I!" cheered Charley. "I'm going over and tell Billy."
"Hold on a bit," cautioned the doctor. "Wait till we finish up."
It required considerable more talk before Mr. Adams was fully persuaded. At last he did say that he'd go, if Mrs. Adams could be left—and if Charley would lend him the money. Lend him the money! As if Charley wouldn't gladly give him every cent—yes, and stay home himself, to boot, if necessary. But that was not necessary; Charley was to go, as partner and comrade.
Plans followed thick and fast, and Charley was chock full of news when he found Billy Walker.
"You don't know what I know!"
"What?" asked Billy.
"I'm going out to California! I'll get there before you do!"
"Aw—honest?" queried Billy. "We start day after to-morrow. How'll you beat us? When do you start? Who else is going?"
"Start next week. Dad and I."
"Why don't you come with us? We'd have a lot of fun. How are you going to beat us? What's your outfit? We've got a mighty fine team of horses."
"We are not going overland," announced Charley, triumphantly. "That's too long, and my father needs the sea air. We're going across the Isthmus and sail up the Pacific to San Francisco!"
"How long will that take?" demanded Billy.
"About a month and a half, in all."
"Oh, shucks!" said Billy. "It'll take us three months. That's what the papers say, anyhow. Maybe you will beat us, then. But I'll have twice as much fun."
"Why?" asked Charley.
"Because we'll be twice as long—see? What are you going to take? You'd better look over our stuff. Come on."
"We've bought everything we could here in St. Louis," explained Billy, as he led the way. "They say California prices are awful, there's such a rush. Our wagon's full."
And as it stood in the Walkers's back yard, it certainly was.
"We won't need such a lot of provisions," said Charley, wisely. "We get fed on the boats."
"That's so," agreed Billy. "But dad and I'll use up 150 pounds of flour and bacon apiece, just getting across. An article in the paper said people ought to carry that much, besides coffee and sugar and salt and all that. Now I'll show you my clothes."
That was more interesting. The stout flannel shirts and the jean trousers and the heavy cow-hide boots and the belt and the wide-brimmed slouch hat and the coarse knitted socks looked very business-like. Mr. Walker's clothes were about the same, except that his flannel shirts were red, while Billy's were blue. Charley resolved that he'd get red, for himself.
"You ought to have guns, too," asserted Billy. "You might need 'em. We'll need ours, I bet, for buffalo and Injuns and grizzly bears. The papers say to take a rifle and pair of pistols, five pounds of powder and ten pounds of lead. Dad's bought one of those new-kind patent revolving pistols—you can shoot it six times and take out the cylinder and put in another and shoot six times more! Guess there won't many Injuns want to tackle us! And I've got a seven-shooter rifle, all my own."
AN UNWELCOME COMPANION
According to an advertisement in the St. Louis papers the steamship Georgia, from New York for the Isthmus of Panama, was to arrive at New Orleans in three weeks. That would be just about the right date, decided Mr. Adams, to allow him and Charley to make their preparations, and take a steamboat down the Mississippi from St. Louis to New Orleans.
Now all was excitement, not only at the Adams home, but throughout St. Louis and the whole eastern country. Charley bid good-bye to Billy and Billy's father, when with their team and white-topped wagon they pulled out, in their party, for Westport Landing, which is now Kansas City. From Westport Landing they were to drive on to Council Grove, thirty miles west, which was the big starting point for California. The papers declared that already, in this April, 15,000 people had gathered along the Missouri River border, all the way from Independence, Missouri, to Council Bluffs of Iowa, prepared to start on their 2000-mile trip to the new gold fields, as soon as the grass began to grow. Every boat, too, to the Isthmus, was crowded—and so were the sailing vessels, bound around Cape Horn!
The lowest cabin-fare, New York to San Francisco by the Isthmus, was $395! Counting the steamboat trip down the Mississippi, the fare was about the same from St. Louis. Whew! That seemed to Charley a lot of money—but thanks to the stranger whom they had taken in, Charley and his father had it, and could leave Mrs. Adams well provided for, besides, with what Mr. Adams had in reserve. That was good. A number of men had gone off and left their families to get along as best they could, but this was not Mr. Adams's way.
Being an experienced campaigner, Charley's father knew just about what kind of an outfit they would need; and of course, as Billy had said, the papers all had published lists, for the information of the emigrants.
All the clothing should be of the toughest and hardiest material; by accounts there would not be much chance to renew it, out at the mines, unless a person was prepared to pay tremendous prices. You should have seen Charley, when his clothes came home! It had been great fun, buying at the stores, where "California garments" were going like hot cakes, but he could scarcely wait until he had tried his things on. When he looked in the glass, and saw himself in broad slouch hat, and red flannel shirt, and belted trousers tucked into cowhide boots, with a blue bandanna handkerchief about his neck, he felt like a real gold-miner. The whitish cotton suits, for wear on shipboard and on the Isthmus, in the tropics, did not amount to much in comparison with this garb of a "Forty-niner"—as the papers were beginning to call the outgoing gold seekers.
Mr. Adams bought a brand-new Colt's revolving rifle, that shot seven times, a revolving pistol (as it was termed), and two butcher-knives—one apiece, to be worn thrust through the belt. Charley donned the knife, just to see how it looked (and it looked very business-like), but his father did not allow him to put on the big pistol. Maybe out in the gold fields he might wear it, though.
Then there were two picks and two spades and two sheet-iron miners' pans. These pans were round, about six inches deep and fifteen inches across at the rims, slanting to a foot across at the bottom. They resembled a milk-pan. They were to be used for "washing out" the gold from the dirt. Charley had no idea how to do this; neither had his father—and neither had one in a hundred of the other people who were talking California. But they all expected to learn, in case it was not possible to scrape the pure gold up with spades!
"By gracious!" exclaimed Mr. Adams, at the very last moment. "We mustn't forget the skillet! That's the most important thing yet."
"Of course!" agreed Mrs. Adams. "How'll you fry your meat?"
So a new skillet was added to the outfit. The clothing packed a trunk jam full. The picks and spades and skillet and rifle and other unwieldy things were rolled in Mr. Adams's two army blankets and a couple of quilts. That made a large bundle, and with the picks and spades showing finely it told exactly where the owners were bound. Charley was proud of that bundle.
At last, one morning, he donned his miner's costume in earnest, for the day of the start had come. The trunk and bundle were sent down to the levee in a wagon. On this day, at ten o'clock, the steamboat Robert Burns would leave for New Orleans.
Mrs. Adams of course went down to the levee with her two gold seekers to see them off. Moments were growing very precious. The Robert Burns was there, waiting, the smoke welling from her tall twin stacks. The levee was crowded with passengers and their friends and relatives. Negro roustabouts were hard at work hustling freight and baggage aboard. Charley saw their trunk carried over the gangplank—and he nudged his father and pointed, for several passengers, dressed in California costume, were carrying up the gangplank rolls of bedding just like theirs!
It was high time he hunted up their roll, too. He found it, where it had been pitched from the wagon. As he was proudly inspecting it to see that all was right, he stumbled over a small cowhide trunk. Attached to the handle was a card that read: "J. Jacobs"!
"Jacobs!" That was the long-nosed man's name. Was he booked on the Robert Burns? And why? Charley grew excited at the thought, and when his father and mother strolled across, to be near the bundle, he called: "Father! Look here!"
Mr. Adams limped over (and big and fine he was in his rough clothes), to see.
"Humph!" he muttered. "Well, what of it, Charley?"
"Do you think that's his?"
"Why, the long-nosed man's."
"I'm sure I don't know," answered his father, coolly.
"But that's his name," pursued Charley. "Do you think he's going on our boat?"
"We can't very well stop him, boy," smiled Mr. Adams. "It isn't 'our' boat, exactly; and he can't do us any harm, anyway. You aren't afraid of him, are you?"
"N—no, not if you aren't," asserted Charley. "But he's no business following us up as he said he would."
"Humph!" again remarked his father. "We can take care of ourselves. We'll mind our own affairs, and we'll expect him to mind his. If that's his trunk, probably he's only going down-river a way. We won't borrow trouble this early in the game, Charley."
That sounded reasonable, and Charley had a lot of trust in his soldier father. Only—if that trunk belonged to the long-nosed man, and if the long-nosed man was going down to New Orleans with them, and if he boarded the same steamer there, for California, things looked mighty peculiar. He seemed to be such a mean, obstinate fellow that there was no knowing what he might have up his sleeve.
Mrs. Adams was curious to know the cause of Charley's evident excitement over the trunk.
"Oh, it bears the name Jacobs, dear," explained Mr. Adams, easily. "Charley has the notion it means that the 'long-nosed man,' as he calls him, is going to California with us."
"Oh, George!" And Charley's mother, too, seemed alarmed. "Do you suppose he is?"
"No, I don't. But we can't stop him, anyway."
"It's queer he'd take this same boat, though. Maybe he's been watching you."
"Oh, pshaw," laughed Mr. Adams. "Don't let's rig up a scarecrow, to spoil our good-byes. Charley and I'll take care of ourselves; won't we, Charley? We'll stick by each other, and other folks can do as they please, as long as they don't interfere. Come on; let's go aboard, and you can see our state-room, and say good-bye there."
Mr. Adams picked up the bundle, and shouldering it led the way up the gangplank. Mrs. Adams followed, and Charley, in his miner's rig, with butcher-knife stuck through his belt, proudly stumped after. He wished that Billy Walker was there, to see. But other people were seeing, anyway.
When they gained the deck, and were passing around to the state-room (which was number 19), glancing back Charley saw a darky roustabout heaving the Jacobs trunk on his back, and starting with it for the gangplank. So it came aboard, but of its owner, if he was their Mr. Jacobs, there was no sign.
Presently the big bell rang vigorously, and the whistle hoarsely blew, as signal for all visitors to go ashore. Mrs. Adams gave Charley and her husband one final kiss, and Charley added to his return kiss a round hug. She was such a good woman; he wished that she was going, too. He rather wished that he could stay at home with her; he—he—and he choked. For a moment he almost hated his miner's costume. However——
"Write often, now," she bade, her eyes dewy, as with her they hastened out on deck.
"Yes, we will. And you write often and tell us the news. Send us the papers."
"I will, dear. Now, do be careful."
"Yes. Take care of yourself, too. If you need us, we'll come straight home, won't we, Charley?"
Charley could only nod.
"Hurry, dear, or you'll be left," warned Mr. Adams, anxiously—for already the gangplank ropes had been tautened by the donkey-engine and the plank was trembling to rise. Charley rather wished that she would be left; then she'd have to come with them! Wouldn't that be great!
But she ran down the plank. Then, near the end, she stopped, and called back.
"What's that, dear?" inquired Mr. Adams, and he and Charley listened keenly.
"Have you got the quinine?"
"Yes. Hurry, dear."
"It's in the trunk. Look out—jump!"
The gangplank was rising, but with a little run Mrs. Adams did jump and landed safely. Charley laughed. They didn't catch his mother—no, siree. And she was the last person to leave the boat.
Up rose the gangplank. The engine bell jangled. The negro roustabouts cast off the bow and stern hawsers from the wharf posts, and scrambled over the gunwale as the Robert Burns began to back out into the stream. Mrs. Adams waved her handkerchief. Everybody on the wharf waved—mostly handkerchiefs, which were suddenly very popular. The people on board waved back—and they, too, used handkerchiefs pretty generally. Faster and farther backed the Robert Burns, until in midcurrent, after describing a great half-circle, she was pointing down stream. The engine bell jangled to stop, and to go ahead—and she was started for New Orleans.
They were off for California!
The levee, with his mother's handkerchief now fading into the whitish blur of other handkerchiefs, drifted behind; Charley took a long breath, straightened his shoulders, stole a glance at his father, who was winking violently in queer fashion, and began to take stock of the other passengers. Some were leaving the rail; a number of others already had left it, and were negligently strolling about or seating themselves for comfort. They mostly were men—business men, planters, and the like, traveling down-river on pleasure or errands of importance, and a few miners bound for California. There was no Mr. Jacobs, that Charley knew, among them, and he felt easier. Probably "J. Jacobs" was some other Jacobs, and not the long-nosed man.
"Let's go in and put our room to rights, Charley," proposed Mr. Adams, as the buildings of old St. Louis merged one with another, on the shore line behind.
He briskly limped across the deck, and Charley followed. This would be something to do, at any rate. But as he passed the door of the long salon, or lounging room, he glanced in and saw clear to the other end, where there was a bar for sale of liquors. And he was certain that he glimpsed the long-nosed man, just coming from the bar!
Charley's heart fairly skipped a beat. No, he would not say anything to his father, for perhaps he had been mistaken—and what was the sense in being scared? Supposing that was the long-nosed man. He was not bigger or smarter than they, and besides, as Mr. Adams had said, he had a perfect right to travel on the Mississippi River. Everybody used the river, because there were no railroads here. However, it was queer, his choosing this boat.
Charley and his father set their state-room in order, by arranging their clothes and sleeping things.
"You can go out, if you want to, Charley," spoke his father. "I've got a little more to do, yet. Then I'll come, too."
"All right," and away clumped Charley, in his heavy boots. This time he was determined to look in earnest for the long-nosed man. He hoped that he would not find him, but he feared, just the same.
He did not have far to look. The long-nosed man was standing leaning against one side of the doorway of the salon. Yes, it was he, sure enough! He acted as if he was waiting, for when he saw Charley approaching, to pass, he smiled, and waved genially.
"Well," he greeted, halting Charley. "So proud of your new clothes that you don't recognize old friends, eh? Come here."
Charley boldly walked straight to him. The man's tone made him mad.
"How are you?" answered Charley. "Taking a trip?"
Mr. Jacobs squinted his eyes and wrinkled his long nose cunningly.
"Y—yes," he drawled. "Taking a little trip." His breath smelled of liquor. "Suppose you're going to Californy, to look for that gold mine. Thought you'd give me the slip, did you?"
"No," said Charley. "We didn't think anything about you, especial."
"Oh, you didn't!" And the long-nosed man spat tobacco juice on the clean deck. "You reckoned on giving me the slip, though. But I've been watching you. Didn't I tell you I was half wild hoss and half alligator? What's to hinder me from going out to Californy, too?"
"Nothing, I expect," replied Charley, his heart sinking. "Why? Are you?"
The long-nosed man leered.
"Maybe I am, and maybe I'm not. You go your trail and I'll go mine, but if they cross, look out. Half of that property belongs to me, remember—and half of that money you're using, too."
"It doesn't, either," snapped Charley, angry, his spunk up. "And we aren't afraid of you; not a bit. Go on out to California, if you want to, but don't you bother us. And don't you bother my mother, or you'll get in trouble."
He heard a familiar step, and the voice of his father.
"Hello! This is the man, is it, after all?"
"Hello, yourself," retorted Mr. Jacobs, glaring at him. "Maybe you think you own this boat."
"Not a bit, sir," answered Mr. Adams, good-natured.
"Maybe you think you can dictate where I travel."
"No, sir. I expect to look after myself, and not after you."
"Well said," approved the long-nosed man. "Now will you have a drink?"
"I never use liquor, sir," returned Mr. Adams—and Charley was proud to hear him say it.
"'D rather not drink with me, perhaps," sneered the long-nosed man.
"I see no reason for drinking with you or at all, sir," sharply replied Mr. Adams. "Come on, Charley. We've got better business to tend to."
"You have, have you?" called the long-nosed man, after them. "Maybe you think I don't know what it is. Maybe you think——" but they paid no more attention to him.
Still, the meeting was not pleasant, and Charley heartily wished that the "J. Jacobs" had proved to some other Jacobs.
A FRIEND IN NEED
The Robert Burns steadily churned her way down the Mississippi, yellow and swollen with the spring freshets. She stopped at towns and other landings—some of these being plantation landings—to discharge or take on passengers and freight. These stops would have been the more interesting, to Charley, were he not in a hurry. He wanted to be sure and catch the Georgia, for the Isthmus. Supposing the Robert Burns were late into New Orleans; then they might miss the Georgia. Of course, there were other boats—the Falcon and the Isthmus and the Quaker City; but with such crowds setting out for the gold fields, it behooved a fellow to get there as soon as he possibly could.
More "Forty-niners" boarded the Robert Burns. One in particular took Charley's eye. He came out in a skiff, from a small wood landing, where some steamers, but not the Robert Burns, stopped to load up with fuel. When the Robert Burns whistled and paused, floating idly, and he had clambered in, he proved to be a very tall, gaunt, black-whiskered individual, with a long, muzzle-loading squirrel rifle on his arm. A darky tossed a blanket roll up after him, and rowed away for the shore.
The man looked like a backwoodsman—and again he looked like a Californian, too, for his clothes were an old blue flannel shirt (with a rolling collar having white stars in the corners), patched buckskin trousers and heavy boots of the regulation style. Charley chanced to be crossing the salon or main cabin when the man was paying for his passage, and there witnessed something exciting that made him dart out and find his father.
"Dad!" hoarsely whispered Charley. "That was a gold miner who came aboard in a skiff! He was paying his fare with gold dust."
"Was he? How do you know?"
"I saw him at the desk, but the clerk wouldn't take any dust, so he had to pay with money. He has a buckskin sack, just like ours. Wish I could talk with him."
"Maybe he'll talk with you, if you give him the chance. You can try and see. But don't ask him any foolish questions, or seem inquisitive."
Presently the tall man (he was taller even than Mr. Adams) emerged from the cabin, to stand by the rail, leaning on his rifle and gazing at the shore line. A picturesque figure he made, with his starred shirt-collar rolled back, and his leathery trousers wrinkled down over his boot-tops.
Charley sidled around him, expectantly; and the man noticed him.
"You look as if you were going out, too," addressed the man, a twinkle under his bushy brows.
"Yes, sir," answered Charley. "To California."
"Anybody with you?"
"My father." And Charley proudly nodded toward another tall form. "Were you ever there?" he added, hesitantly.
"I should rather think so. Five years ago, and four years ago; and now I'm making another trip by a new route. The other times I crossed by the land trail."
"Oh, you must have been with Fremont!" exclaimed Charley.
The whiskered man nodded.
"I was. I was with Carson and Fremont in Forty-three—Forty-four, and again in Forty-five—Forty-six."
"I know about those travels," cried Charley. "I'm reading Colonel Fremont's reports now. I'm just finishing his last one. I guess they're about the best description of California there is. Did you fight in the war?"
The man smiled.
"See my shirt?" he queried. "All we Fremont men wore these navy shirts—some of us clear through the campaign. The sloop of war Portsmouth sent us a lot of ship's supplies, when we marched down from the mountains to Sutter's Fort, just before the uprising of the Bear War in June, Forty-six. I saved my shirt, and now I only wear it occasionally. I'm sorter proud of this shirt."
"I should think you would be," agreed Charley. "Did you mine in California?"
"Yes, sir. I started in to settle there, after the war, till the gold craze broke out. Ever see any dust?"
"Some," admitted Charley.
"There's not much in this sack now," continued the Fremont man, showing it. "But I've filled it many a time."
"I've got a sack, too," said Charley, exhibiting it.
"You've been out there?"
"No, sir. I got this in St. Louis."
"Let's see." And the man fingered it. "It's old-timer—been used plenty. Some dust sticking to it, too. Huh."
"Is there lots of gold out there?" asked Charley.
"Gold?" repeated the man; and laughed. "I found fifteen hundred dollars in two days, first thing; then I didn't find any for a month. But I cleaned up $10,000, and I'm going back after more. It's all luck, now; but after the surface has been scraped off, then it will be skill. Does your father know anything about mining?"
"No, sir. He's a soldier. He was with General Scott."
"That won't cut much figure," said the man, quickly. "Soldiers and sailors and lawyers and doctors and farmers and trappers and even Indians are all grubbing together—and none of us knows a blamed thing except that gold is soft and yellow and will pass for currency—sixteen dollars an ounce. But good luck to you. Going across the Isthmus, I reckon?"
"That's the easier way. Well, if I see you out there and can help you along any way, you can count on me. But it's a country where every tub stands on its own bottom, and no man's any better than any other man."
So saying, he threw his rifle into the hollow of his arm and paced away, into the cabin. Charley gazed after him, and reflected that although they might have an enemy with them, they also had made a friend.
"If he was with Carson and Fremont, he's all right," declared Mr. Adams, when Charley related the conversation. "But we'll be beholden to nobody, as long as we can help ourselves. We two bunkies can paddle our own canoe, can't we?"
The Robert Burns continued on, down to New Orleans. The long-nosed man kept to the cabin, mainly, where a number of rough passengers spent their time drinking and gambling. The Fremont man was about the quietest of all the passengers, mingling little, talking little. He exchanged a few civil words with Mr. Adams, and kindly greeted Charley, when they were near one another. That was all.
Charley thought rather the more of him, that he was not the blustering, boasting kind, even though he had blazed the long trail across to California, with Fremont and Carson. He evidently was a man of deeds, not words.
New Orleans was reached in the afternoon—and a fine big city it looked to be, as the Robert Burns whistled hoarsely and swung for the levee. However, the Forty-niners aboard her had not much thought for the looks of the city; their minds were more upon whether the Georgia had arrived, and how soon they could get aboard her, for the Isthmus and California gold fields.
In the excitement of bustling ashore Charley forgot all about the long-nosed man, who disappeared with the other scattering passengers.
"Where's the dock of the Isthmus steamers?" queried Mr. Adams, of a lounger, as he and Charley landed, the roll of bedding on Mr. Adams's shoulder.
"Eet is still down the river, m'sieur," answered the man—who was a young French creole. "M'sieur would better ride than walk."
"All right. Thank you," and Mr. Adams hailed an odd carriage, drawn by one horse between a of long curved shafts. They piled in.
"To the Isthmus dock," ordered Mr. Adams.
"You want to catch the Georgia?" asked the driver,
"She's about coming in. They're looking for her."
"Will I have time to get our tickets?"
"Plenty. She'll lie over till morning."
"All right. Go ahead."
The driver flung out his lash, and away they whirled, down a rough street, along the river.
The dock bore a large sign, which said: "Steamers for the Isthmus and California." There was an enormous pile of baggage and a crowd of people, of all kinds, waiting. But the Georgia had not come in yet. Mr. Adams left Charley there to watch their baggage and was driven away in haste to get their tickets.
Suddenly a cry arose: "There she comes! That's she!" Down the broad river—never so broad as here—welled a cloud of black smoke, and a big steamer surged into view. What a big thing she was! She could carry two or three Robert Burnses. She was a side-wheeler, of course, but her paddle boxes stood as high as houses. Across her pilot house was a gilt sign reading "Georgia"—and on her paddle box, as she swung around, appeared another "Georgia," in large black letters.
Charley gazed in dismay, for every inch of her seemed occupied by passengers. The upper deck and middle deck and lower deck appeared full of figures, with heads craning to gaze.
"That's the boat," quoth a voice at Charley's elbow. He turned and found the Fremont man by his side, leaning on his long rifle. "Do you like her looks?"
"How are we to get on?" answered Charley. "Why, she's full already, isn't she?"
The Fremont man nodded, and smiled.
"I expect she is. She's built to carry 500 and they'll put 1500 on her. 'T isn't right—but it's the way they're doing, so as to make money. We'll be lucky to find sleeping space on deck, and get enough to eat. But everything goes, in the rush to California. If you think these Atlantic steamers are big boats, you ought to see the steamers on the other side."
"Are they better?"
"Considerably. The Pacific Mail Company runs them. They are better and better managed; but those boats'll be packed, too. All we can do is to make the best of it, after we've paid our money."
"Are you going on the Georgia?" hopefully asked Charley.
The Fremont man nodded.
"I'll go if I can find a six-foot space to lie down on—and I reckon I will."
The Georgia docked. A number of passengers hustled off, and then began the rush aboard. How the gold seekers shoved and scrambled and fought! The gangway was a mass of shoulders and hats and blanket rolls.
"Coming on?" invited the Fremont man, to Charley.
Charley hesitated. He was impatient, but he didn't know——
"I'm waiting for my father," he explained.
"We'd better find our places while we can, and have one ready for him," prompted the Fremont man.
He picked up the bed rolls, and hurried ahead, Charley at his heels. At the rail an official glanced at his ticket, and waved him to the upper deck. Charley followed. The ticket gave first-class cabin privileges, but what did these amount to, when 1500 passengers were being crowded upon a 500-passenger boat? Even standing room seemed to be valuable.
They pushed along through the mass of passengers and friends and relatives, who acted, some of them, too dazed and confused to move aside, and mounted the stairs leading to the upper decks. When they emerged into the open air, the Fremont man paused uncertainly, puffing, to survey the outlook.