THE WEDGE OF GOLD
BY C.C. GOODWIN,
EDITOR DAILY TRIBUNE
TRIBUNE JOB PRINTING COMPANY SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
I. The Mineral Kingdom
III. Making Money at $4 per day
IV. Smiles and Tears
V. The Voyage
VII. A Dinner Party
VIII. Ways that are Dark
IX. How Miners are Caught
XI. Going to Epsom Downs
XII. Westminster Abbey
XIII. Two Kinds of Sorrow
XIV. Tears and Orange Flowers
XV. Sinister Successes
XVI. A Trip to Africa
XVII. On Their Travels
XVIII. The Soul in Clay
XIX. The Wedge of Gold
XX. The Occident and the Orient Meet
XXI. Shipping a Quartz Mill
XXII. A Lost Trail Discovered
XXIII. Back to England
XXIV. Dealing in Mining Shares
XXV. A Wedge of Gold Indeed
XXVI. Fever Visions
XXVII. Selling Stock Short
XXIX. Springing a Trap
XXX. Grand Opera
XXXI. Marriage Bells
THE WEDGE OF GOLD.
THE MINERAL KINGDOM.
The splendor of the world is due to mining and to the perfectness of man's ability to work the minerals which the mines supply. The fields of the world give men food; with food furnished, a few souls turn to the contemplation of higher things; but no grand civilization ever came to an agricultural people until their intellects were quickened by something beyond their usual occupation.
How man first emerged from utter barbarism is a story that is lost, but when history first began to pick up the threads of events and to weave them into a record, the loom upon which the record was woven was made of gold. One of the rivers that flowed through Eden also "compassed the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good."
"Tubal Cain was an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron." Abraham and Jacob bought fields with money, and when Pharaoh sought to make Joseph next in power to himself, he took the ring from his finger and put it upon Joseph's finger; and he put a chain of gold about Joseph's neck. Thus the grandchildren of Adam, in Holy Writ, were artificers in brass and iron, and when civilization in Egypt began to make an impression upon the world, its sovereigns had already discovered the omnipotence of gold.
Assyria, that came next to be the concernment of mankind, had men who could perfectly fuse gold and glass, and their work is still an object of wonder to the world. Their queens wore raiment which was woven from threads of gold.
The splendor of the Hebrew nation culminated when the roof of their great temple was laid with beaten gold, and when all the magnificent furnishings within the temple were wrought from gold and silver and brass.
The invincible Greeks had chariots and javelins of iron, helmets of gold and brass, and now as their tombs are rifled there is found beside where their bones went back to dust the metal implements with which they wrought, and the imperishable coins with which they carried on their commerce.
The power of Rome came when her artisans learned how to fashion the short sword, and her soldiers learned how to wield it, and her splendor came when, through conquest, she brought under her dominion the gold fields of Spain and Asia, and learned the power which money carries with it. Her civilization began to recede when the money supply began to fall off, and when it became too precious for the masses to possess it, then the race degenerated until the men were no longer fit to be soldiers, the women lost the grace to become the mothers of soldiers, and darkness settled upon Europe.
England remained little more than a rendezvous for wild tribes until her people learned mining and began the study of how to reduce the metals which the mines supplied, and her advancement since can be rated exactly by the progress she has made in bringing the metals into effective forms and combinations. When first the rude Saxon acquired the art to mend the broken links in a knight's armor, and how to temper one of the old-fashioned two-handed swords, it was possible to comprehend, that from that germ would expand the brains that would by and by construct a steel ship or bridge; when the first rude spindle was fashioned, all the commencement necessary to create and work the world's looms was made.
Out of these accomplishments, commerce was born; foreign commerce required ships, and so the ships were supplied; with commerce was developed a financial system, and soon it was discovered that after all the chiefest power of the world was money; that the swiftest way to win money was to perfect machinery so that out of raw material forms of beauty and of use could be wrought, and thus in regular chain the majesty of England expanded from the first day that an Englishman was able to convert from the dull iron ore something which the world would want, until ships laden with her wares reached all the world's ports, and to barbarous lands she became an iron nation more terrible than the first iron nation.
The world's highest civilization does not come from the fruitful fields, but from the darkness of the deep mines. Power and independence come with the digging and working of the baser metals; full civilization waits upon the production of enough of the royal metals to give to the people wealth in a form that enables them to command the best attainable talent and forces to serve them, and enough of leisure to enable them to put forward their best efforts.
Below the surface of the story which makes this book is a deeper story of what may be performed by brave hearts when they leave the fruitful fields behind them and turn with all their hearts to woo the desert that turns her forbidding face to them at their coming, and holds, closely hidden within her sere breast, her inestimable treasures.
"What think you of it, Jack?"
"It is growing soft in the drift, Jim; the stringers of ore are growing stronger and giving promise of concentrating soon."
"So it strikes me," was the response, "and when Uncle Jimmie Fair was down here an hour ago, I put two things together, and they have kept me thinking ever since."
"And what were the two things, Jim?"
"Why, Jack, did you hear him sigh as he moved the candle along the face of the drift, and hear him say, 'You are doing beautifully, my sons, beautifully; I never had better men,' and then sighed again, and added, 'I fear it's no use; I fear we shall have to drop the work soon?' That was one of the things. The other was the light in his eyes when he examined the face of the drift. If I were a gambler, Jack, I would 'copper' what he said and wager all I had on the twinkle of his eyes."
"It looks good in the drift, surely; and, Jim, if we break into an ore body any time, it will not surprise me."
"Nor me, either, Jack; and if we strike ore here, it ought to be good, because, as I reckon it, since we left the Gould and Curry shaft, we have drifted out of the G. & C. ground, clear through the Best and Belcher, and some distance into the Consolidated Virginia, and by the trend of the lode, if we could find an ore body here, it would be in regular course from the Spanish and Ophir croppings."
"How long have you worked here, and how much have you saved, Jack?"
"It is three years and a month since I went to work in the Belcher," was the reply; "I made $400 in Crown Point stocks, and I have saved altogether $2,800 and odd."
"I beat you by a year's work, Jack, and I have, I believe, $3,300 or $3,400 in the bank. Suppose we try a little gamble in stocks. If we could get an ore body here, this stock would double in a week, and it will not fall very much lower if we do not find anything."
"All right, Jim, if you say so. Meet me to-morrow at eleven o'clock at the California Bank, and we will put in and buy a few shares."
"Agreed," was the answer; "but our twenty minutes are up and we must go. But, Jack, mum must be the word."
"Mum goes," said Jack.
It was a queer spot where this talk was held. It was by the air-pipe in the drift which was run from the 1,200-foot level of the Gould and Curry shaft on the Comstock ledge in Nevada, north toward where the great bonanza was found in the Consolidated Virginia Mine. In the face of the drift the temperature was 120 degrees, and miners could work for only forty minutes and then had to retire to the air-pipe to cool off. It was while resting at the air-pipe that these men, James Sedgwick and John Browning, talked.
They were stripped from the waist up; all their clothing consisted of canvas pantaloons held up by a belt, and miners' shoes; they each had a little band around the head in which was fastened a miner's candlestick. Thus exposed, in the candlelight, they were handsome men. The excessive perspiration caused by the heat of the mine made their faces as fair as the faces of women, and as they lounged, half-naked, carelessly in the drift, their muscles stood out in knots, and in the dim light of the candles, as they rose to return to work, their movements were supple and elastic as those of caged lions. The one who answered to the name of Browning was shorter than the other by an inch, but deeper-chested; the candlelight showed that his eyes were blue, and his mustache and short curly hair were of chestnut color. The other was a little taller, but not so compactly built, and in the uncertain light his eyes, hair and mustache seemed to be black; but really his eyes were gray and his hair brown. Both were young, perhaps twenty-seven or twenty-eight years of age, and both were perfect pictures of good health and good nature.
Their shift was from four in the afternoon to midnight; but when at midnight they went back through the drift to the shaft to be hoisted to the surface, the night foreman informed them that there was some trouble with the cage; that while they could still hoist rock, it was not deemed safe to trust men on the cage, and, accordingly, some blankets, mattresses, and supper had been sent down, and they would have to spend the night in a cross-cut running from the shaft.
The other miners growled. These two made no complaint, but ate their suppers, then took their beds and spread them in the cross-cut. Sedgwick and Browning went farthest into the cross-cut, made their beds together, and lay down. When they knew by the breathing of the miners nearest them that they were asleep, in low tones they began to talk.
Browning was the first to speak. "By Jove, Jim," he said, "that cage story is too thin. It worked all right up to ten o'clock, for Mackay and Fair both came down and spent a good quarter of an hour in the end of the drift and kept tapping around with their hammers. I was mean enough to watch them on the sly and saw them both taking samples. If you keep awake, you will see John Mackay down here again by six o'clock in the morning, and you may make up your mind not to see any more daylight for three days or a week to come; that is, if the drift keeps on improving."
"I believe it, Jack," said Sedgwick; "did you notice that the last blast left nearly the whole face of the drift in ore? Then, did you notice as we met the car coming out, it had long drills in it, and the shift boss was following it up close? No blasting will be done to-night, but the drillings will be saved for assay, and I tell you the plan is that we shall tell no tales out of school. Believe me, that cage will not be safe again till as much stock shall be taken in as is needed by those in control."
"And so," said Browning, "when we get to the surface our little money will not buy enough stock to make it any object."
"I have been thinking of that," said Sedgwick, "and it makes me hot, for all day I have been dreaming of doubling my money."
"I have a notion," said Browning, "to try to work my way out on the ladders."
"That will not work," replied Sedgwick; "I looked, and all the lower ladders have been taken down."
Then a long silence followed, until at last Sedgwick spoke again. "I have it, Jack," said he. Lighting his candle, he groped around in the cross-cut, and found a splinter from a lagging. Fishing out a stump of a pencil from the pocket of his pantaloons, he said, "Where is your money, Browning?"
"In the California Bank," he replied.
"All right," was the response. Then on the splinter he wrote for a moment, and then said, "How is this?" and in a whisper read: "California Bank, Please pay to John W. Mackay whatever funds may be to our respective credits."
"What is your idea, Jim?" asked Browning.
"I mean to lay for Mackay, and when he comes down ask him, quietly, to read the writing when he gets up into daylight."
"But what will he think we want?" asked Browning.
"He will know mighty quick," said Sedgwick; "he knows where we work; he will understand that we know what we see, and that while we do not intend to give away the information, at the same time we do not want to 'get left out in the cold' on this deal."
"What think you he will do?" asked Browning.
"If he believes it safe, and the right kink is on him, he will draw our money and buy us some stock," said Sedgwick. "He made his money that way, and it is not long since he was a timberman on this same lode."
"Why not word it differently, and ask him squarely to buy the stock?" asked Browning.
"Why, Jack," was the reply, "that would be a dead give-away. He would never present such an order at the bank. It would be a notice to every man in the bank and every friend of every man in the bank, and that would mean everybody in town, that the miners who were kept down in the deeps were trying to buy the stock of the mine. I would rather risk it this way."
"All right, everything goes," said Browning, and both signed the order.
Then they talked for a long time. They had known each other slightly for a couple of years, having met first in the Belcher lower levels, and being thrown together in work on the face of the drift from the G. & C. shaft, they had, during the previous few days, each found that the other was a good and bright man, and had grown more and more intimate, and a warm friendship had sprung up between them. As they lay down again, Browning said to Sedgwick, "How did you come to be here, Jim?"
"Fate arranged it, I guess," was the reply. "You see, my home was in Ohio, in the valley of the Miami. My father had a big farm—400 acres—but there were two boys older than myself, and they needed the land. I took to books naturally, and the plan was to give me an education, and then add a learned profession, or set me up in some little business. So I went to school, and after awhile was sent to Oberlin College. Queer old place, that! Great place for praying and for teaching the universal brotherhood of man! The result, I used to think, was that a colored man commanded a premium over a white man there. I worried the thing through for three years and a half. There was a young mulatto student in the school named Deering, who was a great deal too big for his clothes. He was inclined to force himself into places where he was not wanted, and at anything like the manifestation of a desire to dispense with his society, he grew saucy in a moment. I did not mind him, but he was vinegar and brimstone to a young student from Tennessee, a slight, weakly lad, but as brave a little chap as you ever saw, named Thorne. Well, one day, for some impertinence, Thorne struck him. Deering was an athlete; he weighed twenty pounds more than I did, fifty more than Thorne, I guess; he was quick as lightning, was most handy with his props, and in an instant he smashed poor Thorne's face with a blow which knocked him half senseless.
"I sprang to Thorne, at the same time telling Deering it was a cowardly act for one like him to strike a little fellow like Thorne. He answered something to the effect that for a trifle he would smash me a good deal worse than he had Thorne, and—well, in a minute more there were lively times in that neighborhood.
"It was a tough scrap. It was out on the green; the students gathered around us, and while some cried out to stop us, others shouted, 'Fair play!' and so we were not interfered with. I remember saying to myself, 'If I win, it must be a triumph of race and mind over matter;' but, Jack, that was mighty lively matter. We both had been rowing and practicing in the gymnasium; we were both as hard as iron. Deering was as supple as a boa-constrictor, and had a fist like a twelve-pound hammer. Later, the boys told me the fight lasted twenty minutes. The last I saw was Deering knocked out on the ground, and then my eyes closed, and the boys led me to my room. They swathed my eyes with raw beefsteaks and raw oysters, rubbed me down, and put me to bed. It was ten days before I got out; it was two weeks before Deering did. Then there was an investigation. It was shown that I took up a fight that Thorne commenced; that Thorne had gone for a gun in case I should get the worst of it. So Deering was reinstated, and Thorne and myself expelled. At the time I had a silver watch and four dollars in money. I sold the watch for fourteen dollars. I wrote the facts to my father, and told him I was going West, for he is a straight-laced Presbyterian; I knew he would feel eternally disgraced by my expulsion, and I did not want to hear his reproaches. Thorne wanted to give me money, but I told him I had plenty.
"I worked my way to Texas, and stopped one night at the house of a big cattle man named Thomas Jordan. I had just $1.50 left. He worked out of me my history, and when I explained why I was expelled from school, he laughed until he cried, and said: 'And yo' licked the coon!' and then went off again into a mighty fit of laughter.
"He was a man about thirty years of age, spare built, but wiry as an Indian. He had black hair and eyes; he was not educated, but was naturally a bright man; was brave as a lion; could ride like a Comanche; was a splendid shot, and had been West; took up a gold mine in Arizona, opened it, and sold it three years before I met him for $25,000, and with that bought the ranch and stock. He was originally from Tennessee; when a boy was in the Confederate army; had been knocked about until he was a perfect man of affairs, and the heart within him was simply just royal.
"Next morning, as we went out from breakfast, his vaqueros were trying to ride a vicious horse. He was a big buckskin stallion, six years old, and strong and fierce as a grizzly. The horse tossed three of them, one after the other, out of the saddle; neither one lasted a minute on his curved back. I was watching the performance when Jordan came up to me and, laughing, again said: 'But yo' licked the coon!'
"I said, 'Yes, but that was not much to brag about.'
"'Yo' licked the coon, but was afeerd to meet the governor, eh?' he said.
"I answered, 'That is about the size of it.'
"'And yo' did not go home?' he said.
"'No,' I replied.
"'Did not send for any money?'
"'How much did yo' have?'
"'Four dollars, and a watch which I sold for fourteen dollars.'
"'How much have yo' left?'
"'I believe, $1.50.'
"'What are yo' going to do?'
"'Going to work.'
"'Anything I can get to do.'
"'Will yo' work for me?'
"'Know anything about herding and driving cattle?'
"'No, but I can learn it.'
"'All right, what about wages?'
"'Anything you like.'
"'All right,' said Jordan, 'I will have the boys fix yo' up a gentle mustang and give yo' a show.'
"I had overheard the cowboys the previous evening telling about a 'gentle broncho' that they had given a 'tenderfoot,' and how the tenderfoot was 'jolted.' I reflected that I was in Texas and might just as well establish myself at once. When a boy, I could ride anything on the farm or in the township. So I said:
"'Mr. Jordan, let me try the buckskin.'
"'What!' said Jordan, 'would yo' mount that wild beast? He's a devil. My best riders cannot sit him. Indeed, he has tossed half the cowboys in Texas.'
"'Let me try him,' said I.
"'All right,' said Jordan, 'come on.'
"We climbed into the big corral. One of the boys threw a rope upon the horse, drew him up to the center post, blinded him, and said to me:
"'Young feller! If you ride him, you'll be a good one, shore 'nough.'
"I took off my coat, vest and suspenders, tied a heavy handkerchief around my stomach, fixed the saddle, sprang upon the horse, and the blind was drawn off at the same moment. Then for ten minutes I had a game as lively as I had experienced with the coon. How he did jolt me! But I sat him. Then, when all his other tricks had failed, he started in a run for the center post of the corral, with the intention of raking me off. But it was his side that struck the post; my knee was on top of the saddle, and when the rebound knocked him away from the post it was not a second until I was back in the saddle; and then I assumed the offensive and drove the rowels into him. Between the shock of the blow and the surprise of the rowels, he gave up, made a feeble jump or two, stopped and stood trembling.
"I dismounted, and the cowboys threw up their hats and cheered the 'tenderfoot.' Then I took down the reins of the hackamore (the Mexican Jaquema), bent the brute's head around, and tied him in a half circle to his own tail. Then, borrowing a cowboy's whip, I tapped him gently with it, and kept him turning and tumbling until he was covered with foam, and I saw he was completely subdued. Then I untied the rope, gave him his head, and then sprang again (without a blind this time) into the saddle. He moved off in a walk; then I trotted him, then put him in a gallop, and after circling the corral two or three times, reined him up to the cowboys, stopped him, and dismounted.
"'No wonder he licked the coon!' said Jordan.
"And one of the cowboys standing near said, 'Bet y'r boots!'
"I went to work and was a cowboy for a year, and it was a happy year, for I had no trouble and any number of friends. I could ride and shoot with any of them, and soon learned to throw a rope. My riding the big stallion gave me a mighty prestige, for I learned later that many had tried him and no one had kept the saddle for two minutes. He was my vaquero horse, and many a cowboy stopped and looked as I rode by.
"I had been with Jordan but a short time when one evening he brought a book and said:
"'Jim! look at this. A preacher-lookin' chap stopped over night har a year ago and went off in the mornin', and forgot ter take it. See if yo' don't think it's ther durndest stuff yo' ever seen!'
"I looked at the book. It was the Iliad, Pope's translation.
"'Why, Jordan,' I said, 'this is a wonderful book.' Then I briefly explained what the great epic was, who the Greeks and who the Trojans were, the cause of the war between them, how nations fought in those days, what gods they worshiped, and added, 'Let me read you a little of it.'
"'Why, in course,' said Jordan. 'If yo' ken make a blamed thing out er it, we'd all like to har it; wouldn't we, boys?'
"They all assented. I was just out of school and read pretty well.
"So I opened the volume at random and it happened to be in Book XVI., where Pelides consents that Patroclus shall put on his own armor and lead his Myrmidons into the fight, where Achilles arouses and sets in array his terrible warriors, has the steeds yoked and prays Dodonian Jove to give to his friend the victory, and then to grant him safe return. After reading ten minutes, I closed the book, and asked Jordan if I should read anymore.
"'Sarten,' he said. 'That war fine. It are like that mornin' at Murfreesborough when all thar bugles war callin' 'nd ther big guns war beginnin' ter roar.'
"Then I opened at the beginning and read right along for an hour. All the company were greatly excited, declaring 'it war fine.'
"I read to them every evening the winter through, read the Iliad entire, and in the meantime Jordan had sent to Galveston for more books, begging me to select them, and declaring he would fill the house with them if I would only 'steer his buyin' so as not by his purchases 'ter make a holy show' of himself.
"When finally the great annual round-up came, I held my own with the best riders, on trial I could draw and shoot with the quickest and surest shots, and could handle a rope fairly well. I enjoyed the life.
"Generally every one was my friend, but there was one rough customer, a man named Turner, who did not like me, though I had never done a thing in the world to offend him. He made his boasts that no one had ever 'got away' with him or ever would. He had a tough record and many people feared him, for he was a powerful man physically, and cruel in all his instincts.
"One day something was needed from the station, and I rode Buckskin down to get it. The station was a couple of miles from Jordan's house. Thirty or forty cowboys were there on a lark, and all had been drinking a little.
"They hailed me boisterously and wanted me to drink. I laughingly told them I never drank, and good-naturedly threatened to make it hot for the whole band if they did not behave themselves. I had neither coat nor vest on, and they could all see I had no weapons about me. They all laughed, for they were a jovial, good-hearted crowd.
"But just then this rough Turner showed up and said: 'Who is threatening to make it hot for us?'
"Half a dozen of the boys explained that I was only joking, but Turner was bent on mischief.
"'He won't drink with us, hey? Well, we'll drink with him,' he said, and turning to me ordered me to call up the crowd and treat, or tell the reason why.
"I replied that one reason was that I did not very often drink, and another was that I never drank on compulsion.
"He was frantic in a moment, and suddenly drew his revolver. I caught the barrel and turned it up just as he fired, then took it from him, handed it to one of the boys, and told him to keep it until Turner had time to reflect on what a fool he was making of himself.
"He was only the more furious at that. He sprang backward two or three feet, then drawing a huge knife made with it a savage lunge at me. I seized his wrist, and after a brief struggle wrenched the knife from his hand, but still holding his wrist told him that unless he grew quiet I should have to box his ears.
"The boys laughed and jeered at this, which only further incensed the ungovernable brute, and he declared that he would give $100 for the chance to whip me in a fair fist fight.
"At this I released his wrist and told him he should be accommodated. The boys gathered in a ring around us. Turner came at me like a wild beast, but he had no scientific use of his hands and I had had a little practice.
"I knocked aside his blow with my left, and with the open palm of my right hand gave him a sounding box on his left ear.
"The cowboys yelled with delight at this, crying, 'Turner, did you hear that?'
"Turner rallied and made another rush at me. This time I struck his blow aside with my right hand and boxed his right ear with the palm of my left hand.
"So the business continued for several seconds. I never closed my hands, but just boxed him right and left, the boys fairly screaming with joy, until I finally gathered all my strength and gave him one resounding cuff that sent him full length to grass, the most abject-looking, baffled bully that I ever saw.
"Seeing how completely whipped he was, I went to him, and taking him by the arm, said, 'Turner, you were right about my treating; come in and take a drink with me. There's nothing like exercise to make one thirsty.'
"But he would not drink. He arose, skulked away, got his gun and knife, mounted his mustang, and left that part of Texas.
"Next day the boys told Jordan about the scrap, and he danced for joy. He at once rode away to the station to get all the particulars, and when he returned at night he called me aside and said, 'Jim, yo' is thinkin' of leavin' har. We couldn't get along at all without yo'. I seen my lawyer ter-day and told him ter make a deed o' half this ranch 'nd stock ter Jim Sedgwick, and so thar firm now war "Tom and Jim" er "Jim and Tom," I don't give er continental which.'
"Of course I could not accept the gift, but it took me three days to satisfy the great-hearted man why I could not. I told him I was bound to go further West, that his heart had run away with his head, and he yielded at last, but insisted that the offer was a 'squar' one and would last always if I ever came back.
"When the year was up I had saved $212 at regular cowboy wages and would accept no more, though Jordan begged me to take 'sunthun decent.'
"I came West, learned a little of mining—how to hold and hit a drill—in Colorado, then took a run up into Montana, came down across Idaho and finally reached this place. Liking the ways of things here I went to work. I have not missed a dozen shifts in three years."
Browning chuckled at the story, and when Sedgwick ceased he said:
"Isn't it jolly queer that we have been thrown together? My home was in Devonshire, England. My step-father was a merchant who finally became a half banker and half broker. When I was a little kid my mother died, and my father after a while married a widow who had a little daughter five years younger than myself. My father died, and my stepmother married a man named Hamlin.
"When I became twenty-two years old, my step-father wanted me to marry this little girl. I declined, first, because she seemed to me a sister, and second, I was head and ears in love with the step-daughter of the village barrister. The girl was my sister's running mate, so to speak, and though I had never said one word of love to her, my heart was on the lowest level in the dust at her feet. It was, by Jove!
"In those days I was a bit wild, I guess. I did not get out of school with much honor. I used to ride steeple-chase and hurdle races and dance all night. Sometimes, too, I had a scrap, and was careless about the money I spent. The old barrister—his name was Jenvie—believed I was the worst kid in the United Kingdom. One evening Rose Jenvie—her real name was Leighton, she was my glory, you know—had been visiting my foster-sister, and remaining until after dark, I walked home with her. It was a starlit night in summer, and we talked as we walked as young people do. The gate to the path leading up to her house was open, and I continued to walk by her side until we were almost at the door, when the 'Governor' sprang up from a bench on the little lawn, where he had been sitting, and, rudely seizing his step-daughter by the arm, broke out with a torrent of insulting reproaches that she should dare to be walking alone at night by the side of the most worthless scapegrace in all England.
"The dear girl tried to explain that my part of the affair was merely an act of courtesy, but the old chap was hot, and that only made him rave the worse.
"I stood it a minute, and then said, 'Never mind, Miss Rose! You go within doors, please, and your governor will feel better when he has time to think.'
"At this he turned upon me, ordered me off the grounds, and added that if I did not go at once he would kick me over the hedge. Then I laughed and said: 'Oh, no, Mr. Jenvie, you certainly would not do that.'
"Something in my voice, I guess, vexed him, for he sprang at me like a Siberian wolf. He was a big, hearty fellow, about forty years old, and the blow he aimed at me would have felled a shorthorn. But I knocked it aside, as he made the rush, which swerved him a little to one side, and the opportunity was too good. Bless my soul! Before I thought, I planted him a stinger on the neck, and he went down like a felled ox. And he lay there for fully a minute. The beautiful girl never screamed or uttered a word, except, 'O, Jack, I hope you are not hurt!' She had never called me Jack before, and by Jove, it sounded sweeter to me than a wedding march. The old chap in a dazed way rose up on his hands. I saw he was coming out of it, and with a hasty 'Good night, Miss Rose,' I got out of the way. I went home and told my governor the whole story, and wasn't he mad! Jenvie was his closest friend, you know, and so he ordered me to go and apologize to the old barrister. I told him flatly I would not. Then he ordered me out of the house, and, first bidding mother and sister Grace good-bye, I left. I had four pounds six, and with it I went down to an old aunt's of mine in Cornwall. After three days there I met some miners, had a night with them, which ended by their initiating me into their clan. Next morning, thinking it over, my better self asserted itself, and the whim took me to learn the mining business.
"I worked a year, and when off shift I read all the books on geology and mining that I could find; I found a pamphlet telling me all about this lode and its possibilities. I had worked steadily and had saved money enough to pay my way here; I came, and went to work the second day after arriving on the lode."
"What are your plans, Browning?" asked Sedgwick.
"I have no certain plans," was the answer. "I have just lived on an impossible dream, you know, of making L5,000, then going back, and if Rose Jenvie is not married to try to steal her away. If I could make a good bit of money I would buy a place, a big tract of downs in Devonshire. I could, by draining it and running it my way, make it double in value in three years."
"And I," said Sedgwick, "have been nursing just such another dream, which is to make $30,000 to go back and cancel the mortgage of $5,000 on the old home place, and then to buy old Jasper's farm on the hill. It is a daisy. It contains 300 acres and is worth $40 an acre. If I could do that, I believe I could reconcile the old gent, and make him think I was not so mightily out of the way after all when I fought at college and ran away. But $30,000—good Lord! when will a man get $30,000 working for $4 a day on the Comstock?"
"It is a close, hard game," said Browning. Then there was silence, the candle burned out, and in a moment more both miners were asleep.
MAKING MONEY AT $4 PER DAY.
The men awoke early, and, as Sedgwick had predicted, by six o'clock, the superintendent of the mine came down and went to the end of the drift. On his return to the lower station of the shaft, Sedgwick approached him, and holding out the bit of lagging, said in a low voice: "Mr. Mackay, there are a few words written on that. Will you not kindly carry them to the surface and read them?" Mr. Mackay took it and put it in the pocket of the gray shirt which he always wore in the mine, saying jokingly: "Tobacco needed on your watch?" "Worse, even," answered Sedgwick, and walked away.
When the men were allowed to go above ground, five days later, they found that Consolidated Virginia had jumped from $4 to $11 per share. Sedgwick and Browning went straight to the bank and asked how their accounts stood. They found that $2,800 from one credit, and $3,200 from the other had been withdrawn. They looked at each other and smiled, but said nothing. Passing outside, they exchanged opinions and both concluded that if Mackay had bought the stock promptly, it must have doubled already. But both agreed that they would say nothing; rather, would let matters drift. So days and weeks rolled by, until finally the stock touched $30 per share, when one morning each received a note to call at the bank.
They went together, and were informed that 2,000 (old) shares of Consolidated Virginia had been placed to their credit, and that it was at their discretion to realize upon it, or permit it to remain longer. The news fairly took their breath away.
"How about making $30,000 at $4 per day, Jim?" said Browning.
"How about L5,000, the old barrister's step-daughter, and the downs in Devonshire, Jack?" said Sedgwick.
They went to their room in the lodging house to talk over what was best to do.
"When we sell," said Sedgwick, "I am going to Ohio."
"And I to old England," said Browning.
"And how can we give any expression of our gratitude to John Mackay?" asked Sedgwick.
"Let us go down and tender him half our stock," said Browning.
"A good thought," said Sedgwick. So down to the Consolidated Virginia office they went at once. They gained an instant interview with Mr. Mackay, and, thanking him warmly, told him they had thought it over, and determined that he was entitled to half their shares.
"That's clever of you, boys," said Mackay, "but that is too big a commission. How much did you say the order on the splinter had brought you?"
Sedgwick replied that they had 2,000 shares, and that the stock was selling at $30 on a rising market.
"Well," answered Mackay, "that will be $10 for one, will it not?"
They answered, "Yes."
The Bonanza King thought for a moment, and then said: "It is this way, boys. I have been picking up a few shares of the stock on my own account lately, and do not need any ready money at present, but there are a good many sick and bruised miners down in the hospital. If, when you sell, you can see your way clear to send them down a few dollars, that will do more good than to divide with me, for I would be liable to lose the money any day in these crazy stocks."
They thanked him with swimming eyes and broken voices, and started to retire, when he called them back, and said: "I bought that stock because I noticed that you were not just like some of the others down in the mine, and I knew if the money should be lost you would neither of you reproach me. But I called you back to tell you that while I do not think there is any hurry about selling your stocks, dealing in mining shares is a risky business, as a rule, especially when you have nothing but a guess to go on; and I do not believe I would, if in your places, take that up for a business."
Then some one else came in, and the miners retired.
They determined not to sell just then, and both went back to work at 4 in the afternoon of that day.
The young men continued their daily toil. After the stock reached $35 per share, it hung at that figure for a long time, but they felt no uneasiness. They saw the hurry of the work in opening the Consolidated Virginia and the C. & C. shafts; they saw a new great quartz mill being erected, but they saw something else which pleased them much more, which was that the more the great ore body was sunk and drifted upon, the bigger it grew. In the early winter of 1874-5, the stock began to climb up. It jumped to $80, then $85; then, almost in a day, to $115, and so on up to $220. The strain on the minds of the two young miners was very great, but they held on. There was another little lull, and then towards spring it started up again.
When it reached $480, Browning said to Sedgwick: "Bless my soul, Jim, I have not slept for three nights. I have been thinking that hundreds of people have been waiting for the stock to touch $500, and when it does, they will unload and break it down. Had we not better sell? It will give us as much money as we can manage."
"I guess you are right, Jack" said Sedgwick. "I believe it will still go a good deal higher, but if it does, let those who buy our stocks make it. As you said, it will bring us as much money as we can manage. It takes a brave man to sell on a rising market. Let us be brave."
So they gave the order for the sale of the stock, but that day it jumped to $520, and when the returns were made, they found to their credit, $1,040,000. The stock touched $900 per share a few days later.
The result well-nigh paralyzed them. "At $4 per day, this is not bad, Browning," said Sedgwick.
"This secures the hill farm of old Jasper—three hundred acres at forty dollars per acre—does it not, Sedgwick?" said Browning.
They ordered $10,000 to be placed to the credit of the hospitals and bought exchange on New York and London for $1,000,000. The rest they took with them in money.
In dividing there was a little dispute. Browning insisted that he was entitled to only forty-six and two-thirds per cent. of the amount, as his money was as seven to eight of Jim's.
"Why will you bother me with those vulgar fractions, Browning? Try to be a gentleman," said Sedgwick. "We share alike on this business, remember that; and say what a country this is to get rich in at four dollars a day!"
So it was settled. Their friends were told they had made a little stake, and were going home; the good-byes were spoken, and the young men turned their faces eastward.
SMILES AND TEARS.
While riding through Nevada, Browning, after a long look from the car window, said:
"By Jove, Jim, but is not this a desolate region? It is as though when the rocky foundation had been laid, there was no more material to furnish this part of the world with, and the work stopped."
"Yes, Jack," was Sedgwick's answer. "I knew an old man once. He was very aged and most decrepit. His face was but a mass of wrinkles; his back was bent; he always wore a frown on his face, and every relative he had wished that he was dead. But his bank account was a mighty one; he had given grand homes and plenty of money to each of his six children; he still possessed a fortune so large that his neighbors could not estimate it. I never look out upon the face of Nevada that I do not think of that old man.
"The fairest structures in San Francisco were built of the treasures taken from Nevada hills; clear across the continent, in every great city are beautiful blocks which are but Nevada gold and silver converted into stone and iron and glass; in every State are fair homes which were bought or redeemed with the money obtained here in the desert. Beyond that, the money already supplied from Nevada mines has changed the calculations of commerce, and made itself a ruling factor in prices; it has given our nation a new standing among the nations of the world; because of it, the lands are worth more money even in the Miami Valley where I was born; because of it, better wages are paid to laborers throughout our republic; it has been a factor of good, a blessing to civilization; and yet Eastern people revile Nevada and look upon it as did the relatives of the old man I was telling you of, because it is wrinkled and sere and always wears a frowning face."
As Sedgwick and Browning neared Chicago, the former began to grow restless, and finally said:
"Jack, old friend, you must go home with me. It is something I dread more than riding mustangs or fighting cowboys. It is more than five years since I went away, and it will be just worse than a fire in a mine to face."
Browning agreed that a few days more or less would not count. "Because," he said, "if Rose Jenvie is still Rose Jenvie, it will not much matter; if Rose Jenvie is not Rose Jenvie, then, by Jove, every minute of delay in knowing that fact is good. Besides, you know, I want to see that three-hundred-acre farm of old Jasper's on the hill which you are to buy."
They remained a few hours only in Chicago, and took the evening train for the valley of the Miami. The next morning, about seven o'clock, they left the cars at a little village station, and started on foot for the old home of Sedgwick, a mile away.
"Browning," said Sedgwick, "it was mighty kind of you to come with me. I ran bare-footed over this road every summer day of my boyhood. In that old school-house I could show you notches which I cut in the tables and benches, and it seems now as though I was choking." They came to the old churchyard. "Hold, Jack," said Sedgwick, "let us go in here and look to see if any more graves have been added since I went away."
They climbed the fence, and Sedgwick led the way to a plot of ground where there were three headstones. "Thank God, there are no new graves," he said. "This was my sister; this, my baby brother, and this, my mother," pointing to the names on the headstones. "Had my mother been alive, I would long ago have come back."
Then, with more calmness, he turned his steps back to the road, but he was shaking in every limb when he opened the old gate and walked up toward the house. The path was lined with lilacs in full bloom, and a robin in a tree near by was calling her mate. "The same old lilacs, the same old redbreast, Browning," he said, with white lips.
He did not stop to knock, but pushed the door suddenly open and strode within. Walking up to an old man, who was reading his Bible, he said, "Father, I am sorry that I fought the mulatto, if it grieved you, but the black rascal deserved it, all the same."
The old man surveyed him wildly for a moment, then broke completely down, and, wringing the young man's hands, could only sob:
"Thank God, my son, whom I thought was lost, is back again. Thank God!"
Then the brothers and their wives and children came in, and there was such a scene that Browning slipped out, seated himself on the piazza, and mopping his brow with his kerchief, said, "Bless my soul; I believe I will never go home. There is more real enjoyment at a miner's funeral in Virginia City; there is, by Jove."
But they found him after a little, and Sedgwick presented him to his kinfolk as his close companion, and he was welcomed in a way which touched him deeply, and made him conclude that the world was filled with good people.
Soon the news spread, and the neighbors began to pour in, and what a day it was! What old memories were awakened and rehearsed; what every one had done; who had died; who had married; all the history of the little place for all the years.
Going home after a long absence is a little like what one might imagine of a resurrection from the dead. There is exceeding joy, but mingled with it is much of the damp and chill of the tomb. Indeed, going home after a long absence "causes all the burial places of memory to give up their dead," and through all the joy there is an undertone of sorrow, for all the reminders are of the fact that the calmest lives are speedily sweeping on; that there is no halting in the swift transit between birth and death.
Three days passed, and notwithstanding the enjoyment, Sedgwick found that there was a good deal of trouble worrying the family. The old mortgage of $5,000 was not paid; rather, it had been doubled to make a first payment on a 200-acre farm adjoining, and with fitting up and stocking the old place, and with bad crops, the debts amounted altogether to more than $20,000. He did not tell any one of his good fortune. He was dressed in a plain business suit, without a single ornament. The watch he carried for convenience was merely a cheap silver watch.
On the fourth day, Browning said to his friend: "Jim, old pard, I must be off to-morrow. You have had a good visit. Come over to England with me for a month, and help me through with—Rose and the old man."
"Agreed, Jack," said Sedgwick. "I want to fix up some little things here, and I do not want to be around when the fixing shall be understood. It will be a good excuse to get away."
Then going to a desk, he wrote a few words, took a bill of exchange for $100,000 from his pocketbook, endorsed it, making it payable to his father, folded the bill inside the letter, sealed it and directed it to his father; then putting the letter in his pocket, said, "That will make it all right."
At supper that evening he informed the family that he was going on the early train with his friend and might be gone a month or six weeks, after which he believed he would return, settle down and become steady. All tried to dissuade him, but Browning helped him, telling the family he needed his friend's help on serious business; and so that night the kindling was put in the kitchen stove, the dough for biscuits for breakfast was set, the tea-kettle filled, the chickens fixed for frying, and the coffee ground.
It was but a little after daylight next morning when, the breakfast over, they were ready to start. They shook hands all round, and when it came to saying good-bye to his father, Sedgwick drew out the letter, and giving it to the old man, said: "Father, when you hear the train pull out of the village, open that letter. It contains a little keepsake for you which I picked up by a scratch in Nevada." And they were off.
When that letter was opened, and the astounding figures on the bill were read and comprehended, what a time there was at that house, and how the neighbors came again to see the wonderful paper, and how it was figured how many farms it would buy, what houses it would build and furnish, and how the boy who had been expelled from school for fighting had done it all! What a smashing of old theories it made, and how every wild boy in the neighborhood to whom the evil example of the bad Sedgwick boy had been held up as an illustration of total depravity and as proof that nothing of good ever came to a youth that would fight and get expelled from school, rejoiced! To these, what a day of exultation that bill of exchange brought!
But it was only a day, before there began to circulate rumors that the whole thing was but a joke; that the bill would be repudiated when presented for payment, or at most that it was only for $1,000.
Sedgwick, pere, with his sons, lost no time in testing the matter. Sedgwick had written in the letter that though the bill was drawn on New York, any bank in Cincinnati would cash it. So they repaired to the city, and calling on their lawyer, asked him to go with them and identify them at some bank, as they desired to get a little check cashed. He complied.
The cashier looked at the bill and asked in what kind of money the payment was wanted.
The old man thought he would give his neighbors an object lesson, and replied that he would take it in gold.
The cashier smiled and asked him how he would take it away.
The old man said, "I do not understand you."
"It will, in gold, weigh about 400 pounds," said the cashier.
At this the lawyer became interested in a moment and said: "Four hundred pounds of gold! What kind of a check have you?"
"It is a bill of exchange on New York for $100,000," said the cashier.
"One hundred thousand dollars!" said the lawyer; "Great heavens! have you found an oil well on your farm, robbed a bank, or what?"
"No," said the elder Sedgwick, "but my wild boy has come from Nevada, and I guess this is a part of the great bonanza."
Finally $25,000 was drawn in paper, enough to clear up all the home indebtedness, and the rest left on deposit until the son and brother should return; for, as they talked it all over, they concluded that he had left with them all his fortune, except traveling expenses.
Browning and Sedgwick reached New York and took passage on the first outgoing Cunarder. When the ship steamed out of the harbor, it entered at once into a lively sea, and the great craft grew strangely unsteady. Browning was a good sailor, but Sedgwick found it was all he could do to maintain his equanimity. "Jack," he said at last, "this is worse exercise then riding a Texas steer." "Did you ever ride a Texas steer?" asked Browning. "Indeed I have," said Sedgwick. "The cowboys have a game of that kind. When a lot of steers are corraled, they climb up on the cross-bar over the gate; the gate is opened, the steers are turned out with a rush, and the science is to drop from the cross-bar upon a steer and ride him. If you miss, you are liable to be trodden to death. If you strike fairly, then the trick is to see how long you can hold on. It is rough exercise, but I believe it is preferable to this perpetual rising, falling and rolling. The infernal thing seems to work like an Ingersoll drill. It turns a quarter of a circle on one's stomach with every blow it strikes."
They had sailed into an expiring storm that was fast losing its strength; the waves were breaking down, and by the time night came on the ship was running nearly on an even keel, only gently rolling as it swept magnificently on its voyage.
The two miners walked the deck, or sat by the rail, until far into the night, admiring the glorified structure on which they rode; watching the stars and the sea, and saw with other things the beautiful spectacle of another ship as grand as their own, that swept close by them on its way to New York. Its whole 500 feet of length was a blaze of light, and as the Titans whistled hoarsely to each other a greeting without abating their speed, it seemed to the two landsmen as though two stars had met in space, saluted and passed on, each in its own sublime orbit.
Sedgwick and Browning soon made the acquaintance of several passengers. A day or two later an animated conversation sprang up in the smoking room. An American was declaring that his country was the greatest on earth because it could feed the world from its mighty food area.
An Englishman disputed the claim, because the profits of the manufacturers of little England were more than all the profits from all the lands of the United States.
A Frenchman claimed the palm for France, because in France the people were artists; from a little basis, from material well-nigh worthless in itself, the Frenchman could, by infusing French brain into it, create a thing of beauty for which the world was glad to exchange gold and gems.
Then Browning said: "You are all right, looking from a present horizon; all wrong, when the years are taken into account. The great country of the world is to be the country that produces the metals in the greatest quantity and variety, and whose people acquire the art of turning them to the best account. This ship that we are on, a few months ago, was but unsightly ore in the ground. Look at it now! Tried by fire and fused with labor, it has grown into this marvelous structure. England's greatness and wealth are due, primarily, all to her mining. Her civilization can be measured by her progress in reducing metals. She will begin to fall behind soon, for America has, in addition to such mines as England possesses, endless mines of gold and silver, and, after all, the precious metals rule the nations and measure their civilization. It has always been so and always will be. Those mines in America will build up greater manufactures than England possesses; they will create artists more skilled than even beautiful France can boast of. A hundred years hence, all other nations will be second-class by comparison."
The next day the conversation was resumed and carried on with much spirit, until Sedgwick, who had been reading through it all, laid down his book, and in a brief pause of the talk said:
"Neither fruitful fields, rich mines, nor skilled artisans, nor all combined, are enough to make great nations. A hundred nations existed when Rome was founded. They had as fair prospects as did Rome, but ninety of the hundred are forgotten; the other ten are remembered but as inferior nations. It was the stock of men and women that made Rome's grandeur and terror. For five hundred years an unfaithful wife was never known in Rome. The result was Rome had to be great and grand.
"I stood once on the crest of the Rocky Mountains in Montana. Near together were two springs, out of each of which the water flowed away in a creek. One follows the mountains down to the eastward, the other to the west. One finds its final home in the Gulf of Mexico, the other in the Pacific. The one takes on other streams, its volume steadily swells; before it flows far its channel is hewed through fertile fields; gaining in power, the argosies of commerce find a home upon its broad bosom, and it is a recognized power in the world, a mighty factor in the calculations of merchants and shippers.
"But in the meantime it becomes tainted, until at last when it finds its grave in the Gulf, so foul are its waters that they discolor for miles the deep blue of the sea.
"The other starts with a babble as joyous as the carols of childhood; when it reaches the valley it begins its struggle through a lava-blasted desert; when the desert is passed, it has to grind its channel through rugged mountains that tear its waters into foam, and at last in mighty throes, on the stormy bar it finds its grave in the roaring ocean. Its existence is one long, mighty struggle; there are awful chasms in its path into which it is hurled; the thirsty desert encroaches upon its current; mountains block its way; at the very last furious seas seek to beat it back, but to the end it holds itself pure as when it starts on its way from the mountain spring.
"These rivers are typical of men and of nations. Some meet no obstruction; they glide on, gaining in wealth and power; at last, they become in one way a blessing, in another a terror; but in the meantime, they grow corrupt because of the world's contact; and so pass, gross and discolored, into eternity.
"Others have lives that are one long struggle unheard-of obstacles are ever rising in their paths, but they fight on and on, and when at last their course is run, those who trace them through their careers, with uncovered heads are bound to say that they kept their integrity to the last, and that all the world's discouragements could not disarm their power, break their courage, or dim the clear mirror of their purity."
Sedgwick ceased speaking, but after a moment, looking up, he added: "Not very far from the sources of these two streams, there is another fountain in the hills, out of which flows another stream as large and fair as either of the others. It, too, goes tumbling down the mountain gorge, increasing in volume, until it strikes the valley, then grows less and less in size, until a few miles below it disappears in the sands.
"This, too, is typical of men and nations. They begin life buoyant and brave; they rush on exultingly at first, but the quicksands of vice or crime or disease are before them, and they sink and leave no name.
"The man or nation that is to be great must be born great. Those who succeed are those who are guided into channels which make success possible.
"The strength of the modern world rests on the modern home. That did not come of rich mines or fields, but of the sovereign genius of the men of northern Europe; and the glory was worked out amid poverty, hardships and sorrows."
But the voyage was over at last, and the two miners hastened to take the train for the home of Browning in Devonshire. They arrived at the village at midnight and went to a hotel, or, as Sedgwick said: "This, Jack, is han Hinglish Hinn, is it?"
Next day was Sunday and Browning was up early. He said to Sedgwick: "Wait until I go and prospect the croppings about here a little. It is a good while since I was on this lead, and I want to see how it has been worked since I went away."
He came back in half an hour a good deal worked up. "Do you know, Jim," he said, "by Jove, they are all gone! That old step-father has 'gone pards with old Jenvie, and they have all moved to London, and are running a banking and brokerage establishment. I have their address and we will chase them up to-morrow, but I do not like the look of things at all. Why, Rose Jenvie in one season in London would blossom out and shine like a gold bar."
"Stuff," answered Sedgwick. "In Texas we always noticed that if we ever turned out a blood mare she was sure to pick up the sorriest old mustang on the range for a running mate. Your Rose would be more apt to pick up a husband here than in London for the first two or three years she might be there."
Said Browning: "I say, Jim, did you mean that mustang story to go for an excuse for Miss Rose calling me 'Jack?'"
"O, no!" said Sedgwick, "when she called you Jack, she was just a silly colt that could not discriminate."
"I see," said Browning, "but I say, Jim, you ought to have been here then. By Jove, she might have even fancied you."
"Don't you dare to talk that way," said Sedgwick, "or I will try to cut you out when we see her, unless, as is quite possible, she has already been some happy man's wife for two or three years."
"Jim, I say, stop that!" said Browning. "It will be time to face that infernal possibility when I cannot help it. Bless my soul, but the thought of it makes me sea-sick."
They breakfasted together, and were smoking their after-breakfast cigars—Nevada-like—when the church bells began to ring.
"When did you attend church last, Browning?" asked Sedgwick.
"I have been a good deal remiss in that," was the reply.
"Suppose we go. It will be a novelty, and you will see more friends there than in any other place."
"A good thought, old boy," said Browning, "and we shall have time only to dress."
A few minutes later they emerged from the hotel, and proceeded to the old church that Browning had attended during all his childhood.
Queerly enough, the sermon was on the return of the Prodigal Son. The good clergyman dilated on his theme. He told what a tough citizen the Prodigal Son was in his youth, how he was given to boating and steeple-chasing, and staying out nights and worrying the old father, until finally he ran away. "Photographing you, Jack," whispered Sedgwick. When he came to the part where the Prodigal ate the husks, Sedgwick whispered again: "He means the hash in that restaurant on the Divide, Jack."
Then the picture of the joy of the father on the return of this son, and the moral which the parable teaches, were graphically given. At last the service was over, and as the congregation filed out there was a general rush for Browning, for the whole congregation recognized him, though the almost beardless boy that went away had returned in the full flush of manhood. He was overwhelmed with greetings and congratulations over his safe return, and as Sedgwick was introduced as Browning's friend the welcomes to him were most cordial, though there was many a glance at the fashionably-cut clothing of the young men.
The people were all in Sunday attire, many of the ladies wearing gay colors. The day was warm and sunny and they lingered on the green, talking joyously, when suddenly a cry of terror arose, and looking, the young men saw a two-year old Hereford bull coming at full speed at the crowd, and with the evident intention of charging direct into it. Every one was paralyzed; that is, all but one. That one was Sedgwick. Near him was a woman who had a long red scarf doubled and flung carelessly over her shoulder. In an instant Sedgwick had thrown off his coat, snatched the scarf from the woman and dashed out of the crowd directly toward the coming terror. He shouted and shook the scarf, and the bull, seeing it, rushed directly for it. As he struck the scarf, like a flash Sedgwick caught the ring in the bull's nose with his left hand, the left horn in his right hand, and twisting the ring and giving a mighty wrench on the horn, both man and bull went prone upon the turf. But the man was above and the bull below, and clinging to ring and horn and with knee on the bull's throat, Sedgwick bent all his might upon the brute's head and held him down.
Browning was at his side in a moment, and at Sedgwick's muffled cry to tie his forelegs, Browning seized the scarf, lashed the bull's legs together, and then both men arose.
Securing his coat quickly, Sedgwick seized Browning's arm, and said, "Let us get out of this, old man. You told me this was a bully place, but I did not look for it quite in that form."
"Where did you learn that trick?" asked Browning.
"In Texas," said Sedgwick. "It is a game we play with yearlings there, but we never try it on an old stager, because, you see, if one should fall he would be in the sump, or in a drift where the air would be bad in a minute. That was a big fellow, but he had a ring in his nose, which made me the more sure of him, and then you see there was nothing else to do. I will go to no more churches in England with you without carrying a lariat and revolver."
"It was a good job, Jack," said Browning; "by Jove, it was. I am sorry it happened, but I am glad you did it. I don't believe I could have managed it any better myself."
The feat was the talk of the town, and it grew in size with every repetition, and in the next day's paper it was magnified beyond all proportions. Fortunately, the printers got both the names of Browning and Sedgwick spelled wrong, which was all the comfort the young men had out of it.
On Monday morning the friends went out in the country and looked over the estate that Browning had been hoping to make money enough to purchase. Browning explained his plans for improving it, and the address of the owner in London was obtained.
In the evening they took the train for London. The landlord had had a great night and day because of callers on Browning and his friend, and would take nothing of his guests except a five-pound note to hand to the woman from whose shoulder Sedgwick had caught the scarf.
It was in the gray of the morning when they entered the mighty city by the Thames. They sought a hotel, where they breakfasted; then waiting until business men had gone to their work, they called a carriage and drove to the home of Browning's step-father.
It was Browning's turn now to tremble and perspire. "Bless my soul, Jim!" said he, "no drift on the Comstock was ever half so hot as this, never, by Jove!"
They were admitted and shown to the parlor. Browning asked for Mrs. and Miss Hamlin, and bade the servant say some friends desired to see them.
Who can picture the joy that followed the coming of those ladies into the room! It is better to imagine it.
After an hour had passed, and the tears had dried, and the tremblings ceased a little, Browning's sister drew him a little aside and asked him why he did not inquire about some one else.
"Because," said he, "I dare not."
"Well," said the dear girl, "she is due here even now. If you will go into the library I will meet her, tell her mother has a caller, and propose that we go to the library. When we get there I will lose myself for your sake, and, like the famous witches, 'dissolve into thin air.'"
"She is not married?" asked Browning.
"No," replied his sister.
"Heart whole?" Browning queried.
"How should I know?" answered his sister; "but there is the door-bell. Hurry Jack! This way to the library!"
Rose Jenvie came in. Grace met and greeted her in the hall.
"Why, Grace," said Rose, "you have been crying. What is wrong, dear?"
"Nothing is wrong," said Grace, "nothing at all, and I have not been crying." And all the time the tears were running down her cheeks.
"Why," exclaimed Rose, "what in the world is the matter? What has so upset you this morning?"
"I tell you, nothing," answered Grace. "Mamma has a caller in the parlor; let us go to the library."
Reaching the door, Grace opened it for Rose, and then said, pettishly, "There! I have forgotten a letter I wish to show you; go in, and I will be back directly."
Rose naturally walked in, when Grace closed the door behind her, turned the key noiselessly and fled.
The curtains were half drawn, the day was cloudy, and Rose advanced two or three steps into the room before she discovered another occupant. That occupant rose as she stopped. She saw a manly fellow with hair cut short and full mustache. He saw a woman a little above the medium height, with hazel eyes, full and proud, a fair, clear-cut face, a slight but perfectly developed form, and the face wore a look which it seemed to him was sad, despite its beauty, as though some thought within made a shadow on the fair young life.
The young man gazed a moment, then raising and opening his arms, in a voice that shook perceptibly, said, "Rose!"
She gazed a moment, then with a joyous cry of "O, Jack!" sprang into the outstretched arms, and for the first time in their lives their lips met.
There were tears in Jack's eyes; the tears were raining down Rose's face, and both were shaking as with a burning ague. Browning sank upon a sofa, still clasping the fair girl in his strong arms, and seating her beside him.
"O, Rose," he said, "I have dreamed of this meeting ever since I left you, by sea and land, under the sunshine, in the deep mine's depths, by day and night. I love you, I do not know when I did not love you; I have come for you, will you be my wife?"
Then Rose said: "You went away without a good-bye or any message. You never wrote. You have been gone more than four years." But with a smile which was enchantment to Jack, she added: "If I could have found any one to marry me, I would have shown you, but no one would, because when I was young I kept such bad company."
Then how they did talk! Jack repeated all the old inaccuracies which lovers have called up since the Stone Age, the burden of which was that the memory of her face had been his light in the darkest mine; the memory of her voice had been the music for which his soul had been listening for years.
And Rose told the enraptured young man how hard her lot had been to conceal a love which she had no right to own, because it had never been asked; how hard it had been for her to simulate contentment and cheerfulness, but after all how it had been her comfort and support, because she had never doubted that he would come back.
Then Jack, between kisses, told his charmer that he had worked every day for years; that he had gathered up quite a many good pounds; that if she would be his wife, if nothing could be done in England, they would bid England good-bye and make their home beyond the sea. And she consented, adding: "If you have to run away again, see that you do not go alone. You were always so wild that from the first you have needed some careful person to look after you."
An hour later, Grace came, unlocked the door, and found the happy pair arm-in-arm walking up and down the room. Going up to them, and looking into their faces, she said:
"Why, Rose, you have been crying; what is wrong, dear?"
"Nothing is wrong," she answered, "nothing is wrong, and I have not been crying; have I, Jack? But, Grace, was it fair to give me no hint, and thus permit Jack to surprise me into giving away something that I ought to have kept him on the rack for a month at least about before conferring?"
Grace smiled and said: "Are you quite satisfied, Jack?"
"Quite," he replied.
"And are you as happy as you deserve to be, Rose?"
"Oh, Grace," said Rose, and then the two young women both cried and embraced each other until Jack gently separated them, and said: "Come, we must find Jim. Jim is my friend. His judgment is perfect, and I must submit this business to him."
"Mr. Sedgwick has gone back to the hotel," said Grace, and a serious look was in her eyes as she spoke. But in a moment she smiled and said: "When I told him where you were and who was with you, he laughed and said: 'It is liable to be a case of working after hours. When the young lady succeeds in extricating herself, tell Jack, please, that I have gone out to take in London, and will see him at the hotel when he finds time to call.'"
"And who is Mr. Sedgwick?" asked Rose.
"The best and noblest man in all this world," replied Jack.
"Oh, Jack!" said Rose.
"It is true, all the same, my sorceress," said Browning. "I have seen him tested. He has been my close companion for lo! these many months."
"I am jealous of him," said Rose. "But why did he run away? I want to know all your friends."
"I suspect the truth is he left out of consideration for you and myself," said Browning. "He knew how I felt, and he hoped I would not be disappointed, and I suspect he thought the sacredness of our joy ought not to be disturbed."
"Very fine, of course," said Grace; "very thoughtful and considerate, but why did he not stop to ask himself if it was quite fair to leave me all alone."
"You are right, Gracie," said Browning, "and this act of his shows an absence of mind on his part that I did not expect."
Then all laughed, but Grace blushed a little while she laughed.
Then Mrs. Hamlin came in. She warmly congratulated the happy pair.
They strolled into the sitting-room, and soon after the mail was brought in. The first things the girls seized upon were the papers from Devonshire, for they were like other people. Men and women live in a place for years, and daily express the belief that the home paper is the worst specimen they ever saw, but let one of them absent himself or herself for a week, and the same newspaper from the old home is the one thing they want above all others. Glancing over the paper, Grace suddenly looked up and said: "Why, they had a wonderfully exciting episode down in —— on Sunday last." She had come upon the account of the exploit with the bull, and read it aloud.
The names being misspelled, she never suspected the real facts.
"That was a brave man," she said, when she had finished. "It must have been splendid. I wish I could have seen it. How it must have astonished those villagers. I would like to kiss the man who performed that feat."
"Would you?" said Jack laughingly. "I will tell him so when I meet him."
"Please do," said Grace. "He must have been a grand matador from Spain," and springing up, she caught a tidy from the furniture, danced around the room with it, holding it in both hands as though bating an angry bull, and suddenly dropping it, made a grab for an imaginary ring and horn, and twisting both wrists quickly, cried out: "Did I not down his highness beautifully?"
"Beautifully," said Browning, "and when I meet the man I will tell him of your vivid imitation."
"And don't forget to tell him I would like to kiss him," said Grace, laughing.
"Maybe I can fix it so you can tell him yourself, Grace."
"Do you know him, Jack?" asked Rose.
Jack smiled and said, "Perhaps."
"What do you mean, Jack?" asked Grace.
"I know the man, Grace; and so do you," said Jack.
"True?" asked Grace.
"True," said Jack.
"I know him?" asked Grace. "Why, who is there in —— that would do anything like that?"
"No one that I know of," said Jack. "But you have forgotten a somewhat diffident and reserved young man with whom you were conversing in the parlor an hour ago?"
Grace grew pale, and sank into a seat. "O, Jack, you don't mean—?"
"Yes," he said, interrupting her, "it was Sedgwick, and it was splendidly done, too. It was, by Jove!"
"Honest?" asked Grace.
"Honest, and I will deliver your message."
Blushing scarlet, Grace sprang up and began to plead.
Browning would promise nothing except that he might possibly put the matter off a little while. "But," he added, "I believe Jim would give more to see your imitation than you would to see the original performance repeated without change of scene."
"Were you not sharp, Jack, to get me to commit myself before ever gaining a glimpse of this wonderful man?" asked Rose.
"Indeed, was," he replied. "Why, I recall now that once when we were having a friendly dispute, he threatened that unless I came to his terms he would come over here, search you out, and try to steal you away from me."
"But then he had not seen me," said Grace, mockingly.
All laughed at that. Rose spoke first and said: "But, if he is your close friend, and has come to England with you, why does he go back to the hotel?"
Browning smiled and said, "Why, child, save for three days in his own father's house, he has been under no gentleman's private roof for years. He does not know our English methods. And that makes me think; I, too, must go. My own tenure here was a little uncertain, when I went away, and now I, too, am going to the hotel. When my father comes, Grace, you may tell him I have been here, that I called, but that I am staying at the —— Hotel. If he comes and calls upon me, I shall be glad to see him; if he does not, why, to-morrow at ten, if you girls will have your hats and wraps on, I think Jim and myself will be glad to engage you for a drive. Jim has not been forbidden the premises, and he can call for you while I wait outside."
No persuasion would make him remain. Putting his arm around Rose, he drew her to him, and said: "We will give the old folks a chance to do the fair thing; if they will not, what then, little one?"
"Henceforth," she answered, gravely, but low and sweet, "your home is to be my home, your God my God." Then she bent and touched his hand with her lips, and he wended his way back to find Sedgwick.
A DINNER PARTY.
And Sedgwick, what of him? He had gone, as he said, "to see Jack through, as Jack had stood by him in Ohio," but when Grace Hamlin—or Grace Meredith, which was her real name—at their summons entered the parlor he was transfixed. Just medium height was she, slight but perfect in form, with darkish-brown eyes and clear-cut features, a golden chestnut curly mass of hair, the hand of a queen, and the hand-clasp of a sincere, true and happy woman. And poor Jim was lost in a moment.
He called up all his self-possession, and did the best he could, but he seized the first opportunity to get away where he could think. Once outside the house, he hailed a cab, told the driver to jog around for an hour or two, and then land him at the —— Hotel. Once started, he settled back and began to cross-question himself, and to moralize over the situation.
"I have seen prettier girls than this one, seen them in Ohio, in Texas, in Virginia City, and they never gave me an extra heart-beat. What is the matter with me now? When that girl smiled up in my face, welcomed me as her brother's friend, and told me she was glad I had come with him, all the clutches broke off my cage, and I thought I would in a moment bring up in the sump below the 1,700 foot level, smashed so they would have to sew the pieces up in canvas to bring me to the surface. It is a clear case that I am gone, and what the mischief am I going to do? Suppose I brace up and try to win her, and fail, then I shall be done for sure enough. The old world so far has had no particular attractions for me, and were I to ask her to look at me, and she, like a sensible woman that she is, should first look surprised at my assurance, and then respectfully decline, what would there be left for me? Suppose again, I could fool her into accepting, then what? I, a rough Nevada miner, linked for life with a London fairy—beauty and the beast—what would I do with her? In this babel, what could I do? What could she do on the old Jasper farm on the hill? I have it. I won't see her again. I will go and pack my grip, tell Jack I have received a cable which takes me home, and I will leave to-morrow.
"But then I could not go as I came. Those steady brown eyes would follow me; when the sunlight would turn its glint on gold and purple clouds, her chestnut curls would be sure to flash before my eyes, and then there would be a voice crying to me ceaselessly: 'You who prided yourself on being brave enough to do any needed thing, you on the first real trial lowered your flag and fled in a panic. A nice fix I have got myself into. All my life, through all my dare-devil days, on the ranges in Texas, down amid the swelling clay of the Comstock, everywhere, my soul has been equal to the occasion, and I have been able to acquit myself in a way not to attract attention to my deficiencies. But now my heart has gone back on me; a pair of eyes have confused my vision, and a little hand has knocked me out on the first round. I am in a deuce of a fix, surely." So he rattled on to himself.
The driver was a garrulous whip. From time to time he had been calling down to Sedgwick the names of famous points of interest along the route, which had been unheeded by the absorbed occupant of the cab. Finally the driver explained that a certain structure was Westminster Abbey.
"And what is Westminster Abbey?"
"It is where kings and queens and great soldiers and scholars are buried," said cabbie.
"Burial lots come high there, do they not?" said Sedgwick.
"Why, man, there are no lots sold there," said cabbie. "It is a place which was hundreds of years ago set aside for England's great dead to be buried in. The brightest dream of an Englishman is to rest there at last."
"Do they dream when they get there?" asked Sedgwick.
"Why, man," said cabbie, "when they get there they are dead."
"Great place!" said Sedgwick.
"The greatest in all England," replied cabbie.
"Do you know of any Englishmen who are in a hurry to be carried there?" said Sedgwick.
"O, no," said cabbie, "the best of them are not in any hurry about it."
"You Englishmen must be a queer race, to be always dreaming of going to a place and still are never anxious to start," said Sedgwick.
Cabbie gave up trying to explain the majesty of the great Abbey to one so utterly obtuse as Sedgwick seemed to be. He drove on in silence for half an hour or forty minutes before he rallied enough to speak again. Then he pointed to a structure and called down to Sedgwick that the place was Newgate.
"What is there peculiar about Newgate?" asked Sedgwick.
"Why, it is the famous Newgate prison," said cabbie.
Sedgwick roused himself and asked, "What do they do in Newgate?"
"What do they do?" said cabbie, "what do they do? Why, they hang people there sometimes."
"Get down, please, and ask them what they will charge to hang me," said Sedgwick. He did not smile; he seemed in sober earnest.
Cabbie looked at him for an instant, then whipped up his horses and hurried him to the hotel. Arriving there, he sprang down and said, "This is your hotel." Sedgwick got out and was walking off mechanically, when cabbie said, "Five shillings, please, sir." Sedgwick, with "O, I had forgotten," handed the man a guinea, and passed into the hotel. Cabbie looked after him, then tapped his forehead as much as to say, "He is off in the upper story," and mounting his box, drove away.
Sedgwick went to his rooms, threw off his coat, opened a window, sat down, put his heels on the table, lighted a cigar which went out in a moment, and an hour later when Browning, radiant, joyous, and exulting, returned, he found him there, still holding the unlighted cigar in his mouth, his feet still on the table, and a puzzled, undecided, and absorbed look on his face.
Browning rushed up to him, crying, "Jim, congratulate me, I have seen her, and it is all settled. She is an angel, Jim, and she has promised to be my wife. O, but God is good to me."
"I am glad, old man, I rejoice with you," said Sedgwick. "I hope with all my heart no cloud will ever cross the sunshine of your lives." Then he relapsed again into his moody way.
"What ails you, Jim?" asked Browning. "Does this great babel oppress your spirits?"
"I believe it does, Jack," he answered. "I was just thinking as you came in that I had better pull out for home. The atmosphere here is like a drift without any air-pipe."
"Nonsense," said Browning; "you cannot go. You must wait for my wedding. It would be all spoiled without you. I was planning it on the way. It will be in the church, of course, just before midday. You will be the best man—as usual. You and my sister shall do the honors that day. All my friends will be there. I will have the church smothered in flowers. I will corrupt the organist, bribe the choir, double-bank the preacher in advance, and we will all have a rousing time. We will, by Jove!"
Sedgwick smiled at his friend's happiness, and said: "Did you ever think that maybe I would be a little out of training for a performance of that kind? I think I would sooner risk keeping my seat on a wild mustang."
"You can do it, Sedgwick," said Jack. "You must do it. I would not feel half married unless you were present, and then, did you not promise to come and see me through?"
"Who will give away the bride?" asked Sedgwick.
The question seemed to startle Browning. "That reminds me," he said, doubtingly, "that I have neither seen my governor nor old man Jenvie. I left home telling mother and Grace that before I went home to live I would have to be invited by the governor. And that reminds me, too, Jim, there must not be a word about my money. I have only carried the idea that I worked for three years in the mines in America. They will reckon it up and conclude that if I was prudent I may have saved L400 or L500."
"That reminds me," said Sedgwick, "that no one must know that I have anything more than the savings of three or four years' work. It would give you away if the facts were known about my little fortune. But, Jack, could you not get along just as well without me? You ought to be in your own home and ought to enjoy every moment of time, while I am, in this vast waste of houses, what one solitary monkey would be in a South American wilderness."
"I will not hear of it, old pard," said Browning. "You see, if the governor asks me home you will go with me, and we will cabin together as of old. We will, by Jove! If he does not, then you must help me hold the fort in this hotel until I can bring my wife here," and he blushed like a girl when he spoke the word "wife."
The day wore heavily away. It was almost dark when a carriage stopped at the hotel and the cards of Archibald Hamlin and Percival Jenvie were brought in. Browning received them, and glancing at them handed them to Sedgwick, whispering, "They are the old duffers, Jim," caught up his hat, said to the servant, "Show me the gentlemen," and followed him out of the room.
He was absent a full half-hour. When he returned the two old men accompanied him and were presented to Jack. They were very gracious, invited Sedgwick to come with his son and make his son's home his home while in London.
Sedgwick was shy when there were ladies present, but men did not disconcert him.
He thanked Mr. Hamlin for his kind invitation, but begged to be excused, adding, "I am but a miner, not yet a month from underground. I have lived a miner's life for years. You do not understand, but that is not a good school in which to prepare a student for polite society."
"Tut, tut," said the old gentleman, with English heartiness. "We have a big, rambling old house. You can have your quarters there. When you become bored you can retreat to them. You shall have a key and go and come when you please. We should all be hurt were not Jack's friend made welcome under our roof so long as he pleased to remain in London."
"Well, let me think it over to-night. If I can gather the courage, maybe I will accept to-morrow," said Sedgwick.
Then Jenvie interposed, saying, "Mr. Sedgwick, let us make a compromise. My house is but a step from Hamlin's; make it your home half the time. Really it should be. In England friends only stop at hotels when traveling."
"Come, Jim," said Jack; "you see it must be, and that is the right thing. Ours are old-fashioned people, just up from Devonshire. What would you have thought had I insisted upon stopping at that hotel at the station near your father's house?"
Sedgwick yielded at last. Their trunks were packed in a few minutes, the bill settled, and they drove away.
Reaching the Hamlin home they were shown at once to their apartments, and were informed that so soon as they were ready dinner would be served.
They were not long in dressing, and together they descended to the parlor. Besides the family, the Jenvie family were also present. Grace met them at the door, shook hands with Sedgwick, and welcomed him with a word and a smile which set all his pulses bounding, and, taking his arm, presented him to the strangers; then shouted gaily: "Follow us! dinner is waiting."
Sedgwick was given the seat at the right of his host; Grace took the seat at his right, with Jack and Rose opposite.
The ladies were radiant in evening costume, and Sedgwick with a mighty effort threw off the depression which had burdened the day and appeared at his very best.
Mrs. Hamlin, judging shrewdly that perhaps it would relieve the stranger from embarrassment to engage him in conversation, with beautiful tact brought him to tell the company of his own country, remarking that "We insular people have but a vague idea at best of America."
With a smile, Sedgwick replied: "I do not know very much myself of my native country, for since I left school (here he glanced at Jack and his eyes twinkled) I merely wandered slowly through the southwestern States, almost to the Gulf in Texas, then bending north and west again, continued until I reached the eastern slope of the Sierras, and then made a dive underground and remained there until Jack determined to go home, and I came along to take care of him."
Here Miss Jenvie interposed and said: "What was the most precious thing you ever found in the mines, Mr. Sedgwick?"