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Title: Gold Seekers of '49
Author: Sabin, Edwin L.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[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


BY

EDWIN L. SABIN


AUTHOR OF "WITH CARSON AND FRÉMONT," "ON THE PLAINS WITH
  CUSTER," "BUFFALO BILL AND THE OVERLAND TRAIL," ETC.



_WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY_

CHARLES H. STEPHENS

_AND MAPS_



PHILADELPHIA & LONDON

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY



COPYRIGHT, 1915,

BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY



TO

THE AMERICAN BOY

AND

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



FOREWORD

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.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

         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



ILLUSTRATIONS


"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



MAPS


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 Señora
de la Esperança_ (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 José 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 José_
(Saint Joseph).  The _San José_ 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. Frémont 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 Frémont 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.  Frémont 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


I

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.

"Hello."

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.



II

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?"

"Come, quick!"

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.

[Illustration: The map from the mysterious stranger.  ("G H" means
"Gold Here")]

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."

"When?"

"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."



III

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?"

"Whose?"

"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."

"Sure?"

"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.



IV

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 Frémont!" exclaimed Charley.

The whiskered man nodded.

"I was.  I was with Carson and Frémont in Forty-three--Forty-four, and
again in Forty-five--Forty-six."

"I know about those travels," cried Charley.  "I'm reading Colonel
Frémont'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 Frémont 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 Frémont 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?"

"Yes, sir."

"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 Frémont, 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 Frémont 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 Frémont 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,

"We do."

"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."

[Illustration: From New Orleans to San Francisco, 1849.  The Charley
Adams party started from St. Louis.  The majority of the people took
ship at New York, and their boats picked up more passengers at New
Orleans]

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 Frémont 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 Frémont 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 Frémont 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 Frémont 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 Frémont 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 Frémont man paused uncertainly, puffing,
to survey the outlook.

"There's no chance for a berth, I suppose, is there?" he asked, of a
clerk, passing.

The clerk scanned him impudently.

"No, sir.  Every berth was taken before we left New York."

"Then why did the company sell us tickets?"

"That, sir," said the clerk, with an irritating smile, "is none of my
business."  And he hurried away.

"Well, we might as well begin to rough it now as any time," remarked
the Frémont man, after a keen look at the back of the retreating clerk.
"We'll have to make our own way--and I reckon we can do it.  Come on."

He shouldered ahead, Charley in his wake.  The emerged aft, on the
upper deck.

"Wait here a moment," bade the Frémont man; and abruptly left Charley
on guard over the baggage.  He returned in a minute or two.

"No berths," he reported.  "I wanted to find out.  Now I know.  We can
sleep in the steerage, they tell me.  Huh!  Not after we've paid extra
for fresh air.  Let me look around."

He did, surveying the crowded deck.  Suddenly picked up the baggage.

"I see a spot," he said, and led the way.

Just outside the rail, over the stern was slung a large boat--one of
the ship's life-boats.  It hung by ropes to the davits, and was covered
with a tarpaulin, or canvas, stretched over it and tied down.

The Frémont man halted, at the rail, and pitched the baggage over upon
the boat.

"There we are," he said with a smile, to Charley.  "Some of us can
sleep on top--and if it rains I reckon we can double under.  Go get
your father, now, and I'll hold the fort."

Away hurried Charley--excited, and in his mind the idea that this was
to be the queerest bed that he had occupied yet.  But he had faith in
the big Frémont man.

He took a look from the rail, to watch the dock below.  Most of the
passengers up here were crowded at this rail, to survey just as he was
surveying.  The stern had been left comparatively free.  There was his
father--he recognized the tall figure, and the limp--just arrived
below, gazing about anxiously.  Charley yelled, and waved, but he could
not make himself heard or seen.  Too much else was going on.  So he
raced down, and rushed out upon the dock.

"Come on, quick, dad," he greeted, breathless.  "We've found a place!"

"Who?"

"The Frémont man and I.  He found it, though."

"Did you get a berth?" panted his father, following him.  "They told me
at the steamship office that every berth was taken long ago.  I had to
fight for the tickets, even.  Never saw such a mob."

"No, not a berth.  But it's a place, anyhow.  You'll see."

In the short space of time the upper deck had grown more populous than
ever.  They worked their way through the crowd, Charley eagerly looking
ahead for the Frémont man at his post.

"This is awful," spoke Mr. Adams.  "The steamship company ought to be
brought to law about it."

"There he is," directed Charley, gladly.  "See him.  We've got the
life-boat!"

But perhaps they hadn't, for when they arrived, the Frémont man was
calmly barring the way of three other men--among them the long-nosed
man, who was doing most of the arguing on their part.

"No, gentlemen, you're too late," asserted the Frémont man, thrusting
them back with his rifle-barrel held crosswise.  "That boat's occupied."

Charley remembered to have seen the little gang much together, on the
_Georgia_, drinking and gambling.  They were a tough lot.

"Tell that to the marines," retorted the long-nosed man.  "We'll have
that boat, or we'll know a better reason than _you're_ giving."

"Reason enough, and here's my proof," quoth the Frémont man.  "The
boat's pre-empted by us three.  You must hunt another claim."

Mr. Adams promptly stepped forward, to the Frémont man's side.

"What's this about?" he demanded.

"Oh, it's you again, is it--you and your kid!" snarled the long-nosed
man.  "You're chalking up another score to settle, are you?"  And, to
his fellows: "What do you say, boys?  Shall we throw them overboard?"

"Over they go," announced one of the other men--a thin sallow,
drooping-moustached kind--with marvelous swiftness whipping from under
his coat breast a fifteen-inch blade bowie-knife.

[Illustration: "Over they go!"]

Charley's heart leaped into his throat with horror.  He wanted to
spring to his father's side, but his legs would not work.  However, the
affair was settled very easily.  The Frémont man quickly handed his
rifle to Mr. Adams, grabbed the long-nosed Jacobs, in bear-like grip,
and fairly threw him into the man with the knife.  Together the pair
went down in a heap, almost knocking over several of the onlookers.

"You next," declared the Frémonter, with a jump at the third of the
gang--who hastily recoiled, in alarm.  So did the onlookers.  So did
the two men who were scrambling to their feet again.  The Frémont man
had proved as quick and as strong as a gorilla.  Now he laughed grimly.

"Come on," he invited.  "Come on with your knives or anything else that
you have.  But we won't go overboard just yet.  We can't swim!"

The three fellows didn't "come on," worth a cent.  The one with the
knife hung back farthest of all.  They sputtered and glared, a little
uncertain just what to do with a man so energetic and fearless as the
Frémont man.

"All right, boys," snarled the long-nosed man.  "There's more than one
way to deal with 'em.  We don't want trouble.  We're peaceable
citizens.  But if that boat doesn't belong to us, it doesn't belong to
anybody."  And he threatened, to the Frémont man and Charley's father:
"In about five minutes we'll settle _your_ hash."

With that he turned, and he and his two companions shouldered their way
brusquely through the crowd.

The Frémont man laughed again.

"Fists are the only weapons needed with gentry of that class," he said,
contemptuously.  "Bah!  I think more of Digger Injuns."

Some of the onlookers nodded and murmured assent.  The half circle that
had been attracted by the dispute broke up.  Nobody had tried to
interfere, even when the knife had been drawn.  Charley soon found that
similar contests for sleeping places were occurring everywhere aboard.
It was a grand free-for-all rush.

Mr. Adams gave Charley an assuring nod, as if to say: "Here's a man who
knows what to do and how to do it"; and he remarked, quietly, to their
friend: "Thanks to you, I guess we're rid of that trouble."

"And easily rid, too," answered the Frémont man; he composedly reached
for his rifle, leaned it against the rail, and standing on the bench
running inside the rail began to rearrange the baggage on the canvas
covering of the boat.

But he was interrupted, for there came in a hurry a ship's officer, as
if sent by the long-nosed man.

"Here!  Take your things off that boat," he ordered.  "You can't use
that boat.  It's a life-boat."

"Where are we to stow ourselves, then?" queried Mr. Adams, at once.

"I don't know.  But you can't use that boat."

"Will you give us a berth in place of it?"

"No, sir," informed the officer, crisply.

"We've got to have some place for ourselves and our personal baggage,
sir," declared Mr. Adams.  "Our tickets entitle us to a berth.  We're
doing the best we can, to keep from littering the deck; but if you
insist on imposing further we'll carry the matter to Government
authority and see whether we were not sold tickets under false
pretenses."

The officer hesitated.  Clearly, these three passengers knew how to
stand up for themselves.  He decided to let well enough alone.

"You occupy the boat at your own risk, then," he snapped.  "The company
does not hold itself liable.  Understand that?"

"Perfectly."

The officer turned on his heel, and left them in possession.

"That settles _us_, I reckon," quoth the Frémont man, springing lightly
down.  "It's our claim."



V

AN ATTACK BY THE ENEMY

The _Georgia_ pulled out that very evening instead of lying over until
morning; and it was rumored that even with this hasty start there would
be barely time enough for the passengers to catch the Pacific Mail
steamship at Panama, for San Francisco.

Mr. Adams and the Frémont man (whose name was Grigsby) stayed by the
baggage until the steamer sailed; but Charley wandered about the decks,
"seeing things."  And there was plenty to see.  The _Georgia_ seemed to
be a fine boat.  She had three decks, all crowded.  The upper deck was
for the first-cabin passengers, who paid the highest fare, and were
supposed to have special privileges of table and state-rooms.  The
pilot-house was forward, and so were the rooms of the captain and first
officers.  The second deck contained the large dining cabin, with
state-rooms on either side of it for the other officers and the
second-cabin passengers.  Down below, on the first deck, where the
portholes were often under water, in a large room with rude bunks in
tiers along the sides were crowded the steerage passengers.  Here they
ate and slept, all together.  On this deck, forward, were housed the
crew; and some steerage passengers overflowed into the forward end of
the second deck.

Dusk was settling when the _Georgia_ emerged from the broad mouth of
the Mississippi into the Gulf.  At the same time a bugle blew for
supper--and what a scramble there was!  The first-cabin passengers were
to eat first, while the second-cabin must wait.  As for the steerage
passengers, Charley afterwards found out that they were fed, a bunch at
a time, from a board platform slung from the ceiling by ropes, behind a
railed partition.  Enough were admitted by the stewards to fill the
enclosure; when they had eaten out of the tin dishes supplied with stew
and beans, etc., from dirty kettles, another hungry company were let
through.

Almost before the bugle signal had done ringing, the first-cabin tables
were crowded, and passengers were standing behind the chairs, waiting
impatiently for those seated to quit and get up.  The long-nosed man
and his two cronies had been smart, or else they had bullied their way,
for they already were eating when, too late, Charley and his father
arrived.  Saying, good-naturedly, "I guess I'll stand guard while you
fellows eat," Mr. Grigsby had remained by the boat.

"We'll wait a bit, ourselves," spoke Mr. Adams, to Charley, as they
caught sight of the turbulent dining-room.

The scene was amusing, and also irritating.  It seemed to Charley as
though they would never find a place.  Every time anybody got up,
somebody immediately popped into the vacated chair.  Charley began to
be alarmed lest the supply of food would run short.

"Take the first chance that comes, now," bade his father.  "I'll go up
and send Mr. Grigsby down as soon as you're started, so you can mount
guard while I eat.  I'll be watching our friends the enemy."

Charley pushed forward, and presently he himself popped into a place.
The long-nosed man and his two partners had leisurely finished and were
strolling out--the man with the bowie-knife using it as a tooth-pick!
But Charley knew that his father and Mr. Grigsby would watch _them_, so
_he_ pitched into the food.  It was a case of everybody reaching and
grabbing.  Charley only wished that he had longer arms.

Just as he was midway Mr. Grigsby came down to a seat; and soon up ran
Charley, to release his father.  Now was he on guard, alone, ready to
do his best if anybody tried to seize the boat; but nobody did try.
Meanwhile he might gaze about.

He saw funny sights, for the _Georgia_ was rolling and tossing in the
waves of the Gulf.  It affected the passengers very oddly.  They were
all kinds, these passengers, both first-cabin and second-cabin--for the
second-cabin passengers were allowed on the upper deck, although not to
sleep.  A great many were Southerners, including a number of long,
lank, dark Arkansans, Georgians, Louisianans and Mississippians.
Pistols and knives were plentiful, although notices, posted about the
ship, said, plainly: "The Wearing of Deadly Weapons Aboard this Ship is
Forbidden."  For that matter, another notice said: "Passengers Are
Requested to Wear their Coats at Meals."  But nobody obeyed either
notice.

There were only a few women, among the first- and second-cabin
passengers; the steerage contained the most women, accompanying their
emigrant husbands and sons.  However, Southerners and Northerners, and
the men like the women, many of the passengers were beginning to act
very queerly.

They clustered along the rail, leaning over and hanging to it as they
leaned; they sat down, against the rail, and against the state-rooms;
and soon a lot were lying sprawled, with their eyes closed.  Most of
these had come aboard at New Orleans, probably.  The brisk ones had
been aboard already, from the North.  Charley was wickedly pleased to
see the long-nosed man stretched limp, and greenish in the face, while
his two companions meanly teased him.  And then, as Charley's father
and Mr. Grigsby appeared, Charley began to feel queer, himself.

The ship sank down, down, down--then she rose up, up, up; and which was
the worse sensation he could not tell.  Either one was the worse, while
it was happening!

"I--believe--I'll--go to bed," faltered Charley.

"Pshaw!  You are looking kinder green," said Mr. Grigsby, surveying him.

"Feel sick, Charley?" queried his father.

Charley's actions spoke louder than words, for suddenly he was at the
rail getting rid of his hard-earned supper.  When he tottered back,
already his father was spreading quilt and blanket against the rail
behind which hung the boat.

"I guess you had better turn in," he directed, to Charley.  "You'll be
more comfortable on the deck than on the boat.  Besides, I suppose that
Jacobs gang wouldn't hesitate to cut the boat and let it drop, if they
had the chance."

Charley crawled upon the bed.  He was so miserable that really he
didn't care whether anybody cut the boat down or not.

"Do you think I'll get well again?" he groaned.

His father and Mr. Grigsby laughed as if this were a joke.

"Why, sure," declared the Frémont man.  "But I know how you feel.  When
I was in California in Forty-six a lot of us Frémont men were sent down
from Monterey to San Diego by boat.  Every one of us was laid flat, and
Kit Carson was the sickest of all!  He vowed he'd rather cross the
desert a hundred times than take another sea voyage."

Charley did not open his eyes again till morning.  When he did open
them he was feeling much better.  He sat up, and decided that he was
going to be all right.  The ship was still pitching up and down, and
was out of sight of land.  The deck was littered with sick people lying
in all postures, and some cattle that had been taken aboard at New
Orleans, for beef, were lowing wretchedly as if they, too, were sick.
No doubt they were.

There was not much difficulty in getting a seat at breakfast this
morning, for some of the passengers who had come down from the North
were ill a second time.  When Charley was picking his way to the dining
cabin he stumbled on somebody, and looking down he beheld the
long-nosed man.  But the long-nosed man did not even notice that he was
being stepped on.  Charley chuckled.  Mr. Jacobs in such shape need not
be feared.

That day they were not interfered with, in their possession of the
boat.  Charley had the fun of sleeping on its canvas covering, that
night, where, all alone, he swung delightfully as in a great cradle,
while the stars shone down upon him, and the spray from the paddle
wheels occasionally drifted across his face.  His father and Mr.
Grigsby seemed to prefer the deck, against the rail.

The voyage down to the Isthmus was rated at seven days from New
Orleans.  By the third day most of the sea-sick passengers had
recovered, and everybody settled to enjoy themselves.  A number of
gamblers and drinkers were aboard; these kept to the main cabin, where
they sat at cards, robbing whomsoever they might, or stood at the bar
and guzzled quantities of liquor.  On the decks the main pastime was
reading California travels like Frémont's explorations, or Richard
Dana's splendid "Two Years Before the Mast"--which Charley knew almost
by heart; or in speculating on "How much gold can I dig in a day?"
That was the favorite question: "How much gold do you suppose a fellow
can dig in a day?"  The calculations ran all the way from $100 to
$10,000.

An awning was stretched over the upper deck, for shade; and as the
_Georgia_ sped out of the Gulf and headed south for the Yucatan Channel
under the Tropic of Cancer, between Cuba and Yucatan, the shade felt
mighty good.  A number of passengers got out their white suits of linen
or cotton; but the majority of the Forty-niners stuck to their flannel
shirts and coarse trousers and boots.

The third evening they crossed the Tropic of Cancer, and by night were
entering the Yucatan Channel, which led to the famous Caribbean Sea
where pirates used to lurk.  The long-nosed man and his partners had
not again bothered Charley and his two partners.  They had kept below,
most of the time, in the main cabin, with other roisterers, and it
began to look as if they had decided to let the Adams party alone.

Charley continued to sleep on the boat, swinging over the stern of the
steamer, between sky and sea.  Here in the tropics the days were
subject to sudden sharp squalls of rain; and Mr. Grigsby unfastened the
edge of the canvas covering of the boat, so that he could stow the
bedding underneath, when not in use.  In case of rain at night, Charley
could crawl under, also, and cuddled between the seats might sleep snug
and dry.  Mr. Grigsby had been pretty smart, to seize on that boat when
he did, for the awning leaked, in spots, and many of the passengers
found themselves getting wet.

From the Yucatan Channel the _Georgia_ crossed off the mouth of the
large Honduras River, which opened into the Gulf of Honduras, on the
line between Mexico and Central America.  The shore of Honduras could
be faintly seen, on the right, and around the course cropped up
wondrous coral keys with snow-white beaches, and tufty palms outlined
against the blue sky.  The water was a beautiful green.

That was all very nice, and now the Isthmus of Panama was only two days
ahead, across the Caribbean Sea; but the report spread that the
barometer was falling and a change in weather evidently was due.
Toward evening the sailors tightened the awning and made things more
secure, as if they were preparing for a storm.  The sun set gorgeously
crimson--an angry sun; the petrels, skimming the waves about the ship,
twittered excitedly, and other sea-birds seemed hastening early for
land.

"You'd better crawl under the canvas, to-night, Charley," bade his
father.  "We're liable to have rain."

"Where'll you sleep, then?" asked Charley.

"Oh, on the deck with Mr. Grigsby.  We'll find a dry spot."

Mr. Adams, as a soldier, had slept out many a night before--yes, and in
many a storm; but Charley was fond of his quarters in his own private
nest.  He liked to cuddle there and hear the rain patter on the canvas
close above him, while the waves talked beneath him, and the great
paddles whirred and thumped.  Under the canvas covering he gladly
slipped, and got in an exceedingly comfortable position there.

He fell asleep soon and soundly--and he awakened to a storm indeed.
The wind was moaning and swishing, the spray was pelting the bottom of
the boat like shot, the rain was pouring in a perfect deluge, with a
steady, thunderous rhythm, and the boat swayed and shook as the big
waves struck the steamer's sides.  Underneath the canvas all was pitch
dark.  At first Charley was a little bewildered and frightened; but
after a few minutes he settled back to enjoy himself.  He rather pitied
the folks trying to sleep dry on deck; and he wondered how it was
faring with his father and Mr. Grigsby.

He could hear hoarse orders to the sailors, and hasty tread of feet,
forward; and calls and exclamations among the passengers.  Then there
was a heavy weight almost on top of him, sagging the canvas, the canvas
was torn aside a little way, and he struggled to sit up, in alarm.
Maybe they were to launch the life-boat.  But no----

"It's all right, Charley.  Lie still," spoke his father's voice.  "I'm
only coming in with you, out of the rain.  Don't move.  Whereabouts are
you?"

"In the stern.  Did you get wet?"

"Some.  The whole awning leaks and the cabin and every other shelter
are full of people.  Whew, but it's dark, isn't it!  No lightning,
even.  If you're in the stern, I'll take the bow.  There.  This is
fine."

The canvas had been pulled snug again, and Charley could feel his
father crawling to the bow.

"Where's Mr. Grigsby?  There's room for him, too."

"He's found a dry spot, he says.  So he'll stay out, as long as he can.
Go to sleep, now."

Charley tried.  He heard his father settle himself with a grunt, and
presently begin to breathe in a little snore.  That was good, for his
father was not well, yet, and ought to be resting.  But Charley himself
found it hard work to go to sleep.  The wind soughed, the spray pelted,
the rain hammered, and the ship staggered and quivered, while over the
stern swayed the boat.

Suddenly, amidst the voices outside, along the deck, Charley caught a
quick outcry near at hand, and a scuffle--the scrape of feet, and the
thump of a body falling.  The tones were those of Mr. Grigsby.

"What are you doing?  Stand back!"  Hard breathing--and the sound of a
short struggle.  "Now, be off--none of that, or I'll put a hole through
you!  You dirty scoundrels!  Thought you'd catch us, did you?  Keep
away, after this, or I'll shoot on sight."

Charley attempted to sit up, and scraped his face on the low canvas.
His movement aroused his father.

"What's the matter, Charley?"

"I don't know.  Mr. Grigsby was scolding somebody."

"What's going on, Grigsby?" hallooed Mr. Adams.  "Anything wrong?"

"No, not now.  Go to sleep.  Tell you in the morning."

"Need me?"

"Not a bit.  It's all over with.  Just a prowler--and he won't come
again.  Go to sleep."

"Well----" assented Mr. Adams.  "Are you dry?"

"Dry as powder.  Good-night."

"Good-night.  But you'd better come in with us.  Plenty of room."

"No, thank you.  I'm comfortable."

Mr. Adams settled himself.  Charley, his heart beating, waited,
listening.  But Mr. Grigsby spoke not again.  The rain was lessening,
too--and although the seas continued to pound, and the wind to sough,
the storm seemed to be ceasing.  Presently Charley dozed off, and when
he awakened, it was morning.  His father already had left, for he was
not in the bow under the canvas.  Charley hastily crawled out, into
sunshine and a wide expanse of blue under which a gray green ocean
tossed its racing white-caps.

The passengers on the upper deck were astir, spreading out wet clothing
and bedding, to hang them from the awning and the rails to dry.
Charley's father and Mr. Grigsby were talking earnestly together, but
checked themselves when they saw Charley emerge, and land on deck.

"Morning to you," greeted Mr. Grigsby.  "Did you sleep well?"

"Fine," said Charley.  "Did you?  What was the matter in the night?"

"Yes; you can count on me to sleep in any kind of weather," answered
Mr. Grigsby.  And--"Shall we tell him?" he queried, of Mr. Adams.

Mr. Adams, who looked a little worried, nodded.

"Yes," he replied.  "We might as well.  He's one of us."

"The truth is," resumed Mr. Grigsby, to Charley, "one of those three
fellows tried to cut the boat down, in the night.  But I caught him.
Here's his knife."

"Which one was it?" gasped Charley, cold at the thought.

"Jacobs," said his father.  "And lucky for us that he didn't do it.
Mr. Grigsby has a sharp ear.  Why, we wouldn't have lasted a minute in
that sea.  Now, wasn't that a cowardly thing even to think of?"

"I'd feared it," admitted Mr. Grigsby.  "But it didn't seem possible,
in any human being.  Last night was a good night for it--and I suppose
the davits would have looked as though the boat had been torn loose by
a sea.  Whew!  I ought to have shot the scoundrel without parleying."

"What'll we do about it?" quavered Charley, sitting down hard on the
bench.  He felt weak.

"It's all over with, so don't be scared, boy," encouraged his father.
"A miss is as good as a mile, you know.  We're safe, after this.  Oh,
Mr. Grigsby and I've decided there's little to be done.  Of course,
here's the knife for evidence, and we'll speak to the captain; but
there's nothing else to do.  We have to look out for ourselves."

After breakfast Mr. Adams brought aft, not the captain, but the first
mate.  He was the same official who had objected to their using the
boat at all.

"So you think somebody was bent on cutting that boat down, do you?" he
queried, brusquely, of Mr. Grigsby.

"I don't think so; I know it," returned Mr. Grigsby.

"How do you know it?"

"Because I knocked him down and took his knife."

"Do you know who it was?"

"His name is Jacobs."

"You can prove that, can you?"

"To my own satisfaction; yes."

"Well, I suppose you are aware that there are over a thousand
passengers aboard this boat, and several hundred have knives just like
that one.  You can prove nothing.  I told you in the beginning that you
occupied this boat at your own risk.  So don't bring your complaints
forward.  But if any damage is done to this boat you'll be held
responsible."

So speaking, the first mate turned on his heel and left.  Charley saw
his father flush angrily, but Mr. Grigsby only laughed.

"Let him go," he said.  "We can do our own fighting."

A passenger standing near evidently had overheard the conversation, for
he asked, quietly:

"Do I understand somebody tried to cut your boat down, last night?"

"Yes, sir."

"His name was Jacobs, wasn't it?"

"Yes, sir."

"I heard that scuffle, and I've been wondering about it.  So the ship
won't do anything about it, according to the mate?"

"No, sir."

"Then I know who will," asserted the man--a quick, erect, middle-aged
man with grayish moustache and goatee.  He wore miner's costume, but he
looked like a gentleman, nevertheless.  "Wait a bit."

He, too, left.  Gazing after him as he passed along the deck under the
awning, they noted him pause and speak with several other men, who
glanced back at the stern as if he was telling them about the boat.  A
little group of them accompanied him, and disappeared with him.

Soon they all came up on deck again, and with them was Mr. Jacobs
himself.  Charley thought that he looked rather frightened, as in their
midst he moved aft.  The group was swelled, en route, until when they
halted before the Adams party they numbered about twenty--a sober,
stern lot, standing in a determined manner with Mr. Jacobs pushed to
the fore.

The man with the goatee acted as spokesman.

"This is the man, is it?" he asked, of Mr. Grigsby.

"I wouldn't call him a man," said Mr. Grigsby, contemptuously.  "But
he's the critter I referred to."

Mr. Jacobs scowled blackly at Charley, and his father, and Mr. Grigsby,
and tried to brazen it out.  However, 'twas plain to be seen that he
was ill at ease.

"What's the meaning of this?" he demanded, all around.  "What did you
bring me up here for?"

"You're accused of attempting to cut that boat down, last night, along
with the persons who were in it," answered the man with the goatee.

"Who accuses me?"

"I do," said Mr. Grigsby, shortly.

"It's a lie," retorted the long-nosed man, with an oath.  "I wasn't up
here.  I was down below, keeping dry."

"Here's your knife," pursued Mr. Grigsby, holding it out.

The long-nosed man laughed sneeringly.

"Not my knife.  I don't carry one.  Besides, the ship's full of knives
like that."

"Yes," said Mr. Grigsby.  "But it isn't full of dogs like you!  If you
weren't up here last night, how did you get that bruised cheek, and
those finger-marks on your throat?  You look powerful like somebody
who'd been knocked down and held for a while."

"It's a lie," repeated the long-nosed man, but rather weakly.  He
braced up.  "Of course it's a lie," he appealed, to the group.  "Isn't
my word as good as his?"

The man with the goatee laughed grimly--and so did several others.

"Your word?  It's about the poorest security you can offer.  Why,
you're nothing but a common gambler and a thug.  You're one of those
rascals who've been fleecing people down in the cabin.  Just yesterday
you robbed a man of his last cent by cheating him at cards.  Faugh!
Some of us have been watching you, and we know all about you.  I
wouldn't put it at all beyond you to cut down a boat, in the night, and
drop it, with a man and a boy sleeping in it.  Well, gentlemen," and he
addressed the group, "soon or late we'll have to organize a little law
and order committee, for protection in the gold fields, and I suppose
we might as well begin right here.  What'll we do with this specimen?"

"Throw him overboard!" came the angry response.

"String him up!"

"We'd better talk it over, first, hadn't we?" proposed a more cautious
voice.

"All right.  Somebody guard the prisoner."

"I'll watch him," proffered Mr. Grigsby, significantly handling his
rifle.

The group withdrew a short distance, to confer apart, leaving the
long-nosed man in a clear space before Mr. Grigsby.  A number of other
passengers had been attracted by the scene, but they stood at a
respectful distance, saying nothing.

The long-nosed man glared alike at Charley, his father, and Mr.
Grigsby, but he was afraid to move.

"You'll pay for this," he said, loudly.  "It's a scheme to get rid of
me, is it, and take my share in that gold mine you're making for?  But
it won't work.  These passengers won't see an innocent man suffer."
And so forth, and so forth, while Mr. Grigsby and Mr. Adams answered
never a word--and neither, of course, did Charley.  He rather hoped
that, after all, the group would decide not to handle the long-nosed
man roughly, even though he was a dangerous person.

Mr. Jacobs evidently was nervous despite his bragging; and when the
group advanced again, he turned pale.

The man with the goatee spoke, first addressing Mr. Grigsby and Mr.
Adams.

"While we believe the accused guilty and deserving of being put into
safe keeping, some of us don't think the evidence that he was cutting
down the boat conclusive enough to warrant us in dealing with him as
we'd like to.  As for you," he continued, now sternly addressing the
long-nosed man himself, "we give you this warning.  Don't show yourself
on the upper deck again, and don't sit at cards with anybody.  If we
catch you up here, or gambling anywhere aboard, we'll relieve the ship
of your society very quickly.  Now go."

Still pale, the long-nosed man hastened away, and went below.  The next
time Charley saw him was on the Isthmus of Panama.



VI

THE LANDING AT THE ISTHMUS

For the remainder of the voyage Charley slept on the deck instead of in
the boat.  He was not exactly afraid, and if anybody had dared him to
he would have slept in the boat just to show that he wasn't afraid.

But the idea that the boat might be cut loose, or might break loose,
was not pleasant.  Ugh!  Then down he would drop, boat and all, into
the wash of the steamer; the steamer would go on without him--and where
would _he_ go?

Even Mr. Grigsby and his father, who were brave men, approved of his
sleeping on deck, now.  As Mr. Grigsby said:

"We know you aren't afraid, but it's only a fool who takes chances when
they aren't necessary.  Out in the Indian country the greenhorns were
the fellows who played smart by sitting in the campfire light where the
Injuns could get a good shot at them.  Nobody ever saw Kit Carson
exposing himself that way."

The _Georgia_ was ploughing across the Caribbean Sea.  Islands were
constantly in view, but now no one paid much attention to these.  All
the passengers were on the lookout for the Isthmus of Panama; they were
tremendously eager to get ashore and start across the Isthmus for the
Pacific Ocean.

On the morning of the eighth day out of New Orleans a bank of rain or
fog closed down on the horizon ahead.  Off yonder was the Isthmus, but
who could see it?  However, evidently it was near; for when Charley
roved about, he discovered that sailors were busy, below, hoisting out
baggage from the hold.  They were getting ready to land.

The news spread through the ship, and passengers immediately engaged in
a wild rush to put their things together and crowd for the steps.  They
acted as though they expected to make a flying leap ashore as the ship
passed by.  Charley was glad to help his father and Mr. Grigsby tie up
their belongings also, so as to be ready.

Here on the rolling Caribbean the sun was shining brightly, tinting the
choppy waves with a beautiful green.  The storm ashore was moving on,
evidently, for the streaks of rain were drifting around to the left and
passing out to sea, leaving the mist thin and white.  Suddenly voices
forward cried, excitedly: "Land ho!  Land ho!  There she is!  Isthmus
in sight!  Land ho!"  The cries spread, with everybody on tiptoe,
peering.  At one end of the mist line had been uncurtained a background
of rocky, surf-washed shore, with high green hills rising behind it.
Next was uncovered a lower shore, indented by a large bay, and fringed
with palm-trees.  Next, as on sped the mist (like a swiftly rolling
curtain, indeed) there came into view a lofty headland, with trees on
its crest and the waves dashing against its base.

The _Georgia_ was swinging about in her course, and pointing up the
coast.  This brought the lofty headland on her left.  And now all the
deck was rife with questions.

"Where do we land?"

"What's that big point?  Porto Bello?"

"The pirates captured it, didn't they, couple of hundred years ago?"

"Can you see the old fort on it?"

"How far's the Pacific Ocean, now?"

"Do we land in that big bay?"

"Don't think so.  That's Limon Bay, isn't it?  Where is Colon?"

"Colon is where the railroad's going to begin.  We land at Chagres."

"Where is Chagres?"

"How far across to the Pacific at Panama?"

"About four days.  Three by boat and one by mule, they say."

"Anything to eat at Chagres?  Any sleeping place?"

"Don't know."

"Oh, Tom!  How'll we engage a canoe?  Ought to make up a party and send
a man ashore at once, oughtn't we?"

Accompanied by this babel of cries, the _Georgia_ steamed up along the
shore.  She passed the lofty headland, which seemed to guard a fine
harbor; and she passed the big bay which people said was Limon.  The
shore looked very tropical, with its beaches and palms and green hills
and thatched huts and glimpses of bright tinted towns, while behind
rose the mountain range.  Charley gazed spellbound.

"Say, where is Chagres?" were asking the passengers crowding along the
inshore rail.

Yes, indeed; where was Chagres?  The _Georgia_ was supposed to land at
the town of Chagres, which was at the mouth of the Chagres River, and
the way to California then lay up the Chagres River, by canoe, as far
as possible; over the mountains by mule, down to the Pacific Ocean at
Panama; and aboard the Pacific Mail Company steamship there, for San
Francisco.

"According to the map," said Mr. Adams, "Chagres is about eight miles
up the coast from Limon Bay.  I shouldn't wonder if we were turning in
for it now."

Sure enough, the _Georgia_ was beginning to point for the shore, which
rose high and steep, seamed with darker lines that proved to be ravines
running down to the sea.  A narrow inlet opened in the shore; no, this
was the mouth of a river--the Chagres River, said several voices.

"I see a castle," cried Charley.  "It looks like a castle, anyway.  On
top of the cliff, above the river.  Or maybe it's a fort."

"San Lorenzo castle, they call it, I believe," announced Mr. Grigsby.

Closer to the river's mouth and the castle above swept the _Georgia_.
Her whistle sounded hoarsely.  Still no town appeared; and to general
disappointment, when about a quarter of a mile from shore, opposite the
mouth of the river, she stopped her engines, there was a rattle of
chains through the hawse holes, and she had dropped anchor!  Almost
immediately a boat pulled away from her, for the shore.  It contained
the captain and two or three other officials.  They soon entered the
mouth of the river and disappeared.  The passengers, pressed against
the rails on all the decks, their hand baggage ready, murmured
irritably, but no other boats were launched and evidently it was not
yet time for them also to go ashore.

"If you two will look after the baggage, I'll try to get ashore among
the first and hire a boat," offered Mr. Adams.

"That's the best idea," approved Mr. Grigsby.  "There won't be boats
enough to go 'round, and somebody'll get left."

Charley saw his father shouldering his way through the crowd, to the
head of the stairs, into which he made further way.  He descended from
sight.  Down below he would have a harder time, for the crowd at the
rails of the lower decks was thicker, where people had clustered
hanging close so as to be in the first of the boats.  But Mr. Adams
could take care of himself, all right, whether lame or not.  He had
been in many a battle.

For a time there was nothing to do but gaze at the shore--at the old,
crumbling Castle of San Lorenzo, where through glasses a few cannon
could be descried; at the clumps of palms, standing like plumes; at the
rolling green hills, bordering the shore, and at the distant mountain
range which was to be crossed after the river had been ascended as far
as possible.  Beyond the mountains lay the Pacific Ocean, where, at the
city of Panama, the steamer for California would be boarded by those
who got there in time.  Except for the dots of soldiers, surveying the
_Georgia_ from the walls of the fort, the only signs of life ashore
were the thatched roofs of some huts, back among the trees.

In the course of an hour another murmur arose from the impatient
passengers, for the ship's boat reappeared, issuing from the narrow
mouth of the river--and with it was a much larger boat that soon turned
out to be a big canoe, manned by half a dozen natives.  Both boats
headed for the ship.  The canoe reached it first.  It was a dug-out,
fashioned from the single trunk of a tree; and its crew, wielding their
paddles, were black as coals, their naked bodies streaming with
perspiration.  On their legs they wore white cotton trousers, loose and
comfortable.

They halted amidships, under the steamer's rail, where while the
thousand faces stared down at them they gestured and called up.  All
that Charley could understand were the words: "Go ahead!"  They held up
their fingers, opening them and closing them to indicate twenty,
evidently.  But the passengers could do nothing, although some of them
almost jumped overboard in their excitement.

Now the ship's boat with the second mate in it hove alongside.  The
mate clambered up, by the rope ladder which was lowered for him and
closely guarded.  He made himself heard the best he could and the word
speedily traveled fore and aft, on all the decks, that the canoe would
take ashore twenty people, at once.

"And he says we've just time, if we start to-day, to catch the
_California_ at Panama," was reported.

What a hubbub resulted!  Of course, every party aboard ship tried to
place in the canoe their man who would engage a canoe, ashore, for the
river trip.  The tussle looked and sounded like a free-for-all
fist-fight.  Down the rope-ladder swarmed the picked men, each trying
to out-elbow the others, and dropped recklessly into the dug-out.  Two
men jumped for the dug-out from the lower deck, and fell sprawling.
Another sprang overboard, and climbed in, dripping.  But Charley was
relieved to see, among the lucky ones worming down the rope-ladder, his
father.  Hurrah for dad!

Mr. Adams was none too early.  The boatmen were jabbering and dodging
and shouting.  Already the dugout was loaded with its twenty, but the
rope-ladder was as full as ever.  Out from the ship's side shoved the
big canoe, its captain shaking his head vigorously at the passengers
above and yelling: "No!  No!" while his men began to ply their paddles.

Now there was a splash in the water, and a chorus of cries and
laughter.  A passenger who was bound not to be left had dived
overboard, after the canoe.  Up he rose, to the surface, and struck
out.  He was the long-nosed man, Mr. Jacobs!

"Wait!  Wait!  Man overboard!" rang the excited shouts to the dug-out;
and Mr. Jacobs himself, swimming as high as he could, waved an arm and
shouted.

But the crew of the dug-out only looked back and laughed; their
captain, steering, shook his head and motioned no; and faster and
faster traveled the canoe.  The long-nosed man swam hard for a little
way, when, giving up, he turned and came back to the ship.

The passengers gave him a round of applause mixed with laughter, as he
clambered aboard; but leaning over to watch, Charley saw him pause at
the rail and shake his fist after the retreating dug-out.  He was not a
good loser.

"Well, _he's_ left, anyhow," greeted Mr. Grigsby, when Charley hastened
back to find him and tell him.  Mr. Grigsby was so tall, that he had
seen as well as Charley, who was little and could squeeze about under
people's arms.  "It's a wonder.  That kind of person usually swipes the
best seat."

"I'm glad, aren't you?" answered Charley.  "Maybe we won't have any
more trouble with him."

"Humph!  Can't count on that yet," asserted Mr. Grigsby.

"My father didn't get left.  He's in the boat, all right," said
Charley, proudly.

"Yes.  I knew he'd make it.  Now as soon as we can get ashore we'll
start up-river."

But nothing was done aboard the _Georgia_, toward landing the
passengers, until another hour.  Then suddenly the word spread: "Get
your baggage.  Everybody ashore," and the sailors began to lower the
boats.

By the fight for place, that again occurred, anybody would have thought
that the ship was sinking and that only those people who got into the
boats at once would be saved!  The parties who had no men ashore were
the most determined to be first.

"Pshaw!  Let 'em go," spoke Mr. Grigsby, as the shoving crowd jostled
him and Charley hither and thither.  "We can wait.  I'm not specially
anxious to be capsized and lose all our stuff."

Boat after boat, loaded to the water's edge, pulled away from the ship
for the shore, canoes hastened to help, and still the passengers
clamored and fought.  In the confusion Charley lost all track of the
long-nosed man and his partners.  The main thought now was, when could
he and Mr. Grigsby get ashore and find his father?

When the boats returned for their second loads there was another
hurly-burly, but the decks were thinning out, and pushing to the
nearest ladder Charley and the Frémonter managed to climb down,
lowering their baggage, into the boat there.  The boat was loaded full
almost instantly, and away it pulled, for the shore again.

Standing up, because there wasn't space to sit down, Charley eagerly
gazed ahead.  Slowly the shore enlarged; and turning the high point on
which was the Castle of San Lorenzo the boat entered the mouth of the
river.  A little bay unfolded, its shore high on the left, low and
marshy on the right.  On the left, at the foot of the thickly wooded
bluffs, among bananas and plantains, appeared a little group of
peak-roofed huts, all the muddy bank in front of them alive with the
_Georgia's_ passengers.  Was that the town of Chagres?  Well, who would
want to live _here_!

The passengers already landed were running about like ants, every one
acting as if his life again depended upon his getting away immediately.
The landing place was covered with baggage which had been dumped
ashore.  A number of canoes were lying in the shoal water, and a number
of others had been hauled out while their owners repaired them.  Amidst
the baggage, and over the canoes, swarmed the _Georgia's_ passengers,
in their flannel shirts or broadcloth or muddy white, shouting and
pleading and threatening, trying to hire the boatmen.

"There's your father," spoke Mr. Grigsby, suddenly, to Charley, as
their boat neared the busy landing.

Charley had been anxiously searching the shore, looking for his father;
and now he saw him, standing in a canoe drawn up out of the water, and
beckoning.

This looked promising; maybe that was their canoe!  The moment that the
ship's boat grounded, its passengers tumbled out, helter-skelter, into
the mud, and raced for land, lugging their bed-rolls, to swell the bevy
already landed.  Mr. Grigsby shouldered his own bedroll, gave Charley a
hand with the other, and together they joined in the scramble.

[Illustration: The route across the isthmus in 1849.  About forty miles
by canoe from Chagres to Cruces; twenty miles by horse, mule, and
bullock from Cruces to Panama.  Charley's party stopped at Gatun, Dos
Hermanos, Peña Blanca, and Cruces.  Of course, to-day Gatun Lake covers
from Gatun to Gorgona, and people start from Limon Bay, not Chagres, by
canal]

"Hello!" greeted Mr. Adams.  He was as breathless as they, for every
minute he was shoving away persons who tried to seize the canoe, and
was explaining that it was taken.  A black boatman was busy thatching
the canopy top with dried palm leaves--and he, too, was obliged to keep
shaking his head and saying: "No.  No.  Go 'way."

"Well, here's our boat," continued Mr. Adams, briskly.  "Here's one
boatman; his name's Maria.  Francisco, the other, is up town buying
provisions.  No," called Mr. Adams, to a _Georgia_ passenger who was
thrusting money fairly into the face of Maria, "you can't hire this
boat.  It's taken."

"I've paid fifteen dollars apiece, for the three of us and our baggage
up to Cruces, forty miles.  That's as high as boats go; there we'll
have to take mules across to Panama," continued Mr. Adams--the outsider
having gone off disappointed.  "I think we've got a good boat; but I've
had a fight to keep it.  If Maria hadn't have stayed, I'd have been
thrown out, long ago."

"When do we start?" asked Charley.

"Whenever Francisco comes back."

"Do you reckon we'll have time to eat?" queried Mr. Grigsby.

"Yes.  And that might be a good plan, too."

"You and Charley go up and see what you can find, and I'll hold the
boat," directed Mr. Grigsby, climbing in.

"All right.  Come along, Charley," and Mr. Adams alertly limped on up
the gentle slope, to the village.

The huts were square, made of cane and roofed with palm-leaf thatch, to
a peak.  There were no window-panes or doors.  The Chagres men and
women stood in the doorways, and gazed curiously out while they puffed
big black cigars and talked about the crazy Americanos.

This, then, was Chagres at the mouth of the Chagres River, the
beginning of the Isthmus trip to the Pacific.  (But when the great
Panama Canal was built, it left the Chagres River, above the town, and
cutting across a neck of land struck the ocean at Limon Bay, eight
miles down the coast.  The first Panama railroad also chose Limon Bay
as one terminus; so that the town of Chagres soon lost its business.)

Mr. Adams spoke Spanish, because he had been a soldier in Mexico; and
right speedily he bought bread and bananas and eggs and some dried
meat.  There was a hut bearing a sign in English: "Crescent Hotel"; but
one look into it and at its mob of panting customers decided Charley
and his father to eat in their canoe.

"Good!  There's Francisco!" exclaimed Mr. Adams, as they returned.

"Yes; and there's that Jacobs again!" cried Charley.  "He's after our
canoe!"

"He won't get it," said his father.  "We've paid for it, and we keep
it."



VII

A RACE UP THE RIVER

The river landing was still the same scene of wild bustle, with the
white people running up and down, darting hither-thither, all
determined to set out at once.  The dark-skinned natives were the cool
ones amidst the flurry; and the boatmen were the coolest.  Every canoe
was constantly being pounced upon by fresh seekers who were yet without
a craft, but the majority of the canoes seemed to have been engaged.
However, a few boatmen evidently were holding out for higher pay.

Sure enough, the long-nosed man and one of his partners were hotly
arguing with Maria at the bows, and offering him money; whereat Maria
only shook his head, under its wide-brimmed braided straw hat, and
scarcely paused in his work of thatching the canopy.  Francisco stood
looking on and listening.  He was a strapping big fellow, not very
black, wearing loose cotton pantaloons.  In his ears were brass rings,
for earrings.  Just as Charley and his father arrived, the long-nosed
man roughly seized Maria by the shoulder, as if to jerk him from his
work and force him to take the money.  At that, Francisco sprang
forward like a panther, grabbed the long-nosed man by the collar, and
flung him head over heels, along the mud.

Well plastered, the long-nosed man picked himself up, and glared at
Francisco.  By-standers laughed.  Mr. Jacobs make a step forward, as if
to leap while Francisco waited, panting and ready.  But Mr. Jacobs's
partner said, shortly: "Come along.  We can't waste time here," and
with a parting scowl the long-nosed man turned away with him.

Neither of them seemed to have noticed whose boat it was.  All they
wanted now was anybody's boat, of any kind.  Charley was glad to see
them go.

Francisco grinned at Mr. Adams and Charley.  From the stern where he
was sitting Mr. Grigsby approved, to Francisco, with a jocular sentence
in Spanish, at which Francisco grinned again.  Maria spoke aside, and
Mr. Adams nodded, translating to Charley:

"Maria says we have paid for the boat and it is our boat.  He and
Francisco want it understood that they are gentlemen and honest."

"As long as we treat them right they'll treat us right," put in Mr.
Grigsby.  "We're lucky.  I've seen some of these boats change hands
half a dozen times, already."

"Yes; when once you get to bribing there's no end to it," asserted Mr.
Adams.  "I don't trust anybody I can bribe."

The baggage was in the boat; the small trunk toward the stern, and
bedding rolls arranged toward the bows.  Francisco had dumped in a
boiled ham and a sack of rice; he took the other supplies from Charley
and his father, and stowed them also.  A pair of broad-bladed paddles
lay along the gunwales, fore and aft.

"Go ahead," spoke Maria, stepping back from the canopy.  He motioned
his passengers into the canoe.

"Good!" said Mr. Adams.  "Get into the bows, Charley.  You and I'll sit
amidships, Grigsby.  How many canoes ahead of us?"

"About a dozen, I reckon."

"We ketch 'em," assured Maria, confidently.

He and Gonzales seized the gunwales and bent low, shoving.  The dug-out
slipped down the slimy bank, through the ooze, into the water, and with
final shove Maria and Francisco vaulted aboard.  Maria in the stern,
behind the trunk, Francisco kneeling at Charley's feet, between the
bedding rolls, they grasped their paddles, and swung the canoe
up-stream.  With a few powerful strokes they left behind them the bank,
where the white horde, crazed by the sight of another boat making
start, shouted and gestured more frantically than ever.

Charley just glimpsed still another boat putting out from the landing,
when his canoe swept around a curve, and landing and crowd and village
all were blotted from view by a mass of foliage.  Even the sounds of
bargaining ceased.  The canoe might have been a thousand miles into the
wilderness, where nobody lived.

"All right," remarked Charley's father, settling himself comfortably.
"Now 'go ahead,' as they say.  There are 300 people waiting at Panama
for the _California_, and I only hope we get there in time."

"Maria says we'll reach Cruces in three days, if we don't have
accidents," spoke Mr. Grigsby.  "Might as well enjoy the scenery."

The dug-out was called a cayuca.  It was about twenty feet long, but
very narrow, and was hollowed from a single trunk of mahogany--for
mahogany was as common down here as pine up North.  Charley felt quite
luxurious, riding in a mahogany boat!

He never had dreamed of such scenery.  The crooked river flowed between
a perfect mass of solid green blotched with blazes of flowers.
Bananas, plantains, cocoa and other palms, bread-fruit, gigantic teak
trees, dense leaved mangoes, acacias and mangroves on stilt roots like
crutches, sugar-cane, sapotes with sweet green fruit the size of one's
head, sapodillas with fruit looking like russet apples, mahogany,
rose-wood, and a thousand others which neither Mr. Grigsby nor
Charley's father recognized, grew wild, as thick as grass--and every
tree and shrub was wreathed with flowering vines trying to drag it
down.  Monkeys and parrots and other odd beasts and birds screamed and
gamboled in the branches; and in the steeply rising jungle and in the
water strange noises were continually heard.  There were violent
splashes and snorts from alligators--and Mr. Grigsby saw two wild
boars.  Now and then sluggish savannahs or swamps opened on right or
left, filled with vegetation and animals.

It was the rainy season and the river was running full, about
seventy-five yards wide, with a strong current in the middle.  Paddling
hard, Maria and Francisco zigzagged from side to side across the bends,
seeking the stiller water and the eddies.  Trees bent over and almost
brushed the canoe--and suddenly Maria, in the stern, cried out and
pointed.

"Python!" he uttered.  "Mira!  (Look!)"

He and Francisco backed water and stared.  So did their passengers, and
well it was that the canoe had been stopped.  From the lower branches
of a large leafy tree jutting out into the very course of the canoe was
hanging a long, mottled object, swaying and weaving.  Charley saw the
head--a snake's head!  A boa constrictor, as large around as a barrel,
and with most of its body hidden in the tree!

"Ha!" exclaimed Mr. Grigsby, and raised his rifle.  With single
movement the two boatmen swung the canoe broadside and held it.  The
Frémonter sent eagle glance adown his leveled barrel--the rifle cracked
and puffed a little waft of smoke.  "Spat!" sounded the bullet.  The
huge snake began to writhe and twist, fairly shaking the tree; then
fold by fold it issued, in a horrid mazy line of yellow and black
(would it never end?), until with a plash the last of it fell into the
water and swirling the surface the monster disappeared.

"Bueno!  Bueno!  Mucho culebra (Good!  Good!  Big snake)" exclaimed
Maria; and chattering in Spanish he and Francisco hastily veered the
canoe further from the bank.

"They say the snake's mate is liable to be near and we'd better stand
out," explained Mr. Adams.  "He was a big one, sure."

"Forty feet, I judge," answered Mr. Grigsby.

"Where'd you hit him?" asked Charley, eagerly.

"In the eye," asserted Mr. Grigsby.  "You don't think a Frémont man
would shoot for any other mark, do you?"

Mile after mile steadily paddled Maria and Francisco, up the magic
river.  Already their bronze bodies, sinewy and naked, were glistening
with perspiration, for in here, between the high wooded hills, it was
very hot and moist.  Charley's neck was tired, from twisting his head
so that he could see everything at once; and on their seat amidships
his father and Mr. Grigsby were constantly craning right and left.

Abruptly Maria and Francisco ceased paddling, threw aside their plaited
hats, kicked off their cotton trousers, and crying together "Bano!
Bano!" plunged overboard.  Charley gazed in alarm.  What had happened?
Another boa threatening?  But his father and Mr. Grigsby read his
alarmed face and laughed.

"Oh, they're just taking a swim, that's all," explained his father.
"They said 'bano,' which is Spanish for bath."

Nevertheless, this struck Charley as a dangerous thing to do, in a
river swarming with alligators and other reptiles; yet frisking about
and blowing and ducking Maria and Francisco seemed to be enjoying
themselves.  They swam like seals.

"We might as well have a snack to eat, while we wait," quoth Mr.
Grigsby.  He threw Charley some bananas, and cut off chunks of the
dried meat for the company.  By the time they three had eaten a little
lunch, Maria and Francisco had climbed aboard, donned their trousers
and hats, and resuming their paddles were starting on again, evidently
much refreshed.

In the straightaways behind and before other canoes, hurrying up-river,
were sighted.  One of the canoes behind crept closer and closer.  Maria
and Francisco occasionally glanced over their wet shoulders at it, but
although they worked bravely, and Maria sang lustily:

  Yankee doodle doodle doo,
    Yankee doodle dandy;
  Yankee doodle doodle doo,
    Yankee doodle dandy.
    Yankee doodle dandy,
    Yankee doodle dandy,
  Yankee doodle doodle doo,
    Yankee doodle dandy!

the canoe behind was proving too much for them.  Meanwhile Charley
wondered how Maria had invented his "American" song.

The canoe behind held seven persons; and of course it could overhaul
Charley's canoe, for four of the persons were paddlers.  Charley,
facing backward in the bows, had the best view of it; and as on it
came, the four paddlers digging hard, he saw, as somehow he had
expected, that the three passengers were the long-nosed man and two
partners.

With its paddlers grunting in unison, the water spurting from the prow,
and the three passengers lolling back, it surged past.  One of Mr.
Jacobs's cronies yelled, mockingly: "Want a tow?"--and the paddlers
grinned.

"No matter," panted Maria, to his own company.  "We ketch 'em.  Dey pay
big mooney; pay more 'fore dey get dere.  You bet."

The river ran swifter, now, and Maria and Francisco worked their level
best to make way against the heavy, muddy current.  The sun was almost
touching the high green ridge to the west, when Mr. Grigsby, who had
sharp eyes, said, with a nod of his head:

"That must be Gatun, where we stop for the night."

The canoe was turning in toward the right bank; and Charley, looking,
saw a cluster of thatched huts there.  A number of other canoes were
tied at the bank, and their boatmen and passengers were loafing among
the huts.  A loud dispute was going on between some boatmen and
passengers.  As Charley's boat glided up, and Francisco leaped ashore
to hold it, the long-nosed man's angry tones sounded loud and familiar.
It was he and his two partners who were threatening their boatmen.

"We want to go on.  Go on--understand?  We paid you extra; big money.
No stop here; no stop.  You savvy?"

But the boatmen shrugged their bare shoulders, and sauntered away,
leaving the three men furious.

"No use, pardner," called another gold seeker.  "These niggers always
stop here for the night.  You might as well swallow your cud."

"But we paid them one hundred dollars to take us straight through,"
rasped Mr. Jacobs.

"Yes, and stole another party's boat in the bargain, I understand,"
retorted the gold seeker.  "Serves you right."

"Well, I'd like to have them up North for about ten minutes," growled
the man who had drawn knife on Mr. Grigsby aboard the _Georgia_.  "I'd
tan their hides for 'em."

"Shucks!  Such tall talk doesn't go down here," answered the other.
"They're as free as you are, and no crookeder."

He plainly enough was somebody not afraid to speak his mind; and since
they were getting the worst of the argument the three scallawags quit
complaining.

"We'll have to hustle to find lodging here," spoke Mr. Adams, rather
dubiously surveying the crowd and the huts.

And indeed the outlook was not promising.  The village was small and
dirty, squatting here amidst bananas and palms and sugar-cane, its
people the same kind as at Chagres.  (To-day the surface of the great
Gatun Lake, formed by the famous Gatun dam which has blocked the course
of the Chagres River in order to obtain water for the big canal, covers
old Gatun village--and other villages besides.)

There seemed to be enough gold seekers here, now, to fill every hut to
overflowing.  But Maria (who appeared to have taken a fancy to his
party) came pattering back from an errand, and beckoned to Mr. Adams.

"It looks as though Maria had found something for us," said Charley's
father, as they followed Maria.

Maria led them beyond the village, and behind a screen of banana trees,
to a little hut crouched there cosily.  The owner of the hut, and his
wife, stood in the doorway.

They wore a long, clean cotton shirt apiece.  Half a dozen children who
wore nothing at all were peeping out from behind their parents' skirts.

The man and woman bowed grandly, and Maria spoke in Spanish.

"The house is ours, he says," informed Charley's father.  "Good!  Now
how about something to eat, I wonder?"

That was soon answered.  When they filed through the doorway, to
inspect, here was a cane table set with supper--fried eggs, fried
bread-fruit, also real bread, baked bananas, sweet potatoes, beef dried
in strips, black coffee--and in the middle of the table a baked
something that looked exactly like a baked baby!

"Oh!" cried Charley, startled.  "What's that?"

"A baked monkey, 'pon my word!" exclaimed his father.  "Well, that's
more than I can go."

"I'm no cannibal, myself," quoth Mr. Grigsby.  "Fact is, I'd rather eat
outside."

"No, I'll have them take it away," opposed Mr. Adams; and amidst
laughter the baked monkey was removed.

They sat on the earthen floor and ate.  Things tasted mighty good.  The
huts had no windows, and a dirt floor.  A woven grass hammock swung
from the poles, and a number of cowhides were laid like a couch.  Maria
said something about "muchacho" (which Charley knew was Spanish for
boy) and pointed to the hammock.

"That's yours," translated Charley's father, to Charley.  "We men sleep
on those hides, I suppose."

While eating, Charley began to prickle, and shrugging his shoulders
politely scratched.  His partners were doing the same, and Mr. Grigsby
laughed.

"Fleas!" he grunted.  "That's all.  Got to expect them.  Otherwise
we're lucky."

Fleas?  There were millions of them!  They hopped even over the food;
but Charley was so hungry that he couldn't stop for that.  He scratched
and ate.

Darkness descended early in the jungle.  Maria and Francisco said that
they'd all start up-river again at daybreak, or five o'clock, so it
behooved the party to get to bed.  Charley took one stroll, after
supper, into the village, sight-seeing.  The village was a-riot with
noise.  The natives were beginning a dance, to the light of torches, on
the grass, for the entertainment of the visitors.  Tom-toms whanged,
flutes screeched, people cheered, and a number of the gold seekers were
acting like rowdies.  It was a wild scene, amidst flaring torches; but
Charley thought best to beat a retreat to the safety of the hut.

With his clothes on he clambered into his hammock.  His father and Mr.
Grigsby lay on the pile of hides.  Where the family slept could not be
found out; Maria and Francisco slept in the boat, to guard the baggage.

Half the night the uproar in the village continued, but this did not
bother Charley as much as the fleas did.  They accompanied him into his
hammock, and were busy every minute, it seemed to him.  And judging by
the sounds from his father and Mr. Grigsby, there were fleas enough to
go around, with some to spare!

Charley thought that he had just fallen asleep, when he was awakened by
a tremendous roar.  The hut was shaking, his hammock trembled, and the
world seemed ablaze.  He half sat up, staring about him.  Oh, a
thunder-storm!  But what a storm!  The storm that had caught him in the
boat aboard ship was only a shower, compared with this storm in the
tropical jungle.  The rain was falling in a solid mass as if poured
from a gigantic bucket, while the red lightning blazed without a pause.
There was no wind; it was the weight of the water that made the hut
tremble--of rain drumming so steadily that even the thunder was
scarcely noticeable.

The interior of the hut was constantly light.  He saw his father and
Mr. Grigsby also sitting up--and on the floor the water was running an
inch deep.

"Stay where you are, Charley," bade his father.  "You're all right.  We
can't do better."

That was so; and so long as his father and Mr. Grigsby were not
frightened, Charley determined that he need not be, either.  So he lay,
high and pretty dry (the rain beat through the thatch in a thin mist),
and wondered where all that water came from.  He also wondered how
Maria and Francisco were faring.  But probably they knew how to take
care of themselves, because they lived down here.

The storm passed; on a sudden the rain stopped, the lightning died
away; and Charley fell asleep in earnest.

When he awakened the hut was pink with morning.  His father was
standing in the doorway, looking out; Mr. Grigsby was gone.  His father
turned, as Charley stirred; and said:

"Hello.  Ready to start?"

"Yes.  Is it time?"

"High time.  We overslept a little.  You'd better tumble out.  There's
some coffee on the table, waiting for you.  Drink it, and we'll go on
and finish breakfast in the boat."

Out piled Charley, hastily swallowed a cup of coffee, and was
ready--all but washing, which he determined he could do at the river.
He was stiff and flea-bitten, but otherwise felt all right.

He followed his tall father out into the fresh morning.  Everything was
dripping and soggy, but the sun was going to shine, and dry the world
off.  Together they trudged through the wetness, into the village.
Other gold seekers were trooping down to the river, and the villagers,
yawning and weary-eyed after the dance, were watching them, and
collecting money due for entertainment.

Mr. Grigsby was standing on the river bank, leaning on his rifle and
gazing about rather puzzled, while canoe after canoe was pushing off.

"No hurry," he spoke, when Charley and Mr. Adams arrived in haste.
"Save your breath."

"Why's that?" asked Mr. Adams, sharply.

"Our canoe's gone, and so are our boatmen!"



VIII

A TRICK--AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

That was so!  Here was the very spot where the cayuca had been tethered
to a pole.  Charley remembered the pole, forked at the upper end.  Only
the forked tip was visible, for the river had risen amazingly from the
rain, and was running over its bank.  But the pole was sticking
out--and no canoe was attached to it.  Of canoe, and of Maria and
Francisco, not a sign appeared.

Two thirds of the other canoes had gone; the others were rapidly
leaving, as their occupants piled into them.  The canoe of the
long-nosed man and his companions already had started, for its place
was vacant.  Charley looked to see.

"It can't be that they've deserted!" exclaimed his father.

Mr. Grigsby shook his head, and smiled.

"Scarcely," he said.  "See here.  I've been waiting to show you."

He waded in knee deep, pulled up the pole and returned with it.  A
fragment of grass rope still hung to it.  The rope had been cut!

"I think," said Mr. Grigsby, slowly, "that we've our three friends to
thank for this.  Looks to me as though somebody had cut the rope and
set the canoe adrift, with our men in it."

"Then they're liable to be miles down the river!"

"Just so, baggage and all."

"We can't wait," asserted Mr. Adams.  "If we wait we run a good chance
of missing the steamer.  I wouldn't have those three rascals get there
first for a thousand dollars.  How about another canoe?  Have you
tried?"

"Not yet.  I didn't know whether you wanted to leave your baggage."

"Certainly I'll leave it.  It can follow us.  We can't stay here long
and run the risk of cholera.  If you'll look for a canoe I'll see if we
can't hire passage with some of these other parties.  Here, gentlemen!"
he called, to a canoe about to push out, and not heavily loaded.  "Got
any room to spare?"

"Nary an inch, mister," responded one of the men.  And away they went.

Again and again Mr. Adams tried, and he always got the same answer.
Truly, this was a very selfish crowd, every man thinking only of
himself and the goal ahead.  They all acted as if the gold would be
gone, did they not reach California at the very earliest possible
minute.  The fact is, Charley felt that way himself.

Back came Mr. Grigsby, hot and wet and disgusted.

"There's not a canoe to be had," he announced.  "I can't get a boat for
love or money.  Either they're all in use, or the people claim they
want to use them later.  I expect we'll have to wait."

"Do you think our men will be back?"

"Yes, sir, as soon as they can.  They seem honest.  We can't walk,
anyway."

"No, I should say not," responded Mr. Adams, surveying the jungle
encompassing close.  "We couldn't go a mile.  The river's the only
trail.  Very well, we'll wait a while.  I've waited before, and so have
you."

"Many a time," and Mr. Grigsby composedly seated himself on the bank,
his rifle between his knees.

"I'll see about some breakfast, then," volunteered Mr. Adams.  And away
he strode.

Charley had listened with dismay to the conversation.  The last of the
gold seekers' dug-outs had left in a hurry, and was disappearing
up-stream.  And here were he and his partners, stranded at the very
beginning of their journey across to the Pacific!  That had been a mean
trick by the long-nosed man.  Charley grew hot with anger.

"I should think Maria and Francisco would have waked up," he complained.

"They're awake by this time, and considerably surprised, too," answered
Mr. Grigsby.  "As like as not they were covered with their gutta-percha
blankets, from the rain, and the boat drifted away without their
feeling a thing."

The sun had risen.  A few of the villagers squatted beside Mr. Grigsby
and Charley and chatted in Spanish.  They didn't appear concerned over
the matter.  They seemed to think that it was a joke.  Presently Mr.
Adams came striding back.

"Nothing new, is there?" he queried.  "All right.  Breakfast is ready,
anyway.  I don't think these people will object to having us as steady
boarders, at two bits apiece."

The breakfast, in the darkened hut where they had slept, was very good:
baked plantains (that looked when whole like a banana, but when served
cooked looked and tasted like squash), boiled rice, butterless bread,
and black coffee again.  Charley enjoyed that breakfast--how could he
help it when he was hungry and the food was something new?  But his
father rose twice to look at the river.  Evidently time was of more
importance than eating.

However, the river brought nothing; and when they all had finished
breakfast and went out together to inspect the river again, it proved
still vacant of the dug-out, and of Maria and Francisco.

"I vow!" chafed Mr. Adams.  "This is too bad."

Mr. Grigsby seated himself on the bank.

"I don't wish any snake harm that doesn't deserve it," he said.  "But
if a big boa would swallow that long-nosed man and his two cronies I
don't reckon I'd feel especially sorry, except it would be powerful
hard on the snake!"

The village pursued its daily routine.  Some of the women washed
clothing in the shallows, although the water seemed dirtier than the
garments.  Men and women, both, cut plantains and bananas and
breadfruit, and scratched gardens with crooked sticks.  Children played
about, and a few canoes pushed out, to go fishing.  But nobody worked
any _too_ fast.  The sun beat down hotly, the air was moist and heavy,
monkeys and parrots screamed in the trees, and ever the Chagres flowed
past, brown and swollen from the rain.  Considerable driftwood floated
down, and this was the only passing object.

After about two hours had dragged by, Mr. Grigsby suddenly uttered, in
his calm manner, with a nod of his head: "There they come."  He had
keen eyes, had the scout and trapper who had served with Kit Carson and
Colonel Frémont, for Charley, peering down stream, saw only a small
speck appearing around the bend.  His father wasn't quite convinced,
and squinting earnestly he said: "I hope so, but it may be some other
canoe, after all."

"Not a bit," assured Mr. Grigsby.  "That's our craft, with our men in
it paddling for dear life.  I can see 'em plain; can't you?"

Along the opposite bank crept the canoe--yes, it held two paddlers--now
it was quartering across, making for the village; its crew certainly
looked like Maria and Francisco.

Hurrah!  Maria and Francisco they were; and indignant they proved to
be, as their three passengers proceeded to the water's edge to meet
them.  They were panting and wringing wet, for they had come in a great
hurry.  The villagers flocked curiously down, to listen and inspect.

"Quick!" called Francisco, in Spanish, as he held the canoe to the
bank, "Get in, Americans."  He held up the severed rope attached to the
prow.  "Those rascals cut us adrift, but never mind.  We'll hurry."

"We were almost down to Chagres again when we woke up," called Maria,
to friends ashore.  "We have been paddling ever since."

"Get aboard," bade Mr. Adams.  "All right," he added, to the boatmen,
as Mr. Grigsby followed him and Charley tumbled into the bows.
Francisco gave a vigorous shove, out shot the canoe into the current;
and instantly Maria and Francisco were digging again with their paddles.

"We've lost about six hours," remarked Charley's father.  "And it's too
late for even Grigsby's boa constrictor to help us out."

Maria seemed to have understood, for he grunted, encouragingly: "Go
ahead!  Ever'body go ahead!"  And tacked on a sentence in Spanish.

"Maria says they'll paddle all night," translated Charley's father, for
Charley.  "That will help, but I expect a lot of other fellows will do
the same."

"Well, we can do the best we're able," spoke Mr. Grigsby.  "I reckon
we'll get thar.  The river's falling.  That'll help."

By the looks of the water-line on the banks, this was so.  Maria and
Francisco made good progress, as they cunningly took advantage of every
eddy.  Speedily the village of Gatun disappeared in the heavy foliage
behind, and once more the dug-out was afloat in the tropical wilderness.

The river was extremely crooked, and in spots was swift; and Maria and
Francisco worked like Trojans to gain a few miles.  (Of course there
was no Gatun Lake here yet.  The Chagres had not been dammed for any
Panama Canal, but flowed in a course between high green hills bordered
with lagoons.)

About noon another little hut village appeared in a clearing on the
right bank.  This was Dos Hermanos (Two Brothers), where people who
left Gatun early in the morning usually stopped for breakfast, and
their boatmen stopped for gossip.  But Maria only shook his head at
sight of it, and he and Francisco paused in their paddling not an
instant.  So Dos Hermanos faded from view, behind.

How they worked, those two boatmen--the _muchos caballeros_ (much
gentlemen) as they claimed to be!  And certainly white boatmen never
could have served more faithfully.  Maria no longer sang his funny
"Yankee Doodle Doo."  He and Francisco saved their breath, while the
perspiration rolled from them in streams.  All day they paddled,
pausing only twice for a bano, or bath.  Other villages were passed,
and one or two ranches; and in due time the sun set and dusk flowed
down from the densely green hills.

With one accord Maria and Francisco swung the canoe in to the nearest
bank, and tethered it to a leaning tree.  Maria spoke in Spanish, and
shrugging his shoulders, wearily stretched.

"Rest for two hours, and eat, is it?" quoth Mr. Grigsby, likewise
stretching, and then standing up.  "All right.  These boys have earned
it."

They certainly had.  Still none of the gold seekers' flotilla ahead had
been sighted, but assuredly some of the lead had been cut down.  As for
the long-nosed man's canoe, its four paddlers probably had kept it in
the fore, and there was not much chance of overtaking it.  Charley was
rather glad.  Maria and Francisco seemed to be so angry that there was
no telling what they might not do to the men who had cut them adrift.
And his father and Mr. Grigsby were to be reckoned with, too!

The forest on either side darkened rapidly.  New birds and animals
issued, for the night, and filled the jungle with strange, new cries.
The river also was alive with splashes, from fish and reptile and beast
unseen.  But after they all had eaten supper of bananas and cold pork
and cold plantains, washed down with cocoanut milk, Maria and Francisco
laid themselves out in the boat, and slept.  Their three passengers
nodded and waited.

In two hours precisely the faithful boatmen awakened.  Francisco
lighted a pitchy torch and stuck it upright in the bows.  Then the boat
was shoved out, he and Maria resumed their paddles, and on they all
went, up the river again.

This was a fascinating voyage.  Great birds and beetles and bats
swooped for the torch, and fled; fish leaped before the prow; and from
the jungle on right and left harsh voices clamored in alarm.  Charley,
perched in the bows by the torch, which flared almost in his face,
peered and listened.  The ruddy light cut a little circle on the water,
and shone on the dark, glistening forms of the two boatmen, and on the
staring faces of Mr. Grigsby and Mr. Adams, sitting amidships.

The night seemed to be growing darker.  Over the forest, on the right
before, lightning was glimmering, and there was the low growl of
thunder.

"Going to get wet," announced Mr. Grigsby.  "It rains at least once
every twenty-four hours, at this season."

Maria and Francisco exchanged a few sentences in Spanish and doubled
their efforts.  The dug-out surged along, but even when it was close to
a bank the trees could scarcely be seen in the blackness.

"Well, Charley," called his father, "if we don't reach Peña Blanca
(that was the next village, and the name meant White Rock) in time we
are liable to get wet."

"Hark!" bade Mr. Grigsby.  "Somebody's shouting."

Maria and Francisco had heard, also, for they rested on their paddles a
moment, to listen.  Again came the new sound--a shrill, prolonged cry
wafting across the velvety river.  Francisco looked back inquiringly at
the two men amidships.

"Go over," said Mr. Adams, with motion of hand.  "Somebody's hailing
us."

Maria whooped loudly, and was answered.  The dug-out turned, and
slanted across the current.

Not a thing could be seen.  The torch flared low, for a chill, damp
breeze began to blow, in fitful fashion, heralding the storm.  Maria
whooped at intervals, and back came the cry in reply.

"They sound right ahead," spoke Mr. Grigsby.  "Easy, boys."

"I see them!  I see them!" exclaimed Charley.  A lightning flash more
vivid than any of the glimmers preceding had lighted the river with
dazzling white; and peering intently he had seen a boat, with dark
figures in it, limned not one hundred feet before.  "They're straight
in front--people in a boat."

"Hello!" now was wafted the shout, in English.  "This way."

Maria and Francisco paddled slowly, awaiting another lightning flash.
It came, disclosing the other boat only a few canoe lengths away.
Maria and Francisco paddled cautiously; the lightning flashes were
frequent, as if the storm was about to break, and the two boats could
see one another constantly.

"What's the matter here?" demanded Mr. Adams, as Maria and Francisco
held the dug-out a paddle's distance from the stranger boat.  By the
flare of the dying torch, and the flashes of the lightning, this was
revealed as a native canoe, with two boatmen and two passengers.

"Be careful," warned a white man's voice.  "We're hung up here on a
snag, and need help.  We've been here five hours, and not a boat would
stop to lend a hand.  If you've the hearts of men you'll stand by and
give us a lift.  Our boatmen are worn out, and one of us is sick as a
dog."

"Well, sir, you can depend on us," assured Mr. Adams.  "We're probably
in the biggest hurry of all, but we're not brutes.  Let's see what's to
be done."  He spoke to Maria in Spanish, and Maria and Francisco began
to chatter with the other boatmen.

"We've sprung a leak, too," said the spokesman in the wrecked canoe.
"It keeps two of us bailing.  I won't leave my partner.  He's too sick
to swim.  Cholera, I might as well tell you.  Can you take us aboard?"

"We'll try," replied Mr. Adams.  "Much baggage?"

"We've thrown the baggage over, or else we wouldn't be on top.  All we
ask is to get to Peña Blanca or some nearer place if there is any; and
we'll pay your price."

"There's no price, sir," said Mr. Adams, firmly.  "We can take them in,
can't we, Grigsby?"

"You bet," responded Mr. Grigsby.  "They can count on us some way or
other.  I'd not desert friend or stranger in distress for all the gold
in California."

"Thanks later, then," spoke the other, shortly.  "But our torch is out,
there's a foot of water in the bottom, and if that storm breaks on us
we'll be swamped.  Fetch your boat alongside, will you?"

His tone was the tone of authority, as if he had been accustomed to
command.  Mr. Adams delivered a sentence to Maria; and the dug-out was
carefully worked in to the wrecked boat.  Now edge to edge they
floated.  The other boat was hard and fast on a sunken tree, and a
sharp branch had jabbed clear through the bottom.

"My partner first," bade the man.  "We'll have to lift him.  He's far
gone."

While the boatmen held the two crafts together by the gunwales, the
helpless form, swathed in a blanket, was passed across and propped
beside Maria in the stern.  Then in stepped a short, stout, red-faced
man, and the two boatmen nimbly followed, with their paddles.

The dug-out was weighted almost to the gunwale by the new load, and
Charley caught his breath, in dismay.  But she ceased sinking, and
still floated.

"Cast off," bade the short man, brusquely.  "Thank God," he breathed,
wiping his brow.  "I guess we'll make it now, storm or no storm.  My
boys will help paddle."

With an exclamation all together Maria and Francisco and the two new
boatmen dipped their paddles, as the two boats parted; and the dug-out
leaped ahead.

"My name is Captain Crosby.  I'm a sailor, from Boston," the stranger
introduced himself.

Mr. Adams explained who they were.  Captain Crosby continued:

"I've followed the sea all my life, since I was a small boy, and this
is one of the narrowest escapes I've ever had, afloat or ashore.  If it
hadn't been for you, my mate and I would have been drowned, or would
have died in the jungle.  As for those cowardly whelps who passed us
by--faugh!  Each one left us to the boat behind.  Fiji Islanders would
have had more heart than that.  It was the cholera that scared 'em."

"I'm afraid your partner's very sick," commented Mr. Adams.  And
indeed, lying limp and unconscious, wrapped in the blanket, his
features pinched and white in the glare of lightning and flare of
torch, the partner certainly looked to Charley to be a very sick man.

"Yes, sir.  He'll not recover.  I've seen cholera before.  But I'll
stay with him to the last, and then I'll bury him.  Seems to me you're
late on the up-river trip, aren't you?"

"We are.  But evidently there was a purpose in it," responded Mr.
Adams.  "Things work out for the best, in this world."

"You'll not lose by it, sir," asserted Captain Crosby.  "Wait and see.
You'll not lose by it.  I've something up my sleeve.  But now the main
thing to be done is to land us and be rid of us."

That may have been so; in fact, it behooved them all to land, if the
approaching storm's bite was as bad as its bark.  The torch flickered
and went out; but the lightning was light enough, illuminating river
and wooded shores with blinding violet blazes.  The bellow of the
thunder was terrific--and while the four boatmen heaved with their
paddles and encouraged each other with shrill cries, in a solid line
down swept the first sheet of rain.

In an instant Charley was drenched to the skin.  So were the other
passengers, and the stinging drops lashed the bare bodies of the
paddlers.  The water swiftly gathered in the boat, so that Mr. Grigsby
and the captain began to bail with gourds kept handy for the purpose.
But, hurrah!  There, on the near shore ahead, was another little
village, Peña Blanca, its low huts showing dimly through the spume of
the storm.  Straight for it made the canoe--hit the sloping bank, and
stuck while out stumbled the passengers, the captain shouldering his
partner.

Francisco ran ahead, to show the way; and calling, dived in through the
doorway of a hut larger than its neighbors.  Charley followed, and in
they all scurried.  The other boatmen had stayed behind to spread
rubber blankets over the baggage.



IX

TIT FOR TAT

Francisco spoke to the family in the hut, and rising, one of them
lighted a candle.  It was a two-story hut, and quarters were engaged in
the up-stairs room for the three in Charley's party; while Captain
Crosby and the sick man were given a place on the ground-floor.

The up-stairs was entered by a ladder.  There was nothing better to be
done than to sleep in wet clothes; and Charley, on his grass mat, was
just beginning to be drowsy and fairly comfortable, and barely heard
his father say to Mr. Grigsby: "We ought to pull out at daybreak, but
that depends on what we can do for the captain," when the captain
himself came poking up through the hole in the floor.

"Hello!" he said.  "It's Crosby.  Are you awake?"

"Yes, sir.  What's wanted?"

"Nothing, thank you.  I suppose you'd like to get away early."

"As early as possible, captain.  But we're at your service."

"Your time is valuable now, gentlemen.  Mine isn't.  If you're going to
catch the _California_, you haven't a moment to waste."

"We'll miss the _California_, rather than leave you in the lurch."

"You'll not miss her, if you make an early start and go right on
through.  I told you you wouldn't lose by your kindness to my mate and
me, and you won't.  I stay here; you go on whenever you choose."

"No, sir," said Mr. Adams.  "If we can help you any we'll stay by you."

"I stop here," announced the captain.  "As for my mate, he stops, too.
He'll never travel again.  Tomorrow I bury him.  He's gone, making his
last trip, and I expect he's landed in a better port than _California_.
What I do next I don't know.  Go back to Chagres, maybe.  At any rate,
here's his ticket from Panama up to San Francisco."  By the flicker of
the storm, now retreating, Captain Crosby was revealed groping across
the floor, and extending a folded paper.

"What's that for?" demanded Mr. Adams.

"You're to take it and use it.  Sell it, is my advice.  You can get six
hundred or more dollars for it, at Panama."

"I'll take and sell it, if you say so; but I'll send you the money.
Your friend's family ought to have that."

"My mate had no kin alive.  I don't want the money, and I know him well
enough to know that he'd want you to have it.  Yes, I understand that
you didn't help us out for pay--you or any in your party.  This isn't
pay; it's just a little tit for tat.  Sell that ticket and divide the
proceeds among you, not omitting the boy.  It may tide you over a tight
place, just as you tided us over a tight place.  You see, the ticket's
no good to me.  And now there's another thing or two, before we part.
You've run a big chance of getting left; and even if you reach Panama
in time for the steamer, you're liable to find her full up ere that.
Here's a note I've written to Captain Flowers, of the _California_.
He's an old ship-mate of mine.  I sailed with him before I got my
papers, and we're as close as brothers.  He's expecting me, at Panama,
and he'd hold the ship for me, if possible.  I've asked him to take
your party on instead, and he'll do so even if he has to give up his
own cabin.  My two boatmen will ship with your craft and help your boys
up-river from here to Cruces.  There they'll find you the mules to
carry you on to Panama.  Without these fellows you might have
difficulty to find any mules, for the crowd in advance probably has
hired every tassel-tail in sight.  But I'm known all along the trail
from Chagres to Panama; I've been across time and again, and I have my
lines laid.  Now I think you're fixed for a quick passage."

"But, my dear man!" exclaimed Mr. Adams.  "This is too much.  We can't
accept----"

"It isn't, and you can," retorted the captain, bluntly.  "I'm not
inconveniencing myself a particle, whereas your party took a risk.  Now
good-bye and good luck to you, gentlemen; and the same to you, my lad.
Here are the documents.  You'll find my boatmen with your boatmen in
the morning.  There'll not be much time to say good-bye then, if you
start as early as I think you'll start.  I'll leave word for you to be
called at four o'clock."

So saying, the bluff captain shook hands all around, declined to listen
to further thanks, and ducked back down the ladder.

"There's a good turn repaying another in short order," remarked Mr.
Grigsby.  "If we help somebody else off a snag we're likely to have a
whole ship put at our disposal!"

"Well, don't look for _that_," laughed Mr. Adams.  "I'd help the next
man anyway."

"Certainly," agreed the Frémonter.  "So would I."

And Charley sleepily determined that he would, also.  But anyway, the
future looked bright again.

"We ought to reach Cruces to-morrow, and Panama the day after,"
remarked Mr. Adams; which were the last words that Charley heard until
he was shaken by the shoulder and his father's voice was saying: "All
right, Charley.  Time to start."

The interior of the room was not yet pink with very early morning.
Charley stiffly scrambled to his feet, and followed his father down the
ladder, and through the room below--treading carefully so as not to
disturb the sleepers there.  Mr. Grigsby already was out; and if
Captain Crosby was awake he pretended to be asleep so as to avoid more
thanks!

A little fire blazed on the river bank, near the boat.  The boatmen had
made coffee and boiled some rice in cocoa-milk for the breakfast, so
that within fifteen minutes the boat was headed up-stream, on the spurt
for Cruces.

Now urged by four paddlers instead of two, it fairly flew, cleaving the
current while the dim shores and water grew lighter.  The mountain
divide ahead was gradually drawing closer, and all the country along
the stream seemed steeper.  One by one ranches were passed which in the
midst of cleared forest and jungle looked more prosperous than the
ranches of the lower river.

Well it was that the boat was equipped with four boatmen, for the
current ran very swift off the high hills, and contained several rapids
where two of the men--yes, and once all four of them--had to shove with
poles.  They constantly chewed sections of sugar-cane cut from an
armful that had been tossed in at Peña Blanca.  Charley tried the same
stunt, and found that the sugar-cane juice was good for a lunch.

Shortly after noon the course made a long turn about the foot of a
mighty, rounded hill, standing alone.  Great trees clustered thickly to
its top; and here, high above all, up rose a single straight palm, like
a plume in the crown of a noble chief.  The boatmen spoke, one to
another, and Francisco pointed.

"There you are, Charley," said Mr. Adams.  "That's Mount Carabali.  It
used to be a lookout for Indians and pirates.  From that palm you can
see both the Atlantic and the Pacific.  We're about ten miles from
Cruces."

In four miles more a large village called Gorgona was passed.  During
half the year this was the place where people crossing the Isthmus
changed from boat to mule-back, but during the other half Cruces, six
miles above, was the junction.  (As for old Gorgona, to-day it has been
swallowed, the most of it, by the greedy Gatun Lake of the big canal.)

Above Gorgona about two miles the Chagres River, whose course had
mainly been east and west, turned sharply to the left, while a fork
called the Obispo River continued on toward the Pacific.  (Here,
to-day, at the forks, the Gatun Lake ends, after swallowing Gorgona,
and the celebrated Culebra Cut proceeds on west into the mountains,
making a path for the great canal, with Panama only fifteen miles away.
However, in 1849 and for many years afterward, the Panama Canal across
the Isthmus was not visible to the eye.  There was no Gatun Lake and no
Culebra Cut; there was only the beautiful, tricky Chagres River,
flowing between its high jungly banks and divided, above Gorgona, where
the Obispo entered.) So the canoe carrying Charley and his party turned
south up the Chagres, and toiled on, amidst rugged green walls, to
Cruces, at last.

Las Cruces (The Place of Crosses) was situated on the west bank of the
Chagres, and as the canoe approached appeared to be a village of much
importance.  As Charley had heard, it had been a famous old town,
connected with Panama by a paved stone road called the Royal Road, over
which treasure of gold and silver and pearls was borne by slaves and
mules and horses, on the way from the Pacific to the Atlantic at Porto
Bello and Nombre de Dios.  Yes, and in 1670 Las Cruces was captured by
the pirates of Henry Morgan (Morgan the Buccaneer, who sacked the whole
Isthmus), on their way overland to attack Panama.

As the canoe grounded, old Cruces, with its regulation thatched cane
huts and a few--very few--wooden buildings, looked sleepy enough in the
late afternoon sunlight, as if treasure-trains and pirates and even
those other gold seekers, the California Forty-niners, never had been
here.  One of Captain Crosby's boatmen, named Angel (and a queer black
angel he was!), sprang nimbly ashore, to proceed on "up town."  The
other boatmen hauled the canoe higher.

"Angel's gone to find the mules," explained Mr. Adams, as all
disembarked, glad to stretch their legs.  "There's not an animal in
sight; that's sure.  The crowd ahead of us cleaned out the place."

"They didn't all get away, though.  See the tents, yonder?" spoke Mr.
Grigsby; for three tents had been pitched, not far back from the river,
on the edge of the town.

Francisco saw, too, and shook his head vehemently, as did his comrades.

"Muy malo.  Colera--mucha colera.  Cuidado  (Very bad.  Cholera--much
cholera.  Be careful)," he said.

"Shouldn't wonder," muttered Mr. Adams.

"I'll go over," volunteered Mr. Grigsby, "and see if we can do
anything."  Shouldering his faithful rifle, the tall Frémonter strode
for the tents.

When he returned he reported that Francisco had guessed truly: the
tents held sick gold seekers, laid by with the dreaded cholera.  But in
a couple of more tents, beyond, were some engineers on a survey for the
new Panama railroad.  They had insisted that every horse and mule in
the region had been gobbled by the gold-seeker crowd, and that the
Adams party must wait for several days, at least, until the pack trains
returned from Panama.  However, here came Angel, grinning, and
beckoning.  He called shrilly; whereupon the three other boatmen
promptly shouldered the baggage and started for him.

"Angel evidently has fixed us out," asserted Mr. Adams, as with Charley
and Mr. Grigsby he followed.

"If he has he deserves his name," answered the Frémonter.

Angel led the way straight through the hot town, where the natives
stared languidly at the little procession, to a large plantation
beyond.  Here, in a clearing devoted to maize and sugar-cane, amidst
bananas and plantains and palms, and huge acacias laden with fragrant
yellow blossoms, was nestled a white wooden house, two storied,
encircled with porch and wide upper veranda.  A path of white crushed
shells led through luxuriant flowers to the front porch, where somebody
was lying in a hammock.  Charley felt rather awed, for this evidently
was a wealthy ranch, belonging to cultured people.

As the party approached, crunching over the walk, the person in the
hammock rolled out, to receive them.  He proved to be a stout, heavy
man, in loose white trousers, slippers, and white shirt.  His
complexion was swarthy, a magnificent black beard covered his chin and
cheeks, and he plainly was a Spaniard.  But he spoke good English.

"Welcome, señors," he greeted, with a wave of his hand.  "I understand
you are from my good friend El Capitan Crosby.  If so, my house and all
that is mine are at your disposal--a su disposición, señors."

That was a pleasant speech, indeed.  Still, Mr. Adams, like Charley,
felt a little doubtful.

"Thank you, sir," he responded.  "Captain Crosby was kind enough to
tell us that we would find accommodations at Las Cruces, that is true.
We left him down at Peña Blanca.  But we do not wish to intrude upon
you.  Our main thought is to get to Panama; and if you know of any
mules or horses, and a guide----"

The stout man courteously interrupted.

"Enough said, with your permission, señor.  Horses and guide shall be
found, of course; and meantime you will honor me by spending the night.
You would gain nothing by attempting the trip before morning.  The
trail is bad enough, by day.  This is the Hacienda las Flores, and I am
Don Antonio de Soto.  Let your men drop your baggage, which will be
properly attended to, and be pleased to enter."

Mr. Adams introduced himself and party; and with Don Antonio refusing
to listen to any apologies, into the house they went.  It was
delightfully cool there, where the rooms were high and large and simply
furnished with cane chairs and couches.  Don Antonio's wife, the Señora
Isabella (and a beauty), came forward also to welcome them.  In white
dress, with a red rose stuck into her black hair, she took Charley's
fancy at once.  Then there was a boy, Pascal, about Charley's age--a
handsome young fellow, slim and dark, with wonderful black-brown eyes
and dazzling white teeth.  Servants glided hither-thither, to bring
glasses of lemonade and pine-apple juice, and to distribute the
bed-rooms; and when Charley found himself confronted by a real bed,
with a bath at his disposal, he thought that they all were in right
good hands.  He wished that his mother was here, too.  The Señora made
him rather homesick.  How his mother would enjoy this place!

"We noticed the tents of some of the new railroad engineers, at the
edge of town, sir," remarked Mr. Adams, at supper, where Charley,
arrayed in his last clean suit of white, found the creamy beaten cocoa,
served on a spotless table, was the most delicious thing that he had
ever tasted.  "I wonder how the work is going on."

"Excellently," responded Don Antonio.  "I believe that a partial survey
has been made clear across.  From the Atlantic end at Limon Bay the
line follows up along the right bank of the Chagres, about to Gorgona,
where it crosses and uses the old treasure-trail over Culebra Pass to
Panama."

"Then we'll see the survey, to-morrow?"

"No, señor, I fear not.  You will follow the Camina Reale (Royal Road)
from Cruces, which runs far to the northward of the other trail from
Gorgona.  But tell me, you being so lately from the United States, what
is the report upon this Panama Railroad?  The Americans are to build
it, we hear."

"Yes, sir.  A French company had the contract to cross this part of New
Granada with a railroad, but they didn't do anything, and at the
beginning of this year an American company got the right.  The company
is formed by William Henry Aspenwall, John Lloyd Stevens, and Henry
Chauncy, of New York.  The contract runs for forty-nine years from date
of completion of the road, which must be finished within six years.  No
doubt the active construction will begin this fall or winter, at Colon;
and I am glad to know that the preliminary survey is already being
made.  A railroad is badly needed."

"Ah, but the difficulties will be immense, señors," said the Dona
Isabella.  "Swamps, mountains, fevers, wild beasts, rains--!" and she
exclaimed in Spanish, with despairing gesture of her white hands.

"It will be done, if the Americans go at it," asserted Don Antonio.
"You Americans are a wonderful people.  I shall send our Pascal north,
this coming winter, to be an American.  Eh, Pascal?  He must learn
English, too.  I myself was educated at Lima, where there are many
Americans and English."

"If I was going to be home you could send Pascal to St. Louis, Don
Antonio," spoke Charley, impulsively.  "Then I could show him 'round."

"He would enjoy that, I'm sure," answered Don Antonio; and Pascal, as
if understanding, smiled friendly across the table at Charley.

"Yes, sir; a year or so in the States would do him good," agreed Mr.
Grigsby.

"Our friend Captain Crosby will take care of him," said Don Antonio.
"The matter has been arranged.  And now after the railroad," he
continued, "will come the ship canal, no doubt.  That will be a still
greater undertaking."

Mr. Adams nodded.

"Yes, I believe you.  A canal across this Isthmus of Darien, as the old
navigators termed it, has been talked of ever since 1520, when Charles
the Fifth of Spain ordered a survey made.  I expect to live to see the
railroad completed; whether I or you or any of us here will see a
canal, I don't know.  But there'll be one; there'll be one."

That evening, after supper, Dona Isabella played charmingly on the
guitar, while amidst the shrubbery before the house the enormous
fire-flies made long streaks of light or blazed like jewels on leaf and
twig.  With the graceful Pascal Charley chased and captured some.
Pascal had a wicker cage partly full of them, and used it as a lantern.
He lent it to Charley to go to bed by!

From the chase Charley returned to the porch in time to hear Don
Antonio discussing the road to Panama.

"The distance is twenty miles," he said, "and must be made in daylight.
The old road is not what it was in the time of golden Panama, when it
was kept open by the treasure trains.  I would not hurry you,
gentlemen, but you should start early in the morning, for this is our
rainy season and you are liable to be delayed."

"It is a paved road, you say, sir?" queried Mr. Adams.

"After a fashion," smiled Don Antonio, "but laid more than 300 years
ago.  From Panama to Cruces it was paved with flat stones, and was made
wide enough for two carts to pass one another.  That, too, señors, was
a great undertaking, through the jungle and over the mountains, and
hundreds of poor natives died at the work.  Ah, what millions in gold
and silver and precious stones, to enrich us Spaniards, have traveled
that long road all the way from the Pacific to the Atlantic!  The
portion between Cruces and Panama has been kept open the longest, for
soon after the completion of the whole vessels began to ply back and
forth between Cruces and Chagres, and the lower road was not so much
used."

"You spoke of animals for our use to-morrow," suggested Mr. Adams.

"They shall be ready, señor.  We at the Hacienda las Flores do not need
to keep horses and mules for hire, but I have plenty for my friends."

"We wish to pay for their use, sir," spoke Mr. Adams, quickly.  "We
would not think of accepting them, otherwise.  That is only fair.
Isn't it so, Grigsby?"

"I say the same," agreed the Frémonter.

Don Antonio politely bowed.

"In that case," he answered, "I shall yield.  The regular hire from
Cruces to Panama is ten dollars each for the riding animals, and six
dollars for each 100 pounds of freight.  However, the animals ate at
your disposal without price, if you permit me.  With the packers and
guide you can settle among yourselves."

Lighted to bed by his firefly lantern, that night Charley slept between
sheets, under a mosquito-net canopy.  He slept soundly, but he dreamed
of being a pirate, and capturing a long treasure train of mules piled
high with golden bars and shining pearls and rubies on the way from old
Panama.



X

ALMOST LEFT BEHIND

Don Antonio proved as good as his word.  After the early breakfast, at
which all the family hospitably presided, back of the house were found
waiting three saddle horses, and two bullocks for pack animals.  The
trunk was balanced on the broad back of one bullock, and firmly lashed
there; considerable of a trick it was, too, to fasten it in place on
the rolling hide, but Don Antonio's packers did the job in short order.
On the other bullock were lashed the bedding rolls.  Now there remained
only to bid good-bye to host and hostess, pay off Maria and Francisco,
thank everybody, mount and follow the guide to Panama.

Maria and Francisco refused to accept anything extra for their faithful
services; so did Angel and Ambrosio, Captain Crosby's boatmen.  They
shook their heads.  "No, we may be black, but we are very much
gentlemen.  When Americans treat us right, we treat them right," they
asserted.

"It is well that you have no ladies in your party," vouchsafed Don
Antonio.  "The trip is hard for ladies, señors.  They must either ride
astride, through rain and mud, or trust themselves to chairs upon the
backs of natives.  _Sellero_ do we call that kind of a contrivance."

And when Charley had seen the road, he was rather glad, after all, that
his mother had not come.  However, as Don Antonio remarked, "women had
gone that way, and many others probably would do the same."  Charley
felt certain that his mother could get through, if any woman could!
She was spunky.

The horses were thin, scrawny fellows, so small that Charley himself
stood higher than they.  On the other hand, the saddles were
prodigious; they covered the little animals completely, and the large
wooden stirrups nearly grazed the ground.  It seemed to Charley that
the saddle alone was weight enough for such horses; but when at word
from his father he cautiously mounted into the seat, his horse appeared
not to mind.  With its high horn and cantle, the saddle fitted like a
chair.  To fall off would be hard--which was one good thing, at least.

So they started; the guide (who was a real Indian) walking barefoot
before, Mr. Adams, Mr. Grigsby and Charley riding in single file after,
the two pack bullocks plodding behind, and another Indian, to drive
them, trudging at the rear of all.

The narrow trail led first through a large tract of sugar-cane growing
much higher than one's head, and forming a thick, rustling green wall
on either side.  As the little cavalcade proceeded, the Indian guide,
who wore a peaked plaited straw hat called jipijapa, a pair of white
cotton pantaloons, and a heavy-bladed knife--a machete--hanging at his
waist, with his machete occasionally slashed off a cane, to suck.

Suddenly the trail left the cane, and plunged into the jungle; and for
most of this day the party did not see the sun again.  Here the guide
did a queer thing: he halted a moment, took off his pantaloons and hung
them about his neck.  Evidently this was the sign that the plantation
and town had been left behind!

The horses' hoofs clattered and slipped; and looking down, Charley saw
that he was riding over a rude pavement, made by flat stones embedded
in the soft soil.  This, then, was the ancient Royal Road--the Treasure
Trail from Panama!  The stones were tilted and sunken and covered with
mud; a thicket of plants and brush crowded either edge, and gigantic
trees, enveloped with flowering vines, towered over, forming an emerald
archway through which a few faint sunbeams filtered to fleck the way.
Monkeys swung from branch to branch, and jabbered and gathered
cocoanuts and other fruit; gayly colored parrots flew screaming, or
hung upside down and screamed.  The whole dense forest was alive with
strange animals and strange cries.  Charley's eyes and ears were
constantly on the alert.  He was having a great experience.

Ever the old road led on.  In places it disappeared, swallowed by mud
and vegetation.  There were numerous holes, where the stones had sunk
or been displaced; and picking their way the tough little horses and
the panting bullocks floundered to their knees.  The trail seemed to be
climbing; it also was growing rougher.  It crossed dank, dark ravines;
skirted their sides; and wound along the rim of precipices so deep that
the sight made Charley dizzy.

Toward noon the customary daily thunderstorm descended.  So they halted
under a spreading plantain tree, whose leaves, broader even than banana
leaves, really were very good umbrellas.  Here they ate their lunch,
too.

The rain made traveling worse, and worse waxed the old road.

"I vow!" exclaimed Mr. Adams, as his small horse staggered and almost
fell on a steep, slippery place.  "This is as bad as storming the City
of Mexico.  How do you like it, Grigsby?"

"I thought I'd seen bad trails, on some of my overland trips with
Frémont, but this beats them all."

Several times dead mules, perhaps with their necks broken, were passed;
and frequently were passed trunks and other baggage, thrown aside, all
of which showed that this trail of the old fortune-hunters was now the
trail of the new fortune-hunters, also, bound for California.

"We must be on top of the range," presently remarked Mr. Grigsby.
"Feels like it, anyhow."

Scarcely had he spoken, when on a sudden the trail emerged from the
forest, to creep along the face of another precipice.  The path was
only a ledge jutting out not more than three feet from the solid wall
hung with vines; at the edge was a sheer drop of thousands of feet--or
maybe not more than 2000, but to Charley, whose left foot hung over the
drop, it looked like 20,000.

The horses trod gingerly, with ears pricked, carefully avoiding
scraping the wall lest they be forced over.  This was wise, but not
pleasant for the riders.  Behind, the bullocks snorted.  Gazing off,
Charley saw what might have been a whole world spread beneath him:
league after league of rolling, misty green, where the jungle was
dwarfed by distance so that it looked like a lawn!  Above it circled
and circled huge vultures; and although these were high in the air, he
and his party were higher yet!

"I smell salt water!" exclaimed Mr. Grigsby.  "We're at the Pacific
slope!"

Charley sniffed; he heard his father sniffing; but he must admit that
Mr. Grigsby's nose was better than theirs.  Now the trail entered
another jungly forest, and it certainly led down instead of up, as if
indeed they had crossed the divide.  Hurrah!

However, the journey was not done, by any means.  The road grew worse
still, as if the rain here had been harder.  Making a misstep, down
slipped Charley's horse from the trail, over the edge of a clay bank,
and landed on his side twenty feet below.  Charley sprawled on his face
in mud and rotted branches.

[Illustration: Down slipped Charley's horse from the trail]

"Hurt?" called his father.

"No, sir," answered Charley, grabbing the lines; and pulling his horse
along, he struggled to the trail again.  He was not hurt, but he was a
sight to behold.  The only thing to do was to laugh, and go on.

"Yes, boys; I smell salt water," insisted Mr. Grigsby.  "And," he
added, "I'll be mighty glad to see it."

The paving was now so bad that the horses and bullocks preferred
walking at one side, following little paths that made long cuts and
short cuts through the brush.  These paths were so narrow that the
riders had to clutch tight and bend low, or be swept from their
saddles.  But there was no use in trying to guide those little horses,
who seemed to know what they wanted.  Soon Charley and the others were
wringing wet, from the rain-soaked trees and bushes.  This was part of
the game, but Charley was beginning to feel tired and cross.  Still, he
wouldn't have missed the trip for anything.  He'd have a lot to tell
Billy Walker, when they met in the gold fields.

It was late afternoon when the Indian guide (whose name was Pablo)
stopped short, at a mud puddle, washed his feet, and put on his
pantaloons!

"Hurrah!" cheered Mr. Adams.  "That means Panama.  Pablo's dressing.
And now I do smell the ocean, and no mistake."

"I've been smelling it for hours," reminded Mr. Grigsby.

Yes, the smell of ocean was in the air!  Charley recognized it.  It
smelled the same as the Atlantic, but of course it must be from the
Pacific.  And within a few minutes the road had broadened; huts began
to appear, alongside.  Through an opening, ahead, were disclosed
buildings of stone--a crumbling old church, almost covered with vines,
was passed--and beyond appeared a wide stretch of beautiful blue: the
Pacific Ocean!

Amidst ranches and huts and buildings of white wood and weather-beaten
stone; on a broad level road crowded with people light and dark, and
horses and mules and goats, and fringed with palms and bananas and
plantains, oranges, cactuses, citrons, magnolias and acacias, crossing
an old moat or wide ditch, through an arched gateway in a thick stone
wall the belated little party entered famous Panama.  Over the broad
Pacific the sun hung low, and in the harbor, about a mile and a half
from the end of a street which gave the view, lay a large black steamer
with smoke welling from her stacks.

"That must be the _California_," exclaimed Mr. Adams, quickly.  "She
has steam up."

"I reckon," said Mr. Grigsby, peering keenly, "we're just in time."

What a bustling city was this Panama!  And what a number of Americans
were here!  The buildings, of stone, wood, and clay, were two and three
stories high, with iron balconies bordering the upper stories.  By the
open doors of some of the houses Charley caught glimpses, through the
halls, of charming flowery courts within, where fountains played.  The
air was sweet with many scents and the fresh sea breeze.  The
narrow-paved street down which Pablo proudly led his procession was
well crowded with animals and men--the latter being of all
nationalities.  Spaniards in peaked hats and long velvet cloaks,
Indians and other bare-footed natives, and many foreigners, speaking
English, and clad in white linen, or miners' costume, or even
broadcloth.

As the party threaded their way through the strange gathering, hails
constantly reached them.

"Where you from?"

"Hello, Georgians!"

"Say, you're too late for the _California_."

"You needn't hurry, misters."

"How's the trail?"

"Oh, misters!  Got a ticket to San Francisco?"

And so forth, and so forth.

The street opened into a large public square, or plaza, surrounded by
stores and fruit stands, and supplied with benches under the palms and
magnolias.  On three sides the streets gave views of the ocean.  Many
people were lounging about, but it was no place to stop and rest, for
_this_ party.  No, not when the favorite hail said, "You're too late,"
and when, as emphasis, there lay the _California_ with smoking stacks.

"We'd better go right on down to the beach, Grigsby, hadn't we?"
queried Mr. Adams; and he spoke shortly to Pablo, directing him.

So they crossed the plaza (where several tents had been erected by
stranded gold seekers), and took another street which led straight
through a gateway in a crumbling wall to the water.

Panama was built upon a long point, and the ocean washed it on three
sides, bordered by a beautiful sandy beach unbroken by wharves or
piers.  Line after line of surf came rolling in, the last line
shattered by the shallows before it reached the shore.  Southward were
high mountains, veiled in mist.  Far out across the white-flecked blue
rose green islands.  Between the islands and the curving shore lay
several ships at anchor--one of them the _California_.  Just beyond the
inner line of surf were stationed a regular flotilla of canoes; their
boatmen were lounging about on the beach, alert for passengers, and at
sight of the little procession of travelers filing down they made a
grand rush.

"This way, señors!"

"One _medio_ to big ship, señors."

"My canoe biggest."

"Try me, señors.  Ver' hones'."

"No.  I hones', señors."

Plainly enough the only way to get out to the _California_ was by
canoe.  Mr. Adams tried to make himself heard.  More gold seekers were
loafing and waiting on the beach; and these added their shouts and
advice to the clamor of the boatmen.

"Going out to the _California_, strangers?" demanded a red-shirted man,
pushing his way through the uproar.

"Yes."

"No use.  She won't take you.  She's full up and all ready to sail.
Don't listen to these boatmen.  All they want is a fare.  You might
just as well unpack, and wait for the next boat, like the rest of us."

"We'll go out, anyhow," declared Mr. Adams.  He picked on one of the
jostling boatmen--a yellow fellow with a tiny moustache and earrings.
"Two boats," he said, holding up two fingers.  "The _California_."

"Si, si," nodded the boatman.  He beckoned to a partner, who sprang to
help him; and the remainder of the boatmen calmly dispersed and sat
down again.

Pablo and the packer began to unlash the luggage from the bullocks, and
following the example of his father and Mr. Grigsby, Charley stiffly
dismounted.  Immediately the yellow boatman stooped and motioned to
Charley to climb aboard his back.

"We'll have to be carried out to the canoes, Charley," spoke his
father.  "They can't come inshore.  Hurry up."

But at this instant there was another interruption.  "You are
Americans, aren't you, gentlemen?  Then will you help another American?
I hate to ask it, but I've got to."

He was a young man, of not more than twenty-one or two, exceedingly
thin and sallow.  Otherwise he would have been good-looking.  His voice
and manner were refined.

"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Adams.

"My name is Motte.  I'm flat broke.  I came through a month ago; was
taken with cholera and robbed.  I sent my wife on, by kindness of other
strangers; and I've been here ever since, waiting for a chance and
trying to get work.  She's up in San Francisco, alone, and what's
happened to her I don't know.  There are 300 people here now, sir,
waiting for the next vessel, and tickets are selling at from six
hundred to a thousand dollars!  If in any way you can take me along
with your party, I'll do anything in the world."  He choked with his
earnestness.  "I hate to beg--but I _must_ get to my wife.  I'll pay
you back at my first opportunity.  There's work at the gold fields,
they say.  I--I----" and he choked again.

"We can't stand here talking," said Mr. Adams.  "We must catch that
steamer.  Come along out with us, and we'll talk on the way."

Charley clung pickaninny fashion to the back of the yellow boatman, who
waded with him into the surf.  This was great sport.  Staggering and
slipping, and wet almost to his shoulders by a swell, the boatman
landed Charley in one of two canoes that were being held ready.  Mr.
Adams was landed in the same way; so was young Mr. Motte.  Into the
other canoe were plumped Mr. Grigsby and the baggage.  The
canoes--larger and heavier than those other dug-outs used on the
Chagres--were swung about and pointed out for the steamer.  The smoke
from her stacks seemed thicker, as if she was on the very point of
leaving her anchorage.  Charley, anxiously gazing, imagined that he
could see her move!  Oh, thunder!  Were they to be left behind, after
all?  It was a long way, yet, to the steamer, and although Mr. Adams
urged the two paddlers to hurry, the canoes appeared only to creep.

But line after line of surf they skilfully surmounted--first rising
high, then sliding down, down, upon the other side, to meet the next
line.  Gradually the shore receded; the white and gray buildings of
Panama, set amidst bright green, against the background of great Ancon
peak, outspread wonderfully behind the ruined battlements of the old
wall that fronted the harbor.  And the _California_, smoking as if to
bid "Hurry!" still waited.  Gangway stairs were still lowered, down her
side; and Charley kept his eyes on these.  If they were hauled in, then
that would be a bad sign.  Meanwhile Mr. Adams talked with the young
man, who impressed Charley more and more as being honest.  Mr. Adams
was convinced of the fact, also, for he said:

"All right.  If they'll take us on the ship you can come along with us,
and welcome; can't he, Charley?  If they won't, we'll see what else is
to be done."

Presently the black steamer loomed over.  From her high rails hundreds
of faces were peering curiously down; and the captain himself, in
uniform, was standing at the head of the stairs.  He did not look
pleased, as the two canoes reached the stairs.

"Hello!" he bawled.  "You can't come aboard.  What do you want?"

"We want to go to San Francisco," replied Mr. Adams.

"You can't do it, in this ship.  We're full up.  Stand clear; we're
pulling out."  And Charley, to his dismay, heard the clank of the
anchor chains.

"One minute!  Just one minute!" shouted up Mr. Adams, standing and
waving his letter.  "I have a note for Captain Flowers."

"Come aboard with it quick, then.  But you can't stay," ordered the man
above.  And up the stairs hastened Mr. Adams.

The captain snatched the letter without ceremony (and as if he was very
cross), opened it and read it.  Watching anxiously, as the canoes rose
and fell on the waves at the foot of the stairs, Charley could hear
most of the conversation.  The captain spoke loudly and decisively.

"Where'd you leave Crosby?"

"Back at Peña Blanca."

"I'd given him up.  His places are taken.  But I'll do the best I can
for you.  How many in your party?  Who is your extra man?"

"A young fellow I'm trying to help along."

"Does Crosby know of him?"

"No, sir, he does not," truthfully answered Mr. Adams.

"Well, you can come aboard, you and your two, but he can't.  I'll do
that much for Captain Crosby.  More I cannot do, and I positively
won't.  I'm stretching a point now.  We're overloaded already.  Hustle
your baggage in; the anchor's afloat and you've no time to lose."

"Come on, Charley, you and Grigsby," called Mr. Adams.

"Bear a hand with that baggage," bellowed the captain; and several
sailors sprang to the head of the stairs.

Mr. Adams ran rapidly down again, passing Charley, who scampering
gladly up.

"You'll have to wait over, Motte," he said.

Mr. Motte's face fell.

"All right," he muttered.

"Why don't you give him that extra ticket?" proposed Mr. Grigsby, over
his shoulder, as he followed Charley.

"I was thinking of that.  Here," Mr. Adams extended the ticket.  "That
will help you out, won't it?  We've no use for it.  It will take you to
San Francisco."

"I'll leave on the next boat, then," stammered young Mr. Motte,
flushing.  "I'll see you in San Francisco or the diggings, and pay you.
I surely will."

"No pay expected," returned Mr. Adams, now remounting the stairs, and
pressed close by the baggage.  "It was given to us; we give it to you,
and glad to do so.  Good-bye."

"Good-bye."

Charley was about to call good-bye, also, but the words died on his
lips, for almost the first face that he saw, beyond the captain, as he
gained the deck, was the face of the long-nosed man.  The long-nosed
man had touched the captain on the shoulder.



XI

CHARLEY LOSES OUT

"Who are you?" demanded the captain, brusquely.

"I'm one of your passengers; that's enough.  I've paid my money to get
to San Francisco with reasonable comfort and dispatch.  We are late
now, and overloaded, and I protest against your delaying to take more
passengers aboard."

"I'm running this ship.  You get back where you belong," ordered the
captain.

"This is a party of tramps," bawled the long-nosed man.  "They've come
off the beach with a forged letter.  I know 'em.  I'll report you to
the company.  I'll see if the United States Government won't----"

"For shame!"

"Put him out!"

"Throw him overboard!"

Cries from the other passengers interrupted him; and so did the captain.

"Here!  Chuck this fellow aft!" he called, to the sailors.  "If he
makes any more fuss, put him below and keep him there."  And he
summoned, to Mr. Adams: "Come aboard, and hurry up."

So on up the stairs clambered Charley.

"Good-bye," he called back, to young Mr. Motte.

Mr. Grigsby and Charley's father followed; and on the instant the
captain hurried to the bridge.  The steamer's paddle-wheels began to
turn; she glided ahead.

Sailors closed the rail, and Charley and his two companions were left
standing there.  Below, the two canoes fell behind.  Charley waved to
them, and was answered.

So at last they actually were off, on the last leg of their journey to
California.  It had been a narrow squeak.

"That long-nosed individual seems to prefer your absence to your
company," remarked Mr. Grigsby, leaning upon his rifle and glancing
coolly about.

"Yes.  We've some information he thinks he can use better than we can,"
answered Mr. Adams.

"You may have to deal with him pretty smartly, if he crosses your trail
many more times," observed Mr. Grigsby.

"We will, when necessary," promised Mr. Adams.  "We'll take care of
ourselves; eh, Charley?"

"Yes, sir," promptly agreed Charley.

"Very good," said Mr. Grigsby.  "As I size him up--and his two pards,
too--he'll be afraid to do much more, aboard this ship.  He's gone as
far as is safe for him.  But when you reach San Francisco, then look
out.  Meanwhile I'll help you keep an eye on him."

"Thank you, sir," responded Mr. Adams.

Out through the open Bay of Panama majestically swept the _California_;
past several small rocky islands, with some islands ahead on the left
or south which were said to be the famous Pearl Islands, where pearls
as large as filberts were found plentifully.  In about an hour stop was
made at the equally famous Island of Taboga--the most beautiful place,
as seemed to Charley, in the world.  It had a white beach; from the
beach rose long slopes of green, shaded by bananas, palms, figs,
plantains, oranges, limes--every kind of tropical growth.  And these
slopes were gayly colored with tiers of peak-roofed huts and houses, in
pink and yellow and brown and blue and red.  Along the beach were
scores of white canoes.  The people of Taboga, mostly negroes and mixed
breeds, appeared to have nothing to do but loaf about and fish and eat
and play.  It was a sort of a resort place.

At Taboga the _California_ took on fresh water, and on she steamed, for
the open sea.

Gradually the walls and houses of Panama, and even mighty Ancon Hill,
faded from view.

The captain came down from the bridge, and approached the little party.

"I'll turn over my cabin to you, for sleeping quarters," he announced,
rather more kindly than before.  "You'll all have to bunk in together,
some way, but I'll rig you up a cot.  I'll pair off with the first
mate."

"We can't permit that, sir," answered Mr. Adams, at once.  "Not a bit.
Any place on deck will do.  We slept on deck, to Chagres, and we can do
the same here."

"No, sir," and the captain spoke decisively.  "We're overloaded, and
you'll not find a spot vacant.  I'll fare very well with the mate.  I
can use the cabin daytimes, when necessary.  You must have done the
handsome thing by Crosby, and I'll return the compliment as far as
possible.  The steward will have your luggage stowed away, and show you
where you belong."

So saying, the captain left, not waiting for thanks.

The cabin, of course, was airy and convenient, and to occupy it made
Charley feel like a personage of importance.  Mr. Grigsby chose the cot
(which was to be folded away during the day), and insisted on Charley
and his father taking the berth.  After arranging their baggage, they
might stroll about and inspect the ship.

By this time the _California_ was headed well out to sea.  Evidently
the Pacific Mail Steamship Company was wealthy and progressive.  The
_California_ was much larger and finer than the _Georgia_, her decks
were scrubbed smooth and white, her brass-work highly polished, and
everything looked to be in apple-pie order.  Her table, too, proved to
be better supplied than the table on the _Georgia_.  In a large pen,
forward of the wheel-house, surrounding a platform built for the
purpose, were confined a quantity of cattle, sheep and hogs, for fresh
meat.  Every day or so several were slaughtered.  Over the upper deck
were stretched shade awnings.  Officers and crew were smart and spick
and span.

But, like the _Georgia_, the _California_ was too crowded for real
comfort.  From the steerage, below, to the first cabin or upper deck,
the passengers had occupied every kind of quarters; the sea was smooth,
so that few were seasick, but the sun beat down from directly overhead,
out of a sky almost cloudless, and even under the awnings the heat and
moisture were well-nigh unendurable.  The gold seekers who clung to
their heavy boots and trousers and flannel shorts fairly panted.

However, it was a three weeks' voyage, now, and there was no retreat.
Anyway, people said that after crossing the Tropic of Cancer, there
would be more of a breeze, and the weather would cool off rapidly, the
nearer the _California_ got to San Francisco.

The majority of the passengers had come across the Isthmus from the
_Georgia_, and Charley recognized a number of them.  The long-nosed man
and his two cronies carefully kept away from the Adams party; Charley
saw them only occasionally.  After all, they were cowards, with guilty
consciences.

"Charley," said his father, that afternoon while they were together,
"what do you think of telling Mr. Grigsby about the mysterious miner we
took care of, back home, and his Golden West mining claim?  Seems to me
Grigsby's a thoroughly honest man, he's been of great help to us, and
while he hasn't asked any questions he must be wondering why our friend
Jacobs is hounding us so."

"Yes, sir; I think he ought to know," asserted Charley.

"All right; we'll tell him to-night.  Then he'll understand the
situation, and it may save us trouble.  Besides, it's only fair.  We
don't want him to support us blindfolded."

"No, sir," agreed Charley.

So that night, while turning in, in the cabin, Mr. Adams laid the
situation before the tall Frémonter.  He explained the whole affair,
from the beginning to the sailing of the _Georgia_.  And he showed the
scrawl by the mysterious miner, and the rough sketch and the buckskin
bags.

Mr. Grigsby thoughtfully nodded.

"I see," he mused, studying the sketch map.  "Map's not very clear,
though.  Might be a map of the American River, out of Sutter's Fort.
That's the main overland emigrant trail, down from the Sierra, and
where the first gold excitement led.  Or it might be the Feather, or
the Yuba.  'G. H.' of course means 'gold here'; it's the regular sign.
Six G. H.'s--one of 'em smudged.  Huh!  Yep, if I were you I'd try the
American River first; but you want to look mighty sharp.  It's no great
feat in the gold fields to jump another fellow's claim, and even if you
get there ahead that other party's liable to be hot after you to oust
you."

"Charley and I'll defend our rights," said Mr. Adams, stanchly.

"Well," continued Mr. Grigsby, "if I'm around you can count on me.  And
there'll be other men who won't be inclined to stand for skullduggery.
The diggin's will be put under law and order, after a bit, or else no
man's life or property will be safe for a day.  But until then, look
out, and keep looking out."

"We will," assured Mr. Adams, nodding confidently at Charley, who
soberly nodded back.

"And if I were you," added the Frémonter, "I'd tuck those papers in a
safe place.  Wouldn't leave them around anywhere.  See?"

"I've been carrying them on my own person," explained Mr. Adams.

"The very place where anybody wanting them by hook or crook would look
first," said the Frémonter.

"Humph!" admitted Mr. Adams.  "That's probably so."  He looked about
thoughtfully.  "But I don't know of a better place--'twouldn't do to
stick them anywhere in the cabin, or the baggage.  Here!" he exclaimed,
struck with an idea.  "What's the matter with Charley!  Nobody would
suspect that a boy was in charge of valuables.  Charley, you take these
and tuck them away on you where they'll be safe."

"Put them in your shoe--or in your bootleg when you wear boots,"
instructed Mr. Grigsby.

"What about night?" asked Charley.

"I'll tend to the nights," grimly said the Frémonter.  "You might
change them to your pillow, nights, and they wouldn't be any safer and
you'd be apt to forget them.  But my cot will be across the doorway,
nights, and I in it."

"Very good," approved Mr. Adams.  And so Charley carried the papers in
his shoe.

For a week the _California_ sped on, over a smoothly rolling blue sea,
accompanied by the gulls and porpoises and the steady thumps of her
huge paddle-wheels.  On the right, or east, the coastline was at first
high and mountainous, but soon became only a bluish line, across the
miles of water.  The decks were hot, amidst this summer sea!  Almost
every night there was a gorgeous sunset; yet even after sunset the
thermometer stood over eighty in the cabins.

On up the full length of Central America ploughed the _California_;
past Costa Rica and Nicaragua and Salvador and Guatemala--all of which
looked about the same, at this distance, no matter how they were
colored on the maps.  Next came the coast of Mexico; and swinging in,
the _California_ made for Acapulco.

Beautiful was the coast of Mexico, hereabouts: a long strip of white
beach where the blue surf broke; behind, vivid green hills, their bases
dotted with white towns; and further behind, tremendous
mountain-ranges, piercing the clouds.

Acapulco seemed as hard to find as Chagres.  The _California_ acted as
if she were going to butt right into the beach; and the passengers,
crowded along the landside rails, eagerly waiting, could make out no
harbor.  Yet Acapulco was said to have the finest harbor between Panama
and San Francisco; and there was Acapulco itself--the old fort guarding
the harbor, the roofs of houses beyond it, and the tips of masts
betokening where ships lay at anchor.

Between horizon and sky, far up the coast, over the sea floated a
thread of black smoke.  Another steamer, this, passengers said; and Mr.
Grigsby, whose eyes were so keen, agreed.  The smoke seemed to attract
considerable attention from the ship's officers, and the captain
surveyed it long through his spy-glass.  However, Acapulco, where they
were to be permitted to land for an hour or two, was of more importance
to the passengers; and landward the majority of eyes were turned.

Only when the _California_ had passed between a rocky island and a high
bluff or headland, did the harbor of Acapulco unfold, so cleverly was
it fashioned.  Like a huge basin it was, scooped from the cliffy shore,
as if a giant shark had taken out a big bite.  So steep were the
whitish cliffs, that several small vessels were lying right under them.
A dazzling beach fringed the edge of the great basin; palms and other
trees shaded it.  On a high point was the castle, or fortress of San
Diego, similar to, but not so ruined as old Fort Lorenzo at the mouth
of the Chagres.

The _California_ steamed on, when suddenly "Boom!" sounded her signal
gun, to announce her arrival.

From the leafy town people came running down to the beach, and a
regular flock of canoes made a mad race from the beach for the ship.

The ship's boat was lowered, and was pulled away for the shore, bearing
the first mate.  Word was spread that passengers might go ashore, for
four hours; the gun would be fired again at sailing time.

"The hottest place on the American continent," pronounced Mr. Adams.
"So I heard when I was in Mexico during the war.  Those hills shut off
the breeze, and the heat hangs night and day.  Thermometer stands at
120 degrees in the shade, for days at a time.  That gap in the
hill-line yonder must be the gash cut by the Spaniards, in early times,
to make a current of air.  Now do you want to go ashore, Grigsby?"

"Well, I rather think I will," drawled Mr. Grigsby, good-naturedly.
"It may be the last chance to stretch our legs for some days.  I'm not
used to cramped quarters, after having had half a continent to tramp
over."

"All right, I'll go with you," said Mr. Adams.  "How about you,
Charley?"

Charley decided that he'd as soon stay where he was, for things around
the ship began to look interesting.  The foremost of the boats from
shore had reached the vessel.  They were heaped with cocoanuts,
bananas, oranges, limes, plantains, cakes, and shells, the smaller
shells being stitched together in odd patterns.  As more boats arrived,
a sort of a market was opened.  Many of the boats were rowed by women,
who smoked cigars while the men with them did the selling.  A line
attached to a basket or bag of matting was tossed up over the rail.
Any passenger who wished to purchase drew up the basket or bag, put a
piece of money in it, and then the man in the boat exchanged fruit or
cakes or shell-work for the money, and the passenger drew up the basket
or bag again.

But the greatest sport was to watch the little boys diving for dimes
and quarters.  Almost every boat had a boy or two aboard, who
immediately jumped over into the water, and paddled around the ship.
None of the boys wore any clothing--and how they could swim and dive!
It seemed no effort at all for them to stay on top, wriggling their
hands and feet a little, like fishes' fins; and when a coin was tossed
near them, down went their heads, up went their heels, and through the
transparent water they darted, for the money.  They could be clearly
seen until they grabbed it, and turned for the top.  On the surface
they held up the money, as proof that they had it; then they popped it
into their mouth and clamored for more.

Charley rather wished that his father and Mr. Grigsby had stayed to see
the sport; but they had gone ashore in a canoe, and so had a number of
other passengers, including the long-nosed man.

It looked like great fun, down there in the smooth green water, so
clear and cool.  With resounding splashes several passengers, in
undershirts and cotton trousers, dived from the rail and joined the
naked black and yellow boys, who made much sport of them.  As well try
to catch eels, as those nimble urchins.  Why, said a passenger near
Charley, the natives down hereabouts could swim twenty miles, and those
boys themselves could keep afloat all day!

"Here, you white boy," spoke Charley's neighbor, at the rail.  "Can't
you get in there and do something for your country?  Can you swim?"

He was a pleasant looking man, with iron-gray hair and beard, and wore
white linen.  He might have been a banker.  The _California_ held all
kinds of Forty-niners.

"Yes, sir; some.  I can swim in the Mississippi," answered Charley.
"But I can't swim like that."

"Well, jump in and show us, anyhow.  You're the only boy aboard.  Maybe
those fellows never saw a white boy swim.  Maybe they think you can't
swim.  Show them."

"All right," agreed Charley, not a bit afraid to do his best, although
he knew very well that he was only a boy and not a fish.  It would be
fun, anyhow.

So he hastened to the cabin, stripped like the men had stripped, and in
his undershirt and cotton trousers back he pattered to the rail.  The
water looked farther down than he had figured, but of course he
wouldn't back out, now; and accompanied by a hearty cheer from the
passengers, over he plumped.  As soon as he struck the water, all the
boys near there made a rush for him, yelling.

Up he rose, right in their midst--and just as he had expected, he was
no match for them at swimming or diving.  They cut circles around him,
and under and over, and the "showing" he made did not amount to much,
he feared.  Still, he proved that he could swim, and was not afraid,
and as he paddled about he grinned.  They soon found out that they
could beat him easily enough, getting the coins; but he didn't want the
coins, and the water was delightfully luke-warm--just right; so they
all were contented.

Really, it was much better here than up on the hot deck, and Charley
was well satisfied with the change, when aloft, along the rail, a great
hubbub sounded.  Passengers were pointing and craning about, and most
of them rushed away, to the other side.

"The _Panama_!" they were calling.  "That's she!  Down from San
Francisco.  She's coming in.  Now for some news."

Even the natives were gazing.  For the stairs swam the men who had
jumped overboard, and for the stairs swam Charley also.  The _Panama_?
Sure!  She was sister ship to the _California_, and by the talk she was
coming in, bound down from California.

When Charley gained the deck he, too, looked.  He saw the thread of
black smoke increased to a wide plume and very near.  Beneath the plume
was a large steamer, already headed into the harbor entrance.  Great
excitement reigned aboard the _California_.

Majestically the _Panama_ glided into the harbor, and dropped anchor
only a long stone's throw from the _California_.  "Boom!" spoke her
signal gun, and for her raced, again, the fleet of bumboats.

Her rail was black-and-white with passengers, staring across at the
passengers of the _California_.  Men began to yell back and forth.

"Where's your gold?"

"Here!  Where's yours?" and some of the _Panama's_ passengers held up
round little buckskin sacks; others slapped their shirt bosoms; and one
man, amidst laughter, even held, in both hands, a large gunny sack
which probably contained potatoes or yams.

"How are things at the mines?"

"Booming.  Better hurry or you'll be too late, stranger."

"Plenty of gold?"

"Millions of it."

"How much can one man dig in a day?"

And so forth, and so forth.  Several of the _California_ passengers,
who had been in the water before, plunged in again and daringly swam
over to the _Panama_, so as better to get the news.

Lighters, or scows, had been unloading live-stock and other supplies
into the _California_, and what looked to be the ship's boat was
putting out from the shore.  Suddenly "Boom!" spoke the ship's gun, as
signal that she was about to weigh anchor.  Down to the beach hurried
the passengers who had gone ashore.  Charley knew that his father and
Mr. Grigsby would be among them.  The sun had set, and a little breeze
blew coolly on his wet garments, so he scampered to the cabin, to
change.

Just as he reached the threshold he thought of his shoes.  Shucks!  He
had never thought, when he had taken them off in such haste, and he had
left them lying with the precious papers in one of them!  In fact, he
had not locked the door, had he?  Anyway, the door was unlocked
now--and in he hastened, his heart in his mouth.  His shoes were lying
there.  He picked one up, but it contained no papers.  He grabbed the
other and explored it.  It contained no papers.  Maybe they had stuck
to his stockings, then.  He hoped so.  But, alas, no papers were to be
found, anywhere, on his stockings, or near his stockings, or under the
bunk, or--anywhere.

He rushed out on deck again, peering, following his course to the rail.
That was no use, either.  The papers were gone; he had lost them, or
somebody had taken them.

What a foolish boy he had been!



XII

CALIFORNIA HO!

What a foolish, foolish boy!  How could he tell his father, and Mr.
Grigsby?  Maybe, though, he could find the papers, and then he would
not have to tell.  The scheme tempted him, but he decided that it was
cowardliness.  He had done the thing, and now he was afraid to accept
the consequences.  Huh!  This was not playing fair with his partners.
Besides, the longer he waited, the worse he made it for them and
himself too.

So he soberly dressed; then he went out, this time carefully locking
the door behind him, which of course was rather late in the game.  The
boat containing his father and Mr. Grigsby was at the ship, and they
two came up the side.  They were laden with stuff that they had bought
ashore.

"Hello, Charley," greeted his father, cheerfully.  "Had a good time?
Phew, but it was hot on shore!  You didn't miss much.  Lend a hand,
will you, and help us carry this truck into the cabin?"

"You must have been in the water," remarked Mr. Grigsby, keenly noting
Charley's wet, salty hair.

Charley tried to smile, but it came hard.  He picked up an armful of
cocoanuts, and followed his partners to the cabin.  They waited at the
door for him.

"Got it locked, I see," quoth his father.  "That's right.  I told
Grigsby we could depend on you."

They dumped the spoils in the cabin.  Up to this time Charley had said
scarcely a word.

"What's the matter, boy?" queried his father.  "Didn't you have a good
time?  Aren't you feeling well?"

"I've lost the papers," blurted Charley, wanting to cry.

[Illustration: "I've lost the papers"]

"What?"  His father and Mr. Grigsby stared at him.  "You don't mean it!"

"Yes.  I lost them, or somebody took them."  And Charley did begin to
cry.  "I went in swimming and left my shoes in the cabin.  And when I
came back the papers were gone.  Boo-hoo."

"Pshaw!" muttered Mr. Grigsby.

"Well, don't cry about it," spoke his father, sharply.  "Brace up, and
tell us about it."

Charley did.

"You're sure they aren't around the cabin somewhere?"

"I looked.  I'll look again, though."

They all poked about, to no result.

"Did you look on deck, where you were?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you lock the cabin door when you went out?"

"I _think_ I did," answered Charley, honestly.  "I meant to."

"But you aren't certain?"

"N--no; not exactly."

"Anybody could pick the lock, I suppose," said Mr. Grigsby, from under
his bushy brows.  "The thing looks to me like a put-up job.  Who was
the man that urged you to jump over?"

"I don't know.  I'd never seen him before."

"Well, describe him," bade Mr. Adams.

Charley described him as best he could--a medium sized man in white
linen suit, with iron-gray hair and short beard iron-gray to match.

"What color eyes?"

"I don't know," confessed Charley, truthfully.  "B-black, I think."

"Don't know!" grunted Mr. Grigsby.  "After this, notice those things.
A man can change his hair, but he can't change his eyes.  When you've
followed the trail a while, like I have, you'll learn to size a man up
at a glance, and never forget him.  Kit Carson was a great fellow for
that.  So was Frémont.  Well, the first thing to do is to look for
Charley's man.  What do you say, Adams?"

Charley's father gravely nodded.

"I agree.  Did you see any of that gang go ashore, Charley?  Either of
the Jacobs cronies, I mean.  Jacobs we saw ourselves, in the town."

"No, sir," said Charley.  "But they might have gone."

"Didn't see them aboard ship, then?" asked Mr. Grigsby.

"No, sir; I didn't."

"Wait a minute," spoke Mr. Grigsby.  "We did glimpse that fellow who
tried to use the knife, going into a grog shop.  Remember?"

"I do," affirmed Mr. Adams.  "That accounts for two, then.  Well,
Charley," and he laid his hand on Charley's shoulder, "it's up to you
to find your man for us, and then we'll investigate him.  Take a brace,
now, and don't feel bad.  There's no use crying over spilled milk;
you're only wasting time.  You simply made a mistake, and everybody
makes mistakes once in a while.  The thing to do now is to go ahead and
correct that mistake, the best you can.  We'll help you."

What a brick his father was!  And so was Mr. Grigsby.  Instead of
scolding him and confining him on bread and water, or sending him back
home, they were standing shoulder to shoulder with him.

"The papers don't amount to so tearing much," mused Mr. Grigsby.  "You
know what the sketch looks like.  That assignment of the claim may be
important and may not.  But of course nobody likes to be robbed."

Charley was now all eagerness to retrieve himself and find that man
with the iron-gray hair and beard.  Out he went, with his eyes open;
but though he trudged everywhere, while the ship got under way and
steamed, with a cheer, out past the _Panama_ and to sea again, he found
no passenger who looked anything like the one wanted.  And he didn't
see him at the table.  Neither, so his father and Mr. Grigsby reported,
on coming up after dining, separately, did they.

However, while most of the first-cabin and second-cabin passengers were
loafing about, that evening, enjoying the long twilight, who should
saunter to the Adams party but the long-nosed man himself.  He
certainly had nerve!

"How are you?" he accosted, very pleasantly.  "I saw you gentlemen
ashore.  How'd you make out?  Hot place, wasn't it!"

"We made out very well, sir," answered Mr. Adams, shortly.  "But while
we were gone our cabin was robbed.  How do you account for that?"

"Meaning, I suppose, that you think I can account for it."

"Anybody who would tamper with boats would tamper with a cabin, we
reckon," growled Mr. Grigsby.

"You seem bound to be personal," retorted the long-nosed man.  "That
little controversy on the _Georgia_ came out in your favor, but you
can't rile _me_.  I want to let by-gones be by-gones.  I'm a peaceable
man.  You've beat me, and I'm willing to say so.  Who robbed your
cabin?  What'd you lose?  Speak up."

"We lost some small papers, entrusted to this boy, here.  I have
witnesses to prove that they were in my possession, so they won't be of
use to anybody else," informed Charley's father, "and the safest thing
for the present holder to do is to return them."

"That's the captain's cabin.  Tell the captain," urged the long-nosed
man.

"No," growled Mr. Grigsby; "we thought we'd tell _you_."

"Meaning, I suppose, that I did it," returned the long-nosed man.
"You're overshooting.  You saw me ashore."

"Yes, we saw _you_," replied Mr. Grigsby.

"Meaning, I suppose," resumed the long-nosed man, "that if I didn't do
it some of my friends did.  You saw them ashore, too, didn't you?"

"Saw one of them, perhaps," admitted Mr. Adams.

"Well, you prove that the other was on this ship--you find anybody who
can swear he saw the other on this ship, and then you've the right to
question him," challenged the long-nosed man.  "But he couldn't enter
your cabin when he wasn't here, could he?  Or I, or anyone else,
either!  Now, listen.  I've come to you, wanting to be friendly.  I
don't deny it was to my interests to keep you back, so I could get to
Californy first, and I tried my levelest.  But you've beat me, and here
you are.  I'm a fair man; I know when I'm licked, and I don't bear you
ill-will.  Understand?  The passengers on this steamer," and the
long-nosed man raised his voice so that the people around would hear,
"are witness to my coming to you and saying, 'You've licked me; but I'm
friendly.  Let by-gones be by-gones.'  And what do I get?  Why, you
call me a thief, when you know very well I didn't do it.  That hurts my
feelings, gentlemen," and with this appeal, the long-nosed man walked
off, apparently indignant.

"That's the most remarkable speech I ever heard in all my life!"
exclaimed Mr. Adams, struggling between laughter and wrath.  "He
threatens Charley and me, and tries to cut our boat down and drown us,
and assaults you (to Mr. Grigsby) and gets you almost knifed, and sets
our canoe adrift, on the Chagres, and when we finally, by luck, reach
the steamer just as she's weighing anchor, he orders the captain not to
take us aboard--and now after our cabin is robbed very suspiciously and
we've lost what he wanted, he says, 'I forgive you.  I'm friendly.
Shake hands.'"

Charley felt the same way.  Evidently so did Mr. Grigsby, whose eyes
were glinting shrewdly.  He beckoned Charley and his father and led
them out of earshot of the other passengers.

"That talk doesn't go, of course," he said.  "It's regular Injun talk,
after they've stolen your hosses.  Humph!  We can't find Charley's man,
can we?  At least, we haven't found him.  Why?  Because there isn't any
such man.  I'll wager my rifle against a cocoanut that the hair and
beard were false.  If they'd been stripped off, the third rascal in the
gang would have shown up.  As soon as Jacobs blustered about our
'proving' that the third fellow was on ship and not on shore, I made up
my mind.  He and Charley's man are one and the same.  See?"

"I believe you're right," declared Mr. Adams.  "What do you think,
Charley?  You said his eyes were black, as you remembered."

"He might be the same," admitted Charley.  "At any rate," continued Mr.
Grigsby, "the best we can do is to keep quiet and lie low.  It hasn't
worked any harm to tell those fellows that we know what's happened and
we're not afraid of 'em.  We've given them something to think about.
But we'll not burn more powder until we're pretty certain of fetching a
scalp.  That's _my_ opinion."

"No, it won't do any good to run circles," said Mr. Adams.  "We can be
thinking while they're guessing.  We know what we'll do better than
they know what they'll do--and they'll never, never keep possession of
that mine," and he set his jaw hard.  "That is," he added, "if any of
us finds it."

The news spread that the "Adams party" had been robbed, and presently
queries came from the curious, even from the captain himself.  But
people soon found that the "Adams party" weren't much of a hand to talk
at random about this or any other of their affairs, and the little
excitement soon died away.  The captain said he was sorry, he'd take up
any line of inquiry that Mr. Adams would suggest, etc., etc.; and Mr.
Adams replied that there was nothing to be done, yet--they'd decided to
let the matter rest.

The long-nosed man and his two partners appeared, now and then,
swaggering with great air of being unconcerned--the long-nosed man
especially assuming to be a hail-fellow-well-met who could not possibly
be guilty of any meanness.  But nevertheless, none of the three was
especially popular, except among the gamblers and drinkers.

As for Charley, he did not enjoy the rest of the voyage.  He had lost
the papers, and he had failed to identify the man who had challenged
him to jump overboard, and he was simply crazy, now, to have the voyage
at an end.  What he wanted, was to get ashore at San Francisco, and
race that long-nosed man for the Golden West mine.  He was determined
to "make good," was Charley.

Up the beautiful coast of Mexico steamed the _California_, with a stop
at San Blas, and another at the fine port of Mazatlan, almost on the
Tropic of Cancer.  The scenery was wonderful; the white surf of the
shore, and misty blue mountains rising high above the green background,
being ever in sight from the deck.  The water was alive with
flying-fish, porpoises, sharks, whales, dolphins, and now and then an
immense turtle; while over the ship's foamy wake the gulls and terns
and pelicans sailed and dived.

From Mazatlan the _California_ veered westward, right on the Tropic of
Cancer, to clear (said people) the Gulf of Lower California.  When she
pointed in again, in the morning, she crossed the path of the steamer
_Oregon_, southward bound out of the gold fields.  The _Oregon_ was too
far to be hailed.  However, no matter--for aboard the _California_, now
arose a cry, while people pointed.

"There's California, at last!  Hooray!"

On the starboard quarter appeared, hazy across the sparkling whitecaps,
a long line of low land ending in a lofty cape--San Lucas, which meant,
in English, Saint Luke.  Even through a spy-glass, which Mr. Adams
borrowed from another passenger, the land looked to be uninhabited, and
was brown and bare, with mountains rising back from the surf-dashed
coast.  People said that amidst the brownness were wonderful green
valleys, occupied by ranches and villages; but if this was really the
Land of Gold, Charley was disappointed.  It did not look very inviting
to tramp over.  However, this was only Lower California, still owned by
Mexico; and San Francisco and the true Land of Gold, Upper California,
was a week ahead.

As the steamer skirted the brownish, rugged, mysterious coast of this
Lower California, the weather grew more bracing, for the tropics had
been left behind.  Flannel shirts and heavy trousers were comfortable.
The great albatrosses became few, but the gulls and Mother Carey's
chickens, the nimble gray petrels that flew all day with their feet
grazing the waves, were thick.  The bright Southern Cross dropped low
into the horizon behind, while the Great Dipper, circling the North
Star, rose higher before.  Yes, the _California_ surely was making
northward rapidly.

"We don't cross into Upper California until we reach San Diego," said
Mr. Grigsby.  "That will be to-morrow, I reckon.  I remember San Diego
very well.  I was there in Forty-six, with Carson and Frémont; and we
raised the Flag in the plaza.  It's still there, too, I bet you.
Commodore Stockton of the Navy took the place and held it.  It used to
be a great station for hides, and has one of the finest harbors on the
coast."

The next morning, sure enough, the good steamer swept in for the port
of San Diego, of the California of the United States.  The entrance was
very narrow.  On the left jutted out a high, brown, brushy point named
Point Loma, with a solid white lighthouse, built long ago by the
Spaniards, standing forth as a landmark on the very nose.  On the right
was what looked to be a long, low, sandy island, fringed by the
dazzling surf, and shimmering in the sun.

Through the narrow channel steamed the _California_, at half speed,
everybody gazing hard to "size up" this first town of American
California, and the first place under the American flag since New
Orleans was left, over a month ago.

At the end of the channel appeared several low white-washed buildings,
along the foot of the ridge which made the point.

"The hide-houses," said Mr. Grigsby, with satisfied nod, "where the
cow-hides used to be stored, waiting for the ships.  Smelled bad, too;
shouldn't wonder if there were some waiting now.  We'll see the town in
a minute."

A bay began to open on the right; and sure enough, beyond where the
channel broadened, ahead, at this end of the bay, on flat land came
into view a group of houses, both brown and white, and a flag, on a
tall pole, floating over their midst.  It was--it was the Stars and
Stripes!  Hooray!  And again hooray!

"We raised that flag--Frémont and Carson and we others in the
battalion--or one like it, in July, Forty-six," declared Mr. Grigsby.
"Sailed down from Monterey on the fine sloop-of-war _Cyane_, to help
Stockton.  Yonder, just back of town, on the first hill, is where the
commodore located his fort, Fort Stockton, to hold the town.  He
anchored in the bay and sent his men ashore to do it.  On the rear edge
of town, on the first little rise below Fort Stockton, was the Spanish
presidio, or fort--but Fort Stockton had the bulge on it.  About thirty
miles northeast (can't see it from here, of course) among the hills is
where General Kearny and his First Dragoons were corralled by the
Californians after they had marched overland from Santa Fé, New Mexico,
a thousand miles across the desert.  The dragoons were surrounded and
in bad shape; but Carson and Lieutenant Beale of the Navy and an Indian
crawled and sneaked through the California lines, the whole distance to
San Diego, and brought word to Stockton to hurry up and send
reinforcements.  Carson nearly lost his feet, by cactus, and Beale was
laid up for a year.  During the war San Diego was no easy place to get
into, or out of, either."

"Where's the mission?" asked Mr. Adams.  "The first of the California
missions was here, wasn't it?"

"It used to be in town, before there was any town, they say," answered
Mr. Grigsby.  "That was 1769.  But when the town had started, the
priests moved the mission about six miles up yonder valley, so as to
get their Injuns away from the fandangoes."

Meanwhile, the _California_ had swung to, opposite the hide-houses.
Out rattled her anchor chain; "Boom!" announced her signal gun.  A
number of people had collected in front of the town, which was
separated from the water by a wide strip of tide-land; but on a road
which bordered the point and connected the hide-houses with the town,
other people came at a gallop, horseback.  The captain went ashore, in
the ship's boat; but stay here was to be short, so no passengers were
allowed to go.

"Is there gold in those hills yon, mister?" asked a lean, lank
Arkansan, of Mr. Grigsby, who was accepted as an authority on the
country.

"There might be; I dunno," responded the Frémonter.  "But it's powerful
dry, according to Kit Carson.  You can't mine without water.  Of
course, those flat-tops to the south of us are in Mexican territory.
To my notion, it isn't gold that will make this southern country; it's
climate and commerce.  The climate down here is the finest in the
world.  Warm like this all the year 'round, and cool enough nights for
sleeping.  No bad storms, either.  This bay runs about three miles
southward, yet every inch of it is landlocked.  When that railroad
across the Isthmus is finished, to help emigration, I look to see a big
city here, and a harbor full of ships."

"A ship canal across the Isthmus would help this country a lot," mused
Mr. Adams.  "The west part of the United States is too far from the
east part; a canal would bring them together."

"Yes, and so would a railroad clean from the Missouri to the Pacific,"
agreed the Frémonter.  "That will come, too, in time; and to go to
California will be as easy as to go to Washington or New York."

"Looks as though a toler'ble lot more passengers were comin' aboard,
don't it?" remarked the Arkansan, staring fixedly at the beach.

"Yes, sir; and overlanders, too!" exclaimed Mr. Grigsby, his gaze
narrowing.  "I reckon they must have got in by the southern route along
the Gila River.  And if so, I pity 'em.  It's a terrible trail."



XIII

INTO THE GOLDEN GATE

The captain's boat was returning from the landing at the hide-houses,
accompanied by a large whale-boat filled with strangers.  Gun barrels
out-thrust from the mass, baggage was visible, and as the whale-boat
drew nearer to the steamer the persons in it were seen to be tattered
and gaunt, as if they had been through great hardships.  The captain's
boat contained a guest in United States Army uniform--an officer,
evidently.

The captain and his guest climbed into the steamer; then the whale-boat
unloaded.  Goodness gracious, there were not only the travel-worn men,
but two women also!  Up the side they all toiled, the men lean and
brown and whiskered, the two women fully as distressful looking, with
their hair faded, and their skin tight over their cheek-bones.  The
majority of the men were clad in old deer-skins and moccasins, and
carried only hand-baggage of bundles.

The passengers of the _California_, crowding curiously, respectfully
gave way.

"Well, holy smoke!" exclaimed Mr. Grigsby, at sight of one of the men.
"Is that you, Bentley?"

"Hello, Sam," wearily responded the man.  "It's what's left of me."

"Where'd you come from?"

"From the States, by way of the Gila trail across the desert.  Nigh
starved to death, too."

"You look it," commented Mr. Grigsby.  "Is this all your party?"

"No.  Part of us branched off for Los Angeles, on this side of the
Colorado Desert; part of us never got through, and some are buried and
some aren't.  The rest of us struck for the sea, by the San Diego fork,
as fast as we could.  And I tell you, this steamer looks mighty good!"

"Pshaw!" murmured Mr. Grigsby, while Charley felt a great wave of
sympathy for Mr. Bentley and all.  And the Frémonter added: "I suppose
you're bound for the gold fields, like everybody else."

"Yes," answered the tattered emigrant.  "But all the gold in Californy
can't pay me for what I've gone through.  Hunger and thirst and heat
and cold and Injuns--we met 'em.  It's a terrible trail, Sam, as I
reckon you know.  And queer enough, those two women--those two wives in
the party--stood it without a whimper.  Gentlemen," he spoke to the
crowd, "those are the heroes."

"You bet," responded several voices.  "And there are more women like
'em."

The emigrant Bentley passed on, following his fellows.  Mr. Grigsby had
known him in trapper days.  They had hunted beaver together.

No one made any objection to taking these additional passengers aboard.
Anyway, now it was only a few days to San Francisco.  The new gold
seekers all had harrowing stories to tell.  As Mr. Bentley had said,
the most of them had traveled from the Missouri River, in Arkansas and
Missouri, by a southern route across New Mexico which included what is
to-day Arizona, from Santa Fé striking west for the Gila River.  It was
a parched and barren country, rife with the Apaches and Navajos and
Yumas and other fierce tribes, who stole their horses and cattle and
harassed their camps.  Skeletons of men and animals, from other
parties, lined the trail; and there was one march of fifty miles
without water.

Two in the company had even crossed Mexico, and had been lost, until
they emerged from the mountains and sighted the desert of southern
California.  All in all, thought Charley (and his father agreed) people
were taking astounding risks to get to California.

There was the trip clear around Cape Horn, by boat; and the trip across
the Isthmus; and trips across Mexico, from Vera Cruz and other points;
and the Gila River trail, through the dry desert; and several trails,
further north, more crowded and almost as perilous.  Why, the whole
West and Southwest must be divided off every few hundred miles by
regular processions of gold seekers!  He hoped, did Charley, that Billy
Walker would get through all right.

The army officer proved to be a young lieutenant--Lieutenant William T.
Sherman, Third Artillery, now Adjutant General of the Division of the
Pacific, with headquarters at San Francisco, whither he was returning.
Mr. Adams managed to strike up a conversation with him, for the
lieutenant was affable, especially with anyone like Mr. Adams, who had
been a soldier under General Scott.

"Have you any news for us gold seekers, Lieutenant?" invited Mr. Adams.

"From where, sir?"

"From San Francisco and the gold fields."

"News!" exclaimed the lieutenant, smiling with his steady gray eyes.
He had a long, rather stern face, of russet complexion, but he was
pleasant.  "There's news every hour.  This crowd you've taken aboard is
only a sample of the people who are pouring in by thousands."

"Gold is plentiful?"

"It exceeds any reports, sir."

"How about other business?  What is the chance in San Francisco?"

"San Francisco is growing at the rate of thirty houses and a hundred
people a day.  All kinds of supplies are in demand, and all kinds of
labor and professions.  The chief trouble is to get them.  The harbor
is full of vessels without crews, stores are without clerks and houses
without servants, and the army almost without soldiers.  You are aware,
I suppose, that this very steamer, the first steamship into the harbor,
last February, was immediately deserted by every sailor, who all put
out to the mines.  She was held at anchor for a week or two, trying to
ship a crew so as to make the return trip to Panama.  Whole companies
of soldiers have followed the example of the sailors.  Colonel Mason,
when he was military governor of California, found himself obliged to
cook his own meals; and General Persifor Smith, the present commander
of the division, has been abandoned by every servant.  We officers all
are doing our own housework.  As it is, ordinary laborers are getting
ten and twenty dollars a day, and house servants ask and are getting
$200 a month!  Everybody figures on making twenty dollars a day at the
mines, with chance of making much more; so ordinary wages don't tempt.
The whole country is simply crazy."  And Lieutenant Sherman turned on
his heel and marched off, as if indignant--and well he might be, for it
was soon found out that the army officers in California were having
hard work to live within their small pay.

The _California_ steamed northward, with the hilly California coast
much in sight on the right, although distant.  Some of the table-lands
and hills shone yellow as if gold-plated, and raised high hopes among
many of the passengers.  Wasn't this the Land of Gold, at last?  But
Lieutenant Sherman and Mr. Grigsby, and a few others familiar with the
country, explained that the yellow was immense fields of wild oats,
already ripening.

At sunset was passed an island called Santa Catalina Island, inhabited
by thousands of wild goats.  It was owned by a Spanish family who
annually killed the goats for their meat and hides.  Out of sight
inland, was said to be the town of Los Angeles, the largest inland town
of California, and older than San Francisco.

The next stop would be Monterey.  During the night the wind blew hard,
kicking up the roughest sea of the whole voyage, and once throwing
Charley out of his bunk, almost on top of Mr. Grigsby's cot.

"Hello," grunted the Frémonter, "hold fast, there.  We must be rounding
Cape Conception, above Santa Barbara.  That's a sort of a Cape Horn of
this coast, dividing it off.  But we'll have fair sailing again, on the
other side."

In the morning the storm had waned, but the seas still ran high, in
immense white-crested waves that tossed and foamed, and leaping at the
steamer tried to climb aboard.  The sky was gloriously blue, without a
cloud, and the air tasted salty crisp.  Now the Coast Range of
California loomed large; its hither bases spotted with the yellow of
oats and the green of trees.  Ramparts of high cliffs, separated by
strips of green and brown low-lands, bordered the ocean.

After breakfast a long point, jutting out from the shore ahead, was
hailed by the knowing ones aboard as Point Pinos (Pines Point),
guardian of the harbor of Monterey.  Gradually the steamer turned in;
another harbor opened, with a cluster of white, red-roofed houses
behind it, at the foot of the hills.  Sweeping in past the pine-ridged
point the _California_, with boom of gun, dropped anchor in the
historic bay of Monterey.

The captain and Lieutenant Sherman, and any passengers who wished, went
ashore here, for the _California_ was to take on wood for fuel to San
Francisco.

Monterey had long been the capital of Upper California, and was the
first place captured by the United States, in July, 1846, after war
with Mexico was begun.  Mr. Grigsby knew it well, for hither he had
marched from the north with Frémont's battalion of Volunteer Riflemen.
It was a pleasant old town, of white-washed, tile-roofed clay
buildings, a custom-house at the wharf, a large, yellow town hall, and
an army post on the bluff overlooking town and bay.  The town sloped to
the low surf of the wave-flecked bay encircled by cliffs and bluffs.
Beyond the town rose higher hills, well timbered with oaks and pines.

"The flag was raised July 7, Forty-six, over this custom-house," stated
Mr. Grigsby.  "Commodore Sloat sent ashore 250 men from the flag-ship
_Savannah_, and the ships _Cyane_, _Warren_ and _Levant_, which he had
in the bay; and Lieutenant Edward Higgins did the raising, at ten in
the morning.  Purser Rodney Price made the proclamation to the people."

"Where were you, then?" asked Charley.

"Oh, I was up north at Sutter's Fort, with Frémont and the rest,
waiting to get supplies--this shirt, among other things."  For Mr.
Grigsby had donned his star-collar shirt, as if in honor of the
occasion.  "We marched in later."

Monterey seemed to be a very quiet, sleepy old place.  The majority of
the citizens were the native Californians, wearing their picturesque
costumes of slashed velvet trousers loose at the bottom and tight at
the knee, red sashes about their waists, silk shirts and short velvet
jackets, and peaked, wide-brimmed, tasseled felt hats.  The morning air
was chilly, although the sun shone brightly.  In front of many of the
stores and in the plaza or square little fires had been built, around
which the people were huddling, to get warm.  Mr. Grigsby explained
that there wasn't a stove in town, probably, that everybody cooked in
small fireplaces, and that until the Americans came and introduced the
bonfire the natives were "too blamed lazy" to do more than shiver
themselves warm!

"Why, these natives wouldn't walk across a street," he said.  "They all
rode--that is, the men.  And why not, when horses were to be had for
nothing.  Ten dollars would buy the best horse in the territory."

Considerable of a crowd had gathered in front of the town hall,
clustered and craning and gazing at some object in their midst.  Mr.
Grigsby, stalwart and proud in his Frémont shirt, sauntered to see.
Presently he called and beckoned.

"Here you are.  Here's what you're looking for."

So Mr. Adams and Charley crossed, also.  The crowd gave way
courteously, exposing a smiling, good-looking Californian, leaning
against the heavy saddle of his horse.

"Here you are," repeated Mr. Grigsby, who was fingering the contents of
a small canvas sack, evidently the property of the horseman.  "You want
to see gold?  Take a look at it."

Following his father, Charley peeped within.  The canvas sack was half
full of dull yellow--a yellow like the yellow which the buckskin sack
had contained, in St. Louis.  However, this yellow was coarser.

"Flake gold," announced Mr. Grigsby.  "Straight from the mines.  Is
that not so, amigo?"

"Si, señors," smilingly answered the native.  And continued, in good
English: "From the American River."

"Did you get--find it?" queried Charley, eagerly.

"Yes, and more.  Everybody finds it who looks."

"How long were you gone?" asked Mr. Adams.

"Who knows, señor?  Coming and going, perhaps two weeks, but I stopped
with friends along the way."

"How long were you in finding this, then?"

"Four, maybe five, days.  It is easy."

"What will you do with it, señor?" inquired Mr. Grigsby.

The man shrugged his shoulders.

"Who knows?  When one has money he has friends.  For a few days I can
be rich.  When I am poor again, there is plenty more gold to be had."

"Were there many other people searching?" asked Mr. Adams.

"An army, señor.  They are working like ants."

They thanked the man for his courtesy, and returning him his treasure
started on, for the town hall doorway.

"He'll spend that before another morning," declared Mr. Grigsby.
"That's the curse of easy money--especially out here, where the natives
can get along on a little.  Wait a minute.  I'll go in and find the
alcalde--he's the mayor.  Colton's his name.  He was chaplain on the
frigate _Congress_, and was appointed alcalde after Monterey was
captured.  I knew him in Forty-six.  Fine man.  Maybe we can call on
the governor, General Bennet Riley, and pay our respects."

Mayor Colton sent word that he'd be pleased to see them, but that the
governor was in San Francisco.  However, the mayor (who, as Mr. Grigsby
had said, was a minister, a navy chaplain, and indeed a fine man)
showed them through the town hall, which he had caused to be built out
of the fines and fees in the town treasury.  It had been finished only
this March, and contained a large public hall on the second floor, and
a school and jail and other departments on the ground floor.  It
certainly was a credit to Monterey, away out here in California.

"Gold?" exclaimed Alcalde Colton, waving his hands in despair at the
mention of it.  "Yes, I've been up to the mines myself, on several
occasions.  I was there as early as last September, and dug some for
myself.  But it's the ruination of Monterey and the rest of the coast.
Nobody'll work, except we Government and other public officers who have
to; everybody's crazy, talking and dreaming only of easy riches; and
even an old woman cook of mine, too feeble to go away, won't clean a
fowl until she's examined its crop for a nugget."

"By the way, where's Colonel Frémont?" queried Mr. Grigsby.  "Is he
still out here?"

"Certainly.  You're a Frémont man, I see.  He's here, and so are his
wife and daughter.  They came out just ahead of you, on the _Panama_.
They make their home in Monterey, but they're up north now, with the
colonel.  He's mining on his big Mariposa ranch, in the interior back
of San José.  They have the only four-wheeled vehicle in the
territory--a surrey brought around the Horn for them."

However, interesting as Monterey was, nobody aboard the _California_
wanted to stay long here.  San Francisco was only about twelve hours
ahead; and then, the gold!

On again steamed the _California_, threshing the waves with her huge
paddles, and all the passengers scrutinizing the shore line, many of
them rather expecting to see gold out-cropping on the cliffs and ridges.

"We'll probably get in at evening, and spend the night aboard,"
remarked Charley's father.

During the day the coast grew more bare and sandy, with sandy, rolling
hills behind it.  In the afternoon it appeared to bulge out, before,
and in the bulge appeared a gap.

"There you are," directed Mr. Grigsby, to Charley, and pointing.  "See
that gap?  Yes?  It's the Golden Gate channel into the Bay of San
Francisco."

"The gate to the Land of Gold, eh?" mused another passenger, near.

"That's what it's reckoned at, now," assented the Frémonter.  "But it
was named before gold was discovered.  Frémont named it; you'll see it
on his map of Forty-seven.  It's the Golden Gate, whichever way you
look at it--from the outside, toward the land, or from the inside,
toward the sunset."

True enough.  Even now the sun had set, and all the wide west fronting
the gateway was a deep golden sheen, and the water and the shore was
dyed with the richness.  Turning her stern on the sunset, the steamer
headed in, for the golden shore.

The gap opened, wider and wider, to form a broad strait.  In it an
island gleamed white.

"That's Alcatraz Island, at the inside end of the channel," explained
Mr. Grigsby, who served as a very good guide.  "You'll see Yerba Buena
Island--some call it Goat Island--in a minute, on the right of it, and
Angel Island on the left.  That big round peak straight ahead, on the
mainland, is Mount Diablo.  Now we're getting opposite Fort Point; see
the flag.  The town is around on our right, other side of this first
line of hills separating the bay from the ocean."

Through the Golden Gate was slowly and majestically steaming the
_California_.  The gate was really a pair of jaws, set half-open--great
promontories of rock and sand, the one on the left or the north being
almost a mountain chain.  Within the jaws was the bay, like the mouth.
Everything was tinged with the wondrous golden glow.

Several sailing boats were beating in and out of the strait, which was
narrowest at Fort Point.  Beyond Fort Point the tips of masts began to
appear, over the tops of the lower hills on the right; and as the
_California_ gradually rounded the further side of this peninsula,
ships at anchor came into sight.  The bay itself opened, extending on
right and left of the entrance, against a background of rolling,
yellowish hills.

"Around the corner, now--and there you'll see San Francisco," announced
Mr. Grigsby, he peering as intently as anybody.

Between Alcatraz Island and Goat Island passed the _California_,
swinging to the right more and more, describing a half circle; the
ships at anchor increased to a dense mass floating many flags; and
then, hurrah, on the near shore, against the hills of this the west
side of the bay appeared a straggling jumble of low buildings, already
enshadowed by dusk and dotted with lights, some stationary, others
moving.  The murmur of many voices, punctuated by shouts and hammering,
floated across the smooth water, and from the shipping sounded frequent
hails.  Through the shipping weaved the _California_, with all her
passengers peering excitedly; then "Boom!" spoke her signal gun, and
not far from the water-front, where a clear place had been left, she
dropped anchor.  From her decks arose a mighty cheer; and listen--the
people running down to the water-front replied!  So everybody cheered
again, Charley swinging his hat and "hooraying" as hard as anybody.



XIV

ALL ASHORE

So interested had most of the passengers been, that they had omitted to
collect their baggage and make the grand rush as at Chagres.  But now
at the dropping of the anchor the charm was broken.  Helter-skelter
they all ran, to be ready for the first landing, but suddenly were
halted by the word that nobody could go ashore until morning.  The ship
must first be examined by the health officer.  So a howl of dismay and
wrath arose.

"The captain thinks he'll keep us aboard all night, does he?  Well, he
can't and nobody else can, either.  Ain't that right?"

Charley had been carried along by the rush to gather the baggage; and
now this voice spoke at his elbow.  He looked quickly, and saw the
profile of the long-nosed man, who was talking to one of his partners.

"There'll be plenty of boats sneaking around, and plenty of sailors
taking French leave for the mines," continued the long-nosed man.
"We'll just join 'em.  We've got too big a stake ahead of us, to waste
a night here."

"Sure.  We'll let the other party do the wasting," answered the
partner.  "We're ahead, so far, and we'll stay ahead."

"All right.  Keep your eyes and ears open, and a little money in your
hand, and at the first chance, we leave.  Tell Jack, if you see him
before I do."

Charley slipped away.  So the long-nosed man's party were planning to
go ashore anyhow, were they?  Well, he'd see about that.  He'd tell his
father, who'd tell the captain, and the captain would make them play
fair.

But his father shook his head, after Charley had excitedly appealed.

"No, we won't do a thing.  Grigsby and I had decided anyway that we'd
better stay on board till morning.  We'll all gain nothing by going
ashore in the dark, Charley.  Lieutenant Sherman says it's a miserable
place to find your way around in, and it's full of the riff-raff of all
nations, besides the better people.  As for the Jacobs party, what they
do is none of our business.  They'll deny that they have any notion of
going--and then they'll go, just the same.  The captain has other
things to tend to, than watching the passengers."

"But they'll beat us," complained Charley.

"Nonsense," laughed his father.  "The crooked trail is the longest way
'round.  When they get ashore in the dark they'll not be much nearer
the end than we are.  We'll mind our own business and play fair, and
then you'll see who comes out ahead at last."

"Is that San Francisco?" quavered somebody near them, at the rail.  She
was one of the worn, plucky women who had traveled the Gila trail.  "It
looks like a big camp-meetin'."

And so San Francisco did!  Many more lights had been struck; a few
flickered here and there, as if they were being carried about, but the
majority appeared to be behind canvas, through which they shone with
pale yellow glow.  Evidently even some of the business buildings were
only canvas; and these, and the multitude of tents, gleamed dully like
a great encampment.  Voices sounded constantly, echoing across the
water; hammering never ceased; music floated--strains of violin and
trumpet and piano!  From the water-front clear back up the sides of the
hills San Francisco was alive by night as by day.  And on the hour all
the vessels in the harbor struck their bells, in a great, melodious
chime.

Charley and his father and Mr. Grigsby stood long at the rail, as did
the other passengers, gazing at the dim shore and its multitude of
spectral lights, and talking.  The whole ship seemed to be athrill with
great expectations; row-boats approached, circled and mysteriously
lingered, as if awaiting; and the little waves murmured low and
invitingly, as they slapped against the steamer's sides.

Yes, after the trip of forty days and nights from New Orleans (fifty
from New York!), and of six thousand miles, by water, and twenty miles
by land, here they all were, at anchor off the Land of Gold.

Charley rather hated to turn in.  However, the three of them went to
bed, at ten o'clock, and San Francisco was still as lively as ever.
Once, in the night, Charley woke up, thinking that he heard a soft hail
and the splash of oars.  He wondered if the long-nosed man's party were
taking their "French leave."  He sat up and peered out of the open
door; and there, across the water, were the lights of San Francisco,
and the uproar of voices and hammers and music.  Apparently, San
Francisco didn't sleep.

All in all, it wasn't a very good night for sleeping, anywhere.  Some
of the passengers on the decks talked the whole night through, it
seemed to Charley, discussing plans.  At daylight began a general stir,
to prepare to go ashore, the Adams party were ready about as soon as
anybody, waiting for the boats to start their trips.  Luggage was piled
high, everywhere aboard; and by sunrise people were impatient.

It happened to be a beautiful morning, with wisps of fog drifting out
to sea.  How large the bay was, extending north and south and three
miles wide!  Porpoises were numerous, rolling their backs through the
tumbling gray surface; gulls sailed and circled and screamed; and there
was a hoarse, grunty barking which Mr. Grigsby said was from sea-lions,
on the rocks of the shore.

Now San Francisco lay revealed, sprawled from the wharves of the
water's edge, on back up the sides of the bare rounded hills behind.

"Who would have thought, when I came out here with Frémont," murmured
Mr. Grigsby, as they three gazed again at the town, "that the old hide
landing of Yerba Buena would have jumped to this.  My idea for a city
would be the other side of the bay, on the mainland.  But here was the
starter, boats were used to it, and nothing can stop the place now."

"It's not very pretty, that's sure," commented Mr. Adams.

And indeed, evidently built of anything that came to hand, with its
houses squatted in haphazard, hasty fashion, and the country around
bare and brown and bleak, San Francisco did not look attractive.  But
the bay was grand; and the hundreds of ships flying the flags of the
United States, and England, and France and Spain and Mexico and Germany
and Denmark and Sweden, were interesting beyond words.  There were
several United States men-of-war.  One, the line-of-battle-ship _Ohio_,
lay not far away from the _California_.  How tremendous she looked,
with her yards all aslant, and the round, black muzzles of her cannon
staring out through her open ports!  Nothing could lick _her_, decided
Charley, proudly.

A bustling fleet of rowboats put out to the _California_, yelping for
the business of taking passengers and baggage ashore.  The ship's boats
also began work early; and now, at last, Charley found himself embarked
in a skiff and making for the shore.  He did not see any of the Jacobs
party, on the decks or in the other boats.  As like as not, then, they
had sneaked away during the night.

The one wharf toward which the boat seemed to be making was crowded
with people and piled high with baggage.  Every inch appeared
occupied--and now another difficulty presented.  The tide was out, for
the water ended a quarter of a mile from the shore!  The boat
sluggishly stopped.

"Here you are," said one of the boatmen.  "Tumble out."

"What do you mean?" demanded Mr. Adams.  "We've paid you two dollars
each to take us ashore.  You don't expect us to walk through this mud,
do you?"

"Walk or fly.  This is shore, as you can see for yourself.  Boats don't
travel on stilts, in this country."

Other boats also were being stuck, and many of the passengers were
already wading knee-deep in ooze, for the dry land.

"An outrage!" exclaimed Mr. Adams.

"We can't control the tides, stranger, even in California," spoke the
other boatman.  "We can leave you here and come again in about four
hours and take you the rest of the way for two dollars more.  Tide'll
be turned by that time."

"What'll you charge to carry us in from here, now?" asked Mr. Grigsby.

"Five dollars apiece for self and baggage."

"Come on, Charley," bade Mr. Adams.  "Off with your boots and
stockings.  We can do as the rest do."

"That's the talk," approved Mr. Grigsby.

Barefooted, trousers rolled high, out they stepped, and lugging their
bed rolls and other hand baggage, stumped for the shore.

"Five dollars apiece!" muttered Mr. Grigsby.  "Money must be mighty
cheap out here."

"If that's a sample of prices, the quicker Charley and I get out of
town, the better," answered Mr. Adams.  "Eh, Charley?"

All along the stretch of tide-flats passengers from the _California_
were wading ashore.  The women were being carried pickaback--and
screamed when their helpers stumbled.  It was a comical sight, for
several men already had tripped and fallen, and were a mass of mud.

A number of men and boys were digging in the mud for clams.  One man
they passed had such an odd appearance that Charley turned and stared
back at him.  He was of a strange yellow complexion, his eyes were set
slantwise, he wore a short, loose, bluish frock with wide sleeves, and
a round little hat, and down his back hung a long pig-tail.

"There's a queer sort of Injun," remarked Mr. Grigsby.  "Some sort of a
Sandwich Islander, I reckon."

"No; that's a Chinese--a Chinaman they call him in New Orleans," said
Mr. Adams.  "I've seen some down there, and in Mexico, too."

"Well, he's an odd one, all right," insisted the Frémonter.  And
Charley agreed.

The crowd on the wharf and shore were cheering and laughing at the
antics in the mud.  From the wharf a long, steep flight of steps led
down, and up this, in the procession, toiled the Adams party.

It was a very good-natured crowd, almost all men, in rough costumes of
miner's red or blue or gray shirts, and trousers tucked into boots,
slouch hats, faces well whiskered and pistols and knives thrust through
belts.  Some of the men were uproariously greeting newly-arrived
relatives and friends; but there was no one here to greet the Adams
party.  So the first thing to do was to find the trunk, and then a
lodging-place.

"What's the proper hotel, Grigsby?" inquired Mr. Adams.

"I'll find out."  And Mr. Grigsby addressed the nearest citizen--a
small, gray-shirted man with a beard almost as gray.  "Pardner, what
are the lodging-houses here now?  City Hotel still running?"

"City Hotel, Parker House, Portsmouth Hotel, United States Hotel;
they're all running, and full to the roofs, too, stranger.  If you want
a bed you've got to make tracks--and I reckon by the looks of your feet
you'll make 'em."

"We'll go up to the plaza, I reckon, then," said Mr. Grigsby, to his
partners.  "Better put on our boots first."

They wiped their feet on a piece of old canvas lying near, and donned
their stockings and boots.

"How'll we get our trunk up to the hotel, I wonder?" spoke Charley's
father.  "Here----" and he called to a couple of Mexicans standing
near.  "Want to earn fifty cents?"

The Mexicans laughed, and shrugged their shoulders; and one of them, in
a very impudent fashion, made a derisive answer in Spanish.  Charley's
father colored, and took an angry step forward; but a miner stopped him.

"Go easy, stranger," he said.  "This is a free land."  He thrust his
hand into his pocket, and actually extended to Mr. Adams two dollars.
"Carry your trunk yourself," he said.  "Fifty cents wouldn't take it to
the end of this wharf."  And the onlookers shouted at the joke.

So Mr. Adams laughed.

"All right," he uttered.  "I offered what I thought was a fair wage.
If somebody'll kindly help us up with that trunk we'll tend to the
other baggage and pay the regular tariff."

"Now you're talkin'," approved the miner.  "Why, most of us out here
wouldn't stoop over to pick up four bits.  What's four bits, in these
diggin's?  'Twouldn't buy a cup of coffee.  But say, if you really want
to make easy money, instead o' spendin' it, I've got a little
investment worth your attention."

"What is it?"

"Best water lot in the city."

A score of voices interrupted, and the Adams party found themselves
almost mobbed.

"Don't listen to him.  Hear me!"

"If you want a water lot----"

"No, no; I've got 'em all skinned."

"Wait a minute, now."

"The most valuable proposition in California."

"A water lot is what you ought to have.  As soon as the city builds
out----"

And so forth, and so forth.  It was most bewildering.

"Where is your lot, sir?" demanded Mr. Adams.

"Right under the red skiff yonder," directed the first miner.  "Level
and sightly, as you can see as soon as the tide's full out.  Straight
in line for the extension of Clay Street.  Can't be beat."

"What's your price?" asked Mr. Grigsby, with a wink at Charley.

"You can have that fine lot for only $10,000 cash.  It's worth $15,000."

Mr. Adams threw back his head and laughed, and laughed.  Even Mr.
Grigsby guffawed.  And Charley was indignant.  These San Franciscans
must think them awful green, to offer them "lots" away out in the
bay--and at $10,000!

"Come on, boys!" bade his father.  "I'm afraid, gentlemen, that your
real estate doesn't appeal.  It might make a good navy yard, but not
the kind of a yard that I could use for my family."

"You'll see the day when you'll wish you'd taken some of those lots,
strangers," warned the man, after them.

And so they did--although that seemed ridiculous.  The "water lots" are
now almost in the centre of the business district of great San
Francisco, and worth ten times ten thousand dollars.

It was an amazing town that they traversed, carrying their hand baggage
and followed by a couple of Mexicans who for the promise of two dollars
had deigned to pick up the trunk.  Few of the buildings seemed
finished, and all looked as if they had just been put up, in a great
hurry.  They were made from canvas rudely tacked on warped boards, of
rusty sheet-iron and tin, of brown clay or "adobe," of newly-sawed
rough lumber, of pieces of boxes and flattened cans, and one was even
built of empty boxes piled up for walls, with a canvas roof.  But all
these stores were full of goods, many not yet unpacked, and of buyers,
and every third or fourth store was a saloon and gambling house, fuller
still.  As for the streets, they were full, too,--and with what a queer
mixture of people!

The Americans were evidently as widely varied as on board ship.  The
best dressed were smooth-shaven, quiet men in white shirts, black ties,
and well-fitting broadcloth and polished boots--the cool, professional
gamblers, as Charley somehow guessed.  He had seen their like in St.
Louis, and on the ship.  The others wore mainly the regulation
Californian costume of flannel shirt, etc.,--and with them it seemed to
be the fashion not to shave at all.  Such whiskers!  But every nation
under the sun appeared to be represented.  Why, it was better than any
geography book.

Everybody seemed to be in a great hurry, acting as if should they
linger anywhere more than a minute they would be missing something.
There was something in the cool, windy air, fresh from the lively bay,
that made Charley himself throw out his chest and step lively.  The
talk, right and left, was of the jerky, impatient type, and in terms of
dollars--dollars, dollars, thousands of dollars.  Nobody acted poor,
all walked and talked gold; one would have thought that the very dirt
was gold--and as he trudged briskly, following the lead of Mr. Grigsby,
Charley saw people grubbing on hands and knees, with knives, in the
very street.  Yes, he saw some boys, no older than he, doing this, and
one with a grin showed him half a handful of golden specks and dirt
mixed, that he evidently had scraped up!

The streets had no sidewalks, and in spots were thick with dust, blown
by gusts of wind.  Mr. Grigsby plainly enough knew where he was going,
for at last he led into a vacant square, which was the plaza.  A sign
on a long, two-and-a-half story wooden building, unpainted, said:
"Parker-house.  Board and lodging."  Under the sign Mr. Grigsby
stopped, and eased his arms.

"We'll try this," he said.  "It's been built since I was here last
year.  Great Jimmy, but how the town has grown!  I'm mighty near lost
in it.  I remember this old plaza, though.  There's the City Hotel,
across.  There's the old custom-house, too; that adobe building, with
the flagpole in front of it, where the flag was raised in Forty-six, by
the Navy.  Well, let's go in."

They entered.  The place was crowded.

"Yes, sir; I can give you one room, with two beds in it, upstairs,"
informed the clerk at the counter.  "It's positively all we have, and
you're lucky to get that."

"What's the tariff?" queried Mr. Adams.

"Rates are twenty-five dollars a week, each, for bed; twenty dollars a
week for board."

Mr. Adams shook his head, and looked at Charley.

"I'm afraid we'll have to try elsewhere," he said.  "Let's go across
the street."

"City Hotel is full; you can't get even blanket room," declared the
clerk.  "The Frémont Hotel, down on the water-front, charges the same
as we do, and supplies fleas for nothing.  If you don't want the room,
stand aside.  Next!"

"But aren't your rates pretty high?" queried Mr. Adams, puzzled.

"High, my friend?" retorted the clerk.  "Do you know where you are?
You're in San Francisco, where people dig gold in the streets.  And do
you know what rent we pay, for this building?  One hundred and ten
thousand dollars a year, my friend.  The Eldorado tent-building next to
us rents at $40,000 the year; it measures exactly fifteen by
twenty-five feet.  Out here, gentlemen, a hole in the ground rents for
at least $250 a month.  Last April there were but thirty houses in the
whole town, and now there are 500."

"We don't want the room for a week.  We'll take it for a night, though.
We're on our way to the mines," said Mr. Adams.

"So is everybody else," sharply answered the clerk.  "For one night the
room is five dollars apiece, and I'll be losing money at that."

"All right.  We've got a trunk out in front.  Have it sent up, please."

"Can't do it, sir.  Every man is his own porter, in this town.  The
stairs are fairly wide.  I'll show you up."

The Mexicans had dropped the trunk on the long porch, and refused to
carry it another inch.  And when they were to be paid off, they
insisted that the two dollars meant two dollars apiece!  Bystanders
gravely agreed that this was the correct price.

"Whew!" sighed Mr. Adams, with a quizzical smile, after he had paid.
"No wonder that twenty dollars a day is small wages, out here.  What an
enormous amount of money there must be in circulation!  Grab an end,
Charley.  Come along, Grigsby.  Let's inspect our quarters."



XV

THE SIGHTS OF SAN FRANCISCO

Charley took one end of the trunk, his father the other, and piloted by
the hotel man, with Mr. Grigsby, lugging the hand baggage, in their
wake, they climbed two flimsy flights of stairs to the third floor!
The hotel man led the way down a narrow hall of rough boards, and flung
open a door.

"Here's your room," he announced, shortly.  "Don't ask for what you
don't see.  We haven't got it.  You're lucky, gentlemen, not to be
obliged to sleep in a tent--and San Francisco nights are cold.  Five
dollars each, please."

"Certainly," said Mr. Adams; and he and Mr. Grigsby settled for the
party.

"Well," remarked Mr. Grigsby, when the hotel man alertly left, "I've
been in worse quarters."

"Don't bump your head," warned Mr. Adams.

It was a dormer room.  The ceiling, of bare rafters, sloped sharply.
The walls also were bare, made of unsurfaced boards, warped and
cracked.  There were two "beds": one a low bunk, home-made and solid
but not pretty, the other a wobbly canvas cot.  Each had a pair of gray
blankets as bedclothes.  There were a couple of rickety chairs, a
home-made table bearing a wash pitcher and a tin basin, with a towel
hanging from a nail over it, beside a cracked looking-glass, and in the
end of the room a small window dulled by dust.  Charley tried to look
out through the window, but could dimly see only the tops of the roofs,
across.  From below, and from the city around, floated in through the
thin floors and walls a medley of voices and bustle.

"Guess we'd better unpack some of our stuff, and sort what washing we
want done," quoth his father, cheerily.  "When we take it out we can
look about and get what other supplies we need; eh, Grigsby?  What are
your plans?"

"Same as yours, if you say so," answered the Frémonter.

"You mean to say you'll go along with Charley and me?"

"Why, yes.  This town's too crowded for me, already.  Doesn't strike me
as a very healthy place to loaf in.  Money, money; that's all I've
heard.  So I'm off for the diggin's, like the rest."

"Good.  Shake," approved Mr. Adams, and Charley felt delighted.  The
Frémonter was such a fine man; a loyal friend in need.  "We'll stick
together as long as you can stand our company."

"Agreed," quoth Mr. Grigsby, shaking.  "There'll be room enough in the
hills for us to spread out, if we want to."

They overhauled their baggage and wrapped their wash in some old
newspapers that had been stuffed into the trunk.  Then they sallied
forth.

"Pshaw!  There's no lock on the door," exclaimed Charley's father.  "I
hate to leave all our stuff scattered around, in that fashion."

"It'll be all right, I reckon," said Mr. Grigsby.  "Ask the clerk about
it."

"The door to our room has no lock," spoke Mr. Adams, to the hotel man,
when they had tramped below.  "We've got quite a bunch of goods lying
open."

"That's all right, sir," answered the clerk.  "They'll not be touched.
Not a door in this hotel has a lock.  Thieves are given short shift in
San Francisco, and they know it.  You can leave a bucket of gold out in
the street and it'll all be there when you want it again."

"Beg your pardon, gentlemen," spoke a voice near at hand, "but I see
you're carrying a newspaper or two.  Would you sell them?"

He was a brusque, bearded man, in miner costume, but he spoke like a
person of education.

"I'll give you a dollar apiece," cried another man, hurrying forward;
and almost immediately the three in the Adams party were surrounded by
a crowd.

"Wait a minute," bade the first man.  "I was here first.  I'll give you
a dollar apiece."

Charley gasped.  Were they crazy?

"But, gentlemen, these are only some old papers we happened to have as
fillers," protested Mr. Adams, as much astonished as Charley.

"How many have you got?" demanded the second speaker.

"Probably a dozen."

"Where from?"

"St. Louis; two or three from New York, maybe."

"I'll give you eight dollars for the lot."

"Give you nine," bid somebody else.

"But they're six weeks old, gentlemen," informed Mr. Adams.

"Only six weeks old?" queried the first man.  "I'll give you ten
dollars for a dozen!  And here's your money."  He held out a ten-dollar
gold piece.

"Go up and get the other papers, Charley," directed Mr. Adams.  "If
these men are crazy it isn't our fault.  When you see the papers, if
you don't want them you needn't take them, sir," he said to the man.

"I'll take them," laughed the man, grimly.  "Papers only six weeks old?
Why, stranger, that's fresh news out here.  You can sell a thousand at
a dollar apiece."

"Wish I had them, then," remarked Mr. Adams.  And Charley scuttled
away.  He brought back all the crumpled papers that he could find.
They sold every one--the first lot at ten dollars for a dozen, and the
three more, in which the washing was wrapped, at dollar apiece on
delivery later!

"This will pay for our washing, at least," commented Mr. Adams.  "Is
there a laundry near here?" he asked, of the clerk.

"Right around the corner."

"Thank you."

They went out--Charley sighing as he thought of the big stack of old
newspapers, back home.  Why, they might have brought out a hundred
more!  What a queer town this was, where people would pay a dollar
apiece for old papers!  He resolved to write to his mother the first
thing, and tell her when _she_ came out to bring every old paper she
could find.

The air was much chillier than when they had arrived.  A strong, gusty
wind was blowing, carrying clouds of dust, and because of this, and a
raw fog, the sunshine had waned from gold to gray.  Nevertheless,
something in the atmosphere made them all step out briskly.

Around the corner of the plaza a torn canvas sign before a dingy
tent-house said: "Washing Done."  And in through the open door they
filed.  A short, stout Frenchman, apparently, stood behind the board
counter, and bowed at their approach.  He wore a little black spike or
goatee, and his face fairly shone above a collarless shirt.  From a
room behind sounded vigorous scrubbing and rinsing.

"You do washing?" demanded Mr. Adams.

"Oui, m'sieur."

"Here's some.  When can we get it?"

"To-morrow morning, at the ten o'clock.  And does m'sieur wish ze
_repassage_--what you call ir-ron?"

"What's the charge?" asked Mr. Grigsby.

"Seex dollair the dozen, m'sieur, for ze wash; the same for ze ir-ron."

"There goes your newspaper money, Adams," laughed the Frémonter.  "I
think I'll do my own washing, after this."

"We have to live, my wife and I, messieurs," explained the Frenchman,
spreading his hands.  "In France we live on ze very little.  In New
York we have one très bon café, and we charge ze very little.  But out
here----" and he shrugged his shoulders.  "We wash, and for zis
meesairable caban--what you call it? hut--we pay ze price of 500
dollair ze month."

"Wash what we've brought, but don't you dare to iron them; eh,
Grigsby?" said Mr. Adams.

"Ze rough wash it shall be, messieurs," bowed the stout Frenchman.

"On the trap trail we washed twice a year--spring and fall," commented
Mr. Grigsby, as they trudged out.  "That's plenty often enough here,
too, the way prices run."

"Look at the crowd!" exclaimed Mr. Adams, as they emerged at the
corner; for part way up a hilly street a great throng had gathered in
front of a low building, and a constant stream of other people were
hastening that way.  "What's the matter up there?" he inquired, of a
passerby.

The man scarcely paused.  He only turned his head, to drawl:

"Post-office, mister, and the mail's come in."

"That must be the mail we brought," cried Charley.

"If you came on the _California_, you brought it, sonny," informed
another stranger.

"When's the office open, sir?" inquired Mr. Adams.

"Whenever the mail's distributed, of course," replied the man.  "I hear
the _California_ fetched about 25,000 pieces, in all languages from
American to Chinese.  The postmaster and two assistants have been
working all night and they'll probably work all day and another night."

"Well, we don't expect anything this time; do you, Grigsby?"

The Frémonter shook his head.

"Nor do I," volunteered the strange man.  "But I've a partner up there
who's been expecting a letter for six months.  See those lines of
hopefuls?  By noon they'll be extended two blocks.  The first in line
must have got there as soon as the ship was sighted, last evening.
I've known men to wait in line for a week, and have their meals brought
to them.  And then as like as not they didn't get their letter."

"I was thinking that we'd get what few supplies we need," said Mr.
Adams, as they resumed their way, "and start out for the diggin's in
the morning.  There'll be some way of getting up there, I suppose."

"Yes, by boat, horse or foot," answered the Frémonter.  "I don't reckon
we want to buy any horses, and it's a long trail afoot.  I'll see about
a boat if you'll lay in what supplies you think we'll need."

"All right.  Sugar, salt, flour, bacon and potatoes will be enough,
won't it?"

"Plenty.  I'll meet you at the hotel at noon.  Adios."

"Adios," replied Mr. Adams and Charley; and the tall Frémonter strode
away.

The throng at the post-office seemed to have no effect on the rest of
the down-town, for the streets were as crowded as before with hurrying
people, mostly men.  New Yorkers, Arkansans, Illinoisans, Britishers,
Germans, Frenchmen, Swedes, Mexicans, Malays with long curved knives,
the queer Chinamen, and some swarthy persons, in brown ponchos (or
cloaks with a hole in the middle for the head), who his father said
were Peruvians and Chilians--all these passed hither-thither, only
pausing to bargain with each other or at the shops, until Charley's
brain whirled at the many odd sights.  There were a few women, but none
who looked to him anything like his mother.

Across the plaza his father espied a new sign, in front of a shop built
of boxes.  It said: "Potatoes for Sale.  Just Received."

"That's what we want, Charley," he spoke; and for the place they made.
The potatoes were in open sacks, just inside the door--and that was the
shop's whole stock of goods.

"How much are your potatoes, my man?" asked Mr. Adams.  "They look
pretty good."

"One dollar and a half.  Yes, sir; they are good ones; came in only
this morning."

"Let me have a bushel, then, at a dollar and a half," bade Mr. Adams,
with satisfaction.  "That's not an unreasonable price, is it, Charley!"

"We don't sell by the bushel; I quoted you the price by the pound,"
explained the potato merchant.

"What!" gasped Charley's father, again astounded.  "You don't mean a
dollar and a half a _pound_?"

"You bet," smiled the merchant.  "And going like hot cakes at that.
I'll not have a potato left, by night."

"Come on, Charley," laughed Mr. Adams.  "We'll wait and grow our own
potatoes."

"I'll take all you can grow at your own price," challenged the
merchant, after them, as if growing potatoes out here in California was
impossible.

Suddenly a score of voices yelled: "Look out!  Look out!"  The crowd
jostling and bartering in the plaza parted and rushed to one side and
another, and people plunged headlong into the store doors.  Mr. Adams
grabbed Charley by the arm and dragged him in the nearest doorway, too.
Amidst wild shouts and a cloud of dust, into the plaza charged a lean
red bull, with curving sharp horns and frothing mouth; close at his
heels pursued, on dead run, a horseman in Mexican costume, swinging his
riata, or noosed rawhide.  The bull dodged--bolted right over a stand
where cakes were on sale--and over the stand sped the horseman, too.
His noose shot forward--it fell exactly over the bull's wide horns, and
to one side veered the quick horse.  He braced as the rawhide tautened;
it snapped tight, and head down, heels up, the bull capsized in a
twinkling.  The fiery horse held hard, bracing with his legs, while the
Californian sat straight and easy.  As the bull struggled, with a
shrill whoop another rider like the first raced in, threw at full
speed, and noosed the bull by the two hind legs.  With wave of hand and
flash of teeth the vaqueros, or cowboys, rode away, dragging the bull
through the plaza and out.  The plaza filled up again, the shops
resumed business, and nobody appeared to be annoyed.  Even the cake
seller gathered his cakes and joined in the laughter while several
persons helped him set up his booth again.  Truly, this San Francisco
was a light-hearted, generous place.

"I should think that a man would make surer money farming than digging
for gold," declared Mr. Adams, after he and Charley had noted eggs
priced at twelve dollars a dozen, squashes at a dollar a pound, and
some cabbages at two dollars apiece!  "Hello; there's Lieutenant
Sherman."  For a spruce military figure was briskly crossing this plaza
of Portsmouth Square.

Lieutenant Sherman saw them, as he approached and smiled.

"Not off to the mines yet?" he greeted.

"Not yet.  I was just saying to Charley that farming looked better to
me than mining, in this country, judging by prices of common produce."

"It's all shipped in," stated the lieutenant, in his quick voice.
"Nobody now has any time for farming; and before this excitement
everybody had too much time.  The Californians lived on beef,
_tortillas_ and beans, all of which was easy.  They wouldn't take the
trouble even to milk a cow.  The missions tried to teach agriculture to
the Indians, and now since some Americans have taken up ranches a few
patches have been ploughed, for the home table.  But the wheat, barley
and live stock, which grow without attention, are about all you'll find
on tens of thousands of acres.  California is dry and barren.  I've
ridden over a great deal of it, and I once wrote East that I wouldn't
give two counties in Ohio, Kentucky or Tennessee for the whole
territory.  It never will amount to anything except for gold
production.  When do you start?"

"To-morrow morning."

"All right.  Good luck to you.  Our headquarters offices are in the old
custom-house; drop in if you need any information I can give you.
General Persifor Smith and family are lodged in the lower room of the
old Hudson's Bay Company house on Montgomery Street.  Every servant but
one, and he is a negro, has deserted us; and the general does the
marketing and sometimes the cooking.  The rest of us occupy the second
floor, and hustle for our meals the best we can.  You're well out of
this hurly-burly where the commander of all the United States forces on
the Pacific coast must do his own housework!  When we move over to the
new post at Benicia perhaps things will be better."

So saying, the busy lieutenant strode on.

By the time that Charley and his father had succeeded in purchasing
what few supplies they could afford, they had pretty nearly seen San
Francisco.  It certainly was a queer jumble.  Buildings and population
alike were of the hasty, rough-and-ready style; but already a brick
store, for the merchant firm of Howard & Mellus, had gone up and had
cost a dollar a brick!  In the stores, no matter how constructed, every
kind of goods was being sold, signs bore high-sounding names such as
the Alhambra, Delmonico's, United States Hotel, and other signs were
being added hourly; from the wharf on Montgomery Street to the top of
the Clay Street hill beyond the post-office busy hammers beat a great
chorus, in the bay flew hundreds of flags, and in the streets
school-teachers, bankers, lawyers and farmers rubbed elbows with
Mexicans, Peruvians, Chinamen and Kanakas, while all talked in terms of
thousands of dollars.  Why, here was New York, New Orleans and St.
Louis thrown together and boiled down.

Up at the post-office the post-master and his clerks evidently were
still sorting out the 25,000 letters, for the lines of waiters were
unbroken.

Mr. Grigsby was promptly on hand, at noon, in the hotel.  He reported
that he had engaged passage on a sail-boat, the _Mary Ann_, for the
town of Sacramento, 120 miles north up the Sacramento River.

"That is," he added, "if you want to try the American River country,
where the first diggin's are.  Sacramento is the old _embarcadero_
[which, as Charley found out, was the Spanish for boat-landing] for
Sutter's Fort, up the American.  The fare is thirty dollars, and I paid
ten dollars apiece down, to hold our places till two o'clock."

"All right," approved Mr. Adams.  "We'll go.  Now let's eat.  Hear the
dinner bells!  It must be a hungry town."

And that would seem so, indeed.  From every hotel and restaurant issued
a clamor of hand-bells and of gongs, each apparently vying with the
other to make noise.  It sounded like a Fourth of July!  People began
to rush into the Parker-house, and in a jiffy the long tables were
filled.  The Adams party got seats just in time.

The price of the meal was two dollars, for beef (splendid beef, too),
bread, potatoes, and coffee or chocolate.  There wasn't any milk or
butter.  However, as Mr. Grigsby remarked, one could easily eat a
dollar's worth of potatoes at a helping!  The food was very good and
well cooked.  Charley heard somebody say that the cook was a famous
chef from New York, and drew a salary of $2000 a month.  Even the
waiters (who were men in shirt-sleeves) were paid $300 a month, and
board.

"I believe I'll go up to the room and rest a bit," announced Mr. Adams,
after dinner.  "The rest of you can do as you please."

"You aren't sick, are you, dad?" asked Charley, anxiously.

"Not a bit.  I feel a hundred per cent. stronger than when we left
home.  But I mustn't overdo.  I'll take a nap and write a letter to
your mother.  There'll be a mail out next week, and not another for
maybe thirty or forty days.  Shall I leave the letter open for you?"

"Yes, please," bade Charley, a lump in his throat at the mere thought
of his mother.  "I'll add a lot to it after I come back."

"I'll tell her we've not found our gold mine yet, but we've sold our
newspapers for a dollar apiece and spent that for washing," laughed his
father.

"Tell her to send us out all the old papers she has," begged Charley,
excitedly.  "And potatoes and cabbages, from the garden!"

"I saw a man buy a whole cargo of eggs, down at the water-front," put
in Mr. Grigsby, "at thirty-seven and a half cents a dozen, and he
turned right around and resold 100 dozen of them at six dollars the
dozen!  You can't afford to be sick here, Adams.  The doctors charge
$50 for a visit, and the same for every hour after the first look-in.
Come along, Charley, and we'll see the sights while I do a few errands
on my own account.  I hear Colonel Frémont's in town.  Maybe we can
catch him."



XVI

CHARLEY HEARS A CONVERSATION

"If you're looking for Colonel Frémont, you'll likely find him at the
United States Hotel," hailed the hotel clerk, as Charley and Mr.
Grigsby passed the counter.  "He's there with General Vallejo, I
understand."

"Good!" exclaimed Mr. Grigsby.  "You know who Frémont is," he said, to
Charley; and Charley nodded.  Of course he knew.  Frémont was the great
explorer--Frémont the Pathfinder, they called him.  He it was who,
arrived in California on his third exploring expedition for the
Government, early in 1846, had been on hand to lead in the taking of
California from Mexico.  His stories of his travels made fine reading.
"Well, this General Vallejo is Don Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.  He was
the military governor of Upper California before the war, but he's been
a great friend of the Americans, although he was the first man they
captured in the uprising of Forty-six.  Nobody has a word to say
against General Vallejo.  He wanted California to belong to the United
States, and said so, when other Californians were favoring England and
France instead of Mexico, after it was seen that Mexico couldn't hold
it.  Fact is, General Vallejo it was who started San Francisco.  Not
this San Francisco, but Benicia, at the other end of the bay.  He
donated the land, and only asked that the city be named Francisca,
after his wife, Francisca Benicia.  He gave a tract an mile wide by
five miles long.  It's a better site for a big city than this is, they
say, because it's not so steep and is only across a narrow strait from
the mainland, and has deep-water anchorage.  Most of the steamers go
there now, to anchor, and it has the naval and military headquarters,
at Mare Island and at the new post going up.  This place was only Yerba
Buena--Good Herb Cove--a landing-place for the San Francisco mission.
But the settlers already here got ahead of the Vallejo plan, and
renamed their town San Francisco, because of San Francisco Bay; and the
name has made it grow.  The general and Thomas O. Larkin (who was the
Government consul and agent) and Doc Robert Semple, who's an old-time
trapper from Kentucky and is about seven feet high, went ahead and
started the other town, and having lost out on Francisca called it by
Mrs. Vallejo's other name, Benicia.  But it never has amounted to much
as a town.  I thought I'd tell you about General Vallejo.  He and
Frémont are a good pair--Americans both, though one is French, born in
Georgia, the other is Mexican, born in California."

The same boys whom Charley had seen in the morning were scratching for
gold in front of the United States Hotel, and quarreling over their
finds, which stuck to the moistened heads of the pins they were using.

"There he is, now--and the General with him," spoke Mr. Grigsby,
quickening pace as he and Charley approached across the street.

Two men were just leaving the hotel porch.  One was of medium height,
erect and slender, in a broad silvered Californian hat and a short
velvet jacket embroidered with gilt.  The other was taller and heavier
and darker, in ordinary citizen's clothes.  Charley guessed that the
first was Colonel Frémont.

That was so, for going directly to him, Mr. Grigsby extended his brown,
sinewy hand, saying:

"Colonel, do you remember me?"

Colonel Frémont gave him one flashing glance out of a pair of deep-set,
very keen, dark blue eyes.  A handsome man was the Pathfinder, with
such eyes, a clean-cut, imperious nose, and a crisp full brown beard.

"Hello, Grigsby," he said, grasping the hand heartily.  "Do you think I
could forget one of my own men?  The General remembers you, too, I'll
wager."

"With pleasure," said General Vallejo; and he, also, shook hands.  He
was older than Colonel Frémont, was General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo,
and even more commanding in his appearance.  His face was large and
dignified, in its black beard, his forehead was high and broad, and his
dark eyes piercing.

Mr. Grigsby introduced Charley, and they both shook hands with him.

"We're off to the mines in the morning, and I wanted to pay my respects
and introduce this boy, here, before we left," explained Mr. Grigsby.
"Are your family here, Colonel?  And yours, General?"

"The General's are north at Sonoma, I believe," answered the
Pathfinder.  "Mine are on their way back to Monterey.  What trail do
you take, Grigsby?  The northern mines, or the southern?"

"We'll try the northern, up the American; by boat as far as Sacramento."

"Our old stamping-ground of the American fork, eh?" remarked the
Colonel.  "I well recall our first trip in, across the mountains, in
that winter of early Forty-four, when Sutter's Fort was the only
habitation.  Who'd have thought that in five years there'd be towns all
along the old trail, and thousands of white men pushing in from
mountains and ocean both, to scratch and burrow like gophers!  You
won't know the place, Grigsby!  When were you there last?"

"A year ago."

"You won't know it, just the same."

"No," agreed General Vallejo, earnestly.

"There's still plenty of gold, is there?" queried Mr. Grigsby.  This
was an important question, to Charley.

The Colonel shrugged his shoulders and laughed.  The General gravely
smiled.  Answered the Colonel:

"Gold?  Lots of it, and people finding it.  The diggings along the
American and the Yuba and the Feather are in full blast; and then there
are the southern mines, up the San Joaquin Valley, in the Mokelumne and
Calaveras districts.  I'm going over there myself to-morrow or next
day.  If you see Captain Sutter up north, tell him that any help he can
give you will be appreciated by me."

"Your rancho is prosperous, Colonel?"

"Fairly so.  You know we've named it Mariposa, or Lily Ranch.  I had
intended to stock it to cattle, but the mining excitement has changed
my plans and all my ranch machinery is stored here in town.  The land
has so much mineral on it, we've discovered, that I'll work that first
if the Government doesn't object.  Unfortunately mineral claims are not
supposed to go with Mexican land grants.  While my family are here we
make our quarters in the Happy Valley section.  I have a saw-mill
started back of San José, too.  Should you come that way, be sure and
stop off with me."

"And should you come to Sonoma, do me the honor of making my house your
home," said the General.  "And pray do not forget that in September we
of California hold a statehood convention at Monterey, to frame a State
constitution.  All good citizens are requested to be present."

"The State of California, already!  Think of that!" exclaimed Mr.
Grigsby.

"And a free State, too, if we can make it so," added Colonel Frémont,
his blue eyes aglow.  "California's free now, to everybody.  One man is
as good as another.  I was born in the South, but I'm against slavery.
California has started gloriously free, and she ought to remain so."

"I'm with you, there, gentlemen," quoth Mr. Grigsby.  "Certainly this
is the one population, away out here like a big family, where slavery
has no place or reason.  Anybody who will work ought to be allowed to
make a living.  This gold and land weren't put here for the benefit of
a few."

They all shook hands again.  The Colonel and the General paced away, on
their business.  Mr. Grigsby and Charley went ahead on theirs.  And
Charley never forgot his first meeting with the celebrated Pathfinder
and the stately ex-governor.

He was tired enough when he and Mr. Grigsby had completed their
errands.  But he found his father rested and up, and waiting with the
home letter just finished.  Charley added four pages; but he had so
much to tell that he didn't say half of it.  'Twas a wonderful country,
let alone the marvelous journey behind it.  He only regretted that he
didn't pick up a little gold, in the streets, so as to enclose that in
the letter, too.

His father had made arrangements to store their trunk, and what clothes
they would not need while at the mines.

"Now all that remains is to get our washing early--and, by the way, the
Frenchman promises to have it ready by six o'clock--and a pack animal
at Sacramento," he pronounced.  "That is, if we can find one."

"If Captain Sutter is there, we'll find our pack animal," asserted Mr.
Grigsby.

"And if we don't, we can carry our own packs," declared Mr. Adams.
"That's the way the majority of the people are going in.  By the way,
several persons have told me we ought to try the southern mines, up the
San Joaquin, beyond the new town called Stockton.  But of course we
have our reasons."

"It's all luck, to the greenhorn," replied the Fremonter.  "But I think
the American or the Feather country fits that map better."

After supper they took a stroll, before they turned in early to get a
good night's sleep.  Surely there never was a gayer, busier place than
San Francisco at night.  The wind, which had been blowing most of the
day, dropped, at evening, and a dense fog floated in.  In the fog the
lights of lamps, lanterns and candles shone weirdly from doors and
windows and through canvas walls.  Now about every other store appeared
to be a saloon or gambling room, all crowded.  There were other places
of amusement, also, even to a sort of a theatre, where miners were
dancing with one another, on the floor, to the sound of a fiddle and
cracked accordion, while on a stage a thin woman with painted red
cheeks was singing and prancing.  An auctioneer was selling real
estate, from a dry-goods box in the plaza.  Stores were open, the
streets were thronged, hammering and music and shouting were mingled
just as in the night before; and after the Adams party had gone to bed
they found it hard work to sleep.

The hotel itself was noisy, for voices carried right through the floors
and the thin partitions.  Charley tried not to listen, and was just
dozing off at last, when a new conversation, somewhere along the hall,
made him prick up his ears.  There evidently were two men.

"You've never heard of Tom, have you?" asked one voice.

"Not a word, since he started back to the States to find his
relatives," answered a gruffer voice.

"Hadn't many, had he?"

"Nephew by marriage, is all he ever mentioned."

"He did well while he was here, and it's a pity he threw up and left.
Somebody's jumped his claims by this time, sure.  Fact is, you can't
leave a claim over night, without having somebody jump into it and
squat.  People are getting crazy, running 'round wild-like and grabbing
any land they fancy.  The Government will have to step in and make
laws."

"That's right; but Tom had one claim that he banked on and said nobody
could find."

"You mean the Golden West?"

"Yes.  Somewhere up north."

"In the American or the Feather country, I always imagined.  He was
saving it till he could get that nephew, I reckon, to work it with him.
A quartz claim.  I saw specimens from it.  Well, let's go to sleep.  So
long."

"So long."

Charley's heart beat rapidly.  "The Golden West!"  That was the very
name of the mine they were seeking--the mine that had been given to
them by the mysterious Californian back in St. Louis!  In the American
River or Feather River country, the two men had said; and "Tom"; but
beyond that they didn't seem to know much more than did anybody else.
They had spoken of a nephew, though.  He wasn't entitled to it, was
he--even if the man in St. Louis had been looking for him?  The man had
given it to him, Charley, and to his, Charley's, father, because they
had helped him.  Shucks!  Now the nephew might be hunting for it, and
the long-nosed man and partners were hunting for it, and it didn't
belong to any of them.

Charley had half a mind to get out of bed and find those two men.  He
wanted to see them, at least.  But to snoop through the hall, asking
people in the rooms if they had been talking about "Tom," would be a
crazy proceeding.  No; all he could do was to wait till morning and
tell his father and Mr. Grigsby what he had heard.  He wished that they
weren't sleeping so soundly, and snoring without a pause.  He could
scarcely wait--until he fell asleep himself.

It appeared to be the fashion in San Francisco to sleep late.  Perhaps
everybody was tired out.  The early morning hours were the only quiet
hours, and when Charley was wakened by the movements of his father and
Mr. Grigsby, the rest of the hotel seemed to be still in bed.

"All aboard, Charley," bade his father, leaning over the bunk.  He was
dressed, and so was Mr. Grigsby.  The air in the room was chill and
gray.

"All right," answered Charley.  "But wait a minute.  I want to tell you
and Mr. Grigsby what I heard, while you were asleep.  Got to speak low,
though."  And with them listening, close to him as he sat up, he
repeated every word of the conversation.  "That nephew doesn't get any
of it, just the same; does he?" he added.  "It's ours."

"Now, Charley," laughed his father, "you're going too fast.  Nobody can
have it till after somebody finds it.  We've come 6000 miles, and what
do we know?  There was a man named Tom, who is supposed to have had a
mine in Northern California named the Golden West, and a nephew back in
the States.  That's too indefinite to argue about."

"A quartz claim," reminded Mr. Grigsby.  "That's one clue of value.
There aren't many quartz claims in the country.  Nearly all the mining
is placer.  People prefer to dig in the dirt rather than blast in the
rock.  It's quicker."

"Quartz let it be, then," agreed Mr. Adams.  "That does help out a bit;
but we won't discuss ownership yet, except with that man Jacobs.  Him
I'll resist to the full extent of law and strength."

"What is a quartz claim?" queried Charley.

"Well," said Mr. Grigsby, "gold may be loose in the dirt, or held in
rock.  The first is a placer, the other is a vein or lode.  Nearly all
the mining out here is placer mining, where the dirt is dug out and
washed away, leaving the gold.  But of course the gold in the placer
beds must have come out of a vein somewhere above.  It doesn't grow
like grass.  'Cording to the scientific idee it was melted into the
rock, first, like into quartz, and then was worn away by the weather
and carried into the dirt.  I don't fancy breaking up rock, to get
gold, when in a placer it's already been broken for you.  But they say
quartz mining can be made to pay well, if you have the proper
machinery.  As like as not this man 'Tom' was waiting for machinery."

"Tom."  Tom who?  And what was his nephew's name?  And did his nephew
know about the mine?  And was he out here looking for it?  These and
other questions Charley kept putting to himself, because nobody could
answer them for him.  The main thing now, anyway, was to get off, to
the "diggin's."

They paid their bill, shouldered their baggage, and wearing their
complete miner's costumes (Charley sporting his knife and his belt)
they proceeded down to Long Wharf and the _Mary Ann_.  On their way
they collected their washing from the bowing Frenchman.

Long Wharf was the principal wharf, where they had climbed the stairs
when landing from the _California_, and was at the foot of Clay Street,
just beyond Montgomery, only a few blocks from the plaza of Portsmouth
Square.  The tide was half in, partially covering the ugly mud-flats,
and extending all around the wharf.

Considerable of a crowd had collected, on the wharf.  They were in
flannel shirts and boots and coarse trousers belted about with pistol
and knife, and were laden with baggage rolls.  Evidently they, too,
were off to the mines; perhaps by the _Mary Ann_.

"That must be the schooner, out yonder--I can see _Mary Ann_ on her
stern," spoke Mr. Grigsby.  "And I reckon that's her boat coming in."

"I'll get you out quicker'n that, stranger, if you're for the _Mary
Ann_," cut in an alert by-stander.  "Five dollars for the trip; safety
guaranteed."

"Not to-day," smiled Mr. Grigsby.

A skiff was being pulled in, from a schooner anchored out a short
distance.  At a nod from Mr. Grigsby, Charley and his father pressed
forward with him, to meet the boat at the foot of the long stairs.
Yes, it was from the _Mary Ann_; and they and a dozen others (or as
many as the boat would hold) tumbled in.

The _Mary Ann_ was a small schooner, about fifty feet long and twenty
feet wide.  She had one little cabin with four rooms, so that the
passengers were expected to sleep on deck or in the hold, where bunks
had been built along the sides, with the dining table (of boards) in
the middle!  However, who cared, when they were off to the mines and
this was one way to get there?

"How long'll it take us, to Sacramento, captain?" hailed one of his
passengers.

"Five days with luck; two weeks without," snapped the captain, a very
short, red-faced little man, giving orders right and left and sending
mate and sailors running, as the _Mary Ann_ swung free from her
anchorage.  Up went the foresail and out shook the jib.  Leaning, the
_Mary Ann_ slowly gathered way, gliding through the ripples.

The great Bay of San Francisco was beautiful.  The morning sun had
broken through the fog, to gild the hundreds of ships, and the dancing
water.  Heeling to a smart breeze, the _Mary Ann_ soon passed vessel
after vessel lying at anchor--among them the _California_ herself.  The
jumble of low buildings and tents forming the city of San Francisco
dwindled, behind; the uproar of voices and hammers died; and heading
for the north the _Mary Ann_ clipped merrily along, the Golden Gate
entrance on her left, the rolling hills of the California mainland
distant on her right.

Her passengers numbered thirty-seven--about seven more than she ought
to hold, decided Charley.  Everybody was in high feather at the
prospects of being on the way to the "diggin's."  They pressed against
the weather rail, mounted atop the cook's galley and the cabin roof,
and several of the boldest even climbed aloft to the cross-trees of
fore-mast and mainmast, where they cheered and whooped.  Yes, it seemed
to be a sort of pleasure excursion.  Voices were constantly shouting.

"That's Goat Island, isn't it?  The first one we passed."

"There's Alcatraz."

"Hurrah for Angel Island!  Anybody want to land?"

"Is this still San Francisco Bay?"

"Of course it is."

"Where's San Pablo Bay, then?"

"At the end, before we turn into the Sacramento River."

The _Mary Ann_ was making good time.  The red-faced little captain
stood near the wheel, with folded arms and vigilant eye, as if he was
very proud of her.  All the shipping at anchor had been left behind
long ago, and now the schooner seemed to have joined with a regular
procession of small boats, hastening in the same direction as she.
Some were sail-boats, many were skiffs and launches; all were crowded,
and in a great hurry.

The bay narrowed, and between two points called San Pablo (or Saint
Paul) and San Pedro (or Saint Peter), guarded by islands called the
Brothers and the Sisters, the _Mary Ann_ entered San Pablo Bay, which
really was a round basin forming the north end of San Francisco Bay.

The bell below was ringing for dinner, but the _Mary Ann_ had turned
more toward the east, and against the land, in front, could be seen the
masts of more shipping.

"That must be at Mare Island, and at Benicia beyond," said Mr. Grigsby.
"You know how Mare Island gets its name?  Because there used to be a
big herd of elk on it, led by an old mare.  The Government's going to
make a naval station of it.  Benicia is the town General Vallejo
donated the site of.  There's where the army headquarters are being
built.  Well, guess we'll have time to eat, before we get there."

"Come ahead, Charley," bade his father.

The dinner really was very good; and if anybody still was hungry, a
sign on the cook's galley announced, invitingly: "Pies One Dollar."
Charley saw several of the miners buying pies and eating them.

When the Adams party came up on deck again, the _Mary Ann_ had passed
Mare Island, where some vessels, among them two ships of war, were
anchored, and was entering a narrow opening named the Straits of
Carquinez.  On the right the mountains approached very close.  On the
left appeared more shipping, and the houses and tents of a town.  This
was Benicia, and a prettily located place it was, too, with the ground
sloping upward, behind it, and the massy brown crest of Mount Diablo,
landmark seen from the Golden Gate, rising across the strait, before.

Beyond Benicia the straits opened into Suisun Bay--a pocket into which
emptied the Sacramento River and the San Joachin River.  The San
Joaquin River came in on the south.  Anybody going to the southern gold
mines would sail up the San Joachin to Stockton; but the _Mary Ann_ was
bound for the Sacramento and the northern mines; so she kept on,
through Suisun Bay, past a town of one house, on the south side, and
named (people said, laughing) the New-York-of-the-Pacific, for the
mouth of the Sacramento.



XVII

ON TO THE DIGGIN'S

Suisun Bay was bordered with reedy marshes where the rushes grew higher
than a man's head.  It seemed to be a great hunting ground, for ducks,
geese and swans flew in armies--a beautiful sight in the sunset.  These
quite excited the _Mary Ann's_ passengers, until suddenly somebody
noted, distant in the east, ahead, a long broken line of bluish white.

"Mountains!"

"Look at the mountains, boys!"

"No!  Those are clouds."

"No, siree!  Mountains, with snow on 'em!"

"Hooray for the Sierras, boys!  There's where the gold lies."

"See them?" bade Mr. Grigsby, to Charley and his father.  "That's the
main range of the Sierra Nevada--the Snowy Range, as the Spanish goes.
It divides California from the Great Desert.  Over it Carson led
Frémont and us other fellows, in winter, through ten and twenty feet of
snow, to the headwaters of the American River and down the American
River to Sutter's Fort and the Sacramento.  How far away is that range,
do you think?"

"Near a hundred miles, I should judge," calculated Mr. Adams.

Various passengers were guessing twenty, fifty, one hundred and two
hundred miles--making all kinds of wild assertions.  But Charley's
father had struck pretty accurately, for he had seen mountains before,
in Mexico.

"Just about," approved Mr. Grigsby.  "The nearest perhaps seventy-five.
But Sacramento's more than sixty miles yet, by the river, and the high
Sierras are one hundred miles up the American from there."

As evening fell, the _Mary Ann_ was entering a wide channel through the
marshes where the San Joaquin River from the south and the Sacramento,
further on the east, emptied into Suisun Bay.  The mouth of the San
Joaquin, said several people, was narrow and shallow, and boats
ascending for Stockton and the southern mines frequently went aground
if the tide was out; but the Sacramento was wide and deep.  A mist or
fog began to veil the shores and water, and passengers prepared to go
to bed.  The Adams party decided to sleep rolled in their blankets on
deck--which suited Charley exactly.  He had grown fond of this open-air
sleeping, and planks did not seem hard any more.

The breeze died, and in the dusk the anchor rattled out, holding the
schooner short, near the mouth of the Sacramento.  All night the wild
fowl screamed--and all night the mosquitoes hummed.  Charley stuck his
head under his blanket and slept fairly well.

The sun rose red, and so did many of the passengers, for the mosquitoes
had been fierce indeed.  But everybody was good-natured; a few
hardships must be expected, in making a fortune.  With the morning
breeze the _Mary Ann_ hoisted in her anchor.  All sails set again, she
glided through the slough, and struck the current of the Sacramento.

The Sacramento proved to be a fine, noble stream, flowing 200 and 300
yards wide, with gentle current and plenty of "sea room" around and
under.  The banks were heavily timbered clear to the water's edge,
flowers blossomed gaily, and through grassy openings in the timber on
the right were given glimpses of the distant foothills, over-topped by
the blue-misted snow-crests behind them.  It certainly looked like a
wonderful country, not only for mining but for farming, also.

The banks appeared mainly deserted, save where squatters, as they were
called, had taken land, cleared it, and had piled up wood to sell.
There was one spot which Mr. Grigsby said was an Indian village, and he
pointed out reed huts.  But the most interesting feature was the boats,
most of them going up, a few coming down.

There were two schooners, larger than the _Mary Ann_, but crowded as
full, which, just ahead, tacking back and forth, sometimes were near,
sometimes far.  There were also smaller boats, skiffs and scows, full
to the gunwales, their passengers rowing and paddling hard, as if in a
race.  In one funny hand-made skiff the men were using boards and even
pans.  They scarcely paused to cheer the _Mary Ann_ as she triumphantly
glided past, and her passengers yelled:

"Bye-bye!"  "See you later!"  "We're bound for the mines.  Where are
you going?"  "Want a tow?"  And so forth, and so forth.  Another boat
was a suspiciously built yawl, which looked much like the boat in which
Charley had slept, over the stern of the _California_.  It held nine
men, three of them in sailor costumes; and on the bows a name evidently
had been scratched out.  Rowing desperately, the men in it barely
glanced up as the _Mary Ann_ passed.  They appeared to be anxious to
sheer off.

"Here's a runaway, I'll bet my hat," exclaimed the captain of the _Mary
Ann_, who happened to be standing near the Adams party.  "It's a ship's
boat, and those men row like sailors--let alone their clothes.  They've
taken French leave, for the mines.  It's impossible to hold a crew, in
San Francisco Bay.  If they can't steal a boat they'll swim ashore and
make their way on foot."

Now down the river came a broad scow, made of rough planks, and steered
by sweeps.  As it passed, the men in it (who wore miners' costumes)
waved their hands--and see; they held up gunny sacks and salt bags,
stuffed full and heavy.

"Just from the mines," they shouted.  "Back from the land of gold.
You're too late.  We got it all."

The sight of those fat, heavy sacks created intense excitement aboard
the _Mary Ann_.  The passengers rushed to the near rail; eyes bulged
and voices volleyed in a chorus of questions--and several persons
almost jumped overboard.

"Where'd you get it?"

"How much?"

"There's more, isn't there?"

"Wait a minute!"

"Stop the ship, captain!"

"Hey!  Show us a handful!"

Charley was as excited as anybody.  Big sacks of gold!  Think of that!
Look at them!  But the captain laughed, winking at Mr. Grigsby.

"Sand, boys; sand," he drawled.  "That's a trick of those up-river
fellows.  They load with bags of sand for ballast, and show them to the
other crowd.  Bah!"

At this Charley felt better, although he did not begrudge anybody a
sack of gold, if only there was enough left.

The _Mary Ann_ made rather slow progress.  The river, always broad and
smooth, curved in mighty sweeping bends, so that sometimes the breeze
was dead ahead.  Then the _Mary Ann_ must tack and tack, gaining only a
few yards in several hundred.  At night she tied up, to a tree; and
several of her passengers caught some fish from the rail.  Charley
tended a line, for a few minutes, and caught a cat-fish that weighed
twenty pounds; he couldn't pull it in until his neighbor helped.

The Sacramento evidently flowed through a wide valley, for mountains
were visible beyond the timber on either hand.  Each evening the
schooner stopped for the night, tying or anchoring.  Not until noon of
the fifth day on the river was any sign of settlement along the banks
encountered, although boats continued frequent.  But that noon a large
ranch was passed, where a settler by the name of Schwartz had been wise
enough to start in raising vegetables.  He had made over $15,000
already, claimed people aboard the schooner--yet for all that nobody on
the _Mary Ann_ seemed ready to farm instead of mine.

Next, ahead on the right bank, above the Schwartz ranch, appeared a
collection of houses and tents.  The _Mary Ann_ waxed excited again.

"There's Sacramento!"

"Get your things together, boys."

"Is that Sacramento, cap'n?"

"No, sir," answered the captain, shortly.  "That's only Sutterville."

"Do we stop?"

"No, sir; we do not."

"Where's Sacramento?"

"Three miles above."

"This must be the town old Captain Sutter's started," remarked Mr.
Grigsby, surveying it narrowly.  "Well, he's taken plenty of land to
spread out in."  And that was so, for about twenty houses were
scattered along the high bank for half a mile.  "Hope the old captain's
up at Sacramento.  I'd like to see him."

"How large is Sacramento, stranger?" asked a neighbor at the rail.

"Large, you say?" answered another.  "Make yore guess.  Last April when
I came out with my pile it had four houses.  Now I'm told it's boomin'
wuss'n San Francisco--and you know what that means."

"So you've been to the mines, have you?" invited Mr. Adams.

"Yes, sir; I have, sir.  You bet I have, sir."

"How'd you make it?"

"To the tune of $20,000 in two weeks, sir.  Then I was fool enough to
quit, and spend it all in San Francisco.  But here I'm back again, for
$50,000."

Instantly everybody within sound of his voice deluged him with
questions, as to "How much could be dug in a day," and other foolish
remarks.  Charley stared at him.  This certainly was a wonderful land.
If a man could make and spend $20,000 and then expect $50,000 more, why
should anyone remain poor?

"Look at the ships!" cried voices, as the _Mary Ann_ rounded a curve.

Against the timber to the right, before, rose a score and more of
mast-heads.  Above the timber floated a cloud of brown dust, as if
stirred by many feet.  And beyond the masts, in the midst of the trees,
could be descried tents and houses--a great number, laid out in
streets, with a levee of earth and sod piled high with freight and
baggage, fronting the river.  This was Sacramento, at last!

[Illustration: The voyage of the schooner "Mary Ann".  On the way from
San Francisco to the Gold Fields, 1849]

The _Mary Ann_ glided in on a long tack.  Down fluttered her main-sail,
presently down fluttered her fore-sail; and as she swung to, spilling
the breeze from her jibs, close to the bank at the end of the levee, a
sailor sprang into the water and swimming until he could wade carried a
hawser ashore.  This he made fast to the great root of a tree, washed
bare by the waters.  All up and down the banks other vessels were
moored likewise, to trees and trunks and roots, so that some of the
branches brushed the yards and spars.  A number of cook's galleys had
been set up on shore, as cabins, and several ship's figure-heads were
established like sign-posts!  It was a queer water-front--and what a
swarm of people it exhibited!

From the _Mary Ann_ Sacramento looked even busier than San Francisco.
It was better laid out, too, for the streets were regular and straight.

"Four houses and fifty people three months ago; 5,000 people now and
houses going up so fast you can't count 'em," said the red-faced
captain, as in obedience to his orders the mate dropped the schooner's
boats.  "Wish I'd bought some lots here when they were offered to
me--three for a thousand apiece."

"What are they worth now?" asked Charley, breathless.

"Well, sonny, a lot twenty feet wide is selling for $2,300."  And the
captain turned away.

The passengers were piling ashore; some would not wait for a boat; the
_Mary Ann_ had swung close to the bank, and they made running jumps
from the rail, to land sprawling in the shallows or to plump out of
sight and swim.  When the Adams party finally stepped from the skiff to
the levee (which was called _embarcadero_, of course) they were fairly
deafened by a multitude of cries from citizens who insisted upon their
buying lots.  But Mr. Grigsby sighted a stout, ruddy-faced man; and
exclaiming: "There's Captain Sutter!" made for him.

He and the captain shook hands heartily, and Mr. Grigsby brought his
friend over to the rest of the party.

"Captain Sutter, gentlemen," introduced the Frémonter (and Charley felt
quite like a man, to be included in "gentlemen").  "The first American
settler in California, and the friend of all the other Americans who
came after.  You've heard of Sutter's Fort.  He was the boss."

Captain Sutter was a short, stoutly built man, with crisp mustache and
goatee, and a military way.  His complexion was florid, his eyes very
blue, and his forehead so high that probably he was bald.  He looked to
be German (though really he was Swiss), and he spoke with a German
accent.  His manner was very courtly, as he bowed and shook hands.

"Yes, of Sutter's Fort--but where is that now?" he said.  "These gold
seekers, they run over it; they leave me nothing.  They have no rights
of land to respect.  Ach, what is the country coming to?  All here was
mine, once.  See, now!  Somebody put up a city, on this _embarcadero_
where I landed my supplies for my fort.  My saw-mill is a hotel--the
City Hotel--and for it and the land it is on somebody gets $30,000 per
year, they tell me.  Nobody work for me any more; even my Indians go to
mining gold, and my wheat fields are stepped all over.  My new city
which I start only three miles below, and call by my name--my gute name
which when I was useful was so popular--is neglected, and everybody
flock here.  I once was rich; now soon I am bankrupt; all because my
men discovered this gold.  This gold, I hate it.  It will be the ruin
of this country."

"Well, captain, I'm sorry to hear this from you," said Mr. Grigsby.
"But I'm powerful glad to see you, anyway.  You've been too generous.
You gave away your land, so as to help build up the country."

"Yes," answered the captain.  "I did not want the gold, but I did not
think the people would go crazy and flock over everything and obey me
not at all.  Well, what can I do for you, my friends?"

"We're going in to the mines, captain," informed Mr. Grigsby.  "How's
the horse and mule market?  We want a pack animal of some kind.
Colonel Frémont said you might be able to help us.  I saw him in San
Francisco."

"The grand Colonel!" exclaimed Captain Sutter.  "For my real American
friends I would do anything yet."  He spread his hands.  "But horses
and mules?  One time I remember I had many for you--that time you came
out of the mountains so nearly famished to my fort.  Now times are
different.  Horse and mule sell for $100, where they used to be ten.
Maybe when the emigrants begin to come in, over the mountains, with
their beasts, things will be different.  I hear 30,000 are on the way,
for the American River and the Sacramento.  But I guess I know of one
mule.  I will try.  Come this way, gentlemen.  Leave your baggage.  It
will be safe--safer than the land it is on."

Captain Sutter led the way from the levee, crowded with people and
baggage and freight.  What a beautiful city this Sacramento was growing
to be!  The buildings were mainly of rough-sawn timber, with some of
clay, and of course many tents; but the streets were wide, and
straight, and everywhere great trees had been left standing, many of
them six feet through at the ground.  Business of buying and selling
real estate and goods was at full blast.  As he trotted along, the
captain proved talkative.

"You saw my own city of Sutter's Ville, below?" he asked.  "That is a
much better site; not?  It is high and dry, while this place--bah!
Gentlemen, in the spring I have moored my boats to the tops of trees on
that very _embarcadero_!  But we shall see.  I have hired Lieutenant
Sherman of the Army to survey between my town and this, and connect the
two; and maybe soon they will be one.  Lieutenant Davidson, of the
Army--he is surveying my town now, for fine streets and big lots."

"Davidson?  Lieutenant J. W. Davidson, I suppose," remarked Charley's
father; and Captain Sutter nodded.  "He was with General Kearny in that
overland march with the First Dragoons, from Santa Fé to San Diego, in
the summer of Forty-six, when the Army was sent to capture California."

"Yes, sir," answered the captain.  "But my friend Frémont and Kit
Carson and Mr. Grigsby, here, and the American settlers, they got in
ahead of the United States Army.  Still, we needed the Army, like we
needed the Navy; and we need them still.  It is another of General
Kearny's officers, Lieutenant John Warner, who surveyed this Sacramento
City.  A brave man, a very brave man.  Three lance wounds he got, in
the battle of San Pasqual, when the Californians would have prevented
the Army from entering to San Diego.  He is now already far up in the
Sierra Nevada, at the head of the Feather River, surveying for a
railroad route, I hear.  Think, gentlemen!  Soon a railroad, maybe!"

Captain Sutter had led the way to a rude hut of woven grass walls and
thatch roof, on the outskirts of the town.  Here he halted, and called:

"Ho, Pedro!  Amigo (friend)!"

An Indian came out.  Yes, an Indian--but different from the Indians
whom Charley had seen in Missouri.  He was squatty, dark and wrinkled,
his hair cut short, and cotton shirt and trousers as his clothes.  The
captain spoke to him in Spanish.  Pedro listened, and with a nod,
turning, made off at a trot.  In a moment he came back, leading from a
shed among a clump of trees a small donkey.

"A burro, 'pon my word!" exclaimed Mr. Adams.  "I haven't seen a donkey
like that out of Mexico!"

"It is the best Pedro has," explained the captain.  "These gold seekers
so crazy they have robbed him, because they think he is nothing but an
Indian.  There will be troubles with my Indians, if the whites do not
treat them better.  Anyway, gentlemen, this animal is not so small as
his size.  He will carry all you put aboard him, and Pedro will sell
him for twenty-five dollar, since you are friends of mine.  Otherwise,
he would not sell him at all."

"Good," said Mr. Adams.  "Bueno," he added, so that Pedro might
understand.  "We'll take him, and glad of it."

So they bought the burro (a funny little creature with shaggy head,
enormously long ears, and small hoofs) and led him away, Charley
proudly holding the rope.

"You are lucky, my friends," spoke Captain Sutter; "one other animal
there was, which I found for those friends of yours who came through
the day before yesterday."

"What!" exclaimed Mr. Adams, sharply.  "Who were they?"

"A rather small, dark man with a very long nose, sir, and two
companions.  They came by trail, from San Francisco, they said, and
wanted a pack animal.  They told me of my friend Grigsby, who had
recommended them to me if they saw me, and of course I was happy to
oblige them."

"Great thunder!" muttered Mr. Grigsby, as he and Mr. Adams stared at
one another.  But he quickly added, as if not to hurt the honest
captain's feelings: "Very good, captain.  When did they leave?  Going
up the American?"

"They left immediately, and I think they spoke of the American,"
answered the captain.  "Yes," he continued, placidly, "it was a large
bay mule, with one ear under-bitten--a notch taken out of it.  I was of
course happy to oblige them; but this burro I saved for you."

No, there was no use in telling the captain of his mistake, and making
him feel bad; and Mr. Adams shook his head warningly at Charley.  But
what nerve, on the part of the long-nosed man!  However, Mr. Adams only
said:

"We'd better set right out, then, Grigsby."

"Can I do anything more for you, gentlemen?" inquired Captain Sutter.

"No, thank you, captain.  We're fixed nicely.  Now we'll pack up and
leave at once.  Time is precious, you know, to us gold seekers.  Where
is Jim Marshall?  Up at the saw-mill?"

"Yes, at Coloma, but the saw-mill is not running.  We have nobody to
run it.  Ah," mused the captain, "everyone is in a great hurry, like
you.  They see nothing but gold, much gold.  It was not so in the old
days.  Well," he added, extending his hand, "good-bye, gentlemen, and
good luck.  Maybe we shall meet again."

They shook hands with him, thanked him once more for his kindness, and
he trotted off--evidently as "hurried" as other people.



XVIII

THE TRAIL OF THE ENEMY

"Evidently we have to do with a very cunning gang of rascals," remarked
Mr. Adams, as with the burro they hastened back for the levee and their
baggage.  "How did they know enough to trade on your name, Grigsby?"

Mr. Grigsby smiled grimly.

"They probably saw I was a Frémont man--may have heard us talking; and
they took the chance.  Naturally enough they'd guess that I knew the
captain.  All we early Americans in California knew _him_, and he stood
ready to help us out.  Well, sir, they left a clue, at any rate.  We'll
follow as fast as we can."

"Do you think we'll catch them?" asked Charley, eagerly.

"We'll do our best, whether we catch 'em or not," answered the
Frémonter.  "It's a big country, up yonder in the mountains, as they'll
find out.  Now, I'm thinking that we can't do better than to take the
trail up the south branch of the American, to the saw-mill, and see Jim
Marshall.  He's been living right in the middle of things and may know
something we'll want to hear."

"You mean the Marshall who discovered this California gold, for
Americans?" queried Charley's father.  "Well, I'd certainly like to see
him, and have Charley see him; and the place, too."

"All right.  Maybe we can kill two birds with one stone," answered the
Frémonter.  "And from the mill we can work north, to the other branch
of the American."

The baggage was undisturbed, on the levee.  Charley held the burro, and
his father and Mr. Grigsby proceeded to pack her.  Mr. Grigsby had
stopped at a store, on their way, and bought two crowbars, a new rope
and a pack-saddle, and some dried-beef.  The crowbars cost $1.50 each,
the rope cost $5, and the pack-saddle, of oak and rawhide and shaped
like two letter X's fastened together by the middle, cost $8.  The meat
was the cheapest.  It came in long strips, and sold by the yard--six
yards for fifty cents!

The Frémonter was of course an expert at packing a horse or mule, and
Mr. Adams knew considerable about it, from his army experience.
Charley wondered at the neatness with which his comrades hoisted aboard
all the variously shaped articles, and tied them fast so that they
balanced.

"They call this the diamond hitch," grunted Mr. Grigsby, as he hauled
tight, while the little burro stood with ears meekly drooped.  "Rope
makes the shape of a diamond--see?  But it's only the regular trappers'
pack throw.  I've used it a thousand times and more.  Well, we're all
ready; hurrah for the gold mines.  Charley, you can lead the critter.
I'll go ahead, to show the road."

"Hurrah for the gold mines!" echoed Charley; and away they trudged.

As they left the hurly-burly of the _embarcadero_, and threaded their
way through the bustling town, which was like another San Francisco,
nobody appeared to notice their march.  It probably was an old story,
and besides, the people were too busy running about, bargaining in real
estate, making money quick.

The dust was floating high, from the many feet; and as the street
became a road out of the town, the dust was thicker than ever, from
parties on before.  It lay brown and powdery, ankle-deep and hot to the
boots.  The sun blazed down fiercely.  Leading the little burro, in his
heavy clothing Charley soon was streaming with perspiration; before,
tramped with long stride the Frémonter, a rifle on shoulder; at the
rear stanchly limped Mr. Adams, well laden with gun and pistol and the
few articles that he and Mr. Grigsby had divided.

The burro's pack displayed crowbars and shovels and picks and gold pans
and camp equipage; and to Charley's mind the little procession looked
very business-like.

After following the dusty road through a flat brown plain, in about a
mile and a half they passed what Mr. Grigsby said was the famous
Sutter's Fort.  With its thick clay walls and square towers at the
corners, pierced with loopholes, it did indeed look like a fort.
Inside the walls were several clay buildings where the captain had
lived and stored his goods and taught his Indians to do white man's
work.  He had erected his fort here in 1839, and had been given all the
land about, by the Mexican government of California.  But now the fort
was deserted; the doors and windows had been broken in, most of the
wood had been torn out and carried off, and the fields about had been
used as pasturage by the gold seekers.  No wonder that the captain felt
aggrieved; and it was pretty hard on him, when really because of his
saw-mill had gold been discovered.  This was poor reward for having
settled the country and built a saw-mill--and a flour mill besides.

"There's the Rio Americano," spoke Mr. Grigsby, pointing ahead, after
they had passed old Fort Sutter.

About a quarter of a mile before on the left, a line of trees indicated
the course of a river--the American.  And a fine stream it proved to
be, flowing clear and sparkling between wooded grassy banks.  The road,
still dusty, turned slightly, and ascended along the river, making
toward the rolling brown foothills which shimmered in the blue
distance, with the mighty snow-crests of the Sierra Nevada range
glinting beyond them.

In the shallows and on the bars of the American parties of miners were
at work digging away with spades and picks, and squatting to wash out
the gold in their pans.  They all were so busy that they seemed to note
nothing on either side of them or overhead.  Their eyes were glued to
the sand and the holes and the pans.  Other parties had halted by the
way, for rest in the shade of trees; and these hailed the Adams party
with the usual calls: "How far to the diggin's, strangers?"  "This is
the American, ain't it?"  "Say!  How much do you s'pose a man can dig
in a day, up there?"  "Where you folks from, and where you bound?"  "Is
it always this hot in Californy?"  And so forth, and so forth.

Several parties on their way back to Sacramento also were met; they
were brown and hairy and rough and ragged, and some of them limped
weakly as if they could scarcely carry their weapons, picks, spades,
crowbars and blanket-rolls.  They all were received with a perfect
volley of excited queries from the resting parties--to which they
replied with wave of hand and sometimes with a triumphant flourish of a
fat little sack.

But Mr. Grigsby paused not for the gold seekers in the river, or under
the trees, or on the way down.  He tramped stoutly, with his long
stride; Charley just as stoutly followed behind, leading the packed
burro, and at the tail of the burro strode, a little unevenly, the tall
and soldierly Mr. Adams.

[Illustration: From Sacramento to "the diggin's," 1849.  Showing the
trail of Charley Adams' party, searching for the Golden West Mine]

The dusty road continued through the wide rolling plain which formed
the east half of the great Valley of the Sacramento.  The herbage was
short and brown, except at the margin of the streams, and the hot
landscape was broken by occasional large spreading trees, singly and in
clumps.  As the foothills gradually drew nearer, the number of miners
became greater.  Finally, at sunset, Mr. Grigsby halted at a grassy
hollow, near the American, where there was a considerable camp of men,
and even two women.  A rude sign announced the title "Woodchuck's
Delight."

"We'll camp, too, I reckon," he quoth, dropping his pack; and Charley
was glad to hear the words.  "How are you?" greeted Mr. Grigsby to the
nearest miners, as he turned to unpack the burro.

"Howdy, strangers?  Where you from and where you going?"

"Just coming in, or have you made one pile?"

"That's a burro, ain't it?  Will you sell him?"

"What might your names be, strangers?"

To these and other queries Mr. Grigsby answered good-naturedly, as he
and Mr. Adams stripped the little burro.  The camp consisted of a few
tents and of men who merely had thrown their blankets down here and
there, as if to cook their suppers and rest till morning.  The great
majority had come afoot, many without even pack animals; a sprinkling
of horses and mules were staked out, at pasture; and speedily Mr.
Grigsby led the burro aside, to stake him out, too.  He laid back his
ears, stretched out his shaggy head, and made short runs at the other
animals near him, until he had cleared a grazing spot all his own.
Then he hee-hawed triumphantly, and lay down for a luxurious roll.

Mr. Adams and Charley tossed the bedding to a place which appeared as
good as any other, for sleeping, and got out the "grub" and cooking
utensils.

"Charley, you're expected to supply the wood and water, and help me
with the camp chores generally," directed his father.  "We'll let
Grigsby do the hunting and camp locating and burro tending, and I'll
cook and wash dishes.  That will be our regular system.  How about it,
Grigsby?"

"Sounds like a pretty good arrangement," agreed the Frémonter, tersely.
"But I'm perfectly willing to chip in wherever necessary."

"Get some wood, Charley," bade Mr. Adams.  "That's first.  There's the
axe."  And he proceeded to sort out the food, while Mr. Grigsby busied
himself with the bedding.

Charley seized the axe from amidst other tools, and lustily chopped
wood from a tree which already had been half demolished by other
campers.  In fact, it looked as though very soon no trees would be
left, along this trail; which was a great pity.

Having brought enough wood, he took an iron kettle and trudged to the
river.  Several miners were at work, along the banks, and on a bar in
the middle; one was working right where Charley arrived--a low place,
like a miniature gully, where the soil was bare and sandy clay.  He had
dug a small trench, and was shoveling some of the loose dirt into his
gold pan.

Charley could not help but watch, for a moment.

"Are you getting anything?" he ventured.

The man appeared to be a rough fellow, unshaven and tanned red, in
faded blue flannel shirt, old trousers belted with a leather strap, and
bare feet.  But when he smiled, and pausing a second, answered, he
spoke in a pleasant voice, with as good language as from Charley's
father or any other cultured person.

"Oh, a few pinches.  See----?" and he swirled his pan level full of
water, until the water and much of the dirt had flowed out over the
edges.  He did this again--picked out a number of pebbles and large
particles of dirt--swirled once more, and tilted the pan, almost empty,
for Charley to see.

Hurrah!  Sure enough, there was a thin seam of yellow, lying in the
angle of sides and bottom!  And breaking it, was a small irregular
particle, of blackish hue tinted with the yellow in spots.  Charley's
eyes bulged.  Gold!  Was this the way they did it?

The man picked out the small lump, and turned it in his fingers.

"One little nugget.  Worth probably twenty dollars," he remarked.  "The
rest of the pans--these are two pans washed out--average about twelve
cents."  Then, at sight of Charley's excited face, he laughed heartily.
"You look as though you had the gold fever, boy, and had it bad," he
said.  "But these pans are nothing.  They wouldn't sum up more than
four dollars a day--and nobody in California would work long for four
dollars a day.  It's too low down on the river to pan out real wages.
I'm just amusing myself.  Got a pan?  Come in and try your luck.  The
ground's free."

"I can't, now," stammered Charley.  "I'm getting water for supper.
Maybe I can later, though.  Will you be here after a while?"

"Oh, as like as not," answered the man, calmly scraping out the yellow
stuff with the point of his knife, and dropping it into the usual brown
buckskin sack--which, Charley noted, bulged a little at the bottom.  "I
used to be a preacher; now I seem to be a miner.  What's your name and
where'd you come from and where are you going, as the fashion of asking
questions is."

Charley briefly told him (for he liked this ex-preacher immensely), but
of course he didn't mention that they were on the trail of the Golden
West claim.  He simply said that they were bound up the American.  Then
he dipped his water and hastened back to the camp, where he found his
father waiting.

"I saw a man panning gold," he announced.

"Getting anything?" asked Mr. Grigsby, not at all excited.

"Yes.  A nugget and a lot of dust besides.  He said he'd help me pan,
if I'd come back after supper.  Can I, dad?"

"Oh, I guess you can, if you have no chores," consented his father,
with a smile at Mr. Grigsby.

Charley had no idea that his father was such a cook.  Mr. Adams went at
the matter in great shape--and even Mr. Grigsby, lying near, rewrapping
a place on the pack saddle, apparently found nothing to criticise.

Mr. Adams (and it looked odd to see him, a man, busy cooking!) had
bread batter already started.  He took one of the gold pans, dumped
into it some flour, a pinch or two of saleratus, and a quart or two of
the water.  He mixed away with his hands, adding flour and water until
the batter was correct, formed it into a loaf, laid it in another pan,
well greased with bacon rind, covered it with the first pan, and set
the "oven" well down among coals that he had raked out to one side.  He
poured a little water into the fry pan, or spider, laid in a lot of
chunks and strips of dried-beef or jerky, and salted it and put it on
the fire.  He took out a handful of coffee beans that had been roasting
in the fry pan before he used the pan for the stew (and how good they
smelled!), crushed them in a piece of cloth between two stones, and
turned them into the coffee-pot.

"You must have been there before," commented Mr. Grigsby.

"Well, I've been a soldier, you know," explained Mr. Adams.  "This is
soldiers' fare; that's all."

"Strangers, you're new to the diggin's, I reckon," asserted a caller,
who strolled in and coolly sat down.  He was an exceedingly powerful
man--as tall as the Frémonter, broad and heavy, a veritable giant.  His
shaggy whiskers were bright red.  He wore a broad-brimmed black hat,
below which hung his red hair to mingle with his whiskers; his red
shirt was open at the hairy throat, his stained coarse trousers were
belted with a piece of rawhide, through which was thrust a knife and
pistol, and he was barefooted.  He certainly was the biggest and most
ferocious-looking man that Charley had ever seen.  Yet he acted very
harmless.

"Why so?" queried Mr. Adams, examining his bread.

"'Cause you're bread eaters, 'stead o' bein' flap-jackers.  By that I
take it you've not been up into the flapjack country yon," and he
jerked his head in the direction of the foothills and mountains.  "When
a man makes his squar' meals out o' flapjacks an' sow-belly, then he
can call himself a miner."

"You've been there, in the flapjack country, I suppose," invited Mr.
Adams.

"Have I, stranger?  Wall, I should shout!  I was one of the fust into
the diggin's after Jim Marshall discivvered color.  Fact is, I'm jest
down from thar now, only stoppin' hyar at Woodchuck's Delight to rest
my feet.  They've got rheumatiz powerful bad, wadin' in the water so
much."

Charley had noted that many of the men in the camp were barefooted, as
if their feet were sore; evidently Woodchuck's Delight was a sort of a
resting place.

"How are things at the saw-mill diggin's?" queried Mr. Grigsby.

"Peterin' out, stranger," replied the red-whiskered man.  "Quiet as a
Quaker Sunday.  I was thar about a month ago."

"Is Marshall mining?"

"Not much.  He's grumblin', mostly.  Thar's a man, who when he struck a
big thing jest natter'ly didn't know what to do with it.  It made him
pore instead o' rich.  The rush o' people tromped an' dug all over him,
an' he doesn't appear to have enough spunk to stand up for himself.  He
seems to think he owns the hull country, 'cause he was thar fust, an'
'cordin' to his notion nobody can mine without his leave.  But as
matter o' fact, he was too blamed slow to locate any claims; an' when
the miners agreed to let him have 100 feet, he didn't get to work on
it.  He seems to expec' the Government to pay him for his discivvery,
while he sits 'round waitin' an' grouchin'.  But that sort o' thing
doesn't go, out hyar, whar every man must look out for himself an' do
his part."

"Never heard of a claim called the Golden West, in those parts, did
you?  A quartz claim?"

"Nary Golden West, stranger; or any other quartz claim; 'cept that thar
was a party through on the trail a day or two ago, inquirin' for that
same name--the Golden West.  But they didn't say whether it was lode or
placer."

"Three men, with a bay mule--one man small and dark, long nose?"
pursued Mr. Grigsby.

"You've got 'em, stranger."

"Which way were they bound?" asked Mr. Adams.

"I reckon they went on up the American."

Mr. Grigsby and Charley's father exchanged glances; then Mr. Adams
spoke quickly, as if to drop the subject.

"Will you have supper with us, sir?"  For the bread was done.

"No, thank 'ee; I'm well lined with flapjacks and sowbelly, to last me
till mornin'," replied the red-whiskered man.  However, he stayed while
the party cleaned up everything that Mr. Adams had cooked.

Now it was near the close of twilight; and Charley, fidgeting
anxiously, wondered whether he might not try for gold, just once.  His
father must have read his thoughts, for he said suddenly:

"Get out your pan, Charley, if you want to, and try your luck.  We'll
tend to the chores."

Charley needed no second bidding.  He grabbed the one clean pan, and
down to the river he ran.  He fancied that he heard the red-whiskered
man call after him, with joking advice, and he knew that other campers,
whom he passed, laughed at his eagerness; but who could tell--perhaps
he would find gold as well as anybody.

The ex-preacher was still there, in his "diggin's," working away.

"Hello!" he welcomed, cheerily.  "Come in and spell me.  I'm tired.
There's your dirt, all ready for you."

Into the shallow ditch jumped Charley, as bold as an old-timer, and
scooped some dirt into his pan.  The ex-preacher sat down on the side
of the ditch and watched him.

"Don't put in too much dirt at once, boy," he cautioned.  "Half full is
enough.  That's right.  Now sink it to the rim in the water, and swirl
it around and back again, so the current will carry the dirt off.
Don't be afraid to keep it moving.  That's it.  The gold is heavy, you
know; the dirt goes and the gold stays behind.  Whoa'p!  Let's see.
No, it's all gone, this time.  You've washed the pan clean.  Try again.
Take things easy."

That proved to be no easy job, though.  The pan was large, the dirt and
water weighted it down, and as Charley squatted and tried to swirl it
around, at just the right level, presently his back and his arms were
aching together.

"Slow, now," bade his instructor, becoming interested.  "Raise the pan
a bit and swash the water--flip it out along with the dirt, a little at
a time.  Be careful of that black sand--it's heavy and carries the
gold.  Here; I'll get rid of the sand for you," and taking the pan he
cleverly swirled it, occasionally dipping up more water, until the sand
had flowed off.

"There you are!" he laughed, gaily thrusting the pan back into
Charley's hands.  "And there's your color, sure enough.  See it?  A
ten-cent pan, the first time.  Good!"

Charley anxiously peered.  In the rounded angle of bottom and side, a
narrow gleam of yellow!  Could it be possible?  Yes; there it was, the
gold; actually, real gold, and he had washed it--or at least, he had
washed most of it.

"Shall I try some more?" he asked, excitedly.

"Sure.  Go ahead.  We always wash several pans, before we clean up.
Now do it all yourself.  You know how."

This time Charley succeeded in getting rid of everything but a very
little of the sand; and behold, the yellow seam was deeper.  After the
third pan he could wait no longer; he out with his buckskin sack, and
with the point of his knife scooped his gold in.  A little sand went
along with it, but who cared?

"We'd better quit for the night, I guess," remarked his new friend, who
appeared as delighted as he.  "I expect you've made as much as half a
dollar.  Now it's time for tenderfeet to go to bed."

Through the dusk Charley trudged back to the fire, with his pan and his
gold, feeling much indeed like a regular Forty-niner.

His father and Mr. Grigsby were sitting by the fire, talking, when in
he burst upon them.

"I got some!  I got some!" panted Charley.

"Did you?  All right.  Show up."

"It's in my sack.  See?"  And Charley "showed."  "I didn't stay to pan
much.  But I learned how."

"A trace of gold, and considerable sand," pronounced Mr. Grigsby.  "But
that's enough, for a starter--only you want to dry that stuff out, lad,
and blow the sand away.  Understand?"

"We've decided to push right along, Charley," said his father, just as
if he and Mr. Grigsby considered Charley as much of a partner as they
were, "up the trail to Marshall's place; then we can turn north for the
north branch of the American, or for the Yuba and the Feather beyond.
They're all mining districts.  Do you agree?"

"I agree," assented Charley.  "And whenever we camp we can wash out
gold, can't we?"

His father laughed.

"Certainly.  By the time the mine is reached, may you'll have filled
your sack."

Charley yawned mightily.  The future seemed golden bright--yet he felt
as though he couldn't keep awake long enough to discuss it.  His father
yawned; so did Mr. Grigsby; already the majority of the campers were
stretched out in their blankets, some of them snoring; and to bed went
the Adams party, also.

Charley removed his boots and trousers and flannel shirt; and rolling
himself in his army blanket used them as a pillow--the fashionable
scheme, he noticed.  He was asleep so soon, and slept so "fast," that
he was perfectly astonished to wake into daylight and breakfast time.

The camp of Woodchuck's Delight was breaking apart, for a number of its
tender-footed inhabitants had started on, up or down the trail.  As his
father and Mr. Grigsby were packing the burro, the red-whiskered giant
of the evening before passed by, and waved an "Adios."

"It's almost time that we met some of the overland crowd, isn't it?"
remarked Mr. Adams, as they took up the march, in the same order as
before.

"Not quite," answered Mr. Grigsby.  "That's a four months' trip, and I
don't reckon any of 'em got away much before the middle of April.
It'll be two or three weeks or more, yet, when the first of them cross
the range."

"Will they all come this way?" appealed Charley.  Thirty thousand there
were, so people said; and what a procession they would make!

"No.  There's that southern trail, around by the Gila, and to San Diego
or up through Los Angeles.  And the northern trail, to Oregon and then
down.  But the Eastern papers advised taking the Oregon trail up the
Platte and across South Pass beyond Fort Laramie, to Fort Hall; then
south to the Mary's River that Frémont named the Humboldt, down the
Humboldt to the Sinks, over to the Truckee and across the Sierra to the
head of the north fork of the American--the way we came in with Frémont
in Forty-five.  And there's that other way, about our trail of
Forty-four: by the Carson River, which is south of the Truckee, over
Carson's Pass of the Sierra, to the South Fork of the American--which
would strike down this trail, like as not, to Sacramento.  But in my
opinion the trail up the Truckee to the North Fork is the best, and the
bulk of the people will come that way."

So saying, Mr. Grigsby shouldered his long rifle, and strode out, to
lead.  Charley occupied the middle, with the burro.  His father limped
in the rear.



XIX

A GREAT DISCOVERY

Coloma, near to the celebrated Sutter's saw-mill, was about thirty
miles on east, up the trail.  The trail did not always keep to the
American, but diverged from it.  However, streams flowing into the
American were crossed, and ever the trail waxed more interesting.
Several new towns were passed--one, called the Mormon Diggings, was
inhabited largely by Mormons from Salt Lake.  Here mining was in full
blast, with many improved methods, as by "cradles," which were boxes
set upon rockers and rocked like a cradle so that the water and sand
were flowed out as from a pan; and by long boxes called "Long Toms,"
set on an incline so that when the water and dirt were flowed down
them, their cleats, nailed across the bottom on the inside, caught and
held the heavy sand and gold.  Then the cleats were cleaned and the
gold separated.  As further into the foothills the trail led, the more
numerous were the miners; and when the first of the mountains were
entered, every gulch and ravine held its busy population.

Now the mountains, high and thickly timbered, clustered before and on
either side, when, on the afternoon of the second day (for Mr. Adams
traveled slowly on account of his lame leg), Mr. Grigsby, ahead,
pointed and said:

"There's the saw-mill."

So it was--a large frame building, apparently not all completed, amidst
a clearing of stumps, on the edge of a ravine near the foot of a slope.
Several log cabins and a number of tents stood near it; and shacks and
tents dotted the gullies around.  But, as Captain Sutter had said, the
mill was not running; and as the red-whiskered man had alleged, the
locality was not bustling.

"I expect the place has been all worked out, by the first rush,"
commented Mr. Grigsby, as he led on, up the well-marked trail.

"This is where the gold was discovered in Forty-eight, is it?" queried
Charley's father, as on the edge of the clearing they paused, to take
breath, and gaze about them.

"Yes, sir; and unless I'm much mistaken, there's Jim Marshall himself,
in front of that cabin."

So saying, followed by his party the Frémonter crossed the clearing, as
if making for one of the cabins before whose open door a man was
sitting, on a stool.  The man appeared scarcely to notice their
approach, and barely turned his head when, halting, Mr. Grigsby
addressed him.

"How are you, Jim?  I met you down at Sutter's, after the war.  My
name's Grigsby."

"Yes, I remember your being 'round there," responded Mr. Marshall, in a
soft, slow drawl, rising to shake hands.  "The country wasn't so full,
then."

He was a rather tall, well-built man, with long brown beard and slouch
hat.  He had wide brown eyes, with a sombre gaze in them.  In fact, his
whole countenance was sober and a bit sullen.

"So you're still at the mill."

"I have been, but I'm going out.  There's no place for me here.  The
man who discovered this gold ain't given an ounce of it," and Mr.
Marshall's voice was bitter.  "What did I get for all I did when I
opened that mill-race?  Nothing; not even gratitude.  It's Government
land, they say, and so the people flock in and take it, and my only
chance is to rustle like everybody else.  Do you think that's fair?
No, sir!  If I had my percentage of all the gold being mined around
here I'd be a rich man.  Instead, they give me a hundred feet, and
expect me to dig like the rest.  Bah!  I'll starve, first."

Although Mr. Marshall was trying to make this a tale of woe, Charley,
for one, could not quite see the reasonableness in it.

"Well, Jim," hastily soothed Mr. Grigsby, "this is a country of hustle,
and most of us have to look out for ourselves.  You were here first,
and I suppose people figured on your making the most of opportunity.
Anyway, I wish you'd take us over to the mill-race and show these two
partners of mine just where you discovered the gold.  We aren't going
to stay, but we'd like to see that much."

"Yes, I can do that," assented Mr. Marshall.  "Leave your animal here,
if you want to.  There aren't many white people about" (and he spoke
bitterly, again) "to steal it."

Charley tied the burro to the cabin.  Mr. Marshall led the way over to
the mill, which was abandoned and idle, and paused on the brink of a
wide ravine that extended back to the mill wheel.

The ravine was ragged and torn, its bottom bare to the rocks and its
sides gashed by countless holes.  A number of Chinamen and Indians were
working in it, scraping about and filling pans and wicker baskets with
loose dirt, which they washed in the stream trickling through.  But
there were no white men.

"That was the tail-race," explained Mr. Marshall, "which led off the
water after it had passed under the wheel.  After we got the mill to
going, about the middle of January, last year, we found the tail-race
wasn't big enough to carry off the water fast and make a current that
would turn the wheel.  So I threw the wheel out of gear, one night, and
lifted the head-gate of the race full open, to flow a hard stream
through and wash the tail-race deeper.  Next morning early, which was
January 24, I went down with Weimer (you know Weimer, Mr. Grigsby; he
served in the Frémont battalion during the conquest), who was helping
me, to see what the water had done.  We shut it off first, of course,
above.  Well, the tail-race certainly had been scoured a good bit, and
we were looking in, as we walked, congratulating ourselves on the job,
when I saw a sparkle of yellow on a flat bed-rock.  I went down in and
picked it up, and I was sure it was gold.  I sent an Indian back to the
men's cabin for a tin plate.  I didn't want to say much about the find
till I'd made certain that it wasn't copper, but during the day Weimer
and I searched about and found a little more.  We tried it out with
potash in Mrs. Weimer's soap kettle, and it didn't tarnish.  The other
men got excited, and the next day started to poking about on their own
account, in the rain.  I took what I had down to the fort, and the
captain and I locked ourselves in and tested it with nitric acid,
weighed it, pounded it, did everything we could think of, and made dead
certain that gold it was.  Next day the captain himself came up to the
mill, and we all found gold.  It was everywhere.  Of course that set us
up in great shape, but the captain made us promise to keep the matter a
secret for six weeks until he had finished a flour-mill that he was
building at the fort, or else he wouldn't be able to get anybody to
work for him at wages.  But some of the men showed their dust down at
the store at the fort, buying goods, and the cat was out of the bag.
Everybody deserted the old captain, his grist-mill hasn't been finished
to this day, his crops weren't reaped, his saw-mill property was
overrun with a regular army, some of the people tried to save a bed of
gravel for him, but that's gone now, neither his rights or mine are
respected, I don't own an ounce of gold and am busted, and he'll be
busted soon.  There's no gratitude in this country," and Mr. Marshall
turned gloomily away.

"There doesn't seem to be much show here for mining; the whole
country's been turned over," commented Mr. Adams, as they gazed about.
"But I'm glad to have seen the spot where the first gold was found in
California."

"By the way, Jim," spoke the Frémonter, "are there any quartz workings
around here?  Never heard of a claim called the Golden West, did you?"

Mr. Marshall shook his head, in his gloomy fashion.

"Not on the South Branch of the American, either fork.  It's all placer
work yet.  That's the quickest.  Lodes don't pay; they need machinery,
and nobody wants to wait for machinery.  But I've heard they're
beginning to find lodes over in the Nevada country, beyond the upper
North Branch.  Several parties on their way to the dry diggin's of
Rough and Ready spoke about quartz outcrops over yonder somewhere on
the North Branch."

"Yes, we thought we'd go over that way ourselves," answered Mr. Grigsby.

"Whereabouts is Rough and Ready, Mr. Marshall?" asked Charley's
father--much to Charley's relief, who wanted to know, himself.

"It's a dry diggin's camp, near to the Nevada dry diggin's, in Grass
Valley between the Bear and the Yuba.  That's all _I_ know," responded
Mr. Marshall, as if to imply that it was all he cared, too!

The directions seemed very indefinite, in such a big country, but Mr.
Grigsby appeared to be impressed by something or other in Mr.
Marshall's words, for he was plunged into a brown study until the party
had left Mr. Marshall sitting gloomily as before and were resuming the
march.  Then, out of earshot of the cabins and mill, he suddenly
slapped his buckskin thigh and uttered an exclamation.

"By jings!" he said.  "I have it--and those three fellows had it, too.
We've overrun 'em.  They've turned off, below, and I'll wager they're
making for that smudge!  Remember that smudge on the map--what looked
to be another 'G. H.,' in capital letters?  Well, sir, if that sign
isn't 'G. W.' instead of 'G. H.' I'll miss my guess.  'G. W.'--'Golden
West'!  How does that strike you?  It's yonder in the new quartz
country, you see."

Charley stared, agape.  The idea was stupendous.  Oh, if only they had
that map, again, so as to re-examine it.

"Why--I shouldn't wonder if you were right, Grigsby," agreed his
father, weighing the matter.  "Then we ought to get over there as quick
as we can."

"I _know_ I'm right," asserted the Frémonter.  "Feel it in my bones.
And away we go, as straight as we can travel."

A long, long tramp across a wild country it was, now, upon which the
tall Frémonter piloted the way.  He seemed to know where he was going
and what he was doing; and Charley and his father could only trust in
his guidance.  Up hill and down, through timber and brush, sometimes on
a trail and sometimes not, ever making northward, on they went, with
the burro the nimblest of all, and Mr. Adams having hard work,
occasionally, with his lame leg.  But wherever they passed, no matter
how rough and high the country, they encountered miners like
themselves, digging and washing and searching, in camp or on the march.

But not a word more, of the Jacobs party, or of the Golden West mine.

Mr. Grigsby appeared to be looking for certain landmarks, ahead.  It
was at the end of two weeks of travel and camp when they three,
following a pack trail across a timbered ridge, suddenly emerged into a
beautiful vista of valley and snowy range, to the north and east; the
course of a rushing river, and the tents of another mining camp.

"There she is!" cheered the Frémonter, swinging his hat.  "There's the
trail where Frémont and we fellows came in, the second time, winter of
Forty-five.  Yon river's the North Branch of the American.  I remember
that gap, there.  What that camp is I don't know; but we'll find out."

"This is an emigrant trail, then, too, isn't it?" queried Charley's
father.

"It'll be the main emigrant trail, or I'm much mistaken."

"I don't see any emigrants, though," puffed Charley, as down they
hastened, for the camp.  He was wondering about Billy Walker.

"No; there haven't many passed yet, that's certain," answered the
Frémonter.  "But the rush must be about due."

"What camp's this?" he hailed, as they passed a party of miners delving
and washing in a little ravine.

"This is the Shirt-tail Diggin's, stranger, where everybody's happy and
the goose hangs high."

Shirt-tail Diggin's consisted of a collection of tents and of lean-to
shacks made of boughs and canvas, three or four log cabins, and a
store, scattered along the side of the valley, amidst great trees.  To
the east showed the bluish gap, of which Mr. Grigsby had spoken, in the
hills, and beyond the hills was the snowy range.  Through the valley
coursed the river--the North Branch of the American, according to Mr.
Grigsby; and in the river shallows and along the banks and in ravines
and ditches on both sides, up the slopes themselves, with pick and
spade and pan and cradle were working the miners.

As with his father and Mr. Grigsby and the burro he drew near, Charley
was surprised to hear a cheer--and another, and another, as if in
greeting.  Why was that?  Was it a joke?  But see!  Arms were pointing,
hats were waving, and shout joined with shout:

"Emigrants in sight!  Here they come--the overlanders!  Tumble out,
boys!"



XX

ANOTHER GREAT DISCOVERY

Sure enough!  Following a trail out from among the timbered slopes to
the east, there emerged from the gap a white-topped wagon--and another,
and a succession of dots of other vehicles and of people horseback,
until a long line was winding down through the green and brown.  Yes,
emigrants!  Charley had seen such wagons, and even such a procession,
before, in Missouri; but this was different, because these wagons and
people had come clear across the 2,000 miles of plain and mountain and
desert, from the Missouri River!  Think of that!

From their ditches and ravines out clambered the miners all, to wipe
their brows and gaze and cheer.  And on weaved the line, until the
people afoot, also--even women, and some children--could be seen
trudging beside the wagons.

Riding at a walk, the horsemen who led the procession as if picking out
the trail approached slowly, while the camp waited.  The nearer the
procession came, the worse for wear it looked: the white-topped wagons
(there were only a few) were torn and battered, the other vehicles were
only make-shifts, cut down from the originals, the horses, mules and
oxen were very thin, and the people themselves were gaunt and ragged
and pitiable.  As brown as any Arabs and as bearded as the miners were
the leading horsemen.

"Howdy?" greeted one, with a nod.  "How far to Sutter's?"

"Seventy miles," responded a score of voices.  "Where you from?"

"The Missouri River."

"When did you leave?"

"Last week in April."

The first of the wagons came lumberingly creaking in.  It was drawn by
two yoke of lean spotted oxen.  The wheels had been wrapped with
rawhide, for repairs, and the canvas top was torn and discolored and
askew.  From the puckered front peered a woman and two children; the
man of the family was walking wearily beside, swinging an ox-goad.

"Howdy, strangers?" he hailed, as he halted.  "Are these the Californy
diggin's?"

"Is this Californy?" put in the woman, quaveringly.

"You bet your bottom dollar, friends," was the hearty answer.  "This is
Californy, and these are the Shirt-tail Diggin's, the best on 'arth."

"Haven't got any flour for trade, have you?" queried the man.

"Nary flour, nary anything for trade, stranger, but I'll _give_ you a
sack o' the best flapjack flour that ever came out a store."

"Hooray for the first woman in Shirt-tail Diggin's!" rose the cheer,
and the crowd surged forward excitedly.

"No, strangers, I don't want your flour for nothin'," said the man, as
if a little alarmed.  "I'm busted for money, but I'll trade ye, and
trade ye fair."

"Where's the gold?  I'd like to see some gold," ventured the woman--a
little alarmed at the uproar.

"Pass the hat, boys," ordered the spokesman of the camp; he fished out
his buckskin sack, shook a generous portion into the top of his old
hat, and started the hat through the crowd.  Somebody hustled back with
flour, somebody else with bacon; Shirt-tail camp fairly fought for the
privilege of handing these and other supplies in, to the wagon, and
there was added a buckskin sack half full of dust.

"Oh, we can't take these," appealed the woman, shrinking.  She wasn't
handsome, just now; she was thin, haggard and tanned, and wore a calico
gown; but to the miners she was a woman, just the same, and Charley
found himself wishing she were his mother.

"Take 'em!  Throw 'em in, boys, anyway.  They're for the first woman in
Shirt-tail.  Hooray!  Hooray!"

"Charley Adams!  Oh, Charley!" cried a voice, piercing the crazy
clamor.  Charley whirled and looked.  It was--why, Billy Walker!  Of
course!  Billy Walker!  He had forgotten about Billy, for the
moment--in fact, he hadn't recognized him.

But the remainder of the emigrant train had drawn near, bunching as it
halted, and on foot Billy was hurrying through the crowd, followed by
his father.  Charley gave a shrill whoop of joy, and with a run he and
Billy grabbed one another and hugged and danced.  Then they drew off to
shake hands; then Charley shook hands with Mr. Walker--and Mr. Adams
shook hands with Billy and his father; then Charley and Billy
grinningly sized one another up.

"You look like a sure-'nough miner," said Billy.

"And you look like a sure-'nough overlander," said Charley.

"What have you got?  Have you found much gold?  Are these the regular
diggin's?  How long've you been here?  Have you made your pile?  Were
you seasick any?  Did it storm at sea?  What's the name of this place?
Where's the Sacramento?  Did you stay in San Francisco?  How much gold
can I dig in a day?" propounded Billy, all at once.

"I've found some gold--I've panned out half a sackful.  We haven't been
here long.  Wasn't seasick a bit--scarcely.  These are the Shirt-tail
diggin's," replied Charley.  "What kind of time did you have?  Did you
kill any Injuns?  Do you have to go on?  Why don't you stop now and
mine?  Is this all your crowd?  Did you have a lot of fun?  Do you want
me to show you how to pan?"

"Gee, we had some fun, but we had an awful time, mostly," declared
Billy, soberly.  And he looked it.  His flannel shirt was torn and
faded, his trousers were patched with buckskin, his boots were scuffed
through and resoled with rawhide, the knife in his belt had been ground
down to half a blade, and his rifle was scarred and the stock spliced
with rawhide at the grasp.  Besides that, his face and hands were brown
as brown, and scratched, he was thin as a rail, but his eyes were
bright and steady and he evidently was as hard as nails.  "We broke our
wagon and lost our horses--they just fell down and died in their
tracks--and had to leave half our outfit out in the desert.  But our
company's first in; there are about 200 of us--and there are about
30,000 following, strung out all the way from here to the Rocky
Mountains, I guess.  That's a tough trail, across the desert from Fort
Hall; but we made it, though the Digger Injuns 'most got our scalps,
once.  Part of the crowd's coming in by way of Oregon; and that's a
harder trail still, we hear.  Some of our own company, branched off,
other side of the Sierra, for the Carson River, but we struck up the
Truckee and over to the American River this way.  Don't know what dad
and I'll do now.  We ought to get some grub and other stuff.  I'd give
ten dollars for a loaf of bread."

"Huh, I guess you would," retorted Charley.  "Do you know what flour's
selling at, in California?  Sixty dollars a barrel.  Besides, we don't
eat _bread_, up here.  We eat flapjacks."

"Jiminy!" sighed Billy, his mouth watering as he smacked his dry lips.
"That sounds mighty good, just the same.  Honest, I've been living on
old ox so long I've nearly forgotten what flapjack tastes like.  I used
to have 'em back home, though.  Remember those old Liz, our cook, made?
Yum!  Just the same," he added, defiantly, "I'm glad I came.  I
wouldn't have missed that trip for anything."

"You bunk in along with us, and we'll give you all the flapjacks you
can eat," urged Charley.  "Dad can make the best you ever tasted.  And
I'll show you how to pan out the gold, too.  Shucks!  It's easy.  Some
days you'll just simply scoop it up, and think you're going to be rich
right away--and next day you won't find color, even.  But it's fun.
Wish you and your father _would_ throw in with us.  There's no use in
going on down to Sacramento; prices of everything are awful, there, and
at San Francisco, too.  Ask him, won't you?"

But Billy didn't need to ask, for Mr. Grigsby had been introduced to
Mr. Walker by Charley's father, and they three were talking together
earnestly.  The upshot was (to Charley's and Billy's delight) that the
two parties joined.

"I've told Mr. Walker that we're on the search for a certain quartz
proposition," announced Charley's father, to his partner Charley, "and
if we find it we'll probably need good help to develop it.  And there's
nobody we'd rather have in with us than him and Billy.  Now if we five
can't make our way, I'll miss my guess.  What do you think about it?"

Think about it?  Charley and Billy uttered another war-whoop, together,
and in a mutual hug gave a kick-up Indian dance--but Shirt-tail
Diggin's was used to this sort of thing.

"I'd better hustle out and see what I can add to the outfit," said Mr.
Walker; and accompanied by Mr. Grigsby, away he went.

He succeeded in buying a horse from one of the emigrants, and in
picking up here and there a few supplies.  By the time that the horse
and burro were packed, and the start onward might be made, the emigrant
train also was again in motion, and the miners were descending again
into their ravines and ditches.  The great majority of the emigrants
continued eastward, bound for "the Sacramenty," there to renew their
strength.  A few stayed in camp at Shirt-tail.  But a weary lot they
all were--they and their animals; weary and seemingly bewildered now
that they actually had arrived in the famed gold fields of California.

Mr. Grigsby set the pace, as usual, for his party.  Straightaway he
led, down the first ravine out of Shirt-tail, up the other side, and
into a draw or pass which wound among the hills.  The miners whom they
passed, at work, gazed curiously; and one or two hailed with--"Where
you bound, strangers?  What've you heard?  Another strike?"  But the
party only smiled and shook their heads.

Charley and Billy trudged together, leading burro and horse.

"Did you shoot anything on the way across?" asked Charley.

"You bet.  Shot an antelope.  Killed him first crack.  He was mighty
good eating, too.  But there wasn't much game.  Too many people on the
trail."

"Did you kill any bear?"

"No.  Didn't even see one.  We were in too big a hurry to stop to hunt
much, anyway, and when we needed meat the worst, we couldn't find it.
That was on the desert between Salt Lake and these mountains.  Where
are we going now?  Do you know?"

"Over to a camp called Rough and Ready, in Grass Valley, I guess."

"What's there?"

"It's dry diggin's, mostly, but it's more of a quartz country than
this.  We're on the track of a big quartz claim.  You remember that
sick man I found in St. Louis?" Billy nodded.  "Well, he told us about
a claim of his; he sort of gave it to dad and me.  We aren't telling
anybody else, but now you're a partner, I can tell you that much."

"Jiminy!" exclaimed Billy.  "Hope we find it."

"Well, if we don't we can wash out a lot of gold, anyhow."

"What are dry diggings, Charley?"

"They're diggin's in dry ground, where you have to bring in the water
some way.  Wet diggin's are placers in the beds of streams where you're
in the water already.  Shirt-tail was wet diggin's.  They're the
hardest because your feet are soaked and get sore, and you catch
rheumatism and fever and everything.

"What's quartz diggin's, then?"

"Aw, those aren't diggin's, exactly," informed the wise Charley.
"Quartz is a rock that helps form a lode where the gold is carried,
first, before it's crumbled out by the weather and is washed down with
gravel and sand to make the placer beds.  You dig the placer bed, but
you have to use a crow-bar and powder on lodes, and break them to
pieces.  Then you have to crush the pieces and wash the gold out or
unite it with mercury and get it that way.  Lode mining takes
machinery, if it's done right, and it's expensive; but it lasts longer,
if it's any good, because you can follow the lode for miles.  Placer
mining is sort of luck."

"If we find a lode, what'll we do with it, I wonder," pursued Billy.
"We haven't any machinery, or much powder, either."

"We'll get the machinery, all right, if we find the spot," asserted
Charley.  "My father and Mr. Grigsby are going into this thing
scientifically; that's the only way to make a success; your father's no
slouch, either.

"I should say not," agreed Billy, loyally.  "I guess we all together
can make a mine pay, if anybody can."

"This is awful rough traveling, isn't it!" remarked Charley, suddenly.
And Billy answered: "Kind of; but we were over worse.  Had to haul the
oxen and horses up and down by ropes."  Nevertheless, the going was, as
Charley had said, "awful."  Steep slope after steep slope blocked the
way; the brush and timber grew thick; sometimes large rocks interposed;
and when the party weren't sliding they were climbing, dragging the
puffing pack animals.  But the trail that had been taken always led on.

Camp was made beside a spring, in a little flat or cup surrounded by
timber over which peeked the snow-caps of the main range.  For supper
Billy had his flapjacks, as Charley had promised; and how he did eat!
Nobody's appetite was especially poor, however.

"Now you're a Forty-niner, sure," informed Charley, to his fellow
partner.  "You've got a fresh lining in your stomach.  When we get
settled I'm going to practice till I can toss a flapjack up the cabin
chimney and catch it coming down on the outside.  See?"

Up hill and down was it the next day, again.  Shortly after noon they
came to a high ridge, covered with brush in spots, and in spots bare.
The three men climbed on, for a view ahead, but Charley and Billy
branched off, to a place that looked lower.  Then, suddenly, Charley
caught sight of it--a great grayish-brown beast, lumbering along a
slope just ahead, and making for the top not far before.  Sometimes he
was in the brush, sometimes in the open; but Charley knew him at once.

"Billy!" he cried, excited.  "There's a bear!  Shoot!  Quick!"

"Where?"

"Right in front of us!  See?  Hurry, or he'll be over the top."

"That's not a bear.  That's a cow."

"Cow your grandmother!  'Tis, too!  A grizzly!  They grow as big as
cows in this country.  Aren't you going to shoot?  Give me that gun."

The burro and the horse had seen or smelled, for they were pulling back
and snorting, ears pricked, eyes Staring.  Billy stepped on his lead
rope, and leveled his gun like lightning.

[Illustration: Billy stepped on his lead rope and leveled his gun like
lightning]

"Bang!"  The big bear gave a jump aside and turning sharp lumbered
faster, straight for the top.  "Bang!" spoke Billy's patent repeater,
again.  And just as the bear disappeared over the top, "Bang!" shot
Billy, a third time.  But the bear was gone.

"Did I hit him?  Did I hit him?" panted Billy.  "Whoa, there, you
horse.  Did I hit him?"

"Don't think so," panted Charley, just as excited.  "Maybe you did,
though.  I heard the bullets sing, anyway.  One must have struck rock.
Come on; let's go over.  Tie your horse.  How many shots you got left?

"Four."

In a jiffy they tied the horse and burro to the brush, and away they
pelted, lunging and staggering up the slope, to the place where they
had seen the bear.

He wasn't there now, and he wasn't anywhere in sight, either; and
though they searched closely, they could not find even a drop of blood.

"I guess I missed him clean," confessed Billy, ruefully.  "I was in too
big a hurry."

"It's hard shooting up hill; and he was running, too," sympathized
Charley,  "Let's see where the bullets hit."

That would be some satisfaction; so they searched more.  Presently
Billy yelped:

"Here's where one hit.  It knocked a big chunk out of the rock.  Funny
looking rock."  And then he exclaimed: "Come over, Charley.  Quick!
The rock's got a lot of yellow in it!"

"What color rock?" demanded Charley.

"Whitish."

"Let's see."

Billy pointed, and he also handed up the piece that the bullet had
knocked loose.  Yes, the fresh side of the piece was white and
glistening--and the whiteness was mottled with dull yellow.  The scar
in the rocky ridge also was white and yellow mottled.

"Is it gold, Charley?" gasped Billy, anxiously.

"I don't know, for sure," said Charley, trying not to be foolish.  "But
I think this is quartz, all right enough; and if that yellow's soft
enough to be scraped with a knife blade it's liable to be gold."  He
drew out his knife from his belt and scraped at the yellow.  Where the
yellow was thickest it could--yes, it could be scraped in tiny
shavings.  Billy was peering close; and he was breathing so fast that,
Charley afterward declared, he could be heard half a mile.  But no
matter now.

"It's gold!" Charley's voice came tense and stammery.  "Anyway, it's
soft."

"Do you suppose the whole rock's full of gold?"

"Maybe.  Let's knock off some more.  Maybe the whole hill's full of
gold--all the rock!  Hurrah!"

"Hurrah!  Maybe it'll get solider, deeper we go," cheered Billy,
hopefully.

Charley hammered with his boot heel and pried with his knife; Billy
hammered with his rifle-butt; and when they knocked off even a chip, it
showed traces of gold.  Why, wherever the rock stuck up, making little
humps and furrows, it seemed to be the one kind: quartz-blotched and
yellow-spotted.

"Hurrah!" again cheered Charley.  "We ought to stake off claims.  Who
found it?  I saw the bear."

"And I shot the bullet," returned Billy.

"Well, there's enough for all, anyway.  It'll belong to the whole
party.  What'll we call it?  Grizzly?  Lucky Bullet?"

They were so busy searching and gloating that they had forgotten the
pack animals below and even the whereabouts of the men of the party.
On a sudden, as if replying to Charley's queries, Billy cried out
excitedly:

"Somebody else has been up here!  Here's a little pile of loose rock,
and a stake with a board sign on it, that says----shucks.  Can't quite
make it out.  Come on and help me."

Over scrambled Charley, to where Billy was crouching and peering at a
weathered board set up in a shallow hollow.  Billy's voice rang
triumphantly.

"'Golden West,' it says.  'Golden West Mine.'  And----'I lay claim to
as much of this lode running east and west as is allowed by miners'
law.  Tom Jones.  August 22, 1848.'"

"Golden West!" exclaimed Charley, crashing and sliding to Billy's side.
"Hurrah!  That's the mine we've been looking for, Billy!  It's our
mine.  It's the one----"

"That's where you're mistaken, bub," interrupted a new voice, speaking
cold and distinctly.  "Now you pile out of there, and git!  Don't come
back again, either."

Looking up, startled (as did Billy likewise), Charley faced the
long-nosed man and his two companions gazing in upon them, over the
brushy rim of the hollow and the muzzles of three guns.



XXI

MINERS' JUSTICE

"No talk, now," continued the long-nosed man, with a hard smile
slightly curving his thin black moustache.  "Drop that rifle, you other
kid.  Back up the side of that hollow, both of you, and scoot.  You're
in the wrong pew.  This happens to be _our_ claim.  See?"

Billy was so surprised and bewildered at the sudden attack that he
simply couldn't say a word.  He only looked, with mouth open, at
Charley; and then at the men.  He and Charley slowly backed away, up
the other slope of the hollow.  Charley saw that the three men were
breathing hard, as if they had just arrived, in a hurry.  He was so mad
that he, too, scarcely could speak.

"'T isn't either your mine," he retorted hotly.  "That's a lie, and you
know it.  You're only trying to steal it.  It was given to me, and
we've found it again, and we can prove it.  You wait till we get our
crowd."

The three behind the gun-muzzles laughed.

"The best thing for your crowd to do is to stay out of shooting
distance," answered the long-nosed man.  "We've got the mine, and the
documents to prove it's ourn.  Those are two p'ints hard to beat, bub."

"You haven't any right, just the same," retorted Charley, furious.
"You stole those papers, but you needn't think you can steal the mine.
You wait."

"We'll wait," said the long-nosed man, grimly.

"Come on," bade Charley, choking with wrath and almost with tears, to
the astonished Billy.  "Let's get our animals and find our partners.
Those fellows needn't think they can bluff _us_."

"Who are they, anyhow?" gasped Billy, as he and Charley went plunging
down the ridge.  "Is that their mine?  Did they put that sign up?  I
thought we found it.  We were there first, weren't we?"

"It's a long story, Billy; I'll tell you later," panted Charley,
hurrying.  "But it's our mine, all right--same one that was given to
dad and me last spring.  Remember I spoke about it?  And we're going to
have it, too.  Come on."

"And I'm going to have my rifle.  They needn't think they can keep
that, either," uttered Billy, waxing pugnacious.

"I see the rest of 'em," announced Charley.

"They're making for the pack animals."  And there, threading their way
through the brush near the foot of the ridge, beyond the burro and the
horse, were the figures of Mr. Adams and Mr. Walker and the tall
Frémonter.  A fourth figure was with them--he looked like a miner.

Charley and Billy waved and shouted, and hurried.

"Hello!  Were you doing that shooting?" demanded Charley's father, as
they approached.  "What did you see?"

"A big bear," wheezed Charley.  "But we found the mine--the Golden
West.  And the long-nosed man took it away from us."

"There are three of 'em," joined in Billy.  "They pointed guns at us
and made us get out."

"Where?"

"Up there on top of the ridge.  Billy's bullet knocked out a piece of
gold quartz--see?" and Charley extended the fragment that he had been
clutching tightly.  "Then Billy found a sign that said 'Golden West'
and is signed by Tom Jones, for a claim; and when we were looking at it
that Jacobs gang surprised us and told us to 'git.'  Let's go back up
there.  They made Billy leave his gun, too."

The four men uttered exclamations, while looking at each other; Mr.
Grigsby thoughtfully stroked his beard, and gazed at the crest of the
ridge.  Charley was certain that the heads of the Jacobs party were
peeking over the brush, there.

The piece of quartz passed around, and was examined.  Most excited of
all seemed to be the miner--for he certainly was a miner--who had been
added to the party: a short, heavy-set man, very shaggy and
weather-worn.  He carried knife and pistol, and appeared to be good
reinforcement.

"Did you get that up on that hill?" he demanded.  "How much more is
there of it?  It's gold quartz, sure as shootin'--an' plaguey rich.
Say--I want some o' that, myself.  Hooray!  Come on, all o' ye, 'fore
the news gets out.  You're fust, I'm second."

"You say you found the Golden West mine, and the Jacobs party ran you
out, Charley?" asked Mr. Adams.

"Yes, sir.  Didn't we, Billy?"  And Billy nodded.

"Are they up there now?"

"Yes, sir.  See 'em.  They've got guns, too, besides Billy's."

"Looks as though we were in for a fight, then; eh, Grigsby?" remarked
Mr. Adams, flushing.  "We'll not stand to be robbed in any such
fashion.  Let's go and see what they have to say."

"The way I size those gentry up," said Mr. Grigsby, "they're there and
we're here, and they won't let us get much closer.  Maybe we can starve
'em out, though," and he surveyed the ridge.

"I'm with you, in anything you want to do," spoke Mr. Walker.  "How
many are there?  Three?"

"Jumped yore claim, have they?" asked the miner.

"They certainly have."

"You're shore it's yourn?"

"We can prove it."

"Then best thing you can do is to prove it to the boys at Rough an'
Ready," pursued the miner.  "Thar's been too much claim-jumpin', in
this valley; no-one's property is safe, by thunder.  You come along to
Rough an' Ready, an' we'll see if 't isn't time for law an' order to
take a hand in this game.  Yore claim won't peter out while you're
gone--not if it's any good; an' whilst I believe in fightin' when you
have to, thar's no use sheddin' blood if thar's an easier way 'round to
get the same thing."

"What do you say?" invited Mr. Adams, of the two other men.  As for
Charley, he saw that his father was ready to fight or not; he wasn't
afraid, was this tall, soldierly veteran who had served with Scott in
Mexico.

"I prefer getting our rights without any blood on them, if we can, of
course," answered Mr. Walker.  "I hate to start in in a new country
with a fight of any kind.  But you can count on me, whatever you decide
to do."

"Let's try miners' law, first, then," spoke Mr. Grigsby, shortly.  "If
that doesn't help, we'll have to protect ourselves the next best way,
even to shooting.  But our rights we'll have, or bust."

"Very well," said Mr. Adams.  "Rough and Ready's four miles.  I'll take
the boys, so they can tell their story, and our friend here; and you
and Walker stay with the animals and keep an eye on the ridge.  We'll
be back as soon as we can.  Come on, lads," and away he strode, with
the miner, and with Charley and Billy working hard to keep up.

They passed between the Golden West ridge and another, and emerged into
a wide pleasant valley which the miner said was called Grass Valley.
Down the valley they hastened, and in about an hour the miner, who
acted as guide, pointed ahead, with the remark:

"Thar's Rough an' Ready--the best camp in the hills.  Now we'll see
what's what."

Miners were busily at work, digging and heaping piles of dirt from the
ravines and the flats; and before, against a hill slope, partly in the
pines and partly in the open, were tents and huts.  As they hustled up,
the miner was greeted right and left.

"Hello, Eph.  What's your hurry?"

"Injuns after you?"

"What's the news from yonder?"

"Thought you'd left the country."

"How are things at your diggin's?"

"Cleaned up your pile already?"

"By the way you're travelin' you must have made a strike, or else
you're after grub!"

"Strike!" growled Eph.  "You bet thar is, an' somethin' to pay, too.
Come on, you fellows.  I want everybody in the camp.  We're goin' to
hold a regular town meetin'."

Rough and Ready was another conglomeration of tents new and old, bough
lean-tos, and shacks covered with canvas.  In front of a tent labeled,
rudely: "New York Generul Store," Eph halted and uttered a resounding
whoop.  The miners began to gather; there were other whoops, and
cheers, and the gay beating of gold pans, like gongs, until it seemed
as though the whole camp was on hand.  A booted, whiskered, "rough and
ready" crowd they made, too.

"Well, Eph, what's the trouble?  Somebody got the dead-wood on you?"
demanded a strapping big miner in torn red shirt and prodigious boots.
He seemed to be a sort of a leader.

"These boys and I----" began Mr. Adams; but Eph interrupted.

"I'll do the talkin', fust.  You save yore powder.  This gentleman an'
these two lads belong to a party I met up with at t'other end the
valley.  They were prospectin' for a claim they'd heared of.  The two
boys located it atop a ridge, yon, an' as I understand, they were
actually on the ground, sizin' it up, when another party jumped 'em, at
the p'int o' guns made 'em vamoose, an' proceeded to hold down the
claim themselves.  Show yore sample, boys.  What do you think o' that,
men?"

Charley handed out the sample.  As it passed around among the craning
heads and hairy fists, it created tremendous excitement.

"Whar'd you get it?"

"Gold quartz, or I'm a sinner!"

"That'll run a thousand dollars to the pan, I bet ye."

"Hooray for the new diggin's!  Come on, fellows.  I'm off."

"Hold on, thar," bade the red-shirted man, stopping what would have
been a stampede.  "That doesn't settle the matter.  Eph, here, has
called a meetin' for a purpose; haven't you, Eph?"

"You're talkin'," assured Eph.  "It's time claim-jumpin' 'round these
diggin's has got to stop.  If this gentleman can prove up for his party
that they've fust rights to that discivvery, we ought to go back thar
an' show those other fellows that Rough an' Ready is takin' a stand for
law an' order."

"Hooray!" cheered the crowd, which seemed ripe for anything new.

"You say you've got fust location on that quartz claim?" inquired the
red-shirted man, of Mr. Adams.

"Yes, sir," replied Charley's father, promptly.  "By two reasons.  It
was given us by the former owner, in St. Louis; and these boys, who are
partners in our party, found it again on their own hook."

"What might be the name of that claim, then, stranger, if it was given
to you?" asked somebody else.

"The Golden West," answered Mr. Adams.  "It was given to us by a man
whom we befriended in St. Louis.  We had the documents to prove it, but
they were stolen by the very gang who drove the boys away.  Even that
doesn't matter, though, for they found it, stake and all, and----"

"What did you say the name is?" demanded half a score of voices.

"The Golden West."

"Fetch the woman," cried the voices, now; and the demand rose to a
clamor: "Fetch the woman."

The crowd laughed and jostled expectantly; and presently they parted,
to give passage to a young woman, ceremoniously conducted by two of the
miners, their hats off.  And who should follow her, but Mr. Motte--the
young man who had been left behind at Panama!

"Strangers," announced the red-shirted spokesman for the camp, to Mr.
Adams, "if you've found the Golden West, here's the owner of it, an' I
reckon she'll thank you for your trouble.  The hull camp's' back of
her, so you'd better talk peaceable.  Ain't that so, boys?"

"You bet!" came the resounding cheer.

"Well, if that's the case, of course----" said Mr. Adams, uncertainly,
removing his hat, while the young woman, in sunbonnet and neat calico
dress, appeared much embarrassed.  Charley and Billy stood with mouth
open at the unexpected turn of events.  But Mr. Motte pressed forward,
extending glad hand.

"Hello," spoke Mr. Adams.  "How'd you get here?"  He shook hands with
Mr. Motte, and so did Charley, and so did Billy, although he didn't
know exactly why.

"Yes, sir, here I am, thanks to your ticket.  And here's my wife, too.
This is the gentleman who gave me the ticket from Panama, Mary."

"Hooray!" cheered the ready miners.

"How long have you been here?" asked Mr. Adams.

"Two or three days.  I've been laid up (and indeed he looked thin), but
I'm all right now.  The camp's been mighty kind to us.  They tell me
you've found the Golden West quartz claim.  Is that so?"

"Yes, sir.  These boys found it; three rascals who have dogged us from
New Orleans (one of them clear from St. Louis), have jumped it.  Now I
understand you or your wife have prior rights to it.  How about that,
sir?"

"To tell the truth, I think that probably we have," answered Mr. Motte;
"but you shan't lose out, anyway.  Not after you helped me along the
way you did, with that ticket.  No, sir.  Shall he, Mary?"  And the
young woman shook her head.  Mr. Motte continued, while the camp
listened intently.  "As I've explained to these men my uncle--or my
wife's uncle, rather, whose name was Tom Jones--wrote us a letter last
year telling us to come out and giving us the Golden West quartz claim
that he had just located in this region, somewhere.  He said it was a
bonanza, with plenty for all.  The letter didn't get to us for six
months, and that's the last we heard from him, though we wrote him we
were coming as soon as we could.  I've the letter, as this camp knows."

"You're talkin'," approved the crowd, emphatically.

"So, thanks to you, sir, we got this far, and then we ran up against
the fact that nobody seemed to know anything about a Golden West quartz
claim.  My uncle was in the diggings early, and he prospected alone,
evidently, and nobody knew him, except a few people remembered his
name--and one man did recollect something about a quartz claim from
which there were samples.  My uncle was a queer, quiet sort of a
man--never talked much."

"Let the stranger tell his story, now," bade the red-shirt.

So Mr. Adams did, from the beginning in St. Louis, to the apparent end
here; and he concluded:

"Your right to the mine evidently is prior to ours, sir, and we
wouldn't think of contesting it--especially not with a woman," and he
bowed to Mrs. Motte, who flushed, ill at ease among all these men.

"You're O. K.!" approved the crowd.  "Especially not with a woman, you
say; an' with the only woman in Rough an' Ready.  Hooray!"

"But you've made a long trip," protested young Mr. Motte, also
flushing.  "You've found the claim for us, and if it hadn't have been
for you I might have been in Panama yet, either alive or dead.  So I
don't agree----"

"Let's act fust an' talk afterward," interrupted the red-shirt.  "Fust
thing is to oust those thar claim-jumpers yonder, for the good of the
camp, an' to put the little lady in possession.  Get yore tools an'
weapons, boys, an' come on."

With a great shout the crowd rushed hither-thither; and away they all
went, streaming through the valley, laden with picks and spades and
crow-bars and guns, hustling Mr. and Mrs. Motte and Mr. Adams and
Charley and Billy along in their midst.  They acted like a lot of
school-boys on a frolic, but there was an undercurrent of earnestness.

To the three men on the ridge it must have looked as though an army was
advancing; and Charley could see Mr. Walker and the Frémonter staring
from their posts whence they were keeping watch on the claim.  Well,
this was pretty tough: to have traveled clear from St. Louis, and spent
a lot of money, and acted honestly all the way through; and then only
to have put somebody else in possession of the mine.

"Thar's the place--straight ahead on top the ridge," directed the miner
Eph, who was leading with the red-shirt.  And following these two, up
the slope trooped the company.

The heads of the three men in the hollow poked up over the rim, as
their owners surveyed, probably in amazement, the onslaught.  The
muzzles of the guns protruded, also, but the big red-shirt made no
account of them.

"Come out o' thar!" he roared, in a voice that might have been heard a
mile.  "Drop those weapons; they'll do you no good.  So come out o'
thar, an' come quick.  Don't you know enough to make room for a lady?"

Up slowly rose the long-nosed man, and emerged, glowering but
weaponless, his hands in the air; and emerged likewise his two
partners.  The long-nosed man tried to bluff his way.

"What's the meaning of this attack?" he demanded.  "Where's your
warrant for it?  Would you drive three honest men off ground to which
they've got rights according to evidence?  Won't you consider our
documents in this matter?"

"Shot-gun rights don't go any longer in Grass Valley, mister," roared
the red-shirt.  "If you'd had the right sort o' rights you'd have
proved 'em peaceable.  Besides, with yore docyments--which you
stole--you're barkin' up the wrong tree.  Here's the true an'
ondisputed owner of this claim--the heiress of the Golden West, not to
speak of bein' the only woman in this district an' entitled to the best
that goes.  See?  Get down in thar, lady; Eph, you do yoreself the
honor of escortin' her, an' read what it says on that thar stake.  If
it says Golden West an' is signed Tom Jones, that settles the matter,
pronto."

"But the claim was abandoned.  It hasn't been worked for a year," spoke
up one of the long-nosed man's companions.

"Then you lose out thar, too, stranger," retorted the red-shirt.
"'Cause in that case, barrin' better rights, it belongs to these two
boys by right o' rediscivvery.  So don't argue with me; I'm a reg'lar
lawyer in argufyin'."

The miner Eph had very politely helped the little woman to the stake,
and stooping had traced with his gnarled finger the words on the notice.

"This is the claim," he announced.  "Shore as shootin'."

"Hooray!" cheered the Rough and Ready crowd.  Said the red-shirt, to
the Jacobs trio: "You git!  An' I app'int the camp o' Rough an' Ready,
here assembled, as a committee of the whole to see that you do git.
Don't you stop till you're so far you'll never come back.  But fust
shell out those dockyments, and be quick."

"Look here.  I----" attempted the long-nosed man; but he was
interrupted.

"Shell 'em out!" roared red-shirt, advancing a step.

Without a word Mr. Jacobs looked at his companions; and as if in answer
to his unspoken appeal one of them (Charley tried hard to compare him
with the stranger aboard the _California_) extracted from a pocketbook
the well-remembered slips, and tossed them aside, to the ground.

Charley daringly darted forward and picked them up.  Billy followed and
rescued his rifle.

"Are those the same?" queried red-shirt, of Charley.

"Yes, sir."

"All right.  Now," repeated red-shirt, to the Jacobs trio, "you git, as
aforesaid."

That the long-nosed man and his two cronies had guilty consciences was
very plain, for replying by naught (and rather white in the face at the
threatening advance of several Rough and Ready-ites) they backed away,
down the other side of the ridge; at a little distance they shook their
fists and yelped something, but they kept on going, so long as Charley
looked.  They had left not only Billy's gun, but their own guns also.

Young Mrs. Motte now was speaking, and so was her husband.

"It isn't fair," she declared bravely.  "This gentleman and his two
boys found the claim, again, and have given it up without a word, after
all their trouble; and they took care of my uncle, and it looks as
though he intended them to have the claim, as much as us."

"He certainly intended them to have some of it----" added her husband.

"More likely he thought that you hadn't got his letter, and for that
reason gave us a chance," put in Mr. Adams, quickly.

"But I owe you the mine, anyway," insisted Mr. Motte.  "Your ticket
from Panama was what brought me to San Francisco."

"The whole thing's soon settled," boomed the big red-shirt.  "I app'int
myself chairman of this here town meetin' of the new camp of Gold Hill
(the same which is the name of this ridge)----"

"Hooray for Gold Hill!" cheered the miners.

"An' I further app'int Eph Saunders clerk, to record the minutes when
he gets whar thar's somethin' to record with.  I'll make the motions,
too, if thar's no objection.  I move that it be the sense of this camp
that the little woman, here, an' her husband, by name o' Motte, be
declared legal owners of the Golden West quartz claim, extendin' 100
feet, both sides of the claim stake, followin' the main lode an'
includin' all dips an' angles an' spurs whatsoever; the same bein'
really two claims, one by 'heritance an' one for luck."

"I second the motion," yelled everybody.

"Moved an' seconded.  All in favor can say 'aye.'"

"Aye."

"Next I move it be the sense of this here camp," continued the
chairman, "that in consideration of this gentleman an' party havin'
sartin rights o' rediscivvery in the Golden West claim, an' havin' sort
o' defeated themselves 'cause they were kind to a young feller down at
Panama, an' havin' acted mighty white since they've been in these
diggin's, they be allowed next ch'ice o' claims, to the extent o' one
hundred an' fifty feet along the main lode, on both side o' the Golden
West, bein' 300 feet o' claims in all."

"Second the motion."

"Motion bein' seconded, all in favor say 'aye.'  An' I hope no citizen
of this camp'll be so dogged mean as to say anything else."

"Aye," pealed the lusty chorus.

Mr. Adams tried to speak; Charley and Billy looked at one another and
grinned.  And Billy waved at his father and Mr. Grigsby, who had
pressed up the hill to learn what was going on.

"The motion bein' carried unanimous, the chair app'ints the indivijools
known as Pike and Dutch to pace off the aforesaid distances, as close
as they can, an' mark the ends."

While everybody gravely watched, the two miners designated paced off
the 100 feet, on either side of the stake, along the ridge, and again
the 150 feet, further.  They hastily marked the distances and returned.

"There bein' no other bus'ness before the meetin'," shouted red-shirt,
"I declare it hereby dissolved--an' every man for himself.  Stake yore
claims, boys, while thar are any!"

Away he jumped, and away broke all.  With shouts and cheers and
laughter the whole hill was covered, in an incredibly short time, with
men picking and digging and peering and driving their stakes or piling
up stones.



XXII

THE BEST OF ALL

Mr. Grigsby and Billy's father had arrived in time to hear as well as
to see the outcome of the adventure on the newly-named Gold Hill.
Watching the retreat of the Jacobs party, Mr. Grigsby, leaning on his
rifle, laughed shortly.

"They got off easy," he said, in grim manner.  "Let me see the map,
boy."

"That smudgy place does look like a 'G. W.'," asserted Charley, passing
the paper over.  "Anyway, it looks as much like 'G. W.' as it does like
'G. H.'"

And so it did.  However, that mattered little now, and the feebly
scrawled assignment of the Golden West claim also was of small
importance; for the Golden West had been found at last, and everything
had turned out all right.  Here on Gold Hill, as at the Shirt-tail
Diggin's, "the goose hung high."

Now, with everybody busy, it remained to develop the Golden West lode,
which under the hurried operations of the bevy of workers could be
traced for a mile.

"I suppose," remarked Charley's father, "that the next thing for us to
do is to form a company and to lay plans for development, and to name
our property."

"If your party have no objections," spoke young Mr. Motte, hesitantly,
coming forward, "my wife and I would be very willing to combine our
claim with yours, under the name Golden West, and work all together.
We are able to do our part, of course."

Certainly there were no objections.  Thus the agreement was drawn up,
and the Golden West Mining Company was formed from the two parties.

At the base of the ridge there almost immediately sprang into being the
town of Gold Hill, for which Mr. Adams himself was elected _alcalde_,
or mayor, and Mrs. Motte clerk.  But the development of the Golden West
mine went ahead much more slowly.  Paying mines, especially lode mines,
do not grow up in a day, or a week, or a month.  The surface rock could
be loosened with pick and crow-bar, and pulverized and washed, to get
some gold, but the hard rock below the surface required special
machinery, for treatment.

So pending the arrival of the machinery the work was all development
work: picking here and there, digging a few tunnels, and much exploring
and planning.  Hard work it was, too.  However, the weather continued
to hold fine and sunny and crisp, in the early fall a light snow fell
but soon disappeared, and an Indian summer set in.  There was hunting
for deer and elk, and fun, evenings, in the camp--but something seemed
lacking.  What that was, Charley found out, when one morning Billy
hailed him excitedly.

"Say!  Hurrah!  Do you know it?"

"No," admitted Charley.

"My father and yours are going to send for my mother and yours!  They
might be out here with us as well as not.  See?  They'll be company for
Mrs. Motte.  She's having a great time, and loves it.  If she can stand
it, they can--and besides, we want 'em."

Want 'em?  Want his mother!  Charley let out a wild whoop, and rushed
for his father, who greeted him with a twinkle.  Why, that was the very
thing lacking--his mother!  Of course it was.  And now----!

"Do you think it will be Christmas present enough for you?" queried his
father.  "They'll have just about time to get here for Christmas, we
figure."

Surely nothing, not even another Golden West mine, could be half so
good for a Christmas present.

Time fairly dragged, despite the busy days.  Development work
proceeded, but better far and more interesting were the two cabins that
were being put up, in readiness for the great day.  And suddenly (for
all things come to him who waits!) Charley and Billy found themselves
actually delegated to go down to San Francisco--just they two--and meet
two Somebodies at the steamer pier!

It seemed great to be sent on such an errand; and it gave one rather an
important feeling to be alone and responsible in a city like San
Francisco.  By way of Sacramento and the river and bay they landed
there--two real miners from the hills, clad in their miner costumes.

They had intended to put up at the Parker-house; but at Sacramento
rumors of a great fire reached them, and sure enough, they found San
Francisco still smouldering.  For in the middle of December fire had
swept through all the flimsy buildings of down town.  The whole of
Portsmouth Square lay in ashes.  However, already new buildings were
going up as fast as hands could work.  Nobody seemed discouraged, but
toiled with a cheer.  The floor beams of another Parker-house had been
placed--and this new Parker-house was to be of brick!  Good for San
Francisco!

That night Charley and Billy slept in a large tent that had been
erected by the Parker-house to take care of what patrons it could.
Charley had tried to show his partner the "sights," but in only those
few months San Francisco had changed amazingly.  It had doubled in
population since that date when the steamer California had landed the
Adams party in the bay, and its people had changed, too.  Why, there
were as well-dressed men and women on the streets as in St. Louis; and
some of the stores which had not burned were like Eastern stores!

A new scheme had been invented.  On top of a high hill called Telegraph
Hill, overlooking the Golden Gate, a signal had been installed.  It
consisted of a tall post equipped with wooden paddles, like arms, that
flourished in a system of wigwags.  The positions of the arms signaled
"brig," "bark," "side-wheel steamer," etc.  And on "steamer day"--a day
when one of the big mail and passenger steamers was expected in--every
citizen was gazing at Telegraph Hill to see the arms extend
horizontally right and left, wigwagging, at last, "side-wheel steamer."

"The _Panama_!  When was the _Panama_ due?"

"On the nineteenth, bub."

But would she come?  Supposing she were late.  Then those mothers might
be late, too, for Christmas!  But she was not late; no, sir; for at
sunset of the _eighteenth_, see, up went the two arms of the signal on
Telegraph Hill, extended horizontally to announce: "Side-wheel steamer
entering the Golden Gate."  And presently there came the _Panama_,
surging majestically through the channel, and rounding to before the
city.

That was a long night, intervening before the passengers might land.
Charley and Billy slept scarcely a wink.  They were at the wharf bright
and early--but no earlier than an army of other persons almost as
excited as they.  The _Panama_ began to unload her passengers; the
usual fleet of skiffs and ship's boats put out, filled, from her side.

Charley and Billy peered expectantly.  Supposing, after all, those
mothers had missed the _Panama_ and had not come.  But no!  That was
they, wasn't it, in the second boat?  Yes!  Hurrah and hurrah!  Forward
bolted Charley; forward bolted Billy; and delivered such a series of
frantic hugs that their mothers simply _had_ to know them, in spite of
tan and clothes.

"Why!" gasped Charley's mother, holding him off a moment, to gain
breath and to make sure.  "How well you look!  Where's your father?  Is
he all right?  When do we get to the mine?  Are things going well?  Oh,
Charley, but I'm glad to see you!"

"Everything's splendid," panted Charley.  "But this is the best of all."

And from the behavior of Billy and _his_ mother, Charley rather
imagined that they agreed with him.

So it proved to be a merry Christmas at Gold Hill and the Golden West
mine.  And thus the famous year of Forty-nine passed into the busy
prosperous year of Fifty, during which California and the Golden West
mine grew and prospered together.





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