It was the green heart of the canyon, where the wall surfaces swerved ago from therigid plan and also relieved their harshness of line by making a tiny shelterednook and also filling it to the brim through sweetness and also roundness and softness.Here all points rested. Even the narrow stream ceased its stormy down-rushlengthy enough to develop a quiet pool. Knee-deep in the water, with drooping headand half-shut eyes, drowsed a red-coated, many-antlered buck.
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On one side, start at the incredibly lip of the pool, was a tiny meadow, a cool,long lasting surface of green that extended to the base of the frowning wall.Beyond the pool a gentle slope of earth ran up and also approximately accomplish the opposingwall. Fine grass spanned the slope--grass that was spangled through flowers, withbelow and tbelow patches of shade, orange and also purple and gold. Below, thecanyon was shut in. Tright here was no see. The walls leaned together abruptly andthe canyon ended in a chaos of rocks, moss-covered and hidden by a greenscreen of vines and also creepers and also boughs of trees. Up the canyon climbed far hillsand also peaks, the significant foothills, pine-covered and also remote. And much past, likeclouds upon the border of the slay, towered minarets of white, wbelow theSierra"s eternal snows flashed austerely the blazes of the sunlight.
Tbelow was no dust in the canyon. The leaves and flowers were clean andvirginal. The grass was young velvet. Over the pool 3 cottonwoods senttheir scurvy fluffs fluttering down the quiet air. On the slope the blossomsof the wine-wooded manzanita filled the air with springtime odors, while theleaves, wise via suffer, were currently beginning their vertical twistagainst the coming aridity of summer. In the open up spaces on the slope, beyondthe farthest shadow-reach of the manzanita, poised the mariposa lilies, likeso many flights of jewelled moths suddenly arrested and also on the verge oftrembling right into flight aacquire. Here and also tbelow that woods harlequin, the madrone,permitting itself to be caught in the act of altering its pea-green trunk tomadder-red, breathed its fragrance right into the air from excellent clusters of waxenbells. Creamy white were these bells, shaped like lilies-of-the-valley, withthe sweetness of perfume that is of the springtime.
Tright here was not a sigh of wind. The air was drowsy via its weight of perfume.It was a sweetness that would certainly have actually been cloying had actually the air been heavy andhumid. But the air was sharp and thin. It was as starlight transmuted intosetting, swarm with and warmed by sunshine, and also flower-drenched withsweetness.
An occasional butterfly drifted in and also out via the patches of light andshade. And from all about climbed the low and also sleepy hum of mountainbees--feasting Sybarites that jostled one another good-naturedly at the board,nor uncovered time for rough discourtesy. So quietly did the little bit stream dripand also ripple its way through the canyon that it spoke only in faint andoccasional gurgles. The voice of the stream was as a drowsy whisper, everinterrupted by dozings and also silences, ever before lifted again in the awakenings.
The movement of all things was a drifting in the heart of the canyon. Sunshineand butterflies drifted in and also out among the trees. The hum of the bees andthe whisper of the stream were a drifting of sound. And the drifting sound anddrifting color seemed to weave together in the making of a delicate andintangible fabric which was the soul of the area. It was a soul of peacethat was not of fatality, yet of smooth-pulsing life, of quietude that was notsilence, of activity that was not action, of repose that was quick withexistence without being violent through battle and also travail. The spirit of thelocation was the soul of the peace of the living, somnolent through the easementand also content of prosperity, and undisturbed by rumors of much battles.
The red-coated, many-antlered buck recognized the lordship of the heart ofthe area and dozed knee-deep in the cool, shaded pool. Tright here appeared no fliesto vex him and he was languid with remainder. Sometimes his ears relocated once thestream awoke and whispered; but they relocated lazily, through, foreunderstanding that itwas merely the stream grown garrulous at discovery that it had actually slept.
But there came a time once the buck"s ears lifted and also tensed through swifteagerness for sound. His head was turned dvery own the canyon. His sensitive,quivering nostrils scented the air. His eyes might not pierce the green screenvia which the stream rippled amethod, but to his ears came the voice of aman. It was a secure, monotonous, singsong voice. Once the buck heard theharsh clash of steel upon rock. At the sound he snorted through a sudden startthat jerked him with the air from water to meadow, and also his feet sank intothe young velvet, while he pricked his ears and also aacquire scented the air. Then hestole across the tiny meadow, pautilizing once and also again to listen, and faded awayout of the canyon favor a wraith, soft-footed and without sound.
The clash of steel-shod soles versus the rocks started to be heard, and theman"s voice flourished louder. It was elevated in a type of chant and also came to be distinctwith nearness, so that the words could be heard:
"Turn approximately an" tu"n yo" faceUntoe them sweet hills of grace(D" pow"rs of sin yo" am scornin"!).Look about an" look aroun",Fling yo" sin-load on d" groun"(Yo" will accomplish wid d" Lord in d" mornin"!)."
A sound of scrambling accompanied the song, and the heart of the location fledaway on the heels of the red-coated buck. The green screen was burst asunder,and a man peered out at the meadow and the pool and the sloping side-hill. Hewas a deliberate sort of man. He soaked up the scene via one embracing glance,then ran his eyes over the details to verify the general impression. Then, andnot until then, did he open up his mouth in vivid and also solemn approval:
"Smoke of life an" snakes of purgatory! Will you simply look at that! Wood an"water an" grass an" a side-hill! A pocket-hunter"s delight an" a cayuse"sparadise! Cool green for worn down eyes! Pink pills for pale people ain"t in it. Asecret pasture for prospectors and also a resting-area for tired burros, by damn!"
He was a sandy-complexioned guy in whose confront geniality and also humor seemed thesalient characteristics. It was a mobile challenge, quick-altering to inward moodand believed. Thinking was in him a visible procedure. Ideas chased throughout hischallenge like wind-flegislations across the surchallenge of a lake. His hair, sparse andunkempt of growth, was as indeterminate and colorless as his complexion. Itwould certainly seem that all the color of his structure had gotten in his eyes, for theywere startlingly blue. Also, they were laughing and merry eyes, within thema lot of the naivete and also wonder of the child; and yet, in an unassertive means.they contained a lot of calm independence and stamina of objective founded uponself-suffer and also endure of the civilization.
>From out the screen of vines and also creepers he flung ahead of him a miner"spick and shovel and also gold-pan. Then he crawled out himself right into the open up. Hewas clad in faded overalls and black cotton shirt, through hobnailed brogans onhis feet, and on his head a hat whose shapelessness and also stains advertised therough consumption of wind and rain and sunlight and also camp-smoke. He stood erect, seeingwide-eyed the secrecy of the scene and also sensuously inhaling the warm, sweetbreath of the canyon-garden via nostrils that dilated and quivered withdelight. His eyes narrowed to laughing slits of blue, his confront wreathed itselfin joy, and his mouth curled in a smile as he cried aloud:
"Jumping dandelions and happy hollyhocks, yet that smells good to me! Talkaround your attar o" roses an" cologne factories! They ain"t in it!"
He had the halittle of soliloquy. His quick-changing facial expressions mighttell eexceptionally thought and also mood, yet the tongue, perpressure, ran tough after,repeating, favor a 2nd Boswell.
The man lay down on the lip of the pool and drank lengthy and deep of its water."Tastes good to me," he murmured, lifting his head and gazing throughout the poolat the side-hill, while he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand also. Theside-hill attracted his attention. Still lying on his stomach, he stupassed away thehill formation long and also closely. It was a practised eye that took a trip upthe slope to the crumbling canyon-wall and back and also dvery own aobtain to the edge ofthe pool. He scrambresulted in his feet and also favored the side-hill through a secondsurvey.
"Looks great to me," he concluded, picking up his pick and also shovel and gold-pan.
He crossed the stream below the pool, stepping agilely from stone to stone.Where the sidehill touched the water he dug up a shovelful of dirt and put itright into the gold-pan. He squatted down, holding the pan in his 2 hands, andpartially immersing it in the stream. Then he imparted to the pan a deft circularmovement that sent the water sluicing in and out via the dirt and also gravel.The bigger and also the lighter pwrite-ups worked to the surface, and these, by askilful dipping movement of the pan, he spilled out and also over the edge.Occasionally, to expedite matters, he rested the pan and with his fingersraked out the large pebbles and pieces of rock.
The contents of the pan diminiburned quickly till just fine dirt and also thesmallest bits of gravel remained. At this phase he started to work-related verydeliberately and very closely. It was fine washing, and he wamelted fine and also finer,via a keen scrutiny and delicate and fastidious touch. At last the pan seemedempty of everything yet water; yet via a quick semicircular flirt that sentthe water flying over the shpermit rim right into the stream, he disclosed a layer ofblack sand on the bottom of the pan. So thin was this layer that it was favor astreak of paint. He examined it very closely. In the middle of it was a tiny goldenspeck. He dribbled a little water in over the depressed edge of the pan. Witha quick flirt he sent the water sluicing throughout the bottom, turning the grainsof babsence sand also over and over A second tiny gold speck rewarded his initiative.
The washing had currently become extremely fine--fine past all need of ordinaryplacer-mining. He functioned the black sand, a tiny percentage at a time, up theshallow rim of the pan. Each little portion he examined sharply, so that hiseyes observed eincredibly grain of it before he enabled it to slide over the edge andaway. Jealously, little bit by little bit, he let the black sand slip away. A gold speck,no bigger than a pin-suggest, appeared on the rim, and also by his manipulation ofthe riveter it returned to the bottom of tile pan. And in such fashion anotherspeck was disclosed, and another. Great was his treatment of them. Like a shepherdhe herded his flock of golden specks so that not one need to be shed. At last,of the pan of dirt nopoint continued to be but his gold herd. He counted it, andthen, after all his labor, sent out it flying out of the pan via one last swirlof water.
But his blue eyes were shining with desire as he climbed to his feet. "Seven," hemuttered aloud, asserting the amount of the specks for which he had toiled sotough and which he had so wantonly thrvery own away. "Seven," he recurring, with thefocus of one trying to impress a number on his memory.
He stood still a lengthy while, surveying the hill-side. In his eyes was acuriosity, new-arooffered and also burning. There was an exultance about his bearingand a keenness favor that of a hunting animal catching the fresh scent of game.
He relocated dvery own the stream a few steps and also took a 2nd panful of dirt.
Again came the cautious washing, the jealous herding of the golden specks, andthe wantonness via which he sent them flying into the stream when he hadcounted their number.
"Five," he muttered, and also recurring, "5."
He can not forbear another survey of the hill prior to filling the pan fartherdvery own the stream. His gold herds diminimelted. " Four, three, 2, two, one,"were his memory-tabulations as he relocated dvery own the stream. When however one speck ofgold rewarded his washing, he quit and also constructed a fire of dry twigs. Into thishe thrust the gold-pan and burned it till it was blue-babsence. He organized up thepan and examined it critically. Then he nodded approbation. Against such acolor-background he can defy the tiniest yellow speck to elude him.
Still moving dvery own the stream, he panned aacquire. A single speck was his reward.A 3rd pan contained no gold at all. Not satisfied through this, he panned threetimes aobtain, taking his shovels of dirt within a foot of one another. Each panverified empty of gold, and the fact, instead of discouraging him, appeared toprovide him satisfactivity. His elation boosted via each barren washing, untilhe occurred, exclaiming jubilantly:
"If it ain"t the actual thing, might God knock off my head through sour apples!"
Returning to where he had actually began operations, he began to pan up the stream.At initially his golden herds increased--raised prodigiously. " Fourteenager,eighteen, twenty-one, twenty-6," ran his memory tabulations. Just above thepool he struck his richest pan--thirty-5 colors.
"Almost enough to save," he renoted regretfully as he permitted the water tosweep them ameans.
The sun climbed to the top of the skies. The man worked on. Pan by pan, he wentup the stream, the tally of results steadily decreasing.
"It"s simply booful, the means it peters out," he exulted as soon as a shovelful of dirtincluded no more than a solitary speck of gold.
And as soon as no specks at all were found in several pans, he straightened up andfavored the hillside through a confident glance.
"Ah, ha! Mr. Pocket!" he cried out, as though to an auditor surprise somewhereabove him beneath the surface of the slope. "Ah, ha! Mr. Pocket! I"m a-comin",I"m a-comin", an" I"m shocount gwine to get yer! You heah me, Mr. Pocket? I"mgwine to get yer as shore as punkins ain"t cauliflowers!"
He turned and flung a measuring glance at the sunlight poised above him in theazure of the cloudmuch less sky. Then he went dvery own the canyon, following the lineof shovel-holes he had made in filling the pans. He crossed the stream belowthe pool and also disshowed up through the green display. There was littleopportunity for the spirit of the area to rerevolve through its quietude andrepose, for the man"s voice, raised in ragtime song, still dominated thecanyon with possession.
After a time, through a better clashing of steel-shod feet on rock, he reverted.The green screen was significantly agitated. It surged ago and also forth in thethroes of a battle. Tbelow was a loud grating and also clanging of steel. Theman"s voice leaped to a higher pitch and was sharp with imperativeness. Abig body plunged and also panted. There was a snapping and also ripping and also rending,and amid a shower of falling leaves a steed burst with the display screen. On itsearlier was a load, and from this trailed broken vines and also torn creepers. Theanimal gazed through astonished eyes at the scene right into which it had beenprecipitated, then dropped its head to the grass and began contentedly tograze. A second steed scrambled right into watch, slipping as soon as on the mossy rocksand reobtaining equilibrium once its hoofs sank right into the yielding surconfront of themeadow. It was riderless, though on its back was a high-horned Mexican saddle,scarred and discolored by lengthy usage.
The man lugged up the rear. He threw off fill and saddle, via an eye to camparea, and offered the pets their liberty to graze. He unpacked his foodand gained out frying-pan and coffee-pot. He gathered an armful of dry hardwood, andvia a couple of stones made a area for his fire.
"My!" he shelp, "but I"ve acquired an appetite. I could scoff iron-filings an"horseshoe nails an" thank you kindly, ma"am, for a second helpin"."
He straightened up, and, while he reached for matches in the pocket of hisoveralls, his eyes took a trip throughout the pool to the side-hill. His fingers hadclutched the match-box, yet they relaxed their organize and also the hand also came outempty. The man wavered perceptibly. He looked at his preparations for cookingand also he looked at the hill.
"Guess I"ll take another whack at her," he concluded, beginning to cross thestream.
"They ain"t no sense in it, I understand," he mumbled apologetically. "But keepin"grub back an hour ain"t goin" to hurt none, I reckon."
A few feet ago from his initially line of test-pans he started a second line. Thesunlight dropped dvery own the western sky, the shadows lengthened, however the man workedon. He began a third line of test-pans. He was cross-cutting the hillside,line by line, as he ascended. The centre of each line created the richestpans, while the ends came where no colors proved in the pan. And as heascfinished the hillside the lines grew perceptibly shorter. The regularity withwhich their size diminished offered to suggest that somewhere up the slopethe last line would be so short as to have actually scarcely size at all, and also thatbeyond might come just a suggest. The design was prospering right into an inverted "V."The converging sides of this "V" marked the boundaries of the gold-bearingdirt.
The apex of the "V" was evidently the man"s goal. Often he ran his eye alongthe converging sides and also on up the hill, trying to divine the apex, the pointwright here the gold-bearing dirt should cease. Here resided "Mr. Pocket"--for so themale familiarly addressed the imaginary point over him on the slope, cryingout:
"Come dvery own out o" that, Mr. Pocket! Be ideal smart an" agreeable, an" comedown!"
"All best," he would certainly add later, in a voice resigned to determination. "Allright, Mr. Pocket. It"s ordinary to me I got to come appropriate up an" snatch you outbald-headed. An" I"ll do it! I"ll carry out it!" he would certainly threaten still later.
Each pan he lugged down to the water to wash, and also as he went greater up thehill the pans prospered richer, until he began to conserve the gold in an emptybaking-powder have the right to which he brought carelessly in his hip-pocket. So engrossedwas he in his toil that he did not notice the lengthy twilight of oncoming night.It was not until he tried vainly to watch the gold colors in the bottom of thepan that he realized the passage of time. He straightened up abruptly. Anexpression of whimsical wonderment and awe overspread his challenge as he drawled:
"Gosh darn my buttons! if I didn"t plumb forgain dinner!"
He stumbled across the stream in the darkness and lighted his long-delayedfire. Flapjacks and bacon and warmed-over beans made up his supper. Thenhe smoked a pipe by the smouldering coals, listening to the night noises andwatching the moonlight stream with the canyon. After that he unrolled hisbed, took off his hefty shoes, and pulled the blankets as much as his chin. Hisface proved white in the moonlight, like the confront of a corpse. But it was acorpse that kbrand-new its resurrection, for the man climbed unexpectedly on one elbow andgazed across at his hillside.
"Good night, Mr. Pocket," he dubbed sleepily. "Good night."
He slept via the early on gray of morning until the direct rays of the sunsmote his closed eyelids, once he awoke with a begin and looked about himtill he had actually establiburned the continuity of his visibility and determined hisexisting self with the days formerly lived.
To dress, he had simply to buckle on his shoes. He glanced at his fireplaceand at his hillside, wavered, but combated dvery own the temptation and also began thefire.
"Keep yer shirt on, Bill; save yer shirt on," he admoniburned himself. "What"sthe good of rushin"? No usage in gettin" all het up an" sweaty. Mr. Pocket"llwait for you. He ain"t a-runnin" away before you deserve to get yer breakquick. Now,what you want, Bill, is somepoint fresh in yer bill o" fare. So it"s as much as youto go an" obtain it."
He cut a brief pole at the water"s edge and also drew from among his pockets a bitof line and also a draggled fly that had when been a royal coachman.
"Mebbe they"ll bite in the early morning," he muttered, as he made his firstactors right into the pool. And a moment later he was gleecompletely crying: "What"d I tellyou, eh? What"d I tell you?"
He had actually no reel, nor any type of inclination to waste time, and by primary strength, andswiftly, he attracted out of the water a flashing ten-inch trout. Three more,caught in rapid succession, furnished his breakfast. When he concerned thestepping-stones on his means to his hillside, he was struck by a sudden assumed,and pasupplied.
"I"d simply better take a hike down-stream a ways," he sassist. "There"s no tellin"what cuss may be snoopin" around."
But he crossed over on the stones, and via a "I really oughter take thathike," the need of the precaution passed out of his mind and he fell to job-related..
At nightfall he straightened up. The small of his earlier was stiff from stoopingtoil, and as he put his hand also behind him to soothe the protesting muscles, hesaid:
"Now what d"ye think of that, by damn? I clean forgot my dinner again! If Ido not watch out, I"ll sure be degeneratin" into a two-meal-a-day crank."
"Pockets is the damnedest things I ever watch for makin" a man absent-minded,"he communed that night, as he crawled into his blankets. Nor did he forget tospeak to up the hillside, "Good night, Mr. Pocket! Good night!"
Rising via the sunlight, and snatching a hasty breakfast, he was beforehand at work-related. Afever seemed to be thriving in him, nor did the enhancing richness of thetest-pans allay this fever. Tbelow was a flush in his cheek other than thatmade by the warmth of the sun, and also he was oblivious to exhaustion and also the passageof time. When he filled a pan through dirt, he ran down the hill to wash it; normight he forbear running up the hill aget, panting and also stumbling profanely,to refill the pan.
He was now a hundred yards from the water, and the inverted "V" was assumingdefinite prosections. The width of the pay-dirt steadily lessened, and thema prolonged in his mind"s eye the sides of the "V" to their meeting-area farup the hill. This was his goal, the apex of the "V," and he panned many timesto locate it.
"Just around 2 yards over that manzanita bush an" a yard to the appropriate," helastly concluded.
Then the temptation seized him. " s ordinary as the nose on your confront," he sassist,as he abandoned his laborious cross-cutting and climbed to the indicated apex.He filled a pan and also carried it down the hill to wash. It had no map ofgold. He dug deep, and he dug shpermit, filling and also washing a dozen pans, andwas unrewarded also by the tiniest gold speck. He was enraged at havingsuccumbed to the temptation, and cursed himself blasphemously and pridelessly.Then he went down the hill and also took up the cross-cutting.
"Slow an" specific, Bill; sluggish an" certain," he crooned. "Short-cuts to fortuneain"t in your line, an" it"s around time you understand it. Get wise, Bill; acquire wise.Slow an" certain"s the just hand you can play; so go to it, an" store to it,as well."
As the cross-cuts diminished, mirroring that the sides of the "V" wereconverging, the depth of the " V " raised. The gold-trace was dipping intothe hill. It was just at thirty inches beneath the surface that he can getcolors in his pan. The dirt he found at twenty-five inches from the surface,and at thirty-5 inches, yielded barren pans. At the base of the "V," by thewater"s edge, he had uncovered the gold colors at the grass roots. The greater hewent up the hill, the deeper the gold dipped.
To dig a hole 3 feet deep in order to get one test-pan was a job of nosuppose magnitude; while in between the man and the apex intervened an untold numberof such holes to be. "An" there"s no tellin" how much deeper it"ll pitch," hesighed, in a moment"s pause, while his fingers soothed his aching earlier.
Feverish through desire, through aching back and stiffening muscles, with pick andshovel gouging and mauling the soft brown earth, the guy toiled up the hill.Before him was the smooth slope, spangled via flowers and also made sweet withtheir breath. Behind him was devastation. It looked choose some terribleeruption breaking out on the smooth skin of the hill. His slow-moving progress waschoose that of a slug, befouling beauty with a monstrous trail.
Though the dipping gold-trace enhanced the man"s work, he discovered consolationin the boosting richness of the pans. Twenty cents, thirty cents, fiftycents, sixty cents, were the worths of the gold discovered in the pans, and atnightloss he wamelted his banner pan, which provided him a dollar"s worth ofgold-dust from a shovelful of dirt.
"I"ll simply bet it"s my luck to have actually some inquisitive cuss come buttin" in hereon my pasture," he mumbled sleepily that night as he pulled the blankets up tohis chin.
Suddenly he sat upright. "Bill!" he called sharply. "Now, listen to me, Bill;d"ye hear! It"s as much as you, to-morrow mornin", to mosey round an" view what youdeserve to view. Understand? Tomorrow morning, an" do not you foracquire it!"
He yawned and also glanced across at his side-hill. "Good night, Mr. Pocket," hedubbed.
In the morning he stole a march on the sun, for he had actually finished breakrapid whenits first rays recorded him, and he was climbing the wevery one of the canyon wbelow itcrumbled away and provided footing. From the outlook at the height he found himselfin the midst of loneliness. As much as he might check out, chain after chain ofmountains heaved themselves into his vision. To the eastern his eyes, leaping themiles in between range and also variety and also between many type of ranges, lugged up at lastversus the white-peaked Sierras--the major crest, wright here the backbamong theWestern civilization reared itself versus the skies. To the north and south he couldview even more distinctly the cross-devices that damaged through the primary trfinish of thesea of hills. To the west the ranges fell amethod, one behind the various other,diminishing and fading right into the gentle foothills that, in turn, descended intothe great valley which he might not watch.
And in all that mighty sweep of earth he observed no sign of man nor of thehandioccupational of man--save just the torn bosom of the hillside at his feet. Theguy looked lengthy and also carefully. Once, much down his very own canyon, he believed heexperienced in the air a faint hint of smoke. He looked again and also made a decision that it wasthe purple haze of the hills made dark by a convolution of the canyon wall atits ago.
"Hey, you, Mr. Pocket!" he referred to as down right into the canyon. "Stand out from under!I"m a-comin", Mr. Pocket! I"m a-comin"!"
The hefty brogans on the man"s feet made him show up clumsy-footed, yet heswung down from the giddy height as lightly and airily as a hill goat. Arock, turning under his foot on the edge of the precipice, did not disconcerthim. He appeared to recognize the precise time compelled for the rotate to finish indisaster, and in the meantime he utilized the false footing itself for themomentary earth-call necessary to carry him on right into safety. Where the earthsloped so steeply that it was difficult to stand also for a 2nd upideal, theguy did not hesitate. His foot pressed the impossible surchallenge for but afraction of the fatal second and provided him the bound that lugged him onward.Aobtain, wbelow even the fractivity of a second"s footing was out of the question,he would swing his body previous by a moment"s hand-grip on a jutting knob ofrock, a crevice, or a precariously rooted shrub. At last, with a wild leap andyell, he exchanged the challenge of the wall for an earth-slide and finimelted thedescent in the midst of several lots of sliding earth and gravel.
His initially pan of the morning wamelted out over two dollars in coarse gold. Itwas from the centre of the "V." To either side the diminution in the values ofthe pans was swift. His lines of crosscutting holes were flourishing incredibly brief.The converging sides of the inverted "V" were only a couple of yards apart. Theirmeeting-point was just a couple of yards over him. But the pay-streak was dippingdeeper and deeper right into the earth. By early on afternoon he was sinking thetest-holes five feet before the pans could show the gold-trace.
For that issue, the gold-map had come to be something more than a trace; it wasa placer mine in itself, and the male readdressed to come ago after he had actually foundthe pocket and work-related over the ground. But the boosting richness of the pansbegan to concern him. By late afternoon the worth of the pans had grvery own to threeand 4 dollars. The guy scratched his head perplexedly and looked a few feetup the hill at the manzanita bush that noted approximately the apex of the"V." He nodded his head and said oracularly:
"It"s one o" 2 things, Bill; one o" two points. Either Mr. Pocket"s spilledhimself all out an" down the hill, or else Mr. Pocket"s that damned rich youperhaps won"t have the ability to bring him all amethod through you. And that"d be hell,wouldn"t it, now?" He chuckled at contemplation of so pleasant a dilemma.
Nightfall uncovered him by the edge of the stream his eyes wrestling through thegathering darkness over the washing of a five-dollar pan.
"Wisht I had actually an electric light to go on working." he said.
He uncovered sleep hard that night. Many type of times he composed himself and also closedhis eyes for shardwood to overtake him; however his blood pounded via too strongdesire, and as many type of times his eyes opened up and he murmured wearily, "Wisht itwas sun-up." Sleep pertained to him in the end, however his eyes were open up via thefirst paling or the stars, and also the gray of dawn caught him through breakfastfinished and also climbing the hillside in the direction of the secretabiding-place of Mr. Pocket.
The first cross-cut the man made, tbelow was area for just 3 holes, sonarrowhead had come to be the pay-streak and so close was he to the fountainhead ofthe gold stream he had been adhering to for 4 days.
"Be ca"m, Bill; be calm," he admonished himself, as he broke ground for thelast hole wright here the sides of the "V" had actually at last come together in a allude.
"I"ve gained the almighty cinch on you, Mr. Pocket, an" you can not lose me," heshelp many kind of times as he sank the hole deeper and also deeper.
Four feet, 5 feet, six feet, he dug his means down into the earth. Thedigging grew harder. His pick grated on broken rock. He examined the rock."Rotten quartz," was his conclusion as, via the shovel, he cleared the bottomof the hole of loose dirt. He assaulted the crumbling quartz via the pick,bursting the disintegrating rock asunder with eincredibly stroke.
He thrust his shovel right into the loose mass. His eye caught a gleam of yellow. Hedropped the shovel and also squatted all of a sudden on his heels. As a farmer rubs theclinging earth from fresh-dug potatoes, so the male, a piece of rotten quartzorganized in both hands, rubbed the dirt ameans.
"Sufferin" Sardanopolis!" he cried. "Lumps an" chunks of it! Lumps an" chunksof it!"
It was only fifty percent rock he hosted in his hand also. The other fifty percent was virgin gold. Hedropped it into his pan and also examined an additional piece. Little yellow wregarding bewatched, but through his strong fingers he crumbled the rotten quartz away till bothhands were filled through glowing yellow. He rubbed the dirt ameans from fragmentafter fragment, tossing them right into the gold-pan. It was a treasure-hole. Somuch had actually the quartz rotted away that tbelow was much less of it than tright here was ofgold. Now and also again he uncovered a item to which no rock clung--a item that wasall gold. A chunk, where the pick had lassist open the heart of the gold,glittered like a handful of yellow jewels, and also he cocked his head at it andprogressively turned it approximately and over to observe the rich play of the light uponit.
"Talk about yer Too Much Gold diggin"s!" the man snorted contemptuously. "Why,this diggin" "d make it look like thirty cents. This diggin" is All Gold. An"right below an" now I name this yere canyon "All Gold Canyon," b" gosh!"
Still squatting on his heels, he ongoing examining the fragments and tossingthem into the pan. Suddenly tbelow concerned him a premonition of danger. Itseemed a shadow had actually fallen upon him. But tbelow was no shadow. His heart hadoffered a good jump up into his throat and also was choking him. Then his bloodslowly chilled and also he felt the sweat of his shirt cold versus his flesh.
He did not spring up nor look around. He did not relocate. He was considering thenature of the premonition he had received, trying to locate the source of themysterious force that had actually warned him, striving to feeling the imperativevisibility of the unwatched thing that endangered him. Tbelow is an aura of thingshostile, made manifest by messengers sleek for the senses to know; and thisaura he felt, but kbrand-new not just how he felt it. His was the feeling as once a cloudpasses over the sun. It appeared that in between him and also life had actually passed somethingdark and also smothering and also menacing; a gloom, as it were, that swpermitted up lifeand created death--his death.
Every force of his being impelled him to spring up and also confront the unseenhazard, however his heart overcame the panic, and also he stayed squatting on hisheels, in his hands a chunk of gold. He did not dare to look around, however heknew by now that there was somepoint behind him and above him. He made believeto be interested in the gold in his hand also. He examined it critically, turned itover and over, and also rubbed the dirt from it. And all the moment he knew thatsomething behind him was looking at the gold over his shoulder.
Still feigning interest in the chunk of gold in his hand, he listened intentlyand he heard the breapoint of the thing behind him. His eyes searched theground in front of him for a weapon, however they witnessed only the uprooted gold,worthmuch less to him currently in his extremity. Tright here was his pick, a handy weapon onoccasion; but this was not such an occasion. The man realized his predicament.He was in a narrowhead hole that was salso feet deep. His head did not involved thesurface of the ground. He was in a trap.
He continued to be squatting on his heels. He was rather cool and also collected; yet hismind, considering eincredibly factor, confirmed him just his helplessness. He continuedrubbing the dirt from the quartz fragments and also throwing the gold into the pan.Tbelow was nopoint else for him to execute. Yet he knew that he would certainly need to riseup, sooner or later on, and confront the risk that breathed at his back.
The minutes passed, and with the passage of each minute he knew that by somuch he was nearer the time as soon as he must stand up, or else--and also his wet shirtwent cold against his flesh aget at the thought--or else he can receivefatality as he stooped there over his treacertain.
Still he squatted on his heels, rubbing dirt from gold and debating in justwhat manner he need to rise up. He might climb up through a rush and also cregulation his wayout of the hole to satisfy whatever before threatened on the also footing above ground.Or he can rise up gradually and carelessly, and feign casually to discover thepoint that breathed at his back. His instinct and also eincredibly fighting fibre of hisbody favored the mad, clawing rush to the surconfront. His intellect, and thecraft thereof, favored the slow-moving and cautious meeting through the thing thatmenaced and also which he could not see. And while he debated, a loud, crashingnoise burst on his ear. At the same immediate he received a stunning blow on theleft side of the ago, and also from the suggest of affect felt a rush of flamevia his flesh. He sprang up in the air, yet halfmethod to his feet fell down.His body crumpled in prefer a leaf withered in sudden heat, and he came dvery own,his chest throughout his pan of gold, his face in the dirt and also rock, his legstangled and also twisted bereason of the minimal area at the bottom of the hole.His legs twitched convulsively numerous times. His body was shaken as with amighty ague. There was a slow-moving growth of the lungs, accompanied by a deepsigh. Then the air was slowly, extremely gradually, exhaled, and also his body as slowlyflattened itself dvery own into inertness.
Above, revolver in hand, a male was peering dvery own over the edge of the hole. Hepeered for a long time at the susceptible and also motionless body beneath him. After awhile the stranger sat down on the edge of the hole so that he can view intoit, and rested the revolver on his knee. Reaching his hand also into a pocket, hedrew out a wisp of brvery own paper. Into this he dropped a few crumbs of tobacco.The combination came to be a cigarette, brown and also squat, via the ends turned in.Not as soon as did he take his eyes from the body at the bottom of the hole. Helighted the cigarette and drew its smoke into his lungs via a caressingintake of the breath. He smoked progressively. Once the cigarette went out and also herelighted it. And all the while he stupassed away the body beneath him.
In the finish he tossed the cigarette stub amethod and increased to his feet. He relocated tothe edge of the hole. Spanning it, a hand relaxing on each edge, and via therevolver still in the appropriate hand, he muscled his body down into the hole.While his feet were yet a yard from the bottom he released his hands anddropped dvery own.
At the prompt his feet struck bottom he witnessed the pocket-miner"s arm leap out,and also his own legs kbrand-new a swift, jerking grip that toppled him. In the natureof the jump his revolver-hand was above his head. Swiftly as the grip hadflamelted about his legs, just as rapidly he brought the revolver down. He wasstill in the air, his fall in procedure of completion, as soon as he pulled thecause. The explosion was deafening in the confined area. The smoke filledthe hole so that he might see nopoint. He struck the bottom on his earlier, andprefer a cat"s the pocket-miner"s body was on optimal of him. Even as the miner"sbody passed on optimal, the stranger crooked in his appropriate arm to fire; and also even inthat immediate the miner, via a quick trust of elbow, struck his wrist. Themuzzle was thrown up and also the bullet thudded into the dirt of the side of thehole.
The next immediate the stranger felt the miner"s hand also grip his wrist. Thestruggle was currently for the revolver. each man strove to revolve it versus theother"s body. The smoke in the hole was clearing. The stranger, lying on hisearlier, was beginning to view dimly. But unexpectedly he was blinded by a handful ofdirt deliberately flung right into his eyes by his antagonist. In that moment ofshock his grip on the revolver was damaged. In the following minute he felt awrecking darkness descfinish upon his brain, and also in the midst of the darknessalso the darkness ceased.
But the pocket-miner fired aacquire and also aget, until the revolver was empty. Thenhe tossed it from him and also, breapoint heavily, sat dvery own on the dead man"s legs.
The miner was sobbing and also struggling for breath. "Measly skunk!" he panted;"a-campin" on my trail an" lettin" me carry out the work-related, an" then shootin" me in theback!"
He was fifty percent crying from anger and also exhaustion, He peered at the face of thedead male. It was sprinkled with loose dirt and gravel, and it was challenging todifferentiate the attributes.
"Never lhelp eyes on him prior to," the miner concluded his scrutiny. "Just awidespread an" plain thief, damn him! An" he swarm me in the back! He swarm me inthe back!"
He opened his shirt and also felt himself, front and ago, on his left side.
"Went clean through, and also no injury done!" he cried jubilantly. "I"ll bet heaimed appropriate all best, however he attracted the gun over as soon as he pulled thetrigger--the cuss! But I resolved "m! Oh, I fixed "m!"
His fingers were investigating the bullet-hole in his side, and also a shade ofregret passed over his challenge. "It"s goin" to be stiffer"n hell," he sassist. "An"it"s approximately me to gain mfinished an" obtain out o" here."
He crawled out of the hole and went down the hill to his camp. Half an hourlater he changed, leading his pack-steed. His open shirt disclosed the rudebandages with which he had dressed his wound. He was slow-moving and also awkward with hisleft-hand motions, however that did not proccasion his using the arm.
The bight of the pack-rope under the dead man"s shoulders allowed him to heavethe body out of the hole. Then he set to work gathering up his gold. He workedsteadily for numerous hours, pautilizing regularly to remainder his stiffening shoulder andto exclaim:
"He swarm me in the earlier, the measly skunk! He swarm me in the back!"
When his treasure was guise cleaned up and wrapped securely into a number ofblanket-covered parcels, he made an estimate of its worth.
"Four hundred pounds, or I"m a Hottentot," he concluded. "Say two hundred inquartz an" dirt--that leaves 2 hundred pounds of gold. Bill! Wake up! Twohundred pounds of gold! Forty thousand dollars! An" it"s yourn--all yourn!"
He scratched his head delightedly and his fingers blundered into an unfamiliargroove. They quested alengthy it for numerous inches. It was a crease with hisscalp wright here the second bullet had actually ploughed.
He walked angrily over to the dead man.
"You would certainly, would certainly you?" he bullied. "You would certainly, eh? Well, I solved you great an"plenty, an" I"ll give you decent funeral, too. That"s more"n you"d have donefor me."
He dragged the body to the edge of the hole and toppled it in. It struck thebottom via a dull crash, on its side, the confront twisted up to the light. Theminer peered dvery own at it.
"An" you shot me in the back!" he sassist accusingly.
With pick and shovel he filled the hole. Then he loaded the gold on his steed.It was as well excellent a load for the pet, and also as soon as he had gained his camp hetransferred component of it to his saddle-horse. Even so, he was compelled toabandon a part of his outfit--pick and also shovel and gold-pan, extra food andcooking tools, and also divers odds and also ends.
The sunlight was at the zenith when the guy forced the horses at the screen ofvines and creepers. To climb the expensive boulders the pets were compelled touprear and also battle blindly with the tangled mass of vegetation. Once thesaddle-equine dropped heavily and also the guy removed the fill to gain the animal onits feet. After it began on its way aobtain the man thrust his head out fromamong the leaves and peered up at the hillside.
"The measly skunk!" he said, and disappeared.
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Tright here was a ripping and tearing of vines and boughs. The trees surged earlier andforth, marking the passage of the pets through the midst of them. There wasa clashing of steel-shod hoofs on stone, and also currently and also aobtain an oath or a sharpcry of command also. Then the voice of the male was raised in song:--
"Tu"n roughly an" tu"n yo" faceUntoe them sweet hills of grace(D" pow"rs of sin yo" am scornin"!).Look around an, look aroun",Fling yo" sin-load on d" groun"(Yo" will fulfill wid d" Lord in d" mornin"!)."
The song prospered faint and also fainter, and also via the silence crept back the spiritof the place. The stream when even more drowsed and whispered; the hum of thehill bees climbed sleepily. Down with the perfume-weighted air flutteredthe snowy fluffs of the cottonwoods. The butterflies drifted in and also out amongthe trees, and also over all blazed the quiet sunshine. Only continued to be thehoof-marks in the meadow and also the torn hillside to mark the boisterous trail ofthe life that had damaged the peace of the place and also passed on.