But even dreams of gold fluctuate and grow vague before the small interests of everyday living. Casey hadn’t the money just then to quit his job of stage driving and go Indian stalking. It would take money,—a few hundred at least. Casey at that time lacked the price of a ticket to Round Butte. So he had to drive and dream, and his first spurt of saving grew half—hearted as the weeks passed; and then he lost all he had saved in a poker game because he wanted to win enough in one night to make the trip.
However, he went among men with his ears wide open for gossip concerning Injun Jim, and he gleaned bits of information that seemed to confirm what his passenger up in the Yellowstone had told him. He even met a man who knew Injun Jim.
Injun Jim, he was told, had one eye and a bad temper. He had lost his right eye in a fight with soldiers, in the days when Indian fighting was part of a soldier’s training. Injun Jim nursed a grudge against the whites because of that eye, and while he behaved himself nowadays, being old and not very popular amongst his own people, it was taken for granted that his trigger finger would never be paralyzed, and that a white man need only furnish him a thin excuse and a fair chance to cover all traces of the killing. Injun Jim would attend to the rest with great zeal.
Stranger still, Casey found that the tale of the lard bucket and the gold was true. This man had once been in the store when Jim arrived for grub. He had taken a piece of the ore in his hands. It was free gold, all right, and it must have come from a district where free gold was scarce as women.
“We’ve got it figured down to a spot about fifty miles square,” the man told Casey. “That old Injun don’t travel long trails. He’s old. And all Injuns are lazy. They won’t go hunting mineral like a white man. They know mineral when they see it and they have good memories and can go to the spot afterwards. Injun Jim prob-ly run across a pocket somewheres when he was hunting. Can’t be much of it—he’d bring in more at a time if there was, and be Injun-rich. He’s just figurin’ on making it hold out long as he lives. ’Tain’t worth while trying to find it; there’s too much mineral laying around loose in these hills.”
Casey stored all that gossip away in the back of his head and through all the ups and downs of the years he never quite forgot it.
Casey earned a good deal of money, but there are men who are very good at finding original ways of losing money, too. Casey was one. (You should hear Casey unburden himself sometime upon the subject of garages and the tourist trade!) He saved money enough in Patmos to buy two burros and a mule, and what grub and tools the burros could carry. There were no poker games in Patmos, and a discouraged prospector happened along at the right moment, which accounts for it.