“He was layin’ right here—facin’ south,” Casey told himself, squatting on his heels within the rock circle that marked the walls of the tepee. “He said, ‘Got heap big gol’ mine, me—’ and he turned his hand that way.” Casey squinted at the distant blue ridge that was an unnamed spur of the Tippipahs. “It’s far enough so an old buck like him couldn’t make it very well. Fifteen mile, anyway—mebby twenty or twenty-five. And from the sign talk he made whilst he was talkin’, I’d guess it’s nearer twenty than fifteen. There’s that two-peak butte—looks like that would be about right for distance. And it’s dead in line—them old bucks don’t waggle their hands permiskus when they talk. Old Jim woulda laid on his hands if he’d knovved what they was tellin’ me; but even an ornery old devil like him gits careless when they git old. Casey hits straight fer Two Peak.”
That’s the way he got his bearings; just remembering the unguarded motion of Injun Jim’s grimy hand and adding thereto his superficial knowledge of the country and his own estimate of what an old fellow like Jim could call a long journey. With this and the unquestioning faith in his dream that was a part of him, Casey threw his favorite “packer’s hitch” across the packed burros at dawn next morning, boarded his buckskin mule and set off hopefully across the barren valley, heading straight for the distant butte he called Two Peak.
I don’t suppose Casey Ryan ever started out to do something for himself— something he considered important to his own personal welfare and happiness—without running straight into some other fellow’s business and stopping to lend a hand. He says he can’t remember being left alone at any time in his life to follow the beckoning finger of his own particular destiny.
Casey had made camp that night in one of several deep gulches that ridged the butte with two peaks. We had been lucky in our burro buying, and he had two of the fastest walking jacks in the country, so that he was able to give them a good long nooning and still reach the foot of the butte and make camp well before sundown. For the first time since he first heard of the Injun Jim gold mine, Casey felt that he was really “squared away” to the search. As he sat there blowing his unhurried breath upon a blue granite cup of coffee to cool it, his memory slanted back along the years when he had said that some day he would go and hunt for the Injun Jim mine that was so rich a ten-pound lard bucket full of the ore had been known to yield five hundred dollars’ worth of gold. Well, it had been a long time since he first said that to himself, but here he was, and to-morrow he would begin his search with daylight, starting with this gulch he was in and working methodically over every foot of Two Peak.
He took two long, satisfying swallows of coffee and poised the cup and listened. After a minute had gone in that way, he finished the coffee in gulps and stood up, dangling the empty cup with a finger crooked in the handle. From somewhere not more than a long rifle-shot away, a Ford was coughing under full pressure of gas and with at least one dirty spark plug to give it a spasmodic stutter. While Casey stood there listening, the stutter slowed and stopped with one wheezy cough. That was all.