“We change with the passing years,” said Kellogg, in a moralizing tone, which recalled his former vocation. “Now you are a man, and we meet here on the other side of the continent, on the banks of the Yuba River. I hope we are destined to be successful.”
“I hope so, too,” said Joshua, “for I’m reg’larly cleaned out.”
“If I can help you any in the sway of information, I shall be glad to do so.”
Joe and Bickford took him at his word and made many inquiries, eliciting important information.
The next day they took their places farther down the river and commenced work.
Their inexperience at first put them at a disadvantage, They were awkward and unskilful, as might have been expected. Still, at the end of the first day each had made about five dollars.
“That’s something,” said Joe.
“If I could have made five dollars in one day in Pumpkin Hollow,” said Mr. Bickford, “I would have felt like a rich man. Here it costs a feller so much to live that he don’t think much of it.”
“We shall improve as we go along. Wait till to-morrow night.”
The second day brought each about twelve dollars, and Joshua felt elated.
“I’m gettin’ the hang of it,” said he. “As soon as I’ve paid up what I owe you, I’ll begin to lay by somethin’.”
“I don’t want you to pay me till you are worth five hundred dollars, Mr. Bickford. The sum is small, and I don’t need it.”
“Thank you, Joe. You’re a good friend. I’ll stick by you if you ever want help.”
In the evening the camp presented a lively appearance.
When it was chilly, logs would be brought from the woods, and a bright fire would be lighted, around which the miners would sit and talk of home and their personal adventures and experiences. One evening Mr. Bickford and Joe were returning from a walk, when, as they approached the camp-fire, they heard a voice that sounded familiar, and caught these words:
“I’m from Pike County, Missouri, gentlemen. They call me the Rip-tail Roarer. I can whip my weight in wildcats.”
“By gosh!” exclaimed Joshua, “if it ain’t that skunk from Pike. I mean to tackle him.”
JUDGE LYNCH PRONOUNCES SENTENCE
The gentleman from Pike was sitting on a log, surrounded by miners, to whom he was relating his marvelous exploits. The number of Indians, grizzly bears, and enemies generally, which, according to his account, he had overcome and made way with, was simply enormous. Hercules was nothing to him. It can hardly be said that his listeners credited his stories. They had seen enough of life to be pretty good judges of human nature, and regarded them as romances which served to while away the time.
“It seems to me, my friend,” said Kellogg, who, it will be remembered, had been a schoolmaster, “that you are a modern Hercules.”