There was still another—Kellogg—who steadfastly adhered to cold water, or tea and coffee, as a beverage. These three were dubbed by their companions the “Cold-Water Brigade,” and accepted the designation good-naturedly.
“Joshua,” said Joe, some three months after their arrival, “have you taken account of stock lately?”
“No,” said Joshua, “but I’ll do it now.”
After a brief time he announced the result.
“I’ve got about five hundred dollars, or thereabouts,” he said.
“You have done a little better than I have.”
“How much have you?”
“About four hundred and fifty.”
“I owe you twenty-five dollars, Joe. That’ll make us even.”
Joshua was about to transfer twenty-five dollars to Joe, when the latter stayed his hand.
“Don’t be in a hurry, Mr. Bickford,” he said. “Wait till we get to the city.”
“Do you know, Joe,” said Joshua, in a tone of satisfaction, “I am richer than I was when I sot out from home?”
“I am glad to hear it, Mr. Bickford. You have worked hard, and deserve your luck.”
“I had only three hundred dollars then; now I’ve got four hundred and seventy-five, takin’ out what I owe you.”
“You needn’t take it out at all.”
“You’ve done enough for me, Joe. I don’t want you to give me that debt.”
“Remember, Joshua, I have got a business in the city paying me money all the time. I expect my share of the profits will be more than I have earned out here.”
“That’s good. I wish I’d got a business like you. You’d be all right even if you only get enough to pay expenses here.”
“I am getting rather tired of this place, Mr. Bickford,” said Joe, after a little pause.
“You don’t think of going back to the city?” asked Joshua apprehensively.
“Not directly, but I think I should like to see a little more of California. These are not the only diggings.”
“Where do you want to go?”
“I haven’t considered yet. The main thing is, will you go with me?”
“We won’t part company, Joe.”
“Good! Then I’ll inquire, and see what I can find out about other places. This pays fairly, but there is little chance of getting nuggets of any size hereabouts.”
“I’d just like to find one worth two thousand dollars. I’d start for home mighty quick, and give Sukey Smith a chance to become Mrs. Bickford.”
“Success to you!” said Joe, laughing.
A STARTLING TABLEAU
Joe finally decided on some mines a hundred miles distant in a southwesterly direction. They were reported to be rich and promising.
“At any rate,” said he, “even if they are no better than here, we shall get a little variety and change of scene.”
“That’ll be good for our appetite.”