California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about California.
  The work-people meet them
  A knowing Indian and a sly Kentuckian
  A labouring party organised
  Digging and washing for gold
  The news spreads
  People flock to the diggings
  Arrival of Mormons
  The gold found to be inexhaustible
  Men of science as blind as the rest of the world.

“I was sitting one afternoon,” said the Captain, “just after my siesta, engaged, by-the-by, in writing a letter to a relation of mine at Lucerne, when I was interrupted by Mr. Marshall—­a gentleman with whom I had frequent business transactions—­bursting hurriedly into the room.  From the unusual agitation in his manner I imagined that something serious had occurred, and, as we involuntarily do in this part of the world, I at once glanced to see if my rifle was in its proper place.  You should know that the mere appearance of Mr. Marshall at that moment in the Fort was quite enough to surprise me, as he had but two days before left the place to make some alterations in a mill for sawing pine planks, which he had just run up for me, some miles higher up the Americanos.  When he had recovered himself a little, he told me that, however great my surprise might be at his unexpected reappearance, it would be much greater when I heard the intelligence he had come to bring me.  ‘Intelligence,’ he added, ’which, if properly profited by, would put both of us in possession of unheard-of wealth—­millions and millions of dollars in fact.’  I frankly own, when I heard this, that I thought something had touched Marshall’s brain, when suddenly all my misgivings were put an end to by his flinging on the table a handful of scales of pure virgin gold.  I was fairly thunderstruck, and asked him to explain what all this meant, when he went on to say, that, according to my instructions, he had thrown, the mill-wheel out of gear, to let the whole body of the water in the dam find a passage through the tail-race, which was previously too narrow to allow the water to run off in sufficient quantity, whereby the wheel was prevented from efficiently performing its work.  By this alteration the narrow channel was considerably enlarged, and a mass of sand and gravel carried off by the force of the torrent.  Early in the morning after this took place, he (Mr. Marshall) was walking along the left bank of the stream, when he perceived something which he at first took for a piece of opal—­a clear transparent stone very common here—­glittering on one of the spots laid bare by the sudden crumbling away of the bank.  He paid no attention to this; but while he was giving directions to the workmen, having observed several similar glittering fragments, his curiosity was so far excited, that he stooped down and picked one of them up.  ’Do you know,’ said Mr. Marshall to me, ’I positively debated within myself two or three times whether I should take the trouble to bend my back to pick up one of the pieces, and had decided on not doing so, when, further on, another glittering morsel caught my eye—­the

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California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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