After working for about half an hour, I retraced my steps with my basket to the spot where we had tethered the horses, and found the animals still standing there with their burdens on their backs. Mr. Malcolm was already there; he had with him about an equal quantity of the precious black sand; it remained, however, to be seen what proportion of gold our heaps contained. In a short time Bradley and Don Luis joined us, both of them in tip-top spirits. “I guess this is the way we do the trick down in these clearings,” said the former, shaking a bag of golden sand. As for Jose, Don Luis’s Indian servant, he was devout in his expressions of thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary and the Great Spirit, whom he would insist upon classifying together, in a most remarkable and not quite orthodox manner.
We now set to work to get up our tent. Malcolm, in the meantime, prepared coffee and very under-baked cakes, made of the flour we had brought with us. His cooking operations were greatly impeded by our eagerness to dry the sand we had scraped up—a feat in the achievement of which Bradley was clumsy enough to burn a hole in our very best saucepan. However, we managed to get the moisture absorbed, and, shutting our eyes, we commenced blowing away the sand with our mouths, and shortly after found ourselves the possessors of a few pinch’s of gold. This was encouraging for a beginning. We drunk our coffee in high spirits, and then, having picketted our horses, made ourselves as snug as our accommodation would allow, and, being tired out, not only with the journey and the work, but with excitement and anxiety, slept soundly till morning.
Two horses stray away
How orders were enforced at the diggings
Nature of the soil
Inconveniences even in gold getting
Dinner and rest
A strike for higher wages
A walk through the diggings
Sleeping and smoking
Indians and finery
Californians and Yankee
Runaway sailors and stray negroes
A native born Kentuckian
“That’s a fact”
A chapel at the diggings
A supper with an appetite.
The morning broke brilliantly, and the first thing we discovered on rising was, that two of the horses had broken their fastenings during the night, and strayed. As we could not afford to lose the animals, Jose and Horry were despatched lo look after them, and they grumbled not a little at being thus sent off from the scene of golden operations; but Bradley, producing a rifle, swore that he would shoot them both unless they obeyed orders; so, after a little altercation, away they went.