During the day, there were numerous arrivals from Sutter’s Fort; and in my opinion, these diggings will soon be overcrowded. Two of the new-comers were known to Bradley—one, a Mr. Biggs, a shipping agent from San Francisco; the other, Mr. Lacosse, a French Canadian, who has recently settled in California. They accepted our offer for them to join our party. If this influx of people continues, I think the Yankee with the store will do better than any one; and keeping a shanty will be a far more profitable speculation than handling a shovel or working a cradle. What surprises me is, that in this remote spot, so distant from anything that can be called Law, so much tranquillity prevails under the circumstances. One hears of no deeds of violence, or even dishonesty. In fact, theft would hardly pay. The risk would be more than the advantage; for if any one was detected plundering, he would soon have a rifle-bullet put through him. One thing in favour of good order is, that here there is no unequal distribution of property—no favoured classes. Every man who has a spade or a trowel, and hands to use them, is upon an equality, and can make a fortune with a rapidity hitherto almost unknown in the history of the world.
Sunday, June 11th.—Nearly a week has elapsed since I last opened my diary. On Tuesday, we set to work upon our cradle. We resolved upon the construction of two; and, for this purpose, went down to the store in a body, to see about the boards. We found the timber extravagantly dear, being asked forty dollars a-hundred. After some bargaining, we obtained sufficient for our purpose, at the rate of thirty-five dollars.
The next question was, as to whether we should hire a carpenter. We were told there were one or two in the diggings who might be hired, though at a very extravagant rate. Accordingly, Bradley and I proceeded to see one of these gentlemen, and found him washing away with a hollow log and a willow-branch sieve. He offered to help us at the rate of thirty-five dollars a-day, we finding provisions and tools, and could not be brought to charge less. We thought this by far too extravagant, and left him, determined to undertake the work ourselves. Meantime, Horry had brought down two of our horses with him to the store. We loaded them immediately with boards, and returned to our tent.
After breakfast, which consisted of coffee without milk, flour cakes, and strips of dried beef, roasted on the embers, we set to work. We had a sufficient number of axes and a good stout saw, one large plane, and a few strong chisels, with plenty of nails. As may be expected, we proved to be very awkward carpenters. Mr. Lacosse was perhaps the handiest, and Malcolm not much inferior to him, until the latter unfortunately received a severe cut with a chisel, extending in a transverse line along the joint of the forefinger of the left hand. I strapped up the wound, but the rough work soon tore away the diaculum: no bad consequences, however, ensued. The wound, in spite of the hard treatment which it received, closed and healed by the first intention—proving the healthy habit of body engendered by temperance and constant exercise in the open air.