California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about California.
couple of ounces of gold.  For these reasons we determined to stand by the river.  Our first business was to see if we could manage to construct a couple of cradles.  At a large store here we met with some pine planks, but the figure was most exorbitant.  Taking a hint from what we had noticed among the Indians at the saw-mills, we determined to fell a couple of stout trees, and hollow them out so as to serve our purpose.  We obtained the assistance of a man here, a ship’s carpenter, and a most civil obliging sort of fellow, who gave us a day’s help for thirty dollars.  He superintended the felling of the trees, and then put us in the way of proceeding with the work.  We found the toil sufficiently severe, and began to feel the heat, as I thought, to a far greater extent than was the case in the lower part of the country.

July 8th.—­Yesterday we were employed, from early in the morning till beyond noon, in trimming and hollowing out our cradles.  While we were seated together outside the tent enjoying a few whiffs of our pipes and cigars, after a famous dinner of smoking-hot steaks and frijoles, we saw the camp below was all in commotion.  People were running out of their tents, and shouting to their neighbours, and gradually a little crowd was formed round a group of horsemen, who were just then brought to a halt.  That same feeling of curiosity which gets together a London crowd to see the lion on the top of Northumberland House wag his tail, caused us to make our way, with the rest of the gapers, down to Bennett’s shanty, against which all this bustle appeared to be going on.  As soon as Bradley and myself could force our way a little through the crowd, we recognised in a moment the features of Colonel Mason.  The Colonel, who wore an undress military uniform, had just dismounted from his horse, with the intention, it appeared, of walking through the diggings.  In a couple of minutes’ time my friend Lieutenant Sherman came up, and we were soon engaged in an animated conversation in reference to the gold district.  The fact was, the Governor was on a tour of inspection for the purpose of making a report to the Cabinet at Washington.  I took care to thank Lieutenant Sherman for his letter of introduction to Captain Sutter, and to explain to him the friendly manner in which Captain Sutter received me.  I then joined in the conversation being carried on with Colonel Mason, who was giving his opinion as to what the Government would do with respect to the gold placer.  The Colonel was very guarded in his statements.  He, however, hinted that he thought it would be politic for Congress to send over proper officers and workmen, and at once to establish a mint at some convenient point on the coast.  He fully admitted the difficulties of keeping men to their engagements under circumstances like the present; but said some steps must be taken to check the system of desertions on the part of the troops quartered at Monterey and San Francisco.  The pay of the soldiers, he considered, ought to be increased; but, without reference to this, he told the gentlemen round him that, as good citizens, they were bound to lend their utmost endeavours to secure in safe custody all known deserters—­men who had abandoned their flag and exposed the country to danger, that they might live in a state of drunkenness at the mines.

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California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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