Our trip has been delayed to-day, for the saddler cannot get our equipments in readiness for at least forty-eight hours. He says that directly he has finished the job he shall start off himself to the diggings. I have bribed him with promises of greatly increased pay not to disappoint us again. As it was, we were to pay him a very high price, which he demanded on account of three of his men having left him, and there being only himself and two workmen to attend to our order.
I told Mr. Bradley of our misfortune. He promised to wait for us, but recommended me to keep going in and out of the saddler’s all day long, in order to make sure that the man was at work, otherwise we might be kept hanging about for a fortnight.
May 20th.—It requires a full amount of patience to stay quietly watching the proceedings of an inattentive tradesman amid such a whirlpool of excitement as is now in action. Sweeting tells me that his negro waiter has demanded and receives ten dollars a-day. He is forced to submit, for “helps” of all kinds are in great demand, and very difficult to meet with. Several hundred people must have left here during the last few days. Malcolm and I have our baggage all in readiness to start on Monday.
May 22nd.—To-day all our arrangements have been changed; the saddler did not keep his promise, and while Malcolm, Bradley, and myself were venting our indignation against him, Don Luis Palo made his appearance. The gold fever had spread to Monterey, and he had determined to be off to the mines at once. He had brought his servant (a converted Indian, named Jose) with him, and extra horses with his baggage; he intended to set to work himself at the diggings, and meant to take everything he required with him. He says the report about Colonel Mason’s moving a force off to the mines to take possession of them is all nonsense; that some of the garrison of Monterey have already gone there, is quite true, but they have deserted to dig sold on their own account. Colonel Mason, he says, knows too well that he has no efficient force for such a purpose, and that, even if he had, he would not be able to keep his men together. It appears, also, that the mines occupy several miles of ground, the gold not being confined to one particular spot. On hearing this intelligence we at once determined to follow Don Luis’s example, and although there seemed a certain degree of absurdity in four people, all holding some position in society, going off on what might turn out to be only a fool’s errand, still the evidence we had before us, of the gold which had actually been found, and the example of the multitudes who were daily hastening to the diggings, determined us to go with the rest. We therefore held a council upon the best method of proceeding, at which every one offered his suggestions.