Several miners dropped tools and pans, and followed Jake to the landing, and gave a hearty welcome to Tom Chafflin.
He certainly looked like anything but a lucky man; he was good-looking, and seemed smart, but his face wore a dismal expression, which seemed decidedly out of place on the countenance of a habitually lucky man.
“Things hain’t gone right, Tom?” asked Cairo Jake.
“Never went worse,” declared Tom, gloomily. “Guess I’ll sell out, an’ try my luck somewheres else.”
“Ef you’d only come a little sooner!” sighed Jake, “you’d hev hed a chance that would hev made ev’rything seem to go right till Judgment Day. I’ll show yer.”
Jake opened the saloon-door, and there sat Sunrise, as bright, modest, and pleasant-looking as ever.
With the air of a man who has conferred a great benefit, and is calmly awaiting his rightful reward, Jake turned to Tom; but his expression speedily changed to one of hopeless wonder, and then to one of delight, as Tom Chafflin walked rapidly up to the cashier’s desk, pushed the Dominie one side and the little scales the other, and gave Sunrise several very hearty kisses, to which the lady didn’t make the slightest objection—in fact, she blushed deeply, and seemed very happy.
“That’s what I went to ’Frisco to look for,” explained Tom, to the staring bystander, “but I couldn’t find out a word about her.”
“Don’t wonder yer looked glum, then,” said Cairo Jake; “but—but it’s jest your luck!”
“Dominie here was going down to hurry you back,” said Sunrise; “but—”
“But we’ll give him a different job now, my dear,” said Tom, completing the sentence.
And they did.
Old Twitchett was in a very bad way. He must have been in a bad way, for Crockey, the extremely mean storekeeper at Bender, had given up his own bed to Twitchett, and when Crockey was moved with sympathy for any one, it was a sure sign that the object of his commiseration was going to soon stake a perpetual claim in a distant land, whose very streets, we are told, are of precious metal, and whose walls and gates are of rare and beautiful stones.
It was Twitchett’s own fault, the boys said, with much sorrowful profanity. When they abandoned Black Peter Gulch to the Chinese, and located at Bender, Twitchett should have come along with the crowd, instead of staying there by himself, in such an unsociable way. Perhaps he preferred the society of rattlesnakes and horned toads to that of high-toned, civilized beings—there was no accounting for tastes—but then he should have remembered that all the rattlesnakes in the valley couldn’t have raised a single dose of quinine between them, and that the most sociable horned toad in the world, and the most obliging one, couldn’t fry a sick man’s pork, or make his coffee.
But, then, Twitchett was queer, they agreed—he always was queer. He kept himself so much apart from the crowd, that until to-night, when the boys were excited about him, few had ever noticed that he was a white-haired, delicate young man, instead of a decrepit old one, and that the twitching of his lips was rather touching than comical.