The doctor felt the captain’s wrist, and said:
“Fact, gentlemen, he’s panned his last dirt.”
“Do the honors, boys,” said the barkeeper, placing glasses along the bar.
Each man filled his glass, and all looked at Whitey.
“Boys,” said Whitey, solemnly, “ef the cap’en hed struck a nugget, good luck might hev spiled him; ef he’d been chief of Black Hat, or any other place, he might hev got shot. But he’s made his mark, so nobody begrudges him, an’ nobody can rub it out. So here’s to ’the cap’en’s mark, a dead sure thing.’ Bottoms up.”
The glasses were emptied in silence, and turned bottoms uppermost on the bar.
The boys were slowly dispersing, when one, who was strongly suspected of having been a Church member remarked:
“He was took of a sudden, so he shouldn’t be stuck up.”
Whitey turned to him, and replied, with some asperity:
“Young man, you’ll be lucky ef you’re ever stuck up as high as the captain.”
And all the boys understood what Whitey meant.
Two o’clock A.M. is supposed to be a popular sleeping hour the world over, and as Flatfoot Bar was a portion of the terrestrial sphere, it was but natural to expect its denizens to be in bed at that hour.
Yet, on a certain morning twenty years ago, when there was neither sickness nor a fashionable entertainment to excuse irregular hours in camp, a bright light streamed from the only window of Chagres Charley’s residence at Flatfoot Bar, and inside of the walls of Chagres Charley’s domicile were half a dozen miners engaged in earnest conversation.
Flatfoot Bar had never formally elected a town committee, for the half-dozen men aforesaid had long ago modestly assumed the duties and responsibilities of city fathers, and so judicious had been their conduct, that no one had ever expressed a desire for a change in the government.
The six men, in half a dozen different positions, surrounded Chagres Charley’s fire, and gazed into it as intently as if they were fire-worshipers awaiting the utterances of a salamanderish oracle.
But the doughty Puritans of Cromwell’s time, while they trusted in God, carefully protected their powder from moisture, and the devout Mohammedan, to this day, ties up his camel at night before committing it to the keeping of the higher powers; so it was but natural that the anxious ones at Flatfoot Bar vigorously ventilated their own ideas while they longed for light and knowledge.
“They ain’t ornaments to camp, no way you can fix it, them Greasers ain’t,” said a tall miner, bestowing an effective kick upon a stick of firewood, which had departed a short distance from his neighbors.
“Mississip’s right, fellers,” said the host. “They ain’t got the slightest idee of the duties of citizens. They show themselves down to the saloon, to be sure, an’ I never seed one of ’em a-waterin.’ his liquor; but when you’ve sed that, you’ve sed ev’rythin’.”