In the afternoon the cabin was cleaned out and a part of the back porch demolished, ready for the new addition. It had been decided to build a room eight by twenty-eight feet, and in it lay one great balsam-bough mattress. Under Ham’s direction the aerial bunk was begun, and it very soon showed signs of being built by a master builder. It was what might be termed “rustic,” as Ham said. Logs from the woodpile were substituted for the rotting ones in the floor of the bridge. A great pile of brush, twigs, and trash were set afire and destroyed. So the day slipped away—all too quickly. Four o’clock found a group of royal good fellows again on the trail—that trail that was soon to become so dear to every one of them. Their muscles were tired with unselfish work, and their minds and hearts were full of the joy of living. There was already something of the great social bond that was later to tie their lives together for all time with a cord of pleasant memories.
Ham had fastened his blanket to a nail away up in the topmost rafter of the cabin, and here he left it for another time.
“Where your blanket is, there will your heart be also, sometimes,” he quoted as they took the trail that led down out of the wilderness.
The Discovery of the Mine
Two weeks later another crowd was organized to do a day’s work on the cabin, and it seemed every boy in the Department wanted to go. “Unless you feel as husky as a steam elevator, you better stay home,” was Ham’s advice to one small boy, for Ham had been chairman of the committee that had been so busy since the last trip, purchasing all manner of supplies, equipment, and building material for the cabin, all of which would have to be packed over from Fairview on donkeys, and there was nearly a carload of it. Ham was under the impression that the donkeys would fall dead when they saw the “pile of junk,” and that every single fellow in the crowd would have to “wiggle his ears, bray once or twice, and get busy,” if the cabin ever became the possessor of the new equipment.
Twenty fellows besides the “Chief” and Mr. Dean were on hand at the appointed time. At the mouth of the canyon two very faithful old donkeys, that had years before belonged to a prospector, were rented for the trip. Under their former master they had been trained to carry heavy loads of ore from the little mine far back in the mountains out to the city, and to return again heavily laden with the provisions for another winter in camp. They had learned their lessons well, so were perfectly trustworthy.