“I’ll not be wastin’ candles when I make a strike, savve!” the pocket-miner remarked savagely to the coffee, which he was settling with a chunk of ice. “Not on your life, I guess rather not!”
“Kerosene?” Corliss queried, running a piece of bacon-rind round the frying-pan and pouring in the batter.
“Kerosene, hell! You won’t see my trail for smoke when I get a gait on for God’s country, my wad in my poke and the sunshine in my eyes. Say! How’d a good juicy tenderloin strike you just now, green onions, fried potatoes, and fixin’s on the side? S’help me, that’s the first proposition I’ll hump myself up against. Then a general whoop-la! for a week—Seattle or ’Frisco, I don’t care a rap which, and then—”
“Out of money and after a job.”
“Not on your family tree!” Bishop roared. “Cache my sack before I go on the tear, sure pop, and then, afterwards, Southern California. Many’s the day I’ve had my eye on a peach of a fruit farm down there—forty thousand’ll buy it. No more workin’ for grub-stakes and the like. Figured it out long; ago,—hired men to work the ranch, a manager to run it, and me ownin’ the game and livin’ off the percentage. A stable with always a couple of bronchos handy; handy to slap the packs and saddles on and be off and away whenever the fever for chasin’ pockets came over me. Great pocket country down there, to the east and along the desert.”
“And no house on the ranch?”
“Cert! With sweet peas growin’ up the sides, and in back a patch for vegetables—string-beans and spinach and radishes, cucumbers and ’sparagrass, turnips, carrots, cabbage, and such. And a woman inside to draw me back when I get to runnin’ loco after the pockets. Say, you know all about minin’. Did you ever go snoozin’ round after pockets? No? Then just steer clear. They’re worse than whiskey, horses, or cards. Women, when they come afterwards, ain’t in it. Whenever you get a hankerin’ after pockets, go right off and get married. It’s the only thing’ll save you; and even then, mebbe, it won’t. I ought ‘a’ done it years ago. I might ‘a’ made something of myself if I had. Jerusalem! the jobs I’ve jumped and the good things chucked in my time, just because of pockets! Say, Corliss, you want to get married, you do, and right off. I’m tellin’ you straight. Take warnin’ from me and don’t stay single any longer than God’ll let you, sure!”
“Sure, I mean it. I’m older’n you, and know what I’m talkin’. Now there’s a bit of a thing down in Dawson I’d like to see you get your hands on. You was made for each other, both of you.”
Corliss was past the stage when he would have treated Bishop’s meddling as an impertinence. The trail, which turns men into the same blankets and makes them brothers, was the great leveller of distinctions, as he had come to learn. So he flopped a flapjack and held his tongue.