“And it’s you. I thought it was only whiskey.”
York replied by taking both of his hands, boyishly working them backward and forward, as his elbow rested on the bed, with a pleasant smile.
“And you’ve been abroad. How did you like Paris?”
“So, so. How did you like Sacramento?”
And that was all they could think to say. Presently Scott opened his eyes again.
“I’m mighty weak.”
“You’ll get better soon.”
A long silence followed, in which they could hear the sounds of wood-chopping, and that Sandy Bar was already astir for the coming day. Then Scott slowly and with difficulty turned his face to York, and said,—
“I might hev killed you once.”
“I wish you had.”
They pressed each other’s hands again, but Scott’s grasp was evidently failing. He seemed to summon his energies for a special effort.
York bent his head toward the slowly fading face.
“Do ye mind that morning?”
A gleam of fun slid into the corner of Scott’s blue eye, as he whispered,—
“Old man, thar was too much saleratus in that bread.”
It is said that these were his last words. For when the sun, which had so often gone down upon the idle wrath of these foolish men, looked again upon them reunited, it saw the hand of Scott fall cold and irresponsive from the yearning clasp of his former partner, and it knew that the feud of Sandy Bar was at an end.
MR THOMPSON’S PRODIGAL
We all knew that Mr. Thompson was looking for his son, and a pretty bad one at that. That he was coming to California for this sole object was no secret to his fellow-passengers; and the physical peculiarities, as well as the moral weaknesses, of the missing prodigal were made equally plain to us through the frank volubility of the parent. “You was speaking of a young man which was hung at Red Dog for sluice-robbing,” said Mr. Thompson to a steerage passenger, one day; “be you aware of the color of his eyes?” “Black,” responded the passenger. “Ah,” said Mr. Thompson, referring to some mental memoranda, “Char-les’s eyes was blue.” He then walked away. Perhaps it was from this unsympathetic mode of inquiry, perhaps it was from that Western predilection to take a humorous view of any principle or sentiment persistently brought before them, that Mr. Thompson’s quest was the subject of some satire among the passengers. A gratuitous advertisement of the missing Charles, addressed to “Jailers and Guardians,” circulated privately among them; everybody remembered to have met Charles under distressing circumstances. Yet it is but due to my countrymen to state that when it was known that Thompson had embarked some wealth in this visionary project, but little of this satire found its way to his ears, and nothing was uttered in his hearing that might bring a pang to a father’s heart, or imperil a possible pecuniary advantage of the satirist. Indeed, Mr. Bracy Tibbets’s jocular proposition to form a joint-stock company to “prospect” for the missing youth received at one time quite serious entertainment.