He had about exhausted his own funds by this time, and it was necessary that Orion should become the financier. The brothers owned their Esmeralda claims in partnership, and it was agreed that Orion, out of his modest depleted pay, should furnish the means, while the other would go actively into the field and develop their riches. Neither had the slightest doubt but that they would be millionaires presently, and both were willing to struggle and starve for the few intervening weeks.
It was February when the printer-pilot-miner arrived in Aurora, that rough, turbulent camp of the Esmeralda district lying about one hundred miles south of Carson City, on the edge of California, in the Sierra slopes. Everything was frozen and covered with snow; but there was no lack of excitement and prospecting and grabbing for “feet” in this ledge and that, buried deep under the ice and drift. The new arrival camped with Horatio Phillips (Raish), in a tiny cabin with a domestic roof (the ruin of it still stands), and they cooked and bunked together and combined their resources in a common fund. Bob Howland joined them presently, and later an experienced miner, Calvin H. Higbie (Cal), one day to be immortalized in the story of ‘Roughing It’ and in the dedication of that book. Around the cabin stove they would gather, and paw over their specimens, or test them with blow-pipe and “horn” spoon, after which they would plan tunnels and figure estimates of prospective wealth. Never mind if the food was poor and scanty, and the chill wind came in everywhere, and the roof leaked like a filter; they were living in a land where all the mountains were banked with nuggets, where all the rivers ran gold. Bob Howland declared later that they used to go out at night and gather up empty champagne-bottles and fruit-tins and pile them in the rear of their cabin to convey to others the appearance of affluence and high living. When they lacked for other employment and were likely to be discouraged, the ex-pilot would “ride the bunk” and smoke and, without money and without price, distribute riches more valuable than any they would ever dig out of those Esmeralda Hills. At other times he talked little or not at all, but sat in one corner and wrote, wholly oblivious of his surroundings. They thought he was writing letters, though letters were not many and only to Orion during this period. It was the old literary impulse stirring again, the desire to set things down for their own sake, the natural hunger for print. One or two of his earlier letters home had found their way into a Keokuk paper