Madame Midas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about Madame Midas.
that, being influenced in her decision by the old digger.  This man, by name Archibald McIntosh, was a shrewd, hard-headed Scotchman, who had been in Ballarat when the diggings were in the height of their fame, and who knew all about the lie of the country and where the richest leads had been in the old days.  He told Mrs Villiers that her father and himself had worked together on a lead then known as the Devil’s Lead, which was one of the richest ever discovered in the district.  It had been found by five men, who had agreed with one another to keep silent as to the richness of the lead, and were rapidly making their fortunes when the troubles of the Eureka stockade intervened, and, in the encounter between the miners and the military, three of the company working the lead were killed, and only two men were left who knew the whereabouts of the claim and the value of it.  These were McIntosh and Curtis, who were the original holders.  Mr Curtis, went down to Melbourne, and, as previously related, died of heart disease, so the only man left of the five who had worked the lead was Archibald McIntosh.  He had been too poor to work it himself, and, having failed to induce any speculator to go in with him to acquire the land, he had kept silent about it, only staying up at Ballarat and guarding the claim lest someone else should chance on it.  Fortunately the place where it was situated had not been renowned for gold in the early days, and it had passed into the hands of a man who used it as pasture land, quite ignorant of the wealth which lay beneath.  When Mrs Villiers came up to Ballarat, this man wanted to sell the land, as he was going to Europe; so, acting under the urgent advice of McIntosh, she sold out of all the investments which she had and purchased the whole tract of country where the old miner assured her solemnly the Devil’s Lead was to be found.

Then she built a house near the mine, and taking her old nurse, Selina Sprotts, and Archibald McIntosh to live with her, sank a shaft in the place indicated by the latter.  She also engaged miners, and gave McIntosh full control over the mine, while she herself kept the books, paid the accounts, and proved herself to be a first-class woman of business.  She had now been working the mine for two years, but as yet had not been fortunate enough to strike the lead.  The gutter, however, proved remunerative enough to keep the mine going, pay all the men, and support Mrs Villiers herself, so she was quite content to wait till fortune should smile on her, and the long-looked-for Devil’s Lead turned up.  People who had heard of her taking the land were astonished at first, and disposed to scoff, but they soon begun to admire the plucky way in which she fought down her ill-luck for the first year of her venture.  All at once matters changed; she made a lucky speculation in the share market, and the Pactolus claim began to pay.  Mrs Villiers became mixed up in mining matters, and bought and sold on ’Change with such foresight

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Madame Midas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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