If Jake Bradley had sought to commend himself to Ida Sinclair, he could not have found a better or more effectual way than by praising her lover. She became more cordial at once, and better satisfied with the arrangement she had formed to send off the ex-miner in Ben’s company in search of her lover.
The arrangements were speedily made. The two were to start out, equipped at Miss Sinclair’s expense, on an exploring-tour, the main object being to find Richard Dewey, and apprise him of her arrival in California. They were permitted, however, to work at mining, wherever there was a favorable opportunity, but never to lose sight of the great object of their expedition. From time to time, as they had opportunity, they were to communicate with Miss Sinclair, imparting any information they might have gathered.
“I shall have to leave much to your discretion,” said Ida, addressing them both. “I know absolutely nothing of the country, and you, Mr. Bradley, are tolerably familiar with it. I have only to add that should you become unfortunate, and require more money, you have only to let me know. In any event, I shall take care to recompense you for all your efforts in my behalf.”
“We don’t want to bear too heavy on your purse, miss,” said Jake Bradley. “Once we get to the mines, we kin take care of ourselves. Can’t we, Ben?”
“I hope so, Mr. Bradley.”
Bradley eyed Ben reproachfully, and our hero at once smilingly corrected himself. “I mean Jake.”
“That suits me better. I s’pose the young lady wouldn’t like to call me Jake?”
“I think not,” said Ida, smiling.
“I ain’t used to bein’ called mister. The boys always called me Jake.”
“But I am not one of the boys, Mr. Bradley,” said Miss Sinclair.
“Right you are, miss, and I reckon Richard Dewey would rather have you as you are.”
Ida laughed merrily. To her the miner was a new character, unlike any she had ever met, and though rough and unconventional, she was disposed to like him.
“Find him for me, and you can ask him the question if you like. Tell him from me-but you must first know me by my real name.”
Ben looked surprised. He had forgotten that Ida Sinclair was only assumed to elude the vigilance of her guardian.
“My real name is Florence Douglas. I am of Scotch descent, as you will judge. Can you remember the name?”
“I can, Cousin Ida-I mean Cousin Florence,” said Ben.
“Then let Ida Sinclair be forgotten. Richard—Mr. Dewey-would not know me by that name.”
“I tell you, Ben, that gal’s a trump!” said Jake Bradley enthusiastically, when they were by themselves; “and so I’ll tell Dick Dewey when I see him.”
“She’s been a kind friend to me, Jake. I hope we can find Mr. Dewey for her.”
“We’ll find him if he’s in California,” answered Jake.