“I wish we could spend some of our money,” said Ben uneasily. “If there was only a baker’s, or an eating-house here, I’d be willing to pay five dollars for a good square meal.”
“So would I. Somehow, gold don’t look as good to me as it used to. We may starve to death with money in our pockets.”
Ben’s eyes were fixed upon a slender brook not far away that threaded its silvery way down a gentle incline from the midst of underbrush.
“I wonder if we can’t catch some trout,” he said. “Don’t they have trout in these mountains?”
“To be sure they do; and the best in the world,” said Bradley briskly.” The California mountain trout can’t be beat.”
“But we have no fishing-tackle,” suggested Ben.
“Never mind, we have our guns.”
“How will that help us?”
“We can shoot them, to be sure.”
Ben looked surprised.
“Didn’t you ever shoot pickerel? We can shoot trout in the same way. Come, Ben, follow me, and we’ll see if we can’t have a good supper, after all.”
Leaving their mustangs to gather a supper from the scanty herbage in their neighborhood, the two friends made their way to the brook. It had seemed very near, but proved to be fully a quarter of a mile away. When they reached it they brought their guns into requisition, and soon obtained an appetizing mess of trout, which only needed the service of fire to make a meal fit for an epicure.
“I can hardly wait to have them cooked,” sard Ben. “I’m as hungry as a hunter. I understand what that means now.”
“I sha’n’t have any trouble in keeping up with you, Ben,” said his companion. “We’ll have a supper fit for a king.”
They gathered some dry sticks, and soon a fire was blazing, which, in the cool night air, sent out a welcome heat.
After supper they lay down on their backs and looked up into the darkening sky. Ben felt that it was a strange situation. They were in the heart of the Sierras, miles, perhaps many miles, away from any human being, thousands of miles away from the quiet village where Ben had first seen the light. Yet he did not feel disturbed or alarmed. His wanderings had inspired self-reliance, and he did not allow himself to be troubled with anxious cares about the future. If by a wish he could have been conveyed back to his uncle’s house in the far East, he would have declined to avail himself of the privilege. He had started out to make a living for himself, and he was satisfied that if he persevered he would succeed in the end.
“What are you thinking about, Ben?” asked Bradley, after a long pause.
“I was thinking how strange it seems to be out here among the mountains,” answered Ben, still gazing on the scenery around him.
“I don’t see anything strange about it,” said his less imaginative comrade. “Seein’ we came here on our horses, it would be strange to be anywhere else.”