“What shall we do, Jake?”
“That’s to be considered. Blamed if I know, unless we foot it, and that will be no joke, over these hills and through these forests.”
“We may come upon their track, and overtake them when they are not expecting it.”
“I wish we might,” said Bradley, the lines about his mouth tightening. “I’d give ’em a lesson.”
“They are two men,” said Ben thoughtfully, “and we are only a man and a boy.”
“That is so, Ben; but I’ll match you against Hadley. He don’t amount to a row of pins; and if I can’t tackle Bill Mosely, then I’ll never show myself in ’Frisco again.”
“I don’t mind so much the loss of the mustangs,” said Ben, “but I’m sorry that we shall be delayed in our search for Richard Dewey.”
“That’s bad, too. I expect that nice young lady in ’Frisco is a-waitin’ anxiously to hear from him. Plague take that rascal Mosely!” he broke out, in fresh exasperation.
“Well, Jake, suppose we get some breakfast, and then consider what we will do.”
“That’s a good thought, Ben. We can’t do much on an empty stomach, that’s a fact.”
For reasons which need not be specified, it was decided that the breakfast should consist of trout. Despite their loss, both had a good appetite, and when that was satisfied they became more hopeful.
Leaving Ben and his companion for a time, we go back to record an incident which will prove to have a bearing upon the fortunes of those in whom we are interested.
One morning two men, Taylor and O’Reilly, who had been out prospecting, came into camp, conveying between them, very much as two policemen conduct a prisoner, a terrifled-looking Chinaman, whose eyes, rolling helplessly from one to the other, seemed to indicate that he considered his position a very perilous one.
At that early period in the settlement of California, a few Chinamen had found their way to the Pacific coast; but the full tide of immigration did not set in till a considerable time later, and, therefore, the miners regarded one as a curiosity.
“Who have you got there, O’Reilly?” inquired one of his mining-comrades.
“A yeller haythen!” answered O’Eeilly. “Look at the craythur! Ain’t he a beauty jist wid his long pigtail hangin’ down his back like a monkey’s tail?”
“Where did you find him?”
“He was huntin’ for gold, the haythen, jist for all the world as if he was as white as you or I.”
Mr. Patrick O’Reilly appeared to hold the opinion that gold-hunting should be confined to the Caucasian race. He looked upon a Chinaman as rather a superior order of monkey, suitable for exhibition in a cage, but not to be regarded as possessing the ordinary rights of an adopted American resident. If he could have looked forward twenty-five years, and foreseen the extent to which these barbarians would throng the avenues of employment, he would, no doubt, have been equally amazed and disgusted. Indeed, the capture of Ki Sing was made through his influence, as Taylor, a man from Ohio, was disposed to let him alone.