“Of course I do. Didn’t we work together at Murphy’s, almost side by side?”
“Jake Bradley!” exclaimed Dewey, recognizing him at last.
“The same old coon! Now, Dewey, what’s the matter with you?”
“Nothing serious, but enough to lay me up for a time. A week since I slipped from a rock and sprained my ankle severely-so much so that I can’t use it safely. I’ve often heard that a sprain is worse than a break, but I never realized it till now.”
“Has the Chinaman taken care of you?” inquired Bradley.
“Yes; I don’t know what I should have done without Ki Sing,” said Dewey, with a grateful glance at the Chinaman.
“Was he with you when the accident hapened?”
“No; I lay helpless on the hillside for two hours, when, providentially, as I shall always consider it, my friend Ki Sing came along.”
The Chinaman usually impassive face seemed to light up with pleasure when Richard Dewey spoke of him as his friend.
“I tell you what, Ki Sing,” said Bradley, turning to the representative of China, “I never thought much of your people before, but I cheerfully admit that you’re a brick.”
“A blick!” repeated the Mongolian, appearing more puzzled than complimented.
“Yes, a brick-a real good fellow, and no mistake! Give us your hand! You’re a gentleman!”
Ki Sing readily yielded his hand to the grasp of the miner. He saw that Bradley meant to be friendly, though he did not altogether understand him.
“Had you ever met Ki Sing, Dick?” asked Bradley.
“Yes; on one occasion I had a chance to be of service to him, and he had not forgotten it. He has taken the best care of me, and supplied me with food, which I was unable to procure for myself. I think I should have starved but for him.”
“Ki Sing, I want to shake hands with you again,” said Bradley, who seemed a good deal impressed by conduct which his prejudices would not have allowed him to expect from a heathen.
Ki Sing winced beneath the strong pressure of the miner’s grasp, and examined his long, slender fingers with some anxiety when he rescued them from the cordial, but rather uncomfortable pressure.
“Melican man shakee too much!” he protested.
Bradley did not hear him, for he had again resumed conversation with Dewey.
“Is that your boy, Bradley?” asked the invalid, glaring at Ben, who modestly kept in the background.
“No, it’s a young friend of mine that I came across in ’Frisco. His name is Ben Stanton. I don’t believe you can guess what brought us up here among the mountains.”
“Probably you came, like me, in search of gold.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. Leastways, that wasn’t the principal object of our coming.”
“You’re not traveling for pleasure, I should think,” said Dewey, smiling.
“Not much. Since our hosses have been stole, there’s mighty little pleasure in clamberin’ round on these hills. The fact is, we’ve been lookin’ for you.”