“Looking for me!” exclaimed Dewey, in great surprise.
“Yes, and no mistake. Isn’t it so, Ben?”
Ben nodded assent.
“But what possible motive can you have in looking for me?”
“I say, Dewey,” proceeded Bradley, “did you ever hear of a young lady by the name of Florence Douglas?”
The effect of the name was electric. Dewey sprang up in bed, and inquired eagerly.
“Yes, yes, but what of her? Can you tell me anything of her?”
“I can tell you as much as this: she is in ’Frisco, and has sent out Ben and me to hunt you up, and let you know where she is.”
“Is this true? How came she here? Is her guardian with her?” asked Dewey rapidly.
“One question at a time, Dick. The fact is, she’s given her guardian the slip, and came out to Californy in charge of my young friend, Ben. I hope you won’t be jealous of him.”
“If she trusts him, I will also,” said Dewey. “Tell me the whole story, my lad. If you have been her friend, you may depend on my gratitude.”
Ben told the story clearly and intelligibly, replying also to such questions as Richard Dewey was impelled to ask him, and his straightforwardness produced a very favorable impression on his new acquaintance.
“I begin to see, that, young as you are, Florence didn’t make a bad selection when she chose you as her escort.”
“Now, Dewey,” said Bradley, “I’ve got some advice to give you. Get well as soon as you can, and go to ’Frisco yourself. I surmise Miss Douglas won’t need Ben any longer when you are with her.”
“You forget this confounded sprain,” said Dewey, looking ruefully at his ankle. “If I go you’ll have to carry me.”
“Then get well as soon as you can. We’ll stay with you till you’re ready. If there was only a claim round here that Ben and I could work while we are waitin’, it would make the time pass pleasanter.”
“There is,” said Dewey. “A month since I made a very valuable discovery, and had got out nearly a thousand dollars’ worth of gold, when I was taken down. You two are welcome to work it, for as soon as I am in condition, I shall go back to San Francisco.”
“We’ll give you a share of what we find, Dick.”
“No, you won’t. The news you have brought me is worth the claim many times over. I shall give Ki Sing half of what I have in the cabin here as a recompense for his faithful service.”
Ki Sing looked well content, as he heard this promise, and his smile became even more “childlike and bland” than usual, as he bustled about to prepare the evening meal.
“I’ll tell you what, Ben,” said Bradley, “we’ll pay Ki Sing something besides, and he shall be our cook and steward, and see that we have three square meals a day.”
“I agree to that,” said Ben.
When Ki Sing was made to comprehend the proposal, he, too, agreed, and the little household was organized. The next day Ben and Bradley went to work at Dewey’s claim, which they found unexpectedly rich, while the Chinaman undertook the duties assigned him. Four weeks elapsed before Richard Dewey was in a condition to leave the cabin for San Francisco. Then he and Ben returned, Ki Sing accompanying them as a servant, while Bradley remained behind to guard Dewey’s claim and work it during Ben’s absence.