Here to return to
STAKING OUT A FORTUNE
THE red sun sank behind the northern cliffs, hid there three hours, and slanted eastward and upward again, and still the boys toiled on, oblivious. Panful after panful of the sand they scraped from the clay bottom, now in the’ edge of the stream, now back toward the tundra, and always they found gold. At length their rude paddle-shovel was worn to a frazzled stick and they themselves were in not much better condition, but in Harry’s worn bandana handkerchief was a store of coarse and fine gold and nuggets that was quite heavy.
Fatigue will finally, however, get the better even of the gold fever, and along in mid-morning, pale and hollow-eyed, quite exhausted with toil and excitement, but triumphant, they stumbled down to camp and turned in, too tired to eat, — indeed, there was little but damaged flour that they could eat. They slept ten hours without stirring, and the sun was low in the northwest when they awoke.
Joe rubbed his eyes open and sat up. He found Harry, the bandana in his lap, poring over the store of gold.
“Gold,” said Harry, “is worth about sixteen dollars to the ounce, as the miners reckon it. I should say we had about three ounces here. Forty-eight dollars, — not bad for a first day’s work!”
“Um-m, no,” said Joe; “but I wish you’d take part of it and go down to the store and buy some provisions. I’m hungry.”
Harry looked at him. Was Joe daft? But no, Joe was the saner of the two.
“We’ve got gold,” Joe continued, “and we’ve got grit, — at least some of mine’s left, though not much, but what we haven’t got is grub. Seems to me the next thing to look out for is something to eat. The gold will wait a day for us, but there is something inside me that says the other won’t. We’d better go prospecting for food this time.”
Harry put his hand on his stomach. “Joe,” he said, “I declare you are right. You generally are. Fact is, I was so crazy over this yellow stuff in the handkerchief that I had forgotten everything else. We’ll hunt to-day.”
They made a sorry breakfast of some heavy cakes made from the last of the spoiled flour, then took their rifles and went down toward the sea. The cakes were heavy within them, but their hearts were light. They ranged through a little gully seaward and to the east, seeking for ptarmigans but finding none. They might have hunted for the other two up at Ptarmigan Bend, but each felt that it would not do. The moment they sighted the diggings it was probable that they would fall to mining again, and they knew this and kept away. Through the gully they reached the shore, a narrow strip of pebbly beach at the foot of rough cliffs, and here in long rows, sitting on their eggs on the narrow ledges, they found scores of puffins. They are stupid little fellows, sitting bolt upright on greenish, blotched eggs that are not unlike those of the crow, but larger. The flesh of the puffin is not bad eating when one is hungry, and the boys found these so tame that they hardly flew at a rifle-shot. In half an hour they had a dozen, and tramped back to camp, well satisfied that they need not starve. By the time two birds were cooked and eaten the sun was behind the cliffs, and the gray of the Arctic midnight was over all. They sprang to their feet refreshed and about to plan to resume digging, when Joe held up his hand with a look of consternation on his face. A long unheard but familiar sound came to the ears of both boys, and Harry’s face reflected the dismay that was in Joe’s.
The sound was the rhythmic click of oars in rowlocks, and it came up the placid waters of the inlet from the sea.
A few days before, how gladly they would have heard that sound. Oars in rowlocks meant white men. Eskimos and Indians paddle. Each stepped to his rifle and saw that it was loaded, and then they stood ready to defend their claim against all comers. So quickly does a white man distrust another when there is gold at stake.
A moment, and a boat came round the bend, a rude boat, built of rough boards and well loaded, but with only one occupant. This seemed to be an oldish man, a white man, roughly dressed. He rowed steadily but wearily, without looking up. By and by the bow of the boat struck the beach not far away, and the man turned his head over his shoulder toward the bow and seemed to speak to the air. Then he nodded his head, stepped out, drew his boat up a little, and carne toward them.
“Morning, gents!” he said. “How you finding it?”
The boys put down their rifles and greeted him cordially. They had nothing to fear from this little unarmed man who limped as lie walked. After all it was good to see a white man, and his coming presaged much for their safe return to civilization.
“You’re not miners,” he said, after looking them over keenly.
“No,” replied Joe, “not exactly. We’re whalemen. We were wrecked up on the Arctic coast about two years ago, and we’re working our way back to civilization.”
“Want to know!” exclaimed the other. “Well, you’re most to it now. Civilization is working right this way pretty fast, that is, if you’ve a mind to call it that.”
“What do you mean by that?” asked Joe in wonder.
“Mean?” replied the little man. “I mean that there’s sixty thousand people up in this country at this minute, only none of ‘em have got quite up to here except me. They’re piling into Nome as fast as the steamers can bring them, and they’re spreading over the country as fast as horse and foot will take them. It’s the biggest rush the Alaska diggings ever saw.”
“Nome!” queried Joe. “Where’s that?”
The little man looked at him a moment. “Oh, I forgot,” he said. “You’ve been away two or three years, and it all happened since then. Nome is about two hundred miles south of this by sea. I’ve just rowed in from there. They found beach diggings there a year ago that were mighty rich, and the whole earth piled up there this spring. You can’t get a foot of ground anywhere down there for fifty miles. It’s all staked. I came in there late last fall and couldn’t get anything then. Got a notion in my head that there was good ground north here and started across tundra in the winter. Froze my feet and had to crawl back on my hands and knees. Started out again this spring with this boat. Paid a hundred dollars for it. Rowed alongshore as far as Cape Prince of Wales. Father-in-law got aboard the boat there, and he’s been sitting in the bow ever since telling me where to row. He directed me here. Father-in-law has been dead these ten years.”
Joe and Harry looked at each other, and the little man noted it and smiled sadly.
“I know,” he said, “it sounds queer. Well, it is queer. Course ‘t ain’t so, but it seems so. Ain’t nobody there, it’s jest my notion. A man gets queer up in this country if he’s too much alone. I reckon it’s a sign, though, and I’m going to find something good. Now, I’m hungry. Will you eat with me? My name’s Blenship, what’s yourn?”
The boys helped Blenship get his outfit ashore, assured that they had found a friend. He had a pick, two shovels, two regular gold pans, a queer machine something like a baby’s wooden cradle which he called a rocker, and a good quantity of civilized provisions and utensils, besides a camp outfit. The boat was heavily loaded, and it was a wonder to them how he had made the long trip in it in safety. This he could not tell much about. He had simply “followed directions.” He had “sour dough “bread of his own cooking, and it did not take him long to broil some ham in a little spider. Then he invited the boys to fall to with him, and they were not shy about doing it. What if they had just eaten puffin? Real bread and ham! It made them ravenous.
After the meal they told Blenship of their discovery. His eyes glistened at sight of the nuggets, but he did not seem much surprised.
Just as I expected,” he said. “I’ve come at the right time for you, though. You want to stake that ground right away, and then I’ll stake what’s left. We can’t be too quick about it, either. You may see forty men coming over the hill at any minute. If you got all this with a wooden stick and a bread pan, there’s stuff enough there for all of us. Wait a minute, though, let’s see what father-in-law says.”
He stepped down to his boat for a moment, then came back.
“Father-in-law is gone,” he said. “Couldn’t raise him anywhere. Guess this is the place he meant for me to come to. No need of his staying round, long as the job’s done. Now let’s stake that ground, then we’ll be safe. You are entitled to five claims. One of you is the discoverer. He can stake discovery claim and number one above and number one below; then the other can have one above him and one below him. That’s all you are good for. Then I come in with one above and one below, and I’ve got powers of attorney enough in my pocket to stake all the rest of the creek. Got about forty men to give me powers of attorney when I left on this trip. They get half of each claim I stake for them. I get the other half, which ain’t so bad in this case. Come on.”
They worked steadily for several days, cutting and shaping stakes from driftwood, measuring distances carefully with Blenship’s fifty-foot tape, posting location notices, and now and then stopping to prospect a locality. Blenship always went down to “bed rock “for his prospects. He handled a pan with the marvelous skill of an old timer, and his eyes always glistened at the result.
“Boys,” he declared one day enthusiastically, “this is the richest creek the world ever saw, I believe. I want you to elect me recorder of this district. We’ll call it the Arctic District, and I have a notion that I’d like to call this ‘Candle Creek,’ ‘cause its prospects are so bright. Then I’ll record the claims duly, and we’ll be all registered and can hold everything according to law. What do you say?”
The boys were only too glad to thus find a mentor and friend, and cheerfully agreed to everything. An Alaska mining claim, according to United States law, consists of twenty acres, generally laid out in a parallelogram, 330 feet each side of the creek, making a width of 660 in all. Their five claims meant a hundred acres, and, if even moderately rich, were a fortune. In the end they had the entire creek staked from source to mouth, the number of powers of attorney which Blenship produced being prodigious.
In spite of the hard work, perhaps because they were living well on civilized food, they never seemed to tire, and were as frisky as young colts. Ten days had passed, and never a sign of the invasion of prospectors which Blenship had so confidently predicted. Since the father-in-law episode the little man had given no signs of his “queerness,” unless this story of thousands to the south were one. On the other hand, he seemed very sane and shrewd, and kindly in all ways. He shared his provisions in return for help in staking his numerous claims, and the boys could see that his advice was friendly and worth following. The day the last stake was driven he insisted that they celebrate, and got up a bountiful meal with his own hand, making a bread pudding with real raisins from his stores, which filled the boys with unalloyed delight.
“There!” he said, as he lighted his pipe after the meal was finished, a now we’re fixed. If old Tom Lane comes up here and wants the earth, he can have it, but he’ll have to pay good for it. You and I could work those claims and take out a few hundred dollars’ worth of gold a day until the ground freezes up, and then we wouldn’t more ‘n pay our expenses up here and back and the cost of living. That isn’t the way money is made in the mining business. You just stake the claims and hold on to them until the man comes along who has the millions to work ‘em in a big way. There’s several of those men up in Nome already, but the king of them all is old Tom Lane. He’s got his men out spying round all over the country, and it won’t be long before one of them drops on to this place. Then we’ll drive a bargain that’ll make the old man’s eyes stick out. Meantime I’ll just show you boys how to build and work a rocker, and we’ll get out a few hundred a day and wait developments.”
Blenship showed them how to handle the rocker that very day, and left them at Ptarmigan Bend gleefully running sand through it while he prospected his various claims more thoroughly.
A miner’s rocker is ingenious in its simplicity. It is generally a wooden box, having a rough sieve-like hopper at the top, and an inclined plane of canvas within. You shovel the sand into the hopper, then pour in water and rock gently. The water washes the sand down along the inclined plane, where riffles catch the heavy gold, while the sand washes over and out at the bottom. It is a simple matter to work this, though, like the gold pan, its perfect manipulation requires much skill and judgment. At the end of an hour the boys made their first clean-up, and were delighted at the amount of gold that lay yellow in the riffles. They worked thus with great glee till Blenship returned, long past the supper hour. He inspected the results, and even he was roused to enthusiasm at the quantity of gold that they had.
PROSPECTOR AND HIS OUTFIT
“I declare,” said he, “it’s about ten ounces, and most all small nuggets. Probably as much more fine gold went right through. You’ve been rocking too hard. A rocker is like a woman; you ‘ ve got to humor her or she won’t work well. Let me try the tailings.”
He panned the heap of sand that had gone through the rocker, and showed them the fine gold still left in it.
“You only got about half on’t,” he said.
“Geewhillikins! but that little pond is a pocket for you. There’s a young million right in a few rods, or I miss my guess. I’ve got some rich spots upstream myself, but they ain’t in it with this one. I’d like to try some sluicing on that. It would be dead easy. You could dam the creek at that little gap up above and get at all this clay bottom, and have plenty of water for the sluice. How would it do for me to go into partnership with you boys for a time, and we try this thing? Reckon we could fix up some kind of a trade, couldn’t we?”
“What do you think?” said Joe to Harry.
“I think,” answered Harry, “that Mr. Blenship is more than kind to us. I for one will heartily accede to any agreement that he wants to make.”
“And so will I,” Joe assented warmly.
“Listen to that, now,” said Blenship in mock despair. “Here I was planning to drive a hard bargain with them, and they put me on my honor. Anything I want to do! Humph! Well, this is what I propose. Suppose we get to work and sluice here at Partridge Bend. You give me a hundred dollars a day every day of actual sluicing, as general manager; you take the rest. If you ain’t suited at the end of the first three days, we’ll call the bargain off.”
“Agreed!” said Harry. “Agreed!” said Joe, and they set to work.
They blocked the stream with stones, and stuffed tundra moss into the crevices, then piled turf over the whole. With the pick they hewed a gully in the mica-schist ledge that dammed the little pond and let the water out. Then they knocked Blenship’s boat to pieces and made a rude sluice with the boards. This they braced upon driftwood logs set on the right slant for sluicing. Blenship, skillful as a woodsman with his axe, hewed more sluice timber out of driftwood logs, and finally the structure was complete. There were still no signs of other prospectors, and the boys began to think Blenship’s story of the thousands in the country just south of them must be another delusion of his.
Finally, everything was complete. Blenship showed them how to shovel into the sluice so that enough but not too much dirt should be present in it, and then turned on the water. For two hours the boys swung the shovels lustily, and found it very fatiguing work indeed. Blenship managed the flow of the water so that it should work to the best advantage during this time. Then when the boys were thoroughly weary he shut it off and called a halt. Joe and Harry rested on their shovels, puffing.
“Time to clean up,” he said. “Now we’lI see whether I’m worth a hundred dollars a day or not.”
With water in his gold pan he washed the remaining sand from riffle to riffle, and finally collected the gold in a yellow heap in the pan at the bottom of the sluice. It was quite a little heap, and Blenship weighed it, pan and all, in his hand, thoughtfully.
“Reckon there’s about three pounds of it,” he said coolly. “Say seven hundred dollars.”
Joe and Harry looked over his shoulder with bulging eyes. Seven hundred dollars! Two hours’ sluicing! Neither before had realized the full import of their good fortune. If they could do that in two hours, — in a day, a week, a month! Their heads whirled. And then all three started.
A shadow had fallen across the pan.
Blenship whirled sullenly and savagely, reaching toward his hip with an instinctive movement, though no weapon hung there. Then he laughed.
“Oh, it’s you, Griscome, is it? Be’n expecting some of you fellows this ten days. Come to camp and have a bite with us?”
“No, thanks,” said the other, a tall man in a blue shirt, stout boots, and a slouch hat, “my outfit’s back here. Pretty good clean-up for a little work.”
“That’s so,” replied Blenship. “And that ain’t all. The whole creek’s like that from top to bottom, and it’s staked from bottom to top, and recorded. I’m the recorder. We’d ‘a’ staked the benches, only the powers of attorney give out. Better stake ‘em, they’re likely good.”
“Much obliged,” said the other. “Guess I will. So long.”
He went out of sight over the hill in long, swift strides.
“What are the benches?” asked Joe. “Will he stake them? Who is he?
“One at a time, young feller,” said Blenship. “He is one of Pap Lane’s men. The benches are the hillside claims. He may stake ‘em, but I doubt it. He won’t wait. He’ll light out across tundra as fast as his horse can carry him, and tell his boss about this. Meanwhile we can wait, and we might as well get what’s coming to us. If one of you boys will try and handle that water, I’ll show you how to shovel.”
Joe thought himself a good deal of a man, but he could not keep up with the other in shoveling. He hung sturdily to his task, however, and for three hours more shoveled wet sand and clayey gravel into the sluice while Harry regulated the water according to occasional directions from Blenship. The latter instructed Joe in the best methods of scraping bed rock, and showed him how the best of the gold was liable to lie in the little hollows of the clay, and be missed by an inexperienced hand. At the end of three hours Blenship ordered a cessation of work once more, much to Joe’s relief, for five hours of labor with the shovel had thoroughly exhausted him. He lay back on the tundra while Harry and Blenship cleaned up. The result showed Blenship’s superior skill in mining, and the longer run. It was nearly double the other.
“Guess we’ll call it a day’s work,” said he. “Pretty near two thousand dollars. Have I earned my hundred?”
The boys thought he had indeed, and pressed him to take more for his share, but he resolutely refused. In the tent he took from his outfit a pair of miner’s scales and weighed out his wages carefully, putting them in a little chamois bag in his bosom. The balance he turned over to the boys, and they stowed it in the bandana with what they already had.
“You see,” said Blenship, “the better showing your little pocket makes in the next ten days, the better price the whole creek will bring when Pap Lane or the Alaska Commercial Company or some of those fellows come up here to buy it.”
“But why should we sell?” asked Joe.
“Young feller,” said Blenship, “don’t you make no mistake. If you can sell out your share of this creek at a good price, you do it. You’ve got a little spot that’s mighty rich. The rest of your claim may not pay for the labor of working it. Two months from now it will be frozen up, and will stay so for nine months more. A man with a million behind him can take this creek and work it to advantage. You and I might peck at it for ten years and then not get a living out of it. If you get a good chance, sell.”
As if in proof of what Blenship said, the next day it rained, the swelling waters carried out their rude dam, and it was three days more before they got it repaired and began sluicing again. Yet when they did, they took out three thousand in a single day. The next day it was only a thousand, because they had used up part of their ground and had to move their sluices, which took time. But on the third they found a hollow in the clay bottom that was a veritable treasure house, and yielded up over five thousand dollars in fine gold and nuggets.
That morning three men came over the hills with packs on their backs. They camped near by and examined the notices with much disgust. It did not please them that the whole creek was staked.
Blenship greeted them jovially, showed them his records in proof of the validity of the claims, and advised them to stake the benches, which they did. They prospected these and found a certain amount of gold there. Others came, on foot and with packhorses, — evidently the story had spread. The place began to assume quite a mining-camp air. Meanwhile Blenship and his lieutenants worked on industriously. They were questioned much, but not otherwise disturbed. The newcomers were as yet too busy prospecting and staking ground for themselves.
One day Harry dropped his shovel with a start. The long roar of a steam whistle sounded from the sea. A steamer! How it brought back memories of the Bowhead, now scattered in ruin along the Arctic shore, and through her the home thought again. Suppose Captain Nickerson should be aboard.
Perhaps he was bound north once more in search of them. The bustle of the new camp and the glamour of the greed of gold slipped from him like a garment, and his soul soared from it, free, back to the home fireside and his father and mother. The voice of Blenship recalled him.
“Come on, boy,” he said kindly; “let’s keep her a-going. I reckon that’s old Pap Lane come up in his steamer to see about this new strike. We want to have a good cleanup just going on when he strikes camp.”
An hour later Blenship stood by his tent door talking with a square-shouldered, resolute-looking man of perhaps sixty. His hair was gray, but there was no stoop in his figure and he seemed in the prime of forceful life.
“Pshaw! Blenship,” he was saying, “you have no business to stake all this creek. Even discovery would only entitle you to three claims, and you must have twenty. You’ll have to pull up and let my boys go in.”
“Nearer forty claims than twenty,” Blenship declared coolly, “and every one of them staked on a good power of attorney from good hard-headed men in Nome. If you try to cut them out, they’ll fight you, every one of them, and you know what that means in the Alaska courts. No, sir, those claims are legally staked, on the square, and I propose to hold ‘em.”
“But you can’t stake except on an actual discovery of gold,” continued the big man. “Do you mean to say you have found prospects on every one of them?”
“Colonel,” said Blenship, “you come with me and see.”
The two were gone two hours and came back, still arguing the matter.
“All the same,” said the big man, “it’s only prospects, and the ground is more than likely to be spotted. What I want to see is actual outcome of gold from it before I consider any such preposterous price for a controlling interest in it.”
“You do, do you, colonel?” queried Blenship calmly. “Well, just step this way.”
Blenship stepped down toward the sluice where Harry and Joe stood, as had been quietly planned by the wily little man.
“Colonel,” said he, “these are Mr. Nickerson and Mr. Desmond, discoverers of Candle Creek diggings, the richest in the known world. Boys, this is Colonel Lane, of California, now of Nome. He’s also about the richest in the known world, but, like Julius Caesar or whoever it was, he’s looking for more mining-fields to conquer. Gentlemen, show Mr. Lane what’s in the riffles.”
The boys stepped aside and Colonel Lane stepped up to the sluice boxes. He looked from riffle to riffle without a word. It was the result of a full half day’s shoveling, and fate had been kind to them.
The big man looked long in silence, then he whistled. But in a second he chuckled.
Blenship,” he said, “I wouldn’t have thought it of you. You salted the sluice boxes. You’ve put in all the gold you had in camp when you heard me coming.”
“Oh-h-h!” exclaimed Blenship, with scorn, “all the gold we have in camp! You must think we are pretty slow miners. Boys, come down to the tent and open the poke for him.”
With trembling hands Harry drew out the bag of dust and nuggets from its hiding-place and opened it. The colonel looked long into this bag, lifted it, and then whistled softly for the second time.
“Why, confound it!” said he. “There’s a good twelve thousand dollars there. Do you mean to say you got it out of that little mud-hole you are working out there?”
“All on ‘t, colonel, all on ‘t. That’s the richest bank — mud-bank — I’ve seen yet, and I’ve been in placer mining all my life. Now, colonel, come out here and talk with me. There’s no man in this world can handle this creek the way you can. It’s the biggest thing the country ever saw. Come out back while I argue with you.”
The two walked back on the tundra together, and Harry tied up the poke and put it in its hiding-place again. Joe, weary with his morning’s work, sat down in the tent, but Harry wandered outside. His thoughts were still of home and the people there. He had heard the steamer whistle again, why he did not know. Home was not so very far away now, he felt that, but the thought made him only the more homesick. He noted some men coming up the creek, seemingly strangers, but strangers were plentiful there now. Probably these were more people from the ship coming up to join those who were with Colonel Lane. There was a big man a little ahead of the group, and Harry did not notice that as he approached he looked earnestly at him and almost broke into a run. The great man rushed up to him, took him by the shoulders, and turned him round, looking him square in the face, then let out a roar that echoed from the surrounding hills.
SLUICING AT CANDLE CREEK
“It’s him!” he bellowed. “It’s him! Great jumping Jehoshaphat, it’s him! I knew he’d turn up. You couldn’t lose him. Didn’t I see him go overboard in the straits in a livin’ gale of wind and come back bringing a Yukon goose with him? It’s the seven-time winner, cap. But where’s Joe?”
Joe answered for himself, rushing out of the tent and flying by the great boatswain of the Bowhead, — for who else would it be? — into his father’s arms. A moment later Harry was gripping Captain Nickerson’s hand with one of his, the big boatswain’s with the other, and laughing and crying and talking all at once, while Mr. Jones, the taciturn first mate stood by, erect and solemn, and seeming to look as if all this waste of words was a very wrong thing. When the two boys were released from the hands of Captain Nickerson and the boatswain, the first mate extended his, and though his face twitched with emotion all he said was, “How d’ do. Glad.” Evidently Mr. Jones’s characteristics had lost nothing in two years.
Captain Nickerson was grayer, and there were lines of care about his eyes that had not been there before. But these seemed to slip away as the boys told their story and he realized that he had them both back again, sound and hearty. Mr. Adams had fitted out another ship for him the following spring and he had made a trip north, but the ice had been very bad and he got no certain news of the boys, yet somehow neither he nor the folks at home had been willing to give them up for lost. Therefore he had come up again this summer, whaling, but determined to lose no chance to get news of them. By chance lie had found at Point Hope the native from whom they had bought the umiak. He had told him how two white men who might be the missing ones had been at the Hotham Inlet trading fair and gone south across the bay. He had followed on the slender clue, had sighted Lane’s steamer, and landed. And so they talked on, oblivious of all except that they were reunited again after so long a time. Harry and Joe forgot their gold, and the captain, full of news from home for them, asked nothing about their present condition.
Meanwhile Blenship and the colonel, arguing earnestly back on the tundra, had noticed the commotion.
“Who are those people?” asked the big man.
Blenship did not know, but he was not going to let a little matter of ignorance spoil a good bargain. “Those,” said he, “must be the wealthy friends of my partners from the States. They’ve been expecting some people up on their own steamer, exploring. I reckon they’ll be glad to see how well the boys have done.”
“Look here, Blenship,” said the colonel hastily, “I reckon I’ll have to take your figures on this trade. You are empowered to act for your partners, aren’t you?”
“Certainly, colonel, certainly,” replied Blenship, with a twinkle in his eye.
“Well, it’s a bargain, then,” declared the colonel. “Shake hands on it.”
The two shook hands solemnly and hastened back to the tent. Mutual introductions followed, then Blenship spoke. “I’ve sold the creek, boys,” lie said, “and the colonel has driven a hard bargain with me, but I reckon we’ll all have to stand by it. In the first place he gets my rights in all the claims I’ve staked, and that’s most of the creek, for fifty thousand dollars. Ain’t that right, colonel?” The big man nodded. “Next he buys a controlling interest in discovery claim and the two above and below, belonging to you two boys, fifty-one per cent. of the five claims, for just a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, cash and notes, you to retain forty-nine per cent. interest in them all and to receive that proportion of the net earnings, the proper share of expenses being taken out. Reckon he’ll stick you bad on them expenses.”
“Look here,” said Captain Nickerson. “What’s all this?”
“Oh,” said Blenship, “I thought you knew.” The colonel was shaking his fist at Blenship, but he pretended not to notice it. “Show him the poke, man!” he said to Harry.
Harry drew the gold from its hiding-place and untied the neck of the sack once more The big boatswain waited just long enough to see this gold, then he bolted from the tent. Outside they could hear him slapping his great leg with a noise like the report of a pistol and gurgling something about seven-time winners, but within they were too much interested in the story of the placer discoveries to heed.