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Though puzzled by my manner he answered readily:
"Yes, I think I realize it fully; by a lucky tumble, I have found a curious little deposit of pay gravel that will make this by far my best day's work in the mines."
"Excellent as far as it goes," I said, grasping his hand. "Now let me ask you another question. Have you ever heard of
the old Manzanita claim ?"
Certainly," he replied calmly: "the claim that enriched so many and then the channel was lost." And as he read in my eyes the secret that was agitating me so, the possibilities of which his own words had just suggested to him, the full import of his day's work flashed blindingly upon him.
fully as happy as he was, I verily believe, for I was thinking of the dozens upon dozens of times that little flat purse would now be filled by the treasure flowing in upon him.
Those who a few days later served him in the town thought, not without reason, that he was in a somewhat extravagant mood even though he did own the best claim in the camp; for nothing on the trader's shelves that took his fancy seemed too highpriced for him. Singular purchases too were most of them for a miner living alone with neither kith nor kin to share them.
Not singular, either, were his actions when compared with those of the driver of the express wagon to whom these things had been entrusted. For when he reached the gulch at the head of which Harry's cabin stood, he decided not to make that long climb with such a load, and so in silence and with an air of much mystery, he piled the assorted merchandise unobserved upon the porch of Mrs. Hanson's house, and then drove carefully away with never a creak or jar to betray his presence to any one, and
With what calmness I could assume I looking all the time so pleased one might continued :have thought he had only been obeying instructions and by so doing had earned a royal fee.
"Yes, it was lost, completely lost, though many, myself amongst them, searched sharply for it. The last sink ever worked in that claim, and the richest one of all, was just below this point, and numerous drifts have been run into the hillside by the searchers; but only high, barren ledge was everywhere found, which none of us thought of sinking through. For we did not suspect what your day's work plainly proves-that this is but a landslide, beneath which the lost Manzanita' has been safely hidden, waiting for you to claim it."
It was pleasant to see his great happiness, now that his changed circumstances stood sharply outlined before him. But no word escaped him, and I knew I should please him best by leaving him to his thoughts
And all the while the widow, who had heard nothing of Harry's good luck, was sitting there within, quite likely thinking of him at that very time possibly wondering if he was offended at the liberty she had taken in introducing that supper surreptitiously into his cabin, for he had not once been near her since.
About this time an inquisitive zephyr out for a frolic came spinning aimlessly along, and finding some oddly shaped bundles lying there began investigating them, in doing which it rolled one partly over; then carrying a suspicion of the tattling of paper to the ears of the lady within, it hurried on out of the open window of her room and enfolding
a passing butterfly in its invisible arms went whirling away with it in a giddy dance far above the tree tops.
The next moment Mrs. Hanson was standing outside and with feelings more readily imagined than described, was gazing upon the gifts that had come to her so silently. She glanced eagerly in all directions for some solution of the mystery, but no person was to be seen until May came in sight around a turn in the road, running wildly towards her home; and all other feelings giving place to fears for her darling's safety she hastened to meet her.
She, however, quickly saw it was not dan ger that was spurring the little one on thus, for her face was all aglow with a happy excitement, which only welcome news could awaken; for May had heard at school of Harry's good fortune and she had instantly recalled the promise he one day made her that when his ship came in its captain would bring to her as handsome a doll as ever strayed into the mines. So it would have been strange if she had loitered any on the way after school was dismissed. But her mother's bewilderment was increased a hundred-fold when the child, catching sight of the goods on the porch, called out exultantly, "I knew the doll would be here because he promised it!" And running up the steps she instinctively grasped the bundle containing it and went dancing around with her treasure, fairly wild with joy; for she found it far more beautiful and accomplished than any she had ever before seen or even dreamed of, "with real eyes and hair that open and shuts," she told her mother not noticing the slip, for at that instant her new companion fairly paralyzed her with astonishment by addressing her affectionately as "Pa-pa!" in response to her caress.
truly, as glad as glad could be; but she was thinking of how suddenly acquired wealth was apt to create more gulfs between old friends than it ever bridged. And even as she looked at the cabin on the ridge in which she could see Harry moving around, it appeared more distant from her than it had ever seemed before.
But she had a duty to perform. These gifts of his were to settle all scores between them, and as her child was impatient to run up there to see him, she would send him a formal note earnestly congratulating and thanking him, and wishing him great happiness. Then to her weary work once. more, and away and forever with all foolish dreaming.
But dreams will come, and who shall say them nay? They enter our most secret chambers at will, and death alone can effectually bar the door against them. They came in throngs to Mrs. Hanson's pillow that very night, and every one was welcome.
For Harry had stood by her side before. she slept, and had spoken his little piece, telling her some things that both surprised and pleased her. For how was she to have guessed that the old log cabin had long been a watch tower, and its occupant a faithful sentinel, standing guard over her in secret, that no harm of any kind should come to her in her lonely home. What else but this, he asked, could have caused him to live apart from his companions and turn hermit as he had done; ever loyal and true to her, but determined that until the fates were propitious and he could offer her a suitable home, no word should betray him.
And so as she glided swiftly amongst beautiful though unfamiliar scenes the livelong night, great joy and peace kept with her, for a new and restful feeling of being accompanied by a friendly presence on whose guidance she could safely rely, left her but little to wish for. At one time she knew her companion to be a powerful genie, on whose shoulder May sat gleefully perched,
A troop of babes in Summer-Land,
At heaven's gate - the children's gate : One lifts, the latch with rosy hand,
Then turns and dimpling, asks her mate,
"What was the last thing that you saw?"
"A face thro' tears that smiled" The trembling lips could speak no more; The blue eyes swam; the lonely child
Was homesick even at heaven's door.
E. R. Sill.
DIARY OF H. W. BIGLER IN 1847 AND 1848.
[HENRY W. BIGLER, one of the laborers employed on Sutter and Marshall's sawmill at Coloma in January, 1848, when gold was found there, is the person to whom we are indebted for our knowledge of the precise date of the discovery. He was the only one who made a written record of the event on the day of its occurrence; the only one present who wrote an account of the discovery (Marshall's story having been written by others); and the only person present who kept a diary with numerous entries. He had previously been a private soldier in the Mormon Battalion which enlisted in Missouri in June, 1846, for one year to aid
in the conquest of California, and marched through the Indian Territory, New Mexico, and Arizona to San Diego, during the greater portion of their service under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, First Dragoons, U. S. A. The battalion, numbering five hundred men, crossed the Colorado River on January 10th, 1847, and was mustered out at Los Angeles on July 16th, 1848. Some re-enlisted, others found employment as laborers in California, and the remainder went to Salt Lake. Among those of the second class was Bigler, who entered the service of John A. Sutter of Sutter's Fort, on the
15th September, and on the 27th of the half.
That portion of his diary kept during his stay in California, with some explanatory notes added in 1887, has a permanent historical interest, and a copy of it as revised by John S. Hittell at Mr. Bigler's request, has been placed in the archives of the Society of California Pioneers, and is now given to our readers in print.]
Sunday, January 10th, 1847. - Began to ferry our baggage across the Colorado River in wagon boxes; and at the same time a number of soldiers were detailed to gather mezquite beans for mule feed.
Jan. 11th.-Completed the ferrying. Marched 15 miles. Several teams gave out. At camp an old well was dug deeper, and a new well dug before we could get water.
Jan. 12th. Two more wagons were abandoned in consequence of the mules giving out. Marched 10 miles.
Jan. 13th.-Marched 15 miles. Camped at a dry well in which we found 4 dead wolves. After digging this well deeper, and digging a new one, we had a good supply of
Jan. 14th.-Twenty-four men with picks and shovels were sent ahead under Lieutenant Stoneman [George Stoneman, since General and Governor of California], and Weaver, our chief guide, to dig wells. The battalion marched 15 miles, and camped without water.
Jan. 15th. Started at sunrise and marched 10 miles to Stoneman's camp. There was very little water. Here we met a party of native Californians and Indians with mules and beeves for the battalion. The Colonel ordered one of the beeves to be slaughtered and cooked, so that we should be on the road again within an hour and a
Our flour, salt, sugar, and coffee being exhausted, we thought one beef insufficient for a hungry battalion. The mules had never been broken, and there was a lively time when they were harnessed in, but the soldiers and the vaqueros with their lassoes enjoyed the fun, and the poor mules had to submit. We marched until dark, and camped without water.
Jan. 16th.-Started again at midnight, and marched until 3 P. M., after traveling 50 or 60 miles without water, over a very sandy road, and under a hot sun. Twenty of the mules gave out, and were left to take care of themselves. There was much suffering among the men also, on account of hunger and thirst, having had nothing to eat for more than 24 hours. The first men to reach the water carried full canteens to their companions who had lain down exhausted by the roadside. All the men came in at last. One mule was lost with his pack.
Sunday, January 17th. We marched 10 miles to a camp with abundant water. One of the beeves gave out, and some men who were too weak to keep up with the mass of the battalion killed it, roasted it, and prepared themselves to stay by the carcass, but were driven forward by the rear guard. They did not reach the camp till late in the night.
Jan. 18th.-Spent the day in camp, resting, washing and mending clothes, and cleaning guns. Some of the men had re
covered so well from their recent exhaustion that they sang, fiddled, danced, and amused themselves by rolling immense bowlders down a steep hill side. Late in the evening an Indian brought a letter to our Colonel. Rumor in camp said it was from General Kearny, who has had a battle with the native Californians and has lost 15 or 20 of his men.