In The Heart Of The Rockies
G. A. Henty
Part 6 out of 6
had often occurred to him as they made their way down the river, but
that one should be cut off like this had never once been contemplated by
him. Their lives from the hour they met on the Big Wind River had seemed
bound up together, and this sudden loss of one of the party affected him
greatly. The others went about their work silently and sadly, but they
had been so accustomed to see life lost in sudden frays, and in one or
other of the many dangers that miners and hunters are exposed to, that
it did not affect them to the same extent as it did Tom.
Except two or three men who remained on watch on the opposite bank,
though carefully keeping out of rifle-range, they saw no signs of the
Navahoes during the day. As soon as it became so dark that they were
sure their movements could not be seen from the other side, they
silently took their places in the boats, and pushed off into the
current. For a quarter of an hour they lay in the canoes, then at a
signal from Harry knelt up, took their paddles and began to row very
quietly and cautiously, the necessity for dropping their paddles
noiselessly into the water and for avoiding any splashing having been
impressed on all before starting.
"There is no occasion for haste," Harry said. "Long and gentle strokes
of the paddle will take us down as fast as we need go. If those fellows
do cross over, as I expect they will, they will find it difficult to
travel over the rocks in the dark as fast as we are going now, and there
is no fear whatever of their catching us if we go on steadily."
After an hour's rowing they could make out a dark mass rising like a
wall in front of them, and Harry passed the word back to the other
canoe, which was just behind them, that they should now cease paddling,
only giving a stroke occasionally to keep the head of the canoe
straight, and to prevent the boat from drifting out from under the
shelter of the bank, in the stillness of the night they could hear a low
roaring, and knew that it was caused by a rapid in the canon ahead.
Higher and higher rose the wall of rock, blotting out the stars in front
of them till the darkness seemed to spread half-way over the sky.
They could see that the boat was passing the shore more rapidly, as the
river accelerated its course before rushing into the gorge. Suddenly
there was a shout on the right, so close that Tom was startled, then
there was a rifle-shot, and a moment later a wild outburst of yells and
a dozen other shots. At the first shout the paddles dipped into the
water, and at racing speed the boats shot along. Eight or ten more
rifle-shots were fired, each farther behind them.
"Anyone hurt?" Harry asked.
There was a general negative.
"I don't believe they really saw us," Harry said. "The first fellow may
have caught sight of us, but I expect the others fired merely at random.
Now let us row in and fasten up, for judging from that roaring there
must be a big rapid close ahead."
The boats were soon fastened up against the rocks, and the chief stepped
"Leaping Horse and Hunting Dog will watch. Navahoes may come down here.
Don't think they will be brave enough to enter canon, too dark to see.
Still, better watch."
"Just as you like, chief," Harry said, "but I have no belief that they
will come down here in the dark; it would be as much as they would dare
do in broad daylight. Besides, these rocks are steepish climbing anyway,
and I should not like myself to try to get over them, when it is so dark
that I can't see my own hand, except by putting it up between my eyes
and the stars."
"If it was not for that," Jerry said, "I would crawl along to the mouth
and see if I couldn't get a shot at them varmint on the other side."
"You would not find them there, Jerry. You may be sure that when they
saw us go through they would know it was of no use waiting there any
longer. They would flatter themselves that they had hit some of us, and
even if they hadn't, it would not seem to matter a cent to them, as the
evil spirit of the canon would surely swallow us up."
"Well, they have been wrong in their first supposition, uncle," Tom
said, "and I hope they will be equally wrong in the second."
"I hope so, Tom. Now we may as well go to sleep. As soon as there is any
light we must explore as far as we can go, for by the noise ahead it
must be either a fall or a desperately bad rapid."
When daylight broke, the whites found Hunting Dog sitting with his rifle
across his knees on a rock above them.
"Where is the chief?" Harry asked him.
"Leaping Horse went up the rocks to see if Navahoes have gone."
"Very well. Tell him when he comes back we have gone down to have a look
at the rapid. Tom, you may as well stay here. There is plenty of
drift-wood among those rocks, and we will breakfast before we start
down. I reckon we shall not have much time for anything of that sort
after we are once off."
Tom was by no means sorry to be saved a heavy climb. He collected some
wood and broke it up into suitable pieces, but at the suggestion of
Hunting Dog waited for the chief's return before lighting it. The chief
came down in a few minutes. "Navahoes all gone," he said briefly.
"Then I can light a fire, chief?"
Leaping Horse nodded, and Tom took out the tightly-fitting tin box in
which he kept his matches. Each of the party carried a box, and to
secure against the possibility of the matches being injured by the water
in case of a capsize, the boxes were kept in deer's bladders tightly
tied at the mouth. The fire was just alight when the others returned.
"It is better ahead than we expected," Harry said; "the noise was caused
by the echo from the smooth faces of the rocks. It is lucky we hauled in
here last night, for these rocks end fifty yards on, and as far as we
can see down, the water washes the foot of the wall on both sides. We
were able to climb up from them on to a narrow ledge, parallel with the
water, and went on to the next turn, but there was no change in the
character of the river. So we shall make a fair start anyway."
More wood was put on the fire, and in a quarter of an hour the kettle
was boiling and slices of meat cooked. Half an hour later they took
their places in the canoes and started. The canon was similar to the one
they had last passed; the walls were steep and high, but with irregular
shelves running along them. Above these were steep slopes, running up to
the foot of smooth perpendicular cliffs of limestone. The stream was
very rapid, and they calculated that in the first half-hour they must
have run six miles. Here the walls receded to a distance, and ledges of
rock and hills of considerable heights intervened between the river and
the cliffs. They checked the pace of their canoes just as they reached
this opening, for a deep roar told of danger ahead. Fortunately there
were rocks where they were able to disembark, and a short way below they
found that a natural dam extended across the river.
"There has been an eruption of trap here," Harry said, looking at the
black rock on either side. "There has been a fissure, I suppose, and the
lava was squeezed up through it. You see the river has cut a path for
itself some hundreds of feet deep. It must have taken countless ages,
Tom, to have done the work."
Over this dam the water flowed swiftly and smoothly, and then shot down
in a fall six feet high. Below for a distance of two or three hundred
yards was a furious rapid, the water running among black rocks. With
considerable difficulty they made a portage of the boats and stores to
the lower end of the rapid. This transit occupied several hours, and
they then proceeded on their way. Five more miles were passed; several
times the boats were brought to the bank in order that falls ahead might
be examined. These proved to be not too high to shoot, and the boats
paddled over them. When they had first taken to the river they would
never have dreamt of shooting such falls, but they had now become so
expert in the management of the boats, and so confident in their
buoyancy, that the dangers which would then have appalled them were now
faced without uneasiness.
They now came to a long rapid, presenting so many dangers that they
deemed it advisable to let down the boats by lines. Again embarking they
found that the wall of rocks closed in and they entered a narrow gorge,
through which the river ran with great swiftness, touching the walls on
each side. Great care was needed to prevent the boats being dashed
against the rock, but they succeeded in keeping them fairly in the
middle of the stream. After travelling four miles through this gorge it
opened somewhat, and on one side was a strip of sand.
"We will land there," Harry said. "It looks to me like granite ahead,
and if it is we are in for bad times, sure."
The boats were soon pulled up, and they proceeded to examine the cliffs
below. Hitherto the danger had been in almost exact proportion to the
hardness of the rock, and as they were entering a far harder rock than
they had before encountered, greater difficulties than those they had
surmounted were to be expected.
They could not see a long distance down, but what they saw was enough to
justify their worst anticipations. The canon was narrower than any they
had traversed, and the current extremely swift. There seemed but few
broken rocks in the channel, but on either side the walls jutted out in
sharp angles far into the river, with crags and pinnacles.
"Waal, it is of no use looking at it," Jerry said after a pause. "It is
certain we can't get along the sides, so there is nothing to do but to
go straight at it; and the sooner it is over the better."
Accordingly they returned to the boats, and soon darted at the speed of
an arrow into the race. Bad as it was at starting it speedily became
worse: ledges, pinnacles, and towers of rock rose above the surface of
the stream breaking it into falls and whirlpools. Every moment it seemed
to Tom that the boat must inevitably be dashed to pieces against one of
these obstructions, for the light boats were whirled about like a
feather on the torrent, and the paddlers could do but little to guide
their course. The very strength of the torrent, however, saved them from
destruction, the whirl from the rocks sweeping the boat's head aside
when within a few feet of them, and driving it past the danger before
they had time to realize that they had escaped wreck. Half an hour of
this, and a side canon came in. Down this a vast quantity of boulders
had been swept, forming a dam across the river, but they managed to
paddle into an eddy at the side, and to make a portage of the boats to
the water below the dam, over which there was a fall of from thirty to
forty feet high. Three more similar dams were met with. Over one the
canoes were carried, but on the others there was a break in the boulder
wall, and they were able to shoot the falls.
After three days of incessant labour, they heard, soon after starting
from their last halting-place, a roar even louder and more menacing than
they had yet experienced. Cautiously they got as close as possible to
the side, and paddling against the stream were able to effect a landing
just above the rapid. On examining it they found that it was nearly half
a mile long, and in this distance the water made a fall of some eighty
feet, the stream being broken everywhere with ledges and jagged rocks,
among which the waves lashed themselves into a white foam. It seemed
madness to attempt such a descent, and they agreed that at any rate they
would halt for the day. The rocks through which the canon ran were fully
a thousand feet high, but they decided that, great as the labour might
be, it would be better to make a portage, if possible, rather than
descend the cataract.
"There is a gulch here running up on to the hill," Tom said. "Hunting
Dog and I will start at once and see if it is possible to get up it, and
if so how far it is to a place where we can get down again."
Harry assented; Leaping Horse without a word joined the explorers, and
they set off up the gulch. It was found that the ravine was steep, but
not too steep to climb. When they were nearly at the top Hunting Dog
pointed to the hillside above them, and they saw a big-horn standing at
the edge of the rock. The three fired their rifles simultaneously, and
the wild sheep made a spring into the air and then came tumbling down
the side of the ravine. As fresh meat was beginning to run short this
was a stroke of good fortune, and after reloading their guns they
proceeded up the ravine until they reached the crest of the hill. The
soil was disintegrated granite, and tufts of short grass grew here and
there. After walking about a mile, parallel to the course of the river,
they found that the ground descended again, and without much difficulty
made their way down until they reached the foot of a little valley;
following this they were soon standing by the side of the river. Above,
its surface was as closely studded with rocks as was the upper cataract;
below, there was another fall that looked impracticable, except that it
seemed possible to pass along on the rocks by the side. It was getting
dark by the time they rejoined their comrades.
"Your report is not a very cheerful one," Harry said, "but at any rate
there seems nothing else to be done than to make the portage. The meat
you have got for us will re-stock our larder, and as it is up there we
sha'n't have the trouble of carrying it over."
The next day was a laborious one. One by one the canoes were carried
over, but the operation took them from daybreak till dark. The next
morning another journey was made to bring over the rugs and stores, and
they were able in addition to these to carry down the carcass of the
sheep, after first skinning it and cutting off the head with its great
horns. Nothing was done for the rest of the day beyond trying whether
another portage could be made. This was found to be impracticable, and
there was nothing for them but to attempt the descent. They breakfasted
as soon as day broke, carried the boats down over the boulder dam with
which the rapids commenced, and put them into the water. For some little
distance they were able to let them down by ropes, then the rocks at the
foot of the cliffs came to an end. Fortunately the seven lariats
furnished them with a considerable length of line, and in addition to
these the two Indians had on their way down plaited a considerable
length of rope, with thongs cut from the skins of the animals they had
The total available amount of rope was now divided into two lengths, the
ends being fastened to each canoe. One of the boats with its crew on
board was lowered to a point where the men were able to get a foothold
on a ledge. As soon as they had done so the other boat dropped down to
them, and the ropes were played out until they were in turn enabled to
get a footing on a similar ledge or jutting rock, sometimes so narrow
that but one man was able to stand. So alternately the boats were let
down. Sometimes when no foothold could be obtained on the rock wall, the
pinnacles and ledges in the stream were utilized. All the work had to be
done by gesture, for the thunder of the waters was so tremendous that
the loudest shout could not be heard a few yards away. Hour passed after
hour. Their progress was extremely slow, as each step had to be closely
considered and carried out with the greatest care.
At last a terrible accident happened. Harry, Leaping Horse, and Tom were
on a ledge. Below them was a fall of three feet, and in the foaming
stream below it, rose several jagged rocks. Jerry's canoe was got safely
down the fall, but in spite of the efforts of the rowers was carried
against the outer side of one of these rocks. They made a great effort
to turn the boat's head into the eddy behind it, but as the line touched
the rock its sharp edge severed the rope like a knife, and the boat shot
away down the rapid. Those on the ledge watched it with breathless
anxiety. Two or three dangers were safely passed, then to their horror
they saw the head of the canoe rise suddenly as it ran up a sunken ledge
just under the water. An instant later the stern swept round, bringing
her broadside on to the stream, and she at once capsized.
"Quick!" Harry exclaimed, "we must go to their rescue. Keep close to the
wall, chief, till we see signs of them. It is safest close in."
In an instant they were in their places, and as they released the canoe
she shot in a moment over the fall. For a short distance they kept her
close to the side, but a projecting ledge threw the current sharply
outwards, and the canoe shot out into the full force of the rapid. The
chief knelt up in the bow paddle in hand, keeping a vigilant eye for
rocks and ledges ahead, and often with a sharp stroke of the paddle,
seconded by the effort of Harry in the stern, sweeping her aside just
when Tom thought her destruction inevitable. Now she went headlong down
a fall, then was caught by an eddy, and was whirled round and round
three or four times before the efforts of the paddlers could take her
beyond its influence. Suddenly a cry came to their ears. Just as they
approached a rocky ledge some thirty feet long, and showing a saw-like
edge a foot above the water, the chief gave a shout and struck his
paddle into the water.
"Behind the rock, Tom, behind the rock!" Harry exclaimed as he swept the
stern round. Tom paddled with all his might, and the canoe headed up
stream. Quickly as the movement was done, the boat was some twelve yards
below the rock as she came round with her nose just in the lower edge of
the eddy behind it, while from either side the current closed in on her.
Straining every nerve the three paddlers worked as for life. At first
Tom thought that the glancing waters would sweep her down, but inch by
inch they gained, and drove the boat forward from the grasp of the
current into the back eddy, until suddenly, as if released from a vice,
she sprang forward. Never in his life had Tom exerted himself so
greatly. His eyes were fixed on the rock in front of him, where Hunting
Dog was clinging with one hand, while with the other he supported
Jerry's head above water. He gave a shout of joy as the chief swept the
head of the canoe round, just as it touched the rock, and laid her
broadside to it.
"Stick your paddle between two points of the rock, Tom," Harry shouted,
"while the chief and I get them in. Sit well over on the other side of
With considerable difficulty Jerry, who was insensible, was lifted into
the boat. As soon as he was laid down Hunting Dog made his way hand over
hand on the gunwale until close to the stern, where he swung himself
into the boat without difficulty.
"Have you seen Sam?" Harry asked.
The young Indian shook his head. "Sam one side of the boat," he said,
"Jerry and Hunting Dog the other. Boat went down that chute between
those rocks above. Only just room for it. Jerry was knocked off by rock.
Hunting Dog was near the stern, there was room for him. He caught
Jerry's hunting-shirt, but could not hold on to boat. When came down
here made jump at corner of rock. Could not hold on, but current swept
him into eddy. Then swam here and held on, and kept calling. Knew his
brothers would come down soon."
"Here is a spare paddle," Harry said, as he pulled one out from below
the network, "there is not a moment to lose. Keep your eyes open,
chief." Again the boat moved down the stream. With four paddles going
the steersman had somewhat more control over her, but as she flew down
the seething water, glanced past rocks and sprang over falls, Tom
expected her to capsize every moment. At last he saw below them a
stretch of quiet water, and two or three minutes later they were
floating upon it, and as if by a common impulse all ceased rowing.
"Thanks be to God for having preserved us," Harry said reverently. "We
are half-full of water; another five minutes of that work and it would
have been all over with us. Do you see any signs of the canoe, chief?"
The chief pointed to a ledge of rock extending out into the stream.
"Canoe there," he said. They paddled across to it. After what the young
Indian had said they had no hopes of finding Sam with it, but Harry gave
a deep sigh as he stepped out on to the ledge.
"Another gone," he said. "How many of us will get through this place
alive? Let us carry Jerry ashore."
There was a patch of sand swept up by the eddy below the rock, and here
Jerry was taken out and laid down. He moaned as they lifted him.
"Easy with him," Harry said. "Steady with that arm. I think he has a
shoulder broken, as well as this knock on the head that has stunned
As soon as he was laid down Harry cut open his shirt on the shoulder.
"Broken," he said shortly. "Now, chief, I know that you are a good hand
at this sort of thing. How had this better be bandaged?"
"Want something soft first."
Tom ran to the canoe, brought out the little canvas sack in which he
carried his spare flannel shirt, and brought it to the chief. The latter
tore off a piece of stuff and rolled it into a wad. "Want two pieces of
wood," he said, holding his hands about a foot apart to show the length
he required. Harry fetched a spare paddle, and split a strip off each
side of the blade. The chief nodded as he took them. "Good," he said. He
tore off two more strips of flannel and wrapped them round the splints,
then with Harry's aid he placed the shoulder in its natural position,
laid the wad of flannel on the top of it, and over this put the two
splints. The whole was kept in its place by flannel bandages, and the
arm was fastened firmly across the body, so that it could not be moved.
Then the little keg of brandy was brought out of the canoe, a spoonful
poured into the pannikin, with half as much water, and allowed to
trickle between Jerry's lips, while a wad of wet flannel was placed on
"There is nothing more we can do for him at present," Harry said. "Now
we will right the other boat, and get all the things out to dry."
Three or four pounds of flour were found to be completely soaked with
water, but the main store was safe, as the bag was sewn up in bear-skin.
This was only opened occasionally to take out two or three days' supply,
and then carefully closed again. On landing, Hunting Dog had at once
started in search of drift-wood, and by this time a fire was blazing. A
piece of bear's fat was placed in the frying-pan, and the wetted flour
was at once fried into thin cakes, which were tough and tasteless; but
the supply was too precious to allow of an ounce being wasted. Some
slices of the flesh of the big-horn were cooked.
"What is my white brother going to do?" the chief asked Harry.
"There is nothing to do that I can see, chief, but to keep on pegging
away. We agreed that it would be almost impossible to find our way over
these barren mountains. That is not to be thought of, now that one of
our number cannot walk. There is no choice left, we have got to go on."
"Leaping Horse understand that," the chief said. "He meant would you
take both canoes? One is big enough to take five."
"Quite big enough, chief, but it would be deeper in the water, and the
heavier it is the harder it will bump against any rock it meets; the
lighter they are the better. You see, this other canoe, which I dare say
struck a dozen times on its way down, shows no sign of damage except the
two rents in the skin, that we can mend in a few minutes. Another thing
is, two boats are absolutely necessary for this work of letting down by
ropes, of which we may expect plenty more. If we had only one, we should
be obliged to run every rapid. The only extra trouble that it will give
us is at the portages. I think we had better stay here for two or three
days, so as to give Jerry a chance of coming round. No doubt we could
carry him over the portages just as we can carry the boats, but after
such a knock on the head as he has had, it is best that he should be
kept quiet for a bit. If his skull is not cracked he won't be long in
getting round. He is as hard as nails, and will pull round in the tenth
of the time it would take a man in the towns to get over such a knock.
It is a pity the halt is not in a better place. There is not a shadow of
a chance of finding game among these crags and bare rocks."
From time to time fresh water was applied to the wad of flannel round
"Is there any chance, do you think, of finding poor Sam's body?"
The chief shook his head. "No shores where it could be washed up, rocks
tear it to pieces; or if it get in an eddy, might be there for weeks. No
see Sam any more."
The fire was kept blazing all night, and they took it by turns to sit
beside Jerry and to pour occasionally a little brandy and water between
his lips. As the men were moving about preparing breakfast the next
morning Jerry suddenly opened his eyes. He looked at Tom, who was
sitting beside him.
"Time to get up?" he asked. "Why did you not wake me?" And he made an
effort to move. Tom put his hand on him.
"Lie still, Jerry. You have had a knock on the head, but you are all
The miner lay quiet. His eyes wandered confusedly over the figures of
the others, who had, when they heard his voice, gathered round him.
"What in thunder is the matter with me?" he asked. "What is this thing
on my head? What is the matter with my arm, I don't seem able to move
"It is the knock you have had, Jerry," Harry said cheerfully. "You have
got a bump upon your head half as big as a cocoa-nut, and you have
damaged your shoulder. You have got a wet flannel on your head, and the
chief has bandaged your arm. I expect your head will be all right in a
day or two, but I reckon you won't be able to use your arm for a bit."
Jerry lay quiet without speaking for a few minutes, then he said: "Oh, I
remember now; we were capsized. I had hold of the canoe, and I remember
seeing a rock just ahead. I suppose I knocked against it."
"That was it, mate. Hunting Dog let go his hold and caught you, and
managed to get into an eddy and cling to the rocks till we came down and
took you on board."
Jerry held out his hand to the Indian. "Thankee," he said. "I owe you
one, Hunting Dog. If I ever get the chance you can reckon on me sure,
whatever it is. But where is Sam? Why ain't he here?"
"Sam has gone under, mate," Harry replied. "That chute you went down was
only just wide enough for the boat to go through, and no doubt he was
knocked off it at the same time as you were; but as the Indian was on
your side, he saw nothing of Sam. I reckon he sank at once, just as you
would have done if Hunting Dog hadn't been behind you."
Jerry made no reply, but as he lay still, with his eyes closed, some big
tears made their way through the lids and rolled down his bronzed face.
The others thought it best to leave him by himself, and continued their
preparations for breakfast.
BACK TO DENVER
"When are you going to make a start again?" Jerry asked, after drinking
a, pannikin of tea.
"We are not going on to-day; perhaps not to-morrow. It will depend on
how you get on."
"I shall be a nuisance to you anyway," the miner said, "and it would be
a dog-goned sight the best way to leave me here; but I know you won't
do that, so it ain't no use my asking you. I expect I shall be all right
to-morrow except for this shoulder, but just now my head is buzzing as
if there was a swarm of wild bees inside."
"You will be all the better when you have had a good sleep; I reckon we
could all do a bit that way. Young Tom and Hunting Dog are going to try
a bit of fishing with those hooks of yours. We talked about it when we
started, you know, but we have not done anything until now. We want a
change of food badly. We may be a month going down this canon for
anything I know, and if it keeps on like this there ain't a chance of
seeing a head of game. It ought to be a good place for fish at the foot
of the rapids--that is, if there are any fish here, and I reckon there
should be any amount of them. If they do catch some, we will wait here
till we can dry a good stock. We have nothing now but the dried flesh
and some of the big-horn. There ain't above twenty pounds of flour left,
and we could clear up all there is in the boat in a week. So you need
not worry that you are keeping us."
Half an hour later Hunting Dog and Tom put out in one of the canoes, and
paddling to the foot of the rapids let the lines drop overboard, the
hooks being baited with meat. It was not many minutes before the Indian
felt a sharp pull. There was no occasion to play the fish, for the line
was strong enough to hold a shark, and a trout of six pounds weight was
soon laid in the bottom of the boat.
"My turn now," Tom said; and the Indian with a smile took the paddle
from his hand, and kept the boat up stream while Tom attended to the
lines. Fish after fish was brought up in rapid succession, and when
about mid-day a call from below told them that it was time for dinner,
they had some thirty fish averaging five pounds' weight at the bottom of
There was a shout of satisfaction from Harry as he looked down into the
canoe, and even the chief gave vent to a grunt that testified his
"Hand me up four of them, Tom; I did not know how much I wanted a change
of food till my eyes lit on those beauties. We saw you pulling them out,
but I did not expect it was going to be as good as this."
The fish were speedily split open, and laid on ramrods over the fire.
"I reckon you will want another one for me," Jerry, who had been asleep
since they started, remarked. "I don't know that I am good for one as
big as those, but I reckon I can pick a bit anyhow."
A small fish was put on with the others, and as soon as they were
grilled, all set to at what seemed to Tom the best meal he had ever
eaten in his life. He thought when he handed them to Harry that two
would have been amply sufficient for them all, but he found no
difficulty whatever in disposing of a whole one single-handed.
"Now, Tom, the chief and I will take our turn while you and Hunting Dog
prepare your catch. He will show you how to do it, it is simple enough.
Cut off the heads, split and clean them, run a skewer through to keep
them flat, and then lay them on that rock in the sun to dry. Or wait, I
will rig up a line between two of the rocks for you to hang them on.
There is not much wind, but what there is will dry them better than if
they were laid flat."
Jerry went off to sleep again as soon as the meal was finished, and the
bandages round his head re-wetted. The paddle from which the strips had
been cut furnished wood for the skewers, and in the course of half an
hour the fish were all hanging on a line. Twenty two more were brought
in at sunset. Some of these, after being treated like the others, were
hung in the smoke of the fire, while the rest were suspended like the
The next morning Jerry was able to move about, and the fishing went on
all day, and by night a quantity, considered sufficient, had been
"There are over four hundred pounds altogether," Harry said, "though by
the time they are dried they won't be more than half that weight. Two
pounds of dried fish a man is enough to keep him going, and they will
last us twenty days at that rate, and it will be hard luck if we don't
find something to help it out as we go down."
They stopped another day to allow the drying to be completed. The fish
were taken down and packed on board that evening, and at daylight they
were afloat again. For the next ten days their labours were continuous.
They passed several rapids as bad as the one that had cost them so dear;
but as they gained experience they became more skilful in letting down
the boats. Some days only two or three miles were gained, on others they
made as much as twelve. At last they got out of the granite; beyond this
the task was much easier, and on the fifteenth day after leaving their
fishing-ground, they emerged from the canon.
By this time Jerry had perfectly recovered, and was with great
difficulty persuaded to keep his arm bandaged. He had chafed terribly at
first at his helplessness, and at being unable to take any share in the
heavy labours of the others; but after the rapids were passed he was
more contented, and sat quietly at the bottom of the boat smoking, while
Harry and Tom paddled, the two Indians forming the crew of the other
canoe. The diet of fish had been varied by bear's flesh, Leaping Horse
having shot a large brown bear soon after they got through the rapids. A
shout of joy was raised by the three whites as they issued from the
gorge into a quiet valley, through which the river ran, a broad tranquil
stream. Even the Indians were stirred to wave their paddles above their
heads and to give a ringing whoop as their companions cheered. The boats
were headed for the shore, and the camp was formed near a large clump of
Their joy at their deliverance from the dangers of the canon was dashed
only by the thought of the loss of their two comrades. The next day
three short canons were passed through, but these presented no
difficulties, and in the afternoon they reached the mouth of the Rio
Virgen, and continuing their journey arrived five days later at Fort
Mojarve. This was a rising settlement, for it was here that the traders'
route between Los Angeles and Santa Fe crossed the Colorado. Their
appearance passed almost unnoticed, for a large caravan had arrived that
afternoon and was starting east the next morning.
"We had best hold our tongues about it altogether," Harry said, as soon
as he heard that the caravan was going on the next morning. "In the
first place they won't believe us, and that would be likely to lead to
trouble; and in the next place we should be worried out of our lives
with questions. Besides, we have got to get a fresh outfit, for we are
pretty near in rags, and to buy horses, food, and kit. We can leave the
boats on the shore, no one is likely to come near them."
"I will stop and look after them," Tom said. "There are the saddles,
buffalo-robes, blankets, and ammunition. This shirt is in rags, and the
last moccasins Hunting Dog made me are pretty nearly cut to pieces by
the rocks. I would rather stay here and look after the boats than go
into the village; besides, it will save you the trouble of carrying all
these bags of gold about with you."
Harry nodded, cut two of the little bags free from their lashings and
dropped them into his pocket, and then went up to the Fort with Jerry
and the Indians. Tom cut the other bags loose and put them on the ground
beside him, threw a buffalo-robe over them, and then sat for some hours
watching the quiet river and thinking over all they had gone through. It
was almost dark when the others returned.
"It has taken us some time, Tom," his uncle said as they threw some
bundles down beside him; "the stores and clothes were easy enough, but
we had a lot of trouble to find horses. However, we did not mind much
what we paid for them, and the traders were ready to sell a few at the
prices we offered. So we have got five riding horses and two
pack-ponies, which will be enough for us. That bundle is your lot,
riding breeches and boots, three pairs of stockings, two flannel shirts,
a Mexican hat, and a silk neck handkerchief. We may as well change at
once and go up to the village."
The change was soon effected. Harry and Jerry Curtis had clothes similar
to those they had bought for Tom, while the Indians wore over their
shirts new deer-skin embroidered hunting-shirts, and had fringed Mexican
leggings instead of breeches and boots. They, too, had procured Mexican
sombreros. Taking their rifles and pistols, and hiding their stock of
ammunition, the gold, and their buffalo-robes and blankets, they went up
to the village. It was by this time quite dark: the houses were all lit
up, and the drinking-shops crowded with the teamsters, who seemed bent
on making a night of it, this being the last village through which they
would pass until their arrival at Santa Fe.
They slept as usual, wrapped up in their buffalo-robes by the side of
the boats, as all agreed that this was preferable to a close room in a
They were all a-foot as soon as daylight broke, and went up and
breakfasted at a fonda, Tom enjoying the Mexican cookery after the
simple diet he had been accustomed to. Then they went to the stable
where the horses, which were strong serviceable-looking animals, had
been placed, and put on their saddles and bridles.
The pack-horses were then laden with flour, tea, sugar, bacon, and other
necessaries. By the time all was ready the caravan was just starting.
Harry had spoken the afternoon before to two of its leaders, and said
that he and four companions would be glad to ride with them to Santa Fe.
Permission was readily granted, the traders being pleased at the
accession of five well-armed men; for although Indian raids were
comparatively rare along this trail, there was still a certain amount of
danger involved in the journey. Some hours were occupied in crossing the
river in two heavy ferry-boats, and the process would have been still
longer had not half the waggons been sent across on the previous
The long journey was made without incident, and no Indians were met
with. A few deer were shot, but as it was now late in the autumn the
scanty herbage on the plains was all withered up, and the game had for
the most part moved away into deep valleys where they could obtain food.
The tale of their passage of the canons was told more than once, but
although it was listened to with interest, Harry perceived that it was
not really believed. That they had been hunting, had been attacked by
Indians, had made canoes and passed through some of the canons was
credible enough, but that they should have traversed the whole of the
lower course of the Colorado, seemed to the traders, who were all men
experienced in the country, simply incredible. The party stopped at
Santa Fe a few days, and then started north, travelling through the
Mexican villages, and finally striking across to Denver. At Santa Fe
they had converted the contents of their bags into money, which had been
equally shared among them. The Indians were not willing to accept more
than the recognized monthly pay, but Harry would not hear of it.
"This has been no ordinary business, Leaping Horse," he said warmly; "we
have all been as brothers together, and for weeks have looked death in
the face every hour, and we must share all round alike in the gold we
have brought back. Gold is just as useful to an Indian as it is to a
white man, and when you add this to the hoard you spoke of, you will
have enough to buy as many horses and blankets as you can use all your
lifetime, and to settle down in your wigwam and take a wife to yourself
whenever you choose. I fancy from what you said, Hunting Dog has his eye
on one of the maidens of your tribe. Well, he can buy her father's
favour now. The time is coming, chief, when the Indians of the plains
will have to take to white men's ways. The buffaloes are fast dying out,
and in a few years it will be impossible to live by hunting, and the
Indians will have to keep cattle and build houses and live as we do.
With his money Hunting Dog could buy a tidy ranche with a few hundred
head of cattle. Of course, he can hunt as much as he likes so long as
there is any game left, but he will find that as his cattle increase, he
will have plenty to look after at home."
"We will take the gold if my brother wishes it," the chief replied
gravely. "He is wise, and though now it seems to Leaping Horse that
red-skins have no need of gold, it may be that some day he and Hunting
Dog may be glad that they have done as their brother wished."
"Thank you, Leaping Horse. It will make my heart glad when I may be far
away from you across the great salt water to know that there will always
be comfort in my brother's wigwam."
On arriving at Denver they went straight to the Empire. As they entered
the saloon Pete Hoskings looked hard at them.
"Straight Harry, by thunder!" he shouted; "and Jerry Curtis, and young
Tom; though I would not have known him if he hadn't been with the
others. Well, this air a good sight for the eyes, and to-morrow
Christmas-day. I had begun to be afeard that something had gone wrong
with you, I looked for news from you nigh three months ago. I got the
message you sent me in the spring, and I have asked every old hand who
came along east since the end of August, if there had been any news of
you, and I began to fear that you had been rubbed out by the Utes."
"We have had a near escape of it, Pete; but it is a long story. Can you
put us all up? You know Leaping Horse, don't you? The other is his
"I should think I do know Leaping Horse," Pete said warmly, and went
across and shook the Indian's hand heartily.
"I was looking at you three, and did not notice who you had with you. In
that letter the chap brought me, you said that the chief was going with
you, and Sam Hicks and Ben Gulston. I did not know them so well; that
is, I never worked with them, though they have stopped here many a
"They have gone under, Pete. Sam was drowned in the Colorado, Ben shot
by the Navahoes. We have all had some close calls, I can tell you. Well
now, can you put us up?"
"You need not ask such a question as that, Harry," Pete said in an
aggrieved tone, "when you know very well that if the place was
chock-full, I would clear the crowd out to make room for you. There are
three beds in the room over this that will do for you three; and there
is a room beside it as Leaping Horse and his nephew can have, though I
reckon they won't care to sleep on the beds."
"No more shall we, Pete. We have been fifteen months and more sleeping
in the open, and we would rather have our buffalo-robes and blankets
than the softest bed in the world."
"You must have had a cold time of it the last three months up in those
Ute hills, where you said you were going."
"We left there five months ago, Pete. We have been down as low as Fort
Mojarve, and then crossed with a caravan of traders to Santa Fe"
Pete began pouring out the liquor.
"Oh, you won't take one, chief, nor the young brave. Yes; I remember you
do not touch the fire-water, and you may be sure I won't press you.
Well, luck to you all, and right glad I am to see you again. Ah! here is
my bartender. Now we will get a good fire lit in another room and hurry
up supper, and then we will talk it all over. You have put your horses
up, I suppose?"
"Yes; we knew you had no accommodation that way, Pete."
The room into which Pete now led them was not his own sanctum, but one
used occasionally when a party of miners coming in from the hills wanted
to have a feast by themselves, or when customers wished to talk over
private business. There was a table capable of seating some twelve
people, a great stove, and some benches. A negro soon lighted a large
fire; then, aided by a boy, laid the table, and it was not long before
they sat down to a good meal. When it was over, Pete said:
"Lend me a hand, Jerry, to push this table aside, then we will bring the
benches round the stove and hear all about it. I told the bar-tender
that I am not to be disturbed, and that if anyone wants to see me he is
to say that he has got to wait till to-morrow, for that I am engaged on
important business. Here are brandy and whisky, and tobacco and cigars,
and coffee for the chief and his nephew."
"I think you may say for all of us, Pete," Harry said. "After being a
year without spirits, Jerry, Tom, and I have agreed to keep without
them. We wouldn't say no to you when you asked us to take a drink, and
we have not sworn off, but Jerry and I have agreed that we have both
been all the better without them, and mean to keep to it; and as for
Tom, he prefers coffee."
"Do as you please," Pete said; "I am always glad to hear men say no. I
have made a lot of money out of it, but I have seen so many fellows
ruined by it that I am always pleased to see a man give up drink."
"There is one thing, Pete," Tom said, "before we begin. We left our
bundles of robes and blankets in the next room, if you don't mind I
would a deal rather spread them out here--and I am sure the chief and
Hunting Dog would--and squat down on them, instead of sitting on these
benches. It is a long story uncle will have to tell you."
"We will fetch ours too," Harry agreed. "Benches are all well enough for
sitting at the table to eat one's dinner, but why a man should sit on
them when he can sit on the ground is more than I can make out."
Pete nodded. "I will have my rocking-chair in," he said, "and then we
shall be fixed up for the evening."
The arrangements were soon made; pipes were lighted; the landlord sat in
his chair at some little distance back from the front of the stove; Tom
and the two Indians sat on their rugs on one side; Harry and Jerry
Curtis completed the semicircle on the other.
"Well, in the first place, Pete," Harry began, "you will be glad to hear
that we have struck it rich--the biggest thing I have ever seen. It is
up in the Ute country. We have staked out a claim for you next our own.
There are about five hundred pounds of samples lying at Fort Bridger, and
a bit of the rock we crushed, panned out five hundred ounces to the ton."
"You don't say!" Pete exclaimed. "If there is much of that stuff, Harry,
you have got a bonanza."
"There is a good bit of it anyhow, Pete. It is a true vein, and though
it is not all like that, it keeps good enough. Fifty feet back we found
it run twenty ounces. That is on the surface, we can't say how it goes
down in depth. Where we struck it on the face it was about fourteen feet
high, and the lode kept its width for that depth anyhow."
"That air good enough," the landlord said. "Now, what do you reckon on
"The place is among the hills, Pete, and the Utes are hostile, and went
very nigh rubbing us all out. We reckon it ought to be worked by a party
of thirty men at least. They ought to be well armed, and must build a
sort of fort. I don't think the Utes would venture to attack them if
they were of that strength. There is a little stream runs close to the
vein, and if it were dammed up it would drive a couple of stamps, which,
with a concentrator and tables and blankets, would be quite enough for
such stuff as that. I reckon fifteen men will be quite enough to work,
and to hold the fort. The other fifteen men would include three or four
hunters, and the rest would go backwards and forwards to Bridger for
supplies, and to take the gold down. They would be seven or eight days
away at a time; and if there should be trouble with the red-skins they
would always be back before those at the fort were really pressed. But
we should not be alone long, the news that a rich thing had been struck
would bring scores of miners up in no time.
"We have taken up our own ten claims, which will include, of course, the
rich part. Then we have taken up the next eight or ten claims for our
friends. As I said, we put yours next to ours. We have not registered
them yet, but that will be the first job; and of course you and the
others will each have to put a man on your claims to hold them. The lode
shows on the other side of the creek, though not so rich; still plenty
good enough to work. But as we shall practically get all the water, the
lode cannot be worked by anyone but ourselves. Still the gravel is rich
all down the creek, as rich as anything I have seen in California, and
will be sure to be taken up by miners as soon as we are at work. So
there will be no real danger of trouble from the Indians then. What we
propose is this. We don't what to sell out, we think it is good enough
to hold, but we want to get a company to find the money for getting up
the machinery, building a strong block-house with a palisade, laying in
stores, and working the place. Jerry, Tom, and I would of course be in
command, at any rate for the first year or so, when the rich stuff was
"How much money do you think it will want, and what share do you think
of giving, Harry?"
"Well, I should say fifty thousand dollars, though I believe half that
would be enough. Not a penny would be required after the first ton of
rock goes through the stamps. But we should have to take the stamps and
ironwork from the railway terminus to Bridger, and then down. We might
calculate on a month or six weeks in getting up the fort, making the
leat and water-wheel, putting up the machinery, and laying down the
flumes. Say two months from the time we leave Bridger to the time we
begin to work. There would be the pay of the men all that time, the cost
of transporting stores, and all that sort of thing; so it would be
better to say fifty thousand dollars. What share ought we to offer for
"Well, if you could bring that five hundredweight of stuff here and get
it crushed up, and it turns out as good as you say, I could get you the
money in twenty-four hours. I would not mind going half of it myself,
and I should say that a quarter share would be more than good enough."
"Well, we thought of a third, Pete."
"Well, if you say a third you may consider that part of the business is
done. You won't be able to apply for claims in the names of Sam and Ben,
and if you did it would be no good, because they could not assign them
over to the company. There are eight claims without them, and the one
you have put down in my name is nine. Well, I can get say eleven men in
this place, who will give you an assignment of their claims for five
dollars apiece. That is done every day. I just say to them, I am
registering a share in your name in the Tom Cat Mine, write an
assignment to me of it and I am good for five dollars' worth of liquor,
take it out as you like. The thing is as easy as falling off a log.
Well, what are you thinking of doing next?"
"We shall buy a light waggon and team to-morrow or next day and drive
straight over to Bridger, then we shall go to Salt Lake City and
register our claims at the mining-office there. We need not give the
locality very precisely. Indeed, we could not describe it ourselves so
that anyone could find it, and nobody would go looking for it before
spring comes and the snow clears. Besides, there are scores of wild-cat
claims registered every year. Until they turn out good no one thinks
anything of them. When we have got that done we will go back to Bridger,
and fetch the rock over here. We will write to-morrow to Pittsburg for
the mining outfit, for all the ironwork of the stamps, the concentrator,
and everything required, with axes, picks, and shovels, blasting tools
and powder, to be sent as far as they have got the railway."
"But they will want the money with the order, Harry," Pete said in a
tone of surprise.
"They will have the money. We washed the gravel for a couple of months
before the Utes lit on us, and after buying horses and a fresh outfit
for us all at Fort Mojarve, we have between us got something like five
thousand dollars in gold and greenbacks."
"Jee-hoshaphat!" Pete exclaimed; "that was good indeed for two months'
work. Well, look here, there is no hurry for a few days about your
starting back to Bridger. Here we are now, nearly at the end of
December. It will take you a month to get there, say another fortnight
to go on to Salt Lake City and register your claim and get back to
Bridger, then it would be a month getting back here again; that would
take you to the middle of March. Well, you see it would be pretty nigh
the end of April before you were back at Bridger, then you would have to
get your waggons and your men, and that would be too late altogether.
"You have got to pick your miners carefully, I can tell you; and it is
not a job to be done in a hurry. When they see what gold there is in the
rock they will soon set to work washing the gravel, and the day they do
they will chuck up your work altogether. I will tell you what I would
rather do, and that is, pick up green hands from the east. There are
scores of them here now; men who have come as far as this, and can't
start west till the snows melt. You need not think anything more about
the money. You tell me what you crushed is a fair sample of that five
hundred pounds, and that is quite good enough for me, and the gravel
being so rich is another proof of what the lode was when the stream cut
through it. I can put the twenty-five thousand dollars down, and there
are plenty of men here who will take my word for the affair and plank
their money down too. If there weren't I would put a mortgage on my
houses, so that matter is done. To-morrow I will get the men whose names
you are to give in for a claim each; it will be time in another two
months to begin to look about for some steady chaps from the east,
farmers' sons and such like. That is, if you think that plan is a good
one. I mean to see this thing through, and I shall go with you myself,
and we three can do the blasting."
"We shall be wanted to look after the stamps and pans," Harry said. "We
had best get three or four old hands for the rock."
"Yes, that is best," Pete said. "Between us it is hard if we can't lay
our hands upon men we can trust, and who will give us their word to stay
with us if we offer them six dollars a day."
"We might offer them ten dollars," Harry said, "without hurting
ourselves; but we can say six dollars to begin with, and put some more
"There is old Mat Morgan," Jerry put in. "I don't know whether he is
about here now. I would trust him. He is getting old for prospecting
among the hills now, but he is as good a miner as ever swung a
sledge-hammer, and as straight as they make them."
"Yes, he is a good man," Pete agreed. And after some talk they settled
upon three others, all of whom, Pete said, were either in the town or
would be coming in shortly.
"Now, you stop here for a week or two, or a month if you like, Harry,
then you can go to Salt Lake City as you propose, and then go back to
Bridger. If as you pass through you send me five-and-twenty pounds of
that rock by express, it will make it easier for me to arrange the money
affair. When you get back you might crush the rest up and send me word
what it has panned out, then later on you can go down again to Salt Lake
City and buy the waggons and flour and bacon, and take them back to
Bridger. When March comes in, I will start from here with some waggons.
We want them to take the machinery, and powder and tools, and the tea
and coffee and things like that, of which we will make a list, on to
Bridger, with the four men we pick out, if I can get them all; if not,
some others in their place, and a score of young emigrants. I shall have
no difficulty in picking out sober, steady chaps, for in a place like
this I can find out about their habits before I engage them. However,
there will be plenty of time to settle all those points. Now, let us
hear all about your adventures. I have not heard about you since Tom
left, except that he wrote me a short letter from Bridger saying that
you had passed the winter up among the mountains by the Big Wind River.
That you had had troubles with the Indians, and hadn't been able to do
much trapping or looking for gold."
"Well, we will tell it between us," Harry said, "for it is a long yarn."
It was, indeed, past midnight before the story was all told. Long before
it was finished the two Indians had taken up their rugs and gone up to
their room, and although the other three had taken by turns to tell the
tale of their adventures, they were all hoarse with speaking by the time
they got through. Pete had often stopped them to ask question at various
points where the narrators had been inclined to cut the story short.
"That beats all," he said, when they brought it to an end. "Only to
think that you have gone down the Grand Canon. I would not have minded
being with you when you were fighting the 'Rappahoes or the Utes, but I
would not try going down the canons for all the gold in California.
Well, look here, boys, I know that what you tell me is gospel truth, and
all the men who know you well, will believe every word you say, but I
would not tell the tale to strangers, for they would look on you as the
all-firedest liars in creation."
"We have learnt that already, Pete," Harry laughed, "and we mean to keep
it to ourselves, at any rate till we have got the mine at work. People
may not believe the story of a man in a red shirt, and, mind you, I have
heard a good many powerful lies told round a miner's fire, but when it
is known we have got a wonderfully rich gold mine, I fancy it will be
different. The men would say, if fellows are sharp enough to find a
bonanza, it stands to reason they may be sharp enough to find their way
down a canon. Now, let us be off to bed, for the heat of the stove has
made me so sleepy that for the last hour I have hardly been able to keep
my eyes open, and have scarcely heard a word of what Jerry and Tom have
They only remained a few days at Denver. After the life they had been
leading they were very speedily tired of that of the town, and at the
end of a week they started on horseback, with a light waggon drawn by a
good team, to carry their stores for the journey and to serve as a
sleeping-place. There had been no question about the Indians
accompanying them, this was regarded as a matter of course. It was by no
means a pleasant journey. They had frequent snow-storms and biting
wind, and had sometimes to work for hours to get the waggon out of deep
snow, which had filled up gullies and converted them into traps. After a
stay of three days at Fort Bridger to rest the animals, they went on to
Utah, having forwarded the sample of quartz to Pete Hoskings.
A fortnight was spent at Salt Lake City. Waggons, bullocks, and stores
were purchased, and Harry arranged with some teamsters to bring the
waggons out to Fort Bridger as soon as the snow cleared from the ground.
On their return to Fort Bridger Harry and his companions pounded up the
quartz that had been left there, and found that its average equalled
that of the piece they had tried at the mine. The gold was packed in a
box and sent to Pete Hoskings. A letter came back in return from him,
saying that five of his friends had put in five thousand dollars each,
and that he should start with the stores and machinery as soon as the
track was clear of snow. The season was an early one, and in the middle
of April he arrived with four large waggons and twenty active-looking
young emigrants, and four miners, all of whom were known to Harry. There
was a good deal of talk at Bridger about the expedition, and many
offered to take service in it. But when Harry said that the lode they
were going to prospect was in the heart of the Ute country, and that he
himself had been twice attacked by the red-skins, the eagerness to
accompany him abated considerably.
The fact, too, that it was a vein that would have to be worked by
machinery, was in itself sufficient to deter solitary miners from trying
to follow it up. Scarce a miner but had located a score of claims in
different parts of the country, and these being absolutely useless to
them, without capital to work them with, they would gladly have disposed
of them for a few dollars. It was not, therefore, worth while to risk a
perilous journey merely on the chance of being able to find another vein
in the neighbourhood of that worked by Harry and the men who had gone
into it with him. There was, however, some surprise among the old hands
when Pete Hoskings arrived with the waggons.
"What! Have you cut the saloon, Pete, and are you going in for mining
again?" one of them said as he alighted from his horse.
Pete gave a portentous wink.
"I guess I know what I am doing, Joe Radley. I am looking after the
interests of a few speculators at Denver, who have an idea that they are
going to get rich all of a sudden. I was sick of the city, and it just
suited me to take a run and to get out of the place for a few months."
"Do you think it is rich, Pete?"
"One never can say," Hoskings replied with a grin. "We are not
greenhorns any of us, and we know there is no saying how things are
going to turn out. Straight Harry has had a run of bad luck for the last
two years, and I am glad to give him a shoulder up, you know. I reckon
he won't come badly off any way it turns out."
It was not much, but it was quite enough to send a rumour round the fort
that Pete Hoskings had been puffing up a wild-cat mine in Denver for the
sake of getting Straight Harry appointed boss of the expedition to test
Everything was ready at Bridger, and they delayed but twenty-four hours
there. The teams had arrived from Salt Lake City with the stores a week
before, and the eight waggons set off together. Pete, the three
partners, the two Indians, and the four miners were all mounted. There
were eight other horses ridden by as many of the young fellows Pete had
brought with him, the rest walked on foot. They marched directly for the
mine, as with such a force it was not necessary to make a detour over
the bad lands. At the first halting-place some long cases Pete had
brought with him were opened, and a musket handed to each of the
emigrants, together with a packet of ammunition.
"Now," Pete said, "if the Utes meddle with us we will give them fits.
But I reckon they will know better than to interfere with us."
The rate of progress with the heavy waggons was necessarily very much
slower than that at which the party had travelled on their previous
journey, and it was not until the afternoon of the eighth day after
starting, that they came down into the valley. A halt was made at the
former camping-place in the grove of trees, and the next morning Pete
and the miners went up with Harry and his friends to choose a spot for
the fort, and to examine the lode. As soon as the earth was scraped away
from the spot from which the rock had been taken, exclamations of
astonishment broke from the miners. They had been told by Pete that
Harry had struck it rich, but all were astonished at the numerous
particles and flakes of gold that protruded from the rock. Pete had
forwarded early in the spring to Harry the list of the claimants to the
mine, and the latter and Tom had ridden over to Salt Lake City a few
days before the waggons came up from there to register the claims at the
mining-office, and the first step was to stake out these claims upon the
"It doesn't run like this far," Harry said to the miners, "and I reckon
that beyond our ground it doesn't run above two ounces to the ton, so I
don't think it is worth while your taking up claims beyond. Of course,
you can do so if you like, and we will allow you an hour off every few
days during the season to work your claims enough to keep possession,
and of an evening you can do a bit of washing down below. You will find
it good-pay dirt everywhere. At least we did as far as we tried it."
They now fixed on the site for the fort. It was upon the top of the
bank, some twenty yards above the lode, and it was settled there should
be a strong double palisade running down from it to the stream, so that
in case of siege they could fetch water without being exposed to the
bullets of an enemy taking post higher up the creek. Among the men from
Denver were two or three experienced carpenters, and a blacksmith, for
whose use a portable forge had been brought in the waggons.
The party returned to breakfast, and as soon as this was over the teams
were put in and the waggons were brought up and unloaded, the stores
being protected from wet by the canvas that formed the tilts. Some of
the men accustomed to the use of the axe had been left in the valley to
fell trees, and as soon as the waggons were unloaded they were sent down
to bring up timber. All worked hard, and at the end of the week a
log-hut fifty feet long and twenty-five feet wide had been erected. The
walls were five feet high, and the roof was formed of the trunks of
young trees squared, and laid side by side.
As rain fell seldom in that region it was not considered necessary to
place shingles over them, as this could, in case of need, be done later
on. The door opened out into the passage between the palisades down to
the water, and the windows were all placed on the same side, loopholes
being cut at short intervals round the other three sides. Another
fortnight completed the preparations for work. The stamps were erected,
with the water-wheel to work them; the stream dammed a hundred yards up,
and a leat constructed to bring the water down to the wheel.
The waggons were formed up in a square. In this the horses were shut
every night, four of the men by turns keeping guard there. During the
last few days the miners had been at work blasting the quartz, and as
soon as the stamps and machinery were in position they were ready to
begin. The men were all told off to various duties, some to carry the
rock down to the stamps, others to break it up into convenient sizes;
two men fed the stamps, others attended to the concentrator and
blankets, supervised by Harry. It was the duty of some to take the
horses down to the valley and guard them while they were feeding, and
bring them back at night. Two men were to bake and cook, Pete Hoskings
taking this special department under his care. Jerry worked with the
miners, and Tom was his uncle's assistant.
The stamps were to be kept going night and day, and each could crush a
ton in twenty-four hours. To their great satisfaction each of the men
was allowed one day a week to himself, during which he could prospect
for other lodes or wash gravel as he pleased. The old cradle was found
where it had been left, and as five of the men were off duty each day,
they formed themselves into gangs and worked the cradle by turns, adding
very considerably to the liberal pay they received. The two Indians
hunted, and seldom returned without game of some sort or other. As the
quicksilver in the concentrator was squeezed by Harry or Tom, and the
blankets washed by them, none but themselves knew what the returns were.
They and their partners were, however, more than satisfied with the
result, for although the lode was found to pinch in as they got lower,
it maintained for the first six weeks the extraordinary average of that
they had first crushed.
At the end of that time the Indians reported that they had seen traces
of the Utes having visited the valley. The number of men who went down
with the horses was at once doubled, one or other of the Indians staying
down with them, preceding them in the morning by half an hour to see
that the valley was clear. A week later the horses were seen coming back
again a quarter of an hour after they had started. The men caught up
their guns, which were always placed handy for them while at work, and
ran out to meet the returning party.
"What is it, Hunting Dog?"
"A large war-party," the Indian replied. "Three hundred or more."
The horses were driven into the inclosure, half the men took their
places among the waggons, and the others, clustered round the hut,
prepared to enter it as soon as the Indians made their appearance.
The partners had already arranged what course to take if the Indians
should come down on them, and were for all reasons most anxious that
hostilities should if possible be avoided.
Presently the Indians were seen approaching at a gallop. As soon as they
caught sight of the log-house and the inclosure of waggons they reined
in their horses. The men had been ordered to show themselves, and the
sight of some forty white men all armed with rifles brought the Indians
to a dead stand-still.
Pete Hoskings went forward a little and waved a white cloth, and then
Harry and the chief, leaving their rifles behind them stepped up to his
side and held their arms aloft. There was a short consultation among the
Indians, and then two chiefs dismounted, handed their rifles and spears
to their men, and in turn advanced. Harry and Leaping Horse went forward
until they met the chiefs halfway between the two parties. Harry began
"Why do my red brothers wish to fight?" he asked. "We are doing them no
harm. We are digging in the hills. Why should we not be friends?"
"The white men killed many of the Utes when they were here last year,"
one of the chiefs replied. "Why do they come upon the Utes' land?"
"It was the fault of the Utes," Harry said. "The white men wished only
to work in peace. The Utes tried to take their scalps, and the white men
were forced against their will to fight. No one can be blamed for
defending his life. We wish for peace, but, as the Utes can see, we are
quite ready to defend ourselves. There are forty rifles loaded and
ready, and, as you may see, a strong house. We have no fear. Last time
we were but few, but the Utes found that it was not easy to kill us. Now
we are many, and how many of the Utes would die before they took our
scalps? Nevertheless we wish for peace. The land is the land of the
Utes, and although we are strong and could hold it if we chose, we do
not wish to take it by force from our red brothers. We are ready to pay
for the right to live and work quietly. Let the chiefs go back to their
friends and talk together, and say how many blankets and how many guns
and what weight of ammunition and tobacco they will be content with.
Then if they do not ask too much, the white men will, so long as they
remain here, pay that amount each year in order that they may live in
peace with the Utes."
The two Indians glanced at each other. "My white brother is wise," one
said. "Why did he not tell the Utes so last year?"
"Because you never gave us time, chief. If you had done so we would have
said the same to you then, and your young men would be with you now; but
you came as enemies upon us, and when the rifle is speaking the voice is
"I will speak with my braves," the chief said gravely. And turning round
they walked back to their party, while Harry and the chief returned to
"What do you think, chief? Will it be peace?"
Leaping Horse nodded. "Too many rifles," he said. "The Utes will know
they could never take block-house."
It was nearly two hours before the two Utes advanced as before, and
Harry and the Seneca went out to meet them.
"My white brother's words are good," the chief said. "The Utes are great
warriors, but they do not wish to fight against the white men who come
as friends. The chiefs have talked with their braves, and the hatchets
will be buried. This is what the Utes ask that the white men who have
taken their land shall pay them."
Harry had arranged that the chief, who spoke the Ute language more
perfectly than he did, should take charge of the bargaining. On the list
being given Leaping Horse assumed an expression of stolid indifference.
"The land must be very dear in the Ute country," he said. "Do my
brothers suppose that the white men are mad that they ask such terms?
Peace would be too dear if bought at such a price. They are willing to
deal liberally with the Utes, but not to give as much as would buy
twenty hills. They will give this." And he enumerated a list of
articles, amounting to about one quarter of the Indians' demands.
The bargaining now went on in earnest, and finally it was settled that a
quantity of goods, amounting to about half the Indians' first demand,
should be accepted, and both parties returned to their friends well
A certain amount of goods had been brought out with a view to such a
contingency, and half the amount claimed was handed over to the Utes.
They had, indeed, more than enough to satisfy the demands, but Leaping
Horse had suggested to Harry that only a portion should be given, as
otherwise the Indians might suppose that their wealth was boundless. It
would be better to promise to deliver the rest in three months' time. A
dozen of the principal men of the Utes came over. The goods were
examined and accepted, the calumet of peace was smoked and a solemn
covenant of friendship entered into, and by the next morning the Indians
One end of the hut had been partitioned off for the use of the leaders
of the party, and the gold obtained each day was carried by them there
and deposited in a strong iron box, of which several had been brought by
Pete Hoskings from Denver.
The day after the Indians left, a waggon, was sent off under the escort
of eight mounted labourers to Bridger, and this continued to make the
journey backward and forward regularly with the boxes of gold, Jerry and
Pete Hoskings taking it by turns to command the escort. Harry and Pete
had had a talk with the officer in command at Bridger on the evening
before they had started on the expedition.
"You think you are going to send in a large quantity of gold?" the
"If the mines are such as we think, Major, we may be sending down two or
three hundredweight a month."
"Of course, the gold will be perfectly safe as long as it is in the
fort, but if it gets known how much there is, you will want a strong
convoy to take it across to the railway, and it would not be safe even
then. Of course, the bulk is nothing. I should say at any rate you had
better get it in here with as little fuss as possible."
"If you will keep it here for awhile," Pete said, "we will think over
afterwards how it is to be taken further."
The officer nodded. "It mayn't turn out as difficult a business as you
think," he said with a smile. "You are both old hands enough to know
that mines very seldom turn out as rich as they are expected to do."
"We both know that," Pete Hoskings agreed. "I dunno as I ever did hear
of a mine that turned out anything nigh as good as it ought to have done
from samples, but I reckon that this is going to be an exception."
When within a few miles of the fort the escort always placed their
rifles in the waggon and rode on some distance ahead of it, only one or
two with their leader remaining by it. The boxes, which were of no great
size, were covered by a sack or two thrown down in the corner of the
waggon, and on its arrival in the fort it was taken first to the store,
where a considerable quantity of provisions, flour, molasses, bacon, tea
and sugar, currants and raisins, and other articles were purchased and
placed in it. This was the ostensible purpose of the journey to the
fort. Late in the evening Jerry or Pete, whichever happened to be the
leader, and one of the men, carried the boxes across to the Major's
quarters and stored them in a cellar beneath it.
There was a real need of provisions at the mine, for the population of
the valley rapidly increased as the season went on. The upper part of
the bed of the stream had been staked out into claims, the miners and
other men each taking up one, but below them the ground was of course
open to all, and although not nearly so rich as the upper gravel it was
good enough to pay fairly for working. A stout palisading now surrounded
the ground taken up by the machinery and the mine itself, and no one
except those engaged by the company were allowed to enter here.
Considerable surprise was felt in the camp when the first two or three
miners came up and staked out claims on the stream.
"I wonder how they could have heard of it," Tom said to his uncle.
"The fact that we are remaining out here is enough to show that we are
doing something, anyhow. The men who go in are always strictly ordered
to say no word about what our luck is, but the mere fact that they hold
their tongues--and you may be sure they are questioned sharply--is
enough to excite curiosity, and these men have come to find out and see
what the country is like, and to prospect the hills round where we are
working. You will see a lot of them here before long."
As more came up it was determined to open a store. In the first place it
furnished an explanation for the waggon going down so often, and in the
second the fact that they were ready to sell provisions at cost prices
would deter others from coming and setting up stores. There was no
liquor kept on the mine, and Pete and Harry were very anxious that no
places for its sale should be opened in the valley.
During the winter and spring Tom had received several letters from his
sisters. They expressed themselves as very grateful for the money that
he and their uncle had sent on their return to Denver, but begged them
to send no more, as the school was flourishing and they were perfectly
able to meet all their expenses. "It is very good of you, Tom," Carry
said. "Of course, we are all very pleased to know that you have been
able to send the money, because it relieves our anxiety about you; but
we really don't want it, and it makes us afraid that you are stinting
yourself. Besides, even if you are not, it would be much better for you
to keep the money, as you may find some opportunity of using it to your
advantage, while here it would only lie in the bank and do no good. It
would be different if we had nothing to fall back upon in case of
anything happening, such as some of us getting ill, or our having a case
of fever in the school, or anything of that sort, but as we have only
used fifty pounds of mother's money we have plenty to go on with for a
very long time; so that really we would very much rather you did not
send us any over. Now that we know your address and can write to you at
Fort Bridger, it seems to bring you close to us. But we have had two
very anxious times; especially the first, when we did not hear of you
for six months. The second time was not so bad, as you had told us that
it might be a long time before we should hear, and we were prepared for
it, but I do hope it will never be so long again."
There had been some discussion as to whether the mine should be shut
down in winter, but it was soon decided that work should go on
regularly. Six more stamps were ordered to be sent from the east, with a
steam-engine powerful enough to work the whole battery, and in September
this and other machinery had reached the mine. Fresh buildings had been
erected--a storehouse, a house for the officers, and a shed covering the
whole of the machinery and yard. By the time this was all ready and in
place the valley below was deserted, the gravel having been washed out
to the bed-rock. No other lodes of sufficient richness to work had been
discovered by the prospectors, and with winter at hand there was no
inducement for them to stay longer there.
Only two or three of the men at the mine wished to leave when their
engagement for the season terminated. All had been well paid, and had in
addition made money at gold-washing. Their food had been excellent, and
their comforts attended to in all ways. Accordingly, with these
exceptions all were ready to renew their engagements.
An arrangement was made with the Major at Fort Bridger for an escort
under a subaltern officer to proceed with two waggons with the treasure
to Denver. Pete Hoskings and Jerry were to remain as managers of the
mine throughout the winter. Harry and Tom had made up their minds to go
to England and to return in the spring. The ore was now very much poorer
than it had been at first. The lode had pinched out below and they had
worked some distance along it. The falling off, however, was only
relative; the mine was still an extraordinarily rich one, although it
contained little more than a tenth of the gold that had been extracted
from the first hundred and fifty tons crushed.
None but Harry, Pete Hoskings, Jerry, and Tom had any idea of the amount
of gold extracted in less than six months, although the miners were well
aware that the amount must be very large. It was so indeed, for after
repaying the amount expended in preliminary expenses, together with the
new machinery, the wages of the men, provisions, and all outgoings, they
calculated the treasure sent down to be worth one hundred and
twenty-eight thousand pounds, while the mine if sold would fetch at
least double that sum. After a hearty farewell to Pete and Jerry, Harry
and Tom with the two Indians rode with the last waggon down to Bridger.
The iron boxes had all been sewn up in deer-skins when they were sent
down, and at night they were placed in the waggons by Harry and his
companions. Over them were placed the provisions for the journey, as it
was just as well that even the soldiers should not suspect the amount of
treasure they were escorting.
They encountered some severe snow-storms by the way, but reached Denver
without incident. The place had wonderfully changed since Tom had
arrived there more than two years before. It had trebled in size; broad
streets and handsome houses had been erected, and the town had spread in
all directions. They drove straight to the bank, to which Pete Hoskings
had sent down a letter a fortnight before they had started, and the
boxes were taken out of the waggon and carried down into the vaults of
the bank. A handsome present was made to each of the soldiers of the
escort, a brace of revolvers was given by Harry to the subaltern, and
the handsomest watch and chain that could be purchased in Denver was
sent by him to the Major, with an inscription expressing the thanks of
the company to him for his kindness.
"Well, Tom, I am thankful that that is off my mind," Harry said. "I have
had a good many troubles in the course of my life, but this is the first
time that money has ever been a care to me. Well, we are rich men, Tom,
and we shall be richer, for the mine will run another two or three years
before it finishes up the lode as far as we have traced it, and as we
have now filed claims for a quarter of a mile farther back, it may be
good for aught I know for another ten years. Not so good as it has been
this year, but good enough to give handsome profits. Have you calculated
what our share is?"
"No, uncle. I know it must be a lot, but I have never thought about what
each share will be."
"Well, to begin with, a third of it goes to Pete Hoskings and his
friends, that leaves eighty-five thousand. The remainder is divided into
seven shares; I was to have two, the Indians three between them, you
one, and Jerry one. His share is then about twelve thousand, which
leaves seventy-three thousand between you and me. Of course, we shall
"No, indeed, uncle; that would be ridiculous. I have been of very little
use through it all, and I certainly ought not to have as much as Jerry.
You and the chief discovered it, and it was entirely owing to you that
any of the rest of us have a share of the profits, and of course your
arrangement with the two Indians is only because the chief is so fond of
"Partly that, Tom; but chiefly because it is in accordance with red-skin
customs. They are hunters, fighters, and guides, but they are not
miners, and they never go in for shares in an enterprise of this sort.
It went very much against the grain for Leaping Horse to take that three
or four hundred pounds that came to him at the end of the last
expedition, and he would be seriously offended if I were to press upon
him more than his ordinary payment now; he would say that he has been
simply hunting this year, that he has run no risks, and has had nothing
to do with the mine. To-morrow morning we will go out to see what there
is in the way of horse-flesh in Denver, and will buy him and Hunting Dog
the two best horses in the town, whatever they may cost, with saddles,
bridles, new blankets, and so on. If I can get anything special in the
way of rifles I shall get a couple of them, and if not I shall get them
in New York, and send them to him at Bridger. These are presents he
would value infinitely more than all the gold we have stowed away in the
bank to-day. He is going back to his tribe for the winter, and he and
Hunting Dog will be at the mine before us next spring."
In the morning Harry was two hours at the bank, where he saw the gold
weighed out, and received a receipt for the value, which came to within
a hundred pounds of what they had calculated, as the dust had been very
carefully weighed each time it was sent off. In accordance with the
arrangement he had made with Pete Hoskings and Jerry the amount of their
respective shares was placed to their credit at the bank. Drawing a
thousand pounds in cash, he received a draft for the rest upon a firm at
New York, where he would be able to exchange it for one on London. He
then inquired at the hotel as to who was considered to possess the best
horses in the town, and as money was no object to him, he succeeded in
persuading the owners to sell two splendid animals; these with the
saddles were sent to the hotel. He then bought two finely finished
Sharpe's rifles of long range, and two brace of silver-mounted
"Now, Tom," he said, "I shall give one of these outfits to the chief and
you give the other to Hunting Dog; he has been your special chum since
we started, and the presents will come better from you than from me. I
expect them here in half an hour; I told them I should be busy all the
The two Indians were delighted with their presents, even the chief being
moved out of his usual impassive demeanour. "My white brothers are too
good. Leaping Horse knows that Straight Harry is his friend; he does not
want presents to show him that; but he will value them because he loves
his white brothers, even more than for themselves." As for Hunting Dog,
he was for a long time incredulous that the splendid horse, the rifle
and pistols could really be for him, and he was so exuberant in his
delight that it was not until Leaping Horse frowned at him severely that
he subsided into silent admiration of the gifts.
"Here are papers, chief, that you and Hunting Dog had better keep: they
are the receipts for the two horses, and two forms that I have had
witnessed by a lawyer, saying that we have given you the horses in token
of our gratitude for the services that you have rendered; possibly you
may find them useful. You may fall in with rough fellows who may make a
pretence that the horses have been stolen. Oh, yes! I know that you can
hold your own; still, it may avoid trouble."
They had now no further use for their horses, so these were sold for a
few pounds. They purchased a stock of clothes sufficient only for their
journey to England.
"You may as well put your revolver in your pocket, Tom," Harry said as
they prepared to start the next day. "I have sewn up the draft in the
lining of my coat, but sometimes a train gets held up and robbed, and as
we have six hundred pounds in gold and notes in our wallets, I certainly
should not give it up without a fight."
The Indians accompanied them to the station. "Now, chief, you take my
advice and look out for a nice wife before next spring. You are forty
now, and it is high time you thought of settling down."
"Leaping Horse will think over it," the Seneca said gravely. "It may be
that in the spring he will have a wigwam in the valley."
A few minutes later the train started east, and five days later they
reached New York. A steamer left the next day for England, and in this
they secured two first-class berths; and although Tom had managed very
well on his way out, he thoroughly enjoyed the vastly superior comfort
of the homeward trip. They went straight through to Southampton, for, as
Harry said, they could run up to London and get their clothes any day;
and he saw that Tom was in a fever of excitement to get home. Harriet
came to the door of the little house at Southsea when they knocked. She
looked surprised at seeing two gentlemen standing there. In the two
years and a half that had passed since Tom had left he had altered
greatly. He had gone through much toil and hardship, and the bronze of
the previous summer's sun was not yet off his cheeks; he had grown four
or five inches, and the man's work that he had been doing had made
almost a man of him.
"Don't you know me, Harriet?" Tom said.
The girl at once recognized the voice, and with a loud cry of delight
threw her arms round his neck. The cry brought Carry out from the
parlour. "Why, Harriet," she exclaimed, "have you gone mad?"
"Don't you see it's Tom?" Harriet said, turning round, laughing and
"It is Tom, sure enough, Carry; you need not look so incredulous; and
this is Uncle Harry."
There were a few minutes of wild joy, then they calmed down and
assembled in the sitting-room.
"It is lucky the girls have all gone home to dinner," Carry said, "or
they would certainly have carried the news to their friends that we were
all mad. It is a half-holiday too, nothing could be more fortunate. Now
we want to hear everything. Tom's letters were so short and
unsatisfactory, uncle, that he told us next to nothing, except that you
had found a mine, and that you were both working there, and that it was
"Well, my dears, that is the pith of the thing," Harry said. "The first
thing for you to do is to send round notes to the mothers of these
children saying that from unforeseen circumstances you have retired from
the profession, and that the school has finally closed from this
There was a general exclamation from the girls:
"What do you mean, uncle?"
"I mean what I say, girls. Tom and I have made our fortunes, and there
is no occasion for you to go on teaching any longer. We have not yet
made any plans for the future, but at any rate the first step is, that
there is to be no more teaching."
"But are you quite, quite sure, uncle?" Carry said doubtfully. "We are
getting on very nicely now, and it would be a pity to lose the
Harry and Tom both laughed.
"Well, my girl," the former said, "that is of course a point to be
thought of. But as Tom and I have over thirty-five thousand pounds
apiece, and the mine will bring us in a good round sum for some years to
come, I think we can afford to run the risk of the connection going."
After that it was a long while before they settled down to talk quietly
A week later they all went up to London for a month, while what Harry
called "outfits" were purchased for the girls, as well as for him and
Tom, and all the sights of London visited. Before their story came to an
end, the grand consultation as to future plans had been held, and a
handsome house purchased at Blackheath.
Tom did not return to Utah in the spring; his uncle strongly advised him
not to do so.
"I shall go back myself, Tom; partly because I should feel like a fish
out of water with nothing to do here, partly because I promised the
chief to go back for a bit every year. I am beginning to feel dull
already, and am looking forward to the trip across the water, but it
will certainly be better for you to stay at home. You left school early,
you see, and it would be a good thing for you to get a man to come and
read with you for two or three hours a day for the next year or two. We
have settled that the three younger girls are to go to school; and I
don't see why you, Carry, and Janet, should not go, in the first place,
for two or three months on to the Continent. They have had a dull life
since you have been away, and the trip will be a treat for them, and
perhaps do you some good also. It will be time enough to settle down to
reading when you come back."
The mine returned large profits that year, the increased amount stamped
making up to some extent for the falling off in the value of the ore,
and the shares of the various proprietors were more than half what they
had been at the end of the first season's work. The third year it fell
off considerably. There was a further decrease the year after, and the
fifth year it barely paid its expenses, and it was decided to abandon
it. Harry Wade went over every season for many years, but spent only the
first at the mine. After that he went hunting expeditions with Leaping
Horse, who, to his amusement, had met him at his first return to the
mine with a pretty squaw, and Hunting Dog had also brought a wife with
him. Two wigwams were erected that year near the mine, but after that
they returned to their tribe, of which Leaping Horse became the leading
Tom's sisters all in due time married, each being presented on her
wedding-day with a cheque for ten thousand pounds, as a joint present
from her uncle and brother.
Tom himself did not remain a bachelor, but six years after his return to
England took a wife to himself, and the house at Blackheath was none too
large for his family. Harry Wade's home is with Tom, and he is still
hale and hearty. Up to the last few years he paid occasional visits to
America, and stayed for a while with his red brother Leaping Horse, when
they lamented together over the disappearance of game and the extinction
of the buffalo. Hunting Dog had, at Harry's urgent advice, settled down
in the ways of civilization, taking up a ranche and breeding cattle, of
which he now owns a large herd. Jerry Curtis and Pete Hoskings made a
journey together to Europe after the closing of the mine. They stayed
for a month at Blackheath, and ten years later Tom received a lawyer's
letter from Denver saying that Peter Hoskings was dead, and that he had
left his large house and other property in Denver to Mr. Thomas Wade's
children. Jerry still lives at the age of seventy-five in that city.
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