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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJoe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 24. Mr. Bickford, Of Pumpkin Hollow
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Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 24. Mr. Bickford, Of Pumpkin Hollow Post by :waytogo-store Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2972

Click below to download : Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 24. Mr. Bickford, Of Pumpkin Hollow (Format : PDF)

Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 24. Mr. Bickford, Of Pumpkin Hollow

CHAPTER XXIV. MR. BICKFORD, OF PUMPKIN HOLLOW

It may be thought that Joe was rash in deciding to leave his business in the hands of a man whose acquaintance he had made but twelve hours previous. But in the early history of California friendships ripened fast. There was more confidence between man and man, and I am assured that even now, though the State is more settled and as far advanced in civilization and refinement as any of her sister States on the Atlantic coast, the people are bound together by more friendly ties, and exhibit less of cold caution than at the East. At all events, Joe never dreamed of distrusting his new acquaintance. A common peril, successfully overcome, had doubtless something to do in strengthening the bond between them.

Joe went round to his friend Mr. Morgan and announced his intention.

"I don't think you will make money by your new plan, Joe," said Morgan.

"I don't expect to," said Joe, "but I want to see the mines. If I don't succeed, I can come back to my business here."

"That is true. I should like very well to go, too."

"Why won't you, Mr. Morgan?"

"I cannot leave my business as readily as you can. Do you feel confidence in this man whom you are leaving in charge?"

"Yes, sir. He has been unlucky, but I am sure he is honest."

"He will have considerable money belonging to you by the time you return--that is, if you stay any length of time."

"I want to speak to you about that, Mr. Morgan. I have directed him to make a statement to you once a month, and put in your hands what money comes to me--if it won't trouble you too much."

"Not at all, Joe. I shall be glad to be of service to you."

"If you meet with any good investment for the money while I am away, I should like to have you act for me as you would for yourself."

"All right, Joe."

Joe learned from Watson that the latter had been mining on the Yuba River, not far from the town of Marysville. He decided to go there, although he might have found mines nearer the city. The next question was, How should he get there, and should he go alone?

About this time a long, lank Yankee walked into the restaurant, one day, and, seating himself at a table, began to inspect the bill of fare which Joe used to write up every morning. He looked disappointed.

"Don't you find what you want?" inquired Joe.

"No," said the visitor. "I say, this is a queer country. I've been hankerin' arter a good dish of baked beans for a week, and ain't found any."

"We sometimes have them," said Joe. "Come here at one o'clock, and you shall be accommodated."

The stranger brightened up.

"That's the talk," said he. "I'll come."

"Have you just come out here?" asked Joe curiously.

"A week ago."

"Are you a Southerner?" asked Joe demurely.

"No, I guess not!" said the Yankee, with emphasis.

"I was raised in Pumpkin Hollow, State of Maine. I was twenty-one last first of April, but I ain't no April fool, I tell you. Dad and me carried on the farm till I, began to hear tell of Californy. I'd got about three hundred dollars saved up and I took it to come out here."

"I suppose you've come out to make your fortune?"

"Yes, sir-ee, that's just what I come for."

"How have you succeeded so far?"

"I've succeeded in spendin' all my money, except fifty dollars. I say, it costs a sight to eat and drink out here. I can't afford to take but one meal a day, and then I eat like all possessed."

"I should think you would, Mr.-------"

"Joshua Bickford--that's my name when I'm to hum."

"Well, Mr. Bickford, what are your plans?"

"I want to go out to the mines and dig gold. I guess I can dig as well as anybody. I've had experience in diggin' ever since I was ten year old."

"Not digging gold, I suppose?"

"Diggin' potatoes, and sich."

"I'm going to the mines myself, Mr. Bickford. What do you say to going along with me?"

"I'm on hand. You know the way, don't you?"

"We can find it, I have no doubt. I have never been there, but my friend Mr. Watson is an experienced miner."

"How much gold did you dig?" asked Joshua bluntly.

"Two thousand dollars," answered Watson, not thinking it necessary to add that he had parted with the money since at the gaming-table.

"Two thousand dollars?" exclaimed Joshua, duly impressed. "That's a heap of money!"

"Yes; it's a pretty good pile."

"I'd like to get that much. I know what I'd do."

"What would you do, Mr. Bickford?"

"I'd go home and marry Sukey Smith, by gosh!"

"Then I hope you'll get the money, for Miss Smith's sake."

"There's a feller hangin' round her," said Joshua, "kinder slick-lookin', with his hair parted in the middle; he tends in the dry-goods store; but, if I come home with two thousand dollars, she'll have me, I guess. Why, with two thousand dollars I can buy the farm next to dad's, with a house with five rooms into it, and a good-sized barn. I guess Sukey wouldn't say no to me then, but would change her name to Bickford mighty sudden."

"I hope you will succeed in your plans, Mr. Bickford."

"Seems to me you're kinder young to be out here," said Bickford, turning his attention to Joe.

"Yes; I am not quite old enough to think of marrying."

"Have you got money enough to get out to the mines?" asked Joshua cautiously.

"I think I can raise enough," said Joe, smiling.

"My young friend is the owner of this restaurant," said Watson.

"You don't say! I thought you hired him."

"No. On the contrary, I am in his employ. I have agreed to run the restaurant for him while he is at the mines.

"You don't say!" exclaimed Bickford, surveying our hero with curiosity. "Have you made much money in this eating-house?"

"I've done pretty well," said Joe modestly. "I own the building and the two adjoining lots."

"You don't say! How old be you?"

"Sixteen."

"You must be all-fired smart!"

"I don't know about that, Mr. Bickford. I've been lucky and fallen in with good friends."

"Well, I guess Californy's the place to make money. I ain't made any yet, but I mean to. There wasn't no chance to get ahead in Pumpkin Hollow. I was workin' for eight dollars a month and board."

"It would be a great while before you could save up money to buy a farm out of that, Mr. Bickford."

"That's so."

"My experience was something like yours. Before I came out here I was working on a farm."

"Sho!"

"And I didn't begin to get as much money as you. I was bound out to a farmer for my board and clothes. The board was fair but the clothes were few and poor."

"You don't say!"

"I hope you will be as lucky as I have been."

"How much are you worth now?" asked Joshua curiously.

"From one to two thousand dollars, I expect."

"Sho! I never did! How long have you been out here?"

"Three months."

"Je-rusalem! That's better than stayin' to hum."

"I think so."

By this time Mr. Bickford had completed his breakfast and in an anxious tone he inquired:

"What's the damage?"

"Oh, I won't charge you anything, as you are going to be my traveling companion," said Joe.

"You're a gentleman, by gosh!" exclaimed Mr. Bickford, in unrestrained delight.

"Come in at one o'clock and you shall have some of your favorite beans and nothing to pay. Can you start for the mines to-morrow?"

"Yes--I've got nothin' to prepare."

"Take your meals here till we go."

"Well, I'm in luck," said Bickford. "Victuals cost awful out here and I haven't had as much as I wanted to eat since I got here."

"Consider yourself my guest," said Joe, "and eat all you want to."

It may be remarked that Mr. Bickford availed himself of our young hero's invitation, and during the next twenty-four hours stowed away enough provisions to last an ordinary man for half a week.

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