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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJoe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 35. The New Diggings
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Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 35. The New Diggings Post by :Lynne Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2083

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Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 35. The New Diggings


When lunch-was over, Joe said:

"Good day, Mr. Hogan. Look out for the grizzlies, and may you have better luck in future."

"Yes, Hogan, good by," said Joshua. "We make over to you all our interest in the bear. He meant to eat you. You can revenge yourself by eatin' him."

"Are you going to leave me, gentlemen?" asked Hogan in alarm.

"You don't expect us to stay and take care of you, do you?"

"Let me go with you," pleaded Hogan. "I am afraid to be left alone in this country. I may meet another grizzly, and lose my life."

"That would be a great loss to the world," said Mr. Bickford, with unconcealed sarcasm.

"It would be a great loss to me," said Hogan.

"Maybe that's the best way to put it," observed Bickford. "It would have been money in my friend Joe's pocket if you had never been born."

"May I go with you?" pleaded Hogan, this time addressing himself to Joe.

"Mr. Hogan," said Joe, "you know very well why your company is not acceptable to us."

"You shall have no occasion to complain," said Hogan earnestly.

"Do you want us to adopt you, Hogan?" asked Joshua.

"Let me stay with you till we reach the nearest diggings. Then I won't trouble you any more."

Joe turned to Bickford.

"If you don't object," he said, "I think I'll let him come."

"Let the critter come," said Bickford. "He'd be sure to choke any grizzly that tackled him. For the sake of the bear, let him come."

Mr. Hogan was too glad to join the party, on any conditions, to resent the tone which Mr. Bickford employed in addressing him. He obtained his suit, and the party of three kept on their way.

As they advanced the country became rougher and more hilly. Here and there they saw evidences of "prospecting" by former visitors. They came upon deserted claims and the sites of former camps. But in these places the indications of gold had not been sufficiently favorable to warrant continued work, and the miners had gone elsewhere.

At last, however, they came to a dozen men who were busily at work in a gulch. Two rude huts near-by evidently served as their temporary homes.

"Well, boys, how do you find it?" inquired Bickford, riding up.

"Pretty fair," said one of the party.

"Have you got room for three more?"

"Yes--come along. You can select claims alongside and go to work if you want to."

"What do you say, Joe?"

"I am in favor of it."

"We are going to put up here, Hogan," said Mr. Bickford. "You can do as you've a mind to. Much as we value your interestin' society, we hope you won't put yourself out to stay on our account."

"I'll stay," said Hogan.

Joe and Joshua surveyed the ground and staked out their claims, writing out the usual notice and posting it on a neighboring tree. They had not all the requisite tools, but these they were able to purchase at one of the cabins.

"What shall I do?" asked Hogan. "I'm dead broke. I can't work without tools, and I can't buy any."

"Do you want to work for me?" asked Joshua.

"What'll you give?"

"That'll depend on how you work. If you work stiddy, I'll give you a quarter of what we both make. I'll supply you with tools, but they'll belong to me."

"Suppose we don't make anything," suggested Hogan.

"You shall have a quarter of that. You see, I want to make it for your interest to succeed."

"Then I shall starve."

The bargain was modified so that Hogan was assured of enough to eat, and was promised, besides, a small sum of money daily, but was not to participate in the gains.

"If we find a nugget, it won't do you any good. Do you understand, Hogan?"

"Yes, I understand."

He shrugged his shoulders, having very little faith in any prospective nuggets.

"Then we understand each other. That's all I want."

On the second day Joe and Mr. Bickford consolidated their claims and became partners, agreeing to divide whatever they found. Hogan was to work for them jointly.

They did not find their hired man altogether satisfactory. He was lazy and shiftless by nature, and work was irksome to him.

"If you don't work stiddy, Hogan," said Joshua, "you can't expect to eat stiddy, and your appetite is pretty reg'lar, I notice."

Under this stimulus Hogan managed to work better than he had done since he came out to California, or indeed for years preceding his departure. Bickford and Joe had both been accustomed to farm work and easily lapsed into their old habits.

They found they had made a change for the better in leaving the banks of the Yuba. The claims they were now working paid them better.

"Twenty-five dollars to-day," said Joshua, a week after their arrival. "That pays better than hoeing pertaters, Joe."

"You are right, Mr. Bickford. You are ten dollars ahead of me. I am afraid you will lose on our partnership."

"I'll risk it, Joe."

Hogan was the only member of the party who was not satisfied.

"Can't you take me into partnership?" he asked.

"We can, but I don't think we will, Hogan," said Mr. Bickford.

"It wouldn't pay. If you don't like workin' for us, you can take a claim of your own."

"I have no tools."

"Why don't you save your money and buy some, instead of gamblin' it away as you are doin'?"

"A man must have amusement," grumbled Hogan. "Besides, I may have luck and win."

"Better keep clear of gamblin', Hogan."

"Mr. Hogan, if you want to start a claim of your own, I'll give you what tools you need," said Joe.

Upon reflection Hogan decided to accept this offer.

"But of course you will have to find your own vittles now," said Joshua.

"I'll do it," said Hogan.

The same day he ceased to work for the firm of Bickford & Mason, for Joe insisted on giving Mr. Bickford the precedence as the senior party, and started on his own account.

The result was that he worked considerably less than before. Being his own master, he decided not to overwork himself, and in fact worked only enough to make his board. He was continually grumbling over his bad luck, although Joshua told him plainly that it wasn't luck, but industry, he lacked.

"If you'd work like we do," said Bickford, "you wouldn't need to complain. Your claim is just as good as ours, as far as we can tell."

"Then let us go in as partners," said Hogan.

"Not much. You ain't the kind of partner I want."

"I was always unfortunate," said Hogan.

"You were always lazy, I reckon. You were born tired, weren't you?"

"My health ain't good," said Hogan. "I can't work like you two."

"You've got a healthy appetite," said Mr. Bickford. "There ain't no trouble there that I can see."

Mr. Hogan had an easier time than before, but he hadn't money to gamble with unless he deprived himself of his customary supply of food, and this he was reluctant to do.

"Lend me half-an-ounce of gold-dust, won't you?" he asked of Joe one evening.

"What do you want it for--to gamble with?"

"Yes," said Hogan. "I dreamed last night that I broke the bank. All I want is money enough to start me."

"I don't approve of gambling, and can't help you."

Hogan next tried Mr. Bickford, but with like result.

"I ain't quite such a fool, Hogan," said the plain-spoken Joshua.

About this time a stroke of good luck fell to Joe. bout three o'clock one afternoon he unearthed a nugget which, at a rough estimate, might be worth five hundred dollars.

Instantly all was excitement in the mining-camp, not alone for what he had obtained, but for the promise of richer deposits. Experienced miners decided that he had, struck upon what is popularly called a "pocket," and some of these are immensely remunerative.

"Shake hands, Joe," said Bickford. "You're in luck."

"So are you, Mr. Bickford. We are partners, you know."

In less than an hour the two partners received an offer of eight thousand dollars for their united claim, and the offer was accepted.

Joe was the hero of the camp. All were rejoiced at his good fortune except one. That one was Hogan, who from a little distance, jealous and gloomy, surveyed the excited crowd.

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