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In tüe eariy days ot (Jaütornia - the olden days ot' gold, or the golden days of old as you please - in a certain miner's camp on the Yuba river, thero lived a queei genius named Armstrong. He was an houest uiiner, not difl'ering materially froui hi feüows, excepting that he had a curious habit ot' talking to himself. For the Bimple reason that he departed from coininon custom in this one particular, he was, of course, voted crazy by the other ininers. To cali all persons " crazy" who do not follow the customs of the majority is a constant habit with men. But day after day Armstrong worked away with his piek and shovel, caring nothing for the remaiks of his neighbors, and seemed to wish for no other partner in his toils or his rest, save the invisible personage whom he always addressed in the second persou singular, and with whoiii he was cilmost constantly in close and earnest conversation. Tüe common drift of his ,alk while at work would be as follows : " Rather tough work, Armstrong - rich lirt, though - grub a dollar a pound - no ime tö waste - pitch in, sir- hanged if I ion't wish I was in the States. This ïnining's mighty hard work. Nonsense, Armstrong ; what a fooi you are to be alking iu that way, with three ounces a ay right under your feeti and nothing to o but but just dig it out." His conversation would be duly punctuated with strokes of the piek and lifts ot' tho loaded shovel. And so the days would pass aloug, and Armstrong worked and slept and talked with his invisible partner Well, it happened, in due course of time that the class of human vampires, commonly called gamblers, made their appearance at the camp where Armstrong vorked. As he was not above followifig he example of his fellows, he paid the new corners a visit. It is the same old tory. After watohing the game awhile, ie concluded it was the simplest thing in lie world. So he tried his luck, and won - $100 ! Now, auy new experience would lways set Armstrong to thinking and alking to himself worse than ever. It was so this time. " Now, Armstrong," he aid, as he hesitated about going to his vork next morning, " that is the easiest ïundred dollars you ever made in your ife. What's the use of your going iiito a ïole in the ground to dig for three ounes a day? The tact is, Armstrong, you re sharp. You were not made for this eind of work. Suppose you just throw way your piek aud shovel, leave the lines, buy a suit of store clothes and dress up like a born gentleman, and go at some business that suits your talent." Armstrong was not long in putting these thoughts and sayings into action. He left the diggings and invested in line ciothes. He looked like another man, but h was still the same Armstrong, nevertheless. He was not long in findiug an opportunity to try a new profession. - Walking forth in his fresh outtit, he had ust concluded a long talk with himself a bout his bright proipects, when he halted in front of a large tent with a sign on it, " Miners' Rest." Armstrong went in. It did not seem to hfm that he remained very long, butit was longenough to work a wonderful revolution in his feelings. - When he came out he was a changed man - that is to say, he was a " changeless" man. He was thunderstruck, amazed, bewildered. He had lost his money, lost his new prospect, lost his self-conceit - lo&t everything but his new clothes and his old habit of talking to himself. It is useless to say that he was mad. Armstrong was very mad. But there was no one to be mad at but Armstrong himself, so self number two was in for a rough lectare. " Now, Armstrong, you are a nice specimen - you fooi - you bilk - you dead beat - you int Well, I need not repeat all the hard things he said. Like King Richard, he " found withiu himsolt' no pity tbr himself." But mere words were not sufficieut. It was a time for action. But Armstrong never once thought ot' shooting, drowning, hanging, or any other i'orm of suicide. He was altogether too original ns well as too sensible for that. Yet he was resolved upon soinething real and practical in the way of reformatory punishment. He feit the need of a self-imposed decree of bankruptcy that should render the present failure as complete as possible, and prevent a similar course in the future. So the broken firm of " Armstrong & Self" went forth in meditation long and deep. Soiae of his thoughts were almost too deep for utterance. But finally he stood by the dusty road along which the great treighting wagons were hauling supplios to the mining camps up the Sacramento. One of these wagons, drawn by six yoke of oxen. was just passing. Snap, snap, snap, in slow, irregular suocession, caine the keen, Btinging reports of the long Missouri ox whip. " G'lang ! g'lang ! wo-haw !" shouted the tall, dustbegrimmed driver, as he swung his whip and cast a side-long glance at the brokeu tirm, wondering " What in thunder all them store-clothes was a-doin' thar." Now when Armstrong saw the long column of white dust rising behind that wagon he was taken with an idea. So he shouted to tho driver, to know if he might be allowed to walk in the road behind the wagon. " Get in and ride," said the driver. " No," said Armstrong ; " I wish to walk." " Then walk, you crazy fooi," was the accoinmodating response, na the driver swung his whip. Then camo the tug of war. Greek never niet Greek inore fieroely than did the two contending spirits composing the rirm of Armstrong & Self, at that particular nioinent. " Now, Armstrong," said the imperious head of the firm, " you get right into the middle of the road, sir, and waik ia that dust, behind that wagon, all the way to the Packers' Koost, on the Yaba Kiver." " What, with these clothes on '{" Yes, with those clothes on." - " Why, it is fifteen miles, and dusty all the way." " No matter, sir ; take the road. You squanderyour money at threfecard monte ; 111 teach you a lesson." " G'lang ! g'lang !" drawled the driver, as he looked over his shoulder with a curious minglirig of pity, coutempt, and wonder on his dusty face. More and more spitefully snapped the swinging whip ns the slow-paoed oxen toiled mile after mile under the heat of a September sun. And there, in the road, trudged Armstrong behind thn wagon - slowly, wearily, thoughtfully, but not silently. He was a man who always spoke his thnntrV) ts. " This serves yon right, Armstrong. - Any man who will fooi his money away at tljree-card monte deserves to walk in the dust." "Itwill spoil those clothes." "WeU, don't you deserve it'r" "The dust filis my eyes," "Yes, any man whogambles all his 'dust' away at three-card monte deserves to have dust in his eyes - and alkali dust at that." " The dust chokes me." "All right; any man who will buck at monte deserves to be choked. Keep the road, sir - the tniddle of the road - close up to the wagon. Do you thiuk you will ever buck at monte again, Armstrong ?" And so the poor culprit, self-arrested, self-condetnned, coughed, sneezed, and choked, and walked, and talbed, mile after mile, hour after hour ; while the great wagon groand and creaked, the driver bawled and swung his whip, the patiënt oxen gave their shoulders to the yoke, and the golden 8un of September sunk wearily towards the west. The shadows of evening were beginning to fall when the wagon halted at the place called Packers' Eoost, on the Tuba. "Here we rest," sighed Armstrong, just above his breath, as he looked at the stream. " No you don't," answered the head of the firm. "You buck your money away at Monte, and talk about restiner ! Now, Armstrong, go right down he bank, sir, into the river." As the command was peremptory, and a spirit of obedienoe was thought the safest, Armstrong obpyed without a parley; and down he went, over head and ears, storeclothes and all, into the cold mountain tream. It was a long time that he remained in the water, and under the water. ie would come to the surfaee every little while to talk, you understand. It was mpossible for Arrustrong to forbear talkng. " Oh, yes," he would say, as he oanie up and snuffed the water from his nose, you'll buck your inoney away at hree-card monte, will you ? How do 'Ou like water-cure Y" His words were, of course, duly punotuated by irregular jlunges and catehings of breath. It so happened that the man who kept ;he shanty hotel at the Packers' Roost ïad a woraan for a wife. She, being a cind-hearted creature, besought her lord ;o go down and " help the poor crazy man out of the water." "Pshaw!" 6aid the ox-driver, "he ain't a crazy man ; he's a fooi. He walked beïind my wagon and talked to himself all ;he way frora Scrahbletown." Thereupon aróse a lengthy discussion about the difference between a crazy man and a fooi. But after awhile, the landord and the ox-driver went down to the ank and agreed to go Armstrong's secuity against bucking at monte in the fuure, if he would come out of the water. So he carne out and went up to the house. " Will you have a cup of tea or coffee ?" aid the woman, kindly. "Yes, ruadaui," said Armstrong, "Iwill ;ake both." " He is erazy, sure as can be," said the woraan. But she brought the two cups, s ordered. " Milk and sugar ?" she inuired kindly, as before. "No, madam; mustard and red pep)er," answered Armstrong. " I do believe he ís a fooi," said the woman as she went for the pepper and inusard. Armstrong, with delibérate coolness, ut a 8poonful of red pepper into the tea nd a spoonful of mustard into the coffee. 'hen ho poured the two together into a arge tin cup. Then the old conflict raged gain, and high above the din of rattling ;in cups and pewter spoons, soiinded the ern command : ' Armstrong, drink it, r, - drink it down." A momentary hesiation, and a few desperate gulps, and it was down. " Oh, yes," said our hero, as his throat urned and the tears ran from his eyes, you buck your money away at threeard monte, do you Y" Now, the Thomsonian dose above decribed very nearly ended the battle with oor Armstrong. He was silent for quite time, and everybody else was silent - After awhile the landlord ventured to uggest that a bed could be provided if it was desired. " No," caid Armstrong, " I'll eep on the floor. You see, stranger," aid he, eyeing the landlord with a pecuar expro8sion. "this fooi has been squanering gold dust at monte - three-card monte - and does not deserve to sleep in bed." So Armstrong ended the day's battle by jfoing to bed on the floor. Then caine be dreams. He first dreamed that he was sleeping with his feet on the North 'ole and his head in the tropics, while all ie miners of Yuba were ground-sluicing n his 8tomach. Next he dreamed that ie had swallowed Mount Bhasta for sup)er, and the old mountain had suddenly ecome an active volcan o, and was vomitng acres and acres of hot lava. Then the scènes shifted, and he seemed o have found his finale above in a place of ile smells and fierce flames, politically alled the antipodes of heaven. And while he writhed and groanod in sleepless gony, a fox-tailed fiend with his thumb t his nose was saying to him in a moekng voice : " You truck your money away at hree-card monte, do you - hey f" But even bis troubled sleep had au end at last, nd Armstrong arose. When he looked t himself in the broken looking-glass bat hung on the wall, he thought his 'ace bore traces of wisdom that had nevr been there before. 80 he said : " I hink you have learned a lesson, Armtrong. You can go back toyourmining ow, sir, and leavo monte alone." Time howed that he was right. His losson was well learned. The miners looked a ittle curious when reappearod at the amp, and still called him crazy. But he ïad learned a lesson many of them never earned, poor fellows. They continüed beir old ways, making money fast and pending it foolishly - even giving it to monte dealers. But the Armstrong firm was never broken in that way but once. After that, whenever he saw ono of the peculiar signs, " Eobbors' Roost," "Fleecers1 Den," or " Fools' Last Chance," Armetrong would shake his head with a knowing air, and say to himself, as he passed along , " O, yes, Armstrong, you've been there; you know all about that; you '


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Michigan Argus