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Whisky Bob's Claim

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Whisky Bob was dead broke, very Lired, and wanted to sit down anc sludy out his situat'on and what was best to be done. He put down hls rocker and pack caref ully on the grass ; his blankela were strapped in it, with piek, shovel, tin wask-pan and fryingpan, with a bag containining a little pork, ham, llour and tin pot for his corlee, and peeping from the roll of blankets was the neck of a whisky bottle. He bad stopped at the bottom of a high mountain ridge, not far from the Yubariver, tliat made along for miles. It was well wooded and shaded by old trees, had little underbrush, and just below him there ran a creek amid the bushes clear and cool, over the pebbles, which was very pleasant to see and hear in the hot weatlmr uf Summer. 'Here I be again, the same derned foo] aa ever, ruined by whisky, alter inaking piles of money : I just tleserve it. What a dog-goned jackuss a hu man can make hisself with whisky.' Taking up his pack, Bob toiledslowly up the rklge under the trees until 'he cameto the top, where it Uattened out in little level places and slight depressions. Birds were singing mJ flowers blooming around hitn; and, as he sat down to r st, he heard, to his iistonisliment, not very far off, the clear, sweet voice of a female, singing. Peeping cautiously under the young pine trees, there, in a little open Hat, sittingon a rock, was the singer. It was a pleasant picture to look at for a lonely man - a tall, shapely, buxom young girl, with light golden hair, blue eyes, and very regular, pretty features. She was dressed in a short calicó dress, with moccasins on her feet and a sun-bonnet thrown back from her head. Her hand reated on a long Kentucky rifle. She was a representative of the better class of JVestern girls, who were continually in those early days arriving in thé mountains of California from the ong trip over land, eimgratng in families from Kentucky and other States. Whisky Bob listened to the song with delight, and gazed at the singer in admtration ; and then, with his pack in his slioulder, cooly walked out into ïer presence, and, putting the pack own not far from her, sat down himelf. The young girl iooked at Mm a ittle surprised, but sat composed and till, only putting her hand earelessly n the stock of her rifle. Then she poke to Mm. ■ Well, mister, who might you be, that walks into a young lady's drawingoom, without knocking, even on the ark of a tree ?' 'Please, Miss. I'm called "Whisky Bob - out prospecting,' said he. 'No miss about it, Mr. Bob, please. ly name. for short, is Nell Green to 11 friends, and to others- well, I've a hooting iron,' said the girl, and con■inued: 'Your name of Whisky is a jad one, young man, and, I reckon, hows you are being ruined by corn uice. Is that so?' 'Well, Nell, that's a fact- but rather ough," said Bob, who saw the girl had half smile on her face. She was not in the least bold or forvarii, or wanting in modesty ; but the ompany of rough men, danger, and cenes in the wilderness, had taught ïertobeseJf-cornposed and self-reliant. 'Now, Mr. Bob- without the Whisky - it seenib to me,' said Keil, 'ye're browing yerself away; and there might be something bt'tter for yer, if e'd seek it," and she Iooked at hini with au expression of some interest. '1 know it, Nell, if I could only do it.' 'Got no folks, no family, to keer for ou 't' said Nell. 'Nary one,' replied Bob: never had. toted myself and pack up this ridge o jest seek my luck once more, and quit he corn juice and reform. 1 said to nvself, 'Bob, if ye could only meet a roman anywhere in these diggings, nd stake out a claim where she stood, t would bring ye fresh luck, ye might urn over a new leaf, and be somebody once more. And here, sure enough. 've met you.' 'Ye mean right, I'm sure,' said Nell, oftly. 'But down the trail away yon der I see my folks are coming along, with their fixings and plunder, pau, mau, and the rest ov 'cm. I must put out, stranger ; but, Mr. Bob. let me say a kind word to ye on parting from a ihort acquaintance. Y er say a woman jiings ye luck every time. Now 1 jest hope 111 briug good fortune to yer, and you may take yer pile out of this 'ere spot, though 1 cant see where it is. And, Mr. Bob,' said the girl hesitating, ef ye do flnd it, and act up to your good intentions about the corn juice - well, then, Mr. B b, my folks are raisng log houses and slied fixings down on the opening at the foot ov the creek, away there where ye can see a break in the trees. We mean to lócate.' And walking up to Bob, she put her hand on his shoulder, 'and. Mr. Bob, ef ye raiseyer pile ye can bring jest a little piece of gold üown for Ñell to remember she brought a better Ufe for ye." Bob was confused, and seemed to feel a tear in his eye, but he caught the little hand and kissed it, while Nell, blushing, hurried away with a step like an antelope's. Whisky Bob was a believer in luck, destiny, or whatever we may choose to cali it, and more particularly, he had a strong belief in hi3 own good luck, especially in ts relations to the fair sex. He took his rocker and put itin running order down the -t idge by a little pool of water, fed by a small stream where he could bring hisdirt andwash out for half an hour, and then pack down more white the pool was fllliug with water again. Next he went and rolled away the rock where Nell had been sitting and singing by the dry pebbles of the rivulet, and, taking his piek, commenced digging out a ditch in the grass, about two f eet deep and two f eet wide, down stream, and took the dirt to his rocker. He worked until sunset, only ünding about six bits of coarae gold, but in his last bucket, wlien washed out, he found a good solid piece of gold weighing three ounces. This encouraged him, and brightened his hopes for the future. There was gold there now he found to be a fact. In the morning he aróse by daylight, and af ter his breakf ast of f ried pork and cofïee, ending wïth the usual smoke of his pipe, he went to work again, determined to work the claim out for Nell's sake, if he did not make a fortune. He worked hard and steady through the day, only stopping at noon for some coffee and a smoke beiieath the tree camp. The sun was very hot, but he didn'l mind it. At night, when he washed out the result of the day'a hard toil, he only had a dollar's worth of coarse gold, but he found a little piece of blue ribbon Nell had lost f rom her hair. This consoled hirn amply, as he kissed it and said to hiinself. 'Bob, better luck to-raorrow.' His claim was what miners cali 'very spotted,' for the gold was scattered in spots, here and there. The next day and the next his labors brought him the sanie resulta - about enough to pay expenses, or, as tho miners cali it, 'grub money.' The fourth day, just bei'ore he washed out, in his last rocker of dirt, at sunset, he. found t wo pieces of gold- one worth $150, the other f uil $200. Bob was happy that night; and tied the blue ribbon with a leather string round hi;t neck, so that it could rest on his hcart, The next two days brought no big pieces, but the seventh he took pieces of gold from the clay-like cement weighing about $700. It was dark-colored gold, pretty solid, and twisted into strange shapes, with holes in it, but not appearing much worn, r. in mining parlance. 'washed.' When the miners passed him own on their way over the divide they tlped to ask what his luck was, and when they saw a very little coarse gold in liis pan they laughed at him. But Bob kept his lumps of gold in his pocket, or buried them beside the rock in his camp. In this way he workedon, taking sometime8 large pieces of gold out, iialf as large as Neli's little hst, and theu for days very little. The days and weeks passed by, but Bob toiled on, deterinined to wofk out nis claim tlioroughly. He dug down streatn, until over the edge of the flat ït became so steep no show of gold could be found. and then dug holes and cross-ditches to see if the little depresslons of the mountain had any more chunks of gold buried under the grass oota. But he had worked it out ; and what was better, he had kept his word o Nell, his resolution to hirnself to reform, and had taken out his pile at the same time. He now examined and weighed his gold, and found that he had about six housand dollars, mostly in heavy ieces. This was a pretty good fortune 'or seven weeks' digging, and Bob feit an unconquerable louging to go and ,ell Nell all about it. The next mornng by daylight he cleared up, packed lis tbings and started down the ridge ;o the nearest trading tent. But in his blankets, carefully strapped out of sight, was a heavy bag of gold in place of a whisky bottle. Bob had a heavy load to pack, but it was all down hill, and therefore easier for him. He arrived at the mining store, or trading tent, so common in he mountains in olden times, where ihnost anything could be purchased - 'rom a paper of pins tó calicó shirts and broadcloth pantaloons. Here he rested md renoyated liimself generally, foiind in old sailor who could cut and trim lis long hair and beard to reasonable proportions, and purchased same calicó shirts and other clothes, until, wheu dressed up nicely, he could have walked he streets of any city, and any of the 'air sex would have said he was a very fine looking fellovv. it was early in tbe day yet, and Bob et out to find the ranch of Nelly's peojle, leaving bis pack except the blantets containing his gold, which were lung over his shoulders on his piek handle. In a little over mile's walking he 'ound a pretty valley at the mouth of he cieek, where some new log houses, 'enees and clearings indicated Nell's ïome. In a back room, with her white, strong, beautiful arms bare to the shoulder,stood pretty Nell at the washtub, very busy in astream of soap-suds and Kentucky jeans, singing free as a bird. Bob put down his pack and walked n, but Nell's quick ear heard, and as she turned and saw him her cheeks lushed and her eyes sparkled. 'What! Bob, is that you come at ast?- in store clothes tooi' said she, glancing with bright eyes at the young man, and with poorly disguised ileasure. 'Certain sure, Nell ; you said I might come.' 'Yes, Bob; but how about the whisky ?' 'Nell, 1 havn't touched a drop since you saw me; if I have they may shoot me. And what's more, don't mean to - if you say so,' replied he. 'An' Bob, did I bring luct to yer ? Was there gold up thar ?' 'Nell, thar'3 six thousatid dollars and more, rolled in them blankets thar, I owe to your pretty self, or l'm a nigger. And, Nell, just look here,' and Bob took from the breast of his shirt a package carefully wrapped in paper, which had rested on the bow of Nell's blue ribbon he had found, and which she plainly saw. Unwrapping it, there was a piece of gold, in the shape of a spread eagle, almost exact in every part, weighing over six ouncea. 'Keil, you said 1 might bring yer a specimen from iny pile, and here 'tis.' 'Yes, Bob, but what gal's bit of ribbon is that yer so keerful about?' said Nell. with a loving look, but turning her face from him mischievously, and stirring the soapsuds. That ere,' replied he, 'broke loose from the har of an angel that met me on the mountains, yonder, and said some kind words to a dead-broke man that gave him new life. and what more brought good luck and a pile of gold to him, and he kept the thing as a charm to lighten his thoughts when he feit down-hearted,' and Bol went closer to Nell, whose cheek turned red. Yes, Bob,' said she, but ain't thai talk kind ov airy ? Angels don't tl i I round these diggins, as 1 ever heerc ov.' 'Yes, Nell, that's so ; but any woman's an angel to a man that's going wrong, who, in the loving kindness ol her heart, enconrages him to do right and that's what ye've done for me. Ye see, Nell, I've never had any folks ol my own blood to keer for me ; 1 weni into a ship's cabin as 'prentice boj from an orphan asylum. That ere gold came to me by luck from you, and if ye'd only take it with something else - ' 'With what, Bob?' but Nell still kept her face turned away, while he was edging still closer to her. 'Well, Nell, if I must make the riffle, jest take Bob with thedust and make him a happy man for the rest of his life. He loves yer, and would die for yer any time,' and Bob stole his arm around her slender waist. Nell at last turned her blushing face, and looking roguighlv at Bob, said : 'DÓVt you think, Bob, it woukl be better sense to say ye'd live for Nell than die for lier?' Bob didn't speak, but drew Xell to him and kissed lier. Nell, somehow bad her hands so entangled in the üoap-suds and clothes that she couldn't resist, but she pouted her lips.and Bob took his kisses back froai them. Three years after the above events happened, in that same valley, was a very pretty cottage with a garden and flowers aroundit, that indleated taste and refinement, and the whole clearing had become entensive, with its buildings and improvements. Here resided Mr. Robert Sinton and his pretty wife Jiell, the handsomeat and happiest couple in the northern connties. Mr. Sinton was a prosperous cattle dealer, well-to-do, and few remembered there ever was such a man as Whisky Bob.


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat