This being a story--and a truer
one than it may appear--of a
mining country, it is quite to
be expected that it will be a
hard-luck story. But that depends
on the point of view. Hard luck
is a mild way of terming it so
far as Kink Mitchell and Hootchinoo
Bill are concerned; and that
they have a decided opinion on
the subject is a matter of common
knowledge in the Yukon country.
It was in the fall of 1896
that the two partners came down
to the east bank of the Yukon,
and drew a Peterborough canoe
from a moss- covered cache. They
were not particularly pleasant-looking
objects. A summer's prospecting,
filled to repletion with hardship
and rather empty of grub, had
left their clothes in tatters
and themselves worn and cadaverous.
A nimbus of mosquitoes buzzed
about each man's head. Their
faces were coated with blue clay.
Each carried a lump of this damp
clay, and, whenever it dried
and fell from their faces, more
was daubed on in its place. There
was a querulous plaint in their
voices, an irritability of movement
and gesture, that told of broken
sleep and a losing struggle with
the little winged pests.
"Them skeeters'll be the death
of me yet," Kink Mitchell whimpered,
as the canoe felt the current
on her nose, and leaped out from
"Cheer up, cheer up. We're
about done," Hootchinoo Bill
answered, with an attempted heartiness
in his funereal tones that was
ghastly. "We'll be in Forty Mile
in forty minutes, and then--
cursed little devil!"
One hand left his paddle and
landed on the back of his neck
with a sharp slap. He put a fresh
daub of clay on the injured part,
swearing sulphurously the while.
Kink Mitchell was not in the
least amused. He merely improved
the opportunity by putting a
thicker coating of clay on his
They crossed the Yukon to its
west bank, shot down-stream with
easy stroke, and at the end of
forty minutes swung in close
to the left around the tail of
an island. Forty Mile spread
itself suddenly before them.
Both men straightened their backs
and gazed at the sight. They
gazed long and carefully, drifting
with the current, in their faces
an expression of mingled surprise
and consternation slowly gathering.
Not a thread of smoke was rising
from the hundreds of log-cabins.
There was no sound of axes biting
sharply into wood, of hammering
and sawing. Neither dogs nor
men loitered before the big store.
No steamboats lay at the bank,
no canoes, nor scows, nor poling-boats.
The river was as bare of craft
as the town was of life.
"Kind of looks like Gabriel's
tooted his little horn, and you
an' me has turned up missing," remarked
His remark was casual, as though
there was nothing unusual about
the occurrence. Kink Mitchell's
reply was just as casual as though
he, too, were unaware of any
strange perturbation of spirit.
"Looks as they was all Baptists,
then, and took the boats to go
by water," was his contribution.
"My ol' dad was a Baptist," Hootchinoo
Bill supplemented. "An' he always
did hold it was forty thousand
miles nearer that way."
This was the end of their levity.
They ran the canoe in and climbed
the high earth bank. A feeling
of awe descended upon them as
they walked the deserted streets.
The sunlight streamed placidly
over the town. A gentle wind
tapped the halyards against the
flagpole before the closed doors
of the Caledonia Dance Hall.
Mosquitoes buzzed, robins sang,
and moose birds tripped hungrily
among the cabins; but there was
no human life nor sign of human
"I'm just dyin' for a drink," Hootchinoo
Bill said and unconsciously his
voice sank to a hoarse whisper.
nodded his head, loth to hear
his own voice break
the stillness. They trudged on
in uneasy silence till surprised
by an open door. Above this door,
and stretching the width of the
building, a rude sign announced
the same as the "Monte Carlo." But
beside the door, hat over eyes,
chair tilted back, a man sat
sunning himself. He was an old
man. Beard and hair were long
and white and patriarchal.
"If it ain't ol' Jim Cummings,
turned up like us, too late for
Resurrection!" said Kink Mitchell.
"Most like he didn't hear Gabriel
tootin'," was Hootchinoo Bill's
"Hello, Jim! Wake up!" he
The old man
unlimbered lamely, blinking
his eyes and murmuring
automatically: "What'll ye have,
gents? What'll ye have?"
They followed him inside and
ranged up against the long bar
where of yore a half-dozen nimble
bar-keepers found little time
to loaf. The great room, ordinarily
aroar with life, was still and
gloomy as a tomb. There was no
rattling of chips, no whirring
of ivory balls. Roulette and
faro tables were like gravestones
under their canvas covers. No
women's voices drifted merrily
from the dance- room behind.
Ol' Jim Cummings wiped a glass
with palsied hands, and Kink
Mitchell scrawled his initials
on the dust-covered bar.
"Where's the girls?" Hootchinoo
Bill shouted, with affected geniality.
the ancient bar-keeper's reply,
in a voice thin and aged
as himself, and as unsteady as
"And his sister?"
Sally, then, and her little
"Gone, all gone." The
old man shook his head sadly,
in an absent way among the dusty
"Great Sardanapolis! Where?" Kink
Mitchell exploded, unable longer
to restrain himself. "You don't
say you've had the plague?"
"Why, ain't you heerd?" The
old man chuckled quietly. "They-all's
gone to Dawson."
"What-like is that?" Bill demanded. "A
creek? or a bar? or a place?"
"Ain't never heered of Dawson,
eh?" The old man chuckled exasperatingly. "Why,
Dawson's a town, a city, bigger'n
Forty Mile. Yes, sir, bigger'n
"I've ben in this land seven
year," Bill announced emphatically, "an'
I make free to say I never heard
tell of the burg before. Hold
on! Let's have some more of that
whisky. Your information's flabbergasted
me, that it has. Now just whereabouts
is this Dawson-place you was
"On the big flat jest below
the mouth of Klondike," ol' Jim
answered. "But where has you-all
ben this summer?"
"Never you mind where we-all's
ben," was Kink Mitchell's testy
reply. "We-all's ben where the
skeeters is that thick you've
got to throw a stick into the
air so as to see the sun and
tell the time of day. Ain't I
"Right you are," said Bill. "But
speakin' of this Dawson-place
how like did it happen to be,
"Ounce to the
pan on a creek called Bonanza,
an' they ain't
got to bed-rock yet."
At mention of the discoverer's
name the partners stared at each
other disgustedly. Then they
winked with great solemnity.
"Siwash George," sniffed
"That squaw-man," sneered
"I wouldn't put on my moccasins
to stampede after anything he'd
ever find," said Bill.
"Same here," announced his
partner. "A cuss that's too plumb
lazy to fish his own salmon.
That's why he took up with the
Indians. S'pose that black brother-in-law
of his,--lemme see, Skookum Jim,
eh?--s'pose he's in on it?"
The old bar-keeper
an' what's more, all Forty Mile,
exceptin' me an' a few cripples."
"And drunks," added
old man shouted emphatically.
"I bet you the drinks Honkins
ain't in on it!" Hootchinoo Bill
cried with certitude.
Ol' Jim's face
lighted up. "I
takes you, Bill, an' you loses."
"However did that ol' soak
budge out of Forty Mile?" Mitchell
"The ties him down an' throws
him in the bottom of a polin'-boat," ol'
Jim explained. "Come right in
here, they did, an' takes him
out of that there chair there
in the corner, an' three more
drunks they finds under the pianny.
I tell you-alls the whole camp
hits up the Yukon for Dawson
jes' like Sam Scratch was after
them,-- wimmen, children, babes
in arms, the whole shebang. Bidwell
comes to me an' sez, sez he,
'Jim, I wants you to keep tab
on the Monte Carlo. I'm goin'.'
sez I. 'Gone,' sez he, 'an'
with a load of whisky.' An' with
that, never waitin' for me to
decline, he makes a run for his
boat an' away he goes, polin'
up river like mad. So here I
be, an' these is the first drinks
I've passed out in three days."
The partners looked at each
"Gosh darn my buttoms!" said
Hootchinoo Bill. "Seems likes
you and me, Kink, is the kind
of folks always caught out with
forks when it rains soup."
"Wouldn't it take the saleratus
out your dough, now?" said Kink
Mitchell. "A stampede of tin-horns,
drunks, an' loafers."
"An' squaw-men," added Bill. "Not
a genooine miner in the whole
"Genooine miners like you an'
me, Kink," he went on academically, "is
all out an' sweatin' hard over
Birch Creek way. Not a genooine
miner in this whole crazy Dawson
outfit, and I say right here,
not a step do I budge for any
Carmack strike. I've got to see
the colour of the dust first."
"Same here," Mitchell agreed. "Let's
have another drink."
this resolution, they beached
the canoe, transferred
its contents to their cabin,
and cooked dinner. But as the
afternoon wore along they grew
restive. They were men used to
the silence of the great wilderness,
but this gravelike silence of
a town worried them. They caught
themselves listening for familiar
sounds-- "waitin' for something
to make a noise which ain't goin'
to make a noise," as Bill put
it. They strolled through the
deserted streets to the Monte
Carlo for more drinks, and wandered
along the river bank to the steamer
landing, where only water gurgled
as the eddy filled and emptied,
and an occasional salmon leapt
flashing into the sun.
They sat down in the shade
in front of the store and talked
with the consumptive storekeeper,
whose liability to hemorrhage
accounted for his presence. Bill
and Kink told him how they intended
loafing in their cabin and resting
up after the hard summer's work.
They told him, with a certain
insistence, that was half appeal
for belief, half challenge for
contradiction, how much they
were going to enjoy their idleness.
But the storekeeper was uninterested.
He switched the conversation
back to the strike on Klondike,
and they could not keep him away
from it. He could think of nothing
else, talk of nothing else, till
Hootchinoo Bill rose up in anger
"Gosh darn Dawson, say I!" he
"Same here," said Kink Mitchell,
with a brightening face. "One'd
think something was doin' up
there, 'stead of bein' a mere
stampede of greenhorns an' tinhorns."
But a boat came into view from
downstream. It was long and slim.
It hugged the bank closely, and
its three occupants, standing
upright, propelled it against
the stiff current by means of
"Circle City outfit," said
the storekeeper. "I was lookin'
for 'em along by afternoon. Forty
Mile had the start of them by
a hundred and seventy miles.
But gee! they ain't losin' any
sit here quiet-like and watch
'em string by," Bill
As he spoke, another boat appeared
in sight, followed after a brief
interval by two others. By this
time the first boat was abreast
of the men on the bank. Its occupants
did not cease poling while greetings
were exchanged, and, though its
progress was slow, a half-hour
saw it out of sight up river.
Still they came from below,
boat after boat, in endless procession.
The uneasiness of Bill and Kink
increased. They stole speculative,
tentative glances at each other,
and when their eyes met looked
away in embarrassment. Finally,
however, their eyes met and neither
Kink opened his mouth to speak,
but words failed him and his
mouth remained open while he
continued to gaze at his partner.
"Just what I was thinken',
Kink," said Bill.
They grinned sheepishly at
each other, and by tacit consent
started to walk away. Their pace
quickened, and by the time they
arrived at their cabin they were
on the run.
"Can't lose no time with all
that multitude a-rushin' by," Kink
spluttered, as he jabbed the
sour-dough can into the beanpot
with one hand and with the other
gathered in the frying-pan and
"Should say not," gasped Bill,
his head and shoulders buried
in a clothes-sack wherein were
stored winter socks and underwear. "I
say, Kink, don't forget the saleratus
on the corner shelf back of the
later they were launching the
canoe and loading
up, while the storekeeper made
jocular remarks about poor, weak
mortals and the contagiousness
of "stampedin' fever." But when
Bill and Kink thrust their long
poles to bottom and started the
canoe against the current, he
called after them:-
and good luck! And don't forget
to blaze a stake
or two for me!"
They nodded their heads vigorously
and felt sorry for the poor wretch
who remained perforce behind.
* * * * *
Kink and Bill were sweating
hard. According to the revised
Northland Scripture, the stampede
is to the swift, the blazing
of stakes to the strong, and
the Crown in royalties, gathers
to itself the fulness thereof.
Kink and Bill were both swift
and strong. They took the soggy
trail at a long, swinging gait
that broke the hearts of a couple
of tender-feet who tried to keep
up with them. Behind, strung
out between them and Dawson (where
the boats were discarded and
land travel began), was the vanguard
of the Circle City outfit. In
the race from Forty Mile the
partners had passed every boat,
winning from the leading boat
by a length in the Dawson eddy,
and leaving its occupants sadly
behind the moment their feet
struck the trail.
"Huh! couldn't see us for smoke," Hootchinoo
Bill chuckled, flirting the stinging
sweat from his brow and glancing
swiftly back along the way they
Three men emerged from where
the trail broke through the trees.
Two followed close at their heels,
and then a man and a woman shot
"Come on, you
Kink! Hit her up! Hit her up!"
Bill quickened his pace. Mitchell
glanced back in more leisurely
if they ain't lopin'!"
"And here's one that's loped
himself out," said Bill, pointing
to the side of the trail.
A man was lying on his back
panting in the culminating stages
of violent exhaustion. His face
was ghastly, his eyes bloodshot
and glazed, for all the world
like a dying man.
"CHECHAQUO!" Kink Mitchell
grunted, and it was the grunt
of the old "sour dough" for the
green-horn, for the man who outfitted
with "self-risin'" flour and
used baking-powder in his biscuits.
The partners, true to the old-timer
custom, had intended to stake
down-stream from the strike,
but when they saw claim 81 BELOW
blazed on a tree,--which meant
fully eight miles below Discovery,--
they changed their minds. The
eight miles were covered in less
than two hours. It was a killing
pace, over so rough trail, and
they passed scores of exhausted
men that had fallen by the wayside.
little was to be learned of
the upper creek.
Cormack's Indian brother-in-law,
Skookum Jim, had a hazy notion
that the creek was staked as
high as the 30's; but when Kink
and Bill looked at the corner-stakes
of 79 ABOVE, they threw their
stampeding packs off their backs
and sat down to smoke. All their
efforts had been vain. Bonanza
was staked from mouth to source,-- "out
of sight and across the next
divide." Bill complained that
night as they fried their bacon
and boiled their coffee over
Cormack's fire at Discovery.
"Try that pup," Carmack
suggested next morning.
"That pup" was
a broad creek that flowed into
Bonanza at 7
ABOVE. The partners received
his advice with the magnificent
contempt of the sour dough for
a squaw-man, and, instead, spent
the day on Adam's Creek, another
and more likely-looking tributary
of Bonanza. But it was the old
story over again--staked to the
days Carmack repeated his advice,
and for three days
they received it contemptuously.
But on the fourth day, there
being nowhere else to go, they
went up "that pup." They knew
that it was practically unstaked,
but they had no intention of
staking. The trip was made more
for the purpose of giving vent
to their ill- humour than for
anything else. They had become
quite cynical, sceptical. They
jeered and scoffed at everything,
and insulted every chechaquo
they met along the way.
At No. 23 the stakes ceased.
The remainder of the creek was
open for location.
"Moose pasture," sneered
But Bill gravely paced off
five hundred feet up the creek
and blazed the corner-stakes.
He had picked up the bottom of
a candle- box, and on the smooth
side he wrote the notice for
his centre- stake:-
THIS MOOSE PASTURE IS RESERVED
FOR THE SWEDES AND CHECHAQUOS.
- BILL RADER.
Kink read it over with approval,
my sentiments, I reckon I might
as well subscribe."
So the name of Charles Mitchell
was added to the notice; and
many an old sour dough's face
relaxed that day at sight of
the handiwork of a kindred spirit.
"How's the pup?" Carmack
inquired when they strolled
"To hell with pups!" was Hootchinoo
Bill's reply. "Me and Kink's
goin' a-lookin' for Too Much
Gold when we get rested up."
Too Much Gold was the fabled
creek of which all sour doughs
dreamed, whereof it was said
the gold was so thick that, in
order to wash it, gravel must
first be shovelled into the sluice-boxes.
But the several days' rest, preliminary
to the quest for Too Much Gold,
brought a slight change in their
plan, inasmuch as it brought
one Ans Handerson, a Swede.
Ans Handerson had been working
for wages all summer at Miller
Creek over on the Sixty Mile,
and, the summer done, had strayed
up Bonanza like many another
waif helplessly adrift on the
gold tides that swept willy-nilly
across the land. He was tall
and lanky. His arms were long,
like prehistoric man's, and his
hands were like soup-plates,
twisted and gnarled, and big-knuckled
from toil. He was slow of utterance
and movement, and his eyes, pale
blue as his hair was pale yellow,
seemed filled with an immortal
dreaming, the stuff of which
no man knew, and himself least
of all. Perhaps this appearance
of immortal dreaming was due
to a supreme and vacuous innocence.
At any rate, this was the valuation
men of ordinary clay put upon
him, and there was nothing extraordinary
about the composition of Hootchinoo
Bill and Kink Mitchell.
had spent a day of visiting
and gossip, and in
the evening met in the temporary
quarters of the Monte Carlo--a
large tent were stampeders rested
their weary bones and bad whisky
sold at a dollar a drink. Since
the only money in circulation
was dust, and since the house
took the "down-weight" on the
scales, a drink cost something
more than a dollar. Bill and
Kink were not drinking, principally
for the reason that their one
and common sack was not strong
enough to stand many excursions
to the scales.
"Say, Bill, I've got a chechaquo
on the string for a sack of flour," Mitchell
Bill looked interested and
pleased. Grub as scarce, and
they were not over-plentifully
supplied for the quest after
Too Much Gold.
"Flour's worth a dollar a pound," he
answered. "How like do you calculate
to get your finger on it?"
"Trade 'm a half-interest in
that claim of ourn," Kink answered.
"What claim?" Bill was surprised.
Then he remembered the reservation
he had staked off for the Swedes,
and said, "Oh!"
"I wouldn't be so clost about
it, though," he added. "Give
'm the whole thing while you're
about it, in a right free-handed
his head. "If I
did, he'd get clean scairt and
prance off. I'm lettin' on as
how the ground is believed to
be valuable, an' that we're lettin'
go half just because we're monstrous
short on grub. After the dicker
we can make him a present of
the whole shebang."
"If somebody ain't disregarded
our notice," Bill objected, though
he was plainly pleased at the
prospect of exchanging the claim
for a sack of flour.
"She ain't jumped," Kink assured
him. "It's No. 24, and it stands.
The chechaquos took it serious,
and they begun stakin' where
you left off. Staked clean over
the divide, too. I was gassin'
with one of them which has just
got in with cramps in his legs."
It was then, and for the first
time, that they heard the slow
and groping utterance of Ans
"Ay like the looks," he was
saying to the bar-keeper. "Ay
tank Ay gat a claim."
The partners winked at each
other, and a few minutes later
a surprised and grateful Swede
was drinking bad whisky with
two hard- hearted strangers.
But he was as hard-headed as
they were hard- hearted. The
sack made frequent journeys to
the scales, followed solicitously
each time by Kink Mitchell's
eyes, and still Ans Handerson
did not loosen up. In his pale
blue eyes, as in summer seas,
immortal dreams swam up and burned,
but the swimming and the burning
were due to the tales of gold
and prospect pans he heard, rather
than to the whisky he slid so
easily down his throat.
The partners were in despair,
though they appeared boisterous
and jovial of speech and action.
"Don't mind me, my friend," Hootchinoo
Bill hiccoughed, his hand upon
Ans Handerson's shoulder. "Have
another drink. We're just celebratin'
Kink's birthday here. This is
my pardner, Kink, Kink Mitchell.
An' what might your name be?"
his hand descended resoundingly
on Kink's back,
and Kink simulated clumsy self-consciousness
in that he was for the time being
the centre of the rejoicing,
while Ans Handerson looked pleased
and asked them to have a drink
with him. It was the first and
last time he treated, until the
play changed and his canny soul
was roused to unwonted prodigality.
But he paid for the liquor from
a fairly healthy-looking sack. "Not
less 'n eight hundred in it," calculated
the lynx-eyed Kink; and on the
strength of it he took the first
opportunity of a privy conversation
with Bidwell, proprietor of the
bad whisky and the tent.
"Here's my sack, Bidwell," Kink
said, with the intimacy and surety
of one old-timer to another. "Just
weigh fifty dollars into it for
a day or so more or less, and
we'll be yours truly, Bill an'
the journeys of the sack to
the scales were more
frequent, and the celebration
of Kink's natal day waxed hilarious.
He even essayed to sing the old-timer's
classic, "The Juice of the Forbidden
Fruit," but broke down and drowned
his embarrassment in another
round of drinks. Even Bidwell
honoured him with a round or
two on the house; and he and
Bill were decently drunk by the
time Ans Handerson's eyelids
began to droop and his tongue
gave promise of loosening.
Bill grew affectionate, then
confidential. He told his troubles
and hard luck to the bar-keeper
and the world in general, and
to Ans Handerson in particular.
He required no histrionic powers
to act the part. The bad whisky
attended to that. He worked himself
into a great sorrow for himself
and Bill, and his tears were
sincere when he told how he and
his partner were thinking of
selling a half-interest in good
ground just because they were
short of grub. Even Kink listened
eyes were shining unholily
as he asked, "How much
you tank you take?"
Bill and Kink did not hear
him, and he was compelled to
repeat his query. They appeared
reluctant. He grew keener. And
he swayed back and forward, holding
on to the bar and listened with
all his ears while they conferred
together on one side, and wrangled
as to whether they should or
not, and disagreed in stage whispers
over the price they should set.
"Two hundred and--hic!--fifty," Bill
finally announced, "but we reckon
as we won't sell."
"Which is monstrous wise if
I might chip in my little say," seconded
"Yes, indeedy," added Kink. "We
ain't in no charity business
a- disgorgin' free an' generous
to Swedes an' white men."
"Ay tank we haf another drink," hiccoughed
Ans Handerson, craftily changing
the subject against a more propitious
And thereafter, to bring about
that propitious time, his own
sack began to see-saw between
his hip pocket and the scales.
Bill and Kink were coy, but they
finally yielded to his blandishments.
Whereupon he grew shy and drew
Bidwell to one side. He staggered
exceedingly, and held on to Bidwell
for support as he asked -
"They ban all
right, them men, you tank so?"
"Sure," Bidwell answered heartily. "Known
'em for years. Old sour doughs.
When they sell a claim, they
sell a claim. They ain't no air-dealers."
"Ay tank Ay buy," Ans
Handerson announced, tottering
the two men.
But by now
he was dreaming deeply, and
he proclaimed he
would have the whole claim or
nothing. This was the cause of
great pain to Hootchinoo Bill.
He orated grandly against the "hawgishness" of
chechaquos and Swedes, albeit
he dozed between periods, his
voice dying away to a gurgle,
and his head sinking forward
on his breast. But whenever roused
by a nudge from Kink or Bidwell,
he never failed to explode another
volley of abuse and insult.
Ans Handerson was calm under
it all. Each insult added to
the value of the claim. Such
unamiable reluctance to sell
advertised but one thing to him,
and he was aware of a great relief
when Hootchinoo Bill sank snoring
to the floor, and he was free
to turn his attention to his
less intractable partner.
Kink Mitchell was persuadable,
though a poor mathematician.
He wept dolefully, but was willing
to sell a half-interest for two
hundred and fifty dollars or
the whole claim for seven hundred
and fifty. Ans Handerson and
Bidwell laboured to clear away
his erroneous ideas concerning
fractions, but their labour was
vain. He spilled tears and regrets
all over the bar and on their
shoulders, which tears, however,
did not wash away his opinion,
that if one half was worth two
hundred and fifty, two halves
were worth three times as much.
In the end,--and even Bidwell
retained no more than hazy recollections
of how the night terminated,--a
bill of sale was drawn up, wherein
Bill Rader and Charles Mitchell
yielded up all right and title
to the claim known as 24 ELDORADO,
the same being the name the creek
had received from some optimistic
When Kink had signed, it took
the united efforts of the three
to arouse Bill. Pen in hand,
he swayed long over the document;
and, each time he rocked back
and forth, in Ans Handerson's
eyes flashed and faded a wondrous
golden vision. When the precious
signature was at last appended
and the dust paid over, he breathed
a great sigh, and sank to sleep
under a table, where he dreamed
immortally until morning.
But the day was chill and grey.
He felt bad. His first act, unconscious
and automatic, was to feel for
his sack. Its lightness startled
him. Then, slowly, memories of
the night thronged into his brain.
Rough voices disturbed him. He
opened his eyes and peered out
from under the table. A couple
of early risers, or, rather,
men who had been out on trail
all night, were vociferating
their opinions concerning the
utter and loathsome worthlessness
of Eldorado Creek. He grew frightened,
felt in his pocket, and found
the deed to 24 ELDORADO.
Ten minutes later Hootchinoo
Bill and Kink Mitchell were roused
from their blankets by a wild-eyed
Swede that strove to force upon
them an ink-scrawled and very
blotty piece of paper.
"Ay tank Ay take my money back," he
gibbered. "Ay tank Ay take my
Tears were in his eyes and
throat. They ran down his cheeks
as he knelt before them and pleaded
and implored. But Bill and Kink
did not laugh. They might have
been harder hearted.
"First time I ever hear a man
squeal over a minin' deal," Bill
said. "An' I make free to say
'tis too onusual for me to savvy."
"Same here," Kink Mitchell
remarked. "Minin' deals is like
They were honest in their wonderment.
They could not conceive of themselves
raising a wail over a business
transaction, so they could not
understand it in another man.
"The poor, ornery chechaquo," murmured
Hootchinoo Bill, as they watched
the sorrowing Swede disappear
up the trail.
"But this ain't Too Much Gold," Kink
Mitchell said cheerfully.
And ere the day was out they
purchased flour and bacon at
exorbitant prices with Ans Handerson's
dust and crossed over the divide
in the direction of the creeks
that lie between Klondike and
Three months later they came
back over the divide in the midst
of a snow-storm and dropped down
the trail to 24 ELDORADO. It
merely chanced that the trail
led them that way. They were
not looking for the claim. Nor
could they see much through the
driving white till they set foot
upon the claim itself. And then
the air lightened, and they beheld
a dump, capped by a windlass
that a man was turning. They
saw him draw a bucket of gravel
from the hole and tilt it on
the edge of the dump. Likewise
they saw another, man, strangely
familiar, filling a pan with
the fresh gravel. His hands were
large; his hair wets pale yellow.
But before they reached him,
he turned with the pan and fled
toward a cabin. He wore no hat,
and the snow falling down his
neck accounted for his haste.
Bill and Kink ran after him,
and came upon him in the cabin,
kneeling by the stove and washing
the pan of gravel in a tub of
He was too deeply engaged to
notice more than that somebody
had entered the cabin. They stood
at his shoulder and looked on.
He imparted to the pan a deft
circular motion, pausing once
or twice to rake out the larger
particles of gravel with his
fingers. The water was muddy,
and, with the pan buried in it,
they could see nothing of its
contents. Suddenly he lifted
the pan clear and sent the water
out of it with a flirt. A mass
of yellow, like butter in a churn,
showed across the bottom.
Hootchinoo Bill swallowed.
Never in his life had he dreamed
of so rich a test-pan.
"Kind of thick, my friend," he
said huskily. "How much might
you reckon that-all to be?"
did not look up as he replied, "Ay
tank fafty ounces."
"You must be
scrumptious rich, then, eh?"
Still Ans Handerson
kept his head down, absorbed
in the fine touches which wash
out the last particles of dross,
though he answered, "Ay tank
Ay ban wort' five hundred t'ousand
Hootchinoo Bill, and he said
"Yes, Bill, gosh!" said
Kink Mitchell; and they went
and closed the door.