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in his weak, senile voice. "I never J
seen a territory that looked so prom
ising. There might be a million dol
lars' worth of gold in that bend of
Bessie stood up and faced him, a
regular virago, her shattered nerve
tense and quivering.
"I'veheard those stories before,"
she cried. "For the Lord's sake go
and get your gold, you useless old
fool. Go and find it and don't come
back till you've got it"
The old man looked at her, aghast
at the sudden outburst
"Why, Bessie," he faltered, "I
didn't know as you was sot against
my finding gold. I tell you," he went
on enthusiastically, "there's gold in
them hills. Yes, sir," he continued,
"there certainly ought to be a mint of
gold there, if we could only get at it"
But Bessie had burst out of the
room, crying, and the old man, shak
ing his head in perplexity, went slow
ly to the outhouse where he slept.
"Edwin," 'said Bessie later, "the old
man will have to go. That's all there
is to it He's terrible! Talking about
his gold when heaven only know?
how we're going to live the next year.
And all our money sunk in this
place." She pressed her lips together
vindictively. "I won't stand for his
talk of gold!" she cried. "He'll have
to go $o the poorhouse."
Edwin said nothing, and that even
ing Bessie, all tears and penitence,
begged her husband's forgiveness.
But old Jim Boss had heard, as he
stood uncertainly in the entrance,
where he had come hoping to find
out what the trouble was.
So it was himself! He had never
guessed that he was in the way. De
spite his years, he had done such
work as was in his power. He had
helped Bessie with the dishes chat
tering the while -about the gold; he
had talked of "pockets" and pro
duced samples of likely quartz while
she fumed inwardly and said nothing.
But he had never dreamed that he
was a nuisance.
The old man-'s pride was stung to
the quick. All night he lay upon his
bunk in the outhouse, pondering oyer
the matter. At last he reached a de
cision. He had spent a hard and
lonesome life, and now, at 80, he was
quite willing to take up the threads
That morning Bessie and Edwin
found a roughly scrawled note upon
"I'm going, children," it ran. "I'm
going to leave you for a while until
I've located that quartz, or maybe a
bed of shining nuggets in that gulch
I was speaking of. Then I'll come
home. I guess you won't grudge me
the little bag of flour and the matches
and blanket I'm a-taking with me."
They stared at each other. The
old man must have been gone long
since, for when they searched the
flat of the plains he was nowhere in
"I'll go after him," said Edwin.
"No," answered ' .Bessie "He'll
comeback at nightfall, when he's
tired, and maybe it'll be a lesson to
But nightfall arrived, and there
was no sign of the old man. Nor on
the following morning. Bessie was
now thoroughly alarmed.
"Edwin, you must go and look for
him," she said. "You know which
way he went?"
Her husband nodded. "It's twelve
miles distant," he said. "I guess I
can walk it and be back by night."
"I do hope he has come to no
harm," said Bessie. "He must have
heard me when I said what I did. I
I'm sorry, dear. When he comes back
I'll never lose my head again like
Meanwhile old Jim Ross was indus
triously grubbing among the boul
ders of the gulch. He spent the en
tire day there. At night he slept in
the river bed. Next morning, awak"-.
ening late, he stood up and peered
out across the plain. Some sense,
long latent in him, told that there