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Very far west indeed : a few rough experiences on the north-west Pacific Coast Johnson, R. Byron  (Richard Byron) 1872

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AND   PARLIAMENT  STREET Very  Far West  Indeed
R.   Byeox   Johnson
All rights reserved  PREFACE.
The Authok, in dedicating this work to the public,
does so in the modest hope that its contents, which are
for the most part a mere record of personal experiences,
may afford, to any one desirous of gaining it, some in-,
sight into the mode of life and character of society existing in the distant part of the world in which those
experiences occurred. Perhaps, also, the story of some
years' adventures, of a tolerably varied and exciting
nature, may be of interest to ordinary readers. If,
above all, the Author may be able by these pages in
the slightest manner to assist or guide the judgment of
a brother emigrant, he will feel that his labour has not
been ill spent.
The book has no pretensions to a scientific or theoretic
basis. The Author has sought to be practical, and, by
showing the various phases which ordinary men seeking vi PREFACE.
their fortunes in wild countries may expect to encounter, to enable the general public to form their
own conclusions: if he has been betrayed, here and.
and there, into theories or conclusions of his own
which may be at war with received opinions, he can
only, without seeking to deprecate criticism, beg indulgence on the score that such theories or conclusions
are outside the general tenor and intention of his
London. 1872. CONTENTS
I. THE  START     ....
VI. THE ROAD       ....
ix. william's creek
XI. A  HOLIDAY    ....
XIV. 'rustling'
xv. more rustling    .
xvi. an unpleasant adventure
xvii. a bare escape or two
xviii. the last chance.
Some tears ago a great cry was raised concerning a
country one hears of now but seldom: that country
was British Columbia. Grlowing letters appeared in the
Times, referring to its enormous wealth in gold mines,
and the new and vast fields for enterprise offered to
. the emigrant upon its shores.
Being at that time a youngster possessed strongly
with the Anglo-Saxon spirit of adventure, I was a good
deal impressed by these advertisements; particularly
as the isolation of the colony from the rest of the civilised world, and its wild and unexplored state, rather
added a charm of romance to its other attractions; so
a chance acquaintance with a man lately returned from
Australia, who purposed nibbling again at the golden
bait held forth from this far-west quarter of the globe,
induced me to offer to accompany him in the search of
adventure and lucre,
My new friend had not been by any means fortunate
in Australia, having in fact been recently shipped home
in the capacity of what the Yankees call a * dead-head,'
through the srood offices of the authorities at Mel-
bourne—that is to say, he was granted a free-passage
as a ' distressed British subject.' But, even as the
gambler says, ' the next pleasure to that of gaining is
that of losing,' so the recountal of his reverses sounded
to me only a little less pleasantly exciting than if he
had been able to narrate his experiences in the light of
a new-made Crcesus. In the latter event he would
probably have been but a very dull fellow indeed, and
would have disgusted one with his airs, after all.
Very soon we had framed our plans, packed our kits,
and taken our passages for El Dorado (via the Isthmus
of Panama and San Francisco) on the West India Mail
Steamer from Southampton. About a hundred and
fifty kindred spirits were bound with us in the steerage, creating quite a sensation in the midst of the
smooth, placid, aristocratic traffic of that eminently
^respectable steam-ship line. They didn't forget to make
us; pay for the luxury of the sensation either; a piece
of short-sightedness which helped the pockets of the
rival Liverpool lines considerably.
We in the steerage were a very mixed lot, although
most of us were (unluckily for us, perhaps) of a good
deal better class, so far as antecedents go, than the
ordinary run of passengers.    There were many clerks THE START.
and young men of that stamp, who had never done a
stroke of manual labour in their lives; not a few sons
of clergymen (who generally turned out great scamps);
several men of university training; a few Israelites,
bent on trading, with a small equipment of ' Brummagem ' and Whitechapel rubbish, and their own
acuteness for a stock (the Jews are always the gold-
seekers' jackals); and.some hard sun-burnt fellows in
rough miner's dress, who, like my companion, had left
other gold countries to try their luck in the new one.
These last were our heroes. When one of them seated
himself anywhere, a circle of ' new chums' was soon
formed round him, begging stories of his adventures,
and gathering fragments of advice. The advice generally tendered was, that the listeners were a pack of
young fools, and that they had better all go back by
the next steamer. There were some young women
too, ostensibly in the dressmaking and ' school-marm'
interest, but really, I fancy, with much stronger views
in their minds towards matrimony, or money without
marriage, than aught else; and I am bound to say
that this portion of our company succeeded in the end
to better advantage than the rest.
The voyage out to the West Indies was very pleasant, in spite of the inconveniences of roughing it on
board ship.
I think * caste' is the first thing (sea-sickness excepted) that strikes one when he gets into blue-water.
There are the saloon passengers, composed chiefly of
Spanish grandees and their families, and newly-married officers, regimental doctors, and chaplains bound
for West India stations, with a few merchants thrown
in: they are headed by a sort of vigilance committee,
made up of one or two elderly and talkative old gentlemen, who have made the voyage once or twice before.
These old gentlemen exercise the most despotic sway
over the unhappy herd, and are always recognisable by
a sort of be-tarpaulined horse-marine get-up which
they affect. They bore the captain and the rest of
the officers of the ship incessantly with absurd nautical questions they hardly know the meaning of, with
the view of further impressing their superabundant
knowledge and dignity upon the foolish, untravelled
mass. They are always in the way of the sailors, and I
sometimes get rewarded (accidentally of course) by
sprawling over a stray rope, or getting a souse from a
slush-bucket. Generally there are one or two old lady
horse-marines, too, who keep the female part of their
community under still stricter discipline.
It is a point of honour with a saloon passenger never
to have anything to say to a second-class passenger;
the canaille in the steerage are of course out of the
The second-cabin people are a weak, inoffensive race, -
who are happy on the made-up remains of the saloon dinner.  They may often be seen watching hungrily round THE START.
the chief cabin entrance, peering anxiously into the
returning dishes, which they will shortly be able to
recognise at their own spread. At such times there is
much 'tipping' of stewards, and a regular system of
pre-emption seems to exist. ' Steward S that half
chicken' (movement of the hand towards the steward's
extended palm). ' I say, Steward, you know, that bit
of curry' (more palm oil). ' Apricot tart to-day, my
eye!' (a wink and a chink) &c, &c If any one takes
the trouble to lord it over these respectable folk, it is
usually the sleek young Dissenting missionary, who
rigidly tabooes novels and cards, and convenes the
faithful to frequent prayer; enlivening their evenings
by stories of frightful shipwrecks, fires at sea, and the
never-ending fires the non-elect may expect for their
portion hereafter.
It is a point of honour with a second-cabin passenger
never to have anything to say to a steerage passenger
—they are rather afraid of them in fact—and to try
all means to cultivate a sneaking round-the-mast sort
of acquaintance with one first-class swell if possible:
in the exercise of this laudable aspiration they bear
many snubbings with great equanimity.
The steerage crowd are an independent lot generally,
and the exclusiveness of the upper classes is rather
thrown away so far as they are concerned. Many of
them, it is regrettable to state, have no points of
honour worth mentioning. VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
There was a good sturdy spirit of hope prevalent
amongst us young adventurers (it formed the greater
part of our capital) and I think we were as happy a
crew as could be ordinarily met with. Loafing about,
basking in the brilliant tropical sun tempered by the
sea-breezes, or seeking the shade of the bulwarks or
forecastle, with pipe always in mouth, till meal-times
were announced, when we demolished our rough fare
with wondrous appetites : watching b&nitos, flying-fish,
and sharks; playing deck-quoits or whist (precious
badly too) and gambling in many ways; dancing
hornpipes and reels, boxing, and sky-larking generally ;
that's how we got over the time, without a thought
towards to-morrow, except as the day that was to
bring us fortune.
Hope is, no doubt, one of the best things in the way.
of sentiment that a man can carry about with him, but
unfortunately it is frequently an enemy to material
progress. There are too many of us of the Micawber
type, ready to spend to-morrow's sustenance for today's enjoyment, and then hope for 'something to
turn up.' Now, this book may meet the eye of an
intending emigrant, and I would venture, if I may do
so without being accused of preaching, to direct his
attention to the moral which may be gathered from
my own experiences, personal and otherwise. In the
-first place, then, brother emigrant, stick tight to those
good   sovereigns   in  your  waist-belt—especially  be THE START.
careful with whom you gamble on'board ship. You
will want all your money when you arrive at your destination, to enable you to look about for a path to
strike out in. If you are gofrng 'on spec,' rough it
from the start: don't spend half your money in an
outfit, which will only be a nuisance to you, and a
drug in the market when you want to sell it—as you
certainly will: a spare shirt is easily bought when
required, and if such a purchase is not easy, you must
fain submit to a little inconvenience. Remember
that after all, in any place, it is hard to get out of the
groove when once in it, and that if you land without
money, and have to take to breaking stones to keep
you alive, you won't so readily rise to anything better.
To return to our journey: after changing steamer at
the pretty little town of St. Thomas, with its three
hills, we reached Colon or Aspinwall, and entered the
i cars' for Panama. The railroad is only forty-eight
miles across, but it seems to take about six hours to
make the trip.
I noticed a great personage in white linen get on
board the train. Presently he looked round for his
luggage, and discovered part of it was missing. By
this time we had started, and got about two hundred
yards from the station. Looking back, I saw a nigger,
with an enormous carpet bag, running up the track,
and making frantic gestures. I spoke to the guard or
conductor, who was an American, asking if he was 8
going to pull up for the nigger, who was toiling along
so gamely.
' I guess not!' he said, ' ef he's only haaf a nigger,
he'll ketch us up afore we cud stop.'
And the coloured person kept bravely on, getting
nearer and nearer, till we could hear him puffing.
Then putting on a big spurt he reached the train,
caught hold of the railing round the platform, shied
the bag on board, and hauled himself in after it.
' Good nigger!' shouted the conductor, approvingly.
' Deuced bad train!' I replied. ' Don't you ever go
any faster than this ?'
' Darsn't, jest here; shud go ker-flop inter that
etarnal swamp in about tu minutes an' a haaf!'
I wanted to treat the nigger to a drink at the bar
(nearly all American trains have got a bar); but I
shall never forget the look of horror with which this
proposition was received by the intelligent personage
of high-toned and elegant appearance, who dispensed
his wondrous fluids at that little counter.
First, he swore a string of heart-breaking oaths,
then he expectorated freely and took fresh breath,
smashing a tumbler in his excitement; after which,
seeing my confusion, and getting mollified, he said :—
' Ah, well! I see, stronger; yu ain't ercugtomed to
free institooshins, yu hev bin raised whar they regards
them things (jerking his fore-finger at the wretched
panting nigger) as human critters a'most.   But don't THE START.
you never aask no more niggers to drink at my bar,
'else thar'll be a muss, sure !'
So I gave the unfortunate negro a quarter dollar
instead, and made friends with the bar-keeper; who
was a good sort of fellow, apart from what I then
thought his undue prejudice against colour in his own
species (I have grown to think a good deal with him
since). He made me an A 1 mint-julep, for which he
would not hear of payment. This, I think, Vas the
turning point in his favour with me.
Panama-, we found, was a dirty old hole, though,
surrounded with the most glorious scenery; there was
nothing about it worth seeing, or thinking of, but its
ruins and associations with the Elizabethan vikings
who had haunted it. There was, as usual, a revolution
going on when we got there. A good many long
Spanish steel gxms were running about with tiny little
men, and shot themselves off now and then to the
great terror of their holders. A youth with a very
long sword dashed about, poked the terrific weapon
through a shutter, in the wild excitement of pursuing
an imaginary foe, and couldn't get it back again;
after which he seemed to think soldiering a bad game,
kicked a quiet chicken and a somnolent pig viciously,
and fell in with our party to beg a light for his cigar.
The revolution was over next day; all the inhabitants
once more turned their attention to their wonted occupation of fleecing their visitors for the few days they 10
had the chance of doing so ; till after these were gone,
bad blood should again rise, and cause the slaughter of
a few stray dogs and cormorants. By the way, the
latter creatures, called «scavenger-birds,' are the only
sanitary inspectors of this and similar towns; they
devour all the filth and garbage, which is simply
thrown into the street, and it is a matter of a heavy
fine to kill one of these birds intentionally.
The local paper appeared next morning with the
fresh government programme, and an apology for the
previous edition not having been issued.
We have been made the victims of shameful coercion !
The miscreants who have long usurped the reins of power,
the carrion who have now been swept into the dust-heap
of oblivion by the  righteous arm of (I forget the
name of this bloodless warrior) endeavoured to enforce
upon us a degrading requisition. Their last stronghold
had been almost forced, and their ammunition was nearly
spent—fruitlessly, God be thanked—they had stolen all the
lead from the roof of the only church they could get at,
and they threatened to take from us—nay, not from us, but
from the inhabitants of Panama, from the whole world—
our breath of life, our Type ! ! ! With this the insensate
scoundrels would have made bullets, and preserved longer
the unholy fight of crime and villany against justice and
right. Our determination prevented this catastrophe. We
defied the impious wolves; and by the blessing of the
Almighty, aided by an iron shutter (these may be obtained
in lots to suit, from the store of our esteemed friends, THE START,
Fernandez y Ca.; a fresh shipment having just arrived
from New York) and a notice in large letters intimating
that there was a navy revolver on the premises which
might go off and hit somebody, our invaluable plant was
kept inviolate. One or two approaches were made towards
the premises; but the warning bark of our sentinel, our
noble dog, was sufficient to scare away these intruders.
They fled. Under the circumstances detailed, the Pacific
Coast will excuse the loss it has sustained in the omission
of our last semi-weekly edition.
We stayed at Panama a few days, astonishing the
natives by going out, in true English fashion, to shoot
birds in the neighbouring woods, in the middle of a
tropical day. We got a bag of wondrously-plumed
creatures, and one or two lizards and snakes. We
further outraged the popular local notion of the fitness
of things by bathing in the bay, which was full of
sharks—a circumstance we had not thought of. Luckily
the sharks didn't know there were any such foolish
people about, and through their not being on the qui
vive nothing untoward happened.
The residents seem to do nothing in the day but
drink incessantly of iced liquids and play billiards on
wooden tables with the largest balls and hugest cues
ever seen. When overcome by this exercise they sleep
till the sun gets lowland then they stroll on the plaza.
There is always a plaza in a Spanish town, or village
even, be it never so insignificant a place. After this
more billiards and iced drinks, and then more sleep. VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
The women are always either in-doors or in the churches,
the latter being about as numerous as the bar-rooms.
We were very tired of the place by the time the
passengers from New York came in, and we were then
shipped on an American steamer for San Francisco,
with a complement of only fifteen hundred passengers.
Uncle Sam doesn't exercise that fatherly care over
his children on board ship that John Bull does, hence
the steerage of a Yankee steamboat, with nine hundred
people packed below-decks, like herrings in a barrel*
is not quite so pleasant a place as it might be. Most
of the new arrivals were Irish and Low Dutch, and as
neither their habits nor their persons were particularly
cleanly, I can assure my readers that a pig-stye which
has not been cleaned out for a twelvemonth would be a
nosegay compared to the place where we were expected
to turn in. Our bunks consisted of three tiers of filthy
canvas stretchers, supported by upright frames; these
stretchers extended along both sides of the ship and
down the centre, in a fore and aft direction. They
were occupied by the unfortunate people four-abreast,
and I have been told as a literal fact, by a shipmate
who remained below, that turning over was a matter
of mutual arrangement, as any movement of the kind,
owing to the limited space, was bound to be a concerted
one. For my own part, I preferred to spread my
blanket on the upper deck under the stars, taking the
chances of being kicked and sworn at by the watch for THE START.
being in the way, or of getting a sousing from the
hose- in the morning when the order came to 'wash
decks,' to sharing the unsavoury den below.
The eating arrangements were equally enticing; our
food (of which there was certainly rough plenty) was
served on swing tables let down from the upper deck.
We had to stand at them, and lucky were those who
could get standing room. The tables had to be cleared
and reset three times at every meal on account of the
number of passengers, and there was always a regular
free fight for places at the first and second tables.
Then, if you got a place, it would probably be right
up in the bows, where there was a good chance of
getting kicked or butted by the cattle, which were
cooped up there, poor things, in about the same manner
as we were below, and with about the same regard to
cleanliness. In rough weather it is easy to imagine,
under the circumstances, that more of the provisions
found their way over one's clothes than into one's
mouth. Fortunately there is not much bad weather
on that coast.
In spite of these drawbacks we were all merry enough*
and looked forward with much interest to our arrival
at San Francisco, about which town we had heard
much, both at home and on our way. Those who had
revolvers were to be seen busily cleaning them up ready
for use, for San Francisco had not then outlived its
reputation as the most lawless place in the world. 14
I remember that on this part of our journey the
anniversary of Her Majesty's birthday occurred, and I
have no doubt it would have given our Sovereign Lady
much joy to have seen the animated way in which the
English portion of our shipmates gave vent to their
feelings on that occasion. Unhappily one of them
carried his enthusiasm to such an extent as to fall foul
of a particularly quick-tempered Western man, who in
the heat of argument drew his six-shooter, and our
compatriot, bolting through the cabin door, received a
parting shot in a portion of his body which could not
be used for its normal function of occupying a chair
for some days. The Western man was put in irons for
a day or two pro forma, and was then released on his
promise to be of good behaviour. The matter finally
ended by a hand-shake and liquor-up between the
On our way up the coast of Mexico we put in at
Acapulco to coal, and had the pleasure of a run ashoie
and a dainty feed of fowls and omelettes. Poultry
appeared to be the only live-stock in the place except
The only remarkable thing here was the semi-aqueous
nature of the natives, who swam out in hundreds to the
steamer, and appeared to spend the greater part of the
day in the water. There were any number of sharks
to be seen swimming round the ship all the time, but
the darkies didn't seem to care a bit for them.    All THE START.
carried knives in a belt round their waists, and laughed
if you asked them if they weren't afraid of the
sharks. They dived in ten fathoms of water for the
small silver coins we threw overboard to them, and
most of them got a pretty good mouthful of ten-cent
pieces by the time our largess was exhausted. I should
think the heat causes the natives to take to the water
so much, for Acapulco must be nearly the hottest place
on this earth at any rate.
A few days after leaving this wayside oven we
entered the Golden Gate, the entrance to the magnificent harbour of San Francisco, much rejoiced at the
prospect of a speedy release from our filthy prison.
Most of our shipmates were bound no further, and as
there was no steamer for some days to carry us to Vancouver's Island, we anticipated with considerable pleasure the idea of our temporary sojourn in the Golden
City. 16
Previous to the year '49, the site which the town of
San Francisco now occupies was not a scene to excite
the admiration of either a lover of nature or a devotee
of commerce.
In fact, half of the site was then occupied by the
shallow waters of the bay; and the other half was a
mere heap of sand-hills, almost devoid of vegetation.
The holy fathers of the Mission Dolores, and a few
straggling settlers and fishermen, composed the population of the neighbourhood. A more peaceful spot, and
one more likely, to all appearance, to continue so».
could hardly have been found upon the surface of the
Such, however, is the wonderfully attractive power
of gold, that at the end of the year above mentioned,
when the first influx of gold-seekers commenced, there
could not have been less than eighty thousand people
herded together near the place that is now the
metropolis of the North Pacific. The harbour, whose
waters had seldom been stirred by any more pretentious
craft than an Indian canoe or a fisherman's boat, sud- SAN FRANCISCO.
denly became filled with the vessels of every nation;
and few of these were able to leave until after many
months, from the impossibility of retaining the crews
they brought, or of hiring fresh ones for a return
voyage. Among the old ' forty-niners,' as the now
remaining pioneers of the country are proud to style
themselves, it is curious to note, when one sees them at
work in the mines, the large number whose tattooed
arms show what their calling once was. A vast
assemblage of tents whitened the shores of the bay,
far almost as the eye could reach; and from the midst
sprung up, as if by magic, huge wooden stores, hotels,
and buildings of every description.
Truly, the energy exhibited in building this city,
and overcoming the natural disadvantages of its position, was, and still is, immense. No town of equal
magnitude or importance (save Melbourne, perhaps)
has ever come into existence in the short space of
twenty years. The sand-hills have been literally
shovelled and carted into the sea, and each burrowing
made in the sand forms a corresponding space reclaimed
from the harbour. Even at the present day the lower
part of the town is built entirely on piles; and the
space beneath the houses, formerly occupied by water,
but now generally left dry, owing to the work of filling
up constantly extending itself in front, forms the home
of myriads of rats, dogs, and escaped pigs ; who, owing
to the plentiful supply of refuse, seem to live together
c II
in a state of undisturbed enjoyment and continuous
repletion. On the whole, a visit to this quarter makes
one reflect with some gratulation on the fact that
cholera is unknown on the Pacific Coast.
It is not to be wondered at that, in its early days,
a place offering such wondrous attractions to all classes
of fortune-hunters as California did, should have
been the home of a greater number of thorough-paced
scoundrels than the collected vice of the rest of the
world could well have produced. Mexican horse thieves
and bandits, runaway Australian convicts, gamblers
from all the cities of the Union, border ruffians from
the Western States, and rogues of different degrees
from all parts, were abundant; the revolver and the
bowie-knife were the aggressors and the arbiters, and
justice was a farce.
To such a pass had this state of things arrived, that
four or five years later the honest portion of the community of the city came to the conclusion that nothing
less than extreme measures could produce a reaction;
and, on the principle of the end justifying the means,
the administration of justice was taken entirely out of
the hands of the regular authorities, and placed in
those of a Vigilance Committee selected from the
citizens. All suspected persons were warned to quit
the neighbourhood within twenty-four hours, upon pain
of death if they were found afterwards; and all those
against whom the slightest evidence of theft, or crimes SAN FRANCISCO.
of greater magnitude, could be adduced, were forthwith executed according to Lynch law. Among those
who met their fate in this summary way was one of
the former judges, who was proved to have been a
member of an organised band of robbers and assassins.
These remedial measures soon had the desired effect
—although it is to be feared that many innocent persons
were sufferers—and the town has since gradually become as safe as most others, with a good deal of additional licence in a social sense however.
It was on a Sunday that we entered the harbour,
and we expected to find everything very quiet in consequence. We were therefore much surprised, as the
steamer drew up alongside one of the long lines of
wooden wharves, to see all the hotels and bar-rooms
open and in full swing, and to hear the rattle of billiard balls coming from out of most of them; we also
found on inquiry that the theatres would be open in
the evening.
The scene indeed was most enlivened. The wharves
and streets were crowded with people, some hurrying to
meet friends and relatives on board our steamer coming
from the east, and others bound on excursions to Oak-
lands and the various places on the borders of this
hugest of harbours. The bustle and noise were terrific.
The row caused by the numberless omnibuses, drays,
and street cars, running over the plank roads, was
deafening; and this was supplemented by the hoarse
c 2 20
hooting1 of the various steamboat whistles, the inces-
sant buzz of the hotel touters, the cracking of whips,
and curses at unwilling quadrupeds; forming altogether,
a Babel which it is hardly possible to realise without
actual experience.
After a great deal of hard fighting had been going
on for the possession of our luggage between the representatives of the various hotels (amongst whom were a
dirty-faced Irishman, with still dirtier linen; a stolid
gentleman from the Vaterland, whose only chance of
attracting attention was his vast size; a particularly
lively Frenchman; and a regular New York tout, with
sham diamond studs and enormous pinchbeck chain)
my friend and myself got into the omnibus of an unpretentious house, situate in one of the streets at right
angles to the main thoroughfare, Montgomery Street.
We were lucky enough to have been able to keep our
baggage intact, and we found nearly fifty hotel cards in
our hands and pockets when we once got fairly seated.
Hotel Hie in America is, to my mind, so infinitely
preferable (to a bachelor) to that in England, as to be
almost beyond comparison. There is, however, one
strong point against American hotels—the bed-rooms
are seldom up to the mark, as they are usually very
small, not over clean in themselves, and furnished
with a similar disregard to ablutional jacilities to that
foimd in hotels on the European Continent.
Probably the usages of society in America contribute SAN FRANCISCO.
principally to the traveller's greater enjoyment of
hotel life. In the first place, you haven't to shut
yourself up behind a newspaper in a coffee-room for an
hour or two, hungry and tired before you get anything
to eat. In the better class of houses there is always
a restaurant, in which you may at any hour obtain
whatever you wish in a few minutes. In the next
place, you don't run the risk of being snubbed if you
address your conversation to a neighbour. On the
contrary, if you are a stranger, your neighbour will
generally strive to make you feel at home with the place,
taking upon himself, in a measure, if his advances are
not repulsed, the rdle of a private host. People talk
a good deal of the impertinent curiosity displayed by
our trans-Atlantic cousins, but I think there is more
of the kindly feeling I have last spoken of actuating
them than aught else. Moreover, their manner is
genial, and their curiosity does not usually take an
offensive turn; and it is certain that when the Englishman's reserve once wears off, he is always one of
the strongest advocates of a freer intercourse among
people thrown together in a casual way.
Living is cheap in San Francisco, the charge for
board and lodging at the best houses not exceeding
three dollars a day. There are reading, smoking, and
billiard-rooms, of the most luxurious kind, and many
things that remind one rather of a club-house than of
one of our hotels, where a new guest is imprisoned
1 22
with a lot of heavy old mahogany furniture, a timetable three months old, a set of writing materials
which he is too disheartened to use, and a Bible which
has apparently never been opened, till he finally reaches
so melancholy a state that he fears to break the unholy spell by ringing for the ghostly waiter, lest that
white-chokered apparition should make him unwittingly order his coffin instead of his dinner.
There are many peculiar features of the larger towns
in the United States. One of these, in cities which
like San Francisco have a large German population, is
the 'lager-beer cellar.' Your approach to an establishment of this sort as vou walk along: a street in the
evening, is made known by the sound of subterranean
music reaching your ears. You peep down the cellar,
and your steps probably follow your eyes. On one side
of an extensive underground saloon is a bar decorated
in the most gorgeous manner, and frequently in the
most excellent taste, behind which a resplendent individual, in all the glory of a snowy 'biled shirt' and
diamond brooch-pin, is pouring out the foaming 'lager'
into glass mugs, or concocting delicious compounds.
Pretty waitresses are flitting about bearing these beverages to the thirsty occupants of the little marble
tables, who are generally engaged in card-playing,
varied by occasional flirtation with their fair Hebes.
At the other end is a band playing German airs, or
selections   from   the Operas, sometimes   with vocal SAN FRANCISCO.
accompaniment, while in the centre are several billiard-
tables, or an open space is reserved for dancing. The
effect on the eye and ear is pleasing, and I don't
suppose these places have half as much to answer for
on the ground of morality as a London music-hall.
Another singular institution connected with barrooms is what is termed a 'free lunch.' A uniform
price is charged for a ' drink' of any sort, and in the
case of spirits a decanter and a tumbler are placed
before the customer, who helps himself without restriction as to quantity. A collation is spread, to which
the guest is expected (as of course with the liquor also)
to help himself moderately. Presumably, the average
consumption on either head is not in excess of the
price paid, or the establishments would soon have to
close their doors; but the ' free lunch' practice tends
to support an army of loafers in idleness, each one of
them being able to pay his 'bit,' or 'quarter-dollar,'
(sixpence or a shilling) and to gorge sufficient at one
meal to keep him supplied, like a boa-constrictor, till
he is ready for the next. When these customers be--
come known they are usually treated with a surreptitious dose of jalap or croton oil, which makes them
wary of repeating their visits.
Talking of a 'bit,' that is another decidedly peculiar
institution, and peculiar, moreover, to the North Pacific
coast. It is a visible invisibility. It is supposed to represent half of a quarter-dollar, or twelve-and-a-half cents;
1 24
but it has no actual existence in the United States'
coinage; there is no copper money current on the coast,
and the nearest approach to a ' bit' is a ten-cent piece.
The consequence is there is always a difficulty in paying
for an article where a 'bit' is the price asked, or in
receiving change under the same conditions. Awkwardly enough, the price of nearly everything is a ' bit,'
or has an odd 'bit' imported into it; thus, if you
want a cigar, a glass of beer, a nip of brandy, to have
your boots cleaned, or to be shaved, the charge is a
' bit,' and if you go into a restaurant to dine, your bill
is five 'bits,' or seven 'bits.' Everybody tries to get
the best of the exchange, too. If you tender a quarter
of a dollar you receive ten cents in change; if you
tender a ten cent piece you are looked at surlily, and
put down for a ' mean cuss.' The whole system is an
absurdity, and ought at once to be stopped. To do this
the prices ought to be made either ten cents or fifteen
cents, and then there never could be a difficulty.
Even Americans from the East are as much nonplussed as foreigners in relation to this singular mode
of payment. They don't know what a ' bit' is. One
of our fellow-passengers, a tolerably green youth from
Vermont, got into sore trouble about it directly he
He wanted to go to some friends he had in a suburb
of the city, and hailed a carriage. When he got to the
end he asked the fare. SAN FRANCISCO.
' A dollar and two bits,' was the reply.
' Bits, bits ?' he questioned, ' I hain't got no bits.
I kin only pay yu in dollars an' cents.'
' Well, no matter, sir,' said the hack-driver; ' you
can pay me a dollar an' a haaf.'    And he was paid.
But our Eastern friend's suspicions were aroused,
and questioning his host, he found he had been done.
Smarting under the swindle (the sorest of all points
when personally applied to one of these gentry from
the wooden nutmeg country), he sallied forth to find
the driver, and failing in the attempt marched into
a neighbouring liquor store, to solace his wounded
feelings with a refresher.
Then, as he told me, he ' put himself outside of
some Bourbon whisky.'
He tendered a quarter-dollar in payment, and received ten cents change. A gentleman beside him
helped himself from the same decanter, and gave a
ten-cent piece. He felt himself again swindled in the
clearest fashion to the extent of five cents ; and, with
the recollection of the cab-driver still rankling in his
mind, he felt his biceps beginning to contract.
' Here, you miserable cheat!' he called to the
barkeeper, 'What do you mean by this barefaced
' D n you !'  that functionary returned,   ' you
must be drunk to use such language. Clear out, you
dirty loafer!'
I 26
This was too much for the Vermonter; he let loose
with his left, and caught the barkeeper on the nose.
He was immediately seized by a dozen or more people,
licked unmercifully, and finally kicked into the street.
On being picked up by a sympathising looker-on, he
asked him what was the price of a drink at that
' A bit,' said the bystander.
So, in despair* b-e went back to his friend's house,
where all the satisfaction he got for his recital was
being tremendously laughed at.
Beverting to ' loafing,' however, it is a thoroughly
recognised principle in San Francisco. There are
many of the body who practise it there held in much too
high esteem by the community at large to allow of
practical jokes in the jalap way being played upon them.
The king of the fraternity for a long time was (and
probably still is, if whisky hasn't killed him yet) a man
nicknamed ' Emperor Norton,' whose photograph as a
local celebrity figured in most of the book-stores. His
singular appearance, no doubt, largely aided his popularity. A large stout man, clad in the cast-off uniform
(much too small for him) of a Federal officer, with a
jolly rubicund visage, and a large bottle-nose, at the end
of which grew a perfect imperial of black bushy hair,
and with little sparkling eyes that bespoke the witty,
incorrigible 'rogue who owned them.
This fellow has never been known to do a stroke of SAN FRANCISCO.
work in his life, but it is the fashion to chaff him, and
he lives, not upon chaff certainly, but upon the
strength of being the town-butt. He and ' Billy,' the
fireman's dog, were the most noted characters in San
F/ancisco. Poor ' Billy' is dead now; so Emperor
Norton, if he survives, is the sole lion.
It is a recognised thing, if Emperor is present in a
bar when two or more people go in to drink, that he
should be requested to join; and as he always is in
some bar or other (especially among those in which
free lunches play a part), Emperor never goes to bed
without what is aptly, if vulgarly, called a ' skin-
He is a very good advertisement to some of these
houses, and is therefore never at a loss for a bed, or
an odd half-dollar to buck away at the gaming-table.
He proudly scorns all attire, save military garments;
and when any resident officer finds his regimentals
growing shabby, he forthwith invites Emperor to take
them. It is impossible to conjecture how many suits
his Imperial Majesty has thus stowed away, for I
don't think there's any one in the 'old clo' way in
.those parts.
There are few places of the same size more gay and
full of life than 'Frisco.' It is in three principal
sections. The lower one, near the water, is the
business part of the city, and is almost entirely occupied
by wholesale stores and warehouses, with the inevitable 28
r-room interspersed at very frequent intervals ; the
wharves and nearer portion of the harbour are crowded
with steamers and vessels from all parts of the world,
and the view over the harbour is most magnificent,
owing to its enormous extent. The central one is the
haunt of luxury for the whole Northern Pacific. It
is composed of Montgomery Street, and the other
streets close adjoining, which resemble a combination
of the Strand and Regent Street as nearly as it is
possible to describe them. In this portion all the
principal hotels and retail stores, and the theatres, are
to be found; and here one sees the pink of fashion,
male and female—the latter a veiy exaggerated copy
of Parisian style twelve months preceding. Light
buggies and handsome trotting-horses are constantly
going and coming from here to the upper part of the
town, which contains the villas of the wealthy residents,
and is continued to the verge of the sandhills, transforming the latter, as it extends itself upon their
surfaces, into a series of little dotted toy-box
The streets appear to be always alive with traffic of
every kind, and crowded with people of every nation
and class, and every one is too cosmopolitan to notice
his neighbour's peculiarities. The Chinese form a
large section of the population, and live in a separate
quarter, which I would not advise any one with a
delicate sense of smell to enter without a smelline-- SAN FRANCISCO.
bottle at his nose. The number of theatres, music-
halls, dancing-rooms, lager-beer cellars, and bar and
billiard-rooms, is prodigious, and there are a good many
gambling hells, which the town authorities are not
supposed to countenance now the town has grown
moral, and are kept a little more out of sight. There
are a fine Boman Catholic Cathedral and many good
public buildings, including schools, colleges, and hospitals ; but on the whole there is a striking deficiency
of places for religious uses.
Although the immediate surroundings of the town
are of a barren aspect, and the climate is hardly
desirable owing to a cold blast which blows in from the
sea at mid-day all through the year, filling the eyes
and mouth and every available pore with the all-
pervading sand, the country a short distance away
and the climate are equally delightful.
We had many charming excursions in the neighbourhood, and my companion and I could well have wished
to stay longer had time or our finances permitted it;
but, as neither did, we booked our passages for Vancouver's Island in company with the .greater number of
our fellow-passenger's from England. It grieves me to
state that one of those who stayed behind did so
against his will, on account of a misunderstanding as
to the ownership of two or three watches, rings, and
suits of clothes at his hotel. It is with some counter
satisfaction however, that I here proclaim the fact that 30
the delinquent was not a steerage passenger, but a
newly-effected convert and ardent disciple of the Bev.
Lakofyr N. Brimstun, of the second cabin.
We were joined in our northward path by three or.
four hundred Californian miners, whom the noise of
the new gold-fields was attracting to British territory. 31
The remainder of our voyage was more pleasant than
the portion between Panama and San Francisco, there
being far fewer passengers and a consequent improvement in the general comfort.
As we neared our destination, a marked change
might have been observed creeping over all the ' green'
hands. We had been, so far, looking on the whole
thing very much in the light of a pleasure trip; but
we all knew now that we had many stern realities to
face, and that for most of us Life was just commencing.
In these few days the reckless air of gaiety that had
pervaded the company seemed to wear off, and a sort of
nervous, restless, but still hopeful feeling, to take its
place. The boy (few of us were much more) was
suddenly converted into the man; friendships were
cemented and joint plans framed; purses counted, often
with rueful eyes; and portraits of mothers and sweethearts were brought out from bidden recesses and
looked at more often than they had been in many
In striking opposition to all this was the mien and
■*■ 32
conduct of the old stagers who had joined us. There
are not many people who exhibit the same amount of
stoicism and sang froid as the regular gold miner.
Many runs of luck, good and bad—the bad too often
preponderating—have rendered him, beyond the ordinary race of mortals, callous to surrounding circumstances. He is, in ordinary cases, found to be a man of
a rugged though kindly disposition, and of a mood
rather reserved and contemplative than otherwise; his
solitary life, uncheered by the society of the softer sex,
tending greatly no doubt to produce these characteristics. Not unfrequently his acquirements are far in
advance of those one would expect to find in a person
of his position, owing to his having availed himself, in
his solitary leisure, of the solace to be found in books.
Of course a reaction sometimes occurs, all the more
violent in men of such a temperament, and when one
of our friends does ' break out' upon some exceptional
occasion, one. might well be pardoned for looking for
the traditional hoofs and horns of a well-known character in the person of the delinquent.
We youngsters were rather patronised in a good-
natured, fatherly sort of way, by these ' honest miners,'
who liked to hear us talk of home, recalling reminiscences of what was to most of them almost a forgotten
subject; and we derived from them—though they were
more apt at listening than talking—what should have
been many valuable hints for our future guidance.
On the third night out we had a great fright.    The THE ARRIVAL.
sea had been singularly calm all day, and appeared
likely to continue so when we turned in; but about an
hour or two afterwards I was awakened by a most terrific
row. Lamps and unsecured movables of all sorts took*
a sudden run, and I found myself nearly standing on
my head in my bunk, while many people were tumbled
headlong out of their sleeping-places. A moment
afterwards my position was almost diametrically reversed, and as soon as I could get myself together I
sprang out, with the rest of us who hadn't been summarily pitched out, and all of us, save a fat old Dutchman who snored placidly through it all, made a rush
for the deck, expecting that we Were taking a short
cut to the bottom.
Our fears on this score were dissipated when we saw
that we were now going smoothly along as if nothing
had happened; but far ahead of us we saw in the moonlight a huge smooth mountain of water rolling onwards
at a swift pace. One of the officers told us that this wave
was sometimes met with in the North Pacific, nearly
always at a time when the sea was as calm as then, and
that it was supposed to be the result of a submarine earth*
quake; further, that it had very nearly pooped Us, and
that' he guessed fresh provisions were kinder played out
till he got back to 'Frisco,' owing to the sheep and
cattle being all washed overboard. And so we had
again to betake ourselves to ' salt horse' as kindly as
we might for a few days.
D 34
On the fifth day we entered the Straits of San Juan
de Fuea, running between Vancouver Island and Washington territory, and hailed the sight of the westernmost possession of the empire ' on which the sun never
sets.' A few hours after we anchored in the harbour of
Esquimalt, the naval station of our North Pacific
squadron, where two or three British men-of-war
were lying sleepily on the smooth land-locked water,
on which the encircling hills, with their- pine-clad sides,
were reflected as in a mirror.
It was a cheering: sight to graze onee more on the
symmetrical lines, tapering masts, and trim rigging of
our beautiful swans of the ocean ; but their appearance
only made the sterile neighbouring country look more
cheerless still. We were soon surrounded by multitudes of Indians in canoes, all chattering in a horrible
guttural tongue, and presenting a strange appearance
to our unsophisticated eyes; although they certainly
seemed the most fitting inhabitants of the wild, desolate-
looking place.
We all thought this was Victoria, the capital of the
colony (a town, we had heard, of some five or six
thousand inhabitants) but seeing only some dozen log
huts and shanties built of boards, we were considerably
disappointed with the supposed metropolis, and began
to look at one another in some dismay, in which even
the old hands appeared to take a share.
The little cluster of huts and shanties were dominated THE ARRIVAL.
by a more lordly-looking edifice, built of very solid
logs, in front of which a gigantic spar was reared,
bearing a flag upon which could be distinguished the
letters, ' H. B. C.' (Hudson's Bay Company). Going
upon the hurricane-deck to take a wider survey, I
heard the following colloquy betwixt two old Califor-
nians, both of the broadest Western type, which didn't
tend to improve my own first impressions:-—
' Say, Bill! this yer's rayther a one-hoss settlement,
I guess.    Whar be all the critters ?'
' Caan't say. Beckon they lives underground, 'less
they've turned Injins, and air retired into the wilderness to fix 'emselves up in thar war-paint.'
' Waall now, what's that ar flag, with them letters ?'
Bill's attention thus directed, fastened itself on the
prominent piece of bunting. After some consideration,
and much expectoration, he slowly replied: \ Le'ss see,
" B. C." in ancient history means " Before Christ," I
b'lieve—'tleast so the school-marm used to tell when I
was to school—tharfore, I calc'late "H. B. C." to
mean " Here before Christ;" fur this 'tarnal location
don't 'pear to've bin much overrun with strangers since
that period. 'Guess I'll make tracks back, to Californy
right smart, yu bet!'
A change soon took place, however. Stages (consisting of wagon-boxes placed on the axle-trees, without
attention to springs) and baggage-drays, the latter
mostly under the guidance of negroes, began to draw up 36
in considerable numbers, along the only wharf the
harbour boasted; and we then heard, to our surprise
and joy, that Victoria was situate in another harbour
three miles away, too shallow to admit vessels of a
large class ; and that Sambo or Cuffey was prepared to
transfer our belongings and ourselves to the immediate
resting-place of our hopes, at the small charge of ' haf
a dollar ahead, sar.'
Consigning our traps to the custody of an enterprising darkey, whose well-fed mule appeared to be equal
to his load, a party of a dozen or two of us started along
on foot, keeping our ebony friend in sight; all of us
very glad to stretch our legs once more on land, and to
think we hadn't any more sea travel worth mentioning
to accomplish.
We did not forget to ask every imaginable question
from Sambo on the way, who appeared delighted at the
opportunity of exercising his inherent loquacity and
talent for stretching the long-bow. Many stories he
told of rich miners returning to Victoria from the
upper country, bathing their feet in champagne, eating
ten-dollar bills, and committing similar absurd extravagances ; and our mercurial spirits were soon raised
to the highest pitch by the narration—so much so, that
I don't suppose any one of the party (except Sambo and
the mule, of course) would have been a bit surprised
to kick against a nugget in the macadamised road we
were travelling. |ta
After about two miles along a road generally closed
in with trees on both sides, but occasionally affording
a glimpse of the sea through some break in the thick
woods, we came suddenly upon our first view of the
harbour and town of Victoria, with quite an extensive
prospect opening out in every direction; the whole
forming a very charming picture in the clear air of a
spring evening.
The town, then built almost entirely of wood, painted
in many colours, stood on a slight rise, gently sloping
down to the margin of the water, so that nearly every
house could be plainly seen. For a short distance
round the land was like a park, studded here and there
with oak and patches of grey rock which cropped out
from the green surface ; whilst, at intervals, numerous
residences peeped forth from secluded nooks in the
uncleared woods forming the immediate background,
. or overlooked the prospect from some prominent point.
High rocky hills, covered with the ever-present pine
and fir, with the sun just setting behind them, and
tinging them with many hues, shut in the scene from
the land side; and to seaward, across the Gulf of
Georgia, the chain of the Olympian mountains showed
their snow-clad summits, lit up with pink and purple
by the expiring rays, and their sides fading fast into
the darkness of the coming night. In the harbour a
few sailing-vessels and steamboats lay calmly at anchor,
and a number of Indian canoes crept stealthily about,
tm 38
under the paddles of their picturesque-looking occupants ; whose mournful ditties, in time with the stroke
of their paddles, could be heard from time to time,
borne far on the still air. Opposite the town, and
close to us, was the' rancherie,' or village of the native
tribe; its huge rambling huts, built of unhewn slabs
of cedar, blackened by the weather, making a
curious contrast with the dwellings of the intruding
strangers; many of which, in the shape of tents,
were to be seen close ahead of us, forming a little
white village by themselves, whence the sound of
merry voiees occasionally reached us.
Everything was so calm and lovely, and was so suggestive of rest, that by a mutual instinct we all of us
stayed gazing a long time at the place which was to
form our head-quarters during our stay in that part of
the world. It was like the sudden transformation scene
in an extravaganza; we stood there dreamily contem-,
plating it with pleasant anticipation, but still diffident
of approaching it closer, lest the spell should be broken,
and all the loveliness turn into blue lights and tinsel.
At length, however, my reverie was broken, and my
quiet pipe disturbed, by a less imaginative fellow-
traveller, whose digestive organs became excited by the
scent of a beef-steak frizzling on one of the neighbour-
ing camp-fires, and who declined any longer to feast his
eyes at the expense of his stomach. So we marched onwards again, to be soon stopped once more by the hails. THE ARRIVAL.
of the happy possessors of the beef-steak, who appeared
to be some of a party of emigrants which had preceded
us by a few weeks, and on the strength of their
seniority in the country came down to the side of the
road to scrutinise us and chaff the ' new chums,' with
all the airs of professed back-woodsmen—although the
yard measure appeared to be to many of them a more
natural and becoming weapon than axe or shovel.
After a little good-humoured badinage we proceeded,
and crossing the bridge over the harbour, reached the
town, where we finally pulled up at the doors of an
hotel recommended by our baggage-driver, who was
doubtless connected with the establishment in some
vicarious manner.
I was not a little surprised, on asking in the conventional manner for a bed for the night, to be shown by
the energetic proprietor (in his shirt-sleeves, ready for
any emergency) into a billiard saloon, upon the floor
of which he kindly pointed out a space about three
feet wide, where I might, in company with forty or
fifty others provided with similar accommodation,
spread my own blankets, and sleep upon them, for a
trifling fee of fifty cents.
I began rather to wish that I had provided myself
with a tent at San Francisco, and joined our chaffy
friends of the beef-steak in the camp at' Canvas-town';
where at least I might have enjoyed my own blankets
and a larger space for nothing.    I remonstrated gently 40
with my host, who appeared somewhat flushed with the
prospects of gain held out by the number of our party,
but all the reply I could get was, that ' he reckoned
any man that 'ud raise a growl on such an occashin was
darned small pertaters: I might spread out on the
side-walk, or turn in with an Injin, if I was a mind to,
but his charge to a white man for nightly accommoda-
shin was fifty cents, and niggers rigidly excluded.'
The originality of this man as a caterer to the public
rather amused us, and I think induced us more than
anything to submit to the inconvenience and the
swindle. We took excursions to other houses, but
found them all full, and were glad in the end to
occupy our respective plots of six feet by three.
I went off to sleep tolerably early on my allotted
portion of the floor, intending on the morrow to inspect and form my opinions of the place and its inhabitants, and to present some letters of introduction to
the latter. The only drawback I found (I had been
used to hunting out a soft plank on deck to sleep upon
for some time past), was that a pair of gentry, who
came in rather late, requested permission of the recumbent occupiers of the floor to play a game of billiards,
as a bet of a hundred dollars depended upon it; promising, at the same time, to ' step clear and not disturb
anybody.' This arrangement succeeded well enough for
some time, till one of the players began to lose the
game and his temper, and, heedless for the moment of THE ARRIVAL.
the position of affairs, brought down the butt-end of
Jens cue on what he fondly imagined was the floor. It
happened, however, to be the stomach of a burly young
Englishman, who, having the bad taste not to see the
joke, jumped up and struck the man with the cue a
considerable blow in the eye, knocking him down on
the top of a few more of us, including myself. This
caused a great row, in which' everybody hit out at
everybody else; the lights were put out, somebody fired
off a pistol, and amidst great confusion the two players
somehow got hustled out into the street, there to settle
anew, in some other place, their hundred-dollar bet.
I have had my doubts, on a further study of American character, whether that final coup of the cue-
butt was not premeditated by the losing gentleman. 42
Vancouver's island.
I do not purpose entering into a regular history and
description in the guide-book style of this colony, or
the sister one of British Columbia; but a few introductory remarks on the subject may give some
impression of the kind of place our trans-Bocky-
Mountain possessions are.
It is not more than fourteen years ago that the only
civilised creatures (and not too highly civilised either)
who encroached on the wilderness were the traders
and employes of the Hudson's Bay Company. They
had a few scattered forts about the country, which
were the outposts of their fur-trading system; and
they lived on friendly terms (often culminating in
closer ties) with the members of the numerous Indian
tribes who peopled the country. These forts have
since been kept up, although with a different object
to that originally contemplated; for some of them now
form the centres of little towns, and are used as mere
shops for the convenience of the whites, instead of
depositories of furs and skins.
So little attraction does the territory possess from an VANCOUVER'S ISLAND.
agricultural point of view, that in all probability its
primitive aspect would not have been altered for a
century or two, had it not been for the gold discoveries first made on the bars of the Fraser Biver in
1858. These caused a large influx of miners from
California, who, with the native pioneering spirit of
Americans, pushed their discoveries to a much greater
extent, until the Cariboo district was found in 1861,
in which year the first accounts reached England, and
created an immense excitement, as the reader may
perhaps remember.
A large number of these Americans have stayed in
the country, so that, although a British colony, at least
half of its population consists of persons who are not
British subjects. The general cosmopohtan character
of the people on the Pacific Coast is also well represented here; there being many French, German,
Italian, Spanish, Chinese, negroes, and numbers of
almost every race that can be named in fact.
It is difficult to imagine any country of its size with
so small a proportion of its area available for cultivation ; rocks, pine-trees, and rushing torrents, are the
staple constituents of its surface. The delta at the
mouths of the rivers contain, some rich'land, but most
of it is covered with heavy timber and thick brushwood, the labour and expense of clearing which are
not to be lightly estimated. In the upper country
there are a few valleys possessing lands of compara- 44
tively insignificant extent, and of a light, though
fertile soiL Where irrigation is possible, these havg
been turned to good1 account; but when the virgin
character of the soil is exhausted, as from its lightness
it soon will be, the unfortunate farmer will hardly find
another spot where any market for his produce can be
obtained. The idea of manuring lands in that part of
the world is placed entirely out of the question by the
expense such a process would entail, rendering all hope
of successful competition hopeless.
I am induced to state these facts from my own
recollection of the descriptions given at home of the
fertility of the country, and its enormous agricultural
resources, by people of some authority who have
visited England, and preached, written, and spouted
on the subject; omitting, however, to mention the fact,
that they were the owners of large tracts of ground,
purchased for a mere song, which they desired to
convert into ' Edens' by means of their grossly exaggerated statements, to use the mildest phrase
possible. There was no one to dispute them in those
early days.
The real wealth of the place is in its minerals,
timber, and fisheries; and in any one of these respects
it certainly offers no mean inducements to the capitalist
who may be disposed to risk a chance of total loss for
a large prospective gain.
To revert to myself. On waking in the morning I
presented myself at the bar, and received the customary VANCOUVER'S ISLAND.
* cocktail.'   (Reader, this is a bad habit, though enticing ; don't be seduced into it if you go to America.)
Whilst engaged in discussing this compound, I was
interviewed by the intelligent and enterprising ' items-
man' of a local paper, whom the landlord introduced
to me as anxious to gain the latest scraps of news
respecting   the old country.     He  appeared  to  be,
like many others of his compatriots on the Pacific,
of   strong   Southern   sympathies;   and   pressed   me
strongly to disclose any state secrets I might possess
concerning the intentions of ' Victori' and the leadin'
politishins to home' with regard to the war then
raging in the States.    On finding, after much pumping in the most suspicious tone, that I was really
innocent of all complicity in such affairs, he seemed to
regard me as a harmless creature whom it behoved
him to protect, and therefore kindly offered to show
me everything in the place worth a visit—an  offer
which I gladly accepted after breakfast, although I
found the gentleman's society a little irksome after a
time on account of the numberless and varied drinks
I was expected to imbibe.    The average Victorian's
sense of bliss apparently consists of the largest possible
number of drinks in the shortest possible time, varied
with cigars and billiards ad lib.    The number  of
billiard-tables is simply astonishing to English eyes:
there are at least eighty to  a town  of  five  or six
thousand inhabitants, and they seem to be kept well
going day and night. 46
We made an extensive tour of the various saloons
and the principal stores,*where we fell in and conversed
with a good many returned miners; took a trip across
the ferry to the Indian village (the strange features of
savage life thus presented hardly recompensing one for
the outrage on one's olfactories); had a peep at a huge
pile of gold-dust just brought down by one of the lucky
miners; and ended with a visit at the residence of the
Governor, to whom one of my letters of introduction
was addressed.
Letters of introduction! Reader, a little more advice ; never carry them—at any rate to a colony with
the expectation of their assisting your fortunes—unless
you have good reason to believe that pipe-lights may
be a valuable commodity at the place you are going to.
After the first salutations had passed, the inevitable
practical question came, ' Well, sir, what can I do for
you ? ' I had some dim notion of the possibility of a
snug government berth for a time* with nothing to do
and plenty of pay, and hinted this misty idea in a subdued way to my friend the Governor. The only answer
I got, or needed, was that gentleman's suddenly opening a huge drawer in his library, containing, I should
fancy, a thousand or more 'letters of introduction.'
This unhappy vision was supplemented by the advice—
wholesome certainly, if unpleasant—that if I was hard
up> the best thing that offered was to go up country
and work on the roads.   Taking a speedy leave of her VANCOUVER^ ISLAND.
Majesty's representative, I resolved to chalk out a plan
of operations with my companion from England at
When our projects came to be discussed, we found
they did not hit together at all well. Mine were of a
far more speculative nature than his, owing to my not
having been seasoned by frequent disappointments as
he had. He therefore proposed staying where he was
for some time to come, and obtaining a livelihood
without risking the vicissitudes of fortune at the
mines. Nothing would satisfy me but an immediate
plunge in medias res, and I deemed him rather fainthearted for not sharing my own views. As, however,
his determination was as fully formed as my own,
further discussion was useless ; and we parted, wishing
one another success in our new missions.
My resolution got a little shaken on the following
day by an excellent offer I received from a member of
the legal profession, with whom- I had struck up a
casual acquaintance, and who advised me strongly not
to go to the mines. ' A miner,' said he, ' is but the
means of conveying money into other people's pockets:
he is simply our agent, though he would'nt acknowledge that position. I can name to you a hundred
miners who have made fortunes, and lost or spent
them, for perhaps two who have been able to stick to
them. We townspeople have nothing to do but sit on
our beam-ends, and wait for these hard-working, de- 48
luded creatures to come and pour wealth into  our
But the spirit of adventure was then too predominant
to allow of the voice of reason being heard, and I
stopped my ears to the words of wisdom. There is
little doubt, that, had I followed the advice of this
disciple of Blackstone, I might ere now have been too
rich to have to work for a living; for, with a prescience
worthy of his calling, this gentleman recommended me
to invest my little capital of between two and three
hundred pounds in the purchase of some town-lots
fronting the harbour. I did go to examine these investments certainly, but found them to consist of a
large mass of solid rock, not near any habitation, and
not looking then as if they were calculated to form
anything but an eyesore; notwithstanding, five years
afterwards they were valued at ten thousand pounds,
and were the site of the largest warehouses in the town.
The foolish excitement I was imbued with might
well be pardoned on account of the immense number
of persons who shared in it. Even hotel and storekeepers, and other sharks of all descriptions, were so
crazed by the startling accounts of immediate wealth
that reached us every day, that they threw up their
sure and steady gains for the uncertain chances of the
mines. The whole place was utterly wild, and it required a steady nerve indeed to withstand the temptations held forth by so many seductive stories. VANCOUVER'S ISLAND.
Emigrants thronged the streets, buying broken-down
mules and Indian ponies, and loading them with provisions and mining implements, packed in so ill a
manner that one could well imagine how little skin
would remain on the backs of the wretched quadrupeds
when their journey was completed. The number of
falls in the street sustained by inexperienced tyros in
trying the qualities of their equine purchases was
great, for Indian horses have an unpleasant habit of
buck-jumping, hard to resist even in a Mexican
Many auctions were to be seen at street corners;
the goods for sale consisting of articles utterly useless
for up-country purposes to their possessors, such as
dress suits, dressing cases, and other things of the kind,
which had been crammed into the trunks of the emigrants under the idea that they were indispensable.
One of the items I saw was an iron wash-stand, with
fittings complete, which its owner had regarded with
much complacency as 'just the thing for that country,
you know,' until he found he should have to carry
it on his back for three or four hundred miles, if he
wished to avail himself of the prodigious facilities for
open air ablutions en route which it offered. . The
prices realised'were, of course, ridiculously small, as no
one wanted such superfluities, and the money spent on
them in the first instance would have been far better
carried in the pockets of the luckless wights.    The
1 50
only outfit a man who intends to rough it ought to
carry, is a few rough strong clothes and woollen shirts.
Criers paraded the streets, shouting forth the hours
of departure of various steamboats for New Westminster (the capital of  British Columbia, and the next
place on the way to the mines) and the fares; which
latter, as there was considerable opposition, were very
low.    Parties of sober old miners, clad in blue or red
shirts, with their ' pants' tucked into knee boots, their
belts showing the usual jack-knife and revolver, their
heads crowned with wide felt hats, and their backs
laden with small well put-up packs, consisting of a
pair of blankets, enclosing a spare shirt and pair of
socks (with the addition, perhaps, but not in many
cases, I expect, from the bearer's appearance, of a piece
of soap), wended their way quietly to the wharves, and
got on board the expectant steamers.    Here and there,
a green youth fresh from home was toiling along under
a load of Heaven knows how many pounds weight
{hundredweight I was going  to   say) of traps;   the
greater part of which he would probably relinquish at
the end of the first day's tramp, a prey to the jackal
instinct of some prowling denizen of the forest.    Scattered over the town, groups of dirty and stolid Indians,
in many-coloured blankets,  with  their   squaws  and
little red-skins—none of the family at all representing
Mr. J. Fenimore Cooper's ideal—watched the  scene
•with the air of grand spectators, for whom it had been
specially prepared; occasionally making remarks among VANCOUVER^ ISLAND.
•themselves in their own tongue upon the passers-by;
doubtless, too, in unflattering criticism, judging by the
sympathetic guffaws of the listeners. The whole place
seemed to be in a most unwonted state of bustle and
uproar; the only commensurate excitement I can think
of, which might be seen at home, would be in a remote
country village on its annual fair-day.
I didn't waste much time when my intentions were
fixed, but proceeded straightway to purchase a couple
of mules, and a load of provisions for each of them to
carry, with a few tools superadded. I then joined my
fortunes with one of my late shipmates, who made
similar purchases, and we made our way on board one
of the steamers for New Westminster; not without
some resistance on the part of our mules though, who
didn't seem to bargain for anything but terra firma.
After persuading these creatures by numberless kicks
that their conduct was indecorous, we got them safely
berthed for the night, took off their loads, and gave
them a heavy feed to put them in good temper for
their trip next morning; while we returned to the
town to take a final leave-taking of the friends we had
left behind, and to sleep and dream of the unfailing
nuggets that were waiting for us to a certainty, if for
nobody else.
Next morning, at an early hour we started off, after
a little adventure occurring. One of our fellow passengers, whose steps were rather unsteady from the
K 2 52
hospitality he had encountered, not finding the gangway quite wide enough for him, fell into the water, to
the great consternation of everyone. As the poor
fellow could not swim a stroke, and nobody seemed
inclined to render him any assistance, I jumped in and
dragged him to some steps close by, whence we endeavoured to transfer ourselves once more to the boat.
For this purpose I lent my newly-acquired protege" my
arm; but, on essaying the gangway again, the old
impulse seemed to overtake him, he gave a sudden
lurch, and again went over, dragging me with him
before I could extricate myself from his grip. This
time it wasn't so pleasant, for he held me tight; and
I was beginning to lose presence of mind and swallow
salt water pretty freely, when I took advantage of an
opportune moment to hit my adversary, as I was now
compelled to regard him, so violent a blow on the nose
that he let go of me and sunk. A boat had by this
time worked round to us, into which I clambered
much exhausted, and the object of my solicitude was
hauled in, as he reappeared on the surface, more dead
than alive.
When the drunken passenger came to (his bath and
a slight sleep soon sobered him), he certainly embarrassed me almost as much by the warmth of his thanks—
the gentleman was of Milesian extraction—as he had
previously inconvenienced me with the vigour of his
watery embraces; and we laughed together over his
swollen nose, which he protested he hoped would long ■fl
continue in that condition as a warning to him against
strong drinks. I believe the ' bhoy' would have done
anything for me after this; and indeed, when the occasion came, he did'nt fail to show his friendship.
After about ten hours steaming among the numerous
islands of the Gulf of Georgia, constituting the most
delightful scenery possible, we entered the Fraser
River, and soon came in sight of the capital of British
Columbia; a little bantling town, occupying a noble
site in a fine stretch of the river. The town is frequently designated ' Stump-ville,' and one would certainly think a more appropriate name could not have
been adopted. An immense forest of cedar and pine trees
has been partially cleared away to give place to the
straggling streets and occasional shanties which form
the dignified capital; and, as if in mockery of their
puny slayers, the blackened stumps of the huge trees
stand forth in every direction, from the edge of the
water to the unattached domains of the forest in the
background, bidding defiance to man's efforts at destruction.
The prospect, however, was a pleasing one to us, for it
gave a hope of relief from the swarm of mosquitoes that
had been attacking us ever since we entered the river,
and we gladly landed in the presence of every available
man, woman, and child of the resident population, to
whom the advent of a steamboat was the only break in
the monotony of their existence, and the only hope of
subsistence, gained by plunder of the passing travellers. 54
UP the country.
It was not a matter of regret to us that we only had
one night to spend in the capital, for the accommodation was more than indifferent, and the local attractions
were small.
The town was in such an embryonic state that many
of its streets leading up-hill were mere quarries, down
which the unsuspecting stranger might fall a depth of
from ten to twenty feet every now and then, supposing
he had not broken a limb at the first tumble. The
night was pitch dark, and no lights warned the wayfarer of his danger.
Being of an enquiring turn of mind, I wished to
make a tour of the place; and having almost accomplished it, I was returning to my boarding-house close
to the wharf, walking gaily along whistling an air,
when suddenly—thud! I fell on all fours, from a
height of about ten feet, upon a soft and writhing
mass, which emitted many squeals and groans. Rubbing
my shins, and stepping away a short distance, a lucifer
match being suddenly lit and applied to a pitch-pine
torch, I discovered by the light of it an Indian standing UP THE COUNTRY.
in a menacing attitude with uplifted hatchet, while his
wife and children stared and gesticulated wildly at the
unwilling intruder of their slumbers.
As I did'nt know a word of the language in which
the Indian challenged me, and couldn't therefore explain that the mistake arose entirely through his going
to bed at so unnaturally early an hour, feeling moreover
rather ' skeared' by his appearance, I drew my six-
shooter : upon which he dropped his hatchet, and incontinently fled with the partner of his bosom and their
olive branches (with a coppery tinge); leaving me master
of the field. On examining the spot I found I had
fallen upon the rude tent of the family, which had been
pitched for the night under the shelter of the little
declivity, and had of course carried it down with me on
the top of the occupants of the connubial couch.
I limped away as best I could—for one of my shins
had come across a tin kettle—and reached the boarding-house with my impressions of New Westminster
about on a par with my temper. I found that our
host was a town councillor, and proceeded to rate him
soundly, in his administrative capacity, on the state of
the thoroughfares; for which luxury I found, on comparing figures with my fellow guests, I was charged an
extra dollar. It was wrong, but clearly the man had
no discrimination—he could'nt separate his office from
We were now to get on board a river steamer to go
1 56
as far as Fort Yale, about a hundred miles above, and
the head of steamer navigation on the Fraser. I do
not suppose such another river has ever been navigated
by steamers at all, for at some places near Yale the
stream is never less than twelve or fourteen miles an
hour, and the whole course of the river is full of difficulties and dangers of every description.
The river steamers are all built with a view to overcome these difficulties as far as possible. Their hulls
are almost flat-bottomed, and they only draw two feet
of water or thereabouts. To make up for the deficiency
in depth they are of great length and beam. Their
bows are of the shape termed ' shovel-nosed,' and from
this point they run away aft quite straight; very much
resembling a section of a rifle-cartridge in fact. The
propelling medium is a huge wheel at the stern, from
eighteen to twenty-four feet in diameter, extending
across the entire width of the boat. This wheel is not
immersed to a greater depth than that of the paddles,
(about eighteen inches) and is connected with the
cylinders by means of cranks and connecting-rods.
The boilers are well forard, close in the bows, and the
furnaces are on a level with the main deck and quite
open, to enable them to get all the draught caused by the
motion of the vessel. The steam is conducted from
the boilers to the cylinders in the engine-room (which
is the farthest thing astern on the main deck) by long
pipes, which make the place   fearfully hot in the UP THE COUNTRY.
summer-time. The rest of the space on this level is
occupied by freight, and by Indians, Chinamen, and
niggers, whom the free and independent American citizen
refuses to have in his company on the upper or passenger
Above the rectagonal part of the hull (the shovel-
nosed bow being retained as an open space) is the
saloon deck, generally fitted up in very good style, and
being much the same as the similar part of an ordinary
steamer. Sometimes yet another deck is added to this,
while surmounting everything is the pilot house, placed
at the for'ard extremity of the upper deck ; the wheel
working the rudders (of which there are four parallel to
each other) by means of chains running in grooves along
the hurricane-deck.
Of course the engines are of the high-pressure order ;
and when one embarks one naturally turns his attention
to the boilers, for he may depend on their being well
tried during the trip, especially if the water be at anything like a difficult stage—either too high, or too low.
We were fortunate in getting a passage on one of the
.best of these river craft; and, after another dispute with
our mules, we got comfortably on board, and started
in a regular pandemonium of excitement; the whole
of the population again favouring us with their presence on the wharf, showering hopes and blessings upon
us, and putting on their most affectionate behaviour, in
the hope, I suppose, that we might spend a few of our 58
dollars there when we returned, instead of bolting off
to Victoria, and spending all our substance during the
ensuing winter season upon their dreaded rival.
The lines were cast off, the last stick of cord^wood
piled up on the bows (with the double intent of being
near the furnace, and of trimming our boat by the
head), the last gangway shipped, the inevitable man
left behind being close in sight, running for dear life,
but too late, alas! and away we went, the furnace
roaring, and the 'scape-pipe snorting like some monster
with the croup. Soon little of us was to be seen from
the wharf but the cloud of spray sent up by our wheel
as we stemmed the river.
The first part of our journey was not particularly
entertaining; as, owing to the denseness of the woods
on the banks, we could gain no view of the country we
were passing through; and we stopped nowhere, except
to wood up, at occasional spots, where one or two woodcutters, more than half savages (their better halves
being generally whole savages) appeared, and carefully
measured the quantity of wood supplied to satisfy the
inordinate appetite of our ' fire-canoe,' as the Indians
termed it.
One had a good opportunity during this time to take
notes of one's neighbours, and the general company
certainly presented strange features to untrained
Beginning with the crew, the capt
am was a wa
.old pilot, who knew every inch of tl
ie river, every tree UP THE COUNTRY.
to tie up to, and every snag and rock in our course, and
who, from long familiarity with danger, seemed to
regard his arduous duties as rightly as the driver of a
' one hoss chay.' His was no easy time of it either,
for in bad parts of the river he had to take the wheel
himself for hours at a stretch. The mate was a burly
ruffian, who exercised a strong arm and voice over the
deck-hands, mostly made up of Indians, and who
.seemed to have less to do (except in the way of talking
and swearing) than any other member of the crew.
The engineer was apparently a runaway fireman from
a man-of-war, who had been promoted to his present
position faute de mieux; whilst his subordinates, who
replenished. continually the insatiable furnace, were, I
should think, the veriest and hardest-working slaves in
existence. The high-toned and elegant bar-keeper in
snowy shirt sleeves, and of gentlemanly mien, was on
board, of course.
All the passengers were bound for the mines in
different capacities; three parts of them were bond
fide miners in the roughest of attire; the remaining
fourth were storekeepers and gamblers, and two members of the other sex ; one of the latter a washerwoman,
who afterwards made a large fortune I heard, and the
other a courageous lady about to join her husband.
Ladies bound for the upper country were rare birds,
indeed, at that time, and as such were regarded with
much wondering curiosity, and some amount of chivalric 60
respect by the miners, who, with the greatest self-
denial, actually refrained from swearing within earshot, or squirting tobacco-juice within a yard of them.
Even the homely laundress was raised by the scarcity
of her sex into a goddess for the nonce.
When dinner was spread in the saloon, everybody
made a simultaneous rush for places, knocking over on
their way one or two nigger stewards bearing savoury
dishes, and appearing to think that the first man there
would certainly eat up everything and leave none for
the rest.
I am sorry to say that even the ladies were forgotten
at that time, and would hardly have got a mouthful
had it not been for the captain ; who, with a tact
admirable on such an occasion, stretched himself at
full length along the table opposite the best dishes,
until the rest of the company were seated, thus
reserving space enough for the dames and himself.
But his constancy was ill requited by the washerwoman,
who had paid two or three visits to the bar, and in a
facetious mood, excited by the captain's peculiar situation, stuck a pin into the most readily yielding portion
of his body, exclaiming,' Git up, cap'n I 'Beckon we
caan't eat you, nohow I'
When dinner was over—it didn't take long at the
rate everyone gobbled—and the cloth was removed
from the long table, it was soon occupied by the
gamblers, professional and otherwise.    Gold and notes UP THE COUNTRY.
began to appear freely, and to change hands rapidly.
<3reat piles of twenty-dollar pieces lay about the table
in tempting confusion, and the clattering and chinking
was incessant. As the players became warmed to their
work the excitement increased, and shouts and oaths
rang through the place. Everyone who, from want of
inclination or money, did not play, looked on, almost
equally interested with the players in the different
games, of which ' poker' seemed to be the favourite.
This game is founded on our English one of ' brag,'
and affords great facilities for rash speculation, as well
as for the light arts of the cttevaliers d,industrie.
At one end of the board, where two of these gentlemen appeared to have a couple of foolish fellows in
their clutches, a dispute soon arose, owing to one of
the pigeons seeing his neighbour pick a card from his
lap. A revolver and a knife were drawn in an instant,
but luckily the adversaries were separated before any
harm happened. A duel on shore was threatened; but
as I didn't hear afterwards of any catastrophe, I suppose our friends thought better of it when their blood
was cooled.
Night soon came on, and we ran the nose of our
boat on shore, and tied up to a convenient tree, waiting for the moon to rise. My partner and myself
looked about for a place to sleep, but found much difficulty in securing one. The saloon (the floor of which
was generally used for such a purpose) was impracti- 62
cable on account of the row: we tried the freight on
the deck below, and were coiling ourselves snugly on
some sacks, when we were warned by one of the hands
that if we valued our lives, and had matches in our
pockets, we had better clear out, as there were half a
dozen barrels of blasting-powder beneath us. We left.
At length we made friends with the engineer, who afforded us a space in his sanctum, on the floor of which
we gladly spread our blankets.
In an hour or so we were roused by the working of
the engines, and found we were under weigh again.
Our engineer at the same time requested us to find a
fresh i berth, as we were in the way. Despairing of
sleep, we lit our pipes, and stumbled about till we got
to the upper deck again.
Looking about us, we saw that the moon was shining
brightly, and that we were once more ascending the
river, although but slowly now, from the increased
strength of the current. The aspect of the country was
quite changed too; we were shut in on each side by
grim mountains coming almost close down to the
water's edge, while the river swept swiftly round their
bases. Snags and rocks appeared here and there,
breaking the smooth surface of the water into gdancinsr
ripples. On one side the moon threw its soft but brilliant light; on the other the mountains cast their
huge shadows, hiding everything in the obscurity but
the fast-expiring glow caused by the  fire  of   some UP THE COUNTRY.
Indian's camping-place. At a bend of the river, farther
on, a line of troubled water danced in the moonlight,
revealing the hidden shoals; and above all the stars
glittered peacefully, reflecting themselves shiveringly
in the cold waters beneath. Nothing disturbed the
calm repose of the scene but the stertorous breathing
of our fire-fed monster, as it assailed the swift running
stream, ploughing its way sturdily against it, and the
occasional echo of voices from the interior of the cabin,
breaking harshly on the ear in the holy stillness of the
While enjoying all this, half asleep and wholly abstracted, a fresh sound arose. Getting up hastily, and
running aft to ascertain the cause of this, I saw the
sparks flying from the funnel of another steamer, and
its fires throwing a ruddy glare on the waters it was
rapidly displacing in its efforts to catch up to us. In
order to effect this object it had followed the dangerous expedient of running in the dark, whilst we had
been tied up safely to the bank.
Our ubiquitous captain appeared to have his observation attracted towards our'rival at the same time as
I did, and forthwith began to raise the still echoes by
many loud expletives and commands to the crew, expressing all the time his determination to ' lick 'er or
bust!' He accordingly liquor'd two or three times on
the spot, and did not explode, except in words.
At once proceeding to business, he yelled out to the 64
wretched firemen,' Say, below thar, you 'tarnal skunks,
jes' you wire in, will yer 1'
'Wire in yerself, old man, and don't stand thar
blowin'. Ef you want us to whip that other boat, you'd
better hire a few o' them loafers to help us; for we're
kinder played out.'
Many oaths followed from the captain and the mate,
who now showed up more than half asleep and less
than half sober. The Indian wood-passers were set
hard to work, by the aid of kicks and objurgations in
the Chinook jargon; and the furnaces began to glare
with ruddy fierceness, as the dampers were withdrawn
from them, and the resinous firewood was heaped into
their yawning mouths.
Our pace mended, but the opposition craft gained
fast on us; so the fireman's advice was adopted, the
captain shouting:—
' Five dollars a head, boys, for any of yer that'll take
a turn at them fires!'
'Here y'are cap'n!' 'I'm thar old hoss I' «That'll
du, you bet!' and half a dozen aspirants crowded down
into the narrow space before the furnaces, passing the
heavy sticks of cordwood from one to the other as
quick as light. The heat soon caused them to strip to
the buff, while the black and rosin got smeared over
them, and the streams of perspiration coursed down
and streaked them like so many painted savages. That
furnace scene might well have suggested a picture for
Dante's Inferno. UP THE COUNTRY.
'Still our opponent crept closer, and our captain's
determination grew stronger.
i'<*Say, Gluson!' addressing the mate, ' whar's all
that bakin and them hams stowed away ? I see a lot
come aboard, the brand was a Diamond 0.'
' What, Opheimer's ?'
\ Yes. 'Guess Jews ain't got no right to hev pork.
Pass it along to the firemen, sharp!'
i All right, cap.'
Several sacks of bacon were thrown into the flames,
making them roar like a strong east wind. Up went
the steam gauge till it showed 160 lbs. to the square
inch, just forty more than was allowed by the Government certificate, framed and glazed in the cabin.
Here the engineer came forward and called the captain's attention to this fact. But our chief seemed
past all reason in his violent state.
c Waal,' he said, ' if the gover'ment 'spector's aboard
and feels skeared, tell him to git as fur away aaft as
he ken, and save his British hide. The old boat's
never bin whipped yet, and ain't goin' to bs till she
By this time the other boat was neck and neck with
us, and every available space on the deck of either
boat was crowded by the passengers and others, bandying chaff with one another and entering into the
general spirit of excitement prevailing.
Fate was not with us, however; for suddenly a fear-
p 66
ful shock and crash were felt and heard, and we stood
stock still, with a snag run through the bottom of our
hull; while the rival boat passed us with jeers, and
without stopping to see whether we were sinking or
Luckily the snag was a sharp-pointed one. Its
point had gone clear through our timbers, and, from
the impetus with which we had run upon it, had penetrated for a length of about ten feet into the freight,
killing an unfortunate horse belonging to our lady
The encumbrances were soon cleared away, and the
snag sawn off. We then backed a yard or two, and
the hole was immediately stuffed with blankets pressed
for the service from the passengers. The water came
in fast notwithstanding, for the shock had been so
great as to start the seams in all the bottom planks.
Our boat was therefore headed for the nearest bank,
and run hard on a shallow. We then removed ourselves and all our traps to the shore, and had to camp
out there (without any covering but the trees) for a
couple of days, when another steamer came up river
and took us off. Our sojourn was not pleasant; for
after a few hours it came on to rain, and continued to
do so, with a pertinacity known only in mountainous
countries, until we were relieved. Our poor mules
didn't get much to eat, nor ourselves either, as we were
only provisioned for the trip. UP THE COUNTRY.
~ The gamblers carried on their avocation even here,
and many a dripping spruce-tree sheltered its conclave
of adorers at the shrine of the monti bank opened
beneath its spreading boughs.
We got on all right on our fresh start, and after
struggling against many bad places in the river, where
all the steam that could be crowded on hardly made us
move, we arrived at Fort Yale, from which point the
rest of our journey (nearly four hundred miles) was to
be on foot. 68
Now came.the commencement of our toils; our previous
travelling had been a mere pleasure voyage, not giving
us much chance to exercise our muscles or try our
The first step to be done was to pack the mules, and
this is a task requiring more skill than would be imagined, if one does not wish to get stuck half-way on
the road through the animals having bad backs. We
had a good opportunity of learning how to accomplish
the packing feat, as Fort Yale was alive with pack-
trains starting with their loads for the mines.
At that time there existed no road, but only a rough
trail wandering up and down the mountains and through
the swamps, until it ended its straggling course at
William's Creek, the centre'of the mining district of
Cariboo, which then held some eight or ten thousand
men; and it may be judged that it took a tolerably
continuous string of pack animals with their loads to
supply the wants of the population.
Yale was a lively little place, and had a far greater
appearance of business than the stump-ridden capital THE ROAD.
we had lately quitted. The bar-rooms, with the never-
absent billiard-tables, were as numerous as ever; and I
noticed that the farther we travelled on so the quality
of the liquor deteriorated, and the capacity of the
people for swallowing it increased. So soon as a
bargain was struck in one of the stores,, its ratification
in alcohol seemed to be necessary; and thus the day
was passed by these happy merchants in making money
and getting rid of it again as soon as possible. Profits
were large though in those days, and doubtless the
merchants made a better thing of it than their
The professional packers are nearly all Mexicans, and
a reckless bandit-looking race they are, working like
slaves for a month to spend their earnings in a night or
two's dissipation, the principal development of which
is gambling at monU.
It was my cue to discover one of these gentlemen
unemployed, and with his native cupidity aroused by
the fact of his pockets being empty. Soon I found a
swaggering specimen of his class, with huge sombrero
hat, poncho, and silver-spangled leggings complete, who
had just lost his last half-dollar at the monU table, and
who condescended with all the airs of a grand seigneur,
reduced by misfortune, to assist us for the first day, on
receiving a trifling payment of five dollars.
• The first thing our new acquisition did on seeing our
pack-saddles was to shrug his shoulders and declare #0
they were no use, we must have proper aparejos, or we
should never reach the mines. He went off, and returned in a short time with some of the saddles of his
choice, huge leather wallet-shaped bags stuffed withi
hay. The additional expense was no trifle, but we had
to grin and bear it.
Our provisions were soon dexterously made up into
well-bound packs of about 150lbs. weight, one for each
side of the mule's back. It was surprising to see the;
ease, occasioned by long practice, with which the
regular packers threw up these weights on the backs of
the animals, as if they were mere toys; while great
strong tyros, who could have almost pocketed one of
the little Mexicans, were struggling severely to accomplish the same feat, the perspiration rolling down their
faces by the time they had succeeded two or three
times; and owing to their inexperience of the habits
of the ' critturs,' getting now and then a sly kick to aid
their discomfiture.
The four mules that carried our cargo were soon
equipped, and we went ahead along the up-country
trail winding through the canons or gorges of this
part of the Fraser, which for about sixty miles above
Yale runs through the midst of the Cascade Mountains.
The Mexican was to accompany us for the first day,'
with a view to showing us how to tighten the Jbads
when they got slack and unpack them at night, and
also to manage our refractory slaves with the least
trouble. THE ROAD.
So we marched along for a dozen miles or so, stopping
now and then to pick out a mule whose girth was
slackening, and to start him on again with a shout after
his fellows. At intervals we passed a roadside hut,
where whisky (warranted to kill at forty paces) was
dealt out to the unsuspecting applicant for refreshment,
and occasional miners returning in ragged attire and
mostly with woe-begone faces from the mines, where
luck had failed them. Of course the stories related by
these poor fellows differed materially from the newspaper accounts and glowing yarns of more successful
individuals, and our exuberance had a good deal of cold
water dashed over it by the time we reached Spuzzum
Ferry, where we crossed the river in one of those ferries,
common in Austria, which are worked by pullies nmning
on a cable suspended across the stream.
I didn't much like the passage, for just below' us
there was a big fall in the river ; and the strength of
the current was such, that the strongly-built ferry-boat
curled and warped like a sheet of paper held before
the fire when we reached the centre.
A little' farther on we met two men, one of whom
was my Irish acquaintance whom I had picked out
of the water. He was bestriding a venerable mule of
malignant aspect, with an ugly habit of lashing out at
anything that came near its hind quarters. I was glad
to meet him, as he was a merry sort of fellow, and
from a specimen I shortly afterwards had of his capacity 72
in the way of bulls, promised to furnish us with some
amusement on the road. He was equally pleased to
fall in with our party, and he and his companion agreed
to travel on in company with us.
Two or three miles past the ferry we looked about
for a favourable spot at which to camp for the night;
and while thus engaged, Pat Keenan and I, with one
of the laden mules, fell behind. Pat was twenty or
thirty yards ahead of me, and I was urging on the
lagging mule with gentle entreaties. Finding these
unavailing I adopted a more violent expedient, and
threw a stone at him. The stone (it was a good-sized
one) missed my mule, but hit Pat in the back.
With many exclamations of rage he descended from
his perch, and proceeded to lick the animal that bore
him most unmercifully. Hardly able to keep from
laughing aloud, I enquired—
' What's the matter, Pat ?'
'Matther enough, bedadl Here's this ould black
divil, not continted wid thrying to opsit me iv'ry
minit, has bin and kick't me square in the middle of
the Bphine!'
I didn't explain the truth of the matter to Pat, but
quieted his wrath by telling him that no doubt the
creature had performed in a circus, and that we would
raise the wind out of him (if any were left by that time)
when we got to Cariboo.
In another mile or two we came upon a place suited THE ROAD.
to our requirements for the night: a green shady nook
in a plateau on the side of the mountain, with a little
stream tumbling off a ledge two hundred feet above
us into a pool that intercepted its rapid flow towards
the river. Wood and water, the two main requisites,
being at hand, we at once proceeded to camp, our
Mexican now leaving us to our own resources.
The loads were taken off the animals and piled in a
row, with the aparejos placed in line in front; and the
mules, their leader carrying a bell, were turned out,
after a feed of barley (as there was not sufficient grass
feed for them in that inhospitable part, of our route),
to pick up what they could get. Each of the party
then found some avocation, one pitched the tent,
another kindled the fire, another cut wood enough to
keep it going for the night; and Pat, who had we
found been a cook amongst other callings, was set to
prepare our modest evening meal of bacon and bread,
and to boil a kettle of beans readv for breakfast.
The gold-miners, and other wandering classes on the
North Pacific coast, have an excellent and speedy method
of baking bread, and the article produced is a long way
ahead of the Australian ' damper,' and of most of our
bakers' bread at home. Yeast powder is mixed in due
proportion with the flour, which is then formed into
dough. This is immediately divided into lumps large
enough to cover the bottom of a frying-pan; the
frying-pan with its contents is then propped up in 74
front of a brisk fire. When one side is browned the
cake is turned over, and the other side baked. Each loaf
takes only about five or ten minutes, to bake, or rather
roast, and thus a sufficient supply for a large party can
be prepared in less than an hour from the time the fire
is lighted.
Exercise and the keen mountain air had given us all
ravenous appetites, and our rough fare was devoured
with more relish, I doubt not, than the most epicurean
alderman has for a Guildhall banquet. The night
closed in, pipes were lit, and a small store of grog
found by somebody, under the soothing and genial
influence of. which the evening was pleasantly passed,
until sleep overtook us, and we retired for the night
into our blankets spread over the yielding and sweetly-
scented branches of young fir-trees.
How true it is that expectation surpasses enjoyment!
Those evenings, when after the fatigues of the day we
rested round the camp fire, engaged in detailing
reminiscences of the past, singing old well-remembered
songs, or building castles in the air for our future
residences; rude health dispelling all ugly phantoms,
and giving zest to our little enjoyments, though
nought but uncertainty was before us; how shall I
always recall them as the happiest hours I have ever
enjoyed! and who amongst us who may have realised
his dream, would exchange the pleasures of his fancy
for those of his fate ? THE ROAD.
With break of day we were up and stirring; Pat
pursuing the task for which he had been selected,
while the rest of us. hunted up the mules, took down
the tent, and got everything ready for a start.
We travelled on comfortably enough, with the usual
drawbacks of mosquitoes and sand-flies, for some miles,
ascending and descending at intervals the sides of the
hills as we followed the river, until it came on to rain
heavily. The rain rendered matters very disagreeable,
the steep paths became sticky and almost dangerous
in many places, and there was nothing to do save to
plod on till we reached our stopping-place. Down it
came, heavily and more heavily, till we were soaked
through. The sky looked as if the rain never would
cease; and Pat, as a man who had travelled that
country before, was appealed to as to the chances of an
improvement in the elements.
' Be jabers thin,' said he, ' I belave the great uni-
varsal Deluge arose in these parts, it rains that hard
here when it manes it! It's m'ist skins we'll be likely
to have for a few days.'
' But do you mean to say it can go on like this for
long ?'
' Well, sure I've seen it rain abote here fur a week,
in dhrops as big as a shillin'—yis, an' from that to
eight&npince I'
After a time we found ourselves at the summit of an
enormous bluff, called the ' Nicaragua Slide,' which we. 76
had to descend until we reached the river bank about
a thousand feet beneath.
The face of this hill was almost perpendicular, and
appeared at first sight impossible for even a chamois to
climb; but on a closer inspection we saw a narrow
trail cut in a zig-zag of many turns till it reached the
bottom, and turned off sharply out of sight round the
base of the mountain. The height was so giddy that
one hardly cared about looking beneath, but we had to
go on, so the hill mule (which was unhappily mine)
was started, and the rest of the train with ourselves
in the rear followed.
About halfway down I heard the tinkling of another
bell, and the shouts of men ascending with a returning
pack train. At each torn of the zigzag a little space
had been quarried into the hill side, to allow anything
passing room to turn round before commencing a fresh
descent. In one of these ' turn-tables' we drew up all
the animals, except the beU-mule, who was too far
ahead, to wait until the party had passed; the bell-
mule, an experienced animal, we expected would take
care of himself at the next turn-table.
Unhappily, our confidence was ill founded; the
unlucky creature pursued his way downwards until he
met the leading animal of the ascending train, who,
with a sagacity much to be commended, stuck closely
to the wall, leaving my wretched beast to go outside
him.    It was impossible, from the width of their packs, THE ROAD.
for the two mules to pass each other at this point; but
mine, unable to stop himself from the steepness of the
path he was descending, and the impetus given him by
his load, endeavoured to pass on the outside : the two
;packs caught, poor mulo lost his footing, and with a
scream fell over the precipice, and after a bound or
two plunged a shapeless mass into the foaming torrent
The loss was a serious one, but luckily the first
bound had lightened the poor creature of part of his
cargo, which we picked up lower down with some difficulty and risk, and divided amongst the other mules.
This mishap represented the loss of nearly half my
capital: so at an early stage I got my first little lesson
in practising the fortitude necessary to an adventurer.
We kept on our way up the course of the Fraser
River, skirting the sides of the mountains that shut it
in as closely for a distance of some sixty miles above
Yale as if they had been reft abruptly in twain, only
to leave passage for the mighty rushing stream at their
The scenery, of course, was of the grandest; many
of the mountains rising to a height of from eight
to ten thousand feet, and most of them being of a
rugged and inaccessible type, with perpetual snows on
their summits ; but we missed the signs of life requisite to complete the picture by relieving it of monotony.
No habitations greeted the eye, save, at intervals of 78
five or ten miles along the trail, the log-hut of some
patient individual, who tried to eke out a subsistence
by selling liquid poison to the unhappy wayfarer, or
injuring the digestion of the latter by a ' square meal'
of ill-cooked food of the roughest kind at an extravagant price. Even these scattered emblems of human
existence were not to be seen till we came close upon
them, from their being so surrounded by the perpetual
pine forest; and, from a bird's-eye point of view, the
whole scene appeared as though never hitherto trodden
by the foot of man.
One pleasant feature of journeying through the
mountains is the never-failing supply of cool, delicious
water, which comes tumbling down every here and
there in a series of little rills, now and then varied by
a magnificent waterfall, as some stream of greater pretensions leaves its bed of snow to swell the torrent far
beneath; and thus the extra toil of the mountaineer is
recompensed with the invigorating draught too often
refused to the traverser of the plains.
Occasionally we met a procession of Indians, neglecting their wonted occupations to gain the dollars of
the white man, by making themselves beasts of burden.
In the ordinary fashion of savages, the wretched squaws
had all the worst of it, each one usually carrying on
her back a load of two sacks of flour—sometimes even
three—weighing fifty pounds per sack, with often a
baby perched on the top of the load; while her lord THE ROAD.
and master walked calmly in front of her with a single
sack upon his lazy shoulders.
I forgot to include John Chinaman amongst the
inhabitants of this region; but the Chinamen form
the largest section of the dwellers here. This much-
enduring and industrious race are generally to be found
in little clusters, at work upon the diggings deserted by
the whites; and sometimes one meets a string of them
migrating in search of a fresh field of enterprise, with all
their worldly belongings in a pair of baskets suspended
from either end of a pole carried across their shoulders.
This mode of carrying is peculiar to the Chinaman,
and he is so strongly conservative that he never adopts
any other method. I once remember seeing one of
these worthy people packing a quarter of beef; as he
could not split this in two, so as to balance it on his
pole, he adopted the following ingenious expedient.
He cut a much longer pdle (about twelve feet long)
from a young fir-tree, tied the beef to one end of it,
and a stone of about thirty pounds weight at the other;
the end with the beef attached to it he kept near his
shoulder, while the other end with the stone on it projected far in front of him, and thus balanced the heavier
load next him; but John's ingenuity seemed rather
• heavily handicapped with a thirty pound penalty.
The patient industry of the race cannot, however, be
too highly commended; they will work diggings that
a white man will not look at — thus preventing a 80
vast amount of waste—and will, doubtless, at the end
of the year, by means of their frugality, save more than
their white brother is likely to, in spite of his higher
When they have accumulated a little money, their
ambition is usually to set up a laundry business (for
they almost entirely usurp that useful trade in California and the other gold countries in the North Pacific)
or a store; and there are some Chinese firms in San
Francisco whose trade far exceeds that of any American
or European houses, and whose names are indeed more
widely known and more highly respected. Owing to
the scarcity of females, too, a great many Chinese find
employment in the towns as domestic servants.
It is the fashion on the Pacific Coast to abuse and
ill-treat the Chinaman in every possible way; and I
really must tell my friends the Americans that in this
respect they show an illiberal spirit utterly unworthy
of them. The Chinese are really, as citizens, most
desirable members of a community; they are hardworking, sober, and law-abiding—three scarce qualities
among people in their station. Prior to the abolition
of slavery, the colour of his skin was the avowed objection against the Celestial, and special ordinances were
even passed to render his evidence unavailing against a
white in a criminal court. Since the conclusion of the
War of Secession, this objection to colour has been
recognised as illogical, and therefore other outcries THE ROAD.
have arisen—he works too cheaply, so the great Irish
element is in arms against the competitor who threatens
to disturb its vested right of one day's work and two
days' drunk for one day's pay. Which system of labour
benefits society most all open-minded persons may
Poor John! he is treated like a dog, bullied, scoffed
at, kicked, and cuffed about on all occasions, his very
name made a slang term of reproach; and yet, withal,
he betrays no sign of meditated revenge, but pursues
bis labours calmly, and is civil and polite to all. He
is close-fisted in his dealings with the whites, as he
well may be, considering his treatment, and I really
think the balance of honesty is in his favour. Even in
the matter of religion, a score on which Americans
claim to have particularly tolerant views, he is insulted
to a pitch that would not be endured by a person of
any other nationality.
A friend once told me that while in San Francisco
he walked through the Chinese quarter with an acquaintance, who knew one or two of their merchants.
Perambulating these curious and unsavoury streets,
they came upon an edifice which they were informed
was the ' Josh House,' the place of worship pertaining
to the Celestials.
On entering the building they saw some few devo-
tionalists, and a good many others whose occupation
was not strictly devotional from a stranger's point of 82
view, for they were gambling. (I confess I don't think
John's religious ideas are very deep, but perhaps gambling is part of bis religion; if so, it is no wonder he
tries to get rich, for all well-to-do Chinamen are terrible gamblers.) A good many hideous idols were
perched round, and the visitors asked their guide who
was the divinity represented by the most repulsive of
these emblems.
' Josh,' he replied.
'Oh, Josh, of course! but then they're all Josh.
Now, what particular Josh is this ? Is he a Henry
Josh, or a William Josh, or a Hiram Ebenezer Josh ?
Ain't he got no other name ?'
John paused awhile; then a dim light broke over
bis swarthv countenance as a sudden thought seemed
to strike him.
'Amelikan man call him "Sonny-pitch." Call all
China man " sonny-pitch I"'
The visitors left abashed.
To resume our progress. In a couple more days,
without any incident to mark them, we reached the
Thompson River, up which our course lay for some
distance. At the confluence of the two streams, and at
the head of the canons, is another little town called
Lytton, with the usual up-country population of storekeepers and Indians. Here we found snugger quarters
than usual for the night; and at this point, with the
reader's permission, I propose to make a little digression on the subject of Indians in general. 83
There is probably no race in the world whose antecedents have created so much speculation as the
aborigines of North America; and though many ingenious theories have been mooted, yet it has always
been a puzzle to the professors of ethnology to fathom
their history, and it is little to be wondered at that
science is at fault in the case. Of records there are
none, and even the traditions of the various tribes seem
to extend no farther back than the last war with their
But there are many distinctive features connected
with the different races, which would seem to me, in
the light of a mere practical looker-on, to show at
least two entirely distinct origins from which this
people, generally supposed to be of a common stock,
might have sprung.
The Indians on the^ coast of Russian America, or
Alaska now-a-days, and thence southward to the north
coast of Vancouver's Island, are generally a fine race,
the men being stout-set fellows, admirably developed in
the bodies and arms, but somewhat poor in the lower
G 2 84
extremities. Their life is mostly spent in canoes, and
salmon forms their principal food. Their complexions
are hardly darker than those of the inhabitants of
Southern Europe, while, amongst the females, I have
seen as pure pink and white complexions as any'English
brunette might boast. The features are of a decidedly
Mongolian type, and the peculiar oblique set of the eyes
belonging to the Chinese and Japanese is frequently
met with in the squaws.
These Indians, arid particularly a tribe called the
Hydahs, are wonderfully clever at carving in wood or
stone, if any model be given them to imitate, and they
can work soft metals with singular skill considering
the rude tools they are forced to employ. I have seen
many a beautifully-engraved bracelet or ring turned
out of a twenty or ten-dollar piece by them. The
language of the Hydahs, in its general sound and
intonation, a good deal resembles Chinese, but is more
From the north of Vancouver's Island, still keeping
the coast-line till California is reached, the Flathead
Indians are the resident aborigines. These are of
similar characteristics, in most respects, to their northern neighbours, save that their stature is less and
their mental capacity proportionably diminished. The
latter fact may doubtless be attributed to the absurd
custom from which their name of 'Flatheads' is derived.    Soon after an infant is born its head is tightly THE NOBLE SAVAGE.
bandaged between two flat pieces of wood, one placed
on the forehead and the other at the back of the head,
and this bandage is kept on night and day until the
child is about two years old, by which time the head
has acquired the shape which it afterwards retains.
But when one strikes inland to any distance, one
encounters a race which seems to be utterly different
in all respects to the natives already spoken of.
I was agreeably surprised, on reaching the Thompson
Biver, to find an immense improvement in the physique
of the Indians. They were tall, straight, slim fellows,
with the orthodox copper-coloured complexion of the
Bed Indian, and with high features, often finely cut—
in fact, one might properly call them Caucasian
features—no more resembling the Flatheads, whose
country I had just left, than an Englishman does a
Negro. Their pursuits are as widely removed from
those of the coast natives as their appearance is at
variance with theirs; for these are hunters, and the
horse and the bow and arrow take the place of the
canoe and the fish-spear. The imitative faculty is
entirely lost here, and the tongue which is spoken has
a soft and liquid sound instead of being replete with the
ear-piercing gutturals common along the coast. This
type of men extends, with but little variation, across
the Bocky Mountains to the Atlantic.
From these crude premises it might perhaps be not
rashly argued, that the race "of Indians first described 86
are of Mongolian origin ; and the proximity to Northern
Asia of the country inhabited by the tribes (as the
Hydahs) whose peculiar traits, physical and otherwise, most closely approach the Chinese model, and
who, from the fact of their not having wandered
so far as the rest of their brethren, may perhaps be
considered more likely to preserve those traits intact,
would appear to strengthen this conclusion; while the
inhabitants of the interior, and thence eastwards to
the Atlantic, having nothing whatever in common
with the others (except the all-pervading characteristic
of filth, of course), might be pretty safely set down as
having a derivation perfectly distinct.
There is, of course, against this the common argument of different climates, pursuits, and food; but in
opposition to this argument may be set the fact, that
the Indians on the Atlantic coast (New Brunswick and
Nova Scotia, for instance) closely resemble those two
thousand miles in the interior; while the Hydahs are
utterly dissimilar to the Thompson River Indians a
couple of hundred miles inland from them; and this
line of demarcation extends as far south as Lower
California, where the distinction is lost, and another
race, to be hereafter spoken of, appears to take the
place of both.
My own idea then is, that the natives from the
Atlantic to this line of demarcation were originally
European, and that the two separate peoples have overrun North America from different directions. THE NOBLE  SAVAGE.
I said there were no traditions amongst the tribes,
but there is, or was, an exception to this rule. Some
fifty years ago there lived near the banks of the
Mississippi a tribe called the Mandans, who appeared
to be of superior intelligence to their surrounding
neighbours, who built their lodges differently, and
possessed habits and customs of a nature far more
civilised than the others. They composed altogether
but a small tribe, and seldom married out of its pale.
This little nation, it is asserted, had a tradition of its
founders having crossed a big salt-water lake, and
having travelled on until they took possession of the
tract of land they then claimed as their hunting-ground.
It is also asserted that the language they spoke was
very like Welsh.
There is certainly a story current in North Wales of
one of its princes having sailed with a few of his
followers for Iceland, and of his sailing off again westward from thence. Of course, the connection between
the two traditions is vague in the extreme, but it
is within the bare bounds of possibility that the
Mandans were descendants of this Welsh prince and
his people.
With the encroaching flow of civilisation, this tribe,
like its fellows, was driven farther westward; and at
this time only a few scattered members remain, some
in Arozina, and others, I believe, in Colorado. Hardly
any traces of their superior civilisation now exist, the 88
hardships they have had to encounter in their forced
pilgrimage having doubtless effaced these.
I met once in San Francisco one of the United States'
soldiers, a man of Welsh parentage, who, whilst narrating some fights his detachment had recently had
with the Apaches, told me that on his last expedition
he had come across a small encampment of Indians
belonging to a tribe he was unacquainted with, and
inclined to be friendly. This man averred that the
language spoken by these natives was so bike Welsh
that he could understand many words of it. He found
amongst them a half-breed, who told him that the
people were one of the few remaining portions of a tribe
who had come, during the remembrance of the old men,
from the neighbourhood of the Mississippi, and that
they were called Mandans.
This story called to my recollection many things I
had heard and read concerning this people, and confirmed my own impressions on the subject so strongly
that I enquired of my informant whether he had ever
heard anything concerning the history of the tribe ;
but he stated that he had not.
Assuming, for purposes of argument, the fact that
this particular tribe is of European origin, a similar
derivation is easily assigned to the whole of their
brethren east of the line of demarcation I have
already noticed; for there are no strong points of difference between them, and those that there are mav be THE NOBLE SAVAGE.
reconciled by the hypothesis of the Mandans having.
emigrated later, or having, by reason of their exclnsive-
riess, retained many features of a former mode of life,
which the others have lost.
I said that on reaching Lower California the members
of what might well be another entire race appeared.
These are the descendants of the Aztecs of Mexico, now
unhappily mixed up with Spaniards and negroes into
a wretched set of mongrels. But it is of the Aztecs
themselves, and of their cousins the Incas of Peru,
whose languages were alike, and who traded and associated with each other, that I would now speak. Who
could these people, with the high civilisation they
possessed at the time of Pizarro and Cortes,have been?
Clearly there could have been no connection between
them and the wretched savages who lived to the north-
wards of them. Who and what were the people who
worshipped the sun, and built those grand cities and
noble temples, the ruins of which meet the eye in
various parts of Mexico and Central America ? There
is only one tribe of aborigines now extant in America
who at all resemble physically the description handed
down to us of the Aztecs; this tribe is the Cherokees,
who are now nearly all within the pale of civilisation,
and many of whom, in Texas and other places in the
Southern States, are members of professions, and are
otherwise identified with the ordinary community.
The Cherokees are a fine, handsome race, of a con- 90
siderably different type from the Northern Indians,
with more roundness of form and softness of feature,
and certainly with much more advanced traits of mind.
It is said (with what amount of truth I cannot tell)
that freemasonry was in vogue amongst them when
they were first encountered by the settlers. On the
whole it is not unlikely that they are the only direct
descendants of the former inhabitants of Mexico. I
have not heard whether they had any particular form
of religion; at the present time they are all, I believe,
proselytes of Christianity.
So far as derivation is concerned, India would
appear to contain the only people at all resembling the
Aztecs and Incas in physical appearance, form of religion, mode of architecture, and proficiency in other
arts ; and the broad Pacific, with its resting-places in
the shape of islands, was doubtless the highway that
bore this noble race, of whom no one can read without
feeling a deep and regretting interest from the rising
to the setting sun.
There have been found on the banks of Lake
Superior, near the mines of native copper which exist
there, several tumuli, containing relics of some race
of much more advanced knowledge and civilisation
than the nomadic tribes who overrun that part of
America; and a Hue of these tumuli, extending to
Mexico and Central America, and containing exactly
similar relics, has, I understand, been traced. THE NOBLE SAVAGE.
These mines, on Lake Superior, are the only place
at present known where native copper is obtainable;
and most likely the Aztecs, or some earlier race than
they, not acquainted with any method of releasing
copper by smelting from its ordinary chemical combinations, set a priceless value on this depot of pure
copper, and formed a line of forts to it from their own
country. Each of these tumuli, it is not unlikely,
marks the site of a fort.
The relics found are evidently of very great age, and
tli ere are many circumstances which tend to prove
that the Western hemisphere has been inhabited for
a much longer period than is generally credited.
Since I first wrote this book, I have by an accident
come across an extract from a work by Mr. Cronise
on' The Resources of California,' in a San Francisco
paper. That gentleman follows the notion that the
Tartars, whose dynasty now rules China, discovered
America by the errantry of a part of the fleet of Kublai
Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, when Kublai attempted the conquest of Japan. ' A great storm drove
many sail off to the coast of Alaska, to Peru, and to
Mexico,' he says—rather diverse directions these,
unless the storm was a whirlwind—' and among the
badges of the Incas, and in the languages of Peruvians
and Mexicans indifferently, are many things identical
with the Chinese. A full suit of Tartar armour of the
thirteenth century is said to have been among the spoil
of Cortes in Mexico.' 92
But such a derivation as this is clearly too recent a
one to be assigned to the inhabitants of Mexico and
Peru. It was no colony of less than three hundred
years old that Cortes found on his landing, but an old
established kingdom, every feature of which pointed to
its age. The scattered ruins now to be seen have at
least as ancient an appearance as those of Borne ; while
I have never heard of any similarity to Chinese architecture about them. Asiatic in character they doubtless
are; as are the shields and arms, and various other
remains of workmanship in metal. One would think
it doubtful whether there are any means of fixing dates
to Tartar armour of anything like early times, even if
the story of the finding be acceptable. It is quite
likely that the armour worn in the thirteenth century
by that unprogressive Mongol race was also worn by it
for a thousand years or two previous to the epoch in
question; and that very suit might have been a trophy
earned by some warrior of Hindostan in fight against
the Tartars, with whom the inhabitants of Northern
India have waged almost eternal warfare.
Still it is just as possible that some of Kublai Khan's
followers did get thrown on the coast of Mexico, and
that a suit of armour belonging to one of them was
found by Cortes. The only improbability seems to be
that they should have been the ancestors of the North
Pacific aborigines. There is no reason why they should
not have found the country inhabited  when   they THE NOBLE SAVAGE.
reached it. There is not, indeed, I believe, any known
reason to set against the idea that the Chinese may
have been in regular communication with Mexico a
few centuries since. Chinese literature and traditions
are to us an unexplored maze, and it would be interesting to know if there are any. traces in them of a
knowledge of that great western land, not so very far
removed from the northern parts of their own country.
This chapter I feel sure requires many apologies,
and with such I hasten to close it. If I have trotted
out what is certainly a hobby with me to the extent of
wearying my readers, I beg their forgiveness; and can
only' solace myself with the hope that some mind
better directed than my own may find a hint or suggestion that may help, if never so slightly, to open a
train of enquiry into a subject of great and romantic
interest to myself and many others. 94
Of all the dismal and dreary-looking places in the
world, the valley of the Thompson River, for some
fifteen or twenty miles from its mouth, would easily
take the palm. We had thought the canons of the
Fraser rugged enough ; but here was nought but rocks,
whereon even the hardy fir refused to vegetate. Our
* bogey' friend, Gustave Dore, might have found here
an opening for fresh fancies; and I often thought,
while passing through it, of the Valley of the Shadow
of Death in ' Pilgrim's Progress.'
We gladly pushed on through this wilderness to
Cook's Ferry; where we crossed the river, and ascended
its northern bank through a more open country, with
plenty of grass at intervals, till we reached a little
stream called the Buonaparte River.
The banks of this river are low and swampy; and
the mosquitoes, from whose torments we had been
partially relieved in the mountains, abounded to an
unpleasant extent; and we poor green youths, from
knowing no better, soon scratched and tore ourselves
into a perfect frenzy.   Most of our fists soon resembled THE ROAD AGAIN.
boxing-gloves in shape (I was going to say in size too,
but that might be a little extravagant), and our faces
took the appearance of well-boiled oranges smeared
over with beet-root.
We stopped, on our third night from Lytton, at the
wayside house of an old Scotchman, who had served the
Hudson's Bay Company, and whose strapping half-
breed sons came forth from the paternal roof-tree to
welcome us to its shelter. We passed a merry evening
with the old man, who told us many stirring stories of
his former wild life; and as the aperture that served
for a window was covered by a mosquito-bar, we lay
down in our blankets on the earthen floor in the hope
of a comfortable sleep.
In this, however, we were disappointed sadly; for
our Hibernian, who had, alas ! forgotten his vows, paid
so much attention to our host's whiskey (strictly of the
high-pressure stamp), that he must needs taste the
sweetness of the midnight air, and lave his heated
brows in the stream close by. The wretch on his exit
left the door open upon "his sleeping comrades, and in
trooped the mosquitoes, in such numbers as only a man
who has visited that part of the world will believe.
Of course there was little sleep after this, and we got
up in the morning unrefreshed, with a long day's
tramp before us. We got even on Pat by taking an
early start, and leaving him a twenty-mile march in the
heat of the sun to catch us up. 96
Two or three days after this we reached a table-land,
some four thousand feet high, where all the water was
strongly impregnated with alkali ; and here we had the
greatest trouble with our animals, who often strayed
six or seven miles awav at night in search of sweet water.
•J O
This was good training for us from the hunter's point
of view, and we soon became almost as 'cute as Indians
in tracking the paths of our wandering quadrupeds.
We were joined one night by a drover bringing in
some five hundred head of cattle and some sheep from
Oregon; and our ordinary fare of rusty bacon was
exchanged for a dainty' feed of fresh beef-steaks.
The drover was a particularly entertaining acquaintance, and turned out to be a member of the Oregon
Legislature. I believe he might, with much labour,
have been able to write his name; but in these new
places, the strong arm often goes farther than the long
head; and, as he certainly possessed the former, it is
presumable that his constituents were better able to
appreciate that quality than the latter one.
The man was a magnificent physical specimen of the
Western settler. He stood some six feet four in his
stockings, with a back and shoulders like a wall;
straight as an Indian, with an open, fearless countenance, tanned by cocstant exposure to a deep brown
tint; and with a resolute eye, before which, no doubt,
many a horse-thief and marauder had quailed. As an
instance of his strength, I well remember seeing him THE ROAD AGAIN.
once, while going at full gallop, stretch down from the
saddle, and lift with one arm, from the ground on to
the horse's shoulders, a large heavy sheep, of about
the size of one of our Leicesters. Withal he was a
merry, good-tempered fellow, without the least tendency to exert his enormous power for any but a worthy
The morning after our meeting I went out at sunrise to get our mules together, and found them, with
the exception of two, at the place I expected. While
looking about for traces of the missing two, I met with
one of the hands in the drover's train. He appeared
rather dismayed, and when I asked him the reason,
said that forty head of their cattle were missing, and
that he feared there were thieves about. We looked
all round for a short time longer without finding any
clue, and then returned as hard as we could to the camp.
When arrived, we found Pete, the drover, with one
of his Mexicans, scouring the neighbourhood with
anxious glances, apparently in search of tracks of some
kind; while the herd of cattle rushed about, bellowing
and snorting, and with difficulty kept within bounds by
the remainder of the party. On Pete seeing his man
return without the lost portion of the herd, and
hearing that two of our mules were also gone, his
.suspicion was at once turned into conviction; and he exclaimed, ' Now then, boys, guess we'll hev to hunt down
them 'tarnal skunks right away ; who'll come along ? '
H 98
We all offered to go at once, but as there were not
horses enough, and we were bound to leave some people
behind to look after what had not been stolen, Pete,
Pat Keenan, a Mexican, and myself, formed the expedition. Pete had his long heavy rifle, carried across
his saddle-bows, while the rest of us carried six-
shooters ; and we were all well mounted, for Pete had
some first-rate horses.
The difficulty now was to find out which way the
thieves had driven off our cattle, and a little council
of war was held before starting. In the first place, of
course they would never take the trail, but would seek
some mode of getting across the range of mountains
between us and the Thompson River; and, by swimming the river, reach the open country lying beyond it
and towards the Columbia for about three hundred
"miles. If the river were crossed it would be but lost
time to pursue them farther, as there were a dozen
routes they might take over the plains. Expedition
was therefore the first object, and yet it would never
do to risk all by rushing to a hasty conclusion.
At this juncture the Mexican (whose previous history
we were unacquainted with, and who very likely had
"given up the charms of a predatory life for an honest
existence) turned up a trump.
Leading us to a little hill about a mile away, which
seemed to have been placed by some freak of nature in
the position it occupied, as it formed a singular break THE ROAD AGAIN.
ill the otherwise even surface of the plateau, our
guide, who was called Juan, asked us to ascend it.
This we did on foot with a good deal of difficulty, for
the hill was very steep, and composed of a curious
kind of greasy decomposed trap-rock.
On reaching the summit I could not help exclaiming
with admiration on the magnificence of the picture
spread beneath and around. To the eastwards wound
a long and wide valley, on the other side of which
were the mountains which hid the North Fork of the
Thompson River from us; and between them and us,
in some part of the valley, we knew that our enemies
were pursuing their way towards one of the openings
in the range. Of these there appeared to be three,
one of considerable magnitude some distance to the
north of us; the other two were almost directly opposite and close together, but of smaller dimensions, and
apparently more impracticable than the first one. In
the far distance through these openings could be seen
the snowy craggy summits of the Rocky Mountains.
They could not have been less than from two to three
hundred miles away; but in the marvellously clear
atmosphere that exists in that part of America the
distance did not look more than a quarter of what it
really was.
Behind us was a perfect chaos of mountain peaks
trending away in all shapes and sizes to the verge of
the horizon, where they gradually became indistin-
E 2 100
guishable from the light floating clouds that hovered
about them.
I was soon made aware that it was no time for sentiment ; for Pete grabbed my arm, with a clutch like a
vice, and remarked, ' Naow then, younker, quit star-
gazin', and 'tend to bisness; le'ss see what this yer
greaser (the euphonious slang for Mexican) has got to
Juan looked up and down the valley beneath, and
appeared to be taking general stock of the country.
In a short time he seemed to make up his mind, and
approached Pete, pointing with his finger to the two
breaks in the chain opposite us.
' Horse-tief go dere, Pedro.'
' Waal now, I calc'lated they was gone up the valley
and through that pass,' alluding to the widest gorge
to the northwards, ' whar they'd find easy travellin' all
the way.'
' Horse-tief don't want easy travel, want get away
quick.    Tink I find 'em pretty soon.'
A means of reaching the foot of the two passes had
then to be found, and in this our elevated position
assisted us. Not far away we saw a little lake, now
nearly dry, with its white banks, covered with alkali,
glistening in the sun. From this, when the snows
melted in the spring, causing it to overflow, a stream
took its course, after many windings through a thick
forest of stunted firs, towards the valley. THE ROAD AGAIN.
1 We descended from our point of observation, remounted our horses, and headed for this watercourse
at once; and after struggling-over fallen timber for
two or three miles, we reached it and found it quite
dry, with its bed covered with large rocks and boulders.
Through these we had to pick our way with caution,
and yet to make as much speed as possible; nothing but
our Mexican saddles saving us from many a spill, as the
horses stumbled and bounded over the uneven ground.
Little was said on the way; we all felt too much
rage in our hearts, for in the Far West next to a murderer a cattle-stealer is regarded as the worst of his
species—the two professions being, moreover, generally
pretty closely associated.
Only Pat now and then broke the silence with a
curse, as some fresh obstacle impeded his progress
towards the objects of our search.
We had found it impossible to track the fugitive
party, by the usual signs, from anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the camp, as the whole band of
cattle had wandered about greatly in the night in
search of water, and the confusion of hoof-marks was
such as to. render a search in that manner fruitless.
We could only hope to coirie across any reliable traces
when we reached the limit of the animals' wanderings
over night.
After continuing for about three or four miles-down
the watercourse it became evident that the thieves had
I 102
not travelled over our path; for though we had met
with occasional traces of cattle they were only at
scattered intervals, and had no continuous appearance.
We began to think Juan had misled us, and Pete
had just hinted to me that he thought it likely that
Juan was ' in with them tarnation scoundrels,' when
we arrived at a little stream which emptied itself into
the bed of the dried-up river we had been following,
filling it to the depth of a foot or two; a little farther
on the stream forked, and we chose the broader and
more open branch.
Juan declared his intention of following the other
fork for a short distance and then rejoining the party.
I went with him.
We splashed on through the water for a few minutes;
the bottom was very soft and sandy, and I was surprised
to find that the  body of water gradually decreased
instead of becoming larj
-er, i
mtil finallv the bed again
became quite dry. It was plain that this part of the
stream was at this season absorbed by the light nature
of the soil.
I was now placing little faith in our hopes of
catching the marauding party, and was looking straight
ahead of me with the thought of striking off soon to
catch up Pete and my Irishman; but I had observed
Juan looking out very carefully still, and just as the
hitherto flowing stream became changed into terra
firma, he broke the silence with a sudden exclamation. THE ROAD AGAIN,
' Ah! dam artful rascal; I catch him now; 'E tink
we go oder way, and come trou' de agua to cache* 'im
We scampered across the intervening ground and
soon* came upon our leader and Pat, both looking very
disconsolate at finding no signs as they went on.
Pete was electrified by the intelligence we brought,
and dashed on at a rate hard to keep up with; we felt
secure of our prize, once on the right track, as it was
impossible the cattle could be driven as fast as we
pursued them. Pete asked Juan if he had any suspicion of who was the head of the thieving expedition.
Juan replied that he thought it was ' Slippery Jack,'
the most renowned member of the fraternity, and also
one of the most desperate villains in all Oregon.
Juan had seen him lurking about the Dalles, through
which place Pete's band had passed, and ' Slippery
Jack' had no doubt collected some of his acquaintances
of similar proclivities, and followed the party at a convenient distance on the look out for a chance. ' Jist
to think,' said Pete, with an air of deep chagrin, ' that
I had a rope hitched round that coon's neck six
months ago, and didn't hist him 'cos I wanted votes
for my eleckshin to the legislatur' ■— the ungrateful
* Hide ' Cache' is a term applied to an Indian hiding-place, where
they 'bury their belongings when they start off on the war-path, or on
hunting expeditions. 104
' Why that doesn't reflect much credit on the institutions of your State, Pete. Is it the custom to canvass
the collected scoundrelism of the country at election
times ?'
'Waal, yer see, if one don't another will; they're
all at liberty to vote, good or bad; and as there's more
bad than good, for sartin the bad 'uns'll hev it all thar
way. Now them horse-thieves are right smart at votin',
I tell yu ! I've known one of 'em ride a hundred and
more miles in a day and vote the same ticket at six
places, from ten to seventy miles apart.'
'So you refrained from lynching this wretch, who,
according to all accounts has murdered half-a-dozen
men or so in his time, to make use of him and his
friends ? I really shouldn't have thought you'd have
done such a thing as that, Pete.'
' Now you musn't be hard on me, young Johnny Bull.
Thar was a fust-rate contract job goin' fur meat and
stores fur the sojers, and the prison and the hospital;
and I guess I made some few thousand dollars by
turnin' politishin. I voted for my own tender (put in
another man's name of course) and paid a purty han-
some share to a few more what helped me to get it. I
sot up a raanch,* and sent over to Pike County,
Missouri, for my Sally, right away; and Lor' bless her
purty face—I'll bet she's a inakin' butter an' a thinking
of me at this moment! But I've got thru my perli-
tical bisness all right naow, and mebbe on this occashm
I'll decrease the number of my constitooents by one.'
Pete here stroked the long barrel of his rifle in a
caressing manner, and our little discussion dropped.
We had travelled on at a good pace for some time,
and now approached the side of the table-land, descending into the valley. The tracks of the party we
were pursuing became fresher and fresher, evidencing
the fact that we were gaining upon them, when Juan
rode back from the front and told us to follow quickly,
for he fancied he heard the bellow of a bull a long
way off.
In another half-hour the stream we had been following turned off abruptly to the right. Seeing on the
left an open piece of grass land, from which I thought
a view might perhaps be gained of the valley, I rode
across it for a little way, and was suddenly pulled up
by seeing before me an immense chasm, from one to
two hundred yards wide where I stood, and at least a
thousand feet deep. Its sides were perfectly perpendicular, and nothing grew upon them, so that one
could see the different strata all the way to the bottom.
This singular rent continued, deepening and widening as it went, till it reached the foot of the valley.
Near its mouth, about two miles away, I detected a
tiny wreath of blue smoke; but so thin and vapoury
was it, that I was quite uncertain whether it was smoke Lawn
or not for some time. I imagined at first it most
be an Indian camp, for white men generally build a
larger fire, and are not particular whether the wood is
green or not. I went cautiously along, skirting the
side of the precipice, until I got within half a mile of
the smoke; then dismounting and keeping behind a
large tree, I peeped down again into the depths beneath. Oh, happy spectacle! with what joy I hailed
that sight! There were the lost cattle and our two
mules, which had been driven as far as they could go
that day, and three atrocious-looking ruffians busy
cooking their afternoon repast.
I got back to my horse, and rode as hard as I could"
across the ground between me and the stream, where I
soon caught up my party, and told them they were going
off the track. This did not prove to be the case though,
for the tracks we had followed continued fresher than
ever, and the water-course soon took another turn,
bringing us by a very steep descent into the valley,
where it joined another stream.
The thieves, we had no doubt, had gone up this, in
the water again, so as to hide their track, to the mouth
of the chasm, which they had ascended, thinking them*,
selves safe from pursuit, to refresh the cattle for another start. Had it not been for my opportune little
diversion they would probably have escaped, as we
might have searched for them in vain till night
stopped us. THE ROAD AGAIN.
We now tied up our horses and proceeded on foot
for greater caution, keeping along the side of the hill
to avoid any spy who might be posted on the look-out
by the banks of the little river, and who might have
' potted' one of us from an ambuscade.
This caution was well founded, for as we neared the
mo.uth of the place where our adversaries were hidden,
Pete called my attention to the figure of a man moving
stealthily about a little clump of trees. Telling me to
remain where I was, and to stop the rest who were following, Pete commenced a series of backwood tactics.
Crawling along the ground, dragging his rifle after
him, then dodging from one tree or bush to another,
Pete approached within easy range of the stranger;
when recognising him at once as the veritable ' Slippery
Jack' himself, he levelled his weapon and fired. The
man leapt into the air and fell stone dead.
Knowing that the sound of the shot would arouse his
companions we hastened on, and came upon the three
men I had seen round the fire, who were just rushing
out to see what was the matter.
Covering them with our revolvers* we bade them
surrender at once, and told them that as their leader
was dead we would spare them for the law to deal
with. They did'nt show fight after this, and we bound
their wrists firmly with some withes from the banks of
the stream.
Collecting our animals together, and seating the 108
three men on their own horses, we drove them on be-'
fore us until we found a camping-place for the night?
when two of us returned to bury the body of the
wretched ' Slippery Jack,' the other two keeping watch
over our prisoners. We found upon the body a gold
watch, with the name engraved on it of a well-known
miner (a former friend of Pete's), who had been unao
countably missing during the preceding winter, and
was doubtless one of Jack's victims.
During the night we took it in turns to watch the
three men, and in the morning we returned by the way
we had come to our companions, who greeted us with
a warmth all the greater when they saw our prizes and
heard our story.
The whole party after this continued their onward
course, with the prisoners, over the remainder of the
table land, and through a more pleasant country,
past Lake la Hache on to William's Lake, where
we delivered over the three captives to the tender
mercies of the law, in the shape of a judge promoted
by the Colonial Government to that desirable position
from the less remunerative one of a policeman. This
functionary took our evidence, and sent the ruffians
down to New "Westminster for trial during the ensuing
winter, binding us over to attend there.
I may mention here that the result of that trial was
a sentence of fourteen years in the chain-gang, and I
often had the pleasure of seeing the desperadoes at THE ROAD AGAIN.
work upon the roads round the colonial metropolis, or
grubbing out its eternal stumps, with balls and chains
attached to their legs, under the close surveillance of a
well-armed defender of the peace.
From William's Lake we continued to a place called
The Forks of Quesnelle, across which river lay the
Cariboo country, the El Dorado we had toiled to reach.
We had heard doleful stories from descending miners
of the hardships of the diggings, the perpetual rains,
the spongy ground and consequent wet-sinking, the
enormous prices of everything; winding up in all
cases, where the recital came from an unlucky narrator,
that we had better return as soon as we could, or we
should have to beg our way down again. All suggestions of this kind were at once scouted as unworthy to
be followed by bold Britons, and now and then we certainly had the satisfaction of seeing a man going down
with his pack appearing remarkably heavy, and once
we met some lucky fellows with three mules well laden
with gold-dust.
After crossing the Quesnelle we only had about sixty
miles farther to travel before reaching William's Creek,
but those sixty miles! We got our animals as far as
Keithley's Creek, after struggling through a sea of mud
with a bottom composed of roots of trees, and here we
had to get rid of them, for no creature but a man was
capable of carrying anything over the remainder of the
journey at that season of the year.    We therefore sold 110
our mules to a returning packer for half price, and
thought ourselves lucky to get so much.
The cargo was made up into packs weighing about
eighty pounds each, and with these comfortable little
appendages on our backs we had to travel forty miles
on foot. We had to make a double trip too, storing
half our load on the first occasion and returning for it;
as there was nearly one hundred and sixty pounds per
man all round.
All the sides of the mountains were soaked with the
melting snows and the soft drizzling rain, which seemed
to fall for an average of three days out of four. The
ground itself was a soft spongy mass, and the inferior
vegetation consisted of various mosses growing amongst
the roots of spruce and balsam fir-trees. The trail
through this had become trodden into a filthy quagmire,
with fallen trees across it every few feet, over which it
was no pleasant thing to clamber with our heavy loads.
Added to this the path was generally very steep, often
at an angle of forty or fifty degrees, and occasionally
skirting precipices, where a false step would have sent
the wayfarer to destruction.
We were glad indeed to pass Antler Creek and reach
the Bald Mountain, on the other side of which lay
William's Creek. This mountain was some seven or eiiih t
thousand feet high, and from that fact the upper portions of it were even then, in the end of June, covered
with snow, which a sharp frost every night rendered |MU
sufficiently hard to walk upon in the early morning
before the sun gained power.
At last, after sixteen days hard travelling to and fro,
we landed the whole of our cargo safely at William's
Creek, and took a day or two to rest from our toils and
determine the spot upon which our muscle should be
exercised in seeking for the evasive spoil beneath.
■■ 112
William's cheek.
A GOLD-SEEKEit is eminently a creature of circumstances.
He has none of the opportunities of investigating
beforehand the path he is about to pursue that are
granted to ordinary mortals, but is the victim, or, as
the case may be, the lucky follower, of the first likely
rumour that reaches his ears. He represents in fact
but another phase of the desperate gambler.
Science can assist him but little in his search for
the capricious treasure ; unlike the baser metals, no
rules or theories at present known are in reality available for revealing its whereabouts. Practical experience
is indeed of some avail, and one might rely better upon
the opinion of a few old gold-miners, than upon the
whole Geological Society for the probability of gold
existing at any given spot. But even the judgment of
experience is overthrown again and again.
There are or were in California some digging's called
' Greenhorn,' and the name arose thus: In 1851, or
thereabouts, a large body of men were at work upon
the bars  of the river on  which these diggings are
DO       o
situate, and were taking out gold in considerable quan- WILLIAM'S CREEK.-
tities. One of the recognised axioms of gold-mining is
that the precious metal has originally existed in the
quartz veins permeating the hills, and that the gold
which is collected has been from time to time washed
away from these quartz veins, as the surface became
decomposed, and has from its superior gravity found its
way to the beds of the streams. Judge then of the
surprise of the old hands when they saw a party of
emigrants just arrived by the ordinary mode of transit
at that time,' across the plains,' take their station upon
the summit of a detached mount in the centre of the
valley, instead of beside the others in the bed of the
stream, and commence to dig and delve with all the
energies at their command. Still greater was their
surprise when it was found that the spot selected by
the emigrants in sheer ignorance, and which no professed miner would have looked at for a moment,
turned out to be the richest for miles round, and
' Greenhorn,' thus named from its pioneers, attracted
one of the greatest rushes known*
We soon found ourselves in the quandary Of not
knowing where to go; one advised one thing, one
another, and a third another, all equally certain to be
'a dead thing,' until we' were fairly puzzled to
For two or three miles down William's Creek all the
available ground appeared to be taken up, and the
place bore a wonderful resemblance to an ant's nest. 114
The unfortunate little stream had been treated in the
most ignominious manner.    A little above the town it
flowed along silvery and clear as it had been wont to
do; but soon inroads were made upon its volume in
the shape of ditches cut from it, and continued along
the sides of the hills, to feed the huge over-shot water-
wheels that appeared in all directions. ' Then its
course became diverted into five or six different
channels, which were varied every now and then as the
miners sought to work the surface formerly covered by
them. At intervals dirty streams were poured forth
by the sluices, in which the earth dug from beneath
was being washed by the water; and here and there the
stream was insulted by being shut up for a few hundred
yards in a huge wooden trough, called a ' flume.'
Across the breadth of the little valley was a strange
heterogeneous gathering of smaller flumes, carrying
water to the different diggings and supported at various
heights from the ground by props, windlasses at the
mouths of shafts, water-wheels^ banks of 'tailings'
(the refuse earth washed through the sluices), and
miners' log huts.
On the sides of the hills the primeval forests had
been cleared for a short distance upwards, to provide
timber for mining purposes, and logs for the huts.
These abodes were more numerous on the hill sides
than in the bottom of the valley, as being more safe
from removal. Wi
The town comprised the ordinary series of rough
wooden shanties, stores, restaurants, grog shops, and
gambling saloons; and, on a little eminence, the official
residence, tenanted by the Gold Commissioner and his
^assistants and one policeman, with- the British flag
permanently displayed in front of it, looked over the
In and out of this nest the human ants poured all
day and night, for in wet-sinking the labour must be
I kept up without ceasing all through the twenty-four
hours, Sundays included.' It was a curious sight to
look down the Creek at night, and see each shaft with
its little fire, and its lantern, and the dim ghostly'
figures gliding about from darkness into light, like the
demons at a Drury Lane pantomime, while an occasional
hut was illuminated by some weary labourer returning
from his nightly toil.
The word here seemed to be work) and nothing
else; only round the bar-rooms and the gambling-
tables were a few loafers and gamblers to be seen.
Idling was too expensive a luxury in a place where
wages were from two to three pounds per day, and
flour sold at six shillings a pound.
The mingling of noises was as curious as that of
objects. From the hills came the perpetual cracking
and thudding of axes, intermingling with the crash of
falling trees, and the grating undertone of the saws, as
they fashioned the logs into planks and boards.   From
I 2
SI -1
the bottom of the valley rose the splashing and creaking of water-wheels, the grating of shovels, the din of
the blacksmith's hammer sharpening pickaxes, and the
shouts passed from the tops of the numerous shafts to
the men below, as' the emptied bucket was returned by
the windlass.
In such a Babel of busy mortals it was not to be
expected that much reliable information was to be got;
but at length I came across an individual who answered
my numerous enquiries, pointing out from time to
time the shafts representing the few rich paying
' Thar's the Adams claim—they took out five hundred ounces yesterday; and that un with the shed over
the shaft (guess they're afeard of ketchin' cold), that's
the Steele claim; and away down thar by the canon
there's the Black Jack tunnel, and I reckon they'll
strike it pretty rich soon !' and so on for some dozen
names or so.
' And what are all these other shafts around us ?
arn't they taking out any gold ?' I asked.
' Waal no, yer see they're all after it mighty smart,
but there ain't many of 'em as'll strike it I don't think,
for the " pay dirt" don't run wide, and if one gets it,
the other five or six on each side of him caan't strike
it nohow.'
My informant was one of a regular type often met
with in these places, a regular f prospector;' that is to WILLIAM'S CREEK.
my, a man who gives up all his time and labour as a
rule for other people's benefit. Thus, the discoverer of
sWilliam's Creek was a man named Dutch William.
He first crossed the Bald Mountain alone, with his
^blankets, and a few days' provisions, and his pick,
shovel, and prospecting plan on his back. On seeing
the Creek (which for its extent has probably produced
more gold than any spot in the world) he hastened
back, procured some companions, and with their assist-
. ance sunk a shaft some fifty feet deep, at the foot of
which they came upon a strata of blue clayey gravel
rich with gold. When the party returned for a fresh
stock of provisions they were followed, and an immense
rush took place. The ground all round them was
speedily taken up; and, unfortunately for Dutch
William and his friends, the spot they had staked out
contained but a very narrow portion of the lead, which
was exhausted in a few weeks. I remember in the
following winter aiding in a subscription to enable the
unlucky discoverer of this mine of wealth to leave the
My new friend told me that his name was Jake
Walker; that he was one of the first body of men who
had found the Cariboo country, and that previous to
that he had been mining with varied success on the'
bars of the Eraser Biver since 1858, having come up
from California, where he had left his ship in '49, and
taken to mining. 118
His appearance was singularly battered. His large
feet were encased in india-rubber boots (called gum-
boots in the vernacular), which covered the thighs, and
fastened round the waist. He pointed with deep
chagrin to a large hole in one of them, which rendered
them useless against water, and explained that it had
been caused by the root of a tree hidden in the mud,,,
whilst he was walkin
g ove
r from Jack of Clubs Creek
that morning. His trousers exhibited a strange
instance of ingenuityin a place where those necessary
garments cost twenty dollars a pair. They were composed of discarded flour sacks sewn together, with
remains of the various brands that had once advertised
the contents of the sacks appearing in all directions,
upon the surface. An old blue shirt, a hat, from holes
in which the wearer's scanty hair cropped out, and a
belt containing a sheath-knife and a rusty revolver,
completed his costume.
Another piece of information he vouchsafed was,
that he was 'tarnation hard up;' so I took the old
fellow to our tent, and we had some dinner together. Whilst eating our frugal meal, I told Jake
I wondered he didn't go to work in one of the rich
claims where they were paying men sixteen dollars a
day to work, as it was certain an experienced hand
like himself would readily gain employment. Jake's
reply was characteristic: 'Waal, I've been my own
boss (master) for the laast thirteen years, and I reckon. WILLIAM S CREEK,
I never intend to work for no other man again. Thar
ain't a trader on the Creek but what'll give old Jake
jawbone (credit) fur his regular hash and whiskey ; and
I alius pays sometime. I'll bet the Pacific Oshin to a
cup o' cold water, I strike it before the season's run out.'
Abashed at my presumption, I turned the conversation to the subject of Jack of .Clubs Creek, and
hazarded the suggestion that he had been prospecting
' Yes I hev,' he said, ' and I calculate I'll create a
purty sudden sensation thereabouts shortly. But I
tell yu it'll be heavy papers gettin' gold out o' that
crik; it's deep, an' it's wet, an' a man'll hev to work
like a hoss 'fore he'll get to the bottom; but when he's
thar (if he don't get drowned fust) take my word for
it, he'll strike it rich !'
' I tell yer what,' he continued, ' I'll make a trade
with yer. I see you've got enough provishuns fur two
or three months here ; I haven't got no grub, nor no
money, but I've staked out my claim on Jack o' Clubs,,
and paid that darned Britisher up thar tu dollars and
a haaf fur doin' it. Naow there's plenty of ground all
round me, and ef you coons like to find the supplies,
we'll jine together, and put down a shaaft.'
About this time my companions dropped in, and
we all held a conclave on Jake's proposal, the result of
which was that we agreed to go over the mountain and
look at the place the next day. 120
Jake passed the night in our tent, and with break of
day we all started and reached the summit of the Bald
Mountain soon after the sun had risen.
This mountain is the source of numerous creeks,
which diverge from it in different directions. Jack of
Clubs Creek took its rise within a hundred yards of
the spot from which William's Creek also issued ; and
thus, according to the theory of the gold being washed
out of the hills by the streams, if William's Creek were
rich, Jack of Clubs ought also to be so. Wherever we
went on this mountain, quartz, the matrix of gold, was
abundant, and afforded some idea of the wondrous
wealth contained beneath.
We followed the course of our new creek for two or
three miles, and judging by all those appearances
which miners rely upon, the place was the most likely
one that could be imagined. Our hopes rose with the
prospect, and when our guide showed us the point he
had selected, a spot where, if gold existed at all in the
bed of the valley, we must hit upon it, we at once agreed
unanimously to join our fortunes with his for the season.
The next week was occupied in packing over our
stores of provisions and the requisite tools, and building a good log hut to contain us all. One day we fell
in with Pete the drover, who' had found a capital
market for his stock, and in the warmth of his heart
gave us a couple of quarters of beef and a sheep;
this enabled us to live quite luxuriously for a long time. WILLIAM'S CREEK.
Our company consisted of five, and we staked out
our claim and registered it at once. Two of us set to
work in the woods to get out timbers, another commenced digging a ditch along the side of the hill to
bring water power into play, and the remaining two
proceeded to sink a shaft.
After tremendous labour we succeeded in getting
down a depth of about forty feet, when a freshet
came down the creek one night and swamped the
shaft, filling it up almost to the brim with dGbris. A
new sort of pumping gear had then to be invented, but
all to no purpose, for we could not get our shaft clear
again of the mud and water. Then another was sunk
a little way off, but just as the bottom was reached
again we were drowned out, and we began to despair
of ever getting to the bottom at all. Still old Jake's
confidence was unabated, and he kept up our pluck by
numerous stories of luck as the reward of perseverance,
after the style of Bruce and the spider.
We worked all through that summer and autumn,
and at the end of that time we had a new shaft
down for a depth of fifty feet. We knew from the
quality of the ground that we were now nearing the
bed-rock, close to which we hoped our fortune lay.
But our provisions were nearly exhausted, and our
money entirely so, and our clothes were worn to rags.
Storekeepers were obdurate, and refused credit on the
strength of our expectations, and nothing remained, 122
therefore, but to leave our claim till the next season,
in the hope of then reaping our reward.
We left the greater part of our provisions with old
Jake, who intended to winter up there and trap martins, and keep an eye on the claim; while Pat and I
turned our faces once more towards civilisation, with
hearts heavier than our purses, but not half displeased
either to leave our exile in the wilderness for a sii
months' sojourn in the pleasanter lower country.
Down the road we tramped, with a pair of blankets
apiece on our backs, and a few days' rationsj looking
out for work at the roadside farms we passed, but
failing to obtain it through every chance of the kind
having been snapped up long before by broken miners
preceding us in their exodus.
After a few days we were reduced to the frugal fare
of turnips, gathered from the fields surrounding the
wayside houses, scattered at intervals of ten or fifteen
miles along the road. By the time we reached Fort
Yale again we were considerably lowered in body and
spirits by the unaccustomed poorness of our diet. We
made every effort at this town to obtain work, but
without success. Tired out and faint we trudged a
distance of four miles farther to the landing-stage for
steamers at Emery's Bar, intending to appeal to the:.
generosity of the captain for a free passage to .Victoria!"*
Arrived at Emery's Bar we kindled a fire near the
edge of a little plateau, and spread our blankets with a j
view of making sleep serve the purpose of a supper.
A steamer was expected up in the morning, and as at
the stage of water which then existed it could not get
any farther than this point towards Yale, we had a
faint hope of earning a good breakfast the next morning by helping to unload.
As we were smoking a pipe—luckily a little of the
weed that' cheers but not inebriates' was left to us—I
heard a cheery laugh a little way off on the bank of
the river beneath us; while my nostrils, rendered
acute by the privation of my other organs, detected
on the evening air the delicious scent of frizzling
bacon. Utterly unable to resist the impulse, Pat and
I bounded down the little hill, and stood before what
to us was a pleasant sight—a roaring fire, and a-
party of four men sitting down to a hearty supper of
bacon and newly-baked bread, spread upon a sail on
the ground. Moored to the bank close by were three
huge canoes, and behind the fire was a large tent rigged
up with oars • and sails. From this we gathered, as
afterwards appeared to be the case, that the men were
engaged in boating the freight from the steamers up
to Yale in their canoes.
One of the party, a hardy-looking ex-Californian,
immediately hailed us with, ' Well, boys, didn't know
we had any neighbours to-night. Take a seat by the
fire. Why you com'd out of the woods thar as sudden as
a bear out of a hot log! Kind'er skeared me, 'pon my
soul!    Hev some supper ?' 124
It is needless to say we did not refuse this kind
invitation, which was followed by one to bring our
blankets down, and spread them in their tent, as they
had plenty of room. We did such ample justice to the
fare that even our hosts seemed surprised; but they vied
with each other in placing their store at our disposal
till we were satisfied. With all their rough exteriors
and manners, there is more kindness of heart in one of
these unpolished denizens of wild countries than in a
host of your town parasites.
After supper we replenished pipes round the fire,
and our friends seeing that we looked wayworn and
hard up, enquired what we had been doing and what we
purposed doing. We told our story, and of course said
we were looking for work, offering to lend the party a
hand next day in return for our entertainment.
' No,' said the person who had taken the initiative
in addressing us, and who seemed to be the captain of
the party, ' I reckon I don't keep a boarding-house,
and you're welcome, boys, to what we've got here.
We've all of us seen rough times ourselves, 'fore now, I
guess. But look here,' he added, ' ef you're the raal
grit both on yer, and ain't afeard to risk yer 'tarnal
carcasses fur good big wages, I guess we ken find a job
■fur yer. This work of ours is mighty risky though, and
•you'll run a big chaance every day of losing the number
of your mess, for if one of them craaft (pointing to the
canoes) gits upset in this tarnation river, there's a WILLIAM'S CREEK.
rare poor show fur a man to see his mammy again,
you bet!'
I closed with the offer at once; and Pat, with tears
in his eyes, told the captain, with native warmth, that
'be jabers he'd go to the ind of the worruld for him
an' 'ud run Old Nick a race in the nixt, if that was
We turned into our blankets with a more comfortable
feeling than we had had for some time past; and at
early dawn were aroused by the snorting of the steamer
heading up the stream to us.
Soon we were at work like niggers, amongst a crowd
of Indians and deck-hands, unloading the freight and
piling it up on the shore ready for transmission to our
canoes. In two or three hours the steamer was cleared
out, and we proceeded to get ready the canoes, which
must have been made of wondrous trees, for they
carried about four tons apiece. They were nearly fifty
feet in length, with a beam of six feet, and each one
burned and chiselled out of a single cedar-tree ! They
had been strengthened for their present use by strong
ribs and braces, and were fitted up for eight oars, with
a twenty-foot oar at the stern for steering: a rudder
: would not have had enough power in that tremendous
stream, and the eddies and whirlpools caused by it.
In the bow of each was a strong stanchion to fix the
tow-rope to ; and a man was stationed in the bows to
watch the run of the current, and to look after hidden VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
rocks;   helping to steer, moreover, when necessity
occurred, with a paddle.
The rowers were stout Northern Indians, all picked
men; and each canoe had a white man to steer, and
another to take the hardly less arduous place in the
bows. It is a curious circumstance that the Indians,
who have all their lives been used to the management
of canoes, cannot be trusted to take the place of
steersman of one of these larger craft; in bad water,
with all their knowledge and skill, they lack the nerve
of their white brethren. Pat and I had fro take the
place of bowmen, and commenced our apprenticeship
to our future posts in a contemplated trip through the
canons to Lytton.
. The first step of our upward journey of four miles
to Yale was to carry the freight about two hundred
yards along the shore, to the other side of the rapid
that prevented the progress of the steamer. The
canoes were then towed empty through the rapid, and
precious hard work it was to get them over even then.
■ When this had been done they were reloaded, and we
were able to get along at the rate of about a mile an
hour with the oars for three miles. Then came
another rapid or ' riffle,' called Saw Mill Bar, but we
managed to tow the canoes through this loaded, and
shortly afterwards landed our cargo at Yale.
We had to make six trips in all to get up the whole
of the freight, and at the end of that time Pat and in
I thought ourselves well qualified to start on the more
hazardous expedition through the canons. The work
was fearfully hard, but its excitement overcame this
and the fears of danger too ; and I could realise from
it something of the feelings of a soldier entering upon
a battle, who, I don't suppose, relishes it much until
bis blood gets warmed a little.
■■ 128
About a week after this we got our load for Lytton,
and after a thorough overhauling of our little fleet, and
patching up every possible defect, we made a start at
break of day; reaching Fort Yale about nine in the
morning, where we received hearty wishes for our
safety and success from the little community of merchants.
We dragged on to the first portage, where all our
freight had to be unloaded and carried over the rocks
for some distance; the canoes also being taken out,
and pushed along skids and rollers to the place of
re-embarkation. Then a little rowing and a tiresome
piece of scrambling over the rocks, with all hands, save
the steersman, on the tow-rope. Many a sousing in
the river we got, as one of the line of towers would
miss his footing and ship into the water, sometimes up
to his knees, but more often to his neck; only saving
himself from being carried away, by his hold on the
rope, and the aid of his companions.
So were our days employed from morning till night:
when, too exhausted often to change our wet clothes, BOATING ON THE FRASER.
or to cook our suppers, we would coil Ourselves in our
blankets by the camp-fire at the side of the. river, and
dream of rocks and falls, and eddies and whirlpools,
with visions and remembrances of our quiet homes
every now and then intruding themselves on the
picture. Then we would rise with the dawn and enter
again on a fresh day's toil, sometimes only to see at
the end of it the place we had left in the morning,
not more than a couple of miles away.
It may give some idea of the strength of the current, when I tell my readers that at a spot some ten
miles above Yale, a little over one hundred miles from
the mouth of the river, the Fraser, which is twelve
hundred miles long, and receives numerous almost
equally large streams in its course, flows through a
channel in the rocks of only one hundred and sixty
feet in width. The sides of this place, graphically
called ' Hell's Gate,' are nearly perpendicular, and the
high-water mark (in the summer, when the snows have
melted) is no less than one hundred feet above low-
water mark in the winter.
At the end of the twelfth day we hailed the sight of
the blue waters of the Thompson, running side by side
with the sandy-coloured stream of the Fraser for some
distance, and after a sharp pull reached the end of our
journey; blessing our stars that we had escaped all the
dangers that had surrounded us, and got over our
hardships for a little while.
K 130
The crew and officers both took sailors' licence on
getting into port; and we didn't make up our minds
for four or five days to go down again. The trip had
been so favourable to the proprietors, in a pecuniary
sense, that another one had been determined on; and
we all felt something like the Chinaman who will
render himself a substitute for a person sentenced to
capital punishment, on being paid a certain sum down
(about fifty pounds I have heard) and given a fort*.
night's grace to spend the money in.
The passage down was the most dangerous part of
the business while it lasted, for instead of dragging
painfully up-stream along the shore, we were rushing
down in the centre of the stream almost at the mercy
of the current; gliding with fearful rapidity over the
very spots where we had been obliged to take our
freight, and sometimes the boats themselves, out of
the water, in going up. At only two places, the
Great and Little Falls, we still had to make portages.
Now was the time that the bowman's eyes had to be
strained to the utmost for the treacherous rocks, often
in full mid-stream, and his voice and muscles exercised
to avoid the awful whirlpools which showed themselves
in the ever-changing waters.
In four hours' traveUing we had reached Boston
Bar, nearly half way down; there we stopped to recruit ourselves; for the rowers had been hard at work
every inch of the distance, in order to give sufficient BOATING ON THE FRASER.
steerage-way to the canoes. This is the great point in
strong water; always get as much way as you can on a
boat, so that you can steer her anywhere. We saw a
sad instance of the want of attention to this shortly
While at Boston Bar, a peculiar national fight
occured. A peaceful Chinaman had set up a little
washing establishment, and given forth to the world
an advertisement of his trade in cabalistic characters
posted on the exterior of his abode. Although these
could not be read by the outer barbarians, yet, coupled
with the strong smell of soapsuds and ironing, they
were a sufficient index to John's occupation, and many
a weary miner gladly availed himself of the opportunity of shirking so non-virile a task as washing his own
Some of our Indians had somewhere or other, contra
bonos mores in general, and to the infraction of the
colonial laws in particular, got hold of some fire-water,
and in the ordinary Indian way became very truculent
and unmanageable.
The party, numbering four, went to the outside of
John's shop, and commenced to chaff John in Chinook—
a not very convenient medium for the purpose.
Finding chaff to have but an indifferent effect on John's
good temper, they assailed him in a more vulnerable
spot, his devotion to the almighty dollar, by smashing
one or two of his windows.
K 2 132
John now began to expostulate volubly in a mixture
of Chinese and Chinook, and I observed him retire to
the interior of his den, and prepare one of his irons.
These are of peculiar construction, resembling a
saucepan, with the sides perforated, and the bottom
polished ; the interior is filled with live coals, and the
handle is about two feet long.
On John's reappearance, his assailants, gaining
additional courage, made slight personal assaults upon
the unhappy washerman, still without Raising his combative propensities; but when at length, intoxicated by
success, one of the Indians attacked that sanctum
sanctorum of a Chinaman, his pigtail, John became
alive to the situation.
Bushing into the back premises he seized his iron
from the fire; brandishing it round, he brought it with
a sudden swoop fell upon the head of the nearest red-
man. A lot of ashes escaped from the receptacle, and
immediately frizzled in the hair of the unlucky
Siwash, well lubricated with salmon oil. John used
his weapon with such success that all four Indians
were soon skedaddling towards the river, with their hair
full of burning cinders, scenting the atmosphere in no
pleasing manner, and shaking themselves as a burning
fragment would fall on their skins. Into the river
they plunged, and, the stream being reasonably still
here owing to a large eddy, they soon swam out of the
way of the rocks with which the infuriate  Celestial BOATING ON THE FRASER.
pelted them. This termination of the quarrel was
eminently satisfactory, for it rendered our crew sober
again, and we knew all their energies would soon be
called into action.
As we were getting ready for another start, a canoe
manned by six rowers and a steersman passed by, and
we noticed that the navigation of the craft seemed
very loose. We made off as soon as we could, and
looked rather anxiously ahead for the party that had
passed ; for two or three miles below there was a very
bad place, and our captain hoped to get within hail,
and direct them how to steer over it. We rowed a
good sharp stroke, and just got near them as they
entered on the bad water.
A large rock was in the centre oYthe stream; and it
was necessary to steer close past this, with a strong way
on the boat, to avoid getting broadside on to a cross
current that came round the other side of the rock, and
caused a large whirlpool, where any boat must be
swallowed up to a certainty.
We shouted out to them to keep close to the rock
and row hard; but they only attended to our instructions imperfectly, and we saw the boat beginning to
swerve round as if it were gradually getting out of
control. Again we shouted to them with all our might
to row for their lives, but they only got more flustered
and excited in the presence of the danger they saw
ahead, and the steersman, who was a negro, we could 134
see was trembling and shaking with fear. Meanwhile,
the boat was drifting along broadside on to the tremendous breakers without any sort of command being
exercised over her.
' God help 'em!' said our captain, ' they're gone
coons! nothin' but a miracle '11 save 'em now. Sometimes the water changes fur a minute er tu, and that
tarnation whirl may be smooth water when they gets
to it. But no, there's no chance of it now, and there
they go, dead on to it, by Heaven I Pull on boys, harder,
fur God's sake! we may pick up one er tu of them
poor creatures,' he added, as we all saw the sad spectacle that followed, and heard the dving shriek of the
fated crew.
Their canoe had been half filled by the breakers
through which we saw them drifting helplessly, broadside on, and as they neared the whirlpool they lifted
up their hands and shrieked aloud, for they knew there
was no hope of salvation as the set of the current drew
them closer and closer to the watery abyss.
A scream of 'Mother!' I heard,through the roar of
the waters, from the lips of a fine young lad, as he jumped
far into the current in the hope of clearing the whirl.
But no, alas! the under-tow seized his legs and drew him
into the horrible vortex, despite his struggles. At the
same moment the boat gave one spin round, and slowly,
never so slowly, as it seemed, sunk beneath the waters ;
.with the rest of her crew standing up, with hands out7 BOATING ON THE FRASER.
stretched, and faces such as I hope never to see more,
till the waters rose over the head of the last of them,
drowning their dying cries, and all was a blank! Never
shall I forget that fearful sight; those weird figures,
sinking slowly down into their watery grave, like
shadows from another world, drawn out of this abnormal
sphere by some unholy machinery.
Almost before the boat had sunk we shot by the spot
on the current at lightning speed, and a little farther
on, where the stream abated, we headed our canoe
sharp round, in the hope that one or two of the poor
fellows might yet struggle to the surface; but, after
waiting long, no sign came, not even a particle of the
boat; and we were obliged to pursue our way, to escape
being shut in by the darkness. No word was spoken
for long, and tears stood in the eyes of most of us,
including even the stolid Indians. In another five
hours we were safe at home, and rendering those tardy
thanks to a safe-guiding Providence which are too
often forgotten by men inured to danger, until some
terrible episode as that we had witnessed brings them
to a sense of the perils they have escaped.
Not a trace was ever found of that boat or its
occupants. The negro was known to have had a
considerable sum on his person in a belt, and the
others had more or less money in their possession, so
that there were many needy jackals seeking for their
bodies; but nothing ever came save a felt hat, which 136
was picked up by an Indian next day below Fort Hope,
and so the beasts of prey were fain at last to give up
their quest and betake themselves to their previous
occupations, which we will hope were of a more honourable nature.
We rested a few days at Yale, and then got another:
load for Lytton. We made our second trip safely, and
in rather better time than the first, as the water was
lower; but Pat and I had seen almost enough of that
kind of work, and were not sorry that there was no
more of it to be done if we had wished it. The
Indians were all paid off, and it was arranged that four
of us and the captain should travel down to Victoria
in one of the canoes, taking a hunting excursion among
the islands in the Gulf of Georgia on our way.
The day before we started I had an unpleasantly
narrow escape myself. The place where we camped
(the same where Pat and I first fell in with the party)
was on the shore of the river, fronting a large eddy
caused by the sand bar, round the extremity of which
a very strong current always ran.
We were in need of a supply of sugar for our voyage,
and I was despatched to a Chinaman's store across the
river, in a little light canoe, to obtain some. Now it
required tolerable skilful work to cross the river at
this point; the great danger was in heading out of the.
eddy running up-stream into the current running.,
down; if great care were not then exercised the canoe
was very likely to get upset. BOATING ON THE FRASER.
The day was warm, so I had no clothes on but a pair
of duck trousers and a shirt, with a pair of slippers on
my feet, when I started across ; and this was very lucky
for me. I had'noticed a lot of squaws and Indians
bathing in the bend caused by the sandbank, and as
I was nearing the edge of the current I heard a tremendous shout from one of the bathers, which caused
me to look round; it didn't appear to be anything
more than that one of the squaws had cut her foot on
a sharp piece of rock, and I was about to look ahead
again, as I knew I ought not to have taken my eyes off
my own position at all, Avhen in an instant I was
whisked into the water and saw my canoe flying off in
the current. My inattention had caused the frail craft
to head the stream in a wrong direction, and my being
spilt was the natural consequence.
I struck out as hard as I could, but soon found that
I must relinquish breast-swimming, as it placed my
legs too deep, and they, were caught by the under-tow.
I therefore swam on my side, but was surprised at the
little progress I could make, although a very strong
swimmer. The water was boiling and seething all round •
me, and it was as hard to force one's limbs through it
as if it were treacle. There was no other canoe or
boat on the shore, so I knew that all my chance lay
in reaching the latter by my own endeavours. After
struggling for some minutes I found myself but little
nearer, and knowing that my strength would be ex-
i 138
pended before I could reach it, I turned upon my back
to rest for a few seconds. While in this position the
nature of the water suddenly changed, as it often does
in these places, and I found myself impelled into the
centre of the current without any power whatever to
prevent it.
I now almost gave up all thoughts of escaping, and
began to have unpleasant thoughts of home and my
friends, till I found that the current was much the
best place to be in after all, as it required little or no
exertion to keep to the surface in it; and I hoped, by
allowing myself to be carried on, I should get past the
cursed eddv, and be able gradually to near the shore I
had left.
Believed of the necessity for the vigorous exertions
I had been making before, I looked round me, and
saw poor Pat running down the bank with frantic
gestures and shouts. A little way from me I saw
something better yet—a limb of a tree floating quietly
along. A few strokes brought me to it, and, placing
one arm over it, I used the other to bring me gradually
to the shore.
All this time the water was deathly cold, and I was
getting numbed and powerless; when, after drifting
for about two miles, the river suddenly narrowed, and
enabled me to near the shore rapidly. I perceived
soon after the trunk of a fallen tree projecting some
distance into the stream; and leaving my support, I BOATING ON THE FRASER.
made a final effort, and- reached the tree, to which I
clung with desperation.
A minute or two after Pat came up, followed by the
captain, bearing a rope and a bottle of brandy. The
rope was skilfully cast to me; I seized it, and was
dragged ashore, where I fainted dead away for some
minutes, until I was revived by the brandy with which
Pat and the captain had been bathing my face.
I took such a pull at that brandy bottle as would
have made an ordinary individual stare, and was able,
after a little, to get back to the camp with the assistance of my partial deliverers. I don't think many
other men have had such an escape from that death-
dealing stream as I had, and it made me remember
my early swimming-lessons with gratitude, mingled
with the wish that that useful art were more generally
taken up by others*in their youth.
The following morning we got up early, and our
boat having been got ready, we started off on our
downward course, the old canoe travelling along
merrily under our oars. We soon passed Fort Hope,
where a change in the direction of the river enabled us
to hoist our sail and proceed without labour, except
such as steering involved.
About mid-day we reached the mouth of Harrison
Biver, where we took dinner, and then proceeded
again. We had occasion to call at a place a little
below this, called the Sumass, a considerable tract of 140
open meadow land, fringed with trees and brushwood,
and covered at the high-water season by the overflow
of the river.
The water had now been drained off this land for
about two months, and a crop of hay was being
gathered by a few men who dared ■ to brave the mosquitoes. Pat was deputed as the messenger, being
furnished for the occasion with a muslin mosquito bar
to guard his face and neck, and exhorted to keep his
hands in his pockets.
Following these instructions, Pat pursued his way
through the swamp, the winged torments singing round
his head in futile rage, and endeavouring to probe the
unwilling surface of a pair of short Bedford cords.
After accomplishing his mission, he was returning to
the boat by a shorter route, when he came across a
herd of Spanish cattle. One of these took umbrage
at bis scarlet shirt, and immediately gave chase,
foUowed by the rest. Pat ran for his life to gain the
woods skirting the river, and to get breath threw off
the mosquito bar. He just reached the woods in time,
as 'the foremost bull came tearing after him full butt
against a big pine-tree. The next minute Pat went
in up to his neck in a bog, from which he had great
difficulty in extricating himself by the aid of a projecting limb. The cattle knew better than to follow
him there; so he escaped, and came running out on the
beach to us in a sad plight, literally black with the BOATING ON THE FRASER.
mosquitoes that had settled all over him on his
emerging from the swamp.
Seeing the insects flying round him in myriads, we
shouted to him to stand off, and pushed the boat out a
few yards; for we knew if the wretches got to the
boat they would follow us for miles, and give us no
' And ho' am I to git into that boat ?' asked Pat.
'Ye'll hev to swim tu it I reckon,' replied the
' But shure I can't shwim a sthroak, cap'n dear!'
'Waal, then you'll hev to stop whar ye be. I'm
blessed if I'm goin' to be chawed up by them infarnal
' Och ! shure I'll drown like a pig. What'll I do at
I unshipped the steer-oar, and let it float out towards
Pat, holding the end tight. Pat gathered his courage,
and goaded to desperation by the insects, made a
mighty plunge, and caught hold of the oar as he came
up, when we hauled him alongside, and dragged him
in. We had some paraffin oil aboard for our evening
lamp, and after rubbing Pat's face and hands with this,
the pain of the mosquito bites was much abated, but
his face looked very like an extra-swollen currant
pudding for some time.
We rowed on down the river, meeting a steamer or
two on the way, till late in the evening we saw the
lights of New Westminster, and tied up at one of the 142
wharves of the noble capital; pretty well tired after
our day's journey of ninety miles.
We all went off to sleep in our blankets in the
bottom of the canoe for that night; reserving the next
day for a turn round the place, principally with a view
of improving our wardrobe, which was not of the
stamp expected in the more civilised latitudes we had
come into.
The little town had grown a bit since the spring,
and our appearance, as we passed up the street in the
morning, called forth many applications from the
enterprising Jewish proprietors of dry-goods stores.
We made ourselves a little tidy, bought a couple of
shot guns, some ammunition, and fishing lines, and
rowed off again in the afternoon. Just before night
we got out of the mouth of the Fraser, and pulled
round to Point Boberts, just within the boundary line
of American territory. Here we met a retired sailor
named Portugee Joe, who had gone in for a comfortable existence upon a very small farm, supplemented
by the proceeds of his gun and fishing-boat.
Joe had taken unto himself a maid of the forest,"
and had built himself a large snug log-house, in and
out of which a number of lusty little half-breeds were
scampering. There was plenty of room for all of us,
whiskey galore, and any amount of game and fish to
be had for the killing; so we counted reasonably on a
very pleasant holiday after the hard season's work we
had gone through. M,
If any of my readers have happened to see the Gulf
of Georgia, with its shores and islands, they will I
think bear testimony with me to its almost unequalled
Perfectly land-locked for a length of some two
hundred miles, with an average breadth of fifty or
sixty, its blue surface is dotted with innumerable
islands rising majestically out of the water, and covered
with primeval forests, in which here and there appear
lovely spaces of natural pasturage.
All along the shores of the mainland the horizon is
shut in by snow-capped mountains, above which, to the
southward, towers the lordly cone of Mount Baker, an
extinct volcano some thirteen thousand feet high. On
the Vancouver Island side are mountains again, though
not so high, forming the requisite contrast to their
brethren opposite by the variety of their tints.
Here, too, are richer signs of savage life than there
are inland; the waters are specked with the white
sails of canoes, and the banks are dotted with Indian
villages;  their  occupants swarming round them in
!■ 144
blankets of many hues; giving the picture the little
dash of bright colour which the artist loves. Occasionally, too, one comes across a peculiar feature of the
scene—an Indian burial-place—generally in some
lonely and isolated spot, where the' few sombre pines
spring up from crevices in the grey barren rock.
The Indians do not bury their dead; but when one
of their number dies, his corpse is attired in his best
apparel, and is placed in a square box about a yard
high and long by two feet wide. The knees are thus
brought up level with the head, in something the same
position as the deceased adopted when sitting on the
ground by the camp fire. The box is fixed high up in
a tree, and round it are hung the dead man's favourite
weapons and belongings, sueh as his musket or bow
and arrows, his paddle (sometimes even his canoe), and
any article of clothing he particularly affected. Some
strange medleys are often exhibited thus, sufficient
almost to provoke mirth in the eyes of the civilised
stranger, in spite of the sanctity of the spot.
I remember once inspecting the relics of a chief of
note. They included a good-sized canoe, suspended .
from a tree, at a height of some thirty feet from the
ground, by strips of dressed bark. From the sides of
the canoe hung various articles, among which were
several paddles, the skeleton of a dog, some blankets
(which had once been red, but had now, by the action
of the wind and rain, become nearly black), the rusty A HOLIDAY.
barrel of an old flint musket, a bow and spear, two
bear skins, a pair of old trousers (very ragged), and—to
crown the offerings—an old beaver hat, and a crmobme.
The latter had probably been placed there by a devoted
daughter, in the hope that when her father's spirit was
called away to the happy hunting-ground, he might
carry away with him this questionable female appanage as a dowry for the spouse he should adopt in his
new sphere ; while the beaver (not a thing commonly to
be found in those parts) was doubtless added as a makeweight for the poverty of the husband's raiment in
the matter of trousers, when the celestial pilgrimage
should commence.
The spot that Portugee Joe had selected for his
homestead was particularly pleasant. Sheltered from
the cold winds of the north and east by a protecting
headland, it stood close to the margin of the sea, in a
little natural meadow fringed with woods; with a
bright sparkling stream rushing past, on its way from
the hills to the sea. There is but little rise and fall
in the tides here, so the house and meadow were safe
from inundation; but the currents in this little inland
sea are very variable, and of such force in many places
between the islands that even powerful steamers have
great difficulty in making headway against them.
At break of day Pat and I went out, with a shot
gun apiece, to look after some wild ducks, of which we
had seen innumerable quantities about the low-lying 146
marshes at the mouth of the river. We got into a
little-canoe, and paddled along till we saw the ducks
getting thick; but they were all the common black
ducks, which we could now afford to despise, though
they would have been priceless delicacies up at the
mines. After a little we started a couple of mallards,
and Pat and I each brought down our birds, but
owing to the want of a dog we could not find them.
We had better luok soon though, for we got among
some teal, and brought home half-a-dozen at breakfast-time.
Such a breakfast! just the sort of one our forefathers
would have relished centuries ago. Wild profusion of
luxuries, but all dressed perforce in the simplest
manner, with no sauce save a hunter's appetite to
enhance their richness. Oysters, clams, salmon, trout,
venison, wild duck, and grouse, formed the menu,',
washed down with good strong coffee a discretion,.
We had milk and butter too, for Joe managed to keep
a couple of cows on his little paddock.
It seemed strange to me when I first went to •
America to drink tea or coffee with every meal; but it
is the custom there, and you hardly ever see an
American or Canadian drink beer or wine with his
dinner. All their libations of that sort are taken at
the ' bar,' probably out of respect to the ladies; for it
is considered a heinous offence against public morals
that a lady should be anything but a teetotaller.   I A HOLIDAY.
am afraid this idea tends to more cupboard-practice
than is good, for it is undoubtedly a bad thing to
excite a woman's curiosity by placing a taboo on a
thing she would not be likely to abuse if unrestrained.
Happily these puritanical notions are now wearing out
in the higher circles of American society; in fact, at
this time, New York society approaches almost too
closely to that of Paris.
After breakfast Pat and I resumed our quest after
the wild-fowl, the rest of the party going on a fishing
excursion. This time we took with us a dog, a rough-
looking beast of Indian breed, and wolf-like aspect,
but trained by Joe's perseverance into a capital
In a little bay we saw a wonderful flock of ducks;
the sea was literally black with them for a radius of
half a mile. We returned post-haste for an old
swivel gun of large bore we had seen in the house,
which we intended to use merely to see how many it
was possible to kill with one shot. We came again to
the spot, and, favoured by a projecting point covered
with rushes, we planted the old gun in the bow of the
canoe, and fired into the thickest of the birds.
All the enormous flock took flight on the report
being heard, and when we counted our spoil, they
numbered (of course my readers won't believe me) no
less than eighty-three! But then it must be remembered that game is at a great disadvantage in wild
countries, for it is so unacquainted with danger that it
suspects nothing, and is an easy prey to the hunter.
I have often killed grouse (which in that part of the
world lodge in trees) with sticks and stones. One
might miss them three or four times without their
moving, and when they did move at last, it would only
be to fly lazily a few yards to another tree, where
the assault was of course renewed till the unhappy
birds fell.
The captain and the rest of our party came back
with a fine haul of halibut (a very fine fish something
resembling turbot) and rock cod, while Joe made his
appearance later with a young buck across his shoulders,
and the pleasing intelligence that he had met in the forest
with the tracks of a herd of elk. After a lollv evening
we turned in early in the hope of finding the elk the
next morning.
In these hopes we were not disappointed, for Joe and
the captain and myself started off, with the three rifles
the company possessed, long before daylight, and as
dawn appeared we came upon fresh tracks leading
towards a little lake some ten miles inland. We had
to follow these with great perseverance and caution, as
we had no dogs; but after some three hours' scrambling
through the bush and skirting cranberry swamps, we
suddenly came in view of about fifteen of the splendid
creatures browsing in a pleasant little space bordering
the lake. A HOLIDAY.
; The wood enclosed this space in a semi-circle, so the
captain went off in one direction by the edge of the
woods, and I in the opposite, Joe remaining where we
first stopped. When the captain and I had reached
our respective stations, we all three advanced towards
the herd with the certainty of getting a close shot,
unless they took to the water before we got there.
Soon the herd saw us, and lifting up their noble
heads sniffed the air and formed a close phalanx; then
the leader burst forth, and they all flew off close along
the margin of the lake in the direction where I was
standing. When well within shot I fired, and the
leader fell. At this the rest of the herd stopped short
with a bewildered air, until, scenting the blood of their
fallen companion, they became aware of a danger they
had not realised before, and turning sharp round, fled
back the way they had come. Joe and the captain
now closed in, and seeing themselves encircled the
creatures plunged into the lake, but too late to prevent
two of their number falling beneath our rifles.
We didn't at all know how to get our game home
for some time, till Joe remembered the little stream
running past his house, and which he thought headed
out of this lake. On exploration this proved to be
correct, and with the aid of a hatchet we carried we
formed a raft and a couple of rough paddles. The
raft we fastened with withes from the banks of the
lake, and then we placed our burdens on it, and with 50
paddles and poles got it round to the spot where the
little stream flowed out. After great labour we got a
couple of miles down the stream, which was very swift
and rocky, and as night was approaching we walked off
through the woods, blazing the trees with the hatchet'
as we went along, so that we might return next day to
the spot without difficulty.
The following morning we pressed all the party into
the service, and got our load safely home. One of the
elk we kept for Joe's household, and his wife set to
work to cure the hams; the other two we put in a
canoe and took back to New Westminster, where we
sold them for thirty dollars apiece, the horns being
valuable trophies, together with a number of the ducks
Pat and I had shot, for which we obtained eighteen-
pence a brace. From this it may be seen that hunting
is not bad even as a pecuniary speculation in that part.
For a fortnight we continued enjoying this delightful
life, hunting, fishing, shooting, and sailing, till our
restless spirits began to get chafed once more, and we
determined (with the exception of Joe) to go on a
little exploring expedition, in search of the precious
1 metals, to the head waters of the Squawmish river, which
falls into the Gulf of Georgia at Burrard's Inlet, near
the mouth of the Fraser. This spot had not hitherto
been visited by any white men, and the Indians were
reported to be of anything but a friendly disposition,
so that we expected some little excitement. A HOLIDAY..
After laying in a fortnight's provisions, getting a few
mining tools, and replenishing our stock of ammunition, we obtained the services of a Squawmish Indian,
who had lived some time at New Westminster, as a
guide, and embarked in a good-sized Indian canoe.
We had very strong weather at starting, which tested
the sea-going capabilities of our canoe to the utmost as
we crossed the mouth of Burrard Inlet, some eight
miles wide; but she rode over the waves like a duck,
and beyond getting well drenched with spray we came
to no harm. We then entered a splendid salt-water
lake, or estuary, some forty miles in length, emptying
into Burrard's Inlet; at the head of this estuary was
the Squawmish Biver, our destination.
We paddled on steadily all the rest of the day in a
drizzling rain, for some thirty miles up the estuary,
and finding a stream of fresh water coming down the
hills we spread our tent and camped for the night,
taking turns to watch every two hours, as we were now
in a doubtful country.
All was quiet during the night; we had in fact seen
no Indians since entering the lake, as nearly the whole
of them were away at the ' big salt water,' getting in
a supply of fish for the approaching winter season, so
our fears on that score were considerably allayed. Next
day we travelled on and reached the mouth of the
river before noon. We made for what appeared to
be the largest of several mouths of the stream, and
I 152
ascended it for some four or five miles through low-
lying delta without much difficulty.
Here, however, the river changed its character, and
became very swift and rocky. We were now getting
into the heart of the Cascade range, and began to look
about us for geological signs. A large Indian village,
temporarily deserted, was at hand; we took possession
of one of the huts for the night, and finding one or
two natives, who from age or sickness had been left
behind, by the aid of our guide and interpreter we
obtained the loan of a couple of much smaller canoes,
in which to continue the ascent on the morrow, our
own being much too large and heavy for the strong
and shallow water we had to encounter.
Transferring our effects to the smaller canoes we
pursued our way, stopping now and again to test a bar
in the river for gold. We found it in very small quantities, nothing like sufficient to pay for working, and
the general appearance of the country and its mountains did not argue the presence of that metal in the
beds of the streams. There were strong indications of
copper, lead, and silver, the principal rock formation
observable being limestone; there was also much quartz,
the matrix of gold, but in too highly crystallised a
state to allow a hope of any of its buried treasures
having been washed from it. We looked in vain for
the decomposed slate, which is the best index for finding
the king of metals.   Coal was frequently met with, A HOLIDAY.
and if ever the undoubted mineral wealth of this place
be brought to light and worked, nature seems to have
provided every requisite for assisting in its development; the greatest advantage, as every mercantile
mind will appreciate, being that of ready communication by water with the sea-coast.
For two or three days we kept on, often progressing
with much difficulty, till the river was no longer possible of navigation in any shape. We then pitched
our tent, and left two of our number in charge; while
the captain, Pat, and I, put our blankets and three or
four days' provisions on our backs, and started off to
finish our exploration on foot, with our guide. We
kept up our prospecting for gold on the way, obtaining
rather better results as we got higher in the mountains.
At the end of the second day we reached the head
waters of the river, in a high pass through the middle
of the range; and looked down on the other side upon
the chain of lesser hills shutting in the Fraser Biver at
Lillooet, some two hundred and thirty miles from its
mouth. The mountains here bore the strongest evidence of their mineral wealth, being riddled with veins
of quartz and copper, lead and iron ore, whilst in the
bottom of the stream we found many pieces of native
copper. At this point there was an Indian village, with
one or two old men and squaws in it; but they were
of a different tribe from our guide, and although VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
neighbours, understood but very little of his language.
They had never seen white men before, yet they had
heard much of them, and looked at us with much surprise mingled with suspicion.
We gave them some tobacco and a loaf of bread,
which made them regard us with much more satisfaction, and they managed to enquire from our guide
what the white people wanted there. He replied by
pointing to the mountains and to some specimens of
ore that we had, laughing much and tapping his fore*
head, as if to intimate that we were harmless lunatics.
On seeing this, a very old Indian, who seemed to be
the chief of the tribe, went into his hut, and produced
a little box, full of fresh chipped pieces of quartz^-
covered on the outside with bright-shining yellow iron''
pyrites. This substance he evidently thought was gold,
the white man's idol; and indeed I have known many
besides Indians deceived in the same way. I looked at
these specimens with great interest, for at the first
sight I had detected that many of the pieces of quartz
enclosed fragments of silver ore, exactly similar in
appearance to the richest veins in Washoe and Idaho
I tried hard to obtain some of these specimens to
take back with us to be assayed, but the owner's
cupidity was too great; the more I offered to barter
for them, the more he suspected the value of the commodity the white man was so anxious to purchase.    I A HOLIDAY.
tried by signs to get him to show me the place in the
mountains from which they had been obtained, but he
would give no more than a general sweep of his arm
all round the country, and at last, on being further
pressed, subsided into the customary Indian stolidity,
from which nothing could move him; so, our provisions beginning to get low, we had to return without
gaining anything but the knowledge of the infinite
wealth there was waiting in store for some enterprising
seeker, centuries hence perhaps.
We got back the next night, after a hard day's march,
to our two companions with the canoes, and were glad
of a day's rest; for we had been wet through, and had
slept in wet blankets for the three preceding nights.
So hardened does the frame become, however, by constant exposure, that none of us felt any the worse.
We now made haste to return to New Westminster ;
taking with us one of the small canoes, which we purchased. Near the mouth of the river, on the side of a
steep hill, we shot a mountain sheep, which is a very
rare animal, of peculiar appearance. It looks more like
a goat with very long hair than a sheep, except that
its horns resemble those of an English ram.
In another two days we reached our first camping-
place in the estuary. We came in at dark, hoping
that we had been unobserved by a large camp of
Indians, whose fires we saw across the lake, some five
miles wide at this point.   Late in the evening, after
!■ >6
cooking our supper by the aid of a small fire, lighted
behind some rocks to screen it from the view of our
neighbours, we suddenly missed our Indian guide ; and
on making search we found that he had made off with
the small canoe, and a good quantity of our provisions.
Luckily all our fire-arms and the paddles were in the
tent, guarded by the constant presence of one of us, or
the rascal would doubtless have taken our means both
of defence and escape from us.
We had no doubt that he meant joining the other
Indians, and that they would probably on receiving his
information attack us for purposes of plunder; murdering us if they could to save unpleasant consequences,
and with the knowledge that they would be safe from
pursuit in the inaccessible passes of the mountains we
had quitted. On looking keenly across the surface of
the water, we descried the traitor about half way
across, and knew of course that it was too late to give
chase. With all expedition therefore we struck our
tent, packed everything into the larger canoe, and
paddled off in the middle of the night till we were
within ten miles of the mouth of the estuary; when,
utterly wearied out, we ran the canoe ashore and fell
asleep; leaving one to keep watch for an hour in turn
until day.
Soon after daylight I woke, and looking back saw
an unpleasant spectacle. About ten canoes were
coming towards us as rapidly as they could, and were 'HI
within a mile of us. Our look-out had fallen asleep,
■$orn out I suppose, and had nearly done for us all. I
soon roused everybody, and as a fresh puff of wind
favoured us, we hoisted our sail and paddled off as hard
as we knew how. Our canoe was large and heavy
though, and we had not enough men to impel her as
fast as our pursuers came. Ahead of us we could see
the mouth of the estuary, with a tremendous sea running ; too heavy, we feared, to live through.
It was now a race between us for the open sea at the
mouth; we did not expect the Indians would follow us
there, as their canoes were smaller than ours, and
consequently still less likely to weather the storm, in
braving which lay our only chance of escape. In the
consciousness of this we struggled manfully, forgetting
our previous exertions and want of rest, but it became
painfully apparent at length that we should be caught
up with before we could get out in the open. We
began to despair, and to curse the unlucky man who
had fallen asleep on his watch, till the captain brought
us to our senses by swearing he would shoot the first
man who ' left off work to take to growling.'
'Yu bet, boys,' said he, 'we'll fix them "tarnal
skunks yet! Only keep a good grit, and ef we can
pick off one er tu of 'em fust, maybe it'll scare the
whole bilin' of 'em right off. But ef yer goin' to
quirrel like a lot b' squaws, we'd better sell out our
chaances to onst!'    At this juncture we were about 158
three iniles from the outlet, and the nearest canoe was
within four hundred yards. In it we recognised our
runaway guide. The captain handed me the steering
paddle, and carefully inspected the priming of Bis
Sharp's rifle; directing two others of the party to load
two more rifles at the same time. The wind freshened
as we neared the sea, and there was too much motion
to enable a steady aim to be taken at the distance we
then were from the Indians.
' Naow,' said the captain to me, * when I say the word,
jes yu bring her head roun' inter the wind, an' that'll
surprise our friends some. They won't be able to stop
'emsels so sudden, and I'll try ter put a bit o' lead
inter the carcass o' that Mr. Squawmish Jack; aafter
that we must cut an' run agin, ef we ken.'
The increasing wind had brought the foremost canoe
a good way ahead of its fellows, as it carried a larger
sail. In about five minutes, when everything was
ready, the captain said quietly to me, ' Naow Dick !'
and I brought our craft up dead in the wind (not
without some danger of capsizing). Three reports
followed, and afterwards the whirr of the rifle bullets,
and I saw Squawmish Jack fall into the bottom of the
canoe, with a full reward for his treachery; while the
steersman, wounded in the arm, dropped his paddle
and the sheet of the sail at the same time; and the
canoe, getting broadside on to the waves, filled and
sunk. A HOLIDAY.
This was our salvation, for the rest of the canoes gave
up the chase to pick up their comrades, all being rescued
but Squawmish Jack, who had probably been shot
dead, for he never rose again to the surface. We made
the best use of our time, and getting under the lee-side
of one of the headlands at the mouth of the estuary,
sailed out into the gulf. There was no chance of
making the Fraser Biver, so we headed straight across
the gulf for Plumper's Pass, a channel between two
islands, in the direct route from New Westminster to
Victoria, and got safely across in spite of the elements.
We found a gun-boat anchored here, and told the
officers of the outrage; they promised to send a couple
of boats' crews in pursuit of the Indians, but we learned
afterwards that owing to stress of weather they could
not do so until it was too late to be of any avail.
We rested a day or two in the Pass, and determined
to proceed at once to Victoria, without returning to
New Westminster, and to adopt the former town as a
place of residence for the winter. We reached the
harbour of Victoria without further mishap, and were
not sorry after our little bout to be once more within
the domain of ordinary society. 160
Victoria was wonderfully changed for the better since
we had last left it. The pretty little town was now
filled with some ten thousand or more inhabitants,
and was beginning to grow into an extensive place.
Huge hotels were springing up to feed and house the
roving hordes of gold-seekers. Banks, assaying offices,
warehouses, and even churches, appeared in unexpected
locations. Particularly, to my intense chagrin, I observed a party of miners quarrying away into the rocks
composing those ' town lots' my legal friend had
tried to persuade me to purchase on my first visit here,
making foundations for some large storehouses. The
suburbs were opening out in all directions, under the
auspices of miners and others with sufficient means to
buy a lot, and to build a house or log-hut on it to live
in through the winter.
But I saw other sights which did not please me, and
filled me with some trepidation. Thousands of men,
without means or work to do, were hanging about the
bar-rooms or their little one-roomed shanties, sponging
on the first acquaintance any better off than them- WINTERING LN VICTORIA.
selves for a meal. In my walk down Government
Street I was 'tapped' on no less than four separate occasions for ' haaf a dollar.' This made me look at my
own slender finances with troubled thoughts, for, without the chance of earning anything, I could not hold
out very long.
I met lots of my old shipmates and acquaintances,
and the changes of fortune that had befallen them
were strange indeed, varying from the ludicrous to the
sad. My original partner I found ' keeping bar' in a
whiskey saloon of decidedly second-rate character; his
person adorned with a ' biled' shirt of questionable
cleanliness, and many sham diamonds. He had not
much of interest to narrate. His first experience in
the labour market had been the common one of road-
making. His next employment was to dig potatoes
for a wealthy.' gentleman of colour,' who had amassed
his riches as a drayman, aided by judicious speculation
in town lots. This occupation I thought (with my
social ideas becoming fast Americanized) to be very
low down indeed; but my friend appeased my disgust
by stating that nething less than impending starvation
had driven him into it. Finally, he had happened
upon his present berth, which seemed to suit him
sufficiently well.
Going into a restaurant of humble character to
obtain a 'square feed' at fifty cents, I was waited
upon (deuced badly too) by a young man of gentle- VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
manly appearance, in whom I recognised a quondam
associate and first-class through passenger, who had
taken his degree at Oxford the year before, but had
been allured from his intended profession, the Church,
by the British Columbia excitement. The poor fellow
seemed dreadfully down, and did not recognise me till
I made myself known, when we had a talk together,
and he informed me that his employer was a sort of
steward's mate, who had worked his way out, and
whom we had aU kicked and? cuffed about the- steamer.
In the evening, visiting for an hour a place- of entertainment, which was a dim refleetion of a London
Music Hall, I was filled with surprise to see in the
person of a singer a lady of the most superior attainments and connections, who had accompanied her
husband with the view on his part, as we all understood, of taking up a large tract of land and raising
stock. But the husband had taken to drink instead,
and squandered his mpney, and the wife was what I
saw her; and that, alas I was only a cloak, for a viler
life. It was no pleasant spectacle to see this poor
creature—who, whatever she might be now, had once
been a lady, and a virtuous wife—drinking champagne,
after her singing was concluded, at a public bar, with
ruffians in mufti, whose ordinary conversation was blasphemy, and whose assumed manners fitted them as ill
as the ' store clothes' they wore. Some exception in
this respect might be made in favour of one or two WINTERING LN VICTORIA.
professional gamblers, whose greater proficiency in the
arts of the beau monde had been gained at the expense
of their moral perceptions of the principles of meum
and tuum. Well, I thought, surely this poor sinner
meets with her punishment in this life, and may not be
hardly dealt with in the next! With a saddened heart
I went to rest that night.
A few days after, Pat, who had been staying with
me, went off to one of the logging-camps at the sawmills across Puget Sound, to ply his former vocation of
cook for the winter; and in order to husband my
resources, I took a small shanty in a back slum, and
laid in a stock of provisions for a month,, with the
intention of doing anything that turned up, and
raising sufficient money, if possible, to take me back
to my claim on Jack of Clubs Creek in early summer.
I often think of that time now with sentiments of
wonder, how we- all got through it; and I must confess
that I recognised and thanked the helping hand of
Providence more then than I have done since in better
days. When those two months and another one were
gone, nothing was left to me but a pair of blankets,
too old and rotten to fetch anything, and the clothes I
stood in, which were getting very ragged, and anything but impervious to the cold. My toes had
worked perforated patterns in'my only pair of boots,
and I suffered from a general absence of underclothing,
money, and food.    With five thousand destitute men
v. 2 164
thrown on the town for their livelihood through the
winter, the chances for each individual unit were small
enough. StiU, although at this period I generally
coiled up at night in my blankets without the knowledge of where breakfast was coming from in the
morning, I managed to exist without sponging on my
neighbours, or partaking of the Colonial hospitality
through the kind permission of the police magistrate.
Once an Australian nicknamed Bob Bidley (whom I
afterwards heard was an old ' lag,' or convict) induced
me to join him in a little contract for clearing a
suburban lot. We had to take it at a very low price
on account of the competition there was to obtain it;
but we expected to make fair wages for about a
month's labour. My companion obtained an advance
of provisions for a fortnight from our employer, and
we worked like a couple of slaves while that lasted,
chopping, rolling logs, burning them, and grubbing
out the stumps; living in a perpetual atmosphere of
wood-smoke, and dust, and looking such begrimed
savages that our very mothers would not have known
In the third week I noticed my new partner began to
shirk his work a little, and one morning he started for
town to get some more provisions. He came back late
at night, dead drunk, and with only about a couple of
days' provisions. Exasperated at this, for I had been
nard at work from daylight till dark, and had had no WINTERING IN VICTORIA.
supper, I remonstrated with Mr. Bob ; but he only
became truculent, and swearing he'd have my life,
made at me with an American axe uplifted, the bright
edge of which I had just time to see by the dying
light of one of our fires, and to grasp a pickaxe, witli
which I stopped the blow aimed at my head. Quickly
disarming the scoundrel (luckily he was a smaller man
than I, and not sober), I bore him to the ground, and
inflicted upon him with my boot a chastisement which
the rules of the ring would hardly warrant, but which
was, I think it will be admitted, lenient enough under
the circumstances. Not caring to pass the rest of
the night in such charming society, I shouldered my
blankets, the tools, and one half of the provisions, and
marched into the town. In the morning I ascertained
that Bidley had got all the money due on the contract
out of our employer, and had spent it, so I was fairly
on my beam-ends again.
But at last it became hard times indeed with me.
I had reached the end of the third day without a
morsel of food having passed my lips, and was walking
the streets in no cheerful frame of mind, when I passed
a French restaurant, in the window of which, temptingly displayed upon snowy napkins, were many
dainties of an enviable nature, and a bill of fare giving
promise of the many good things to be got within. I
was fascinated by this window, and began to revolve in
my mind what chances there were of filling the unsatis-
I 166
factory void that existed in my internal regions.
Should I go straight up to that fat little sleek Frenchman, address him in the best of his language that I
could command, represent my condition, and ask him
to trust me for a meal? Another glance at the man
revealed the hopelessness of such an application.
Perfect civility, a huge shrug of the shoulders, and a
cold stern refusal, would be the reply. Should I, on
the other hand, boldly take my seat, eat and drink my
fill, and swagger up to that little counter, with my
hat" cocked in full rowdy style, and confront that little
Frenchman with the remark, ' Waal, mossoo, I guess
you'll hev to charge that meal to my 'count; I'm
broke!' and so leave the premises ? Even if a pitched
battle arose, I could but receive my farewell kick;
which I could stand comfortably enough with my
weight in the quarter where the kick would be received
better balanced by a full stomach. No dread consequences of another nature could ensue ; the transaction
was but a simple contract debt.
So my mind was agitated for some time, but not
made up; for my pluck was oozing away with my
physical strength, my eyes gloating over the spread
meanwhile; till I saw the host inside begin to peer
through the window at me with glances of suspicion.
Knowing then that my game, if played at all, must
be played at once, and with boldness, I had placed my
hand upon the door-handle, and was about to turn it, WINTERING IN VICTORIA.
•When I felt a heavy slap on the shoulder. Turning
round sharply, my heart gave a bound of delight, for
I saw my old friend the Captain, of Fraser Biver
* Waal, young Johnny Bull, what air you standing
fixed at that winder for, like a bump on a log ? Come
and take a drink!' said he.
I did. ' Another ?' ' You bet!' I replied, determined to get liquid refreshment if I couldn't get solid.
'Now, s'pose we hev some supper at that little
Frenchman's yu was lookin' at 'while ago. The trip
down on that steamboat's made me kind of wolfish.'
Of course I acquiesced.
The bill of fare was a puzzler to the captain, who
protested vehemently against' them tarnation French
fixins,' and told me to ' palaver a proper square feed
out o' that darned frog-eater, and not to forget the
buckwheat cakes!'
I met the Captain's wishes with little difficulty, and
proceeded to satisfy my own desires with so much
practical application that there was little time for
talking between us; but when my companion had
concluded his part of the repast, and had picked his
teeth and expectorated contemplatively for some
quarter of an hour, seeing me still devouring ravenously, he concentrated his faculties of observation upon
me, and remarked :—
f Why, Dick, old hoss', you seem sort'er hungry, an' 168
now I notice it, them clothes o' yourn 'pear to be a
trifle played out. Hev the times bin rough with yer
I explained that this was my first meal for three
days, in spite of all my endeavours and struggles to
earn one.
He leaped up: ' An' they call 'emselves white men
in these parts, du they ? Here,' said he, diving into
his trousers pocket, ' take that, my son, and pay me
back agin when you're well off I'
'So saying, he threw on the table a big shining
twenty-dollar gold piece, with a flush on his good
honest Yankee face, and something like an oath or two
on his lips. My eyes had a weakness about that time
that thev hadn't exhibited since at the age of eight I
was spanked by my schoolmistress; they involuntarily
moistened as I wrung the noble fellow's hand who had
thus twice saved me from the direst straits of poverty.
The captain was off again to the Fraser next
morning, and left me with all sorts of good wishes and
hopes that I should join him in a few more trips
through the canons. His loan was of wondrous service
to me, for it enabled me to hold my head above water
till I got employment as a brewer's drayman. This
post I held comfortably enough till, driving home late
at night over a rough cross-country track, I was pitched
off the summit of my load to the ground and broke
On getting over this reverse I gained an unexpected
promotion in the shape of a berth as assistant in an
assayer's office, for which position I deemed myself
fully qualified, according to a colonial standard, by
having made trifling chemical experiments in the
kitchen at home, to the terror of the servant-girls, and
by having once nearly suffocated an usher at school
with a jar of chlorine gas surreptitiously introduced
into his reading-desk, and dexterously overturned at
the right moment by a piece of string.
I found my new work very pleasant after my rough
experiences, the only drawback being the sensations of
envy created by the piles of gold dust brought in by
luckier mortals than myself, to be melted down by my
agency into shining bars, with their value tested and
stamped on the outside. The pay being good I was
enabled to wear good clothes, and to put up at a
fashionable boarding-house, on Yates Street, kept by
Mrs. Meekins and her daughter Angelina.
Mrs. Meekins was the widow of the captain of a
New England whaler, who had died some time since at
Honolulu deeply in debt, and she and her daughter
had met with many vicissitudes since then, until they
had settled into their present haven. Owing to this,
her temper was of a somewhat vinegary nature, and
her habits regarding pecuniary matters of a tenacious
Angelina was a pretty girl; but most of my readers 170
have read that oapital book 'The Autocrat of the
Breakfast Table.' In that little work the hostess and
her daughter are so closely described that I have often
been inclined to think, if it were possible for the world
to be unaware of the movements of such a man as
Oliver Wendell Holmes for even a short time, he must
have paid a visit to Victoria to take Mrs. and Miss
Meekins for his models.
So .scarce was female society, however, that the fair
Angelina, despite such drawbacks as are inherent to an
uneducated Miss, was the centre of attraction, not only
to-our boarders but to many of the outer barbarians,
who, from lack of room, could gain no admission within
the pale of our little community. The prototypes of
many of Mr. Holmes' characters were there too: three
or four very fair likenesses of ' that young man John,'
a ' Koh-i-noor' or two, and a young Presbyterian divine
of ultra fire-and-brimstone principles. But, alas! there
was no fair young ' schoolmarm,' and no professor to
keep us in order.
I believe a young bank-clerk and myself ran the
principal race for Angelina's favour for some time; but
I finally gained a signal victory over my rival by
pulling up a pair of horses, which, under Angelina's
management, were running away with us in a buggy
on the Beacon Hill Course. I luckily succeeded in
checking the mad career of these wild steeds of the
prairie (hired for the  occasion at the extravagant WINTERING IN VICTORIA.
outlay of ten dollars) within about fifty yards" of the
edge of the cliff, and the yielding Angelina seized
the occasion to fall upon my breast, and utter sentiments which could not be misunderstood, ere she
adopted the ordinary feminine course of fainting.
But my only love romance out West was nipped in
the bud: for that very day, as ill luck would have it,
while I was absent from his office, my employer took a
fancy that he had a better right to certain gold bars
than the man who had left with him the ' dust' that
composed them the day before, and accordingly took
passage to San Francisco (with the said gold bars) upon
the steamer, the blue smoke of which I had pointed out
to Angelina on our return home, when her consciousness had revived. My employer also left me a creditor
for the amount of two months' salary.
Mrs. Meekins was ' very grieved, but her house was
high-toned.     She was  afeard  my conneckshin with-
Mr. might be offensive to her boarders.   She had
noticed a sartin amount of familiarity with her dorter
that she didn't quite approve, and as she had other
views for Miss Angelina, would I ?'  Yes I would,
and did leave in a huff, after many tears and vows from
•Spring had now set in, and on transferring my effects
from Mrs. Meekins' to an establishment of less pretensions, I observed the advertisement of a coming
regatta.  This I regarded as an opportune chance, and 172
determined to avail myself of it; so I looked up a
young fellow whom I had rowed with two or three times,
and we entered ourselves for aU the pairs and the
sculling races. After a week's hard training we con-
fidently felt ourselves ' fit' against any opponents we
were likely to encounter.
The auspicious day arrived—a pleasant bright one—-
and we surveyed the course with feelings of hope
tinged with apprehension, for on our success depended
the chance of getting up the country again to our
claims at the mines, which would otherwise be forfeited
or 'jumped.' The course extended from a bridge
crossing part of the harbour out round a small island
and back, a distance of about two miles, and as we had
three races before us our work was cut out for that
Our first race was a pair-oared one, and there was
only one crew against us—a couple of hardy watermen
from the neighbouring harbour of Esquimalt, whom
we did not hold in much awe after the first half-mile,
that being about the distance they were accustomed to
pull to the men-of-war in the harbour, and then to
reward their previous exertions by copious draughts of
The spectators evidently thought differently from
ourselves, and judged it nothing less than effrontery
in a couple of striplings to engage with men half as
heavy again as  themselves,  and, as thev imagined. WINTERING IN  VICTORIA.
better up to the work. Particularly the American
lookers-on (who were probably the worst judges in
such a matter) favoured us with considerable chaff, and
when we asked them to back their opinions did so
freely, laying odds of from three to five to one against
us. These we took to the full extent of our limited
finances, and had a very pretty book by the time we
were ready to start.
The race, as we only had expected, was a very hollow
affair. Our adversaries started off at a great burst,
thinking to have it all their own way, and left us a
long way behind in the first half-mile; but at the
island they were completely winded, and we passed them
easily, rowing home many lengths ahead, to the great
surprise of the betting-men.
The next was a sculler's race, in which four were
entered. I made the running for my friend, who came
in at the end an easy winner. The last was a two-pair
sculling race, for which we walked over, as no one
cared to oppose us; and thus, to our great delight, we
netted sufficient in the day to take us up to" the mines,
and give us a fair start again.
I wrote to Bat to come over; and, our other partners
' in mining industry being ready, we all started again
together for another venture at Jack of Clubs Creek.
I had a stolen farewell interview with Angelina,
when many promises were exchanged; but the banker's
clerk was too many for me while I was away.   With the 174
aid of the intriguante mamma he induced the girl to
marry him a month afterwards. Poor thing 1 he made
her a bad husband, took to drinking, and beat her, and
wound up by running off with an actress. 175
Locomotion was easier this year than the last. We had
less encumbrance, no mules, no provisions, less personal
effects, and less money, unfortunately; but we had
gained considerable experience, and were inured to
hard work.
The Colonial Government had turned all its energies
and resources towards the formation of a trunk-road
from the head of navigation to the mines, and the
work was proceeding vigorously. We passed some
hundreds of men in road camps at different points;
and, being too early by about a month for regular
mining operations, we allowed, ourselves to be persuaded to lend our services to the country for that
period, and engaged with one of the contractors.
The reader will have little idea of what one of these
road camps is like, if he has not visited a new country.
Emerging suddenly from a narrow trail through the
woods, one comes upon a little temporary settlement
of one's fellow-bipeds. It is dinner-time, perhaps, and
the ear is assailed by the clatter of many knives and
forks and spoons upon tin plates, while the omnipre- 176
sent odour of the inevitable beans and bacon makes
itself known to the nostrils. From a huge log fire
two or three cooks are bearing gigantic pans, full of
this homely but substantial diet, to the expectant
heroes of the axe and shovel, who stand at long
benches in rows, very like pigs waiting at a trough.
Their ravenous anxiety is evinced by an angry silence,
unbroken save by occasional objurgation at the delay,
until the repast is spread; when a free fight with cups,
plates, spoons, and forks, arises for the first chance at
what comes nearest. Still no talking is heard, all are
too busy; nothing but the incessant clatter that marks
the stupendous process of demolition that is going on.
In a quarter of an hour the human voice begins to
assert itself; as the rude tables^become deserted, their
occupants rush off like a herd of cattle to the little ■
stream that comes tumbling past from the steep mountain side, and refresh themselves with deep draughts
of the cool waters; after -which revivifying process
their pent-up tongues renew their natural functions.
Pipes are lit, and the men betake themselves in little
groups to the shade of the picturesque assemblage of
white tents peeping out of the surrounding woods, and
stretching themselves on their beds of pine boughs,
proceed to dreamy conversation, under the soothing
influence of tobacco, until that dreadful gong summons
them again to their toil. Then, at the close of
day, the table scene is repeated—with less violence,
for there is more time to spare—and the same groups
congregate again together to pass away the evening
till sleep overcomes their willing eyelids. Sometimes, but rarely, the glimmer of a candle may be
seen through the canvas of a tent, where some gambler
in distressed circumstances holds his nightly levSe,
regretting the smallness of the stakes he plucks from
his companions, or where some better-occupied individual is laboriously editing an epistle to the loved
ones thousands of miles away. At length the candle
is extinguished, the last spark leaps out of the
log-fire, and the little camp is still—stiller than surrounding nature, which has seemed so still all day; for
now the beavers are busy at their little dam just up
the stream; and you may almost hear their teeth
gnawing away at the pine-tree, which they will fell as
surely though more slowly than the hardy Canadian
who sleeps close by; the martin and the mink scream
and chatter in the woods; the hungry wolf prowls near
the little settlement; the bear shuffles forth from his
den, and his growl is answered by an under-breathed
one from the sleepy watch-dog, whose dream over the
ashes of the fire has been disturbed by his ursine
There are three grades of men employed ; choppers,
who are the pioneers, cut down the trees in the line of
road, and fill up ravines with crib-work built of logs,
or build log bridges over the streams; graders, who
it 178
follow the choppers, with pick and shovel, grub out
the stumps of the trees, and dig away or fill up the
■soil; and the blasters, who are a special class, generally
Cornish or Welshmen, who assault the rocks, where
they are in the way, with drill and sledge hammer, and
quickly demolish them afterwards with gunpowder.
But the first two classes are made up of all sorts of men,
from the escaped convict, or ticket-of-leave man, to
the son of the wealthy English commoner, or New
York merchant.
Pat and I thought ourselves qualified by previous
use of the axe for engagement with the choppers, a
much cleaner and more pleasant employment than that
of the graders. We worked away comfortably enough
for a month, and at the end of that time the nature of
our labours had placed us some thirty miles further on
our road. Our other partners in the claim stayed to
work at a farm for another month, while we pushed on
to Cariboo to look up old Jake, and open our summer
When we got into the Cariboo country it was about
the middle of May ; but the snow was still lying deep
on the mountains, and we had to provide ourselves with
snow shoes in order to reach our old abode on Jack o'
Clubs, as no trail had been beaten over the snow.
Arrived here, we found old Jake, encompassed by a
most unpleasant stench, dressing martin skins, of which
he had obtained a good many during the winter.   The ANOTHER TURN AT THE MINES.
11 Mil II
old fellow seemed as happy as a bird in his solitude,
arid when we asked him how he had spent his winter,
replied :
' Oh, I've had a gran' time of it, boys, though I'm
glad to see yer agin, fur the on'y live things I've seen
these two months has been these critters' (the martins)
' an' a cariboo' (a kind of elk from which the district
takes its name) 'that I shot while ago. I sold his
antlers (they was near six feet across) to Martin at the
saloon over thar' (pointing to William's Creek) ' fur
thirty dollars.'
< And have you been shut up here by yourself all the-
winter, Jake ?'
' Waal mostly, 'cept when I've been over to the Crik
fur provisions, an' I had a big drunk them times to
keep out the water through the summer. Come pretty
near bein' friz up one night, had my big toe kinder
sore ever since. Heerd aafterwards from Doc Brown
that the merk'ry were friz up in that glaas fixin' o' his
'shard 's a rock fur three days. That was cold, yu
bet! 'Nother time, when I was over to the Crik, we
hed some rare games, Martin guv' a ball down to the
saloon thar, an' all the boys roun' 'tended o' course.'
' And what did you do for ladies, then ?'
' Oh, why we didn't hev none, 'cept old nigger Mary'
(a fat negress who did washing for the miners) ' an' the
French madam, an' the blacksmith's wife. But we
daanced some, I tell yu!     It were stag dancin; of
N 2 180
course, fur a hundred an' fifty men was too many fur
three females, but it all came off gay, till some reg'lar
skunk went an' put croton ile in the pastry, an' then I
reckon aafter supper some of us was a bit queer fur a
'I suppose there's nothing turned up about the
claim,' I remarked; ' I saw the shaft was full of water,
and frozen up, as I came by.'
' Oh, I've got suthin' to show yer, and to tell yer,
about that, boys. Look here now! what d'ye yer say
to them ?' and Jake showed us some nice pieces of gold,
weighing altogether a couple of ounces perhaps.
We eyed our maiden treasures with delight. This
was the first gold that had come out of our ground, and
we were as proud of it as a mother of her first baby.
' An' do yu know,' Jake continued, ' that them
specimens purty near cost me my life?'
' How ?' we enquired wonderingly.
' Waal, it was this way. Aafter you'd all cleared out
laast fall, an' I wa3 a-getting my traps ready fur settin',
I took a notion one day, 'fore the frost set in, that
I'd like to put the hole a bit deeper down in the
shaaft thar'. So I turned the water on to the wheel
agin, an' pumped the shaaft out dry; but nat'rally I
couldn't get down it an' up agin 'thout somebody at
the win'lass. I went over to William's Creek next day,
an' foun' a feller loafin' about the saloon, sawin' up some
wood to 'arn his grub; so I offered him a week's board
to come over an' help me a bit. He seemed pleased
to come, ah' we got over here just about dark; Aafter
supper we sat smokin', an' got a-talkin' about the
country gen'rally, and this claim in partik'lar. He
seemed mighty curious, an? asked me a heap o' questions ; such as how many there was in the claim, when
the rest 'ud come back, an' so on ; he looked roun' the
place rather strange-like too, and seemed to take stock
of everything. But I didn't take no notice of this
' Nex' mornin' we got the shaaft quite dry, I got into
the bucket, an' he let me down by the win'lass, with a
pick an' shovel. I dug down about three feet, and
sent up the dirt in the bucket every now and then as
I went on. Then the stuff got very hard, an' my pick
struck agin a bit o' soft rock. I cleared the dirt away
an' scraped about the rock with my old jack knife; an'
then I picked out them pieces o' gold, and guv' a short
bit of a shout-like when I foun' 'em, for the sight
pleased me some. " Struck it at last by thunder!" says
I. All of a heap suthin' struck me unpleasant, an' I
looked quick up the shaaft. Thar' that man stood, an'
I could see his face in the light quite plain, though he
couldn't see me much. He was glarin' down at me,
with a darned ugly look on him. " Hullo! " I said.
" Hullo, yerself," he says. " Jes' haul me up, will
yer ? "
'" We'll see about-that presently," he goes on. 182
' I swore some, (I caan't help it when I gets excited)
but that was no use; so then I laafed as if he was
jokin'; an' puttin' them bits in my pocket, I sot down
for a piece, tellin' him that I guessed he'd get tired
first. But he went away then, an' I didn't like the look
o' things a bit.'
' Still, I didn't think he was reg'lar right down raskil
enough to leave me thar, wher' I must ha' starved, an'
perished; for there was no soul likely to come near the
place till you come along in the spring ; an' I thought
our cabin was too poor fur him to care to rob it. Then
I began to think all sorts o' things, p'raps he was mad,
more likely he fancied I'd got somethin' considerable
hid away in the cabin somewhars, an' was lookin' fur it
now. Anyhow, if he meant to leave me down thar, an'
he showed himself agin up top, I'd aask him to get my
old six-shooter out from the hiding-place over the bunk,
whar I kep it, an' shoot me straight, so as to make an
end of it. Then I thort I'd like to live a while longer,
an' I caast round for a way to get out. The shaaft's all
squar' timbered, with nothin' but the little wedges in
the corners. I couldn't climb up that way nohow.
He'd got the bucket up top, an' if he hadn't I s'pose
he'd ha' cut the rope. I thort maybe I might get up
with the pick an' the knife, by diggin' one in aafter the
other ; but if I slipped ! it made me shudder all over
to dwell on it. However, I didn't see another chaance
but to wait till he got away, an' then try it.    All this ANOTHER TURN AT THE MINES.
time the water was tricklin' down, fur he'd turned the
water off the wheel, an' the pump was stopped,—thar
was some little comfort in that, I should be drowned
'fore I was starved or friz up!
4 While I was debatin' about this, the feller came to
the shaaft again:
' " Below thar," says he.
' I thought he was goin' to let me out at laast, but
when I looked up my heart sickened, for I see he'd got
a big pack on his shoulders—all he'd bin able to lay
hands on in the shaanty.
'" Yu hound," I hollers up at him, " air you goin' to
leave me hyar, to die like a darned Injin coyote ? "
' " Good-bye," he answered, " sorry you hain't got a
better night's lodgin'," an' he sneered at me.
' I shouted at him, raved, swore, promised him
everythin' (meanin' to loll him 'soon 's I got up top)
but it was all no use, he walked away. S'pose he was
afeard to give me a chaance, an' his head was clear,
yu bet!'
' And how, in the name of goodness,'did you get out,
'Waal, after that feller went away, an' I'd cursed a
bit, an' then grOWn silly, and thort of all the bad
things I've done in my time, an' o' what my old
mammy used to teach me about the other world, I
looked around everything. Of a sudden I saw my way
out of it, and felt like to go mad with joy—not so
1 184
much even at the idee of savin' my life, as of takin'
my revenge upon that scoundrel—thar was the pump !
I'd only got to dig my pick through the bottom of the
belt into the plank at the side of the shaaft, to hold it
faast, an' then I could climb up the elevators.' (The
pump in question consisted of a wide leathern belt
working round the drum at the top of the shaft on
which were fixed, at intervals of two feet, little wooden
buckets, which filled and emptied on the principle of
a dredging-machine. By making one end of the belt
fast, Jake was thus enabled to climb up the buckets or
' That was a Jacob's ladder for you in every sense,
Jake! And did you catch the murderous wreteh after
' You shall hear. I waited till I judged he was out
of sight, fur if he'd heerd anythin' he might ha' turned
back and cut the belt, and sent me to Old Nick in a
minit. An' then I druv' my pick well home through
the belt into the timbers, an' climbed up them elevators s' quick 's I knew how. When I got to the top,
I threw myself down fur a while, as I was jest about
played out. Then I went into the cabin and foun' my
old six-shooter all right, aafter which I ate a bit o'
victuals. When I'd done, I started off to track my
' I follered his tracks to the head of the crik, an'"
then I seed 'em  turn off on the trail to the Forks o' ANOTHER TURN AT THE MINES.
Quesnelle. I considered a bit whether I should foller
him further alone, an' shoot him, or get some more o'
the boys to help me ketch him, an' then give him a
taste o' Judge Lynch. I thort the laast way the best,
an' Went to William's Crik an' got haaf a- dozen men
to come along.
' We soon came on his tracks agin, an' at the end o'
ten miles I see him walkin' along under his load.
He'd just got up from a rest an' had bin cookin' some
of my bacon for a meal, I s'pose, as we passed the
remains o' the fire he'd left. When he heerd us
coming behind he looked roun', an' seein' us he shied
off bis pack an' tried to run for it; but we were soon
up with him.
' Then he turned sharply round, and fired his derringer at me. The shot grazed my arm and made it
bleed a little, but did'nt do no more harm. We didn't
give him time to fire agin, but collared him, took his
pistol from him and tied up his wrists. Then we took
him straight back to the cabin on Jack o' Clubs. I
told my story, an' showed the boys the belt faastened
to the foot o' the shaaft, an' the man' couldn' deny it.
So we tuck him off inter the woods, an' foun' a limb
on a spruce-tree that looked convenient, read a chapter
out o' the little Bible in the cabin to him (he hadn't
taken that, you bet) an' sent him off to his long
reckonin'. I guess thar was a heavy balance agin
him! 186
' We all went back to William's Creek, for I didn't
care to stop that night in the cabin, close to that dead
man; an' in the mornin' two of the boys came back
with me, an' they tuk an' buried him at the foot of the
big spruce-tree. I'll go with yer and show yer his
grave, if yer like.'
We went to the spot, and saw a little mound, with a
rude cross over it, and the dead man's name (they had
found it on a letter in his possession) carved on a piece
of smooth board at the foot of the mound, with the
date, 21st December 1862.
Lynch-law is a thing hardly to be upheld, looked at
from our own civilised point of view; but harsh and
strong measures are necessary in wild countries, where
characters such as this man was are too numerous to be
pleasant. The rude grave was a saddening spectacle,
but we could but concur with old Jake in thinking
that the man had died fairly.
The three of us soon started to work to clear away
the snow from our claim, and put things in working
order; then we got the water-power to work, but
found we could not pump the shaft dry till some of our
neighbours also started their pumps; so we took axes
and saws into the woods, and prepared a quantity of
timbers for use underground when we should be able
to -extend our operations.
By the end of a month our other partners had
arrived,  and  our neighbours got to work, and we ANOTHER TURN AT THE MINES.
pumped the shaft quite dry. Old Jake had shown his
specimens to the storekeepers, and we had already
received offers of a couple of thousand pounds apiece
for our interests, which we refused, justly enough on
seeing the enormous amounts of gold obtained by the
miners on William's Creek from claims which had
promised less richly than ours.
We forthwith proceeded to deepen the shaft, and open
out a tunnel, or drift, from the bottom of it. Then
we found that our shaft was only sunk on the side of
the rock after all, and that the rock pitched off steeply
for a greater depth yet, so there was nothing for it but
to sink another. Jake's specimens were only lodged
in a little 'pocket' which produced a little more than
he had already taken out.
This was disheartening; but we went at it with a
will, and soon got down to a depth of sixty feet. Then
came a fight with our old enemy, the water; we tried
all sorts of experiments, but nothing would subdue it.
In it poured through the loose gravel at the bottom in
a perfect flood, which no pumps such as we had could
keep under.
Our neighbours were in the same plight too; no
chance of getting to the bottom, where we knew the
gold lay studded richly. Truly this was hard; but
such is the fate of the gold-miner. All we could do
was to give it up till the next season, when we hoped
that the roads to the upper country would be made, 188
and we could bring up steam machinery for a last and
powerful effort against the water. How I wished I
had taken my* two thousand pounds ! as I left, after
three months' slaving, to make another start at something.
A fresh species of industry next attracted me. As
I sallied forth from the unlucky Jack o' Clubs on to the
main trail, a pack train was passing. I saluted the
owner, a jolly-looking English sailor, who looked a
strange figure as he sat across a mule covered with
Mexican trappings, striving against nature to hide his
merry countenance beneath a huge sombrero hat. He-
wanted an additional hand, one of his Mexicans having
got pretty badly slashed with a knife the night before
in a drunken milee, and said he preferred to ' have a
countryman of his own to talk to, instead of them
" greasers," whose lingo he couldn't get hold of much ;'
so I gladly took the vacant post.
Not a bad life either was this in the summer time.
Up with dawn of day, hunting up the wandering
animals; then sitting down with ravenous appetite
engendered by exercise to the breakfast (of better fare
than we got in the mines) prepared in the meantime
by the cook ; then saddling and loading the mules, in
the midst of the strange oaths and cries of the
Mexicans, and the grunts of the quadrupeds as the
girths were drawn tightly round them ; and then the
pleasant ride  through wondrous  scenery for  fifteen ANOTHER TURN AT THE MINES.
miles or soj seated in a comfortable demi-pique saddle,
with little to do but to study the charms of nature,
and now and then to tighten up a load, or ride off on
a hard gallop after some unloaded animal, who had
strayed from the rest. The day's journey was generally
concluded by two or three o'clock, and after the mules
were unloaded, and the stores piled up, nothing
remained but to enjoy ourselves; keeping an ear now
and then to the tinkle of the bell, so that we should
know where to find our animals in the morning. In
the evening our chief kept us merry with songs and
stories round the fire, and the Mexicans gambled
among themselves at monte while their money lasted ;
and at night we rolled our blankets round us, and
slept beneath the summer sky, with the stars for
company, till they faded out under the beams of the.
rising sun that aroused us from our slumbers.
So I was sorry when the short summer came quite
to an end, and I had to leave my good-hearted
employer ; who had made enough money to retire on,
and get back to England, to .settle down and marry,
as. he told me, his old captain's daughter. Lucky
fellow, packing was a better business than mining. He
started with a modest capital of five hundred pounds
the year before, and left off now with twenty thousand!
No such chance as this for me : I had another winter
to get through, and a raise to make in readiness for
the development of that unfortunate claim on Jack of 190
Clubs Creek. It wasn't at all clear how a raise was to
be made, if times were no better this year than the
last, and one couldn't expect a regatta to be got up for
one's especial benefit again. 191
' Bustling ' is an Americanism, denoting the process
of fighting against odds for a living. Such an expression aptly describes the ordinary fortunes of a colonist
who has not ' hit his streak of luck,' and that position
was strictly my own when I landed at the wharf in
Victoria for a second winter's campaign.
Of course there are many stages of rustling; to
begin with the lowest, there is the poor devil who
labours for a bare subsistence, as I had done in the
preceding winter, and who thinks himself lucky enough
if he keeps clear of the pangs of hunger, and gets hold
of a softer plank than usual to stretch his weary bones
upon; then there is the middle-class rustler, who
starts a store or whiskey saloon upon credit (thinking
it mighty hard if it don't pay), and whom one finds
ever and anon displaying his energies in some fresh
field of. labour, transformed perhaps from an eating-
house keeper to a scientific lecturer, or from a
Methodist preacher to a gambling-house proprietor.
Micawber would have been a great rustler of this type
in America.    Above all rises the aristocratic rustler, 192
f J
the merchant of many bankruptcies, the politician of
undefined principles, save in 'lobby' business, the
man who always lives at the great hotel, is dressed in
the height of transatlantic fashion, patronises newspaper editors (by whom he is alluded to as ' our enterprising and highly-gifted resident Mr. So and So'), or
heads an exploration at the expense of the Government,
and the essence of whose being consists in his keeping
what our cousins call *-a stiff upper lip.'
It will be observed that the members of all these
bodies start with an equal capital, or rather want of
capital. The goods with which the gentleman of the
second-stage opens his store are other people's; the
fine clothes of the aristocrat and his hotel bill are only
matters of hope or despair, as the case may be, for the
creditor. Success in the profession depends on the
assurance and self-assertion of the individual; energy
is a quality easily exercised by the man who has
nothing to lose. Few rise upwards to eminence from
the lowest stage, for hard manual labour has certainly
a depressing influence on the ambitious instincts; but
many sink into the lowest depth from the middle and
upper stages, and when such a catastrophe happens,
it may always be set down to a temporary failure in
what should be the victim's first principle—cheek.
With the recollection of previous hard times before
me, I now determined that circumstances should daunt
me no longer; I would assert myself as a rustler, and ' RUSTLING.'
conquer if I could. So my first step was to invest in
some ' store-clothes' of the highest-toned description,
and most perfect Yankee cut, and to take up my
residence at a somewhat swell hotel. Here I found
for fellow-boarders a judge from Washington Territory
an Oregon statesman, a newspaper editor of the town,
a British Honourable who had come out to colonise
and lose his money, and several nondescripts, principally members of my new profejssion,. I found out.
To get on with Americans a man must be able to
talk, and to talk well. No people can catch others
with bunkum so readily as they, and none are themselves so easily caught by the same means. This is
why all sorts of bogus companies and schemes flourish
to such an extent over there, ft was something wonderful to hear the talking-matches launched by my
rivals against the judge and the ' Britisher.' I sat
and listened at first, and took many jottings by the
wayside to enable me to open out my own line of attack
when opportunity offered. I selected the newspaper
editor as the means for my personal advancement. I
should not be at war with my fellows then, and a
rustler should make no enemies if he can avoid it.
I rather liked our 'Honourable' boarder; and he
had deigned several times to question me as to the
upper country, and to ask my advice on minor points
connected with a trip he proposed making. I think
our newspaper editor liked him too, or rather would
0 194
have been well pleased to get some of his capital
invested in the ' Cosmopolitan' (the editor was of
course a rustler, though a prosperous one, himself).
One morning before breakfast the Honourable and I
were taking our cocktail at the bar, and holding a
conversation on the general prospects of the country,
when we were joined by Mr. Amo. D. Como (so
Scriblerius styled himself).
' Swallowin' yer reg'lar pison I perceive, gentlemen?
I reckon a cocktail's a institooshin not properly appreciated in the old country, Mister,' he added, turning
to my companion.
' Aw well, no; I'm sorwy to confess the infewiowity
of Bwitish ideas in that wespect, sir. When I go home
again, I intend to take a hogshead of 'em " all weady
fixed up " as you'd say, ha, ha!'
' Yes, I s'pose we're some few degrees ahead of the
folks to home in mos' things,' I chimed in. ' Look at
our newspapers alone, now; why they're near ten times
as many as in Great Britain; that shows how much
better they are, else people wouldn' read 'em, an' the
proprietors (like our frien' here) wouldn' live.'
' Yaas; but the Times, you know,' deprecated the
' The Times,' sneered Mr. Como; ' waal, my ambishin
has bin this long while to start a little consarn in that
great metrop'lis of yourn, jist a purpose to chaw up
that old one-hoss vehicle of antiquated corrupshin you
call the Times! I guess if I got a fair start they'd
soon hev to sell their laast printin' press to pay their
washin' bill; I'd plaaster 'em with the righteous mud
of indignashin that thick!'
The Britisher collapsed at this outbreak, which
I vehemently applauded, and so earned the immediate
friendship of Mr. Como.
' This yer is a promisin' country, sir,' he remarked
to me.
' It is, it needs only the aid of journalism to publish
its resources and develop 'em,' I said.
' You've travelled over it some, I s'pose ?'
' I know 'most every inch of it.'
' And what air your gen'ral impreshins consarnin'
it' (on the look out for food for a fresh article on
' Our Besources Internal and Otherwise,' I thought) ?
' They're too long to tell 'fore breakfast, Mr. Editor,
but I have no objeckshin to contribute a small series of
papers to your valu'ble journal if you like. I des'say we
can arrange terms.'
' Quite right, stranger, that's a bargin! Don't you
sell yer stock for nothin'. I've rustled upwards from a
picayune printin' office down to New Orleens, an' I've
done it by never givin' nothin' for nothin' ('cept bad
advice p'raps); you'U favour me, sir, by steppin' over to
the office aafter a while me'bbe, an' we'll set out our
This was the chance I wanted.  Dreams of the magic
o 2 196
EI! i
letters M. L> A. (Member of the Legislative Assembly,
I may inform the uninitiated) appended to my name,
when my beard had grown a little, capital stock in
mining companies, and other happy tricks of fortune,
passed before my mental vision in pleasant array. The
Editor and. I took breakfast, and had considerable
conversation over that pleasant meal; during which I
listened to his history, which he narrated with the native pride of an American, who had risen in the world.
I wanted him to do this for my own purposes, so that I
could be ready when his turn for questioning me came,
as it soon did.
' An' now, sir, I've told you my story, let me aask
where you were raised.'
'■Well, sir, I was raised down East, but I've travelled
some,, an' ain't got any wooden nutmegs left about me.'
I- didn't say how far East " I was raised," for a betrayal
of British origin would have ruined my connection at
'Ah, down, to Bostin I s'pose; waal, there's smart men
comes from them parts, though I'm a Marylander
myself, an' don't quite cotton to New England folks as
a rule. The fact is, yer see, they rid me on a rail once
out that way for abusin' Wendell Phillips.'
After breakfast we walked over to the ' Office,' and
entered the Editor's sanctum.
' An' what is your perlitical platform, mister ?' my
friend asked. ♦RUSTLING.'
' To say the truth, I ain't got any in this settlement
to speak of.'
' A good thing too. You shall read a few back numbers, an' you'll soon find what we advocate. Never you
mind the " Slasher " across the road. I ain't got no prejudice, but that Editor's a most uncompromising
scoundrel; I guess I'll have to cowhide him pretty
soon. But what's your idees about this war, back in
the East; I don't mind .tellin' you I'm right down
Secesh, so I s'pOse we shaan't agree there ? '
' You're wrong for once, sir, my sentiments goes entirely with the South. I've seen enough of them cursed
Abolitionists. My father was English in his young
. days, an' a purty game that West India 'mancipation
was1 for him!' All this was true enough, and I got up
and held out my hand to Mr. Como, which he grasped
' Waal now, fust principles bein' satisfactory, I guess
we can hitch together well enough. You'll jest write
me out a good screamer 'bout the Cariboo country, an'
let them cussed fools up to New Westminster have it
hot, will yer ? I'd take a dozen Injins straight out of
the rancherie, an' make a better government out of
'em than they've got up thar.'
I returned to the hotel and penned what I thought
might justly be deemed a ' screamer,' suggesting kat
once the formation of a company to promote the use of
steam machinery in the mines; by which I hoped our 198
claim on Jack of Clubs would benefit, and bullying the
New Westminster folk right and left.
Como liked the suggestion of the company well, and
said at once, ' Ah, we must have a good pull together
at that affair, my friend; but I say, you New England
gents are too polished in your langwidge. See here,'
showing me an article full of such complimentary
epithets as one too often sees reported in the political
proceedings at Washington, ' this is the current style of
writin' about here. Jes' you touch that production up
a little.'
I did, inserting sufficient virulent abuse to gain me
a good thrashing I expected, if my identity were discovered ; and Como was well pleased this time. My
article appeared next morning, and received considerable attention, and I went on with a series of a similar
Soon I was hunted up by a number of merchants and
speculators with reference to the ' Cariboo Steam
Machinery Company,' and had my name placed upon
the direction list; receiving a considerable honorarium
in the shape of paid-up shares for my exertions as a
promoter. I halved the shares with Como for his
assistance in placing me on the first step of what I
fondly hoped was the ladder to fortune.
I thus passed the winter in high feather, expecting
shortly that Como would ask me to join him in partnership.    As the spring came round, the share list of the ^RUSTLING.'
new scheme was well filled, a large number of steam-
engines were imported from San Francisco, and constructed on the spot; and arrangements were made
to get them forward to the mines. That was where the
shoe pinched, however ; the idea was a good one, like
thousands of others; but we hadn't taken enough
account of the difficulties in the way. First, the
Government of the other colony mulcted us in almost
prohibitive duties—short-sighted souls — then the
steamboat owners swindled us; the spring was a late
one, and the roads, only made the preceding summer,
were blocked in many places by the floods acting on
the weak spots passed over by careless Government
In fact, when at last our lumbering cargoes reached
the mines, it was too late in the season for them to be
of the service intended; and the charges we were
obliged to make for the use of the engines were too
great for the miners to bear. So we had to sell them
at a sacrifice, and the company collapsed. I had used
interest to get one placed at our claim on Jack of
Clubs, but as no other claim there could afford to have
one it was of no use alone ; and my partners were
corhpelled to-go through another season of hard labour
with no result.
I had stayed below for that year, paying friend Pat
to represent my place in the claim, and was sadly disappointed when he came down in the autumn with the 200
information that they had been compelled to desert
the expected seat of wealth, and had given it up as a
bad job.
Como had got very 'riled' over the failure of the
company, for it had enabled the opposition ' Slasher'
to get the best of him ; so he visited his spleen upon
me, and discontinued his patronage of my services.
The circle at the hotel had broken up; the judge and
the statesman had returned to their vocations, the
' Britisher' had gone off on a cattle-buying expedition,
in which he was grossly swindled, I learned, by his
partner, and returned home afterwards with very
unfavourable impressions of our Yankee cousins—let
us hope he found consolation in his hogshead of cocktails—and I had to seek again a fresh path of action.
This I found as ' clerk' in a dry goods store (at home
in England they call such a personage a counter-
jumper). The friend who introduced me to this
laughed at my scruples of incompetency.
' But,' I said to him, ' I know nothing at all about it!'
'What does that matter? He' (my proposed
employer) 'don't know nothin' about it either. He
made his money minin', and has taken it into his head
to set up a big store. He's jest married one o' them
English gals what was shipped out here, an' I guess
he'll be purty well occupied till you get warmed to
your work.'
I put a bold face on the matter accordingly, and on * RUSTLING.'
my applying for the vacant post was accepted. In a
few weeks' time, when my employer arrived home with
his bride, I was able to measure off yards of calico, and
sell ' notions' in a way that delighted him and surprised myself. But ill luck seemed to pursue me;
nothing stuck to my fingers. I passed through a series
of varied employments, till I found myself purser of
one of those river steamboats I had often travelled on
as a passenger, and which I had helped to unload when
boating in canoes with my old friend the captain and
his crew. From this post I was one day, to my great
delight, promoted to that of captain.
This Was the life of all that charmed me ; the privilege of command could not fail to be dear to the heart of
a youngster, who had by that time borne no mean share
of cuffing about the world; while the exciting sense of
constant danger suited my ardent temperament. I had
seen that nerve and coolness were the great qualities
required, and I flattered myself I possessed both.
Well I remember the sense of absolute power I used
to feel, as the old boat was almost held still, by some
specially ' bad place' in that terrible river—with its
furnaces roaring, and its frame quivering throughout,
till its decks warped and curled up and down under the
full power of its high-pressure machinery! How I
knew that one false or careless turn of the wheel would
seal the fate of all onboard, by letting the current gain
the mastery of us, and. dash us against the staring and 202
grimly-beckoning wall of rocks, past which the stream
rushed in maddened fury! At such a time, alone in
my little glass house, with teeth set, eyes fixed, and
chest expanded,' ignoring the unseen presence of my
fellow mortals below, I felt as if I were the last man
fighting a battle with nature, and gaining it. And
after this excitement came the pleasant relapse of
safety, when my place could be supplied by the mate
or a deck-hand, and I could enjoy the convivial society
of my passengers and guests, and take pleasure in
chatting gaily with the ladies, when I was fortunate
enough to have any on board. 'Tis strange how recklessness grows upon us in a short time, for custom
begets the power of doing or feeling anything, and
how, moreover, a dash of the comic element is apt to
be infused in us, at what would seem the most inopportune moments—as the man who is being married, or
waiting to be hanged, diverts his attention to the
trivial contemplation of the fabric of the minister's
garment, or the shape of the hangman's boots—the
eddy of absurdity running up beside the full downward-flowing stream of serious life.
I call to mind an instance in support of these two
well-defined propositions. One day we were heading
at a dangerous 'riffle,' and the river was swollen to
such an extent that everyone said we should never
get over the place. All steam was clapped on, and
the steam-gauge showed some unprecedented figures. 'RUSTLING.'
We got to the top of the 'riffle,' where the water
changed from rough to smooth, and there we stuck
sure enough, not able to advance an inch. After a
time I felt it was no use, unless something else could
be done by our engineer to get more steam. Then I
blew down my pipe to him to ask if nothing could be
' No, not a darn' thing !' he shouted up ; ' an' if we
don't get out o' this purty sudden, we shall all be
blown to ' (a very tropical latitude indeed).
But I determined to see for myself. Blowing down
another pipe to my trusty mate, I summoned him to
the pilot-house, and directed him to hold the boat's
head steady while I went below. Descending to the
lower deck I saw that indeed the engineer had done
his possible, except in one thing—there was the
safety valve at the back of the boilers ! Bound the
latter were clustered a group of stolid-looking Indians,
greasy and sleepy from the excessive heat. A sudden
thought struck me.
' Come,' I said, in his native tongue, to the heaviest
and most obtuse-looking of these gentry. He rose,
and came to me with an injured grunt.
'You like to be great chief, all the same as me,
steamboat chief? ' I asked.
' Yes, captain,'' he replied, his eyes dilating at a
glimpse I allowed him of a five-dollar gold piece.
' Then, very good you sit down on that little iron 204
thing. Very soon you all see steamboat go up quick.'
(I wasn't quite clear in my own mind whether it would
'go up' stream or into the air, but one or the other I
was determined on). 'I am great medicine man;
presently you all see I speak true.'
Mr. Indian mounted on his seat without another
word, and I placed the five-dollar piece in his hand,
telling him not to relinquish it; it was a talisman,
and the spell would be broken if he did. He sat there
clutching tightly his piece of money, with a look of
disdainful pride at his comrades, and such an appearance of majesty as a savage alone possesses. Thank
God, the boilers were new and sound, and stood the
strain! In two minutes we were over, and then I
ordered the fires to be almost drawn, and a large
quantity of the steam blown off. I made the Indian
earn his five-dollar piece by keeping his throne for a
long time though, after the danger was over.
He gained from that time the soubriquet of 'Safety-
valve Jack,' and I gained the full credit from the
Indians of being a very great medicine-man indeed.
After this my readers will probably think it lucky
for the sake of others I didn't hold my position of
steamboat captain long. Lucky or the reverse, the
episode made me a considerable favourite in steamboat circles for some time ; but my owners becoming
suddenly bankrupt, one fine morning as I left my cabin ' RUSTLING.'
to step on shore to get breakfast (we had tied up for
the night alongside the town wharf), I found my dear
old boat in the hands of the sheriff, and thus I was
cast adrift once more.
■MM 206
I It
' Well, bad luck sticks in a wonderful way to some
people; I thought I had a safe thing to make a
fortune at here,' I said aloud to myself, as I stepped
' That's so, you bet its rough!' a voice replied to me;
and turning round I saw my colleague, the engineer.
' Le'ss talk over this bis'ness some,' he continued.
'Naow, look here,' the man of steam commenced,
when we had seated ourselves together at breakfast at
a retired table in a neighbouring restaurant; ' our boss
has been a reg'lar tarnation aass in this affair. Pd a-
thort he'd bin a heap smarter man. Why didn't he
give you an' me the offis laast night, and we'd ha'
whipped the Occidental (the name of our boat) down
to Portland, with him aboard of her, an' ha' got clare
of all this ?'
' I suppose he didn't think that quite honest,' I
said, ' and anyhow, it's no use crying for spilt milk.
I suppose we've both lost a good bit in the way of
arrears of wages.    What do you propose to do ?
' Why this.    To-night we get Mr. Sheriff's man into MORE RUSTLING.
your cabin, an' make him blin' drunk ; he takes kindly
to pison; then we slip the lines, an' drop down stream
quietly; there's a clear run of two or three miles.
There's a good stock o' wood aboard, an' Pll have an
Injin or two ready to fire up. 'Soon as we get below
the town lights, we'll lock that unpleasant companion
of our'n up in the cabin, and get up the steam, an'
make straight to Paget Soun'. Then we'll get some
coal, an' pick up another man or two, an' run straight
down the coast to Columby Biver, an' up to Portland,
sell the boat there, pay ourselves what's due to us, and
send the rest back by our friend the dep'ty sheriff.
What d'yer say to that ? That's honest enough, ain't
it, if yer feel squeamish ?'
' But you know that our boat isn't fit for salt water,'
I urged; * the first bit of wind 'ud knock us all to
pieces in a minute. I don't know the coast a bit,
either; an' we havn't any charts or anything aboard.
Besides these people might find an ugly name for a
transaction of that sort.'
' Ah, I see, you ain't half the man I took yer to be
when you sot that fat Injin on the safety-valve. Ha !
ha! that was the rale grit! Well, if you're a-mind to
try it, we'll change places. I know the coast well
enough by this time. I don't care two cusses what
these yer Britishers 'ud say to the bisness—we'd be
out of their way pretty sudden, an' I call it a square
thing myself: I'm sick of this country anyway, an' so
you'd ought to be, I think.' VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
The proposition was a bold one, savouring slightly of
romantic novelty, and as such took my fancy a little.
It was not an absolutely dishonourable one either; but
was sufficiently characteristic of American ideas of
commercial integrity. A little calm reflection showed
me, however, that it wouldn't do, and so I told the
engineer. He went away grumbling, evidently disappointed at my want of spirit.
I am inclined to think he would have tried his plan
by himself, if he hadn't the same day met with a better
engagement than he had had before. So the steam-
boat community was saved a scandal.
I made the best terms I could with my late employer's creditors, and went down to Victoria again to
make a fresh start at something. ' Something' seemed
very loth to turn up though. I got a little employment on the newspapers now and then, but having lost
my friend Como I could not make much way at this,
and found the balance of expenditure versus income
running steadily against me.
One "night I was walking along the main street,
contemplatively smoking a cigar, and jingling in a
mechanical way in my trousers' pocket the last few
dollars that belonged to me; wondering where the
deuce any more were to come from, and feeling on very
bad terms with myself and the world generally for the
wasted years I had lately passed ; wnen I was saluted
by an acquaintance: MORE RUSTLING.
' Say I you sir-, ain't the side walk wide enough for you,
without treading on people's toes ? Hullo! Why, it's
you, is it ? Come and have a game of chess with me
at Oysterman's, will you ? '
I was glad to do anything, and went. When we got
inside the place, we saw in a smaller room some people
sitting down to play at loo, (unlimited of course) and
they immediately asked us to join them. I had
hitherto steadily evaded gambling, and at first refused;
but presently I thought to myself, ' What's the use of
these few dollars I've got left ? They'll keep me a day
or two, and then I shall infallibly be " broke." I may
as well be " broke " at once, if it's to be so ; and on the
other hand, I may win a good stake.'
I know this reasoning was wrong, and though the
impulse that seized me was lucky enough at the time,
my good fortune did me little good in the long run, as
the sequel will show. I soon lost down to my last
dollar, and then the luck took a sudden turn, and
pursued me. We played all night; and in the early
morning, when our party broke up, I rose from the
table with all my pockets weU stuffed with gold and
five-dollar bills.
My head ached, and I took a turn down by the
wharves in the harbour, to get the fumes of smoke and
drink blown away by the fresh morning sea-breeze.
The glorious sun was streaming forth his splendour
over the scene, tinting the snow-capped mountains to 210
the southward with rose and gold; and making my eyes
blink as if I had been an owh Bather shrinking from
the bright morning glare, with a kind of sensation
that I was somewhat out of place in it, I stretched myself
out on some sacks of grain to think over my strange
luck and how I should turn it to account; when I fell
fast asleep in, the act o£ vowing not to try fortune in
the same way again.,
I might have lain in this state for an hour or so,
when I became conscious.of some one being about me;
and as. my dormant faculties became more aroused, I
felt a hand inserted into one of my pockets. I jumped,
up immediately with-! a shout, and seized- the erring
hand, which I found to belong to a nigger drayman.
He dropped a handful, of notes and gold, and a good
deal- o£ the latter rolled, away through the chinks in the
planking into the water beneath*
I shouted for assistance, as my. adversary had drawn
a large bowie knife with his other hand, and I Was unarmed ; but unluckily at that moment no one was
within hail. The negro was a large powerful man; so
I had enough to do to keep him from having a chance
of using his knife, and we struggled about together
for two or three minutes, till we got to the edge of the
I thought he wanted to pitch me over into the
water, and didn't care very much if he did do so; for I
had now begun to think more of my life than of my trea- MORE RUSTLING.
sure, with that unpleasant-looking knife so clbse to
me. Besides I knew I had still another pocketful', if
Mr. Nigger got off with what he had dropped in the
soramble; and I could get back most of the gold
pieces that had rolled through the planking, by diving
for them.
Suddenly I bethought me of an ol*d ruse, and
shouted out to an imaginary individual behind the
negro, ' Come along, look sharp!' The result was
happy; my opponent's attention was diverted for an
instant, I let go my hold on him, and then gave him
a vigorous push. He tripped over the cross-piece
along the edge of the wharf, and fell into the water;
whilst I, unable to restrain myself either, shot head
first some distance over him. Coining to the surface,
I looked and saw the coloured gentleman (who couldn't
swim) holding on like grim death-to a pile,-with his
lips blue, and his face changed from its shiny eoal-like
black to a dead black-lead looking colour.
He glared at me with horrible hatred, expecting
that I should turn the tables-on himdn the other element we found ourselves in.. I certainly felt? strongly
tempted to force the brute to leave his- hold on the
pile and sink; and I can remember spying on the
.shore under the piles a sharp piece of rock, with which
I might have struck his hands till he let go ; but I
overcame the temptation, and swimming close up to
him, said :—
p 2 212
' Hold tight, Cuffey! I'll send a friend to help you
round to Mr. 's (the police magistrate's) hotel in a
I scrambled up some steps, and ran round to the
scene of our struggle, where I found the remains of
the spoil all right. I took a parting glance over the
edge at the negro, who swore at me considerably; and
walked up into the street, where I found one or two
people beginning to open their stores. When I told
my story, two or three of these rushed to a boat, and
pulled round to the nigger, who was all but dead with
fear and cold. He was a well-known bad character,
and subsequently met with the attentions he deserved
at the hands of the law, in the shape of ten years in
the chain-gang.
After a sleep round the clock, I went at about the
same early hour the next morning to the wharf; and
taking a boat underneath the piles, stripped myself
and dived for the escaped gold pieces, of which I got
thirty or forty. I then counted up the total of my
winnings, and found it amounted to some fifteen hundred dollars, which I changed into paper money and
carefully stowed into my belt this time.
I hadn't decided on any plan yet, and was sitting in
the sun to get warm after my plunges; for it being
early spring, the water was cold; when an old acquaintance, a runaway midshipman named Walton, came up
to me, and by his conversation brought me to an unexpected decision. MORE RUSTLING.
' Looking at that schooner, eh ! Dick ? Pretty little
thing, ain't she ?' he said.
' Very.    Who does she belong to ?' I asked.
' Well she's for sale—and don't I just wish I had
enough money to buy her, that's all! I'd soon make a
fortune among those red-skins. She's about thirty
tons, and I'd stow enough whiskey aboard to buy all
the skins 'twixt here and Sitka.'
' Yes, and get her forfeited with all your plunder to
the Government when you got back, you flat. Do you
know what they want for her ?'
' About two thousand dollars I think, but I've only
got one, worse luck; and there's no chance of borrowing any these times.'
' Well now, look here ; you're a sailor, and I shan't
be quite a green hand. Suppose I find the other
thousand dollars, and we buy her and start off on a
trading trip together.    What do you say ?'
' By Jove, it's just the chance I've been praying for!
Done with you!' Walton said ; and we at once went to
make the necessary enquiries, inspected the little vessel
arid found her perfect in all things, and before the day
was out we were her joint owners.
The next thing was the cargo; that we readily got
on credit as owners, and we spent two or three days in
running round the town hunting up the articles we
wanted, such as Manchester prints, flour, blankets,
molasses, boots and shoes, and other staples in favour 214
with the Indians. I set my face against whiskey, for
although three times as great a profit was to be derived
from it, the risk was too great, putting moral considerations on one side.
Still, the honest trader who does not traffic in whiskey
is at a great disadvantage, for the rascals who do sell it
get all the finest skins and furs, and pay only about a
third of the price for them. Walton warmly urged
this, but finding I was obdurate, he agreed that we
should only take enough for our own use.
We had now to complete our crew. Walton, of
course, was to be captain, while the trading functions,
were to be turned over to me. We hired another
hand, a stalwart old tar, and sent a messenger across the
Sound to the Saw Mills for Pat, who would be invaluable as cook and man-of-all-work. Of course, we should
all have to work; though there was little necessity to
divide us into watches, as the trading craft in those
parts usuaUy anchor at night; the navigation in the
gulf, and among the neighbouring islands, being intricate and dangerous.
Pat came over next day, highly delighted at his
change of occupation, and to be once more in my company ; for he had been much attached to me since I had
saved his life. We all worked hard the next day or
two getting the cargo on board, and after that was done
we got.our clearance made out, and prepared to start
for a six months' cruise amongst the savages. MORE RUSTLING.
I felt extremely happy with the prospect of ^what I
looked forward to as a six months' pleasure trip, and as
proud as a peacock at being suddenly transformed into
the owner of a vessel, however limited its size. We
all spent the last evening at the theatre together, where
I remember the late Mr. Charles Kean played that
night, and brought people in some cases for hundreds
of miles to see him.
With a light breeze we started off the following
morning, bidding adieu to our feHow whites for a long
time. Fort Bupert was our first stopping-place, some
two hundred miles to the northward ; and after dodging
and waiting for the currents and tides among the
islands for three or four days, we anchored off the Indian
Walton and I Went ashore to inspect the stock of
skins in the possession of the natives, and inform them
of what we had on board. The red-skins rather turned
• up their noses when they found that whiskey was not
one of our commodities, and Walton said, ' Ah, I told
you so, we shall only get a few mangy old rabbit-skins
at this rate.'
However, by trying another tack, and inflaming the
minds of the squaws with the idea of the finery we had
for them on board, they sufficiently worked upon the
minds of their lords and masters to induce them to put
their wares into canoes, and come off to inspect our
stock. 216
An Indian market is something like a Dutch auction ;
.an inordinate price is put on everything at first, which
descends gradually till a reasonable bargain is struck.
The Indians are very keen bargainers, and very soon
know the exact value of things, as well as the storekeeper himself. We didn't, therefore, get on very well
with these Indians, who were too near civilisation and
knew too much; and moreover, for the same reason,
they were far greater rogues and thieves than their
more savage brethren. Depend upon it, all civilisation
does for an Indian is to develop the bad side of bis
nature ; poor Artemus Ward was quite right: ' Injins
is pison wherever foun';' but they are better au
naturel than any other way.
We went on to Bella Coola on the mainland, and
thence to Queen Charlotte's Island and Fort Simpson,
northwards still to Stickeen Biver, on the boundary between British Columbia and what was then Bussian
America, and continued our voyage far past Sitka to
the Aleutian Isles near Behring's Straits.
We were poachers in this part of the world, for the
Bussian Government allowed no foreign traders in their
waters save the monopolising Hudson's Bay Company;
but we didn't care much for the prohibition, as there
was only one Bussian man-of-war about, and she we
knew was comfortably docked at Petropolauski then.
This was the best field for our enterprise too, and we
didn't feel inclined to give it up for nothing. MORE RUSTLING.
We got a lot of very valuable skins here, such as
would gladden the eyes of a Bussian prince or English
dowager. Sea-otters, silver-grey foxes, and many other
valuable furs abounded; and though we met with
some difficulty in trading, owing to not being acquainted
with the numerous different tongues spoken by these
natives, who did not understand the Chinook jargon,
which is the medium of conversation with the Indians
from Stickeen Biver south to the Columbia, we
managed to get rid of most of our cargo, and had to fill
up with ballast for the return voy*age, which we intended
making outside the islands, taking the west coast of
Vancouver's Island (then almost terra vncognita) on
our way.
I found this kind of life frightfully monotonous
and wearisome after a little. There was at first the
excitement of constantly beholding new scenery, the
study of the different tribes we came across—most of
them differing considerably in minor particulars from
one another—and a certain sense of possible danger to
be encountered, which kept one from getting dull; but
after a time the tedium grew to be insufferable, for the
feeling of danger soon wore off from custom, and even
continued novelty becomes tiresome. I was never
better pleased than when we had got rid of everything
but a little stock we had reserved for our hitherto
untempted friends on the west coast of Vancouver's
We had already done capitally in a pecuniary sense;
and I hugged myself with the idea, that after we had
concluded the trip with our venture amongst these
untried savages, I should be sufficient of a capitalist to
reap the profits of future expeditions without being an
active participator in them.
The  reader  shall   hear what   these   anticipations
came to. 219
Leaving Queen Charlotte's Island, we made for a place
called Quatseemo, at the north of Vancouver's Island.
At this point we picked up a native to act as our interpreter on the west coast of the island. This Indian,
named Jack, proved of great service, and, wonderful to
relate, was faithful to us to the last.
I think this result was produced by our determination to adopt a different moral tone with him, to that
ordinarily practised with his brethren; in other words,
to make a merit of trusting him instead of constantly
showing suspicion. We found the experiment answer;
for it put the youngster on his mettle to prove that
our faith in him was not misplaced. I believe this
to be the only course to adopt with a savage; it acts on
his vanity to think that a white man will trust him at
all; and the sense of having one's particular vanity
gratified is the largest motive for gratitude in return
that is known to man. How we like the man or
woman who dexterously (or better still, unwittingly)
flatters us! Depend upon it, both Damon and Pythias
were first-rate flatterers, and each knew the other's
weak points, while ignoring his own. 220
At the next place where we stopped we found the
savages to be a miserable, under-sized, and villainous-
looking set of scoundrels. We traded but little with
them, and kept a very sharp look-out while they were
about, for fear of a surprise. At night we had now the
broad Pacific to sail away into, and we took care to
avail ourselves of the opportunity to keep clear of such
bad company as the people on shore.
The following day we reached a considerable village,
situated on the shore of a little natural harbour a few
miles westward from Esperanza Inlet. We traded
away the rest of our stock here, taking the precaution
to allow only one canoe at a time to come near us, and
prepared to start home' to Victoria—now only a few
days' sail away.
We had noticed the wind to be blowing strongly from
the north-west, a rather unusual circumstance at that
season of the year (the end of September), but the little
harbour was so surrounded by tree-clad hills that we
knew nothing of the extent of the gale that was blowing, till we came round a little headland, and-jn sight of
the bar and the open ocean. The tide was nearly out,
and from the appearance of things there could be but
little water over the bar; and we didn't know the
channel, if there were any indeed. We had of course
come in at high-water.
There was plenty of water in the harbour, and we
found good anchorage behind another little headlaDd
near its mouth. Here we were obliged to stay until
the tide should have risen sufficiently high for us to
pass over the bar safely; though the prospect outside
was so unpleasant that we should have been glad
enough to stop for the night at our anchorage, but for
the danger to be apprehended from the Indians, whose
village we were unpleasantly close to, now we had
shifted our position.
Walton kept a close watch on the shore, and once
or twice directed my attention to the unusual amount
of excitement among the savages. One old man, who
as Jack informed us was the tyhee or chief, was
haranguing a crowd of the men just at the skirts of
the village, and we could see by their gestures that
we were the subjects of attention. However, we
thought this naturally explained by the fact that we
were the first white men who had been there for years
probably, if any indeed had preceded us; and we saw that
none of the men carried arms about with them, so we
hardly anticipated mischief, though I felt a strong
presentiment myself that the sooner we were out of
the place the better.
Jack, when appealed to, corroborated this view, and
told us they were a bad lot on shore. Many, many
moons ago, he said, a little Bussian schooner, ' all the
same as ours,' had been wrecked close by, and this
tribe had murdered the crew, and eaten them. Jack
seemed in terror about his  own life,  and strongly 222
advised us to get away as soon as possible, even now if
we could. We knew his advice must be disinterested,
for an Indian doesn't much care to venture his skin at
sea in bad weather when he can avoid it.
We didn't like the cannibal story a bit, but it
looked like rushing on certain death to attempt to
cross that foaming bar then, and we cast about with a
glass for any spot where the smoother water might
indicate a channel. We thought we saw such a place
nearly close to the farther side of the entrance, but we
could not be sure without a closer inspection, and we
feared to separate our forces by sending any one away
in the little canoe we kept on board to survey the
place closely.* Under the circumstances, all we could
do was to watch the operations of the natives as long
as daylight helped us, and when night came on to
redouble our vigilance.
As twilight gathered in we saw still greater commotion on shore. The natives were hauling up their
canoes, and clearing out all superfluities in the shape
of matting, dried- fish, masts, &c. This might be only
on account of the bad weather, but the signs didn't
look pleasant. Poor Jack got in a dreadful fright
when he saw these preparations, and prayed us to
make for the bar at all hazards, as he was sure the
' Siwashes' meant to attack us in their canoes as soon
as night came on.
So impressed were we by all these things, that Pat AN UNPLEASANT ADVENTURE.
and I at once launched our little canoe, and paddled
off towards the patch of smooth water, keeping a keen
eye as we went on any movements going on behind us.
We found, as we expected, that there was a channel, but
it was narrow, and the turmoil of the waves outside was
so great that we could not be sure whether or no any
hidden rocks existed. On the whole our survey could
not be pronounced satisfactory, but we returned with
the confidence that at least a chance was open to us in
the event of things coming to a pass-
On reaching our little vessel again we made the
canoe fast to the stern, without hoisting her on deck.
Walton and I went below to examine our stock of
firearms, and to plan what should be done in an
emergency, leaving Pat on deck and report.
It was now nearly night. At midnight the tide would
be full we knew, for the tides in the west coast of the
island are notsubject to the same breaks and variations
as they are on the eastern side.
The first thing we did was to send Jemmy, the old
sailor, up on deck, with orders to cut out of the
bulwarks on each side a couple of loopholes, about
five or six inches square, and level with the deck. Our
bulwarks were only about two feet in height, so that
we meant, if we had' to open fire, to lie along the deck,
and fire through the loopholes. The Indians had
nothing but bows and arrows, and wooden spears, we
expected ; and thus even our slight bulwarks would be 224
an efficient protection, until the rascals were able to
board us.
Next we examined and loaded all our weapons. We
had two or three Hudson's Bay muskets, part of our
stock-in-trade; these we loaded with bullets and slugs;
and four good Colt's revolvers, one each for the white
fraternity, and the muskets for Jack to attend to. We
were doubtful about Jack now, for we hadn't put him
fully to the test yet. I brought him into the cabin.
The white tint of fear was plainly visible through his
native bronze, and his scared look communicated no
pleasant sensations to Walton and me; but he had the
courage of despair, I suppose, for he answered boldly
enough that the tribe ashore was not friendly with his
own, and would be sure to kill and eat him, and that
lie would fight all he knew how if he had to.
If the worst came to the worst, we had our little
cabin to retire into should the savages gain possession
of the deck, and if we could not get away through the
channel before that came to pass, we could pepper them
pretty nicely from that place of vantage, which communicated by a little door with the for'ard hatchway;
whence a favourable diversion might also be made.
We found some blue lights, too, which we relied upon
considerably to frighten our enemies away if they got
on deck, and we prefaced a charge upon them by
lighting one.
Walton and I agreed that if we saw them coming AN UNPLEASANT ADVENTURE.
near us in force, we should all get on deck and fire a
few shots among them before they got close.   If we
should hit one at a long range, it would probably
impress them with  a salutary fear of our unknown
resources. Everything was to be ready for immediate departure, and the cable cut, if they still persisted in their
attack.    The gale that was blowing outside was moderated to a gentle breeze in the harbour, sufficiently
favourable to  carry us to the  channel, though but
slowly.    In the mean  time we  hoped to keep our
assailants off during the few minutes it would take us
to reach our point of escape.
All doubt as to the intention of the wretches  on
shore was soon set at rest by an exclamation from Pat.
' Below tharr bhoys ! the blaygairds are stirrin'; an'
there's no few of 'em nayther.    Com' an' look at 'en%
for the Lord's sake!'
Walton and I looked round and saw everything trim
below, buckled on our six-shooters, put the muskets
close to the hatchway ready for use, and hurried on to
the deck.
We could see nothing much at first; but when our
eyes got accustomed to the deep twilight we saw dimly
a number of canoes full of men, moving off from the
shore at a distance of about half-a-mile. The canoes
were all large ones, and the encumbrances had been
removed to enable them to be moved along with greater
rapidity and ease.
Soon the two foremost got within a distance of two
or three hundred yards, and we told Jack to shout out
to them and ask what they wanted. No response came,
so we told him to say that if they did not turn back
we should fire on them.
This had no effect; they still kept steadily on. Then
Pat said to Walton—
' Will I shoot, Captain ?' (Pat was a crack shot with
a revolver.)
' Yes, curse 'em! Pick off that old scoundrel standing
np in the stern if you can; but don't fire too high ; we
can't waste shots.'
Pat rested his revolver on the edge of the bulwark
and fired. One of the Indians dropped his paddle and
fell down with a howl, shot through the arm, we supposed, for he immediately stood up again and brandished a spear or some other weapon with the other
arm. The two canoes stopped then, amidst much confusion and shouting, and the others came up alongside
of them. We again tried Jack's offices as spokesman, but
he^couldn't make himself heard for the din of voices.
We could see now that they numbered a hundred
and fifty or two hundred men, with about twenty canoes,
and by this time they were little over a hundred yards
away. They hesitated for some time, but they knew
nothing of the effect of firearms, and though they
were disconcerted by the slight check they had received,
the impression plainly was not strong enough to drive AN UNPLEASANT ADVENTURE.
them back. They knew, from having been on board,
that there were only five of us, including Jack, and
they trusted in their numbers.
They were evidently holding another council as to
the plan of attack, for the canoes were all close
together, and two or three men were holding forth to
the rest. Seeing that they remained quiet, Walton
sent Jemmy, Pat and Jack forward to heave the anchor,
and thus avoid the necessity of cutting the cable, while
I cut the line of a smaller anchor which had held our
stern. Sail was s^et in two or three minutes, and we
moved out slowly towards the break in the bar which
Pat and I had looked at.
Directly they saw us moving they paddled off sharply
towards the place of exit, and, as they travelled very
swiftly, were soon ahead of us ready to bar the passage.
Then they divided their force, and half the canoes got
on the port bow and half on the starboard, still keeping
a distance of about a hundred yards.
Walton and I were standing at the tiller discussing
what we could do to get out of the scrape with as little
bloodshed as possible, when whizz came two or three
arrows over our heads, one sticking in the mainsail.
There was no mistake about it now, they plainly meant
plunder and murder to boot.
' This'U get hot in a minute,' I said, ducking behind
the bulwark; ' sit in the hatchway, Walton, with the
tiller; don't stand there, for God's sake.'
q2 228
Walton followed my advice.   .
'Now, Dick,' said he, 'you do the best you can to
drive 'em off. I can't leave the tiller while there's a
chance of getting out; but I can manage to take a pop
at 'em now and then. Put some ^cartridges alongside
here, and then blaze away at 'em.'
Pat and I took the starboard side, stationing ourselves at the loopholes we had made ; and Jemmy and
the Indian took similar positions on the port side.
'Now boys,' I said, 'Jemmy and I will fire off our
six shots first, and get loaded again while Pat fires his,
and Jack shoots off the muskets ; and fire steady.' We
had already gathered a sufficient stock of ammunition
on deck.
I led off by taking aim at the point where the figures
looked thickest; for it was black night now. I heard
Jemmy's shot follow mine each time, and three or four
groans and yells, that made my blood turn cold,
assured us that we had not missed our mark every
time. Numerous arrows flew through the rigging, and
stuck in the sails, but could not touch us under cover.
Quickly reloading, we heard Pat commence to fire;
then there was a tremendous noise, and poor Jack's
musket blew to pieces; doing no harm luckily, beyond
splintering the bulwarks, and frightening Jack out of
his wits.
We heard the sound of paddles in all directions;
and could not tell at first whether the enemy were AN UNPLEASANT ADVENTURE.
coming upon us, or running away. To our relief it
proved to be the latter. They all joined again, and
stood off some quarter of a mile ahead.
We had time to think again. What was to be done ?
The night was so dark, it was madness to face that
channel through the bar, unless we were forced to try it.
The chances were more than even that we got aground,
and were knocked to pieces in a few minutes by
the tremendous surf running outside. So we resolved
to stand off and on, about where we were, in the hope
that the savages would take their lesson and draw
The excitement had been so great during the half
hour preceding, that we hadn't had time to get afraid
even; but when this pause came, I felt a cold perspiration trickling down my back, and rushing down into
the cabin for the whiskey bottle I found it was gone.
Ah ! that was the secret of it all, no doubt; one of the
prowling wretches had found it in the daytime, and
had stolen it unobserved; two or three of them had got
drunk on it, and inflamed the rest with the hope of
reaching the same blissful state.    ,
I quickly got another bottle, and we took a good
pull all round.
We knew what lengths Indians would go to get firewater ; and my discovery of the loss of the bottle made
us more uneasy than before, for it caused us to doubt
whether the wretches were finally repulsed, or were 230
merely coimting their losses and taking breath for a
fresh attack.
The latter surmise was the correct one. Soon we
heard the strokes of the paddles again, as they came
down upon us in a body, evidently bent on a coup de
main. We let them come quite close this time ; and
then all of us together in the bows (except Walton, who
still stuck to his post) blazed among them in rapid succession. Some of them must have' been wounded, and
one or two killed probably, for groans and splashes
arose on every side.
Then I heard two shots from Walton, fired at a canoe
which had left the rest and come round towards the
stern. I joined him immediately, and we succeeded in
driving all our assailants away from that quarter.
'We must run for it now and take the chances,
Dick,' he said; ' the Siwashes won't dare to follow us
outside, and they're bound to be too many for us here,
if they mean business, as they seem to.'
At this moment we heard the splash of a paddle
behind us, and ducked instinctively as three or four
arrows flew over us, and a heavy spear quivered through
the bulwark.
A scuffle was heard forward; they were attempting
to board us in the bows! I rushed below for a couple
of blue lights, lit one, and ran forward in time to see
Jemmy (who was a very powerful man) heave a couple
of Indians overboard, and then slash the hands of two AN UNPLEASANT ADVENTURE.
or three clinging to the bow-chains with his bowie
I had just fixed the blue light, when I heard a blow
dealt aj} some one else behind me ; and turning sharply
round, I saw Pat holding a hatchet over the dead body
of an Indian.
' That was a close shave for ye, misther Dick, an' no
mistake,' he said; ' that dead raskil had sneaked
aboard, and was jist on the p'int of dhrivin" his spear
into ye, whin I settled him!' So saying, he threw the
dead body overboard.
The sudden light altogether paralysed our adversaries, and gave us a moment's respite to reload, and
commit once more severe execution by its aid. It lit
the surface of the water a long way round, and showed
us the coveted smooth place in the water close ahead
of us. We hoisted our topsails to increase our steerage
way, and started a couple more of the lights, amid an
exclamation of wonder from the savages, who evidently
thought us under the protection of their-Great Spirit,
and were sore afraid.
Still a few of the bolder ones shot furtive arrows
amongst us, out of spite at seeing their prey escaping
them. We were nearly out into the open sea, and were
. making ready to furl the fore and mainsail, which we
could barely stand when we got outside into the full
force of the ga}e, from which we had hitherto been
sheltered? when poor Walton gave a fearful scream, 232
and fell down dead—shot through the heart by a stray
The helm swung round listlessly, and nearly knocked
me overboard. Before I could seize it there was a
stunning crash; we had struck, and the waves were
pouring over us, the spray dashing out the lights in an
instant. The others came rushing aft at the same
instant, and saw the full extent of our disaster.
Poor brave Walton! my long pent-up feelings gave
way at last, even under the dangers that surrounded
us. I could only think at the moment of him, who
had stuck to his post through it all, without the excitement of actual fighting to bear him up, and he was
the only one who had suffered ! I cried bike a woman
over his body, as I thought of his mother and sisters
at home, of whom we had often conversed round that
little cabin fire, and shuddered as I thought of how I
should break it to them. At this point of my thoughts
I was roused. How should I break it to them, indeed !
Who would break the news of all our deaths to friends
at home, for what hope was there of any of us ? Who,
indeed, would ever know of it ? After the lapse of
many months, people would begin to wonder what had
become of us; they would hear of our leaving
Quatseemo, and that would be the last of it; they,
would give us up for lost, and there it would all end;
no one would think of exploring that savage coast for
' Here was the climax indeed; there seemed but
little hope for us now. There was no immediate fear
of the Indians; they dare hardly venture near where
we were again, till daylight showed us to them, and
the storm abated; but long ere daylight would come,
our little vessel would be dashed into a thousand pieces
' Well, Cap'n, (I calls you Cap'n now poor Mr. Walton's
gone) I don't see as we can do anything but stay
where we are, and hope for the gale to go down;
though a nor'-wester don't often do that in a hurry in
these parts, but it mAght shift a bit and blow off the
land more, an' then we can get into the little canoe,
and paddle off down the coast.'
Talking was difficult; we were all jammed together
in the hatchway to save ourselves from being washed
or thrown overboard, as every wave lifted and bumped
us on to the shoal.
' Do you think we can last it out till morning as the
wind is ?' I asked.
'We might, perhaps, for the old boat's mighty
strong; but then we shall have them darned skunks
around agin. We must get away as soon as ever we
see a chance; but that canoe wouldn't live a minute
The canoe was floating all right under our lee,
bobbing up and down Uke a cork, while we lay on our
beam end almost.    We managed with great trouble to 234
get together some biscuits, a few bottles of brandy,
and other provisions, and some blankets, ready to ship
into the canoe; we also found some more paddles
below, and I stowed some lucifer matches in an oilskin
covering in my belt. Then each of us secured his
stock of money and valuables about him, and buckled
on his revolver, and we stood together ready to get
into our frail little canoe if an opportunity should
offer, trembling meanwhile lest we should go to pieces
In about an hour, as Jemmy had hoped, the wind
lulled, and then blew afresh froin off the.shore. We
ceased to bump violently on the sands now, and I even
began to have hopes that we might get off altogether
when the tide had risen to the full, as the hull did not
seem much injured, not more than a foot of water
having got into the hold.
I found another blue light, and lit it to examine
our position more closely. Then I saw all hope of
saving the vessel was gone. Far out beyond us the
breakers extended; we had drifted completely out of
the channel, and without the aid of a tug at high
water we should not be able to move. But there was
evidently a smaller channel branching off close beside
us, running close round the edge of the western entrance, by which We might get off in the canoe.
We waited a couple of hours longer, when the sea
had abated considerably; and hauling in the canoe, we AN UNPLEASANT ADVENTURE.
placed poor Walton's body in her, and the few necessaries we had accumulated, and embarked; keeping
along the little channel past the headland at the entrance. We had heard nothing of the Indians for
a long time, and concluded they had gone back to
their village. The land sheltered us completely when
we had passed this point, though it was blowing great
guns a little way out. Creeping along shore for five or
six miles we came to a tiny little bay, where we ran in,
drew up the canoe, and dragging forth our blankets,
fell asleep upon them on the shore thoroughly exhausted, and did not stir again till the sun told us
it must be midday.
We took a hasty meal and started again, anxious to
get farther away from the Indians; although they
would be little likely to pursue us, as they would
think we had all perished, when they examined the
wreck and found none on board. The weather had
brightened, and we paddled out at once into deep water,
and gave poor Walton a sailor's grave.
In eight or ten days we reached Victoria, thoroughly
worn out, and with a hard story to tell, and for me
the prospect of another winter to drag through; with
enough to Live upon comfortably, certainly, for the
schooner herself was insured, but with the unpleasant
recollection that a nice little fortune had come to grief
with her, and without the heart to make another venture of the same kind. .236
No incident worthy of mention occurred during the
winter, which Pat and I, having now become inseparable, passed together; and in the early spring we
determined to try our luck once more at the mines, as
a final effort, and, if it deserted us again, to leave the
Si 237
' No more Jack of Clubs, I s'pose, Pat?' I said, as we
once more stood on the deck of the steamer bearing us
towards the upper country for our final venture.
' Jack o' Clubs be d—rowned!' said he.
' So he would have been, no doubt, if he'd stayed on
that charming spot that was christened after him. But
I feel spiteful enough to wish him hanged-—a more
probable ending for him, I guess.' (Jack of Clubs, the
founder of the creek of that name, was a noted gambler.)
' An' where will we thry nixt ? Faith, it's the Wick-
low mountains.I'd like to prospect shortly!'
' Well, you'd better take some lessons in salting
first, and get up a company when you go back there,
' Bedad I would, if I thought I'd be able to catch
some of the Sassenachs in London—but I wouldn't
rob me poor counthrymen sure !'
Salting a claim is a well-known process in gold countries. The value of a claim for gold-bearing purposes is
ascertained by washing out a portion of the ' dirt' or 238
gravel in which the gold is expected to be contained, in
a large tin pan, about eighteen inches in diameter, and
four or five inches deep.    This pan is always carried
by the 'prospector,' who uses it for mixing his bread
in, and sundry other offices, as well as for its original
purpose.   The panful of dirt is taken to the water, and
by a peculiar shaking and shifting process the whole of
the dirt is washed away, except a small quantity of black
sand, composed of small fragments of iron, lead, and
other metallic substances, through which the gladdened
eye of the miner sometimes sees the yellow sparkle of
little pieces of gold.    Very frequently small rubies,
garnets, and other precious  stones are in this black
sand, as also platinum in minute quantities.  But when
the spot is likely, and the expectations of speculators
are fastened upon it, if the miner is a rascal he will
cheat the speculator into a purchase by introducing
dexterously some particles of gold into the ' prospect.'
He will carry them in his  mouth, and  drop them
quietly into the pan while stooping over it engaged in
the process of washing, or he will even hide them in
his finger-nails, and work them out into the dirt, or he
will sow the bottom of the hole with them over night.
These processes are called ' salting;' but they are all
clumsy ones after all, and it is only the very inexperienced who are to be thus caught.    I've heard of
something like it being successfully tried on in North
Wales, though, on one occasion. A BARE ESCAPE OR TWO.
Poor Pat got into sad trouble the first night at New
Westminster, on our way up* He left me to take an
evening stroll, and falling in with some old companions, he at the same time fell in with his old vice,
drink; and got thoroughly intoxicated. In this state,
trying to find his way back to our hotel, his course became erratic, and he stumbled against an Indian. The
Indian called him an insulting name, in Chinook, and
pushed him roughly, at which Pat's Milesian blood
being roused, he found his feet for a few minutes and
thrashed the copper-coloured gentleman heartily. The
Indian retired from the field, ana sought the services of
the solitary policeman the proud capital could boast of.
This personage, after a search of some hours, found Pat
extended comfortably on the side walk, and had the
bad grace to arouse him from his slumber, and march
him to the strong-house for the few remaining hours of
the night. I did not learn his fate till the next morn-
ing, when I was sent for, and attended at his worship's
court in time to be a witness of the following exposition of the wisdom of its satellite, the policeman.
The Court was crowded with dirty natives, and still
dirtier squaws and papooses, and the loafing appendages
of the town. Pat appeared in the small space reserved
as the dock, somewhat crestfallen, and the complainant
stood near with his face considerably mauled. Enquiring as to the state of the proceedings, I found Pat
had hired the services of an advocate, and had pleaded 240
drunkenness in mitigation of the assault; but the
Judge, notably prejudiced in favour of the Indians
against the whites, was inclined to be severe. The
policeman, who was in the witness-box, told his story,
and the Judge enquired of that functionary:—
' What did the man say when you arrested him ?'
' He said he was drunk.'
Judge. ' I want his precise words, just as he uttered
them.  He did not use the pronoun he, did he ?'
Witness. Oh! yes he did; he said he was drunk —
he acknowledged the corn!'
The Court (getting impatient at witness' stupidity).
' You don't understand me at all. I want the words as
he uttered them.    Did he say " I was drunk ? "'
Witness (zealously). ' Oh ! no,. your Honour; he
didn't say you was drunk. I wouldn't allow any man
to charge that upon you in my presence!'
A fledgeling attorney, occupying a seat in the court,
here desired to air his powers, and said, ' Pshaw! you
don't comprehend at all. His Honour means, Did
the prisoner say to you, " i" was drunk ? " '
Witness (reflectively). ' Waall, he might have said
you was drunk ; but I didn't hear him.'
Counsel for the Prisoner. ' What the Court desires
is to have you state the prisoner's own words, preserving
the precise form of pronoun he made use of in his
reply. Was it in the first person, 7; second person,
thou or you; or in the third person, he, she, or it? A  BARE ESCAPE OR TWO.
Now then, sir, (with severity) upon your oath, did not
my client say, " I was drunk " ?'
- Witness (getting riled): ' No, he didn't say you was
drunk neither; but if he had I reckon he wouldn't
have lied any, for I helped pack yer home from the
"Eureka Saloon" about an hour before.' (Guffaws
from the loafers). 'D'yer suppose the poor feller
charged the whole Court with being drunk ?'
The Judge was obliged to give way after this, and
let Pat off with a small fine, and we got aboard the
up-river steamboat at once.
After a toilsome foot journey we reached William's
Creek, the mining head-quarters, once more. We had
agreed that this being our last effort here, we would
try some entirely new ground, where no white men had
hitherto penetrated. With this intention we purchased
a stock of flour, bacon, and other provisions, to last us
about a month; took a pick, shovel, and prospecting-
pan, and shaped our course towards Bear Biver, our
loads weighing about a hundred pounds a-piece.
Though it was the end of May the snow had not
nearly disappeared, there being an average depth of
two or three feet left in the woods, through which our
route principally lay. This made travelling very
difficult, with the loads we carried on our backs. There
was no track to follow; we could only keep as close
as possible to the course of the river, which rushed
impetuously, swollen by the melting  snows, through
R 242
rugged canons in the mountains, or rolled along through
osier-covered swamps, where the beaver built its damsj
and thereby added to the marshy character of the soil.
In the very early morning, just after the sharp frost
that happened every night and rendered the surface of
the snow hard, was the only time that travelling was
tolerable. So soon as the sun gained any power the
surface of the snow softened, and at every few yards
down we went through the snow, over the trunk of
some fallen tree hidden from sight by the continuous
white sheet that met the eye. Then we had occasionally to climb the most impossible-looking places, where
I should shudder to go near now, and to go round the
backs and over the crests of high mountains, that came
down with a sheer unbroken face to the brink of the
torrent. Descending the sloping side of such a mountain one morning, I nearly came to grief.
Looking down from the summit, the whole seemed
a nice convenient slope at an angle of about 45°.
' Here's a chance,' I said, ' I'll slide down this. Come
along, Pat.' Pat didn't see it; but shouldered his
pack and plodded carefully down on foot. ' I'll have
breakfast ready at the bottom by the time you get
there, Pat,' I said, and laying back on my pack, I
allowed myself to slide smoothly down on the surface
of the snow at a great pace. About half-way down
I saw suddenly, breaking through the white space,
the top of an enormous spruce-tree about thirty yards
ahead! while the snow-covered tops of other trees
appeared sloping away beneath it, at about the same
angle as that at which I had been descending, looking'
quite like a continuation of the snowy slope at a short
distance. There was evidently a precipice of nearly
two hundred feet from the tops to the roots of those
nearest spruce-trees, and in a couple of seconds more
I should have dashed over it! Close ahead of me, a
little on the left, was a young fir. I had no time to
stop myself; but I managed to push myself in the
direction of this tree, and as I was passing, threw out
my arms and clenched hold of it. The- impetus I had,
aided by the weight of the pack, was so great that it
caused the young tree to bend nearly double, and I
feared it would break and then I was gone. As it was,
my arms were nearly- wrenched out of the sockets;
but the tree held firm, and I was safej with a revulsion
of feeling that made me as nervous as a baby. Carefully picking my way across, I espied Pat, who had
found a way farther round which avoided the sudden
break. I was so overcome, and shook so, that I
couldn't carry my pack any longer, so taking it off
I rolled it down ahead of me till we reached the bottom
safely, when I calmed my nerves with a good drink of
the miner's beverage, tea, which Pat prepared..
For several days we plodded on in this wise, making
but slow progress on account of the terrible roughness
of the country and the loads we had to carry.    We
were far away from the haunts of white men, and were
alone with Nature in its grand primeval beauty. The
river began to spread itself into a large stream, marked
in its course by piles of bleached drift-wood, in a valley
whose width was correspondingly increased. Natural
meadows extended for a few miles on either bank till
they met the sides of the mountain ridges, clothed
with huge fir and. spruce-trees sloping mistily upwards
in the purple distance, till the vegetation gradually
decreased in size and density, and ultimately became
lost in the regions of eternal snow, where naught disturbed the sameness of the great horizon of blinding
whiteness save a few jagged black peaks too steep for
the feathery substance to light upon; and far away to
the eastward, in the clear mountain air, could be seen
the stupendous and fantastic summits of the Bocky
Mountains; these were in the shapes of castles, needlepoints, men's faces, and every other curious conceivable
thing, and in a brilliant sunrise, or a glowing sunset,
the scene was utterly beyond words to describe, or the
artist's pencil to paint, in its immeasurable grandeur.
As the valley widened the air grew warmer, the
vegetation changed its character, and sterility gave
way to plenty. The climate was two months in advance
of that in the inhospitable region of Cariboo that we
had quitted. The snow had long since melted from
tile flats; trees, shrubs, and wild flowers bloomed in the
warm sun, while numberless berries of all kinds grew A BARE ESCAPE OR TWO.
on every bush. Game was abundant, and fish plentiful
in the rivers. At night we heard the cry of the moose>
the growl of the bear, and the scream of the coyote >
and in the daytime grouse and partridges whirred
across us at almost every step. It would have been a
summer paradise for the hunter, or the lover of wild
nature, had access to it been a less arduous task. Pat
and I lived like fighting-cocks on the game and fish
we killed with such rude weapons as an old revolver (of
Irish pattern apparently, for it shot round the corner
in the most unmistakable manner) and a little net
constructed out of the threads of a flour sack and bent
round a branch of willow.
But we had an eye. always on the main chance, and
tried our prospecting-pan in many a likely-looking
spot, though without success sufficient to induce us to
undertake the difficulty and expense of conveying
implements and provisions to the scene of action. One
morning, after tramping for four or five miles, we saw,
coming down from the mountain's side across the river
at a. place where the valley narrowed, a little creek,
the banks of which had a favourable appearance for our
enterprise, and we resolved to get over to it and endi
our pilgrimage farther east, as the general lay of the
country we were getting into, though beautiful to the
artistic eye, was not of the nature to cause rapture to a
miner in his industrial capacity.
It was a difficult matter to get across the river, to all VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
appearances, at the point we stood at. Some forest
fire years before had cleared off every stick of timber
for miles round, so there was no chance of making a
raft. About two miles above, at a narrow part of the
stream, where the river rushed past with frightful
velocity, we had observed a tall, slim sugar-pine which
had been spared from the fire, lying across from bank
to bank in the position in which it had been thrown by
some Indian a year or two before, judging from its
appearance, to effect a crossing; but it was so very thin!
like the longest scaffold pole one can imagine, and
none of the side branches were trimmed off. We dared
not venture to cross on it with our heavy loads, which,
with our own weight, would make it sway up and down
like a rope, and one false step, or a kick-against one of
those little side twigs, would have sent either of us to
inevitable destruction in the rushing torrent; so we
took our way farther down, in hope of finding more
trees to enable us to make a raft.
Fortune favoured us sooner than we expected, for in
a couple of miles we saw an island in the middle of the
stream, and a large pine-tree that had escaped the fire
from having stood quite alone, growing close to the
bank on our side. We speedily set to work with the
axe we carried, and by cuttirig the tree judiciously,
felled it so that the top portion of it fell across on
the island, and afforded us a comfortable bridge. The
channel on the other side was narrow, and about three A BARE ESCAPE OR TWO.
feet deep; so we managed to wade it, though the
strength of the stream nearly took us off our legs once
or twice. Arrived across we soon made our way back
to the little creek we had noticed from the opposite
side, and as night was drawing near we lit a fire and
cooked supper, after which we lit our pipes, and
spreading our blankets on some fir twigs we had chopped
off, lay down upon them with our feet to the fire, and
talked on our ordinary evening topics after the day's
labours were over—home, and the chances of reaching
it with a fortune. We meant to prospect the little
creek which ran close to us in the morning ; and if we
failed to find anything, to get back as soon as we could
and leave the country altogether to try our luck in
Mexico or Australia, or any other place circumstances
or our fancy might lead us to. After a little while we
crawled under our blankets, and fell into the sound sleep
that results from hard work and vigorous health.
About two hours after, as near as I could tell by the
height of the moon, Pat and I were simultaneously
aroused by a terrible growl close by, and, starting up,
I seized the axe which lay near to my hand, while Pat
drew out the old revolver from under the sack of flour
that composed his pillow. We could see nothing at
first for the glow of the fire, which still burnt brightly,
but we heard a long heavy tramp, and straining our
eyes we saw, when accustomed to the darkness, a huge
.oinnamon  bear prowling round and round us in an 248
almost perfect circle, preserving a distance of about
twenty yards. The animal (the most ferocious of its
tribe and rarely met with) had no doubt lately come
forth from his wintry torpor in some cave up the
mountain side, and scenting our cookery, perhaps a mile
or two away, with the wonderfully keen scent these
creatures possess, had been attracted to satisfy the ravenous appetite he would feel after his long abstinence.
We watched him for some minutes, thoroughly on
the qui vive, as the reader may suppose. He still
kept up his steady perambulation in the circle, with a
persistent and untiring slouch that was not pleasant to
look upon. How Pat and I both prayed for a rifle, as
we followed the steps of his ursine majesty with
wary eyes! Seeing at length that he approached no
nearer, we took a certain amount of confidence, and
discussed the plan of action we should adopt in case of
an attack.
In the first place, we knew well that he would
never come to very close quarters while the fire kept
burning, but there was not so much as a chip within a
hundred yards of where we were to make it up with;
and it must burn itself out within an hour or two at
most. It was plain from Bruin's pertinacity that he
meant to have something, either our stores or ourselves ; and the latter depended on the former, for we
must have starved before we got back if our provisions
were lost.    It was also certain, whichever object he A BARE ESCAPE OR TWO.
had in view, (perhaps he hadn't decided which for
himself yet) he would make for it as soon as the fire
ceased to deter him. He might think better of it and
go away, but he didn't look like it. So a quiet escape
looking improbable, we had to discuss our fighting1
resources. The only weapons we possessed were the
old revolver of latitudinarian tendencies before-mentioned, the axe, and a pick. It would never do to
provoke our enemy by a chance shot, which probably
would take no effect, save to wound him, and make
him overcome his repugnance to the fire even. We
must wait the attack, and not fire till we could make
sure of hitting a vital spot. Carefully I took the
venerable engine of destruction in hand, and greased
its gear with some bacon fat, looked to the loading,
and made sure that it would act; for if it played us a
trick, as it ofttimes had done, there was a good chance
of the life of one of us being forfeited.
Then there were strategical advantages to be looked
to. Immediately behind us was a little bank about
three feet high, almost encircling us in a horse-shoe
form, under the shelter of which we had lain to keep
the wind from us. That might be a place of vantage
in case of a scrimmage. I proposed at first a bold
plan of action, for one of us to run pretty close up to
Mr. Bear, and shy a firebrand in his face; rushing
back to the shelter of the fire before he could turn.
This might frighten him off altogether, if the  shot 250
with the firebrand were a lucky one, and hit him in
the face; and we could then hastily gather up some
more firewood, and make a big blaze to keep him off
till daylight, when he would probably retire altogether.
On the other hand it might drive him into uncontrollable rage, with ourselves less ready to meet his
attack than if we waited patiently for him. But Pat's
head, in spite of his nationality, was cooler than mine.
'I have it, jewel!' he exclaimed; 'I'll stand jist
here, an' wait fur me gintleman with the ould pepperbox. Whin he gits tin yards off, I'll plug him, and
jump on to the bank besyde ye. Ye'U be standin'
there, wid the axe riddy to bring on to his head, av
I don't hit him right, an' he springs up afther me.
I'll have a sicond thin to give this ould baste (the
revolver) a fresh turn, an' take another crack at him.
That ought to settle him, shure!'
I fully concurred with Pat, substituting the pick (a
heavier weapon, and less likely to turn off) for the axe,
and we sat down by the fire calmly awaiting what
should happen, but in a state of considerable trepidation
I must confess. Mr. Bear didn't go away—not a bit
of it. As the fire waxed lower the radius of his circle
gradually became less, till, as the last flash of flame
leaped out of the fire, he was but a dozen yards away.
We followed him round in a smaUer circle, keeping
the hot embers between him and us. At length he
stopped in his shambling gait, stood up on his hind A BARE ESCAPE OR TWO.
legs, and took a couple of steps towards where we
were standing.
'Beady, Pat?' I shouted, and sprang on to the
little bank, with pick uplifted, ready to dash into
Bruin's skull.
' Yis, me bhoy, here goes!' and at the same moment
Pat fired straight at the bear's chest, and jumped
nimbly on to the bank beside me, cocking his revolver
ready for another shot.
The bear staggered an instant, for he was wounded
almost mortally; and then, with a snort of rage, he
rushed at Pat. I struck full at his skull with the
pick, but owing to my having to hit sideways at him,
it failed to penetrate his brain; it went through his
cheek, and sunk deeply into his breast. The second
shot from Pat, however, fired at the same instant, did
for the monster; it went clean through his heart; he
fell down stone dead, and rolled over close to the ashes
of the fire.
With a sense of intense relief we looked on our
prostrate enemy, and then hastened to gather fuel for
a large fire, determined to have no more nocturnal
scares, in case the dead bear's mate should come to
look for her lord. We soon made an immense blaze,
coiled ourselves up once more in our blankets, and
after our excitement, and the wakeful hours we had
spent, slept like dead men, till the sun was high in the
heavens in the morning. 252
Our first business next day was to take the skin from
the bear, to carry back to William's Creek as a trophy.
Then we dug a little hole, cut Bruin's paws off, and
rolled them round in clay, put them in the hole, and
piled a fire on the top, so as to have them cooked in
the Indian fashion ready for dinner. There is no
dainty in the world to come up to the paws of a young
bear cooked in this fashion.
We then set to work manfully on the banks and
bars of the little creek for some hours, but failed to find
anything, and returned to our dinner dispirited. The
comforting influence of that meal, and a subsequent
pipe, however, once more put us in a proper frame of
mind, and we went about two miles farther up towards
the source of the creek for a final attempt. Here the
ground was shallower, the bed-rock occasionally cropping out close to the surface. When we had cleared
away the surface rubbish in an inviting, spot, we quickly
worked down to the rock, and Pat took a panful of the
dirt lying next it to the water, and washed it out.
Before he had half done, he shouted out for me.
' Come here, Dick, for the Lord's sake!' THE LAST CHANCE.
I dropped my pick, wiped my forehead, and scramr-
bled over the rocks and trees to him.
There Pat sat on the ground, with the pan between
his legs, looking at it and grinning like an idiot.
' Well, what's up now, another bear ?' I said, looking round and puffing hard after my rough scamper.
' Bear be hanged, honey! something betther nor
that, sure I What the divil's that, d'ye think ?' poking
his finger into the dirt left in the pan. ' Ou, Bridget!
shure ye'll be a lady now! Pathrick, ye're a gintleman for life!' and he sprang up and danced a wild and
heathenish dance, completing it by bringing his hand
down on my head with a tremendous smack that nearly
stunned me.
Not dreaming of what was really the case, and
thinking Pat had certainly gone mad, I got rather
savage, and spoke to him in language less polite than
forcible. ,
' Och, ye fule! jist look in the pan, will ye!' was
all he deigned to reply.
' What! you don't mean to say we've struck it at
last, and in this place ?' I said, getting excited myself,
though hardly crediting the possibility of luck.
I looked into the half-washed pan of dirt and saw
nothing but dirt. Pat still kept capering round me,
till at last he sat down out of breath and collected.
' Stirr it round wid yer fingers, man!'
I did, and turned over a number of large pebbles. VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
A moment after, I saw a yellow glitter through the
mass; the corner of a little nugget the size of a walnut!
Now I was as excited as Pat. I couldn't do anything, but threw myself down on the ground and closed
my eyes; the rush of delight was almost too much for
me. Then I got up and rushed to the water again
with the pan, washed it out clean, and found at
the bottom the little nugget, and several other very
small pieces.
How we gloried over our new-foimd treasure! We
sat down and looked at it, filled with ecstatic visions for
many minutes, neither of us saying a word. Suddenly
an unhappy thought struck me, and I jumped up:—
' But this may be only a little pocket in the rock,
Pat, and we may get little or nothing else. Bemember
we've been sold before many a time.'
' I'd be afraid of that too, 'gin we only had the big
lump, but look at thim little darlints' (pointing to
the small pieces) ; ' they look the rale thing!'
We worked away again, clearing a larger space, refilled the pan from a place some yards away, and carefully washed it out. There was no large lump this
time, but plenty of little pieces, as big as millet seed,
round the rim of the pan. Some dozens of panfuls we
tried, with an average result that inade us feel sure we
had indeed struck the right spot at last.
We would waste no time we resolved, but get back
to William's Creek at once for tools and supplies; so THE LAST CHANCE.
we cut down a young fir, fashioned six large smooth
stakes out of it with the axe, measured off two hundred
feet apiece down the creek (the extent allowed for a
' discovery claim'), and drove the stakes deep into the
ground, writing our names with a pencil on their
smoothened surfaces. Then we went back to the side
of the main river, ate our supper, and went to bed happier than I have ever done in my life before or since.
All night it poured with rain, but it couldn't touch
us much, sheltered under the branches of a giant
spruce-tree, which shed the water bike an umbrella.
We heard the river roaring louder than ever as it rose
with the storm, but we heeded not the weather, or the
river, or where we. were—far away from the world—-or
aught else but our wondrous luck that night.
In the morning, when we arose, we found the river
had risen three feet on its banks in the night, and
there was the problem of recrossing before us. The
tree we had crossed to the island upon, some miles
lower down, would have been carried away by the
freshet; or if not, we could not now ford the channel
of the river between us and the island. A mile above
us an enormous bluff came sheer down to the water's
edge, while round this mountain came from another
direction a branch of the river nearly as wide as the
main stream where we now stood. Just at the foot of
the big mountain was the long thin tree we had seen
thrown  across the  stream.     This   seemed  our  only VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
chance, without we wandered down many miles farther,
and found trees growing near enough to the water to be
of use for a raft. Now in our new sense of prospective
wealth, the value, of our lives seemed to be increased
a thousand per cent, since the moment when we had
doubtfully glanced upon this very tree from the other
•side, and shunned it. Time, on the other hand, was important to us, and we did not want to lose three or four
days by going farther down the stream than we then
were; so we resolved to try the tree, of which we had observed the butt-end was fortunately lying on our side.
We cached, or hid in the Indian fashion, half our
provisions, and the tools which we should not want;
and then, making up our packs, (of much smaller
dimensions than before) we started for the crossing-
The spot looked terrible indeed when we reached it.
In the centre of the stream, where the tree, from its own
weight, was depressed for two or three feet, the water
was just rushing against it, and when the weight of a
man was placed upon this it would sink it some inches
lower. The stream was dashing on with fearful fury,
every now and then loosening from its banks large
rocks, which fell in with dull heavy splashes, just heard
above the roaring of the waters. All the loose driftwood had been carried down before the river had
reached its present height, or it would have dashed
against our frail bridge and broken it; but we were THE LAST CHANCE.
still uncertain that some huge tree, torn up with its
roots by the flood, might not come tumbling down,
carrying destruction before it.
The rapid above was about a mile long and quite
straight, so we could see far enough ahead to make
sure that no such accident as this would happen while
we were crossing. To give us a smaU chance of escape,
if we should miss our footing and fall over, we altered
the fashion of our packs, just fastening them across
our chests by a piece of cord, which could be immediately cut with a knife, that each held ready in his hand,
in case he felt unable to prevent his going over.. If
such a catastrophe happened to either of us, he would
then at least be free from his pack, and have a chance
of getting ashore. Pat's chance would certainly have
been a slim one, as he could not swim; but swimming
would have been but little use in that place after all;
it would simply be a question of whether the current
threw a man on shore or into some deep eddy, or pos->
sible whirlpool. In the first case, either of us might
manage to catch hold of something and scramble out;
in the second I should escape easily, but Pat would
not, as he would sink so soon as the current failed to
hold him up; and in the last, it was certain destruction
for either of us.
As we stood deliberating on the bank, not liking the
prospect a bit, Pat looked up the stream and exclaimed—
s 258
* Here comes somethin' that'll decoide us, anyhow!'
At the head of the rapid a huge mass of tangled
roots, timber, and branches made its appearance; every
few seconds it would catch against some projection, and
stick there for an instant or two, and then the current
would again bear it forward.
' I'm goin' to risk it, Dick,' Pat said, and giving a
sailor's hitch to his nether garments, clapping his old
hat tight on his head, and gripping his knife firmly,
he placed his foot on the end of the tree and walked
onward with steady steps, steering well clear of the
numerous little branches which cropped out of the
tree. Of course we would not both go on at once, so I
watched Pat till he got to the centre, where the water
now rushed half-way up his knee-boots. He wavered
a second, but I dared not speak to him. However, he
only paused an instant to steady himself, and then
went carefully on and reached the other bank in safety,
to my great delight.
Then came my essay. I too got along aU right
over the thicker part, till I reached the centre; but
when the water began to rush against my legs, and I
could not see plainly where to plant my foot for the
next step, it was anything but a pleasant sensation.
Like Pat, I stopped for a second or two, and braced
myself up. Glancing upwards, I saw the big tree
approaching very near, and knew I dare not stand still
another moment; so I started again; but just as I was THE LAST CHANCE.
getting over the worst part, and nearing the shore, I
caught my foot against one of those cursed twigs, and
as nearly as possible went over. My heart was in my
mouth then, but I regained my balance somehow. It
made me nervous though, and I felt I could not go
on steadily as before; so I made a sort of rush for it,
and got close to the bank, where I fell, half in the
water and half out, grasping tightly a twig on the bank.
Pat seized me by the shoulders at the same moment,
and dragged me clear of the raging current that had
nearly had me in its deadly embrace. A couple of
miriutes after down came the great mass of logs, roots
first, and with an awful crash broke our bridge into
We felt quite at home on the other side of the river,
and with our loads so much lightened, trudged back at
a much quicker rate than we had come, tiU after a few
days we again stood on William's Creek.
The first thing we did there was to register our
elaim with the Gold Commissioner, giving the nearest
description we could as to its locality, and paying
proudly the fee of five dollars with some of the gold
we had taken from it. Then we had to get a stock of
provisions for the season, and tools, such as picks,
shovels, axes, whip-saws, hand-saws, and nails. We did
not wish to make our party any larger at that time, as
two of us would be quite sufficient to work a claim
that required no deep-sinking; but we took care to let 260 VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
our   old partners on Jack of Clubs know of it as a
secret, and told them to come and take up ground as
soon as they  could alongside  of us.    We  urgently
desired that no strangers should hear of our discovery,
as they might come and seek to disturb us if they did
not meet with the same luck as ourselves.    How to get
all those tools and provisions on the spot and to pay for
them we did not know.    It was several days' journey,
and nearly as much as a man could do over that rough
country to carry enough to feed himself on the way
there and back, without taking the tools into account.
It was therefore evident we should require a small
pack-train, and to obtain' this boon we should have to
tempt some more than usually speculative merchant.
I tried several men I had known in the lower country
who had set up stores here; but they all declined the
venture.    At last I met a very decent sort of German
Jew, who had a store and a train of animals just in
from the lower country.    The sight of our gold (quite
different in appearance from any he had seen, for a
merchant or miner can at once tell what particular
creek in the neighbourhood 'dust' comes from) and
our accounts, excited him to a great pitch.
' Veil poysh,' said he, ' I guess I'm in mit you.'
' On what terms ?' I asked.
i I vinds de grub und de tools, und you givesh me
half shares, de bot' ov you.'
' Oh! that's played out,' we said ; ' that's rather too
much interest on the money.' THE LAST CHANCE.
' Veil, poysh, ye sees, it might pe all a schvindle, do'
if de bag-drain goes to dat blase, I don't see vot you're
to do mit de dingsh excebd ead 'em. Bot de oder day
I vosh had de vorst vay by a green yong Englishman as
I dought, mit de hair still growin' on his teeth. I
dells you.'
' He zees a pair ov green planket pantsh hangin' op
in de shtore; 'e vos all raggit as der teufel, aber eesh
bootsh vosh goot. I seed de bootsh, und I dought 'e
vosh on de shkvare. " Ow mosh vor de pantsh, mishter ?"
'e sayd. " Dwenty dollarsh," I says. 'E didn't zeem to
mind mosh, und dook 'em down from de nail; dehn 'e
says, " Gan I dry dem pantsh on behint dat pile ov
vlour, mishter ?" " Zaretainly," I says, und 'e dries 'em
on. Dey didn't vit 'im very veil, bot 'e didn't zeem to
mind mosh. 'E drew eesh ole rags outside, und 'e
valksh op to me. I deedn't like to zee 'im drow dem
ole dingsh avay, vor I dought, " Vare dehn is eesh cole-
dost ; 'e deedn't dake nodin' out ov de bockids."
' Ven 'e getsh to me 'e says, " My name'sh Peel
Shnooksh." I pows to 'im. " I vorksh in de Meadowsh
Claim; vill you pook dem pantsh to me till nexsht
veek after ve voshes op?" "No, I von't," I says. I
knew dey never voshes no gold op in dat claim, und
never vill. " Bot you mosht," he says. " Dake 'em off
direc'ly und gehen sie aus,"-1 says, for I vos kvite riled,
" I only teals foor cash mit stranchers." " Vy, you tarn
Chew," 'e vent on; " vould you dake de pantsh off a 262
man's legsh ? " und 'e valked out into de ztreet, mit my
coot green planket pantsh. I zhouts afder 'im; aber it
vosh no coot, 'e didn't zeem to mind mosh !'
The son of Israel was much carried away by emotion here, and nearly wept. When his feelings became
soothed by a drink, in which he invited us to share,
we proceeded again to our immediate business with
him, and came to an arrangement.
Ten animals out of his pack-train were to be retained,
and loaded with the provisions and tools, while the
rest were sent back down the country again. Pat,
Schwartz (the Jew), and myself, with only one extra
man, were to go with these ten animals to our destination. The arrangement was that Schwartz should
supply our cargo, in consideration of our taking up an
additional hundred feet for him besides our own, and
throwing it into one claim, paying the extra man to
represent Schwartz's interest ten dollars a day out of
the total proceeds.
We carefully avoided telling the extra man where
we were going to, lest he should get talkative at some
of the saloons overnight.
We had a festive evening together, and next morning packed the animals with every necessary, and a
few comparative luxuries, such as dried apples, &c,
which we thought ourselves qualified to enjoy now,
and drove them quietly down William's Creek, intending to reach Antler Creek,  the head waters of Bear THE LAST CHANGE.
Biver, by a different and less known route than that
ordinarily taken. We took this time a couple of good
rifles, which Schwartz got for us, and a sufficient supply
of ammunition.
Going down the creek (close by the Meadows
Claim, that name of sorrow to Schwartz) we turned off
to the right, through a broad pass in the mountains,
and readily got out of sight of all enquiring eyes.
The way across was very decent for the first day's
travel, at the end of which we came to a tremendous
canon where Grouse Creek falls into Antler Creek, or
Bear Biver. After this, for a couple of days, the travelling was something fearful; we only made about
twelve miles, and the poor animals were dreadfully used up even then. But when we came to the
more open country I have before described, we got on
famously, and soon reached a spot a couple of miles
above our creek, on the opposite side; and here, as
there were plenty of trees, we cut logs and made a
raft, pegging it together, and binding it with osier
The snow had all melted off in the upper country
during the time we had been absent, and the river had
come down to its ordinary summer level. We found
no difficulty in floating our empty raft, checked by a
tow-rope from the shore, down the rapid, till it reached
a point a little way above the creek. Here the water
was much more still, and we could, by the aid of some VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
poles we had cut, easily push the raft across after we
had loaded it.
We unpacked the animal's loads, and turned the
creatures off to feed on the rich natural grass; and in
two or three trips with the raft we got everything
across to the mouth of the little creek. Then we all
(including the merchant, who shouldered his hundred
pounds' weight like a man) aided in packing our stores
for two or three miles up the claim. This took us a
couple of days in all to accomplish, as we had to make
many journeys to and fro.
After this we cut down and fashioned some logs to
build a snug log-hut with, and got them up in three
days, when by preconcerted arrangement Schwartz and
I left Pat and the extra man to complete the cabin,
saw some boards for sluice-boxes, and bring a head of
water, from some distance above, on to the claim by
means of a ditch; while we drove back the horses to
William's Creek, where Schwartz also registered his
claim; I returning as soon as. possible alone to the
scene of wealth. Before we started we fully satisfied
Schwartz, and ourselves too, of the bona fides of our
When I got back I told our old particular friends on
Jack of Clubs where they might find us, and invited
them to come; and then I set off alone, with a bight
pack and my rifle, and on my return found the cabin
nicely finished, with the  water brought  on to  the THE LAST CHANCE.
claim, and running through a string of sluices, just
completed the day before, into which Pat and Jim,
the extra man, were shovelling from alternate sides.
They had certainly worked like tigers during the
fortnight I had been away.
No one appeared during the first three months, but
at the end of that time Schwartz and another man
turned up with four or five horses laden with more
provisions and a fresh supply of tools, for we had no
blacksmith's shop at which to sharpen our picks. We
had a pretty little heap of dust to place on the horses'
backs on the return journey, when Pat accompanied
Schwartz, and placed our treasure in safe custody in
the bank. ■
Several persons of enquiring mind got wind of this
second expedition, and shortly after Pat's return we
had an invasion of twenty or thirty men, at the head
of whom I recognised the man whom Schwartz had
last brought with him. They did not molest us, however, as there was plenty of room for all of us, but set
to work diligently, <and we were rather glad of their
company than otherwise. The little colony in the
wilderness looked quite lively with its six or seven
log-huts. The sound of the axe rang through the
woods; the voices of men cheered the solitude, and
the hitherto pellucid waters of the tiny mountain
stream were rendered muddy and turbid by the unknown uses  it had   been  put to in  disintegrating 266
the banks that had held in its course for countless
By the end of the season our claim was nearly
worked out, and we disposed of the remaining ground
at a moderate price to some of our old Jack of Clubs
friends, who had lately come over and been at work
close to us.
Our ground, the first picked upon, had by a chance
often met with in the precarious pursuit of mining,
turned out to be by far the richest spot on the creek;
and after clearing everything, we found ourselves'
the lucky possessors of a very considerable sum for
about five months' work. Schwartz made a better
investment with us than he did in the case of the
' creen blanket pantsh.'
Pat and I rode to the mouth of the Quesnelle, took
the.6teamer (lately constructed) thence to Soda Creek,
and travelled down from there in the stage (a luxury
also only recently started) like the great swells we were
by that time. It is needless to say that in Victoria, as in
other places, we were much more respected than we
had ever been previously, when folks knew that we had
something considerable to our account at the Bank.
Once more did the great Como air his rustling powers,
but without appreciable effect. One or two more
glowing articles on' Our Besources, Internal and Otherwise,' appeared, in which Pat and myself were gracefully alluded to as. * two of our leading and daring THE LAST CHANCE.
pioneers;' but they were soon stopped when it was
discovered by judicious pumping that we did not mean
to sow our newly-gotten riches in that country; and a
counterblast inveighing against the greedy ungratefulness of persons who made their money in the
country, and would not spend it there, was given forth
to an outraged public. 268
Pat turned out to be the wisest man I knew. Ambition
was no leading feature of his character, and he had
now enough to make him rich for life ; so, after ransacking the dry-goods stores for suitable apparel, and
getting a gorgeous gold chain and a diamond brooch-
pin, he took a first-cabin passage home; whence he
wrote to me a couple of years after (and the letter was
nine months reaching me), to say that he and Bridget
were the lucky possessors of a little freehold farm close
to his old home, where they were as happy and contented
as the day was long. He had no present inclination, he
hinted, to prospect the Wicklow mountains, but he hoped
that I'd shortly return home and settle down, when I
might attempt that feat if I wasn't tired of gold-hunting
yet; if I were, I might prospect his farm at any rate,
and sure I'd soon find the bed-rock of a welcome home
with him and ' darlint Bridget,' who sent her love to
the Sassenach, with a message that she'd regretfully
christened their boy with ' that haythenish Saxon name
Bichard,' for the sake of old associations.
For my own part, I was not content to go home and
settle down so soon.   I felt inflated with a sense of conclusion:
modest capital, and deemed it a natural certainty that
I could soon increase it to absolute wealth. Delusive
vision!—the run of luck did not last long.
I hunted up my old friend the captain, and found
that Fortune hadn't been very kind to him lately. It
was one of the happiest moments of my life to be able
to repay his kindness to myself by starting him on his
legs again.
I saw something of him for two or three years after
this, and his good and bad fortune varied as it does
with most men. The last time I heard of him he had
settled down in Salt Lake City, the part-owner of a
silver mine which he had the good fortune to discover in
Nevada, and one of Brigham Young's deacons. He says
his life is joyous and contented: he, too, has a farm,
and flocks and herds (whether of cattle or children, I
know not). Whiskey is scarce in the settlement, but
otherwise there is naught of bitter to tinge the sweets
of existence. There is no fighting to be done there;
he leaves all that to his wives. ' Will I come over the
Nevadas an' take a hand ?' Well, I may some day,
My first partner, who accompanied me to the country, I found still engaged in the whiskey business, and
prospering. He had no intention of leaving it while
there was no duty on alcohol, and thirsty souls
abounded at twelve and a half cents a time. The only
thing that could injure his prospects was the fact that
I 270
he had become sufficiently Mormonised to take unto
himself a 'spiritual' wife—at least so intimated in
plainest terms, by ibs excessive redness, the most prominent feature of the lady's frontispiece. If she had
been ' sealed over' as tight as LL whiskey and kept
so, it would have been well.
Most of my other old friends I came across, too, in
the course of that winter, which I spent very pleasantly;
and in the spring I started off with one of these for a
fresh series of wanderings in the new territories, the
old Ishmaelite leaven being still strong within me.
I close this little volume with our re-arrival at San
Francisco, Whence we intended journeying to Washoe,
the great silver-mining district.
Taking now a bird's-eye view of my own career
during the three or four years I spent in British
Columbia, and a side glance at the lives of others,
some less fortunate, and some more so, than myself—
and striking a balance of easy lives and hard lives,
good results and bad, in a pecuniary sense and otherwise—I find it a difficult matter to draw even my own
conclusions as to the advice that should be given to
any man who feels the impulse to shake the dust from
his feet, and try a new life. To the cool calculating
man, who hesitates before he takes the step, and well
considers his chances beforehand, advice is hardly
necessary ; he may be unlucky for a time, but he can
in the main be depended on not to let an opportunity CONCLUSION.
escape when it is presented to him. On the ardent
and sanguine-tempered youth, who reasons not on his
prospect, but simply acts straight upon his impulse,
letting to-morrow care for itself (be he scapegrace or
not), advice is thrown away, for he certainly will
not heed it; nothing but hard experience will teach
him the lessons of prudence and forethought. But
there is a middle type between these two, to whom
the general experience of others who have walked
before them over the ground they mean to try mav
possibly be useful.
Well then, referring to emigration in its most general sense, there are three words which will sufficiently
indicate the three classes of people to whom I address
: these few remarks. The three words are Brains, Money,
and Muscle.
The reader must not fancy that I have placed these
three words in the order in which the properties they
represent are to be appreciated from the point of view
we are taking. On the contrary, they should rather be
valued in the order in which Bassanio valued the three
caskets for his purpose—gold, silver, lead. As I will
presently show, the last of the three, having regard to
capital invested, gives the best return.
We cannot expect every man to be an Admirable
Crichton, and own a combination of all these three
desiderata (I don't remember, by the way, whether
Mr. Crichton had his pockets well lined or not); of 272
course the more of them that are centred in one man
the better for him. Such fortunate people, however,
can have no necessity to leave home; if they do so,
they are only to be regarded as pleasure-seekers or
eccentrics, and accordingly these triple-barrelled gentry
may be dropped out of the list.
Brains.—The possessor of this commodity, with
nothing to qualify it, is far better off in remaining where
he has a market for it; in polished and appreciative
communities, where he may have the sympathetic aid
of his fellows and of wealthy patrons. The problem of
life is simplified in new countries; man is brought
more directly in relation with mother earth, who supplies all our wants, than in old ones; the numerous
classes of middle-men that spring forth from the
luxurious habits and superabundant wealth of thickly-
populated districts, and flourish upon them, exist not
here; the only middle-men are traders and artisans,
and these have no aristocracy of birth, wealth, or position, for patrons; they are but the necessary servants
of the great producing element—the tillers of the
earth, and the delvers for its buried riches. But there
must yet be satellites to hang upon so simply framed a
society as this even, you will say ; there must be lawyers, doctors, parsons (I preserve the same ' casket'
order, reader, if you please). Yes, while flesh is weak,
there will always be need of a greater or lesser number
of these gentlemen everywhere; but when you hear CONCLUSION.
the old colonial cry of ' There is room for all,' bear in
mind that it applies to a colonist pure and simple, and
not to a satellite. There is room for any number of
the one sort, who only bring forth for their own benefit*
and that of their fellows, what would otherwise remain
unproductive on the surface of the earth, or hidden in
its bowels; but there is little room for the other, who
take their honey from the bees themselves, and not
from the limitless bounty of nature; they but impoverish the section of humanity they dwell with, and
do not enrich it. Therefore, be you lawyer, doctor, or
parson, if you have made up your mind to go to a new
country, be sure to get there among the first batch,
or your chance will be comparatively small.
.Money.—When I speak of a man with money, I
don't mean a Croesus;—he, as an American would
forcibly, if not elegantly, say, ' can do just as he darn
pleases' anywhere—but of a person who has a respectable sum at his disposal, hardly sufficient to keep him
in the position he would like to move in at home, but
enough to give him a fair start in a place where the
absence of excessive competition enables him to turn a
small capital to good account. Still less do I allude
to any one of my species who may happen to be in the
condition I have just pointed out, but to whom nature
has denied a fair share of brains. On the faith of the
old saying, 'That fools and their money are soon
parted,' such a one had better stick to his place of
T 274
birth, where he may be presumed to be better acquainted with, and able to detect, the arts in vogue
amongst those great Communists, thieves in general,
'than he would be in a strange land, where the first bait
held out to him which had the spice of novelty about
it would probably entrap him. I have in mind now
the average man of moderate means and enterprisei,
with the requisite ability to hold his own as a storekeeper or farmer, and with sufficient virility to turn
his hand to whatever should turn up, if through evil
fortune he should find himself reduced to a lower level
than he expected. To him I would say, if you are
content to risk the loss of the modest competence you
now enjoy, in the hope of becoming rich, emigrate by
all means ; the new worlds are before you; there your
capital will fructify rapidly, or as easily and swiftly
dissipate itself. But if it does the last you may soon
start afresh—that you cannot hope to do if ruin falls
upon yon here ; there your home comforts will be less,
but so also will be your cares; for there, though you may
meet with temporary failure and trouble, perseverance
and a stout heart will land you clear at last; and in
the knowledge of this you may be happy, and free
from the harassing fears that beset you now.
Muscle.—Now the man of sinews is essentially a
free agent anywhere in many respects;. he has no ties
of property to chain him to a particular spot, and he
carries his capital in a bank that can only be robbed CONCLUSION. 275
or fail from the common natural causes of sickness or
death. But in the old world there are many and
almost insuperable obstacles to his upward path in
life; society is overburdened with the numerical
strength of his class, and thus he dreads each one of
his fellows as a rival, and is tempted to use all means
to secure to himself, at the expense of his brethren,
the bare sustenance that alone he can hope to obtain;
as flies, thrown into a glass of water, will clamber on
the backs of others, and submerge them to keep their
own heads above water: his market is limited, and,
unlike the moneyed capitalist, he cannot live upon the
fund itself, it must be exercised to produce a living
for its owner. So small here also is the interest his
capital bears, that he can never hope to attain a higher
grade than that in which he first started; all he can
expect to do, by means of great industry and economy,
is to save a small sum to provide against evil days, or
to take him away from his present surroundings. In
new countries, however, all these latter conditions are
reversed ; he is not the slave of society, society is his ;
for it is by his aid alone that it can hope to found
itself in its new home; he is sought for, and welcomed
with open arms, not repulsed; his strong frame there
represents one added Unit of production from a boundless and untouched field of wealth which would otherwise be fallow, not an. additional supplicant for the
alms  of society, derived  from  a circumscribed and 276
over-farmed enclosure. Therefore it seems plain, from
every point of view, that the labourer or mechanic is
the most fitting subject to emigrate; he has few ties
to break; no capital to risk, save such as he cannot
lose; he leaves a bare precarious existence for the
certainty of a comfortable home, with the impending
chance of much more than that always open to him
as the result of energy. For him emigration is no
speculation, it is a sure venture.
But there is one temptation to all classes against
which a special warning is necessary ; for prevalent as
the vice is here, it is as nothing to its almost universal
sway in many new countries—that temptation, of course,
is drink. It is very easy to explain the hold it takes
upon men there; they have left behind them the
customary checks of their family circle, and from the
spareness of the female population, they meet with
little of the restraining influence of women's society.
They are deprived of most of their former innocent
pleasures and excitements, and hasten to create a
spurious conviviality in their stead. Now I care not
who or what the man may be, if he abstains from
drink (yet I don't at all mean to say he need be a
teetotaller), he must have a chance ; and even if after
a few years' trial he has not succeeded in a pecuniary
sense, he will have gained a rich and varied experience
of the world and the people in it, which no money can
purchase. CONCLUSION.
I abstain from saying anything of my opinion of the
best place to emigrate to. It is far too wide a question,
and depends almost entirely upon the qualifications
and capabilities of the individual; but the scene of
this book is laid almost entirely in British Columbia,
and therefore, perhaps, with reference to others going
there, I should add a few concluding words concern
ing it.
In the first place, then, as the reader may have
gathered, it is one of the roughest, wildest countries
on the face of the earth. The climate is variable, but
on the whole exceedingly healthy for persons of decently
robust constitutions. I don't think it a place for a
delicate person to go to, for he could not bear the
hardships he may expect to encounter in the course of
the many changes in calling and location that are
likely to be necessary to him. Judging from statistics,
the colony has not yet answered the first expectations
formed of it; the population has decreased, instead of
multiplied, in the last eight or nine years. The gold
mines in it were very rich, but circumscribed in
extent; they are the main stay of the country; and as
those first discovered are nearly worked out, and no
new ones of sufficient importance are found to supply
their places, the decline of the population is to be
accounted for.' Another great drawback is the
deficiency of agricultuial land* I have seen many
shameful accounts published by interested persons, I
from which one would imagine the country to have
been the original site of the garden of Eden. The
real fact is that it depends on California and Oregon
for almost every pound of flour that is consumed in it;
and that, compared to these neighbouring countries, it
is what I have heard it before described by a person
who knew it well—' a howling wilderness.''
On the other hand, I maintain that, owing to its
inherent defects of sterility and impracticability for
travelling purposes, the colony has never had a fair
chance. It is not from its nature a place to entice
people of wealth to stay in it; inany a fortune has
been made there, and carried away to pleasanter lands
to be spent in. So great is the expense and difficulty
of exploration, that denuded as it constantly is at the
close of every declining season of a great part of the
capital produced in it, there has been hitherto small
opportunity of developing the splendid resources that
exist in it. These resources, and its sole ones, are, as
I have pointed out in a previous chapter, mines,
timber, and fisheries.
It is absurd to suppose that so wonderfully rich a
spot as William's Creek stands alone in a territory of
the extent of British Columbia; yet the whole of the
other mines so far discovered in it have not produced
as much as this one little creek. , The forests contain
some of the finest timber in the world, and have the CONCLUSION.
immense advantage of being close to the sea and the
numerous rivers and inlets that indent a great stretch
of sea-board. The fisheries—so far as salmon are
concerned, at any rate—are simply unapproachable in
their wealth. •
There is no doubt that an immense impetus will be
given to the progress of the colony through its entry
into the Canadian dominion.
The great public works contemplated will bring
labour and capital to it, the two agents required to
generate its progress ; and will, coupled with its representation in the Canadian parliament, create a wider
and more intimate acquaintance amongst strangers
with its real status, at present little known or appreciated. The liberal grants made by the dominion
towards its revenue should almost serve to keep it
clear of taxation, for I don't believe there are at the
present time over eight thousand white men in the
country, and they solely will reap the benefit of
Canadian liberality; the Indians, estimated to number
fifty thousand, may be put out of the question in this
It is likely, therefore, that in a few years we shall
see British Columbia taking a more prominent stand
among j our dependencies than it has yet done, and it
will then be no bad place for the adventurer to turn
his regards to.
To the lover of the chase, who is content to accept
the excitement of that life without the lust of gain VERY FAR WEST INDEED.
interrupting his pursuits, the country should be a very
paradise. No better sport, nor more varied, is to be
found anywhere, and a man may live well on the
produce of his gun and fishing-boat.
Those inhabitants who have for some years now
stuck bravely to the colony, in spite of its hardships
and their disappointments, deserve all praise. They
are a generous, high-spirited people, above petty
meannesses, and well imbued with that spirit of good
fellowship, without which indeed existence would be
almost out of the question in such a place. I bid all
my friends there a kind adieu.    May they flourish !


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