Chapter 2: Gathering Steam

I awoke, in the morning cheerful and excited, which was a good change from the groggy, and grumpiness that I usually experienced in the morning. I said hello and gave a large smile to Greta my housekeeper, I think it unnerved her slightly, as she kept glancing at me when she brought me my coffee and eggs for breakfast. I promptly finished my meal and decided to take a stroll in the park. As I was walking, I dreamed of all the fun that awaited me in California. I decided I would take a steamer down to Central America, then cross on horseback, and catch another ship going up to San Fransisco.

I decided to take Walter on a shopping trip, to get him excited about the trip. I go to his house, and a maid answers the door, she lets me in and leads me to the dining room.

“Hello Fred, why do I feel like you have come to bother me?”

“Ah, that is because I have. I was wondering if you would come on a shopping trip with me, so I might show you my plan.”

“The California plan that is, correct?”


“If you let me finish my breakfast, I will come.”

I sat down beside him, and we made small talk, though not for long, as he finished his meal, and says “I will be with you in a moment if you will let me dress into something more appropriate”.

He is back before I know it, and we are out the door.

“Where are you taking me to first?”

“The hardware store”. When we arrive, I ask someone working there, if they have any large tents. The lad directed me towards the back and left us to muse.

“Just look Walt, at the size of that tent. There is no chance in the world you could not be comfortable sleeping in that.” It was a white canvas with four posts that created a room, with one slightly longer post in the centre to let the water runoff. It had two screens that we’re able to be covered by flaps on the inside to keep the light out if so wanted, and of course, would let air as well light in when not covered. I saw Walt, was slightly interested, as he walked into the display.

“Look, Fred, it has a cot, a rug, and a table and some chairs. Would I be able to have all this?

I thought if he did bring all of this luxury, he would need his own packhorse.

“Yes, if you have your own horse to carry it all, you could bring this and more.”

“Good, I will take this whole setup.”

I was slightly taken aback. “Does that mean you have agreed to come?”

“Oh, well if I can bring everything I need and want, then yes. If I can have some comforts, it will be like a vacation. I expect that I will be doing some work, as I couldn’t stand watching you work all day while I sit and drink tea.”

“That is wonderful, but do you need the rug? it will take up a lot of room on your packhorse that could be used for many more luxuries.”

“Alright, fine, no rug, but I want two foldable chairs in case you come for tea.” He smiled broadly, as he knew that I was hoping to take minimal amounts of comforts for myself, to save on storage.

“that can be arranged, but make one chair a stool, I don’t need luxuries, and it will give you more room.” I led Walt, to the lantern and candle section. I showed him these very handy foldable, candle lanterns. I bought three of those as well as a dozen candles and asked them to ship them to my house. I also bought water skins, backpacks, pots, woollen blankets, baskets, and anything that I thought I would not be able to find In San Fransisco, and that would be easier to buy here. Many things would be flying off the shelves in San Fransisco, and other cities around the Californian coast, so I thought that things that were directly associated with mining, things like pans, sluices, picks, and shovels, would be sent there by the wagon full to be stocked, and they would be a lot cheaper, as stores would be lowering their prices to be competing for sales. But other things would be much more expensive. As not every store would be able to stock all of the things that men will be needing.

Walt was really starting to enjoy himself, and the idea of travelling through California was starting to appeal to him, though I think that he was mostly going because I was.

I have really been thinking less about the idea of searching for gold, and more about the journey to find a place where we could find gold.

I am really using the gold as an excuse to get out.

After we were done at the hardware store, I then took him to a clothing store, to see what kind of camping clothing gear they had. They said that they only had fancy clothes and that I would not find many stores with what I needed around this part. I then thought that we would have better luck, buying most of our clothing once we get to San Fransisco. As there were far more people in those parts, suited to the rugged lifestyle, than in Boston.

After the majority of our shopping was done, I thought it would be a good idea to see, and show Walt how we would get there. We went to a chartering service and asked how much it would cost us to take a sailboat to central America and if we would be able to take another ship back up the other side. The gentleman said that it would cost five hundred dollars to sail down to the Isthmus of Panama, and then cross it, and take a ship back up, to California. He also said that their next voyage would be in three weeks, April 14th We thanked the sailor, and left to go home, after another exciting day for myself and Walter.

When I arrived home, Walt goes off to his home. My housekeeper was standing on the porch tapping her foot as three men were bringing in many packages, both large and small. When she saw me, she said:

“What is all of this? Did you buy all of this today?”

“Yes Greta, me and Walter are going on a trip”

“Where to?”

“California. We are going to look for gold”

“Oh Heaven, are you really going to go across America to look for gold, sleeping outside, in the rugged weather?”

“Would you like to come?”

She snorted and said. “Absolutely not, I am not going to leave civilization on a fool’s errand looking for gold underground. You don’t pay me enough for that.”

“Okay Greta, you stay and look after the house”

“Well, how long will you two be gone? And I hardly believe that old Mister Grayson will be going with you. He likes his cushions too much for that.”

“We will be setting sail in three weeks. And trust me, Walt is bringing many cushions.” The three lads walked up and said that they were all done. I thanked them and each gave them a tip as they left.

“I still think you won’t find a thing. There are a lot of men going, that are much younger and stronger than you. And all of the good areas will be chock-full of men”

“True, but I am not really going for the gold, I just need the adventure. And so does Walter. I’ll send you a postcard”

“Please do.” She picked up two packages and took them down to the basement. I helped, as there were some quite heavy packages, and it would be rude to leave all of them for her to do. We made sure that they were accessible, so we wouldn’t have to go digging for them when we had to set off

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