Chapter 3: Across the open sea [First Draft]

It was the day before the voyage, and Walter and I were at the dock to see the loading of the things that we had bought. We left the packages, with the loading crew, and decided to go out for lunch, and talk about our upcoming voyage. We went to a very grand restaurant. It had long drapes and tassels on the walls that led up to twenty-foot ceilings, and many chandeliers hung across the ceiling. We ordered an 1835 bottle of Chateau Lafite, and some Mutton with vegetables on the side as well as a cheese platter with grapes. We ate happily, and Walter asked many questions about, what we would be doing once we got there. I answered:

“We will be buying the last supplies, and asking people where the types of places we are looking for are. Then, we will travel on horseback, until we find a place that is comfortable, and suitable for finding gold.

“And what will that place be like?”

“I was picturing a gentle stream, meadow, quiet forest, a peaceful place.”

“Are peaceful places good for finding gold?”

“I don’t know, I imagine that we will mostly be searching with a pan and sluice, I doubt we will be doing blasting or mining with a pick.”

“Good, I do not like loud noises, and swinging a pick all day wouldn’t suit me at all. What is a sluice exactly?”

“A sluice is like a long box or trough that has a pattern on the bottom, so when you shovel mud, dirt, and sand into one end, then place it into the stream, the water will wash all the useless debris away and out the other side, while the heavy gold will sink, and get caught in the divets on the floor of the sluice.”

“Ah, so all you have to do is shovel?”

“Exactly! And a pan is essentially the same thing, except you shake back and forth, in the water, to get all of the heavier gold to go to the bottom. Then spill out the dirt slowly as you go until you are left with a very little amount, then you swirl the last bit in the bottom of your pan, and pick out the gold dust.”

Walter was enraptured with the processes that I told him of, in which men find gold, I told him all that I had read in the library. I told him of blasting, panning, rocker boxes, and anything else I could think of. Walt thanked me for the lovely evening, and the knowledge that I shared, but he said since he was old and tired, he must go home. I said that I would see him at twelve tomorrow when the ship would be taking off, and told him to have a good time until then.

I arrived at the dock at eleven o’clock, to get everything in order, and Walt arrived shortly after. There were many other men, who were probably going for the same reason as me, to find gold.

The ship was named the Maryanne, and its Capitan was named Titus Mackenzie. He was a tall chap, who said that he has been sailing the seas for over fifteen years, and had travelled from England to Norway, Spain to India, and from South America to every different port in America. This was the fourth time he had done this specific voyage, for the gold rush.

Two days later, we were sailing down the coast to Panama. A few more days after that (it is hard to keep track) we arrived in In Panama and crossed on horseback. Once we got to the other side, we sold the horses and caught another ship up the western coast.

Due to arrive tomorrow, we are told that it would be very busy, and we have seen many ships sailing along with us. It was good sailing, as we spent more than most would, to get a nice ship, with decent living quarters, but many would be paying all that they have, to get a seat, on a cargo ship, and then go all the way around South America, as they cannot afford two ships, and would not be as fortunate as Walt and I. But we were now sailing in comfort. That night, we were playing poker with a few other gentlemen that were aboard the Maryanne, and we were winning. It was getting late, and since we would be fairly busy, with finding a place to store our cargo until we were ready to leave, finding a place to stay, buying all that we still needed, and asking around where we should go first. So we went to bed. I heard bells ringing, seagulls squawking, and sailors shouting. I stepped outside, and saw San Fransisco in the distance, as we came towards the port. It was very busy, and many ships were already there. I went and woke Walter, and told him to come and see. As we approached, I asked a sailor to take me down to the cargo, so I could get some of our stuff on deck, so we could get off the boat as quickly as possible. We brought most of the stuff on deck by the time we reached the docks and cast the anchor. The gangplank was lowered, and Walt and I took our first steps on California soil. We bought a cart and loaded all of our stuff into it, to make transporting it easier. Once it was all packed in, I wheeled it down the street, as we looked for a hotel. There was a small hotel in one of the back streets, that seemed nice, so I went in and asked the woman at the front desk for a room for two, and if there was anywhere we could store our cargo. She wrote down our names and said that there was a stable that was transformed into a storage barn for the customers that were coming for the gold rush. We left the cart there, and then put our personal stuff in our room. Then I sit down and looked out the window. It is very busy, as sailors, prospectors, and shop owners are all out on the street buying and selling. The road that our hotel is on has shops on either side of the road. There are a few houses, but many have been transformed into shops, as the rising wealth made it a very profitable business. I saw men walking into a saloon at the corner to my right, and a blacksmith making horseshoes directly across from me. I heard the pounding of his hammer, and the man covered in soot from the coal forge was bending the metal around the horn of his anvil. There was a lot of land between two buildings, where a horse breeder had brought some horses to sell, I eyed out two that I liked, because they were lively, but broken in, and I saw two others that were much calmer, and obviously pack horses, as you could see that they were partly mule, with the rounder, wider face. I put it in my mind to go over there later, and buy the horses that I will need, but for now, I was just going to enjoy the view.

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