We rode out and circled the areas around our little fenced-in property. We looked through the forests, and down the hill on the west side of our claim. I rode down, looking in the little nooks, and caves, to see if anyone was hiding there. I didn’t see any sign of a man, and when I got back to the top, the others had the same outcome. He probably left his horse a ways back, come in, then took the gold, and rode off. Doc suggested that someone go into town, to see if anyone had seen someone selling a large piece of the gold vein. We all thought that was a good idea, and Doc volunteered to go. We continued to search for a trace, though we didn’t even hope to find something. Andrew had no success and told me that the main gold buyer had only received gold dust and flakes for the last twenty-four hours. And he said that even if he had bought it, he would never let us take it back, as we had no proof. All we could do is apprehend the thief before he sells it, which was near impossible if he is smart, and hides away for a week. We felt very down trod and slowly rode back. We still had a lot of gold ore, but that was over a third of the final amount of gold that we had from that mine.
We didn’t know what to do exactly, except go back to work. So we did. But we all felt different. We didn’t feel like we were on a ‘home stretch’, we felt like we were trying to gain back what we lost, instead of gaining new profit. At the end of the day, we hadn’t found any gold outside the remainder of that valuable vein. We sat around after supper just thinking. Thomas was not that downtrodden, as there was no great impact to him financially, except for the sale of the mine. But for us, that was like betting high on a horse that was winning by half the track, then having the horse drop dead a foot from the finish line. It was not so much the value of the gold, but the enormity of the success. It was a huge piece, and the only significant amount of gold found at once. After that vein, we found several small threads that were probably connected to our monster vein. But no gold heavy ore.
A week later I went into town to get a buyer for some of our ore, and to see if the thief had shown up around town. I went to several men that bought gold, but none of them said they has seen anyone selling large veins. I then went to the smelter. He said that he has been getting many men with large veins, but nobody with the vein description. I then thought that the thief could break up the whole chunk and get it smelted, and nobody would be the wiser. I felt foolish for not thinking of this, and running on a fool’s errand while our gold had probably been divided up into several bars, and been passed through several hands. With this on my mind, I went back to the mine. That night I stayed up, as I had for the last two nights, and would think about many things. I love to watch the stars, and use the time to think. That night it was very cloudy, and I suspected then it would rain tomorrow.
It did. And it rained hard. So much so, then we weren’t able to mine because the mine was flooding. Even with the roof, we had over the entrance and A-frame, water still flowed in. We sat in the animal barn, read books, and cleaned up the horse’s stalls. I asked Thomas about what he would do with the mine once I sold it.
“Oh, I will probably be hired by either the people that buy the mine from you or someone else, as there is a lot of work. Though I am used to and good at mining, I have never enjoyed the work. I like the sun, and I like to ride horses. Once I make enough money, I expect that I will buy a ranch down in Texas, or something like that. I don’t know if I will have horses or cows, but I don’t really care either way. I have a girl who lives in the town that I visit, and I will probably ask her to marry me some time. I haven’t seen her much lately though. I hope to take fewer hours a day once I have enough money.”
“That sounds like a good plan Thomas, I hope it works out.”
“It would be nice wouldn’t it.” He replied with a chuckle
Since it was raining, and we were finished most of the chores we could do on the surface, we decided to play cards. It was very fun, as I have not played cards for quite a while. We sat the rest of the day, and late into the night playing cards and talking. And as our tents were soaked, we slept in the barn. In the morning the mine was too flooded to work in, and so we all went to town, to spend our day there, and see if any others had been stolen from, as I couldn’t just give up looking. Nobody had large amounts stolen, but many have had burglars steal small amounts of gold dust or scrap. It is hard to protect yourself, and your supplies at night, unless you have a large group, where you can set up watchmen.
In town, there was a group of musicians on the main road singing, and playing songs. We stopped and listened, as did many others, and soon there was quite the crowd, these men and women were making a lot of money, as at the end of each song, they were showered with coins, and a few people left small bags of gold dust or a small nugget. We all started singing along whenever a song came up that we recognized. It was an all-around party, and people were serving drinks for cheap, trying to profit off of the large crowd. We enjoyed ourselves immensely, and once we were tired of standing around, we went to a restaurant for lunch. Thomas said that he had never been to the restaurant, even though he had lived in the area for several years. So, I decided to treat him. We had the restaurant’s best steak and a bottle of nice wine. He told me that he felt weird eating in such a nice place when he was used to sitting on the ground or on a bench while eating. I told him that he was doing nothing out of the ordinary, and he should enjoy it. He reassured me that he was truly enjoying himself, and that was the end of that conversation.
We all ate heartily, and Walt really loved the food, as he lived on a rich diet for so long, that the last while had been a bit of a shock. Still, he took it like a champ and didn’t complain once. Though sometimes I would see a strange look of unpleasantness when we would look at what we were having for a meal.
Once I was done, I needed some stuff from the hardware store, so I left my three friends at the restaurant and headed for the store. I asked the clerk where I could find two-hundred-foot long ropes, as the pully system was starting to wear, and the rain would not do them any more good. He brought me one coil with the help of an employee, and after looking over it, I bought it. The man helped me load it onto the cart, then I walked down the street I saw a horse bucking wildly. Two men were trying to settle it, but with no success. I ran over and grabbed onto the rope behind one of the men. We pulled the stallion down, but it turned towards us, and we had to release our grip on the rope or get kicked violently. I grabbed the reins as the other men each lassoed the horse. I tried to pull down its neck, but it kept throwing its head up in the air. I was thrown off my feet but caught myself. But it was too late to react, and after it threw up its head, and turned, it bucked and caught my leg. I dropped the rope and fell back. The other men lead it away from me. Two bystanders ran to my side and checked my leg. I didn’t know if it was broken, but it hurt like hell, They dragged me over, out of the street, and gave me a drink of brandy. They pulled off my pants, and there was already a large bruise forming.
“Aye, it is broken,” said one of the men, I wasn’t able to reply as the pain was too much at the moment, but it soon lessened enough that I was able to tell them where my comrades were. A man left to get them, and they were soon all hurrying back, then Doc knelt at my side.
“How are you doing Fredrick?” He said as he looked, and felt. I was about to answer when he pressed on the bruise, and I yelled in pain. “never mind” he said. “it is broken at one point, it might be fractured higher up on your thigh, as I see another bruise starting.” He had some of his supplies with him, including the necessary stuff to make a splint. My leg was starting to swell quite a bit, so he waited to put the splint on. I took another sip of brandy, as it was starting to hurt much more, as the initial shock was wearing off.
Once Doc patched me up as much as he could with the supplies that he had, We prepared to leave. It was an hour and a half to our mine, and I was not looking forward to the ride. Thomas let me ride his horse, as it was much less shakey than mine. When we got back, Thomas and Doc helped me hobble over to the fire pit where there was a wide bench to lie down on. They also started the fire to boil water to wash my leg. It was my left leg, and that night it hurt very badly. As I tried to fall asleep I was thinking of all of the major injuries that we had received during our adventure. Walt had broken his ankle, I burnt my hand, Doc broke a finger, but it healed quickly, and was not much of a hindrance to him or us. Thomas once broke a rung on the ladder going down, but he was quite near the bottom, and only rolled his ankle. He was able to walk it off and just took it lightly for a day or two after. Doc hardly ever was injured, which was not too surprising, as he weighed health, and carefulness far more than us. And he usually calculated every risk before he did it.
I only fell asleep for around an hour and was very tired in the morning. The mine was fairly emptied, and Thomas, Doc, and Walt all went to work. Walt also tended to me as he was on the surface. They also installed the new rope, and Walt was enjoying it, as it fits in the pulleys much better.