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California by J. Tyrwhitt Brooks

Part 2 out of 3

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Our first business was to see if we could manage to construct a couple
of cradles. At a large store here we met with some pine planks, but the
figure was most exorbitant. Taking a hint from what we had noticed
among the Indians at the saw-mills, we determined to fell a couple of
stout trees, and hollow them out so as to serve our purpose. We
obtained the assistance of a man here, a ship's carpenter, and a most
civil obliging sort of fellow, who gave us a day's help for thirty
dollars. He superintended the felling of the trees, and then put us in
the way of proceeding with the work. We found the toil sufficiently
severe, and began to feel the heat, as I thought, to a far greater
extent than was the case in the lower part of the country.

_July 8th_.--Yesterday we were employed, from early in the morning till
beyond noon, in trimming and hollowing out our cradles. While we were
seated together outside the tent enjoying a few whiffs of our pipes and
cigars, after a famous dinner of smoking-hot steaks and frijoles, we
saw the camp below was all in commotion. People were running out of
their tents, and shouting to their neighbours, and gradually a little
crowd was formed round a group of horsemen, who were just then brought
to a halt. That same feeling of curiosity which gets together a London
crowd to see the lion on the top of Northumberland House wag his tail,
caused us to make our way, with the rest of the gapers, down to
Bennett's shanty, against which all this bustle appeared to be going
on. As soon as Bradley and myself could force our way a little through
the crowd, we recognised in a moment the features of Colonel Mason. The
Colonel, who wore an undress military uniform, had just dismounted from
his horse, with the intention, it appeared, of walking through the
diggings. In a couple of minutes' time my friend Lieutenant Sherman
came up, and we were soon engaged in an animated conversation in
reference to the gold district. The fact was, the Governor was on a
tour of inspection for the purpose of making a report to the Cabinet at
Washington. I took care to thank Lieutenant Sherman for his letter of
introduction to Captain Sutter, and to explain to him the friendly
manner in which Captain Sutter received me. I then joined in the
conversation being carried on with Colonel Mason, who was giving his
opinion as to what the Government would do with respect to the gold
placer. The Colonel was very guarded in his statements. He, however,
hinted that he thought it would be politic for Congress to send over
proper officers and workmen, and at once to establish a mint at some
convenient point on the coast. He fully admitted the difficulties of
keeping men to their engagements under circumstances like the present;
but said some steps must be taken to check the system of desertions on
the part of the troops quartered at Monterey and San Francisco. The pay
of the soldiers, he considered, ought to be increased; but, without
reference to this, he told the gentlemen round him that, as good
citizens, they were bound to lend their utmost endeavours to secure in
safe custody all known deserters--men who had abandoned their flag and
exposed the country to danger, that they might live in a state of
drunkenness at the mines.

Colonel Mason next proceeded to visit Captain Weber's store, whither
Bradley accompanied him. On his return, Bradley informed us that the
Colonel and his escort intended to set off on their way back lo
Sutter's Fort that very afternoon, and they reckoned upon encamping
some few miles below the saw-mills that night. Bradley then took me
aside and asked me whether this would not be a good opportunity to send
our stock of gold dust down to Captain Sutter, who would, for a
reasonable commission, consign it to a merchant at Monterey on our
account. The weight of it was becoming cumbersome, and we were besides
in constant apprehension of some unfortunate accident happening to it.
Now was the time, Bradley urged, to place all we had as yet realised in
security. He knew Colonel Mason--in fact, had served under him, and
undertook, if the remainder of the party were agreeable, to carry the
gold, under the protection of Colonel Mason's escort, to Sutter's Fort.

There was something reasonable in this proposal, and Colonel Mason, on
being appealed to, said he would gladly give Mr. Bradley such
protection as his escort would afford him, and would be, moreover,
happy of his company. Our party was, therefore, summoned together, and
the whole, or nearly so, of the gold dust being produced, it was
weighed in our presence, and found to amount to twenty-seven pounds
eight ounces troy--valued at over four thousand six hundred dollars.
Bradley gave a regular receipt for this to the company, and engaged to
obtain a similar one from Captain Sutter. The gold dust was then packed
in a small portmanteau well secured by numerous cords, and firmly bound
on the pack-saddle of an extra horse, which Bradley was to ride
alongside of, the bridle of the animal being secured to his arm, and
its trail-rope made fast to the saddle of the horse which Bradley
himself rode. He was well armed with pistols and a rifle, and started
with Colonel Mason's party a couple of hours before sundown--so that
they might ford the river ere it was dusk. After accomplishing this,
they intended to ride part of the way by the light of the moon.


Smoking and sleeping
Fever, and how caused
Bradley returns
A doctor wanted
A doctor's fee at the mines
Medicine scarce
A hot air bath and a cold water bath
Indians engaged to work
Indian thimble-rigging
An Indian gamester, and the stake he plays for
More sickness
Mormons move off
A drunken dance by Indians
An Indian song about the yellow earth and the fleet rifle
An immodest dance by Indian women.

_July 12th, Wednesday_.--We finished our cradles late upon Saturday
night, but delayed working until Monday. A few of the miners pursued
their avocation on the Sunday, but the majority devoted the day to
rest--smoking and sleeping in the shade alternately. I walked through
the washings, and heard that many of the miners had been taken ill with
intermittent fever, a circumstance which did not astonish me. Bad diet,
daily exposure to the sun while it is at its greatest height, followed
by an exposure to the cold damp air at night time--these conjoined were
quite sufficient to bring on the most severe illness. On my return to
the tent I looked over our little stock of medicine, which I foresaw I
should soon be required to use.

On Monday we commenced operations in the old style--digging, fetching
water, and rocking the cradle. The sun came blazing down with great
power, causing headaches to most of the party, particularly Malcolm,
who complained much. The day's taking was very good; we having realised
nine ounces with one machine, and seven and a half with the other. At
night, as Malcolm still continued to complain of his head, and as there
was evidently a good deal of low fever about him, I gave him a dose of
calomel and a febrifuge mixture, which by the morning produced a good
deal of relief.

Bradley made his appearance during the forenoon, after a fatiguing ride
from Sutter's Fort. He had seen the Captain, had delivered the gold,
and settled the transaction. We were hard at work the whole of to-day.
In the evening a man came crawling into the tent to know if we had any
medicines we would sell. I told him I was a doctor, and asked him what
was the matter. He had been suffering from remittent fever of a low
typhoid type. I gave him bark, and told him he must lay up and take
care of himself. He said he would; but next day, during the intervals
of fever, I saw him working away with his pan. The news of there being
a doctor in the camp soon spread, and I am now being continually called
on to prescribe for a large number of patients. An ounce of gold is the
fee generally given me. This sort of work is as much more profitable as
it is less laborious than working at the cradle. But the great drawback
is that one has to do something else beyond advising. People require
physicking, and as I cannot submit to be deprived of the little stock
of medicine I had brought with me in case of my own friends having
occasion for it, I am obliged to give over practising in those cases
where medicine is absolutely necessary.

The native Californians, both Indians and whites, have an universal
remedy for febrile affections, and indeed for sickness of almost any
kind; this is the temascal, a sort of hot air bath, shaped not unlike a
sentry-box, and built of wicker-work, and afterwards plastered with mud
until it becomes air-tight. There is one of these machines at the Weber
Creek washings, which has been run up by the Indians during the last
few days. One of them used it for the first time this afternoon, and to
my surprise is still alive. After a great fire had been made up close
to the door--a narrow aperture just large enough for a little man to
squeeze through--it was afterwards gradually allowed to burn itself
out, having in the meantime heated to a very high degree the air in the
interior of the bath. Into this the Indian screwed himself, and there
remained until a profuse perspiration was produced, which he checked
forthwith by a plunge into the chilly water of the river. Here he
floundered about for a few minutes, and then crawled out and lay down
exhausted on the ground.

The atmosphere continues exceedingly sultry, and the miners who work by
the river, out of the shade, have in several instances sunk exhausted
under the toil. Dysentery, produced probably by unwholesome food, has
also begun to show itself, and altogether the aspect of things is
anything but cheerful.

_July 15th, Saturday_.--We have engaged a large party of Indians to
work for us in the ravines. They belong to the Snake tribe, and appear
to be a poor set of half-starved wretches. We pay them in provisions,
and occasionally drams of pisco--a spirit made from Californian grapes.

On visiting the encampment of our Indians, last night after work was
over, I found about a dozen of them eagerly engaged gambling away--the
stake, in some instances, being the supper which had just been served
out to them--with an ardour equal to that of the most civilized
gamesters. So far as I could make out, the game had some analogy to our
"thimble-rigging;" but appeared to be fairly played. A small ball was
passed by three of the Indians from hand to hand, with such rapid
dexterity, that no eye could keep pace with their movements; three
others watched it with peculiar eagerness. Every now and then the
latter made a correct guess, and one was scored in their favour--if
wrong, a mark was scored against them. The Indians are in general
strongly addicted to games of chance, and they sometimes gamble away
all the clothing on their backs. I heard of an instance which occurred
near the saw-mills, of an Indian who, after having lost every article
of clothing he had, one after the other, to his more fortunate
antagonist, staked his labour for a week against the cotton shirt which
he had lost only a few minutes before. He had a run of bad luck, and,
when he left off, had to work for six weeks, at gold-washing, for his
antagonist, who fed him on nothing better than acorn bread. Mr. Neligh,
who told me of this circumstance, had seen the man at work duly
fulfilling his engagement.

The sickness amongst the miners continues to increase, and in our own
party Lacosse has been laid up for two days with fever; however, I
think he is now doing well. The climate does not appear to be
unhealthy. It is the exposure to the work which does the mischief.
There is some talk afloat among our party of removing further up the
country, nearer to the mountains, where gold is said to be in greater
abundance. Yesterday, a large party--many of them Mormons--started for
the Bear River, a small stream which runs into the Sacramento, and is
said to be about fifty miles distant, due north from where we are

The Indians at work here have caused the price of pisco and whisky to
rise to a most exorbitantly high rate. They content themselves with
feasting on the bitter acorn bread, and spend all their earnings on
"strong water" and a little finery. Sometimes a party of them, when
intoxicated, will get up one of their wild dances, when the stamping
and yelling are of a far more fearful character than is generally the
case at these singular exhibitions. The dance begins generally with a
rude song, the words being of the usual harsh guttural character, but
the ideas are generally striking and peculiar. One has been explained
to me which recites the praises of the "yellow earth," because it will
procure the Shoshonee the fleet rifle with which he can slay his Pawnee
foe. It says nothing, however, about the "strong water," which renders
the arm of the war-chief weaker than that of a child; for, with all
their vices, there is still that pride about the Indian character which
makes them ashamed of those weaknesses they are unable to resist.

Frequently, while the Indian warriors repose from their exertions,
after the termination of one of these wild dances, the women of the
tribe will occupy their place; but in general their postures and
movements are indelicate in the extreme. But modesty is hardly to be
looked for in the amusements of savage life.


The party determine to start for Bear River
Sickness at the mines
What happened to a drunken Indian
An old trapper and his stories
Captain Sutter's first settlement
Indians partial to horse-flesh
A score of horses stolen
An expedition to revenge the theft
A rancheria demolished
A chorus of yells
Indians routed and then brought to labour
Bear River
The trapper engaged as guide
Preparations for the journey
An addition to the party
The journey commenced
Rocky country
Cross the North Fork
An accident to a mule
Flour cakes and bacon scraps
Resume the journey
Precipitous ravines
End of the journey.

_Monday, July 24th_.--We have determined to start for the Bear River.
We worked hard last week, but suffered greatly from the heat; almost
every man of us complains of feverish symptoms, with pains in the
limbs, back, and loins, yet we are better than the majority of the
miners. These washings have now become nearly as crowded as the Mormon
diggings were when we left them, and immense sums have been made by
some of the luckier adventurers amongst the ravines. The whole valley
is dotted over with tents and green bush arbours, and there is hardly a
watercourse but which is sprinkled with miners, digging, sifting, and
washing. About half of the people work together in companies--the other
half shift each for himself. There are hundreds of Indians, many of
them fantastically dressed, for they can purchase fine clothing now,
even at the extravagant rates at which all articles are charged at
Weber's store. They labour one day, and get drunk on pisco or the
"strong water" on another. One of them rolled down a rocky ravine
lately, in an intoxicated state, and was killed.

As we were lying down in the shade of the tent yesterday, we were
visited by an old trapper called Joe White. He had recognized Bradley
and Don Luis, whom he had met on the coast, and we invited him to take
coffee with us. Joe White had come into this part of the country with
Captain Sutter, whom he spoke very highly of, and of whose early
efforts to form a settlement he gave us an account. Their party was the
very first of the white settlers in the wilderness. They live some time
in a camp formed of the tented wagons they had brought with them, until
they could run up a few rough shanties, and some protecting outworks.
During the time they were constructing these, and indeed for some
months afterwards, they were dreadfully harassed by the Indians, who
made onslaughts on their cattle, carried away, killed, and eat both
horses and oxen. The Indians are by no means particular. One night,
after the party had been lulled into a sense of security by the
apparent friendly disposition of the Indians, who occasionally came
into their camp, and no watch was being kept, upwards of a score of
horses and mules were driven off; the loss of which Sutter's people
knew nothing of until they woke up in the morning, and found the ropes
all cut. They started off at once on the trail, and soon found that it
led to an Indian rancheria, about eight miles up the Sacramento. This
rancheria was, they believed, the refuge of the "Ingin varmints," as
Joe While styled them, from whose depredations they were constantly
suffering. Captain Sutter determined to take signal revenge. They
returned to the Fort that day, but next morning started off in a strong
party, each man armed with his never-failing rifle and big bowie-knife,
and taking with them a howitzer which the Captain had brought with him
over the Rocky Mountains. The Indians must, however, have had
information by their scouts of the expedition; for, when the party
reached the rancheria, they found it deserted--not even a solitary
squaw left among the huddled-up collection of huts. Determined not to
be foiled, the party set to work to demolish the village. The
construction of the Indian houses rendered this an easy task, but, to
complete it, fire was requisite. No sooner had the smoke risen from the
kindling wood, than their ears were saluted with a dismal yell from a
little densely-wooded island a couple of hundred yards up the stream.
Starting out in all directions from the high grass and underwood,
appeared a crowd of squaws with their children, who gave whoop after
whoop, and, brandishing boughs of trees, imprecated curses upon the
destroyers of their rancheria.

Captain Sutter and his party of trappers were somewhat startled at this
proceeding, and the question immediately occurred to them as to where
the men could be. The party pushed their way homewards as fast, as
possible; leaving the rancheria burning and the squaws and children
still yelling and whooping on the island. It was as they expected. On
coming within two miles of the Fort, they heard the crack upon crack of
distant rifles. Putting their horses to the gallop, they arrived just
in time to see the Indians totally routed, and scampering away as fast
as their horses would carry them into the woods.

After this double defeat, the tribes seem to have given up all idea of
prosecuting a war against their new neighbours, and, gradually
relinquishing their thievish habits, settled in the neighbourhood of
the Fort--sometimes hunting and trapping for the pale faces, and at
others labouring away at ditching and brick-making, being paid chiefly
in articles of clothing and small allowances of pisco. The trapper told
us that Captain Sutter has now a tin coin in circulation, stamped with
his name, and good for a certain amount of merchandize at the Fort.

After listening to a few more wonderful adventures of this sort,
Bradley turned the conversation upon the country about Bear River. The
trapper said he knew it well, and had heard that there was plenty of
gold there. He asked him if he would undertake to guide us thither,
and, after some bargaining, he consented. The sum he was to have was
sixty-five dollars and his food. Considering the high rates of all
things here, this was a low figure enough, but the old trapper candidly
told us that he was sick and tired of paddling about in the water
washing for gold, and that he would prefer a few days' jaunt in the
wilderness. The climate was much cooler further to the north, he
informed us, and comparatively few miners had penetrated to the Bear
Valley. We had a long debate upon the matter, and ultimately it was
determined to start the day after to-morrow (Wednesday).

_July 25th, Tuesday_.--This day has been devoted to preparations for
our journey. Our stock of provisions, with the exception of
breadstuffs, is quite exhausted. We have had, therefore, to lay in a
stock, but we found everything, of course, inordinately dear; so we
have contented ourselves with buying some bacon, and dried beef, and
coffee, resolving to trust to our rifles for further support, there
being plenty of game in the neighbourhood of the Bear Valley. By the
advice of Joe White, we intend not only to load the pack-horses with a
portion of our stock of provisions, but each man is to take a
fortnight's rations for himself. The pack-horses will carry about
another fortnight's supply. We should have preferred, if we could have
managed it, to despatch the gold we have amassed since Bradley's
mission to Captain Sutter, down to the Fort; but, after some
deliberation, we have resolved not to risk its transit without an
escort, and, accordingly, have agreed to load one horse, the most
sure-footed of the lot, with the valuable burden, and to attach its
trail ropes to the horses ridden by ourselves in turn.

This evening three men, hearing of our intended expedition, offered to
join the party. These were Edward Story, an American lawyer, who had
been one of the inferior alcaldes during the Spanish regime at
Monterey; John Dowling, first male, and Samuel Bradshaw, the carpenter,
of an American whaling ship which they had left at San Francisco. The
lawyer was an intelligent person, conversant with the language of
several of the tribes--the mate seemed to have his wits about him, and
the carpenter would obviously be a great acquisition, particularly as
we were now about to plunge even beyond the furthest outposts of
civilization, where, in all probability, we may have to secure
ourselves against attacks from the Indians without the possibility of
any help beyond that which we could render to each other. We were
rather pleased with their offer, and received them as an addition to
our party. All three had horses, although, as usual with seamen, the
mate and carpenter were terribly awkward equestrians.

_Wednesday, July 26th_.--This day we struck our camp before sunrise,
and had the horses securely packed and all in motion in the early cool
of the morning. The march was a fatiguing one; the country appearing to
be a succession of woody bottoms, or valleys and steep rocky ridges,
which tried the metal of our loaded horses severely. From the summit of
one of the hills more elevated than the rest we obtained a distant view
of the valley of the Sacramento. Our general course was north
north-west. The trapper, who proved an able guide, varied the direction
from time to time so as to lead us through the easiest paths, taking
care to steer clear of the deep canones that split up the hills in
every direction. We dined at noon as usual, and that very well, on some
hare soup made from a couple of hares which we had shot during the
morning, and some dried beef. The signs of deer were very frequent.
After mounting and descending a very precipitous and rocky ridge, we
encamped near some waterfalls in a wide open valley. The night was
somewhat cold, and we enjoyed a blazing fire of pine sticks, which we
cut from the dried trees in the vicinity.

_Friday, July 28th_.--Yesterday morning dawned clear and rather
coolish. In the forenoon we crossed the north fork of the Americanos,
which was here but a trifling stream. The general character of the
country was becoming more and more mountainous and difficult to
traverse, and we found the labour of the journey sufficiently severe. A
great number of water-courses crossed our path, but the channels were
quite dry, the stones and shingle white and bleaching in the sun. An
unfortunate accident occurred during the afternoon's march to one of
the pack-horses, which stumbled over a heap of rough stones in
clambering up from the bed of a torrent, and broke its leg. We had to
shoot the poor animal to put it out of pain. Its burden was equally
distributed between its more fortunate fellows. We encamped amongst
rocks, and had a poor supper of flour cakes and bacon scraps. During
the night Don Luis was attacked with aguish symptoms. I prescribed
bark, which appeared to relieve him.

To-day our horses were quickly saddled and packed, and we started off
in the faint grey of the morning. It was chilly, but the sky was
beautifully clear. When the sun had fairly risen, however, we had no
more cold to complain of. The way was exceedingly difficult. We toiled
along precipitous ravines and gullies, and climbed up steep and rocky
ridges, which cut and wounded the feet of the horses, and rendered our
progress very slow. The timber we passed was principally pine trees,
with sharp pointed leaves and large cones, and occasionally we came
upon a grove of evergreen oaks, more stunted in shape than was the case
in the lower regions. About mid-day we passed the source of the Rio de
las Plumas, or Feather River, and after a most severe and in some
respects forced march climbed the last rocky ridge which separated us
from the Bear Valley. The sun was near its setting as we pushed down
the mountain slopes towards the river. We found it a small stream
flowing swiftly over a shingly bed to the westward, and encamped within
hearing of its murmur, well pleased to have performed our toilsome


A rest
A solitude
No gold to be found
An exploring party
Good fortune
Food and security
More cradles
A fortified shanty in preparation
A dessert after dinner
Thoughts about home
No other gold-finders to be seen
Mormon trail
Salt Plain and the Great Salt Lake
A weary day's journey without water
Saline exhalations
The inland sea and its desolate shores
A terrible whirlpool
The shanty finished
The trapper's services retained
The camp visited by an Indian tribe
A friendly sign
The pipe of peace
A "trade" with the Indians declined
Some depart and some remain
Provisions run short
Hunting expeditions
Something about a bear.

_Sunday, July 30th_.--We rested somewhat late upon Saturday morning to
make up for the fatigues of the journey from Weber's Creek. On
surveying the country we found ourselves in a perfect solitude. Not an
Indian, far less a white man, was to be seen. The fertile valley of the
Bear River--with its luxuriant grass, in which nestled coveys of the
Californian quail--seemed almost untrodden by human foot, and sloped in
great beauty between the ridges of rocky hills and peaks of granite,
with dark ravines and canones between, which hemmed it in. Our first
care was of course to try the capabilities of the country in the way of
gold. We therefore separated ourselves, and sought different points of
the channel of the stream, and different chasms, which in the winter
time conducted the mountain torrents into it.

To our great astonishment and disappointment, one by one we returned
into the camp with the news of our non-success. By the old trapper's
advice, an exploring party was despatched to follow up the stream
towards its head. They travelled the distance of some ten or twelve
miles, crossing some of the more important tributaries of the main
river, and had the good fortune to strike upon a spot where a slight
examination was sufficient to prove that the gold existed in great
abundance in the sand and shingles, and imbedded in flakes amid the
rocks. To-day we have moved the camp to this spot; and, as we are now
beyond the reach of aid from white men, and have begun to feel that we
must be, for some time at least, a self-supporting party, our first
thoughts are turned towards making arrangements for obtaining a supply
of food, and for ensuring our security. Bradley, Joe White, and Jose,
are to be our hunters; Malcolm, Lacosse, and McPhail, are to set to
work to-morrow to make a couple of cradles, the carpenter giving them
an occasional helping hand, but occupying himself principally in
superintending the construction of a large shanty, sufficient to
accommodate the whole party, with a rough fortification around,
com posed of pine logs and palisades, pointed at the top, sufficient
to enclose a space of ground into which the horses could be driven at
night, out of the way of any outlying Indian who might be thievishly
inclined. We calculate that the construction of the shanty, with its
appurtenances, will occupy at least a week--in all probability, much
longer. Malcolm, McPhail, and Lacosse, are to join us in our labours as
soon as they have finished the cradles. The hunters had good luck
to-day, and came in with a couple of fat bucks. The trapper had also
snared a number of quails, so that our table was nobly furnished. Our
dinner, also, included a dessert of a fruit similar to apples in taste,
but not larger than well-grown gooseberries. These had been gathered
and brought in by the trapper in the morning.

_Sunday, August 6th_.--I have felt very low-spirited these last few
days. One's thoughts have turned towards home, and an indescribable
sensation of melancholy has been weighing me down, which at last my
companions have begun to take notice of. This evening, just as the
remainder of the party contemplated turning in for the night, I pulled
out my note-book, and began writing beside the camp-fire.

"?No puede Vm. dormir?" said Don Luis to me, as he moved away towards
the tent.

"No, Senor," replied I. "Pienso a la veja Ingleterra; a mi Hermano y a
mis amigos."

"Por ventura a una amiguita," observed Don Luis.

I laughed, and answering, "Es possible, Senor," went on writing.

We are now regularly settled on the Bear River, and have, as yet, seen
no signs of human life round about us. The reports, therefore, which we
heard at Weber's Creek, of the gold-finders having penetrated into this
valley, would appear to have been without foundation. We have observed
a fresh-made trail, which the old trapper seems to consider passes in
the direction of the Truckee Lake; and we have noticed the remains of
several camp-fires at different parts of the valley. In all probability
this trail has been made by the Mormon emigrants, who are reported to
have gone on a gold-hunting expedition across the salt desert to the
shores of the Great Salt Lake, a distance of seven or eight hundred
miles. The old trapper had some wonderful stories to tell about the
dangers of the journey across the Salt Plain. How that a man has to
travel, from the first faint break of grey light in the morning, as
hard as his horse will carry him, over a desert of white salt--which
crunches and crumbles beneath his horse's tread at every step he
takes--until the sun has gone down behind the tall peaks of the distant
Sierra Nevada. No water but of the most brackish kind can be procured
to refresh either horse or rider through the whole of this weary route,
while their lips are parched with thirst, and their eyes and nostrils
become choked from the effects of the saline exhalations rising up on
all sides from the desert over which they are passing. And as for the
Great Salt Lake, the desolate shores of this inland sea have been, for
the most part, carefully avoided by both Indians and trappers, and no
living being has yet been found daring enough to venture far on the
bosom of its dark turbid waters; for a belief exists that a terrible
whirlpool agitates their surface, ready to swallow up everything that
may venture within the bounds of its dangerous influence.

Our cradles were finished on Monday, and the shanty on Saturday
afternoon. It includes a sort of outhouse for cooking, and the rude
palisades around are quite sufficient protection for the horses against
any attempts the Indians are likely to make to drive them off. As soon
as our building labours were over yesterday, we set to work digging and
washing, and were very successful. The country about here is of course
much more rugged than in the lower diggings. Grass is plentiful in the
valley, but the rocky heights are covered with a stinted vegetation,
offering no food to our horses. The soil, mineralogically considered,
does not seem to vary materially from that in the neighbourhood of
Weber's Creek. If anything, it is more impregnated with gold. On
Friday, Don Luis discovered a large rough lump in a canone about a mile
from the shanty; and the next evening a similar lump, though rather
smaller, was picked up by Bradley in one of his hunting excursions.

_August 8th_.--We have engaged the services of our friend the trapper
at the rate of fifteen dollars a-week, with an allowance of whisky
twice a-day. He will hunt for us, but will have nothing to do with gold
digging and washing. He has a tolerable contempt for dollars, or else
he would have demanded higher wages. A man who has spent nearly all his
life in the wilderness, who has known no wants but such as his rifle
could quickly supply, may, however, well look with contempt on the
"root of all evil." If he were hungry, a shot at some panting elk or
bellowing buffalo would stock him with food for weeks to come. If he
were athirst, the clear water of some sparkling rivulet would yield him
all that he would require. The hide of the bear or of the buffalo would
serve to clothe him and to shelter him from the sharp night frosts;
while a score of beaver skins would purchase him ammunition more than
sufficient to last him all the year round. What, then, should he want
with gold?

Yesterday, while we were at dinner, we were surprised by seeing a party
of Indians approaching the camp from the direction of Truckee Lake.
They appeared not to have any hostile intentions, so we quietly awaited
their approach. The foremost chief held before him a long stick, with a
bunch of white feathers dangling at the end. Story explained to us that
this was a friendly sign, and said we had nothing to fear from the
party. As they approached nearer towards us, they commenced dancing and
singing, and we could soon perceive that very few among them were
armed, and that altogether their appearance was anything but warlike
and imposing.

Story went out to meet them, and shook hands with the few foremost
chiefs. When they reached the shanty, before the door of which we were
seated, the chiefs gathered on the right-hand side of us, and squatted
themselves down upon the ground, when the pipe of peace was immediately
produced by a veteran chief, and hemded round. I took a few whiffs with
the rest, and then we learnt from our visiters that they were anxious
to engage in a trade. All that they had, however, were some few
esculent roots and several bags of pine-nuts. These last they roast and
eat, but the taste is far from pleasant. In exchange for them, they
wanted some charges of powder and ball. Three of them, I noticed,
possessed old Spanish muskets, of which they seemed particularly proud;
they held them in the usual cautious Indian style, with the butt-end
clutched in the right hand, and the barrel resting on the left arm. A
few of the others had bows and arrows slung across their backs. We
pleaded shortness of ammunition as our excuse for declining the trade.
Our provisions being run low made it impossible for us to offer them
anything to eat, so we gave them a few blankets, which we could well
spare, by way of keeping ourselves in their good graces; as, according
to Story, they would have considered it a great affront if we had
neglected to make them any presents.

The Indians remained and encamped outside our fort; last night and this
morning the greater part took their departure. The guard last night had
orders to keep a sharp look-out, as we thought that our friends, even
though they had no hostile intentions towards us, might still take a
strong liking to some of our horses; but nothing of a suspicious
character occurred. Five young men of the tribe also have stopt behind,
who wish to continue with us and work for us, but the low state of our
commissarial renders it desirable not to accept their offer, unless our
hunters return to-day with a good stock of provisions.

_August 13th_. Our hunters have been very successful these last few
days. We have a large stock of elk meat, which we intend drying after
the Indian fashion. On Friday, while Don Luis and the trapper were out
together, they were surprised by the sight of a huge bear right before
them, slowly walking up towards them. As soon as he arrived within
about a hundred paces he squatted down upon his haunches for a few
moments; but, as they got nearer to him, and just as they were
preparing to give him a greeting in the shape of a couple of balls
through his head, he rose up and scampered off. They fired, but without
success, and the brute plunged into a dense thicket; after which they
saw nothing more of him.

Our Indians, after stopping with us a couple of days, during which
period we compelled them to encamp at night-time outside the fort, took
their departure early on Friday morning, or else during the night of
Thursday, unperceived by our sentinels. They, however, took nothing
with them belonging to our party, except a couple of blankets we had
lent to the two principal men.


A rich mine of gold discovered
A guard both night and day
A good morning's work
An Indian scout
How he served Dowling, and how Dowling served him
A look-out
Indians seen advancing
A moment of fear
A yell
Arrows and rifles
A wounded chief carried off
The field of battle
The return to the camp
Horses driven off by Indians
Where Jose was found
The wounded attended to
An after-dinner discussion
How the watch went to sleep, and how they were woke up
McPhail missing
Wolves, deer, and a puma
A party set out in search of McPhail.

_August 20th, Sunday_.--The past week has been in many respects an
eventful one. On Friday, while several of us were rambling about the
neighbourhood of the camp, exploring the numerous mountain canones
which lie between us and the Sierra Nevada, we found, among the loose
particles of rock which had crumbled away from the sides of the ravine
and fallen to the bottom, several lumps of gold of a much larger size
than any we had before met with. This induced us to examine the upper
part of the ravine, where promising traces of gold were readily
detected; further examination convinced us that the precious metal
existed here in far greater quantises than in the locality where we had
been at work for several weeks previous; and we were, moreover,
satisfied that it was to be obtained with much less difficulty, as,
being found in solid lumps, the unpleasant labour of washing was
dispensed with. We therefore determined, on the following morning, to
remove all our implements to this spot, the only disadvantage of which
was its being situated rather far off from our place of encampment.

Since our friends, the Indians, had quitted us, we had always left some
one or other on guard at the shanty, to keep watch over our horses and
baggage, both during the day time and at night; for we knew that some
of them were continually prowling about, our horses having frequently
shown signs of uneasiness in the night time. During the day there was
generally one member of the party who remained at the shanty, having
either Jose or the lad Horry in company.

The ravine we proposed moving to was nearly half-a-mile distant. After
breakfast, Bradley, Lacosse, and McPhail, accompanied by the old
trapper, set off on a hunting expedition, for our stock of provisions
was now getting very low, leaving Jose and our legal friend at the
camp. The remainder of the party, including myself, proceeded to the
ravine with our implements, and after working a few hours we succeeded
in procuring more gold than we had obtained in any two days during the
past week. We were just on the point of returning to the camp to dinner
when Dowling, who was standing near some sage bushes at the upper part
of the ravine, heard a rustling among them, and on moving in the
direction of the noise saw an Indian stealthily creeping along, who, as
soon as he perceived he was discovered, discharged an arrow, which just
missed its mark, but lacerated, and that rather severely, Dowling's
ear. The savage immediately set up a most terrific whoop, and ran off,
but stumbled before he could draw another arrow from his quiver, while
Dowling, rushing forward, buried his mattock in the head of his fallen
foe, killing him instantaneously.

At this moment we hoard the crack of a rifle in the direction of the
camp, which, with the Indian's whoop at the same moment, completely
bewildered us. Every man, however, seized his rifle, and Dowling,
hastening towards us, told us what had just occurred. All was still for
the next few moments, and I mounted a little hill to reconnoitre.
Suddenly I saw a troop of Indians, the foremost of them on horseback,
approaching at full speed. I hastily returned to my companions, and we
sought shelter in a little dell, determined to await there, and resist
the attack, for it was evident that the savages' intentions were
anything but pacific.

It was a moment of breathless excitement. We heard the tramp, tramp of
the horses coming on towards us, but as yet they and their riders were
concealed from our view. I confess I trembled violently, not exactly
with fear, although I expected that a few moments would see us all
scalped by our savage assailants. It was the suddenness of the danger
which startled me, and made my heart throb violently; but at that
moment, just as I was reproaching myself with the want of courage, a
terrific yell rung through the air at a short distance from us, and
forty or fifty warlike Indians appeared in sight. My whole frame was
nerved in an instant, and when a shower of arrows flew amongst us, I
was the first man to answer it with a rifle-shot, which brought one of
the foremost Indians off his horse to the ground. I instantly reloaded,
but in the meanwhile the rifles of my companions had been doing good
service. We had taken up our position behind a row of willow trees
which skirted the banks of a narrow stream, and here we were protected
in a great measure from the arrows of our assailants, which were in
most cases turned aside by the branches. A second volley of rifle-shots
soon followed the first; and while we were reloading, and the smoke had
slightly cleared away, I could see that we had spread consternation in
the ranks of the Indian warriors, and that they were gathering up their
wounded preparatory to retreating. I had my eye on one old man, who had
just leapt from his horse. My finger was on the trigger, when I saw him
coolly advance, and, taking one of his wounded companions, who had been
shot though the leg, in his arms, place him on a horse, then mounting
his own, and catching hold of the other animal's bridle, gallop off at
full speed. Although I knew full well that if the fortune of the day
had gone against us, these savages would not have spared a single man
of our party, still I could not find it in my heart to fire on the old
chief, and he therefore carried off his wounded comrade in safety.

In a few minutes the hill-sides were clear, and when we emerged from
our shelter, all that was visible of the troop of warriors was three of
them weltering in their blood, a bow or two, and some empty quivers,
and a few scattered feathers and tomahawks, lying on the ground. One by
one, we gradually stole up to the top of the mound from whence I first
beheld the approach of the enemy, when, finding that they were
retreating at full speed in an opposite direction to the camp, we
determined to proceed thither at once, fully prepared to find both
Story and Jose murdered. On our arrival, however, the former coolly
advanced to meet us, and, in answer to our questions, stated that while
he was superintending the proper browning of our venison, and Jose was
filling the cans with water, he saw several of our horses scampering
off, being in fact driven by three or four Indians on horseback. "So
quickly," said he, "was the movement effected, that before I could lay
hold of my rifle they were nearly beyond range. I fired, but without
effect; and while I was looking about, I suppose in rather a bewildered
manner, a party of something like forty Indians ran rapidly past. I
don't know whether they saw me or not, but I was by no means anxious to
engage their attention, and was glad enough when the last passed out of
sight. I then went in search of Jose, whom I found in the river up to
his neck in water--a position which he thought afforded the safest
means of concealment, as he knew his wild brethren would have
sacrificed him, and perhaps eaten him forthwith, if they had chanced to
discover him."

I at once set to work to dress Dowling's ear, and a wound which Don
Luis had received in his hand. The latter was merely a scratch, and the
only danger likely to arise from it was in the event of the arrow by
which it was inflicted having been poisoned. But Don Luis felt so
confident that this was not the practice among the tribes about here,
that he would not allow me to take the usual precautions against such a

Our anxiety was now turned towards the party who were out hunting, and
we anxiously looked for their appearance. We had been so upset by the
events of the morning, that we all felt disinclined to resume our
labours after our meal was concluded, and we occupied ourselves in and
about the camp, and in discussing the reason of the Indians' attack,
and the probability of its being followed up by another. The day wore
on without any signs of our companions' return. Towards evening, a
rifle was fired off occasionally, to let them know of the danger which
in all probability awaited them from an attack on the part of the
Indians, and also to let the latter gentry know that we were on the
look-out. It was arranged that we should all keep watch until the
arrival of our friends, to be the better prepared for any danger which
menaced us and them; for we thought it not unlikely that the Indians
were hovering about the camp, and might attempt a surprise. Exhausted,
however, by excitement and fatigue, one by one we dropped off to sleep.
I was wakened up by the report, as I thought, of a rifle, which was
immediately followed by a horrible moaning, and the whole of us were
soon on our legs, rifles in hand, in the expectation of being butchered
in the course of a few minutes. Bradley's well-known whistle, however,
somewhat restored our confidence.

In a few minutes Lacosse, Bradley, and the old trapper were by the
camp-fire. "Is McPhail here?" asked all of them in a breath, anxiously
looking round the circle. The reply to the question was a sad one: he
had not yet returned. In answer to our inquiries as to where they had
parted from him, and as to whether they had heard the rifle-shot which
had disturbed us from our sleep, Lacosse replied that they had first
missed him about three-quarters of an hour ago, but they did not feel
any particular uneasiness at the circumstance, as they imagined he had
ridden on first. The night was rather dark, but Lacosse said the trail
could easily be distinguished. With regard to the shot we had heard
fired, and the moans which followed it, Bradley said that shortly after
missing McPhail, they found some wolves were on their track, in ail
likelihood scenting the deer which they were carrying slung across
their horses. Fearing their noise might attract a more dangerous
customer, in the shape of a puma, towards them, he fired a couple of
pistols, which had the effect of wounding two of the pack, who rolled
over with terrific howls. It must have been Bradley's last shot that
woke us, for none of us heard more than one shot fired.

Our three huntsmen set about preparing their supper immediately, in the
full expectation that McPhail would make his appearance before the
venison was ready. The supper was, however, cooked and eaten, but still
no McPhail arrived. Another hour was suffered to elapse, and then we
began to consider that it was nearly three hours ago since he was last
seen, while at that time he was not more than one hour's distance from
the camp. It was evident, therefore, that he had either missed the
trail or followed it in the opposite direction (which last was the old
trapper's opinion), or else some more serious misfortune had happened
to him. We at once resolved to set out in search of him, leaving a
guard behind at the camp. The mate and Don Luis, being both, as it
were, invalided, were of course among those who were to remain. Bradley
pleaded fatigue, and wished to stay in camp, and Biggs was left on
guard with him.


Where McPhail was last seen
The trapper's keen eyes
A nap in the open air
The Author woke up
A surprise attempted
Horses left in charge
The tactics of the advance and the retreat
A shot from a rifle, and a man wounded
A salute
The rifle shot explained
Horses driven off
A volley fired
Poor Horry scalped
The trapper promises vengeance
The wounded man
Grief at the loss of a friend
A mystery explained
Horry's grave
His funeral and monument.

It must have been about one o'clock when we started, and, after
half-an-hour's hard riding, we came upon the spot where McPhail had
last been seen. We shouted for some time as loudly as our lungs would
let us, but heard nothing, save the howl of some hungry wolf, in reply.
We then followed the trail at a brisk pace for eight or nine miles, but
could discover nothing of our missing friend. There seemed no
possibility of ascertaining whether he had proceeded in the direction
in question or not, as the marks made by the horses of the party in the
morning, on their way out, somewhat confused the old trapper. His keen
eye, however, soon detected marks of a horse's hoof in a contrary
direction, over the marks which the horses of the hunting party had
made on their return. These signs were not apparent beyond the spot we
had reached. In which direction they were continued, the night was too
dark to discover.

Feeling that further search before daybreak would be useless, we
resolved to get a few hours' sleep in the meantime; and, dismounting
from our horses, secured them as well as we could, and placing our
saddles on the ground, to serve as pillows, we wrapped our
saddle-cloths round us, and were soon fast asleep. Story and the lad
Horry did first duty as sentinels. While they were on guard I was
wakened by a sharp tug at my leg, and while I was seizing hold of my
rifle, I recognised Story's voice calling me by name. He told me that,
after keeping a sharp look-out for about half-an-hour, he observed
several fires on the hill-sides, apparently about half-a-mile off; he
had been watching them for some time, and at last determined to wake
one of the party.

I went with him outside the little willow copse where we had fixed
ourselves, and true enough there were the fires, belonging, as we
thought, to a camp of Indians--very likely the same who had stolen our
horses and attacked us in the morning. We returned and woke the whole
party; and, a consultation being held, it was decided, as we were well
armed, and as the Indians had shown so much anxiety this morning to get
beyond reach of our weapons, after tasting a few shots, to effect a
surprise, and recover, if possible, our stolen horses. We saddled and
mounted as quickly as possible, and, after riding about a mile in the
direction of the fires, found that we were getting tolerably close to
our enemies. On we went, taking every bush which crackled beneath our
horses' tread for a token of the movements of some Indian scout who had
scented our approach. When within a short distance of the camp-fires we
dismounted, and tied our horses to some trees, leaving them in charge
of the lad Horry, with directions for him to keep his ears well open,
and, in the event of his hearing us retreat from the Indians, to give a
few lusty shouts, so as to let us know where the means of flight wore
to be found.

We advanced cautiously, Malcolm and Bradshaw preceding the main body,
about twenty paces apart. The arrangement was for the five (namely,
Lacosse, Story, the Trapper, Jose, and myself) who composed the main
body, to form a semicircle, of which the two scouts would compose the
extreme points, and so to approach the Indians' camp, on nearing which
we were to fire a volley on them from our rifles, and, wheeling round,
drive our horses off and retreat. We were within two hundred paces of
the camp-fires when we were startled by the report of a rifle. A shrill
whistle followed; but we still advanced, and in a few moments came up
with Malcolm and Bradshaw, the sailor being supported in the arms of
his companion, who called out that the man was shot, and begged me to
look to him. The remainder of the party, hearing this, moved a few
paces forward, levelled their rifles, and were on the eve of firing,
when we were suddenly saluted, in true British vernacular, with an
exclamation of "D---- your eyes, who goes there?" This so startled our
party that it saved the lives, very probably, of the whole camp. They
halted for a moment, and consulted together as to the course to be
adopted. A shot had been fired from the camp, and one of our men
injured. They, therefore, concluded that we had stumbled on the camp of
one of those gangs of ruffians which were known to infest the hills at
the foot of the Sierra Nevada.

At this juncture I ran up to the group with the intelligence that
Bradshaw had been injured by a shot from his own rifle, which had
accidentally gone off, and which circumstance Malcolm had not, in the
first instance, explained. I told my companions that the man was
seriously wounded in the leg; that I had merely bandaged it up with a
handkerchief, and, leaving him in Malcolm's charge, had hastened
forward to let them know the fact, that no more blood might be shed. No
sooner was this explanation given than we heard a loud shout from the
lad Horry, followed, as I thought, by some faint groans; but none of
the others heard them, and I thought I might have been mistaken. It
was concluded that he was merely shouting in accordance with our
instructions, and no further notice was taken of the affair. At that
instant several horses came galloping by at full speed, passing within
a few yards of us, and, following them, we could discern half-a-dozen
mounted Indians. We guessed the truth at once. They had cut the bridles
of our horses, and were driving them away to rejoin their fellows,
which had been stolen from us in the morning. We levelled our rifles
and fired--reloaded, and fired again; and then, in the midst of a
chorus of hallooing and screaming from the camp just before us, and the
loud bellowing of the retreating Indians, started off in pursuit, and
soon succeeded in turning our animals round, the Indians vanishing as
rapidly as they had appeared.

Securing our steeds, we walked them back in the direction of the spot
where we had left Horry, and, after some trouble, succeeded in finding
the exact place, when, to our horror, we found the poor fellow quite
dead, his body covered with blood, and his head and face dreadfully
disfigured. A closer examination showed us that the poor lad, after
being murdered, had been scalped by the savages. "Yes, yes," said the
old trapper, "sure enough his scalp is dangling in the belt of one of
them devils. G----d! I'll send an ounce of lead through the first
red-skin I meet outside them clearings. We'll have vengeance--we will."

As soon as I was a little recovered from the horror which this scene
naturally caused, I returned with the old trapper to the spot where I
had left Malcolm and Bradshaw, hardly expecting, after what I had just
witnessed, to find either of them alive. I was, however, happy in my
fears not being realized. They were both as I had left them. We carried
the wounded man as well as we could between us back to the place where
the remainder of the party were waiting for us. Here we stayed till
daybreak, silent and dejected. For my own part I could have wept. That
rough sailor lad, though under other circumstances I might have looked
down on him with contempt, and not have cared one straw whether he was
dead or alive, had been one of a little society, every member of which
had grown upon me in the rude life we had lived together in this
wilderness, and I felt that I had lost a friend.

The day broke at last, and, after repairing our bridles as well as we
could, we prepared to depart. We wrapped the body of the dead lad in a
blanket, and laid it over the back of his horse to convey it to our
camp, where we might bury it according to the rites of the English
church. I examined the carpenter's leg, and found his hurt was,
fortunately, only a flesh wound. It gave him, nevertheless, great pain
to travel on horseback, but there was no other means of conveying him
to the camp. As we rode slowly along, in the grey light of the morning,
we caught sight of the valley, the scene of our last night's
misfortunes, and saw on the hill-sides two white-tented emigrant
wagons, with the horses quietly grazing down in the bottom. Several of
us rode towards the spot, but found not a soul there. One of last
night's mysteries was explained. The camp we had at first taken to be
an Indian one, and then one of mountain robbers, was merely that of a
few emigrants, who, having crossed the pass in the Sierra Nevada, were,
doubtless, on their way to the Sacramento Valley. In all probability,
alarmed by the extraordinary affair of last night, they had abandoned
their wagons, and sought concealment from the dangers which they
imagined surrounded them. We shouted out the words "Friends,"
"Americans," and other expressions, to give them confidence, if they
were within hearing, but we obtained no reply. We, therefore, hastened
to rejoin the remainder of our party, and in about three hours tune we
reached the camp, cheering ourselves with the thought, as we moved
along, that we should find McPhail had returned. But we were doomed to
disappointment; there were no tidings of him, and sorrowfully did we
set to work to dig poor Horry's grave. After Malcolm had read the
service from the English Prayer-book over him, we sawed off a pine-log,
which was inserted a couple of feet deep in the ground, and on the
upper part, which had been smoothed for that purpose, we carved, in
rude letters, his name, and the date of his death.


The party strengthen their defences
No tidings of McPhail
The trapper goes in search of him
Returns, having met with no success
McPhail makes his appearance accompanied by guides
His adventures while away
Finds he is lost
Loses his rifle
No supper
Loses his horse
No food for three days
Sinks into a stupor
Is discovered by two Indians
Their humane treatment of him
They conduct him by slow marches to the camp.

_August 27th_.--We have passed a heavy but not very profitable week.
Three days of our time have been spent in strengthening our defences,
and we have had some severe labour in felling pine trees and dragging
them to the stockade. We have driven sharpened stakes into the earth,
and, after laying the logs longitudinally within them, have twisted the
lighter boughs and brushwood of the trees in the interstices. Before we
began this task, however, the trapper, Malcolm, and Lacosse started in
search of McPhail, but returned the same night (Sunday) unsuccessful.
In the meantime, my two patients got on favourably, the pure air and
temperate living doing more for the wounds than medical skill could

On Monday, a council was held as to the propriety of sending another
party in search of our missing friend; and, after some discussion, the
trapper started off alone, taking rations with him to last him two or
three days. On Wednesday we set to work again, digging and washing,
confining ourselves, however, to that portion of the stream and to
those canones which were in the vicinity of the camp. Upon the whole,
we made good progress during the week, frequently averaging four ounces
of gold dust and flakes a-day per man. Early on Wednesday the trapper
made his appearance, but he had returned without any tidings of our
missing friend.

It was upon Thursday evening, as we were returning to the camp after a
hard day's work, that we were delighted at perceiving our comrade
McPhail, whom we had given up for lost, making his way towards us,
accompanied by a couple of Indians, fantastically dressed in the
Spanish fashion, the costumes having been probably purchased by the
sale of gold dust lower down the country. Our friend was, of course,
joyfully received, and a special can of pisco punch brewed in honour of
his return.

His adventures since his separation from the party were soon related.
He had turned aside to water his horse at a small rivulet, and, on his
return, waited at the trail for his comrades, whom he conceived to be
still in the rear. After waiting for nearly half-an-hour, he thought
that they must have passed him, and galloped after them in what he
conceived to be the proper trail. After half-an-hour's ride, however,
he found himself utterly at sea--no sign of the camp, or of his
comrades. He mounted several high ridges, which he hoped might command
a view of the Bear Valley; but all he could see was a wilderness of
hills and deep ravines, here and there chequered with fertile bottoms
clumped with pines and oaks. In fact, he grew quite confused, and, to
add to his perplexity, in fording a rapid torrent his horse stumbled,
and was carried off his legs by the strength of the stream, and had to
swim for it. At length they gained the further bank; but our friend
found that in his agitation he had dropped his rifle, which was
irrecoverably gone.

Finding that he had no knowledge of the country about him, he
determined to encamp for the night, and accordingly laid his head on
his saddle, wrapped himself up in his cloak, and went supperless to
sleep. When he awoke in the morning, he found that his horse, which he
had tethered to a neighbouring stunted tree, had strayed away, and
although he followed his trail for some time, he was eventually obliged
to give up the search. The remainder of this and the following day he
wandered about at random, amidst a wild and sterile country, furrowed
with tremendous chasms several hundred feet in depth, and the edge of
which it was necessary to skirt for miles ere a crossing-place could be
found. During this time poor McPhail fared very hardly. He saw numerous
herds of elk, but they bounded past unharmed: he had no rifle. He tried
in vain to find some edible roots, and was at length reduced to the
necessity of chewing grass and the pith of alder trees.

Throughout this period his sufferings were excessive; but as the time
passed and brought no relief, he experienced a sickness and nausea of
the most gnawing and horrible description. He became so weak that he
could hardly stand. At length at sunset, on the third day of his
wanderings, he laid himself down upon a spot of grass, and fell into a
kind of stupor, in the full belief that he would only wake in the
agonies of death. It was then that he was discovered by the two Indians
who brought him to the camp. They behaved with great humanity towards
him, allowing him, however, to eat, first of all, only a few morsels of
the dried meat which they had with them, that he might not harm himself
by over-eating, after such a lengthened fast. As his stomach by degrees
recovered its tone, they permitted him to take further nutriment; and
after encamping with them on that and the following night, he felt
sufficiently recovered to proceed on his journey to this camp. His kind
benefactors understood a few words of Spanish, and he was enabled to
explain to them the part of the country he wished to reach. They
undertook to guide him thither--told him they would arrive there after
having slept once, and by slow marches made their way to Bear Valley,
which they reached on the evening of the second day. McPhail expressed
his surprise on finding that he had wandered no greater distance off.
He showed his gratitude to his guides by presenting them with the two
large holster pistols which he brought with him from Oregon; and on the
following morning they took their departure from the camp.


The Author inclined to return to the coast
Sickness in the camp
Provisions run low
What is to be done with the gold?
Proposal to convey it to the coast
Short rations
Indians visit the camp
The invalids of the party
The conveyance of the gold again discussed
Suspicions began to arise
Captain Sutter's receipt missing
Bradley's explanation
Further discussion about the gold
The matter at last arranged
No chance of rain.

_August 29th_.--We have led a lazy life of it these last few days. The
excitement we have lately undergone has unfitted us for regular labour;
and, besides, one has had altogether a tolerably long spell of toil.
Although, ever since we have been fairly settled here--now about a
month--we have not worked more than from four to five hours daily, and
have taken it by turns to go out on hunting expeditions, still I think
most of us have had enough of it; and were it not that the rainy season
will soon set in, when we shall be compelled to give over work, I
should, for my own part, feel inclined to return to the coast
forthwith. Sickness has begun to show itself in our camp, and we have
three men now laid up: Bradshaw, whose wound, though healing, will
still confine him for many days; Biggs, who has had a severe attack of
fever, but is now recovering fast; and Bowling, who lies inside the
shanty in an almost helpless state. My stock of drugs, too, is nearly
exhausted. Thank God, my own health has altogether been most excellent.
Although the vegetation dying off in the valleys at this time of the
year gives rise to a sort of malaria, still, from the herbage not being
of so rank a character about here as it is in the lower settlements,
the effects are by no means so injurious; besides, the cool air from
the mountains acts as a wholesome check.

Our provisions have run very low; nearly the whole of our flour is
exhausted, and we are forced to live on the produce of our hunting
expeditions. The little flour we have is set apart for the invalids of
the party. Yesterday our hunters came in, after being absent all day,
with only a black-tailed deer and a couple of hares; quails, however,
are tolerably plentiful. Lacosse and the trapper have volunteered to
set off to Sutter's, and bring us up a supply of breadstuffs sufficient
to last us until the sickly season sets in. I believe it is arranged
for them to start off tomorrow.

_September 1st_.--There have been several discussions as to the
prudence of keeping the large quantity of gold we have already procured
in camp, when we are liable to be surprised by the Indians, who for the
sake of it would tomahawk and scalp us all round. It seems to have
spread from tribe to tribe that the yellow earth which the pale faces
are in search of will buy not only beads and buttons and red paint, but
rifles, and charges of powder and ball, scarlet blankets, and the
"strong water," which the Indian "loves, alas! not wisely but too
well." Some are of the opinion that we ought to keep it by us, always
leaving a proper guard on the look-out, until we finally abandon the
digging, when we could return with it to the settlements in a body.
Bradley and Don Luis are rather opposed to this plan, and volunteer to
take the gold themselves to San Francisco or Monterey immediately, and
deliver it into the custody of some merchant there on our joint
account. I don't like this suggestion, for the amount is sufficiently
large to tempt any one to make off with it; besides, it would be
dangerous to send it without a strong guard. To-day we have put
ourselves on short rations, as our stock of provisions is getting very

_September 2nd_.--The camp generally seem to be in favour of Bradley's
proposition. Some of the more timid ones consider that we shall be in
constant danger for the next two months before the rainy season
commences, when we must give over work. It is a great pity that the
gold was not sent down at the time Lacosse and the trapper left.

Three Indians came into the camp last night, belonging, we believe, to
some tribe no great distance off. We gave them a good supper; and after
it was over we took care to make as much display as possible of our
firearms and bullet-pouches, and to see that our horses and mules were
well tethered before we turned in for the night. Story and McPhail were
the first guard. The three Indians wrapped themselves up in their
blankets, and slept just outside the tent; and after a good breakfast
in the morning took their departure, shaking hands with our party all
round, and expressing by other signs their satisfaction at the
treatment they had met with. Biggs is nearly recovered from his attack,
and will commence work again in a couple of days; meanwhile, he is
doing guard duty. Dowling and Bradshaw are still both very ill.

_September 3rd, Sunday_.--Bradley repeated his proposition to-day,
that himself and Don Luis, accompanied by Jose, who was to take charge
of a couple of horses, with packs containing the bulk of the gold,
should start off the following morning. Story was of opinion that they
ought to be attended by a guard as far as the Sacramento Valley; but,
to our surprise, Bradley and Don Luis opposed this suggestion, on the
score that such a precaution was unnecessary.

Yesterday evening I took an opportunity of speaking privately to
Malcolm and McPhail in reference to Bradley's proposition, and also in
reference to his and Don Luis's peremptory dismissal of Story's
suggestion, without even allowing it to be discussed. We then brought a
circumstance to our recollection which had never struck us before,
namely, that neither of us had ever seen Captain Sutter's receipt for
the gold Bradley had deposited in the Captain's charge, and we
determined to bring the matter up the first opportunity. To-day,
therefore, while we were at breakfast, Malcolm asked Bradley if Captain
Sutter had given a receipt for the gold, when he answered "Yes,
certainly;" but, to our surprise, stated that he had had the misfortune
to burn it. He went on to say, that while on his return to Weber's
Creek, during a halt he made, he had struck a light for his cigar, and
had incautiously used the receipt for that purpose. He had mentioned
the matter to Don Luis, he said, the same day he returned. Malcolm,
McPhail, and myself, looked at each other, but we felt bound to believe
Bradley's statement. We arranged, however, during a stroll we made from
the camp, after breakfast was finished, not to agree to Bradley's
proposition in reference to the conveyance of our present stock of
gold, unless one of us three formed one of the party accompanying it.

After dinner, I brought the subject forward by observing, that if it
was intended Bradley's plan should be carried out, Malcolm would desire
to form one of the party; and as an excuse for his going, I stated that
I wished him to get me a supply of drugs at San Francisco, as the
little stock I had brought with me was quite exhausted;--foolish-like,
not thinking at the time that Bradley and Don Luis could have procured
them quite as readily as Malcolm, and that I was therefore giving no
reason at all for his accompanying them. Malcolm, however, came to my
relief, by stating he had business at San Francisco, as he wished to
see the captains of some of the vessels in the harbour there that might
be bound for the Columbia River. Bradley gave Don Luis a side-look, and
said that no ships bound for the Columbia would be found at San
Francisco at this time of the year. Biggs, however, who knew more about
the shipping at that port than any of us, observed there would be; and
rather a warm discussion ensued, which was interrupted by Story and
McPhail both saying to Bradley, that as Malcolm really wanted to go to
San Francisco, they had better go in company. As there could be no
possible objection to this course, it has been finally arranged for
them to start off on the 5th (Tuesday). Jose was to be left behind.

The takings of the past week have been very good, considering that we
have two of our party absent, and three laid up with illness. The sky
has been a good deal overcast to-day; but still, from what I learn,
there is no chance of rain for another month.


The party start for the coast
How the carrying of the gold was arranged
The escort
Character of the country they passed through
Halt at noon
An alarm
A discovery
The escort return, keeping a sharp look-out
A merry evening
The narrative resumed
A loud whistle
"The best part of the gold is lost"
The party are sullen and angry
Malcolm is missing
Don Luis's explanation
A lasso whirls through the air
A horse shot
Malcolm falls to the ground
Bradley fires, and with effect
Retire to cover
A discharge of rifles
The enemy wheel off
Malcolm's horse is missing
Malcolm found to be insensible
More horsemen
Tomas Maria Carillo
Robberies at the mines
Brutal conduct
A litter procured
Malcolm conveyed to a shanty
A kind Californian woman
A volley of inquiries about the gold
"It is the doctor you have to thank for that"
The Author's reflections.

_September 5th_.--This morning, the party bound for the coast started
off as agreed on. We rose before daybreak, breakfasted, and got the
horses in readiness just as the sun showed over the mountain. At my
suggestion, Malcolm had the strongest horse we possessed allotted to
him, as it had been arranged that he should carry the bulk of the gold,
and that Don Luis and Bradley, who were to take as much as they could
carry in their saddle-bags, were to form the guard. This plan was
adopted in preference to having a led horse, which it was thought would
greatly impede their progress, and prevent the party from reaching the
settlements on the Sacramento that night. Bradley and Don Luis each
took with them eighteen pounds weight of gold; Malcolm, who was
unencumbered by anything, and merely carried a brace of pistols in his
belt, took very nearly seventy pounds. To relieve Malcolm's horse as
much as possible, three of us, who were to act as an escort to within a
few miles of the Sacramento Valley, were each to carry fifteen pounds
weight of the gold so far as we went. This escort was composed of
Story, Jose, and myself.

We started off soon after sun rise, amidst the faint cheers of our
invalided companions, and, as it was necessary for the escorting party
to return to the camp that night, it was agreed that we were to retrace
our steps at noon or thereabouts. The commencement of our ride was
through an open country, broken up by boulders of granite and clumps of
dark grey sage trees, when, after ascending some low rocky hills, their
summits crowned with a dense forest of gigantic pines, we entered a
grassy valley, lined with groups of noble cedars, whose spreading
branches offered a most inviting shade. Every now and then, we had to
make our way down the sides of huge chasms which intercepted our
progress, and then to toil slowly up the difficult ascent.

At noon we halted and took shelter from the sun in a little dell with a
gushing spring bubbling up in the midst, and a patch of willows
fringing the banks of the running stream. We scampered our horses down
it, dismounted, and, turning them loose to graze, seated ourselves at
the base of a huge rock of granite. Our wallet of provisions was
opened, and we soon made a hearty meal. Just as we had finished, some
loose earth and a few small stones came tumbling down from above,
knocking every now and then against the projecting ledges of rock in
their descent. We immediately started up, thinking it might be some
grizzly old bear anxious to make a meal of us, and Bradley and Malcolm
scrambled up above to get a shot at him. But he had been too quick for
them, for just as they reached the top, they heard the branches of the
trees crackling in a tuft of underwood opposite, which lay between us
and a deep water-course we had just crossed. As a fatiguing journey was
before them, they did not think it worth while to give chase to the
brute, and were on the point of descending again into the little hollow
where they had left us, when the print of a man's foot caught Bradley's
eye in the soft sandy earth. Several others were noticed close by, none
of which, Bradley protested, had been made by our party, and certainly
not by a bear, but by some sculking Indians, who had been very likely
hovering about us. They hastened to communicate this intelligence to
us, and it was decided that as the party bound for the coast were now
within some few hours' ride of the upper settlements on the Sacramento,
no Indians would be daring enough to attack them, and it would hardly
be worth while for us to accompany them further. We, however, insisted
upon riding a few miles more on the road, which having done, we took
leave of them with many wishes for their safe and speedy return, and
turned our horses' heads round in the direction of the camp.

Feeling rather fidgetty at the incident of the morning, we passed the
spot where it had taken place, keeping an anxious look-out in every
direction, and after a hard ride of several hours, reached the camp
shortly after sundown, glad that we had escaped any disaster. We had a
merry evening of it; a double allowance of whisky was served out, and
we drank our friends' safe arrival and return.

* * * * *

I now sit down for the first time, after a lapse of several weeks, to
resume the continuation of my narrative. Late in the evening of the
5th, while my companions were chatting over the fire, and I was engaged
in writing, we were interrupted on a sudden by a loud whistle, the note
of which I thought I could not be mistaken in. "Sure that's Bradley,"
exclaimed I; the others thought not, and, catching up their rifles,
examined the flints. The whistle, when again repeated, convinced every
one, however, that my first surmise had been correct. In another minute
Bradley galloped up to us, and Don Luis soon followed after; but, to
our astonishment, Malcolm was not of the party. "My friends," exclaimed
Bradley, "a sad disaster; the best part of the gold is gone--lost
beyond a doubt." "Lost!" said I, expecting some treachery on the part
of Bradley and Don Luis; "How? I don't believe it; I never will believe
it." Bradley gave me an angry look, but said nothing.

"Where's Malcolm?" exclaimed I. "Dead by this time, I am afraid,"
replied Bradley. "Good God!" I exclaimed aloud, and involuntarily
muttered to myself, "Then you have murdered him." I noticed Bradley
examined the countenances of the whole party by turns, and, as my eye
followed his, I saw that every one looked sullen and angry. He, too,
evidently saw this, and said nothing more the whole evening. Don Luis,
however, volunteered the following explanation of the mystery.

He informed us that, after we had parted from them, they put their
horses into a quick trot, to escape as soon as possible into a more
agreeable-looking sort of country. They suspected some vagabond Indians
were hovering about, and as the ground they were travelling over
afforded too many opportunities of concealment to gentry of their
character, they were anxious to reach a more open district. Their road
lay, for several miles, over a succession of small hills, intersected
by valleys covered with stunted oak trees, and with here and there a
solitary pine. Just at a point, when they were winding round a ridge of
hills, which they imagined separated them from the Sacramento Valley,
having a small skirting of timber on their left hand, he, Don Luis,
being slightly in advance of Bradley and Malcolm, happened to turn his
head round, when he saw a horseman stealthily emerging from the
thicket, at a point a short distance in their rear. In a very few
moments another horseman joined the first, and before Don Luis could
give an alarm, the second rider, who, it seems, was an Indian, had
risen in his saddle and had flung out his lasso, which, whizzing
through the air true to its aim, descended over Malcolm's head and
shoulders. Don Luis, who saw all this, immediately jumped from his
horse, and, placing his finger on the trigger of his rifle, fired just
as the Indian was galloping away. The ball entered his horse's head,
when the beast was brought to a stand, and, in a second of time, rolled
over with its rider beneath it, just as the noose had tightened, and
Malcolm was being drawn off his horse to the ground. Bradley, who only
knew of the danger they were in by hearing the lasso whirl through the
air, immediately dismounted, and, like Don Luis, sheltered himself
behind his horse, while he took aim and fired. His never-failing rifle
brought down one of their enemies, a swarthy-looking man in the usual
Mexican sombrero, off his horse to the ground. In the twinkling of an
eye they led their horses behind some boulders of granite which
afforded them cover, and from behind which they saw four men come
charging down upon them. But Bradley and Don Luis, skilled in this kind
of warfare, had already stooped down and reloaded. Don Luis was the
first to let fly at the advancing party, but without success. His shot
was answered by a discharge of rifles from the enemy, which whistled
over his and Bradley's heads. Crack went Bradley's rifle again--"And
you would have thought," said Don Luis to us, "that the ball had split
into four pieces, and had given each man a tender touch, for they
wheeled round their horses in an instant, and galloped off, driving
Malcolm's horse before them, which we never saw again."

Don Luis then went on to say, that as soon as they saw the coast was
clear, they left their cover and sought out Malcolm, who was lying on
the ground with the lasso lightly pinioning his arms, and to all
appearance dead. On a closer examination, however, they found that he
still breathed, and also that he had been severely trampled on by some
of the horses of the robbers in their retreat. Bradley pulled out his
bowie-knife and cut the lasso in a few moments, when they tried to
raise him up, but found that the injuries he had sustained prevented
him from standing. He was, in fact, quite insensible. At that moment
they were alarmed by the sound of voices, and looking round they saw a
party of horsemen riding up at full speed from the direction of the
Sacramento. They gave themselves up for lost, but, to their delight,
the new-comers proved to be a party of miners, who hearing so many
rifle-reports in such rapid succession, had immediately hastened to the
spot. Don Luis supposed that the robbers had seen their approach, and
that this, and not the bullet from Bradley's rifle, had been the cause
of the scoundrels' precipitate retreat. They found the Indian's horse,
to the saddle of which the lasso was attached, quite dead. The Indian
himself had managed to crawl off, though doubtless much hurt, as Don
Luis saw the horse roll right over him. The body of the robber shot by
Bradley was found; life was quite extinct, the ball having passed
through his chest in a transverse direction, evidently penetrating the
heart. He was recognised by some of the miners--natives of the
country--as one of the disbanded soldiers of the late Californian army,
by name Tomas Maria Carillo; a man of the very worst character, who had
connected himself with a small band of depredators, whose occupation
was to lie in wait at convenient spots along the roads in the
neighbourhood of the sea' coast, and from thence to pounce upon and
plunder any unfortunate merchant or ranchero that might be passing
unprotected that way. The gang had now evidently abandoned the coast to
try their fortune in the neighbourhood of the mines, and, judging from
the accounts which one of the miners gave of the number of robberies
that had recently taken place about there, their mission had been
eminently successful.

"Our first care," continued Don Luis, "was to see to poor Malcolm, and
our next object was to go in pursuit of the ruffians. On intimating as
much to our new friends, to our surprise they declined to render us any
assistance. Their curiosity, which it seems was the only motive that
brought them towards us, had been satisfied, and I felt disgusted at
the brutality of their conduct when they coolly turned their horses'
heads round, and left us alone with our dying friend, not deigning
further to notice our appeals to them for assistance. No, they must set
to work again, digging and washing, and we might thank ourselves that
their coming up had saved _our_ lives; this was the burthen of their
reply. In their eager pursuit of gold, they had not a moment to spare
for the commonest offices of Christian charity. At length," said Don
Luis, "in answer to my passionate expostulations, backed by the offer
of any reward they might demand--which offer alone gave force to my
words--two of them consented to return in about an hour with a litter
to convey Malcolm to their camp.

"The litter they brought was formed of branches of trees tied together,
and covered thickly over with blankets. On this Malcolm was slowly
borne down the hill-side, until a rude shanty was reached. He was
carried inside, and we were fortunate enough to meet with a kind
Californian woman, who promised to attend on him while we returned here
for your assistance."

In reply to my inquiries, Don Luis said that he thought there were no
bones broken, but poor Malcolm was dreadfully bruised, and his flesh in
parts much lacerated. He feared, however, that he had experienced some
severe internal injuries. As it was utterly impossible for me to have
found my way to him that night, I determined to take a short nap and
hurry to him the following morning.

During Don Luis's recital I did not for one moment think of the gold
which we had lost; all my sympathies were with my poor friend. But, at
the conclusion of Don Luis's narrative, I saw that but few of my
associates participated in my grief. Don Luis was immediately assailed
with inquiries rudely addressed to him in reference to the missing
gold. In reply, he stated that we all knew that Malcolm carried in his
saddle-bags the great bulk of the gold they were conveying to San
Francisco; and that, of course, when the robbers drove off the horse,
the gold went with it. "It is the doctor you have to thank for that,"
growled out Bradley; and though I could not see the matter in this
light, still I could not help thinking of my own distrustful
disposition, which, in reality, had been the cause of making Malcolm a
party to the conveyance of the treasure; this, in fact, had in all
probability sacrificed my friend's life. I thought of his poor wife and
children in Oregon, who would bewailing in vain for his return, which
he, poor follow, had delayed so long, in the hope of going back to them
laden with wealth. Throughout the whole of the night most of the party
remained gathered around the camp-fire-now in sullen silence, and now
expressing their bitter dissatisfaction at the arrangements which had
led to the day's misfortune. And when the first faint light of daybreak
showed over the tall peaks of the snowy mountains, it discovered us
looking haggard and dejected, alike wearied and disgusted with
everything around.


The stock of gold remaining weighed and shared
Squabbling over it
The party separate
The Author and others start off
They meet with Lacosse and the trapper
Lacosse's explanation
Arrive at Sutter's
Purchase flour at eighty-five dollars a barrel
Camps of miners
A gold-washing colony
Encamped for the night
Horses and flour missing in the morning
Visit a big bony American
A hole threatened in their skulls
How quarrels are settled
Lacosse promises to join the party at Sutter's
The march resumes
Arrive at Malcolm's shanty
The doctor prescribes for his patient
Malcolm's first idea of the lasso
The party leave for Sutter's.

We made a hasty meal from our scanty stock of provisions on the morning
of the 6th, and directly it was over--just as I was about saddling my
horse, to start off to visit poor Malcolm--Don Luis informed me that
our companions seemed all to be of opinion that it would be best to
share the stock of gold still remaining at once, when those that
preferred it could make their way to the settlements, and the others
could continue working, if they pleased, on their own account. I had no
objection to offer to this proposition, and the gold was all collected
together and weighed. Bradley undertook the charge of Lacosse's share,
and I was requested to convey Malcolm's to him. Altogether we scraped
up nearly forty-two pounds weight; for, besides the gold which Don Luis
and Bradley had in their saddle-bags, there were a few pounds more
belonging to the general stock. This had to be divided equally, for the
gold we had brought from Weber's Creek had been confided to Malcolm's
charge in a separate bag. It gave exactly four pounds two ounces a
man--value seven hundred dollars. This, with six hundred and fifty
dollars, my share of the gold deposited with Captain Sutter, and the
dust, scales, and lumps, arising from my share of the sale of the
cradles, and the produce at the Mormon diggings, before Lacosse and
Biggs joined us, would amount, in the whole, to over fifteen hundred

The greater part of the morning was taken up with squabbles respecting
the weighing of the gold. I took no part in it, and was content to
receive just what was allotted to me. I called McPhail aside, and asked
him what it was he intended doing. He replied, that if any of the
others would join him, he would start in pursuit of the men who had
plundered us. He was sorry the old trapper was not here, as, with his
assistance, he felt certain the scoundrels might be ferreted out.
Feeling that the journey to poor Malcolm was too dangerous a one to be
attempted alone, I was compelled to wait until I could prevail on some
of the party to join me. Don Luis, Jose, Bradley, McPhail, and myself,
at length arranged to start off. Biggs, who was now quite well,
preferred waiting behind a few days longer. Neither Bradshaw nor
Bowling were sufficiently recovered to travel. Story determined to wait
until they were well enough to accompany him. I hardly liked the notion
of leaving these four men behind--only two, or at most three, of them
able to protect themselves in the event of their being attacked; still
they did not seem to fear the danger: though, even if they had, most of
us had grown so selfish and unaccommodating, that I don't think they
would have met with much sympathy.

It was an hour beyond noon when we were in readiness to start. We took
two of the baggage-horses with us, to carry the tent-poles and
covering, and a few utensils. Our personal baggage was packed on the
horses we rode. Bradley and Don Luis rode in advance, Jose followed
with the baggage-horses, and McPhail and myself brought up the rear. We
had not proceeded more than four miles on the trail when we saw a
couple of horsemen some distance ahead; advancing towards us. As soon
as we were within a couple of hundred yards of each other, we at once
recognised them to be Lacosse and the old trapper. Urging our horses
into a smart trot, we soon arrived alongside of them; and, on inquiring
what it was that had caused them to remain so long at Sutter's, and
also how it was that they had neither the baggage-horses nor,
apparently, any provisions with them, Lacosse gave us this explanation.

He stated that after leaving the camp, they struck the Sacramento River
that night, and succeeded in reaching the upper settlements towards
evening on the following day. The next morning they pursued their
journey and arrived at Sutter's Fort about sundown; they encamped near
here for the night. Flour was as much as eighty-five dollars a-barrel,
and everything in the way of provisions was in the same proportion.
They purchased a stock of flour, and, packing their horses, moved off
the same day. In the evening they encamped some fifteen miles up the
Sacramento, near the mouth of the Feather River, and within a hundred
yards of the spot where the Indian village existed which Captain Sutter
had destroyed; the whole circumstances connected with which we had
already heard from the old trapper. They resumed the journey early on
the following morning, and by the evening had made about twenty-five
miles, when they rested for the night near one of the little camps of
miners, which they found scattered about the valley every few miles
along the route. The next day they pushed forward, and found those
encampments much less numerous--only one or two were passed throughout
the entire day. Just after sundown, however, they saw by the fires up
the hills quite a little colony of gold-washers, which they moved
towards; and, after purchasing some provisions at a store recently
opened there, for which they paid a most exorbitant price, they
securely tethered their horses to stakes they had driven in the ground,
and encamped for the night. They did not think it necessary to keep
watch, but when they awoke in the morning they found the baggage-horses
had been driven off, and their packs stolen. The horses they had been
riding on were just as they had left them over night. The trail-marks
around the camp were too numerous to make anything out of them.

On making inquiries at several of the tents, they were treated in a
very cavalier sort of manner. No one, of course, knew anything about
their horses and packs, and one big bony American even threatened to
put a rifle-ball into them unless they left his shanty. This was rather
too much for them to swallow quietly, so they rated the fellow in round
terms; but he very coolly reached his rifle down from a shelf above
him, and told them that he would give them time to consider whether
they would move off or not while he examined his flint, and if they
were not gone by that time, he would make a hole in each of their
skulls, one after the other. Finding that he was coolly preparing to
carry out his threat, they made their exit, and found some ten or
twelve people gathered together outside. From one of them Lacosse
learnt that this man had shot two people since he had fixed himself at
this spot, and that he was a terror to most of the miners in the camp.
It appears to have been no uncommon thing among them for a man to
settle a quarrel by severely disabling his adversary. There were
several people at work down by the river, with their arms in slings,
who had received serious injuries in quarrels with some of their

They thought it best to escape from such a state of things with as
little delay as possible, and immediately mounted their horses and
pursued their journey. That night they took good care to encamp far
enough off from any of the gold-finding fraternity.

It was now our turn to explain to Lacosse the reason of our return to
the settlements, and the unfortunate circumstances that had led to it.
Ho was disappointed enough at the intelligence. He said that he should
go on to the fort and collect his baggage together, and would, if
possible, join Don Luis, Bradley, and McPhail at Sutter's, and see
whether any plan could be arranged on for recovering our stolen
treasure. The trapper was to accompany him, and it was agreed that
either Bradley or McPhail should await their arrival at Sutter's Fort.

We resumed our journey, and at sundown fixed our tent at the bottom of
a steep hollow, and supped off the moderate rations we had brought with
us from the camp. The night was quite frosty, and when I awoke in the
morning, my limbs were numbed with cold. We prepared our coffee, and
partook of our slight breakfast, then, saddling the horses, resumed our
march. It was late in the evening when we reached the rude shanty to
which poor Malcolm had been conveyed a couple of days since. It was an
anxious moment to me; but I was gratified to find that he had so far
recovered from the injuries he had sustained as to be able to sit up
and to take some little nourishment. He told me that beyond the severe
bruises with which his body was covered, and a wound in the fleshy part
of his leg, he did not think he was otherwise injured. Throughout the
whole of yesterday he had experienced the most violent pains in his
head; but a comfortable sleep into which he had fallen last night had,
to all appearances, entirely deprived him of them. He was troubled
though, he told me, with a sickening sensation, which made him loathe
anything in the shape of food. I at once prescribed such remedies as I
thought necessary to be applied immediately, and left him in charge of
his kind nurse until the morning.

I was at his bedside shortly after the sun rose, and watched by him
until he awoke Another good night's rest had greatly benefited him.
During the day, recurring to his misfortune, he told me that when the
lasso first fell over his shoulders, he fancied for the moment that he
was in the gripe of some wild beast, but immediately he felt himself
drawn from his horse, the truth became apparent to him. He was stunned
by the fall, and lay insensible on the ground, quite unconscious that
the horse of one of the robbers had trampled upon him, as had evidently
been the case.

Don Luis, Bradley, McPhail and Jose left us about noon on their way to
Sutter's Fort. I promised to rejoin them in a few days, if Malcolm so
far recovered as no longer to be in need of my services. I was in great
hopes of such a result, as he showed evident signs of improvement since
I saw him the previous day.


The gold district
Sickness and selfishness
The dead become the prey of the wolf
Malcomb's gradual recovery
The kindness of his nurse
A malaria
Life and property alike insecure
The wealthy gold-finder laid in wait for
Bodies in the river
Gold for a pillow
Brandy at a dollar a-dram
The big bony American again
Sutter's Fort
Intelligence of Lacosse
Intelligence of the robbers
Sweeting's Hotel again
A meeting
"El Capitan"
Desertions from the ships
Andreas' offer to a captain
The first Alcalde gone to the mines
The second Alcalde follows his superior
Start for Monterey in pursuit of Andreas
Board the vessels in port
A deserter arrested
Leave Monterey
Cross the coast range
Meet with civilized Indians
Intelligence of the robbers
Indian horse-stealers
Continue the pursuit
Abandon it and return to Monterey.

I stayed with Malcolm throughout the next few days, and spent a good
part of my time out of doors among the gold-washers, but still I felt
no inclination to take part in their labours. Fever was very prevalent,
and I found that more than two-thirds of the people at this settlement
were unable to move out of their tents. The other third were too
selfish to render them any assistance. The rainy season was close at
hand, when they would have to give over work, but meanwhile they sought
after the gold as though all their hopes of salvation rested on their
success. I was told that deaths were continually taking place, and that
the living comrades of those whose eyes were closed in that last sleep
when "the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest,"
denied the poor corpses of their former friends a few feet of earth for
a grave, and left the bodies exposed for the wolf to prey upon.

In a couple of days Malcolm was sufficiently recovered no longer to
require my assistance. At his instigation, I took my departure towards
Sutter's Fort, where McPhail or Lacosse might perhaps still be waiting
for me. I felt that he was in good hands, and that his kind Californian
nurse and her husband would do all that they could for him. Their kind
treatment of my poor friend offered a striking contrast to the callous
selfishness around.

I journeyed by slow marches along the banks of the Sacramento, passing
several colonies of gold-finders on my way. At noon I halted at one of
these, and loitered some little time round about the camp. The
rapidly-decaying vegetation--here unusually rank--was producing a
malaria, and sickness was doing its ravages; but still the poor
infatuated people, or rather such of them as were not prevented by
positive inability, worked on until they sunk under the toil. Every one
seemed determined to labour as hard as possible for the few weeks left
before the rainy season set in, and the result was, that many of them
met their deaths. There were others, though, who sought to enrich
themselves with the shining gold by a quicker and, perhaps, less
dangerous process than all this weary toil.

According to the accounts I heard, life and property were alike
insecure. The report ran, that as soon as it became known that a man
had amassed a large amount of gold, he was watched and followed about
till an opportunity presented itself of quietly putting him out of the
way. There had been but few known deaths, but the number of persons who
had been missed, and whose own friends even had not thought it worth
while to go in search of them, was very large. In every case the man's
stock of gold was not to be found in his tent; still there was nothing
surprising in this, as every one made a point of carrying his gold
about him, no matter how heavy it might happen to be. One or two dead
bodies had been found floating in the river, which circumstance was
looked upon as indicative of foul play having taken place, as it was
considered that the poorest of the gold-finders carried fully a
sufficient weight of gold about them to cause their bodies to sink to
the bottom of the stream. Open attempts at robbery were rare; it was in
the stealthy night time that thieves prowled about, and, entering the
little tents, occupied by not more than perhaps a couple of miners,
neither of whom, in all probability, felt inclined to keep a weary
watch over their golden treasure, carried off as much of it as they
could lay their hands on. By way of precaution, however, almost every
one slept with their bag of gold underneath their pillow, having a
rifle or revolver within their reach.

That same night I reached the camp of gold-washers, where Lacosse and
the trapper had had their horses and packs of provisions stolen from
them. The robbery, I believe, was committed by men almost on the verge
of want, who thought it a more convenient way of possessing themselves
of a stock of provisions than performing a journey to the lower
settlements for that purpose would have been, and a cheaper way than
purchasing them here, where they run scarce, and where the price of
them is exorbitantly high. Other things are in proportion. Clothing of
any description is hardly to be had at any price, and the majority of
the miners go about in rags. Collected round a rude shanty, where
brandy was being dispensed at a dollar a-dram! I saw a group of ragged
gold-diggers, the greater part of them suffering from fever, paying
this exorbitant price for glass after glass of the fiery spirit, every
drop of which they consumed was only aggravating their illness, and, in
all probability, bringing them one step nearer to their grave.

The big bony American, who treated Lacosse and the trapper in such a
peremptory manner, and who seemed to be the terror of these diggings,
was pointed out to me. I learnt, however, that he had accumulated a
very large amount of gold, over sixteen thousand dollars' worth, it was
said; and his suspicions that parties were lying in wait to plunder him
of it was the cause of his acting as he had done. He thought they only
came to his shanty with an excuse, for the purpose of observing its
weak points, and that no doubt they had a scheme in their heads for
robbing him, either at night time, or while he was absent digging and
washing during the day. The men he had shot, it seems, were common
thieves--one, a deserter from the garrison at Monterey, and the other
belonging to a similar band of robbers to that by which our party had
been attacked, and our gold carried off.

I reached Sutter's Fort the next day, and found it like the most
crowded localities of some of our great cities, with the exception that
the bulk of the people we met with belonged to a totally different
race. I saw Captain Sutter for a few moments, when he informed me that
Mr. Bradley and his party had left a couple of days ago; and that a
gentleman, accompanied by a man named Joe White, who, as the Captain
said, used to trap for him before the gold fever came up, had been
making inquiries at the Fort respecting Mr. Bradley that very day. I at
once saw that this could be no other than Lacosse, and set off to see
if I could meet with him. After some search, I was fortunate enough to
discover him at the newly opened hotel here, where he had intended
stopping for the night. I remained with him and shared his room--a
little box not more than ten feet by twelve, or thereabouts; but we
considered ourselves fortunate in having obtained even that, the place
being tremendously crowded.

I heard from Lacosse that Captain Sutter had informed him that the
leader of the band of desperadoes who had plundered us had been seen
down at the Fort with some of his companions not more than ten days
ago. He was quite sure he was right in the man; for Tomas Maria, who
had been shot, belonged to his gang, and was, in fact, his chief
lieutenant. The name of El Capitan was Andreas Armjo; and Captain
Sutter said he recommended Bradley to make his way to San Francisco,
where, in all probability, he would meet with him, as when he left the
Fort he had taken the road towards the coast.

The next day we started off towards San Francisco, and, from inquiries
made on the road, found that we were on the correct track--Bradley, Don
Luis, McPhail, and Jose, having passed through a day or two previous.
We arrived at the end of our journey without meeting with any
adventures worth noting, and at once made our way to Sweeting's hotel,
glad to find it one of the few houses in this town that were not shut
up. Here we met with our friends, who had been there now nearly two
days, and were then on the point of starting off in pursuit of Andreas
and his comrades. We learned from them, that directly they heard the
important information which Captain Sutter had communicated to them,
they started off in pursuit, but not with any expectation of coming up
with the gentlemen they were in search of before arriving at San
Francisco. They had constant tidings of them all along the route, as El
Capitan was too well known to many a poor ranchero whom he had
plundered of the dollars produced by the sale of his hides, while on
his journey home from the sea-coast.

When they arrived at San Francisco, they made inquiries whether any
ships had recently left the harbour, and were glad to find that there
was not a merchant vessel in port with enough hands on board to weigh
the anchor. Every ship had been more or less deserted by its crews, who
had hastened off for a few weeks' labour at the gold-diggings. They
found, however, that Andreas Armjo and his men had been making
inquiries on board of several of the vessels to ascertain when any of
them left port. On finding none were sufficiently manned to do so,
they offered the captain of one schooner a thousand dollars to land
them at any port in Mexico he pleased, and said they would themselves
help to work the ship. The captain, however, declined the offer.

After receiving this intelligence, they went to the house of the first
alcalde, to consult with him on what steps should be taken to arrest
the robbers, who were then doubtless at some place near the coast. They
found, however, that he had gone to the mines with the rest of the
people, and they made their way to the residence of the second alcalde,
in the hope of being more fortunate; but he too had gone to the mines
with his superior. Further inquiries satisfied them that there was not
an officer of justice left in the town of San Francisco, and they had
therefore determined to make their way forthwith to Monterey, as, in
all probability, the gang would proceed there in the hope of meeting
with a ship.

Lacosse and myself determined to accompany them, and the old trapper
volunteered his services, which were accepted. We obtained fresh horses
from Sweeting, and set off in gallant style, determined to shorten the
distance by hard riding. It was early on Wednesday morning when we
arrived at Monterey; and McPhail and Bradley proceeded to board all the
ships in the bay, while Don Luis, Lacosse, and myself made inquiries
about the town. We soon learnt that Andreas Armjo and his party had been
paying it a visit; and, moreover, one of the gang, who thought he had
disguised himself so as not to be recognised, had been seized as a
deserter from the garrison here. The others were not interfered with,
as there was no specific charge out against them. Our robbery had, of
course, not been heard of here. Don Luis and myself, after having
dispatched Lacosse to communicate this intelligence to Bradley and
McPhail, sought an interview with Colonel Mason, and, on informing him
of the robbery and the circumstances attending it, received from him an
order to see the soldier who was then under arrest. By promises of not
proceeding against him, for any share he might have had in the robbery,
we induced him to confess the whole circumstances connected with it,
and also to inform us of the route intended to be taken by El Capitan
and the two others of the gang. This, it seems, was along the great
Spanish Trail to Santa Fe.

On rejoining our companions, we decided to continue here the remainder
of the day, and to start off the next morning in pursuit. We informed
Colonel Mason of the circumstance, and he stated that he would have
furnished us with a guard to accompany us, if he did not feel certain
that the men would desert to the mines directly they got outside the

At four o'clock the next morning we commenced the journey, each of
us taking a stock of provisions sufficient to last for a fortnight;
although we hoped, and fully expected, that we should be back to
Monterey several days before that time had expired. It was purely a
question of hard riding. Andreas and his party had started, as far
as we could learn, three days in advance of us, and no doubt knew
the track better than the old trapper who had undertaken to
accompany us as guide. He had never penetrated further than the foot
of the Sierra, so that if we were compelled to cross the mountains
we should have to seek for some Indians to guide us on our course.
By pressing our horses hard we succeeded in crossing the hills of
the coast range that night, and encamped some slight way down the
descent, in as sheltered a spot as we could manage to select. The
night was quite frosty, but we made up a blazing fire, and, well
wrapped up in our serapes, slept till morning, without feeling much
inconvenience from the cold. Next day we struck the river of the
lakes, and found it thickly hemmed in with timber along its whole
course. We soon found a fording place, and encamped at night a few
miles from the east bank. The following morning we fell in with some
civilized Indians, who informed us, in answer to our inquiries, that
a party of three whites passed along the trail the evening before
last, and that they would have encamped not far from this spot.

These Indians, Don Luis informed me, had all of them been attached
to the Californian Missions; but, since the downfall of these
establishments, they had moved across the coast range, and had
located themselves in the neighbourhood of the Tule Lakes,
subsisting chiefly on horseflesh. To gratify their appetites,
however, instead of giving chase to the number of wild horses--here
called mustangs--that are scattered over the extensive prairies in
the neighbourhood of the lakes, they adopt a much lazier method of
supplying their larder. This is, to make predatory excursions across
the mountains, and to drive off a large herd of tame horses,
belonging to some poor ranchero, at a time; these they slaughter,
and subsist on as long as the flesh lasts, when they set out again
on a similar expedition. Sometimes they are pursued, and, if
overtaken, butchered forthwith; but, in general, they manage to
escape some little distance into the interior, where they are safe
not to be followed.

We put spurs into our horses, and soon cleared the marshy ground
intervening between us and the Fork, which we forded, and rode for
several miles through a country thickly covered over with oak trees
and intersected by numerous small rivulets. Large herds of elk were
frequently started, and during the whole day their shrill whistle
was continually being heard.

We encamped to-night without having heard anything more of Andreas

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