Then there wuz a time come t’ a determination o’ the status of are compnee an’ comparin’ it t’ other folks an’ what they wuz profiting, against the ex-spenses, which wuz gettin’ har an’ seemin’ t’ be a real threat t’ us all. Now I mean no ill aginst my pardners— they wuz all quite froogull mens an’ didn’t really pull no inordinit ex-spenses or nothin’ lak that. But it were the comin’ o’ the hydrollickers an’ the water compnee was a-gonna do us in, big times.
I reckoned, and Transom an’ MacDavish too, thet ever day we wuz takin’ in from a half-ounce t’ four ounces o’ tailin’s as our net group profit. But we reckoned it aginst the water compnee—see, we did have there the river, thet was one thing. But when the compnees come all the way down the river an’ insisted everone minin’, now had t’ pay inta the common flue they wuz a bildin’ an’ all compnees an’ individjools had t’ spend about forty dollers per munth jes’ t’ git three ares of sluice right, well, we begun t’ see the writin’ on the wall.
That there forty dollers et wuz ekull t’ our daily profits. Sure we still ended up at the end of a munth with about a couple o’ hundered or so. But out o’ that we paid the water compnee forty t’ a hunnert sixty, since Jamjob an’ Suthrun didn’t want t’ hear no nothin’ ‘bout what it really cosseted an’ they wuz pullin’ more water from the flues “cuz they’re thar! Thass why!”
We had so t’ say a seperation o’ the minds now. Us Union men, we decided thet the days o’ the compnee was ackshully numbert now.
I remembers the day the water compnee sent a man round t’ fetch us all inta the scam. It were some shady lil feller, looked t’ me like a Boston fer shore— had hisself a liddle hat on his head twicet as big as might fit, thet hung down an’ made the shades fall over his eyes, like you might not a warnted t’ see t’ begin with, but, nevertheless it wuz this “Mr. Stockton” came round t’ us wal we wuz all hackin’ on boulders an’ settin’ things up fer a big sluice job. Everone had his partition, an’ then Mr. Stockton was a pon us.
“So, I sees you is all a compnee are ye? Wal, we gots a great invessmunt for ye! The Twollomee Water Compnee is offerin’ ever minin’ compnee on ever tribbertary o’ the San Wockeen speshul rights t’ are new sluices come offen are Great Flues! Thass rat, ever compnee on ever tribbertary is a gonna have a claim, since ever tribbertary is a gonna have a flue fer themselves. Why, we are already jes’ fifteen miles away from ye, down in Butcher Pass, an’ building ever so fast, we expeck t’ be har in jes’ another week! Now howabouts you boys take a notion t’ sign on, er git left out o’ the biggest disterbution o’ fair water fer yer sluices as has ever bin?”
MacDavish, he would not bite, at first.
“I gots me this har river, an’ I gots this har shuvil, an’ pistil, see, Mr. whatever-yer-name-is, an’ thar water ets free by God an’ these bullets costid a nickel apiece. You warner arn one the hard way er yewanna shove off right like civilized?”
“Now, now, please, Mr. MacDavish”—
“Howd you know mah name?”
“Well, see, I been to the county reckerds office an’ looked ya all up. I knows all the major officers names o’ ever compnee on the Consumniss!”
“You does, huh?”
MacDavish looked askance lak he seened this sumwars before.
“Yes, I do, and I know thet yer parder Mr. Necletto thar is ackshully a fugitive! The govamint of Italy wants him brought back, did ya know this?”
“Even eff they did, Nicletto is a free Murrican, an;’ that is cuz I sez so.”
MacDavish were gonna get this Stockton feller a hard time eff he could.
“An’ I knows Mr. Jamjob over thar kilt a man in Texas jes’ to see him die, too. You gots some tricky characters har, Mr. MacDavish, I’ll be a-warnin’ ya...”
“We must hold a miner meeting and consider yer flue an all the rest of it, afore we cast are bread on trubbled wafers, Mr. Stock-tin.”
I wuz happy MacDavish did not jes’ enlist us all rat away.
But we did hafta hold our miner’s meetin’, cuz thar wuz no way all o’ us coulda seened it all the same ways. Nicletto, ackshully, he wuz var scairt then people knew he wuz on the lam from his own countree, but MacDavish put the keebosh on his fears.
“Nicletto, good sir, you are here in Californee. We is a free republic an’ thar iz no extra-diction treaties wif the govamint o’ Italy— no sar, not yit. So relax your mind good sir. Thet man was a-countin’ on that scarin’ ye. I tell ye ye are fine so long as ye are friends of mine! And I know yore a good man, an’ can cook a right something speshul too, so ye is a good man.”
“Now to are bizness. Who har wants t’ jump hand an’ foot inta this flue bizness?”
Suthrun raised his hands. He mebbe thought by raisin them both it might count as two votes, but MacDavish wuz no dummy.
“Ez thet all I har? Jes’ Mr Suthrun?”
Jamjob an’ Transom meekly held up thars, too.
“Well now we gots a logjam. Three aginst three ekulls ekull, an’ then so, thar ain’t no motion t’ accipt nor is thar a motion to deny. The presedent then shall take et under advisement. All are welcome t’ submit to me yer reasons why you feels this way, an’ do so in writin’ so I kin take it t’ the water compnee man and say “this ez why— we iz on the fence about yer offer.”
That were not the half of the problem tho. Immejitely, Suthrun brings up the fack thet the drollickers wuz comin’ down the river too, jes’ like the flue wuz. Why the drollickers wuz offerin’ mens an’ thar compnees hunnders of dollers sight unseen fer claims some wuz worked t’ smoke an’ dust already!
“The drollickers, they pay good money,” Suthrun says. “I wonders how we kin hold out et all ennymore or even eff we should. How much we makin per soul heah anyways? We splittin two hunnert dollers six ways ever month an’ ever one is makin about two hunnert a month as it is. Eff we sells out to the drollickers we kin all make thet much an’ more! I say we do it. Then we’ll each have for er five hunnert, en we kin go back t’ Frisco, er back wherever, an’ we’ll have that.”
“Mr. Suthrun, your reasoning soundeth rather specious to me. As president of this compnee, I do hear your concern. But are we not better men for makin’ our two hunnert a month ourselves, rather than, taking the easier money which will give us less, in the long run? The longer we keep are company intact, the longer we’ll each of us have thet two hunnert t’ call are own. Eff we sells out then what? Et wuz all for nothin? I figgers each of us, eff he saves each month a hunnert of thet two, then within a years we’ll all have over a thousand, an’ then maybe we kin think about sellin’ out to drollickers.”
“Wal, mebbe I don’t have the stamna ta last another yar at this. Mebbe Is’e-a gittin’ tard.. Mebbe I’se gittin’ old an’ ain’t got no stomick fer none o’ this back-brakin’ nonsense no mores.”
“Mebbe you are, Mr Suthrun. But the rest of us, consider! An’ if ye did sell out, an’ yer claim is smack en the middle o’ the rest o’ us boys, how d’you think we feel er might ‘bout the Drollickers comin’ en t’ mine yer shar ovair the rest o’ us? What does that do t’ what we have?”
“ I dunno ‘bout that, Mister Davish. But all I knows is, now I’se itchin’ t’ head home t’ Tennessee an’ about ready t’ call it quits. In fact eff you warnts t’ buy me outta here, I would go fer thet today.”
“Well, that’s another notion we’ll save fer our next meetin. Let’s make that a week from now, OK? Give ye time to think about it, and mull it over, and all. I respects yer opinion Mister Suthrun, but ye know this is a democratic Arcadian Mining Compnee, an’ all decisions...”
“I know, I know, et rests a pon the group. Lissen, I’ll jest tell ye, I’m tard o’ the work too. I’d ruther be settin’ in Frisco in a easy char an’ seppin’ on a julep than be breakin stones lak I wuz a nigger en a chain gang. Now I getcha, you might be willin t’ buy me out, an’ you all gotsa think about thet. But speakin’ as me fer me, I’m gittin’ tard of cold wet boots an’ a far ever night jes thinkin’ “someday I’se gonna be rich!” I ain’t rich, an’ I ain’t smilin’ happy either. Thes ez a curset life, t’ be a miner. I’ll tell all the boys back home “keep yer wimmen an’ yer sense an’ doncha go t’ Californee. Yer a fool!”
“Well, ye made something of a name fer yersef while you wuz har, Mr Suthrun. As I said, we’ll tike up th’ mattair next week...”
Thet about broke up the meetin’ sept that Nicletto still looked like a man who’d caught a trace o’ the hangman out on the breeze.
MacDavish looked at me an’ says rather crafty, “Well Pat, I think it will come t’ a voot. Let’s call a compnee meetin’ ternght. Meet at my cabin. Everone must attend!”
“That sounds far, James.”
So it were that, once everone got their evening grub, we all assembled en MacDavish’s cabin t’ talk about the futures en the compnee. Suthrun an’ Jamjob war the first t’ speak up.
“We’re tard of sharing this patch of river with peoples got no durn self respeck an’ thank darkies gots sartin rights. Let us set this all straight. We wants to cash out are shars. Since Cakey gone back to Sandwiches, all o’ us have a even pot—sixty-sixty. We warnt t’ take are one third o’ this har compnee an’ do with et what’s we wish.”
Suthrun bothered with his beard, an’ jammed his fingers in his spenders, right stubborn like.
“Ye cannot remove your stock withoot a voot from th’ othair sharholders, Mester Suthrun. T’ do so we must hold plebskite. Et’s a democracy, lad, an’ ye can’t partic’pate en a democracy with tyrant idears. So we’ll chat another two minits er so on this, an’ then we will voot. Any other comments f’m the sharholders?”
Jamjob takes his turn.
“Yes. My comment is, well, since it’s ben me thet supplies y’all with my Fugitive Justice, I reckon thet y’all must pay me in arrears fer all I have donated fer free so far. Yes, most of y’all paid me on the barrel— I gots no problems with that. But now I want retro-active benefits fer the Christmuss party las’ year, an’ Transom’s birfday, an’ the Statehood party. Y’all concede thet a man’s got a right t’ the fruits of his labor, right? Well, I’m plum tuckered out of bein’ mister hospitality. Y’all pays me, er I leaves here with a big grudge.”
Nicletto spoke up.
“Mester Jamjob, I-a unnerstanna your complain. But what about-a me, eh? It is-a I meks the spaghetti and-a meatball you eat at-a Christmuss dinner! It is I who cook sage hens for-a everone for-a Thanksgeeving, who catch-a the hares, who make-a the beeg supper fer the State-ahood party! Me! Should I have-a nerva to asket everone musset pay me fer alla these? Eh?”
“Whale you kin eff you has a mind to...” Jamjob offered.
“But no! I shall not! Ees insult-a to asket back fer what one givved in free! You know whatta you-a iz, Mester Jamjob?”
“Yes, I am a man not impressed with this operation no longer.”
“You-a izza an INJUN GIVER!”
That were purty much the doggone lowest thing annyone coulda calt Jamjob, but he jes’ sat thar and took it.
Now MacDavish raised up his hand and puts a cease to all of it.
“Now now—men, compnee, sharholders. We are aware o’ we have reached most dangerous impasse. Shall we voot? All in favor of granting t’ Messers Suthrun and Jamjob full recompense o’ their shars an’ absolving them from all future divedend an’ profit from this compnee, raise yer hands.”
Was not a single one of us did not have his hand in the are.
“I reckon then, this ez the unanimous decision. Let it be known henceforth thet Suthrun an’ Jamjob are no longer members of this partnership. Th’ Treasurer will read the accounts, an’ will disperse the proceeds t’ the ex-partners accordingly, immejitly, startin’ now.”
Transom were our Treasurer. He solisittid the account book from MacDavish’s bureau, an’ looked down the rows o’ entries fer the last month.
“As of now, sharholders, the total liquid proceeds of this compnee is Twenty Pounds Four Ounces. Let me do the long division fer a moment. The ackshul figger of our compnee’s worth is Two Hunnert Fifty Six ounces, or Five Thousand One Hunnert Eighty Four dollers. Divided by six that is Fifty-Four ounces fer each man. Suthrun and Jamjob, do all agree to the dispensation?” Transom shut the account book, and smiled.
Agin, were not a one of us but dint have a hand in the are.
“Then let it be so. I shall make the dispensation.”
MacDavish, bein the most prominent member, had him a little safe where he keppit all the stray dust we pulled from the end-sluice each day. As you jes’ heard, by now we had twenty pounds o’ it thar, locked up, an’ now two o’ the party was takin’ off. I reckon weren’t none o’ us others had any botheration ‘bout lettin’ these boys go. After all what is a compnee eff not a organization o’ like mined individjools?
Transom collected the scales from MacDavish’s bureau, an’ we set about t’ weighing out their shars. Each of them had his alligator eye on it, makin’ sure they was not gone to git gypped. Warn’t no digger ounces en Transom’s treasury, no how, regardless.
But weren’t no need fer their worry. We was not about to gyp them, bein’ onnist men.
They took their little bags and filled them full. What was left over, they poured inta their hats, an’ carefully held them t’ their chests.
“Gentlemen, those fifty four ounces t’ aich o’ ye makes Eight Hunnert Sixty Four dollers Troy fer each o’ ye. I am shore ye will find yer ways t’ git rids o’ et somehow, fer good irr evil.”
MacDavish bowed t’ them, an’ they bowed back, an’ you could hear Jamjob complainin’ as they walked away, “I wished it haint had come to that, Suthrun. You know it weren’t all so bad, workin’ with a couple o’ em. I guess I mighta blowned it.”
“I reckon perhaps you done thet, Jamjob, but less go back t’ the cabin an’ think what we’re a gonna do nex’.”
Then MacDavish called us t’ order agin an’ had Transom announce what the new kitty was.
“Gennulmen, we now have One Hunnert Forty Eight ounces held t’ are four names, and thet gives us Three Thousant Four Hunnert an’ Fifty Six dollers Troy. I move we hold these funds en common until such as happens any oth’r man o’ us decided he’s had ‘nuff of this har minin’ bizness.”
Everone agreed. The gold were put back inta the safe, an’ Transom spun the big combo lock like a roolet wheel, an’ satisfied we hed driven the outliers back on the road t’ the inn at Bethlehem, we all shared a bottle of brandy, pulled from MacDavish’s pantry wall, an’ sipped from gilt-edge shot glasses.
As fer Suthrun and Jamjob, we dint see neither of them the next day. We did see ‘em on Sundy, they was carryin’ things over to a mule-cart, an’ they said they wuz headed to Hangtown, an’ up thar, they was shore t’ find whiter men an’ fairer pastures. I was not sad t’ say the lease t’ watch thet cusset mule drivin’ those two jackasses away.
So then it come down to a majer reorganizing of the compnee. On account of it bein’ Sundy, we decidet to hold our reorganizashun meetin on Mundy nat. Agin we meets et MacDavish’s cabin, an’ the four of us passet around a little jar o’ leftover Fugitive Justice, just t’ warsh the bad taste outta our mouths.
MacDavish then he gits down t’ bizniss.
“Gennulmen an’ sharholters. We bein’ the Arcadia Cosmopolitan Mining Compnee, are gathered now t’ reorganize this compnee in the absence of orijnul foundin’ membars. Given thar wars six o’ us, and aich men hae’ a ten foot long claim, the resulting twenty feet of lost claim shall be divided four ways, eekully amongst us all. Do that nae be far, gennulmen?”
Heads nodded, all wuz agree.
“Therefore, aich of us gits an additional five feet added on to our claims, accordin’ to war ye ez on the scale o’ war they wuz. Whoever wuz in the middle, ye gits two ana haffet feet added aich ways. Eff ye ez arn the ends, ye git that added in whichever direction. Eff you...”
He stopped. Nicletto had his hand up.
“Does thissa division MacDavish mean-a thet now we works another a-twenny five percenta more-a too?”
It was hard to tell from his curious expression if Nicletto wanted to work more, er he dint, really. He might warna go either way.
“I will git t’ that, Mester Necletto. Ye still works jes as much as ye likes. We will take a voot now on who will do the duties of the former Jamjob, who took the sluice ends in.”
“I wote it be for me, cause I ees on the end now,” nodded Nicletto.
“Anyone feel enny differnt?” Mac Davish looked about him.
Seein’ no dissent, he nodded and granted the sluice end box ‘sposibilites to Nicletto.
“Now, we’s gonna haffa decide on how we approaches the Water Compnee.”
Everone without a seption rolled thar eyes. The Water Compnee! Weren’t none of us even thought o’ them for a coupla months even. Now the Water Compnee was a-talkin’ ‘bout jackin’ up the rent an’ turnin’ down the water fer the sluice til it got paymints. But the Twolomee an’ Goose Crick Water Monoplee were quick becomin’ the dogginest pest o’ all the miners, even beyond the deleterious malarious skeeters. Now they hed everone up an’ down the river jumpin’, hoppin’, an’ a’skippin’ to their tune. It were not a pleasant one, neither, as ever month the rents jacked up more.
“Each of us will now need to contribute more parportionally t’ the bill, gennulmen, it is my regret to inform you. Thet means we must all collectively chip in at, yes, agin, five percent more what we war.”
“Thet’s Robbery!” yelled Transom.
“Et’s robbery alright, but et’s legal robbery, George.”
“Dang eff I wants t’ arrange fer my own stickup! How much you talkin’?”
“Right now ets hat fift’en dollers per man. An’ et nigh now be eight’en.”
“I’ll pay,” I said. “Aint no percentage of likeable, but durn eff I am gonna git runned off my claim eff I do not pay it.”
“They willa even charge us in winter, no?” asked Nicletto.
“”Yes, Salpietro, they will even charge us in winter. That’s stankin robbery t’ me, too, but eff we don’t want to lose the claims, we gorts t’ pay the piper.”
“Seems to me like this piper can go ‘ hell with the rats!” offered Transom. He were getting rather blitzed from his little jug.
“We can do what we like over winter. Pat, I presume you still have your holes. Any luck with those?”
“Some. I gesset I can keep ya all bizzy with pocket diggins eff ya ainta got some o’ yer own. That can keep us wall the river’s still high. But when she drops agin’...”
“I know,” said MacDavish, holding up his hand again. We knew it were time fer a new pointa order.
“Now gennulmen, we will have the payments of the Water Rents. Each o’ ye, eighteen dollars, please.”
We all scratched and muttered and coughed and rustled about en are dust-pouches, an’ the scale come out, and Transom, bein’ most aggrieved, weighed out his part first, an’ then took the rest o’ us by turns— Me, Nicletto, and finally MacDavish. Everbody done ponied up alright.
When it was done, he took the princely sum an’ secreeted it en another pouch marked “Water Compnee” an’ set thet sack inside the safe. It would be MacDavish drove it up t’ Hangtown on Toosdy.
And when they got back down from Hangtown they had everone’s cash right pleasant t’ hand. Et were decidet thet the money leftover fer the common kitty et would git all us a big feest, Californee style. We decidet since Nicletto war the best cook o’ enny o’ us, he’d git the major chores. Meanwhiles, everone wrote down the things most wanted t’ eat an’ maybe somebody could fetch it all in Sackaminnow— another long trip, but if et were a really good feest we wz gonner have, thet meant we hed t’ do thangs cirreck.
So everone rote down them thangs especial tasty they looked fer an’ et made a big old list thet got delivered t’ Transom on the cupple days before the plan. Et would be on a Sundy, that’s fer shore, cuz on Sundy everone would be tard o’ minin’ an’ tard o’ washin’ an’ tard ‘f this an’ that, an’ all o’ everone t’ best be inna mood fer a feest ennyway.
An’ so it were thet finally thar came to the conclushun a big showdown—et were gonna be us, the minders, aginst the water compnee an’ the drollickers. Seems thet everone in the Gulch now had some kinder steak in things. Folks like Ollerud an’ Teasewater dint, rilly, only thet people keep on comin’ an’ buyin’ stuff from em. Maybe they seemed they had loyalties to us miners, but rilly, eff et were someone with gold to plunk down, dint matter it was a miner or a drollicker for them.
Things wuz differnt fer us miners tho’, speshully the ones like me been har since near the start of this all. But now the drollickers wuz buyin’ up our clems an’ washin’ out the riversides an muddyin up what was all the everones river, all the way downstreams, an’ the gold, well what thar wuz, they wuz not rilly gittin much more than we wuz, t’ a sartin ecks tent, but they wuz gittin everone they could be quite peaked about things. Eff they hed thar way the hole entire river wuz gunna be all thars t’ pillij.
An’ it was then, see, thet the drollickers all decidet t’ git tagether an’ form up a battalion o’ mens t’ come an clean us up. Alla us. In Judas Gulch. Cuz it were mens like MacDavish an’ Transome an’ me wuz makin the most noise, see, an’ MacDavish war a desint organizer of mens an’ hed a way with words. I guess. And foks like Nicletto an’ the Messicans in Hangtown an’ the Injuns up the Mokeylumnee was all fearin’ — here’s are way of livin, n’ hars an end t’ it! We gonna take this? No sir!
There wuz a big minder’s meetin then were gonna take place on the first Sundy en November, when most of the minders had all got their gear offa the river, an’ folks wuz either headin’ to Frisco er Stockton er Sackaminnow soon, er hunkerin’ down war they wuz, cuz when the winter rains came they was gonna raise up the river an’ send everone inta their holes as it wuz.
Minder’s meetin’ was a great success. MacDavish got everone all rileyed up an’ poured drinks fer a lotta the boys over at Olleruds when he were done. But then, dang, maybe about an hour inta that, here come the batallion of drollickers, marchin’ down Main Street inta the town, all their finesest war bonnets and helmits an’ weapons brandished quite boldlee, an’ formed up in ranks, five men acrost, an’ seven er eight rows deep— Forty-five of em prolly, an’ wuz thar thet many minders on hand at Ollarud’s even? One of the boys, I fergit his name, sed he was riding away quick t’ Hangtown an’ comin back with sum Messicans t’ act as reinfarcemints. He lit out out the backdoor, an’ we never seen him, nor any Messicans, after all, en the thick of this, as et turned out anyway.
The drollickers called a halt outside Ollerud’s, an’ ole Ollerud hisself went out thar on the street an’ askited whut wuz the prollim?
The prollim, you see, sez the big fez up front, iz thet the minders o’ the Consumniss is bein’ obstinate obbstackles t’ progress. The drollickers an’ water compnee both iz willin to pay us fair shakes fer our clems. An’ eff we don’t like it, well, we wuz standin’ in the way of God, evolushun, an’ the whole enterprize of ‘Murrican life! We wuz not bein good Chrischuns nor wuz we bein’ desint ‘Murricans.
Seemed I never hears sech malarkey en muh life, but, while this big shot wuz runnin’ his lips I could har the clickin’ o’ men’s six-shooters in the bar, an’ unnerstood mens wuz gittin’ weapons ready fer a real fight.
Cuz what were this drollicker batallion doin’ in the middle of our town ennyhoo if they wuz not har to start an’ pick a fight cuz they wuz all so surely ready fer one?
I dunno who it wuz inside of Ollarud’s took it fer the suggeschun, but it were an obvious no-brainer an’ lickety split, sure ‘nuff, within moments o’ the queschun bein asketid, there wuz boys takin up positions inside the Pewter Eye, near the winders, jest inside the batwing doors, an’ even a cupple o’ boys went upstairs inta Millie’s chambers so they might git a shot down from up above. Word from them later wuz Millie herself got a cupple o’ potshots off, down inta the drollickers, when the heat o’ battle wuz worse.
Thet left another good twenny mens er so, an’ I guess then it wuz Transom led ‘em all out onta the street.
The Drolliker Batallion moved back as eff there wuz a real force o’ oppuzishun in thar face. Well, thar wuz! Et were every white man in Judas Gulch had a thing t’ do on the Consumniss, all out an’ ever man reddy t’ kill if they had t’, t’ defend thar rats.
MacDavish spoke a little low t’ the bigshot drollicker.
“So, you think we miners is en the way o’yer progress? Then sar, please do tell us what yer progress really means. Does ‘t mean that us must all pull up what roots we hae’ made, an’ walk away from the good airth that hae’ given us our sustinince these sev’ral years? Does it mean that now, ye are our masters, an’ ye would be o’so happy t’ keep us hair eff we only do our little pickin’ an’ shuvlin’, whale ye warsh down the mountainsides an’ muddy th’ cricks fer ever’one has tae live down river? Does it mean that nae, yer slag heaps an’ quicksilver pots will supercede all our good onnist handiwork? Why, I heard last week of a friend of mine, who went t’ yer compnees, ye might a knowed his name, Jamjob!”
There wuz a big roar from the miners, cuz weren’t none of us dint remember Jamjob (er his Fugitive Justice). People wuz wavin’ thar hets an’ yellin’:
“I haired Jamjob died f’m a merkery pot, he wuz pizened by yer “magnificent teknolijee!” Merkery vapors sent him over the Styx! What kinder future are we gain’ have, when thar ain’t no reggalatin’ an’ all thar ez ez yer giant moniters eating off the land? We wuz happy an’ we was in hairmony with what we had, we wuz — never mind some minders ain’t got no faith en thar Mother Nature er nothin’ —but we sure gots more of thet than you fellers! Ye wan’ have a scrap? We’ll give ye one!”
Thar wuz a big ruckus amongst all the minders wut wuz buddies with Jamjob. Dead? Dead! An’ it were thet drollicker merkery what doned it? Why tarnation, ‘bout ever man thar thunk himself a friend o’ Jamjob wuz gittin’ madder than adders, an’ I heared a few pistils bein’ cocked.
Transom stepped up behinds MacDavish, an’ he’s whistlin’ some fine old tune, an’ he starts t’ look all loopy at one er two of them drollicker fellers an’ ya kin jes feel everbody’s tamperture goin’ on the rise beyond the thermomitter. Et wuz about as silent as a skunk in a pigeon coop, an’ twicet as nerviss.
An’ then— I don’t have no idear who et wuz, but some feller in the bar let off a shot, an’ soon, thar wuz a real war happenin on the Main Street. Miners wuz hettin’ drollickers with fists, shuvils, even picks! It were bloody.Some of the drollickers hed thought t’ bring guns, an’ then thar wuz more gunfire, but et seemed nobody wuz rilly gittin shot, ‘cept one o’ the fellers up the stairs in Milly’s bordello got hit in the arm with a bulit, an’ had t’ have his arm scraped out with Red Eye an’ a pocket knife down et the bar, later on, when the scrap were all done.
Inside Ollarud’s bar, a cuppla drollickers made thar way in an’ wuz bustin’ stuff up. They took Ole’s great magniffisint nude pitcher of a Yerapeein woman an’ smashed et aginst the glass bottles on the back wall. That were enough t’ piss off Ole bad enuf he brought out his bungbuster an’ smashed one o’ them’s hands with it. Musta broke some fingers, I gess, cuz thet drollicker run off screamin’ inta the street.
Transom an’ MacDavish wuz punchin’ et out with the biggest loudest drollicker meanwhiles, an’ I come over with a char an’ slugged him over the head, an’ thet drollicker fell down, he was kayoed. We then proceedit t’ fight our way down the street, an’ dint stop till we had hit the trail led back t’ our cabins, near the river. It were not easy t’ tell who war winnin this fat, though, cuz seemed everone wuz en it, nobody wuz dyin’, but everone hed some kinder wound regardless.
I spoze this would be the way white men has fats. We ain’t the Chinese nor the Injuns, when we fite et’s kinder fair, an’ everone gits to keep his har on, anyways. But all three of us when we gits t’ the cabins, we locks ourselves en, sets up our rifles, an’ we waits. Nothin’ happent tho an’ we lissened wal the war on the street wound itself down. I went t’ bed, ackshully but all o’ us went back down thar in the mornin t’ see who wuz left. And then the man come back from Hangtown with his cussit “reinfarcemints”— too little, too late. Well. I dint ask no questions how it took so long t’ git jest forteen miles an’ took an all night trip, but I spoze MacDavish askedit him thet.
So I gesset thar weren’t no sartin winner en the big fat en town. Them drollickers got all smashed up an’ pulled a retreat, but then thet musta bin the last o’ the good days, cuz soon after, any minder hed made his stack already started pullin up steaks an’ headin back t’ Frisco. Left mostly us Arcadia boys, some o’ the Chinee and Chillymen, an’ o’ coarse wuz allus the Injuns, tryin’ ta take back what little they could o’ their own territory. I had the idear too, I better git down t’ Stockton, cuz thar were a sack a sugar I’d be needin’ now, an’ I had a sore hankerin fer some real fruit, an’ I heared there were a lot o’ et still in the wearhouses thar.
The water compnee an’ the drollickers, they lost the battle but seems thet they wonned the war. Cuz are compnee wuz not long fer makin’ it on jes’ four mens. An’ we could not be the only ones left on the river, no siree, not surrounded by all them other not-Mericans an’ them flues and merkery sluices makin’ a purty durn mess outta the water an’ all. Wuz a time thet the water still ran clear en the river, but ain’t no way I’d be drinkin thet merkery water now, no sir! Eff I had t’ be a pocket minder an’ jes make my life outta little pockets and pannin’ strate up, well, I knew I could do it.
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