Want to save this letter now that you've found it?
It's easy - just create your own collection of letters after signing up for a free account.
June 5th. - We have laboured hard all day, digging and washing, and with good success. I begin to hope now that I have really laid the foundation of a fortune, and I thank God for it. I have been kicked tolerably well about the world, and the proverb, that a "rolling stone gathers no moss," has, I am sure, been abundantly proved by my case. Now, however, I have a grand chance, and I am resolved that all that industry and perseverance can do shall be done to improve it.
Before starling for work this morning, it was agreed that Josť should act as cook for the day; it being stipulated that he was to have the afternoon to himself for digging. Horry was left in charge of the horses. I worked hard, keeping near Bradley, and conversing with him as I shovelled the gravel into the pail, and stirred it about in the clear pools. We had very fair success, but still we could not but think that this was a poor way of proceeding; besides, I didn't like the back-breaking work of stooping all day. I therefore proposed that we should endeavour to knock up a cradle. The expense for wood would certainly be great, but it would be better to incur it than keep to the present rude and toilsome plan of operation.
We proposed the plan to our comrades at dinner-time, and it was, on the whole, well received. Malcolm and McPhail entered into the notion, and we determined to try whether we could not put forth sufficient carpentering ability to carry it out. The next day was fixed upon for commencing the work.
After dinner we returned to our shovels and pails. In the evening we were anxious to know how much gold we had realised by our labours up to the present time; and, accordingly, I set off to borrow a pair of scales. After entering several tents in vain, I was directed to the Yankee who had the materials for a store, and whose name was Hiram Ensloe. He had several pairs to sell, but none to lend. I asked his prices, and now had, for the first time, a real example of the effects of plenty of gold and scarcity of goods. For a small pair of ordinary brass scales, with a set of troy weights, I paid, on behalf of the party, fifteen dollars, the seller consoling me by the information that in his opinion, if the gold-hunters continued to pour in for a fortnight longer, I would not have got the article for three times the amount.
Furnished with my purchase, I returned to the tent, and the stock of gold dust realised by each man was weighed, and computed at the current rate in which the mercantile transactions of this little colony are reckoned - namely, fourteen dollars each ounce of gold dust. We found that McPhail and Malcolm had been, upon the whole, the most successful, each having obtained nearly two ounces of pure gold dust, valued at twenty-eight dollars. I myself had about twenty-three dollars' worth, and Bradley had twenty-five dollars' worth. An amount which, considerable though it was, we hope greatly to increase as soon as we get our cradle into operation.
During the day, there were numerous arrivals from Sutter's Fort; and in my opinion, these diggings will soon be overcrowded. Two of the new-comers were known to Bradley - one, a Mr. Biggs, a shipping agent from San Francisco; the other, Mr. Lacosse, a French Canadian, who has recently settled in California. They accepted our offer for them to join our party. If this influx of people continues, I think the Yankee with the store will do better than any one; and keeping a shanty will be a far more profitable speculation than handling a shovel or working a cradle. What surprises me is, that in this remote spot, so distant from anything that can be called Law, so much tranquillity prevails under the circumstances. One hears of no deeds of violence, or even dishonesty. In fact, theft would hardly pay. The risk would be more than the advantage; for if any one was detected plundering, he would soon have a rifle-bullet put through him. One thing in favour of good order is, that here there is no unequal distribution of property - no favoured classes. Every man who has a spade or a trowel, and hands to use them, is upon an equality, and can make a fortune with a rapidity hitherto almost unknown in the history of the world.
- J. Tyrwhitt Brooks