The Baldwin Library
R mBFl-JJ orida
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE
"IT'S A NUGGET! SOLID GOLD!'
A TALE OF
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE
JOHN F. CARGILL
JOHN F. CARGILL
A. C. McCLURG AND COMPANY
BY A. C. McCLURG & Co.
I. THE FLASH-MESSAGE 9
1II. A HUNTING TRIP AND WHAT CAME OF IT 27
III. THE "SLIDE"-SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE 42
IV. MEETING-DINNER AT CAMP 6
V. A FOUR-FOOTED CONTORTIONIST-THE
VI. SCIENTIFIC MEASUREMENTS UNDER
VII. NEAL'S "BLOW-UP "-THE SICK STRANGER 97
VIII. RESULT OF DAVE'S ASSAY 114
IX. NEAL'S MINERALOGY 128
X. THE PASSING OF THE SICK MAN, AND ITS
XI. PHIL'S LOST TRAIL-THE AGILE INVALID 152
XII. THE FILING-NEAL DELIVERS AN OPINION 167
XIII. THE HOUSE THAT DAVE BUILT-THE
XIV. HUNTING THE BIG-HORN 194
XV. THE PLUNGE-BATH-THE CAVERN 206
XVI. A CAVE OF WONDERS 215
XVII. THE VICTORS' RETURN 223
XVIII. VOYAGE OF EXPLORATION-NEAL'S PLAN 229
XIX. ARRIVAL OF THE PACK TRAIN 243
XX. THE RAID NEAL'S CHECKMATE 253
XXI. PHIL'S AQUATICS-RESCUE OF BRODIE .269
XXII. DRESS PARADE-THE SHERIFF 278
XXIII. NEAL'S NARRATIVE-THE SENTENCE OF
JUSTICE .. 289
XXIV. A RAFTING EPISODE-KEN'S DISCOVERY 303
XXV. FOUR YEARS LATER-RETURN OF THE
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
"IT'S A NUGGET SOLID GOLD !" .. Frontispiece.
"I'LL GIVE HIM THE FIRST SALUTE." 23
"THE ROCKS SLIPPED FROM BENEATH THEIR FEET." 51
"IN ANOTHER MINUTE HE HAD REACHED THE
SAFETY POINT." 73
"HE MOVED HIS LIPS, BUT THE SOUND WAS
UNINTELLIGIBLE. . 107
"IF THE SAMPLE WAS FAIR THE STUFF RUNS ABOUT
TWENTY-SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS IN GOLD!" 123
"AT THE NOON HOUR A COUNCIL WAS HELD." 147
"SICK MAN INDEED! HE'S AS FULL OF JUMP AS A
"THE START WHICH BRODIE GAVE SHOWED THE
THINNESS OF HIS MASK.". .. 175
"THERE CAME UP FROM THE VALLEY BENEATH A
LONG DISMAL HOWL." 187
"DAVE COULD SEE THE HERD IN FULLEST DETAIL." 203
"HE SHOT DOWNWARD LIKE A FLASH." 211
"NEAL THEN CRAWLED WITHIN." .... 233
"A LONG PROCESSION OF CLEAN-LIMBED MULES." 247
8 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
"THEIR FIRST LESSON IN PRACTICAL MINING." 255
"HE ALMOST DROPPED HIS PAIL IN ASTONISHMENT." 259
"THE SUSPENDED MAN FELL LIKE A LOG." 267
"IT'S A GREAT CATCH YOU'VE MADE" 287
"HE WENT DOWN WITH A GREAT SPLASH." 309
"HE QUICKLY ALIGHTED AND SPRANG TO THE STEPS." 321
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
THE FLASH MESSAGE.
If you have any opinion to offer on this situ-
ation, Ken, I 'm willing to listen, but my legs
are telling me that I can hear better sitting than
standing. Let 's breathe."
Without waiting for a response the speaker
threw himself upon the ground. "Ah! he
ejaculated, with a long deep sigh of pleasure,
" Was n't that a climb, though? This rest is all
the happiness I shall require for a few minutes."
He was a manly looking fellow of about seven-
teen or eighteen years, and his remarks were ad-
dressed to another young man, who, in appear-
ance, seemed a year or two older.
I think I 'll join you, Phil," he replied, as
he took possession of a smooth rock by his side.
" Sancho won't object, I venture to say." There
came another great sigh of relief, the exact
counterpart of the one his companion had given
IO THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
forth, and for a few minutes neither of the
young men spoke again, giving themselves up to
perfect inaction and a dreamy contemplation
of the landscape.
The third member of the party, to whom Ken
had referred as Sancho," was a Mexican
donkey, or burro, bearing a pack about as large
-but possibly not quite as heavy -as himself.
The three together made up a group which, taken
in connection with their surroundings, would
have been thought unusually picturesque, if not
astonishing, could it have been viewed by a per-
son unaccustomed to such things.
The most noteworthy feature was the situa-
tion. This was the rocky and broken summit of a
high mountain, which towered above everything
else around; and the young men were looking
down upon and across scores of peaks, many of
which, taken by themselves, were mountains of
In fact, the three living figures and bundle of
chattels overtopped the last and uppermost of
what had seemed to them, upon approach, to be
a tremendous heap of porphyry rocks of irregu-
lar and confused shapes, as though thrown and
left there by some convulsion.
This appearance, though, was not in all re-
spects real; for the young men, as they neared
THE FLASH MESSAGE.
the top, had noted because they were especially
interested in observing geological formations -
that the rocks, although twisted by former vol-
canic action, still, for the most part, held to their
From where they sat they could see that they
were upon the apex of a great bisected cone which
had only a slight width at the top and sloped
sharply toward the west, and that the whole up-
per half of the east face was as sheer and smooth
as though some Titan had hewn it with his
The party not merely seemed to overhang,
but during the last few hundred feet of their ad-
vance the sensation had been almost that of
floating above, depths so remote that objects
underneath them could not be distinguished in
the dim distance, and the things nearest within
their reach were the vaporous clouds, which, as
they scudded past, tended to create the dreadful
feeling of toppling over into nothingness.
They knew that with only one little stam-
mering step their darting flight through the
underlying blue and shadowy horror, and into
the hereafter, would outdo the eagle in swift-
ness; and yet they had been neither giddy nor
afraid, for such experiences were not new to
12 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
As the senses of our two adventurers became
gradually freed from the strain of weariness, they
awoke to the grandeur of the scene before
With one circular sweep their eyes encom-
passed nearly the entire mountain region of
western Colorado. Both of them were accus-
tomed to rugged scenery, but their natures were
too fine ever to become dulled to the wonders of
a prospect such as this.
The mountain peaks seemed as numberless as
the stars, but with another and a greater glory-
a glory of tint and luster which no language
could express or poet ever sing. From the daz-
zling sheen of the summer sun upon snow-capped
summits, ranging through pearl-gray, opalescent,
amethyst, and ruby-colored masses, thrown into
astonishing contrasts and delicious blendings by
the haziness over the valleys, the iridescence of
forest-tops, the flying cloud, the distant shower
of rain, and the deep black shade of cation or
To the eastward the Saguache Mountains, ab-
ruptly shutting off the plains, lessened the ex-
panse to about fifty miles. But, north, south,
and west, the distances seemed to be without
measure or bound. In the south, the ragged and
dark San Juan Range; more westerly, the Un-
THE FLASH MESSAGE.
compahgre group; while in the extreme west,
blending with blue sky and purple haze,
Far, vague, and dim,"
the Wahsatch Range of Utah, distant more than
two hundred miles, and floating in mid-air, sug-
gested to Ken the lines of Drifting."
North and northwest, the view, stretching to
the border of Wyoming and beyond, embraced,
besides a wilderness of mountains in groups and
singly, wide spaces of brown and amber table-
land with scant vegetation.
Long they gazed in silence, with rapturous
half-intoxicated senses, and with but small con-
sciousness of feature or outline.
But at length their eyes came wandering back
from the dim distance to the details of objects
nearer at hand.
Here were valleys which the crystal atmos-
phere rendered clear in all their fullness: nume-
rous waterfalls glittering like threads of spun
glass, and small lakes which mirrored the green
of forest and the rose-color of overhanging pre-
Nearly two thousand feet beneath them on the
west side was the divide between two rivers: one
flowing south to the Gunnison, the other north-
ward to the Grand, the waters of which were to
14 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
finally meet in their rush through the dark, mys-
terious Catnon of the Colorado. The northerly
stream received its first impulse from the snows of
a high peak just across the intervening gulch,
which seemed to be within stone's-throw, but
was actually four miles away, in a straight line.
From beneath the glistening snow-bank the
new-born stream plunged down the mountain in
a series of hardy leaps, until it reached a level
shelf or bench of perhaps forty or fifty acres
in extent, perched about midway above the
On this lofty platform, apparently safe from
the intrusion of any living creature without wings,
was a lovely small lake surrounded by the ver-
dure of mountain shrubbery and grass.
Suddenly, Phil, whose eyes had for some time
been directed toward this portion of the scene,
broke the silence, exclaiming:
"Good gracious, Ken! look here! Do you see
the shelf in the side of the cliff over yonder? "
You mean the one that has the lake, and
looks like a balcony with a jardiniere on it?"
Yes, that 's it," replied Phil eagerly. "Now
look along the left side. Do you -see two white
spots against the green of the bushes?"
"Well! Of all marvelous things, that's the
THE FLASH MESSAGE.
greatest." murmured Ken in low-voiced aston-
ishment. Is it possible they are tents? "
Good enough! cried Phil in an excited but
somewhat relieved tone. "I wasn't able to
fully trust my own eyes, but since you see them,
it 's settled. Yes, they are tents. Say, where 's
the glass? He sprang to his feet, and running
to the burro, fumbled a moment inside a leather
pouch which was strapped outside the pack; then
quickly returned with a telescope.
Hastily adjusting it, he leveled it across Ken's
shoulder and took a quick alignment and sight.
Then he shouted, "A pair of jacks! Hold on a
minute I believe yes, as sure as you 're a
living man, it 's Neal McInnis. I know him by
his stride and by his white duck trousers.'
"Oh! say, Phil! exclaimed Ken, I think
your imagination is getting the better of you.
The idea of there being a man and two burros in
that place! Why, it's fully twelve or fifteen
hundred feet above the basin, and upwards of a
thousand feet below the summit. It would seem
about as reasonable to talk about seeing them
bowling along on top of that cloud yonder."
All right," laughed Phil. Here, take the
glass and look for yourself. You saw the tents,
did n't you? I've no more idea how they got
there than you have, but there they are, as snug
16 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
and cozy as you please. It 's our boys' camp,
and we have got to find the way to it before dark
to-night, or Sancho won't have much chance to
break his fast. There 's hardly enough for a
grasshopper to eat anywhere on this mountain."
While Phil was talking, Ken, with the glass
leveled over Phil's shoulder, was making a careful
scrutiny of the objects under discussion. At
length he said, It 's surely a camp; tents, bur-
ros, man and all. I believe you are right too,
about it 's being McInnis. But do you suppose
there is another man upon earth besides that
Scotchman who would climb up to such a place
as that to prospect for a mine? And where do
you suppose Dave is?"
He can't be very far away," replied Phil,
" for the reason that he could n't get away, ap-
parently, without falling off the shelf. Say,
Ken, I '11 try to call him, if you agree to wait a
little while and help me."
"Call him! Wait for you! What in the
world are you talking about, Phil? "
Do you remember the helioscope that Dave
and I made and used to experiment with? Well,
I have it right here. I smuggled it into the
pack along with my clothes. You see it does n't
take up any great room, or weigh much," Phil
added by way of apology, "and Dave and I
THE FLASH MESSAGE.
talked it over and agreed to take them along with
us. We thought they might come into good
use. Dave has the mate to it over yonder, and
this is as good a chance as we could possibly
ask to find out whether or not they are of any
Ken glanced up at the sun, took out his
watch, and then said:
"Well, it's not quite twelve o'clock. Neal
has probably just come from the place where
they are at work, and is now getting dinner.
This is a good time to try it on, and if you can
manage to communicate with the boys over there
by means of it, I will forgive you for making
Sancho tote it without my knowledge. I have n't
very much faith in the thing, though."
Well, Ken, I would n't have brought it, and
I would n't ask to try it now, if I were not con-
fident of what can be done with it. I will either
make Dave tell us how to reach their perch, or
throw the apparatus down into the basin here.
Come, we will have to undo the pack."
The "pack"- which was a large, shapeless
bundle done up in a piece of light duck -was
hastily undone, and lifted from Sancho's back to
Spreading it open, Phil selected a flour-sack,
which contained his own personal belongings,
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
and, quickly untying the string, thrust in his arm.
After a moment's fumbling he drew out a woolen
shirt, and, unrolling it, brought to view a small,
flat, wooden box. Opening this he took out a
number of articles or pieces which might have
puzzled any one but himself to state their use.
Please hand me the telescope, Ken," he
Taking the glass, he selected two pieces from
his box that were exactly alike, and fastened
them to the telescope by means of clamps and
set-screws, with which they were fitted. Both
pieces he fixed to one side of the glass, one near
the object end, the other several inches farther
back, and exactly in line with each other. These
were simply round pasteboard disks about four
inches in breadth, with a hole in the center
about an inch in diameter.
Then he took a small mirror about two inches
broad, also fitted with clamps, and with a swivel
arrangement so that it could be moved in any
direction. This he fastened nearest to the eye-
piece of the telescope, and also exactly in line
with the two disks. The mirror had a very small
space in its center, from which the quicksilver had
been scraped, enabling one to peep from the back
of the mirror through the holes in both disks.
Lastly, he fastened another clamp to the cen-
THE FLASH MESSAGE.
ter and under side of the telescope, to which was
attached; by a swivel with an up-and-down
movement, a round brass pin that fitted into a
socket in a flat block of wood. This served as a
There, said Phil, that's all there is to it.
Do you think I can talk to Dave with the thing? "
I have heard of something of the sort, and
I 'm sure you have my best and most earnest
wishes," replied Ken, "but I do not by any
means feel sure of it."
Dave and I have tried it before, although
never at such long range as this. It will work
though, I promise you," said Phil confidently.
Phil then placed his instrument upon a flat,
smooth rock and pointed it carefully toward the
distant tents. After sighting and focusing the
telescope, he next turned the mirror so that it
would reflect the rays of the sun and cast them
upon the center of the pasteboard disk in front.
As the holes in the two disks were in line, and
in the same plane with the telescope, a small,
round, but dazzling reflection was thrown across
the valley, touching the ground near the tents.
Phil now began carefully to manipulate his in-
strument, so as to attract the attention of the
distant man to the reflection. This required
much care and considerable skill, as, at the dis-
20 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
tance to which it was thrown, a slight deflection
of the instrument made- quite a difference in the
direction of the flash.
I shall have to keep my eye to the telescope,
Ken," he said, and if you will please watch the
mirror so as to keep it right with the sun, I think
I shall surprise Neal pretty soon."
For some moments neither of them spoke,
Phil meanwhile shifting his flash ever so slightly
to the right, then to the left, then up, then down;
but it seemed to dodge the man upon all sides.
At last he whispered, "Ah! I hit him then!
He noticed it and looked around." In another
minute he said excitedly, "I 've got him now,
sure. He 's standing up and looking this way.
Get a shirt or a blanket, Ken, and wave it.
Ken seized the nearest article and waved it
back and forth, saying, Do you think he sees
us, Phil? "
I 'm sure he sees something," Phil replied,
"but I guess he has n't quite got his wits col-
lected yet. He 's gone into the tent on the run
now. I '11 bet anything he 's after their glass.
Here he comes again! Yes,- he 's right in the
same spot, and I believe he 's pointing the glass
this way. Keep on waving to him, Ken! Hur-
rah! He's caught on! He's waving his hat
THE FLASH MESSAGE.
now! He sees us, and recognizes us. Now he 's
off, running as fast as he -can go,-out of sight
in the bushes. He's gone after Dave! "
Ken was laughing gleefully, and was quite as
much excited as Phil; but he asked, rather doubt-
fully, Did you really see all that, Phil? I can't
see anything at all over there, except the two
specks of tents."
To which Phil replied with great satisfaction
and importance, "You just wait a few minutes,
and you '11 see. Dave won't hang on to his pick
or shovel very long after Neal gets to him. He
will have to fix the instrument and. do the tele-
graphing, as Neal don't know anything about
the combination. We use the Morse alphabet.
You know, Dave and I both learned to be pretty
fair telegraph-operators, and it was through that
that we got to experimenting with the helioscope.
Here they both come, running hard. Now
Neal is pointing his arm this way, and Dave has
the glass. Their working-place must be right
close at hand. Dave is making a good, careful
survey of us. Are you waving to him, Ken? "
Yes, I 'm giving it to him strong," replied Ken.
"All right, ha, ha! He is capering about
now. Both of them are dancing and waving their
hats. Now I '11 give him the first salute. He
can read my dots and dashes easily with his
22 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
naked eye, but he will have to fix up his instru-
ment to answer me. Here goes. Now don't
disturb me, please."
Phil then took an envelope from his pocket,
and, using it to obscure the reflection from his
mirror, made a rapid succession of "dots of
light by moving it up and down.
Then he began,- a short flash for a dot, and a
long one for a dash. Hello, boys! he (or the
instrument) said; "we got off the trail. Fix
your instrument and tell us how to get over there.
Hurry up! We want to reach there before dark."
Phil now placed his eye to the instrument
again, explaining to Ken, as he did so, what his
flash-message had been.
Do you suppose he read it? asked Ken.
Yes, he 's waving his hat again. He got it
all right. Now he 's gone into the tent. He
will hustle his apparatus together and do some
talking himself, presently."
In a few moments Phil said: Dave is out
again and sitting upon the ground. I fancy he
is putting his helioscope together. Neal is bring-
ing something too; I guess it 's the camp-table,
for Dave to set the instrument on."
For a little while nothing more was said. Then
Phil spoke suddenly: "I believe he is all ready,
and is going to let us have it."
...-L GVR S.
I LL GIVE HIM THE FIRST SALUTE."
THE FLASH MESSAGE.
Immediately there came a brilliant flash. Yes,
here he comes," said Phil; now he 's going to
Then followed a succession of flashes. Then,
more slowly, came the dot-and-dash message,
which Phil spelled out for Ken.
It said: "Glad to see you, fellows. Shake.
Go back down the trail till you come to creek,
and cross to other side. Then follow up creek
to the ice bridge; cross again and keep on up
stream. You can't miss west-side trail, but
steep and rather dangerous. I will meet you
near the bottom. Are you all right?"
To which Phil replied:
Yes, all right. How is your prospect ? Any-
thing worth staying with? Again came Dave's
Yes, rich in gold. We think carries silver
too, but no complete test yet. Can't explain
*now. Come and see. Must get lunch, then
take the trail. Hurry along. Don't stop."
"All right. Au revoir," returned Phil; to
which came back, "So long."
Phil took another glance through the tele-
scope and said:
He 's putting away his glass. We must do
the same and pack up lively." /
Ken, to whom Phil had interpreted the suc-
26 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
cessive messages back and forth, then said:
" Well, Phil, I apologize. Your helioscope is all
right, and has probably saved us much trouble.
I will withhold my sarcasms next time."
"That's all right, Ken," replied Phil, "there
is nothing original about the instrument or its
use. Dave and I happened to have tried it,
Well, it was a happy thought that led you
to bring it up here."
"Yes, I am very glad we did," said Phil.
The boys were meanwhile busily engaged put-
ting the pack into shape. This was speedily ac-
complished; Sancho was turned about, the pack
lifted again into its place, and securely roped to
Then, with one minute's last look around at
the matchless landscape and one brief glance into
the blue depths of the basin beneath them, Ken
shouted, Come, Sancho, get up! Supper,
boy! Grass and water over yonder!
As Sancho belonged to an unemotional race,
he did not plunge or hurry at this cheery saluta-
tion. He groaned, hesitated, then slowly started,
and the small caravan began to pick its rough
and hazardous way over the rocks Ken leading,
the burro following, and Phil bringing up the
A HUNTING TRIP, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.
While Phil and Ken are retracing their steps
toward the valley we will leave them for a mo-
ment, and in a few words explain who they were
and what was the nature of their errand to the
Philip Wentworth's father had been a St.
Louis business man who had gone heavily into
Some five years before our story opens he had
died quite suddenly while returning from the
mountains, where he had been looking up" some
of his interests.
The widow soon learned that the business
affairs of her deceased husband were much in-
volved, and after careful consideration she de-
cided to take up her residence in Denver, as be-
ing more nearly the center of the interests she
was in hopes of preserving.
During the five years since her removal from
St. Louis some of the. investments had turned
out very badly, some were involved in dispute,
28 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
while still others seemed to give promise of fu-
ture value, but she had not found much upon
which she had been able to realize.
However, with Phil's assistance, who, as he
approached manhood, developed excellent busi-
ness ability and judgment, she had been able to
gather together enough to insure tolerable com-
fort for herself and son, so she decided to retain
a few interests, in the hope that their value would
be greater in the course of time.
Phil and Kenneth Carter had been friends from
boyhood, and at school in St. Louis the simi-
larity of their tastes had made the friendship still
stronger. Phil had manifested quite a decided
inclination toward mechanics and engineering,
but his mother had seemed to need his assistance,
and it, therefore became necessary for, him to
leave school before he could accomplish his wish
for a course in engineering.
After removing to Denver he had become
acquainted with David Ballard, who was study-
chemistry and assaying at the school of mines,
and the two boys were at once drawn together as
intimates and friends. Phil had a room at his
mother's home which he used as a workshop,
and here he invited Dave, where together they
worked and talked, giving and exchanging many
ideas of interest and value to both.
A HUNTING TRIP.
What especially attracted Phil to David was
the lad's perfect self-reliance and manliness. He
had spent nearly all his life in the mountains.
His father had been a mechanic in the employ of
one of the large mining companies, and had been
killed by an accident. His mother had died not
long before, thus leaving David and one sister,
two years younger than himself, orphaned and
alone, but not entirely penniless. His father had
accumulated a small fund of savings from his
wages, and the company, after his accidental
death, had bestowed the sum of two thousand
dollars upon each of the children.
But now Dave's independent and manly spirit
asserted itself. Retaining only what he thought
he would need to carry him through his course in
assaying, he conferred the balance of the whole
sum upon his sister Lucy, placed her in the fam-
ily of their aunt in Denver, and insisted that she
have the advantage of a good education.
The summer preceding the one wherein this
narrative opens, Phil received a letter from his
old chum, Ken Carter. It was written from his
father's home in St. Louis, and stated that he
was greatly out of health. Ken had recently fin-
ished his university course and made a beginning
at reading law, which profession he had intended
following; but it was now feared that he had a
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
tendency toward lung weakness, and the family
physician advised a change of climate, recom-
mending a long visit in Colorado, with out-door
Kenneth asked Phil many questions about the
conditions and the climate; whether life was re-
garded as endurable in a place like Denver; and,
in case he should go farther on, into the mountains,
what sort of surroundings he was to expect, etc.
Phil replied that, while he was extremely sorry
for his old chum's ill-health, he would be more
than glad to welcome him to Colorado. He was
certain, he said, that the climate would benefit
him; and as for the life and surroundings, he
might trust him to make it as pleasant for him
as possible. Come and see," he said; I am
sure you will like Colorado, as we all do."
He went, almost at once, and Phil, with his
mother's sanction, asked him to their own home.
As soon as they met, Phil was struck with much
concern for his friend's health. The symptoms,
to him, were plainly consumptive, and he had
become rather expert in his judgment regarding
ailments of invalids, of whom there were great
numbers (particularly consumptives) continually
coming into the state from the East.
The weather in the city during that season
was unusually warm and dry; and, to Phil's so-
A HUNTING TRIP.
licitous eyes, it seemed as though Ken did not
improve. One day, while talking the matter
over with his new friend, Dave Ballard, Phil
asked Dave if he did not think that being in the
mountains and out of doors would be better for
Ken than the city.
It 's the very thing he ought to have," re-
plied Dave. "I would be willing to warrant
that if he will try it, it will bring him around in
a few weeks."
"Then I certainly must get him to try it,"
said Phil. But we shall have to arrange some
sort of scheme or programme in advance, for
Ken seems to dread the rough life of the moun-
It must be the sickness that has taken away
his nerve. It 's not the way he used to be. Say,
Dave, can't we get up some sort of a hunting
I wish we might," said Dave, whose eyes
immediately began to glow with the anticipation
of his beloved mountains. How many persons
do you want in the company? "
O, almost any number of good fellows; I
should think four would make a good party,"
Well, then, let me suggest something," said
Dave. You talk your friend Ken into going,
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
and I will send word to an acquaintance of mine,
a miner and prospector, who has been every-
where, and knows of more good places than any
man in the state. He and my father thought
much of each other, and he will do a good deal
for me. I have 'roughed' it with him already,
and know him to be absolutely reliable in good
weather and bad, and a splendid fellow too.
But there-'s one thing, though," and Dave
began to speak somewhat hesitatingly; do you
suppose, Phil, that we can afford to pay him for
his services as guide and assistant? I know he
is 'broke,' and at present he is working by the
month for one of the mines. I know his dispo-
sition well enough to be certain that he would
like to join us under any circumstances, but I 'm
afraid he will feel, just now, that he can't afford
Phil laughed gaily at Dave's modest way of
urging his friend, and exclaimed: "Pay him?
Well, I should think we would! We will pay him
better wages than he is getting now, and think
ourselves very lucky to get him. I 'd like to
give you a gold medal, too, for speaking of him.
You must remember, Dave, that Ken is rich,
and his people would gladly spend a fortune to
be able to restore his health. As this thing is
being planned for his especial benefit, you will
A HUNTING TRIP.
see, in case it comes off at all, that Ken will in-
sist upon paying for its entire cost. But, to get
the negotiations started off upon a business basis,
I want to say that I will guarantee it all myself.
I am not rich, but I would do it alone if neces-
sary. Of course I shall pay my own expenses
anyhow, and I want to pay yours too, Dave."
"Thank you very much, but you can't have
that pleasure," said Dave firmly. It will not
cost me a great deal, and I shall pay it myself."
"Well, we will arrange that when we come to
the 'clean up,' said Phil. "Now, about this
friend of yours."
"He is of Scotch parents, and his name is
Neal Mclnnis; .a comparatively young man,
although I do not know his precise age, and
he has been knocking about the world, princi-
pally the West, ever since a lad. He seems to
have been almost from end to end of the Rocky
Mountains, and his fund of anecdotes of his per-
sonal experience is remarkable. In many re-
spects he is a typical prospector; I presume you
do not know the class, as I do,--I will tell you
about them some time, -but, in general, I think
he is an exceptional man. He is bright and
witty, honest to a fault, uneducated, but very
intelligent, always good-tempered, and the very
best company imaginable.
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
"I know I have a tendency to be enthusiastic
about Neal, but I am sure that a better man than
he for such an expedition could not be found
in the whole West. He will be great medicine
for Ken. Neal and the mountain life will make
a new man of him in short order."
But are you sure we can get him?" asked
"Yes, I heard from him only lately, and it is
only the pinch of necessity that keeps him where
he is. He longs for the free life of the moun-
tains; and then, like all prospectors, he wants to
accumulate enough money to enable him to
chase up some old idea of a mineral discovery.
He will jump at the chance to go, especially if
we offer him a little more pay than he is now
getting. You go and hunt up Ken, and get
him interested, and I will get a letter off to Neal
Phil lost no time in telling Ken of the pro-
posed hunt, and his interest was aroused with
far less difficulty than had been imagined.
Dave and Phil then went about their prepara-
tions with the greatest enthusiasm, and in a
few days a reply came from Neal Mclnnis say-
ing that he would be very glad to join them.
The outcome of it was,--not to continue to
too great a length the account of previous occur-
A HUNTING TRIP.
rences, -that one morning, about two weeks
later, the expedition left Denver, headed for the
Neal had written that he would meet them at
a given point over the range, and that he had
his own saddle-horse; so that the caravan, after
Neal had joined them, consisted of the three
young men and their guide, and six animals,
two of which were pack-horses.
It will suffice to state that the hunt was a
glorious success. It was a round of pleasure,
without a serious mishap or an unpleasant inci-
dent, from first to last.
Ken's health began to improve from the first
day out; and in a few weeks he was as enthu-
siastic a mountaineer, and as brown, active, and
athletic, as his companions.
Game of all sorts was abundant, and so easily
obtained that the lads quickly settled into a plan
of killing only as their needs required.
As theirs was not a slaughtering expedition,
and their needs were supplied with little effort,
the party devoted the larger part of its time to
wandering hither and thither, obtaining the
highest enjoyment from visiting points of inter-
est, and viewing the scenes of beauty and
grandeur which were upon every hand.
One evening, after having been out for several
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
weeks, all were sitting around their bright camp-
Supper was over, and the boys were having
their usual round of pleasant conversation and
The subject this evening was mines and min-
SKen had remarked to Neal that he saw him
examining the rocks over which their trail led
during the afternoon.
Neal laughed and said: "The habit has got
such a big hold on me that it is the strongest
part of me now, I guess. I found a little piece
of galena 'float,' and was trying to see if there
was any more of it."
"Did you find any more?" asked Ken.
"Yes, I found a little more, but the rock
seems very lean. It did n't seem to me worth
spending any time over. This locality we have
been in for the last few days seems quite barren
of mineral, compared to the district south of
Neal thinks he can never rest contented un-
til he makes a careful examination of a part of
the county that he was in a year ago. He wants
me to turn prospector and go with him next
year," said Dave.
And do you think of doing so? asked Ken.
A HUNTING TRIP.
No, r hardly think Neal will persuade me,"
laughed Dave. The amusement is too expen-
sive for a young man with a career to make, such
as I. There is nobody who would enjoy finding
a good mine any more than I would, though;
and when Neal gets to talking in his positive way
about the.great things that are going to be found
down yonder, I feel as though I would like to
start right off. But when I soberly figure up
the percentage of chances the average person
has of striking anything, my judgment says
Ken then turned to Neal and asked: "What
reason have you, Neal, for supposing that im-
portant discoveries will be made in the district
Dave refers to? "
Well," replied Neal, "I believe it will be
found to be a rich country for two reasons. I
was in there a year ago and I never in my life
saw as much rich float' rock lying around as
there is there. That, I suppose, is the main
thing. But there is something else I look at
that 's very important too. It's high up in the
mountains, with only ragged, towering rocks and
narrow gulches, and although that will make it
hard work to get about, and the summer season
is, of course, very short, still these objections to
the prospector are offset by the fact that what-
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
ever is there must be right in sight, and not
covered up with earth. You will be able to see
and trace tfe veins even at a distance.
There are veins too, and large ones, because
I saw the quartz float' carrying mineral that
came out of them. I am going down there next
summer, sure thing; that is, if I can get enough
together to outfit me and see me through."
I have been trying to persuade Dave to go
with me, for selfish reasons, I suppose. I know
he has got the right kind of stuff in him, and he
is the kind of partner I would like to have. A
man needs a good partner in that sort of country.
But, on the other hand, I surely would n't want
Dave to go with me if I didn't feel that the
chances are first class for striking something
I am sure you mean just what you say,
Neal," said. Ken; "but why didn't you stay
long enough when you were there to make a
careful examination of the country? "
"It was late in the season," replied Neal.
" My provisions were low and the indications
were for an unusually early winter. Snow had
already begun to fall, and if you once saw the
country you would appreciate what it would
mean to be snowed-up there when not prepared
A HUNTING TRIP.
Dave," exclaimed Ken, "why don't you
go with Neal and try it? "
If I were differently situated,"' replied Dave,
" I would do so. I have ambition enough to
carry me there and farther too- but Phil
knows how I am placed."
I think I understand you, Dave, and I hope
you will pardon me for questioning you," said
He became silent for a few minutes, then spoke
Fellows,'' he said, I am going to propose
something. Now, please don't misapprehend my
meaning. This is strictly a business proposition.
Neal has aroused my curiosity and interest in
this locality of his to such an extent that I be-
lieve I would offer myself to him as a chum if I
did n't know in advance that he would reject
me. This is what I am thinking of, Neal. If
Phil and I will agree to outfit and stake you and
Dave, will you give us an interest in what you
find? And, Dave, would you like to join in and
go with Neal under such conditions? "
Neal was the first to reply, and said simply,
" I will, and thank you for the offer. Will you
go, Dave? "
"Yes," said Dave, "upon one condition.
Ken has said it is a business proposition. Very
40 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
well, then, we will be equal partners. Ken and
Phil furnishing the money, you and I will do the
work, and the proceeds of the venture if any
-will be divided equally between the labor and
"Oh! no," said Ken eagerly, "Phil and I
could n't take more than a third between us.
We would even be content with a quarter."
Both Neal and Dave then spoke, insisting that
it should be an equal division.
Up to this time Phil had remained a silent lis-
tener. Now he spoke, saying, I think, Ken, it
will be better to have it as Dave and Neal propose.
I know they will be better satisfied."
So it was arranged upon that basis and carried
out the following year.
Dave and Neal set out in June. It was
arranged that in case they found anything of
value, they were to endeavor to find some means
of sending word to Denver, and that, according
to the nature of the news received, Phil and Ken
would set out to join them.
About the first of August Phil received a brief
letter from Dave. It was dated July 20th, and
read as follows:
DEAR PHIL; We have found something. The
vein is six feet wide- at the surface and broadening
as we go in. Neal is certain that it is high grade
A HUNTING TRIP. 41
in gold. For myself, I can't say, but it looks flat-
tering. Come over, both of you. Bring a portable
assay furnace and re-agents. Take the train to
Bald Eagle, thence by Paradise Valley to Porphyry
Creek. Follow creek northwesterly about twenty
miles to the ice bridge. Cross over and you will
see our trail. We are three miles beyond. Come
soon as possible. Hastily yours, DAVE."
THE "SLIDE"-SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE.
The precarious nature of the ground over
which their course lay made conversation be-
tween the boys, for a time, out of the question.
But in about an hour they reached a broad,
comparatively smooth space which, although
having a downward inclination, enabled Ken to
drop behind the burro and walk beside Phil.
"How, do you suppose," he asked, "we
made such a blunder in missing the trail? "
"It's my fault," replied Phil; "I ought to
have stuck to the plain directions in Dave's let-
ter, and not have strayed away-and made you
follow, too-in a chase after my brilliant and
original idea. It 's all so clear now, that I don't
see how I could have been such a chump. You
noticed that Dave repeated in his flash-message
-what he had told us before in his letter-that
we must keep along up the creek to the 'ice
bridge.' As we did n't see any ice bridge, we
of course, left the creek too soon.
I did n't forget any part of the letter, and was
THE "SLIDE"-SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE. 43
on the lookout for the bridge up to the point
where we turned away from the stream. At that
point, you remember, we came to a steep slope
covered with loose, sliding shale-rock. It did n't
look, to me, as though the route lay across there,
or hardly as though anybody could cross it with
a burro and pack; so I put my wonderful think-
ing-machine to work, and reasoned it out this way.
"'We have n't found the ice bridge,' I said
to myself, 'but the warm weather since Dave's
letter must have melted it away. We will ford
the creek here, and find the trail on the other
"Well, you know, we did find something
that looked a little bit like a trail, and kept on
going. So, here we are. Dave and Neal will
give me a great laugh, I suppose."
"O, well, I would probably have done just
the same thing if I had been leading," said Ken
generously. "That slope with the sliding rock
was a place which no prudent man would be in a
hurry to trifle with, and it was natural for you
to conclude that the trail could n't run across it."
"I am not at all sure you would have made
the same mistake," said Phil, "but you are
rather consoling. There is another long steep
stretch here, and I suppose one of us will have
to take the lead again."
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
"Yes, I will go ahead," responded Ken, and
he at once sprang forward and led the way down
the rugged and winding declivity.
Another hour, or more, passed, during which
there was no further chance for conversation.
Finally Ken stopped, calling out, "Whoa,
Sancho! Then, as Phil came up, he said:
"It is just below here that we crossed the
creek, and yonder, on the other side, is the slide,
which I suppose we will have to creep over,
"Yes,"' said Phil, pausing for a careful scru-
tiny of the broad stretch of sloping mountain
side which was nearly opposite them, on the
other side of the gulch, "from here, it does n't
look very bad, either. I 'm more and more
"I am afraid we will find it to be more diffi-
cult than it appears from this point of view,"
said Ken. "Still, I hope it won't prove very
"Well," exclaimed Phil with energy, "the'
sooner we are about it, the quicker we will know.
If the other boys crossed with their two burros,
it ought to be simple with one. Come, Sancho!
Down you go. Here 's a chance for a drink and
an elegant ice-cold bath."
The creek was as rapid as a mill-race, but not
THE "SLIDE"-SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE. 45
extremely deep nor very broad at this point;
and after a slippery scramble and a cold wetting
all around, they were shortly upon the other side
and climbing the mountain slope.
When at length they reached the place from
whence they had turned aside in the forenoon,
Phil began a careful examination of the ground.
He went some distance down the trail, closely
scrutinizing the ground on each side, above and
below, but he at length returned, saying: "As
far as the indications go, the trail comes squarely
to an end here at the slide. They could n't rise
into the air and fly, so they must have gone
across on foot, eh, Ken? "
'' There 's no doubt about that now, of course,''
replied Ken. They went across right here at
this point, and the reason why we can see no
trail is that the loose shale has shifted and slid
farther down hill since they went over. Possi-
bly it moved as soon as they entered it." Here-
upon Ken advanced a few steps along the slope
among the rocks and debris. No," he said,
returning, "it's most likely that the stones
did n't awake to life and animation until our boys
had passed over and beyond. They could n't
have regarded it as anything to be afraid of,
though, or there would have been something
said about it in the letter Dave wrote."
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
O, of course it can't be anything very danger-
ous," said Phil, somewhat impatiently. "We
are losing time, and unless we lift our feet lively
we may have a night's cold comfort somewhere
along the side of the mountain."
"Yes, there's no use in delaying," returned
Ken; but before we start, Phil, I want to
offer a suggestion. There is a feature about this
place which I think you have n't noticed, nor do
I believe our boys saw it when they passed, be-
cause it 's only to be seen from the other side of
the creek where we have been. I saw it just
before we crossed. This loose sliding stuff is,
apparently, some five or six hundred feet in
width. Now, what I noticed was that the last
half of it, or the side farthest from here, instead
of continuing to slope downward to the bottom
of the gulch, breaks off in an abrupt cliff where
the creek bends inward. When the slide is in
motion the stuff at the opposite side yonder must
make a clean drop of three hundred feet into the
creek and be carried below by the swift current.
The thing for us to do, then, is to try to work
diagonally up hill all the way over, and also to try
and pass from one fixed rock to another. The
largest rocks in sight look to me as if they were
in place. I will go ahead, as before, and you
keep Sancho moving from one rock to another."
THE "SLIDE"--SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE. 47
"All right; no fear but what I '11 keep him
moving. We 're in need of moving. Come."
So they started. For one half the way the
boys' impressions were that it was merely some-
what more unpleasant walking than usual. The
slope was nearly thirty degrees from the hori-
zontal, or about as steep as loose rock could lie
upon, and there was nowhere any firm or secure
footing. Every step was from one flat or irreg-
ular piece of rock to another, and every piece of
rock thus stepped upon invariably slid downward
a trifle. As they were working their way in an
upward direction, so as to overcome the ground
lost through slipping, it was necessarily a most
laborous task, and they were compelled to halt
for breath and strength every few moments. But
the boys could see that they were steadily pro-
gressing, and the stream did not display any ap-
parent tendency to flow; so that Phil was almost
upon the point of calling out to Ken that they
might as well save their strength by moving in a
horizontal instead of an upward direction, when
Ken turned abruptly, saying: "This rock we
are on now is in place; it is a part of the moun-
tain formation, and you see that the rock-stream,
when it flows, is divided here by a sort of island.
The rest of the way is undoubtedly the worst
part, for it not only seems to be a little steeper,
48 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
but it is just below here that the cliff begins.
Let 's take a good breath and make up our minds
to get across with as little stopping to rest as
possible. If it does n't start to flow, we are all
right, of course; but if it does, it is simply a ques-
tion of how quickly we can scramble to the other
side in order to save our necks. Is Sancho's
cinch all right? "
Yes, everything is O. K. Still, I doubt if so
much caution is necessary, for I feel sure now
that we are easily going to make the other half
without any trouble at all," returned Phil.
I hope you are right, Phil," said Ken. I
don't doubt but we shall do it, but a little fore-
thought is n't going to do any harm. Come,
let 's go. If the stuff begins to move, remem-
ber we must keep our footing and keep striking
out for the other side, too, as fast as we can.
Sancho will be the worst trouble."
They had advanced about fifty paces, in the
same order and manner as before, when some-
thing seemed to give way below, and the boys
realized that they were sliding steadily down-
ward. A moment's glance around told them
that the whole mass was in motion, above, be-
low, and around. The noise- which was a com-
bined rattling, grinding, and crushing- quickly
grew into a roar, and Ken's voice, as he turned
THE "SLIDE -SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE. 49
and shouted back at Phil, did not reach him.
Phil could only understand by his gesture and
waving arms that they were to keep moving as
fast as possible toward the point directly oppo-
site them. Phil struck Sancho sharply and re-
peatedly to urge him on, and the faithful little
fellow, -wise and judicious beyond belief,-
without a trace of nervousness or fear, strained
to the fullest to quicken his speed. They were
certainly advancing, but they were also as cer-
tainly sliding with irresistible and constantly in-
creasing speed toward they knew not what.
Suddenly Sancho stumbled and fell. Phil strug-
gled to his assistance, but was himself thrown,
and lay almost helpless until Ken, turning about,
seized Sancho by the head, turned it up hill, and
succeeded in helping him to his feet, Phil follow-
ing. There was no time to loosen the cinch, or
even to cut the pack loose, and nothing to think
of but to get beyond reach of the horrible stream
of grinding porphyry. So they struggled on,
panting, falling again and again, bruised, nearly
spent, but determined. Then Ken, turning
again, pointed below them to a line where every-
thing was broken off and disappearing. Throwing
himself to the rear, he seized Phil's hand and
struggled onward again, leaving the burro be-
hind them. The flat rocks slipped from beneath
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
as their feet struck them; heavy boulders, which
threatened to overwhelm and crush, rolled
past them and against their limbs; now Phil
would fall, now Ken, but they staggered on,
while the resistless chocolate-colored current bore
them steadily downward.
They were gliding nearer to the fearful brink,
and the roar was becoming yet more deafening;
but nearer also was their approach to the fringe
of upright rocks and bushes which formed the
shore of the river that was neither fluid nor solid.
A few steps more, another fall, a battling strug-
gle to rise, a last plunge forward, and Ken's
right hand seized a projecting root firmly im-
bedded in the bank.
Phil was down, and almost fainting as he drew
him up,and then both lay prone upon solid ground.
Not long did they remain thus prostrate. With
their returning breath came renewed anxiety for
Sancho and the pack.
The intrinsic value of the bundle which Sancho
bore was, to the boys, vastly greater than the
poor beast himself, but their humane and gener-
ous instincts were uppermost in an emergency
like this, and their solicitude was chiefly for the
That small but stout-hearted animal had,
meanwhile, been fighting for life in his own pe-
I nr -r A,
"tTHE ROCKS SLIPPED FROM BENEATH THEIR FEET."
THE "SLIDE"-SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE. 53
culiar way. With a methodical, reasoning judg-
ment, in marked contrast to his cousin the
horse (of whose nervous and excitable tempera-
ment he had no great opinion), the overburdened
and weary Sancho, buffeted, bruised, and fre-
quently overturned by the flinty- torrent, but
with senses all alert, kept his plodding way after
When Ken and Phil lay gasping for breath at
the edge of the slide the donkey had been car-
ried farther down, and managed to reach the
margin at a point only a few feet above the brink
of the cataract.
The channel of the rock-flow was defined at
this place by a narrow parallel ridge of rock,
which, on its farther side, fell away sharply tow-
ard the creek.
Sancho managed to drag himself from the mass
of sliding rubbish, and to obtain here a precari-
ous footing, where, shortly, he was discovered
by the boys, who set up a joyful shout.
He looks rather pensive, but seems to be
sound and whole," said Phil. By the way,
Ken, are you hurt?"
No, not to speak of. I guess there must be
a little skin gone from my legs and elbows, that 's
all. How is it with you? "
O, I 'm all right, except my disheveled con-
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
edition and the damage to my wardrobe. I '11
bet, though, that I look as well dressed as you
The boys both joined in a hearty laugh at each
other's forlorn appearance, and suddenly Phil
said: But we have lost a lot of time, and have
got to do.some hard climbing too. You see,
we've been carried a long way below the trail.
We must get Sancho and pull out."
Now, whether it was that their hard experi-
ence had shaken the boys' nerves or perceptions,
they, at any rate, did not realize the full sense
of Sancho's dangerous position, nor of his ex-
hausted state. So that when Ken undertook to
lead him away, the poor burro swayed, made one
or two staggering steps, his foot slipped from the
smooth, slanting rock, and he plunged down the
steep descent toward the creek bed. Ken barely
saved himself from following, and Phil shouted
in horror, but it was all over in a moment, and
Sancho had vanished from sight.
It is to be understood that the burro had
fallen down the side of the dividing ridge farthest
away from the slide. The conformation here
was quite different from that of the cliff over
which the cataract plunged, the elements having
molded the rocky ridge into many and curious
THE "SLIDE"--SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE. 55
There were sharp spurs projecting horizontally,
upright pinnacles quite detached from the ridge
itself, and there were tortuous and steep-sloping
ravines that bore downward toward the creek
bed, which could not itself be seen from above.
Sancho had rolled down one of these narrow
and winding ravines until he disappeared from
view; and as it seemed that the ravine must end
in a precipitous cliff over which he would be
dashed to death, the boys could feel no doubt of
what the end had been, as the creek was two or
three hundred feet below them.
"Poor Sancho," said Phil, almost with tears
in his eyes. It 's cruel, after making such a
plucky fight for life, that he should then lose it
on account of our stupidity."
"Yes," said Ken, "it seems entirely wrong,
and it is a great misfortune to us too. We must
manage somehow to clamber down there and
find him, whether dead or alive, and see what
shape the pack is in. .There is a bare possible
hope that he may be living."
"I fear the hope is bare indeed," replied
Phil, "but we must go, as you say. We will
try to survey the ground from above first."
It took some little time, and the boys had been
trying from every nook and point of vantage to
obtain a view of what lay below them, before
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
Phil at length shouted, "I see him! He is
about half-way down, and lying flat upon a little
ledge about as big as he is."
"Where is he?" asked Ken, who came run-
ning to the point where Phil lay with his body
half overhanging the space below.
"There," said Phil, pointing. "It must have
been a sharp bend in the ravine that snubbed him
and broke his fall, landing him where he is.
He 's still got his pack; but, of course, the poor
little fellow is dead. No! By Jove! He's
alive! yelled Phil. I saw his ears move, and
he raised his head a little! "
"I saw it too!" cried Ken excitedly. "It
seems impossible that he could roll or tumble
down so far and live through it. It's no
stranger, though, than that he should have
stopped at all-either alive or dead-where he
is now; for it looks as though it were all precipice
below him. Come! Let's find a way to get
down there to help him; that is, if there is any
He 's moving again," said Phil. "What do
you suppose he is going to do?"
As it appeared impossible to reach the donkey,
the boys now fell to watching him in silence.
All who are familiar with the characteristics of
the burro-as distinguished from those of the
THE "SLIDE"--SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE. 57
horse-know that, under like circumstances, the
horse would plunge and rear until he had thrown
himself to destruction.
Not so with the wiser and cooler-headed animal.
First, he stretched out his feet as though
cautiously feeling the nature of the ground.
Then, slightly raising his head, he looked about,
as far as he was able. Then, apparently with
the most careful thought and judgment, he
placed each foot where it would find the most
secure holding, and with a good deal of effort
Simultaneously the two boys broke into a
Hurrah for you, Sancho!" "Good boy!"
"We '11 stay with you, old fellow! "
The flow of rock down the slide had about
ceased, and the noise having died away, the
sound of their voices was doubtless borne to
Sancho. At least his ears moved, and he bent
his neck slightly as if listening, but he could not
see whence the shouts came.
"Come, Ken," said Phil, "we must see if
there is a way to get to him, or help him out of
that. We will have to make a roundabout tour,
I suppose. It won't do to go down the same way
he did. We would n't be likely to have the
58 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
"All the same, we must find the quickest way.
The afternoon is wearing along fast," replied
Retracing their way over the point of rocks,
and thence along the hillside, they found that by
turning and zigzagging they were at length able
to reach a point within a few feet of where the
They spoke to him, and he looked at them
with patient eyes from underneath his grizzled,
He seemed to say, "Well, I 've done the best
I can, and you will have to do the rest. I 've
no complaint to make, but you know I did n't
come here of my accord."
I declare! He shames me by looking at me
that way," said Ken. How are we going to
do now, Phil? "
"That's more than I can say just now," re-
plied Phil, "beyond the fact that it is going to
be impossible to get him out of that place to-
night. There are fifteen or twenty feet between
him and ourselves that even we can't cross. It
does n't need any study to see that there 's only
one possible hope for the poor jack. If we had
one or two steel-pointed picks, a drill and ham-
mer, and a little giant-powder, we could fix a
trail so that he could be led away. We are
THE "SLIDE"-SANCHO'S MISADVENTURE. 59
miles from camp, which is the only place they
can be had, and night will soon be here.
It 's almost heartbreaking to think of such a
thing; but we simply must leave him to take
care of himself until to-morrow, and go on to
0 Phil! said Ken, and there was a tremble
in his voice, "the poor little beast has had
nothing to eat since morning; he must be worn
out with fatigue, to say nothing of the knocks
and bruises, and now to talk of his standing
in that cramped position, with the heavy pack
on his back, until to-morrow! Why, it 's fright-
"Yes, yes, Ken, I know it. It would be in-
human if there were any possible way for us to
help it. But is there? You can see for yourself
there is n't. So we must just go on, and keep
our thoughts rather upon some way of helping
him in the morning, than on the pitifulness of it
all. Come! Let's go."
I believe I will stay here with him until you
get back in the morning," said Ken.
"O, come now; talk sense!" retorted Phil
rather sharply. "You will do no such thing.
Or, at least, if you try it on, you will compel me
to stay too; for I shall not leave you. You are
about worn out yourself. You would get to
6o THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
dozing and roll down the mountain before morn-
ing. Besides, the burro will be no safer with
than without you, and I guarantee he will pull
through it. Come! We must hurry."
Oh! you 're right, Phil, of course; but it 's
mighty tough," said Ken. So they turned and
left Sancho without looking back.
The donkey watched them until, just as they
were disappearing around a bend in the cliff, he
gave voice to one of his hee-hawing, deep, long-
drawn brays, which to the boys was both melan-
choly and reproachful.
MEETING-DINNER AT CAMP.
The boys had no difficulty in locating the trail
where it emerged from the rock-slide, and fol-
lowed it northward in silence and with rapid
They were so anxious and distraught that even
the remarkable features of the region through
which they were passing, which ordinarily would
have aroused their keenest interest, were scarcely
They were passing "through" in a literal
sense, as their trail now fairly clung to the side
of the cliff, which towered overhead to an un-
known height, and almost directly beneath them
flashed the thread of the creek, while across at
their left the ragged, frowning, gray precipice
seemed to lift itself into the very clouds.
The cation had narrowed and closed in upon
the creek until it almost seemed as though the
sole illumination were merely the reflected rays
from the glistening whitecaps of the mountains.
Once only did Ken warm to something like
62 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
enthusiasm. It was when, after rounding a
curve, the brilliant view of a waterfall burst upon
them. It left the snow bank upon the opposite
mountain, apparently as a single line of silver,
broadening as it descended into an exquisite lace-
like pattern, then merging into thin bluish veil-
ing, until at their level it became light, broadly
Half-way toward the top, upon an almost im-
perceptible ledge, a family group of big-horned
cimarrons or mountain sheep looked with
grave curiosity down upon them, and without a
trace of fear.
It is immense; it is grandly impressive; but
just now my spirits will not rise to a height which
will permit me to say beautiful," said Ken.
No, we must take another day for that,"
Another half-hour, and the cation had percep-
tibly widened, while the trail had approached
more nearly to the bottom of the gulch. Not
that their way had been a descending one; rather
the bed of the creek had been rising to them as
they advanced toward its source.
A short distance farther, a few more turns and
twists, and Phil suddenly said: "I believe we
have found the ice bridge at last. It must be
that great body of snow and ice up yonder, which
MEETING-DINNER AT CAMP.
stretches clear across the creek. It came down
as an avalanche from the mountain, of course,-
there 's its path now,-and the creek has tun-
neled its way underneath it."
Yes, Phil, that's interesting; but who is the
man there? asked Ken.
"Where? O, I see! sitting down! Why, it
must be Dave! Phil put his thumb and fore-
finger to his lips and blew a shrill whistle. In-
stantly the figure sprang to its feet, gazed at
them an instant, then answered with a shout, and
came running toward them across the bridge.
Phil shouted in return, and likewise broke into
a run, closely followed by Ken.
At the meeting, and first warm hand-shaking,
all began to talk at once. Just like women,"
laughed Dave. But, say, boys, what's hap-
pened? Where 's your burro and pack? "
You tell it, Phil," said Ken. Whereupon
Phil rapidly recounted their rough experience,
and explained the present whereabouts of San-
cho. Why, we had no trouble there," cried
Dave, and had no thought of its being any more
dangerous than a score of other places. They
are all comparatively dangerous, for that matter.
Strange that the slide should have let us pass in
safety and then treat you so! "
Yes, it's curious," said Ken; "but I sup-
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
pose there must be a natural cause behind it,
somewhere. I presume the only thing that
caused us to suspect danger in advance came
through missing your trail, which had been plain
enough before, but vanished there completely."
What do you think, Dave? is there a possi-
bility of doing anything for the burro to-night? "
That 's out of the question," replied Dave.
"It's at least four miles back, and three from
here to camp. We can make camp before dark,
but nothing more. I would join you at any risk,
if there was a show at all. I don't envy Sancho
the night he will have to pass, but I know enough
about the endurance of the average jack to assure
me that we will find him right there to-morrow.
What sort of shape do you fancy the pack is in?
I am anxious about that assay outfit."
It 's not easy to say, but I think it will be
all right. Everything breakable was well
packed," said Phil.
Well, 'march' is the word now. If you are
not already hungry, you will be before we get
supper. Neal will have it all ready when we ar-
rive, though; you may be sure of that."
So saying, Dave started up the trail and Phil
and Ken followed.
As it was all uphill work, and the climbing
MEETING-DINNER AT CAMP.
even more laborious, in some respects, than that
which had gone before, Ken and Phil were more
than thankful when Dave at length called cheer-
fully back to them, Here we are, and just in
time too. It will be dark in a very few minutes.
That 's why I rushed you up here at such a pace.
You saw enough of the trail to realize what it
would be in the night-time; and I think none of
us needed that additional experience to-day.
We won't bother about any of the landscape
features until to-morrow. Fine as they are, they.
must bide their time."
The others made but faint response to Dave's
pleasantries, being, in truth, so far spent with
weariness and hunger that their senses 'were
somewhat blunted. This fact was quite evident
to Dave, who therefore, led the way directly to
the camp, first announcing their arrival to Neal
by a loud whistle.
Neal quickly answered, and in a minute more
they were all exchanging- greetings.
The first thing now," said Dave, is sup-
per. The boys are so starved and winded that
they must be excused from all social duty until
they have a chance to renew themselves."
All right, boys,"' returned Neal in his hearty,
pleasant voice, supper is just about ready, all
but the coffee, and it will be better for you to
66 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
rest a bit before eating, anyway. The more
careful people are about eating, 'specially when
they 're very tired, the better for digestion and
sleep. Not that I 'd preach against eating a
plenty. When you 're hungry, eat to the end of
your appetite, I say, but use a little judgment
how you eat. No danger of overeating here to-
night, I guess. Variety too limited. Dave,
you'll show the boys to the toilet-room, won't
you, in case they want to brush up?"
SKen and Phil meanwhile had thrown them-
selves upon the blankets inside one of the tents,
whither Dave had conducted them.
The tent-flaps were thrown up to admit the
light and warmth of the fire, just in front, where
Neal was superintending the supper.
The rest to their limbs was so grateful, the
scene so pleasant and familiar to them, the sound
of Neal's voice so agreeable, and the odor of the
supper so appetizing, that they both forgot and
temporarily threw off their weight of care.
After resting a few minutes, Phil arose, saying:
I think I '11 try the water-cure that Neal speaks
of. What do you say, Ken? By the way, there
can't be any scarcity of water here, to judge
from the lake and the waterfall we saw from the
other side. Is that the sound of the fall we hear
MEETING-DINNER AT CAMP. 67
"Yes, that is music we always have," replied
Dave; we think it is rather pleasant."
I 'm sure I should never grow tired of it,"
"Supper's ready," called Neal; and, hastily
completing their toilets, the boys assembled by
Take the bench at the table there, boys,"
said Neal. Sit down, Dave, I '11 do the waiting."
"Why, this is genuine luxury!" exclaimed
Phil, as they seated themselves at the open-air
table facing the camp-fire.
What? The table and seats? 0, well, I think
a little labor of that sort is well spent. There 's
no sense in making a circus performance of your
meals, when you can just as well do them up
Help yourselves to the meat and biscuits.
Here 's mutton-chops and here 's bacon. I 'm
glad you came just when you did, or my biscuits
might have spoiled. I guess they 'l1 do. Will
you have some beans, Ken? We have n't any
jelly to go with the mutton, but here 's some
prime stewed shad-berries. Have sugar in your
coffee, Phil? There is cold bread if you rather
have it than the biscuits."
What a glorious supper! cried Ken. But
what do you mean by mutton, Neal?"
68 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
Wild mutton. It's mountain sheep," said
Neal. Dave got him last week."
Is n't it delicious? I never ate venison to
compare with it. There must be a good many
about here. We saw some to-day. You re-
member it was one of my ambitions last summer
to get one; but although I shot almost every-
thing else, I did n't get sight of a sheep. Say,
Phil, did you ever eat as fine a supper as this
"Not so far as I can remember," answered
Phil. "I knew you were an artist at cookery,
Neal, but this is immense."
Hold on there, fellows; you will make Neal
vain! interposed Dave.
"Yes, I s'pose you will be likely to stay here
some time, and you ought to be careful what you
say. Maybe you '11 want to take it back' after
a while," laughed Neal. Have some more of
the mutton? No? Well, you must have some
dessert; it 's plain, but wholesome. Boiled rice
served with a fruit sauce. Call it riz aux pommes
if you think the name will dovetail in with the
dried apple sauce, the tin plates, and iron spoons."
It 's delicious," said Ken, as he tasted it.
" A very proper ending to a meal good enough
for an epicure."
"Neal," said Phil, as he finished and rested
MEETING-DINNER AT CAMP.
from his exertions, I feel like another, person;
and I owe you a heavy debt that I will try and
pay sometime, when you teach me how to cook."
' All right, Phil; I '11 be easy with you about
the debt," replied Neal. Now, I want credit
for not asking a single question about your trip,
and I 'm dying to hear. Let 's have the story."
"The boys had hard luck, Neal," interposed
Dave. They are afraid they 've lost their jack,
and are all broken up over it. I think, myself,
that we will fetch him out all right; but we are
going to strike out at daybreak with one of our
animals, some tools and powder, a water-bucket,
a hundred feet of line, and a little bunch of grass.
We 've got to construct a high-line road for
Sancho's exclusive use. We '11 give you the de-
tails after we get back. I must get everything
All right, Davey boy, I'll help you soon as
I get these supper things out of the way and the
kinks all settled for an early breakfast. You '11
want me to go with you?"'
No, we three will go. It will be better not
to leave the camp alone, considering the value
of our find.' "
"Had n't I better go in your place, then?"
No, I will go," Dave replied.
A FOUR-FOOTED CONTORTIONIST-THE RESCUE.
The party of three, with burro, tools, and
paraphernalia, was upon its way down the trail
long before the sun emerged from behind the
maroon-colored mountains to the eastward, and
before nine o'clock had arrived at the place
where Phil and Ken left poor Sancho.
The anxiety of each was so great that no word
was spoken as to their hopes and fears.
Ken led the way down the zigzag descent from
the trail, and Dave and Phil followed more
slowly with the burro.
Ken, with knitted brows and impatient foot-
steps, had advanced until hidden from the sight
of the others, and coming at last to the final turn
from whence the looked-for animal became visi-
ble, he hardly dared believe his eyes.
There stood Sancho, looking scarcely more
drooping and unsteady than when he arose to his
feet the afternoon before.
"Bless your heart, Sancho! I 'm glad to see
you, old boy! he shouted.
A FOUR-FOOTED CONTORTIONIST.
Whereupon Sancho bent his long ears, scanned
him an instant, and gave forth the same plaintive
bray as his parting salute of the evening before.
This was heard by the party in the rear, who
gave answering shouts. Even their burro re-
sponded in a sympathetic and kindred vein.
Reaching the farthest limit of approach, all
hands set to work without losing a minute of
time. The rock being shaly and partly decom-
posed, a level pathway of two or more feet in
width was speedily wrought out from the smooth,
slanting surface. Only one small charge of
powder was necessary, all the rest of the work
being accomplished with their sharp steel picks.
In less than an hour's time Ken was across
the space and had a rope around Sancho's neck.
It needed but a single word of command to the
donkey to start him, and in another minute he
had reached the safety-point, and the boys were
unroping the pack.
Dave, however, thoughtful as always, -had
hastily tied his long line to a bucket, and creep-
ing to the verge of the cliff, dropped it into the
creek below. A minute more it reappeared
filled to the brim with ice-cold sparkling water,
and Sancho's troubles, for the time being, were
After placing the bunch of green grass before
72 THE BIG HORN TREASURE.
the hungry donkey, Dave, with the assistance of
the others, turned his attention to the contents
of the pack.
The object of his greatest solicitude was the
assay furnace and its accompanying re-agents.
After a careful scrutiny, he announced with
great satisfaction, that there was no damage to
anything except a few scorifiers and crucibles,
which were broken.
There will still be more than enough for our
needs," he said. "I was especially anxious
about the muffle; but you had it placed inside the
furnace, as it should be, and it has come through
without a scratch. If you ever attempt to relate
this adventure to anybody outside the mountains,
don't expect to be believed. Sancho would
make your fortunes as trick-donkey in a circus.
He is a wizard."*
The boys laughed in light-hearted amusement
over Dave's speech, and turned their attention
again to the hero. No donkey was ever the re-
cipient of more petting and complimentary ex-
pressions than he.
He was found to have several cuts and some
very severe bruises from contact with the sharp
*This incident is not only a real one, but the actual
occurrence was even more strange than has been related.
The writer has purposely trimmed it down, in order that it
may not be criticised as absurd.
STN ANOTHER MINUTE HE HAD REACHED THE SAFETY POINT."
A FOUR-FOOTED CONTORTIONIST. 75
rocks, but Dave declared he would be as good as
new after he had had a week's "lay-off at the
"The pack is what really broke his fall, and
prevented him from going over the precipice,"
said Dave. "After he finishes his lunch we
will let him lie and rest a short time, after which
we will put the pack on Teddy and start back
This plan was carried out so well that with
diligence, but without haste or extra effort, they
arrived at the camp early in the afternoon.
Neal had dinner ready and waiting wheg the
As a change from the previous evening's fare,
there was a delicate and tender pot-roast of the
wild sheep, new bread, and for dessert, apple
roll, or duff," eaten with syrup.
"Circumstances don't allow much change in
our grub, or in the style of throwing it onto the
table," said Neal, in a half-apologetic way.
we found out last summer that the boys
can fit themselves into a situation as well as any-
body," said Dave. "They realize that we are
here for work, this time, and that eating is merely
a necessity of life. To have enough food to
satisfy hunger is about the only care Neal and
I have given in that direction. We spend very
76 THE BIG HORN TREASURE.
little time in camp, and a great deal at work upon
the 'prospect.' You see, we will have to re-
gard you, not as guests, now, but as partners
and fellow-sufferers. '
That is the way we want you to regard us,"
said Ken. There is n't likely to be much suf-
fering about it, either; and for my part, I intend
to learn to cook, too, and take my share of all the
rest of the duties."
I 'm to be counted in for the whole pro-
gramme, too," cried Phil. "There's going to
be no favoritism here."
As far as this dinner is concerned," added
Ken, "it seems to me even better than last
night's. I can be happy and thrive under this
diet for many months to come. I only hope
that I can learn to cook half as well as Neal.
Just now, though, I am burning up with curi-
osity about the discovery, and everything in con-
nection with it. Are you ready to show us the
elephant? Do you really feel quite sure that you
have found a rich mine? "
Neal and Dave exchanged meaning smiles.
Where are some of the rocks, Neal? asked
I '11 get them," was the reply.
Neal disappeared within one of the tents, and
returned in a minute with a gunnysack. It was
A FOUR-FOOTED CONTORTIONIST.
evidently heavy, as he used both hands in carry-
ing it. Dropping it upon the ground, he seized a
canvas pack-cover and spread it out. Then,
taking the sack by its lower corners, he emptied
its contents upon the canvas.
There were about fifteen or twenty pieces of
grayish white rock covered with shining yellow
spots. Neal handed one each to Phil and Ken,
saying, That 's the quartz article we are get-
ting, and it's no weak imitation, either."
Both boys cried out in amazement.
"Do you mean to say that the yellow stuff is
gold? asked Ken.
Yes, largely pure. At least, as pure as it is
generally found in the natural state. I think the
native gold must be as high as eighteen dollars
to the ounce. Besides the free gold, there is a
combination here called telluride.' It is a
union of gold with tellurium."
"Why, the rock is fairly ablaze! shouted
He took up the pieces one after another, ex-
amined them with dilated eyes, and passed them
I never saw anything so wonderful! said
he. "What value do you place upon this lot,
These pieces weigh, together, about a hun-
78 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
dred pounds, and I estimate that there 's about a
thousand dollars' worth of gold in them."
Man alive! That's twenty thousand dollars
to the ton! exclaimed Ken.
Neal laughed with great amusement. "Yes,
that's about the rate," he said, and if we
should feel like turning ourselves into 'promot-
ers,' capitalize our property for a three-million-
dollar figure, and undertake to sell stock, about
the first thing we would do would be to take up
that catch-phrase' you just used. But, you see,
Ken, we haven't even one ton of it yet; and
maybe never will have. There's hardly one
chance in a thousand that it will stay with us as
rich as this. Still, I 'm bound to say, that every
indication about the vein and the rock it's in,
gives promise of being a first-class property. We
will be able to guess better after knowing how it
Where is this wonderful treasure-box? Come!
I 've got to see it! exclaimed Ken with energy.
Whereupon the whole party proceeded to the
mine, or "prospect," as Neal and Dave called
"If you had arrived three days ago we
could n't have shown you as much 'richness' as
we can now," said Neal. We have only just
struck this pocket. We knew we had a promis-
A FOUR-FOOTED CONTORTIONIST.
ing vein, and we found free gold by crushing the
rock and washing it in a pan, but there was n't
much in the quartz to be seen with the naked
eye. Here it is! We are working into the vein
by the tunnel."
How far are you in? inquired Phil.
About thirty-five feet. Look up the face of
the cliff there, and you can see how plain the
seam stands out, and that it runs up as far as you
can see. It is about six feet wide, and seems to
run right through the mountain in a nearly north-
and-south course. I don't know why it is, but
it seems as if most of the rich and permanent
veins trend the same way."
"But did you climb away up here upon un-
certainty before you found it?" asked Ken.
"No, not altogether. We had camped down
near the ice bridge, and I wandered off up the
valley, keeping well toward the creek. When I
got to a point opposite here (and about fifteen
hundred feet nearly underneath), I found a lot of
rich float. It was easy to trace it here; and, in
fact, the lode is as plain most of the way down
the cliff below us as it is above. It is handier
to work here; but my theory is, that we 're liable
to find it, maybe, even richer below than above.
Some time, when I get really wound up for talk-
ing, I '11 tell you why."
80 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
"The rock that forms the cliff here seems to
be a sort of porphyry," remarked Phil.
"Yes, this whole district seems to be porphy-
ritic. It'ain't easy, though, for me to classify
this particular mountain. The native rock seems
to me to be a sort of volcanic quartzite, but
Dave calls it porphyrite. I 'm beginning to
think they run into each other, and that you can
call the stuff either one. I can show you, too,
where our vein intersects schists and shales, and
other sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. That's
in our favor. At least I think so; and so does
Dave. You see, we keep comparing notes all
the time. I give Dave my ideas, got mostly
from grubbing 'round 'mongst the hills, and he
gives me things he 's got from books. Most of
these big words I use, I borrowed from him."
Neal laughed gaily, and Dave smiled. It was
very evident how much they thought of each
"'Come," said Dave. "We will go on into
The mouth of the tunnel was nearly six feet
square, and opened directly into the side of the
The "-ceiling," or roof, was timbered; that is,
there were rough pieces of wood placed across,
close together, and supported by upright timbers.
A FOUR-FOOTED CONTORTIONIST.
This was to prevent the loosened ore or rock
from falling upon the workers.
"We started the tunnel at the full width of
the vein, and took out everything between the
two walls,"' said Dave, "but it is widening some-
what, and we will not be able to increase the
width of the tunnel."
Dave drew a candle from a niche in the rock,
and lighted it, and then led the way inside, say-
ing, "You won't be able to see any ore except
right at the end, or 'breast,' as we have taken it
all out as we went in."
When they reached the end, he held his candle
so as to produce the best effect. "Come up
close, boys, and examine it," he said.
More than half of the breast was aglitter with
the same quality of ore as the pieces they had
"Isn't it magnificent?" cried Phil, his voice
betraying his strong excitement. "I don't
know much about mines, Neal, but you will find
it pretty hard to convince me that what is in
sight here is n't a promise of a great fortune.
Don't you think so, Ken?"
It certainly looks to me as if we had a great
mine," replied Ken.
I've no wish to make you think the con-
trary, you may be sure," said Neal laughingly.
THE BIG HORN TREASURE.
"But, while my hopes are pretty big over this
thing, it ain't a good idea to feel too dead sure
about a thing until you 've got it; and after
a while, maybe, with the help of Dave's education
and my pocket-dictionary, I '11 try to explain
how it might disappoint us yet."
Is the rock hard to work? asked Ken.
"No," replied Dave, "it is rather soft. We
have n't made great progress, because we have n't
been as well equipped for working a mine as for
finding one. What with carrying the stuff out
to the dump on a hand-barrow, and trying to
keep drills sharp without a forge, it uses up the
day pretty snug. I think all four of us working
together can move along at the rate of six to
eight feet a day, -at least, as the rock is now
"That was well put in," said Neal. "We
must look to see it get harder."
"Well, we are n't going to work to-day; so
we will show the boys around the rest of the
'estate.' They can be our 'guests' for a little
while," remarked Dave. "After that, we must
attend right away to the matter of the claims.
We have taken up two claims, Ken; one in your
name and one in Neal's; as you and he are of
age, and Phil and I are not. To make the mat-
ter legally binding, you must go through the
A FOUR-FOOTED CONTORTIONIST.
formality of taking up your own claim, as the
law does n't recognize any proxies."
If I 'm to be claimholder of such vast wealth
as this," said Ken, "I don't want to delay a
minute. What 's to be done?"
"You will understand it better as we go
around, and we can attend to it afterward. It
is perhaps as necessary for you to become ac-
quainted with your property as to hold it."
The party meanwhile was picking it's way
through a grove of quaking-asp (aspen) trees
in the direction of the waterfall, the sound of
whose rushing downpour was borne to their ears.
A short walk brought them to a rapid stream,
and following this downward a little way, they
came to the shore of the lake.
Dave, who had been leading, turned and
pointed high in the air behind them, then swept
the horizon with a circular wave of his arm.
Casting their eyes aloft and then following the
direction of Dave's gesture, the boys simultane-
ously uttered a cry of admiration.
From the dizzy and vague region of the clouds
the stream shot downward toward them, giving
the effect of long curving leaps from ledge to
ledge. To the right, where the cliff was more
precipitous, the lake advanced to its very foot,
and the lofty, moss-covered and variegated face
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
was mirrored in the bright water with the accu-
racy of a photograph. On the farther side,
where the shore was margined by. a pine-covered
ridge which broke down from the towering cliff,
the contrast formed by the line of trees against
the luminous blue of the sky, together with the
rose and pearl of the more distant peaks, made a
picture which, all in all, was never to be forgotten.
O, I am in love with this place! exclaimed
Ken. "I would covet it as a possession even
without the gold mine."
"Yes, it 's beautiful. It seems to me a place
where one need never grow homesick,"' said Phil.
There will be a wonderful change when win-
ter comes," said Neal. But that is a long way
The little party resumed its walk and moved
along the edge of the lake, passing, presently,
the three donkeys, which were all Sancho in-
cluded eagerly cropping the grass.
One thing here surprises me greatly," said
Ken. "It is the variety and strength of the
vegetation. The altitude must be great."
"Yes, it's unusual; but I think it could be
explained," replied Neal. "We are not only
on the Pacific slope, where the timber-line runs
higher, but are well protected from the north
and get plenty of sunshine. Besides, the warm
A FOUR-FOOTED CONTORTIONIST.
southwest winds find a regular channel into the
valley of Porphyry Creek, through two or three
passes to the south of here. You will notice,
though, that the trees are all pretty small-sized.
This quaking-asp springs up in smart style, but,
while the spruce and mountain-pine have thick
branches, they are not high, and there 's a big
proportion of jack-pine. The mountain-ash, you
see, is very small, and the.cedar is nothing but a
Sdwarf. But the undergrowth is rich; and just
look at the flowers! they are of a hundred kinds."
"The birds like the place too," remarked
Dave. I have seen humming-birds several
times; and there are magpies, and mountain-
jays, and grouse, and ptarmigan, and the water-
ousels splash around the lake and waterfall every
Do you know what the altitude is?" Ken
Not with certainty, but Neal says the test
by boiling water shows it to be about twelve
They had now made a circuit of half the lake,
and here Neal turned away from the water and
led the way through a heavy growth of shad-
berry or service-bushes literally weighted with
their blue-black fruit.
Emerging from the bushes, they stood upon
86 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
the verge of an almost sheer descent of a quarter
of a mile, down which the outgoing stream from
the lake sprang with a flying dash that seemed
all the greater from its brief rest.
If the nights here become very dark, a per-
son ought not to wander far from camp without
tying a line around his waist," said Phil. Just
see the creek down yonder; it 's nothing but a
thread. Gracious! What a drop it would be!
Say, Ken, there 's the mountain across yonder
we signaled from with our helioscope."
"Yes," said Neal, "we have three of the
great necessities of a first-class mine."
What are they? Ken asked.
Beautiful scenery, pure air, and a magnifi-
cent dumping-ground. I will go a little farther,
and say that our mine has a fourth item that 's
'most always of benefit, though some do without
it, and that 's a body of rich ore."
The boys laughed heartily at Neal's quaint and
happy raillery. Then Dave spoke, saying, Now
we will show you about the matter of the claims.
Let 's walk along the cliff until we reach the
point where the vein outcrops, and Ken can set
the stakes as he sees fit. We have set them only
as a matter of form."
SCIENTIFIC MEASUREMENTS UNDER DIFFICUL-
They followed the edge of the plateau a few
hundred feet, when Dave stopped, saying: You
can see the vein here, Ken. It is as well de-
fined and of about the same thickness as where
we are working.
Now, the idea to be kept in mind is this:
we wish to guard ourselves against being intruded
upon by any other people who may come after
us and for that reason we ought to claim as much
of this vein we have discovered as the law will
permit us to hold.
A single claim may be fifteen hundred feet
in length along a vein, and one hundred and fifty
feet on each side, or three hundred feet wide.
A length of fifteen hundred feet will not cover all
that 's in sight here, but three thousand feet will.
So we concluded to have a second claim as an
extension of the first; and supposing the first
'one to start at the creek down below us yonder,
and extend horizontally along the vein for fifteen
hundred feet, it will end here on our plateau
88 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
somewhere. The second claim, or extension,
will take up the vein where the first one ends,-
and carry the lines of our property far enough
up the mountain (and inside it, in line with
our tunnel) to make us secure in the whole thing.
Nobody can then bother us. Do you get the
Yes, I see the point, and I think it 's a very
wise plan. You said you had already set the
stakes. Do you mean that you have measured
off the claims? "
Dave laughed. "No," he said, "we have n't,
and that 's a point I was coming to.
It 's impossible, as you can see, to do it by
measurement, on account of the cliffs, and the
distances must be had by triangulation. Neither
Neal nor I have enough engineering knowledge to
do this, although Neal has a first-rate compass.
It is graduated and has a vernier, has two levels
and folding, open sights. Do you suppose you
can do what is necessary, and with an instrument
of that sort?"
"Well, let's see Neal's compass. I always
liked engineering, and at the university I had
considerable surveying practice with the boys.
I have done very fair work with an open-sight
instrument; but, of course, nobody would choose
one to do fine work with. Still, this is a very
plain and simple bit of work. It might be
I will have it here in a minute," said Neal,
and he started for camp on a run.
There are some things to keep in mind in
locating a mine," said Dave. "We've got to
file certificates of our locations at the land-office;
and sometimes, in case of a contest, it happens to
be a mighty important thing whether you are
correct or not. I 'm telling you this so that you
may not take any very big risk on this instru-
I think I can tell when I examine and test
it," replied Ken.
Now, to save time, let's see if there is any
object down by the creek, in line with the vein,
that we might obtain a tolerably fine sight upon."
After a careful scrutiny the tip of a blasted
and whitened jack-pine was selected as being in
line with the course of the vein.
The pine was easily to be distinguished, as it
stood right beside a huge gray-and-black boul-
der upon the bank of the creek.
"Now, let's measure off a base-line close
along the edge of the cliff, and make it as long
as possible," said Ken.
Just then Neal returned, bringing his compass
and a steel tape-line. I got these things," he
90 THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
said, from a fellow who was down on his luck
and in poor health, and wanted to sell them.
I did n't have any use for the things, it was
two years ago,- and didn't have too much
money, either, but I finally gave him fifteen dol-
lars for the outfit, with the understanding that
he could have 'em back if he came with the
money. He never showed up, so I suppose
Have you ever made any use of them?"
Yes, I 've used the tape for measuring and
the compass for running straight-ahead lines.
They don't take up much space in packing, and
they often come in handy in the mountains."
Ken, meanwhile, was examining the instru-
ment, which he found to be expensively made,
and encased in a handsome flat box. He re-
moved it, opened the sights, tested the levels,
and examined the graduated circle and vernier
with his pocket magnifying-glass.
"It's an unusually fine instrument of its
kind," he said, and must have cost it's former
owner at least fifty dollars. The sights can be
lengthened. I never saw one like it before.
That will help us immensely, as I was wonder-
ing how it would work on vertical angles as sharp
as these are. Yes, I feel quite sure I can do
pretty good work with it. After we measure our
base-line I will make a test of what it is able to
do, by triangulating to some point up here on
the plateau, and then measuring to the same
point with a tape. Have you anything which
will answer the purpose of a standard or tripod,
I brought along this sharpened post with a
flat top," replied Neal. The compass-box has
a sharp brad in the center of the under side, to
prevent it from slipping."
"That will do, I think. Now for the base-
Ken soon found that he could easily obtain a
base-line six hundred feet in length along the
edge of the cliff, which he carefully measured,
marking each end with a stake. Each post was
plainly visible from the other.
This being accomplished, Ken then proceeded
to level the instrument at one of the posts.
Then, pointing to a distant dead aspen tree,
he said: I am going to triangulate to that tree,
which is quite as distant from here, I think, as
the creek down below is. I mean horizontally,
of course. I wish two of you would measure the
distance from here to the tree, very carefully,
and then we will compare notes. While you are
doing it, I will have to go to camp for a little
92 THE BIG HORN TREASURE.
book of mine, which contains sine and tangent
Quickly returning, he sighted with the com-
pass from one post of the base-line to the other,
and then to the aspen tree, carefully noting and
marking down the angle of deflection.
He repeated this process three times.
Then he turned the instrument, and sighted
below to the jack-pine by the creek, reading the
angle contained between that point and the other
base-line post. This he also repeated three
times, noting and marking down the result as
Then picking up his instrument and the sharp-
ened post, he walked to the other end of the
base-line and went through the same formula.
By this time the others had returned from
making the measurement.
"I will have my result presently," said Ken;
"please don't give me yours until I have figured
He took out his pocket-book, saying, "This
little book will save me the labor of figuring out
the sines of my angles; and all there now remains
for me to do is a little problem in proportion.
"This is the statement:
The sine of the Sine of the G R r
angle opposite : angleopposite :: i n e. ie.
given side. required side. si .
He figured for a minute or two, referring to
his book and then announced:
I make the distance from the farther post to
the dead aspen nine hundred and eighty-four
and a half feet."
"Good!" cried Neal. "We make it nine
hundred and eighty-six feet."
"'Ah. That 's really better than I expected,"
replied Ken. "I can figure out my other trian-
gulation now, with some assurance that it will be
This* result he shortly announced as eight
hundred and ninety-two feet.
"'This, of course, is the horizontal distance,''
he said. Now we must take a reading and
measurement from here to the center of the
outcrop at the verge of the cliff, and then we can
figure out just where the posts of the claim
ought to be placed."
Then turning to Dave, he asked, Do cer-
tificates of location give the accurate direction
or course, of the vein? "
Yes," replied Dave, they are never sup-
posed to be absolutely correct, but, as I have
said, the nearer right a man makes his certificate,
the less trouble he may have in the end."
"Well, then, I think I can give the correct
course; but I will have to make a little experi-
94 THE BIG HORN TREASURE.
ment in astronomy first, which I '11 do to-night.
I have n't used the magnetic needle at all, as it
could n't be relied on here. Neal, which way is
north? he asked.
North seems to be somewhere about where
that notch is, between those two sharp peaks,"
Neal replied, pointing, as he spoke, with his
finger. I get it from the north star. That
will be pretty near right, won't it? "
"Nearly, but not, quite," said Ken. Then
consulting the needle, he remarked, According
to what you say, this needle does n't point within
thirty degrees of true north. There 's some
attraction here from mineral; which makes a
compass needle of no use at all."
The boys then went about resetting the corner-
posts according to Ken's directions.
"Allowing a fraction for what we may need
down below, we will let this claim run back from
the edge five hundred and seventy-five feet.
This will make nine hundred and twenty-five feet
in the opposite direction, or down to the creek,"
he said. "I suppose the two southerly end-
posts of this claim will also be the northerly end-
posts of the other one?"
"Yes, that's the better way; and it's the
way an extension' is usually made,"' said Dave.
This being accomplished, Ken set about pre-
paring for his evening observation."
He obtained from Neal two small pieces of
box-cover. In one he cut a long, narrow slit
about a sixteenth of an inch wide, and this piece
he nailed perpendicularly to the other piece, which
he laid flatwise. The flat piece could thus be
shoved along a table and the slit would remain
Then he took a pole, and attaching a string
and plumb-bob to the top end, planted it in the
ground so that the top of the pole leaned two or
three feet to one side. He placed a pail filled
with water directly underneath the top of the
pole, so that the plumb-bob hung suspended
within the water, which made the line steady.
This completed his preparations until it became
time for business," he said.
After the pleasant exercise of supper had been
disposed of, Ken borrowed Neal's table, and with
Phil's assistance made its top quite level, pla-
cing it as nearly due south of his plumb-line as he
could judge. Then laying upon the table the
contrivance with the vertical slit, he said he was
The thing is perfectly simple," he said to
the other boys. I presume you all know that the
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
pole-star makes an apparent revolution, or path,
around the true north point, and all that's ne-
cessary is to make your observation at the right
moment. That is, when the pole-star is on the
meridian, and before it passes to the east or west
of it. Now, science has learned that the star
Alioth (the star in the handle of the dipper that
is nearest to the bowl) also crosses the true me-
ridian practically at the same time as Polaris.
Therefore, it's only necessary to set your marks
when one star is directly above the other and
you have your north-and-south line."
Ken's description made this matter much
clearer to the boys than it ever had been before,
and as the evening wore along he showed them
the actual practice of the test by frequently
pushing his upright slit along so as to always
have it in line with both the plumb-line and the
pole-star. Meanwhile it was necessary for one
of the boys to hold a candle so that its light
would shine upon the plumb-line and enable it to
Finally he announced that the plumb-line
showed Alioth to be directly below Polaris, and
ordered two stakes driven in the ground -one
close to the table and the other at about two hun-
dred feet distance and the meridian was estab-
NEAL'S BLOW-UP "-THE SICK STRANGER.
After breakfast the following morning, Ken put
the finishing-touches to his work of the evening
before by connecting his meridian line with the
center-line of the claims. This was quickly ac-
complished by setting up the compass at the
meridian and sighting to the center-line and read-
ing the angle, then resetting his instrument at
the center-line post and sighting back to the
meridian line and reading the angle of deflection.
This gave him the true course of the vein (and
of the claim) quite independently of the compass-
needle, which could not be relied upon.
It had been arranged that Neal and Ken were
to go down into the valley to set the necessary
corner-posts there, while Dave and Phil would
remain in camp and devote their attention to
putting the assay furnace into working order.
As Ken and Neal walked down the trail to-
gether, Ken remarked: From the mountain top
over yonder, where we strayed to, day before
yesterday, this place looks perfectly inaccessible.
THE BIG-HORN TREASURE.
You must have had hard work to make the trail as
good as it is."'
It was almost inaccessible till we made the
trail," replied Neal. "I came up alone first,
when I was tracing the vein, and there were
places where 't wasn't any easy job for me to get
over. I call myself pretty spry too. After I
found the vein and went back again, it took Dave
and me three solid days before we could get the
"We've done some work on it since then
too. That reminds me of something! I 've al-
ways intended to explore the wall of the moun-
tain on the farther side of the plateau. Maybe
wouldd have been easier to get up and down
from that side than this. Don't make any dif-
ference now, I s'pose, but it's well enough to
know how the land lies; considering that we
might have visitors some time."
Have you seen any people since you came
in here?" Ken inquired.
No, not a soul. There are men not many
miles away, though; because I've seen smoke
from their fire, 'way up high among the hills to
the north. I thought I heard a man shout, one
day, too, when I was coming up the trail, but 1
could n't see any one."
You say we might have visitors," said Ken.