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|The Man On The Other Bank||Jack London|
|Page 3 of 5||
"An' I reckon that new-comer you've ben chinning with could explain if HE had a mind to."
Breck, now very uncomfortable, found all eyes centred on him.
"Sam was chewing the rag with him, too, before he hit out," some one said.
"Look here, Mr Breck," Shunk Wilson continued. "You've ben interruptin' proceedings, and you got to explain the meanin' of it. What was you chinnin' about?"
Breck cleared his throat timidly and replied. "I was just trying to buy some grub."
"Dust, of course."
"Where'd you get it?"
Breck did not answer.
"He's ben snoopin' around up the Stewart," a man volunteered. "I run across his camp a week ago when I was huntin'. An' I want to tell you he was almighty secretious about it."
"The dust didn't come from there," Breck said. "That's only a low-grade hydraulic proposition."
"Bring your poke here an' let's see your dust," Wilson commanded.
"I tell you it didn't come from there."
"Let's see it just the same."
Breck made as if to refuse, but all about him were menacing faces. Reluctantly, he fumbled in his coat pocket. In the act of drawing forth a pepper can, it rattled against what was evidently a hard object.
"Fetch it all out!" Shunk Wilson thundered.
And out came the big nugget, first-size, yellow as no gold any onlooker had ever seen. Shunk Wilson gasped. Half a dozen, catching one glimpse, made a break for the door. They reached it at the same moment, and, with cursing and scuffling, jammed and pivoted through. The judge emptied the contents of the pepper can on the table, and the sight of the rough lump-gold sent half a dozen more toward the door.
"Where are you goin'?" Eli Harding asked, as Shunk started to follow.
"For my dogs, of course."
"Ain't you goin' to hang him?"
"It'd take too much time right now. He'll keep till we get back, so I reckon this court is adjourned. This ain't no place for lingerin'."
Harding hesitated. He glanced savagely at Smoke, saw Pierre beckoning to Louis from the doorway, took one last look at the lump-gold on the table, and decided.
"No use you tryin' to get away," he flung back over his shoulder. "Besides, I'm goin' to borrow your dogs."
"What is it--another one of them blamed stampedes?" the old blind trapper asked in a queer and petulant falsetto, as the cries of men and dogs and the grind of the sleds swept the silence of the room.
"It sure is," Lucy answered. "An' I never seen gold like it. Feel that, old man."
She put the big nugget in his hand. He was but slightly interested.
"It was a good fur-country," he complained, "before them danged miners come in an' scared back the game."
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