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|The Faith of Men||Jack London|
Too Much Gold
|Page 3 of 11||
"I've ben in this land seven year," Bill announced emphatically, "an' I make free to say I never heard tell of the burg before. Hold on! Let's have some more of that whisky. Your information's flabbergasted me, that it has. Now just whereabouts is this Dawson-place you was a-mentionin'?"
"On the big flat jest below the mouth of Klondike," ol' Jim answered. "But where has you-all ben this summer?"
"Never you mind where we-all's ben," was Kink Mitchell's testy reply. "We-all's ben where the skeeters is that thick you've got to throw a stick into the air so as to see the sun and tell the time of day. Ain't I right, Bill?"
"Right you are," said Bill. "But speakin' of this Dawson-place how like did it happen to be, Jim?"
"Ounce to the pan on a creek called Bonanza, an' they ain't got to bed-rock yet."
"Who struck it?"
At mention of the discoverer's name the partners stared at each other disgustedly. Then they winked with great solemnity.
"Siwash George," sniffed Hootchinoo Bill.
"That squaw-man," sneered Kink Mitchell.
"I wouldn't put on my moccasins to stampede after anything he'd ever find," said Bill.
"Same here," announced his partner. "A cuss that's too plumb lazy to fish his own salmon. That's why he took up with the Indians. S'pose that black brother-in-law of his,--lemme see, Skookum Jim, eh?--s'pose he's in on it?"
The old bar-keeper nodded. "Sure, an' what's more, all Forty Mile, exceptin' me an' a few cripples."
"And drunks," added Kink Mitchell.
"No-sir-ee!" the old man shouted emphatically.
"I bet you the drinks Honkins ain't in on it!" Hootchinoo Bill cried with certitude.
Ol' Jim's face lighted up. "I takes you, Bill, an' you loses."
"However did that ol' soak budge out of Forty Mile?" Mitchell demanded.
"The ties him down an' throws him in the bottom of a polin'-boat," ol' Jim explained. "Come right in here, they did, an' takes him out of that there chair there in the corner, an' three more drunks they finds under the pianny. I tell you-alls the whole camp hits up the Yukon for Dawson jes' like Sam Scratch was after them,-- wimmen, children, babes in arms, the whole shebang. Bidwell comes to me an' sez, sez he, 'Jim, I wants you to keep tab on the Monte Carlo. I'm goin'.'
"'Where's Barlow?' sez I. 'Gone,' sez he, 'an' I'm a-followin' with a load of whisky.' An' with that, never waitin' for me to decline, he makes a run for his boat an' away he goes, polin' up river like mad. So here I be, an' these is the first drinks I've passed out in three days."
The partners looked at each other.
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