Once upon a time there lived near a small village on the shore of the
Atlantic, an honest farmer named Norton, who had three sons.
The two elder were smart, active lads, but the youngest was quiet,
and so much given to dreaming that his brothers ridiculed and often
“He is so stupid,” they would say, “he will be a disgrace to the
family;” but what annoyed him most, they gave him the unpleasant
_sobriquet_ of Dumpy, on account of his fat, rosy cheeks.
As the boys grew up, the eldest took the farm, and was to take care
of the father and mother, the second became clerk to a merchant in a
neighboring city, but poor Dumpy, in the indolence of his disposition,
did nothing. He was always hoping some impossible thing would “turn
up,” but he had no rich relations, indeed no one seemed to take much
interest in him but the mother, who would always say, “Poor Dumpy, he
is a good-hearted boy,” then she would sigh heavily, as though there
was nothing more to be said.
At last the father became quite out of patience, and calling the boy
to him one day, he said: “You are now twenty years old, and never
have earned so much as your salt, and it is quite time for you to do
something for yourself. Your brother, who has taken the farm, complains
that he is obliged to support you in idleness, which certainly is not
“For the farm he will take care of your mother and me, but you and
your other brother must look out for yourselves.”
“Give me,” answered Dumpy, “what money you can spare, I ask nothing
more, I will go and seek my fortune, and you shall hear of me when I
become a rich man.”
The father gave him what money he could, and he went away, no one at
home knew whither, leaving only the mother to weep for him.
When Dumpy left the farm-house he walked on to the village, feeling
that he was going into the great world full of promise, but he never
dreamed of disappointment.
When he arrived at the village inn the stage was standing at the door.
“I will go,” he said, “where fortune leads me.” So he took his seat in
the stage, and paid his fare to the end of the route, which happened to
be the great city of New York.
All day long he was very happy looking out of the windows upon the
changing landscape, and indulging in day-dreams. Sometimes he would
come to a pretty village nestling among the hills. “I would like,” he
would think, “of all things to stop here, ’tis so very pleasant, but I
have paid my money, and I must go on.”
It was night when the stage entered the city, its heavy wheels rumbling
over the paved streets, and crowding along past carts, omnibuses, and
carriages, till poor Dumpy, who had never been in the city before,
began to feel very much bewildered and confused.
“Where shall I go,” said Dumpy to the driver, when the stage stopped.
“‘Tis so noisy I can’t hear myself think. Oh, dear! I don’t know what
to do,” and he looked so pitiably helpless that the driver was sorry
for him, though he could not help laughing. “Come with me, my boy,” he
said, so he went with the driver to the cheap lodging-house, where he
stopped when in town.
To enumerate all poor Dumpy’s adventures while in New York would be
impossible. Enough to say it was not long before his money was gone,
and he shipped before the mast in a merchant vessel for California.
Poor Dumpy! Now came woful experiences, for a time he was wretchedly
seasick, and he soon found that to go before the mast was no joke, but
in his way he was quite a philosopher, and after a few weeks became a
very good sailor.
As he was pleasant and obliging he became a favorite with all on board,
but he loved most of all when off duty, to sit by himself in the soft
starlit evenings as the good ship sailed over the tropic seas, and
dream of the land of gold to which he was going.
He possessed a vivid imagination, and his visions of the wealth of the
new Eldorado were most glowing.
He would picture to himself how like a prince he would luxuriate in
riches, how great and generous he would be, even to the brothers who
had despised him. It is a happiness to be able to revel in dreams as he
did, for the pleasures of anticipation are but too often greater than
He loved his mother, she at least had always been kind and gentle to
“My dear mother,” he would say to himself, with a bright tear in his
eye, “she shall yet live in a palace. God bless her, dear mother.”
Then he would sigh till a bright thought drove away the sad one. “Oh,
’tis so delightful to be rich,” he would say.
Then he would rub his hands as complacently as though the wealth of the
Indies lay at his feet.
“I shall give the father every thing he wishes of course,” he would
continue, “and I will make the brothers rich men, for to be generous
and forgive is the attribute of true greatness, and for myself I will
marry the prettiest woman in the world, and I will give her every thing
she can possibly desire.”
Often the sharp quick bell, for change of watch, would call him to
duty, and scatter his gorgeous dreams, leaving only the dull, hard
present in his mind and heart.
At length the good ship arrived in San Francisco, and there again Dumpy
found all the wild bustle and confusion of the early days.
Gold was plenty in dust and bars.
When a man bought any thing he would take out of his bag of gold dust
as much dust as he was to pay for the article, and he would be off.
The highest price was paid for labor, and Dumpy soon engaged to drive
a cart for two hundred and fifty dollars per month, but he determined
to make this arrangement only for a short time, till he could get money
enough to go out prospecting in the mining districts.
This he soon accomplished, but he found a life in the mines even harder
than before the mast, but the golden future was before him, and he
He and another young adventurer built a cabin together by a little
spring of clear, bubbling water.
They worked early and late, with the wearisome pick and shovel for
the precious gold that was to pave the pathway of their lives with
happiness, but often night found them disappointed and weary, and they
would return to their lonely cabins, cook and eat their coarse supper,
and lie down upon the hard floor, wrap their blankets around them,
with heavy and hopeless hearts. But thank God, sunshine and the fresh
morning brings renewed life and hope to young hearts.
One morning when Dumpy awoke he found his companion had risen and gone
out before him, so he went out alone, thinking, “who knows what will
turn up before night, I may become a millionaire. I’ll try my luck
alone to-day;” so he did not go to the ledge they had been prospecting
the day before, but started off in a new direction.
All day long he worked diligently, but the sunset found him as poor as
the dawning, and quite worn out, he threw himself down upon the ledge
to rest a little before going home. “Ah, me!” thought he, sadly, “how
long the poor mother will have to wait for her palace.”
As the sunset deepened into twilight, he rose, and shouldering his pick
and shovel, started for the cabin. “I can not call it home,” he said to
himself, “there is no mother there.”
He had not gone far, before a little shrill voice arrested him, and
looking down, he saw a little old man, sitting among the loose stones,
rubbing his foot and ankle, and groaning piteously.
He was very quaintly dressed, in a little red jacket, and wore a
Spanish hat with little gold bells around it, and his long gray beard
swept the ground, as he sat dismally among the rocks.
“Oh, dear! I cannot move,” said the little man; “I have sprained my
foot, will not you help me home? Oh dear! oh dear!” and he moaned so
piteously that Dumpy, who was kind-hearted, was very sorry for him; so
he took the old man up in his arms as tenderly as if he had been an
The old man pointed out the way, and Dumpy trudged wearily on, for
though he was no bigger than a child of eight years old, he seemed
quite heavy to Dumpy. After working all day with the pick and shovel,
and finding nothing, his heart was heavy with hope deferred. “If I had
found gold to-day,” thought he, “a light heart would have made a light
burden; but thank God I am well, and this poor man suffers fearfully.”
Poor Dumpy! He went on, down the cañon, then up the mountain, it seemed
to him for miles; at last the little man pointed to a crevice in the
rock, through which Dumpy managed with some difficulty to creep; but
as he went on it widened, and suddenly opened into a large cavern.
“Go on,” said the old man, sharply, as Dumpy stopped and gazed around
with astonishment. So he went on till they came to a large hall
sparkling with crystal, and glowing with precious stones.
A large chandelier hung from the roof, and cast a flood of softened
light through the whole cavern, and Dumpy could see in the stone floor
large masses of pure yellow gold.
He saw in the huge irregular pillars that rose to the dome of the
cavern, great veins of the precious ore, and everywhere it was
scattered about with the most lavish profusion.
Curious golden figures, carved with strange devices, stood in the
niches, and there were couches with golden frames, and tables of gold,
so that the light, reflected from the clear crystal dome, glittering
with shining pendants, by the softening yellow tinge, was mellow and
Poor Dumpy had been so long in the twilight and darkness, that he was
dazzled by the brilliant scene, and for a few moments was obliged to
close his eyes, and when he opened them, he saw that he was surrounded
by a large crowd of the little people, who were full of anxious fears
about the old man he held in his arms, but he assured them he was
suffering only from a sprain, which, though very painful, was not
dangerous. They gathered anxiously around the little man as he laid him
upon a couch.
He soon discovered that the man he had assisted was king over the
little people who guard the mountain treasures, covering the rich
places with unpromising stones and earth, and often misleading the
honest miner by scattering grains of the precious metal in waste
places; thus it is we hear so often of disappointed hopes, and
After they had in some measure relieved the suffering of their chief,
they turned to Dumpy, who stood in the most profound astonishment,
drinking in all he saw or heard.
“You have done me a great kindness,” said the chief; “and, though it
is our business to mislead miners, we can be grateful, and you may now
claim any reward you desire.”
“I have saved your ruler,” said Dumpy, looking at the crowd of little
people, and trying to think of something great to ask as a reward.
“Our chief! our king!” cried all the little people, together. “Ask what
you will and it shall be granted.”
“I would be great as well as rich,” thought Dumpy, so he said aloud:
“Make me emperor of all the mines, and let all the miners pay tribute
“It shall be so,” said the king. Then he called one of his servants
to bring the golden crown and scepter, and bidding Dumpy kneel before
him, he placed the scepter in his hand and the crown upon his head, and
striking him a sharp blow upon his shoulder, he said, “Arise, Emperor
“As long as you preserve this crown and scepter from moth or rust, dew
or fog, you shall be the true emperor of all the mines in California
and Nevada, and all the miners shall pay you yearly tribute, but if you
lose either crown or scepter, or moth, rust, midnight dews and damps
fall upon them, they will fade away, and you will be emperor in name
only, and the miners shall pay you no yearly tribute.”
“So let it be,” said the newly-made emperor; and they all sat down to
a table spread with every delicacy, and feasted till the noon of the
When the emperor bade the knights of the mountain adieu, the little
gray king said: “Beware of the dews and damps of the night,” and he
started for his cabin.
“I will first visit my old comrade,” he said, “though he is now one of
my subjects, I will not be proud and haughty.”
One of the little men ran before him, and led the way out of the cave
into the sunlight, which was so bright that the emperor shaded his
eyes with his hand, and when he had removed it the little man had
The emperor looked around, but could see no trace of him; even the
crevice through which he had passed, was nowhere to be seen.
“It is a wonderful dream,” said he; but no! there was the golden crown
upon his head, and the scepter in his hand.
“I will find that cave,” thought he; so he began to look for it very
eagerly, till the lengthening shadows told of the coming of evening,
and he thought of the gray king’s warning, “Beware of the dews and
damps of night.”
“Oh dear! if I should lose the tribute money,” he said, in great
distress; “I should be emperor but could build no palace for the
mother, nor could I marry the prettiest woman in the world, and supply
her innumerable wants;” so he started in great haste for the camp,
always keeping fast hold of the crown and scepter.
On he rushed till the shades of twilight filled the deep cañon, through
which he was obliged to pass, then he broke into a run, crying, “Oh
me! if I should be too late! too late! now that my hopes are crowned
with success. Too late! too late!”
“Haste makes waste,” and so the emperor found it. He lost the path and
became entangled in brush and rocks, until he became almost wild with
The night came on with a heavy mist that near morning deepened into
With the gray twilight of the dawning, weary and worn, he reached his
cabin door, but the golden crown and scepter had passed away into the
mists of night.
The poor emperor told of his wanderings to his comrades, and mourned
over the night in which his crown and scepter had departed from him,
but they only laughed, saying, “You have been dreaming again, Emperor
He never took the pick and shovel again. “Shall an emperor work,” he
would say, “while thousands of his subjects roll in luxury?”
An emperor, he thought, should reside in the chief city of his realm,
so he left the mines and came to San Francisco.
Here for years he has lived, always wearing a well-worn suit of blue,
with epaulettes upon the shoulders, which, perhaps, might have been an
unmentioned gift of the gray king of the mountains.
At the table of all restaurants and hotels he is a free and welcome
guest, and all places of amusement are open to him; in fact, wherever
you go in San Francisco, you are almost sure to meet the Emperor
THE GOLDEN BOULDER.
Years ago, even before what Californians understand to be the “early
days,” Dick Fielding was promoted to a captaincy in the United States
Merry days were those, while he was stationed near the metropolitan
city. Good pay, little work, brilliant parties to attend, and beautiful
women to make love to. Love making seemed the natural element of
the gay young captain, and thanks to his handsome face and shining
epaulettes, he was very successful.
In this world our dear delights are but fleeting as the smiles of
an April day—so thought poor Dick as he sat one morning about
eleven o’clock at his luxurious breakfast, reading a dispatch from
head-quarters that doomed him to the wilderness of Fort Tejon, far
below the quaint old Spanish town of Los Angelos.
‘Twas a sad day for the gallant young captain, but all his sighs
and regrets were unavailing. There was no reprieve—orders must be
obeyed. Fortunately Dick was of an elastic temperament, and the love
of adventure and the charm of novelty which the new country possessed
for him soon returned to him that zest for life which youth and health
seldom entirely lose.
Southern California has a most generous climate, producing in the
valleys the luxurious vegetation of the tropics, and on the hills and
mountains the hardier products of the temperate zone.
Dick was a favorite among the officers, social and joyous in his
disposition, he became the life of the garrison. He was a fine
horseman, and often he would join a party of the Mexican rangers in
their excursions, and ride for days over the beautiful country round
He could shoot an arrow very handsomely, and by his easy good nature he
was soon on friendly terms with the Indians, who in that part of the
country are so mixed with the native Californians or Mexicans that it
is difficult to distinguish the races.
He became an expert in all the athletic sports of the country, but
with all he could do, the monotony of a life at Fort Tejon was very
wearisome to him; so when he found a beautiful young girl among the
Indians, he plunged recklessly into his old habit, of love making; and
in a few weeks he was domesticated in a little adobe house near the
fort with his pretty Indian bride, who amused him for the time like any
other novelty of the country.
She, poor simple child of the wild-wood, worshiped her handsome,
blue-eyed husband, and thought his hair and beard had stolen their
golden beauty from the glowing sunshine.
After a time a little one came to the cottage, and the young Indian
mother was very happy in loving the father and child who made the
wilderness a heaven for her.
Weeks, months, and years passed by, and Captain Fielding longed
intensely to visit the gay world again. He had grown weary of his
Indian wife, and his son in his eyes was only a young papoose, of whom
he was very much ashamed.
At length the order came for his reprieve. He was summoned to return
to the Atlantic States; but of this he said nothing to his wife. One
bright spring morning he left her looking out after him from the door
of the little adobe, holding her three-year old boy in her arms,
smiling and telling him in her own soft language that dear papa would
come back at evening.
The burning fingers of remorse pressed heavily upon the father’s
heart as he looked upon the pretty picture—but only for a moment. He
turned away, saying with a sigh of relief: “She’ll soon forget me, for
some Indian Chief, perhaps,” and was gone from her sight out into the
distance, on toward the great busy world.
Night came on with its damps and darkness, wrapping the heart of the
young wife in its shroud of shadows, never to be lifted till the
brightness of the spirit land made glad morning shine about her.
Day by day she watched the shadows lengthen, hoping when the sun went
down in the crimson west he would return; but the golden moonlight
found her watching in vain, swaying her sleeping boy too and fro in her
arms, and drearily singing the song of her heart, in a voice from which
the gladness of hope was fast dying out.
She called him Dick, for his father, and with a perseverance which only
deep love could give her, talked his father’s language to him in her
pretty, imperfect way.
The little one grew to be a strong, handsome boy, with a dark Spanish
face, and eyes full of fire, or love as his mood moved them. In some
things he was like his father; gay, dashing, and attractive in his
disposition, he became a great favorite with the officers at Fort
Tejon, who taught him to read and write and many other things, much to
the delight of his mother, who would say with tears in her dark eyes:
“If his father lives to return he will thank you better than I can.”
In the spring she would say: “Before the orange-flowers ripen to golden
fruit he will return,” and in the autumn, “before the fair buds gladden
the green hillsides he will be here!”
But springs and autumns passed, till the broken spirit, hopeless and
weary with waiting, passed into the unknown future, and they buried her
where the first rays of the morning sun fell upon the graveyard flowers.
Dick loved his mother fondly, and after she died he grew more wild and
daring than ever, but with the undercurrent of his nature flowed all
the subtle instinct of the Indian.
Often at Fort Tejon he heard of the great world far beyond the
wilderness, and he learned that gold was the talisman that opened the
gates of earthly paradise. So he said in his heart, “I will have gold!”
Young as he was and wild in his nature, he saw a witching paradise in
the soft blue eyes and sunny curls of the Colonel’s young daughter
Madeline, but no one knew that he worshiped her, no one but God and his
Among the Indian and Spanish boys Dick was chief. To the lowliest he
was gentle, to the proudest, superior, and by a wonderful magnetic
power in one so young he bowed them all to his will. No one among
them thought to question his bidding; he was the ruler, and without a
thought they obeyed him. He could ride fearlessly the wildest horse,
send the truest arrow from the bow, and laughed carelessly at danger as
though he bore a charmed life.
One evening he lay upon the green grass before an Indian encampment,
looking dreamily up at the great golden moon as it sailed along through
the clear summer sky, surrounded by the paler light of the modest stars,
and thinking how Madeline was like the moon, queen of all maidens.
The rest were beautiful, but in comparison with the sweet Madeline were
but attendant lights. Then he thought of the great world where one day
Madeline would shine fairest of the fair, and that before he could
enter the charmed circle he must win the talisman that would give him
every thing, but best of all, sweet Madeline.
Near him the Indian youths and maidens had gathered round an old man of
their tribe, who was telling them the legend of the “Golden Boulder.”
“Yes,” said the old man, “white men would risk their lives for it, if
they could only find the valley, but even the Indians except one tribe
who make war upon all others, have lost trace of it; but there in the
center rises a great round boulder, yellow as the full moon, all gold,
“Where?” cried Dick, springing with one bound into the circle. Then for
the first time he listened to the old tradition of the Golden Boulder
in Death’s Valley.
“Far to the south,” said the old Indian, “lies a country rich in gold
and precious stones. The tribe who inhabits that region makes war with
all who dare to cross the boundaries of their hunting-grounds. In some
way they have become possessed of guns from which they shoot golden
bullets with unerring precision.
“The country is shut in by mountains, and the great Colorado pours its
waters through it. Far into the interior, deep down in the shadows,
lies Death’s Valley, and in its center rises the great Golden
Boulder, and round it are scattered innumerable precious stones, whose
brightness pierces the dusky shadows with their shining light.”
The tradition came from an old man of the hostile tribe who many years
ago was taken prisoner. Many adventurous Mexicans and Spaniards had
sought Death’s Valley, but none had ever returned from its shroud of
Dick listened to the story with deep attention. For days the thought of
it pursued him, and at night when he closed his eyes the great round
boulder of gold rose before him, and the glittering stones made the
night shining as the day.
He could learn nothing more from the Indians than the old tradition,
but every day he became more resolved, at any hazard, to win the great
talisman, gold, which alone could open the door of happiness and
greatness for him; even if he were obliged to seek it among the shadows
in Death’s Valley, he would win it.
It was the early days of February, which in Lower California is the
spring time of the year. Golden oranges still hung upon the trees amid
the shining leaves and snow-white flowers, the buds of promise for the
coming year, while everywhere gorgeous flowers brightened the fragrant
hillsides and dewy valleys.
Without a word of farewell to any one, Dick started out into the
trackless wilderness alone, with only his rifle and a small hatchet to
blaze the trees now and then. Guided by the Indian’s unerring instinct,
he reached the Colorado, strong and vigorous as when he left the
neighborhood of Fort Tejon.
He had wanted for nothing; his trusty gun had supplied him with
game, and the fruits of the wild-wood had furnished him dessert. Thus
alone in the luxuriance of that sunny clime he wandered for days, but
still no trace of the valley, or the Golden Boulder; but he was not
Day and night, the gorgeous imagery that decked the future, gathered
round him. As the reward of all this toil and lonely wanderings, he
saw his golden hopes fulfilled, and the sunny curls of the Colonel’s
daughter resting upon his bosom. For this hope more than all others he
It was the close of an excessively hot day. The dewy coolness of
evening was delightful to the weary gold-seeker, and he threw himself
down upon his couch of leaves, under the shadow of the forest trees,
thinking the way was long and weary, and feeling the desolation of the
solitary wilderness, casting its long shadows upon his heart.
But toil, is the mother of forgetfulness, and sleep was casting its
drowsy mantle over his saddened musings, when his quick ear, detected a
sound like a light, but rapid, footstep among the dried leaves. Nearer
and nearer it came, snapping the brittle twigs that covered the ground.
He hastily concealed himself, and waited in almost breathless stillness
the approach of wild beasts, or wilder Indians.
A moment more, and a young Indian girl appeared, bearing upon her head
a birchen bucket. Light and graceful, with the freedom of the woods,
she walked along until she came to a clear spring, and bending over,
she filled her bucket with the pure fresh water.
Just then, a rare cluster of flowers attracted her eye, and with a
maiden’s love of the beautiful, she stopped to gather it, then poising
her bucket upon her head, she would have started for the encampment,
but she was fastened spell-bound to the spot, by an unconquerable
Just opposite, and crouched ready to spring upon her, she saw a huge
panther, his large eyes, like great balls of fire, glaring out from the
intense shadow, already devoured her. She was paralyzed by an intense
terror. The fearful eyes fascinated and bewildered her. In them she saw
the frail bridge, that separated her from the spirit land.
She could not move, or utter a sound. The panther crouched lower among
the tangled grass. A moment more, and he would spring upon her. The
stream was drawing nearer, the bridge was shorter, from those fearful
eyes, she could see the gleaming of the lights of spirit land, then
a flash! a sharp report of the rifle, and the panther sprang into the
air, and fell at the feet of the affrighted maiden!
She lived! but the waters of the spring were glowing red and warm
with the lifeblood of the terrible beast. His glowing eyes grew dim
and sightless, in the river of death, and in its place, to her sight
appeared the handsome young gold-seeker.
With all her intense emotion, she was calm, as only an Indian maiden
could be, but a deep glowing flush burned through the darkness of her
cheek, as with timid grace, she gave her hand to her deliverer, and
through the dusk of evening led him to the encampment, and to the
chieftain, her father.
There was great excitement in the encampment when they saw the young
girl returning with a stranger. Fiercely the Indians of the hostile
tribe gathered round them, for the girl clung tremblingly to his hand,
and by the fitful firelight he saw the dark scowls of passion gathering
upon their faces, yet a thrill of joy filled his heart, he now knew he
was by the camp-fire of the wild tribe of whom nothing was known, save
their uncompromising cruelty, and that with them rested the secret of
Death’s Valley, the great Golden Boulder, and the glittering stones.
He had saved their chieftain’s daughter, and they would not harm him,
for well he knew the power of gratitude upon the savage heart. Calm and
resolute he stood among them, without the shadow of a fear darkening
his face, until he saw the fierce fires of cruelty that shot from their
wild eyes soften into the kindly light of gratitude and friendship, as
the young girl told her story with all the pathos and ardor which the
almost miraculous escape, had awakened in her heart.
The old chief loved his daughter with a savage intensity. She was all
the Great Spirit had left him, of many sons and daughters, and he felt
that he would be ready to battle with death itself, but he could not
give up his only child.
There was a mist over his fierce eyes, and a trembling about his cruel
heart, as he bade the stranger a kindly welcome, who but for his good
fortune in saving the girl, would have been condemned to a torturing
death, unheard of.
So it was at last by this unforeseen accident, that the young
gold-seeker slept peacefully by the smouldering camp-fire of the most
cruel, relentless, tribe of the Colorado, and dreamed of his blue-eyed
darling, far away over the desert waste, safely sheltered in Fort
The morning dawned rich with the glowing warmth of a Southern climate,
and though our young hero woke early, he was wearied from long travel,
and lay for some time with half-closed eyes, lazily watching the
Indians as they busied themselves about the encampment.
He was thinking how he should turn the advantage he had gained to the
furtherance of his plans, when suddenly he felt, more than saw, that
dark, jealous eyes were upon him. He feigned to be sleeping, while by a
stolen glance he understood every thing.
The tall, stalwart, young Indian, who bent over him with dark, knitted
brows and flashing eyes, loved the girl whom he had saved, and was
already his enemy, and one not to be scorned, as his proud bearing, and
the deference shown him by others attested. That he was in danger,
Dick realized; yet he rose with a free and careless manner, greeting
the young men with a smile, which was returned.
“Worse than I supposed,” he said to himself; “treachery! but they shall
not find me unprepared!”
The old chief and his daughter treated him with marked kindness, and
he, by his modesty and pleasantry, tried to make friends among the
After breakfast preparations were made for a hunt, and Dick was
furnished with a fresh horse, and invited to join the company.
The day was warm and sultry, and, toward evening, the hunters, in
starting for the camp, became scattered, and, on entering the shadows
of a deep ravine, Dick found himself surrounded by five of the
strongest young men, and, prominent among them, his enemy.
In an instant of time his hands were pinioned, and he was ordered to
prepare for death. Looking calmly upon the dark, scowling faces around
him, he said: “I am ready, only I would make one request of Tolume (his
enemy), ’tis this; that if in his wanderings he should ever reach Fort
Tejon, he would bear a message for me to the woman I love.”
The face of Tolume brightened, and he ordered the prisoner unbound, and
leading him to a mossy stone, listened to the story of his love for the
fair, blue-eyed maiden, of Fort Tejon, and of all his hopes and plans,
till the sun went down and the silver moon looked into the ravine.
Tolume was jealous no longer; so they became friends, and after
listening to the story of Death’s Valley and the great Golden Boulder,
he promised to go with Dick in search of it.
Nothing was said on their return to the camp of the closing event of
the day’s hunt, but Dick saw with great satisfaction, that his new
friend and the dark-eyed girl he had saved from death, were again
Indians generally care but little for gold, but this tribe had mingled
enough with the Spaniards to know something of its value; so the young
Indian was very ready to accompany Dick in his adventures, and to
accede to all his proposals, for he soon learned to look upon our hero
as a superior being.
“To-night,” whispered Dick, as he passed carelessly by the young
Indian, “when the moon rises above the mountain-tops, we will start.”
The Indian bowed assent, and looked fondly upon the young girl he must
leave, and whom he loved with all the fierceness of his wild nature.
During the afternoon he told her he was going away for a short
time, but would return bringing her beautiful feathers, embroidered
moccasins, strings of shining beads, and all that the heart of a pretty
Indian girl could desire. Then they parted, as all lovers part, with
mingled hopes and fears.
When the moon rose clear and bright, casting its soft, mellow light
over the glowing landscape, the young men met silently upon the brow of
the hill, and started upon their journey.
They were well equipped with guns and ammunition. Each had a good
horse, and as much food as they could carry; the only thing they had to
fear was lack of water and hostile Indians.
For two days they traveled on without encountering any difficulty;
but on the third they entered a dry, waste tract of country entirely
destitute of vegetation.
The ground was covered with a formation of salt and soda, and when the
wind blew it nearly suffocated them.
“This must be Death’s Valley,” said Dick, as they rode on, talking
cheerfully, looking carefully for any signs of gold. By noon they began
to feel very thirsty, but there was no water, no cooling spring in all
the vast desert spread out before them.
The burning rays of the noontide sun seemed to dry up their blood, and
their tongues were parched and feverish, but there was no shelter;
no water. Heat, thirst, and travel began to tell upon their horses,
so they dismounted, and led them by the bridle, till night came on,
finding them weary and faint, and, above all, perishing with thirst.
Their fevered tongues began to swell, and it seemed as though the salt
dust permeated their whole bodies; but they dare not stop, even for a
moment, they were dying of thirst, and there was no water.
At last the clear, full moon rose over the desert waste of Death’s
Valley and over the wayworn prospectors. They thought no more of gold,
only of water—clear, cool, bubbling water.
It seemed to Dick as though he could hear the murmuring of the brook
that rippled by the cottage of his childhood home, near Fort Tejon.
He walked along, every moment growing more hopeless, when suddenly he
saw something bright and shining on the ground. It was a curious bow
and quiver ornamented with little bells of silver and gold.
“Some one has been here, and only a short time ago, or the wind would
have swept away the track,” said Dick, as he bent down and examined a
footprint upon the ground. “‘Tis too small for a man,” he said. “‘Tis
Then he gave a loud shout, and they both listened eagerly, till they
heard a low faint voice in reply, and, looking around, they saw by the
clear moonlight an odd little figure trying in vain to rise from the
ground. The young men hastened to his assistance, and found a queer,
little dwarf, with a long grey beard reaching nearly to his feet.
“Give me water!” said the man. “My horse has thrown me, and all day
long I have lain here in the burning sun, too weak to move, for I am
dying of thirst! Oh give me water, only a drop of water!”
“No water! No water!” cried Dick, in despair. “We, too, are famishing
for want of it! We must on, we have not a moment to lose, or we shall
die here in the desert.”
“Do not leave me,” cried the little man. “I can show you water, but I
cannot move!” So they placed him upon one of the horses, and he pointed
out the way.
Dick would have thrown aside the bow and quiver, but as he looked at
the curious little being beside him, quaint old Indian traditions came
to his mind.
“This bow may serve me yet,” he said, as he secured it to his leather
belt. “Who knows but it belongs to one of the dwarf treasure-guard of
All night they traveled on and till nearly noon the next day, when a
little green spot in the desert’s sand met their sight. The horses
snuffed the refreshing smell of water, and horses and men, faint,
weary, and famishing, exerting all their strength started on the full
run for the blessed Eden before them, and soon sank down upon the soft
green grass by the side of a clear, bubbling spring.
“Now I will leave you,” said the little man. “Give me my bow and
quiver. We are even, I showed you the water, and you brought me to it.”
“Not quite so fast, my little friend,” said Dick. “Before I give you
the bow and quiver, or permit you to leave us, you must lead us to the
treasure of the valley, then furnish us with a guide, two good mules,
and as much of the treasure as we can carry away.”
“I accede to your proposition on one condition! Never attempt to point
out the treasure to any one, or to return to it yourself. If you do,
death will swiftly follow, and the treasure you shall carry away will
be lost to you and your family for ever.”
So they gave the promise he required, and as they were very tired they
concluded to wait till morning and made their frugal supper under the
trees, drinking plentifully of the clear, delicious water; and slept
peacefully till morning.
The little gray man woke them early. “Come,” he said. “The sun is
rising, we must away.” So they arose, and taking a drink of water and
eating a tortilla, started.
For some hours they traveled on in the pleasant morning air, and just
as the sun was beginning to be scorching in its heat they entered a
deep ravine, and there they saw the wonderful Golden Boulder, and
countless precious stones, and nuggets of bright yellow gold scattered
round it upon the shining sand.
Dick and his companions, were bewildered by the glittering spectacle,
and a thousand glowing visions filled their minds. The little gray man
blew a shrill whistle. Another little gray man appeared, and bowing
low, said humbly:—
“What is the will of the master?”
“Food and drink!” answered the master.
The slave prepared a more comfortable meal than the young men had
enjoyed since they left the encampment, and they ate heartily while the
slave served them.
When they had eaten, the chief ordered the slave to lade the mules with
treasure and conduct the young men to the confines of the valley.
Then Dick returned the bow and quiver to the gray chief, and bid him
“Never forget your promise, or beware!” said the gray man, as they
turned away, and looking back they saw in the distance the last of the
little man with up-raised fingers.
“He is saying again beware!” said Dick, laughing. How they went,
neither of the young men could tell, but in a wonderfully short time
they were out of Death’s Valley. The Indian returned to his tribe, but
Dick, with a happy heart, started for Fort Tejon, and after a speedy
and safe journey he reached his early home.
It soon became rumored about, that he was the richest young man in
the whole country. In a short time, poor Dick, the half-breed, was
forgotten, but every one courted Don Richard Fielding, the rich and
elegant Spanish gentleman.
There was a great feast made at the fort, when Don Richard was united
in the “holy bonds of matrimony” with the Colonel’s lovely daughter,
and never was man more happy than he, when he led his golden-haired
bride through the halls of his pleasant mansion.
“We will travel by-and-by, love,” he whispered. “But first we will rest
and be happy in our own dear home!”