|Welcome To The Bullpen
Gold Is Where You Leave It
By H. E. McChristian
George sat back in the chair and had another sip of tea. He was sitting on
the front porch of his modest log cabin he had built half way up Baker's Mt.
As he gazed across the valley before him he was very much aware of the
two young men gently moving in the swing to his right.
"So, you'all came way up here to listen to an old man spin a tale, eh?"
"Uh, no sir, uh, that is,uh...we just wanted to ask you some questions about
the gold for a school project, uh, sir." That was the black headed one, he
remended the old man of himself when he was young.
"and what about you?" He spoke to the other boy who was quiet, blond and
seemed to have a more serious nature.
"Yes sir," he replied looking up from the notebook he was writing in," we
are writing an article for the school paper on prospecting, and since you are
the only one we could find, here we are."
George turned full around and gave this young man his full attention. He
saw something in this boy he had'nt seen in anyone for a long time. He
decided to take a chance on these two, mainly the blond. "What did you
call yourself again?. he asked.
"Henry, Henry Mathew. My folks have a sense of humor and said it was a
backward compliment." said the young man. George laughed.
"Well I kinda took a fancy to you'all so I tell you what I'm gonna do. I will
tell you the story provided you promise me two things." He looked up.
Black hair nodded his head, but Henry put out his hand and said,"that
is a promise sir." George knew right then he had picked the right one.
"Alright," said George, "I'm gonna talk, and you just listen, and write."
He nodded at Henry, " are you ready?" " Yes sir" he said.
"Ok, you know who I am, George Mulholland, but my partners name was
Hank Singleton. I call him partner because we were prospecting with
each other, but, in reality we did'nt like each other much. It was a deal
we made because we needed each other. Hank was a mining engineer
and I was a geologist. the big war was over and rather than do what we
were trained to do we decided to prospect for a year or two and see
what kinda luck we had." He reached for the tea glass and sipped slowly.
"Sir?" Henry asked,"are there still prospectors?"
"Yes son, there is, and some of them are still trying to find the trail I left
behind." George placed the glass back on the table beside him.
"Hank and I geared up and left Bolder in the early spring of 48, something
pulled us to the south mountains and days later we were in the hard-
-scrabble rocks above treeline. We wondered up and down the hills
until we worked our way to the badlands close to Arizona. After about
six weeks of dry camps and sand baths we were both rank as we could
be. On morning Hank said,"Why don't we work our way up higher an see
if we can find a place to bathe, I can't stand myself much longer and
besides all that you stink!" So, with that friendly conversation over we
moved back up into the mountains." Being dry he reached for the tea.
Blacky jumped in, "sir, did you and your partner, uh, Hank talk much?"
George gave him a look, "Yeah, boy, we talked when neccessary, we
just did'nt have much conversation." The tea glass was empty,"Martha?"
George called out. A little woman with a sweet smile came out the door
behind him. "Martha, would you bring us some more tea?" Without a
word she left and soon returned to fill ther glasses from a large pot.
Then, after bringing ice she ducked back inside. George continued.
"We had scouted Burnes Peak and was working our way back down.
After rounding a shoulder and easing through some brush we came to
a creek with a faint trickel of water. We studied it for awhile and after
discussing it," with this the old man nodded at blonde, " we decided it
was worth a try to follow and see if there was more water up above."
All this talk made a man thirsty so George took two long swallows of
tea and reached for his pipe which lay on the table beside him. The
young men waited as he filled his pipe and finally got it going to his
satisfaction, leaving his head hid in a cloud of smoke.
"After scambling up the creek-bed for a day and a half we reached an
escarpmant that looked to be about a hundred to a hundred and fifty
feet high. The creek followed the clift face around a knob and then
ducked throuth a crack about six feet wide in the wall of rock. We
talked about it and decided to see where it led." Puffing on the pipe
he leaned back and stuided the mountain side before him.
"That passage led a quarter mile or more through solid rock with
sheer walls rising high above our heads. Finally tho', we emerged
into a high meadow with a growth of aspen on each side of the creek.
The valley, if you want to call it that, was half a mile wide and two
miles long surrounded on all sides by sheer rock walls. Up on the
right side we could see wnere the creek ran back under the clift
face." "Sir," interjected Henry," Would it be a safe place to live in the
winter?" This was a smart young man thought George, ain't too many
people would have caught on so quick to the danger of a place like
that in winter time. "No, I don't think so," replied George, " with the
snow that high reaching fifteen or twenty feet I don't see how a man
could survive in the winter." He thoughtfully studied the young man.
"If a man was thinking about finding that place again he'd have to
start in early spring and follow the melting snow line up the mountain."
He paused to smoke and sample more cold tea.
"That was a strange place, neither of us had ever seen or heard of any
place like it. That creek started at the foot of the rock wall about half way
up the valley. when we got there it was what looked like a round hole
twenty foot across. Hank decided he was going to jump in and have a
bath but, knowing I could'nt swim and not knowing how deep it was I
chose to bath in the creek down below." He reflected on what he
could see in his mind as he remembered that day back yonder.
"I heard Hank yell something and looked just in time to see him in
nature's best run over to where he had left the rucksack he kept
all his goodies in. Who knows why a man does anything? I had no
idea that he had brought a pair of swimming goggles with him on a
prospecting trip, but he did. He finally dug them out, all the while he
was talking about that hole. After he found the goggles he ran back to the
hole slipping them on as he ran. He looked like a seal the way he
dived back into the water. I ran up to the water hole just as I was and
stood there shivering while I waited for Hank to surface again. He was
down there a long time and i was getting worried when he finally popped
up. "Whoopee, yelled Hank holding something in his hand.""What in the
world is wrong with you I asked." He tossed something at my feet and
said, "You're the geologist, you tell me!"
"I already had an idea what it was as I bent to pick up the missile Hank
had tossed at my feet. The weight, feel, look and experience all told me
that this was a gold nugget the size of a good hen egg." I turned just in
time to see Hank dive under the water again. This time when he bobbed
back up he crawled out on the bank and just set there laughing.
"What he had found was a pocket that prospectors call a placer that was
holding, no telling how many hundereds of years worth of washed out
nuggets of almost pure gold." George relit his pipe and puffed awhile.
"Uh, sir?" Blackie was never going to make a reporter this way, "did
you, uh, were you'all able to mine the gold?" George thought about it.
"No, son, we didn't have to, the gold was right down there for the taking."
George sipped at his now warm tea and gazed at Henry. Henry set
still and returned the gaze. "You ain't asking too many questions."
said george. Henry looked off across the mountain, studied blackie,
then let his eyes swing back to the old man. "No, I think I'll just listen."
All the time the old man had been talking Henry had kept up typing. He
had it all just the way it was told. He had'nt missed a word.
The old man sighed, puffed his pipe a few times then laid it down.
"I'm going to tell you now what you'all came out here to hear. Yes, we
hauled gold out of that hole for awhile. In fact, we hauled out more than
we could ever carry back down the mountain. But Hank would not pay
me any mind when I tried to tell him we had more then enough. He was
determined to get it all. On the second day is when our luck changed.
It started to rain terrible hard. I tried to get Hank to stay out of the hole
but he would'nt listen. Finally, while he was down in the hole a flood
of water came down the valley and rushed into the hole like it knew where
it was going. Too late I recognized that the hole was a natural french
drain for the whole valley! When the storm was over Hank was lost
forever in a maze of tunnels under the mountain. Well, I loaded up all
that I could carry, left the rest piled up on the ground, and walked three
weeks back to civilazation. I cashed in my gold, built this here cabin,
and this is where I've been since. And, no, before you asked, I never
tried to go back." George picked up his pipe and glass and started
inside the house.
"Wait sir!" Henry finally found a question."What ever happened to the
rest of the gold piled up by the hole?"
George turned around and looked at Henry for long moment before saying,
"I don"t know son, you'll have to write that part of the story."
Then he was gone.