It was early spring of the year 1860. A farmer boy, just turned his twenty-first year had arrived at the stage of gold fever that he had to go.
Every thought pointed to the land of gold. The dear old home
farm with itís fairly remunerative fields had no charm for him.
One bright Spring day he bade adieu to weeping mother and sisters brothers he had none, and his gray-haired father had gone to the back fields that he might avoid the painful parting that took his own dear son from him for so long a time and perhaps_____ forever!!
Our story is not of the lonely home but of the boy starting out to win or lose his life, which would it be? I am not a romance, but, facts so. Do not expect to find my hero anything but a generous hearted, fun loving boy, doing, daring, sorry to leave home and sorrowing loved ones yet full of bright anticipation of the time he should return home with his full share of California, hidden wealth at his command; place his loved ones in comfort far surpassing all the old farm could ever hope to do.
Arrived at the Phelps Station he met a friend and chum, who was to accompany him. They had agreed to journey together to the land of golden dreams.They entered the car and selected their seats, deposited their hand baggage and comfortably settled themselves to talk of their hopes and expectations full of conjecture as to what lay before them in the future they were going forth to meet. They had scarcely noticed their fellow passengers, when their attention was attracted by a couple of young men about their own age sitting directly across the aisle from them. They were evidently city boys out for a pleasure excursion, anxious to display their superior airs and graces for the benefit of their fellow travelers.
Our boys had not noticed them until one of them attracted their attention as well as that of the rest of the people in the car by holding his head far out over the aisle and brushed it most vigorously, making some remark in regard to the hay seeds and at the same time giving the boys across the aisle a quizzical look, as if to say "You are the Hay Seeds I mean". After which proceeding straightened up and settled back in his seat in a very self satisfied manner as if he might be expecting applause for having done a smart thing.
His Maneuvers had, none of them, been lost on our quick eyed boy. Taking the full point of the joke, application and all he decided to pay him in his own coin. So while under the pretense of arranging his baggage more to his satisfaction, he had secured an insect which, if not in good faith a louse, bore a wonderful resemblance to that old fashioned pest. His sharp eyes had spied it crawling on the coat collar of a rough individual seated just in front of them. He had, with a dexterous move of thumb and finger, secured it in what looked like a purely accidental manner. As Mr. Fop raised his head after the vigorous brushing he had given it, our friend eyed him sharply letting his gaze rest on one particular spot on his head until the steady gaze had attracted the other passengers and Mr Fop began to wiggle a bit uneasily under the gaze as though he did not just understand the meaning of it and might have a little fear of bodily chastisement.
And well he might when he took in view the sturdy proportions of our sturdy country boy compared with his puny limbs. However Jim was not one of the belligerent kind unless he saw necessity for standing on the defensive, and then he knew well how to use the force dame nature had blessed him with in brawny hand and arm.
After making his Mr. Fop quite uncomfortable under his gaze, he rose to his feet and quickly reaching for the top of the victimís head were the hair lay smooth and shining having been well greased with hair oil or formation of some sort. Apparently picking something from the spot he had been gazing on, he dropped it on top of the shiny silk beaver hat the fop held in his hand. Twas but a small spec but it showed well by contrast as it scampered around right lively, glad to be released from the confinement of thumb and finger which had held it with gentle pressure in order not to injure itís powers of locomotion. "My friend," said Jim with a kindly patronizing tone while he looks expressed the greatest surprise "here is one you left. I have always heard this kind of hay seed is very hard to get rid of when once located."
Mischievous Jim seated himself quietly and demurely as though he had done his neighbor an act of kindness. A hearty laugh burst from all the neighboring passengers who had watched the proceedings with great interest as a break in the monotony of railroad travel. They all seemed to enjoy most thoroughly the discomfiture of Mr. Fop who sat as if he had been stricken dumb and gazed at the race beastís with an almost idiotic stare.
He seemed to have lost all powers of speach or motion until his friend, seeing his state of bewilderment came to his aid, and reaching over brushed it away from him. He then roused himself and with an oath hurled at Jim, which loudly proclaimed his standing as a gentleman, and with a look intended to anhialate him, he then relapsed into silence. He would occasionally raise his hand to his head in the act of brushing when recalling himself he would scowl and mutter threats of vengeance under his breath. At the next station he left the train unable to stand the comments of the other passengers. He was evidently bound for a hotel where unmolested he could investigate matters in regard to his head , or as one malicious passenger suggested "Heís going to look for hay seed."
Our boy travelers pursued their way and New York was reached in safety. Night was there before them and they gladly betook themselves to their Hotel and slept.
The next morning saw them astir bright and early and eager. Not so much to see the sights of the great city, as to purchase their tickets and ascertain how soon they could be on their way again. In those days every steamer was crowded with humanity. First cabin, second cabin, and steerage. The first ship to sail had a full quota of passengers in first and second cabins, but there is always suppose to be room in steerage class. They were assured of good plain fare and being young and hardy they concluded to risk it, because of their ready cash, they rightly imagined, they would use for in the future. While elbowing their way through the crowd they saw two familiar figures, by a few extra long strides they overtook them. It proved, as they had thought, to be an old school friend and her father. They had for the past year been living away from Phelps and right glad they were to meet their old friends and still better pleased when they found Kate was bound for the same voyage as they were. She had already secured her ticket for second cabin passage on the same boat that was to carry our boys. She had taken a sudden start for California, her health being far from good, and her physician had advised a sea voyage. Her father accompanied her as far as New York. Very glad was she to find her old friends and have their company for the voyage. She had a cousin who was married and living in Sacramento. She wished to take her by surprise so, she told the boys she had taken under an assumed name of Kate Tiermont while her real name was Kate Talman. It was an innocent freak and yet it was to be in the here after a source of trouble to our friend Jim. As soon as a boat arrives at San Francisco the list of passengers is published, and her cousin would so know of her arrival before she could reach her house.
The next day the vessel was to sail, so our jolly young friends passed the intervening time by seeing what they could of the city sights and completing their preparations for the voyage. The morrow arrived and they were all in readiness some time before the hour set for the ship to weigh anchor. The young men found employment in looking the vessel over. They gave steerage a pretty close inspection and concluded if the weather and the fare was what had been promised they would weather the storm let it be what it might as far as accommodations were concerned. Miss Kate found her stateroom and settled her belongings, then coming on deck she joined the others and together they watched the preparations of the busy seamen as they made ready for departure. At last they were all in readiness. Kateís father bade her a loving goodbye, gives each of the boys a hearty shake of the hand and leaves them. A moment more and the planks are drawn and the ship swings clear of the wharf and they moving slowly out of New York Harbor. The big vessel is under way with itís load of humanity some eight hundred human beings all bound for the land of gold.