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The Lure <f Gold






156 Fifth Ave., New York

Copyright 1904, by EDWARD J. CLODE

All rights reserved

June, 1904

Plimpton Press Norwood Mass.



I My Burden of Treasure . . . 1

II Advice from Doctor Quaritch . . 17

III On the Lighter my Burden grows Heavier 24

IV In which I am Relieved of my Burden 39

V Back to the Golden North . .. ; 51

VI Guarding the Beach . . ., .62

VII The White Buoy Bobs Up . . . 70

VIII A Glimpse of the Poetical Pirate . . 79

IX In the Steerage . . . . .91

X A Heavy Trunk . . .101

XI The Bulkhead Door . . . .110

XII The " Tai-Fung" . . . . 128

XIII Wreck of the Flying Mist . . . 138

XIV Searching for the Treasure . . 152

XV The Last Pound of Coal . . .166

XVI "Finding is Keeping" . . .179

XVII In the Lower Hold . . . .194

XVIII The Heat of the Gold-Hunt . . 202

XIX The Steam Collier . . . .210

XX In the Shaft Alley . . . .224

XXI In which my Burden is Resumed. . 234



John Morning .... Frontispiece

Dr. Quaritch 53

Bill 97

Pete Slattery 145

George Somers ..... 191

Max Fishley 237

The Lure o* Gold


AINGULAR wakefulness possessed me. I was
thinking and thinking of the treasure and
of how I was to convey it safely home. The
treasure was at that moment in the care of the trusty
landlord of the Golden North Hotel he of the honest
brown eye, the round frame, the heavy red beard and
bald crown. I had selected him as the temporary
guardian of my gold because he was the only responsible
person in the whole mining camp of Nome that I knew
intimately at the time.

Not that he was a model man, by any means. He was
rather uncouth, in fact. His red beard had a rat s-
nesty look and at times his language was as hard as
his beds. As to the solidity of the beds I could freely
have testified at that moment, if the one I was trying to
sleep in was a fair example. The frame of it was made

The Lure o Gold

of rough pine scantlings which supported a lumpy mat-
tre&s; two pairs of shoddy blankets and no sheet or pil
low. Still the blankets were clean and the box of a
room was neat enough, though the red-and-green wall
paper was saggy and wrinkly in places.

But it was not the hardness of my bed which kept me
awake, for I had camped on frozen tundra and sandy
beach, and minded rough beds not at all. Nor did I
miss the absent pillow, for my rigidly ruling father had
taught me when I was but a little tad that a pillow was a
dangerous luxury and that if I wished to be " straight
as an Indian " I might better dispense with soft " head
pads," as he called them; and, in this instance, at least,
I had been obedient to his teaching.

No, it was not my bed that was cheating me of my
much-needed sleep; but another bed in the opposite
side of the sleeping-box, not more than three feet from
mine, contributed not a little to my wakefulness. Mind
you, there was nobody in the other bed. I had seen by
the light of the candle, which I had extinguished some
hours before, that it was empty and that there was no
sign of any other person s occupancy of the room except
a small black leather bag, with the initials "R. N."
marked upon it. When the landlord of the Golden


My Burden of Treasure

North had conducted me to the room he had said that a
light-haired, oldish man with a short, sandy beard had
paid for the other bed for the night and had left his bag
there. The landlord could tell no more about the light-
haired man; nor did I, at the time, care to know, for I
had seemed to be uncommonly tired and sleepy after
my long tramp up the beach into camp; but soon after
blowing out the candle and getting under the shoddy
blankets I began to wish that I had had a little acquain
tance with "R. N.," my unknown roommate. Had I
locked the door before retiring I might have been able
to sleep until he knocked and then to get up and let him
in. But I had not locked the door, for the simple rea
son that it had no lock, nor even a bolt or " catch."

In the darkness of a strange bedroom one s fancies
are often weird to the point of absurdity, and when one
is only a lad of eighteen and has forty thousand dollars
worth of gold dust on one s mind one is likely to become
rather morbid in one s meditations. To be sure, the
treasure was not in the room. It was in a stout box
which was in the landlord s securely locked private
closet, which was just behind the hotel counter. The
box had a big brass padlock on it and I had the key of
that padlock, together with five hundred dollars worth


The Lure o Gold

of dust in my little "poke," or chamois bag, which was
at that moment reposing under the mattress within
easy reach of my hand.

At the head of my bed stood a rifle which I had car
ried all through my Alaskan travels for the purpose of
providing game for the camp table, which had oftener
been a rock in the open than anything more serviceable,
and once or twice had been merely a smooth block of

One comfort which I, in my fanciful condition of
mind, extracted from the situation was that " R. N.,"
whoever he might be, was a light-haired man. For of
course he had a light face; and there is something less
of mystery and more of everyday plainness and open
ness about a light face than there is about a dark one.
My overwrought brain what might it not have con
jured up had the landlord told me that my unknown
roommate was a dark man ?

I tried to reason with myself. What could "R. N."
have to do with me or with my treasure ? Supposing
that, at the worst, while I was asleep he should rob me
of the " poke " and take away the key of my strong box,
I still had gold enough. And the key he could do
nothing with that.


My Burden of Treasure

And yet my eyes would pop open and my ears would
be alert, for every time my weary lids closed I had a
vision of a blond ruffian putting the key in the padlock
and taking out of the box those eight buckskin sacks,
each branded with the plain " J. M." lettering and each
containing 287 ounces of the beautiful "ruby sand"
gold dust. But it was very heavy that treasure
it weighed about 190 pounds. How would he make
away with it ? I heard the rattle of a whiffletree out
side in the street and the crunching of heavy wheels in
the soft tundra, the angry call of a driver and the crack
of a whip. Why, my infamous roommate might easily
take the gold away in that wagon !

Then I heard other calls, the barkings of dogs and the
laugh of a woman. The whole sleepless, busy, tent-
and-shanty city was still awake and astir, and it must
have been after eleven o clock. In the Arctic in June
eleven at night is not late, and at Nome you really
have no night in the summer; but in September, when
there is more than a hint of the near approach of the
long winter, it is dark enough at eight. Yet there was
so much feverish activity among the gold-seekers and
those who followed them to leech away their gold, that
the foolish system of staying up all night, so prevalent

The Lure o 9 Gold

in other Arctic mining camps, was adhered to in this
oddest of all gold-diggings in the world. And how
could anybody, like myself, who really wanted and
needed sleep, find it in such a wild, noisy, bustling
place as this Nome ?

Nome! What a leaping inspiration the name had
been to me ! What a loadstone it had been to the thou
sands who were now crowding its crooked streets ! What
a golden hope! What a lure! My thoughts ran far
over the tundra and up the yellow Yukon to the Klon
dike from which my father and I had come in the early
summer. In the Klondike we had felt the frustration,
the depression and the bitterness of the late comers
the men who were in at the tail of the stampede. Not
but that my father was seasoned to defeat, though he
had never been soured by it. He was an old Califor-
nian miner and had seen many a fair prospect melt away.
Of late years he had been making a modest living as a
mining secretary in the office of a San Francisco com
pany. When the Klondike rush set in he had felt the
old gold fever stirring in his blood, but he hesitated for
months about going. Finally the impulse became too
strong for him to resist any longer, and he declared that
he would go to the gold fields and take me with him.

My Burden of Treasure

We sailed from our home city up through the wonder
ful Inland Passage, threading among fairy summer
islands up toward what seemed to me the golden
top of the world up past shores on which in those
June days it seemed always afternoon up past the
mysterious Taku Inlet, to Dyea and thence by the trail
over the rough Chilkoot and down by Lake Linder-
mann, Lake Bennett and the swift-flowing upper
reaches of the Yukon, over the tragic White Horse
Rapids and down to Dawson.

But we were too late. There is no gold at the tail
of the stampede no gold, only the galling regret,
" Had we but been among the first ! " Our means were
running low and we could make but a short stay in
Dawson. After the weary pilgrimages in which we
sweated under the hot, searching, ever-shining sun and
fought the mosquitoes up and down the creeks after
vanishing golden Meccas, my father was offered a posi
tion as bookkeeper at St. Michael s, a small trading
post near the lower end of the Yukon, a thousand miles
away, and he hastened there before his last dollar
should be gone, that he might earn passage money for
the two of us in some homebound vessel.

I now thought of that wonderful river journey, the

The Lure o 9 Gold

grandest I had ever made, down that broad and beauti
ful Yukon, steaming by banks lined mile on mile with
silent armies of spruces, or by inspiring cliffs, splashed
with red and yellow, or along great sweeps of tundra
over which I saw the weirdest cloud piles, electric
storms and majestic plays of sunlight; on down by the
villages of the wild Esquimaux, from which strange
women would run out to secure the boats that would
have been sent adrift by the great wave from our paddle-
wheel; and so on through the broad mouth of the river,
into the great Norton Sound and on to the low-lying
island where the roofs of St. Michael s greeted my eyes.
There my father found that the position he had come
so far to take had been given to another man. But he
was not downcast. He was a plucky man, that strict-
living, abstemious almost Puritanical father of mine,
and he walked the streets of the little town day after day,
looking for any sort of work with which to earn the
coveted passage money. At last we secured positions
as carpenters helpers, for which service we were so
well paid that in a short time we had enough money to
buy second-class passage to San Francisco.

But just as we were about to purchase our tickets and
go aboard the steamer the news came flying down the


My Burden of Treasure

coast that up on the Cape Nome beach, a hundred
miles north, gold had been discovered in the sands and
that three men had washed out a thousand dollars in a
single day.

At first my father shook his head, but when a man
in whom he had unlimited confidence assured him that
the story was true and that by hurrying to the beach
and getting in at the head of the new stampede he could
make an easy fortune, he hesitated no longer, and we
set sail in a small steam schooner for the new Eldorado.
There were not many miners on the beach when we ar
rived, but though we were almost in the vanguard of
the great army that was to follow, the hope of securing
even a "grub stake" seemed at the first sight a des
perate one.

Looking back as I lay there that night in the Golden
North Hotel I could see the whole picture: Before us,
just at the eastern rim of the broad Bering, stretched
a gray, desolate, forbidding shore, wind-swept, bare,
low-lying, mist-haunted, with here and there a dreary
heap of drift over which mournful-voiced sea-fowl
wheeled and cried.

When my father saw the gray picture, I knew at once
by the sad look in his brown eyes that he was bitterly


The Lure o y Gold

disappointed. Being an old miner, he knew the " lay "
of gold fields as well as any one I had ever seen.

"Of all the unlikely places to find gold," he said,
"this is the most unlikely. Those low-lying hills," he
went on, pointing to the east, "this long, wide strip of
tundra, and then the beach why, it s absurd ! There
is no place for the gold to wash down from. There are
such things as beach diggings, of course, but gold is
secured there only in limited quantities. Still, they
say gold is where you find it, and there may be more
than a little thin pay-streak here, but I doubt it. Let s
get ashore, my boy, and find out the worst. We ll not
waste much time here."

I remember how I shivered when I splashed through
the low waves beyond the surf when our boat was
beached and we carried our packs ashore. How cold
the water was! Within an hour after our arrival we
had staked our claim and had prospected it.

" Six dollars in the very first pan," said my father to me
in a low, hoarse tone. I had never seen him so excited.

He worked like a slave all that first day and night,
digging and washing the gold, and I worked with him,
cold and stiff and only half-fed, for we hardly took time
to prepare and eat our meals.


My Burden of Treasure

And then followed the weeks of hard labor, shoveling
the sand and carrying water from the sea and washing
the " dirt " rock, rock, rocking our little machine and
cleaning up every night many ounces of the shining dust.
The new, clean-looking buckskin sacks we had brought
from San Francisco and had given up all hope of ever
filling were soon bulging and heavy with gold. We had
not washed out one-half of our little strip of beach be
fore it became apparent that we should soon have a

But in the midst of our exultation over our splendid
prospects my father was laid low with fever. He had
drank the evil tundra water, and in his overworked and
weak state it had poisoned his system. I cared for him
in our little tent on the sand, and procured medical ser
vice for him from among the many hundreds that came
thronging to the golden beach. But at the end of a
month he was still barely able to lift his head. The
doctor told him that his only chance of recovery was to
leave the place, and he offered to see him safely aboard
ship and take him down to San Francisco with him, as
he was sailing back to that port. The sick man was
extremely loath to go, and for a time insisted on remain
ing, that he might help to clean up the fortune that

The Lure o Gold

awaited us on the beach. But the doctor finally per
suaded him that to go back home was the only wise
course left for him. I saw the force of this reasoning
and, much against his will, my poor, weak father was
made to see it, too, though he groaned when he thought
of leaving the fortune that seemed within his grasp.

" You can t stay here, Mr. Morning, and drink that
water and live on pork and peans and canned stuff, *
said the doctor with a tone of authority. "They re
almost enough to kill a well man."

" But the mine we must wash out that sand."

" Oh, leave the mine in charge of this young man,"
said the doctor. "He s tough. He ll see it through
and bring the gold home safely."

"Do you think you could do it, John?" asked my
father, with just a little apprehension in his tone, which
was natural, as it probably seemed to him that it was
only the other day when he had whaled me for some
childish folly. Still he must have seen what bulging
muscles I was bringing to bear, shoveling on the pay-
streak, and he must have seen that by this time I had
learned never to fill the rocker too full nor to let the
water splash out of it while it was in operation.

So it was decided that he should go back home and

My Burden of Treasure

be nursed by my mother and be given proper diet and
attention. As soon as he sailed it was the most de
pressing morning of my existence I hired men and
set to work constructing sluice-boxes, as I wanted to
hasten the washing. I bought sea-water from a pump
ing outfit, and soon was cleaning up every night from
my riffle-box four times the amount of gold that it would
have been possible to wash in the rocker in a single day.
In six weeks I had washed out the last shovelful of the
pay-streak, and after settling accounts with my men
and paying my water bill and other expenses I had
left, as nearly as I could compute it on my gold scales,
a little over $41,000 worth of dust.

And now on the morrow I would be aboard ship
bright and early and off for dear old San Francisco, to
surprise my good people with the wonderful tale of
what our little strip of beach sand had washed out.
There it was in that box in the landlord s closet a
fortune. Not a large fortune, but enough for me and
mine for the rest of our days. And it represented to
me more than the mere dust in the box. It represented
four years at Stanford, a trip to Europe, a home-com
ing, a settling down to " the one honest business in the
world," as my father had called that of mining, in which,


The Lure o 9 Gold

to still further quote my philosophic parent, "you
robbed no man and profited by no man s needs, nor
his ills, nor his contentions."

But the treasure was not yet safe in the San Fran
cisco Mint at the time I lay there in my hard bed in the
Golden North Hotel, and awaited the coming of the
mysterious light-haired man who should occupy that
other pillowless bed three feet from mine. When
would he ever come ? Perhaps he was an all-night
prowler and was off after other people s gold, not know
ing how near to his bed lay another and perhaps
easier victim. With my hand on that particular
and most comforting lump of the mattress which
represented the five hundred dollars worth of gold
dust, I somehow grew a little easier of mind and at last
dozed off.

It did not seem that I had more than dropped into
slumber before I leaped up in bed, startled into sudden
consciousness by the creaking of the crazy door. I
did not say a word, but my hand involuntarily sought
the cold barrel of my rifle, and my fingers remained
rigidly fixed upon it while I heard the shuffling of a pair
of feet on the bare floor, the closing of the door and a
rustling of clothing. I hardly believe that I breathed


My Burden of Treasure

more than once during all this, but sat still as a post,
staring out through the darkness.

My roommate for I judged that it was he
struck his foot against the corner of my bed, and then I
could feel his leg press the edge of the cover. Was he
going to try to choke me to death, or stab me in my
sleep, and then take the gold and the key of the box ?
Well, he should not have them without a struggle.
He was so near to me now that I could hear him breathe.
Suddenly my alert ears caught the sound of a sharp
click. I did not fancy that sound in the least, it
could be nothing less than the cocking of a revolver.
So instead of being choked or stabbed, I was to be shot
or threatened with a pistol. I pulled the rifle toward
me. If it was to be too close range for firing my weapon,
I could at least give my man the butt.

I heard a scratch and a match burst into a bright
flame before my astonished eyes. Then it was the
clicking of a metal matchbox that I had heard and not
that of a revolver! My man saw the candle I had left
on the small dry-goods box which served for a table.
He applied the match to the wick, which soon flamed
up, revealing the round and familiar face of Doctor
Philip Quaritch, of Doctor Quaritch, jolly, good-


The Lure o Gold

natured Doctor Quaritch, who had been the friend
of our family ever since I wore kilts !

He was a ship s doctor, this old friend of ours, and
nearly every time his steamer came into port which
was generally a matter of two or three months he
would come to our house and partake of the best cheer
it afforded. Doctor Quaritch had known my father
when he mined in Calaveras County in the early days.
They had come out from the East as boys, and had
shared a lot of hard luck together on the plains and in
the mountains. At that moment of my mental dis
composure I could not have named anybody that I
should have been happier to meet than dear old Doc
tor Quaritch.





" WELL, well," said the Doctor, his round, blue eyes
opening wide as he stared at me, sitting stock-still
there, holding my rifle in my hands. "You wouldn t
shoot me, would you, young man? Put your gun

There was no look of recognition in the startled
eyes. The Doctor was gazing at me as upon a stranger.
I thought, as I quietly slipped the rifle into its place at
the head of the bed, that my face must have changed a
great deal in the past year, and it occurred to me that
a growing line of dark color on my upper lip to which
line I had given much careful attention must ap
preciably have altered my appearance. I felt the blue
eyes studying me curiously, while my blood was chang
ing from the chill of alarm to the warmth of assurance.
Suddenly the eyes blazed forth in full recognition.

" Why, John Morning ! " cried the Doctor, in his
great booming voice, grasping my hand and giving it a


The Lure o Gold

regular milkman s grip. " Is it really you ? Why, of
course it is! I d know the son of William Morning
anywhere, by his father s big brown eyes and square
lower jaw, to say nothing of that nose. How are you,
John, my lad, and how did you get away up here ? "

"I m pretty well, thank you, Doctor Quaritch,"
said I, "and I m awfully glad it s you. I thought it
might be well, I didn t know who it might be."

" So you were prepared, eh ? " he laughed, glancing
at the rifle. " But what are you doing here ? I
thought you and your father were in the Klondike."

"So we were; but we couldn t strike pay there, and
so we came over this way."

While he sat on the edge of his bed, with his short
legs hanging over, his face alight with friendship and
his merry blue eyes agleam, I told him of our adven
tures and of the fortune we had made.

"It s too bad he took that fever," he said, referring
to my father, his eyes full of kindly sympathy, "but it
couldn t have been typhoid; probably only a malarial
disorder what our distinguished medical friend
Shakespeare would call a distemper of the blood.
Wish I had been here. I might have seen what a ship s
doctor could have done for him. But your good luck


Advice from Doctor Quaritch

in the diggings that was fine. Let me congratulate
you, John."

" Thank you," said I. We talked about the treasure
for a while. " Are you still with the Modesto ? " I asked,
remembering the times I had accompanied him aboard
that old steamer, as she lay along the musty docks.
And at the mention of the name I could almost sniff
the pungent odor of the drugs in the stuffy little state
room, and see the rolls of bandages and the mysterious
and evil-looking instruments in the little sea-chest.

"Yes, yes; still aboard the old Modesto," he said,
picking up the black bag with the " R. N." marked
upon it, and opening it meditatively, and, as I thought,
a little awkwardly, which was explained by his saying:
"This isn t my valise. It s one I borrowed from Mr.
Nason, our first officer. These are his initials here.
Nason is a mighty good fellow, and he sails in a mighty
good ship. Yes, the Modesto s all right. Not much
for speed alongside some of those new steel greyhounds,
but she s staunch and steady, my son, and I like the
feel of her deck under my feet better than that of any
craft I was ever aboard of. Her machinery doesn t
shake you all to pieces. Why, some of those boats
make you feel as if you were riding on a camel that had


The Lure o Gold

palpitation of the heart; but the Modesto is steady as a
church. *

" No doubt of it, sir," said I, with a slight feeling of
duplicity, for I was mentally making allowances for
the Doctor s strong attachment to his steamer, which I
had heard at least one marine man along the San Fran
cisco water front refer to as " the crankiest old tub on
the Pacific." But men who sail often in a vessel are
likely to come to have a strong affection for her, and
the Doctor s remarks about his ship seemed quite
natural to me, and full of a laudable loyalty.

The Doctor took his pipe from his bag and, lighting
it, proceeded nearly to stifle me with prodigious clouds

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