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University of California Berkeley

THE PETER AND ROSELL HARVEY
MEMORIAL FUND



tfC-






OFF TO CALIFORNIA.




" In his fear lest the party should *tart without him, he had jumped in such blind
haste on the gunwale of the boat that he lost his balance.

Pg.



OFF TO CALIFORNIA



A TALE OF THE GOLD COUNTRY.



ADAPTED FROM THE FLEMISH OF HENDRIK CONSCIENCE



JAMES F. COBB, F.R.G.S..

A (J Til OK OK
THE WATCHERS ON THE LONGSHIPS,' 'MARTIN THE SKIPPER,' ETC.



ILLUSTRATED BY A. FORESTIER.



LONDON:

WELLS GARDNER, DARTOX, &- CO.,
PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS.



CONTENTS



/AGE
CHAP.

I. THE GOLDEN BAIT
II. THE DEPARTURE

III. ON THE SCHELDT

20

IV. AT SEA.

QO

V. THE LION'S DEN

34

VI. THE EQUATOR .

38

VII. THE SHARKS

VIII. THE MUTINY .

IX. THE ARRIVAL . * *

55

X. SAN FRANCISCO .

fiQ

XI. THE LETTER

XII. THE GAMBLIN'G-HOUSE . *

QO

XIII. THE WEAPONS .

91

XLV. THE SAVAGES .

94
XV. THE BANKRUPTCY

inn

XVI. THE GOLD SEEKERS
XVII. THE BUSHRANGERS

XVIII. THE NUGGET

122
XIX. THE GHOST

XX. THE WOUNDED MAN 13

XXI. THE VAQUEROS *''*



f\ CONTENTS.

CRAP. PAOB

XXII. THE DIGGINGS . . . , .148

XXIII. THE GOLD DIGGERS . . . .164

XXIY. LYNCH LAW . . . . .175

XXV. THE GRIZZLY BEAR . . . .184

XXVI. THE WILDERNESS . . . .192

XXVII. EL DORADO. ..... 204

XXVLU. THE WELL ..... 213

XXIX. TREACHERY . . . . ,227

XXX. THE CORPSES ..... 235

XXXI. DESPAIR ..... 249

XXXII. DELIVERANCE ..... 259

XXXIII. THE RETURN . 270



ILLUSTRATIONS.



IAGR
DONATUS KWIK LOST HIS BALANCE AND PELL INTO THE

WATEB ..... Frontispiece.

THKEE OB FOUR bAILOKS THREATENED VICTOR WITH

THEIR KNIVES ...... 42

WHERE DO YOU COME FROM? . . . . 84

A LASSO CAUGHT ROOZEMAN ROUND THE WAIST . . 141

DONATUS KWIK GOES INTO THE POOL . . . 215

THE WORK OF THE CALJFORNIAN SAVAGES . . 25&




OFF TO CALIFORNIA.

CHAPTER I.

THE GOLDEN BAIT.

|NE morning in the month of May, 1849, a
young clerk was sitting alone before his desk,
in the office of a small commercial house at
Antwerp.

He was tall and fair-haired ; there was a dreamy
look in his delicate face, though hope and vigour shone
in his bright blue eyes.

He was busy writing : but he often stopped in his
work to cast his eyes over a newspaper which lay open
on the desk before him. Its contents seemed to have
a strange charm for him, and he was plainly vexed with
himself for allowing his attention to be so often turned
away from his work. In the paper he read :

" Gold is found there almost on the surface of the
earth, and in such abundance that one has only to stoop
down to pick up treasures. A sailor lately found a
nugget of gold weighing more than twenty pounds, and
worth at least 25,000 francs."

A



2 OFF TO CALIFORNIA.

The clerk looked up sadly.

Some one opened the office door ; it was a strongly-
built young man, with ruddy cheeks and black sparkling
eyes a picture of health and good humour.

" Jan, my friend, you will catch it ! " said the clerk at
the desk. " Our master has been to the office, and
showed his vexation at your absence."

" That's no matter to me, my good Victor," replied
Jan. "It's all settled; I am going to say good-bye to
the trade of quill-driving, and to this gloomy prison
where I have so foolishly wasted some of the best years
of my life. Hurrah ! I am going to roam over the
world, free as a bird, and owning no other masters but
God and Fortune ! "

" What do you mean ? " asked his companion.

" This is what I mean," said Jan, drawing a folded
paper from his pocket " Here is the prospectus of a
French Company, * The Californian,' which is having all
sorts of tools and implements made to work the best
mines in California. There, where the most precious
metal can be picked up with the hands, it will be able to
collect gold in heaps. Any one who likes can become a
shareholder. For 2000 francs we get a free passage,
second class, in one of the Company's ships, and receive
two shares, which give a right to a double portion of the
gold obtained. In California one has nothing to care
for: the Company procures for its shareholders good
food and comfortable wooden houses. As a third-class
passenger one pays only 1200 francs, and receives but
one share. My father has consented to sacrifice 2000



THE GOLDEN BAIT. 3

francs, so I shall become a shareholder in the ' Califor-
nian Company.' The ship, the Jonas, will sail from
Antwerp in a fortnight, for the gold land. Four other
vessels will he despatched by the Company to California ;
among them one from Havre, with the tools and the
directors, who ought by this time to be at sea to receive
the shareholders when they arrive."

Victor gazed at his friend with sparkling eyes. What
he had just heard filled him with wonder.

" You are starting for the gold country ? You are
going to California ? " he said.

" Yes, old fellow ; within a fortnight/'

" You you, Jan ! Has the thirst of gold so suddenly
taken hold of you?"

" Why you, Victor, have yourself turned my head,
by always talking about the strange country which has
just been discovered. In the voyage I see a good way
of escaping from this stifling office life. Ah ! to-morrow
I shall be free ! to-morrow I shall become a shareholder
in the Company ! to-morrow I shall secure my bertn ou
board the Jonas !"

" How lucky you are ! " said Victor, sighing. " I wish
I could become your companion I "

" You have only to express th* wish, Victor. Has
not Lucia's uncle saia iwenty times that he would lend
you the money required if you liked to risk a voyage to
California?"

" And my mother, Jan ?"

" Yes, your mother. But you know all parents are
the same. If one did not make some effort to jump out



4 OFF TO CALIFORNIA.

of the nest they would keep us under their wings till
one's hair began to turn grey."

" Why, Jan, the very thought of such a plan makes
my mother tremble ! Lucia's uncle, when he comes to
see us, talks of the long voyages he has made as a skipper,
and then my poor mother turns pale. She has always
been so good to me, that I cannot plunge a dagger into
her heart."

"But, remember, it is the only way of winning Lucia.
The captain is a rough fellow ; he hasn't much respect
for a man who passes his life bent over a dosk, and who
has only seen a little corner of the world. I reckon that
if you go to California, he will gladly give you his niece's
hand on your return."

" He has promised his consent, as soon as my salary
reaches 2000 francs."

"You will have to wait a long time, then. Why,
the chief said yesterday that he should be forced to reduce
our salaries ! "

Victor did not answer.

" Perhaps you are afraid of such a long voyage ?" said
Jan.

" Afraid I" exclaimed Victor. " Why, for six months
I have been longing to undertake it. Not only does
California open to me a chance of winning Lucia, but
there is another strong reason. My mother has beeil
hard on herself lately; she spent much of her little pro-
perty, in order to give me a good education. Her shop
and my salary scarcely maintain us. The time has now
come when my labour ought to bring some case to her



THE GOLDEN BAIT. 5

old age, and reward her for her love and sacrifices for
me. Afraid of a voyage to California! None could
long more than I do for that promised land ! Oh ! if I
could go with you, I should thank God for His goodness
with all my heart."

"Make another effort then, Victor. Eeflect that other-
wise you condemn yourself to remain all your life grow-
ing paler and paler hefore that wretched desk: your
youth passing away as sadly and regularly as an old
clock. Man's happiness consists in liberty, in seeing the
world, and gazing on new wonders every day. And
then, after two years of independence, to return to our
native land with gold enough to enrich all those whom
we love ! There's a glorious prospect for you ! "

" Yes, yes ! " cried Victor with excitement. " I'll ask
her again. I will heg her consent on my knees ; I will
entreat her by all she holds dearest in the world."

" And to-day I will go and see Captain Morcels, and
tell him he must help you. Let me arrange it. ... A
good idea ! AVo will share all together out there as
\\Q have done here good and evil."

" Hush, Jan ! " said Victor in a whisper. " I hear
our principal coming into the office."

" Don't say a word to him about my departure. My
father might change his mind before to-morrow : one
can't say."

The two clerks took up their pens, and when the door
opened their heads were bent in silence over their paper,
as if they had been for hours absorbed in their work.




CHAPTER JT.

THE DEPARTURE.

(T was on a hot sunny afternoon in the month
of June when a large crowd had assembled
on the banks of the Scheldt, watching a fine
brig which, with flags floating in the wind, lay moored
in the port, ready to sail. It was the Jonas, fitted out
by the French Californian Company, the first ship to
make a direct voyage to the newly- discovered gold land.

The brig's deck was already swarming with passengers,
who waved their hats in the air. Hearty wishes of
success were sent to them from the banks of the Scheldt.
It was like a fair, in which the inhabitants of Antwerp
did not seen: to take less interest than the excited gold-
seekers, although the emigrants were mostly French
from the northern departments, for very few Belgians
had been enticed by the brilliant promises of the Cali-
fornian Company.

A couple of boats lay alongside the quay, to take on
beard any laggards who were spending their last hours
in the town. Towards these three persons were hastily
making their way a tradesman with his two sons, who
had just come from a street which led on to the river.



THE DEPARTURE. >

" Look, look, father !" said the elder of the two young
men ; " there is the Jonas, ready to be off! "

"May God protect herl" said the old citizen, with a
sigh.

"Surely you are not going to he sad now, father?"
said the young man, laughing. " What are two years
in a man's life? I have wasted six at least before that
stupid desk. Don't be anxious, but happy and confident.
I shall return with heaps of gold and treasure, and it
will be my pride to have won for my father and mother,
a happy and peaceful life. Don't be anxious, therefore :
you will never have any reason to regret this voyage.
But where is Victor ? Is he lagging behind, now that
the critical hour has come ?"

" His mother and he have so many things to say to
each other," said the old citizen.

" Look, Jan, there they are coming," said his brother.
" There is poor Lucia Moreels ; she is trying to appear
happy, but the captain's servant told me a week ago that
when she is alone she does nothing but cry."

" Well, that is a proof that she loves my friend Victor,
so I am glad of it for his sake."

The persons whose arrival had been announced by
Jan's brother soon appeared at the corner of the street.
They consisted of an elderly lady, who walked by the
side of a young man, whose hand she pressed with
anxious tenderness as she spoke to him.

Behind them came an elderly man with sunburnt
cheeks and large whiskers ; on his arm was a young girl,
whom he was trying to persuade that a sea voyage was



a OFF TO CALIFORNIA

not more dangerous than a little excursion to Brussels
by railroad.

" Victor, Victor ! make haste ! they are already weigh-
ing anchor ! " cried Jan, who stood up in one of the boats ;
"there is no time to lose."

"When the widow saw from, the banks of the Scheldt
the frail skiff which in a few minutes was to bear
perhaps for ever her beloved son from her arms, tears
ran down her cheeks, and she pressed him sobbing to her
heart. Victor was deeply moved by the tender embrace,
and he did all he could, by soothing words, to comfort his
mother in her bitter grief.

The old captain had at last to drag him from her
arms, while Jan again called out that the boat could not
wait any longer.

Victor took Lucia's two hands in his, and his earnest,
loving gaze seemed to ask her, " "Will you wait for me ?
Will you remember me?"

Once more he embraced his mother, whispering words
of love into her ear. " Well, since God wills it," she
said, sobbing, " go, my son ; I will pray for you every
day. Do not forget your mother."

Victor went down into the boat. The oars dipped
into the river, but at that moment a young man was
seen running in the distance, waving his arm above his
head, and calling out:

" Wait an instant, I implore you ! I am Donatus
Kwik. I have paid for my passage ; I must go to the
gold country, too I "

He seemed to be a peasant; the long blue coat



-THE DEPARTURE. 9

reaching nearly to his heels, his bronzed face, and his
large hands and brawny limbs, told that he had left the
labour of the fields, in pursuit of fortune.

His first step was not a happy one. In his fear lest
the party should start without him, he had jumped in
such blind haste on the gunwale of the boat that he lost
his balance and fell head first into the water. One sailor
seized him by the hair ; another, helped by Jan, dragged
him into the boat, amid shouts of laughter and applause
from the crowd on the quay.

The peasant looked round him with confusion, rubbed
his head, and as he spat the water from his mouth, he
mumbled,

" There is too much salt in that soup, comrades. You
need not have torn out half of my hair; I can swim
like an eel."

But as the boat bounded onwards beneath the quick
stroke of the oars, Donatus Kwik sank down on his knees
and held on to the gunwale.

Victor had scarcely noticed this incident. His eyes
were still fixed on the spot where his mother and Lucia
were making cheering signs to him, as if they thought,
dear souls ! that he was more unhappy than they were.

Jan stood up on a bench. He shouted one last fare-
well to his father and brother, waved his hat, and raised
a loud hurrah.

These joyful cries had a strange effect upon Donatus
Kwik. He jumped up, threw himself upon the neck
of the excited young man, and pressed him in his arms
with such force, that Jan felt the cold water wet him



io OFF TO CALIFORNIA.

to the skin. He angrily pushed away this rude
travelling companion, exclaiming,

" I say, my good fellow, are you mad or drunk ? "

" I think, perhaps, I have had a little too much ; the
Antwerp heer is very strong."

" Don't you see that you have wetted me and spoilt
my clothes ? "

" Ah ! I had forgotten the cold hath. Never mind,
comrade, we can buy as many clothes as we like out
there harrows full of gold ! "

" What part do you come from ? To hear you talk,
one would say from Mechlin ? " asked Jan.

"You have guessed nearly right I am Donatus
Kwik, son of a peasant at Natten Haesdonck, in
Brabant. My aunt is just dead. I have come in for
her money : but there is not enough to please me, so
I am going to seek for gold. On my return I shall
marry Helena, the notary's daughter, or Trina, the
burgomaster's, or the young lady of the Castle. I shall
pick up so much gold that I shall be able to buy the
whole village ! "

Jan, shrugging his shoulders, turned away to his
friend Victor, whose eyes were still fixed on the quay,
and began to chaff him about Lucia's love for him.

Donatus broke in on their conversation bv showing
them a piece of printed paper.

" Comrades, look here ! " he said.

"You are a bore, and somewhat too familiar with
your ' comrades/ " said Jan, in an angry tone.

"Well, I will say 'gentlemen/ as you wish it, though



THE DEPARTURE. n

I'm not so poor as you seem to think. Come, will you
tell me, gentlemen, what this is which I hold in my
hand ? "

" It's an English five-pound note," replied Yictor.

" Yes, but how much in francs ? "

" Bather more than 125 francs."

" I was afraid that the Jew with whom I changed my
money had cheated me with these papers."

" Have you many of them ? " asked Yictor, smiling.

Looking askance at the sailors, the peasant whispered
into the ears of the two friends,

" I have four of them, the remnant of my legacy. I
could have put these 500 francs out at interest with our
village hanker, but it is well to be prudent, as one can't
tell what may happen out there. Supposing we were
taken in, and didn't find any gold after all ? Donatus
then would not be the first to die of hunger ! "

The boat now reached the ship, on board which the
new-comers were quickly welcomed.

Then the Jonas weighed anchor and spread her sails.
She was soon moving onward before a fresh breeze.

She fired a farewell salute to the city of Antwerp,
which was replied to by the guns of the port. The
sailors on the yards waved their caps, the passengers
filled the air with their shouts, the quays resounded
with the good wishes of the crowd, as the Jonas glided
over the waters.

Donatus Kwik jumped about like a madman, waving
his arms about, and crying " Hurrah ! hurrah ! " in a
voice far louder than that of any other of the passengers,



ta OFF TO CALIFORNIA.

and very like the braying of an ass. As he pushed
against everybody, he received some cuffs in the back
and not a few kicks in the legs, but of these he took no
notice.

Going up to the two friends, who were still gazing at
the crowd on the quay, he pushed his head between
them, and said rudely,

" Ha ! ha ! comrades, are you ill ? I meant to say,
gentlemen, are you sad ? "

" Upon my word ! " cried Jan fiercely, " if you
bother us in this way I will knock you down ! Do you
hear, Donatus Kwik ? "

" But down in the third class there is not a soul who
understands me: they are as stupid as calves ; they don't
understand a word of Flemish," said Donatus.

" That's not my affair ; go away, I tell you."

The peasant, seeing he was in earnest, went away
grumbling.

" How proud these town folks are ! As if I shouldn't
find as much gold as they, and perhaps more ! If my
own countrymen won't talk to me I shall have to sew
up my mouth. Hurrah for California ! "

And turning round like a top, while he waved his
arms like a windmill, he jumped into the midst of a
group of merry people.

Now the city of Antwerp disappeared from the
passengers' sight. The Jonas scudded on before the
breeze.

" Come, Victor," said Jan, taking his friend's hand,
" let us go down and look after our provisions."



THE DEPARTURE. 13

" Yes," replied Victor ; " let us drink to the success
of our voyage ! "

While they were sitting below talking of their plans
and hopes, the Jonas was dropping down the Scheldt as
far as Callao, where she anchored to await the next
day's tide.

The captain, notwithstanding his harsh and severe
air, was very amiable towards the passengers; he
encouraged them to pass the evening gaily, handing
round pipes and tobacco, wine and spirits. " Hurrah
for our good captain ! " was the cry raised as he passed
along the deck.

All this time the sailors were exchanging glances with
one another, as much as to say that the captain's friendly
manners concealed a secret.

He allowed the passengers to amuse themselves up to
ten o'clock, then he gave them to understand that each
must go to bed in his appointed cabin. Soon all was
silent on board.

Towards midnight boats quietly left the ship and
made towards the Flemish bank of the Scheldt, return-
ing as quietly with fresh passengers. Then the sailors,
by the light of the lanterns, drew some planks from a
place where they had been hidden, and began to hammer
up berths out of these planks prepared for the purpose
for the new-comers. The passengers in bed in their
cabins were not surprised at the noise, for they had been
told that during the night a new kitchen was to be made
fcr their convenience.

In the port of Antwerp, as elsewhere, there are



i 4 OFF TO CALIFORNIA

regulations which fix the number of passengers which
a vessel is allowed to carry, according to her size. A
commissioner visits the ships before their departure,
counts the passengers, measures the space assigned to
each, weighs and examines the provisions, to be certain
that the passengers who embark shall want neither
space nor food enough. Upon the Jonas tbey had
found a superabundance, both of room and provisions,
and all was arranged for a hundred men, without
counting the sailors.

But whilst the commissioner was finishing his visit by
pronouncing the words " All right," the train from
Flanders brought fifty more gold-seekers, all Frenchmen
from Lille and Douai, who were guided to Callao by people
bribed for the purpose, in order to embark secretly at
midnight on board the Jonas. The result of this fraud
was a net gain of thirty or forty thousand francs for the
Company ; as they received the fares of fifty passengers
who, according to the law, they were forbidden to take
on board.

The addition of such a number of people would be a
cause of great inconvenience, but the captain did not
seem to trouble himself about it. He answered a
remark of his mate :

" That will be all right, Nelis. There are provisions
enough, and we will decrease the rations if necessary.-'

" But the water, captain ? There is not half sufficient
for so many people."

" I know it, Nelis. That takes too much room : we
will replenish our stock at the first American port."



THE DEPARTURE. 15

"The passengers will be greatly astonished at the
arrival of so many fresh companions."

" That does not matter in the least, if we can only
prevent complaints till we are out of the Scheldt. Once
in the open sea, I shall know well enough how to stop
their mouths. Tell Jacques, the chief cook, to light a
fire at once, and to cook beefsteaks for everybody. At
breakfast we will give them a good glass of rum. You
will see, Nelis, that they will be pleased at the arrival
of these new companions. Take care that all is ready
to raise the anchor at dawn. The vessel ought to be
under sail before the passengers have left their berths."




CHAPTER III.

ON THE SCHELDT.

JEFORE most of the passengers had made their
appearance on deck, the Jonas was already
several miles on her way. Some expressed
their surprise at the sight of so many new-comers, while
others suspected foul play; but the captain gave them
to understand that these passengers were really included
in the official list, they were late, having missed the train,
and therefore had been sent on to overtake the vessel.
The good beefsteaks and the rum convinced the most
suspicious ; and as the new arrivals seemed principally
merry fellows, they all soon began to dance and sing as
thoughtlessly as on the previous evening.

Now, however, Donatus Kwik had no desire to share
the general joy. The two Antwerpers found him sitting
sadly in a corner, his head buried in his hands. Victor,
out of pity, asked him what was the matter.

" I am ill, gentlemen," he replied : " sick as a horse
from the beer of Antwerp, and from the still worse gin,
which that poisoner of a captain made me drink last
night. Oh, my poor head ! There are three or foul
men threshing corn inside it ! How I wish I was in
our hay-loft at Natten Haesdonck ; for down in that
pigsty of a cabin, a marmot would scarcely be able to



ON THE SCHELDT. i?

sleep. I've had the night- mare all night : a block of
gold as big as a millstone on my stomach. It's all the cap-
tain's horrid gin ; I wouldn't give ten sous for my life ! "

"It all comes of taking too much," said Jan, laughing;
"you've only yourself to blame."

Victor tried to comfort the poor man, assuring him
that he would soon be better.

" May I know, if you please, with whom I have the
honour of speaking ? " asked Donatus.

"My name is Victor Roozeman."

" And that gentleman there ? "

" That is my friend, Jan Crops."

" Well, Mr. Rooseman, I thank you heartily for your
kindness. I was rude and stupid yesterday, I confess
Pardon me, gentlemen ; it shan't happen again. I can
read and write ; I have been well brought up, and ought
to know how to behave. When I am well again, allow
me now and then to exchange a few words with you.
It's not pleasant to have no one but myself to talk to.
Oh dear ! oh dear ! how my head burns ! "

All this time the Jonas, borne along by a fresh
breeze, was sailing down the Scheldt. Most of the
passengers on the deck were more excited than on the
previous day. They had partaken of their first dinner
on board : an abundant meal, consisting of roast beef
and fresh vegetables for all, and even some roast fowls
for the more delicate of the two first classes. After this
they had their ration of wine or spirits, under the
influence of which some had become quite drunk, and
others wild and flighty.


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