Chronicles of the Klondyke

Some Reminiscences of the Great Gold Boom

E. Ward Smith November 1 1918

Chronicles of the Klondyke

Some Reminiscences of the Great Gold Boom

E. Ward Smith November 1 1918

Chronicles of the Klondyke

Some Reminiscences of the Great Gold Boom

E. Ward Smith

First City Clerk, Treasurer, Assessor and Tax Collector of Dawson City


I RESIGNED my position as city assessor of Winnipeg to go to the Yukon, leaving on the fifth day of April, 1899. I arrived at Dawson City after the usual number of adventures—the story of which I may tell later if space permits—at midnight on Friday, June 18th. Dawson City was at the beginning of its boom days then and no more busy and pictursque spot existed on the face of the globe.

Within a year of my arrival it became necessary to assess the town and, on account of my previous experience, I was asked to undertake the making of the first rolls. I started work and gradually other duties developed upon me, until I became a sort of civic factotum—a combination of clerk, treasurer, assessor and tax collector. My work brought me closely in touch with the life of this remarkable mining centre; the men from the creeks and the hills came to the offices where I was located to register their claims and to weight in with their dust; I knew therefore, every man worth while in the Yukon and the stories of their trials and triumphs came to me first hand.

I feel impelled to write my reminiscences of the ten years that I spent in Dawson City because I believe that most of the material that has been published about that eventful epoch is misleading and second-hand. The Yukon was not the wild land of gun men and violence that is depicted in the popular novel. It was in reality one of the most orderly spots in the world. But the real story of the Yukon is more fascinating, more gripping than the tawdry make-belief of the novelist—the story of remarkable achievements; of the homeric contests of man against man, and man against nature; of tremendous risks, of engineering feats that stagger the imagination, of business deals of magnitude.

It shall be my endeavor to tell something of the real story of the Yukon, as I saw it myself and as I heard it from the lips of the men who were making history up there in the regions where gold abounded. For the convenience of the reader I am not attempting a chronological record but am gathering up my recollections of the ten years under various classifications. First of all I shall write My Recollections of Lucky Strikes.

A FEW days after I first reached Daw-‘Y son City I was walking along the main street with a new acquaintance when the most unusual personage I had perhaps ever seen hove in view. On the trail in I had met plenty of queer characters and Dawson City was full of them—Sourdoughs, Indians and breeds—but the newcomer was so different from any of the rest that I can remember every detail of his costume yet. He wore a silk hat, and a tall one it was, a little frowsy

perhaps, but resplendent and worn at a raffish angle; a necktie of brightest hue; a frock coat; a fancy vest; and patent leather boots that came to his knees. There were evidences of carelessness about the whole attire of the man except the shoes and they were new, speckless and as bright as the midnight sun. Despite his attire he had a hump to his shoulders that bespoke the old miner, and an honest open face. He carried himself with an air of confidence and assurance and I judged he must be someone of very considerable importance.

“Who’s that?” I asked my companion, who had been in Dawson some years.

“You certainly are a cheechako, not to know who that is,” chuckled the’ other. “Why that’s Charlie Anderson. A millionaire now. At least he was. He won’t be long at the rate he’s going.”

“You forg;et,” I reminded him, “that I’ve only been in Dawson a few days. How was I to know anything about him? Besides, I rather thought you were all millionaires more or less up here. How’d this Anderson make his pile?”

^0 my companion told me the story of ° what was up to that time the luckiest strike in the Yukon. Anderson was a Swede laborer in the very earliest days of the rush, a thoroughly honest, hard-working fellow who never tried to make a living with anything but his hands and whose idea of a good time was to make the rounds of the dance halls. He had

never had a claim of his own or, at any rate, had never made a strike. One night he wandered into Dawson with a thousand dollars in his pockets and a thirst. By the time he had reduced the roll to about eight hundred dollars, he was in such a state of torpor that a couple of friends took the rest of his money and left him with a deed to a claim No. 32 up on a creek that so far had not been prospected—El Dorado. When Anderson wakened up in the morning and found that worthless bit of paper in his pocket instead of his hard earned money he threatened to tear the place down. But the other two stuck to it that he had bought the claim and paid eight hundred dollars for it. Anderson could not remember what he had done, of course, so the sale stood.

It looked like the rawest kind of a deal, for nothing good had ever been struck on El Dorado. Just a few days before a man named Lippy, who had a claim a little below the one that had been foisted on poor Anderson, had been trying to sell a half interest in it for $200. When no buyers came forward, he had offered to sell for $100—the price of a bag of flour at the time. Poor Lippy was one of the few men who had brought their wives with them and he was desperately hard up for cash. He probably could not have given his claim away—which shows how low was the reputation of El Dorado around the camp.

So Anderson had every reason to feel

that he had been robbed. However, that claim was the only possession he had left in the world, so he decided to go up and work it. He went at it with all the patience and perseverance of his race; and three months later he came back to Dawson like a thunderbolt. His claim had yielded up a deep pay streak.

He was literally loaded down with dust and he roared

the news over the place at the top of his heavy voice, and started the maddest stampede on record. Everybody who could walk, seemingly, started for El Dorado.

Anderson paid royalty on over a million that he took out of his claim. Lippy, breathing heartfelt prayers of gratitude that no one had taken him up before, went back to his claim and washed a fortune out of it. Lippy’s wife wiled away the time by picking nuggets in a teacup from the dirt as it was hoisted from the mine. He paid royalty on $1,500,000 and then gave his claim to his foreman, Joe Poutras, who took $100,000 out and then sold it for a good round sum to a dredging company.

Lippy was a steady fellow and a church goer, so his fortune stuck. ' I believe he is one of the wealthiest'"rriCn^in Seattle to-day. snirffbn TOl

'# WA'P !H . 01 tlfl?snhke'With the suSge/rtió Mattr^itítehrVhtétif'W!..... •»«foiteWtó teH'WèjblHft/op f/KèWrcmV c&te^Mkmhg' ‘j lhvjtK l^/fbS'7Vy feÿÀs ¡Wid’ä Wsmi&WVétion-, ’"*Be»M Stfefl&iaWi o'wtík $ M . last I saw of them. •Tmß3 $ÄcK('*?W Wéhtotÿ'W''Cïtiilfié Ander-

son. He was going the pace strong when I first saw him and his money was melting fast. I met him quite often around Dawson after that. He continued to spend his money with a prodigiously liberal hand right up to the end. Then one day he disappeared.

Five or six years later, when I was out on a trip East, I saw Charlie Anderson working in a sawmill in Vancouver for $2.50 per day!

NEXT in the record of lucky strikes there comes to my mind the case of Old Dick Low. Dick was a roustabout, a lean, carrotty, rather dirty old customer who worked around Dawson at atvyokind of labor that offered,,(usejl-t® sdB/him nearly, evgrcj Àe .was wipioybd quite oftejJ ^ " "OíivomnarftíBwíMs.iln jtJie 9vAdffiÍflÍ6jf dinir-,jj.,shl)ul(h' perv'ÍpsOTwal eyreütf&gti&gtt,prrifl J.,tw&gtk , over -9aieWffl°MWí (treasurer, II¿s¥^»r WW mMmtopitfßaysQBiCity, ws «i-ysojAvinix¡log lil fling w^eg^í vqrwrtftn t o Ulcers cross the hall from me ^ny#¡j#®ftfl&gci-8» mejor 9«ÖVJS&g1J Pom foisifteeqgder’.s «ft f W1 * i M ■ ,frh (bg&gt régi sWfflîPyflraftoSafne.: tq.pnwwin ■“Ílhrte«ysrdw&gtíwiwT«to ,,,P,W evqryW(ffltf*il, days ICK Low had one idea in his head

and one only. Some day he was going to own a rich claim. We used to joke him about it. “Staked that claim yet, Dick?” we would ask him. And he would shake his head. “No, not yet, but—one never can tell and luck always comes a man’s way once.”

Dick got a job as a chain man with William Ogilvie when the latter started out to survey the Bonanza Creek. You see the Bonanza ran through very rocky country and the hills came pretty well down to the water’s edge in places. The claims along the creek were slices of five hundred feet width from hill to hill, cutting across the valley and taking in both shores from rim rock to rim rock. The prospectors had put their stakes ¡n the middle of mjk WQ-M9 fWWboius t anij.nQ Jftore^AFdpdKas fi,« m\ÿ* Y«d fortune? W&ltp-e ^dOTIHWWmiVjïlhe )«y°.,I.^i'YftïÂWBRÇe. RB* )d¡ay.pTid u i a i# Sátf toicf.’^TfVfrtí1 ^Sfí‘ to &gt rfNerwdVotkJ 'fefé&gt bp Vake ' ovni*'ftdy4f1 tm.q«.W Hití Vhaí flqti’t aibbtarigotn «Pyon#!,r/G¿t ’&ltW Bonf asuiE»?!'.‘>f Wt10f&lt Vi ’sY&khfr and ayob-couMW’t wiy'iíl at'Wfiy'^Hce!’”,' -vnri‘ JáfetííJtírc 89**'IfaSercKF ‘Díéfe Who &ltjiÍStúok /.dosdy lo'hísóne' i&ltfei,'“ï,waHt’to lniíabe\ptw.9 Yolíi’déWia fff'dt? ,tnd When: they Äirt&i/. tW^mhtfsdVi the 77 obnitispittjhey ■'•fbdnâ1 Wfàt ”xhd! 'ïtëtia! thing had happened. Every prospector

had overestimated his limit a little. The first claim was a full ten feet over the five hundred and the surveyor promptly pulled the second stake up and planted it ten feet closer. The next man had measurer fifteen feet over, so his second stake had to be moved in twenty-five feet. This went on until it began to look as though the claim holders farther up would be moved down off their workings entirely. This would never do, so Ogilvie left gaps whenever the wastage reached fifty feet or so—narrow strips that belonged to no one. These fractions belonged to the Government and anyone could stake them.

“See here, Dick,” said Ogilvie, when they had created the first of these, “you hustle back to Dawson and register this and you’ll have a claim on Bonanza after all.”

“Not me,” declared Dick, emphatically. “They only let you have one claim to a man. I’m not going to waste my chances on a strip that I can spit a chaw of terbacker across. No, sir!

“Suit yourself,” said Ogilvie.

Finally, they got away up the creek. It was all staked, of course, but the claims were not yet being worked to any extent. Here the stream took a slight bend and, when the party came to the turn, they found they had gained seventyfive feet on the stakers.

“Here’s a real chance for you, Dick,”

said Ogilvie, who wanted to humor his crotchety assistant along. “You can get seventy-five feet here and it will fan out to several hundred feet on the other side. That will be a man’s size claim for you.”

“Well,” said Old Dick, grudgingly, “I may take a chance on it.” He went back to Dawson and registered the claim. Then he took up his quarters at the bend of the stream and started to work. As soon as Dick had a hole to bed rock, he commenced to hoist pay dirt. Skookum Gulch entered Bonanza at this point and it seemed that the stream had been depositing the precious metal at the bend in most generous quantities, leaving the banks above and below practically

It was generally believed that Old Dick Low made at least a million dollars off that claim. He paid the usual percentage

of two and a half per cent, to the Government on a total of $850,000. Many a time when I was in the office of Dominion Collector Lithgow, the old fellow would come in with a bag of dust to be weighed.

“About ten thousand to-day,” he would say. The collector. would take $250 worth for the government and seal and stamp the bag. Dick would then lug it over to the bank and cash in. I was told that he paid for his meals with handfuls of gravel from his dump. Before washing up for dinner—$2.50 it would cost him at the nearest boarding house—he would walk over to the dump and take a fist full of the gravel. This he would wash out in the wash basin and transfer it to the boarding house keeper and then go in and have his meal.

Dick spent his million riotously and generously in the regulation way. He bought diamonds for the dance hall girls, spent hundreds in the bars every night, speculated, trusted his friends and in a whole-hearted, gluttonous, grimy way ran through every last cent of the wealth the frozen earth had yielded up for him.

/"\NE picture of Old Dick in his days of affluence remains clearly in my mind. He was gloriously drunk and staggering down the rough plank sidewalk of the main street of Dawson, with a ten-thousand dollar sack of dust over his shoulder

—held the wrong way! A golden stream ran down his back and left specks of yellow all along the muddy planking. People along the street stopped and yelled at him to right the sack. Some, more resourceful, followed in his trail and scooped up the sparkling confetti—into their own pockets. Dick pursued the uneven tenor of his way, quite oblivious of the fact that he was strewing a tidy fortune in his wake.

I had seen wooden sidewalks raised to retrieve a lost dime back in the east. Although hundreds of dollars worth of dust filtered down through the cracks in the walk that day, I never heard of it being raised.

Dick went to Forty Mile when his pile ran low. One day we got word that he had died there and that he had been buried at the town’s expense!

One winter day I strolled out from my office and went down the main street. It was cold and still, with not a breath of wind stirring and the smoke from the buildings mounted up in straight columns like countless transparent smoke-stacks. This was a common enough sight in Dawson City in the dead of winter. The mountains served as enormous windshields and in and above the city there was no motion in the air. As the chimneys in use in all buildings were tile pipe, the smoke mounted in a perfectly cylindrical shape, stretching up almost endlessly until the level of the mountains was reached. Then it was whirled off and merged into clouds. As various kinds of fuel were used, .. the color of these straight and seemingly motionless columns varied.7Some were densely black, pthers grey, some brown, others green. It was a wonderful sight. At a distance it looked like a multitude of searchlights pointing fixedly u p and motion-

Alth o u gh the phenomenon was

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common enough with us I never wearied of it and this particular day I was striding along with my head up, taking it all in, when I felt a resounding slap on my shoulder and a deep voice intoning in my

“Well, Smith! Are you going to join the rush down the river?”

It was an old acquaintance of mine, Captain Newcome, who ran one of the boats up and down the Yukon from SL Michaels on the Alaska coast to Daw-

son. He generally looked me up on reaching Dawson and always had some story or other to tell.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Gold. The biggest strike yet,” he declared. “They’ve struck it rich down on the Alaskan Coast. The gold is lying along the shores there so thick you can’t help stumbling over it, they say. They’re coming up from ’Frisco by the thousands I brought the news in here to-day and the place w’ill look like a tomb to-morrow. I’ll be loaded to the gunwales when I start

He went on to tell me how the discovery had been made. It was a remarkable story and I believe it to be accurate in every respect. Captain Newcome had it direct from one of the Lindstroms himself and I feel confident that it appears in print now for the first time. I have read many fictitious stories of the finding of the Nome fields from time to time but never as it was told to me that day by the bluff old captain.

It seems that a Finlander named Lindstrom got it into his head that he wanted to get to the Yukon but his funds carried him and a brother of his as far as ’Frisco only. One day he was standing on the waterfront looking out at the shipping w’hen the captain of a whaling craft came along. He looked the big Finlander over approvingly.

“Want a berth?” he enquired.

“Where you for?” asked Lindstrom.

“Bering Straits. Whaling,” replied the captain.

Here was a Heaven-sent opportunity to get up to the gold fields.

“Sure, I’ll go,” said Lindstrom, promptly.

“You’re a sailor?” asked the captain.

“Sure. I've got a brother too.”

“Bring him along. I can use you both.”

\XrHEN the boat had gotten nicely under ' ' way, the captain discovered that the Lindstrom brothers were hulking landlubbers and didn’t know the difference between the jib-boom and the anchor. He flew into a good nautical rage over it.

“I thought you said you were a sailor, you blanketty-blank numskull !” he roared at the one who had negotiated the deal.

“No. I said a tailor,” averred Lindstrom.

It was too late to turn back so the captain lugged the two around on the trip up and got the best use out of them that he could. The first bit of land they struck was a neck of the bay across from the mouth of the Yukon. He gave the brothers a supply of grub and put them off.

“I can’t be bothered with you any more,” he said. “That grub will see you through. Hoof it around the bay to St. Michaels—and I hope you find it good

and plenty rough. Be d-d to you

So the Lindstroms landed on the bleak looking coast and threw in their lot with a band of Esquimos. They found that the natives had plenty of gold and questioned them about it. The natives were not at all secretive in the matter and showed the brothers where the metal had been obtained. The coast line at that point—now Nome—was rich with the metal on the sandy shore. It cropped out everywhere. The Lindstroms went silently to work.

After several months of arduous work, the brothers struck across the hay to St. Michaels, taking a small fortune with them. They were silent as clams, never showed enough of the dust to create curiosity, never went near a bar and kept

to themselves. In fact they reached ’Frisco, where they went to complete arrangements for machinery to work their claims in a bigger way, before they let a hint drop. The hint fell in fertile soil, however, and one of the maddest stampedes in history began—right from ’Frisco itself! The boats going up were crowded with frantic men. Ships were chartered especially. In no time the whole coast line was black with activity.

When the news reached Dawson it created great excitement there. As Newcome predicted, there was quite an exodus down the river. Some got in in time but most of them came back finally to the Canadian side. It wasn’t very healthy at that time for the prospector on the other side of the line.

DERHAPS the most unusual strike in 1 the history of the Yukon was that which led to the founding of the town of Fairbanks. The Guggenheims were developing the copper mines north of Dawson and south and west of White Horse and men began to think that there would be more money in copper than in gold. At any rate they began to go up in droves to the new fields. There was a man in Dawson at the time in the liquor and provision business, who thought he sensed a special opportunity for himself in this development. He would transfer his stock to the copper fields and sell at enhanced prices. His name has entirely escaped my mind so I shall call him Farley.

Loading every dollar’s worth of goods he owned in the world on a small river steamer Farley started off down the Yukon. He steamed two hundred miles to the mouth of the Tanana, then turned up and traversed two hundred more miles, which took him across the American line. Then he ran on a sand bar and got the steamer so deeply imbedded that he couldn’t get off again.

Farley saw ruin staring him in the face. His capital was tied up in the stock and there wasn’t a customer within three hundred miles. If he left the goods where they were they would soon be of no value. Farley did some hard thinking. As he couldn’t take his goods to a market, the market would have to be brought to the goods.

One of his assistants was a Jap named Wada, who was noted as a fast “musher.” Farley gave Wada a small poke of gold dust and pointed cross the mountains toward Dawson.

“Mush back as straight and fast as you can go,” he said. “Show that gold around and keep a discreet tongue in your head.”

I remember well the day that Wada arrived back in Dawson. He made at once for a bar and bought a drink, paving for it from the poke. The bartender questioned him and Wada closed up like a steel trap. Not a word would he tell. The news spread around town that a Jap had arrived from a new quarter and that he had lots of gold. Wherever Wada went men crowded and jostled around him, ordering drinks and bombarding him with questions. The Jap played his part well. Not a word did he let drop until he had drunk enough to make loquacity seem reasonable even in one of his race. Then he let the precious news out: He had got the gold at a bend of the Tanana. He dropped just enough to let the eaer miners know the location.

A scramble started then, down river in all manner of boats and can-

oes, helter-skelter for the new gold strike. The floating population of Dawson disappeared almost within the hour. Wada disappeared also. He never came

When the first of the stampeders reached the bend they found Farley and ; his load still fast on the sand bank. He ! knew nothing of gold, of course. Wada had been with him, he owned, at one time, but had gone off and never come

j So the frenzied mob started in to stake • the stream both ways for miles. Farley sold his stock out at boom camp prices and cleaned up a tidy profit.

And the funny part of it was that the spot proved to be one of the most proj ductive in the whole American territory, j The first strike was made by a Swede again. He had arrived early, staked out a promising claim and gone to work. Usually bed rock is located fifteen or twenty feet below the surface. The Swede dug and dug without anv signs of bed rock. Other stampeders began to quit in disgust and to drift back Dawson ! «ay. But the Swede dug on and on with i the stoic perseverance of his kind and j when he was down one hundred and ten j feet his pick struck the rock at last. He I stooped and shoved his lantern down j where the light glinted on the surface of i the rock. It reflected back decidedly I yellowish.

“Hub!” grunted the Swede. “Perhaps that Jap fellow knew something after 1 all.”

j He methodically set to work to loosen ; a bucketful of the rock. Then be tooK i it up to the surface and examined it closely. It was literally rotting with ! gold.

j The news soread over the disgruntled ' camp like wildfire and men went back to work with renewed arder and hope. The place produced big and the settlement became so crowded that it finally achieved the distinction of a name. From this lucky strike the town of Fairbanks sprung up and the diggings were enually rich as those around Dawson. Within a year’s time there were over 10,000 people in the camp.

HARD work played a big part in most strikes, hut once the old adage of “a fool for luck” held good. A newcomer, an out-and-out cheechako from the soles of his shoes to the too of his head, went up Bonanza one day and stopped to talk to one of the lucky possessors of a claim in that coveten section. He averred that he wanted to locate somewhere around there. The miner looked him over pityingly and saw how green he was. Taking the newcomer confidently by the arm, he pointed to the top of the mountain' ridge behind him and whispered:

! “See that point there—the highest hit of all?”

“Yes,” whispered the cheechako, eag-

“Well, you go on up there. You’ll find good digging there.”

Note that he did not promise the claimseeker that he would find gold on the ridge, but merely good digging. The Sourdough was playing safe.

The newcomer took it in with all the credulity of the class of which he was so prime a specimen, procured an outfit and climbed the mountain side, a good eighteen hundred feet!

I Some weeks later back came Mr.

Cheechako to hunt up the man who had" given him the tip.

“You were right!” he cried. “I struck it up there—struck it rich! There’s more gold on the top of that mountain than there is in the valley bottom. Come back and locate alongside of me.”

“For God’s sake!” exclaimed the miner, dropping his pick and straightening up to look at the other. “Do you mean to tell me—”

“Gold, and heaps of it!” cried the greenhorn. “Why didn’t you go and get it yourself, seeing that you knew it was there all the time?”

“Well, you see,” mumbled the miner, “I got a good claim here and I didn’t want to be whole hog—seeing as you were a newcomer I thought you might as well have it.”

That is the story of how the famous Gold Hill with the White Channel claim came to be located. Geologists believe that at one time the whole Yukon district was a huge lake. This theory would account for the presence of a rich deposit in so unlikely a place. At any rate, theory or no theory, there the gold was. And a much puzzled and occasionally blasphemous miner, who had unconsciously pointed the way to the find, headed the rush for the new location.

FINALLY, let me tell of a lucky strike that nearly came my own way. We were bothered a great deal by owners of claims who wanted to sell out. I never paid much attention to them because a man does not sell a rich claim, not, at any rate, at a price that I could touch. One day a miner that I knew slightly, named Kelly—they called him “Spieler” Kelly in the camp—dropped in with a proposition. I knew him to be square so I gave an ear to what he had to sav.

“I have a claim on Dominion that I’ll sell you for $4,000,” he said.

“What’s wrong with the claim, Kelly?” I asked. “If it would be worth anything to me it should be worth something to

“I don’t understand it,” said Kelly. “This claim is right jam in with some of the richest on Dominion, but there hasn’t been anything struck on it yet. King MacDonald* had this claim and he dug all over it. Then he sold it to me. I’ll be honest with you. I can’t strike it rich, hut it stands to reason that the stuff is there somewhere.”

“That settles it,” I said. “If the old King couldn’t find anything there it isn’t there to be found.”

“It’s worth a gamble,” persisted “Spieler,” “I’m offering it dirt cheap.” Some time later he came back and said I could have the claim for two thousand. Apparently he was not finding the market very receptive. I told him I wouldn’t pay him two hundred for it.

Finally, he blew into my office one day with an expansive smile.

“I’ve sold it,” he announced. “Got rid of it to four Finlanders—dull, say-nothing -to-nobody fellows. Got a good price, too. They seemed satisfied. Went right to work on it like beavers.”

“They may make a strike,” I said. “It seems all the luck goes to these foreigners. Ever stop to think, Kelly, how many of the best things up here have been found by Swedes?”

“They won’t strike it on that claim,” asserted Kelly with a wink. “I’ve been

•Alec Macdonald, famous mlnlmr character, known as the "Kin* of the Klondyke."

over the ground with a fine toothcomb and if there’s gold there I’ll eat it, dirt and all.”

“And you tried to rob me of four thousand,” I began indignantly. But Kelly was gone.

'T'HE Finns worked for months up there on Dominion Creek and nothing was heard from them. They kept to themselves and labored day and night. Judging from the dumps that grew on the property they were going down to unusual depths. It was not thought possible to get anything on that claim, however, so no attention was paid to them.

Then one day it got around that the Finns had struck it rich. They had tunneled down under the creek bed, which had swung well in under the abrupt cliff, laboriously scooping the earth out and hauling it up to the surface. The work must have been terrific, but they had stayed with it, day after day, week after week, moiling and grubbing away in the dark. And they had struck it! To see the amoupt of gold that they weighed in was a heart-burner for those who, like myself, had been so close to fortune, only to let it elude their fintrers. Their first summer’s washup was $164,000.

I hunted up Kelly the first chance I got and had a quiet laugh at his expense.

“Well, I guess the joke wasn’t on the Finns,” I said. “You never told me, Kelly, what you got out of them for that claim. A good price, I think you said at the time.”

“What right have you got to laugh at me?” demanded Kelly. “The shoe pinches you as much as me. You could have had that claim yourself and you sniffed at it.”

But I did not feel at all badly about it for I knew that, had I boueht the claim, I would never have patiently burrowed as the Finns had done in the hope that there might be gold under the bed of the ere' k. I would have missed the fortune anyway.