“Eben and I will hide and leave you to receive them alone,” said
Rawson, rising hastily.
“But—-” expostulated Dean in considerable alarm.
“Don’t be afeared, lad. They shan’t do you any harm. We want a little
fun, that’s all. We shall be close at hand.”
The two darted behind a tree, leaving Dean reclining on the turf.
Kirby and Dan approached, engaged apparently in earnest conversation.
They were close upon Dean before they recognized him. It is needless to
say that their amazement was profound.
“Look there, Dan!” said Kirby, stopping short.
“There’s the kid!”
“Well, I’m beat!” ejaculated Dan.
“How on earth can he have escaped? If he got away without Pompey’s
knowledge he’s about the smartest youngster I ever came across. I will
take care it shan’t happen again.”
Striding forward, Kirby confronted Dean with a stern face.
Dean, by way of carrying out the deception, started and assumed a look
“What does all this mean, boy?” demanded Kirby.
“What does what mean?” asked Dean in apparent perplexity.
“How came you here? You know well enough what I mean.”
“I walked,” answered Dean demurely.
“Of course you did! How did you get out of the place where I put you?”
“I went out at the back door.”
Kirby turned to Dan in alarm.
“Was it unlocked?” he asked, resuming his examination of the boy.
“Yes; if it hadn’t been I couldn’t have got out.”
“Where is Pompey—the negro? What did you do to him?” asked Kirby
“He fell asleep after dinner.”
“And I suppose you took the key from him in his sleep,” said Kirby,
rather as a statement than an inquiry.
Dean made no reply, and Peter Kirby took this as an admission that he
“That must be the way, Dan,” he said, turning to his companion. “It’s
lucky we met our young friend here, or we might have been deprived of
Dean looked depressed, and Kirby was deceived by his manner.
“I suppose you know what’s going to happen?” he said, addressing
himself to Dean.
“Well, you’ll soon know. You’re going back to keep company with Pompey.
He is very lonesome there in the cave, and he will be brightened up by
having a boy as company.”
“Oh, Mr. Kirby, please let me go on my way!” pleaded Dean.
“I am sorry to disappoint you, but it can’t be done. Sit down, Dan.
We’ve got a long walk before us, and we will rest a while.”
The two men seated themselves one on each side of Dean, occupying the
exact places recently vacated by the two miners. Kirby had been angry
at first with Dean, but the exultation he felt at recovering him abated
his wrath and made him good-natured. He felt like the cat who has the
mouse securely in his power.
“Oho!” he laughed, “this is a good joke! This foolish lad really
supposed that he had bidden us good-by. Didn’t you, lad?”
“Yes; I never expected to see you again.”
Kirby laughed again.
“My lad,” he said, “you are not yet smart enough to circumvent Peter
Kirby. You’ll have to be several years older at least.”
“Mr. Kirby,” said Dean, earnestly, “will you tell me why you want to
keep me a prisoner?”
“Suppose I say that I like your society?”
“I shouldn’t believe you.”
“You are a sharp one, youngster. That isn’t the only reason.”
“So I thought. What is the reason, then?”
“You know too much and suspect too much, boy. You’re a pesky young spy.
We don’t propose to leave you at liberty to injure us.”
“Was that why Squire Bates arranged for you to take me with you?” asked
Dean, with a penetrating look.
“What motive could he have except to help you to a position?” answered
“I don’t know,” answered Dean, emphasizing the last word.
“But you suspect something. Is that it?”
“Boy, you are too candid for your own good. It is clear that you are
too sharp to be kept at liberty.”
“Do you mean to take me back to the cave?”
“Why not let me travel with you instead? I should prefer it to such a
“No doubt you would, but, as it happens, I am not bound to respect or
consult your wishes. No doubt you think you would have a better chance
to escape if I let you go with me.”
“Yes,” answered Dean demurely.
“So I thought, and that is the very reason I can’t gratify you. I
can’t be bothered with a boy I must constantly watch, though, for that
matter, if you played me false again,” he added sternly, “I shouldn’t
scruple to put a bullet through your head.”
He looked fiercely at Dean as if he meant it. Dean had no doubt that
nothing but a fear of the consequences would deter him from the
desperate act he hinted at, and he rejoiced more than ever that he had
two stalwart friends so near at hand.
There was a little more conversation between Kirby and Dan, and then
Kirby rose to his feet.
“Well, boy,” he said abruptly, “it is time for us to be going.”
“Go if you like, Mr. Kirby!” said Dean quietly. “I prefer to remain
where I am.”
“What, boy?” exclaimed Kirby angrily, “do you mean to defy us?”
“I mean, Mr. Kirby, that you have no right to interfere with me, or to
deprive me of my freedom.”
“No right, have I?” inquired Kirby in a sarcastic tone.
“That is what I said.”
“Then, boy, you’d better not have said it. You won’t fare any better
for it, I can tell you that. Come, get up, and at once!”
He leaned over, and grasping Dean by the collar pulled him roughly to
The next moment, he thought he had been struck by lightning. He
received a blow on the side of his head that stretched him full length
on the ground.
When he rose, vaguely wondering what had happened, he confronted not
the boy he had assaulted, but a strong, athletic man, with a powerful
frame, and a stern, resolute eye.
This was Rawson, but he was not alone. Standing between Dean and Dan
was another man, younger, but looking quite as powerful, Eben Jones, of
“What do you mean by this outrage?” demanded Kirby, with a baffled
look, gnawing his nether lip in abortive wrath.
“That’s a question for me to ask, stranger,” retorted Rawson coolly.
“What do you mean by assaulting this boy?”
“What do I mean? He is my servant, who has deserted and deceived me.”
“Is this true, lad?”
“No, it isn’t. I came West with this man, as a secretary, not knowing
his character. I found out that he was a thief and then I left him.”
“You shall answer for this, boy!” said Kirby, almost frothing at the
mouth. “How dare you insult me?”
“The boy is telling the truth. I make no doubt, if you call that
insulting you,” said Rawson. “He tells us you shut him up in a cave.”
“Yes, and I’ll do it again.”
“Will you indeed? You are at liberty to try.”
“What have you got to do with the boy, any way?”
“A good deal. We have just admitted him as a partner in our mining
firm. You’ll find us in Gilpin County if you want to call, though on
the whole I wouldn’t advise it, as we miners make short shrift of such
fellows as you are.”
“The boy must come with us!” said Kirby, doggedly, unwilling to own
“I’ve got something to say to that, stranger, and it’s quickly said.
Make yourselves scarce both of you, or you’ll never know what hit you.”
He pulled from his girdle a six shooter, and pointed it at Kirby.
The latter needed no second hint. He and Dan turned and walked away,
muttering some ugly threats to which the two miners paid no heed.
“Now, lad, we’ll have some supper,” said Rawson, “and look out for
a good place to pass the night. I can’t say much for your friends.
They’re about as ugly-looking knaves as I ever saw.”
“I agree with you,” said Dean, heartily. “I hope I shall never see them
Six months later among the hills in Gilpin County we find three old
acquaintances. They are Ben Rawson, Ebenezer Jones, and Dean Dunham.
Dean has grown taller and there is a healthy brown hue on his cheeks.
His eyes are bright, and his look is cheerful.
The three are sitting in front of a miner’s cabin, resting after the
fatigues of the day.
“Have a pipe, Dean?” asks Rawson.
“No, Ben; you know I don’t smoke.”
“You’re right, lad, no doubt, but I couldn’t get along without it. Do
you know, boys, it is just six months to-day since we came here, after
our brief interview with Dean’s friends. By the way, what are their
“Peter Kirby and Dan—I don’t know his last name.”
“I wonder what has become of them. It is easy to tell what will befall
them at last.”
“I hope I shall never set eyes on them again,” said Dean, fervently.
“Well, I won’t just say that; I might like to meet them if they were
about to receive their deserts.”
“Do you know how we stand, Rawson?” asked Eben Jones, taking the pipe
from his mouth.
“I was just figuring up, Eben, this afternoon, since you have made me
treasurer. There’s a little over three thousand dollars in the common
“A thousand dollars apiece.”
“Precisely. It isn’t a bad showing, is it? What do you say to that,
Dean? How old are you?”
“Sixteen, but I am nearer seventeen.”
“There are not many boys of your age who are worth a thousand dollars.”
“I owe it to your kindness, Ben—yours and Eben’s.”
“I don’t admit that, Dean. You have worked hard for it.”
“But then I am only a boy, and yet you admit me to an equal
“And we’re glad to do it, Dean,” said Rawson, warmly. “Isn’t that so,
“You’re talkin’ for us both, Ben. The kid’s been a great deal of
company for us.”
“Besides, Dean, Eben and I have got ten thousand dollars between us in
a bank in Denver, unless the bank’s busted, which I haven’t heard of. I
say, Eben, old chap, I feel rich!”
“I feel rich enough to go home,” said Eben, after a thoughtful pause.
“Would you mind if I did, Ben?”
“I should mind so much, Eben, that I should probably go along too.”
“But that would be leaving Dean alone,” objected Eben.
“Perhaps he would like to make a trip East also.”
“Yes, I would,” said Dean. “It’s a long time since I’ve heard from my
uncle and aunt. I think my last letter couldn’t have reached them.”
“There’s one thing in the way,” observed Rawson. “Our claims are
valuable—more so than six months ago. If we leave ’em some one will
take possession, and that’ll be an end of our ownership.”
“Sell ’em,” said Eben, concisely.
“That will take time.”
“I’ll stay till it’s done. I’m not going to give ’em away.”
“Trust a Connecticut Yankee for that,” said Rawson, laughing. “Well,
to-morrow, then, we’ll let our neighbors know that our claims are for
Dean and his two friends retired at an early hour. They usually
became fatigued by the labors of the day, and did not require to court
slumber long. They rose early, and took their breakfast at a restaurant
near by. Before this was opened, they took turns at cooking breakfast
themselves, but were glad to delegate that duty to some one else.
Dean, as the best penman, prepared the sign,
THESE CLAIMS FOR SALE.
rather fortunately, as Rawson was weak not only in writing but in
spelling, and would have been very likely to write “Theas clames fer
sail,” without a thought that he had committed an error.
About nine o’clock on the second morning, a small man, dressed in a
drab suit, walked leisurely up to Rawson, and remarked: “I understand
that you wish to sell these claims.”
“Exactly, if we can get a fair price.”
“By we you mean—-?”
“Myself, Mr. Jones, and the boy. We are partners. Where might you be
“I have an office in Denver. I am commissioned by a Philadelphia
syndicate to buy some mining property, which will be worked with the
help of improved machinery in a systematic manner.”
“Then you will need more than we have to sell.”
“I have secured the property on each side of you,” said the agent
“What figures are you prepared to offer?” asked Rawson, with a look of
business. “I don’t want to be extortionate, but the claims are good
ones, and we don’t want to sacrifice them.”
Then ensued a few minutes of bargaining, in which Dean took no part.
Eben, though usually the most silent of the three, now developed the
qualities characteristic of the New England Yankee, and it was due to
him that the property was sold for six thousand dollars.
“I might have got more if I’d stood out a little longer,” he said, half
“We’ve done pretty well, though,” said Rawson, complacently. “It’s two
thousand dollars apiece, say three, with what we’ve taken from it in
the last six months. What do you say to that, lad? You’ll go home with
three thousand dollars.”
“It doesn’t seem possible, Ben. Why, Uncle Adin has been at work for
forty years, and I don’t believe the old place would fetch that.”
“Money’s easier to come at than in the old times. You’ll astonish the
old folks, lad.”
“There’ll be some others that’ll be surprised,” said Dean, smiling.
“Squire Bates and Brandon among the rest.”
“It’s better than going home like a tramp. It’s strange how much more
people think of you when you’re worth a little property. And I don’t
know but they’re right. To get money, I mean honestly, a man must have
some brains, and he must be willing to work. How much money do you
think I had when I arrived here?”
“I don’t know.”
“Eighteen dollars. It was grit or brains with me, I can tell you. Eben
here wasn’t much better off.”
“Not so well. I only had nine dollars.”
“And now we’ve got eight thousand apiece. That’ll make us comfortable
for a while, eh, Eben?”
“For life, Rawson. I shall never come back here, but settle down at
home, where people will call me a rich man.”
“I can’t answer for myself. How is it with you, Dean?”
“I shall come back,” said Dean, positively. “There’s very little chance
for me in Waterford.”
“Well, perhaps you are right. You’ll have a fair start, and you’re
industrious and enterprising.”
They stopped in Denver on their way home, and called at the office of
the agent through whom their claims had been sold.
“Gentlemen,” said the agent, “may I venture to give you some advice?”
“Certainly,” said Rawson.
“The best thing you can do with a part of your money is to invest in
real estate in this town.”
Eben Jones shook his head.
“I’m going to buy a farm at home, and put the rest of the money in the
savings bank,” he said.
“How is it with you, Mr. Rawson?”
“No doubt your advice is good, but I want to let the folks at home see
what I have brought in solid cash.”
“And you?” continued the agent, turning to Dean.
“I will invest two thousand dollars in Denver lots,” said Dean,
promptly, “and take the rest home as a present to my uncle and aunt.”
“You won’t regret it. Denver is growing rapidly. I predict that the
lots will double in your hands in a year.”
Dean took a walk round the embryo city with the agent, and made a
purchase of ten lots on Lawrence street, in accordance with his
“Now,” said the agent, smiling, “I shall be sure to see you out here