Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > The Golden Dream > Chapter Eighteen.
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
Chapter Eighteen.
 Ned’s New Profession pays admirably—He and Tom Wax Philosophical—“Pat” comes for a “Landscape” of himself—Lynch Law and the Doctors—Ned’s Sitters—A Yankee Swell receives a Gentle Rebuff.  
The ups and downs, and the outs and ins of life are, as every one is aware, exceedingly curious,—sometimes pleasant, often the reverse, and not infrequently abrupt.
On the day of their arrival at the settlement, Ned and Tom were almost beggars; a dollar or two being all the cash they possessed, besides the gold-dust swallowed by the latter, which being, as Tom remarked, sunk money, was not available for present purposes.
One week later, they were, as Abel Jefferson expressed it, “driving a roaring trade in pictur’s,” and in the receipt of fifty dollars, or 10 pounds a day! Goods and provisions of all kinds had been suddenly thrown into the settlement by speculators, so that living became comparatively cheap; several new and profitable diggings had been discovered, in consequence of which gold became plentiful; and the result of all was that Edward Sinton, esquire, portrait and landscape painter, had more orders than he could accept, at almost any price he chose to name. Men who every Saturday came into the settlement to throw away their hard-earned gains in the gambling-houses, or to purchase provisions for the campaign of the following week, were delighted to have an opportunity of procuring their portraits, and were willing to pay any sum for them, so that, had our hero been so disposed, he could have fleeced the miners to a considerable extent. But Ned was not so disposed, either by nature or necessity. He fixed what he considered fair remunerative prices for his work, according to the tariff of the diggings, and so arranged it that he made as much per day as he would have realised had he been the fortunate possessor of one of the best “claims” in the neighbourhood.
Tom Collins, meanwhile, went out prospecting, and speedily discovered a spot of ground which, when wrought with the pan, turned him in twenty dollars a day. So that, in the course of a fortnight, our adventurers found themselves comparatively rich men. This was satisfactory, and Ned admitted as much one morning to Tom, as he sat on a three-legged stool in his studio—i.e. a dilapidated log-hut—preparing for a sitter, while the latter was busily engaged in concluding his morning repast of damper, pork, and beans.
“There’s no doubt about it, Tom,” said he, pegging a sheet of drawing-paper to a flat board, “we are rapidly making our fortunes, my boy; but d’you know, I’m determined to postpone that desirable event, and take to rambling again.”
“There you go,” said Tom, somewhat testily, as he lit a cigar, and lay down on his bed to enjoy it; “you are never content; I knew it wouldn’t last; you’re a rolling stone, and will end in being a beggar. Do you really mean to say that you intend to give up a lucrative profession and become a vagrant?—for such you will be, if you take to wandering about the country without any object in view.”
“Indeed, I do,” answered Ned. “How often am I to tell you that I don’t and won’t consider the making of money the chief good of this world? Doubtless, it is an uncommonly necessary thing, especially to those who have families to support; but I am firmly convinced that this life was meant to be enjoyed, and I mean to enjoy it accordingly.”
“I agree with you, Ned, heartily; but if every one enjoyed life as you propose to do, and took to rambling over the face of the earth, there would be no work done, and nothing could be had for love or money—except what grew spontaneously; and that would be a joyful state of things, wouldn’t it?”
Tom Collins, indulging the belief that he had taken up an unassailable position, propelled from his lips a long thin cloud of smoke, and smiled through it at his friend.
“Your style of reasoning is rather wild, to say the least of it,” answered Ned, as he rubbed down his colours on the bottom of a broken plate. “In the first place, you assume that I propose to spend all my life in rambling; and, in the second place, you found your argument on the absurd supposition that everybody else must find their sole enjoyment in the same occupation.”
“How I wish,” sighed Tom Collins, smoking languidly, “that there was no such thing as reasoning. You would be a much more agreeable fellow, Ned, if you didn’t argue.”
“It takes two to make an argument,” remarked Ned. “Well, but couldn’t you converse without arguing?”
“Certainly, if you would never contradict what I say, nor make an incorrect statement, nor draw a wrong conclusion, nor object to being contradicted when I think you are in the wrong.”
Tom sighed deeply, and drew comfort from his cigar. In a few minutes he resumed,—“Well, but what do you mean by enjoying life?”
Ned Sinton pondered the question a few seconds, and then replied—
“I mean this:— the way to enjoy life is to do all the good you can, by working just enough to support yourself and your family, if you have one; to assist in spreading the gospel, and to enable you to help a friend in need; and to alleviate the condition of the poor, the sick, and the destitute. To work for more than this is to be greedy; to work for less is to be reprehensibly lazy. This amount of work being done, men ought to mingle with their fellow-creatures, and wander abroad as much as may be among the beautiful works of their Creator.”
“A very pretty theory, doubtless,” replied Tom; “but, pray, in what manner will your proposed ramble advance the interests of religion, or enable you to do the extra ordinary amount of good you speak of?”
“There you go again, Tom; you ask me the abstract question, ‘What do you mean by enjoying life?’ and when I reply, you object to the answer as not being applicable to the present case. Of course, it is not. I did not intend it to be. The good I mean to do in my present ramble is chiefly, if not solely, to my own body and mind—”
“Stop, my dear fellow,” interrupted Tom, “don’t become energetic! I accept your answer to the general question; but how many people, think you, can afford to put your theory in practice?”
“Very, very few,” replied Ned, earnestly; “but that does not affect the truth of my theory. Men will toil night and day to accumulate gold, until their bodies and souls are incapable of enjoying the good things which gold can purchase, and they are infatuated enough to plume themselves on this account, as being diligent men of business; while others, alas! are compelled thus to toil in order to procure the bare necessaries of life; but these melancholy facts do not prove the principle of ‘grind-and-toil’ to be a right one; much less do they constitute a reason for my refusing to enjoy life in the right way when I have the power.”
Tom made no reply, but the vigorous puffs from his cigar seemed to indicate that he pondered these things deeply. A few minutes afterwards, Ned’s expected sitter entered. He was a tall burly Irishman, with a red-flannel shirt, open at the neck, a pair of huge long boots, and a wide-awake.
“The top o’ the mornin’ to yees,” said the man, pulling off his hat as he entered.
“Good-morning, friend,” said Ned, as Tom Collins rose, shouldered his pick and shovel, and left the hut. “You are punctual, and deserve credit for so good a quality. Pray, sit down.”
“Faix, then, I don’t know what a ‘quality’ is, but av it’s a good thing I’ve no objection,” replied the man, taking a seat on the edge of the bed which Tom had just vacated. “I wos wantin’ to ax ye, sir, av ye could put in me pick and shovel in the lan’scape.”
“In the landscape, Pat!” exclaimed Ned, addressing his visitor by the generic name of the species; “I thought you wanted a portrait.”
“Troth, then, I don’t know which ............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved