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HOME > Short Stories > The Huge Hunter > CHAPTER XVII. HOMEWARD BOUND.
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THE PUNISHMENT administered to the Indians who had so greatly annoyed the miners proved a very beneficial one.
Nothing more was seen of them, except one or two glimpses of the red-skin upon his black horse. He, however, maintained a respectful distance, and at the end of a day or two disappeared altogether.
These were golden moments indeed to the miners, and they improved them to the utmost. From earliest light until the darkness of night they toiled almost unceasingly. Half the time they went hungry rather than stop their work to procure that which was so much needed. When, however, the wants of nature could no longer be trifled with, Baldy took his rifle and started off on a hunt, which was sure to be brief and successful.
Sometimes he caught sight of some game in the gulch, and sometimes something in the air drew the fire of his unerring rifle, and the miners feasted and worked as only such violently laboring men can do.
Although the boy was unable to assist at the severe labor, yet he soon demonstrated his genius and usefulness. He not only constructed a dam, but made a 'rocker,' or machine, of an original style, that did the work far more expeditiously and thoroughly than it had yet been done.
While the men were getting the auriferous sand, he separated it from the particles of dirt and gravel, without any assistance from them, and without any severe labor for himself.
There was some apprehension upon the part of all that the huge trapper, whom young Brainerd had met at night, would make his appearance. Should he do so, it would be certain to precipitate a difficulty of the worst kind, as he was morose, sullen, treacherous, envious and reckless of danger.
Baldy Bicknell really feared him more than he did the Indians, and the constant watchfulness he exercised for several days showed how great was his apprehension.
Fortunately, indeed, for all concerned, the giant hunter continued his travels in a different direction, and the miners were undisturbed by him.
Two weeks passed, by the end of which time the ravine was about exhausted of its precious stuff, and the miners made their preparations for going home.
It was impossible to do anything more than conjecture the amount of wealth they had obtained, but Baldy was sure that there was enough, when sold, to buy each of them a handsome farm.
'Jerusalem! but naow ain't that good?' exclaimed the delighted Ethan Hopkins, as he mopped off his perspiring forehead. 'That 'ere encourages me to take a step that I've often contemplated.'
'What might the same be?'
'Git married: me and Seraphenia Pike hev been engaged for the last ten years, and now I'll be hanged ef I don't go home and get spliced.'
'And it's myself that'll do the same,' added Mickey, as he executed an Irish jig on the barren earth in front of their cavern home, after they had concluded to leave the place.
'Where does she reside?' inquired Ethan.
'Ballyduff, Kings County, in the Oim of the Sea; it's there that lives the lass that's to have the honor of becoming Mrs. McSquizzle, and becomin' the mither of her own children. Arrah, but isn't the same a beauty?'
'The same as my own, Michael,' ventured the Yankee, who deemed it his duty to correct this general remark of his friend.
'Arrah, now, get cut wid ye! she can't begin wid Miss Bridget Moghlaghigbogh that resides wid her mither and two pigs on the outskirts of Ballyduff, in the wee cabin that has the one room and the one windy. Warrah, warrah, now isn't she a jewel?'
'And so is Seraphenia.'
'But has she the rid hair, that makes it onnecessary for them to have the candle lit at night? and has she the same beautiful freckles, the size of a ha'penny, on the face and the nose, that has such an iligant turn up at the end, that she used to hang her bonnet on it? Arrah, now, and didn't she have the swate teeth, six of the same that were so broad that they filled her mouth, and it was none of yer gimblet holes that was her mouth, but a beautiful one, that, when she smiled went round to her ears, did the same. A............
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