Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > Rick and Ruddy Out West > CHAPTER XIV INTO THE CAVERN
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 Wondering what turn events were going to take, Rick and Chot awaited the outcome of the advent1 of the stranger who had been addressed by Uncle Tod as “Zeek.”  
“Who is he?” whispered Rick to his uncle as the roughly-attired man, seeming rather crestfallen2 over his sneaking3 tactics, approached more openly.
“Oh, a no-account chap—Zeek Took his name is. Ought to be Zeek Take, for he’ll walk off with anything that isn’t nailed fast—unless you watch him. Looking for me, Zeek?” he asked as the unprepossessing fellow shambled forward.
“Sorter,” was the grinning answer.
“Well, here I am,” went on Uncle Tod. “What is it?”
“Er—now—did the water come?” asked Zeek, shuffling4 his feet like a bashful schoolboy speaking a Friday afternoon “piece.”
“No, we’re still dry, Zeek, except for what water we tote up on Esmerelda’s back. But I guess we have enough to give you a drink.”
“Oh, no, thanks, I don’t want no drink!” Zeek hastily protested, and Rick said, afterward5, that he might have asked for some to wash in and not be far out of the way, as he was somewhat dirty.
“Well, Zeek, is that all you came up to ask about?” went on Uncle Tod, who seemed to enjoy the fellow’s discomfiture—and bashful and discomfited6 Zeek Took certainly was.
“Ya-as—that’s all, I reckon,” and Zeek’s shifty eyes darted7 here and there about the camp, as if spying.
“Who sent you?” suddenly asked Uncle Tod.
Zeek clearly was taken by surprise.
“Who sent you?” repeated Mr. Belmont.
“Why—er—now—nobody sent me! I come myself.”
“Oh, you did? What for?”
“Wa’al,” he slowly drawled as if seeking an excuse, “I—er—now—I thought maybe if th’ river wa’n’t runnin’ you’d hire me t’ cart water so’s you could wash out th’ dirt.”
“Oh, you wanted to cart water so we could do our mining, Zeek? Well, that was very kind of you,” went on Uncle Tod, “but what little washing my partner did before the river became lost, didn’t pan out enough metal to make it pay, and I don’t believe we could afford to give you any wages.”
“Oh, I’d be willin’ t’ work for my grub, Uncle Tod.” Everyone in that region seemed to have adopted this friendly name.
Mr. Belmont shook his head and smiled in a somewhat sarcastic8 manner.
“I reckon not, Zeek,” he answered. “We’ve got some new prospectors9 now,” Uncle Tod went on. “There’s one,” and he indicated Ruddy. “It’ll be about all we can feed in a dry camp. But if you’re hungry now, I reckon we can hand you out a snack.”
“Wa’al,” drawled Zeek, “it’s been a good while since breakfast!”
“Hum!” mused10 Uncle Tod. “Well, sit over there, Zeek,” indicating a bench, “and Sam’ll bring you out some grub.”
Then as Rick, Chot and Mr. Campbell entered the cabin, Uncle Tod said, in a low voice:
“Zeek isn’t just the kind you want to sit down to the table with—even out in this free and easy place. He goes at his food as if it might come to life and get away from him. He’ll be more at home out there.”
Uncle Tod’s camp cabin was a more comfortable place than at first appeared. The food was excellent, though not of the finest sort, but it was well cooked, and whatever else Sam Rockford might be—gloomy and inclined to look on the dark side of everything—he certainly knew how to serve a meal. The boys and Mr. Campbell testified to this, and Ruddy would have said the same had he been able to speak.
Zeek was fed out in the open, and soon departed, murmuring his thanks. And then, as the others finished their meal, and pushed back their rough stools that served for chairs, Mr. Campbell asked:
“Anything special about Took coming here, Mr. Belmont?”
“I don’t know whether there was or not,” was Uncle Tod’s answer. “First I thought he was only one more of the queer characters to be met with out west. Then, when he began coming around more frequently—but always sneaking his way in—I became a bit suspicious.”
“Is he altogether right in his mind?” asked Mr. Campbell.
“I don’t believe he is, and that’s why I think he’s being used by some one with more brains than he has.”
“Some one trying to get your mine away from you, Uncle Tod?” asked Rick.
“Well, I don’t know’s any one is trying to do that,” was the answer. “Still you never know when you’re playing safe in this mining game. The best way, I find, is to suspect everybody until you find out they’re square, and then it isn’t always safe. As for Zeek Took, I don’t want him hanging around; that’s all, though I don’t want to be mean to him, especially if he’s hungry. How he lives I don’t know, but I won’t see even a dog go hungry. Will I, Ruddy?” and Rick’s setter looked up into the miner’s face and gratefully wagged the plumed11 tail.
“I don’t know much about mining,” said Mr. Campbell, as he and the other two men were smoking their pipes, while Rick and Chot listened to the talk, “but how were things here before you lost the river, or the river lost itself? And I’d like to know a little about the stream, also.”
“Well, there isn’t a great deal to tell,” said Uncle Tod reflectively. “Sam, here, bought this claim first and then let me in on it. It looked good to him—in fact it looked good to me—that was when the river was running out of the cave. We call it a river though it isn’t much more than a half-grown brook12 back in your country, Mr. Campbell where you have lots of water. But, such as it was, it served to wash out the dirt we dug.
“You know there are many ways to mine for gold, silver and copper13,” he went on, for the especial benefit of the boys. “In some parts of the mountains you dig out the ore dry, and you may get fairly big chunks14 of gold. Or the ore may be f............
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