He was known in the Gulch as the Reverend Elias B. Hopkins, but it
was generally understood that the title was an honorary one, extorted by
his many eminent qualities, and not borne out by any legal claim which he
could adduce. "The Parson" was another of his sobriquets, which was
sufficiently distinctive in a land where the flock was scattered and the
shepherds few. To do him justice, he never pretended to have received any
preliminary training for the ministry, or any orthodox qualification to
practise it. "We're all working in the claim of the Lord," he remarked one
day, "and it don't matter a cent whether we're hired for the job or
whether we waltzes in on our own account," a piece of rough imagery which
appealed directly to the instincts of Jackman's Gulch. It is quite certain
that during the first few months his presence had a marked effect in
diminishing the excessive use both of strong drinks and of stronger
adjectives which had been characteristic of the little mining settlement.
Under his tuition, men began to understand that the resources of their
native language were less limited than they had supposed, and that it was
possible to convey their impressions with accuracy without the aid of a
gaudy halo of profanity.
We were certainly in need of a regenerator at Jackman's Gulch about
the beginning of '53. Times were flush then over the whole colony, but
nowhere flusher than there. Our material prosperity had had a bad effect
upon our morals. The camp was a small one, lying rather better than a
hundred and twenty miles to the north of Ballarat, at a spot where a
mountain torrent finds its way down a rugged ravine on its way to join the
Arrowsmith River. History does not relate who the original Jackman may
have been, but at the time I speak of the camp it contained a hundred or
so adults, many of whom were men who had sought an asylum there after
making more civilised mining centres too hot to hold them. They were a
rough, murderous crew, hardly leavened by the few respectable members of
society who were scattered among them.
Communication between Jackman's Gulch and the outside world was
difficult and uncertain. A portion of the bush between it and Ballarat was
infested by a redoubtable outlaw named Conky Jim, who, with a small band
as desperate as himself, made travelling a dangerous matter. It was
customary, therefore, at the Gulch, to store up the dust and nuggets
obtained from the mines in a special store, each man's share being placed
in a separate bag on which his name was marked. A trusty man, named
Woburn, was deputed to watch over this primitive bank. When the amount
deposited became considerable, a waggon was hired, and the whole treasure
was conveyed to Ballarat, guarded by the police and by a certain number of
miners, who took it in turn to perform the office. Once in Ballarat, it
was forwarded on to Melbourne by the regular gold waggons. By this plan
the gold was often kept for months in the Gulch before being despatched,
but Conky Jim was effectually checkmated, as the escort party were far too
strong for him and his gang. He appeared, at the time of which I write, to
have forsaken his haunts in disgust, and the road could be traversed by
small parties with impunity.
Comparative order used to reign during the daytime at Jackman's
Gulch, for the majority of the inhabitants were out with crowbar and pick
among the quartz ledges, or washing clay and sand in their cradles by the
banks of the little stream. As the sun sank down, however, the claims were
gradually deserted, and their unkempt owners, clay-bespattered and shaggy,
came lounging into camp, ripe for any form of mischief. Their first visit
was to Woburn's gold store, where their clean-up of the day was duly
deposited, the amount being entered in the storekeeper's book, and each
miner retaining enough to cover his evening's expenses. After that, all
restraint was at an end, and each set to work to get rid of his surplus
dust with the greatest rapidity possible. The focus of dissipation was the
rough bar, formed by a couple of hogsheads spanned by planks, which was
dignified by the name of the "Britannia Drinking Saloon." Here Nat Adams,
the burly bar-keeper, dispensed bad whisky at the rate of two shillings a
noggin, or a guinea a bottle, while his brother Ben acted as croupier in a
rude wooden shanty behind, which had been converted into a gambling hell,
and was crowded every night. There had been a third brother, but an
unfortunate misunderstanding with a customer had shortened his existence.
"He was too soft to live long," his brother Nathaniel feelingly observed,
on the occasion of his funeral. "Many's the time I've said to him, `If
you're arguin' a pint with a stranger, you should always draw first, then
argue, and then shoot, if you judge that he's on the shoot.' Bill was too
He must needs argue first and draw after, when he might just as well
have kivered his man before talkin' it over with him." This amiable
weakness of the deceased Bill was a blow to the firm of Adams, which
became so short-handed that the concern could hardly be worked without the
admission of a partner, which would mean a considerable decrease in the
Nat Adams had had a roadside shanty in the Gulch before the discovery
of gold, and might, therefore, claim to be the oldest inhabitant. These
keepers of shanties were a peculiar race, and at the cost of a digression
it may he interesting to explain how they managed to amass considerable
sums of money in a land where travellers were few and far between. It was
the custom of the "bushmen," i.e., bullock-drivers, sheep tenders, and the
other white hands who worked on the sheep-runs up country, to sign
articles by which they agreed to serve their master for one, two, or three
years at so much per year and certain daily rations. Liquor was never
included in this agreement, and the men remained, per force, total
abstainers during the whole time. The money was paid in a lump sum at the
end of the engagement. When that day came round, Jimmy, the stockman,
would come slouching into his master's office, cabbage-tree hat in hand.
"Morning, master!" Jimmy would say. "My time's up. I guess I'll draw
my cheque and ride down to town."
"You'll come back, Jimmy?"
"Yes, I'll come back. Maybe I'll be away three weeks, maybe a month.
I want some clothes, master, and my bloomin' boots are well-nigh off my
"How much, Jimmy?" asks his master, taking up his pen.
"There's sixty pound screw," Jimmy answers thoughtfully; "and you
mind, master, last March, when the brindled bull broke out o' the paddock.
Two pound you promised me then. And a pound at the dipping. And a pound
when Millar's sheep got mixed with ourn;" and so he goes on, for bushmen
can seldom write, but they have memories which nothing escapes.
His master writes the cheque and hands it across the table. "Don't
get on the drink, Jimmy," he says.
"No fear of that, master," and the stockman slips the cheque into his
leather pouch, and within an hour he is ambling off upon his long-limbed
horse on his hundred-mile journey to town.
Now Jimmy has to pass some six or eight of the above-mentioned
roadside shanties in his day's ride, and experience has taught him that if
he once breaks his accustomed total abstinence, the unwonted stimulant has
an overpowering effect upon his brain. Jimmy shakes his head warily as he
determines that no earthly consideration will induce him to partake of any
liquor until his business is over. His only chance is to avoid temptation;
so, knowing that there is the first of these houses some half-mile ahead,
he plunges into a byepath through the bush which will lead him out at the
Jimmy is riding resolutely along this narrow path, congratulating
himself upon a danger escaped, when he becomes aware of a sunburned,
black-bearded man who is leaning unconcernedly against a tree beside the
track. This is none other than the shanty-keeper, who, having observed
Jimmy's manoeuvre in the distance, has taken a short cut through the bush
in order to intercept him.
"Morning, Jimmy!" he cries, as the horseman comes up to him.
"Morning, mate; morning!"
"Where are ye off to to-day then?"
"Off to town," says Jimmy sturdily.
"No, now--are you though? You'll have bully times down there for a
bit. Come round and have a drink at my place. Just by way of luck."
"No," says Jimmy, "I don't want a drink."
"Just a little damp."
"I tell ye I don't want one," says the stockman angrily.
"Well, ye needn't be so darned short about it. It's nothin' to me
whether you drinks or not. Good mornin'."
"Good mornin'," says Jimmy, and has ridden on about twenty yards when
he hears the other calling on him to stop.
"See here, Jimmy!" he says, overtaking him again. "If you'll do me a
kindness when you're up in town I'd be obliged."
"What is it?"
"It's a letter, Jim, as I wants posted. It's an important one too,
an' I wouldn't trust it with every one; but I knows you, and if you'll
take charge on it it'll be a powerful weight off my mind."
"Give it here," Jimmy says laconically.
"I hain't got it here. It's round in my caboose. Come round for it
with me. It ain't more'n quarter of a mile."
Jimmy consents reluctantly. When they reach the tumble-down hut the
keeper asks him cheerily to dismount and to come in.
"Give me the letter," says Jimmy.
"It ain't altogether wrote yet, but you sit down here for a minute
and it'll be right," and so the stockman is beguiled into the shanty.
At last the letter is ready and handed over. "Now, Jimmy," says the
keeper, "one drink at my expense before you go."
"Not a taste," says Jimmy.
"Oh, that's it, is it?" the other says in an aggrieved tone. "You're
too damned proud to drink with a poor cove like me. Here--give us back
that letter. I'm cursed if I'll accept a favour from a man whose too
almighty big to have a drink with me."
"Well, well, mate, don't turn rusty," says Jim. "Give us one drink
an' I'm off."
The keeper pours out about half a pannikin of raw rum and hands it to
the bushman. The moment he smells the old familiar smell his longing for
it returns, and he swigs it off at a gulp. His eyes shine more brightly
and his face becomes flushed. The keeper watches him narrowly. "You can go
now, Jim," he says.
"Steady, mate, steady," says the bushman. "I'm as good a man as you.
If you stand a drink I can stand one too, I suppose." So the pannikin is
replenished, and Jimmy's eyes shine brighter still.
"Now, Jimmy, one last drink for the good of the house," says the
keeper, "and then it's time you were off." The stockman has a third gulp
from the pannikin, and with it all his scruples and good resolutions
vanish for ever.
"Look here," he says somewhat huskily, taking his cheque out of his
pouch. "You take this, mate. Whoever comes along this road, ask 'em what
they'll have, and tell them it's my shout. Let me know when the money's
So Jimmy abandons the idea of ever getting to town, and for three
weeks or a month he lies about the shanty in a state of extreme
drunkenness, and reduces every wayfarer upon the road to the same
condition. At last one fine morning the keeper comes to him. "The coin's
done, Jimmy," he says; "it's about time you made some more." So Jimmy has
a good wash to sober him, straps his blanket and his billy to his back,
and rides off through the bush to the sheeprun, where he has another year
of sobriety, terminating in another month of intoxication.
All this, though typical of the happy-go-lucky manners of the
inhabitants, has no direct bearing upon Jackman's Gulch, so we must return
to that Arcadian settlement. Additions to the population there were not
numerous, and such as came about the time of which I speak were even
rougher and fiercer than the original inhabitants. In particular, there
came a brace of ruffians named Phillips and Maule, who rode into camp one
day, and started a claim upon the other side of the stream. They
outgulched the Gulch in the virulence and fluency of their blasphemy, in
the truculence of their speech and manner, and in their reckless disregard
of all social laws. They claimed to have come from Bendigo, and there were
some amongst us who wished that the redoubted Conky Jim was on the track
once more, as long as he would close it to such visitors as these. After
their arrival the nightly proceedings at the Britannia bar and at the
gambling hell behind it became more riotous than ever. Violent quarrels,
frequently ending in bloodshed, were of constant occurrence. The more
peaceable frequenters of the bar began to talk seriously of lynching the
two strangers who were the principal promoters of disorder. Things were in
this unsatisfactory condition when our evangelist, Elias B. Hopkins, came
limping into the camp, travel-stained and footsore, with his spade
strapped across his back, and his Bible in the pocket of his moleskin
His presence was hardly noticed at first, so insignificant was the
man. His manner was quiet and unobtrusive, his face pale, and his figure
fragile. On better acquaintance, however, there was a squareness and
firmness about his clean-shaven lower jaw, and an intelligence in his
widely-opened blue eyes, which marked him as a man of character. He
erected a small hut for himself, and started a claim close to that
occupied by the two strangers who had preceded him. This claim was chosen
with a ludicrous disregard for all practical laws of mining, and at once
stamped the newcomer as being a green hand at his work. It was piteous to
observe him every morning as we passed to our work, digging and delving
with the greatest industry, but, as we knew well, without the smallest
possibility of any result. He would pause for a moment as we went by, wipe
his pale face with his bandanna handkerchief, and shout out to us a
cordial morning greeting, and then fall to again with redoubled energy. By
degrees we got into the way of making a half-pitying, half-contemptuous
inquiry as to how he got on. "I hain't struck it yet, boys," he would
answer cheerily, leaning on his spade, "but the bedrock lies deep just
hereabouts, and I reckon we'll get among the pay gravel to-day." Day after
day he returned the same reply with unvarying confidence and cheerfulness.
It was not long before he began to show us the stuff that was in him.
One night the proceedings were unusually violent at the drinking saloon. A
rich pocket had been struck during the day, and the striker was standing
treat in a lavish and promiscuous fashion which had reduced three parts of
the settlement to a state of wild intoxication. A crowd of drunken idlers
stood or lay about the bar, cursing, swearing, shouting, dancing, and here
and there firing their pistols into the air out of pure wantonness. From
the interior of the shanty behind there came a similar chorus. Maule,
Phillips, and the roughs who followed them were in the ascendant, and all
order and decency was swept away.
Suddenly, amid this tumult of oaths and drunken cries, men became
conscious of a quiet monotone which underlay all other sounds and obtruded
itself at every pause in the uproar. Gradually first one man and then
another paused to listen, until there was a general cessation of the
hubbub, and every eye was turned in the direction whence this quiet stream
of words flowed. There, mounted upon a barrel, was Elias B. Hopkins, the
newest of the inhabitants of Jackman's Gulch, with a good-humoured smile
upon his resolute face.
He held an open Bible in his hand, and was reading aloud a passage
taken at random--an extract from the Apocalypse, if I remember right. The
words were entirely irrelevant and without the smallest bearing upon the
scene before him, but he plodded on with great unction, waving his left
hand slowly to the cadence of his words.
There was a general shout of laughter and applause at this
apparition, and Jackman's Gulch gathered round the barrel approvingly,
under the impression that this was some ornate joke, and that they were
about to be treated to some mock sermon or parody of the chapter read.
When, however, the reader, having finished the chapter, placidly commenced
another, and having finished that rippled on into another one, the
revellers came to the conclusion that the joke was somewhat too
long-winded. The commencement of yet another chapter confirmed this
opinion, and an angry chorus of shouts and cries, with suggestions as to
gagging the reader or knocking him off the barrel, rose from every side.
In spite of roars and hoots, however, Elias B. Hopkins plodded away at the
Apocalypse with the same serene countenance, looking as ineffably
contented as though the babel around him were the most gratifying
applause. Before long an occasional boot pattered against the barrel or
whistled past our parson's head; but here some of the more orderly of the
inhabitants interfered in favour of peace and order, aided curiously
enough by the afore-mentioned Maule and Phillips, who warmly espoused the
cause of the little Scripture reader. "The little cus has got grit in
him," the latter explained, rearing his bulky red-shirted form between the
crowd and the object of its anger. "His ways ain't our ways, and we're all
welcome to our opinions, and to sling them round from barrels or otherwise
if so minded. What I says and Bill says is, that when it comes to slingin'
boots instead o' words it's too steep by half, an' if this man's wronged
we'll chip in an' see him righted." This oratorical effort had the effect
of checking the more active signs of disapproval, and the party of
disorder attempted to settle down once more to their carouse, and to
ignore the shower of Scripture which was poured upon them. The attempt was
hopeless. The drunken portion fell asleep under the drowsy refrain, and
the others, with many a sullen glance at the imperturbable reader,
slouched off to their huts, leaving him still perched upon the barrel.
Finding himself alone with the more orderly of the spectators, the little
man rose, closed his book, after methodically marking with a lead pencil
the exact spot at which he stopped, and descended from his perch.
"To-morrow night, boys," he remarked in his quiet voice, "the reading will
commence at the 9th verse of the 15th chapter of the Apocalypse," with
which piece of information, disregarding our congratulations, he walked
away with the air of a man who has performed an obvious duty.
We found that his parting words were no empty threat. Hardly had the
crowd begun to assemble next night before he appeared once more upon the
barrel and began to read with the same monotonous vigour, tripping over
words! muddling up sentences, but still boring along through chapter after
chapter. Laughter, threats, chaff--every weapon short of actual
violence--was used to deter him, but all with the same want of success.
Soon it was found that there was a method in his proceedings. When silence
reigned, or when the conversation was of an innocent nature, the reading
ceased. A single word of blasphemy, however, set it going again, and it
would ramble on for a quarter of an hour or so, when it stopped, only to
be renewed upon similar provocation. The reading was pretty continuous
during that second night, for the language of the opposition was still
considerably free. At least it was an improvement upon the night before.
For more than a month Elias B. Hopkins carried on this campaign.
There he would sit, night after night, with the open book upon his knee,
and at the slightest provocation off he would go, like a musical box when
the spring is touched. The monotonous drawl became unendurable, but it
could only be avoided by conforming to the parson's code. A chronic
swearer came to be looked upon with disfavour by the community, since the
punishment of his transgression fell upon all. At the end of a fortnight
the reader was silent more than half the time, and at the end of the month
his position was a sinecure.
Never was a moral revolution brought about more rapidly and more
completely. Our parson carried his principle into private life. I have
seen him, on hearing an unguarded word from some worker in the gulches,
rush across, Bible in hand, and perching himself upon the heap of red clay
which surmounted the offender's claim, drawl through the genealogical tree
at the commencement of the New Testament in a most earnest and impressive
manner, as though it were especially appropriate to the occasion. In time,
an oath became a rare thing amongst us. Drunkenness was on the wane too.
Casual travellers passing through the Gulch used to marvel at our state of
grace, and rumours of it went as far as Ballarat, and excited much comment
There were points about our evangelist which made him especially
fitted for the work which he had undertaken. A man entirely without
redeeming vices would have had no common basis on which to work, and no
means of gaining the sympathy of his flock. As we came to know Elias B.
Hopkins better, we discovered that in spite of his piety there was a
leaven of old Adam in him, and that he had certainly known unregenerate
days. He was no teetotaler. On the contrary, he could choose his liquor
with discrimination, and lower it in an able manner. He played a masterly
hand at poker, and there were few who could touch him at "cut-throat
euchre." He and the two ex-ruffians, Phillips and Maule, used to play for
hours in perfect harmony, except when the fall of the cards elicited an
oath from one of his companions. At the first of these offences the parson
would put on a pained smile, and gaze reproachfully at the culprit. At the
second he would reach for his Bible, and the game was over for the
evening. He showed us he was a good revolver shot too, for when we were
practising at an empty brandy bottle outside Adams' bar, he took up a
friend's pistol and hit it plumb in the centre at twenty-four paces. There
were few things he took up that he could not make a show at apparently,
except gold-digging, and at that he was the veriest duffer alive. It was
pitiful to see the little canvas bag, with his name printed across it,
lying placid and empty upon the shelf at Woburn's store, while all the
other bags were increasing daily, and some had assumed quite a portly
rotundity of form, for the weeks were slipping by, and it was almost time
for the gold-train to start off for Ballarat. We reckoned that the amount
which we had stored at the time represented the greatest sum which had
ever been taken by a single convoy out of Jackman's Gulch.
Although Elias B. Hopkins appeared to derive a certain quiet
satisfaction from the wonderful change which he had effected in the camp,
his joy was not yet rounded and complete. There was one thing for which he
still yearned. He opened his heart to us about it one evening.
"We'd have a blessing on the camp, boys," he said, "if we only had a
service o' some sort on the Lord's day. It's a temptin' o' Providence to
go on in this way without takin' any notice of it, except that maybe
there's more whisky drunk and more card playin' than on any other day."
"We hain't got no parson," objected one of the crowd.
"Ye fool!" growled another, "hain't we got a man as is worth any
three parsons, and can splash texts around like clay out o' a cradle. What
more d'ye want?"
"We hain't got no church!" urged the same dissentient.
"Have it in the open air," one suggested.
"Or in Woburn's store," said another.
"Or in Adams' saloon."
The last proposal was received with a buzz of approval, which showed
that it was considered the most appropriate locality.
Adams' saloon was a substantial wooden building in the rear of the
bar, which was used partly for storing liquor and partly for a gambling
saloon. It was strongly built of rough-hewn logs, the proprietor rightly
judging, in the unregenerate days of Jackman's Gulch, that hogsheads of
brandy and rum were commodities which had best be secured under lock and
key. A strong door opened into each end of the saloon, and the interior
was spacious enough, when the table and lumber were cleared away, to
accommodate the whole population. The spirit barrels were heaped together
at one end by their owner, so as to make a very fair imitation of a
At first the Gulch took but a mild interest in the proceedings, but
when it became known that Elias B. Hopkins intended, after reading the
service, to address the audience, the settlement began to warm up to the
occasion. A real sermon was a novelty to all of them, and one coming from
their own parson was additionally so. Rumour announced that it would be
interspersed with local hits, and that the moral would be pointed by
pungent personalities. Men began to fear that they would be unable to gain
seats, and many applications were made to the brothers Adams. It was only
when conclusively shown that the saloon could contain them all with a
margin that the camp settled down into calm expectancy.
It was as well that the building was of such a size, for the assembly
upon the Sunday morning was the largest which had ever occurred in the
annals of Jackman's Gulch. At first it was thought that the whole
population was present, but a little reflection showed that this was not
so. Maule and Phillips had gone on a prospecting journey among the hills,
and had not returned as yet, and Woburn, the gold-keeper, was unable to
leave his store. Having a very large quantity of the precious metal under
his charge, he stuck to his post, feeling that the responsibility was too
great to trifle with. With these three exceptions the whole of the Gulch,
with clean red shirts, and such other additions to their toilet as the
occasion demanded, sauntered in a straggling line along the clayey pathway
which led up to the saloon.
The interior of the building had been provided with rough benches,
and the parson, with his quiet good-humoured smile, was standing at the
door to welcome them. "Good morning, boys," he cried cheerily, as each
group came lounging up. "Pass in; pass in. You'll find this is as good a
morning's work as any you've done. Leave your pistols in this barrel
outside the door as you pass; you can pick them out as you come out again,
but it isn't the thing to carry weapons into the house of peace." His
request was good-humouredly complied with, and before the last of the
congregation filed in, there was a strange assortment of knives and
firearms in this depository. When all had assembled, the doors were shut,
and the service began--the first and the last which was ever performed at
The weather was sultry and the room close, yet the miners listened
with exemplary patience. There was a sense of novelty in the situation
which had its attractions. To some it was entirely new, others were wafted
back by it to another land and other days. Beyond a disposition which was
exhibited by the uninitiated to applaud at the end of certain prayers, by
way of showing that they sympathised with the sentiments expressed, no
audience could have behaved better. There was a murmur of interest,
however, when Elias B. Hopkins, looking down on the congregation from his
rostrum of casks, began his address.
He had attired himself with care in honour of the occasion. He wore a
velveteen tunic, girt round the waist with a sash of china silk, a pair of
moleskin trousers, and held his cabbage-tree hat in his left hand. He
began speaking in a low tone, and it was noticed at the time that he
frequently glanced through the small aperture which served for a window
which was placed above the heads of those who sat beneath him.
"I've put you straight now," he said, in the course of his address;
"I've got you in the right rut if you will but stick in it." Here he
looked very hard out of the window for some seconds. "You've learned
soberness and industry, and with those things you can always make up any
loss you may sustain. I guess there isn't one of ye that won't remember my
visit to this camp." He paused for a moment, and three revolver shots rang
out upon the quiet summer air. "Keep your seats, damn ye!" roared our
preacher, as his audience rose in excitement. "If a man of ye moves down
he goes! The door's locked on the outside, so ye can't get out anyhow.
Your seats, ye canting, chuckle-headed fools! Down with ye, ye dogs, or
I'll fire among ye!"
Astonishment and fear brought us back into our seats, and we sat
staring blankly at our pastor and each other. Elias B. Hopkins, whose
whole face and even figure appeared to have undergone an extraordinary
alteration, looked fiercely down on us from his commanding position, with
a contemptuous smile on his stern face.
"I have your lives in my hands," he remarked; and we noticed as he
spoke that he held a heavy revolver in his hand, and that the butt of
another one protruded from his sash. "I am armed and you are not. If one
of you moves or speaks he is a dead man. If not, I shall not harm you. You
must wait here for an hour. Why, you FOOLS" (this with a hiss of contempt
which rang in our ears for many a long day), "do you know who it is that
has stuck you up? Do you know who it is that has been playing it upon you
for months as a parson and a saint? Conky Jim, the bushranger, ye apes.
And Phillips and Maule were my two right-hand men. They're off into the
hills with your gold----Ha! would ye?" This to some restive member of the
audience, who quieted down instantly before the fierce eye and the ready
weapon of the bushranger. "In an hour they will be clear of any pursuit,
and I advise you to make the best of it, and not to follow, or you may
lose more than your money. My horse is tethered outside this door behind
me. When the time is up I shall pass through it, lock it on the outside,
and be off. Then you may break your way out as best you can. I have no
more to say to you, except that ye are the most cursed set of asses that
ever trod in boot-leather."
We had time to endorse mentally this outspoken opinion during the
long sixty minutes which followed; we were powerless before the resolute
desperado. It is true that if we made a simultaneous rush we might bear
him down at the cost of eight or ten of our number. But how could such a
rush be organised without speaking, and who would attempt it without a
previous agreement that he would be supported? There was nothing for it
but submission. It seemed three hours at the least before the ranger
snapped up his watch, stepped down from the barrel, walked backwards,
still covering us with his weapon, to the door behind him, and then passed
rapidly through it. We heard the creaking of the rusty lock, and the
clatter of his horse's hoofs, as he galloped away.
It has been remarked that an oath had, for the last few weeks, been a
rare thing in the camp. We made up for our temporary abstention during the
next half-hour. Never was heard such symmetrical and heartfelt blasphemy.
When at last we succeeded in getting the door off its hinges all sight of
both rangers and treasure had disappeared, nor have we ever caught sight
of either the one or the other since. Poor Woburn, true to his trust, lay
shot through the head across the threshold of his empty store. The
villains, Maule and Phillips, had descended upon the camp the instant that
we had been enticed into the trap, murdered the keeper, loaded up a small
cart with the booty, and got safe away to some wild fastness among the
mountains, where they were joined by their wily leader.
Jackman's Gulch recovered from this blow, and is now a flourishing
township. Social reformers are not in request there, however, and morality
is at a discount. It is said that an inquest has been held lately upon an
unoffending stranger who chanced to remark that in so large a place it
would be advisable to have some form of Sunday service. The memory of
their one and only pastor is still green among the inhabitants, and will
be for many a long year to come.