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The stream which we behold dashing rapidly, now whirling in turbid eddies, now beating round huge boulders, now darting at a tangent, in straight lines, opening out through chasms that seem in the beginning to have been split by earthquakes, is called Feather River. Flowing westward, it inclines toward the great Pacific. This is a lonely place; far as the eye can travel not a solitary habitation meets our sight, if we except one weather beaten tent. The time is morning; the sun has scarcely risen, yet three men within the waterproof domicil sit round a table, made of four stakes driven into the ground with a rough hewn slab placed upon them. A tin coffee-pot gives forth its grateful steam. The table furniture consists of three tin trenchers, on each of which is a ration of bacon broiled black upon the coals, and a solitary mug, out of which they drink alternately. Besides the bacon, hard biscuit is their only fare.

The morning repast being over, two of the gold hunters, shouldering pick, spade and rocker, plod to their digging in the neighboring ravine. It may not be unprofitable to listen to such chance words as may drop from them. Evidently their conversation relates to a robbery which has occurred at the residence of our old friends, the Bloomfields, Wingate Hall. As we shall have occasion to meet these worthies again, it will be also well to have a glance at their appearance.

Hair, originally dark chestnut, but now inclining to a grizzle, a countenance where evidently intellect dominates over the coarser passions, but is in its turn swayed solely by the more subtle evils that lurk in the chambers of an abandoned heart, eyes keen as the hawk and equally far sighted in search of prey, a temperament in which the bilious-nervous preponderates, an aspect at once shrewd and sinister, and a wiry, athletic body, that seems not to have decayed in Satan's service, but rather to have toughened and indurated, keeping pace with the corrosion of the conscience and the hardening of the heart, distinguish the first. He is called Cunning Joe.

The reddish beard, the florid complexion, the careless, half jovial, half dare devil look of the other, bespeak a character less hardened, less confirmed; but still, though it may be that the embers of the fire which the Divine breath kindled still smoulder, like a brand on the hearth of a ruined household, yet voice and manner indicate that soon, if desperate courses are persisted in, the soul will petrify and become hard as the nether millstone. Apparently too this man has resorted to crime as a profession, has made hits, met with adventures and had lucky escapes from the myrmidons of the law. Yet, while the fertile mind is teeming with the ill shaped knowledges which make up the wisdom of the rogue, he is less built to plot than to execute the plans of others. We shall find him hereafter rejoicing in the soubriquet of Handy Ben.

Evidently the two are conversing on a subject in which they are deeply interested. “He left England after we did,” remarks the elder of the two, speaking of some confederate, “ being concerned in the burglary at Wingate Hall. Young Bloomfield showed fight. They floored him with their knuckles, but he came to time, and alarmed the house. They managed to be off with seven hundred pounds of swag, bank notes and guineas, and a great sack of

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the old family plate. Finding the old country too hot to hold him after this, he made tracks for the States. I found him on the lay there, and got him to join me in this here enterprise."

“ There is many a queer cove hereabout. Old Benbow, him who was turned out from being gamekeeper down there at Riverside, came up tother day. The old chap says he smells gold, and is bound to be in at the death, if it has as many turns as a fox. The chap who was the whipperin of the hounds is here too, he being turned out the same time. Parsons, and such like prigs, says, that 'honesty is the best policy. Now, there's you and I, and our pal,

' Jack Chivers, we have taken out of a hole or two five hundred ounces of the stuff between us, and have the prospect of ever so much more. We are nobs, we are. What has old Benbow got for being honest ? He never cracked a ken, but here he is, seedy and down at the mouth. Had he been a good cracksman he might have been as well off as we are."

As the two plod on their way they are overtaken by the third. A roving life and a career of dissipation begin to leave their impression on Jack Chivers. The crow's feet are formed about the eyes; the sensual mouth, that once might have been called handsome, begins now to drop at the corners like that of a hound. Still he is an athletic man; more robust than when we saw him last; more formed in manner. The voice has grown husky, and he speaks as if he had learned that tones and accents were to be guarded no less than words. Evidently the bad man's wisdom, which comes with years, is fast ripening within the brain, fast shaping to itself a chamber of imagery within the breast.

Urged on by the love of excitement, the passion for novelty, the thirst for gold, and the hope of winning some sudden prize that will enable him to indulge in expensive



pleasures, he is delving desperately into this auriferous soil.

As they speed with brisk steps toward the scene of their morning labor they still continue in conversation concerning the robbery at the Bloomfields. We infer from this that the housekeepers' room was entered after the family had retired, by one who was familiar with the premises, and that suspicion fell immediately afterward upon one Peter Styles, a man of all work about the place. On searching the gate keeper's lodge, in which he had apartments, a mask, a bludgeon and a dark lantern were discovered, of which he could give no satisfactory account. On measuring

. his hob nailed shoes it was ascertained that they tallied with one pair of the footmarks left in the garden bed beneath the window at which the burglars had made their way in. It was proved that Styles, the evening before, had been talking in the lane with a man who was identified with a band of desperate fellows, and who had been engaged in burglaries before. This man was traced to London but there lost sight of and it was supposed that he had left the country.

Styles was remanded by the justices on suspicion, but was bailed out; and this was the unaccountable part of the story, young Bloomfield and the son of rich Squire Brompton stood his security, though the bonds were fixed at five hundred pounds; but Styles after being liberated fled from trial and his bailmen paid the forfeit.

Handy Ben sniggered and grinned while the old burglar narrated these particulars and at its close, with a knowing smile, dropped the remark, “I took a share in that ere transaction myself. It was a gipsy lad as left them ere tools in the lodge. The soft feller tried to make a Methody of him ; blast him; he used to get on his marrow bones every night and scare the feller by talking about the devilkins. That ere chap as you knows about came up to see what


could be done, so we sent the boy up to the lodge and got him to be kept there over night. After the cove's amens was over and he said a blessin' our chap went to roost in the loft, slipped down in his stockings, found his mud hoppers and put 'em on, unlocked the lodge gate and went with them to the window of the housekeeper's room, where they was to break in. Then he came back and went up to the roost again and was there snoring sound asleep when the alarm was given. That's how they came to suspect the Methody.”

“What became of the chap afterward ?” inquires Chivers. Handy Ben answers, “No one knew. The Squire and his sisters tried to keep his wife and child in a cottage on the place, but the old Squire raged and turned them away. Then old Squire Deschamp's daughter gave them both shelter against everybody's advice, and Squire Bloomfield vowed that none of his daughters should ever cross her doors again.”

Depravity in some natures has a hot-house growth; one year does the work of scores. With others the foul plant matures more slowly. This lad, whom we now hear spoken of as having been the means of almost transporting a benefactor and of blackening his fair name beyond the hope of retrieval, of separating him from his family and causing wife and child to become dependent on the world's mercy, is the very youth on whom we saw Peter exercise his gift of bone-setting five years ago. Those five years have ripened the lad of sixteen into the stout fellow of twentyone. From liming trout brooks and robbing hen roosts, taking rapid strides in his profession, he now boasts of burglary, yet circumstances were in his favor. The woman, his mother, was not without the elements of generosity. A good man befriended him when illness, winter and poverty made the young blood run chill. For him devout lips expounded the precepts of the One who comes to every

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