When they walked into the clearing and stumbled upon the river, the men were in awe. They just knew they would find gold along its banks. The raw beauty was enough to speak of the treasures to be found. The leader of the group also noted how it was a perfect spot to shelter them from the fury of the mountain blizzards. They set to work felling trees and turning the trunks into boards so they could quickly build small huts, shelter from the brutal winter that would be upon them soon.
As they continued their work, a couple of the younger fellows began to chomp at the bit. They wanted to pan for gold and make sure this was the perfect site it appeared to be. Their leader, however, was insistent that the shelter should come first. They wouldn’t have time to build a hut before the winter came if they checked the area first. Their supplies would hold them until spring, but they had to have shelter.
|River, Marina Moevs, 2005|
The disagreements became more fierce, and soon the men were at odds constantly. The two young men that were so determined to pan for gold before building a hut did just that. While the older men worked on putting up a cabin, the other two spent their days fishing and panning for gold in the stream. Their fishing was welcome at meal times, but when no gold was found, it caused even more trouble. In the evening by the campfire that was now necessary to keep them warm, arguments were common. “We need to try a different spot.” “There’s no time to move locations. Winter storms will be here any time, and we’ve nearly got our shelter complete.”
Again the young men wouldn’t listen to their elders, and they determined to find a productive panning site before they stopped for the winter. They hadn’t traveled a thousand miles for nothing. In the darkness of a late fall morning, they took what they figured was their share of the supplies and snuck out of the camp. When the sun arose and woke the rest of the company, chaos ensued. The two rogues had taken half the supplies for the party of seven. The group wouldn’t last the winter without their much needed victuals. When they overtook the young men just a half mile down river, a horrible skirmish ensued. Fisticuffs were only the beginning. It’s not certain who drew their pistol first, but when it ended, not a one was left standing. The bears and wolves feasted on man and mule and provisions. The tranquil beauty of the creek had been preserved for a bit longer.
Linking to Magpie Tales #98.