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"Why don't luck come to me?" muttered Hogan to himself. "That green country boy has made a fortune, while I, an experienced man of the world, have to live from hand to mouth. It's an outrage!"
The parties to whom Joe and his partner sold their claim were responsible men who had been fortunate in mining and had a bank-account in San Francisco.
"We'll give you an order on our banker," they proposed.
"That will suit me better than money down," said Joe. "I shall start for San Francisco to-morrow, having other business there that I need to look after."
"I'll go too, Joe," said Joshua. "With my share of the purchase-money and the nugget, I'm worth, nigh on to five thousand dollars. What will dad say?"
"And what will Susan Smith say?" queried Joe.
"I guess she'll say she's ready to change her name to Bickford," said he.
"You must send me some of the cake, Mr. Bickford."
"Just wait, Joe. The thing ain't got to that yet. I tell you, Joe, I shall be somebody when I get home to Pumpkin Hollow with that pile of money. The boys'll begin to look up to me then. I can't hardly believe it's all true. Maybe I'm dreamin' it. Jest pinch my arm, will you?"
Joe complied with his request.
"That'll do, Joe. You've got some strength in your fingers. I guess it's true, after all."
Joe observed with some surprise that Hogan did not come near them. The rest, without exception, had congratulated them on their extraordinary good luck.
"Seems to me Hogan looks rather down in the mouth," said Joe to Bickford.
"He's mad 'cause he didn't find the nugget. That's what's the matter with him. I say, Hogan, you look as if your dinner didn't agree with you."
"My luck don't agree with me."
"You don't seem to look at things right. Wasn't you lucky the other day to get away from the bear?"
"I was unlucky enough to fall in with him."
"Wasn't you lucky in meetin' my friend Joe in New York, and raisin' money enough out of him to pay your passage out to Californy?"
"I should be better off in New York. I am dead broke."
"You'd be dead broke in New York. Such fellers as you always is dead broke."
"Do you mean to insult me, Mr. Bickford?" demanded Hogan irritably.
"Oh, don't rare up, Hogan. It won't do no good. You'd ought to have more respect for me, considerin' I was your boss once."
"I'd give something for that boy's luck."
"Joe's luck? Well, things have gone pretty well with turn; but that don't explain all his success—he's willin' to work."
"So am I."
"Then go to work on your claim. There's no knowin' but there's a bigger nugget inside of it. If you stand round with your hands in your pockets, you'll never find it."
"It's the poorest claim in the gulch," said Hogan discontentedly.
"It pays the poorest because you don't work half the time."
Hogan apparently didn't like Mr. Bickford's plainness of speech. He walked away moodily, with his hands in his pockets. He could not help contrasting his penniless position with the enviable position of the two friends, and the devil, who is always in wait for such moments, thrust an evil suggestion into his mind.
It was this:
He asked himself why could he not steal the nugget which Joe had found?
"He can spare it, for he has sold the claim for a fortune," Hogan reasoned. "It isn't fair that he should have everything and I should have nothing. He ought to have made me his partner, anyway. He would if he hadn't been so selfish. I have just as much right to a share in it as this infernal Yankee. I'd like to choke him."
This argument was a very weak one, but a man easily persuades himself of what he wants to do.
"I'll try for it," Hogan decided, "this very night."
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