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MY LUCK IN A TUNNEL. I AM an old miner. Not one of the now-a-day Washoe and Nevada stripe, but an old forty-nine California miner. I have been engaged in all descriptions of mining transactions, except the new-fangled one of mining stock in companies-" feet," I believe they call it. Among my varied undertakings was one operation in a tunnel, in which I and my partners engaged in the summer of 1852. One afternoon in that year, as I was carrying up a bucket of water from the river to our tent at the top of the bank, my foot caught under a large stone, and my perpendicular was at once changed to a horizontal posture, while the water from the overturned bucket spread itself in various directions. With a few expletives of rather forcible character, quite customary and common in that region and period, I raised myself to my feet again, and, picking up the bucket, was about to retrace my steps to the river, when my attention was attracted by a folded paper, which had been placed under the stone causing my fall. When my foot tripped, the stone was overturned, and the paper, folded in letter form, lay exposed to view. Bending over, I picked it up, and proceeded to examine it. It was written with pencil, in characters very irregular and stiffly formed, as if made by a person with a wounded hand. The contents were as follows: If this letter should fall into the hands of any person, I wish to inform them that I have been attacked and mortally wounded by my two partners, who wished to obtain my money. Failing to discover it, after wound- ing me, they have Bed, leaving me here to die. Who- ever gets this letter will find, buried in a ravine at the foot of a blazed' tree, twenty-five paces due north of this, a bag containing five thousand dollars in gold dust. That it may prove more fortunate property to him than it has to me, is the hope of ANDREW FORREST." I stood for some minutes after reading the letter like one awakened from a dream. I could not convince myself that the letter in my hand was a genuine document, and read it over and over again, thinking I might get some clue from the handwriting to the real author. It might be a trick got up by my partners, to raise a laugh at my expense. No; the place where it was found, and the purely accidental discovery, rendered such a surmise very improbable. I sat down on a log, and turned the matter over and over in my mind for some time. At last I got up, and pacing off the required distance in the direction mentioned in the letter, I came to a large tree. Carefully examining it, I discovered a scar, clearly indicating that the tree had been blazed at some remote period. This was confirma- tion strong as proofs of Holy Writ," and I immediately went to work to discover the locality of the ravine. Here I was at fault. Nothing of the kind was to be seen. To all appearances, a stream of water never had passed in the neighbourhood of the tree. This was not encouraging; and I sat down on the ground and read the letter again, to see if I had not mistaken some of its directions. No; I was in the right place, but where was the ravine ? A tap on the shoulder aroused me from my meditations, and, on looking up, I saw my two partners, who loudly abused me for having neglected the preparation of their supper. As an excuse, I shewed them the letter, and detailed the manner of my finding it. To my surprise, they were as much excited by its perusal as I had been, and we all looked around perseveringly for the ravine, but without effect for some time. At last Jack Nesbitt, who had been a miner since '48, said- I think there has been a ravine here, but it has been filled up by the rains." On close examination we decided that his supposition was correct, and after some consultation we determined that we would commence digging the next morning. Morning came, and we repaired to the spot with pick and shovel. Jack proposed that we should follow the course of the ravine, which appeared to run into the body of the hill rather than to dig down; for, as he said, we would be more likely to find the bag in the bed of the ravine, by following it up, than by digging down in any one place. The result was, that in a few days we had formed quite a cave in the side of the hill. We worked at this tunnel for four days without finding the bag. On the fourth day, Jack proposed that he and my other partner, Bill Jennings, should carry the dirt we had excavated down to the river, and wash it, leaving me to dig in the tunnel. In that way, they thought, we might at least 41 make grub" while searching for the hidden money. I thought the idea foolish, but as they had entered so eagerly into my views regarding the buried bag of dust, I made no objection to the plan, and dug away with redoubled energy. In fact, I had thought so much about the object of our search, that I had become utterly regardless of almost everything else. I had dreamt of it when sleeping, mused on it when waking, and it had obtained complete control of my mind. Day after day we worked-I digging, my companions washing; yet, strange to say, I did not become discouraged. They said nothing about the bag of gold dust; and I asked them nothing about the result of their washing the excavated soil. We had worked about three weeks, and had formed a tunnel extending about fifteen feet into the hill, when, one afternoon, completely tired out, I sat down to rest in the cave. I had only intended to sit a little while, but five minutes had not elapsed before I was fast asleep. I was awakened by a crash, and found my feet and legs com- pletely covered by a mass of dirt and stones. The front part of the tunnel had fallen in, and I was in a manner buried alive. About ten feet of the tunnel remained firm, and from my observation of its structure prior to the accident, I was convinced that I had no reason to apprehend any danger in that quarter. My partners had carried dirt enough to the river to keep them busy there for the rest of the day; so I had nothing to hope from their assistance. The question that first presented itself to my mind was, how long can life be sustained in this confined state ? I had read, a dozen times, statistics in relation to the amount of air consumed hourly by a human being's lungs, but, like almost everybody else, had merely wondered at the time, and then forgot the figures. How much would I have given then to have been able to recall them The next thought was, how can I proceed to extricate myself ? This question was difficult of solution. If I went to work with shovel and pick to clear away the dirt that had fallen, it was extremely likely that all which I should be able to remove would be immediately replaced by that which would fall from above. This was pleasant! I racked my brain to devise some means of liberating myself, but without effect. Leaning against the wail in utter despondency, I was about to throw myself on the ground and await my fate, when I observed that quite a current of water, on a small scale, was making its way down the side of the cave. At first I was alarmed, as I thought it might loosen the earth above and bring another mass down on my head. The next moment, the thought struck me that it might be turned to my advantage. Why could I not so direct it that it would wash away sufficient earth in its progress to the outlet of the cave to admit the air, and perhaps make an opening large enough to allow me to crawl out through it? Even if I only succeeded in making an air-hole, it would enable me to exist till my partners could come to my assistance. Carefully examining the course of the water, I succeeded in finding the spot where it entered the cave, and to my great joy ascertained that I could easily direct it, by cutting a channel out of the side of my prison to the mass of earth that blocked up the entrance to the tunnel. The air at this time was quite close and stifling, and I became aware that whatever was done must be done quickly, or I should perish for want of oxygen. After I had cut a channel for the water to flow toward the entrance, I enlarged the opening by which the stream entered the cave, and was delighted* to observe that it flowed with redoubled force. Taking my shovel, 1 pushed it through the moistened earth as far as I was able, and then awaited the further action of the water. In a few minutes I was enabled to push it still further, till at last it was out of my reach. Then, placing my pick-handle against it, I pushed both as far as I could. With what eagerness did I watch to see the first opening made by the water! At first it was swallowed up by the earth, but I was soon gratified by observing that it flowed in a steady stream in the direction in which I had pushed the pick and shovel. In a few minutes I discovered a faint glimmering in the distance, which might be an opening or the effect of an excited imagination, I scarcely knew which. But the doubt soon resolved itself into certainty, and an opening some five inches in diameter speedily disclosed itself. Larger and larger the opening grew lump after lump of earth was washed away by the stream, till the channel became large enough for me to place my head in it and halloo lustilv for assistance. Just as I was drawing my head back, I caught sight of a buckskin bag. Hastily seizing it, I found that it was the one we had been in search of, and which, but for the accident, I would never have found. Wishing to surprise my comrades, I concealed it, and redoubled my cries. In a few minutes they came running up the hill, and soon liberated me from my unpleasant position. Well, Ned," said Jack, as lie shook me by the hand, I'm glad you're safe, old fellow-uthe more so as Bill and I have been deceiving you a little. You know we have been trying all the summer to get you to go into a tunnelling operation, and you have only laughed at us ? Yes," said I, wondering what would come next. Well, when you found that letter, Bill and I made up our minds that we would go into the job with you not in the hope of finding any bag, but because we knew you would work twice as hard with such an inducement, intending, meanwhile, to wash the excavated dirt. This we have doue; and, my boy, we have never made Jess than three hundred dollars any day since we CODi. menced." "Then you think the bag a humbug, do you?" Why, of course," said he. "Well, I don't, and I intend to go on looking for it." Now, what's the use of being foolish ? quoth Bill Jennings. We've got as much dirt as we can wash for some time, and it pays. I can't see the use of continuing such a wild-goose chase as the hunt for that bag." Be that as it may," said I, I intend to follow it up." Bill and Jack conferred together awhile, and then the former said- Well, Ned, we might as well tell you first as last. I wrote that letter in order to get you to go into tunnel- ling." And the 4 blazed tree," said I, how about that ? The blaze' is certainly two years old." Jack hesitated. Why, you see," said he, we found that tree, and wrote the letter to suit it." Then what do you think of this ? asked I, showing him the bag I had found in the cave. Jack was nonplussed. On opening the bag, we found about three thousand dollars' worth of gold. Jack never would confess, but always insisted, that the variance between the statement in the letter and the amount in the bag was proof enough that the letter and it had no connection with each other. I don't think so, however, and I believe that Jack's assertion of having written the letter was untrue. We never could ascertain anything about Mr. Forrest, so we divided the money among us.


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