"California and the gold fields." Translated from the German of Frederick Gerstäcker 1854.

Biography of
Frederick Augustus Hihn (or Hühn) 1829-1913

by Friedrich Gerstaecker
From his
California Gold Mines (1854)

Introduction
By Stanley D. Stevens

Gerstaecker's Biography of F. A. Hihn

F. A. Hihn's Tagebuch [his diary of the voyage from Germany to San Francisco] ends at the time of departure for the Gold Diggins. The closest account of his experiences panning for gold is contained within Friedrich Gerstäcker's Travels, particularly his California Gold Mines, written and published in Germany, translated into English and published in London, in 1854. It was republished in 1946 in Oakland, California, by Biobooks. I have compared the London and Oakland editions. I am satisfied that the selection reproduced below (from the Biobooks/Oakland edition) is faithful to the earlier London volume.

Chronology of F. A. Hihn

F. A. Hihn was born Friedrich August Ludewig Hühn, on August 16, 1829, at Altendorf, Holzminden, Germany. His family was comprised of nine children, he had six brothers and two sisters. The family name was spelled Hühn. [Source: Evang. Luth. Kirchenbuchamt, Holzminden, Kirchenbuchführerin, Ausgezogen aus den Kirchenbüchern von Holzminden und Altendorf.]

One of his brothers, Hugo, who also lived in Santa Cruz from ca. 1855 to 1867, was occasionally known by Hühn [Hugo became a naturalized American citizen on April 9, 1867, and returned to Germany ca. September 9th, 1867. He lived in Zürich, Switzerland until his death in 1917.]

Gerstaecker, whose translated account of Hihn's venture in the 'gold diggins' of California is given below, uses Huhne.

April 12, 1849

Frederick Augustus Hihn, was just 19-years-old when he left his native Germany for California in 1849, at the outset of the 'rush' for California's newly discovered gold ' which had been found on January 24, 1848. He sailed on a Russian ship, Reform.

For Hihn's early life and for his own account of his voyage from Germany, see:

The Diary of Frdr. Aug. Hihn Transcribed by F. A. Hihn from his Tagebuch

October 12, 1849

Hihn arrived in San Francisco, and soon thereafter proceeded to the gold country.

October 19, 1849

Soon after Hihn arrived in San Francisco, he proceeded to the Gold Country. He joined a party of six in San Francisco, led by Friedrich Gerstäcker. After innumerable troubles they reached the south fork of the Feather River in the early part of November. They bought a mining claim and prepared to locate for the winter, but it commenced to rain, the river rose and washed away their tools, and for a time they were forced to subsist on manzanita berries. After two weeks it was decided to leave their camp for Sacramento, where they arrived about December 1, and there the party disbanded.

December 1849

After two weeks' vain attempts to make a living, it was decided to return to Sacramento, which they finally reached about Dec. 1. Here the party disbanded.

In Sacramento, Hihn and Johan Ernest Kunitz (another 20-year-old German immigrant on the Reform) manufactured candy. (Kunitz, like Hihn, later moved to Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz he manufactured glue and soap.) After enjoying successful business for about two weeks, the Sacramento and American Rivers overflowed and the candy factory and all its contents were destroyed.

Summer 1850

In the summer of 1850, Hihn had enough luck in the gold mines at Long Bar on the American River that he was able to enter the hotel business in Sacramento. He became one of the two proprietors of two hotels: the Uncle Sam House, and the Mechanics Exchange.

June 6, 1850

Declared intent to become United States citizen in Sacramento. Declared his family name as Hihn. [He is identified as Hihn in the January 1, 1851 city directory of Sacramento City. Therefore, this June 6, 1850, document establishes the official date of his adoption of the Hihn spelling.] [The Sacramento City Directory by J. Horace Culver. January 1, 1851. Sacramento City : Transcript Press, K St., Between Second and Third. 1851.] "Hihn, F. A., at Wibans, Jacobs & Co."

DECLARATION OF INTENTION. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, } SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Sct.

Before me, Presley Dunlap , Clerk of the District Court of Sacramento County, appeared Frederick A. Hihn a native of Brunswick in Germany aged twenty two years, who being duly sworn upon his oath, declares that it is bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign power, prince, state and sovereignty, whatsoever, and particularly to Frederick William Duke of Brunswick of whom he is at present a subject. /s/ F. A. Hihn Subscribed and sworn to before me this } 6th day of June A. D. 1850.

/s/ P Dunlap Clerk.

STATE OF CALIFORNIA, } SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Sct.

I, Presley Dunlap, Clerk of the District Court, within and for the County of Sacramento, certify the foregoing to be a true transcript of the Record as the same now remains in my office.

In Testimony Whereof, I have hereto set my hand and affixed the seal of said Court, at Sacramento City, on the Sixth day of June A.D. 1850. /s/ P Dunlap Clerk District Court, &c.

1851

Sacramento's business was not that good, and in the winter of 1850-51, the flood-waters in Sacramento put an end to his business ventures. He sold his interests and moved to San Francisco.

For Hihn's experiences in, and after, San Francisco, see his 'How I Came to Santa Cruz.'

For his earlier mining experiences, we turn to:

Gerstaecker's California Gold Mines

The text used below is derived from:

Gerstäcker, Friedrich, 1816-1872. California gold mines /, by Friedrich

Gerstaecker; foreword by Joseph A. Sullivan. Oakland, Ca. : Biobooks, 1946. xi, 149, [5] leaves of plates (some double, one folded) : col. ill., folded map, facsims. ; 25 cm. Series title: California centennial edition ; 6.

Which is extracted from the first English edition:

Gerstäcker's travels. Rio de Janeiro - Buenos Ayres - Ride through the Pampas ­ Winter journey across the Cordilleras - Chili -Valparaiso - California and the gold fields., Translated from the German of Frederick Gerstäcker. London, Edinburgh, T. Nelson, 1854.

Some biographical data on Gerstaecker:

[FRIEDRICH GERSTÄCKER (1816-1872), German novelist and writer of travels, was born at Hamburg on May 10, 1816, the son of Friedrich Gerstacker, a celebrated opera singer. In 1837 he went to America and travelled widely in the United States, supporting himself by whatever work came to hand. A diary describing his adventures in America had been published in Germany in the Rosen, and he returned to Germany in 1843 to find himself famous as an author. Gerstacker published these popular sketches in 1844 under the title Streif- und Jagdzüge durch de Vereinigten Staaten Nordamerikas. In 1845 his first novel, De Regulatoren in Arkansas, appeared, and thereafter his literary productions continued uninterruptedly. From 1849 to 1852 he travelled around the world, visiting numerous countries including South America, to which he returned in 1860 to report on the possibilities for German emigration to that country [sic]. He recorded his observations in Achtzehn Monate in Sudamerika (1862). He continued to travel in many countries and published a number of novels descriptive of the scenes he had visited. He died at Brunswick on May 31, 1872. His works, which dealt with the great world hitherto hidden from the narrow 'parochialism' of German life, were immensely popular. Many of his books were translated into other languages, notably English, and became widely known on both sides of the Atlantic. His best works, from a literary point of view, are, besides the above-mentioned Regulatoren, his Flusspiraten des Mississippi (1848); Tahiti (1854); Die beiden Sträflinge (1857); Aus dem Matrosenleben (1857); and Blau Wasser (1858).]



California Gold Mines

By Friedrich Gerstaecker (1816-1872)

Preface

I had now been in Valparaiso fully three weeks, waiting for the "Reform" to come in; and though I had every possible cause to be satisfied with my situation, as I lived in Mr. Fehrmann's family - he was married to a young Chilean lady - as if I had been in my own home, still there is never any satisfaction, if a man is waiting for any thing; impatience will be always the predominant feeling, and a restlessness that will not let you pass your time as you ought to do. Besides this, I would not leave town, for there were always ships in sight, and each of them could be the "Reform," while I had no idea how long she would stop here, when she really arrived, perhaps only a day or two, and I dared not leave the harbor, for fear of missing her.

At last she arrived one fine Sunday morning, and when I went on board, expecting to hear of her starting to-morrow or next day again, the captain told me, he did not know if the ship ever would leave the harbor, at least with the passengers, for they had tried to take his life, and he was going to have the case tried. The passengers for their part at the same time said, they were going to sue him for treating them badly, and insulting them, principally a lady, and trying to starve them on the voyage. In fact, things seemed to be in a pretty mess on board.

But matters soon cooled down; the Russian consul (an English gentleman in town, I have forgotten his name), as the "Reform" sailed under Russian colors, had them all a couple of times before him; the captain agreed to lay in some fresh provisions, the passengers were warned to behave themselves, and deliver up all the arms they had in their possession. And eight days afterward we sailed, for the quarrel lasted so long; and, I believe, it would have lasted even longer, had not those who had had the most to say, been the first to run short of money, and having no dollars left to spend, they now wanted to get away from here as soon as possible.

Our passage to California was in general a good one; we ran out to the west from the first start, expecting the northwest winds afterward, which were said to prevail in the higher latitudes, but north and northeast winds instead set in, and being carried by this farther westward than we had expected, we were taken a little out of our course. Higher up, the breeze, however, became more favorable, and we entered, after beating for about three days off and on, the Californian coast, the longed-for entrance of the bay of San Francisco, the so-called "Golden Gate of California."

FRIEDRICH GERSTAECKER



Chapter One

San Francisco in the Autumn of 1849

With my passage through the Golden Gate, a perfectly new phase of my life commenced; but instead of giving such an important step a serious thought, lest we might jump head over heels into this new chaos, to which history never yet had furnished a parallel - and none of us would have been the worse for reflection - none of us thought of such a thing. Each minute produced a new and ever-varying picture, that rose, as it seemed, from the ground around us, and we felt like men who have sat for long months in prison might, and then step suddenly into the free and dazzling light of the sun - it is a very natural thing that we should try first to accustom our eyes to the strange light, all the rest will come in regular succession.

The Golden Gate is really a splendid entrance to such a bay as San Francisco; it bears some resemblance to the heads of Port Jackson, except that the mountains are higher here, and the country looked even wilder; but the English reader has had descriptions enough about it, and I would much prefer taking him back to our own ship, and to commence with me the new, and if wearisome, most certainly wild and interesting life.

The passengers had crowded on the fore part of the vessel, and we looked first for tents and huts along the shore, and numerous herds of cattle and horses gladdened our eyes - such things look well after a long voyage.

"There is a tent," the cry suddenly rose - "there, close to those little dark bushes; and over there again - there is a quantity of them; that must be a town," and with such acclamations the attentions of the new gold-diggers was called now to one, now to the other shore; and an hour later a fresh breeze, and the extraordinarily strong tide that flows here, carried us speedily up into the bay and toward the hill upon whose brow the first huts of San Francisco itself already became visible.

"But I can't see any body washing," some disappointed voice cried from the forecastle, "donner-wetter, is there any room left on shore," the good man seemed to fear he would be crowded here on the hills.

"There are diggers - there they are washing!" another suddenly cried, and with lightning-speed this cry was caught up by fifty other voices; the men seemed perfectly happy at having already found gold-diggers on shore and with them a kind of assurance of the reality of the thing, till we drew a little nearer the spot, and found in these supposed gold-hunters a couple of quiet cows, which had been looking for grass instead of gold in the small valley.

But San Francisco itself now attracted all our glances to it; there to the right, upon that flat and naked hill more and more tents and low wooden buildings became visible, the hill itself yet concealing the greatest part, and now-mast on mast-a perfect forest of them opened at once to our sight. Ship after ship, forming a perfect town upon the water, filled the inner bay, and hundreds of little boats and small sailing crafts were darting every where over the yet unoccupied places. With this the tents and horses - riders appearing on the tops of the hills - the more widely spreading town - the eye found no time to take in all at once the strange novelty which surrounded us, and we stood a long while perfectly bewildered, before single objects in our immediate neighborhood obtained their rightful share of attention.

Captain Meyer of the "Talisman" pulled out to us from his own ship, which now lay in sight of us, and a few minutes afterward the heavy anchor rattled and thundered down to the golden bottom.

And California? I really do not know where to begin. It seemed as if the old tales of the Thousand and One Nights had become true, and an indefinite number of genii with their golden bowls full of diamonds and other valuables, must spring out directly, from the clayey bottom, and offer their treasures to us. People spoke here of gold, as if it was only common dust, and the price asked and paid for every thing proved it at least partly true.

Only to go on shore, a distance of perhaps one hundred yards, we had to pay one dollar a piece, and every thing else was in proportion. The town itself, spreading out over a wide area of ground consisted of hardly any thing but low huts and tents. Fremont's hotel, a small two storied frame house - which by-the-by I never saw inhabited - towered like a palace among its low neighbors and these confused habitations were scattered in wild disorder all over the place, facing the most favorable spot of ground only respecting those roads, which had been marked out for public streets. The beautiful weather, as hardly any rain falls throughout the summer season, had encouraged people to take nearly any thing of woven or spun manufacture to set up a house, more to get a partition from the street, than for any other purpose. Houses, if I may give them that name, were raised on the lightest possible frames, even basket-work, covered or stretched over with the lightest possible calico, and colors? what a variety caught the eye, on looking down such a street-the blue flowered cotton had not been sufficient for the fore-part of the house, so a red square piece had been added to it with immense stitches, while perhaps a bright yellow pattern had served to cover, together with a striped green piece, the hinder parts of the wall and complete the roof. Many such huts or tents had at the same time a sign-board stuck before them - for the house itself could never have supported it - as large as the front itself and covered with immense letters, informing the public that the inhabitant of this odd little habitation had a store for the sale of nearly every thing imaginable, and at the same time was not improbably a doctor or dentist. The sign-board had, of course, been painted in the States, and brought out here to astonish the natives.

But the new comers were far more interesting still, and I soon divided those I saw sauntering or hurrying through, and in the streets, into three different and very distinct classes. The first of these were those who already lived here or were naturalized to the strange objects around them. The most of them I am nearly certain were merchants or their clerks, who went about their business, quickly and without looking much about them; they knew the goings on of this strange part of the world already and their time was money.

The second class of the new-corners, who have landed every thing, looked about them for a fortnight, fixed a day when they will start for the mines, and amuse themselves in the mean time by walking about the streets, with their hands in their pockets, to see and hear what they can during the short time of their stay in town. These groups stop before the calico houses, and laugh at the different patterns, come to a dead halt where they see ironware, lift and try the weight of the pick-axes and spades, take the dirty crowbars, shaking their heads at the same time, between two fingers, rock the cradles, the store-keeper has put as an inducement before his door; and one or two, who have already inquired into the mysteries of gold-washing, as likely as not one with a book in his hand, are comparing the reality with the description, and trying to explain the use of the wonderful article. Such men inquire the price of every thing, but buy nothing, having brought all such tools with them from the States, and ask the prices now only to smile inwardly at the thought of the money they have already saved by not being obliged to pay Californian prices now for all such things. They also enter the gambling-houses, saunter up and down between the tables, look at the pictures, talk about the large pieces of gold a gambler has piled up here and there before him for a bait, even risk, but in very rare cases, a single dollar on a favorite card, with the excuse-we have come here to try our luck-we must try every thing; but losing it, they leave the house as quietly as they entered it, to visit, perhaps, an auction-room, with the same profit to the owner of it, stopping the passage there for hours, without the least intention of buying the slightest article.

The third is the working-class, but in a far different sense from what we understand by this name; and these might, or ought to be also divided again into two different classes, into voluntary and astonished workmen.

The voluntary are those who have made up their minds to face any thing; they have thrown off their coats, rolled up their sleeves, and got at it with a will to set up their huts or houses, work on the road for Government perhaps, or do anything that comes within their reach - not to get rich in this way, but to get their things in order, or save the money for their passage to the mines.

The astonished, on the other hand - and the landing swarms with them - are those who find themselves suddenly obliged to work here, because no one will do it for them, while a single errand costs them as much as they paid for a month's service in the old country. They have read about such a state of things existing in California as they really find it; but believed it with a face, as if they were going to say: "Oh, you're only joking," and now find themselves, to their utter dismay in a scrape, and don't know yet exactly how to get out of it again. They stand on the shore of this most singular country, with their trunks, boxes, chests, and other things around them, and nobody seems to care the least in the world about them or about their trunks. If they do not really intend to stop down there on the landing all night - and other boats in fact are already pressing in, and want the room to land their own baggage - they must move, and at it they got at last to toil up the steep banks in the sweat of their brow. They do not pull off their coats; for they would be ashamed to show themselves in the streets in shirt sleeves, and every twenty yards, or as soon as they meet any body, they set down whatever they are carrying, wipe their red hot faces, and ask the man, who looks to them very much like a laborer, to take their luggage to an hotel, looking in great astonishment after the "free and independent," who most likely, told them "to do it themselves, if they wanted it done." They have torn their dress-coats, and knocked their silk hats into all mariner of shapes; and these are the men, who stop at last on the top of the bank, setting on their own trunk they have carried up here, and wiping their faces, perhaps, with an embroidered handkerchief, murmur reproachfully-"and this is California?"

To form an opinion about the country itself, merely from the first wild impressions - and these I wish to give the reader would be madness. At that time seventy thousand men were supposed to be working in the mines, and San Francisco with its environs was estimated to contain about twenty-five thousand; but it would be just as easy to count the ants in a garden, as the fluctuating population of such a town, and the inhabitants of thousands and thousands of tents scattered through the interior.

But the first harvest time of San Francisco, where every article of food and clothing cost nearly its weight in gold, seemed to have passed. Quantities of goods lay, even without a shelter or cover, in the streets, and principally on the shore of the bay and in the auction-rooms goods were sold at any price - auctioneers only wanting to hear a bid, to get things out of their hands. I saw, for instance, a good lot of tea sold in this way for five cents a pound.

Lumber maintained an excellent price; but every body had written for it to the States and Valparaiso, Australia, Sweden, and Germany, and a number of ships were expected with it.

Rents were extraordinary, and for small houses or rooms, in the business part of the town, sometimes five and six hundred dollars per month were paid. Restaurants of two or three rooms, with a kitchen, paid from one thousand to twelve hundred dollars, only for the month - and so on. Even to deposit your trunk in some boarding-house or store-room you had to pay from one dollar to one and a half per month; the man who took care of things, as he called it, not being in any way responsible for the safe or even dry keeping of the things - you might just as well have put them under some tree in the bush. But what matter to the gold-diggers, they had left the whole world behind them; and should they now hang their heart on an old trunk, even if it contained their last shirt? No - away to the mines; in one day they would be able to wash out there the value of two such trunks, and where was the use of wasting a thought upon it.

A stranger could see how things were thrown about as soon as he put foot ashore; there were at that time, I really believe, not ten square feet in the city, where a dirty, but in every other respect perfectly new shirt was not lying. People had to pay six dollars per dozen for washing; and new shirts only cost seven and eight, and the consequence was, every body bought new ones, and threw the old away, which were three months afterward picked up again, principally by some Irish women, and washed and sold. But a good many merchants, who brought fine linen with them, and were not willing to throw a shirt away they had worn perhaps only a day or two, put them by in some trunk, and sent them-it may sound ridiculous, but is notwithstanding true - by vessels bound for China to get them washed there for a mere nothing, and brought back when the ship returned. It is a rather long distance to send for a washer-woman.

I was interested, but disgusted at the same time at the quantity of gambling hells and tables, which pay an enormous rent to Government, and in no country are any thing better than a licensed way of stealing money and ruining people. How it will be in later times with these places I do not know, but they will never be stopped without bloodshed, and the people of the once organized state will have as they once did in several parts of the United States - to lynch the gamblers to get rid of them.

But in spite of this, they are most excellent places to study character, and I have passed many an hour in these well-warmed and well-lighted rooms, among a crowd of people who were pressing up and down between the tables, stopping sometimes where a larger pile of gold than common, or a higher bet, attracted their curiosity. During the time I stopped in San Francisco, a Mexican - who are always the calmest and seemingly the least eager players, entered the El Dorado, and after standing for a time in the crowd, wrapped up in his old serape and looking how the game went, he finally pulled out an old linen bag of dollars, as every body thought, and put it upon a card, and from that minute bending over the table, and watching the fingers of the gambler, as if he was tracing the blood running through his veins. He won, and the gambler quietly took the bag and opened it, to count the dollars, when he turned suddenly as pale as a sheet, for the bag contained not dollars, but dubloons. As he had not money enough on his own table, he called on some of his neighbors, but the Mexican was paid directly, and afterward left the room as quietly as he had entered it. But this was only an exceptional case, and hundreds and hundreds lose their all in these hells, for they have not even a fair chance against the gamblers themselves, all of whom - and I really believe there is not a single exception - play false wherever they get a chance; and what difference in that case is there between this and stealing.

Those various representatives of nations he meets every where in the streets, look singular to the stranger. The Californians themselves, with their large, gayly-colored ponchos and their broad-brimmed glazed hats, and the Chinese, these two being in fact, the most prominent among them, with the addition of the Mexicans in their slashed trousers, white drawers, and dirty ceragnes. Frenchmen from the southern part of France, with their red caps and sunburnt faces; South Sea Islanders, Malays, Chileans, and Argentines; English, Germans, Italians, claim your attention, and, in short, every native on the globe seems to have sent her representative; and here and there, but rarely, you may notice a California Indian gliding quickly through the streets to gain open ground again, looking around him at the same time in dull and mute astonishment.

Thousands of these different people start daily for the mines, partly in small steamers, which had commenced to run to Stockton and Sacramento only, partly in schooners, and partly in small sailing boats, in a slow, but also cheaper way, and even round the bay of San Francisco, toward Pueblo San jos6 with mules and horses, but those only for the most southern mines.

I now inquired for my luggage left on board the "Talisman," as the reader will recollect. A part of it I found in good order, but another part had disappeared; neither the captain nor the supercargo troubling their heads much about it after I had left the ship.

This arranged, I myself looked round for a conveyance for the mines, and not wishing to pay thirty dollars a-piece for a passage on board one of the steamers, some of us, all passengers by the "Reform," (and a motley group we were), determined on going in a large schooner, the "Pomona," which was ready to start that very next day.

On the 19th of October we were on the landing at the appointed spot, to wait there for the "Pomona's" boat to take us on board her.



Chapter Two

A Trip to the Gold Mines

Punctually at two o'clock - I don't know how it is, but we Germans are always punctual - we took our luggage down to the shore, expecting the promised boat every minute, but obtaining, instead of an early start, a most splendid two hours' opportunity of watching the lively intercourse on this place, to our hearts' content. Boats were every where coming in from the different vessels, setting passengers on land with their luggage, and leaving the poor animals not unfrequently in the nicest kind of predicament - a little steamer, that had come from Sacramento having also just landed some sick people. A cart seemed to have been already provided, for it came down from town for them, and two very pale and sickly-looking men were put into it, and taken up to town, perhaps to be buried in a day or two.

"You are for the mines?" inquired an old sunburnt American, surely from the backwoods, for he had the entire cut of the face. He was going to pass us, but stopped on seeing our "fixings," with a singular kind of fun lighting up his eyes - and he had cause enough for it, for some of us looked sufficiently green.

"Yes, we are," I answered him, rather abruptly, but the man was not so soon rebuffed.

"Well boys," he continued, giving his quid a turn from the larboard to the starboard side, "'a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse,' but if you'll listen to reason, what I don't expect you will, though; you had better stay here in town during the rainy season, which may commence every day. If you go up to the mountains for to wash it, 'mought' be more likely you would get washed - you understand me."

It was all right, but the good man was wasting his time, his counsel, in fact, came rather late, and I told him so, that we had already taken our passage on board a schooner for Sacramento city.

"Paid already?" he inquired, pursing his brows "and on board a schooner - deck passage?"

I only nodded to him, and the old fellow, without saying another word, shoved his hands down into his breeches pockets as far as he could get them, and whistling "Yankee doodle" with all his might, went down the street.

I did not like his manner; the old man had most certainly seen a good deal of California, but what could we do now; at this very moment, the "Pomona's" boat also came alongside, and taking our things on board, turned, of course, our attention from every other object. The schooner lay between the rest of the vessels, and on a spot where I did not see how we would get out again; and how did it look on board? I thought of the old American already - there was no room even to put a foot down upon deck, every inch of the gangway, as well as every other part of the vessel, was stowed with flour-bags, lumber, and barrels; the surface of this perfect chaos of things crowded at the same time with passengers, who seemed to look upon us as intruders upon their peace. But what could we do; throwing, therefore, what little luggage we had on the top of the flour-bags and molasses-barrels, we followed after them, trying at the same time, though in vain, to look out a place where we could pass the night in only some degree of comfort.

Our anchor was not weighed, or the mainsail set till sunset, and I felt really curious to see how we could clear, in spite of a nice little breeze, all the neighboring vessels. And sure enough we did clear them, for the mate ran her, after we had made hardly twenty yards headway, right plump into the bowsprit of the next bark, and before we could get clear of her and repair damages, it had become so dark that there was no possibility of starting that same night again.

This was a fine beginning of a voyage, and I was only glad that the old American could not see us here. We passed a miserable night - very good accommodations for deck passengers were promised to us, and we did not even get a place to stretch ourselves; the consequence, of course, being a bad dysentery, very easily caught in this climate. Next day we started, but only covered a distance I could have pulled in half the time in a skiff, yet we were moving at least, till the third day, when the old schooner that drew ten feet of water - while the pilot himself said that we could never pass the bar of the Sacramento with it in the present state of the river - run comfortably aground in the very bay, and there we stuck.

The captain, an American, but one of the worst specimens of the nation - such a character as you principally find on the flat, and steam-boats of the Mississippi and Arkansas - (his name was Peterson, I shall never forget it), swore and cursed the whole day, from the very minute the schooner started, to the moment the sails were again furled. I do not attach much weight to a slight curse, it eases our hearts sometimes, and does us good, but I myself, and even the sailors of the schooner, felt disgusted at the low, profane fellow, with his never-ceasing oaths. He would not give a single command without such an addition, and a hundred times a day - for he had his flying jib up and down five and six times every hour - we had him bawling on deck.

"Take clown that flying jib," followed by a horrible string of oaths.

We had to get a lighter from Benitia, a little town on the bay, to ease our ship off the bar, and lost by it fully twenty-four hours, and after we got off, Mr. Peterson wanted to take the same freight on board again; and load her down as before; but to this we objected. We seven Germans, and three or four Americans, told him they would never allow him to take these goods on board as long as we were there, since the pilot himself had said we should not be able to clear the bar with them; several of us, besides, were very sick of the whole affair, and the captain offered to return us part of our passage-money, if we would go with some other conveyance up from New York, another little town right on the mouth of the Sacramento and San Joaquim. We were glad enough to take advantage of such a change, and soon found a boatman,, who passed us with a nice little sailing wherry, to take us all together up to Sacramento city for ten dollars a head. We quickly agreed - the man made one hundred dollars in about thirty-two hours, and jumping aboard, had the satisfaction of passing that same evening the "Pomona" again, lying high and dry on the bar of the Sacramento river, while we could even hear that sweet captain of hers at the distance we were, cursing his mate and all hands on deck.

Our captain was the boatswain of the "Sabine" a full ship which had come out to California with passengers; the ship being owned by the passengers themselves who had bought her in New York, loaded her with provisions and some goods, and got her out here, after deducting their own passage-money, nearly for nothing. She now lay for sale in the harbor, with only the captain and cook on board.

Ships were very frequently sold in this way in the United States, old tubs thought unfit for sea long before, and perhaps condemned in one harbor already - when the gold excitement drove people nearly mad, and every body wanted to be the first to get away, were painted afresh, received another name, and a couple of new spars perhaps, and away they went, with a cargo of passengers and provisions round the Cape. If every thing went well, they doubled the Cape and reached their place of destination, but many of these never in a condition to weather the storms and rough sea of those latitudes, and a new coat of paint not being sufficient to hold them longer together, went to pieces, and many a poor sailor or passenger has had his gold fever cooled in the icy waves of that dangerous Cape. We went up the Sacramento with a light though favorable breeze, and it was pleasant to the eye to see the beautiful oaks that filled the river bottoms, and were on many places encircled by luxurious vines and other evergreens. But the bottom is not wooded far inland, the timber stretching only to about a mile or two in breadth, and bounded again by wide and perfectly bare and swampy plains, on which, however, a most excellent grass grows, and which serve at the same time as lurking places for the elk and grizzly bear. The river itself is tolerably broad and open, with a good channel even for larger vessels, and as it is cleared by the annual floods from the greater number of snags, boats have with only a little attention no dangerous passage at all.

That night we camped on the bank of the river by a good roaring fire, there being plenty of dry wood about there to keep it up all night, and next afternoon we reached Sacramento city, rather a proud name for a place which looked at that time very much as if a wandering tribe of Indians had stuck camps there for a night or two. From the river we could see nothing at all of the town, as nearly all the trees, chiefly large sycamores and oaks, had been left standing along the bank, though the river itself, at the same time, evinced the neighborhood of a large and busy place by all kinds and varieties of vessels, which lay there, some moored, others stopped to land passengers, and some in fact run aground; among them, two large full ships which must have come up here with very high water, and were now lying dolefully upon their beam-ends.

Taking our things up the high and dusty bank, we struck camp just above town on the edge of a little thicket, where we had plenty of wood and water, but I was astonished at seeing the busy life of this so young, but, in fact, so rapidly rising place. Every body seemed in a hurry; carts and wagons were pressing to and fro, bringing and taking goods from and to the river: here a party were loading their mules for the mines, there another setting up a tent or small hut to commence business. Wherever a man was seen idle in the street he was sure to be asked if he wanted work, and even the schooners on the landing paid eight dollars a day for taking out freight, while carpenters, and all other artisans were offered twelve, fourteen, and sixteen dollars a day. As provisions, and, in fact, every thing else, was very dear here, we wanted to get off as soon as possible, and required for this purpose, before any thing else, a mule to carry our provisions and part of our other effects, and they were daily in the auction mart of the place.

The same morning I went into a drug-store to buy some linseed, for I was not well yet, and felt extremely weak. On asking the price of the linseed first, before I ordered the man to get it for me, for I had began to row careful, the apothecary told me it was one dollar an ounce; the young man, with a beautiful crop of fiery red hair, assuring me at the same time he would not get up from his chair for less than a dollar, so I did not disturb his rest any further.

Next morning I went to the auction mart, and I wish the reader could have been with me there, to see the singularly busy life of that little place. In one of the widest streets of Sacramento, the houses of course consisting of nothing but tents and some low wooden frames, and beneath some beautiful old oak trees the inhabitants had left standing, the auction was held, which lasted from early morning till late in the afternoon every day of the week, except Sunday, and collected of course all those who had some business as well as those who had none - only to see the sport, or perhaps hear the prices of the different things and animals.

At several spots where they had chosen, the large stump of a tree or some large cask, set on end for that purpose, lank and lean down-easters - and you will know them wherever you find them through the world - stood praising and selling with nearly incredible volubility all that came under their hands. But these had, in spite of that, the fewest auditors, for the greatest mass of spectators or buyers formed a perfect avenue in the street, up and down which eight or ten auctioneers were galloping upon just as many mules or horses.

"Gentlemen, eighteen dollars, only eighteen dollars," one of them croaked in a hoarse and hardly audible voice, for he had been screaming in that way, for the last fourteen days - praising at the same time an old white horse which really seemed to be only held together by the saddle-girt. "Eighteen dollars for this fine, young, excellent horse, gentlemen - shall I say twenty? Only eighteen dollars for this excellent riding horse, gentlemen. Only eighteen dollars, with saddle and bridle, alone worth thirty in San Francisco?"

"One hundred and thirty dollars for this fine mule, gentlemen," another cried, galloping close up to the hoarse one, drowning his voice completely with his own. "Only one hundred and thirty dollars - worth one hundred and eighty or two hundred, gentlemen - shall I say one hundred and thirty-five? - hundred and thirty two - thank you, gone for one hundred and thirty-two dollars, gentlemen."

It was in fact a beautiful mule, and was sold afterward for one hundred and fifty-one dollars; the price of mules varying also from sixty up to that sum, just as there were buyers in the market or parties came up, who wanted to start soon. The horses, nearly all of which had come over the mountains that summer, looked pitiable enough-only one fetched sixty dollars, with saddle and bridle - the rest were nearly all sold at prices varying from twenty to thirty dollars.

Large wagons, commonly drawn by two yoke of oxen, all of which had also come over the mountains, fetched the best prices, as they were frequently sold, especially if the oxen looked well, for seven and eight hundred dollars.

We bought on the second day a good mule for seventy-five dollars, and packing what provisions and cooking utensils we possessed upon it, making a load of about one hundred and fifty to one hundred and eighty pounds, we started on the 27th of October in good earnest for the mines; but the reader ought to have seen us. Our little party consisted of seven souls, and a motley company it was, three of them being merchants' clerks, one an apothecary, one a sailor, one a locksmith (the locksmith and one of the merchants' clerks were brothers), and myself. We had only taken with us what little luggage we could not do without, but, besides this, nearly all of us carried some kind of weapon or other. But I had better give the reader at once a true description of all of us, he'll get acquainted in that way with a greater number of such parties that started and even yet start in a similar way to the mountains - for gold.

We had been, as I have said, seven, but one of the young merchantmen gave up the second day, and staid behind; the weather was too hot for him, and he was not able to undergo so many hardships as he thought we would be obliged to do from the first start - and he was not far wrong in that.

The two brothers, to commence with the most interesting part of the group - Jews from Berlin, seemed not to have had much idea about working hard, but like a good many of the new corners thought they should find the gold easily enough in the mountains, they wanted at least to make the trial, and were equiped accordingly. The locksmith carried a rifle and a long hanger, or couteau-de-chasse, at his side, wore a gray gardener's cap with a large peak, a leathern belt with a pistol stuck in it, and a white linen bag over his left shoulder, his trowsers were, at the same time, rolled up, and his coat lay with the rest of the things upon the mule, himself going in shirt-sleeves.

His brother sported a short jacket, rather tight-fitting trowsers, high-water boots, and a singularly formed blue cap, with a kind of china button upon it. He carried no gun, merely a hanger, but as he buckled it rather curiously around him, the weapon was always too far behind and too deep, and really seemed more for ornament than use. Over his right shoulder he had also swung a kind of bag with some little things he wanted on the road, and as our frying-pan would not agree upon the mule with the boiler and the teapot, but knocked against them continually, and kept up an uninterrupted clatter, he carried that in his hand, which made it look in connection with the couteau-de-chasse, something like a species of shield.

The little apothecary wore a green Polish cap, with four corners, a strip of black fur around it, and a red beard below it, carrying upon his back a kind of soldier's black knapsack, with a rolled-up blanket laid over it, and a short, stout walking-stick in his hand. His trowsers were also tucked up half-way to his knee, and he had a peculiar way of holding the stick in walking far away from his body. His name was Kunitz, the two brothers name Meyer.

The fourth, Huhne, was a stout young fellow, of about twenty years of age, with a green hunting-cap, yellow overcoat, trowsers, and half boots, a striped bag over one shoulder, a rolled-up blanket over the other, and a double-barreled gun in his hand.

The young sailor wore his sea-clothes, but with the addition of a double-barreled gun, and a rolled-up blanket.

I myself wore my old leathern hunting-shirt, with hunting-pouch, rifle, and bowie-knife, with a Scotch cap and high water-boots, and also a small pouch buckled round me, which contained the most necessary medicines for the mines.

Such was our equipment for the diggings, and with the mule among us, which one of us always had to lead, the reader may be assured we formed a perfect picture.

During the first days we met with not the least accident worth noticing; we marched slowly along a very dusty and extremely hot road, meeting empty wagons and mules, coming from the mines, and sometimes horsemen, who galloped along at a rattling rate, with a serape or blanket behind them, leaving the mines and going back to the towns, before the rainy season set in. Sometimes we even overtook pedestrians, who carried every thing they had upon their backs, trudging slowly along upon their tedious track, or resting, already knocked up, under a shady tree, with their spades, pickaxes, and pans by their side.

The third night we reached an old but abandoned camping place of some Indian tribe, and struck camp there ourselves. A really romantic spot had been chosen for it, upon the shore of the Sacramento, many signs showing at the same time that the tribe could have left this place only a few days before, perhaps when the Americans came and set up their tents not a hundred yards from their old hearths and homes. Down on the river there were the posts yet left, upon which the fishers had lain with their nets, and the planks still extending into clear water, where the squaw had come down to fill the drinking vessels, and get the water for their acorn mush. On the top of the bank we found the round stones, with which they crush and pound their acorn meal, and several wooden troughs and bowls, forgotten or purposely left behind, rested here and there against a tree. These brown sons of the plains had also been good hunters, with their simple bows and arrows. What a quantity of deer-horns were lying on the roots of an old broken-down white oak, and close to it the wings of a black and powerful eagle, proved the true and deadly aim of another marksman.

And where were the Indians who had chased the deer, or the squaws who had cooked their meals? Gone, driven away from the graves of their fathers, wandering homeless through a country where the pale-face had disturbed their peace, killed, or frightened away their game, destroyed their fisheries, and threatened and even taken their lives. One year had been enough to effect all this, and the Indians had already ceased to exist as a tribe, before they could only comprehend what fearful consequences the crowding in of the pale-faces upon their lands must entail on them and their children.

In North America, as well as other colonies, the oppression and destruction of the natives or aborigines was effected gradually, and was rather the effect of time, or the natural consequences of immigration. The children saw year after year how the strangers increased, and found themselves thrust back from the inhabited parts into their wild homes, the game growing scarcer with every year, though the whites themselves showed the tribes other means of earning their living, and even encouraged them to gain it in the same way their conquerors did. Their religion and habits were at the same time respected, and the pioneers, who went first among them and settled in their boundaries, had to act with great precaution for their own security: the red son of the woods was too powerful in his own home, and the squatter feared the war-yell of the enraged warrior.

But how different was the fate of the Indians here, the cry of the new El Dorado shot through the world, and before the wild children of these mountains could have the least foreboding what would be the consequence of hundreds on hundreds flocking in and searching the gulfs after the "yellow stones," their land was flooded with them. From all sides, over the mountains, down from the north, and up from the south, and even over the sea, they pressed in; the natives were not driven back, they were surrounded and ruined, and while the whites suffered them to exist at least, they robbed them at the same time of nearly all the means of existence, while they punished the least crime against themselves with death.

But enough of those painful facts; we pity the poor tribes while we can not save them, and the car of Fate rolls slowly on and crushes them beneath its wheels.

On Thursday, the 30th, we passed the little tent-town Vermont. Feather River here empties itself into the Sacramento, having Vermont upon its left shore, and another little town, Fremont upon its right, the small tongue or peninsula which juts out between the two rivers, being already occupied, though the yearly floods are said to cover the whole strip of land with the powerful swell of the torrents.

There was a ferry established here large enough to carry loaded wagons over with their teams. That same night, we camped on Bear Creek, following up Feather River now, to cross it farther above. Next day we crossed the Yuba River, which empties itself into Feather River, the Yuba also being a tolerable good watercourse, with sufficient water for even small steamers, a good way up, but now only navigated by some whale-boats. We could cross the Yuba, however, by wading.

Here we met a team coming down from the most northern mines, and a German was with it, who told us to go up by all means to the Reading Mines, where there was every thing we wanted - plenty of gold, provisions cheap, and several very nice families had taken up their quarters there to winter in the mountains. The distance was about one hundred and fifty miles, and we could do it easily in six days. It was getting dark and the man had no time to stop any longer with us, for he wanted to cross the river with his team before night set in.

We held a grand council that evening as to where to go to, as we had fixed on no certain spot as yet; but thinking we could trust a countryman of ours who could not have the least interest in the place we might select for our own winter quarters, we determined at last on following his advice and foot it really to the Reading's; there was plenty of game and gold, by his account, and we should have a pleasant life in the mountains.

But it was a singular fact, that every body we spoke with about the mines had an opinion of his own, differing entirely from the rest, about all those places we heard commonly talked of. Some had told us before that the Reading Mines were unhealthy; others had said unhealthy, no, but there is no gold to be found; and this old fellow gave a glowing account of them. Just in the same way, some praised Feather River up to the clouds, while others gave it the worst name of all the gold-producing streams in California - who was right now?

Next day, therefore, we determined on taking the northern route: we crossed Feather River by wading it, and camped on the other side. On this day we came to the first Indian village, built on the banks of the river, and consisting of at least thirty or thirty-five well-made huts, dug half in the ground, and walled and roofed very much like those of the Mandan Indians of North America. The huts were dug about four feet deep into the ground, strong posts being set up in the inside and the middle, with rafters and beams across them, which were overlaid and connected with branches, and finally covered with a thick and well-beaten coat of earth, which was of a perfectly round shape and turned off the rain completely. Above ground they rose to a height of six or eight feet, having a small and low entrance, through which the inhabitants had to crawl in or out. A hole for the smoke was left exactly in the centre.

These villages look rather singular through a quantity of cylindrical, plait-work erections, made out of cane, about ten feet high, and four feet in diameter. They serve to hold the winter provisions for the natives, and generally stand singly by the separate huts to which they belong, sometimes, though, three and four together, looking very much like a kind of watch-tower, scattered through the camp. At the entrance of a great many huts we found squaws sitting, with large piles of roasted acorns spread out on a blanket, by their side, while they were cracking the hard shell of the acorn with their ivory teeth, dropping the kernel without touching it with their lips, into a piece of cloth upon their laps, and throwing the shell away. The dress of the women consisted of a blanket thrown round the shoulders, and a short but thick kind of mat, or rather apron, made out of reeds or rushes. The men on the contrary, sported nearly every fashion in the world; some were entirely naked without even a waist coat, merely with some ornament in the hair, others had a blanket wrapped around them, while others again wore a perfectly European dress with every thing belonging to it, except shoes. Their national ornaments seemed to be of a very simple kind; they all had, both men and women, their ears pierced, and wore in these a simple piece of wood or quill ornament and painted. They also tattoo, but I only saw a few of them with these marks, and then on the chin, only, with fine blue stripes running down from the corners of the mouth.

The first village we passed seemed very thickly inhabited, or else every body was before his own door or upon the roof of his hut, where the men were principally sitting, and seemingly enjoying the warm sun with a great deal of pleasure. They were nearly all naked, squatting with their backs together, and appearing not to take the least notice of the white passers. Only upon one hut four fellows were stationed, three naked and one wrapped up in a fiery red blanket, who seemed to find peculiar amusement in our appearance, talking, arguing with each other, and laughing. The women were nearly all busy, diving, though, wherever they got a chance, away into their huts as soon as the white strangers approached them. We saw a singular kind of ornament in one of these villages; it was a long pole, upon the upper part of which five or six very well-stuffed wild geese were fastened just as if they were running up the pole with outstretched necks. Not speaking the language, I could not inquire of the natives for what purpose they had set up such a sign, for there was no wild goose hotel in the neighborhood; but what I heard afterward of the tribe makes me think it was a kind of national emblem, the favorite animal of the tribe, and as likely as not that from which the whole tribe derives its name, as other tribes in California are called cayotas, and also in the Atlantic States Wolves and Foxes.

One of our party, the oldest Meyer, poor fellow, got a dreadful tooth-ache, after we were a few days out, and in consequence of it a swelled face, but such a face I never saw before in my life; his head really seemed to be double its proper size, and his countenance was in fact most doleful. Tooth-ache is at the same time an extraordinary pain, and whoever has suffered from it, will know it - with some teeth cold water held on to them, will cease the pain, while others can not bear the thought of it. Some teeth, and in fact the most, drive you nearly mad as soon as you apply salt to them, while I saw a lady only very recently, who put a whole pinch of table-salt right into the hollow tooth to deaden the pain. Some teeth require you to hold your head up, while others make you bend it down to let the blood rush to it, or even stand upon your head, sometimes in its worst paroxysms. This was the sort of tooth Meyer had, and the mad aching seemed to ease as soon as he held down his head, perhaps for half a minute to the ground; and as much as we pitied the poor fellow, it was sometimes really impossible to refrain from laughing at his man'uvres.

The wagon road led right through the third Indian village we reached, and following it, we entered the little town where the natives were sitting in their surly silence on the houses, only once in a while throwing a dark look upon the strangers who pressed in more and more, filling the country with their multitudes. Suddenly right in the very centre of the place, and surrounded on every side by the crowded huts-for tooth-ache never cares for place nor time - Meyer had one of his worst fits; and without even looking round to see where he was, he placed both his hands upon the ground, and dropping his head down as far as he could, he lifted, partly to bring the upper portion of his body farther forward, and partly to balance it, his right leg as high up as he could get it. The cap fell from his head, all the things he carried, slipped forward over his shoulders, and the hanger had caught in some fold or other, and was now standing, just as it had hung before, right upright into the air, increasing of course the oddity of the whole figure.

The effect was, however, extraordinary, which this posture had upon the at first so indolent natives. At the first moment, a couple of women, who had been setting close by, cleaning a crous, jumped up, dropped whatever they held in their laps, and ran as quickly as they could into their huts, and even the men rose up suddenly, looking in mute astonishment and wonder at the extraordinary stranger who presented himself in the heart of their homes in such a peculiar, and perhaps hostile posture. The thick red face that now became visible between his arms and just above the ground, did not serve to reassure them; but when we ourselves could hold on no longer, but burst out, in spite of our compassion for the poor fellow, into loud and perfect roars of laughter, they seemed to drop every idea of hostility on his part, and thinking, as likely as not, the whole only a performance the kind stranger had got up for their own and sole amusement, they also set up a perfect scream of delight; and the women on every side coming out of their caves again, and other natives jumping upon the nearest hut, we were surrounded in a few seconds by swarms of Indians, poor Meyer, with his dreadful pain and desperate posture, forming the centre of the merry crowd.

At last he rose up again, greeted this time by a perfect cheer; but he was not in the humor to favor the grinning savages with another performance, which they seemed really desirous to have, but throwing a wild and angry look around him, he shook his luggage in order, and traveled on.

That same night we had a small shower of rain, and the clouds began to look rather suspicious; if the rainy season really set in now, we were in a bad fix, and so it turned out. We had not marched three miles that morning, before a fine drizzly shower commenced, which grew harder and harder, and set in at last to a downright rain which soaked us through in a few hours. Still we trudged on over a wide plain, fringed by the timber growth of the Bute Creek, which we reached late that night. There would not have been the least chance of building any kind of camp when we reached the first tree; for it was dark as pitch, and all of us as cold and wet as if we had lain a day in ice-water, but fortunately there was a rancho here, "Neal's Range," as the Americans call it, and we found an old shed, under which a party of Americans had already camped, with a roaring fire on the one side of it. Making room for us to lie down at least on the damp ground, we were able to boil that evening a cup of red-hot coffee, and stretch our limbs - our legs sticking out just under the drippings of the roof - in comparative shelter. That night a perfect storm set in, the wind howling through the gnarled limbs of the old oaks, and breaking down branches every where. Toward morning however, the sky cleared, but Bute Creek was so swollen, that we should have had to swim if we wanted to cross; and not being in any such hurry, and rather inclined to rest a day and dry our wet clothes, we decided on stopping here till next morning, and then continue our journey to the Reading Diggings.

But our means of existence would soon become rather precarious, if we did not speedily reach some mine or other, and be able to work there. A part of our little company had had no money at all when we started, and buying mule, provisions and tools had absorbed the rest. Every cent we had in cash on this very day, as we lay here under an old crazy shed in the middle of a wilderness, with only a small stock of provisions left, consisted of four dollars and a half - about eighteen shillings - for six men, and provisions rose during the rain like mushrooms. Here we also found several parties coming down from the mines, and all of them seemed to have been in or near the Reading Diggings, and gave us the worst description imaginable of them: provisions were cheap there, because every body left who saw the possibility of selling what little he had, and though there was undoubtedly gold there, it lay in such scattered spots that made it a real matter of accident who might drop upon a small quantity, while many at the same time - eighteen out of twenty - worked and worked, just for their living, while it was even doubtful if they could make that, if a heavy snow-fall should set in, in those rather high and cold regions. Another point was the impossibility of getting away again, if winter set in, and from all we heard now - and which was in fact confirmed by several other parties, who came in next day - it seemed as if our countryman, who had given us such a glowing description of the place, had had some interest in getting us there; very probably, a quantity of provisions he wanted to sell himself on the spot. I particularly inquired how game was up there, to have, at least something to depend upon, if provisions became too dear, but in this we also found ourselves disappointed. Our informants had lived several months in the mountains, some of them even hunters, but had not met a single grizzly bear, and very seldom deer. There was no dependence on that.

But what to do now? These men had a notion of going to Feather River Mines, but they would not advise us to do so, for nobody could tell which place was the best; but the Feather River Mines were assuredly the nearest, and our main object was now to get to a place where we could earn our living, as there was such a bad prospect of carrying out our former plans. In fact, we had no great alternative left; and therefore determined, after a hurriedly-held council, on giving up the Reading Mines, and starting direct for Feather River. To do this we had, however, to retrace our steps about ten miles, and then strike over to Feather River again, and cross this stream rather higher up than we had done the previous time.

But it seemed as if we could not get away so quickly from Bute Creek as we thought; for the second day we could not find our mule till late in the afternoon, and the third and fourth day it rained again as if the skies had sprung a leak, which could not be stopped in any day.

On Wednesday forenoon, when the rain was pouring down in torrents, the road consisting, in fact, of nothing else but a solid bed of mud, ankle-deep, with holes in it, where the mules sank down sometimes to their girths, two wagons with emigrants came down the road, and in fact, right across the Rocky Mountains, who had left the States on the 1st of May. The poor people were from Missouri; and as they had lost all their animals but four on the road, they had to leave the greater part of their provisions and goods behind, to reach in safety a warmer climate, before the winter snows set in, and buried them in the icy heights. I felt truly sorry for the poor children (the mother lay sick in the first wagon), the poor things wet to the skin and shivering; in fact, were obliged to wade through mud and water behind the vehicle, as the two half-starved oxen were not able to drag any additional weight. The men stopped their wagons not far from our fire, to go into the house and inquire the road, and perhaps also to take a horn (a single dram cost fifty cents, or two shillings), and the little ones came round our fire to warm themselves. They were a boy of about eleven, and a girl of nine, and another one of about seven years of age; and as we fortunately had some boiling water, I quickly made them a cup of coffee, which seemed to do them at least some little good.

When I expressed my pity for them, an American, who was standing by, remarked the children would not find it so great a hardship as the parents did, as they frequently were used to such a life in their own country, where they had to go, sometimes in the worst kind of weather, four or five miles to school. The smallest of the children looked wistfully up into his face while he was speaking, and then said, with a deep sigh:

'Yes; but when we came home in the evening, mamma had a warm dress for us, and on the hearth we found warm food and hot coffee."

A couple of clear tears rose up into the poor little creature's eyes, when she thought of the scattered household goods of her own home; but she struggled manfully against the weakness, child as she was, and seemed to be ashamed of it, for she only held down her little head, while spreading her cold and tiny hands before the blazing flame.

And gold - vile gold alone - had driven this man from his peaceful home, exposing his family to all the dangers and hardships of such a long and tedious journey - to the burning sun and the fevers of the plains, the icy winds and dangers of the snowy mountains. At the same time, he was not leaving a country where he had to toil on steadily in the sweat of his brow, under a hateful government perhaps, or held in poverty by an overburdened population; but he had quitted a free and happy country, where every man, without overworking himself, could earn his living, and see his children grow up around him in peace and plenty: and if his wife, who lay sick in the cold and damp wagon, died on the road or in this country, could he ever again look his children in the face, whose mother he had killed? Could he ever be happy again?

Thousands of families have crossed the plains and Rocky Mountains, under similar circumstances, in hardship and misery, and hundreds of them were even now shut up in the snow, working away for their lives, only to reach the wet and swampy low lands; perfectly willing to brave any thing they might meet there, that they might not starve and be frozen to death in those icy regions. And even before they reached the mountains, many families lost their father and leader, or the children their mother, the parents their offspring they had started with in pride and hope; and travelers from there told me there were parts of those plains where a man could never miss the road to the mines if he only followed the graves.

That night we had to hunt up our mule again; and the younger Meyer, who really could not find his way through the woods for a hundred yards, succeeded - though I really could not comprehend how - in losing himself not a quarter of a mile from our camp, in an open plain, though he had not left the trees beneath whose shade the rancho stood more than about four hundred yards. Without even a blanket, and not able of course to kindle a fire, he had the satisfaction of running all night round a tree, to keep himself warm and alive.

On Thursday morning we left this range, to strike to Feather River, and a bad and tedious march we had of it. On the road I tried to get within shooting distance of some herds of antelopes, but in vain; they were exceedingly shy and wild, and on the open plain, without even the smallest bush to hide and creep up to them; they had their sentinels posted in every direction, and at the first sight of man fled in wild disorder toward the mountains. I only shot a cayota, one of the little California wolves; but could, of course, do nothing with it. It measured about four feet, to the end of the bushy tail.

That night we camped on the banks of Feather River in a miserable spot, some of our party had chosen, while two of us had been out looking for antelopes. They had even collected no wood, except some green twigs, with which to boil a little water and smoke our eyes out. But here we entered for the first time the real mines; little tents and bush-covered huts every where met our sight, and when night set in, from all the slopes of the hills, from out the valleys, and from the banks of the river, glittered through the darkness, and here and there large fires blazed up, showing the different places where the gold-searching population of the El Dorado had struck camp and dreamt their golden dreams. Though it rained that night again, as if heaven's gates were opened, we did not grumble, for had we not reached the mines at last, and was not the rest now, in comparison with all the hardships we had suffered, mere child's play? We all regarded the rain that night as if it belonged to the first impression of the gold district, but I could not help thinking of the old American, who had spoken to me when we were awaiting the "Pomona's" boat, and said we were going to the mines to wash, though we had the probability of getting washed instead - and how true had the old fellow's words turned out? I fancied I saw him-whistle down the streets, with his hands, or rather his arms in his pockets, up to his very elbows.

Next morning we were perfectly benumed with cold and wet; at the same time, as our fire had been entirely put out by the rain, we could not even boil a cup of coffee, and determined on crossing the river before breakfast, leaving that for the other side of the stream, if the weather cleared up a little. At this part of the mines - the little place was called, Long's Store - they had told us we should find a ferry, and so we did, but a singular-looking concern it was to go on board of. The ferry consisted, in fact, of nothing else but a simple wagon-body from some of the old Illinois or Indiana wagons, caulked and pitched as well as possible, and just able to carry four persons, but hardly their baggage. Four of us had to go over first, paying a quarter of a dollar a-head, then driving the mule in, it crossed in good style, and after this I followed with the young sailor and our baggage to bring up the rear. As the stream was here hemmed in by high and mighty rocks, a powerful current shot through the narrow valley with dangerous speed, and our craft was not in a fit state to give us a great deal of confidence, but each of us squatting in a corner and keeping her as quiet as possible and in good trim, while the boatman himself in the third, and the baggage in the fourth made up the balance, we pushed her out in the stream and the ferryman began paddling with all his might. All at once the water came oozing in, and we had not left the shore more than about fifteen yards, when it came in with a rush.

"She has sprung a leak," said our oarsman dryly, and being used to it, I expect, he at the same time pulled her round with much dexterity, and ran her back upon a flat rock right below, which had served him, I am sure, many a time as a safe mooring-place. We had to bail her out now, and stuffing some old rags he carried with him for the purpose into the leak, which was nearly half an inch wide, we started again, and this time reached the other shore, though nearly half-filled, and all our things wet.

As we paid one dollar and a half for ferrying, and had been obliged to buy some salt and fresh meat at Neal's range, we had here - when we reached the other bank of the Feather River e pluribus unum - just one dollar left in cash. One dollar left to keep six strong, healthy men alive - there was a prospect for a cashier. But what matter, were we not in the mines, had we not provisions for several days yet, and where was there a cause to be disheartened? The rain, however, was disagreeable; it poured down all day, and hearing of some beautiful timber a little way farther up the river, where we could build a small hut or shanty, and cover it with split boards, we determined on trying to reach that part of the country as quickly as possible to get at least under shelter, and be no longer exposed to a continually drenching rain.

On reaching the top of the hill we found an old Pensylvanian, who showed the first gold. He and his daughter had been washing the day before and cleared nearly an ounce - as he said - and he thought the prospects in this quarter of the world were very good. Down on the river we could also see several men at work, rocking away at their cradles, and digging and picking the hard ground. The people led a busy life, and they seemed well satisfied with it, though I must confess I had thought it rather different from what I found it. Still it was only a first commencement, and gave little cause for grumbling as yet.

Next day we had some better weather, and as it was Sunday, we thought there would be no work going on in the mines, but the late excessive wet made the gold-finders stick to their cradles the first fair day they got to make up for lost time, and they were busy as bees along the whole bank of the stream. We saw them only at work along the banks of the little river, or in gravel-beds forming little islands in the low water. Throwing off the gravel till they came to a certain depth, they carried all this gravel, which contained some clayey ground to their cradles or machines, and rocked away; at most places only two worked together, as they had the water for washing to hand; on some places, I saw three with one cradle, and on a good many spots only one by himself, picking the ground, carrying it to the water for washing it out, sometimes even with a common pan.

But here we could not stop, as we had no tent to lay under, and were not able to pay fifty and sixty dollars for one, we were obliged to go to a place where we could get timber, and the next day found us among the beautiful red-wood of these mountains. But provisions had risen here also to an extraordinary price, flour was seventy-five cents per pound, pork one dollar, salt also one dollar, and fresh meat fifty cents with and seventy-five cents without the bone, and nothing else to be got. Never mind, we were at last on the very spot we had wanted to reach. Every where on the banks of the river we saw men at work, and little log cabins were built up on every suitable place, therefore marching up the river, after we had passed the last store, about two miles further, and finding a really romantic spot under high towering pines and red-wood, we threw down our blankets, and struck camp.

Before all other things, even before getting under shelter, however much we needed it, we had to try to get a cradle, and while one part of our company went to work and washed out some gold to buy provisions with, the other should fell trees and build a small hut, to have at least a dry and comfortable place to sleep in. As the rainy season had set in in good earnest, we had not to look long for somebody who wanted to sell his traps and quit the mines, and since we no longer had any use for the mule, we made a bargain with two men, who worked a little farther up the creek, one a Norwegian and the other an American, to exchange our mule for their cradle and tools and some few provisions they could spare. I also stopped with them half a day to see them work the cradle, and get an idea how to hunt for gold, though the whole work looked to me so strange and wild that I did not see how it could require judgment where every thing seemed mere chance work.

But I shall not tire the reader with a description of the washing itself of the different tools and machines; all this has been described over and over again in England, and is far too monotonous to bear long explanations. I did not dig myself, for being the only one among us who could handle an ax, I went to work to fell a large red-wood, and split some boards for a roof, the other five, in the mean time, trying what they could do in the way of washing. We were full of hopes, for the least success would guarantee to us not only our existence in the mountains through the winter, but also a good profit, and perhaps - for why not we as well as others - some overgrown lumps of gold, of an indefinite number of pounds, troy weight - the heavier the better. We found ourselves very much disappointed in the course of time.

It rained continually; there was not a dry thread upon our backs, and even our blankets had become soaked and afforded no warmth. Provisions rose of course accordingly, and when the gold-diggers came to camp that evening, they brought with them about two dollars' worth of gold, and on sending one of them up to the store to buy provisions with it, the store-keeper would not let us have flour under one dollar per pound, pork at a dollar and a quarter.

The next day, Tuesday, the same game - no gold found, a trifle except, rain all day, and provisions rising again a quarter of a dollar the pound. The first tree I felled, too, would not answer; it looked well enough outside, but was mouldy and wouldn't split, and I had to cut down another one, but the main instrument for splitting boards, a froe, was wanting, and I had to lose half a day in running about through the neighborhood merely to find a man who owned one, and even that we could not keep, for the man himself expected his family up there in a few days (pity the poor women who would be obliged to stop through a rainy season in these mountains), and had to set up, of course, a good and dry house first before they reached the place. In fact, every thing went the wrong way, and the only thing that kept on regularly was the rain, which came down; while, with equal regularity, provisions went up, with every shower. At last we had not a single cent left to buy even the most necessary article of food, and we would not borrow. Our meal had become smaller every day, and only to fill our stomachs we began mixing our bread with a small kind of red berry, which grew around us in great profusion, and tasted well enough. As we could not live much longer, and we all saw we must come to some decision, if our condition could not be altered in one way or the other. We agreed finally that the next day should be decisive, whether we stopped any longer up here (where there was, in fact, no chance at all of provisions coming up again this winter, if the weather continued as it was), or starting back for Sacramento and San Francisco, and give up mining altogether for this season at least. The gold-miners wanted to try, therefore, for the last time, a new plan, and I myself, as there seemed no chance of getting a froe for the next three or four days, shouldered my gun to take a walk over the hills, and try if I could not come across a deer, or perhaps an old grizzly bear, and get a quantity of meat.

Nothing at all succeeded; our gold-diggers got this day less than ever, provisions rose up that evening to two dollars for a pound of flour, and the same price for pork - the store-keeper seeming quite diffident about selling it at present, where he had no chance of getting more, and I myself, upon my hunting trip, saw only a single deer, and that out of the range of my gun; I could not find even tracks, and the hills really seemed as if every particle of game had been killed, or driven away.

Next night we had hardly any thing to eat, and it rained frightfully; but if we had any doubt what course to follow under such circumstances, some Americans who passed our camp early next morning, would have solved it. They had every thing they called their own, which they could carry upon their backs, leaving, as they said, a neighborhood where there would be a famine in a few days, if all stopped there. Again we held a general council, and the result of it was that we packed up our things, and that same morning, the 18th of November, with the first rays of the sun after a short delay we started, heavily loaded, on our back track.

But we most certainly did not intend to carry all the things we were loaded with at present, to the low lands again, therefore, on reaching the first store on the hills, where a Missourian had commenced keeping a warehouse, as he called it; we made a bargain with him, and sold him all our tools and part of the cooking utensils, the younger Meyer even his rifle, and the older, his hanger, for cash, and went on our way with a very light load and in the best possible manner, down into the valley. We had found no gold, but what matter, we were all healthy yet, and had seen the mines at least - the next time better luck - and laughing and talking we clambered down the steep ridges till night overtook, and found us round a large fire and a splendid panful of most excellent dumplings, Huhne, a very good hand at such things, had prepared to get our rather weakened stomachs in good working order again. That night though, we tasted, in spite of the dumplings, the pleasures of mountain-life again in bumpers.

At about ten o'clock, it commenced raining, and never left off for a single minute during the whole night. Next morning we had to get up in the rain, kindle a fire again, and cook our breakfast, after which, wringing out our heavy blankets, rolling them up again, and slinging them over our shoulders, we marched on. Next night we had to lay down in the soft and perfectly liquid mud, not a dry spot was to be found in the whole neighborhood; but it did not rain this night, and that was some comfort. We had our worst time though two days afterward. On reaching Feather River again, the banks of which were high and dry, and comparatively easy, we arrived - after another night's hard rain, which, however, we passed under a roof -at a small slew or branch, which had now grown to a perfect torrent, and ran right across our path. This we had to cross; but finding it deeper than we had at first anticipated, our only chance was to make a raft, for the purpose of dragging across our things, and those of our companions who could not swim. As no large timber grew there, we carried a parcel of old and half-burnt logs to the water's edge, and tying them together with all the small pieces of twine we possessed, we really made a sort of raft, which we thought would carry all our things. We worked at this for about three hours, the rain coming down at the same time as hard as it could, and the two Meyers and Kunitz standing, while the other three were wading about in the water, and carrying and floating the old logs shivering with cold, and ready to give up nearly every thing in despair. At last we were ready for a trial, and fastening a rather weak fishing-line I had in my pocket as a tow-line to our clumsy craft, I waded into the water, and when I felt it getting too deep to walk, cried to the others to push the raft after me, while I struck out for the other shore.

It was no go; the logs were too heavy, and sunk under water before it had got even out of reach of the young sailor, who wisely followed it to see how it would answer, and as the weight was too great for the line, it broke, and catching at the same moment round my left arm and both my feet, it was all I could do to reach the other shore with my right arm; satisfied at finding that they had at least got hold of the raft again on the other side, and were pulling it in. Swimming back, I helped them to pull our soaking wet things out of the water, when our sailor-boy, who had noticed the rising of the creek, told us to make haste with whatever we wanted to do, for in the next quarter of an hour, we should have just such another slew on our other side, and was even on a little island already, for the streamlet had risen in the last half hour more than six inches. Some Americans who also wanted to cross, and had been looking at us for a good while, to see what success we had, hurried back, and on reaching the other channel, shouted to us to make haste and follow them, for the log we had crossed over on was nearly under water already.

We had no choice left, for though there would have been very little difficulty in crossing with Huhne and the sailor, we should have had to leave the others, and not being willing to do that, we caught up our luggage, which was as heavy as lead now through the water, and turned back. And, in fact, it was high time; the powerful current nearly swept us away, and though we all reached the shore safely, we were all but dead with cold and wet.

That night we camped again in the house where we had staid the previous one, with one of our countrymen, at least under a dry roof, but with hardly any firewood, and the reader may think what a night we passed. Our provisions consisted at the same time of a small piece of fat pork and one biscuit apiece, eleven of us crowding round a small pile of little more than hot embers. We saw the effects of this day's work next morning; for the sailor whom I had thought the hardiest of the whole of us, and who had complained the previous night of headache and drowsiness, was attacked by a swelling in his feet, so that he could not wear his boots, pain in the gums, indicating at the same time the first signs of scurvy.

Not being able to cross the slough, which had become a perfect torrent, sweeping every thing before it, we heard of a whaleboat which had come up Feather River. Some of those staying with us at the hut declared their intention of crossing to the other shore of the river, there being not so many sloughs and swamps in following the river's course, as on this side. The only difficulty seemed the price; the Yankee, who saw well enough that a party of travelers was in a fix, asking two dollars per head to take us across. We had to pay it, however; and taking our sick man over also, we walked on slowly and tediously with him. For the first two or three hours he was able to walk at least by himself, while I carried his baggage; but afterward even that seemed impossible, and I had to lead him slowly along.

On Friday we reached Captain Sutter's farm on Feather River; it was the first truly cultivated spot I had seen in California, and it looked tome really like home. I was getting tired of lying out in the wet every night; I longed for warm and clean clothing and civilized nourishment, and the tiles on the roof, the window-panes, the clean and open yard, with its plows and other implements, the homely-looking curtains to the windows, the even flower-pots, recalled to my memory long-past scenes, which rains and flood seemed nearly to have washed out of my memory.

Fortunately, I found Mr. Sutter, for whom I had brought to California a chest of books from a friend of his in Germany, at home; and was received by him in a most friendly manner, though I looked most certainly more like a swamped vagabond than any thing else. But people up here are accustomed to see persons return from the mines in just such outrigs, and find nothing uncommon or extraordinary in it, though I am sure if I had shown myself in that state in any of our German towns, the police-officers would have taken care of me directly. But I was sorry at not being able to accept even the captain's hospitable invitation to dinner, as much as I needed a good meal once again: for our sick man did not allow us to delay any longer; he wanted rest, and, if possible, medicines, and the sooner we got him into Sacramento, the better. Captain Sutter, however, when he saw we were determined on starting, loaded us with provisions.

Captain Sutter is a well-set, stout, and healthy-looking man, of about forty-five years of age, with a large mustache - a remembrance of former times. He was the first of all in the mines, in fact, who had power and provisions - two extraordinary things at that time - and through his proximity to the first gold mine, only had to pick up the lumps as they fell. He owned, at the same time, immense tracts of laud; and part of them, as Sacramento City, in the most advantageous positions; but being too good-hearted, he was misused by most of those he had been kind to, and he commenced having his troubles with the land; the American squatters settling on it, wherever they thought fit, and caring little or nothing whether they were in the right or not, so long as they kept the land. The state of things was far too unsettled as yet, and the transition from a mild to a civilized condition, far too rapid and unnatural.

During our stay on the farm, the younger Meyer was taken ill, or at least attacked by weakness; he fainted right down in the yard, looking for the rest of the day ghastly pale, but recovered sufficiently to enable us to continue our journey, though rather slowly that same morning.

I really do not know how we should have got on during the next day, for it proved all we could do as it was to proceed a few miles with our sick man - and he became worse during the night - had it not been for a horse and cart - which overtook us that night at our camping-place - belonging to two of our countrymen, who offered to take the sick man in their cart as far as they went, nearly to the little town of Vernon, on the Sacramento River. Next morning we helped him on board, and were able then to travel as fast as we pleased along the high and dry beaten path of the river bank. That night the cayotas favored us with a perfect serenade; they howled round our camp in a most doleful manner, sometimes within a stone's throw somewhere in the bushes, and their screaming and yelling during a part of the night rendered it impossible to do more than shut our eyes. The little things are not dangerous, and will never attack a man even when collected in large bodies.

The land down here was a perfect plain, with timber only on the edge of the river, forming a small wooded bottom crossed by many sloughs; a great part of this plain was now, after the heavy rains, under water, though I do not doubt that some well-dug ditches would easily drain it off; but here and there the thickly-growing toolas, a kind of thick, fleshy rush, showed real swamps and as most of these had been burnt off during the summer, it gave the country a really doleful and black aspect. The sloughs we had to cross were fortunately not deep, for we had dry weather at least the last two days, and these sloughs fall just as fast as they rise.

About dinner time we reached Vernon, the older Meyer also growing ill, or at least so weak, that he could not walk any longer. Very probably the sight of a whale-boat, just about to start from here for Sacramento, did much to make him think so, but it being at the same time desirable to have somebody with our sick sailor, we took passage for the two - with nearly the last money we had - the passage being five dollars for each of them, a distance they could run down with the current in about three or four hours.

That night we camped for the first time again on the Sacramento River and next day, Monday, the 26th of November, reached Sacramento City, where we found our sick man taken to a boarding-house, stretched out on his blanket at least under the dry roof of a tent.

And here we were, after a winter's excursion into the mines, not washers but washed, as that old American had prophesied only too truly; but we were not in a mood to be sorry about any thing, we had got back in safety and if we had no money, here we were in a place where we could get plenty of work, as we thought. We could sleep at least dry, the clouds threatening another shower for to-night, and even this we considered a perfect luxury; and a luxury it really was, for our clothes had, in fact, had no time, during the last four weeks, to dry thoroughly on our bodies; and such a life would certainly be sufficient to shake the strongest constitution, besides being as unpleasant as any one could desire.



Chapter Three

Sacramento City

But what a difference there was between the Sacramento four weeks before and now. When we came here before the rainy. season, how busy, how lively the streets were - five or six schooners at one time discharging cargo on' the banks; wagons pressing around it to get their loads and start for the mines. People in the streets even ran sometimes at-full speed, not to lose their, valuable time; merchants meeting at the' corners exchanged. a> few hurried words, and on they went: again to attend to their business. Where a man showed himself idling, he was sure of having twenty inquiries, one after the other, "If he did not want{ work, and what he could do?" There was even a premium paid to those who would get good workmen for the different schooners or other places of business. Each man you spoke with had his own plans, and generally wanted hands to help him in accomplishing them. .,

On the landing, there were as many-schooners as at that time, it is true, but every thing seemed dead on board, and if you saw a figure moving upon them, it was the cook who sat leisurely upon some empty casks, smoking his pipe, or the captain himself, who, once in a while, stuck his head out of the cabin to-take a look at the clouds, and pulled it back again with a low muttered curse. No wagon, no cart was to be seen on the landing and those few men who were idling up and down there, seemed. really at a loss what to do with themselves during the whole long day. Whenever a new vessel came up from San Francisco, an accident that occurred perhaps twice a week now, ten or twenty, men hurried on board her, hardly waiting till the planks had been shoved out; but they returned without work, the master having been obliged to promise his passengers the job.

There were enough auctions even yet, but goods fetched no prices. I stopped that afternoon before a tent, where a Yankee was selling a quantity of rifles and pistols by auction, and was astonished at hearing the sums he all but gave them away for. Small pistols were sold for a dollar and a half the pair, and good-looking American rifles, that had cost eight or ten dollars at least in New York, for three and four. In fact, things had altered in a most extraordinary manner, for an immense number of workmen seemed to have been thrown, by the rainy season, back upon the towns, and every body, wherever we inquired, told us the same tale - it was nearly an impossibility now to get any work at all in the place.

Although provisions were a great deal cheaper here than in the mines, they held, notwithstanding, a very good price; and in the boarding-house they asked three dollars and a half a day for boarding and lodging - calling lodging the cover of the roof, for you had to sleep upon the floor in your own blankets. A single meal was one dollar and a quarter. For us to live at such a rate, without being able to get employment, was entirely out of the question: our sick man had to be placed in comfortable lodgings, as far as they could be got up here; and though it was possible to pay such a sum for one man, we could never have managed it for more.

The two brothers Meyer, however, determined on going down to San Francisco with the first steamer, where they had money and friends to pay their passage afterward; while Huhne and myself gave our sick man in charge of the hostess, a little kindhearted Pennsylvanian woman, and leaving all our things in the tent as a kind of security, we shouldered our blankets to look for work of some sort or another. After having tried in vain for this purpose nearly every house in Sacramento, we went four miles farther down the river to Suttersville, but without any better success; and hearing that an old Dutchman lived on the other side of the Sacramento, an old settler and owner of an immense tract of country, we determined on going and seeing him, as we were told he had a good many wood-cutters in his employ.

Mr. Swartz, as the Americans called him, was fortunately at home: and from the description of all his possessions in land and cattle I had heard in Sacramento, I had thought him an immensely rich gentleman. The reader may judge, therefore, of out astonishment when we reached the spot, and found, instead of a comfortable building - house and garden, and farm-yard, as I had most certainly expected - a low dirty hovel, and Mr. Swartz himself suiting the place exactly, and sitting, a great deal farther than three sheets in the wind, before a couple of bottles of most abominable gin. But he was a character, and on hearing him talk, I really did not know at first, and in fact could not guess, what language he spoke, though I understood the sense of what he said; and it was not till after about half an hour's conversation, and when the ear had got accustomed to the strange sounds and words, that I found he was talking a most wonderful mixture of his own, composed of Dutch, English, and German, and a vague suspicion arose at the same time in my mind that some Indian words slipped in between the rest - Huhne, in fact, thought he was speaking Indian entirely. As it seemed, he had formed this dialect for his own accommodation, for continually having around him representatives of these different nations, it would have been a perfect torment to talk to them in all their different tongues. In this mixture, however, each of them could find words enough of his own language to serve him, and those who lived with him proved, through their understanding this composition, that his practical invention had acquired his language, which in the end came to the same thing.

That evening an Englishman came to see Mr. Swartz on some business, and I had a fair chance of hearing the old Dutchman (but he belonged to the lowest class of that nation) in the full flow of his eloquence, and admiring his philology. When he commenced playing upon the stranger that part of his lingo which had the most English words in it, the latter started and looked at him, then after listening a little while with really painful attention, he seemed to understand a part of what was said to him, and answered accordingly; but finding at last it would not do, he asked Mr. Swartz to talk English with him, "he didn't understand Dutch enough, though some words really sounded very much like English."

Mr. Swartz, without being the least disconcerted, and having expended all the English upon him he could muster, commenced now in what he himself called his own language. For a few minutes the conversation was maintained in this, but it seemed worse than ever for the poor Englishman, who sat there with his mouth open and staring at the speaker, gave it up at last in despair, and begged Mr. Swartz, with an apology, to speak Dutch again, a he had done before, as he could understand that a "leetle' better than the English.

But in spite of Mr. Swartz's originality, he had no work for us, having, as he told us next morning - for that night he seemed more inclined to drink than talk - already a very large quantity of wood stacked up on his lands, awaiting the boats to take it down to San Francisco - if that sold well he would have no objection to cut some more, but not before.

What to do now we did not know, but going back to Sacramento, and grumbling about the miserable state of business at present, we heard of some wood-cutters in the bottom-lands, between Suttersville and Sacramento city, and leaving the road to see what work those men did, and how they got paid for it, we followed a small path leading through the timber, and soon found ourselves in the very midst of the wood-choppers, who were felling trees on all sides, managing things as it seemed, upon their own hands, and setting up cordwood on their own hook, as they said.

As we soon learned, all these men were cutting trees down on Uncle Sam's territory, not caring a straw who might claim the ground, or the trees upon it, though a great many did. Oakwood was worth at this time about fifteen dollars a cord in Sacramento city; carriage was eight dollars the cord, for a distance of hardly two miles on a perfect level road, so there was about seven dollars left for the wood itself, certainly a very fair price, for a good workman could set up a cord very easily in a day. On inquiring, we learnt from the wood-cutters themselves that wood was a very good article at present, there being not the least danger in the world of our not selling the cord for cash, if we only first set it up, as we were sure of getting seven dollars; but even if we did not wish to run the risk, we could get five dollars and a half from some of the wood-cutters themselves here.

There was a chance; bidding good-by to the friendly fellows who had given us such good advice, we hastened toward town, to commence our work as soon as possible, not to get too much in debt with our sick man, and even found, before we left the bottom, an Englishman, who had some hands employed in woodcutting, and wanted us to set up for him three cords, seven dollars a cord; he even offered to lend us an ax at first starting. In town I took my gun into an iron ware-room, and left it there as security for another ax with a handle, the handle alone costing two dollars, the ax two and a half, and at it we went in good earnest.

The first days we got on very slowly. Huhne, never having handled an ax in his life, had to learn first how to use it to the best advantage and without danger to himself, for an ax is an awkward and dangerous tool for a raw hand to handle; but on the third day we had set up a cord and a half between us, and commenced earning money instead of getting deeper into debt every day.

But who were the real owners of this soil and wood? Nobody knew, in fact, nobody cared, at least, among the wood-cutters themselves, though there were in Sacramento city several Americans who claimed a right to the soil, and even stuck up printed bills on the trees, all over the bottom, warning the wood-cutters, and assuring them of heavy fines if they persevered in their unlawful deeds. The wood-cutters did not molest these bills, but cut down the trees on which they were pasted, and fastened them in derision upon their own cords.

I do not know how it was with the land at that time, and in fact very few men did; but I have not the least doubt it had been taken up by somebody, and probably every thing done to secure him in after-time the ownership, when things commenced becoming a little better regulated; but as it was now, nobody knew who was master or who servant, and squatters commenced knocking up small cabins or shantees every where, and claiming the nearest hundred and sixty acres by the American right of pre-emption.

At the same time, a meeting was held in Sacramento - squatter's meeting, as they called it - against the unlawful, unnatural claims of landowners. Large bills were posted all over town, and on the appointed evening an immense log-fire was kindled on the bank of the Sacramento, just opposite the City Hotel, where a kind of scaffold was also erected for the speakers, with a large American flag waving over it.

I was of course present, warming my back among the multitude against the immense fire, and listening, at the same time, to the unripe, unpractical speeches of mere boys, who got up and spoke for hours of things they knew nothing about. The mob, for I really do not know any other name for it, had neither law nor reason on its side in claiming pieces of ground which had a rightful owner even before they ever thought of going to California, for they denied Sutter himself the right of possessing property in Sacramento city, while they claimed it for themselves; but the truth was, they wanted a property, a piece of ground here of their own, which they did not like stealing openly, and in order to have now a so-called just cause for the deed, they brought forward the old nonsense of the common American stump-speeches, as you can hear in the States at election-time fifty times a day. Boys, whose beards had never seen the first razor, climbed up upon the speaker's bench, the third word they uttered being the "glorious flag," and the fourth sentence "the blood their forefathers had shed to maintain their rights," repeating over and over again old stories nobody thought of denying or contradicting, and a party of loafers standing at a distance round the fire, only near enough to hear the loudly-screamed watch word, would then break out in halloos and hurrahs that frequently lasted five minutes.

The glorious flag received that night at least thirty times three, and even three times three more cheers, and hip, hip, hip, hurrahs, just according to circumstances, and the speakers took the greatest pains imaginable to prove the honor of the flag under which they sought to hide their own illegal actions.

Finally, they came to a resolution that the rights and claims of the so-called landowners - viz., Sutter and others, who had thought up to that time they were really proprietors, were null and void, and each citizen of the United States could squat down now on any piece of ground he saw fit, and claim his quarter-section, as a commencement.

To meet such unjust demands with the same weapons, the landowners also held a meeting in one of the hotels; but the squatters - that is, all the loafers from the neighborhood - in order to prove, I fancy, that they were also free and independent citizens, forced an entrance, and broke up the meeting by howling and hissing. But every nation has its fair share of scoundrels.

Next evening there was another squatter-meeting; and nearly every night there was some tumult or noise in the street. At the same time, Captain Sutter had a bill posted in Sacramento, by his agents, Brannan and Co., warning all the squatters against building huts and tents between two certain streets in Sacramento city, as Captain Sutter himself, the first squatter, had claimed that soil as his one hundred and sixty acres, and every body who continued there in spite of the warning, would have to pay a very heavy rent.

Things went on in this way for a good while, till after I left Sacramento City, when one day the independent squatters became rather too independent, and shooting the sheriff -who was sent out to restore order - down from his horse, the citizens themselves rose up against them, and scattered them over the country.

Only the wood-cutters profitted by this unsettled state of landed property, for nobody troubled them - in fact, nobody was certain about the boundaries of particular claims, or about the claims themselves; and even those who pretended to own the land, bought their wood from the wood-cutters, or sent some hands out themselves to cut down whatever they needed, and wherever they could get it.

But while we were working here, out in the woods, we wanted some kind of shelter; the last night had been clear, but clouds were again rising in the west, and we therefore determined on building a kind of ground-hole or hut, with every comfort bush and earth could offer. Digging accordingly into the slope of the bank, to get a backwall and a fire-place, we set up a quantity of poles, about ten feet long, with their ends together, all resting in the middle upon a centre pole or rafter, supported by two large forks, in the shape of a tent, and covering the whole first with a thick layer of bushes, and afterward, Indian fashion, with hard-beaten ground, we soon had our winter residence in order. Before the entrance we hung up an old oil-cloth of mine, and the fire-place being finished off with an old flour-barrel, with both ends knocked out, and a piece of plank fastened as a mantle-piece over the fire, we lay that night, while the rain poured down, as dry as if we had the best tile roof over us. It is true the hut we had raised was poor enough, and damp, and dirty: in Germany I would have thought twice about even letting my Newfoundland dog sleep in it; but here it was a palace, after what we had suffered during the last four weeks; and a bottle of champagne in the grandest party of the old world never tasted as good to me, or was imbibed with so much relish, as the whisky-toddy Huhne and I drank that evening in celebration of our entrance into that low and damp hovel.

Our sick sailor boy had improved a little by rest and good living, but not enough to be out of danger, and I wanted to speak to a doctor about him. There was one of our countrymen at the time in Sacramento city - a Dr. Tumler, just arrived from Germany - and our little apothecary went to see him on behalf of the sick man. Dr. Tumler though wanted a house built, and after examining the patient, he told him he had the scurvy, and must have a bottle of his medicine, price four dollars; without that, he would go to the grave, and there was no help for him; but, as he was poor, he would give him the medicine gratis, if he would stay with him, and help him to build his house.

And this mean fellow, who asked a man who really died hardly eleven days afterward, to work for him, and receive in payment a bottle of his quack medicine, called himself a German doctor. I would not have begrudged him the "Doctor," but I really felt ashamed of his being a German.

At this same time, the landlord of the boarding-house - also a German -declared he would not keep the sick man in his tent, because he drove away his healthy customers, who were much more profitable to him, for of course the invalid was not allowed to drink spirituous liquors, except a glass of wine sometimes; but that was not all: no other boarding-house in town would receive him, though I went from house to house, boarding being, in fact, the same price with all of them - three dollars and a half a day. The proprietors of one of the gambling-houses at last offered to give him a place in their loft; but there was a continual noise of a couple of trumpets, horns, and drums, kept up in it from ten o'clock in the morning till sometimes twelve and one o'clock at night, and no healthy man could have stood it, much less a sick one. At last, some Germans, who had come over with him in the same vessel, offered him a place in their tent, where he had at least a shelter, while he could get from the boarding-house close by what food he needed.

These three Germans were musicians, and they had made an agreement with a proprietor of one of the gambling-houses to play there in the morning two or three, and in the evening four hours; one of them played the flute exceedingly well, the other two accompanied him on the guitar. How they executed their pieces seemed, in fact, all the same, as the Americans said themselves they only wanted a noise; and as these hells in some streets stood house by house, or rather tent by tent, the reader may judge what a deafening mass of sounds continually floated through the air.

By Monday, the 10th of December, Huhne and I had paid all our own and the sick man's debts; and knowing him to be in good hands for at least the next one or two weeks, I determined on going down to San Francisco, and accepting the friendly invitation of some fellow-passengers, the Messrs. von Witzleben, who had established a brewery on the Mission Dolores, about three miles distant from San Francisco. At the same time, I could find a place for our sailor, who would get well, I had not the least doubt, as soon as he could obtain good medicine and the necessary accommodations. But he needed none of them long, for I had hardly left Sacramento city when he died. Poor fellow! how were the dreams now realized with which he had come to this golden land? A small cold grave was dug for him, and far away from his home and friends he sleeps in the ground it had been his ambition to reach.