WHEN Lyman Taylor left his uncle and returned to the city, he felt that
his visit had been a failure. His traveling expenses had amounted to
about two dollars, and he only carried back five dollars with him. Added
to this, his prospects of remunerative employment were by no means
brilliant. To work, indeed, he was an enemy, and always had been.
“Blessed if I know how I’m coming out,” he said to himself, ruefully;
“if Uncle Anthony had showed any enterprise, he ought to be well off,
and able to lend me a helping hand. Instead of which he is settled down
in a tumble-down shanty in the woods, and isn’t doing any good to
Lyman resented it as a wrong done to himself that his uncle was not in a
condition to help him.
If he were only living in the city now, he might quarter himself upon
him. As matters stood, it was out of the question. It made him shudder
to think of becoming a joint tenant of the lonely cabin, with nothing to
look to but the homely fare, which no doubt contented his uncle.
“I shall have to shift for myself,” he reflected with a sigh; “I always
was unlucky. Other fellows are born with a silver spoon in their mouths,
and have rich fathers or uncles to provide for them, while I may go to
the poorhouse for all the help I am likely to get from Uncle Anthony.”
Arrived in New York, however, his prospects rose a little. He met an old
acquaintance on the Bowery, and turned into a billiard saloon, where he
succeeded in a series of games in raising his small capital to ten
This gave him a hint of a new way to make a living—a way, as he
considered, infinitely preferable to a life of toil. Henceforth he
frequented billiard saloons, and occasionally varied his pleasant labors
by a game of cards. In spite, however, of his praiseworthy efforts to
make an honest livelihood, there came a time when he was reduced to his
last quarter of a dollar.
He was sitting moodily in a cheap downtown hotel, when he was addressed
by a bearded man dressed in rough miner’s costume, a type of man more
frequently met in California or Colorado, than in an Atlantic city.
“Have a cigar, stranger?” asked the bearded man socially.
“Thank you; I don’t care if I do,” said Lyman with alacrity.
“I’m a stranger in York,” said the other, “only arrived yesterday.
You’ve got a right smart city here; beats ‘Frisco higher’n a kite!”
“Do you come from San Francisco?” asked Lyman with interest.
“I’m from Californy—was up in the mines mostly.”
“Did you have much luck?”
“Wal, I made two or three piles, an’ lost ’em agin. However, I’ve got a
little left. I’ve always wanted to see York, and thought I might as well
come on and see it before I lost the last.”
“I’m glad to meet you,” said Lyman, who was speculating as to whether he
couldn’t make a little something out of his new friend, before his
“pile” was wholly reduced in size. “I’m an old Californian myself.”
“You don’t say so? when was you there?”
Lyman mentioned the time, and the country where he had courted fortune.
“You don’t say, stranger?” returned the miner. “Why, I was at that
identical place myself. I bought a mine—leastways me and my partner
did—of an old man, named Taylor.”
“Anthony Taylor?” asked Lyman, eagerly.
“That was the old fellow’s name. Did you know him, stranger?”
“I should say I did. He is my uncle. Did you—pay much for the claim?”
“We paid five thousand dollars cash down.”
Lyman Taylor whistled in amazement.
“Was it worth it?” he added.
“We took out ten thousand dollars, and I heerd that the old man took out
as much before selling it to us.”
“What month did you buy it?” asked Lyman, breathless.
“Let me see, it was in September. You seem to be interested, stranger?”
“I should say I was. That claim was half mine, and my uncle never gave
me a cent of the purchase money.”
“Where were you all the time?”
“I left in disgust, for we’d worked a long time without making it pay.”
“You left too soon. The old man struck it rich some time early in
August, and carried away ten thousand dollars, besides what we gave him.
We didn’t make so much of a spec, for too much had been taken out
already. Where is your uncle now?”
“Living in the country. I went up to see him two or three weeks since.”
“How’s he fixed? Did he hang on to his pile?”
“He’s hanging on to it now,” answered Lyman, with an oath. “He made out
he was poor, and sent me off with a beggarly five-dollar note.”
“Perhaps he’s lost his money.”
“More likely he’s keeping it out of the way. He ought to give me half he
made out of the claim.”
“I don’t know about that, stranger. You gave up and left, and all he
made afterwards, went of right to him.”
Lyman Taylor, however, did not regard the matter in that light.
Discreetly losing sight of the circumstances under which he left his
uncle, carrying off all the gold dust he had then accumulated, he
persuaded himself that he had suffered a great wrong in not having
shared in the subsequent rich development.
“Just my luck!” he said to himself, moodily.
“If I’d only waited a couple of months I’d have left California a rich
man. How was I to guess how the claim was going to pan out. I didn’t
think Uncle Anthony would have treated me so meanly. I wonder how much
he’s got left?”
This was an interesting subject of consideration, but unfortunately,
Lyman had no data to go upon; or, rather, what data he had, were not
calculated to favor the presumption that his uncle was a rich man.
It did not look very likely that a rich man, or even one moderately
well-to-do, would voluntarily make his home in a poor cabin, like that
which old Anthony occupied.
Lyman began to fear that his uncle had managed to lose by bad
investments the money he had obtained from the claims, and was really as
poor as appearances would seem to indicate.
“Are you livin’ in this hotel?” asked the miner.
“I’m not living anywhere in particular,” answered Lyman. “Fact is, I’m
rather down on my luck. There are no ‘piles’ to be made in New York.”
“I’ve been there myself, stranger. Here, take this, and pay it back when
Lyman eagerly accepted the twenty-dollar gold piece offered him by his
liberal new acquaintance, and leading the way to the bar, they cemented
their new-born friendship by a drink in true California style. He then
proposed a game of cards, but the miner declined.
“I never cared much for keerds,” he said. “Excuse me! I don’t mind
playing a game of pool if you’re agreeable.”
When the two parted, they were sworn friends. Lyman, however, found that
his miner friend had all his wits about him, and that the twenty dollar
loan was all he was likely to extract from him.
“I must make another visit to that uncle of mine,” said Lyman to
himself, as he sauntered down the Bowery. “He ought to pay me half the
money he got for that claim.”