Bread and Salt can be found in




ISFDB.org Magazine Entry



BREAD and SALT

BY EDWARD CROSSLAND SMITH

VINCENT came into the diningroom with such a calamitous expression on his full-moon face that one accustomed, as I was, to his habitual radiance could not ignore it. He sank into the chair opposite, and gave an order for soft boiled eggs and coffee.

"Is there a competent dentist in this place?" he inquired dejectedly.

I named one of good repute in the calling. "Toothache, I suppose?"

"Loose filling. I suppose I'll have to live on liquid diet now, until it's fixed. You see," he complained, as his ascetic breakfast was put before him, "I've been eating dry toast to keep down fat, and I'll have to cut that out until this tooth is fixed. You can't eat dry toast with a loose filling rattling around in your tooth like a roulette-ball when the wheel slows down."

I conceded the point, and reverted to the business in hand. "When we get out there to-day," I counselled, "don't just take Black's word for everything. Make some soundings for yourself."

Instantly his native optimism came to the front, and the clouds began to disappear. "You're soured, George," he returned lightly. "They haven't all had your luck. Besides, how on earth can they salt a placer mine? It's preposterous!"

"I don't know," I replied doggedly. "I don't know whether they can or whether they can't. All that I am laboring to get into your head is that you can't believe all Black says. Mind, I don't say that Black ever did salt a mine. But I do know that he sold a couple of bonanzas to Easterners like you and by some mysterious law of Nature they ceased to produce just about as soon as the purchase price was paid over."

Vincent nodded indulgently. "Quartz. Any fool can salt a quartz mine—shoot it in with a shotgun, mix it in the dump, squirt chloride of gold into the sample sack with a syringe—forty ways. That's easy. But now you talk to me about salting a placer—where you just shovel up the dirt and pan it out—acres and acres of it. I say it's out of the question."

Vincent had made his money in the East in commerce, and a man that can do that without help, as he had, is ordinarily able to take care of himself. On the other hand, this was Montana and gold mines, and, be adman's business ability what it may, any Easterner is a tenderfoot when it comes to mining. It was no fault of mine that he had fallen under Black's spell, though I did introduce Vincent in the club where Black got to him. But the man who has suffered himself from the mining fever—and I had— feels an o...

This is only a preview of this story. The site administrator is evaluating methods to bring it to you.