Read CHAPTER VII - THE EMINENT BUTTINSKY of Silver and Gold A Story of Luck and Love in a Western Mining Camp , free online book, by Dane Coolidge, on

That there was no love lost between Bunker Hill and Professor Diffenderfer was evident by their curt greetings, but as they began to bandy words Denver became suddenly aware that he was the cause of their feud. He and his eight hundred dollars, a sum so small that a shoestring promoter would hardly notice it; and yet these two men with their superfluity of claims were fighting for his favor like pawn-brokers. Bunker Hill had seen him first and claimed him as his right; but Professor Diffenderfer, ignoring the ethics of the game, was out to make a sale anyway. He carried in one hand a large sack of specimens, and under his arm were some weighty tomes which turned out to be Government reports. He came up slowly, panting and sweating in the heat, and when he stepped in Bunk was waiting for him.

“O-ho,” he said, “here comes the Professor. The only German count that ever gave up his title to become an American barber. Well, Professor, you’re just the man I’m looking for I want to ask your professional opinion. If two white-bellied mice ran down the same hole would the one with the shortest tail get down first?”

The Professor staggered in and sat down heavily while he wiped the sweat from his eyes.

“Mr. Russell,” he began, ignoring the grinning Bunker, “I vant to expound to you the cheology of dis country I haf made it a lifelong study.”

“Yes, you want to get this,” put in Bunker sotto voce, “he knows every big word in them books.”

“I claim,” went on the Professor, slapping the books together vehemently, “I claim dat in dis district we haf every indication of a gigantic deposit of copper. The morphological conditions, such as we see about us everywhere, are distinctly favorable to metalliferous deposition; and the genetic influences which haf taken place later ”

“Well, he’s off,” sighed Bunker rising wearily up and ambling over towards the door, “so long, Big Boy, I’ll see you to-morrow. Never could understand broken English.”

“Dat’s all righd!” spat back the Professor with spiteful emphasis, “I’m addressing my remarks to dis chentleman!”

“Ah so!” mimicked Bunker. “Vell, shoodt id indo him! And say, tell him about that tunnel! Tell him how you went in until the air got bad and came out up the hill like a gopher. Took a double circumbendibus and, after describing a parabola ”

“Dat’s all righd!” repeated the Professor, “now you think you’re so smart I’m going to prove you a liar! I heard you the other day tell dis young man here dat dere vas no golt in dis district. Vell! All righd! We vill see now joost look! Vat you call dat now, my goot young friend?” He dumped out the contents of his canvas ore-sack and nodded to Denver triumphantly. “I suppose dat aindt golt, eh! Maybe I try to take advantage of you and show you what dey call fools gold what mineralogists call pyrites of iron? No? It aindt dat? Vell, let me ask you vun question den am I righd or am I wrong?”

“You’re right, old man,” returned Denver eagerly as he held a specimen to the light; and when he looked up Bunker Hill was gone.

“You see?” leered the Professor jerking his thumb towards the door, “dot man vas trying to do you. He don’t like to haf me show you dis golt. He vants you to believe dat here is only silver; but I am a cheologist I know!”

“Yes, this is gold,” admitted Denver, wetting the thin strip of quartz, “but it don’t look like much of a vein. Whereabouts did you get these specimens?”

“From a claim dat I haf, not a mile south of here,” burst out the Professor in great excitement; and while Denver listened in stunned amazement he went into an involved and sadly garbled exposition of the geological history of the district.

“Yes, sure,” broke in Denver when he came to a pause, “I’ll take your word for all that. What I want to know is where this claim is located. If its inside the shadow of Apache Leap, I’ll go down and take a look at it; but ”

“But vat has the shadow of the mountain to do with it?” inquired the Professor with ponderous dignity. “The formation, as I vas telling you, is highly favorable to an extensive auriferous deposit ”

“Aw, can the big words,” broke in Denver impatiently, “I don’t give a dang for geology. What I’m looking for is a mine, in the shadow of that big cliff, and ”

“Ah, ah! Yes, I see!” exclaimed the Professor delightedly, “it must conform to the vords of the prophecy! Yes, my mine is in the shadow of Apache Leap, where the Indians yumped over and were killed.”

“Well, I’ll look at it,” responded Denver coldly, “but who told you about that prophecy? It kinder looks to me as if ”

“Oh, vell,” apologized the Professor, “I vas joost going by and I couldn’t help but listen. Because dis Bunker Hill, he is alvays spreading talk dat I am not a cheologist. But him, now; him! Do you know who he is? He is nothing but an ignorant cowman. Ven dis mine vas closed down I vas for some years the care-taker, vat you call the custodian of the plant; and dis Bunker Hill, ven I happened to go avay, he come and take the job. I am a consulting cheologist and my services are very valuable, but he took the job for fifty dollars a month and came here to run his cattle. For eight or ten years he lived right in dat house and took all dat money for nothing; and den, when the Company can’t pay him no more, he takes over the property on a lien. Dat fine, valuable mine, one of the richest in the vorld, and vot you think he done with it? He and Mike McGraw, dat hauls up his freight, dey tore it all down for junk! All dat fine machinery, all dem copper plates, all the vater-pipe, the vindows and doors they tore down everything and hauled it down to Moroni, vere they sold it for nothing to Murray!

“Do you know vot I would do if I owned dat mine?” demanded the Professor with rising wrath. “I vould organize a company and pump oudt the vater and make myself a millionaire. But dis Bunker Hill, he’s a big bag of vind all he does is to sit around and talk! A t’ousand times I haf told him repeatedly dat dere are millions of dollars in dat mine, and a t’ousand times he tells me I am crazy. For fifteen years I haf begged him for the privilege to go into pardners on dat mine. I haf written reports, describing the cheology of dis district, for the highest mining journals in the country; I haf tried to interest outside capital; and den, for my pay, when some chentleman comes to camp, he tells him dat I am a barber!”

The Professor paused and swallowed fiercely, and as Denver broke into a grin the old man choked with fury.

“Do you know what dat man has been?” he demanded, shaking a trembling finger towards Bunker’s house, “he has been everything but an honest man a faro-dealer, a crook, a gambler! He vas nothing a bum when his vife heard about him and come here from Boston to marry him! Dey vas boy-und-girl sveetheart, you know. And righdt avay he took her money and put it into cows, and the drought come along and killed them; and now he has nothing, not so much as I haf, and an expensive daughter besides!”

He paused and wagged his head and indulged in a senile grin.

Und pretty, too vat? The boys are all crazy, but she von’t have a thing to do with them. She von’t come outdoors when the cowboys ride by and stop to buy grub at the store. No, she’s too good to talk to old mens like me, and with cowboys what get forty a month; but she spends all her time playing tunes on the piano and singing scales avay up in G. You vait, pretty soon you hear her begin dat scale-singing drives me madt!”

“Oh, sings scales, eh?” said Denver suddenly beginning to take an interest, “must be studying to become a singer.”

“Dat’s it,” nodded the old man shaking his finger solemnly, “her mother vas a singer before her. But after they have spent all their money to educate her the teacher says she lacks the temperament. She can never sing, he says, because she is too dumf; too what you call it un-feeling. She lacks the fire of the vonderful Gadski she has not the g-great heart of Schumann-Heink. She is an American, you see, and dat is the end of it, so all their money is spent.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” defended Denver warmly, “what’s the matter with Nordica, and Mary Garden and Farrar? They’re Americans, all right, and I’ve got some of their records that simply can’t be beat! You wait till I get out my instrument.”

He broke open a box in which was packed with many wrappings a polished and expensive phonograph, but as he was clearing a space on a rickety old table the Professor broke into a cackle.

“Dere! Dere!” he cried, “don’t you hear her now? ’Ah, ah, ah, oo, oo, oo, oo!’ Vell, dat’s what we get from morning till night by golly, it makes me sick!”

“Aw, that’s all right,” said Denver after listening critically, “she’s just getting ready to sing.”

“Getting ready!” sneered the Professor, “don’t you fool yourself dere she’ll keep dat going for hours. And in the morning she puts on just one thin white dress and dances barefoot in the garden. I come by dere one time and looked over the vall and, psst, listen, she don’t vare no corsets! She ought to be ashamed.”

“Well, what about you, you danged old stiff?” inquired Denver with ill-concealed scorn. “If Old Bunk had seen you he’d have killed you.”

“Ah him?” scoffed the Professor, “no, he von’t hurt nobody. Lemme tell you something now dis is a fact. When he married his vife and she’s an awful fine lady all she asked vas dat he’d stop his tammed fighting. You see? I know everyt’ing every little t’ing I been around dis place too long. She came right out here from the East and offered to marry him, but he had to give up his fighting. He was a bad man you see? He was quick with a gun, and she was afraid he’d go out and get killed. So I laugh at him now and he goes avay and leaves me but he von’t let me talk with his vife. She’s an awful nice woman but ”

“Danged right she is!” put in Denver with sudden warmth and after a rapid questioning glance the Professor closed his mouth.

“Vell, I guess I’ll be going,” he said at last and Denver did not urge him to stay.