A dozen men, provided with rockers, were busily engaged in gathering and washing dirt, mingled with gold-dust, on the banks of a small stream in California. It was in the early days, and this party was but one of hundreds who were scattered over the new Eldorado, seeking for the shining metal which throughout the civilized world exercises a sway potent and irresistible.
I have said there were a dozen men, but this is a mistake. One of the party was a well-grown boy of sixteen, with a good-humored and even handsome face. He was something more than good-humored, however. There was an expression on his face which spoke of strength and resolution and patient endurance. The readers of "The Young Adventurer" will at once recognize in our young hero Tom Nelson, the oldest son of a poor New England farmer, who, finding no prospects at home, had joined the tide of emigrants pouring from all parts of the country to the land of which so many marvelous stories were told. Tom had come to work; and though he doubtless shared to some extent the extravagant anticipations of the great body of Eastern visitors who hoped to make a fortune in a year, he did not expect to succeed without hard toil.