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A tale of the gold rush in the Klondike.
Swede helped me cut the logs for the front of my cabin. Once it was done, I was quite pleased with my new home. I had noticed the some of the leaves on the trees beginning to change color, and the days were noticeably shorter than when we had first arrived.
One frosty morning, Swede appeared at sun-up with the burros in tow. "It's time we went to Dawson to pick up our winter supplies."
I was nervous at leaving our claim unguarded. "Do you think it's wise that both of us go? Don't you think one of us should stick around?"
He shook his grizzled head. "Nah. We ain't seen hide nor hair of another soul since we been here."
He filled his pipe with tobacco and lit it and puffed on it for a bit. "Don't go taking all of you gold to town with you. We don't want anyone to know how much we found up here. Just take a pouch or two, enough for supplies and maybe a night out on the town. Hide the rest here." He paused for moment and I think he saw the distrust in my eyes. "I buried mine under my stove."
I felt ashamed that I had mistrusted him. With his help, I found a spot in my cabin where I placed most of my gold. Once satisfied that it hidden from all but the most ambitious of thieves, we headed into Dawson.
Dawson was a beehive of activity. Odd how a man forgets what civilization is like when he is out in the wilds for an extended period of time. Our first stop was to purchase our supplies. I had to hand it to Swede, he knew what we needed, and was a shrewd bargainer. We paid the store owner and received a receipt for what we had purchased.
We dropped our burros off at the livery stable. The proprietor was a fellow countryman of Swede's, so they got on like long lost relatives. Swede made arrangements for the liveryman's son to accompany us back to the creeks so he could bring the burros back to town for the winter.
Swede looked at me and announced. "I need a bath. It's been a good six months, and I think it's about time."
They charged by the hour at the bath house, and it was worth every penny we paid to sit in the big copper tubs and soak up the hot water. I had forgotten what it was like to feel clean. I felt like a new man after I had my hair cut and beard trimmed. We strutted down the wooden boardwalks of the boomtown feeling like a million dollars in our new clothes.
We ate a large steak dinner with all of the trimmings. I had lived on biscuits, beans and tinned beef for so long I had almost forgotten what real food tasted like. From there we hit the saloons and drank whiskey like it was water. From one saloon to the next, it was the same wherever we went.
Smoke filled whiskey dens filled with fellow miners, just in from the creeks. There were women willing to give them thirty minutes of love for some coin or dust. Like the sirens song of yore, the sound of the piano beckoned to all that passed.
Games of chance, a few were on the level, but most were fixed in one way or another. It was free drinks for the gamblers, well, that is until their pokes dried up, and then it was the bum's rush out onto the street with them. Nothing stopped in Dawson, the town ran non-stop, fueled by the vice called gold.
We went on a three day drunk that only stopped when our gold finally ran out. I woke up feeling haggard and worn. My stomach felt like it was on fire, and my head pounded with an ache that I had never known the likes of before.
Bleary eyed, we stumbled to the livery stable and collected our burros and picked up the supplies we had purchased. The fresh air helped clear my head as headed back out to the creek.
"You see why I told ya to leave most of your gold at the cabin," Swede commented after we had been on the trail for a couple of hours. "If we would have taken it all." He pointed back towards Dawson. "We would still be there, and we wouldn't have left until we had drunk it all up, or worse."
I nodded my head in agreement.