To our unbounded surprise, we found, on our return from the American Valley, that nearly all the fluming companies had failed. Contrary to every expectation, on arriving at the bed-rock no gold made its appearance. But a short history of the rise, progress, and final fate of one of these associations, given me in writing by its own secretary, conveys a pretty correct idea of the result of the majority of the remainder.
"The thirteen men, of which the American Fluming Company consisted, commenced getting out timber in February. On the 5th of July they began to lay the flume. A thousand dollars were paid for lumber which they were compelled to buy. They built a dam six feet high and three hundred feet in length, upon which thirty men labored nine days and a half. The cost of said dam was estimated at two thousand dollars. This company left off working on the twenty-fourth day of September, having taken out, in all
, gold-dust to the amount of forty-one dollars and seventy cents! Their lumber and tools, sold at auction, brought about two hundred dollars."
A very small amount of arithmetical knowledge will enable one to figure up what the American Fluming Company made by their
summer's work. This result was by no means a singular one. Nearly every person on the river received the same stepmother's treatment from Dame Nature in this her mountain workshop.
Of course the whole world (our
world) was, to use a phrase much in vogue here, "dead broke." The shopkeepers, restaurants, and gambling-houses, with an amiable confidingness peculiar to such people, had trusted the miners to that degree that they themselves were in the same moneyless condition. Such a batch of woeful faces was never seen before, not the least elongated of which was F.'s, to whom nearly all the companies owed large sums.
Of course with the failure of the golden harvest Othello's occupation was gone. The mass of the unfortunates laid down the shovel and the hoe, and left the river in crowds. It is said that there are not twenty men remaining on Indian Bar, although two months ago you could count them up by hundreds.