"Young fellas like you and me," Whitey likes to say, "they aint no limit to what we could do in times like these. Got a steady man in the White House who understands there are fortunes to be made if the government will just step out of the way and let us at em. The world," Whitey likes to say, "is our oyster."
The tent at the summit is gone.
The tent is gone and the goods, all of them, the picks and shovels and lamp oil and bacon and beans and flour and the mackinaw suit and mukluks and the thirty-five-dollar China dog coat he bought in Seattle gone with it, only the half-dozen empty whiskey bottles marking the spot where his cache had been. None of the men around, busy with their own tortured passage, have noticed a thing.
"You mind your stake, brother, and I'll mind mine," they tell him. His outfit is gone and no matter how quickly he slides to the bottom, he will find the rest of it gone too. He's been taken. Nobody pays attention to his cursing, nobody watches as he circles back again and again to the spot where the tent had been set up, kicking the bottles across the snow. There is gold in the country beyond the Pass and one stampeder less in the race can only be good news. Hod wanders the summit for an hour, howling, the other adventurers turning away from him, embarrassed to be on the same mountain with such an idiot greenhorn, before he remembers he is still strapped to the final load. He slips his tumpline and lets it all thud to the snow, glass in one of the lanterns breaking, and seeks the counsel of the North West Mounted Police.
Excerpted from A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles. Copyright © 2011 by John Sayles. Excerpted by permission of McSweeneys Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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