“Past the far end of the Valoryvale, past Big Jacks’s cabin, past that ridge beyond his lake–to the west–I have a good feeling about that far west valley. I had a dream about it.”
Every gold hunter had a feeling about a far west valley. Men searched for it. Papa knew about the lost valley with its lake of gold. Everybody knew the story. He said it was a lie.
Late in 1849 a man named Tom Stoddard found a lake filled with gold but Indians chased him away. (But what would Indians really care about gold?) Spring of 1850, five hundred men went with Stoddard and couldn’t find the lake again. Dain King was one of the ‘Gold Lake men’. Was Gold Lake still out there in some hidden valley?
Half a dozen small lakes lay hidden in that high west valley. Was one of them Gold Lake? He reckoned he would find it–if it was out there.
Papa laughed. “You find it this afternoon, and we don’t have to do this anymore.”
There was a piercing steam whistle scream, “Eeee-eee! Yoo-hoo!” His eight-year-old sister, Annabel Rochele: the little Fifty-pounder, little Rocky, little Puzzle-puss, little Bee-bee, little Monkey-bump, dashing up to the pit.
“Come home now. It’s lunchtime now–then it’s you-know-what time!”
The sun rode at high noon. After his birthday party, he knew she would follow him into the high valley. What to do with a lovesick puppy? That’s why he had to find some gold today (a reasonable amount like a hat-full). Then get Annabel a good horse; then a nice house for Mama; then a sawmill for Papa. Then things would work out.
Father-son-daughter, walked hand in hand, three hundred yards back to the Valoryvale log cabin. What happened late that afternoon in the high west valley changed things forever. Gold Lake was a dream that turned into a nightmare.