The Goldfinder Series: The Gold Hunter, Entry 2

Entry 2

“The lightning bolt is buried in these mountains. If you find it you gonna buy a castle? Get a dozen wives like a Mormon? Maybe you buy the moon?” He meant gold–the lightning bolt was Papa’s word for gold. Papa didn’t believe in gold, he believed in trees. Trees were his gold.

John Valory stood atop a Ponderosa pine log two feet in diameter. King of trees compared to the mere princely pines back east. He was pulling hard on the upstroke of ten feet of ripsaw steel until his muscles bulged, and then coasting while his son pulled the sharp blade back down. The log lay horizontally over a pit. Down in the hole his son was pulling hard on the down stroke, covered in golden sawdust, imagining the dust as showers of precious gold, the blood of kings and pharaohs. The son of John Valory had dreamed the great valleys of gold. He dreamed gold all the way from Pennsylvania to California. He imagined what his father had not imagined. He had a secret he didn’t tell anyone. He believed he would find a treasure-lode of gold.

Today he would find gold. Today he would become the hunter not of deer or birds, but of precious metal. Today the dream would come true. He would find his treasure right after they finished eating cake.

Today, June 12, 1852, was his birthday, the magic of seventeen. Petr John Valory (his Russian mother skipped the second ‘e’ in Petr to save ink) would get a few simple presents on this beautiful bright blue California Sunday. Then he would go hunting. What his father didn’t imagine was that he didn’t want to get presents, he wanted to give them.

Rumors of California gold ran wild. An ordinary man would make a fortune in a day. Rivers of solid gold lay hidden in mountain valleys and could be found and harvested with a pickaxe and a shovel. Indians could be relied on to trade frying pan sized chunks of gold for pretty scarf or a few dozen beads. These stories were for fools, he knew that. But a young man like himself could find a reasonable amount of gold in California, enough for his dream of giving.

He stopped sawing. He answered his father. “I’d build Mama a white house with blue shutters and I’d buy her a piano. I’d buy Annabel a good horse so she can ride around and stop pestering me.”

John stopped. “Yea?–and nothing for me?”

“After I build you a water-powered sawmill,” he looked at the tired face of the old Dane for a moment. “After that I bring a steam engine from San Francisco. Then you can pull levers and mind gauges all day while steam makes piles of lumber.”

John Valory laughed a good hearty laugh. “How soon can you find this goldmine?”

Papa had quit drinking on the way west, but he was worn thin from cutting boards for other men, for pennies. The old man wanted a lumber mill. Was that asking too much? California was for starting over. He knew it could happen. Petr would make it happen.

In the valley north was a mining camp called Gold Nation where a big man named Dain King was hauling buckets of gold out of the river. Buying every stick of lumber the Valory men could whip from the pit. Getting gold and was hungry for more. Building a long wooden trough called a flume to carry the river out of its bed so men could harvest its golden bottom. Dain King was dreaming big. Petr had seen him from a distance, a great bull of a man, a bronze dome of a head.

Papa kept Petr away from him. Papa wouldn’t let Petr go near him; he didn’t explain why. People had soft spots in their head that weren’t rational. Petr had his own soft spots. His dream of find gold was a big one. But he had a bigger soft spot in his head. He had fainting spells when he was a kid that sent him into a dream world. Strange dreams that were more like memories than dreams.

He dreamed he had lived long ago in a far lost land of sands and pyramids and pharaohs. He was a flying prince–he could become an invisible falcon soaring across great yellow deserts finding big veins of gold beneath the sand. He was called The Gold Falcon.

He had learned to keep that to himself because it was best not to talk about soft spots. The doctor called his fainting spells seizures, but he called them “jim-jams”: the picture in his head flipped and sent him into one of his strange dreams. He was simply gone for a while. Being ‘away’ was more interesting than real life. In Egypt his name was Mahrire. And a pharaoh named Horemheb always sent him on a mission to find gold; and Mahrire fell in love with a beautiful dream girl named Mirael. It was better than life. He couldn’t talk about it.

Papa jabbed him with the long-saw. “Where’s your lucky creek?”
















The Goldfinder Series, Book One, The Gold Hunter, Prelude (Entry 1)

The Goldfinder Series is four historical novels beginning in the California Gold Rush and ending after the American Civil War. Book One, The Gold Hunter; Book Two, The Gold Shaper; Book Three, The Gold Soldier; Book Four, The Secret of Gold Lake.

Clues to the location of the legendary lost Gold Lake will be scattered throughout the Series for those inclined to search for golden treasure.

In Book One, Petr Valory discovers the biggest gold motherlode of all time, a gold lottery greater than any possessed by kings or pharaohs–hidden beneath a small and nameless mountain lake high in the Sierra Nevada. So it begins this way.

Book One, The Gold Hunter


John Valory had no interest rushing into the Gold Rush. California was a long walk away, a mule killer and a man killer. He worked at Cates Saw Mill in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a dollar a day and glad to get it ripping pine logs into planks, and he became a drinking man. But a letter arrived, February of 1851, a letter so tattered and worn it looked as if it had fallen from the moon: John, You want timber mountain and saw mill so come and get it. Dain King of Gold Nation Mining Company buys every stick of lumber you make. Sketchy directions followed having to do with bearing northwest from Pyramid Lake out of Nevada Territory and then into California through Beckwourth Pass, and thereupon to North Fork of the Feather River. Keep asking for Colonel King as he is well known in these parts. Handwriting simple and clear, but the signature smeared from a stray drop of rain as to be unreadable. Maybe M, maybe K.

Maybe every drunk is but a man with a broken dream–and one dream away from sober. Here was a last chance. John quit whiskey and bought a good used Studebaker covered wagon for fifty dollars and three mules for seventy-five dollars. His wife Magya was easy because he told her they would go to San Francisco where she could restart her opera career. The little girl Annabel was persuaded by the promise of a pony for riding in the hills. Petr needed no promises. Petr Valory was sixteen and sure a shovelful of California dirt would produce enough gold for all dreams to come true. Mostly good dreams, but a few scary ones he couldn’t talk about.

September 1851 the Valorys made it to the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada and found a foot of fresh snow, and more on the way. A gold hunter named Big Jack helped them build a cabin with a good fireplace and a sleeping loft for the children. In the spring John began cutting trees and his lumber business took off. The letter had been true enough. But after John realized who “Dain King” was, he wasn’t happy. Then Petr found his goldmine and all hopes of happiness died in the strangling hands of greed.



Why Trump Loses

Donald Trump is a powerful prince of the earth, a born leader. You cannot look away from him; cannot not listen to his amazing words. There is a reason for this. Feisty opponents he dismisses with derisive caricatures as if they were merely cartoons and he is the only real man in the room. Annoying reporters he chews up with a few quick bites of his massive jaws. He is a master illusionist (some might say delusional) when he needs to be. Our current President is a very nice, decent man whose goodness and fairness seem to make him ineffective in this harsh and needy world. So why shouldn’t we switch to a tough, proven, single-combat warrior champion like Donald Trump? The two-fisted hero of the working class, Trump, like George C. Scott delivering Patton, knows how and when to strike a pose of power. But like a great coach, it doesn’t matter if he is right or wrong, it only matters if his team, his followers, believe in him and in his vision of victory. And they do. So we come to that.

Trump has illusions and feeds the illusion that he is leading in the polls and that he is closing fast on the great American power prize, the presidency of the United States. As any great competitor, he really believes that. And if he is not leading in the polls, the polls are rigged. And if he loses the election, the election process is corrupted and rigged. And he really believes that, too. Let’s get real. The polls are not rigged but are simply affected by volumes of noise rather than actual voting muscle. In other words Trump supporters, sure of their man Trump, believe in him, thus they are far more vocal in answering polls and participating in polls. They give the illusion of great swells of voting power. But America will wake up to reality on Tuesday. Be still your heart, trembling America. The Battling Beast will not win. Which brings us to Hilary Clinton, which in the case of Tuesday means, her supporters and her voters.

Hilary’s team is not nearly as confidant as Donald’s team. She’s made so many mistakes; she’s got the email albatross around her neck. So the Hilary team is not as likely to answer to the poll telephone call. So the poll cannot record her hidden strength. Yet Hilary will win because she has a far broader base of supporters than Donald, though far less vocal. However uncertain they may be, when it comes to pulling the Democratic-handle on Tuesday, they will pull the D-handle. And she will win. And Hilary will work hard to be a good president because of all the mistakes and doubters. Because of the mistakes and doubters Hilary will be a good president. Not to mention the fact that she is the first woman president of America–she will try harder.

We can always thank Donald Trump for turning America’s Presidential Election into an amazing worldwide reality show–the greatest show on earth. But late Tuesday night America will say with a thundering freedom voice, “Donald, you’re fired!”