Excerpt 1

from Chapter 4

 

He threw them a tattered newspaper, which had been under his chair. They both scanned the paper and sure enough, in between a report on the Governor’s tour of Geelong and a report on the monthly meeting of the Melbourne Building Society was the headline ‘The New Diggings’. They scanned the report, which began with:

I anticipated, in my last communication, that the dispersion of the diggers would ultimate in good, and the result has fully justified the anticipation. A prolific goldfield has been discovered about seven miles from Buninyong….
The report then went on to describe the location and the composi¬tion of the soil in the area. The further they read, the more intense their excitement became. The correspondent went on to describe;
….some of the pieces are as round as a shot… I have seen several pieces larger than peas, and one specimen taken from a cradle, in my presence, weighed a quarter of an ounce…
He then stated:
…for there is no doubt but that the long-sought is at length found; and ere long we shall lay claim to the appellation of the ‘Golden District’…

Once they had finished reading the article, they stared at each other, unable to find the words to express their excitement. At length they managed to settle the adrenaline and asked the Constable where they should go to purchase the equipment and stores they would need to make a start as soon as they arrived, and were directed to Campbell’s store, “two blocks down, and then right”.

With the old copper wishing them the best of luck they headed off down the road. They had only gone a hundred yards before a huge man stumbled towards them, with a bottle in one hand and a young lady of dubious virtue in the other. They glanced at each other as the man came closer, wondering how to best get out of his way. As the man reached them, he let go of the girl’s waist and wrapped a massive arm around Patrick’s shoulders while handing the half-empty bottle to Fergus.

“Two pounds m’ lads. Two pounds I took out of the good earth just two days ago. I’d only been diggin’ for two hours,” he laughed, then planted a drunken kiss on Patrick’s forehead. He reached into his pocket and handed each of them a coin.

“A shillin’ a piece for ye. And keep the bottle. As m’ sweet old Ma used to say, ‘If you ever have good fortune, don’t be a tight arse and share it around. I’m keepin’ th’ lady though,’ he cackled and then con¬tinued on down the street.
Patrick and Fergus looked at each other, stunned equally by what they’d just seen and heard. Two pounds of gold in only two hours?
They obviously didn’t have time to waste.