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Page 274



[The story was told in the California papers, on the authority of a German Doctor, that
a man at Frazer's River drank some water that he found in the quartz rock, and was
turned to stone.]

I feel a shiver
Come over my frame at the very name
Of auriferous Frazer's River,
Where gold in lumps as big as a biggin
Is lying all round awaiting the digging;
Where they pick the locks
Of crystalline rocks,
Such fabulous riches showing,
That men to-day in seedy sorrow
May homeward go, elate, to-morrow
With pockets overflowing;
And this is the reason why I shiver
At tidings brought from Frazer's River:
Onesimus Guile
Had made his pile
In a very inconsiderable while;
But the weather was good,
And the nuggets were whoppers,
And Guile always stood
To look after the coppers;
And so, his greed growing stronger and stronger,
He said to himself,
As I 'm in for the pelf,
I might as well tarry a little while longer; —
A little more rhino
Will not hurt me, I know,
And while Fortune is kind I 'll engage her,
Men 's favor I 'll win
With my surplus of tin,
And though I 'm a miner — he gave a grin —
I can hold up my head like a major.
Then he went to his raking
And rocking and shaking,
With weary brain and body aching,
Toiling on, if sleeping or waking,


Page 275
Not a moment of comfort taking,
His hope of home for the time forsaking,
In wet weather soaking, in hot weather baking,
To add to his earthly riches;
Digging and delving early and late,
Scratching the soil with an anxious pate,
Running a muck with a golden fate,
Wearing out body and — boots.
Just the same as your millionaire,
Who asks at first but a moderate share,
And takes for his motto old Agar's prayer,
But, as his wealth increases,
He cannot fix on a quantum suf.,
And never knows when he has enough,
His greed being made of elastic stuff,
That in its stretch ne'er ceases.
As he picked his way,
On a subsequent day,
A boulder of quartz before him lay,
His greedy eyes making richer;
One sturdy blow
He gave it, when, lo!
A stream of water from it did flow,
As though poured out from a pitcher.
As clear as crystal, and icy cold,
'T was a very charming stream to behold,
And Guile stood still, enchanted;
For sparkling water, clear and bright,
Is ever a source of true delight;
It comes to us in dreams of night,
When our lips are dry and parched and white,
And fever, like a hideous sprite,
Our sleeping hours has haunted; —
Though many there be who are better suited
To have the water a little diluted!
Guile bowed his head to the mystical pool,
And tasted its waters pure and cool,
Then drank till he felt satiety;
Saying that, though from quartz it came,
There was n't in it the baleful flame,
The burning and abiding shame,
That flowed from a source with a similar name,


Page 276
That tripped the heels of sobriety,
A wild, agrarian, levelling thing,
A jet from an infernal spring,
That flowed to plague society!
But soon he felt he had drunk too deep:
A cold chill over his frame did creep,
His eyelids drooped with a sense of sleep,
And he yielded to its action;
He slept, but over his sleep there stole
A spirit power of dread and dole,
That quenched the flame of his being's coal,
And changed poor Guile from a living soul
To a thing of petrifaction!
To rouse him his mates tried all their devices,
But vain did they strive
And drive and contrive,
He was stiff as a saint in the temple of Isis.
They carved him up
In goblet and cup,
In pipes and folders and handles,
In bracelets rare,
And combs for the hair,
And sticks for holding candles;
His wife wore his chin
As a cameo pin,
And earrings wrought from his toes;
His fingers were sought,
Into chess-men wrought,
And a paper-weight made of his nose!
Till never was known in the world before
A case where a man went into more
Extensive distribution,
Or where, if he should claim his own,
The chances would be fainter shown
Of getting restitution;
And this is why I always shiver
To hear the name of Frazer's River.