I found it! My eldest son, Ben, wrote this story about two years ago for a math and English combination assignment. He asked me about it several months ago, hoping that I had saved it. I knew I would not have deleted such an interesting story, but I could not remember what it was named and there was only a partial copy of the story on my google drive that had been shared with me when he first began the story. He and I were disappointed that we could not find it. Well, I finally found it buried on the hard drive of my old laptop. I am so excited to have found it that I am hanging it on “The Refrigerator Door.”
The Curse of “Gold Fever”
I peered out the window of my rented room and watched Sam, Billy and Kittie filling their packs with provisions. It looked like they were planning to be out of town for quite a piece of time. I had heard that they were returning to their claim to collect the gold that they had hidden. People said that they had “struck it rich”. A profitable claim, if I do say.
I pulled on my boots and headed to the mercantile to lay in my own store of provisions. I had a long trip ahead of myself. Staking my claim in the Klondike was going to take time and work, and I wanted to be prepared.
I loaded my rations into my canoe and gently pushed it into the river. I paddled slowly, knowing that I needed to have energy for a long time and not wanting to overdo it right away. About a mile ahead of me, I could see Sam, Billy and Kittie floating down the river. I paddled and floated down the river admiring the tall trees that stood like silent guardians to the steep, muddy banks of the river. The upper branches of the trees swayed in the breeze as if they were waving me along.
I noticed some geese in the water, but when I dipped my paddle into the water as I approached them, they took to the skies—soaring upward to avoid any would-be predator, even if it was just one lone, hungry man. As I watched them soar, my eye came to rest on a puff of grey floating along in the sky followed by other angrier looking clouds. It was time to find shelter for the night, earlier than expected but necessary to beat the rain and keep things as dry as possible.
Finding a less steep part of the bank, I beached my canoe and after portaging my provisions to a flat spot under the thick canopy of the forest, I dragged my canoe up into the woods. There on that flat protected spot, I set up my tent and flipped my canoe over to keep it from filling with rain. Next, I focused on building a fire. With the fire raging, I sat cooking my supper and waiting for the rain to begin.
The next morning I woke up stiff! My body was not use to sleeping on the ground or working quite as hard as I had the day before. I stretched and rubbed my aching muscles. Then, I made a quick breakfast of dried meat and fruit and prepared to portage the canoe and my gear back to the river.
I decided to quicken my paddling pace today. I wasn’t sure how far ahead of me Sam, Billy and Kittie were. I thought I had seen another campfire not too far down the shore from me last night, but I wasn’t certain. As I rounded the bend in the river, I nearly ran into them. Quickly, I pulled back on my oar—hopefully before they had seen me. I sat for several minutes to let them get ahead of me before continuing on. I pretended to stick a line in the water as if fishing, just in case I had been seen.
After two uneventful days of paddling and camping, I was not at the end of the river as I had expected to be. I was glad that I had overruled that little voice in my head that had told me I was packing too much. My “too much” was now what was going to make my longer-than-expected journey survivable. One more day and I would be onto the ground portion of the trip.
Today, I needed to find a good place to hide my canoe until I returned. That was going to take some time. I looked for a dense place in the forest that would be infrequently travelled. I tipped the canoe over and covered it with branches and leaves. It was easy to hide since it was brown and blended into the surrounding scenery. Donning my pack and fur cloak, I began the long walk toward the mountain and my waiting fortune.
The hiding of my canoe had taken a bit more time than I expected, but my tracking skills soon lead me to the path that Sam, Billy and Kittie had taken. I took a path that paralleled theirs but was more covered and discreet.
We walked and walked. Sam, Billy and Kittie did not stop in any one place for very long. Sam kept beating on a can and talking loudly as if trying to scare off a wild animal. I knew that my cloak was doing its job. Finally, they stopped for the night. Tomorrow would be a trek through the snow field.
As the moon glistened in the sky, I quietly slipped up to their camp. I snorted and grunted and banged on their tent. I heard them rustling inside, huddling together. Then, I snatched some of their food and scampered off into the woods. They had just been “attacked” by a hungry animal. I chuckled to myself as I returned to my camp. The first step of my plan was working. They would be tired, hungry and wary as they travelled tomorrow. It wouldn’t take much to scare them now.
The wind kicked up the snow and whipped it around as Sam, Billy and Kittie travelled on snowshoe across the snow field. I was having a hard time seeing them, but I couldn’t risk getting any closer. I watched as Sam and Billy walked ahead of Kittie. She seemed to be tiring more quickly than the others. Suddenly, she slumped into the snow. At first, Sam and Billy didn’t see her. She seemed too weak to yell for them. I watched as she shivered and then lay still. In time, Sam and Billy came back to find her, but it was too late. They buried her and moved on.
Beyond the snow field, Sam and Billy took a long rest on the side of the mountain. They were visibly sad and tired. Kittie’s death had been unexpected both to them and to me. But, it worked into my plan without a hitch. I only had two to worry about now.
I slowly crept up to a rock outcrop above where the two men were resting. Hidden behind a large boulder, I loosened some large rocks and sent them over the edge on top of the heads of the men below. I heard both of them cry out in pain and fall down. They did not try to get up, so I assumed they were unconscious. I climbed down and searched them for their map. Finding it, I took some of their food and created a trail to lead animals to them. To ensure they could not escape, I smashed their legs with a rock.
Using the directions from the map, I found the treasure. The people of town had been right. These three had “struck it rich.” It was a lot of work carrying that much back to my canoe, but I did it. I set sail down the river. Eventually I landed in a small town. There was a story circulating about three miners who had struck it rich but had been killed by the elements and animals before their treasure could be found. As far as anyone knows, it never will be.