jedcstuff

2005-08-15

The old Prospector's goldmine

The old Prospector's goldmine

(a fiction writing)

Back in the days of the early settlement of the American West, precious metal mines were major sources of salable resources in the areas, and they had to be found first. Typically, a prospector would go out into the desert mountains and hike around, a burro carrying supplies for stay months at a time in lonely search among the hard and dangerous mountain rocks, looking for signs of worthwhile ores. When food and supplies ran out, he would come back to town and work awhile at cleaning stalls or building things, paid in food and supplies; then he would go off into the desert to search again.

And so this story begins with a prospector having finally found what appears to be an immensely promising gold mine site, but one from which he cannot usefully directly extract gold embedded in the ore, with which he could pay for things. And the path to there is very difficult; a passible trail must be built to get the equipment in to make the mine profitable. So the prospector spent more lonely years hacking at the mountainside, fighting off the rattlesnakes and mountain lions, to build a passable trail to the mine location for easy access by others. Then he proudly brought back sacks of ore samples to show the town's merchants. The prospector had done all that work so as to bring much prosperity to the whole town, and surely he would be appropriately appreciated and rewarded for making that new good living possible for all those people.

But what he finds in reality, is that after he gave the chunks of ore samples to the townspeople and merchants, some of whom he is sure can make adequate evaluation of the ore's potential, and provided maps of his laboriously built trailways to it, that instead of enthusiastic joy and helpfulness to him (who has grown old in the many years of struggle to provide this potential abundance to the townspeople) finds that the townspeople and merchants close themselves off from him. And they no longer give him quite enough paid work so he can buy food and supplies to survive.

As the town's businesspeople spend their evenings as usual together playing poker, at which they practiced the basic principles of their clever ways, they chatted around the table. The assay on the ore indicates that this will be the greatest gold mine ever. We all will become fabulously wealthy and powerful from the gold mine. But what of the old prospector? He stupidly gave us the map of his trailway to the mine's site and gave us samples of the ore to give to the assay office, not realizing that we now can stake the claim in our name. It is as if the old Prospector had shown his hand to the poker players, a move so incompetant as a player as to not earn anything other than sneering disdain. The businesspeople's suave high society elitist ways were not going to let the scraggly starving old prospector be accepted as one of them, how awful he looked and acted. After all, he clearly does not comprehend the worth of the claim to the mine. Their greatest guiding principles were "never give a sucker an even break" and "buy low and keep it away from those who need it, improve it as little as possible or none at all, then sell it high for as much as the desperate market will bear": proven principles that had already made them the winners, the wonderful elite.

And had they not already paid him to clean out their stalls and build their equipment over the years, so he could buy supplies for his prospecting? Thus they had surely hired him to find the goldmine and so he had already been paid, right? Anyway, it would cost a lot to develop the mine so as to have it start paying off. The Prospector was old and impoverished; they were younger and well fed and powerful; they would just sit on the discovery and its map, and wait out the passing of the old prospector. When he was gone, they would announce to the world about the fabulous new goldmine they had found. Easy money, this familiar game.

Meanwhile, to prevent others from finding out, they quietly spread the word that the old prospector was crazy, vile, given to fits of violence; especially dangerous to women and children; don't listen to him, he even claimed to have a goldmine; yet obviously he was scraggly and starving, so must surely be crazy and dangerous; the sooner he was gone or put away, the sooner everybody could feel safe and be happy again. So, help get rid of him.

They sat back smirking to themselves, cards in hand. Not needing voicing, each appreciated the vision of how each would spend their extra portion of the prospector's abandoned share. Character assassination was an old technique; even honorable, as was it not there in the Bible about sowing seeds of weeds and thorn bushes to grow in an enemy's crop fields? How dare that old man try to crash their party to steal a piece of their action. They would show that outsider just who were the great masters of the game. This would be fun, they smiled knowingly.

The card hand had been played out around the poker table, and the call went out again for their endless sport: "Deal!"

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