**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Secret Of Sobriente’s Well
by [?]

“Look yer, colonel. When you took this place, I felt I didn’t have no call to tell ye all I know about it, nor to pizen yer mind by any darned fool yarns I mout hev heard. Ye know it was one o’ them old Spanish haciendas?”

“I know,” said the colonel loftily, “that it was held by a grant from Charles the Fifth of Spain, just as my propahty on the James River was given to my people by King James of England, sah!”

“That ez as may be,” returned his companion, in lazy indifference; “though I reckon that Charles the Fifth of Spain and King James of England ain’t got much to do with what I’m goin’ to tell ye. Ye see, I was here long afore YOUR time, or any of the boys that hev now cleared out; and at that time the hacienda belonged to a man named Juan Sobriente. He was that kind o’ fool that he took no stock in mining. When the boys were whoopin’ up the place and finding the color everywhere, and there was a hundred men working down there in the gulch, he was either ridin’ round lookin’ up the wild horses he owned, or sittin’ with two or three lazy peons and Injins that was fed and looked arter by the priests. Gosh! now I think of it, it was mighty like YOU when you first kem here with your niggers. That’s curious, too, ain’t it?”

He had stopped, gazing with an odd, superstitious wonderment at the colonel, as if overcome by this not very remarkable coincidence. The colonel, overlooking or totally oblivious to its somewhat uncomplimentary significance, simply said, “Go on. What about him?”

“Well, ez I was sayin’, he warn’t in it nohow, but kept on his reg’lar way when the boom was the biggest. Some of the boys allowed it was mighty oncivil for him to stand off like that, and others–when he refused a big pile for his hacienda and the garden, that ran right into the gold-bearing ledge–war for lynching him and driving him outer the settlement. But as he had a pretty darter or niece livin’ with him, and, except for his partickler cussedness towards mining, was kinder peaceable and perlite, they thought better of it. Things went along like this, until one day the boys noticed–particklerly the boys that had slipped up on their luck–that old man Sobriente was gettin’ rich,–had stocked a ranch over on the Divide, and had given some gold candlesticks to the mission church. That would have been only human nature and business, ef he’d had any during them flush times; but he hadn’t. This kinder puzzled them. They tackled the peons,–his niggers,–but it was all ‘No sabe.’ They tackled another man,–a kind of half-breed Kanaka, who, except the priest, was the only man who came to see him, and was supposed to be mighty sweet on the darter or niece,–but they didn’t even get the color outer HIM. Then the first thing we knowed was that old Sobriente was found dead in the well!”

“In the well, sah!” said the colonel, starting up. “The well on my propahty?”

“No,” said his companion. “The old well that was afterwards shut up. Yours was dug by the last tenant, Jack Raintree, who allowed that he didn’t want to ‘take any Sobriente in his reg’lar whiskey and water.’ Well, the half-breed Kanaka cleared out after the old man’s death, and so did that darter or niece; and the church, to whom old Sobriente had left this house, let it to Raintree for next to nothin’.”

“I don’t see what all that has got to do with that wandering tramp,” said the colonel, who was by no means pleased with this history of his property.

“I’ll tell ye. A few days after Raintree took it over, he was lookin’ round the garden, which old Sobriente had always kept shut up agin strangers, and he finds a lot of dried-up ‘slumgullion’* scattered all about the borders and beds, just as if the old man had been using it for fertilizing. Well, Raintree ain’t no fool; he allowed the old man wasn’t one, either; and he knew that slumgullion wasn’t worth no more than mud for any good it would do the garden. So he put this yer together with Sobriente’s good luck, and allowed to himself that the old coyote had been secretly gold-washin’ all the while he seemed to be standin’ off agin it! But where was the mine? Whar did he get the gold? That’s what got Raintree. He hunted all over the garden, prospected every part of it,–ye kin see the holes yet,–but he never even got the color!”