Jacob sat at his kitchen table with his newspaper in front of him and rubbed his bewhiskered chin absently. The headlines in the paper today read, “Gold Discovered in California”, and the article boasted of gold so abundant you could cut it out of the dirt with a pocket knife.
“What are you thinking so hard about,” his wife Mary asked as she filled his cup with strong, black coffee.
“Gold, Mary. In California. Seems it grows so thick there you can just carve a chunk out with your pocket knife.”
“Sounds a little exaggerated to me, Jacob. Where ever in this world can you just go pick up gold like it was just so many rocks?”
“Well, that’s what it says in the newspaper. Men are getting rich there by the dozens, and the gold is just ripe for picking.”
“So’s the wheat in the field Jacob, so you better get out there and get busy.” Mary said this with a wink and a smile that always threw Jacob off guard. He smiled back at her, got up from his seat and kissed her, and headed out to his field.
“Is father going to go to California and pick gold mother?” Sarah asked as she sat down at the table with her bowl of steaming oatmeal.
“No, I think you father is just doing some dreaming. Sometimes this little farm is just too small for him. Men are like that. Which is why,” Mary went on taking her now empty bowl to the sink, “women will never be out of a job keeping men’s feet on the ground.”
“Three thousand dollars,” Uncle Vernon said disbelievingly.
“Yes, three thousand dollars. I think that’s what we will need to get to California.”
“Listen Jacob,” Uncle Vernon said as he watched Jacob’s look of determination grow, “you can’t just go uprooting your wife and daughter and dragging them all over tarnation, so you can hunt for gold. It just isn’t sane.”
“But Uncle Vernon,” Jacob said sitting up closer to him in his Uncle’s parlor, “neither is finding chunks of gold with just the pick of your knife. As hard as I have to work in my fields just to keep food on the table, it seems that I could make enough money to keep us all comfortable for the rest of our lives. And I won’t have to depend on this damnable weather every year.”
“Your heart’s really in this then?” Vernon said tamping tobacco in his well used pipe.
“Absolutely. And I will pay you back with interest.”
“Ok, you can have the money. Against my better judgment. But you have to do whatever is necessary to prevent Mary from killing me when she finds out I loaned it to you.”
“You don’t have to worry about her Uncle, she will be excited about it.”
“Oh, I am sure she will be.”