al hour and kill time. At the house of Major Norton he had no company. Oscar felt above him, and did not deign to hold any intercourse with his father's drudge, while the housekeeper--Major Norton being a widower--was busy about her own special work, and would have wondered at Joe if he had sought her company. I make this explanation because I do not wish it to be understood that Joe was a common village lounger, or loafer.
When Joe entered the store he found the usual company present, but with one addition.
This was Seth Larkin, who had just returned from California, whither he had gone eighteen months before, and was, of course, an object of great attention, and plied with numerous questions by his old acquaintances in regard to the land of promise in the far West, of which all had heard so much.
It was in the fall of the year 1851, and so in the early days of California.
Seth was speaking as Joe entered.
"Is there gold in California?" repeated Seth, apparently in answer t
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