Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mining for Silver

I once resided in a cabin out west where I'd staked a claim on a small tract of land that I was certain would produce silver.

A terrible windstorm blew through one night and moved my cabin down the mountain and halfway into the local saloon. When the owner complained, I showed him my property deed. It stated that I owned mining rights to all land within a quarter mile of my boundary marker. The marker was inside the center of my cabin. (I had, with great foresight, placed it there to prevent would-be property thieves from moving it.)

The saloon owner took issue with my claim. He did not want a stranger tunneling under his business. I offered a compromise: I would extract gold from a different quarry in exchange for renting him the mining rights to his saloon. He agreed. For several months thereafter I ran a very profitable faro table on the floor of his establishment while he dug beneath it.

My gambling business would have continued had not another storm blown my cabin back up the mountain. The wind was so fierce that it also blew out several tunnel shafts begun by the saloon owner. The shafts slammed into the mountainside, barely missing my cabin. A quick examination of these tunnels proved my silver claim to be worthless, so I attempted to recoup my investment by suing the saloon owner for property damage.

He was disinclined to pay me or to wait for the circuit judge's monthly visit. He instead hired a posse of a dozen or so of my former faro clients and tried to settle with me out of court. I left to seek my fortune elsewhere. Mining is a tricky business -- before you jump into it, consider all the angles!

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

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