Angie's Gold Nugget

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
A little girl finds a gold nugget and later makes good use of it.

Submitted: August 31, 2016

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Submitted: August 31, 2016

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Angie was just eight years old when she found the gold nugget. It was after the heavy rainstorm that caused the water race to burst its banks and erode the hillside. She was the first one there, because as usual she out there in the morning walking her dog, Muffin, who liked to chase rabbits.

This happened in Central Otago, at a place called Naseby. a busy town in the 1890’s where miners sluiced for gold.  A nugget like her’s was very rare indeed.

Of course Angie knew that the nugget was valuable, but she really had no idea about the valuable of anything because of her age. She did know the last stagecoach taking gold to Dunedin had been held up, two men had been killed and the robbers took the gold! She also knew there was a lot of jealousy over gold and land and that some men had used all their gold to buy booze, or lost it gambling!

Angie’s father owned the general store, selling all manner of goods to the goldminers including flour, shovels, nails, pick axes, knives. Her mother, Sarah, helped out in the store and also had a small business out the back doing laundry for the town’s two hotels. Angie was her valuable assistant and water-fetcher. Angie imagined what her father and mother would say about the gold nugget and guessed she wouldn’t have her treasure for long! So she decided not tell anyone about her treasure.

‘Daddy?’ she asked that night at the dinner table, ‘Can anyone sell the gold if they find any?’

Her father looked over the top of his spectacles and looked sternly at her, and she felt he cheeks getting red.

‘No,’ he replied, ‘to sell gold you need a Deed of Claim and that bit of paper allows you to work a specific area to look for gold and if you are lucky, yes you can sell the gold.’

Chewing a chop bone, Angie changed her mind deciding that it was not good to keep secrets from her parents, and she was actually bursting with excitement, so she reached into her pinny pocket and quietly placed the gold nugget on the table.

Both parents stopped chewing and looked at the nugget, then at Angie, and back at the nugget again.

After a lengthy discussion, Angie’s father said the gold was hers by right but should be kept hidden because it couldn’t be sold in the township. Even he didn’t know how much it was worth.

‘I know, we could keep in a jar of marmalade!’  Angie suggested brightly.

‘Now that’s a good idea,’ agreed her father, ‘we could display it and nobody could guess that the gold was in there.’

Father had some clay jars of marmalade in his store, although it was not a good seller, not many saw it as a priority, so mother used some and there was a half used jar on the shelf.

With the gold nugget safely inside the jar and covered with marmalade, they needed to seal the top so flies and bugs didn’t spoil the jam. To do this they melted candle wax, dripping it into the jar on top of the marmalade. Angie thought they had done a neat job, expecting the marmalade to keep fresh for many years!

The nugget-jar survived many dangers: Bad Kenny broke into the store and stole the very jar next to Angie’s! There was the fire that burnt one end of the store to the ground, but not the section where the jar stood! And there was the time when Muffin chased a rat, knocking over several marmalade jars and five of them were broken, but not the nugget-jar!

When Angie was fourteen, she boarded the stagecoach to Dunedin, where Father had arranged a job for her with a general storekeeper and his wife. Not a paying job mind, just lodgings and food.

Her bag, with the nugget-jar inside, was missing when she went to pick it up after the stagecoach stopped, and she saw a man hurrying off with it down the street! She ran after him to claim her bag back, thinking he had made a mistake!

‘Bugger off!’ He growled and it was obvious that he intended to steal her belongings!

She had no idea what to do and it appeared there was nobody willing to come to her aid, so she whacked him across the bridge of his nose with the parasol she carried causing him to drop the bag. Quickly she retrieved it and ran off towards the town!

Angie worked at the general store happily for three and a half years and became good friends with the storekeeper’s wife, Molly. Through this friendship Angie negotiated with the storekeeper for the rental of a small spare room at the back of the store. With intelligent detective work and natural curiosity, she found that Dawson, the jeweler-man down the road, paid a fair price for rough gold - nuggets or dust. No questions asked! When Dawson saw the gold nugget his eyes bulged but Angie wasn’t about to let it go cheaply, so bargained hard! She sold three quarters of the nugget by weight, for the handsome sum of four hundred and fifty-three pounds! She cannily kept the other quarter ‘in reserve, for a rainy day’.

Angie used the money and the room to set up a small factory making jam using local and imported fruits and selling to the more wealthy Dunedinites. The business did very well expanded into new premises and became quite profitable so she never had the need to cash in the last quarter of her gold nugget! But much later, she gave the lucky nugget to her daughter, Rose.

Angie named her company after Rose, which became famous for quality jams and cordials.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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