Earl released his beard and backhanded him across the other side of the face.
“That’s it, I ain’t tellin any more of the story if yer jist gonna beat on me. Ask Arny.”
Arny must have picked up on Earl’s desire to get to the point as he simply said.
“The goat she was shredded to bits. We got spooked and run back. When we got back we were lucky the door was ajar for Bart had dropped the keys.”
“That’s a festerin’ lie ya filthy puss vomit. Ya had the key and ya know it to be true.”
Earl must have trusted Bart’s word over Arny’s since his next blows rained on the tall gangly miner causing him to drop his gear.
“Ow … don’t be mad before ye’ve at least seen the silver we brought up.”
“Ya … we struck a new vein while ya was gone … must be twenty four weight worth of raw ore we’ve pulled up already and it ain’t anywhere near dried up yet.”
Earl pulled his next punch.
“Twenty four weight?”
“Yes come and see.”
Franklin was curious what twenty four weight of raw silver looked like and followed the miners down past the first bend. Turned out that, at least in the dim light, it looked like a huge pile of rock. However, it must have been genuine since after looking a small piece over Earl was all smiles, clapping the two miners on the back and telling what a great job they’d done. To celebrate he ordered Martha to cook up a ‘feast’ out of the rabbit they had snared the previous night and the few vegetables they had brought back. Then he cracked open a barrel of rum and ladled it out. After serving Bart and Arny he motioned for Franklin to come over to him. Placing his hand on his shoulder he leaned in close.
“I’m gonna celebrate with me boys. Yer on watch tonight. First though lug that silver up into the chest. Ya can take these keys, hang them on the peg beside the door in the morning.”
Earl folded the keys into Franklin’s palm and moved his face even closer.
“Jist make festering sure ya don’t lose them. They’re the last set and you don’t have twenty four weight of silver to bribe yerself out of my fury if ya do.”