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Daily Alta California, vol. 32, No. 10883 – San Francisco, Saturday, Jan. 31, 1880.
At the Pioneer banquet, given at Bodie [California] New Year’s evening, the following pretty poem, written by Maurice Gregory, was recited. Its sentiment will appeal to all the “Old Boys:”
THE OLD SLUICE BOX.
Where rocks are gray and the mountains steep,
And the gulch below was dark and deep ;
Where the gnarled pines in their rugged pride
Loom gloomily up on either side ;
Where the manzanita is crooked and thick,
Where once was heard the shovel and pick ;
Where the shadows lie heavy upon the rocks,
There lies, half-buried, the old sluice box.
The idle stream through it lazily glides,
Gently washing its mouldering sides —
Sides that once were muddy and dim
From the yellow dirt that was cast within ;
While across the stream, on the gravel heaps,
The agile squirrel silently leaps ;
And the crested quail, fluttering drops
For its evening drink from the old sluice box.
Oh, many a day, with a weary hand,
Have I tossed in its bed the glittering sand ;
And dreamed, as I leaned on its rotting side,
Raking the depths of its turbid tide,
Of father’s gray hairs and dear mother’s smile,
And loved ones at home who were waiting the while
The wanderer’s return. But time sneeringly mocks
At the days that I toiled at the old sluice box.
From the moss-green rock on which I lean,
I gaze down into the sluggish stream ;
The face that I see has graver grown,
And my voice it seems has a soberer tone ;
And the wanton winds with my hair at play
Shows that my locks have all turned gray.
Still I love to think of the days gone by,
When my spirits were light, and my hopes were
I could welcome again the rough, hard knocks
To be mining once more with the old sluice box.