SOME time after returning from his first European trip, Bernie and his friend Dick Lydon decided to take Horace Greeley's advice. They went west to make their fortunes. Cripple Creek seemed like a good place, from what they had heard about it; so there they went. Bernie got a job as a mucker, in a shaft next to what was then the well-known San Francisco mine.
This was hard work. A mucker follows the blasting crew, putting rock in buckets to be hauled to the surface. Soon Bernie was promoted to the blasting crew, his job being to hold the drill while another man pounded it into the rock to make a hole for the explosive.
It wasn't all work, however. The boys became regular attendants at the local gambling hell. Bernie worked out a system. He had noted that the house won most of the time, so whenever he saw some prospectors making big bets he would make small bets against them, with the house. This proved fairly profitable, for a while. Then he was told by the proprietor that his patronage was not wanted.
"The owner of the place seemed very much in earnest," said Bernie, "so we left."
Enthusiastic about the prospects of the San Francisco mine, they put into its stock all their cash--hard-earned wages and easily earned bets with the house. They lost every cent.