Spur award by Western authors of America, 1963; Children’s literary works Council of southern California Award, 1964 and also others

It is 1849 when 12-year-old Jack Flagg and also his Aunt Arabella’s butler, Praiseworthy, stow far on a ship headed because that California to join the gold Rush. Aunt Arabella has been guardian to Jack and his sisters, Sarah and Constance, because their parents passed away of cholera year earlier. She has fallen on hard times and also is around to shed her home in Boston. Jack and also Praiseworthy know they are the just hope for conserving the family.

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Jack and Praiseworthy initially pay for passage top top a ship called the Lady Wilma, yet their tickets room stolen as they wait to board. They’re forced to hide in potato barrels in the hull until the delivery is fine on the way. Climate Praiseworthy leader them to the captain’s quarters to tell that of their plight. Capt. Swain enables them to remain aboard and also shovel coal right into the burners until they can trick the ticket thief, a guy named Cut-Eye Higgins, into admitting his guilt. Capt. Swain then provides Higgins the coal-shoveling job, until the thief escapes in a rowboat.

Jack and also Praiseworthy meet countless other amazing men ~ above the Lady Wilma. Since everyone is anxious come stake gold claims in California, Capt. Swain races versus another ship, the Sea Raven, roughly Cape Horn ~ above a 15,000-mile, five-month journey. Despite water and fuel shortages and harrowing storms, Jack and also Praiseworthy continue to be excited around their brand-new venture. They additionally rejoice with the other passengers once the Lady Wilma to win its competitor to mountain Francisco.

Once in California, Jack and also Praiseworthy uncover that whatever is quite expensive. Castle find creative ways to do money follow me the way, including cutting hair because that miners (whose hair is full of gold dust the two deserve to harvest). They catch up through Cut-Eye Higgins, that is posing together a dentist and also extracting gold-filled teeth. Jack and Praiseworthy uncover themselves on a stagecoach through Higgins and also urge him come return the treasure map that stole indigenous a fellow Lady Wilma traveler. A corridor of thieves strikes the stagecoach, stealing most of the passengers’ valuables. Once one outlaw comment on Praiseworthy’s photograph of Aunt Arabella, the butler punches the man, who lands 15 feet uphill. The outlaws get away, however the story that Praiseworthy’s punch grows choose a tall tale. He soon earns the nickname Bullwhip. Together they look for a claim of their own, Praiseworthy and also Jack work with a man named Pitch-pine Billy on his insurance claim in Hangtown. Billy gives them thick black coffee to drink, and Jack struggles to sloop down it. Billy provides him the nickname Jamoka Jack. In ~ an auction, Jack coincidentally buys a barrel complete of neckties. If such things seem useless there, he and also Praiseworthy room able to market them when a lady moves to town and the miners want to clean as much as impress her.

Jack and Praiseworthy eventually have sufficient money come buy their very own burro and also search somewhere else for a claim. Castle promise to return to Hangtown, since a man dubbed Mountain Ox has challenged Praiseworthy to a fistfight. If Praiseworthy has no official training in fighting, he has actually pored over The Gentleman’s publication of Boxing: The Fine arts of Fisticuffs Explained and Illustrated.

The boy and also butler once again run into Cut-Eye Higgins together he’s about to it is in hanged for steed theft. He promises to provide them the sweetheart map if they will save him. Praiseworthy convinces the townspeople not to cave the just dentist castle have, and also Higgins gives them the map, which transforms out to be useless. The justice of the tranquility still orders Jack and Praiseworthy to destruction a grave because that Higgins, since he will need it eventually. As they dig, lock strike gold and also stake their claim.

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Once their case dries up, Praiseworthy and Jack return to Hangtown wherein Praiseworthy bests the mountain Ox in boxing. He and also Jack take a steamboat to mountain Francisco, yet an explosion sends them overboard. Every one of their gold sinks to the bottom that the sea. Penniless, they room still established to return to Boston. They look for out the Lady Wilma and also find the abandoned and teaming with cats. Once they hear around the town’s rat problem, they realize they have the right to sell the cats. With nearly $400 in your pockets native cat sales, they wander follow me the wharf to discover passage home.

Suddenly, castle spot Aunt Arabella and Jack’s sisters. The young women have sold whatever in Boston and come to discover Jack and also Praiseworthy. Finally seeing himself as a brave miner rather than a timid butler, Praiseworthy asks Aunt Arabella come marry him. She states she believed he would never ask. The five walk happily up the wharf, becoming a brand-new family in a new land.