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This is a story based on the 18th Century Gold Rush. Wherein with in this time frame a lot of people were suffering much hardship, and money was very, very, hard to come by.
Many people were headed out west along the California and Arizona border, and other closely related towns, in desperate hope's of finding, even if not a lot of Gold, a small amount would be greatly appreciated by most. For many of these people were very close to starvation.
Calhoun and Jake had lived on a farm, though living a couple hundred miles apart, still, after the loss of both father and mother both had joined the great number of people of whom had already hit the trail to the prospective gold fields, with great hopes of finding, if not a fortune, at least some gold to tide them over, until they could strike it rich.
After only finding fools gold, though, unbeknownst by either of them at the time. They'd both headed into town to cash in their gold for cash money. After receiving the horrible news that all that they had found was fools gold ....this was a great disappointment, but not as great as it would have been, if it were not for their most recent devastating loss of all of the gold. For before reaching the place where they could cash in their gold for cash money, they were robbed of their gold, and only given two small nuggets by the robbers.
They were also told that three men had just come into the store early that morning to cash in a toe sack of gold. They were also told that the two nuggets of gold had seemed to pretty well match the gold that these three men tried to cash in. This had relieved the pain of the loss of their newel found treasure, to some extent anyway, but not entirely. For now they were left very hungry and destitute not having one thing to bargain with in obtaining a bit of food to eat.
Both Calhoun and Jake were now feeling very destitute, both being so very hungry, yet, not having any money at all to by food.
At which time they'd heard this con artist yelling out in an awfully loud voice, saying that he had the answer to the problem of all who were hungry, and had failed to find gold. He would supply them with both food and money. This turned out to be a complete set up to entrap men for free labor, or practically free. As they were given some money. But, only a small amount. Which...they both ended up being, as did the of other men, as their complete slaves.