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Jo's Journey

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128 pages
It's 1861 and orphan Jo has made it from Carson City, Nevada, to San Francisco without anyone figuring out that she's a girl in boy's clothing. When she hears talk of gold strikes in the Cariboo, Jo and her friend Bart sign on for what turns out to be a journey far more arduous and dangerous than anything Jo experienced as a Pony Express rider. Through it all, Jo keeps her true identity a secret. Strong men turn back but Jo forges ahead, unsure of what lies ahead but sure that her father and mother would be proud of her determination.
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Jo’s Journey
Nikki Tate
Orca฀Book฀Publishers
Copyright © 2006 Nikki Tate
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Tate, Nikki, 1962– Jo’s journey / Nikki Tate.
(Orca young readers) ISBN 1-55143-536-5
1. Cariboo (B.C. : Regional district)—Gold discoveries—Juvenile fiction.
I. Title. II. Series.
 PS8589.A8735J64 2006 jC813’.54 C2006-901017-X
First published in the United States: 2006 Library of Congress Control Number:2006922288
Summary:Fourteen-year-old Jo is determined to follow her dream of finding gold in the Cariboo.
Free teachers’ guide available. www.orcabook.com
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP), the Canada Council for the Arts, and the British Columbia Arts Council.
Typesetting and cover design by Lynn O’Rourke Cover & interior illustrations by Emily Carrington
In Canada: In the United States: Orca Book Publishers Orca Book Publishers www.orcabook.com www.orcabook.com Box 5626 Stn B PO Box 468 Victoria, BC Canada Custer, WA USA V8R 6S4 98240-0468 09 08 07 06 • 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed and bound in Canada Printed on 100% recycled paper. Processed chlorine-free using vegetable based inks.
For my father. Without your encouragement, Jo would never have left home. And for Jane. Who else could have survived Utah Territory with the likes of my old horse and me?
As always, there are so many people to thank and my methods of record-keeping woefullyinadequate. A big thanks is due to all the peopleat Orca. In particular, I must thank Sarah Harvey for getting on Jo’s case. Thanks to Emily Carrington for creating such a great cover and interior illustrations. Staff at the Royal British Columbia Museum were immensely helpful, and Rod at Galleon Books in Sidney went above and beyond the call of duty to help me find the information I needed.
Chapter 1
“Bart? Do you ever miss Utah Territory?” I tossed a forkful of straw and horse manure into the barrow. Bart grunted as he dropped hay into the manger at the other end of the horse. “What does that mean?” I asked. “I suppose I miss the money,” Bart said. He unhooked the water bucket and dunked it in the rain barrel. “The money? That’s all?” Bart and I had become friendly during the time we worked with the Pony Express. Course, he didn’t know I was a girl — and I was glad of that. No doubt that would have changed things some.
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After the telegraph line came through and the Pony Express stopped running, we trav-eled to San Francisco and found work at Finnigan’s Livery. It wasn’t exciting work, but our bellies were full and we stayed dry at night. But now, after a quiet winter in the city, restlessness stirred in my bones. I couldn’t believe Bart didn’t feel it too. “So you don’t miss anything else?” Bart hooked the full bucket in front of the horse and shrugged. “What’s to miss about Utah Territory? Snow? Sun hot enough to bake a man’s brains? Robberies?” The last point was for my benefit. I’d pre-vented a mail robbery, and memories of that adventure still kept me awake some nights. I moved on to the next horse. “I know all that,” I said, surprised at the sudden pang of sadness I felt. There was no way to go back, not really. I waved my hand at the two long rows of horse backsides stretching away from me inside the stable. “Even you have to admit that this is boring.” The horses farther along the row nickered, anxious to eat. “I’m coming,” Bart called back.
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“Are you planning to grow old in here so they mark your grave with a picture of a pitchfork?” I wanted to rile him up. With his arms full of hay, he chuckled. “You’re a funny one, Joe,” he said. “Always looking for something different — like differ-ent is always going to be better. That ain’t always the case.” “Just for that, I’ll leave you behind when I go!” “Go where?” I opened my mouth, but had no good answer. “Somewhere,” was the best I could offer. I had no plan, no place to go, and for the rest of the morning, I kept my thoughts to myself.
A week or so later while I was waiting for Bart outside the Red Bar Saloon, I recalled our conversation. The thought that it was time to move on would not leave me alone. “How much?” I asked Bart when he emerged from the saloon. “Four dollars — a little more,” he said with a wink. Bart had the magic touch when it
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came to any kind of gambling—cards or dice or the faro table. When Bart had a pocketful of winnings he liked to buy a good meal for both of us. He tucked away the rest of his money for safe-keeping in his poke, the leather pouch he always kept close by. Bart was always excited after winning in the gambling houses and he moved fast, his boots clumping along the wooden boards of the sidewalk. I was grateful for my long legs and the fact I wore trousers. Even unen-cumbered by skirts, I reminded myself to swagger a little and throw my shoulders back. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a shop window as we barreled past. Lanky. Skinny as a beanpole. Pockmarked face. No chest to speak of — thank goodness! “Took a little longer than I thought,” he said. “You keep busy?” He turned down a side street and strode toward the docks. I had been busy. “I read the front page of the paper four times.” Bart laughed. “And? Any interesting news?”
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“Gold! You know — that yellow stuff that makes men crazy?” “I know what gold is. What about it?” Gold. The word was splashed across the front page of the papers every day and on the lips of near enough everyone in San Francisco. Men from all parts crowded the docks, looking for passage north. Gold. “Joe? You ain’t thinking about going north — ” I shrugged. North, in the Cariboo, that’s where everyone said the gold was. “I might find my brothers — ” Bart made an odd noise — a sharp laugh that sounded like a bark. “Your brothers may be dead, for all you know.” “And they may be picking up nuggets of gold as we speak,” I shot back. “Joe,” Bart said, grabbing my arm and pulling me to a stop. “You’re wasting your time looking for those two. And I only say that ’cause you’re my friend.” I wanted to defend my brothers, but as always, sorrow and fury twisted my tongue into silence. When my brothers left me in
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