The Gold and the Mountain
It is a spring day in 1941 and Will Bodie, a young teenage boy, is fishing on a dock on the St. John’s River in Jacksonville, Florida, and reading about a lost gold mine in a magazine. Shortly, old Mr. McRae, his fishing pal, joins him. Fishing is good and Will is fascinated about the lost gold mine. Events play out, for Mr. McRae has a secret gold find on a mountain, just south of the border, in Mexico. He tells Will where it is on his deathbed. This sets Will on a life-long quest to find the gold.
There is also Agnes, Will’s childhood sweetheart, who is making plans for a-some-day marriage and housekeeping. There is Will’s father, a shrimper who dies in a hurricane in the Gulf. There is Will’s mother, who then becomes a widow. Will is smart in school and studies Spanish in Miss Smith’s high school Spanish Class. There is, too, a war going on.
In several years, Will graduates from high school and, naïve and ill prepared, he strikes out to find the gold. Before crossing the border, he chances on three sourdoughs, an old man and his sons, barely eking out a living from gold diggings in a shaft pit. They advise Will against going into Mexico, because he’s a kid, it’s hostile there, it’s a desert, and dry, with scorpions, rattlesnakes, and wild pigs. Will goes anyway and is attacked by wild pigs. He is bleeding to death, when a Mexican Maiden, Maria, washing clothes at a stream, saves him, puts a tourniquet on his leg and takes him to her hacienda. Will recovers and then leaves, because Maria’s mama, Rosa, does not like him.
Time later, back home, Will is drafted, and has to go to war. Agnes and his mother wait for his return. He is injured in battle, has part of his head shot off, and is not recovering, it seems, in the Walter Reed Hospital. On this, Agnes has a change of heart and marries another. Will’s mother is by his side in this time of despair. But Will does recover, with a metal plate in his head. He wears a hat. He studies mining, works the mines, becomes a mining engineer. He then goes back to Mexico, to the mountain, to find his gold.
Again, he is attacked by wild pigs, kills two. At the desert stream, once more, he encounters Maria. Then in the desert night, they eat the pigs, beans, tortillas, and have coffee with tequila, then wrap up from the desert chill in a poncho and have sex in the night. The next day she is gone.
For the next ten years, Will works as a mining engineer for a Canadian company in Chile and Argentina. He successfully develops mining ventures and makes money for the company, and, through negotiations, wins a share in ownership. Subsequently the mines are nationalized. At this time, Will’s mother dies. He sees Agnes at the burial. They share a moment of passed memories, and for them, that which was not to be.
Will next lobbies the company to venture with him his mine in Mexico. They agree, and spend a week searching over and about his mountain, and collecting bags of rock samples. At the end, they leave the mountain, and, using the rocks for truck ballast, maneuver through desert gullies and at dark find a dilapidated hacienda for a place for meals and beds. It is Maria’s. She has a 9-year old boy, Will’s son. In Mexico, the gold samples are tested and found seemingly to be of no value. Will loses his job and leaves the company. He subsequently attends his 10-year university’s graduation reunion. There he sees his old mining professor and by happenstance discovers that the bags of rocks that he yet has in his truck contains bonanza gold, refractory gold, secret gold, which cannot be panned or treated conventionally.
In the end, Will finds his place, with Maria, his son, and the mountain, with its gold.