Mallard 'deadpan' Malkin, squatted next to the creek shoveling dirt into his pan. He swooshed around the muddy water to wash away the stone, mud and crud to check for gold. A few glittering golden specks came into a view and a pinky-nail sized nugget. He nodded and grinned, only a few of his teeth remained.
Just as he filled another pan he heard the snap of one of his traps then heard a man cry out. He took a deep breath and grabbed his shovel. He walked down the creek a ways and chuckled when the man's cries sounded like a woman's. He used the shovel to walk up the creek side and over the ridge. From there he could see a young man struggling to get the trap off his ankle.
"Weren't come off doin it like that." He said in a slow drawl as he walked down the ridge. "Got in one of my biggins."
The man's hands were soaked with blood that came from the wound. "Please, help me. Oh god please help me."
Mallard stood above the the man, maybe not even a man, looked like a boy who'd grown good. "There be a lock on that there side. Just pull it out and it'll release. Why you runnin through my woods boy? This ain't no place fer you and youins. Traps set all over this here ridge." He pointed along the creek.
The boy released the lock and the jagged metal teeth relaxed. He fell onto his back trying to catch his breath. "I need to get home. Please."
"Well hell no boy, that foot is just a danglin." He pulled out a crusty rabbit's foot he wore as a necklace. "Hell, even a rabbit needs all his feet to be gett'n away." Mallard spit on the ground then pulled out a large skinning knife. "I guess we best start gett'n this done."
The boy put up a bloody hand. "Wh..what are you doing?" He tried to scream, but his voice failed him. "Don't cut off my foot."
"Hell boy, what would I do with your foot? I needs your skin." He walked around to the head of the boy and grabbed his hair. "Now don't a go a struggle'n. Mess up my cutt'n." The boy cried out and struggled. Even though he's lost a lot of blood there was a good fight left in him. Mallard jerk backed the boy's head, "I gots eight kids that needs to be feeding. One boy just a shorter than you." He took the knife and pointed it to the top of the hill. "Up yonder is a lady give'n a handful of coin for a skin like yours. I need to keep the cuts clean."
Mallard put the knife to boy's throat. "Know you're doin a good thing. A boy dies for nothin. A man dies for somethin. You a real man today." The knife slid effortlessly through the skin of the boy's throat. Mallard flipped him over a rock and let the blood drain into the creek. He thought maybe the gold spirits would like that. It didn't take long, being as he was draining from both ends. With a flick of his wrist he change the position of his skinning knife and got to work.