Rimrock jones, p.1
Produced by Al Haines
[Frontispiece: And as he passed, he looked inunder the shadow of his hat, and toucheda bag that was tied behind his saddle]
THE DESERT TRAIL
GEORGE W. GAGE
GROSSET & DUNLAP
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY
W. J. WATT & COMPANY
I. THE MAN WITH A GUN II. WHEN RICHES FLY III. MISS FORTUNE IV. AS A LOAN V. THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN VI. RIMROCK PASSES VII. BUT COMES BACK FOR MORE VIII. A FLIER IN STOCKS IX. YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND X. THE FIGHT FOR THE OLD JUAN XI. A LITTLE TROUBLE XII. RIMROCK'S BIG DAY XIII. THE MORNING AFTER XIV. RIMROCK EXPLAINS XV. A GAME FOR BIG STAKES XVI. THE TIGER LADY XVII. AN AFTERTHOUGHT XVIII. NEW YORK XIX. WHERE ALL MEN MEET XX. A LETTER FROM THE SECRETARY XXI. THE SECOND ANNUAL MEETING XXII. A FOOL XXIII. SOLD OUT XXIV. THE NEW YEAR XXV. AN ACCOUNTING XXVI. A CHAPTER OF HATE XXVII. THE SHOW-DOWN XXVIII. A GIFT XXIX. RIMROCK DOES IT HIMSELF
And as he passed, he looked in under the shadowof his hat, and touched a bag that was tiedbehind his saddle . . . _Frontispiece_
Rimrock Jones left town with four burro-loadsof powder, some provisions and a cargo of tools
That was Rimrock's notice, but now it was voidfor the hour was long after twelve
RIM ROCK JONES
THE MAN WITH A GUN
The peace of midday lay upon Gunsight, broken only by the distant_chang, chang_ of bells as a ten-mule ore-team came toiling in from themines. In the cool depths of the umbrella tree in front of theCompany's office a Mexican ground-dove crooned endlessly his ancientsong of love, but Gunsight took no notice. Its thoughts were not oflove but of money.
The dusty team of mules passed down the street, dragging theirdouble-trees reluctantly, and took their cursing meekly as they madethe turn at the tracks. A switch engine bumped along the sidings,snaking ore-cars down to the bins and bunting them up to the chutes,but except for its bangings and clamor the town was still. An agedMexican, armed with a long bunch of willow brush, swept idly at thesprinkled street and Old Hassayamp Hicks, the proprietor of the AlamoSaloon, leaned back in his rawhide chair and watched him withgood-natured contempt.
The town was dead, after a manner of speaking, and yet it was not dead.In the Gunsight Hotel where the officials of the Company left theirwomen-folks to idle and fret and gossip, there was a restless flash ofwhite from the upper veranda; and in the office below Andrew McBain,the aggressive President of the Gunsight Mining and Developing Company,paced nervously to and fro as he dictated letters to a typist. Hepaused, and as the clacking stopped a woman who had been reading anovel on the veranda rose up noiselessly and listened over the railing.The new typist was really quite deaf--one could hear every word thatwas said. She was pretty, too,--and--well, she dressed too well, forone thing.
But McBain was not making love to his typist. He had stopped with aword on his lips and stood gazing out the window. The new typist hadlearned to read faces and she followed his glance with a start. Whowas this man that Andrew McBain was afraid of? He came riding in fromthe desert, a young man, burly and masterful, mounted on a buckskinhorse and with a pistol slung low on his leg. McBain turned white, hisstern lips drew tighter and he stood where he had stopped in his stridelike a wolf that has seen a fierce dog; then suddenly he swung forwardagain and his voice rang out harsh and defiant. The new typist tookthe words down at haphazard, for her thoughts were not on her work.She was thinking of the man with a gun. He had gone by without aglance, and yet McBain was afraid of him.
A couple of card players came out of the Alamo and stopped to talk withHassayamp.
"Well, bless my soul," exclaimed the watchful Hassayamp as he suddenlybrought his chair down with a bump, "if hyer don't come that locoedscoundrel, Rimrock! Say, that boy's crazy, don't you know he is--jestlook at that big sack of rocks!"
He rose up heavily and stepped out into the street, shading his eyesfrom the glare of the sun.
"Hello thar, Rimmy!" he rumbled bluffly as the horseman waved his hand,"whar you been so long, and nothin' heard of you? There's been a womanhyer, enquirin' for you, most every day for a month now!"
"'S that so?" responded Rimrock guardedly. "Well, say, boys, I'vestruck it rich!"
He leaned back to untie a sack of ore, but Old Hassayamp was not to bedeterred.
"Yes sir," he went on opening up his eyes triumphantly, "a widdywoman--says you owe her two-bits for some bread!"
He laughed uproariously at this pointed jest and clambered back to theplank sidewalk where he sat down convulsed in his chair.
"Aw, you make me tired!" said Rimrock shortly. "You know I don't oweno woman."
"You owe every one else, though," came back Hassayamp with a Texasyupe; "I got you there, boy. You shore cain't git around that!"
"Huh!" grunted Rimrock as he swung lightly to the ground. "Two bits,maybe! Four bits! A couple of dollars! What's that to talk aboutwhen a man is out after millions? Is my credit good for the drinks?Well, come on in then, boys; and I'll show you something good!"
He led the way through the swinging doors and Hassayamp followedponderously. The card players followed also and several cowboys,appearing as if by miracle, lined up along with the rest. OldHassayamp looked them over grimly, breathed hard and spread out theglasses.
"Well, all right, Rim," he observed, "between friends--but don't bid inthe whole town."
"When I drink, my friends drink," answered Rimrock and tossed off hisfirst drink in a month. "Now!" he went on, fetching out his sack,"I'll show you something good!"
He poured out a pile of blue-gray sand and stood away from itadmiringly.
Old Hassayamp drew out his glasses and balanced them on his nose, thenhe gazed at the pile of sand.
"Well," he said, "what is it, anyway?"
"It's copper, by grab, mighty nigh ten per cent copper, and you canscoop it up with a shovel. There's worlds of it, Hassayamp, a wholedoggoned mountain! That's the trouble, there's almost too much! Ican't handle it, man, it'll take millions to do it; but believe me, themillions are there. All I need is a stake now, just a couple ofthousand dollars----"
"Huh!" grunted Hassayamp looking up over his glasses, "you don't reckonI've got that much, do you, to sink in a pile of _sand_?"
"If not you, then somebody else," replied Rimrock confidently. "Somefeller that's out looking for sand. I heard about a sport over inLondon that tried on a bet to sell five-pound notes for a shilling.That's like me offering to sell you twenty-five dollars for the Englishequivalent of two bits. And d'ye think he could get anyone to take'em? He stood up on a soap box and waved those notes in the air, butd'ye think he could get anybody to buy?"
He paused with a cynical smile and looked Hassayamp in the eye.
"Well--no," conceded Hassayamp weakly.
"You bet your life he could!" snapped back Rimrock. "A guy came alongthat knowed. He took one look at those five-pound notes and handed upfifty cents."
"'I'll take two of 'em,' he says; and walks off with fifty dollars!"
Rimrock scooped up his despised sand and poured it back into the bag,after which he turned on his heel. As the doors swung to behind himOld Hassayamp looked at his customers and shook his head impressively.From the street outside Rimrock could be heard telling a Mexican inSpanish to take his horse to the corrals. He was master of Gunsightyet, though all his money had vanished and his credit would buy nothingbut the d
"Well, what d'ye know about that?" observed Hassayamp meditatively."By George, sometimes I almost think that boy is right!"
He cleared his throat and hobbled towards the door and the crowd tookthe hint to disperse.
On the edge of the shady sidewalk Rimrock Jones, the follower after bigdreams, sat silent, balancing the sack of ore in a bronzed androck-scarred hand. He was a powerful man, with the broad, square-setshoulders that come from much swinging of a double jack or cranking ata windlass. The curling beard of youth had covered his hard-bittenface and his head was unconsciously thrust forward, as if he stillglimpsed his vision and was eager to follow it further. The crowdsettled down and gazed at him curiously, for they knew he had a storyto tell, and at last the great Rimrock sighed and looked at hiswork-worn hands.
"Hard going," he said, glancing up at Hassayamp. "I've got a ten-foothole to sink on twenty different claims, no powder, and nothing butMexicans for help. But I sure turned up some good ore--she gets richerthe deeper you go."
"Any gold?" enquired Hassayamp hopefully.
"Yes, but pocketty. I leave all that chloriding to the Mexicans whileI do my discovery work. They've got some picked rock on the dump."
"Why don't you quit that dead work and do a little chloriding yourself?Pound out a little gold--that's the way to get a stake!"
Old Hassayamp spat the words out impatiently, but Rimrock seemed hardlyto hear.
"Nope," he said, "no pocket-mining for me. There's copper there,millions of tons of it. I'll make my winning yet."
"Huh!" grunted Hassayamp, and Rimrock came out of his trance.
"You don't think so, hey?" he challenged and then his face softened toa slow, reminiscent smile.
"Say, Hassayamp," he said, "did you ever hear about that prospectorthat found a thousand pounds of gold in one chunk? He was lost on thedesert, plumb out of water and forty miles from nowhere. He couldn'ttake the chunk along with him and if he left it there the sand wouldcover it up. Now what was that poor feller to do?"
"Well, what did he do?" enquired Hassayamp cautiously.
"He couldn't make up his mind," answered Rimrock, "so he stayed theretill he starved to death."
"You're plumb full of these sayings and parables, ain't you?" remarkedHassayamp sarcastically. "What's that got to do with the case?"
"Well," began Rimrock, sitting down on the edge of the sidewalk andlooking absently up the street, "take me, for instance. I go outacross the desert to the Tecolotes and find a whole mountain of copper.You don't have to chop it out with chisels, like that native copperaround the Great Lakes; and you don't have to go underground and dotimbering like they do around Bisbee and Cananea. All you have to dois to shoot it down and scoop it up with a steam shovel. Now I'velocated the whole danged mountain and done most of my discovery work,but if some feller don't give me a boost, like taking that prospector acanteen of water, I've either got to lose my mine or sit down andstarve to death. If I'd never done anything, it'd be different, butyou know that I _made_ the Gunsight."
He leaned forward and fixed the saloon keeper with his earnest eyes andOld Hassayamp held up both hands.
"Yes, yes, boy, I know!" he broke out hurriedly. "Don't talk tome--I'm convinced. But by George, Rim, you can spend more money andhave less to show for it than any man I know. What's the use? That'swhat we all say. What's the use of staking you when you'll turn rightaround in front of us and throw the money away? Ain't I staked you?Ain't L. W. staked you?"
"Yes! And he broke me, too!" answered Rimrock, raising his voice to adefiant boom. "Here he comes now, the blue-faced old dastard!"
He thrust out his jaw and glared up the street where L. W. Lockhart,the local banker, came stumping down the sidewalk. L. W. was tall andrangy, with a bulldog jaw clamped down on a black cigar, and an air ofabsolute detachment from his surroundings.
"Yes, I mean you!" shouted Rimrock insultingly as L. W. went grimlypast. "You claim to be a white man, and then stand in with that lawyerto beat me out of my mine. I made you, you old nickel-pincher, and nowyou go by me and don't even say: 'Have a drink!'"
"You're drunk!" retorted Lockhart, looking back over his shoulder, andRimrock jumped to his feet.
"I'll show you!" he cried, starting angrily after him, and L. W. turnedswiftly to meet him.
"You'll show me _what_?" he demanded coldly as Rimrock put his hand tohis gun.
"Never mind!" answered Rimrock. "You know you jobbed me. I let you inon a good thing and you sold me out to McBain. I want some money andif you don't give it to me I'll--I'll go over and collect from him."
"Oh, you want some money, hey?" repeated Lockhart. "I thought you wasgoing to _show_ me something!"
The banker scowled as he rolled his cigar, but there was a twinkle farback in his eyes. "You're bad now, ain't you?" he continuedtauntingly. "You're just feeling awful! You're going to jump on LonLockhart and stomp him into the ground! Huh!"
"Aw, shut your mouth!" answered Rimrock defiantly, "I never said a wordabout fight."
"Uhhr!" grunted L. W. and put his hand in his pocket at which Rimrockbecame suddenly expectant.
"Henry Jones," began the banker, "I knowed your father and he was anhonorable, hardworking man. You're nothing but a bum and you'regetting worse--why don't you go and put up that gun?"
"I don't have to!" retorted Rimrock but he moved up closer and therewas a wheedling turn to his voice. "Just two thousand dollars,Lon--that's all I ask of you--and I'll give you a share in my mine.Didn't I come to you first, when I discovered the Gunsight, and giveyou the very best claim? And you ditched me, L. W., dad-burn you, youknow it; you sold me out to McBain. But I've got something now thatruns up into millions! All it needs is a little more work!"
"Yes, and forty miles of railroad," put in L. W. intolerantly. "Iwouldn't take the whole works for a gift!"
"No, but Lon, I'm lucky--you know that yourself--I can go East and sellthe old mine."
"Oh, you're lucky, are you?" interrupted L. W. "Well, how come thenthat you're standing here, broke? But here, I've got business, I'llgive you ten dollars--and remember, it's the last that you get!"
He drew out a bill, but Rimrock stood looking at him with a slow andcontemptuous smile.
"Yes, you doggoned old screw," he answered ungraciously, "what goodwill ten dollars do?"
"You can get just as drunk on that," replied L. W. pointedly, "as youcould on a hundred thousand!"
A change came over Rimrock's face, the swift mirroring of some greatidea, and he reached out and grabbed the money.
"Where you going?" demanded L. W. as he started across the street.
"None of your business," answered Rimrock curtly, but he headedstraight for the Mint.
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