Rimrock jones, p.6
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       Rimrock Jones, p.6

           Dane Coolidge
 

  CHAPTER VI

  RIMROCK PASSES

  In the big moments of life when we have triumphed over difficulties andquaffed the heady wine of success there is always something--or thelack of something--to bring us back to earth. Rimrock Jones hadreturned in a Christmas spirit and had taken Gunsight by storm. He hadrewarded his friends and rebuked his enemies and all those who grinddown the poor. He had humbled L. W. and driven McBain into hiding; andnow this girl, this deaf, friendless typist, had snatched the cup fromhis lips. The neatly turned speech--the few well-chosen words in whichhe had intended to express his appreciation for her help--were effacedfrom his memory and in their place there came a doubt, a dimquestioning of his own worth. What had he done, or neglected to do,that had taken that look from her eyes? He sank down in a chair andregarded her intently as she sat there, composed and still.

  "Well, it's been quite a while," he said at last, "since I've beenround to see you."

  "Yes, it has," she replied and the way she said it raised a morepoignant question in his mind. Was she miffed, perhaps, because he hadfailed to call on her, that time when he came back to town? He hadborrowed her money--she might have been worried, that time when he wentto New York.

  "I just got in, a little while ago--been back to New York about mymine. Well, it's doing all right now and I've come around to see youand pay back that money I owe."

  "Oh, that four hundred dollars? Why, I don't want it back. You wereto give me a share in your mine."

  Rimrock stopped with his roll half out of his pocket and gazed at herlike a man struck dumb. A share in his mine! He put the money backand mopped the sudden sweat from his brow.

  "Well, now say," he began, "I've made other arrangements. I've sold abig share already. But I'll give you the money, it'll come to the samething!" He whipped out his roll and smiled at her hopefully but shedrew back and shook her head.

  "No," she said, "I don't want your money. I want a share in that mine."

  She faced him, determined, and Rimrock went weak for he remembered thatshe had his word. He had given his word and unless she excused him hewould have to make it good. And if he did--well, right there he wouldlose control of his mine.

  "Say, now listen a minute," he began mysteriously, "I'm not tellingthis on the street----"

  "Well, don't tell it here, then," she interrupted hastily, "they'relistening, most of the time."

  She pointed towards the door that led to the hotel lobby and Rimrocktiptoed towards it. He was just in time, as he snatched it open, tosee McBain bounding up the back stairs; and a woman in a rocker, aftera guilty stare, rose up and moved hastily away.

  "Well, well," observed Rimrock as he banged the door. "I don't knowwhich is worse, these women or peeping Andrew McBain. Are you stillworking for that fellow?" he enquired confidentially as he sat down andspoke low in her 'phone; and for the first time that day the smile cameback and dwelt for a moment in her eyes.

  "Yes," she answered, "I still do his work for him. What's thematter--don't you fully approve?"

  Her gaze was a challenge and he let it pass with a grin and a jerk ofthe head.

  "Just sorry for you," he said. "You'd better take this money and get ajob with a man that's half white."

  He drew out his roll and counted out four thousand dollars and laidthem before her on the desk.

  "Now listen," he began. "That four hundred then was worth fourthousand to me now. I had to have it, and I sure appreciate it--nowjust accept that as a payment in part."

  He pushed over the money, but she shook her head and met his gaze withresolute eyes.

  "Not much," she said, "I don't want your money and, what's more, Iwon't accept it. I gave you four hundred dollars--all the money Ihad--to get me a share in that mine, and now I want it. I don't carehow much, but I want a share in that mine."

  Rimrock shoved back his chair and once more the sweat appeared on histroubled brow. He rose up softly and peeped out the door, then cameback and sat very close.

  "What's the idea?" he asked. "Has some one been telling you who I'vegot in with me on this deal? Well, what's the matter then? Why won'tyou take the money? I'll give you more than you could get for thestock."

  "No, all my life it's been my ambition to own a share in a mine.That's why I gave you the last of my money--I had confidence in yourmine from the start."

  "Well, what did you think, then?" enquired Rimrock sardonically, "whenI jumped out of town without seeing you? You'd have sold out cheap, ifI'd've come to you then, but now everybody knows I've won."

  "Never mind what I thought," she answered darkly, "I took a chance, andI won."

  "Say, you're strictly business, now ain't you?" observed Rimrock andmuttered under his breath. "How much of a share do you expect me togive you?" he asked after a long anxious pause and her eyes lit up andwere veiled.

  "Whatever you say," she answered quietly and then: "I believe youmentioned fifty-fifty--an undivided half."

  "My--God!" exclaimed Rimrock starting wildly to his feet. "Youdon't--say, you didn't think I meant that?"

  "Why, no," she said with a faint flicker of venom, "I didn't, to tellyou the truth. That's why I told you I was talking business; but yousaid: 'Well, so am I.'"

  "Well, holy Jehosophrats!" cursed Rimrock to himself and turned to lookher straight in the eyes.

  "Now let's get down to business," he went on sternly, "what do youwant, and where am I at?"

  "I want a share in that mine," she answered evenly, "whatever you thinkis right."

  "Oh, that's the deal! You don't want fifty-fifty? You leave what itis to me?"

  "That's what I said from the very first. And as for fifty-fifty--no,certainly I do not."

  There were tears, half of anger, gathering back in her eyes, butRimrock took no thought of that.

  "Oh, you don't like my style, eh?" he came back resentfully. "All youwant out of me is my money."

  "No, I don't!" she retorted. "I don't want your money! I want a sharein that mine!"

  "Say, who are you, anyway?" burst out Rimrock explosively. "Are yousome wise one that's on the inside?"

  "That's none of your business," she answered sharply, "you weresatisfied when you took all my money."

  "That's right," agreed Rimrock rubbing his jaw reflectively, "that'sright, it was no questions asked. Now, say, I'm excited--I ought notto talk that way--I want to explain to you just how I'm fixed. I wentback to New York and organized a company and gave one man forty-nineper cent. of my stock. He puts up the money and I put up the mine--andrun it, absolutely. If I give you any stock I lose control of my mine;so I'm going to ask you to let me off."

  He drew out his roll--that banded sheaf of yellow notes that he lovedso dearly to flash--and began slowly to count off the bills.

  "When you think it's enough," he went on ponderously, "you can say so,but I need all that stock."

  He laid out the bills, one after another, and the girl settled back inher chair. "That's ten," he observed, "these are thousand-dollarbills--well, there's twelve, then--I'll make it thirteen." He glancedup expectantly, but she gave no sign and Rimrock dealt impassively on."Well, fourteen--lots of money. Say, how much do you want? Fifteenthousand--you only gave me four hundred. Sixteen, seventeen--well, youget the whole roll; but say, girl, I can't give you that stock."

  He threw down the last bill and faced her appealingly, but she answeredwith a hard little laugh.

  "You've got to," she said. "I don't want your money. I want one percent. of your stock."

  "What, of what I've got left? Oh, of the whole capital stock! Well,that only leaves me fifty per cent."

  "That's one way of looking at it. Now look at it another way. Don'tyou think I'm entitled to that? Don't you think if I'd said when Igave you that money: 'All I want is one per cent. of your mine'--don'tyou think now, honestly, that you'd have said: 'All right!' and agreedto it on the spot?"

  She looked at him squarely and the fair-fighti
ng Rimrock had to agree,though reluctantly, that she was right.

  "Well, now that you've won when nobody expected you to, now that you'vegot money enough to get the whole town drunk, is that any reason whyyou should come to a poor typist and ask her to give up her rights?I'm putting it frankly and unless you can answer me I want you to giveme that stock."

  "Well, all right, I'll do it," answered Rimrock impulsively. "Ipromised you, and that's enough. But you've got to agree not to sellthat stock--and to vote it with me, every time."

  "Very well," she said, "I'll agree not to sell it--at least not to anyone but you. And as far as the voting goes, I think we can arrangethat; I'll vote for whatever seems right."

  "No, right or wrong!" challenged Rimrock instantly. "I'm not going tobe beat out of my mine!"

  "What do you mean?" she demanded. "I hope you don't think----"

  "Never mind what I think," answered Rimrock grimly, "I got bit once,and that's enough. I lost the old Gunsight just by trusting myfriends, and this time I'm not trusting anybody."

  "Oh, you're one of these cynics, these worldly-wise fellows that havelost all their faith in mankind? I've seen them before, but it wasn'tmuch trouble to find somebody else that _they'd_ wronged!"

  She said the words bitterly with a lash to her tongue that cut RimrockJones to the quick. It had always been his boast that there was no manor woman that could claim he had done them a wrong, and he answeredback sharply, while the anger was upon him, that he was not and therewas no such thing.

  "Well, if that's the case, then," she suggested delicately but with atouch of malice in her smile, "it seems rather personal to begin nowwith me, and take away my right to vote. Did this man in New York,when he bought into your company, agree to vote with you, right orwrong? Well then, why should I? Wasn't my money just as necessary,when I gave it to you, as his was when he gave it, later?"

  "Oh--" Rimrock choked back an oath and then fell back on personalitiesto refute her maddening logic.

  "Say, your father was a judge," he burst out insultingly. "Was he apromoted lawyer, too; or did you learn that line of talk from McBain?"

  "Never mind about that. You haven't answered my question. Wasn't mymoney just as necessary as his? It was! Yes, you know it. Well,then, why should you choose me for the very first person that you everintentionally wronged?"

  "Well, by grab," moaned Rimrock, slumping down in his chair as he sawhis last argument gone, "it was a black day for me when I took thatfour hundred from you. I'd have done a heap better to have held upsome Chinaman or made old L. W. come through. And to be trimmed by awoman! Well, gimme your paper and I'll sign whatever you write!"

  She drew in her lips and gazed at him resentfully; then, sitting downat her typewriter, she thought for a minute and rattled off a singlesentence. Rimrock took the paper and signed it blindly, then stoppedand read what it was.

  "I, Henry (Rimrock) Jones, for value received, hereby agree to give toMary Roget Fortune, one per cent. of the total capital stock of theTecolote Mining Company."

  "Yes, all right," he said. "You'll get your stock just as soon as Iget it from the East. And now I hope, by the Lord, you're satisfied."

  "Yes, I am," she answered and smiled cryptically.

  "Well, I pass!" he exploded and, struggling to his feet, he lurched outupon the street.

 
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