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The winning of barbara worth


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Title:TheWinningofBarbaraWorth
Author:HaroldBellWright
PostingDate:August7,2012[EBook#6997]ReleaseDate:November,2004
FirstPosted:February20,2003
Language:English
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BARBARAWORTH***

ProducedbyCharlesFranksandtheOnlineDistributedProofreadingTeam.

[Illustration:Barbara.OftenasBarbarasatlookingoverthatgreatbasinher
heartcriedouttoknowthesecretitheld.]


THEWINNINGOFBARBARAWORTH

BY
HAROLDBELLWRIGHT


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
WhilethisstoryisnotinanywayahistoryofthispartoftheColoradoDesert
nowknownastheImperialValley,norabiographyofanyoneconnectedwith
thissplendidachievement,Imustinhonestyadmitthatthisworkwhichinthe
pasttenyearshastransformedavast,desolatewasteintoabeautifullandof
homes,cities,andfarms,hasbeenmyinspiration.
Withmuchgratitudefortheirmanyhelpfulkindnesses,Iacknowledgemy
indebtednesstoH.T.Cory,F.C.Hermann,C.R.Rockwood,C.N.Perry,E.H.
Gaines,RoyKinkaidandthelateGeorgeSexsmith,engineersandsurveyors
identifiedwiththisreclamationwork;toW.K.Bowker,SidneyMcHarg,C.E.
Paris,andmanyotherbusinessfriendsandneighboringranchersamongour
pioneers;andtoWilliamMulholland,ChiefEngineeroftheLosAngeles
Aqueduct.
IamparticularlyindebtedtoC.K.Clarke,AssistantManagerandChief
EngineeroftheCaliforniaDevelopmentCompany,andtoAllenKelly,whose
knowledge,insightandobservationsasajournalistandasastudentof
ReclamationintheFarWesthavebeeninvaluabletome.
Tomyfriend,Mr.W.F.Holt,inappreciationofhislifeandofhisworkinthe
ImperialValley,thisstoryisinscribed.H.B.W.
TecoloteRancho,April25,1911.

"Givefoolstheirgold,andknavestheirpower;


Letfortune'sbubblesriseandfall,
Whosowsafield,ortrainsaflower,
Orplantsatree,ismorethanall."


CONTENTS
I.INTOTHEINFINITELONGAGO
II.JEFFERSONWORTH'SOFFERING
III.MISSBARBARAWORTH
IV.YOU'DBETTERMAKEITNINETY
V.WHATTHEINDIANTOLDTHESEER
VI.THESTANDARDOFTHEWEST


VII.DON'TYOULIKEMYDESERT,MR.HOLMES?
VIII.WHYWILLARDHOLMESSTAYED
IX.THEMASTERPASSION—"GOODBUSINESS"
X.BARBARA'SLOVEFORTHESEER
XI.ABELEERESIGNS
XII.SIGNSOFCONFLICT
XIII.BARBARA'SCALLTOHERFRIENDS
XIV.MUCHCONFUSIONANDHAPPYEXCITEMENT
XV.BARBARACOMESINTOHEROWN
XVI.JEFFERSONWORTH'SOPERATIONS
XVII.JAMESGREENFIELDSEEKSANADVANTAGE


XVIII.THEGAMEPROGRESSES
XIX.GATHEREDATBARBARA'SCOURT
XX.WHATTHESTAKESREVEALED
XXI.PABLOBRINGSNEWSTOBARBARA
XXII.GATHERINGOFOMINOUSFORCES
XXIII.EXACTINGROYALTRIBUTE
XXIV.JEFFERSONWORTHGOESFORHELP
XXV.WILLARDHOLMESONTRIAL
XXVI.HELDINSUSPENSE
XXVII.ABELEE'SRIDETOSAVEJEFFERSONWORTH
XXVIII.WHATTHECOMPANYMANTOLDTHEMEXICANS
XXIX.TELLBARBARAI'MALLRIGHT
XXX.MANANA!MANANA!TO-MORROW!TO-MORROW!
XXXI.BARBARA'SWAITIN'BREAKFASTFORYOU
XXXII.BARBARAMINISTERSTOTHEWOUNDED
XXXIII.WILLARDHOLMESRECEIVESHISANSWER
XXXIV.BATTLINGWITHTHERIVER
XXXV.NATUREANDHUMANNATURE
XXXVI.OUTOFTHEHOLLOWOFGOD'SHAND
XXXVII.BACKTOTHEOLDSANFELIPETRAIL
XXXVIII.THEHERITAGEOFBARBARAWORTH


ILLUSTRATIONS
DrawnbyF.GRAHAMCOOTES
OFTENASBARBARASATLOOKINGOVERTHATGREATBASINHERHEARTCRIEDOUT
TOKNOWTHESECRETITHELD.
HEHADLIFTEDTHECANTEENANDWASHOLDINGITUPSIDEDOWN.
"BUTIDON'TRIDE,YOUKNOW."
MORETOREGAINHISCOMPOSURETHANBECAUSEHEWASTHIRSTY,HELPED
HIMSELFFROMTHEEARTHENWATERJAR.
"ADIOS.TELLBARBARAI'MALLRIGHT."
WITHOUTAWORD—FORNOWORDWASNEEDED—THEIRHANDSMETINAFIRMGRIP.

TheWinningofBarbaraWorth


CHAPTERI.
INTOTHEINFINITELONGAGO.

JeffersonWorth'soutfitoffourmulesandabigwagonpulledoutofSanFelipe
atdaybreak,headedforRubioCity.Fromtheswingingredtasselsonthebridles
oftheleaderstothegalvanizedironwaterbucketdanglingfromthetailofthe
reachbackoftherearaxletheoutfitworeanunmistakableairofprosperity.The
wagonwasloadedonlywithawell-stocked"grub-box,"thefewnecessarycamp
cookingutensils,blanketsandcanvastarpaulin,withrolledbarleyandbalesof
hayfortheteam,andtwowaterbarrels—empty.Hangingbyitscanvasstrap
fromthespringofthedriver'sseatwasalarge,cloth-coveredcanteen.Behind
thedrivertherewasanotherseatofthesamewide,comfortabletype,butthe
manwhoheldthereinswasapparentlyalone.JeffersonWorthwasnotwithhis
outfit.
Bysendingtheheavywagononaheadandfollowinglaterwithafasterteamand
alightbuckboard,Mr.Worthcouldjoinhisoutfitincampthatnight,savingthus
atleastanotherhalfdayforbusinessinSanFelipe.JeffersonWorth,ashe
himselfwouldhaveputit,"figuredonthevalueoftime."IndeedJefferson
Worthfiguredonthevalueofnearlyeverything.
NowSanFelipe,youmustknow,iswherethebigshipscomeinandtheair
tingleswiththeelectricityofcommerceasmenfromalllands,drivenbythe
masterpassionofhumankind—GoodBusiness—seekeachhisown.
ButRubioCity,thoughbornofthatsamemasterpassionoftherace,iswherethe
thinedgeofcivilizationisthinnest,ontheColoradoRiver,milesbeyondthe
CoastRangeMountains,onthefarthersideofthatdreadfullandwherethe
thirstyatmosphereischargedwiththeawfulsilenceofuncountedages.
Betweenthesetwoscenesofman'sactivity,sodifferentandyetsolike,and


crossingthusthelandofmystory,therewasonlyarudetrail—twohundredand
morehardandlonelymilesofit—theonlymarkofmaninallthatdesolate
wasteanditselfmarkedeverymilebythegravesofmenandbythebleached
bonesoftheircattle.
Allthatforenoon,oneverysideoftheoutfit,thebeautifullifeofthecoast
countrythrobbedandexulted.Itcalledfromtheheavingoceanwithitsmany
gleamingsailsanddarkdriftingsteamersmokeunderthewidesky;itsangfrom
theharborwheretheladenshipsmeetthelongtrainsthatcomeandgoontheir
continentalerrands;itcriedloudlyfromthebusystreetsofvillageandtownand
laughedoutfromfieldandorchard.Butalwaystheroadledtowardthose
mountainsthatliftedtheiroak-cladshouldersandpine-fringedridgesacrossthe
wayasthoughindarkandsolemnwarningtoanywhoshoulddaresettheir
facestowardthedreadfullandofwantanddeaththatlayontheirotherside.
Intheafternooneverymilebroughtscenesmorelonelyuntil,inthefoothills,
thatcreepingbitoflifeonthehardoldtrailwasforgottenbythebusyworld
behind,evenasitseemedtoforgetthattherewasanywhereanylifeotherthan
itscreepingself.
Asthesweatingmulespulledstronglyuptheheavygradesthemanonthehigh
seatofthewagonrepaidtheindifferenceofhissurroundingswithalike
indifference.Unmovedbytheforbiddinggrimnessofthemountains,
unthoughtfuloftheirsolemnwarning,hetookhisplaceasmuchapartofthe
lonelysceneasthehillsthemselves.Slouchingeasilyinhisseathegaveheed
onlytohisteamandtotheroadahead.Whenhespoketothemuleshisvoice
wasasoft,good-natureddrawl,asthoughhespokefromoutapleasingreverie,
andthoughhiswordswereoftenhardwordstheywerecarriedtotheanimalson
anunder-currentoffellowshipandunderstanding.Thelongwhip,withcoiled
lash,wasinitssocketattheendoftheseat.Thestopswerefrequent.Wiseinthe
wisdomoftheunfencedcountryandknowingthelandahead,thisdriverwould
conserveeveryounceofhisteam'sstrengthagainstapossibletimeofgreatneed.
Theywerecreepingacrossaflankofthehillwhentheoff-leadersprangtothe
leftsoviolentlythatnothingbuttheinstinctivebracingofhistrace-mateheld
themfromgoingoverthegrade.Thesameinstantthewheelteamrepeatedthe
maneuver,butnotsoquickly,astheslouchingfigureontheseatspranginto
action.Aquickstrongpullonthereins,asharpyell:"You,Buck!Molly!"anda
rattlingvolleyofstrongtalkswungthefourbackintothenarrowroadbeforethe


frontwheelswereoutofthetrack.
Withacrashtheheavybrakewasset.Theteamstopped.Asthedriverhalfrose
andturnedtolookbackheslippedthereinstohislefthandandhisrightdropped
tohiship.Withamotiontooquickfortheeyetofollowthefreearm
straightenedandthemountainechoedwildlytotheloudreportofaforty-five.
Bythesideoftheroadintherearofthewagonarattlesnakeuncoileditslength
andwrithedslowlyinthedust.
Beforetheechoesoftheshothaddiedawayamad,inarticulateroarcamefrom
thedepthsofthewagonbox.Theroarwasfollowedbyathickstreamofoathsin
anunmistakablyIrishvoice.Thedriver,whowasslippingafreshcartridgeinto
thecylinder,lookeduptoseeamangraspingthebackoftherearseatfor
supportwhilerisingunsteadilytohisfeet.
TheIrishman,ashestoodglaringfiercelyatthemanwhohadsorudely
awakenedhim,waswithouthatorcoat,andwithbitsofhayclingingtoasoiled
shirtthatwasunbuttonedatthehairythroat,presentedaremarkablefigure.His
heavybodywasfittedwithlegslikeposts;hiswideshouldersanddeepchest,
witharmstomatchhislegs,weresohugeastoappearalmostgrotesque;his
roundhead,withitstumbledthatchofsandyhair,wassetonathickbull-neck;
whilealloverthebigbonesofhimthehardmuscleslayinvisibleknotsand
bunches.Theunsteadypoise,thered,unshaven,sweatingface,andtheangry,
blood-shoteyes,revealedthereasonforhissleepundersuchuncomfortable
circumstances.Thesilentdrivergazedathisfearsomepassengerwithcalmeyes
thatseemedtoholdintheirdarkdepthsthemysteryofmanyastillnightunder
thestillstars.
Inavoicethatrumbledupfromhishairychest—ahusky,menacinggrowl—the
Irishmandemanded:"Fwhatthehelldoyemane,dishturbin'thepeacewidyer
clamor?ForlessthanasupavwatherI'dgoovertoyewidmetwohands."
Calmlytheotherdroppedhisgunintoitsholster.Pointingtothecanteenthat
hungoverthesideofthewagonfastenedbyitscanvasstraptotheseatspring,
hedrawledsoftly:"There'sthewater.Helpyourself,stranger."
Thegladiator,withoutaword,reachedforthecanteenandwithhuge,hairypaws
liftedittohislips.Afteradraughtofprodigiouslengthheheavedalongsigh
andwipedhismouthwiththebackofhishand.Thenheturnedhisfierceeyes


againonthedriverasiftoinquirewhatmannerofpersonhemightbewhohad
sounceremoniouslychallengedhisthreat.
TheIrishmansawaman,tallandspare,butofastringy,toughandsupple
leannessthatgavehimthelookofbeingfashionedbytheout-of-doors.He,too,
wascoatlessbutworeavestunbuttonedoveraloose,coarseshirt.Aredbandana
wasknottedeasilyabouthisthroat.Withhiswide,high-crownedhat,rough
trouserstuckedinlongboots,laced-leatherwristguardsandthelooselybuckled
cartridgebeltwithitslongforty-five,hisverydressexpressedtheeasyfreedom
ofthewildlands,whilethedark,thinface,accentedbyjetblackhairandalong,
straightmustache,hadthelookofthewide,sun-burnedplains.
Withagruntthatmighthaveexpressedeitherapprovalorcontempt,the
Irishmanturnedandgropingaboutinthewagonfoundasorrywreckofahat.
Againhestoopedandthistime,frombetweenthebalesofhay,liftedacoat,fit
companiontothehat.Carefullyhefeltthroughpocketafterpocket.Hissearch
wasrewardedbyashort-stemmedclaypipeandthehalfofamatch—nothing
more.Withaneffortheexploredthepocketsofhistrousers.Thenagainhe
searchedthecoat;mutteringtohimselfbrokensentences,notthelessexpressive
becauseincomplete:"Wherethedivil—Nowdon'tthatbate—Well,I'llbe—"
Withatempernotimprovedbyhislosshethrewdownthegarmentindisgust
andlookedupangrily.Thesilentdriverwasholdingtowardhimasackof
tobacco.
TheIrishman,withanothergrunt,crawledundertheemptyseatandclimbing
heavilyoverthebackoftheseatinfront,plantedhimselfstolidlybythedriver's
side.Fillinghispipewithcareanddeliberationhereturnedthesacktoitsowner
andstruckthehalf-matchalongonepost-likeleg.Shieldingthetinyflamewith
hishandsbeforeapplyingthelightheremarkedthoughtfully:"Yeareadanged
recklessfooltobesodishturbin'mehonestslapebyexplodin'thatcannonye
carry.'Tisonmemindtodisciplineyeforsichoutrageousconduct."Thelast
wordwasfollowedbyloud,smackingpuffs,ashestartedthefireinthepipebowlunderhisnose.
WhiletheIrishmanwasagainutteringhisthreat,thedriver,withaskillfultwist,
rolledacigaretteand,leaningforwardjustinthenickoftime,hedeliberately
sharedthehalf-matchwithhisblusteringcompanion.Inthatinstanttheblue
eyesabovethepipelookedstraightintotheblackeyesabovethecigarette,anda
fainttwinkleofapprovalmetaseriousglanceofunderstanding.


Gatheringuphisreinsandsortingthemcarefully,thedriverspoketohisteam:
"You,Buck!Molly!Jack!Pete!"Themulesheavedahead.Againthesilenceof
theworld-oldhillswasshatteredbytherattlingrumbleoftheheavy-tiredwagon
andtheringandclatterofiron-shodhoofs.
StolidlytheIrishmanpulledattheshort-stemmedpipe,thewagonseatsagging
heavilywithhisweightateveryjoltofthewheels,whilefromunderhistattered
hatrimhisfierceeyeslookedoutuponthewildlandscapewithoccasionalside
glancesathissilent,indifferentcompanion.
Againtheteamwashaltedforarestontheheavygrade.Longandcarefullythe
Irishmanlookedabouthimandthen,turningsuddenlyuponthestillsilentdriver,
hegazedathimforafullminutebeforesaying,withelaboratemockformality:
"Itmaybe,Sorr,thatbein'yearesichahellavaconversationalist,utwouldn't
taxyervocalpowersbeyandtheirshtrengthavIshouldbesobaouldastoaxye
fwhatthedivilplaceisthis?"
Thesoft,slowdrawloftheotheranswered:"Sure.ThatthereisNo
Man'sMountainsahead."
"NoMan's,isut;an'utlooksthatsame.Wheredidyesayyewasthryin'togo?"
"We'reheadedforRubioCity.ThishereistheoldSanFelipetrail."
"Uh-huh!Sowe'regoin'toRubioCity,arewe?ForallIknowthatmayaswell
benowhereatall.Well,well,ut'snewsavintheresttome.Wearegoin'toRubio
City.Utmaybethatyewouldexshplain,Sorr,howIcometobehereatall."
"SureMike!YoucomeinthisherewagonfromSanFelipe."
Atthedrawlinganswerthehotbloodflamedinthefaceoftheshort-tempered
Irishmanandtheveinsinhisthickneckstoodoutasiftheywouldburst."Me
name'snotMikeatall,butPatrickMooney!"heroared."I'vetwogoodeyesin
meheadthatcanseeyerdangedoldwagonformeself,an'fwhat'smoreI'vetwo
goodhandsthatcanbreakyeinbitsfortheimpedentdriedherrin'thatyeare,athinkin'yecantakemeanywhereatallbeabductin'mewidoutmeconsent.For
asupo'watherI'dgotoye—"Heturnedquicklytolookbehindhimforthe
driverwascalmlypointingtowardtheendoftheseat."Fwhatisut?Fwhat's
there?"hedemanded.


"Thewater,"drawledthedark-facedman."Idon'treckonyoudrunkitallthe
othertime."
Againthebigmanliftedthecanteenanddranklonganddeep.Whenhehad
wipedhismouthwiththebackofhishairyhandandhadreturnedthecanteento
itsplace,hefacedhiscompanion—hisblueeyestwinklingwithpositive
approval.Scratchinghisheadmeditatively,hesaid:"An'allbecauseavme
wantin'toenjoytheblessin'san'advantagesavcivilizationaginaftherthreelong
monthsinthatdangedgradin'camp,asistherightaviveryhealthymanwidhis
payinhispocket."
Theteamsterlaughedsoftly."Youwassureenjoyin'ofita-plenty."
Theotherlookedathimwithquickenedinterest."Yewasthere?"heasked.
"Some,"wasthelaconicreply.
TheIrishmanscratchedhisheadagainwithapuzzledair."Idisremimberentire.
Wastheresomethroublemaybe?"
Theothergrinned."Thingswasmovin'afew."
PatrickMooneynoddedhishead."Uh-huh:mostlytheydounderthim
circumstances.Avcoursethere'dbeapoliceman,ormaybetwo?"
"Five,"saidthemanwiththelines,gently.
"Five!HowlyMither!Ididmesilfproud.An'didtheyhavethewagon?Sure
theywud—fivepolicemenniverwalked.Wanavthimmight,avutwashandylike,butfive—niver!Tellme,man,whoelsewasattheparty?No—howldona
minut!"Heinterruptedhimself,"Thimcopsstimulatememimoryabit.Was
therenotabunchavsailor-menfromwanavthimbigships?"
Thedrivernodded.
Theother,pleasedwiththesuccessofhismentaleffort,continued:"Uh-huh—
an'Iwashavin'apeacefuldhrinkwidthimallwhinsomewanmadeimpedent
remarkstouchin'meappearance,orancestors,Idisremimberwhich.Butwhere
wasyou?"


"Well,yousee,"explainedthedriverinhisslowway,"hitwaslikethis.That
theresaloonwereplumbfullofsailor-menallexceptin'youan'me.Iwasaheap
admirin'ofthewayyouhandledthatbighombrewhatopenedthemeetin'and
alsohistwopardners,whoaimedtobackhisplay.Hitwassureprettywork.The
restofthecrowdsorto'bunchedinoneendoftherooman'whenyoubegan
addressin'thecongregation,sotospeak,onthehabits,character,customsand
breedin'ofsailor-meningeneralan'thepresentcompanyinparticular,Iseeright
therethatyouwasa-bitin'offmore'nyoucouldchaw.Itwasn'tnoway
reasonablethatanyhumancouldhandlethatwholeoutfitwithonlyjusthisbare
hands,soIedgedoveryourway,plumbedifiedbyyourremarks,andwhenthe
rushforthemourners'benchcomeIunlimberedan'headedthestampedepronto.
ThenImademylittleproposition.Itold'emthat,bein'theonlyindividualonthe
premisesnotasailor-mannoranIrishman,Ifeltitmydutytorefereethe
obsequies,sotospeak,andthatoddsoftwentytoone,nottomentionknives,
wasstrictlyaginmyconvictions.Moreover,bein'thesolean'onlyuninterested
audience,Ihadrights.ThenIofferstobetmypile,evenmoney,thatyoucould
handlethewholebunch,takin''emtwoatathrow.Iknoweditweresomeodds,
butInoticedthatthemthreewhatopenedthemeetin'wasstillunderthe
influence.AlsoIundertooktoseethatspecificationswasfaithfullyfulfilled."
"MitheravGawd,fwhatasociable!"brokeintheIrishman."An'metoodhrunk
toremimberrightly!Didtheytakeyerbet?Yesun-burnedlimbavthedivil—did
theytakeut?"
"Theysuredid,"drawledthedriver."Ihadmygunonthemallthetime."
"Hurroo!An'didIdout?Tellmequick—didIdout?SureIcouldaisyav
nothin'happened."
"Youlaidyourfirstpairontopofthethree,thenthepolicecalledthegameand
thebetswereoff."
"Theypinchedthehouse?"
"Theytookyouan'me."
"Sure!avcoursetheywouldtakeustwo.'TisthimSanFelipepoliceknowstheir
duty.Buthowcouldtheydout?"
"Iforgetdetailsrighthere,bein'temporarilyincapacitatedbyoneo'themhittin'


mewithaclubfrombehind.Iwokeupinacellwithyou."
TheIrishmanrubbedthebackofhishead."Cometothinkavut,Ihaveabitava
bumponmeownnoodlethat'tislikehelpstoexshplainthecell.Butfwhatinthe
divil'snamebrungushereinthisGawd-forsakenNobody'sPlace?Passme
anotherpipefulan'tellmethatavyecan."
Thedriverpassedoverthetobaccosackand,stoppinghisteamforanotherrest,
rolledacigaretteforhimself."That'seasy,"hesaid."ThishereisJefferson
Worth'soutfit.Hewantedmetostarthomethismorning,sohegotmeoff.I
don'tknowhowhedoneit;mostlynobodyknowshowJeffersonWorthdoes
things.Therewasamanwithhimwhoknowedyouand,asIwassome
disinclinedtoleaveyouunderthecircumstances,Mr.Worthfixeditupforyou,
too,thenwealljestthrowedyouinandfetchedyoualong.Mr.Worthwiththe
othermanandhiskidarecomin'oninabuckboard.They'llcatchupwithus
wherewecampto-night.Idon'tmindsayin'thatIplumbadmiredyourspiritand
actionand—sizin'upthatpolicebunch—Icouldseeyourtalentswouldsurebe
wastedinthatSanFelipecountryforsometimetocome.There'llbeplentyof
roominRubioCityforyou,leastwise'tillyoudrawyourpayagain.Ifyoudon't
liketheaccommodationsyou'regettin'Ireckonyou'dbettermakegoodyourtalk
backthereandwe'llseewhetheryoutakesthisoutfitbacktoSanFelipeorI
takesherontoRubioCity."
TheIrishmanspatemphaticallyoverthewheel."An''tisagintlemanwidproper
instinctsyeare,though,asarule,Ihowldutimpolitetocarryagun.Butafther
all,'tisamatteravopinionan'I'mfreetoadmitthatthereareoccasions.Anyhow
yehandleutwidgracean'intilligence.An',fistsershticks,erknives,erguns,
that'sthethingthatmarkstheman.'TisnotPatrickMooneythat'llfaulta
gintlemanforwaysthathecan'thelpowin'tohisimproperbringin'up.Avye
don'tmind,willyetellmefwhattheycallye?I'llnotbesoindelicateastoaxyer
name.Fwhattheycallyewillbeenough."
Theotherlaughed."MynameisJoeBrannin.TheycallmeTexas
Joe—Tex,forshort."
"Goodbhoy,Tex!Yelookthedivilavalotlikearedherrin',butthat'snotsicha
badfish,an'yehavetherightflavor.Howcouldyehelput?Branninan'Texasis
handlestopullamanthroughhellwid.Buttellmethis—whoisthismanthat
saysheknowsme?"


TexasJoeshookhisheadand,pickingouthislines,calledtohisteam.When
theywereunderwayagainhesaid:"Ididn'thearhisnamebutIjudgefromthe
talkthatheisoneo'themtherecivilengineers,an'thathe'sheadin'forRubio
Citytobuildtherailroadthat'sgoin'throughtothecoast.Mr.Worthtoldmethat
therewouldbeanothermanandakidtogobackwithus,butIknowthatMr.
Worthhadn'tneverseenthembeforehimself."
Patshiftedhisheavybulktofacethedriverand,removinghispipefromhis
mouth,askedwithdeliberation:"An'doyemanetotellmethatthisplacewe're
goin'toisonthenewlineavtheSouthwesternan'Continental?"
"Sure.They'rebuildin'intoRubioCityfromtheEastnow."
TheIrishmanbecameexcited."An'thismanthatknowsme—thisengineer—is
heafine,big,up-standin'manwidbrowneyesan'thelookavaking?"
"Iain'tneverseennokings,"drawledTex,"buttherestofitsurefitshim."
"Well,fwhatdoyethinkavthat?'TistheSeerhimsilf,orI'mnotthesonavme
ownmither.Iwashearin'inFrisco,whereIwentthelasttimeIdrawedmepay,
thathewasliketobeontheS.an'C.extension.'TwasthatthattookmetoSan
Felipe,bein'wishfultogetajobwidhimagain.Well,well,an'tothinkut'sthe
Seerhimsilf!"
"What'sthatyoucallhim?"
"TheSeer.Idisremimberhisothernamebuthe'sgotwanallshtraightan'proper.
He'sthatkind.TheycallhimtheSeerbecauseavhistalkavthegreatthingsthat
willbedoin'inthiscountryavnorainatallwhinignorantsavageslikeyersilf
learnhowtousethewatherthat'sintheriversforirrigation.I'veheardhimsay
mesilfthathundredsavthousandsavacresavthesebigdesertswillbeturned
intofarms,an'allthatbewhathecalls'Reclamation.''Twasforthatsomedanged
yellow-leggedsurveyorgivehimthename,an'utshtuck.Butmostavthe
engineers—theraleengineersdoyemind—iswidhim,thoughtheydobejokin'
himthedivilavalotaboutwhattheycallshisvisions."
"Hedidn'tlooklikehewaslocoed,"saidTexasJoethoughtfully,"buthe'ssure
someoffonthattheredesertpropositionasyou'llseebeforewelandsinRubio."
"Idunno—I'veseensomequarethingsinmetimeinthewayavbigjobsthat


nobodythoughtcouldbedoneatall.Butlaveutgo.'Tisnotthelikesavmean'
youthat'squalifiedtogivejudgmentonsichjaniusesastheSeer,who,Iheard
tell,hastherighttoputmorebig-manin'lettersaftherhisnamethanyehave
teethinyerhead."
"Allthesameitain'tthebrandonahorsethatmakeshimtravel.Aman'llsure
needsomethin'moreheftythanlettersafterhisnamewhenhegoesupagainst
thedesert."
"Well,laveutgoatthat.Wait'tilyeknowhim.Butfwhat'sthisyertellin'me
aboutakid?TheSeerhasnofamilyatallbuthimsilfan'hisjob."
Texasgrinned."Maybenot,pard;buthe'ssuregottogetherpartofafamilythis
trip."
"Isutagurl,orabhoy?"
"Boy—'boutaten-year-old,I'dsay."
TheIrishmanshookhisheaddoubtfully."Idunno.'TisaquarethingfortheSeer.
Avitwasme,oryou,now—buttheSeer!It'sdangedquare!Buttellme,fwhat's
thisman,yerboss?'Tisagoodhealthypullhemusthavetobeseparatin'usfrom
thimSanFelipepolice."
TexasJoedeliberatedsolongbeforeansweringthisthatPatglancedathim
uneasilyseveraltimes.Atlastthedriverdrawled:"You'rerightthere;Jefferson
Worthsurehassomepull."
Patgrunted."Butfwhatdoeshedo?"
"Do?"Texswunghisteamaroundaspurofthemountainwherethetrailleads
alongthesideofacanyontoitshead.Farbelowtheyheardthetumblingroarof
astreaminitsrockycourse.
"Surethemanmustdosomething?"
"AsnearasIcanmakeoutJeffersonWorthdoeseverybody."
"Ohho!Sothat'sut?I'venocareforthecardsmesilf,butavaman'sa
professionalan'—"


"You'reoffthere,pardner.JeffersonWorthain'tthatkind.He'soneo'thesehere
financierin'sports,an'sofarasanybodythatIeverseengoes,he'sgotadead
cinch."
"Yemanehe'sabanker?"
"Sure.ThePioneerinRubioCity.Hestartedthegameintheearlydaysan'he's
beena-rollin'itupeversince.Hit'splumbcuriousaboutthisherefinancierin'
business,"continuedTex,inhisslow,meditativeway."Lookstomemostlyjest
plain,commonhold-up,onlytheydoitwithmoney'steadofagun.Intheold
daysyouusedtogetthedroponyourmanwithyoursix,allregular,an'take
whathehappenedtohaveinhisclothes.Thentheposse'dgetafteryouan'
mebbestringyouup,whichwasallright,bein'partofthegame.Nowthese
fellowslikeJeffersonWorth,theyget'syournameonsomewritin'san'whenyou
ain'tlookin'theyslipsupan'getsawaywithallyourworldlypossessions,an'the
sheriffhejestlaughsan'sayshitsgoodbusiness.ThishereWorthmanisjest
aboutthecoolest,smoothest,hardestpropositioninthegame.Hefairmakesmy
backhairraise.Thecommonruno'peopleain'tgotnomoreshowstackin'up
aginJeffersonWorththantwo-bitswortho'icehasinhell.Accordin'tomy
notionhit'sthisheresamefinancierin'gamethat'sa-ruinin'theWest.Thecattle
rangeisaboutallgonenow.Iftheykeepsitupwewon'tbenobetterouthere
thansomeo'themplacesI'veheardaboutbackEast."
"'Tisadangedignorantsavageyeare,liketherestavyerthribe,widyertalkav
ruinin'theWest.Fwhatwudthiscounthrybewithoutmoney?'Tisthimsame
financiersthathavebrungyetherailroads,an'thecities,an'theschools,an'the
churches,an'alltheotherblessin'san'joysofcivilizationthatye'vegottotake
whitheryelikesutornot.LookattheSeer,now.Fwhatcouldamanlikehim—
anengineer,mindye—fwhatcouldtheSeerdowidoutthemenwidmoneyto
backhim?"
TheIrishman'swordswereansweredbyacheerful"Whoa!"andacrashofthe
brakesasTexasJoebroughthisteamtoastandnearthespringattheheadofthe
canyon."Wecamphere,"heannounced."Thisisthelastwaterwestrikeuntilwe
makeitoverthePasstoMountainSpringsonthedesertside.JeffersonWorth
willbealongwiththeSeerandhiskidmostanytimenow."
Alittlebeforeduskthebanker,withhistwocompanions,arrived.


"Hello,Pat!"Themanwholeapedfromthebuckboardandstrodetowardthe
waitingIrishmanwastallandbroad,withtheheadandchinofasoldier,andthe
browneyesofadreamer.Hewasdressedinroughcorduroys,blueflannelshirt,
lacedboots,andStetson,andhegreetedtheburlyIrishmanasafellow-laborer.
Ajoyfulgrinspreadoverthebatteredfeaturesofthegladiatorashegraspedthe
Seer'soutstretchedhand."Well,dangmebutut'sgladIamtoseeye,Sorr,inthis
divil'sownland.Ihadmenaturaldoubts,avcourse,whinIwokeupinthe
wagon,butut'sallright.'TisproudIamtobeabductedbyye,Sorr."
"Abducted!"Theengineer'slaughawoketheechoesinthecanyon."Itwasa
rescue,man!"
"Well,well,letutgoatthat!Buttellme,Sorr"—heloweredhisvoicetoa
confidentialrumble—"fwhat'sthisIhearthatyehaveyerbhoywidye?SureI
niverknewthatyewasamanavfamily."Helookedtowardtheslenderladwho,
withthereadinessofagrownman,washelpingthedriverofthebuckboardto
unhitchhisteamoffourbroncos."'Tisagoodladheis,orI'maDutchman."
"You'reright,Pat,Abeisagoodboy,"theSeeransweredgravely."Ipickedhim
upinaminingcampontheedgeoftheMojaveDesertwhenIwasrunningaline
ofpreliminarysurveysthroughthatcountryfortheS.andC.lastyear.Hewas
borninthecampandhismotherdiedwhenhewasababy.Godknowshowhe
pulledthrough!Youknowwhatthoseminingplacesare.Hisfather,FrankLee,
waskilledinadrunkenrowwhileIwasthere,andAbeshowedsomuchcool
nerveanddownrightmanlinessthatIofferedhimaplacewithmyparty.Hehas
beenwithmeeversince."
Pat'svoicewashuskyashesaid:"Iaxyerpardon,Sorr,formeblunderin'
impedenceaboutyerbein'amanavfamily.I'madangedoldrough-neck,widno
educationbutmetwofists,an'nomannersatall."
Theengineer'sreplywaspreventedbytheapproachofJeffersonWorthwhohad
beentalkingwithTexasJoe.Thebanker'sheadcamebutlittleabovetheSeer's
shouldersandincomparisonwiththeIrishman'sheavybulkheappearedalmost
insignificant,whilehisplainbusinesssuitofgrayseemedaltogetheroutofplace
inthewildsurroundings.Hissmooth-shavenfacewasanexpressionlessgray
maskandhisdeep-setgrayeyesturnedfromtheIrishmantotheengineer
withoutahintofemotion.Thetwomenfeltthatsomewherebehindthatgray


masktheywerebeingcarefullyestimated—measured—valued—aspossible
factorsinsomefar-reachingplan.HespoketotheSeer,andhisvoicewas
withoutasuggestionofcolor:"Iseethatyourfriendhasrecovered."Itwasas
thoughhestatedafactthathehadjustverified.
LaughingatthememoryoftheIrishman'sSanFelipeexperience,theengineer
said:"Mr.Worth,permitmetointroduceMr.PatrickMooneywhomIhave
knownforyearsasthebestbossofagradinggangintheWest.Pat,thisisMr.
JeffersonWorth,presidentofthePioneerBankinRubioCity."
TheIrishmanclutchedathistatteredhat-briminembarrassedacknowledgment
oftheSeer'sformality.JeffersonWorth,frombehindhisgraymask,saidinhis
exact,colorlessvoice:"Helooksasthoughheoughttohandlemen."
AsthebankerpassedontowardthebigwagontheIrishmandrewclosetothe
Seerandwhisperedhoarsely:"Nowfwhatthehellkindavamanisthat?'Tisthe
truth,Sorr,thatwhinhelookedatmeoutavthatgrave-yardfaceIcouldbare
kapefromcrossin'mesilf!"


CHAPTERII.
JEFFERSONWORTH'SOFFERING.

WhendaybrokeoverthetopmostridgesofNoMan'sMountains,Jefferson
Worth'soutfitwasreadytomove.Thedriverofthelighterrigwithitsfour
broncossetoutforSanFelipe.OnthefrontseatofthebigwagonTexasJoe
pickeduphisreins,sortedthemcarefully,andglancedoverhisshoulderathis
employer."Allset?"
"Goahead."
"You,Buck!Molly!"Theleadmulesstraightenedtheirtraces."Jack!Pete!"As
thebrakewasreleasedwithaclashandrattleofironrods,thewheelersthrew
theirweightintotheircollarsandthewagonmovedahead.
Grim,tireless,world-oldsentinels,NoMan'sMountainsstoodguardbetween
thefertilelandontheirseawardsideandthedesolateforgottenwastesofthe
East.Theysaidtothecountryofgreenlife,ofprogressandgrowthand
civilization,thatmarchedtotheirlineontheWest,"Halt!"anditstopped.Tothe
landofleanwant,ofgraydeath,ofgaunthunger,andtorturingthirst,thatcrept
totheirfeetontheotherside,"Stop!"anditcamenofarther.Withnolandtotill,
nomineraltodig,theirverypovertywastheirprotection.Withanairofgrim
finality,theydeclaredstronglythatastheyhadalwaysbeentheywouldalways
remain;and,atthebeginningofmystory,saveforthatone,slender,man-made
trail,theirhoaryboasthadremainedunchallenged.
Steadily,butwithfrequentrestsonthegrades,JeffersonWorth'soutfitclimbed
towardthesummitandalittlebeforenoongainedthePass.Theloud,rattling
rumbleofthewagonasthetiresbumpedandgroundoverthestony,rock-floored
way,withthesharpringandclatteroftheiron-shodhoofsoftheteam,echoed,
echoed,andechoedagain.Loudly,wildly,therudesoundsassaultedthestillness


untilthequietseemedhopelesslyshatteredbythedin.Softly,tamely,thesounds
driftedawayinthecleardistance;throughgrovesofliveoak,thicketsof
greasewood,juniper,manzanitaandsage;intocanyonandwash;frombluffand
ledge;alongslopeandspurandshoulder;overridgeandsaddleandpeak;
fainting,dying—theimpotentsoundsofman'spassingsankintothestillnessand
werelost.Whentheteamhaltedforabriefrestitwasinamomentasifthe
silencehadneverbeenbroken.Grim,awful,thehillsgavenosignsofman's
presence,gavethatcreepingbitoflifenoheed.
AtMountainSpring—alonelylittlepoolonthedesertsideofthehugewall—
theystoppedfordinner.Whenthemealwasover,TexasJoe,withtheassistance
ofPat,filledthewaterbarrels,whiletheboybusiedhimselfwiththecanteenand
theSeerandJeffersonWorthlookedon.
"'Tisadhrycounthryahead,I'mthinking',"remarkedtheIrishmaninquiringlyas
heliftedanotherdrippingbucket.
"Some,"returnedTex."Therearethreewaterholesbetweenhereandtheriver
wherethere'swatersometimes.Mostly,though,whenyouneeditworst,there
ain'tnonethere,an'Ireckonadrywaterholeisaboutthemostdiscouragin'
propositionthereis.They'llallbedrythistrip.Therewasn'tnothin'butmudat
WolfWellswhenwecomethroughlastweek."
Againthebarrenrocksandthegrim,forbiddinghillsechoedtheloudsoundof
wheelandhoof.Downthesteepflankofthemountain,withscreaming,grinding
brakes,theythunderedandclatteredintothenarrowhall-wayofDevil'sCanyon
withitssheerwallsandshadowygloom.Thelittlestreamthattrickleddown
fromthetinyspotofgreenatthespringtriedbravelytofollowbutsoonsank
exhaustedintothedrywaste.Acoolwind,likeadraftthroughatunnel,wasin
theirfaces.Afterperhapstwohoursofthisthewaywidenedout,thesidesofthe
canyongrewlowerwithnowandthengapsandbreaks.Thenthewallsgaveway
tolow,roundedhills,throughwhichthewindingtraillay—abedofsandand
gravel—andhereandthereappearedclumpsofgreasewoodandcactiofseveral
varieties.
Atlengththeypassedoutfrombetweenthelastofthefoot-hillsandsuddenly—
asthoughamightycurtainwerelifted—theyfacedthedesert.Attheirfeetthe
Mesalayinablazeofwhitesunlight,andbeyondandbelowtheedgeofthe
benchthevastKing'sBasincountry.


AttheedgeoftheMesaTexashaltedhisteamandthelittlepartylookedoutand
awayoverthoseawfulreachesofdesolatesolitude.TheSeerandPatuttered
involuntaryexclamations.JeffersonWorth,Texas,andAbeweresilent,butthe
boy'sthinfeatureswereaglowwitheagerenthusiasm,andthefaceofthedriver
revealedaninterestinthescenethatyearsoffamiliaritycouldnotentirely
deaden,butthegraymaskofthebankerbetrayednoemotion.
Inthatview,ofsuchmagnitudethatmilesmeantnothing,therewasnotasignof
mansavetheoneslenderthreadofroadthatwassosoonlostinthedistance.
Fromhorizontohorizon,sofarthattheeyeachedintheefforttocomprehendit,
therewasnocloudtocastashadow,andthedeepskypoureditsresistlessflood
oflightuponthevastdunplainwithsavagefury,asiftobeatintohelplessness
anylivingcreaturethatmightchancetobecaughtthereon.Andthedesert,
receivingthatfloodfromthewide,hotsky,mysteriouslywovewithitsoftscarfs
oflilac,mistyveilsofpurpleandfilmycurtainsofroseandpearlandgold;
strangelyformedwithitwidelakesofbluerimmedwithphantomhillsofred
andviolet—constantlychanging,shifting,sceneonscene,asdreampictures
shiftandchange.
Onlythestrange,silentlifethat,throughlongyears,thedeserthadtaughtto
endureitshardshipswasthere—thelizard,horned-toad,leanjack-rabbit,gaunt
coyote,andtheirkind.Onlythehardgrowththattheageshadevolveddottedthe
flooroftheBasinintheneardistance—thesalt-bushandgreasewood,withhere
andthereclumpsofmesquite.
Andoveritall—overthestrangehardlife,theweird,constantlyshiftingscenes,
thewondrous,ever-changingcolors—wasthedominant,insistent,compelling
spiritoftheland;abrooding,dreadfulsilence;awaiting—waiting—waiting;a
mysticcallthatwasatonceathreatandapromise;astilldrawingoftheline
acrosswhichnomanmightgoandlive,savethosemastermenwhoshouldwin
theright.
Afterawhiletheengineer,pointing,said:"ThelineoftheSouthwesternand
Continentalmustfollowthebaseofthosehillsawayoverthere—isthatright,
Texas?"
"That'llbeaboutit,"thedriveranswered."Ihearyou'regoin'throughSan
AntonioPass,an'that'stothenorth.RubioCityliesabouthere—"hepointeda
littlesouthofeast."Ourroadrunsthroughthemsandhillsthatyoucansee


shinin'likegolda-wayoverthere.DryRiverCrossin'isjestbeyond.Youcansee
LoneMountainoffheretothesouth.Hit'llsurebesomewarmdownthere.Look
atthemdust-devil'sdancin'.An'overthere,whereyouseethatyellowmistlike,
isabigsandstorm.Weain'tlikelytogetalongonethistimeo'theyear.Butyou
can'ttellwhatthisolddesert'lldo;she'ssuresomeuncertain.LaPalmadela
ManodeDios,theInjunscallit,andIalwaysthoughtthat—allthings
considerin'—thenamefitsmightyclose.Youcanseehit'sjestagreatbigbasin."
"TheHollowofGod'sHand."repeatedtheSeerinalowtone.Heliftedhishat
withanunconsciousgestureofreverence.
TheIrishman,astheengineertranslated,crossedhimself."Howly
Mither,fwhataname!"
JeffersonWorthspoke."Driveon,Texas."
Andso,withtheyellowdust-devilsdancingalongtheirroadandthat
yellowcloudinthedistance,theymoveddowntheslope—downintoThe
King'sBasin—intoLaPalmadelaManodeDios,TheHollowofGod's
Hand.
"Isthattrue,sir?"askedAbeoftheSeer.
"Iswhattrue,son?"
"WhatTexassaidabouttheocean."
"Yesit'strue.ThelowestpointofthisBasinisnearlythreehundredfeetbelow
sealevel.Therailroadwearegoingtobuildfollowsrightaroundtherimonthe
othersideoverthere.Thisslopethatwearegoingdownnowistheancient
beach."Then,whiletheypushedonintothesilenceandtheheatofthatdreadful
land,theengineertoldtheboyandhiscompanionshowtheageshadwrought
withriverandwaveandsunandwindtomakeTheKing'sBasinDesert.
WolfWellstheyfounddryasTexashadanticipated.PhantomLakealsowasdry.
Occasionallytheycrosseddry,ancientwatercoursesmadebytheriverwhenthe
landwasbeingformed;sometimestherewereglassy,hard,barealkaliflats;
againthetrailledthroughjungle-likepatchesofdesertgrowthortwistedand
woundbetweenhighhummocks.Alwaystherewasthewide,hotsky,theglaring
floodoflightunbrokenbyshadowmassestorelievetheeyeandreflectedhotly


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