Desert Gold (Chapter 1, page 2 of 12)


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Chapter 1

Gale was almost at the end of his financial resources, which fact
occasioned him to turn away from a pretentious hotel and to ask his
guide for a cheaper lodging-house. When this was found, a sight of the
loungers in the office, and also a desire for comfort, persuaded Gale
to change his traveling-clothes for rough outing garb and boots.

"Well, I'm almost broke," he soliloquized, thoughtfully. "The governor
said I wouldn't make any money. He's right--so far. And he said I'd be
coming home beaten. There he's wrong. I've got a hunch that something
'll happen to me in this Greaser town."

He went out into a wide, whitewashed, high-ceiled corridor, and from
that into an immense room which, but for pool tables, bar, benches,
would have been like a courtyard. The floor was cobblestoned, the
walls were of adobe, and the large windows opened like doors. A blue
cloud of smoke filled the place. Gale heard the click of pool balls
and the clink of glasses along the crowded bar. Bare-legged,
sandal-footed Mexicans in white rubbed shoulders with Mexicans mantled
in black and red. There were others in tight-fitting blue uniforms
with gold fringe or tassels at the shoulders. These men wore belts
with heavy, bone-handled guns, and evidently were the rurales, or
native policemen. There were black-bearded, coarse-visaged Americans,
some gambling round the little tables, others drinking. The pool
tables were the center of a noisy crowd of younger men, several of whom
were unsteady on their feet. There were khaki-clad cavalrymen
strutting in and out.

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