Desert Gold (Prologue, page 2 of 23)


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Figures darker than the gloom approached and took shape, and in the
light turned out to be those of a white man and a heavily packed burro.

"Hello there," the man called, as he came to a halt and gazed about
him. "I saw your fire. May I make camp here?"

Cameron came forth out of the shadow and greeted his visitor, whom he
took for a prospector like himself. Cameron resented the breaking of
his lonely campfire vigil, but he respected the law of the desert.

The stranger thanked him, and then slipped the pack from his burro.
Then he rolled out his pack and began preparations for a meal. His
movements were slow and methodical.

Cameron watched him, still with resentment, yet with a curious and
growing interest. The campfire burst into a bright blaze, and by its
light Cameron saw a man whose gray hair somehow did not seem to make
him old, and whose stooped shoulders did not detract from an impression
of rugged strength.

"Find any mineral?" asked Cameron, presently.

His visitor looked up quickly, as if startled by the sound of a human
voice. He replied, and then the two men talked a little. But the
stranger evidently preferred silence. Cameron understood that. He
laughed grimly and bent a keener gaze upon the furrowed, shadowy face.
Another of those strange desert prospectors in whom there was some
relentless driving power besides the lust for gold! Cameron felt that
between this man and himself there was a subtle affinity, vague and
undefined, perhaps born of the divination that here was a desert
wanderer like himself, perhaps born of a deeper, an unintelligible
relation having its roots back in the past. A long-forgotten sensation
stirred in Cameron's breast, one so long forgotten that he could not
recognize it. But it was akin to pain.

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