Desert Gold (Chapter 1, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 1

Richard Gale reflected that his sojourn in the West had been what his
disgusted father had predicted--idling here and there, with no
objective point or purpose.

It was reflection such as this, only more serious and perhaps somewhat
desperate, that had brought Gale down to the border. For some time the
newspapers had been printing news of Mexican revolution, guerrilla
warfare, United States cavalry patrolling the international line,
American cowboys fighting with the rebels, and wild stories of bold
raiders and bandits. But as opportunity, and adventure, too, had
apparently given him a wide berth in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, he had
struck southwest for the Arizona border, where he hoped to see some
stirring life. He did not care very much what happened. Months of
futile wandering in the hope of finding a place where he fitted had
inclined Richard to his father's opinion.

It was after dark one evening in early October when Richard arrived in
Casita. He was surprised to find that it was evidently a town of
importance. There was a jostling, jabbering, sombreroed crowd of
Mexicans around the railroad station. He felt as if he were in a
foreign country. After a while he saw several men of his nationality,
one of whom he engaged to carry his luggage to a hotel. They walked up
a wide, well-lighted street lined with buildings in which were bright
windows. Of the many people encountered by Gale most were Mexicans.
His guide explained that the smaller half of Casita lay in Arizona, the
other half in Mexico, and of several thousand inhabitants the majority
belonged on the southern side of the street, which was the boundary
line. He also said that rebels had entered the town that day, causing
a good deal of excitement.

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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